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a drabble a day

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester was not repressed.

Not really.

Repressed implied a lack of awareness about what you were pushing down, that you’d thrown a sheet over the elephant in the room with your eyes screwed tightly shut before proceeding to ignore its presence, not willing to even think of acknowledging its specific shape and colour.

Dean knew exactly what his specific elephant looked like. He’d known long before he had thrown his sheet over, had even been okay with it. Okay with it, right up until the moment his father realised, until the moment he felt the ever-tight grip of his John Winchester's right hand burning on his shoulder as the left handed him the sheet and his eyes met a steely glare daring him to challenge the unspoken order and find out exactly what would happen.

So, no, Dean didn't tend to think of himself as repressed. He was just shoved so far deep in the closet that he may as well be in fucking Narnia.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Cas missed the days he didn’t need sleep.

Not always. Not enough to regret the choices he’d made, the ones that lead to him ultimately giving up the last of his grace and embracing humanity, for all its inherent flaws and weaknesses.

Just sometimes.

He missed the nights where he could sit by his hunter's side, guarding him till morning, ensuring no harm would come to either him or his brother.

He missed being able to revel in the peace Dean exuded when he was at rest, something he rarely got to experience or cherish while awake.

And he missed the fondness in Dean’s eyes as the hunter protested that it was ‘friggin' creepy man, you’re acting like Edward or whatever that sparkly fuck from Twilights name is, just let me sleep in peace.’

But other times, when he felt himself slipping into the now-familiar darkness brought on by sleep, surrounded by the warmth of the duvet and Dean’s embrace, he knew that he’d traded the sleepless nights for something much, much better.

Chapter Text

“Cas?”

“Yeah?”

“…Why is there a box of kittens on the back seat of Baby?”

“…”

“Cas, you remember how allergies work, right? Like, the thing where cat fur makes me sneezy and miserable to be around?”

“I found them on the side of the road.”

“And you couldn’t take them to a shelter?”

“The nearest shelter had far too many animals, I didn’t want to overload them with more by giving them a litter of kittens when the animals they have are already going unadopted.”

“Cas, they’re kittens. Everyone loves kittens!! They’d be adopted in no time.”

“But what if the family that ends up adopting one of them would’ve otherwise gotten an older cat, one that’s lived at the shelter far longer?”

“If they’re looking for a kitten and don’t find one at the first shelter they visit, they’ll go to more. Kittens aren’t exactly in short supply.”

“But then surely there are too many kittens for the number of people looking to adopt one, and some of these kittens would’ve missed out on being adopted?”

“…”

“Also, just before I left them outside the shelter door, one of them looked up at me and meowed. It was… disarmingly adorable.”

“Oh my god, Cas—”

“I named them Snowflake. Partially because they’re white and partially because they had a snowflake on their nose when I found them.”

“We’re never going to be able to get rid of them, are we. You’ll look at me sadly whenever I suggest we adopt one out to people we meet on hunts and I’ll give in every goddamn time.”

“I know that having 5 cats isn’t exactly sustainable, Dean, we can adopt some of them out. But keeping one around could be. Nice.”

"Mew?"

“…I’ll invest in some allergy meds.”

Chapter Text

It took Dean a while to truly realise the damage John Winchester had had on his whole mental… situation.

Hell, some parts of him still couldn’t fully blame the man for his actions. Dean didn’t think anyone could be expected to parent effectively after a demon pinned their wife on a ceiling to murder her in a fiery blaze.

But John still could’ve done better. Should have tried to, been slightly less focused on his revenge quest and more focused on making sure Dean didn’t have to shoplift just to keep his 11-year-old brother fed on a regular basis.

Shouldn’t have been so harsh on Dean every time he messed up as a child, to the point where even now, the thought of Sam getting so much as a papercut due to Dean’s mistakes seemed unforgivable.

Shouldn’t have taught Dean to repress his emotions at almost any cost, especially ones that he could be seen as ‘weak’ for.

And shouldn’t have made Dean feel like the only way to survive was to shove an entire half of his sexuality away from any potentially prying eyes, as if the worst crime he could possibly commit was falling in love with a guy.

He was still having a little trouble unlearning that one, unsurprisingly, but he would get there.

Eventually.

For Cas’ sake, if not his own.

Chapter Text

Dean wasn’t sure why he was so nervous.

Ok, that was a lie. He knew exactly-fuckin-why he was so nervous, and while he was pretty sure his worries were completely unfounded, he didn’t think anyone would begrudge him for having them.

Things had been planned out to a T, every possible interruption he could think of planned for, from traffic delays to an unexpected hunt, and Sammy had smiled at him encouragingly before heading to his room in the bunker to give Dean and Cas some privacy for the evening.

Sometimes Dean wonders what his past self would think about where he ended up. The him that had been so terrified Sam would leave him completely alone again, like their dad did, despite all the hunting they’d done since Jess’ death. The him that wasn’t yet ready to acknowledge what the fluttering he felt in his chest around certain other guys meant. The him that had no idea that in just a few short years, he’d meet and fall in love with an angel that literally dragged him out from the depths of Hell, and all the chaos that followed.

It didn’t really matter what his past self would think, though. Current him was happy, despite all the loss he’d faced in his life, and goddammit if he wasn’t gonna grip onto that happiness with all the force he could muster in order to keep it in the here and now, because he fucking deserved it. He deserved happiness, even with all the shit he’d done in the past. Cas had taught him that.

And as he shoved his hand in his pocket again, nervously checking for the familiar shape and weight of the ring box, Dean smiled.

He had a feeling Cas would be reminding him of exactly how happy they both deserved to be very, very soon.

Chapter Text

It was still dark out when Dean woke up.

That fact alone wasn’t exactly unusual, per se. As a hunter, you got pretty used to waking up at the most random of times, and that was only compounded by the presence of a baby in your life.

What was unusual was the fact that Dean wasn’t entirely sure why he’d woken up in the first place. He was in the bunker, not a motel, so the likelihood of an unexpected attack was as low as it really could be, considering everything. He hadn’t had a nightmare, hadn’t dreamt at all as far as he could remember, and there wasn’t the now-familiar wail of an awake and upset baby echoing through the bunker. Cas’s side of the bed was empty, but the angel kept odd enough hours that Dean doubted that that alone had been enough to rouse him, especially as it felt cold enough to signify that it had been a while since he’d gotten up.

With all the usual culprits ruled out, Dean sat up and swung his legs off the side of the bed, forcing himself out of the warm comfort the bed covers provided. He could hear the faint murmur of noise from across the hall, in Jack’s room, and he wouldn’t be surprised to find Cas had spent the last few hours in there, watching over Jack sleeping with the same intensity he used to reserve for Dean and Dean alone.

Dean didn’t exactly mind sharing that intensity as much as he used to think he would. Things were different when the person you were sharing things like that with was your son in every way that mattered.

He padded out of the room quietly, leaning against the door frame as he observed his angel interact with Jack.

Cas had pulled him out of the crib, likely to forestall any cries he otherwise would have made upon waking. He had a bottle in one hand, and was cradling Jack with the other, looking down at him fondly as wide eyes blinked back up at him. Now that Dean was closer, he could identify the noise as Cas humming softly as Jack fed, and a soft grin spread across his face as he observed he quiet moment.

It only took a few seconds for Dean to cross the room and wrap a gentle arm around Cas’s middle, careful not to jostle Jack as he hooked his chin over the angel’s shoulder. Although he hated waking up in the middle of the night, he wouldn’t trade these quiet moments with his family for anything.

Chapter Text

Dean wasn’t quite sure what he expected to find in Cas’ room after the angel asked him to swing by, but it certainly wasn’t this.

Cas was sat awkwardly on the bed, his normally hidden wings splayed out behind him, with a pile of dark feathers scattered across the ground. He had his back to the door, and despite being contorted in such a way that the top half of his body was almost facing Dean, it was clear that he had no idea that the hunter had arrived. Instead, all his attention was focused very intently on his wings.

“Uhh— Cas? You okay?”

Chapter Text

“Dad’s on a hunting trip, and he hasn’t been home for a few days”

“What are you— Dad? Since when are you in contact with Dad?!”

“…”

“Oh Dean, tell me you didn’t—”

“What was I supposed to do, Sammy? He called me up after you left for college and fuckin guilt-tripped me into coming back to hunt with him whenever he needed a second pair of hands!”

“But— you got out! You got out before I did! Why would you—”

“Why would I go back to our transphobic asshole of a father? Why do you think, Sammy? I thought— he said— he made me think he would remain open-minded enough that one day I might have a parent who was proud of me, who accepted me for who I am. And then every time I tried to leave again after that, he managed to pull me back in with his bullshit about family and trust and obedience because despite everything I’ve done, everything I’ve worked to change in my life, some part of me is always going to be that scared little girl who can’t man up enough to even suggest the possibility of getting a pixie cut to her father. And I hate it. But it’s true.”

“God, Dean, if I’d had any idea— if I’d even had an inkling he’d try to pull you back in I never would’ve left without warning you. Even if only by telling you to change your number. I just thought after the way things went down when you ended up leaving—”

“Yeah. I did too.”

Chapter Text

The two of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn’t find themselves on dates that often.

Oh, sure, there are nights spent on the living room couch, cuddled together closely enough that Sammy will ignore the ever-present urge to annoy his brother in favour of leaving to any place where he isn’t a third wheel. And there are quiet mornings spent together, arms slung around waists while breakfast sizzles away in a pan, ignored in favour of the soft press of lips to skin.

But normal dates?  Dinner-and-a-movie or picnics-in-the-park or really any stereotypical date-like situation that isn’t somehow related to catching and killing the monster of the week? They just didn’t have the time for them, between all the world-saving and monster-hunting and apocalypse-averting they’d had to do.

Perhaps that’s why, when Sam had shoved them out of the bunker with the insistence that they ‘take some time off, seriously, you guys are so overworked it’s stressing me out,’ Dean hadn’t protested as much as he probably should have. They might’ve stopped the world from ending multiple different ways now, but the work was never truly finished, and some small part of him would always rankle at the thought of leaving Sam in the bunker to research cases alone.

But as he walked through the gardens Cas had pulled them into, the familiar weight of the angel’s hand solid against his own, and admired the brightness of his partners face, he realised that in this moment, he truly had no cares in the world.

Chapter Text

“Cas?” Dean called, staring bewildered at the small packet in his hand. “What is this?”

The two of them were together in their current hotel room, getting ready for a morning intel meeting with Sam. The latest case wasn’t as catastrophic as some were, but they were looking to bust the spirit sooner rather than later.

“What is what?”

Rather than answering, Dean held the packet up for Cas’ perusal, and was somewhat surprised to find that the ex-angel’s face brightened in recognition.

“Oh! That’s one of my HotHands.”

That… didn’t really clear things up for Dean.

“Hot hands?”

“They’re a brand of hand warmers.”

“Wait— you use hand warmers?!

Now Cas was wearing his ‘I’m confused about why you’re confused’ face, and Dean felt a little bad for putting it there.

“Since falling, I’ve found that my hands feel noticeably cold in un-ideal moments. So, I started buying hand warmers to counteract that issue. Is something… weird about that?”

Cas’ eyes really were impossibly wide and blue in moments like these, and Dean found himself scrambling to reassure the ex-angel that nothing was wrong.

“No! No— of course not, Cas, that’s— that’s literally why they were designed. It’s just— Well— Aren’t they a bit expensive after a while? Especially if you’re using them every day?”

“They’re certainly not the cheapest solution for cold hands, I’ve just found them to be the most effective. I’d be concerned about the financial strain adding up over time if we were acquiring the money we spend through legal means, but as we are not currently working legal jobs, I thought it was a fine commodity to buy.”

“Hey! Credit card fraud ain’t easy, you know!” Dean winked, and dramatically swaggered across the room to meet Cas in the doorway. “That’s my hard-earned cash you’re spending on warming up your hands each day, you could at least show me a little appreciation for a job well done.”

Cas raised an eyebrow, a small smile gracing his lips.

“You want me to show thanks… for you stealing money?”

Well, when you put it like that it sounds ridiculous.”

Both their grin’s widened, and Dean tugged Cas in by the tie for a gentle kiss. They pulled apart a second later, but continued to stare lovingly in each other’s eyes for a few moments before Dean deemed it time to break the silence.

“Anyway, I have a solution that I think you will find is both much more effective than buying hand warmers. We can just hold hands! It’s free, and I run warm.”

Cas snorted, but linked his hand with Dean’s anyway.

“Won’t I still need to buy them? I have two hands, you know.”

Yes, but you’ll go through them at half the speed you used to. And anyway,” With his next words, Dean leaned in to peck Cas again, not pulling away after. “I know plenty of other ways to keep you warm.”

Needless to say, they were very, very late to meeting Sam at the diner.

Chapter Text

Dean… didn’t exactly do commitment.

Oh, he’d tried to, before. That was undeniable. The time he spent with Cassie— well, it wasn’t exactly every day that Dean went around spilling the family business to people that weren’t directly involved in a supernatural attack.

But with… well, everything about his life, one-or-two-night-stands were much easier for him to achieve. No strings, no feelings, just him and some hot chick (or, if he was feeling unusually secure in himself, guy) that he’d never have to see again.

It had been such a long time since he even considered wanting anything more long term that he hadn’t actually noticed when he started wanting that again.

Somewhere along the way, he obviously had, though.

Not that he’d be likely to get it. Him and Cas— they… They didn’t, wouldn’t do that. Even if he wished they did.

Chapter Text

For someone who’d been doing his best to hide his sexuality for well over a decade now, Dean found coming out surprisingly easy.

Sure, it wasn’t exactly an experience he’d love to repeat, especially not if that repetition involved all the nerves he’d experienced on his first go around, but it wasn’t as terrible as he’d imagined it might be. Bobby had just called him an ‘idjit’ for thinking that his sexuality might change Bobby’s opinion of him, and Sam… hadn’t actually been surprised at all.

“I’m so glad that you feel safe enough to finally share this with me, Dean.”

“Woah there, Sammy, who said anything about ‘finally’? How do you know this isn’t something I’ve just figured out about myself?”

“I’m not exactly oblivious Dean, even though you sometimes seem to think I am. You watch Dr. Sexy! There aren’t that many straight reasons for watching that garbage!”

“Hey, the nurses are hot too! Dr Sexy might be the star of the show, but he’s not the only eye candy there. Maybe I watch it and imagine taking his place.”

Do you watch it and imagine taking his place?”

“Well… not exactly, but I’m sure some people do. And anyway, what if I’d been watching it without acknowledging why? Finding one dude hot doesn’t necessarily scream ‘bi’, you know.”

“Yeah, but in a few of the places we stayed while Dad was hunting, there were… rumours.”

Dean grimaced lightly.

“Ah, yeah, that’d do it.”

“Not that I ever had an issue with it! I assumed you’d, well, tell me when you felt comfortable. And I’m glad you do now, although I wish it hadn’t taken so long.”

Dean’s mouth tightened further, and Sam sighed.

“I’m, uh, guessing Dad didn’t know?”

“I— yeah, no, he didn’t know. I think he might’ve suspected at points, based on some things he said, but as long as I kept bringing chicks back he left well enough alone.”

Sam nodded, his own face set in a frown now, and the two brothers remained silent for a few moments.

“In one of the towns, some of the rumours definitely made it back to him. He, well, he asked me if I knew anything. Apparently someone saw you kissing a guy out behind the general store.”

Dean’s eyes widened, and his pulse quickened even though their Dad was dead and gone and the incident was years old now.

“I told him it couldn’t possibly be true because I’d seen you bring a girl back to the motel that evening. That you must’ve made a move on a girl some dude in town liked and he was spreading rumours as payback”

Sam wasn’t sure what response he expected from his brother, but it certainly wasn’t the one he got. Dean threw his arms around his brother, hiding his suddenly-watery eyes from view, before pulling away just as abruptly.

“Thank you, Sammy.”

Chapter Text

Somehow, Dean doubted he’d ever get used to seeing Cas tired.

He’d just spent too many years waking up to find Cas standing vigil, waiting patiently for either brother to rouse and join him. And after they got together, he’d usually find himself wrapped in the angel’s arms come morning, blue eyes staring fondly down at his sleeping form.

So even though it’d been months now since Cas had fully given up his grace, Dean felt a rush of amused affection pass through him when he looked up in the evenings to see him pouting petulantly at nothing, as though he could will the tiredness from his body.

“Come on Cas, I think it’s just about bed-time now.”

Cas resisted Dean’s gentle tugging at his arm, settling his weight more firmly into the couch.

“It’s only 9:30 Dean, don’t be ridiculous.”

A small smile rose to Dean’s face, unbidden, and he slipped his hand down Cas’ arm to clasp his hand gently.

“Yeah, but we were up multiple nights hunting this week. We both have some sleep to catch up on, especially since another case has already come through.”

Cas looked like he was going to protest again, so Dean took a step away without letting go of his partner’s hand.

“I’m going to bed early even if you’re not, Cas, but I always sleep better when you’re there. So will you come with me, at least? You can even perve at me for old-times-sake!”

“I was never perving at you, Dean, I was just ensuring you and Sam were safe in your sleep—”

“So you never considered what it would be like to join me in my nice warm bed one night?”

“I— well— I didn’t say I never considered it, but—”

“See! You were totally perving at me. I know you’ve wanted a piece of this action for years now.”

While they’d been bickering, Dean had been gently tugging Cas up off the couch and across the living room, so he delivered that last line with a wink as he leant casually against the nearest wall.

“Dean, we are in a committed long-term relationship,” Cas stated blankly.

Dean’s smirk widened.

“All I’m hearing is you confirming the fact that you’ve known I’m hot shit since we met.”

Cas rolled his eyes and pulled the other man in for a gentle kiss, before pulling back with a considering look on his face.

“Well… You were in Hell, at the time. It’s quite a warm place.”

Dean’s stunned laughter was only silenced by the second press of Cas’ lips against his own.

Chapter Text

The morning after Cas and Dean finally, finally got their shit together, Dean woke up in bed alone.

He would be more concerned if it was anyone but Cas. The angel kept odd hours, despite now sleeping some, and Dean had figured he might decide to get a head start on the day. They could lie in together at some point in the future.

Any small level of worry that otherwise lingered in the back of his mind dissipated when he rolled over with a groan and felt a crinkle of paper underneath his cheek. A minute later, he’d roused himself enough to sit and check the note Cas had left for him, unable to quash to fond smile that rose to his face as he stared at the familiar handwriting.

‘Dean,

Rest assured; I am not having second thoughts about the events that came to pass last night. They were a long time coming, from my end at least, and I am very glad you gave in to your impulses to kiss me. I hope you’ll give into said impulses frequently in future. I welcome them eagerly and will endeavour to give into my own whenever appropriate.

I would have liked to remain in bed with you a while longer, but Sam came by looking for me. He apparently drew concerned when he could not find me in my room or the living spaces, and wanted to ask you if I’d mentioned any plans to go out today. Obviously, that was not necessary.

He seemed surprised to find me here, but it seemed to be more him not expecting either of us to have had the courage to act on our feelings, rather than us having feelings for each other in the first place. He wants to ask me a few questions in prep for our hunt later today, but I imagine he’ll have some other questions as well now. If you would come out to rescue me from his probing as soon as you wake up, I’d appreciate it. Maybe we can stun him into silence before he has a chance to poke fun at you? Or maybe I just really want to kiss you again. I guess we can find out together.

-Castiel’

Dean’s grin had grown as he read the note, and he folded it carefully before tucking it away and getting up. Not only had he been spared the complete awkwardness of having to come out to Sam, Cas had given him outright permission to be as obnoxious about their new relationship as he wanted. These next few weeks would be amazing.

Chapter Text

Dean groaned as he sat up, glaring balefully at Cas.

“I blame you for this.”

His words were met with an amused smile; the ex-angels eyes softened by sympathy.

“I did tell you to keep your distance from me. You’re the one who insisted I shouldn’t be left to ride out my first significant illness alone.”

Pouting, Dean stuck his hand out hopefully.

“If you’re gonna keep making sense, will you at least make me a hot drink?”

“Coffee or tea? Or I could heat you some soup— I’m pretty sure we still have leftovers of what you made.”

“...Do you promise not to tell Sammy?”

Cas laughed quietly.

“I’m assuming that means you want tea?”

“Only if no one ever knows. Other than us.”

Nodding his acceptance of the terms, Cas leant in, only to be stopped by an insistent hand.

“No! We’ll just keep swapping the germs back and forth.”

“Won’t I have developed an immunity? I didn’t think I could get reinfected by germs.”

“Not necessarily!! I don’t wanna risk it.”

Now it was Cas’ turn to pout.

“Are you telling me you won’t kiss me until you’re fully better?”

“I am.”

“...It’s times like these that I wish I still had my grace.”

Chapter Text

Although Dean would always love the thrill a hunt brought, in recent years the downtime had held its own appeal.

Quiet mornings spent lying in, enclosed within the arms of his favourite angel.

Dinners spent in the bunker, surrounded by the friends they’d picked up through the years.

Jokes shared in private moments, ones that would bring a smile to his face in years to come.

But best of all were the days spent curled together in front of the tv, watching anything and everything.

The feeling of Cas’ head in his lap as they introduced him to the joys of modern programming.

A soft press of lips against his as they stumbled into bed half-awake hours later.

The smile that rose to his face, unbidden, when he felt the weight of reciprocated love settling around his soul.

Chapter Text

It was sunny and bright as they all headed down to the beach, and Dean felt inexplicably grateful for that fact.

Cas had mentioned wanting to experience the more simple joys of life without the weight of a hunt overshadowing them, and Dean had been unable to do anything but agree when he was met with the force of the angel's bright eyes. The first of these ‘simple joys’ he wanted was apparently a beach day with friends, so they’d organised one the next time they were near enough to one at a convenient time.

The fact that said convenient time happened to be a perfect beach day was the cherry on top of the joy Dean felt at being able to grant one of Cas’ wishes.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Castiel wondered at the obsession with gender the humans he was surrounded by seemed to have.

Dean’s constant attempts to seem hyper-masculine, still seeking approval from his long-dead father.

The preconceived notions everyone seemed to have about sexuality, and who could and could not date.

The idea that his form would dictate his interests, and clothing, and pretty much everything about him and his life.

Would he be any different if he’d come to earth in a female vessel, all those years ago?

Would his relationship with the Winchester’s be different?

Would Dean be less afraid to confront the reality of what was between them?

Cas would just have to deal with the reality that he would likely never know, not without changing his vessel. And he’d grown quite attached to this one, despite the general confusion gender brought.

Chapter Text

“That… happens to be my father’s grave you’re digging up right now.”

Dean froze, completely startled by the low, gravelly voice. He’d known when he became a resurrectionist that a situation such as this one was probably inevitable, but he hadn’t expected it to happen tonight. The grave was fresh, of course, but it wasn’t buried in a high-profile cemetery, and there hadn’t been any concerned family members hanging around to prevent an enterprising individual such as himself from disturbing the grave in the middle of the night for the good of science (and a lot of cash).

Or, at least, there hadn’t seemed to be any family members. He may be revising that point right now.

“Ah, yes. I… work for the local sheriff’s department? And they decided they wished to… investigate your father’s body. To make extra sure there was no foul play involved.”

“And they sent you in the middle of the night?”

“…Yes! It was a very urgent matter. They didn’t want any potential evidence rotting… away…”

Dean lost his trail of thought when he glanced up at the man who had caught him and found himself peering into impossibly blue eyes. The other man was staring down at him inquisitively, and Dean found himself flushing despite himself.

“I see. And did the sheriff happen to tell you that my father’s death is well understood to have been as a result of consumption?”

“He… may have left that out of the briefing.”

The man snorted before crossing his arms over his chest.

“So, which medical school are you planning on selling him to?”

“I— what?

“Come on, we both know very well that you aren’t working for any sheriffs office. I’m mostly just curious about how much you’ll get for him.”

“Aren’t you going to… stop me? Turn me in?”

A small smile crossed the man's face, barely visible in the low light.

“No.”

“…Why not?”

“Because my father was a highly, highly religious man, and the idea that his body is going to be used to further science is an idea I greatly enjoy.”

Dean just blinked stupidly in response, and the man tilted his head slightly before elaborating.

“Me and my father… did not get along very well.”

“Then… why are you out here in the middle of the night? Most family members stay out this late to protect graves, not actively endorse the person robbing them.”

“Let’s just say I have inexplicable reasons for a lot of what I do. Do you need a hand grabbing his body out?”

“I mean… if you’re offering one?”

The man held a hand out to him, and Dean paused, not knowing exactly what was expected here. After a second, his brain rebooted enough to realise what was happening, and he grasped the offered hand in a firm handshake.

“I’m Castiel, by the way. Castiel Novak, although I guess you’d know part of that from the gravestone.”

Dean flushed again.

“I, uh, didn’t, actually.”

“Illiterate, or do you just not care?”

A rueful grin spread across his face to match the colour in his cheeks.

“The latter, although I pretend it’s former when I get into trouble. I’m Dean.”

Castiel smiled before hopping down into the grave.

“Now that I’m acquainted with the person I’m helping snatch and sell my father’s cadaver, I figure we can get to work? Just. Tell me how to help.”

It took Dean a second to respond, as he was too busy peering up curiously at the space where Cas had been standing. It wasn’t certain, especially in the darkness that surrounded them, but Dean could swear he saw the glint of a metal handled shovel in the low grass, right behind where the other man had just been. He pulled his eye-line away finally to instead smirk at the blue-eyed man in front of him. He felt like him and Castiel would get along very well.

Chapter Text

Whenever Dean falls asleep these days, he does it with the vision of bright (impossibly, beautifully bright) blue eyes flashing across his mind.

He knows what it means, of course. Everyone does.

Even in a world filled with magic and supernatural creatures that most people have never even dreamt of, soulmate visions weren’t exactly a secret.

How could they be, when they were a phenomena that 90% of the population had direct experience with?

 

***

 

It starts like this: one day, an individual will start dreaming of someone they’ve never met as they drift off to sleep. The visions start of simple— an aspect of their soulmates physical appearance that is distinct, defining, instantly recognisable. Their nose. Their smile. Their (stunning and oh so blue) eyes.

This was usually a signal that they were slated to meet their soulmate soon. Not immediately, not even necessarily in the next few months, but soon enough that fate kicked into high gear to say ‘Hey. Remember this person. Reach out to them when you meet in person.’

From there, more traits would be revealed. Their laugh. A silhouette of them ducking their head shyly. In Dean’s case, the flutter of massive, jet-black wings.

Chapter Text

Dean started slightly when he heard his husband’s familiar ringtone ring out into the class, and he saw his student’s smirking slightly as they glanced up from their work with knowing looks.

“Mr Winchester, I thought we weren’t supposed to have our phones on us in class? Doesn’t it promote ‘distractions’?’”

In response, Dean shook his head ruefully while flipping his mute button across, tamping down the instinctive feelings of worry. Claire most definitely knew exactly who had called Dean, given her status in his life as his ‘incredibly cheeky niece’, and she also knew that Cas was well aware of his work schedule. For Dean to be receiving a call in the middle of class… Well, that generally indicated it was an urgent matter.

“Now, Claire, you know perfectly well why that rule doesn’t apply to us teachers the same way it does to you guys. We’re generally on top of things enough to know when it is and isn’t okay to be checking our phones.”

“You’re the one who forgot to silence it before class, sir, so I don’t know if you’re as on top of things as you claim. I can confidently say that I’ve never disrupted class with a ringing phone before.”

Dean snorted slightly and raised an eyebrow at her. While that was technically true, Claire did not have the greatest track record for abiding by the screen-free rule their principal was so desperate to enforce.

“I’ll have you know that despite how it might appear, my phone is set to ‘do not disturb’ whenever I’m teaching a class.”

Becky, who sat behind and to the left of Claire in the room, perked up a little at that, and Dean mentally prepared himself for whatever intrusive questions she likely had.

“Then how did the call get through, sir? Was it your husband?”

Seriously, he had no idea why she was so invested in his marriage. He knew about ‘shipping’, of course, couldn’t not know when you had Charlie for a friend, but something about it being his marriage that someone was so invested in made him feel slightly weird.

Rather than responding, he glanced down at his phone again, knowing that it had rung out. There weren’t any new calls or messages yet, but the fact that Cas had called at all meant the portion of his brain that constantly worried wouldn’t shut up. Making an executive decision, he glanced back up at the class again to see most of his students looking curiously up at him.

“Alright, guys, I’m gonna step out into the hallway to take this, just in case it’s important. I’ll be watching through the windows, so no funny business while I’m out there, ok?”

He received a classroom full of affirmative motions and noises, only a quatre of which he actually believed, before slipping out into the hallway and pulling his phone to his ear. It took only a couple of rings for Cas to pick up, and Dean didn’t even wait for Cas’ customary greeting before speaking.

“Cas? Is everything ok??”

Cas paused for a second, and in that second Dean felt his anxieties skyrocket. These worries were shut down when Castiel started speaking, however.

“My apologies, Dean. I did not intend to make you anxious by calling you in the middle of the school day. If I may confess, I’d forgotten you’d be in class when I rang.”

Dean’s shoulders slumped, and he sagged into the wall across from his classroom. Inside, he could see Becky staring obviously out at him, and he raised an eyebrow in a manner he knew signalled very clearly ‘get back to work’. She ignored him, as he expected.

“It’s fine, angel, I know you wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t important. My kids will be fine without me for a few minutes. What’s up?”

“I— uh— I got a call from the agency about half an hour ago.”

Dean froze, body thrumming with an entirely different sort of nerves than before. There were only two things related to the agency that would cause Cas to forget himself enough to call Dean right in the middle of class, and Cas didn’t seem upset enough for one of them. That meant…

“Did they— I mean, did we…?”

He knew he wasn’t imagining the way Cas’ voice was slightly choked up as he continued speaking, as it matched the sudden wateriness of his own eyes.

“We’ve been chosen by a parent, Dean.”

They were going to have a child.

Chapter Text

Something about getting home from a hunt was always... weird.

Part of it was having a home now. Having a guaranteed place to rest his head every night. Knowing that no matter what else happened, he could always find comfort and safety in the bunker. Would always have that stability that he had so often dreamt of growing up, even if not in the exact way he expected.

Another part of it was actually having someone to come home to. Cas didn’t always come on hunts, these days, sometimes because he had angelic duties to attend to but more often recently because he had something he wanted to get done on base, a small project that he was filling his time with now that he had that free will he’d strived so hard to defend.

Not that Dean was complaining. The first time he and Sammy had arrived back to see Cas standing in the kitchen, a freshly baked pie on the bench as the angel smiled that wide way he did when he was genuinely proud of achieving something on his own— Well, let’s just say Sammy was lucky he didn’t suffer as much mental scarring after that incident as Dean had wanted to inflict on him. He found it hard to resist his angel at the best of times.

So while coming home from a hunt only to be wrapped up in the feelings of genuine happiness and love that his life in the bunker with Cas brought would likely always be a little strange, Dean was perfectly content with that knowledge.

What was a ‘little strange’ in the grand scheme of everything they’d done in their lives, anyway?

Chapter Text

It still shocked Dean, sometimes, that he was allowed this. That he had allowed himself this.

He knew it was somewhat rare, for hunters to have this easy affection. Too many of them pushed any real connections away. Were scared of leaving loved ones behind to mourn, when they inevitably died on the job.

And that’s not even accounting for the difficulty to let someone in on the business without sounding like a complete nut job, or otherwise finding a way to explain away any extended stays in motels without your partner coming to the seemingly obvious conclusions. Dean, for all he’d avoided connections in the past, knew that side of things very well.

So he’d expected to go on in his life under the same conditions most other hunters lived their lives, with only the illusion of intimacy that continual one-night-stands could afford. What he had with Cas, in the here and now— he hadn’t even thought he’d wanted it.

But god, now that he had it, he knew that he’d never go back to the way things were before— not if he had any choice in the matter, at least.

Chapter Text

“I still don’t understand why you think assbutt is such an effective insult. You’ve been hanging around me and Sam for how many years now? Surely you can come up with something better by now, I know you've heard plenty worse.

Cas tilted his head in that ridiculously endearing way he’d mastered, and Dean had to consciously stop his arms from dropping from where he had them crossed in front of his chest.

“Well, Michael certainly seemed offended enough by it.”

“Are you sure he wasn’t just surprised? Not even by your.... creative touch  with the insult but by the situation as a whole?”

“...The Molotov cocktail might’ve had something to do with it, I will concede. But anyway, even without that, the fact that you’re choosing to argue with me so much about this says more about you than it does me, don’t you think? Maybe the reason you’re so fixated on it is less because of how ‘ineffective’ it is and more to do with you refusing to admit that it’s an actually good insult?”

At this, Dean threw his head back and genuinely laughed, not put off by the small pout that crossed Cas’ lips in response.

“Babe. Babe.  It has less to do with its quality or lack thereof in the insult department and more the fact that you keep using it.  Like, once again, I know me and Sam have exposed you to a lot worse. Do you like it so much because it’s so mild?? Does calling someone a fuckwit offend your angelic sensibilities?”

“Hey! It’s not that mild. It has the word ‘ass’ in it!”

“Yeah, but that’s like. A level 1 swear word. Babies first curse type shit.”

“And?”

“I dunno, Cas, I just find it interesting that me and Sam haven’t corrupted you more, in some ways. Although I guess me more so than Sam.”

“I mean, you’ve certainly ‘corrupted’ me over time. Recent years more than most.”

Dean smirked, glancing over Cas’ shoulder to check the room was clear before pulling him in for a quick and dirty kiss. The angel’s cheeks were lightly flushed when they pulled apart a moment later, pupils dilated, and Dean’s smirk grew in his ensuing smugness.

“That, I most definitely have.”

Chapter Text

On the morning of his birthday, Dean liked to get up and drive.

Not to go anywhere in particular, and not for any real reason he could put his finger on, but it was a time-honoured tradition at this point. He’d wake up at his normal time, but rather than making breakfast or finding a diner or annoying Sammy like he would any other day of the year, he’d find himself wandering to Baby and just. Driving.

He felt at peace, out on the road. For the hour or so he was out there, no worries would bother him. It didn’t matter what else was happening in the world, where the latest apocalypse was at in its progression, how fucked up their latest hunt had gotten them. All that mattered was the thrum of Baby’s engine and the glide of her wheels on the open road.

That had been how it was for years now, and Dean had expected it to stay like that for years to come. Just him alone, revelling in the small amount of peace this tradition afforded him. It probably would have stayed exactly like that, if it wasn’t for Cas.

See, Castiel was a fucktonne braver than Dean was about certain topics. That bravery had led to him forcibly pulling Dean’s head out of his ass a few months back, when Dean had almost died on a hunt. Cas had been terrified, not knowing if the vestigial amounts of grace he had left would be enough to heal the hunter, and Dean had come-to to wide, terrified blue eyes and the desperate press of lips against his own. Sam still hadn’t stopped giving them shit about how Disney-esque it could be seen as, as though he’d been saved by the power of ‘true love’s kiss’ rather than Cas’ angelic powers. Although threatening to demonstrate what a real true love’s kiss looked like had served as an effective way to both get Sam to shut up and spend an enjoyable and uninterrupted few minutes with his favourite angel.

All this to say, Dean no longer knew if he wanted to keep to his usual birthday tradition. Although the peace of the open road still appealed to him, part of him was loath to give up the quiet mornings he’d been sharing with Cas lately. The comfort of his angel’s arms around him and the soft intimacy afforded by lying in with him for an hour or so before getting up and preparing for the day.

He kept thinking it over as he got up to relieve his bladder, and when he returned to their newly shared room he paused in the doorway for a second to admire the figure of Cas on the bed.

Cas had woken up while Dean was in the bathroom, and was now sitting on the bed, knees pulled up to his chest. He tilted his head inquisitively as Dean obviously hesitated, but didn’t say anything yet, apparently as loath to break the silence surrounding them as Dean was. Dean considered the situation for another moment, then surprised himself when he found himself holding an arm out to Cas on the bed in a clear invitation.

Who said he couldn’t have the open road and Cas?

Chapter Text

“Dean,” Cas started very seriously, sitting down at the breakfast table one morning. “I think I now understand why Charlie feels the way she does about certain media franchises.”

Dean snorted from where he was at the stovetop, only glancing back to see the slightly wild look on Cas’ face.

“Aw yeah, Cas, I figured you’d get there eventually! I know you enjoy the stuff we’ve been showing you, but everyone has slightly different tastes in media. So what is it? A new tv show? A book series?”

“I believe it is called a pod-cast?”

“A podcast?”

“Yes, a podcast. It is a form of media primarily delivered through audio format, and can be about a range of topics—”

“I know what a podcast is, Cas, you just took me by surprise. Should’ve figured you’d be into that nerdy shit like Sammy.”

“Dean, you LARP with Charlie regularly.”

Dean, now finished with his cooking, sat across from Castiel with a cheeky smile.

“And? LARPing involves like, sword-fighting and battles and shit. Fake sword-fighting, yeah, but it’s still sword-fighting. That’s inherently cool nerdy shit.”

Cas blinked, tilting his head beguilingly.

“If that’s what helps you rest at night,” he stated dryly, and Dean choked on his coffee.

Anyway, what podcast is it? You said ‘media franchise’ so I’m assuming it’s more a story-based one than knowledge-based, but I can never tell with you. Do story-driven podcasts even exist?”

Cas fixed him with a stare that clearly conveyed ‘I’m sure you know the answer to that already and are only asking it to seem cooler and less knowledgeable about this topic than you actually are, so I will not dignify it with a response’ before absent-mindedly picking up the fork Dean had placed in front of him at some point in their conversation.

“It is a podcast based around the tabletop-roleplaying system ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, and is hosted by a family that from what I have seen are relatively popular in certain sects of the internet, especially ones revolving around podcasting.”

“Wait, a D&D podcast? Are you talking about TAZ?”

Cas perked up.

“You’ve heard of it? I didn’t know if it would be your ‘speed’, so to speak.”

Dean waved a hand generally while taking another bite of his food.

“Ah, Charlie’s mentioned it a few times. I think she was trying to convince me to start listening to it on hunts. Something about gay wizards and tacos…?”

“I shall have to ask her opinion on how several character arcs progressed, then, I would be interested in hearing her thoughts now that I am done with the first campaign.”

“Wait, when did you start listening to it, Cas? I thought it was relatively long?”

Cas blinked, unassuming.

“Well, I started it the night before last night, and the podcast player I was using allowed you to listen at 2 times speed.”

“Cas.”

“Yes?”

“Did you sit and listen to a podcast for almost 2 days straight?”

“It seemed efficient.”

Chapter Text

Dean knew that Sam thought it was adorable, how much he indulged Castiel. He could see it in the soft smiles his brother sent at the two of them. The amused look in his eyes when Dean used to protest that people were reading into things too much. The eyebrow he raised when Dean did things like giving Cas the last of his pie before the angel had even asked for it.

Thing is, Dean knew it was sometimes ridiculous. He was willing to do almost anything to get a smile out of his partner, too in love with the soft looks he was rewarded with to care about the personal effort or loss that was involved in that quest.

But Cas did it too, even if Dean felt like his soft smiles were a lot less adorable than Cas’ were (and that was saying something, as Dean felt he was pretty damn adorable at the best of times). Dean wasn’t exactly stupid. He knew the worth of those vinyls Cas had ‘just stumbled across in a second-hand shop the other day’, and it wasn’t the price of something you ‘just stumble across’. Cas had gone looking for them, just for Dean, just to see his smile and feel his joy in the arms that he threw around the angel and the press of their lips together (and oh had their lips pressed together… Sam was lucky enough to not be in the room for that particular display of affection).

Their relationship was made up of little moments like that, of small smiles and I-just-thought-you-might-appreciate-it-gifts and plates pushed at each other towards the end of meals. They’d spent so long denying things, denying the significance of their bond even while knowing ‘profound’ didn’t nearly cover how much they cared about each other, and now that they weren’t ignoring things?

Well, a few indulgent moments could be excused.

He just wished Sammy was less damn smug about it all.

Chapter Text

“Cas, you wanted to help cook tonight, yeah?”

Castiel looked up from where he was sitting on the couch and nodded. Dean grinned and walked forward to close the couple of metres space between them before offering his hand to Cas.

“Alright then, up you get! We should get started soon.”

Cas frowned down at his watch before looking back up at Dean, head cocked.

“Dean, it’s only a quatre past 5.”

Dean raised his eyebrow, holding his hand out more insistently.

“Yeah, and?”

“…We don’t usually eat until at least 7?”

Dean, sensing that Cas wasn’t about to take up the implicit offer his hand had symbolised, shoved it back into his jacket pocket.

“Yeah, but we have to decide what we’re gonna eat, and you’re not very experienced in the kitchen.”

The look that earnt Dean could probably be best described as a pout, and he chuckled softly.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Aw, come on Cas, surely you know everything takes ten times longer in the kitchen than you think it will when you’re first starting out? Because you’re less practised at chopping and all that sorta shit. It’s better to start early than end up having dinner an hour later than you planned.”

Cas was still pouting, and Dean pulled his hand back out of his pocket to cup his face softly.

“If we finish the prep work early we can take a break before starting to actually cook everything? Have a little quality time and work to scar Sammy when he inevitably wanders through the kitchen?”

Cas smiled softly, and Dean felt himself warm.

“You’d think he’d walked in on us enough times to know better than to enter a room without knocking now.”

Dean leant in to brush their lips together softly before pulling away again.

“I think he just remains ever-hopeful that one day we’ll learn to respect the communal spaces.”

Cas pushed forwards into a firmer kiss, and Dean’s mind blanked for a moment. Once it had finished rebooting, he surprised himself by finding the strength of mind to pull away again.

“I— uh— dinner. We still need to— dinner,” he managed to get out, voice slightly strangled, and Cas smirked in a way that made Dean regret ever accidentally teaching him the tricks to seduction (because seriously, how was he supposed to think when Cas was sitting there looking like that).

“Who said I’d forgotten about dinner?”

Chapter Text

Dean, for all people seemed to assume otherwise, was a tried-and-true morning person.

Oh, sure, if he’d had a particularly wild night he’d struggle a little, especially if that wild night included copious amounts of alcohol, but outside of that? He’d rise with the sun, happy as a clam, and prepare himself for whatever they were doing that day, maybe head to the kitchen if they were staying somewhere with a stovetop for once or at home in the bunker.

Castiel, on the other hand, had taken to sleeping as though he needed to catch up on all the years he hadn’t been, back when he was still a fully-fledged angel. He clung to Dean every morning, groaning in protest at his boyfriend's attempts to quietly extricate himself, and would glare petulantly when he inevitably succeeded.

Nothing was different about their routine this morning.

“Iss cold,” Cas whined, stretching his limbs across into Dean’s newly vacant side of the bed.

“Sorry, babe, I want to get a head start on breakfast. I’ll put the coffee on for you at least?”

Cas shifted so that he could properly glare at Dean.

“But I have to get out of bed for coffee, and I don’t have to get out of bed if you come back here now instead of going to the kitchen.”

Dean shook his head, wiping a fake tear from his eye.

“I knew it! You’re only with me for my body, aren’t you? After all these years we’ve had together!”

“Less your body, and more your status as a personal space heater. Although I might be revising that position right about now given you’re still not back in bed with me.

Rather than responding immediately, Dean dropped a kiss onto Cas’ forehead and stepped back from the bed.

“Oh, please, we both know that you’d manage 5 minutes tops without me and my body heat before crawling straight back to me. You love me, really.”

Cas grinned.

“Well, we all have our own personal failings.”

 

***

 

To the surprise of approximately no-one, Dean had only been in the kitchen for about 10 minutes when he felt a familiar pair of arms wrap around his waist and a chin hook over his shoulder.

“Aww, did you get too cold all alone in bed, you big baby?”

Cas’ arms tightened their hold, and Dean instinctively relaxed into it.

“You know I did, given I’d started complaining about it before you even left the room,” Cas grumbled, and Dean laughed.

“I dunno, you might’ve been lying to coerce me into cuddling you for a while longer.”

Cas pressed a kiss against Dean’s cheek before loosening his arms and heading to the coffee pot.

“Since when have I had to coerce you into cuddles, Dean? You seek them out enough on your own.”

Sure enough, Dean had put the knife he was holding down when he felt Cas tugging away, and had instinctively turned to try and coax the ex-angel back into his arms.

“Well, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. You get my body heat, I get to subtly grope you at a moments notice.”

Rather than walking back to Dean, Cas had decided to lean against the counter space next to the coffee machine while cradling his mug in his hands, and Dean took the opportunity to admire his face in the early morning light. A few silent minutes passed that way, with the two of them quietly staring at each other, but it didn’t take long for Cas to gently place his mug back down on the bench in a clearly inviting manner.

It takes approximately two seconds for Dean to be in his personal space, hands on Cas’ hips and their lips pressed gently together. Their foreheads remained pressed together even as the kiss broke off, and Dean couldn’t help but grin.

“Love you, Cas.”

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester absolutely hated Castiel Novak, and had ever since the first time they met. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was about the Castiel that rubbed him the wrong way, especially since their first interaction had actually been decidedly Normal (especially for them), but he did, and he doubted that would ever change.

