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Dean and Cas Are Dating (but Dean Doesn't Know That Yet)

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Little Red Corvette! Baby, you’re much too fast,” Dean belts into the handle of the mop as he sways around the kitchen floor. “Little Red Corvette, you need to find a love that’s gonna last!”

He’s been cleaning all morning and he’s pretty sure he could get away with licking the floors at this point. 

Oh, oh!”

Fuck Martha Stewart; Dean’s the real domestic goddess. 

A body like yours oughta be in jail, ‘cause it’s on the verge of being obscene.” Hell, Dean’s even a better criminal than Martha. 

Move over, baby, gimme the keys. I’m gonna try to tame your little red love machine!” 

He spins around and digs the mop under the fridge, getting lost in the music. “You, you, you got to slow down.”  Fuck him if he’s listening to Prince, but the song’s pretty much about cars, so that makes it fine. 

You got an ass like I’ve never seeeeen, ow! And the ride, I say the riiide is so smooooooooooth… You must be a limousine!” 

Dean lets his hips bounce to the rhythm as he wrings out the mop a final time and puts the cleaning supplies away in the storage closet. 

He flicks off the radio and hears the sound of a keyboard clacking from somewhere in the depths of the library. Dean grabs two beers from the fridge and heads towards the sound. Cas has been in there researching fuck-knows-what for the past seven hours. Angels might not need food or sleep, but the dude still deserves a break. 

Dean hums his way down the hallway. Fucking catchy tune, man. 

“Hey, buddy.” Dean places a beer beside Cas, then plops down in the seat across from him, kicking his feet up onto the table and crossing his legs at the ankle. He cracks open his beer and takes a big swig.  In vino veritus, Dean’s ass. Beer holds the real secrets of the universe. “Whatcha working on?” 

“Dean,” Cas seems a little startled to notice that Dean’s in the room, but then his features school into hardened something akin to determination, “I would like to go on a date.”

Dean nearly chokes on his beer; of course Cas wants to go on a date. It’s not like he’d want to just hang out with Dean in the bunker forever. Dude wants his own life. Cas's probably been thinking about it ever since that failed one with Nora. Hell, he’s probably been thinking about it since that night with April, the stupid bitch. Dean doesn't even want to think about how horribly that ended. Dean tries his best to paste on a smile. 

When Dean doesn't reply, Cas asks, worried, “Do you think that’s appropriate?” 

“Sure, buddy,” Dean shakes the thoughts out of his head and tries to sound reassuring. He can’t get mad at Cas just because he wants to have someone. “Nothing’s wrong with wanting what you want.” 

“You think it’s a good idea,” Cas confirms.

“Sure,” Dean shrugs, staring into the label of his beer, “Gotta get back on the horse sometime.” 

“You think horseback riding would be an enjoyable date idea?” Dean doesn't need to look up to imagine the way Cas’ brow is furrowed in his stupid, dumb, cute squint. 

“Uh, maybe something a little simpler for a first date, Cas.” 

“Yes. That's what I thought as well.” Dean can hear that Cas’ smile is back. “I'm surprised you’re reacting so favorably to this suggestion. I thought you might require more convincing.” 

Fuck, Cas was expecting Dean to be a total asshole about this. Is he really that much of a prick? Yeah, he probably is. But, he really shouldn't be; he should be a good friend instead. He should be supportive when the people he loves are trying to find happiness. 

“Cas, buddy,” Dean swings his feet down from the table and leans forward on his elbows, looking directly at Cas for the first time, “Listen, I’m not gonna sugar-coat it; your track record sucks. But, after the reaper, and the shit that went down in Idaho, and your angel buddy heading home… Man, it’s fine to want something good for yourself.” 

Cas nods with all the sobriety that an angel can muster, “Thank you.” 

OK, fucking Hallmark moment over. Dean leans back and claps his hands. “So, where ya thinking ‘bout going?” 

“You mentioned some time ago a ‘Beer and Bacon’ happy hour.” 

Fuck, if Cas isn't careful, Dean’s gonna be the one getting seduced tonight. Dean stands and starts to leave the room before he does anything stupid like beg Cas to take him instead. 

“Would that be an appropriate first date?” Cas asks. 

“Only if you want to have the best date ever,” Dean tosses over his shoulder. 

As Dean strolls down the hallway, he hears Cas quietly mutter, “I do.”

 


 

A couple hours later, Cas finds Dean in the garage, elbows deep in the engine of Baby. 

I've been doing some research, Dean, but I’m having difficulty reaching a consensus on the best time to host a date.” 

Dean pulls himself out from under the hood and pulls a rag from his back pocket. He starts to wipe the grease from his hands as he motions for Cas to continue. 

“I understand that it is usually up to the person who has proposed a date to undertake the responsibility of planning, but I’m not sure if I’m capable.” 

Dean picks up a ratchet from where he rested it on the top of the air filter and spins it between his fingers. He clenches his jaw and side-eyes Cas, “You asking for my advice?” 

“Your input, yes.” 

“You said you’re thinking a bar or something?” Dean asks. Cas nods in response. “Well, I’d say you wanna get there early enough to catch happy hour. Have a few drinks; chat. If it’s going well, you grab dinner. If things crash and burn, you bail when the specials dry up.” 

“That seems wise, Dean. Thank you.” 

“Anytime, man. How you planning on getting there?” 

“I assumed that you would drive.” 

Does Cas expect Dean to be a fucking taxi service or something? Dean glances over at Cas’ car, “Uh, is something wrong with your pimpmobile?” 

“No.” Cas’ face doesn't betray any clues, “I like when you drive.” 

“Um…” Dean’s a little lost for words. Maybe Cas just wants to impress his date. Seeing Baby would be a way bigger turn on than that hideous beige Continental. Plus, yeah, Dean’s a great driver. And he’s promised himself that he’s going to be supportive of Cas and his quest for happiness, so, OK. “Yeah, sure, I can drive. Why not? A man deserves to arrive in style.” 

The way Cas’ smile stretches across his face is worth Dean dying inside.

“Excellent. We’ll leave at five p.m.”

 

Chapter Text

Dean pulls up in front of Lyon Saloon a little after five-thirty, letting the car idle while he waits for Cas to get out. Cas doesn't make a move, he just sits there with his palms flat against his thighs and stares straight out the windshield, silent. Just like the whole damn drive here.

If he’d known Cas was gonna give him the silent treatment for the entire fucking ride to Smith Center, Dean would've just given him the keys to the Impala and told him to drive safe.

Dean tries to calm himself down. Maybe Cas is just nervous about his date and it’s booting him back to his angel-dick factory settings. Dean tightens his hands on the wheel and takes a slow breath in through his nose. He exhales through his teeth.

“You staying in here all night, buddy?”

“I was waiting for you.”

“Waiting for me to what, Cas?”

Cas turns to face Dean and cocks his head to the left in that stupid bird-tilt that he used back when they first met and Dean said anything particularly human. Yup, Cas is acting factory fucking fresh.

“Did you not want to come in?” Cas questions.

Dean jams the gear shift into park and wrenches the keys out of the ignition with exactly as much force as he can use without destroying the starter. Not only is Dean the chauffeur, but he’s gotta be the chaperon too? Fucking hell, if Cas asks him to pre-chew his fucking food Dean’s gonna crack him one right across the jaw. Even if it breaks every last bone in his hand, it’ll be worth it.

OK, Dean’s willing to go in and at least wait until Cas’ date shows up. That way he won’t be stranded if anything goes hinky. Dean can do that. Dean’s the kind of guy who can give his friend dating advice. Then drive his friend to his date. Then wait with his friend for some chick—probably smoking hot—to arrive. And then they can have the time of their freaking lives while Dean plays Tetris in the parking lot.

Goddammit. He better win the fucking friend of the year award for this bullshit.

“Yeah,” Dean huffs. “Let's go.”

He storms out of the car and cringes when he hears his door slam shut behind him. He makes a silent promise to Baby that he’ll apologize for it later with a nice wax job. Cas follows his lead, but exits the car with much more grace and restraint.

They cross the parking lot in charged silence. Dean counts to ten and reminds himself again that he’s happy for Cas. He pulls open the door to the bar and allows Cas to go in ahead of him. Once inside, Cas immediately starts to stride towards the dining area.

“Uh, Cas,” Dean calls after him gesturing towards the bar, “Wouldn't you rather sit over here?”

Dean’s willing to wait with his buddy, but that doesn't mean he has to humiliate himself by actually sitting at the table where his status as third-wheel would be obvious to the entire bar.

Cas stops in his tracks and turns to face Dean, “If that’s what you prefer.”

Dean nods and they perch themselves at the bar. He signals the bartender for two beers and takes the time to survey the establishment. It’s not exactly a dive, but it’s pretty close. Looks more like the kind of place Dean would spend a nice night drinking himself stupid than the kind of place you take a lady out for the evening.

Dean taps his fingers on the counter top along to a phantom tune. He sucks his bottom lip in between his teeth, flicking his tongue against the small piece of flesh that enters his mouth. He tries to think of something to say, but nothing comes to mind.

The bartender places a glass of draft in front of Dean and he takes a long, slow drink.

He darts his eyes quickly over to Cas. The dork actually looks like he tried to comb his hair for the occasion. Of course, he failed miserably. The front is reasonably managed, but little curls are wrapped around his ears and an entire tuft is sticking up at the back. Dean has the sudden urge to reach over and smooth down the tuft; he reaches for his beer instead.

Two silent beers later, Dean sweeps a look across the bar. It’s almost seven and still not a single unaccompanied chick in the place. Cas must have been stood up. This is fucking miserable. Dean should be having the time of his life being alone with Cas in a place like this, but all he can think about is how some broad is breaking his best friend’s heart.

“So, happy hour’s almost over,” Dean speaks into his beer. Maybe if he doesn't look at Cas, he won’t have to see how disappointed Cas is that his night is ruined. “Guess it’s time to head back to the bunker.”

“You want to leave,” Cas states. “Are you not enjoying yourself?”

Dean chances a quick look at Cas; the stoic veneer has cracked and he looks just as devastated as Dean predicted. Dean’s gonna have to salvage this night as best he can.

