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Of all the ways that Dean had pictured ever coming back here… it had never been like this.

He’d been notified of the transfer of the deed last month, and any attempts to contact Uncle Bobby have been met with “I’m finally on vacation, kid, you’ll be fine.” And so here he is.

Standing out the front of Singer Farms, most decidedly not fine.

It’s already so fucking different from the city. It’s quieter, for one thing, and the air smells clean. But there’s also not a soul for at least a mile in any direction, and there are no convenience stores nearby that he can just drop into. If he wants something, his options are: grow or make it himself, or get into his car and drive all the way to the closest town.

It’s going to take some adjusting to, that’s for sure, but if Bobby trusts him with the farm (and hadn’t even given him a damn choice about taking on all this responsibility) then he has to see it through.

And so he stands in front of his new cabin for a long time, just staring up at it. This is his home now. His responsibility.

At least he can have a fresh start out here. No one knows him. No one will look at him and say, “There’s Dean Winchester. Poor kid.”

He squeezes his fists, takes a deep breath in, then exhales and heads back to the Impala to unpack.

~

The cabin is small, sparsely-furnished, but reasonably cozy. A single bed, a bathroom, a fireplace, a TV tucked away in the corner, and a small kitchen off to the side.

Home, sweet home.

Dean sets his suitcase down on his bed and sits down next to it. This is my life now, he thinks. A fresh start.

Today and tonight are for getting used to his new digs (and cooking himself some dinner, because holy shit is he hungry), and then tomorrow he’ll have to take a look around his new farm. But no matter how roaring he gets the fire, or how many times he flicks between channels on the TV in an effort to wear himself out…

Sleep does not come easy.

~

The next morning, Dean is woken bright and early by the sun streaming through the windows.

“First order of business,” he mutters into his pillow as he pulls it over his head, trying to block out the day for just a little while longer. “Buy some fuckin’ curtains.”

But as it turns out, buying curtains doesn’t make it anywhere near the top of his list for the day. Instead, he throws together a quick breakfast, then pulls on his clothes and heads out to survey his farm.

It’s gotten a lot more run-down in Bobby’s old age, that’s for sure. The forest has started to reclaim some of the land, and there are weeds sprouting all throughout the fields. “Son of a bitch,” Dean says quietly. He’d had dreams of moving out here to a farm already running smoothly and just requiring a bit of overseeing, but this… this is a lot more than he’d anticipated.

Still. He’s never been one to give up, and he’s sure as hell not going to start now. Instead, he raids Bobby’s old tool shed (also half-falling down), and then gets to work.

Dean spends his entire day pulling weeds and evaluating the state of the farm, only stopping for half an hour to make himself a quick sandwich and sit for a bit before returning to his job with a vengeance. It’s good to have a distraction, even if it’s just the repetition of pull weed, toss into bucket, over and over for hours. It lets his mind go wonderfully blank, and by the time he notices it’s getting dark, he’s managed to clean up the entirety of the field closest to the cabin.

“How about that?” he mutters to himself as he straightens up, wincing at the protest his back gives. He’s only twenty-six—his spine shouldn’t be popping that much, right?

As Dean makes his way back towards the cabin, he can’t help but notice that he feels a little… lighter. Exhausted down to his core, yes, but there’s something in him that hasn’t been there for a long time. It stays as he showers, washing away the sweat and dirt of his day’s labour, and it stays as he quickly cooks himself a bowl of pasta, then collapses onto the couch to eat it.

Dean barely stays awake long enough to finish his dinner. By the time he gets up to put his bowl in the sink (a problem for tomorrow), it feels like he’s moving through molasses. His back aches, his leg aches, and he grimaces to himself. Maybe he overdid it just a little.

But then he thinks of the weedless field, and all the jobs that still have to be done in order to get the farm back into working order, and he forces himself not to dwell on his body’s pains.

For the first time in as long as he can remember, Dean is asleep the moment his head hits the pillow.