(His admittedly gorgeous piercing blue eyes had absolutely nothing to do with it, no matter what Charlie would have you believe. Him acknowledging Cas’ attractiveness was not a sign that he harboured deeper feelings for the other man than the rage and annoyance he displayed whenever they interacted, it was a sign that he wasn’t fucking blind.)

Chapter Text

“Dean, I… will not be able to provide sexual-intimacy to you if we choose to pursue this relationship. I feel I must be clear about that before you commit yourself to me more than you already have.”

Dean froze, taken aback. Clearly, he hadn’t been expecting those to be the first words out of Cas’ mouth after the angel pulled back from their first kiss, especially given they’d only just gotten through the whole ‘grand declarations of love’ thing.

“Like… never ever? Is it an angel thing? Or is it because I’m, well… me.

“It’s not anything to do with you, Dean! It’s just not a level of intimacy I personally enjoy, no matter who it is I am in bed with."

Chapter Text

The first time Castiel injured himself post losing his grace, Dean wasn’t prepared for how he’d feel.

It was an incredibly minor injury, all things considered, especially considering the shit he’d put his body through when he felt comfortable joining their hunts again, but that didn’t stop the frisson of guilt that ran through Dean as he witnessed Cas wince and instinctively pull his hand back from the steam.

“Fuck babe, are you alright? Steam burns hurt like a bitch.”

Cas, who had been staring thoughtfully at his fingers as though they held an interesting mystery that had to be solved, met Dean’s eyes as calmly as he always did.

“I did not quite expect a burn to feel like this. Not being instantly able to heal the tissue is. Strange, in some ways. It hurts more than I thought it would.”

Dean felt that frisson of guilt widen at the reminder of what Cas had given up to stay here, with him, and busied himself by guiding the ex-angel across to the sink and shoving his hand under some running water.

“You’ve gotta hold it under for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, you hear me? It pulls the heat out or something. I wasn’t really paying attention to why it worked when I learnt it, the important thing is that it does.

Cas frowned even as he dutifully held his hand in the water.

“Isn’t that wasteful, though? Leaving the water running for so long?”

“Yeah, well, the minor burns first aid developers weren’t exactly thinking about the environment when they realised it worked. Or water bills. They just found something that worked. And anyway, our water system means all the water from this will get used on the plants outside later, and you’re not the one paying the water bills, I am. This is my fault, anyway.”

“How so, Dean? You weren’t to know I’d go sticking my hand in the steam, so there was no way you could’ve prevented this. It’s just an accident, and one that you couldn’t predict.”

Dean sighed and looked away briefly, torn between gladness that they would be having this conversation over an injury that took barely any time to heal, even for normal humans, and frustration that they had to have it at all.

“That’s not... really what I’m talking about, Cas.”

He looked back, and once Cas’ bright eyes met his own he continued.

“I just— you gave up your grace for me, even after all the pain I put you through, and I can’t stop thinking about all the ways that’s made your life harder. If you were still an angel, that steam burn wouldn’t matter because it would’ve been gone as soon as it occurred. And I worry that one day you’ll wake up and realise that it’s not worth it.”

Cas, realising this was less about the burn and more an indication that Dean’s insecurities had been working against him one again, reached out with his non-burned hand to draw the hunter closer to him.

“Dean, you know I would’ve given up much more than just my grace if that’s what it took to be with you, right?”

Cas took his expression to mean he didn’t know, and tightened his hold around Dean’s waist.

“Living without my grace has certainly been an adjustment at times, but I could never and will never begrudge you for that. Staying here on earth may have lost me my grace, but it has given me more than I ever dreamed I could have. You are the most important person in the world to me, and I am honoured by our relationship. I do not, and will not ever regret giving up my status as an angel for you.”

Dean’s eyes widened over the course of Cas’ declaration, and he chuckled lightly, visibly flushed.

“I, uh. I didn’t realise you held such strong feelings about this.”

Cas held his gaze with the same amount of intensity Dean had come to expect, and Dean found himself holding his breath as he waited to see if the ex-angel would lean in. He was semi-disappointed to hear Cas’ low voice rumble “I will have to be better about that”, expecting that to signal the end of the moment, but despite his expectations it was only a few seconds later that he felt the hard, desperate push of lips against his own.

 

***

 

Although Dean didn’t stop worrying any time Cas got injured, no matter the severity of what had occurred, Cas continued to make it clear that he had no regrets about what being with Dean cost him. And Dean wasn’t about to go complaining about that.

Chapter Text

Dean is unsurprised to find himself awake in the early hours of the morning, the night after they receive the good news.

He’s even less surprised to find the other side of their bed empty, residual warmth indicating to him that Cas had only recently slipped off. He knew that Cas would probably be feeling slightly out of sorts, even with the joy and relief that finally being selected by a birth parent had brought them.

He wraps the comforter around him to combat the chill that seeped into their house every night, padding quietly to the kitchen and working quickly to prep two mugs of cocoa before silently heading to their back porch, passing one off to his husband before sitting beside him and settling the comforter around the both of them. A few minutes passed in silence before Cas spoke, voice low in deference to the early hour.

He didn’t say anything Dean didn’t already know. They’d had conversations similar to this one before, back when they were first discussing the possibility of children together, before they were even engaged. Neither of them had had particularly healthy or happy family lives, growing up, and the confirmation that they would actually be getting a baby had brought up all their residual fears that somehow they’d end up fucking up their children in the same way. Some part of Dean suspected they’d always be scared of turning into their fathers, especially if something happened to either of them.

Cas rehashed his worries that he would struggle to connect emotionally with any of their kids, that he’d turn as cold and distant as his father had been and subsequently his eldest brother seemed to be with his own son. Dean admitted he was still worried that he’d turn to alcoholism to deal with his issues if things started to get tough. Both of them were worried that something would happen to the other and they’d feel they had no options but to leave their children alone for long periods of time, as they had been growing up, even with the stable jobs they were employed in compared to their fathers. As the night passed, they reassured each other that they would be okay, that they’ll hold each other accountable and not be afraid to lean on the support system provided by their friends and families if needed, legs stretching out and tangling together as they both lost some of the tension they were carrying in the reminders that neither of them were in this alone.

And by the time the sun rose in front of them, they were blanketed in a comforting silence as the fear gave back way to the initial feelings of pure joy and love that had surrounded them when they had received that vital phone call.

Chapter Text

It was moments like this, Dean knew, that would make up his personal heaven, were he to ever end up there.

There was nothing particularly significant to it, but that was part of what made it so wonderous. He was in the kitchen with Cas, both of them working simultaneously to keep each other on track while also getting distracted by the simple joy that uninterrupted time together always brought. It was Cas’ turn to be focused, with him concentrating fiercely on the vegetables he was chopping, and Dean was staring contentedly at the angel’s profile when he was hit with a sudden wave of emotion.

Cas glanced across at him, and obviously something was showing on Dean’s face, as the angel crossed the room in an instant.

“Are you alright, Dean?”

Dean nodded, reaching out to pull Cas closer to him.

“Yeah, I’m alright. I just… can’t believe how lucky I am, sometimes. To have this. To have you.

Chapter Text

It amazed Dean, sometimes, that of all the people in the world Cas could’ve chosen to settle down with, he had been the one.

Because really, even without the whole ‘angel of the lord thing’ that Dean was sure would fuel even the most tame person in the world's fantasies, Cas was fucking hot. Dean would know. His physical appearance was definitely not a barrier to him choosing someone less fucked up than Dean to focus his feelings towards.

But somehow, Castiel had seen every molecule that made up Deans existence, had learnt his darkest secrets and deepest fears, and had still declared his soul bright. Thought it, and by extension he, was beautiful. Had waited until he, too, was ready to acknowledge the sheer love they felt for each other, ‘profound bond’ or not.

He still wasn’t sure he deserved it, but that was Cas’ choice to make. All he could do was work to be as good as Castiel truly believed he was.

Chapter Text

Dean was feeling the familiar calm that surrounded him after successful hunts right up until the moment he stepped foot inside the bunker.

Nothing was visibly wrong, and Dean hadn’t gotten any texts from Cas warning him that there had been an attack, but a thick stench of smoke was hanging in the air, and Dean also hadn’t gotten a response to his message informing the angel that the hunt had finished earlier than expected. Things were probably fine, especially with the sheer amount of warding they’d done on the place, but he was still on guard as he walked quietly towards the area where the smell was strongest.

It was a relief when Cas appeared in front of him, seeming as unharmed and scruffy as always

“Dean! You’re home... early.”

Dean grinned, reaching forwards to straighten Cas’ tie before tugging him in for a quick peck.

“Yeah, babe, did you miss my message earlier? I wrapped things sooner than expected so I hit the road this morning. Is everything alright?”

A small, slightly embarrassed smile crossed Cas’ face and Dean had to resist the urge lean back in for another kiss.

“Everything’s fine. I just had a small mishap in the kitchen, but I can sort things out myself.”

Dean raised an eyebrow.

“You, in the kitchen alone? You know that’s just asking for trouble, right?”

“I was following the recipe carefully, I’m not quite sure how things went so... wrong.”

Dean chuckled and gave in to the urge from a moment ago, letting his lips linger for a few seconds longer this time.

“I can take a look if you want? See if I can see the issue?”

Cas tensed at that, and Dean frowned.

“I don’t have to if you wanna give up, or don’t want me to see how badly you did for whatever reason, but you know it’s fine, right? I’m not gonna judge for struggling to make something alone on your first attempt at it.”

Cas sighed.

“It was supposed to be a surprise for you,” he admitted, “and given I thought you’d be home late tonight or tomorrow morning I figured I’d get a few practices in before presenting you with the final version.”

A surprise... for him? Dean’s mind worked quickly, and he knew his voice was slightly wondrous when he responded to Cas’ admission.

“Cas... did you try to bake a pie for me?”

Castiel nodded, and distantly, Dean found himself wondering how he’d ever gotten so lucky as he pulled his boyfriend in for another, toe-curling kiss.

Chapter Text

The first time Dean catches Castiel crying, he doesn’t exactly know what to think.

It was a perfectly normal day, as far as he knew, and there was nothing Dean could think of that would have left Cas feeling the way he so obviously was, tears streaming down his face. He hovered in the doorway to Cas’ room awkwardly, worrying his bottom lip, and he took a deep breath in before stepping forwards carefully.

“Uh… Cas? Are you… okay??”

Cas glanced up and managed a smile that looked more like a grimace.

“Crying can be quite a cathartic exercise,” Cas said, and Dean took another step closer.

“That… doesn’t exactly answer my question?”

“I find it almost freeing, in some ways.”

Dean nodded sharply, figuring he should probably take the hint that Cas didn’t exactly want to talk about whatever was going on.

“Right. I’m just gonna…”

With these words, Dean gestured vaguely behind him before turning and leaving, feeling slightly guilty for leaving Cas alone when he was so obviously vulnerable. But Cas didn’t want to talk about it, and they were just friends, no matter what the clenching in his gut that he felt whenever Cas so much as smiled at another guy seemed to think. He didn’t have the right to push for more.

 

***

 

The thing is, it kept happening. Dean would run into Cas in seemingly innocuous places around the bunker, and the angel would have tears streaming down his face.

Sometimes he had explanations, no matter how flimsy.

(“I was watching a sad movie”, “I was reading this article about a dog that died and kept waiting for its master”, “I kept looking up statistics about colony collapse in honey-bees and how not enough is being done yet to ensure we save them from extinction”.)

Sometimes he didn’t.

(“It’s really quite a release, Dean”, “It’s a perfectly healthy way to express negative emotions one may be feeling”, “Oh, am I?”.)

And sometimes he said nothing at all, just staring wide-eyed at Dean as he flailed and made awkward noises before beating a hasty retreat, worried he’d do something he couldn’t take back, like pulling Cas close and kissing the tear tracks away.

 

***

 

It all came to a head about a month later, when Dean walked into Cas' room once again only to find him sobbing his eyes out on the bed, crying harder than Dean had seen him do so even considering recent events. Dean hurried forwards towards Cas, breaking every self-imposed boundary he had placed since the first time he’d caught Cas like this, dropping to his knees to look the angel in the eye.

“Cas… Cas, are you ok? Why are you crying? What’s happened?”

Dean reached out and tugged Cas’ hands away from his face when he didn’t get a response.

“Seriously, you’ve been worrying me, man. You can tell me if somethings going on.”

Watery eyes met his own, and Cas hesitated for a second before speaking.

“I don’t… I don’t know.

With that, more tears ran down his face, and when Dean held his arms out Cas almost collapsed forwards into them.

“It’s okay, Cas, I got you, just let it out honey, I’m here for you,” Dean murmured into Cas’ hair, rubbing his back gently.

The positive affection seemed to make another round of sobs wrack Castiel’s body, but his arms tightened around Dean’s waist and he burrowed his face further into Dean’s chest, so Dean didn’t dare pull away. He could freak out about this all later. For now, he had an angel to comfort.

Chapter Text

Castiel… didn’t exactly get human socialisation, sometimes.

He knew why it existed, of course, why it was important— friendship was something he’d lived without for millennia, before the Winchesters, but he couldn’t imagine going back to that lifestyle now. A life without connection was soulless, empty, and that wasn’t him. Not anymore.

But the practice of forming those friendships, of talking to someone new without scaring them off or boring them with his interests? That seemed beyond him, most of the time. How could he truly tell if someone was genuinely invested in what he had to say, vs pretending to be in order to seem polite?

And that was without adding in the weird mix of intentions people could have, especially considering he was apparently fairly conventionally attractive. Romantic and sexual interest seemed too easy to mix up with platonic intentions, even more so in the early stages, and Cas was tired of missing the signs. How did you work out someone was showing too much interest, was leaning forwards to bring their body closer to yours rather out of a desire to hear your words more clearly? And how was he supposed to make it clear that he was engaging in a conversation for purely friendly reasons, and wasn’t looking for anything more significant than that?

It was way more confusing than it really should be, in all honesty. But hopefully he’d have many more years down on earth trying to puzzle it all out.

Chapter Text

The first time that Prince Dean Winchester sees the man he is to be wed to, it isn’t in person.

This isn’t unexpected, considering his status. Rather than meeting the man in a tavern, or at the market, and choosing to spend the rest of his life with him, he is informed of his betrothal in a routine meeting with his father and their advisory staff. So when he first sets eyes on his future husband, it is in the portrait of the other prince that Bobby hands across to him with a consoling smile.

Dean had known this day was to come for years now, even if he hadn’t known the exact details. Love matches were uncommon in royalty, and he’d never harboured any illusions that he would be able to form his own. He just wished he’d gotten to meet the guy he was to spend the rest of his life with in-person, before all the stress and formality that would come with their ceremony surrounding their nuptials. But he didn’t exactly get a choice in these things.

The portrait was extremely flattering, but Dean hadn’t expected anything less. Portraits of nobility usually where, the best attributes of the subject brought into the limelight while any less desirable ones were ignored. He’d have no way of knowing how much artistic license had been taken with Castiel’s visage until they formally met, in however many months it took for the wedding arrangements and negotiations to be fully completed. He expected there had to have been some alterations, however.

Because seriously, there’s no way the prince’s eyes are that blue.

Chapter Text

The third time Dean sees Prince Castiel Novak, it is a week before their wedding. The Novak family and a few select nobles had travelled to the Winchester’s palace in advance, in order to ensure the wedding was being held in a manner that was favourable to both kingdoms, and Dean had found himself pushed to the wayside by his family. Because apparently having some say about the circus that would be surrounding him declaring his life to a man he barely knew was too much to ask.

It was this frustration that led him where he was now, standing awkwardly outside the room the maid’s had informed him was Castiel’s. He hesitated for a second, but gave in to his desire and reached out to knock awkwardly on the heavy door.

Castiel was slightly dishevelled when he opened the door, formal clothes a mess and hair rumpled as though he'd been sleeping, and he seemed slightly surprised to see Dean standing outside his room.

“Prince Dean! What brings you to my quarters? Is everything alright?”

Dean flashed the other man a small smile.

“Everything’s fine, Prince Castiel. I was just wondering if you would like to accompany me for a walk in the gardens? I feel as though it may benefit the both of us if we were to become friendly sooner rather than later, considering we are expected to spend the rest of our lives with each other.”

Castiel looked even more surprised at this suggestion, head tilted in his confusion.

“That seems sensible,” he agreed, before glancing down at the clothes he was wearing. “However, I should probably change into a more appropriate outfit first. May we meet in 10 or so minutes?"

Dean's smile widened, inwardly pleased that the other prince hadn't shot down his suggestion that they should make an effort to socialise prior to the wedding, and dipped his head in a respectful nod. 

"Of course! I shall be waiting by the library, come by whenever you are ready."

Chapter Text

post-it notes, left in various locations for each other to find

hey babe, thought you'd appreciate not having to eat hospital food for once. lmk if your shift gets extended, bc i might be able to swing heading in an hour late today. benny owes me

Sorry that I wasn't able to spend time with you before your shift yesterday, I hope this pie makes up for it <3

don't forget to take this jacket to gabes tmrw! still sad i can't make it :/

I washed your uniform before leaving, I think I got the smoke stench mostly out! I hope you have an uneventful but enjoyable day :)

maybe we'll actually see each other for more than five minutes tomorrow. i hope i didn't wake u up getting into bed last night

Our schedules really haven't been kind to us as of late, have they? Eat the salad I packed you as well as the pie.

honestly, sometimes i feel like i see less of you now than i did b4 we lived together

At least I get to wake up wrapped n your arms some mornings, although I do miss going on dates

i'm just glad my koala tendencies aren't too offputting in this sweltering heat. and honestly, i'd take being upright in the same vicinity as you for longer than 5 minutes (or not so upright, wink wink)

Heat or no heat, I will never protest being held in the arms of my devastatingly handsome boyfriend ;)

aww, you think i'm handsome? i'm nothing compared to you (especially with those gorgeous eyes of yours... seriously cannot understand how you hadn't already been swept off your feet when we met)

You made me flush in front of Meg yesterday, but I guess that's not the worst thing she's seen from us. She just called us 'sickening'. Have fun with Charlie today! Tell her I miss her almost as much as I miss her favourite handmaiden

charlie said she hadn't realised you and dot were so close, and that she hopes your schedule clears up enough to come along again soon

Considering I'll believe myself lucky to spend 30 minutes awake with you this month, that may have to wait

i know how you feel, but i think our luck may improve soon...

Ominous

very ;P

<3<3<3 Thanks again for swinging by on my lunch break. And thank Benny for swapping shifts with you Saturday, I can't wait to snuggle up with you and watch reruns of Dr Sexy (no matter how medically inaccurate it is)

of course, babe. ily <3 (and if u don't wanna watch it we could reenact it instead...? i'm sure i can find the boots somewhere ;) )

I love you too, Dean. (And... I'll consider it <3)

Chapter Text

It was somewhat strange, the first morning Dean rolled over to find Cas asleep next to him, rather than doing his usual Edward Cullen stare routine.

He’d known it was coming, had for a while now— Cas had sat him down a month or two ago to go through all the changes that would likely occur again now that he was losing his grace for good. Dean had found it a little ridiculous, at the time, as a) it’s not like this is their first rodeo with the whole ‘Cas falling’ thing, and b) he was just, well, turning human. And Dean was, unsurprisingly, very well versed in what it meant to be human, given he literally was one.

But knowing and experiencing are two very different things, and something about waking up next to the very obvious evidence that Cas was now a ‘full eight hours’ kinda guy made Dean feel. Odd. He just… couldn’t quite wrap his head around everything Cas was giving up, and the sudden reminder that Cas was slowly and surely becoming fully human was somewhat jarring.

But that sorta thinking was a little bit heavy for 7 in the morning, so Dean found himself mentally filing it away for later. Right now, he had a newly-human boyfriend to cuddle.

Chapter Text

“Cas was, uh. Cas was talking about last names, yesterday. Given he’s human now.”

Sam glanced up from his book before taking a sip of tea, sightly confused by the seemingly random topic of discussion.

“Oh, yeah? Did he have any thoughts about what he’d use?”

“Uh, kinda—”

“Because if he doesn’t know, he could probably stick with Novak. Honour Jimmy, or whatever.”

“He was considering that, but, uh. I had a suggestion that he’s probably gonna go with instead.”

“Dean, if this is your way of telling me that you tricked Cas into taking on a rockstar’s last name, I will be leaving to let him know before he’s procured fake papers, you know that right?”

Dean bit his lip, inexplicably nervous.

“No! No, nothing like that.”

“Then what is it? You’re acting weird, man.”

“I, uh. Isortamaybesuggestedhecouldtakeonourname.”

Woah, slow your roll, I barely caught any of that. Come again?”

“I. Well. Suggested he could take on my— our last name. Officially become a Winchester.”

The book Sam had been holding dropped to the ground, and Dean felt kinda glad he’d waited till Sammy was no longer holding his tea to tell him this.

“Holy shit, Dean, are you telling me you proposed to Cas???”

Dean flushed, hand coming up to rub the back of his neck while a small smile rose to his face.

“Essentially... yeah.”

The grin that split Sam’s face was positively huge, and a second later Dean found himself wrapped up in a tight embrace that screamed ‘proud younger brother.’ Sam pulled away a moment later, mindful of the boundaries Dean had set up around ‘chick flick moments’, but the smile stayed firmly on his face.

“I’m proud of you, Dean. You both deserve it.”

Chapter Text

Dean tensed slightly as he felt arms wrap around his waist, before relaxing back into the familiar embrace. He’d snuck out of the bar for this, somewhat shocked that their friends had even run the risk of bringing the two bachelor parties so close to each other, less than a street apart. He was almost 100% sure it had been a complete accident on Sammy’s side.

His brother had been determined to pull him and Cas apart for ‘one last hurrah’ when they organised these, spewing off some bullshit about tradition and superstition and other general nonsense which Dean was still pretty sure had been code for ‘I just don’t wanna have to watch you two eye-fucking for one night’.

And yeah, he’d had fun so far, getting tipsy with everyone and winking at the girls (and one guy) that had hopefully hit on him before informing them he was an almost-married man and they’d better go looking elsewhere.

But still. As great as his friends were, nothing beat this, the warm comfort of Cas’ arms around him, the sweet smell of honey that seemed to follow his angel wherever he went, the slight scratch of stubble where Cas was nosing the side of his neck. He moved his head to capture Cas’ lips in a gentle kiss before turning in Cas’ hold to return the loving embrace. Cas’ blue eyes blinked at him seriously, and Dean couldn’t help but tug him into a firmer kiss, hand threading up into his hair as Cas’ hand slipped up under the back of his shirt. They probably had five more minutes before their friends realised they’d both snuck off, and he was gonna make them count.

Chapter Text

Some part of Dean still felt like this wasn’t real. He didn’t know why, given he was standing at a literal fucking altar with Cas, but it was true.

Their friends and found family were gathered in the aisles, more people than Dean would have ever imagined trusting a decade ago, back when he and Cas first met. Sam was a familiar presence behind him, and he smiled at Charlie in her position behind Cas. He met Cas’ eyes again, then grinned when he saw the look of slight concern on his angel’s face. Cas could always read him so well.

He held his hand out for Cas to grasp rather than responding.

The contact was grounding, and Cas squeezed his hand firmly before searching his eyes for some clue. Whatever he saw must’ve satisfied him, as his own smile widened and he nodded to their pastor, prompting him to start the ceremony.

Dean felt the words wash over him. He knew he should be paying attention; this was his wedding for Christ’s sake, but he found himself drowning in the familiar blue of Cas’ eyes. He’d just watch the video back later.

They’d decided to forgo writing their own vows, both unsure of how to sum up the enormity of everything they were to each other in simple words, and Dean was glad for it now. As it was, he could barely pull his jumbled mind together enough to respond ‘I do’ when prompted. Cas seemed to be in a similar state, so absorbed in staring into Dean’s soul and the overwhelming feeling of pure, unadulterated love that surrounded them that he’d almost missed his cue. Some part of Dean suspected he actually would have if Dean hadn’t gone first, judging by the minute shift in his expression when Dean had spoken.

If Dean were a lesser man, he probably would’ve stuck his tongue out at Cas in response, but he suspected that Cas would’ve just called him out on how lost in the moment he also had been. He was tempted to do it anyway, but the pastor’s voice cut through his internal mix of elation and disbelief once again.

He held his husband’s (his husband’s!!!!) eye-line for another moment, matching smiles spread across their faces, before leaning in to seal his future with a kiss.

Chapter Text

Despite the amount of focused attention he’d put on trying to organise the wedding in a way where it would run smoothly, Dean had no real opinions on what he and Cas would do for the honeymoon.

“The wedding is stressful because I want to make sure guests won’t spontaneously decide to unleash 10 years of ill will on each other while we’re standing at the altar,” he explained, watching Sam and Cas closely. “The honeymoon is just us, and I trust we’ll be able to handle any issues that crop up. The only thing I wanna avoid is going on a plane.”

“I also do not have particularly strong feelings about where we end up having it,” Cas agreed. “All that really matters to me is that we’re together.”

Dean softened, reaching his hand out to squeeze Cas’ gently, and Sam (who’d taken his best-man duties to mean ‘wedding planner’ and hadn’t been met with any protest at this decision) thunked his head down on the table in exasperation.

“I’ll just book you into some random resort near the beach, I guess, if neither of you are gonna give me guidance on what you’re actually looking for. But you cannot complain if you don’t like where you end up— the most I can promise is ensuring there’s no cases there before I book.”

 

***

 

Sam had, unsurprisingly, done exactly what he’d said he would, and a few days after their wedding, Dean and Cas pulled up outside their accommodations for the next fortnight. The resort was far nicer than the hotel’s they tended to stay in for hunts, but not so much so that they’d feel out of place, and Dean grinned at Cas as they checked in to their suite, hands linked between them.

“Sam did a good job picking this place out for us, didn't he, angel?”

Cas smiled at Dean in response, then shifted his hand so their fingers interlaced.

“I didn’t expect anything else.”

 

***

 

They headed down to the beach a few hours after checking in— they would’ve gone down earlier, but Dean had wanted to ‘test the bed’ and Cas hadn’t exactly been complaining— and watched the waves together quietly, feet tangled together in the sand. Dean’s head rested on Cas’ shoulder, and both of them had slung an arm around the other's waist.

They weren’t alone on the beach, and noises from the various other resort guests filtered across to them, but a bubble of peace enveloped them anyway.

“I never thought I’d get to have anything like this,” Dean admitted. “Even in that year with Lisa and Ben, I wasn’t… at peace. I felt like I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, like things couldn’t last.”

“And now?” Cas replied, voice gentle.

“Now I trust that if the other shoe ever does drop, you’ll be there to catch it for me.”

Cas shifted his positioning, moving his hands upwards to gently cup Dean’s face. They sat like that for a moment more, staring seriously into each other’s eyes, before Cas leaned in to kiss his husband gently. With his lips, he carried a silent promise, reminiscent of the one they’d made in front of all their friends just days before.

Always, Dean. Always.

Chapter Text

Dean woke as the morning light hit his eyes, and buried his face in the junction of Cas’ neck with a groan.

Normally he wouldn’t mind waking up like this, he’d always been an early riser, but normally he hadn’t spent the previous night doing shots with his new husband before stumbling arm in arm back to their temporary bed. Considering the night they had, he wasn’t surprised they’d forgotten about the curtains.

He knew he wasn’t likely to fall asleep again now, given his track record, but he didn’t exactly want to get up either. If they were home at the bunker, he probably would’ve sucked it up and moved anyway— there was always something to do there, whether it be research for a hunt or general cleaning or just cooking breakfast for whoever was living there at the time. But here, in this resort, all he had to do was be content within the warm embrace of his husband.

Chapter Text

When Dean wandered down to the resort’s bar after his shower, he was met by a somewhat surprising sight.

Because there was Castiel, his Castiel, sitting across from a random blonde they didn’t know. And they were talking. That… didn’t happen often, given Cas' continued lack of familiarity with a lot of social cues, and seeing him so comfortable with a stranger was odd. And to see the women smiling and leaning in closer to Cas in response made something that felt a lot like jealousy flare up within him.

Now, Dean wasn’t one of those partners. Or he tried not to be, at least. He trusted Cas, trusted him with things far greater than just their sanctity of their new marriage, and he knew his husband wouldn’t cheat on him. That didn’t mean the woman he was talking to would know that, however.

So rather than grabbing a drink before heading to join Cas, as he’d initially been planning, he found himself heading straight towards them.

The blonde was wearing a tight Led Zeppelin tee, and a lifetime ago he probably would have hit on her. As it was, he saw a slimmer of interest rise in her eyes as he approached their table in time to hear Cas clearly state “Yeah, my husband hates flying so we decided staying in the country was best.”

Ah. So she probably wasn’t talking to him with the intention of ending up in his bed, as she didn’t seem surprised about the ‘husband’ bit, but there was always a chance she was just really determined.

So Dean didn’t falter in his stride, even though it probably wasn't entirely necessary for him to stake his claim. He’d spent about 20 minutes separated from his husband due to his shower, after all, and that was just too damn long if you were asking him. He dropped into the booth beside Cas and slung an arm around his shoulders before pressing a soft kiss to his cheek.

“Hey, babe,” he said, winking at the blonde, “Making a friend?”

Cas grinned at him, gummy smile on full display, and it took all of Dean’s self-control to not pull him in for a passionate kiss. They were sitting right across from a relative stranger, after all, and Dean wasn’t exactly looking to put on a show.

“She came over to say hi and I noticed her shirt. I thought you would like it, so I told her about you.”

Okay, so she probably had tried to hit on Cas but had backed off when Cas made it clear he wasn’t an option. Good to know. He just hoped she had more luck with the next attractive man that entered the bar.

“You’re not wrong, it’s a sweet shirt— I’ll make a classic rock fan outta you yet. Does our new friend have a name?”

He directed the question to the blonde, who had seemingly staved off any disappointment she felt at Dean also being taken in order to smile at the two of them softly.

“I’m Katheryn,” she replied, her smile growing as she saw both of them somewhat struggle to look away from each other as she talked. “You guys are really cute together, you know that?”

The smile Dean seemed to constantly wear around Cas widened, and he shifted even closer to Cas as he met her eyes properly for the first time since he entered the bar.

“It took us a long ass time to get here, but what we have now? I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Chapter Text

Dean had been napping comfortably on the beach with Cas’ fingers carding through his hair for about 20 minutes when his husband’s hands stopped rather abruptly.

“Why’d you stop?” He whined, well aware he sounded somewhat like a petulant child, and Cas chuckled before continuing his ministrations.

“I don’t mean to alarm you,” Cas said, keeping his voice low, “But a woman has been staring at us for the last 10 minutes or so.”

Dean grumbled slightly and opened his eyes, smiling as found himself squinting up at his husband’s face.

“Like, in a homophobic way? Does she look disgusted? Or is it in a ‘goddammit that really hot guy with the pretty blue eyes is super taken by his equally hot husband and I wish I could get myself a piece of that action’ kinda way?”

“Neither, really. She just looks… almost confused.”

Dean sighed before sitting up slowly, giving Cas plenty of time to shift out of the way so they wouldn’t knock heads (which he did, but only after stealing a quick kiss). They rearranged themselves so that Dean’s head was resting on Cas’ shoulder, and he immediately spotted the women Cas had been talking about.

She looked to be about their age, and she kept looking at Cas as though she couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing. Dean waved at her somewhat awkwardly the next time she glanced over, and she flushed before obviously making up her mind about something and walking closer to them.

“I’m sorry, this is probably really weird, it’s just… you look almost exactly like one of my old college buddies. Like, full-on spitting image doppelganger style. It’s… slightly freaky.”

It was only due to literal years of fielding situations a hell of a lot more unexplainable than this one that prevented Cas and Dean from tensing at this revelation. As it was, Cas managed a slightly intrigued sounding ‘Oh?’ while Dean curled himself even closer to Cas, happy to play the part of the tired but loving husband (although it wasn’t exactly a part).

“Yeah!” The woman continued. “It was really weird, he kinda fell off the face of the earth a few years ago. He had a wife and a kid and then he just sorta. Disappeared. None of us really know what happened to him.”

“That is strange,” Cas agreed. “What was his name?”

“Oh!” She laughed. “Jimmy— or James technically, I guess— Novak.”

Bingo.

“Well, I hope wherever he ended up, he’s ok,” Cas said, respectfully dipping his head. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Sally,” she replied. “What’s yours?”

“I’m Castiel, and this tired idiot is my husband Dean. We’re on our honeymoon.”

Dean blinked his eyes open again, not having quite realised he’d closed them. He managed another wave, and Sally grinned at them both.

“You seem to have worn him out,” she said with a wink, and Cas chuckled again as Dean made a feeble protest.

“I do my best,” Cas agreed, and Sally laughed again before taking a step back.

“Anyway, I should probably leave you two alone. Sorry for disturbing you!”

Dean and Cas both responded in kind, and when she’d rejoined her group they met eyes.

“Well. That could’ve gone a lot worse.”

Chapter Text

Castiel really didn’t love waking up early in the mornings, especially when compared to Dean. When the early morning light hit his face, he was a helluva lot more likely to grumble and roll over in his sleep than to relish in it like Dean tended to. Mornings just... weren’t his thing, and hadn’t been ever since his body started relying on sleep.

Which was part of why Dean knew Cas really, truly loved him. Because there was no way in hell he’d have agreed to getting up this early otherwise, when the sun hadn’t even started to rise.

 

***

 

It had been Dean’s idea, of course, that they should watch the sunrise while sitting on the beach at least one of the mornings of their honeymoon. But Cas had agreed to it much more easily than Dean had expected, for all that he seemed to be regretting the decision now.

“You can go back to bed if you really don’t wanna get up,” Dean said, as he pressed a soft kiss to Castiel’s brow. “I appreciate the attempt almost as much as the actual action.”

Cas, who’d looked mortally offended that his husband was trying to drag him out of bed this early begin with, somehow looked even more grumpy after Dean spoke.

“No,” he rumbled, eyes opening blearily. “It sounded… peaceful, when you suggested it. I’m just reluctant to leave the warmth of the bed.”

Dean chuckled.

“Well, I’d say we could bring the duvet with us, but I’m not sure the resort would like that very much. We can snuggle for body heat under a blanket?”

Cas blinked up at Dean seriously, as though he had to consider the offer, and a small smile broke over his lips.

“That seems… acceptable.”

(It was only Dean’s self-preservation instinct that stopped him from leaning in and stealing a kiss right at that moment. If he stole a kiss now, they wouldn’t stop until they were both breathless and the sun was risen, and Dean really didn’t think Cas would let him wake him up this early again.)

(The slight pang of regret he felt at that fact was well and truly forgotten 15 minutes later, when they were snuggled together on the sand, coffees in hand, and he got to see the joy in his husband’s face as brilliant colours filled the sky.)

Chapter Text

Despite the fact that it was a beach honeymoon, they hadn’t actually spent that much time in the water. It was with this fact in mind that Dean had dragged Cas out of bed at lunchtime, waylaying his plans to order room service by promising they’d order something from a café on the way down.

“Come on, I want to have a beach day today, angel.”

“We did spend time on the beach yesterday, did we not? I haven’t lost a day somewhere?”

Dean grinned.

“Well, yeah, but spending time on the beach isn’t quite the same as a beach day. We didn’t even go in the water!”

Cas sighed and let himself be tugged across to where their ransacked suitcases lay on the floor. (There were closets they could’ve put their clothes into, but Dean had declared it ‘too much effort’ on the first day they had arrived and Cas hadn’t felt inclined to disagree. Some habits broke hard, and Dean somewhat doubted he’d ever be able to stay somewhere other than home without feeling the need to be ready to pack up and go in as short a time as possible.)

“Well, I had an enjoyable time reading my book. I don’t see why we should have to swim for it to qualify.”

“Yeah, but this way we get to ogle each other topless in public, slowly apply sunscreen to each other's backs, see each other all wet from the ocean…”

As Dean spoke, he drew his attention away from where he was packing things in a day bag one-handed in order to lean in closer to Cas, till their lips were brushing gently. Cas’ pupils had dilated slightly in response to Dean’s words, and he lingered for a second more before pulling away with a smirk and a shrug.

“Of course, if you really would prefer to read, that’s fine too. I’m sure I can get someone else to help me out with my sunscreen, at least.”

Cas frowned in a way that showed Dean he knew exactly what Dean was pulling here, and was annoyed that it was working.

“I suppose my book can wait until tomorrow,” Cas finally acquiesced, and Dean grinned before leaning in for a proper kiss.

“I love you, babe.”

“And I you.”

Chapter Text

Having no responsibilities, no duties even remotely related to a hunt to do for such a long stretch of time was… disconcerting. A part of Dean wasn’t sure he liked it.

Not that he wasn’t enjoying himself, of course. This time with Cas, the freedom to choose what they would do each day, to talk casually to people who would likely never know the true horrors of the world— it was freeing, in a sense. They didn’t have to worry about keeping up appearances or entrusting too much information to someone who was just as likely to try and kill Cas for his inhuman status as help, about how to best work together to try and take a deadly monster down while planning for whatever big bad had decided that this was the year to come out and play. Instead, they could sip fruity cocktails on the beach, laugh about the fashion choices the people walking by had made, and just... exist in their love, without a care in the world for anything else.

But in some ways, it was making him itchy. Restless. Like things couldn’t hold up how they were.

He still believed what he’d said that first night. Unlike his year with Lisa and Ben, he had no doubts about what would happen when it inevitably did— Cas would stay, with him, support him through it while they ganked whatever they needed to in order to hold on to their stability. Gone were the days of Cas disappearing in a flutter of wings— they had each other, finally, and neither of them were willing to let go.

That didn’t mean Dean didn’t wish this tension hadn’t suddenly overcome him, that he couldn’t just accept that this bubble of comfort he and Cas had eked out for themselves would stay untouched.

He knew Cas could tell something was up. His husband had been staring quietly all day as they walked around town, concern obvious in his eyes, and Dean wasn’t surprised to find himself drawn into a hug as soon as they reached the comfort of their resort room.

“We didn’t have to go out today if you weren’t feeling up to it, honey.”

Dean found himself gripping the back of Cas’ shirt tightly, eyes watering, still somewhat stunned by the easy comfort even after all these months.

“I— I know, angel. I wanted to. I thought it would help bring me out of my thoughts a little.”

“Did it?”

“In some ways. It also reminded me of why I was having weird thoughts, though, so I don’t so if the good outweighed the bad or not.”

Dean felt Cas nod as much as he could while they were still wrapped around each other, and tightened his arms before walking Cas back blindly towards the bed. Later, they would talk over Dean’s worries and Cas would share some of his own so Dean would understand it wasn’t just him that was concerned about these things. Later, they would make a plan for how they wanted to proceed with everything surrounding hunting, what they would do in case of another (albeit unlikely) apocalyptic emergency coming their way, how much they themselves would do to prevent it and how much they would leave to the other hunters. Later, they would do all the practical work to ensuring that if either of them started worrying about these things again, the other would have something solid to point to and say ‘It’s okay, we can handle it, we know what we’ll do if there’s ever a next time’.

But for now, Dean wanted to surround himself with his husband and forget about the world and all its practicalities for a while longer, to remind himself that the future didn't matter, not when he had and would forever have Cas by his side.

Chapter Text

Some days, it’s harder than others.

Dean doesn’t always understand why.

Things are good. Things are great, even. They’d gotten Cas back from the empty, Jack was taking breaks from his godly duties to visit them down in the bunker at least once a week, Sam seemed to be thriving in his relationship with Eileen and his goal of digitising all of the bunker’s library.

And most days, Dean was able to recognise that.

But sometimes, it was like his brain… forgot. Or ignored it.

In the weeks before pulling Cas out, when Dean’s every waking moment was so utterly consumed by his grief, by the fact that he hadn’t said it back and that Cas had died in front of him, for possibly the last time, had felt so much joy from the simple act of loving Dean— well, he hadn’t had time to stop and think about the future. All he cared about was rescuing Cas, no matter what it took, because a world without him in it wasn’t one worth existing in.

But now that he had that time, he felt… Directionless.

He didn’t want to return to hunting, no matter what that voice in the back of his head said about it being his only worthwhile skill. He’d just gotten Cas back, and he wasn’t about to risk getting offed by some rando vampires in the middle of nowhere now that Cas was human again. There were younger, fitter hunters that could take the helm now.

But even though he wasn’t going to actively listen to it, part of him felt like the voice in the back of his head was right. He wasn’t like Bobby or Sam, he wasn’t patient enough to be a resource for other, newer hunters to come to and ask for advice. He was handy with cars, but didn’t have any actual qualifications to work on them and didn’t exactly know how he’d go getting hired to work as a mechanic. (Also, part of him couldn’t help but feel he would be a disappointment, if he went from literally saving the world to fixing Joe from down the road’s car so that he could get to his mundane office job every day. Castiel had assured him he wouldn’t be, that all he needed to consider was whether or not a job like that would make him happy, but that didn’t stop Dean from thinking it.)

Through everything, though, Cas had been by his side. No matter what mood he woke up in each morning, no matter how much energy he did or did not have, he knew he could rely on Cas’ support. That he would be able to forevermore. That Cas didn’t care if he had a purpose, if he did anything with the rest of his life beyond simply being as happy as he could be. And a lot of the time, that was enough.

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He knows, even before he sees Sam's face, that somethings gone wrong.

He doesn’t know how. Call it years of his instincts being honed carefully by hunting, teaching him to take note of that prickle when it appeared at the back of his neck. 

He’s just sitting, waiting for updates, dreading the moment he finds out that his instincts are as on point as he expects, that his worst fears will be confirmed. And then Sam walks in. 

Sam doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to. All it takes is them meeting each other’s eyes for everything that’s happened while he’s been stuck out here is communicated instantly.

And Dean shatters.

Chapter Text

Dean’s not quite sure how they got here.

The day had started off fairly normally, for them at least. It had been a fairly routine hunt, just a vamps nest, them getting their footing back after the slew of apocalyptic events they’d had to combat in recent times. But something had happened, something had gone wrong, and as he stared up at the ceiling of the dilapidated barn, he found a part of himself wondering if this was where it ended, for him. Seems fitting, given the most important part of my life began in a barn just like this, he thought dazedly, before blackness overcame him and he wasn’t able to think anything more.

Chapter Text

The first time Cas and Dean kiss, Dean is surprised by how normal it feels.

He isn’t quite sure what he was expecting, honestly. A part of him was worried that it would feel strange, that he wouldn’t enjoy it— that it would somehow make all these feelings inside of him go away, as though the years of devotion and love they’d built between them could be destroyed so easily. Another part of him thought it would be the most amazing first kiss he’d ever had, because how couldn’t it be? It was Cas, and they’d had over a decade of build-up with a pocketful of assorted deaths between them.

And it was momentous, of course, there was no denying that fact, but it was also just. A kiss. A little dry, Cas’ chapped and bitten lips signalling to Dean that he should add that beeswax chapstick to the grocery list again, and nervous in a way that he hadn’t experienced in years, given 90% of the kisses he experienced came from random hookups who didn’t give a shit (and the occasional demon they were making stupid deals within the course of averting the apocalypse for the 400th time).

They pulled away after a second, staring somewhat anxiously into each other’s eyes, and when it became apparent that the room hadn’t crumbled down around them due to the wrath of some cosmic entity, Dean let out a chuckle.

“That was—”

“Yeah.”

“Wanna… try again?”

Cas licked his lips before nodding, tension obvious in his body, and Dean smiled reassuringly before leaning in again.

This time he let his lips linger, a hand coming up to cradle the back of Cas’ head, and Castiel brought his arms up to wrap around Dean’s body in return. He softened with the kiss, loosening as Dean’s other hand rubbed his back gently, and his mouth parted with a gasp when Dean tugged at his hair.

That was definitely nice, especially as Cas didn’t seem inclined to protest Dean’s choice to take the gap as an invitation, and it wasn’t long before he felt the answering slide of Cas’ tongue against his own. He sucked on it gently and was rewarded by a moan that Cas cut off almost immediately. If they weren’t at risk of being walked in on at any moment, he probably would’ve protested Cas silencing himself, but instead it just served as a reminder that their privacy wasn’t guaranteed.

So Dean consciously slowed the kiss down, pulling himself back until their lips were just brushing gently. His eyes fluttered open, and he couldn’t help but feel pleased when he saw how blown Cas’ had gotten as they kissed. He knew his probably matched, but he a part of him still swelled with pride at the thought that he had been the one to affect Castiel like this, with nothing but his lips.

“I think that counts as a success,” Dean smirked, and Cas grinned brightly in response.

“I dunno,” he teased, voice even lower than usual. “We might need a little more practice.”

“Well, improvement is always possible, and I’m not gonna argue with you showing good work ethic.”

“I plan on us both putting in the time and effort this venture deserves from this point forwards,” Cas declared, before leaning in and connecting their lips once more.

Chapter Text

“Cas?”

“Yes, Dean?”

“Is it bad that I still love my father?”

