Cas grumbled and rolled over.
“ Cas. ”
Cas lifted his head. “Stop poking me.”
“I have something to talk to you about,” Dean replied, although he did stop poking him.
“It can wait for ten more minutes.”
“I gotta go to the airport, we can’t sleep in.”
“ You can’t sleep in.”
Dean started poking him again.
Cas finally rolled back over to face Dean and fully opened his eyes. “What do you want?”
“I just wanna make sure you’re ready for this.”
“Dean.” Cas resisted the urge to let out a long, dramatic sigh. “We’ve been over this. I’m excited to meet Sam and Jess. You’ve said nothing but good things about them.”
“But what about the pride parade?”
“What about it?”
Dean just shook his head.
Cas was excited about the pride parade--it was only in the past few years that Galena, Illinois had gotten one, and St. Stephens was right along the route. The parishioners always gathered together to hand out rainbow-decorated bottles of water to marchers, and Cas took great pride in hanging up a rainbow flag next to the Episcopal flag in front of the church.
Last year, before he and Dean had gotten together, Dean had come to help hand out water bottles at the pride parade and had only sheepishly taken a tiny rainbow flag to wave around after someone offered it to him. This year, Cas had found a little pin with the bisexual flag on it and given it to Dean on the first of June.
(He was fairly certain Dean had cried.)
“Dean,” Cas tried again, “What about it?”
“I just...there’s not gonna be time for you to meet them before it. You’re gonna meet them for the first time at the parade. Doesn’t that...seem like a lot?”
“Dean, are your brother and sister-in-law homophobic?”
“So then it’s not going to be a problem.” Cas sat up--unfortunately, he was now fully awake, and he was quite tired after he and Dean had spent the night--
Well, that was his business.
“I don’t think you get it,” Dean said.
“Then explain it to me.” Cas stretched. Dean had spent the night at the parsonage, and Cas liked waking up next to him...normally. When Dean wasn’t agitated.
“Cas, no one I’ve dated has ever met my family before.”
“Really?” Cas asked.
Cas pondered that for a moment. He didn’t really speak to his family much--his parents, while not outright rude, hadn’t exactly taken it well when their youngest son revealed that he was converting from Catholicism to being Episcopalian. They also hadn’t been impressed by the further revelation that he was gay.
And then there were Cas’s brothers, Michael and Gabriel, and his sister, Anna, scattered across the country. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d gotten together for a holiday. He did see them on Facebook sometimes, though, and that was nice.
“I just really want them to like you,” Dean added. “Aren’t you worried?”
Cas shrugged. “I’ve been more excited about just getting to meet them. And the parade.”
“Right.” Dean sighed and sat up, too, leaning his head against Cas’s shoulder. “It’ll all be fine, right?”
Cas squeezed one of Dean’s hands. “Absolutely.”
They eventually made it out of bed, even if Cas, who didn’t have to go to the airport, had to be coaxed out with extra kisses. Breakfast was a quick affair (oatmeal with brown sugar), and then Dean had to rush out to drive the couple of hours to pick Sam and Jess up. He left Cas with a kiss and a promise to be on time to the parade that Cas knew would be broken.
Cas’s morning wasn’t going to be spent in a car--instead, he was busy at St. Stephens’, helping get all the ducks in a row for the parade. The church’s LGBTQ+ ministry had done a great job of getting the rainbow water bottles ready, and Cas had his favorite stole, which was handwoven in a rainbow stripe pattern, laid out next to his clerical collar, all ready for the parade.
Growing up, there had often been a cloak of shame around being queer, and Cas had definitely been affected by it. For many years, he had been lonely and unmoored until he had discovered that people who loved both God and their queer brethren existed.
Now he was beyond happy to help cultivate some of that community himself.
The hours before the parade actually passed quickly, what with all the preparations. The church’s junior warden, Victor, had to be called to help get the flag pole down and hang the pride flag, and then Ellen nearly dropped the themed sugar cookies she made down the steps and they all had to stage a cookie rescue mission.
(Cas wasn’t giving up a chance to eat some of Ellen’s cookies. They were phenomenal .)
After that, there was sorting the water bottles and flags to hand out, and then someone had the idea to dig streamers out of the vacation Bible school storage closet, and Cas found himself twisting streamers and covered in tape. By the time the parade finally started, the sun was high in the sky and Cas had rolled his sleeves up, regretting his choice of a black button-down today.
