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Dean and Cas (the beach house au)

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CHAPTER ONE 

 

Dean’s the first to arrive. Something which should be a surprise to exactly no one, least of all himself. His days aren’t exactly jam-packed with excitement since Ben left home and disappeared off to college in another damn country. 

Still, he’s only a few minutes early this time. He didn’t expect to be sitting here fighting off the temptation of the basket of delicious smelling bread rolls all on his own. Especially considering this meal was Lisa’s idea in the first place. And she’d been pretty damn insistent he turn up. 

Dean looks at his watch, and then looks back up at the door, then back to his watch, and then back to the empty chairs around the table.

His only company, the bread rolls, stare smugly back at him. No, he tells them —silently because he doesn’t want everyone to know that he talks to his food— you can’t seduce me with your crispy golden brown good looks.

It used to be Dean would scarf them all down without a second thought, but since he hit forty this past year his waistline isn’t quite as forgiving as it used to be, as Lisa is constantly reminding him. She has a way of scrunching up her nose that conveys her disappointment far more effectively than mere words could every time she sees Dean eating anything related to a carb. 

“Are you attempting to toast those bread rolls with the power of your mind?”

Caught in his thoughts, Dean startles, jumping in his seat. He glances up to see Castiel Novak smirking back down at him. It figures the next person to arrive would be the one that Dean least wants to spend time alone with. 

“Cas!” Dean greets him, fake cheerfully. “Good to see you again, man.”

Cas sits down at the opposite side of their large circular table. Though he’s dressed casually in his artfully hippy shirt and creased linen pants he still looks more at home here than Dean in his monkey suit. Even now, after years of eating in upscale restaurants, Dean feels more comfortable in diners and burger joints. He guesses you can take the boy out of the dive bar, but you can’t take the dive bar out of the boy. 

“You too, Dean. When was the last time we all got together? Ben’s graduation?”

“Yeah,” Dean says, trying to hide his sigh. That was a proud day. But also, one of his hardest; seeing his little boy all grown up, thrilled to be dumping his parents and heading off on adventures of his own. They’d only had a couple of weeks between his graduation and his leaving and Ben had been more interested in spending time with his friends than his loser Dad. Not that Dean can blame him.

“How is Ben getting on in England?”

“Great.” Dean forces a smile onto his face. “He’s loving it.” He’s loving it so much that he barely has time to call once every other week. Not that Dean’s brooding about it.

“And Claire,” Dean asks, politely. “Where is she now?”

“Budapest,” Cas says, pride shining in his eyes. “She posted some new photos on Instagram a couple of hours ago. Did you see them?”

“Um, no,” Dean admits. 

Cas chuckles. “Still not gotten to grips with the whole social media thing, Dean?” 

Dean silently seethes at his patronizing tone. God, the dude is such a self-satisfied douchebag, always looking down his nose at Dean. And, so what if Dean doesn’t have freaking Instagram or Snapbook or whatever else everyone seems to spend so much time staring at their phones for. It’s not because he can’t figure out that shit, it’s because he’s got better things to do with his time. Well, he used to anyway.

Thankfully, the waiter appears at their table before Dean gets a chance to tell Cas exactly where he can shove his social media. “Can I get you anything, gentlemen?”

“A light beer, please,” Dean answers. He’d ask for something stronger but he’s driving. “And can you take away the bread rolls, thanks. We don’t need them.”

Cas, of course, immediately grabs the breadbasket and clutches it to his chest. “Speak for yourself, Winchester. Some of us work out enough that we don’t have to deprive ourselves of carbs. And may I have a real beer, please,” he adds, winking at the waiter. “You know,” he says, once the waiter has gone, leaving Cas with the damn breadbasket. “There are carbs in beer too.”

“They don’t count,” Dean grumbles more or less under his breath. Ignoring Cas’ scoff, he changes the subject. “So, what do you think this meal is in aid of? Lisa said there was something we needed to talk about but she didn’t say what. Did Meg give you any clue?”

Cas shakes his head. “Perhaps they’re expanding the business again?”

Dean hums thoughtfully. Lisa and Meg already own a chain of gyms that stretches from one side of the country to the other. As well as having their brand name stamped on protein bars, slimming shakes, and a range of eye-poppingly bright gym wear. There’s surely not much expansion left for them to do.

“Or perhaps they’re thinking about selling up.” Cas hazards another guess. “Meg has been talking about traveling lately. I suspect hearing all about Claire’s trip is making her yearn for some adventure of her own. Meg and Lisa did start up the business straight after graduating from college after all. Perhaps they’ve decided to make some changes, reprioritize, now we’re all getting a little older.”

Dean winces at the older but it’s not like he can disagree. And it’s true that Lisa and Meg both work incredibly hard. Even now that their business is well established nationwide and has made them both millionaires a dozen times over, the pair of them still put in as many hours as ever. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Lisa spends far more time with her business partner than with Dean. Not the Dean grudges it, of course. He’s happy to support Lisa in whatever she does.

“I guess we’re about to find out,” Dean says, spotting Lisa and Meg walking through the door. He stands up and gives a small —dorky— wave to attract Lisa’s attention towards their table. 

“Hey, gorgeous,” he says, kissing her offered cheek when she and Meg reach them. “Hey, Meg.”

Instead of shooting him the usual scathing glare that she reserves just for him and people wearing Trump caps, Meg smiles. It’s at least eighty percent fake but even that is more than she normally attempts. It’s weird and unsettling, and immediately puts Dean on edge. It’s a feeling that lasts throughout the meal. 

The atmosphere does tend to be strained when the four of them meet up. Meg and Lisa may be best friends, but Dean and Cas don’t have much in common, and Meg has never hidden the fact that she doesn’t think Dean is good enough for Lisa. The few times that Dean has brought that up with his wife, she’s laughed it off as Dean imagining things. Admittedly, Dean might be a touch over-sensitive but he’s not imagining anything. At Dean and Lisa’s 10th Anniversary party, Meg, after having consumed half her body weight in champagne cocktails, flat out told Dean he was just a pretty face with a whole lot of nothing going on between the ears, and that Lisa would never have married him if she hadn’t fallen pregnant. 

For all Dean knows Meg’s absolutely right, but he and Lisa have been married for eighteen years now so the scrappy start to their relationship doesn’t weigh heavily on his mind. 

There’s obviously something on Meg’s mind this evening though. She’s not made one sarcastic quip about Dean’s table manners, even when one of his clams ended up on his lap, and she keeps shooting Cas anxious sidelong glances. Lisa’s acting weird too, laughing too loudly at Cas’ yoga-class stories and going off on a tangent about the best way to make shrimp risotto. As far as Dean’s aware, she’s never made risotto in her life. He’s never even seen her eat risotto. 

Even Cas shares a confused look with Dean halfway through her rambling. All Dean can do is shrug his shoulders in response. 

Lisa only stops babbling when Meg lays her hand over Lisa’s on top of the table. 

“I’m sure you can tell that Lisa’s a little nervous tonight. We both are.”

Dean’s stomach swoops, a reaction that has more to do with anxiety than with the seafood platter they are sharing. Hopefully. Food poisoning is no fun.

“Is there something wrong?” Cas asks, eyes crinkling with concern as he leans forward. 

Meg shifts on her seat. Lisa looks like she’s about to burst into tears. 

“The thing is,” Meg starts, picking up a wine glass and taking a hefty slug. “None of us are getting any younger. Ben has grown up and flown the nest. Claire is off trekking around the world. The business is… well, the business is doing amazingly actually. Profits are up and we’re thinking about adding...”

“Meg,” Lisa says. “The business isn’t important.”

Dean suddenly has a very very bad feeling. And it’s definitely got nothing to do with the seafood. He’s never heard Lisa say the business isn’t important before. Not once. She’s missed baseball games, school plays, date nights, vacations, and holidays, because of how important the business is.

“The thing is…” Meg says again before faltering. She looks at Lisa with a silent cry of help that even Dean can read. 

“I’m leaving you, Dean,” Lisa blurts out. 

Dean blinks.

“And Cas, Meg is leaving you.”

Dean laughs. 

Cas doesn’t join in. Neither does anyone else.

“You’re joking, right? This is a joke?” Dean says, looking around the table. “I don’t get it, but it is a joke. Right?”

“No, Dean,” Lisa says. “It’s not a joke. I’m in love with Meg.”

“And I’m in love with Lisa,” Meg adds, eyes wide as she stares at Cas. “We’re… we’re going to get married.”

“That’s… what… when… what ?” Dean is struggling to string thoughts together, sentences are way outside of his capabilities right now.

“How long has this been going on?” Cas, on the other hand, appears to be amazingly collected. 

Lisa gulps and clutches Meg’s hand so hard that Meg yelps. 

“Um…” Meg and Lisa exchange complicated glances, and after some silent communication, it’s Meg who’s nominated to reply. “Twelve years.”

“Off and on,” Lisa adds quickly. 

That takes a moment to process. 

“I’m sorry,” Cas says. “Did you say twelve years?”

“Off and on,” Lisa confirms. 

“And you’re just telling us now?” Cas says. “Here? Over shrimp?”

Meg’s face is turning the same color as the lobster. “It’s… we…”

“You thought we wouldn’t make a scene in public?” Cas’ calm exterior is crumbling fast, his voice growing louder, his eyes blazing.

“Look,” Meg says. “Just let us explain.”

“What is there to explain? You’ve been cheating on me for twelve years, Meg!” Cas, the laid-back yoga-loving hippy that Dean has never heard raise his voice once, even when his niece Claire stole his car and ran it into the back of a cop car, is suddenly shouting loud enough that people at the opposite side of the restaurant have turned to gawk at the free show.

“Twelve years, off and on, ” Lisa says.

Dean wants to tell her that adding off and on to every sentence isn’t helping at all. The words seem to get stuck in his throat though. 

“We tried to stop ourselves. We broke things off more than once. Dean,” Lisa says, turning to face him fully. “It’s not that I don’t love you, I do, but I’m not in love with you anymore. You have to understand.”

“Our relationship has always been based on trust and honesty,” Cas says to Meg, through gritted teeth. “We went to a couples retreat six months ago. We meditate together every morning. I… I massaged your damned feet last night. And… and… this is how you tell me you’re sleeping with your business partner?” 

“Dean?” Lisa says. “Are you okay? Do you need a paper bag?

It’s not until Lisa asks that Dean notices he’s hyperventilating. 

“He needs for his marriage not to have been a damn sham for the past twelve years. He needs his wife not to be an unfaithful liar. He needs to be treated with some respect, he does not need a… a… fucking paper bag,” Cas snaps, shoving his chair back, throwing his napkin down on the table, and standing up. 

Dean waves his hand frantically. “Actually,” he heaves in a breath, “I kinda do…”

Lisa jumps up and flags down a waiter, who manages to appear both enthralled and slightly terrified all at once. By the time the poor guy manages to find a brown paper bag for Dean to breathe into, Cas has started throwing the remains of the fish platter at Meg and Lisa, and the maitre-de is bearing down on them with a determined expression. 

Dean hasn’t been tossed out of a restaurant since he was eighteen years old. At least this time he’s wearing his pants. 



Dean isn’t quite sure what the etiquette should be following the moment your wife informs you she’s divorcing you over dinner. It seems bizarre to go home together but that’s exactly what they do. As soon as they walk through the front door Dean strips out of his suit jacket, loosens his tie, grabs a bottle of whisky from the drinks cabinet, and heads into the den. 

Lisa follows a few minutes later, by which time Dean is already sprawled on the sofa twisting the top off the bottle. 

“Dean,” Lisa says. “Can we talk about this?”

Dean glares at her. “Nope.”

Naturally, she ignores him. “Are you really that surprised?”

“Am I surprised that you’re screwing Meg? Yes, I am.”

Lisa kicks off her shoes and sits down at the opposite side of the sofa, curling her legs underneath her. She’s beautiful, Dean thinks mournfully. Twenty years since he first set eyes on her at a rough-as-hell biker bar just outside the college campus and she’s more beautiful than ever. He takes a drink.

“I never wanted to hurt you.”

“Good job with that,” Dean says, toasting her with the whisky bottle before taking another sip. 

“I thought… I honestly thought you would be relieved, Dean.”

“Relieved?” Dean stops just before the bottle touches his lips to look incredulously at Lisa. “Relieved that you’ve been cheating on me? Relieved that our whole relationship has been a lie?”

“Not our whole relationship, Dean.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Dean snaps. “Just the past twelve years. Off and fucking on!”

“I never wanted to hurt you,” Lisa says again. The tremble in her voice, the tears shining in her eyes, just make Dean angrier. How dare she act like the injured party here. 

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have jumped into bed with Meg.”

“It wasn’t like that. I fell in love with her.” 

Dean stands up. He feels nauseous. It could be the straight whisky on top of the shellfish, or it could be the fact that his life has just been ripped out from under his feet. 

“Twelve years, Lisa. Twelve fucking years!”

“I’m sorry,” Lisa says, a tear falling artistically down her cheek. “I’ve had so many sleepless night over this. I’ve honestly hated myself for cheating on you.”

“But not enough to stop.”

“We tried. I swear.”

“Obviously not very hard,” Dean scoffs, scrubbing his hand across his face. He doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t even know what to think. How to feel.

Lisa stands up, wiping the tears from her cheek. “Dean, can you honestly tell me you’re happy?”

“What?” 

Lisa takes a step, reaching out to touch him. Dean flinches and backs away. He can’t help but feel a sick burst of satisfaction at the flash of hurt in her eyes. “Dean, you have to admit our marriage hasn’t been the easiest lately.”

“So, instead of talking about it, you cheated on me?”

“That’s… no, but…”

“Why now, Lisa? Why wait until now to tell me? To ask for a divorce?”

“I… there was never a good time before, Dean.”

“Seriously?” Dean challenges her. “That’s what you’re going with?”

“We thought about it,” Lisa admits. “About telling you and Cas. We’d decided more than once that we had to come clean, to stop lying. But then Jimmy disappeared and Cas ended up with Claire, and Meg couldn’t just leave him. We tried to end things between us then. And we managed… for a few months. The next time we decided we had to tell you, Jess died and you were doing all you could to keep Sam afloat, and I couldn’t face hurting you any more than you were already hurting. And then your dad died. And Sam hooked up with that bitch, Ruby. And god, you were so down, Dean. And then the kids were teenagers and we figured, we figured life was tough enough without their parents divorcing.”

For all Dean knows, Lisa is making some valid points but all he’s hearing is how his fucked up life stopped her from dumping him sooner. Like she’s some fucking martyr. 

“So what, you just decided to wait until Ben left to dump my ass? Because what, my job is done? I’ve brought him up while you were working a hundred hours a week. While you were building your business empire and, I guess, fucking Meg. I’ve taught little league and chaperoned high school dances, and sewn fucking Halloween costumes and built tree houses and patched up torn knees and mopped up puke and…”

“Don’t pretend for one minute that you didn’t love all that parenting crap, Dean,” Lisa snaps at him. 

And that’s fair. Raising Ben wasn’t a chore. He was the center of Dean’s goddamn universe for eighteen years. 

“Is that why you were so happy when he wanted to go to college abroad?” Dean asks, bitterly. “You figure dumping me would be easier if he was studying thousands of miles away in the UK?”

“No,” Lisa says, her expression as stony as Dean’s. “I figured he had less chance of being shot if he studied in England.”

And yeah, okay, that’s fair. Gun control and school shootings actually were one of the reasons they had agreed to Ben moving so far away. 

“Dean,” Lisa sighs. “I’m forty-three, you’re forty. We’re not kids anymore but we’re still young enough to make new lives for ourselves. To be happy. I don’t want to waste any more time.”

Dean feels like he’s been punched. “Waste time? That’s what our marriage has been. A waste of time?”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“It‘s what you said,” Dean points out icily. “You know what, I can’t listen to this bullshit anymore.”

“Where are you going? Dean?”

Bottle of whisky still gripped in his hand, Dean storms up to their bedroom, grabs a bag from the closet, and starts shoving things in it randomly. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, just knows that he has to get out of this house and away from Lisa before he breaks down completely. 

Lisa watches him from the bedroom doorway, twisting her hands anxiously. “Please, Dean, just stay tonight. I’ll sleep in the spare room. We can talk about this more in the morning. We need to talk about this.”

“I don’t need to do shit with you right now, Lisa,” Dean says, shoving his phone charger in his bag before zipping it shut. “What I need is to get the fuck out of here.”

“Dean, you shouldn’t drive when you’re upset,” Lisa says. “Please just stay. Where are you even going to go at this time of night anyway?”

“The beach house,” Dean says, glaring at Lisa until she stands aside and lets him pass. He hadn’t actually thought about where he was going until she asked. But the beach house is as good a place as any to hide out.

 

They bought the beach house around eight years ago. Not Dean and Lisa. Dean, Lisa, Meg, and Cas. Of course, Lisa and Meg had floated the idea originally. What a unique opportunity it was. What a bargain it was. But a bargain they could best afford if they shared the property. Because they might be rich, but at that point, they were not beach front property rich. 

Dean hadn’t been keen on the idea at first. He could pretend to get along with Meg and Cas when he had to. Short bursts of time were tolerable. Evenings together wooing business contacts usually went smoothly enough. Meg could hide her disdain for Dean for a few hours when the business depended on it. But, spending weekends, or weeks, together at a beach house… that wasn’t Dean’s idea of a fun time. 

Lisa, as usual, had talked him around. The house was big enough that they could all have their own space. There were three bedrooms upstairs, one a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom for Dean and Lisa. Downstairs there was another master bedroom for Meg and Cas, as well as a huge living room, and a spacious kitchen/diner. On top of all that there was an art studio, a family-sized pool, a double garage, a balcony with stunning views and the beach was literally on their doorstep. Plus, Lisa promised they would split up the days at the house, so each family had their own time alone. It was all far too good to pass up.

It worked out well enough. Sometimes Meg and Lisa would spend the weekend there together, occasionally with Ben and Claire when the kids were younger. But, usually just the pair of them when they wanted a ‘girlie weekend’ or had an important meeting to prepare for. 

Yeah, those girlie weekends take on a whole different spin now. 

The house hadn’t been in the best condition, to say the least, when they bought it. The state of disrepair was the only reason they could afford a four bedroomed property right on the beach. There had been a list of jobs as long as Dean’s arm that needed to be done to the place, but Dean was no slouch when it came to fixing things up and it turned out that as well as being a bona fide artist, and certified yoga teacher, Cas, the freaking overachiever, was also a competent carpenter, so between them they handled most tasks perfectly well on their own. Separately.

While Ben was at school, Dean would spend days at the house, replacing roof tiles, or sanding floors, tiling, painting, plumbing, doing anything that needed to be done. Cas chose to spend evenings working away replacing doors and stairs and making a fuckton of sawdusty mess with Claire hanging around ‘helping’.

To be fair, Cas had crafted and installed some stunning kitchen units. It had taken him months, but the quality was amazing. And the oak kitchen table that he’d made was an actual work of art. While Dean was handy because he grew up in a variety of shithole apartments that were usually half-way towards falling down, Cas was just fucking talented. 

Anyway, between them they fixed the house up pretty damn nicely if Dean does say so himself. After all the work he poured into the place, Dean has a huge soft spot for it. If pushed he’ll admit he likes it far more than their main house which he’d always thought was too stuffy and definitely more to Lisa’s tastes than his. The beach house is far more relaxed. Dean, Lisa, and Ben spent some fun family weekends here.

As he lets himself him into the beach house, Dean can’t help but wonder how much of those good memories are real. If Lisa spent every minute she was here with Dean wishing it was Meg she was with. If she and Meg fucked in every room. If they fucked in Dean and Lisa’s bed. 

Dean doesn’t make it any further than the kitchen before his knees give out and he sinks down to the floor, back propped up against the refrigerator. The enormity of the evening’s events hit him all at once. His life is never going to be the same again. He’s been lied to. Humiliated. Betrayed. He sobs until his throat aches and his face stings. Then he drinks until he can’t feel a damn thing.

Dean wakes to the smell of coffee brewing, his head is pounding thanks to the bottle of whisky he consumed, and his back is locked in a spasm thanks to the fact he appears to have spent the night on the kitchen floor. 

“You’re alive then?” 

Dean squints bleary up at Cas who’s staring down at him, a mug of coffee in his hand.

“The hell are you doing here?” Dean manages to ask. His tongue feels at least twice it’s normal size and, good god, what the fuck has he done to his back?

“I’ve as much right to be here as you do, Dean,” Cas says loftily. “This is my house too.”

Dean harrumphs. 

“Are you going to get up off the floor, or are you planning on spending the day there?”

Dean grunts. He would love to get up the floor, he just doesn’t think he can right now. 