“…”

“Like— I know how he raised me and Sammy wasn’t okay. I’ve known since before I even pulled Sammy back into hunting, if I’m being fully honest, if only because Sam had gotten into fucking Stanford and he couldn’t muster up the ability to say he was proud, even if it wasn’t the direction he wanted Sammy to take. And with everything that happened with Lisa and Ben— I just. I understand more now why it was fucked up.”

“It’s good that you can see that you deserved a more stable upbringing than the one that John Winchester provided you.”

“But like. Even with all of that, I still feel like I want his approval. Even though I know that I don’t need it, that I’m enough on my own and all of that hippy crap you and Sammy force on me constantly, a part of me still craves the feeling that I’ve made him proud, that he cares about me. And the idea that I wouldn’t get it because of shit as basic as me fucking. Embracing that dudes are just as hot as women at times screws with my head.”

“It’s okay if you are struggling to reconcile what you feel about your father now that you are more confident within yourself with the years you spent looking up to him and modelling your behaviour into someone you thought he could be proud of.”

“But shouldn’t it be easier than this? Like, my dad was a homophobic prick who lied about a great number of things to us while leaving us at home whenever he went off on a revenge quest against every supernatural creature in existence. I shouldn’t still feel like I need his acceptance, I’ve stopped the friggin world from ending multiple times and am in a committed relationship with a dude-shaped being that loves me. That should be enough.”

“Knowing your father wasn’t the perfect person you used to pretend he was doesn’t erase the years you spent trying to get him to stick around, nor the relationship you had with him prior to his passing. The fact that it wasn’t a healthy relationship doesn’t mean it was any less important to you, and there are many things you didn’t get a proper chance to try and work out with him due to his death. Although it’s likely you would never have truly been able to work out some of those issues, due to John’s own issues and ingrained beliefs, losing that possibility of change isn’t easy either.”

“Yeah… Yeah. I guess that makes sense. I just— wish I didn’t care so much, sometimes.”

“And that is perfectly okay, as is you caring as much as you do.”

“Thanks, Cas.”

“Always, Dean.”

Chapter Text

Castiel was... surprisingly good at ice skating. Considering Dean highly doubted he’s ever attempted it before, at least. He wasn’t perfect, by any means, wasn’t gonna be in the running for a world record at the Winter Olympics any time soon, but there was a lot less dramatic hand clutching and a lot more stoic determination as he slowly got his balance while pushing around the rink.

It was, nevertheless, way more friggin’ adorable than a 6 foot angel of lord had any right to be.

Cas seemed confused by that assessment, when Dean brought it up to him.

“I am just trying to retain my balance while skating, Dean, I don’t see how my behaviour is particularly ‘adorable’ in this instance.”

Dean grinned and winked.

“Everything you do is adorable, angel, I’m shocked you haven’t weaponised it into getting whatever you want from me at all times.”

Cas reached out and tugged Dean closer, slightly shaky on his skates but more stable than Dean would’ve expected. Dean melted into the kiss Cas offered, and Cas smirked lightly.

“I didn’t realise I had to be adorable to get you to do what I wanted to do.”

Chapter Text

Dean’s attempts to educate Cas on the wonders of modern television amped up in the wake of them getting together, to absolutely no ones surprise.

Not only did it give him an excuse to cuddle with Cas on the couch in front of the tv whenever possible, he was determined that he would not be dating anyone who didn’t have a thorough understanding of all the media he referenced on a daily basis.

He was somewhat disappointed to see Cas was as desensitised to the horror movies they tried as Dean and Sam had been from years of hunting, even though it wasn’t exactly a shock.

“You’re supposed to get scared and cuddle up to me when something freaky comes on screen,” He explained, when Cas was confused by his visible disappointment.

“Dean, even if I hadn’t been hunting with you and Sam for years now, I am an angel of the lord. There isn’t much fictional violence you could show me that would scare me.”

“Yeah, but I like having an excuse to cuddle you when we watch movies together.”

“Do we not do that anyway??”

There was a beat of silence.

“Oh, is this one of those things that you fear undermines your masculinity to some extent? Because if you really need me to, I can pretend to be scared when Sam walks in, even if I doubt he’ll believe it.”

Dean sighs.

“Nah, you’re right. It wouldn’t make sense. You can just glare at him if he looks like he’s gonna make a smart ass comment about us.”

Cas smiled.

“Good. Now get back on this couch and cuddle me while we watch the next movie.”

 

Chapter Text

“Uh— I’m guessing you don’t wanna talk about how the project was today?” Sam asked hesitantly, eying Dean as he huffed into their shared kitchen.

“It was friggin’ wonderful, we’ve officially hit the halfway mark. Which was worthy of a celebration, obviously.”

“Well that’s good— Isn’t it? You seem. Stressed. Did— well. Did Castiel do something again? You could’ve asked about swapping groups at the start of the project, you know.”

“Of course Cas did something! He thrives off being a dick to me!”

Sam sighed.

“What was it this time?”

“He brought in a cake to celebrate the halfway mark!!”

Sam blinked.

“Dude, some people just like cake. You having a preference for pie doesn’t mean this was a personal attack.”

“Sam, we had the pie vs cake debate 2 weeks ago! He voted for pie initially, and the majority of our group agreed!! Literally the only reason he would have for bringing in a cake instead is how vehemently I defended my position when Kevin tried to argue the point.”

“If… you’re sure?”

Dean, who had pulled out what Sam considered his Plotting Notebook™ at this stage and was now flipping through it carefully, paused for a moment to glance up at Sam.

“Oh, I am,” he replied darkly.

Chapter Text

“Is it weird that I sometimes feel like I haven’t done enough?”

“In what way, Dean?”

“Like. For the world.”

“Dean, you have played a vital role in averting the apocalypse on multiple occasions.”

“Yeah, but. Even with that, there’s just so much death and destruction in the world. Both monstrous and human. And it feels like there’s barely anything we can do to change things.”

“Dean, I know how it feels to know that the are issues in the world that you can’t fix. I myself have struggled with this since coming down to earth, especially in the wake of losing my grace. But it’s important to try and remember that you are just one man. One man that’s had far too much responsibility placed upon his shoulders. You have done far more for humanity than anyone will ever know. It is not your responsibility to fix everything wrong in the world, even if some part of you feels like you should try.”

“Sometimes I feel like everything we achieved was pointless, you know? Because after everything we did to stop everyone that Chuck decided to throw at us for kicks, it feels like humanity is gonna be its own downfall, and there’s nothing we can do to change it.”

“But people are trying, even if it sometimes feels like things are inevitable. Humanity may be struggling, but individuals are trying to correct the mistakes we’ve made in the past and are working towards a better future. You aren’t part of the 1 percent, you aren’t actively making the future worse for everyone else— saving the world we live in from the issues that humanity itself has caused isn’t the responsibility of any one individual, even though there are certainly individuals in positions to enact far more serious change than the likes of you and I could manage. It’s important to remember that.”

Chapter Text

After the barn, Dean takes some time to process. He’d spent such a long time wondering if he’d get to meet his soulmate, if the demon deal he’d made had fucked with whatever forces were in charge of bringing their paths across each other, and here was this being claiming to be an angel that looked like he’d walked out of all of Dean’s dreams. If it wasn’t for the wings, he’d wonder if Castiel happened to be possessing his real soulmate, but no amount of lateral thinking was explaining that little fact away.

Bobby left him mostly alone, probably assuming Dean was turning the idea of angels and God around in his head before making any decisions about Castiel, so he wasn’t offended by the obvious surprise in the older hunter’s eyes when he did seek him out for a conversation. His shock only doubled at Dean’s revelation.

“I think- I think Castiel is my soulmate, Bobby.”

That night, Dean doesn’t dream. He’s not sure whether or not it’s a relief.


***

“This is kinda a weird question, but... do angels have soulmates?”

“Why would we, Dean? We don’t exactly have souls, and we do not have a need for fulfilling connections the way humans do.”

“Well— can a soulmate connection be wrong? One-sided??”

“Soulmate connections are one of Gods greatest gifts to human-kind. He would not do anyone the disservice of giving them a connection that only went one way.”

Chapter Text

As it turns out, Cas is much more socially awkward when he isn’t catching Dean in the middle of a crime. They had arranged to meet and discuss things, as Dean wanted some answers that he hadn’t had time to get while they were lugging a body around, but it wasn’t until Dean saw Castiel in broad daylight that he realised he might be screwed in more ways than just the obvious ‘someone now knows I’m a graverobber’ he’d assumed.

Because, well, Cas’ eyes weren’t the only physically attractive aspect of him.

That being said, Castiel seemed more stilted in their conversation than he had expected.

“So. I gotta know. That thing about you being the dead guy's son. Was that real, or did you just make it up so that you could avoid reasonable suspicion if someone found you by the grave?”

Cas cocked his head, clearly confused.

“That… was true. Why do you ask??”

“Well, beyond the obvious point that most people’s hatred of their parents doesn’t extend to the point where they help a resurrectionist dig up and sell their father’s body… I saw the shovel you brought last night.”

Castiel blinked.

“And?”

“And I thought you might’ve been another resurrectionist planning on selling his body, and used it as a cover so that I didn’t think you were moving in on my ground, or whatever.”

Cas smiled slightly in response, apparently amused.

“While I can understand why you might come to that conclusion, I think you are severely underestimating the hatred I felt for my father prior to his death.”

“Was it not just the med school thing? I assumed it was the med school thing.”

Castiel’s smile widened, and Dean could’ve sworn his eyes flicked to Dean’s lips for a second.

“That… among other things.”

Chapter Text

When Castiel first started having the dreams, the primary emotion he felt was probably best labelled as confusion.

He knew he’d started to fall, that was obvious by the fact that he was sleeping in the first place, but dreaming was such a human thing to do. A way for their more feeble minds to process the events they experienced on a day to day basis and categorise them as needed. For an angel to be dreaming, even one in the process of falling? Well, it seemed unusual, to say the least.

On top of that, the dreams themselves were very strange. They were muddled and unclear, all centring around a pair of bright green eyes that he associated instinctively with Dean, and they left him with a vague sense of longing when he awoke.

After a week or so with no change, he found himself asking Sam about them

“Well, Cas— Do angels have soulmates? Because that sounds a hell of a lot like the dreams I had in the meetup to meeting Jess for the first time.”

At Sam’s question, Castiel recalled Dean asking the exact same thing, back when they had only met a handful of times. Funny how the brothers could mirror each other so well even unintentionally, although Sam’s question seemed less out of the blue than Dean’s had been.

“As I told your brother when he asked, there’s not really a point. They were a gift God bestowed upon humanity to foster connections.”

“Wait— you’re saying Dean asked you about soulmates? Voluntarily?”

Castiel tilted his head, feeling slightly bewildered.

“Well, yes? I hadn’t realised that was strange for him.”

“Castiel, Dean hates talking about soulmates. He won’t even talk about them with me. The fact that he asked you about them is… Out of character, to say the least.”

Unwittingly, Cas found his mind flitting back to the image of green eyes that had burned through his mind so strongly, and his instinctive feel that they were Deans, although he shook the thought off immediately.

The dreams were nothing, he was sure. It was just… his minds way of processing falling, the change from angel to human.

Angel’s had no need for soulmates, after all.

(Somehow, Cas managed to ignore the fact that humans did.)

Chapter Text

“Dean, if we’re pursuing this, we need to have a talk about Jimmy.”

Dean froze, arm half outstretched in preparation to sling around Cas’ shoulders, and blinked at Cas for a second.

“Oh, uh. Yeah. That makes sense.”

Cas looked at him, concerned, and Dean pulled his arm back to scratch the back of his neck awkwardly.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah! God, yeah, Cas, I’ve been alright since you kissed me yesterday. I just— forget you’re not the only person in your body, sometimes.”

“It may be my vessel, Dean, but this body still belongs to Jimmy. That’s why we need to talk about him, actually.”

“Yeah, I get that. You, uh. Know what I mean. So what’s up? Have you two been talking? Did he tell you he feels uncomfortable with us being together due to the whole wife-and-kids deal he’s got going on? Because I wouldn’t blame him, you know. Might resent him now that I’ve gotten the chance to realise that this thing between us isn’t one-sided, but I wouldn’t blame him.”

“Not… exactly? I don’t know if I’ve talked about this with you before, but despite angels and their vessels not requiring sleep in the traditional sense, the human’s that we possess are still aware and taking in information that their mind’s need to process. This means they go through periods akin to REM sleep, where they aren’t fully conscious of the outside world and the actions the angel possessing them is undertaking.”

Dean nodded.

“That… makes sense, I guess? Is there a point to this, Cas?”

“Jimmy stated that he feels slightly uncomfortable with the idea of us indulging in intimacy while he is conscious, because of the ‘whole wife-and-kids deal’, as you put it, but that he is not against the idea of us engaging in intimacy in general terms.”

“Okay…”

“As he is my vessel, I would like to keep things as comfortable as possible until we find some other solution for how I could obtain a vessel that is wholly my own.”

The idea of Cas looking any different to how he did when they met cut Dean to his core, but he nodded anyway. Cas wasn’t wrong for desiring a body of his own, and Jimmy had a family he needed to get back to.

“Because of this, even if we pursue a formal romantic relationship, we would need to keep our interactions as platonic as possible during the time periods where Jimmy is awake. I know this is a lot to ask of you, so if you wish to postpone things until we have found a solution for me having my own body, then that is understandable, and I will not resent you for the actions that you undertake in the meantime.”

“Cas— Cas, listen to me. I’m— Actually, is Jimmy awake right now?”

Castiel shook his head, and Dean grabbed his hand to pull him in closer.

“I told you yesterday, angel. I’m all in. Shit might be a little, uh, hard for us before we sort you out with a hot new vessel, but we’ll get through it. Anyway, I’d feel like a dick if I was shacking up with someone else for a night knowing I could be having you, even if we can’t act on our relationship a lot of the time. You’re kinda it for me, Cas.”

It wasn’t until he saw the tension leaking out from Cas’ stance that he realised how stressed this whole conversation had been making the angel. A small smile crossed his lips, and Dean couldn’t resist tugging him in for a gentle kiss.

“I’m glad,” Cas admitted, and Dean chuckled softly.

“I am too, honestly.”

Chapter Text

The fourth (fifth-sixth-seventh-eighth-ninth—) time(s) Dean sees Castiel Novak, they don’t get a chance to talk. Not really. They’re all during formal affairs, both their times being taken up way too much by the wedding preparations, and dinners with their assorted families are the closest they get to any real privacy.

But even then, there are expectations. Despite the small amount of familiarity they had formed with each other on their walk, they both knew their mothers would be watching them and that they couldn’t relax in each other’s company the way that Dean so sorely wished they could. He didn’t know Castiel yet, couldn’t tell if he even wanted the chance for anything more than the friendship that would form through the necessity that being bound for life would create, but something within him held hope that their future together was bright.

Only time would tell.

Chapter Text

As he continued down the path to humanity, Cas found himself... wanting, in ways he never had before. He’d catch Dean’s eyes on a hunt, see him grin in a self-satisfied way, and it opened up a yearning in his slowly forming soul that he didn’t quite know what to do with.

If he had to classify it, he’d probably do so as ‘attraction’, mixed in with his general love for humanity that had always seemed to burn brighter during his interactions with the hunter, even when he was still wholly angel.

He wouldn’t do anything about it, however.

Dean had a soulmate somewhere, and she was waiting for him to crash into her life and uproot it in all the best ways, just as he had Castiel’s. It didn’t matter that he was becoming more and more sure that the individual he was dreaming of each night was Dean— he was an angel, after all.

Chapter Text

Being in a relationship with Castiel after all these years of friendship was… strange, honestly.

Strange in the best of ways, obviously, but still strange.

They’d both spent so much time denying themselves the things they both obviously wanted that being freely allowed to indulge in their mutual affection for each other was taking some getting used to, and he wasn’t sure how best to remedy that fact.

He felt like absolute shit every time Cas reached for him and his first instinct was to shy away from the touch, even though the angel seemed to understand. And even when he did melt into Cas’ embrace, it didn’t take long for him to pull away, especially if someone else was in the room with them.

Chapter Text

At some point after things had settled, Castiel started wearing nail polish. Dean couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment it started, having seen it as a relatively unimportant development considering Everything they’d been through in the past few years, but he couldn’t help but smile every time he saw what flash of colour Cas had adorned his fingers with each week.

He’d asked about it once, when Cas had painted them while sitting at the bench as Dean baked. He didn’t mean anything by the question, wasn’t passing a judgement on this new way Castiel had decided to express himself, so he was amused when Cas squinted curiously down at his half-finished nails for a few moments before glancing back up and shrugging in Dean’s direction.

“I guess it just… makes me happy, in some ways. Having my nails painted serves as an indulgence, a reminded that I am allowed to express myself now, in ways I couldn’t before— both during my time as a loyal angel and during the time we spent hunting. They remind me that I am allowed to just be in whatever way I wish too now.”

Dean, who had stopped kneading as Cas explained, found himself leaning over the bench to cup Cas’ face with a floury hand and pull him in for a soft kiss. It had taken them far longer than most would have to reach this place of soft comforts and slow, meandering days, and sometimes Dean liked the reminded that this was what his future would be, as long as he wished it to be so. There was another moment of quiet, and Cas pulled back to continue applying the polish.

“Also, I find it very aesthetically pleasing. That’s why I started, really.”

Chapter Text

Dean sighed as he watched Castiel start on another intricately drawn title.

“I have no friggin’ idea why Charlie thought it would be a good idea to stick us together for a section.”

Castiel frowned down at his page as his pen apparently decided to stop working. After a quick glance across at the page Dean had been doodling idly on, he held his hand out for Dean’s instead. Ignoring the voice in the back of his head that was whispering ‘intricate rituals’ as he did it, he deftly swapped what pen he was using without Cas noticing and handed another empty one across.

“I think she thought it might force us to put aside our differences and work together for a change.”

Cas had barely put the pen to his page to test it before he was holding his hand out again. It probably said something that neither of them raised a fuss about this particular song-and-dance anymore, not like they had when Dean first started handing Cas dried out pens.

“Yeah, Cas, but you’re annoying as shit. That’s not gonna change if we’re stuck in close proximity to each other for long periods at a time. If anything, we’ll be worse when the group starts working as a whole again.”

Cas froze as the next pen hit his hand, looking at Dean curiously.

“You— you called me Cas.”

Dean froze in return. Although he’d been mentally referring to Castiel by the shortened version of his name for some time now, he’d always been sure to keep to ‘Castiel’ when the other student was around him. He couldn’t exactly go around having a nickname for his rival, after all.

“Uh, yeah. It’s just easier to say, yanno? Only one syllable and everything.”

A small smile rose to Cas’ lips, and Dean reached out to take a sip of his (black) coffee to avoid meeting his gaze.

“No one’s ever called me that before,” he admitted, and Dean’s cheeks flushed.

“Well, I’m glad to know I’m unique if nothing else.”

Chapter Text

The first time it happened, it was an accident.

Despite all the joy he drew out of his rivalry with Castiel, Dean did have some boundaries. Him and Cas weren’t the only people who would be screwed over if their bickering started impacting on their work.

So when Castiel first asked to borrow a pen and the two he handed across both happened to be dead as well, he’s as surprised as Cas is. The second time, however... Well, he couldn’t truly enjoy Castiel’s annoyed expression when he hadn’t put it their purposefully.

It’s Cas’ decision to return the favour in their next lesson together that pushes this into a war.

 

***

 

“Dean, do you that maybe think you’re, well, taking things a bit further than you need to?”

Dean blinked across the table at Sam, the picture of confusion.

“Not really, no. This dude annoys the fuck out of me.”

“Yeah, but—”

“No buts! Just watch what I’m doing and tell me what you see. I need my sleight of hand to be seamless if I’m gonna pull this off.”

Chapter Text

“Dean, can I ask you something?”

“I didn’t realise you needed my permission for that, Sammy, I would’ve exercised that control a hell of a lot more often when you were an annoying toddler if I had.”

“It’s— It’s about soulmates.”

Dean paused, sipping from his mug carefully before placing it down with a sigh.

“You can ask, but I won’t guarantee an answer.”

Sam, apparently, didn’t mind that.

“Have you— I mean, have you started dreaming yet? Do you know if...”

Dean thought of Cas, the way he always did when soulmates were discussed these days. His bright eyes, the gummy smile he sometimes gifted Dean with, the way he tilted his head when he was confused.

“I... don’t really know if I have a soulmate yet, no.”

The half lie burned bitter on his tongue.

“Okay,” Sam said, slumping slightly. “It’s just— I’ve started having dreams again.”

“That’s not entirely unheard of, Sammy, surely you know that. You’re educated about this shit.”

(The ‘especially when one soulmate dies young’ was left unsaid, but Dean knew they were both thinking it.)

Sam sighed, slouching further.

“It just... feels like a disservice to Jess, in some ways. I know I’ve had relationships since her death, but none of them were ever gonna be ‘the one’, as she was supposed to be ‘the one’, so finding out I have another soulmate...”

Dean grimaced, wanting to offer comfort but not sure how to go about it.

“I— you know she’d want you to be happy, right? She wouldn’t want you to live your entire life without finding that sorta connection again.”

Sam sent Dean a wry grin.

“Yeah, I guess. The dreams seem fairly unclear for the moment anyway, so I guess we’re a while away from meeting whoever it is.”

“Hopefully the worlds still standing when you do.”

Chapter Text

“Babe— babe, I thought the point of today was that we would go in the water. Not that you would watch me going in the water.”

Cas frowned slightly from his spot on his towel.

“If we want to get technical, this was your idea. I begrudgingly agreed, and we’ve thus far completed two of your suggested activities. That counts as a success, surely.”

Dean grinned as Cas very obviously took part in suggested activity number one before returning his attention to watching the water.

“Only if you weight them all equally, I’m afraid. Swimming is worth 50% of the credit.”

Cas pouted at Dean slightly.

“But the water looks cold…” He whined, and Dean cackled.

“Oh, it’s not that bad, you big baby. We’re in Florida, the friggin’ suns out and everything. Up you get.”

Cas sighed, but allowed Dean to pull him up from his seat on the beach.

“What if someone steals our stuff while we’re in the water?”

“Well, angel, that’s what credit-card frauds for,” Dean winked, and Cas smiled even as he rolled his eyes.

God, he loved his husband.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Dean felt untethered in the sheer strength of everything he felt for Castiel. He’d spent so long supressing these sorts of feelings — not believing he could ever have anything like this, not believing he deserved it — that allowing himself to feel so freely left him vulnerable. He’d glance over at Cas frequently and find himself bowled over by the wave of love that flooded his system, at risk of drowning in the ocean that comprised of his affection for the blue-eyed angel he had essentially sworn his life to. He’d be okay, though.

Cas felt the same, after all.

Chapter Text

Somehow, Dean doubted the little thrill he got every time he remembered Cas was his husband would ever die down.

Sure, right now it was still fresh and new, and that fact was probably contributing to his newfound habit of obnoxiously referring to Cas as his husband at literally every available opportunity, but it wasn’t like Dean could help it. They’d gone through so goddamn much to be together the way they were now, and Dean wanted everyone around him to know that he’d managed to con someone as amazing as Castiel to dedicating the rest of his existence with his dumb ass.

And those facts would never change, no matter how long they’d been married, so Dean knew a part of him would always light up like a Christmas tree at the reminder that he and Cas were husbands.

He just hoped Sammy wouldn’t murder him when they got back to the bunker and he inevitably demonstrated that love and excitement at every available moment.

Chapter Text

For as long as he can remember, Dean’s been hiding the mark on his right forearm.

He’s luckier than some, as forearm marks are fairly easy to keep hidden. There’s been a couple of incidents on hunts, where whatever sonofabitch they had to gank that week took a swipe at him and tore through the material that he’d been wearing every day since he hit 16 and his mark had started to appear, but it could be worse. He could be like Sammy, who grew his hair long and wore high collared shirts to hide the mark on the back of his neck, or like the unlucky fuckers who had to deal with face marks.

Part of Dean, however, wishes he had the confidence to go bare. To walk around, mark uncovered, hoping that he’d stumble across his one-and-only somewhere along the way.

A different, much bigger part of him said that he didn’t deserve it, didn’t deserve them, whoever they were, and well.

For all that he liked being contrary, Dean did occasionally go along with the majority opinion.

Chapter Text

When Castiel first starts falling, he thinks he knows what to expect. He may not have personal experience on the matter, but he’s been observing humans since the day they were created, and has spent the last little while in the close company of two of them. Things might be weird for a little bit, but he’d adjust.

Of course, he hadn’t accounted for the possibility that he’d develop a soulmark.

And even if he had, he certainly wouldn’t have accounted for it being one he recognised instantly. He’d probably have assumed it would be as unfamiliar to him as everything else about being newly human.

But instead, he found himself staring down at his right forearm with a feeling that he registered vaguely as shock.

Because he knew this mark. Knew who it belonged to. How couldn’t he?

He’d rebuilt it molecule by molecule once, after all.

Just as painstakingly as he’d rebuilt the man it belonged to when he pulled Dean out of Hell.

Chapter Text

Dean really didn’t know how it could get better than this.

The sun was shining, the world wasn’t ending, and he was laying wrapped up in Castiel’s arms.

His views on happiness may have changed fairly drastically over the years, with both the more he saw of the world and the further he was able to develop from his father's black-and-white influence working together to tell him that it was okay to want a life outside of hunting, and for that life to be with a man (or man-shaped being)— but that didn’t change his heartfelt belief that this was as good as it got. If further down the line he got proven wrong, he wasn’t gonna complain, but he’d be perfectly content if he never did.

Because really, what more could you want??

Chapter Text

Eventually, Castiel mentally acknowledges what the dreams that flood his brain every night mean. There’s only so far that denial will stretch, and they’ve been feeling particularly… loud, as of late. Like whatever force God had left in charge of developing soulmate dreams had gotten pissed off at him ignoring the truth and had stuck up a dozen neon signs and a loudspeaker all blaring ‘DEAN WINCHESTER IS YOUR SOULMATE’ at him every night.

At least this way, he’d find some peace in his sleep. He wasn’t going to talk to Dean about it, however, even if Dean was the person he loved more than anyone (and anything) in the world.

Because either Dean didn’t dream of him, had some human soulmate that God picked out for him when he was born — someone good, someone whole, not someone with a ‘crack in their chassis’ like Castiel — or Dean knew they were soulmates, and just didn’t want him.

Castiel honestly didn’t know which possibility would be more devastating to him, and he wasn’t exactly looking to find out. So silence it was.

Chapter Text

As soon as Castiel woke up, he found himself feeling off.

He couldn’t pin down why, he had no reason to be feeling this way, but he entered his morning routine with a dark cloud hanging over him that he couldn’t seem to shake. He couldn’t even sit out in the garden with his bees for half an hour like he usually did when he felt this way, as it was pouring outside and they’d all be safely away in their nests for the day.

He could tell Dean was concerned, could feel the weight of his gaze as he brooded around in the living room, but he couldn’t quite muster a fake smile to send his way to reassure him everything was okay. Because everything wasn’t okay, even if Cas couldn’t put words to why they weren’t. He just felt… empty.

Hopefully, he’d wake up tomorrow feeling as bright as he usually did, and then he could blot today from his memory, term it an unexplained and temporary dip in his emotions without having to consider it any further.

He’d just have to wait and see.

Chapter Text

Dean grinned fondly across at Cas, who was sitting at the kitchen table looking grumpy (and adorably sleep ruffled, in Dean’s eyes) despite the sun shining outside.

“Come on, angel, you can’t sleep in all day. We have things to get done, ya know?? Chores and shit.”

Cas’ expression didn’t change, even as he took a sip of his ridiculously sweetened coffee.

“I don’t see why these chores couldn’t have waited another hour, Dean.”

“Cas, it’s 11 am.”

“So?”

Dean arched an eyebrow at his somewhat ridiculous partner.

“So it’d be midday??”

“And? I don’t suddenly lose the ability to go shopping when the clock ticks over into pm, you know.”

Dean sighed.

“Yes, technically the chores could’ve waited while you got an extra hours sleep. But! I was lonely, as such I wanted a hug, and you give better hugs when you’re awake.”

Cas, who until this point had continued projecting his disgruntled vibes out at the world, set his coffee down gently before holding his arms out at Dean with a small smile on his face.

“Well, come over here then.”

Chapter Text

“I’ve... developed a soulmark,” Cas admitted, rubbing his wrist awkwardly.

Sam, who until that point had been feeling vaguely worried about whatever it was Cas had wanted to talk about, beamed brightly, although his smile dimmed as he spoke.

“That’s great, Cas! Finding your soulmate, it’s... well, it’s the best feeling in the world, honestly.”

Cas shrunk back in on himself.

“I’m sorry, Sam, I should’ve realised—”

Sam waved a hand dismissively.

“It’s fine, I get why you’re coming to me about it rather than Dean. It’s not something he really talks about freely. But seriously, this is good news. For one thing, it means that you ditching heaven was supposed to happen, doesn’t it? Because whoever your soulmate is, they’ll have been marked for years at this stage. Unless you’re cradle-robbing, which I doubt you will be.”

“That’s— I hadn’t thought of it like that, actually.”

Sam smiled again, softly.

“I thought you’d have forgotten that side of things. But honestly, even without that, soulmates in general are amazing. When I first realised me and Jess matched, a month or so after we first met... everything just clicked into place, you know?”

“About that... how do you ask someone to compare marks??”

“Oh! Do you think you know who your soulmate is? Because that’s the main reason to ask unless you’re already dating, and I know you’re not seeing anyone.”

“Yeah, I think— No, I know I saw their mark back when I was fully an angel. I just don’t know how to tell them.”

Sam blinked.

“Well, Cas, most people would be happy to find out and would appreciate your honesty with coming to them so soon after it developed. You don’t have to approach the conversation in any particular way, you just have to tell them.”

“What if I know my soulmate doesn’t like talking about these sorts of things?”

Sam blinked again.

“You mean like Dean??”

Cas visibly tensed at his words, and Sam paused for a second before he fully registered what that meant

“Wait, holy fuck, Dean’s your soulmate??”

“I— Well— Yes. He is. I recognised his mark as soon as it appeared on my forearm.”

Sam grinned, wider than he had even at the start of the conversation.

“Cas, trust me. Tell him. It’ll go fine.”

Chapter Text

Cas, despite Sam’s insistence that he was being an idiot, avoided bringing the topic of soulmarks up with Dean for as long as humanly possible.

He told himself he was just being practical, waiting for the ‘right time’ in between all of their hunts and apocalypse averting activities. Justified things as him not wanting to spring the subject on Dean, wanting things to instead come up naturally in a situation where the hunter wouldn’t get spooked. Denied the idea that he was being self-serving in any way by avoiding the topic, that was allowing himself to cling to these moments where Dean didn’t know, and therefore couldn’t reject Cas and his matching soulmark and everything it represented for the two of them.

Because really, why would Dean want him?

Of course, this delay meant that when the topic did finally come up, it wasn’t under Cas’ own terms. It was, in fact, the exact opposite of that ‘right time’ he’d been theoretically waiting for.

 

***

 

It was after a particularly messy hunt, an incredibly violent pair of vengeful spirits that had left them going back to their hotel room to lick their wounds and recollect themselves after salting and burning the bodies. Dean had patched up Sammy’s wounds as diligently as he always had after a hunt and looked expectantly at Cas as he hovered next to the chair awkwardly.

“Come on, I can see you’ve got a bad scrape on one of your arms. I’m gonna need to at least clean the wound, even if you don’t think it warrants stitches.”

Cas cringed, looking down at the arm in question. He was fairly sure the cut had missed his soulmark, the familiarity he had with its positioning acting as a reassurance rather than a reminder of what he couldn’t have for once, but he knew that it was close enough that there was no way to treat the wound without the mark being visible.

“I can handle it myself, Dean, you don’t need to worry.”

“I’m always gonna worry, Cas, you should know that by now. And it’ll be much more difficult for you to treat the cut yourself than it would be for me to check it out for you.”

“Yes, but…”

“But what?”

“I— Uh. My soulmark's on my forearm.”

Dean paused, surprised.

“Wait, since when do you have a soulmark? I mean, I know Jimmy had one, but I thought that faded when the vessel became fully yours.”

Cas sighed.

“It developed soon after I started falling,” he admitted.

“And you didn’t think to tell me?”

“I… didn’t know how to bring it up, exactly.”

Well, it’s a bit of a surprise, but soulmarks aren’t exactly unusual, you know? I’m not gonna judge you for it, or anything. And I know you’ve seen mine.”

As he spoke, Dean started to dig through the first aid kit to pull out the supplies he needed, and Cas found it easier to unbutton his sleeve and pull it up as far as he needed when there was little risk of Dean immediately noticing. Maybe he could retain a little bit of control over this reveal, even if it was in un-ideal circumstances

“I had intended to bring this topic up in a… very different manner,” he said, and Dean glanced up, confused.

“Dude, it’s chill. I mean, I’m a little offended you didn’t mention it before now, but I get that soulmarks can be private. God knows I don’t like to talk about mine constantly.”

Cas sighed.

“Yes, but— I really should have brought it up with you. It’s just—”

As he spoke, Cas brought his hand up to rub at his eyes in an incredibly human gesture, forgetting his forearm was uncovered in his frustration at his own inability to explain things with any modicum of ease. It wasn’t until he heard the clatter of the antiseptic hitting the floor that he realised what he’d just done.

Holy shit, Cas!”

Chapter Text

The tenth time Dean sees Castiel, it’s when the other prince is walking down the aisle.

A part of Dean wonders how their parents decided on this part of things. They’re both males, after all, and their respective kingdoms are similarly sized. Perhaps it was due to their respective places within their families?

However it had been decided, Dean wasn’t going to complain. He doubted he’d have been able to walk as elegantly as Castiel seemed to be, the years of court training never fully getting rid of the gait his bowed legs gave him.

Their eyes met as Castiel approached, and the knot in Dean’s stomach somehow managed to both tighten and loosen at the same time when he was sent a small but genuine smile. God, now was not the time to be wondering if his marriage would ever become anything more, he was worried enough about remembering everything involved in the ceremony.

As Castiel finally reached him and their hands linked in front of them, his thoughts turned back to that idea anyway. He’d just have to wait and see.

Chapter Text

“I just don’t know how to remedy this situation, Sam. Jimmy has said he didn’t intend for the boundary to be drawn as firmly as I did, but there are some moments that I don’t want him to be awake for. Certain things that I wish to stay private.”

“And you’re coming to me for advice because…?”

“I can’t exactly go to your brother complaining that Jimmy keeps messing up my proposal. Or saying that I’m getting frustrated with the issues we have with finding times for intimacy due to Jimmy’s continued presence in our shared body. What if he thinks that means I’m frustrated with the relationship as a whole??”

“Is there any reason in particular that you haven’t found a new vessel?”

“Well, Sam, empty vessels aren’t exactly easy to come by. Also, I know Dean is… attached to me looking the way I do currently, and I am as well to tell you the truth.”

“Have you considered just. Building yourself your own vessel.”

“That’s… not something I can just do??”

“Cas, you can do whatever the fuck you want now, remember? That comes with the whole free-will deal.”

“Yeah, but I still can’t just. Build a vessel for myself.”

“Why not? You built Dean a body when you pulled him out of Hell.”

“Technically, I guess so—”

“If you need a starting point for whatever reason, just. Chop off an ear or something. It’s basically the same principle.”

“I— Still— Actually. You might be. Correct about that.”

“Maybe you and Dean should come to me for advice more often. I’m full of good ideas.”

Chapter Text

“You may call me Castiel.”

Dean’s eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the creature he was stood before.

“I may call you Castiel, but it is not your name.”

The fae before him grinned, a sharp, dangerous thing.

“It is as much my name as any other word would be.”

“That does not make it your name,” Dean pointed out, and Castiel rewarded him with a high, tinkling laugh.

“It does not, but names have power, as I’m sure you are aware, for the name Hunter belongs to you even less than the name Castiel belongs to me.”

Now it was Dean’s turn to smile.

“I may be reckless, but even I know that giving your real name to a member of the fae is not a course of action to be taken lightly, if ever.”

“Do you trust me so little? It is you who called me here, after all.”

“Did you expect anything less? If I’m out here calling upon fae, you better believe I’m gonna know my mythology. Even if it’s always been my brother’s strong point more than my own.”

“And what is your brother's name?”

“Nice try, Castiel, but it’s not my name to give.”

Chapter Text

“Babe, what are you doing up? Normally you’d still be sleeping now. Hell, normally I’d still be sleeping now.”

Cas looked up as Dean entered the kitchen briefly, before returning to glaring at the coffee machine like it had personally offended him.

“I woke up about an hour and a half ago and couldn’t fall back asleep for some reason.”

Dean slung a comforting arm around Cas’ waist.

“Ah, those days suck. You having issues with the coffee machine?”

“It won’t work properly.”

“You know, we have other methods of making coffee than the machine. You could just brew some yourself.”

“But that takes longer, and I want coffee now.”

“Does it take longer than glaring the coffee machine into submission will?”

Cas’ brow furrowed.

“Glaring at the machine has worked in the past,” he pointed out, and Dean snorted.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was just a coincidence, angel.”

“Well, even if it was, it shows that the coffee machine is liable to randomly deciding to work again, and waiting has a non-zero chance of effectively getting me caffeinated.”

Dean rolled his eyes before planting a kiss on Castiel’s cheek.

“Look, you can continue fucking around with the machine if you really want, but I’m gonna make myself a cup using the French press. If you’re really nice, I might even give you a sip.”

Cas grabbed him before he could pull away to tug him into a proper kiss, flushing lightly when their lips eventually parted.

“Was that ‘nice’ enough for you?” he asked, and Dean smirked.

“Keep that up and you might even earn yourself a cup.”

Chapter Text

“Why did you call upon me?” Castiel asked. “Or, more to the point, why did you call upon me specifically, and how did you know how to do it?”

Dean grimaced.

“It’s— uh. My little brother's gone missing. I think I know where he is, and it’s not somewhere I can get to without help. As for why you, I know someone who went through a similar issue, about 10 years back. They swear on their life that you genuinely tried to help them, that you didn’t act like a typical fae.”

Castiel seemed to grimace at Dean's words.

“And? A lot can change in 10 years.”

“I don’t exactly have many options here. You were kinda my best bet.”

“What will you do if I don’t help you?”

Dean grinned, cocky and sure of himself in a way that hadn’t shown a minute ago.

“Keep moving forward, calling upon you every free chance I get, until I annoy you into helping me.”

Cas cocked his head slightly, one eyebrow raised.

“Interesting. Guess time will tell how effective it proves to be.”

He was gone before Dean even had a chance to blink.

Chapter Text

That was, largely, how all of their interactions went for the first couple of weeks Dean was travelling. He ignored the voice in the back of his mind saying that it was pointless, that he was no closer to convincing Castiel to help him, that every minute he spent not moving forwards was decreasing his chances of getting Sammy back, safe and alive.

Ellen had sworn that Cas was legit, was the only reason she’d gotten Jo back all those years ago, and no one who put themselves through so much trouble to help a grieving and worried mother would change that drastically in 10 years, fae or not.

And he could even see why Ellen trusted him so much. Hell, outside of the fact that he’d literally given her specific instructions on how to summon him and only him in future situations where she needed emergency magical assistance, there were points where Cas seemed… genuinely nice. He’d smile after Dean made a joke or cock his head at a reference, and he seemed genuinely interested in hearing Dean talk.

He just didn’t seem to be any more inclined to help Dean in his dramatic quest than he had been when Dean first summoned him.

Chapter Text

“Angel, you know I love you, right?”

“Considering we just got married, I had my suspicions, but it’s always nice to hear that confirmed.”

“Ok, good. So you know that everything I say to you comes from a place of genuine affection and care.”

“…Yes?”

“What the fuck are you doing right now.”

“Isn’t… it obvious?”

“…”

“I’m making tea for myself.”

“That— That part I got.”

“What is the issue then?”

“Cas, you just dumped four spoons of honey into that cup.”

“And? It tastes better with honey as a sweetener, and we did just buy some from the market.”

You bought some from the market. I stood there begrudgingly as you talked to the beekeeper about visiting the apiary some time. And that’s not the point— four spoons Cas.”

“I like this particular tea sweet!”

“Can you even taste the tea at that stage????”

“What would be the point otherwise?”

“I dunno, Cas, but I’m thinking if you need four spoons of honey to drink it then you may as well skip adding the tea!!”

“…”

“And you say you’re worried about my health based on what I eat. Jesus.”

“…”

“Oh, come over here and stop pouting at me. I’m sorry I made fun of the ridiculous amounts of honey you have in your tea.”

“I don’t see what the issue is, really.”

“It does explain why you taste so sweet when we kiss in the mornings. I always wondered where the flavour came from.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“You’re just as sweet as I remember, babe.”

Chapter Text

AN: Special fangz (get, coz like vampires) 2 my online frend sky, bottledbasil 4 reading these all and sending me reactions. U rok!1!

Hi my name is Castiel Mil’ton Novak Collins Grace and I have big ebony black wings (its beecoz Im an angle) with shimmering streaks and golden tips that sprout from y mid-back and piercin blue eyes like the oceon and a lot of people tell me I look like Misha collins. Im not related to him but I wish i was because he’s a major fucking hottie. Im an angel (I already said dis!!1!) so my teeth are straight and white. I have white skin. Im also a hunter, and I live in a bunker with my boyfrend dean and his brother Sam. Today I was wearing a tan trenchcoat over a white dress shert with a backwards tye. A lot of demons stare at me. I smite them.

“Hey Casteil!” Shouted a voice. I looked up. It was…. Dean Winchesterr!

“Hello Dean.” I replied

“Wnna have SEX????!??/?!”

“But deen, ur brotha might walk in!!”

Dean loved his borther sammy more than ANYTHING (ew not like that u sickos) and I knew he wouldnt wannna put Sam in an weird position.

“Its okey he’s sleeping in his room becoz he has a hedache!”

“that’s okay then!!”

Suddeny dean kissed me passiojtately. Dean climbed on top of me and we started to make out lyingg on the couhc. He took of my coat and I took off his flanal. I even took off my tie. And then….

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YPU MOTHERFUKERS?!”

It was… Samm!!!!!! (AN: he has a headache remembmer!!)

Chapter Text

“I… forgot that my arm was uncovered.”

Yeah, I’m kinda getting that!”

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry, I—”

“Yeah, woulda been nice to know that you’ve been walking around with my matching mark for the last couple of months!”

“—know that I’m probably not what you wanted out of a soulmate.”

Dean stopped, taken completely off guard by Cas’ words.

“Wait— Why would—”

“Even outside the male-vessel issue, I’m not exactly… desirable as a life partner.”

And goddamn, Dean didn’t know it was possible for Cas to look so contrite and resigned simultaneously.

“Cas, who the fuck told you that and where are they now, because I need to go kick the ass of whoever led you into thinking that way.”

Cas cocked his head, obviously bewildered, and Dean took the moment to admire his soulmate (his soulmate!!!) before having his attention brought back to the cut on Cas’ arm.

“Shit, we still need to deal with that. Luckily for you, that means you have to sit here and listen to me as I tell you absolutely everything that was wrong about what you just said, because Jesus Christ. I thought I was supposed to be the one with self-esteem issues. Were you ever gonna tell me of your own volition, or were you gonna just stick around watching me having one-night-stands regularly while convinced that this is something that I don’t want?”

“I—”

“Because Cas, I gotta tell you man. I really really want.

Chapter Text

Dean didn’t know why he was so nervous to bring up the idea of looking into their adoption options to Cas. They’d had this conversation, back when they first started to get serious, and they both had agreed that it was something they wanted from their life together, once they got to the point that they were stable enough to provide their kids with the childhoods they both wish they could’ve had.

And they were stable, or as stable as anyone could be in the current economy. Dean was well-loved at his current high school, well on his way to becoming a domain leader if he chose to take the role despite it meaning he'd have to drop the number of classes he taught, and Castiel had finished with his residency a year ago and was now settled in his job at the local hospital.

But still, a part of him was terrified that Cas would shut the conversation down, say that he didn’t want kids after all, and that part of him kept putting the conversation off for another week.

He’d work out how to broach the topic eventually.

Chapter Text

Just like most mornings, the café didn’t get any foot traffic for the first half an hour they were open. Part of Cas thought that the only reason Gabe opened the place at 6 am was to force them all out of bed before any sane human would be awake in some cruel, long-running prank that would lead to some form of pay off before they murdered him brutally for pulling them into work earlier than he actually needed to.

They were all awake enough by the time they Cas heard the tinkling that heralded the arrival of their first customer that he was almost unsurprised to see Meg’s posture change in a way that indicated she would be flirting with them (or encouraging him to), and Charlie’s accompanying grin had him instinctively bracing for trouble. He didn’t bother turning to see the mystery customer— they’d both been trying (unsuccessfully) to set him up since he explained what happened with Daphne, and it wouldn’t do to encourage them. Instead, he stayed leaning against the counter, sipping at his second mug of coffee for the shift.

