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Not all Angels have Wings

Chapter Text

“Get down! Take cover!” 

Dean threw himself to the ground, landing roughly on his shoulder where pain shot through him from an old bullet wound he’d acquired a few months ago. Dean didn’t have time to care about trying to shift into a more comfortable position as mortar rounds went off overhead. Dean curled into a ball and shut his eyes, as screams came from every direction; there was nothing he could do to help. 

“Medic! We need a medic!”

Another round hit so close to Dean that he felt it ricochet up his bones and through his teeth. There was another soldier crouched beside Dean, one hand on top of his muddy helmet, the other pushed into the ground to steady himself. Dean peered through half-open eyelids to see that it was Adam, a young scrappy boy around Dean’s age. 

“Adam, get down!” Dean shouted over the scream of another round coming through the sky. 

Adam’s eyes widened in fear, but before he could push himself into the mud beside Dean there was blood covering Dean’s combat jacket and Adam was struggling to breathe on the ground. 

 

Dean woke with a start. Sweat dripped from his forehead and his back was slick with moisture, his chest heaved as he tried to force air into his lungs and his heart was pumping a fast drumbeat through his head. His hands felt like they were sticky with half-dried blood, but when Dean looked down to try and rub it off, he realized his hands were bare. 

  It was just a nightmare . Dean thought. 

Except it wasn’t, it was a memory. It’d been fourteen years since Dean had been in combat and still, every night, he would wake up in terror for his life as he re-lived every terrible day he’d been through out on the field. 

Dean glanced at the clock ticking steadily beside his bed, the little hand was stuck on the four and the big hand was moving slowly after the five: 4:25. It was only 4:25, Dean hadn’t even been asleep for three hours.

 He knew he wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep so instead, Dean climbed out from under his covers and headed into his kitchen. He scrubbed a hand down his face to clear away the terror that was in the form of sweat and he pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes, as if that would cleanse his mind of all his terrible memories. 

Dean opened one of his cabinets and took out a cocktail glass, he moved over to a crate by the fridge and pulled out a bottle of whiskey; Dean poured himself a glass and then moved to his couch. 

As Dean sipped at his whiskey his eyes wandered over his apartment, taking in the record player that sat at the far side of the room next to the fireplace, listening to the hum of his fridge as it kept his food cool. 

Dean tried to relax, to let the old tattered blue couch underneath him soak up his fears, but it was no use. No matter how hard Dean tried, he couldn’t keep his hands from shaking, he couldn’t stop his eyes from moving around the apartment, trying to find the best exit if someone were to attack him. 

You’re safe . Dean told himself every time he had one of these panic attacks. You’re fine, you’re safe, the war is over, you don’t have to be afraid anymore

Dean sat there, breathing slowly, whiskey glass in one hand, the other clenched in a tense fist where it rested on his knee, he sat there until the faint orange of dawn started to seep through the curtains. 

Dean made himself breakfast of eggs and bacon with a strong cup of black coffee on the side. It was nearing eight o’clock when Dean finished doing the dishes and managed to get himself into some clothes. 

Today, Dean was wearing jeans, held up by a brown leather belt, a black skin-tight t-shirt, a leather jacket, and brown boots. He didn’t bother combing his hair, he let it stick up a bit at the front and smoothed down the sides with his fingertips. 

With ease, that he didn’t have mere hours ago, Dean swiped his car keys from the counter and headed out the door. He descended two sets of stairs until he reached the street where his brand new ‘59 Cadillac waited for him, its fresh black paint shining in the early sun. Dean had been saving up money for years so he could buy a good car and had treated himself to the Cadillac back in March, it was October now and the car was still sparkling, not a scratch on her. 

Dean started the engine, letting the purr of it wash over him, and then backed out of his parking space on the side of the road and let the familiarity of his commute to work relax him even further. 

Dean owned a bar he had named The Winchester Tavern, for lack of a better idea, and he worked as a bartender there on most days or he cooked in the kitchen, grilling up burgers. Dean always opened his bar himself, he never let any of his hires do it for him. It wasn’t that Dean didn’t trust his employees, some of them were his best friends, it was that every morning Dean needed some time to be alone in his bar before any of the workers came in, his routine was what kept him grounded after his nightmares. 

Dean’s bar was about ten miles away from his apartment complex so it only took him a little less than ten minutes to get there,  and that was if he was going the speed limit- which was something Dean rarely abided by- but today, he decided to take it slow, enjoying the scenery of the town.

 He spotted a woman going for an early morning jog with a dog's leash clasped in her hand as the shepherd ran beside her, there was a man dressed in a sharp suit walking swiftly with a briefcase swinging from his left hand, there was a mother and a daughter holding hands as they walked down the street looking through shop windows; it was the normal hustle and bustle of Lawrence Kansas and Dean couldn’t help but smile to himself. 

Dean reached his bar and turned onto the back road that would lead him to the parking lot. He pulled into the slot furthest from the entrance and plucked the keys from the ignition before sliding out of his Cadillac and walking across the parking lot towards his most prized possession. 

Dean turned the key in the door and stepped into his bar. The smells of alcohol, faded cigarette smoke, and grilled meat greeted Dean as he walked in and he took a deep breath, relishing in the familiar scents. His eyes moved along every inch of his bar, checking to make sure everything was intact and that no one had tried to rob him in the night. Everything looked fine, as far as Dean could tell.

The red high padded stools still sat neatly pushed up under the long polished bar table, the ten or so tables that made up the ‘restaurant’ part of his bar were all untouched from how he’d laid them out last night before he left, and the black tiled floor was spotless, Dean could see his reflection staring back at him from the ground. 

Dean moved onto the kitchen and double-checked that the fridge was stocked with what they’d need for the day, it was, save a small lack of hamburger meat but that shouldn’t be a problem as Dean had put in a request a few days ago for a shipment of meat which should be arriving sometime tomorrow; so Dean figured they’d be set in that regard. 

Dean then checked behind the bar, counting the number of bottles he had of each form of alcohol, there were definitely enough bottles, so Dean straightened up and pulled his apron out from under the bar table. He folded it in half and then wrapped it around his waist before he plucked a clean towel from where it was sitting beside a bottle of tequila and began to wipe down the already clean counter, just in case any dust had settled there during the night. 

His hands swept over the shiny surface in slow circular motions and he hummed to himself as he worked, letting the rhythm of the movement pull him back into the reality that the war was over and that he was safe. 

After Dean finished with the counter, he tucked the towel into the back of his jeans and then moved towards the front door where the CLOSED sign currently hung in the window. Dean flipped the sign over, now letting the word OPEN face the street. 

As Dean was moving back behind his bar the back door opened and in stepped Dean’s best friend and war buddy, Benny Lafitte. Benny had a stocky build and a well trimmed beard with short brown hair and a smile that could light up any room. Benny was head chef and Dean’s assistant manager. 

“Morning chief,” Benny said as he moved behind the bar to greet Dean. 

“Mornin’ Benny,” Dean replied, offering his friend a smile. 

“Sleep alright?” Benny asked. 

Benny was the only person Dean had told about his nightmares, mainly because Benny was the only one who would understand, he’d lived through the same war Dean had, he had the same nightmares. 

Dean just shrugged. “I slept as well as I usually do.” 

“That bad huh?” 

Dean shook his head with a roll of his eyes. “I got three hours, which on some level is better than not getting any sleep at all. What about you?”

Benny grinned and boasted, “I got five hours.” 

Dean raised his eyebrows at Benny in disbelief. “ Five hours? Really?” 

“Yup. Best I’ve slept in a long time.” 

“Well, I’m glad to see one of us is moving up in the world,” Dean said with a laugh. 

Benny slapped Dean on the back as he moved past him to make his way to the kitchen. “You’ll get there chief.” 

Dean moved on to organizing the glasses on the shelf behind the bar and dusting them out. He heard Benny start chopping something in the kitchen and heard the bubbling of water as it started to boil in preparation for whatever Benny was about to cook on their very limited menu, which consisted of some breakfast foods -just your basics, pancakes, eggs, toast, etc…-, three different kinds of burgers, salads, two soups, and a few small appetizers. 

Dean had just begun to start moving from table to table, checking if napkins were stocked and the ketchup bottles and salt and pepper shakers were full, when two of his favorite employees Ellen and Jo Harvelle entered the bar. Ellen was a single mother of her twenty-year old daughter Jo, she’d lost her husband to the war when Jo was only five years old. They’d moved to Lawrenece when Jo was sixteen and when Ellen came into his bar the day after they’d come to town Dean quickly took her in, offering both her and her daughter a job. Ellen hadn’t wanted to accept at first but after Dean’s insistent arguing that he was short staffed she gave in and Dean had started them the next day, Jo working tables and Ellen fixing drinks behind the bar with Dean or working in the kitchen. 

“Hey Dean,” Ellen said with a smile as the door swung shut behind her with a click. 

“Ellen,” Dean replied with a nod, “Jo.” Dean flashed Jo one of his most winning smiles and Jo flushed red from the neck up. It was no secret that Jo was harboring a crush on her much older, devilishly handsome boss, and despite Ellen telling Jo it was unprofessional and that she needed to get her life together and start going after guys her own age, Dean took it in stride and assured her that it was fine and that Jo’s feelings weren’t going to affect her job in any way. 

“Hi Dean,” Jo replied as she forced her blush back down. 

“Why don’t you get your apron on and then you can finish making sure the condiments and napkins are full on all the tables,” Dean said.

“Sure thing,” Jo replied. 

“Anything you need me to do?” Ellen asked. 

Dean sighed as he looked around the bar, his eyes searching for something to occupy Ellen, he came up blank. “I think I’ve covered everything involving the bar for right now, but you can go see if Benny needs help in the kitchen.” 

Ellen nodded and disappeared into the kitchen, her voice could barely be heard as she asked Benny what she could do.  Jo started moving around the tables, filling up salt shakers and napkin dispensers. 

Dean didn’t expect any customers for another couple of hours so when the bell above the door rang and young red headed woman in her early twenties came in, Dean had to work hard to hide his surprise. 

“Hi there,” Jo greeted her with a smile. 

“Hello,” the woman replied. 

Jo led the woman to a table and once she was seated Jo placed a menu in front of her. “I’m Jo and I’ll be your server this morning. Can I start you off with a drink?” 

“Just come coffee would be nice.” 

“You got it,” Jo replied. 

Dean heard Jo put in the order in the kitchen which was followed by the clanking of pots as either Ellen or Benny began to brew the coffee. 

The woman began perusing the menu and Dean turned back to mindlessly cleaning the counter.

 It was about twenty minutes later, when the woman had ordered French toast and was halfway through her meal, that Dean was alerted to the sound of the back door opening to announce the entrance of  his most problematic employee.

Gadreel, a tall roughly built man in his late twenties, came sauntering into the bar a smile on his face as he locked eyes with his boss. Gadreel was always late for his shift and he only did what Dean told him when it was convenient for him. Dean had half a mind to fire him but Gadreel had a way with customers, always leaving them smiling and charming them within an inch of their life, and Dean just couldn’t bring himself to sack him. 

So, instead, Dean tossed the man his apron, who caught it easily, and directed him towards the kitchen. Gadreel helped Benny with the cooking but also waited on tables with Jo. 

Dean turned his gaze back to the red headed woman and saw that she had pushed her empty plate aside and was now nose deep in a book. Dean didn’t bother calling Jo out to take care of the woman’s plate, he needed something to do anyway. Dean moved over to the table holding his lone customer and offered her a smile, which she didn’t see as all her attention was on the book. Dean glanced at the cover and saw The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe written across the front in loopy letters. 

Dean’s hands were closing around the edge of her plate which she looked up, finally noticing him. “Oh, thank you,” she said. 

Dean nodded. “Of course. Did you want to order anything else?” 

The woman shook her head. “No, thank you, I’ll just take the check please.” 

Dean gestured towards the book with his free hand. “Good book?” 

A smile broke out the woman’s face. “It’s amazing! It’s set during World War 2 and it’s about these four siblings that find their way into a magical world through a wardrobe in this professor's house, but the land is controlled by an evil queen and it’s up to them to save Narnia, that’s what the place is called, and the siblings end up getting separated and have to find their way back to each other, it’s really cool.” 

Dean smiled and let out a short laugh. “Sounds interesting.” Dean wasn’t really into fantasy literature and all that, in fact he didn’t really enjoy reading, and if the book was set during the war Dean had fought in he wasn’t exactly eager to revisit those days through fiction. “I’ll be back with your check in just a moment,” Dean said, fighting down the memories he had just worked all morning to push to the back of his mind. 

“Thank you,” the peppy woman called after him. 

Dean entered the kitchen to find Jo leaning against the counter, arms propped up behind her as she watched Benny stir a big pot of soup. Ellen was chopping vegetables on the long table that was set up in the middle of the kitchen, and Gadreel was patting together burgers. 

“Hey, Jo,” Dean said as he entered, the dirty plate held aloft. “Remember to check on your customers once and awhile.” 

Jo’s eyes snapped to Dean and embarrassment flooded to her cheeks. “Oh shit, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it just don’t let it happen again,” Dean replied softly, letting her know he wasn’t mad. “She does need her check though, which I think you can handle.” 

Jo nodded and then picked up the woman’s check and headed back out of the room. 

“Sorry,” Ellen said as she looked up from chopping a tomato. “I shouldn’t have let her get distracted.” 

Dean shook his head and held up a hand. “It’s not your fault Ellen, there’s only one customer right now, it’s no big deal.” 

Looking unconvinced, Ellen returned to her tomato and Dean left the kitchen to stand back behind his bar. He saw Jo walking away from the woman, check in hand, and Dean watched as the woman’s eyes followed Jo’s back, skimming her body up and down. Dean crooked an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. 

Dean knew that in other places the woman would have been thrown out just for looking at Jo with any form of lust, but Dean’s bar wasn’t that kind of place. Dean wasn’t homophobic, in fact he himself liked to taste both flavors, he was bisexual as they were calling it these days. It was easier for Dean to hide is ‘queer’ side because he also liked women, but every once and a while when a good looking man came through his door it took a lot of effort for Dean’s eyes not to trail after him. 

When Jo returned with the woman’s change she smiled at the waitress and then closed up her book and stood up, ready to go. 

“Goodbye!” she called to Dean. 

“Have a good day,” Dean waved back. 

“Oh I will, I’ve got a hot date this afternoon,” she said with a wink. 

Dean chuckled. “Well good luck.” 

“Thanks!” she paused in front of the door, her hand poised to push it open but she turned back. “I’m Charlie by the way, I just moved here a week ago, and I just wanted to say that so far this restaurant has been my favorite, my compliments to the chef, I’ll definitely be back.” 

Dean grinned. “That’s mighty kind of you, I will pass on your compliment.” 

Charlie grinned, waved at Dean, and then left, the bell ringing in her wake. She’d only been gone for a few moments when the door opened again and in stepped one of their regulars, Ash. Ash walked with a swagger that made him look like the most important person in the room while simultaneously giving you the feeling that he was the biggest idiot that you’d ever laid eyes on. His hair was short in the front and long in the back (“business up front, party in the back” was what he always said when anyone commented on his hair) and he wore ripped jeans and a tight t-shirt with a necklace that hung on a long chair. Ash defied all norms and Dean couldn’t help loving him for it. 

“Hey there Ash,” Dean greeted him. 

“Hey Dean!” Ash replied cheerfully as he swung himself onto a bar chair. 

“The usual?” Dean asked. 

“You know it,” Ash grinned. Dean cracked open a bottle of beer and set it down in front of Ash. 

Ash was one of two of Dean’s regular day drinkers, the other was an older man named Asmodeus, whom Dean had to throw out of his bar a few times because the man had an insufferable ability to argue about anything and everything and he was very loud about it, which tended to be disruptive to his other customers. But, every day Asmodeus came back and Dean served him because sometimes the man was interesting to chat with; Dean had just learned to refuse him service after he’d had over five alcoholic drinks. 

Ash on the other hand was a very mellow drinker, a happy drunk, and he was able to hold intelligent conversation even after his sixth beer. 

Jo emerged from the kitchen and she smiled when she saw Ash. “Hey Ash.” 

Ash held up his beer in cheers and grinned back at her, putting on his best flirtatious smile. “Joanna.” 

Jo rolled her eyes. “It’s Jo .” 

Ash took a sip of his beer as Jo went to wipe down the table Charlie had just vacated. Dean slipped off into the kitchen, knowing that Jo would handle Ash if he wanted anything. “Hey Benny,” Dean said when he entered the now slightly warm kitchen. 

“What’s up chief?” Benny asked as he looked up from where he’d been tearing fresh lettuce into bite sized pieces. 

“Our latest customer wanted me to express her compliments to the chef,” Dean replied as he waved his hand over his head in a circular motion and dipped down in a bow. 

Benny laughed. “How touching.” 

“Ash also just arrived and I’m sure he’ll be wanting his usual eggs and bacon,” Dean added. 

Benny nodded. “Coming right up.” 

Dean floated back into the main room and saw that Jo had seated a father and daughter at one of the tables by the window. The little girl had long blond hair and couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old, the father had short brown hair and he smiled at his daughter as she picked up the menu that Jo had just put down. 

“You can get anything you want,” the man said.

“Anything?” the girl asked with wide eyes. 

“Anything munchkin,” her father confirmed. “It is your birthday after all.”

The little girl’s eyes lit up with excitement and she eagerly started to read the menu. Jo went off to get them drinks and Dean watched Ash turn around to look at the father and daughter. “Sweet kid you got there,” he said. 

 “She’s the sweetest,” he replied with a soft smile. 

The girl looked up at Ash with big blue eyes. “I’m turning eight today!” she exclaimed, holding up eight fingers. 

“Well then a happy birthday song is in order,” Ash replied. 

“Oh boy,” Dean grimaced. “I’m sorry for what’s about to happen,” he apologized to his customers. 

“What’s your name?” Ash asked. 

“Lilith,” the girl replied happily. 

Ash cleared his throat and started to sing a very off-key rendition of Happy Birthday To You. When he got to Lilith’s name he threw his hands up in the air in an exaggerated gesture and Lilith started to giggle. Ash finished on a high note, that Dean worried might actually make his ears bleed, and then took a swig of his beer, a loopy grin plastered to his face. 

Lilith started clapping and Ash laughed and stood up to take a bow. “Thank you, thank you very much.” 

“Is it over?” Jo asked as she poked her head out of the kitchen, removing one of her fingers from her ear. 

“All clear,” Dean replied, sending her a thumbs up. 

“Thank God,” Jo said. She came out of the kitchen carrying a glass of orange juice and a glass of lemonade on a tray and went to set them on the table for Lilith and her father. “So, what’ll it be?” Jo asked, pulling out her order pad. 

“Pancakes!” Lilith exclaimed. “With whipped cream!” 

“Sure thing!” Jo replied, writing it down. “And you sir?” 

“I’ll take the eggs with a side of sausage and toast.” 

“How would you like your eggs cooked?” Jo asked. 

“Over easy will be just fine,” he replied. 

“You got it!” Jo said as she pocketed her order pad and headed back out to the kitchen, only to emerge a moment later with Ash’s eggs. 

Ash grinned up at Jo as she set them down in front of him. “Thank you, Joanna.” 

Jo scoffed at Ash again. “For the last time Ash, it’s just Jo .” 

Ash ignored her and took a bite of his bacon and Jo shook her head and walked back into the kitchen. Dean placed another bottle of beer in front of Ash, as the man had already barreled through his first one and Ash acknowledged Dean in a thank you with a nod of his head. 

A couple of minutes later Jo came out of the kitchen with Gadreel and Ellen following her as she held Lilith’s plate of pancakes with a few candles stuck in them out in front of her. The three of them began to sing Happy Birthday, in a much more pleasant tone than Ash, as they advanced towards Lilith who was smiling broadly and fighting excited laughter. 

She blew out the candles in one breath which earned her cheers from everyone in the room and then she dug happily into her pancakes. Ellen had been holding the plate for Lilith’s father and she placed it in front of him before taking her leave back to the kitchen with Gadreel. 

 

The day moved on slowly. Asomdeus came into the bar in the late afternoon and sat down a few seats over from Ash, who was now on his fifth beer. Dean fixed Asmodeus his usual glass of whiskey and the man grunted his thanks before knocking the drink back in one gulp. Dean refilled the glass and then moved over to see if Ash needed anything. 

“I’m good, man,” Ash said upon Dean’s inquiry. 

“You sure you don’t want a burger?” Dean asked. 

Ash looked up at Dean with a smirk. “Only if you make it.” 

Dean laughed and winked at Ash. “I think I can do that.” 

“Make it a double then!” Ash called after him as Dean pushed open the kitchen door. 

“Ellen, I need you to take up bar duty,” Dean said. 

“Sure thing,” Ellen replied, putting the knife down she’d been using to cut up potatoes for the homemade french fries Benny made.

Dean moved over to where Gadreel was manning the grill. “You can go see if Jo needs help with the tables, I’ve got the burgers for a bit,” Dean said. 

Gadreel flipped one last burger and then handed the spatula to Dean. “Actually I was wondering if I could take my break now.” 

Dean sighed but nodded. “Yeah why not.” 

Gadreel flashed him a grin and then pushed his way out the backdoor, a cigarette already between his fingers. Dean placed the two burgers Gadreel had been working on on a plate for Benny to make up and then put two more patties on the grill. 

“So, how was your date with Andrea last night?” Dean asked over the sizzle of the grilling meat.

“It was great,” Benny replied, the hint of a smile in his voice. 

“Yeah? You think she’s the one ?” Dean asked. 

“Yeah, I think she might be,” Benny replied. 

“Well I’m invited to the wedding then, right?” 

“‘Course you are. I couldn’t imagine my wedding day without you brother.”

“You’re too kind,” Dean said as he flipped one of Ash’s burgers. 

Dean and Benny worked in silence for a few minutes as Dean finished up the burgers and then moved over to dress them up with Benny’s famous creamy sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Benny placed some fries on the side of the plate and then Dean headed off to the bar. 

He put the plate down in front of Ash and watched as Ash took a huge bite from the burger. “Mmm,” he said over his mouthful. 

“Good?” Dean asked. 

“Marvelous,” Ash mumbled. 

 

By the time night rolled around, the bar was fairly quiet, Asmodeus was finishing up his last drink, Ash had left, and Dean had sent Ellen and Jo home. Gadreel had left his shift at six so now it was only Dean and Benny.

After Asmodeus left, Dean cleaned the counter and waited for the usual night customers. Sure enough, at ten o’clock sharp, in came Crowley, a short portly man with thinning brown hair and a short beard. Crowley sat down with a huff at Dean’s bar and Dean quickly made him a daiquiri, the man had a love for fancy drinks. 

Meg wandered in at half past ten, ordering her usual bourbon on the rocks and Raul, one of Crowley’s buddies, came in not long after Meg. 

Crowley made idle conversation with Dean occasionally and Dean talked with him politely. Crowley was easy to like but also very easy to hate, and Dean wasn’t sure which side of the scale he was on when it came to this particular customer. Meg on the other hand was very easy to warm up to; she was charming, flirtatious, and very pretty, Dean could talk to her all night. 

 

Dean let Benny leave at midnight, who thanked him for another good day and promised to introduce him to Andrea if things got serious, before he was out the door. Crowley and Raul left around 12:30 and so did a few other customers that had come through the door.  

Meg left fifteen minutes later and Dean followed her towards the door, biding her goodnight, before he locked the door behind her and turned the sign to CLOSED. He wiped down the tables, polished the bar counter, pushed in all the chairs, swept the floor, and then checked to make sure Benny had cleaned the kitchen, even though he knew that Benny would never leave a mess behind. The kitchen was spotless, but Dean still moved his rag over the counter in the center of the room, just because if he left the bar without doing so he would feel like he was missing something. 

Dean did one last sweep through his bar, straightening glasses and bottles of alcohol on their respective shelves, before he deemed his bar good enough to leave behind for the night, or early morning as it was. 

Dean locked the back door, jiggling it once just to make sure it truly was locked, and then he headed across the empty parking lot to his Cadillac and slid inside with a sigh. The engine turned over, his car roared to life, and Dean pulled out onto the street and headed home. 

Dean parked his car on the street outside his apartment complex, mounted the stairs to the third floor, and then unlocked the door to his one bedroom apartment. Dean tossed his keys on the counter, kicked off his boots, and poured himself some whiskey, from the bottle he’d opened the previous morning, before he sat back on his couch with a sigh.

 

 The clock was nearing 1:30 when Dean finally headed off to bed. His feet hurt from standing all day and a yawn forced its way out of his mouth. He set his alarm for 8:00 A.M., even though he knew he’d wake up hours before it went off, and then laid back in bed and shut his eyes, preparing to do the same thing again tomorrow.  

 

Chapter Text

Castiel rolled over on the hard two seat couch that made up part of his brother Gabriel’s living room. His legs were pulled up tight to his chest and the blanket, Gabe must have draped over him at some point, was on the floor in a pile. 

Cas glanced over the back of the couch towards the kitchen where the clock hung over the stove, it read 3:13 A.M; he hadn’t slept a wink since he’d gone to bed around midnight. Cas groaned to himself and rubbed his eyes before sitting up. Careful not to wake Gabriel, who was sleeping in the next room, Cas opened the door to the hallway of the apartment and headed down the stairs to the street. 

He was greeted by crisp early morning air and Cas vaguely wished he’d thought to grab a coat. Instead of returning to his brother’s apartment to retrieve said coat, Cas crossed his arms over his chest and set off at a brisk pace. 

No one was around this early in the morning, and Cas was glad for it, he didn’t want to have to try and socially interact with anyone if he didn’t have to. Cas wasn’t exactly well-versed in socializing, which was something that Gabriel certainly didn’t share. Gabriel was everything Cas wasn’t; he was the most rambunctious, flirtatious, and all around annoying goofball that Castiel had ever had the misfortune of knowing (and being related to). 

On the other hand, Gabriel was kind and reliable, Cas knew he could count on his older brother for anything, which was exactly what Cas was doing now. Gabe had offered Cas a place to stay while he was preparing to move to his new apartment in Lawrence Kansas. Gabe’s apartment was in Topeka, a town over from Lawrence, and Castiel had gratefully accepted his brother’s offer.  

Cas had just gotten a job at a bakery and he was going to start there in a week. Cas loved baking, it was the only thing that made him feel like himself again after the war. Cas had been drafted when he’d turned 18 and he’d served for about two years overseas. Cas had miraculously made it out of the war in one piece with only a few battle scars to show for it, with a bullet wound or shrapnel scar here or there. When Cas had come back after they’d been victorious, he found that folding and kneading dough was the only thing that would steady his constantly shaking hands. 

Cas had always loved baking; even when he was a kid, he often found himself in the kitchen helping his mother Hester make cookies or pies. His mother loved getting his help but his father, on the other hand, had never approved of Cas’ love for the more ‘female crafts’ as he’d put it. But Cas didn’t care what his father thought of him, and it hadn’t mattered anyway, his father had abandoned his family when Cas was ten years old, leaving his mother for another woman. 

It had been Cas, his mother, Gabriel, and his little sister Anna since then, that was until Anna had passed away unexpectedly. Anna had been walking home when she’d been hit by a speeding car, the impact killed her instantly, and the thought that she hadn’t suffered was the only thing that kept Cas from burying himself in a bottle and never looking back. 

Anna’s death had been hard on Castiel, Gabriel too even if he didn’t show it as openly as Cas did. The loss of their sister had completely wrecked their already dysfunctional family; Cas’ mother had stopped calling her sons, Gabriel had lost some of his pep, and Cas had uprooted his life and decided to move and start a new job in a different town. 

Anna and Cas had shared a dingy two-bedroom apartment, that always smelled of piss and smoke. Their shared residence was what had made Cas the first person who learned of Anna’s tragic death. 

He remembered the day as clearly as he remembered his own name. 

It had been just after 7:30 and Cas had begun to worry about the lack of his sisters presence, she was usually home by 7, and Cas had prepared a nice chicken dinner for them which was slowly growing colder with each passing minute. 

Cas had been pacing his apartment at quarter to 8 when there was a knock on the door and Cas opened it to two policemen. They hadn’t needed to say anything to him, Cas just knew what had happened; policemen at your door only meant one thing, someone was dead. 

Cas remembered crumpling to the floor as tears filled his eyes, he remembered the policemen helping him to the couch, he remembered their condolences that he didn’t want, he remembered them telling him how she’d died, that she hadn’t suffered, he remembered them asking if he needed to call anyone, he remembered that fleeting moment of panic in his chest when he realized he had no idea how to tell Gabe and his mother what had happened to the youngest member of their family, but mostly he remembered how empty his life was without his baby sister, how the apartment seemed to frown at him whenever he moved around it and how he couldn’t bring himself to get rid of any of Anna’s things. 

Cas couldn’t stand the empty apartment, and he was in between jobs anyway, so he decided to move. Cas had applied for a job in a bakery and he’d been accepted far sooner than he thought he would have been, so Cas had scrambled to find an apartment he could afford. He settled on a complex about ten miles from the bakery, it wasn’t exactly ideal seeing as Cas didn’t even own a car, but it was the closest apartment there was to the bakery. He had a bike so he didn’t mind getting up early to bike to work, it wasn’t like he’d be sleeping anyway. 

Gabriel was going to drive Cas to his new apartment tomorrow morning and help him unpack and get settled in, which Cas was very thankful for, he hadn’t wanted to find a way to transport himself and his limited belongings to his new home by himself. Gabriel had told Cas to take his time to get his legs under him and if he needed anything to call, but Cas didn’t plan to bother his brother with such trivial things; Gabriel had already done enough for Cas as it was. 

Cas wasn’t about to lie to himself, living without Anna was going to be hard. Cas hadn’t lived by himself since he’d come back from the war, he’d tried once but it hadn’t worked out very well. His neighbors would complain about him moving around at obscene hours of the night and about being woken up by his screaming.

Cas could make it through most days just fine, it was the nights that were hard and when Cas had confided in Anna, she’d immediately offered to get a place with him, so that when the nightmares struck he wouldn’t wake up alone. Having Anna there when he’d wake up in cold sweat as his chest seemed to compress in on itself, had been welcomed. Even though Anna was the younger sibling, she’d had always had a way with Castiel, keeping him calm when his memories would become too much, her warm smile filling him up with the sense that everything was going to be fine. 

Living without Anna, and without being surrounded by her things, was something that Cas wasn’t sure he was ready to face, but he knew that Anna would want for him to at least try, and that was the only thought that had gotten Cas through applying for an apartment. 

Cas hadn’t been able to sleep well since Anna had died, not that he slept well anyway, but he’d often wake up in the middle of the night with tears on his cheeks from war memories or from the realization that Anna was gone. The only thing that seemed to help calm him were walks. 

Cas had latched onto walking during the early morning as his defense mechanism against facing sleep. Cas found that moving and just doing something was what helped him feel better, what helped him feel alive. 

Now, as Cas walked down the unfamiliar street of Gabriel’s town, he let his thoughts move away from Anna and began to wonder what his new job would bring him. 

Cas had only visited the town once, to see the apartment, pick up his key, and to meet his new employer. It seemed like a cozy town where nothing ever happened, and that was exactly what Cas wanted, he needed some quiet in his life.  

As the sun began to rise, spreading pink and orange colors across the blue canvas of the sky, Cas turned around and headed back down the street the way he’d come. 

Gabriel was awake when Cas came back and his brother turned his gaze to Cas. “Morning bro!” Gabe said, a grin on his face. Gabriel was a morning person if Cas ever saw one.

 Cas offered him a weak smile as he sat down at the kitchen table. “Morning.” 

“Ready to move into your new apartment?” Gabriel asked as he set a plate of waffles stacked high with whipped cream down in front of Cas; Gabriel had always had a sweet tooth and he tried to impose his habits upon Cas, unsuccessfully. 

“I suppose,” Cas said with a sigh. 

“It’ll be great, don’t you worry,” Gabriel said as he sat down with his own plate of waffles. 

Cas only grunted as he picked up his fork and dug into his waffles. Cas wasn’t really hungry, but he knew that if he didn’t eat Gabriel would throw a fit, so he forced the waffles down. 

Once the brothers had finished their breakfast Cas helped with the dishes and then Gabriel picked up his keys. “Ready to go?” 

Cas nodded, as much for his brothers’ benefit as his own. “Yeah.” 

Gabriel led Cas out of his apartment and down to the street where his car was parked. Gabriel drove a red Chrysler, which had cost much more than Gabriel could afford but when Cas had asked him about it all Gabe had said was, “A guy owed me a favor.” Cas had decided to stop questioning his older brother and just accept what Gabriel opted to tell him. 

They’d packed the trunk the previous day so all that was left was the drive; so, Cas climbed into the passenger seat and Gabriel brought the car to life. Gabriel tried to talk to Cas as they drove but Cas would always end the conversation before it could go too far. Gabriel gave up after five attempts and Cas was grateful for the silence.

 The drive took about thirty minutes and when they pulled up into the apartment complex, and Cas looked at where he’d be spending his foreseeable future, he felt like he was going to throw up. 

“You okay?” Gabriel asked, his tone was serious, which was something that Cas wasn’t used to hearing in correlation with the words that came out of his brothers mouth. 

Cas nodded bleakly. “I will be.”

Gabriel’s hand landed warmly on Cas’ shoulder and Cas looked at him in faint surprise. “You don’t have to do this you know, we can buy a bed and I can set you up long term in my apartment, and we can kind you a nice bakery in Topeka.” 

It was a nice gesture but Cas wouldn’t dream of becoming a burden to Gabriel, so he shook his head. “No, no it’s fine Gabe, really.” 

“You’re sure?” Gabriel asked. 

“I’m sure,” Cas said. 

Gabriel nodded, but didn’t look fully convinced. “Okay.” 

Cas opened his door, before Gabriel could argue with him again, and then headed to the back of the car to open the trunk. Gabriel pocketed his keys and joined Cas at the rear of his car. Cas grabbed a box of kitchen appliances and Gabe picked up a duffel bag. 

Cas’ room was on the first floor and Cas was glad for the lack of stairs. His apartment number was room 104 and when the brothers reached the door Gabriel waited patiently for Cas to find his key and unlock it. 

The apartment was not very big, there was one bedroom, a tiny kitchen, and a sitting room, but it was exactly what Cas needed. They set down what they were carrying and then returned to the car for more. 

It only took three trips to get Cas moved in. The last thing out of the car was Cas’ faded black bike that had an ugly orange-mustard colored seat and handlebars. Cas propped it up outside his door and then joined his brother in unpacking. 

Gabriel had laid out all of Cas’ limited kitchen ware, from his beat up old toaster to his chipped plates. Cas let Gabe have his way with putting those things away and instead went into his bedroom where he made up his bed and put away his clothes.

Once they’d finished unpacking, Gabriel informed Cas of where all his kitchen utensils were and then spread his arms wide for a hug. Cas resisted rolling his eyes as he let Gabriel wrap himself around his little brother. 

“You going to be okay here?” Gabriel asked into Cas’ hair. 

“I’ll be fine,” Cas replied. 

“Well I’m only a call away if you need me.” 

“I know,” Cas said as he pulled away from his brother. 

“Keep in touch baby bro.” 

“I will.”

 It was an empty promise and Cas knew Gabriel knew it too. But Gabriel only nodded stiffly, smiled briefly, and then sauntered out of Cas’ apartment, leaving Cas alone. Cas sat down at the kitchen table, his chair wobbled underneath him and Cas had to steady himself by gripping the table. It was then that the tears fell. 

He’d been holding them back since his walk and he couldn’t keep them at bay any longer. Everything was just too much, the war, Anna’s death, moving, it had been a bad idea; but it was too late to back out now. In a week Cas would start work and he’d have to pretend everything was alright, even when it wasn’t. 

****

The alarm on Cas’ clock went off at 6:30 and Cas quickly shut it off, he’d been awake for two hours already and briefly wondered why he’d even set an alarm in the first place, before he remembered that it was his first day of work. 

The bakery was about ten miles away from his apartment so it would take Cas a little over an hour to bike to work. The bakery opened at 8:30 but Cas had decided that he would leave early just so he didn’t have to rush. 

Packing himself a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly and putting it in his backpack along with an apple and a bottle of water, Cas headed out.

 He straddled his bike and as he did so, his eyes rested on a shiny black Cadillac that sat on the street across from Cas’ apartment room. The car looked expensive and he wondered what a car like that was doing parked in a complex like this. Maybe someone was visiting , Cas thought, yes that would explain it . Shrugging to himself, Cas’ feet found his pedals and he took off at an easy pace. 

By the time Cas arrived at the Yellow Sparrow Bakery, his legs were sore and he was out of breath, but he still had 20 minutes to spare. Cas leaned his bike against the alley wall of the bakery and then waited outside on a wooden bench for whoever was working the first shift with him to arrive. 

His watch was telling him it was 8:15 when a loud rumble came from the street and Cas’ attention turned to see a sleek black Cadillac pull down the side road for the bar that sat across the street; The Winchester Tavern, the painted words on the window said. It took Cas a moment to realize that it was the same black Cadillac that he’d seen outside his apartment; so the owner of the car wasn’t a visitor after all. 

Cas didn’t have time to dwell on his thoughts for much longer because a young harried brunette woman came running up the sidewalk towards him, keys extended in her hand. 

“Hi!” she said breathlessly, “you must be Castiel.” 

Cas stood up and offered her his hand. “Yes, I am, hello.” 

The woman took his hand with grace and smiled. “Nice to meet you, I’m Hannah.” 

Cas smiled. “That’s a lovely name.” 

Hannah blushed as she moved towards the door. “Thank you.” 

She fumbled with the keys for a moment before the door clicked open and she led Castiel inside. 

The bakery was small and quaint, with gray and white tiled floors that lead up to the counter, surrounding the counter were two refrigerated glass cases that held different ranges of pastries from cookies to pies, the walls were painted a warm yellow, and there were three small tables sitting against the wall, each with two chairs on either side. 

Hannah gestured for Cas to come behind the counter with her and Cas did as he was told. Cas watched her unlock the cash register and then she told him to follow her into the small kitchen that branched off of the bakery. 

“Okay, so the recipes are all written out for you in the cook books and all the drawers are labeled so you can easily find everything. Naomi should be around sometime today to see how you’re doing, and we have two other regular workers who should be arriving around noon, Garth and Anael.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

“So, I guess you can just start working on making some cupcakes, we’re running low on those,” Hannah said. 

“I’ll get right on it,” Cas replied. 

Hannah left Cas alone in the kitchen and he picked up the cookbook, found the recipe for cupcakes, and began to mix ingredients in a bowl. 

Cas baked three batches, frosted them with homemade frosting from the cookbook, and then sent them out to Hannah to be put in the display cases. Cas also boxed a dozen in to-go containers for customers and then asked Hannah what he could make next. Hannah gave him the order for blueberry pie and again Cas got to work. 

At around noon, just as Hannah had said, Garth and Anael showed up. Garth was a skinny boy with a southern drawl but he was flamboyant and his smile never seemed to go away. “Hello amigo!” Garth said as he shook Cas’ hand. “Nice to meet you, Castiel, I’m Garth.” 

“Nice to meet you too,” Cas replied. 

Garth worked behind the register with Hannah and he went on to see what she needed him to do; which left Cas with Anael.

Anael was a very beautiful woman, with glossy red hair and chocolate brown eyes. She greeted Castiel and then moved into the kitchen with him. 

“How are you enjoying your first day?” she asked. 

“It’s been great so far,” Cas replied. 

“I’m glad to hear it.” 

As the day wore on, Cas found that he and Anael worked fluidly together, easily working around each other and always seeming to know what the other needed for their recipe. It was nearing 3 o’clock when Cas was alerted to his boss, Naomi entering the bakery. 

Naomi was a tall, stern woman who watched Castiel work with narrowed eyes. Cas wondered how such a woman could become the owner of a bakery, but she didn’t seem to have a problem with Castiel’s work so he didn’t judge her too harshly. 

 

At 6, Castiel was allowed to go home. He mounted his bike, and headed off on his journey back to his apartment. When he got home, he made himself dinner of cooked rice and sauteed chicken with a glass of red wine, and then sat back with a book. 

Cas read into the night, even though his tired eyes wanted him to go to sleep, Cas couldn’t bring himself to make his way to his bed. It was almost 1:30 when the growl of an engine outside made Cas look out his window. 

There, across the street was the black Cadillac. Its driver had pulled into the parking space it had been in that morning and was now climbing out of the driver seat. Cas couldn’t see very well in the dark but he could make out a tall lean shape with broad shoulders and short hair, the man had bow legs and he walked with purposeful ease towards the entrance of the apartment complex on his side of the street. Castiel’s eyes followed him with curiosity, but once the man disappeared inside Cas forced himself to look away, there was no point in staring at what he couldn’t see.  

With a sigh, Cas decided that he should probably try and sleep, he had to be up early anyway and he knew he needed at least some energy to bike to work. So, Cas headed into his bedroom, put on some pajamas, brushed his teeth, and then went to bed. 

Cas briefly thought about the owner of the Cadillac and who he was, before his eyes slipped shut, and miraculously, he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Dean has just finished washing the last dish in his sink when the phone he kept on the counter started to ring. Dean wiped his wet hands on the back of his jeans before he reached for the receiver. 

“Hello, Dean Winchester speaking.” 

“Hey Dean.” 

Dean couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face at the sound of his little brothers’ voice. “Hey Sam, what’s shakin’?”  

Sam was four years younger than Dean and he lived in the city where he worked as a lawyer. Sam was incredibly smart, smarter than Dean, smarter than anyone Dean knew, and Dean couldn’t be prouder of his little brother. 

“Dean,” Sam said, his voice shook slightly and Dean’s smile was quickly wiped away. 

“Sam, what’s wrong?” Dean asked, concern rushed through every inch of Dean’s body. 

“Nothing,” Sam replied with a laugh, “nothing, Dean everything’s great, more than great, Dean…” Sam paused and Dean realized that Sam was excited; that he was bursting to tell Dean something. “Dean she said yes.” 

Dean was silent for a moment, trying to take in what Sam was telling him.

“Dean, say something,” Sam’s voice crackled on the other end of the phone. 

 “ Jessica said yes ?” Dean breathed out, shock and happiness mixing together. 

“Yes!” Sam replied, practically giddy. 

“Sammy, that’s amazing, I’m so happy for you,” Dean said, his smile back on his face. “You know that this calls for a celebration, right?” 

Sam laughed. “Yeah I figured you’d say that.” 

“Come on Sam, you asked a girl to marry you and she said yes . I’ve got to be honest, I never saw that coming, always thought you’d die alone,” Dean teased. 

“Hey!” Sam exclaimed in retort. 

“What!? I did,” Dean laughed.

“Jerk,” Sam scoffed lightly. 

“Bitch,” Dean replied without missing a beat. “So,” Dean said, moving on, “when’s the wedding?” 

“We’ve set it for September 13th of next year,” Sam replied.

“I look forward to it,” Dean said.

“Hey, um,” Sam cleared his throat. “Dean, I was wondering if you were around today, in the afternoon, to maybe grab lunch or something. Jess is visiting her parents and I’m going to be in town.”  

Dean frowned. “I don’t know Sammy, I have the bar to run.” 

“Can’t someone else do it for an hour?” Sam pleaded.

Dean had never left his bar unattended, in all the years he’d owned it, and he didn’t plan on doing so now. “Why don’t you just stop by the tavern and we can eat there, Benny makes a mean salad.” 

Sam chuckled and it crackled in Dean’s ear. “Yeah alright Dean, I’ll see you around noon.” 

Sam hung up and Dean put down the receiver. He was glad Sam hadn't argued with him about leaving the bar, Dean didn’t know what it was, but he couldn’t bring himself to fully leave his bar in the hands of other people. Dean was actually planning to start building a small apartment room on top of his bar, so he wouldn’t have to commute to it everyday, he’d just live there. 

 

With the idea of seeing his little brother, for the first time in months, hanging in the air, Dean made his way downstairs and climbed into his Cadillac before setting off for work. 

****

“Jo!” Dean called into the kitchen. 

“Yeah?” Jo asked as she opened the kitchen door and poked her head out. 

“We have a juice spill, can you find a rag and clean it up?” Dean asked. 

Jo nodded. “Sure thing boss.” 

Jo headed over to the table where a little boy had managed to spill all of the juice from his cup over the table, himself, and the floor. The boy’s mother kept apologizing profusely to Jo as she bent over the table to sop up the mess with her rag. “That’s alright ma’am,” Jo said with a smile. “It happens more often than you’d think.” 

Dean pulled his eyes away from Jo and focused them on Ash, who was asleep on his bar counter. Shaking his head, Dean tapped him on the shoulder, Ash grunted but didn’t wake up. “Hey, Ash!?” Dean said loudly as he shook him again. “Wake up, this is a bar not a hotel.” 

Ash came to life, wiping drool from his mouth and looking at Dean with glassy eyes. He picked up his beer and took a swig. “Huh, what’d I miss?” 

“Absolutely nothing,” Dean replied with a grin.

Dean checked his watch and saw that he still had half an hour until Sam would arrive, so Dean decided to do something productive. Dean left Ash to his beer and found his way to the storage closet where numerous different brooms and cleaning equipment was kept. Dean choose a street broom and then headed out to the front of his bar and onto the sidewalk. 

Leaves littered the walkway in front of his bar and Dean slowly began to sweep them away. People passed by him, offering him friendly smiles and greetings, which Dean always returned, some pedestrians even moved past him and entered his bar. 

As Dean was sweeping, he spotted movement across the street out of the corner of his eye. The door to The Yellow Sparrow Bakery had just swung open and the most beautiful man Dean had ever seen walked outside. He had softly tousled black hair that stuck up in the front, giving him a bedhead sort of look, he had high cheekbones and a chiseled jaw, and he was dressed in blue dress pants, a white button down with a blue jacket, and a loose blue tie hung from his neck at a twisted angle.  

Dean tore his eyes away from the man, despite his want to continue staring, as the man took a sandwich from a paper bag and began to eat. 

Dean returned to sweeping and after five more minutes, deemed the sidewalk clean and headed back inside, trying to stop thoughts about the mysterious stranger across the street from plaguing his mind.

 The man must be a new to town, Dean would have remembered seeing him before. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Dean made a mental note to stop by the bakery at some point, he was due for a visit with Garth anyway, might as well find out about the mysterious new man and have a chat with an old friend at the same time.

Garth was a tall, gangly guy that Dean had befriended in high school. Sometimes Garth would visit Dean’s bar, sometimes Dean would head over to the bakery. Dean preferred meeting at the bakery, because if Garth got even one beer into him, Dean would have to pick the guy up off the floor and find him a strong pot of coffee; Dean also had a love for baked goods, especially pies, so he didn’t mind giving his friend some business. 

 

Dean placed the broom back in the closet and then went into the kitchen to check on Benny. Benny looked up as he walked in. “Sam here yet?” he asked. 

Dean shook his head and glanced at his watch, it was 11:45. “Not yet, give him another fifteen.” 

Benny nodded. “How long’s it been since you’ve seen him anyway?”

Dean frowned in thought. “Hmm, maybe a little over six months, too long.” 

Dean hadn’t seen Sam since the end of March for Easter, work and life in general had gotten in the way of the brothers spending time together, but Dean missed Sammy terribly, and he couldn’t wait to see him again. 

“I can’t believe he’s getting married,” Benny said as he put the top of a bun on a burger. 

“You’re telling me,” Dean huffed. “My kid brother is getting married before me, that’s not supposed to happen.” 

Benny let out a short laugh and handed the plate that held the burger off to Jo. “Well I think that’s your own fault, you had someone once and you let her go.” 

Dean scoffed at his best friend. “If you’re talking about Lisa-”

“Of course I’m talking about Lisa, come on brother, you loved her, a blind man could have seen that, and you let her go.” 

“Benny, I let her go so I could fight in a war,” Dean said. 

“You could have had her back,” Benny argued. 

Dean shook his head. “Nah, she deserved better than me. The war screwed with me, man, she didn’t ask to have my broken ass dropped in her lap. No, it was better that we split up.” 

“Sure that’s what you thought, but what about her?” Benny asked. 

Dean shot Benny a sharp look, telling him to stop pushing. “Lisa’s in the past, okay?” 

Benny shrugged. “Okay.” 

Without another word, Dean left the kitchen and took up his job behind the bar again. Ash was halfway through another beer and he tipped his bottle towards Dean in greeting, Dean nodded in return and then pulled his rag from his jeans and wiped up the counter from where a customer had just left. 

Dean was just pocketing his rag again when the bell above the door chimed and Dean looked up to see the tall, broad-shouldered, long haired, form of his little brother. Dean spread his arms wide and grinned as Sam paused in front of the bar counter. “Sammy!” 

Sam smiled as he shook his head at Dean’s boisterous greeting. “Hi Dean.” 

Dean moved out from behind the counter and pulled Sam into a tight hug. He held onto Sam for a bit longer than he probably should have, but Sam held him right back, and once Dean pulled away he stepped back and looked at his brother. 

“How’ve you been, Sammy?” 

“Dean, for the last time, Sammy is a chubby twelve year old, it’s Sam .” 

“Yeah okay, sorry Sammy,” Dean said with a laugh.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Really?” 

Dean smirked. “Come on, I’ve been calling you Sammy your entire life, I’m not stopping now.” 

“You know, I thought maybe you’d have changed since the last time I saw you, but you’re still absolutely insufferable,” Sam said with a grin. 

“Shut up,” Dean retorted, although he himself was smiling. 

“Can I seat you two, or are you going to stand there all afternoon?” Jo asked from behind Dean. 

“Yeah alright, lead away,” Dean said. 

Jo brought them to the table by the window and then set a menu down in front of Sam and went to do the same to Dean but he waved her away. “I own this joint, I think I’d know my own menu.” 

“Well then, can I get you anything to drink?” 

“Water’s fine for me, thanks,” Sam replied. 

“I’ll have a water too I suppose,” Dean answered, he shouldn’t drink on the job. 

Jo left with Dean’s unclaimed menu and their drink orders and then Dean stared at Sam, who was scanning the menu. “Well?” 

Sam looked up, eyebrows raised. “What?” 

“You never answered me, how’ve you been?” Dean asked. 

Sam put the menu down with a soft smile. “I’ve been good Dean, really good.” 

“Yeah? And Jess, she’s good too?” 

“Jess is wonderful,” Sam replied. 

“I’m glad to hear it.” 

“What about you?” Sam asked. “Are you still-”

“I’m fine Sammy,” Dean interrupted. 

Sam looked slightly taken-aback at Dean’s abruptness, but he nodded. “If you say so.” 

Dean knew Sam didn’t believe a word of what Dean had said, but Dean didn’t want to talk about his nightmares that weren’t going to go away, or the lack of a significant other in his life, Dean was fine, he had his bar, he was happy. 

“So, see anything you like?” Dean asked, gesturing towards the menu. 

“I think I’m going to go with the green salad,” Sam replied. 

Dean snorted. “Of course you are.” 

“What?” Sam exclaimed. “You should try and eat healthy once and awhile, it’d do you good.”

“I’m not going to pollute my body with rabbit food,” Dean retorted. “No way man, you have fun with that, I’ll stick to the burgers.” 

“You’ll give yourself a heart attack one of these days,” Sam said with a shake of his head. 

“If burgers are what kills me, then I win,” Dean replied. 

Jo came back to take their orders, Dean ordering one of Benny’s famous burgers and Sam ordering his salad. 

“Thanks sweetheart,” Dean said with a grin as he handed Jo Sam’s menu. Jo blushed slightly before turning away to go place their orders. 

“She still got the hots for you?” Sam asked.

Dean stared at Sam, exasperated. “Who doesn’t have the hots for this ?” he joked. 

That earned Dean a hard stare from Sam. “You really haven’t changed.” 

“You have.” Dean pointed an accusatory finger at Sam and said, “I swear you’ve grown three inches since the last time I saw you.”

Sam barked out a laugh and ran a hand through his long hair. “I missed you, Dean.” 

Dean leaned back in his chair, a loopy grin on his face. “I missed you too, Sammy.” 

“Am I interrupting something?” Jo asked as she arrived with their food. Benny must have already had Dean’s order set out and then quickly tossed Sam’s salad together. 

“Nothing at all,” Dean replied. 

Jo put their plates down in front of them, wished them a good meal, and then went over to wait on two new customers who had walked through the door. The brothers dug into their food, Dean with a huge bite to his burger and Sam with a small forkful of salad. 

“Mm,” Dean hummed as he chewed. “Benny always out does himself with these burgers.” 

“That good huh?” Sam asked as he stabbed a piece of lettuce. 

“Wishing you got the burger now, aren’t you?” Dean taunted as he picked up a fry and dipped it in ketchup. 

“Not in the slightest,” Sam replied. “Benny’s salads are also very well done.” 

 

Dean was about halfway done with his burger when Sam’s fork clanked against his plate as he dropped it. Dean looked up at Sam and saw that his brother was staring at his salad with a fixed gaze. 

“Everything alright?” Dean asked slowly. 

Sam’s eyes traveled up to Dean’s and he pushed his plate aside and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table.  “Look, Dean, I didn’t want to meet up just to have lunch.”

Dean put down his burger and nodded. “Okay… what’s on your mind Sam?” 

Sam’s eyes flicked back down to his salad and he sighed. “I don’t know why this is so hard to get out.” 

“Take your time,” Dean said calmly, despite the rapid beating of his heart in his chest. 

Sam drew in a long breath of air and then he met Dean’s eyes again. “Okay, here it goes. I wanted to ask you if you’d do me the honor of being my best man?” 

Dean stared blankly at Sam, his mouth hanging slightly ajar. 

He recovered quickly, a laugh bubbling on his lips, as he tried to hide the tears that had begun to build up in his throat at Sam’s offer. “Of course, Sammy, of course I’d love to be your best man, it would be my pleasure.” Sam’s shoulders sagged in relief and Dean marveled at the movement, at how Sam had feared that Dean might have rejected him. 

“You really want to though?” Sam asked, as if he still didn’t believe Dean. 

“Are you kidding me?” Dean replied. “Sammy, you’re getting married , that’s one of the biggest milestones in your life, to be a part of it, let alone to be your best man… how can I refuse?” 

“Thanks Dean,” Sam said, a childish grin on his face.

Dean picked up his burger again and Sam reached for his fork. Dean paused before he took a bite. “Did you seriously consider the thought that I was going to say no?” 

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. I wasn’t sure what you’d say.” 

Dean shook his head as he sank his teeth into his burger. “Bitch,” he mumbled over his food. 

A smirk twitched at the corner of Sam’s mouth. “Jerk.” 

“So, are you staying with Jess’ family, or do you need a place to crash?” Dean asked. 

“Yeah I’m staying with Jess’ parents, but thanks for the offer,” Sam replied. 

Dean shrugged as he picked up a french fry. “My couch is always open to you.” 

“Thanks,” Sam said. 

 

Dean was just swiping his plate clean of the last drop of ketchup with his final fry, when something clattered to the ground with a crash. Dean looked up sharply, his eyes searching for the source of the sound, his eyes found Jo. 

Jo was standing at the table of an older man with graying hair and a shadow of a beard. The man’s right hand was clamped around Jo’s forearm and Jo was struggling against him. “Let me go!” 

“Aw come on babe, you don’t belong in this place, come back home with me and I’ll show you where you really belong.” 

Dean was on his feet in an instant, Sam too, anger hardening Dean’s features. “Hey!” Dean shouted. “Let the lady go.” 

The man turned his eyes to Dean, an ugly smirk reaching across his face. “What’re you going to do about it pretty boy?” 

“Throw you out of my bar for starters,” Dean snapped back. 

The man faltered slightly but didn’t let go of Jo. “What’s a catch like her doing working in a bar anyhow? She should be doing laundry and making someone dinner somewhere.” 

“Are you blitzed, or are you just cruisin’ for a bruisin’, because I’m telling you, if you don’t let go of her right now the asphalt outside of my bar isn’t the only thing you’ll be seeing coming towards your face.” 

The man’s grip slowly fell from Jo’s arm and she backed away from the table, her shoes crunching over broken glass as she did so. Sam pulled her into his arms and then herded her towards the kitchen, whispering softly in her ear. Dean’s eyes hadn’t left the man and now that Jo was out of harm's way he took a threatening step towards him. “Get up,” Dean said sharply. The man didn’t move. “Come on, get!” Dean growled.  

Slowly, the man rose to his feet and Dean reached out and gripped the front of his leather jacket, ‘helping’ him the rest of the way up. Dean dragged the man roughly towards the front door, pushed it open, and then threw the man forwards onto the ground, where he landed with a gasp. 

“I had better never see your face in my bar again,” Dean hissed. 

The man glared up at Dean, stood up, brushed off his pants and then said, “You should be putting that girl to better use.”

Dean resisted the urge to punch the man in the face, instead he stuck out his chin and glowered, “she’s plenty useful. Now get out of here before I call the cops.” 

The man turned and walked away, and Dean pushed his way back into his bar. The few customers that had been watching the exchange between Dean and the man dutifully returned to their meals and drinks as Dean’s angry gaze drifted over them. Gadreel was sweeping up the broken glass from the man’s finished meal that Jo had been clearing up, and he offered Dean a grim smile. 

Dean nodded to Gadreel and then headed into the kitchen, where Jo was sitting on a stool holding an ice pack to her arm while her mother soothed her. Sam was standing off to the side of the room, his arms crossed. Dean went straight to Jo. 

“Are you alright?” he asked. 

Jo nodded bleakly. “I’m just a bit shaken up, but I’m okay.” 

“You’re sure?” 

Jo met Dean’s anxious gaze. “I’m fine.” 

Dean nodded and then turned to Ellen. “You and Jo can go home for the day-”

“No, I’m really okay,” Jo interrupted. 

Dean fixed her with a harsh stare. “I’m sending you home and that’s that. I’m planning to close early anyway, you won’t be missing much.” 

Jo didn’t look happy, but she didn’t argue. Ellen shot Dean a silent thank you through the movement of her lips and Dean nodded at her stiffly before turning to Sam. 

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Dean said. 

“It’s okay,” Sam replied. He glanced at his watch and then back to Dean. “I should really be going, Jess won’t want to be alone with her parents for much longer.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay. Come visit again soon.” 

Sam smiled. “I will.” 

Dean pulled his little brother into a stiff hug and then led Sam towards the door. Sam waved at Dean as he headed towards his car and Dean waved back. It had been good to see Sam again, and to see him happy was even better. 

****

Dean closed the bar at 5:30 P.M. sharp, sending Benny off with a smile and a clap to the back. “See you tomorrow chief,” Benny said. 

“See you,” Dean replied. 

Dean locked the back door after Benny and then headed towards the front door. He made sure the sign in the window said CLOSED, before he let himself out of the bar. Dean turned and locked the door, pocketed his keys, and then headed across the street to The Yellow Sparrow Bakery. 

Dean pushed open the door and his entrance was announced by a soft chime. It had been months since Dean had been in the bakery, but it hadn’t changed one bit. The soothing yellow walls still welcomed him and the wonderful smell of baking goods made Dean’s mouth water. 

As Dean walked towards the register, the cashier looked up, and he smiled broadly. “Dean!” 

“Hey Garth,” Dean replied, throwing his friend a smile. 

Garth moved out from behind the cash register and spread his arms wide for a hug. “How’ve you been hombre!?” 

Dean let Garth hug him as he replied. “I’ve been great, you?” 

“I’m fantastic!” Garth replied. 

“That’s good to hear.” 

Garth took up his position behind the register again and gave Dean a questioning look. “So, what’ll it be?” 

Dean hummed to himself and let his eyes move over the pastries that we lined up in the glass cases in front of him. “I suppose I’ll take a blueberry pie off your hands,” Dean replied. 

“One blueberry pie, got it,” Garth said. “You know, I think we actually have a fresh one on the way, if you want to wait say another ten minutes?” 

Dean wasn’t going to say no to a warm pie so he shrugged. “Yeah, sure.” 

Garth quickly checked behind him and then leaned forward across the counter, his voice a whisper. “We’ve got this new baker and he’s amazing,” Garth said. “I don’t know how he does it, he’s using the same recipes our old baker used and somehow, the guy manages to make it taste ten times better. His pies are the best, and I wanted you to get a fresh one just so you can get the full experience.” 

Dean laughed. “Thanks for your consideration.” 

“Just wanted to do an old friend a solid,” Garth said. 

Dean had a hidden suspicion that this new baker was the man that he had seen across the street earlier that day, but he wanted to make sure, he had to make sure. “Well, if you hold him in such high esteem, am I allowed to meet this amazing new baker?” 

“Yeah, why not, I’ll go get him,” Garth replied. “I have a feeling after you’ve had one of his pies, you’re going to become a regular customer.” 

Garth disappeared into the kitchen, and Dean was left waiting with his heart in his throat. When Garth came back a few seconds later a black haired man was following him; a white apron was slung around his neck and he had a smudge of flour smeared across his nose. Dean couldn’t help but think that the man was even more beautiful up close - flour and all-, with his sharp jawline and the slow crawl of stubble as it fought to cover his face. And his eyes, God his eyes , Dean hadn’t been able to see them from a distance, but now, up close, Dean was struck by how mesmerizingly blue they were, like someone had mixed the sky and the ocean together. 

“Dean Winchester,” Garth said, gesturing a hand in Dean’s direction, “meet Castiel Novak.”  

Dean extended his hand towards the man, Castiel , what an interesting name, Dean liked it. Castiel took it and Dean took in the feeling of Castiel’s hand in his, the firm and softness of a first greeting. “Nice to meet you,” Dean said, one of his winning smiles spreading across his lips. 

“Nice to meet you too,” Castiel replied. 

Dean didn’t know what he expected the man to sound like, but the rough deep voice that came out of Castiel’s mouth was certainly not it. Dean hoped his surprise hadn’t shown on his face as he pulled his hand away. He rubbed the same hand over the back of his neck and cleared his throat. “So, I hear you make great pies.” 

Castiel shrugged. “I guess so, according to Garth at least.” 

“Well Garth isn’t known to lie,” Dean said. “I’ve known the guy since freshman year of high school, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him tell a false truth once.”

“You’re too kind,” Garth said with a laugh. 

At that moment, a timer in the kitchen went off and Castiel excused himself and rushed back into the adjacent room to take care of what was probably Dean’s pie.

 Sure enough, Castiel emerged a minute later with a box and handed it to Dean. 

“One blueberry pie,” he said. “Enjoy.” 

“Thanks Cas.” 

Shit. Shit. Shit.  Dean cursed at himself. You fucking idiot, you can’t just go giving nicknames to people you’ve just met.

While Cas looked surprised at Dean’s words, he didn’t call Dean out on it. “You’re welcome, Dean.” 

Dean’s name in Cas’ mouth made goosebumps ripple through his body. His eyes stayed glued to Cas’ for another moment, green taking in blue, before he took a step backwards. 

“Well I’ll see you around, Garth,” Dean said. 

“Come back soon,” Garth replied. 

“If Castiel’s pies are as good as you say, I’m sure I’ll be back,” Dean offered Cas a smile and said, “It was nice to meet you.” 

“You as well,” Cas replied. 

Dean paid Garth, and then left the bakery, pie in hand. He walked quickly across the street to the parking lot behind his bar, and once in his Cadillac, Dean set the boxed pie down and let out a long sigh. Dean knew, he just knew that Castiel Novak was going to be his undoing. 

Chapter Text

Castiel watched Dean Winchester leave the bakery, the man was the most gorgeous person Cas had ever laid eyes on, with stunningly beautiful green eyes, a spray of freckles across his nose, and a smile that could warm even the coldest of rooms. Cas was absolutely certain that Dean was the owner of the Cadillac, there was no mistaking those bow legs, and knowing that Dean lived only a short distance away from Cas made him smile. 

Cas turned away from the door and saw that Garth was staring at Dean, a knowing sort of look in his eyes. “What?” Cas asked, barely keeping his blush at bay. 

Garth shrugged. “Nothing amigo.” 

Cas squinted at Garth in disbelief for a second, before he headed back into the kitchen where Anael was busy mixing together cookie dough. 

“Who was that?” she asked. 

Cas picked up the slab of uncooked pie crust he had been kneading and focused on the feeling of the dough under his fingers as he replied. “Some guy named Dean.” 

“Winchester?” Anael asked, a small smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. 

“Uh, yeah, I think so,” Cas replied nonchalantly, but he didn’t think so, he knew so. 

Anael let out a sigh. “He’s so handsome. Owns the bar across the street too, they have such good burgers over there.” 

“Yeah?” Cas asked, trying not to sound too eager. 

“Yeah, you should definitely give them a try,” Anael replied as she started to roll together balls of dough. 

“Maybe I’ll check it out sometime,” Cas said. It would give him an excuse to see Dean again. 

“Mmm, you should.” 

 

Cas continued making his last pie of the day and Anael put the cookies in the oven. Garth poked his head into the kitchen and told them that he was going to be heading out for the night. Cas bade him goodbye and then he and Anael worked their way through a couple leftover cupcakes as they waited for their respective baked goods. 

“So,” Anael said as she unwrapped another cupcake, “what brought you to town?” 

Cas lowered his eyes and suddenly became very interested in the wrapper around his cupcake. “Just wanted a fresh start,” he replied. 

“I understand that, I was the same way.” 

“You were?” Cas could easily turn the conversation around on Anael and avoid talking about his tragic life. 

Anael sighed softly as she picked at her cupcake. “Yeah, I used to work in an office, answering calls, pushing buttons, and all that. But it wasn’t me, you know? I wanted to do what I Iiked, make my own decisions. So I came here.” 

“Well good for you,” Cas said, and he meant it. “Not many women can say they’ve been able to do what you have.” 

Anael hummed in agreement as she took another bite of her cupcake. “I don’t know how I got so lucky.” 

“I think It’s probably because you’re so driven,” Cas said. “You don’t take no for an answer.” 

Anael chortled slightly. “You’ve known me for, what, two days, and you’ve already picked up on that?” 

Cas shrugged. “It’s not hard to pick up on. Naomi’s the same way, I think that’s probably why she hired you.” 

“Naomi’s a character,” Anael said. “Do you know how she ended up with the bakery?” 

Cas shook his head. “No.”

“Well,” Anael began, setting down her half-eaten cupcake and adjusting her position on the table she was leaning against. “She fought for this bakery, tooth and nail. They were going to foreclose it after her father passed away, since she couldn’t pay for the property anymore. But my God, that woman, she never gave up. The bakery is everything to her and she couldn’t stand to lose it, so she started working, - I think it was seven jobs at the time, and she had some help from some family and friends too, if I’m not mistaken- she’d sew people’s clothing for a couple dollars, she’d paint fences, weed gardens, anything, you name it, and somehow, she got enough money to pay off the foreclosure. And when they asked who was going to run the place and she told them it would be her, you can guess how displeased they were, but they weren’t about to question it.” 

“Wow,” Cas said, he didn’t know what else to say. 

“Yeah, she's crazy,” Anael laughed, “but she’s good at her job and she won’t let anyone take it from her.” 

“I wouldn’t dream of trying to take it from her,” Cas replied. 

The timer went off for Anael’s cookies and she pulled them out of the oven and then set them to cool. The wonderful aroma of melted chocolate filled the kitchen and Cas shut his eyes to take it in, letting the smell filter through his nose. 

A moment later the timer for Cas’ pie beeped through the air and Cas pulled out the perfectly baked blueberry pie and set it beside Anael’s cookies to cool. 

“I think we did pretty well today,” Anael said as she placed her apron on a hook by the door of the kitchen. 

“I’d say so,” Cas replied as pulled his apron over his head. 

“I’m glad Dean finally came back to the bakery,” Anael said offhandedly. 

Cas felt his stomach lurch just at the mention of Dean’s name. “What do you mean, finally ?” Cas asked. 

“Well, he used to pop by once and a while right when we opened. I wouldn’t have called him a regular customer, but he was a familiar face every couple of weeks.” Anael replied. “But he stopped coming a few months ago, never knew why.” 

“Huh,” Cas huffed. Now Cas’ curiosity about Dean had piqued, there was so much he wanted to know. 

“Yeah, but looks like he might be starting it up again.” 

Cas didn’t know what to say back, so he opted to say nothing. Anael didn’t seem bothered by the end of the conversation, she was busy moving her cookies onto a plate to carry out to the display cases in the main room. Cas followed her with his pie and together they placed their masterpieces beside each other. 

“Well, I think that’s all for tonight,” Anael said. 

“Yeah, I think so,” Cas replied. 

“I can lock up if you want.” 

“Really?” Cas asked. He’d love to get an early start on his trek home via bicycle. 

“Yeah sure.” 

“That would be great, thanks,” Cas said with a smile. 

“No problem,” Anael replied. 

Cas gave Anael a hug before he left the bakery, heading for his bike. The evening was a cold one and when Cas walked outside, his breath was visible as if came out of his mouth in a white cloud. Cas pulled his coat tighter around him and then mounted his bike and set off. 

By the time Cas reached his apartment, his hands were numb and his cheeks were red from the cold. Cas brought his hands to his mouth and breathed hot air onto them to try and warm them up before reaching into his pocket for his keys. 

Cas couldn’t help looking over at the black Cadillac that was parked outside Dean’s apartment. The sleek car glinted in the moonlight and Cas found himself looking at the windows of the apartments, wondering which one was Dean’s. 

Shaking his head, and telling himself he was being ridiculous, Cas entered the apartment complex and then moved to his room, where he deposited his keys in the basket he kept by his door, and then collapsed on the couch, exhaustion sweeping over him. Maybe biking hadn’t been the greatest idea, he hadn’t thought about what he was going to do in the winter, and biking for an hour in the cold was not a pleasant experience. 

Cas should probably look into buying a cheap car, maybe he could get an older used model for a couple hundred dollars. Cas told himself he would check out a car dealership sometime in the next week, but for now he needed to make some dinner. 

Cas rummaged around in his cupboards for something canned that he could heat up. He found a nice can of vegetable soup and dumped its contents into a pot, turned on the stove, and waited for his soup to heat. 

The warmth that the soup provided to his shivering body was thoroughly welcomed and Cas savored it. He was halfway through his meal when his phone rang and Cas stood up to answer it. 

“Hello?”

“Hey bro!”

  Gabriel

“Gabe?” Cas’ mind immediately went through every reason that Gabe would call Cas and he could come up with nothing but bad news. “Has something happened? Are you okay?” 

Gabriel laughed, as if the question was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard. “Me? I’m fine bucko, I’m just checking up on you.” 

Cas rolled his eyes, even though Gabriel couldn’t see him. “Really? Why?” 

“Come on Cassie don’t be like that, you’ve been living in your new apartment for over a week now, I just wanted to make sure you’re doing okay.” 

“I’m fine,” Cas replied, a little sharper than he intended. 

“You sure?” Gabriel asked. 

Typical . Cas thought. Gabriel didn’t believe him and he was going to keep pressing until Cas told him more. “Gabe, I’m okay,” Cas said. 

“Mhmm,” Gabriel hummed, Cas could picture his disbelieving face. “Look baby bro, I just want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and that you’re eating. Are you eating? Do you drink enough water?” 

“Gabe,” Cas cut in, annoyance making his tone sharp. “I’m sleeping as much as I can, I’m eating, I drink water, I brush my teeth, I get exercise, I’m fine .” Yes Cas had still nightmares, he always had nightmares, not a night had gone by without him waking up in cold sweat, but he wasn’t about to tell Gabe that. 

Gabriel was silent for a moment on the other end of the phone. “I just worry about you Cas, that’s all.” 

Cas could hear the sincerity in his voice, and his anger started to fade. “You don’t have to worry.” 

“I can’t help it,” Gabriel replied, “I’m your big brother, I’ll always worry about you.” 

“Thanks Gabe,” Cas said quietly.  “How are you doing?”

Gabriel huffed out a sigh. “Honestly, I’ve been better. I’m just trying to keep living, Cas.” 

“Yeah, me too,” Cas replied. 

“Well, I’d better go, I just wanted to check up on you.” 

“Yeah, I have some soup to finish,” Cas said. 

“Shit man, did I interrupt your dinner?” Gabriel asked. 

“It’s okay,” Cas replied. He said goodbye to Gabriel before his brother could go any further into an apology, placed the receiver back in its cradle, and then moved back to the table where his cooling soup was sitting. 

****

“Good afternoon, Castiel!” Hannah called as she entered the kitchen, this morning Garth and Cas had opened and now Hannah was showing up to take over for Garth.

“Good afternoon, Hannah,” Castiel replied as he mixed together cake batter with a wooden spoon. 

“I just wanted to let you know that I’m here and that Garth’s already left,” Hannah said. 

“Okay,” Cas replied. 

It was just him and Hannah now, Anael hadn’t come into work today, she’d had some family emergency, and Garth was leaving to go on a fishing trip for the weekend with a few of his buddies. Naomi had shown up in the early morning and helped Cas with some of the baked goods, but she’d left again around eleven. 

Now, it was a little after noon and Cas was about to go on his lunch break, Hannah could handle the register until he was back and there were more than enough pastries to satisfy their customers. 

Cas picked up his paper bag with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and headed out the door. As he sat down with his lunch, a family of four walked into the bakery, a little girl clinging to her father’s hand and a little boy to his mother’s. Cas smiled as he took a bite of his sandwich and let his eyes travel across the street to The Winchester Tavern. 

The bar looked welcoming, with the OPEN sign hanging loosely in the window, whose glass was neatly polished. Cas could see the outline of customers through the windows and he saw a father and son laughing together as they ate their meals, and Cas decided then and there that he wasn’t going to go home for dinner, but that instead, he was going to eat at Dean’s bar. 

When Cas returned from his lunch break, Hannah was busy helping a customer and so Cas slipped back into the kitchen without a word. After a few minutes, Hannah came into the kitchen, a piece of paper in her hand. 

“I have a to-go order,” she said, handing him the paper. 

Cas looked it over: 

Two dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, a cherry pie, and a dozen chocolate chip cookies. 

It was quite an order, but they had everything in the order already made, so Cas placed everything in to-go boxes and then he handed them off to Hannah. 

 

The day dragged on, customers piled in, orders were given, Castiel baked and baked and baked, until finally, Hannah told Cas it was 6 o’clock and it was time to close up. 

Cas cleaned the kitchen and then helped Hannah sweep the floor of the main room before they both headed out the door, Hannah locking it behind them. She bade Castiel goodnight and then Cas was left standing outside the bakery, his eyes fixed on the light that illuminated The Winchester Tavern. Cas took a deep breath, and then crossed the street. 

The bell above the door rang and Cas almost flinched at the sound, almost . Cas’ eyes found Dean instantly, the tall handsome man was smiling behind the bar counter, talking animatedly to a man with what appeared to be a mullet. Dean instantly looked up when the door shut and their eyes locked for a moment, and Cas felt a shiver run through him. 

Cas had to tear his eyes from Dean’s as a man in his late twenties came towards him. “Hi there,” he said with a smile. “Table for one?” he asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Right this way.” Cas followed the man to a table and a menu was set down in front of him. “I’m Gadreel and I’ll be your server this evening, can I start you off with something to drink?”

“Uh, yeah,” Cas tried very hard not to look at Dean out of the corner of his eye. “I’ll just have some water.” 

“You bet,” Gadreel replied, and then he was gone. 

Cas forced himself to look at the menu. There was a limited selection but Cas was really craving a burger, so he decided to go with the bacon cheeseburger. He told Gadreel as much when the man returned to get his order and then all that was left was for Cas to wait for his meal. 

He sipped his water slowly, letting his eyes travel around the bar, out the window at the slowly darkening street, at the napkin dispenser, at his water, at anything but Dean. Cas was busy fiddling with the straw in his cup when someone spoke beside him. 

“Hey, uh, Castiel, right?” 

Dean . It was Dean. Cas pulled his eyes from his straw and let them meet Dean’s green gaze. Cas took Dean in. His plain black t-shirt that fit tightly to his chest, the muscles that took up most of his arms, his rag haphazardly thrown over his shoulder, the way his hair was spiked up in the front, the apron that was folded in half and wrapped around his waist, his worn jeans- Cas took it all in. 

“Yeah,” Cas replied, a smile coming to fruition on his face. “And you’re Dean.” 

Dean spread his arms wide and grinned. “The one and the only.” Dean pulled his rag from his shoulder and fiddled with it for a moment. “So, uh, what brings you to The Winchester Tavern?” 

Cas canted his head at Dean and looked at him through narrow eyes.  “Uh, hunger?” 

Dean laughed, it was short yet rough but Cas loved it. “You’re funny, Cas.” 

Cas felt his heart beat increase in his chest at Dean’s compliment, and how easily Dean had seemed to slip into using his nickname. “Really? I’ve been told I lack a certain sense of humor.” 

Dean couldn’t say any more because Gadreel arrived with his burger and Dean gestured towards it. “Enjoy your meal.” 

“I’m sure I will,” Cas replied. 

Dean hesitated for a second, caught between going back behind his bar and saying something. Dean decided to say something. “Your, uh, your pie was really good... just thought I should tell you.” 

Cas grinned. “Thank you, Dean.” 

“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Dean said awkwardly as he ran a hand over the back of his head before he took a step backwards and headed back behind his bar. 

Cas turned his eyes to the burger that was sitting in front of him, picked it up, and took a bite. Cas shut his eyes as the flavors washed over him, a little bit of meat, a little bit of cheese, a little bit of lettuce, a little bit of tomato, a little bit of bacon, a little bit of the crisp toasted bun that encompassed the burger, and there was some kind of creamy sauce that really tipped Cas over the edge; this was the most delicious burger he had ever tasted. 

Cas forced himself to eat slowly and not inhale the whole thing in three bites. He took his time, slowly bringing french fries to his mouth, savoring every last bite of his burger, drinking his water at a snail's pace. Cas was a little over halfway through his meal when, once again, Dean’s voice came towards Cas. 

“How is everything?” he asked. Cas could have been imagining it, but Dean sounded a little nervous. 

“Amazing, incredible, wonderful,” Cas replied.

Dean grinned. “I’m glad.” 

Dean left Cas to his meal and began wiping down the bar counter. Cas couldn’t help but watch; Dean’s arms moving smoothly over the counter, the way his muscles twitched as he pressed the rag into the counter, the set in his jaw as he concentrated. Dean’s eyes moved up and caught ahold of Cas’ for a moment, before Cas felt a blush rising on his cheeks and turned his attention back to his meal. 

By the time Cas finished it was dark, and Cas dreaded the thought of biking home in the cold without a light, so he made a quick decision to call a cab instead of trying to bike. Cas had paid Gadreel, told Dean he’d definitely be back, to which Dean had grinned like a school-boy and said he’d hold Cas to it. 

Cas was now standing on the curb, his disassembled bike beside him as he waited for his cab. It arrived within five minutes, the cab driver helped Cas put his bike in the trunk, and then they were off. 

Throughout the ride back to his apartment, Cas couldn’t stop thinking about Dean; Dean’s smile, Dean’s hair, Dean’s playful ease, Dean’s eyes, Dean’s laugh. Cas hoped he hadn’t been imagining the looks Dean had been shooting him from across the room, Cas had felt Dean’s eyes on him more than once while he’d been eating. 

When Cas arrived home, he paid the cab driver and then propped his bike at up against the wall, and headed inside. Cas couldn’t stop smiling as he sat down on his couch and picked up his book. Cas read until he heard the, now familiar, engine of Dean’s Cadillac pulling into the spot outside his apartment, and then he headed off to bed. 

****

Cas woke up with a strangled cry, his sister’s name on his lips as he gripped his sheets tight in panic. Anna. Anna was gone, Anna was dead. Cas forced himself to take deep breaths, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop his racing heart. 

Throwing the sheets off of his legs, he put on some shoes and headed outside to go for a walk, knowing it would help clear his mind. 

The walk did the trick, and Cas soon felt better, but the pit he felt in his stomach where his sister used to belong was still there. Cas decided that he would head to work early, bike slowly, and maybe go for another walk around the block the bakery was on before work. So that’s what he did. 

 

Cas was just beginning to gather ingredients for his latest baking endeavor, having just opened the bakery with Hannah, when the bell above the door went off and Cas heard Hannah yell “Dean!” in excitement. 

Dean. Dean was back? Already? And in the morning? 

“Hey Hannah, anything good cookin’?” Dean asked. 

“Cas hasn’t made our newest batch yet, but I’m sure he’s starting to,” Hannah replied. 

“That’s okay,” Dean said, although Cas could’ve sworn that Dean sounded slightly disappointed. “I’ll just have something from yesterday.” 

“Sure thing,” Hannah said. “What’ll it be?”

“How about… some blueberry muffins?” Dean asked. 

“We’ve got those, how many do you want?” 

“Let’s say two,” Dean replied. 

“Two it is.” 

Cas heard Hannah ringing Dean up, and he half wanted to go out and see Dean, but he forced himself to stay in the kitchen. Cas listened to the door open as Dean left and then he went back to filling a bowl with ingredients, wondering why Dean Winchester had decided to come back to the bakery so quickly.

Chapter Text

Dean couldn’t hide the fact that he was a little disappointed that he hadn’t seen Cas, but he tucked the box containing his blueberry muffins under his arm and headed over to his bar to open up. Dean did his usual sweep of the place and then sat down at one of the tables and began to eat his muffins. 

They were good. Amazingly good. Dean licked every last crumb from the box before he deemed it empty and threw it out. Now, he moved around his bar, preparing for the day while he waited for Benny to arrive. 

 

The day went by slowly, Ash and Asmodeus came and went along with other customers. Dean waited on people, wiped down his counter, poured drinks, and made casual conversation. 

 

It was nearing six o’clock when the door of his bar opened with a ring and Dean felt something that resembled shock and happiness fill him as his eyes focused on Castiel. The man looked nervous, but his steps were confident as he moved towards the bar and slid onto a stool. 

Dean swallowed his shock and met Cas’ blue eyes. “Heya Cas,” he said, a smile easily melting onto his face.

“Hello Dean,” Cas replied with a soft smile of his own. 

“What can I get you?” Dean asked, his hands already reaching under the counter for a glass. 

“Whiskey,” Cas replied. 

“Sure thing.” 

Dean poured Cas’ drink and then set it down in front of him and watched the man pick up the glass with slightly shaking hands. Dean’s eyes followed the glass up to Cas’ lips with curiosity, he’d seen that look before, he saw it every morning in the mirror, it was the look of someone who’d seen things he wished he hadn’t; the look of a soldier. 

Dean set his rag down on the counter and moved it slowly in front of him before asking quietly, “How long did you serve?” 

Castiel’s eyes snapped up from where he’d been staring at the liquid in his glass, and met Dean’s. “What?” 

“You heard me,” Dean replied evenly. 

Cas cleared his throat and then took another shaky gulp of liquor. “Two years,” he replied quietly. 

How Dean hadn’t picked up on Cas being a soldier before, Dean would never know, but what he did know, was that he now shared something in common with Castiel and he wasn’t about to let that go to waste. 

“Well you’ve got a year on me then,” Dean said with a nervous laugh. 

“You fought in the war too?” Cas asked in surprise. 

“Yeah, yeah I did,” Dean replied, “volunteered actually.” 

Cas’ eyes tilted back down to his whiskey. “I was drafted,” he muttered, almost too quiet for Dean to hear. 

Dean winced. Shit. Why did he have to bring up the war? If Cas was drafted he wasn’t going to want to talk about it. Dean could have picked literally any other topic to talk about, but he had to choose the war. 

“I’m sorry,” Dean said, it was the only thing he could think of to day. 

Cas shook his head, another sip of whiskey passing his lips. “It’s okay.” 

Dean cleared his throat and gestured towards Cas’ glass. “Want another?” 

Cas slid his glass across the counter. “Please.” 

Dean focused on pouring the whiskey, trying hard not to meet Cas’ eyes. When he pushed the glass back towards Cas, he didn’t pick it up right away. Dean moved a short distance away and began tidying the glasses under the counter. Dean felt like he had to make up for his awkward attempt at conversation, but he couldn’t find the right words to say. 

Luckily, he was spared from further embarrassment when Meg walked in the door. “Hey Dean,” she said as she plopped down on a stool. 

“Evening Meg,” Dean replied. 

Meg’s eyes moved to focus on Castiel and she smiled. “And who are you? I haven’t seen you in here before.”

Cas offered Meg a weak smile and Dean saw his hands tighten around his glass. “Castiel.” 

Meg crooked an eyebrow at him. “Castiel?” Dean didn’t miss the slight blush of embarrassment that was crawling up Cas’ neck and Dean was ready to call Meg out for making fun of him, but Meg was looking at Cas with a soft expression, not a mean one. “I like it,” she said after a minute. “It sounds angelic.” 

“Thank you,” Cas replied shyly. 

Meg smiled and then turned to Dean. “Alright, I want the usual.” 

“Way ahead of you,” Dean replied as he placed a freshly opened beer in front of her. 

Meg raised the beer in the air in Castiel’s direction, flashed Dean a big grin, and then took a long swig. Dean bit back a smile, Meg was the most unladylike person Dean had ever met, but it made her all the more lovable.

Dean left Meg to her beer and moved back over to Cas. Cas had already finished his newest glass of whiskey so Dean offered another refill and Cas graciously accepted. 

Meg spun in her chair and faced Cas, one arm propped up on the counter, clutching her beer, the other hanging loosely in front of her. “So, what are you drinking to forget?” 

Dean shot Meg a warning glance as Cas flinched slightly, his shoulders bunching up around him as he hunched over his drink. Dean didn’t expect Cas to answer, but he did. 

“Lots of things.” 

“I’ll drink to that,” Meg said with a laugh. 

The bell chimed above the door and Crowley entered the bar and took his seat beside Meg. Dean quickly made Crowley a pink squirrel and then headed back over to Cas. 

“Don’t let Meg bother you,” he said in a low voice, “she means well.”

Cas nodded, his gaze still fixed on his emptying glass. “I’m sure she does.” 

Dean fidgeted with his rag again, it was a nervous habit that he couldn’t seem to break. “Look man, I know we’ve just met and all, but…” Cas’ eyes had jerked up to Dean’s and Dean cleared his throat, trying not to forget what he was going to say while his eyes were filled with blue. “Um, if you ever wanted to talk, about, you know, it ... I’m uh, I’m here.”

Castiel nodded and a small smile split across his face as he returned his blue gaze to his drink. “Thanks, Dean.” 

“Uh, yeah, sure, no problem,” Dean replied. Dean hadn’t noticed that he’d been wringing his rag into knots and so it took him a second to unravel it before he moved back to Meg. 

“I’ll take another when you’ve got the time,” Meg said. 

Dean cracked open another bottle and set it down in front of her and then decided to begin cleaning up the rest of the bar while his customers had their drinks. Dean took his time, sweeping under tables, cleaning glasses, while also checking on Cas out of the corner of his eye. 

Meg and Crowley left at some point while Dean was filling a napkin dispenser, and then it was just Dean and Cas, the night slowly creeping further up on them. 

 

When Dean returned behind the counter, Cas’ glass was again dry and Dean filled it for what he was pretty sure was the sixth or seventh time. Dean placed the whiskey bottle under the counter and pulled his rag off of his shoulder and then was about to try and start up a conversation with him when Dean noticed that Cas’ shoulders were shaking. 

“Cas?” Dean asked, “you alright?” 

Cas sniffed and brought a hand up to his eyes where he wiped away what Dean could only assume were tears. “I just…” Cas said shakily, another sob wracking his throat. “I miss her so much.” 

Her? Her? Of course this is about a woman, Dean, dammit. Of course Cas is a straight male just like the rest of the normal population. How could he have been such an idiot? Did he really think he’d have a chance with someone like Cas? Who was he kidding? Cas wasn’t here to drink away his problems from the war, he’d probably learned to cope with the memories just like Dean had for fourteen years. This wasn’t about the damn war, it was about a fucking woman. 

Dean tried to tone down his growing disappointment and instead offer Cas the comfort he was so desperately seeking. “It’s okay,” Dean said, “there are other fish in the sea, as they say.” 

