Dean was in trouble.
Not the “Somebody help me, a monster’s trying to eat my face” kind of trouble. After a lifetime of hunting, that kind of trouble was pretty much just background noise.
No, Dean was in, “Somebody help me, I’m unexpectedly sharing a motel room with my best friend/the love of my life and I have no goddamn clue what to do about it” kind of trouble.
The hunt had gone without a hitch.
Which really should have been Dean’s first clue that fate was waiting just around the corner to smack him upside the head with a two-by-four.
Intel had come through from some of Eileen’s contacts about a vamp nest in a small town a few states away, and Sam, Dean, Eileen, and Cas had taken off as soon as they’d all been packed, leaving a note for Jack telling him where they’d gone in case he returned from his latest trip to heaven before they got back.
The nest had been no match for four hunters. Well, more like three hunters and one fully-powered angel.
Cas had flowed through the nest like warm honey, gliding gracefully, lethally along, taking down vampire after vampire.
It was quite possibly the sexiest thing Dean had ever seen.
A few hours of messy cleanup and one giant bonfire later, the four of them had packed their aching bodies into the Impala and headed for the nearest motel.
It was only once Sam had returned with the room keys that Dean realized his critical mistake.
He had apparently managed to agree to this hunt, pack the necessary gear, and drive the four of them all the way to Nevada with his head too full of inner turmoil about the talk he needed to have with Cas to do the math on this trip and realize that two plus two meant that he and the angel would be sharing a motel room.
Dean was in big trouble.
It was bad enough that his brain had been yelling at him twenty-four seven that he and Cas needed to sit down and have a long talk—a long, chick-flick type talk about feelings—when he had had a buffer zone as big as the humongous bunker that they all called home.
How in the hell was he supposed to deal with it while trapped with Cas in a tiny motel room?
He would just have to play it cool.
He would play it suave.
He would definitely not stay locked in the bathroom all night like a scared little kid.
Dean looked at himself in the bathroom mirror, rolled his eyes, and sighed heavily.
He had finished his shower nearly fifteen minutes ago; he really needed to get out of here before Cas started thinking he had an impacted bowel or something.
Dean gave himself a stern look in the mirror and told himself to march right out into the room and just fucking say it already.
Like ripping off a bandage.
It shouldn’t even be that big a deal; Cas had already done the hard part and told Dean how he felt. All Dean had to do was find some way to let the guy know that he felt the same.
Dean braced his hands on the sink and told himself that they were just words. Just three little words were all that stood between Dean and Cas being together after all these years. And yet, the idea of actually saying those words out loud left Dean in a cold sweat.
Dean wiped his sweaty palms down the sides of his boxers and yanked the bathroom door open.
He was drawing breath to just blurt it all out when the sight of Cas cut the legs out from under him and he lurched to a stop with a small, wounded noise in the back of his throat.
Cas was watching television.
Wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and one of Dean’s old Zeppelin T-shirts.
While reclining against the headboard.
On Dean’s bed.
Dean stood frozen for a long moment as he desperately tried to remember how to breathe.
Then Cas looked over at Dean with a warm, easy smile and Dean changed his mind; this was definitely the sexiest thing he had ever seen.
He was so screwed.
Maybe he should just give up and admit that Cas was the sexiest thing he had ever seen, no matter what he was doing, and find some way to just roll with it.
“Dean, are you alright?” Cas asked, his brow furrowing as he clicked off the TV and sat up to get a better look at him.
Dean realized that he’d probably been standing there staring at the angel for longer than was generally considered appropriate and cursed himself for being such a love-sick idiot. Again.
Some of that anger must have shown on Dean’s face because Cas’ frown deepened and he started to apologize, “Sorry, I know this is the bed you chose. I didn’t mean to invade your space—”
“NO!” Dean blurted out, accidentally shouting it way too loudly for the small room, as he raised a hand to stop Cas, who had started to stand up.
Cas froze and blinked at Dean in surprise.
Dean took a deep breath and felt his jaw clench.
Yeah, he was doing great.
“You can stay there… if you want,” Dean offered haltingly as he rubbed a hand over the back of his neck.