There was a beat of silence, and he wondered why no one had spoken yet before he noticed Charlie staring at him pointedly. He shook his head at her, not wanting to deal with any customer interactions this early in the morning (no matter how caffeinated he was, he couldn’t pull off a customer service smile till the sun was shining outside), and heard a familiar-sounding chuckle coming from behind him.

“Come on, Charlie, we both know better than anyone how he gets in the mornings. I dunno why Gabe bothered to stick him on this early, you’d think he’d know better by now.”

Castiel turned slowly, eyes wide. He knew that voice, almost better than his own, but until he saw the other man with his own two eyes he didn’t think he’d believe he was really here, back home for the first time in almost two years.

“…Dean?”

Sure enough, his best friend was standing on the other side of the counter, a cocky grin plastered across his freckled face.

“Hey, stranger.”

Chapter Text

When all is said and done, Dean spends some time thinking about Cas— their relationship, what he wants it to mean moving forwards, all the feelings he spent a full decade ignoring the existence of. He knows he should’ve done it earlier, before they got Cas back, so that when they yoinked him out of the Empty Dean would have a solid idea of how to approach it all.

But he didn’t, couldn’t have stopped to take that time while Cas was still stuck there. Because stopping would’ve meant considering the possibility that they wouldn’t find a way to get Cas out, that his deathbed confession was actually made on his deathbed, and that wasn’t something Dean could do. So he’d kept going, researching desperately with Sam for weeks, and now that they’d succeeded, that they had Cas back? Dean had absolutely no friggin idea what to do.

And he knew he had to do something, this time. Cas was happy to go on with life as usual, pretending nothing had changed (and truthfully, nothing had changed, no matter how monumental his confession had seemed as he was giving it— there had been this unspoken thing between them for years now), and he would until the end of times if Dean didn’t make his own move in this newly vocalised conversation.

Because he would make his own move. If losing Cas in a way that seemed so permanent had taught him anything, it was that he couldn’t take these things for granted anymore. The only real question was what would that move look like, and how would he take it??

(Ultimately, all his planning ends up being useless. Turns out, carefully constructed love confessions fly out the window when your hindbrain takes over and you end up jumping the intended target of said confessions in the kitchen one morning.)

Chapter Text

Although Cas had known what to expect, this time round — had decided dealing with the vulnerability and powerlessness that came with humanity was worth the privilege of growing old alongside Dean — some parts of the experience still grated on him.

The fogginess he got if he went too long without sleep, and in the mornings before he had his coffee, he could do without. If he could retain both the ability to sleep beside Dean every night and the alertness he’d had as an angel, things would be a little easier. Actually tasting food was nice, but having to remember to eat even when he was entrenched in activities was not. And general bodily functions were just annoying.

But above everything else, losing the ability to instantly soothe all the aches and pains Dean dealt with on a daily basis hit him harder than anything else.

The first time Dean accidentally cut himself after everything, Cas instinctively found himself reaching to run his thumb over the back of his hand. And when the small line of blood stayed present on Dean’s finger, Cas couldn’t help the tension that entered his shoulders.

Because he’d known this was part of the deal. They’d talked about it, when Cas was first considering things, and Dean had made it clear that he’d never loved Cas because of his powers. But the crushing feeling of uselessness that welled up, disappointment that he couldn’t even do this small thing for Dean anymore— it wasn’t exactly something he could control.

Dean had noticed, of course. Dean always noticed. But rather than bothering with ultimately meaningless platitudes in an attempt to reassure Cas, he just shrugged with a wry grin.

“Guess we should get you into some first aid classes, huh? For now, though, I trust that you know how to slap a band-aid on it for me.”

“I— I can, yes.”

“Well, come on then, babe! I can’t exactly go grab the box for you, I’ve been gravely injured. I don’t even know that a band-aid will fix it properly.”

Cas frowned.

“Dean, it’s not that deep, I don’t see why you’d think it would require stitches??”

Dean smirked.

“Nah, I know. I was more thinking about the healing properties of a kiss from an ex-angel.”

Cas’ eyebrow raised; the confusion gone from his face.

“A kiss from an ex-angel?”

“Yep! It’s scientifically proven to promote healing. It’s less powerful than a kiss from a current angel, of course, but that just means you require more doses.”

Cas, rolling his eyes fondly, lifted Dean’s hand to press a soft kiss to the affected finger, before being stopped by the pointed clearing of Deans throat.

“I never said it was applied topically, did I?”

Chapter Text

“Dean— Are you— Do you really mean that?”

Dean flushed; gaze wholly focused on Cas’ cut as he started to clean it.

“I— Yeah, Cas. Of course I do. How could I not?”

Cas blinked, processing the meaning behind Dean’s words as he tried to formulate a response. Before he could, Dean froze, glancing back up to meet his eyes for a fraction of a second before avoiding them once more.

“Unless— The way you were speaking, it sounded like you were just avoiding the topic because you thought I wouldn’t want the bond, but Cas, if you’re not interested in this meaning anything more, then that totally fine as well. I can’t imagine being soul-bonded to my fuck-up of a self was high on your list of wants from humanity. I can… I can forget I ever saw your mark, if that’s what you want.”

No!

“…No?”

“No, I don’t want you to ignore our marks. It… brings me great joy to know you may reciprocate some semblance of my feelings towards you.”

Tension Dean hadn’t even realised he was holding bled out of his form, and he grinned as he finished affixing a gauze to Cas’ arm.

“Aww, you have feelings for me? Cute, babe.”

Cas flushed, and Dean instinctively reached to brush a hand across the line of red on Cas’ cheek. It darkened in response, and he found his hand lingering to cup his face rather than pulling away as Cas begun to speak.

“A great amount of them,” he admitted, and Dean’s grin widened.

“We’re just two peas in a pod then, aren’t we? Because let me tell you, angel, I feel many things for you as well. For instance, right now I have a strong feeling that I want to kiss you.”

Cas’ face filled with something like wonder, and he barely had the chance to get out a breathless “I-would-like-that-very-much-yes” before Dean’s lips met his, gentle and sweet.

(Of course, Sam chose this exact moment to finish up in the bathroom, which they learnt when he dropped his toiletry bag with a clatter and a whispered ‘holy shit!’)

Chapter Text

“Aw, come on, Castiel! You’re telling me you have better things to do in these woods than help me out? I’m gettin’ awfully tired of walking, can’t you at least lend me a hand with my pack?”

“You could stop your quest at any moment, you know. This is entirely your choice.”

Dean grimaced, taking a swig from his canteen.

“Yeah, Cas, not really an option. Not without my brother.”

Castiel froze, head tilted in his confusion.

Cas?” He asked, and Dean shrugged.

“Yeah, Cas. Castiel is annoying as fuck to say, dude, way too many syllables for casual conversation.”

“I’m… sorry?”

“If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to give me another fake name.”

Castiel felt warmed in a way he hadn’t felt in years, and part of his brain was screaming that he was already far too fond of this determined human.

“No— Cas is… Cas is fine.”

Dean grinned brightly.

“Good, I’m kinda attached to it.”

Chapter Text

“Dean, I know you hate this kind of work. And I get it, I really do. But we need to get through these storage rooms before we can properly set this place up for travelling hunters, and that means all hands on deck, so stop distracting Cas before I have to separate you two entirely.”

Dean huffed, midway through poking Cas with something that seemed to just be a normal stick, and even Cas seemed put out at the threat.

“I am perfectly capable of working effectively while remaining a source of entertainment for Dean,” he stated, and Sam snorted.

“Even if that were as true as you believe, Dean certainly isn’t capable of working while being entertained by you. At all. I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t been affected by a spell yet. Or accidentally inflicted one on you.”

“Come on, Sammy, I’m not completely stupid. All the possibly cursed objects hoarded away in here will not make contact with anyone’s skin. Also, I’m honestly convinced this is just a stick that just ended up in one of the supply boxes.”

Sam sighed, turning back to his own shelf.

“Stick it in the ‘seemingly completely normal and mundane shit’ pile,” he said. “We can check it over again later.”

Dean did just that, but not before taking advantage of Sam’s distraction to wink at Cas and pull him in for a quick kiss. Sam sighed again, not having to look to know what was going on, and a few more minutes passed in relative silence.

“I don’t see why we’ve gotta deal with all this shit. It’s sat in here for decades, surely a few more years won’t hurt. We can leave it up for the next gen of hunters to organise.”

“Yeah, but some of this shit’s actually helpful, and it’s probably good to have on hand. And it’s not like it’s just us three working to clear it, even if the others can’t be around every day.”

God I wish house hunting was easier for us, Cas, I would give anything to have an excuse to get away from sorting duties…”

“Dean, we’ve only been working on this for three days.”

Chapter Text

Cas thinks he’s fine, at first, even with the steady burn that’s been growing in his chest over the past couple of weeks. He’s just getting sick, his body no longer knowing how to handle it without the aid of grace pumping through his veins, and it’s not something he should worry the Winchesters over. Even if the burn just seems to be getting worse, not better, even though he’d have thought his immune system would’ve kicked into high gear by now.

When he starts coughing, he almost feels vindicated— it seems like a clear sign that he was right to be mostly unconcerned, no matter what the voice in the back of his head is saying. He buys himself some cough syrup the next time they come across a pharmacy, then tries a different brand when it has no effect.  It almost feels like there’s something lodged at the opening of his airway, a foreign object that his body is trying to expel, but he squashes that idea down.

Sam and Dean are shooting him slightly concerned looks at this stage, with Dean in particular pushing him to stay back at the motel if he’s not feeling up for a hunt, but outside the burning in his chest and the heavy feeling in his lungs, he feels completely fine. It’ll go away soon.

He starts coughing up blood, small amounts that should probably worry him more than they do, but he can’t bring himself to share the development. It would just bring everyone undue stress on top of the current hunt, and was just a result of the strain the coughing had had on his throat over the past month.

It isn’t until he coughs up a flower petal one afternoon that he realises this is something serious.  

Chapter Text

“First, you’ll need to comb through my feathers, make sure they all align and aren’t dirty. There’s, uh, a water spray bottle to help with this, it helps with brushing out the dust.”

Dean blinked.

“Somehow, I hadn’t fully registered that birdbaths are literally baths for birds until this moment.”

Castiel frowned slightly, clearly bemused.

“What did you think they were for?”

“I dunno, babe, I hadn’t really given it much thought before? I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about birds.”

“I— Sometimes the knowledge you do and don’t have on various topics concerns me.”

“It’s not like knowing that birds take actual baths is something that would help me on a hunt, ya know? That’s usually a big factor in what random knowledge sticks in my brain.”

“Ah, yes,” Cas stated, nodding dryly. “All that pop-culture knowledge you have is absolutely vital when it comes down to vanquishing spirits. It’s a wonder that I made it through hunts before you started introducing me to television.”

Chapter Text

Now that Cas has acknowledged the truth of the matter, however long it took him to reach this point, he finds himself affected by things, in ways that he could previously ignore.

The warm feeling that pooled in his chest whenever Dean sent him a grin wasn’t exactly new, but the mixed thoughts that followed were not. The clench of his heart when Dean sent a similar grin to pretty waitresses and ladies in bars had probably existed back when he was still in denial about how ‘profound’ their bond was, but he’d pushed it down in favour of enjoying the good spirits Dean was usually in after coming back from a one-night-stand.

He should still be pushing it down. Dean deserved happiness, no matter how he found it. Castiel had no right to feel entitled to his affections, no matter how he personally felt. Soulmate connection or not, Dean’s free will to choose who he pursued was his right.

But that wouldn’t stop Cas’ heart from breaking every time he had to see it happen.

Chapter Text

“I’m going on a coffee run, do any of you want something?”

Dean hummed thoughtfully, looking up from his laptop at Castiel. He did want coffee, but he wasn’t sure he trusted Cas with the task. It was, after all, the perfect opportunity for them to fuck with each other.

However, he wasn’t sure he’d get through the next hour of research without caffeine.

“Yeah, I’ll take some. Just black— no milk or sugar and especially no syrups or anything dumb like that.”

Castiel nodded seriously, noting their orders down on his phone, and Dean focused back in on his screen. They had a lot of work to get through, after all.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Dean reflected when all was said and done, their jobs got really friggin’ weird.

 

***

 

You see, there’s this funny thing about mythology and beliefs. Although some myths were almost certainly complete bullshit — although the existence of angels had certainly stopped him from fully writing off some of the myths he previously would’ve felt sure were dreamed up by humans for various reasons — there were many that had a kernel of truth in them. Especially the ones that replicated across cultures. And even for those that weren’t strictly true, sometimes the believing was enough— usually when ‘helped’ along by another creature or witch of some sort.

Only time would tell what the case was this time, although Dean suspected it was the latter.

Because seriously, fucking tooth worms??

Chapter Text

In the wake of Cas’ accidental reveal and Dean’s subsequent confession, not much changed. Not as much as Dean expected, anyway.

Because of course, things changed— Sam sent them much more overt eyebrow wiggles when they went off to spend time alone with each other, Cas fell asleep in Dean’s bed just as often as his own now, and kissing regularly was a massive improvement on the rare physical affection they’d allowed themselves before getting their shit together.

But the important things, the things Dean had always subconsciously worried about in regards to ever pursuing something with Cas (not that he’d allowed himself to consider the possibility much)? Well, they didn’t, not in any way that would matter.

Dean’s feelings towards Cas hadn’t changed. Instead, they’d been validated in a way he hadn’t ever thought would be possible.

The things they did when spending time together didn’t change— They still went out to bars with each other and curled up on the living room couch to continue Cas’ education in the world of pop culture. Now, though, they proudly showed off their matching marks as a clear signal to the other bargoers, or would curl up around each other while watching whatever movie it was that Dean had deemed culturally significant.

There was one significant change, to be fair, aside from the obvious relationship status one.

Dean no longer worried Castiel would leave at any moment, off to hunt on his own or to deal with his ex-brethren or whatever other reasons he’d had in the past. And Castiel no longer worried about whether or not he truly belonged with the Winchesters, about having to find a new place and new people eventually.

Because why would they?

They were each other's homes, after all.

Chapter Text

“Cas, love, are you okay?”

Cas, who had seemingly collapsed onto the couch next to him, sighed before shifting to curl his body around Dean’s.

“I’m okay, Dean. I’m just finding my energy reserves are low today.”

Dean frowned slightly, moving his hand to brush a gentle thumb along Cas’ cheek.

“You can go take a nap if you need to, babe, me and Sammy can handle stuff alone for a little while. Did you sleep alright last night?”

Cas shifted into the touch, softening under it minutely.

“Can I sleep out here while you continue to research?” He asked, avoiding the question, and Dean dropped a kiss on the top of his head in silent acknowledgement of what he wasn’t saying.

“Of course.”

Chapter Text

The last night they spend on the beach is… peaceful, in a melancholy way. Without really planning it, they end up sitting on the sand together, legs tangled in a mimicry of the first ‘proper’ day of their honeymoon.

It’s not their last night away from the bunker, of course. Even if they weren’t planning on taking a meandering route home, they’d have a long drive ahead of them, especially since Dean was prone to give into Cas’ obvious interest in every dumb tourist trap they passed. Sam had told them to take as much time as they wanted, that him and Eileen could hold down the fort together, and Dean knew they were enjoying the privacy as much as him and Cas were.

But something about leaving the resort, the quiet peace they’d managed to claim for the beginning of their marriage when so much of their lives together had been marred with violence— It made Dean worry that something would happen that they would struggle to stay out of again. And he knew Cas had similar concerns, even if neither of them would voice them.

So they sat on the beach, arms around each other, and held on tightly to the last few hours of guaranteed peace they had.

And if something did happen once they returned to the outside world?

Well, they’d face it side by side, stronger than ever.

Chapter Text

Honestly, if he’d had the chance, he’d probably have kept the development to himself, just as he’d been keeping every other development of this strange illness private. He’d tried to, crumpling the first petal into his fist and shoving it into his coat pocket before either brother could see what he had just expelled from his lungs, but that was just the first petal. He wasn’t so lucky on the second.

 

***

 

“Cas, are you okay? You’ve been coughing a lot recently, me and Dean have been getting concerned. Do we need to take you to see a doctor?”

Castiel, who had just suffered through another valiant attempt by his body to expel the flowers that were choking him from the inside out, tried to smile reassuringly at Sam.

“It’s fine, Sam, I’m sure it’s something small. I’m planning on picking up some more cough medicine tomorrow.”

The roughness in Cas’ voice didn’t seem to reassure Sam, and he studied the ex-angel seriously for a moment before sighing.

“Look, man, it’s your choice. Just… take care of yourself, ok?”

Castiel was spared the pleasure of replying when he found himself coughing again, the burn in his throat impossible to ignore once more.

Chapter Text

“I mean… we did have that case with a shapeshifter Dracula once. You were off doing whatever heaven bullshit you did back in the early days, but pop-culture knowledge has its uses.”

“I’m sure,” Cas said, smiling at him indulgently, and Dean was knocked breathless for a second as a wave of affection flooded him.

They sat quietly for another moment, steadily meeting each other’s gaze, before Dean dropped it in favour of reaching for the water spray bottle he’d missed earlier.

“So, I just use my fingers? Also, should we grab a towel or something? I don’t want you to be left with a wet bed tonight. I mean, I know you don’t sleep, but that meditation thing you do to pass time sometimes is pretty much the same thing, and I know you read in bed a lot of the time.”

Cas blushed again, looking down at his lap for a moment.

“My sheets need washing anyway, but I thought we could share tonight? If you’re okay with me watching over you, at least.”

Chapter Text

The first thing Dean does, when he and Sammy finally get back to the bunker after assuring themselves that Jack had successfully restored everyone that Chuck had vanished, is get blindingly drunk.

The second thing he does is sit in Cas’ room (still Cas’ room, always Cas’ room even if the angel wasn’t around to live in it) and wallow in his misery for a while, alternating between cursing out anyone and everything and desperately trying to hold back the tears that he’d pushed aside while they were working to defeat Chuck. He’s not remotely successful on that front.

The third thing he does, after accidentally falling asleep in Cas’ mostly unused bed in the early hours of the morning, is sit down at the dining table, look Sam straight in the eyes, and tell him on no uncertain terms that he is going to find a way to pull Cas back out of the Empty, with or without Sam’s help, and he’d like to know which of the two options he’d be taking.

Sam simply sent him a bitchface and asked why Dean had thought he’d wanna leave Cas in the Empty anymore than Dean would.

Chapter Text

Dean doesn’t know when he fell in love with Cas, because there wasn’t a single defining moment where it happened. He didn’t look over one day and fall in love in an instant, didn’t have an epiphany where suddenly everything made sense— it was more of a slow-building realisation, an understanding that grew over the years they’d spent fighting side by side, an innate fact of his life that came to the surface more and more as time passed.

He thinks Sam knows, even if he’s had the courtesy to never mention it outright before. It’s obvious in the looks Sammy sends him sometimes, a silent encouragement and tease all in one.

He’s pretty sure Cas doesn’t, although it can be hard to know for sure. Part of him marvels at the idea that he could hide anything from Cas, with all his other-worldly power, but another part feels that Cas would’ve made at least some acknowledgement of Dean’s feelings by now if he did, even if only in rejection.

Sometimes, he spies Cas looking at him with an unreadable look in his eyes and wonders if he feels the same, imagines what it would be like to make some sort of grand confession and have his feelings returned.

Maybe one day he’ll be brave enough to try.

But for now, he carries his secret in silence, holds it close to his core where it thumps in time with his heartbeat, pulses around every cell of his body alongside his blood, lights up his soul in its brilliance.

And for now, that’s enough.

Chapter Text

Dean held back a groan of annoyance when he saw he’d been sent an email about his most recent assignment from Professor Azazel. He’d had to sit through classes with the man for the past year and a half, and something about the man had seemed off from the very beginning, even if Dean hadn’t initially known why.

Of course, it had only taken a month or two for him to work things out. Azazel wasn’t exactly… subtle, in his interest, and for all Dean was an out-and-proud bisexual (or as out and proud as one could be, with John Winchester as a father), his type had never been ‘sleazy professors that were double his age’. Dean had just had to take extra care to never be left alone with him, knowing it was unlikely that anything would ever be done without concrete evidence. The man was tenured, after all, even if Dean doubted he truly deserved the position.

It isn’t until he clicks through to the email and catches the words ‘academic dishonesty inquiry’ that he feels himself freeze. Because seriously, what the fuck?

Little does Dean know that just across campus, Castiel Novak is frowning worriedly at his computer, head cocked to one side in his confusion, staring at the nearly identical email he had just received.

Why would Dean know?

It’s not like they’d ever talked before.

Chapter Text

The first thing Dean does, once he’s read the email enough times to be sure that it was talking about him, and that there hadn’t been any dramatic mix-ups, is freak the fuck out.

Because friggin’ hell, he’d worked way too damn hard to get where he is right now to throw it away by cheating to pass a douchebag professors class, and the idea of an inquiry finding him guilty of the act is terrifying.

The second thing he does is call Sammy.

 

***

 

“Dean, why exactly are you calling me about this?”

“Because I’m panicking, man! What do I do if they find me guilty?”

“Well, are you guilty?”

Of course not, Sammy!”

“Then you don’t need to panic about that possibility! You just need to show up and tell them the truth.”

“I just have a bad feeling this is going to be more complicated than that. You don’t know this professor like I do, Sam.”

Sam sighed, the noise crackling through the line and doing nothing to soothe Dean’s fractured nerves.

“And again, if it does get more complex I’m supposed to help you by…”

“I dunno, Sammy, you’re pre-law! You know my rights and shit! Just— will you help me if I need it, as much as you can remotely?”

Dean couldn’t see it, but he knew Sam was sending him a bitchy look as he spoke.

“Like I’d leave you on your own. I just thought someone with a little more expertise than me might be useful to have on hand. Or someone in the same state as you.”

"Well, kid, you're all I got."

Chapter Text

The only downside to permanently sharing a bed with someone, Dean had found, was that he had much less idea of what to do on the nights where he couldn’t sleep.

He used to just get up out of bed, head to the kitchen for a drink or pull out his laptop to quietly watch a couple of episodes of whatever he was feeling that night, eventually exhausting himself enough that he had no options but falling asleep. That plan of action was significantly harder when you had an ex-angel’s arms wrapped tightly around you, especially when you didn’t exactly want to wake said ex-angel up with your restlessness.

But Dean had been lying here for almost two hours now, and he didn’t feel any closer to sleep than he had at the beginning, even with exhaustion creeping through his muscles to settle in his bones.

He was still for another couple of moments, before gently trying to extract himself from Cas’ arms. He needed to try something other than just staying in bed, or he would end up staying awake the entire night. Of course, Dean’s hopes that he’d be able to leave without disturbing Cas proved to be utterly futile, the arms around him tightening as he was met with a sleepy noise in protest.

“It’s okay, angel, I’ll be back in a few minutes. Go back to sleep.”

Cas’ arms tightened even more as Dean whispered, but they loosened a moment later, presumably after Dean’s words finished processing. He made another noise that seemed to convey ‘come back to bed soon’, and Dean chuckled before dropping a gentle kiss on Cas’ forehead.

Things may have been simpler when he didn’t have to worry about any bedpartners on his insomniac nights, but he didn’t mind having to form new routines.

Chapter Text

Of course, it’s not that simple.

Like, it’s really, really not that simple.

There’s a reason Jack hadn’t been able to pull Cas back out of the empty in the same way he’d reverse-Thanos-snapped all the other people Chuck had killed off before their final showdown, and it wasn’t his decision to be more ‘hands-off’ than his predecessor had been.

No, Jack had no power over the Empty. It wasn’t his domain to control. Sam and Dean were on their own for this, no deus ex machina was gonna swoop in to solve their problems.

So, they hit the books. They started with the bunker library, of course, but they also reached out to the hunters and other in-the-know people they’d learned to trust over the years. Their friends may not be able to dedicate themselves as wholly to the task as Dean had decided to, but that was fine— they were looking, and that was enough.

After about two weeks of searching, in which they’d seemingly made as little progress as people who’d spent two weeks straight looking through books for a ritual that quite possibly didn’t exist could, Sam sat across from Dean and asked if he’d maybe consider taking a break.

“I’m not saying we should give up! God knows we have far too many more books to look through for that to be something we should consider yet. Just— a small break for something other than sleeping or cooking. I don’t think dedicating yourself with the intensity that you have been is healthy. Go to the bar for a few hours, or watch something on Netflix.”

Dean stared blankly at him for a few moments, before obviously dismissing his words and turning back to the book he was flipping through slowly, and Sam sighed. Convincing him would probably be easier if Dean would explain what exactly had happened that day, beyond ‘Cas had a deal with the Empty’ and ‘He sacrificed himself to save me’.

He’d just have to try again tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Predictably, Sam’s second attempt to pull Dean away from his research for an hour failed as miserably as the first had. He left it another day, texting Eileen (who was off on a salt-and-burn for the weekend) about his lack of progress with both Dean and the research, and they formulated a different plan of attack.

Sam couldn’t work out how to convince Dean into a break because he didn’t know why Dean was so hyperfocused on rescuing Cas. Not fully (although a niggling thought at the back of his mind whispered that he had a good guess as to why, even if not ‘why now’ on the off chance he was right). He got why Dean wanted to rescue him, of course, but this single-minded determination was more intense than it had been in the past.

The next morning, before Deah had had a chance to start cooking properly, Sam cornered him in the kitchen; meeting his eyes calmly. It wouldn’t do to spook Dean now, before Sam got the answers he needed.

“There’s something you’re not telling me about Cas’ sacrifice.”

Chapter Text

“Angel, you awake?” Dean called, shrugging off his parka as he entered the warmth of the house.

Miracle, predictably, bounded down the hallway to greet him excitedly, but there was no response from Cas. Which wasn’t necessarily worrying, given he was home from the mechanic earlier than he usually aimed for, but Cas hadn’t been feeling so hot that morning. His midday check-in had been met with a photo of Miracle and a cheery ‘I’m alright 😊’, but Cas wasn’t the best at being honest when he thought the truth might make Dean worry needlessly.

“Cas?” He called again, more quietly this time, walking to their bedroom and peeking in in search of his husband.

The bed was empty, albeit unmade, so he moved on, figuring he’d probably migrated to the living room after growing bored lying alone in bed. Sure enough, he heard the low murmur of the Discovery Channel as he continued down the hall, and found Cas’ head sticking out of a lump of blankets on the couch. He had an empty mug of herbal tea and a plate of half-eaten toast on the coffee table, so Dean was reassured that he’d managed okay enough on his own for the day, but he still felt a pang of guilt at not staying home to take care of him.

Guilt would get him nowhere, however, and Cas knew why he had to go in, so he settled himself by cleaning up the toast and boiling another mug of water to make Cas some fresh tea. He stayed as quiet as possible, wanting to let Cas sleep as long as he needed, but was met with a pair of blinking blue eyes when he walked back into the living room.

“Dean,” Cas croaked, a genuine smile lighting his face, and Dean grinned back.

“Hey, babe. You feeling alright?”

Cas nodded, sitting up slightly and holding his hands out eagerly for the mug of tea, and Dean raised an eyebrow while handing it across.

“You sure about that? As much as I love your gravelly voice, it seems to have gone a bit past that sweet spot.”

“Well— I’m not feeling amazing. But you’re here.”

He said it simply, like it explained everything, and in some ways it did. Dean smiled down at him softly, leant in to leave a lingering kiss against his slightly sweaty forehead, then pulled back slowly.

“Of course I am. In sickness and in health, remember?”

Chapter Text

Eventually, something had to give. Cas knew that, had known it since he first acknowledged who Dean was to him, and every day more he spent avoiding the inevitable conversation made it more and more difficult to broach. But he’d have to, and soon— Sam had been sending him worried looks recently, as if he was gearing himself up to ask Cas what was wrong, and he’d found himself avoiding Dean, which was neither sustainable nor something he was enjoying.

So, when he sat across from Dean one Saturday afternoon and solemnly said ‘We need to talk’, it was no surprise when he was met with a frustrated Dean.

“Yeah, Cas, we do. You gonna explain why you keep pulling the disappearing act on me? I thought we’d gotten past this a couple of years back, but apparently I was wrong.”

“I— Dean—”

As he looked across at Dean, all his planned-out explanations and questions flew from his brain. He tried to collect his thoughts, but Dean was growing more and more closed off by the minute, and he had a horrible feeling that he only had a couple more seconds before Dean would give up and walk off again. So he mentally scanned through everything he’d been thinking over in the last month or so, re-figuring out his main concerns and worries, then blurted out the first question that came to mind.

“Are you happy?

Chapter Text

The first time Dean sees Jack, he can’t quite believe how small he is. That’s what stands out the most.

Cas is standing in front of him, their son is cradled in his arms, and they’re both peering at this tiny human they’re both now wholly responsible for taking care of. And they’ve had time to prepare themselves— even without the time spent on various waitlists within the adoption process, they’d spent the months since the confirmation call frantically reading as many parenting books and attending as many parenting classes as they could.

But none of that had prepared him for the reality of holding Jack for the first time, feeling his weight in his arms, seeing his tiny fists curled up on his chest.

Chapter Text

“Flying’s just— unnatural,” Dean said, crossing his arms stubbornly. “I don’t know why you’re trying to convince me otherwise.”

“Dean, I know you grew up as a no-maj so some things about the wizarding world took adjustment, but it’s not like only wizards fly! I know you’ve been on a plane before.”

“Yeah, and I trust planes only slightly more than I trust brooms. At least planes don’t rely on me actively retaining my balance while I’m on them.”

Cas sighed.

“I’m not expecting you to be comfortable enough with flying to go and try out for the Quodpot team tomorrow—”

“Ever.”

Or ever—”  

“I still don’t understand how you play Quodpot, you know. It’s friggin’ weird. You’re basically playing a game of hot potato except you’re all on brooms and also the ball fucking explodes. Wizarding game designers are insane.”

Cas rolled his eyes.

“Oh, yes, because no-maj football makes so much more sense.”

“At least we wear safety gear!”

“The injury rate is still obscenely high, especially considering how intense it can get at a non-professional level. At least we have magic to deal with the negative fallout of our sports.”

When Dean looked like he was going to continue arguing the point about football, Cas sighed again before playing dirty and pulling the other boy in for a thorough kiss. When he eventually pulled away, Dean looked sufficiently dazed, so Cas straightened out the front of his robe while continuing to talk.

Anyway, flying is an important skill to have as a wizard. Not everywhere is accessible by floo, and you can’t safely apparate to a location you’ve never been to before.”

“Well, that’s why my Dad’s giving me Baby when I graduate.”

“And if you need to get somewhere magical that doesn’t have a traditional road or anywhere to park?”

While he spoke, his hands had migrated from Dean’s chest to the back of his neck, and he began gently stroking the base of Dean’s hairline.

“Then I’ll— goddamn it, Cas.”

Cas grinned, knowing he’d successfully distracted Dean again, but didn’t move his hands from their new position.

“Look, it won’t be as bad as you’re thinking. You can sit on the back of my broom, and I won’t take you very far off the ground.”

Orrrr... we could stay inside and make out for an hour?”

Cas shook his head, even as his arms instinctively tightened to pull Dean closer once more, and he stopped just shy of their lips brushing.

“That’s your reward once you’ve come flying.”

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester, it should be known, was an absolute coward. He knew this well, even without Benny’s near daily reminders. He was a coward and a bi-disaster who could be as suave as the next motherfucker when it came to chatting up chicks but became a flustered, stammering mess whenever a hot guy so much as looked in his direction.

This particular habit of his was never more evident than on the days that Castiel came into the coffee shop him and Benny worked at.

 

***

 

The first time Castiel walked into the shop, Dean almost dropped the mug he was drying. Benny — who was still adjusting to Dean’s clumsiness at this stage, especially in the presence of attractive men — sent him a concerned look and a ‘You alright, brother?’ but Dean shrugged off his worry.

“Just— Surprised by a customer.”

Benny shrugged, focusing back on the coffee he was making, and Dean waited as Castiel perused the menu carefully. A moment later, he clearly spotted the specials board, and he broke out into a brilliant grin when he spied the cartoon bee Dean had doodled next to the ‘honey latte’ they had on offer.

This time, Dean actually did drop the mug he was holding.

Chapter Text

The first time Dean has to deal with Miracle truly misbehaving is, surprisingly, the first time it storms after Cas’ death.

His training had been going well, in the way that suggested Miracle had once-upon-a-time had a home of some sort, and maybe even a loving one. Sam had made him check through missing posters carefully, though, and no one seemed to be looking for him. Part of him wouldn’t be surprised to find that Chuck had brought Miracle to life in that gas station, purely so he could tear him away from the Winchester’s again.

So it was a shock when one evening, as a crackle of thunder rolled across the sky, Miracle immediately ran to the window to growl valiantly at the storm, and wouldn’t listen to Dean’s orders of ‘Quiet’ and ‘Come here’.

It probably shouldn’t have been, he realised, sitting himself down next to Miracle and wrapping a comforting arm around his body. Most dogs didn’t react well to storms, and they had no way of knowing if Miracle had ever encountered one before. All Miracle knew was that there was a scary growl like sound coming from outside, one that might pose a danger to his home and pack.

It was with this thought in mind that he found himself watching the storm, an immovable presence next to Miracle’s side. He’d intended to only sit for a minute or so, long enough to assure Miracle that he knew of whatever potential danger they could be facing before encouraging him away from the windows and the storm, but he became caught up in the natural wonder. It’d been a long time since he’d indulged in a moment of peace like this, especially considering recent events, and as it washed over him he found it impossible not to think of Cas.

Cas would’ve liked watching the storm, probably, in that same way he found most things about earth beautiful. He would’ve sat uncomfortably on the ground next to them, looking almost adorably out of place in his own body, and Dean would’ve found himself watching Cas just as much as the rain outside. He’d probably have shared a fact about what bees did when it rained, as earnest as he always was about his favourite insect, and maybe their hands would’ve linked across Miracle’s back, a solid weight reminding each other that they weren’t alone.

Maybe their eyes would’ve met, the way they always seemed to, and maybe Dean would’ve gotten over himself and leant in the way he always dreamed of. He didn’t have to wonder at how Cas would’ve responded anymore, at least, and that would’ve made it easier. It’s hard to worry about ruining a friendship when you know that something better is within your grasp.

Cas isn’t here, though.

And there was no guarantee that he ever would be again.

Chapter Text

“Uh, Dean?”

“What, Sammy?” Dean snapped, glancing across at his brother.

“You— Uh— That spell did more than we thought. Maybe— look down?”

Dean furrowed his brow. He hadn’t felt any physical changes, not like he would expect in the wake of a spell landing, but with the adrenaline from the fight he hadn’t really thought of it beyond an instant ‘Oh cool, I’m not dead, now let's gank this bitch.’.

He looked down, and for a moment he thought he was imagining things. Because he had to be. This wasn’t his body anymore, hadn’t been for years now. But when he blinked, nothing changed.

“Well, fuck,” he managed, then he felt a sharp crack across the back of his head and passed out.

Chapter Text

Fuck,” Dean swore, and Benny stared at him incredulously.

“Sometimes I wonder how you got hired,” he stated, already grabbing out a dustpan and broom, and Dean waved him off.

“It’s fine, I’ll clean it up. I just got… distracted.

Benny glanced back out into the storefront, this time getting a good look at their newest customer, who was looking mildly concerned about the mug.

“We’ll be with you in a second,” he said, receiving a patient nod, and he turned back to take the pan off of Dean.

“I’ll let you face your ‘distraction’ head-on,” he drawled quietly, and Dean flushed darker.

He was absolutely going to continue making a fool of himself in front of their hot customer.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Dean thought he could be just a bit of an idiot. Just a tiny little one. Not that he’d ever acknowledge it to Sammy.

He probably didn’t need to verbally acknowledge it to Sammy in this case though. The look on his face definitely said everything he needed it to.

 

***

 

“You’re telling me that the guy you’ve been pining over for months now came up to you today.”

“…Yes.”

“Asked you for help on an assignment.”

“Yes.”

“Complimented your pride pin.”

Yes.

“Told you he finds it cute when you blush.

Yes.

“And you just fucking finger gunned at him and said thanks???”

Chapter Text

Dean wasn’t sure what he expected when he rocked up to Professor Azazel’s office for the preliminary meeting, but it wasn’t this.

Because waiting patiently next to the door to the office, laptop bag against his feet, was Castiel Novak. Or, as he tended to be known as by Dean, ‘That really hot guy who I’ve had lectures with for almost 3 years now and have never interacted with for fear of embarrassing myself.’

Castiel met his eyes when he stopped walking, and cocked his head curiously before holding out a hand.

“You’re Dean, right?”

Dean flushed, and tried to ignore the voice in the back of his head that was quietly screaming ‘He knows your name!!!’ as he shook Castiel's hand.

“Uh, yeah. And you’re Castiel?”

“You can just call me Cas.”

Chapter Text

“Meg, I don’t know what to do.”

“What, did you pussy out again? You’ve been staring at his ass for months now, Clarence, you need to talk to him eventually. Or stick your tongue down his throat. Whichever’s easier.”

Cas groaned, burying his head in his hands.

“No, I did talk to him. I asked him for help on the upcoming assignment for Professor Crowley’s class.”

“The upcoming assignment?”

“Yes.”

“The upcoming assignment that you’ve already finished?”

“…Yes.”

“Did you maybe think about the fact that when you guys meet up to work on it, it will be incredibly obvious that you don’t need any help on it?”

“I panicked, Meg! And that’s not the issue here.”

“What is the issue then, loverboy?”

“Well, he was wearing a bi-pride pin—”

“I don’t see how that could lead to an issue, Clarence, but go on.”

He was wearing a bi-pride pin,” Cas continued, louder now, and sent Meg a glare that dared her to interrupt again. When she opened her mouth to do just that, he barrelled forwards with his sharing of his misery. “So, I told him it was cool, and he blushed in response.

And?

“And then I accidentally told him how cute it is when he does that.”

“So? You complimented the guy you’ve been lusting over all year, and you know he likes guys. Seems like a win-win to me.”

“Meg, he didn’t flirt back at all!

She blinked, obviously surprised. She’d been trying to convince him Dean had been staring at him as much as he’d been staring at Dean over the course of the semester, but he hadn’t quite believed it. Today’s incident just further cemented the idea that she was delusional in his mind.

“What did he do, then?”

Cas groaned again, thunking his head down on the table unceremoniously.

He fucking finger-gunned and said thanks.”

If Cas had been expecting commiseration from Meg, he’d be sorely disappointed. Because his traitor of a best friend just threw her head back and cackled.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for Professor Azazel to call them both inside his office, meaning Dean only had to cast around for one small talk topic to take advantage of this admittedly bizarre opportunity to actually talk to Cas. He figures the meeting will be quick, something he and Cas can easily and honestly explain as a complete coincidence, given they’ve never actually talked before, but the slimy grin that Azazel sends their way isn’t exactly promising.

“Hello, boys.”

Dean grimaced, unwilling to respond to the condescending tone, and Azazel’s smirk widened.

“I’m sure you both can guess why you’re here with me today.”

“I can’t, actually,” Cas replied, then sent Dean a glance. “And I imagine Dean’s in a similar position to me.”

Azazel shrugged, leaning back in his office chair and sending them both a look.

“I’m sure both of you would be completely surprised to find out that you submitted identical essays for the latest assignment, wouldn’t you?”

Dean froze, staring at Azazel in shock. At his side, Cas seemed similarly surprised, and Azazel’s smug look intensified.

What?” Dean asked. “I’ve never even talked to Castiel before today!”

Azazel gestured in a way that seemed to convey disbelief at the claim, but his eyes sharpened, and a sinking feeling abruptly hit Dean’s stomach.

“Of course, if either of you are willing to engage in some… extra credit assignments to prove that you have the knowledge required for your assignments, I’m willing to inform the board that some unfortunate accident occurred with our software and that it was a false alarm.”

Fuck.

Chapter Text

A week or so later, Cas finds himself surprised when Dean approaches him tentatively after class.

“Maybe we should swap numbers? So that we can plan when we’re gonna meet up and work on the assignment together.”

Castiel flushed, abruptly reminded of the fact that he still hadn’t come up with a plan on how to broach the assignment topic with Dean.

“Yeah— uh. Meg ended up asking me for help on it the other day so I’ve actually finished it now. Sorry.”

Dean nodded, hoping his disappointment wasn’t as obvious as it felt.

“Ah, that’s okay. You were the one who said you needed help, dude, if you’ve figured out what you were having issues with then that’s a good thing. Is Meg your... girlfriend?”

Cas laughed.

“Oh, god no. She’s my best friend, and I love her a lot, but I’m actually gay.”

Dean tried to not look pleased at the revelation, but he wasn’t sure he succeeded. He couldn’t help it, knowing that the guy he was crushing on definitely batted for his team was a relief, as well as adding more weight to Sam’s insistence that Cas had been flirting with him.

“Oh, good. I mean, I’m bi— which you already knew, considering you saw my pin the other week, but it’s always good to connect with other people from the community especially when they’re attractive and I’m going to shut up right now I’m sorry I’m just really friggin' bad at talking to people.”

Dean had pinked and started to back away as the flood of words left his mouth, and Cas felt his cheeks darkening in response.

“No, that’s— My people skills are also very rusty. You’re fine.”

Dean nodded, but didn’t stop backing away, and Cas did his best to send him a comforting smile.

“Talk to you soon?”

 

***

 

A few hours later, Cas found himself sitting up from his position lying on Meg’s couch with a start.

“You okay, Clarence?” She asked, mild concern obvious in her tone.

“I think Dean Winchester tried to get my number today and I fucking turned him down.

Chapter Text

Dean walked out of the meeting with Professor Azazel in a daze. He’d thought that something was odd about him being pulled up on cheating suspicions, considering he’d done nothing wrong and considering Azazel had ample amounts of work from Dean that proved he was good at this shit to draw on, but he figured it might have been the fault of an overzealous application of Turnitin’s anti-plagiarism software and Azazel wanting the chance to perve on Dean without the spying eyes of other students.

The meeting had most definitely not been that. And the worst thing is, there wasn’t even anything definitive he and Castiel could point to as proof that their professor was both creepy as hell and fucking framing them as a manipulation tactic. Everything he’d said had been couched in layers of protection, innuendo surrounding vague implications that relied on the knowledge on the previous hints he’d made at Dean (and, presumably, Castiel) as well as the fact that neither of them had cheated on their assignment. He hadn’t gotten any clearer than his request for them to complete ‘extra-credit’ assignments for him, with the rest of the meeting consisting of him encouraging them both to ‘consider their options carefully’ and reminders that he was tenured and thus could ‘clear things up easily if they cooperated’.

Dean hadn’t expected he would actually need help from Sammy and any lawyerly connections he’d managed to make through his time in college so far, as few as they may be, but it suddenly seemed a fucktonne more likely than it had before the meeting.

Chapter Text

Castiel doesn’t know when it started. The vague feeling of wrongness under her skin.

Sometimes, she doesn’t know if she’s ever lived without it, but she knows she has, because she still does sometimes. She’ll wake up random mornings feeling completely fine, like whatever was going on in the days previous was a little hiccup in her daily life and the peace and comfort she feels today is her true normal.

Then another night will pass, and she’ll again feel that same vague frustration and malcontent that had been plaguing her everyday life.

It’s not until she starts watching trans YouTubers that she starts to wonder if she’s feeling some form of dysphoria.

Chapter Text

The second time Castiel came into the shop while Dean was working, he’d thought he was more prepared. He’d (barely) gotten through the rest of their first interaction without breaking any more mugs, which was definitely a plus, but he also hadn’t managed to competently serve Castiel in any way, shape, or form.

Honestly, given the ridiculous amount of stammering he’d done when faced with Cas’ bright blue stare, it was a miracle Cas had decided to give the coffee shop another go.

 

***

 

“Do you have any suggestions on which menu items I may enjoy?” Castiel asked, and Dean froze.

He could do this. He could get through one interaction with a hot guy without seeming like a massive creeper or the disaster bi he truly was. He did it with hot girls all the time.

“It’s just, the honey latte I bought last time was a daily special, and I’m not very familiar with the varieties of drinks on offer here.”

Apparently, he could not do this.

“Oh, yeah. Uh. I could just. Make you a honey latte if you want?”

Cas smile brightened, and Dean was very glad he’d been smart enough to put down the cloth he’d been holding when he’d seen Cas walk into the store. Dropping a cloth may not be as bad as dropping a mug, but he’d already endured way too much ribbing from Benny about Cas and he didn’t want any more.

“Really? Your manager won’t mind?”

Dean made a gesture that was supposed to convey ‘Nah, everything’s cool,’ but that he suspected just made him look like an idiot.

“We buy honey from a local bee farm for people to use in their tea if they buy some, but we don’t really go through it. I’m happy making you one and just billing you at the specials price each day, no one will ever know the difference. Unless Benny rats us out, at least.”

Benny held up his hands in an ‘I’m not gonna say anything’ way, and Cas smiled softly at Dean.

“Then I’ll have a honey latte, please. To go.”

“One honey latte it is.”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t until they were well out of hearing from Azazel’s office that Dean found himself turning to Castiel.

