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Spreading Roots

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“I don’t know why you’re so worked up,” Sam says. “You know he’ll say yes. Do you have the ring?”

“Course I have it,” Dean snaps into the phone, relaxing when he pats the small pouch against his left hip for the umpteenth time: the ring is black tungsten, laser engraved. He wasn’t going that route, but Cas’ll appreciate the sentiment. He aligns the placemat with the edge of the table, as though its position could be to blame for Dean’s erratic heart beat since Cas pinched his nose and excused himself from breakfast.

“What are you doing tonight?” Dean asks.

“Don’t worry about me. You got everything you need?”

Dean gives the bunker’s kitchen a once-over: pasta water’s near boiling, breadsticks are ready to pop in the oven. There’s a celebratory apple pie for later. Well, if the evening goes according to plan.

“Everything but the guest of honor.” Dean hooks a hand over the back of his neck, rubbing like the motion will ease his nerves.

“Where is he?”


Across the room, the pot on the stove begins to boil, and with it the electric sensation around his heart. Dean tears open a box of Great Value pasta, musing that he should’ve splurged on a name-brand for the occasion. Not like it’ll matter once it’s drowning in sauce—he got the good kind—but it’s the principle of it.

“Do you think he knows?” Sam asks.

“I dunno. He’s been quiet today. Hang on one sec.” Dean tucks his phone between his shoulder and ear to free his hands, and tips the pasta into the boiling water. He stirs before it sticks to the bottom and sides. “Has he said anything to you?”

“If he did, I wouldn’t tell you. What are you wearing?”

“Same thing I had on when you saw me,” Dean reports with a glance down his body: gray longsleeve over loose-fitting jeans and brown boots, his Saturday best.

“Go put on a clean shirt,” Sam scoffs.

“I will once dinner’s ready.” He sets down the spoon.

“And a tie.”

You wear a tie.”

“I would, if I were about to propose to my boyfriend.”

“I hate that word,” Dean mutters, shoving the breadsticks into the oven. It sounds cheap, a temporary amusement until the next distraction comes along. And “partner” is a work term; he’s not asking Cas to play FBI for life.

“Well, good news,” Sam says. “After tonight, you won’t be stuck with it much longer.”

Once the breadsticks finish baking, Dean nests pasta on two plates and dollops it artfully with sauce. He sets the breadsticks and parmesan cheese in the center of the table, on the plaid bedsheet masquerading as a table cloth. The wine glasses, shined up by a dish towel, glint beside the silverware. He digs in a drawer for a matchbook to light the tapered candles on either side of the whiskey bottle stuffed with roses, then stops fussing and goes to get Cas.

Cas is out of the shower, sprawled across the bed with damp hair and a towel around his hips. He looks up from a thick, crusty tome.

“Hello,” he murmurs, giving Dean a faint smile, but immediately returns his attention to the yellowed page. Dean shuffles in the door wondering what he did wrong, if the evening is a bust, but he comes up with nothing. Cas keeps his eyes down, so Dean steals to the closet for a shirt and tie while Cas is distracted. He chooses the purple shirt Cas likes. (“It’s aubergine,” Sam said in the thrift store, so smug that Dean would’ve bought the shirt just so he could burn it if Cas hadn’t said the color brought out Dean’s eyes.)

“You okay?” he asks once he’s dressed. He fidgets with his tie.

“Just a headache,” Cas says, rubbing his forehead to illustrate the place it hurts. “I woke up with it.”

“Why didn’t you say something? I thought you were pissed at me.”

“Why, what did you do?”

“You’re a dick,” Dean grins. “I’ll get you some Motrin. And put some clothes on. Dinner’s ready.”

Cas quirks his head and shuts the book, laying it on the nightstand, and looks at Dean properly for the first time in hours. He squints. “Why are you wearing a tie?”

“Can’t a man wear a tie in his own house? Come on, food’s getting cold.”

Cas doesn’t get up, but he scoots closer to the end of the bed and massages his temples. “Where’s Sam?”


“Oh.” Cas licks his lips. “When is he coming back?”

“He didn’t say,” Dean says, taking over rubbing Cas’s head, little circles over the throbbing veins in his temples. Cas leans forward into Dean’s hands and sighs.  

“In that case, I’d like to have sex before dinner.”

