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It’s a widely known fact that when Dean Winchester has a crush, he becomes the type of bumbling fool of which legends are made.

He’s only suffered from two crushes previously in his life, the first one being the reason why his status as the doormat of love is so widely known. Rhonda Hurley. Dean swears he still suffers from PTSD over that whole debacle in high school. It doesn’t help that this is a small town, and he really should have just stayed away from Lawrence permanently when he had the chance in college, but he loves this place, dammit, and he had been determined that a little high school humiliation wasn’t going to keep him down.

Dean had been crushing on Rhonda on and off since 9th grade, but she never really paid him much attention. Oddly enough, he was okay with that. He couldn’t really understand why she made him feel so nervous and fluttery, or why he couldn’t bring himself to try to smooth talk his way into her pants the way he could just about any other girl he wanted. Rhonda was just… different. She seemed more worldly and exotic (at least, exotic for Kansas), and she wasn’t swayed by Dean’s smirk and baby greens at all.

So when he caught a glimpse as her way-shorter-than-regulation skirt rode up along her silky, tan thighs in the cafeteria one day, and he subsequently dropped his food tray and spilled his juicebox all over himself (hello, metaphor!), he wasn’t shocked to look up and see her laughing at him. But what did surprise him was the sly wink she gave him afterwards.

What followed was almost two weeks of bliss, of making out with Rhonda behind the dumpsters outside the cafeteria, of getting to second base when she let him stick his hand up her cheerleader sweater after the Friday night football game, of not believing his luck when she invited him over to her house while her parents went to the movies.

That night was a milestone in Dean’s life for two very important reasons.

The first was Rhonda purring in his ear that it'd be such a cool idea for him to slip into a pair of her pink satin panties, and that he might kinda like it if he did.

He did.

Scratch that, he fucking loved it. And that epiphany clued him into the fact he didn’t have to force himself to fit into whatever preconceived notions people expected him to fit into. It didn’t mean anything other than he liked to wear something that was, for whatever reason, stereotypically feminine, but for the first time made him realize there was a whole other world out there.

The second reason it was an important milestone in Dean’s life was that Rhonda, unbeknownst to him, had taken a picture of him wearing said pink satin panties, and the next morning she Facebooked it for the viewing pleasure of every kid at Lawrence High.

Yeah. Fuck Rhonda Hurley. Dean still hasn’t lived that one down.

His second crush wasn’t so publicly traumatic, but it still shamed, scarred, and changed him, all the same. Dean had always thought if he were to ever get the hots for a guy, it’d be for a lumberjack-type. Gruff, masculine, authoritative, and commanding. Shrinks don’t publish a shit-ton of papers on daddy issues for nothing, after all. But Aaron Bass was none of those things.

Dean still turns red and facepalms whenever he thinks about what happened with Aaron. It was like the guy took one look at Dean across the room and read him like an open book. Dean was flirting with a couple of chicks in a bar just off campus. It was his sophomore year at college, and he’d been doing great – good grades, was friends with everyone he met, had a steady stream of casual hookups with just about any pretty girl he fancied. College was fucking fantastic. But lately, he’d been getting bored. It felt like he had an itch that he just couldn’t find a way to scratch, and it was making him distracted and frustrated. Aaron showed him what needed scratching, but didn’t do it himself.

Aaron caught Dean’s eye across the room, and from the moment Dean noticed him, he was… curious. He didn’t know why this crewcut little short-ass kept looking at him, or why he was so interested in finding out the reason. But he found himself making an excuse to get away from the chicks that kept droning on about some keg party, and walked over to ask Aaron if they’d met before. In retrospect, yeah, it sounded like a cheesy pick-up line, and maybe subconsciously it was. But when Aaron started flirting with Dean, his first reaction was to furtively look around to make sure he hadn’t been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and what the fuck was up with that?

Another piece in the puzzle of Dean Winchester’s mind suddenly slotted into place, and whoa… maybe he did kind of like guys, too.

From then on, it was almost like Rhonda Hurley all over again. Whenever Dean was around Aaron, he stuttered, he blushed, and he ran into furniture. It was a nightmare – and thankfully, a nightmare that only lasted a few weeks, because as soon as Dean got up the nerve one night to lean over and try to plant one on Aaron in the dark of a movie theater, he discovered the real reason for Aaron’s flirty ways.

His pot dealer had moved out of town, and he’d heard a rumor that Dean dealt, so when he saw Dean looking at him he thought he’d try to flirt his way into a business relationship.

Dean would have been offended if he wasn’t so embarrassed and almost impressed with Aaron’s commitment to getting high.

He never did hook up with any guys after the debacle with Aaron. It’s not that he made a conscious decision not to, it was just that you don’t get much opportunity for diversity dating in Kansas, and it’s tricky waters sometimes trying to figure out who wants to float your boat. Plus, Dean can be pretty picky when it comes to guys, unlike his taste in women (much to the dismay of his brother and pretty much anybody else who cares about him and doesn’t want to see him wasting his time on psychos and floozies).

But as for crushes, for reasons now obvious, Dean does his best in life to keep from developing them. Sure, he dates, he has flings, he’s even fallen in love once, briefly – or what felt a lot like love, anyway. But he does his best to steel his heart against the fervor of a crush, the intensity, the drawing hearts around the person’s name, and wondering if they ever think about me, and what do they think about me, and what are they doing right now, and will they smile at me, and what does that look mean, and omg they smell so good kind of feelings. And he’s done a damn good job of being a smooth operator, and a cool cat, and a ramblin’ man, and all that.

Until Doctor Castiel Novak.

****************************************************

“This place reeks of desperation,” Dean mutters, eyes wandering around the casino, which is wall-to-wall middle-aged women holding jumbo-sized fruity alcoholic drinks in one hand while their others seem welded to the handles of the slot machines they’re all parked at.

Charlie snorts. “I thought you of all people would love Vegas. It’s like mecca for hedonism and bad life choices.”

Dean pushes his way through the crowd, searching for a sign that will tell them which way to go. “Fuck you, I make excellent life choices. Which one of us actually got a veterinary doctor’s degree and which one copped out with just a vet tech degree? Huh?”

Charlie grabs his sleeve and blessedly pulls him towards a hallway and away from the main casino floor. “Uhhh, pretty sure my life choice is better. I spent way less money on my tech degree, and I have more spare time to broaden my horizons.”