He still wasn’t thinking clearly, didn’t know if anyone would be after a meeting like that, but he knew he’d have to work out some plan of how to handle everything with Cas. It wasn’t just him that Azazel was fucking over with this, after all.

“I knew he was a creep, but I never thought he’d try and pull something like this,” Dean said, and Castiel frowned.

“He’d implied certain things to me in the past, but I always assumed I was misreading the situation. I’m… often not good at understanding social cues.”

They walked in silence for a moment more, before Dean made a frustrated noise.

“I just— I keep trying to think of ways to get around this that don’t involve giving in to what he wants, but I can’t think of any. If it was only me, I’d be fine, my dad never believed I’d get this far anyway. I’d just be living up to expectations. But you— You’re smart and have a future and all that shit. I don’t want one dickhead of a professor to take that away from you, especially as I’m sure he’s gonna find a way to implicate the previous work we’ve done in his units as well.”

Cas sent Dean an unreadable look, and he found himself flushing.

“Are you not here on a scholarship?” He asked, and Dean faltered.

“Well, yeah, I mean—”

“Then you have as much cause for concern as I do. If you have a scholarship, people saw as much intelligence and potential in you as they see in students like me, if not more.”

Dean sent him a shaky smile.

“Thanks, Cas.”

Chapter Text

“Are you alright, babe? You seem… out of it.”

Castiel slumped in his seat, brow slightly furrowed.

“I’m sorry, Dean. I did not sleep as well last night as I would have hoped, and I am unused to feeling so tired at this point of the day.”

Dean leant across the table, clasping Cas’ hand lightly.

“We didn’t have to go out for food, angel! You should’ve told me you weren’t feeling up to it, I would’ve cooked or ordered something in instead.”

Cas pouted.

“You seemed really excited about trying out this diner, I didn’t want to stop you. I know we could have come tomorrow instead, but their opening week special ends today.”

Dean gripped Cas hand tighter, pulling it up to his lips gently, and Cas found himself flushing.

“I love you, you know?”

“I do. I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Dean dropped his gaze, and Sam held back a sigh.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sammy.”

“Bullshit.”

“What else is there to say? Cas sacrificed himself to save us. I need to rescue him. End of story.”

Sam did sigh this time, although Dean didn’t seem to notice.

“No! Not end of story! What happened before he sacrificed himself? Did he say anything to you? Because Dean, I know you want to save him, but you’re not normally this single-minded about it!”

“I’m not sure you realise this, Sammy, but it wasn’t the most ideal time for a heart-to-heart!”

“That doesn’t mean you didn’t have one!”

Dean stood up abruptly, harshly shoving himself away from the table.

“I guess I’ll go and watch some Gilmore Girls for the afternoon, then, because you clearly think it’s more important for me to waste an afternoon on binging tv than it is for me to save my best friend from the hellscape he’s been trapped in!”

“Dean—”

“No, that’s what this is about, isn’t it? The fact that I’ve been more concerned with saving Cas than going out and getting wasted or whatever the fuck else I usually spend my free time doing?”

Dean! I know, ok?”

Dean froze, and his voice turned deadly quiet.

“Know what, Sam?”

“I know you’re in love with him. And I know he loved you too.”

Chapter Text

Dean blinked.

“I— what?

Cas shrunk in on himself, annoyed with his apparent inability to hold awkward conversations without blurting out the first thing that came to mind, but didn’t back down from his line of questioning, no matter how shocked Dean seemed by it.

“Are you happy?”

“I mean— I guess? I gotta be honest, man, this wasn’t the conversation I was expecting to have right now, and I don’t know how my happiness level is connected to you avoiding me lately.”

“You guess?

Dean ran a hand through his hair.

“I mean, I could be happier? Look, Cas, I don’t spend a lot of time sitting around and contemplating all the ways my life is horribly unfulfilled outside of hunting. I kinda just… live my life. Have you been ignoring me in some misguided attempt to make my life happier?”

Cas shook his head, although internally he winced. His attempts might not be misguided, but they definitely stemmed from his belief that Dean would be happier without having him for a soulmate.

“No— It’s just. You’re obviously happy, or you seem to be at least, and I’m… not.

Chapter Text

Dean has been travelling for about a month and a half when he first hits genuine trouble.

It’s not that he’d managed to wholly avoid sticky situations prior to this— there’s a reason travellers are warned off spending too much time in these woods, after all. It’s just that before this, he’d managed to get himself out of said sticky situations without too much issue.

To start with, he was a light sleeper, and for all the faults his father had had in raising Dean, a lack of survival skills was not one of them. Additionally, he had a spark of magic in his bloodline, no matter how small, and usually that scared off creatures that might otherwise attempt to prey on him in the night.

The deeper he got into the forest, however, the mightier the enemies he had to face, so he wasn’t completely surprised when he woke up one morning to find himself trussed up to a tree within a camp of goblins, having been successfully taken in his sleep.

What was a surprise, however, was his discovery that he couldn’t free himself from his restraints.

Chapter Text

Somehow, Dean had managed to forget that adopting a child meant actually watching that child grow up.

Like, he knew it was a part of parenthood— the tiny baby he’d held in his arms when they first brought Jack home had to turn into one of the snarky teenagers he taught every day somehow, and he’d understood that he and Cas would be around for every step of that process.

But it didn’t stop the mix of nerves and excitement he felt when he woke up on the morning of Jack’s first birthday.

On the one hand, it was just a day. A significant day, yes, but realistically, it was just a signal that the Earth had completed one full rotation around the sun. Jack probably wasn’t gonna hit any significant development milestones today, unless you counted showing off his newfound walking skills to Sammy and Eileen.

But on the other, it had been a whole friggin’ year since they’d driven home from the hospital, acutely aware of the tiny and fragile life they’d been tasked with taking care of. A year, and they’d managed to not massively fuck this up so far. A year, and Jack had already grown so much.

A few noises came from the baby monitor he and Cas kept near their bed, and he suppressed a grin when Cas almost immediately stirred.

“Is Jack alright?”

“Yeah, babe. He’s just waking up.”

Cas sleepily nodded, and Dean gave up on holding back his smile. Honestly, how the fuck did he get this lucky?

 

Chapter Text

Dean may have reluctantly allowed himself to be coerced into joining Cas on the flying pitch for their break, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.

Unfortunately for him, Cas seemed more amused than annoyed by his constant stream of complaints, meaning he probably wasn’t gonna convince his boyfriend that he was perfectly fine never getting on a broom, as he’d managed thus far.

“Do you want to do the whole process, starting with calling the broom to your hand and everything, or do you just want me to worry about all of that?”

“I don’t wanna do any of this, babe.”

“I take that to mean you don’t want to start from the beginning then, which is fair.”

“Are you sure we can’t just go up to our dorm and make out? I know for a fact that it’s empty right now.”

Cas huffed out a laugh.

“Yes, Dean, I’m sure. And I know this makes you nervous, but I promise you, I’m not planning on pushing you too far outside your comfort zone today. We’ll fly low enough that on the off chance one of us manages to fall, the worst injury we’ll get is a bruise.”

Dean mock gasped.

“And risk damaging either of our stunning looks as a result? Nope, not worth it, guess we’ll have to go back to school now.”

“Dean!”

“Angel, I’m just looking out for you, I wouldn’t want you to have to look at me with a bruise marring my features.”

Dean,” Cas started again, before sighing and pulling him in for yet another kiss.

There was a moment of silence when they pulled apart, with both of them looking seriously into the other’s eyes, then Cas spoke again.

“Do you think I’d be pushing you to try this if I was planning on one, putting you in any real danger, or two, pushing you further than I know you’re capable of?”

Dean bit his lip, visibly tense, but his shoulders slumped after another moment.

“No,” he admitted, and Cas pecked him again.

“Exactly. You can do this.”

Chapter Text

Dean had expected Sam to be when he figured out what Dean had done to save him. He just hadn’t expected this level of anger.

“It’s not your responsibility to look after me like this all the time! You need to live for yourself too!”

Dean shrugged, as unconcerned as he’d been throughout all the discussions they’d had on this topic.

“Sammy, I am living for myself—”

“And what about your soulmate! It’s not just you who’s affected if you spend all of eternity burning down in Hell! Are you just gonna leave them to live out the rest of their life on Earth, never getting to meet you, wondering what happened to make you never meet?”

Dean sent Sam a confused look, the most emotion he’d shown on the topic in over a month.

“That’s… not exactly going to be an issue.”

“What do you mean it won’t be an issue? I know you have a soulmate, I remember you getting your Words in, so don’t try to pull that card. And if you’re thinking that you’ll meet them this year and they’ll know what happened to you, that’s almost worse!”

Dean was still feeling incredibly confused at Sammy’s anger, but something clicked in his brain after a moment passed and his expression cleared.

“Oh. You’ve never seen my Words before.”

Chapter Text

The first Saturday they spend at the resort, Dean and Cas go out in the evening to drink.

It’s not like they hadn’t been drinking prior to this. Hell, the first night they spent in the resort had been spent doing questionable amounts of shots in the hotel’s bar till the wee hours of the morning. But this was the first time they’d gone out to drink, to a bar not connected to the place they were staying, and something about it felt. Significant.

It’d been a few years since Dean regularly went out to bars, excluding what was needed to get info on hunts, but they felt like a vestige of his old life somehow. His life before accepting what he and Cas had was real, before he’d dedicated months to pulling the love of his life out of the Empty, and going out with Cas, his husband, seemed like a good way to usher in this new period of his life.

That, or Dean was just getting sappy as he got older. Sue him.

Chapter Text

The wedding venue is beautiful, in the gilded and overstated way that royal events always seemed to be, but all Dean can seem to focus on is the feeling of Castiel’s hands in his own. It seems ridiculous and implausible, because surely they must’ve shaken hands at some point when they first met, but Dean is fairly certain this is the first physical contact he’s ever had with the other prince.

And it is while he is in the middle of marrying him.

Dean just hopes his hands aren’t as sweaty as they feel.

It seems like no time at all has passed when he is asked to repeat the traditional vows, but it must have, because he remembers how tedious it was to sit through the last noble wedding he was forced to attend. He almost wants to hesitate, put a pause on everything, ask if he’s really expected to pledge his life to this man that he’s only met a handful of times now, but he knows he cannot. That is not his decision to make, and would be an unforgivable slight against the Novak’s and their kingdom.

So, Dean does what he always does.

He takes a deep breath in, and he commits.

Chapter Text

Even with Cas’ words ringing in his ears, he’s not entirely sure he can. But Cas wants him to do this, and he doesn’t want to be faced with Cas’ disappointed and pleading stare any more than he has been already. So after one last, lingering kiss for luck, he allows Cas to step back and turn around to call his broom to his side before swinging a leg over the handle and mounting it.

“You coming?” Cas asked, a soft smile on his face as he glanced over his shoulder.

Dean took a deep breath in and nodded.

“Apparently so.”

Chapter Text

“So?” Sammy asked, a bright grin on his face.

“So what?”

“So, did you get Castiel’s number or not?”

“I— Wait, how do you know his name? I know I didn’t tell you it. I very specifically made sure not to mention his name to you,” Dean questioned, glaring at Sam’s nonchalant expression.

“Charlie, but that’s not the point.”

“What is the point?”

“I just asked you! Did you get his number off him or not?”

Dean groaned.

“I tried, at least?”

“You tried?

“Well, I suggested swapping numbers so we could meet up to work on the assignment together, but he said he ended up getting it done after all.”

Sam sighed.

“You gotta be more direct Dean, he probably has no clue you’re interested in him.”

“I called him attractive and blush almost every time we talk.”

“The finger-gunning though, Dean. The finger-gunning.

Chapter Text

After a moment of tentative eye contact, Dean felt himself slumping again.

“Either way, my original point still stands. I don’t know how we can get past this without fucking over both our future prospects.”

“Can’t we go to someone about this? Tell them how he’s acting?”

“We can try, but who’d you think they’re gonna believe? The two students being accused of cheating who ‘submitted’ identical essays, or the tenured professor who oh-so-kindly offered us extra credit opportunities to prove our knowledge?”

Cas shrunk in on himself, and Dean felt a little guilty.

“I mean. I understand that, but we haven’t ever spoken before today. Surely they understand that if we were working together, there’d be something signifying our involvement,” Cas pointed out quietly, and Dean sighed again.

“Yeah, but all the ways that we could prove we haven’t interacted are easily faked. Emails can be deleted, as well as texts and phone calls, we might’ve never met on campus so that professors weren’t aware we knew each other, our friends could be lying to cover for us. And that’s not even accounting for burner phones and emails. It seems ridiculous, but some people go… very overboard to get out of doing set work.”

Chapter Text

It still amazes Dean, sometimes, that he gets to call Cas his own.

They haven’t been together for that long yet, not in the grand scheme of everything they’ve been through. Not by a long shot. And that relative newness, that moment of readjustment he has every time he sees Cas and remembers he doesn’t have to hold anything back, not anymore, definitely plays a part in that amazement.

But Dean doesn’t think he’ll ever get fully used to the concept, not even decades from now, when they’ll have been together for even longer than they weren’t. He can’t imagine a world in which he’s not acutely aware of how damn lucky he is to hold the key to Castiel’s heart, a world in which he doesn’t treasure every smile Cas bestows on him.

Because he is damn lucky. He’s fucked up so many times since Cas first pulled him out of Hell, and he knows he’ll fuck up again. Overcoming the kind of things he was taught growing up isn’t something that happens overnight.

But he’s gonna try as hard as he can to make his love for Cas clear every day for the rest of his life, and if there’s one thing that no one would ever deny about Dean Winchester, it’s that he’s a stubborn son of a bitch.

Chapter Text

Something visibly broke in Dean at Sam’s words. He didn’t cry, he wasn’t exactly the type, but the careful blankness that had overtaken his expression was gone. He slumped back down into his seat without making a noise, and Sam let the silence hang.

He’d said his piece. It was time to see how Dean would respond.

“…He didn’t,” Dean said, after a full minute had passed.

Sam doubted Dean was trying to deny Cas’ feelings, but didn’t really know what else Dean could be objecting to.

“He didn’t what?”

A wry smile passed Dean’s lips, fragile and bitter in a way Sam hadn’t ever really seen before.

“He didn’t know.”

Chapter Text

Another moment of silence elapsed, but Sam didn’t dare speak and break it. It didn’t seem like Dean had finished speaking yet, even with the pause.

“I— Do you know how it felt, standing there, watching Cas pour his heart out to me?”

“I thought he might’ve told you,” Sam said softly, and Dean barked out a laugh.

“He told me a lotta things, Sammy. He told me I changed him. He told me I am the most caring man on Earth. He told me he loved me. And he started his whole friggin’ speech off by saying that he knew he couldn’t have me, that I didn’t love him the same way he loves me, and that just telling me was enough for him to experience a moment of true happiness. And you know what I did?”

Sam shook his head silently, and the bitter smile returned to Dean’s face.

“I just stood there, watching as he sacrificed his life for me. So no, I’m not gonna take a break or whatever the fuck else you think I should be doing with my time. Because I’m not gonna stop until we’ve pulled Cas back out of that godforsaken place he’s trapped in so I can tell him what a fucking idiot he is for not realising he means everything to me.”

Chapter Text

The first time Cas came in during their rush hour, he stands in line looking distinctly frazzled.

He’d come by a few times now, usually during the morning lull, and he’d hit the stage where Dean had comfortably assigned him as a ‘regular’, albeit one that he was still liable to drop a mug in front of if the light caught his eyes in a particular way. So to see him outside of those ‘regular’ conditions was a shock Dean hadn’t been prepared for, much to the annoyance of the customer he’d been in the middle of serving right as he caught sight of Castiel.

Chapter Text

Afterwards, at the reception, a sense of disbelief hangs over him.

He may have known something like this was coming for years, since he started getting lessons in what was to be expected from him in service of their country, but intellectually knowing this didn’t prepare him for the permanence of it all.

He was married now, had committed to spending the rest of his life with Castiel, for worse or for better. They hadn’t even had a chance to talk yet, not since exchanging their vows, as every visiting dignitary seemed determined to give them separate blessings for the union. He’d caught Castiel’s eyes across the ballroom a few times, seen that he was more visibly off-balance from being thrown into the midst of what seemed to every noble-person in both of their countries who were all desperate to get in his good graces, and felt even more annoyed about the fact that they hadn’t been given a moment alone.

He might not know Castiel well yet, but he wanted to provide whatever comfort he could to his new husband.

Chapter Text

Sam stopped, somehow caught more off-guard by the prospect of Dean sharing his Words than he had been at his casual nonchalance around going to Hell.

“How would your Words reassure me? Because I gotta tell you, Dean, if they aren’t ‘I can get you out of your demon deal immediately,’ I don’t think I’m gonna stop being pissed.”

Dean snorted, and Sammy froze.

“Oh god, don’t tell me those are actually your words.”

“Not… quite?”

“Not quite?”

Dean sighed.

“Look, I’d just show you, but it’s too fucking cold for me to be pulling my shirt off right now. They say ‘I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.’”

Sam blinked.

“That’s… fairly specific,” he acknowledged, and Dean grinned.

“It’s dramatic as fuck, and I cannot wait to meet whoever it is that pulls me out of Hell.”

Chapter Text

Dean blinked in shock, staring at the man who was apparently renting the apartment across from him.

“Cas? Castiel Novak? Is that you?”

The man turned, key still unturned in his lock, and his look of confusion was swapped for a blinding grin when their eyes met.

“Dean! I thought I recognised Baby in the parking bay yesterday, but I assumed it was just a coincidence. I figured you’d still be living out in California near Sam. Or has he moved out this way as well? I… lost touch with him after high school, but you probably already knew that.”

Chapter Text

She doesn’t tell anyone, though. Not yet. It’s too early, things are too unclear— relating to a few trans YouTubers does not a trans person make.

But she thinks. She wonders. And day by day, she notices that uncomfortable itch rising under her skin.

She just wishes she had the words to actually describe what she was feeling.

 

***

 

Dean, of course, notices something’s up. How could he not? They’ve been best friends for years now, since before they were old enough to worry about cooties or any of the other arbitrary excuses children are conditioned into giving to stick with same-gendered friends, and the slight distance her and Dean had still been holding even in the wake of his break up with Lisa didn’t change that.

So she’s not surprised when Dean drags her to his house after school telling her he’d already set up the blow-up mattress on his floor for a mostly impromptu sleepover and she’s even less surprised when he slips down to lie next to her a few hours later and somewhat gruffly asks what’s been bothering her.

Chapter Text

She made an obvious huffing noise, and he found himself flushing as he dragged his eyes from the messy hair he would just love to drag his hands through.

“Sorry, I’m a bit out of it this morning. What can I get you?” He asked, plastering on his best customer service smile.

He noted down the order she gave, focused enough to at least act semi-competent at his job, but his eyes kept drifting to stare at Cas through the next couple of orders. Most of his customers seemed too caffeine-deprived to notice, but to his misfortune, Charlie had also decided to swing by and had sent him an ‘I’ll be interrogating you about this later’ look when he reacted to her presence with obvious surprise.

Chapter Text

Dean sighed. As much as he hated admitting it, Sammy had a point.

“Well, what do you suggest I do, Casanova?”

“I just told you Dean,” Sam huffed. “Be direct. Ask him for his number without any excuses. Ask him to grab a coffee sometime. Tell him you want to have his babies. Make it incredibly obvious that you’ve missed half of what your professor is saying in favour of staring at him.”

“It’s not that simple though!”

“Why isn’t it? Do you think he might be straight?”

Dean flushed.

“No, that came up today. He mentioned he’d done his work with a girl named Meg and I asked if they were together.”

“That’s… a surprisingly non-obvious way of figuring out someone’s sexuality, assuming you weren’t weird about asking, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Although, I gotta say, weren’t you complaining about people making that assumption about you and Charlie literally a week ago?”

Dean rubbed the back of his neck.

“Yeah, the weirdness mostly came after, so I’m not sure where we land on front. And I know, I felt bad about asking almost immediately, but it was too late.”

Chapter Text

When Dean and Cas stumbled out of the Empty hand in hand, it took them both a second to realise something was wrong.

In some ways, Dean figured he could be forgiven for that fact. He’d just managed to score the angel he’d been in love with for almost ten years as his boyfriend, thank-you-very-much, he could be forgiven for being a little distracted.

It’s mostly the lack of creepily excited Sammy that tips him off, honestly. He’d been giving Dean way too many comments about how he’d been ‘dealing with a decade of UST’ and how it was ‘about time they dealt with their shit’ since Dean had admitted just what had happened when Cas sacrificed himself and how he planned on responding.

Well, that and the group of tattooed strangers who were all currently pointing weapons at the both of them.

Chapter Text

Some part of Dean felt like he should probably drop Cas’ hand so that they could make very obvious gestures of surrender, hopefully calming down the scary strangers threatening them both.

Another, much larger part of him loudly protested at the idea of letting go of Cas, so he didn’t.

He liked holding his boyfriend’s hand, okay? He was allowed to now. Sue him for making the most of it.

“Well, we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” Dean said with a wry grin.

He didn’t have to glance at Cas to know he was probably cocking his head at the reference, but he did so anyway.

“Dean, the last place we both were in was the Empty, not Kansas, although I do assume you meant to return us there. And who’s Toto?”

Dean groaned.

“Oh come on, surely you know The Wizard of Oz! Or was that not included in the pop-culture catch up Metatron forced on you?”

As he complained, he again risked taking his eyes of the strangers to peek at Cas, only to see a small smile spreading across his lips.

“And you’re screwing with me, aren’t you?”

The smile broadened.

“Maybe just a little.”

Chapter Text

It takes another week for them to find something even remotely resembling a lead.

It’s Dean that finds it, and Sam isn’t sure if he should be surprised or not. Dean’s never been one for research, had never really had the patience for it, but he was far from unintelligent. He just usually applied it in different ways.

Sam knows the instant he stumbles across it, even if he couldn’t say why. Dean didn’t say anything, didn’t even look up from the book that he was skimming through, but a tangible energy had suddenly filled the room.

When Dean did look up, his eyes were wide, and he was practically vibrating in his seat.

“Sammy, I think we’ve been looking at this the wrong way.”

Chapter Text

Something in Dean’s expression shuttered.

“Wh— What? What do you mean?”

Cas shrugged, retreating further in on himself.

“I don’t really know what you want me to say, Dean. I thought— Well— It seemed fairly self-explanatory to me.”

Dean stared at him silently for another moment, and Castiel fought the urge to squirm under his scrutiny. Is this how Dean usually felt, when he gave in to his urge to watch the other man? If so, Cas could understand his protests more.

“Are— How is— Am I making you unhappy, in some way? Have I been a bad friend? Because Cas, man, you gotta know by now that you’re important to me and Sammy. I’m— I’m not always the best at showing it, we know how I am about chick-flick moments, but god, we’ve all been through so much throughout the years. How could I not care about you?”

Chapter Text

“Cas, babe, have you been in the kitchen today?”

Castiel looked up from the crossword he was examining studiously, brow furrowed.

“Not since breakfast, as you prepared lunch for us. Is something wrong?”

“No, no, it’s fine, I just— thought I left my recipe book on the counter earlier, but I can’t see it anymore. I’m sure it’ll turn up, but I was planning on baking this afternoon.”

Cas squinted for a moment, trying to work out if he’d seen it lying around anywhere, but he sighed a moment later.

“I feel like I saw it at some point today, but I can’t remember where. Could you find a recipe online instead?”

Dean hummed, considering.

“I could, but I was planning on using my cherry pie recipe, given you bought some at the farmers market last weekend, and I’ve edited it pretty heavily since I first printed it out. I’ll have another look in a little while, see if I’ve just stuck it somewhere dumb.”

Cas nodded in understanding, before glancing back down at the newspaper he had on his lap.

“This crossword is… confounding me. The clues are all really strange.”

Dean settled on the sofa next to Cas to peer at what he was talking about, then he huffed out a laugh.

“That’s because it’s a cryptic crossword, angel. It uses different rules for the clues. I’ve never been any good at them, but I can have a look for some guides online if you want?”

Cas tilted his head, considering.

“Wouldn’t that delay your baking?”

“Nah, it’s fine. All else fails, I can make the pie tomorrow instead,” he said, waving his hand dismissively, and Cas beamed at him.

“That seems like it might be fun, then.”

Chapter Text

Dean considered him silently for a moment, and Cas’ blush deepened.

“Not— Not to do anything yet, obviously, I’m still not sure how ready I am for all that, but, well. I’ve already mentioned that I’m liable to get… ‘clingy’, as you put it, after a grooming session, and I thought—”

“That you might like to cuddle with me tonight?”

“Essentially, yes.”

Dean smiled softly at him, leaning in to brush a soft kiss against his lips before pulling away once more.

“You’re more than welcome to spend the night with me, angel, you know that right? Even when you aren’t experiencing post-grooming snuggle vibes.”

Cas dipped his head, both in acknowledgement of Dean’s words and to hide the gummy smile that was spreading across his lips.

“Thank you, Dean. I do know, but sometimes I still worry I’m overstepping my boundaries.”

“Comes with the territory of a newish relationship, unfortunately. Just remember to bring things up to me if you’re worried about them, okay babe? If you are suggesting something I’m not comfortable with, I’ll let you know, no harm done.”

“I— I will try to, as long as you do the same for me.”

“Of course!”

Chapter Text

Ten or so minutes later, Dean and Cas found themselves sitting across from the tall man — who apparently went by ‘Alec’ — in his personal office.

They were still holding hands, which Dean would feel more awkward about if it wasn’t abundantly clear no one in the building gave a shit. There was no one else around anyway, as everyone in the group had had to leave to go on some sort of demon hunting mission (and god, Dean was just bursting with questions about how the supernatural situation worked in this strange world they’d landed themselves in, that seemed so similar and yet so different to their own), but Alec had stayed to deal with them as he was apparently the leader of the place.

“So, you’re telling me you think you’re from, what, an alternate universe?”

Cas had on his best thoughtful expression, and Dean had to stifle a grin when he seriously nodded in response.

“That seems like the most likely explanation,” he explained, and Dean nodded.

“Yeah, if you guys have demons then there’s at least a few similarities to our universe, but I can’t think of any groups that are rocking tattoos like all of you guys are. Back home, we’re hunters.”

Alec’s expression cleared somewhat at that, and his voice was a little brighter when he spoke again.

“Oh, you guys are Shadowhunters?”

Dean blinked.

Shadowhunters?”

“Nephilim? Humans blessed with the blood of the angel Raziel?”

Dean continued staring at him blankly and Alec sighed.

“I’m guessing that’s a ‘no’ on the Shadowhunters front, then.”

Cas nodded.

“Although Nephilim exist in our world as well, they are the direct result of a human and an angel conceiving. Our angelic systems are likely quite different as well.”

Although Alec’s face stayed about the same as it had through the rest of their conversation, Dean could recognise the glimmer of interest that entered his eyes at that little titbit. It was one he’d seen on Sammy on many, many occasions.

“Do you know a lot about the angels in your universe?” He asked, and Dean smirked before gesturing in Cas’ direction.

“Castiel, everyone’s favourite former angel of the lord, at your service.”

Chapter Text

"Shit, Cas, are you okay?”

Cas would’ve continued insisting it was okay, that he was okay, but he couldn’t. He could feel another petal lodged in his throat, and any attempts to talk would mean he had to stop coughing, and stopping coughing meant choking around the obstruction in his airway.

A part of him thought he should try anyway— he didn’t think he’d be able to hide the petal from Sam once he coughed it out, and he didn’t know if he could convince Sam to keep his condition hidden from Dean. Sam knowing would be bad enough— he didn’t want both Winchesters any more concerned about him than they currently were. And Dean was already feeling obviously guilty about his graceless condition; the idea that the other man would take any sort of responsibility for Cas’ current affliction was intolerable.

Chapter Text

Of course, even with the reassurance that Dean felt his Words brought, Sammy had. Concerns.

“What if it’s metaphorical, Dean?”

Dean snorted.

“Ah, yes, because that’s how someone who’s talking about metaphorically dragging me out of Hell would talk.”

“You haven’t met this person yet, you have no clue why they phrase things the way they do! Maybe it’s an inside joke or a reference! Maybe they’re fucking around with you! Maybe they’re pulling you out of someplace other than Hell that’s coincidentally named for it!”

Dean stared at him.

“Some of those are kind of far reaches,” he pointed out, but Sam wasn’t done.

“And say they are talking about pulling you out of literal Hell— for one thing, how do they have the power to do rescue you? Why would they do rescue you, if you’ve never met? How do we know that it’s not someone I meet while looking for a way to help you, and your protests at me looking for a way for you to get out of the deal aren’t screwing with your chances to meet them?”

“As if you wouldn’t introduce me to anyone you meet with that sorta power. Obviously it’s someone you’ll enlist to help after I’m already down there.”

“What if me researching this year is the catalyst for me finding them once you’re gone?”

Dean rolled his eyes

“Well, then my rescue will take a little longer than it otherwise would, and I’ll still be fine.”

“And that brings me onto my next point— we have no sort of timeframe on how long it’ll take for your soulmate to rescue you. What if it takes decades? What’ll you do if you’re pulled out of Hell only to find that I’m years older than you or have died while you were stuck down there??”

That supposition pulled the strongest reaction out of Dean, but he looked up with steely eyes.

“That would— That would friggin’ suck, Sammy, I’m not denying that. But even without my Words, even in a world where I thought I was signing my legitimate death warrant by making that deal, I would’ve done it. I have to keep you safe. No matter what it takes.”

Chapter Text

Some days, Dean found it easy.

He’d walk down the street hand in hand with Cas, not even sparing a passing thought to the opinions of the strangers he walked past. What did he care if they judged him for his relationship? Cas was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and everyone that he cared about were very in favour of the fact that they’d finally pulled their heads out of their asses. Less happy about how obnoxiously in love they tended to act these days, but some sacrifices had to be made. And Sammy had no issues with telling them to get a room, at least.

But it wasn’t always.

Some days, he felt like he was living with the ghost of his father peering over his shoulder, judging his every move. Some days, he’d notice any disdainful looks they got while walking through a town, and his first instinct would be to drop Cas’ hand and move to put some distance between them. Some days, Cas would look at him with that gummy smile, and Dean would send him a forced grin back while fighting the clench of his heart that said there was something wrong with the love he felt for the ex-angel.

Cas could tell, Dean knew, and he didn’t know if he should feel guilty about that or not. He never wanted Cas to think he was ashamed of him, because he wasn’t— Not in the slightest. He just… had some issues he had to work through still. And Cas was more understanding about it than Dean thought he deserved— He never seemed resentful or annoyed when Dean pulled away, just kind. He’d give Dean’s hand a comforting squeeze before dropping it, and was just so patient about everything. Dean had even asked him once, why he put up with it, why he didn’t ever get annoyed at Dean for pulling away, and Cas had met his eyes calmly.

“I have faith in you, Dean. Faith in us. When we entered into this relationship, I did so fully aware of your history and the issues you still struggle with. Those issues were never going to disappear overnight. But I love you, as you love me, and nothing brings me greater joy than getting to be with you in this way, even on the hard days.”

And, well.

Dean couldn’t really argue with that.

Chapter Text

When they first get Cas out of the Empty, he won’t meet Dean’s eyes.

Dean wasn’t expecting how much that fact breaks his heart.

He knows why, logically, Cas is doing it. He’s trying to give Dean his space, trying to work out how to navigate their new dynamic now that his feelings are out in the open— trying to avoid pressuring Dean into responding in any way he didn’t want to or was not ready to.

It didn’t help that Dean couldn’t be the one to pull him out, that the ritual they had used had needed Sammy to be the one who actually physically went and got Cas— it had meant Dean lost that chance to reciprocate those feelings in a situation where Cas couldn’t avoid him, was instead forced to try and corner the angel as best he could in the bunker.

And thus far, that hadn’t gone so well.

He’d just have to try again tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Considering the amount of time he and Sammy had been confused as a couple over the years, he’d thought things would be… simpler, with Cas.

He could understand why so many people had made those assumptions, for all that the idea made him want to vomit— they were two obviously close guys travelling together who didn’t necessarily look like siblings at first glance. It was an easy leap to make.

Which is why, when he first realised that all those assumptions he’d spent bracing for and denying with Sammy weren’t being made about him and Cas — his, you know, actual boyfriend — he didn’t quite know how to react.

Chapter Text

The first time it happens, he doesn’t even realise at first.

They’re eating at a proper restaurant together, for once, rather than just going to the closest diner to their motel. It’s probably slightly antithetical to the whole ‘road-trip’ thing to most people, but they’re not exactly ‘most people’. They’ve spent years eating out of shitty diners for 90% of their meals while on hunts— going somewhere without sticky red pleather seats is a luxury that they’ve decided to allow themselves for once.

Their waitress is chirpy and upbeat, and she makes casual conversation while taking their orders. She asks how long they’ve known each other, and smiles brightly at the both of them when they tell her that it’s just over ten years now.

Chapter Text

“That certainly explains why you’re both so comfortable with each other!” She remarks with a nod, and they smile back at her as she walks away

They aren’t being overtly romantic, to be fair, but they’re also not being overly platonic. Their hands aren’t linked on the table, but their feet are knocking underneath it, and they’re holding some serious eye contact as they talk. As she brings them their dessert, she makes another comment (‘I hope my son is as openly affectionate as you guys are when he gets older’), and it throws Cas as much as it throws him, but they shrug it off.

“Maybe she suspects her son isn’t heterosexual?” Cas suggests, and Dean hums in agreement.

“At least she seems to be accepting if he is,” he says and they both contemplate the struggles Dean had gone through to accept this side of himself before continuing their conversation.

It’s not until she automatically brings them a split bill that Dean realises what’s probably happened.

“Oh, I’m actually footing the bill tonight,” he says with a warm grin, and her eyebrows rise in surprise.

“Is it a special occasion?” She asks, and he shakes his head.

“We take turns,” Cas explains, because it’s true, even if most of their money comes from the same place.

They hadn’t always, but Cas had recently begun selling the honey he’d been harvesting at a nearby farmers market, alongside cutesy bee themed crafts he’d been making, and although he’d decided to donate most of his proceeds (it’s not like they’d ever really needed a traditional source of income), he had been saving money to spend on Dean (and the rest of their family and friends) as well.

The waitress nodded in understanding, no longer seeming surprised.

“You two really are good friends,” she remarks, turning back to Dean and thus missing the confused look Cas sends him over her shoulder. He’d just have to explain what had happened as they walked out.

Chapter Text

It’s not often these days that Dean wakes up to Cas staring at him.

It wasn’t like he missed it, not really. He still occasionally felt a tiny twinge of guilt over Cas’ humanity, but they’d had that conversation years ago now, and he knew Cas was happier now than he’d ever been as an angel.

It was more like he was nostalgic for those days. Not really — he wouldn’t trade what they had now for the world, so trading it for the days they spent sleeping in shitty motels constantly on the job would be actual insanity — but there was something comforting about being watched over by an insanely powerful being every night, and it wasn’t something he’d allowed himself to appreciate when he’d had it.

So when he wakes up early one morning and feels the familiar weight of his husband’s gaze on him before he’s even opened his eyes, he can be forgiven for luxuriating in it for a few moments.

When he does open his eyes, a fond grin on his lips, he feels almost bowled over by the amount of love he can see in Cas’ eyes. Even after all these years, he can’t quite believe he’s lucky enough to have this, to have Cas, and being faced with the undeniable evidence of that fact could be overwhelming at times.     

Chapter Text

When Cas hit the front of the line, Dean offered him a (hopefully) comforting smile.

“You looking for your usual?” He asked, already scribbling on a cup, and Cas nodded with a tight smile.

“I was not expecting things to be this busy,” he admitted, and Dean huffed out a laugh before instinctively trading places with Benny so that he could chat to Cas as drinks were made.

“Yeah, the afternoon rush can be insane,” Dean explained. “It’s because of how close we are to both the local high school and the college campus— people swing by after their classes to get a pick-me-up. Any reason you’re out in particular?”

As he worked and talked, he kept an eye on Cas. The guy seemed anxious, but it wasn’t clear if that was entirely the fault of the crowded atmosphere he’d been unprepared to enter or if there was something else at play. He seemed to have relaxed some as Dean talked, which he was absolutely taking as a win.

“Gabriel — my brother, that is — invited me to his new apartment for the afternoon, and the café was on the way.”

Chapter Text

As he settled onto the broom behind Cas, Dean made an effort to not obviously tense up. He trusted Cas, he did, he just… Didn’t trust himself to stay balanced when they actually left the ground. He wound his arms around Cas’ waist, trying (and failing) to not grip too tightly. Cas let out a small chuckle, as relaxed as he always seemed when he got on a broom, and Dean forced himself to relax slightly.

“I told you, we won’t go high,” Cas said. “Today the aim is to just get your feet off the ground.”

“The way you’ve phrased that implies that this isn’t the only flying lesson you’re planning on giving me, and I would like to point out that I barely agreed to this one,” Dean replied, and he felt Cas shrug.

“We’ll see.”

Chapter Text

The next time they were in class, Dean decided, he was gonna talk to Castiel. Again. Hopefully making it clear that he wanted the guy's number in a gay way, rather than in a classmates-potentially-working-on-an-assignment-together way. He tried not to look too eager about things, but he’d gotten to class slightly earlier than he usually managed as Cas seemed to always be early.

However, as the minutes ticked by and there was no sign of Cas, he felt himself slump slightly in his seat. It was just his luck, wasn’t it, that the one day he was determined to do something about his crush was the one day said crush wasn’t in class. He did see the girl Cas usually sat next to in class — Meg, if he was remembering correctly — and battled with himself for a moment before going over to speak with her.

“It’s— It’s Meg, right?” He asked, and she nodded with a knowing smirk.

“And you’re Dean,” she replied, and he found himself flushing at the emphasis she put on his name.

“I was just wondering if Cas is okay? He doesn’t seem like the type to miss class.”

She quirked an eyebrow at his words.

“Oh, because you’re the foremost expert on all things Cas now?” She asked, before softening a little when his cheeks flushed darker and he stammered out an awkward response. “He’s okay, he just picked up a bug from a co-worker. He should be back in class next week.”

He smiled at her in thanks, and she nodded once more at him before dismissing him with a flick of her fingers and walking away.

He’d just have to get up his confidence to talk to Cas next week instead.

 

***

 

(“Loverboy was asking after you today!” Meg later announced, walking into Cas’ dorm room with the dramatic flourish he’d come to expect since they first became friends.

He just groaned miserably at her in response.)

Chapter Text

Back at the bunker, Sam found himself staring worriedly at the space that Dean had disappeared from over an hour before. He’d known they had no real sense of how long it would take to rescue Cas, knew they weren’t even sure it was possible, but he’d have thought Dean would be back by now, Castiel in tow. His phone dinged as he was idly contemplating the ritual components that were still lying on the table in front of him, and he checked after reminding himself that staying here and doing nothing wasn’t going to change the outcomes for Cas and Dean.

D̵̳̐ḛ̸̽a̴͚̕n̸̼̽:̷̡̇ ̴̥̄m̶̼̊e̶̺ ̷̦̆a̶͙͠n̶͇̆d̵̼͂ ̷̧̏c̶̹̾å̷̭s̵̫͠ ̷̫͌r̴͕͛ ̶̟̄i̸̫͊n̷̢̄ ̸̧̽ḁ̶n̷̯͛ ̴͔͌a̵̯ḽ̶̃ẗ̴̤́ë̵̢́r̷͈͠n̷̤͛a̴̙t̶̯̉e̵̤͊ ̴̦ú̵̧n̷͂ͅi̵̻͝v̵̦̉ẻ̵͍r̸̝̅s̶̻͊ĕ̸͎,̵̗̋ ̵͔̓d̶̮̀o̴̮̒n̴̹̓t̵̨̂ ̵̧k̴͉͝n̵̰o̸͇͆w̵̪͋ ̷̺͗i̴̺̚f̸͚̀ ̶͓̉t̷̳̑h̴̲͋i̵̹͌s̶͇̊ ̸̫̋w̶͎̃ỉ̴̘ľ̸͓l̶̯ ̷̼̃r̶̡͛e̶͉͛ạ̴̒c̷͜͝h̴̼̑ ̴̫̚ỷ̶̙o̶̫̍u̷͗͜.̸͈̎ ̶̠̈́h̷̖͘ő̷͙p̸̰͂ė̷͈ ̴̤̌u̴̜̾r̷̼̋ ̶̢͋ö̷͓́k̶͙̾.̸̣͂ ̷͋͜w̷̯̃ë̴͚ ̷͇͆r̷̮̉ ̶̜͊s̵̞͗ḁ̷̇f̵͔͗e̴̞͊,̴̮̔ ̸͚͝t̶̜͆t̷͉͝y̴̪̍l̷̘̚

Sam blinked, not quite sure how to react.

Sam: How are you mssging then?

D̶̞e̸̛͈a̷̺͠n̸͍̽:̴͓͆ ̶̣̈́m̴͓͋a̷̳̍ǵ̶̟n̸̳̈́u̵͛ͅs̴̙̐ ̶̧̏s̴͚͊a̴͇̓y̵͓̾s̷̹̓ ̵̟̄'̶̞͘ẅ̵͈́a̷̭͘r̷̤̈́l̵̗̑ọ̵̾c̶̫͝k̷̥͋ ̶̖͝ḿ̵̰a̴͚̓g̸͓͛ĩ̶̭c̷̫͆'̷̰͐'̷̞͒

Chapter Text

Dean knew, growing up, that his soulmark was odd.

It was just one name, for one thing. No middle or last name ever showed up, even though most people identified strongly enough with their last name for it to make it across the bond.

For another, it never changed. His soulmate had never gone by a nickname, apparently, or if they had, they’d never identified with it enough for it to overtake their full name in their mind. And yeah, some people went by their full names for all their lives, god knows Dean hadn’t exactly gotten particularly attached to any nicknames throughout his life, but Dean’s name was short. Easy. There weren’t exactly that many nickname options available to him.

But surely no one wanted to go by Castiel all their life.

Chapter Text

Although Dean didn’t regret deciding to pursue things at all, and wouldn’t no matter how long it would take them to figure the whole Jimmy issue out, it did put a damper on things a lot of the time. He’d decided to let Cas take the lead on things, figuring he had a better judge of both Jimmy’s boundaries and Jimmy’s alertness at any given moment, but sometimes he just wanted to hug his boyfriend without having to check if the man his boyfriend was technically possessing was awake or asleep.

It wasn’t all a struggle, though. Jimmy was okay with checking out for the evening to let them have dates, even if he couldn’t guarantee he’d sleep the whole way through them, and Cas was a lot freer with his affection on those nights, which spilled over to Dean.

Chapter Text

“Dean,” Cas grumbled, pulling his arms tighter around his husband. “Why are you moving?”

Dean laughed, stilling at Cas’ words.

“Welll,” he said, drawing the word out. “I figured I could wander down to that café we walked past yesterday and rustle us up some breakfast?”

Cas made a considering noise but didn’t let go.

“Too early,” he decided. “Honeymoons are for sleeping-in.”

“Cas, it’s about half-past nine. This is a sleep-in for me.”

Cas shook his head, tightening his arms even more.

“Doesn’t count unless we both get a sleep-in,” he explained, then relaxed his grip slightly. “Besides, we can just get room service.”

Dean sighed, undeniably fond.

“I cannot believe you used to not need to sleep at all, babe. I’m happy to lie here for a little while longer, but you know I get antsy after a while, so don’t complain if I disturb you again, alright?”

Cas pulled his head away from its position tucked against Dean's neck to send him a soft, slow smile.

“Alright,” he agreed. “Can I have my good morning kiss now?”

Dean rolled his eyes, but angled his head obligingly, and their lips met with the sort of sleepy ease that they’d become accustomed to.

“Love you,” he murmured pulling away just far enough that he could form the words, before Cas joined their lips once more.

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

The next time it happens, it’s also not immediately obvious. Cas hadn’t quite managed to wrap his head around the fact that their waitress had been completely oblivious to their relationship, and Dean — who had spent literal years trying to appear as heterosexual as possible and thus didn’t know how to react when those assumptions were still made about him now that he had said ‘fuck it’ and kicked down the closet door — didn’t know how to make it clear it wasn’t a reflection of them or their relationship.

(“Dean, I spent half the night staring into your eyes.”

“I know, babe. People are just oblivious sometimes.”

“It took you several years to realise I held romantic feelings for you, even though I felt they were fairly clear. Am I not obvious enough in my affections?”

“Angel, you’re plenty obvious, people just. Assume everyone is straight. And I had my own stuff to work through before acknowledging your feelings, because acknowledging your feelings meant acknowledging my own.”

“Do I need to kiss you more??”)

Chapter Text

Somehow, even knowing what he did about Cas’ feelings, Dean was absolutely friggin’ terrified at the idea of confessing his own feelings.

He didn’t know why— this should be easy, shouldn’t it? He knew how Cas would react, for the most part— Cas had done the harder part. All Dean needed to do was man up and go ‘Hey, you know all that shit you said just before you died? Yeah, me too, actually,’ and he and Cas could go riding off into the sunset together.