~

The next day, he aches.

He knew it was coming—it’s been a long time since he’s done that much physical activity—but still, it’s enough to make him groan and curse under his breath as he swings his legs over the edge of the bed and sets his bare feet down onto the wooden floor.

Maybe today can be an inventory day instead of a hard labour day.

Breakfast is a quick affair, just some fried eggs on toast, and then Dean is making his way outside to take stock of the farm. It already looks so much better than it had when he’d arrived, but there’s still so much work to be done. It should feel overwhelming, just looking at it, but Dean quietly catalogues all the things he needs to do, then files them away in his brain and turns towards the toolshed.

It's dilapidated, the paint peeling across most of the structure, but it’s still standing and doesn’t seem too damaged, so Dean has high hopes that it won’t need too much work.

Inside the shed, things are not so straightforward. There are tools and bits of machinery everywhere, some of it stacked so precariously that Dean edges around it instead of trying to interact with it. Thankfully (from what he remembers of helping Bobby run his farm in the summers), most of the things that he needs to successfully grow his crops and tend to the land seem to be here.

In amongst all of the mess, Dean finds the most important thing: stashes of seeds, all sealed away in airtight packets and ready to be sown. Dean can feel the beginnings of excitement flutter in his chest at the prospect of actually growing his own crops, and for a long few minutes, he just stands there, lost in thought as he looks down at the seeds.

~

It takes Dean a little while to get things into shape, but it’s worth it, even just for the way that the physical work exhausts him to the point of falling into bed every night. He tidies up the shed, fixes the broken fence railings, then ploughs and sows the field closest to the house.

Slowly but surely, everything comes together.          

He gets to watch his harvest grow—parsnips, beans, cabbage, onions, and a few other things he’s found in the shed. Seeing the tiny sprouts emerge from the ground and quickly develop into proper plants is more rewarding than he could have thought possible.

He builds, he watches, he lives

And he starts to heal.

~

It’s easy to lose track of time, living on the farm. He measures it in the intermittent calls he gets from Bobby and Sam, in the growth of his beard before he shaves it, and in the way his crops continue to reach up towards the sky. Before he knows it, the majority of them are ready to harvest—

And suddenly he realises that he has much more food than he could possibly need.

That night, he sits at his kitchen table and considers the logistics of harvesting and selling his crops. It’ll be hard work for just him, but it’ll be worth it if it means he can use the profits to buy things that will help him improve the farm—more seeds, better equipment, maybe even some infrastructure for livestock. But first, he has to figure out where to sell his harvest.

There’s a tiny grocery store nearby, but it really only carries the basics. He can get some of the groceries he can’t grow there, sure, but to buy the things he needs for his farm… he might have to look a little further afield.

That night, he does some research. There’s not a lot in the way of fancy stores out here, but there’s a town about an hour’s drive away that he hasn’t explored yet. It has a general store, a builder, and all kinds of other places. It sounds like the best place to start—even if he just asks if they’re interested in buying from him, he can go from there.

It's another day or two before Dean can work up the courage and the energy to go and investigate his options. It gives him an excuse to take his baby out for a longer drive, at least, and he can feel the hint of a smile tugging at his lips as he turns onto the highway and lets her run.

It’s taken a long time to feel comfortable behind the wheel of this car again, but it’s been worth it.

The town, he finds, is small and quaint, clearly well looked after by its inhabitants. He pulls up in front of the general store, climbing out with a groan and looking up at the shop’s façade. Pierre’s, it reads.

Well, time to go make some friends.

The bell above the door tinkles as Dean enters. There’s no one at the counter right now, so it gives him an opportunity to look around. The store is teeming with goods of every kind, many of which are the ones Dean has been looking for. Perfect, he thinks to himself. If they’re willing to buy his crops, then this little store will be perfect.

“Can I help you?”

Dean’s head snaps up at the voice, gaze flicking around the store until he finds the person who spoke.