“LARPing and writing fanfic isn’t what’s called broadening your horizons,” Dean quips.

“Says the jerk who got his soldiers killed at the Moondoor meet last month, and only got five kudos on his Doctor Sexy fanfic.”

“It’s not my fault people are too blind to see the love between Doctor Sexy and Nurse Delilah!” Dean seethes, because yeah, it’s possible he cares a bit too much about that damn show.

“Who are Doctor Sexy and Nurse Delilah?” a deep voice asks from behind them. A deep voice that has the annoying effect of making Dean’s knees weak and his toes curl, and the butterflies in his stomach come alive, their wings whispering a soft pit-pat of Cas-Cas-Cas and shit, did he really just think that? Seriously?

Dean turns around, willing his face not to flush pink like it always does when he sees Cas. “Um, nobody, just some characters on a show I watch. Sometimes. Not a lot though. Hardly at all. Just, uh, whenever there’s nothing else to watch, you know. And I’m uh, not busy. With other stuff.” Fuck.

Out of the corner of his eye, Dean can see Charlie standing there watching them with a big, shit-eating grin on her face. “Hey, Doctor Cas, how do you like your hotel room? Do you have a big bed to play around in?” she asks, and if Dean could strangle people with his mind, Charlie would be a dead redhead right about now.

Cas smiles at Charlie. The corners of his eyes crinkle softly, and the amusement mixed with kindness in his look makes one of the butterflies in Dean’s stomach have a heart attack and keel over from fluttering so fast. Dammit, man down. “Charlie, I’ve told you before you don’t have to call me ‘doctor’ anymore. I’ve been with the clinic for over six months now, and surely our bonding over Game of Thrones has made us friends, don’t you think?”

Ugh. The Game of Thrones situation. The maelstrom of emotions that erupted in Dean when he heard Cas and Charlie drooling over Daenerys still confuses him. On the one hand, if Cas thinks Daenerys is hot then that means he likes chicks. Of course, liking chicks doesn’t mean he doesn’t like dicks; Dean himself is a classic example of the biparty persuasion. But it could mean he doesn’t, and Dean has spent the better part of the last six months trying to discover the answer, with no luck. Cas is as confusing as stoned calculus (which, by the way, don’t ever try – ten years later, Dean’s brain is still trying to recover from that terrifying night of homework). On the other hand, Cas lusting after Daenerys means the guy’s got excellent taste, which could only help Dean’s cause, since Dean is a heck of a catch.

“Sure, I guess,” Charlie replies. “I just like calling you doctor because it gives you this air of… oh, I don’t know… commanding and authoritative presence. Don’t you think, Dean?”

Dean should have never told Charlie about that kink. The geekwitch is now dead to him.

Dean clears his throat and hands his ID and form to the woman at the registration table. “I think we should start focusing on why we’re here.”

Castiel’s eyes glance between Dean and Charlie, clearly picking up on the fact that there’s more to the story, but he doesn’t comment on it as he hands his own paperwork over.

“Thank you Doctor Winchester and Doctor Novak, and Ms. Bradbury. Here’s your IDs and lanyards for the weekend, as well as a schedule and pertinent info,” the woman spiels. “The first panel will be in the Grand Salon room three hallways over, and the topic is Treatment Protocols for Managing Feline Leukemia. Welcome to the Western Veterinary Conference of 2015!”

“Party hard or go home,” Dean retorts, shooting the woman a fake grin. He looks over his shoulder to find Cas watching him with a fond look on his face, and another butterfly in Dean’s stomach bites the dust.

****************************************************

The thing is, Dean wasn’t expecting to crush on the new vet, much like one doesn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition. The shit just happened, hitting him like a ton of bricks, blindsiding him so hard and so fast that he literally, actually, swear-to-whatever-god-that-might-exist, fell to his knees.

Or tripped, is more like it.

Doctor Cas had been working at the clinic a week, and Dean hadn’t seen much of him during that time. It was spring, the beginning of the busy season for Dean, since he was the only vet at the practice with a lot of equine experience. So he was working farm calls most of the time, and though he’d gotten a glimpse of Cas here and there after they were introduced, that was about it. Dean had thought the guy seemed okay, if a bit cold and formal. Sure, he’d noticed that the guy was hot, but he hadn’t thought much beyond that.

Then late one afternoon, Dean headed back to the clinic after a particularly messy call to the Tate farm, covered in dirt and hay, and smelling like he’d been living out of a barn for a month. All he wanted to do was drop off the paperwork and supplies from the vet call and go home to take an hour-long scalding hot shower, but as he was walking down the hallway to his office, Cas looked over from writing in a chart, his eyes sliding slowly from the tips of Dean’s dusty boots all the way up to the hay in his hair and his cowboy hat, taking in every dirty inch of him.

Dean had slowed down as he got closer to Cas, expecting a mocking joke about how gross he looked, but instead Cas had smiled, his eyes holding Dean’s gaze with warmth and approval as he murmured, “Hello, Dean.”

His voice was low and rough. If it had a color it would have been darkened honey, and if it had a taste it would have been the smokiest whiskey. And if Dean had the balls, he would have grabbed the guy, shoved him against the wall, and fucked him slowly.

Instead, he tripped over his own feet and fell to his knees, dropping everything in his hands.

It was not one of Dean’s finer moments. But to Cas’s credit, he didn’t laugh, he just kneeled down and helped Dean pick up the papers and empty syringes scattered everywhere.

From that moment on, their relationship was one of confusion, and flirting so nebulous that ninety percent of the time Dean’s not sure if it actually is flirting, at least on Cas’s part. Dean’s definitely flirting – or he thinks he is – but it’s so different with guys that maybe he’s not? Most of the time he feels like a lovesick puppy following Cas around, watching and waiting to see if Cas will flirt back. It's a lot of gentle teasing, and staring, and finding ways to brush up against each other without actually being too obvious about it, but maybe it’s just Dean doing all of that and Cas isn’t doing it on purpose at all. Dean is so discombobulated by it all that he’s had to ask Charlie to follow him around on some of his more flustered days, to make sure he doesn’t give the wrong shot to a patient or some other work fuckup. And that pisses him off, because he’s damn good at his job, and he’s letting a fucking crush mess him up just like he did with Rhonda and Aaron.