Fuck, he’d had the perfect opportunity to, when he and Cas were first reunited. Sam would’ve given him the space he needed if he’d asked beforehand.

Instead, he was now having to try and muster up the courage after the fact, while Cas mostly avoided the rooms he was in.

And that was part of what made him scared. Because on one hand, he got it— Cas wasn’t exactly looking to get rejected, not after being pulled out of what he’d been sure was certain death, and he hadn’t been able to imagine a world in which Dean loved him the same way he loved Dean.

But on the other, a part of him was insisting that Cas regretted it, had overemphasised his emotions to try and comfort Dean, had meant love in a different way than Dean had interpreted, and the idea of that idea being true??

Was almost more terrifying than the idea of confessing first and getting rejected out of hand had been. Because he had his hopes up now, felt like he was so close to having everything he’d ever wanted, and he didn’t want to feel that all crumbling beneath him ever again.

Chapter Text

Sam made a ‘go on’ gesture at Dean, realising his brother was just gonna stare at him unless prompted otherwise.

“We’ve been looking this whole time for ways to like, physically pull Cas out of the empty, right? To get him out of the deal, or trick the Empty, or just summon him back to this earthly plane, you know the deal.”

Sam did, in fact, ‘know the deal’, given he’d also been spending the vast majority of his time lately researching those exact topics.

“Yeah??” He asked, in a way that indicated he’d very much like Dean to get on to his point.

“Well… What if there was a different way?”

“Such as?”

“Well. The Empty is like Hell for ethereal beings, right?”

Sam blinked.

“Are you saying—”

“If Cas isn’t an angel anymore, he can’t exactly stay in the Empty, can he?”

Chapter Text

Dean,” Cas said, staring at his husband seriously.

Cas,” Dean mimicked, smirking back at him.

“Why, exactly, are my legs almost entirely buried in the sand?”

Deans smirk grew wider.

“You were sleeping, angel,” he said. “I wanted to see if you’d wake up or not.”

Cas sighed, looking a lot less confused than he probably would’ve ten years or so ago.

“Well, I did wake up, so you got your answer,” he pointed out, and Dean’s smirk officially upgraded itself to a shit-eating grin.

Well, ” he started. “I don’t know if you should go around boasting your incredible levels of awareness while sleeping just yet.”

Cas did look confused at this, and something in Dean softened at seeing how much his husband hadn’t changed over the years, despite everything they’d been through.

“Babe, I first buried you like forty minutes ago now. You woke up to me, uh, ‘touching up’ what the wind and you shifting in your sleep had removed.”

Cas closed his eyes and sighed; a long, drawn-out sound.

“Sometimes I wonder why I decided to marry you,” he said, deadpan, and Dean sent him a wink.

“Oh, you know why.”

Chapter Text

As he gets older, the name seems odder and odder. Sure, a lot of people had weird soulmarks, but it was usually as a result of their soulmate’s parents bestowing them with an odd nickname growing up to try and cheat the system, before the kid got old enough to feel embarrassed about the idea of going by ‘chicken nugget’ or ‘rainbow sunshine’ or whatever the hell else parents came up with.

John Winchester, of course, had had no time for giving him or Sammy stupid nicknames. Dean had done his best, though, and although he doubted he succeeded for himself, he had it on good authority that Jess’ family had been confused when she hit puberty and identified as wholly heterosexual considering they’d thought she was the soulmate of one ‘Samantha W’ since she’d been about 3.

But to have a completely static and unchanging name the way that he did, especially one that was longer than a syllable??

Honestly, it made a part of Dean wonder if his mark was somehow broken.

Chapter Text

“Ah, and you decided you needed a bit of a pick-me-up before spending a few hours in his company? I can relate. I love my younger brother — Sammy — but he’s got a boundless amount of enthusiasm about him, and it can be a bit much to deal with sometimes.”

“Gabriel is just as likely to prank me the moment I enter the building as he is anything else,” Cas admitted, and Dean sent him a wry grin.

“There was a stage where that was me to Sammy,” he admitted, more sheepish about that fact than he ever had been previously.

Chapter Text

With those (slightly ominous, at least to Dean) words, Cas kicked off the ground.

Now, they didn’t go high. Not at all. Cas hadn’t been lying about that. But it felt like they went fast, and he found himself tightening his arms around Cas’ waist once again, and burying his head in the crook of Cas’ neck as best he could from his position.

In some ways, that probably didn’t help. Given he couldn’t actually see how low they were, his brain automatically started telling him they were higher than they were. Cas left him in silence for a few moments, staying hovering in the same position mid-air, but he eventually spoke up.

“Do you think you’ll be able to look, or would you prefer I just go back to the ground?”

Dean thought for a few seconds before making a decision.

“Do you promise we’re not that high up?” He asked, and he felt Cas nod.

“I promise. I don’t want to make you more afraid of flying, and I know that forcing you too far out of your comfort zone will do just that.”

Dean sighed.

“Then… I’ll look.”

Chapter Text

The decision, however, was taken (quite literally) out of his hands a moment later, when he finished coughing only for Sam to spy the latest blood-soaked petal and snatch it out of his hands before he could hide it from view.

“What the fuck?” He asked, staring at it, and Cas grimaced.

“I only worked out what was going on the other day. I… wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

Sam sent him a look, and he tried to keep his gaze steady and expression calm. He doubted the excuse would fly, but he didn’t know what else he could say to placate him.

Chapter Text

Some days, Dean felt as if he was drowning.

There were just so many expectations placed on him, all conflicting with one another, and he barely managed to keep himself afloat as he desperately tried to sort through what he actually wanted out of life versus what he felt he should be.

And that was without even getting into that whole ‘free-will’ thing. What’s the difference between expectation and choice when the individual placing expectations on you had the power to manipulate your every move? Who was to say that every single decision he’d ever made in his life hadn’t been manipulated by Chuck because of whatever stupid scheme his power-crazy mind had thought up this time?

And would Dean ever know either way for sure?

Chapter Text

Cas practically vaulted over the counter to throw his arms around Dean, far too surprised to think about exiting the service area the normal way. Multiple questions try to tumble out of his mouth about why and how Dean was back in-state, unfortunately all at once, resulting in a stuttered and probably incomprehensible mess of words (look, he may be energised by the sudden appearance of his best friend who, last he heard, was living practically on the other side of the country, but he still wasn’t a morning person). Dean simply chuckled once again.

“Come on, Cas, you really thought I’d go travelling around the country without popping home for at least a little while?"

Chapter Text

“Cas, did you not turn the heater on when you got home? It’s friggin’ freezing in here,” Dean called out, wandering down the hall. “I know your internal thermostat can be a bit fucked up at times, but surely even you can feel this.”

Cas sighed from his position on the couch, poking his head out from a bundle of blankets.

“I did, but it’s not working,” he explained. “We’ll have to get someone over to fix it.”

Dean frowned.

“That’s… weird. It was working fine yesterday. Did you want me to poke around and have a look, see if I can figure out the problem?”

Cas sent him a serious look.

“Dean, do you really want to spend the next hour standing outside in the cold while you look at a heating system that you might not even be able to fix?”

Dean wavered.

“Well— No, Cas, but I also don’t wanna spend the next few hours freezing to death in our house.”

Cas sighed, pulling a hand out of the mess of blankets to hold it out towards Dean, shivering as the movement let some cold air in.

“Just— Come over here and we can huddle for warmth.”

Chapter Text

On the harder days — days where Dean wakes up, the remnants of a nightmare flashing across their mind, days where he feels like he’s floundering beneath the weight of his past and the expectations for his future — Dean and Cas have a ritual.

It was a simple one, and neither of them really knew how it started. Just that it had, about a year ago now, and that it was useful for getting Dean out of his own head on the days that he needed an extra hand.
They’d sit on a couch together, coffee table pulled near enough to be useful without trapping them in place, and Dean would paint Cas’ nails.

He didn’t know what it was about the rhythmic movements that soothed him. The gentle strokes he had to apply, the tremble in his hands minimised as much as possible, and the shimmer of colour that followed in the brushes wake played a part, but some of it was also just the idea of being with Cas. Doing something for him. Taking the time to show his care through a quiet moment, free of any outside expectations.

The how and the why of the ritual's success were much less important than its existence, in the long run. As long as he kept having these quiet moments with Cas, Dean could take on whatever the world threw at him.

Chapter Text

Alec, unsurprisingly, didn’t look like he quite knew how to react to that.

Before he’d had a chance to, a glowing portal opened up next to his desk. Dean instinctively flinched, as it looked far too much like the portal they’d gone through to exit the Empty, but an unfamiliar man stepped through a second later.

Dean would’ve wondered who he was — if nothing else, the man had a certain presence about him that was impossible to ignore, even if the glitter probably helped — but he didn’t have to. The look in Alec’s eyes was familiar enough to him for the man to be instantly recognisable as Alec’s husband.

Sure enough, a matching ring was evident on his finger when he swept his arms open with an exuberant ‘Alexander!’, and Alec grinned lopsidedly as he was pulled into a brief kiss before Magnus turned to face Dean and Cas.

“I’m guessing these are our dimension travellers, then?”

Chapter Text

“Ah, yes,” Alec said, turning his attention back to them as well. “Dean, Cas, meet Magnus Lightwood-Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn. Magnus, meet Dean and Castiel Winchester.”

“Technically speaking, I’m not a Winchester,” Cas pointed out, and Dean made a considering noise.

“I’m pretty sure we’ve got at least one set of papers back home that would claim otherwise,” he argued, and Cas let out a quiet laugh.

“Yes, but I’m pretty sure that at least some of them list me as your sibling in some way, and that has worrying implications for our relationship, especially if we ever want to get married.”

While Dean took a moment to process the idea that they might get married one day (his most elaborate daydreams around a future with Cas had ended just after an imagined confession, when he’d dared to imagine anything at all— repression could be a bitch at times), Magnus and Alec spared a moment to glance at each other in obvious amusement.

“Right,” Magnus interrupted with a clap of his hands. “How are we going to get you two back where you belong?”

Chapter Text

The receptionist at the hotel they were checking into seemed new to her job, but not so much so that it was a real annoyance. She was just slower than Dean had expected from the efficiency he’d been met with when he’d initially called in to book a week or so ago, and got slightly flustered when something in the system tripped her up.

“I’m so sorry about the delay, sirs!” She exclaimed, and Dean sent her a comforting smile.

“Don’t worry about it too much, we aren’t running on a schedule today. Just figure out what you need to.”

She sent him a thankful look, before squinting back at her computer again.

“I’ve found your reservation, but I think it was booked wrong,” she explained. “I just need to work out how to change… Got it! Ok, I’ll just grab your room key.”

“No problem,” he said, sending a soft smile at Cas.

She finished digging it out of the drawer they were apparently stored in, and handed it across with a pleasant smile.

“Here it is! If you have any issues, just let me know. Normally I have another receptionist working with me, she’s been handling my training, but she’s on her lunch break right now and I’m far enough along that I’m trusted to handle things on my own. She’ll be back in around 20 minutes, if you’d prefer the help of someone more experienced.”

They both made affirming noises and gestures before wandering off to find their room, following their room key when they realised that she’d never actually clarified their booking for them outside of checking Dean’s name against their records. It shouldn’t matter, and he’s not expecting it to as they enter their room, but he finds himself stopping short and raising his eyebrow when he sees two queen beds where he’d been expecting one.

“Well,” he said, glancing over to see Cas looking predictably bewildered. “I guess that’s what she meant about ‘booked wrong’.”

“Should we… Go back down and tell her?” Cas asked, and Dean hummed.

“I don’t know if I can be bothered,” he admitted, and Cas shrugged before wandering further into the room.

Technically this counted as a free upgrade, Dean figured, so they may as well just take it without thinking too hard about the ‘why’.

(And, well. Having an extra bed did have its uses.)

Chapter Text

When he pulls his head out of Cas’ neck and sees how low they’re hovering, Dean feels a little embarrassed.

Because honestly, they’re about as high as they would be if they were standing properly, their feet almost brushing the grass below.

It also reminds him of how much he appreciates his boyfriend, though, as Cas has been so goddamn patient with him about this, when so many of their other friends had seen his fear of flying as an easy topic to make fun of him over in the past.

Because yeah, Dean was a little bit silly about it sometimes. This entire exercise was proof of that. But that didn’t stop the fear he felt from being very real, and the near-constant teasing he’d faced over the issue hadn’t made him any more inclined to give flying a go, especially when he felt he couldn’t trust his friends to take him and his boundaries around it seriously.

But Cas had met his worries with a calm smile, and he knew that he wouldn’t be pushed any further than absolutely necessary while Cas tried to coach him through this.

Chapter Text

Unfortunately for Dean, that hard-won courage had vanished into thin air by the time the next class happened.

He says ‘unfortunately’, but despite him not having the courage to do more than flash a quick smile Cas’ way before their lecture, Castiel apparently had no qualms about approaching him at the end of class.

“Meg said you were wanting to talk to me?” Cas asked, and Dean found himself blushing.

“Yeah, I just— Uh— I noticed you weren’t in class last week, and I wanted to know you were okay.”

Cas sent him a soft smile, which really wasn’t helping Dean’s blushing situation, and he seemed to be debating something internally for a moment.

“I just caught a stomach bug at work,” he started, and Dean nodded in understanding. Before he could continue, though, Dean’s phone lit up with a call, and he grimaced in apology when he saw it was Sammy.

“Sorry, it’s my little brother,” Dean explained, already starting to hold the phone up to his ear. “He doesn’t usually call me this early in the day, so it’s probably important.”

Cas was careful not to audibly sigh, well aware of familial obligation, but he did withdraw on himself as he waved and mouthed a ‘Goodbye!’ at Dean as they walked out the door together and parted ways.

Maybe next week he’d catch a break.

 

***

 

(“Sammy, I was in the middle of a conversation with Cas, so someone better be dying.”

“Oh shit, sorry Dean, I would’ve waited thirty minutes if I’d realised you had your class with him today. This isn’t urgent urgent.”) 

Chapter Text

Halfway through their stay at the resort, Dean and Cas realise they haven’t really done anything in town.

Not that they really needed to, as such— honeymoons were about relaxing with your new spouse and taking advantage of some time away from responsibilities. And it wasn’t like they’d avoided going into town completely— They’d eaten at a few different cafés and had gone for a walk through town when they first arrived. 

But they hadn’t actually done much outside of that, and the dozens of pamphlets that the resort had on ‘local attractions’ seemed to be judging the newlyweds from their places pinned to a cork board.

Chapter Text

Their chance comes about twenty minutes later, in the form of Castiel’s older brother Gabriel.

Dean hadn’t dared ask for a moment alone with Castiel. They had the rest of their lives to get to know each other, after all. The wedding and reception were for their kingdoms, for their families, and the honeymoon was for getting to know each other well enough to work out if they would genuinely get along.

But Gabriel had no qualms about tactically manoeuvring Dean around the ballroom as they talked, going from conversation to conversation in such a way that before long, they were not only on the same side of the ballroom as Castiel, but genuinely engaged in a conversation with him and a few other nobles.

A few minutes later, Gabriel flashed him a grin and a wink, pulling the other group members away from him and Castiel as effortlessly as he’d brought Dean over here in the first place. Another moment passed in silence as Dean and Castiel then stared at each other, both trying to process the fact that they now had their second chance to speak in a way that was close to frank with each other, no family members acting as chaperones.

Chapter Text

He’d known that travelling would get more dangerous as he got deeper into the forest. Magic ran wilder here, after all, mostly undisrupted by the noise and technology humanity had brought to life over the years. It was a sort of inbuilt protection and hunting method all in one—Most humans that wanted to harm the forest and its inhabitants would be deterred by the danger involved in such a venture, and those that did risk themselves would often end up as food for whichever creatures came across them.

And Dean knew this. He respected it, as much trouble as it had and would cause him. He just wasn’t willing to leave Sammy at the hands of the fae without at least attempting to rescue him, and that meant travelling into the forest.

And this was why he’d asked Castiel for help.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, though, it’s clear what has happened almost immediately. Usually, those situations are cleared up almost instantly, either by Dean and Cas displaying some form of slightly-too-romantic-to-be-brushed-away-but-not-romantic-enough-to-make-Dean-panic act of PDA, or by them outright correcting whoever it was that had made a comment about what a good ‘friendship’ they had.

But there were always going to be those people who stubbornly ignored the obvious, too attached to their own preconceptions about the world to consider any other possibilities.

In this particular case, said person was actually an older woman — Susan — that they’d saved on a routine salt-and-burn a few years prior.

Chapter Text

On the surface, Dean’s idea seemed perfect. The solution was so blindingly simple in some ways that it was a miracle they hadn’t thought of it before.

In reality, the only thing it had done was open up a slightly more viable solution to the two of them.

For one thing, they didn’t know if Cas would be happy as a human, and neither of them wanted to take that choice away from him. That issue was fairly easily solved by directly asking Jack if he would be willing to restore Cas’ angelic status if needed — he was — but Dean felt slightly guilting about asking Jack to do them favours like that even if he was all-powerful.

For another, there was still the matter of how they’d actually get to Cas to remove his grace and all his other angelic qualities in the first place.

Chapter Text

Cas frowned.

“I am not willing to give up on both of our futures so easily, but giving in to his coercion isn’t a viable option either. But I don’t know what other options we have, and as you have already pointed out, he was very careful not to implicate himself while propositioning us.”

Dean made an agreeing noise, then a thought crossed his mind and he stopped in his tracks.

“Well, he’s been careful so far not to implicate himself,” he said slowly. “But that doesn’t mean he always will be. Especially not in situations where he feels like he’s wholly in control.”

Cas had paused as well to keep in line with Dean, so Dean clearly saw as he tilted his head in curiosity.

“What does that mean for us?” He asked, and Dean grinned.

“Well, if we don’t have any evidence of what he’s doing so far, we’ll just have to go get some, won’t we?”

Chapter Text

“Are you doing alright?” Cas asked, smiling gently over his shoulder.

Dean’s face is still flushed slightly in embarrassment, but he manages to nod back with a grin, and Cas’ smile broadens.

“Are you okay with us moving then?” He checks, and Dean thinks about it for a moment.

“Yeah, just not too fast?” He requests, and Cas softens.

“Of course, love,” he says, before leaning forwards gently.

They move forwards more slowly than Dean had ever seen Cas move on a broom, the wind not even ruffling their hair, and he hooks his chin over Cas’ shoulder as he considers how peaceful it is. They’re alone on the pitch, all their fellow students apparently studying or hanging out somewhere else on campus, and Dean knew Cas had purposefully chosen to try and teach him now due to the privacy they were afforded.

Chapter Text

“Gabriel would argue that it’s his job as my older sibling, so maybe there’s some merit to that fact,” Cas said, smiling back, and Dean managed to slip a lid on his drink without dropping it, which was honestly a rousing success on his end.

“Sammy certainly gave as good as he got,” Dean replied, sliding Cas’ drink across the counter. “Anyway, I hope you have a good afternoon!”

“You as well!” Cas said, turning and Dean smiled after him before shaking his head and returning his focus back to his work.

At least he had managed to hold a conversation with him without coming across as a complete idiot!!

Chapter Text

“Oh, I don’t know,” Sam remarked, “I think saying ‘Dean, Sam, I’ve started coughing up fucking flower petals’ would’ve gotten the message across pretty clearly.”

Cas winced, and Sam sighed.

“Look, we can’t change how I found out, and I’m gonna stay mad at you over it for a little while. This isn’t me dropping it. But I’ll let it slide for now, as again, coughing up flower petals isn’t a good sign. Have you been hit by any witch spells recently?”

Cas sighed.

“Other than the case we had a month and a half ago, I haven’t even been near any. I already checked for hex bags.”

Sam frowned, considering.

“Well, when did you first notice yourself getting sick? Because she wasn’t exactly being shy about using her powers, and it’s possible she hit you with something without you realising.”

Chapter Text

Alec frowned at Magnus in a way that made it obvious he wasn’t actually annoyed.

“I thought you were in charge of figuring that out,” he pointed out, and Magnus sent him a grin.

“My darling Alexander, I know I’m both devilishly handsome and wonderfully magical, but even I have my limits. I will be able to help our new friends find their way home, but it won’t be as simple as getting them to slip on some ruby slippers and click their heels together.”

“That’s… The Wizard of Oz, right?”

“By the Angel, sometimes I forget how dreadfully deprived you Shadowhunters are. Although Izzy and Jace never seem to have as many issues on that front as you do.”

Chapter Text

She’d seemed pleasantly surprised to run into them in a diner one morning, and Dean himself was glad she was doing well. She’d asked after Sam, obviously slightly worried by his absence, but that worry abated when they said they were travelling on their own for a while. Then the conversation turned to their travels and, well, she really did not get what they were saying.

“So, is there a case in town? Or are you just passing through?”

“Oh, no, no cases right now. We’re taking a vacation more than anything.”

“Oh, and Sam didn’t want to come along?”

“He stayed back at our base, yeah. He’s probably enjoying the uninterrupted time with his girlfriend just as much as we are.”

Chapter Text

After a few minutes of this, he finds that he’s completely relaxed, the peaceful atmosphere surrounding them working to release the final knots of tension in his gut. Cas seemed relaxed as well, and Dean would worry that this isn’t exciting enough for him (especially since Cas played a sport that involved tossing around a ball that was literally designed to explode at any moment), but he knew his boyfriend well enough to know that Cas was revelling in their closeness and his own relaxed state just as much as he did the fancy manoeuvres involved in Quodpot.

After a moment of thought, he tentatively tightened his arms again.

“We can go a little faster if you want?”

Chapter Text

“I— Hello,” Dean managed, and Cas blinked.

“We… already greeted each other when Gabriel brought you over, did we not?”

Dean flushed.

“Yeah, we did, I’m just. Bad at this sort of thing.”

Cas nodded in understanding.

“I also have trouble navigating the formalities expected in situations such as this, and small talk can be difficult at times. At least we have… A lot of time to get to know each other in the future.”

The awkward air surrounding them ramped up at the reminder of just why they were here right now, and silence fell over them again. A few moments passed, then Dean straightened up as an idea came to him.

“Do you… Want to get out of here?”

Chapter Text

Because once they had access to Cas, the grace removal part was… Well, not simple, but simpler than everything else. The main issue would be choosing a method that would be quick and effective without putting Cas at risk of unnecessary harm. And without his angelic status, the Empty would have no more of a hold on him than it did Dean, leaving them free to return home.

But they weren’t even sure that Dean could survive the Empty in the first place, and there weren’t exactly ready-made portals they could step through that would conveniently give them the access they needed, as much as Dean wished there were. Things would be so much easier if there were.

Chapter Text

Of course, ultimately, Sam’s protests meant nothing. Dean had made a choice he couldn’t back out of, and no amount of research was going to get him to agree to go back on the deal even if it wouldn’t mean signing Dean’s death warrant.

Immediately after Dean first got pulled to Hell, Sam ramped up the research. He'd made contact with as many other hunters as he could, asked Bobby if he was sure he had no information every chance he got, spent even more time in the library than he had during finals at Stanford. Bobby sent him worried looks when he refused to give Dean a hunter’s funeral, but to Sam it just… wasn’t an option. Dean would need his body back, after all, when either Sam or his mysterious soulmate pulled him out of Hell.

Because Dean was coming back, he was sure of it. He had to be sure of it. Otherwise, he didn’t know how he would go on.

Chapter Text

His captors hadn’t noticed he was awake yet, luckily enough, but Dean had no idea how long his luck would last on that front. He was lucky to have woken up at all, because it wouldn’t be the first time an unwitting traveller had died in his sleep before being cooked into a meal by whichever creatures had gotten their hands on them.

If he couldn’t figure out how to get out of ropes binding his arms soon, he figured he could consider his luck well and truly run out. And he likely wouldn’t be afforded the privilege of a quick and painless death before being tossed on the fire tonight.

But his death wasn’t an acceptable outcome in this situation, awake or not.

Chapter Text

Dean had half hoped that Charlie would’ve forgotten about what she’d noticed at the café, but he’d known it was unlikely. Sure enough, a few hours later she was letting herself into his apartment without any fanfare, takeout in hand.

“What would you have done if I’d already planned dinner?” He asked, vaguely amused, and she sent him a grin.

“Did you?” She responded, eyebrow raised, and he grinned.

“No, but you never know. Routines can change.”

“Dean, you’ve been having takeout for dinner every Sunday night since you first moved out of home, and I know you don’t order for another thirty minutes most weeks. You doing something different would be like me missing a Moondoor meetup.”

Chapter Text

Cas glanced back at him, head tilted as best as it could be with the awkward angle.

“Are you sure?”

“Not really,” Dean responded. “But I figure that the more we get through in one session, the less sessions we’ll have to go through overall.”

Cas huffed out a laugh at that, but speed up obligingly, and Dean managed to avoid tensing even more than he already had. They still weren’t moving anywhere near ‘quickly’, closer to a brisk walking pace than a sprint, but it was enough to make his heart rate raise briefly. He didn’t know why flying got him this nervous, didn’t have any specific incidents he could point to as having awoken this deep-rooted fear within him, but he guessed things just worked like that sometimes.

Chapter Text

“Dean,” Cas said, poking his head out of the hotel bathroom. “Why is there a box labelled ‘bath bombs’ sitting on the counter?”

Dean looked up at him from his position on their bed and flushed lightly.

“Uh, bath bombs are these fizzy coloured and scented things some people put in their baths,” he explained, and Cas nodded.

“I’ve seen videos of them online before,” he responded. “I was more curious about when and why you’d bought them, as they don’t seem like your ‘type of thing.’”

Dean flushed brighter, but he looked down nonchalantly, as if he was usually comfortable with embracing the sides of himself that would voluntarily indulge in fancy bath products.

“Well, when we were out at the farmers market this morning and I wandered off while you were talking to the beekeeper, I walked past a stall selling them and noticed they had a bee shaped one. The chick running the stall noticed me looking and… convinced me into buying some.”

Cas raised an eyebrow.

“Are you saying she flirted with you so you bought stuff from her stall?” He asked, not actually concerned even if that was the case (he trusted Dean wouldn’t ever be unfaithful), but Dean shook his head adamantly.

“She, uh, asked if I was looking for myself or for my partner,” he admitted. “Then when I told her about you, she suggested you might appreciate some. I thought she was right, so…” He then gestured vaguely in a way that conveyed ‘so I bought you some’.

Cas visibly softened, his eyes crinkling at the corners at the force of his smile, and Dean wished Cas would always look at him like that; eye’s bright, hair mussed, and so gloriously in love with him that he could drown in the weight of it. It was such a small thing that he’d done for his husband, especially in comparison to the grand gestures they’d made to each other in the years since they met (starting with Cas literally dragging him out of Hell), but Cas’ appreciation for the gift was obvious in every line of his body.

“I do,” Cas responded. “Thank you, Dean.”

“Always, angel.”

Chapter Text

They sat in silence for a moment, before Dean seemed to physically shake himself out of the moment.

“Alright, angel. Will it be easier if I start with the back of your wings or your front?”

Cas contemplated the question for a second before turning in his spot on the bed to present his wings to Dean.

“The back, I think,” he replied, and Dean dropped a kiss to the back of his neck.

“So I just comb through with my fingers and some water?” He clarified, and Cas nodded in agreement.

Although Dean was by no means an expert in angel wings, it was fairly obvious that Cas’ weren’t in their ideal state. The feathers were all misaligned, and there looked to be more loose ones still trapped in the mess than there were scattered around the room. Also, they were visibly dusty in places, probably due to him having to have them out on this plane for such a long period of time.

Chapter Text

“Oh, he’s got a girlfriend now?”

Dean grinned.

“Yeah! Her name's Eileen, she’s also a hunter. Honestly, if you ask me, she’s way too good for his dorky self, but there’s no accounting for taste.”

She tittered at that, and Dean shared a bright grin with Cas.

“Oh, I don’t know, he seemed like a bright young man to me! I know my daughter was quite taken with all three of you.”

Dean remembered as well. Her daughter, Tasha, been a few years younger than him, but not young enough that her admiration was overtly uncomfortable to deal with. He also remembered the bitter jealousy that had burned in his stomach with each flutter of her eyelashes at Cas, which had become even more shameless at the revelation that he was a ‘real live angel’.

“Yeah, Sammy’s a good kid,” he agreed. “But what kinda older brother would I be if I missed the chance to rag on him?”

Cas snorted.

“I’m going to remind you of this next time you complain about Sam giving us shit,” he said and Dean knocked their elbows together.

“Oh come on, angel, the complaining’s half the fun!”

Susan smiled at their interaction, and Dean thought she might’ve been figuring out they were together, but the next words out of her mouth nipped that idea in the bud.

“So, what about you two? Have either of you got girls back home now?”

Chapter Text

Dean stared blankly at the boxes they’d already packed, then even more blankly at the unpacked mess surrounding them.

“When the fuck did we get this much shit, Cas?”

Cas frowned, also glancing around.

“Well, not all of this is ours. A bunch of it belongs to Sammy and even more came from the Men of Letters.”

Dean groaned.

“Yeah, but we still have to sort through it all!! What happened to the times where I was living out of a suitcase in the back of Baby? I miss those days, moving was friggin’ easy back then.”

Cas raised an eyebrow at him, knowing full well how much Dean categorically did not miss living motel to motel, but he was kind enough not to call Dean out on it. Instead, he reached to the nearest pile that they’d mentally labelled ‘shit we’ll sort through eventually’ and began looking through the items stacked in it.

“Think of the positives, honey. Once this is done we’ll probably never have to worry about moving again.”

Dean grinned at him.

“Oh, I don’t know, we might move into a retirement home somewhere along the line. Then we’ll have to sort through decades of accumulated belongings, not just the shit we’ve gathered for the few years we’ve been settled in the bunker.”

Cas hummed in a way that conveyed partial agreement.

“By then we’ll be old enough that we’ll be able to request more help from family and friends than we have for this move, though,” he pointed out, and Dean pulled his own pile towards himself.

“I still wish we’d been able to con Sammy into doing all the work this time around. He probably won’t be as much use when we hit that age.”

Chapter Text

Transitional periods in life were strange, Dean discovered in the months after they quit hunting.

He hadn’t been expecting a smooth transition out of it, had known that the years travelling from one end of the country to another averting whatever disaster they’d come across each week had left marks on him that would never truly be healed. Maybe if he’d grown up with stability — hadn’t been shuffled around from town to town as John lost himself in the chase after Azazel that had consumed their lives until the demon was dead and gone, hadn’t lived out of motel rooms and 3-month rentals since before Sammy could walk — he’d have been more suited to living the apple-pie lifestyle he’d always dreamt of.

It wasn’t even like this was his first experience with quitting hunting. He’d say it felt more permanent than it did when he decided to stay with Lisa and Ben, and in some ways it did, but the decision had felt pretty final back then as well. He knew intimately the struggles that came with civilian life, knew the itch that would crawl under his skin and the restless nights he spent wishing he was out ganking the monster of the week, knew that some part of him would always scream that he was betraying his father and putting innocent lives at danger with his choice to give up the job.

But he’d also known for a while now that he didn’t want to be someone his father would be proud of. Not anymore. He didn’t want to have to hide parts of himself away because they didn’t fit the image he needed to project. He didn’t want to live every second of his life for the job before eventually it killed him. And he didn’t want to stop loving Cas.

And in the end, that last part was what really mattered.

Chapter Text

In the wake of rescuing Castiel, Dean was surprised by how unreal everything felt.

He’d half expected that they’d never be able to pull him out of the Empty, that the one-sided love confession would remain the end of their story and he’d spend the rest of his life regretting not taking the chance to be open while it was still an option for him. He’d also half expected that even if they did manage to rescue Cas, nothing more would come of them— mutual love wasn’t always enough to maintain a relationship, and who would want to be involved with a fuck-up like him?

Well, Cas would, apparently.

With that knowledge, there should be some sense of security. Permanence. Castiel had never been one to mince words, and he’d been perfectly clear both pre-dying and post-rescue that he wasn’t willing to hide his affection for Dean anymore. But a part of him would probably always be waiting for that moment of realisation, where Cas would wake up and figure out how much friggin’ better he could do. It might quiet down over the years, but just because something’s quiet doesn’t mean it’s no longer there.

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester didn’t have a soulmate.

He’d known it for years now, and he’d become okay with the idea younger than most. He didn’t think he wanted a soulmate, even as he saw almost everyone surrounding him gush over the ink that imprinted itself into their skin.

He’d seen what losing Mary had done to John, watched as half of the pen markings that had been adorning his skin faded with her death. He knew soulmates were usually seen as a positive, happy thing, a connection to be celebrated, but the idea that that connection could be severed in an instant was enough to turn him off the idea.

Growing up, Sammy had said he’d understand if he had one.

“I know I don’t know mine yet, not in person, but I couldn’t imagine life without her,” he’d explained, as boundlessly enthusiastic about the topic as any 16-year-old was, and Dean had snorted.

“That’s the problem, Sammy. What will you do if you ever lose her, like Dad did?”

(They don’t know it yet, but 6 years later they find out. Jess’ life goes out in a fiery blaze, her meticulous handwriting fades from Sam’s skin, and Sam breaks.)

Chapter Text

“I… don’t know, actually,” Cas replied. “The symptoms came on very slowly. I thought that it was just a cold or something similar at the start.”

Sam exhaled slowly, and Cas found himself shrinking in place. He knew he should probably be more aware of this stuff, given the lives that they led, but he hadn’t thought anything sinister was going on until a flower petal had forced itself out of his throat. Maybe if he’d had more experience as a human, he would’ve realised something was amiss earlier, but he doubted it. Curses like this, they were designed to be non-obvious until it was too late. What would be the point if it could be fixed immediately?

Chapter Text

Dean glanced at Cas to see him looking, unsurprisingly, incredibly bemused at Susan’s question. He hooked his foot around Cas’ ankle before deciding to field the question for the both of them.

“Ah, not exactly,” he started, and Susan nodded.

“You didn’t seem like the type to settle down, but I thought that might’ve changed over the past couple of years.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I’d say we’re pretty settled,” he replied, nudging Cas. “What about you, angel?”

Cas blinked at him, not quite picking up what he was putting down, and Dean had to hold back his groan at Cas’ reply.

“Living full-time in the bunker is certainly more stable than living out of motels,” he nodded.

“I was just asking because Tasha just split with her boyfriend a couple of months ago, and was looking at getting back on the dating scene,” Susan explained. “I’m sure she’d love to hear you boys are in town.”

Dean grimaced, internally bristling at the idea of either of them meeting up with Tasha, even outside of a date scenario.

“We’re not planning on sticking around for long,” he replied. “Also, we’re based pretty permanently on the other side of the country now that we’re not hunting full time.”

Susan sighed.

“Well, more’s the pity. I have to get going, but I hope the rest of your road trip goes well! I’ll give you Tasha’s number just in case.”

Chapter Text

Dean conceded the point, and ten minutes later found himself sitting on the floor of his living room (he didn’t eat on the couch when Charlie was over anymore, they’d had too many spills that way for him to risk having his carton of food anywhere that wasn’t a flat, stable, and unmovable surface) with Charli staring at him expectantly. When he just calmly kept eating his food, attention focused on the Star Trek rerun they’d put on in the background, Charlie huffed and reached for the remote.

“Come on, dude! Spill.”

Dean determinedly took another bite of his fried rice, chewing slowly. By the time he swallowed, Charlie looked as though she was seriously considering homicide.

“Spill what, Charlie?”

Charlie groaned.

“You know what, asshole!”

Dean’s eyebrow raised, and the corner of his mouth twitched.

“Do I?”

“Yes, you do.”

A hum.

“I’m not so sure I do, actually.”

Charlie seemed to have developed a twitch.

“You do, and don’t think playing dumb with me is gonna get you out of trouble for not mentioning it to me before now! What was with ocean eyes at the shop this afternoon?”

“Billie Eilish? She’s not the person I expected you to reference over the course of this conversation.”

“Ha! So you admit there is a conversation to be had!”

Chapter Text

“Dean, honey, did you go to the shops yesterday?” Cas asked, poking his head through their bedroom door.

It was rare for Cas to be up before Dean was, these days, but Dean was coming down with something and Cas had refused to let him out of bed.

Dean thought for a moment.

“I did, but I forgot to take the list, remember? So I might’ve missed a few things.”

Cas nodded in acknowledgement.

“I couldn’t find any eggs, but I figured I’d check to see if you put a new carton somewhere weird before changing my cooking plans.”

Dean smirked at him.

“You, cooking? That seems dangerous.”

I’m not the one who caught a pan on fire a few weeks back,” Cas pointed out, and Dean raised his eyebrow in return.

“You are the reason I was distracted, though, so your point is moot. I don’t think I got any eggs though, sorry.”

Cas frowned and walked across the room to plop himself down beside Dean.

“Do you have any requests for breakfast using things that we have in the house, then?”

Dean made a show of thinking the question over, before leaning closer to Cas and peering up through his eyelashes at him.

“What about you?” He asked, lips quirked, and Cas smiled back indulgently before rewarding him with a gentle kiss.

“I don’t know if I’m very filling,” Cas pointed out, pulling back slightly, and Dean shrugged as his eyes fluttered open once more.

“Guess I’ll just have to have multiple servings.”

Chapter Text

When ink does start appearing on his hands, he thinks he’s imagining it.

It’s all small, easily explainable things— pen lines on his fingers in colours he can’t remember using that day, faint splotches on his skin that aren’t washing off in the shower as easily as he’d expect. Things that could’ve happened in the past without him raising an eyebrow.

He still wouldn’t be, honestly, if it wasn’t happening as frequently as it was. He finds himself doing daily skin checks, the way he did when he was a young teen and still listening to the voice in the back of his head that whispered maybe — just maybe — he deserved someone who would undoubtedly love him for who he was. Things are going to shit, have been since before he ended up in and out of Hell, but it becomes a lifeline for him.

(He just doesn’t know if that lifeline is the idea that he still doesn’t have a soulmate, despite everything, or the idea that he does.)

Chapter Text

Eventually, though, it becomes impossible to ignore. He wakes up with his fingers on one hand absolutely covered in ink, as if he’d broken a pen in his sleep, and any thoughts that it might have been an incredibly weird sign of sleep walking are dashed when he literally watches the ink fade as though being washed away.

Sam walks back into their motel room to see him sitting on his bed, staring incredulously at his fingers.

And things between them have been— not great, admittedly. For all that he wished he couldn’t see the similarities between some elements of their relationship and Michael and Lucifer's, sometimes there really was no arguing with fate. Things haven’t been good for a long time, not like it was when they were kids, and this whole shitstorm with the apocalypse was just shining a light on their fucked up family dynamics.

But in that moment, with Sam wearing a vague look of concern in response to whatever Dean’s face was currently doing, there’s only one thing he wants to say.

(“Sammy, I— I think I have a soulmate.”)

Chapter Text

“So, are you like— changing your name or anything?” Dean asked, looking at them slightly cautiously. “If you’re not sure yet, or whatever else, that’s fine! I, uh— I googled the other day, because I wanted to know more about, uh, genderfluid and non-binary people than I already did, so I could support you better, but there was a lot of stuff about how varying it is from person to person.

Cas smiled across at him cautiously, their knees tucked to their chest.

“I’m thinking I’ll stick with Castiel for now,” they replied. “Or, well, maybe just Cas. Castiel doesn’t feel wrong, per se, and it’s not like it’s an obviously feminine name, but it doesn’t always feel exactly right either. Cas is— Cas is usually better. If… that’s okay with you? I know ‘Cas’ was kinda your nickname for me.”

Dean reached across to hit their arm lightly, an incredulous look on his face.

“Man, of course it’s fine with me! I’m not gonna stop you from doing the things that make you feel good because I happen to have accidentally inspired them. I’m actually honoured that you like the nickname so much, and friggin’ relieved that I won’t be able to accidentally dead-name you. Shit, are you cool with being called man?”

Something unspooled itself in Cas’ chest, light and airy and brightening their spirits in a way that they hadn’t felt in the days since accidentally coming out to Dean.

“Don’t worry. Man is— Man is good.”

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Dean missed being a hunter.

He missed the adrenaline of it, the energy that coursed through his veins when they were facing down the creature of the week.

He missed the transient lifestyle, the different towns they’d see and stupid monuments they’d pass by while spending weeks on the road.

He missed the satisfaction it brought him, that concrete knowledge that he was saving people by continuing the family business.

He missed— Well, he sort-of missed the research, in the sense that he missed the time spent putting the cases together and coming up with a plan of action. The long hours in the library were another matter.

He didn’t regret settling down, not in the least. There were other hunters now, younger ones, who were doing the job better now than he ever could. And they still had friends in the game, people who knew that they could come to any one of the Winchesters if they needed a little advice or a hand with research or whatever else their years of experience had left them with.

He’d wanted this for years, after all, even if he’d never really admitted it. The apple-pie life wasn’t as perfect as it was always made out to be, but that was okay. It just made things more real.

Chapter Text

Dean sighed, putting his rice back down on the table, and very determinedly did not look in her direction.

Maybe,” He allowed, and Charlie grinned vindictively at him.

“I knew it! The guy at the shop this morning, right? You both could barely look away from each other.”

Dean felt a flush rise in his cheeks.

“I’d ask if I’m really that obvious but I know what the answer would be and I don’t wanna hear it.”

Charlie nudged him fondly, smile softened now.

“Yeah, you’ve never been good at hiding when you’re attracted to someone. Not that I’m complaining, it’s easy ammunition for me!”

Dean hesitated for a moment, then decided that admitting to his shame was probably better than her hearing it from Benny somewhere down the line.

“Want some more easy ammunition?” He asked, and she raised an obvious eyebrow at the thought that that was even in question. “I… may have dropped a mug the first time he came into the café.”

Chapter Text

As it turned out, their next lesson together couldn’t come soon enough. Castiel’s week had, well, gone about as badly as it could, with a seemingly never-ending stream of bad customers at work alongside stressful tech issues delaying a couple of different assignments he had due.

So walking into class and seeing Dean smiling kindly at him was honestly a breath of fresh air.

“How have you been?” Dean asked, leaning casually against his desk as Cas sorted out his bag. “You usually get here a little earlier than this, don’t you?”

“And you usually get here later,” Cas pointed out dryly, a faint smile on his face. Dean flushed slightly, but didn’t move, and Cas sighed. “I have been better,” he admitted. “This week was… Difficult.”

Dean shot him a sympathetic look.

“Rough week at work?” He guessed, and Cas nodded.

“And laptop issues,” he added, and Dean winced.

“Ooh, and just before midterms as well. That’s extra shitty. I hope things look up from here at least?”

Cas smiled softly at him in response.

“They seem to be.”

Chapter Text

Castiel blinked.

“Are we… Allowed to do that?”

“Well, it is our wedding day, is it not? I cannot see anyone making an attempt to stop us from leaving. My parents may not be the happiest, but I’ve certainly done my fair share of networking this evening.”

A smile started to grow on Cas’ lips.

“Then getting out of here would be… Good.”

 

***

 

Unsurprisingly, it was easier said than done. They happened to be a ways away from the doors Dean felt it would be best to leave the ballroom from, as to attract the least attention to their escape, and as they travelled in that direction they found themselves waylaid by multiple sets of nobles that wished to congratulate them on their nuptials. Before too long, however, they’d successfully left the loud ballroom, and Dean found himself holding back a wide grin as they walked arm in arm throughout the castle’s hallway.

“Race you to the gardens?” He suggested, curious to see if Cas would go for it, and he grinned when the other Prince glanced tentatively around the empty hallway before looking back at him and nodding.

Things were looking up.

Chapter Text

“Well, they weren’t being groomed to take over the Institute as intensely as I was, so they got away with more,” Alec pointed out, and Magnus sighed theatrically.

“That didn’t seem to stop the Inquisitor from giving Jace the position when his true heritage was revealed, so obviously you didn’t need to be sheltered as much as you were,” he said, eyebrow raised, and Alec shrugged.

“I’m not going to argue with you there.”

Dean and Cas, who had both been following the back and forth with varying levels of confusion, took this moment to glance at each once more. They held each other’s gaze for a moment, then Dean found himself looking back at the couple in front of him and raising a tentative hand in the air.

“So, uh… Have you got any ideas on how to get us both home? I don't wanna leave my brother worrying about us for too long.”

Chapter Text

He started off gently, just combing his fingers through in an attempt to shift them all into alignment. Cas’ wings were tense under his hands, some part of the angel’s mind obviously protesting the idea of him exposing his vulnerabilities in such a way, and Dean gentled his strokes even more in response.

It was not the most effective grooming technique, admittedly, being more akin to petting than anything else, but it seemed to loosen Cas up just fine. When Dean felt Cas was relaxed enough, he dropped a kiss on the nearest bit of wing, then dug his fingers in more firmly.

Chapter Text

“So what’ll it be, angel? We have, uh, an array of activities available to us,” Dean said, hooking an arm around Cas’ waist as they stood in front of the corkboard.

Cas made a considering noise, sinking into Dean’s hold as he read through their options, before coming to a decision.