The counter is no longer empty. Instead, there’s a man standing behind it, arms crossed casually over his chest and one hip leaning against the wooden surface. Dean takes in the blue eyes, the deep voice, the dark purple hair, and feels his heart skip a beat.

“Uh, yeah,” he says, clearing his throat when his words come out a little rough. “I’m looking to buy some stuff, but I was wondering if I can sell to you as well?”

The guy shrugs his shoulders. “This is where a lot of our local farmers sell their products, so you’ve come to the right place. What are you selling?”

“Vegetables, mostly.” Dean waves his hands noncommittally. “Hoping to get some livestock soon, but I kinda need to make a bit more money first. It was nice of Bobby to leave me his farm, but it’s a bit of a piece of shit at the moment.” He can’t help but chuckle and shake his head. “But hey. It may be a piece of shit, but it’s my piece of shit.”

The guy looks at him for a few more moments, clearly absorbing everything he’s just said—then holds out his hand across the counter for Dean to shake.

“Castiel,” he says, and it takes Dean a second to realise that the dude is introducing himself.

“Dean,” he responds, taking Castiel’s hand.

Castiel smiles, the quickest little uptick of lips but one that captivates Dean anyway. “Nice to meet you, Dean. My family knew Bobby before he retired. It’s good to know that his farm is in good hands. Are you family?”

“In all ways except blood, yeah. He was…” Dean swallows, then looks down at the ground, scuffing his foot against the floor as he tries to pick his words. “He’s been there for me every time I needed him,” he finishes. “Giving me the farm was to help me get back on my feet.”

And that’s where he leaves it—it’s already more than he’d planned to share.

When Dean lifts his gaze again, he finds Castiel watching him, with a quiet intensity that should be unnerving but isn’t. “I’m glad he gave you that opportunity,” he says after a few long moments, then turns away to reach into one of the counter drawers and pull out a card. “If you want to sell to us, I’d recommend calling my father, but I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out. I like you, Dean.”

Dean has never been so grateful for a topic change, and Castiel’s slightly awkward praise warms his heart in a way that he hadn’t expected.

“I like you too, Cas,” he says, smiling despite the uneasy feeling still lingering from the allusion to his past. “It was nice to meet you. I’ll be in touch.”

When Dean leaves the store, business card in his pocket and thoughts tangling around and around in his head, he feels different in a way that he hasn’t for a long time.

~

When Dean had moved out here, he hadn’t expected to make friends.

The farm is isolated, and besides, right now he’s pretty happy to be left alone with the quiet of nature. But after he meets Castiel…

He finds himself returning to the general store more and more often.

At first, it’s for legitimate reasons. He has a fuckton of parsnips to offload, after all, and thankfully Cas’s dad seems happy to buy them. But the more he gets talking to Cas, the more he realises…

It’s nice to be around him.

He hadn’t expected that, but when he looks back on it, it’s not an unwelcome surprise.

~

“Morning, Cas!”

Castiel is outside today, tending to the flowers. His touch is gentle, careful, and there’s a softness in his expression as he straightens up and turns to face Dean, brushing his hands off on his jeans.

“Good morning, Dean,” he says in return, his smile widening just a fraction. It’s small enough that Dean wouldn’t have noticed it the first time they’d met, but now that he’s been back to the shop a few times (and has spent a lot of time thinking about him), he feels like he’s getting much better at reading Castiel’s expressions.

“How’s things today?” Dean steps up next to Castiel, looking down to admire the assortment of flowers planted outside the front of the shop.

Castiel hums. “Quiet, but nice.” They both watch as a single bee winds its way around the flowers, finally choosing one to settle on. “I’m glad that my bees seem to be getting used to their new surroundings.”

Dean raises his eyebrows. “Hold up—your bees?”

~

It doesn’t take Dean much convincing at all to let Cas set up a hive on his farm. When he gets home, it feels like he’s been talking with Cas for hours. There’s a new number in his phone, and a feeling of giddiness in his chest that he doesn’t know what to do with.