And now, after six months of Dean walking around with stars in his eyes whenever Cas is around, he’s no closer to closing the deal than he was on the day he fell at Cas’s feet.

When Dean had first heard about this vet conference in Las Vegas, he’d been torn about whether to go. Vegas meant fun – but not so much if it was work-related, and he tries to avoid vet conferences until he’s forced to go for his annual mandatory continuing education credits. But the moment he found out Cas was going, he was all about Viva Las Vegas-ing his chances with his coworker.

Then Charlie decided to tag along, and now Dean’s got her narrating all his hits and misses, and teasing him about personifying Disney characters.

“I think I’d rather skip the Leukemia panel, and maybe wait for the seminar on guinea pig specialties in a half hour,” Cas says, eyes glancing over the schedule in his hand. Dean grins as he watches him, remembering how cute Cas is when he’s handling the clinic’s resident pig, Mr. Norton. Cas looks up and catches Dean smiling at him before Dean has the chance to wipe the grin away. “What were your plans for this afternoon, Dean?” he asks, returning the smile.

“Uhhh, I um, I don—”

“—Hey Dean, didn’t you say something about a conference explaining why birds suddenly appear every time certain people are near?” Charlie interjects.

Dean can feel his face flushing pink as Cas squints at them, not for the first time trying to decipher the code that Dean and Charlie seem to speak in at times. Dean just rolls his eyes and shoves Charlie ahead of him. “I think there’s some horse panel thingy about to happen in the Pacific Room that Charlie and I need to go to. You wanna meet up for dinner?” he asks, applauding himself for asking Cas out for a meal without stuttering once, even though it was kind of implied that all three of them would be going, so not really a date.

Cas nods as he starts to walk away. “That would be nice. I’ll text you when I’m free.”

Dean watches him as he winds a route through the crowd, thinking if only it really were that easy to ask Cas out on a date, and, man, he thinks, as he notices how tight Cas’s pants are around his butt. I do like watching him walk away.

“Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by, just like me, they long to be, close—”

“Can it, Red.”

****************************************************

Dinner that evening is nice. Dean could listen to Cas get excited about new treatments for canine pancreatitis for hours. He only catches himself a couple of times staring dreamily at him, which is a vast improvement over that time they were stuck at the clinic together for lunch due to a thunderstorm. Dean came very close to puking rainbows that day as he watched Cas play with two kittens that were brought in as strays.

Cas has nice hands. And watching those hands play with tiny, furry, meowing kittens just about did Dean in for the week.

“So how were the panels you attended today?” Cas asks, taking a swig from his beer. Dean almost did a jig when Cas had ordered a beer; he’d expected him to be a wine kind of guy, or something non-alcoholic. But watching him wrap his lips around the rim of that beer bottle makes Dean want to write a letter of thanks to the makers of beer bottles everywhere.

Dammit. He’s doing the creepy-dreamy staring. What was the question again?

“Since Dean seems to be rendered spontaneously mute, I’ll answer for him,” Charlie snorts. “Our panels sucked donkey ass. So. Boring. I swear, you have to have a special talent to make a seminar on teeth cleaning even more boring than it actually is.”

Cas chuckles. “I was sorry I had to miss that one, actually. But sounds like I should be grateful instead.” He glances at Dean. “Maybe we should try to do some panels together tomorrow? I always enjoy your running commentary when you get bored.”

If Dean had ears that perked, they would be perking the fuck up right about now. “Oh yeah? Glad I could provide some amusement, especially for a guy with tastes as highbrow as yours,” Dean replies with a wink. A fucking wink, hells yeah, he’s still got it.

“Just because Cas doesn’t laugh at every single fart joke you make doesn’t mean his sense of humor is highbrow, Ace Ventura,” Charlie retorts.

“Hey, farts are funny, everyone knows this!” Dean exclaims. “They’re the universal language.”

Cas chokes as he takes a swallow of his beer. “I thought love was the universal language?” he says, between coughing and laughing.

Dean shrugs. “Hey, with love you still have to find a way to express it. Farts speak all on their own.”

Cas folds both arms across the table in front of him, leaning forward to look at Dean. His eyes are sparkling, and they’re even more blue than they were yesterday, or maybe that’s the beer talking because how is that even possible? “Touché,” he murmurs, staring a Dean with a faint smile.

Dean can’t help it. He sighs the dreamiest sigh that ever dreamed. All over a conversation about fart jokes.

Fuck my life.

****************************************************

The following day is filled with boring panel after boring panel. Between talks about feline diabetes, weight management for dogs (the tagline of Pet Obesity: A Growing Problem was the only witty thing about that hour), various homeopathic treatments for UTIs, and having to schmooze with drug reps and salespeople trying to convince them to fork over fifty grand for the latest diagnostics technology, it’s pretty much the most mind-numbing day ever.

Or it would be if Dean didn’t have Castiel by his side. Dean’s pretty sure he wouldn’t have minded an entire month of nothing but boring seminars if Cas was there with him, cozied up in the back rows, whispering stupid jokes and making adorable observations all day. The only thing keeping him planted somewhat in reality and not completely off on cloud nine is the occasional snort or guffaw from Charlie sitting to his right.

It’s gross, is what it is, and Dean knows that if he were watching someone else moon over Cas the way he’s doing, he’d be laughing his ass off at them. But he’s not someone else, he’s him, and Cas is awesome and gorgeous and hilariously adorkable, and quite possibly the most perfect man in existence. Especially when he’s whispering solemnly in a training dog’s ear like he’s doing now, over on the other side of the room. Dean watches him, not even bothering to wipe off the dopey smile he knows is plastered across his face.

“Dude, you’ve got it so bad,” Charlie mutters beside him. “You know that, right? You’re aware of how you’re acting?”

“Yeah, yeah, shut your piehole, Pippi,” Dean scoffs. “I’ve got it under control.”

Charlie barks a laugh so loud that the people sitting in front of them turn around to glare. “You’re kidding me, right? You are so far gone. I haven’t seen you act like this since high school. It’s like—”

“—Don’t say it, Charlie, don’t you fucking say it—”

“—Rhonda Hurley all over again.”

“Screw you,” Dean protests. “This is nothing like Rhonda Hurley.”

“How so?”