“Mini-golf sounds like it may be fun,” he answered, and Dean grinned.

“Mini-golf it is!”

 

***

 

“You know, I did this with Claire once,” Dean said as they walked down the street in the direction of the mini-golf place. “Back when we were dealing with the Mark of Cain still.”

Cas nodded.

“You told me at the time I believe.”

Well, do you know what that means?”

“That you tried to bond with Claire in a variety of ways?” Cas raised his eyebrow as he replied, and Dean knocked their shoulders together with a cocky grin.

“Nah, it means I have extra experience and that I’m gonna thrash you because of it.”

Cas cocked his head, the very picture of innocent confusion, but the glimmer in his eyes told Dean he knew exactly what he was doing.

“Is that so?”

“You up for the challenge?”

Cas leant in to peck Dean’s lips briefly, then pulled away as they reached the doors of the course.

“I guess we’ll find out.”

Chapter Text

It’d been years since Dean had dared tear through the castle the way that he currently was. He and Sammy had used to race through the halls constantly as kids, but eventually they reached an age where such behaviour was deemed ‘not proper’ by the various tutors that had been assigned to teach them etiquette. He had missed the freedom, however, and it was exhilarating to reclaim some of that joy at a time where he knew that no one would find out.

Even if there were more people roaming these corridors than the handful of guards that should be out here, none of them would dare lecture either him or Castiel on their unbecoming behaviour. It was their wedding day, after all.

Chapter Text

When Dean had first realised he was, well, Dean (not Deanna never Deanna—), an overwhelming feeling of horror had washed over him.

Sure, there were some positives to working this shit out. He had a name for it now, that creeping feeling of uncomfortableness that had existed under his skin since he hit puberty. And with that knowledge, he could start to combat it; slowly, quietly, within his own mind if not anywhere else.

And it would just be within his own mind, for now. They rarely stayed in one place long enough for Dean to ascertain who his allies in the wider school community may be, and the type of small towns they tended to frequent did not breed acceptance. Sammy might be safe to tell, eventually— even as a twelve-year-old, he seemed overly invested in social issues in a way that had already lead to John rolling his eyes and mumbling about ‘damn sissies’ on more than one occasion.

And that was the real root of the issue, wasn’t it? The idea of John Friggin’ Winchester accepting that he had a transgender kid was as unbelievable as the idea that he’d ever willingly give up hunting. John didn’t do shit like ‘acceptance’. Hell, Dean had asked if he could cut his hair short after he first started figuring this whole mess out, citing it getting in the way during hunts as his excuse, and John had walked around muttering that Dean better not end up like ‘one of those damn dykes’ for a week before finally acquiescing.

Maybe one day he would be free to be himself.

Chapter Text

“Sammy, this is Castiel. Cas, this is Sam.”

Sam looked surprised, obviously not expecting to be introduced to a stranger upon getting up that morning.

“And Castiel is…?”

“A new friend,” Dean grinned.

Sammy sighed and sent a tight smile in Cas’ direction, trying to convey that his frustration wasn’t with the other man.

“A new friend or a new friend?”

“A new friend,” Dean clarified. “He’s a medical student I met recently.”

Sam softened a bit at that, but he remained wary.

“And does he know the family business?” He asked, and Castiel cocked his head.

“Do you mean do I know that you are resurrectionists? Does Dean make a habit of acquiring friends in the medical field that don’t know how he makes a living?”

Chapter Text

Of course, stunningly heteronormative middle-aged women weren’t the only people that liked to ignore the obvious implications of Dean and Cas’ relationship, as has already been established. And people like Susan may have more commonly worked to ignore the (fairly obvious) signs that they were more than just friends, but they weren’t the only ones who seemed to be almost purposefully blind to that reality.

Also, in Susan’s defence, the last time they’d met her Dean had been in the midst of a bi-panic induced ‘look at what a straight macho man I am, I’m not interested in my angel best friend at all nuh uh’ phase, and that didn’t always flag with people as the clear overcompensation that it had been. There was a reason it'd worked effectively for Dean for so many years, after all. Who knew?

Chapter Text

Dean spent a lot of his time around Cas completely amazed by the overwhelming amount of love they shared.

Part of that probably went back to how many years they’d spent unsure of themselves and their relationship. They’d spent so long pretending there was nothing between them, that their bond was profound but not in that way, that letting them out in the open finally was a shock. And while they may have been ignoring their feelings for each other for years, those feelings had still existed, building up quietly in the background with no input or help from Dean or Cas. Ten years of close friendship is a hell of a thing to build a relationship out of, in all honesty.

And Dean felt love for Cas in every waking moment they spent together (and he’d wager that the same could be said for the non-waking ones). It didn’t matter what he was doing, how much they were pissing each other off on any given day. It was just a fact of his life now, alongside every other fundamental rule of the universe. One plus one equals two. Bert and Ernie are gay. Dean loves Cas with every cell in his body. There was no avoiding it, not now that it was out in the open, and he sincerely doubted he would ever want to do so again anyway.

Now that he had Cas — real and here and not just in those dreams he’d never been truly able to suppress back when they were still not talking about things — he wasn’t ever planning on letting go.

Chapter Text

“Dean, I’ve found a portal spell that I think we can easily adapt to get you into the Empty!”

Dean froze in place, which was significantly more uncomfortable than it would’ve been if Sammy had waited the two extra seconds it would’ve taken him to actually sit down in his chair. A moment passed like that, then another, before Dean resumed sitting down very abruptly while meeting Sam’s eyes dead-on.

“What the fuck,” he said, feeling like that expressed his emotions at the moment very clearly. “Things aren’t that easy for us. Things are never that easy for us. Well, Chuck’s interference notwithstanding, and we know Jack isn’t doing that kinda shit.”

Sam shrugged.

“Look, we should definitely look into it more first, and it doesn’t solve all our issues, but uh. From an initial look, it seems good. It’s something I flagged in our initial research as worth investigating further, but I didn’t think it would be any use until you mentioned your idea.”

Dean had a lot of things that he thought of saying in response to that, primarily ‘why didn’t you think of one of us using it to get Cas out before I suggested removing his grace to get him out of the deal’, but he figured he’d leave it be. They were one step closer to rescuing Cas, now, and that was all that really mattered.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Dean wondered if choosing his name the way he did was an exercise in self-preservation.

Obviously, everyone had different connections to their deadnames. There was often a reason that parents chose the names they did, and having that connection could be, well. Nice. Especially in his case, where he didn’t have any other real connection to his mother or her side of the family. He’d never met the original Deanna, she’d died before he was born apparently, but he liked to imagine she’d been nice.

But outside of that connection, part of him wondered if he’d chosen Dean because of how theoretically easy the transition would be for his family. They already called him ‘Dee’ half the time anyway, what was tacking one little ‘n’ sound on the end gonna hurt? And the simpler that transition was, the more likely that John would actually manage to stick to it, if he ever decided to actually make an effort to understand his son.

It also made hearing his deadname on a near-daily basis hurt less, even if it didn’t remove the sting completely. The similarity meant that his brain could ignore the second half of the name, tell himself that he was being referred to the way he wanted to be. It wasn’t perfect, and was really friggin’ depressing to think about for any longer than needed, but also? Sometimes lying to himself was enough.

Chapter Text

“I just…” Cas paused and sighed, trying to gather her thoughts. A moment passed, then another, before she thought she’d be able to adequately express herself to Dean. “Do you ever feel wrong? Like, you’re not who you’re supposed to be.”

Dean frowned.

“Like, I’m not acting how I want to or not doing the things I feel I should be?”

“Not— Not really. More like… An itch under your skin, I guess? That’s trying to tell you that somethings off about yourself without being clear about it.”

“I can’t say I have, sorry,” Dean replies. “Not in the way I think you mean, at least.”

“I barely know what I mean so I’m amazed you managed to parse something from it,” Cas stated dryly. “I’m not surprised you haven’t, so don’t worry about it. I just… Don’t know how else to explain, I guess. I’m figuring some things out right now, I think.”

Dean knocked their shoulders together gently, a soft smile on his face.

“Well, when you’ve figured them out enough that you can talk about it, let me know. You know I’ll help however I can.”

Cas smiled back, but hers was much more tight-lipped than Dean’s.

“I will, don’t worry.”

Chapter Text

Dean’s cheeks flushed again as he smiled back.

“Would it be too forward of me to suggest that I know a way to make your week even better?” He asked, and Cas straightened up while raising a cool eyebrow.

“I guess that depends on what your suggestion is,” he replied, and Dean’s smile widened.

“Come to coffee with me this weekend?” He suggested. “It’ll be my treat, and it doesn’t have to mean anything if you don’t want it to, I just…”

“Didn’t want to go another week missing your chance to ask?” Cas asked, and Dean nodded. “I know the feeling, don’t worry. I’d love to go on a coffee date with you.”

They both wore matching grins at this point, and from there it was quick work to swap numbers before sitting down and organising the last of their things as their professor entered the room, both glancing non-subtly at each other as the class progressed. This weekend was going to be good.

 

***

 

(“Meg!!”

~

“Sammy!”

~

“You’ll never guess—”

~

“—what I managed to do today.”

~

“He asked me out—”

~

“We’re going on a coffee date!!”

~

“God, finally!” )

Chapter Text

“I think that using her as a starting point for research is probably best, in that case,” Sam decided. “We can start looking in the books I brought with me, and we can check the bunker’s library when we get back. And we can explain what’s been going on to Dean over dinner later.”

Cas tensed.

“Do we have to tell Dean? Can’t we figure this out without worrying him?”

“You don’t want to tell Dean?”

“I— Just not until we’ve worked out what’s happening? It’s not like he particularly enjoys research,” Cas pointed out, but Sam continued staring at him in disbelief.

“Maybe not, but he sure as hell would suck it up when not doing the research puts your life in danger!”

Chapter Text

Dean had been mildly worried that Cas would tense again at the firmer movement, but it appeared that his gentling had done the trick. He wasn’t unnecessarily harsh, of course, even if Cas’ angelic status would prevent any real harm from coming to him at Dean’s hands, because he doubted it would be needed to get his wings in order.

As he combed through the wings, most of Cas’ misaligned feathers straightened out quickly. This worked to dislodge the already loose feathers that had been trapped, and he soon had a small pile of angel feathers built up in front of him on the bed.

“I almost feel like we should be collecting these for a craft project,” Dean joked. “How much do you reckon an angel feather pillow would sell for?”

“It wouldn’t be the most comfortable thing in the world,” Cas pointed out.

“Aw babe, I think your feathers are plenty comfortable. Or I imagine they are, anyway, given I haven’t exactly had a chance to test it.”

“You can make a pillow if you want, Dean, I won’t stop you. Just don’t complain to me when you get poked by the quills all night.”

Chapter Text

Cas didn’t have a birthday, they realised the first summer After. It’d never seemed important before, the steady march of time being ultimately irrelevant to his angelic nature even as he watched and celebrated as Dean and Sam grew older each year. But he was human now, as fragile and vulnerable as the rest of them, and age was no longer an unimportant factor in his life.

Besides, Dean said he wanted the chance to spoil him.

***

“It’ll be fun, angel! Think of it as a way to celebrate your humanity each year.”

“I don’t want to inconvenience you and Sam though, and I’ve always been perfectly fine without a birthday before.”

 

Chapter Text

Almost every day on their honeymoon, there had been a moment where Dean looked at Cas and was amazed that they’d managed to end up here.

After the type of lives they’d lead, the things they’d gone through, being afforded this simple, uncomplicated happiness felt unbelievable. If you went back to any point in their history together — be it as recently as just before he’d pulled Cas out of the Empty or as long ago as their first meeting seemed now — and told him that one day, he’d be lazing the mornings away in a beachside resort while Castiel, his husband, slept peacefully beside him, he’d never have believed it. Even admitting his sexuality had seemed like a faraway dream for so many years— the fact that he was now married to the love of his life and the identity of said husband were desires that he’d never dared imagine coming true.

But they had! They’d come true in the most spectacular of ways, and he’d do it all again — the fighting, the hunting, the incalculable loss they’d had to face together over the years — as long as he knew he’d still end up here. With Cas. Feeling happier and falling more in love with every second that passed by.

Chapter Text

Dean wakes up.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, given his Words, but it kind of is. His time in the Pit was still fresh in his mind, after all, and while he knew that prior to landing down there he’d felt very confident that he’d be rescued, that kind of hope was hard to hold onto in Hell.

It’s no coincidence that his Words were one of the first things they stripped from him down there, the first tether to his humanity that they’d severed. Connections like that didn’t exist down there. Especially not for souls that were broken, for souls like his.

He screamed out at first, trying to catch the attention of anyone, anything that could help him. Surely his soulmate wouldn’t leave him here, buried underground, with no escape route? Surely they’ve stayed around, waiting to hear noise from his coffin, and any moment now the dirt will be removed and the lid will be opened and he’ll be looking into the friendly eyes of his soulmate (his soulmate) for the first time.

But no one comes, so Dean is forced to claw himself out alone. And when he manages it, heaves that first breath of fresh air in god knows how long, he looks around and realises he’d been buried in a big, empty field, and there was no soulmate in sight.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

It only took them a few minutes to reach the door to the garden they’d walked through together the week prior, Dean using his familiarity with the castle hallways to his advantage while Cas remained hot on his heels. They froze — almost colliding with both each other and the wall — when they saw a uniformed guard standing watch by the door, and Dean was mentally cursing his lack of foresight (of course all the doors were being guarded, two royal courts were currently occupying the castle) before he recognised the soldier and relaxed.

“Benny! Me and Castiel were hoping to get some fresh air tonight, will you keep it quiet that we’ve both come out here if anyone asks?”

Benny stared them both down for a minute, and Dean felt Castiel shift nervously beside him before Benny’s face broke out into an exasperated grin.

“I won’t go out of my way to tell anyone, brother, but you know that I’ll have to do my job if there’s trouble.”

Dean smiled back at him brightly, then grabbed Cas’ hand and tugged the other prince outside as he gave Benny his thanks.

“So you know the guard… well, then?” Cas asked, shifting his hand to interlock their fingers after a moment, and Dean flushed lightly as he looked down at where their hands were joined.

“Benny was the son of one of the previous royal guards,” Dean explained, “So he’s been training at the castle for most of his life. We actually trained together when I went through combat classes, and we’ve been friends ever since.”

Chapter Text

Here is the truth:

Dean Winchester was not supposed to have a soulmate. He was too dangerous with one, to liable to give up everything he had for the one he loved. Sam needed a soulmate, needed to feel the love and loss of Jessica as deeply in himself as possible, as it was the most sure fire way of pulling him onto the path of his destiny. But Dean? Well, it wasn’t like Dean hadn’t already proven he was willing to go to Hell to bring a loved one back to life. He could not have a soulmate because if he had an alive one then he’d never consent to being Michael’s vessel and if he had a dead one then his entire course of destiny would be thrown off once more.

But something in his soul had reached out to Castiel’s grace, the day they met in Hell.

Chapter Text

And sure, when they'd found Sam he claimed he had nothing to do with getting Dean out of Hell. Dean wouldn’t have been inclined to believe him, well aware that Sam was likely just as determined to rescue Dean from his fate as Dean had been him, but the surprise on his face when they reunited couldn’t have been faked.

Part of Dean also shouted that Sam wouldn’t do that to him because he knew what the implications of a deal would mean in terms of Dean’s Words. But he didn’t think that would matter to Sam, not if it meant getting Dean back, not after how buddy-buddy him and Ruby had gotten prior to her exorcism at Lillith’s hands.

He just wished they had any clue as to who the fuck it was that had rescued him, given Sam was no help.

Chapter Text

Honestly, given their track record, Dean had half been expecting something dramatic to happen that prevented them from actually going on said date.

Yes, most of the delay in them actually hitting this point had been a result of him being a disaster bi, but it would be just his luck for him to finally get his shit together only outside forces to intervene. But they’d been texting almost constantly for the three days since they swapped numbers, and everything seemed set in terms of their plans.

They weren’t doing anything too extravagant — Dean wouldn’t really want to even if they weren’t both poor college students, honestly, he liked Cas a lot but fancy dinners always felt like a bit much for a first date — just meeting up for morning tea at a local coffee shop they’d both agreed was good. If everything went well, they could decide what to do from there, with a movie theatre and a small park both within walking distance. Neither of them thought it would go badly, of course, they’d gotten well past the ‘mutual interest’ stage of things, but you truly never know.

Dean had his hopes up, though, and had dressed with a potential stroll through the park in mind when he’d gotten ready that morning. Lucky for him, Cas seemed to as well.

Chapter Text

“I’m glad you were allowed to form those types of connections growing up,” Castiel commented, smiling softly at Dean. “Eden encourages a much more… Formal view on relationships, and while on some level I can understand why my parents believe it is the best way to handle things, it means I feel quite lost when I need to socialise with people.”

Dean squeezed his hand slightly tighter for a beat, hoping Cas could read the unsaid message of support, before swinging their arms lightly between them.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure my parents and tutors wish me and Sammy were more formal than we are, but they’ve never tried to stop us from being friends with someone, regardless of status. It makes us ‘more approachable as rulers’, apparently, not that I’m complaining. Nobles tend to be much more stuck up.”

It was now Castiel’s turn to blush, but he didn’t make any attempt to still Dean.

“I am sorry if I have come across that way at any point,” he apologised. “As I said, I’m not used to behaving any differently.”

While still holding onto Cas’ hand, Dean twisted himself so their eyes met as they stopped walking.

“Woah, hey, Cas, I was talking about you just then,” Dean said. “I meant the folks that look down on anyone and anything they deem below their station. You’ve always just come across as adorably awkward.”

Chapter Text

See, there was a whole group of people who would look at two attractive men out and about in the world, mentally decide ‘Yeah, I’d tap that,’ then decide to ignore any signs that they might not, in fact, be able to tap that. Some of the people Dean had noticed looking at him or Cas with intent would back off after seeing them interact, recognising the lingering touches and fond eye-contact for what it very clearly was. But that wasn’t always the case, whether it was because they didn’t ‘look gay enough’ or because some determined woman was sure they could be ‘turned straight’ if she just flirted enough (which honestly, Dean found offensive on two counts— both at the idea that bisexuality didn’t exist and the idea that he would ever want anyone other than Cas now that he had him).

Chapter Text

As it turned out, the answer was a rousing ‘kind of’. Interdimensional magic could be, well, difficult to say the least, and the more different two universes were, the harder it was to form a reliable connection.

“The theory and groundwork for it is all relatively simple for me,” Magnus explained. “Or as simple as dimensional magic ever is, at the very least. Although it is not my specialty, a dear friend of mine once spent a fair amount of time mastering the skill, and he imparted some of that knowledge onto me.”

At that, Magnus’ eyes dropped briefly, and an overwhelming sense of loss seemed to wash over him. Alec grasped his hand gently, care in his every movement, but Magnus was already wearing his bright grin again as he looked between Dean and Cas.

“The trouble comes with trying to find the right dimension,” he continued. “And for that, I need you two.”

Chapter Text

Dean and Cas traded wary glances, unsure of how to respond to Magnus’ declaration.

“What do you need from us?” Cas asked after a moment, and Magnus gestured broadly.

“Oh, just general information about your universe. Major events, a general idea of how the power and magic structure’s function, that sort of thing. Things that I can try to pick up on when I’m feeling out potential universes.”

That was doable, especially given the amount of involvement they’d had in pretty much every apocalyptic event in their universe, but now the problem was with where to start.

“Well, God is real, but he’s a dick,” Dean offered after a moment, and a grin crossed over Cas’ face even as he sighed at Dean’s bluntness.

“That is an apt way of describing my father,” he agreed, “Though I do not know how relevant his personality is to determining our universe.”

Dean shrugged, then froze as a thought occurred to him.

“Fuck, I completely forgot that Chuck’s not in control anymore. God, I’ve been so consumed by the fact that I have you back that I haven’t even told you half the shit that went down in between the Empty taking you and me coming in after you.”

Cas frowned across at him, confused.

“I assumed you’d had some form of showdown with him, but I figured that once we got back home we’d still have some battles to fight. Are you saying…”

“Yeah, no, we, uh, we’ve dealt with him already. I guess it’s slightly more accurate to say God is dead, and we killed him.”

Chapter Text

One thing that will never fail to amuse Dean about Cas’ humanity is how goddamn clingy he is in bed.

It doesn’t matter how they fall asleep, doesn’t even matter if they go to bed at the same time. Every morning, without fail, he wakes up with legs tangled with his, an arm wound around his waist, and Cas’ face burrowed into the crook of his neck. Hell, they could probably sleep head to foot and he’d still wake up with Cas wrapped around him.

And he isn't complaining! It is honestly one of his favourite parts of waking up each morning. Just revelling in the close contact, knowing that after everything they’d been through, Cas had chosen him, made the occasional dead limb worth it.

He just wished it was slightly easier to extract himself when he needed to piss.

Chapter Text

The next time Cas comes into the café, Dean is determined to come across as at least a little put together. The man was fast becoming a regular, even if he’d only come to the shop maybe five times while Dean was there, and Dean couldn’t exactly keep tripping over himself every time they met eyes.

Also, Charlie had said she wanted to hear he’d made some progress the next time they saw each other.

The shop wasn’t busy, with only one customer ahead of Cas in line, and Dean flashed a grin his way as he stepped up to the counter.

“Your usual?”

 

Chapter Text

“So… How much adjustment are you thinking this spell will need, exactly??”

Sam sighed, shutting the book he’d been looking through. Dean felt slightly guilty, as he hadn’t been much good for research today, but the hyperfocused determination he’d been living with for weeks had given way to a sort of anxious tension ever since Sam had mentioned the portal.

“Honestly, I’m not sure yet. It might not even need any adjustment, but the wording isn’t very clear. It’s designed to open up a portal to anyone you channel it towards, and it implies that includes people that aren’t still alive, but the Empty is more complex than Heaven and Hell.”

Chapter Text

The first time Dean blinks himself awake to find he’s curled up on the couch with Cas, a pinkish light washing over them from the sun setting outside, he has to take a moment to pause and laugh at himself.

They hadn’t had a very taxing week, not in the slightest. These days, their lives were filled with mundane things. Grocery shopping and home improvement efforts and beekeeping, with maybe the occasional call from someone who thought a couple of erstwhile hunters would have the advice needed to get them out of a tight spot. Things were good, calm, domestic in that way he’d always longed for but never truly believed he’d be afforded.

And apparently, that simple domestic life also included impromptu afternoon naps with his husband.

There were certainly worse ways to live, that was for sure.

Chapter Text

That, unsurprisingly… wasn’t exactly what Dean wanted to hear.

Oh, he wasn’t shocked, not in the least. It explained why Sam had been hesitant to bring it up earlier, why all of his words about the spell so far had been couched in a series of ‘maybes’ and hopeful smiles. Dean would honestly have been more shocked to find that it would work perfectly no matter what. It was a real start, and that was a helluva lot better than what they’d had previously.

That didn’t make the uncertainty sting any less.

Sam could apparently see the moment Dean flipped back from nervous anticipation to resigned acceptance, because his face softened.

“Hey, no. Dean, I wouldn’t have brought this spell up if I didn’t think it could work. You know I wouldn’t. I’ve already looked at a couple of ways that I think I can adjust it, and I’ve asked around for some advice as well. It’s just… Not something many people have ever tried before, if anyone has.”

 

Chapter Text

“Cas, angel, what are you doing up? You’re never awake before me.”

Castiel flushed and paused in the door of their room when he saw Dean sitting up in bed.

“I was hoping to surprise you,” he replied, and Dean raised his eyebrows.

“Surprise me? What, by being awake and functional before nine?”

“I’d been planning on being up even earlier so I could get back in the room before you realised I was gone,” Cas admitted. “But it took me half an hour to convince myself getting out of bed was worth it.”

Dean laughed, shaking his head fondly.

“I’m really feelin’ the love here, Cas,” he said, and he snorted again when Cas’ only response was a wry shrug. “Anyway, you still haven’t told me why you got up?”

Cas blushed again, then held up a finger to signal Dean should wait a second before ducking out of the doorway only to return holding a tray.

“I, uh. I made you breakfast?”

Chapter Text

The spell didn’t fall through. Dean wasn’t fully up to date on how exactly the mechanics of it all worked, but he didn’t really need to know. He trusted Sam knew what he was doing, could feel his growing confidence every time their eyes met, and it wasn’t like Dean would be performing the spell anyway. That was Sam’ job.

After that, the pieces of the plan just started to fall into place. They were coordinating with Jack to make it work, and had gotten just about everyone they trusted to look over each individual element as they added them, and things seemed good so far.

Things seemed great so far, actually. The plan to rescue Cas was so close he could practically taste it. There were a few things they needed to double-check, still, but if all went well... then Cas would be home within the fortnight.

Chapter Text

Sometimes — admittedly usually on the days after nights where Dean had kept Cas up late or woken him early for whatever dirty (or not-so-dirty) purposes he’d felt like at the time — Dean would be sitting on the couch to do some inventory work or whatever else and find that he very abruptly had a lapful of Cas.

He’d be typing away, fully engrossed in his work, then would feel the sudden weight of Cas’ head in his lap. He honestly didn’t know how Cas managed it half the time, given he always managed to slip under Deans arms and avoid interrupting whatever it was he happened to be doing. And it wasn’t an attempt to get Dean to pay him attention, either— the first few times, Dean had stopped working to check everything was okay, but he quickly realised that Cas wasn’t looking for conversation when his questions were met with halfhearted mumbles or baleful glares.

No, instead, Cas just wanted to sleep for an hour or so.

And he’d apparently decided along the way that the most comfortable place to do so happened to be Dean’s lap.

So now, Dean would just shift whichever hand was most convenient to threat carefully through Castiel’s hair, knowing that the soft drag of his nails would put Cas out like a light sooner than anything else would’ve. It might’ve meant Dean finished his work later than he otherwise would’ve those days, but the soft smile his actions afforded him was worth more to him than any amount of extra free time ever would.

Chapter Text

“I am glad to hear that,” Castiel said softly. “I know many people in Eden see things differently than that. Although I must ask… Did you mean to call me Cas?”

Deans free hand lifted up to rub the back of his neck, but he didn’t make any attempt to loosen the hand he had entangled with Cas.

“I did mean it in the sense that I’ve started calling you it in my head a lot of the time, but I didn’t mean to use it just yet. I figured a certain degree of familiarity was probably fine, given we’re literally married, but I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. I can just call you Castiel, if you’d prefer?”

Cas shook his head, tugging on Dean’s hand lightly as he moved forwards at the same meandering pace they’d held since they first entered the gardens.

“No, I— I like it.”

Chapter Text

In this particular instance, Dean and Cas were in the middle of a date around a local museum when Dean noticed a woman looking at him with intent.

He ignored her, instead threading his arm through Cas’ as Cas examined the exhibit in front of them with a furrowed brow. The museum hadn’t been his first choice of date, knowing that the history and quiet atmosphere of it all would bore him more than anything, but Cas had looked so excited at the idea of going in that he hadn’t had the heart to say no.

And though he’d been right about the exhibits themselves not being interesting to him, watching Cas’ expression as they wandered through became a form of entertainment in and of itself— the particular frown that meant historians had gotten a key detail wrong, the smile that crossed his face when he recognised an artifact or story from his time as an angel.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Cas!” Dean said, slipping into the seat across from him.

“Hello, Dean,” Cas replied, a warm smile playing at his lips.

“You look good. Today. I mean— You look good every day, but. Especially today. Sorry, I’m a little nervous.”

Cas’ smile grew, and he tilted his head an inch or so to the left.

“Thank you, Dean. You look good as well. Though I must ask, is there any reason in particular you’re so nervous?”

Dean snorted, eyebrow raised incredulously.

“Are you kidding me, man? Have you seen yourself lately?”

A light flush rose on Cas’ cheeks, but he didn’t drop Dean’s gaze.

“I have, yes. I have also seen you, Dean, and admiring your looks from afar did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the full experience of talking to you.”

“Aw, shucks, Cas,” Dean said, ducking his head as he felt his face heat, but his dropped gaze didn’t conceal his red cheeks or genuine smile from Cas’ view.

Chapter Text

After clarifying what exactly he’d meant by that (‘He’s not actually dead, but we drained his powers and condemned him to a mortal life— Cas’ adopted son is the new God now’), Dean and Cas took turns describing every weird event that had happened to them, starting way back at the beginning with Mary’s death.

Magnus and Alec both looked increasingly shocked as they went on, even as Dean and Cas responded nonchalantly to every follow-up question they thought to ask.

“And I’d thought we’d had a rough few years,” Alec muttered, eyebrows raised, and Dean shrugged.

“Look, fifteen years ago, if someone had told me what was coming, I’d have had a friggin’ nervous breakdown. But when shit’s happening to you, you just gotta adapt. And, well…”

“…Shit happened to us, and frequently. It’s what happens when someone like my father gets bored.”

Magnus grimaced at that, eyes flicking across to Alec.

“Well, I for one am glad that my father doesn’t have access to that sort of power. He can cause enough trouble as it is.”

Chapter Text

Obviously, the easiest way for Dean to figure this all out would be to write something to his soulmate. He didn’t know anything right now— didn’t know if he’d had a blocked connection somehow, or if this had only just developed; didn’t know how things had seemed from his soulmate’s perspective.

Had they always gotten Dean’s writing? Had they spent all this time thinking he was ignoring them, growing more and more disillusioned with every day that passed without a real conversation, while Dean was carelessly inking up his hands, believing he had no soulmate to annoy with the blue and black blotches?

Or were they just as shocked as he now was, trying to work out the why and the how and the why now of it all, looking back through their recent past to try and work out what had catalysed the connection?

(If it was something happening in his life that had kickstarted their connection, Dean had a suspicion he knew what it was, even if it didn’t signal good things about his soulmate. No one came back from Hell completely unchanged.) 

Chapter Text

Waking up in Heaven was not how Dean had expected his day to go.

Not in any way, shape, or form.

He probably should’ve listened when Sammy said that it was too dangerous to take on cases as occasionally as he had been, but he’d never been good at doing things that were good for his health. And he’d figured that even if he was now more out of practice than not, his ‘out of practice’ was better than most hunters.

Apparently not, though, if he’d been killed by a two-bit vamp dressed like a sideshow attraction.

“Well, at least I made it to Heaven.”

“Yep.”

Bobby’s voice startled him, which was unsurprising given how many years it had been since the last time he heard it in person.

“What memory is this?”

Bobby laughed, which would’ve been mildly offensive if not for how real the sound was.

“It ain’t, ya idjit.”

Dean frowned, confused.

“Yeah it is, 'cause the last I heard, you... You were in Heaven's lock-up.”

Was,” Bobby said. “Now I’m not. That kid of yours, well, he made some changes here. Busted my ass out. And then he set some things right. Tore down all the walls.”

“Jack did it all?”

“Well… Cas helped, once he got up here.”

Dean fell into the seat beside him immediately, tentative hope building inside him.

“Cas— Cas is here?”

Chapter Text

It’d been almost five years since Dean lost Cas, and scarcely a week had gone by where the angel didn’t cross his mind.

Oh, he’d tried to move on, of course. Five years was a long time to stay hung up on someone you barely could manage to admit you loved in the first place. But even if Sam and he had realised fairly early on there was probably no way they could rescue Cas themselves, there was always this overhanging ‘what if’ that came with the knowledge that Jack was working diligently on the issue while managing things in Heaven.

As time had gone on, things had gotten both better and worse.

The wound had gotten less fresh, of course, and getting therapy with an in-the-know psychologist had helped him process pretty much everything he’d been through. He wasn’t fine, not by any stretch of the imagination, but he was as close to it as he’d ever been.

But processing things had left him wholly unable to pretend Cas hadn’t meant the world to him, and the idea that he might never see the angel again?? Well, it’d given him his fair share of sleepless nights, that was for sure. 

Chapter Text

Dean grinned, almost involuntarily, and he swung their clasped hands lightly as they continued walking.

“Good. Castiel is a perfectly fine name, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little long and…” Here Dean trailed off, not wanting to offend Cas this early into their acquaintanceship, but Cas just huffed out a quiet laugh.

“Stuffy?” Cas asked. “Don’t worry, Dean, I am well aware of how formal my full name is in many situations. My parents like that about it, it’s part of why they chose it, but I often find it chafing.”

“It’s interesting to think of how differently we’ve seemed to be raised, despite both belonging to royal families. It’s understandable, given how different our kingdoms are, but either way. I hope it’s not been too much of a culture shock for you.”

Chapter Text

She started walking towards the two of them anyway, and Dean had to grit his teeth when his purposeful aura of ‘not interested’ did nothing to dissuade her flirty grin.

“Well, you don’t seem like the type of man I’d expect to find in a museum,” she said, coy look on her face, and he sent her an awkward smile in response.

“I’m usually not,” Dean admitted, “But I’m not here alone, as you can see.”

The ‘so back the fuck off’ was left unsaid, as he didn’t want to come off too aggressively just in case, but he felt it was pretty heavily implied.

The woman, unfortunately, still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Chapter Text

Some evenings, rather than hanging around in the bar or staying in their hotel room, Dean and Cas would walk along the beach.

When they went at sunset, the beach was still usually crowded, with families and couples alike all gathered to watch colours burst across the sky. Later than that, though, and the numbers of their fellow vacationers usually began to drop off, with people ditching the sand and the waves for well-lit hotel rooms and beach houses.

Dean didn’t fully get it, but he wasn’t gonna complain about the extra privacy. The beach was so peaceful at night, silvery moonlight reflecting off the waves, and he trusted that he and Cas were both well equipped to deal with any of the dangers they could potentially stumble across in the dark.

Chapter Text

It was amazing, in some ways, how calming fire could be.

Fire had done so much damage to the Winchesters. Even if you ignored the individual losses it had brought them, it was a fire that had forced them into this life in the first place, and a fire that pulled Sam back in.

Fire was deadly, painful, and condemning.

But it was also warm, loving, and beautiful— the crackle they heard when they camped out on cold winter nights, the force that had ultimately pulled Dean back together with his family and towards Cas in the first place.

Things could be both dangerous and stunning. Kind and damaging. Things were rarely good or bad these days, whether they be a person or the result of a complex chemical process.

Fire was no exception.

Chapter Text

Sometimes it amazed Dean that before living in the bunker, he’d mostly avoided cooking.

It made sense, given the impermanence of their lives growing up. Motel rooms rarely had a proper cooking space, and heading to local diners was easier than anything else. But cooking felt so natural, now, that he felt like he’d been doing it his entire life.

The best part about cooking now, though, was getting to share the experience with Cas.

 

***

 

“So what are we thinking, Cas? Strawberry pie?”

Cas looked at the punnets stacked in front of him, head tilted consideringly.

“That seems like it would be a good use of the strawberries, yes,” he replied, and Dean grinned.

“Why did you buy so many of them anyway? They’re not really the type of food you can hoard away in an apocalypse bunker, you know.”

“The stall was being manned by a youngish child when I went,” Cas admitted. “His mother was out back, I believe, but he was very eager to make a sale without being watched over.”

Dean’s face softened, but it still had a distinctly teasing edge to it.

“Damn, Cas, who knew that a cute face would be all it took to convince you to buy something? Would you buy strawberries from me if I had a stall at the market?”

Cas hummed, pulling Dean close and pecking his nose before answering.

“Probably not.”

Chapter Text

“But… why would Cas have stayed up here? Why didn’t he—”

Come home to me, Dean thought, but he left the words unsaid. They seemed too fragile and fraught with emotion to be heard out loud.

Bobby sent him a look that suggested the older man knew exactly what was going through his head either way, but he left it alone.

“It’s possible he decided helping Jack fix up Heaven was more immediately important,” Bobby pointed out. “No one was really expecting you to die just yet, idjit.”

Dean sighed, honestly a little embarrassed.

“To think I survived multiple apocalypses only to get ganked by a vamp wearing a shitty Halloween mask."

Chapter Text

Cas paused for a moment, obviously considering his experiences, but he resumed walking almost instantly.

“It’s been a little odd at times,” he admitted. “But not in a bad way. Just… seeing how much more casual everyone is when it’s not a formal event. Things aren’t all formal back home, of course, but outside of talking to my siblings it’s expected I’ll conduct myself like the prince I am.”

“We’re expected to conduct ourselves with propriety as well, don’t get me wrong, but it does seem like our families have different opinions on what that means. I hope that you find living here freeing, if nothing else.”

Chapter Text

Somewhere along the line, Dean had decided it was categorically unfair that he couldn’t see Castiel’s true form.

That was his husband, goddammit, and he didn’t even know what he actually looked like! Cas was at home in Jimmy’s body, could claim it as his own as much as his angelic form was, but that didn’t change the fact that Dean wanted to know what he looked like at the core of his being, just as Cas knew him.

And it didn’t even make sense that Dean couldn’t see Cas’ true form. He was the righteous man, the Michael sword, and yet he wasn’t afforded the honour? You’d think he’d have gotten at least one good thing out of that whole shitshow, but no, Chuck had lived to torture him.

So really, Dean had only one option moving forwards.

 

***

 

“Draw yourself.”

“I— Dean— What?” Cas asked, startled, as Dean slammed a sketchbook down in front of him.

“Come on, man, it’s not that hard! Draw yourself, I wanna know what you look like.”

Cas squinted at him for a moment, then glanced down, as if reaffirming his visibility.

“You know what I look like, Dean,” he said, gesturing to his trench coat. “Intimately, might I add.”

Dean flushed.

“No— I mean— Draw your true form. I know what you look like in your vessel, of course. I just… wanna know what you look like outside of it, too.”

A dawning look of realisation crossed Cas’ face as Dean spoke, and he sent Dean a soft smile.

“I can try my best,” he said. “But it might be better to have someone who can see me from all angles try as well.”

Dean huffed out a laugh.

“Yeah, I guess there aren’t many mirrors as tall as the Chrysler Building that you can use for reference, huh.”

“Not really,” Cas agreed, before leaning in to kiss Dean softly. “It makes me very happy to know you wish to see this side of me.”

Dean kissed him again, slow and firm, before pulling back with a smile.

“Of course, angel.”

Chapter Text

“…That would be my fault.”

Dean startled at the new voice, not having expected anyone else to join them, and his breath caught in his throat as he recognised it.

“Jack?” He asked, and Jack beamed at him for a moment, before he obviously remembered the implications of what he’d just said and the smile turned more embarrassed.

“I’m sorry, Dean! I promise, though, I can revive you at any point, this way just the only way I could think of getting you up here.”

Dean frowned at him, confused.

“I thought you said weren’t doing that kinda shit, especially after the mess Chuck made of things.”

Jack blushed.

“I’m… not making a habit of it. But Cas wasn’t going down to Earth to see you, not after how things left off, and he banned me from calling you up to heaven while you were alive.”

The ‘so I made you dead’ was left unsaid, but Dean snorts and shakes his head at it anyway.

“God, kid, you never do anything by half measures, do you? Why couldn’t you have just called me up here anyway? You’re God.”

Chapter Text

The thing was, labelling herself felt like such a big step.

And she knew she didn’t have to have everything figured out! Right now, she was still trying to work out if she was, well, a she at all. And that was okay. Not everyone had the words to describe themselves accurately, and even the people that did sometimes took actual years figuring everything out.

But the idea of having a label was… comforting.

Cas had always prided herself in having a strong sense of identity, having language to describe herself even when feelings and emotions failed. She’d latched onto pansexuality almost immediately after realising she wasn’t straight, was feeling more and more certain that she also lay somewhere on the ace spectrum as each day went by and those mythical hormones that were supposed to make her interested in sex didn’t appear; but here, when it came to something that was arguably one of the most significant aspects of herself, she was falling short.

Knowing labels weren’t needed didn’t help when they were still wanted.

Chapter Text

“Dean, I may be God, but Cas is still my father. It’s why he knew he could ban me from bringing you here.”

“Will you at least get a message down to Sammy? I don’t even wanna know what he’s thinking right now.”

Jack relaxed, obviously realising Dean wasn’t mad.

“I already did, don’t worry. He seemed… Very relieved to hear from me. I probably could’ve handled this all better, but I was concerned Cas would realise what I was planning and stop me from interfering at all.”

Dean continued to feel faintly amused by it all, but that feeling was quickly overtaken with determination.

“So, where is he?”

Chapter Text

“Oh, your friend seems busy looking at the exhibits. I’m sure he won’t mind us having a little chat? Alone?”

Dean grimaced, growing even more uncomfortable.

“I’m good staying here,” he said. “I’m not looking to leave his ass any time soon.”

And that was meant in every sense of the words, but she just waved her hand dismissively.

“I have a friend with me that I can introduce him to if you really want, she’s much more into all this history stuff than I am. She’s moved on to the next room already. I’m Katie, by the way.”

She reached out for a moment, as if she was going to touch his arm gently, and he stepped back, irritated. Cas, who had given up pretending he was focused on the exhibit as soon as he realised she wasn’t leaving them alone, frowned as if he was about to say something. Before he could, though, Dean had levelled a glare at the woman.

“Not interested.”

Chapter Text

Later, when Dean was thinking back on the incident, he tried to think of anything he could’ve done to handle the situation differently.

Yeah, sure, he hadn’t explicitly stated Cas was his boyfriend, but he hadn’t thought he’d need to! He wasn’t being particularly subtle— He’d been touching Cas through the entire interaction, and hadn’t expressed interest in her at all. He was just so tired of people assuming he and Cas were just friends, tired of wondering if he was somehow subconsciously hiding their relationship even in moments where he felt comfortable being open.

Cas was still mostly confused by it all, not really understanding how other people could miss what was so plainly obvious to him, and although he wasn’t annoyed at Dean over any of it, Dean couldn’t help but feel guilty anyway.

Chapter Text

Dean huffed into the apartment he shared with Sam, far more frustrated than he’d expected to be when leaving for his date a few hours prior.

“I don’t know why I bother going on these anymore, I haven’t had a successful first date in almost two years.”

Sam glanced over at him, vaguely worried.

“Look, Dean, I don’t wanna make assumptions here, but… Have you considered it’s because of where you’ve been taking your dates?”

“What? Sam, I’ve been taking them to Angel Radio, you know That. Yeah, it’s not exactly the Ritz, but it’s a helluva lot better than the shitty diners I spend the rest of my life eating at, and I’m not just saying it because Cas’ family runs the place.”

“I know, but Dean, on first dates, people usually like to walk away knowing they had at least some chance of ending up in a committed relationship. When people see you interact with Cas, they tend to realise there’s not.

Dean scowled.

“Look, Sam, whatever feelings you think I have for Cas are unimportant here. He’s my best friend, I trust him more than anyone else, and if I’m in a relationship with someone I want to know they’ll get along well with him as early as possible. Also, it makes for an easy escape if they end up being a creep.”

Sam sighed, obviously bitchy, and made to walk off before stopping for another moment.

“Just… think about it, okay?”

 

***

 

So, Dean thinks about it. He goes on another unsuccessful date at Angel Radio, this time with someone who seemed unengaged with him from the start, then matches with a guy named Benny. This time, when organising their first date, he asks Benny where he’d like to go, and they end up at a place that reminds him of the Roadhouse.

When they exit the bar and Benny asks if they can go out again next weekend, Dean smiles brightly and nods, ignoring the sinking feeling that was building in his stomach.

 

***

 

Dean goes out with Benny two more times before suggesting they go to Angel Radio.

 

***

 

“Look, Dean, I like you a lot, but it’s been obvious you were holding me at an arm’s length on all our dates. I was gonna see how tonight went and maybe ask you about it if things didn’t change, but I don’t think I need to anymore.”

Dean frowns, confused, but Benny sends him a look before he can interrupt.

“No, you know what I’m talking about, brother, even if you don’t wanna admit it. What’s the deal with blue eyes anyway? He not into guys?”

Dean flushed.

“Cas? Nah, he is, he’s just… Not into me specifically.”

Benny snorted, disbelieving.

“He has working eyes, right? Like, we weren’t gettin’ served by a blind waiter? Because he obviously has no issues with your personality if you two are best pals.”

Dean shrugged, embarrassed.

“I dunno, man, guess he just wants different things out of a relationship? We’ve been through a lot together, so that complicates feelings as well. If I were braver, maybe I’d give it a shot, but…”

“You don’t wanna lose him. Don’t worry, brother, I get it. I just hope you work things out.”

“Can we stay friends? I do like you, you’re fun to hang out with, you’re just…”

“Not Cas?” Benny finished, and Dean nodded awkwardly. “Yeah, man, we can hang out still.”

Chapter Text

For all he’d tried to deny it to Sam, Dean knew exactly how he felt for Cas. He had liked the guy as more than a friend for years now, and it was hard to stay oblivious when you’d lose focus in a conversation only to realise you were daydreaming about macking on your best friend.

He just couldn’t risk it, couldn’t risk Cas’ friendship, didn’t want to taint everything they’d done for each other through the years by forcing Cas to re-evaluate all of his actions through the lens of a one-sided attraction.

So, he went on dates.

If he’d played up his annoyance at how monumentally all of those said dates failed when talking to Cas, hoping to see a twinge of jealousy or relief or just anything that might indicate he had a chance cross Cas’ face, well.