“How long you been here for?”

“Not long,” Cas says. “Meg and I spent much of the night talking. Or, well, arguing to be honest. Once she went to bed, I decided to come here rather than stay in the house. Would you like a hand up off the floor?”

“I can manage,” Dean snaps. Fuck his head hurts and he could do without Cas staring down at him like a big-eyed judgemental owl. 

“If you say so,” Cas shrugs and turns away. “I’m going to drink my coffee on the balcony.

Once he no longer has an audience, Dean works up the energy to move. It’s not graceful, but he manages to roll himself onto his hands and knees and from there push himself upright. The room sways around him, his stomach lurching badly enough that Dean staggers across to the kitchen sink just incase he pukes. Thankfully, he saves himself that embarrassment and even manages to keep down several glasses of water. 

Eventually, he works up the energy to limp up to his and Lisa’s bathroom where he downs a handful of Tylenol and some Pepto Bismol he finds in the cabinet. After peeing like a racehorse and splashing cold water on his face he feels not quite human, but not quite so much like he’s dying either. A hot shower would probably help his back muscles but coffee seems like a far more urgent matter.

Coffee mug in hand —world’s best Dad mug that Ben gave him on Father’s Day when he was eleven— Dean hobbles out to the balcony, blinking against the morning sunshine. 

“So, Meg and Lisa, huh?”

“Apparently,” Cas says dryly.

“Guess we probably should have seen that coming.”

“Perhaps, in retrospect, we were embarrassingly oblivious.”

“So, you got any idea what you’re gonna do now?” Dean asks, mainly because he’s got no fucking clue himself.

“As it’s been less than a day since I discovered my wife has been lying to me for twelve years, surprisingly, no I don’t.”

“I was only asking, asshat.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t ask stupid questions, Dean.”

“What the fuck ever,” Dean grumbles into his coffee mug. “You’re not planning on staying here though, right?”

Cas stands up, pinning Dean with a glare. “Of course not. I would far rather stay with Meg and recount all the ways in which she betrayed me than stay in the home I practically built with my own two hands.”

You built?” Dean splutters. “You know how many hours of work I put into this place? The months I spent here fixing it up?”

Cas sniffs. “My art studio is here. I teach yoga classes on the beach four days a week. I’m staying.” He walks off without giving Dean a chance to argue. 

So, the first thing Dean apparently has to do is get Cas the fuck out of his house. 





CHAPTER TWO 



“Twelve years? She cheated on you for twelve years? With Meg?”

“Yes, Sam,” Dean says into the telephone, rubbing his forehead. “I’m not saying it again.” He’s already had to repeat himself twice.

“Jesus Christ, that… that’s unbelievable.”

“Well, believe it.”

“Shit,” Sam says. “You okay?”

No, he’s not okay. He’s so far from okay he’s on a different planet in another fucking galaxy. “I’m fine, Sam.”

“You want me to come out there? I can catch a flight today, maybe tomorrow.”

Yes, Dean does want the comfort of having his brother beside him during all this, but he’s not a completely selfish asshole. “No, Sam, don’t bother. I know you’re busy and you’re saving your vacation days for when Eileen pops.”

Dean almost smiles when he feels Sam’s shudder through the phone. “Please don’t call it that.”

“Sorry. For when Eileen squeezes out your no doubt gigantic sprog.”

Dean knows Sam is worried when he lets that one go without comment. 

“Still, I could manage a couple of days, Dean.”

“Maybe… maybe later,” Dean says. “When I figure out what the hell I’m doing. I’m still kinda processing to be honest.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Sam asks. He knows better than to push Dean when he’s already feeling overwhelmed. “You need anything?”

“A lawyer. Lisa and Meg are planning on getting hitched so I guess I’m getting unhitched.”

“Jesus,” Sam drawls again. “They aren’t hanging around are they?”

“Well, they’ve hung around for twelve years, I guess that’s long enough. You know a good divorce lawyer, Sammy?”

“Not off the top of my head, but I’ll ask around. But, you know once those sharks get involved it could get real messy and expensive.”

“You should know,” Dean says. Sam’s a lawyer himself after all. Although he’s a defense lawyer so Dean likes to think he’s got a few more scruples than divorce lawyers.

“You don’t think you and Lisa could sort the details of the divorce out between you?” Sam asks tentatively. “I mean, she cheated on you. She really doesn’t have a leg to stand on. You should be able to get a damn good settlement without too much of a fight. You helped her start the business after all. And you pretty much raised Ben single-handed.”

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Dean admits. It’s been less than twenty-four hours, he’s still in shock to be honest. “The only thing I know I want is the beach house.”

“The beach house?” Sam parrots. “The one you bought with Cas and Meg?”

“It’s the only beach house we have,” Dean points out. 

Sam hums. It’s not an encouraging sound. “I don’t know, Dean. That could be complicated. I mean, Lisa can’t just hand that over to you. Not unless Meg and Cas agree. You think they’d agree?”

Dean looks out the window to where Cas is swimming laps in the pool. “Yeah, no. I don’t think so.”



“Dean,” Lisa says, in that patronizingly over-patient voice she uses when she thinks Dean is being unreasonable. “I’m not sure what you want me to do? I can’t make Cas move out? He has as much right to be there as you or I do. Look, why don’t you come back home and we can talk about all this.”

“That isn’t my home anymore, Lisa. I never liked that house in the first place. I told you when you insisted we move there that it was too big and too pretentious and it felt more like a museum than a family home. Ben and I were perfectly happy in the old place. It was you who wanted a more prestigious address, so you’re more than welcome to move Meg in.”

“Actually,” Lisa says. “We were thinking about moving into Meg’s house for now, seeing as how it’s closer to the office. I’m putting this place on the market. I knew you wouldn’t want it.”

“And what about Cas?” Dean all but shouts down the phone. “When you were planning this out, where the hell did you figure Cas was gonna go?”

“I don’t know, Dean,” Lisa snaps back. “We didn’t actually have a grand plan. I guess… I guess I thought Cas would stay in the beach house and you… you would…”

“Would what exactly?” Dean asks. “Conveniently disappear into thin air?”

“Honestly? I thought you would move out to be closer to Sam and Eileen. God knows you’ve always cared more about Sam than me.”

“That’s bullshit, Lisa,” Dean growls. “And unfair.”

“I know,” Lisa backtracks immediately. “I’m sorry. But you have to admit you two are close. Plus you love kids. I figured if you didn’t have anything to stay here for, you’d want to be closer to Sam and Eileen when the baby came.”

“That would be super convenient, huh? If I just disappeared? Left you and Meg to pretend the past twenty years never happened.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to do,” Lisa says. “You’re overreacting. I’m sure if we all sit down, and discuss the situation like mature adults we can come up with a solution that everyone will be happy with.”

“Mature adults?” Dean’s laugh is bordering on hysterical. “Fuck you very much, Lisa. I want the beach house, and you damn well better tell Meg to tell Cas that…”

“Look,” Lisa says, cutting him off. “I’m sorry, but I’ve really got to go, Dean. Meg’s… well, uh… yeah… I’ll call you later, okay?”

Lisa hangs up abruptly leaving Dean staring angrily at his phone. Did Lisa just cut him off to go bang Meg? Sonofabitch!

“Everything okay?” Cas asks, walking into the kitchen, half-naked and dripping water from the pool. The question is innocent, but Dean can tell that the smirky asshole overheard at least the end of Dean’s conversation.

“Everything is just freaking peachy,” Dean growls. “For God’s sake put on some damn clothes and stop dripping water all over the hardwood floors.”

Cas shrugs. “I did say tiles would be more practical flooring for the kitchen.”

“Yeah, well if you dried off before walking on my damn floor…”

“Your floor?”

“Don’t start that shit, Cas.”

“I’m not starting any shit ,” Cas says, using air-quotes because he’s the kind of asshole that does that. “But you need to realize that this is my house too. Whatever attachment you have to this place is not any stronger than I have.”

“Bullshit,” Dean growls. “I spent nearly a year fixing this place up. My blood, sweat, and tears are in the fucking brickwork.”

“As are mine,” Cas returns, with his usual calm tone. Dean wants to shake him until his placid facade snaps. “I made the kitchen cabinets you’re leaning on. The table your mug is sitting on. I spent as many hours here as you turning this ramshackle house into a home.”

“I’m not leaving,” Dean says bluntly. 

“I’m not asking you to,” Cas informs him coolly. “But the fact is I’m not leaving either.”

 

It takes Dean nearly a week before he can face seeing Lisa again. A week of hiding out in the beach house and trying to avoid Cas as much as possible. Something he’s managed to do fairly successfully, partly because he spent most of the time holed up in his bedroom with the contents of the liquor cabinet and partly because Cas seems to spend most of his time doing yoga on the beach or working in his studio. When he’s not swimming laps or leaving his crap lying around that is. 

Dean did at least man-up and go back to their house to collect the rest of his stuff. He waited until he knew Lisa was out of town overnight for business before doing it, but still, he gives himself points anyway. 

Despite all the things they own, all the crap they’ve accumulated over eighteen years of marriage, it takes him only two car trips to pick up the stuff he wants to keep.

Most of it is practical shit like his clothes, his laptop, and documents that he needs. Then there’s the more sentimental crap like the record player and vinyl collection Sam gave him for Christmas a few years back, the guitar he’s had since he was eighteen, the few family photos he still owns from when he and Sam were kids, and the photos of him and Ben, the baseball trophy Ben won when he was nine and all the pictures and gifts Ben made for him when he was a kid. All in all it’s not much to show for half his lifetime, but he’s never exactly been high maintenance.

He swithers over taking some of the gifts Lisa gave him over the years. In the end, he takes a few. A couple of stupidly expensive watches that he secretly loves, a painting he fell in love with when they were on vacation in Europe a few years back and the first edition Vonnegut she gave him for Christmas about eleven years ago.

He happily leaves behind the car keys for the Prius that Lisa bought for his birthday the year before (and which he has driven exactly once), and the truck she bought him for their tenth wedding anniversary. Christ, even back then she was sleeping with Meg. It was probably a guilt truck. 

Regardless, the only car Dean wants and needs is the Impala. Baby never has and never will let him down. 


“I’m sorry, Dean,” Lisa says.

Baby’s pretty much the only woman in Dean’s life who hasn’t.

“I know this isn’t easy.”

“You think?” Dean says, pretending to take a drink of his coffee before placing the cup back down on the table between them. His stomach is rolling too much just seeing Lisa again to cope with coffee. He doesn’t want his wife, soon to be ex, to know that though.

“I hate that you’re hurting, Dean, but this, breaking up, it’s the best thing for both of us. You haven’t been happy for a long time.”

“Funny, I thought I was happy,” Dean says. “But then I also thought I had a faithful wife so I guess I’ve been known to be wrong.”

Lisa flinches ever so slightly before her face settles back into the mask she wears for business. “We need to discuss the divorce. What it is you want.”

Dean rubs the back of his neck. “Straight down to business, Lis? Are you that worried I’m gonna sic an attack dog of a divorce lawyer on you? You’ve got a lot of faith in me, huh?

Lisa shrugs, but Dean can tell she’s not as confident as she’s pretending to be. “Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you for being mad enough to take me to the cleaners. I figured Sam might have hooked you up with one of his law-school buddies by now. I bet he’s mad.”

“He’s my brother,” Dean says simply. “He’s allowed to be mad. But he knows the only people that win in a messy divorce are the lawyers.”

“So, what do you want, Dean?”

Dean sighs. He hates this so very fucking much. He’s tired of it already and they’ve not even discussed anything yet. Part of him wants to tell Lisa just to keep it all. He came into this relationship with little more than his car and clothes and a few bucks in the bank, if that’s all he leaves with then so be it. Sam would beat his ass though. 

“How about you draw up what you think is fair and I’ll get Sam to have a look at it.”

Lisa lets out a surprised puff of air, and then bites at her lip, her professional mask slipping completely. “I’m not trying to cheat you out of anything you’re entitled to but I won’t lose the business, Dean. I know you helped out at the start, hell, you were the face of the business for the first few years, but Meg and I have spent too long and invested too much time and energy to break it up to pay off you and Castiel. I know we’re the ones to blame for this whole mess, but—“

“Lisa.” Dean’s voice sounds exhausted even to his own ears. “I’m not trying to trick you. The business is yours. God knows you sacrificed enough over the years to make it a success. I’m not fighting you for it. Just… don’t fuck me over.”

“Dean, I…”

“But I want the beach house.”

Lisa grimaces. “I’ll try, Dean, I swear, but Cas is adamant that he’s staying, and seeing as how we all bought it together… “

“So you and Meg could have somewhere private to screw around?”

“No, it was an investment first and foremost. And a place we could all relax.”

“And somewhere you and Meg could have girlie weekends ?” Goddamnit Dean finds himself using air-quotes, that’s embarrassing.

“Well, yes,” Lisa says, sheepish, but at least honest for once.

“Whatever.” Dean stands up. “I’m done. Call me when you’ve figured this shit out.”

“Dean.”  Lisa stops him before he can leave. “Have you… have you talked to Ben about any of this?”

“No, I haven’t,” Dean admits. It’s not something he’s proud of. Ben hasn’t called for over a week and Dean for once is relieved. He doesn’t know how to tell him. And he honestly can’t stand the thought of upsetting his kid while he’s thousands of miles away and Dean can’t even give him a goddamn hug.

Lisa sighs. “Me neither. One of us is going to have to tell him.”

“You should,” Dean says. “You can explain it better. Answer any questions he has.”

“Okay.” Lisa nods. “That’s fair. I guess. I’ll call him tonight.”

“Tell him to call me afterward if he wants.”

“I will,” Lisa promises. 

It’s not a conversation he envies. But, she’s the one that’s responsible for this mess, she should have the dirty job of explaining it to the kid.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. 

He’s barely home before Ben calls him. 

Dean juggles his cellphone with one hand, almost dropping the groceries he’s carrying before he manages to set them on the table. He doubts that Lisa has had a chance to talk to Ben yet, so he presumes this is just a “hey, I’m still alive” call.

“Hey, bud,” he says, opening the refrigerator door and glaring at all the crap Cas has stuffed it full with. “How’s it going? Hooked up with any hot English chicks yet?”

“What the hell, Dad?”

Dean’s stomach drops when he hears Ben’s shrill tone. 

“When were you planning on telling me, huh?”

“Did your Mom call you?” Dean asks, closing the refrigerator door, and deciding to rake through the grocery bags for the bottle of Jack he bought. 

“No,” Ben says. “Claire called to tell me our moms have been screwing around since we were kids and they’re planning on getting married. She’s freaking out! And I don’t blame her! Seriously, Dad? What the fuck?”

“Language,” Dean scolds automatically, sitting down on a stool at the kitchen island and attempting to open the bottle with one hand. 

Ben snorts. “Is that seriously all you have to say?”

Dean sighs. “I’m sorry, and I’m sorry you found out from Claire. Your mom was planning on calling you tonight to tell you.”

“And you weren’t going to say anything?”

“I figured this was your mom’s news to tell. Look, I know this is a shock, but really, nothing is gonna change for you. We both still love you. We’re both still going to be right here if you need us. This isn’t the end of the world.”

“Dad, how can you be so fuc… freaking calm about all this! She cheated on you!”

And this is why Dean wanted Lisa to be the one to tell Ben. He knew he’d end up having to defend Lisa and what she’s done even though it’s the last thing he wants to do. What else can he do though? She’s still Ben’s mom. 

“Yes, she did,” Dean says. “And I can't pretend that I’m okay with it, but she didn’t do it to hurt me, or you, she did it because she… well, because she fell in love. And love makes us do some dumb shit.”

That doesn’t appease Ben quite the way Dean had hoped it would.

“Twelve years, Dad. She lied to us for twelve fucking years!!”

Dean celebrates finally opening the bottle by downing several mouthfuls as he listens to Ben rant incoherently before eventually calming down enough for Dean to get another word in. 

“Ben, bud, I’m as hurt as you are, trust me.” Hurt, betrayed, and downright devastated. “But think about how unhappy your mom must have been to do something like this.”

“I don’t care,” Ben snaps, sounding like the petulant teenager he still is.

“She loves you.”

“Whatever,” Ben huffs. “I don’t even know what the hell I’m supposed to say to her.”

“You say whatever you want. Tell her you’re mad. Tell her you’re upset. But don’t shut her out, okay?”

Ben grumbles something unintelligible as Dean downs another shot of bourbon. There’s a beat of silence before Dean realizes Ben has asked him a question.

“What was that, Ben?”

“I said where are you? What are you gonna do now? You’re not gonna go and stay with Uncle Sam are you?”

“No,” Dean reassures him. “I’m at the beach house. I was planning on staying here. At least until we get this divorce sorted out. Hopefully longer.”

“Oh,” Ben says. “I thought… Claire said Uncle Cas was staying there.”

“Oh yeah, he’s here too. We’re doing our best to avoid each other.”

At least that makes Ben laugh, even if it is strained. “Yeah, you two don’t strike me as being the most compatible roommates.” Ben hesitates before he adds. “But you… you’re doing okay, Dad?”

“I’m fine, Ben,” Dean says, doing his level best to sound convincing.

Not convincing enough apparently. “Maybe I should come home. I’m sure I could arrange some time off. Or I could just drop out and go to college closer to home next year.”

“No, absolutely not.”  Dean won’t have his and Lisa’s problems fuck up Ben’s future. That’s the exact opposite of what he wants for his son. “You’ve dreamt about this for years, kiddo. And you love it there, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“I’m fine. I swear. I mean, I’m not over the moon, but I’m doing alright. And honestly, I’d rather you were happy and settled across there than getting caught up in any drama between your mom and me. We’ll sort all this out. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”

It takes another ten minutes to persuade Ben that he’s doing the best thing in staying where is. And another five to convince him to give his mom a chance to explain her side of things. By the time they finish the call Dean is drained. That’s probably the hardest phone call he’s ever had. And that includes calling Sam to tell him their dad had died. 

He feels kind of sick and really fucking tired. 

He expends the last of his energy putting away groceries before collapsing on the living room sofa with his bottle. He doesn’t bother with a glass. He doesn’t need it.

“You really shouldn’t use alcohol as a crutch.”

Dean wakes up, reluctantly, head groggy, to Cas kicking his ankle. It’s dark outside, and Dean has no clue what time it is. 

“Fuck you,” he says, sitting up slowly and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He suspects he’s been drooling. 

Cas is looking down at him, his displeasure evident despite the lack of light in the room. “Oh yes, there’s the Dean Winchester charm we all know and love.”

“Jesus Christ, Cas, I’ve had a bad enough day, can you just leave me the fuck alone.”

“I’m sorry, the next time I find you in my living room lying in a pool of liquor, I’ll just pretend you aren’t there,” Cas, the condescending prick, says, before stalking out of the room without a backward glance.

It’s then of course that Dean notices that while he was asleep his bottle of Jack had slipped from his hand and he and the sofa are now literally steeped in bourbon. Well, that’s classy. Thank God Ben isn’t here. Dean always swore he would never be like John Winchester but right at this moment, he’s like a carbon copy of the guy. 

The next day it takes Dean two hours to clean the sofa and get rid of the stink of Jack Daniels. By the time he’s done he seriously doubts he’ll be able to stomach the smell of bourbon for a while. That’s probably not a bad thing.

Cas walks by once, ignoring him completely. If Dean was a bigger person he might apologize for snapping at him the night before. He’s not, so he ignores him right on back.

He spends the rest of the day moping in his bedroom. But he tells himself that this is it. The last day he’s going to sit around feeling sorry for himself. He needs to figure out a plan. Where he’s going to go from here. So what, he’s a forty-year-old soon-to-be divorcee without a career or a direction in life, it could be worse. At least he has his car, a roof over his head, and some money in the bank. He’s been in far worse situations in his life. As John Winchester would say, he needs to man the fuck up already. Although if he followed John Winchester’s example he’d spend the next twenty years drowning in a bottle of scotch and ignoring his family, so maybe his father's advice isn’t something he should focus on. 

The following day, Dean drags himself out of bed before dawn, stumbles downstairs, and after one cup of coffee, throws himself into cleaning the beach house. Seriously cleaning. He empties the kitchen cabinets and scrubs everything down. Tosses out-of-date tinned food into the trash, along with Lisa’s protein bars and slimming shakes. He washes windows, polishes the floors, and cleans the bathrooms so thoroughly they gleam. 

“You know we have a cleaner to do that?” Cas comments when he walks past Dean who’s down on his hands and knees trying to remove a faint stain from the living room floor. He actually thinks it might have been there since Claire and Ben decided they were both wizards and made a potion that had turned their hands, feet, and the floor green. He never had found out exactly what they’d put into it.