Any other day, Dean would jump at the idea, but he ruffles Cas’s hair and takes a step back. “We can do that after we eat. He’ll be gone for a while. C’mon, table’s set.”

But Cas shakes his head slowly and licks his lips again. “Orgasms can alleviate a headache.” He tugs Dean forward by the tie, drawing his mouth down. “I like this on you,” he murmurs before he kisses Dean: slow and sensuous, nipping at his lower lip. Dean groans as his resolve cracks, as Cas walks his hands up to the tie’s knot and Dean stumbles into him, bracing himself with a hand on either side of Cas’s legs.

He kisses Cas that way for a couple minutes, leaning over him, Cas’s hands coming to rest lightly on his waist. Dean gives him a final peck and pulls back, intent on heading for the door, but Cas surges up to meet his lips, teasing them open, and draws Dean back in with a firm touch on his jaw.

“Cas,” Dean protests; this part wasn’t supposed to happen until after they’d eaten pie. Cas never passes up food, but he guides Dean onto his lap with a growled “Please” and Dean goes willingly.

The wet towel is falling off Cas’s hips; Dean feels moisture wick into his jeans, but it’s worth the slight discomfort for the way Cas groans when Dean straddles his thighs, settling over Cas’s erection, and grinds down. Cas untucks the back of Dean’s shirt, sliding his palms over Dean’s bare skin. He kisses a slow path along his collarbone.

Dean trails his fingers down Cas’s chest, thrusting as much as he can in jeans, willing to take a little pain from the zipper because Cas finds his pulse and sucks a mark onto his neck. Dean’s brain whites out.

He ought to slam on the brakes before they get any further. The food’s getting cold, candles are probably dripping wax all over the table, and there’s a laser-engraved tungsten ring in his pocket.

“How’s your head?” he manages to ask.

“I want you to fuck me,” Cas rasps, shoving both hands inside Dean’s briefs to knead his ass. “I really think it will help.”

Forget the food. Dean can’t get naked fast enough. He yanks the shirt over his head and a couple buttons ping off and roll away, sad casualties of Cas’s medical emergency, but he leaves on the tie. Candles won’t burn the place down in twenty minutes and the pasta is from Walmart, anyway.

An hour after he first walked into the bedroom, Dean leads a thoroughly sated, barefoot Cas to the kitchen by his fingertips. He bites his lip while Cas takes in the half-melted candles, matching plates of gluey pasta, the sauce dried and cracked in places. The breadsticks still look edible, guaranteed cold but arranged in a basket Dean found in an upper cabinet.

“Surprise,” he proclaims, waving his hand over the spread. He moves Cas’s chair out for him, kissing his cheek as he sits down.

“Dean, I apologize,” Cas says, taking the folded napkin from beside his plate and spreading it across his lap. “I didn’t realize you’d gone to so much trouble.”

“Hey,” Dean says, stabbing a finger at him. “Nothing’s more important than your health. Couple minutes in the microwave, everything will be like new. In the meantime...” He gestures toward the bottle of wine, a twenty-seven dollar Pinot-something-or-other out of Mendocino that Sam read about online. “You want to do the honors?”

Cas eyes the fire-breathing dragon on the label with a raised eyebrow. “You don’t like wine.”

“Hey, I try new things.”

“You try new sex positions.”

“You like it.” Dean grins and carries both plates to the microwave, putting Cas’s in first. When he looks over his shoulder, Cas is turning the corkscrew over in his palm. He looks at the candles and roses and the bottle of wine. He looks at the breadsticks and down at his bare feet, touches the edge of his placemat, the tablecloth, and looks at Dean.

“I should change,” he says, touching the faded lettering on his t-shirt, curling his fingers toward his palm in embarrassment.

“Don’t you move,” Dean says, startled when the microwave beeps. He swaps out the plates and walks over to snatch the corkscrew out of Cas’s hand. It takes a minute to wrestle the cork out of the bottle, but it comes free with a pop. He pours two glasses. He takes his first sip with a preparatory wince, but it’s not terrible, smoother than the stuff Sam’s made him try in the past, and it gives him a jolt of courage. He clears his throat.

“So, uh.”

“Dean?” Cas asks, picking up his glass but not drinking. The wine sloshes against the sides, swirling around and around like the nervous sensation in Dean’s gut.