Dean grunts, holding out a hand to start counting on his fingers. “For one thing, Cas knows I exist, and has known this whole time. Two, he’s nice, and he hasn’t once used me to do his homework. Three, I’m pretty sure he kinda likes me too. Maybe. Four—”

“—Okay, I’ll give you those points,” she interrupts him, sighing. “And I think he likes you too, even though he seems just as much of a scaredy-cat as you are when it comes to doing anything about it.”

Dean turns in his chair to face Charlie. “Really? You think he likes me? Why, did he say something?”

“Oh my god, this is so like high school again, get the heck away from me man, I’m turning into a chick as we speak,” Charlie says, rolling her eyes.

“Dude, you are a chick, that doesn’t even make sense.”

“Yeah, but I’m not that kind of chick! Man up, Dean, this isn’t an episode of Clarissa Tells All.”

“Excuse you, it’s Clarissa Explains It All.”

“Of course it is, princess.”

Dean sighs, exasperated. “Besides, I’ve decided I’m going to go for it tonight.” He glances at Charlie out of the corner of his eye, noting the look of disbelief on her face. “Things have been getting more flirty between us the past couple days, so I’m gonna bite the bullet and make my move.”

Charlie shoots him a grin of approval. “Well, look at you, wearing your big boy panties, for once. Are they still pink?”

“Don’t you have a class on enemas to go to?”

“You must be confusing me with yourself, since you’ve got anal on the mind.”

“I fucking hate you, you know that?”

Charlie cackles so loudly that Cas glances over, a questioning look on his face. Dean just shrugs and gives him a cheeky grin, his heart beating faster when Cas returns the smile.

Ugh. He even grosses himself out, sometimes.

****************************************************

That night, all of Dean’s plans go to shit.

He was going to do a shot or two of whiskey, just to give himself some liquid courage, just enough to take the edge off and maybe keep him from turning into the bumbling, stuttering fool he usually becomes when Castiel is near. What he didn’t plan on was his nerves making him do about three shots too many, and then all the extra tequila he chugged after he saw Cas talking to Daphne.

Daphne, the drug rep that Castiel jumped up from their table to greet, hugging her and kissing her on the cheek. The woman who is probably Cas’s long-lost love, or whatthefuckever.

Upshot is that Dean’s jealousy takes command of his mood, and his confidence, and the amount of alcohol he drinks, and he swiftly becomes obnoxiously, rip-roaringly drunk. Charlie tries to head him off, telling him to cool it and drink some water with the entire distillery he seems hell-bent on consuming, but he brushes her off. “Don’t tell me whatta do,” he slurs, smiling and winking at the buxom blonde twins standing at the bar. Or maybe it’s just one woman, he’s not too sure, but either way they’re hot as fuck, and who needs Cas, anyways?

“Whatevs, it’s your shame spiral,” Charlie mutters, and Dean wants to reply with something scathing and snarky, but his brain is too fuzzy to think of anything. Fuzzy is good, though. Fuzzy means he doesn’t care so much about Cas seeming to prefer talking to some woman than hang out with him like he was supposed to.

Dean had been so excited about tonight. Cas seemed really happy about Dean asking him his plans, and amused that Dean thought there was a chance he’d be doing something else. Maybe Dean is an idiot who just imagined Cas glancing at his lips. Maybe Dean is an idiot who just imagined all the flirting that’s been going on for months. Maybe Dean is just an idiot.

Fuck. Why do crushes have to be so…crushing?

Dean feels the booth shift, and he looks to his right to see Cas sitting down next to him. Or, he thinks it’s Cas. His vision is so hazy at this point he wouldn’t be surprised if it was a mirage.

“Are you alright, Dean?” the mirage asks.

“M’just great,” Dean replies, damn proud of himself for being able to spit the words out. “No need for you to come back over here, Imma go hook up with some blonde chicks now.” He points his shot glass over towards the general direction of the bar, spilling part of his drink.

“Yeah, yeah, Casanova, I’m sure you’ll be getting it up for everyone in this bar real soon with all that alcohol in your system,” Charlie says, taking the glass out of Dean’s hand before he spills the rest of it all over them.

“I guess I’ll go find Daphne, then,” Cas says, his voice trailing off as he looks away from their table. “She invited me out with some of her associates to a club.”

“I’ll bet she did. Go get ’em, tiger,” Dean mumbles, wishing like hell that Cas would just go, because he can feel the drunk weepies about to take over. He knew better than to drink tequila, it always makes him morose.

Cas stares at him then, a mixture of confusion and sadness on his face. “Take some aspirin and drink a glass of water before you go to bed, Dean,” he says, brushing a hand across Dean’s forehead and through his hair.

Dean leans into the touch, wanting for all the world to grab Cas’s hand and never let him go. “Sure thing, doc,” he says, trying and failing to sound as cheeky as possible.

Cas frowns at him one last time before standing up and walking away.

“You’re such a dumbass,” Charlie says to Dean after Cas is gone.

Dean ignores her, watching as Cas disappears into the crowd.

Suddenly, he hates watching Cas walk away.

****************************************************

Dean has never been a fan of the morning after a drinking binge. When he was younger it was a hell of a lot easier to brush a hangover off, but as he’s gotten older it’s proportionately harder to get over the grossness of it all.

Thankfully, Charlie made sure that Dean did just as Cas had prescribed, feeding him some aspirin, a couple of crackers that she seemed to magically pull out of her purse, and a tall glass of cool water before he collapsed in his bed the night before. So this hangover is nowhere near as bad as it could have been, or should have been, given how much he drank.

Oy. You’d think he’d have learned by now not to do shots to alleviate a problem, because it never works. Dean cringes as he rolls out of bed, remembering last night. He didn’t last much longer after Cas left. He sure as hell didn’t do any random hook ups with random strangers, thank god. From what he remembers, he started a pity party, whining to Charlie about how much he likes Cas and how stupid he was for ever thinking the feelings were mutual. Charlie, to her credit, did what she could to make Dean feel better.

“I don’t care how dreamy the guy is, you need to buck up and open your eyes,” she announced. “Just because he seemed friendly with that chick doesn’t mean they’re gonna bump uglies. And even if they do, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to do the nasty with you, too.”

Dean shook his head. “I don’t want to do the nasty with Cas, Charlie.” He saw her disbelieving look, and clarified. “I mean I do, but it’s not like that. It’s, I dunno, it’s—”

“—It’s that you loooove him, right?” she teased.

“Ugh, I am living in a Disney movie,” Dean moaned, laying his head down on the table and hiding his face.