“She comes once a week,” Dean points out. “That was just about okay when we were only here weekends, not when there are two guys living here permanently. One of whom is a fucking slob. You do know we have a dishwasher, right? And that your dirty dishes don’t just wash themselves?”

“Relax, Dean. No-one is forcing you to clean up after me.”

Dean glares daggers at Cas’ back as he walks away.

“Hey,” Cas shouts from the kitchen. “Did you throw out my chickpeas?”

Dean ignores him and scrubs harder.

“I said,” Cas says, storming out of the kitchen. “Did you throw out my chickpeas?”

“Dude,” Dean says, looking up at him. “I don’t know. I tossed out the crap that was out of date.”

“Tinned food does not go out of date.”

“Yeah? Well, tell that to the tiny numbers on the side of the cans. Who the fuck even eats chickpeas anyway.”

“I was going to make hummus,” Cas growls. “In future, I’d appreciate it if you did not touch my things.”

Cas make hummus. Dean tries not to laugh. The only thing Cas is capable of making in the kitchen is a mess. Dean should know; he’s tossed out two burnt-useless pans in the past week. He stands up, trying not to wince as his back twinges. “You know what, Cas? If you don’t want me touching your crap maybe you could do us both a favor and just move the fuck out already.”

Cas’ eyes narrow. “Or perhaps you could.”

“This is my goddamn house.”

“Ditto.”

Cas and Dean scowl at each other across the room. 

It might be his imagination but it’s at this point Dean thinks he sees the gleam of an idea enter Cas’ head. The tiny smirk that turns up at the corner of his lips is unsettling enough to make Dean blink.

“One of us is going to have to move out.”

“Well, it ain’t going to be me, Novak.”

“I guess we’ll see about that, Winchester.”

 

Dean


CHAPTER THREE


Dean doesn’t think too much about his slightly sinister exchange with Cas until he’s woken up at four o’clock in the morning by what sounds like a winded cow bellowing downstairs.

After almost falling out of bed in shock, he half-runs, half-trips down the stairs, heart hammering in his ears, to find Cas sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, the smell of pot hanging thick in the air.

“What in the ever-loving fuck are you doing?” 

“Tuvan throat singing,” Cas replies.

“What?” Dean scrubs his hand over his eyes not entirely sure how awake he is just yet. 

Cas makes the godforsaken noise again, and Dean can safely say that it doesn’t sound any better close up. 

“It’s the middle of the goddamn night!”

“Which is the best time to practice,” Cas tells him. “Don’t worry, I won’t be much longer. Only another hour or two.”

“An hour or two?” Dean gapes at him. “Are you kidding me?”

“Possibly slightly longer now that you interrupted me. It may take me a while to get back in the zone.”

“The zone? You… you…. “ Dean splutters.

“You know if I’m disturbing you, you could always find somewhere quieter to live.”

That’s when Dean finally catches a clue. “You fucking dick.” 

Cas doesn’t smirk at him, but there’s a glint in his eye that amounts to the same thing. Dean grinds his molars.

“You think you can push me into moving out?”

Cas’ face doesn’t even twitch. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Two can play this game, Novak.”

“Bring it on, Winchester,” Cas calls after him as Dean stomps back up the stairs. 

Dean has plenty of time to plan his revenge over the next two hours while he holds a pillow over his head in an attempt to drown out Cas’ painful sounding caterwauling. With over thirty years of pranking his kid brother under his belt, Dean doesn’t lack experience in being an annoying jerk. The problem is he’s not sure how to push Cas’ buttons. The guy is so fucking zen it’s scary. 

It takes some serious brain-racking but eventually Dean has an epiphany. Ben’s seventh birthday party is memorable for many reasons. Sam’s hilarious attempts to avoid the clown for the whole afternoon is one of them. Cas’ reaction to the clown’s party trick, the other. 

Dean’s opportunity to strike comes a few days after the idea hits him. Cas is out for most of the afternoon thanks to yet another lawyers meeting which gives Dean time to prepare. By the time Cas gets home, there are three sausage dogs and a swan on the coffee table, a mutant giraffe on the sofa along with several deformed monkeys, and the floor is littered with what Dean is going to call snakes.

Cas stops dead in the doorway. “What are you doing?”

“Oh,” Dean says, twisting the cat’s neck in his hand just a touch too viciously. He makes no effort to hide his smirk when it explodes. Cas jumps at least six inches in the air, making what is quite possibly the funniest noise Dean has ever heard. “Your throat singing inspired me to take up a new hobby. I thought I’d try my hand at the art of balloon animal making. What do you think?”

When Dean starts blowing up another balloon Cas backs out of the room, his face managing to look both pale and flushed at the same time. “I’ll be in my studio,” he snarls, in the same tone of voice he would use to suggest that Dean should go kill himself. 

“Okay,” Dean calls after him, letting the air out of the balloon with a squeal. “I’ll tidy up after myself don’t worry.”

He doesn’t. Obviously. He leaves the corpses of deformed balloon animals scattered around the house for days until Cas either manages to overcome his irrational fear of balloons or asks one of his yoga pupils to pop them all for him. Dean suspects the latter. 

It’s a few days later when Cas makes his next move. Dean walks into the kitchen to find him standing in front of the refrigerator… buck naked. 

“Jesus, Cas put some damn clothes on, this isn’t a freaking strip club.” Dean isn’t thrilled when his voice comes out as a squeak, but he doesn’t need to see a naked ass in the middle of his kitchen. Even one as firm as Cas apparently has.

Cas turns around, grinning when Dean’s eyes stray to his dick... which impressively hasn’t minded the cold from the refrigerator one tiny bit. Dean turns his attention to the ceiling. There’s still a scorch mark there from when Cas tried to make popcorn.

“No, but it is my home, Dean. If I wish to walk around naked I think that’s rather my prerogative.”

Dean coughs and fiddles with the neck of his tee-shirt, keeping his eyes trained upwards. “Why the hell would you want to walk around naked?”

“I find it freeing,” Cas says, far too nonchalantly to be genuine. “Actually, I'm thinking about talking up naturism. That won’t offend your delicate Midwestern sensibilities too much will it?”

“No,” Dean squawks, backing away when Cas starts to walk towards him, his (sizeable) dick swinging between his thick thighs. He’s slightly ashamed to admit he outright turns and flees, practically running up to his room with his face burning. Dean is not a prude. He’s not. But wandering around buck naked in front of people is not okay. 

Although, Dean has to admit to himself, perhaps if he had a body as toned as Cas’, hips that were cut as sharp, and abs that were quite as lickable, maybe he’d want to show off too. 

When hunger pangs force Dean to venture down the stairs a couple of hours later, Cas is doing naked yoga in the living room. Despite his stomach rumbling angrily at him, he retreats, tripping back up the stairs so quickly he almost face-plants. He didn’t need to see Cas naked in that position. Hell, he doesn’t even think he’s seen Lisa naked in that position. He doubts he’s going to be able to look the guy in the eye ever again.

Dean finally manages to put an end to Cas’ naked tyranny by cranking up the air-con up to hoodie levels of comfort, thanking his lucky stars that Cas’ dire grasp of household technology means he doesn’t even know where the air-con controls are.

Dean accidentally slips a red bath towel in the laundry when Cas is washing his whites. Unfortunately, Cas seems genuinely thrilled with his pink tee-shirts.

Cas signs Dean up for Jazzercise classes. Dean gets calls from Blanche, the woman who runs them, every single day. After two weeks, she gives him a new pie recipe and he promises to think about trying her beginner’s classes. She’s so nice that he seriously considers it. 

Dean eats all Cas’ frozen tater tots. 

Cas almost burns the kitchen down attempting to make something on the stove. Given Cas’ panicked reaction to the flames billowing from the pan, Dean thinks that one might have been an accident.


“You don’t think this is all just a tad ridiculous, Dean?” Sam asks. Lisa’s lawyers finally drew up the paperwork for the divorce settlement and Dean is trying to relay the bits he thinks are important to his brother because Sam hasn’t received a copy yet. Dean is standing in the kitchen, his phone on speaker so he can page through the documents scattered across the island while sipping at a very much needed glass of whisky. Sam isn't talking about the settlement right now though. No, what Sam is talking about is the turf war he and Cas are still engaged in.

“Sure, it’s ridiculous but it’s not like I’m the one who started it.”

“I’m not the one who started it,” Sam parrots in a truly horrific impression of Dean. “You know that you sound like a four-year-old and not a forty-year-old right now.”

Dean huffs and sticks out his tongue at his phone, which if anything neatly backs up Sam’s point. “He’s an asshole and I want him out.”

Sam tuts in disapproval. “His wife just dumped him, something which I’d have thought you would have some sympathy for. I know you don’t want to hear it, but he has as much right to be there as you do. You know, the adult approach to all this would be to sit down and discuss the situation like two rational people.”

“Rational? You think that flake is rational? He bought pot brownies, Sam! And he tricked me into eating them!”

“Did he trick you into eating them or did you take one because they were there and you can’t resist anything sweet?”

“Exactly. He planted them knowing I’d take one,” Dean grumbles. “Anything could have happened. I could have died.”

Sam snorts. “It was pot, Dean. The brownie wasn’t laced with cyanide. I think the worst thing that could have happened was you getting an attack of the munchies.”

“I called Lisa,” Dean hisses. “And I cried down the fucking phone.”

“Oh,” Sam says, his laughter cutting off. “That’s, uh...”

“Humiliating,” Dean supplies. “Totally fucking humiliating.”

“Still,” Sam says. “You know this type of crap always escalates. It never ends well.”

“You’re just saying that because you still get flashbacks to the time I put Nair in your shampoo and dad ended up having to give you a buzz cut, bitch.”

The jab doesn’t get the expected response. Instead of the ‘jerk’ Sam would normally throw his way, Sam’s voice takes on a gentle tone that immediately raises Dean’s hackles. “Yeah, I do, because I remember how badly he punished you afterward.”

“I was a little shit, Sam, I deserved it.” Dean’s shoulders stiffen and he takes another sip of liquor.

“You ended up in the ER, Dean,” Sam says quietly. “No kid deserves that.”

“God, it wasn’t even that bad,” Dean groans. “Look, can we not do this right now.” 

“Maybe we should do this now,” Sam perseveres. “We never talk about it. Or you don’t at least. You know I had therapy after Dad died and everything that happened with Ruby and Jess. And talking about our messed up childhood actually—”

“Sam,” Dean snaps. “I don’t need therapy. I’m fine.”

“You’re getting divorced after twenty years of marriage. Your wife cheated on you for twelve of those years. Your kid, who you fucking doted on, is living thousands of miles away and doesn’t need you anymore. You don’t have a job or any life goals, and you’re in a prank war with your roommate. I hate to break it to you, Dean, but even if we don’t talk about all the ways Dad fucked us both up, you’re not fine.”

“Well, thanks very much for the pep talk, Sammy,” Dean says wryly. 

“I’m just saying—,”

“Saying what, Sam?” Dean snaps, pacing across the room and back again. “That I’m fucked up? That my life is in the crapper? That no matter what the fuck I do, everyone leaves me?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” Sam says, his voice wavering dangerously. If he starts crying Dean is going to flip. “And none of that shit is true. You know it’s not. I… I just think now would be a good time for you to practice a little self-care.”

“Self-what the fuck, Sam?”

“Self-care, Dean. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve spent all your life looking after other people. Me, Dad, Lisa, Ben. It’s about time you put as much time and effort into your own well-being. Focus on yourself for a change. Figure out what you want from life. Make some goals for yourself. Maybe eat a little better, stop drinking, talk to someone.”

Dean leans against the island, his glass clenched so tightly in his hand that it creaks. 

“I love you, Dean,” Sam says earnestly. “And I worry about you.”

“You basically just called me a fat lazy drunk, Sam,” Dean points out.

“That’s not what I said,” Sam snaps, more in frustration than anger. Dean hears him take a deep breath before he continues. “And it’s definitely not what I meant. Look, why don’t you come out here and stay for a while. You know Eileen and I would love to have you.”

“No,” Dean says, taking another drink before turning back around and setting his glass carelessly down on top of the settlement papers. “Thanks, Sam, but no thanks. Like you said, I need to sort my shit out. I don’t think running away is going to solve anything, do you?”

That’s not a dig at Sam. Not intentional anyway. They moved past the issue of Sam running away from his problems —and Dean— years ago. 

“It wouldn’t be running away, Dean.” Sam perseveres even though Dean is very much over this conversation.

“Listen, Sam, I’ve got to shoot. Give me a call when Lisa’s lawyers get their fingers out their asses and send you those documents. They look okay to me, but you’re the expert.”

“Dean—“

“Thanks, Sammy.” Dean ends the call before Sam can say anything else. He leans down over the kitchen island and drops his head onto the worktop with a thunk. He knows Sam is just looking out for him, that he’s worried and trying to help, but Dean would probably feel better right now if Sam had somehow just reached through the phone and punched him in the balls.

When he finally straightens up, he finds Cas standing in the kitchen doorway staring at him, guilt hovering in his eyes.

“You eavesdropping now, Cas?” Dean asks, crossing his arms over his chest. 

“I was… ah… just looking for my sunglasses.” Cas points at the pair of aviators sitting beside the kitchen sink. 

Dean picks up his tumbler and finishes off his drink before shuffling all the paperwork back together. Cas stops beside him after he’s fetched his sunglasses. “I truly didn’t mean to intrude, Dean,” he says quietly. 

Dean kind of wants to know just how much of the conversation Cas heard, but he also figures he’ll probably want the floor to open up and swallow him if he knows the answer. 

“It’s fine,” he says, gruffly, grabbing his things and making a hasty exit. One thing he can do without is that asshole feeling sorry for him.

Things are quiet for a few days after that. Dean’s back in a bit of a slump, where just getting out of bed and having a shower feels like a major achievement. Thankfully, Cas seems to have temporarily ceased hostilities and decided to stay out of his way.

Dean sees him a couple of times out on the beach, leading his yoga classes. He teaches mixed groups, from hardcore twenty-somethings bending into ridiculously complicated poses to retirees doing exercises a little less painful looking, but still probably more than Dean could manage. Cas obviously makes everything look effortless. The smug asshole.

It’s not like Dean is completely out of shape. He can still run a few miles without keeling over, but, unlike Cas, he’s far from as lean as he was twenty years ago, back when he was modeling part time. Although when he looks back at the advertising promos he did for Lisa and Meg when they were trying to get the business off the ground, he has to admit they’re a bit of a cringefest. At the time, he thought he looked cool with blonde tips in his hair, the pink lip gloss Lisa persuaded him to wear, his oiled chest and his tiny running shorts. In retrospect, he most definitely looked like a twink trying way too hard in a gay bar.

Although he has always tried to keep in shape, lately, he has slowed down some. Before Ben left, they’d go out running together most days. And Dean still worked out at the gym once or twice a week because Lisa liked him to show his face; it was apparently good for staff morale for the boss’ husband to be seen using the facilities. Plus, Dean still liked to talk to a few of the clients they’d had right from the early days, back when Lisa and Meg only owned one gym and taught all the classes themselves, and way before they started producing diet drinks and health bars. 

Dean hates those damn things. The idea and the taste of them. Looking down at his  stomach though, he figures he might have to consider some kind of diet soon. Or maybe just stop drinking. And he definitely needs to find another gym because he’s sure as hell not going to be able to show his face in Lisa’s ever again. 

Four days after talking to Sam, Dean finally gets fed up with moping, second-guessing all his life choices, ignoring his phone, and eating ice-cream for breakfast. He can practically see the constipated expression on Sam’s face if he finds out just how pathetically Dean’s acting. 

He doesn’t exactly leap out of bed, but he does at least make the damn thing once he’s up. Then, as soon as hears Cas leave the house to teach one of his classes down on the beach, he swims a few laps of the pool, and that actually makes him feel a little less flat. By the time he’s dressed and has had his coffee, he’s feeling human enough to face venturing out to run errands. 

He grabs his wallet and his keys, and is compiling a to-do list in his head while he heads out to where the Impala is sitting in the driveway. The beach house does have a generous double garage, but Cas’ hideously boring Prius is in there along with the kid’s old bikes, and a heap of Lisa’s clothes and crap that Dean had shoved into trash bags. He mentally adds cleaning out the garage to his list of chores. 

And then every thought in Dean’s head comes screeching to a car-crash standstill and all he can do is stare. 

After everything that’s happened in the past few weeks, every trial and test, every annoyance, this is what sends him hurtling over the edge. This is the final straw. 

When he looks back on it later he won’t remember storming from the house down to the beach. And he certainly won’t remember that the last few stragglers from Cas’ yoga class were still packing up their things. 

About the only thing he will remember is the stunned expression on Cas’ face when Dean marches up to him, yelling like a madman.

“You asshole,” Dean spits. “You goddamn fucking asshole. You think you’re funny? Huh?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Cas says.

“Bullshit,” Dean rages. “You’ve gone too far this time.”

Cas looks over his shoulder at the last of his class, who are now pretending that they aren’t watching with interest. “Dean, perhaps you should calm down before you burst a blood vessel. I don’t think your face is supposed to be that color. It does not look healthy.”

Dean pokes Cas in the chest. “Well, you know what’s not good for your health, Novak? Screwing with my car.”

Cas takes a step back and crosses his arms over his chest. “I have not touched your ancient monstrosity of a car.”

“Oh really?” Dean says, waving his arms wildly. “So the air just let itself out of all four tires? Do you have any idea how fucking moronic that was? You could have bent the fucking rims.”

“Listen to me, Winchester,” Cas growls, starting to lose his cool. “I did not touch your pathetically phallic car.”

“You expect me to believe that?” After all the other shit you pulled?”

“And what about the stunts you’ve pulled, Dean? Don’t act like you’re an innocent party in this whole stupid business.”

“I never did anything like this,” Dean says. “And you started it!”

“Well, you certainly joined in,” Cas says, dryly. “Any idea where my cellphone is, Dean, because I haven’t seen it for two days.”

No, Dean doesn’t have any idea where Cas’ phone is actually. Probably under a pile of dirty laundry in Cas’ bedroom. “I haven’t touched your stupid cellphone. Unlike you, I’m not that fucking petty.”

Cas’ eyes darken. “You want to talk about petty? You’re the one who changed the WiFi password to CasSucksBalls.”

“It was CasSucksHisOwnBalls, actually,” Dean sneers. “And if you really want to talk about petty how about you stinking the house out with those goddamn weird cheeses? The refrigerator ended up smelling like feet!”

“Perhaps if you didn’t put your socks in the refrigerator it wouldn’t smell like feet!”

“Those socks were clean,” Dean hisses. 

“And don’t think I don’t know that you broke the mug Claire bought me!”

To be fair, that one genuinely was an accident. Not that Cas would believe him. “Maybe if you’d put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher rather than piling them up like a game of jenga, it wouldn’t have gotten smashed.”

“That mug held great sentimental value, Dean,” Cas snarls, uncrossing his arms so he can jab his finger in Dean’s face. “Just because you have the emotional depth of a lump of a wood does not mean the rest of us do.”

“What?” Dean says. “Fuck you, dickweed, I have emotional depth.”

“Dean Winchester, you are an emotionally constipated Neanderthal,” Cas scoffs. “You would rather drown your feelings in liquor than talk to anyone who is stupid enough to care about you. It’s hardly any wonder that your son chose to go to school in another continent, your brother lives on the other side of the country, and your wife left you for someone who could actually make her happy.”

Okay, that stings.

“Your wife left you too,” Dean yells, shoving Cas in the chest to get him out of his face. “And at least Ben is at college. A prestigious college. He’s not just bumming around Europe.”

“Claire is taking a gap year.” Cas yells back, spittle flying in Dean’s face. “She’s learning how to think independently and fend for herself. Something which your child would benefit greatly from.”

“And what that fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you’ve helicopter-parented that boy so badly he probably doesn’t even know how to make his own bed never mind his own decisions.”

“Don’t you dare criticize my parenting skills,” Dean snarls. “Ben isn’t the one who stole a car. Or got arrested for shoplifting. Or who broke into Denny’s.”

“No, he was too busy getting wasted and passing out at his friend’s parties,” Cas throws back. 

“That was one time,” Dean snaps. “And that’s what normal eighteen-year-olds do. It’s not like he’s a teenage delinquent who carries a fucking bowie knife around with him.”

“Do not call my kid a delinquent,” Cas growls, threatening and low. 

“She’s not even your kid,” Dean yells back.

And that’s when Cas punches him. Hard.

Dean staggers backwards, holding his jaw and looking at Cas in shock.

Cas looks fairly shocked himself. 

At that point, Dean should admit that he stepped over a line. He should apologize. He should not regress to being a scrappy twelve-year-old with a chip on his shoulder.