“Nah man, I’m having a blast,” Dean lies.

Cas’ devastation is quickly hidden behind a small smile. Looks like Cas is pasting on a brave face. Dean knows all about smiling through the pain; he can play along.

“Just didn't know if you wanted to spend the money on a dinner out. I mean, only ‘cause you don’t eat and I've got a full pantry back at the bunker.”

“I was under the impression that dining out was a pleasurable experience,” Cas says. “I may not require sustenance, but I would still like to share a meal.” Cas taps at the laminated menu in front of him, “I thought perhaps cheeseburgers. Given your fondness for fried foods, I thought that might be something you'd enjoy.”

Hell yeah, Dean would enjoy that. Whoever was dumb enough to skip out on a chance with Cas just became Dean’s favorite moron; their loss is his gain.

“Alright man, you got it,” Dean tries to fight the grin that threatens to split his face in half.

“Can we sit at a table now?” Cas asks, hopeful.

Dean’s phone buzzes in his pocket and he takes it out to sneak a quick peek. It’s just a text from Sammy.

Found a case. Tell you tomorrow. Enjoy your night out.

“Anything you want, buddy,” Dean answers without looking up from the screen. How did Sam know he was out tonight from all the way in South Dakota? Maybe Cas told him. He raises two fingers to tell the bartender that they’re moving to a table, “Two deluxe bacon cheeseburgers coming right up.”

 


 

They eat their meal in silence.

When he’s finished, Dean leans back in his chair and pats his full stomach. He’s gotta hand it to this place, they sure can make a mean burger.

“So,” he hedges, “You've been pretty quiet tonight.”

“I’m not sure what to talk about when it’s not the end of the world,” Cas admits. “I researched topics to discuss on a first date, but none of those conversation starters seem appropriate for us.”

“I dunno man, what did they say?”

“One suggestion was to ask about your companion’s family, but I think I might know more about your family than you do, at this point.”

“I’ll give ya that,” Dean concedes, sucking a piece of ground beef out of his gums. “What else?”

“Places you've traveled, favorite foods and beverages, career goals, who you consider friends… I believe I’m quite familiar with those aspects of you as well, Dean.”

Dean laughs, “Yeah, I guess we kinda figured all that shit out about each other along the way.”

“We've been through much together,” Cas agrees.

Their waiter arrives then to clear the plates, effectively ending their sad attempt at conversation. Cas’ head dips and he plays with the hem of the tablecloth. Dean watches him for a moment, then finds a really fascinating water stain on the ceiling that requires his full attention.

“May I have a quarter, Dean?” Cas asks once the table is cleared.

Dean reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of coins. He flattens them onto the tabletop, letting Cas pick through for what he wants. Cas picks up two quarters and heads over to the jukebox lurking behind the pool tables.

After a beat, Dean pushes himself up from the table and makes his way to stand behind Cas. He peers over his shoulder as Cas carefully scrolls through the available options, squinting at each title. Cas uses his knuckles to roll the quarters through his long fingers a half-dozen times before inserting his coins and making his selection.

A distinctive drum-and-guitar combo fills the bar. Dean tucks his chin into his chest and hides a smile as the vocals join in, You’re a real tough cookie with a long history…

Dean lifts his head and quirks an eyebrow at Cas, “Pat Benatar?”

“You love classic rock anthems,” Cas asserts.

“Yeah, Cas,” Dean laughs. Cas may have all that pop culture knowledge now, but he still doesn't know how to apply it. Dean throws an arm over Cas' shoulder and leads him away from the jukebox, “I love classic rock.”

Dean steers them back towards their table, stealing a glance at his watch; it’s only eight o’clock. He could definitely have another drink and still be OK to drive home later. He pats Cas on the back, “You want another beer?”

“Please.”

“You sit,” Dean gestures across the bar, “I can grab ‘em.”

“That’s not necessary,” Cas insists. “I was the one who asked you to join me this evening. I should be responsible for paying for your food and drink.”

What a fucking gentleman, Dean thinks. Whatever research Cas found for his big date obviously failed to mention that if you get stood up and your best friend fills in, you’re off the hook for the tab.

“Cas, buddy. When it’s just us out, you don’t gotta follow those rules. Besides, what are you gonna do, pay with my money out of your wallet?”

Cas frowns, “But-“

“No ‘buts’ about it, man,” Dean shakes his head, “I've got this.”

Cas doesn't let up on his frown, he just nods and walks away without another word.

Dean places their order and then leans back against the bar, turning toward Cas. Cas is sitting at the table, coat slung on the chair behind him, hands loosely cupped together, and a soft smile warming his features. He’s rubbing his right thumb along his left thumbnail and looks lost in thought. Dean thinks he looks about as effortlessly human as he ever has – and that includes when he actually was human.

“Eleven-fifty,” a voice interrupts Dean’s thoughts. He turns to pay the bartender and picks up the two mugs resting beside him.

As he walks back to their table, the song changes to a familiar tune. Leaves are falling all around; it's time I was on my way.

Dean smiles at Cas as he sits down, “Ramble On, nice." He pushes one of the mugs across the table; watches as Cas uses one long finger to trace along a trail of condensation. Dean clears his throat and keeps talking, “Y’know, this is one of my favorite songs.”

“I know.”

Dean shoots his head up and looks straight into Cas’ eyes. They’re so goddamn earnest.

“My intention was to also select Traveling Riverside Blues,” a small smile plays at Cas’ lips, “but the jukebox didn't have that track.”

“Is this, like, one of your angel talents?” Dean asks, “Being able to just know shit like that?”

Cas’ eyes drop to watch his thumb stroke the handle of his mug, “It’s within my means to determine that information.”

Ramble On. And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.

Dean lets his gaze wander and his eyes fall on something on the wall opposite the jukebox.

“Hey,” Dean pokes Cas in the shoulder and points at what he’s found, “You wanna play Foosball?”

Cas nods and they make their way across the room.

“Oh man!” Dean enthuses, running his hands along the steel rods and giving them a quick spin. “I haven’t played, since— um…” Dean catches himself and looks at the floor. Shit. He swallows harshly, “Last time I played was with Crowley.”

Cas rounds the table and stands beside Dean. He places his hand gently on top of Dean’s to stop him from fidgeting with the rods.

“You don’t need to think about that tonight, Dean,” Cas replies softly. “We can make new memories.”

Dean looks at Cas’ hand laying on top of his and tries not to think about how warm and comfortable it feels. Cas saw what Dean was; endured what Dean became. Cas deserves so much more than a fuckup ex-Knight of Hell as a consolation prize for a date gone wrong. The least Dean can do is stow his crap for one night and show his best friend a good time.

“Yeah,” Dean clears his throat and pastes on a smile, “Yeah, buddy, we’ll have a blast.”

Cas smiles and moves back to his side of the table.

Dean picks up the little ball from the return chute and gets ready to drop it. He levels a glare at Cas, “You ready?”

“Bring it on,” Cas deadpans.

Dean drops the ball, flicks his wrist to spin his players, and immediately scores against Cas. Dean drops the ball four more times and scores almost as quickly each time, ending the game within minutes. Cas doesn’t score a single point.

Cas straightens up to his full height. “That was highly unnerving.”

“What’s the matter, Cas?” Dean taunts, “You've seen the things I've taken on before. You shouldn't be surprised that I kicked your ass.”

Cas squints at Dean’s players like he’s trying to smite their tiny plastic bodies.

“C'mon buddy, lighten up. It’s just a game.”

“And I am an excellent strategist,” Cas grunts.

Dean rolls his eyes. “It’s not that kind of game, Cas.”

Cas continues to frown at the table as if it has personally offended him. Dean kinda loves that grumpy, smitey look of his.

“You want me to show you how it’s done?” Dean offers.

Cas responds by stepping away from his side of the table.

“No, you stay where you are,” Dean reaches over the table and grabs Cas’ wrist, pulling him back, “It’s easier to show you if I can control your movements a little.”

Dean lets go of Cas and moves around the table. He positions himself behind Cas and lifts his hands to cover his friend’s, picking up their joined hands to place them back onto the rods.

“OK,” Dean begins, “You were right about strategy being important, but there’s more to it than that. Brute strength isn't going to get you anything here. The key is that you actually have to be pretty gentle.” He uses their right hands to rotate one rod just a little. Dean turns his head and lets his words ghost over Cas’ ear, “Feel how delicate that was?”

“Y-Yes,” Cas answers, “I can feel that.”

Dean moves his left hand to repeat the motion, but Cas’ hand doesn't turn. The movement of Dean’s hand becomes a caress across Cas’ knuckles and Cas hitches a sharp breath.

“Dean,” Cas whispers.

Cas' ragged breath snaps Dean out of the moment and he realizes just how many lines he’s crossed. He takes two quick steps back and holds his hands in front of him like he’s trying to calm an angry animal.

“Sorry,” Dean winces, “I, uh, I know you can figure the rest out.”

Cas turns around, looking stunned. Dean must have really fucking weirded him out. Fuck. Dean wipes his sweaty palms down his jeans and looks at his watch.

“It’s getting late, man,” Dean lies; it’s barely eight-thirty. He hardly even touched his last beer. “Maybe we should be heading home.”

“Whatever you wish, Dean.”

 


 

 

The drive home is somehow more awkward than the ride to the bar.

Cas won’t stop stealing glances at Dean’s hands. Every time he does, his own hands twitch. Fuck, he probably can’t stop thinking about how creepy Dean was when he fucking caressed Cas’ hand.

They travel in complete silence this time; Dean can’t even muster the enthusiasm to put in a cassette. Nearly every tape in his collection has at least one song Dean’s banged to on it, and Dean can’t risk the chance that one of them will play. Cas would probably somehow just know and be even more grossed out and ask to move out of the bunker and Dean would never see him again and Dean would die lonely and friendless and alone.

Fuck.

 

---

 

The second they get home, Dean tries to make a break for his bedroom. He can hear Cas follow directly behind him. Dean makes it to his door and reaches out to turn the handle and step inside, but before he can cross the threshold Cas speaks up.

