If Castiel thought the wait to hear the latest on Dean’s condition was nerve-wracking, it was nothing compared to the anxiousness he felt at waiting to see the man now that he regained consciousness.
Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Castiel kept muttering under his breath, trying to will the elevator to move faster. Everytime the elevator stopped on the incorrect floor - for other passengers to load on or off - Castiel practically growled his frustration. He wished there was a way he could have just teleported to Dean’s room after Dr. Balthazar informed Castiel and Charlie that the other man was awake. Instead, he was stuck on the slowest moving elevator known to man, with people who had no consideration for the fact that he had somewhere he needed to be about fifteen minutes ago.
“You need to calm the fuck down, Novak,” Charlie hissed under her breath. “You keep acting all crazy and they aren’t going to let you in to see Dean at all. They might even ban you from seeing him during the entirety of his hospital stay.”
Castiel rounded on the petite red-head at that moment. Practically snarling in his frustration, fear, and fatigue.
“Nothing is going to keep me from making sure that Dean is okay,” Castiel vowed. “I just want this stupid hunk of metal to move faster.”
“Well unless you’ve grown wings at some point in the last several hours that I don’t know about, I think you are going to just have to chillax,” Charlie countered.
After what seemed like an eternity, Castiel and Charlie finally arrived at the correct floor. The raven-haired man barely waited for the doors to open, pushing himself through the other people on the car and he vaguely heard Charlie making general apologies on his behalf. That wasn’t of import to him. All that mattered was seeing Dean and knowing he was okay.
Castiel was so intent on getting to the room, he didn’t even notice he’d passed it until he heard a sharp whistle pierce the air from behind. He whipped around to see Charlie standing outside of a room.
“Alright, lover-boy,” she called with a smirk, “unless you are going to visit another boyfriend I don’t know of, Dean’s in this room.”
Too focused to even blush at what the host just insinuated, the blue-eyed man circled back around and went into the door Charlie had just entered and was able to have his first look at his friend since the attack. Castiel’s heart stuttered and his knees felt unsteady when he took in the sight in front of him.
Dean was hooked up to various machines, there were needles and tubes and wires hanging everywhere. Dean’s chest was bare and Castiel was able to see some of bruising from the beating, but large, white swaths of bandages covered most of the damage from his eyes.
“Didn’t know you were so hard up for attention, Winchester. You could have just said you wanted more time on camera,” Charlie tried to joke, but Cas could see the sparkle of unshed tears in her eyes.
Dean quirked his lips slightly in a smile, but none of the customary sparkle was evident in his eyes.
Charlie moved further into the room, composing herself as much as possible, and had taken a seat beside Dean. Castiel found himself rooted to his spot at the door. He couldn’t make himself move, no matter what he tried. He felt so many raw emotions flicker over him in that moment - anger, fear, compassion, horror, dread, denial...love. Leave it to the wonderful timing of Castiel Novak, the most socially awkward of all individuals, to realize he was in love with someone while standing on the precipice of their hospital room.
“Would’ve thought it would have taken a tank to get you out of the competition,” Charlie tried to joke.
“Wasn’t in the competition for her,” Dean murmured. “Thought those asshats would have realized that.”
“Yeah, well, sometimes dudes are just slow on the uptake,” Charlie agreed, glancing over her shoulder to where Castiel still was rooted to the spot. “That’s why I prefer the ladies, we’re just smarter and generally more awesome in all ways.”
“Shut up, bitch, I’m awesome,” Dean grumbled, causing Charlie to give a watery chuckle.
“You scared the hell out of us, Dean,” she admitted, all traces of levity gone from her tone. “I thought it was a sick joke when I originally got the phone call. Too many seasons of this farce and I’ve never cared about a contestant. Go figure, the first time I do, he is the one who gets beaten within an inch of his life.”
“Yeah, well what can I say, I like to shake things up.”
“Cas, you gonna stand there all day or are you gonna come over here and talk to me,” Dean called out finally. “I can’t turn my head that far yet and you just standing there staring is a little creepy, dude.”
Blush creeping over his skin, Castiel was able to break himself out of his stupor and move to Dean’s other side and try to find as comfortable a spot as possible on the hard plastic chair.