So he gets himself a beer after dinner, sits down in front of the TV, and tries not to think about just how quickly and effortlessly Cas has snuck past his defences.

~

It’s a little while until Cas can move his bees—there’s some prep-work to do first, things that he explains and that Dean tries to remember, but can’t quite. One thing he’s discovered is how passionate Cas is about the things he cares about, a fire lighting below a surface that is usually so cool and even a little awkward.

So in the meantime, Dean continues growing his crops and collecting his eggs (the local carpenter, Jody, had set him up with a coop), and finding every reason he can to make the trip to the general store. It’s definitely not just to see Cas, he does have legitimate business to attend to each time, but…

He’d be lying if he said that Cas wasn’t a big part of his motivation.

~

It’s stupid, but Dean doesn’t really sleep, the night before Cas comes to his farm.

It’s almost like he’s back in high school again, buzzing with nervous excitement and too wired to concentrate on anything. The last time he hadn’t been able to sleep, it had been for an entirely different reason, and while all his hard work on the farm has gone a long way towards helping with that, his nervousness over Cas’s visit is not something he really knows how to deal with.

So he sits on his front step with his diary and alternates between writing and looking up at the stars, filling page after page with whatever comes to mind. So much of it is about Cas—about the possibility of a new beginning, a spark of happiness where there had been none before, about his sense of humour and awkward grumpiness and everything that Dean likes about him. The words flow when he writes about Cas, and before he realises, time has crept well into the early hours of the morning, and his eyelids are drooping.

When he forces himself to get up and head to bed, it’s with a nervous hopefulness in his chest, and thoughts of blue eyes and purple hair on loop in his head.

~

Cas arrives the next morning, once the sun is high and Dean has had time to have his coffee.

For once, Dean’s glad to see that he’s not driving his beat-up old Continental. Instead, he’s behind the wheel of a pickup that rolls to a stop in front of Dean’s cabin in a gentle cloud of dust. At first, Dean is focused on Cas’s face, giving him a half-smile through the windshield, then his attention drifts to the back of the pickup.

Or, more specifically, to the beehive that’s strapped down to within an inch of its life, just sitting in the middle of the pickup bed.

It seems like a beehive should have more protection than just a few well-tightened straps, and Dean can’t help but eye it with concern, even as Castiel turns the truck off and opens the door.

“You sure that thing’s safe?”

Castiel just raises an eyebrow at him, giving him a look that quite clearly communicates his current Dean is an idiot thoughts. “Hello to you too,” he says dryly, closing the door of the pickup behind himself. “Yes, it’s fine. As long as the entrance is blocked and the hive is strapped down enough, nothing can go wrong. Any other questions?”

Cas may sound grumpy, but there’s a tiny smile tugging at the corner of his lips that betrays his amusement, and Dean can’t help but smile back at him. “Not currently, but I’ll keep you posted. And hey. Thanks for, uh… doin’ this for me.”

At that, Cas’s tiny smile widens into a proper one. “Of course,” he says gently, and there are layers beneath those two words that Dean doesn’t want to pick at right now, but he tucks them away in his heart.

“Alright,” he says, clapping his hands together to shake away the strange moment that has settled between them. “Let’s find a home for these bees!”

~

All in all, it’s a pretty simple process. By midday, they’ve set up Dean’s new hive in the corner of the closest field, and have made their way back to Cas’s pickup. It’s a warm day out, and Dean is sweating, but Castiel seems unbothered—probably a side-effect of having grown up out here.

“Thanks for that, Cas,” Dean says as he walks Castiel back to his truck. “I can’t wait to see ‘em flyin’ around out there.”

The smile that curves Castiel’s lips is soft and fond, and makes Dean’s heart skip embarrassingly in his chest. “It is a very rewarding sight. I’m sure they’ll be happy here.”