“I think that was a successful evening,” Cas announces.

Dean huffs a laugh, “How the hell do you figure that was successful, Cas?”

“Well, no one attempted to murder me." Dean thinks Cas might have just made a joke. "Unless you have plans for later?”

That fucker is actually pretty funny sometimes.

“And besides that,” Cas continues, “I enjoy your company, Dean.”

“Yeah, well, glad to do it, buddy,” Dean tells his doorknob.

A tense minute passes where nothing more is said and Dean almost thinks that Cas has flown away, except he didn’t hear the tell-tale whoosh.

“Goodnight, Dean,” Cas whispers.

Dean listens as Cas’ soft footsteps carry down the hall and back to the library.

“Goodnight, Cas.”

 

Chapter Text

A shimmer of blue presses down on Dean’s side. He floats to the right and settles into a soft caress of cotton. A firm hand rests against his hip; a thumb gently rubs back and forth over his naked, heated skin. Dean hums quietly, purring along with an unheard rhythm.

The air pulses and Dean is in a plush, straight-backed chair. His eyes are closed, but he can still feel the colors of the room. Purple swirls around him, fading into greens and pinks. Comforting blue swells up from his feet, filling his whole body with a wave of contentment and joy. He smiles softly; lets the feeling envelop him.

The chair dissipates and Dean is floating again. He thinks he opens his eyes, but they stay unfocused. Whispered words come to him, unclear and indistinct, their meaning inherent without being heard. Hands press into his back; move across his shoulders; cup his face. Lips press gently to his own and Dean feels more complete than he ever has before.

The room floods white. Dean wakes up. Hard.

Dean scrubs a hand down his face and coughs into his fist, clearing his rough, dry throat. He's getting sick of these goddam dreams. He doesn't know what the fuck they’re about, but he’s tired of waking up feeling both more and less rested than when he went to sleep.

He can never remember the details; just a general sense that being dragged back to the land of the living has him missing out on something important. At least it’s better than when he was plagued with nightmares. Which were starting to account for most of his goddam adult life.

Dean glances down at his tented boxers. Huh. To touch himself or not to touch himself? This is Dean’s question. He rolls flat onto his back and stares at the ceiling. He can almost see patterns emerge, kinda like cloud watching. Maybe he can find the answers to his masturbatory questions in the imperfections of some dead dude’s spackling job.

And isn't that a weird fucking thought to have.

Dean grunts and, with the considerable effort only required of the newly-awoken, swings his legs off the edge of the bed. He shoves his feet into his waiting Dead Guy slippers and pushes himself off the mattress; starts his slow shuffle to grab his Dead Guy robe off the back of his bedroom door.

He pulls open the door and squints one eye shut against the onslaught of the corridor’s newly-installed fluorescent lights. Sam took it upon himself to save the fucking world just one more time, taking the slow and steady route of consumer-level environmentalism. Dean’s gotta remember to swap ‘em back to something a little less harsh.

Dean runs one hand under his T-shirt and scratches at his belly. Getting a little soft there again. Not that Dean particularly minds; swapping a pudgy midsection for a blood lust addiction wasn't exactly a healthy trade-off. Maybe he’ll try cutting out thirdsies of pie this week.

He turns the corner to head towards the shower room when a warbling baritone hits his ears, “My love is the evening breeze touching your skin. The gentle sweet singing of leaves in the wind.

Dean stops in his tracks and tilts his head towards the sound, straining to recognize the lyrics.

The whisper that calls, after you in the night” Cas’ deep voice carries down the hall as Dean is slowly drawn towards it, “And kisses your ear in the early light.”

Holy fuck, Cas is singing Heart. Not that Dean would recognize a chick band or anything, but, he does love classic rock anthems. It sounds like Cas is in the shower room, if the muffled acoustic accompaniment of water drops is any indication.

You don't need to wonder, you're doing fine; and my love, the pleasure's mine.”

Dean rounds the entrance to the shower room and is hit with a wall of steam and damp warmth. The heat seeps into his sleep-weary body and Dean lets out a low sigh of appreciation.

The singing abruptly stops.

“Hello?”

Dean freezes. For some reason, he suddenly feels caught.

“Is someone there?” Cas’ question resonates throughout the room, “Is that you, Dean?”

Dean doesn't know what to do. He stops breathing, just in case that’s the right decision. In the sudden silence, the patter of water hitting the tiled floor sounds ominously loud. Dean shuts his eyes tight against the echo as if that will somehow help.

Cas hums to himself and, completely unrelated, Dean realizes that he’s still half-hard and barely dressed. And Cas is not at all dressed; and soapy; and wet.

Dean tightens the belt on his robe and backpedals out of the room with as much stealth as he can muster. He makes it all the way back to his room, shuts the door firmly, and leans back against it. He lets out a shuddering breath and tries to compose himself.

What the fuck was that? Dean adjusts his dick in his boxers and tries not to think about why he needs to do that right now. So he walked in on Cas while he was in the shower. No big deal; it’s not like he saw anything. Cas was in his own stall and Dean was still wearing clothes and a robe and it’s perfectly normal to have a little morning wood.

Dean lowers his head into his hands and buries his fingers into his hair. He is not thinking about this. Fuck.

 


 

After a long day of definitely not avoiding Cas, Baby's got her promised wax job, the bunker is as spotless as it’s ever been, and all the necessary, ugh, research is complete. Dean’s run out of tasks to keep him busy. Now, even though it’s still early afternoon, he's in the kitchen trying to decide what to make for dinner. He’s staring at the open fridge and cross-referencing his culinary repertoire with the groceries they've got on hand.

Obviously his burgers are amazing, but he doesn't want to overdose on those. Not that Cas would mind. Dean remembers he was in the low hundreds on those when Famine was in town. He could make a roast. That’s pretty easy. More or less a set it and forget it kind of deal. But, Dean wants something that’s going to keep him a little more, um, distracted. Not that he’s avoiding anything; he’s just trying to stay occupied.

He could make tacos. Lots of prep work; that’ll keep him busy.

Dean reaches into the fridge to grab the ground beef. Just as he leans down, he hears Cas’ near-silent footsteps enter the kitchen.

“Hello, Dean.”

Dean tries not to visibly shudder. Even if he does, he can play it off like he was shaking from the cold of the fridge. It's an industrial strength, commercial grade, behemoth after all. Sam probably wants to replace it with an energy-star rated wet rag, cooled by the wing flaps of ethically sourced butterflies.

“Hey, Cas.”

Dean grabs the Styrofoam tray of shredded cow bits and straightens to face Castiel. He tries not to let his eyes wander, but he can’t help it. Despite having obviously cleaned up earlier, Cas has managed to look like a more rumpled version of a man who’s slept fully-clothed on the couch for the past month. It should look pathetic; instead it looks endearing. Dean blinks a little longer than necessary, then focuses his attention on the food prep in front of him.

“What can I do for you, buddy?”

“I've been looking for you all day.”

“You don't say.” Dean busies himself removing the saran wrap from the meat. He hears Cas sit himself down on a stool at the kitchen’s table, but Cas doesn't offer a response. Dean tosses the plastic in the garbage and moves to get a frying pan out from the cabinet beside the stove. “I’m, um – I’m sorry about last night.”

“It was fine, Dean.”

“Yeah?” A bitter smile tugs at Dean’s lips, “Spending a whole night with me must've been a blast.”

“I enjoy your company,” Cas replies.

Right, Dean thinks. A weird night with your best friend is always great, but it’s no replacement for the hot date you were supposed to have had.

“Well,” Dean moves to the stove and fiddles with the knob for the large front burner, igniting the flame and setting it to a medium-high heat. He sets the pan over the flame and turns to face Cas, “Next time will be better.”

“Next time,” Cas repeats.

“I mean, if you want to give it another shot,” Dean clarifies.

A not-quite smile crosses Cas’ face. Anyone else would probably miss the change, thinking that Cas was still holding his stoic poker face, but Dean likes to think he’s starting to have a pretty damn good feel for the nuances of Cas’ expressions. Of course, Cas has also been attempting an actual toothy grin the past couple of years. But, this closed-lip smile is the one that he makes when he’s really, truly pleased and isn't sure he’s supposed to show it. Dean figures that the prospect of having a date where his date actually shows up has got the angel all tickled.

“Of course I do,” Cas confirms.

Dean grunts and turns back to the stove. He picks up the package of ground beef and dumps it in the pan, dissatisfied by the dull thunk the meat makes when it hits the cast iron. That shit should have made a dramatic sizzle and spattered everywhere; that would have at least given Dean a sense of satisfaction. Destruction, Dean knows how to deal with that. Instead, he’s left with lukewarm representations of domesticity and an angel hovering patiently behind his back. Typical.

“What about tonight?” Cas asks.

“What about tonight?” Dean repeats, pulled from his thoughts.

“Is it too soon for ‘next time?’”

Without turning around, Dean can practically hear Cas making the goddam air-quotes. Dean grabs a wooden spoon and starts to break up the beef, trying to buy a little time to collect his thoughts. He’s not sure how Cas plans to schedule a second date so damn quickly. Does Cas have some stable of potential ladies stashed somewhere that he can just call upon for endless dates? Dean can admit that Cas is probably considered a hot commodity among women, but Dean’s no slouch either, and even he can’t line up dates that fast.

“What are you making?” Cas interrupts Dean’s thoughts, materializing to the right of Dean’s shoulder.

Dean is startled by Cas’ sudden proximity and change of topic. It takes him a moment to collect himself and school his face back into an air of calm nonchalance. “Tacos,” he coolly replies.

“Oh.” Cas sounds disappointed.

“You don’t like tacos?”

“I was hoping that it would be burgers.”

“We had burgers last night,” Dean reminds him, turning to hold Cas’ gaze. “And you don’t eat.”

Cas furrows his brow and clenches his fists. Dean thinks that reaction is a bit dramatic.

“We discussed this last night,” Cas says in what more or less counts as a low growl. “I may not require sustenance, but I am still capable of enjoying the sharing of a meal.”

Dean breaks eye contact and returns his attention to the cooking with mumbled acquiescence.