“Dude, do they give a discount to hospitals on most uncomfortable chairs ever?” Charlie whined, giving Cas a moment to settle himself and his thoughts. “Seriously where do they find this shit - Lumps of Plastic ‘R Us?”
“Don’t quit your day job, Bradbury,” Dean quips, genuine humor lighting his green eyes for the first time, “you would be horrible at marketing and hospitality.”
“Never,” comes the reply. “I’m a joy to be around. Anyhow, if I wasn’t hosting this dating game, I would be a queen, and you would have to bow down and worship me.”
Both men had to chuckle at that statement, and it brought a sense of normalcy to the interaction. However, Charlie could see that Castiel was struggling with his emotions, and she decided to take pity on the other man.
“Alright,” she drawled, “now that I’ve seen you are awake and functional, Winchester, and not going to shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon, I am going home and am going to sleep for a year. Just to warn you, some of the studio guys probably will be coming by in a day or so to wrap things up. I’ll keep them away as long as I can, but I’m just a peon on the show, I don’t have any real clout, so you probably will have to deal with them.”
Dean nodded his understanding, closing his eyes briefly against a wave of fatigue that swept over him.
“I’ll come see you tomorrow,” Charlie said, standing slowly. “You take care of yourself.”
“Yes, your majesty,” Dean snarked back at his friend.
“Awww, such a good hand-maiden for me,” she mocked cooed back at him.
“I’m no one’s hand-maiden,” Dean grumbled. “I would be a knight.”
“You keep telling yourself that Deanie,” she jested, leaning over briefly to give him a kiss on the forehead. “Catch ya later, bitches.”
With that, Charlie sailed out of the room, without so much as a backward glance, leaving Castiel and Dean alone together for the first time since the incident.
“You okay, man?” Dean asked, being the first to broach the thick silence that had descended after Charlie’s departure.
Castiel started to say that of course he was fine, when it felt like a dam broke within him. All the fears, the worry, the absolute terror he had felt for the past seventy-five hours came crashing down on him. Before he knew it, he felt himself shaking his head in the negative and felt the hot wetness of tears as they dripped down his face.
“Hey, hey, Cas,” Dean soothed, trying his best to sit up and maneuver around with all his temporary hardware. “C’mere.”
“What?” Castiel’s head shot up at the blatant invitation Dean offered. “Dean, I can’t...I couldn’t.”
“Of course you can,” Dean said, scooting over to make room in the narrow bed for the other man.
Debating with himself for about a minute, Castiel decided he didn’t care anymore. He toed off his loafers and quickly shucked his tan overcoat that he had been wearing since coming to the hospital like a security blanket. He carefully tucked himself into bed next to Dean, both of the careful to get comfortable so that nothing would get jostled or pulled out. It was a tight fit on such a narrow bed for two, fully grown, large men, but they made it work. They both needed it to work.
Once they were settled, Cas felt the tears start to trickle down his face again. His tremors weren’t as bad because he had Dean’s large hands stroking soothing comfort down his spine, reassuring Castiel of the other man’s presence and strength.
“Ya wanna tell me why your face has decided to spring a leak?” Dean asked, joking gently.
“It’s too much,” Castiel choked out.
“What’s too much?” Dean asked, some tension starting to enter his body, even though he continued to stroke comfortingly down Cas’ spine.
“All of it,” Castiel grumbled. He felt like he was sulking like a child, but he felt raw, exposed, vulnerable, none of which he was used to feeling, and it made him uncomfortable.
“Could you be a little more vague there?” Dean retorted mildly.
Cas rolled over to try to look Dean in the face. If he was going to make a complete ass out of himself, he wanted to do it facing Dean, not mumbling into the taller man’s chest. Dean seemed to understand and repositioned himself so they were both eye-level.
“I’m not used to feelings,” Cas began. “It’s one of the reasons I haven’t been in a relationship in so long. I don’t like to share myself with others, I don’t like feeling exposed or vulnerable. I don’t like the disorder that comes from sharing myself with someone else.”
Dean stayed silent, taking in everything the other man was saying, knowing that a lot of Cas’ insecurities and thoughts mirrored his own.
“For the past seventy-five hours, I have been assaulted with every emotion possible. It is like I have had my whole life’s worth of repressed emotions come crashing down on me, and I am helpless to stop it,” Castiel said, voice cracking slightly, but he was determined to get this all out.