Cas’ glazed eyes narrowed in a confused little squint. 

God it was so adorable.

  “You think…?” Cas shook his head. “No, no it wasn’t…she was my sister, she died.” 

His sister. Good going Dean, his fucking sister died and you thought he was pining after some ex girlfriend. Smart, real classy of you, way to fucking go. 

“I’m sorry,” Dean said. 

“‘S okay,” Cas slurred, “you didn’t know.” 

“Still man, I didn’t mean to… I just thought…” 

“Dean,” Cas interrupted, again bringing his blue eyes up to lock onto Dean’s green ones. Cas swallowed hard, his mind clearly working to try and figure out how to push down the alcohol in his system and form full words. “It’s okay.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” 

The minute the words left his mouth Dean wanted to hit himself over the head with a bottle. He doesn’t want to talk about it, Dean. He’s drinking to forget it, why would you think he wants to talk about it? 

Cas slowly shook his head and Dean again cursed himself for trying to offer his ears to a man he hardly knew. “I think I should go,” Cas said. 

Great, you’ve made him uncomfortable and now he wants to leave. You’re so smooth, Dean. 

“Cas, you don’t have to,” Dean said, trying to at least regain some of his usual suave. 

“No I should… ‘s gettin’ late,” Cas slurred. He tried to stand up but his legs seemed to fail him and he fell to the floor with a crash, knocking over his stool as he went. 

“Cas!” Dean shouted in concern. He quickly hurtled the counter and landed on the other side beside the limp form of Castiel. Dean reached out and shook Cas by the shoulder, which earned a groan from Cas. “Are you alright?” Dean asked, worry pounding against his ribcage.

“Been better,” Cas replied. 

“Come on, let’s get you standing,” Dean said as he hooked a hand under Cas’ arm and helped haul him to his feet. 

Cas swayed where he stood and leaned heavily into Dean’s arms. Cas blinked up at Dean, his blue eyes looked so innocent in the haze of his drunkenness. “Thank you,” Cas muttered, holding Dean’s gaze for longer than he probably intended.

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied. Cas tried to walk away from Dean towards the door but he stumbled again and Dean quickly reached out to steady him before he could hit the floor. “Alright buddy, there’s no way you’re driving home like this-” 

“I don’t drive, I biked,” Cas said. Then he narrowed his eyes and screwed up his face in thought. “I don’t know where I put my bike.” 

Dean shook his head. “No, I can drive you, I’m about to close for the night anyway.” 

“I can call a cab,” Cas mumbled.  

“It’s no trouble Cas, really.” Dean moved Cas back to the bar counter and placed him on the stool that was beside the one that had been knocked over. Dean bent and picked up the fallen four legged stool and then set it back under the counter. “Stay here while I do one final sweep of the bar.” 

Cas didn’t object, so Dean quickly went through his nightly routine, and then, deeming the bar safe, he made his way back to Cas, who was now slumped over the bar counter. 

“Cas,” Dean said, gently shaking him. 

“Huh?” Cas groaned. 

“I’m going to bring you home, but you’ve got to tell me where you live,” Dean said. 

“Uh,” Cas tilted his eyes up as if in thought and then his gaze brightened. “Apartment complex, ten miles away,” he said. “You live there too.”

“Okay, let’s - what?” He actually lived in the same apartment complex as Cas and he hadn’t known? And the guy was biking ten miles everyday just to get to work!? 

Cas grinned at Dean sloppily. “I noticed your car the other day.”

“Shit Cas, why didn’t you say anything?” Dean asked as he brought Cas to his feet. 

Cas shrugged. “I don’t know.” 

Dean helped Cas towards the door and then propped him up against the wall while he locked the back door. “Alright, let’s go.” 

With one arm around Cas, Dean led the blue-eyed man towards his Cadillac and then helped him into the front seat before opening his own door. When Dean slumped into the driver's seat and glanced over at Cas, he was staring at the interior of the car with wide eyes. “Wow.” 

Dean grinned. “She’s pretty sweet, right?” 

“She’s beautiful,” Cas whispered. 

Dean turned the key in the ignition and the rumble of the V8 under the hood made Cas smile. “Wow,” he said again.

 

Dean made sure to drive slowly, so as not to upset Cas’ stomach, the last thing he wanted was to be cleaning throw up out of his seats. They made it to the apartment complex without incident and Cas was starting to doze. 

“Cas,” Dean said in a whisper. Cas grunted but didn’t answer. “Cas,” Dean said a little louder, “which apartment is yours?” Again Cas didn’t answer and Dean sighed. 

Screw it.

Dean pulled into his parking space outside his apartment and then got out of the car and opened Cas’ door. “Come on,” Dean said gently as he helped Cas move from the car. Dean helped Cas into the apartment complex and then up the few flights of stairs that led to his apartment room. 

Dean deposited a disorientated Cas on his couch and then moved to the kitchen to make him some coffee. 

Cas did not stay on the couch, instead he wandered over to where Dean was leaning against the kitchen counter waiting for the coffee to brew. “Is this your apartment?” 

Dean gave a short laugh. “Yeah Cas, it is.” 

“It’s nice,” Cas said with a smile. 

“Thank you.” 

Cas picked up a cup that Dean had left there in his haste this morning. Cas examined it as he asked, “Have you lived here long?”  

“Yeah, six years,” Dean replied. 

Cas put the mug down and turned his innocent, drunken, blue gaze to Dean. “Really?” 

“Yeah, Cas, really,” Dean chuckled. 

“I only just moved in,” Cas said, again moving his attention to something else on Dean’s table, a pen, and picking it up. “But I like it here.” 

The kettle behind Dean went off and Dean quickly switched off the stove and poured Cas a cup of coffee. “Here, you should drink this.” 

Cas took the mug from Dean without hesitation and brought it to his lips, humming softly as the warm liquid slipped down his throat. “Thank you.” 

“Yeah, no problem,” Dean replied as he poured himself his own mug. 

Cas moved from the kitchen back to Dean’s ‘sitting room’ and Dean watched Cas’ eyes travel over the old photos Dean had nailed to his walls or propped up on tables. Cas stopped by a photo of Dean and Sam when they were kids and picked it up. “Is this your brother?” 

“Yeah, that’s Sam.” 

“Does he ever visit?” 

“He came to see me just the other day,” Dean replied. “He’s engaged and asked me to be his best man.” Dean didn’t know why he was telling Cas this, it wasn’t like the guy was going to remember anything in the morning, he was pretty blitzed. 

“That’s nice,” Cas said. His face fell for a moment as he put the picture back and his hands wrapped tightly around his coffee mug. “Anna would have liked it here.” 

“Anna… was your sister?” Dean asked cautiously. 

Cas nodded, tears already pooling in his eyes. “Yeah. She got hit by a car.” 

Dean felt his stomach twist at the sight of Cas standing in his apartment, drunk and disheveled, crying over his lost sibling. Dean didn’t even want to think about what he would do if Sam died, he didn’t think he’d be able to live without his brother. 

Dean walked slowly towards Cas, setting his mug down on the table as he did so. “I’m sorry about your sister.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said in a murmur as a tear slipped from his chin. 

Dean put his arm around Cas’ shoulders and steered him towards the couch. “Yeah, no problem Cas. Now, why don’t you finish your coffee and then you can get some rest.” 

“Okay,” Cas replied. 

Dean set Cas down and then went back into the kitchen to clean up the coffee pot and wash his mug. Dean made quick work of the dishes and then went to retrieve Cas’ mug. Cas finished the last gulp of his coffee and then handed the mug off to Dean, who promptly washed it, before he went in search of a blanket Cas could use. 

Dean found an old tan blanket in the closet, deemed it good enough, and then handed it off to Cas. “Here,” Dean said, “so you won’t get cold.”

“Thank you.”

Dean watched as Cas snuggled up on the couch, his legs drawn up close to his chest and his blue eyes glassy with either alcohol or tiredness, probably both.

 “I’ll be in the next room if you need anything,” Dean said. 

“Okay,” Cas yawned.

“Sleep tight, Cas,” Dean muttered, more to himself than to the other man. 

 

Dean sat down on his bed with a sigh, pulling off his boots and letting them clatter to the floor. It had been a long day and Dean was ready for some sleep, even though he knew it would only be for a couple of hours. He tried not to think about Cas in the other room, curled up on his couch, a killer hangover brewing as he slept. Dean didn’t know why he felt so drawn to Cas, maybe it was the shared bond of being war veterans or maybe it was something completely different, Dean might never know. 

 Dean shook his head, trying hard not to think about Cas, and then pulled the covers over himself and let his head hit the pillow; he was asleep almost instantly.

 

Blood. Dean tasted blood. There was blood in his mouth and on his face and it took him a minute to realize that it wasn’t his. There’d been a gunshot, but Dean hadn’t been the target; the target had been the German boy that was now swaying in front of Dean, a hole in his chest and his mouth agape in shock. 

Dean’s eyes focused behind the boy to see Captain Bobby Singer, gun raised, face set in stone. Captain Singer gave Dean a curt nod and then disappeared into the fray of soldiers. Dean’s knees gave out the second Singer left and he felt bile rise in his throat, causing him to gag as he retched. 

After his stomach was emptied, Dean stood, his hands were shaking and he wanted to cry; but he didn’t, he swallowed his fear and his fingers tightened around his gun. 

Someone was shouting for cover and Dean swung his gun towards three Germans that were making their way towards a young boy. Dean hesitated for a second, his finger twitching over the trigger. One of the Germans pulled their own gun from around their shoulder and was about to take aim; knowing it was either the German or the soldier on his side, Dean pulled the trigger. 

The German faltered mid-step, blood plumeing over his chest. He fell to the ground and Dean took aim at the other two German’s, tears biting at the back of his eyelids. With two shots, they were dead and the soldier managed to make it to safety. 

“Winchester! Get down!” 

Captain Singer’s voice made Dean drop to his stomach, a bullet whistling by where his head had been a moment ago. 

Panic fluttered, trapped, in Dean’s chest and he pushed himself further into the mud. This time, the tears fell. He wanted to go home. He wanted to see Sammy again. He wanted to live. 

Harsh hands lifted Dean to his feet and he vaguely recognized Captain Singer. “Come on boy, you’re not dying here, not if I can help it.” 

Dean let Captain Singer pull him away from the battlefield. Shouting was heard everywhere, medics were being called, and someone was screaming...

 

Dean’s eyes shot open, breaths coming in gasps. The screaming from his nightmare was made a reality as Dean realized that it was coming from the other room. 

Wiping tears, that he must have cried from his nightmare, Dean made his way into his small sitting room; and there was Cas, the blanket Dean had given him was tossed on the floor and Cas was in a ball, screaming at the top of his lungs. 

Quickly, Dean reached out towards him, laying his hand gently on his shoulder and shaking him. “Cas, Cas, wake up!” Cas stopped screaming but only so he could begin to whimper. “Cas!? Dammit, Cas!?” Dean shook him harder and then suddenly, Cas’ eyes popped open, wild and blue. Cas reached out towards Dean, gripping him by the shoulders as he struggled to breathe. “Hey, hey Cas look at me, look at me, it’s okay,” Dean said calmly. 

Cas squinted at Dean in confusion. “Dean?” 

“Yeah, it’s me. Hey Cas,” Dean said, throwing Cas a smile. 

Cas still seemed confused, but he didn’t loosen his grip on Dean. “I…” Cas stammered. 

“Shh, just breathe, okay? Can you do that for me, Cas? Focus on my voice. Breathe in,” 

Cas took in a shaky breath. 

“Breathe out.” 

Cas let out a puff of air. 

“Good, good, do it again,” Dean encouraged. 

Cas kept taking deep breaths and slowly Dean saw the fear leave his eyes as he took in his surroundings. Cas’ hands slipped from Dean’s shoulders and he sat back on the couch.

“That’s it, just relax, you’re okay,” Dean said softly as he moved to sit beside Cas. 

Cas shifted his gaze from Dean, bringing them to land on his hands. “I’m sorry,” he sighed. 

“Hey, no, don’t apologize,” Dean said. 

“You drive me home, you give me coffee, and let me sleep on your couch, and I repay you by calling out in the middle of the night,” Cas mumbled. Dean could practically see the shame rippling through him.

Without thinking, Dean reached forward and put his hand over Cas’. “Look at me.” Cas cautiously raised his eyes to meet Dean’s. “Don’t apologize, okay? I have nightmares too, I was having one when you yelled, it was only a matter of time before I woke up anyway, you probably did me a favor.” Cas was silent, his eyes slowly returning to their normal, panic-free, blue. “Do you want to talk about it?” Dean asked tentatively. 

Cas shook his head. “No.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean made to leave but Cas’ hands tightened around Dean’s. “Stay. Please.” 

Dean stared at Cas for a moment and then nodded again. “Yeah, okay, sure, Cas.” 

Dean settled back down on the couch and Cas curled up again, his hands still holding onto Dean’s, like Dean was his anchor and without him he would set adrift to be lost at sea.

Dean knew he wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep, but he wouldn’t dream of leaving Cas to go back to his room. So, he stayed, and he watched as the alcohol in Cas’ system aided him in falling back asleep. Dean stayed with Cas all night, relishing in the warmth of Cas’ hands in his.  

 

When the sun started to peak through Dean’s curtains, Dean extracted himself from Cas and entered the kitchen. Cas still slept, seemingly undisturbed by the light seeping into the room. Normally, Dean would make himself breakfast, but he didn’t want to wake Cas, so he decided to just eat at the tavern instead. 

What Dean did decide to do, was to call the bakery and tell them that Cas wasn’t going to be in this morning; Dean could only imagine the kind of hangover Cas was about to wake up with. So, Dean picked up his phone and dialed the bakery’s number.

“Hello?” Naomi’s voice answered Dean’s call. 

“Hey Naomi,” Dean said. 

“Dean?” 

“Yeah, hi,” Dean replied. 

“How can I help you?” Naomi asked. 

“Well, I just wanted to tell you that Castiel Novak isn’t going to be into work today,” Dean answered. 

“Why can’t Castiel tell me this himself?” Naomi asked, a tinge of bluntness to her tone. 

“He’s sick,” Dean replied. Then, feeling the need to elaborate with a lie, he said, “He’s my neighbor and I usually give him a ride to work every morning, but when I went to get him he was halfway over the toilet. So, yeah, like I said, he’s sick and he won’t be into work this morning.” 

Naomi huffed on the other end of the line and then sighed. “Alright then. Thank you, Dean.”

“No problem,” Dean replied. 

He hung up and then busied himself with writing a note for Cas. He hated leaving him, but he didn’t have the heart to wake him up; this was probably the first night in a long time that he’d actually slept. 

Leaving the note on the coffee table with a glass of water, Dean got dressed and then headed off to work, wondering if Cas would still be there when he got back. 

Chapter Text

Cas blinked open his eyes and was immediately confused; this was not his apartment. 

He wasn’t lying in his bed, he was on a couch, his head was throbbing, his stomach felt like it was about to explode, and he had to blink a few times to clear his vision. 

And then, he remembered.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. 

He was in Dean’s apartment. He’d been drunk, really drunk, more blitzed than he’d been in a long time, and he’d done it in Dean’s bar. Cas felt embarrassment burn hot on his cheeks and he ran a hand through his hair and sat up with a groan. 

His eyes landed on a glass of water and a piece of paper. Cas reached forwards and picked up the note, it read:

Hey Cas,

Sorry to leave you, had to go to work. I called you in sick at the bakery, so take it easy. Take a shower if you want, there’s fresh towels in the hall closet, and help yourself to anything in the fridge or pantry, or anything else you might need. You can stay, don’t stay, whatever.  I’m closing early tonight so I’ll be back around 10.

 -Dean

Guilt swept through Cas like a wildfire. Dean, a man he hardly knew, had practically carried Cas into his apartment last night, made him coffee - yes he remembered, how could he forget? Even when he was drunk he seemed to wake up remembering everything-, sat with him after he’d woken Dean up with a nightmare, and now he’d left Cas alone in his apartment with access to his food, his shower, or ‘anything else he might need’. 

Cas had a perfectly good apartment right across the street, with his own food, his own shower, his own ‘anything else’; he should go. He should really go, he’d taken up enough of Dean’s hospitality, he should really, really , go. Gathering his strength, Cas pushed himself onto his feet, and then instantly regretted it.  

Everything dipped and swayed around him and Cas felt bile rise up his throat as his head began to pound like a drum. Cas could feel his stomach churning and he knew he didn’t have long to find Dean’s bathroom before last night's contents were all over the room. 

Moving as quickly as he dared, Cas headed towards the door that he assumed led to Dean’s bedroom. Finding that he was correct, he sought out the bathroom door and just barely managed to get the toilet seat open before he was on his knees. Cas coughed and sputtered, gagging on his own vomit as he tried to breathe.

 He was definitely not going anywhere. Cas wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to drag himself back to the couch, he might be better off staying on the bathroom floor until Dean came back. 

But, Cas didn’t stay on the floor. Instead he gripped the side of the toilet and carefully struggled to his feet. It took him a minute to get his balance, but when he did he headed over to the sink and attempted to wash off the throw up that was stuck to his chin. He tried to avoid looking at his reflection, but he caught a glimpse of his disheveled black hair that stuck up at odd angles, of his hallowed pale cheeks and his dull blue eyes that were sinking in his baggy eyelids. 

Cas turned away from the sink and concentrated on putting one foot carefully in front of the other. With each step his stomach lurched and he felt like he was going to collapse, but somehow he made it out of Dean’s room and back onto the couch. Once he was lying down he focused on evening out his ragged breathing and let his eyes drift to the ceiling of Dean’s apartment. 

After a few minutes Cas started to feel better, the rolling in his stomach had softened to a dull ache and the pounding in his head was significantly less noticeable; so, he decided to try and sit up again. 

Moving ever so slowly, Cas gripped the back of the couch and brought himself into a sitting position; his vision blurred for a moment but it quickly cleared. The note Dean had left him was on the ground but the glass of water was still sitting on the table and Cas reached for it, chugging it down in a few gulps. Cas sat back with a sigh, his empty glass hanging from his hand as his eyes fluttered shut. He would take the rest of the day slowly, and after he’d eaten something he would see if he was feeling up to heading back to his own apartment, even though there was a small voice in Cas’ head that was begging him to stay. 

 

It took Cas five minutes to find Dean’s pots and pans and then another five to find the butter in his fridge. Cas took two eggs from the carton that had been sitting on one of the shelves in Dean’s cluttered and unorganized fridge and began to make himself breakfast. He had to pause to steady himself a few times as he tried to crack the eggs into a pan, but he eventually managed to fry up two eggs and find a plate. 

Cas sat down at the kitchen table with his eggs and a glass of orange juice and then forced himself to eat, even though his stomach dipped at the smell of cooked food. After he’d managed to force his breakfast down he decided to take Dean up on the offer of his shower. Locating the hall closet, Dean had mentioned in his note, Cas found a towel and then headed into Dean’s bathroom.

He turned the knob for the hot water and let it run for a minute before he stripped out of his day-old clothes and stepped under the warm spray. Cas shut his eyes as the water rolled off of him, the heat of it allowing for some of the numbness he’d been feeling to fade. Cas picked up the shampoo bottle and took his time soaping up his hair, feeling the suds between his fingers and watching as some bubbles rose up in the air around him. 

When Cas emerged from the shower into the steamy bathroom he felt a lot better. It wasn’t until Cas realized he didn’t have fresh clothes to change into that his stomach lurched again. He didn’t really feel like putting back on his dirty clothes but he wasn’t about to take Dean’s clothes, even if the bartender had offered Cas ‘anything else he might need’ he didn’t think that extended to his clothing. So, begrudgingly, Cas dried off and slipped back into his dirty clothes. Now he knew he had to go back to his apartment, he wasn’t going to stay in his alcohol and throw-up covered clothes longer than he had to. 

Cas hung up his towel to dry and then did the dishes he’d used for breakfast and put them away. He then found his shoes and took his time in tying them, as if he hoped it would take him ten hours to tie the knots and that when he looked up Dean would be back from work. When Cas did raise his head, after successfully not throwing up on his black shoes, Dean was not back from work and Cas knew he couldn’t hold off leaving the apartment much longer. 

With a sigh, Cas headed towards the door and out into the hallway. Cas made a mental note of Dean’s room number, 316, before he went down three flights of stairs and found his way across the street to his own apartment. 

The first thing he did when he shut his door was head straight to his bedroom and get changed. Once in clean clothes, Cas plopped down on his couch and picked up his book, if he had the day off then he was going to try and relax. But Cas couldn’t relax, his mind kept wandering to Dean and his impossibly green eyes. 

Part of Cas wanted to go back to Dean’s apartment and wait for him to come home, he wanted to properly thank Dean for taking care of him last night. But Cas didn’t move, he stayed home, reading his book and pushing down the waves of nausea that would occasionally make themselves known. 

 

True to Dean’s note, Cas heard the rumble of the Cadillac’s engine at 10 PM later that night and Cas peered out of his window to see the black car gliding gracefully into its parking spot. Without pausing to think his actions all the way through, Cas was slipping into his shoes, pulling on a coat, and practically bolting out of the door. 

Dean was halfway around his car when Cas ran out into the street. “Dean!” Cas called. 

Dean spun around and his eyes locked on Cas. “Cas, hey,” Dean replied as Cas came skidding to a halt in front of him. “You’re feeling better I see.” 

“Uh, yeah,” Cas answered awkwardly. “Look, Dean, I just… I wanted to thank you.” 

Dean’s lips curled into a small smile. “Yeah, no problem Cas, anytime.” Cas felt like he had to say more but Dean was already speaking again. “It’s freezing out here, why don’t you come upstairs with me, I bought one of your pies again and I’m dying to eat it.” 

Despite the cold, Cas felt something warm spread through him and he smiled. “Sure.” 

Dean grinned and then turned around to lead Cas back into his side of the apartment complex. They surmounted the stairs and Dean brought them back into his apartment, setting down the box that held the pie on his kitchen table before he rummaged in his drawers for something to cut it with.

“Do you want some?” Dean asked when he turned around, triumphant, with a knife and  a fork in his hand. 

Cas shook his head. “No thanks.” 

Dean shrugged and plopped down in his chair. “Suit yourself.” Cas hovered awkwardly while Dean dug into the cherry pie Cas had made yesterday. “You can sit down you know,” Dean said over his mouthful. 

Cas slowly slid into a chair opposite Dean and watched as the bartender shoveled pie ungracefully into his mouth; Cas couldn’t help but smile. 

Dean looked up and caught Cas’ eye. “You sure you don’t want any?” 

Cas laughed. “I’m sure, Dean. Thank you.” 

Dean kept eating and once he was done he pushed the remaining pie away from himself and tipped back in his chair. “So,” Dean began. Cas waited for Dean to keep going, unsure what he was supposed to say. “I served you drinks last night, drove you to my apartment, fed you my food, and let you sleep on my couch, I think that entitles me to be allowed to learn something about you.” 

A blush started to rise on Cas’ cheeks but he pushed it back down and leaned forward in his chair. “Sounds fair. What do you want to know?”

The two legs of Dean’s chair that had been in the air hit the ground with a loud thud, and Dean shifted in his seat so he could be facing Castiel. “Well, first off, why did you move here?” 

Cas barely managed to control the wince that wanted to ripple through his body. He shifted his eyes away from Dean’s and let them focus on his hands. Dean seemed to pick up on Cas’ uncomfortable silence and he said, “You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to.” 

Cas wasn’t going to lie to Dean about why he was in Lawrence, Dean deserved the truth and he’d already told him half of the story anyway. So, Cas shook his head. “No, it’s fine, I’ll tell you.” 

Dean reached out a hand towards Cas but then stopped midway across the table, seeming to have decided against fully going through with his action. “Really, Cas, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”

Again Cas shook his head. “It was Anna.” 

Dean nodded slowly, understanding dawning on his face. “I get it, fresh start, right?” 

“Something like that,” Cas replied. He took a breath before continuing. “We used to share an apartment, so I could have someone there when my nightmares struck.” Cas took another breath to control the tears that wanted to break through the barrier he had set up behind his eyes. 

Dean hummed softly, taking Cas’ lapse in speaking to tilt back in his chair. “Sammy used to do that for me, when I first got back from the war. He wasn’t exactly helpful, he’d always try to calm me down but it never really worked. Mostly he was just something to hold onto, and that’s all I needed.”

“Anna was the same for me,” Cas said. 

Dean righted his chair again and leaned towards Cas. “You said you served two years?” 

Cas nodded stiffly. “Yeah.” 

Something shifted in Dean as his eyes traveled over Cas and he sniffed. “Look man, we don’t have to talk about the war, I’m sure you don’t want to relive it.” 

“Actually, I think it would be nice to have someone to talk to who understands what it was like,” Cas replied. It was true, he wanted to talk about the war, - don’t get him wrong, he hated talking about it, but he wanted to-, he had to face everything that happened at some point; and a lot had happened. 

Dean’s face broke out in a grin. “Yeah?” 

Cas grinned in return. “Yeah.” 

Dean ran his hand through his hair and cleared his throat. “So.” 

“So,” Cas replied, his hands twitching awkwardly in front of him. 

“Let’s just get the formalities out of the way shall we?” Dean raised his hand to his head and tossed off a lazy salute, “Private Dean Winchester, 70th infantry division, 2 platoon under Captain Robert Singer, at your service.”

Cas bit back a laugh and smiled as his own hand went up to his forehead in a salute. “Private Castiel Novak, 91st infantry division, 4 platoon under Captain Raphael Shurley, at your service.” 

Dean straightened up at Castiel’s words. “Wait, 91st infantry division? Wasn’t that the division that captured Futa Pass?”

Cas nodded, memories floating behind his eyes. “Yeah, that was hell of a day.” 

“Man I bet,” Dean replied with a huff as he scrubbed a hand down his face. 

“We lost a lot of good men when we took Futa Pass,” Cas said with a sad sigh. 

“I know what that’s like,” Dean said. “Sometimes I wish I’d died out there, ya know? Instead of watching everyone else die.” 

“Don’t we all? It’s called survivors guilt,” Cas said in a soft mumble. 

Dean grunted. “Yeah, I guess.” 

Cas’ mind drifted back to Dean’s earlier words and something sparked in him. “Hang on, you said 70th division?”

Dean smirked. “That’s right.” 

“Weren’t you guys in combat for months ?” Cas asked in a gasp. 

Dean’s smirk faded to be replaced by a somber frown. “Yeah. 86 days I think it was, which is only like two months or something, but it felt like longer.” 

“But, you… you were the division that took Völklingen.” 

“Yeah, they put up one hell of a fight too, but we got ‘em in the end. Fucking krauts,” Dean grumbled. 

“Were you…” Cas trailed off, the question was poised on his lips yet his mouth refused to ask it. 

Dean’s smirk returned to his face. “I was a lot of things, Cas,” he said, trying to add some humor to the conversation. 

Cas finally managed to get the words out. “Were you ever hit?” 

Dean chuckled, his eyes crinkling at the edges. “Yeah, took a bullet to the shoulder, and I got hit with some shrapnel here and there, nothing too fancy.” Dean licked his lips and leaned forward. “What about you?” 

Cas numbly nodded. “Yeah, I was. Barely. Bullet grazed me along my arm,” Cas rolled up his shirt sleeve to reveal a long bumpy scar that went from his elbow to the top of his bicep. 

Dean huffed at Cas’ wound. “Two years of service and that’s all you’ve got to bring home?”

Cas rolled his sleeve back down and refused to meet Dean’s eyes. “Yeah, I know, it’s pretty lame.” 

Dean waved a hand through the air. “Nah man, it’s miraculous if you ask me. Was Meg right, are you some kind of angel or something?” 

This time Cas couldn’t hide his blush. “No, I assure you I’m not.” 

“Could’ve fooled me.” 

Cas felt like something had just struck him in the gut. What? Did Dean Winchester just make a pass at him? Was he flirting or was Cas just delusional?

Before Cas could say anything Dean was instantly clambering to defend his words, his face almost as red as Cas’ had been a moment earlier. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to… I just… I never really know what’s going to come out of my mouth, I wasn’t trying to…” 

“Dean,” Cas cut into Dean’s rambling. Of course Dean doesn’t like you, don’t be an idiot Castiel. “It’s okay.” 

Dean seemed to relax but he didn’t stop trying to search Cas’ eyes for more confirmation that what he was saying was true. “You’re sure?” 

Cas nodded. “Yes, of course.” 

Dean melted back into his chair with a sigh. “Okay.” 

“I think that’s enough war talk for the night,” Cas said. 

“Right, yeah, I understand if you want to head home, it’s getting late,” Dean replied as he began to stand, but Cas put out a hand to stop him. 

“I didn’t mean we had to stop talking,” Cas said, “unless of course you wanted to.” 

“No, no, of course I want to keep talking to you,” Dean said hastily as he dropped back down into his chair. 

Cas didn’t even try to repress his smile as he took in the eagerness in Dean’s tone. “Great, well, you said you wanted to get to know me, so what’s your next question?” 

“Ah, ah, ah,” Dean held up a finger and wiggled it at Cas. “I don’t think that’s fair, you haven’t heard anything about me, this conversation should be mutually beneficial.” 

Cas laughed. “Alright then.” 

Dean spread his arms wide and grinned. “Ask me something.” 

Cas racked his brain for a question, there was so much he wanted to know about Dean. “Okay, why did you move here?” 

Dean pretended to look up at the ceiling in thought but Cas could tell that Dean already had his answer. “I didn’t move here,” he said after a moment. “Well, I moved into this apartment but I’ve always lived in Lawrence. Born and raised.” 

“Really?” Cas found himself surprised that Dean had managed to stay in one place his whole life, apart from the war of course. 

“Really,” Dean repeated. “Sammy on the other hand, he got out of Lawrence as fast as he possibly could, went to Stanford law school, and now he’s a lawyer with a beautiful girl on his arm.” Dean sniffed and clapped his hands together. “But that life wasn’t for me. I always wanted to own a bar, so that’s what I did.” 

“You followed your own dreams,” Cas said, “that’s all anyone could have asked from you.” 

Dean scoffed at Cas, his lips turning down in a frown. “Yeah, that’s not what my Dad thought.” Cas wasn’t sure if he was supposed to say anything but Dean continued after a minute. “He wanted me to stay in the military, ‘be a good little soldier’ or whatever, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.” 

Cas nodded in understanding. “I know what you mean.” 

“I volunteered to fight because I knew it was what my Dad wanted. Part of me wanted to do it too, the young teenage part of me did at least, the part that thought it would be an adrenaline rush and all fun and games, the part of me that thought I was invincible. But mostly, I did it because of him.” Dean’s green eyes were shining with water and he wiped the tears away with the back of his hand. “So when I got back, when I got out , I wanted to do something for me , but he wasn’t having it, so after Sam went off to school I left, moved through a few apartments and finally settled here after I was offered the lot with my bar on it.” 

Cas wanted to comfort Dean but he wasn’t sure if his affection would be welcomed so instead he said, “Well you did it, Dean, you made your own life. I mean look at you now, fancy car, great bar, a roof over your head, I’d say you did pretty well.” 

Dean chuckled softly and his eyes met Cas’. “Yeah, I think I did okay.”

Cas held Dean’s gaze for a moment before he dropped his eyes, but not before they lingered on Dean’s lips for a second. Don’t think about that Castiel , Cas scolded himself.

“It’s your turn now,” Cas said, trying to diffuse the awkward tension that had been building in the space between them. “Ask me something.” 

Dean looked thankful to have been given an out from talking about his family. “Hmm,” he pondered. “I know, what made you want to be a baker? Because I’ve got to say, Cas, your pies are the best I’ve ever tasted.” 

Cas laughed. “I always loved baking from a young age. I’d help my mother in the kitchen everyday. When I came back after the war,  the only thing that kept me steady was having something to do with my hands, so baking became my natural comfort.” 

Dean crooked an eyebrow at Cas, impressed. “Well you’ve certainly got a natural talent for it.” 

For what Cas was pretty sure was the third time that night, a blush took root across his face. “Thank you.” 

 

Cas spent another thirty minutes talking with Dean before he felt like he should excuse himself and go home. 

“You really don’t have to go,” Dean said as he stood up to show Cas to the door. 

“I’d love to stay, really I would, but I have to be up early to bike to w…”  

Shit . His bike was still at the bakery.

Dean immediately jumped to Cas’ rescue, knowing why Cas had trailed off. “Oh don’t worry about that, I can drive you to work tomorrow morning.” 

Cas shook his head. “You don’t have to do that, you’ve already done so much for me. I can take a cab or something.” 

“I insist,” Dean said. Cas felt a frown drop across his lips as he squinted at Dean in disbelief.  “Really, it’s not a problem, we work so close to each other we might as well commute together.” 

Cas tried to protest again but Dean wasn’t having it.

“Tomorrow morning, 8 AM, I will be at your apartment door to pick you up,” Dean said. 

Cas crossed his arms and pouted. “You don’t even know which apartment I live in.” 

Dean scowled at Cas as the realization that he was right dawned across his face. “Well you’re going to tell me.” 

“Or what?” Cas asked, fighting to keep a smile from his cheeks. 

“Or I’m going to follow you home,” Dean replied indignantly. 

“That’s very bold of you,” Cas said. He was unable to stop the smile that so desperately wanted to peek through his teeth as he finally gave in. “Fine, apartment 104. I’ll see you in the morning.” 

Dean was grinning in satisfaction like a child that had just been given candy. “We uh, we should do this again sometime, I really enjoyed our talk.” Dean brought his hand up to the back of his neck, a gesture that Cas was beginning to notice was something Dean did very often when he was nervous or felt awkward. 

“We should, I enjoyed our talk as well.” 

Dean beamed at Cas. “Great! We’ll have to set up a time for you to come over again, maybe for dinner or something; you may make great pies but I can cook a mean roast turkey.” 

“That sounds great.” 

Cas moved to open the door but Dean quickly rushed forward and opened it for him, holding it wide so Cas could step through. “Bye Cas.” 

Cas resisted the urge to look at Dean’s lips again and instead brought them to the forest of green that was Dean’s eyes. “Goodbye Dean.” 

Cas left Dean’s apartment and found his way back to his own establishment. 

As he settled down for the night Cas felt something flicker to life in his chest, something that he knew was the spark that might have just ignited feelings for Dean Winchester, feelings that Dean couldn’t possibly feel in return.

Chapter Text

Dean closed the door after Cas left and pressed his back against it with a sigh. Dammit Dean , you’ve gone and gotten attached to a man who will never like you in the way you want him to. Good fucking going man. 

 As Dean stood there, letting the wooden door bite into his back, his mind couldn’t help but run through everything he’d said, and possibly done wrong, throughout his conversation with Cas. Dean groaned as his thoughts stuck on “could’ve fooled me”, of course his big dumb mouth had decided to betray him, and he really hoped that Cas had meant it when he’d said it was okay. Dean would just have to make sure he kept himself in check when he was around Cas, he’d slipped up enough times in this one night to count for a lifetime. 

Pushing himself off of the door, with another sigh, Dean headed off to his room and collapsed onto his bed. A smile pushed its way through his thoughts as he remembered that he was picking Cas up tomorrow morning to bring him to work. Don’t do anything stupid, he immediately warned himself. 

Dean scrubbed a hand down his face and took a few deep breaths before he got ready for bed and tried to get some sleep before one of his nightmares hit. 

****

Dean pulled on his favorite leather jacket and then grabbed the car keys from the kitchen table before heading off to Cas’ apartment. 

The morning air was cold and it cut through Dean like a knife through butter, but he just pulled his jacket tighter around himself and picked up his pace towards Cas’ complex. Dean navigated his way through the apartments until he found room 104 and with slight trepidation, which could also have been some excitement, he knocked on the door. 

Within seconds the door opened and there stood Cas, bundled up in a blue scarf and a tan coat. Dean took in every aspect of Castiel that he could, from his blue eyes, that looked so much bluer against the contrast of his scarf, to his black hair that was sticking up in a few places. 

Dean smiled at him, hoping the other man hadn’t caught him staring. Come on Dean, keep yourself in check . “Ready to go?”

Cas nodded. “Yes.” Cas stepped out of his apartment and locked the door and then he and Dean headed down the hallway. “Dean,” Cas said as they reached the door to the street.

“Mhm?” Dean hummed.

 “I just wanted to thank you again, for offering to drive me.” 

Dean shrugged nonchalantly, at least he hoped it was nonchalant. “Like I said last night, It’s really no problem Cas.”

“I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me,” Cas continued to babble. 

Dean put his arm on his friends’ -yes friends’ - shoulder, causing him to stop walking. “Cas, how many times do I have to tell you it’s no big deal.” 

Cas didn’t argue anymore and they reached Dean’s car and slipped into their respective seats. Dean started up the engine, pulled out of his parking space, and headed off towards his bar and the bakery. Dean glanced over at Cas to see the blue-eyed man looking around the car. 

“She’s even more beautiful in the daylight,” Cas said quietly as he ran a hand over the dash of the Cadillac. 

Dean smirked, warmth spreading through him at Cas’ appreciation for his car. “She is, isn’t she?” 

“How’d you get her?” Cas asked. 

“Well it wasn’t easy,” Dean replied. “I had to work my ass off for the money to be able to afford her, but damn she was worth it.” 

“Wow,” Cas said. “How many years did it take you to save up the money?” 

Dean frowned in thought. “I guess it’d be around six, since I got my bar.” 

“That’s amazing,” Cas said, his blue eyes wide in awe. 

“You think so?” Dean asked, a child-like glee twinkling in his smile. 

“Yeah,” Cas replied earnestly. 

“Thanks Cas,” Dean grinned. 

 

Dean pulled into the parking lot of his tavern and he and Cas climbed out of the Cadillac. “Well, thanks again,” Cas said. 

Dean held up a hand. “Cas, seriously man, enough with the thank you’s.” 

“Sorry,” Cas replied, his eyes shifting downwards. 

Dean shook his head and sighed. “You don’t start work until 8:30, right?” Dean asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah, that’s right.” 

“Well then why don’t you come inside and I’ll make you some coffee before you have to go, no use standing around outside in the cold.” Dean hoped his offer wasn’t too forward, but Cas seemed to brighten at the idea.

“I’d like that,” he said. 

“Yeah?” 

Cas smiled and nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Great, come on.” 

Dean led Cas into the bar and told him to have a seat at the counter before disappearing into the kitchen to start the coffee. When it was ready Dean poured it into two mugs and then returned to the bar and placed a mug in front of Cas. 

“Thanks Dean,” Cas said warmly. 

“No problem,” Dean replied. 

They sipped slowly at their coffee, both unsure of what to say to the other. Dean started tidying up the bar, wiping down the counter, sweeping the floor, counting liquor bottles, anything to keep him from staring at the man sitting at his counter. 

When Cas stood up he set his empty mug on the counter and then hesitated in his walk towards the door. “Goodbye Dean,” he said. 

“Bye Cas,” Dean replied. Cas began to push open the door but Dean called after him. “Cas,” 

Cas turned back to look at Dean. “Yeah?” 

“I know you get out of work a lot earlier than I close my bar, but…” Dean cleared his throat and felt his rag tighten in his hands. “I could drive you home, so you don’t have to bike in this weather.” 

Cas smiled softly, his blue eyes filled with gratitude, but something lingered in his eyes, a barrier that Dean was trying to desperately to cross. “Thank you, but I wouldn’t want to impose.” 

“You’re not imposing,” Dean said, the words tumbled out of his mouth. “Really, I want you to come with me. I… I really like spending time with you, Cas.” Dean wanted to sink into the tiled floor of his bar and never be seen again. He was so stupid . He’d told himself he’d watch himself, make sure he didn’t say anything completely idiotic, but here he was, getting flustered like a teenage girl. 

The corners of Cas’ mouth twitched and Dean felt some worry unclench in his stomach. “Thank you Dean, but I think I’ll still bike home today.” 

Of course he’s going to bike, even in the cold. He was being too pushy, before he knew it he’d scare off the other man and never see him again. So Dean smiled, understandingly. “Yeah okay, sure. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.” 

Cas nodded. “Thanks again, Dean.” 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied. 

Cas looked like he wanted to say more, but he decided against it and instead pushed his way outside. 

Dean let out a sharp sigh. Just another thing you’ve managed to screw up . He forced himself to turn back to preparing the tavern for the day and when Benny walked in, Dean acknowledged him with a nod. 

“Mornin’ chief,” Benny said. 

“Mornin’,” Dean replied. 

Benny went off into the kitchen and Dean moved over to turn the OPEN sign towards the road before he took his place behind the bar. 

A few minutes later, the backdoor opened to announce Jo and Ellen’s entrance. “Good morning, Dean,” Ellen said as she pulled her apron over her head. 

“Good morning, Ellen. How are you today?” 

“Not so bad. Yourself?” 

“I’m alright,” Dean replied. He turned to Jo, “and how are you today?” 

Jo grinned. “I’m good.” 

“Awesome,” Dean smiled. 

Jo and Ellen went off to do their respective jobs as Gadreel entered the bar. “Hey boss,” Gadreel said. 

Dean crooked an eyebrow at him in surprise. “You’re actually on time today, who are you and what have you done with Gadreel?” 

Gadreel laughed. “I thought I’d give you a break for once.” 

“Get to work then,” Dean ordered. 

 

Ash and Asomdeus came in at their usual times and Den made them up their respective drinks and meals. At around 3:30, the door chimed and in walked a woman with a young girl in tow. Dean watched Jo lead the two to a table and start them off with menus. Dean knew who the woman was, she’d come into Dean’s bar more times than he could count, always with a new girl behind her, and always with a smile. 

Jody Mills was one of Kansas’ only policewomen, and she was damn good at her job. Jody worked not only to keep the city safe, but to help troubled girls find their feet again after they’ve gotten into legal trouble. Dean knew that Jody didn’t have to help the girls, that was beyond her pay-grade, but she did it anyway. Dean also knew what Jody’s appearance in his bar meant; when a girl Jody had been taking care of reached one month of being ‘trouble-free’, as Jody liked to call it, she would reward them with a hot meal of their choosing, which was a lot better than the slop they served in the girl’s homes. 

Dean moved out from behind his bar and headed over to Jody’s table. “Now now now,” Dean said as he approached the table, “you can’t just come into my bar without saying hello. Who do you think you are?”

Jody swiveled in her seat, a wide grin on her face. “Dean,” she said with a laugh. 

Dean spread his arms wide. “Come on, bring it in.” Jody stood up and let Dean wrap her in a hug. When she pulled away Dean gestured towards the girl sitting on the other side of the table. “And who do we have here?” 

“Alex, Dean, Dean, Alex,” Jody said. 

Dean offered his hand to Alex, she didn’t take it at first, but with a stern glare from Jody she finally did. “Nice to meet you,” Dean said. 

“You too,” Alex replied. 

“Dean’s the owner of the tavern,” Jody said. 

“That I am, and Jody here is one of my most valued customers,” Dean replied. 

Jody laughed. “Only occasionally.” 

“Excuse me, Dean,” Jo said from behind Dean. Dean turned to see Jo holding Jody and Alex’s drinks. 

“Sorry, Jo,” Dean said as he moved to the side. 

Jo placed the drinks on the table and then asked, “Are you ready to order or do you need more time?”

“I’ll just take a burger,” Jody said. 

“Me too,” Alex agreed. 

“Two burgers, coming up,” Jo replied. Jo headed back to the kitchen to place the orders and Dean left Jody and Alex to their own conversation.

 

Dean served Ash another beer and poured drinks for a few newcomers while always keeping an eye on Jody and Alex, talking quietly together as they ate. Dean was the first to notice that they had finished their meal, as Jo was busy with another customer, so Dean took it upon himself to take care of them. 

“I’ve already told you, I want to be a nurse,” Alex was saying as Dean walked up to the table.

“I know, and I’m not saying you can’t be, I’m just saying in the meantime, before you start applying to schools, you should try and find a job of some sort, it would be good experience.” 

Dean cleared his throat awkwardly to announce his presence. “Are you finished with your meal?” he asked. 

“Yes Dean, thank you,” Jody replied.

Dean reached for Jody’s plate and then Alex’s. He hesitated for a second before saying, “Jody, if Alex needs a job I’d be more than happy to give her one.” 

“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” Jody said. 

“You’re not asking, I’m offering,” Dean replied. 

Jody knew better than to argue with Dean, so she turned to Alex. “Well? What do you think?” 

Alex looked like she wanted to say no, but she nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean smiled. “Great, you can start tomorrow at noon.” 

“Thank you,” Jody said. 

Dean shrugged. “It’s nothing.” 

“You know it’s not,” Jody said.

“Thank you,” Alex said. 

Dean nodded. “You guys are all set, meal’s on the house.” 

“Oh no I couldn’t-” Jody tried to protest. 

“Consider it incentive for Alex to be on time tomorrow afternoon,” Dean said with a friendly, but pointed, look in Alex’s direction.

“I’ll be on time,” Alex said. 

Dean left Jody and Alex to gather their things but his attention was immediately reattached to the two women as he heard a man’s raised voice say something across the room from where he was seated at Dean’s bar. 

“Is that a police badge?” The man asked. 

Jody turned to face the man, putting herself between him and Alex. “Yes, it is,” Jody replied pointedly. 

“What’s a woman doing with a police badge?” 

“Making a difference,” Jody retorted sharply. “Come on Alex, let’s go.” Jody reached for Alex’s arm but the man stood up and moved towards Jody. Jody instantly took on a defensive stance. “Stay where you are,” she said warningly. 

“What are you going to do?” The man asked, his speech was slurred, Dean knew he was drunk. “You’re a woman, you can’t do anything.” 

“I can do plenty, thank you very much,” Jody snapped. 

The man continued to move towards Jody, very slowly, and Dean knew that Jody could take care of herself, but this was his bar, and he’d be damned if he let a customer berate Jody like this without doing anything. 

“Hey,” Dean said sharply, stepping out from behind the bar and moving between Jody and the man. “If you keep talking to an officer like that I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” 

“She’s not an officer, she’s a woman,”  the man retorted. 

“Oh, so women can’t do the job, huh?” Jody asked as she pushed herself in front of Dean. 

“That’s right, they can’t,” the man scowled. 

“I think women can do the job just fine,” Dean growled, his anger surfacing. 

Dean knew that there were so many people in the world who thought that women weren’t capable of doing anything but being good housewives, but he knew better. Dean had befriended enough women to know that you don't mess with them and you certainly don’t get in their way. 

“Women shouldn’t even be working,” the man spat in Jo’s direction.

“I think you need to leave,” Dean said, his voice hard. 

“Make me,” the man snapped back. 

“I can’t make you do anything,” Dean said, holding his hands up as he backed away slightly. “But she can,” Dean pointed towards Jody. 

“I’d like to see her try,” the man hissed. 

Before Dean could stop it, the man lunged forwards, fist extended towards Jody’s face. Jody easily dodged it and threw the man to the ground. “Alright, that’s it,” Jody said as she straddled the man, who was face down on the floor, and pulled out her handcuffs. “You’re under arrest for assaulting an officer. You can take up any complaints you have about my gender with my boss.” 

Jody cuffed the man, hauled him to his feet, and then gestured for Alex to follow her. She gave Dean a small smile as she led the man out of Dean’s bar. Dean sighed as he returned to work. The day could not go by fast enough. 

 

As it neared 6:30 Dean felt a headache take root in his skull and he groaned, he wasn’t going to last until one, he’d have to close early again. Dean felt bad sending Benny home again and flipping the CLOSED sign over; he’d closed early so many times this week and he hoped his regular night comers, like Crowley and Meg, weren’t too upset with him. 

Dean did his usual routine, locked up his bar, and then climbed into his Cadillac. He pulled out onto the street and headed back towards his apartment. He was halfway there when he noticed a figure hunched over the handlebars of a bike, pedaling quickly as he tried to beat the cold home. Despite his headache, Dean couldn’t resist pulling up beside him and rolling down his window. 

“Hey! Cas!” 

Cas didn’t hear Dean at first, but when Dean yelled his name a second time Cas looked over his shoulder and came to a stop. “Dean?” 

Dean grinned. “Hey.” 

“What are you doing out here so early?” Cas asked. 

“Headache,” Dean replied. 

“I’m sorry,” Cas said. 

“It’s okay, you look like you could use a lift though, it’s too cold out here, you’ll be a block of ice by the time you get home,” Dean said, again cursing himself for being so forward with the other man. Was he starting to appear clingy?

“Dean, I told you, I’m fine,” Cas said. 

“You’re not fine,” Dean argued. “Your nose is so red I almost thought you were Rudolf. You’ll catch a cold if you keep this up, please just let me drive you.” 

Cas looked like he wanted to refuse Dean again, but Dean could see that he was shivering uncontrollably and the heat radiating from Dean’s car was drawing Cas closer. “Alright,” Cas said reluctantly. 

“Awesome.” 

Dean hopped out of the car and helped Cas put his bike in the trunk, before the two men crawled back into the warmth of the Cadillac. Dean turned up the heat and Cas began to warm his hands over the vents. “T-thank y-you,” Cas said through chattering teeth. 

“Of course man,” Dean replied. 

“I’ve b-been m-meaning to g-get a c-car, b-but the t-time has never b-been r-right,” Cas stammered. 

“I know a good dealer,” Dean said. “He could set you up with a car for cheap.” 

“Really?” Cas asked.

Dean nodded. “Yeah, how about this weekend I take you down to see him?” 

“Yeah, okay, I’d like that,” Cas said. 

“Only thing is, he’s two states away, over in South Dakota, Sioux Falls, so you’ll be stuck in a car with me for about five hours,” Dean said with a chuckle. 

“I think I’ll manage,” Cas replied, a grin tripping over the corners of his lips. 

“There’s a few things you need to know about this guy before you meet him,” Dean said, as a fond smile slipped onto his face. 

“Okay,” Cas said, waiting for Dean to continue. 

“Well, first off, he was my Captain during the war, so don’t embarrass me,” Dean began.

Cas drew in a short breath of air. “Oh, I’m not sure I can do that, Dean.” 

“Well if that’s the case, then I’d like to retract my offer to help you find a car,” Dean said, jokingly. 

Cas seemed to think for a second before he said, “Alright, I will try my best not to embarrass you.” 

“Thank you,” Dean replied with another grin. 

“Okay, what else do I need to know?” Cas asked. 

“He was shot, so he’s in a wheelchair, and he’s not happy about it, so don’t make any jokes about standing or walking, or anything to do with legs.” 

“I’m not good at jokes anyway,” Cas said. 

“Perfect,” Dean replied. 

“Is that it?” 

“Yeah, I think that’s about it, if I think of anything else I’ll let you know.” 

They pulled up to the apartment complex and Dean helped Cas with his bike before bidding him goodnight. 

“Thank you, again,” Cas said. “You’re a very kind person.” 

“I try my best,” Dean replied, another soft smile poked against his teeth. 

“Goodnight Dean.” 

“‘Night Cas.” 

They each went their respective ways and when Dean got into his apartment he headed straight for his phone, despite his throbbing headache that told him to take a hot shower and go to bed. 

It took him a minute to find the number, but when he did he dialed it quickly. “Hello?” a gruff voice answered. 

“Hey Bobby,” Dean said. 

There was a grunt of what could have been laughter, or annoyance, on the other end of the line. “That’s Captain Singer to you.” 

“Oh come on, I thought we were beyond that,” Dean whined. 

“We’re not,” Bobby replied stiffly, although Dean could tell that he was trying hard not to smile. They were so beyond that.  “Anyway, what do you need, boy?” 

“Well, I’ve got a friend in need of a set of wheels,” Dean replied. 

“Oh?” 

“Yeah, and I was wondering if you could help him out.” 

“Sure thing,” Bobby said. 

“We were thinking of driving up to you this weekend, Saturday morning, does that work for you?” 

“Dean, I’m around all the time, anytime works for me,” Bobby grunted. 

“Thanks Bobby,” Dean said. Bobby didn’t correct Dean again and Dean took the small victory as he hung up and headed off to take that warm shower. 

Dean crawled into bed at just a little after 8, and was asleep almost as soon as his head hit his pillow, exhaustion pulling him into the dregs of sleep, and thoughts of a weekend with Cas filtering into his dreams.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Cas was busy making himself some breakfast when there was a knock on the door. He looked up at the clock above his stove, it was 7:00 A.M., who could be knocking on his door that early in the morning? Brushing his hands on his pants, he made his way to the door, flung it open, and there, slightly out of breath, stood Dean Winchester. 

“Dean?” Cas asked in surprise, he suddenly became very aware of the fact that he was still in his pajamas and was wearing a dark blue bathrobe. 

“Good, I caught you before you left,” Dean said, his chest still heaving. He must have run here.

Cas pulled his bathrobe tighter around himself and stepped out of the doorway. “Why don’t you come in, I was just about to make breakfast, have you eaten?” Dammit Cas, seriously? ‘Have you eaten?’ is that really the best you can come up with?

“I haven’t eaten,” Dean replied, “but I wouldn’t want to trouble you.” 

Cas laughed. “Now look who’s apologizing. Making you breakfast is the least troubling thing I could be doing this morning, and besides, I want to repay you for all the kindness you’ve shown me these past few days. So please, come in, and then you can tell me the real reason you’re here.” 

Dean hesitated for a minute before complying and walking into Cas’ apartment. He led Dean into the kitchen and continued making breakfast, which was pancakes. 

“So uh,” Dean cleared his throat awkwardly as he hovered beside Cas. “I was coming over to say that I talked to my former Captain and he said he can help you out this weekend.” 

Cas paused in whisking together the pancake mixture to turn and look at Dean. “That’s great.” 

“Yeah, so I figured we could leave Saturday morning, around eight-ish?” 

“That sounds good,” Cas replied. 

“And, I want you to be extra certain you’re okay with spending five hours in a car with me,” Dean said. 

If he wasn’t mistaken, and he very well might be seeing as he is the worst at reading people, Dean looked, and sounded, nervous. Cas was quick to ease Dean’s worries. “Of course I’m okay spending five hours in a car with you.” 

“Okay, okay good.” 

Dean seemed to relax and he sat down in one of the kitchen chairs as Cas went back to making breakfast. Everything about Dean sitting in his kitchen, letting Cas make him breakfast, seemed so domestic and almost, dare he say, natural . He could almost picture it, waking up with Dean beside him, making them breakfast every morning, heading off to work together… Cas had to stop himself from going too far into his fantasies as the pancakes in the pan began to burn slightly. 

“Do you need any help?” Dean asked from his seat. 

Cas shook his head as he flipped a golden-brown pancake over. “No, I’ve got it.” 

“You sure?” 

“Yes, just sit tight,” Cas replied. 

He flipped over three more pancakes and then transferred the finished ones to two plates. Cas set a plate down in front of Dean and then fetched some syrup from the counter. 

“Thanks Cas,” Dean said.

“You’re welcome.”

They ate in silence for a minute until Dean spoke. “I can drive you to work again if you want.” 

Cas wanted to accept Dean’s offer, he really did, but he couldn’t keep taking advantage of Dean and his car, the man was already going to drive him five hours just so he could buy a cheap car, which was something that he certainly didn’t need to do. 

“No that’s okay, I can bike,” Cas replied. 

Dean set his fork down and it clinked against the plate. “Cas, seriously dude, you can’t keep putting yourself through that every day.” 

“It’s fine, Dean,” Cas said, maybe a little too harshly. 

A brief look of hurt came over Dean’s face but he covered it up quickly. “If you’re sure.” 

“I am,” Cas replied, even though he was the farthest thing from sure, but he wasn’t about to make Dean keep driving him to work. 

“Okay,” Dean said quietly as he took another bite of his pancake. “These are really good by the way.” 

Cas blushed. “Thank you, it’s my mother’s recipe.”

“Well send my compliments to her then,” Dean said. 

Cas laughed as he raised his own bite of pancake to his mouth. “I will.” 

When they finished breakfast Dean insisted on helping with the dishes and then Cas told Dean that he had to leave for work; they walked side by side as they headed outside. He mounted his bike and Dean bade him a reluctant goodbye and then Cas set off towards the bakery. 

He arrived just a little after 8:15 and as he was about to unlock the bakery door - Naomi had finally entrusted Cas with the keys to the place so he could start before the other employees arrived- when he heard the unmistakable sound of Dean’s Cadillac. Dean honked at him and waved from his open window and Cas bit back a smile as he let himself into the bakery. 

Cas was starting to prepare pastries for the day when the chime above the door went off; he knew who it was before he even entered the main room. 

“Dean,” Cas said as he saw the tall form of his friend standing in front of the cash register. Dean grinned at Cas and Cas sighed. “We’re not open yet.”

 Dean crooked an eyebrow at Cas and his grin became a smirk. “Is that so?” 

Cas crossed his arms. “Yes, that’s so.” 

“Can’t you help a guy out?” Dean asked as he tossed a wink in Cas’ direction. 

He sighed. “I suppose, but only because it’s you.” 

Dean beamed at him and he pointed at one of Cas’ pumpkin pies. “I’ll take one of those.”

Cas reached into the glass case and pulled out a pie. “Do you want a box?”

“Yeah, I’ll take a box,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll be back in a moment.” 

He headed back into the kitchen, pulled a box from a shelf and boxed up Dean’s pie. When he returned, Dean was waiting patiently, money in hand. “Thank you,” Dean said as Cas handed him the pie and put the money on the counter. 

Cas rang up Dean and handed him his change. “Have a nice day.” He turned to head back into the kitchen but Dean’s voice brought him back. 

“Cas,” 

Cas’ eyes met Dean’s. “Yeah?” 

“The other night, we uh, we talked about maybe you coming over for dinner, and I was wondering if…” Dean cleared his throat and Cas found himself falling deeper into Dean’s green eyes. 

“If?” Cas asked. 

“If you were around tonight?” Dean finished in a rush. 

Cas felt a smile spread across his face so fast it almost hurt. “Yes Dean, I’m around tonight.” 

“Awesome,” Dean grinned. “I’m closing early again, so I can go pick up some things from the store, so how does eight sound?” 

“Eight sounds wonderful,” Cas replied. 

“See you then,” Dean said as he began to back out of the bakery. 

Cas tried to control his rapidly beating heart as he went back into the kitchen. Dean had invited him to dinner; it’s not a date Cas, he had to remind himself, it’s just two friends getting to know each other. 

 

But, throughout the rest of the day, no matter how hard he tried, Cas couldn’t keep the smile from his face or the butterflies from his stomach. Hannah had even inquired as to why he was in such a good mood. “Do you have a hot date tonight or something?” she’d asked. 

“Something like that,” Cas had replied, even though he knew it wasn’t true. 

 

Now, Cas was helping to close up the bakery and then he had to bike home to get ready for dinner with Dean. Not a date, just dinner, he kept reminding himself. After he’d finished closing, he mounted his bike and pedaled home as fast as possibly could. 

Cas reached his apartment breathless, wind-swept, and tired, but he ignored his aching limbs and rushed inside to shower and get changed into something that wasn’t covered in flour. He made sure to take his time under the steady hot stream, he scrubbed every inch of his body and washed his hair three times all the while muttering to himself that it wasn’t a date

After his shower, Cas toweled off his hair and shaved, and then he got dressed in a light blue button down shirt and black pants - he debated putting on a tie but decided that it would probably be too much, this wasn’t a date after all -. He combed down his hair, taking in his appearance in the mirror, he didn’t look too bad, some of the dark circles had vanished from under his eyes and he wasn’t as pale as he usually was. 

Cas glanced at the clock by his bed and saw that the minute hand was nearing the ten and the hour hand was hovering by the eight. He would give it another five minutes and then start his walk over to Dean’s apartment; or, he could start now and just walk really slowly. Cas opted for the second option and pulled on his coat, put on his shoes, and headed out the door at a slow pace. It was cold outside and wind touched his damp hair and sent a shiver through him; even though it was early November now, winter was definitely just around the corner.

Cas reached Dean’s apartment door with five minutes to spare and brought his fist up to the door to knock gently - It was then that he realized he hadn’t brought anything to share with Dean, he hoped Dean wouldn’t notice. Shuffling was heard on the other side of the door and then it was flung up to reveal Dean, an apron over his neck and a red oven mitt over his right hand.

“Cas!” Dean exclaimed, as he wiped his forehead with the back of his left hand. 

“Sorry, I’m a bit early,” Cas said. 

“No no, you’re right on time, please come in,” Dean replied, gesturing inside the apartment with his mitted hand. 

Cas suppressed a laugh and moved past Dean towards the kitchen table, which Dean had set with plates, cutlery, and two wine glasses. 

“I was just about to get the turkey from the oven, so have a seat,” Dean said.

Cas sat down and watched as Dean pulled a small roasted turkey from the oven and began to carve it. On two plates, he put slices of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy. Cas’ mouth started watering just by looking at it. Dean put a plate in front of him and Cas let out a breath. 

“Wow.”

“Is it too much, it’s too much isn’t it?” Dean rambled as he sat down.

“No Dean, I love it,” Cas said, unable to hide his smile. 

“You do?” Dean asked, his green eyes searching Cas’. 

“Yeah, it’s perfect,” Cas replied.

“Really?” 

“Really,” Cas laughed. 

  Not. A. Date .

“Well in that case, would you care for some wine?” Dean asked as he picked up the wine bottle from the middle of the table. 

“Don’t mind if I do,” Cas replied, extending his empty wine glass towards Dean. 

Dean filled it with the red liquid and then filled his own before he sat back with it and took a sip. “So, how was your bike home?” Dean asked as he picked up his fork and knife. 

Cas began to cut his turkey as he replied. “Cold.”

“Well, hopefully you’ll have a car this weekend so that won’t be a problem for much longer,” Dean said. 

“That’s the hope.” Cas raised his fork, stuffed with turkey and mashed potatoes, to his mouth. “Alright Dean, this better be as good as you say.” 

Dean’s lips quirked up at the edges. “I’m a man of my word.” 

Cas let the fork pass his lips and chewed slowly for a moment, letting the flavor fill his mouth. It was good, very good, probably the best thing he’d ever tasted. Dean was staring at him expectantly and Cas swallowed carefully, keeping his face as neutral as possible. “It’s good,” he said. 

Dean huffed and leaned forward in his chair. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” 

Cas shrugged. “Yeah, I think that’s all there is to say.”

“I slaved over this meal for hours and the only think of is ‘it’s good’?” Dean said with a exasperated gruffness. 

Cas chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Okay, it’s really really really amazing, probably the most amazing thing that has ever graced my tastebuds, the potatoes are fluffy and buttery and the turkey is perfectly seasoned. I can see now why you own the tavern, you’re the best cook in the entire world. There, was that what you wanted?”  

Dean was grinning stupidly at him and Cas found himself returning the grin as Dean sat back in his chair, his green eyes lingering on Cas fondly. “Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted.” 

They stared at each other for a minute before Dean broke eye contact and returned to his meal, leaving Cas to do the same. They ate in silence for a little while, enjoying the good food and wine. 

“So,” Cas said after a little while. 

“So,” Dean replied, his lips just shy of his wine glass. 

Cas leaned forward, elbows on the table bordering his almost empty plate. “Ask me something.” 

Dean swallowed his wine, another grin on his face. “Oh we’re going there are we?” he asked. 

“Well we’re still basically strangers and so I thought this would be the quickest way to learn more things about each other,” Cas replied. 

“Alright then,” Dean said. “Let’s try something mundane. What’s your favorite color?” 

“Blue,” Cas replied instantly; since he was a child he’d always loved blue and he wasn’t sure why. 

“What kind of blue though?” Dean asked. “Like dark blue, light blue, the color of your eyes blue, what kind of blue ?”

The color of your eyes . Cas felt his heart skip a beat and he barely managed to keep a blush from rising up his body. “Dark blue,” he replied, “darker than the sky and lighter than navy.”  

“Well that’s valuable information,” Dean said, a mischievous glint in his eyes. 

Cas snorted. “What could my favorite color possibly be useful for?” 

Dean shrugged. “You never know. Alright, your turn, ask me something.” 

“What’s your favorite color?” Cas asked. 

“Red,” Dean replied, without missing a beat. 

“What kind of red though?” Cas mimicked Dean. “Like dark red, light red, the color of blood red, what kind of red ?” 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Alright smart ass, dark red.” 

“Hmmm,” Cas said, pondering Dean’s answer. He again mimicked Dean’s voice as best he could and said, “That could be valuable information to know.” 

Dean laughed. “I don’t sound like that at all ,” he protested. 

“You so do,” Cas retorted with a laugh of his own. 

“My voice isn’t nearly that high,” Dean whined. 

“How would you know? Your voice sounds different inside your head than it does to others,” Cas said. 

Dean pouted at Cas but instead of arguing he asked another question. “When you were growing up, how did you pass the time?” 

Dean was good at this question asking thing and Cas found himself actually having to think about his answer. “Well, my brother Gabriel and I would play together a lot. We’d play things like hide and seek or we’d invent some other game. Anna would join in too, but she always ended up winning everything we played.” A sad laugh of fondness came out of Cas’ mouth as he remembered his childhood. “And of course I’d bake with my mother.” 

“That sounds fun,” Dean said. 

“It was for the most part, until my father left us.” 

“I’m sorry that happened to you.” 

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Cas said, his eyes were focused on his wine glass and he tried not to let his memories slip into the day his father left, but it pushed itself through anyway and he found himself telling Dean. “It was a sunny Saturday, I was ten or eleven, maybe younger, maybe older, it’s all a blur. I just remember my mother shouting in the kitchen, arguing with my father. She’d caught him sneaking off to see another woman and my father said that he loved her more than my mother or us… so my mother told him to go, and he went... and he never came back. I haven’t seen him since that day, I don’t even know if he’s still alive.” 

“There are ways to find out, Cas,” Dean said. 

“I know, but I just can’t bring myself to look,” Cas replied. 

“That’s understandable.” 

“Sorry to have dragged us down painful memory lane,” Cas laughed awkwardly. 

“Well I was about to tell you about my horrible childhood, if you wanted to hear it,” Dean said. 

Cas nodded. “That’s the point of these questions isn’t it? To learn about the other, the good and the bad.” 

“Exactly,” Dean replied. “So do you want my life story while I’m at it or just the traumatizing events of my early childhood?”

Cas grinned. “I’ll take whatever you can give me.”

“In that case,” Dean rubbed his hands together, finished off the last sip of wine that was swirling around at the bottom of his glass, and then sat forward. “It was the 24th of January 1926, a blizzard was raging on outside and my mother had been pushing for-”

Cas held up a hand to stop Dean. “Maybe not that far back Dean,” he said through a chuckle. 

“You asked for whatever I could give you,” Dean protested. 

“I take it back, or we’ll be here all night.” 

Dean sighed. “Alright, you have a point, although I wouldn’t mind spending the whole night talking with you.” 

Cas blushed again, so did Dean, and the overwhelming urge to reach out and take Dean’s hand, which was resting on the table by his plate, fought to take over him, but Cas resisted. “I wouldn’t mind that either, but I do have to work tomorrow and I’d like to try and get some sleep.” 

“Fair enough. So I guess I’ll start with the trauma then,” Dean said. He took a breath and then met Cas’ eyes, Cas wasn’t sure what to expect. “It was November 2nd, 1930, the day Sam turned six months old. I woke up to the smell of smoke filling the house, I could hear flames at my door and my father shouting for my mother. I stumbled out of my room to see my Dad carrying Sam in his arms, I could see that the nursery was on fire behind him and my mother was nowhere to be seen. Before I knew what was happening Sam was pushed into my arms and my father was shouting at me over the roar of the fire - “take your brother outside as fast as you can, now Dean, go!” -  and then I watched him run back into the nursery, screaming my mother’s name. I did as my father told me and I took Sammy to safety, and when I turned around my Dad was running out of the house and my mother wasn’t behind him.” Dean paused to take a deep breath and Cas was again taken over by the urge to take the other man’s hand in his own. 

“I’m so sorry,” Cas said in a whisper. 

Dean sniffed. “Yeah, everything else just went downhill from there. My Dad became a drunk, stopped taking care of me and Sammy, I practically raised my brother. I mean sure, he was there, he bought food, he lived with us, but he wasn’t a parent, he was always distant, and when he wasn’t distant, he was violent. I took so many hits to protect Sam, so that he was tired out by the time he tried to get to him.” 

“That’s awful,” Cas muttered. 

“Yeah it sucked,” Dean replied. “The only time John Winchester was ever interested in my life was when the war came around and he could send me away.” 

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Cas said. “I bet he loved you.” 

“Well then he sure had a hell of a way of showing it,” Dean grunted and his eyes lowered to his hands. “He’s dead, so I’ll probably never find out exactly how he felt about me. I was always his biggest disappointment, Sam on the other hand, was his prized child. I’d never seen my father more proud than in the moment Sam told him he was going to college. I on the other hand, went off to own a bar, like the useless son I am.” 

“Dean,” Cas said softly, “you are not useless.”

Dean raised his eyes to meet Cas’ and a small smile twitched on his lips. “Thanks Cas.”

“Alright, let’s move on shall we?” Cas asked gently, pulling his eyes from Dean’s. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, let’s.”

“It’s my turn right?” 

“I believe so,” Dean replied. 

“Okay, let’s see, who was your first crush?” Cas asked. He was heading into dangerous territory now but he wanted to know about Dean’s love life, he had to know. 

Dean chuckled. “Amanda Heckerling.” 

A girl, of course it was a girl . Did you really think he’d answer a guy? There was no way that someone like Dean Winchester liked boys, no way in hell

Dean continued. “Amanda was the prettiest girl in school, head of the cheer-leading squad, popular, everything I guy could wish for.” 

“So, did you ask her out?” Cas asked. 

“I was getting there. Yeah, I did ask her out, and she must have been insane because she said yes ,” Dean laughed and then ran a hand through his hair. “We didn’t last long though, she dumped me after a month or so, never said why.” 

“Wow.” 

“What about you?” Dean asked. 

Cas had been prepared for the turn around question but he hadn’t decided if he wanted to answer it honestly or not. In a split second decision, that he might regret later, Cas went for honesty. “His name was Inias.” 

“His?” Dean repeated. 

“Yes, his,” Cas confirmed, he felt his chest tighten as he tried to breath. 

“So, you’re gay ?” Dean asked. There was no judgment, that Cas could hear, in Dean’s voice, only curiosity. 

“Yes,” Cas again confirmed. He felt the need to go further. “Is that a problem? I know people like me aren’t exactly accepted around here and if I’ve made you uncomfortable I can go, I just wanted to tell you the truth-” 

“Cas,” Dean interrupted, a smile on his face. Cas’ frantic eyes met Dean’s soothing green gaze as he said, “It’s not a problem at all . I’m glad you were truthful with me because I was trying to figure out how to tell you that I’m actually bisexual.” 

Bisexual? That meant… that meant that Dean did like guys, that meant that Cas might actually have a shot with him.

“You are?” Cas asked in shock, he needed to hear Dean say it again. 

“Yeah, crazy right?” Dean laughed. 

“Yeah, crazy,” Cas echoed. 

“So, anyway, you were telling me about Inias ,” Dean said as he leaned forward, his eyes intently boring into Cas’.

Cas cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah, right, Inias. Well, I was around thirteen, and he was the new kid at school. He quickly fit in with the jocks and the popular boys, but he was in three of my classes, he sat right behind me, and so we’d often be paired together for projects and things. I never thought I had a chance with him, because like I said, people like me, us , aren’t exactly accepted in this society, but, one day we were studying together and... he kissed me. We dated secretly for a year and then he broke it off, but we still remained friends.” Cas fidgeted with the napkin in his lap as he said the next part of his story, “He was drafted into the war, like me. We sent letters to each other, but then one day the letters stopped coming; It wasn’t until I got home that I learned he was killed in action.” 

“Wow,” Dean said in a breath. 

“Yeah.” 

Dean picked up his plate and stood up, reaching for Cas’ plate as he did so. “I think we’ve talked about enough depressing things for one evening, how about some dessert?” 

“I’d love some dessert, thank you,” Cas replied, thankful for the out Dean was giving him. 

“Well you’re in luck, because I just happened to have picked up a pumpkin pie from a little known bakery called The Yellow Sparrow.” 

Cas canted his head to the side and squinted at Dean. “Where’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” 

“It’s right across the street from my bar and it has the best pies I’ve ever tasted,” Dean replied smoothly as he put the dishes down on the counter and reached for the boxed pie and two smaller plates. 

“Is that so?” Cas asked. 

“That is so,” Dean replied as he set the pie down in the middle of the table. He reached for a knife and then cut two pieces and distributed them to the waiting plates. 

Cas took the pie from Dean and together they dug into the dessert. Cas had to admit, this particular pie had turned out pretty well. He didn’t like eating his own creations as much as he probably should, but whenever he did he was always shocked to find that what he’d made actually tasted good

“The baker of this pie really outdid himself,” Dean said through a hum.

Cas shrugged. “I think it could have been better.”

“Well I  think it’s perfect,” Dean said, almost in a whisper as he stared at Cas. 

Cas had to look away to prevent himself from bringing his gaze to Dean’s lips, lips that he so badly wanted to kiss. 

 

The night went on, they talked through dessert, talked after dessert, and then Cas helped Dean clean up. Clean up consisted of laughter and soapy water being thrown in his general direction by Dean whenever Cas tried to take anything from the bin Dean was washing dishes in. 

It was getting late, and Cas didn’t want to leave, but he knew he had to go home. Dean walked him to the door and then there was a brief moment of awkwardness before Dean pulled Cas into a tight hug. He was surprised at first, but he quickly melted into Dean, bringing his hands up to the other man’s back. Dean was sturdy and strong, and Cas could hear his heartbeat through his shirt, he never wanted to let go. 

Dean pulled away first and took a respectful step away from Cas. “Well, we should definitely do this again sometime.” 

“We definitely should,” Cas replied. “This was fun, thank you for having me.” 

“Thank you for coming, and eating my food.” 

Cas smiled warmly at Dean and then raised his hand in farewell. “Goodnight Dean.” 

“‘Night Cas.” 

Cas left Dean’s apartment and headed over to his own, a smile never leaving his face.

 

****

Cas woke the next morning to a problem. His throat hurt each time he swallowed, his chest felt like someone was sitting on it, every other second he produced a cough from his mouth, and he couldn’t stop shivering. 

He stumbled to the bathroom and tore open his medicine cabinet to find the thermometer he kept there. The temperature that hit his eyes, after having placed it in his mouth for a minute, was that of 101.4. Cas groaned, well he wasn’t going to work today, that was for sure. 

Cas maneuvered his way over to his phone and dialed the bakery’s number. “Hello?” Naomi answered. 

“Hello,” Cas rasped. 

“Castiel?” Naomi asked. 

Cas coughed a few times before he managed to reply. “Yes, I appear to be sick, and I can’t come into work today.”

“You sound awful,” Naomi said. “Take as much time off as you need. Feel better.” 

“Thank you, I’ll try,” Cas coughed. 

He staggered back to his bedroom and collapsed on his bed as another round of coughs raked through his body. His vision was swimming at the corners of his eyes and Cas knew it was the fever. Every breath hurt as it swirled through his lungs and he knew had to try and sleep off the fever, so he let his eyes close. One thought accompanied him to the realms of sleep, I hope I didn’t give this to Dean

Chapter Text

Dean woke with a gasp, his latest war memory fading from his eyes. As he lay there, letting his lungs fill with air, he could hear the soft pitter patter of rain on the roof and he knew it was going to be a cold and dreary day. Dean dragged himself out of bed and poured himself a small glass of whiskey as he waited for his clock to strike eight so he could leave for work. 

****

Dean ducked through the pouring rain as he ran across the street to The Yellow Sparrow Bakery. The warmth of the small building allowed for Dean to pause and shake off some of the water from his jacket before heading over to the cases filled with pastries. 

“Dean!” An excited voice shouted, causing Dean to look up from perusing the pastries.

His eyes landed on the tall gangly figure of Garth Fitzgerald and Dean broke into a grin. “Garth, hey man, how’ve you been?” 

“I’m great amigo, just great,” Garth replied. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you in here, I’m glad to know you’re still up and kickin’.”

Dean chuckled. “You just haven’t been working mornings for the past few days, I’ve been in here almost every day.” 

Garth crooked an eyebrow at Dean. “Oh?” 

Dean rolled his eyes. “You were right, okay? Castiel makes the best pies I’ve ever had and I just couldn’t stay away.” Garth laughed and Dean rubbed his hands together. “Speaking of, where is Castiel?” 

“Oh, he’s not in today, he’s sick,” Garth replied.

Dean felt like someone had just knocked the breath from him. Cas was sick? He’d been fine last night… dammit Cas, biking to work in the cold finally got you… I fucking warned him. “What? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” was what Dean said instead of bolting out of the bakery and rushing to his car. 

“Yeah, but I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” Garth said. “Anael’s taking over the baking for now though, she’s a great baker too in her own right.” 

“I’m sure she is.” 

“So, what can I help you with?” 

“I think I’ll take two of those chocolate chip muffins to go, please,” Dean replied. 

“Alrighty then.” Garth boxed up his muffins and Dean paid him before heading out the door, Garth calling after him as he went, “Have a good day amigo!”

“You too, Garth,” Dean replied with a wave over his shoulder. 

Dean sprinted back over to his bar, covering the box containing the muffins with his jacket. He couldn’t work today, there was no way he could work today, not when Cas was holed up at home sick. Come on Dean, you can’t just not work, you’ve closed early too many times already for Cas, you can’t keep doing this, you have customers. Dean had to make it through the day and then, tomorrow morning, he would go and check on Cas. 

 

When noon rolled around Dean was alerted to the sound of the door opening and in walked Jody and Alex. Right, Alex is starting work today . Dean moved out from behind the counter and Jody pulled him into a hug. 

“Hi Dean,” she said. 

“Afternoon Jody,” Dean nodded at Alex, “Alex.” 

“Alright, she’s here, where do you want her?” Jody asked. 

Dean smiled. “Follow me to the kitchen and we’ll get you started.” 

“I’ll pick you up around six, and behave, okay?” Jody said as she pointed a finger at Alex. 

Alex rolled her eyes. “Jody, I’m not five.” 

“I’ll take care of her, don’t worry,” Dean said. 

“You better, if she’s not in one piece when I get back, I’m taking it out on you,” Jody replied. 

Dean laughed with a shake of his head. “She’ll be just fine, we’re the best of the best over here at The Winchester Tavern.” 

“I don’t doubt it,” Jody replied as she headed towards the door. 

“Bye Jody,” Alex said. 

Jody waved as she left and then Dean guided Alex to the kitchen where Benny and Ellen were busy preparing meals. “So, this is the kitchen,” Dean said. 

“Yeah, I got that, thanks,” Alex laughed. 

“Benny, Ellen,” Dean said, causing both of them to look up. “This is Alex.” 

“Hi there,” Ellen said, coming over to shake Alex’s hand. Alex took Ellen’s hand and then Benny’s. 

“Nice to meet you,” Alex replied. 

“You won’t be spending too much time in the kitchen, I’m going to put you with Jo to wait tables,” Dean said. He picked up a menu that was by the door and handed it to Alex. “Benny can fill you in about our meals and our specials and then, when you’re ready, find Jo and tail her for the day, she’ll help you with the rest.” 

“Sounds good,” Alex said. 

“Great, I’ll leave you in Benny’s capable hands.” 

Dean found his way back to the bar and busied himself with pouring drinks, cleaning glasses, and wiping down the counter; but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t keep Cas from his mind or keep the worry from building up in his chest.

 It was nearing one and Dean was about ready to snap. I can’t do this, I have to go . Making up his mind, Dean went into the kitchen, brushing past Gadreel who was busy at the grill, until he was standing in front of Benny. “Can I talk to you outside for a minute?” Dean asked. 

Benny set down the ladle he was using to stir his soup and faced Dean. “Of course chief.” 

Together, the two of them went out the backdoor of the kitchen and stood under the small ledge that spilled over the roof as rain poured down around them. “I have to go home,” Dean said, cutting straight to the chase. 

“Is everything okay?” Benny asked, concern lighting his eyes. 

“I don’t know,” Dean replied. It was true, he didn’t know the state Cas was in, for all he knew it could just be a cold, but on the other hand, maybe Cas was face down in his bathroom surrounded in vomit, unable to move. It was the not knowing that was killing Dean. 

“So, do you want to close early then?” Benny asked. 

Dean shook his head. “No, no, I can’t keep doing that.” 

“What then?” 

Dean reached into his pocket and pulled out his key ring, he fiddled with it for a moment until he freed one key, the key to his tavern. Dean didn’t want to do this, he’d never done this in the whole six years he’d owned his bar, but Cas was more important than some stupid bar, and so, he held out the key to Benny. “I want you to stay late and close and then I want you to open in the morning.” 

Benny stared at the key, his eyes wide. “Dean, you’ve never-”

“I know,” Dean cut in, “but I am now.” 

Benny took the key cautiously, his eyes never leaving it. “You’re sure?” 

“This is an emergency Benny, yes I’m sure.” 

“Okay chief, it’s your call,” Benny replied. 

“Thank you,” Dean said, grateful. “Now, I want you to put Ellen out behind the bar,” 

Benny nodded. “Sure thing.”

“You’re in charge now, so keep everyone in line.”

Benny tipped his pointer finger off of his temple in a small salute. “You got it boss.” 

“Great, okay.” Dean turned to head off into the rain but Benny stopped him. 

“You’ll tell me what this is about someday, won’t you?” Benny asked. 

Dean nodded. “Someday.” Without giving Benny a chance to ask him more questions, Dean dashed off into the rain and entered his Cadillac. 

He sped the whole way to the apartment complex, his heart drumming anxiously in his chest. He parked his car outside his apartment and then sprinted over to Cas’ complex. Something that resembled fear was gripping him tightly as he pounded on Cas’ door; there was no answer and Dean’s fear moved up a peg. 

“Cas?” Dean called. “It’s Dean, open up.” 

Nothing. 

“Dammit Cas, come on,” Dean muttered as his fist connected with the door again. 

Still nothing. 

Dean brought his hand up to the doorknob and turned it, but it didn’t budge. “Screw it,” Dean growled. 

He took a step back from the door and then sent his foot flying towards the wooden plank; with a crack the door swung open and Dean burst into Cas’ apartment, he’d buy Cas a new door later. 

“Cas!?” Dean shouted, his eyes scanning over every inch of Cas’ apartment; he wasn’t in sight. 

Dean moved towards what he assumed was Cas’ bedroom door and pushed it open. “Cas!?” he called again. 

Dean’s eyes landed on a figure that was tightly wound in white sheets, sweat glistened from his forehead and his lips moved quickly as he whimpered in his sleep. 

“Dammit Cas,” Dean hissed as he rushed forwards. His hands found Cas’ shoulders and shook, hard. “Wake up, Cas, wake up!” 

Cas groaned and then blinked open his eyes. Dean felt relief wash over him as he stared into blue. “Dean?” Cas asked in confusion. 

“Yeah Cas, it’s me.” 

“Wha’re you doin’ ‘ere?” Cas slurred. 

“I was worried about you,” Dean replied. 

“‘M fine,” Cas mumbled. 

“You’re not fine, Cas, God, look at you.” Dean put a hand to Cas’ forehead only to pull it away quickly. “Jesus Cas, you’re burning up.” 

“‘ave a fe’er,” Cas grunted. 

“Yeah, no shit,” Dean replied. 

Cas slumped back against his sheets again, his eyes slipping shut, and Dean quickly searched for a thermometer, anxious to know just how bad the fever was. “‘S in the bath’oom,” Cas mumbled.

Dean almost tripped in his haste to get to the bathroom that sat across from Cas’ bed. He found the thermometer by the sink and then returned to the shaking form of Castiel. “Cas, you’ve got to sit up,” Dean said. 

“Mph,” Cas grunted.

“Come on buddy.” Dean put a hand on Cas’ arm and guided him upwards. Cas let Dean pull him into a sitting position and then Dean waved the thermometer in front of Cas’ face. “Alright, open up.” 

Cas obliged and Dean stuck the thermometer in his mouth. Dean watched the minute tick slowly by on his watch and then he pulled the stick from Cas’ mouth. “How bad ‘s it?” Cas asked.

All the worry that Dean had been feeling increased as he looked at the number beside the red line on the thermometer. “102.5.” 

“Was only 101.4 this mornin’,” Cas slurred.

“Well 102.5 is too high for my liking, so we’re going to get you into a nice cool bath, okay?” 

Cas only grunted in response so Dean pulled the covers away from him and helped him to his feet. Cas swayed where he stood, but Dean wrapped one arm protectively around his waist and began to guide him slowly towards the bathroom. He sat Cas down in a chair beside the bathtub and then turned on the water, running his fingers under it to find the right temperature. 

When the water was neither too hot nor too cold Dean turned back to Cas, who was slumped over in the chair, eyes drooping. “Cas,” Dean shook him gently, “we have to get you in the bath, can you do it yourself or do you need help?” Dean’s heart surged slightly at the thought of helping Cas into the waiting bathtub, but he didn’t dwell on his thoughts for long, this wasn’t the time to think about that

Cas fumbled at his pajama shirt, but his hands were shaking too much as he shivered and Dean reached out to steady them with his own. “Hey, hey, it’s okay, I can help you.” 

Cas blinked up at Dean, eyes a glaze from the fever, and nodded slowly. So, Dean began to unbutton Cas’ shirt. This was not how he had imagined this happening for the first time, not that he imagined unbuttoning Cas’ shirt

He carefully slid the shirt from Cas’ shoulders and tried his best not to let his eyes roam over the exposed skin. Next were Cas’ pants, which Cas was already trying to wriggle out of, and Dean helped him the rest of the way. Cas then reached for the waistband of his boxers but Dean stopped him. 

“You don’t have to-” 

“‘S fine,” Cas muttered, already slipping the boxers down his thighs. 

Dean took a deep breath, his eyes found Cas’ and he held onto his gaze, wanting to look anywhere but there as he helped Cas fully remove his boxers. Now, Dean helped Cas stand, his hand brushing against Cas’ bare back, as he led him towards the full bathtub, and helped lower him down into the water. Cas hissed slightly as the cool water touched his skin but he soon relaxed. 

Dean searched for a washcloth and found one under the sink and, using water from the faucet, he ran cold water over the clean cloth and then returned to Cas. Dean perched himself on the edge of the bathtub and then pressed the cold compress to Cas’ forehead. The other man shuddered into the cloth as Dean gently dabbed at his face, wiping away the sweat that was glistening there. 

Dean squeezed some shampoo into the palm of his hand and then began to soap up Cas’ hair, letting his fingers run through the black strands. Cas hummed into Dean’s hands and he took his time, making sure every single hair was fluffed with soap suds. 

“I’m going to turn on the water again so we can get you washed off,” Dean said softly as he reached for the knob that would allow for water to flow through the faucet. Cas only grunted his understanding and once the cool water was running again, Dean cupped his hands under the stream and began to carefully wash out Cas’ hair.

 Cas was looking a little bit more alive when Dean finished washing his hair and so he stood up and said, “You look like you could use some soup, will you be okay here for a little while while I make you something?” 

Cas managed a bleak nod. “Thank you, Dean.” 

“Don’t mention it,” Dean replied. 

Leaving Cas to soak in the tub, Dean headed into Cas’ kitchen and began to rummage through his cabinets for some chicken soup. He came across a can in the back corner of one of the cabinets and then located a pot which he set down on top of the stove. Dean poured the soup into the pot and then stayed by its side while it slowly simmered and warmed. He stirred the chunky liquid occasionally so it wouldn’t burn, and then once he deemed it hot enough he turned off the burner and set it to cool before making his way back to the bathroom. 

Cas was still slumped in the tub, his head resting against the back wall as he dozed in and out of feverish consciousness. “Cas,” Dean said gently as he kneeled down by the tub, “let’s get you dried off and dressed, okay?” 

Cas cracked open his eyes and offered Dean a small smile. “Okay.” 