“Father Cas!” Daphne, his secretary, interrupted his thoughts by suddenly appearing with her husband and kids. As per usual, she was overdressed for the occasion, but incredibly festive--and her youngest daughter Eleanor had on a several-tiered-rainbow dress.
(Cas knew that the dress was actually a result of Eleanor’s obsession with unicorns but it was still fairly adorable.)
“Hello, Daphne,” Cas replied, adjusting his rainbow stole. “How are you?”
“Warm,” she replied, laughing. “The marchers are lucky to have your water!”
“The water bottles were actually Ellen’s idea, and Max helped the LGBTQ+ ministry get it done,” Cas replied. “I’m just the ringleader of this circus.”
Daphne laughed again before tugging her family along to talk to other parishioners.
He spent the rest of the half an hour before Dean finally made an appearance handing out water bottles to marchers from their rapidly-emptying coolers and talking to Ellen’s daughter, Jo, who was in town for the week but Cas had somehow never met before. They were in the middle of a discussion about the merits of the various Star Wars movies--Cas had first watched them in seminary with some fellow soon-to-be-priests, and again over the past six months with Dean, and he had an overwhelming preference for the original trilogy--when a face that Cas recognized from family photos around Dean’s house appeared in front of him.
“Hi, Cas!” Jess, for that’s who it was, blonde curls bouncing, said over the noise of the parade. “It’s so nice to finally meet you! I’ve heard so much about you!”
Cas couldn’t help but have a warm feeling spread through his chest--apparently he was worth talking about in Dean’s eyes, which wasn’t wholly surprising, but it still felt good.
Sam appeared next to Jess and pumped Cas’s hand in a vigorous handshake, and despite Dean telling him that Sam was tall, Cas wasn’t prepared for how tall. Cas imagined being in a courtroom with Sam as the lawyer--if Sam wasn’t on his side, he’d probably be a little spooked.
“What can we do to help, Cas?” Dean asked, sidling up to him with three rainbow flags, two of which he handed to Sam and Jess. He slung an arm around Cas.
(Cas noted with a small smile that the bisexual flag pin he had given Dean was pinned to the front of Dean’s jacket. He noted with annoyance that Dean was wearing a jacket in June .)
“We’re almost out of water bottles,” Cas said. “The parade’s even bigger than usual this year. But we still have flags, unless you took them all.”
“Ouch!” Dean said. “Okay, we’ll do our best to be helpful.”
“You can also just watch,” Cas offered. “Enjoy yourselves. It’s supposed to be a celebration, and Ellen made cookies.”
“Her cookies are to die for,” Dean added.
“By the way,” Cas said, “Dean, this is Jo, Ellen’s daughter.”
“Oh, I’ve heard all about Dean Winchester,” Jo said. “Apparently a lot of people at St. Stephens are big fans of you.”
“Cas included,” Dean quipped, squeezing Cas’s shoulder.
By the time the parade finally ended, Cas was exhausted and left with a bit of a mess to clean up in front of St. Stephen’s. Luckily, many parishioners stayed behind to help, along with some random parade-goers in various states of undress and rainbow garb.
And, of course, Dean, Sam, and Jess.
Cas was relieved to have help, but he was nervous about dinner--Dean was going to take Sam and Jess to his house to drop off their luggage, and then it was back to Cas’s house to eat. According to Sam as they had chatted during the parade, the airplane food had been “palatable at best.”
(Not that Cas was stressed about the eating part of dinner. They were having spaghetti, and he and Dean had made the sauce last night. It was extra flavorful because it had simmered longer than the recipe required owing to the fact that Dean and Cas had been--well. That wasn’t exactly a story for polite company.)
Cas barely had a few minutes to rest before he heard the familiar rumble of the Impala’s engine pulling up into his driveway behind his Continental, and then the parsonage’s kitchen was much more crowded than usual.
Conversation flowed well--Sam and Jess were, as promised, incredibly nice and easy to talk to. Apparently they had a daughter, Mary (named after Dean and Sam’s mother) who was staying with Jess’s parents in California while they were visiting Dean.
“I was nervous about taking her on a plane,” Jess said, “Since she’s only a few months old.”
Cas nodded along like he understood babies.
(He liked the idea of babies quite a lot, he had just never personally interacted with many.)
Sam turned to Cas. “And what about your family, Cas?” Sam asked. “What are they up to?”