What if he can’t get the words out? What if Cas says no? What if Sam’s wrong and Cas doesn’t want Dean long-term, not when he’s only got forty-odd years left before the inevitable trip upstairs? Why expect Cas to waste that time on one guy?

If he doesn’t ask, Cas can’t say no, but they’re forever left in limbo if he doesn’t. And if by some miracle Dean is it for Cas, just as Cas is it for him, don’t they—don’t they owe it to themselves to try?

The microwave beeps a second time. Dean retrieves his plate and sits down, acutely aware of the lump in his pocket.

“Cheers,” he says, holding up his glass, waiting for Cas to do the same.

“What are we toasting?” Cas asks, widening his eyes.

“Well, uh...we’ve been together a year and haven’t killed each other yet.”

With a sigh, Cas chuckles and clinks his glass against Dean’s before taking a sip.  

They eat with their knees bumping under the small table. Cas’s hair is mussed and Dean’s pants are damp. The pasta is sticky but cooked right, sauce rich but not too much garlic—don’t want to spoil the mood. Dean eats four breadsticks to counter the wine that, first impressions aside, is going to his head as good as whiskey.

“I got a pie for later,” he announces, taking Cas’s hand when they push their plates aside. He runs his thumb over Cas’s knuckles, over the bare spot on his left hand. He swallows and licks his lips, ready to say it, when Cas interrupts.

“I didn’t get you anything. I didn’t know you wanted to celebrate.”

“I don’t care. You being here, this is enough.” Dean smiles so hard it hurts, feels his eyes go wet the longer he looks at Cas, whose expression is confused and somewhat panicked. His eyes dart back and forth between Dean’s before he turns his full body to face him and locks all four of their hands together.

“I’ll be here as long as you want me.”

“Funny you say that,” Dean starts, wiping his mouth on a napkin, and pushes back his chair. Before he can talk himself out of it, he takes a deep breath and goes down on one knee.

“Cas,” he says, squeezing his hands, grinning up at Cas like a fool. Cas’s eyes are wide with surprise and he gulps as he waits for Dean to continue. “I never thought...we spent all those years hurting one another. Turns out I can’t live without you. Don’t want to. There’s never gonna be anyone else for me. And seeing, knowing, what it’s like, what it could be like, being together—I want that for us. I want to keep doing this. Permanently.”  

He pauses for air, heart hammering in his chest, hands trembling around Cas’s hands, and waits for him to say something. Anything. Cas opens his mouth, blinking the shell-shocked look from his face. “Was there supposed to be a question in there?”

“Shit,” Dean says, laughter nearing hysteria. He presses his face against Cas’s knees, then digs in his pocket for the ring and holds it up, forcing himself to look Cas in the face. When their eyes meet, Cas’s are soft. Trusting. It’s surprisingly easy to say the next part. “I got nothing to offer but myself. I know that’s not much, but you’d make me the happiest man on the damned planet if—”

“Of course,” Cas interrupts with a kiss, framing Dean’s face in both hands.

“You didn’t let me finish,” Dean complains, but Cas kisses him hard, for a long time, and the fact that Dean didn’t technically propose is moot when Cas fishes the ring from Dean’s hand a few minutes later and slides it on.

“Will you wear one too?” he asks, turning his hand to study the ring in the light.

“If you want,” Dean says, settling back in his chair. He rubs his knees, sore from kneeling, and scoots directly in front of Cas. Puts his hands on top of Cas’s and squeezes. “I’d like to.”

Cas breaks into a huge, gummy smile. “I’ll look for one.”

“How’s your head?” Dean asks.

“It hurts,” Cas admits with a wince.

“Orgasm didn’t work?”

“It was a good distraction.”

“Do we need to try again?”

“I think so.” Cas leans over their joined hands to kiss him. “Can we call Sam first? I’d like to tell him.”

“Yeah,” Dean says, chest tight with emotion as he pulls out his phone, idly rubbing the ring on Cas’s hand while the line connects, unwilling to let go just yet.   

Sam is smiling when he picks up—the big kind, with all his teeth. Dean hears it in his greeting, the same smile he’s got on as he drops his forehead to Cas’s shoulder, beaming, when Sam asks, “ there a brother-in-law in my future?”