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Decompression Therapy

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Dean loved his job. It was something he was good at, something that helped people.

He went to college to be a psychiatrist; he had actually started with a concentration in child psychiatry, but it didn’t stick. He was still great with children and wanted a few in the future, but his work was far from kids.

He was a sex psychiatrist. Right then, his patient was lying naked between his thighs on a bed with her eyes closed. “You okay?” Dean asked and touched her face.

She stilled at the touch but soon breathed out and nodded. “I’m good.”

“Okay. I’m going to keep going.” He brought his other hand to her face and trailed them down to her chin. He waited a moment. “Okay, here we go.” He dragged his fingertips further down the woman’s neck. He brushed over her shoulders and then over her breasts. He left his finger pads there when she shivered. “Do you want me to stop? You’ve made great progress with me today.” He kept his fingers at a steady pressure. His biceps trembled in concentration.

The woman let out a breath. “I think I’m done for the day.” Her voice was low.

“Alright.” Dean lifted his fingers straight up and carefully crawled off of her. He stepped from the bed and grabbed his white fluffy robe from next to his work duffle bag. “Okay, open your eyes, Ann Marie.”

Ann Marie did. She was breathing heavy and shaking a little.

Dean picked up her teal robe and handed it to her. She really had made a lot of progress. When they had begun, she hadn’t been able to take off her clothes with a man in the room. Now, she still couldn’t see a naked man, but she could take the feeling. At first, Dean had tried to get her comfortable with seeing him before touching, but that had backfired and sent her back weeks. So, a new approach had been in order. “You did awesome.” He smiled. “You did good work. You kept your breathing even. You let me touch past your neck. You’re doing great.” He stood tall, shoulders back.

She wrapped herself in the robe. “Really?”

“Really.” He smiled again. He picked up his official notebook and wrote down her exercises for the rest of the week. “We need to schedule an office consultation with you and your husband. I still think that he should see a therapist, too.”

Ann Marie huffed. “He doesn’t agree.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Well, call my office. I’m going to see if another psychiatrist can come, a friend of mine, Charlie. She’s awesome. Gay as gay can be but does wonders on men who are too controlling.” He winked. “We’ll see what we can do.”

Laughing a little, Ann Marie nodded.

While Dean dressed in the bathroom, she stroked a check down in her kitchen. She handed it over when Dean emerged in his regular clothes and saw Dean out of her house.

---

Benny Laffite sat on the chaise lounge wringing his hands. “I just, I’m sorry. My wife said this might be a good idea. I don’t know how to do any of this.”

Nodding, Dean shifted forward on his armchair. “We’re just talking Benny. That’s all that’s happening. What’s wrong? Why did your wife suggest this?” Dean had the invoice and the emails and the consultation notes, but he needed to hear exactly what Benny thought he needed, otherwise it wouldn’t work.

“This is my, uh, third wife?” He grimaced.

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Is that a question?”

“N-no. This is my third wife. My first wife and I got married young, didn’t pan out.” He swallowed. Dean wondered if the man had swallowed Louisiana at some point; his voice was a perfect drawl. “I went into the service when we split. My second wife and I divorced because of the military; you get stationed here or there and what-not.”

Scribbling down on the notebook, Dean nodded along.

Benny shrugged. “I’m out now. I have a baby on the way. I mean, obviously I can have sex; it’s just-” He clapped his hands. “I can’t keep going very long? I dunno, brother.” He shook his head and flushed with color.

Sinking his elbows to his jean-covered knees, Dean caught Benny’s gaze. “Do you love your wife?”

Looking at him like he was crazy, Benny made a confused face. “Well, yeah.”

“Are you willing to try?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay then.” Dean sat back in the chair. He wrote a few more things down and looked up to offer an encouraging smile. “We can work with this. This week, I want you to think of something that excites you, one thing every night. Write it somewhere. It doesn’t have to be related to sex. It could be parasailing for all I care. Write it down and have it when we meet again. Can you do that?”

Benny sat up straighter. “Yeah, I can do that. So, no sex or anything?” He looked like he was praying for a certain answer. He almost looked scared of sex.

Standing up, Dean tore off the top sheet of his notebook. It was the yellow sheet; that left the pink and blue carbon copies in his notebook. “Not yet at least.”

Worrying, Benny wrung his hands again.

“Dude.” Dean fought his usual slap on the shoulder. He knew that touching a guy that was worried about touching him wouldn’t work. But, the word was familiar and demanded Benny’s attention back to him. “I can’t make any promises, but, if we do anything in that way, it will only be with you and your wife’s explicit permission. That sound doable?”

“Yeah, brother.” Offering his hand for a shake, Benny seemed to nod to himself for confidence.

Taking the proffered hand, Dean shook it once and took his leave.

---

He had lunch with Charlie. He loved lunch with Charlie. They met at a small sandwich joint.

“So, how’s life been treating you?” Charlie was done for the day. Her Wednesdays were early days since she didn’t have a full schedule. She liked having the early day though. Dean knew that she would go back to her and her girlfriend’s house and hole up in the den with her Xbox, leaving her filing and reports until Thursday morning. She took a big bite of her Turkey Club.