What Dean should do and what Dean does are, unfortunately, two very different things. Every frustration he’s been holding in suddenly boils over. A red mist descends over his eyes. Reason, common sense, and decorum leave the building. He charges at Cas, shoving him hard in the chest. Cas, who apparently has fucking awesome reflexes, grabs his wrist and before Dean can tell which way is up he finds himself lying flat on his back in the sand with Cas a solid weight on top of him. There’s a moment when they stare into each other’s eyes with the kind of intensity that in Dean’s experience usually leads to sex, but then matters devolve into a very embarrassing brawl that consists mainly of flailing arms and knees finding themselves in painful places. 

In the end, it takes three of Cas’ yoga students to separate them.

It would have only taken one, had the last stragglers from Cas’ class not been three octogenarians with two bad hips and a dodgy back between them.

It’s safe to say it’s not the classiest moment of Dean’s life.





CHAPTER FOUR


It takes Dean just long enough to wash the sand from his hair to reflect on the fact that he’s screwed up in a major way. Trash-talking someone’s kid is a new low even for Dean. No matter the provocation. He deserved the punch in the face and probably more besides. 

A fresh tee-shirt clinging to his still slightly shower-damp skin, Dean grabs a bottle of Cas’ favorite vodka from the refrigerator and goes in search of his sparring partner. He finds him slumped on the battered leather sofa in his art studio. Dean knocks on the open door to get Cas’ attention.

“You realize you’re supposed to knock on the door before you open it,” Cas says, archly. 

“I figured you would either ignore me or tell me to fuck off,” Dean admits.

Cas tilts his head. “You’re not wrong.”

Dean waves the bottle of vodka. “I brought a peace offering.”

“That’s my vodka,” Cas points out. “I’m not sure how something I paid for is a peace offering?”

“I did bring it all the way out here from the kitchen.” 

When Cas doesn’t appear mollified Dean bites the bullet and does the grown-up thing. 

“I’m sorry, Cas. What I said about Claire was way out of order.”

“Technically you were right. She’s not my kid.” The dude sounds so miserable that Dean feels like punching himself. 

“You’ve brought her up since she was six years old. You’ve loved her and been there for her like no-one else has. She’s your kid. And… and she’s not a delinquent. That was a shitty thing to say.”

Sighing deeply, Cas levers himself off the sofa and fetches two tumblers from a cabinet, ignoring the array of papers and pens that fall out when he opens the door. Dean wisely doesn’t mention the mess even if part of him does want to clear it up. 

Cas holds the glasses while Dean pours the vodka, taking one when Cas offers it. He only remembers how violently he dislikes the taste of vodka when he takes his first sip. The only saving grace is that it’s a decent brand and not the cheap shit that tastes like gasoline. 

“For the record,” Cas says, sitting back down and motioning for Dean to join him. “I don’t think you’re a bad parent. I am aware that you were Ben’s main caregiver and you’ve done a good job of raising him. He is a credit to you.”

“Thanks.” Dean’s surprised at how relieved he is to hear Cas say that. But, Ben’s pretty much the only thing in his life that Dean considers he got right. “I appreciate that. And, y’know, ditto. Claire’s a fucking spitfire. She’s gonna go far.”

Cas snorts into his glass. “Yes, she will. Either that or to prison. She tends to walk a fine line.”

“She’s still young,” Dean says. “We all take risks when we’re young. You allow her to make her own mistakes. I respect that.”

“Meg thinks I am too “easy going” with her,” Cas says, the vodka sloshing up the side of his glass when he uses air quotes. “But she would have rebelled far worse if I’d tried to be strict.”

“You know her best.” Dean shrugs. “Raising teenagers is a crapshoot. You never know which way they’re gonna jump in any situation. You can only hope they don’t fuck up too badly and be there when they inevitably do. Lisa pitched a fit when Ben got drunk at that dumb party. Honestly? I was just glad he had the sense to call me to pick him up before he passed out. Christ knows at his age I wouldn’t have been so sensible.”

“At that age, I was the most buttoned-up, straight-laced student you could have met and adamant I was going to become a priest.”

Dean chokes on his vodka. Cas slaps his back until he stops coughing. “You’re shitting me! You were going to become a priest? What the fuck happened?”

“I met Meg while taking a theology class in my junior year and she introduced me to the joys of sex and drugs and…”

“Rock and roll?”

Cas squints at Dean apparently oblivious to the joke. “No, I was not a fan of her taste in music. I was going to say hard liquor.”

Dean laughs, and pours them both another generous shot of vodka. “I guess I could see you as a priest. You’ve got the whole zen thing going on.”

“Well, the yoga and meditation help with that,” Cas says, before adding after a pause, “and the weed of course.”

Dean finds himself laughing again. He never really thought of Cas as being funny before. He’s not even entirely sure Cas is meaning to be funny now. 

Two hours later and all that’s left of the vodka is a dribble at the bottom of the bottle. They’ve moved on to drinking homemade wine that one of Cas’ students gave him. Dean is completely wasted. But at least this time he has company.

“Did you know,” Cas is saying from where he’s sitting cross-legged on the floor. Dean isn’t sure how he got down there. He’s also not entirely sure how he ended up sitting beside him. “That I once had a threesome with Lisa and Meg?”

Dean’s jaw drops. 

“While we were students,” Cas thankfully goes on to say. “Way before Lisa met you.”

Dean does his best imitation of a goldfish. He’s not sure how he never knew that. He figures if his wife slept with her best friend’s husband, and her best friend, it’s something they maybe should have mentioned. 

“It was Lisa’s idea. She was very open about how much she enjoyed sex back then.”

Yeah, Dean has to admit, Lisa had never been shy about asking for what she wanted in bed. And she definitely wanted to take charge more often than not. Not that Dean ever complained. Bossy Lisa was hot as hell.

“Yes, she was very bossy,” Cas agrees. Dean closes his mouth. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. “In retrospect, perhaps I should have known Meg and Lisa’s relationship was more than just that of business partners. They were always very wrapped up in one another.”

Dean’s definitely too drunk for this conversation. “Not your fault,” he says, knocking his elbow against Cas’ arm. “There were plenty of clues for us both to see. I mean, seriously, how many girlie nights did they need when they worked together every damn day. They’ve spent more time together than with us over the past twenty years. Honestly, Meg and Lisa are already more married than Lisa and I ever were.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Cas says, sloppily patting Dean’s thigh. 

“I think Meg was right, y’know,” Dean admits. “The only reason Lisa married me was because she was pregnant and her parents were freaking out. Fuck, we’d only known each other six months. We were barely going steady.”

“You did an admirable thing,” Cas says. “Stepping up like that.”

Dean sighs. “She would have managed fine without me. But, I always wanted to be a dad, y’know. Figured I could do all the things my old man never did for me. Actually give a shit about the kid. Turn up to school concerts and baseball games and teach them how to ride a bike and shave properly. Not if the kid turned out to be a girl obviously. But I would still have taught a girl how to pitch a baseball and throw a punch.”

“You are a good dad.”

“Funny thing is,” Dean continues, even though he should really shut up now. Apparently homemade wine has truth serum qualities that makes Dean’s mouth just keep on running. “I don’t even know if Ben is my kid. Lisa slept with a couple of other guys around the same time she slept with me. She was honest about it though. Said we could do a DNA test if I wanted. But I thought, what’s the point, right? I’m gonna bring the kid up to be mine anyway. That’s all that matters. Right? Right, Cas?”

“Yes, Dean,” Cas replies, solemnly. “That’s all that matters.”

“Pretty ironic that I was such a dick to you about Claire not being your kid when the odds are that Ben probably isn’t even mine.”

Dean doesn’t notice that he’s sobbing into Cas’ shoulder until Cas’ arm loops around him and holds him tight. Dean can’t remember the last time anyone held him. It’s nice. Cas is nice. And he smells good too. That’s Dean’s last conscious thought before he falls asleep.

He wakes up with his back muscles cramping, stomach churning and a mariachi band playing behind his eyes. He needs to stop drinking. 

“Ah, you’re awake.”

Dean cautiously half opens one eye. Cas, looking freshly showered and unfairly hangover-free, is staring down at him with coffee in his hand. Dean knows his hangover is going to be a bad one when the smell of coffee makes his stomach turn. 

“Ugh,” he groans, closing his eyes again. 

“I should have warned you about the wine,” Cas muses. “It’s rather lethal.”

“How are you even standing?” Dean groans, and god it feels like his tongue has grown a layer of fur overnight.

“Thankfully, I have developed some immunity to Mr. Carstairs’ home-brew over the past few years. Can I get you anything? Water? Tylenol? A bucket?”

“Yes,” Dean says. “All of the above.” He very very slowly works his way into an upright position while Cas disappears, hopefully, to fetch something that will put Dean out of his misery. 

“Here,” Cas says, a few minutes later, offering Dean a glass of water and a handful of pills which Dean accepts and swallows without question. “I tried to move you up to your bed last night but I’m afraid my sofa was as far as we made it.”

“Better than the floor,” Dean says, although he wonders if the floor might have been kinder to his back than Cas’ ancient sofa with its lumpy cushions and broken spring. 

It takes twenty minutes and another glass of water before Dean manages to move. He’s inordinately grateful to make it to his bathroom without throwing up. Thankfully, a shower and change of clothes help him feel more human. 

The pills kicking in and eating a breakfast of dried toast and orange juice out on the balcony chase away the rest of his nausea and the worst of his headache. Cas joins him out there, sitting beside him so he can look out at the ocean view too. 

“Do you… how much…” Cas appears unusually nervous as he attempts to ask Dean a question. “Do you have a full recall of our conversation last night?” He eventually spits out. Dean twists his head to look at him, surprised to see Cas is blushing. That’s something Dean hasn’t seen often.

“I think I remember it all? Me crying like a baby? You planning on being a priest? You having a threesome with my wife?”

Cas makes a choking noise. “She wasn’t actually your wife then, but, ah… yes, that’s what I was worried about. I should not have blurted that out. Especially if Lisa hadn’t already told you. I’m very sorry, Dean.”

Dean just waves his hand. He’s not that bothered to be honest. “Don’t worry about it, Cas. It’s not a big deal. I knew Lisa was pretty wild when I met her. She likes sex. And she liked lots of sex back then. It’s cool. It’s not like I was a blushing virgin when we met.”

Although he was rather less experienced than Lisa had been. The wildest thing he’d done was trying on an ex-girlfriend’s panties. Something which he had kind of liked, but had never had the balls to try again. Or mention to Lisa. 

“Yes, Meg and I were rather flexible with our sex lives back then. Even when we were first married we partook in the occasional orgy. Well, right up until Jimmy disappeared and Claire became my responsibility. That rather curtailed our opportunities to invite more partners into our bed.”

This is a weird conversation to be having over breakfast. 

“There is one other thing I do have to apologize for,” Cas continues, edging forward on his chair nervously. “The flat tires on the Impala? That… um… that was me. I swear I didn’t realize how much damage it could do. I thought it would just be a minor inconvenience. I’m sorry.”

Cas is lucky Dean doesn’t have the energy to get mad this morning. Any other time he’d rant for at least twenty minutes about Cas having the nerve to touch his baby. “Got to admit, Cas,” he says, without much heat. “I’m more pissed about you messing with my car than I am about you sleeping with my wife.”

Cas laughs and then shoots Dean a nervous glance. “I’ll pay for any damages.”

“Damn right you will.” Dean nods.

“And I know that you may already be planning your revenge but I was hoping that perhaps we could call a truce?”

Dean stays silent for a moment. Truth be told, he was going to suggest the same thing but he reckons Cas deserves to sweat for a minute or two after what he did to Baby. “Sure,” he says, eventually, having drawn out his pause for long enough to satisfy even a Simon Cowel production. “I guess we’ve both got enough to deal with right now without worrying about finding itching powder in our pants.”

“Indeed,” Cas says, relaxing back into his chair once more. “Divorce is a rather tiring process.”

“And I guess, for now, this house is big enough for the both of us,” Dean concedes. 

Cas nods and sticks his hand out to the side in front of Dean. “So, truce?”

Dean rolls his eyes at Cas’ formality but smiles too. “Truce,” he agrees, shaking Cas’ hand. “As long as you at least attempt to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher.”

“And as long as you promise not to change the WiFi password again.”

“Deal,” Dean agrees.



Sam gives Dean the go ahead to sign the divorce papers a couple of weeks after he and Cas drop hostilities. The agreement, once it’s finalized in the courts, means that Dean will end up with enough cash in the bank to ensure that, if he’s careful, he should never have to worry about money again and Lisa will keep the business and everything she’s worked so hard for. 

Meg and Lisa agree to sign the beach house over to Cas and Dean leaving them to decide what to do with it further down the line. Whether they sell up completely or buy each other out remains to be seen, but, oddly enough, after a very rocky start, they’re managing to cohabitate quite happily together. 

Dean still thinks Cas is a bit of a slob and Cas is still firmly of the opinion that Dean needs to ease the stick out of his ass, but they usually balance each other out. Cas is pretty handy when it comes to getting rid of spiders. And while he’s still useless at loading the dishwasher, or emptying it, or knowing how to turn it on, and he does have a habit of wandering around mostly (or entirely) naked, he does warn Dean when the gummy bears in the kitchen cabinet are edibles. 

Dean would even go so far as to say that he and Cas are now friends. 

It’s weird. But kind of nice to have someone who understands what he’s going through. 

“You know, Dean,” Cas says, watching him with concern crinkling his eyes. “If you would start coming to my classes, it would help your back enormously.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my back,” Dean says, wincing, as he sits down.

Cas raises a judgemental eyebrow. 

Dean ignores him. He’s fine. Just a little stiff. Bending himself into knots in one of Cas’ yoga classes definitely wouldn’t help. In fact, it would probably put him in the Emergency Room. 

“I must have overdone it at the gym this morning,” Dean admits. 

“Oh, that’s right. You were trying out that new place. How did you like it?”

”Yeah, it was good,” Dean says. “Better than the last couple. Think I might sign up.”

Dean’s search for a new gym has not gone as smoothly as he’d imagined it would. Maybe it’s because, weirdly, nowhere has felt quite as welcoming as a gym his (ex)wife owns. Or maybe it’s because he’s forty-years-old and more in danger of developing love handles than a six-pack. He doesn’t want to work out next to teenagers who don’t even exercise hard enough to sweat and instead spend most of their time posting selfies to Instagram.

The place he went to today seemed a bit more his style. The owner, Benny, a friendly bear of a guy, had introduced himself and shown Dean around. The atmosphere was laid back, the equipment modern and easy to navigate, and the clientele an even mix of genders, age-groups, and physiques.

Cas isn’t so convinced. “I still think yoga would be more beneficial. You need to stretch yourself, Dean, physically and mentally. You need to find your center. Your chi.”

“Hmm,” Dean says. “Speaking of finding… did you find your sunglasses, yet?”

“Not yet. They’ll turn up.” Cas shrugs. Which means no he hasn’t. Before Dean can suggest that perhaps if Cas tidied occasionally, he might locate them, Cas asks, “and speaking of glasses, did you schedule an eye-test, yet?”

Dean grumbles under his breath. He feels old enough without having to wear glasses. Divorced, backache, deteriorating eyesight, he may as well buy a cardigan, pipe, and slippers and wait for Death to come floating along with his scythe. He’ll keep on squinting for a while longer, thank you very much. 

“You’re being ridiculous,” Cas points out. He knows Dean well enough now to sense which direction Dean’s imagination is wandering. “And you’re going to get crows feet if you keep screwing your eyes up when you’re reading.”

“I already have them,” Dean complains, poking at the side of his eyes. 

“And they’re adorable,” Cas says, and then coughs awkwardly. “Anyway, I’m heading out soon, so…” he draws out the ‘ sooo’ obviously waiting for some kind of reaction from Dean. 

“So?” Dean says, before he remembers Cas’ plans for the night. It’s far from the first date he’s been out on lately. Dean knows the drill. “Oh, so don’t wait up?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of so… don’t come knocking if the bedroom is rocking’.”

Dean guffaws, it’s not a noise he ever recalls making before. “Okay, a) never say that again, b) if your room’s rocking it’s gonna be because there’s an earthquake and c) I swore never to go in your bedroom again after the seagull incident.” Dean shudders. “You’re very confident that your date is gonna put out this time. You sure she’s that easy?”

“He,” Cas says, giving Dean a sideways glance as though he’s not sure how Dean will react. “My date tonight is a he.”

Dean’s surprised for about a millisecond. And then he remembers this is Cas, the guy who had a threesome with Dean’s wife and used to take part in orgies. He shrugs. “And you figure you’re getting lucky tonight?”

“I’m hopeful,” Cas says. “You don’t care that I’m going out with a guy? That I’m not straight?”

“Well, it’s not like I’d have much room to talk seeing as how I’m bi.” Dean’s aiming to sound laissez-faire but is betrayed by his nervy pink-cheeked blush. It’s weird saying that aloud. Dean hasn’t told anyone he’s bi since he told Lisa. The only other people who know are Sam (and presumably Eileen because Sam can’t keep a secret from her to save himself) Aaron Bass who Dean exchanged sticky handjobs with back in senior year, and the dude he blew at a college party. His dad definitely didn’t know. That was one argument Dean wanted to avoid for as long as possible; that turned out to be forever.

Cas turns his head and stares straight at Dean. “Really? I did not see that coming. Dean Winchester likes dick, and admits it.”

Dean scowls and flicks his sunglasses down from where they were balanced on top of his head to cover his eyes. “Shut the fuck up, asshole. See if I admit my darkest secrets to you again.”

Cas shakes his head as he stands up, patting Dean on the shoulder. “That’s your darkest secret? I don’t know whether I’m disappointed or impressed.” He’s joking but he squeezes Dean’s shoulder reassuringly. “Try and stay out of trouble while I’m gone. No wild parties.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean says, smacking Cas’ hand away when he tries to ruffle Dean’s hair. “Like I’m the one who holds wild parties.”

“What?” Cas says, as if he doesn’t know perfectly well what Dean’s talking about. “You mean my Halloween party? That wasn’t wild, Dean. There were barely two dozen people there and most of them were my yoga students.”

“My house was filled with strangers. Strange strangers. Who drank my booze, ate my food, and fell asleep in the bathtub. In my en-suite bathroom! I went for a piss in the middle of the night and almost had a freaking coronary.”

Cas laughs. “You should have joined us instead of hiding in your room and watching crappy old movies.”

“Hey,” Dean says, affronted. “All Saints Day isn’t a crappy movie, it’s a B-movie classic.”

Cas gives Dean a pitying look. “You need to get out more. You need to get out, period.”

“It might have escaped your attention but the invitations aren’t exactly flooding in. I can’t even find anyone to play a round of golf with anymore.” Cas rolls his eyes. And okay, yes Dean has to admit that golf is a game for douchebags but he enjoys it. “Apparently all my friends are, in actual fact, Lisa’s friends. I’m about as popular as herpes right now.”

“Have you got herpes?”

“No, I don’t have herpes!”

“Then what’s stopping you from getting back out there and meeting new people? Dating? You’re young-ish, free, and single.”

“The ink isn’t even dry on my divorce yet. Forgive me if I’m reluctant to get back on that horse.”

“So you’re just going to sit here and mope forever?”

“And live vicariously through you, yes.” 

The thought of going out and meeting people, of going on dates, on first dates again, is enough to make Dean feel queasy. He hated that shit when he was a teenager, and he suspects dating is not something that gets easier with age. At least back then he was pretty enough that he never had to make the first move. 

“Dean,” Cas says, and Dean can hear the lecture brewing in the tone of that one word. Sam manages to say his name exactly the same way. “You are barely forty years old, you have the best of the rest of your life ahead of you. All you need to do is decide what you want and go for it. You are smart and unfairly attractive and—”

“Cas,” Dean cuts in. “I thought you had to get going. Neither of us is going to be getting laid tonight if you turn up late.”

Cas glances at his watch, and squints at Dean, as though he’s the one responsible for making time tick forward. “We will talk about this later,” he warns, pointing at Dean.

“Not if I can help it,” Dean mumbles to Cas’ departing back. 

After Cas leaves though, while he’s drinking a cold beer and watching the ocean lapping up against the shoreline, Dean mulls over Cas’ words. Sam had said something similar. They’re both right. Dean does need to decide what he wants. 

He’d never had any grand plans for what he would do when Ben left home. He’d assumed he’d still be with Lisa. He just figured things would go on as normal. 

He was very wrong there.