They reach Cas’s pickup, and Dean scuffs his foot against the ground, kicking up a small cloud of dust. It’s been awesome getting to chat to Castiel as they set up the hive, but now that Cas’s excuse for visiting has come to an end… Dean doesn’t really want him to go.

“You, uh… need a drink or anything before you leave?” he asks, hoping that Cas will say yes, that he won’t have to leave just yet.

But Cas, ever oblivious to social cues, just shakes his head. “I appreciate the offer, but I’m not thirsty.”

Damn this cute fucker and his total inability to pick up on hints.

If he wants this to work, Dean is going to have to be a little more obvious. So he takes a deep breath, psyches himself up, and throws all caution to the wind.

“Hey, uh, I was wondering…” He rubs the back of his neck, directing his gaze someone over Cas’s left shoulder. “Doyoumaybewannahavedinnerwithmesometime?”

In his peripheral vision, he sees Castiel blink. For a few long moments, that’s his only reaction.

And then—right as Dean’s heart is about to explode and he’s ready to go start digging himself a hole to climb into from sheer mortification—Cas smiles.

It’s slow and wide and Dean can’t help but fixate on it, letting it fill his chest with breath again. “I would love to have dinner with you, Dean,” he says, and god, this must be what truly living feels like. It’s been so long. “Does Friday work?”

Dean feels like he’s about to burst, his own elation too great to possibly be contained within the restraints of his body.

“Friday is great.”

~

In hindsight, they should have made it sooner.

Cas dropped the bees off on Monday, which means Dean has to wait four excruciating days until their date. He fills those days by exhausting himself on the farm, writing page after page in his diary, and texting Cas as often as he possibly can without feeling like he’s gonna scare the dude off. Luckily, Cas doesn’t seem to mind—he’s endearingly dorky with his texts, punctuating every message perfectly and giving his emoticons little noses.

Dean can’t fucking wait until Friday.

~

On Thursday afternoon, everything comes crashing down.

He’s been so careful on the farm until now, making sure that he doesn’t push himself too hard, but he’s caught up in thinking about Cas, and as he pushes the fence post into place, his knee twists just a little bit wrong.

The next thing he knows, he’s lying in the dirt, gasping for breath as pain sears up his leg.

And all he can think, as agony steals the air from his lungs and the earth presses against his cheek, is you fucking idiot.

~

It takes Dean almost an hour to drag himself back to the house. He doesn’t trust himself to put weight on his leg, not after all the times he was warned by the PT back in Kansas City not to push himself too far too quickly.

The sun is setting as Dean finally makes it back into his cabin, covered in grime and sweat. There are ice packs in his fridge for this very moment, and he pulls them out now, securing them around his knee with an old dishcloth. Once they’re in place, the dull throb subsides just a little, and he leans back against the kitchen cabinet, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes.

He’s back in his dad’s truck, going a few too many miles over the speed limit. The silence between them is thick, John’s knuckles white where they grip the steering wheel.

The light turns red. John doesn’t stop.

And then all Dean knows is pain, and darkness.

~

Everything after the accident blurs together. Sam flies home from California, but stays with Dean on the day of the funeral. With a broken arm and a newly-reconstructed knee, he can’t go far.

But Sam can’t stay forever. They sort out John’s belongings, and Sam helps get him settled into the too-empty house once he’s released from hospital, but then he leaves to go back to his studies, and for the first time in his life, Dean is alone.

He goes to therapy, both physical and mental, but apart from that… the days pass, each as forgettable as the last. In the town he grew up in, everyone knows everyone else, and people look at him with pity in their eyes as he leans on his crutch and tries not to think about the wires holding him together.

Each day feels harder and harder.

And then he gets the letter from Uncle Bobby.

~

Dean stays propped up against the kitchen cabinets until night has well and truly fallen. It’s dark inside the cabin, but he can’t get up and turn a light on, not yet. And so he stays there, his thoughts and emotions twisting around inside him like a monster that threatens to tear his ribs apart.

Idiot. Broken. Alone.