“I need you to tell me where some fresh clothes are,” Dean said. 

“Top drawer,” Cas mumbled. 

Dean pulled the plunger from the bottom of the tub so that it would drain while he was away and then said,  “Okay, I’ll be back in a moment.” 

Dean pulled open the top drawer of Cas’ dresser, gathered a pair of boxers, a long sleeve shirt, and some pajama pants, and then returned to the blue-eyed man in the bathtub. He placed the clothes on the chair and pulled a clean towel from a rung on the door. 

“Alright, up you get,” Dean said, hooking his hands under Cas’ armpits he helped the man stand and step out of the tub, upon which Dean quickly wrapped him up in the towel. 

He directed Cas towards the chair, picked up the clothes that were occupying it, and helped him sit down. Dean guided Cas through putting on his shirt and then assisted him in standing so he could step into his boxers. Finally, Cas was dressed and Dean walked slowly with him back to his bed, gently laying him down. 

“I’m going to get your soup, okay?” 

Cas nodded weakly and Dean quickly went to the kitchen, poured the contents of the pot into a bowl, and returned to Cas with the steaming soup. Cas took the bowl from him with shaking hands and Dean sat down on the edge of the bed, placing his hands over Cas’ on the bowl to steady them. 

“Nice and easy, okay, It’s hot,” Dean cautioned. Carefully, Cas raised the spoon to his mouth and swallowed the mouthful. Dean sat with him until he was done and then returned to the kitchen to do the dishes and fetch Cas a glass of water. 

When Dean returned, Cas looked up, his eyes half-slits as his gaze took him in. “Dean,” Cas coughed. 

“Yeah Cas?” 

“Thank you.” 

Dean smiled, a soft laugh escaping his lips. “You really have to stop apologizing.” 

“Only if you stop doing things that make me need to thank you,” Cas replied hoarsely. 

Dean chuckled and shook his head. “Why don’t you just get some rest, okay?” 

“Okay,” Cas breathed. 

Dean knew he should probably go back to his own apartment, he was damp from having helped Cas take a bath and he should change and get himself something to eat, he also had to call Bobby and inform him of Cas’ illness. Reluctantly, he began to stand, but he didn’t get far before Cas’ raspy voice stopped him in his tracks, a hand clasping around his wrist. “Dean.”

“Yeah?” 

“Stay.” 

Dean felt a smile quirk at the edges of his lips as he stared into those glassy blue eyes. He sank back onto the bed turning his hand up to catch Cas’ as it fell from his wrist. 

“Please stay,” Cas coughed. 

If you stay you’re only going to get more attached, Dean warned himself. I’m already attached, he countered his argument, I fucking left my bar to come see a man I’ve known for a week. 

Against his better judgement, Dean gave in. “Of course, of course I’ll stay, Cas.” Anything for you. Fuck, he really was a teenage girl with a crush.

Cas’ eyes drifted shut and he muttered, “Good,” as sleep finally claimed him. 

Dean still had to call Bobby, so he carefully extracted his hand from Cas’ and made to get up, but he paused, his eyes roaming over the sleeping figure of Castiel. Without thinking, Dean ran his hand through Cas’ thick black hair, bent forward, and kissed him on the forehead; hot skin touched his lips, making him extra-aware that Cas’ fever was still high. The feeling of Cas under his lips stayed with Dean as he went into the other room and picked up Cas’ phone. 

“Hello?” Came Bobby’s voice from the other side of the receiver. 

“Hey Bobby,” Dean replied. 

“What’s wrong?” Bobby asked, instantly suspicious. 

Dean laughed. “How’d you know?” 

Bobby scoffed and it crackled in Dean’s ear. “Boy I know you like I know my own name, so I'll ask again, what’s wrong?” 

Dean sighed. “It’s Cas - uh, the guy that I was going to bring to look at cars - yeah, he’s real sick Bobby, so we can’t make it this weekend.” 

Bobby was silent for a moment and Dean knew that he was putting together the pieces on the other end. “Well that’s a shame,” he said. 

“Yeah, so maybe next weekend, if he’s better,” Dean replied. 

“So, this Cas guy, are you and him-”

“No, Bobby, no,” Dean cut in. 

“But you want to be,” Bobby said. 

“I don’t know,” Dean replied. 

“Really? ‘Cause it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it.” 

He ran a hand down his face and sighed. “Look, I don’t know what’s happening between us, but my former Captain is certainly not the person I want to talk to about it. No offense.” 

“None taken,” Bobby replied. “Just be careful.” 

“I know, Bobby, I am.”

“I don’t want to see you get hurt from this, boy, you hear me?”

Dean sighed. “Yeah, yeah I hear you.”

“It’s one thing to be able to cover it up in the war, but in this world, if anyone finds out-”

“I know Bobby, believe me, I know.” Dean took a deep breath and then let it out in a huff. “I never did thank you for helping me out back then.” 

Memories flashed behind Dean’s eyes, the way he’d slipped up by staring at one of the handsomer new recruits, the feeling of the boy’s mouth on his as he pushed him up against an alley wall, the terror that surged through him when Bobby came around the corner asking for his help in loading a truck, and the pity that his Captain had taken on him when Dean had tried to explain. The only punishment Bobby had laid on him was to transfer the other boy to a different platoon ‘so you won’t get distracted again’, Bobby had said. There weren’t enough words to thank Bobby for allowing him to stay in his platoon, to keep him from being sent home, or worse. 

“Don’t mention it,” Bobby replied. 

“Yeah, well, I’ll see you next weekend then, if it works out,” Dean said. 

“Alright boy, see you then.” 

Bobby hung up with a click and then Dean returned to Cas’ room. The other man was sleeping fitfully, his breathing uneven as he whimpered and thrashed around on the bed, shivers gripping his body in waves. Dean didn’t think about what he did next - if he had he probably wouldn’t have done it - he slipped off his shoes and then moved over to the empty side of Cas’ bed and slid under the covers, taking a restless Castiel into his arms. 

“Shh, shh, it’s okay,” Dean said softly into Cas’ hair. “I’ve got you, it’s okay.” 

Cas stilled in Dean’s arms, his whimpers becoming soft cries. All Dean could do was hold him, whispering quietly to him as he fell into a deeper sleep.

Chapter Text

Cas woke to the feeling of something warm and sturdy pressed against his back. He blinked open his eyes, trying to see through the fever that was still holding him down. He was covered in sweat and chills swept through him like a wildfire, but that steady pressure behind him was comforting and he ached to know what it was. 

The moment Cas tried to shift in the bed he felt hands tighten around his midsection and he hitched in a breath. Someone was in bed with him. He tried not to panic, tried not to fear the worst, that he’d done something stupid in his feverish haze or that someone had broken in and done something to him . But the hands around him weren’t restricting, they were loose and tender, and so Cas rolled over, ignoring the sway of his vision as he did so. 

The person opposite him groaned and Cas forced his eyes to focus on him. Him . There, in his bed , was Dean. Even in the dim light of his room Cas could make out the broad shoulders, the curved jawline that was dotted with stubble, the freckles that were splayed across his cheeks like stars across the sky, the pink flushed lips, and the short brown hair; Dean fucking Winchester was in his apartment and was asleep beside him. 

Heart beating rapidly, Cas wracked his feverish brain for the details that had led to this moment. Everything was a blur, but he vaguely remembered Dean rushing into this room, making him soup, taking his temperature, helping him take a bath… Cas groaned; shit, Dean had helped him take a bath, that meant… shit. Cas wanted to disappear, he wanted to sink into his mattress and never come out. He took a few deep breaths, letting his embarrassment out with the air. Maybe this wasn’t all bad, Dean was in his bed , and Cas was in no way complaining, the strong arms around him, the heat from Dean’s body, the way his mouth was parted slightly as he slept; he looked so peaceful and Cas found himself shrugging off every ounce of common sense as he curled up against Dean, letting his warmth still the shivers that wanted to ripple through his body. 

Cas was just shutting his eyes again when Dean shifted beside him. Cas felt it the second Dean woke up, his whole body stiffened for a second and then he relaxed. Cas felt hands slip slowly away from him and then the bed was suddenly cold and Dean’s retreating footsteps could be heard as he carefully made his way out of the room. He wanted to call after him, wanted to tell him to come back, but instead he curled in on himself, another shiver taking root along his body as he pulled the blankets around himself, trying to hold in the heat that Dean’s body had given off. 

It had only been a few minutes, maybe longer, maybe shorter, Cas didn’t know, when Dean returned. The bed sagged as he sat back down and Cas chose then to blink open his eyes. 

“Cas, you’re awake,” Dean said in surprise, their eyes locking. 

“Yes,” Cas coughed, trying to clear the rasp in his voice. It didn’t seem to do anything when he spoke again. “What time is it?” 

Dean flicked his watch-clad wrist towards himself. “Just after four,” he replied. “You’ve only been asleep for two or so hours. I’ve put the kettle on in the kitchen to make you some tea, so that should be ready in a few minutes or so.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said. 

Dean smiled at him, eyes crinkling at the edges. “You’re welcome.” 

Cas felt guilt roll over in his stomach, Dean was here, with him, instead of working at his bar, he was giving up hours of his life to be at Cas’ apartment, to make him soup, and mother him. 

“Dean,” Cas rasped hoarsely. 

“Mm?” Dean hummed in response. 

“You don’t have to stay here, I’m sure you have much more pressing things to do than make me tea,” Cas said with difficulty. His throat felt as if someone had forced him to swallow sandpaper and every breath he took made him want to cough. 

Dean shook his head with a small smile. “Nah man, I’d rather be here with you.”

Cas couldn’t quite believe it, that Dean Winchester wanted to spend time with him, even though he was sick. “Really?” he asked, he had to make sure. 

“Yeah man, really.” 

“Why?” He had to know, he had to make sure that Dean wasn’t just saying things, that he really wanted to be here, that what he hoped might happen between them could actually be possible. 

Dean chuckled. “Because I like spending time with you, sick or not.” 

Cas narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Dean but was unable to ask any more questions as the kettle started to steam in the kitchen, sending the green-eyed man to his feet. Cas sighed and rolled over onto his back, eyes flicking up to the ceiling as he listened to Dean rummage around his kitchen; he couldn’t help thinking that he could get used to this. 

When Dean returned, two mugs of steaming liquid in his hands, Cas forced himself to sit up. He took a mug from Dean, their fingers brushed slightly during the exchange, and a shiver - that had nothing to do with his fever -  jerked his shoulders. He raised the hot mug to his lips and blew away some of the steam that was billowing up from the tea, Cas was conscious of Dean’s eyes on him and he tried to ignore it, but he couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face. 

“What?” he asked, a cloudy laugh pushing past his lips. 

Dean shrugged, instantly turning his attention to his own mug of tea. “Nothing.” 

Cas shifted beside Dean, hugging his tea to his chest. “Don’t say ‘nothing’ when there’s clearly something.” 

Dean’s eyes flicked to Cas’ for a brief moment before he became fascinated with his mug again. “Really, it’s nothing.”

“Hmph,” Cas grunted as he blew at his tea again. 

Dean sat back against the headboard of Cas’ bed with a sigh. “But I do have something else to tell you,” he said. 

“And that is?” Cas asked. 

“I kind of, sort of, might have, kicked in your door when you didn’t answer, so you need a new door,” Dean replied. Cas could see the guilt and embarrassment creeping up Dean’s neck, towards his cheeks. 

Cas couldn’t stop the laugh that came out of his mouth, although it shortly turned into a cough. “You, kicked down my door?” he wheezed. 

“Yeah.”

“Seriously?” Cas couldn’t keep his chest from shaking as he tried to keep the coughs at bay.

“I was worried about you, okay?” Dean defended himself. “I fully intend to buy you a new door.”

Cas chuckled. “I’ve never had anyone kick in a door for me before,” he said quietly. 

“Well there’s a first time for everything,” Dean replied, his green eyes locked on Cas’ blue ones. 

Cas felt himself melting into Dean’s eyes and he forced himself to look away, back down at his mug. He took a tentative sip of the tea and the said, “Dean, can I ask you something?” 

Cas looked up for a split second to see a smile wash across Dean’s face. “Yeah of course.”

“Why do you care about me so much?” 

Cas watched Dean blow softly at his tea, as he considered Cas’ question. “You’re a very hard person not to care about, Cas,” Dean said after a minute. “The second I looked at you… I just… I felt like we were connected. When I heard you were sick, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I can’t really explain it, I just care .” 

Something stirred in Cas’ chest and he reached out a hand to cover one of Dean’s. Dean looked down at their hands and then back up at Cas. “Thank you.” 

Dean sniffed and then pulled away from Cas. “Yeah, well I have that door situation to fix, so I think I’ll go do that.” 

“You don’t have to leave, Dean,” Cas said. 

Dean smirked at Cas. “As I recall, there is a couch in your living room, you don’t have to stay in here .” 

“This is true,” Cas laughed. 

Cas began to move from the bed, but he was soon overcome by a coughing fit. Concern instantly flashed across Dean’s face and he quickly dropped down in front of Cas. “Cas, you okay?” 

Cas continued to cough, his lungs were asking for air but he simply couldn’t give it to them. Dean’s arms wrapped around Cas and he felt himself leaning into the touch. 

“I got you, breathe,” Dean said soothingly. 

Cas gasped as finally got a breath of air into his screaming lungs and then he just sat there, enveloped in Dean’s touch and warmth as he recovered from his coughing fit. 

“You good?” Dean asked after a moment. 

Cas nodded. “I think so.”

“You don’t have to move,” Dean said. 

“I should,” Cas replied. “Moving would be good for me.” 

“If you think you can,” Dean said. 

“I can,” Cas grunted. 

“Alright, well let me help you.” 

Dean stood up and lifted Cas gently to his feet. Cas let his legs take his weight but they began to buckle under him almost instantly, leaving Dean to catch him. “You’re okay,” Dean said as he wrapped a hand around Cas’ waist. 

He let Dean guide him out of the room and towards the couch, where he was then carefully placed upon the sagging cushions. Dean draped a blanket over him and and then moved over to the door to assess the damage. 

“How’s she looking?” Cas asked from the couch, another sip of his tea sliding down his throat. 

Dean turned towards Cas and clasped his hands together, taking on a solemn expression. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to operate.”

Cas’ eyebrows crinkled in mock worry. “That bad huh?” 

Dean shook his head. “No sir, it’s not as bad as you think. I do believe that she has a full chance of a healthy recovery.” 

“You do?” 

“Yes, but we’re going to need a transplant and I need you to tell me where some basic tools are so I can begin the procedure.” 

Cas’ lips split into a smile and he coughed out another laugh. “Under the sink.” 

Dean nodded. “Thank you.” 

Cas heard Dean moving around under the sink until he located the toolbox Cas kept there. When he returned into Cas’ line of sight, he had rolled up his sleeves and developed a very calculating expression. Dean set down the toolbox, flicked it open, and began to search for something inside it; he came back up a moment later with a screwdriver in hand and then took a few steps towards the door. He turned back to look at Cas, a grim look on his face. 

“Sir, you may not want to watch this, surgeries like these can get very gruesome,” Dean warned. 

“I think I can handle it Doctor,” Cas replied. 

Dean nodded sharply. “Alright then, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” 

Cas watched as Dean stepped up to the door’s hinges and began to unscrew the screws that were attaching the door to the wall. Cas drew in a breath as Dean pulled off the first hinge and the door sagged in the doorway, he then did the same to the middle one, causing the door to creak. Dean glanced back towards Cas, screwdriver gripped tightly in his hand. 

“How you doing over there?” he asked.

“I’m managing,” Cas replied. 

“This next part is where it’s going to be a bit rough. We’re going to have to dislodge the patient from the frame. Are you prepared for that?” 

Cas nodded bleakly. “I think so.” 

“Alright then, commencing the final part of the surgery.” 

Cas’ eyes followed Dean as he bent down and began to unscrew the final hinge, he brought his hands up to wrap around the door frame and then turned to look dramatically at Cas. “Prepare yourself for extraction.” 

Cas gripped the side of the couch and nodded stiffly at Dean. “I’m ready.” 

“Extracting in 3, 2, 1,” Dean yanked the door sideways, causing it to fall away from the hinges. Cas turned his head away and let out a small noise. Dean was quickly by his side. “Was it too much? I warned you this was going to be painful.” 

Cas met Dean’s eyes and pretended to wipe away tears. “No, no I’m fine. I just needed a moment.” 

“Of course, understandable,” Dean replied. 

“How long will it be until you have the transplant?” Cas asked, feigning a wobble in his voice.

“I was just about to tell you that I’m going to have to run out to the store down the street for the transplant, I should only be gone for a little while, I’ll have a new key made up for you as well.” 

Cas nodded. “Alright, but you better hurry, I don’t know how much longer she’s going to last.” 

“I’ll be back before you even know I was gone,” Dean promised. 

 

True to his word, Dean was back within twenty minutes, carrying a new door. “I’m going to begin the transplant now, bear with me.” 

Cas watched Dean take out the old door jam and plug in a new one, he then positioned the door in the frame and began to screw in the hinges. Finally, it was done, and Dean stood up, wiping his hands on his pants. He shut the door and it closed with a satisfactory click.  “The surgery is finished,” he declared. “The transplant went as planned, there were no complications. Door-y Novak will make a full recovery, as predicted.” 

Cas bit back a laugh. “Thank you, Doctor Winchester.”

Dean shoved a hand into his pocket and produced two shiny new keys. “The surgery will have been for nothing if you can’t get into your apartment,” he said as he handed Cas the keys. 

Cas pushed one of them back towards Dean. “You keep that one, that way you don’t have to kick down my door again if it’s locked.” 

Dean stared at the key in his open palm. “Are you sure?” 

“I think you deserve it, after everything you’ve done for me,” Cas replied. 

Dean pocketed the key with a smile. “Thanks, Cas.” 

Cas grinned up at Dean. “You’re welcome.” 

Dean cleared his throat, diffusing the sappy situation. “Is there, uh, anything you need right now?” 

Cas shrugged. “I don’t know. You could go check my mailbox if you want, but other than that, not really.” 

“I’ll go check your mail, be back in a flash.” 

Dean disappeared through the newly replaced door and Cas sighed to himself as another shiver spread through him. When Dean returned he was carrying three envelopes. “Two of them are bills,” Dean announced, plopping the two said envelopes onto the table beside Cas. 

“And the other one?” Cas asked. 

Dean held it out for Cas to take. “It’s from someone named Balthazar.” 

Balthazar . Cas quickly reached out and took the envelope from Dean, tearing into the paper with eagerness. Cas could feel Dean watching him, curious and maybe just a little bit wary. He unfolded the letter inside the envelope and let his eyes take in the words on the page.




October 30th, 1959

Cassie,

  I hope these past years have been treating you kindly, I know we haven’t written to each other as much as we promised we would. I think it’s been about two years since I last wrote to you, and I’m sorry about that, but I’m writing now. 

I wanted to let you know that I will be stateside on December 7th and I was wondering if you wanted to catch up. I’ll be visiting family in Chicago, but I can easily make my way to Kansas. 

Please write me back soon, I miss you, Cassie. 

~ Bal

 

Cas set the letter down with a chuckle. “Oh Balthazar.” 

“So, you gonna fill me in, or do I have to guess?”

Cas pushed himself further into a sitting position. “Balthazar’s a war buddy.” 

“Ah,” Dean nodded in understanding. 

“Balthazar and I… we…” Cas trailed off, not quite sure how to continue.

“Were you two… together…?” Dean asked.

There was something in Dean’s voice, something that sounded almost like… jealousy?

“Kind of, but not really,” Cas replied. “It’s hard to explain.” 

“I have all day,” Dean said as he sat down next to Cas on the couch. 

“If you really want to know, I'll tell you, but I don’t want you to feel like you have to stay and listen to my war stories just because I’m sick.”

“Cas,” Dean reached out and Cas felt his hand slide over his. “I’m staying because I want to.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” Dean’s hand retreated from Cas’ and he found himself wanting to follow it, but he stopped himself in favor of continuing his story. “Balthazar’s a few years older than me, and he took me under his wing when my platoon met up with his. I was just a scared kid, nineteen years old, but Batlhazar was there to help me adjust to soldier life.” Cas paused to cough and Dean’s hand moved to his back, rubbing small circles there to ease his way through the fit. Cas took a breath and kept going, “Balthazar and I, we used each other to… you know, blow off some steam, we knew about each other’s sexuality, but we were never together in a relationship. We’re good friends.” 

“I see,” Dean said. “So there’s nothing for me to worry about then.” 

Cas squinted at Dean in confusion. “What do you mean?” His stomach twisted into a knot, Dean couldn’t possibly… 

“I think you know what I mean,” Dean said in a whisper. His hand moved from Cas’ back to his face where he brushed aside Cas’ bangs from where they were obscuring his eyes. 

“I… I don’t…” Cas stammered, his heart thrumming against his ribcage. Another shiver went through Cas’ shoulders, and again, he knew it wasn’t caused by the fever. Their eyes were locked, Dean’s green irises filled up Cas’ gaze and it took all his effort not to...

It happened so fast, one minute Dean was away from him, the next, he was leaning towards him, eyes flicking from Cas’ eyes to his lips, his tongue slipped out to wet his lips and then Cas felt pressure against his mouth. Surprise made him flinch, but he quickly relaxed, letting Dean deepen the kiss. Dean’s hands were in Cas’ hair and Cas was holding onto Dean’s shoulders for dear life. 

Cas was the first to pull away as a cough bubbled from his mouth. “I’m sorry,” Dean said, instantly worried. 

Cas waved him off, as his coughing fit subsided. “Don’t apologize for that.”

Dean had just kissed him, Dean Winchester, had just kissed him.

Dean’s fingers knitted together as he focused on them. “Then that wasn’t completely out of line? I’ve been reading the right signals?” 

Cas smiled, a laugh flying from his chest. “Yes. Definitely reading the right signals.”

A loopy grin touched Dean’s eyes. “Good.” 

Dean felt the same way about him, he wasn’t crazy. 

“I just hope you realize that you kissed a sick man, so if you get sick from me, that’s on you.” 

Dean shrugged, green eyes bright. “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Dean leaned forward and kissed Cas again, quickly this time, before he stood up. Cas already ached for him to come back. 

“Where are you going?” he asked. 

“Well, I’m famished, so I thought I’d cook us up some food, what have got in your fridge?”

“Nothing good,” Cas replied. 

“Well I’m sure I can find something,” Dean said. 

“While you’re up, can you get me a pen and paper so I can reply to Balthazar?” Cas asked. 

“Yeah sure thing.” Dean located a pad of paper and a pen on Cas’ kitchen table and then brought them over to Cas. “Do you require anything else, your highness?” 

Cas grinned up at Dean. “No. Thank you my handsome prince.” 

Dean kissed Cas’ forehead. “You’re welcome, angel.” 

Cas crooked an eyebrow at him. “Angel?” 

Dean blushed and let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, well, Meg was right, you are kind of angelic, it’s probably your eyes.” 

Angel, Cas liked the sound of that, and he didn’t really know why, but he could get used to it. 

“Well if I’m an angel, then what are you?” Cas asked. 

“A demon, obviously,” Dean replied with a smirk, as if it should have been obvious. 

“Oh, right,” Cas laughed. “An angel and a demon.” 

“A match made in heaven, or is it hell?” Dean said with a chuckle. 

“I don’t think it matters,” Cas replied. 

“Well, I have some food to make, and you have a letter to write,” Dean said as he backed away towards the kitchen. 

Cas’ eyes lingered on Dean for a moment as he bent down to look in the fridge, but when Dean stood up, he turned his attention to the blank paper in front of him. 

“Oh, by the way, I moved our meet with my former Captain to next weekend,” Dean said as he pulled a cutting board from one of the cabinets. 

“Oh shit, I forgot about that,” Cas said.

“Don’t worry about it, it’s all taken care of, Bobby sends his well wishes.” 

Cas’ heart felt like it was about to overflow with gratitude for the man in his kitchen. “Thank you.” Dean grunted in response and Cas turned back to his paper and began to write. 

 

November 10th, 1959

Bal,

It’s good to hear from you! These past years haven’t exactly been kind, but I will fill you in on everything when I see you, because of course I want to see you, Balthazar. We’ve both been busy so don’t feel bad about not writing, don’t forget that I haven’t been writing to you either.

I miss you too, Bal, so please do come and visit. 

~Cas

P.S. I thought I told you to stop calling me Cassie.

 

Cas folded up the letter and set it aside on his coffee table next to Balthazar’s letter. “All finished?” Dean asked. 

“Yup,” Cas replied. 

“I can find you an envelope if you want,” Dean offered. 

Cas shook his head. “No, you’re busy, I’ll get one.” 

Cas pushed himself to his feet, with some difficulty, and then headed towards a small table-like piece of furniture where he kept envelopes in a drawer. He located one and a stamp and then headed back to the couch, he placed the letter inside and sealed the envelope with a couple licks before he began to write the addresses on the back. 

“So, what are you cooking over there?” Cas asked once he’d finished with his letter. 

“I’m making you vegetable soup,” Dean replied. “You had a lot of vegetables in your fridge that were nearing the end of their lives, so I decided to put them out of their misery.” 

Cas laughed. “And you’re making this from… scratch?” 

“It’s Benny’s recipe,” Dean replied. “But I’m told I do it justice.”

“So, is this a menu option at The Winchester Tavern?” Cas asked. 

“It is, so if you want it again, all you have to do is visit me across the street,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll keep that in mind.” 

 

The soup was good, to say the least, he had two bowls and Dean couldn’t stop smiling at him. 

“What?” Cas asked indignantly as he fished for a carrot in his bowl. 

“You’re just kind of cute when you’re sick,” Dean replied, his gaze traveled over Cas’ face fondly. 

Cas blushed as he smiled at his soup. “Well, you’re kind of cute, always, so…” he mumbled, not meeting Dean’s gaze.. 

“Is that so?” Dean asked, a sliver of laughter in his voice. 

Cas sniffed, another cough trying to work its way up his throat. “Yup. It’s a fact.” 

Dean chuckled and Cas felt his arm slide across his shoulders; he leaned into Dean’s arms. Yeah, this was something that Cas could definitely get used to. 

Chapter Text

Cas fell asleep in Dean’s arms, his head resting gently under Dean’s chin, black hair tickling his nose. He wanted to stay like this forever, wrapped in Castiel’s warmth, but he knew he couldn’t; he had to go home, just for an hour or so, to shower and change into some fresh clothes. So, against everything in his thoughts telling him not to, Dean carefully untangled himself from the sleeping figure underneath him, placed a kiss on top of his head, and moved quietly towards the door, careful not to wake him. 

He shut the new door with a click and as he headed down the hallway he couldn’t stop the smile that broke out on his face. He couldn’t believe it, Cas felt the same way about him, he’d kissed Cas. In one fleeting moment of weakness he’d actually kissed Castiel and Cas had reciprocated. Dean wasn’t quite sure how it had happened, but he wasn’t about to complain. Every smile, every fleeting flick of Cas’ eyes as they followed him, every touch -if only for a moment- had meant something, he wasn’t delusional. 

Dean crossed the street, a skip to his step, and took the stairs to his apartment room two at a time. He’d decided, somewhere between the hallway and the road, that he wasn’t going to take his time, he was going to shower, change, and get back to Cas as fast as he could. 

He practically started stripping as soon as the door shut behind him, already shirtless and shoe-less by the time he entered the bathroom. The hot water faucet squeaked when he turned it on and he waited a few seconds for the water to warm up before he removed the rest of his clothes and climbed into the shower. He washed his body quickly and then soaped up his hair. The very recent memory of Cas’ own soapy hair underneath his fingers surfaced in Dean’s mind, but he pushed it away, forcing himself to focus on his own showering endeavors. 

He was done showering in record time and rushed to find himself some clean clothes. Once he was dressed, he paused in front of a small duffel bag he kept rolled up under his bed. 

“Screw it,” Dean muttered. 

He pulled the bag from under the bed and tossed a pair of pajamas, a new set of clothes for tomorrow, and a toothbrush into the bag, before zipping it up, shouldering it, and practically booking it out of his apartment and back to Cas’, ignoring the biting wind as it whipped at his damp hair. 

He slowed his steps as he drew closer to Cas’ apartment door, steadying his rapidly beating heart with a few breaths. A fresh new 104 glinted at him in the light of the hallway as Dean pushed the door open. Cas was sitting on the couch, awake, when Dean entered the room. 

“Where were you?” Cas rasped. 

“I ran back to my apartment for a minute, to shower and grab some stuff,” Dean replied as he let his duffel bag fall to the ground with a thud. He scratched sheepishly at his drying hair. “I meant to leave you a note, telling you where I went. I’m sorry.” 

Cas shook his head. “It’s okay.” Dean watched Cas’ eyes travel to the ground, landing on his bag, and he felt his cheeks begin to burn. “You brought a bag,” Cas said slowly. Dean could practically see the gears turning in Cas’ head.

“I didn’t mean anything by it, Cas,” Dean said as he took a step towards the couch. “I just wanted to be prepared, in case I ended up staying here late tonight.” 

Cas canted his head to the side. “That’s very thoughtful of you, Dean.”

Dean smiled, finally sitting down on the couch with Cas. “I just… I don’t feel comfortable with you being here all alone, while you’re sick, so I wanted to…” Dean licked his lips and rubbed his hands nervously on his pant legs. “I wanted to put the option out there for you if you wanted me to… to stay.” 

Cas’ pale lips split into a grin. “Of course I want you to stay, Dean.” 

“You do?” Dean asked. 

“Yes.” Cas broke away from looking at Dean to cough, bringing his arm up to cover his mouth. Dean acted on instinct, massaging Cas’ back to help him get through the fit. “Thank you,” Cas gasped. 

“You know,” Dean said softly, “we should probably take your temperature again, see if it went down.” 

Cas nodded. “You’re right, we should.” 

“I’ll fetch the thermometer, you just sit tight.” 

Dean walked quickly to the bathroom, located the thermometer on the side of the sink, and then returned to Cas, brandishing the stick above his head. “Got it!” 

“I can see that.” 

Dean plopped down beside Cas. “Alright, open up.” 

Cas obliged and Dean placed the thermometer under Cas’ tongue. He watched the hands tick by on his wristwatch and once they hit the minute mark Dean removed the thermometer. “Well?” Cas asked. 

“101.1,” Dean replied. 

“Well, it went down, so that’s good.” 

“Yes, that is good,” Dean agreed. “Hopefully it’ll be completely gone by tomorrow.” 

“Hopefully,” Cas choked out as he coughed again.

“I think you need some more tea,” Dean said. “I’ll fix you some.” 

Squeezing Cas’ shoulder as he stood up, Dean made his way to the kitchen and began to boil some water. He heard Cas shift on the couch and when he turned around, he saw blue eyes peering up at him from behind the back of the couch. 

“What?” Dean asked as he set a mug on the table. 

“Nothing,” Cas replied. “Just, thank you.” 

“We’ve been over this, what, nine times already? It’s no trouble, stop thanking me,” Dean replied as he ripped open a tea packet that said “Throat Coat” and pulled the tea bag out from inside the folded paper. He plopped the bag of leaves in the mug and then leaned against the counter to wait for the water to boil. Cas slipped back behind the couch to lay down and Dean drummed his fingers against the counter in impatience. When the kettle finally started to hiss at him he pulled it from the stove and poured the steaming water into the mug before mixing in some honey. 

Cas sat up when Dean came around the corner of the couch with the mug held aloft. “One cup of tea your highness,” he said as he kneeled dramatically on the ground and presented the mug to Cas as if it were made of gold.

Cas cracked a grin and chuckled as he took the tea from Dean. “Thank you.” 

Dean heaved himself onto the couch next to Cas as he began to sip slowly from his mug. They sat in silence, Dean taking in every inch of Cas and Cas focusing solely on his tea. “What time is it?” Cas asked after about five minutes as he looked up from his half empty mug. 

Dean glanced at his watch. “Just after eight.” 

Cas yawned. “Wow. It’s earlier than I thought.” 

“Are you tired, do you want to go to bed?” Dean asked. 

“Yes, I think I would like to go to bed, but after I finish my tea.”

Dean nodded. “Sure.” Dean thought for a second before asking, “Do you want me to stay or do you want me to go?” 

“I told you before, I want you to stay,” Cas replied. 

“I’m just making sure that it’s really what you want.” 

“It is.” 

“Okay.” 

Cas finished off his tea and Dean took the mug to the kitchen and placed it in the sink, he’d wash it later. Cas was already in his bedroom when Dean turned around, he heard Cas turn on the water in the bathroom and so he plucked his bag from the floor and headed into Cas’ room. 

He fished his toothbrush from the depths of the duffel and then joined Cas in the bathroom. Cas looked up as he entered, toothbrush sticking from his mouth, he eyed Dean’s own toothbrush with an impressed look. “You really came prepared, didn’t you?” 

Dean shrugged. “You can never be too precautious.” Dean squirted some toothpaste on his toothbrush and then popped it into his mouth. 

Once their teeth were brushed Dean changed into his pajamas and come out of the bathroom to see Cas climbing into his bed. Dean hovered in the doorway. “Goodnight Cas,” he said. “I’ll be on the couch if you need me.” 

“Dean.” Cas’ voice halted Dean from moving into the next room. “You don’t have to sleep on the couch.”

Dean faltered slightly as he took a tentative step forward. “If you’re sure.” 

“I think after what happened today, it would be rude of me to make you sleep on the couch,” Cas said as another shiver slipped through him. 

Dean felt his heart skitter against his chest and he smiled. “I just didn’t want to assume anything.” 

“Just get over here,” Cas said through a grin. 

Dean moved over to the empty side of the bed and pulled back the covers. The second he was laying down, Cas gravitated towards him, resting his head on Dean’s chest. Cas blinked up at Dean, his blue eyes shining a bit brighter since they had been when Dean had first found him. “Goodnight, Dean.” 

Dean kissed Cas gently, even sick, Cas’ lips were smooth and warm. “Goodnight, Cas.” 

Cas snuggled up tighter against Dean and he wrapped his arms around Cas, allowing himself to drift off into sleep. 

****

Dean woke up to see pale sunlight slicing through the curtain of Cas’ bedroom. A quick glance to the clock on Cas’ bedside table told him that it was seven thirty. Seven thirty? Dean couldn’t fully believe what his eyes were seeing, he’d slept for a whole eleven hours, without a single nightmare. Cas was still sleeping against his shoulder and Dean smiled down at him. He wanted to skip work today, he really did, but he owed Benny an explanation for his abrupt departure yesterday, and with a new worker under his employment he should be there to oversee her first couple of days on the job. And so, Dean pulled himself from the warmth of Cas’ bed and began to get dressed in the clothes he brought. 

He was just zipping up his jacket when Cas stirred in the bed and blinked open his eyes with a yawn. “Where are you going?” he asked sleepily.

“Work,” Dean replied.

“Oh.” Dean saw a look of slight sadness flicker across Cas’ face. 

“I’m sorry man, but I left quickly yesterday and I can’t miss today, I’d stay if I could, cross my heart.” 

“No, I understand,” Cas said. 

“I’ll leave early again, but if you need me, call, okay?” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.”

“Take your temperature again too, and don’t forget to drink water.” 

Cas rolled his eyes. “Dean, I’m not a child.” 

Dean’s gaze softened. “I know, sorry.” 

Cas waved him off. “It’s okay. Now go on, you’ve got places to be.” 

“Bye, angel,” Dean said as he swooped forward and kissed Cas quickly on the lips. “I’ll drop by after I get off work.” 

Cas smiled, their faces inches apart. “I’ll hold you to that.” 

Dean grinned, kissed Cas one more time, and then headed out of the apartment. He crossed the street to his Cadillac and then put the car in drive and began his commute to The Winchester Tavern. He pulled into the parking lot behind his bar and got out to see Benny waiting for him outside the door, key in his hand. 

“Good, you didn’t lose it,” Dean said, unable to hide the relief in his voice. 

“Of course I didn’t lose it,” Benny replied with a shake of his head. He tossed the key to Dean and he caught it deftly.

Moving past Benny, Dean unlocked the bar and let himself inside, with Benny close behind him. Dean did a quick sweep, his eyes grazing over the counter top and the neatly swept floor. 

“Is it to your liking?” Benny asked as Dean ran a hand over his bar counter.

Dean frowned in approval. “Not bad Lafitte.” He wasn’t about to completely admit that Benny had done a pretty excellent job of cleaning and closing up his bar.

“Oh, ‘not bad’,” Benny laughed. “That’s better than I was expecting.”

With a shake of his head, and a smile tipping the corners of his lips up at the edges, Dean pulled out his apron and tied it around his waist; taking his rag from his pocket he began to wipe down the counter. 

“So, are you going to tell me what all that was yesterday?” Benny asked. 

Dean shrugged. “Maybe.”

Benny sighed. “Come on brother, you’ve never left the bar in anyone’s hands but your own, I want to know what caused the great Dean Winchester to go running off like that.” 

Dean shrugged again, unsure if he should tell Benny about Cas, he was after all his best friend and he knew of Dean’s sexual alignment. Opting for a vague version of the truth Dean said, “It was someone.” 

Benny’s eyebrows shot up. “Is everything okay? It wasn’t Sam, was it?” 

Dean shook his head. “No, Sam’s fine, this is, someone… new.” 

“Oh?” Benny asked. “Is it a girl?” 

Dean laughed. He was going to make Benny work for this. “Try again.” 

A knowing look came over Benny’s face. “Ah, it’s a boy!”

“And we have a winner!” Dean exclaimed. 

“What do I win?” Benny asked, a boyish glint to his eyes. 

“The ability to keep your employment,” Dean replied. 

Benny chuckled. “I’ll take that, chief.” Benny pushed himself down onto one of the bar stools and his eyes followed Dean as he swept over the counter with his rag. “So, what’s his name?” 

“Cas.” 

“Cas, huh? Wait, not the Cas that’s working at the bakery across the street, is it that Cas?” Benny asked. 

“The one and only,” Dean replied with a grin. He looked up from wiping the counter and asked, “Have you been visiting the bakery?” 

“After work I usually get something sweet from other there, yeah,” Benny answered. “Garth won’t shut up about Cas and his pies.” 

Dean laughed. “Damn right he won’t, that’s how I met Cas’ acquaintance in the first place.” 

“I see.” Benny re-situated himself on the stool and leaned forward on the counter. “So, what was the nature of the emergency yesterday?” 

Dean turned his back on Benny to polish a glass. “He’s sick.” 

“Bad?” Benny asked, slight worry in his tone. 

“He had a high fever last night, over 102,” Dean replied. “But I forced it down a bit with a cool bath and he’s doing a lot better.” 

“I’m sure, with you looking out for him.” 

Dean felt his cheeks burn at Benny’s slight praise. He placed the glass he’d been polishing on its shelf and then, once his blush was gone, he turned around. “So, how was Alex’s first day?” 

“She did fine, she’s a natural,” Benny replied. 

“So I should keep her on?” Dean asked. 

“Definitely, and she Jo get along great as well.”

“That’s great.” 

“I told Alex to come back around noon again today,” Benny said. 

“Good.” 

Dean and Benny were interrupted as Ellen and Jo entered the bar. “Morning gentlemen,” Ellen said. “Back from your adventures, Dean?” 

Dean chuckled. “Yeah, sorry I had to run on you guys like that.” 

“No worries,” Ellen replied, a sweet smile touching her eyes. 

“And how are you this morning, Jo?” Dean asked, turning to the blond. 

Jo blushed. “I’m great, thanks, you?” 

“Awesome,” Dean replied. Dean straightened and clapped his hands together. “Well, we’ve all got some things to do before we open, so let’s get to it everyone!” Benny and Ellen moved off to the kitchen and Jo and Dean began to replenish napkins and condiments on the tables. 

 

Alex arrived at noon just as Benny said she was going to and she joined Jo with waiting tables. Every table but two were filled and Dean was happy to hear the sound of cutlery against plates and laughter filling his bar. 

The door chimed at 12:15 and Dean looked up to see who had chosen to come inside. His mouth dropped open at the woman who was walking across the room towards him, waving aside Jo by saying, “I’ll sit at the bar, thank you.” 

She sat down directly in front of Dean, her long brown hair framing her face and her teeth gleaming white as she smiled at him. She was still as beautiful as she’d been all those years ago when he’d left to go off to fight for his country. “Lisa,” Dean breathed out. 

Lisa’s smile faltered a fraction. “Hi Dean.” 

Dean composed himself, his muscles stiffening. “What are you doing here?” 

“What, I’m not allowed to come into a bar for a drink?” Lisa asked. 

“No, I mean, what are you doing in Lawrence?” 

“Visiting my parents,” Lisa replied. “My mother’s ill and I came down to help my father take care of her.” 

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Dean said. He wasn’t sure if he was actually sorry or if his words were just a formality; he’d decide later, but it was probably the latter. 

Lisa sighed. “Look, I know we didn’t exactly leave each other on the right foot, but-”

“Damn right we didn’t,” Dean growled in an interruption. 

Lisa’s jaw clenched and she let out another sigh. “I’m sorry.” 

“Fourteen years, fourteen years and now you’re sorry,” Dean scoffed. “Yeah, I don’t think so. Now if you’re not going to order anything, then kindly get out of my bar.” 

“Dean,” Lisa said as Dean began to turn around. “Please just hear me out.” 

Dean’s shoulders sagged in defeat and he turned to face Lisa again. “Spit it out then, and make it quick, I have things to do.” 

“I didn’t want to leave you.” 

“Oh really? Then why did you?” Dean asked sharply. 

“My parents made me,” Lisa replied evenly. 

“And you’re just telling me this now. Fourteen years Lisa, fourteen fucking years and you could have told me this any time, but you’re choosing now.” He dragged a hand down his face and took a deep breath, before meeting Lisa’s pretty brown gaze again. “Why?” 

“You remember the day you left, right?” Lisa asked. 

Dean knew she was avoiding the question but he decided to play along. “Yes, I remember that day, as if it was yesterday.” 

 

Dean stepped into the train station, bag hanging from his hand, uniform done up tightly, cap straightened on his head, jaw set in determination. He felt his stomach bubble with excitement, and just a little bit of fear. 

“Dean?” Sam’s voice made Dean jerk his head to find his fourteen year old brother, standing beside him. 

“Yeah Sammy?” 

“Be careful out there, okay?” 

“I will, and I’ll come home Sam, don’t worry,” Dean replied as he ruffled Sam’s long shaggy hair. 

“Promise?” Sam asked. 

“I promise,” Dean replied. “And I’ll write whenever I get the chance, okay?” 

Sam nodded. “Okay.” 

A sharp hand on Dean’s shoulder made him aware that his father had caught up with them. “Make me proud, son,” John said. 

Dean met his father’s stiff gaze. “I will, Dad.” 

John nodded and clapped Dean hard on the back, causing Dean to stiffen. “Good. Now hurry up and catch your train.” 

Dean pulled Sam into one last hug. “Be good okay?” 

“I will,” Sam replied with a sniff. 

“Bitch,” Dean said as he tried to control the tears that wanted to drop from his eyes. 

“Jerk,” Sam replied. Unlike Dean he as unable to stop the tears that slipped down his chin. 

Dean brought his thumb up to Sam’s face and wiped them away. “Stay strong, you hear me?” 

Sam nodded and squared his shoulders, his expression becoming slightly braver. “I will.” 

“Good.” Dean smiled at Sam and then turned his back on his family and headed towards the train.

 He craned his neck around all the people in the station, families were saying goodbye to each other and children were running between legs with excited shrieks; where was she?

“Dean! Dean!” 

Dean spun around, the worry in his chest quickly disappearing. “Lisa,” he said with a smile. Lisa ran into Dean’s arms and he hugged her tightly. “I thought you weren’t going to make it,” he said into her hair.

Lisa pulled away from Dean, tears in her eyes. “I thought so too, for a minute.” 

Dean smiled sadly at her, taking in every inch of her face, memorizing her soft features, knowing he wouldn’t see it again for a long time. “I’m going to miss you so much.” 

Lisa sniffed and wiped away her tears. “Dean,” she said, a small strangled sound came out of her mouth and she shut her eyes to more tears. 

“Hey, what is it?” Dean asked softly, brushing away one of her tears as he had done moments ago with Sam. 

“I-” Lisa struggled to speak. 

“Just breathe Lis, in and out okay, everything’s going to be fine,” Dean reassured her. 

Lisa took in a shuddering breath. “Dean, I… I think we should break up.” 

Dean stared at Lisa dumbfounded. Had he heard her right? Did she just say she wanted to- “Break up?” Dean echoed.

Lisa nodded. “I’m sorry Dean, I just… I can’t do this. I’m sorry.” 

“But… but everything’s going just fine with us, why now?” Dean asked, hurt and confusion fighting for dominance in his voice. 

“I know, it is, was, it’s just… I can’t be the girlfriend that keeps waiting for a letter that doesn’t come. I can’t do that Dean, I can’t.” Lisa was trembling now, her bottom lip wobbled as more tears dropped from the banks of her eyes. 

“This is about me going off to war?” Dean reiterated. “Lis, I’m going to be fine-”

“But what if you’re not,” Lisa broke in. “I can’t take that chance Dean, I can’t stand the not knowing everyday, planning a life we might never get to have while you’re getting shot at, it’s too much.” 

Dean gripped Lisa by the shoulders, steadying her. “Lisa, I’m going to come home, that’s a promise; we can have that life, we can get married, we can have a family.” 

Lisa shook her head, more tears falling to the floor. “No.” 

Dean straightened up, hurt tightening his gut. “Why not?” 

“Even if you do come back alive, you’re going to be different, you won’t be my Dean, this Dean, right here,” Lisa placed a hand on Dean’s chest. “You’ll be war torn and scarred. I can’t lose you to the Dean that is going to be born in the mud over there, I can’t. I… I won’t.” 

“So you think it’s just better to cut ties with me completely?” Dean asked bitterly. 

“At least I know who I’m leaving, not who I’ll get as a replacement if you come home,” Lisa replied coolly through a sniff. 

Dean’s jaw clenched in anger and disappointment. “Fine, if that’s really how you want it.” 

Lisa nodded. “It is.” 

“Right well then, I guess this is goodbye,” Dean said, his words felt empty. 

“I guess so.” 

Dean took Lisa in one last time before he stepped away and boarded the train. He found Benny in a compartment that looked out onto the platform. “Lisa looks upset,” Benny said as he tore his eyes from the window when Dean entered the compartment. 

“We broke up,” Dean replied monotonously. 

“Why?” Benny asked in shock. 

“She deserves better than the man I fear I might become overseas,” Dean replied. He didn’t know when he’d decided he was going to lie to Benny but he wasn’t going back now. 

“That’s kind of harsh, chief, don’t you think?” 

Dean shook his head, expression stone cold. “No, I don’t think it is.” 

The train pulled away and Dean watched as Lisa turned from the platform. Sam waved frantically at him and he returned the wave, but only half-heartedly. 

 

“I said some things,” Lisa said, bringing Dean back from his memories. 

“You said a lot of things,” Dean retorted. 

“I know, and I’m sorry, but they weren’t my words, they were my mothers-” 

“Well, for words that weren’t yours they sure as hell made it out of your mouth like they were,” Dean snapped. 

Lisa visibly tensed, Dean could see her patience wearing thin. “Please stop interrupting me and let me talk.” Dean crossed his arms with a sigh, but nodded at Lisa to continue. “Thank you,” she said, returning his nod. “I want you to know that I regretted breaking it off with you the second you stepped on that train, but I had no choice. My mother warned me about what could happen to you over there, how different you’d be, she gave me a speech, told me to end things to spare myself from future heartbreak. She was just trying to look out for me, she never thought you’d survive.” 

“She didn’t, or you didn’t?” Dean asked coarsely. 

“A little bit of both I guess,” Lisa replied. 

Dean snorted. “Well I proved you wrong, didn’t I? Maybe you should have tried having a little bit of faith, instead of just giving up.” 

“If I could go back and do it again, I would,” Lisa said. 

Dean resisted the urge to slam his hands on the bar counter. “Do you really think that matters to me now, Lisa?” 

“We can try again, I can do it right this time,” Lisa said. 

Dean scowled at her, his anger starting to seep through his words. “You had fourteen years to try and make things right. You can’t just show up here and expect me to fall in love with you again, that’s not how it works.” 

“I’m not asking for your forgiveness, I’m just asking for another chance,” Lisa said. 

“Well, in my book, you need forgiveness to get another shot, and you’re not getting either,” Dean replied. 

“Please,” Lisa begged, her eyes pleading. 

Dean shook his head. “No.You can’t just waltz into my bar like the last fourteen years didn’t happen and we’re love-sick teenagers again. We’re done Lisa, you ended it, parents or no parents, you went through with it, you cut me out.” Dean pulled his rag from his back pocket and began to wipe the counter. “Besides, you’re trying to get back together with a taken man.” 

Lisa’s expression changed from one of begging to one of jealousy and anger. “You have a girlfriend?” 

Dean pasted his best shit-eating grin onto his face. “Boyfriend, actually.” Cas wasn’t technically his boyfriend, but Lisa didn’t know that, and Dean fully intended on asking Cas to be his boyfriend once he was better. 

A look of pure disgust took root in Lisa’s eyes and she stood up abruptly. “You’re a homosexual ?” 

“Bisexual is the term you’re looking for,” Dean corrected. 

“How long have you-” 

Dean cut her off, knowing exactly what she was going to ask. “I probably figured it out when I was around seventeen, right around the time I was with you.” His tone was condescending and he knew he was being mean, but he couldn’t stop the bitterness that was taking over him. 

Lisa’s expression dwindled into hatred territory and she took a step backwards. “I see.”

“The door’s over there, you can show yourself out,” Dean said, indicating that their conversation was over. 

Lisa turned away from Dean, her steps were slow and deliberate as she walked to the door and Dean entered the kitchen as the chime over the door announced her departure.

 “Hey, Chief,” Benny said as Dean entered the room. Something must have read as wrong on Dean’s face because Benny’s cheery disposition quickly slipped away to be replaced by concern. “What’s the matter?” 

“Outside,” was all Dean managed to get out. 

Benny followed Dean outside, into the same ally that they had talked yesterday. “What’s up?” 

Dean took a shuddering breath. “Lisa.” 

“What about her?” Benny asked. 

“She just showed up, here, at the bar.” Dean felt breathless, he felt like something was sucking all the air from his lungs, like he was drowning, tears began to well at the back of his eyes.

“What?” Benny’s voice was on the cusp of joy but his confusion clouded over it. “Isn’t that a good thing?” 

Dean shook his head. “No, not a good thing, very bad thing,” he breathed out.

“Chief, what aren’t you telling me?” Benny asked as he put a hand on Dean’s shoulder, Dean sank into the touch, letting it ground him. 

“I didn’t break up with Lisa,” Dean said in one breath. 

“Oh?” 

“She broke up with me.” 

“Oh.” Dean didn’t miss the slight look of hurt that crossed Benny’s expression. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, it was just easier if you thought I’d ended it, and I didn’t plan on seeing her again, so I didn’t think to tell you.” Dean rattled off his apology but Benny held up a hand. 

“I always kind of suspected that was the case, by the way you’d avoid talking about her, but it’s good to hear you actually say it.” 

Dean took in another shaky breath. He wasn’t quite sure why he was so upset by Lisa’s visit, it could be because of the lie he’d been living with for the past fourteen years or it could be because he couldn’t stop that slight flutter in his chest when he first saw her walk through his bar door; that feeling which was immediately accompanied by guilt, because even though he and Cas weren’t officially together, he felt like he was betraying him. 

Benny picked up on his silent monologue without Dean needing to say anything. “Do you still love her?” 

Dean shook his head. “No.” He didn’t, he definitely didn’t . But there was something about her he couldn’t shake, something that had rekindled a long forgotten flame of his past. All the fond memories that he associated with high school were with Lisa, the nights he’d spend with her gazing at the stars or playing spin the bottle at a party. When she broke up with him he didn’t let himself think about her, in any way, not even in memories, and now everything was flooding back to him like a dam had been broken and he was parched land that was so desperately in need of water. 

“I just…” Dean steadied himself with a breath. “I don’t know what to think, she apologized to me, she wanted to get back together, after all these years.” 

“But you turned her down,” Benny pieced it together. 

“Of course I turned her down!” Dean snapped. “She told me that her mother made her end things with me. What am I supposed to make of that?” 

Benny shook his head. “I don’t know, chief.” 

“She had all this time to come and find me, and I just don’t understand why she chose now,” Dean said. 

“Did you ask her?” 

“I tried, but she kept avoiding the question.” Dean ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t think she’ll be coming back, I told her I’m with a man, and she seemed pretty repulsed.”

“Well, not everyone is accepting in this society,” Benny said. 

“Unfortunately,” Dean grumbled. 

“Look man, you’re clearly rattled by this, why don’t you head home, I can close again,” Benny offered. 

Dean almost sank to the ground in relief. “Really?” 

“Yeah, really, go home, go see Cas, do whatever it is you need to do to take your mind off Lisa.” 

“Thank you,” Dean said, and he meant it. 

“No problem, brother.” 

Dean tossed him the key to the bar and Benny pocketed it. “This is the last time I do this, though, just so we’re clear, I can’t keep bailing on my bar like this.” 

“Don’t sweat it, you work hard all the time, you deserve a break every once and awhile.” 

“Thanks again,” Dean said as he backed away towards his car. 

“Drive safe,” Benny said over his shoulder as he pushed open the door to the kitchen. 

Dean hopped in his Cadillac and drove quickly home. 

He knocked lightly on Cas’ door and heard a rough, ‘come in’. The second Dean was through the door he was darting towards Castiel, who was sitting on the couch, a book in his hands. 

Dean pulled Cas’ face towards his and planted a kiss there, much to Cas’ surprise. “Dean, are you okay?” Cas asked once Dean pulled away. 

Dean didn’t say anything, he just curled into Cas, half on top of him as he tried to fit himself onto the couch. He could hear Cas’ heartbeat through his shirt from where his ear was pressed against his chest, it was rapid from Dean’s unexpected arrival but it was slowly falling back to normal. 

“Dean,” Cas said softly. Dean could hear the congestion of Cas’ voice through the vibrations of his chest. “What happened?” Again, Dean didn’t answer. He couldn’t bring himself to, he didn’t know how to begin to tell Cas about Lisa. “What do you need?” Cas asked. 

That was a question that Dean could answer. He shifted to look at Cas. “You. Right now I just need you,” he mumbled. 

“Okay,” Cas replied. He kissed Dean tenderly and when they broke apart again Dean curled into Cas’ side and Cas carded his hands through Dean’s hair with a sigh, he shuddered at the touch, letting Cas calm him and wipe away every thought of Lisa he could possibly remember. 

Chapter Text

 

Cas didn’t say anything for a long time, he just let Dean hold onto him, not knowing what he was supposed to do. He could feel Dean shake under his fingertips and something wet dripped onto his shirt; tears. 

“Dean,” Cas whispered softly. “Dean, you need to talk to me, what happened?” Dean’s response was to hug Cas tighter. He sighed. “Dean, please.” 

Dean sniffed under Cas’ arms and then blinked up at him, green eyes glassy with tears. “Someone from my past came into my bar today,” Dean said quietly. 

“Someone bad?” Cas asked softly. 

Dean nodded. “Someone I tried hard to forget.” 

“Do you want to talk about it?” 

Dean shook his head, burrowing deeper into Cas’ chest. “Not right now.” Dean sniffed and then placed his hand over Cas’. “But I will tell you, eventually, just not today.” 

“Okay,” Cas replied. He wanted desperately to know who Dean was talking about, but he wasn’t about to pry, Dean would tell him in his own time. 

“How are you doing?” Dean asked, his face still pressed to Cas’ chest. “Did your fever go down?” 

“It was at 100 the last time I checked,” Cas replied. 

“When was that?” Dean asked. 

“This morning.” He’d checked his temperature just after Dean left and the number beside the red line had read a perfect 100. 

“It’s probably gone down by now,” Dean said. 

Cas shrugged. “Maybe.” 

“I’ll get the thermometer.” 

Dean extracted himself from Cas’ side and stumbled off in the direction of the bathroom. When he returned, Cas let Dean stick the thermometer in his mouth and when Dean pulled it out he gave a humph of approval. “You’re back to normal.” 

“Well that’s a relief,” Cas said with a sigh. 

“How’s the cough been?” Dean asked as he sat back down on the couch and snuggled up to Cas again. 

“Better,” Cas replied honestly. He’d hardly coughed today and he was beginning to think the worst of his sickness was over. 

“Good. I’ll tell Bobby we can make it this coming weekend, if you still want to look into cars,” Dean said. 

“I’d love that, Dean,” Cas replied with a smile. 

Cas still couldn’t wrap his head around just how much Dean was doing for him. In the short time since he’d moved into his apartment he found himself falling for Dean faster than he’d fallen for anyone else in his life. They way Dean’s gentle green eyes traced over him, his soft touches, the feeling of his lips against Cas’, all of these were things that Cas had never realized he’d needed, and now they were things he craved. 

Cas tightened his hold around Dean’s waist and the other man snuggled even closer to Cas, his tears had long-since dried but he was still unyielding to Cas’ questioning gaze. He wanted to know who had had such a great effect on Dean to bring him to tears. There were still a great many things that Cas didn’t know about his green-eyed friend -friend? Was that really the right term? What were they now? He didn’t dare use the word boyfriend, but it seemed so right, and he wanted desperately to make his relationship with Dean official- but he hoped to learn, he wanted to learn, as much as he could about Dean. 

The quiet moment of silence that had been elapsing in the form of contentment between them was interrupted by a sharp ringing as the phone in Castiel’s kitchen announced an incoming call. With a sigh, Cas removed his arms from around Dean, who gave a small whine of sadness, and headed to the kitchen to answer the phone. 

“Hello?” Cas said, his voice still raw from his illness. 

“Hey baby bro,” Gabriel’s familiar quip answered. 

“Gabe? Is everything alright?” Cas asked, he hadn't been expecting a call from Gabriel any time soon, and he hoped that there wasn’t a horrible reason behind it.

“Oh, no everything’s alright,” Gabriel was quick to put away Cas’ worries. “I was just calling to check up on you, and to ask you about your plans for the upcoming holiday.” 

“I’m recovering from an illness, actually,” Cas replied, “and what upcoming holiday?”

Gabe snorted on the other end of the phone. “Thanksgiving you big dummy,” he laughed. “And I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t been well, you should have called, I would have come over.” 

Thanksgiving. Right. Cas hadn’t realized that they were already practically halfway through the month and that Thanksgiving was in approximately two weeks. 

“That’s alright, Dean, my uh, neighbor, has been looking out for me,” Cas replied awkwardly. 

“Oh?” Gabriel asked, Cas didn’t have to be able to see his brother to know that an eyebrow was being raised in a quizzical expression. “ Dean , huh?” 

“Gabe, don’t even go there,” Cas warned. 

“Alright, I won’t. Just be careful Cas, okay?” Gabriel replied, a hint of a warning in his voice. 

Cas rolled his eyes and sighed. “I am being careful.” 

“Good, I don’t want you getting into trouble.” 

Cas decided to move onto Gabriel’s other reason for calling. “Anyway, about Thanksgiving,”

“Ah, yes, turkey day,” Gabriel said. 

“I wasn’t really planning anything super elaborate,” Cas replied. 

“Well, I can host if you can find a way to get out to me,” Gabriel offered. 

Cas opened his mouth to respond when Dean’s voice made him put a hand over the receiver and turn to the man on his couch. “Who’s on the phone?” Dean asked. 

“My brother, Gabriel,” Cas replied. 

“What does he want?” 

“He’s asking about Thanksgiving,” Cas said. 

Dean crooked an eyebrow. “Oh? Are you making big plans?” 

Cas pretended he didn’t hear the slight sadness in his voice. “We’re working that out right now,” Cas replied. 

Dean’s eyes seemed to brighten, so different from the tears he’d been shedding mere minutes ago. “Well, in that case, I can save you both the trouble. I was planning to have a get together with Sam and his fiance, Jess. I was going to invite you anyway, but your brother is also welcome to join us, I’d like to meet him.”

Cas felt the pink of a blush rising on his cheeks as he smiled. “Thank you, Dean, that’s very kind of you.” 

“Is that a yes?” Dean asked, his green eyes hopeful. 

“Let me ask Gabriel,” Cas replied. He turned his attention back to the phone in his hand and heard Gabriel chattering away on the other end. 

“Cas? Cas? You still there?”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry Gabe, I was just talking to Dean,” Cas replied. 

“Oh?” Gabriel’s voice held a tease and Cas resisted the urge to sigh. 

“Yes, and he has kindly invited us both to attend his Thanksgiving get together,” Cas said. 

“Oh has he now?” 

“Yes,” Cas replied with another roll of his eyes. His brother liked to make things difficult sometimes and Cas was losing patience for it. 

“So, he is more than just a neighbor,” Gabriel said triumphantly. 

“I don’t know what he is, okay? Now, do you accept the invitation or not?” Cas asked, his voice raising with annoyance. 

“I suppose I accept,” Gabriel replied with an exasperated sigh, “but only because I want to meet this man.” 

“Great,” Cas said. “I’ll see you then, Gabe.” He hung up before Gabriel could say anything else and then turned to Dean with a sigh. Dean was staring at Cas with questions dancing in his eyes. “What?” Cas asked. 

“Well?” 

“He said yes, we will join you for Thanksgiving,” Cas replied. 

Dean smiled. “Awesome.”

Cas found his way back to the couch and allowed for their previous position to be taken up again; Dean almost on top of him with Cas’ hands wrapped around him. “Dean,” Cas said quietly, almost a whisper. 

“Hmm?” Dean hummed. 

Cas felt his stomach flip at the thought of what he was about to ask. “What are we?” 

Dean pulled himself away from Cas, and Cas felt his heart skip uncomfortably. “What do you want to be?” Dean asked softly. He eyes darted nervously over Cas’ lips and Cas swallowed hard. 

“I want to be with you,” Cas replied, his answer nothing more than a breath of air to be carried to Dean’s ears. 

Dean smiled, it was filled with warmth and happiness. “Me too.”

“So, are we, together, now?” Cas asked anxiously, he wanted to hear Dean say it, wanted to know that Dean was on the same page as him. 

Dean shifted nervously on the couch, fiddling with his hands. “If you want to be, but I don’t want you to feel like we’re moving too fast or anything, if you don’t want to put a name to what we are then we don’t have to, until you’re ready,” Dean rambled. 

“Dean,” Cas reached out and steadied Dean’s working hands, lacing their fingers together. “I don’t think we’re moving too fast.” 

Dean met Cas’ gaze evenly, hope sparking in Dean’s green eyes. “You don’t?” 

Cas shook his head. “No.” 

Dean grinned, his familiar smirk prodding at his lips. “So you want to be…” Dean’s hands tightened around Cas’ and his eyes went to Cas’ lips again, “... my boyfriend?” Dean asked, his words still sounded hesitant and Cas decided to purge any thought of uncertainty from Dean’s mind, as well as his own. 

He pushed himself forward and kissed Dean. “Yes, Dean, yes I want to be your boyfriend,” he breathed against Dean’s lips. 

Dean’s eyes twinkled in the dim light of Cas’ apartment and he felt Dean’s hands wrapping around his waist as he pulled him closer. “Good,” 

Cas blushed, without meaning to, at the glint in Dean’s eyes but Dean only chuckled at the red on his cheeks and kissed him harder, pushing him back onto the couch with gentle touches. Dean’s hands skated under Cas’ pajama shirt and over the skin underneath and Cas shuddered at the warm touch. Cas let his eyes flutter shut as Dean worked kisses up his neck to his jaw where their mouths met again. 

Cas’ hands came up to Dean’s shoulders and he let out a groan as he forced himself to pull away. “Not here,” he breathed out in a heavy gasp. 

Dean was quick to act, pulling Cas up from the couch and leading him towards Cas’ bedroom, keeping their hands joined the whole time. Cas found himself pushed onto the bed and Dean crawled over him, fiddling with the bottom of Cas’ shirt as he pushed it towards his head. Cas let Dean help him out of the shirt and Dean discarded it on the floor and then proceeded to trace kisses up Cas’ bare chest. He squirmed under the other man, feeling each touch of Dean’s lips and the ghost of his fingers in his hair. 

Dean’s hands went to Cas’ waistband, he worked Cas’ belt off in one fluid motion, and as he fumbled with the button of his pants Cas felt his heart bump nervously against his ribs, and fear began to rush through him. “No,” he said, as he pushed away from Dean and scrambled to sit up on the bed. 

Dean fell back on his heels, confusion and concern in his eyes. “What’s wrong?” 

Cas didn’t know what was wrong, he wanted this, he wanted Dean , but something didn’t feel right, something that poked at the back of his mind in a memory he didn’t want to unlock. “Just,” Cas felt breathless, “not yet, I… I can’t.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay.” 

Cas reached out for Dean’s hand and Dean met him halfway. He shook his head. “No, I want this to happen, Dean, I do, I just…” Cas sighed, down-casting his eyes. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” 

Dean’s thumb brushed the back of Cas’ hand gently as he said, “Hey, It’s okay. We don’t have to.” 

“I’m sorry,” Cas whispered. 

Dean kissed the top of Cas’ head and wrapped his arm around Cas’ shoulder, pulling him into his side. “Don’t be sorry, I’m the one that’s sorry, if I came on too strong, too soon.” 

“No, no, it’s not you,” Cas said quietly. The memories were pushing forwards in his mind and he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stop them. 

Dean’s worried voice made Cas open his eyes again. “Cas? Are you sure you’re okay?” 

Cas nodded meekly but as the memories finally spilled over into his thoughts he changed his answer and shook his head, feeling tears well up in his eyes. “No,” he choked out. 

“Hey, hey, come here,” Dean pulled Cas closer to him and ran a comforting hand through his hair as Cas laid his tear streaked cheek against Dean’s chest. “What is it?” Dean asked softly.

Cas sniffed and with a sigh, he brought a hand to his face and wiped away his tears. “I haven’t…” he cleared his throat and took a shaky breath. “I haven’t, um, done it , since I was in the war.” Dean didn’t say anything, but Cas could feel his surprise in the way his breath stilled momentarily. “The last time I… did it … we were attacked.” 

Cas shuddered at the memory. Bombs screeching through the air, the ground rumbling under his feet, the house he’d been in with the other boy - not Balthazar, a boy named Bartholomew- tumbling down on top of him. Bart was only a year only than Castiel, and they’d been eyeing each other for months and finally decided to act on their desires, which was when the attack happened. 

“We were in a house, me and this boy,” Cas said, all his efforts were put into keeping his voice steady, “when the bombs started falling. We were… you know… and the house started to come down on top of us... a-and B-bart shoved me out of the way as one of the beams fell. And… and it f-fell on h-him. I w-watched him d-die,” Cas hiccuped, unable to stop the tremor in his voice, despite his efforts.

“Shit Cas,” Dean murmured, hugging Cas tighter as more tears leaked from his eyes.

For years he’d suppressed that memory by not having sexual relations with any of his past boyfriends - not that there had been many because he’d always ended his relationships after a few weeks, and after a while he’d stopped dating all together- but Dean was different, Cas didn’t want to end things with Dean, he wanted to take the step that he’d been avoiding for fifteen years; just, not now. 

“I’m sorry,” Cas apologized again. 

“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, Cas,” Dean said comfortingly. When Cas didn’t say anything Dean nudged him gently. “Okay?” 

“Okay,” Cas replied. 

“We don’t have to, at all, you know,” Dean said.

Cas brought himself to look at Dean and give a small shake of his head. “No, I want to, but not right now.” 

Dean nodded and thumbed a finger over Cas’ cheek. “I’ll be here when you are.”

Cas smiled faintly at Dean and then kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you.” 

Deeming the moment over, Dean cleared his throat. “So, are you planning to go to work tomorrow?” 

Cas pondered the question for a moment. “I think I will,” he said after a moment. 

“Well then, I will pick you up at eight.” 

“Dean-” Cas began. 

“I will not hear a word against this, Cas. You got sick because of all those bike rides, and as I am, officially , your boyfriend now, I’d like to drive my boyfriend to work,” Dean said.  

Cas sighed, he knew this was an argument he couldn’t win, and besides, he’d have a car of his own in a few days if all went to plan, so he nodded. “Alright Dean, I will allow you to drive me to work.” 

Dean beamed at him. “Excellent.” 

Cas voiced his question that he’d been wondering since Dean came into his life. “How did I get so lucky with you?” 

Dean shrugged.  “I guess you just have low standards.” 

Cas laughed and playfully hit Dean on the arm. “You, Dean Winchester, are not low, in any way,  in my standards.” 

Dean blushed and ducked his head.  “Aw shucks Cas, thanks.” 

“Me on the other hand-” 

“Stop it right there,” Dean said, breaking into Cas’ sentence. “ You , Castiel Novak, are about the highest high I could have ever reached, truth be told you’re probably way out of my league.”

It was Cas’ turn to blush. “No I’m not, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of better looking boyfriends.”

Dean carded a hand slowly through Cas’ hair and smiled at him. “Nah, you’re definitely the best looking boyfriend I’ve ever had.” 

Cas’ blush grew. “Well the same goes for you.” 

Dean chuckled, his perfect smile throwing Cas’ stomach for a loop. “Come here,” Dean said in a laughter-filled voice. 

Cas leaned forward and let their lips connect in a long kiss. By the time they pulled apart they were both gasping and their faces were flushed a crimson shade of red. 

“I should go,” Dean said softly. 

Cas’ lips formed into a pout. “Why?” 

“Well, you reminded me that I need to call Sammy and actually formally invite him to Thanksgiving, and I’ve got a few bills to pay,” Dean replied. 

“Okay,” Cas said. 

Dean sighed, his eyes moving over Cas’ expression. “Alright, how’s this sound, I’ll go pay my bills and call up Sam and then I’ll come back here and we can cook up some dinner together.” 

Cas grinned, he liked the sound of that. “Okay.” 

“Great,” Dean smiled. 

“Dean,” Cas said, before Dean could leave. 

“Yeah Cas?” 

“Will you stay here again tonight?” Cas asked timidly. 

“Of course Cas, if you want me.” 

“I do.” 

“Then I’ll stay,” Dean whispered against Cas’ hair. He kissed Cas again and then made his way out of the bedroom and, a few moments later, out the door.

 

Dean was only gone for about twenty minutes, but they were the most agonizing twenty minutes of Cas’ life, or at least they felt like it. Dean entered the apartment carrying two bags, one filled with groceries, the other his duffel bag. He set the duffel down on the couch and then went into the kitchen and began to pull items from the grocery bag. 

“What are we making?” Cas asked. 

“Shepherds pie,” Dean replied. “I’ll get started on the meat if you want to cut up the potatoes.” 

Cas nodded and found a cutting board and a knife. He began to peel the potatoes and chop them into pieces. The sizzle of meat hitting a hot pan sounded behind Cas as Dean began to cook the meat. Once Cas was finished with the potatoes he filled the pot with water and then placed it on the stove. 

“What next?” Cas asked. 

“We need to cut the carrots,” Dean replied. “I’ll do it, if you want to watch the meat.” 

Cas nodded and he and Dean switched positions, Cas now flipping and stirring the meat while Dean cut the carrots quickly and efficiently. Cas couldn’t keep his eyes from following the movement of the knife against the cutting board and the muscles that rippled across Dean’s back and shoulders as he worked. Cas quickly averted his eyes, even though, as Dean’s boyfriend , he felt like he had more of a right to let his eyes travel across the broad expanse of Dean’s back; and yet he still felt slightly guilty all the same. 

When the potatoes were ready for mashing and the meat was browned, Dean found two plates from the cabinets and set them down on the table. Cas filled each plate with mashed potatoes and Dean did the same with the meat and vegetable mixture. Dean sat down but Cas turned away from the table, towards the cabinet he kept filled with liquor. He pulled a bottle of fine red wine from its depth and found two glasses before heading back to the table. 

Cas felt Dean’s green eyes follow his every movement as he poured them glasses and then settled down in his chair. “To us,” Cas said as he lifted his glass into the air. 

“To us,” Dean echoed with a warm smile. 

Their glasses clinked together and after they’d each swallowed a mouthful of wine, they dug into the meal they had prepared, making idle conversation and exchanging smiles and small laughs.

After the dishes were done they found themselves in bed, wrapped up in each other’s arms. Cas’ eyes closed and he let the warmth of Dean’s embrace and his steady breathing push him off to sleep. “Sleep well, Cas,” Dean whispered in his ear.

Chapter Text

The week went by slowly. Cas’ illness gradually became less and less and Dean was glad to see him getting back on his feet. He’d been driving him to work all week and even though Cas would assure him that he didn’t need to, he could tell that Cas was grateful; Dean wasn’t about to let him get sick again from his stubbornness to accept help. 

Today was Friday, and Dean was stood behind his bar, anxious for the day to end so he could bring Cas home and then head to Bobby’s in the morning. 

“You okay, chief?” Benny asked as he came out of the kitchen. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine.” 

“Thinking about the weekend?” Benny asked with a smirk. 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Shut up.” 

“What!? My best friend finally has a boyfriend, I’m allowed to tease you.”

“Yeah, yeah, only you have that right,” Dean replied with a chuckle. 

Benny grinned. “I’m honored, chief.” 

Dean sighed and shook his head, unable to hide his smile. “Get back to work.” 

Benny’s posture straightened and he saluted. “Yes, sir. Right away, sir.”

As Benny turned away from Dean the chime over the door rang and he looked up to see a head of messy black hair and wonderful blue eyes. “Cas,” Dean said in surprise. 

“Hello, Dean,” Cas replied, a smile touching his eyes. 

“What are you doing here?” Dean asked as he came out from behind the bar counter. He wrapped Cas in a hug and the other man chuckled. 

“What? I need an excuse to visit my boyfriend now?” Cas asked innocently. 

Boyfriend . Dean grinned, he was still getting used to that word coming out of Cas’ mouth in association with himself.  

“No, of course you don’t need an excuse,” Dean replied as he gave Cas a quick kiss.

Cas blushed when Dean pulled away. “Are you sure you want to be seen kissing me in public?” he joked. “People might talk.” 

“I don’t care who sees,” Dean replied. He kissed Cas again, “and let them talk.” Dean took Cas’ hand in his and led him to the counter. “Now, what can I get for you?” 

Cas hummed and brought a hand up to his chin. “Surprise me,” he replied after a moment. 

“Can do,” Dean replied. He turned towards the kitchen and was about to enter when he saw Jo staring at him. “What?” he asked. 

Jo shrugged, blushing. “Nothing, just, you guys are so cute.” 

Dean flashed her a smile as he pushed open the kitchen door. “Damn right we are.” 

Ellen looked up from her cutting board as Dean entered the room. “Dean, what can we do for you?” she asked. 

“Well, Cas is here and he told me to surprise him, so I figured I’d put in an order for some of Benny’s famous tomato soup,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll get right on it,” Benny said. 

“Good, thank you,” Dean replied. He quickly left the kitchen again and returned behind his bar. Cas smiled up at him from his seat. “Can I interest you in a drink, sir?” he asked.

“Oh, just water is fine, thank you,” Cas replied. 

Dean poured Cas a glass of water and then watched as Cas raised the water to his lips. “So, how are things at the bakery?” Dean asked. 

Cas set his water down and smiled. “Great! I’ve made more pies and cookies than I can count, I think the business is doing really well.” 

“I’m glad to hear it.” 

“What about here?” Cas asked. 

“We get a good bunch of customers,” Dean replied.

The bell over the door rang again and recognition dawned on Dean as a red-headed woman come into the bar, accompanied by a blond-haired woman. 

“Charlie!” Dean said happily. “It’s good to see you again.” 

“Dean,” Charlie smiled. “You remembered my name.” 

“And you remembered mine,” Dean replied. 

“How could I forget?” Charlie laughed. “You served me the best breakfast of my life.” 

“You’ve got the chef to thank for that,” Dean said. He turned to the woman beside Charlie. “And who is this?” 

Charlie blushed slightly. “This is Gilda, my uh... girlfriend.” She said the last word cautiously but Dean only grinned and held out his hand to Gilda. 

“Dean.” 

“Nice to meet you,” Gilda said as she took Dean’s hand in her own. 

Dean turned back to Charlie and lowered his voice. “You don’t need to be ashamed you know.” He gestured towards the counter where Cas was sitting, watching them curiously. “That’s my boyfriend over there.” 

Charlie’s smile brightened. “Oh, really?” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah.” Dean waved Cas over and the blue-eyed man slid from his stool to join Dean with Charlie and Gilda. “This is Cas, Cas Charlie, Charlie Cas. And this is Charlie’s girlfriend, Gilda.” They all exchanged handshakes as they said ‘nice to meet you’ in unison. “Well, can I get you two seated?” Dean asked. 

“Yes, please,” Charlie replied. 

“Right this way,” he said. He led them towards an empty table and Jo followed him with two menus.  

“Thank you,” Charlie said as she took the menus from Jo. 

“Can I start you two with something to drink?” Jo asked. 

“Water please,” Gilda replied. 

“I’ll have water as well,” Charlie said. 

“Coming right up,” Jo smiled. 

Knowing Charlie and Gilda were in good hands, Dean took Cas’ hand in his own and led him back to the bar counter. Moments later, Benny emerged from the kitchen carrying Cas’ soup. He set it down in front of Cas and Cas smiled. “Thank you.” 

Benny returned the smile. “You’re welcome.” 

Benny hesitated from returning to the kitchen as Cas blew on the soup cupped in his spoon and sipped at it slowly. “It’s very good,” Cas told Benny. Benny seemed relieved and Dean couldn’t help but let out a small laugh.

 “I’m glad you like it,” Benny said. 

Cas continued to eat his soup and Benny headed back towards the kitchen. “Do you really like it?” Dean asked once Benny was out of ear shot. 

Cas nodded, a genuine smile twitching against his lips. “Yes, it’s probably the best tomato soup I’ve ever had.” 

Dean grinned and then left Cas to his soup while he went over to serve Ash another beer. “So,” Ash said once Dean had deposited the bottle in front of him, “you’ve finally gotten into a relationship.” 

“Yup, I’m a taken man now,” Dean replied with a quick glance in Cas’ direction. 

“Don’t think that’s going to stop the ladies from fawning over you,” Ash said as he smirked at Jo. 

Jo quirked an eyebrow at Ash. “What?” she asked from across the bar. 

“Oh nothing,” Ash replied. 

Dean chuckled and turned away from Ash. “Dean,” Cas said, drawing Dean’s attention back to him. 

“Yeah, angel?” Dean asked. 

“I’ll take the check now,” Cas replied. 

“Oh no, I wouldn’t dream of letting you pay for your meal, it’s on the house,” Dean said. 

“Dean I could never-”

“You’re my boyfriend, Cas, that means you get free meals at my bar, it’s a perk of dating the owner,” he said with a smirk. 

Cas sighed but didn’t continue to argue. “Alright, Dean.” 

Dean grinned at his victory and picked up the empty bowl. “I’ll be right back.” 

When Dean entered the kitchen he nearly ran into Benny. “Dean!” he exclaimed. “I was just coming to find you.” 

“What’s up?” Dean asked as he put Cas’ bowl in the sink. 

“I was just thinking that maybe you’d like to head home early, that way you and Cas could get a jump on your travel to Sioux Falls. We can handle everything here for the rest of the day.”

Dean shook his head. “I told Bobby we’d be arriving tomorrow afternoon.” 

“So? Head out early, book a motel,” Benny said. 

Dean didn’t want to admit that he liked that idea, but still he shook his head. “I told you that I wasn’t going to be leaving work early again, I can’t keep putting the responsibility of my bar on you.”

“Dean, would you just accept a gift when it’s being offered,” Benny said through an exasperated sigh. “You’re so stubborn.” 

“It’s one of my better qualities,” Dean replied with a smirk. 

Benny’s hands came up to Dean’s shoulders. “You’re taking the rest of the day off, and I won’t hear another word against it.” 

Dean crossed his arms and frowned at Benny. “I thought I was your boss, not the other way around.” 

“I’m not telling you this as your employee, I’m telling you this as your friend and wing man,” Benny replied. 

Dean sighed. “If I do this, it’s a one time thing.” 

Benny stepped back from Dean. “Sure thing.” 

“Fine,” Dean said, admitting defeat. 

Benny grinned. “Excellent. Now go get him, tiger.” 

“I already have him,” Dean replied with a wink. He paused, hand on the kitchen door as he looked back at Benny. “Speaking of relationships, how’s it going that Andrea?” 

A wide grin spread across Benny’s lips. “We’re officially dating.” 

Dean spun around. “That’s great! Why didn’t you say anything!?” Dean exclaimed.

“Yeah, she’s amazing,” Benny said. “You know, we should double date sometime with you and Cas.” 

“Yeah sure, sounds fun,” Dean replied. “Now,” he said as he pointed a finger at Benny, “you better take good care of my bar this weekend.” 

Benny held up his hands. “Don’t worry about the bar, chief. Everything will be fine.” 

Dean narrowed his eyes. “It better be.” 

“Just get going, would ya?” Benny laughed. 

“Alright, alright, I’m going.” 

Dean pushed his way out of the kitchen, and instead of going back behind the bar, he moved behind Cas and wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist. “Dean,” Cas gasped in slight surprise. 

“Hey handsome, come here often?” Dean whispered in Cas’ ear.

Cas turned in Dean’s grip. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” 

“Oh?” Dean smirked. “Well in that case, do you have any recommendations?” 

“Everything’s good,” Cas replied, his blue eyes dancing with a smile. 

Dean’s eyes traveled to Cas’ lips. “Mmm, I’m sure.” Cas blushed and Dean grinned and took Cas’ hand in his. “Come on, what do you say we get out of here?” 

“And go where?” Cas asked. 

“Well, I figured we could start our journey to Sioux Falls a bit early, spend the night in a motel,” Dean replied, his voice low enough for only Cas to hear. 

Cas grinned. “Okay.” 

“Awesome, let’s go then,” Dean said, tugging Cas off of his stool.

Cas came willingly and Dean pulled him towards the back door and to the parking lot. Once in his Cadillac, Dean leaned over and gave Cas a quick kiss before starting the engine and pulling out onto the street. When they reached their apartment complex they each went their separate ways for a brief couple of minutes to gather their packed bags for the weekend before reuniting at the car. 

“Ready?” Dean asked as he shut the trunk containing their duffel bags. 

“Ready,” Cas replied with a grin. 

Dean handed Cas a map and then pointed the car in the direction of Sioux Falls. “Find us a motel about three hours away,” Dean said. Cas nodded and began to scan the map for said motel.

 “Found one, I’ll let you know what roads to take,” he said after a couple minutes. 

“Thanks,” Dean replied. 

Dean turned on the radio to hear Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock come over the speakers. “You’re the cutest little jailbird I ever did see,” Dean sang as he glanced over at Cas. 

Cas blushed and grinned as he sang, “Dancing to the jailhouse rock.” 

 

The drive went smoothly, with Cas giving occasional directions and Dean gently nudging the car according to Cas’ words. It was nearly 5:00 when they pulled into a small dimly lit motel. They pulled their duffel bags from the trunk and then Dean turned to Cas. “Wait here while I get us a room.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean headed inside and graced the woman behind the counter with a smile. “Hi there,” she said. 

“Hi,” Dean replied. “I’d like one room please.” 

“Sure thing,” she replied. “That’s eight dollars.” 

Dean handed her the money and in exchange she gave him a key. “Thank you,” he said. 

“Enjoy your stay,” the woman smiled. 

Cas was right where Dean had left him when he came out of the building and he quickly laced his hands with Cas’ and led him off towards their room. “So, what are we planning to do tonight?” Cas asked as Dean unlocked the door. 

“Whatever you want,” Dean replied. 

“How’s dinner sound?” Cas asked. 

“Dinner sounds wonderful,” Dean replied as he shut the door and kissed Cas gently on the lips.

“Let’s wait a bit and get settled in, the map says there’s a restaurant just down the road, it shouldn’t take us long to get there,” Cas said. 

“Okay, I don’t care where we go,” Dean replied as he fell down onto the double bed. Cas stayed where he was and Dean propped himself up on his elbow. “Are you just going to stand there all night?” 

Cas broke into a gummy smile and dropped his bag on the floor before crawling onto the bed beside Dean. Dean wrapped his arms around Cas and let him snuggle into the crook of his neck. Cas let out a content sigh and Dean kissed the top of his head. 

“This is perfect,” Cas said softly. 

“Mmm, it is,” Dean agreed. He shifted under Cas and rested his head against Cas’. “I can’t wait for you to meet Bobby, I think you’ll like him.” 

“Will he like me?” Cas asked. Dean didn’t miss the nervous tint to Cas’ words. 

“He’ll love you,” Dean replied earnestly.

“Are you sure?” Cas asked worriedly. 

“I’m sure,” Dean said into Cas’ hair. 

“Are we…” Cas stalled, seemingly unsure how to continue. 

“What?” 

“Are we going to have to pretend that we aren’t-”

“No, Cas, no,” Dean cut in. “Bobby’s cool with all this.” 

“Really?” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, if he wasn’t I would’ve been kicked out of the army and probably killed in an alley somewhere.” Cas chuckled but steeled himself when Dean nudged him playfully. “Hey, don’t laugh.” 

“Sorry.” 

“Well, I’m going to hit the shower and then we can start thinking about heading to dinner,” Dean said. 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean kissed Cas again and then hauled himself to his feet and meandered in the direction of the bathroom, picking up his duffel bag on his way. “I’ll be quick,” he said over his shoulder as he opened the door. 

“Take your time,” Cas said as he pushed himself up to lean against the headboard of the bed. 

Despite Cas’ words, Dean only took about ten minutes in the shower before he was donning a fresh pair of jeans, a tight black t-shirt, and pushing a towel through his hair to get rid of the excess water. “I’m ready when you are,” he said. 

Cas met Dean in front of the bed and brought their lips together. “Let’s go.” 

Dean swung his coat on over his shoulders and followed Cas back out to the car. Cas directed them to a small restaurant called “The Devil’s Bar and Grill” and once they were seated, drinks ordered and menus in hand, Dean reached across the table for Cas’ hand. “We should do things like this more often,” he said. 

Cas nodded. “I agree.” 

Dean pulled his hand away and turned his gaze to the menu. “What are you thinking of getting?” 

Cas shrugged. “The burgers look good.” 

“Yeah, they do. I think I might go for the bacon cheeseburger.” 

“Good choice, I might do the same.” 

Their waitress popped up beside them with their drinks. Dean had been stuck getting a water, because he had to drive, but Cas got a beer; Dean eyed it with only slight jealousy. “So, what can I get for you boys? Or do you still need more time?” 

“No I think we’re good,” Dean replied. 

“Well then, what’ll it be?” she asked. 

“I think we’re both going to do the bacon cheeseburger,” Dean answered. 

“Excellent choice.” The waitress marked down their orders on her notepad and smiled at Dean before leaving. 

Dean turned back to Cas to see him staring after the waitress with a pout on his lips. “What?” Dean asked. 

Cas narrowed his eyes and brought himself back to face Dean. “I just don’t like the way she was looking at you.” 

Dean chuckled. “Is someone jealous ?” 

Cas’ pout deepened. “No.” 

Dean grinned. “So you are jealous.” 

Cas took a wistful sip of his beer and then crossed his arms. “Am not.” 

“Don’t worry, I’ve only got eyes for you,” Dean replied, locking his eyes on Cas’ blue orbs. 

Cas squinted at Dean. “Promise?” 

“Promise.” 

Cas’ pout faded and he offered Dean a half-smile. “Okay.” 

When their food arrived they ate in silence, too absorbed in the delicacy of perfectly cooked meat to have time for talking, and when they were finished Cas insisted on paying the bill. “You’ve driven me all the way out here, given me free lunch, taken care of me when I was too sick to even move properly, I think I owe you fucking dinner,” he had grumbled. 