“I don’t think you know what you do to me, Dean Winchester. Over the past several weeks, you have turned my entire world upside down. I have tried to put these feelings out of my head, have tried to keep them neatly categorized, but every time I think I succeed and shore up my defense walls, you do something that makes another crack in the exterior.
“I find myself wanting to let you in, wanting you to break down my defenses, but that scares the hell out of me. I didn’t come on this ridiculous show to try to find love. I don’t believe in finding love on reality dating shows. There is no way I ever believed you can find what your heart truly desires in an artificial environment. Yet, here I am. I have been fighting this for weeks. I have known that my heart was getting too emotionally attached. I knew there was a danger, but I kept diving in. I couldn’t stay away. The more I learned about you, the more I wanted to know.
“I learned more about you, and myself, from our late night talks, than I have ever known about anyone in any relationship I attempted. I kept saying it was infatuation. I kept saying that I should get over it, I didn’t know if it was possible for you to feel the same way, too.
“Then, when I was on that God-awful breakfast date with Lisa and Victor, I kept saying to myself “Why am I here? I have no interest in this woman. I don’t want to be here.’ But, I did want to be here, I wanted to be here, because you were here. I didn’t care what Lisa was saying because she didn’t interest me half as much as you did. As I sat at that breakfast table, I realized that despite my thoughts and prejudices, I had fallen in love on a reality dating show - just not with the person that I was supposed to.
“Right when I started to have that mini-freak out, Charlie came over and told us that you had been hurt, and my world felt like it had fallen out from underneath me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. The only thing that kept playing over in my mind was that I blew it, that I had a chance and I missed it because I was too much of a coward. I had been so afraid to let myself feel, and to take a chance that I might have missed out on the best thing that could happen to me.
“I’ve been pacing the waiting room like a caged animal. No one wanted to let me up to see you because I’m not family. I couldn’t even say that I was your boyfriend, because I don’t know if you feel the same about me, or if you could even see us as being together. I have been so scared for all this time, and now it’s like everything inside of me has cracked and I can’t harness my feelings and everything is just spilling out, and I am making a complete ass of myself, and this is too much to dump on you all at once, I should at least wait until you are up and moving. I should let you rest and heal and not have to worry about my freak outs, and….”
Cas’ diatribe and (not so) minor freak out were stopped abruptly when Dean crashed his mouth into his, stopping the words from flowing and swallowing down every doubt that Cas was trying to express.
The kiss was short, but served the purpose to calm the blue-eyed man down, and give him something more pleasant to focus on.
“I’ve been kinda freaking out, too,” Dean admitted, nuzzling his nose gently at the underside of Cas’ chin, enjoying the three days’ scruff that had accumulated. “I’m awful at relationships, I always seem to find a way to muck it up, and I’ve been enjoying our friendship so much, I didn’t want to risk it by pushing for something more - even if that is what I wanted.”
Castiel lay there for a minute, enjoying the soothing sensations of Dean’s hand, continuing to rub down his back, and pressing himself ever closer to the man beside him. Yes, they were in a hospital, but right now, he had never been happier.
“So, you don’t want a chance with Lisa?” Castiel asked, needing the reassurance of hearing Dean say this out loud.
“I’m terrible at communicating,” Dean said with a sigh. He shifted slightly to get more comfortable, and winced when his actions pulled on one of his IV lines. “I can’t always talk about how I am feeling, but I can say that I never was interested in Lisa. The only thing that has kept me trying for the past several weeks, has been the opportunity to spend more time with you.”
Castiel leaned his head back slightly to take in the other man’s expression. He saw nothing but sincerity radiating out of the jade-green eyes in front of him.
“Good,” Castiel responded, pressing a string of kisses along Dean’s jaw line. “‘Cause I think as soon as you get out of here, we have a show to withdraw from and lots of exploring to do to make up for lost time.”
Dean’s face lit up with happiness at the look on Castiel’s face, but he wanted to proceed with some caution.
“So,” Dean said, clearing his throat nervously, “We are really going to do this? Be together? Boyfriends? Partners? Whatever lameass name you want to give us?”
Castiel swatted him lightly on his less injured shoulder, diving in for another brief kiss, before whispering in the other man’s ear,
“You should know by now that you’re the one that I want.”