That was between him and God, and Dean had some fairly major doubts that the dude existed in the first place.

Chapter Text

Even after getting Cas out, after they’ve had their fairy-tale reunion and embarked on their happily ever after, Dean feels constantly on edge. It’s like he’s waiting for things to go to shit again, for Chuck to come out of the shadows and reveal he’s still the one in control somehow, for everyone and everything he loves to be ripped away from him again.

He can’t control it, any of it; the sleepless nights, the panic attacks, the itch under his skin that constantly screams he’s too settled, that he’s in danger here, that all it would take was a blink for everything to disappear again.

Because that’s the thing they don’t tell you about fairy-tales, isn’t it? They talk about the romance, the glory, the joy that follows once everything’s said and done. And then they sanitise out all the gory details that don’t fit that pretty picture.

The ugly stepsisters cut off their toes to try and fit the glass slippers. The little mermaid never got her Prince Charming. And Dean is haunted by everything he’d been through and everything he’d had to do in order to survive as long as he had.

Chapter Text

The one downside that Dean hadn’t considered ahead of time when it came to a beach honeymoon was how much sand would friggin’ cling to literally everything.

If he’d thought about it ahead of time, it would’ve been obvious. People complained about sand all the time! But knowing intellectually that sand is course and rough and gets everywhere was different to waking up in bed and feeling grains of it between your toes, rubbing your dry eyes and feeling the grit of it irritate them even further.

It was a minor complaint, compared to everything they’d been through in life. And it wasn’t anywhere near annoying enough to make him regret picking the beach for their honeymoon, especially considering the absolute joy that filled him when he got to sit hand in hand with Cas as they both watched the gentle waves.

But he’d never make fun of someone complaining about the irritating properties of sand ever again.

Chapter Text

One thing Dean hadn’t considered when it came to being a responsible house owner was that he and Cas could actually properly decorate for holidays.

They’d done it a little at the bunker, Dean way too gleeful about the fact that they had a space to decorate that was their own, permanent in a way their motels and houses growing up had never been, but decorating a house was different. For one thing, no one ever really saw the inside of the bunker other than them.

For another, a house meant they had an entire front yard to decorate, in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

He was absolutely getting his hands on a Home Depot skeleton.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, it amazes Dean that he and Cas were never meant to fall in love.

From a broad perspective, sure. Angels weren’t meant to be able to feel things as human as the love they shared. The story couldn’t unfold the way Chuck had meant it to when Cas had more loyalties to Dean than anyone else. There were millions of morally and ethically questionable reasons that had lead to Chuck doing his level best to prevent the relationship and trust they had forged over the decade they’ve spent in each other lives from forming.

But there was something so inevitable about it all.

Loving Cas was— Well, it hadn’t been easy. Not at first. Dean had too much shit he’d had to get through, layers of denial and trauma wrapped around the very core of his being so thickly that it was amazing he hadn’t suffocated under the weight of it all. But now that he had reached this stage of acceptance, it was simple. Unapologetic. As natural and at home in the realities of the universe as the moon was in the sky.

And knowing that it wasn’t inevitable? That it was something that their combined free will had been carving a place for, together, even when Chuck had apparently been influencing every other major part of his life as part of his twisted entertainment?

Well, that was almost the most beautiful part of it all.

Chapter Text

In the days immediately after Chuck’s defeat, before Dean’s had a chance to properly regroup himself and start researching ways to rescue Cas, he finds himself turning Cas’ confession over and over in his mind.

There was something so definitive about it all, the words weighing heavy on him in a way he’d never expected. Part of him felt like he should’ve seen it coming, read between the lines of their every interaction and realised how deep Cas’ affection for him ran, understood that the bond that had lead to the man turning his back on Heaven for Dean had been profound in more ways than one.

He’d just never been sure Cas could even feel things as seemingly mundane as romantic love, even in the all-encapsulating way Cas seemed to feel it for Dean. Not as an angel, at least, and his time as a human had always been marked by more important issues. Hearing the ardent confession from Cas, realising what he had wanted for years now had been within his reach the entire time; it had knocked something loose in Dean, something that he knew would rattle around within his soul until Cas was restored to his proper place by Dean’s side.

He just hoped it wouldn’t take them too long to rescue him.

Chapter Text

Dean hadn’t ever really been friends with Cas, not the way Sam was, but that wasn’t exactly strange. He’d been in Sam’s year, after all, and he’d only really started coming over to the Winchester’s after Dean had hit college. Still, they’d been friendly enough, and knowing there was a familiar face around was enough to ease some of the tension Dean had been carrying since the move.

“No, Sam’s still out in Cali. He’s considering following me here in a couple of years, but apparently we’re at an age where we should be able to live on opposite coasts if needed.”

Chapter Text

Jack smiled slightly.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll see him soon.”

“You’re… Not gonna take me to him?” Dean asked, confused, but Jack only shrugged.

“I can if I need to, but I don’t think I will. Have you thought about what you’ll say when you see him again?”

Dean blinked, dumbfounded at how blasé Jack was being.

“Oh, only a couple of hundred times over the years,” he drawled, and Jack’s smile widened.

“Good,” he said, and before Dean could ask him to clarify further, a frantic Cas appeared in a flutter of wings.

“Jack! Dean’s soul has disappeared from Earth—” Cas froze, eyes locking onto Dean, his initial panic giving way to something very different in an instant.

Dean found himself staring back, equally stunned.

“Oh, did I forget to mention I obscured where your soul was in Heaven so Cas wouldn’t catch on?” Jack asked, but before anyone else could make a move to talk, Cas was gone.

“Well. That went well.”

Chapter Text

Even though he probably still had a little time before he was in immediate danger, Dean didn’t have high hopes for getting out of his restraints. He’d been fiddling with the knots while still feigning sleep, and they hadn’t budged an inch. As a last-ditch effort, he funnelled what little magic he had into loosening them, and tried not to visibly relax when they moved with the extra coercion.

It wasn’t much, but it would be enough.

He could try to leave now, of course, slipping out of his bonds and hoping he’d make it out of the camp without being noticed, but that seemed risky. While staying in place fighting the goblins head-on was no safer, at least he’d have the element of surprise on his side.

Chapter Text

When Dean got home from the store, decorations in hand, Cas quirked his head in amusement.

“Do you need help with your bags?” He asked, and Dean started to protest before hesitating.

“There’s another couple of bags in Baby,” he admitted gruffly, and Cas’ pleased look grew.

“I’m glad you’re getting into the spirit of it all,” Cas replied. “I’m looking forward to decorating with you.”

Dean didn’t reply immediately, instead looking away awkwardly and rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, but he relaxed when he realised Cas was sincere rather than teasing.

“I didn’t mean to get so much shit,” he said, “But I kept seeing stuff I figured people we know would appreciate, and…”

“Ended up buying half the store?” Cas asked, eyes dancing, and he stepped forward to brush a kiss against Dean’s cheek when he nodded. “We’ll just have to work out how to make an even more elaborate display come Christmas.”

Chapter Text

Dean had always liked the sun.

He didn’t know why, not fully, but he suspected it was something to do with the lonely years he’d spent hunting, all too aware of the dangers that darkness could bring. So much of his life had been shrouded in secrecy, a necessary evil when your job involved ganking creatures that were widely regarded as existing only in myths.

Hunting didn’t only take place at night, of course— most of the grunt work was done in broad daylight. Interviews and case research were hard to do effectively when everyone was asleep. But the dangerous parts, the dark side— the violence and the blood that had defined his life for so many years? They belonged to the night, and Dean was tired of living in them constantly.

So when Cas came to him, eyes bright as he gestured out the window, hopefully requesting that they could give unpacking a rest and just spend the day enjoying the weather outside for once, who the hell was Dean to tell him no?

Chapter Text

After his talks with Benny and Sammy, Dean gave the dates a rest.

It wasn’t fair to his dates to be stringing them along the way he had been, not when it was apparently blindingly obvious that he was in love with his best friend. He figured he should just… take some time to himself, maybe see if some distance from romance as a whole was what he needed to get over Cas. They still hung out pretty regularly, of course, but the weekly first dates at Angel Radio were gone, and he’d spent several evenings at Benny’s when Cas wasn’t around.

 

***

 

“I ended up swapping shifts with Anna tonight, Dean, do you wanna come over later?”

Dean grimaced, apologetic.

“Sorry, Cas, I had plans with Benny because I figured you’d be working. You can come along if you like?”

“Don’t worry about it, I wouldn’t wanna get in your way. I hope you have a fun night with Benny!”

 

***

 

“You and Benny have been hanging out a lot lately,” Cas commented.

“Yeah, he’s a cool dude.”

“So… things are getting… serious then?”

Dean frowned, confused.

“What do you mean?”

Chapter Text

It was obvious that they needed a different plan of attack. Jack had tried calling Cas to him, annoyed that he hadn’t thought to somehow prevent the angel from leaving that first time, but at least Dean now had visual confirmation that he was out. That he was safe.

It wasn’t that he hadn’t trusted what Bobby and Jack were telling him, but being told something and seeing it for yourself were very different things.

Jack had tried calling Cas back a couple of times, but he wouldn’t come. He obviously knew Dean would be there, and wasn’t ready to face him yet. Which was fine! Dean understood how hard it must’ve been for Cas to tell him everything, and his speech and sacrifice were both probably more recent to Cas than they were to Dean due to time fuckery.

But the avoidance and perceived rejection still stung.

Chapter Text

Deans first tactic to try and get Cas to talk to him was just… wandering through Heaven.

It was strange, taking in its new form. Looking around and knowing that he wasn’t just reliving memories, that the borders that had kept it so segregated and rigid had been torn down. It seemed like it allowed for a better afterlife, which had obviously been the goal, but Dean still didn’t think he was ready for eternal peace. The sooner Dean got through to Cas, the sooner Jack would be able to send him back to Earth with the angel in tow.

He saw a variety of faces, ranging from the intensely and painfully familiar to complete strangers. He got a lot of nods and waves, but no one approached him.

It was incredibly clear he was a man on a mission, and time was no concern for anyone up here.

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It had gotten to a point where things stopped being mildly funny and instead just felt frustrating. They hadn’t fought as hard as they did to be where they were for a bunch of randos to constantly misinterpret their relationship, okay? Dean loved Cas, was proud to love Cas, and didn’t want to be dealing with this sorta shit the same way for the rest of his life.

So really, it was no surprise that he reacted to next incident the way he did. It wasn’t like he’d done anything he hadn’t been planning to already— Instead it had just. Moved up his plans a little bit.

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There was something satisfying about the bone-deep tiredness that seeped into Dean’s veins on occasion. Something about feeling exhaustion cloud his mind and knowing that it was well earned, something about laying his weary head to rest on his pillow next to Cas and slipping away knowing he was safe and loved.

Dean often struggled to rest easy. It was understandable, given the trauma he’d repeatedly subjected himself to, but knowing something was normal didn’t make it any less frustrating. He had nightmares, still, even if they’d lessened in intensity, and noises outside would snap him awake in an instant. 

When he got tired enough, that happened less, as if his body knew he needed the extra hours. The next morning, without fail, he’d wake to the sun shining outside and Cas’ body curled around his own and feeling more well-rested than he’d ever imagined he would be, back when he first started hunting on his own.

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Something about rain was peaceful, especially at night. The consistent sound of rain drumming against the roof had a quieting effect on his brain, as if it was crowding all the negative thoughts out and washing away his sins.

Storms meant danger, of course, especially to someone who had lived as nomadic a life as he had— for a long time there had been no guarantee he’d have somewhere safe to hole up and ride out the weather.

But nowadays it was an almost comfortable sort of danger, one he knew he’d survive no matter how out of his control its progression may be, and that sort of danger was a friggin’ godsend when compared to all the other types he’d had to cope with through the years.

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Unsurprisingly, simply wandering around didn’t get him very far.

He didn’t know where Cas had gone, but it wouldn’t be somewhere Dean could easily find him. That would defeat the point, and Cas was nothing if not determined.

So instead, Dean settled himself down on the hood of Baby (or, at least, the heaven version of her, and wasn’t that somethin’), closed his eyes, and prayed for the first time in about two years.

When Cas had first di— first been taken, Dean had prayed consistently. Constantly. Obsessively, even, according to Sam. He didn’t know if it would do anything, didn’t know if the words could reach Cas in the Empty, but he did it anyway. It had been a cold comfort, but it had been all he had.

Somewhere along the line, once he’d given up hope on there being any way for them to reach Cas, he’d stopped. Praying had become uncomfortable, and although he’d send a fond thought in Jack’s direction every now and then, it hadn’t really felt like a prayer.

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Given Cas had hidden himself away up here, it was probably safe to assume that none of Dean’s prayers had made it to him in the Empty, which was both unsurprising and upsetting in turn. And it should be easy to pray to him again, especially considering how often he’d done so in the past, but knowing that Cas would definitely hear his words and that they might be his only way of convincing the angel to come back to him was a hell of a paralysing agent.

‘Heyyy Castiel who thou art in Heaven… I, uh, know you don’t wanna see me right now, or hear from me, but I’ve gotta few things I need to say.’

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Come Halloween, their house looked properly decked out in the many, many decorations Dean had acquired for them. The Home-Depot skeleton that Dean had paid through the nose for on eBay had been affectionately named Jeremy, and was now looming ominously over their front path. Dean was dressed — very imaginatively, if you asked him — as a lumberjack (okay, he just liked flannels), while Cas had on a bee costume that Dean couldn’t decide if was atrocious or adorable. It was potentially both, honestly.

Though maybe Cas was just adorable, and the costume was atrocious. That seemed right.

They’d set up in their living room, candy in hand and appropriately scary movie on screen, when Dean realised the really terrifying part of Cas’ costume.

“Shit, I can’t cuddle you when you have it on properly without risking popping it!”

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Eventually, of course, their absence from the reception was noticed. Dean had expected it, of course, but he’d lost track of how much time had passed while he and Cas were talking. The gentle peace that had enveloped them in the garden was broken with a very exasperated sounding “Dean”.

“Heyyyy Sammy! Cas, this is Sammy.”

“I know Dean, we have met.”

Dean grinned, knocking their elbows together gently.

“Nah, you met Prince Samuel Winchester, royal stick in the mud. This is Sammy, my annoying dickhead of a younger brother."

Sam rolled his eyes, before glancing down at their joined hands and sending Dean a smirk.

“Well, I can see the two of you are getting along just fine.”

“Oh, shove it, Sammy. Are we needed back inside?”

 “Yeah, Mom just noticed you were gone. She got caught up in conversation with one of Cas’ brothers at least, so she doesn’t know how long you’ve been missing from the party for, but she’s still not happy.”

Cas looked worried at that, but Dean just sighed.

“It’s our wedding, surely we’re allowed to sneak off if we want? It’s not like we can do anything improper anymore.”

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“Dean, my head hurts,” Cas complained, squinting at him from the couch. “I thought it was because I was dehydrated but it won’t go away.”

Now was really not the time to be laughing, but a small chuckle slipped through Dean’s lips regardless. Cas just looked so disgruntled, sitting with his knees tucked to his chest — he did pretty much every time he had to deal with an annoying human attribute he’d been able to ignore as an angel, if Dean was being honest — and the sight of him pouting would never get old.

“Aw, babe, have you taken an aspirin? That tends to help the fastest for me.”

Cas’ frown deepened, even as Dean walked over to drop a kiss on his forehead before plopping down next to him.

“We don’t have any,” he grumbled, and Dean sighed, softening his voice in deference to their new proximity.

“I can go get some for you if you need it, angel. I don’t want you in pain.”

He really would, for all that he’d only just gotten home. It wasn’t Cas’ fault he had a headache, and while dragging himself back out to Baby and down to their local CVS would be annoying as hell, he’d done worse things in the name of love over the years. 

But after thinking for a moment, Cas just shook his head.

“Just— Stay here,” he decided, turning to bury his head in the junction of Dean’s neck. “I haven’t seen you all day, and I missed you. That’s more important right now.”

Dean tugged him even closer, pulling at his legs so he was sitting sideways across his lap and running a soothing hand up and down his back as the proximity loosened an invisible tension in Cas’ body.

“I missed you too, babe,” he admitted. “It seemed ridiculous given it’s not like my shifts at the garage are overly long, but I’ve gotten used to you always being around.”

Cas made a pleased noise, though it wasn’t clear if it was for Dean’s words or his actions. Either way, Dean chuckled lightly, kissing the top of his head in response.

“Yeah, love you too.”

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‘It’s been a while. Five years for me, actually, but I don’t know how time worked when you were stuck in that hellhole. Shit, I don’t even know if you were even friggin’ awake while you were in there, or if the Shadow let you sleep. But… Ignoring how things went down, ignoring the fact that there are people left on Earth that have been grieving you, that have— have cared about you since pretty much the first time you flashed those pretty blue eyes at us all is. Well. Not cool, man.

‘There’s a lot of things I’d prefer to tell you face to face, if I’m being honest. I understand if you’re not ready for that, I understand how utterly fuckin’ vulnerable you made yourself the last time we saw each other— Though, if we’re counting you seeing me and immediately running off earlier, I guess it was the second last time we saw each other. Whatever. Anyway, if you’re not ready, that’s cool. I’ll just… try my best to make you ready? God, that sounded worse than I meant it to.’

Here Dean paused to swallow harshly, words feeling stuck in his throat even if he wasn’t actually verbalising them. They felt too precious to him, too dear, to be voiced out loud when Cas wasn’t physically present to hear them.

‘Though, Cas, I’d like to think you know me well enough to know I wouldn’t be trying to see you face-to-face if I was just gonna be a dick about everything. And I know you’re scared, I know you think avoiding this all will make things easier to deal with, but angel, I just… really wanna see you again. I spent five years thinking I probably never would get to again, and now knowing that I can but you don’t want me to it feels. Extra shitty. D’you understand? You don’t have to come till you feel comfortable enough to, I don’t wanna force you to do anything you’re not ready for, just… at least hear me out for a little while?’

Dean didn’t know what he expected to happen, didn’t know if (or how) he expected Cas to acknowledge his words, but the familiar brush of wind he felt and the sudden presence on the hood next to him had not been what he expected. He kept his eyes closed, wanting to leave the ball in Cas’ court on how they would proceed, but he didn’t have to wait long.

“Hello, Dean.” 

Chapter Text

“Cas,” Dean breathed out, the word quiet as if speaking any louder would scare him off. “You— You came.”

There was a moment of silence, during which Dean still resolutely kept his eyes closed, before Castiel spoke. His words were stilted, but clear, and they landed on Dean with the same amount of weight that his gaze always had.

“Well. You did call.”

With that, Dean opened his eyes.

When he did, he was unsurprised when he found himself immediately looking in Cas’ direction. The angel being safe and whole didn’t feel quite real yet, and the brief glimpse he’d been afforded earlier hadn’t been enough. Dean wanted to drown in Cas, in his presence and his appearance and the realisation that he was close enough to touch.

He didn’t reach out, though, no matter how much he wanted to. It didn’t seem fair, not when he hadn’t laid all his cards out yet, so he’d hold back as long as needed.

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Even a year after getting Cas out of the Empty, things don’t always feel real to Dean. The months they had spent completely unsure that there was a way they could rescue him had been some of the worst in Dean’s life, the knowledge that he had been so close to having everything he ever wanted only for it to be snatched out of his grip as he found that out having absolutely destroyed him.

But, in the words of Ed Zeddmore, gay love can (and did!) pierce through the veil of death to save the day. They’d gotten Cas out, Dean had confessed his undying love for the man, and they were living the picture-perfect apple pie life together in California while Sam worked on finishing out his degree.

But there were still days where Dean woke up from nightmares where he was living a life without Cas. Points where he thought he must be in a djinn dream, because there was no way he deserved a life like this. Moments where he wondered what the fuck Cas was doing with a screw-up like him.

Cas could always tell when he started thinking that way, even without his angel mojo helping him along. He got this look in his eyes whenever Dean did, one that conveyed concern and care in equal measures, and he’d quietly do his best to convince Dean he deserved everything he had and more. It would’ve made him feel more inadequate, seeing how perfect Cas was in nearly every moment of their lives together, but that self-doubt was almost always drowned out by the sheer amount of love he felt at these times.

And besides, he behaved the exact same way when Cas was the one having issues, so maybe they were equally matched in some ways.

One thing Dean knew for certain, though, was that he was never gonna take any of this for granted. Castiel deserved the world, and Dean was gonna do his damnedest to give it to him.

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Somehow, learning about Magnus and Alec’s relationship solidifies something in Dean’s brain.

He’d felt confident in his feelings for Cas, of course, especially given the many years of repression he had under his belt. But he had moments still, where he felt tentative about it all, where the voice in the back of his head that had always cautioned him away from this exact situation was a little louder than normal.

Hearing Magnus and Alec talk about their relationship, how quickly they’d managed to figure things out (minus a few bumps along the way) and comparing it to the solid decade of pining they had under their belt had been... interesting, to say the least. Especially when Alec had explained how taboo it all was to other Shadowhunters.

It didn’t make Dean feel inadequate, exactly— he knew everyone had their own journeys to take towards figuring shit like this out, and his had just taken a little longer than most. But it did make it incredibly clear that he wanted to get that shit on lock.

 

***

 

“We should get married.”

Cas rolled onto his side to better face Dean, eyebrows furrowed.

“Now?”

Dean laughed fondly, eyes bright.

“If you want. Now, later, whenever. Just… I wanna be married. To you. And I thought I should let you know.”

“Now seems a bit impractical,” Cas mused. “We’d have to get up, I imagine, and I’m not sure I can be bothered yet.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want you to be bothered,” Dean teased. “But seriously, we should. I know people usually elope in Vegas, but I’m sure we could do it in New York just as well, minus Elvis.”

“I’m not sure I’m willing to get married by anyone else, but I guess I’ll compromise if I must.

Dean grinned before leaning in to peck Cas’ nose softly.

“Sorry, angel, but they do say marriage is all about compromise. We may as well get started early. And you haven’t given me a proper answer yet, dick.”

Cas raised his eyebrow.

“Did you actually ask me a question, Dean, or did just you offer me a suggestion? I’m finding I can’t quite recall.”

“Jackass,” Dean said fondly, before pulling back to look Cas in the eye better. “Alright. Do you, Castiel, Angel of Thursdays and whatever the fuck else, wanna marry me, human disaster Dean Winchester?”

Cas was smiling, now, broader than he had before, and he tugged Dean close once more.

“Yes, a thousand times yes,” he murmured, before connecting their lips with intent.

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Their date, perhaps unsurprisingly, goes off without a hitch. They manage to talk solidly once they both get over their nerves, similarly to their conversations after class (if with fewer time constraints), and they quickly realise that their chemistry definitely extends beyond a mutual attraction.

“Honestly, my brother gave me so much shit for our first conversation. I’d just— I noticed you last semester, and I’d been wanting to ask you out, but I knew I was way too much of a mess to actually do it. Having you come to me was the last thing I’d expected.”

Cas blushed, glancing away for a moment before meeting Dean’s eyes resolutely.

“Oh, don’t worry, my side of things is equally embarrassing. I’d… actually already finished the assignment. I do all my schoolwork as soon as I can, otherwise I fall behind.”

“…Is that why you were so awkward when I asked you about working on the assignment together??”

Chapter Text

Cas flashed him a small smile.

“Do I ever order anything else?”

“Always better safe than sorry,” Dean laughed. “Regulars have changed it up on me before.”

“Well, I suppose it would keep you on your toes, if nothing else. I’m not very adventurous, I have to admit.”

“Nothing wrong with sticking to tried and true favourites,” Dean agreed, flashing Cas a wink, only to fumble with the portafilter when a small flush rose in Castiel’s cheeks as a result.

On the one hand, it wasn’t exactly the smoothness he’d wanted to bring to this interaction.

On the other, Cas was cute as hell when he was blushing, and knowing he was the cause of that was heady.

“So,” he said after a moment or two of staring, possibly a bit louder than the situation called for. “How was your visit with your brother?”

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Still, it didn’t take long for him to adjust to the faster pace, helped by the fact that neither of them overbalanced as a result of it. He didn’t loosen his arms again, not yet, but he did risk brushing a gentle kiss along the back of Cas’ neck.

“Love you, Cas,” he murmured, and he could feel the smile that flitted across Cas’ face in response.

“I love you too,” Cas replied, “And as such I’m going to give you a choice here.”

“Oh, now you want my input? I see how it is.”

“Well, we’re getting close to the edge of the field, and I wasn’t sure if you were feeling up to turns yet.”

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“Aw, babe, who will soothe my pains then? I don’t think any of your siblings will be up for the job.”

Cas snorted, even has his wings relaxed further under Dean’s fingers.

“I’m sure you’ll survive one rough night of sleep. You’ll still have your memory foam mattress, at least.”

“Hey, don’t knock the memory foam! You’ll see first-hand just how good it is tonight, you know.”

“Any aches I experience are easily ‘mojoed’ away with my grace, you realise,” Cas said, shrugging slightly. “I don’t need expensive mattresses the same way you do.”

“Yeah, you might not need it, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want it. It’s comfortable as fuck, angel-mojo or not.”

Chapter Text

Whoever or whatever his soulmate was, they were powerful. Too powerful. The fact that a bunch of demons had taken off when Dean was revived, the fact that they still had no leads on why or how they got him out… it made him more and more convinced that there was something darker churning behind the scenes.

Hell, it’s not like Dean thought he deserved an actual soulmate anyway, was it!

 

***

 

“You know, Dean, your soulmate could’ve been the one to make a deal. We don’t know that they’re a demon.”

“Come on, Sammy, what leverage would they have with the demons that you didn’t? And it’s not like anyone who knew enough about the situation to wanna get me out would’ve done it without talking to you first. No, I’m telling you, man, something weird is happening, and I don’t think my soulmate's a good person.”

The fact that a few hours later he finds himself staring into the burned-out holes where Pamela’s eyes used to be only serves to drive that point home even further.

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Getting evidence of Azazel's misdeeds was… easier said than done. The man was tenured, as he’d oh so kindly pointed out to them, and it was likely he’d pulled off similar coercion in the past.

“We could try to get in contact with past students of his?” Cas suggested. “See if we can find anyone willing to come forwards. If enough students accuse him, surely something would happen.”

“What, you wanna put a post up on Facebook asking if he’s hit on anyone in the past? See if we’re the first people he’s threatened like this? All that would happen would be him saying it’s us trying to assuage guilt and then he’ll just take it to the board. Even if it was posted anonymously he’d know it was us, unless he’s doing this same thing with multiple pairs of students at once.”

“…And he probably isn’t, given that would make the whole scheme a lot riskier for him.”

 

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Thing is, they’ve had this ritual for years. Cas doesn’t know when it started exactly, couldn’t pinpoint the first sleepover they’d used as an excuse to talk through secrets in the dead of the night, but it had happened enough now that it was almost weirder to spend the night together and not unload something on the other.

The cover of darkness made everything seem less real, and that was what they both needed, sometimes.

In the months after he first puts a label to the swirling maelstrom that masquerades as his ender, Cas considers telling Dean on one such night. It was at a sleepover that he’d first confessed he was pan, after all, with Dean following in his footsteps and coming out as bi a year or two after, but every time he gets close to saying the words, they get stuck in his throat.

So when Dean finds a bunch of articles on genderfluidity open on his phone one morning, he doesn’t know if he should consider it a blessing or a curse.

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Because coming out before you’re ready?? It’s hell, he’s just discovered. And it’s not Dean’s fault! They’d never hidden anything from each other, never needed those sorts of boundaries in their friendship. So he hadn’t thought anything of it, when he handed his phone across for Dean to google something on after Dean had left his own in his room, just as he knows Dean thought nothing of looking through his tabs.

So when Dean made a surprised noise as he scrolled, Cas sent him a confused frown.

“What?”

“Oh, it’s nothing major,” Dean said, glancing up to meet his eyes. “You just have a lot more info about gender shit open than I was expecting. You doing a research project or something?”

And Cas knows. He knows he could agree with the lie he’s been unintentionally given, could wave it off as him looking at it for an internet friend or whatever else. Dean would drop the subject without knowing there’s anything to drop, and wouldn’t realise what was up until Cas eventually got his head out of his ass and managed to come out on his own terms.

But knowing doesn’t do shit when pretty much every other part of your brain enters panic mode. He tries to get the words of agreement out, but they stick in his throat, and he’s always been shit at lying anyway. A moment passes, though he couldn’t tell you how long it was, and Dean glances up again.

“Uh, Cas? Are you—” He starts, but he freezes as well when he registers the look of panic on Cas’ face. “Shit, do you think you’re trans?”

Cas nodded robotically, still not fully registering what was happening, before his brain snapped back into reality all at once.

“I’m— I just— I’m gonna go,” he managed, before grabbing his phone back out of Dean’s lax grip and bolting out of the open back door.

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“I… may have done something very stupid.”

Sam’s laughter crackled down the phone line, but it dried up when he realised Dean wasn’t laughing alongside him.

“Dean, you do stupid shit all the time! What’s gotten you so worried?”

“Well. Uh. You know how I‘ve been talking to you about Benny?”

“This is the guy that you went out with a couple of times but settled on being friends with?”

“Yeah, that’s him. I apparently didn’t tell Cas that we’d decided to just be friends.”

“So?”

“So he asked me today how things had been progressing, because I turned down going over to his as I already had plans.”

“…And? It’s not like it’s a hard thing to clear up, dude, especially given he was asking you about it.”

“Well. You would think that, wouldn’t you?”

“Dean, what did you do?”

“I… toldhimmeandBennywerestillgoingouttotryandmakehimjealous.”

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And if he were being completely honest, Dean was scared.

He’d had a lifetime to get used to the idea of not having a soulmate. Had accepted it as a fact of life, understanding that some people were just unlucky, that a soulmate would just mean he had one more person to worry about when off on hunts. Having a connection appear so suddenly, especially given the shitstorm that had been raining on them all year?

Well, it was a lot for him to wrap his head around.

And the hardest part of it all was he had no idea what to think about it all. Should he be factoring them into his decision making now? They were meant to be the love of his life, late-connection or no, but it was hard for him to include that extra space in his future plans when he’d never expected to need to.

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“So, first things first. Cas, for the record? Confessing your love for someone then immediately dying? Not cool, man. You’re gonna give the guy a complex. I know that it was the only way you could see to save me, and that it was part of your deal with the Empty so it was gonna happen no matter when you confessed, but… It kinda fucked me up for a long while, there.”

Cas frowned, glancing away.

“I’m sorry, Dean. I knew that telling you the way I did would be traumatising for you, but I thought it was far more important that you survive the encounter with Billie, and I do not regret my actions. I am also sorry for any discomfort my affection towards you may have caused.”

Chapter Text

“Woah, hey, Cas, you don’t gotta go apologising for everything about the confession. I ain’t done talking yet, and any ‘discomfort’ I experienced was as a result of my fucked up brain telling me I wasn’t worthy.”

“Because you thought you’d never see me again so the impact my feelings could have on our relationship going forwards would be negligible,” Cas replied, nodding as if he’d uncovered some vital truth, and Dean was left staring at him incredulously.

“Because I— What? Dude, did you think we’d never see each other again?”

Cas shrugged.

“Well, I knew there was no way you’d be able to get me out of my deal yourself, and I wasn’t certain of how your showdown with Chuck would play out. I thought it quite likely that I was on my actual deathbed when I confessed to you, and I still do not regret my actions. I didn’t think you’d get over my death immediately, of course, but I figured you’d think there was nothing you could do to save me and act accordingly.”

“What the actual fuck, Cas?

Chapter Text

A year after the vampmime hunt, Dean still wakes up from nightmares clutching his chest.

It’s not really a surprise, given that’s the most recent severely traumatic experience he’d subjected himself to, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. He didn’t have any physical aches from the wound, barely even had a scar after Jack finished healing him up, but knowing something was psychosomatic didn’t stop it from hurting like a bitch.

It had felt so final at the time. Everything had, really, especially given he knew they didn’t have many chances to pull Cas out. Jack had been helping, obviously, he’d wanted to rescue Cas just as much as they did, but the kid also had a much firmer grasp on how important maintaining certain truths of life was than Chuck had. He’d bend the rules once, but that was as far as he’d felt comfortable going.

So in a way, it had been final. Sure, Jack probably would’ve brought him back even if he hadn’t gotten Cas out, but that would’ve been their one golden ticket. They’d have had to work out some other plan to get him out, and Dean honestly doubted there had been anything else that would’ve worked.

And as much as it would’ve killed Sammy, he’s not sure he’d have wanted to stay in a world without Cas.

It amazes him, even now, that he gets to be with Castiel the way he does. Turning his head after a nightmare and seeing a familiar messy head of hair on the pillow beside him is a surefire way to calm his racing heart, and when that’s not enough he has a free pass to wake the man up for some verbal or physical reassurances.

He’d thought Cas would be grumpy the first night he did, honestly, especially given how reluctant he was to leave bed in the mornings, and in some ways he was. His voice was always grumbling, and he’d glare in the direction of their alarm clock, but all of that grouchy attitude was aimed at the world in general rather than Dean. Instead, Dean was afforded with an arm slung over his waist and tired kisses pressed into his jaw and neckline, vaguely coherent declarations of love that were intermingled with random sentences Dean figured related to Cas’ dreams.

And he was looking forward to experiencing this same treatment for many years to come.

Chapter Text

When Castiel Novak of all people showed up on Dean’s list of prospective tutees, he was surprised.

When Dean confirmed that their availabilities matched up and walked into their first session to find it was, indeed, Castiel he would be tutoring, rather than it being some weird system glitch, he was even more surprised.

“Don’t you get like, straight As in all your classes? I’d have thought you’d be more likely to be sitting on this side of the table, honestly.”

“I actually do work as a maths tutor,” Cas said, before a slightly rueful smile overtook him. “And, uh, I’m getting at least As in almost all my classes. English is… not my strong suit.”

“That’s fair, I guess, though I never get how people prefer math when it’s all so… rigid and exacting. If I didn’t have to take it I wouldn’t be.”

Chapter Text

“At least it’s easy to tell when and where you’ve gone wrong in math,” Cas pointed out. “English is just so vague.

“Tell that to my math grade,” Dean replied, rolling his eyes. “The next time I get an exam back with question marks next to whatever answers I’ve gotten painfully wrong I might genuinely cry.”

“I— question marks?”

“Hey, don’t ask me! I’m not the one who graded it. Mrs Milton doesn’t always teach things in a way that gets them into my brain.”

“At least she doesn’t just leave us to discuss things mostly on our own, like Mr Shurley. I never know what to say in those classes.”

“Man, class discussions are the best though! It’s interesting to see the different ways people interpret shit, and it helps to add layers to your essay.”

“And I’m sure that getting the chance to tell other students how wrong their arguments are is just a side consequence that means nothing to you?” Cas asked, raising his eyebrow, and Dean grinned.

“Nah, that’s why I got into tutoring.”

Chapter Text

“I—”

“Nope, you’ve said your thing, it’s my turn to speak now. Fuck, I thought I had self-worth issues. Which I definitely still do, I haven’t exactly put in the amount of time I’d need to if I wanna actually fix every fucked up thing about my brain, but still. Jesus. First things first— You thought we’d just, what, accept you were dead and leave things as they were? You didn’t think we’d try at all to rescue you?”

“…Not particularly.”

Why?”

“As I already said, Dean, I didn’t think there was a way I could be saved, and I thought you’d share that view. When you add in my confession on top of that, well.”

“Cas, I— Fuck, man, me losing my mind pretty much every other time you died wasn’t for show. You are important to me. You’ll probably always be important to me. Your feelings towards me haven’t changed that.”

“So, you—”

“Spent over a year researching potential ways to bust you out pretty much any time I had a spare thirty minutes? Yeah. Yeah Cas, I did.”

“Oh.”

Chapter Text

“Nice to know you had faith in me, though,” Dean muttered, bitterness leaking into his words, and Cas looked stricken.

“Dean— I’m—”

“No, fuck, I’m sorry,” he said, roughly scrubbing a hand over his face. “That’s not fair to you. I’m just… A lot of things are rushing through my head right now.”

Cas nodded, but he still looked guilty, and Dean desperately wished he could go back in time the few seconds it would take to stop himself from putting the expression there.

“I guess lecturing you ain’t exactly keeping to my promise about not being a dick,” he realised, huffing out a laugh. “Sorry about that.”

“I think some level of dickishness is allowed in this situation,” Cas responded dryly, before smiling slightly. “Besides, I know you too well to expect anything less.”

“Oh, you love me really,” Dean said, rolling his eyes, before freezing when a flush rose in Cas’ cheeks. “Fuck, you really do, don’t you? I— Well, I’ve had a lot of time to process, obviously, but it’s different when you’re sitting right across from me again. You’re here, and you love me.”

“I’ve loved you for almost as long as I’ve known you, so… it’s not that different, in the end.”

“I guess not.”

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A moment of silence passed, not awkward but not entirely comfortable either. Dean had more to say, probably hadn’t even gotten through half the shit bouncing around his mind, but he couldn’t get his thoughts organised enough to actually articulate any of it.

He knew what he should say next, knew that there was a certain order of importance inherent in what he hadn’t said yet, but Dean had never been particularly good at doing what he should be. And something about telling Cas everything, making himself as vulnerable as the angel had in order to save Dean five years ago?

It terrified him.

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Cas paused for a moment, a flash of surprise crossing his face, before smiling warmly.

“It was surprisingly non-stressful,” he replied. “He had his on-again, off-again girlfriend over at the same time I was, so he was behaving slightly better than he usually would.”

“Relationships like that tend to be bad news, but I guess they’ve gotta have some good points, and I imagine that part is a relief.”

“I give it three months before he invites me over to drown his sorrows in alcohol again, to tell you the truth. He told me last time they split that he was done with the relationship, but that lasted about as long as I expected it to.”

“Well,” Dean said, raising a mug with a wink, “At least you know a great place to get a pick-me-up the morning after he does.”

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As he tried to collect his thoughts, however, he felt Cas starting to tense beside him once more.

“Dean,” he started, “If you are trying to work out a way to politely turn me down, you don’t need to worry. As I said at the time, I do not need nor anticipate reciprocation. I am happy simply being in your life in any capacity you wish me to be.”

“The happiness is in being. Yeah, Cas, I— I remember.” Here he paused for a second, breath held still in his lungs, before exhaling it all in a big gust of air. “God, you’d think that after five years of ruminating on everything I wished I could’ve told you before you died, I’d have worked how to actually say it all, wouldn’t you? But no, all my regrets came in waves of emotion and jumbled thoughts with no proper substance for me to fall back on right now.”

“Take as long as you need, Dean. I am happy to wait for you as long as you wish me to.”

“Thanks, Cas,” Dean said softly, before glancing away and fidgeting for a moment more. “You— You’re pretty much the most important person in my life, you know? You have been for years now.”

“I thought that the most important person in your life was Sam?”

“Now, don’t get me wrong, Sammy is definitely a very friggin’ close second. We haven’t gotten that much less codependent in the past five years. But… He’s got his own life. Him and Eileen have a good thing going, one that doesn’t leave much room for an overbearing older brother. And that’s good! It’s healthy, or whatever. But it’s made it incredibly fuckin’ clear what’s missing from my life. And when I think about the people that could help me fill that gap, I don’t think of Lisa and Ben. I don’t think about Cassie Robinson. I don’t think about the string of emotionless hookups that made up my dating life for most of my 20s and early 30s. I think of you.”

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“I’d just… prefer if he didn’t know. I don’t want to worry him.”

“Cas, he worries like that because he cares. If you hide this from him and he finds out later, you’ll just have to deal with him being pissed as well as worried, you know?”

“I know, but…” But I care for him more than he cares for me. But when he fusses over me, a part of me hopes even though I know it is hopeless. But I would rather die than cause him more stress. “But he won’t find out, as we’ll be able to solve this before he has an opportunity to.”

Sam didn’t look any more reassured, but his expression had softened, as though he was hearing the things Cas was leaving unsaid. And for all Cas knew, he was— While Sam was no longer affected by the demon blood that had run through his body for years, he at times possessed an uncanny ability to read what another person was feeling.

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Sometimes, on nights where his brain is being particularly loud and sleep feels annoyingly far, Dean will find himself sitting on his porch and looking up at the stars.

It’s a reminder, in a way, of how far they’ve come. He feels impossibly tiny when he does so, the awareness that he makes up a single grain of sand in the grand scheme of the cosmos a fact that he can’t ignore, and his prior status as an incredibly important grain of sand in Earth’s tiny place within the universe doesn’t change that fact.

He knows that most people get existential when they weigh up their relative unimportance compared to the wider universe. People are so desperate to be important, to be remembered, that they don’t consider how much that kind of pressure will crush a person. Knowing that he has total control over his life now, that he no longer has to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders, it brings Dean an incredible sense of relief.

Why be important when you could be loved? Why should he have to focus on the big picture when the small one contains the people and things that bring him the most joy? Now that Chuck is gone, now that things in Heaven are changing for the better, Dean is free to live the simple, loving, and cosmically unimportant life he’d always dreamt of. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Even though Dean typically woke at least an hour and a half before Castiel, there were some rare mornings where their routine was reversed. Dean didn’t sleep perfectly every night, after all, and once he managed to get peaceful after the more rough ones he’d usually conk out for as long as his brain felt necessary to catch up on the deficit.

At first, Cas hadn’t known how best to handle those mornings. He didn’t want to wake Dean by getting out of bed, but there was only so long you could laze in bed for, and his system was used to being softly encouraged to the kitchen by Dean shortly after waking. But soon enough he learnt how to extract himself from the warmth without waking Dean, how to stay quiet enough in the kitchen to cook breakfast and make coffee even with his admittedly subpar skills, and the grin Dean would gift him with when he finally did wake and saw the food was always worth every slightly burnt piece of bacon.

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Sam was starting to look slightly bitchy, an expression Cas recognised from living with his own siblings, so he jumped in to offer his own interpretation of the situation.

“As much as I’ve loved spending this time getting to know you, I can understand why your mother would be mad. Our marriage is designed to strengthen the ties between our kingdoms, with the wedding being the first place to do so, and that’s made more difficult when neither of the wedded parties are around to network.”

Dean sighed, squeezing Cas’ hand gently as they walked.

“I know, I just hate having to schmooze with everyone when there are better things I could be doing with my time.”

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Somehow, in the midst of all the stress that came with figuring out his and Cas’ lives post hunting, Dean doesn’t register that it’s suddenly December until he walks into their kitchen one morning to find their wall calendar helpfully flipped over to the correct month.

He doesn’t know why it’s such a surprise, given the Christmas music that had been playing absolutely everywhere and the fact that they’d celebrated Thanksgiving a week ago, but it is. The year so far had seemed both impossibly long and like it went by in no time at all, and he didn’t know how much the sheer amount of shit they’d had to get through to be standing here, safe and happy, had affected that fact on either side.

Realising how close the new year was filled him with relief, even if there were many things that had happened in this year that he wouldn’t change for the world. Him and Cas were living together in an actual suburban house, for one, and he’d finally allowed himself to learn the taste of Cas’ lips against his own, but the long period where he was sure he’d lost the angel forever was something he’d rather not dwell on. And while noticing how close this year of his life was to being over shook him more than he’d ever expected, he was looking forward to ringing in the new year with a kiss.

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Cas was staring at him, frozen in place, and Dean fell silent. He hadn’t laid everything out, obviously, hadn’t said the three magic words the angel was likely looking for, but he wasn’t sure he could. Not yet, at least. Things were still too up in the air right now, and he didn’t think he’d be able to say them until every fibre of his being was sure he wouldn’t lose Cas again any time soon.

It seemed, though, that Cas had gotten the message clear enough. His eyes were still wide, like he couldn’t quite believe what he had heard, or couldn’t trust his own interpretation of the words. Despite that, he’d leaned further into Dean’s personal space, and his posture was looser than it had been for the entirety of their conversation so far.

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For the rest of the night, at least, they’re mostly able to stay together. Mary did, indeed, give them shit for running out on their own reception, but she also looked pleased to see them getting along, which Dean was taking as a win.

She was the one who suggested they did the rounds together, actually. And Dean knew that logically, it made sense. If the marriage was supposed to strengthen the alliance between their kingdoms, then showing off the fact that they were actually getting along could only strengthen that. But there was something in her smile as she sent them off to a nearby group of nobles that said she wanted to give them more time together tonight, even if they had to stay in the ballroom.

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Unsurprisingly, nothing notable happens during the rest of the time they spend in the ballroom. They mingle, sharing reassuring smiles with each other whenever any one conversation seemed to drag on unnecessarily long.

No, things are more or less normal right up until the moment that they head back to the quarters they now share and Dean is abruptly slammed with the realisation that they’ll be expected to sleep in the same bed from now on. Judging by the awkward silence Cas is exhibiting beside him, he’s not the only one who just remembered.

“We should probably… talk boundaries, huh?”

“That… seems wise.”

Despite their agreement, the silence stretched between them. They didn’t need to consummate the marriage in any way, so sleeping beside each other wasn’t as awkward as it conceivably could be, but