Dean caved. “Alright, alright, fine.” 

Cas gave Dean a curt nod. “Thank you.” 

By the time they made it back to the motel they were both tired and ready for bed. Cas showered and then they changed into their pajamas and curled up together in bed. “We don’t have to be at Bobby’s until one tomorrow, so we can sleep in,” Dean said through a yawn. 

“Wonderful,” Cas grumbled through his own yawn. 

It didn’t take long for them to fall asleep, a tangle of limbs and sheets. 

 

Dean was drawn to wakefulness when the warm body next to him disappeared. “Cas?” Dean slurred as he blinked open his eyes. 

“Come on, we’ve got to get going,” Cas said. 

Dean rubbed at his eyes and leaned back on his arms. “What time is it?” 

“Ten thirty,” Cas replied. 

“Shit, that late already?” Dean gasped, instantly awake. 

“Yeah, I guess we were tired,” Cas said as he began to get dressed. 

Dean was momentarily distracted by the exposed skin of Cas’ back as he stripped off his pajama shirt to be replaced by a blue button down. He recomposed himself and also began to get dressed. He felt Cas’ eyes on him the moment he pulled his shirt over his head. 

“You checking me out?” Dean asked with a smirk. 

“Don’t call me out like that, you were just doing it to me a second ago, don’t think I didn’t notice,” Cas replied haughtily. 

“Guilty as charged,” Dean chuckled. 

Cas tossed Dean a shirt. “Now hurry up and get dressed, we still have a two hour drive ahead of us.”

Dean caught the shirt and quickly put it on, followed by jeans, and his favorite jacket. When they were both dressed Dean brought the key to the front desk and checked them out and then met Cas at the car. The tires squealed on the asphalt as Dean tore out of the motel parking lot and sent them hurtling towards Bobby’s establishment. 

Bobby was waiting for them outside, parked in his wheelchair, when Dean pulled into The Singer Auto and Repair Shop. He and Cas made their way towards Bobby and Dean stopped a few feet away, bringing his hand up to his forehead. “Captain,” he said. 

Bobby chuckled. “Yeah yeah.” 

Dean grinned, smiling down at the man in the wheelchair. “It’s good to see you, Bobby.” 

“You too Dean.” He released Dean and asked, “How’ve you been?” 

“Great Bobby, amazing actually,” he said with a glance at Cas. 

Bobby’s eyes finally landed on the blue-eyed man standing awkwardly apart from them. “Ah, so this must be Cas,” he said. 

Cas’ body went rigid and he saluted. “Captain.” 

Bobby waved him down. “I appreciate the sentiment, but you don’t have to salute.” 

Cas lowered his hand and instead offered it to Bobby, who took it politely. “It’s still a pleasure to meet you, sir.” 

Bobby raised an eyebrow in Dean’s direction. “I like him.” 

Dean wrapped an arm around Cas’ shoulders. “Yeah, me too.” 

“Oh, so you’re something now, are you?” Bobby asked. 

“Yup,” Dean replied, popping the P at the end of the word. 

“Well then, before we start lookin’ at cars, can I interest you two in a beer?” Bobby asked. 

“That’d be great actually,” Dean replied. 

“Well come on in.” Bobby spun himself around in his wheelchair and Dean and Cas followed him inside. 

They took a seat at a rickety old table and Bobby handed them both beers. “So, what’ve you been up to all these years?” Dean asked as raised the bottle to his lips. 

Bobby shrugged. “Same old stuff.” 

“Sold anything lately?” 

“Yeah, just the other day, an old Buick to a lovely young lady.” Bobby turned to Cas, who was staring at his beer. “So, Cas, what did you have in mind to buy today?” 

Cas shrugged. “Just something cheap, that runs.” 

“Well, I’ve got a lot of those around,” Bobby laughed. 

“I’m sure,” Cas replied. 

Bobby focused on Dean. “You got my answer, what about yours, what have you been up to?” 

Dean shrugged. “I own a tavern.” 

“Right, I remember you telling me something about that. Is business good?” 

“As good as it can be,” Dean replied. 

“And what do you do?” Bobby asked Cas. 

“I work at the bakery across the street from Dean’s bar,” Cas replied. 

“Ah, so is that how you met?” 

Dean grinned and found Cas’ blue eyes. “Yup, I walked into that bakery and I was never the same again.” 

Bobby chuckled. “Alright, you two are killing me with all the lovey-dovey crap, let’s go look at some cars, shall we?” 

Dean stood up and took Cas’ hand in his. “Let’s.” 

Bobby wheeled himself back outside and Dean and Cas walked alongside him as Bobby led them through rows of old cars. “If you see anything you like, let me know.” 

Dean watched Cas’ eyes scan over the metal of the cars in Bobby’s lot, his expression constructed in concentration. Dean saw a few cars that he himself might have been tempted to buy, but he reminded himself that he was content -more than content- with his Cadillac. Cas paused by a slightly faded, yet shiny and almost new- looking, brown Chevy and traced his hand over the frame. 

“Do you like that one?” Dean asked as he came up behind Cas and wrapped his hands around his middle, resting his chin on Cas’ shoulder. 

“Maybe,” Cas replied. 

The wheels under Bobby’s wheelchair crunched against the dirt underneath them as he came to a halt in front of the car. “Ah, a ‘54 Chevy Bel Air,” Bobby said with a sigh. 

“Is it a good car?” Cas asked. 

“It’ll get you around,” Bobby replied. 

Dean scoffed. “Oh come off it Bobby, I know a little about cars myself, and this one is pretty damn good.” 

“Yeah, yeah. If you want her, take her, I can give her up for $850, and that’s a lot better deal than I’d give anyone else,” Bobby said. 

Dean frowned in approval and nudged Cas’ shoulder. “I’d take him up on that if I were you.” 

Cas was staring at Bobby with an open mouth. “Really?” 

Bobby nodded. “Yeah, really.”

Cas exchanged a glance with Dean and Dean nodded in encouragement. “Okay, okay, I guess I’ll take her then.” 

 “Perfect, why don’t you two hop in and go for a test drive before you make any final decisions,” Bobby said. “I’ll go get the keys.” 

Bobby pushed himself back towards the house and Cas turned to face Dean. “Only $850” he said in a whisper. “I was ready to go up to 1,000.” 

Dean chuckled. “What’d I tell you, Bobby gives good deals.”

“That’s an understatement,” Cas laughed. 

“Bobby’s amazing, what can I say?” 

When Bobby returned with the keys he tossed them to Cas who caught them deftly. “Go and take your drive, I’m cooking up some lunch for when you get back.” 

“You don’t have to do that,” Dean said. 

“I want to,” Bobby replied. “I haven’t seen you in years, Dean, and I ain’t missin’ out on gettin’ to have a conversation with you for more than five minutes.” 

Dean felt something warm flicker in his chest and he smiled. “Alright Bobby, no need to get uptight.” 

Bobby grunted and spun his chair around and looked over his shoulder. “And that’s Captain Singer to you.” 

“Oh come on, you know we’re past that, I let you have it once today, but that’s all I’m giving you,” Dean replied. 

“War or not boy, I’m still a Captain,” Bobby shot back as he began to wheel himself away. 

Dean shook his head as he turned away from the retreating figure of Bobby Singer and put an arm around Cas’ waist. “Alright, let’s take her for a test drive.” Cas climbed into the driver’s seat and Dean climbed into the passengers; it felt a little odd to be sitting shotgun while Cas took the wheel.

 Cas started the car and carefully pulled out of Bobby’s auto shop, guiding them out onto the open road. “So, how’s she feelin’?” Dean asked.

“Good,” Cas replied. 

Dean narrowed his eyes. “You sure?”

Cas spared Dean a glance before turning back to the road. “Yeah, it’s just, it’s been awhile since I’ve been behind the wheel of a car.” 

“Well it’s just like riding a bike,” Dean replied. The corners of his mouth twitched up in a smile, “which you have plenty of experience riding.” 

Cas laughed, a smile filling his lips. “You’re not wrong.” 

“I rarely am,” Dean grinned. 

 

When they got back to Bobby’s, Cas parked the bel air beside Dean’s Cadillac and they headed inside. Bobby was waiting for them in the kitchen and Dean drew in a deep breath. “Well, something smells good,” he said. 

“That’d be lunch,” Bobby replied. “Now hurry up and get some before it gets cold.” 

Dean chuckled and picked up a plate. Lunch was hot dogs and beans and as he and Cas sat down at the table Bobby asked, “So, are you sold on the bel air?” 

Cas nodded over his mouthful of food. “Yes, I think it will do just fine for my purposes.”

“Wonderful,” Bobby replied. “After lunch I’ll get the paperwork.” 

“Great, thanks.”

“So, can I set you two up for the night, or do you want to head back home?” Bobby asked. 

“I couldn’t possibly ask you to do that,” Dean said. 

“It would be no trouble,” Bobby replied with a shrug. 

Dean exchanged a glance with Cas who silently told him it was his choice. “Well, I suppose, if you’re offering, it would save us from a motel.” 

“It would be good to have you here,” Bobby said. 

“Alright then, I guess we’ll stay,” Dean replied. 

“Good.” 

After lunch, Cas filled out the paperwork for his new car and then Bobby pointed them upstairs to their room. Once they’d deposited their bags they went back downstairs to help Bobby clean up from lunch. 

 

At around eight o’clock, Bobby offered them drinks and Dean built up a fire that they all gathered around. “So, you were in the war too, huh?” Bobby asked Cas. 

“Yes, sir, two years. 91st infantry division, 4 platoon under Captain Raphael Shurley.” 

Bobby scoffed at the name. “Ah yes, Captain Shurley, I remember him.” 

“I take it you two didn’t get along,” Cas said. 

“That’s putting it lightly,” Bobby scowled. 

“I will admit that he was definitely a hard man to follow sometimes,” Cas said. 

“No need to beat around the bush, the man was an ass,” Bobby scoffed. 

Cas smirked and let out a puff of air. “Yeah, alright, the man was an ass.” 

“I’ll bet you were a good private though,” Bobby said. 

Cas ducked his head and looked at the drink in his hand. “I’d hope so, sir.” 

“Unlike Dean over here.” 

“Hey!” Dean protested. “I did everything you asked, maybe even more.” 

“You slept late and neglected your duties almost daily,” Bobby retorted. 

Dean shrugged. “I didn’t get anyone killed though, did I? I did my job.” 

“Yeah, yeah,” Bobby said with a wave of his hand. “And for some dumb reason I liked you.” 

“I don’t know why,” Dean replied through a grin. 

“It was probably your charm,” Cas said. 

“Probably,” Bobby agreed as Dean blushed. 

“Oh shut up you two,” Dean chuckled. 

 

By the time Cas and Dean climbed into bed, it was just after eleven and the prospect of a long drive lay ahead of them for the morning. “Thank you for this,” Cas whispered as he snuggled up to Dean’s shoulder. 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied as he planted a kiss on top of Cas’ head. “Now get some rest.” 

“Goodnight, Dean.” 

“Goodnight, Cas.” 

 

***Two Weeks Later***

“Alright Sammy, I’ll see you in an hour,” Dean said into the telephone receiver. 

“Okay, jerk,” Sam replied. 

“Bitch.” 

Once he hung up, he turned back to the turkey that was currently sitting on his kitchen counter, uncooked, but seasoned. He spread a little bit of salt onto the meat and then placed it in the oven and began to work on the potatoes. As he set them to simmer on the stove there was a knock on the door and he went to answer it. 

When he pulled open the door, there stood Cas, dressed in nice shoes, black pants, and a blue button down with a lazy black tie. His hair was neatly combed and his eyes seemed to sparkle. “Cas,” Dean said, a breathy gasp escaping his lips. 

Cas grinned. “Hello, Dean.” 

“Uh,” Dean cleared his throat, and his tongue darted out to wet his lips, “come on in.” 

Cas stepped past Dean and entered his apartment. Dean quickly shut the door and then pulled Cas close and laid a kiss on his lips. Cas smiled into it and then pulled away. “So, chef Dean, is there anything I can do to help?” 

“You can just stand there, and look handsome,” Dean replied. 

Cas rolled his eyes and kissed Dean again. “Seriously, Dean.” 

Dean sighed. “Alright, I guess you could make the pie.” 

Cas grinned. “I’d love to make the pie.” 

“Great, I have all the ingredients laid out, all you’ve got to do is put them together,” Dean replied. Dean took Cas’ hand and led him to the kitchen where he checked on the potatoes and watched Cas start to make the pie.

“So,” Cas said as he began to mix together the ingredients. “Are we going to tell them tonight?” 

Dean nodded. “That’s the plan.” 

“And you said Sam’s okay with this stuff,” Cas said cautiously. 

“Sam wants me to be happy, he doesn’t care who I find it with,” Dean replied. “Your brother is cool with this too, right?” 

“As a cucumber,” Cas replied.

“Okay,” Dean smiled and kissed Cas before returning to preparing dinner.

An hour later, there was a knock on the door and Dean opened it to find Sam and Jess. “Heya Sammy,” Dean grinned as he pulled his brother into a hug. 

Sam patted his back with a grunt. “Hi Dean.” 

Dean released Sam and the turned to Jess. “Jessica,” he said as he hugged her. 

“Good to see you again, Dean,” Jess replied with a smile. 

“Sammy’s been treating you well, right?” Dean asked with a sharp, yet humorous, look at Sam.  

“Sam’s been treating me just fine,” Jess replied. 

Sam rolled his eyes and Dean grinned and clapped his little brother on the back. “Alright then, well why don’t you two come in.” Sam and Jess entered the apartment and Dean stepped over to Cas. “This is Cas,” Dean said. He smiled at Cas and said, “This is my brother Sam and his fiance, Jess.” 

Cas smiled and shook each of their hands. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” 

“You too,” Sam replied while Jess offered Cas a warm smile. 

“Cas’ brother is going to be joining us for dinner as well,” Dean said. 

“I recall, you told me on the phone a few weeks ago,” Sam replied.

“Gabriel will be arriving soon,” Cas said, “he’s always a bit late.” 

“Well, while we wait for the food can I offer you two something to drink?” Dean asked. 

“Sure,” Sam replied as he and Jess sat down on the couch. 

“We’ve got wine, beer, or whiskey,” Dean said. 

“I’ll take a beer,” Sam replied. 

“Whiskey for me, thanks,” Jess said. 

“Coming right up.” 

As Dean was handing Sam his beer a knock sounded from the door and he deposited the beer in Sam’s hand and then went to answer the door. A short, brown-blond haired man with honey colored eyes stood in the hallway, a grin on his face. 

“You must be Gabriel,” Dean said, holding out his hand. 

Gabriel took it and Dean felt the harshness of his grip. “And you , must be Dean.” 

Dean quirked a smile at the man as he pulled his hand away. “Yup.” He stepped back and held the door wide open. “Come on in, we’re having some drinks and then dinner will be served.” 

“Sounds great, I’m starving,” Gabriel replied as he moved towards Cas. “Hey baby bro,” he said as he pulled Cas into a hug. 

“Hi Gabe,” Cas grinned. 

“How’ve you been?” Gabriel asked. “Not sick anymore, right?” 

“I’m good, and better now, thanks,” Cas replied. 

“Good,” Gabriel said. He spun around and faced the couch, his eyes landing on Sam and Jess. “And who are you two?” 

Sam stood up and extended his hand. “I’m Sam, Dean’s brother.” 

“I see, nice to meet you Sam,” Gabriel said as he shook Sam’s hand. “And you are?” he asked, offering his hand to Jess. 

“Jessica, Sam’s fiance,” Jess replied. 

“Well congrats to you two,” Gabriel said as he released Jess’ hand. 

“Thanks,” Sam said. 

“Gabe, what do you want for a drink?” Cas asked, drawing his brother’s attention away from Sam and Jess. 

“I’ll have a beer if you’ve got one,” Gabriel replied. 

“Sure thing,” Dean said. He brushed past Cas to get to the fridge and then handed Gabriel a beer. 

“Thanks Dean-O,” Gabriel replied. 

Dean narrowed his eyes at the nickname Gabriel had decided to use but didn’t call him out on it. “Alright, I’ve just got to check the turkey and then we’ll eat,” Dean said. 

“Sounds great,” Sam said. 

When he pulled open the oven, he declared the turkey done and placed it on the table while Cas put down the potatoes and stuffing. Sam, Jess, and Gabriel came to join them at the table and Dean began to carve the turkey. 

“How much do you want Jess?” Dean asked. 

“Two slices will do just fine,” Jess replied. 

Dean handed Jess a plate and smiled at her. “Two slices for the soon-to-be sister in-law. How ‘bout you Gabriel?” Dean asked. 

“I’ll take as many as you’re willing to give me, Dean-O,” Gabriel replied. 

“Well let’s start you off with two then,” Dean said as he placed the respective slices onto a plate and handed it over. 

“Sam?” 

“I’ll keep the pattern going with two,” Sam replied. 

Dean glanced over at Cas. “Do you want two as well?” 

Cas nodded. “Yeah sure.” 

“Well then, everybody’s getting two slices and then you can cut your own if you want more,” Dean replied. 

Once everyone had their plates they began to load them up with the sides, potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and gravy and cranberry sauce as toppings. They dug into their meals and Cas let out a content moan. “Dean, this is delicious.”

Dean’s cheeks warmed at the praise. “Well, I try my best.” 

“Dean’s the cook in the family,” Sam said to Gabriel, who was sitting on his left. 

“I can tell,” Gabriel replied as he scooped up a forkful of mashed potatoes. 

“Sam and Jess almost burned the kitchen down the last time they tried to cook,” Dean said. 

“We did not!” Sam protested. 

“Oh really? The smoke detector and the burnt chicken in your oven begged to differ,” Dean retorted with a chuckle. 

“It wasn’t that bad,” Sam said with a pout as he took a bite of his turkey. 

“It was pretty bad, Sam,” Jess laughed. 

“I’m not much of a cook either,” Gabriel said. “Cas got that gene as well.” 

Cas held up his pointer finger as he declared, “I don’t cook, I bake , there’s a difference.” 

“Oh you bake alright,” Dean agreed. He turned to Sam and Jess, “bakes the best damn pies I’ve ever had in my life.” 

Sam crooked an eyebrow at Dean and his eyes shifted to Cas. “Oh?” 

Cas blushed over his green beans. “That’s what Dean says, but I think he’s exaggerating.” 

“I am not,” Dean stated indignantly. “You’ll see for yourselves, he made the pie for dessert.” 

“I can’t wait,” Sam said. 

They ate in silence for a little longer until Dean cleared his throat and spared a quick look at Cas before he said, “So, uh, there’s something I wanted to tell you all.” 

“Sure, what is it?” Sam asked as he dabbed at his mouth with a napkin. 

“Well,” Dean stalled and Cas reached out to take his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Cas and I are, together.” 

There was a brief moment of silence and then Sam grinned. “That’s great to hear, Dean. I’m glad you finally found someone.” 

Dean smiled. “Thanks Sammy.” 

“Same goes for you baby bro,” Gabriel said, although Dean didn’t miss the slight glare Gabriel sent his way. “You’ve been single for far too long.” 

“Oh shut up Gabe,” Cas laughed. 

“I’m happy for you, Dean,” Jess said with a smile. 

“Thanks Jess.” Dean replied. 

The rest of the meal went on in contented silence as everyone enjoyed their meals, and when they all declared themselves full, Dean put on some music and Jess dragged Sam over to dance with her, while Dean, Cas, and Gabriel stayed at the table. 

“So,” Gabriel said, over the lull of the music. “You and my brother.” 

“Gabe,” Cas said warningly. 

Dean folded his hands gently in front of himself. “Me and your brother,” he reiterated. 

“I just want to make one thing clear,” Gabriel said. 

Cas sighed. “Here we go,” he muttered. 

“If you hurt him-” 

“They’ll never find my body, yeah, got it,” Dean interrupted. 

Gabriel narrowed his eyes and nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Don’t worry, I don’t plan to do anything that would cause Cas pain,” Dean said.

“Good. And you take care of him too Cas,” Gabriel said with a nod at Cas. 

“I will,” Cas replied. 

Gabriel went off to go dance with Sam and Jess and Dean leaned back in his chair, a smile on his lips. “That went well.” 

“Better than expected,” Cas replied. 

“Yeah,” Dean said as he leaned over to kiss Cas. He took Cas’ hand and stood up and then immediately dropped to one knee. “May I have this dance your highness?”

Cas smiled. “Of course, my handsome prince.” 

Dean led Cas over to where Sam and Jess were swaying together and Gabriel was spinning in a slow circle. He wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist and pulled him close, allowing Cas to rest his head on Dean’s chest. 

 

After about half an hour of swaying, drinking, and talking, Dean called everyone to the table for dessert. “I can’t wait to taste this supposedly amazing pie,” Sam said as he sat down in his seat.

“You’ll love it Sammy,” Dean said as he placed a slice of pie on Jess’ plate.

Once everyone had pie, they dug in and Dean let the flavor of pumpkin pie wash over his taste buds. “You’ve outdone yourself again, Cas,” Dean said with a hum. 

“This is incredible,” Sam mumbled as his eyes slipped shut. 

“Dean was right to make a fuss,” Jess said as she licked her lips. 

“Damn right I was,” Dean replied. 

“I missed your pies, Cas,” Gabriel said as he raised his fork to his mouth. “I don’t know how I lived without them for so long.” 

Cas blushed deeply and Dean grinned at his obvious discomfort. “Just take the praise, you deserve it,” Dean said. 

“Thanks,” Cas smiled. 

 

After dessert, everyone helped clean up and put away the leftovers and then Sam and Jess picked up their coats. “I think we’re going to call it a night,” Sam said. 

“Thank you for having us, everything was delicious,” Jess added.

“My pleasure,” Dean replied as he pulled Jess into a hug and kissed her cheek. “And Happy Thanksgiving.” 

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Jess said. 

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Sam echoed. “It was nice to meet you Cas, and you Gabriel.” 

“Likewise,” Cas and Gabriel said in unison. 

“You two drive safe,” Dean said. 

“We will,” Sam replied. 

Dean hugged Sam tightly and then released him with a sniff. “Bitch.” 

“Jerk,” Sam laughed. 

Sam and Jess headed for the door and Gabriel began to put on his coat. “I should probably head home too.” 

“Well, thank you for coming,” Dean said. 

“Thanks for cooking Dean-O,” Gabriel replied. 

They exchanged a handshake and then Gabriel hugged Cas and wished them a goodnight before disappearing out the door. Cas leaned into Dean’s arms and Dean pulled him close. 

“I’m exhausted,” Cas said softly.

“Me too,” Dean agreed. 

 “Can I stay here tonight?” Cas asked.

“Of course you can,” Dean grinned. “Come on, let’s go get ready for bed, we both have to work tomorrow.” 

Chapter Text

“Castiel, we need some more muffins out here!” Hannah’s voice reached Cas’ ears as he was pouring pumpkin pie mixture into a pan. 

“I’ll get right on it!” Cas called back. 

“I can start working on the muffins,” Anael said. 

“That’s okay, I can do it,” Cas replied. 

Anael shook her head with a smile, “It’s no trouble, I just finished my cookies.”

“If you’re sure-”

“Just work on the pies, Cas,” Anael said. 

“Okay,” Cas replied. He moved over to the oven and placed the pie inside before turning back to make another one. 

“So, how was your Thanksgiving?” 

Cas shrugged. “It was good.” 

“Do anything special?” Anael asked as she poured some blueberries into a mixing bowl.

“Not really,” Cas replied, even though he smiled at the memory of dinner with Dean and his family. “Just a small family gathering, nothing super elaborate.” 

“Sometimes small is better,” Anael said as she began to mix the muffin batter together. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah. What about you? What did you do for Thanksgiving?” 

Anael kept her gaze focused on the spoon in her hand. “Nothing really. I saw my sister, Rachel, for the first time since I moved here.” 

“Oh?” Cas raised an eyebrow. “By your tone, I take it it wasn’t a nice reunion.” 

Anael scoffed. “That’s an understatement.” 

“I’m sorry.” 

Anael sniffed and shrugged. “Not your fault.” 

“Still, it’s not fun being on the outs with family,” Cas said. “My brother Gabriel and I have had a few fights in our time, not speaking for months kind of fights, and it sucked. But we always ended up figuring everything out. I’m sure things will be okay with your sister.” 

“Ha,” Anael scoffed. “If you knew Rachel you wouldn’t be saying that.” 

“Oh come on, she can’t be all that bad,” Cas said. 

“Think again. She’s a bitch.” 

“Is that so?” Cas questioned as he began to knead a slab of dough. 

“She stole my boyfriend from right under my nose,” Anael snapped. “They eloped together a month later.” 

Cas’ mouth dropped open of its own accord. “You’re kidding.”

Anael scowled. “I wish I was.” 

“Damn. I’m sorry, that’s awful.” 

“Yeah, and the kicker is, the little bitch doesn’t think she did anything wrong, because they’re ‘in love’ .” 

“Well,” Cas said cautiously as he began to roll out the dough, “maybe they are.” 

Anael glared at him. “She doesn’t know the first thing about love.” 

“How long have they been together?” 

“Two years, almost,” Anael replied bitterly. 

“Well, if they’re still together after all this time, they sound in love to me,” Cas said softly. 

Anael sighed, deflated. “Maybe.” She sniffed as she began to pour the muffin batter into cupcake trays. “I just… I want to be happy for her, I do, but how can I after what she did?” 

“You saw her for Thanksgiving, I’d say that’s a step in the right direction for reconciliation,” Cas said. 

“I’m not sure I’m ready to reconcile with her, not yet. She invited me as a formality, because she’s… she’s pregnant.” 

Cas put his rolling pin down and turned his full attention to Anael. “You can’t keep holding this anger in, you need to let it go and move on.” 

Anael sighed. “I can’t.” 

“Why not?” 

“I can’t trust her again, I can’t let someone like that back into my life.” 

“Well, I can’t offer you any more advice. The rest is up to you. If you can’t forgive your sister, then think about the child she’s carrying. Decide if you want to be a part of that child’s life, and if you do, then you need to talk to her.” 

“You know Castiel, you’re pretty wise,” Anael said, a thoughtful expression falling across her face. 

Cas shrugged as he picked up the rolling pin again. “I try.” 

They continued to make their respective baked goods and when lunch time came around, Cas decided that he would sit outside, as it was a surprisingly warm day for the end of November. “Would you like some company, Castiel?” Hannah asked as Cas headed for the door. 

Cas turned back to look at her and offered her a smile. “Sure.” 

Hannah picked up her own lunch bag and then she and Cas exited the bakery and took their seats on the bench outside. “It’s a wonderful day, isn’t it?” 

“It is,” Cas agreed. 

“Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?” 

“I did. Did you?” 

“Oh it was lovely. I saw my twin sister, Caroline, and her husband Joe.” 

“You have a twin sister?” Cas asked over a bite of his apple. 

“Yes.” Hannah bit into her sandwich and said, “My mother is always telling me I need to settle down like Caroline did, find a husband, make a life.” Hannah sighed and glanced over at Cas, her gaze softening. “But, it’s hard to find the right man. Someone that’s kind, funny, and charismatic.” 

Cas swallowed his latest bite of apple and offered Hannah a half smile. His mind instantly went to Dean and how lucky he was to have found someone that was all three of those things and more. “I wouldn’t know,” he said after a moment. 

Hannah’s eyes hardened slightly. “Oh? Do you have someone, Castiel?” 

Cas nodded thoughtfully as he unwrapped a turkey sandwich Dean had made him. “Yes.” 

“I see.” Hannah’s voice was stiff and Cas found himself narrowing his eyes in confusion. 

“Have I said something wrong?” he asked. 

Hannah shook her head. “No, I just… I need to go see if Garth has everything under control inside.” 

“But you’ve hardly finished your lunch,” Cas protested. 

“I’m not hungry anymore,” Hannah replied darkly. She stood up and disappeared back into the bakery, leaving Cas to stare after her in confusion. 

Movement across the street made Cas turn to look at the entrance of The Winchester Tavern where a brunette woman accompanied by a teenage boy were entering the bar. Cas watched them disappear inside and then went back to his sandwich, chewing it slowly as he let the flavors of turkey, lettuce, and tomato wash over his taste buds. Dean had insisted on sending Cas to work with a leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich and Cas couldn’t find it in his heart to argue with Dean. 

Cas’ eyes were again drawn to the door of The Winchester Tavern as Dean himself came outside. Cas set his lunch down and stood up as Dean came towards him. 

“Dean,” Cas said once he reached him. 

Dean gave Cas a weary smile. “Hi.” 

“Is everything okay?” Cas asked. 

“Oh yeah, everything’s fine,” Dean replied. Cas narrowed his eyes in disbelief but decided that if Dean didn’t want to share what was on his mind then that was his choice. Dean took one of Cas’ hands in his and led him back to the bench Cas had just vacated. “Cas,”

“Yeah Dean?” 

“I, uh, I wanted to ask you if you’d maybe like to go out tonight for dinner,” Dean said carefully. 

Cas smiled. “Dean, are you asking me out on a date?” 

Dean rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Maybe.” 

Cas laughed and squeezed Dean’s hand reassuringly. “You’re my boyfriend, Dean, of course I want to go on a date with you.” 

“Really?” Dean asked, his green eyes shining with hope. 

“Yes really,” Cas replied. He drew Dean into a short kiss and then asked, “Were you really worried I’d say no?” 

Dean shrugged. “Hey, just because you’re my boyfriend doesn’t mean you can’t say no to a date.” 

Cas rolled his eyes and leaned back in for another kiss, which Dean readily gave him. “I have to get back to work, but I will see you tonight for dinner.” 

“I’ll pick you up at eight,” Dean called after Cas as he opened the bakery door. 

“Hey amigo,” Garth said as Cas began to make his way back towards the kitchen, weaving his way around a line of customers. 

“Hi Garth,” Cas replied. 

“Did you have a good lunch?” Garth asked as he handed a woman a box of muffins. 

“It was good, thanks.” 

“Ya know, Hannah came back in here a few minutes ago, she didn’t seem happy. She said she was going to take a walk. Any idea what’s up with her?” Garth asked as Cas was about to enter the kitchen. 

“She got up and left while we were eating, I don’t know why,” Cas said, his confusion causing his eyebrows to knit together. 

“Did she say something?” Garth asked. “Did you say something?” 

Cas shook his head. “Not that I know of.” 

“Walk me through what happened,” Garth said as he opened the cash register for a woman’s change. 

“I don’t know what happened,” Cas replied. “She started talking about her sister and how she’s settled down with a husband and she asked me if I was with someone and I said yes and then she left.” 

Garth smacked himself on the forehead with the palm of his hand. “Amigo, do you really not see what got her upset?” Cas shook his head, eyes searching Garth’s intense gaze. “She likes you!” 

“She… she… she what?” Cas stammered. 

“She’s practically fawning over you,” Garth chuckled. 

Cas shook his head. “That can’t be right.” 

“It is,” Garth said. “Since day one I think she’s had a thing for you. But you’re a taken man, so I guess she’ll just have to deal.”

Cas couldn’t quite wrap his head around what Garth was telling him. Hannah liked him, like that

“Right, well uh,” Cas cleared his throat and moved towards the kitchen door. “I need to get back to work.” 

“Yeah, sorry,” Garth said as Cas finally entered the kitchen. 

Anael looked up from cutting up some apples for a pie. “Are you okay?” 

Cas swallowed hard and met Anael’s gaze. “I don’t know.” 

Anael stopped cutting her apples and moved over to take Cas by the arm. “What’s wrong?” 

“Did… did you know Hannah was into me?” Cas asked shakily. 

“Well, yeah,” Anael replied as her hand slipped from Cas’ arm. “Anyone could see that. Well, anyone but you, apparently.” 

Cas sighed and leaned against the counter. “Apparently. But... I’m not into… her .” 

Anael shrugged and returned to her apple’s. “So tell her.” 

“I kind of already did, indirectly,” Cas replied with another heavy sigh. 

“Oh.” Anael moved over to a slab of dough that was waiting to be rolled and began to knead it. “She’ll just have to take it then.” 

“I didn’t mean to hurt her. I had no idea,” Cas said, crestfallen. 

“Don’t beat yourself up over it. You don’t like her like that, so what? Doesn’t mean you can’t be friends.” 

“I guess, but will she even still want to be friends?” Cas asked. 

“You won’t know until you talk to her,” Anael replied. 

“What if she doesn’t want to talk to me ?” 

Anael rolled her eyes. “That’s her problem then.” 

“I guess,” Cas said, although he wasn’t quite sure he believed that. 

Cas decided to start making some cookies and as he was perusing through the cabinets for flour Anael asked, “So, who’s the lucky girl then?” 

Cas almost dropped the bag of flour he had just pulled from the shelf. “Uh,” he faltered as he regained his footing. Could he really trust Anael with this? Would she hate him like everyone else usually does when he tells them? Cas straightened and placed the flour on the table and he let his eyes drift to the floor. “It’s uh,” he cleared his throat and licked his lips, “it’s a guy, actually.” Cas let his eyes flick carefully up to Anael’s face, gauging her reacting, preparing for the disgust to cross her face. 

“Oh?” Was all Anael said, her expression was completely unreadable but Cas thought he saw a small smile tickle the corner of her mouth. “Anyone I know?” she asked as she turned back to her dough. 

“Uh,” Cas sniffed and began to open the new bag of flour. “Yeah, actually.” 

Anael’s gaze snapped to Cas and she raised an eyebrow. “Oh really? Who?” 

Cas made himself busy by pouring a cup of flour into a bowl. “If I tell you, you have to promise not to go blabbing to anyone. Being in a relationship like this, it’s not exactly easy. And I don’t want to bring anything upon my, uh, my boyfriend, if word gets out.” 

“Hey, I get it,” Anael replied. “I promise we’ll just keep this between us.” 

Cas could hear the honesty in her voice and so he nodded slowly and said, “My boyfriend kind of owns the bar across the street.” 

Anael nearly dropped her rolling pin as she stared at Cas in shock. “Dean Winchester!? You’re dating Dean fucking Winchester !? I can’t believe it, I actually can’t believe it. Oh my God. Dean Winchester is a homosexual !?” 

Cas groaned. “Shh, if you keep shouting like that the whole bakery will hear you!” 

“Sorry, sorry,” Anael said, lowering her voice. She continued in a whisper. “ Dean Winchester? Dean Winchester, seriously?” 

Cas felt a grin spread across his face. “Yeah, Dean Winchester.” 

“You’re so lucky, you have no idea. Every time I go into his bar I try to pick him up, but now I understand why he never took me up on my offers for a drink; he’s a homosexual.” 

“Please,” Cas said, holding up his hand, “Dean’s not a homosexual, he’s bisexual, he likes guys and girls.”

Anael bit her lip and smiled. “So… if he flirted back with me - I mean I’m not saying he did - but... it might have been real?” 

Cas laughed. “Maybe. Look, I’m about as straight as a rainbow, and even I know you’re a pretty girl. I wouldn’t blame Dean if he did flirt with you.” 

Anael giggled but then quickly pulled herself together. “You know, you should tell Hannah, it might make her feel better if she knows she actually never had a shot at being with you.” 

Cas shook his head. “Not everyone is as accepting as you. I don't know if I want to risk telling Hannah and having her hate me.”

Anael huffed. “She won’t hate you, she’s a smart girl.” 

“I don’t know…” 

“Oh come on, just do it.” 

Cas sighed. “Alright, fine. I will.” 

“Good. I can hold down the fort if you want to go find her,” Anael said. 

Cas nodded. “I guess I should.” 

Cas left his bowl of muffin batter and headed back out to the main room of the bakery. Garth was still behind the counter, but the line that Cas had walked in on was gone; however, two customers were sitting at a table sharing a piece of pie. 

“Hey there Cas,” Garth said. “Back so soon?”

“Hey Garth, has Hannah come back from her walk?” 

“Yeah, I saw her walk up, I think she’s out on the bench,” Garth replied. 

Cas nodded. “Thanks.” 

Sure enough, when Cas went outside he found Hannah sitting where they’d had lunch. He sat next to her and Hannah glanced warily at him before turning her eyes back down to the ground. 

“Hannah,” Cas began. 

“What?” Hannah snapped. 

Cas steeled himself with a sigh. “I’m sorry.” Hannah sniffed but didn’t say anything so Cas continued, “Look, I didn’t know how you felt, until just now, and I’m sorry about that, but I wanted you to know that it has nothing to do with you. I think you’re great-”

“You do?” Hannah asked, finally bringing her eyes up to meet Cas’. 

Cas smiled. “Yes, I do.” He put a hand over one of hers. “The thing is, Hannah, I want you to understand that it’s not that I don’t like you, you’re just not exactly… my type .”

Hannah canted her head to the side in confusion. “What’s that supposed to mean?” 

Cas groaned inwardly, why was this so hard ? “I told you I was with someone-” 

“Yes, you mentioned it,” Hannah cut in bitterly. 

Cas felt his jaw clench involuntarily. “Well, he is pretty special, and-” 

He ?” Hannah gasped. 

And there it was, the disgust, the suspiciously narrowed eyes, the anger. Cas felt his stomach clench as he prepared for what was coming. “Yes, he ,” Cas repeated. 

“You’re a… a…” Hannah spluttered in shock. “A… homosexual ?” 

Cas sighed. “Yes.” 

Hannah stared at Cas as if X-raying him to find out what was wrong. “How?” 

Cas let out a short laugh. “What do you mean, how ?” 

“How can a guy like you … be… be gay?” 

Cas shrugged. “I don’t know, it’s just the way I am.” Truthfully, sometimes he wished he wasn’t, it would make his life so much easier.

Hannah ripped her hand from Cas’ and stood up. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I ever liked you, I can’t believe I’ve been working with someone like you , this whole time without knowing it.” Without another word, Hannah stormed away and Cas was left sitting on the bench, forcing the hurt inside of him back down. 

About a minute later, Cas was still sitting on the bench, trying to push away the memory of hatred in Hannah’s eyes, when she came back out, coat and purse in hand. “Good day Castiel,” she spat at him. “I’ve just quit; and I hope I never see you again.” 

Cas stared after her, speechless. He let the tears, that were pushing against the banks of his eyelids, fall. He buried his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with each breath. Cas felt like he couldn’t breathe, like everything was collapsing around him while he stood still, unable to stop the walls from falling. 

This is why you shouldn’t trust people, Castiel. This is why you stopped letting people into your life. You’re broken and twisted, and no one will ever be able to fix you or straighten you out. Why did you have to be born this way? Why couldn’t you be normal? Cas berated himself as more tears fell from his cheeks. 

Running footsteps filled Cas’ ears but they sounded far away, as if in a dream. Hands slid across his back and wrapped around his shoulders, pulling him close. “Cas, Cas, what’s wrong?” 

Cas let his hands fall from his face with a sniff as he realized who was holding him. “Dean?” 

Dean smiled softly at him, green eyes surrounded by crinkles. Dean’s thumb wiped a tear from Cas’ cheek and Cas reached up to hold Dean’s hand against his face. “What happened?” Dean asked in a whisper. “I saw Hannah yell at you through the window.”

Cas shook his head, another tear dripping from his eye. “She quit, because…” 

“Because of what Cas?” Dean asked gently, giving his shoulders a squeeze. 

“Because of me,” Cas cried. “Because I d-didn’t return her f-feelings. A-and I t-told her, w-why...” Cas hiccuped and wiped a hand under his nose. 

“That you’re not, strictly speaking, into women?” Dean finished carefully.

Cas nodded. “She h-hates me n-now.” 

Dean kissed the top of Cas’ head and pulled him even closer. “She doesn’t know what she’s missing. It’s her loss.” 

“Why do I have to be like this Dean?” Cas asked through another hiccup. “Why couldn’t I be normal?” 

“Hey, don’t talk like that,” Dean said. “You’re perfect, just the way you are.” 

Cas sniffed as tears continued to overlap tears. “It’s easy for you, you could still marry a nice girl, have a family. You don’t have to stay with me, I break everything I touch.” 

Dean’s hands vanished from his back and instead he felt gentle fingers lift up his chin, causing him to stare into a forest of green. “I don’t want anyone but you, Cas.”

“Are you sure?” Cas asked cautiously.

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

 Dean’s lips met Cas’ before he could say another word and Cas let himself forget about Hannah as Dean drew the kiss deeper. When they pulled apart Dean brought Cas into a hug and Cas rested his chin over Dean’s shoulder’s, allowing for the sturdy build of Dean’s chest to ground him. When Dean pulled away, he smiled at Cas and Cas couldn’t help but return it, however feeble it might have looked. 

“Now, I need to get back to work, before my hot date tonight, which we’re still on for, right?”

Cas nodded and wiped away any remaining tears he had. “Yes, Dean.” 

“Good, I’ll see you at eight.” Dean tossed Cas a wink over his shoulder as he crossed the street back to his bar, leaving Cas to wonder, again, how he’d gotten so lucky. 

****

True to his word, at eight o’clock, there was a knock on Cas’ door. Cas had dressed in black pants, a white button down shirt - freshly ironed-, his favorite blue tie, and a blue jacket. When Cas opened the door it revealed that Dean was dressed much the same as Cas, save for a black tie instead of blue and he was wearing his leather jacket. 

“Ready to go?” Dean asked with a grin as he held out his hand for Cas to take. 

“Ready,” Cas replied as he took Dean’s hand. 

Dean brought Cas out to his car and walked him to the passenger side door. “After you,” he said as he opened the door for Cas. 

Cas smiled and stepped into the car. “Thank you.” 

Dean shut the door and Cas watched him walk to his own side of the car and as Dean sat down Cas asked, “So, where are we going?” 

Dean turned the key in the ignition and grinned. “Well, we’re going to dinner, and the rest is a surprise.” 

 

When they reached the restaurant, Dean took the lead and they entered the building. Cas had to work hard not to let his mouth drop. Glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling, ornate rugs decorated the floors, the smell of wine and champagne filled the air with a pleasant aroma.

“Good evening,” a young man said as he stepped up to them, he was dressed in a sharp tuxedo and his blond hair was slicked back. “Table for two?” 

“We actually have a reservation,” Dean said. 

“Oh of course, can I get a name?”

“Winchester, party of two,” Dean replied.

“A yes, we have you right here,” the man said. “Right this way.”

Cas and Dean followed the waiter to a table where they were handed menus and told the specials. “What’re you thinking of getting?” Dean asked. 

“I’m not sure yet, there’s so many good options,” Cas replied as his eyes roamed over the words on the menu. 

“I’m going for the steak,” Dean said as he set his menu down. 

“Mmm, the steak does look really good. But I think I’m going to go for the smoked salmon.” 

“Ooo, good choice,” Dean said. 

When the waiter returned, they placed their orders and Dean asked for a bottle of wine which was readily provided to them. Cas took a sip of the smooth red liquid and then set his glass back down carefully upon the table. They made idle chat, which was mostly filled with them just staring into each other’s eyes. By the time their food arrived Cas was starving and he dug into his fish hungrily. The salmon was delicious to say the least; to say the most, it was probably the best fish he’d ever tasted in his life. 

“How’s your steak?” Cas asked. 

“Amazing,” Dean replied. “Want a bite?” Dean waved a piece of steak on his fork at Cas and Cas laughed. 

“Yeah okay.” 

Dean held the fork in the middle of the table and Cas leaned forward and let Dean guide the fork into his mouth. “Good huh?” Dean said as Cas sat back and chewed the steak thoughtfully. 

“It is,” Cas agreed. “Want to try some salmon?” 

“If you’re offering,” Dean replied. Cas repeated the action that Dean had just done to him and when Dean sat back this time, he let out a breath. “Wow, that’s awesome.” 

“Isn’t it?” Cas said as he took another bite of the fish. 

“You made a great choice with that,” Dean said. 

“Yeah, I think so too.” 

They made it through their dinner and moved onto dessert where they ordered a slice of blueberry pie to share with a side of ice cream. When it came time for the bill Dean took care of it without so much as allowing Cas to put in a word otherwise. 

Now, as Dean directed them out of the restaurant parking lot Cas let out a content sigh. “Thank you for this, Dean.” 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied with a soft smile. 

“So, where are we going now?” Cas asked, his curiosity starting to get the better of him. 

“It’s nowhere special, but I thought I’d show you where my mother used to take me after we had dinner when I was a kid.” 

Dean pulled the car up on the side of the street and then came around to get Cas’ door, taking his hand to help him out of the car. Dean kept their hands joined as he led Cas onto the sidewalk and through a set of gates into a park. 

Even though it was nearly December now, the grass that lined each side of the walkway was green and there were lights hanging from the trees. Dean brought them to a stop at a bench and Cas smiled as he let the peacefulness of the park wash over him. 

“This is beautiful, Dean,” Cas sighed. 

“Yeah, it is,” Dean agreed. 

“Tonight was amazing,” Cas said as he leaned into Dean, who respectively put an arm around Cas’ shoulder, drawing him closer. 

“I’m glad you liked it,” Dean said into Cas’ hair. 

“An evening with you, what’s not to like?” Cas laughed. “So,” he said after a moment, “you said your mother would bring you here.” 

Dean nodded. “That’s right. When Sam was born she was always busy, taking care of him, and whenever she got a minute to herself, she’d take me to dinner and then we’d come for a walk in the park.” 

“That must have been nice,” Cas said. 

“It was. Come on, I want to show you the statue.” 

“What statue?” 

Dean pulled Cas to his feet and set them off at a brisk pace. “You’ll see.”

Cas allowed Dean to drag him at a speed that could have almost been a run, until they came to a halt in front of a large marble statue of a woman. “Is this…” 

Dean nodded. “My mom, yeah.” Dean pointed to the plaque that was standing erect in front of the statue. “Mary Winchester, loving wife and mother, 1901-1930.”  he read outloud. “Everyone loved her, so the town put this statue up to commemorate her, I guess. I never really understood it, but I’m grateful just the same.”

“It’s beautiful, Dean. She’s beautiful,” Cas said, taking Dean’s hand in his. 

“Yeah, well, I figured since you’re never going to be able to meet her, this would be the next best thing,” Dean said with a sniff. 

Cas felt his eyes begin to grow wet and he tugged gently on Dean’s arm, causing him to turn and face him. “Dean Winchester,” Cas said in a whisper as he let his fingers close around the tie Dean had hanging around his neck, “you are just about the sweetest person I’ve ever met.” 

“Is that so?” Dean asked, a smirk tightening his lips.

Cas pulled Dean in by the fabric of his tie until their lips were only centimeters apart. “Yeah, that’s so,” Cas grinned. “And for the record, I think this is pretty special,” he whispered as he closed the gap between them and let their lips do the rest of the work. 

When they broke apart Dean’s hand found Cas’ again. “Come on, let’s go home.” 

 

****

The next day, Cas decided to go to Dean’s bar for lunch, so he bade Garth goodbye and headed across the street and into the tavern. “Cas!” Dean said excitedly as soon as the bell rang above the door. 

“Good afternoon, Dean,” Cas replied as he took a seat at the bar. 

“What can I get you?” Dean asked. 

“I think I’ll have one of Benny’s famous burgers,” Cas answered. 

“Coming right up,” Dean replied as he slipped off to the kitchen to place Cas’ order. 

As Dean was coming back, the bell above the door chimed and Cas turned his head to see the same woman and teenage boy he’d seen yesterday, walk into the bar. When Cas looked back over at Dean he saw that Dean’s shoulder’s had stiffened and his jaw was set as he scowled at the woman.

“Lisa, I told you yesterday-” 

“That I’m not welcome here, I know,” Lisa snapped. 

Cas looked from Lisa to Dean in confusion. Who was this woman?

“So then what are you doing here?” Dean asked, crossing his arms as he glared at her. 

Lisa closed the large gap between them and came to stand beside the stool Cas was currently occupying. “I need to talk to you,” she said. 

“I’ve already told you, I’m not interested,” Dean spat. 

Lisa sighed and glanced over her shoulder to where the teenage boy was standing awkwardly behind her. “Dean, please, I didn’t want to tell you like this-” 

“Tell me what?” Dean groused, irritation flashing across his green eyes. “Stop beating around the bush, Lisa, just spit it out and then get the hell out of my bar.” 

Lisa looked over her shoulder again and gestured for the boy to come forward. Cas swallowed uncomfortably as the boy came to a stop beside Lisa. 

“Dean, this is Ben,” Lisa said. 

Dean’s expression didn’t change, save for his eyes narrowing as he took in the boy. “Nice to meet you,” Dean said bitterly as he regarded Ben. “Now, if that’s all-” 

“That’s not all,” Lisa interrupted. She placed a hand on Ben’s shoulder, “Ben,” she said as she brought her eyes up to meet Dean’s, “this is Dean, he’s your father.”

Chapter Text

Dean felt like he’d just been kicked in the stomach. No. No this can’t be happening, this is not possible, he can’t have a…

 “What?” Dean gaped at Lisa. “How is that… all these years and you didn’t tell me!?” 

“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” Lisa said. “Please, just give me five minutes to explain.” 

Dean glanced over at Cas, who was also staring at Lisa in shock but who nodded slowly at Dean, telling him he should go. He brought his gaze back to Lisa and then let it slip to Ben, who was still standing nervously beside Lisa. It was hard to deny that Ben had some similarities to Dean, from the set of his jaw to the square of his shoulders. 

Dean sighed and nodded. “Okay, fine, five minutes, just let me get someone to cover the bar.” 

One quick word into the kitchen brought Ellen out to work the bar and Lisa turned to Ben, “Ben, why don’t you sit at the counter while Dean and I talk, okay?” 

Ben nodded and Lisa smiled at him and then Dean led Lisa towards a table. When they sat down Dean crossed his arms. “Five minutes.”

 “Look, Dean, I’m going to be honest-” 

“Oh, that’ll be a first,” Dean muttered. 

Lisa fixed Dean with a harsh glare. “Would you just be quiet and let me talk.” 

Dean sighed and leaned back in his chair. “Alright, Lisa. I’m listening.” 

“Right, okay,” Lisa situated herself in her chair and then leaned forward. “I’m sorry I never came and found you before now, I know you deserved to know, and Ben deserved to know his father, but you have to understand, it wasn’t up to me.” 

Dean rolled his eyes. “I don’t want to hear your excuses, Lis.” 

Lisa swallowed hard and withdrew her hands from the table where they’d been resting. “Dean, when my parents found out I was pregnant they told me to cut ties with you. That’s why I broke up with you, because my parents thought that you weren’t going to make it back and they figured that it would just be easier for me, for Ben, if I broke it off with you.” 

“Yeah, you already told me part of that, but you just kind of left out the part about you being pregnant. You should have told me,” Dean scowled. 

“I… I didn’t want to worry you. You were leaving for the war, Dean, the last thing you needed was to know that you had a kid. I figured that if you knew you’d just leave me anyway.” 

“Worry me? Parents or not, you shouldn’t have decided how to handle that, it should have been my choice, Lisa,” Dean spat. “If you’d just told me…” Dean drew a hand down his face and shut his eyes with a sigh. “Lisa if you’d told me you were pregnant I would’ve stayed.” 

Lisa’s eyes widened. “You would have?” 

“Of course I would have, Lis,” Dean replied with a wistful look at Ben, who was now engaged in a small conversation with Cas. “Jesus, I have a kid.” 

Lisa followed Dean’s gaze and when her eyes found Ben, she sighed and turned back to Dean. “There’s something else too.” 

“There always is,” Dean scoffed. 

“Dean, I didn’t mean to come and rip open your life like this and I’m sorry about how I acted when you told me you like both men and women. I was just angry that you didn’t want to get back together with me.” Lisa took a breath and then continued, “I didn’t choose now to tell you about Ben just for fun. I lied about why I’m in town-”

“Oh there’s a shocker,” Dean interrupted. 

Lisa gave him a pointed look and then continued, “I’m not visiting my mother because she’s ill, I’m staying with her... because…. I’m the one that’s sick. I’m dying, cancer. The doctors don’t think I have more than a year left, but they say I could get lucky.” 

Dean was sorry for Lisa, in a way, but he couldn’t stop the bitterness that flooded into his expression. “So, what? You think you can just come find me, drop the bombshell that I have a kid, that you’re dying, and hope I’ll just fall back into your arms? Do you expect me to go live some apple-pie life with a white picket fence and a dog? I hate to break it to you, but that’s not how it works.” 

“I’m not asking you to do that, Dean. At first I thought that I could, we’d get back together, introduce you to Ben, and then after a little while I’d tell you the truth-” 

“That is seriously messed up,” Dean huffed in disgust. 

Lisa hung her head. “I know. How many times do I have to say I’m sorry? I didn’t know what to do, Dean. Do you know how many times Ben’s asked about his father? And how many times I’ve had to tell him that I didn’t know where you were, that you probably wouldn’t want to see him. I tried to get him to stop asking, but he’d keep pushing and pushing… and once the doctors gave us the news and I started talking with my parents about making arrangements for Ben after…” Lisa sniffed, “...after I’m gone… Ben told me that he wanted to find and meet his father.” A tear fell from her eye as she looked back over at Ben. “He’s so brave, he’s taken all the news so well, and I couldn’t refuse him this, I couldn’t keep lying to him. I did know where you were, I made sure to keep tabs on you after the war.” 

“Yeah, because that’s not creepy,” Dean muttered with a grunt. 

Lisa barreled on, ignoring Dean’s comment,  “I wanted to find you after you got back, but my mother made me stay, she made me raise Ben without you. You had a right to know about him and him about you, but I don’t know… I guess after awhile I started to believe my mother, that he’d be better off without you, that you wouldn’t care about him, that you’d only end up hurting him in the end.” Lisa sniffed again and wiped her eyes. “I know it’s a lot, and I’m not asking you to take him in after I’m gone, I know that’s too much, but I thought I could give Ben the benefit of knowing you, while I’m still around to try and make things right.”

It was a lot to take in, and Dean found himself looking at Ben and back at Lisa multiple times before he finally spoke. “I don’t forgive you, Lisa,” he began, “and I will never forgive you, just so we’re clear.” Dean dragged his hand down his face and then pointed a finger at Lisa, “You kept my kid from me, my son , that’s not something you forgive and forget.” 

“I know, I know,” Lisa nodded. 

Dean sighed and glanced at Ben again as he laughed at something Cas said. “I want to get to know him,” 

“Really?” Lisa asked, her eyes brightening with hope. 

Dean sighed again and nodded. “He’s my son, of course I do. Better late than never, I guess.” 

“Great, I’ll go get him then,” Lisa stood up, leaving Dean behind and went to the bar counter. One tap of Ben’s shoulder made him turn and then they were coming back over to the table. 

Dean’s stomach did a somersault and he took a deep breath to calm himself before he stood up and met Lisa and Ben halfway. “Hi,” Dean said cautiously when he stopped in front of Ben. 

“Hi,” Ben replied shyly. 

Dean held out his hand and Ben timidly reached out to take it. When their hands fell apart, Dean cleared his throat. “Do you, uh, do you want to go for a walk?” 

Ben nodded. “Sure.” 

Dean turned to Lisa, uncertain. “If that’s okay, that is.” 

Lisa smiled. “It’s just fine.” 

“Awesome,” Dean said. “Give me a second.” He went to retrieve his coat and then he stopped beside Cas. “I’m going out with Ben for a minute, we’ll talk when I get back.” 

Cas nodded. “Take your time, Dean. I’ll be here.” 

“Thanks, Cas,” Dean replied. He swung his coat on over his shoulders and returned to where Ben and Lisa were standing. “Alright, let’s go.” 

Leaving Lisa in the bar, Dean brought Ben out onto the sidewalk and stuffed his hands inside his pockets as they began to walk. They walked in silence for a minute before Dean broke it. 

“So, I don’t really know where to begin,” he admitted. “It’s not everyday that your ex-girlfriend walks into your bar and tells you you’re a father.” 

Ben let out a short laugh and glanced shyly in Dean’s direction before looking away. “I don’t know where to start either,” Ben said after a second. 

“I just…” Dean sighed. “I want you to know that if I’d known, I would have been there.”

Ben nodded. “I believe you.” 

“Good.” Dean cleared his throat as they rounded a corner. “So, uh, how old are you exactly?” 

“Fourteen,” Ben replied. 

“Right, makes sense,” Dean said with a nod. “When’s your birthday?” 

“It was just this month, November 9th.” 

“Well then, happy belated birthday.” 

Ben laughed. “Thanks.” 

“Mines January 24th, if you’re wondering,” Dean said, it earned him a slight chuckle from Ben.

 Dean stopped walking, causing Ben to do the same. “Alright, let’s skip over the awkward filler conversation. Whatever you’re curious about, just ask.” 

Ben cleared his throat and nodded. “Okay.” They continued to walk and Ben asked his first question, “So, my mom says you have a brother?” 

Dean grinned. “Yeah, his name’s Sam, he’s a pain in my ass, but I love him. He’s getting married next year.”

“Wow,” Ben said. 

“Yeah, he always wanted to beat me at something, I guess he finally did,” Dean laughed. 

“My mom also said you’re dating someone,” Ben said hesitantly. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, you met him at the bar. His name’s Cas.” 

“Was he the guy I was talking to?” Ben asked. 

“Yup,” Dean replied. 

Ben smiled. “He’s nice.” 

“Yeah, I think so.” There was a moment of silence and then Dean asked, “So, you’re… you’re okay with me being with a man?” 

“I’m not my mom or my grandparents,” Ben said. “You might be my father, but I don’t know you, and I have no right to judge you for who you love.” 

Dean felt like he had just been wrapped in a warm blanket. “Thank you.” Ben shrugged and Dean smiled. “You’re pretty smart you know.” 

“That’s what my mom says too, she says I got it from you.” 

Dean laughed. “There’s no way that’s true.” 

“I don’t know, you seem smart to me,” Ben said. 

“Well, Sam’s a genius, so you might have gotten the gene from my side of the family, but I never did well in school, C’s and D’s were about as high as I went in terms of grades.” 

“Was that why you joined the army?” Ben asked. 

Dean shrugged. He’d never really thought about it like that, but in a way, it sounded partly right. “I guess maybe a little. I mostly went because my Dad wanted me to go.” 

“Did you have a choice?” 

“Not really,” Dean replied. “But I also wanted to go, I wanted to do something productive.” 

“Did you get shot?” Ben asked, almost timidly. 

Dean chuckled. “Oh yeah. Almost died a few times too.” 

“Where were you shot?” 

“The shoulder,” Dean replied. “It hurt like a bitch.” 

“I’ll bet,” Ben said. 

“Yeah, there’s nothing like the pain of having a hole ripped through you.” 

“Do you regret it?” Ben asked quietly. 

Dean sighed. “Knowing what I left behind, yes, but knowing the kind of person I’ve become because of my experience and the people I’ve gained in my life because of it, no.” If he hadn’t gone off to war, he’d have stayed home with Lisa, he’d have had a family, gotten to help raise Ben, been a part of his life; but the war gave him his bar, and it gave him Cas, and that’s not something Dean could wish had never happened. 

Ben nodded. “I get it.”

Dean put a hand on Ben’s shoulder, drawing him to a halt. “I do wish I’d been there for you.” 

“Yeah me too,” Ben replied, finally meeting Dean’s eyes for the first time. He had Lisa’s eyes, big and brown, but they held a spark of something that reminded Dean of himself. “But I know you didn’t have a choice.” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah.” He glanced at his watch and then sighed. “We should probably go back or your mother will think I’ve run off with you.” 

Ben chuckled, and a grin that seemed very Dean-like spread across his lips. “Let her worry, she kept me from my father for fourteen years, one five minute conversation doesn’t catch you up on fourteen years.” 

Dean laughed. “Well, I have some work I need to do, but I think you and I will be having some more conversations in the future.” 

“So, you want to be a part of my life?” Ben asked hopefully as he scuffed his feet along the sidewalk. 

“Of course I do,” Dean replied earnestly. “You’re my son.” 

Before Dean could process what was happening, Ben was wrapping his arms around his waist and Dean was left to put his hands on Ben’s - his son’s - back and pull him closer. “Thank you.” 

“For what?” Dean asked as they pulled apart. 

“For not wanting nothing to do with me,” Ben replied. 

“You thought I wasn’t going to care,” Dean said slowly. 

“I didn’t know what to think. You and mom have history, a bad one, and I didn’t know if you’d want me around, as a constant reminder of what you never had,” Ben said as his gaze once again found the ground beneath his feet. 

“Hey,” Dean said gently, reaching out a hand to bring Ben’s eyes back to his by tilting his chin. “What happened with me and your mom, there’s no going back, I’m never going to be able to move on from what she did and from how long she kept you from me, but none of that is your fault, Ben. It’s not going to stop me from wanting to know you, okay?.” 

Ben nodded. “Okay.” Dean gave Ben a smile and then they headed back in the direction they had come. 

When they reached the bar again Dean said, “So, did your mom tell you that I own this place?”

“No, really?”

“Really.” 

“That’s awesome,” Ben said with a grin as Dean pushed open the door. 

Lisa spun around the second they stepped into the bar and she exchanged a small smile with Dean. “Did you two have a good talk?” she asked. 

“Yeah,” Ben replied. 

Lisa nodded curtly. “Good. Well we need to get going, I have a doctor’s appointment I can’t be late for. Goodbye, Dean,” she said as she passed him. 

“Bye Lis,” Dean said as he watched them go. “Bye Ben.”

“Bye,” Ben replied over his shoulder. 

Once the door closed behind them Dean collapsed onto one of his bar stools next to Cas who reached out a hand a rubbed it over Dean’s back. Dean looked over at Cas who was fixing Dean with his blue gaze. “I have a son, Cas,” he whispered. 

“It appears so,” Cas said. 

“Jesus,” Dean breathed as he ran a hand through his hair. 

“He seems like a great kid.” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, he does.” 

“So, what’re you going to do?” Cas asked cautiously. 

“I want to get to know him,” Dean replied without hesitation. “I just…” he sighed and let Cas’ blue eyes calm him. “I don’t want to drag you into this mess, Cas. I mean, I feel like we’re going somewhere, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to take on my burdens.” 

Cas smiled warmly at Dean and he leaned forward and kissed Dean gently on the cheek. “He’s your son, Dean, he’s not a burden.” 

Dean rubbed at his eyes and let out a huff of air. “I know. It’s just… Lisa’s sick, Cas, dying. She says she has a year, at most.”

Cas’ breath hitched in his throat and Dean knew that Cas was putting the pieces together in his mind. “Dean, did she ask you to take care of Ben after she’s gone?” 

Dean shook his head. “No, but I could tell she was putting it out there as an option if I wanted.” 

“And do you want to?” 

“I don’t know,” Dean replied. His words were starting to become strangled and he felt the tears pricking at his eyes. “I want to know him, Cas. There’s so much I want to know about him, so much I’ve missed.” A tear dripped onto the bar counter and he quickly wiped it away. “Fourteen years, Cas, fourteen fucking years I’ve missed of this kids life.” 

Cas’ arm around Dean’s shoulder tightened as he leaned into him. “I know.” 

“She had no right to keep him from me. I should have… I should have checked up on her when I got back.” 

“Dean, none of this is your fault.” 

They were interrupted by the kitchen door opening as Benny came out. “Hey chief we need--- what’s wrong?” 

Dean looked up at Benny, tears streaking his face. “Lisa.” 

“Oh man, what’s going on?” Benny said, concern flooding across his face. 

“She came back,” Dean croaked out. “I… I have a son, Benny, we had a son, and she… she kept him from me… and…” 

“Shit man,” Benny said in shock as he made his way to Dean’s side. “That’s… wow.” 

“You’re telling me.” 

“Were they here just now?” Benny asked, his eyes searching the tavern. 

“They just left,” Dean replied. 

“Can I get you a drink?” Ellen asked from behind the bar. 

Dean had completely forgotten she was there, hearing their whole conversation. He laughed. “Yeah, that’d be nice actually.” 

Ellen poured Dean a glass of whiskey and he downed it in one gulp. “I think you should probably head home,” Benny said. “And take a few days off, figure things out.” 

“Benny’s right, Dean,” Ellen agreed. “Fatherhood isn’t something that you can just brush off.” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I think I’ll head home. Thanks for the drink, Ellen.” 

“I’ll come with you,” Cas said. “I’ll meet you at your apartment.”

Dean didn’t argue so Cas ran off to tell his co-workers he was leaving early and Dean headed out to his car. The drive was slow as Dean’s thoughts played over and over in his mind. He was a father. He had a son. 

Cas was only a minute behind Dean, he hadn't even gotten out of his car yet when Cas was knocking at his window. He let Cas bring him upstairs and set him down on his couch. “I’m going to make you some tea.” 

“Okay,” Dean nodded. 

The adrenaline from talking to Ben and learning about him was beginning to wear off as it was replaced with shock. Cas sat down beside Dean and Dean leaned into him, letting Cas’ body ground him. 

“She was what upset me the other week,” Dean whispered. 

“What?” Cas asked in confusion. 

“When you were sick, and I came back early, Lisa was the reason.” 

“Oh.” 

“I promised I’d tell you eventually, didn’t I?” 

“Yes,” Cas said slowly, “but that doesn’t have to be right now.” 

“No, no I want to tell you now,” Dean said. “Now’s as good a time as any, you should understand.” 

“Okay,” Cas said softly. 

Dean didn’t sit up, he didn’t meet Cas’ eyes, he just started talking. “Lisa was my girlfriend before I went to war. Things were going well for us, until they weren’t.” Something wet leaked down Dean’s cheek but he didn’t bother to wipe it away, he just let the tear follow its trajectory to the ground. “It was when I was literally about to get on the train, that she broke up with me, told me it was best for us, because she didn’t know if I’d come back and she didn’t want to be the girlfriend that waited for letters from her boyfriend off at war. She said she wanted it to be her choice that we broke up, not to have my death pick it for her. But now I know what it was really about, she didn’t want to tell me I had a kid if I was just going to die anyway. She thought it would be best to just cut me out completely, so that at least it was her choice that her child didn’t have a father. Except I lived Cas, I survived, and she knew. She knew where I was, she knew I was alive, and she didn’t find me. If she weren’t sick, she probably never would have.” More tears fell and Dean felt himself shaking, trembling as Cas held him close. “I’ve missed so much, Cas. So many milestones in his life, his birthdays, his first steps, his first words. How could she keep him from me, Cas?” 

“I’m so sorry, Dean,” Cas whispered as he stroked Dean’s hair. Dean cried into Cas’ shirt until the kettle on the stove whistled and Cas was forced to leave to pour Dean his tea.  

Dean took the mug when Cas handed it to him and sipped from it slowly. “I’m sorry to bring you into this, Cas.” 

“Hey, it’s okay. I’m your boyfriend, I’m here for you, no matter what,” Cas replied as he laid a hand on Dean’s shoulder. 

“Thanks Cas.” Dean took another sip of his tea and then swallowed hard and looked guilty over at his blue-eyed boyfriend. “I… I really appreciate you helping me with this… but,” Dean sighed and another tear fell off his chin, “can I… can I just have a couple hours to myself, to process this.” 

Cas nodded in understanding, but there was a slight sadness in his eyes. “Of course Dean.” 

Cas was about to stand up, but Dean pulled him in quickly and kissed him. Cas squeaked in surprise but returned the kiss. “I’ll come to you when I’m ready, okay?” Dean said. 

“Okay Dean, take your time,” Cas replied warmly as he let his fingers run across Dean’s cheek. 

As soon as Cas left, Dean found himself aching for him to come back, but instead of running after him, Dean stood up, poured himself a glass of bourbon, and sat down at the table. His life had just been flipped upside down and turned inside out all at the same time, and it had left Dean feeling raw and confused. What was he supposed to do now? Was he supposed to become a full part of Ben’s life? Draw Cas even deeper into his mess? Was he supposed to be with Lisa while she gets closer and closer to death? Could he support Ben if he chose to take him in? Would Ben want to live with him? Did he want Ben to live with him?

Dean didn’t know where to start finding answers to these questions, but he knew one thing, he needed to call Sam. With a heavy sigh, Dean picked up his phone and dialed Sam’s number. 

“Hello?” Sam answered tiredly. 

“Hey Sammy,” Dean croaked.

“Dean? What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Sam asked, every ounce of tiredness leaving his voice. 

“I’m fine Sam,” Dean replied. 

“Then what’s up?” Sam asked, still concerned. 

Dean sighed. “You remember Lisa, right?”

“Yeah…?”

“She showed up at my bar about a week or so ago,” Dean said, beginning the story slowly. Sam waited for Dean to continue and Dean readjusted his grip on the handle of the telephone and said, “she’s come back a few times since then, and… and today…” Dean took a steadying breath, “today she told me…” Dean broke off, his voice giving out. 

“She told you what, Dean?” Sam asked anxiously. 

“She… she was pregnant Sam,” Dean cried, “when she broke up with me, she was pregnant. I’m a father,” he choked out. “I have a son, I didn’t even know… fourteen years Sammy, and I didn’t know, she never told me, never found me, I missed everything in his life, Sam. Everything.” 

“Holy shit, Dean,” Sam whispered through the receiver. 

“His name is Ben,” Dean said. “He’s a great kid.” 

“Dean, I… I don’t know what to say,” Sam stammered. “How could Lisa not tell you?”

Dean wiped away his tears and sniffed. “I don’t know, but she’s dying, Sam, cancer.” 

“Jesus,” Sam breathed. “So what, she thinks she can just dump the kid on you?” 

Dean shook his head, knowing full well Sam couldn’t see him. “No, it’s not like that, she just… she wanted to introduce us while she still could.” 

“Jesus,” Sam repeated. 

“I know,” Dean said, his voice trembling. “Sammy, I… what am I supposed to do?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“I want to get to know him, I want to be in his life, but I don’t know how to be a father, Sam. I don’t know if I ever really wanted to be a father,” he admitted. “I… I don’t trust myself not to be like Dad.”

“Don’t talk like that, Dean. You’re nothing like Dad, nothing , you hear me?” Sam said sharply. “And, if you want my opinion, I think you should do everything you can to be a part of this kid’s life.”

“You do?” Dean sniffed. 

“Yes, of course I do, he’s… Jesus, Dean, he’s your son.” 

Dean bit his lip and nodded. “Yeah, okay. Thanks Sam.” 

“I’m coming down to see you tomorrow, okay?” 

“You don’t have to, I’m fine.” 

“No, you’re not. I’m coming to see you and that’s that.” 

Dean sighed, he knew arguing was pointless. “Okay.” 

“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Sam said. “Jerk.” 

Dean felt a small smile lift the edge of his lips. “Bitch.” 

With a click, Sam hung up and Dean was left to stare at his slowly emptying glass of bourbon, wondering how he was supposed to be a father to a boy he hadn’t known existed until today.

Chapter Text

Cas couldn’t believe that Dean had a kid, much less that the woman who was the mother to his child had kept it from him for so long. He wanted to be with Dean, but he knew that he needed space to cope with the news, and he was respecting Dean’s wishes; but it had been nearly four hours since Cas had left Dean’s apartment and staring at his door waiting for a knock was beginning to get to him. 

Cas paced his kitchen, wringing his hands together as he did. Dean had said he’d come to Cas when he was ready, but, what if he was never ready? What if Dean thought it would be best for Cas to stay out of his life? With each passing minute Cas was growing more and more anxious. “That’s it,” he muttered to himself. 

He grabbed his coat and put it on as he left his apartment. A quick jog across the street brought him to Dean’s complex and he took the stairs two at a time until he reached the third floor. Cas paused outside Dean’s door, his heart racing. He shouldn’t be here, he said he’d give Dean time, he said he’d wait. Cas shook himself and was about to step away from the door when a shout sounded behind the wood and Cas found himself surging forward unconsciously. The door knob turned freely under his hands and Cas pushed his way into Dean’s apartment. 

“No!” Dean was shouting, “No! No! Please! Jack! Jack!” Dean whimpered and Cas went quickly to his side. “Please,” Dean cried. “Let me see him, please, it’s my fault, it’s my fault.” 

“Dean,” Cas said urgently as he grabbed Dean’s shoulders and shook. “Dean, wake up! Wake up!”

“Jack!” Dean sobbed, un-hearing to Cas’ words. 

Cas’ eyes found the empty liquor bottle that lay tipped over on the floor below Dean’s hand, where it must have fallen when Dean fell asleep. Cas could smell the alcohol on him now and as Dean kept yelling Cas knew he wouldn’t be able to shake him out of his drunken sleep so instead, he stood up and made his way to Dean’s sink where he started to fill up a glass of water. 

“Bobby, I’m sorry,” Dean said in a strangled whisper. “I’m sorry, I tried, but he… he didn’t listen… I told him to get back… it’s my fault, it’s my fault.” Dean suddenly shifted on the couch, his whole body kicking backwards as if he’d been shot, and the scream that came out of his mouth was something that Cas had only ever heard on the battlefield. “No! He can’t be! Jack!” 

Cas moved back to the couch where Dean lay, chest heaving wildly and forehead scrunched up in pain. It was a sight that Cas had never really seen before, Dean was always the one consoling Cas from his nightmares, Cas had hardly had to deal with Dean’s side of things. Another gut-wrenching scream erupted from Dean and the sound made Cas’ hand work of its own accord, tossing the water out of the glass and towards Dean’s face where it connected with a splash

Dean jolted awake with a gasp. His hand came up to wipe the water away from his eyes and then he focused on Cas. “Cas?”

“Hello Dean,” Cas replied, setting the empty cup on the coffee table. “Sorry, but you were having a nightmare.” 

Dean’s confused expression turned into one of remembrance and he sniffed. “Yeah, uh, thanks for waking me,” he said hoarsely. 

Cas moved slowly and sat down next to Dean, taking one of his hands. “Dean, are you okay?” 

Dean turned his head away and pulled his hand from Cas’. “‘M fine.” 

Cas sighed as Dean stood up. He swayed on his feet but regained his balance and stooped to pick up the empty liquor bottle. “You’re drunk, Dean,” Cas said carefully. 

“Just leave it, Cas,” Dean mumbled as he stumbled into the kitchen. 

Cas got to his feet and watched as Dean reached for another bottle of whiskey. “Dean,” Cas sighed in protest as Dean cracked open the bottle and took a swig from it. 

“What are you even doing here?” Dean slurred. “I said I’d find you, when I was ready.” 

“I couldn’t wait,” Cas replied, “I needed to make sure you were okay.” 

Dean huffed and took another large sip of whiskey. “I said I was fine.”

Cas entered the kitchen and put a hand over Dean’s, the one that was clutching the bottle to his chest like a lifeline. “Dean,” he said gently. “I know you’re mad and confused-”

“Damn right I am!” Dean growled. “I have a kid , a fucking kid , and I’m just supposed to pretend that… that my life hasn’t just been completely changed?”

“No one’s asking you to pretend anything,” Cas said gently. “But this isn’t the way to cope with it.” 

“‘S worked before,” Dean grumbled, “it’ll work now.” Cas knew Dean was talking about the war memories and he couldn’t say he blamed Dean, he’d fallen into a bottle many times himself. 

Dean pushed past Cas and then collapsed back on the couch with a grunt. “Dean,” Cas sighed as he walked back over to the couch. “Just talk to me.” 

Dean’s answer was to take another sip from his bottle. 

“Please,” Cas pleaded as he sat down, a hand slowly rubbing along Dean’s back. “Tell me what’s wrong, I can help.”

Dean’s lips formed into a pout and he stared at the bottle in his hands. “I don’t even know what’s wrong. I should be happy? Right? I have a son, I should be over the moon, but instead… I feel… I don’t know… lost.” 

“That’s understandable, Dean,” Cas said. 

Dean sniffed and brought the bottle to his lips again. “Maybe, but what if I screw it up? I don’t know how to be a Dad.” 

“I don’t think anyone ever knows how to be a Dad, but you learn, you grow,” Cas replied. 

Dean shook his head. “I don’t know if I can.” 

“How will you know until you try?” Cas asked. 

“But what if he doesn’t like me? What if I lose him?” 

“I don’t think that’s going to happen. When you came back into the bar, Ben looked happy, he wants to know you and you want to know him, that much is clear, and he seemed to like you. How could he not? You’re amazing.” 

“You’re just saying that,” Dean mumbled. 

“I’m not,” Cas replied. “I mean every word.” 

Dean curled into Cas’ side and Cas threaded his fingers through Dean’s hair, gently soothing him. “Thanks, Cas.” 

Cas kissed the top of Dean’s head and Dean wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist. “Dean,” he said in a whisper. 

“Yeah?” 

“Who’s Jack?” Dean stiffened and Cas instantly regretted asking the question. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to tell me. You were just calling out his name in your sleep, and I was curious.” 

“It’s okay,” Dean replied. “He was… he was a new recruit. Couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old. He shouldn’t have been there, I don’t know how he managed to get into the military, but he was there somehow.” Dean took a shaky breath and continued, “he’d only been with my platoon for three days and we were having dinner around a fire, me, this boy named Tommy, and Jack, and that’s when we were attacked.” Cas felt a shiver run through Dean’s body, like electricity. “T-Tommy took a bullet to the chest and Jack… he tried to help him. I told him to get back, to run, but he wouldn’t listen, he wouldn’t leave Tommy. I didn’t notice the German until it was too late. H-he shot him. I should’ve… I should’ve just grabbed him and ran, I knew Tommy was dead, I shouldn’t have let Jack stay, it got him killed, I got him killed.” Dean started to cry again and Cas hugged him tighter. 

“Shh, it’s okay. It’s okay.” 

“I screwed up with Jack, Cas, he looked up to me, and I… I got him killed. What if I let Ben down like I let Jack down?” 

“Don’t start that again,” Cas said. “You tried your best with Jack, and you’ll try your best with Ben.” Cas shifted under Dean. “Alright, enough of this, let’s get you to bed so you can sleep off this alcohol.” 

“You’ll stay, won’t you?” Dean asked through his tears. 

“If you want me,” Cas replied. 

“I do.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay, come on. You’ve taken care of me so many times, let me take care of you.” 

“Okay, okay,” Dean mumbled. 

Cas helped Dean to his feet and into his room where he assisted Dean in getting dressed into his pajamas and then brushing his teeth. Cas pulled back the covers of Dean’s bed and once Dean was under the sheets, Cas slid in beside him and let Dean gravitate towards his arms. 

****

The next afternoon, Cas stepped into Dean’s bar to find Ellen behind the counter fixing drinks, not Dean. Cas knew Dean wouldn’t be in to work today - he’d left him at home that morning, hungover and in no condition to work- but Cas wasn’t here for Dean anyway, he was here for Benny, Dean’s best friend and war buddy. 

“Hi, Cas,” Ellen said. “Can I get you something?”

“No, thanks. I’m actually looking for Benny, is he in the kitchen?” 

Ellen nodded. “Yeah, go on in.” 

“Thanks.” Cas pushed his way into the kitchen to the smell of cooking meat and vegetables. Benny was at the stove, mixing something in a pot. “Benny,” he said, announcing his presence. 

Benny turned to look at Cas and he set his spoon down beside the stove. “Cas, what’re you doing here? Is Dean okay?” 

Cas nodded. “He’ll be fine, I think he’s just mostly in shock.” 

“So, then what can I help you with?” Benny asked as he brushed his hands off on his apron. 

“I was, uh,” Cas shifted uncomfortably on his feet, “I was wondering if you could help me find Lisa.” 

“What do you want with Lisa?” 

“I just want to talk to her, clear a few things up,” Cas replied. 

Benny narrowed his eyes but shrugged. “I can point you towards her parents house, it’s not too far from here.” 

“That’d be great.” 

“They’re over on Oak Street,” Benny said. “Number Six.” 

“Thanks,” Cas turned to leave but Benny stopped him. 

“Hey, um, I was thinking, if you and Dean are around tonight we could maybe go on a double date. My girlfriend, Andrea, wants to meet you guys and I think it would be perfect to help take Dean’s mind off things.” 

Cas nodded. “That sounds wonderful actually, I’ll talk to Dean.” 

“Great, have him call me.” 

“I will. Thanks again.” 

Cas walked out to his car and then headed towards Oak Street. It was only about a ten minute drive and when he reached Number Six he hesitated in the driveway for a minute before getting out and knocking on the door. 

An older woman answered, Lisa’s mother probably. “Can I help you?” 

“Hi, is Lisa home?” Cas asked. 

The woman crossed her arms. “Yes.” 

“May I see her?” 

With a sigh the woman stepped aside and held the door wider for Cas to step through. “I suppose.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said with a smile as he entered the house. 

The living room that Cas was led into was neatly kept and very clean. Lisa was sitting on a small couch, a newspaper held in front of her. “There’s someone to see you, Lisa,” her mother said. 

Lisa looked over the edge of her paper and when she spotted Cas her eyes grew wide. “Thank you, mother, you can go,” Lisa said as she set the paper down beside her. 

Lisa’s mother took her leave and Cas stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, not fully sure why he was here or what he was doing. “Hi,” was what Cas decided to say. 

“You’re him aren’t you,” Lisa said, a slight note of anger in her voice. “Dean’s… boyfriend .” 

Cas nodded. “Yes.” 

Lisa crossed her arms and fixed Cas with a harsh glare. “What are you doing here?” 

“I wanted to talk to you,” Cas replied. 

“So talk.” 

Cas took a step towards the couch and then faltered. “I just want to understand,” he said. 

“Understand what?” Lisa asked. 

Cas wanted to roll his eyes, as if she didn't know. 

“Why would you keep something this important from Dean?” he asked. 

Lisa’s eyes narrowed dangerously and she pointed a finger at Cas. “ That’s none of your business.” 

“Dean made it my business,” Cas retorted. 

“I explained it to him, if he doesn’t like it, that’s not my problem,” Lisa replied darkly. 

It was Cas’ turn to narrow his eyes. “How could you do this to him? What kind of sick person do you have to be to keep someone’s child from them?” 

Lisa stood up sharply, anger flaring in her eyes. “Get out.” 

Cas put his hands in front of himself, palms out. “Just answer the question, and I’ll go.” 

Lisa dipped her eyes to the ground and she sank back onto the couch with a sigh. “I thought it was best, we thought it was best. We really did. I know it was wrong, I should have told him, but I didn’t want to trouble him, I didn’t want to give myself the chance to fall for him again. So I stayed away. I kept Ben to myself. But everyday, I’d wake up with Dean’s name in my head and… sometimes, I’d almost call him.” 

“Why didn’t you?” 

“I never knew how to start,” Lisa admitted. 

“Well you did a pretty great job figuring it out,” Cas snapped. 

Lisa looked up at Cas, tears hardening in her eyes. “I’m not a threat to you. I’m not trying to come in between you and Dean. That’s what this is really about, isn’t it?” 

“No,” Cas shook his head, this is about Dean, not me, or my feelings, I’m not some jealous boyfriend . “It’s not.” Lisa huffed disbelievingly and Cas straighted his shoulders. “I just thought you should know, Dean’s hurting right now, really badly. It doesn’t matter whether or not you meant to hurt him, he’s still hurt , and you might be the mother to his child but I’m not going to forget the look on Dean’s face when he found out how much of his son’s life he missed, because of you. You had a choice, Lisa, and you should have chosen Dean.” 

Not waiting for Lisa’s response, Cas turned on his heel and headed for the door, hardly even sparing Lisa’s mother a second glance. He sighed as he slid behind the wheel of his car and backed out of the driveway, back in the direction of his and Dean’s apartments. 

Cas had worked for half of the day and then taken the other half off so he could be with Dean, but what Cas wasn’t expecting when he pulled into his parking space, was to see another car outside of Dean’s apartment, parked behind the Cadillac. Cas hurried up to Dean’s room and let himself inside to find Dean seated at the kitchen table with Sam sitting across from him. 

“Cas,” Dean looked up to meet Cas’ eyes. 

“Hello Dean,” Cas replied. 

“Hi Cas,” Sam said. 

“Hi Sam,” Cas smiled. Good, this is good, perhaps Sam will knock some sense into Dean and get his head out of his ass. 

“How was work?” Dean asked. 

Cas shrugged. “The usual. I stopped by the tavern,” 

Dean crooked an eyebrow. “Oh?” 

“Yeah, Benny wants to know if you want to go on a double date tonight.” 

“Yeah why not, I promised him we would sometime, tonight’s as good as any other,” Dean replied. 

“He said to call him with your answer,” Cas said.

“Yeah okay,” Dean replied. Dean quickly made the call and then sat back down across from Sam. 

“So,” Cas said as he took a step towards the table. 

“I was just telling Sam about Ben,” Dean said. 

“I figured,” Cas replied. 

“It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it?” Sam laughed. 

“Yeah,” Cas agreed. 

“Glad we all agree,” Dean said stiffly. 

Cas took the last couple of steps to the table and sat down next to Dean. “So, what have you been saying, Sam? Are you helping him come to terms with everything that’s going on?” 

“I hope I am,” Sam replied. 

“You are,” Dean grumbled. Sam pursed his lips, unbelieving. “I promise,” Dean added.

“Okay,” Sam nodded. “So, you two have a date tonight?” 

“It appears so,” Cas said. 

“How is Benny, by the way?” Sam asked Dean. 

“He’s good,” Dean replied. 

“Well, I’m hungry, so maybe I’ll head to the tavern and visit him. You two seem like you could use some time alone.” 

Sam stood up and Cas joined him, keeping his voice low as he followed Sam to the door. “Is he okay?” 

Sam gave Cas a grim nod. “He’ll be fine.” 

“You’re sure?” 

“I’m sure, Cas.” 

Sam left and Cas turned back to Dean who asked, “So what does the doctor say?” 

Cas chuckled. “He says you’ll be fine.” 

“Just like I’ve been telling you,” Dean said. 

“Yeah, just like you’ve been telling me,” Cas replied as he pulled Dean in for a kiss. “So, what time is our date?” 

“Seven,” Dean replied. 

“And where is it?” 

“Well where else could be better than a tavern where you don’t have to pay for the food,” Dean replied. 

“We’re going to your bar?” Cas laughed. 

“Yeah, well, Benny doesn’t think we should close early, and apparently Ellen said she’d cook us dinner, so I’m not complaining,” Dean replied.

“Well, I don’t care where we go, as long as it’s with you.” 

“Don’t get all sappy on me, Cas,” Dean chuckled. 

“Too late,” Cas said as he brought their lips together again. 

****

Cas followed Dean into The Winchester Tavern and saw that Benny and Andrea were already waiting for them at a table. They sat down in the two waiting chairs and Benny went straight to introductions. “Dean, Cas, this is Andrea.” 

“Nice to meet you,” Dean said as he took her hand. Cas followed suit, taking her hand with a smile.

“So this is Dean,” Andrea said as she took him in. 

Dean grinned. “In the flesh.” 

Andrea turned to Cas. “I’d hang onto him if I were you, he’s a keeper.” 

Cas laughed and smiled at Dean. “I’ll do my best.” 

“I’m not going anywhere, angel,” Dean said. 

Benny snorted. “Get a room.” 

“Maybe later,” Dean said with a wink. He sat forward and fixed Andrea and Benny with his green stare. “So, how’d you two get together anyway?” 

“We’ll share our story if you share yours,” Andrea replied. 

“I met Cas when I walked into the bakery across the street and found out that he was the new baker. He makes the best damn pies you’ll ever have.” 

Cas blushed. “Don’t exaggerate.” 

“I’m not! Ask anyone.” 

“He’s right,” Benny said. 

Cas’ blush deepened. “Oh stop it.” 

“He acts all humble, but it’s true,” Dean said as he put an arm around Cas’ shoulders. 

“Okay, enough about me, what about you two?” Cas asked, desperate to turn the conversation away from himself. 

Andrea smiled at Benny. “Do you want to tell it or should I?” 

“You go on ahead,” Benny replied. 

Andrea turned back to Dean and Cas. “Benny saved my life. I was walking home and these two guys jumped me. They were going to kill me, but then Benny came out of nowhere… and saved me.” She sighed and stared at Benny as Benny chuckled.

“Oh so you were playing hero, were you?” Dean laughed. 

