“Are you nervous?” Anna whispered to him as they stood backstage behind the curtain that lead to the stage, that further lead to the hot lights, and beyond those was the crowd of people watching… waiting for the concert to start. “I mean, I would be, but… you’re pretty confident-.”
“Me? Confident?” Castiel snorted. “I am by no means confident… I’m positive everyone in the entire choir thinks I can’t really sing, that I just lip sync it all, or say watermelon all the time. The only reason you know is because you helped me practice.”
“And you’re great,” Anna insisted. “Dean is going to love it.”
He could only shrug at Anna’s proposal. If Dean did love it, then he would considering himself successful, but Dean could easily get up, walk out, and then never speak to him again. Not that success was really the goal, the goal was simply to make Dean see that he was not alone. That he had a friend in Castiel; that he could trust him with his troubles and he would do his best to ease his mind.
Dean was not comfortable with himself; being in his own skin scared him more than Afghanistan ever had. Being a bisexual man in the military had terrified him with the fear of being discovered, and now that he was out of the military, discharged due to terrible PTSD, he was still afraid. Dean lived most of his life in fear - fear of being outed, fear of the world, fear of noise, shadows on his bedroom wall, loud thunder, fireworks, strangers.
Castiel had grown to adjust to Dean’s episodes and fear. The hardest time had been the night of July 4th. The fireworks had gone off and Dean had barricaded himself inside his bedroom, huddled under his desk in absolute fear. Ever since then, Sam - Dean’s brother - and Castiel had insisted on staying with him during any events of such grandeur nature.
Sam had been surprised by the easy way Castiel had assimilated into Dean’s life, since Dean was not a man of trust. Their first meeting had not gone well, with Dean not making eye contact, his answers short, blunt, and grunts more than words. They had met at a carnival Castiel had been working at, behind a food booth that happened to sell slices of pie. Dean loved pie. Castiel had smiled at him, wide and genuine, since he could see Dean’s nervousness at interacting with people.
He knew that fear.
People scared him too.
Afterward, Castiel had hoped and prayed the mysterious man with scruff, dressed in plaid would return.
They had returned on one of the last days right when Castiel had been ready to leave for the day. Dean had approached the booth, looking just as terrified as he had the first time, and then when he had seen Castiel ready to leave, that had only made him more anxious.
“You’re leaving, aren’t you? You’re… you’re going home- I’m sorry. I should leave…”
“No,” Castiel said quickly, setting his coat down. “Do you want another slice of apple?” He smiled, trying to reassure Dean that it was perfectly fine that he stayed later to help him.
“Do you have pecan? Most people don’t have pecan, I love pecan…” Dean spoke too quickly, nervously, looking uncomfortable, his eyes shifting around his environment. He flinched when something made a noise behind him, making him whip his head around to see.
Castiel knew then. His older brother, Michael, had the same experience. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He knew it well. “Yes,” he said calmly and quietly. “We do. Have pecan, that is.”
Dean turned back to him, his face slowly relaxing. “I’m Dean.”
“Castiel. It’s nice to meet you, Dean.” Castiel grabbed the largest slice of pecan and handed it over. When Dean reached for his money, he shook his head, and held up his hand. “On me.”
Dean stared back at him in wonder, as if he couldn’t believe such an act of kindness had just occurred. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. Positive.” He smiled more.
Dean slowly took the pie, their fingers brushing slightly. It was like an electric shock up Castiel’s arm; Dean was wondrous.
“Are you going home… for good?” Dean asked suddenly.
“Um, I was, yes…”
“You should… stay.”
Castiel could feel a warmth spread across his body. He was absolutely certain Dean did not just invite people to hang out with him, especially people he did not know well. So he nodded and together they walked over to where his younger brother Sam was sitting with his girlfriend Jessica.
They had all sat together, gotten to know one another, and Castiel dared to think that Dean even attempted to flirt with him. It had been cute, and as they continued to explore one another, he had simply fallen into Dean’s life like a missing puzzle piece. They had started dating, which was a loose term, as Dean was still in the closet with his sexuality for various reasons. Castiel didn’t mind. At least not then. He minded more now that two years had passed since their first date, but he believed Dean was on his way to being more public with their relationship. They had even held hands at an outing with friends a few days ago. Under the table, but it was more PDA than he had ever experienced in Dean’s presence before. Dean was also not nearly as bad as he had first been when it came to PTSD episodes. He did not have as many… at least not until recently.
Two weeks had passed since the last episode which had caused Castiel to almost end up in the emergency room. Dean had been convinced that they were under attack and he had bowled him over, held onto his throat, and squeezed. He had squeezed so hard that Castiel had seen stars, his hands trying to pull Dean away from him. Eventually, he had passed out, and his last thought had been along the lines of hoping Dean did not accidentally kill him and then put a bullet through his brain. He didn’t even care if he died, he just didn’t want Dean to wake up with the consequences lying below him.