While Dean hasn’t held down a job for a while, it’s not like he’s been sitting on his ass. He’s been active in Ben’s schooling since the kid was in kindergarten, all the way up to his last prom. He’d chaperoned class trips and dances, he’d volunteered for fundraising, and coached little-league and even turned his hand, and feet, to soccer when Ben’s attention switched to that. On top of all that, he’d helped Lisa with the business. When she first started out, he did everything he could from modeling half-naked and sweaty for their advertising campaign to cleaning, answering phones, supervising contractors and woo-ing prospective clients and investors.

Dean has spent the past eighteen years doing all he could to ensure Lisa and Ben had every single thing they wanted and needed. Now, he’s left with a big empty space in his life that he doesn’t know how to fill.

Maybe if Sam and Eileen lived closer it wouldn’t be so bad. At least Cas has his family a few hours away. And he has his yoga classes. And his art. He’s intelligent and witty and seriously good-looking, albeit a little weird. He’s self-confident in a way that Dean just pretends to be. His divorce from Meg didn’t seem to faze him for more than a few weeks. In fact, Meg and Cas are back to being the best of friends. Dean only knows that Meg and Lisa have set a date for their wedding because Cas told him. Meg apparently asked him to be her best man.

Dean still can’t have a conversation with Lisa without drinking himself into a coma afterward.

Dean doesn’t even know how to go about finding a job. What he wants to do. He didn’t graduate college. He dropped out when he was twenty-one to look after Ben while Lisa worked insane hours. He hadn’t even been close to graduating. Fuck, he hadn’t even chosen his major. He’d not started college until he was nineteen, too worried about leaving Sam alone with their Dad to even contemplate accepting the baseball scholarship he’d been offered. It had taken his dad disappearing and Sam moving in with his then-girlfriend Jess and her very understanding parents for him to finally go. 

With Sam’s help, he’d secured a scholarship, and that along with waiting tables in a decent restaurant had seen him through the first six months of school. Then a modeling-agency spotter had noticed him and a trickle of modeling gigs had helped pay his way until he met Lisa, found out she was pregnant, married her, and dropped out of school to raise her kid. Their kid. 

Looking back, Dean wouldn’t change any of the decisions he made. Not the ones involving Ben at least. Dean’s done a lot of stupid shit in his life but being Ben’s dad and being around to bring him up was a goddamn privilege. 

Unfortunately, the bare facts are Ben doesn’t need him anymore. Lisa definitely doesn’t need him anymore. Sam hasn’t needed him for years. His future is a blank canvas that he has no idea how to fill. 

Well, he thinks, pushing himself up off his chair when the air turns too cool to sit outside comfortably and he’s in danger of still being around when Cas comes home with his date, he’s going to have to figure this shit out sooner or later, and not just because he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life being sexiled in his room while Cas gets lucky. 





CHAPTER FIVE 


Dean’s resolution to sort out his life gets off to a slow start. He browses college courses online which leaves him confused, overwhelmed, and with even less of a clue of what he wants to do now than he had when he was twenty. Next, he searches half-heartedly for jobs. He’s not surprised when it quickly becomes apparent he’s unqualified for anything he finds remotely interesting. If he needed the money he wouldn’t mind waiting tables again, but, he knows for a fact he wouldn’t be able to take half the shit from pissy customers that he used to. Not when he isn’t relying on decent tips to survive. 

He ends up spending a week fixing one of Cas’ senior citizens’ roof which leads to another few days spent painting walls and waxing floors. It might not be everyone’s idea of fun but it’s the most useful Dean’s felt in months. 

When he mentions this to Blanche, the jazzercise instructor who still calls him once a week, she tells Dean that she has a problem with her plumbing he can help her with. He’s not entirely sure if she’s flirting or serious. 

Cas suggests he try volunteering which isn’t a bad idea, but in the end, Dean doesn’t have time to look into it. His burst of productivity is unexpectedly cut short thanks to Sam and Eileen’s baby deciding to arrive early. Eileen’s due date was supposed to be the 30th of December which would have worked out fine. Dean was planning on heading to Sam’s on Christmas Eve and staying until New Years or until the baby put in an appearance. 

Dean’s blaming Sam entirely for the change of plans. No wonder Eileen went into labor three weeks early. Only another Sasquatch could possibly be expected to carry Sam’s baby to full term. He doesn’t blame Eileen’s lady parts for noping right out of that experience. 

As it is, baby Grace Winchester is born a very healthy seven pounds despite her premature appearance. Dean bites the bullet, doses himself up with Valium, and flies out to welcome his niece. Thankfully, she takes her pretty looks from her mom, although she has a head of crazy hair that only her dad can be responsible for. Dean is smitten as soon as he sees her. She’s as placid and perfect as any baby can possibly be. 

Dean barely manages to tear himself away from her to fly home again. It’s the closest he’s come to wondering if it wouldn’t be so bad to move across the country and make a fresh start. 

“You could always stay awhile longer,” Sam says, when he drops Dean off at the airport for his flight home. 

Honestly, Dean would love to. But, as much as Sam and Eileen deny it, he’s intruding. The first few weeks with a baby are a special time you never get back and though Dean would love to share it with his brother and sister-in-law, it’s not his place. 

“Send photos,” Dean orders, dragging Sam in for a quick hug. “Lots of photos. Every day.”

“Why don’t you stay until after Christmas at least?” Sam tries again.

Dean slaps Sam’s back as he pulls away. “Because you have enough to worry about without me getting in the way.”

“You aren’t in the way at all,” Sam says. “You stopped me from freaking out when Grace’s poo was green. You’ve changed as many diapers as I have, you taught me how to wind her properly. Maybe I want you here because I need you.”

Dean’s heart clenches. He almost caves and tosses his return ticket in the trash right then. Instead, he gives Sam a rueful grin. “You haven’t needed me for years, man. You and Eileen have got this, I promise.”

“What about Christmas?” Sam asks. “What are you going to do?”

Dean shrugs. “I’m gonna relax for once, Sammy. Chill out in front of the television and eat so much pie that I can’t move.”

Sam looks doubtful. “Dean,” he starts. 

Thankfully, before Sam has a chance to properly break out the puppy dog eyes, they announce Dean’s leaving gate has opened giving Dean a legitimate excuse to make a run for it. 

“Call me,” Sam says, wrapping his octopus arms around Dean for a last hug before he shoves him towards the security line. “And think about using that dating app I downloaded on your phone.”

Dean rolls his eyes, but refuses to get in another fight over a damn dating app he doesn’t want. 

Dean survives the return flight thanks to the blessing that is Valium. Unfortunately, this time the drugs take a few minutes longer than normal to kick in so he also downs two tiny bottles of whisky. Admittedly, that was not a stellar idea. 

He’s still asleep when the plane lands, and groggy as hell when the air steward shakes him awake, eyeing the drool escaping from his lips with distaste. Dean wipes his mouth on the shoulder of his flannel shirt, grabs his bag, and just about makes it off the plane with most of his dignity intact. Thankfully, he just has carry-on. He doesn’t think he’d be able to pick his suitcase out of a line-up right now. And, as he cares far too much about his Baby to leave her in an airport parking lot, he doesn’t have to worry about driving under the influence. All he has to do is jump in a cab. 

He dozes off and on until the cab draws up outside the beach house then he shoves what he hopes is the right amount of cash at the driver and drags his feet up the driveway. All he wants to do is dump his bag, and hit the hay. Maybe have a quick shower to wash off the airplane stench if he can stay upright long enough. 

Dean doesn’t even bother turning on the lights when he stumbles through the door, kicking off his shoes and dumping his bag in the hallway. He presumes that Cas is out on yet another date, or perhaps in his studio working on something, because the house is cast in darkness. 

It’s not until he pads past the living room that he realizes that Cas does indeed have a date, but he’s not out, he’s entertaining at home. On their sofa. 

And by entertaining Dean means fucking.

Dean should keep on walking. Dean should in fact run, not walk, straight up to his room and pretend he’d hadn’t seen Cas pounding someone’s ass over the arm of the sofa. 

Later, Dean will blame it on the Valium and scotch but honestly, it’s more his dick that’s at fault. 

The only light in the room is the glow from the muted television but it’s enough to highlight the muscles moving under Cas’ skin as his hips thrust forward. His fingers tangled in his partner’s hair yanking his head back, his other hand gripped around a narrow waist. Sweat drips from Cas’ face onto the pale skin below him.

Dean watches like a creeper, open-mouthed, and cock inappropriately hard. He can’t make out details, shouldn’t want to for fucks sake. But he can hear the guy underneath Cas moaning every time Cas slams into him. And then the dude starts up a running commentary like he’s starring in a porn flick.

“Yeah, Castiel, give it to me.”

“God, you’re so big.”

“Come on, daddy, fuck me hard.”

“Oh god, yeah, just like that.”

Dean’s dick should not approve of the cheesy dialogue. Definitely not of the daddy kink. He shouldn’t even still be standing there. This is a gross violation of Cas’ privacy. Dean should be ashamed of himself. He still doesn’t move. 

“Fuck, I’m gonna come. Touch me, Castiel. Please. Just… please, daddy.”

Dean can just make out Cas’ hand leaving the guy’s waist and reaching underneath him. Can see the motion of his arm as he jerks the dude off. Can imagine how it feels to have Cas’ strong artist fingers firmly gripping his dick. 

It takes all Dean’s willpower not to rub his crotch through his straining pants. Because watching this is bad enough. Watching while touching himself is too far even for Dean’s shady morals. 

“God. Fuck. Yeah.”

The guy is almost shouting now as he comes apart under Cas. 

Cas releases his hold on his partner’s hair, dropping his hand to slap it against the guy’s ass cheek, at the same time as pounding into him hard enough to scrape the sofa across the floor. At any other time Dean would be worried about the hard-wood flooring. He’s so entranced by the sight of Cas rutting into his partner like a goddamn animal, that it doesn’t even occur to him.

“Are you going to come for me, sweetheart? Going to come like the naughty little slut you are?”

And Jesus Christ, Cas sounds like he’s been gargling with rocks, his voice is so fucking deep and rough. Nothing like his usual soft-toned lilt. 

“Yeah, daddy,” the guy says. “Gonna… gonna come.”

“Do it,” Cas growls, slamming in hard and slapping at the guy’s ass again. “Come for me, baby.”

Dean doesn’t know if he makes a noise, or moves, or if Cas just senses something isn’t right, but just as the guy he’s fucking lets out the weirdest high pitched scream as he comes, Cas turns his head and meets Dean’s stare head on. A second later his eyes screw shut, his body stills and Dean knows he’s coming.

Two things happen simultaneously.

Dean feels more shame than he has ever felt in his life and he comes in his pants like a teenager watching his very first porn movie. 

Then he flees. 

His knees are still trembling when he collapses onto his bed a few minutes later. Kicking off his pants, he wipes his sticky shamed dick with his boxers before pulling his sheet on top of him, rolling over, and falling asleep with his beet-red face buried in his pillow. He half hopes he’ll smother himself so he doesn’t have to face Cas in the morning. 

He doesn’t.

He does wake up grinding into the mattress, his dick already awake and horny thanks to the very pleasant dream he was having of Cas holding him down and fucking him over the back of the sofa. Dean comes quickly, with a shuddering groan, before his brain can remind his dick of how fucked up it is. 

He rolls over, breathing hard and wincing at the sticky mess of his sheet, to find Cas standing open-mouthed at the bottom of his bed with a mug of coffee in hand.

Cas closes his mouth. Then licks his lips. Then eventually says, “ah, it’s lunchtime. I did knock but you didn’t answer. I was just coming to wake you. But you, well… you were already coming.”

Dean throws his arm over his face and prays for a speedy death. 

“Well,” Cas says, clearing his throat. “I guess this at least makes us square.”

He sets the coffee down on Dean’s bedside table before he leaves, shutting the door loudly so Dean knows he’s gone.

The rest of the day is… awkward.

Cas and Dean avoid each other with the skill of two hide-and-seek grandmasters. Dean catches up on the chores Cas “forgot” to do while he was away, like emptying the trash and cleaning the refrigerator, while Cas stays shut away in his art studio. At one point, when Dean spies Cas heading his way, he ducks outside to go for a walk along the beach. By the time he comes back, Cas has disappeared again. Dean quickly cleans the floors then retreats upstairs before Cas’ hunger pangs drive him back into the main house. 

They would probably go on dodging each other for longer but Sam keeps sending Dean photos of Grace being adorable and Dean really needs to show them to someone who’ll appreciate them. He tries sending a couple of pictures to Ben, but the kid is plainly less than impressed by his baby cousin. 

And anyway, Dean knows he has to put on his big boy pants sooner or later so he figures he might as well get it over with. 

“Hey,” Dean says, peeking into the kitchen and finding Cas hunting through the refrigerator for something Dean probably threw out.

“Hey,” Cas says absently, pulling out a block of butter and glaring at it. “Any idea where the last of my Rochefort disappeared to?”

“Um,” Dean says. “No?”

Cas focuses his glare on Dean. “Did you toss it again?”

“Um?”

“Dean!”

“It had mold.”

“It’s blue cheese. It is mold!”

“Sorry,” Dean says.

“You will be,” Cas snaps back.

And that’s just too good an opportunity to ignore. It’s probably not the best idea but Dean can’t help himself. “Ooh, do you want to spank me… daddy ?”

Cas’ glare intensifies. His left eye twitches.

Dean coughs and fidgets with the collar of his tee-shirt. “Too soon?”

Dean thinks perhaps he sees a smile tugging at Cas’ lips. 

“Don’t even pretend you didn’t get off on it, you pervert.”

Well, Dean can’t argue with that. He can feel his face flush even though he’s the one who started joking about it. “Okay, okay, can we just agree never to talk about it again? Any of it!”

“I think that would be for the best,” Cas agrees.

“And maybe not deface the sofa again?” Dean says. “You did clean it, right?”

“Of course,” Cas informs him, looking decidedly shifty in Dean’s option. “I do apologize for screwing around in the living room, but in my defense, I thought you were going to be gone for longer. Aren’t you spending Christmas with your brother?”

“Nah,” Dean says. “They don’t need me hanging around for that long. You want to see some photos? I know I’m biased but the kid is pretty damn cute. Thank god she takes after Eileen.”

Cas patiently lets Dean show him photo after photo of his niece, oohing and aahing often enough to appease him, then he persuades Dean to make him a mushroom omelet to make up for throwing out his smelly cheese. 

“So,” Dean says, eating his own eggs. “The guy last night?”

“Alfie,” Cas supplies.

“Right, Alfie. Are you and he… serious?”

Cas snorts. “He’s twenty-three-years old, Dean. No. It was just a hookup.”

“Oh,” Dean says, playing with his eggs. “Cool. Good for you, I guess. And him. He seemed like a nice kid.”

Cas full-on laughs at him, head thrown back and shoulders shaking. “He is. But I’m not sure how you can make that judgment from what little you saw of him.”

“Well, he did say please.” Dean grins back. 

“I thought we were dropping this subject?” Cas says, shaking his head but looking at Dean fondly.

Dean nods and takes his and Cas’ plates away to rinse before he loads them in the dishwasher. “Sure. Yes. We absolutely are dropping the subject. So, you want to watch a crappy movie with me?”

They watch a movie, eat popcorn, and share a bottle of wine between them. Dean refuses to sit on the sofa, but they don’t mention Alfie or anything about the incident again. 

That doesn’t mean that Dean doesn’t spend a great deal of time thinking about it. 

There are no two ways about it… Cas is hot. Dean always knew this objectively. It’s impossible to miss. And of course, he’s seen Cas half-naked and actually naked enough times over the past few months to confirm that the guy is as toned and fit as Dean always suspected. And packing a particularly impressive package too. Up until now, Dean has always been too focused on the fact that Cas is an annoying asshole to let his toned abs, ridiculously blue eyes, and sex-hair affect him. Or so he tells himself. 

But, the more Dean gets to know Cas, the more he digs down beneath the flaky pot-smoking, arty, exterior, the more Dean finds himself appreciating what a genuinely good guy Cas actually is. Spunk stains on the sofa notwithstanding. 

And after last night, finding out what a toppy bastard Cas is, well, Dean can safely say his spank bank has taken on a whole new deposit. 

But, dating Cas, fucking Cas, would definitely be a tick in the bad idea column. For a start, Cas is seemingly trying to catch up on all the casual sex he wasn’t having while he was married. That really isn’t Dean’s style. Dean also doubts that he’s even Cas’ type. He’s definitely not as bendy as most of the people Cas brings home, or as young. And he’s got a hell of a lot more baggage. 

Then there’s the fact that they’re only just getting to grips with living with each other. Adding sex into the mix would be a recipe for disaster. 

Rather than brooding about any feelings he may or may not have towards Cas, Dean does what any normal man would do and pretends they don't exist… apart from late at night when he’s jerking off before he goes to sleep. Instead, he focuses on trying to lose the love handles he’s convinced he’s developing. Thanksgiving didn’t help. He made two pies like he usually does but this year he ate them both himself. Spending Christmas alone too is bound to end up with him comfort-eating his way through a 16” pizza and several family-sized tubs of ice-cream before Boxing Day. If he hits the gym a few times beforehand he’ll not feel quite so guilty. 

 

“You doing okay there?”

Dean takes a gulp of air and straightens up from where he’s bent over with his hands on his knees.

“Fine,” he wheezes, though it’s obvious he’s not. He’s seen the color of his face in one of the many mirrors and it’s more an exploding tomato shade of red than a healthy flush of exertion. 

“You’re hitting it hard this week,” Benny notes. “Hope you’re remembering to warm up and stretch out too. Don’t want those muscles tearing.”

Dean grabs his towel and pats the sweat from his face, and his throat, and the back of his neck. His tee-shirt is clinging to his chest, his shorts are sticking to his thighs, and his balls… well, the less said about ball sweat the better. “Yeah, I’m being careful,” he says. “Know I’m not as young as I used to be.”

“None of us are, brother,” Benny chuckles. “But you look damn sharp if you don’t mind my saying. You obviously take good care of yourself.”

“Well, y’know, I try,” Dean says, thinking about the burger and fries he ate the night before. And the two bottles of beer he drank. And the packet of cookies he shared with Cas. God, if Lisa could see the carbs he was consuming these days she’d probably faint. Not that she cares if Dean puts on weight now. 

“So,” Benny says. “You have much planned for the holiday season?”

“Not really,” Dean admits. “My kid’s at school in England and he’s going ski-ing with his friends over the holidays. To be honest, I don’t think he’s ready to come back home and talk to his Mom in person yet. My brother and his wife live over in Austin; they’re pretty tied up with their new baby. My ex-wife will be spending Christmas with her fiancée and all our friends, so it’s just gonna be me, Die Hard, and a whole lot of junk food.”

Wow, Dean, a simple “not much” probably would have sufficed.

Benny doesn’t seem to mind his oversharing though. He just smiles at Dean like he’s kind of cute. Or maybe kind of simple.

“Now you know Die Hard ain’t a Christmas movie, brother.”

That’s fighting talk in Dean’s book. He narrows his eyes. “You watch your mouth.” 

“What you want to be watching is Gremlins. Now that’s a Christmas classic.”

Dean laughs. “Well, I’ve got to admit, it beats It's a Wonderful Life.”

Benny grins at him in agreement. “You know a few of us get together on Christmas Eve for drinks and dinner at a local bar. Gordon, Carmen, some of the regulars from here here at the gym. It’s nothing fancy but we have a good time. It would be great if you came along?”

Taken by surprise, Dean hesitates a bit too long before answering and ends up sounding like a dumbass. “That’s kind of you, Benny, but I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“You wouldn’t be intruding,” Benny insists. “I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want you to come. Why don’t you think about it at least? How about you give me your number and I’ll send you the details. The time and place.”

Dean can’t think of one good reason why not.

Benny winks at Dean as he walks away, phone numbers exchanged. “Don’t forget to stretch out those glutes,” he calls back over his shoulder, “wouldn’t want you to strain anything, would we, chere?”

Dean may not always be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he thinks Benny might have been flirting with him. And, to be honest, it feels pretty damn good. 

When Dean gets home from the gym, muscles aching but ego boosted, Cas is sacked out on the sofa watching It’s a Wonderful Life and looking thoroughly miserable. More miserable than even it’s a Wonderful Life usually warrants. 

“Hey dude,” Dean says, dropping down on the other side of the sofa. “What’s up with the mopey face?”

“This movie,” Cas says.

“Yeah, this crap ain’t exactly a feel-good flick. Maybe you should put on Home Alone instead. It’s always fun watching bad guys getting their faces smashed in.”

Cas shoots him a dirty look that Dean doesn’t think he deserves. “This is one of Meg’s favorite movies.”

Dean reaches over and gives Cas a pat on his knee in dumped-husband solidarity. Apparently, Cas isn’t entirely over losing Meg after all. “All the more reason to switch it off, Cas. Christmas is depressing enough.”