“Beyond that,” Cas continues with a little less intensity, “I like burgers.”

Dean can’t help the little laugh that huffs out his nose, nor can he stop the accompanying grin from cracking across his face. Castiel, Angel of the Lord, fearsome Warrior of God, soldier and strategist and seraph, gets all pouty when he’s denied his favorite food.

“OK, man,” Dean smiles, “Two deluxe bacon cheeseburgers coming right up.”

 


 

Dean dresses the burgers and puts the first on a plate. He takes a look at his handiwork; the finished product is serviceable - the beef hadn't cooked too much before he reformed it into patties - but it’s not his finest culinary creation. Dean frowns a little, he’ll have to make them again to really show off. He plates the second burger and passes it to Cas.

Cas takes it in his hands, smiles down at the plate, lifts his gaze to Dean and says, “This makes me very happy.”

Dean feels a heat rise up the back of his neck in response to the praise. He rubs at it as he grabs his own plate off the counter, “It’s just a burger, Cas.”

Cas opens his mouth to say something else, but is cut off by a loud trilling sound and a female voice announcing, “Transfer of data is complete.”

“The fuck is that?” Dean wonders as he sits down to eat.

Cas places a hand in his pocket, silencing the noise. “My text message notification.”

“Was that the computer from Star Trek?”

“Yes,” Cas affirms as he joins Dean at the table. “Sam thought it would be appropriate. The audio interface of the Enterprise-D has access to the entirety of the ship’s database, but is notoriously literal in its interpretation of information and commands. Sam felt it was something that the computer and I had in common.”

Dean huffs. That’s… actually pretty damn true. “Well, then ‘Play it again, Sam.’”

Cas frowns, “Are you referring to the misquotation from the film Casablanca? Or perhaps the 1969 Broadway play by Woody Allen and it’s subsequent film adaptation, which was released in 1972. There was also a song that—”

“Cas,” Dean cuts in, “You’re kinda proving the point here, man.” Dean smiles as a thought hits him, “Actually, running on like that, you’re kinda more like Data.”

“I’m not an android, Dean.”

“Obviously not. You just used a contraction.”

Cas’ frown deepens and an accusatory squint joins the mix. “Data used contractions on many occasions.”

Dean snorts with a mouthful of burger and nearly chokes. He hits his chest a couple times with a closed fist to help clear the airways.

“OK,” he coughs out, “that seals it. Grab your burger. I’m gonna give you a proper education.”

“I already know everything, Dean.”

“Oh no,” Dean picks up his plate and starts walking towards his bedroom, “none of this book-learning crap. You can’t just fucking Wikipedia some shit and think you know what you’re talking about. You gotta have practical experience.”

He hears Cas scramble to follow behind him, swallowing his own burger loudly, “Practical experience?”

Dean swings open the door to his room and reaches for his DVD collection. “Yeah.” He exchanges his plate for two cases and holds them up for Cas to see. “Star Wars or Back to the Future?”

Cas looks lost for a moment, then leans in to read the titles. “Which one do you think I'll prefer?”

“No, I mean which one do you wanna watch first?”

Cas gives Dean a blank look, so he makes the executive decision to start with Back to the Future and pops it in his laptop. He picks his burger back up on the way to the bed and gestures to Cas, “Have a seat man. I’m gonna show you what you've been missing out on.”

Cas’ blank stare persists for a few more moments before he kicks into gear and moves to sit carefully on the edge of Dean’s bed. Dean rolls his eyes.

“You can get comfortable.” He pats the space beside him. “I’m not gonna bite.”

Cas’ stiff posture relaxes and he adjusts so that he’s leaning back against the pillows, legs stuck out in front of him just shy of ramrod straight. Dean thinks that’s pretty fucking casual for Cas.

“Why are there so many clocks in this scene, Dean?” Cas asks as the movie begins.

“Quiet, Cas.”

The Power of Love gave Huey Lewis and the News their first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 when this film was released,” Cas informs Dean when the credit appears on the screen. “The song was also nominated for an Academy Award for—”

Quiet, Cas.”

A moment passes in the film. “I don’t believe this news update is historically factual, Dean.”

“Cas. Be quiet. It’s a movie. It’s not real. Just shut up and enjoy it.”

Cas presses his mouth into a thin line and slouches further down into the pillows. He’s pouting. Again. Dean sighs and rubs a hand on his forehead, trying to soothe an impending headache.

“Look, Cas, the movie’s a lot more fun if you do the whole suspended disbelief thing, OK?”

Cas nods, “As you wish, Dean.”

They watch in silence as Marty McFly blows out Doc Brown’s speakers, gets a tardy slip from Principal Strickland, is rejected from the battle of the bands, and makes his way home to see Biff has wrecked the car.

“I would like some popcorn,” Cas states, as Marty rolls up to the Twin Pines Mall on his skateboard.

“Burgers not good enough for ya?”

“I finished my burger.”

“You don’t eat.”

“It’s not about sustenance Dean, it’s about—”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s about sharing or whatever. OK. I get it. Movies need popcorn. How about we just watch this one first and I’ll make us a batch before we watch part two, deal?”

Cas appears to mull the idea over with a level of seriousness usually reserved for smiting demons and threatening gods. “Deal.”

Satisfied, Dean mirrors Cas’ position and sinks down into pillows, letting the memory foam cushion around him. He tries not to notice the heat that is coming off of Cas’ body; how their thighs are just barely touching; their hands brushing each time Dean reaches for what remains of his burger. It’s totally normal that two full-grown dudes would take up all the space and end up bumping elbows. Dean’s not worried about it; the bed’s just not that big. 

The movie continues in the usual way—that is to say, awesome—and no more words are uttered between them. Except, of course, for when Dean quotes along to the best parts, because, c'mon, “One point twenty-one gigawatts???” Classic.

As the tires of the Delorean retract and Doc tells Marty that where they’re going, they don’t need roads, Dean looks over to see Cas’ reaction. Cas has a small smile on his face as he watches the credits roll.

“Whaddya think?”

“That film had many similarities with your own experiences.”

“Yeah, the whole going back and meeting my folks thing was pretty surreal,” Dean admits. “Wait ‘til you see the third one. You’re gonna think they've just been ripping off my life.”

“I would say that it’s unlikely, since these films were made when you were still a child, but knowing what we do regarding the true nature and possibility of time travel—” Cas trails off, looking at Dean to finish his thought.

“Yeah, man,” Dean agrees, shaking his head. “Stranger things.”

Silence falls around them again. Dean clears his throat and the echo it creates reminds him of the awkward silence of this morning. He claps his hands together just to add a little more noise to the room. “I’m gonna, um,” he clears his throat a second time, “I’m gonna go make that popcorn now. You just uh— stay comfy and I’ll be, um. I’ll be right back.”

Dean fumbles off the bed and hands the laptop over to Cas. “You want salt and butter?”

“Yes, please,” Cas answers, looking at Dean with solemn sincerity.

Dean nods at him once and exits the room, bumping a shoulder into the doorframe and breathing just a little harder than he thinks is really necessary. One movie down, eight to go. This is gonna be a long night.

Chapter Text

Dean wakes from another fading dream. It's different than yesterday. He isn't achingly hard; his chest doesn't feel empty; he’s not disoriented or unsure of himself. Instead, he’s warm and content. His only discomfort is the recurring feeling that something is missing. He had something in that dream, something that made him feel whole, and in this waking world, he doesn't.

He blinks awake slowly and registers the firm thigh that serves as his pillow; the hand gently carding through his hair; the tan coat that is serving as Dean’s drool repository. Lingering feelings from his forgotten dream swell to a heart-rattling crescendo and Dean knows, without a doubt, that he is in love with Cas.

Cas is running his hand through Dean’s hair and Dean is in love with him.

He hums in pleasure and the hand in his hair stills.

“You’re awake.” Cas' voice rumbles with disuse. It’s such a gorgeous sound; Dean thinks he could swim in the vibrations. Dammit, Dean’s gonna need tampons to plug up all these fucking lady feelings.

“You seemed comfortable,” Cas continues. “I hope I didn't disturb you.”

“'S'fine.” Dean plays it cool and rolls into a sitting position. “How long was I out?”

“You slept through the final instalment of Back to the Future and the entirety of the original Star Wars trilogy.”

“You kept watching?” Dean stretches his arms over his back, popping the tired joints. He leans side to side, working out the kinks from his muscles, then rubs his eyes and looks over at Cas.

“The movies, Cas,” Dean clarifies when faced with Cas' confused look, “You kept watching without me?”

“Oh, yes. The movies. Of course.” Cas shakes his head and continues, “I gathered that it was important to you.”

“Yeah,” Dean lets a small smile cross his lips. Yeah, sharing the good stuff with Cas is important, because Cas is important. And Cas does stuff with Dean because… Why does Cas do stuff with Dean?

Dean replays the night before in his mind, starting when Cas found him in the kitchen and- shit. Shit, shit, shit. Cas had asked Dean if it was too soon to try dating again and instead of helping him, Dean got completely side-tracked by burgers and movies and being in fucking love with his fucking best friend.

Cas got stuck with Dean drooling all over him because Dean's a selfish prick who makes his best friend stay in and watch movies he already knows about. Cas, who is an angel for fuck's sake, is slumming in a grimy fucking hovel with a sad, washed-up drop-out when he should be out there wooing the ladies and getting laid.

What does Dean do when an Angel of the Lord, Warrior of God, former Sheriff of Heaven and awesome, eternal, multi-dimensional wavelength of Celestial Intent asks for his help? He falls in love with the guy and makes him watch Star Wars.

Speaking of which, how long, exactly, has he been in love with Cas? Dean shakes his head; nope. No way. He's not examining that. Not now. Maybe not ever. He doesn't need to weigh them down with possibly years of his unrequited bullshit.

Dean hunches his shoulders and tries not to sigh too dramatically. He is so entirely fucked.

“It was- um.” Dean winces at the creak in his voice. Pull it together, Winchester. “It was fun.”