“Shut up,” Benny retorted, but he was grinning. 

Their chatter continued for a while and when Ellen arrived with their food Cas’ eyes lit up with surprise. Ellen had made them steak dinners complete with mashed potatoes and green beans. “Wow,” Cas breathed out. 

“Damn, Ellen, I should let you take over the kitchen more often,” Dean said. 

“Hey!” Benny protested, but there was a twinkle in his eyes. 

“No offense,” Dean added with a smirk. 

“None taken, it does look really good,” Benny said as he picked up his knife. 

“Thanks, Ellen,” Cas said as he dug into the food. 

“Yeah, yeah, you’re welcome, just enjoy,” Ellen replied with a wave of her hand. 

“So,” Dean said as he waved a finger between Benny and Andrea, “are you two serious?”

Benny grinned. “I think so.” 

“We are,” Andrea replied, with an elbow to Benny’s chest. 

“Am I hearing wedding bells in the future then?” Dean asked. 

“Maybe someday,” Benny replied. 

“What about you guys?” Andrea asked.

Cas nearly choked on his steak. “Uh,” 

Dean was quick to come to Cas’ rescue. “We’re just taking it as it comes, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.” 

“Well I think you two are perfect for each other, no matter what anyone says,” Andrea said. 

“Thanks,” Cas and Dean said in unison, both trying to hide their blushes. 

 

By the time they finished their meal it was past eight thirty and Cas was growing tired. “Well, I think this is where we call it a good night,” Benny said. 

“Yeah, I left Sam at my apartment, I should probably be getting back to him,” Dean said. 

“Oh did you now? He came to see me earlier.” 

“He said he was going to, he wasn’t too troublesome a customer was he?” Dean asked. 

“He was great,” Benny laughed. 

“Alright, well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Benny,” Dean said as he brought Benny into a hug. 

“See you tomorrow, brother,” Benny replied. 

“Thanks for this, it was nice,” Andrea said as she hugged Dean and then hugged Cas. 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied.

“It was nice to meet you,” Cas said. 

Dean smiled. “Come back any time.” 

“Oh I will, with food like that you’d have to tie me up to keep me away,” Andrea replied with a laugh. 

“Well good, we could use some more loyal customers,” Dean said. Cas started towards the door and Dean followed as he shouted to Ellen. “Don’t forget to lock up.” 

“I won’t,” Ellen replied. 

Dean nodded curtly and together, all four of them headed out to the parking lot. Cas let Dean get the car door for him and then they were back off towards the apartment complex. 

“Let’s hope that that moose of a brother I have didn’t destroy anything while we were gone,” Dean said as they pulled up outside of his apartment. 

Cas laughed. “I’m sure he didn’t.” 

They entered the apartment to find Sam reading a book on the couch. “And the happy couple returns,” Sam said with a smile. “How was your date?” 

“Great,” Dean replied. 

“I’m glad.” 

“So are you crashing here for the night?” Dean asked. 

“If you’ll let me,” Sam replied. 

“The couch is all yours,” Dean said with a wave of his hand. 

“Great, thanks.” 

“You sure Jessica won’t miss you?” Dean asked. 

“Truth be told, I think she’s glad to have me out of the apartment,” Sam replied with a chuckle. 

“Yeah well I wouldn’t have you driving home tonight anyway, according to the paper, it’s supposed to get really cold, the roads could be icy” Dean said. 

“Oh you’re concerned for me now? That’s sweet. And since when do you read the paper?” Sam teased. 

“Shut up,” Dean grunted. “Come on Cas, let’s go to bed.”

“Don’t you two do anything crazy in there while I’m here,” Sam warned. 

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Sammy,” Dean chortled. 

“Jerk,” Sam called after Dean.

“Bitch,” Dean retorted with a smirk.

Cas fought back a laugh as Dean led him into the bedroom by his hand.

Chapter Text

“You know Sammy, one of these days, you should really come visit for longer than a night,” Dean said as he pulled Sam down into a hug. 

“Yeah, one of these days,” Sam laughed. 

“After you and Jess are married, you better not disappear on me,” Dean said. 

“What? Try and ditch you ? I’d have better chances of winning the lottery.” 

Dean chuckled. “Yeah, you’re right. So don’t try it.” 

“I’ll stay in touch, Dean.” 

“And bring Jessica around next time, would you? I feel like I hardly know the girl and she’s about to be my sister in-law.” 

“Will do,” Sam replied. 

“Drive safe now, you hear me?”

“I will,” Sam laughed. “Bye Cas.” 

Cas nodded and smiled at Sam. “Bye Sam.” 

Dean closed the door behind Sam and then smiled at Cas. “I’m sorry about Sam, I hope that didn’t weird you out at all.” 

Cas shrugged. “He’s your brother, it’s fine.”

“Okay, good.” Dean kissed Cas and then said, “So, now that the grown up is gone, what do you say we have some fun?” 

Cas chuckled as Dean bit at his bottom lip. “Dean, I have to go to work, and so do you.”

Dean sighed and fell away from Cas’ lips. “Why you gotta be such a buzzkill?” 

“I promise we’ll pick up where we left off later, but I need to head back to my apartment,

“You know,” Dean turned around, an idea sparking in his mind. “You should bring some of your stuff here, so you don’t have to run home everytime you need a change of boxers.”

Cas’ eyes widened in surprise. “Really?” 

Dammit Dean, you scared him. “You don’t have to, it was just a suggestion,” he said quickly.  

“No, Dean, I’d like that actually,” Cas said. 

“You would? You don’t think it’s too fast or anything? You’re okay with it?” Dean knew he was rambling, but he couldn’t seem to stop the words coming out of his mouth just like he couldn’t stop the racing of his heart as it flung itself repeatedly against his chest at breakneck speed. 

Cas reached forward and laid a hand over Dean’s drumming heart. “Yes, I think it’s a good idea. You can do the same for my place, since sometimes we never really know where we’re going to be.” 

Dean took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay, yeah.” 

“Great, we can do that after work,” Cas said. 

Dean’s hands fisted in the fabric of Cas’ shirt, pulling him close, and he pressed their lips together. “You’re amazing, you know that,” he breathed against the softness of Cas’ mouth. 

“I could say the same about you,” Cas replied right before he stole another kiss off of Dean’s lips and backed away. “I’ll see you after work.” 

“Or during work, if you’re lucky,” Dean winked as Cas put a hand on the door knob. 

“Goodbye Dean,” Cas said through a boyish grin. 

Once Cas was gone, Dean began to get dressed, throwing on some jeans and an old gray t-shirt. Owning a bar had its perks, one of which was that he didn’t have to wear some fancy suit to work everyday. He quickly took in his appearance in the mirror, deemed himself good enough, picked up his keys, and headed down to his car. 

There were no cars in the parking lot when Dean arrived at his bar, and so he let himself into the tavern and stood in the doorway for a moment. Ellen had swept and cleaned the bar before she’d left last night, and it showed. Everything was neat and tidy, the counter was clean, the stools pushed up under the bar, the tables were wiped, and the floor sparkled under his feet. Dean poked his head into the kitchen to find that it was also spotless and he frowned to himself in approval. 

“Is it to your liking?” 

Dean jumped at the sound of Benny’s voice and spun around with a scowl. “Don’t do that.” 

Benny smirked. “Sorry chief.” 

Dean shook his head with a smile and clapped Benny on the back as he moved to the front window to turn the sign around. “But to answer your question, yes, Ellen did a good job.” Dean began to walk back to his counter when he thought crossed his mind. “How’s Alex been doing? She hasn’t been to work in a few days.” 

Benny smacked a hand to his forehead with a small gasp. “Oh shit, sorry, I forgot to tell you, she and Jody went off on some trip, she won’t be back until tomorrow.”

“Oh,” Dean said as he pulled his apron on. “Well okay then.” 

“Sorry,” Benny apologized again. 

“It’s not a problem,” Dean replied.

Ellen and Jo entered the room a few minutes later and Dean greeted them with a smile. “Good morning.” 

“Good morning, Dean,” Ellen said, returning Dean’s smile. 

“Morning,” Jo replied. 

“You know, you two have been working overtime quite a bit and I was thinking that you deserved two things, one, to get off early today, I was thinking around three, and two, a raise.” Dean had been thinking about these things over the past few days, he knew he’d been absent from his bar and his employees had been bending over backwards to keep things running without him.

Ellen and Jo stared at him with open mouths. “You’re not serious?” Ellen said. 

“Deadly,” Dean replied. 

“That would be… Dean, thank you,” Ellen stammered. 

“Ah, don’t mention it, it’s the least I could do,” Dean said as he picked up his rag and began to wipe down the counter. 

The bell over the door chimed and Dean looked up to see Charlie enter the bar. “Hi!” she said happily to Dean. 

“Charlie, back so soon already?” Dean laughed. 

“Well, I work just down the street at the bookstore so I thought I’d grab myself some breakfast before my shift,” she replied. 

“I can’t complain there,” Dean chuckled. “Have a seat, Jo will be with you in a minute.” 

Charlie smiled. “Thanks.” 

Dean glanced over at the kitchen door and when Jo didn’t come out he asked, “So, how are things with Gilda?” 

Charlie’s smile became a full on grin. “Amazing, wonderful, she’s great.” 

“I’m glad,” Dean replied with a smile of his own. 

“And what about you Cas?” 

“Oh we’re doing great, thanks.” 

“That’s good.” 

The kitchen door opened quickly and Jo came barreling out, a menu in her hand. “Hi Charlie,” she greeted their customer. 

“Good morning, Jo,” Charlie replied. 

“Are we starting off with the usual?” 

“Yes, coffee, please,” Charlie answered. 

“Great, I’ll have it out for you in a minute.” 

“I think I know what I want to order too,” Charlie said before Jo could leave. 

“Well alright then, hit me.” 

“Waffles, with all the toppings you’ve got and a side of bacon,” Charlie said. 

“Excellent choice,” Jo hummed as she wrote down the order. “Be back in a jiffy.” 

Dean watched Jo head back into the kitchen and then he continued to work on cleaning the already clean counter. Charlie pulled out a book from her bag and began to read and Dean found himself glancing out the window at the bakery. From where he stood he had a pretty good view of the small building and the bench that sat right in front of the bakery, the bench that Dean noticed Cas frequented around lunch time. 

It was a gray day today, the sun was hiding behind a blanket of clouds and there was a deep chill to the air that reminded Dean of how close they were getting to winter. It hadn’t snowed yet, but Dean was expecting the first snowfall of the season soon. Winter always reminded Dean of when he and Sam were kids and they’d build snow forts in their backyard and have overly dramatic snowball fights. Dean got lost in his memories as he began to clean a glass. 

“Okay, we get ten minutes to build our forts and then it’s on,” Dean said to Sam. 

Sam nodded, although he could barely manage that small tilt of his head through all the snow gear he was wearing. Sam was bundled up in a jacket that was too big for him - it was one of Dean’s old winter coats and Sam hadn’t quite grown into it yet-, his snow pants, a scarf that obscured his mouth, and a hat that looked like it was going to swallow his head. Biting back a laugh Dean gave Sam a small shove. 

“Alright, go!” 

He watched Sam stagger off into the snow- it came up to his knees- and head to his side of the yard. Dean moved to his side and then began to create his fort. He dug into the snow like a dog, hollowing out a pit that went down to the dead grass underneath; as he dug, he started to use the excess snow to premake some snowballs. Once he had dug a hole that was big enough to crouch in, he began to build up walls around it, stacking layer of snow on top of layer of snow until he had surrounded himself in a snow circle, with snowballs piling up at his feet.

He glanced at his watch and saw that he still had three minutes left. Dean used the extra time to peek up over his walls and grab some more snow for snowballs and to take in what Sam was making. 

Sam had decided to make a long wall that stretched in front of him, but it wasn’t very tall, and Dean grinned mischievously, he could easily get snowballs over that. Another glance at his watch showed that their time was up, so Dean sunk back into his hole and shouted, “It’s been ten minutes, Sammy!” 

“Okay!” Sam called back. 

“Alright, I’ll count to three and then it’s war!” Dean yelled. “One. Two. Three!” 

With a grunt Dean poked his head over his snow wall and chucked a snowball in Sam’s direction, he watched as it soared high above Sam’s wall and landed behind it. “Missed me!” Sam’s trill of a voice called out. 

Dean dropped back down into his hole and picked up another snowball. Just as he was raising his head again to aim, a snowball flew towards him and Dean ducked down to avoid it. “Nice try, but you’ll have to do better than that, little brother!” Dean shouted. 

Dean took his chance and threw another wad of snow in Sam’s direction. This time he heard a satisfying smack and Sam groaned from behind his wall. 

“Got ya!” Dean laughed triumphantly. 

“No fair, you can throw farther than me,” Sam protested.

“This was your idea, Sammy, don’t forget that. You brought this on yourself,” Dean said as he grabbed another snowball. 

Their fight continued for another couple of minutes, they’d agreed that whoever got five hits on the other won. Dean was up to four, and Sam had hit Dean twice, although he’d never tell Sam that he’d had let him get a few hits in, just so he didn’t feel too bad. Dean was just tossing his final snowball when the door of their house opened and Dean looked over to see the shadow of his father in the doorway. 

“Come inside now,” he said. 

“Yes sir,” Sam and Dean said together, pulling themselves out from behind their respective forts.

They trudged through the snow and entered the house where they stripped off their snow gear. “I have to go out now, make yourselves some lunch,” their father said gruffly. 

“Yes sir,” Dean replied. 

Without another word the front door opened and shut and Sam and Dean were left alone. “Can we have hot chocolate?” Sam asked hopefully from his seat at the kitchen table. 

Dean shrugged. “Sure.” 

 

Dean was pulled from his memories as Ash walked through the door and took his usual seat at the bar. “Morning Dean,” he said. 

“Hey Ash,” Dean replied as he reached for a beer. 

Ash took the beer and brought it to his lips. “Where’ve you been lately? You never leave this bar, so something must’ve happened? You weren’t sick were you?” 

Dean chuckled. “No, a lot of… things… have just been happening in my life lately, I needed some time.” 

“Not bad things I hope?” 

“Yes and no,” he replied. 

“Well I’m glad you’ve sorted everything out now, it’s not the same without you.” 

“I’m flattered that you missed me,” Dean said as he tossed an empty tequila bottle in the trash.

“Who wouldn’t miss you, look at you,” Ash said through a burp and a flourish of his hand. 

“Woah there, slow your roll, I’m a taken man,” Dean laughed as he moved towards the kitchen door. 

Ash shrugged. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”

Dean shook his head as he entered the kitchen. “Ash?” Benny asked without looking up from the bacon that was sizzling in front of him. 

“You guessed it,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll cook him up his eggs once I’m done with the bacon,” Benny said. 

Dean ducked back out of the kitchen and continued his inventory of what they had in stock regarding alcohol. A couple more customers came into the bar and Ellen came out of the kitchen with Charlie’s waffles. 

Twenty minutes later, Gadreel arrived. “Late again, are we?” Dean said as the broad shouldered man moved behind him. 

“I’m fashionably late, thank you very much” Gadreel replied. 

“You know, I should really fire you,” Dean said. 

“So why don’t you?” Gadreel asked, a teasing note to his voice. 

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Dean replied. 

Gadreel grinned. “You like me.” 

Dean shook his head. “You wish.” 

“You do, otherwise I’d have been out of here years ago,” Gadreel said as he pulled his apron over his head. 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Whatever, just get to work, before I actually do decide to fire you.” 

 

When noon came around Dean decided to head over to the bakery to pick up something sweet, and maybe see Cas too. “I’ll be back in five,” he shouted into the kitchen. 

Benny looked up knowingly and winked. “Have fun.” 

Dean crossed the street and entered The Yellow Sparrow Bakery to find a small line building up in front of the cash register. Garth was working behind the counter and he handed an old woman a box and her change. Dean took his time, looking through the cases that housed the many different pastries. 

“Dean,” Garth said, noticing him as the line moved forward. 

“Hey Garth,” Dean replied. 

“What are you planning on getting?” Garth asked. 

“What do you suggest? I’m hoping to try something different,” Dean replied. 

“Well, Anael makes amazing cookies, I’d try some of those,” Garth said. 

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Does she now?” 

“But if you’re looking for something sweet and gooey, I’d get the cinnamon rolls Cas just made.”

“Don’t do that to me Garth, you know I’m sucker for cinnamon rolls,” Dean said through a groan. 

“The cinnamon rolls it is then,” Garth said as he reached through the glass case to pull out two large pieces of gooey, sauce coated, dough. 

“You know me too well,” Dean laughed as the rolls were placed in a box. 

Garth chuckled as he rang up Dean’s order. “That I do amigo. That’s $2.50.” 

Dean fished the change out of his pocket and handed it to Garth, just as the kitchen door creaked open and a set of blue eyes found Dean. “Dean,” Cas said as he stepped fully out of the kitchen, “I thought that was you.” 

“Hey Cas,” Dean smiled as he moved over to the side of the bakery with his box. “I can’t wait to try some of these cinnamon rolls, they’re still warm.” 

Cas shook his head with a smile. “You have really got to stop buying everything I make.”  

“Make me,” Dean growled with a playful smirk. 

“I’d lose that fight,” Cas replied with a chuckle. 

“Damn right you would,” Dean grinned. 

The kitchen door opened again and this time, out walked a red-headed woman who Dean recognized as Anael. “Dean, hi,” she said with a smile. 

“Hey Anael,” Dean replied. “I was going to buy some of your cookies, but the cinnamon rolls were just too tempting.” 

Anael laughed. “I don’t blame you, I’d have picked the cinnamon rolls too.”

 Anael turned away from Dean and Cas to tell something to Garth so Dean hoisted his box under his arm and said, “I should probably head back to work.” 

“Me too,” Cas replied. 

Dean was overcome with the urge to kiss Cas, but the bakery was too full for his liking and he didn’t want to risk it. He was always saying that he didn't care who saw them, but the reality of it was that if someone did see them together, it could very well be the end of his ownership to his bar and Cas’ job at the bakery. So, Dean settled for a soft smile and a friendly touch to Cas’ arm before he backed away and headed across the street. 

“Ooo, what’d you get?” Jo asked when Dean came back inside. 

“Cinnamon rolls,” Dean replied. 

“They smell delicious,” Jo said. 

“I’ll be they taste even better,” Dean said as he headed into the kitchen to take his lunch break. 

“You know,” Benny said as he handed Dean a fork and knife for his cinnamon roll eating endeavours, “I think you’re the bakery’s most frequent customer, you probably give them the best business.” 

Dean laughed. “Cas makes amazing baked goods, how am I supposed to stay away?” 

“I can’t argue there,” Benny said. 

Dean took his first bite of his cinnamon roll and hummed into it. “Wow, this might actually be the best thing I’ve ever tasted.” 

“Ouch chief, I’m hurt.” 

“The best baked good that I’ve ever tasted,” Dean corrected himself. 

“That’s better,” Benny chuckled. 

“Dude seriously, I don’t know how Cas does it,” Dean moaned as he took another bite. 

“He’s got talent,” Benny said. 

“He’s perfected the art of baking, that’s for sure.”

Dean finished his cinnamon rolls and then went back out to take the bar from Ellen. Ash asked for another beer and Dean quickly gave it to him.

Asmodeus arrived around three, just as Ellen and Jo were leaving, and Dean was ready with his glass of whiskey. “Good to see you back, Dean,” the man said, much to Dean’s surprise. 

“Thank you,” Dean replied. 

“That other lady doesn’t make my drinks quite like you do,” Asmodeus said as he placed his empty glass back on the counter for Dean to refill. 

Dean laughed. “She hasn’t had as much practice as me, she’ll get there one day.” 

It was as Asmodeus kicked back his second drink that Dean heard it, a sound he’d hoped he’d never hear again, a sound he thought he’d left behind on the battlefield: a gunshot. 

Everyone in the bar looked up abruptly and Dean felt fear clench in his gut. Another shot went off and his eyes snapped to the window that showed him the opposite side of the street as the unmistakable muzzle flash lit up the inside of The Yellow Sparrow Bakery. 

Cas

Dean didn’t stop to think, he sprinted out from behind his bar and pushed through the door to the street. His heart beat in his throat and panic gripped him so tightly that he almost couldn’t breathe. Don’t let him be hurt, please let him be okay. Dean’s eyes zero’d in on the bakery and his feet led him into the street, one thought on his mind, Cas. 

He didn’t see the car until it was too late.

Chapter Text

Cas was just putting a sheet of Anael’s cookies in the oven when a loud bang made him drop to the floor instinctively, panic already kicking in. A gunshot, that was a gunshot . Cas forced himself to breathe, to think, and take in the situation. You’re not on the battlefield, you’re in the bakery. He reminded himself.  

Cas glanced over from where he lay on the floor to see Anael crouching in fear behind the counter. “It’ll be okay,” Cas whispered, more for his own benefit than Anael’s. 

Cas army-crawled along the floor and carefully pushed the door open a crack to see what was going on. “Give me all the money!” A masked man shouted, his gun in Garth’s face. 

“Okay, okay,” Garth said. Cas could tell Garth trying to remain calm, but was slightly failing. “Just take it easy there amigo,” he said as he carefully opened the cash register and began to pull out stacks of bills. 

“Faster!” the man growled. He raised his gun into the air again and another gunshot cracked through Cas’ eardrums. 

“Okay, okay!” Garth worked faster and soon all of the cash was on the counter and Garth backed away, hands up. “That’s all we have.” 

The man stuffed the cash into a bag and then aimed his gun at Garth one more time, but didn’t shoot, he just grunted before turning and running for the back door. Cas stood up, motioning for Anael to stay back and cautiously entered the main room. 

“Garth, are you okay?” Cas asked. 

Garth nodded numbly. “I’m alive.” 

Cas’ eyes scanned the bakery to see their scant customers slowly rising to their feet. Cas raised his voice, “Is everyone alright?” 

There were a few nods and mumbles but Cas wasn’t paying attention anymore, his eyes had moved out the window and across the street where the tavern door was opening as Dean came barreling outside. Cas started to move towards the door but he froze in his tracks when he heard the screeching of tires and watched, as if in slow motion, as a Ford Galaxie collided with Dean. 

“Dean!” Cas screamed. Cas’ limbs unfroze in an instant and he sprinted from the bakery. The car sped away quickly and Cas tried to read the license plate, but it was too fast. Anger flared up in him as the car disappeared, how dare you leave him like that? 

“Dean!” Cas’ voice sounded raw as fear ripped its way out of his mouth along with his words. Not again, not again, this can’t happen to me again, I can’t lose someone like this again. Cas ran across the street, not even stopping to check if cars were coming, if they wanted to hit him too, so be it. Cas reached Dean, unharmed, and dropped to the ground, reaching for Dean. “Dean,” he choked out, tears in his eyes. Blood was dripping from Dean’s mouth and one of his legs was twisted at an awkward angle.

“Oh my god,” Ellen whispered. 

“Dean,” Jo sobbed. 

“Jesus,” Benny gasped, bringing a hand to his mouth. 

“I’ve called an ambulance,” Gadreel said. 

Cas hardly heard them. One of Cas’ shaking hands found its way under Dean’s head as he leaned in to put his ear beside Dean’s mouth, hoping for a breath. “Come on Dean, please,” Cas cried. “Please.”

There was nothing. No breath stirred Cas’ hair, no snarky remark came from Dean’s mouth, the man in his arms was motionless. No. No, he was not going to let this be it, he was not going to let Dean die, not like this, not like Anna. 

Cas sat back on his heels, gently placing Dean’s head back on the pavement. He took a few deep breaths and then placed one hand on Dean’s chest, over his heart, and his other hand on top of that one. Straightening his shoulders, he leaned onto his hands and pushed. Dean’s chest moved under Cas’ fingers, it was an odd sensation, but Cas kept going, pumping and pumping in a careful rhythm. He paused in his actions after a minute to tilt Dean’s head back and fit his lips to Dean’s bloody ones, he blew two breaths of air into Dean’s mouth and then resumed pushing his hands down on Dean’s chest. 

“Come on Dean, please, please, please,” Cas cried as he worked. “I can’t lose you too Dean, please, wake up, wake up!” Cas could hardly see through his tears and his arms were getting tired but he refused to give up. 

It was when Cas was just starting to hear the sirens of an approaching ambulance that he heard a gasp underneath his hands. “Dean!” Cas sobbed as wonderful green eyes met his blue one’s. “You’re alive, you’re okay, you’re okay,” Cas smiled through his tears.

Dean coughed, splattering blood everywhere. “Cas,” Dean mumbled, his name was garbled by blood and saliva. 

“Shh, don’t talk,” Cas said as more tears streamed down his cheeks. He ran a hand through Dean’s hair, “it’s going to be okay, you’re going to be just fine. Help is coming.” 

“Cas,” Dean spluttered again as he coughed. 

“Shh, shh, I’m here, I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere, I promise, I’ve got you,” Cas said gently, trying to control the shaking in his voice. 

They were bathed in flashing lights as the ambulance pulled up to them, sirens blaring. Paramedics surrounded them and he felt hands pulling at him. “No!” Cas screamed. “No I can’t leave him!”  

“Sir, you’ve probably just saved his life, but it will have been for nothing if you don’t stay back and let us work,” a man said roughly as he pushed past Cas to get to Dean. 

“His leg is definitely broken,” one of the men said. 

“He appears to have suffered massive trauma to his abdomen and he has a concussion, probably from when his head hit the pavement.”

“Is he going to be okay?” Jo asked from where she was standing in her mother’s arms. 

“We’re going to take him to the hospital,” a paramedic said. “But I’d say he should make a recovery.” 

Should? Cas couldn’t entertain the possibility that Dean could still die. 

Two more men came over with a stretcher and they lifted Dean onto it. Dean groaned as they passed Cas, his hand fell from the stretcher in what looked like a feeble attempt to reach out to him. “Cas.” 

The paramedic closest to Cas fixed his gaze on him. “Do you want to ride with him?” 

Cas nodded instantly. “Yes.” 

“Can you please tell us the patient’s name?” the man asked as they began to load Dean into the ambulance. 

“Dean,” Cas said quickly, “Dean Winchester.”

They climbed into the ambulance, with Cas sitting on the edge of the bench - so the paramedics could work-, but within hand holding distance of Dean.

 “Dean, can you hear me?” a paramedic asked. Dean managed a feeble nod. “Good, that’s good, okay, we have to set your leg now, it’s going to hurt, so just bear with us.” 

Again, Dean nodded and reached for Cas, who readily took his hand and held tightly. “It’s okay,” Cas said reassuringly. The paramedics got to work and Cas heard a crack as they pushed Dean’s leg back in place, causing Dean to grunt in pain and squeeze Cas’ hand to a point where Cas almost called out himself. 

When the paramedics began to cut open Dean’s shirt to assess his injuries underneath, Cas forced himself to look over the bruised skin that was already turning purple, and the blood that was seeping through a wound above his stomach. One of the paramedics put a hand over Dean’s rib-cage and pressed lightly, earning a hiss of pain from Dean. “I’d say he’s got at least three broken ribs judging by the amount of contusions he has.” Cas tried to tune out what the paramedics were saying, he was already worried enough as it was. 

When they reached the hospital building, Cas was only allowed as far as the double doors that led towards the operating bay. He was forced to head into the waiting room where he began to pace, nervously wringing his hands together with each step. 

It had only been a few minutes when Cas was tapped on the shoulder. He spun around to see a police officer standing there. “Can I help you?” Cas asked. 

“I’m here to follow up with you about the accident,” the officer said. 

“Oh, right.” He had completely forgotten about police officers, he had just witnessed a hit and run, and a robbery

“Is there anything you can tell me about the car or a description of the driver?” the officer asked. 

“Uh, it was a black Ford Galaxie, and I only saw it through the window so I didn’t get a good look at the driver or the plates,” Cas replied. 

“So where were you when you saw the car?” 

“In the bakery across the street, that’s where I work,” Cas replied. 

“I see,” the officer said as he noted down Cas’ words. 

A realization dawned on Cas as the officer continued to write. “He was coming to make sure I was okay,” he muttered. 

“I’m sorry?” 

Cas looked up at the officer. “Uh, Dean, I think he was coming to make sure I was okay. The bakery had just been robbed, he must have heard the gunshots across the street.” 

The officer quirked a surprised eyebrow at Cas. “So you were in the bakery when the robbery took place too,” he said, again noting it down. 

“Yes.” 

“Did you get a good look at the perpetrator?”

Cas shook his head. “No, he was wearing a mask, but I’d put his height at about 5,8”.” 

“Alright, well that’ll be all then,” the officer said. “Don’t leave town, you may be wanted for further questioning.” 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Cas promised. The officer walked away, leaving Cas to continue pacing. 

About ten minutes later, Cas spotted Benny enter the waiting room and make a beeline for Cas. “How is he?” he asked, breathless. 

“I don’t know,” Cas replied. “The paramedics were saying that he has three broken ribs, and he definitely has a broken leg.”

“Jesus,” Benny sighed as he sank into a chair. 

“Yeah,” Cas said through his own sigh. 

“Have you called Sam yet?” Benny asked. 

Shit, Cas hadn’t even thought about that. “Uh, no.” 

Benny heaved himself to his feet. “Don’t worry, I’ll do it.”

“No, that’s okay, I can, I should ,” Cas said, putting a hand out to stop Benny. 

Benny nodded slowly. “Okay, if you’re sure. Let me write down the number for you.” 

Benny pulled a pen and some paper, that was laying on a table, towards himself and scribbled down the number. Cas took the paper and went to find the nearest payphone. He plugged a dime through the change slot and then dialed Sam’s number. The phone rang a few times before Sam’s voice came over through the phone. 

“Hello?” 

Cas took a deep breath. “Sam, it’s Cas.”

“Cas?” 

“Sam…” Cas couldn’t keep the tremble from his voice. 

“Cas, what’s wrong?” Sam asked worriedly. 

“Sam, it’s… it’s Dean.” His throat felt like it was constricting around every word and his eyes stung with tears again. 

“What happened?” Sam’s voice turned from worry to fear. 

Cas heaved in another breath, it took almost all his effort to let the air fill his lungs. “He…” 

“Cas, he’s not…” Sam sounded on the verge of tears and Cas cursed himself for not being able to get the words out. 

“No,” he managed to choke out. He almost was though. “He was h-hit by a c-car, it’s b-bad, Sam,” he hiccuped.

“Jesus. Shit.” Sam gasped. “I’m on my way.” 

Sam hung up before Cas could and he was left to replace the receiver and head back over to Benny. “What’d he say?” Benny asked. 

“He’s on his way,” Cas replied. 

“I’m going to call Lisa,” Benny said. 

Lisa. Right . Cas wanted to stop Benny, he wanted to keep Dean’s injury from the woman that kept Dean’s child from him, but it was the thought of Ben not knowing what had happened to his father - the father he had just met-  that made Cas let Benny go. 

When Benny returned Cas was fidgeting in a seat that he’d forced himself into. “Lisa’s one her way with Ben.” 

“Great,” Cas replied, trying to keep the harsh tone out of his voice. 

He and Benny spent the next twenty minutes trying to occupy themselves with magazines and crossword puzzles, but nothing helped Cas take his mind off of Dean. 

 

When Sam burst into the waiting room Cas stood up abruptly to meet him. “Any word?” he asked as he reached Cas, his eyes alight with worry. 

Cas shook his head. “Not yet.” 

Sam sighed and offered Benny a grim nod. “Benny.” 

“Hi Sam,” Benny replied. 

“Did you get the plates of the car that did it?” Sam asked Cas. 

Again, Cas shook his head. “I saw it through the bakery window.” 

Sam turned his questioning gaze to Benny but Benny shook his head. “I was in the kitchen. I only heard it.” 

“What was he even doing running into the middle of the road like that?” Sam asked as he ran a hand through his hair. 

“He was going to make sure Cas was okay,” Benny replied. “Shots were fired at the bakery.” 

“Jesus!” Sam exclaimed, turning wide eyes to Cas. “You weren’t hurt were you?” 

“No, I’m fine,” Cas said. “No one was, the guy just took money and left.” 

Sam shook his giant head and collapsed into a chair. “I can’t believe this.” 

“Where is he!?” Lisa’s booming voice made all three of them turn to see the brunette rushing through the door, Ben behind her. 

“He’s still not out of surgery,” Benny replied calmly. 

Lisa pointed a finger at Cas accusingly. “How could you let this happen? You’re supposed to look out for him.” 

“Hey,” Benny growled. “It’s not his fault. The bakery he works at was being robbed, he’s lucky not to be in a hospital bed too.” 

“Lisa, just calm down,” Sam said soothingly. 

“Calm down?” Lisa spat in exasperation. “I finally introduce my son to his father and he gets himself hit by a fucking car .” 

“Lisa,” Cas said, causing her to turn her fierce brown eyes on him. “He’ll pull through.” Cas said the words, but he wasn’t even sure if he believed them. Dean had been alive when they pushed him through those double doors, but a lot could happen between then and the operating room. 

Lisa only scoffed and turned away from them towards the front desk where the receptionist was sitting. Ben’s eyes found Cas’ and he stepped forward slowly. “Do you really think he’ll be okay?” 

“I hope so,” Cas replied, that much was the truth. 

Ben nodded slowly and then he looked over at Sam, who was staring at him in slight wonder. “Um, hi,” Ben said skeptically. 

Sam shook himself. “Hi, sorry, I’m Sam, Dean’s brother.” 

Ben’s eyes brightened a little and he held out his hand. “Oh, hi.” 

Sam shook Ben’s hand, a smile on his face. “Wow, sorry, it’s just can’t believe you’re Dean’s kid.” 

Ben rubbed the back of his head with his hand, a gesture that reminded Cas vividly of Dean. “He told me about you,” Ben said. 

“Yeah?” Sam laughed. “Nothing too embarrassing, I hope.” 

Ben shook his head. “No, he mostly talked about how smart you are and how proud of you he is.” 

Sam smiled softly. “Well I’ll be damned.” 

“Don’t act so surprised, Sam,” Benny laughed, “you know how much Dean loves you.” 

“Yeah, I know,” Sam replied, his eyes fluttering to his hands. 

“How long do you think it will be until we know if he’s okay?” Ben asked. Cas could tell that he was trying to put on a brave face, but the tremble of his bottom lip gave away how scared and worried he was. 

“We don’t know,” Cas replied. 

“But soon, we hope,” Sam added. 

“The receptionist was entirely unhelpful,” Lisa grunted as she returned with a scowl. 

“So they don’t know anything yet?” Sam asked.

Lisa shook her head. “Nope.” 

“All we can do is wait then,” Benny sighed. 

Ben slid into a chair beside Sam and the two struck up a small conversation while Lisa sat with her leg bumping anxiously up and down. Cas returned to his pacing as the hours ticked by slowly. The wait reminded Cas of the war: crouching in a trench, fear coursing through his veins, unsure if the enemy fire would strike him down or if he’d get another day to live. 

At some point Benny left to get them some food but Cas didn’t touch a bite of it, his stomach was in too many knots and Cas was certain that there was no way he’d be able to digest anything. He wasn’t the only one, Ben didn’t eat either and Sam only had a few bites of his salad. 

It was nearing hour three when a man in a white lab coat started to make his way towards them. They all stood up quickly, almost in sync, as the doctor came to a halt in front of them. “Is he okay?” Cas asked. 

The doctor nodded. “With rest he’s going to be fine.” 

“Oh thank God,” Lisa sighed in relief, touching a hand to her chest. 

“What is the extent of his injuries?” Sam asked. 

“He’s got three badly broken ribs, a broken femur and tibia, which we had to surgically realign, and he has a minor grade two concussion that will heal with time,” the doctor replied as he read off of a list attached to his clipboard. 

“Damn,” Benny mumbled under his breath. 

“Can we see him?” Ben asked nervously from beside Lisa. 

“I’m afraid I can only let you in one at a time, we don’t want to overwhelm him, and… he’s been asking for Cas,” the doctor said. 

Cas’ stomach flipped and he swallowed hard as everyone’s eyes turned to him. “Uh, that’s me.” 

“Right this way then,” the doctor said, motioning for Cas to follow him. 

Cas looked over his shoulder at Sam who nodded at him. He felt bad, Sam was Dean’s brother, his family, so was Ben, but Dean wanted to see him . He couldn’t fully complain, he was aching to see Dean and he was glad he didn’t have to wait another minute. 

The doctor pointed Cas into a room and he timidly pushed open the door to the hospital room. “Dean?” 

Dean was laying in the bed, his casted leg suspended in the air, there were bandages stretching across his bare chest, his eyes looked sunken and he seemed pale, but he was still Dean . “Hey angel,” Dean grinned through a wince. His voice was rough, as though it had been dragged across sandpaper, but his smile was still the same.

Cas could feel the tears fighting to push through their banks and he blinked them away with a sniff as he walked towards a chair by Dean’s bed. He sat down and reached for Dean’s hand. Cas brought his hand up to his mouth and kissed it, shutting his eyes into the feeling of warm skin under his lips. “You’re okay,” he said. The tears began to flow now, flooding his eyes as if a dam had just been broken and now there was nothing stopping them.

“Well, define okay,” Dean said through a chuckle that quickly turned into a grunt of pain. 

“You’re alive .” 

“You can’t get rid of me that easily,” Dean joked. 

Cas sniffed and raised his free hand to wipe the streaks of salty water from his cheeks. “Do you… do you remember what happened?” he asked. 

“Kind of,” Dean replied. “It’s all a bit of a blur. I remember the gunshots, and the pain, but mostly I just remember seeing blue.” 

“Blue?” 

“You’re eyes, Cas, I remember seeing your eyes. They were the only thing I could hold onto, the only thing that kept me from falling into the darkness.” 

Cas blushed and squeezed Dean’s hand. More tears fell from his eyes as Dean smiled warmly, green eyes fixed on him. “You were…” Cas took a shaky breath. “You were dead.”

“So I heard,” Dean replied. “According to the doctor, I have you to thank for being… not dead.” 

“I couldn’t let you die,” Cas said, another sob escaping his throat. “Not like that. Not like Anna.” 

Dean’s eyes widened in remembrance. “Shit, Cas.” 

“I don’t even know what I did,” Cas admitted, continuing before he could stop himself. “I read somewhere about using chest compressions to restart someone's heart, and I just… did it, and it worked... it saved you.” 

“You’re a goddamn hero, Cas. Thank you,” Dean said, green eyes warm with gratitude. 

“I couldn’t lose someone I loved again, Dean. I won’t .” Cas’ blood began to rise to his face as he realized what he just said, but Dean was smiling at Cas, his eyes brimming with nearly broken tears. 

“You love me?” he asked, voice breaking. 

Cas nodded mutely. Of course he did, he loved Dean from the second he saw him, from the moment Dean helped him into his apartment when he was drunk, from the time Dean cared for him while he was sick, from the first time their lips met, and from the minute his heart nearly split open inside his chest as he watched that car barrel into him. 

“I love you too,” Dean said as his tears fell. 

Cas surged forward, careful not to jostle Dean’s broken limbs, and let their lips connect. Their tears mixed as the kiss grew deeper and when they broke apart and their foreheads rested against each other. “I love you so much, Dean Winchester. Don’t you ever scare me like that again.” 

“Okay, okay Cas, I won’t,” Dean replied quietly. 

Cas kissed Dean again and then forced himself to pull away and fall back into his chair. “Sam’s here,” Cas said, “Ben too, and Benny, and Lisa.” 

Dean let out a sharp breath. “I didn’t even think about Ben.” 

“Do you want to see him?” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I do, but Sammy first.” 

“Okay, I’ll go ask for him,” Cas said. 

He heaved himself to his feet, slightly reluctant to leave Dean, and headed towards the door. He opened it to find a nurse standing outside of the doorway, she was a bright young woman with vibrant blond hair. “Hi, can I help you?” she asked. 

“Yeah, Dean wants to see his brother, Sam,” Cas replied. 

“Okay, if you’d like to follow me back to the waiting room-” 

“I want Cas to stay.” Dean’s voice reached them in the hallway and the nurse glanced at him nervously. 

“Sir, it’s not recommended that you have multiple people in the room with you,” she said. 

“I don’t care what’s recommended, Cas stays,” Dean replied, his eyes darkening dangerously, daring the nurse to argue with him again.  

The nurse sighed but nodded reluctantly. “Alright, fine.” 

She left Cas and went off in the direction of the waiting room. Cas came back into Dean’s room and sat back down with a shake of his head. “Don’t be rude to the nurses, Dean,” he said. 

Dean glowered at Cas. “I’ll be rude to anyone that tries to keep you away from me.” 

“Aren’t you two just adorable,” Sam said as he entered the room.

“Hey Sammy,” Dean grinned. 

“I’m glad to see you’re okay,” he said as he came to a stop beside Dean’s bed. 

“You know me Sammy, I’m resilient, no stupid car is about to be the death of me.” 

“Still as cocky as ever, I see,” Sam chuckled. 

“It’s the painkillers,” Dean replied.

Sam snorted but he was smiling. “Only you would make jokes after almost dying.”

“It’s my defense mechanism for dealing with trauma,” Dean replied. 

 Sam chuckled and cleared his throat as he shifted on his feet. “I, uh, I met Ben.” 

“Yeah?” 

“He’s a great kid,” Sam said. 

Dean smiled. “I think so too.” 

“He’s really worried about you.” 

“Well I suppose he should probably come see me then.” 

“Tired of me already?” Sam laughed. 

“Yup, your face is boring,” Dean replied. 

Sam rolled his eyes. “Jerk.” 

“Bitch.” 

Sam left and a few moments later Ben came shyly into the room. “Hey buddy,” Dean smiled. 

“Hi,” Ben replied.

 He paused behind Cas’ chair but Dean gestured for him to come closer. “It’s okay, come here.” Ben moved forward and Dean patted the side of his bed. Ben sat down and Dean smiled at him again.

“You’re really... okay?” Ben asked. 

Dean nodded and Cas watched him suppress a grunt. “Yeah, I’m fine, just dandy. Sorry I scared you like that.” 

Ben shook his head. “You don’t have to apologize.” 

Dean patted Ben’s hand and smiled. “No but I do. I should’ve been more careful, I didn’t really think about cars,” Dean glanced at Cas and then back at Ben. “I was only thinking about Cas.”

“It’s okay,” Ben said. “Cas was in trouble and you wanted to get to him, I understand.” 

Dean marveled at Ben. “How did I end up with such a cool, understanding, kid?” 

Ben smirked. “Do you want me to explain the birds and the bees to you?” 

Dean laughed, even as he winced in pain. “Well one things for sure, you definitely got my sense of humor.”

Ben grinned and stood up. “Mom says that too, she wants to see you, if that’s okay.” 

Dean sighed. “I guess so.” 

Ben left to go get Lisa and Cas took Dean’s hand. “You sure you don’t want me to go?” 

“And leave me alone with Lisa?” Dean gaped at Cas. “No chance, you’re staying right here.” 

Dean didn’t let go of Cas’ hand when Lisa came into the room. She stopped a good distance from Dean’s bed and crossed her arms, Cas could practically feel the icy tension between them. “I’m glad you’re okay,” she said. 

“Thanks,” Dean replied. 

“Ben and I were worried.” 

“I heard, thanks for your concern,” Dean said stiffly. 

Lisa sighed and took a step backwards. “Well, Ben and I should get going, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. We’ll check up on you again in a few days.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay.” 

Lisa’s eyes briefly flicked between Dean and Cas, settling on their joined hands. “Bye then,” she said roughly. 

“Bye,” Dean dismissed her as his grip tightened on Cas’ hand. 

Lisa was quickly replaced by Benny, who grinned when he saw Dean. “Hey chief, you’re you feeling?” 

“Like I’ve been hit by a car,” Dean replied. 

Benny snorted. “I’m glad to see you still think you’re a comedian.” 

“Hey, this time I’m not joking.” 

Benny’s tone shifted to seriousness. “Yeah I know, you gave us all a scare there, brother.”

“I gave myself a scare,” Dean said. 

“Did the doctor’s tell you how long you’ll be here?” 

“Another day or so, they just want to make sure there’s nothing they missed, but then I can go home.” 

“Dean,” Cas said, a thought striking him, “you’re not going to be able to make it up the stairs to your apartment.” 

“Guess I’ll just have to stay with you then,” Dean said through a smirk.

Cas smiled. “I guess so.” 

“Ah, so you’ll finally have that room I told you to get the other night.” 

“Shut up,” Dean laughed. 

Benny put his hands up and laughed. “Sorry not sorry.” 

“If you keep teasing us I’ll let Ellen be in charge while I’m gone from the bar,” Dean said. 

Benny gasped in mock fear. “You wouldn’t.” 

“I would, and I could... but I won’t.” 

“Don’t worry, chief. I’ll keep the bar nice and clean for you.” 

“You better,” Dean said with a glare. 

“Well, I should let you get some rest, you’ve had a long day,” Benny said. 

“Bye Benny,” Cas said as the bearded man backed out of the door. 

The nurse came into the room after Benny left and tried to get Cas to leave again but Dean insisted that he stay. So the nurse made sure that Dean had enough pain medication and was comfortable and then left. 

Cas held Dean’s hand and Dean drifted off to sleep as the medicine the nurse gave him began to kick in. Cas found his own eyes beginning to droop in exhaustion, so he rested his head on top of their enclosed fingers, and let the steady beeping of Dean’s heart monitor lull him to sleep as it reminded him that Dean was fine, that he was alive, and safe. 

Chapter Text

Dean woke with a groan and squinted as his eyes adjusted to the brightly lit hospital room. Everything hurt. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to move, hell it even hurt to blink. There was a pounding ache behind his eyes that beat into his skull like a drum with each pained breath he took. Dean itched to move, to get up and walk around, but with his leg still suspended in the air in front of him, and the awful ache from his ribs, he knew that wasn’t an option. 

Movement to his left brought Dean’s eyes to rest upon the hunched over figure of a familiar messy black-haired man. “Morning sweetheart,” Dean said with a grin as Cas raised his head and blinked sleep from his beautiful blue eyes.

“Morning,” Cas replied, his voice was rough and groggy and Dean was pretty sure it had dropped an octave from his usual gravelly tone. 

“Did you sleep well?” Dean asked.  

Cas sat back in his chair and rolled his neck which gave a satisfying crack before doing the same thing to his shoulders, which also popped, causing Cas to sigh in relief. “I’ve slept better,” he replied with a groan. 

“I wasn’t expecting you to stay all night,” Dean said as he tried to push himself upwards into a more comfortable position, he didn’t get far before pain was slicing through him and he was forced to drop back down into his previous position. 

“Well you wouldn’t let me leave,” Cas said, a joking tone to his voice, more seriously he added, “but I didn’t want to go anyway.” 

Gratitude filled Dean’s chest and he smiled. “I love you, you know that?” 

Cas nodded, his own smiling touching his eyes. “I love you too.”

Cas was just leaning forward towards Dean when there was a knock on the door and Dean groaned inwardly. Stupid nurses and their stupid timing . Cas fell back down into his chair with a disappointed huff as a middle-aged brunette woman came into the room holding a tray of food. Dean’s stomach gave an involuntary growl and he eyed the food, suddenly aware of how hungry he was. 

“Good morning, Mr. Winchester,” the nurse said through a smile as she set the tray down in front of Dean. 

“Morning,” Dean replied as he reached for the spoon resting on the tray. 

“I’ll let you eat and then I’ll be back to check over your injuries,” she said. 

“Okay,” Dean mumbled through a mouthful of oatmeal. It tasted bland and the texture was slimy and thoroughly unappetizing but Dean didn’t care, his hunger won out any disgust he had. 

“I think I’m going to go find myself some food too,” Cas said as he hoisted himself to his feet. 

Dean pouted at him around his spoon but nodded. “Come back?” 

Cas smiled and nodded. “I will, don’t worry.” Cas left and Dean continued eating his breakfast.

 He was scraping the last of his oatmeal from the bowl when the nurse returned. “So, how are we feeling today?” she asked. 

Dean tried to shrug but pain made him stop. “Not great, but not horrible,” he replied. 

“Can you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?” 

Dean wanted to roll his eyes - what was he? A child? - but he resisted the urge and instead answered honestly. “I don’t know, maybe a six.” 

The nurse nodded. “Okay, I’m going to check how your ribs are healing and then we’ll assess that concussion of yours.” 

“Sounds great,” Dean mumbled. 

The nurse pulled the covers off of Dean’s chest and then began to press lightly on the side of his ribs and he grit his teeth as her fingers hit a particularly sensitive spot. When the nurse was done with that examination, she clicked on a small light. “Alright, I just want you to follow the light with your eyes.” 

“Okay.” 

The nurse shined the light in his eyes and then began to move it from side to side. Dean did his best to follow it. “Perfect, good job.” 

“Uh, thanks?” Dean said. He felt uncomfortable under the nurse’s scrutinizing gaze.

“I think you might be able to get out of here today,” she said. 

Dean’s eyes widened hopefully. “Really?” 

“Yes, but it’ll be up to the doctor.” 

As the nurse was leaving, Cas returned, two cups of coffee in his hands. Dean eyed the cups eagerly. “Is one of those for me?” 

“No, they’re both for me,” Cas said with a roll of his eyes, sarcasm dripping off his words. 

“You really are an angel,” Dean smiled as Cas handed him a cup. 

“You keep saying that, but I don’t see how it’s true, I don’t have any wings.” 

“Not all angels have wings Cas. Not all angels have wings,” Dean hummed as he let the warm coffee re-energize his aching limbs. 

Cas chuckled and sipped slowly on his own coffee. “So, what did the nurse say?” 

Dean reluctantly pulled his lips off of the cup to answer Cas’ question. “She thinks I might be able to go home today.” 

Cas looked at Dean over the lid of his coffee cup, his blue eyes sparkling hopefully. “Yeah?” 

“Yeah but the doc’s gotta check on me first,” Dean said before he took another glorious sip of his coffee. 

“So, you’re going to come stay with me right?” 

“That’s the plan, there’s a serious lack of elevators in my building so I don’t see how I’ll be able to make it up the stairs, unless you carried me,” he said with a laugh that immediately turned into a grimace.

“If I tried to carry you I think you’d end up with even more broken bones,” Cas replied. 

“Yeah, your place is probably best,” Dean said. They each took another sip from their coffee and then Dean asked, “So, what did you find for breakfast?” 

“Nothing good, I ended up just having some fruit and a bagel.” 

“That sounds better than the oatmeal they gave me, I’m not even sure it was something that was supposed to be eaten. I’d much rather have had one of your cinnamon rolls,” Dean said as his eyes shut and the memory of the warm dough on his tongue surfaced. 

“Well, once we get you home I’ll make a batch for you, how’s that sound?” 

Dean’s eyes snapped open and his fixed Cas with an incredulous gaze. “Really?”

Cas smiled and reached out to pat Dean’s hand. “Really.” 

“You’re the best, the absolute best,” Dean said with a grin. 

Cas quickly looked behind him at the door and once he was certain there was no one to see them, he leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss to Dean’s lips, a kiss that Dean wished could have been longer and deeper. 

“Should I try and go find the doctor so we can see if you can get out of here?” Cas asked. 

Dean nodded. “Please.” 

“I’ll be back,” Cas said. He squeezed Dean’s hand briefly and then was gone, leaving Dean to stare at the unoccupied chair the blue-eyed man had just vacated. 

It wasn’t long until Cas returned, the doctor in tow. “Now then Dean, your nurse says that you might be fit to go home, but I’m just going to check you out to make sure.” 

“Go ahead,” Dean said. 

The doctor’s hands moved over Dean’s ribs in the same fashion that the nurse’s had before and he was asked to follow the light again with his eyes. When the doctor was finished he pocketed the small light and smiled. “Well, I think the nurse was right, there’s not much else we can do for you, it’s either keep you bedridden here or send you home, and I think you’d probably be more comfortable at home.” 

Dean’s head fell back onto his pillows in relief. “Thank God.” 

“I’ll go get the paperwork for you.” 

Dean watched the doctor go and then turned his eyes to Cas who was beaming at Dean. “What?” Dean asked, even as his own stupidly-large smile spread across his face. 

“I’m just so glad you’re okay,” Cas replied as he sat back down in his chair. 

“You and me both.” 

When the doctor came back he handed Dean a clipboard, which Dean took carefully from him so as not to hurt himself. He quickly filled out the paper and then handed it back to the doctor. 

“Now, I want you to remember that your body needs time to heal, so don’t try to exert yourself too much.” 

“Trust me, I will not be moving if I can help it,” Dean said with a grunt. 

“I’ll be sure to keep an eye on him,” Cas said. 

The doctor nodded at Cas and then moved over to the cloth that was suspending Dean’s leg in the air. Slowly, the doctor began to lower his leg towards the bed and Dean bit his lip to keep himself from cursing. The nurse came into the room, pushing a wheelchair in front of her, and with the nurse’s help she and the doctor moved Dean into the wheelchair, much to Dean’s discomfort, and then handed Cas some fresh bandages along with a list of things Dean should and shouldn’t do while he still had a cast on and instructions for caring for his ribs.

The nurse pushed Dean to the hospital doors and then Cas took over, bidding her a goodbye. “Cas,” Dean said as they neared Cas’ car. 

“Yeah?” 

“Is my car still at the tavern?” 

“I think so,” Cas replied. 

“Okay.” He’d have Benny drive it back to his apartment, unless… “Did Sam go back home?” 

“No, I think he went to your apartment,” Cas said as he parked the wheelchair beside the passenger side of his Bel Air.

Dean sighed. “Give a guy a key and suddenly he thinks it’s his apartment too.” 

“Says the guy who has a key to my apartment and is about to be staying there for who knows how long,” Cas said as he opened the door.

“Shut up,” Dean grunted. 

“Alright, how do you want to do this?” Cas asked. 

Dean slipped his good foot onto the ground and shifted himself as much as he could towards the edge of the seat. “I was thinking you just lift and I’ll stand and we’ll go from there.” 

Cas wrapped his arms around Dean’s shoulders and helped him to his feet. Dean’s vision spun from the pain for a moment but it faded quickly. With his broken leg raised off the ground, Cas helped Dean sit down in the car, easing him gently onto the seat. As soon as Dean made contact with the cushion of the passenger seat he let out a grunt. 

“Are you okay?” Cas asked nervously. 

Dean waved Cas off. “I’m fine.” 

Cas nodded but the concern never left his eyes as he carefully helped Dean put his feet in the car, rotating Dean in the seat as they did so. Finally, Dean was seated as comfortably as he could be with broken ribs and a broken leg, and Cas closed the door and folded up the wheelchair to put in the trunk. 

When Cas climbed into the driver’s seat he said, “Don’t worry, I’ll drive slowly.” 

“Thanks.” As Cas set them forward Dean shut his eyes to push out the pain that the cars vibrations caused to rattle through him. 

When they reached the apartment complex Cas helped him back into his wheelchair and then pushed Dean off towards his room. Once inside the apartment, Dean allowed himself to be wheeled into Cas’ room where Cas parked the wheelchair by the side of his bed. 

“Alright, let’s get you up,” Cas said. 

Dean groaned, his body was already aching just from the car ride but he knew that this was the final push. “Okay, let’s do this,” he grunted. 

With Cas’ gentle arms around him, he stood up and allowed Cas to guide him onto the waiting mattress. Cas propped Dean up on some pillows, pulled a blanket over him, and then planted a kiss on his forehead. 

“I’m going to run over to your place to tell Sam you’re back and to grab you some clothes,” Cas said. 

Dean nodded, exhaustion already causing his eyes to slip shut. “Okay.” 

“When I get back I promise I’ll make you your cinnamon rolls.” 

Dean cracked his eyes open and grinned. “You will?” 

“I just said I would, didn’t I?” 

“You’re too good to me,” Dean said through a sigh. 

“I’ll be back before you even know I’m gone,” Cas said as he turned towards the door. 

“Look both ways before you cross the street!” Dean called after him. 

Cas looked back at Dean to roll his eyes. “I will.” Cas left the room and Dean let himself sink into the pulls of exhaustion.

 

Dean woke up to the sound of laughter and the smell of something baking in the oven. His ears were ringing and his vision was foggy, he had to squeeze his eyes shut a couple of times to get his sight to stop clouding. Once his eyes started working again he shook his head and the ringing in his ears reduced a significant amount, enough for him to make out Cas and Sam’s voices in the kitchen.

“You’re serious?” Cas asked, laughter touching his words. 

“Yes,” Sam said through a cackle. 

“You really jumped off the garage roof because you thought you could fly?” Cas chuckled. 

“It was Dean’s fault, he made me think I could,” Sam replied. “But yeah, I broke my arm and he ended up bringing me to the hospital on the handlebars of his bike, since our Dad wasn’t home.” 

Dean remembered that day, how he’d dared Sam to jump and how it had gone so horribly wrong. He’d been so worried that Sam had done more than just broken his arm, but in the end that wasn’t the case. 

“Cas!” Dean called out, his voice sounded hoarse and his mouth was so dry that he wondered if he’d swallowed a bucket of sand in his sleep. 

The conversation between Cas and Sam quickly died out as footsteps approached the room and Cas entered, his blue eyes piercing Dean like ice. “Hey, you’re awake.” 

Dean grunted. “Yeah.” 

Cas sat down next to Dean and pushed a hand through his hair, Dean leaned into the touch. “I hope we didn’t wake you.” 

“I don’t think you did,” Dean replied. 

“Can I get you anything? Your cinnamon rolls are in the oven.” 

“Mmm, I can smell them,” Dean smiled, he still felt half-asleep, floating on the pain medication he’d been given. “And some water would be nice.” 

“One glass of water coming up,” Cas said. 

As Cas was slipping out of the room Dean saw Sam’s floppy-haired head poke around the corner of the door. “Heya Sammy,” Dean smiled. 

“You feeling any better?” Sam asked as he came fully into the room. 

“You know,” Dean grunted as he pushed himself up against the pillows, “getting shot was no picnic, but I think I’d take getting shot over this.”

Sam chuckled. “So, that’s a no?” 

“Well, they sent me home with a lot of painkillers so those should help,” Dean said. 

“Yeah, let’s hope.” Sam replied. “Cas and I took care of your car by the way.”

“Oh, thanks,” Dean said. So he’d been asleep for over twenty minutes then.

“Yeah no problem.”

Cas returned with his promised glass of water and handed it to Dean, who drank from it greedily. “Thanks,” he said through a gasp as he finished and set the glass on the bedside table. 

“You’re welcome,” Cas replied as he sat down on the bed. “Just so you know, the cinnamon rolls are cooling.”

“I can’t wait,” Dean said as he reached forward to pull Cas’ lips towards his. 

“Aw, come on man, gross!” Sam protested. 

Dean looked out from behind Cas and laughed. “Don’t tell us to get a room, because we have one, and you’re in it.” 

Sam put his hands up defensively. “Fine, I’m going. I need to go wash my eyes out anyway.” 

Dean only laughed and closed the lingering distance between him and Cas as Sam pretended to gag in the background. Cas moaned into the kiss and Dean deepened it, setting them into a steady rhythm. One of Cas’ hands found its way towards Dean’s hair but as Cas’ fingers slid around his skull they touched upon the bruise that was forming on the back of his head and Dean let out a sharp hiss of surprise and pain which caused Cas to pull away quickly. 

“I’m sorry!” Cas squeaked in horror. “I didn’t mean to.” 

“It’s okay,” Dean said even as he blinked away the stars of pain that he’d just seen explode behind his eyes. 

“Are you sure?” 

“Yeah,” Dean replied, giving Cas one of his most reassuring looks. 

Cas narrowed his eyes at Dean disbelievingly but nodded. “I’m going to go get you some more water because I think you need to take some more pain medication.” 

Cas wasn’t wrong, the aching in Dean’s chest and leg were beginning to return along with a killer headache and he was longing for the relief that prescribed drugs would give him. “Okay,” he breathed out.

“I’ll bring you back some cinnamon rolls to go with it, you shouldn’t take pills on an empty stomach.” 

Dean hummed in approval and Cas was off, returning only a few seconds later with his promised glass of water, plate of two steaming cinnamon rolls, and pills on the side. Dean’s mouth was already watering as he took the plate from Cas and when he took his first bite of the warm pastry he let out a deep moan.

“Good?” 

“Marvelous,” Dean mumbled. He took another bite and then licked his fingers and gave Cas a messy grin. “I’m pretty sure you’re the best damn baker I’ve ever met, and dated, in my entire life.” 

“Oh stop,” Cas said, a blush rising to his cheeks. 

“It’s the truth, how many times do I have to tell you,” Dean said as he picked up his half-eaten cinnamon roll. 

“Hey, are you two done canoodling in there?” Sam asked as he peeked a cautious eye into the room. 

“Yeah Sam, you’re safe,” Dean laughed. 

“Look, I hate to leave you like this, but I have to go back home,” Sam said. 

“I figured,” Dean replied. “I can’t keep you from your fiance forever.” 

Sam snorted. “It’s not just Jess, I have to work tomorrow. Unless you want me to stay, because I will if you need me.” 

“Sam, it’s fine. I have Cas.” 

Dean might have imagined it but Sam’s smile seemed slightly sad as he looked at them. “Yeah, you do,” he said. 

“Is something wrong?” Dean asked. 

Sam shook his head. “No, sorry. I’ll call tomorrow and check on you.” 

“Okay,” Dean said. Still unable to shake the feeling that there was something bothering Sam he asked, “you’re sure nothing’s wrong?”

Sam sniffed. “No, I’m good. Take care of him, would ya Cas?” 

Cas nodded and smiled at Sam. “Of course.” 

“Do you have Cas’ number?” Dean asked as Sam turned to go. 

“Yeah, he gave it to me,” Sam replied, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket to prove it. 

“Good,” Dean pointed a finger at his little brother, “you better not forget to call.” 

“I won’t.” 

“Bye then,” Dean said with a little wave. 

Sam returned the wave with a smile. “Bye.” 

“Bitch!” Dean shouted after him. 

“Jerk!” Sam replied without even turning around. 

When the door clicked behind Sam, Dean returned to his cinnamon rolls and as he was stuffing a particularly large bite into his mouth Cas asked, “Why do you two say that to each other?” 

“What?” Dean asked over his mouthful of beautifully baked cinnamon roll. 

“Bitch and jerk,” Cas replied, “I’ve noticed you say it every time one of you leaves or ends a conversation.” 

Dean shrugged and reached for his water. “It’s just what we say, it’s like our goodbye I guess.” 

“No, I think It’s like your ‘I love you’,” Cas said, a little smile playing at his lips.

Dean paused in raising his water glass to his lips. Cas wasn’t entirely wrong. He couldn’t remember when he and Sam started saying it to each other, but he knew that any parting of ways with Sam didn’t feel complete until those two words were in the air.  “Maybe, but you’ll never hear me admit to it.” 

Cas didn’t say anything else, he just watched Dean finish off his cinnamon rolls and then prompted him to take his painkillers, which Dean did not object to. “Now that you’ve had something to eat, I think you should probably take a bath.” 

Dean felt his full stomach turn slightly. This was going to be a problem. “Um, how?”

Cas reached towards the nightstand and pulled off a piece of paper, he held it out for Dean to read. “The doctor left instructions, remember?”

“Ah, right,” the memory came back to him now, the doctor handing Cas the sheet of paper and telling him what was on it. 

“Now, we’re supposed to cover your cast with plastic bags and we can take the bandages off your ribs and replace them after.” 

Dean nodded stiffly. “Okay.” 

“So, I was thinking we get you into the wheelchair and I’ll bring you into the bathroom like that.” 

“Sounds great,” Dean grunted. He hated the prospect of moving again but the thought of sitting in a warm bath made him grit his teeth. “Let’s do this.” 

With Cas’ help, Dean managed to transfer himself into the wheelchair and Cas brought him into the bathroom where he helped him into the chair he kept in there while he turned on the water to fill the tub. 

“Do you want to do the rest of this alone? Do you think you can manage?” Cas asked. 

Dean shook his head. He definitely could not manage alone. “No.” 

Cas nodded and swallowed hard. “Okay.” 

Dean raised an eyebrow at him. “Is someone nervous?” Cas’ cheeks turned red so fast that Dean couldn’t help but laugh. “Come on man, you’re my boyfriend, you were going to see me eventually. It’s only fitting anyway, seeing as I helped you take a bath when you could barely think straight through that damn fever, now you get to return the favor. Now come on and help me get this shirt off.” 

Cas hesitated for a moment but then moved to connect his hands with the bottom of Dean’s shirt. Carefully, he raised the cotton over Dean’s head, and Dean couldn’t help but let out a small yelp of pain, causing Cas to recoil. “Sorry!” 

“Not your fault,” Dean mumbled as he let the shirt drop to the ground. Dean looked down at his bare chest and at the bandages that were circling his midsection. “You said we could take the bandages off?” 

Cas nodded. “Yeah.” 

Dean began to pick at the wrappings and Cas quickly came to his aid, unraveling the white bandages and tossing them aside to expose the purple bruises underneath. “Damn,” Dean huffed as he took in the damage. “That car really did a number on me didn’t it?” 

“It nearly killed you, Dean,” Cas said. 

Dean could hear the tremble in Cas’ voice and he reached forward to move Cas’ head upward, forcing blue to stare into his eyes. “But it didn’t.” 

“I know,” Cas replied, a tear falling from his eye. “But it could have.” 

“But it didn’t ,” Dean repeated. “You saved me Cas. You’re like my guardian angel or something, because the doctors told me that I should have died, that they can’t explain how you managed to bring me back, only that it was a miracle.” More tears slipped from Cas’ eyes and he sniffed. Dean couldn’t stand seeing Cas like that so he leaned forward, despite the protest of his ribs, and brought Cas in for a gentle kiss. “I’m sorry you had to relive what happened with Anna, and I’m sorry that I was the cause of that,” he said quietly after they pulled apart. 

“It’s not your fault,” Cas replied through another sniff as he wiped at his wet eyes. 

“Still, I’m sorry,” Dean said, resting his hand on Cas’ cheek. 

“Thank you,” Cas replied. 

“Alright, shall we get me into this bathtub before the water gets cold?” Dean asked, trying to bring them out of this dangerously sappy situation. 

Cas nodded and Dean began to reach for the waistband of his pants. With Cas’ help he managed to slide out of both his pants and his boxers in one try. Dean smirked as Cas averted his eyes. “Cas,” Dean said with a laugh. “It’s okay. I don’t mind.” 

Cas still didn’t look at Dean as he reached for a plastic bag to wrap around Dean’s cast. Once he’d finished with Dean’s cast he finally looked up, his eyes tracing shyly over Dean’s body. Dean found himself smiling at the slight hungry look that sparked in Cas’ eyes. 

“Do you like what you see?” Dean asked, putting on his most flirtatious smirk as he wiggled his eyebrows. 

Cas blushed red again. “Shut up.” 

Dean laughed, but it turned into a sigh. “Alright, come on and help me up, nurse Cas.” 

Cas’ hands slid over Dean’s bare skin and he was careful not to squeeze too hard as Dean struggled to his feet. A few calculated hops brought them to the edge of the tub and then Cas was gently lowering Dean down into the water. When Dean got himself situated in the tub he let out a sigh as the hot water seeped into his sore limbs. 

“Are you good?” Cas asked. 

“Mhmm,” Dean hummed as he rested his head against the wall. “The water’s perfect.” 

“Good,” Cas said.

Dean watched Cas make his way to the cabinet under the sink where he pulled out a clean washcloth and then headed back over to Dean. He hesitated for a second and then sat down on the edge of the tub, dipped the washcloth into the water and then reached for a bar of soap. He placed the soap bar in the middle of the washcloth and fiddled with it until there were suds forming on the cloth. 

“Do you mind if I…?” Cas gestured to the cloth and then towards Dean. 

Dean gave Cas a toothy grin. “Not at all.” 

Cas began to scrub down Dean’s body with the soaped up washcloth and Dean shut his eyes into the soothing motions. Cas was extra gentle over the tender spots of Dean’s ribs and he appreciated it because, even with the pain medication slowly kicking in, sitting in the tub already hurt. After Cas had scrubbed every inch of Dean’s body he moved onto the shampoo and Dean let Cas’ fingers work in his hair, massaging the shampoo into his golden-brown strands. 

When Cas declared that he was done he drained the tub and then helped Dean out of the slippery tub. He sat Dean back down on the chair and dried him off before assisting him in getting dressed. It took a lot longer to get Dean into a fresh pair of clothes than they had thought it would but eventually it was done and Dean was clothed again and plopped back into his wheelchair. 

Once Dean was back on Cas’ bed he let out a content sigh. “I’m not going to lie, it feels good to be clean.” 

“I’ll bet,” Cas said as he crawled onto the bed with Dean and gave him a light kiss. “You should get some rest, your body needs to heal, and you look exhausted.” 

“Only if you’ll rest with me,” Dean replied through a yawn, he really was tired.

“I’ll be here when you wake up,” Cas said. 

The last thing Dean saw before he let his heavy eyelids slip closed were Cas’ bright blue eyes staring back at him and he was reminded of how he’d held onto those very eyes when he’d been on the edge of death, clinging to life as he bled onto the pavement. Cas’ eyes had been his anchor, the only thing keeping him from drifting off to sea. 

He’d never forget the feeling of Cas holding him, his strong arms keeping him afloat, wrapping around him like the wings of an angel, keeping him safe, telling him that it was going to be okay. Even when Dean had believed in his very soul that this was the end, that he was going to die, Cas had become his reason to live, and so he had fought for each strangled breath, each rise of his broken chest; and Dean had made a promise to himself the moment he’d opened his eyes to see blue staring back at him, he was never going to leave Cas. Cas was the only thing Dean had ever found that was worth holding on to and he’d be damned if he was going to let him go.

Chapter Text

Cas slowly slipped out of bed, careful not to wake Dean, and headed into the kitchen to start making breakfast. It had been a little over a week since the accident and Dean was healing well, but slowly. Basic movement still caused him pain and every wince and groan that he let out made Cas’ heart ache to soothe him, but there was only so much he could do. 

Cas sighed to himself and began to make coffee. He’d decided to cook up some pancakes, which were Dean’s favorite, and so he got to work mixing together the batter. He hummed to himself as he worked, the batter sizzling on the pan like a chorus to his tune. 

When Cas was just flipping the last pancake onto a plate the phone rang, so Cas turned off the stove and picked up the receiver. “Hello?” 

“Cassie? Damn it’s good to hear your voice.” 

A smile broadened Cas’ cheeks at the sound of his best friend's voice. “Balthazar.” 

“Hey Cas, how are you?” 

“Not bad,” Cas replied. “You?” 

“I’m great, dandy, fantastic,” Balthazar laughed. “Hey, are we still on for today? I’m in town like I said I would be.”

Shit was it the 7th already? Balthazar’s letter had been so long ago he’d almost forgotten. “Yeah, today still works,” he said. 

“Great, I’ll pop by your apartment then, unless you’d rather meet at a restaurant or something, your brother mentioned this tavern that might be good.” 

Cas rolled his eyes, classic Gabriel . “Was it The Winchester Tavern, by chance?” 

“Yeah, yeah I think that was the one. So, do you want to meet there then?” 

“No, my place would be best actually. My boyfriend was hit by a car and I’m looking after him, I can’t really leave him alone.” 

“Oh you’ve got a boyfriend have you Cassie?” Balthazar chuckled. 

“Shut up.” 

“Wait, hang on, you said he was hit by a car?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Bloody hell,” Balthazar gasped. 

“He’s doing a lot better now,” Cas said. 

“I’m glad, I look forward to meeting him.” 

“I’m sure he’ll be delighted to meet you too.”

“I’ll see you around noon, Cassie.” 

Cas sighed at the nickname, it was something that only Gabriel and Balthazar called him but he hated it with every fiber of his being. “Bye Bal.” 

“Cas?” Dean’s groggy sleep-filled voice reached Cas’ ears as he was setting down the phone. 

“I’ll be in in a minute, I made pancakes,” Cas called back. 

“Who was on the phone?” Dean asked as Cas was pouring syrup over a large stack of pancakes. 

Cas picked up the plate and headed into the room. “You remember me telling you about Balthazar?” 

“Yeah,” Dean replied through a yawn. 

“He’s coming to visit today, just for a little while,” Cas said as he set the plate down on the bedside table. 

“Oh,” Dean said as he reached for the plate of pancakes. 

Cas wrung his hands together nervously. “I hope you don’t mind.” 

Dean looked up at Cas his brow crinkling in confusion. “Why would I mind? It’s not your fault I got hit by a friggin’ car, you made plans with your old war buddy long before I got hurt.” 

“I’m just making sure,” Cas said. 

Dean smiled at him, green eyes bright. “You deserve some time with a friend anyway, I bet you’re sick of me by now.” 

Cas planted a kiss on top of Dean’s head. “I could never be sick of you. Now, enjoy your pancakes and don’t forget to take your meds.” 

“Yes mother,” Dean teased, causing Cas to smile and shake his head. 

“I’ll be back with your coffee in a minute.”

Dean hummed his approval around his pancakes and Cas went back into the kitchen to retrieve said coffee. He poured himself a mug first and took a few comforting sips from the black liquid before picking up Dean’s mug and returning to the room. 

“You’re my savior,” Dean said as he took the mug from Cas and brought it to his lips. 

“Yeah yeah,” Cas laughed with a wave of his hand. 

Dean set his mug, and now empty plate,down on the bedside table and flashed Cas a smile. “Come here.” 

Cas obliged and let Dean pull him in for a kiss. He tasted like coffee and syrup and Cas hummed into the kiss, letting his eyes flutter shut as Dean’s hands moved over his waist. “Dean,” Cas said through a groan as they broke apart. “I have to clean up before Balthazar gets here, he’s coming in less than an hour.” 

“Aw come on, five more minutes,” Dean whined, his green eyes pleading.

Cas sighed and crawled into the bed. “How can I say no to you?” 

“You can’t, it’s part of my irresistible charm,” Dean replied as he brought their lips close together again. 

Five minutes was over far sooner than Cas wanted it to be but he did have to clean up so Balthazar didn’t think he was a total slob. “Come back when you’re done,” Dean said as Cas was getting up. 

“Maybe,” Cas replied with a smirk as he left the room. 

“Hey!” Dean called after him, a pout audible in his voice. “What happened to you not being able to say no to me?” 

“I didn’t say no, I said maybe,” Cas called back as he began to do the dishes. 

“Hmph, I suppose I’ll let it slide,” Dean groused. Cas shook his head with a small smile as he continued to scrub a plate clean. 

Once the dishes were done, Cas picked up a broom and began to sweep all the dirt and grime from the past week off the floor. After Cas finished the floor, he tidied up the living room and then went back into his room where Dean was still laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling. 

“You’re back,” he said happily, raising his head. 

“I’m back,” Cas agreed as he picked up a stray t-shirt from the floor, one of Dean’s he noted. 

“How’s the cleaning going?” 

Cas bent to pick up a pair of his pants as he said, “Good.”

Dean sniffed and cleared his throat.“Do you, uh, do you think you have a second to help me to the bathroom?” 

“Of course,” Cas said as he deposited the articles of clothing he had gathered into the dirty clothes basket. 

Cas pushed the wheelchair up beside the bed and then reached out to help Dean into it. “Thanks,” Dean grunted once he was seated. 

“No problem.” 

“I hate making you do this stuff for me,” he grumbled as Cas pushed him towards the bathroom. 

“I don’t mind,” Cas replied as they paused in front of the toilet. 

“I just sucks,” Dean grumbled as Cas lifted up the toilet seat for him. 

“I get it,” Cas said. “It’s hard relying on others for basic things, but it’s only for a few more weeks and then you’ll be up and walking again. It could’ve been worse.” 

“I guess,” Dean replied. 

Dean was just finishing wiping down his hands with a wet soapy washcloth Cas had given him, since he couldn’t exactly reach the sink, when there was a knock on the door. “That’d be Balthazar.” 

“Well let’s not keep him waiting,” Dean said. Cas took control of the wheelchair and pushed Dean out into the living room where he left Dean by the couch and went to answer the door. 

A thin, sandy-haired man with a wide smile stood outside the door when Cas flung it open. “Cassie!” Balthazar exclaimed, pulling Cas forward into a bone-crushing hug. 

“Hi Bal,” Cas laughed. 

“How’ve you been doing mate? The years have treated you kindly I see.”

“I’ve been well, and thank you, they’ve treated you kindly too,” Cas replied as he stepped aside to clear the doorway. “Please, come in.” 

Balthazar entered Cas’ apartment and Cas shut the door behind him. “Hi,” Dean said from where he was still seated in his wheelchair by the couch. 

“Ah, you must be the boyfriend,” Balthazar said as he walked over to Dean, extending his hand, which Dean took politely. Balthazar held Dean’s hand for a couple seconds too long and Cas watched Balthazar take in all of Dean’s features. “He’s a handsome one Cassie, you better hold onto him.” 

Dean blushed and Cas shook his head with a sigh. “Bal, this is Dean.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Dean,” Balthazar said. 

“You too,” Dean replied. 

“I was sorry to hear about your accident.” 

“Thanks,” Dean said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. 

Balthazar spun on his heel and began to walk around Cas’ apartment. “So this is where you live, huh?” 

“Yeah,” Cas replied. 

“It’s cute.” 

“Thanks, I guess,” Cas said. 

When Balthazar was done walking through Cas’ apartment he sat down on the couch with a huff and Cas joined him, taking the empty seat beside Dean’s wheelchair. “So, how’d you two meet then?” 

“Well,” Cas began, “Dean’s the owner of The Winchester Tavern-”

“That tavern your brother tried to get us to go to?” Balthazar cut in. 

“The very same,” Cas nodded. 

“Wow, you managed to find handsome and successful in one man, I’m impressed Castiel,” Balthazar said with a chuckle. 

“Oh stop,” Dean said as another blush rose high on his cheeks. “Cas isn’t so bad himself you know.” 

“Yeah, I guess so,” Balthazar replied with a friendly shove to Cas’ shoulder. 

“Hey!” Cas protested. “I was telling you about how we met, unless you don’t want to hear…” 

“No, no I want to hear, keep going,” Balthazar said as he sat back on the couch, blue eyes penetrating Cas’. 

“So, like I was saying, Dean’s the owner of The Winchester Tavern which is the bar located across the street from the bakery I work out. We met when he came in to get... what was it, a pie?” 

Dean nodded. “I think it was blueberry.” 

“I think you’re right,” Cas laughed. “Garth, my coworker, introduced us and that was it.” 

“Yup. Garth’s actually an old high school buddy of mine and he made me wait for a fresh pie Cas was making.” 

“I remember being very confused when he said some customer wanted to meet me,” Cas said with a chuckle. 

Dean laughed. “I never told you did I?” 

Cas tipped his head in confusion. “Told me what?”

“Why I was even in the bakery in the first place,” Dean replied. Cas waited for Dean to continue and he did, “It was because I’d seen you across the street and found you stunningly attractive so I just had to meet you.” 

Cas stared at Dean in surprise. Dean had wanted to meet him from the moment he saw him? “Really?” 

“Yeah, and lucky me, you were single.”

“Well that’s a touching story,” Balthazar said, making Cas turn his eyes back to him. 

“What about you Bal? Have you got a special someone back home?” Cas asked. 

Balthazar shook his head. “Oh no. I’m not quite sure I’m the settling down type anyway.” 

“So,” Dean said, changing topics, “Cas said you were in the war together?” 

Balthazar nodded. “Yup, Cassie and I were in the same platoon.” 

“Dean fought in the war too,” Cas said. 

Balthazar raised an eyebrow. “Oh really?” 

“70th infantry division, 2 platoon,” Dean replied. 

Balthazar frowned in approval. “Your division did good work.” 

“So did yours,” Dean said. 

“I suppose we did, didn’t we?” Balthazar chuckled. 

“We won, so I’d say we all did a good job,” Cas said. 

Dean cleared his throat. “Um, well I think I’ll let you two catch up. Cas, can you help me back into the room?” 

Cas reached out for Dean’s hand. “You don’t have to go.” 

“Nah, I should, I don’t want to intrude, I’m sure you guys have a lot of stuff you’ll probably want to talk about without me around.” 

“Cassie’s right Dean, you don’t have to,” Balthazar said. 

Dean looked from Cas to Balthazar and then shook his head. “I want to, I should be resting anyway.” 

Cas gave Dean’s hand a squeeze. “If you’re sure?” 

“I am, now come on and give me a hand, this wheelchair won’t wheel itself,” Dean grunted. 

Cas shot Balthazar an apologetic look. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Take your time,” Balthazar replied. 

Cas quickly wheeled Dean into his room and helped him back onto the bed. “Do you need anything? Water? Are you hungry?” 

“I’m fine Cas, thanks,” Dean said as his head fell back onto a pile of pillows. 

“Dean,” 

“What?” Dean’s eyes snapped to Cas’ and Cas was surprised to see slight anger there. 

Cas sat down on the edge of the bed, his hand on Dean’s arm. “Talk to me, what’s wrong?” 

Dean looked away from Cas, water shining in his eyes. “I don’t know.” 

“Are you in pain?” Cas asked, suddenly afraid that Dean had been suppressing something that was hurting him.

Dean shook his head, but the shake caused a tear to slip from his eye. “I just…” Dean sniffed and pursed his lips together, fighting the wobble of his bottom lip. 

“Hey,” Cas reached up to run his fingers through Dean’s hair and to wipe away the tear that had just been dislodged. “You’ve got to tell me what’s wrong so I can help.” 

Dean’s eyes shifted downward and two more tears left tracks down his face. “That’s the problem, Cas.” 

Cas canted his head to the side, did he miss something? “What is?” 

“The help ,” Dean sniffed. “It’s only been a week and I’m tired of needing help.” 

“Dean, we already talked about this,” Cas said. 

“I know, I know, but that doesn’t mean I can just pretend it’s not bugging me,” Dean replied. 

Cas rested his hand on Dean’s cheek and smiled softly down at him. “We’re going to work through this, Dean, you’re going to be fitting fit again in a few weeks.”

“A few weeks,” Dean breathed out, his eyes fixating on the ceiling. “It’s not a few weeks, it’s five weeks, Cas. How am I supposed to last another five weeks? I’m going to go mad.” 

Cas kissed Dean gently, smoothing a hand through Dean’s hair.“You’ll make it, Dean, and then it will all just be a bad memory.”

Dean looked up at Cas through wet eyelashes, his green eyes still sparkling with tear drops. “I wouldn’t say all of it is bad,” Dean murmured. 

“Alright, you big softy, why don’t you get some rest now and once Balthazar is gone we can play some cards or something.” 

Dean nodded but Cas noticed the small frown that was tracing his lips. “Okay.” 

“What else is troubling you?”

Dean sighed and rubbed a hand down his face. “It’s Sam.” 

“What about Sam?” 

“I...I think something was bothering him last week, and it’s bothering me that I can’t figure out what. I know that kid, better than I know myself, but it’s like he’s a million miles away and I can’t get to him and even when he calls he’s... distant, like he doesn’t want to be talking to me.”

“I don’t think that’s true, Sam loves you, if he didn’t want to talk then why would he call?” 

“I dunno. But something’s not right, Cas, I know that for sure.”

“Well, did you ask him what was wrong, if there was anything wrong?” Cas asked. 

Dean shook his head. “I don’t know how to start.” 

“Well, think it over and then give him a call, okay?”

Dean sighed. “Yeah okay.” 

Cas smiled down at Dean, kissed him one more time, and then said, “Shout if you need anything, okay?”

“I will.” 

When Cas returned to Balthazar his friend was smirking. “Everything okay in paradise?” 

Cas rolled his eyes. “Everything’s just fine.” 

“So, you did well with life then,” Balthazar said. 

Cas chuckled. “I wouldn’t have thought so a month ago, but now… I think you’re right.” 

“Your letter said you had a few things you wanted to tell me.” 

Cas nodded slowly. “Yes.” 

“I take it these things are bad?” 

Again, Cas nodded. “You remember me telling you about my sister, Anna?” 

“Yes,” Balthazar said carefully. 

“She died just a little over a month ago.” 

Balthazar’s smirk was wiped clean from his face and his mouth dropped into a sad frown. “I’m so sorry mate.”

“Yeah, me too.” 

“How’d she die?” 

“It was a hit and run,” Cas replied stonily. 

“Bloody hell, no wonder you’re so shaken up about Dean,” Balthazar gasped.

“Yeah.” 

“That shouldn’t happen to a person once, let alone twice. But at least Dean’s alive.” 

“Yeah, I keep telling myself that,” Cas said.

“But?”

Cas glanced behind his shoulder at the half-closed bedroom door and lowered his voice. “But what if he had died? What would I have done then? I can’t lose him Bal, I can’t.” 

Realization sparked across Balthazar’s eyes. “Shit, you love him, don’t you?” 

Cas nodded. “Yes.” 

“So then follow your heart, don’t like one little accident push you apart, hell if anything, it should pull you closer together.” 

“But what if he gets hurt again? What if I get hurt? Maybe it would be best if I ended it, just went through the rest of my life not knowing-” 

“Mate, you love him, he clearly loves you, I mean the way he looks at you is telling enough. Letting him go, it would be the worst mistake of your life. Trust me, I’d know.” 

Cas looked at Balthazar in confusion. “What do you mean you’d know? I thought you said you didn’t have anyone back home.” 

“I don’t. But I loved someone once, still do in a way.” Balthazar’s eyes flicked away from Cas’. 

Who had he loved? Or still loved? Balthazar couldn’t possibly mean…? “Me, you loved me didn’t you?” 

Balthazar managed a feeble nod. “It was always you Cassie, I never wanted anyone but you.” 

Cas’ heart clenched in his chest. “Bal, I’m sorry-” 

“You don’t have to say it Castiel, I know you never felt the same way. We had an agreement on the battlefield and I began to have feelings for you, it’s my own fault, I knew it was hopeless. I thought, after all these years, maybe I could change your mind, but I was too late, you’re already in love with someone else.” 

Cas felt like his heart was being shattered. How could he not have known? All this time and Balthazar had been in love with him. “Bal, please tell me you didn’t come all the way here just for me.” 

Balthazar shook his head with a sniff. “No, mate. I told you in my letter, I was visiting family, my cousin Ephrim just got married.” 

Cas nodded. “I see.” 

“This isn’t really how I saw this going,” Balthazar chuckled with a sad huff. 

 Balthazar was right of course, Cas had never once thought of his friend in a romantic way. They’d both agreed on terms when they’d found out each other fell into the ‘queer’ category of things and realized they needed to work off some steam . It was Bartholomew who Cas had had feelings for, but after he’d died he hadn’t been able to bring himself to continue his and Balthazar’s relations; and after their platoons split he’d kept in touch with Bal as a friend, nothing more.

“I’m sorry, I really am.”

“Yeah, me too,” Balthazar said. “Look, I should go, Dean needs you and I’ve kept you from him long enough.” 

“You don’t have to-”

Balthazar stood up abruptly. “No it’s fine. I’ll see you Cassie, Cas , sorry, I know you hate that nickname.”

Cas stood up too, pulling Balthazar back by his shoulder. “It’s okay Bal, really. Stay, I’ll make us some lunch.” 

Balthazar shook his head. “That’s alright. I’ll show myself out.” 

“Balthazar, I-” 

“Cas, it’s fine. I was stupid to even think anything could happen between us. You and Dean deserve each other, I won’t stand in your way.” 

Cas was left to watch helplessly as Balthazar opened the door and disappeared, the only evidence that he had been there in the first place was the faint whiff of cigarette smoke that was drifting in the air. Bal did always love his cigarettes, Cas thought with a sad laugh. 

A small pit was forming in his stomach, he felt almost sick. Balthazar’s revelation was making him rethink every moment they’d shared together, every touch, every look. It made sense now, thinking back on it he could see the longing in Balthazar’s icy blue eyes, the want

With a sigh, Cas made his way into his room where Dean was still laying on his bed. The look Dean fixed him with told him everything he needed to know. “You heard that, didn’t you?” 