Good job, Dean, he thought to himself. Real smooth.
Cas sank slowly back down onto the mattress and regarded Dean warily.
“Um,” Dean stated eloquently.
He shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot for a moment, before giving into the demand of his aching muscles and sitting on the other side of his bed, pulling his legs up so he could turn and face Cas.
“Been meanin’ to talk to you about something,” Dean muttered, rubbing the back of his neck again.
Cas nodded expectantly and settled back against the headboard, seeming content to wait for Dean to put his thoughts in order.
“Been meanin’ to talk to you about what you said before the Empty… you know,” Dean said.
Cas started to protest, “Dean, you don’t have to. I know that you don’t—”
“No,” Dean interrupted again, just as firmly, though at a more reasonable volume this time. “No, I need to say this.”
Cas nodded again, biting at his lower lip as he waited for Dean to continue.
“I had a lot of time to think, while you were… gone,” Dean said to his own lap. “Hell, I must have replayed what you said at least a thousand times.”
Nausea rolled through Dean’s stomach as his brain replayed Cas’ speech, and the horror that had followed it, yet again.
“You were wrong,” Dean blurted out.
Silence filled the room and Dean winced, then cautiously looked up at Cas to find the frown back on his face once again.
He rushed to explain, “I mean, about you not being able to have what you want. About… about me not feeling the same.”
The frown disappeared from Cas’ face, his eyes darting over Dean’s face.
A glimmer of hope filled his eyes at whatever he found there. He asked breathlessly, “What… what are you trying to say, Dean?”
The shaky dregs of adrenaline that were left in Dean’s system oozed into his bloodstream, pushing his weary muscles to tighten and his hands to shake.
Home stretch, Dean thought to himself, I can do this.
“I—” Dean’s voice came out strangled and raw. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “I’m saying that I… I love you too, Cas.”
Cas gasped in a breath, tears welling in his eyes. Silence hung over the room for a momentary eternity as Dean tried not to fidget.
Then Cas let out a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob and launched himself at Dean, wrapping his arms tightly around Dean’s waist and burying his head in Dean’s neck.
Dean’s entire body sagged in relief as he gathered Cas up in his arms and pulled him in close. He let out an unsteady huff of air and turned his head to place a quick kiss on Cas’ hair, at which Cas honest-to-god giggled.
Dean snorted out a surprised laugh and maneuvered around, ducking his head so that he could see Cas’ face.
The two of them stared at each other for a long moment, that same searching, soul-piercing gaze that they had shared thousands of times over the years. The one that Dean had found so disturbing at first. The one that now felt like coming home.
Dean leaned across the few inches in between them to press his lips to Cas’ own.
No fireworks went off in Dean’s head.
He didn’t hear violins, or see stars, or any other cheesy romantic cliches.
He didn’t feel the frantic, overwhelmed rush of new puppy love.
Instead, Dean felt warm arms hold him tight, grounding his leftover nervous energy and soothing the ache in his muscles.
He felt warm lips pressed to his, a connection that seemed to pulse steadily with every bit of love and devotion the two of them had felt for each other over the past decade.
And he felt something that was undeniably Cas seep into his skin like sunshine on a cold winter’s morning, flowing down inside and twining itself around his heart. A gentle stillness that settled something deep inside Dean, and he wondered if this was what true peace felt like.
They were forced to pull apart for air after a few moments and Dean tightened his arms around Cas once more, unwilling to let him go now that they had finally found each other.
In the end, it was the easiest thing in the world for the two of them to slip under the covers, to tangle their arms and legs together until Cas wound up with his head pillowed on Dean’s chest.
Dean sleepily ran his fingers through Cas’ hair and tried to keep his eyes open, not wanting to miss a single second of their time together.
He listened to Cas’ breathing even out, the warm weight of him slowly growing heavier as he sank into sleep.
Dean was losing the fight against his own heavy eyelids when he heard Cas whisper, “Good night, Dean. I love you.”
Dean grinned wide into the darkness of the room and said, “Good night, Cas. I love you, too.”