Dean can feel Cas shift uncomfortably on the other side of the bed. Dude’s probably looking for an excuse to flap out of here. Probably needs to go angel-whammy the slobber stains out of his coat or something. Dean should make up a reason that he needs to leave and save them both the trouble of this weird pseudo-morning-after vibe.

Dean's mentally running through Baby's maintenance list to see if there’s anything left he can pretend to need to do, when Sam's bellowing call echoes through the bunker.

“Dean! Cas! You guys here?”

Dean bolts off the bed and throws open the door. Saved by the moose. “In here!”

Sam comes down the hallway and stands in front of Dean’s room. He looks between Dean in the doorway and Cas on the bed but doesn't comment on it. Why would he? It's not like Sam’s never hung out watching movies in Dean's room before. This is totally normal. Dean can handle this. He helped avert the Apocalypse. He can navigate a little social awkwardness.

“What's up, Sammy?” Dean asks, folding and re-folding his arms as he leans against the doorframe in a casual, I-didn't-just-realize-I'm-in-love-with-my-best-friend sort of way.

Sam purses his lips and darts his eyes from Dean to address Cas, “You guys aren't busy?”

“We always have time for you, Sam,” Cas replies, standing to join them in the doorway.

“Right. So get this,” Sam starts, pulling a laptop out of his bag, “There's some really weird activity cropping up in a ten-mile radius around a place called Glenwood Springs in Colorado. No deaths yet, but locals are complaining about all sorts of monster signs that just don't add up. I did some research before coming down here, and guys, I honestly don’t know what we're dealing with here, but it's definitely our kind of thing.”

“Demons?” Dean questions.

“I don't think so. No crop failures. No weather patterns shifting. It's just weird stuff, like globs of what looks like discarded human flesh, but with no associated corpse.”

“Shapeshifter?” Cas asks.

“Maybe,” Sam nods. “There's also been reports of roving packs of wolves and dogs. Not so unusual, given the mountain setting, but animal control is getting up to thirty calls a night.”

“Werewolves, maybe.” Dean suggests. “Or skinwalkers.”

“And,” Sam brings up the page for Glenwood Springs' tourist website, “Last week, the blood bank and the morgue were both robbed.”

“Hey, look at that!” Dean points at the screen, “'Most Fun Town in America!' Can't beat that.”

Sam and Cas shoot Dean matching exasperated glances, but Dean knows he’s a funny sonovabitch.

Sam rolls his eyes back to the screen and clicks another link: Glenwood Springs Renewal Retreat. The page features pictures of overly happy people horseback riding, swimming in hot springs, and running through blossoming meadows.

“This is the location where all the activity seems to be centered around,.” Sam explains. “It looks to be some sort of personal wellness resort.”

“We already did the whole spa gig when we hunted down that pishtaco,” Dean reasons, “We’ll just get staff jobs again and infiltrate that way. Should be a breeze.”

“I already checked that out. They're not hiring. Fed angle won't work either since there's no active cases being reported. And, actually,” Sam scrunches his brow and winces a little, “It looks like it's one of those couples wellness resorts.”

“We'll go,” Cas interjects, shuffling closer to Dean. “We should be able to enroll as guests without suspicion.”

Cas slides his hand into Dean’s and interlaces their fingers. No warning; no preamble; as if it’s just another thing he’s done a million times before. Dean’s vision blurs around the edges and a high-pitched whining tunes out all ambient noise. The only thing his senses can perceive is the way that Cas' beautiful, graceful hand feels against his own thick, callused meat hook.

The dog-whistle noise ebbs enough for a snippet of Cas' practiced monotone to break through, “—and we've already successfully navigated several social situations that are considered—"

Dean can't hold his concentration. How can Cas sound so calm? So… Cas. Holy shit, is this not life-changing for anyone else in the room?

Dean looks around, trying to hide the frantic feeling from bleeding through his eyeballs. He takes in the stoic look on Cas' face and the soft smile on Sam’s and realizes, no, this is not a big deal for them. Why would it be? They play pretend all the time. If they can fake being Federal agents every other week, then what’s the big deal in pretending to be a couple? Especially at some new-age hippie retreat. Two dudes together probably won't even make them bat an eye.

Ugh. But why's it gotta be him and Cas? It’s like the universe knows that Dean woke up today in disgusting, unrequited love with the dude. Can't he catch a fucking break?

“What about you, Sasquatch?” Dean shifts on his feet, aiming for nonchalant. “Thought you loved all that hippie wellness bullshit. Why can't you and Mr. I-Watch-the-Bees go instead? Live that Samstiel dream.”

Sam shoots him a particularly withering bitchface before closing his laptop and coughing into his fist.

“I'm, uh-” Sam glances to the duffle bag hitched over his shoulder, “Actually just here to grab a few things.”

“Jody will be expecting you back soon.” Cas nods, as if this isn't brand new information for the group.

“Jody?” Dean raises his eyebrows, “Really?”

Sam cocks a small smirk before he turns and starts towards the garage. Raising an arm in farewell, he calls over his shoulder, “Have fun on your couple's getaway!”

Just like that, Dean’s reminded of his current predicament. He’s standing in the doorway of his bedroom, holding the hand of the best friend he just realized he's in love with, planning to pose as lovers in order to infiltrate a mountainside hippie commune, which may or may not be the hub of some serious supernatural shit.

He is so fucked.

Chapter Text

They arrive at the retreat around eight. It’s a quaint little place, about ten miles outside town. A collective of small log cabins set into the woods and centered about a hot spring.

The drive to the resort had been long and quiet. After a couple helpful texts from Sam—Pack bathing suits/Not everyone wants to see your bare ass/No groping in public—they had packed wordlessly and hit the road.

Dean had tried to talk; tried to discuss the case. Maybe make a joke or two. But he couldn’t do it. He’d glance over at Cas, hunched over his laptop and focused on the screen, and he’d lose his nerve. Just looking at the guy made him flood with all these stupid fucking feelings.

Now, sitting outside the reception cabin, he’s got to stow his crap. Dean needs to be professional and talk to Cas like a fucking man so they can solve this goddam case and get the hell out of here.

He can do this. He can pretend to be in love with his best friend while completely denying that he is actually in love with his best friend. For the case.

“What ya got there?” Dean tries, leaning over to take a look at what Cas has been reading.

Cas presses a button and the screen goes black. “Research,” he answers, shutting the laptop closed. He puts the computer into the bag at his feet and turns to Dean with a smile, “Ready to go in?”

At the sight of Cas’ smile, Dean’s heart melts a little. Dammit. Dean’s gonna need to buy a fucking training bra. All this estrogen; he’s turning into a lovely young woman.

Dean doesn’t trust himself to talk again, so he just plasters on a tight grin as he gets out of the car.

Inside the lobby, Creedence is pumping through the air. Dean nods his approval. It’s not something he would have expected from one of these hippie joints, but he digs it.

“You can examine the lobby for clues,” Cas whispers, “I’ll secure our room keys.”

Dean grabs a handful of pamphlets out of the lobby display while Cas waits in line at reception. He thumbs through them absently: on-site kenneling services; triple-filtered, desalinated hot tubs; guided, full moon nature walks; all that bullshit people love about spas. He chews his lip and twirls the gift shop stands. Wonders if the jewelry is real gold. Picks up and puts back down postcards showing happy people in stinking hot springs. He blows raspberries in time with the cowbell in Born on the Bayou.

The lobby is all of two hundred square feet and he’s done checking it before Cas even makes it to the front of the line. Dean decides to walk over and join him as he steps up to the desk.

The guy manning the reception is at least as tall as Sammy. He’s scruffy and just a little unkempt. He reminds Dean of a surfer dude. If surfer dudes were routinely eighty pounds overweight.

“Welcome to Glenwood Springs,” he says. “Do you have a reservation?”

Cas opens his mouth, but before he can answer, a hot brunette comes out of the back room all long legs and full lips and smacks Scruffy upside the head. “Do you mind shutting this shit off? If I have to listen to Fortunate Son one more time, I’m gonna jump out a window.”

“I’m sorry. Would you prefer some ‘Independent Woman’ music?” the dude air-quotes.

The brunette jabs a finger in the guy’s chest and hits him with a death glare. “Beyoncé is more woman than you could ever hope to be.”

“I’m a dude,” Tall Guy balks, “I don’t want to be more woman!”

“Excuse me,” Cas interrupts, “My name is Castiel May. I have a reservation with my partner, Dean Bulsara. We’re a couple.”

“Good for you,” Miss Independent snarks.

Dean tries not to choke on air.

“Are you a couple as well?” Cas asks.

“No.” Surfer Dude narrows his eyes and scoffs. “That’s my sister, Yvonne. I’m Bo.”

Dean flinches at the name and makes a mental note not to share food or drink with anyone; just in case.

“My apologies,” Cas says, “I was unaware. You look very dissimilar.”

Yvonne crosses her arms and turns to Cas for the first time. Dean thinks she’s probably used to making men wither in shame, judging by the contempt she packs behind the look.

“So do our parents. He looks like Mom; I look like Dad. Before you ask, yes, we’re full siblings. And no, I’m not Portuguese, not Greek, not ‘from’ anywhere. My heritage is American. Any other questions?”

Cas looks unperturbed. “Do you know which cabin we are in?”

Yvonne huffs and leaves the room in the flourish of an eye roll. Nick raises his shoulders in a silent gesture of what-can-you-do? He looks to his computer screen and pulls up their reservation. He takes a breath before launching into a practiced speech.

“You’re in 3B. It’s a private room in a shared cabin. Just up the hill, past the dining hall. Meals times are available in the welcome binder in your cabin. We’re all done activities for today, but there’s a sunrise hike tomorrow at five a.m. if you’re interested.”

Cas looks interested; Dean would rather be a demon again.

“If you need anything else,” Nick continues, passing Cas a set of keys, “Just dial zero to reach reception.”

With a curt thanks, Cas accepts the keys and they exit into the evening air. They grab their bags from the trunk and begin the short walk to their cabin.

Dean’s the first to break the silence. “You don’t have to keep telling people we’re a couple, Cas. It’s weird if you just go around announcing it.”

“How else will people here know that we are romantic partners?”