He tries not to think about Cas seeing him like this, unable to even stand. He tries, and he tries, and he fails, and when his chest hurts so much he can hardly bear it, he forces himself up. His hands grab onto the cabinets for balance, and he bears his weight on his good leg.

There are pain meds in one of the drawers, and Dean fumbles around in the dark until his fingers close around the bottle. When he opens the cap, several pills spill out into his hand, and he inhales a shuddering breath.

It’s almost a minute before he can shake the extras back into the bottle, leaving himself one that he swallows dry.

Even with the meds, a shower is out of the question, so Dean hobbles the few steps to the couch and carefully lies down, staring up at the ceiling. Even once the pain subsides to a manageable level, sleep doesn’t come for him until the early hours of the morning, his mind and body exhausted and his soul shattered into pieces once more.

~

In the morning, his knee still aches.

It hasn’t hurt this bad since the accident, and Dean clenches his jaw to fight back tears of frustration as he watches the ceiling, rough-hewn wood illuminated by the morning sun. He hurts, inside and out, and it’s so tempting to keep lying here and just let the day pass him by.

But then he remembers—

He has to feed the chickens.

It takes him another thirty minutes, but finally, Dean manages to get up off the couch. He can put a little more weight on his bad leg today, so the ice and the pain meds must have helped, but he’s still limited to a slow hobble. “Son of a bitch,” he mutters as he drags his fingers through his hair, then exhales and starts to make his way towards the bathroom.

A (careful) shower and some clean clothes lift his spirits a little, but the fact remains that it’s not practical for Dean to be hobbling around his farm all day.

Retrieving his cane from the back of his wardrobe helps with walking, but the fact that he has to use it at all has that feeling twisting inside of him again, eating away at him. The day he’d been able to walk without using it had been a triumph—and now here it is, back again.

Dean feeds the chickens, making sure they’re all still accounted for after their unplanned night of freedom, then takes stock of his day. There’s nothing on the farm that urgently needs his attention today, but that’s not really his main concern.

No, there’s one thing that he’s been trying desperately to keep off his mind ever since that moment in the dirt.

Tonight is the night he’s meant to be going on a date with Cas.

~

For all that he tries to avoid it, Dean is achingly aware of the slow onwards march of time. He’s meant to be meeting Cas in town at six, but even if he could drive right now, there’s no way he wants Cas to see him like this—relying on a cane like an old man, barely able to walk.

He knows he should call and cancel, make up some excuse, but every time he even thinks of picking up his phone to contact Cas, his throat feels like it closes up. He curls his fingers into a fist instead, digs his knuckles into his thigh and tries not to think about tonight.

~

The first call comes at six-thirty.

Dean watches his phone vibrate where it’s sitting on the kitchen counter, the screen lighting up with the word Cas. It rings out, then goes dark. A few seconds later, it vibrates again.

Cas has left a voice message.

Dean rests his elbows on the countertop and lets his head fall into his hands. His stomach is churning, and he knows it should be easy to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’m sorry, I’m not feeling well, let’s reschedule.”

But he just… can’t.

His phone vibrates again and again.

Text from Cas.

Text from Cas.

Missed call from Cas.

Cas has left a voice message.

In the end, Dean reaches out and turns his phone off. It sits innocuously on the countertop, finally dark and silent.

Dean exhales the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, and tries not to shake apart.

~

When Dean first hears the sound of an engine and the crunch of tires in the dirt outside, he’s confused.

Who the fuck is visiting me at 8pm? He can count the number of people who’ve set foot on the farm since it became his on one hand, and all of them are people he contracted to help him out with stuff.

Everyone, except for…

Fuck.

Dean’s heart pounds against his ribs as he makes the connection, and he tries to stand from where he’s been sitting at the kitchen counter for the last two hours. His cane is sitting next to him, and he desperately wants to leave it where it is, but all it takes is gingerly putting some of his weight on his bad leg for Dean to realise that that’s a really fucking bad idea.