“Yeah, thin walls,” Dean replied. 

Cas grimaced in embarrassment. “I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t be, just get your ass over here so I can kiss that damn frown off your face,” Dean said with a small flick of his eyes towards the empty side of the bed. Cas didn’t need to be told twice, so he crawled carefully into the bed and let Dean kiss him. 

Cas was sorry that he didn’t return Balthazar’s feelings, but no one had ever made Cas’ stomach flutter with butterflies in the way that Dean Winchester did. As Dean kissed away his troubles, he realized that Dean was who he wanted to be with, Dean was who he loved, and there was no one else he’d rather have by his side, hurt or not, in sickness or in health, it was always going to be Dean Winchester.

Chapter Text

Dean shifted in Cas’ bed and slowly blinked open his eyes, the room was dark but Dean could just make out the sleeping figure of Castiel beside him. With a groan, he glanced at the clock and saw that it was only 3:23 in the morning. He let his eyes drift to the ceiling, trying to ignore the reason that he’d woken up so early, which was a very full bladder. Dean weighed his options: wake Cas, or try and get to the bathroom by himself. Another glance at the Cas’ rising and falling chest made up Dean’s decision for him, there was no way he was going to bring himself to wake Castiel.

 Very slowly, Dean pulled the sheets away from his broken body and carefully pushed himself into a sitting position. He took a deep breath and then swung his legs over the side of the bed, he was careful to only let his uninjured foot touch the ground, keeping his broken one elevated just slightly off the floor. 

His eyes fixed on the wheelchair that was sitting a few paces away, where Cas had pushed it after he’d helped Dean into bed the previous night. Alright, you got this, it’s not that far, how hard can this be? Suppressing a pained grunt, he pushed himself upwards and, somehow, found his balance. Dean set his jaw and took his first tentative hop in the direction of the wheelchair. The pain that rocked through him after that movement made his vision swim in white, not only did his ribs feel like they were on fire, but his exceedingly full bladder had protested loudly against any form of movement. 

Dean grit his teeth, ignoring the pain, and took another small hop, bringing himself closer to the cornered wheelchair. He repeated the action three more times and smiled happily as his hands touched the armrests of the wheelchair. Okay, okay, you did it, now you just have to sit down, Dean shifted carefully on his foot and managed to turn himself around. Cas rolled over in the bed and Dean froze, afraid he’d woken him, but Cas settled back down again with a sigh, still asleep. 

Dean returned his focus back to the feat he was trying to complete and reached backwards to gauge where the wheelchair was, his fingers brushed over the hard plastic of the armrests again and he took a deep breath. Okay, this is it , he let his arms take his weight and leaned backwards. Dean felt the seat of the chair underneath him for a brief second before the chair slipped away from him and he fell to the ground with a loud thud. 

He couldn’t breathe, pain was flowing sharply through him and his lungs were trying to suck in air but appeared to be unable to. Dean tried to think about what to do but his mind was foggy and he couldn’t seem to form proper thoughts. Suddenly, Dean was squinting into the brightness of golden light and the rustling of sheets followed by the heavy thump of footsteps greeted his ears. 

“Dean! Oh my God, Dean,” Cas’ voice reached Dean as steady hands caressed his face. 

Dean groaned, dammit . “‘M fine,” he mumbled, he didn’t feel fine, not in the slightest, his ribs were burning, his head hurt, and he still really had to pee. 

“What were you doing?” Cas asked as he peered into Dean’s eyes. 

“I had to go to the bathroom,” Dean grumbled, turning his eyes away from Cas’ blue gaze in embarrassment. “I thought I could do it myself.” 

Cas sighed as he pulled Dean upwards into a sitting position. “Dean, you know you’re not well enough to try and do these things by yourself. You should have woken me.” 

Dean grit his teeth in frustration. “You were so peaceful, I didn’t want to bother you.” 

Cas snorted softly. “Dean, I don’t mind.” 

“I do,” Dean grunted. 

“I know, but you can’t let your pride rule you like this. Now, are you in pain? Talk to me, and don’t lie.” 

Dean bit his lip and huffed out a heavy high. “Well, I knocked the wind out of me.” 

“Is that all?” Cas asked as his eyes roamed over Dean’s body. 

“My ribs and head hurt a little bit,” Dean admitted, he couldn’t lie when Cas’ concerned eyes were raving over him. 

“How much is a little bit?” Cas asked through narrowed eyes. 

“I don’t know how to describe it, they just ache,” Dean replied. 

Cas fixed Dean with a sharp gaze but didn’t ask about his pain again. “Alright, let's get you up then.” 

“Please,” Dean groaned, “I think I’m about to explode.” 

Cas’ strong arms wrapped around him and he brought Dean to his feet. Dean stood balanced on his foot as Cas brought the runaway wheelchair over to him and helped Dean ease down into it. As soon as they entered the bathroom, Cas quickly lifted the seat and Dean let out a sigh as he relieved himself. 

“Dean,” Cas said when he handed Dean a damp washcloth to wipe his hands with. 

“What?” Dean asked, he already knew what was coming. 

“Don’t do that again, okay? You’re lucky you didn’t make your injuries worse.” 

Dean tossed the washcloth back at Cas. “Alright, fine, I won’t.” 

Cas nodded at him and then pushed him back into the room and helped him back onto the bed. Cas reached for the light and once they were in darkness again, Dean felt Cas’ head rest on his shoulder. “You scared me you know,” he said quietly. “I thought you’d really hurt yourself. Or worse.” 

“I’m sorry,” Dean mumbled as he rested his head against Cas’ soft hair. 

“I know you are,” Cas replied as he tilted his head to give Dean’s cheek a kiss. “Now get some sleep.” 

****

“Dean, what do you want for lunch?” Cas asked as he opened the refrigerator.

“Whatever you’re cooking,” Dean replied. 

“Grilled cheese sound okay to you? That’s probably all we’ve got, I have to go to the store.” 

“Grilled cheese sounds wonderful,” Dean said with a smile.

Dean watched as Cas pulled bread, cheese, and butter from the fridge and set to work making them sandwiches. Dean settled back on the couch and let his head rest on a pillow Cas had brought out for him from the bedroom. The smell of cooking bread began to fill the apartment and Dean shut his eyes to take in the scent. 

A few minutes later, Cas was standing by the couch, a plate in his hand. “One grilled cheese for the handsome man on my couch.”

Dean took the plate from Cas with a smile. “Thank you.” 

Cas pulled up a chair and sat down beside the couch, with his plate on his lap, and together they bit into their sandwiches. “Dean,” Cas said. 

“What?” Dean asked over his cheesy mouthful. 

Cas pointed to the window. “Look, it’s snowing.”

Dean followed Cas’ finger to the window and saw that large white flakes were falling from the sky. “So, it is,” Dean smiled. 

“It’s beautiful,” Cas said with a small sigh. 

“Yeah,” Dean agreed as he took another bite of his grilled cheese. 

Dean was just starting on his second half of his sandwich when a ring sounded from the kitchen and Cas stood up to answer the phone. “Sam, hi,” Cas said. 

Dean twisted on the couch at the sound of his brother’s name. Was he ready to talk to Sam? Did he really want to know what was bothering his little brother? Or as Cas had put it, if something was bothering him. 

“Do you want me to put him on?” Cas asked. Cas put a hand over the receiver and turned to Dean. “Do you want to talk to him?” 

Dean sighed and nodded. “Yeah.” 

Cas removed his hand and went back to talking to Sam. “Just give him a minute, I have to help move him, he’s on the couch.” 

Cas placed the phone on the counter and then came back over to Dean, who had already moved his legs over the side of the couch. With Cas’ help, he was quickly in his chair and wheeled over to the counter; they’d gotten better at getting Dean into the wheelchair over the past week and Dean was glad for it. 

“I’ll be in the bedroom, okay,” Cas said. 

Dean nodded. “Thanks.” Cas smiled and then left the kitchen, leaving Dean to pick up the phone. “Sammy,” Dean said. 

“Hey Dean,” Sam replied. “How are you today?” 

“Not bad, you?” 

“I’m alright,” Sam said. 

Dean could already feel the tension in Sam’s voice and he sighed, he couldn’t take this anymore. “Sam,” Dean paused with a sigh. 

“Yeah?” Sam asked. 

Dean decided he wasn’t going to try and slow the blow, he was just going to ask. “Sammy is there something wrong? Are you okay?” 

“What do you mean? I’m fine,” Sam replied stiffly. 

“No, you’re not,” Dean snapped. He sighed, composing himself. “I know you Sam, something’s been bothering you since my accident. Now, tell me what’s wrong.” 

“Nothing.” 

“Sam,” Dean said, a warning note to his voice. 

Sam sighed. “I don’t know.” 

“You don’t know,” Dean repeated with a roll of his eyes. “It’s not Jessica is it? Is everything okay with you two?” 

“What? No, Jess is fine, we’re fine.” 

“So, what is it then, Sam?” Dean asked. 

Sam let out another hefty sigh and Dean could almost picture him pushing a hand through his long hair. “You almost died, Dean,” Sam said after a minute.

“Yeah, but I didn’t,” Dean replied. Was that it? “Sam, I’m okay.” 

“I know, Dean, I know. But…” 

So that wasn’t it . “But what?”

There was a rustling noise on the other end of the phone and Sam sniffed. “It’s stupid.” 

Dean was beginning to grow impatient. “Sammy, tell me.”

Sam sniffed again and Dean heard him take a deep breath. “When you were in the hospital, the first person you asked to see was Cas, and I don’t know, it just hit me that you don’t need me anymore, you have him, and I wasn’t going to be the person that you called first when you were hurt or just wanted to talk.” Sam’s voice quieted as he muttered, “I know it’s a stupid thing to be sad about.” 

Wow. Of all the things Dean thought Sam was going to say, that wasn’t it. He forced himself to push away his surprise. “I’m sorry you felt that way, Sammy-” 

“I don’t want you to make up apologies to try and make me feel better, Dean,” Sam said gruffly. 

“I’m not Sam, shut up and let me finish what I was going to say,” Dean snapped. Sam was silent so Dean grunted out a ‘thank you’ and continued. “First off, you’re my brother, I’m always going to need you. Just because I have Cas now doesn’t mean I won’t want to call you to talk, what do you think we’re doing right now?” Dean laughed. “Look Sammy, I know how you’re feeling, I kind of went through the same thing when you and Jess got together, but you have to realize that just because we have other people in our lives doesn’t mean you aren’t still my brother and best friend.”

Sam cleared his throat and when he spoke his voice was full of emotion. “Thanks Dean.”

“Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, are you and Jess planning to join me and Cas for Christmas or are you going to see her parents?” 

“We’d like to join you, if that’s alright,” Sam replied. 

“Of course, but I don’t think we’ll be able to do it at my place, I still have to ask Cas if he’s okay with hosting,” Dean said. 

“Does this mean you’re not going to cook?” Sam asked. 

“No, I hope to, I might be up and around by Christmas,” Dean replied.

“I hope you are, it’s not christmas without your glazed ham,” Sam said with a laugh. 

“Oh don’t you worry Sammy, I’ll find a way to make the ham, standing or not,” Dean chuckled. 

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Sam said. “Alright, I hate to leave you but I have an appointment with a client in a few minutes and I need to prepare.” 

Dean smirked. “Okay you big shot lawyer.”

“Jerk.” 

“Bitch.” Dean hung up and then shouted for Cas.

 “Did you figure everything out?” Cas asked as he pushed Dean back to the couch. 

“He just thought that since I had you I didn’t need him anymore,” Dean replied as he let Cas pull a blanket over him.

“Really?” Cas asked in surprise. 

“Yeah, but I think I sorted everything out. He and Jess want to come for Christmas, is that okay?” 

“Of course,” Cas replied with a grin. 

“Good, because we’re going to have to have it here.” 

“I figured as much,” Cas chuckled. 

“Is Gabriel going to come too?” Dean asked. 

“I’m sure he will,” Cas replied as he pressed a kiss to Dean’s forehead. 

Dean took Cas’ hand in his and let his eyes float towards the window where snow was still falling steadily, causing the white flakes to pile up against the windowsill. Even though he was still badly hurt, Dean couldn’t think of a better way to spend his day than with Cas beside him watching the snow. 

****Three Weeks Later*** 

“Dean, just because the doctor told you that you can use crutches now doesn’t mean you have to swing yourself around the apartment every five mintues,” Cas grunted as he stirred a pot of soup he was making for part of their Christmas dinner. 

“Cas, you have no idea how good it feels to be able to move by myself again,” Dean replied as he pushed himself into the air, swinging between the crutches. 

“Just be careful, don’t hurt yourself again,” Cas said. 

“I am being careful,” Dean retorted as he made his way over to where Cas was at the stove. 

The doctor had said that Dean’s ribs were healing a lot faster than they’d hoped and that they would probably be fully healed within another week, maybe less; Dean’s leg on the other hand needed at least another two weeks.

Dean came up behind Cas as best he could with his crutches and placed a kiss on Cas’ neck. “Dean,” Cas giggled, “I’m cooking.” 

“So?” Dean asked innocently as he kissed Cas again. 

“So, Sam, Jess, and Gabe will be here any minute, I need to finish this soup,” Cas replied. 

Dean groaned. “Fine, but that soup better be worth it.” 

Cas turned and kissed Dean on the lips with a smile. “I hope it will be.” 

Cas returned to stirring his soup and Dean continued swinging between his crutches, enjoying the feeling of being able to move himself around. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door and Dean went to answer it. 

“Dean!” Sam exclaimed. “You didn’t tell me you were out of the wheelchair! When did this happen?” 

“Yesterday,” Dean replied, “I wanted to surprise you.”

“That’s amazing, Dean,” Sam laughed as he pulled Dean into a half hug. 

“It’s wonderful,” Jess said as she kissed Dean on the cheek. “I’m glad to see you up and around.” 

“I’m glad to be up and around,” Dean replied. He closed the door behind Sam and Jess and they deposited their bags of presents on the couch and then Dean directed them towards the table where he and Cas had laid out some drinks. “We’ve got eggnog, cider, coffee, hot chocolate, or just plain water if you want to be boring.” 

“Eggnog sounds wonderful,” Jess said as she picked up a glass and began to pour herself a drink. “What about you babe? What do you want?” she asked Sam. 

“I’ll take eggnog too,” Sam replied. 

While Jess poured Sam his own drink a knock pounded against the door, announcing the arrival of Gabriel. Dean brought himself to the door and let Gabriel in, who entered with a big smile and a flourish of his arms from which festively decorated bags hung. “Merry Christmas!” he shouted. 

“Merry Christmas Gabriel,” Dean replied. 

“You’re looking good Dean-O,” Gabriel said as he patted a hand against Dean’s cheek. 

“Thanks,” Dean replied, stifling a laugh at Gabriel’s boisterous personality. 

Gabriel moved past Dean and stopped a few feet away from Cas. “Alright Cassie, you can’t hide from me all night, come here, give your big brother a hug.”

Cas turned around from the stove with a smile. “Hi Gabe.” 

Gabe spread his arms wide and Cas stepped into them. “It’s good to see you, Dean’s been treating you well, right?” Gabriel asked with a side glance at Dean. 

“Dean’s been treating me just fine,” Cas replied. 

“Honestly, Cas has been taking care of me more than I have him these past couple of weeks,” Dean said as he brought himself to stand beside Cas. 

“Of course he has,” Gabriel replied with a grin. “Now, where’s the eggnog?” 

Cas rolled his eyes and pointed towards where Sam and Jess were standing. “Sam!” Gabriel shouted as he beamed at Sam. “Great to see you again!”

“Good to see you again too, Gabriel,” Sam laughed. 

“And the lovely Jessica,” Gabriel said as he pulled Jess into a hug, almost causing her to spill her eggnog. 

“Hi Gabriel,” Jess laughed once she was released. 

“You know, Dean,” Cas said in Dean’s ear as they watched Gabriel pour himself a large glass of eggnog, “we should put on some music.” 

“It’s your apartment, by all means do it,” Dean replied. 

Cas pressed a kiss to Dean’s temple and then went over to his record player and began to look through his vinyl collection. He stood up after a moment with an album and placed it on the record player. Dean smiled as he heard Elvis Presley’s Santa Claus is Back in Town begin to play.

“Well, it’s Christmas time, pretty baby, and the snow is fallin’ on the ground,” Cas said in his best Elvis impression as the music played. 

Dean laughed at the poor impression. “Was that the best you got?” 

Cas pretended to look hurt. “What? You don’t like my impression?” 

“It could use some work,” Dean teased as Cas slipped his hands around Dean’s waist.

“You should hear Dean’s impression,” Sam said as he walked over to join them, Jessica in tow.

Cas looked up at Dean with raised eyebrows. “Let’s hear it then.” 

Dean sighed and glared at Sam. “Come on, it’s not that good.” 

“He’s lying, it’s spot on,” Sam said, laughter in his eyes. 

“I want to hear it,” Cas said. 

Dean sighed, he couldn’t resist Cas’ pleading doe eyes. “Alright hang on.” Dean set his jaw and put on his best lip curl as he sang out, “Got no sleigh with my reindeer, no sack on my back, you’re gonna see me comin’ in a big black Cadillac!” 

Cas broke into a gummy smile, blue eyes wide. “That was really good.” 

“Thank you, thank you very much,” Dean replied, still imitating Elvis. 

“I told you,” Sam said with a laugh. 

“Yeah alright Sammy, go brag to someone who cares,” Dean teased as he leaned in to give Cas a kiss. 

“Hey, be nice to your brother, he was right,” Cas said before Dean could kiss him.

“Yeah, he usually is,” Dean replied as he finally snagged a kiss off of Cas’ lips. 

“Well,” Cas said when he pulled away from Dean, “the soup is ready if we want to have some of that while we wait for the ham to finish in the oven.” 

“I thought I smelled your ham,” Sam grinned at Dean. 

“I told you I was going to make it, standing or not,” Dean replied. “Now let’s eat before the soup gets cold.” 

Cas’ soup was delicious, a wonderful blend of chicken and vegetables, perfect for the cold and snowy Christmas Day. Soon after the soup they had Dean’s ham, which Sam was very happy about, telling Dean it was amazing with each bite. 

After dinner, they all gathered around the couch and Cas began to hand out presents. “Dean, this one’s for you,” he said as he handed Dean a wrapped box. 

Dean took the present from Cas and tore into it, curious to see what Cas had gotten him. What Dean pulled out of the box made a smile come to his face; it was a nice dark red leather jacket. “Cas, I love it,” Dean said, unable to control his smile. 

“You do?” Cas asked hopefully.

“Yes, I love it so much. It looks expensive, how much did it cost?” Dean asked as he let his fingers slide over the leather. 

“I’m not going to tell you,” Cas laughed. 

“That means it was pretty expensive,” Gabriel said. 

“Shut up, Gabe,” Cas grumbled. 

“Open my present to you,” Dean said as he pointed towards a box.

“When did you have time to buy presents?” Cas asked in surprise. 

“When you went to do your shopping I called up Benny and he helped me out, now open it,” Dean urged. 

Cas didn’t need to be told twice, he ripped off the wrapping paper and pulled out a tan trench coat. “Dean,” Cas said in awe as he stared at it. 

“Don’t laugh,” Dean said, “I saw it in the store and it made me think of you, I don’t know why.” 

“Dean, I love it, I really love it,” Cas smiled. 

Dean grinned, warmth spreading through his heart at Cas’ smile. “I’m glad. It looks like we both thought along the same lines for presents, didn’t we?” 

Cas laughed. “Looks like it.” 

“Alright, alright, who’s next?” Gabriel asked. 

“You are,” Sam replied as he tossed a present towards Gabe. 

Gabe caught the bag and pulled out the wrapping paper to peer inside. “Aw shucks Sam, you shouldn’t have,” Gabriel said as he pulled out a colorful scarf with candy canes on it. “How’d you know I loved candy canes?” 

“Cas told me,” Sam replied. 

“Cas was always a snitch,” Gabriel teased. 

“Hey!” Cas protested. 

“What! You were!” Gabriel snickered. 

Cas shrugged. “Maybe, but you always deserved it.” 

Presents continued to be passed around and Dean ended up with a bottle of his favorite whiskey from Sam, a new hat and a bar of his favorite chocolate from Jess, and a pair of very ugly socks with cars on them from Gabriel; they looked like they could have been found in the kids sections of the store and knowing Gabriel, they probably were. 

“Okay, who’s ready for dessert?” Dean asked. “Cas made another one of his pies, and some sugar cookies.” 

“What kind of pie is it this time?” Sam asked. 

“Blueberry, one of my personal favorites,” Dean replied.

“Mine too,” Gabriel agreed. 

They headed to the table and Cas brought over the pie and dished it out. “Thanks angel,” Dean said as Cas set a plate down in front of him. 

Cas kissed the top of Dean’s head and smiled. “You’re welcome.” 

It was when Cas was about to sit down with his own plate of pie that the phone rang and he excused himself to take the call. “Hello?” Dean heard Cas ask. Cas drew in a breath of shocked air and Dean turned to look at him in concern. “Dad?” Cas asked in a whisper.

Dean nearly choked on his pie. “Did you say Dad ?”

Cas nodded meekly at Dean and Gabriel stood up abruptly. “Cas, give me the phone.” 

“No, Gabe, shut up,” Cas snapped. 

“Castiel,” Gabriel grunted in annoyance. 

Dean and Sam exchanged nervous glances as the two brothers began to argue, but Cas still managed to keep the phone to himself and when he finally hung up he turned back to the waiting table. “Sorry, that was…” 

“Your Dad,” Dean finished for him. Cas nodded again, his face had gone pale and Dean struggled to his feet and hopped over to Cas without his crutches. “Cas, what’s going on?” he asked as he leaned against the table for support.

“Yeah, that’s something I’d like to know as well,” Gabriel snapped as he crossed his arms. 

Cas swallowed hard and his blue eyes found Gabriel. “Dad’s sick.” 

Gabriel let out a huff. “So?” 

“He wants to see us,” Cas continued. 

“Oh that’s rich,” Gabriel snorted. “He abandoned us, Cas, we don’t owe him anything.” 

Cas seemed to grow even paler and Dean pulled him into his arms, Cas went willingly and Dean held him tightly. “You don’t have to go.” 

“I know, but,” Cas faltered, blue eyes swimming with indecision. Cas focused on Gabriel again. “Gabe, he said…” 

“What?” Gabriel asked. “What did he say?” 

“That…that we have brothers.”

Chapter Text

Cas was still replaying the phone conversation with his father- the father he hadn’t seen or heard from since he was ten years old- that he almost missed Gabriel say “I know.” 

“What?” Cas asked, his jaw dropping. “You knew ?”

Dean stepped back from Cas, his eyes flicking nervously between them. “Why don’t you two go talk,” he suggested. 

Yes. Good idea, Dean. “Yeah, come on Gabe, let’s talk.” Without waiting for Gabriel’s response, Cas grabbed his brother by the arm and dragged him into his room, slamming the door shut behind them. 

“Cas, just calm down and listen-” 

“Calm down!? Calm down,” Cas glared at Gabriel, anger pulsing through him. “What do you mean you knew?” 

Gabriel sighed. “Look, Dad contacted me before-”

“What!?” Cas couldn’t believe this, he actually couldn’t believe this. 

“Cas, please,” Gabe said, holding his hands out protectively in front of himself, as if he thought Cas might hit him. He had to admit, he was tempted to. 

“Just talk,” Cas growled. 

Gabriel took a deep breath and fixed Cas with his honey gaze. “Dad called me once, a few years ago, he wanted to see me. I told him to fuck off, but that’s when he told me that it wasn’t just him, that I had two half-brothers that wanted to meet me.” 

“Did you go?” Cas asked over a deep scowl. 

Gabriel nodded carefully. “Yes.” 

“Why didn’t you tell me about them?” 

“Mainly, because we didn’t exactly get along and I just thought I’d spare you the trouble.” 

“What about Dad, why didn’t he call me too?” 

Gabriel shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Cas scoffed and crossed his arms. Of course his father didn’t call him too, Cas was probably the reason he left in the first place. He was the dissapointing gay son and his father didn’t want anything to do with him, well until now.  “What’re their names?” 

“Michael and Lucifer.” 

“How old are they?” 

“They’re actually, um,” Gabriel’s eyes refused to meet Cas’ and Cas felt something drop in his stomach. Don’t say it, don't say it, don’t say it. “They’re older than us, by a couple of years.” 

He said it . “So, Dad,” Cas took a shaky breath.

“Yeah.” 

“I can’t believe this,” Cas spat, his mind was racing at a thousand miles per second and he felt nauseous. Him, Gabriel, Anna, his mother, they’d been abandoned by a guy who already had a family, a family that he returned to, that he was a parent, a father, to. 

“Cas, what exactly did Dad say?” Gabriel asked. 

Cas sighed, his father’s words were still ringing in his ears. 

“Hello?”

“Castiel? Wow, the last time I heard your voice was when you were still a little boy, you sound so grown up.” 

Cas felt something squirm under his skin. That voice, even after all these years, he recognized that voice. “Dad?” 

“Yeah, Cas, it’s me. Cas listen, I’m sorry, about everything. Look, there’s no easy way to say this so I’ll just get to the point. I’m… I’m dying, I’m sick, and I’d… I’d like to see my son again, Gabriel too if he’ll come.” Cas couldn’t bring himself to speak, the shock was still coursing through him like electricity. “I’m not the only one that wants to see you. You have, you have two brothers who are anxious to meet you.” Cas couldn’t bring himself to speak. His father wanted to see him, he was dying, he had brothers, it was all too much. “Cas are you still there? Castiel?” his father sighed. “Look, you don’t have to come, but it would mean a lot. I’m at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Lawrence, room 418.” He paused before he said, “Merry Christmas son” and then hung up.

“That bastard,” Gabriel growled once Cas finished relaying what their father had said. “He thinks that just because he’s dying we’re going to visit him? That we can pretend he didn’t abandon us? Fuck him, he can take his stupid invitation and shove it up his ass.” 

“I want to see him.” 

Cas didn’t know what made him say it, or why he said it, but he knew that he wanted to see his father. Since the moment his father left he’d wanted to see him again, even if it was just to punch him in the face. 

Gabriel stared at Cas like he’d grown three heads. “What?” 

“I want to see him,” Cas repeated, more sure of himself this time. 

Gabriel scoffed at him. “Knock yourself out then, I’m not going anywhere near that man, ever again.” 

Gabriel made to leave but Cas stepped in front of the door. “How can you judge me for wanting to see him when you rushed to him the second he called you?” 

“I didn’t rush to him , I went because I wanted to meet our brothers,” Gabriel retorted. 

“Yeah? Well why do you keep that from me!? Why-”

“I already told you,” Gabriel snapped. “We didn’t get along-” 

“How do you know I wouldn’t get along with them? Maybe it was just you.” 

Gabriel pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “They’re bad people Cas, really bad.” 

Cas swallowed hard and his stomach flipped in fear. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know how I know, Cas, but I just do, okay? Please don’t go.” 

“That’s not good enough for me,” Cas replied. 

“I don’t want you to get hurt.” 

Cas snorted. “I’m going to a hospital Gabe, no one’s going to hurt me in a hospital.”

“I don’t mean physically, well I partially do, but I also mean… I don’t want you to get your hopes up for some perfect reunion-” 

“I’m not.” 

Gabriel groaned in frustration. “I don’t want you to be let down. I’m just trying to protect you.” 

“Well I don’t need your protection!” Cas hissed. “I fought in a war Gabriel, I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself.” 

Pain flashed behind Gabriel’s eyes and he sighed. “I know you can Cas, but that doesn’t mean I can’t worry.” Gabriel took a step towards Cas, his eyes suddenly soft with sadness. “I think I should go.” 

Cas felt the anger fall from his shoulders. “You don’t have to-” 

“I should.” 

“Gabe-” 

“I’m going Cas,” Gabriel pushed past Cas and Cas let him. “Merry Christmas,” Gabriel murmured. 

“Merry Christmas,” Cas replied quietly.

He followed Gabriel out in time to see him bid Dean, Sam, and Jess goodbye and to grab his coat before he left. Dean swung himself towards Cas on his crutches, concern in his eyes. “Is everything okay?”

 “I don’t know,” he answered. Truthfully, everything wasn’t okay, his world had just been blown wide open, and now he knew how Dean had felt when he’d learned he had a son. 

“Jess and I are going to head out,” Sam said, “give you guys some space.” 

Cas wanted to be polite and tell them they didn't have to go, but he couldn’t bring himself to say the words. “Thank you,” he said instead.

Sam smiled and Jess came over to give him a hug. “Take care of yourself, Castiel,” she said. 

“I’ll try,” Cas replied. 

“Thanks for having us,” Sam said. “Merry Christmas.” 

“Merry Christmas,” Cas echoed with a flimsy smile. 

Jess gave Dean a kiss and Sam gave him as much of a hug as he could before they put on their coats. “Sam,” Dean said as Sam was reaching for the doorknob. 

“Yeah?” 

“Don’t forget to call tomorrow.” 

Sam smiled and nodded. “I won’t.” 

“Drive safe, bitch,” Dean smirked. 

“I will, jerk.” 

Once Sam and Jess were gone, Cas collapsed onto the couch and Dean joined him, only wincing slightly as he sat down. “Alright, talk to me.” 

Cas pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes and sighed. “I have brothers, Dean, brothers.” 

“Yeah, I heard,” Dean said. 

“My father’s dying, and he wants to see me,” Cas continued. 

“Do you want to see him ?” Dean asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yes.” 

“So go see him then,” Dean replied.

Cas laughed dryly. “You make it sound so simple.” 

“Well, it is,” Dean said. “If you want to see him, see him.” 

“He abandoned me, Dean. The whole time he was with us, he had another family and he left us and he returned to his other children.” Cas could feel the tears coming now, he’d managed to hold them back when he was talking with Gabriel but now that his brother was gone they were springing free. “What did I do wrong? Why wasn’t I good enough for him to stay?” 

Dean’s arm wrapped tightly around Cas’ shoulders and Cas let himself be pulled into his strong arms. “It’s not your fault.” 

Cas sniffed. “You don’t know that. That’s why I need to see him, I need to understand.”

Cas felt Dean’s lips press into his hair. “Do whatever you need to do.” 

“I think I’m going to visit him tomorrow,” Cas said. 

“Do you want me to come?” Dean asked. 

He did. He very much wanted Dean to come with him, but deep down he knew this was something he needed to do on his own. “No, I think I want to go alone.”  

“Okay,” Dean replied, pressing another kiss to his hair. 

Cas felt the need to apologize. “Sorry.” 

“Don’t be, sometimes you have to fight your battles alone,” Dean said. 

Cas tilted his head up to look at Dean. “Thanks for understanding.” 

Dean smiled and Cas let Dean brush the tears away from his eyes. “You’re welcome, angel.” 

“Merry Christmas, Dean,” Cas said. 

“Merry Christmas, Cas,” Dean replied before he kissed him. Cas let the kiss push away his worries and allowed himself to melt against Dean’s lips. 

****

Cas put his car in park and stared across the parking lot at the hospital. There was a growing lump in his throat and no matter how hard he swallowed he couldn’t seem to force it down. It wasn’t too late, he could still leave, just shift into drive and go, pretend he was never here. No. You can do this Castiel. You have to do this.

Squaring his shoulders in determination, Cas stepped out of his car and walked towards the front doors. He didn’t slow his pace until he stopped in front of the receptionist's desk. “Hello, can I help you?” the woman asked, Duma her name tag read. 

“Um, hi, yes, I’m here to see my father, Chuck Novak,” Cas replied, consciously trying to keep the wobble from his voice. 

“Sure, if you’d just fill out this visitor’s form first that’d be great, and then someone will take you to his room,” Duma said. Cas took the clipboard from her, filled out the form, and handed it back to her. “Great, thank you. Rebecca over here will bring you to your father’s room.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said. 

“Hi,” Rebecca said as Cas came to a stop beside her. 

“Hi,” Cas replied with a faint smile. 

“Right this way,” she said as she turned and began to walk down a hallway. She led Cas upstairs onto the fourth floor and then she came to a stop outside room 418. “I’ll leave you to talk with him,” she said.

“Thanks,” Cas replied. 

He hesitated outside the door, fear and anticipation rippling through him. Drawing in a deep breath, he pushed open the door. The man that was sitting propped up in bed was a lot thinner and grayer than the man that Cas had in his memories. His once brown hair was littered with stripes of gray and his eyes seemed dull, probably due to his sickness. 

“Castiel? Is that really you?” 

Cas nodded. “Yeah, yeah Dad it’s me.” 

Chuck smiled as his eyes traveled up and down Cas’ body. “You’re so handsome. I can’t believe you came.” 

“Yeah, me either,” Cas admitted. 

“So, why did you come?” Chuck asked.  

If there was a time to ask it was now . He took a breath and let it out slowly. “I needed to know why you left.” 

Chuck sighed. “I know you deserve an answer.” 

“Damn right I do,” Cas growled, unable to keep his anger in check anymore. 

“I don’t know what to say, son.” 

“Stop calling me son,” Cas spat. “You never cared about me, you have no right to call me that.” 

“Don’t say that Castiel, I did care about you, I still do.” 

“Then why did you leave!?”

Chuck’s eyes fell to his hands and he sighed. “I love your mother, you and your brother too, but married life just wasn’t working out for me.” 

“So what? So you leave us and then run off to your other sons?” Chuck didn’t say anything but Cas saw the shame crawling up his face in red. “We weren’t the first family you abandoned were we? Gabriel told me that Michael and Lucifer are older than us, which means that you left them too, except they were worth going back for, while Gabe and I were left to pick up the pieces you left scattered across the floor.” 

“Michael and Lucifer’s mother died and they needed me,” Chuck said slowly. 

“You think we didn’t!?” Cas hissed.

“I know, I’m sorry,” Chuck said. He sounded truthful but Cas couldn’t bring himself to believe him. 

“I didn’t come here for an apology, I came here for answers. How many other children do you have? How many other women have you fucked over?” 

“I only have you boys, and Anna,” Chuck replied. “How is your sister? Does she have a husband yet? Kids?” 

Cas took a step back from Chuck’s bed and shut his eyes to stay the tears. “Of course, you don’t know.” 

“Don’t know what?” 

Cas opened his eyes and clenched his jaw in anger. “Anna’s dead.” 

Chuck’s hand went to his mouth. “Oh God. H-how’d she die?” 

“Hit and run,” Cas replied jaggedly. 

“Did they ever catch who did it?” 

“No.” 

“How long ago?” Chuck asked, his voice shaking. 

“About two months now,” Cas replied stonily. 

“How’s your mother doing?” 

“How do you think?” Cas spat. 

“I’m so sorry.” 

“Like you even care,” Cas grunted. 

“I do.” 

“Keep telling yourself that.” 

Chuck sighed. “I understand that you’re mad, and I’m not saying I don’t deserve your anger, I’ve been a horrible father, but I want us to be civil with one another. I want to know what you’ve been up to.” 

Cas couldn’t stop the anger that was boiling under his skin, he felt ready to burst. Horrible father doesn’t even begin to cover it . “So you suddenly care about my life now? What changed in the last twenty-four years that suddenly makes you think you’re father of the year?” 

“I’ve always cared about your life, Castiel.”

“Really? Because I haven’t exactly been ‘feeling the love’.”

Chuck’s gaze hardened and he shifted in his bed. “You want to know what changed? I got a brain tumor and was told I had a few weeks to live, so I wanted to see my sons before I died.” 

“Well, you’ve seen me. Enjoy the rest of your life, and don’t expect a visit from Gabriel.” 

Cas spun on his heel and was about to head for the door when it opened and in stepped two men. They were both blond with blue eyes and stood at the same height, one of them had a slight beard and the other was clean shaven. The one with the beard was holding a coffee cup in his hand and he smiled at Chuck as he held it out. “Brought you something to drink,” he said. 

“Thanks Lucifer,” Chuck replied as he took the cup. 

So this was them, his half brothers, the people he’d been abandoned for . Michael was staring at Cas, his blue gaze questioning. “And you are?” he asked. 

“Castiel,” Cas replied, a little harsher than he’d meant to. 

Michael’s eyes widened. “Castiel?” he turned to look at Chuck for confirmation and Chuck nodded. 

“This is your brother.” 

“Gabriel’s brother too, right?” Lucifer asked. 

“That’s right,” Cas replied. He didn’t like the way they were looking at him, blue eyes like ice, piercing him with cold. 

Michael held out his hand. “Michael, I’m happy to meet you.” 

Cas took Michael’s hand and shook. “Yeah, good to meet you too.” 

Lucifer didn’t offer Cas his hand, but he did smirk at him. “I’m Lucifer.” 

“I figured,” Cas replied. 

“So you’ve heard of us?” Lucifer asked. 

“Gabriel told me about you yesterday.” 

“I see,” Lucifer replied as he rubbed a hand over his beard. 

“Are we going to be seeing more of you?” Michael asked. 

Cas wanted to get to know them, but Gabriel’s words made him wary, there was something off about both of them, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. “Maybe.” 

“Well we live over on Willow Street, number 66 if you ever want to visit,” Lucifer said. 

“Sure, yeah,” Cas replied. “Look, I should be going.” 

“Of course, don’t let us keep you,” Michael said with a smile. 

Cas nodded at them. “Goodbye.”

Cas walked slowly out of the room but he picked up his pace once he was further down the hall. He didn’t know what he had expected out of his father but it wasn’t the remorse he had been confronted with. Cas didn’t regret his words, he meant them, but he couldn’t help but wonder what his life might have been like had his father stuck around. One thing was for sure, he wasn’t going to be visiting him again, he hadn’t gotten all of his answers but he’d got enough. 

 

By the time Cas got back to his apartment the sun was starting to set and he was tired. Dean greeted him from the couch and put down a book he’d been reading. “So? How’d it go?” 

“Alright, I guess,” Cas replied. “I met my brothers.” 

“And?” 

“They’re… different than I expected.” 

“In a good way or a bad way?” Dean asked. 

“I’m not sure.”

Dean’s green gaze softened. “Are you okay?” 

Cas sat down on the couch and rested his head on Dean’s shoulder. “I don’t know.” 

Dean pulled Cas close and took his hand. “Well, take your time to figure it all out. I’m here for you, whatever you need. ” 

“I know,” Cas replied. “Thanks.” 

“I love you,” Dean said as he brought Cas’ hand to his lips to kiss. 

“I love you too,” Cas replied with a small smile.

Cas curled up into Dean, mindful of his still-healing ribs and let Dean’s hands card soothingly through his hair, smoothing away his troubles, his fears, his worries, and reminding him that even though his father might not love him, he was, in fact, loved.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Cas!” Dean shouted as he pulled out a batch of muffins he’d made from the oven, “breakfast!”

Cas emerged from the bedroom, his hair sticking up in places and his blue eyes glazed from sleep. “You made muffins?” Cas asked in surprise as Dean set the muffins on the table. 

“What? I can bake too,” Dean replied. “I’m sure they’re not as good as yours but they’re probably edible.” 

“Probably?” Cas laughed as he sat down at the table. 

“Yeah, probably ,” Dean replied as he kissed Cas quickly on the cheek.

Dean watched Cas pick up a muffin and take a bite of it. “Hmm, not bad.” 

“Yeah?” 

Cas smiled, his teeth purple from the blueberries. “Yeah.” 

Dean eased himself into a chair beside Cas and picked up his own muffin. “So, how are you doing this morning?” 

Cas shrugged over a sigh. “Alright I suppose.” 

“You sure?” 

“I’m okay, Dean.” 

Dean nodded, picking up that Cas was definitely not in the mood to talk about his brothers or his father. “Okay.” 

Cas’ eyes softened and he reached out for Dean’s hand, Dean let him take it. “I just need time.” 

“Hey, I get it,” Dean said with a laugh. “We both have family members that were kept secrets from us, that’s not something you fully accept after one day.” 

“Yeah,” Cas mumbled in agreement. 

“So, are you going to work today?” Dean asked as he reached for another muffin, they really weren’t half bad. 

“Yeah, Naomi will kill me if I miss another day,” Cas replied. 

Dean rolled the muffin over in his hand, eyes fixed on a blueberry that was buried in the cooked batter. “Thanks for taking time off to look after me Cas, I couldn’t have done this alone.” 

The sides of Cas’ mouth twitched with the beginnings of a smile. “You’re welcome, Dean.” They ate in silence until Cas stood up. “I better get ready for work.”

“I’ll clean up,” Dean said as he picked up his empty plate and the leftover muffins. 

“Thanks,” Cas replied. 

 

Dean was finished with the few dishes by the time Cas emerged from the bedroom. Cas came straight for Dean and kissed him. “You’ll be back after six right?” Dean asked. 

“Right,” Cas replied. 

Dean kissed Cas this time, holding him there for a few seconds. “I love you.” 

“I love you too.” Cas shrugged into his coat and then offered Dean a smile. “Be careful here, okay?” 

“I will,” Dean promised. 

Cas nodded. “Good.” 

“Bring me home a pie,” Dean said with a smirk. 

Cas laughed. “Any particular flavor you’re in the mood for?” 

“Surprise me.” 

“Okay,” Cas grinned. 

“Bye,” Dean waved. 

“Bye.” 

The door shut behind Cas and Dean sighed as he leaned against his crutches. There was hardly a moment of silence before the phone on Cas’ counter rang. Dean swung himself towards it. 

“Castiel Novak’s residence, Dean Winchester speaking.” 

“Dean,” Lisa’s voice crackled across the line. 

“Lisa? How’d you get this number?” 

“Sam.” 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Of course you did. What do you want Lisa? Is it Ben? Is he okay?” 

“Ben’s fine,” Lisa replied. “But he wants to see you. We were wondering if we could come for a visit?” 

Dean sighed. Might as well, it’s not like he’s doing anything . “Yeah, sure.” 

“Great, we’ll see you in twenty minutes.” Lisa hung up and Dean was left to make his way to the couch to wait. 

 

True to her word, twenty minutes later there was a knock on the door. “Come in!” Dean called. Lisa and Ben stepped into the apartment, lightly dusted in snow. “Cold out?” he asked Ben. 

Ben nodded, suppressing a shiver. “Yeah.”

Dean pushed himself to his feet and got his crutches under his arms. “How about some hot chocolate then?”

Ben grinned. “I’d like that.” 

“Lisa?” Dean forced himself to ask. 

“No, I’m fine, thanks,” Lisa replied, she still hadn’t moved from the doorway. 

Dean turned the stove on and set the kettle down on top of one of the burners. “You sure?”

“I’m sure, thanks,” Lisa replied stiffly. 

Dean shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

“Look, maybe I should just leave you two alone,” Lisa said. “If that’s okay?” 

Dean nodded slowly. “If you want to go, that’s fine, if you want to stay, that’s fine too.” 

“I’ll go for a little while, I’ve got some shopping to do anyway,” Lisa replied. “Be good Ben, don’t cause Dean any trouble.” 

Ben smiled. “I won’t.”  

Lisa was gone in a blink and then it was just him and Ben. “I’m sorry,” Dean said. 

“For what?” Ben asked as he fell onto the couch. 

“That your mom and I don’t get along,” Dean replied. 

Ben shrugged. “It’s okay.” 

Dean shook his head with a small smile. “You’re surprisingly cool about all this.”

Ben peeked over the edge of the couch. “A month ago, I never thought I’d get to meet my father. Just because you and my mom don’t get along doesn’t mean I’m going to let that stop me from getting to know you.” 

“You’re pretty awesome, you know that?” Dean said with a laugh. 

“Thanks, you are too,” Ben replied.

The kettle whistled behind Dean and he turned to pour them both cups of hot chocolate. “You’re going to have to come get it, I can’t exactly bring it to you.” 

Ben came over and took both their mugs and brought them to the kitchen table. Dean joined him and he took a sip of his hot chocolate. “Thanks,” Ben said over the rim of his mug. 

“Yeah.” They sipped quietly at their drinks from a minute before Dean asked, “Do you want to continue our Q and A from when we first met? I’m sure you still have some burning questions.” 

“A few,” Ben replied. 

“Such as?” 

“My mom never tells me any stories about when you were together. She avoids talking about you as much as she can.” 

“Well, what do you want to know?” 

“How’d you meet?” 

Ben sounded eager, his eyes hopeful, as he held his mug tightly in his hands. Dean smiled, a fond memory flashing behind his eyes. “She never told you?” 

Ben shook his head. “No.” 

“Well then, I guess I’ll have to.” Dean sighed. “Your mother was the prettiest girl in school, by a long shot, I never thought I had a chance. It all started at lunch one day.”

 

“Dean? Are you listening to me?” Garth asked as he shoved his sandwich into his mouth. 

Dean tore his eyes away from the brunette girl that was sitting across the lunch room. “Yeah, sorry, what were you saying?” 

Garth rolled his eyes, taking another bite of his sandwich. “Just go talk to her hombre.” 

Dean shook his head. “No way.” 

“Amigo, she’s been staring at you just as much as you’ve been staring at her.” 

“Really?” Dean asked, hope tightening in his chest. 

“Yeah really. Why don’t you ask her to the dance that’s coming up on Friday?” Garth suggested. 

“Do you think she’d go with me?” Dean asked, sparing another look at her. “What if she’s already got a date?” 

“You won’t find out if you don’t ask,” Garth replied. 

Dean wanted to ask, God did he want to ask, but the nerves eating at his insides worked to deter him. “I don’t know, Garth.” 

Garth put down his sandwich and fixed Dean with a sharp stare. “If you don’t do it, I will.” 

Fear jerked through Dean. “What?” 

“If you don’t go and talk to her, I will go over there myself and tell her just how much you’ve been thinking about her,” Garth said, his eyes hard with his threat. 

“Y-you wouldn’t,” Dean stammered. 

“I would and I will,” Garth retorted, tone sharp. 

No. If she was going to find out that he liked her she was going to hear it from him, not his best friend. “Alright, I’ll go.” 

Garth grinned at him, proud that he’d won. “Good.” 

“How do I look?” Dean asked as he ran a hand through his hair. 

“Anxious and terrified,” Garth replied. 

“You’re not helpful,” Dean growled. 

“Just go get her tiger.” 

“Okay, okay, I’m going.” 

Dean stood up and stuffed his shaking hands in the pockets of his leather jacket before heading over to where the prettiest girl in school was sitting with her friends. A few of them started whispering and pointed in his general direction, but Dean forced down the panic in his chest, that was threatening to activate his flight response, and steeled himself. 

“Uh.” Dean cleared his throat and started again, “Hey Lisa.” 

Lisa turned around, her brown eyes latching onto his green ones. “Hey Dean,” she replied through a smile. 

“Look, Lisa, I was wondering, uh,” Dean trailed off and ran a hand over the back of his head. Just ask her dammit. Fucking man up and ask her. “I was wondering if you’d like to go with me to the dance on Friday.” 

The girls around Lisa’s table began to giggle but Lisa ignored them, her smile widening. “I’d love to.” 

“Really?” Dean asked, not quite sure he’d heard her right. 

“Yes really,” Lisa replied with a small laugh. 

Yes! “Uh, great, I’ll pick you up at seven then.” 

Dean turned to go but Lisa stopped him, another laugh falling gracefully out of her mouth. “Don’t you need my address first?” 

Shit . Dean, you fucking idiot. “Oh, yeah right.” 

Lisa pulled a piece of paper from a notebook by her lunch tray and wrote out her address. “Here.” 

“Thanks,” Dean replied with a loopy grin. 

“I’ll see you at seven on Friday.” 

“Yeah, see you,” Dean said as he started to back away. 

He returned to Garth with a giddy smile framing his face. “I take it you didn’t strike out.” Garth said. 

“Home run,” Dean said with a happy laugh as he held up the paper for Garth to see. 

“See, what’d I tell ya, she likes you too,” Garth replied. 

“Yeah, you were right, okay? Shut up.” 

“Lisa Braeden,” Garth said with a sigh as he looked over at where Lisa had resumed laughing with her friends. “You did well, hombre, you did well.” 

****

“How do I look, Sammy?” Dean asked as he turned around in front of the mirror. 

“Amazing,” Sam replied, his eyes tilting upwards to take in his older brother. 

Dean was dressed in jeans and a gray button down shirt with a tie, he’d combed his hair and was wearing his best shoes.

“You think?”

“You look great,” Sam said. 

Dean grinned. “Thanks.” 

“Dean! Are you leaving or what!?” his father’s harsh voice sounded from downstairs. 

“I’m coming!” Dean called back. 

“Take care, Sammy,” Dean said, pulling Sam into a hug. 

“Will you me all about the dance tomorrow?” Sam asked. 

“Sure thing,” Dean replied as he ruffled Sam’s hair. 

“Promise?” Sam asked, his lips drawing themselves into a pout as his eyes filled up with doubt. 

“I promise,” Dean laughed. 

“DEAN!” his father shouted. 

“Coming! Coming!” Dean called back. 

Leaving Sam behind, Dean practically ran down the hallway and down the stairs to where his father was waiting angrily, car keys in his hands. “Now, you drive carefully son, there better not be a scratch on her, and don’t be home a minute after eleven.” 

Dean squared his shoulders and met his father’s hard gaze. “Yes sir.” 

He held out the keys for Dean and Dean took them. “Thank you, sir.”

“Be safe now.” 

“I will, Dad,” Dean replied as he pushed open the front door. 

 

When Dean arrived at Lisa’s the hands on his watch were just beginning to point at seven. He took one last look at himself in the mirror of his father’s car and then stepped outside. He walked slowly up the front walkway to the door and raised his fist to knock. The second his hand touched the door it flew open and Dean was greeted by Lisa’s mother and father. 

“Hello,” her mother said warmly. 

“Hi,” Dean replied, trying to swallow his nerves. 

“You must be Dean,” Lisa’s father said. 

“Yes sir.” 

“Well why don’t you come in for a minute,” her mother offered. 

“Thank you,” Dean replied. 

He stepped into Lisa’s house and her father offered him his hand. “Frank Braeden,” he said. 

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Braeden,” Dean said politely. 

“I’m Nancy,” Lisa’s mother said. 

“So, you’re taking my daughter the dance are you?” Frank asked, something that could have been a warning weighed down his tone. 

“Yes, sir,” Dean answered as easily as he could despite the feeling of his throat starting to close up. 

“Don’t patronize the poor boy,” Nancy said. 

“I wasn’t,” Frank retorted. 

Nancy took Dean’s arm and led him into the kitchen. “I’m sorry about him, he’s just protective.” 

“It’s alright,” Dean replied. 

“Would you like some water?” Nancy offered. “Lisa will be down in a minute.” 

“Water would be nice, thank you,” Dean said. His mouth was dry enough to be a desert. 

Nancy handed him a glass of water and Dean forced himself to sip at it slowly. “So, Dean,” she said as Frank appeared in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe, causing Dean’s skin to crawl with fear. 

“Yes?” he asked. 

“Tell us about yourself,” Nancy said as she sat down in one of the kitchen chairs. 

“Uh, well,” Dean cleared his throat and took a long drink from his glass of water, trying desperately to stall. 

It worked, because while Dean was still downing his water, footsteps sounded on the wooden stairs and Dean stood up to see Lisa, dawning a radiant silver dress and a sparkling necklace, with her hair tied up in a twist. 

“Hi Dean,” Lisa smiled as she reached the bottom of the stairs. 

“H-hi,” Dean stammered. “You look amazing.” 

“Thanks,” Lisa replied, “you don’t look so bad yourself.” 

“Thanks,” Dean blushed. 

“Shall we go then?” she asked. 

“Uh, yes,” Dean replied. 

“You two kids have fun!” Nancy called. 

“We will,” Lisa promised. She linked her hand around Dean’s arm and pulled him towards the door. 

Once outside, Dean let out a heavy breath and Lisa laughed. “What?” Dean asked. 

“Nothing, just… I’m sorry about my parents,” she said. 

“That’s okay,” Dean replied as he opened the passenger side door for her. 

“Thank you,” Lisa said as she stepped into the car. 

 

The drive to the school was short and so when they arrived, Dean offered Lisa his hand and helped her from the car. Lisa kept ahold of his hand as they entered the school and Dean liked the feeling of her fingers around his. 

The school gym was decorated with lights and a band was playing music on a raised platform that was substituting for a stage. Dean’s eyes moved over the couples that were currently dancing and Lisa laughed over the music. “Are you going to ask me to dance or are we just going to stand here all night?” 

Dean cleared his throat and smiled. “No, sorry. Lisa, would you like to dance?” 

“Yes,” Lisa grinned. 

Dean swung her out onto the dance floor and let his hands rest on her hips. The music turned slow but upbeat and Dean pulled Lisa into an easy four-square dance. “Wow,” Lisa laughed as Dean led her in the dance. “Who taught you to dance? Your father?” 

Dean shook his head. “I taught myself.” 

“You’re good,” she giggled as Dean leaned her down in a dip. 

Warmth spread through Dean and he was glad the lights were low so Lisa wouldn’t see him blush. “Thanks.” 

They danced and swayed all night and as the music was fading Dean decided to take his chances and leaned in for a kiss. 

 

“And that was it,” Dean said with a sigh as he took another sip of his hot chocolate. 

“Wow,” Ben breathed. 

“Was it like you imagined?” Dean asked with a laugh. 

“Yes and no,” Ben replied.

Dean shrugged. “Well, we dated for three-ish years and then after High School I enlisted, and she ended it.” 

“If you didn’t go to war, do you think my mom would have still broken up with you?” Ben asked. 

“Honestly, I don’t know, that’s a question for her,” Dean replied, again distracting himself with a mouthful of warm chocolate. 

“She never tells me anything.” 

“Well she should,” Dean replied sharply. “You’ve got a right to know this stuff.” Dean downed the rest of his drink and then heaved himself to his feet. “What do you want to do now? I can teach you a card game if you’d like while we wait for your mother.” 

“I think I would like that,” Ben said as he picked up his mug and Dean’s and put them in the sink. Dean smiled at him, still hardly daring to believe that a kid like Ben was his son. 

Dean led them to the couch and pulled out a deck of cards. “Alright, this is called blackjack.” 

 

They played for about an hour or so until Lisa came back and then Ben had to go. “Bye Dean,” he said. 

“Bye,” Dean replied. 

“Come on, Ben. Let’s go,” Lisa said, her voice hollow.

Ben turned towards the door but then suddenly turned back to where Dean was balanced on one foot in front of the couch. He stepped forward tentatively and then wrapped his arms gently around Dean’s waist. Dean smiled and let his arms close over Ben, one hand on his head the other on his back. 

“Thank you,” Ben said. 

Dean nodded. “You’re welcome, come any time.” 

Ben stepped away from Dean and then moved back over to his mother who put an arm around his shoulder and said, “Thanks for having him,” before she steered him out of the door and Dean fell back onto the couch with a heavy sigh. 

 

When Cas returned, Dean was making them a pasta dinner. “Smells good,” Cas said as he came over to give Dean a kiss. 

“Thanks,” Dean replied. 

“I brought pie,” Cas said as he set down a box on the table. 

Dean eyed the box and then returned his gaze to Cas. “Mmmm, thank you.” 

“Don’t ask what kind it is, you’ll find out,” Cas said. 

Dean pushed his lips into a pout but Cas kissed it away. “Okay, okay, I won’t.” He turned back to the pasta on the stove and reached for two bowls. “Dinner is ready.” 

“Good, I’m starving,” Cas said. 

“How was work?” Dean asked as Cas set the two plates on the table and they sat down. 

“Good,” Cas replied with a shrug. 

“How’s Garth been doing? I haven’t seen him since before the robbery.” 

“He’s alright, he’s had time to cope.” 

“I never really asked how you were doing since then,” Dean said, guilt causing him to lower his eyes to his pasta. 

“I’m fine, I wasn’t the one with a gun shoved in my face,” Cas replied. 

“Fair enough,” Dean said. 

“What about you? What did you do today?” Cas asked, turning the topic to Dean. 

“Ben came to visit,” Dean replied. 

“Oh?” 

“Yeah, it was good, I told him some stories about me and Lisa and I taught him blackjack.” 

Cas smiled as he raised his fork to his lips. “I’m glad you two are getting along.” 

“Me too,” Dean said through a small smile. 

 

After dinner Cas opened the pie, which was cherry -another of Dean’s favorites- and they ate in content silence. As Cas was swallowing his last bite of pie he said, “I know it’s early, but I think I’m going to go to bed.” 

“I’m pretty beat too,” Dean said. “I think I’ll join you.” 

They left the dishes for the morning and headed to the bedroom where Dean watched Cas toss his clothes aside and slip into his pajamas before climbing into bed, his eyes already falling shut. Dean joined him in a slower fashion but as soon as he was under the covers, Cas was gently wrapping his arms around Dean and soon they were asleep. 

 

***Five days later***

“Dean! Dean! Where are we going!” Cas laughed as Dean pulled him forward at a run. 

“I can finally walk again, Cas, we’re going for a run!” Dean shouted over his shoulder. 

“Slow down!” Cas giggled. 

“Come on, it’s New Years Eve, and there’s only ten minutes to midnight, we won’t make it if we don’t run!” 

“Make it where!?” Cas asked. 

“You’ll see!” Dean replied.

Dean didn’t let the tightness in his chest stop him from continuing in pulling Cas forward with him until he finally came to a stop outside the park gates. “The park?” Cas gasped through heavy breaths. 

“Come on,” Dean linked his fingers with Cas’ and led him into the park. A glance at his watch showed him he still had three minutes. 

“Dean, won’t someone see?” Cas asked in a low whisper as they neared a group of people who were chatting quietly. 

“I don’t care who sees,” Dean replied, and he meant it. “Other couples are allowed to come to the park on New Years Eve with their significant others, why can’t we?” 

“If you’re sure-” 

“I’ve never been more sure of anything,” Dean replied as they came to a stop by the bench Dean had first taken Cas to. One minute . “Cas,” Dean said as his watch counted down the seconds to the new year. 

“Yes Dean?” Cas asked, his blue eyes glowing in the lights of the park. 

“I know I keep saying it, but thank you for looking after me this past month.” 

Thirty seconds

“You’re welcome,” Cas replied. 

“I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.” 

“You don’t have to,” Cas said softly, their lips merely centimeters apart. 

Ten seconds

“I love you.” 

“I love you too,” Cas whispered. 

Dean pulled Cas into a warm kiss as the hands on his watch struck twelve, January 1st, 1960, New Years Day. “Happy New Year,” Dean said against Cas’ lips. 

“Happy New Year, Dean,” Cas replied.

Chapter Text

Cas rolled over in bed, exhaustion pulling at his eyes. He couldn’t sleep, and he knew why. For once it wasn’t his nightmares. Tonight, it was because of the serious lack of Dean Winchester in his bed and the empty cold spot beside him was keeping him from managing to get some much needed shut eye. 

Dean had gone home to his own apartment now that he could actually climb the stairs and Cas missed him terribly. Dean hadn’t slept in Cas’ bed for a week and Cas had probably gotten maybe four hours of sleep in that span of time. It was getting ridiculous. He couldn’t get comfortable in any position and he’d end up staring at the ceiling until daylight started to poke through his curtains. 

Cas looked over at his clock: 2:45 A.M. it read. That’s it, I give up . With a grunt, Cas pushed himself out of bed, slipped on his shoes, pulled his new trench coat -that Dean had given him - over his shoulders and stormed out of his apartment, slamming the door behind him. 

He trudged through the slushy snow, that was splashed across the street, and pushed his way into Dean’s apartment complex. He took the stairs three at a time and then came to a breathless halt outside of Dean’s door. He pounded on it so hard he thought he might punch a hole through the wood. 

It took a minute, but Dean finally pulled open the door, his hair was ruffled and sticking up in places but his eyes looked clear, not troubled by sleep. “Cas?” Dean asked in surprise. “Is everything okay?” 

Cas pushed himself into Dean’s apartment, closing the door behind him, and shoved Dean up against the wall, smashing his lips into Dean’s. “No,” he breathed against Dean’s mouth. “Everything is not okay.” 

Dean grunted against Cas, Dean’s surprise fading as he hungrily pulled Cas in for another kiss. “Well, whatever’s gotten into you, I like it.” 

“Sleep deprivation is what’s gotten into me,” Cas growled. 

“You too, huh?” Dean laughed. 

Cas paused in his exploration of Dean’s mouth to stare at him. “You haven’t been sleeping well this past week either?” 

Dean shook his head numbly. “Hardly a wink.” 

“Why didn’t you say anything!?” Cas howled in exasperation. This whole time their problem could have been solved.

“Why didn’t you?” Dean threw back.

“Fair point,” Cas said over a pout. Cas went back to kissing Dean, their mouths working against each other like they’d been starved of touch for longer than the previous day. “Bed’s too empty without you,” he murmured over Dean’s lips.

Dean moaned against Cas’ mouth. “Yeah, I was running into the same issue.” 

“Looks like we’ll have to fix that,” Cas said, his voice a low growl. 

“Uhuh,” Dean mumbled as Cas kissed his neck. Dean’s hands roamed over Cas’ back and his hair as he began to walk them backwards towards Dean’s bedroom, still joined at the mouth. “God that trench coat looks so good on you,” Dean said as they stepped over the threshold of his room. 

“I should hope so, it’s my favorite jacket,” Cas replied. 

“Oh yeah? Where’d you get it?” Dean asked, his tongue flicked out to wet his lips as his eyes hungrily rippled over Cas’ body. 

“My boyfriend.” 

“Hm, he’s got great taste.” 

“Yeah, you should meet him sometime,” Cas said, a smirk on his lips. 

“Mm, I’d love to,” Dean grunted as he pulled Cas flush against his hips. 

“I know you like the coat, but I’ll have to remove it if we’re going to be getting into bed,” Cas said. 

“It won’t look as amazing on the floor as it looks on you, but I suppose you should probably take it off,” Dean replied. 

Cas shrugged out of the coat and let it fall to the ground, Dean’s eyes followed each movement, eyes licking over Cas’ body like flames at a log. Cas wanted to shiver under Dean’s gaze but he felt a warm wave wash over him instead. “If you don’t come over here and kiss me right now I will tackle you to the floor.” 

Dean paused, a smirk telling Cas he was weighing his options. Dean decided to push Cas onto the bed instead and crawl on top of him as their lips met in a heated kiss. Cas grunted in surprise but he wasn’t complaining as Dean continued to kiss him senseless. 

 

They more or less fell asleep on top of each other, a tangle of limbs and sheets, but Cas finally got a good night's rest, the sturdy frame of Dean’s body against his allowing him to lapse into much needed rest. Cas woke to find his head resting on Dean’s chest while the green-eyed man slept. He didn’t want to get up, so he snuggled closer against Dean’s body and felt Dean shift under him and wrap his arms around Cas’ waist, hugging him tight.  

“Morning,” Dean’s sleep-rough voice said against Cas’ head. 

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Cas replied.

“‘S okay, you didn’t,” Dean murmured. 

“You seemed pretty asleep to me,” Cas said as his fingers began to run themselves over the muscles of Dean’s chest. 

“I was just resting, I didn’t want to disturb you,” Dean replied as his fingers began to lazily play with Cas’ hair. 

Cas tilted his head up so that his lips grazed Dean’s chin, where he placed a gentle kiss on the stubble there. “How thoughtful,” Cas smiled. 

“You going to go get ready for work?” Dean asked. 

“In a minute,” Cas replied. “I was just thinking-” 

“Oh that’s never good,” Dean laughed. 

“Shut up,” Cas said with a small laugh of his own. 

“Sorry,” Dean chuckled. 

“Anyway,” he continued with a glare at Dean, “I was thinking that we never moved any of our stuff into the other’s apartments, like we said we would before your…. accident.” 

“Mmm, yeah,” Dean hummed in agreement. “We should do that.” 

“Or, um,” Cas cleared his throat, trying to stomp down the fear that was beginning to rise in his chest, “we could start thinking about getting a place… together.” 

“You’d want that?” Dean asked, hope in his voice. 

Cas grinned. “Yes, very much.” 

“Well, I’ve been trying to get lodging attached to my bar so I can live there, it’ll be awhile before it’s up but until then we could just pick one of our apartments and stay there,” Dean said. 

“I think that sounds great,” Cas smiled. 

“Awesome. Your place is probably the best, just for lack of stairs,” Dean said. 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Cas felt Dean’s hand working small circles across his back as he sighed. “I’ll start working on paperwork after work today.” 

“Speaking of work, I should really go get ready.” 

“Yeah, me too,” Dean agreed. 

Cas gave Dean a kiss goodbye and then headed back to his apartment, a skip to his step as he thought about how soon, he and Dean would officially be living together. 

 

Cas parked his Bel Air in the small parking lot behind the bakery and then stepped out of the car, straightened his trench coat, and entered the bakery. “Cas!” Garth greeted him. 

“Hey Garth,” Cas replied with a smile.

“How’s Dean been doing? I’ve been meaning to visit him over at the tavern but I just never get the time.” 

“He’s better, much better,” Cas answered. 

“Yeah? Good.” 

Cas had never told Garth that he and Dean were an ‘item’ but the skinny man had somehow figured it out and he’d always give Cas a knowing look whenever the topic of Dean came up. “Is Anael in yet?” he asked. 

“She should be,” Garth replied. 

“Okay.” 

Cas headed into the kitchen to find Anael rinsing off some blueberries. “Good morning, Cas,” she said. 

“Good morning,” Cas replied. “What are we making this morning?” 

“Blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, cherry pie, the list goes on.” 

“I’ll start on the sugar cookies,” Cas said. 

“Okay, I left some dough in the fridge yesterday so that should be all set.”

“Wonderful.” 

Cas moved to the fridge, pulled out the dough, and started on the cookies. He rolled them up into balls and set them on trays to go in the oven while Anael worked on the muffins. “So,” Anael said as she scooped batter into a muffin pan, “is Dean doing better now?” 

Cas sighed. He was glad that everyone was concerned about Dean, but he was tired of answering their nagging questions everyday. “He’s fine,” Cas replied, his tone was swaying on the border of bitter but he forced a smile onto his face to soften the blow. 

“Oh, okay,” Anael said. Cas hadn’t fooled her, she picked up on every little thing Cas said and did, sometimes he was pretty sure she knew him better than most people.

“Sorry,” Cas muttered. “Just it’s been a week since he’s been fully healed and everyone keeps asking about him. Just go across the street and see for yourselves, he’s fine .”

“We’re just trying to make conversation,” Anael replied. 

“I know,” Cas said. 

“How have you been doing? I’m sure all of this was hard on you.” 

“I’m okay.” He was. Looking after Dean hadn’t been awful, in fact he’d enjoyed it sometimes. Dean trusting Cas to take care of him and Cas doing everything in his power to make him comfortable. 

“You’ve just seemed, I don’t know, different these past few days.” 

Cas shrugged. “Some stuff has been happening in my life recently.” 

“What do you mean by ‘some stuff’? You can tell me, Cas, I won’t go blabbing to anyone.” 

“I know you won’t, but it’s complicated,” Cas replied. 

“I see.” 

 

Cas turned his attention back to the cookie dough in front of him and was patting together another cookie ball when Garth stuck his head into the kitchen. “Cas?” 

“Yeah?” 

“There’s two guys out here, claiming to be your brothers, they want to see you.” 

No. How did they find him? Why were they here? What could Michael and Lucifer possibly want from him? 

“Okay. Give me a second,” Cas replied, trying to keep the bird of panic from escaping the cage that was his chest. 

Cas washed his hands and then walked out into the main room. Sure enough, Michael and Lucifer were waiting on the other side of the counter. Michael offered Cas a smile, one that Cas didn’t return. “Hey brother,” Lucifer said. 

“What do you want?” 

“We need to talk, do you have a minute?” Michael asked. 

“Not really,” Cas replied coldly. 

“It’s important,” Michael said. 

Cas sighed. “Fine. Give me a second to get my coat and we’ll go for a walk.” 

Michael nodded. “Okay.” 

Cas went to the kitchen, snatched his trench coat from the coat hanger in the corner of the room and then returned to his half-brothers. “Let’s go, and make this quick, I have things to do.” 

Cas followed Michael and Lucifer out of the bakery and they started off at a slow walk down the street. “It’s Dad,” Michael began. 

“He’s dead.” 

“Wow Luci, way to soften the blow,” Michael chastised his brother. 

Cas stopped walking, causing Michael and Lucifer to stop as well. “Was that all? He’s dead, because I don’t care.” 

“That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” Michael said, his head tilted to the side as he regarded Cas. 

“No, I don’t. He was never a father to me. He left my family without a word because he wanted to return to his favorites . So, no, I don’t care that he’s gone, he’s good at leaving and he’s just done it again.” 

Lucifer’s gaze hardened. “Don’t talk about him like that.” 

“Or what?” Cas spat, meeting Lucifer’s stone gaze. “Dad never cared about me, why should I care about him?” 

“Because he’s your father ,” Lucifer replied. 

“That doesn’t give him a free pass. He never earned my love, so I’m not inclined to give it to him.” Cas had thought he’d be a tiny bit upset upon hearing about his father’s passing, but he wasn’t, not in the slightest. In fact, he almost felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “Now, if that was all, I need to get back to work.” 

“Cas,” Michael said softly. “Lucifer and I, we want to be a part of your life, we want to get to know you. You are family after all.” 

Cas’ jaw clenched in annoyance. “Yeah? How long did you know about me? Huh? How many years did you have to try and find me, to try and be my ‘family’ ?” 

Michael’s expression fell a fraction of an inch. “Not long enough.” 

Cas huffed in exasperation. “Dear old Dad really did love his secrets.”

“Yeah, he did,” Lucifer agreed. 

Cas sighed. “Look, I just can’t do this right now. I’m still trying to process that you’re my brothers.”

“We understand,” Michael said. 

“Yeah, take your time,” Lucifer replied. 

“We just want what’s best for you, and if that means us not being in your life, then that’s fine.”

Cas stared at them in surprise for a second before he cleared his throat. “Uh, thanks.” 

Michael and Lucifer smiled at him and Cas turned on his heel and headed back towards the bakery, but he didn’t go inside, instead he walked across the street and entered Dean’s bar. 

“Alex! Don’t touch that!” Dean shouted just as Cas walked in. 

“Sorry,” Alex replied, setting down the glass she’d just picked up to admire. 

“Get back to wiping down the tables - Cas!” Dean’s eyes rounded in surprise as he spotted Cas standing in the doorway. 

“Hello Dean,” Cas replied as he walked towards the bar counter. 

“What’re you doing here?” Dean asked. 

“Michael and Lucifer just showed up at the bakery.” 

“Shit man,” Dean said as he pulled a shot glass from under the counter and filled it with whiskey before sliding it towards Cas. 

Cas took the shot, even though he knew he shouldn’t since he had to work. “My Dad’s dead.” 

“Damn.” 

“Yeah. I’m not sad about it, I’m actually kind of relieved. The bastard finally got what he deserved.” 

Dean’s stoic expression didn’t let Cas know what he was thinking, he simply asked, “What did Michael and Lucifer want?”

“To tell me about our Dad and to tell me they wanted to be in my life,” Cas replied. 

“Do you want them in your life?” Dean asked. 

“I don’t know,” Cas replied honestly. “If I let them into my life they might leave me, just like our Dad did.” 

“But they might not,” Dean countered. 

Cas sighed. Dean had a point, but the thought of taking a chance on two people who were basically strangers to him, and trusting them, didn’t sit well. “I know, but I don’t know if I can trust them.” 

“I get that,” Dean said as he refilled Cas’ glass. 

Cas took the glass and allowed the liquor to burn as it slid down his throat. “I should get back to work. Thanks for the drinks.” 

“Sure thing,” Dean replied. 

Dean’s hands pulled at the lapels of his trench coat and Cas let himself be guided in for a kiss. “I’ll see you after work,” Cas said. 

“Your place?” Dean asked. 

Cas nodded. “My place. What time are you closing?” 

“I’ll be home by midnight,” Dean replied. 

****

“Cas? Cas? Cas!?” 

Cas snapped out of his thoughts about Michael and Lucifer and returned his attention to the cake they were frosting. “Sorry.” 

“Are you okay?” 

“I’m fine.” 

Anael looked at him skeptically but nodded and didn’t press him for further details. “Okay.” 

“Hey amigos,” Garth said as he came into the kitchen, winter coat over his shoulders. “I’m heading out. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

“Bye Garth,” Cas and Anael replied. 

“Looks like we’re closing again,” Anael said as the door shut behind Garth. 

“Looks like,” Cas agreed. 

Anael drew a sparrow on the top of the cake with yellow frosting and then said, “Well, I think this cake is done. What do you say we set it in the display case and head home.” 

“I’d say, I like that idea,” Cas replied. 

 

Five minutes later, Anael was locking the door and Cas was heading to his Bel Air. He was home within ten minutes and decided to take a shower and then make himself some dinner. He was just stripping from his shirt when the phone rang and he sighed and went to answer it. 

“Hello?” 

“Castiel?” 

Cas suppressed a sigh. He was getting tired of getting calls from random family members, especially ones that haven’t talked to him in a long time.

“Mom?” 

“It’s good to hear your voice,” his mother said. 

“What do you want?” Cas asked sharply. 

“Is that any way to talk to your mother?” 

“Oh you mean the mother that didn’t call me for months ,” Cas retorted bitterly. 

“I’m sorry.” 

“Sorry? That’s all I get? No explanation?” 

“I’m sorry,” she repeated. 

Cas was not in the mood to deal with his extra dysfunctional family anymore for the second time today. “Why did you call?” 

“It’s your father, I just heard-” 

“He’s dead. Yeah, I know. I met his other two son’s, the ones that no one decided to tell me about,” Cas snapped. 

“I’m so-” 

“Yeah, I’m sure you are. Save it. I have to go.” Cas hung up without another word and then stomped over to his bathroom to get into his shower. 

He knew he’d been harsher than he should have, his mother had needed her own time to grieve in her own way, but Cas was tired of his family ignoring him and keeping things from him. The only person in his life that made him feel wanted was Dean and Cas didn’t need anyone else. 

 

After his shower, Cas made himself a ham sandwich and then sat down on the couch with a book and decided to read until Dean came home. He ate his sandwich slowly and made it through five or six chapters of his book as the night began to blanket the house in darkness. Cas glanced at his watch some time later, it was just after midnight but there was no sign of Dean. 

He’s probably just running late . Cas reasoned. He continued to read his book, making it through two more chapters, and still, no Dean. 

Worry started to form a pit in his stomach and he set his book down and headed towards the door. Maybe he just stopped back at his place for a minute. Cas headed over to Dean’s apartment and knocked on the door, no answer. 

“Dean?” Cas called. He pushed open the door and stepped cautiously inside. “Dean?” 

A quick sweep of the apartment told Cas that Dean wasn’t here. Worry turned to fear and he picked up Dean’s phone and dialed the bakery’s number. The phone rang and rang but Dean didn’t pick up and Cas hung up, fear raking through him. 

He returned to his own apartment in hopes that he might find Dean there with an apology for his lateness, but his living space was empty. Cas tried to breathe deeply, to stay the panic that was starting to crack through his solid foundations. He’s probably fine. Just lost track of time. Cas told himself as he paced around his apartment. But this wasn’t like Dean, Dean always came home on time. Something was wrong, something was very wrong. 

Just when Cas had decided that he was going to call the police, his phone rang for the second time that night. Cas rushed to it, hope igniting in his chest, please be Dean. 

“Dean!?” Cas answered, breathlessly. 

A laugh sounded on the other end of the phone. “Dean? No, Dean can’t come to the phone right now.” A scream sounded in the background and Cas’ blood ran cold. Dean . Cas felt his stomach coil into a knot, terror gripping him like the talons of a bird. “Guess again.” 

“Lucifer.”

Chapter Text

“Can I get another one?” Meg asked as she held up her empty beer bottle. 

“Sure thing,” Dean replied, cracking open another bottle for her. 

“I’m glad you’re back,” Meg said through a drunken smile as she tipped back the beer. 

“Yeah, me too,” Dean laughed as he refilled Crowley’s daiquiri. 

“What were you doing getting hit by a car anyway?” Crowley asked as he sipped at his drink. 

Dean shrugged. “It came out of nowhere, I didn’t see it until I was already on the pavement.” 

“Did they catch who did it?” Meg slurred. 

“No. No one got the plates. I think the police gave up looking,” Dean replied. 

“That’s a shame,” Meg pouted. 

“Yes, too bad. I’d like to see someone face justice for the pain I had to endure without the only bartender in the world that can make my drinks properly ,” Crowley said as he raised his glass in a cheers to Dean. 

Dean chuckled. “Oh stop it.” 

“Ellen never makes ‘em right,” Crowley continued on, “she tries, but she always misses something.” 

“I’ll have a word with her about it,” Dean replied. 

“Thank you, maybe you could teach her a few things,” Crowley said gruffly. 

“Don’t give away all your secrets,” Meg said as she waved her finger at Dean, “you need to have something left that’s uniquely you .” 

Dean laughed and Crowley chuckled along with him. “No matter what he teaches anyone, no one will ever mix drinks like Dean Winchester.” 

“I’ll drink to that!” Meg shouted. She downed her beer and then wiped at her lips as a burp escaped her chest. Dean smiled to himself as he began to wipe down the bar counter, he’d missed Meg and Crowley. 

Dean had just turned to set some clean glasses on the shelf behind the bar when the door opened and two men walked in. They were both blond and stood at around the same height but one of them had the shadow of a beard where the other did not. 

“Hello,” Dean greeted them as they sat down at the bar. 

“Good evening,” the clean shaven man replied with a small smile. 

“What can I get you two?” Dean asked as he tossed his rag onto his shoulder. 

“Whiskey would be nice,” he answered. 

“Whiskey, coming up,” Dean smiled. 

“I haven’t seen you two in here before, you new to town?” Meg asked as she slid a stool closer to the two men. 

“We’re visiting family,” the bearded man replied. 

Meg nodded. “I see.” She stuck out her hand towards them and smiled. “I’m Meg.” 

“Michael.”

“Lucifer.” 

Dean nearly dropped the whiskey bottle he was holding. “Michael and Lucifer? Cas’ brothers , Michael and Lucifer?” 

Michael turned to look at Dean. “So, you know our little brother?” 

“Yeah, we’re good… friends,” Dean replied stiffly. 

“Oh, Cas!” Meg exclaimed in excitement. “I remember him, he was the cute angelic boy, right?”

Dean fought very hard to control his blush. Cute was an understatement. “Yeah, I guess.” 

“So, you know Cas well, do you?” Lucifer asked as he picked up his glass. 

“I’d think so, yes,” Dean replied. 

“So you’d know where we can find him?” Michael asked, mirroring his brother with his own glass of whiskey. 

Dean felt something spring to life in his chest, a protective force that made his muscles tense. He placed his hands on the edge of the counter and let his voice drop to a whisper. “No, I don’t. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.” 

Lucifer’s blue eyes darkened. “Why not? We’re his brothers.” 

“He’s told me all about you two,” Dean replied, his grip tightened on the counter and he set his jaw. “He doesn’t know where he stands with both of you right now. He needs time and space to figure things out.” 

Michael downed his whiskey and then stood up, meeting Dean’s sharp gaze. “Sounds like you’re very good friends if Cas is disclosing family business with you.” 

“Maybe even a bit more than friends,” Lucifer said as he joined his brother on his feet. 

Dean snorted as unease swept through him. “You don’t know anything about me and Cas, and you don’t deserve to know unless Cas decides to let you into his life.” 

“Touchy, isn’t he?” Michael scoffed. 

Lucifer brought his hands up to Dean’s shirt and pulled him forward, causing Dean to fall over the counter, face pressed into the cold countertop. “We’re only going to ask this one more time, where’s Castiel?”

Dean wasn’t afraid, he’d dealt with plenty of guys like Michael and Lucifer in his lifetime and he wasn’t about to give into their violence. “I don’t know.”

“Liar!” Lucifer hissed.

“Hey,” Meg growled, “leave him alone.”

“What’re you going to do about it, pretty lady?” Lucifer asked. 

Dean could barely see Meg but the click of heels told him that she’d stood up. “You don’t really want to find out, do you?” she taunted. 

“Michael,” Lucifer said lazily as he returned his attention to Dean. 

Meg screamed as Michael grabbed her and Dean felt hot anger burn under his skin. “Don’t you dare hurt her!” he yelled. 

“Can’t we all just calm down?” Crowley grouched from his seat. “There’s no need to spill unnecessary blood.”

Lucifer ignored Crowley and leaned in close to Dean’s ear. “We just want to talk to Cas.”

“Oh yeah, sure you do,” Dean spat back. The gears in his mind were spinning furiously, trying to figure out how he could get to a phone so he could call the police, while also keeping Meg and Crowley safe from harm.

“Michael,” Lucifer said, “if you would.”

Something thudded to the ground, Dean knew it was Meg when a startled squeak came from the direction of the floor, and then a click echoed through the almost empty bar. “Take us to Cas, or we’ll make him come to us.” 

Dean felt the barrel of a gun press into his head and he forced himself to remain calm. “No.” He wasn’t going to lead Cas’ psychotic brother’s straight to him, who knows what they might do to him. 

Lucifer sighed. “In that case, go ahead, Michael.” 

The gun fell away from Dean’s head and he watched it swivel to point directly at Crowley. Crowley’s eyes widened and he held up his hands. “Woah, hey, don’t point that thing at me.” 

Michael didn’t hesitate, he pulled the trigger and with a bang Crowley’s head snapped back and he fell to the ground with a crash. Dean struggled against Lucifer’s stone grip as he felt anger and horror sweep through him. “You son of a bitch!” Michael turned his gun to Meg who was scrambling to get away. “You leave her alone!” Dean screamed as Lucifer’s fingers bit hard into his neck. 

“Shut up.”

Dean thrashed against Lucifer but the other man held him fast. “Meg!” 

“Dean,” Meg’s terrified voice filtered up towards Dean and he gave one more feeble attempt to free himself from Lucifer as Michael cocked the gun. 

“Don’t,” Dean said, the hint of plea in his voice. 

Michael didn’t appear to hear him and a flash of light followed by a crack meant that Meg was dead. “Now that we’ve got witnesses out of our way, let’s get started with you,” Lucifer sneered. 

“You’re crazy,” Dean hissed as Lucifer pulled him upright. 

“We’ve been called that more than a few times,” Michael said as he moved behind the bar, towards Dean.

“Stay away from me,” Dean warned. 

Lucifer’s hands were still holding Dean, and Michael was drawing closer, pulling rope from his pockets. “Now you be a good boy and keep still,” Michael said through a sneer.

Michael reached out for Dean’s hands and Dean took his chance as he felt Lucifer adjust his grip. He smacked his head backwards and connected with Lucifer’s face, causing the man to let go of Dean. He then surged forward, fists balled, and let his hand fly towards Michael. His fist hit Michael’s jaw and he didn’t pause to look at the damage he’d done before he was sprinting towards the door. 

His hands closed over the frame of the door and he was pushing his way outside when a bang sounded behind him and pain shot through his left shoulder. Dean fell to the ground, half inside and half outside. He’d forgotten what it felt like to be shot, man did it hurt . The feeling of a hole ripping through his body had been a memory Dean had hoped would stay associated with the war; but now, as he rolled on the ground, pain swimming through his body, he knew that was not going to be the case. 

Dean could barely hear anything except for the ringing in his ears as the blood throbbed through his wound and drummed in his head, but he made out the distinct sound of footsteps approaching him. Hands wrapped around his arms and soon he was on his feet. Roughly his hands were tied behind his back and Dean barely suppressed a yelp as his wounded shoulder jerked painfully.

A piece of cloth was tied over his eyes and a gag was shoved into his mouth and knotted behind his head. “Walk,” Lucifer snapped, shoving Dean forward. 

Dean stumbled and forced himself to move with the reminder of the existence of Michael’s gun shoved against his back. He was pulled to a stop a short moment later and the creak of something opening reached his still pounding ears. 

Lucifer and Michael’s hands pushed him forward and Dean fell into what he assumed was the trunk of a car. His shoulder screamed out at him as he was shoved deeper into the trunk and his legs were tied together with more rope. The thud of the trunk shutting rippled through him and he clenched his jaw against the gag. The car started up and Dean felt them begin to move. He forced himself to breathe, to take in his situation and try and find a way out. His war training was starting to flood back to him and he tried to remember what he was told to do if he was ever taken as a prisoner of war. 

He knew wherever Michael and Lucifer were taking him wasn’t going to be a picnic, but he also knew that there was no way he was going to be able to get himself out of the car without alerting the two men, Cas’ psychotic brothers Dean corrected himself, to his efforts. 

Dean sighed and let the motions of the car fill his senses. He ignored the pain in his shoulder as the blood from the wound continued to pump across his shirt, seeping into the material and leaving it damp and sticky against his aggravated skin, and focused on the movements of the vehicle he was a prisoner to.  

He predicted that it had only been about forty seconds since they’d left his bar so he began to count and memorize each turn the car took and each bump that they went over. He was just reaching minute number fifteen when the car came to a stop and the trunk opened. Dean was roughly pulled from the car, his shoulder bumping against the side of the trunk in the process which caused Dean to grunt. 

“Be quiet,” Lucifer snapped in his ear. 

The rope around his feet was removed and then he was shoved forward and Michael’s gun returned to his back. Dean knew they entered some sort of building because the atmosphere turned from the cold crisp outdoor weather to a few degrees warmer and the slight breeze he’d felt outside was gone. He was pushed down a long hallway and then shoved into what he assumed was a room where he was tied to a chair. 

A door shut with a click and Dean forced himself not to panic, not to fear that this was how he would die, at the hands of Cas’ brothers in some random building. The blindfold around his eyes fell away and Dean blinked into the dim light of a dark room. 

Something dark coated the walls and it didn’t take Dean long to figure out that it was blood. He spotted a table by the far wall that was laden with different knives and other pointy objects and when his eyes shifted to the floor he saw that a drain sat in front of him. Deep horror began to set in Dean’s stomach. Psychopaths, Cas’ brothers were definitely psychopaths. And murders, and God knows what else. 

“So, Dean,” Michael said as he twirled a knife between his fingers. “You’re more to Cas than just a friend, we know that, so let’s just move past that, shall we? Lucifer and I, we-” 

“We want what’s best for Cas,” Lucifer said, cutting Michael off.

Dean huffed against his gag. Yeah right. 

“And you, you’re not what’s best for Cas,” Michael said as he took a step towards Dean. 

Dean forced himself not to try and struggle against his bonds, he knew he wouldn’t be able to break free, struggling would only make the knots tighter. Lucifer moved forward and roughly pulled the gag from Dean’s mouth. Dean licked his lips and moved his jaw to get rid of the tightness that had built up during the car ride. 

“How would you know what’s best for Cas?” he asked darkly. 

“We’re his family,” Michael replied as he pressed a hand to Dean’s hurt shoulder. 

“You don’t even know him,” Dean hissed. 

“We’ve been following him for a long time,” Lucifer said as he picked up his own knife. “And we’ve been following you.” 

Dean quirked an eyebrow at the bearded man. “Oh have you?” 

“Dean Winchester,” Lucifer began, “served a year in the war under Captain Bobby Singer, bought the lot six years ago that currently houses your bar, The Winchester Tavern,  lives in apartment number 316, has a little brother named Samuel, who has a fiance named Jessica,” he rattled off, as if he was reading Dean’s resume. “Need I continue?” 

Fear that Dean had only ever felt on the battlefield flooded through him. Fuck. Dean’s silence brought an evil smile to Lucifer’s face and he joined Michael where he was leaning over Dean. 

“What should we do to him first?” Michael asked, a sneer twitching on his lips. 

“Hmmm,” Lucifer hummed as he ripped Dean’s shirt open to expose his chest and the bullet wound that was still bleeding, “I’ll let you decide.” 

Michael grinned something awful and then Dean felt the point of a knife touch against his shoulder. “Looks like this wasn’t your first bullet,” Michael said as he examined the scar that dotted Dean’s shoulder where he’d been shot overseas. Dean could tell that the fresh injury he currently had was next to the old one, above his heart, but just barely. 