“We just have to do, you know, couple stuff.” Dean can feel the blush beginning to burn at his cheeks. “They’ll figure it out.”

“And what is appropriate ‘couple stuff?’” Cas asks.

Dean’s face ignites. “Uh, you know… being close to each other.”

“We've always been close.”

“Yeah, but, just— closer, Cas. I guess, um, hand-holding.” Dean looks at Cas’ hand hanging loose at his side; remembers how it felt wrapped around his own this morning; they way warmth had flooded Dean’s body at the touch. He looks away and rubs the back of his neck, trying to keep from reaching out. “And… stuff.”

“This embarrasses you.” Cas’ face falls. “Are you ashamed to be my romantic partner?”

“No! No, I’m not. Christ, I’m not ashamed, Cas. Just— I dunno, fuck. Just, act human.”

“Last time I was human, I was seduced and became homeless.”

Dean mentally smacks himself. He’s not ready to have that talk on top of this one. Time to switch tactics.

“So, Bulsara? Where’d you come up with that?”

Cas’ face brightens. “The birth name of Freddie Mercury,” he says, voice full of pride. “I’ve been doing research.”

Dean has to give it to him, the old angel is learning new tricks.

They arrive at the cabin and push into the living room. There’s already two dudes in the room. Dean looks them over; their new cabin mates are barely pushing thirty. One of them has dark, shaggy hair and what amounts to a cross between a poorly grown Amish neckbeard and an awkward teenage ‘stache. The other guy is rocking much more respectable facial hair, but his buzz cut is grown out to make him look more or less like a blonde chia pet. They look comfortable, wedged together on the cabin’s couch.

“Uh, hey.” Dean waves.

Chia Pet gets up off the couch and crosses the room to shake Dean’s hand, “Hey, I’m Elmo.”

“Elmo?” Dean scoffs, “Did your parents hate you or something?”

Elmo shrugs, before moving to shake Cas’ hand, “It’s Dutch.”

“First-gen immigrants, man,” Neckbeard pipes up from the couch. “Folks were just paying tribute to the Old Country. At least people have heard of his name. Try growing up as the only Vlatislav you’ve ever met.”

Cas hums in sympathy. “I can relate to having an unusual name bestowed by… unconventional parents.”

“Call me Tom,” Vlatislav says. At Dean’s eyebrow raise, he clarifies, “Middle name.”

“It's good to meet you,” Cas nods at the men, “Elmo. Tom.” He turns to Dean and lowers his voice, “I’m going to unpack in our room, and then I am going to have a shower.”

“Sure thing, buddy.”

Dean watches as Cas picks up their bags. He tries not to notice how firm Cas’ ass looks when he’s bent over like that. Dean always knew that Cas scored himself a nice meatsuit, but suddenly it does things to him. Or maybe it always did. He watches Cas walk down the hall until he’s out of sight, and then turns back to face his new roommates.

“You gonna hop in there with him?” Tom asks.

“Yeah man, no skin off our nose.” Elmo sits back down beside Tom, tossing an arm across the back of the couch. “This place is all about environmentalism and conserving resources and all that crap.”

Dean thinks about it. Should he join Cas? That’s probably something a real couple would do. It’s probably something Tom and Elmo do; probably why they suggested it. They’ll be suspicious if Dean doesn’t go, and he doesn’t want to blow their cover this early on the case. Besides, it’s not like dudes can’t shower together in totally platonic ways; sports teams do it all the time.

“Um, yeah. Sure,” Dean decides. “I’ll, uh— I’ll just go join my... Cas. Now.”

Dean nods and throws the guys a thumbs-up before turning and heading down the hallway after Cas.

He makes it to the door and pauses with his hand on the knob; takes a moment to breathe and convince himself that, yes, this is totally OK. Then he turns the handle and steps into the bathroom.

Cas is already in the shower, turned away from him and lathering his hair. It’s one of those high-class, froofy set ups with the open, walk-in concept and rainfall showerhead; Dean’s favorite. He coughs awkwardly to announce his presence.

“Dean.” Cas’ hands still mid-lather.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean squeaks, cool as a cucumber, “‘S’no big deal if I join you, right?”

"Of course." Cas turns to face him with a smile. “You know I always appreciate our time together.”

Dean allows himself a split-second to take in the view. Cas’s fashioned himself a fantastic shampoo fauxhawk. His body looks as good as ever, glistening under the spray of water. And is that—? Yup. Cas is sporting a big ol' erection.

Dean snaps his eyes up to the ceiling and tries to think of anything but getting on his knees to beg at Cas’ feet for a taste of his skin. Does he even like dick? There’s only one way to find out— No. Goddammit. Keep it together, Winchester. He is not doing this right now.

"You can deal with that if you need to,” Dean quirks his head down and shrugs, as if acknowledging the raging hard-on of your naked best friend is no big deal. “I don't mind."

“Hm?” Cas glances down at himself and frowns, "Oh. That doesn't happen often. I usually just ignore it until it passes.”

“You don’t,” Dean waves a hand aimlessly, “take care of it?”

Cas shifts on his feet; avoids looking at Dean. “Ever since the unfortunate consequences of my encounter with April, indulging in carnal intimacies has seemed… dangerous.”

His tone doesn't waver, but the embarrassment and pain evident in Cas’ body language breaks Dean’s heart.

“Yeah.” Dean steps closer. He keeps his voice soft, afraid to upset Cas further, "That was a pretty shitty way to pop your cherry. But... it's not always like that."

"Isn't it?" Cas asks, swinging his head to pin Dean with a narrow glare. “How successful have your sexual encounters been, Dean? Since I've met you, you've slept with Anna, who became an angel, went insane, and died at Michael's hand.”

Cas steps closer, his voice rising, “You lived with Lisa and Ben for over a year before uprooting their lives, abandoning them, and forcing me to wipe their memories.”

Dean puts his hands up between them in silent defense.

"Gotta be quiet, Cas,” he begs, hoping to calm his friend. “The sound carries."

Cas ignores him and starts ticking up fingers, listing Dean’s failures one by one. “While waiting to fornicate with a bartender, you were abducted by Osiris and forced to stand trial and defend your life. You impregnated an Amazon. Then, what Sam did to the offspring—"

"Did Sam tell you—"

"Oh no,” Cas juts out his chin, “I won’t even begin to discuss Sam's abysmal romantic record."

"I wasn't talking about—"

"And look at me!” Cas’s eyes are wild; his face flushed. “Meg is dead, Dean. She cared for me, risked her life for me, and Crowley killed her. Don't think you could hide that from me. And April? She tried to kill me! She did kill me! I was only saved by your lies. I can't afford to—"

"Stop." Not caring that he’s fully clothed, Dean steps close and grabs Cas at the upper arms. "Cas, You gotta stop."

Cas flinches at the touch. He stares down at Dean’s hands, stunned.

“It’s not always gonna be like that, Cas.” Dean starts running his hands up and down Cas’ arms, trying to soothe him. “There’s gonna be good times. You gotta believe me.”

“You can’t promise that.”

“No,” Dean agrees, “But, if the shitty stuff is gonna happen anyway, maybe it’s OK to grab a little happiness first.”

Cas looks up with wide, wet eyes, “Does it make you happy, Dean?”

“I—” Deans voice catches in his throat; he swallows, licks his lips, and restarts, “I think it could, Cas.”

“I’m an angel, Dean. I’m afraid of what these feelings mean. I’m trying but… I’m afraid of losing control.”

Dean’s heart clenches and his stomach drops. He’s suddenly very aware of his hands still stroking Cas’ arms.

“What if—” Dean starts, a half-formed idea in his head. “What if I helped?”

Cas just stares at him.

“I mean, I’m a hunter right? I could, you know, stand guard. Make sure you get what you need without any of the bad stuff happening.”

“You would assist me with my,” Cas glances towards his now-limp crotch, “exploration?”

Dean winces at the words and tries not to think about how he’s basically hearing the opening lines from a half-dozen different pornos. Although, considering he’s pretty much offering to help his very naked, very soapy, very wet best friend jerk off…

“Yeah, buddy,” Dean aims for a cocky smirk, but probably lands about fifty thousand yards left of it, smack-dab in lovesick grin territory, “anything you need.”

“Perhaps you could instruct me.” Cas steps impossibly closer, ghosting breath across Dean’s jaw. “You’ve always been a great teacher; a role model for humanity.”

Dean feels a lump form in his throat and lets his grip squeeze into Cas’ taut muscles. The part of his brain that’s supposed to tell him this is a very bad idea shuts down, and Dean’s left overcome by want. He surges forward against Cas, pushes them fully under the spray of the shower; lets the water rinse the soap out of Cas’ hair and down his warm, hard body.

“I can show you.” Dean spins Cas in his arms; pulls Cas’ naked back flush against his clothed chest. “Show you how good it can be.”

He smooths his hands down Cas’ chest, runs them over his firm stomach, lets them rest on his perfect fucking hipbones. He hooks his chin over Cas’ shoulder and whispers in his ear, “Put you hands under mine, just like at the bar.”

Cas obeys and Dean moves their joined hands in tandem.

“I’m gonna teach you how to play, Cas.” Dean ignores the way his own cock twitches at Cas’ surprised moan. “You want that?”

Cas pushes his cheek again Dean’s and he feels more than sees Cas’ eager nod.

“Remember what I taught you?” Dean asks, placing Cas’ right hand over his rapidly hardening cock and letting the other gently cup his balls. “You need to be gentle, Cas.”

Cas shudders as Dean closes their hands around the base of his cock and takes one long, slow stroke along the shaft, covering the head with their cupped hands. A soft whimper escapes Cas' lips as he tips his head back to lean against Dean’s shoulder.

Dean lets his breath run along the shell of Cas’ ear. “Feel how delicate that was?”

“Yes,” Cas pants. Dean moves their hands in a tortuous downstroke and Cas lets out another wanton moan. He pushes his head and ass back against Dean, arching his back. “Dean, please.”

“Oh, buddy.” Dean chuckles, low and breathless. “We’re just getting started.”