It’s too late to pretend he’s not home—his car is out the front and he’s got the lights on inside. There’s nothing he can do now except wait, holding his breath as he hears a car door slam outside, then the sound of feet making their way up to his front door.

“Dean?”

It’s Cas. There goes any hope Dean might have had that it was anyone else. His heart sinks even further.

Dean? Dean, are you okay? You’re not answering your phone, I—I just want to make sure you’re alright.”

Even from here, Dean can hear the worry that laces his words so thickly, and guilt churns in his stomach. Cane or no cane, he has to talk to Cas. There’s no other option, not now that he’s standing on Dean’s doorstep.

Slowly, he reaches for his cane, resting his weight on it as he forces himself to walk the handful of feet to the front door. It takes all his mental strength to open the front door, but somehow, he manages it.

Cas takes a step back as the door swings open, his gaze snapping up to meet Dean’s. His face is creased with worry, and his hair is a mess, sticking up in every direction as though he’s been running his fingers through the purple strands over and over again.

For a moment, they just look at each other, green eyes meeting blue.

And then Cas’s gaze drops. Dean can pinpoint the moment that he sees the cane, because Cas makes a tiny sound of confusion in the back of his throat.

I never wanted anyone else to see me like this, let alone you.

“I’m sorry I bailed on you,” Dean says quietly, biting the inside of his cheek and focusing his gaze somewhere out past Cas’s head. He doesn’t want to see the pity in his eyes.

Even so, he can still see the way Cas shifts on his feet, the way his eyes linger on the simple wooden cane before lifting to Dean’s face once more.

“I was worried something had happened, I—why are you using a cane?”

There’s no judgement or pity in his voice, just confusion and a little bit of hurt. Dean can kinda understand how he feels—they’re friends, at the very least, and as much as Dean hates this part of himself, he owes Cas an explanation for not showing up tonight.

As he exhales, he feels himself deflate, the panic and turmoil draining out of him and leaving a bone-deep weariness in its place.

“Come in,” he says, hobbling a step to the side and holding the door open for Cas. “I’ll explain.”

~

They sit on the couch as Dean tells his story, from the accident to his rehab to finally moving out here for a fresh start, and for the most part, Cas stays silent. When Dean starts to get overwhelmed, he reaches out, pulling himself up at the last second with his hand hovering over Dean’s thigh and his gaze finding Dean’s to ask, is this okay?

Dean swallows past the lump in his throat and nods, his breath hitching as Cas’s hand settles, just a few inches above his ruined knee. The touch helps, and Cas seems to know that, because he keeps his hand there as Dean makes it through the rest of the story. By the end, Cas’s thumb is rubbing gently across the denim, back and forth in a tiny motion that has done wonders to soothe Dean’s anxiety.

When he finally reaches the end, he closes his eyes for a moment, allowing himself to just be in the silence that follows. It feels good to have finally gotten that out to someone who’s not Sam or some kind of medical professional.

When he opens his eyes again, he finds Cas just watching him, gentle consideration in his gaze. For a few moments, neither of them speak, the weight of Dean’s words hanging in the air between them.

“So you didn’t show up tonight because you didn’t want me to see you with a cane?” Cas finally asks, his words quiet.

There’s no judgement in them.

Dean inhales, feeling it shudder in his lungs. “Yeah.” It comes out broken and raspy, but it feels like something that’s important to admit out loud.

Cas’s thumb stills against Dean’s leg, and this moment, so vulnerable and fragile… He can’t figure out if it’s a turning point, or a tipping point, or both. But it’s something.

“Dean... I’m just glad that I’ve gotten the chance to know you. I think you’re wonderful, and the cane doesn’t even come close to changing that.”

And just like that, Dean feels as though he could shatter apart, in the best possible way.

“Okay,” is all he can whisper, and when the corner of Cas’s mouth curves up in a smile, Dean feels himself mirror it. All his worry about what Cas would think of him melts away.

He doesn’t know which of them initiates the kiss—just that it’s everything he’d ever wished it could be.