“Uh…” Cas tried to stall. Unlike Dean, who talked about his family constantly (and regularly visited his mother’s grave, God rest her soul), he didn’t keep up with them. “Well...my parents are...retired?” That sounded right. “And my brothers...Michael just had his second child. He’s a doctor. Neurosurgeon, I think. Gabriel’s in…” Now Cas laughed. “Gabriel’s the wild child. Last time we spoke, he was in Los Angeles, as a part time actor and part time barista.”
“Got any sisters?”
“Oh, yes. Anna. She’s a writer. Lives in a cabin. Apparently she has a large social media presence?” Cas shrugged. “We’re...spread out. We don’t talk much.”
“I see,” Sam said, and then he turned the conversation to some book he had read, piqued by the fact that Anna was a writer, and Cas allowed himself to sink into his chair.
Dinner was a success, even if talk of his family made Cas’s stomach turn. For the most part, he tried not to think about them--about all the missed Thanksgivings and Christmasses and birthdays, the fact that no one had come to his graduation from seminary with his masters in divinity, that none of them had likely ever looked up Galena, Illinois on a map.
And that none of them knew about Dean.
Dean shooed Cas out onto the porch--”You’re lettin’ us eat here, might as well be helpful”--and Jess stayed inside with him to do the dishes, so it was just Cas and Sam, leaning against the porch railing as the stars began to emerge in the sky.
“I’m really glad Dean met you,” Sam finally said, taking a sip of the remnants of his beer.
“Oh?” Cas replied.
“I mean, I’ve never seen him this happy.” Sam stared out into the darkness. “And I never expected that my brother would voluntarily go to a pride parade, let alone take me.” He took another gulp of beer. “Don’t get me wrong--I’m glad he went today. It was a lot of fun. But even a few years ago…”
“He wouldn’t have?”
Sam shook his head. “Nope. Our dad...well, he wasn’t always great about stuff like this. When he found out that Dean was into more than just women…" Sam lets out a bitter laugh. "There’s a reason we don’t talk about Dad much.”
“I see.” Cas wondered if he could relate, in a way. He and Dean had talked about their parents, in whispers at night, intimate and quiet moments. Dean loved his mom and missed her desperately now that her time on earth was through-- part of the reason I started coming to church again, Dean had said, Mom loved it. But he had only mentioned his dad briefly and angrily. Cas’s parents were something else--startlingly indifferent to the point of apathy.
“I mean it, though,” Sam continued. “Dean’s just...there’s been a big change in his general mood since the two of you started dating. He used to be angry or surly, answer my calls like I’d pissed him off just by wanting to chat. He’s a lot nicer on the phone now. And...he sang along to the radio on the way here.”
Cas didn’t know what to say to that.
“So, uh, I know we just met,” Sam said, “But thank you. Anyone that makes my brother happy is a great person in my eyes.”
“No,” Cas replied, “Thank you.” Thank you for sharing him with me.
Eventually Jess and Dean were finished with the dishes and came outside to chat with Sam and Cas. Cas relished the way that Dean’s hand found his, showing affection in front of his family. If Sam’s words were anything to go by, this was a big deal, and Cas was starting to fully understand Dean’s anxieties from this morning.
Somehow it became ten in the evening, and once Sam noticed the time there was a scramble to actually leave Cas’s house so that they could go to Dean’s, which would leave Cas alone.
Which wasn’t so bad.
Cas had lived alone for years and been fine with it, and it wasn’t like Dean spent the night every night.
Just most of them these days.
Cas sighed and helped package up leftover spaghetti to send with them and make sure that they hadn’t forgotten anything. While Sam and Jess got into the Impala, Dean stayed with Cas on the front porch.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” Dean said, reaching out a hand to take one of Cas’s. “And you’re welcome to join us on our adventures.”
Cas shook his head. “I have work to do. And you see me all the time.”
Dean shrugged. “Doesn’t mean I won’t miss you.”
“ Dean .”
Dean just offered him a little smile and then pulled him into his arms, kissing him ever-so-gently, even though Sam and Jess could see.
Dean left him with one last squeeze of Cas’s hand and then a wave goodbye from the Impala. Cas knew that Dean could tell something was troubling him, but Dean was willing to let Cas tell him about it in his own time.
When the noise of the Impala’s engine had fully faded, Cas pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts. He hadn’t called any of the numbers under Milton in a long time.
Cas let his thumb slide to one of the numbers.
The phone call picked up on the second ring.
“Hey Gabriel? This is Castiel.”