“Dude, at this point, you are the personification of every Disney princess ever.”

After that, it was a few more minutes of feeling sorry for himself before Charlie dragged his ass up to his hotel room and put him to bed. Dean hates that last night was ruined, hates that he spent hardly any time with Cas. And he especially hates it when he remembers the look of confusion and hurt that he’s pretty sure crossed Cas’s face when he sent him away. Fuck, he always finds a way to screw things up.

Dean makes short work of getting cleaned up in the shower, not bothering to shave the scruff he’s built up since yesterday because he truly can’t be fucked to do it. Thankfully, the shower makes him feel more alive, and he’s feeling even better once he gets a cup of coffee in him. As he’s pulling on his socks and shoes, he hears a buzz coming from his phone, and unlocks the screen to see a text from Charlie.

Charlie: you alive?
Dean: barely
Charlie: breakfast?
Dean: yeah, buffet?
Charlie: meet you there in 10 mins

Thank fuck for free breakfast buffets, because as soon as Dean gets a whiff of bacon he becomes ravenous. One good thing about having an iron stomach is that hangovers don’t keep him from getting his breakfast groove on, so when Charlie makes her way to his table she finds him with two plates in front of him, both piled high with food.

“Holy crap, how are you able to eat all this after last night?”

Dean grins up at her as she sits down, mouth full of pancakes and syrup. “Ain’t enough liquor in the world that can rain on my love affair with bacon, sweetheart.”

“If I wasn’t so grossed out I would be in awe of you right now,” Charlie says, a disgusted look on her face as she watches Dean shovel more food into his mouth.

“Awww, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me, Charlie,” Dean quips, making sure to give her a full view of the food in his mouth as he talks.

Before she can reply, they both notice someone walking up to the buffet table in front of them. It takes Dean a second to recognize the new arrival as Cas. He looks… nothing like the Cas he’s grown to know and… whatever. Cas is wearing ratty old jeans with holes throughout, and he’s got one hand stuck in a back pocket, fingers sticking out of a hole. He’s got on a faded, wrinkled t-shirt, tight in all the best places, and he’s… adorably barefoot. Dean’s gaze travels up Cas’s body, noticing how disheveled and messy his hair is, sticking out every which way. The look on his face is sleepy and confused and exhausted. He looks… he looks…

“Whoa,” Charlie mutters. “Somebody looks like they got well and truly fucked through the mattress last night.”

Yeah. He looks exactly like that.

To her credit, Charlie tries to cover up what she said. “I mean, uhhh, gosh, I guess Cas didn’t sleep very well last night.” She shoots Dean a furtive glance, and Dean does his best to hide how devastated he is at the realization that Cas was with someone else last night.

He shakes his head, shoots her a watery smile. “It’s cool, okay. I’ll be fine. Just, I don’t wanna talk about it. Let’s just pretend last night didn’t happen.”

And there’s the pity look that Charlie gets on her face sometimes. Dean hates that look, because best friends shouldn’t pity each other. “Sure, my lips are sealed,” she whispers, smiling as she pats his hand.

They eat in silence for the next couple of minutes, although Dean’s pretty much lost his appetite by now. He watches Cas out of the corner of his eye as the man walks around the buffet table, eyeing what’s available before finally settling on filling his plate with fruit and pouring himself a cup of coffee. He’s a fruit-for-breakfast kind of guy. That right there speaks volumes on their compatibility, Dean justifies to himself.

When Cas looks around at the other tables and finally spots Dean and Charlie, Dean’s back stiffens as he watches him head their way. He doesn’t know if he can handle hearing about what Cas got up to after leaving last night. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to stomach hearing it, even without a hangover and a stomach filled with greasy breakfast foods.

“Good morning,” Cas mutters, voice even deeper and more throaty than usual. Fuck, this is what Cas sounds like after a night of sex. Kill me now, please.

“Good morning,” Dean replies, glancing up quickly before staring down at his plate again. He wants to melt into the crazy, multi-colored carpet, pretend like he doesn’t exist because he can’t think of a way to excuse himself without looking like a complete pansy-ass. Um, excuse me, I need to leave so I can go cry into my pillow about how you never liked me. And by the way, fuck you for looking so hot this morning, that’s a real low blow, you ridiculously sexy asshole.

“So, Cas, what did you get up to after you left us last night?”

Traitor. Charlie is a traitor, and the cruelest human to ever human.

Dean tries not to look at Cas, because he sure as hell doesn’t want to see whatever look Cas gets on his face when he’s remembering a night of sex. But he can’t help it, goddammit, and yes, of course Cas's face is all puffy with sleep, and of course that just makes him ten times more adorable, and how the fuck is that even possible? How are his eyes even more blue today than they were yesterday, and why aren’t there birds flying and chirping and singing around his head?

Cas looks up from his plate of fruit, glancing first at Dean, even though he wasn’t the one who asked. “I just went back to my room and went to sleep early.”

“You what?” Dean can’t help but exclaim in disbelief. “I thought you were going to hunt down that Daphne chick and hook up!”

Cas stares at Dean, his brows all scrunched together like he doesn’t understand why Dean is so passionately shocked by his answer. “I wasn’t in the mood for going to a club,” he says, shrugging. “And I’m also not interested in Daphne, and didn’t really feel like spurning her advances last night.”

Dean stares at him, mouth wide open and speechless. Charlie glances back and forth between the two of them, before finally taking pity on Dean. “So she was coming onto you, but you’re not interested?”

Cas nods. “Yes, she’s been making overtures almost from the first moment we met years ago at college. We were taking swimming lessons together. I overheard her telling a friend after our first class that she planned to marry me. We’d barely said more than five words to each other.” Cas rolls his eyes and smirks at Charlie, before glancing quickly again at Dean. “It was… creepy.”

Charlie snorts. “Well, you coulda had us fooled yesterday. We thought for sure there was something going on.” She shoots a sideways glance at Dean, but the wheels are cranking so fast in his brain he can barely do more than grunt. Cas didn’t hook up with Daphne. Cas didn’t want to hook up with Daphne. Could that mean…

“Yes, well, now that she’s a drug rep, it can’t hurt to have a good rapport with her,” Cas says. “I can get really good discounts out of it.”

“Who knew you were such a sneaky bastard?” Charlie remarks, laughing. “So, if you didn’t have mind-blowing sex last night, how come you look like that this morning?”