“She called me Clarence,” Cas says, ignoring Dean’s sage advice. “When we first met. Didn’t explain why. Not until later when we watched the movie together.”

“She thought you were an angel?”

“I was named after an angel,” Cas explains. “My parents were very religious. Meg was amused by it. I think she enjoyed the thought of corrupting an angel.”

“Well, got to hand it to her,” Dean says. “She did a good job. You’re probably the most deviant person I know.”

If Dean didn’t know better he’d call the expression on Cas’ face a pout. It’s impossible not to find it adorable. 

“It’s a compliment, Cas,” Dean says, trying not to laugh. “I swear.”

Cas doesn’t look appeased. “Just because I don’t always conform to society’s norms does not make me a deviant.”

“No.” Dean tilts his head in agreement. “But smoking weed out on the deck, wearing only a sun hat and flip flops while watching porn on your IPad does.”

Cas throws a sofa cushion at Dean’s face. “It was not porn. It was a documentary about the breeding habits of bees.”

“My point stands,” Dean says, catching the next cushion before it smacks him in the nose. “Hey, maybe you should watch some of your bee porn rather than this shit.”

“Hmm,” Cas says, hand curling possessively around the television remote. 

“Or,” Dean says. “I could order us a pizza, grab a couple of beers, and we could watch the Christmas episodes of Doctor Sexy on Netflix.”

Cas gives him a withering glare. “You’re trying to cheer me up with your favorite food and show? I don’t think that’s how this is supposed to work.”

“Don’t even pretend you don’t love Doctor Sexy, Cas.”

“I think you’re mistaking me for you. You have an unhealthy obsession.”

“Cowboy boots, Cas.” Dean grins. “That’s all I’m saying.”

“I want pineapple.”

“No problem, I’ll buy you one at the store tomorrow.”

“Don’t be facetious. On the pizza.”

“Over my dead body,” Dean shoots back, already scrolling through his phone for the contact details of the pizza place they normally use. 

“Do not tempt me,” Cas says. 

In the end, Dean orders two pizzas, one covered in as much meat as possible and one with pineapple even though he feels dirty ordering it, and he can feel the judgment from the other side of the line. They watch three Doctor Sexy Christmas specials and then a two hour documentary about bees. Cas drinks three beers, lectures Dean on the importance of biodiversity, and doesn’t mention Meg again. Dean considers the relaxed slant to his shoulders and soft smile on his face just about worth the humiliation of ordering a pineapple pizza. 




CHAPTER SIX


Dean knows this thing with Benny on Christmas Eve isn’t a date. It’s a bunch of friends meeting up to have a few drinks, eat junk food, and relax. That doesn’t stop the butterflies from fluttering nervously around his stomach when Benny texts him the time and place, “hope to see you there” and a smiley face. 

Despite his protestations to the contrary, he hasn’t socialized much, or at all, since Lisa kicked his ass to the curb. Unless you count his phone calls with Blanche, or their neighbors plying him with sweet tea and lemonade when he calls round to fix the latest thing they’ve broken. 

Although he's nervous about his not-date with Benny he’s looking forward to it. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to be able to tell Sammy he’s gotten out of the house the next time he nags Dean about getting a life. 

The morning of Christmas Eve, well, closer to noon to be honest, when Dean jogs down the stairs, he’s surprised to find Cas sitting at the kitchen island. He’s not so surprised to see him eating tater tots. For a supposedly healthy-eating yoga freak, he does have an obsession with them. 

“Dude,” Dean says. “What are you doing here?” 

Cas looks down at his plate and then back up at Dean. “Eating lunch?”

Dean would argue that microwaved frozen tater tots do not constitute lunch, but he’s about to have a cold slice of leftover pizza for breakfast so he hasn’t got much room to mock. 

“Aren’t you supposed to be on your way to your mom’s right about now?” Dean asks, pouring himself some coffee which Cas has thankfully left in the pot. 

“Um… no?” Cas says, licking the grease off his fingers. 

“You heading off later?”

Cas stands up, and dumps his plate next to the kitchen sink. Not in the kitchen sink. Not in the dishwasher. Right next to the kitchen sink. “No,” Cas says. “I decided to give the family Christmas thing a miss. I’m not exactly full of the Holiday cheer this year.”

Dean knows that feeling. He’s planning on sleeping away most of the day, and drinking for the rest of it.

But Cas has a family he can visit. It doesn’t seem right, him hanging around here when he could at least be surrounded by people who love him. 

“You sure, Cas?” Dean says. “I’m sure you’d feel better with your family around you.”

Cas snorts. “That’s because you’ve never met most of them.”

“Won’t your mom be disappointed?”

“She’ll get over it,” Cas assures Dean, slapping him on the shoulder before he walks away. Leaving his plate beside the sink. 

Dean absentmindedly rinses it and loads it into the dishwasher. He feels bad for Cas. Christmas is going to suck this year, there’s no question about it. It’s the first year without their wives. Without their kids. Without the family traditions they’ve built up over the past eighteen years. Dean was planning on ignoring the whole festive season, to be honest. He doesn’t want to think about how many Christmases he spent with Lisa not knowing she was cheating on him. 

If he looks back and thinks about all the times she was working late with Meg, or pulled out of plans because of an emergency only she and Meg could deal with together, or didn’t have the time to take vacation days to do festive stuff… well, he’ll drive himself mad. 

The thing is, even though this Christmas is going to suck balls, Dean can always tell himself he’s had much worse. He’s still got a kid out there who’s fast becoming a man, a good man, who’s happy and healthy and confident, and who loves Dean. Sam’s got an adorable family of his own and a rosy future. Dean might not be with them, but he can take comfort in knowing his family is happy. And hell, so what if he’s alone, he has food in the refrigerator, clothes on his back, the impala in the driveway, and a pretty nice roof over his head.

Dean has had far worse Christmases.

He doesn’t know about Cas though. By all accounts, the dude went from having a large, maybe slightly insane, family around him to having Meg and then Meg and Claire. He’s probably never spent a Christmas without family by his side. That’s not a bad thing. Dean doesn’t think this year should be the first he tries to go it alone. The guy was depressed enough watching a crappy Christmas movie on his own. 

Cas still has time to drive to his mom’s for the holidays. Dean decides to make it his mission to persuade him to do just that. 

Unfortunately, Cas is as stubborn as a mule. All Dean’s attempts to persuade him to head home achieve is Cas throwing a bag of chips at his head and retreating to his studio. 

By the time Cas ventures back inside to make himself a cup of weird tea, probably assuming Dean is safely out of the way, Dean is still stubbornly sitting on the sofa.

“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your date?” Cas asks, stopping to glare at him. 

Dean shrugs. “It’s not a date and I’m not leaving you here all alone on Christmas Eve.”

“I’ll be fine, Dean,” Cas insists. “As I’ve told you at least a dozen times today, I want to be alone.”

“So you can brood?”

“I, unlike you, Dean Winchester, do not brood.”

Dean scoffs. Cas glares… broodingly.

“Still not leaving you on your own,” Dean says, undeterred. He wriggles back making himself more comfortable amongst the sofa cushions. “So if you’re gonna hang around here not-brooding into your disgusting herbal tea, I guess I’m joining you.”

Cas let’s out a frustrated groan. “Is this some misguided attempt to blackmail me?”

“Nope,” Dean says, in a tone of voice which implies the opposite. 

With a huff of annoyance, Cas walks over and plops down onto the couch by Dean’s side. “You are an irrational idiot. This is your first date since Lisa. The first time you’ve been at all sociable in months. You need to go, Dean.”

“It’s not a date,” Dean stresses. “It’s a bunch of people getting together for a few drinks. That’s all. Hey, you should come with me.”

“What?”

“Yeah,” Dean says, nodding enthusiastically now that the idea has taken root. “You should come along.”

“I am not gatecrashing your date.”

“It’s not a date, and I’m not leaving you alone to cry like a sad old loser at Christmas movies, so either you drive home to your Mom’s and spend tomorrow with a family who cares about you, or you come out with me tonight and get so drunk we aren’t even conscious for most of tomorrow.”

There’s silence for a moment before Cas throws up his hands. “Fine.”

“Fine?” Dean asks, watching Cas stand up.

“Fine,” Cas repeats dryly, holding his hand out to Dean and yanking him up from the sofa. “I’ll go with you. I’m sure your friend Benny will be absolutely thrilled to have me tag along.”

“I’m sure he will,” Dean replies, smiling smugly and ignoring the sarcasm in Cas’ voice. 



“And this is Cas, my… um…”

Dean hadn't given any thought on how he would introduce Cas to Benny which in retrospect was a mistake. Roomie sounds a bit too frat boy for a forty-year-old and he’s not quite sure that friend covers it. 

“We live together,” Cas says, holding his hand out and finishing the introduction himself.

Benny covers up his surprise with admirable speed but there’s no mistaking the widening of his eyes as he looks between Cas and Dean.

“Oh,” he says. “So, you two are…?”

“Housemates,” Dean fills in quickly. “It’s kind of complicated.”

“It’s not that complicated, Dean. Our ex-wives are engaged to be married to each other.”

Dean can tell the asshole is enjoying himself.

“Oh,” Benny says again, scratching at his beard, and looking supremely uncomfortable. 

“And after numerous attempts to provoke each other into moving out of our jointly owned beach house failed, we decided peaceful cohabitation was our best option for now,” Cas continues. 

“That sounds… mature?” Benny says, obviously struggling with Cas’ deadpan forthrightness.

Cas laughs. “Trust me there is very little that is mature about either of us. I eat tater-tots for breakfast and Dean has a crush on Doctor Sexy.”

Dean decides that it’s time to step in before Cas’ big mouth runs away with him altogether and divulges any more of Dean’s secrets. “Anyway,” he says, discreetly elbowing Cas in the ribs. “I hope you don’t mind me bringing Cas. His plans changed and I didn’t want to leave him alone in the house on Christmas Eve.”

“You make me sound like your pet dog,” Cas mumbles.

Benny’s smile unfreezes, melting into one less shell shocked and more genuine. “Of course not, brother. The more the merrier. Come on and let me introduce you to the group.”

Benny slings his arm around Dean’s shoulders and steers him towards a couple of tables that have been pushed together in the corner of the bar. There are a dozen or so people hanging around, definitely too many for Dean to remember all their names after Benny introduces them. He does recognize a few faces; Gordon, Benny’s partner at the gym, Carmen and Stevie, two of the trainers, and a couple of people he’s seen working out regularly. Thankfully they seem like a friendly bunch, helped no-doubt by the fact they’re already a few drinks down and enthusiastically tucking into dishes of chicken wings and nachos. 

Dean’s never been comfortable in large groups of people, especially large groups of people he doesn’t know well, but over the years he’s become adept at faking it. A couple of drinks helps soothe the worst of his anxiety. Watching Cas drop seamlessly into conversation with Benny’s friends helps too.  

Considering how awkward Cas can be at times, he actually does the whole socializing thing far better than Dean. Possibly because he just doesn’t give a crap what people think of him. Dean wishes he had the same confidence. 

This group seems like a decent bunch of people: friendly and high-spirited. Dean sits back and watches them tease and trash-talk each other, and he laughs along at their god-awful jokes. Benny, all laid-back charm and easy smiles, spends as much time as Carmen does flirting good-naturedly with Dean. Most of Carmen’s flirting is done while she’s sitting on Benny’s lap, her arm slung around his neck with a proprietary casualness that makes Dean as curious as he is confused. 

Announcing that she has to go to the lady’s room, she drops a kiss to the corner of Benny’s mouth, trails her fingers across Dean’s cheek, and ruffles his hair on her way past. Benny licks his lips and stares blatantly at her ass as she walks away.

“So, are you and Carmen...” Dean trails off. 

“Yeah, you could say.” Benny chuckles warmly. “Been together for a year or so now, but I guess what we have going on ain’t exactly conventional. We like to have ourselves some fun.”

“I see,” Dean says, although he’s not sure he does. 

“She thinks you're hot,” Benny says, smirking when Dean almost chokes on a mouthful of beer. “So do I,” he adds, with a lecherous wink that turns Dean’s face beet-red.

“I… uh… thank you?”

Benny laughs, leaning over so his mouth is just inches from Dean’s ear. “We were hoping you might want to come back and celebrate Christmas with us.”

Dean almost swallows his tongue when Benny’s hand comes up to rest on the back of his neck. “She told me all she wants for Christmas is to ride you hard, Dean,” Benny says, his southern drawl dripping sugar-sweet down Dean’s spine. “And I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought about licking your cute ass open and fucking you sloppy. You’d be the best Christmas gift I’d had in years.”

Dean gulps, and crosses his legs in an effort to hide how instantly enthusiastic his dick is at the idea. 

Benny squeezes Dean’s neck. “I’m gonna get us all another drink,” he says. “You think about it, brother. No pressure. No harm no foul if you say no. But I sure hope you say yes. I’ve been dreaming about those goddamn illegal lips of yours since the first day I saw you walk into my gym.”

Dean stares after Benny as he leaves, turning back and winking at Dean as he heads towards the bar. An indecent proposal isn't quite what Dean was expecting tonight. But he can’t say the idea of a threesome with Benny and Carmen isn’t fucking hot. 

He’s so caught in the thought that he literally jumps when Gordon drops down in the chair Benny just vacated. 

“Having fun?” He asks with a quirk of his eyebrow that suggests he knows at least a little of what’s going on.

Dean shifts uncomfortably in his seat and takes a sip from the nearly empty beer bottle he’s holding. “Yeah,” he eventually manages to say. “Yeah, I… y’all are a welcoming bunch.”

Gordon snorts and gives Dean an appraising once over. “Some of us are more welcoming than others. Benny and Carmen certainly do like to make new friends. Especially pretty ones.”

Dean picks at the edge of the label on his beer bottle with his nail, not quite able to meet Gordon’s eyes. 

“They’re good people though,” he adds when it’s clear Dean’s not going to comment. “Carmen helped Benny through his shit-show of a divorce. His ex Andrea screwed him over good. Took his house, half his cash, even his damn dog. Benny tells me you’re recently divorced too?”

“Yeah,” Dean says, looking up. Gordon’s smile isn’t nearly as friendly as Benny’s was.

“Your bitch of an ex fuck you over too? That why you’re rooming with that weirdo?” Gordon nods his head towards where Cas is sitting cross-legged on his chair drinking something bright blue with two umbrellas sticking out of it and laughing as a guy —young, lithe, and definitely Cas’ type— plops a Santa hat on his head, tugging it down over Cas’ unruly hair so it covers his ears.

“Cas isn’t a weirdo,” Dean says sharply, turning his attention back to Gordon. “He’s my friend. And my ex isn’t a bitch. We just… don’t want the same things anymore.”

Which is true. Lisa wants Meg and Dean wants… well, he’s not entirely sure he’s ready to admit what he wants just yet, but he sure as hell isn’t going to listen to anyone badmouth Cas. 

Gordon holds his hands up. “Hey, man. No offense intended. I guess not every woman is a gold-digging bitch like Andrea was. We damn near lost the business because of her.”

“Yeah? Well, Lisa has her own business and her own money,” Dean says, offended on her behalf. “She worked hard for what she has.”

Gordon laughs, a razor-sharp glint in his eye. “Does that make you the gold-digging bitch in the relationship then?” 

Dean’s spine stiffens. That jab hit a sensitive nerve. It’s probably just as well Gordon waves off his comment before Dean can bite back. “Sorry, man, I’m just joking with you.”

“You’re a funny guy,” Dean says tightly.

Gordon’s smile is as friendly as a shark’s. “So I’ve been told.”

“You boys behaving?” Carmen says, wandering back over and stealing Gordon’s drink from his hand. 

“Sure we are.” Gordon says. “Dean was just telling me about his ex-wife.”

“Lisa?” Carmen says. “I’ve met her a few times. You know her Gordo. She and Meg own Demon Burn Gyms.”

“That Lisa? She’s your ex-wife?” Gordon says, shaking his head. “Hell, boy, you were shooting way out of your league.”

“Looks like,” Dean concedes, forcing a smile. 

Carmen smacks Gordon’s shoulder. “Definitely not. Don’t listen to this ass, Dean.” 

Gordon’s undeterred. Obviously amused, his smirk is back stronger than ever. “So, Dean, what did you do while your wife was busy building her business empire? Stay home with the kids? Change diapers and braid hair? Were you a soccer mom?” He’s laughing outright now, even though he’s the only one who thinks it’s funny. “Did you spend your time doing laundry and visiting the beauty salon to keep yourself pretty?”

This time when Carmen smacks Gordon there’s more force behind it. But before either she or Dean can take him to task another voice joins in the conversation. 

“While there would be absolutely nothing wrong with Dean visiting a beauty salon, I can assure you that he needs no help to look good. As unbelievable as I’m sure you’ll find it, he really is naturally this pretty.”

Dean and Gordon both look up to see Cas standing over them. Outwardly, he looks just as calm as he always does, but Dean knows Cas well enough by now to see the tension in his jaw and the bright flare of anger in his eyes. 

“And,” Cas continues. “As I’m sure many people, including a reasonable percentage of your fee-paying clients would tell you, being a homemaker and raising children is an incredibly important and vastly underrated job.”

Cas being pissed shouldn’t make Dean smile, but his clipped words and stormy expression are so at odds with the Santa hat perched on his head that all Dean can think is how damn adorable he looks. 

Before Gordon can reply, or Cas can start on the lecture about toxic masculinity, Dean suspects he’s gearing up for, Benny returns with a tray full of shots and bottles of beer. “Everyone having fun?” he asks looking around.

Dean presumes he’s being sarcastic. Even someone as socially inept as Dean can tell that the atmosphere is tense enough to cut with a blunt knife. Most of the people close by are staring in their direction after Cas’ outburst.

“Shots!” Carmen exclaims, clapping her hands, obviously relieved at the interruption. 

The appliance of alcohol eases the tension somewhat. Especially once Gordon excuses himself and heads off towards the bar, his expression stormy.

Dean and Cas edge a little away from the group. Dean can feel Benny’s eyes on them, but he’s more worried about the hangdog expression on Cas’ face. “I’m sorry,” he says to Dean. “I shouldn’t have caused a scene.”

“You didn’t,” Dean says. “Gordon’s a dick.”

“Still,” Cas says, “I embarrassed you in front of your friends.”

“Well, calling me pretty was kind of embarrassing,” Dean laughs.

“But true,” Cas insists. 

Dean doesn’t quite know what to say to that.

“I should go home.”

“No,” Dean says, reaching out to grab Cas’ arm. “No, if you go I go.”

Cas squints at him. “This is the second time you’ve tried to emotionally blackmail today.”

“What can I say… it worked the first time around. And don’t tell me you weren’t having fun.” Grinning, Dean reaches up and flicks the pompom at the end of the Santa hat. “You’re probably halfway to getting laid already.”

Cas can’t hide his smile. “Perhaps.”

Dean smacks Cas’ shoulder, and hopes that Cas doesn’t notice his answering smile is forced. There’s absolutely no reason for the stab of jealousy he feels at the thought of Cas hooking up with anyone. Hell, he’s on to a sure thing himself with Benny and Carmen. 

Still, when Cas is swallowed up by the group again, Dean can’t help but glare at the sounds of flirty giggling that seem to surround him. He ends up excusing himself when a woman sits on Cas’ lap and wraps her arms around his neck. Cas is laughing, pink cheeked, and Dean can already tell the woman is about to kiss him. He escapes quietly, beelines for the men’s room where he splashes cold water on his face and glares at his reflection in the mirror. Rather than going straight back to their table, he detours outside for some fresh air. 

He thinks about bumming a cigarette from one of the smokers hanging around by the door just so he has something to concentrate on other than the thought of Cas hooking up with someone not him. In the end, common sense wins out. He hasn’t smoked since he was a teenager. Now, probably isn’t the best time to restart. His love of pie, booze, and bacon already makes him a prime-coronary candidate without adding nicotine to the mix. Instead, he shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans, leans back against the wall, and takes a few deep breaths. 

He only stays there for a couple of minutes, just long enough to remind himself that Cas is his best friend, not his boyfriend. And that it’s better all round if that fact remains unchanged.

He’s heading back inside when Benny wanders out the door, eyes lighting up when he spots Dean. “We were wondering where you disappeared to.”

“Just grabbing some fresh air.”

“I hope Gordon didn’t upset you earlier, brother. I know he can be a bit of an ass when he’s had a drink.”

Dean shrugs his shoulders. To be honest, he’s already forgotten about Gordon. “Nothing I ain’t heard before.”

“Your friend looked like he was ready to punch him out.”

“Cas?” Dean says in surprise. “Nah, Cas wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Benny doesn’t look convinced. “You and Cas, you’re really just friends, huh?”