~

Cas makes them both a grilled cheese sandwich, since neither of them have eaten anything tonight. It’s been so long since Dean had someone cook for him, and to be able to sit beside Cas as they eat soothes something in Dean’s soul that he hadn’t known had been aching until now.

He can’t stop looking at the bouquet of sunflowers now sitting on his kitchen table, either. Cas hadn’t remembered that he’d had them in his truck until a good hour after he’d arrived, and had brought them in so they wouldn’t wilt. “Dad was selling them at the store,” he’d explained as he’d carefully arranged them in an old vase. “I wanted to get you something nice, so I—I hope you like them.”

They’re beautiful, and Dean makes sure to tell him that.

After, they move back to the couch, the TV playing in the background while they kiss. Cas is propped up over Dean, and Dean wishes they didn’t have to be so careful. He gets why Cas is treating him like he’s breakable (because right now, he kinda is), and so for now, he tries not to think about it.

The feeling of Cas’s lips, the touch of his hands over Dean’s clothes and against his skin…

That is easily enough to get lost in.

~

Cas stays the night.

Everything about it is slow, gentle, the antithesis to how sex usually is for Dean. But in the quiet of the night, with everything that’s been shared still hanging between them and the moonlight filtering in through the windows, it feels right.

Cas is all sweat-damp skin and languid movement, taking his time until Dean is begging, gasping his pleasure into the night air.

When they finally tip over the edge together, Dean’s heart feels like it could burst.

~

After that night, everything feels different.

In the months that follow, they never really decide that Cas will move to the farm—it happens gradually, with Cas spending more and more time there until Dean realises that the night Cas spends back in town just don’t feel right. It becomes their farm, and they slowly expand it, getting cows and an orchard, and eventually making their own cheeses and preserves.

Bobby comes to visit sometimes, and seeing him so impressed by how far the farm has come is more reward than Dean could ever ask for. The way Bobby immediately takes Cas under his wing with the same gruff fondness he treats Dean is just the icing on the cake.

Of course, their life isn’t without hardship. Dean’s knee still flares up, sometimes to the point of having to use the cane again, but it’s easier with Cas by his side. No matter what fate throws at them, no matter how dark times get, they’ve always got each other.

Which is why, shortly after their three year anniversary, Dean drives into town to Pierre’s General Store. The beginning of it all.

He’s there for an hour, talking to Cas’s dad. When he finally leaves, it’s with the blessing of one father.

But he still needs the blessing of the other.

~

Throughout his life, but especially since being given the farm, Bobby has become more of a father to Dean than John ever was.  There’s no way he could ever doubt just how much Bobby loves both him and Cas, but still, officially getting his opinion and his blessing means more to Dean than he will ever be able to say.

It’s no surprise when Bobby says, “About time, ya idjit,” but what is a surprise is when Bobby gruffly excuses himself, returning a minute later with something cradled in the palm of his hand.

“This is tradition around here,” he tells Dean, gently placing the item into his hand. It’s a pendant, shaped like a blue shell, and something about it seems to resonate in his soul as it settles against Dean’s palm. “You show this amulet to Cas, ‘n he’ll know.”

Dean is a little suspicious that Bobby is playing a joke on him, but when he looks into the old man’s eyes, he sees nothing but earnest sincerity.

“Okay,” he says, gently curling his fingers around the amulet. “I will.”

~

Dean proposes at the farm, standing outside their little cabin as the sun sets.

True to Bobby’s word, Castiel knows as soon as he sees Dean pull out the pendant, before he even drops to one knee. His eyes go wide with shock, and Dean can feel his heart hammering in his chest, but he forces himself to continue.

He only gets as far as asking, “Cas, will you m—” before Cas is sinking to his knees in the dirt as well, curling his fingers into the front of Dean’s shirt and pulling him in for a kiss.

“Yes,” he says, his voice breathy and thick with emotion. “Yes, Dean. I will.”