Cas looks back and forth between Charlie and Dean, clearly unsure of what she’s talking about. “Like what?” His eyes lock on Dean, and he doesn’t look away, and how is Dean supposed to answer him without turning a previously undiscovered shade of red?

“Uh, well… you know,” Dean shrugs. Ah, well. Might as well bite the bullet. “You look like you had a fun roll in the hay last night, if you know what I mean.”

It’s Cas’s turn to flush pink as he looks down at his plate. “I don’t know what you mean? This is how I look every morning.”

Oh, fuck me sideways, Dean thinks. So if I was dating him, I’d get to see this every morning? There’s no way I could live through that.

“Especially when I haven’t had my coffee yet,” Cas adds. “Speaking of…” He reaches into a pocket of his jeans, pulling out a Ziploc bag full of white powder.

“Um, Cas, I’m all for extracurricular fun, but you can’t just whip it out in public like that,” Dean says, teasing.

“I wasn’t aware coffee creamer was considered extracurricular fun,” Cas replies, spooning some of the powder into his cup of coffee.

Dean watches him stir the coffee, amused. “Do you travel everywhere with your own creamer? What kind of guy does that?” He smirks, glancing over at Charlie who just rolls her eyes and leans back in her chair.

Cas takes a sip of his coffee, closing his eyes and honest to god moaning. Then he snaps the baby blues wide open. “The kind of guy who knows how to appreciate a good thing when he finds it,” he answers, staring at Dean intently over his cup.

Dean fidgets in his seat, opening and closing his mouth but not finding any words to say. Charlie watches him for a few seconds before interjecting, “Well, you boys have fun finishing up with your breakfasts and your UST. I’m off to find that smokin’ hot vet tech Dorothy I met yesterday.”

“Make sure to tap that ass three times while saying there’s no place like home, I hear that’s the only way she’ll—”

Charlie throws a spoon at Dean’s head before he can finish what he’s saying, and Dean laughs as he watches her walk away. When he turns back around, he finds Cas watching him, eyes warm and amused. Dean’s mouth goes dry when he sees the look, and he clears his throat, looking back down at the destruction of pancakes on his plate. He’s not really hungry anymore, but it’d be such a waste not to take at least a few more bites, especially while Cas is still eating. But before he can take a bite he gets a whiff of Cas’s coffee.

“Oh my god, what the hell kind of coffee creamer is that? It smells like what heaven must be like,” Dean says, breathing deep to try to get another whiff of it.

Cas smiles proudly. “And that is the reason I bring my coffee creamer with me wherever I go.” He picks his cup up, taking another deep swallow and closing his eyes to relish it. Dean watches as Cas licks the liquid from his lips, and honestly he’s not sure which he’s more jealous of, the coffee or Cas.

When Cas notices Dean watching him, he raises his eyebrows and pushes his cup across the table towards him. “Would you like to taste some of it? I’m not one of those who has a problem with people drinking from my cup, if you’re that curious.”

Dean watches as Cas licks his lips again, and before he knows what he’s doing, he says, “I’d rather taste it off you.”

Cas’s eyes go round, and Dean looks quickly away, wishing for all the world that he could kick himself so hard that he travels back in time to three minutes ago so he can stop himself from being so stupid and saying what he just said. This, this is what happens when he has a hangover. He doesn’t puke, he just spews words that should never be said.

They both sit in silence for several seconds, while Dean picks up a napkin and starts tearing it into tiny pieces, and Cas wraps his long and ridiculously attractive fingers around his coffee cup and spins it around and around.

“Um…” Cas starts, but before he can say much else, Dean interjects.

“Look, Cas, please just forget—”

“—I think that can be arranged,” Cas finishes, staring across the table at Dean with eyes that still look a little startled.

Dean watches Cas watching Dean, and he gives it a few seconds to see if Cas will say he’s just joking, or to see if Cas says he meant something else, or whatever he could think of to say that would mean that Cas didn’t mean what Dean is really starting to believe he did mean. And all the while those butterflies in his stomach are fucking like bunnies, and reproducing, and making little baby butterflies and they’re all dancing to some kind of freaking house party dance electronica music, the syncopated boomboomboom mirroring the beat and flutter of his heart, and ohmygod Cas really said that, didn’t he?

“Although I really think you’d get a more accurate representation of the vanilla caramel flavor if you drank the coffee,” Cas continues, a teasing lilt in his voice.

Dean takes one last deep breath before taking the big plunge off this cliff. “But that would defeat the purpose of getting an accurate representation of the vanilla caramel Cas flavor.”

Cas’s eyes narrow as they continue to stare at each other across the table. Dean notices as Cas reaches for his cup that his hand is shaking a bit, and it suddenly hits him that maybe Cas has been just as nervous about this as he has, all this time.

This realization gives him a boost of courage, so he reaches across the table, grabs Cas’s hand, and rubs his thumb across his palm. Cas watches as their hands entwine, and Dean can feel rather than hear it as Cas takes a deep breath and releases it, the tension that was in his stance loosening just a tiny bit.

“What would you say about us skipping this morning’s panels?” Dean asks, hoping like hell he’s not overstepping any boundaries. He knows this is probably moving things too fast, but he’s been fighting this for six months, and he’s more than ready to throw up the white flag and give in to it.

“I’d say I think that’s the best idea you’ve had since you came up with Waffle Wednesdays,” Cas responds, a deadly serious look on his face.

Dean can’t help the cat-that-got-the-cream grin he’s now sporting, and he lets go of Cas’s hand long enough to push away from the table and out of his chair, before grabbing it again and pulling him up from his seat.

They wind their way between tables and out of the buffet room without a word said between them. They hardly look at each other, except when they’re standing in front of the elevator, waiting for the doors to open, and then they both keep glancing at each other and looking away quickly. It’s fucking ridiculous, is what it is, but that’s how their relationship has always been, and Dean doesn’t see any reason why it should stop now.

Once they step into the elevator (alone, thank god) and the doors close, Cas lets go of Dean’s hand, but before Dean can protest, he’s pushed against the wall, and Cas’s mouth is on his mouth, and holy hell, it’s delicious. The kiss is chaste, but the moment Dean licks his lips to have a taste he can feel Cas hum with approval, his tongue chasing Dean’s own and turning this Disney movie adorableness into something about a thousand times filthier.