Dean swallows before he replies. “Yeah,” he says, and then repeats more firmly. “Yeah, we are. He’s been there for me, y’know, over the last few months, when people I thought were my friends just upped and disappeared. I mean, sure, I’ve wanted to strangle him more times than I can count, but now, well, like it or not, I’m pretty sure he’s my best friend.”

“And nothing more?” 

“Nah,” Dean says, peering out over the parking lot rather than meeting Benny’s eye. “I’m not Cas’ type.”

“And Cas? Is he your type?”

Dean chews on his bottom lip, watching a street light flicker. 

“You know, brother,” Benny says, after a second. “You could just tell him.”

Dean should tell Benny that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He should tell him, he’s got it all wrong. But even he knows it’s bullshit. Doesn’t mean it’s still not a freaking awful idea though. 

“Or,” Dean says instead. “We could forget about Cas tonight and I could go home with you and Carmen instead?”

While Benny’s answering smile is warm, it’s also skeptical. “You sure that’s a good idea?”

“Have you seen you and Carmen? Damn right it’s a good idea. Probably the best I’ve had in a long time.”

Benny takes a step towards Dean, close enough that Dean can smell the sweet spice of his aftershave and the bitter beer on his breath. “If you’re sure?” Benny drawls, voice low enough to make Dean shiver. “Nothing I’d like better than to take you back home and play awhile. I’d make you feel so good, Dean, promise you that.”

And then Benny’s mouth is on his and Dean shouldn't be surprised but he is. It’s been so long since he’s been kissed, even longer since he’s been kissed like this, with passion and want, with hunger, that Dean lets himself sink into the heat of it. 

“Jesus,” he says, breathless, when Benny pulls away. 

“Okay?” Benny asks, running his thumb along the curve of Dean’s bottom lip.

“Yeah,” Dean says, although he feels dazed. And maybe a little weird. No, not weird. Guilty. Like he shouldn’t be standing here letting Benny kiss him. Like he shouldn’t even be contemplating the idea of going back to Benny’s house.

Benny must see something change in his face because he backs off, just a step, but enough room for Dean to take a breath, get his racing heart under control.

“You want to join the others inside?” Benny asks. Dean’s not sure whether there’s more to the question. But he takes Benny's words at face-value because that’s the easiest thing to do.

“Yeah,” he says. “Carmen’s in there, right?”  

And Cas. Dean’s gonna need to tell Cas he has plans. But it’s not like Cas is gonna care. He’s probably gonna take that chick home and bang her on the damn sofa, or maybe the kid with the sun-bleached hair and daddy issues written all over his hero-worshipping gaze.

Cas doesn’t need Dean. Doesn’t want Dean like Dean wants him. 

That’s okay. 

The oppressive heat hits Dean when they walk back inside. And the noise. Christmas pop music is blaring from the jukebox and there’s a crowd of folk on the dance floor. 

Cas is one of them. Daddy-issues twink wrapped around him tighter than the tinsel now looped around Cas’ neck.

Benny seems to notice Cas at the same time Dean does. His hand coming up to squeeze Dean’s shoulder. “What’re you thinking, brother?” 

“I’m thinking the sooner we get back to yours, the sooner we can get this party started,” Dean says. 

“You gonna say your goodbyes?”

“Nah,” Dean says, watching Cas’ new friend turn around and grind his ass back against Cas’ crotch. Cas’ hands are settled on the guy’s slender waist and it almost looks like they’re about to start fucking right there on the dance floor. Dean isn’t jealous. Apart from how he totally is.

Benny pats his back. “I’m gonna go grab Carmen and say goodbye to everyone. You should at least let your friend know you’re leaving.”

He should.

So he does. He texts. Like the coward he is. Tells Cas he’s leaving. The house is his for the night. The coast is clear to bang whoever he wants on the living room sofa. He thinks, once he’s sent it, that it might sound a touch on the bitter side. Hopefully, Cas just thinks it’s because Dean’s fed up with finding suspicious stains on the furniture.

Rather than standing like a creeper at the edge of the dance floor, Dean beats a hasty retreat to the bar, hops up on the lone free stool, and orders himself a double shot of whisky. For luck or Dutch courage. He downs it in one long swallow. It doesn’t help settle the rolling waves of wrongness in his belly at all. Neither does the realization that he’s sitting beside Gordon who’s silently staring daggers at the side of his head. 

Unfortunately, Gordon isn’t silent for long. It quickly becomes apparent that Gordon has drunk most of the bottle of Jim Beam that’s sitting on the bar in front of him. Dean’s unsurprised to discover that a wasted Gordon is even less pleasant than normal Gordon.

“Well, look who it is… little miss homemaker. Where did your freaky friend go?”

Dean sighs. He’s not in the mood for this shit.

“What is your problem, Gordon? You don’t even know me.”

“What are you doing here?” Gordon twists around on his stool to glare more effectively at Dean. 

“Benny invited me.” Dean keeps his voice level. He doesn’t want to start a fight and he has a bad feeling that’s precisely what Gordon is angling for.

“Benny,” Gordon scoffs. “Thinking with his damn dick. S’not okay to hit on gym members, he’s the one told me that.”

“Look, man,” Dean says. “I think maybe you’ve had enough to drink. Why don’t we call you a cab.”

“Fuck you,” Gordon snarls, poking Dean hard in the chest. “Don't need a pansy like you telling me what to do.”

Dean inhales, exhales, and counts to three slowly. Despite the prospect of a really hot threesome, he’s seriously regretting coming here tonight. So much for getting out there and having some fun. He’d rather be sitting in front of the television with Cas and a bag of chips right now.

“Fine,” he says, calmly, standing up. “Then I’ll leave.”

His heart sinks when Gordon stands up too, smacking his hand down hard on the bar top when the sudden movement makes him sway. 

“No,” Gordon says. “I’m leaving.”

Dean would be relieved to hear that if Gordon didn’t take his car keys out of his pocket as he said it.

“Dude, you ain’t driving. Let me call you a cab or something.”

“Told you,” Gordon snarls, waving his finger in Dean’s face. “Don’t fucking tell me what to do.”

Dean’s too old to be dealing with this bullshit. 

“Don’t be an idiot, you’re wasted, pal.” Dean reaches out to pry the car keys out of Gordon’s hand. He doesn’t care if the asshole wants to ruin his life driving drunk but he’s sure as hell not letting the moron endanger anyone else. 

Unfortunately, Gordon’s not letting go of the keys without a fight. “You are not my pal,” he growls, jerking his hand back and away from Dean. 

Of course, Gordon nearly falls, whisky addled and balance shot to hell. Dean grabs the drunken idiot’s arm to steady him. Gordon’s face screws up into an ugly snarl and before Dean has time to clue into what he’s about to do, never mind dodge the blow, Gordon’s throwing a punch. For a drunk guy, he has a powerful right hook, catching Dean square across the jaw. Propelled backwards, Dean trips over a waitress carrying a tray of dirty tumblers, and crashes to the floor in a shower of glass. 

After that, things go blurry around the edges for a few seconds, or maybe for a few minutes, the thumping pain in Dean’s head makes it hard to keep track of time. When the room swings back into focus, Dean is relieved to see that the waitress, thank god, has somehow managed to stay on her feet. She seems pretty mad though, her raised voice hurting Dean’s ears. Dean’s mumbled apologies from the floor don’t do much to calm her. 

Dean figures he should probably try and smooth things over, otherwise he suspects she’s going to get them all thrown out of the bar. Not that he would blame her. Before he can lever himself upright, however, there’s a flurry of activity from above him. Angry shouts and waving arms and too many feet scuffling around him for comfort. Dean can feel the attention of the whole bar zeroed in on them and prays for the floor to open up, swallow him whole, and save him from further humiliation. The floor stubbornly declines to help. “Thanks a lot, asshole,” Dean grumbles slapping his palm down onto the sticky boards underneath him.

Just as he’s resigned himself to the fact he can’t lay there all night, and he’s actually going to have to move, Cas’ face, presumably attached to his body, is hovering about him. “Dean! Dean, are you okay?” 

Dean doesn’t get the chance to answer before Cas’ worried face is nudged out of the way by Benny.

“Hey, brother, let me help you up.”

“We shouldn’t move him.” Dean hears Cas snap. “God knows what damage your friend has done.”

“I’m fine,” Dean says, even though he thinks Cas and Benny seem to be too busy elbowing each other out of the way to listen to him.

“You’re bleeding,” Cas says.

“Sorry,” Dean replies. Cas sounds pissed.

“Look,” Benny says, “let’s get him up off the floor, and then we can see if he needs to go to the hospital.”

“I can get up myself,” Dean grumbles, slapping away both Benny and Cas’ hands when they start poking at him. “Dude hits like a six-year-old girl.”

“Dean,” Cas hisses. “That asshole knocked you out.”

“No, he didn’t,” Dean argues, because that’s not possible. One punch does not knock out Dean Winchester.

Cas glares at him. “Maybe not, but cracking your head against the edge of the table on the way down certainly did the job.”

That explains the throbbing pain in his skull then. God, his neck feels like it has a major crick in it. Also, he thinks prodding experimentally at his jaw, his face fucking hurts. And what the hell… has he peed himself? His pants are disgustingly damp and weirdly warm. Oh god, Dean hasn’t pissed his pants since kindergarten and it was embarrassing enough back then. He’s never going to be able to go out in public again. He’s going to have to become a hermit. Maybe live in one of the dank caves on the beach. He’s sure he can persuade Cas to bring him down sandwiches occasionally. As long as it’s not those weird avocado concoctions Cas insists are good for him. It doesn’t matter how much he loves Cas, the dude will not persuade him that the greasy green vegetable is tasty. 

“Dean,” Cas says, looking more amused than angry now. “You’re lying in a pool of beer. You haven’t peed your pants.”

“Huh?” Dean says.

“And avocados are not vegetables and they are in fact good for you.”

That’s when it slowly dawns on Dean that his inside monologue isn’t actually staying inside. He clamps his lips together firmly before he can say anything else embarrassing. Like how stupidly cute Cas looks with that Santa hat perched on his head. God, his hair is going to look all messy and sexier than ever when he finally takes it off. Dean hopes daddy-issues twink appreciates it. 

“Um,” Cas says. “Perhaps we should call for an ambulance.”

That makes Dean move, even though the blinding pain behind his left eye isn’t happy about it. “Nope,” he says, sitting up. “No ambulance. I’m fine. Peachy.”

“Brother,” Benny says, from beside him. “I don’t think…”

“Peachy,” Dean repeats, stubbornly, squinting in an effort to ease the pain in his head. 

“Dean,” Cas starts to say and then curses as Dean tries to push himself to his feet. He makes it, just, but only thanks to Cas and Benny shoring him up at either side. His stomach lurches as the room tilts and sways around him, but after the initial wave of dizziness passes, the urge to hurl thankfully recedes.

Pretty sure his legs are steady enough now to hold him, he shakes off Benny and Cas’ helping hands. He can still feel half of the bar watching them. The other half are gawking at Carmen dragging Gordon out of the door by his ear. Dean hasn’t seen anyone actually do that outside of TV shows since… well… ever.  

His attention is drawn back to his own humiliating situation when he feels Benny’s hands back on him, brushing down his shirt. “He doesn’t seem too seriously hurt.”

Cas shoulders Benny out of the way to finish picking the shards of glass off Dean’s clothes himself. “Apart from the head injury your friend is responsible for you mean?”

“I ain’t arguing that Gordon was out of order here. All I mean is none of the cuts look serious. He’s just scratched up.”

“Perhaps we should let an A&E doctor decide that,” Cas says in a snippy tone that Dean hasn’t heard for a while.

Hell no, Dean isn’t going near a hospital. Not for a few scratches and a tiny bump on the head. 

“Dean,” Cas sighs. “I’m worried you have a concussion.”

Dean’s not had a concussion for a while, not since he was a teenager and his dad shoved him a bit too hard and he crashed headfirst into the doorframe. God, that had hurt like a bitch. If he’s got a concussion now it’s definitely not as bad as that. In fact, if he had to hazard a guess he’d say the shots and the whisky he’s sunk are more likely the problem.

“I swear I’m fine, Cas.” Dean takes a step towards the door. “Honest. Don't need the hospital.”

Cas grabs his arm when Dean sways a little. “I don’t think you are the best judge of that, right now.”

“Dean, perhaps your friend’s right. Why don’t you go get checked out? Just in case,”  Benny chimes in, taking hold of Dean’s other arm. “You’re pretty unsteady on your feet there, buddy.”

“I’m perfectly fine,” Dean snaps, angrily wriggling out of their grip to prove it. “Just freaking…”



Cas

CHAPTER SEVEN



“You fainted,” Cas crows. Smug bastard.

Dean scowls.

“Halfway through a sentence. Like a Jane Austin character. You swooned. It was very dramatic”

“I have a concussion,” Dean points out with icy enunciation. 

“A very mild one,” Cas retorts, not trying to hide the laughter in his voice. “The doctor said you should be fine tomorrow.”

At some point in the five hours they spent hanging around the emergency room Cas regained his sense of humor. Dean’s not so sure he’s happy about that. He thinks it happened around the same time Dean sobered up and every damn thought he was thinking stopped spilling out of his lips. 

“I said I was fine from the beginning,” Dean huffs. “You’re the one who wanted to go to the freaking hospital.” 

“You were babbling, Dean,” Cas says. “I thought you were brain damaged. Although, it was rather enlightening.”

Thank god they pull up outside the beach house just then because Dean’s painfully aware now of just how badly his mouth was running away with him. He knows he said some stupid shit. He’s not sure he remembers everything he said to Cas but he definitely recalls mentioning Cas’ sex hair at one point. That alone is enough to make him want to hide in his room and never come out again.

He bolts from the cab leaving Cas to pick up the fare, and let’s himself into the house. 

He’s downing a glass of water when he hears Cas shut the front door. 

“So, I’m sorry,” Dean says. He knows it sounds grudging but suffering abject humiliation has a way of making him sound like a sulky four-year-old. “Didn't mean to spoil your night.”

Cas chuckles as he kicks off his shoes, stripping out of his jacket and throwing it over the back of a kitchen chair. “You didn’t. It was a fun evening.”

“Yeah?” Dean says, quirking an eyebrow at Cas. “You find me getting knocked out cold entertaining?”

“No,” Cas says, firmly. “But, I did find you puking on Benny’s shoes as we scooped you into the cab fairly amusing.”

Dean groans and runs his hand across his eyes. He’s definitely ruined any chances he ever had of having a hot threesome with Benny and Carmen. And he’s going to have to find a new gym. Again. What an absolute clusterfuck of a night. 

The only bright point had been coming around after he’d (manfully) passed out to find Cas practically cuddling him against his chest. He can still remember how nice Cas smelled. How safe he felt with Cas’ arms wrapped around him. He doesn’t say that though, because contrary to all previous evidence, he does possess a brain to mouth filter which is now fully operational.

“This was not how the night was supposed to go.”

“No, but at least it’s made this Christmas memorable.” Cas grins.

“Fuck,” Dean says, squinting at his watch to see it’s almost 4 in the morning. Christmas morning. “It’s Christmas.”

Cas laughs gently. “Not quite the way either of us usually spends the holidays, huh?”

“No wives, no kids. No presents under the tree. Huh, no tree.” Dean sighs. “Yeah, I don’t think this is going to go down as one of the better Christmases.”

“It could be worse,” Cas says, lightly. “At least we have each other.”

Dean’s heart clenches. He knows Cas just means as friends, just means at least they aren’t alone. He can’t help but wish he meant something a little different. A little... more. 

He manages to smile back at Cas. He doesn’t trust his voice not to break and give him away if he replies. 

“Dean,” Cas starts, as Dean refills his water glass. “About some of the things you said earlier..”

“Man, I was out of it, huh?” Dean says, setting his glass down when his fingers tremble. He doesn’t want to have this conversation. He’s suffered enough humiliation for one night. 

“I think perhaps we should talk.”

Cas’ gentled tone makes Dean’s stomach turn. He turns around to face Cas, forcing the smile to stay on his face even though the tension in his shoulders is probably unmistakable. “I’m wiped, Cas. Just want to hit the hay. You think we could leave it?”

It’s not even a lie. His face is aching where Gordon punched him, his head is pounding and he feels tired down to his bones. He’s not even sure he’s got the energy to make it upstairs to his bedroom, never mind have a conversation that he knows is going to be all kinds of awkward. 

Cas doesn’t look happy about it, his mouth twitching into a frown. “Of course, Dean. You’re right, it’s very late. I’ll see you in the morning. Well, later in the morning.”

Cas turns to walk away. Dean should feel happy. He just feels sick. 

“Night, Cas,” he calls after him, voice breaking. “Merry Christmas.”

Cas stops in his tracks and swivels back around to face Dean. Dean’s heartbeat pounds a little faster at his expression. The uncertainty in his eyes giving way to fierce determination.

Cas crosses the distance between them in a few strides, not stopping until he’s just inches away. “Merry Christmas, Dean,” he says, his voice rough and low, and reverberating through Dean’s body like an aftershock. He reaches his hand up to Dean’s face, ever so gently cups his bruised jaw, and presses a kiss to his lips, chaste and dry and brief. Dean shivers. The short hairs on the back of his neck prickling. His eyelashes flicker shut just for a second. Cas is staring at him when they open again.

“Good night, Dean,” he says, gaze drifting briefly down to Dean’s lips, before meeting his gaze again. Then, the asshole smirks, turns, and walks away, leaving Dean a little breathless and a lot confused. 

Despite the late hour and his exhaustion, it takes some time for Dean to fall asleep, but when he finally does he’s out for the count. He doesn’t stir until something solid hits him in the stomach. He wakes with a disgruntled oomf, opens his eyes and groans when sunlight streams through the curtains he forgot to close before he went to bed. 

“Phone,” Cas says, jabbing his finger in the direction of the cell phone lying on top of Dean. 

“Coffee,” Dean grunts back. Cas rolls his eyes, and walks away, hopefully to switch on the coffee machine. 

He rubs his eyes, stretches, winces at the throbbing ache in his jaw and then picks up the phone. “H’lo,” he mumbles.

“Ben’s been trying to call you,” Claire informs him unnecessarily loudly. “I told him you were probably just passed out in a drunken coma but he was worried. Probably thinks Pops has finally snapped and smothered you in your sleep. Or stabbed you to death with one of his paint brushes. Or maybe yoga’d you to death. Anyway, I told him I’d call Pops and get him to check up on you. Although, I guess if he had brutally murdered you, then he wasn’t the right person to do the checking up.”

“Merry Christmas to you too, Claire.”

Claire snorts. “Merry Christmas, Uncle Dean. Please call your son so he stops bugging me.”

“Sure,” Dean says. “Please stop fantasizing about Cas killing me. It’s creepy.”

“But so much fun,” Claire sniggers. 

“How do you even yoga somebody to death?”

“I’m sure Pops would find a way,” Claire says breezily. Dean’s sure she’s right.

They trade insults for another few minutes before Claire hangs up to go rejoin her friends, then Dean calls Ben who yells for three minutes straight about Dean not answering his phone. Dean feels more like a kid than a dad when he admits he’s not entirely sure where his phone is anymore. He hasn’t seen it since before Gordon punched him in the face. Which he probably shouldn’t have admitted to Ben because then he has to explain why Gordon punched him in the face. Dean leaves out any mentions of threesomes and Cas’ sex hair, and by the end of the story he’s not even sure it makes sense. 

“You fainted?” Ben says, laughing.

“I passed out!”

“There’s a difference?”

“Shut up, junior.”

Dean thought talking to Ben on Christmas Day would leave him feeling miserable, but in fact, he’s grinning by the time they say their goodbyes. It hurts less being apart from his son when he knows the kid is having a good time. And that he hasn’t completely forgotten about his old dad. He calls Sammy afterward, tries not to laugh when his brother has to cut the call short because baby Grace Exorcist vomits all over him. Dean’s inordinately glad he’s over the baby stage in his life. 

Dean takes his time showering, letting the hot water ease the ache in his muscles and the steam clear away the foggy remains of his headache. He must have landed heavily or at a weird angle when he hit the deck the night before because his spine and neck hurt more than his jaw or the small lump on his head. What would be really good is a back rub. Strong fingers digging into his muscles easing out the knots. He bets Cas could give awesome massages.

Dean gets out of the shower before that train of thought leads to him needing an even longer shower.

He takes a couple of Advil from the medicine cabinet in his bathroom, wipes the mirror clean with his towel, and then looks at his reflection. Honestly, he doesn’t look as bad as he thought. There’s a faint purpling bruise on his jaw, a few scratches, but his eyes are clear rather than bloodshot and the shower has left him with a pink-cheeked glow.