Removing the toothpick from his fancy-ass burger, Dean flicked it at her. “Pretty good. Trying to get Sam and Jess to come out for Thanksgiving. I don’t want to have Mom here and not have Sam here, you know?” He took a huge bite. “Oh,” realizing that he was speaking through a full mouth, he hastened to swallow, “And you and Dorothy are obviously invited.”

She laughed. “Thanks. We’ll bring over some green bean casserole and dessert.”

Motioning to her with his sandwich, Dean raised an eyebrow. “Pie.”

Rolling her eyes, Charlie licked up the tomato juice from her wrist. “Of course we’ll bring pie, but we’ll also bring something that other people will enjoy.”

“They can enjoy pie!”

“Not when you eat it all.” She poked at his stomach around the small, circular table. “I don’t understand how you can stay so thin?”

Smirking, Dean licked his lips. “Do a lot of physical activity.”

Charlie put her sandwich down. “So do I, but I still have to watch what I eat.” She rolled her eyes and picked up her pickle. She glared at it. It was a whole pickle. “Hey, this reminds me; I have a potential client, but the issues stem from fellatio. You want me to recommend them to you?” She took a bite of the pickle.

Finishing the first half of his burger, Dean shook his head. “I have a full schedule. Three each day, Thursdays I have four and Fridays I have for office stuff.” He unskewered the second half of his meal. “Have you tried Kevin?”

“This guy insists on someone with more experience.” She rolled her eyes. “I hate the suburbs.”

Dean laughed. “The money’s good, though.”

She agreed. “So, that’s a no?”

“No can do. How’s the baby hunt going?” Dean grinned. It had been a few years since he’d had his girl enter his life; he couldn’t wait for Charlie to get her same happily ever after.

Laughing, she bit her lip. “We think we’ve gotten the right agency. Now, it’s just evaluations and paperwork.”

Dean reached over and pushed on her shoulder with two fingers. “Congrats. You’re, like, conceptually pregnant.”

“No, I’m not.” She grimaced.

Shrugging, Dean returned to his food. “Sure you’re not. I gained almost 20 pounds from worrying over my tyke. If I got conceptually pregnant, then you can too.” He sent her a pointed look over his almost finished burger.

She leaned forward. “So, I can blame this extra chub on adoption?”

“Yeah.” Dean nodded and chewed. “It’s a real thing. I’ll send you the article when I get home.”

Charlie sat back. “Phew, what a relief.” She chuckled to herself. “So, how’s your little thing?”

“You’re going to have to stop calling children ‘things’. It’s not becoming of a mother-to-be.” Dean polished off his burger and started working on his fries.

Shrugging, Charlie returned her attention to her plate. “Eh, it’ll be fine. Dorothy can be the mother.”

They laughed.

---

Dean and Cole sat side-by-side on the bed. It would be a lot easier of Dean just did it himself, but Cole didn’t want Dean to give him a handjob. So, there they were. Dean was showing Cole what to do on his own dick and Cole was trying to mimic. “Dude,” Dean dropped his hand and rolled his eyes back, “this isn’t working; how about I just do it?” He lolled his head against the headboard to look at Cole.

Sitting down, Cole and Dean’s height difference was even more exaggerated. Cole’s height must have been in his legs, or Dean’s ass was fuller. Dean would take it as a compliment if it was that his ass was fuller. In fact, he’d go with that one because he needed something to make him feel a little less aggravated.

“I don’t want a man to give me a handjob.” Cole growled.

Dean huffed. “Your wife has agreed to this. You agreed to this when you signed the waivers. The best way to do this is to let me do this. This is literally my job. I am trained to do this.” He sat forward and looked at Cole straight in the face.

Angry, Cole’s face flushed deep red and his nose scrunched in disgust. “I don’t need a handjob from a glorified whore.”

Dean swallowed and stood from the bed. He was keeping his temper in check. “I think it’s time for an office visit. Call me in a week or so to schedule your appointment. We’re going to take a break for a few weeks.”

Cole stood and held out a hand. “Wait-”

“No.” Pulling on his pants and, in his hurry, leaving his shirt in his bag, Dean looked up with what he hoped was a calm face. “You have insulted me and my coworkers. If you wanted a glorified hooker, you should have looked up an escort service. My job is to help you get through your ptsd and how it affects your bedroom life. I’ve helped many people.” Dean threw his bag over his shoulder. “Think about that. We’ll pick up in the office in two weeks; if that doesn’t work out, I will recommend you someone else. Good bye, Mr. Trenton.”

Despite Cole’s protests and apologies, Dean left.

Toxicity was not part of his job description.

---

Dean pulled into the cul-de-sac and rode into the opening garage. He refused to add the remote opener to his car; his Baby was sacred. Instead, he kept it on his key ring. Breathing in and blowing out, Dean squeezed the steering wheel as hard as he could, tensing up his entire arms and shoulders, watching his knuckles go white. In an exercise he had coached many of his patients through, he blew out from deep in his gut.