Cas bites down on his bottom lip and hisses an inhale of breath. He twists under their hands; thrusts his hips in a futile attempt to gain more friction.

“Dean, please.” Cas repeats. “I’m close.”

“Not yet." Dean lifts his left hand and places it firmly against Cas’ stomach in an effort to still his movements. He nuzzles at Cas’ temple and speaks into his damp hair, "Hold on for me.”

Cas lets out a petulant whine but stops trying to thrust into their combined fist.

“Good boy.” Dean rewards Cas by tightening their grip and quickening the pace. “How does that feel, Cas? Tell me how it feels.”

“So good.” Cas' eyes are shut and his face is slack. “So good, Dean.”

Dean twists at the head of Cas’ cock. He loosens his hold on Cas’ hand just enough to slip a finger through the precome beading at the tip. Cas gasps at the touch, sending a pulse of heat to Dean’s own erection.

Dean’s cock strains painfully hard against the wet, chafing fabric of his jeans. Whoever invented denim should rot in a fiery pit. Dean pushes thoughts of his own pleasure out of mind. This is about Cas; about teaching him that good things do happen.

“Dean.” Cas keens, breathless. “I can’t— I can’t.”

Dean wants to make this last; wants to savor the feel of Cas hard and wanting beneath his hands; but he won’t be that selfish. He drops his hands away from Cas and takes a half-step back.

“Turn around, Cas.” Dean instructs. “Show me what you learned.”

Cas does as he’s told, turning in front of Dean and leaning back against the slippery tiles. He locks eyes with Dean and grips his cock in both hands. He only gets two good, hard strokes in before he’s crying out and coming all over himself.

It takes everything Dean has to stop himself from coming right along with him.

In the aftermath, Cas slumps against the tiles, sated and spent. He stares at Dean with clouded eyes for what might be forever, a satisfied grin on his lips, before finally coming back to himself. He sweeps his eyes across Dean’s still-clothed form.

“You’re wet," he concludes.

Dean huffs a laugh. Nothing gets by this guy.

“Happens when you’re in a shower, Cas.”

“Humans typically bathe nude.”

“I ain’t typical.”

“No,” Cas agrees, grin slipping into something softer, “you aren’t.”

Dean brushes a wet curl of hair back from Cas’ forehead; stops himself from pressing a kiss to his brow. “Go warm up in bed. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Cas offers a sleepy smile, “Thank you, Dean.”

The moment Cas exits the room, Dean shucks off his soaked clothes and takes his achingly hard cock in hand. He’s shocked as hell that he didn’t lose his load right there in his pants. Cas moaning and writhing against him; it took Dean thinking of every eviscerated body he’d ever seen just to keep from coming in his pants.

Now, he lets his hand work himself fast and hard. Enjoys the sensation of warm water trickling over his heated skin. Lets his mind wander to the most delicious places it can.

He imagines every touch he wants to steal from Cas. Thinks about being able to make Cas arch his beautiful body beneath him; to help pull wordless cries from his lips; to feel the strain of his muscles as he spills his release.

It only takes a moment before Dean’s tensing up. He throws out an arm to brace himself against the wall and watches as his orgasm pulses across the tiles.

Dean shuts his eyes and allows his breath to shudder back to a resting rate. He shuts off the water and prepares to go find their bedroom.

 


 

When he enters the room, he’s unsurprised to find Cas sitting on the edge of the bed, fully clothed.

Dean trades his towel for a pair of fresh boxers and shuts off the overhead light. He crosses the room under moonlight and climbs into the unoccupied side of the bed. As he settles under the sheets, he has a selfish idea.

“You should try lying down with me,” Dean suggests. “In case Tom or Elmo come in. Don’t want to blow our cover.”

Dean holds his breath while he waits for a response. He thinks he’s about to pass out when he feels Cas start to get off the bed.

“Of course, Dean.”

Dean can’t see anything, but he imagines a smile on Cas' lips anyway.

“And, uh,” Dean pushes his luck, “people don’t usually sleep in their clothes. So you should probably lose those.”

Dean hears the rustle of Cas taking off his jacket, the zip of his pants, the soft whoosh of the clothes hitting the floor. When Cas lifts the blankets to join him, Dean tells himself that he’s shuddering from the cold and not anticipation.

A sudden thought hits Dean.

“Why are you showering, anyway?” Dean asks, “I didn’t think angels needed to do that.”

“The same reason I’ve been sharing meals,” Cas whispers, “I’m learning to enjoy pleasurable experiences.”

Cas settles beside Dean and the room falls silent. Dean lets the comfort of the moment seep into his bones. On the verge of sleep, in the place between awake and dreaming, he imagines soft fingers stroking through his hair.

Chapter Text

“Egg white omelets, low-fat green tea lattes, fucking grapefruit flavored agave,” Dean mutters to the room at large as he loads his plate in the mess hall. He frowns down at the pitiful assortment of grub. Of all the things he’s had to sacrifice to save the world from evil, giving up his warrior food is definitely in the top three. Dean picks up the bottle of agave and inspects the ingredient list, “How the fuck’s a man supposed to live without sugar in his coffee and bacon in his belly?”

“Personally, I prefer honey,” Cas pipes up and Dean nearly jumps out of his skin. Even without his wings, Cas retains to ability to materialize from the ether and scare the shit out of him.

“Heya, Cas,” Dean turns, “Why don’t you warn a guy before giving him a heart attack?”

Without acknowledging the greeting, Cas takes the bottle from Dean’s hand, allowing their fingers a moment to brush together. Dean tries really, really hard not to think about the last time their hands cupped together like that. He doesn’t need a boner at the breakfast table.

“At least, theoretically,” Cas continues. He drops a dollop of the sweetener onto his finger and sucks at the tip. His eyelids fall shut and he hums in thought before slowly removing his finger from his mouth and looking back towards Dean. “In practice, it all tastes like molecules.”

Dean’s traitorous mind wonders what other things Cas would be willing to put in his mouth and suddenly he’s at Boner Alert Status Red. Willing to do desperate things to salvage the situation, he imagines ugly old witches, Bobby in a bikini, and the unmitigated horror of an iPod dock in his beloved Baby.

In a last ditch effort, he takes a bite of his egg white omelet. It tastes like disappointment. He grimaces and chokes it down, “I think I know what you mean. I might as well be eating unflavored air.”

Dean drops his fork to his plate in disgust and, needing some reassurance that there are still good things left in the world, risks looking at Cas. The risk pays off when Cas’ slow, gummy grin spreads across his face.

“Good morning, Dean.”

The warmth of Cas’ voice saying his name floods his body and Dean finds himself less upset about the ri-goddamn-diculous breakfast options that he’s being forced to endure.

“Morning Cas.”

Dean’s heart stutters to a stop as Cas reaches out to brush a stray piece of egg that rests a mere fraction of an inch from Dean’s lips.

“I think, typically, food is meant to be in your mouth, not on your face.” Cas’ grin graduates to a full smile and his places a hand on the small of Dean's back, “Would you like to sit and eat? I’d be happy to keep you company.”

The prospect of being allowed to simply sit and share in Cas' company once again is incredibly tempting. Dean struggles to remind himself that they're only playing pretend at this couple business. They're meant to be here investigating whatever the fuck is going on, not living in Dean's fantasy land.

“Nah man, this food isn’t fit for a garbage disposal.” Dean summarily dumps his compostable paper plate into the organic green bin and starts towards the exit. “I’ll just tuck into the quality goods I’ve got packed in my duffle.”

Dean makes for the door, but the way out is blocked by Bo, replete with an armful of brochures. Annoyed that his retreat has been delayed, Dean isn't subtle about giving him the once-over. The dude looks like he's never even heard of an iron and he smells like stale cereal. Where'd the guy find carbs in this dump? Dean wants in on his stash.

“Good morning, Mr. Bulsara. I trust you enjoyed sleeping in?”

Dean shoots a sideways glance at Cas. Why the hell does this dude care about his sleeping habits?

“Bo was the guide for this morning’s hike,” Cas informs him.

Dean nods as if that answers anything.

“Would you like a copy of today’s itinerary?” Bo asks while handing a pamphlet to each of them, “We have several other discovery activities that I think you’d enjoy, Castiel.”

Dean shoots Cas a second, more urgent look. He mouths, “Castiel?”

“Yes, I think I would enjoy them as well,” Cas responds, ignoring Dean.

Dean watches Bo lead Cas to a table covered in brightly colored flyers. So, Cas goes on one sunrise walk with a dude and suddenly they’re best buddies on a first name basis. Whatever, it’s not like Cas can’t have friends. He can have a hundred best friends, for all Dean cares. He tries to ignore the heat of jealousy that pools in the pit of his stomach. So what if Dean thought maybe he was the only dude that Cas wanted to be very good friends with? Now Dean's glad the food tastes like shit, ‘cause he just lost his appetite.

Cas wanders back over—sans best buddy Bo—with his head hunched over a stack of printouts. Dean wonders if any of the activities involve booze. He could use a drink.

“You like that Bo guy?” Dean asks as they exit the mess hall.

“Of course. He’s helpful and pleasant. Dean, what’s TLC?”

“It’s a TV channel that plays those makeover and wedding shows and shit. So you like people who are pleasant and helpful?”

“It’s not a requirement. His sister is more the surly type, but I like her too. She reminds me of you.” Cas squints at the brochure, “Why would a brownie be baked with a makeover show?”

“Oh.” Dean glances away to avoid letting Cas see his sudden blush, “TLC is short for ‘tender loving care.’ Probably just home-baked is all.”

“And what is TH— Oh, Bo's instructing a Bikram yoga class in the activities cabin in fifteen minutes. That could be interesting.”

“I dunno, Cas. I’m not really that bendy,” Dean protests, but they’ve already begun to move towards the cabin.

“It’s about more than being bendy, Dean,” Cas explains, “There’s a surprising intimacy to be found in the self-reflective aspects of the practice.”

Dean swallows instinctively at the mention of intimacy. “Since when are you up to speed on all this new age mumbo jumbo?”

They step into a room laid out with yoga mats and Dean scopes a spot where he can keep a good swivel on the rest of the granola types that are trickling in.