Dean wraps his arms around Cas’s waist as they kiss, his hands sliding to the waistband of his jeans and lower. He sticks a hand into that same back pocket that Cas had been playing with down at the buffet, his fingers sliding through the hole in the denim. He grabs a handful of Cas’s ass, squeezing and pulling Cas tighter against him, as he opens his legs wider to accommodate getting the man as close as fucking possible.

Cas moans, pulling back long enough to catch his breath. “If we’re not careful, we might be providing a show for anyone unfortunate enough to be waiting for the elevator right now.”

“I could not give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks at this moment,” Dean growls, leaning forward to whisper in Cas’s ear, “besides, this is Vegas, baby. I think it’s imperative that we give people a show.”

Cas chuckles as he pushes back and away from Dean, the elevator doors opening onto his floor. “Call me a romantic, but I really would rather our first time not be in an elevator in Vegas.” He grabs Dean’s hand and starts leading him down the hallway. “And please, don’t use terms of endearment on me that I’ve also heard you use on your car.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know that any pet names I use for my car are sacred, so if I use one on you, it is the highest of compliments,” Dean retorts, leaning against the wall as he watches Cas search through his wallet for his room key card.

Cas huffs, and looks up to stare at Dean with that same fondness he always gets when Dean says something particularly Dean-like, and then he lifts his hand, placing his palm gently against the side of Dean’s face. “I have wanted this almost from the moment we met, Dean Winchester,” he murmurs.

Dean is speechless from the sincerity and yearning of the moment, his heart beating so fast that he feels like he’s in the middle of running a hundred-yard dash. What the hell can someone say to that? Ditto?

Cas smiles sweetly before returning to his search. “I was beginning to think my feelings were one-sided, since you hadn’t really responded much to my efforts at flirting.”

“Hadn’t responded?” Dean is flabbergasted. “What the hell do you think I’ve been doing all this time? I’ve been flirting my ass off at you!”

Cas raises an eyebrow at Dean as he finally unlocks his door. “All that teasing and pigtail pulling? That was you flirting? With intent?”

“Chuh shuh uh hell yeah that was flirting with intent! Everything I ever said or did with you was with intent,” Dean scoffs, offended that all this time Cas didn’t even realize how hardcore he was flirting. Once again, flirting with guys is confusing as hell.

Cas pulls Dean inside the room and pushes the door closed behind him. He stares at Dean with that look he gets that makes Dean feel as if he’s Bambi standing in the middle of the road, and Cas is the headlights of an eighteen wheeler, blinding Bambi!Dean in place before mowing him down with five tons of sexual tension.

“Everything you ever said or did with me was with intent?” Cas asks, leaning forward to place a kiss on the bolt of Dean’s jaw.

Dean’s eyes flutter shut as he feels Cas’s tongue slide against the stubble of his five o’clock shadow. He takes a breath and sighs, the smell of vanilla caramel coffee and Cas doing so many things to him at once. “Um, yeah,” he’s barely able to mutter without whimpering.

Cas kisses his way to Dean’s ear, where he takes the lobe between his teeth and bites gently. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me,” he whispers in Dean’s ear, the words warm, and wet, and utterly delectable. “Now get on my bed.”

Dean laughs, the sound erupting from deep within his chest. “Gosh, you’re swell,” he says, grinning, and the stupid words make Cas laugh, which makes Dean laugh harder, and this moment is one that Dean knows he will remember for a long time, because this is who they are with each other – they’re people they can’t be with anybody else, and fuck, if this isn’t love then Dean doesn’t know and doesn’t care what is.

They fumble their way to the bed, and for the next half hour or so they make out as if they were horny teenagers waiting for a set of parents to come home, and it’s fucking awesome, because Cas kisses like his sole purpose in life is to make Dean Winchester moan. He’s never made out with someone who is that singularly focused on him, and it has him on the brink of coming in his pants almost the entire time, which would be embarrassing as hell with anyone else, but when Cas notices the brick-hard boner in Dean’s jeans he just smirks and goes right back to kissing him, the fucker. He doesn’t even hardly touch Dean’s crotch at all, other than brushing up against him occasionally, and if Dean hadn’t felt Cas’s erection against his leg, he’d be wondering if this was affecting Cas at all.

The weight of Cas on top of him is heavy, and with each shifting of their bodies to get more comfortable and closerclosercloser, Dean is noticing and appreciating the differences between making out with a man versus women. Dean can feel the strength behind each push and pull, and he revels in the softness of Cas’s scruff (he’d been sure it would be scratchy and rough, but instead it’s so silky he’s tempted to ask Cas to let it grow out longer). Instead of searching for soft, wet heat, Dean’s gasping at the urgency of the hardness he feels, Cas’s cock through their jeans.

“Dean,” Cas murmurs, mouthing at the skin along his clavicle. “I’m going to blow your fucking brains out.”

If they gave out a Nobel Peace Prize for holding back an explosive orgasm, Dean’s almost certain he’s a lock as top contender for this moment right here. “Uh… fuck, you do mean that in the sexy way, right? I mean, I’m so far gone that I’d let you blow my brains out whichever way you mean, but the sexy way is definitely better.”

Cas doesn’t reply. He just looks at Dean through dark lashes and smirks, as he starts sliding slowly down and along Dean’s body. He raises Dean’s t-shirt on the way, kissing and licking and biting a wet path until he reaches the waistband of Dean’s jeans. He meets Dean’s gaze and holds it with his own as he unbuttons and unzips him, and he doesn’t waste any time pulling Dean’s cock out.

In some of his better shower moments, Dean has fantasized this exact scenario. Cas, with skin flushed and eyes dark with lust, licking along the swollen head of Dean’s dick before swallowing him down. During those epic sessions with his hand, Dean never lasts long as he imagines Cas’s lips wrapped around his shaft, cheeks going hollow as he tries to suck Dean’s brains out through his dick. But in every single one of those fantasies, Dean lasts longer than he does right now.

Much like one never expects the Spanish Inquisition, Dean never bargained on the vibrations of Cas’s humming and moaning as he sucks on Dean’s cock like he’s trying to get to the center of a Tootsie roll pop. Dean squeezes his eyes shut tight, hands reaching and scrabbling behind his head, grasping onto the bed frame to keep from grabbing Cas’s hair and fucking into his mouth like some goddamned caveman with no self-control.