After Dean had returned to himself, he had fallen into a darker depression than ever before. Tonight was the night he hoped to ease Dean’s thoughts, with just a simple song. A beautiful song, but word was so powerful. Words could make or break a person, a relationship, an idea, a thought…
“Ready?” Anna whispered to him.
Castiel nodded and then they were all walking out to the stage. He was to open the concert with his solo, which no one but Anna and his instructor had heard. Anna sat down at the piano and began to play. Castiel took a deep breath.
Dean took a deep breath.
Being in a packed room, in tiny seats, cramped, and surrounded scared the shit out of him… but he had managed to snag a seat next to the emergency exit, so if he needed to leave, he could. It made the experience that much more tolerable. Castiel had begged him to come, for reasons he would not say. He watched as Anna, Castiel’s best friend, crossed the stage and sat the piano, starting to play. Her fingers danced across the keys in ways that made Dean envious - he had always wanted to play the piano, but he had ended up in football, baseball, and basketball instead.
Castiel came up to the front of the stage then, no microphone in front of him. Dean frowned, tilting his head to the side in confusion. The audience shifted uncomfortably as Castiel began to sing - he was too hard to hear. Even he was having trouble hearing, and he was in one of the first rows of the concert hall. “C’mon Cas,” he whispered.
For a moment, Dean didn’t hear the lyrics, as no one else seemed to either, but as Castiel grew in confidence, his voice began to project in ways Dean had never heard his shy, nerdy boyfriend do before. Bridge Over Troubled Water. He had heard the song before, a long time ago, but he recognized the tune.
“And pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”
Dean felt his heart gallop in his chest, almost seizing to what felt like a stop. This was about him.
“Sail on silver boy, sail on by. Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way.”
He could have been wrong, but Dean was sure Castiel turned to look directly at him. He almost sank down in his seat but then he remembered the room was dark. No one could see him, not really. Not that anyone was paying attention to him anyway.
Castiel was amazing. His voice was so good. He projected in ways that Dean had never heard him project before. His face was a mixture of happiness and sadness. It was hard to place.
“See how they shine, when you need a friend. I’m sailing right behind.”
Dean could feel the edges of tears brim into his eyes. The emotions, the ones he could feel in Castiel’s singing, were now starting to affect him too. He was going to start sobbing, like a baby, during the most beautiful performance he could ever imagine being dedicated to him.
“Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.”
He slid a hand to cover his mouth. Crying, he was definitely crying. The tears slid down his face in silent streams, and Dean could only stare back at Castiel in pained joy. Part of him felt odd, listening to this song that was clearly meant for them, but hearing Cas singing it… he knew Cas meant every word, even if he hadn’t written the lyrics. It was just apparent in the emotions in Cas’ voice, face, hands, body.
When the song ended and Castiel backed away, the room was so silent, that for a moment, panic crossed over Castiel’s face. Dean swallowed the lump in his throat and began to clap. The audience soon followed, giving Cas a standing ovation. Dean stood with the rest, even as tears continued to roll down his face, a smile filling his face. Cas was it for him; Cas was the one. He could feel it, even if his initial feelings wanted to quash that feeling of love away.
Cas was the one.
Cas was the one to keep him afloat.
He loved Cas.
The realization hit him like a ton of bricks, and afterward, he could only sit in awed wonder afterward, not even paying attention to the rest of the concert. Not until it was over and he was rushing to go back to Cas, his hands reaching for him as soon as they came into contact with one another.
“I meant it,” Castiel blurted out, reaching up to cup his face.
Dean shut his eyes, which still felt wet, puffy, and red, eagerly pressing his cheek into Castiel’s palm. His hand reached up to grasp onto Cas’ wrist, keeping that touch going; it was the little touches, the small gestures that kept him calm when his mind was on a warpath. “I know,” he whispered. “I know.”
“I was worried you wouldn’t like it…”
“Cas, I loved it. It was perfect, thank you.”
Castiel’s face softened and he kept his hand on Dean’s face, slowly stepping up into his space. “I love you, Dean.”
Dean bit his lip, the emotions rushing back to slam into his chest, making it harder and harder not to blubber. He nodded. He could only nod. Then, they were kissing, and the world faded away. Nothing else mattered. Nothing except this moment. He loved Cas. Cas loved him.
Dean could feel Castiel’s promised ease slide over his mind like a silk sheet. It felt warm, comfortable, and whole. He felt warm, comfortable, and whole. When they parted, Dean pressed his forehead against Castiel’s, and he could see they were both crying. He smiled at Cas and Cas smiled back.
“I love you too, Cas.”