“Spiritual and meditative practices hardly belong to the new age, Dean. The origins of yoga likely date back to pre-Vedic—“

“You know what, forget I asked.” Dean claps his hands together and leans over to start unlacing his work boots. “Let’s just do this thing.”

“I don’t think people usually perform yoga in denim, Dean.”

“It’ll be fine, Cas.”

 


 

Ten minutes in, Dean’s in the Warrior Whatever-The-Fuck pose and the heat is unbearable. What sane human needs to set up a giant fucking sauna just to stretch? Bo keeps babbling on about how he’s supposed to relax and breathe and thank himself for loving himself. Instead, he has the overwhelming urge to hurl.

He needs to do that Squatting Baby shit that Bo told them about real quick or he’s gonna lose his cookies. Dean crawls down onto his hands and knees, then pushes his arms out in front of him and sits his ass back on his heels. He feels a little better, but he’s still gasping for breath as the sweat pours down his nose and forearms.

Bo comes over and lays a hand on Dean’s back, slowly rubbing along his spine. Miraculously, it feels cool and soothing. Dean lays his forehead on the mat and groans into the floor.

“Dean?” Cas whispers from his position beside him, “Are you all right?”

Dean twists to the side and cracks a single eye open. He takes in the look on Cas’ face, but it's indecipherable. There’s the usual intensity and that unwavering concern and compassion that Cas makes a habit of wasting on Dean, but there’s also something more behind the look. Dean thinks he might recognize it from the mirror; that carefully suppressed fear and anxiety that surfaces when he’s about to lose everything he loves. But, what could scare Cas like that?

Bo pushes the heel of his hand into the tightened muscles of Dean's lower back and a low moan of relief escapes his throat. Cas’ eyes widen and snap over to where Bo’s hand rests. The increased intensity of Cas’ look coincides with Dean’s simultaneous realization that the placement is precariously close to his butt. Oh, so that’s what this is about. Cas really does like this pleasant, helpful douchebag.

Dean Upward-Dogs his way away from Bo and hops up onto his feet, gathering his pile of crap into his arms. Cas drops his own pose and moves to stand at Dean’s shoulder. Dean directs his attention away from Cas’ clinging, sweat-soaked clothes and focuses all his frustration on Bo.

"Look, buddy, I don't swing that way”

“Excuse me?” Bo asks.

"Dean,” Cas warns.

"I mean, yeah, obviously I swing, ya know,” Dean gestures between himself and Cas, “this way.”

Dean,” Cas tries to steer Dean away by his elbow. They make it about two steps away before Dean shakes him off, nearly dropping half his shit. Cas focuses his full attention on Dean, “What is your issue?”

“Nothing. I’m fine,” Dean lies, “Why would you give a shit, anyway?”

“You’re my partner, Dean.” Cas glances backwards over his shoulder and then leans in close, “I’m supposed to give lots of shits about you.”

Right, of course. Cas is just doing what he’s supposed to do. Play up the whole ‘couple’ thing so they don’t get found out. Well, whatever. Couples don’t have to hold hands twenty-four-seven. Dean’s gonna bounce out of here before his stupid real feelings blow this whole case.

“I said I’m fine, Cas. I just don't buy in for all this feel goodery hippie crap.” He points back to the twisted yogi bears, “You guys go ahead and keep realizing your inner chakra or whatever it is you do, and I'll be in the Jacuzzi enjoying the bubbles."

Cas holds Dean’s gaze for another moment, then nods slowly, “OK.”

 


 

After a beautiful afternoon monitoring suspicious activity from the comfort of a hot tub and seeing absolutely bupkis, Dean decides he should make his way back to the cabin. The sun has already set by the time he pulls his wrinkly, wet ass out of the bubbles. He has to admit, the bubbles were glorious. Dean makes a mental note to pack swim trunks for all his hunts.

He wraps a towel around his waist and jams his feet back into his boots. He’ll have to dry them out later. He should probably add flip flops to that future packing list. Where do you buy those things anyway? Doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you’d want to pick up from the Sally A. Maybe Walmart sells ‘em. He’ll have to check.

Dean shuffles towards the sleeping cabins as a pounding bass wafts through the air. He cringes at the sound. Someone has completely fucked over the EQ on whatever sound system they’re using. They’re probably gonna blow their speakers. He strains to make out lyrics over the thumping subwoofer; So much pressure in this life of mine, I cry at times. I once contemplated suicide, and woulda tried—

The volume that hits his chest when he opens the door to his cabin is like a physical assault. It would seem Cas is no longer limiting his love of gangsta rap to the confines of his Continental.

“Dean! I’m glad you’re back.” Cas’ smile is luminous and beautiful - because Dean is apparently a poetic sap when he’s in love.

“He’s been listening to this on repeat for an hour,” Tom adds from his reclined position on the couch. Dean hadn’t even noticed him laying there. His attention was elsewhere.

Cas’ smile drops and he leans into Dean’s space with a solemn expression, “This Tupac person and I have had much in common.”

Dean listens to another verse. They'd rather see us locked in chains, please explain why they can't stand us, is there a way for me to change? Or am I just a victim of things I did to maintain?

Yeah, Dean can see why this music appeals to Cas.

“I bought you a treat today to make up for all the health food,” Cas says as he passes Dean a brownie. “I know you don’t care for cake, but this isn’t really cake, and they didn’t have pie. They also used rhyming ingredients, which is amusing to me.”

Dean looks at the baked good in his hand, then takes in Cas’ rumpled look, the slow sway of his movements, the slight dilation of his pupils. Holy shit. Cas is high.

“Hey Cas, what did you say this brownie was made with?”

“TLC and THC, my man,” Tom says as he gets up off the couch. He pats Dean on the shoulder on the way to his room, “Welcome to Colorado.”

“That’s right,” Cas confirms, “the brownies are made with both tender loving care and tetrahydrocannabinol. They are very delicious and they make my legs heavy.”

Dean can’t help but laugh. Looks like they're off the clock tonight. He bites into his brownie and wonders how his life has boiled down to eating pickle chips with Death and getting high with entities taller than the Chrysler building.

Tom comes out of his room with a guitar in his hands. “I’m heading out. Elmo’s already over at Bo's cabin. We’re gonna hang and play music, if you want to join.”

Dean shakes his head and Tom heads for the door with a silent wave. Cas shoots Tom a wink as he goes and Dean has a flashback to a Cas who believed in a surprisingly physical shared perception.

“You could go,” Dean says, “If you want. I know you like Bo.”

“I like Bo,” Cas says. He slides onto the floor and leans over the coffee table; picks up a bowl of decorative pine cones and starts inspecting them one-by-one. “I like you more.”

Dean tries not to remember more of the last time he witnessed Castiel cross-legged and high on a cabin floor. Everything about this moment is so much different. Cas isn’t a shell of an angel, and he’s not the shell of a man. They’re a little bent, sure, but not broken. Not yet.

He lets a soft feeling wash over him and joins Cas on the floor.

“I’m glad you ate the brownie, Dean. And spent time in the hot springs. There are few comforts you allow yourself these days.” Cas picks brownie crumbs up with his thumb and sucks them off with loud, smacking sounds. “Did you enjoy the shower yesterday?”

Dean considers lying, but he’s not sure Cas will remember this conversation anyway, so he tells the truth, “More than anything.”

Cas holds his hands in front of him, turning them over slowly. Back. Front. Back. Front. He starts singing, low, “Ain't no place I'd rather be, chillin' with homies and family.” He rolls onto his side and looks up at Dean.

“I thought I was happy. Before.” Cas places his hand over Dean’s shoulder. Fits it over where he first touched him. Where he dragged him from hell. It feels warm and sad. “I wasn’t.”

Dean’s chest tightens. He waits for Cas to tell him why he misses Heaven. Why he hates life on Earth. Hates life with Dean. But, he doesn’t.

"Do you know what it's like, Dean?" Cas tilts his head and bursts into giggles, "Of course you don't. You never said 'Yes.'"

“Cas—”

“I was happy in that shower.”

Dean can't help staring. The way Cas' gums show and his eyes crinkle at the edges; his laugh is the most beautiful thing Dean's ever seen. He wants to run his fingers over the skin of Cas' neck, wants to feel the pulse of him when he's happy. He could do that. He could make Cas happy. He could also really go for a Skor bar. Do they even make those anymore? Maybe Cas would like one too. Dean thinks Cas would really like Skor bars. It would probably make him happy and then Dean could touch him the way he can't admit that he wants.

"Cas," Dean starts, but then Cas falls into his side and his shirt rides up a little at the back and Dean sees the peek of skin and he's not sure he can remember what he was going to say anymore.

"Dean." Cas says the word low and serious, but Dean can feel the laughter behind it. Cas' breath is hot against Dean's skin. It smells like chocolate with a faint hint of weed, but Dean can't help thinking that it probably tastes like molecules.

"Dean," Cas repeats. Less fake-serious, more real-sad. "Was it worth it?"

Dean's lost track of the conversation. Weren't they talking about chocolate? "Was what worth it?"

"All of this. No Heaven. No Hell. Just more of the same."

Cas buries his head into Dean's chest and Dean allows himself to finally test if Cas' hair is as soft as it looks. He runs his fingers through gently. Plays with the curls behind Cas' ears. Tucks the fine hair carefully back. Cas fists his hand into Dean's jacket and hums into his t-shirt.

"Yeah," Dean answers, "it was worth it."

"Good." Cas' voice is muffled by fabric and Dean can feel the way the words are formed by Cas' mouth. It feels good.

“Hey Cas?”

“Mhm.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Hrmph?”

“Sticking with me.”

Cas raises his head from Dean’s chest and twists his face into a confused scrunch, “You’re my partner, Dean.”

“No, yeah, I know, but—” Dean tries to explain, but his thoughts are impossible to chase. He wants to know what Cas sees in him. Why he’s worth being with. Why he wishes that this wasn’t pretend. He just can’t find the right words to make Cas understand. They crash around him, dark and meaningful, but he can’t reach out and grab them before they float away.

He settles on pulling Cas back towards him and letting the two of them drift off to sleep.