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Dean grunted as Michael’s knife tipped over onto the edge of his bleeding wound. 

“Of course we do,” Michael said. “You’re toxic for Cas, he should be settling down with a woman, not some bowlegged bartender.” 

Dean winced against the knife blade as Michael pushed it a little bit deeper into his shoulder. “You don’t know anything about Cas. He doesn’t like women.” 

“Which is something we can fix,” Lucifer said. “With the right help we’ll get him seeing straight in no time.”

“He’s not broken!” Dean shouted. 

“Yes he is,” Michael growled in Dean’s ear as he pushed his knife in further. 

Dean let out a hiss of pain as the cold steel blade fully entered his wound. “Son of a bitch!” 

“Oh, I’m sorry, did that hurt?” Michael said innocently as he sharply pulled the knife away from Dean’s shoulder, leaving his wound stinging and bleeding more profusely. 

“Where’s Cas?” Lucifer asked, his face close to Dean’s. 

“You said you’ve been following him for a long time. You don’t need me, you know where he is,” Dean replied bitterly, his breathing ragged as he tried to ignore the pain. 

Lucifer frowned and then patted Dean’s cheek with his hand. “You’re smarter than we gave you credit for. You’re right. We do know where he is, but it takes all the fun out of it when we don’t have to torture the information out of you.” 

“You could do whatever you wanted to me. I would never give up Cas, never,” Dean spat. 

“You love him, don’t you?” Michael asked, his bloody knife coming dangerously close to Dean’s eye. Dean forced himself to stay still and not lean away from the tip of the knife, he wasn’t going to give those bastards any form of satisfaction. 

“More than anything,” Dean replied. It was the truth, he saw a future with Cas, one that he hoped he’d get to live. 

“That’s a shame,” Lucifer pouted. “You don’t deserve him.” 

“So what are you going to do then, huh? Kill me?” Dean asked the question, trying to hide the worry that that might be exactly what Michael and Lucifer planned to do. He wasn’t scared to die, he knew that when it was his time then it was his time and he’d go willingly, it was the thought of leaving Cas behind that worried him. 

“Possibly,” Lucifer replied. 

“And this time, we’ll make sure you stay dead,” Michael added.

Dean felt confusion mingle with his pain. “What do you mean, ‘this time’?” 

Michael and Lucifer exchanged gleeful looks and Michael shook his head with a disdainful snort. “You didn’t figure it out?” 

Dean had a sneaking suspicion of where this revelation was going and he hoped he was wrong, but every sign pointed to him being right. 

“You’re…” Dean faltered, struggling for words under his shock. “You’re the driver of the Ford Galaxie, aren’t you.”

“Give the man a medal!” Michael exclaimed. 

“Which makes you the robber at the bakery,” Dean said, his eyes shifting to Lucifer. 

“What a smart cookie we’ve got ourselves here, huh Mike,” Lucifer chuckled. 

Michael laughed. “Indeed.” 

Shit. Dean took a deep breath. “I get that you wanted me dead, but why would you rob the bakery that your beloved brother worked at?” 

“We needed money for Dad’s hospital bills,” Lucifer replied. 

Of course . “But how did you know I’d run outside, I-” 

“Like Luci said, we’ve watched you, studied you, we planned everything to the last detail, and it worked, until Cas went and saved you.” 

“We’ve got admit, we didn’t expect that,” Lucifer said. 

“He thinks he’s in love with you, but once you’re out of the picture he’ll come to his senses.” 

“You’re sick,” Dean spat. 

“We’re not the sick one,” Lucifer replied. “Cas is.” 

Dean was fuming now, his anger dulling the sharp ache in his shoulder. “Being gay isn’t some curable disease!” 

A white hot pain lanced across Dean’s chest as Michael sliced across his upper body with his knife. “With our help, Cas will learn to renounce his feelings towards men and become a normal member of society.”

“Normal!?” Dean hissed through gritted teeth. “Cas is perfect just the way he is, if you knew him, if you loved him you wouldn’t see the need to try and change him!” 

“Be quiet!” Michael snapped, drawing another deep line of blood across Dean’s bare chest. 

“I’m going to make the call,” Lucifer said. 

Michael nodded. “Do it. I’ll play with our lovesick puppy.” No matter how hard Dean tried to keep himself under control, his breaths were starting to turn panicked. “Lucifer’s going to make a quick little call to Castiel, and then he’s going to come running right into our trap,” Michael whispered in his ear. 

No. No. Cas please don’t fall for it. But Dean knew Cas would fall for it, Cas would try to come to Dean’s aid, just like Dean would if the situation were reversed, there was nothing he could do.

Dean’s eyes fixed on Lucifer, where he stood leaning against the bloodied wall, phone pressed to his ear. “Dean? No, Dean can’t come to the phone right now,” Lucifer said. Michael took that as his cue, and without a moment’s hesitation, he plunged his knife into Dean’s abdomen, causing Dean to scream in agony. Over his own cries he heard Lucifer say in a soft menacing whisper, “guess again”.

Chapter Text

“Hey bro,” Lucifer said with a laugh. 

“Let him go, let him go right now!” Cas screamed. His whole body was shaking, every nerve set to explode as he stood there, terrified, in his kitchen, phone clutched so tightly in his hands that his knuckles were white. 

“All in good time, all in good time,” Lucifer crooned over the line. 

“Why are you doing this? What did I ever do to you?” Cas asked through a sob as tears began to drip down his face. 

“Nothing, Castiel, absolutely nothing,” Lucifer replied. 

Lucifer’s words only made him cry harder. “Then why?” 

“Because you need help, and Michael and I want to deliver it. We’re here to save you, Castiel. Dean is toxic, he’s poison, he doesn’t come anywhere close to deserving you, and for that he must pay the price.” 

“You’re wrong,” Cas spat. “Dean’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me!” 

“You’re delusional!” Lucifer hissed. “You think you’re in love, but you can’t see that you’re being manipulated, yanked down a long road that you will never find the end of. Dean’s using you, and when he’s finished he’ll leave you, and you’ll wish you’d never let him into your life, we’re trying to spare you pain that you will inevitably face.” 

No. No! 

Cas felt like his chest was about to cave in on itself as another sob wracked through him. “Let him go, please,” he begged. 

“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Lucifer said, his voice low and dark, “you’re going to come to us, alone, no police, and we’re going to show you just how wrong you are about Dean Winchester. You shouldn’t love someone like him, hell you shouldn’t even love a man. It’s wrong, Cas, and you know it. You deserve a good woman who will cook for you and make love to you after you come home from work. Michael and I, we can help you. We’ll get rid of Dean and then you can start again, we can fix you.” 

Cas was shaking now with, cold, hard, anger. “My sexuality is my own business, and I don’t need to be fixed . You’re insane, both of you, and you’re going to release Dean-” 

“Or what? You’re powerless, Castiel. Dean’s going to die, and when we finish with him, we’ll go kill Gabriel, and your mother, and anyone else that’s let you get by with your disgusting defect.”  

Cas had never felt so angry, he couldn’t even begin to form the words he wanted to say. His fear for Dean was starting to make him sweat and panic was smothering him like a dark cloud, he hadn’t felt this afraid since he was fighting in the war. “Please, don’t,” he managed to choke out. 

“It’s too late,” Lucifer chuckled. “Listen for yourself.” 

Cas held his breath, as footsteps echoed on the other side of the phone line, and then a small whine of agony filtered through Cas’ ears. “Cas,” Dean. “Cas, don’t,” Dean slurred. “‘M, not worth it.” Dean's speech sounded slick with blood, Cas would know, he’d heard too many men die choking on their own blood as they tried to get out their last words, but now this was Dean, Dean who sounded just like all those lost soldiers, Dean who was dying and in pain. 

“Dean, no,” you are worth it, you’re worth everything, “I’m coming for you, I love you!” Cas cried. 

“Oh, that’s touching,” Lucifer said through a snide laugh. “But he’s as good as dead. Unless…” 

“Unless what?” Cas sniffed. 

“Unless you come to us and let us help you. We’ll let Dean live, and then we can get you out of this lame town and we’ll find you a nice girl and a home you can settle down in. You’ll have a kid and a dog and everything will be perfect.” 

Cas hated that idea. He hated the thought of becoming someone he wasn’t, of pretending that he loved some poor girl and wanted a family with her, he’d rather die; but this wasn’t his life on the line, it was Dean’s. “Are you being serious?” Cas dared himself to ask. “If I do this, you’ll let him go?” 

“Cross our hearts and hope to die,” Lucifer replied. 

Cas didn’t believe him for a second, but it was the only shred of hope he had left. “Okay,” he breathed out. “Where are you?” 

“Remember, no police,” Lucifer snapped. 

“No police,” Cas repeated. 

“I see one blue light and I’ll slit Dean’s throat.” 

“I understand,” Cas said. 

“Alright then, we’re at 1523 Waterman.” 

Cas hung up and pulled his hands down his face to wipe away his tears. He couldn’t go there alone, he knew that much, he didn’t trust Michael and Lucifer as far as he could throw. He wasn’t going to involve the police, how could he? The one thing he did believe was that Lucifer would kill Dean if there was so much as a whiff of police in any proximity to them. 

There were two people Cas knew he could call, two people who would come running to help Dean at a moment's notice, so he picked up his phone and dialed the first number that popped into his head. 

“Hello, Sam Winchester speaking,” a groggy voice answered Cas’ call. 

“Sam!” Cas sighed in relief. 

“Cas? What’s wrong?” 

“It’s Dean, he’s been taken. Sam, he’s hurt real bad, I can’t call the police or they’ll kill him, I know where he is, but I can’t go alone, I need help,” Cas rambled as his emotions began to cloud his eyes.

“Alright, alright, calm down,” Sam said, although his voice was tight with worry. “I’m on my way.” 

Cas was trembling now, and he felt new tears drop away from his eyes.“Thank you, thank you.” 

Cas set the phone down and then fished in his cabinet for the phone book he knew was stashed in there somewhere. He didn’t have the number for the next person he needed to call, and it took him a lot longer than it should have to locate the name scrawled across the page: Lafitte, Benjamin. 

“Benny?” Cas asked when he heard the phone stop ringing. 

“Who is this?” a gruff sleep-filled voice asked. 

“It’s Castiel, Dean’s boyfriend,” Cas replied. 

“Cas? What’re you callin’ so late for?” Benny mumbled. 

“Dean’s in trouble, he was kidnapped, he’s hurt, and I can’t contact the police or they’ll kill him, but I know where he is, I just need help.” 

“Shit, man!” Benny exclaimed, suddenly fully awake. “I’ll be at your place in five.” 

After Benny hung up, Cas began to pace, worriedly wringing his hands as he waited for Sam and Benny to show up. Benny arrived quickly, his shoulders hunched in worry. “What’s going on, Cas?” 

“It’s my insane brothers,” Cas replied. “They’ve taken Dean.” 

“Why?” 

“They…” Cas shut his eyes and forced himself to say the words. “They think he’s not good enough for me, that killing him, or hurting him, will make me see that I shouldn’t be with him, with a man ,” Cas spat the last word out like it was something rotten. 

Benny’s expression darkened and he squared his shoulders. “They’re wrong, Cas, you know that, right?” 

Cas nodded. He did know that, he kept telling himself that . “I know.” 

“Alright, well, what are we waiting for, shouldn’t we be going to get Dean?” Benny asked, his hands balled into fists. 

“We’re waiting for Sam,” Cas replied. 

“Sam will be another ten minutes,” Benny said, “we should go without him, leave him a note and he’ll catch up.” 

Cas shook his head, as much as he wanted to do that he knew that going in against his crazy half siblings wasn’t something he should risk when the score was only even, he needed a third person to outnumber them. “No, we should wait.” 

“Won’t they get suspicious?” Benny asked. 

Probably. Definitely. 

“We can’t worry about that, I’m not going to walk into their trap without backup, if that means we’re ten minutes late, then so be it.” Dean might bleed out by then , a small voice in the back of his head warned. Cas shushed it with a retort of, or he might not . Benny didn’t argue again but he joined Cas in anxious pacing. 

 

Sam had barely walked in the door before Cas was shoving him back out of it. “What’s the plan?” Sam asked as Cas opened his car door and slid into the driver's seat. 

“I go in alone, you two follow a few minutes later,” Cas replied. 

“Cas-” Sam tried to argue but Cas was quick to cut him off.

“That’s the plan, there’s no changing it, they have to think I’m alone.”

“Cas,” Sam started again, but this time his tone wasn’t argumentative, “how did this happen?”

“I don’t know,” Cas replied. “I really don’t know. A few weeks ago I didn’t even know I had half brothers, let alone psychotic half brothers. I’m sorry, Sam, I’m sorry that just by knowing me, Dean’s in danger.” 

“It’s not your fault,” Sam said. 

“Don’t say that Sam, you know it is,” Cas retorted. Everything was his fault. 

“No. It’s not,” Sam repeated. Cas didn’t have the energy to continue to argue with Sam, so he focused on the road and let it take him towards Dean. 

 

When they arrived at 1523 Waterman, Cas parked his car, left Sam and Benny, and headed towards the closest door. As he was walking across the abandoned parking lot, his eyes landed on the only other car in the vicinity, a black Ford Galaxie, and his stomach seemed to jump into his throat. He recognized that car, it was the car that had rammed into Dean like he was nothing, and left him bleeding and dying in the middle of the road. Suddenly, everything made sense, and it fueled his anger. 

He almost sprinted into the building, but he forced himself to go slowly and cautiously, not wanting to be surprised if they decided to jump him. “Michael!? Lucifer!?” Cas called out. 

A bearded face poked around the doorway of a room down the hall and Lucifer grinned at him, his smile not touching his eyes. “Oh good, we were beginning to worry.” 

“Took me a bit to find the place,” Cas lied easily.

Lucifer beckoned him with his hand. “Well, come on in.” Cas was terrified of what he might see when he entered the room, but he didn’t let any hesitation show in his steps as he let Lucifer lead him inside. 

Cas wanted to run to Dean the moment he saw him, but a stern hand on his shoulder kept him rooted to the spot. Dean was bloody, very bloody, it looked like there was more blood than skin. Dean’s head was hanging forwards, chin dipped to rest on his chest as blood dripped steadily from his mouth. Dean had gashes running across his upper body and there was a deep wound on his lower abdomen that oozed dark blood. Cas also easily identified the hole in Dean’s left shoulder as a bullet wound, and he clenched his jaw so hard he could almost feel his teeth cracking. The only thing that kept him from breaking away from Lucifer, was the visible rise and fall of Dean’s chest as he breathed. He was still alive.

“I’m here. Let him go,” Cas said. 

Michael stood up from where he’d been crouching by Dean, playing idly with Dean’s short hair. “Not quite yet,” he said. 

“No, no, you said if I showed up here, you’d let him go.”

“Yeah, yeah, we know. Michael’s just adding his finishing touches to his piece of art,” Lucifer sneered from beside Cas. 

Michael grinned and dug the tip of a knife into Dean’s chest, cutting into a pre-existing wound that he’d already inflicted. Dean’s eyes shot open and he screamed as Michael pushed in deeper, and deeper. 

“Stop!” Cas cried, he couldn’t take it anymore, he started to move towards Dean but he was yanked backwards, falling into the tight grip of Lucifer. “Dean!” Cas screamed as he thrashed against his brother. “Please, stop! You have me, let him go! Let him go!” 

Michael finally pulled his knife free and wiped it off on his pants before pointing it at Cas. “Why couldn’t you have just let him die in the street? It would have made our job a hell of a lot easier.” 

“I knew it,” Cas growled. “I saw your car out back. You’re the one that hit him.” 

Michael smirked and spread his arms wide. “Guilty as charged.” 

Fresh anger flared up in Cas and he tried to break free from Lucifer again but he was held fast and Michael advanced towards him, knife still pointing at his chest. 

“If Dean had just died without a fuss, like sweet little Anna did, none of this would have needed to happen.” 

Cas’ heart seemed to skip a beat inside his chest. No, no, no, no, no, no. “You… you killed Anna?” 

“She was keeping you from wanting to find someone else to share your life with, she had to die,” Michael replied, he sounded like a child that was unable to comprehend that they had done something wrong. 

This couldn’t be happening, it was all too much. 

“I don’t… I don’t understand,” Cas stammered, his eyes still frozen on Dean, “why are you so interested in my life? Why can’t you just leave me alone!?”

“Because, we’re your older brothers, we’re supposed to look out for you, and protect you. Dad had no right to keep you from us, we could have been together this whole time. Maybe if we’d been in your life you wouldn’t have grown up to be so damaged,” Michael replied. 

“Cas isn’t damaged.” 

Dean’s muffled voice surprised Cas, but he felt relief at the same time, knowing that Dean was still able to talk despite his injuries. “Shut up!” Michael growled as his hand made contact with Dean’s face, causing Dean to grunt and spray blood everywhere. 

“Stop!” Cas sobbed, his whole body was shaking with tears and rage. 

“Get him up,” Lucifer ordered. 

Michael untied Dean and tossed him unceremoniously onto the ground where he landed with a grunt. Lucifer started to walk Cas towards the chair that Dean had just been strapped to and at first Cas struggled, fear building and building inside of him, but soon he gave up, and sagged against Lucifer, defeat crumbling around him. He let himself be tied to the chair and then Lucifer tore open his shirt and Michael stepped in front of him, knife poised over his stomach. 

“Here’s how this is going to work, the longer you resist, the longer you think you love Dean, the more pain you’ll feel. But, the sooner you renounce your horrible sexuality , the faster the pain will stop, and Dean might just get to live.” 

Cas knew he couldn’t change who he was, how he felt about Dean wasn’t something that could just be turned off. Sam and Benny were waiting outside and they were going to come in at any moment, Cas just had to deal with any pain that was inflicted onto him until they arrived. So, Cas spared a glance at Dean, crumpled and bloody on the floor, and then turned his head to look at Michael and Lucifer. “Take your best shot.”

Michael didn’t hesitate, he pressed the knife into Cas’ side and Cas bit his tongue to stifle a grunt of pain. Michael hadn’t gotten far in his carving of Cas’ flesh when suddenly the knife was gone and Michael was on the floor. The rope binding his hands was pulled free and Cas was on his feet in seconds. Sam had Lucifer pushed up against the wall and Benny was grappling with Michael. 

Confusion crinkled Cas’ forehead, if Benny and Sam were busy with Michael and Lucifer then who had… “Dean,” Cas said as a spun around. 

Dean was kneeling on the ground behind the chair, Michael’s knife in his hand. “Hey Cas,” Dean smiled, teeth red with blood. 

Dean began to sway and then he fell to the floor with a broken grunt. Cas rushed to his side, fingers skating over his cuts. He pressed his hands onto the stab wound that was still pumping trickles of blood and Dean hissed in pain, but Cas whispered reassurances to him. He spared a glance behind them to see that Lucifer and Michael were now both tied up and knocked out. Benny and Sam didn’t seem to have a scratch on them and Cas couldn’t help but smile. Sam had picked up the phone and Cas assumed he was calling for an ambulance.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, holding Dean in his arms, but at some point blue lights flickered in the glass windows and then there were hands pulling at Dean and Cas was being patched up by a paramedic while Dean was rolled away. 

 

“Castiel Novak,” a soft voice said beside him as he stared after the ambulance Dean had been taken away in. 

Cas forced himself to look at the woman who had approached him. “Yes?”

“I’m officer Jody Mills, I’d like to get your statement about the events that just took place here, if you don’t mind.”

Police. Right . Cas nodded bleakly. “Okay.” 

“Can you please tell me what happened?” Jody asked, a pen poised over a pad of paper. 

Cas steadied his breathing and swallowed hard. “Michael and Lucifer, they’re my half brothers, I only just learned about them. But they knew about me.” No matter how hard he tried, the tears still came and he had to push his way through the wobble in his voice. “They took Dean, they h-hurt him, t-tortured him.T-they had already tried to k-kill him before.” 

“Can you elaborate?” Jody asked.

“Dean was hit by a c-car a l-little over a m-month ago. Michael and Lucifer, t-they confessed to m-me, that they were behind that and the hit and r-run that k-killed my sister.”

“This is very heavy information, Castiel, are you sure your facts are correct?”

“Yes,” Cas replied with certainty. 

“Why would your brothers take Dean?” Jody asked carefully. 

Cas couldn’t tell her the real reason, but he didn’t want to lie to the cops. So he settled for a fragment of the truth. “They didn’t want a-anyone but themselves in my l-life, they wanted to p-protect me from D-dean, from everyone.” 

“I see,” Jody said as she noted down Castiel’s words in her notebook. “That’ll be all, thank you for your time.” 

Jody stood up to leave but Cas called after her. “Will he, w-will Dean , will h-he be alright?”

“The paramedics seem to think so,” Jody replied. She rested a hand on Cas’ shoulder and offered him a smile. “Dean’s my friend too, you know, and if I know Dean Winchester, I know that he always pulls through. He’ll be okay.” 

Cas nodded. He believed her, Dean was a fighter. 

“Cas!” Sam shouted. “Come on, we’re heading to the hospital!” 

Cas stood quickly, leaving Jody and headed to his Bel Air. Sam was already slipping into the driver’s seat and Cas didn't’ question it, someone else should probably drive, he wasn’t exactly in a fit state of mind. 

 

They waited about two hours at the hospital before a nurse let them into Dean’s room. Dean was sitting propped up in bed, a smile on his face. “Talk about deja vu, huh?” he joked. 

Cas didn’t smile, he didn’t laugh, he just rushed towards Dean and pulled him into a hug, which caused Dean to grunt. “Sorry, sorry!” Cas apologized. 

“‘S okay,” Dean smiled. He gave Cas a quick kiss and then turned his grin to Sam and Benny. “Heya Sammy, Benny.”

“You have got to stop getting yourself hurt,” Sam said as he came up to stand by his brother. 

“But then my little brother wouldn’t have an excuse to come visit me,” Dean said. 

Sam rolled his eyes. “Jerk.” 

“Bitch.” 

Benny walked a little more slowly over to Dean. “What’s the damage chief?” he asked.

“Ah, nothing I can’t handle. Just needed a few stitches here and there, I’ll be golden in no time.” 

“Just take it easy, don’t go too fast,” Sam said. 

“Don’t worry about me, Sam,” Dean replied. “Now if you two could give me and Cas a minute, that’d be appreciated.” 

Sam chuckled and rolled his eyes and Benny gave them a knowing smile. “We’ll be in the waiting room.” 

Cas watched them go and then turned back to Dean, his hand wrapping around one of Dean’s. “I’m so sorry, Dean,” Cas said through a sob. 

“Hey, none of this is on you, okay?” Dean whispered softly. 

“That’s what everyone keeps saying, but you’re all wrong! It is on me, Dean! Everything that’s happened to you, it’s all been because of me!” 

“Cas,” Dean said gently, “stop blaming yourself for things your family members have done. We can’t choose our family, it’s not your fault that you have psychopaths for brothers.” 

Cas tasted salt at the corners of his mouth and he knew that he’d shed tears. “They took everything from me Dean. My father, my sister, they almost took you. What would I have-” Cas took a hiccuped breath and squeezed Dean’s hand tighter. “What would I have done?”

“Hey, look at me, Cas.” Cas dragged his eyes up to fit with Dean’s green orbs. “You didn’t lose me, you will never lose me.” Dean’s hand moved up to Cas’ cheek and he pulled him in for a kiss, that Cas melted into with a cry. “I love you,” Dean breathed against Cas’ lips. 

“I love you too,” Cas replied. 

The terror of the night's events was finally starting to fade away, as he let Dean kiss him. His brother’s had been arrested, they were never going to hurt him, or Dean, or anyone else ever again. That was the only thought that allowed Cas to shut his eyes and let himself sleep, curled over Dean’s hospital bed, the warmth of Dean’s body reminding him how alive he really was. 

Chapter Text

Dean hated hospitals. He really, truly, hated hospitals, with every fiber of his being. It wasn’t the smell, or the food, or the noise, it was that strange feeling he got when he began to wonder how many people might have died in the very bed he was sleeping in, how many families had grieved over loved ones that couldn’t be saved, or watched as someone they knew slipped away to nothingness. That’s what creeped Dean out about hospitals, all the loss, and the cleanliness of the place that erased everything that had come before him.  

 

A nurse came into his room to check his stitches and change his bandages and when she was about halfway through taping up the last bandage, there was a timid knock on the door and Dean looked up to see Jody standing in the doorway.

 “Jody!” Dean grinned as she stepped further into the room. 

“Hi Dean,” Jody smiled. 

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Dean asked as the nurse finished taping him up. 

“I’m here for your statement,” Jody replied. 

Dean nodded. “Right.” 

“And I’m also here to visit,” she said as she sat down in the chair by Dean’s bed, the chair that Cas had fallen asleep in. Cas was off getting coffee now and Dean figured he only had about five minutes before he came back. 

“It’s good to see you, Jody,” Dean said as Jody pulled out her notepad and a pen. 

“You too. I especially like seeing you when you’re in one piece.” 

Dean laughed. “Yeah, that’s preferable on my end too.” 

Once the nurse left, Jody crossed her legs and turned her eyes to Dean. “Shall we get started?” 

“Ask away.”

“Can you please tell me what happened from your perspective?” 

“Well, let’s see, I was minding my own business, working in the tavern, pouring drinks for two of my regular customers, when Michael and Lucifer came into my bar. They wanted to know where Cas was, I didn’t tell them of course, and then Michael shot Meg and Crowley, and they stuffed me in a trunk and dragged me off.” Dean couldn’t keep the bitter tone from his voice as he recounted his experience. 

“What did they do to you there?” Jody asked. 

“They had a little fun with a knife, and well,” Dean gestured to his exposed chest which was now freshly bandaged, “you get the picture.”

Jody nodded and jotted something down. “Anything else?” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah. They confessed to me that Michael was the one behind the wheel when I was hit by a car about a month or so ago, and Lucifer robbed the bakery across the street.” 

“Castiel said the same thing, although he didn’t mention Lucifer and the robbery, so thank you for that information.” 

“My pleasure.” 

“Is that all?” Jody asked. 

“I think so. If I remember anything else I’ll give you a call,” Dean replied.

Jody pocketed her notepad and then leaned forward in her chair. “Police business aside, how are you feeling?” 

“Like I was used as someone’s cutting board, so, just peachy,” Dean responded with a smirk. 

Jody rolled her eyes. “Ever the comedian.” 

Dean grinned. “You know me Jodes, I make a joke out of everything.”

Jody chuckled. “That you do.” 

A hesitant knock sounded on the door. “Dean?”  

Dean’s eyes went to the doorway where he found Lisa, who was standing beside Ben. “Lisa, Ben.” 

“May we come in?” Lisa asked. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, sure.” 

“Hi,” Ben said cautiously as he stopped beside Dean’s bed. 

“Hey buddy,” Dean replied.

“Are you going to be okay?” Ben asked. 

“I’m going to be just fine, don’t you worry.”

Jody cleared her throat and stood up. “I should go.” 

“Come visit me again,” Dean said. 

“I will, and once the tavern’s no longer a crime scene I’ll come visit you there too.” 

Dean had almost forgotten that the tavern was a crime scene and he couldn’t help but call after Jody as she headed towards the door. “How long do you think it will be until I can open again?” 

“Since you and Castiel’s testimonies match each other’s, I’d say this is a pretty open and shut case, which means I’d give the forensic department about a week to get all the evidence they need, and then you should be able to resume business as usual,” Jody replied. 

Dean nodded. “Thanks.” 

As soon as Jody left, Dean turned his attention back to Ben. “You’re sure you’re okay?” Ben asked. 

“I’m alright,” Dean reassured him. Movement from the doorway told him that Cas had arrived, bearing the gift of coffee. 

“Sorry, am I interrupting something?” Cas asked as he froze in the doorway. 

Dean shook his head. “No.” 

“Okay,” Cas said, he still sounded a little wary but he went to Dean’s bedside without further hesitation. 

Dean took the coffee cup from Cas and let the warm liquid spread through his stinging body. “Thanks,” he hummed. 

Cas smiled. “You’re welcome.” 

“This is your fault, isn’t it?” Lisa said suddenly, venom lacing her voice as she pointed an accusatory finger at Cas.

“Lisa,” Dean snapped as Cas took a faltering step backwards, a mixture of fear and guilt in his eyes. “It’s not Cas’ fault. None of it is.” 

Lisa glared at Dean, disbelief shining in her eyes. “Ever since you’ve known him, bad things have been happening to you. You’ve almost died twice .” 

“Sometimes, bad things just happen , Lis, Cas isn’t to blame,” Dean said, his voice hard. 

Lisa huffed and continued to glare at Cas. “I’ll be in the waiting room, come out when you’re done,” she said to Ben. 

“What’s her deal?” Dean asked Ben, unable to hide the anger in his voice.

Ben shook his head. “I don’t know. She’s been like this ever since we met.” 

“Huh,” Dean huffed. 

“Dean,” Cas said, bringing Dean to look at him. “Do you want me to go?” 

“No, Cas, you can stay, I don’t mind,” Dean replied as he gave Cas a warm smile. 

“Okay,” Cas said, forcing his own smile to his face. 

“So, they caught who did this to you, right?” Ben asked, his brown eyes brimming with concern. 

“Yeah, they’re locked up,” Dean replied with a reassuring twitch of his lips.

“Why would someone do this?” Ben asked, his eyes raking over Dean’s wounded body. 

Dean shrugged. “People are crazy.” 

“When are they releasing you?” 

“I was told sometime tomorrow,” Dean replied. 

“That’s a lot sooner than I expected,” Cas said. 

“Yeah me too, but I’m glad for it, hospitals give me the creeps.” 

Ben laughed and looked around the room. “Me too.” 

Dean quirked an eyebrow. “Really?” 

“Yeah. Something about ‘em just rubs me the wrong way,” Ben said. 

“I’m with you one that one,” Dean chuckled. 

Ben cleared his throat and smiled at Dean. “Well, I should probably go, don’t want to keep mom waiting.” 

“Okay,” Dean said with a slight nod. 

“I’m sorry about her, by the way,” Ben said as he backed towards the door. 

“It’s okay, it’s not your fault,” Dean replied. 

“I know, but still, I’m sorry about how she’s acting. I think she’s just afraid.” 

“Afraid of what?” Dean asked. 

“That you won’t be there for me after she’s gone,” Ben replied. 

Dean scoffed at that. “What? Because I’m with Cas?” 

Ben looked cautiously at Cas who was now staring at his hands, like he hoped he’d just disappear. “Maybe, I don’t know.” 

Ben’s tone of voice told Dean that he did know. That Lisa was afraid Cas would cause Dean to neglect his son. “Ben, Cas is in this just as much as I am, we’re both here for you, right Cas?” 

Cas’ eyes shot up to Dean’s and he smiled and turned to look at Ben. “Right,” he confirmed. 

Ben nodded. “Okay, thanks.” 

“You’re really brave, you know,” Dean said as Ben was about to turn around. “I know you must be scared, knowing your mom’s condition, but you’re taking it all with stride. I can’t imagine how hard this must be.”

 Ben’s eyes met Dean’s and he saw the wall Ben had built for himself shift a little. “It is hard,” he said quietly. “Sometimes it’s really, really, hard. But I can’t break in front of mom, I have to be strong for her.”

“You don’t have to be strong in front of me, Ben, okay? If you need anything, I’m here,” Dean said softly. 

A small tear slid down Ben’s cheek and he nodded. “Thank you.”

Ben left before Dean could say anything else and he felt Cas’ hand in his own. “How’re you feeling?” he asked gently. 

“Everyone keeps asking me that,” Dean said through a laugh. “I’m fine.” 

“I stopped by your apartment, got you some clothes, I figured you wouldn’t want to go home in a hospital gown.” 

Dean couldn’t help but smile, Cas was right, he didn’t want to go home in a scratchy hospital gown that made him feel way too exposed. They’d taken his clothes because they were so bloody, and had probably disposed of them or had them locked up at the police station as evidence. “Thanks, Cas.” 

****

“Take it easy, Dean,” Cas said as Dean flung himself down on Cas’ couch with a grunt. “If you pull your stitches you’ll have to go back to the hospital, and we both know you don’t want that.” 

Dean sighed. “Yeah, okay, sorry.” 

“Now, what can I get you?” Cas asked as he opened a cabinet. 

“Nothing, I’m good. You don’t have to wait on me, I can get things myself,” Dean replied. 

“I know,” Cas said, the click of the cabinet told Dean he’d shut it. “Sorry.” 

Dean flashed a smile at Cas as he came over to sit on the couch. “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment. It’s very endearing.” 

Cas blushed and Dean grinned at the reaction. “Flatterer,” Cas said as he pulled Dean towards him for a kiss. 

Dean let himself be dragged into a long kiss, hungrily opening his mouth to take more of Cas in. As much as Dean wanted to go further, he knew Cas still wasn’t ready for that -maybe he never would be- and Dean respected that, so he would take anything that Cas was willing to give.

When they finally broke apart, breathless, Cas was all smiles and Dean couldn’t help but mirror him. “What?” he asked. 

“I’m just glad it’s all over,” Cas replied as his fingers fell across Dean’s chest and gently ran down his body, almost causing Dean to shiver at his touch. 

“Me too,” Dean agreed as pressed a feather-light kiss against Cas’ lips. 

“I love you.” 

“Love you too,” Dean replied. 

“It’s late, should we go to bed?” Cas asked. 

“I like that idea,” Dean replied through a yawn. 

Dean let Cas take his hand and lead him towards his bed. Cas helped Dean strip off his shirt, careful not to disturb his bandages, and then they pulled on their pajamas and fell back into bed. Dean hugged Cas protectively to his side and let Cas’ fingers rest lightly against his chest, as if holding them there would somehow heal Dean’s wounds. If only , Dean wished as he rested his head against Cas’ and let sleep claim him. 

 

***Three Weeks Later***

Dean woke with a groan as the sun flickered across his face with unforgiving brightness. His wounds were almost completely healed now, the only thing left to indicate that they had even been there in the first place were the long streaks of white scar tissue that raised themselves up off of his chest. 

Dean rolled over, expecting to find the warm body of Cas, but instead emptiness greeted him. “Cas!?” Dean called out. 

“In the kitchen!” Cas called back. 

“What’re you doing up so early?” Dean asked as he pushed himself into a sitting position and rubbed at his sleep-weary eyes. 

“Give me two minutes and you’ll see,” Cas replied. 

“Whatever that means,” Dean mumbled to himself as he tried to let wakefulness seep into his body. 

Clattering in the kitchen made Dean call out again. “You okay in there?!” 

“I’m fine!” Cas hollered back. 

“Do you need some help?” Dean asked. 

“No,” Cas replied as he appeared in the doorway, a tray held between his hands. 

Dean’s eyes widened as he took in the contents of the tray. There was a large stack of pancakes dripping in maple syrup with bacon on the side, a mug filled with steaming coffee, and a cup of orange juice. “What’s all this?” Dean asked. 

Cas rolled his eyes as he stepped forward and placed the tray over Dean’s lap. “Like you don’t know what day it is,” he said with a laugh. 

Dean stared at Cas blankly. “What day is it?” 

“Seriously?” Cas asked, blue eyes searching his face. 

“Uh, seriously,” Dean replied, confused. 

Cas placed a gentle kiss on Dean’s lips and then stepped back. “Happy Birthday.” 

A smile started to turn up the corners of Dean’s mouth and a bubble forced its way up his throat until it built into a laugh. “Is it really?” In all the crazy crap that had happened over the past two months Dean hadn’t even realized that his birthday had been approaching so fast. 

“If today isn’t the 24th of January then I seriously fucked up,” Cas replied. 

Dean had never really cared about his birthday, it was always just another day in another year, but in all those other years, he hadn’t had Cas, and seeing the blue eyed man standing before him, eyes sparkling and hair still messy from bed, he felt his heart swell. “No, you’re right,” he chuckled, the clock beside the bed confirmed the date. “Thanks for this.”

Cas smiled. “You’re welcome, now dig in before it gets cold!” 

Dean did. He let the perfectly cooked pancakes melt in his mouth along with the wonderfully crispy bacon and the expertly steeped coffee. “ This is amazing,” Dean said over his mouthful. 

“Good,” Cas grinned. “When you’re finished, get dressed, we’re going to Sam’s.”

“Oh?” 

Cas shrugged. “He offered to host.”

“Well, it has been a long time since I’ve been over to Sam’s,” Dean said as he set down his now-empty tray and raised his arms over his head in a stretch. 

“That’s what Sam said too,” Cas replied. 

“So, you’ve been planning this for a while, have you?” Dean asked as he swung himself out of bed and moved slowly towards Cas. 

“Practically ever since you got out of the hospital,” Cas answered.

“A while then,” Dean smiled as he pulled Cas in for a kiss. 

“A while,” Cas agreed against Dean’s mouth. 

 

Dean got dressed and pulled his red leather jacket onto his shoulders as Cas did the same with his trench coat. “Ready to go?” Cas asked. 

Dean grinned. “Yup.”

Cas took Dean’s hand as they left the apartment and Cas began to tug Dean towards his car but Dean resisted him. “Dean, come on, I’m driving!” Cas protested.

“No you’re not. We’re taking my car,” Dean replied. 

“But it’s your birthday, you shouldn’t have to drive.” 

“I want to drive,” Dean insisted. “Don’t even try to argue with me, Cas, we’re taking the Cadillac and that’s that.” 

Cas sighed but gave in and let Dean drag him across the street to where his car was parked. When the car roared to life Dean grinned at Cas and then pulled out onto the street. The drive to Sam’s only took about twenty minutes, he lived in Linwood on East 4th street, number 29. Dean was surprised that they hadn’t visited each other sooner than these past few months, they lived so close, but work had been taking up all of Sam’s time and Dean’s too, so they had never seemed to find the time. Now that things had seemed to have died down for both of them, Dean hoped that he would be seeing a lot more of his little brother and sister-in-law to be.

Sam and Jess’ house was the quintessential home that you’d expect an apple-pie family to live in; white with blue shutters and bordered by a white picket fence. Sam and Jess had just recently moved into the house almost a year ago -before their engagement - and Dean had only been there once, to help them move in. He’d known that they were getting pretty serious to have left their previous residence, a small apartment in the city, and move into a house together, but now that Sam had proposed everything seemed so much crazier. His little brother was getting married, and he couldn’t stop the swell of pride that began to rise up in his chest. 

He and Cas walked down the pathway to the front door and as soon as Dean raised his fist to knock, the door flung open and Jess was giving Dean a bone-crushing hug. “Hi,” Dean gasped as she squeezed him. 

“Happy birthday,” Jess grinned. 

“Thanks,” Dean replied. 

“Is that Dean?” Sam called from somewhere deep in the house. 

“Yes!” Jess yelled back. 

Sam’s head poked around the corner of the room, a large smile on his face. “There’s the birthday boy,” he said as he came to pull Dean into a hug. 

“You didn’t have to do this, you know,” Dean said as he let himself be hugged. 

“I know, but you never acknowledge your birthday, we thought for once, you should, after everything you’ve been through these last few months,” Sam replied. 

Dean couldn't help but smile. “Thanks Sammy.”

“Come sit down, we’ve got a lot of stuff planned,” Jess said as she took Dean’s arm and led him to the couch. 

“Nothing too extravagant I hope,” Dean replied with a chuckle. 

“I think you’ll find it satisfactory,” Sam said as he handed Dean a beer. 

Cas sat down next to Dean and took his beer-free hand, Dean smiled at him and moved his hand from Cas’ to bring his arm around his boyfriend’s shoulder. “You two are so cute,” Jess said as she raised her own beer bottle to her lips. 

“Oh stop,” Dean said, trying to hide a blush. Cas took that moment to lay a kiss on Dean’s cheek, which caused Jess to say ‘aww’ and Sam to pretend to gag. 

 

Sam had been right, they did have a lot of things planned. It was just nearing noon when Dean found himself in the basement, blindfolded, and holding a bat as a pinata he couldn’t see swung somewhere in front of him. “This is ridiculous,” Dean said as he gripped the bat tighter. 

He could hear Sam’s muffled laughter and he shook his head with a sigh. “You’ve got this,” Cas said from somewhere to his left. 

“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Dean grunted. 

He raised the bat beside his head and then swung. A satisfying crack sounded through the empty basement and the undeniable patter of candy falling to the ground made Dean push off his blindfold to see the damage he’d done. The pinata was missing it’s midsection and Dean grinned at it. “That wasn’t so hard.” 

“It helps when you’re a grown man hitting a party toy designed for children,” Sam replied with a laugh. 

Dean stooped to the ground and picked up a lollipop. “Hey, you’re the one that bought it, so don’t go judging me, besides, I won’t say not to candy,” he said as he unwrapped the lollipop. 

 

The party moved back upstairs for a lunch of burgers that Sam was struggling to make. 

“I’ve got it!” Sam protested as Dean tried to take the spatula from him. 

“No, you don’t got it, you’re going to end up burning the house down,” Dean said as he managed to wrestle the spatula from Sam’s grip. 

“It’s your birthday, you shouldn’t have to make yourself lunch,” Sam said with a pout. 

“I don’t mind. I’d rather have edible food to eat than a pile of ash, besides, this is my specialty,” Dean replied as he expertly flipped a burger on the grill. 

Sam glowered at Dean but allowed him to finish cooking the burgers before they all settled down at the table and dug in. “I don’t know how you do it,” Sam said as he hummed around his burger. “They’re perfect.” 

Dean shrugged as he picked up his own burger. “Practice, Sammy, practice.” 

“You should really teach him how to properly make a burger,” Jess said. 

“I’d be happy to,” Dean replied. “If Sammy’s down.” 

“I suppose it might be useful information to learn for the future,” Sam answered. 

 

After lunch Dean was led back to the living room where he was handed his first birthday gift; it was a small parcel from Sam. He opened it to find a necklace with a golden amulet dangling from a black cord. “Wow,” Dean breathed. “Thanks Sammy, I… I love it.” 

Sam grinned. “I’m glad. I meant to give it to you at Christmas but somehow it didn’t make it into the car.” 

Dean placed the amulet over his head and smiled. “Better late than never.” 

A few more gifts were passed around, consisting of some records from Cas and a cookbook from Jess. 

“Thanks guys,” Dean said as he set the cookbook aside. 

“Alright, well I think it’s dessert time, don’t you?” Sam asked as he stood up. 

There was a mumble of agreement from everyone in the room and so they all went back into the kitchen and Dean was seated at the head of the table while Sam pulled a pan out of the oven. Dean didn’t have to guess as to what it was, the smell alone told him everything he needed to know. It was a blueberry pie. 

Sam set the pie down on top of the oven and then turned to look at Dean. “Something’s missing.” 

“What?” Dean asked. 

Sam disappeared for a second and then reappeared holding a birthday hat. He handed it to Cas. “Cas, if you’d do the honors.” 

“Oh, no, no you’re not putting that on me,” Dean said, holding up a finger in warning. 

“Come on Dean, be a good sport,” Sam pouted. 

Dean crossed his arms and glared at Sam. “No, no way in hell.”

“Please?” Cas begged, his blue eyes pleading. 

Dean sighed. Of course Cas was the one to break him. “Ugh, fine,” he groused. 

Cas grinned and placed the birthday hat on top of his head. The string bit into his chin but he forced himself not to swat it off. Sam looked triumphant as he picked up the pie and began to advance towards Dean, everyone’s voices raised in a chorus of Happy Birthday To You. 

There were a few candles stuck into the pie and Dean let them flicker in front of him for a few moments before he shut his eyes and made a wish. “What’d you wish for?” Cas asked quietly. 

“I’m not supposed to tell,” Dean replied, “or it won’t come true.” 

“Ah, right,” Cas said. 

Dean dug into a rather hefty piece of pie topped with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. “You make this?” Dean asked Cas over a large mouthful. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah.” 

“I could tell,” Dean said as he shoved another forkful of pie into his mouth. 

“You can always tell,” Cas chuckled. 

“That’s because no one ever makes pies quite like you do,” Dean replied, a warm smile filling his cheeks. 

“Could you two stow the lovey-dovey crap for a minute, I’m trying to eat,” Sam said, again pretending to retch. 

Dean smirked and kissed Cas. “No can do little brother.” Sam rolled his eyes but a smile was forcing itself onto his face.

 

Dean’s birthday was good, great even, and by the time they made it back to Cas’ apartment he was tired and ready for bed. 

“Thanks for a wonderful day,” Dean said as he climbed under the covers and let Cas snuggle up to him. 

“You deserved it,” Cas replied. 

Dean planted a kiss on Cas’ head and then let the steady warmth of Cas’ body bring him into sleep.

Chapter Text

***Four Months Later***

Cas pulled another muffin tray out of the oven and placed it on the counter to cool. He wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead and leaned back against the counter. Anael wasn’t working today, she was sick, and so Cas had been doing double the work, trying to make at least three different baked goods at the same time. The kitchen was a mess, flour and sugar spread over the counter and floor, assorted bowls and spoons were strewn around the place, some in the sink, others discarded on the counter. 

Today had been a customer heavy day and there was more demand for things like cupcakes and pies than Cas was able to make. Garth had offered to try and help him in the kitchen but Cas knew that Garth trying to bake was a recipe for disaster. Ever since Hannah had quit they’d been short staffed, and without Anael things were falling apart. 

As Cas was starting to think about cleaning up, Garth came into the kitchen and let out a low whistle. “Wow.” 

Cas shot Garth an exasperated look. “Don’t say it.” 

Garth held up his hands. “Alright, I won’t say it.” 

Cas picked up a bowl that had housed the batter for the muffins he’d just made, and moved it to the sink. “You can bring the muffins out,” he said. 

Garth nodded. “Okay. We’re closing in five minutes.”

A feeling of ecstasy washed over Cas. “Thank God.”

“You look beat, hombre,” Garth said as he picked up the muffin tray.

“That’s an understatement,” Cas groaned. 

“I’ll go put these in the cases and then come back and help you clean up,” Garth said. 

“Thanks,” Cas groaned. 

Cas started to pile everything that was dirty into the sink, which appeared to be most of the appliances in the kitchen, and then once the counter was clear he began to wipe it down. Garth returned and got to work washing some of the dishes while Cas finished up with the counter and pulled a mop from the corner of the room to start sweeping up the flour that had spilled onto the floor. 

“You have a piece of dough in your hair, by the way,” Garth said as he placed a bowl onto the drying rack. 

Of course he did . Cas sighed and reached up to pull said dough from his dark hair. He only ended up making it worse and so he gave up and decided to wait until he was home and into a hot shower to try and deal with it. 

It took Cas and Garth about thirty minutes to clean up the kitchen and when they were done Cas felt like he was about ready to collapse from sheer exhaustion. Garth bade him goodbye and Cas headed out to his car and tried not to fall asleep while he was driving home. As soon as he entered his apartment, he dropped his keys on the coffee table and went straight for his bedroom. He stripped from his flour encrusted clothes as he went and practically stumbled into the bathroom. He hardly waited for the water to heat before he was under the stream, scrubbing at his weary body. When he deemed himself clean and his hair was dough-free he slipped on his pajamas and collapsed into his bed and within seconds he was asleep. 

 

Cas woke when a feather-light kiss was pressed to his temple and he blinked open his eyes to see green. “Sorry,” Dean apologized, “I didn’t mean to wake you.” 

“It’s okay,” Cas replied with a small smile. 

“Rough day?” Dean asked as he sat down beside Cas on the bed. 

Cas nodded. “Anael wasn’t in today, so it was just me and Garth.” 

“Oh wow,” Dean said, “sounds tough.” 

Cas nodded through a yawn. “It was.” He glanced at the clock beside his bed and saw that it was only nine o’clock. “You’re back early, again.” 

Dean shrugged. “Yeah.” 

Cas pushed himself on to his elbows, fixing Dean with a inquiring look. “Everything okay at the tavern?”

Dean looked down at his hands. “Everything’s fine.” 

“Dean,” Cas said sharply. “Tell me what’s wrong.” 

Dean shook his head and stood up. “Nothing’s wrong.” 

Cas pulled the covers away from himself and reached out towards Dean. “It’s Meg and Crowley, isn’t it.” 

Cas spotted a drop of water slip from Dean’s eye, but it was quickly wiped away. “I haven’t been able to work late these past few months, not since… it .” 

Guilt crept up Cas’ body and he took Dean’s hands in his. “I’m so sorry.” 

“How many times do I have to say, it’s not your fault.”

“They took you because of me,” Cas said, “that makes it my fault.” 

“No.” Dean gripped Cas’ hands tightly and looked down at him with his impossibly green eyes. “They were psychopaths, Cas, they chose their actions, not you. I don’t blame you Cas, I never have, I never will.” 

“Okay,” Cas whispered as he let Dean pull him into a hug. “Okay.” 

“I just can’t get the image of their deaths out of my head.” Dean’s voice sounded broken and Cas could feel him shaking. “It was like…” 

“Like you were back on the battlefield,” Cas finished. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah.”

“You know I’m here, if you ever just want to talk,” Cas said. 

“I know you are Cas, but there’s really nothing to talk about.” 

“If you’re sure.” 

Dean leaned down and kissed Cas softly. “I’m sure.” 

“Okay.” 

“I’ve got good news,” Dean said in a low voice, bringing them away from the traumatic events of a few months ago. 

“Yeah? What?” Cas asked. 

“I can officially move into your apartment.” 

Cas felt a stupid grin spread across his face. “Really!?” 

“Yup!” Dean replied, his green eyes electric. “Sorry it took me so long to get the paperwork done.” 

Cas shrugged. “You had a lot on your plate.” 

“I thought we could start moving some things tomorrow,” Dean suggested. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah, okay.” 

“Most of my clothes are already here, so it’s just kitchen supplies, towels, sheets, and other stuff,” Dean said.

“So what you’re saying is it shouldn’t take long,” Cas said. 

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” 

“I have tomorrow off,” thank God, after today he wasn’t sure if he could work another full day, “so I’m around all day.”

“I know you do, which is why I planned to move tomorrow because I have tomorrow off too,” Dean said. 

“Looks like we have a plan then,” Cas smiled. 

“Looks like,” Dean hummed as he pulled Cas in for another kiss. “I think I’m going to get changed and then come to bed.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

They went their separate ways, Cas back to the warm bed he’d just vacated and Dean to the bathroom. It wasn’t long until Dean was under the covers, pulling Cas towards him. Cas let his head rest on Dean’s chest and listened to the steady beat of his heart through his shirt as it lulled him to sleep. 

 

****

“Which box is this going in?” Cas asked as he held up a whisk.

“Uhhh,” Dean stood up from the middle of a circle of boxes and searched through three different full boxes until he found a semi-empty one. “This one.” Cas tossed the whisk into the box and then moved onto another cabinet which was filled with plates. “Hey, are you sure you’re going to have enough space for all of this in your apartment?” Dean asked as he placed a mug into a box. 

“I hardly have anything over there, there’ll be room,” Cas replied. 

“Just making sure,” Dean said. 

 

They packed up the kitchen and then moved to Dean’s bedroom. The bed was already stripped and Dean had laid out the rest of his dresser contents on his empty bed so now all that was left to do was put the leftover clothes and sheets in boxes. 

After they finished in Dean’s room they began to take trips to Cas’ apartment, laden with boxes. It didn’t take long before they’d completely moved Dean out and were left to unpack the boxes in Cas’ apartment. 

Cas was right in assuming that all of Dean’s kitchenware would fit in his cabinets, there was still plenty of space to spare after all the plates, glasses, and mugs were put away. It took a little finagling but Cas managed to find space for all of Dean’s clothes in his dresser and closet. 

After they finished unpacking they both collapsed on the bed, exhausted. “That took a lot more effort than I thought it would,” Dean said through a sigh.

“I think it was going up all the stairs that killed me,” Cas replied. 

“I’m with you on that one,” Dean agreed. 

“Well, how about we have some lunch, I worked up an appetite,” Cas said. 

“Me too.” 

Cas dragged himself off of the bed and Dean followed him into the kitchen. “What are you in the mood for?” Cas asked.

Dean shrugged. “Anything.” 

Cas stuck his head into the fridge. “Well we have the ingredients for beef bourguignon.” 

“That sounds tasty,” Dean said as he kissed Cas on his neck, causing a shiver to run through him. 

“Perfect,” Cas said as he pulled the ingredients from the fridge. Together, they started making their lunch. Cas got to work cutting up potatoes while Dean dealt with the meat. 

By the time the meal was done, Cas felt like his insides had turned inside out with hunger. He and Dean sat down with bowls filled to the brim with beef bourguignon and dug in. 

“Mmmmm,” Dean groaned over his spoon. 

“This is delicious,” Cas said through his own mouthful of perfectly tender beef. 

They continued to eat in silence, allowing their empty stomachs to be filled with wonderful food. Once they deemed themselves stuffed, they made quick work of the dishes and then decided to play a game of cards. 

 

Dean was just about to beat Cas in blackjack for the fifth time, when there was a knock on the door. Cas left Dean at the table and went to answer the door. When he pulled it open he was surprised to see Gabriel standing on the other side. 

“Gabe? What are you doing here?” 

“Can I come in?” Gabriel asked, his words just shy of wobbling. 

“What’s wrong?” Cas asked as he stepped aside to let his brother into the apartment. 

“You’re going to want to sit down for this,” Gabriel said. 

That’s never a good sign . “What happened?” 

“Seriously, Cas, sit down,” Gabriel said as he himself took a seat on the couch. 

Cas shot an anxious look at Dean who only shrugged. “Okay,” Cas replied, hesitantly as he joined Gabriel on the couch. 

Gabriel took a deep breath and then fixed Cas with his honey gaze. “It’s mom.” 

Cas felt a stone drop in his stomach. “What about her?” 

“She-” Gabriel choked on the word and Cas knew what he was going to say before he said it. “She’s dead.” 

Cas shook his head, denial already seeping through him. “No.” 

“The doctors say it was a heart attack,” Gabriel said in a low voice.

“No,” Cas repeated. 

Gabriel didn’t say anything else, just kept his eyes on the floor. Cas stood up, tears welling in his eyes. He heard the chair by the table squeak, announcing that Dean was now on his feet, but he found himself turning to the door, not Dean’s waiting arms. He heard Dean call after him but his words sounded like they were coming from underwater. 

He started to run as soon as his feet hit the pavement outside. This couldn’t be happening, not when everything had just started to feel good, not when he was finally happy .  

Cas kept running until his lungs started to scream at him and his tears were too thick to be able to see anything. He found himself collapsing on a bench outside a small antiques shop and his whole body began to shake as he cried. 

He hadn’t spoken to his mother in months, not since she’d called about the death of his father. His last words to her had been in anger, she had died thinking he hated her. Regret pulsed through him, causing him to cry harder. 

He knew he should go back to the apartment, talk to Gabriel about making funeral arrangements - grieve with his brother- but he couldn’t get his feet to move. He felt like he was falling and everything around him was burning to ash. His mother was dead, and he’d never gotten to say goodbye, never told her just how much he loved her, how much he appreciated how she’d shaped the man he was now. 

Cas didn’t know how long he sat on that bench, but when he felt arms around him he didn’t hesitate to lean into them. “It’s okay, Cas, I’ve got you, I’m here,” Dean’s voice said in a whisper by Cas’ ear. 

Cas let Dean comfort him, he let Dean’s strong arms absorb his cries, hardly even wondering how Dean had found him in the first place, just grateful that he had.

Chapter Text

“Cas,” Dean gently nudged the sleeping man beside him. “Cas,” he repeated. Cas groaned but didn’t move. “We have to get up.” Dean swallowed hard and then added, “you do remember that the funeral is today, right?” 

Cas hugged his pillow closer to his head. “I can’t do this,” he mumbled. Dean could hear the strain in his voice. 

“Yes, you can,” Dean encouraged. 

“No, I can’t,” Cas repeated firmly. Now he turned his head to look at Dean, blue eyes glassy. “How am I supposed to face my family, when the last thing that I said to my mother was in anger?” 

Dean pushed a hand through Cas’ hair and let his fingers linger on his cheek. “You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to.” 

Cas shook his head, dislodging Dean’s hand. “No, I need to, I just… I don’t know what to say.” 

“I’m sure the right things will come to you,” Dean said. 

“I’m not ready, Dean,” Cas croaked, tears lining his eyes. 

Dean pressed a soft kiss to Cas’ lips. “I believe in you, you can do this.” 

Cas shut his eyes, causing tears to slip from under his closed eyelids. “Okay,” he sighed. “We should get ready.” 

Cas pushed himself out of the bed and Dean followed more slowly. Cas went into the bathroom and Dean pulled their black suits from the closet and laid them on the bed. He was pulling off his shirt when Cas came back into the room, eyes roving over Dean’s exposed chest. 

Dean paused to look at him and Cas only grinned. “Don’t stop on my account.” 

Dean smirked and began to strip from his pajama pants. Cas started to do the same and, almost in unison, they began to get dressed. Dean buttoned up his shirt and then slipped a tie around his neck and tightened it before pulling his suit jacket over his shirt. He sat down on the edge of the bed and put on his shoes, tightening the laces on each shoe at least three times before being satisfied. 

When he was done, he stood up and embraced Cas from behind as the blue eyed man stood in front of the mirror. “Dean, you’ll wrinkle the suit,” Cas chuckled. 

“So what?” Dean grunted as he pressed a kiss to Cas’ neck. 

Cas spun in Dean’s arms and pulled him in for a heated kiss. When they broke apart, Cas’ hands went to Dean’s tie and his deft fingers straightened and tightened the black fabric around Dean’s neck. “Shall we go?” Cas asked. 

Dean nodded. “We shall.” 

Threading his arm through Cas’, Dean brought them through the apartment towards the door, where Dean swiped his car keys from the table and headed to his Cadillac. The drive to the funeral was quiet, Dean didn’t want to disturb Cas’ thoughts as he stared absently out the window. 

When they arrived, Dean gave Cas’ hand a reassuring squeeze, and then together they walked inside the small church. Gabriel came to greet them, he was wearing a suit with his hair freshly combed down, a somber expression in his usually jovial eyes. Cas pushed past Gabriel, leaving Dean behind as he went to sit in the first pew. 

“Thanks for coming, Dean,” Gabriel said. “You didn’t have to, you never met Hester.” 

“I know, but I want to be here for Cas,” Dean replied.

“That’s thoughtful of you,” Gabriel said, offering Dean a soft smile. 

Dean touched a friendly hand to Gabriel’s shoulder as he moved to go join Cas. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Gabriel replied. 

 

When everyone had arrived, Gabriel took to the podium, a grim air hanging around him. “Thank you all for coming,” he began, “to celebrate the life of my mother, Hester Eve Novak.” Gabriel took a breath and Dean saw his eyes flick to Cas briefly. “My mother was a wonderful woman, who had to deal with the abandonment of her husband as he left her to deal with three children. Despite the hardships that were thrown at her, she was brave, and raised my brother, Castiel, and my sister, Anna, through the rest of our childhood. She was strong, and committed.

Gabriel paused to push a tear from his cheek. “She was kind, and caring, and everything a mother should be. I’ll never forget the day that I came home from school with two scraped knees and a bruised eye, and she said to me, ‘Gabriel, don’t you worry, I’m going to fix you up,’ and she did. She patched up my knees and then after each bandage was secured, she kissed them each and said, ‘now they’ll heal faster, all it takes is a little mothers’ love’. That’s what she’d do whenever I was hurt, or sick, just give me a kiss and tell me that it would help make me feel better. Right Cassie?” Gabriel asked his brother.

Dean saw Cas nod beside him, his own memories swimming in his eyes. “Right,” Cas replied. 

“I will miss her more than anything, but my mother was a woman of faith, and I do believe that she is now in heaven, watching over us as an angel.” He tilted his head towards the ceiling of the church and said, “Love you mom.” Gabriel stepped down from the podium, leaving it open for anyone else who wished to speak. 

After a moment of hesitation, Cas rose to his feet and found his way to stand behind the podium. Dean offered him the smallest of reassuring smiles and then Cas cleared his throat and began to speak. “I have my mother to thank for the kind of person I am today,” he started. “When I was a boy, I’d often help my mother in the kitchen whenever she baked, which she did a lot.” There was a small chorus of light laughter at Cas’ words, which caused the corners of Cas’ mouth to twitch in an almost-smile. “She taught me everything I could have possibly wanted to know about baking, and she’s the reason that I pursued baking as a career.” Cas’ eyes shut for a moment and when he opened them, Dean saw tears.

 “I wasn’t on good terms with my mother in the year before she passed. When my little sister, Anna, died, she stopped speaking to Gabe and me. I hadn’t heard from her for a long time,” Cas’ voice was trembling now, and Dean saw the tremor of his bottom lip as he fought for control over his emotions.

 His voice broke as he continued. “When she called one day, about my father’s death, I was rude to her, and that was the last conversation I ever had with her.” Cas dipped his head as more tears slid down his cheeks. “It’s when you don’t think you could possibly lose someone, that you take for granted the time you spent with them.” Cas was crying hard now, his words getting lost in his soft cries. “I love you mom,” he choked out before he stumbled off of the stage. 

Dean stood to pull him into a hug and Cas’ sobs were lost in Dean’s suit jacket. “You did great,” he murmured into Cas’ ear. “You did great,” he repeated. 

As more people spoke about Hester, Cas curled into Dean’s arms and hardly raised his head. When everyone that wanted to speak had, they all moved to their cars and followed the hearse to the cemetery. 

The graveside service went quickly, the coffin was lowered into the ground and covered with dirt and then everyone dispersed and headed home. Gabriel and Cas lingered behind, their eyes fixed on the headstone that bore their mothers’ name. Dean took a step backwards, not wanting to intrude on their grief, but Cas’ hand shot out and latched onto Dean’s wrist, pulling him back. 

“Stay,” was all Cas said. 

“Okay,” Dean replied.

Gabriel and Cas approached the headstone and each muttered a few words of goodbye before Gabriel pulled Cas into a hug. The two brothers embraced for a long time until Gabriel finally released his younger brother. “I should be getting home,” Gabriel said with a sniff. 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Gabriel tossed Cas a half-smile. “Remember, I’m only a phone call and a short drive away, baby bro.”

“I know,” Cas replied with a small smile of his own. 

Gabriel turned his eyes to Dean. “Bye Dean-O.” 

“Bye Gabriel.” 

Gabriel left the cemetery and Cas and Dean followed. Once they were in the Cadillac Cas leaned over and kissed Dean quickly. “What was that for?” he asked. “Not that I’m complaining.” 

“It’s a thank you, for coming,” Cas replied. 

“You’re welcome,” Dean said as he returned the kiss and then set them back off in the direction of their apartment. 

Once they were back home, they shed their suits and then climbed into bed together. Cas tucked himself closer to Dean and Dean let himself fold around Cas, as if he was protecting him from his sorrows; it was like that, that they fell asleep, fused together as if they were one, breathing in sync as they dozed.

****

“You’re sure about this, chief?” Benny asked as Dean signed off on the paperwork one of the builders he’d hired had handed him. 

“Yes, I’m sure,” Dean replied as he gave the clipboard back to the builder. 

“I knew you loved the bar, but I didn’t know you loved it this much,” Benny said through a small laugh. 

“I’ve always had this dream, Benny,” Dean replied as he picked up his rag and began to wipe down the closest table to him. 

“To live on top of the bar?” Benny asked. 

“Well, yeah,” Dean said as he picked up the salt shaker so he could clean under it. “It’s always been in the back of my mind, but these past few months I’ve been a bit… delayed. But, now I can finally start getting to work on it.” 

“So does this mean that we’re going to have to be closing for a little while?” 

Dean shook his head. “Not all day, just certain hours. I’m thinking we won’t open until after noon. The builders say it should only take a month or so to do.” 

Benny nodded. “Well alright then.” 

“The first building day is tomorrow,” Dean said as he moved on to another table to clean. “So you won’t have to be here until twelve.” 

“Okay,” Benny said. “Well, I’m going to start working on the food for the day.” 

“Shout if you need help with anything, Ellen and Jo won’t be in until one,” Dean replied. 

“Will do, boss.” 

 

As Dean was beginning his routine cleaning of his bar counter, Charlie walked through the door. “Good morning, Dean,” she said with a smile. 

“Morning, Charlie,” Dean replied as he moved to seat her. “How have you been lately?” he asked as he set a menu down in front of her. 

“Great!” Charlie exclaimed. “You?” 

“I’ve been pretty good,” Dean replied. 

“That’s good to hear,” Charlie said as she peered at the menu. 

“Do you know what you’d like to start with?” he asked. 

“Well, some coffee of course, and then I think I’ll have the eggs with a side of sausage.” 

“Coming right up,” Dean said with a smile. 

He left Charlie to her latest book while she waited and then entered the kitchen. “Customer already?” Benny asked. 

“Charlie,” Dean replied. 

“What does she want today?” 

“Eggs, a side of sausage,” Dean answered. 

Benny pulled a carton of eggs from the fridge and got to work on Charlie’s breakfast. Dean was left to leave the kitchen with Charlie’s coffee and almost the second he walked out of the kitchen doors, he was greeted by Ash. “Dean!” 

“Morning Ash,” Dean said as he went to deliver Charlie her coffee. 

“Thanks,” she said.

“You’re welcome.” Dean returned to his bar and reached behind the counter and pulled out a beer for his most regular customer. 

“I see I’m starting to have competition for your favorite customer,” Ash said with a gesture towards Charlie. 

Dean chuckled. “You’ll always be my favorite, Ash. But Charlie is certainly a great runner up.” 

“I heard that,” Charlie said from her seat. “And I’m offended,” she added, although her tone was all joking. 

“Sorry, but Ash is my oldest customer,” Dean apologized. 

“Which means I’m the best,” Ash said as he took a swig of his beer. 

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Dean replied with a chuckle. 

Dean was saved from further conversation as Benny came out of the kitchen with Charlie’s breakfast. Dean quickly took it from him and brought it over to Charlie who licked her lips and set down her book. “Looks amazing,” she said. 

“Enjoy,” Dean replied. 

He poked his head into the kitchen and was about to open his mouth when Benny said. “I’m already working on Ash’s breakfast.” 

Dean nodded. “Oh, okay, good.” 

 

When Ellen and Jo arrived, Dean put them to work quickly. The tavern was very full for a Sunday, and Dean was finding himself falling behind as he scrambled to take orders, so he was thankful that Jo was there to help and he was sure Benny was happy to have Ellen in the kitchen. Alex and Gadreel had the day off and Dean was realizing that he should maybe think about hiring more hands, so that he could give everyone more days off and spread the workload. 

 

“What’s this Benny’s saying about you living on top of the bar?” Ellen asked as Dean was bringing in a pile of dirty dishes into the kitchen.

“What about it?” Dean asked.

“So it is true.” 

“Yes.”

“Well, I think it’s a great idea,” Ellen replied. 

Dean smiled at her. “Thanks.” 

“You better have a housewarming party,” Ellen said as she began to chop up some potatoes. 

“I’ll be sure to have one, don’t worry,” Dean replied as he picked up a few menus and headed back out into the fray that was his tavern. 

 

Dean forced himself to say at work late, despite the memories that flashed before his eyes of blood and gunshots. Without Meg and Crowley the bar was quiet, he only got one late night customer and he was gone within fifteen minutes. Dean decided to give up on waiting to see if anyone else would show up, so he did his last sweep of the bar, dusting down everything that needed it, and then went home. 

Cas was still up, nose deep in a book, but he looked up when Dean arrived. “You stayed late,” he said, there was happiness in his voice. 

Dean nodded. “Yes.” 

“How did it go?” Cas asked as he set his book aside. 

Dean shrugged and pulled off his red leather jacket. “It was quiet.”

“Yeah?” 

“Yeah, but tomorrow we’re starting construction on the bar to make an apartment above it,” Dean said as he sat down on the bed to pull off his boots. 

“That’s amazing,” Cas grinned. 

“I’m excited about it,” Dean said as he leaned in for a kiss. 

“Me too,” Cas replied. 

“I’m exhausted, what do you say we go to bed?” Dean asked. 

“I’d say, that’s a good idea,” Cas replied. 

****

Dean was just about to sit down on the couch when there was a knock on the door. Cas was out shopping for part of their dinner and Dean had stayed home to prepare the beginning of their meal which was the chicken for their chicken parmesan, Cas was out getting spaghetti. 

Ben was not the person that Dean thought he would see on the other side of the door, but the second he took in Ben’s tear streaked face and his heaving chest, Dean pulled him inside the apartment and into a hug. “Ben, what’s wrong?” he asked. 

“It’s mom,” he cried. “She’s… she’s really bad.” 

“How bad?” Dean asked as he led Ben to the couch. 

“The doctor’s say she only has a few months left, at the most. They say she’ll probably have to stay in the hospital until she...” Ben trailed off, another sob raking through him. 

“I’m sorry,” Dean said as he rubbed a hand on his son’s back.

Ben sniffed. “I knew she was getting worse, but I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.”

“I know,” Dean said as he brought Ben into a half-hug. 

“She’s delusional, you know,” Ben hiccuped. “She keeps talking about you.” 

“Me?” Dean asked in surprise. 

Ben nodded and wiped a tear away from his eyes. “She won’t stop muttering about you and the stars. What’s she talking about?” 

Dean couldn’t help but smile at the memory. “She’s talking about a date we went on,” Dean replied. 

Ben sniffed again. “Tell me about it.”

Dean sighed and settled back against the couch. “Alright, but there’s not much to tell.” 

 

“Dean, come on!” Lisa’s laughter filled the empty field that Dean had parked his father’s car in. 

“I’m coming!” Dean shouted from where his head was buried in the trunk as he searched for the old blanket he knew was in there. He finally located the ratty brown piece of cloth and then rushed to join Lisa in the center of the field. 

Dean spread out the blanket and then he and Lisa sat down with the wicker basket they’d filled with picnic foods like sandwiches and fresh baked cookies. It was a warm summer night and Dean had suggested that he and Lisa go eat a late dinner and look at the stars, to which Lisa had quickly agreed. 

Dean let Lisa pull the food from the basket and she handed him a sandwich, her brown eyes bright. “This was a good idea,” she said.

“Mmm,” Dean agreed as he took a bit of his sandwich. 

“It’s a beautiful night,” Lisa said with a smile. 

“Yes, it is,” Dean replied as he looked over at her. Her brown hair was falling over her shoulders in neat curls and her brown eyes were alight with happiness.

Lisa blushed at Dean’s words. “Oh stop it,” she said as she tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.

“Why? You are beautiful,” Dean said as he leaned closer to her.

“Dean Winchester, you always know just what to say to a girl, don’t you?” Lisa said as he closed the gap between them. 

 

The night went on as they slowly picked away at their food and once they had deemed themselves full, they leaned back on the blanket and let their eyes drift to the stars. Dean’s hand intertwined with Lisa’s and he slowly rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand. 

“The stars are so bright tonight,” Lisa said as she leaned her head against Dean’s shoulder. 

Dean nodded. “Yes.” 

Lisa raised her free hand and pointed to a star in the sky. “That one’s ours.” 

“Ours?” Dean echoed. 

“Yes. That’s our star, so whenever you’re feeling lonely, just look up at it and remember that I’m there, and I’ll do the same for you,” Lisa said. 

Dean smiled, he liked that idea. “Okay.” 

 

“And we stayed like that for hours, until it was well after midnight,” Dean said as he neared the end of his story. “I was lucky my Dad didn’t kill me for staying out after my curfew.” 

Ben was smiling now, his tears dried. “That sounded like a good night.” 

Dean nodded. “It was.” He shifted on the couch so he could look at Ben. “I loved your mother, Ben, I really did.” 

“She loved you too,” Ben said. “I think she still does.” 

“I know.” But she sure has a funny way of showing it sometimes, Dean thought to himself. 

“Will you visit her with me?” Ben asked shyly. 

“Sure I will, just not tonight,” Dean replied. 

Ben nodded. “Okay.”

Just then the door opened and Cas pushed his way into the apartment, arms laden with groceries. “Jesus Cas, did you buy the whole store?” Dean laughed as he rushed to help him. 

“Well, I was realizing we were running low on a lot of things,” Cas grunted as he set a bag down on the table. 

Dean searched for the pasta in the assortment of bags and finally located it. He went over to the stove and started to boil some water before he turned to Ben. “Would you like to join us for dinner?” 

“If it’s not too much trouble,” Ben replied. 

Cas looked at Ben in shock for a moment. “I didn’t even see you there.” 

“Well, in your defense, it’s hard to see over a mountain of groceries,” Ben said. 

Cas snorted in laughter and fixed Dean with his blue gaze. “He’s definitely your kid.” 

Dean laughed. “He’s got my humor, that’s for sure.” 

“And your good looks,” Cas added. 

Dean blushed. “Oh shut up.” 

“What?! It’s the truth,” Cas replied as he moved over to help Dean at the stove. 

 

The spaghetti was all that was left to be cooked and once it was finished, Dean dished out three bowls of the long pasta strings and then placed a breadcrumb crusted chicken breast in each bowl. 

“This looks amazing,” Ben said as he sat down at the table. 

“Your father is quite the cook,” Cas replied. 

“Yeah, well, there is a reason I own a tavern,” Dean said. 

 

After dinner, Cas insisted on cleaning up, so Dean turned to Ben. “You said Lisa’s in the hospital, right?” 

Ben nodded. “Yes.” 

“Do you have a place to stay?” 

“My grandparents,” Ben replied. 

“Okay.” Dean spared a look at the clock by the stove. “It’s getting late, you’re welcome to stay here for the night if you want.” 

Ben smiled. “That would be nice, actually.” 

“Yeah?” Dean grinned. 

Ben nodded. “Yeah, I don’t really want to face my grandparents right now.” 

“Well, you should give them a call so they know where you are, and then the couch is all yours,” Dean said. 

Ben went to make the call and Dean began to help Cas dry dishes, even at Cas’ insistence that he didn’t need help. “You made the dinner, let me clean up,” Cas protested. 

“I’ll only help until Ben’s off the phone,” Dean said. 

Cas sighed but didn’t argue and after Ben was done calling his grandparents and Cas had finished the dishes they all sat down for a game of cards and played into the night. 

When they were getting ready for bed, Dean lent a pair of pajama pants and an old t-shirt to Ben and then made sure he was comfortable on the couch with pillows and blankets before he joined Cas in their own bed. 

He couldn’t help thinking about how Ben sleeping in the next room felt so right . With the way Lisa’s illness was going, maybe he’d ask Ben to think about living with him permanently, if that was something that he wanted. Dean knew that over the past months of knowing Ben, it was definitely something that he wanted. Getting to know his son better was becoming something he wanted to spend extra time doing, and it seemed like Ben thought the same, at least he hoped he did. 

Dean didn't dwell on his thoughts of Ben for long, before Cas' quiet breathing brought him into his own realm of sleep.

Chapter Text

Cas stepped into The Winchester Tavern just behind Dean, it was early, just after eight, but Dean had wanted to get there before the builders arrived so he could make sure everything was going to plan. Cas had decided to come with him because he wanted to see the apartment layout, as this was where he’d be living once the construction was complete. Dean led him up a set of stairs, that Cas had never noticed before, and into the upper part of the tavern.

 “So, this is it,” Dean said, waving his arms around a very large room. “It’s basically the layout of the tavern below, but without the kitchen wall.” 

Cas nodded. “Yes, so what are you planning?” 

“Well,” Dean said as he walked around the attic-like space. “I’m thinking right above the kitchen will be the bathroom, since the pipes and everything are already practically lined up. The master bedroom,” he said with a wink, “will go right next to the bathroom, with an adjoining door. The guest room will go on the other side of the room,” Dean gestured towards the far side of the room by the stairs, “and then the open space between the two rooms will be our living room, and the kitchen will go across from that. It’ll be small, but I think it’ll work perfectly.” 

Cas smiled and linked his hand with Dean’s. “I’m sure it will work great.” 

Dean fixed Cas with a worried gaze. “You think?” 

“I know,” Cas replied as he pulled Dean into a kiss. 

They broke apart to the sound of the door opening below them and they quickly headed downstairs to find two men standing in the tavern. “Mr. Winchester,” a man with a thick accent said as he held out his hand. 

“Yes,” Dean replied as he took the man’s proffered hand. 

“My name is Mick Davies, I’m your building contractor.” 

“Ah, yes, Mick, we spoke on the phone,” Dean said.

Mick nodded. “That’s right.” Mick pulled a clipboard from where he’d tucked it under his arm and began to thumb through the paper on top of it. “What you’re asking seems relatively simple, and like I believe I told you, it shouldn’t take more than a month to complete.”

“That’s great,” Dean replied as he exchanged a happy look with Cas. 

Mick gestured to the much burlier man beside him. “This is Arthur Ketch, he will be your head builder.” 

Dean extended his hand for Ketch to take and once that exchange was over Dean turned back to Mick. “So, will you be starting your construction today?” 

Mick nodded. “Yes, from now until noon, does that work for you?” 

“Yes, that works great,” Dean replied. 

“Brilliant.” Mick turned to Ketch, “you can bring your workers in.” 

Ketch regarded Dean for a second and said, “you should probably stay out of the tavern while we do our work.” 

Dean nodded, but Cas saw a small look of fear cross his eyes. “Okay.” 

“Come on,” Cas said, hooking a hand around Dean’s arm, “you can come see what I do at the bakery.”

Dean seemed to brighten at that as Cas led him outside and into the bakery. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in the kitchen here.” 

Cas pushed open the door and then waved a hand dramatically around the room. “Welcome to my humble abode.” 

Dean smiled softly as he looked around the kitchen. “I like it.” 

Cas felt a warm shiver run through him at Dean’s genuine smile. “Yeah?” 

“Yeah, it suits you,” Dean replied. 

“Cas! Are you here!?” Garth’s voice hit Cas’ ears as the lanky man entered the bakery. 

“In the kitchen!” Cas called back. 

A few seconds later, Garth popped his head into the kitchen and then grinned when he saw Dean. “Dean! What are you doing here!?” He pulled Dean into a crushing hug and Cas had to bite back laughter at the sound of Dean gasping for air as he was squished in the thin, yet strong, arms of Garth Fitzgerald. 

“Cas just wanted to show me his workplace,” Dean replied through a heaving breath of air. 

“Dean’s bar is under construction,” Cas explained. “So I offered for Dean to come here while the builders begin their work.” 

“I see,” Garth said as he glanced between the two of them. 

“What?” Cas asked, feeling his cheeks heat under Garth’s gaze.

“You don’t have to hide it from me, you know,” he said. 

“Hide what?” Dean asked. 

“That you’re together,” Garth replied.

Dean chuckled. “We weren’t hiding it from you, we were just not telling you. There’s a difference.” 

“Yeah, alright, sure,” Garth replied, a smirk of his own on his lips as he began to back out of the kitchen. “I’ll leave you two, to do whatever it is you… do.” 

Dean rolled his eyes and Cas couldn’t help but chuckle. “Oh Garth,” Dean sighed as he leaned against the counter. 

“He’s a character alright,” Cas said. 

Dean clapped his hands together and fixed Cas with a smile. “Yup. So, what’s the plan, show me how a typical day works for you.” 

Cas grinned and pulled a bowl from the drying rack behind him. “Well, I usually start with muffins.” 

Dean tilted his head back with a smile. “Mmmm, those muffins are so good.” 

“Well, if you give me a hand, you can have one when it comes out of the oven,” Cas said. 

“Done,” Dean replied. “What do you need?” 

“Can you get the sugar from the middle top cabinet over there, and the flour too.” 

“Sure thing.” Cas went to get some eggs as Dean found the sugar and flour. 

As Cas was mixing together a few ingredients the kitchen door opened to Anael. “Morning Cas,” she said as she pulled her apron from the hook by the door. Her eyes focused on Dean and she let out a surprised little squeak. “Dean! Hi! What are you doing here?” 

Dean shrugged. “Just giving Cas a hand while my tavern’s under construction.” 

Anael quirked an eyebrow at Dean. “Oh? What construction are you having?” 

“I’m putting an apartment above of the tavern,” Dean replied. 

“How wonderful!” Anael exclaimed. 

“Yeah, we’re really excited about it,” Cas said. 

“You’ll be moving in together, I assume,” she said. 

Dean’s eyes widened in surprise, but Cas nodded. “Yes.” 

Seeing Dean’s shock Anael grinned. “Oh, Castiel told me about your relationship, don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”

“Gee Cas, does everyone who works here know about us?” Dean asked, laughter mixed with embarrassment laced his tone. 

Cas blushed. “Technically, yes.” 

“Well, Naomi doesn’t know,” Anael pointed out. 

“That’s true,” Cas said. 

“I heard she’s stopping by today, since we’re so short staffed.” 

“Really?” Cas asked. 

Anael nodded as she picked up a clean bowl and began to move around the kitchen for ingredients. “That’s what Garth said anyway.” 

“Huh,” Cas said as he cracked an egg into the bowl he was using. 

Dean came to stand beside Cas, his eyes fixed Cas as he stirred everything together. “You’re good at that,” he told Cas.

Cas blushed. “Thanks.” 

“Cas is good at everything,” Anael said. “It’s annoying.”

His blush deepened. “Not everything,” he mumbled. “I’m not the best cook.” 

“That’s what you have me for,” Dean replied, laughter in his eyes.

“True,” Cas chuckled. 

“I’ll have to stop by the tavern sometime, it’s been a while since I’ve had one of your burgers,” Anael said. 

“You should,” Dean replied. 

“When will the tavern be open again?” she asked. 

“Oh we’re only closing during the mornings, so we’ll be open for lunch and dinner,” Dean replied. 

“Well in that case, I may stop by today,” Anael said with a smile. Cas couldn’t help but notice the flirtatious twitch of her lips and he found himself edging closer to Dean. 

“Can you get the muffin tray from by the sink?” he asked. 

“Of course, angel,” Dean replied as he placed a kiss on the top of Cas’ head. 

Cas felt his jealousy disappear at the touch of Dean’s lips and so he returned to mixing together the muffin batter and when Dean returned with the muffin tray he had Dean hold the bowl while he scooped the batter into the tray. He then placed the tray in the oven and began to search for the ingredients for a pie. 

“So, this is a normal day for you?” Dean asked, Cas was conscious of his eyes following every movement he made. 

“Yup.” 

“It seems like a lot,” Dean commented. 

Cas shrugged. “Well when Anael isn’t here, it is, but on a typical day it’s not. It’s really no different to you cooking for your customers.” 

“I guess,” Dean replied, he seemed fascinated by the way Cas was beginning to knead dough.  

Cas decided to show off a bit, for Dean’s entertainment, and so, expertly, Cas flipped the dough over and and continued to knead it, getting at the thick substance from every angle before repeating the action and finally beginning to roll it out with a practiced ease. 

“Wow,” Dean breathed as Cas moved the dough from the table to the waiting pie plate. Cas couldn’t stop the smile from taking over his face as he continued to work. 

 

Just before noon, Naomi entered the kitchen. Her austere expression shifted to a small smile when she saw Dean. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” she said. 

Dean smirked. “Surprise.” 

“I’m not going to question why you’re in my kitchen, just so long as you haven’t been eating the pastries that are meant to go into the display cases.” 

Dean gasped, feigning a look of false hurt. “I’m appalled that you would think so low of me.” 

Naomi rolled her eyes and turned to Cas and Anael. “How are things going today?” 

“Great,” Cas replied. 

“You have enough ingredients for everything? Is there anything we’re running low on?” 

“We could do with more blueberries,” Cas said.

Naomi nodded. “Anything else?” 

“Well, extra flour and sugar won’t hurt,” Anael replied. “Milk and eggs too.” 

“Alright, I’ll make a store run,” Naomi said. “I also wanted to inform you that I’ve begun searching for another worker, to fill the gap that Hannah left.” 

Cas almost flinched at Hannah’s name but he used the dough under his hands to stop himself. He still felt guilty about how he hadn’t returned her feelings. 

“Have you found anyone suitable?” Anael asked.

“I have a few options, I will let you know once I’ve chosen someone,” Naomi responded breezily. “Keep up the good work,” she said as she turned to head out of the kitchen. “Nice seeing you again, Dean.” 

“You too,” Dean replied. 

 

When noon rolled around, Cas followed Dean and Anael across the street to the tavern, where the workers were starting to pile out of the bar. 

“How’s everything going?” Dean asked Ketch as they stopped outside the front door. 

“Good,” Ketch replied. “We’ve managed to install a couple of walls.” 

“That’s great!” Dean grinned. 

“Tomorrow we will finish the remaining walls and get to work on the plumbing and appliances.” 

“Awesome,” Dean replied. 

“We’ll get out of your way now,” Ketch said. 

Cas watched them go before he entered the tavern and let Dean direct him and Anael to a table. They’d decided to come to the tavern for lunch and Dean disappeared into the kitchen to start making their food. Cas saw Anael staring after him, a longing look on her face, she blushed when she saw that Cas was looking. 

“Sorry.” 

Cas shrugged, trying to play off the protective animal that was taking root in his eyes. “I can’t blame you for staring.” 

“You sure got lucky with him,” Anael said over a sigh. 

“I know,” Cas replied. 

Dean poked his head out of the kitchen and smiled at them. “Burgers are cooking!”

“Is Benny not in yet?” Cas asked. 

Dean shook his head. “No, he’ll be here soon.” 

Almost on cue, Benny came into the tavern and his eyes landed on Cas and Anael. “Afternoon,” he said. 

“Hi Benny,” Cas replied. 

“Where’s Dean?” Benny asked. 

“Right here,” Dean said as he waved from the kitchen door. “Now if you’d excuse me, I have burgers to keep from burning.” 

 

When Dean came back with their burgers Cas took a hungry bite and he shut his eyes as the wonderful tastes spread across his tongue. “Good?” Dean asked. 

“Amazing,” Cas replied, “as usual.” 

“I could never make something like this,” Anael said as she raised her burger to her mouth for another bite. 

“Me either,” Cas agreed. 

Dean shrugged. “It’s a gift.” 

“You two make the perfect couple, between the two of you you can make anything.” 

Cas laughed. “True.” 

 

When lunch was over, Cas gave Dean a quick kiss goodbye, as the tavern was still empty except for them, and he returned to the bakery with Anael. 

The rest of the day went quickly and soon Cas found himself getting into his car and heading home. He was surprised to find Dean’s car parked outside when he got there. Curiosity piqued, Cas entered the apartment. It was dark save two flickering candles, but Cas could still make out Dean standing behind the kitchen table. The table was laden with food, from bread rolls to the two plates that were filled with steak, potatoes, and green beans. 

“Dean,” Cas breathed. “What is all this?” 

“It’s our six month anniversary,” Dean replied. Cas felt like his breath had been knocked out of him. How had he forgotten? “Don’t worry,” Dean said, as if he was reading Cas’ mind, “I know you didn’t get me anything, and I didn’t get you anything, except for this dinner. We’ve both been busy and I almost forgot until yesterday, but I wanted to do something nice for you, to show you how happy I am that we met.” 

Cas’ heart was about to explode with gratitude and he couldn’t stop himself from running to Dean and flinging his arms around his neck. “It’s beautiful,” he breathed, tears in his eyes. 

“You like it?” Dean asked as he stared into Cas’ eyes.

“I love it,” Cas replied. “Thank you.” 

Cas let their lips meet and when they pulled apart Dean said, “We should eat, before it gets cold.” 

Cas nodded. “Yes, let’s.” 

 

The steak was amazing, which was no surprise considering the kind of culinary artist Dean Winchester was. It was probably the best meal Cas had eaten in a long time and Dean had made sure to include some of the finest wine Cas had ever tasted.

By the end of the meal, they were both a little tipsy and filled with laughter. Cas didn’t know when they ended up in bed, but he was laying on top of Dean, thumbing idly at Dean’s hair, a loopy smile on his face. 

“This was amazing, Dean, it was just what I needed, thank you,” Cas said in a low whisper. 