“Jesus… fuck, Cas, what the fuck are you doing to me?” Dean manages to spit out, trying and failing to picture every boner-killer he’s ever used in the past to keep from blowing his wad too soon. Everything in every molecule and atom of his body is laser-focused on what’s happening around his dick right now, the beginning and the end, the Big Bang and the Rapture, all wrapped up in the gloriously tight, wet, sweet, heat of Cas’s mouth.

Dean wants to see, he wants so much to open his eyes and watch what Cas is doing to him, but he knows that the moment he peeks open an eye the show will be over, he will lose his fucking marbles along with his wad. So he keeps his eyes shut tight, biting his lip, gripping the headboard, and enjoying the ride, until he feels Cas snake a hand up his stomach and along his chest, stopping at his mouth. When a finger skates along his lip, Dean automatically opens his mouth, greedily sucking it in, his tongue embracing it and sucking it down, mimicking the actions of Cas on his cock.

Cas moans so loudly Dean is sure everyone in the casino downstairs must have heard it, and when Dean feels him shifting, he opens his eyes to find Cas fumbling to pull his own dick out of his pants. When his cock is finally free, crown already flushed purple and wet with precome, Cas wraps one hand around himself, all while still licking and sucking Dean down like a pro. He pulls off long enough to moan “Dean… fuck, Dean,” as his hand pumps his own cock, and that’s it, that’s all she wrote, the touchdown, the grand-slam goal, and whatever other sports metaphor could possibly encapsulate how fucking incredible it feels to come down Doctor Castiel Novak’s throat.

Dean lets go of the headboard behind him, threading his fingers through Cas’s hair as he lets Dean thrust weakly into his mouth. Cas drinks down every little drop Dean gives him, and when he finally pulls off Dean’s dick, the greedy little fucker wipes what spilled down his chin and licks it off his finger. Christ, Dean almost comes all over again, watching that.

He slides a hand around the back of Cas’s neck, beckoning him to slide back up. “C’mere,” he whispers, and when Cas meets his lips with surprising hunger, Dean feels like an asshole, remembering that Cas still has yet to get off. He lets Cas’s tongue fuck his mouth with desperation for a few seconds, enjoying the mingling tastes of Cas, vanilla caramel, and himself, before pulling back to murmur, “How ’bout I return the favor?”

Cas bites along Dean’s neck, breaths rapid and wet against Dean’s skin. “I’m too close,” he whispers. “Just touch me, okay? I want to feel your hand wrapped around me.” He whimpers, moaning and hips jerking when Dean obliges. “Oh god, Dean, yes!”

Wrapping his hand around another man’s dick for the first time… it’s incredible, and nothing like what Dean had always imagined it would be. He thought it would be like touching his own dick, which is awesome, and it would be awesome if it was like that. But no – this is so much better, and Dean’s almost sorry he already blew his wad, because he would fucking love to line their cocks up, jack them both off together, their precome mixing together and making it slick, and filthy, and so fucking delicious.

Dean makes a fist, and Cas grunts his approval as he just starts going to town, fucking into Dean’s hand and writhing on top of him. His mouth hovers over Dean’s own, wicked tongue snaking out every other thrust to lick Dean’s lips, Dean’s name moaned with each breath. Dean can’t decide which he loves watching more – Cas’s dick sliding in his fist with each thrust, or Cas’s face as he comes completely undone – so he lets his gaze wander between the two. He’s so mesmerized by the need, and desperation, and lust displayed across Cas’s face that he says the first thing that pops into his head.

“Fuck, I always love watching you,” he murmurs, and Cas’s eyes go wide before his hips still, body going rigid as he comes, splashing Dean’s stomach with his seed. Cas squeezes his eyes shut, moaning when Dean works his fingers along his shaft, squeezing and wringing the aftershocks out of him. He leans his head down onto Dean’s shoulder, first biting then kissing along the meat of it, before twisting and flopping down on his side, He takes a moment to pull his shirt over his head and off, using it to wipe the come off Dean’s stomach, before throwing it onto the floor and settling back down and under Dean’s arm.

Dean pulls him in closer, and when Cas turns his head to look at him, Dean grins sleepily. “Hi,” he says, voice hoarse, and a little shy because yeah, he did just have his cock down the guy’s throat and the guy did just come all over him like a geyser, but snuggling is a whole other level of intimate, okay?

Cas levels a look at him before replying, “Hello, Dean,” with that tone of voice that is super serious and hot, and makes Dean’s toes curl every fucking time.

Dean rolls his eyes and kisses the top of Cas’s head, before pulling him closer again. “You’re ridiculous, you know that?”

“No more ridiculous than hearing Karen Carpenter songs whenever I’m around,” Cas quips, wrapping an arm around Dean’s waist.

“I’m gonna kill Charlie,” Dean grumbles, laughing. “But I can’t help it if you turn me into a Disney movie sap.”

He closes his eyes for a few moments, but when he feels Cas staring at him he opens them and returns the stare. “What?” he asks, when he sees the smirk on Cas’s face.

“Do you want to know the exact moment I first developed a crush on you?” Cas asks, and he continues when Dean nods. “I’d only been working at the clinic for about a week or two. You came in from a long day working at the Tate farm, wearing boots and a cowboy hat, and you were dirty and covered in hay, and you looked like you’d just stepped out of a scene from Brokeback Mountain. From that moment, I was lost.”

Dean throws his head back and laughs, “You mean that time I fell right in front of you and made a complete idiot of myself, all because of the way you said hello, and how damn sexy it was?”

Cas snorts, rubbing the soft scruff of his beard against Dean’s chest, and oooh yes, Dean could get used to the way that feels. “Yes, if I remember correctly, I had several thoughts about what I’d like to do with you on your knees in front of me.”

“Ha ha, yippee kay-ay, motherfucker,” Dean says, pulling Cas into another lingering kiss.

“Wrong movie,” Cas replies between kisses. “Also, wrong genre.”

They make out lazily for a while, no heat or intent to it, other than enjoying each other and maybe falling asleep together mid-kiss. Just as they both begin to doze off, inhaling each other’s exhales, Dean cracks one eye open and whispers, “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Cas smiles faintly, keeping his eyes closed as he leans forward to press one last kiss against Dean’s lips before falling asleep. “There’s my cowboy.”