Over the past six months, the slow pace of living at the beach house has given him a honey-gold tan, and an abundance of freckles that are scattered across his nose and explode down over his shoulders and chest. So what if he doesn’t have a six-pack anymore, he actually thinks he doesn’t look half bad for a guy his age. He could do with a haircut though, he thinks running his hand through his hair. It’s not quite Sam levels of ridiculous but it’s getting kind of floppy and curling around his ears. 

Given the bruise on his jaw, he doesn’t bother shaving. He does make a bit of an effort when he dresses though. It just feels wrong not to on Christmas Day, even if it is just gonna be him and Cas sitting in front of the television eating junk food all day. He doesn’t go quite as far as wearing dress pants but he puts on a pair of black jeans and his dark red henley. Not dressy, but not too shabby either. 

Christmas music is playing in the kitchen when he comes down the stairs, and Dean can hear Cas humming, off key, along with the upbeat strains of The Jackson Five. Dean walks around the corner into the kitchen, and the crack he was going to make about it probably not being Santa that Mommy was kissing under the Christmas tree dries on his tongue. Cas is standing at the stove, his back to Dean. He’s wearing the ugliest pair of green yoga pants, a threadbare, almost see-through, white tee-shirt that is clinging obscenely to his broad shoulders and the damn Santa hat from last night is perched at angle on his tufty bedhead hair. 

He should look ridiculous. 

The strangled groan Dean makes as he stares at Cas’ ass proves otherwise. 

Cas turns around, wooden spoon in his hand and a smirk on his face. “Good morning, Dean.”

“Pretty sure it ain’t morning anymore, Cas,” Dean manages to say, voice gruff, trying not to stare at the front of Cas’ yoga pants. It’s dick-swingingly obvious Cas has forgone underwear. He forces himself to look up and pretend he wasn’t staring at Cas’ junk. “Um… nice hat.”

“You seemed to like it last night,” Cas says, still smirking. 

Dean is distracted so it takes a moment for him to notice the smoke rising from the pan on the stove and the unpleasant aroma of scorched eggs. “Jesus, Cas,” he says, bustling forward, hip-checking Cas out of the way and lifting the pan off the heat. “I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t use the stove unsupervised anymore.”

“I am perfectly capable of making omelets,” Cas huffs from right beside him.

“Sure, you are.” Dean turns off the stove and looks dubiously at the blackened scrambled eggs stuck to the bottom of the pan before turning his head to look at Cas. Cas who is pressed to his side and who twists his head to glare back at him.

They’re practically nose to nose. 

Dean swallows. Cas doesn’t so much as blink. 

Dean licks his lips, nothing more than a nervous tick, but Cas’ eyes track the movement with undisguised interest. 

“Uh…” Dean starts to say something, he doesn’t know what, just something inane about personal space to break the tension.

Cas doesn’t let him. Talking over him instead. “Can I kiss you?”

Please, Dean says, screams, in his head. That’s as far as the word makes it. He just about manages a stiff nod that, thank every deity, Cas takes as a yes. He kisses with a gentle devotion that steals Dean’s breath away. 

“Is this okay?” 

Dean shakes himself when he realizes that Cas has pulled away and is staring at him uncertainly. His lips are tingling and his heart is racing. “More than,” he croaks, finally letting go of the pan in his hand and grabbing onto Cas’ tee-shirt instead. 

This time it’s Dean who leans in and presses his mouth against Cas’. This kiss is less gentle and less cautious. Cas responds with a heated groan that vibrates against Dean’s lips sending shivers straight down his spine. His hands come up to hold Dean’s face, thumbs featherlight on his cheekbones. He deepens the kiss with a hint of dominance that makes Dean’s toes curl in his socks. It’s a long time since Dean felt like a teenager, but with Cas’ lips touching his, there are butterflies dancing in his stomach and a sweaty flush breaking out across his neck. He feels as hot and flustered and downright excited as he did the first time he kissed a girl.

Except, Cas is very definitely not a girl. He’s almost six feet of firm muscle with a five o’clock shadow that never quite fades, and he kisses like it’s his mission from God.

They kiss until Dean’s knees are trembling, his lips bruised and tingling. Until Dean ends up shoved against the kitchen island, the hot line of Cas’ hard-on pressed against his thigh. His own dick is very much on board with the kissing and the shoving. 

Unfortunately, Dean’s brain rudely butts into the proceedings. 

“Wait. Wait,” Dean says.

“What?” Cas asks, before nuzzling into the crook of Dean’s neck. 

Dean whimpers, his brain almost falling offline again. 

“Cas.” Dean somehow finds the strength of will to nudge Cas back gently. They’re both breathing hard. Trembling.

“Dean? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Dean says. But that’s not entirely true otherwise he wouldn’t have applied the brakes.

Truthfully, he’s really fucking confused. He doesn’t know what’s happening. Doesn’t know why Cas is doing this. If he’s just horny. Or lonely. Or didn’t buy Dean a Christmas present and decided an orgasm was the perfect last-minute gift. 

“Dean, obviously something is wrong.”

And Dean’s an idiot really. What does it even matter what this is? Sex is sex. Cas is hot, and Dean’s not gotten laid in forever. Even if this is just a one-time thing, he’d be insane not to go for it. 

Dean drops to his knees and yanks the lurid yoga pants down Cas’ stupidly thick thighs. 

“Fuck,” Cas hisses. 

Dean takes a deep breath and tries not to lose his nerve. He’s given the grand total of one blow-job in his life… on a real dick at least. Lisa had a strap-on that they played with occasionally. She got a real kick out of seeing Dean on his knees with his mouth full. 

Cas’ cock puts Lisa’s fake one to shame. And though his mouth is watering and his dick is crushing hard against his zipper, Dean’s nerves must be obvious.

“Hey,” Cas says, his hands carding through Dean’s hair. “You don’t have to…”

Dean shuts both Cas and his own over-thinking brain up by licking a broad stripe up Cas’s dick and then sucking it into his mouth. 

“Shiiit,” Cas groans his fingers stilling in Dean’s hair. 

It takes a few minutes for Dean to get himself together and find his rhythm, but when he does he sinks into the moment with surprising ease. The weight of Cas’ cock feels perfect on his tongue, the taste musky but not unpleasant. Having just one thing to concentrate on calms Dean’s nerves, hearing Cas falling apart above him, his fingers twisting in Dean’s hair, tugging sharply when Dean does something that Cas loves, turns Dean on more than he would have thought possible. He loves feeling in control while being so utterly used. 

He grips Cas’ thighs and yanks him in close, hoping Cas gets the message. Cas, bless him, does.

“You want me to fuck your mouth?”

Fuck, but his voice is sexy; deep and throaty like he smokes sixty a day and drinks nothing but hard liquor.

Dick almost painfully hard in his jeans now, Dean gazes up at Cas through his eyelashes, swallows around his dick, and almost chokes trying to force himself to take it all the way down.

“Jesus, Dean,” Cas growls. 

When Cas takes control, rocks his hips, and slides his dick in and out of Dean’s mouth it’s one of the most erotic experiences of Dean’s life. And even though Cas is fucking his face, he’s more gentle, more careful, with Dean than Dean had been with himself.

“Your lips are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Cas says, thrusting a little harder. Dean squeezes Cas’ hips in appreciation before letting go with one hand to finally free his dick from its denim prison. 

Cas lets him get a hand on himself before commanding, “No, don’t jerk yourself off.”

And goddamn Dean’s brain almost short circuits. He whines around Cas’ cock which makes Cas’s hips stutter and his cock slam against the back of Dean’s throat.

Dean can barely see past the tears streaming from his eyes, but he hears Cas curse. “Fuck, sorry, sorry.”

If Dean could speak he’d tell Cas not to apologize. Tell him he likes it rough. Likes to be bossed about. And he really fucking likes it when it’s Cas that’s doing the bossing. Instead, he lets go of his cock, grabs the back of Cas’ thigh, and urges him to do it again.

Thank fuck Cas understands.

Dean can tell that he’s still being careful, but he pushes harder, forces Dean to take more, take him deeper. His thrusts gain speed as well as force and just when Dean thinks he might have to back off, catch his breath, Cas comes, right down his throat. 

“Fuck,” Cas growls and then he’s sliding his dick out of Dean’s mouth, leaving him gasping for breath and panting, and he’s painting Dean’s face with the rest of his load. Coming across his lips and the bridge of his nose. 

Dean needs to come right the fuck now. If he doesn’t touch his dick he’s scared he might humiliate himself by coming just from the feel of Cas’ spunk dripping down his chin. Except when he curls his hand around his dick, Cas stops him.

“No. I told you, don’t touch yourself. I want to… I want to.”

He hauls Dean up off his knees, shoves him hard against the goddamn refrigerator and jerks him off with rough uncoordinated strokes. It only takes seconds for Dean to shoot. The feel of Cas’ hand on his dick pretty much enough to set him off. Cas milks him through his orgasm until Dean has to bat his hand away, his dick sensitive past the point of pleasure.

They’re both breathing hard, dazed. Dean is a sticky mess of spunk and tears and probably snot. 

“Christ,” Dean says, his voice a shattered shadow of itself. “That was… fuck…”

“I…” Cas seems at as much of a loss for words as Dean for a change. Dean would find that reassuring if he wasn’t already feeling a sweeping sense of panic starting to wash over him. One of them needs to start fucking talking.

“We should have… condoms...” Cas eventually gets out.

Dean’s heart sinks. That’s not exactly what he wanted to hear. He scowls at Cas, and Jesus fucking Christ on a pogo stick, the dork is still wearing the damn Santa hat. Dean grabs a dishcloth and scrubs some of the tacky mess from his face, wincing when rubs a bit too hard over his bruised jaw. “Bit fucking late now, Cas.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Pretty sure it was me who started it,” Dean says gruffly. Cas awkwardly tugs his pants back up. Dean feels sick. 

“Dean,” Cas starts to say, and it’s his gentle tone that freaks Dean out past the point of listening. 

It’s a douche move but he can’t stand there and listen to Cas say what a big mistake this has been. He almost falls on his face trying to haul his jeans up and run away at the same time, but somehow he makes it down to the beach, more or less dressed.

When his feet stop moving, he plonks his ass down on the sand and stares out at the sea. It’s not a nice day. The sky is gray and there’s a sharp wind blowing in from the ocean. Dean’s so busy drowning in self-loathing he barely feels it. He truly fucked up. Cas is going to think he’s a goddamn moron. More of a moron than normal. It’s not that the sex wasn’t good. It’s that the sex was really fucking fantastic. And Cas is too hot for words. Hell, Dean almost came just from him growling Dean’s name and telling him no. 

The problem is Cas is looking for fun and hook-ups and nothing serious and Dean thinks he might be in love.

Fuck.

Cas is infuriating, and a slob. He drives Dean around the bend 80% of the time. He’s also gorgeous and stupidly funny in his own weird way, and so genuinely kind it makes Dean’s heart hurt.

Dean doesn’t want to lose him as a friend. And if the sex hadn’t achieved that then Dean freaking out has surely done the job.

“So,” Cas says, dropping down onto the sand beside him. He’s wearing a ratty old blue hand-knitted cardigan on top of his tee-shirt. Dean thinks one of his octogenarians must have left it behind at some point. He’s still wearing the Santa hat. Dean very badly wants to kiss him. “You’re freaking out.”

Dean shrugs. The ass of his jeans is damp with wet sand and he’s wearing one sock, the other presumably lost on his run down the beach, so it seems pointless to deny the fact.

“Was it… did I read the situation wrong? Was that… did you not want….”

Dean hates that Cas sounds so unsure. “Dude, I dropped to my knees and all but begged you to fuck my face. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Okay,” Cas says, hesitantly. “So, we shared perhaps the hottest ten minutes of my life and then you ran away. What happened?”

“I’m a fuck up, Cas.”

Cas slaps the back of Dean’s head, before draping his arm around his shoulders. “No, you’re not. And I don’t like it when you put yourself down like that. You’re the best person I know.”

“You should probably get to know more people then.”

“Dean.” There’s a warning in Cas’ voice.

Dean sighs. “I… you’re my best friend, Cas. I don’t want to lose you.”

“You won’t…”

“And,” Dean presses on. “I don’t… I didn’t want to be just another damn notch on your bedpost.”

“You think that’s what this was about?” 

“You want fun and carefree, Cas. You’re not looking for anything serious.”

“We’re both newly divorced. I don’t think either of us is ready for commitment again,” Cas says gently, his arm not budging from Dean’s shoulders.

“Exactly,” Dean says. “All you want is… is a bit of fun. And that's… there’s nothing wrong with that. But I… I can’t do fun. Not when I have…” Dean wants to punch himself in the face rather than actually say this, but he owes Cas the truth. “I have… feelings.”

“You have feelings?” 

Dean glares at Cas out of the corner of his eye when he hears the smile in his voice.

“Dean Winchester admits to having feelings while stone cold sober. I never thought this day would come.”

Face burning, Dean tries to shrug off Cas’ arm so he can stand up and storm off. Cas is having none of it though. It’s a brief tussle that ends up with Dean flat on his back on the beach, sand crawling down his collar and Cas straddling his thighs, his hands firm on Dean’s chest holding him down.

“Get off me, jackass.” Dean glowers up at Cas’ laughing blue eyes.

In response, Cas leans down and kisses him. 

Dean’s too confused to do anything but kiss him back. 

Only once Dean has relaxed underneath him does Cas stop kissing and start talking. “You are quite possibly the most infuriating man I have ever had the good fortune to meet. And I think that jumping into a serious relationship this quickly after a failed marriage is a monumentally bad idea, especially given the circumstances. But… but when I thought you were going to leave with Benny and Carmen I was inordinately jealous. And… and I knew you were watching me that night with Alfie, I heard you come in, and it didn’t make me want to stop, it made me fuck him harder wishing it was you. The reason I didn’t go to my mother’s today was because I couldn’t bear the thought of you spending Christmas Day on your own because you… you’re not the only one with feelings.”

Dean blinks up at Cas. That’s a lot of information to make sense of. His mind was stuck on the bad idea thing until Cas mentioned the fucking Alfie thing and he’s only just catching up to the feelings thing when Cas kisses him again. 

He’s still confused, but more than a little turned on, when Cas eventually breaks away again. 

“So,” Dean says. “Feelings, huh.”

“Yes, Dean,” Cas says, brushing his thumb across Dean’s lips which after all the kissing and… other things, must be swollen red. 

“But you don’t want a relationship.”

“Do we need to label whatever this is?”

“I, uh, I need to know where I stand,” Dean admits. “After everything with Lisa I just… I need to be on a sure footing. If you just want to be friends, that’s fine. I’ll take it. If you want to be friends that have sex occasionally, I can deal with it… I guess. But, I need to know.”

Cas takes a deep breath. “That’s fair. Okay, how about best friends, with benefits, lots of sexy benefits, who live together, and don’t date other people.”

A flutter of hope cracks opens in Dean’s chest. “So, best friends who have feelings for one another and who also have a lot of really hot sex, but not with other people.”

“Exactly. Is that enough for you?” 

It most definitely is for now. It’s more than he hoped for. Cas is right; neither of them is ready to dive headfirst into a serious relationship yet, not one with labels, expectations, and having to explain themselves to other people. 

Dean grins. “You are more than enough for me.” 

Cas rolls his eyes at the cheesy line, but can’t hide his own smile as he uses Dean’s chest to push himself to his feet. He holds his hand out for Dean. 

Unhesitating, Dean takes his hand and lets Cas tug him upright. Then he kisses him. Deep and passionate and holding nothing back. The kind of kiss that says I love you even when the words are still out of reach. Also, Dean hopes, the kind of kiss that leads to some seriously raunchy sex. In a bed this time. His knees are still sore from the kitchen floor. And his back is still aching. 

“So,” Dean says. “Can I ask you just one question?”

Cas’ eyes crinkle at the corners in concern. “Of course, Dean. Anything.”

“Do best friends with plenty of hot sex benefits who live together and don’t sleep with other people by any chance give free massages?”

The worry in Cas’ eyes immediately disappears. “I’m not sure about massages but I hear that certain best friends with hot monkey sex benefits who live together and don’t even think about sleeping with other people do give free yoga lessons. That might be beneficial to certain other whiny best friends.”

“Hey, I’m not whiny.”

“I’m sorry, what was that Whinechester?”

Cas looks so ridiculously smug that Dean would be annoyed if he wasn’t too busy being utterly charmed. 

Still, there’s only so much cute he can handle.

“I’ll give you Whinechester, jackass,” Dean says. He makes up for the less than stellar comeback by whipping the Santa hat off Cas’ head, and holding it up in the air.

“Are you twelve?” Cas asks, eyebrow raised

“Nope.” Dean grins. “I’m awesome.” And then he takes off running, holding Cas’ hat like a trophy. Okay, so there’s maybe still a bit of a twelve-year-old inside of him. 

Cas chases him along the beach, both of them laughing like idiots. When Cas trips Dean up sending him tumbling down to the ground,and gaining a face full of sand, Dean only laughs harder, and when Cas reaches down to help him up, he yanks his hand and drags Cas on top of him. Cas’ hair is wild, his cheeks pink and brilliant eyes bright with laughter. 

Dean’s breath catches in his chest. There’s no question about it. He’s in love with this weird ass dude with his stupid blue eyes and crazy hair, and his goddamn ugly grandpa sweater. Jesus, he’s forty years old, unemployed, divorced and not at all sure what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. But, that’s okay. He’s not at the end of his story. He’s barely halfway through. It’s okay to not know all the answers. He has Cas. He’s happy. And that’s enough.

“You are a ridiculous human being,” Cas says looking down at him. “What am I going to do with you.”

Dean can’t control his grin, or his eyebrow wriggle. “I have a few ideas.”

Cas ducks down to brush his lips against Dean’s, before nibbling at his earlobe and growling. “I hope they involve a bed.”

Before Dean can answer in the affirmative he almost headbutts Cas jacking upright in shock when a cold wet nose buries itself in his ear.

“Sebastian!! Sebastian get back here.”

Cas rolls onto his back, laughing so hard he’s wheezing. 

“Oh my goodness, boys, I’m so sorry. Sebastian just has a mind of his own,” Mrs. Spangler, one of Cas’ more spry octogenarians jogs along the beach towards them.

“It’s fine, Rose,” Cas gets himself together enough to reply. 

“It’s a bit chilly to be frolicking about on the beach, boys. You should be tucked up nice and warm at home.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Dean says, standing up and dragging Cas along with him. “And Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too, dear,” she replies, watching Cas smack Dean’s ass to dislodge a clump of sand. “I’m glad to see you boys finally got your act together.”

“Thank you, Rose,” Cas says, before he seems to catch what she actually said. “I’m sorry, what?”

“I’m not quite sure who won the pool. I put my money on Christmas Day but that old fart Mr. Bryant bet on Christmas Eve.”

Dean and Cas exchange equally stunned looks. “You bet on us getting together?”

“Well, yes, dear.” Mrs. Spangler says matter of factly. “A blind chimpanzee could see the chemistry between you two. All that staring and the homoerotic fighting in the sand. It was obviously just a matter of time.”

“Obviously,” Dean parrots.

“So…” she says, expectantly. 

“So…?” Dean isn’t sure what she’s waiting for. 

Cas waggles his finger in Mrs. Spanglers direction. “We are not giving you details, Rose. Betting on your neighbor’s love life is hardly polite behavior.”

“Cas,” Mrs. Spangler says. “Come along, dear. You weren’t saying that when you won two hundred bucks betting on Mrs. Rosen’s son leaving his wife for the pool boy.”

Cas coughs and grabs Dean’s hand. “Well, that’s… different. Oh, look, I think Sebastian just swallowed a crab.”

“I’ll find out, young man.” Mrs Spangler grins, jogging away in the direction of her hyperactive terrier. 

“You think her and her cronies have the house bugged?” Dean asks, only half joking. 

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised,” Cas sighs.

Dean just laughs, and bends down to pick up the Santa hat. He gives it a shake to dislodge the worst of the sand and then plants it on Cas’ head. “You think she knew about Meg and Lisa before we did?”

“Undoubtedly,” Cas says. “But, to be honest, I don’t think I care.”

“Me neither,” Dean says truthfully, slipping his arms around Cas’ waist and pressing a light kiss to the tip of his nose. Cas’ hands cup Dean’s ass, pulling him flush against him, and making Dean shiver when he nuzzles at the sensitive skin below his ear. “You think maybe we should take this indoors before Mrs. Spangler starts filming us on her phone?”

Cas laughs, his warm breath tickling Dean’s neck. Then he grabs Dean’s hand and leads him back up the beach towards their house. “Come on, Dean. Let’s go home.”



THE END!

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