“I’m glad you liked it,” Dean replied as he blinked softly at Cas through heavy eyelids. 

“It was perfect, you’re perfect,” Cas said, the alcohol in his body added a slur to his words.

“So are you,” Dean whispered as he placed a lazy kiss on the corner of Cas’ mouth. 

“I love you so much,” Cas said, emotion cracked his words. 

“I love you too,” Dean replied. 

“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me,” Cas said. It was the truth. He couldn’t imagine what his life would be like without Dean in it. Everything that had happened to him in the months since he’d known Dean would have been much harder without him. Sure, he would have had Gabriel, but Dean provided a comfort that his brother couldn’t, and Cas had grown so used to the strong arms that wrapped themselves around him every night. 

“Likewise,” Dean murmured into Cas’ hair. “Goodnight Cas,” Dean said after a moment, sleep already dragging at his voice. 

Cas curled himself tighter against Dean and let out a content sigh; this was how he wanted to spend the rest of his life, warm and safe with Dean by his side. “Goodnight Dean.”

Chapter Text

***One Month Later***

“Lift with your legs, Sammy!” Dean shouted as he shifted his grip on the couch he was currently trying to bring up the stairs to his completed apartment.

“I am!” Sam grunted back. 

“Well, lift harder!” Dean retorted. “I feel like I’m carrying the whole thing up here!”

You lift harder!” Sam yelled. “You’re not the one with the whole couch pressed against your chest, I’m in the position that has the hardest job!” 

“Oh really?” Dean snapped. “I can’t even see where I’m going!” 

“Would you two quit arguing and just move .” Jess’ exasperated voice sounded from behind Sam. 

Dean heaved a sigh and then lifted the couch up with every remaining piece of strength he had. It took another three minutes, but he and Sam managed to get the couch up the stairs and set it down in the living room. Jess squeezed past them and headed to the kitchen area where she set down a box of kitchen supplies she was carrying. Cas came up behind her, carrying his own box, and when he set it down he turned to Dean. 

“What’s left to bring up?” he asked. 

“Just the coffee table, I think,” Dean replied. 

Cas nodded. “I’ll go get it.” 

“Do you need a hand?” Dean asked. 

Cas shook his head. “It’s pretty light, I can manage.” 

Dean shrugged. “If you’re sure.” 

Cas disappeared back downstairs and Dean returned to helping Sam set up the living room, pushing the couch against the wall and then setting an armchair down next to it. “Hey, Dean!” Jess called. 

“Yeah?” 

“Where do you want your plates to go?” she asked. 

“Anywhere’s good, preferably a cabinet,” Dean replied. 

Jess laughed. “Which cabinet, is what I’m asking.” 

“I don’t know, pick one,” Dean answered. “Just let me know which one you decide on.” 

Jess shook her head with a sigh. “Alright.” 

Dean’s focus was pulled to Cas as he came up the stairs with the coffee table in his hands. He set it down in front of the couch and then dusted off his hands. “What’s next?” he asked.

“We unpack,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll help Jess with the kitchen,” Sam offered. 

“That leaves us to our bedroom,” Dean said with a smirk. 

Sam rolled his eyes and moved into the kitchen with Jess while Dean and Cas headed into their room. Cas got to work unpacking their clothes and Dean started on making their bed. “I still can’t believe we’re doing this,” Cas said as he pushed one of the dresser drawers closed. 

“What?” Dean asked as he straightened out their duvet. 

“Moving into this apartment, together,” Cas replied. 

“It’s no different to living in our old apartment,” Dean said. 

“I know, but it feels so different.” 

“It will for a while,” Dean said as he came over to help Cas with their clothes, “and, you can walk to work, you don’t have to drive anymore, which means we get to sleep in.” 

“Not that we really sleep anyway,” Cas replied with a small laugh. 

He grunted in agreement and then asked, “Can I tell you something?” He timidly placed a folded shirt into a drawer as he waited for Cas’ answer.

“You can tell me anything,” Cas replied. 

Dean swallowed and licked his lips. “Ever since we met, I’ve been having less frequent nightmares, and I think it’s because of you.” 

Cas smiled softly at Dean and placed a hand on his cheek, Dean leaned into the touch. “Me too, and I think the same.” 

“Really?” 

Cas nodded. “Really.” 

Dean smiled and he and Cas continued to work on putting away their clothes and anything else that belonged in their room. When they finished with that, Dean ended up in the bathroom to put up their shower curtain and Cas brought in some towels and soap. 

“Dean!” Sam called from the kitchen area. 

“Yeah!?” Dean shouted back. 

“We’re done in here!” 

“Be there in a minute!” 

Dean finished with the shower curtain and then headed into the kitchen to find Sam and Jess standing in the midst of multiple empty boxes. “Alright, so where’d you stash everything?” Dean asked. 

Jess gave Dean the lowdown of where all the dishes were and Dean nodded along. “We’re going to head out now,” Sam said once Jess had finished talking.

“Okay, thanks for your help,” Dean replied. 

Sam pulled Dean into a hug and Dean wrapped his arms around his younger brother. “I think this is going to be a good fit for you,” Sam said when he released Dean. 

“Yeah, me too,” Dean grinned. 

Jess gave Dean a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Call if you need anything.” 

“We will,” Dean replied. 

“Are you two leaving?” Cas asked as he came out of the bathroom. 

“Yeah, we’ve got some things to do at home,” Jess replied. 

“Well, thanks for coming,” Cas said as he hugged Jess and Sam in turn. 

“It was our pleasure,” Jess smiled. 

“Bye Jerk,” Sam said. 

“Bye Bitch,” Dean replied. 

 

****

“Wow, Dean, it’s amazing,” Jo said as she stepped into the apartment, her eyes widening as she took it in. 

“Yeah, it’s pretty awesome,” Dean replied. 

“It suits you,” Ellen said as she stepped around Jo to walk around the apartment. 

“Hey, chief, where do you want the burgers?” Benny asked from the kitchen. 

“Just find a plate and put them out,” Dean replied. 

Now that they were all settled in, Dean and Cas were hosting their housewarming party and had invited a few of their friends. Ellen and Jo had been the last to arrive and their apartment was now teeming with people. 

There was Garth, who had already found the burgers and was currently halfway through one of them while he spoke to Benny with his mouth full. Charlie and Gilda were sitting on the couch talking in low voices, Dean had decided to invite them because Charlie was quite the regular customer and he felt like they could become good friends if he got to know her better. Cas was talking with Gadreel at the kitchen table and Anael was sipping a beer in the armchair next to Charlie and Gilda, but Dean could feel her eyes on him. 

Dean picked up a beer from the counter and headed towards her. “Are you enjoying the party?” he asked as he pulled a chair up beside Anael. 

Anael smiled at him. “It’s great, your apartment is wonderful.” 

“Yeah, Cas and I think so too,” Dean replied as he glanced over at Cas. 

“You love him, don’t you,” Anael said quietly. 

Dean turned to look back at Anael and nodded. “Yes, very much.” 

Anael took a sip of her beer and sighed. “Well, you deserve each other.” 

Sympathy made Dean give Anael a small smile. “You’ll find someone, someday. I’m sorry that I wasn’t that person.” 

“You don’t need to apologize,” Anael said as she sipped at her beer.

“But I am sorry,” Dean replied. Anael was a beautiful girl, and if Cas hadn’t come into his life he might have even considered dating her. She’d flirted with him often enough for him to take interest, and he couldn’t exactly ignore that she was definitely his type, but Cas was… well, Cas, he was perfect, and Dean didn’t want anyone else. 

Anael waved her hand and smiled softly at Dean, her eyes clouded with alcohol. “It’s time I start setting my eyes on someone else.” Anael gestured towards Gadreel. “Is he single?”

Dean bit back a laugh. “Yeah, if you want a guy who’s never on time.” 

“I think I’ll go talk to him,” Anael said, completely undeterred by Dean’s answer. 

“Oh he’ll love that, you’re way out of his league,” Dean replied as Anael stood up and made her way over to Gadreel. 

At Anael’s interruption, Dean saw Cas search the room for him and once he was spotted in his chair, Cas headed towards him. “Have you eaten yet?” Cas asked when he reached Dean. 

Dean shook his head. “No, I was busy greeting people.” 

“Well you should,” Cas replied. 

“Yeah, come to think of it, I am pretty hungry,” Dean said as he brought himself to his feet. He headed over to the counter, plucked one of Benny’s burgers from a plate and then headed back to his previous seat, with Cas following him. 

“So, Dean,” Charlie said when he’d sat back down with Cas beside him, “does this mean the tavern will be open earlier and later, now that you’re living here?”

Dean chuckled.  “No, we’re keeping the same hours, but I might be able to make an exception just for you.” 

“I see,” Charlie said as she took a swig of beer. 

“What do you think of the place?” Dean asked over a mouthful of burger. 

“It’s wonderful,” Charlie replied. “Gilda and I are actually trying to look for something similar.” 

“Oh?” 

“Yeah, but we haven’t been able to find anything that we can afford,” Gilda said. 

“Well, the place we just left was pretty great,” Dean said. “You could try there, it was reasonably cheap.” 

“Really?” Charlie asked. 

“Yeah, we could take you down there sometime if you’re interested,” Dean offered. 

“That’d be great!” Charlie exclaimed. 

“We’ll call it a double date, then,” Dean replied with a grin. 

“Sounds perfect,” Gilda said as she pressed a kiss to Charlie’s cheek. 

“Babe, not in front of everyone,” Charlie protested between gritted teeth, but her eyes were bright with laughter. 

“Oh we don’t mind, do we, Cas?” Dean said. 

In response, Cas laid a particularly big kiss on Dean’s lips and then wrapped an arm around Dean’s shoulders as he regarded Charlie and Gilda. “Not at all.” 

Charlie and Gilda began to laugh and Dean and Cas joined in until they were all breathless. “Well, I’m going to get another beer, does anyone need anything?” Dean asked. 

“I’m okay, thank you,” Gilda replied. 

“I’m set too,” Charlie said. 

“Cas?” Dean asked. 

“No thanks,” Cas replied. 

Dean went over to the counter and Garth stumbled towards him. Great. I should have hidden the beer from him . “Dean!” Garth exclaimed. “This is a great apartment, hombre. So great, thanks for inviting me.” 

“Yeah, thanks Garth,” Dean replied as he cracked open his new beer, he was going to need it. 

Garth reached for another beer too but Dean smacked his hand away. “What was that for?” Garth asked. 

“You’ve had enough, if you have any more beer I will have to pick you up off the floor,” Dean replied. 

“I’ve only had one beer!” Garth protested. 

“Exactly,” Dean said as he put a hand on Garth’s shoulders and guided him towards the nearest chair. “Sit there, I’ll make you some coffee.” 

“I don’t want coffee,” Garth slurred. 

“I don’t care, you’re having some,” Dean retorted. 

Dean rummaged around his kitchen for the coffee pot and began to make Garth a large cup. “Hey, Dean,” Benny said as Dean was waiting for the pot to brew. 

“Hey,” Dean replied. 

“I never said, this is pretty amazing.” 

Dean grinned. “Yeah, I think so too.” 

“I’m proud of you for doing this, brother.” 

“Thanks, Benny,” Dean grinned. 

 

The party went on into the night and once everyone left and it was just him and Cas again, he collapsed onto their bed with a sigh. “Dean,” Cas said from beside him. 

“Mmm?”

“We should clean up.” 

Dean groaned. “Later, I’m beat, and I promised Ben I’d go with him to see Lisa in the morning.” 

“Again?” Cas asked, Dean had already been to see Lisa three times in the past month. 

“She’s dying, Cas, and I can’t say no to my kid when he wants someone to be there with him,” Dean replied. 

“I know,” Cas murmured as he let out a sleepy sigh.

“I love you,” Dean said. 

“Love you too.” 

****

“Right this way, Mr. Winchester,” the nurse said as she led him and Ben down the hall.

“Thanks,” Dean said when she pushed open the door to Lisa’s room. 

Ben went to sit by her side and he took her hand in his. “Hi mom,” he said. 

Lisa fixed her clouded eyes on her son. “Who are you?” she asked. 

Dean saw Ben stiffen at her words and when he spoke there was a tremble to his voice. “It’s me, Ben.” 

 Dean stepped up to the bed and laid a hand on Ben’s shoulder. “Surely you remember Ben, don’t you, Lis? He’s our son.” 

“Dean?” Lisa asked.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Dean replied. 

“Are we late for class?” 

Dean shook his head. “No, Lis, you’re in a hospital remember?” 

“Hospital?” Lisa echoed. 

“Yes,” Dean replied calmly as he felt Ben shake under his hand. 

Lisa’s eyes seemed to clear momentarily and she managed to focus on Ben. “Ben?” 

Ben smiled as a tear fell from his eye. “Hi mom.” 

“Oh my beautiful boy, you’re so big now,” she said as her hand closed around Ben’s. 

Dean felt his heart break as he watched Lisa slip back into a drug-induced sleep. Lisa’s doctor entered the room and smiled at them. “How are we all doing today?” he asked. 

“Not so bad,” Dean replied. 

“Good, good,” the doctor said as he picked up the clipboard that was hanging on the edge of Lisa’s bed. “So, Ms. Braeden’s condition has been consistently growing worse, as I’m sure you’re aware,” he said. 

Dean nodded. “Yes.” 

The doctor crossed his arms in front of him and fixed a soft gaze upon Dean and Ben. “I’m afraid that the tumor in her brain has grown quite large, so we have two options. We can make her comfortable and let her pass on her own throughout however many weeks or months she may have left, or we can pull the plug.” 

“No!” Ben shouted, he turned wide, scared, eyes to Dean and Dean felt his heart split in pain for his son. 

“I think we’ll just let nature take its course,” Dean replied.

The doctor nodded. “Very well. Enjoy the rest of your visit.”

“Are you okay?” Dean asked Ben as the doctor was leaving. 

Ben shook his head, dislodging more tears as he did so. “No.” 

“It’ll be okay,” Dean said as he rubbed a hand over Ben’s back. 

“No, it won’t,” Ben sobbed. 

“Okay, maybe it won’t, but I’m here for you, remember? We’ll get through this.” 

Ben turned back to Lisa and ducked his head to rest against the bed. “I love you mom,” he said quietly. 

“Come on, let’s go,” Dean said gently. 

Ben stood up, with some effort, and let Dean lead him out of the room. “Can I stay with you tonight?” he asked. 

“Sure,” Dean replied. “If that’s what you want.” 

“It is,” Ben said firmly. 

“Is everything okay with your grandparents?” Dean asked as they left the hospital. 

Ben nodded. “They’re just… they pretend to be happy when they’re around me, but I can see how sad they are and I’m done with their fake smiles, I need a break.” 

Dean put an arm around Ben’s shoulders and squeezed. “Alright buddy, you can stay with me and Cas for as long as you need.” 

“Thank you,” Ben sniffed. 

“Of course,” Dean said. 

 

Dean parked the Cadillac in the back parking lot of his tavern and then brought Ben inside and upstairs. “Ben,” Cas said as he looked up from where he was doing dishes that were left over from last night. 

“Hi Cas,” Ben replied. 

“Ben’s going to stay with us for a bit,” Dean said. 

“Okay,” Cas replied with a smile. 

“Why don’t you get settled into the guest room and I’ll come check up on you after I finish helping Cas clean up,” Dean said. 

Ben nodded. “Okay, thanks.” 

Once Ben disappeared into the room Cas blinked at Dean in concern. “How bad is she?” he asked quietly. 

“Bad,” Dean replied as he picked up a dish towel. “She didn’t remember Ben at first.” 

“Damn,” Cas mumbled. 

“Cas, I’m worried about Ben after she’s gone,” Dean said as he placed a dried dish in the cabinet. “Do you think….” he cleared his throat, unsure if his suggestion would make Cas uncomfortable. 

“What?” Cas asked. 

Dean mustered his courage and said, “Do you think he could live with us? Permanently I mean.”

Cas smiled at Dean and pulled him forwards by the damp towel in his hand. “He’s your son, Dean, of course he can stay with us.” 

Dean smiled, love fluttering in his chest. “You’re sure?”

“Yes,” Cas replied. 

“You’re awesome, and I love you, have I said that lately?” Dean asked as he pressed another kiss to Cas’ lips. 

“You never stop telling me,” Cas replied with a chuckle. 

“Good, because you need to hear it,” Dean said as he turned back to the wet dishes. 

Cas went back to washing and he and Dean continued to finish their chore while Dean’s thoughts drifted to Lisa and how her illness would continue to affect Ben. Dean knew how hard it was to lose a parent, especially at a young age, and he hoped that he could provide the comfort that Ben would be craving after she passed, and that Ben would continue to let him be a part of his life. 

Chapter Text

When Cas blinked open his eyes the next morning he found that the space next to him was empty. With a yawn, Cas rolled out of bed and headed into the kitchen. Dean was nowhere to be found, but there was a pile of freshly steaming pancakes on the counter by the stove, with a bottle of syrup sitting beside it. Dean couldn’t have been gone long, considering that the pancakes were still hot, so Cas helped himself to a few and doused them in syrup before sitting down at the table.

Now that Cas was awake, he could hear the distant sound of cutlery and voices coming from downstairs, and he realized that Dean had left to open the tavern. It was Cas’ day off, and Dean said he’d take the night off so they could go do something together, but Cas still had a full day to waste while Dean worked, and he didn’t know how he was going to spend it. 

 

As Cas was halfway through his pancakes the door to the guest room opened and Ben stepped out. His hair disheveled and sticking up in a way that reminded Cas so vividly of Dean that he couldn’t help but smile. “Your Dad made pancakes,” Cas said with a wave of his hand towards the plate of leftover pancakes. 

“Awesome,” Ben said through a yawn. Ben sat down next to Cas with his own stack of pancakes and Cas resumed eating his own. 

“So,” Cas said after a minute. 

Ben looked up from his breakfast. “So?” 

Cas cleared his throat. He wasn’t good with kids, not to mention teenagers, and he didn’t even know why he was trying to talk to Ben, but eating in silence was getting to him and he had to say something. “Do you have plans for today?” 

Ben shrugged as he shoveled a forkful of pancake into his mouth. “Not really, why?” 

Cas swallowed and offered a smile to Ben. “I was just wondering if maybe, you wanted to go for a walk or something.” Cas felt heat flush to his cheeks at the suggestion, this is stupid

Ben set his fork down and fixed Cas with a look that he had seen plenty of times before; sympathy. “You don’t have to be nice to me just because I’m Dean’s kid,” he said. 

Cas hadn’t been expecting that answer and he had to take a moment to shake off his surprise. “I’m not.” 

Ben raised a quizzical eyebrow in disbelief. “Really?”

Cas sighed and folded his hands on top of the table. “Yes, you’re Dean’s kid, but that doesn’t mean I’m just trying to be nice because you’re Dean’s kid. I want to get to know you.” 

Ben stabbed a piece of pancake with his fork and then said, “I’ve heard that speech so many times, from all of my mom’s ex boyfriends, do you honestly think I’m that stupid? You want to get to know me because you love Dean and he loves me and so you think you’re obligated to be a part of my life, even if you don’t want to be. Let me spare you the trouble, okay? You don’t have to try and impress me or pretend to be there for me just to please Dean.” 

Cas was thoroughly taken aback by Ben’s words and he scrambled to try and tell Ben just how wrong he was. “Ben, listen to me,” Cas began, “everything that you just said is in no way true. First off, I’m not your mom’s boyfriend, I’m Dean’s. Second, I love Dean, yes, but it’s so much more than that. I… I want to spend the rest of my life with him, and I want to get to know his son because I want you to be a part of our life, and so does Dean.” 

Ben sighed and met Cas’ eyes, doubt still flickered in their brown depths. “Okay, say I wanted to believe you, what would I do?” 

Cas blinked warmly at Ben and said, “You’d come with me on a walk, and we’d just talk, about anything. I’m sure you want to know a few things about me, and I’d be happy to provide answers for you.” 

Ben nodded slowly as if he were weighing his options. “Alright, fine. One walk.” 

Cas beamed at him. “Great.” 

 

Ten minutes later, Cas was leading Ben down the stairs and into the tavern where Dean was busy behind the bar. “Dean,” Cas said as he stepped behind the bar so he could talk to Dean over the hustle and bustle of the tavern. 

Dean smiled at him. “Oh, hey Cas, good morning.” 

“Good morning,” Cas replied. 

“Did you find the pancakes?” Dean asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yes, they were very good.” 

“I’m glad,” Dean grinned. 

“Dean,” Cas said. 

“Yeah?” Dean asked as he swiped at the counter with his rag. 

“Ben and I are going for a walk,” Cas replied. 

Dean looked up from the counter and let his eyes flick from Cas to Ben. “Oh? Okay, good, have fun.” 

“We’ll be back later,” Cas replied. 

“Bye,” Ben said as he followed Cas towards the door. 

Cas led them down the street and Ben walked slowly beside him. “So,” Cas said after a minute. “Ask me something.” The words were familiar on Cas’ tongue, the same words he and Dean had spoken to each other while they learned about one another, they were the words that had led to the wonderful relationship that Cas was so grateful to have. 

“I don’t know what to ask,” Ben replied. 

“Well then I’ll ask you something,” Cas said. “What’s your favorite activity to do after school?” 

Ben shrugged and stuffed his hands in his jeans pockets. “I don’t know, sometimes I’ll play baseball with some friends.” 

Cas nodded. “So you like baseball.” 

“Yeah, I guess, but I also really like cars.” 

“Cars, huh?” Cas said. “Dean likes cars too.” 

“He does?” Ben asked. 

“Oh yeah, I mean have you seen what he drives? A guy who doesn’t like cars wouldn’t drive something like a Cadillac,” Cas replied with a chuckle. 

Ben let out a short laugh. “Yeah.” 

“Alright, so baseball and cars, anything else you’re really into?” Cas asked. 

“I like cooking too, I guess,” Ben replied. 

“You really are Dean’s kid,” Cas said with a laugh.

“Are we really that similar?” Ben asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yes.” 

“I haven’t even spent my whole life with him, how can we be that similar?” 

Cas paused in his walking to look at Ben. “I don’t think you have to grow up with someone to be like them, what you share with Dean, it’s in your blood, it’s in your nature.”

Ben sighed, dropping his gaze to the ground. “I wish I had grown up with him as my father.” 

“I’m sure he would have done very well in raising you, and he’s in your life now, that’s what matters. Besides, Lisa didn’t do too bad of a job in bringing you up.” 

Ben lifted his head to look at Cas. “My mother… wasn’t exactly the greatest,” he said as they continued to walk. “I always felt like there was something missing from her, I understand now that it was Dean.” 

“She regretted leaving him,” Cas said. 

Ben nodded. “Yes.” Ben paused, leaving room for Cas to say something, but Cas had nothing to say, so Ben continued. “I can’t help but wonder how different my life would have been if she’d just let Dean stay, if she hadn’t pushed him away.” 

“Ben,” Cas said gently, “don’t dwell on what could have been, focus on what you have now. Dean, he’s trying his hardest to be the father that you’ve always wanted. I know you’re aware that if he’d known about you, he would have come running, but he didn’t have a say in any of this.” 

Ben nodded slowly. “I know, and sometimes, I can’t help but hate my mother for that.” Ben’s voice teetered on the edge of tears as he continued. “I don’t want to hate her, Castiel. But it’s so hard not to.”

“She was doing what she thought was right,” Cas replied. He wasn’t sure exactly how to respond to how Ben was feeling, it was completely natural that he should have some buried hatred for the woman that kept him from his father, but Cas wasn’t the person that Ben should be talking to about this. Dean was much better equipped to handle feelings regarding Lisa Braeden. 

“I know, but that doesn’t make it right,” Ben said with a sniff. 

“You should, um,” Cas cleared his throat and met Ben’s tearful gaze. “You should really talk to Dean about this, he has a lot of feelings towards your mother as well, and I think you’d be better suited to talk about this in his company.” 

Ben shook his head. “No, he’ll just tell me that he’s mad at her but he forgives her, or some bullshit like that.” 

“I don’t think he will, Ben,” Cas replied. “I don’t think Dean will ever forgive your mother, and you don’t have to either.” 

“But I don’t want her to die when I can’t resolve how I feel, when I can’t talk to her about why she didn’t let Dean stay with us! She’s never told me why! I just want to know why.” Ben cried. 

They’d stopped walking now, and Ben was shaking in the middle of the walkway while people passed by. Cas carefully placed a hand on his shoulder and guided him into an alleyway so that they could talk without drawing attention to themselves. “Ben,” Cas spoke tenderly, careful to keep his tone soft. “Dean knows why, you should talk to him.” 

“I mean, I know most of it,” Ben said as he wiped at his eyes, “but what I don’t know, is why she didn’t tell him about me.” 

“Talk to Dean,” Cas repeated. “I’m sure he’d be more than happy to explain everything.” 

Ben sniffed and then finally nodded. “Okay, okay I will.” 

“Now, I thought this walk was so we could bond, not talk about Dean,” Cas said. 

Ben nodded. “Sorry, yeah.” 

“Well, you said you like baseball, cars, and cooking, right? So I’ll tell you three things I like: baking, walking, and bees.” 

“Baking I knew, since you work at a bakery, walks make sense considering we’re on one,” Ben said, “but bees ?” 

Ben was staring at Cas with laughter in his eyes, which Cas noted, looked a lot better on the kid than tears. “Yes, bees,” Cas replied as he squared his shoulders. 

“Why?” Ben asked. 

Cas was prepared for this question, and so he had a ready answer. “Because they’re simple.” They kept walking and Cas continued to explain. “They have their purpose in life, to pollinate flowers or to make honey, there’s nothing greater expected of them, and they’re peaceful until provoked, well most of them are. I find them fascinating because they’re not tethered down by anything, they go where they want when they want and they have no qualms. I wish that humans were more like bees, with a simple purpose and not one that revolves around money or success.” 

Ben nodded, a frown of thought creasing his forehead. “That makes sense.” 

They continued to walk for a bit in silence, enjoying the scenery of downtown Lawrence. They were starting to near the park and so Cas edged them towards the park gates. “Have you ever been here?” Cas asked. 

“A few times,” Ben replied. 

“Ask Dean to bring you here, he might want to show you something,” Cas said. 

“What?” Ben asked, curiosity piqued. 

Cas smirked, the memory of the statue of Dean’s mother fluttered behind his eyelids. “It’s not really something that I should show you, just ask Dean sometime.”

“Okay,” Ben said, although Cas could hear the disappointment in his tone.

“It’s too special for me to show you,” Cas said, feeling the need to defend his reasoning. “It has to do with your family.” 

“Oh,” Ben replied. 

“And I just don’t want to overstep by showing you something that Dean may want to have the pleasure to.” 

“I understand,” Ben said. 

“Good,” Cas replied. “Now, shall we continue our walk back towards the tavern?” 

Ben nodded. “Yeah.” 

They turned back in the direction of Dean’s tavern and Cas asked, “So, baseball, cars, and cooking, anything else I should know about you?” 

Ben shrugged. “There’s not much to know.” 

“How’s school going? Have you got a girlfriend or a boyfriend?”

Ben dragged a hand through the back of his hair, again reminding Cas of Dean. “Well, there is this one girl I like.” 

“Oh?” Cas asked, interested. 

Ben blushed. “Yeah, her name is Vanessa.” 

“Vanessa,” Cas repeated, rolling the name off his tongue. 

“Yeah,” Ben said. “She’s a year older than me though, and I don’t think she even knows who I am.” 

“Well, I’m not the most well versed person in the behavior of women, but I’m sure your father would have plenty of smooth moves he could tell you about that might catch her attention,” Cas replied. 

“You really think I should start talking to him about all this stuff?” Ben asked, he sounded shy and Cas couldn’t help but smile softly at him. 

“Yes, I really do. I think Dean would be more than happy to help you.” 

“Okay, but I thought this walk was about us, not Dean,” Ben said with a smirk. 

Cas held up his hands. “You’re right, you’re right.” 

They continued to walk in a content silence, both unsure of what to say. As they walked, a shiver ran up Cas’ spine, causing him to turn and look behind them. No one was there. But it didn’t stop Cas from being acutely aware that they were being watched, and probably followed. 

“Come on,” Cas said, laying a gentle hand on Ben’s shoulder. “Let’s get back to the tavern.” 

“What’s the rush?” Ben asked as Cas began to walk quickly, ever so often glancing over his shoulder. 

“I just think we’ve been gone long enough, we don’t want Dean to worry,” Cas replied. It was a lame excuse, but he didn’t want to worry Ben, and for all he knew it could just be his old war instincts kicking in when there was nothing to worry about, it had happened before. 

They were nearing the alleyway of the tavern that led off to the back door, when Cas felt the familiar poke of a gun at his back. He froze, his hand tightening on Ben’s shoulder. “Move,” a voice said in his ear. Cas forced his feet to bring him into the alleyway, but he didn’t move his hand from Ben’s shoulder. Ben was staring at Cas in terror, but Cas tried to keep his expression calm, this wasn’t the first time he’d been held at gunpoint. 

“That’s it, nice and easy,” another voice said. 

So there are two of them. Cas noted. “Look, whatever you want, just take it,” Cas said, his voice came out sounding even and calm, which Cas was glad for because Ben looked about ready to panic. 

“We want you,” the first man said. 

“Then take me, let him go,” Cas said, acknowledging Ben with a flick of his head. 

“We would, but he’s seen our faces, and we can’t have witnesses.” 

“Virgil, that wasn’t part of the plan,” the first man said. 

“Shut up, Zach, I don’t want to be made by a teenage boy, we have to kill him,” the man, Virgil, said. 

“No!” Cas shouted, fear coursing through him. 

He heard the click of a gun and Cas acted quickly, pulling himself free from Zach’s grip, he rushed forward and leaped in front of Ben as the bullet was emptied from its chamber. Pain seared through Cas’ shoulder as he landed on the ground, but he grunted through the pain and scrambled backwards, where he could put himself between Ben -who was now on the ground- and their attackers. 

Now that Cas wasn’t in front of the two men, he saw that one of them was a short balding man and the other was a taller burly man with dark hair and a stern expression; panic was in the balding man’s eyes. 

“What do you want?” Cas asked through gritted teeth. 

“Michael and Lucifer send their regards,” the burly man said. 

Fuck . “So you’re buddies with my revenge seeking brothers, great.” 

“Virgil, we should go,” the balding man said. 

“Why? I say we finish what we started,” the other man, who had to be Virgil, said. 

“That gunshot will have alerted everyone on this damn block, we should go. We did what they asked, we hurt him, let’s go.” Virgil fixed Zach with a glare but began to back away. As they were nearing the end of the alleyway, Cas spotted the outline of someone blocking their exit. 

“Hands where I can see them!” a woman shouted, Cas recognized the voice of Jody Mills and he felt relief wash over him. 

“Shit,” Zach muttered. 

“Drop your weapons!” Jody snapped as she took a step towards them. 

Zach and Virgil exchanged glances and then the gun Virgil was holding clattered to the ground. “Up against the wall,” Jody ordered. 

The two men obliged and Jody quickly cuffed both of them and then looked over at Cas. “Are you alright?” 

“I’ll live,” Cas grunted. 

“You need a hospital,” Jody said. 

“Just take care of those two, I’ll worry about myself,” Cas replied. 

Jody glared at Cas but began to lead Zach and Virgil out of the alley. Cas shifted on the ground and Ben began to press his hands against Cas’ wound. “You… you took a bullet for me,” he stammered. 

Cas winced as he tried to push himself into a better sitting position. “Yes, great observation.” 

“Cas! Ben!” Dean’s voice reached Cas’ ears and then strong arms were pulling at him, one hand on the wound at his shoulder and the other on his cheek. “Cas, can you hear me?” 

“I can hear you, Dean,” Cas replied. 

Dean’s green eyes were alight with panic and fear as he glanced from Cas to Ben. “Are you okay?” he asked his son. 

“I’m fine,” Ben replied. “Cas… he… he jumped in front of the gun... for me.” 

Dean snapped his eyes back to Cas, tears suddenly springing to life in their green depths. “You took a bullet for Ben?” 

Cas ducked his head. “Well, yeah.” 

Dean pressed a kiss to Cas’ lips. “I love you. Now, come on, let’s get you to a hospital.” Dean began to lift Cas onto his feet and Cas let himself be pulled. 

 

Once Cas was fully wrapped up in bandages and told he could go home, it was late, and Cas was tired and despite the painkillers he was on, his shoulder still hurt. “So, we’ll have to make up our date night sometime,” Cas said as Dean turned his Cadillac into the tavern parking lot. 

“Don’t worry about it,” Dean said as he glanced over at Cas. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”

Dean parked the car and then he, Dean, and Ben, headed inside and upstairs. Ben went straight to his room and Dean brought Cas into theirs. “Is Ben alright?” Cas asked as Dean sat down beside him on the bed. 

“He’ll be okay, he’s just a little shaken up,” Dean replied. 

“Would it help if I talked to him?” Cas asked. 

Dean shook his head. “I already talked to him, in the waiting room at the hospital. He’s just going to need a little while to deal. I mean, it’s not everyday you get a gun aimed at your face.” 

Cas nodded. “Yeah.” 

Dean gazed at Cas with a small smile on his lips. “I still can’t thank you enough for saving Ben.” 

Cas would have shrugged but the pain in his shoulder prevented him. “It was nothing.” 

“No, it was everything ,” Dean said as he pushed back Cas’ hair and pulled him close. “You saved his life.” 

“I didn’t even have to think,” Cas replied. He took Dean’s hand and let his thumb rub absentmindedly at the back of his hand. “He’s your son, a second thought never crossed my mind.” 

Dean kissed Cas and no other words passed between them until they broke apart. “I hope that if Ben comes to live with us, that he’ll learn to love you like a father too,” Dean said. 

“I hope so too,” Cas replied. “He’s not just a part of your life, he’s a part of mine, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Chapter Text

***Three Months Later***

“Ben!” Dean called. “Dinner!” 

Ben had been staying with Dean and Cas for the past three months, only going back to his grandparents every so often on the weekends just so that he wasn’t neglecting them. Dean enjoyed having the kid around and sometimes he’d even pick him up from school, which had become more of a regular thing as of late, and something that Dean still couldn’t quite wrap his head around. He was a Dad . A real, proper, father

“Be out in a minute!” Ben shouted back. 

Dean set down a bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese on the table and then went back to the stove to dish up two more. Cas emerged from their bedroom, his hair damp from a recent shower, and Dean couldn’t resist kissing him as he came up behind him. “That smells amazing,” Cas said as he reached for the bowl Dean had just made up. 

“I hope it tastes even better,” Dean replied. 

“I’m sure it will.” 

Dean dished out his own bowl and then together they went to sit down as Ben came out of his room and joined them. “How’s the homework going?” Dean asked. 

“Slow,” Ben replied. 

“Yeah? What’s holding you up? Science? Math?” 

“Math,” Ben answered as he picked up his spoon. 

“Well, I can’t help you there,” Dean replied. “Math is not my strong suit.” 

“I can give it a go,” Cas offered. 

Ben looked up from his bowl, surprised, but hopeful. “Really?” 

“Sure, I’d be happy to help, I wasn’t so bad at math myself, back in the day,” Cas replied. 

Dean couldn’t help but smile, knowing that Cas wanted to help his son was something that he’d never get tired of seeing. “If Cas fails, you can always give Uncle Sam a call, I’m sure he’d be able to sort you out in five minutes, smart son of a bitch,” Dean said. 

Ben laughed. “Okay.” 

“Hey, I think my math skills will more than rival Sam’s,” Cas said over his spoon of macaroni. 

“Oh, I’m sure they can,” Dean replied as he scooped up his own spoonful of cheesy pasta. 

 

After dinner, Cas went with Ben back to the depths of his room, and Dean cleaned up before he too went into Ben’s room to see if there might be anything he could do to help. 

“It’s trigonometry,” Cas said without looking up from the paper he was bending over. 

“It’s impossible,” Ben huffed as he collapsed on his bed. 

“I wouldn’t say impossible, but it does appear to be difficult to obtain the answer, I’m not even sure if I can do it,” Cas admitted. 

“Well, let’s get Sammy on the phone then,” Dean replied. “I’m sure he’d be happy to help, the dork loves math.” 

Cas sat up, straightening his shoulders, and let out a sigh. “I do believe we may have to resort to the knowledge of Sam Winchester.” 

Dean chuckled. “I’ll call him.” Dean turned away from the offending piece of homework, and entered the kitchen to phone his little brother.  

“Hello?” Sam’s voice crackled over the speaker. 

“Sammy,” Dean said, “it’s good to hear your voice.” 

“Dean, hi, what’s up?” Sam asked. 

“Well, my son is having some math troubles, and I was wondering if you could help,” Dean replied. 

Sam laughed on the other end of the phone, it was loud in Dean’s ear. “Sure, put him on.” 

“Ben!” Dean called. 

“Will he help?” Ben asked, as he came out of his room, homework in hand, and Cas behind him. 

“Yeah, come talk to him,” Dean replied. He held out the phone and Ben took it from him and sat down at the counter, pencil raised. 

Dean headed towards the couch and Cas followed him. Together, they waited out the phone conversation, each reading a book and occasionally looking over to see how far along Ben was. 

Finally, after about forty minutes, Ben turned to Dean. “He wants to talk to you.” 

Dean set his book aside and then went to take the phone from Ben. “Yeah?” 

“So, I wanted to talk about my wedding, which is in a week.” 

“What about it?” Dean asked, he still couldn’t believe Sam was getting married. 

“Well, I’ve realized that we neglected to invite Ben, so if he wants to come, he’s more than welcome,” Sam replied. 

Dean chuckled. “I’m not sure a wedding is his scene, but I’ll certainly ask.” 

“Okay.” 

“Now, you’re sure Jess is certain you’re the one ? Is she sure she wants to be spending the rest of her life with you ? Because you can still tell her that it’s not too late, and she can back out.” 

Dean could practically hear the eye roll that Sam was definitely giving him on the other end of the line. “Trust me, she’s as sure as I am.” 

“Alright, but she will have to live with the knowledge that she could have done a lot better.” 

“Oh shut up.” 

Dean grinned to himself. “I’ll see you in a week.”

“Yeah, see you.” 

“Bitch.” 

“Jerk.”

Dean hung up and then headed back to Ben’s room to propose Sam’s offer. He knocked and Ben’s answering call told him to come in. Ben was sprawled out on his bed, staring at the ceiling, but he looked up when Dean entered. Dean sat down next to him on his bed and Ben moved over a bit to make room for him. 

“So, Sam managed to help you?” Dean asked. 

Ben nodded. “Yeah, but he was even a bit stumped on a few problems for a while.” 

Dean raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Really?” 

“Trust me, Sam was as surprised as you that he didn’t get it,” Ben replied with a small laugh.

“Well, freshman year math is hard,” Dean said. 

“Understatement,” Ben huffed. 

“But you got it in the end?” Dean asked. 

“Yeah, but Sam had to dig up his old textbook to find the right formula we were supposed to use,” Ben replied. 

“Wow, what kind of homework are they giving you?” 

“Hard homework, that’s what,” Ben answered. 

“Apparently,” Dean agreed. “Other than math, you’re doing okay in school, right?” 

“Yeah, everything else is going fine,” Ben said. 

Dean nodded. “Good.”

But , it is only the beginning of the year, so anything can happen.” 

Dean rolled his eyes but chuckled and lightly smacked Ben’s leg. “Alright smartass, I didn’t just come in here to ask about your schooling.” 

“No?” Ben asked, with a smirk. “What did you come here for, then?” 

“Well, Uncle Sam wanted me to ask if you’d be interested in attending his wedding next week?” 

Ben frowned in thought. “Yeah sure.” 

“Really?” Dean asked, in slight disbelief. “I thought you’d find a wedding boring.” 

Ben shrugged. “Sam’s my family, and I’m about to have an aunt, so yeah, I want to attend.” 

“Well okay then,” Dean replied. “I’ll call him back and give him the verdict.” 

“Great,” Ben said as he leaned back onto his pillows and resumed staring at the ceiling. 

“You know, Cas and I are going to play a board game if you want to join,” Dean offered. 

“Sure, why not,” Ben replied. 

Dean brought himself to his feet and Ben followed him out of his room. Dean made the quick call to Sam telling him that Ben would come to his wedding and then he joined Cas and Ben at the kitchen table, where Cas had laid out his favorite game, Sorry. 

“You’d better watch out,” Dean said, “Cas is a freaking wizard at the game.” 

Cas placed the shuffled cards in the middle of the board with a nonchalant shrug. “It’s a game of chance.” 

Dean narrowed his eyes. “Mhmm, sure.” 

“Dean, all I do is draw a card, I can’t help the fact that the cards tend to work out in my favor,” Cas said. He folded his hands in front of himself and leaned forward, a small smile on his face. “Would you like to go first?” 

“I would, but I do believe that youngest goes first, and that’s Ben,” Dean replied. 

“Very well,” Cas said. 

Ben drew his first card, a two, and the game began. It wasn’t long into the game that Dean realized how badly he was losing, as usual , he thought darkly. Cas was winning, no surprise there, he already had two men home and Ben was close behind him with one man in his home, Dean on the other hand, had zero, and three of his men were still at his start position. 

Inevitably, Cas won, and Dean sat back with an annoyed sigh. “Every freaking time, man.” 

Cas stared at Dean and then said, without an ounce of apology in his voice, “Sorry.” 

There was a moment of silence before all three of them broke out into laughter and Dean was grinning from ear to ear, his annoyance at his loss fading. “Well, I think that’s enough for tonight,” Dean said once he’d pulled himself together. 

“Already?” Ben asked. 

“Yes, it’s getting late and you have school tomorrow,” Dean replied. 

Ben sighed. “Okay.” 

“Goodnight,” Dean said. 

“‘Night.” 

“Goodnight, Ben,” Cas said as Ben stood up and headed towards his bedroom. 

Dean and Cas cleaned up the game and then found themselves in their own room and were soon asleep. 

****

“You’re sure I look okay?” Sam asked as he pushed his long hair behind his ear for the seventh time. 

“You look amazing, Sammy,” Dean replied. 

“I don’t know, should I have gone with the tie instead of the bow-tie?” Sam asked, slight panic in his voice. 

“Sam,” Dean snapped. “Get yourself together, you look great, the bow-tie is perfect, if Jess hasn’t backed out by now then I’m fairly confident you don’t have anything to worry about. Just breathe.” 

Sam swallowed hard and nodded as he took a few deep breaths. “Okay, okay, you’re right, I’m being stupid.” 

“Damn straight you are,” Dean said. “Now, we’re supposed to be out there in t-minus one minute, so if you’re done playing with your ridiculously long hair, let’s go get into position.” 

Sam brushed his hands over his pants and then straightened up and clapped Dean on the shoulder. “Thanks for being here, man.” 

“Yeah of course,” Dean replied. “I’m always here for you.” 

Sam nodded. “I know.” 

Dean opened the door and waved Sam through it. “Let’s go, the wedding won’t start without you.” 

Dean followed Sam out of the room and into the large church that Sam and Jess had selected for their wedding. Music played as they entered and took their places at the altar. Dean turned to watch the bridesmaids and ushers walk down the aisle and take their respective places, as well as the flower-girl and ring bearer who were a pair of twins from Jess’ side of the family. 

Finally, Here Comes the Bride, began to play and the doors opened to Jess and her father. Dean couldn’t deny, Jess was beautiful. Her hair was partly pulled up at the back, but the rest of her hair fell over her shoulders in perfectly crafted waves, and her dress hugged tightly to her frame, accentuating her curves.

 Dean felt Sam stiffen beside him. “Dude, relax,” Dean muttered out of the corner of his mouth. 

“I am relaxed,” Sam replied. Dean noticed him consciously try to unbunch his shoulders, unsuccessfully.

“No, you’re not,” Dean said. 

“Shut up,” Sam snapped. 

Jess drew closer and when she reached the altar, Sam stepped forward and took Jess from her father. “You look out for her now, son,” her father said. 

“Yes sir,” Sam replied. 

He and Jess faced each other and held hands while the priest smiled at them and addressed the gathered audience. “We are gathered here today in the presence of God and these witnesses to unite Jessica Moore and Samuel Winchester in the bounds of holy matrimony. If any one can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.” No one spoke and so the priest turned back to Sam and Jess. “If it is your desire to take the vows that will legally unite you at this time, please reply, it is.” 

“It is,” they replied together.

“Do you, Samuel Henry Winchester, take Jessica Lee Moore to be your lawfully wedded wife? From this day forward, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?” 

Sam took a deep breath before he replied. “I do.” 

“And do you, Jessica Lee Moore, take Samuel Henry Winchester, to be your lawfully wedded wife? From this day forward, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?” 

Jess smiled at Sam as she replied, “I do.” 

The priest gestured towards the ring bearer and said, “Samuel, please take the ring you have selected for Jessica.” Sam did as he was instructed and picked up the gold band that was meant for Jess. “As you place it on her finger, repeat after me: with this ring, I thee wed.”

Sam gently moved one hand to hold Jess’ finger steady and then carefully pushed the ring onto her finger. “With this ring, I thee wed.” 

The priest now turned to Jess. “Jessica, please take the ring you have selected for Samuel.” Jess took Sam’s ring from the small pillow and then faced Sam again. “As you place it on his finger, repeat after me: with this ring, I thee wed.” 

Jess began to slide the ring onto Sam’s finger as she said, “With this ring, I thee wed.”

The priest smiled at them and said, “In so much as the two of you have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, by the authority vested in me by the State of Kansas, I now pronounce you, husband and wife. Samuel, you may kiss your bride!”

Sam’s hand rested on Jess’ cheek as he pulled her towards him in a kiss. Dean felt his heart swell with pride and happiness as everyone around them began to cheer. Dean slapped a hand on Sam’s back before he could walk down the aisle with Jess. “Congrats.” 

“Thanks, Dean,” Sam replied as his hand found Jess’. 

The happy couple headed down the aisle and outside to a waiting car that would take them on their first drive as a married couple. 

Dean found Cas and Ben and they headed out to the building where the reception would be. “That was beautiful,” Cas said as Dean drove. 

“Yeah,” Dean agreed. “I can’t believe Sammy’s a married man now.” 

“Do you…” Cas trailed off and glanced shyly at Dean from the corner of his eye. “Do you think we’ll ever be able to get married?” 

Dean nearly stomped on the break in surprise. He’d thought about that a few times, wondering if maybe someday the laws would change and he’d be allowed to marry the man he was pretty sure was the love of his fucking life. “Uh, I dunno. I hope so.”

Cas smiled, worry gone from his eyes. “I hope so too.” 

 

They only had to wait about fifteen minutes for Sam and Jess to arrive at the reception building and when they did, they were all allowed to eat. The array of foods ranged from turkey to hamburgers, with sides of various potatoes, vegetables, and breads. Dean of course, was eyeing the table of desserts, which he didn’t fail to notice had pie on it, along with an intricately decorated cake. Dean knew dessert wouldn’t be served until after the speeches, which Dean had to admit he was kind of nervous for. He had never been very good with the written word, so he hoped he didn’t disappoint Sam. 

 

Once everyone had finished the main course, Sam stood up and tapped his champagne glass with his fork. “Alright, everyone, now is the time you’ve all been waiting for, the maid of honor and best man speeches!” There were a few cheers and Cas squeezed Dean’s hand under the table. 

Jessica’s best friend, Becky, stood up and began to talk about Jess. She spoke about how they’d been inseparable since birth, that they’d attended the same college, and stuck together through everything. Her speech was over far too quickly and then Dean found every pair of eyes turned to him. 

He stood up, his own champagne glass in hand, and cleared his throat. “Where do I even begin with my little brother?” he said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t be doing my job as the older sibling if I didn’t spill the beans on at least one story that Sam might think is a bit embarrassing.” Sam groaned from the table at the front of the room and Jess put a hand on his back as she smiled at Dean, laughter in her eyes. Dean smirked and continued. “Don’t worry Sammy, I won’t say anything too horrible.” 

“Yeah, because that’s comforting,” Sam replied. 

“I think everyone deserves to know the story of the time little Sammy here, thought he could fly,” Dean said. “It was a warm summer day, Sam was eight, maybe nine, we were playing outside and decided to climb up on top of the garage. Now, I was Superman, and he was Batman, so naturally, me being Superman, I jumped from the top of the garage onto the driveway below, because as we all know, Superman can fly. Being older, of course, I was fine, but then Sam decided to jump too and he, unlike me, did not land gracefully. I remember hearing a loud crack and then Sam was in tears. He’d broken his arm.” Dean held up his hands in a placating gesture of reassurance. “Don’t worry, he’s fine now.” That earned him a laugh and a shake of the head from Sam.

 “Sam has come a long way from that fateful day on top of the garage. He’s grown into this overly large, stupidly tall, but very smart , man that I’m so proud to call my brother.” Dean faced Sam now, his glass half-raised. “Sam, you’ve changed a lot from the snot-nosed little kid that I grew up beside. You’ve become a greater man than I could ever hope to be. I wish you well for the future, and I hope you continue to grow, not vertically mind you, you’re already tall enough as it is,” another chuckle from the crowd, “but as a person, and, now, as a husband. I want you to know that whatever you need, I’m there, like always, so just because you’re a married man now, does not mean that you are allowed to ignore me, I expect to receive phone calls from you once and awhile.” 

Sam smiled and Dean saw a tear slip from his eye. “Yeah, of course, Dean.” 

Dean nodded sharply. “Good. Now, without further adieu, would everyone please raise their glasses in a toast, to Sam and Jess Winchester !” 

“To Sam and Jess!” Everyone shouted. 

Dean sat down and Cas grinned at him. “That was a good speech.” 

“Thanks,” Dean replied as he took a sip of his drink. 

 

Now that the speeches were over, everyone watched as Sam and Jess cut their cake and fed each other the first piece. Sam then raised his voice and said, “Alright everyone, dessert is served! And for you Dean, I made sure to include some pie!” 

Dean lifted his glass in a cheers to his brother. “Thank you!” Dean made his way to the dessert table and piled a plate with a slice of cake and blueberry pie, as well as a scoop of ice cream, before returning to his seat to eat. 

 

After everyone had their fill of sweets, Jess did the flower toss, which a woman Dean didn’t know caught (most likely from Jess’ side of the family), and Sam did the garter toss, which was caught by Sam’s college friend, and the brother of Becky, Zach. With both traditional tosses out of the way, the dance floor opened up and Sam and Jess had their first dance, which was followed by the father and the bride, and then everyone else began to pile onto the floor. 

Dean found himself glancing from Cas to the teeming dance floor. “Castiel,” Dean said as he held out his hand, “may I have this dance?” 

Cas laughed and tossed a fleeting look around the room. “Is it safe to dance here?” 

“No one here cares,” Dean replied, his hand still hanging in front of Cas. 

Cas smiled and took Dean’s offered hand. “In that case, yes, you may.” 

Dean led Cas out onto the floor and pulled him close, swaying to each beat of the music. Dancing with Cas felt so right, and Dean was sure that he would never get tired of the feeling of Cas beneath his hands. As the music turned slow and couples began to stand and sway gently from side to side, Dean let his hands move across Cas’ back, drawing him closer, until Cas was fully in Dean’s embrace. 

He rested his chin on the top of Cas’ head and whispered, “I love you.” 

“I love you too,” Cas replied, his voice a deep whisper. 

 

It was getting late and Dean was aware that Ben was growing tired, so, Dean found his way over to where his brother was sitting with Jess on his lap as they talked. “Sammy, we’re heading out, I’ve got to get the kid home.” 

Sam stood up, dislodging Jess, and pulled Dean into a hug. “Okay I’ll see you sometime in the next couple of weeks, after our honeymoon.” 

Dean nodded as he squeezed Sam tighter. “For sure.”

When they broke apart, Dean turned to Jess. “Welcome to the family, sister-in-law ,” he said with a grin. 

“Thanks,” Jess replied through a smile. 

Dean let her hug him and then he turned back to Sam. “Don’t forget to stay in touch, bitch.” 

“I won’t, jerk,” Sam replied. 

Dean turned away from his brother and his bride and then found Cas and Ben waiting for him by the door. “Let’s go.” 

The drive home was quiet, as everyone was full and tired out from the day. The only words that were spoken when they reached the tavern were mumbled ‘goodnights’. As Cas and Dean settled down in their bed, wrapped in each other's arms -per usual- Dean knew, that after today, he wanted to spend the rest of his foreseeable future with Cas, legally married or not. 

Chapter Text

“Castiel! Move! Move! Get down!” 

Cas threw himself into the mud, slipping on the slick substance of water and dirt beneath his feet. He pressed himself against the nearest tree and prayed that the bullets wouldn’t reach him. Explosions sounded beside him, Cas felt the spray of rock and dirt against his face, but he didn’t dare move. 

Someone started to scream and then he heard his name being called again. “Castiel! Get over here! He needs help!” 

Cas’ eyes found the limp form of a soldier that he didn’t know the name of. His eyes were wide with shock, blood trickled from his mouth in a slow stream, and there was a gunshot wound boring a hole in his stomach. 

“B-but I’m not a medic,” he stammered. 

“Our medic is dead!” Castiel’s Captain shouted at him. “Now is not the time to be squeamish, get over here and help me!” Still, Cas hesitated, the sounds of bombs dropping were still around him. “That’s an order Castiel!” Captain Shurley shouted. 

Cas steeled his building nerves and quickly moved over to where his captain was crouching over the bleeding boy. The soldier couldn’t be more than eighteen, only a year younger than Castiel. Upon closer examination of the boy, he could see that it wasn’t just one wound tearing through his stomach. The boy was chalked full of multiple bullets wounds, one through his shoulder, one through his leg, another in his chest, and the one through his stomach. 

“Captain,” Cas said, trying to keep the waver from his voice, “I don’t know what you think we’re going to be able to do, but without a medic, I… I don’t think he’s going to make it.”

Captain Shurley sighed, his bloodied hands falling away from the boy. “You’re right.”

The soldier had stopped breathing, his struggling gasps ceased, and his eyes were staring at the blackened sky. “We need to get to shelter,” Cas said.

“Yes,” Captain Shurley replied. “We must reunite with the rest of our platoon.” 

Cas stood up and his Captain followed him. They made their way across the battlefield, taking careful steps to avoid what could be landmines. When they were nearing the edge of the war-zone, an explosion sounded to Cas’ right and he was thrown into the air, darkness swooped around him like wings as he hit the ground. 

 

Cas woke with a jerky start, drenched in cold sweat. With a groan, he rolled over to find the space beside him empty. It was the second night Cas had spent without Dean, as he was over at Sam’s, helping him sort out married life, and Ben was with his grandparents. Dean was due back any time today, and Cas couldn’t wait to have Dean beside him again. 

For the past two nights, Cas’ nightmares had returned. Without the constant steady presence of Dean next to him, his war memories had leaked through the temporary chink in his armor. 

Cas rolled out of bed and slipped on some clothes before he went to make himself breakfast. As he fried himself an egg, he tried to forget the memories that were burning through his mind, he’d hoped that they were gone for good, that they’d never disturb his dreams again, but he was not so lucky. It took him a little while to get his hands to stop shaking, but once he was able to calm himself down, he headed to work. 

Cas had to admit, it was nice being able to walk to work. Living with Dean in the tavern apartment was great. He was now the one who usually opened the bakery and he would even work behind the register for a little while until Garth arrived, although, Naomi had hired another worker to take the load off of Garth, and her name was Hael. Hael was a good worker, she was sweet, but she could be a little intense sometimes. 

 

Cas was just making his last pie before his lunch break when the kitchen door swung open and Dean stepped through it. Cas didn’t even have to think, he dropped the dough he was kneading and ran towards Dean. He practically leaped into Dean’s arms, which caused Dean to stumble back against the wall in surprise. 

“I take it you missed me,” Dean said with a chuckle. 

“Yes,” Cas replied into Dean’s chest as he hugged him tight. 

Dean’s hands worked soothing circles on Cas’ back and he let all of his worries from that morning fall away as Dean hugged him. “I missed you too,” Dean said. “Nights weren’t the same without you.” 

Cas could tell from Dean’s tone of voice that he hadn’t been the only one suffering from nightmares these past two days. “Tell me about it,” Cas replied. 

“So your nights were filled with bad dreams too?” Dean asked. 

Cas nodded and held onto Dean even tighter. “Mhm.”

“Well, don’t worry, I’m not planning to go away again any time soon,” Dean said. 

“Good,” Cas replied. 

Cas felt Dean’s lips against the top of his head and he tilted his chin up so that their lips could meet. “Well, I’ve got to go open the tavern, but I thought I’d come say hi first.” 

“It was much appreciated,” Cas said. 

“I’ll see you when you get off of work,” Dean said with a smile. 

“Okay,” Cas replied, returning Dean’s smile. 

 

The rest of the day went slowly, Anael showed up after lunch and began to talk about how she and Gadreel had been going on a few dates and were really hitting it off. 

“That’s great,” Cas said. “I’m happy for you.” 

“Yeah, he’s pretty amazing,” Anael replied. 

“Do you think he’s the 'one’?” Cas asked as he rolled out the dough he was working on. 

“I don’t know,” Anael replied. Her eyes tilted up in thought. “Maybe.”

“You know, you’re probably too good for him,” Cas said. 

“Oh shush,” Anael chuckled. 

“I’m just saying,” Cas said, “you are.” Anael blushed and returned to her cookies she was making to hide the redness of her cheeks. 

 

It was around two o’clock when Garth poked his head into the kitchen. “Hey, Cas, Naomi’s here and she said to tell you that you can have the rest of the day off if you want.” 

Cas’ eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Really?” He’d love to go home to Dean as soon as possible.

“No, I’m being sarcastic,” Garth replied with a roll of his eyes. “Yes, really.” 

“That would be amazing,” Cas said as he began tugging at the knot of his apron. 

Garth went back to his cashier job, and Cas found himself hanging up his apron and biding Anael goodbye, before he was rushing across the street to the tavern. 

Dean looked up in surprise when he entered through the front door. Cas sat down at the bar and Dean quickly came over to talk to him. “What’re you doing here?” he asked, glee in his voice. 

“I’ve got the rest of the day off,” Cas replied with a grin. 

“Really!?” Dean asked in excitement. 

“Yup,” Cas replied. 

“That’s awesome,” Dean said. “I’m actually about to leave to go pick up Ben from school, if you want to come.” 

“I’d love to,” Cas replied. 

“Great! Just give me a minute to tell Benny I’m heading out and then we’ll go,” Dean said. 

Cas watched Dean head into the kitchen, he was gone for a few seconds before he reappeared, red leather jacket over his shoulders and a smile on his face. “Ready?” Cas asked. 

“Ready,” Dean replied as he slipped his hand into Cas’. 

Once they were in the Cadillac, Dean set the engine revving and then they were off. Cas rolled down his window and let the fading summer air brush against his hair and face. He could see Dean smiling at him out of the corner of his eye and he felt his heart swell with love for the man beside him. 

 

When they reached Ben’s school, they parked beside the front entrance and waited for the doors to open which would release a wave of highschoolers. It only took about five minutes before there was a massive tide of teenagers rushing outside and scrambling to get into cars. Cas’ eyes found Ben, surrounded by a group of boys. 

Cas glanced over at Dean and saw that Dean’s eyes had narrowed as he watched them. Suddenly, Cas saw one of the boy’s fists fly straight towards Ben. Dean was out of the car in an instant, Cas not far behind him. Ben was holding his own, but he was outnumbered and one of the other boy’s got a good punch on him that brought Ben to his knees. 

“Hey!” Dean shouted, anger lacing his tone. The boy’s looked up from where they were pummeling Ben and one of them stepped away, fear in his eyes, as Dean and Cas drew closer. “What do you think you’re doing?” Dean growled as he came to a stop in front of the bullies. 

The boys stared blankly at Dean as they backed away from Ben, knuckles bloody. “Uh…n-nothing,” one of them stammered. 

“Nothing?” Dean repeated.

“Yeah, nothing,” one of the burlier boys replied.

Dean’s green eyes were ablaze with fury. 

“You don’t scare us,” a blond boy spat. Cas knew his words were all talk, through the way his eyes seemed to downcast as Dean’s angry glare penetrated him.

Dean let out a huff, and Cas saw his jaw tighten. “I didn’t fight in a war to get smart-mouthed by some snot-nosed kid. What gives you the right to bully my son? Do you think you’re better than him or something?” 

One of the kids had the audacity to sneer at Ben and Cas saw Dean’s fists clench at his side. “We saw him crying in the locker room,” he said. 

Cas could practically feel Dean’s anger radiating off of him. “What’s wrong with crying? Do you think it’s not manly enough? Huh? Do you think it’s weak? Do you you!? You think just because you’re ‘men’, doesn’t mean you can’t cry!? There’s nothing wrong with crying! And it’s certainly not something that should result in being beaten up!” Dean’s voice was rising and Cas reached out a hand to try and calm him down. 

“Dean,” Cas said. 

Dean shrugged Cas off, eyes fixed on the boys in front of him. “You have no idea what Ben’s going through right now, no idea.” Dean turned to Cas, face red. “Help Ben up, we’re leaving.”

Cas reached down and helped Ben to his feet, the boy was bleeding in several places, but he was able to get his feet under him enough to lean against Cas’ support. Dean came up on his other side and helped him carry Ben towards the car. 

“It’s just because he’s so fucking gay!” Cas heard one of the boys yell after them. 

At that, Dean spun around, and barreled back towards the boys. “What did you say!?” he growled. “What did you fucking say!?” 

The boy straightened his shoulders, a smirk on his face. “I said: it’s just because he’s so fucking gay.”

If the kid wasn’t under eighteen, Cas was pretty sure Dean would have hit him. Instead, Dean stepped so close to the boy that he had to back up. “Ben isn’t gay, but just so you know, there is nothing wrong with being gay. Nothing. ” Dean backed away from the boy and then addressed the group, “If any of you ever lay a hand on my son again I will end you, do you understand?” 

The boys nodded mutely, the fight drawn out of them. Dean spun on his heel and stalked back over to join Cas where he was still holding Ben. Cas helped Ben into the car and then Dean set them off towards home. 

“Are you okay?” Dean asked Ben. 

“Been better,” Ben mumbled through his swollen mouth. “You didn’t have to do that, you know.” 

“They were hurting you, of course I did,” Dean replied. 

“Now they’re just going to make fun of me even more. I can’t even stand up for myself,” Ben muttered. 

“Hey, no, don’t say that,” Dean said. “I’ll train you up, okay? Teach you how to fight.” 

“You’d do that?” Ben asked. 

“Sure I would,” Dean replied. “Cas can help too.” 

Cas nodded. “Of course.” 

“Between the two of us, you’ll be set,” Dean said. 

“Thanks,” Ben replied. 

 

As soon as they reached the tavern, Cas helped Dean usher Ben inside and into the bathroom where they began to clean up his cuts and bruises. “I’m going to go find an ice pack,” Cas said. 

He left Dean to continue to help Ben, and headed into the kitchen to the freezer. He had to rummage through it for a good minute until he found a little blue ice pack, which he wrapped up in a dish towel, before going back to the bathroom. 

“Thanks Cas,” Dean said as he took the ice pack from him when he returned. 

“Happy to help,” Cas replied. 

Dean handed the ice pack to Ben, who placed it over his left eye. “Alright, just ice that for a good ten to fifteen minutes.” 

“Okay,” Ben said. Ben headed off to his room and that left Dean and Cas alone in the bathroom. 

Dean sighed as he swung himself onto the closed toilet seat and placed his head in his hands. “How long do you think that’s been going on?” 

“The bullying?” Cas asked.

Dean nodded. “Yeah.” 

Cas shook his head. “I don’t know.” 

“Today can’t have been the first time he’s been put down,” Dean said. “I just don’t understand why he didn’t tell me.” He sounded so defeated. 

“Well, did you see how you handled the situation today,” Cas replied. “It was probably because he didn’t want you to embarrass him.”

Dean blinked up at Cas and sighed again. “Yeah, I know I was a bit harsh, but kids like that make me so angry. I just wish he’d told me, I’m his father, I’m here to help.” 

“He probably just didn’t you to think he couldn’t handle a couple of bullies,” Cas said, he tried to sound as gentle as possible. 

“Well, if that’s the case, he’s certainly got my stubbornness,” Dean replied. 

“That he does,” Cas agreed. 

Dean stood up. “I’m going to go talk to him.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean headed off to Ben’s room, and Cas collapsed onto the couch. He was just reaching for his book when the phone rang. Heaving a sigh, Cas went to answer it. 

“Hello, Winchester residence,” Cas said. 

“Um, hello,” a woman replied. She sounded nervous and Cas knew instantly that something was wrong. “My name is Duma, I work for the hospital that is currently taking care of Ms. Lisa Braeden. I’m calling to inform you that she’s not doing very well, the doctors believe she may only have a few hours left.” 

Cas had never particularly liked Lisa, but to hear that she was really, truly, about to die, made his stomach flip and sadness prick at his eyes. “We’ll be there soon,” he replied. 

Duma hung up and Cas took a few deep breaths before he went over to Ben’s room and knocked on the door. “Come in,” Dean answered. 

As soon as Cas entered the room, he saw Dean’s face fall, the fact that something was wrong must have shown on his face. “What is it?” Dean asked. 

Cas’ eyes traveled over Ben, who was staring at him as if he already knew the answer. He turned his eyes back to Dean and took a breath before saying, “Dean, it’s… it’s Lisa.”

Chapter Text

Dean sat down on Ben’s bed and fixed him with a gentle gaze. “Do you want to tell me what all that was about back at school?” 

Ben shifted the ice pack in his hand and blinked at Dean through his good eye. “You heard what they said, that’s what happened.” 

Dean nodded slowly. “Okay.” He paused and licked his lips before continuing. “Ben, how long has this been happening? How long have they been harrassing you?” 

Ben looked away from Dean and focused on playing with the dish towel covering his ice pack. “A couple months or so,” he mumbled.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Dean asked. 

Ben shrugged. “They didn’t get physical until today, I thought I could handle it.” 

Dean opened his mouth to say more, when there was a knock on the door and Dean told Cas to come in. Cas was pale, and his blue eyes were shimmering with sorrow. “What is it?” Dean asked, instantly worried. 

Cas drew in a breath of air, his eyes fixed on Ben, until they shifted to look at Dean. “Dean, it’s… it’s Lisa.”

Something seemed to drop into Dean’s stomach as dread sucked the air from his lungs. “Is she…?” Dean asked. 

Cas shook his head. “Not yet, but the doctor’s say she doesn’t have long, a few hours maybe.” 

Dean nodded. “Let’s go then.” 

 

The drive to the hospital was quiet, but through his rear view mirror Dean could see Ben shaking as silent tears fell from his eyes. Cas was sitting sotic beside Dean, his eyes fixed on the road ahead of them as Dean brought them closer to the hospital. When they were nearing the halfway point, it started to rain, as if the earth somehow knew that Lisa was about to die and was mourning her. 

By the time they reached the hospital parking lot, it was pouring, and the instant Dean stepped out of the car he was hit in the face with fat raindrops. He brushed them away and then headed towards the front doors. Cas gave Dean’s hand a squeeze before they entered the hospital and Dean was grateful to have him there for support. 

The receptionist waved them down the hall, already knowing who they were there to see. Dean hesitated in front of the door to Lisa’s room, but Ben rushed past him so Dean was forced to follow. 

A nurse was sitting beside Lisa’s bed but she got up when they entered, her expression was grave. “I’m afraid, it’s worse than we thought, she may have merely minutes left,” she said. 

Dean swallowed hard and nodded. “Okay, thank you.” 

Slowly, he walked towards Lisa’s bed. Ben had slipped into the chair the nurse had been sitting in and was now holding Lisa’s hand, tears falling unceremoniously from his cheeks. There was commotion in the doorway and Dean looked over to see Lisa’s parents enter the room. Dean regarded them with a careful nod, but they ignored him and went straight to Lisa’s side. 

Dean hovered at Ben’s shoulder as Lisa blinked up at them. “Why all the long faces?” she asked, a smile twitching on her lips. When no one answered her, her smile faded and she let out a breathy sigh, her eyes focused on Ben and her eyes filled with tears. “I love you.” 

“I love you too, mom,” Ben choked out. 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. Dean didn’t know if it was an apology to everyone or to Ben, but when she met Dean’s eyes he saw regret glittering in her tears. “Dean,” she rasped. 

Dean gave her a weak smile. “Yeah, Lis, I’m here.” 

“I… I never stopped… loving you,” she said. Her voice was merely a low whisper now. Dean knew that she was fading away, it was taking all her remaining strength to speak. 

Dean bent down beside her and placed his hand on top of Ben’s where it was clasping Lisa’s hand. “I know,” he replied. He couldn’t say it back, he couldn’t. It wouldn’t be true, he didn’t love her like that anymore, he was in love with Cas.

“Forgive me,” she begged.

Dean hung his head. He couldn’t. That, the one thing she was asking of him, on her deathbed no less, was something he couldn’t give. “Lis,” he began. 

Lisa lowered her eyes, tears falling freely from their brown depths. “It’s okay.” Her eyes now found Cas, who was standing off in the corner of the room, she beckoned him closer and Cas hesitantly came. “You… look out for them,” she gasped. 

Cas nodded. “I will.” 

Lisa now looked at her parents, who were crying hard now. “Thank you… for everything. I love you all,” she said, it was barely audible but in the silence of the room her last words were still heard.

The machines beside Lisa’s bed began to beep erratically and then the sound of her heart stopping as the monitor flatlined filled the room. Ben let out a choked sob and Dean felt his own tears filling his eyes. Ben turned into Dean and Dean wrapped his arms around his son as he cried, his shirt slowly becoming damp as Ben’s tears leaked into the fabric. 

A few nurses came into the room to cover up the body and Dean took Ben out of the room while her parents began to talk about funeral plans through their tears. Cas followed Dean and Ben into the waiting area, careful not to invade Ben's space as he grieved but also sticking close enough to Dean to offer him some comfort. 

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” Ben said into Dean’s chest. 

“I know buddy, I know,” Dean replied as he rubbed his hand over Ben’s back. Ben hugged Dean tighter and it was all Dean could do to keep his own tears at bay. 

He didn’t know how he felt about Lisa’s death. Sure, she’d been a part of his life for the majority of his high school years, she’d given him Ben, and he had loved her. He knew he was sad, but there wasn’t a gaping whole in his chest that used to be filled with Lisa. He’d moved on from her, he’d let her go a long time ago. It was seeing how badly Ben was taking her death that was causing Dean pain. 

 

By the time headed home, Ben was still a mess, and Dean had adopted a solemn expression. Cas hadn’t said a word and, in a way, Dean was grateful for it. Ben disappeared into his room and shut the door, leaving Dean and Cas to head to their own room. 

Dean sat down on their bed and pulled his shoes off before collapsing against the pillows. Cas chose now to speak for the first time since Lisa had talked to him. “How are you doing?” 

Dean sighed as he scrubbed a hand down his face. “I’m okay,” he answered honestly.

“You sure?” Cas asked. 

“Yeah, actually,” Dean replied.

Cas climbed into bed beside Dean and linked their hands together. “Okay.” 

 

****

Lisa’s funeral wasn’t as full as Dean thought it would be, but there were people he recognized, one of them being Garth. 

“Hey amigo,” Garth said as he sat down beside Dean. 

“Hey Garth,” Dean replied. 

“How are you doing?” Garth asked. 

Dean shrugged. “I’m alright.” 

The service began before Garth could say anything else and Dean listened to Lisa’s parents talk about her growing up and raising Ben on her own. A few people talked about being friends with her through school, and then there was silence and Dean felt everyone’s eyes turn to him. 

Did they really expect him to say something? What was he even supposed to say?

Dean sighed and dragged himself to his feet and to the front of the room. “Lisa was my girlfriend in high school,” he began. “We broke up right before I went off to war, but what she didn’t tell me was why. It wasn’t until just this past year that I found out I had a son. Lisa gave me Ben, and for that I will always be grateful. May she rest in peace.” That was it, that was all he could say, anything else would be a lie. Cas gave Dean a reassuring smile when he sat back down and Dean appreciated it. 

The service ended and then they headed off to the graveyard where her coffin was lowered into the ground. Ben clung to Dean’s side the whole time and once the dirt was piled into the ground they headed back to the tavern and Ben locked himself in his room. 

Dean knew he needed space, and so he was inclined to give it to him. He called Ben’s school and told them he wouldn’t be in for a while. The only time Ben came out of his room was to eat, and even then he didn’t have much. 

 

It was nearing the end of day four, when Dean decided he needed to talk to him. One knock on the door earned him a stern “go away” from the teenage boy inside, but today, Dean was insistent. “Ben, please, we need to talk.” 

There was some shuffling on the other side of the door and then it was flung open and Dean was greeted by his disheveled son who looked like he hadn’t slept in a month. His eyes were red-rimmed and he was pale, save for the purple bruises that were still healing along his eye.

 “Go away,” Ben snapped, this time at Dean’s face instead of behind a closed door. 

“Ben,” Dean said sternly. “You can’t keep shutting me out, I know you’re in pain, I know you’re grieving, but there’s something I need to talk to you about.” 

Ben crossed his arms and gave a disdainful sniff. “What is it?” 

Dean gestured to the room Ben was guarding. “Can I come in?” 

Ben sighed. “Fine.” 

Dean entered the den that was Ben’s room and pulled his desk chair out to sit in while Ben occupied his bed. “I just,” Dean paused and ran a hand through his hair and then down his face. “I was wondering,” he restarted, “if you wanted to make your living arrangements here permanent?”

Ben’s deep frown, that had been plastered to his face since his mother’s death, faltered. “You’re asking me to live with you?” 

Dean nodded slowly. Crap, was this the wrong thing to say? Ben had seemed so at home these past months, he just thought… “Yeah,” Dean said hesitantly. 

Ben’s mouth almost ticked up in a smile. “Of course I want to stay here, with you, and Cas.” 

Joy filled Dean’s chest and he smiled. “Really?” 

Ben nodded. “Yeah.” 

Dean rubbed absentmindedly at the back of his head and asked his next questions. “And do you want me to be your legal guardian? Because one call to Sam and it can happen.” 

“I think I’d like that,” Ben replied. 

“Great, awesome,” Dean said, unable to control his happiness. Dean stood up to leave but then he stopped and looked back at Ben. “If you want to talk about… it ...just let me know.”

Ben nodded. “Yeah, okay, thanks.”

Dean left the room and headed off to call Sam. Sam was more than happy to arrange everything and Dean hung up with a smile, sometimes having a brother as a lawyer really comes in handy. 

“Everything went okay I take it?” Cas asked from where he was sitting at the kitchen table, playing solitaire. 

“Yeah,” Dean replied as he sat down next to Cas at the table. “Quit playing that stupid game and deal me into something.” 

Cas sighed but scooped up the cards that were set out in front of him and shuffled the deck before dealing what Dean soon found out was go fish. 

 

****

“Show me again,” Ben said. 

Dean pulled another glass from underneath the counter and quickly and expertly filled it with the correct amount of liquor. “There’s nothing to it,” Dean said as he set the whiskey bottle down in front of Ben. 

Ben’s fingers closed over the bottle and he shot Dean a tentative look. “I’m not sure I have your talent.” 

“Nonsense, you’re a Winchester, trust me, if there’s one thing us Winchester men are good at, it’s pouring liquor, you’ve got the talent,” Dean replied. He placed an empty glass in front of Ben and then watched as Ben carefully poured the honey-liquid into the glass. 

“Is that right?” Ben asked as he set the bottle back down. 

Dean stooped to squint at the bottle and then smiled. “Yup, you’ve nailed it. What did I tell you, talent .” 

Ben blushed and Dean saw Ash grin at him. “You training this young fella to be just like you?” Ash asked as he took a long swig of his beer. 

“Well someone’s got to take over the family business,” Dean replied with his own smile. 

“I’m certain Ben will do just fine,” Ash said. 

Dean left Ash to his beer and herded Ben into the kitchen. “Just so you know, you don’t have to work the tavern if you don’t want to, I want you to do what you want.” 

Ben nodded. “Thanks, but I like learning about the tavern.”

Dean’s smile spread into a full on grin. “Awesome.” Dean clapped his hands together and finished showing Ben around the kitchen before he brought him back out behind the bar. “Okay, so these are all the different kinds of liquor we have here. Now, remember, when you mix a drink, don’t worry about trying to be quick, that’ll come later with practice, just focus on getting the right amount of each liquid in the drink, okay?” 

Ben nodded. “Okay.” 

“Why don’t you mix up a whiskey sour, that’s probably one of the easiest drinks you could make,” Dean said. 

Ben got to work and Dean was amazed at how effectively he managed to make the drink. “Did I do okay?” Ben asked after he poured the contents of the mixing container into a glass. 

“You did awesome ,” Dean replied, pride shining in his eyes. “I think you’ll fit right in around here.” 

“Can we go visit Cas now?” Ben asked. 

Dean nodded. He’d promised Ben that, after they spent a little while in the tavern learning about serving drinks, he’d bring Ben over to the bakery to get one of Cas’ famous pies. “I think you’ve more than earned it.” 

When they arrived at the bakery, Cas brought Dean and Ben into the kitchen and told them that a blueberry pie was almost done. “You’re the best,” Dean said as he gave Cas a quick kiss. Anael snickered in the background and Dean turned to look at her. “Oh shut up.” 

“Yeah, shut up, I bet you and Gadreel are just the same,” Cas said, a glint of teasing in his tone. 

Anael straightened her shoulders and stuck out her chin. “It’s none of your business what we are.”

“And it’s none of your business what I do with my boyfriend,” Cas retorted. 

Anael’s lips turned up in a smile and soon she, Cas, Ben, and Dean were all laughing. “Alright, get back to work,” she said with a chuckle.

 

Ten minutes later, the pie was done and Cas served up a few plates. They crowded around the flour-dusted table and dug into their dessert. Seeing Ben smiling over his pie and Cas’ proud expression as he watched Ben enjoy the dessert he’d made was something that Dean could definitely get used to. This was his family now, and Dean wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Chapter Text

Cas pulled what he was pretty sure was the thousandth pie he’d made that day, out of the oven and set it on the table to cool. It was however, the last pie of the day, so he began to clean up the kitchen. The pie in question was not going out into the display cases to await customers for the next day; this pie was coming home with him. He’d made it specifically for Dean, his favorite, sweet cherry pie. 

“Well, we’re all closed up,” Anael said as she came back into the kitchen and hung her apron by the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

“Goodnight,” Cas replied. 

“Goodnight.” Anael said. She disappeared through the back door and Cas soon followed her, cradling the pie in his hands as he crossed the street. 

Dean looked up from behind the bar counter when Cas entered and a warm smile came across his face. “Is that what I think it is?” he asked, eyeing the pie in Cas’ arms. 

“It’s for after dinner,” Cas replied sternly as he made his way to the stairs that led up to their apartment. Dean frowned at Cas but didn’t say anything else as Cas mounted the stairs to go start dinner. 

Ben was sitting at the kitchen table when Cas reached the apartment. Homework was sprayed out around him, textbooks open and papers crowding him. “Hi,” Ben grunted when he saw Cas. 

“Looks like you have lots of work to do,” Cas said as he set the pie down on the counter. 

Ben nodded, twirling a pencil between his fingers. “I have projects in three of my classes, all due on the same day, and other homework on top of that.” 

“That sounds unpleasant,” Cas replied as he came to sit in a chair beside Ben. 

“It is,” Ben confirmed. 

“Well, can I make it better by getting to work on some dinner?” Cas asked. 

“Food sounds amazing,” Ben replied. 

“Well, what would you like? I’ll make whatever you want, although I’m warning you, I am not the greatest cook.” 

“Honestly, I’ll eat whatever you make, I’m too hungry to care,” Ben said. 

“I think there’s some chicken in the fridge.” 

“Chicken is great,” Ben replied as he bent back over his homework. 

Cas headed to the fridge and pulled out a chicken from the shelf. He got to work heating up the oven and was about to begin to season the chicken when footsteps sounded on the stairs and Dean emerged. 

He paused by Ben and ruffled his hair as he asked, “How’s it going, champ?” 

“Slow,” Ben replied with a groan. 

“You’ll get there,” Dean said. 

Leaving Ben to his mountain of homework, Dean came over to where Cas was busy with the chicken. Cas let Dean pull him into a kiss. “How was work?” Cas asked. 

“Great,” Dean replied. “You?” 

“Long,” Cas answered. 

“I wasn’t going to say anything, but you do look beat,” Dean said. 

“I feel beat,” Cas replied. 

“Well, never fear, your amazing boyfriend is here now. What do you say you let me take care of dinner and you can go take a hot shower,” Dean offered. 

Cas gazed at Dean for a moment, again marveling at how he’d ended up with such a wonderful human being. “Thank you.”

Dean took Cas’ spot at the counter and Cas headed off to the bathroom, where he turned on the shower and then climbed under the heavenly spray. He washed all the flour, sugar, and dough from his skin and let the aching bones in his body find comfort as steam fogged in the air around him. 

When Cas finished, he got dressed and then headed back into the kitchen. Dean had put the chicken in the oven and was now sitting next to Ben, clearly trying to help him with his homework. 

“You know, I don’t understand why school’s even want you to learn algebra. I’ve never used algebra once since I left school. It’s just a waste of time,” Dean grunted. 

Cas came up behind Dean and placed his hands on Dean’s shoulders, he gave them a squeeze and then leaned forward. “Need help?” he asked Ben. 

“Yes,” Ben replied. 

“Alright, scoot over Dean, let’s see what I can do,” Cas said. 

“We’re using the quadratic equation,” Ben replied.

“Okay, I think I remember what to do with that,” Cas said. 

Dean stood up and Cas watched him go to the fridge to retrieve a beer. “You two mathletes have at it, I’ll keep an eye on our dinner.”

Cas worked with Ben until Dean declared that the chicken was done, they’d only managed to get through about three problems. “Freshman math is incredibly difficult,” Cas commented as he picked up his fork. 

“I’m telling you, you’re never going to use anything you learn in math,” Dean said, “so don’t sweat it.” 

“I am definitely not going to become a mathematician,” Ben replied.

Cas chuckled at Ben’s words. “I’d say that’s a good call.”

After dinner, Cas went to cut the pie and serve it up. When Cas set Dean’s piece in front of him Dean immediately broke into a smile. “Cherry pie,” he said. 

“You’re favorite,” Cas replied. 

“You know, I should have started dating bakers sooner,” Dean said as he dug into his pie. 

Cas grinned and kissed the top of Dean’s head. “So that makes me the first baker you’ve ever dated?” he asked as he sat down with his own pie. 

“The one and only,” Dean replied. “And you’re the best damn baker in the entire world.” 

Cas huffed a laugh. “I don’t know about that.”

“Well, you are to me,” Dean proclaimed. 

Across the table, Ben rolled his eyes and muttered, “You guys are so gross.”

“Hey, you decided to stay with me, so this is what you have to deal with,” Dean replied as he pointed his fork at Ben. 

“Maybe I’ll go live elsewhere,” Ben said as he stabbed a piece of pie crust with his fork. 

Dean raised an eyebrow at his son. “Oh really? You want to go back to your grandparents?” 

Ben shook his head. “Hell no, but Sam and Jess might have a vacancy in their house.” 

Dean let out a horrified gasp. “You’d leave us to go live with Sam ?!” 

“If you keep doing all that mushy stuff, yeah I might,” Ben replied, stone faced in his threat. 

Dean sighed. “Alright, alright, we’ll tone it down a bit, but being in love isn’t exactly something you can turn off.” 

Cas felt like he could melt on the spot at Dean’s words and he reached over to give Dean’s hand a squeeze. “He’s right, someday you’ll understand.” 

“Speaking of,” Dean said, mouth full. “How are things going with you in the relationship department? Found anyone yet?” 

Ben shrugged. “No.” 

“What about… what was her name? Vanessa?” Cas asked. 

“Oh, yeah, that didn’t pan out,” Ben replied. 

“Vanessa? Who’s Vanessa?” Dean asked in surprise. 

Cas blinked at Dean in confusion. “Ben didn’t tell you about Vanessa?”

Dean shook his head and stared expectantly at Ben. “No.” 

Cas fixed Ben with an incredulous stare. “I thought you were going to talk with Dean about her.”

“It never came up,” Ben said. 

“Who’s Vanessa!?” Dean asked, dropping his fork in frustration that he didn’t know what was going on.

“She was just a girl I liked, but she’s off limits,” Ben replied with a nonchalant shrug. 

“Why is she off limits?” Dean asked. 

“She already has a boyfriend,” Ben said.

Dean took a sharp intake of air that hissed through his teeth. “Oh, yeah, that’s a slight roadblock.”

“Just a slight one, yeah,” Ben agreed. 

“Well, if she breaks up with him… jump in there,” Dean said. “In the meantime, there are other fish in the sea.” 

Ben sighed. “Yeah.” 

Their conversation faded out in favor of finishing off their plates of pie, which Cas had to admit, he did a pretty good job of making. 

After dessert, Dean cleaned up while Cas resumed helping Ben with his homework. By the time they finished the worksheets Ben had been assigned, it was well past ten o’clock and Cas was tired and just wanted to curl up in bed next to Dean. 

Dean had been reading on the couch, and was lightly dozing when Cas shook him. “Wha-?” Dean grunted as he snapped out of his daze. 

“You ready for bed?” Cas asked, an amused smirk on his lips. 

Dean sniffed and set his book down. “Yeah, I guess so.” 

They headed to their room and Cas was asleep in no time, Dean’s arms wrapped protectively around him.

****

“Alright, I need half a cup of flour,” Cas said as he poured a mix of eggs and melted butter into a bowl. 

“One half cup of flour, okay,” Ben replied as he dipped his hand and a measuring cup into a bag of flour. 

Cas reached out a hand to stop Ben while his hand was still submerged in the flour bag. “Now, the trick with flour is that you should fluff it around a bit before scooping it up.” 

“Fluff it?” Ben echoed. “Why?” 

“Because, flour tends to settle when it’s been sitting for a while, therefore, it becomes very compact, and if you don’t mix it up a bit before you use it, you’ll end up with way more flour than you need,” Cas explained. 

“Oh, I see,” Ben replied. 

“So, gently fluff it a bit and then once you have it in the measuring cup, use the back of a knife and get rid of the excess flour on top of the cup,” Cas instructed.

Cas watched as Ben did as he was told and then brought the flour over to the bowl Cas was using. “I dump it in here?” Ben asked. 

“Yup,” Cas confirmed. 

After Ben put the flour into the bowl, Cas added some cocoa powder and then handed Ben a bag of sugar. “Now we need half a cup of sugar.” 

Ben nodded and went to rinse out the measuring cup. Once it was clean and dry, Ben plunged his hand into the sugar bag and then paused to look at Cas. “We don’t fluff the sugar, right?” 

Cas shook his head with a laugh, he knew it was a joke. “No, there is definitely no need to fluff the sugar.” Ben nodded and turned back to gathering enough sugar into the measuring cup and once it was full Cas again told him to add it to the bowl. Ben did so and then Cas handed Ben a whisk. “Okay, now mix it all together.”

“Me?” Ben asked in surprise. 

“Yes, you, I’m teaching you how to make brownies, if you’re going to learn you have to do some of the heavy lifting,” Cas replied. 

Ben sighed and took the whisk from Cas. “Okay, okay.” 

Ben began to slowly whisk together the ingredients and Cas let out a heavy sigh. “Put your shoulder into it.” 

Ben sighed but followed Cas’ instructions and then after a minute, he stepped back and pushed the bowl towards Cas. “Is that good enough?” 

Cas peered into the contents of the bowl, that was now a dark brown mixture, and nodded. “Looks like it to me.” 

“So, what now?” Ben asked. 

“Now we bake it,” Cas replied. 

“And that’s it?” 

Cas nodded. “That’s it.” 

“It’s simpler than I thought it would be,” Ben said as he began to scrape the brownie batter into a baking tray.

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