He thought about releasing all of the pressure and stress of the day. He didn’t need to bring his work home; that was why he had an office. He didn’t want to take this sort of work to his personal home, his family.

Charlie was moving into his office with him once the adoption went through. She was already informing her clients.

He squeezed his eyes shut and performed the exercise again. Finally, he felt ready to head inside. He stepped from the car and pointed the garage-door-operating-fob at the opening and clicked it to close, before hopping up the cement stairs two at a time.

He pushed the door open. “I’m here.”

Pattering feet brought a smile to his face. Knowing what was coming, he knelt down onto one knee in time for his little girl to round the corner.

“Daddy!” She let her legs go limp so that she was dangling from his neck.

Dean stood, an arm cupping under her to help support. “How are you, pumpkin spice?” He shifted her to a side and kissed her cheek. Claire was one of the few things that kept him going through the day, the idea that someone was waiting for him. He hated that he had spent most of his childhood waiting weeks for his father to return, then years, then his father never returned.

His little girl would never want for that. He stretched his neck at an odd angle to kiss her other cheek, too. She giggled. “Daddy, stop. We made dinner.”

“You did?” He scoffed. “You mean you made dinner and Cas helped.”

Shaking her head, her hair shook around her head. She had a hair tie made with autumn colored tulle, Cas’ idea obviously. “Papa did most of it.”

Dean carried her into the kitchen and dining area. Cas was at the stove. When he saw them, he shook his head. “I told you that you need to stop carrying her around. She has legs; she can use them.”

Just as Dean had accidentally taught her, Claire stuck her tongue out at Cas.

Laughing, Dean set her down. “I’ll make it up to you; how about I set the table?”

“Fine.” Cas turned back to his cooking.

When Dean had first moved in, he wasn’t sure how it would all work. Living with his best friend and his best friend’s niece turned daughter, wasn’t how he had envisioned ‘finding purpose’, but he wouldn’t change it for the world. They had a thing and it worked.

Cas hadn’t been able to single father as well as he had hoped; he worked in DC, commuting almost an hour-and-a-half each way daily. It was too late for most day cares.

Realizing Cas’ obvious earlier arrival home, Dean turned with silver ware in his fists. The plates and cups were already set on the table. “What are you doing home so early? I mean, I knew you’d be picking her up and would be here, but, I was thinking we’d be having freezer food.”

Shrugging, Cas brought the pot over to the table behind Dean. He looked around for a place to set it. Realizing, Dean grabbed the hot pad and placed it in the center of the table. Cas smiled, appreciative, and placed the pot.

Claire hopped into her seat.

Pointing at her, Cas used his stern-dad voice. “Don’t touch; it’s hot.”

She nodded.

Turning to Dean, Cas shrugged. “Took a half day. I finished the big project that was due Friday, decided that I’d rather be here.” He smiled. He ladled veggies from a pot of boiling water into a dish. “How was your day?”

Pursing his lips, Dean just stared.

It was weird. They had their own language. They’d been able to speak to each other with it since middle school, but it had transferred beautifully to their weird-ass suburban life.

Dean didn’t have to tell Cas that he had a bad day and Cas didn’t have to tell Dean that he was sorry. Dean didn’t have to ask Cas for what he needed; Cas didn’t have to offer. It was all understood in that short look.

Sighing, Cas nodded. “Claire’s bed time is later now; it’s eight-thirty, not eight.”

“It’ll work.” Dean swallowed.

With that, Dean took the pitcher of water to the table and Cas picked up the bowl of veggies in one hand and the pasta in the other. They sat with their daughter and ate their dinner. Claire talked about school and daycare, how Ben and she made a castle out of blocks. After dinner, Claire helped Dean wash dishes and they watched Tangled. Dean ended up with Claire on his lap on the sectional; Cas rubbed her back. Dean enjoyed the closeness he shared with Claire.

She fell asleep at about eight-fifteen. Dean looked over to Cas, raising an eyebrow in question.

“Well, if she’s asleep, we might as well put her in bed.” Cas stopped the blu-ray and turned off the tv.

---

Once Claire was in bed, they decided on Dean’s room; it was further from Claire’s room. Completely unclothed, Dean pushed Cas onto the bed with all the rage he had held in during the day.

This is how it worked. Once upon a time, Cas had expressed to Dean that he was willing to take this whole set-up a step further. Dean had been completely honest that he didn’t think it would go further; he wasn’t really ‘relationshippy’. It made his job easier.

Cas had nodded. Dean had been worried that it would change their easy dynamic. It hadn’t, much to Dean’s happy surprise.

Dean crawled on top of Cas. He started with his hands on Cas’ face, like he had with Ann Marie. He trialed them down to Cas’ throat then scraped his blunt nails down to Cas’ collarbones, to his pecks, just as he had wanted to earlier but couldn’t.

Shivering, Cas stayed completely pliant.

His nails bit into Cas’ pecks. He breathed heavily through his mouth, he reached down with his mouth and latched onto Cas’ nipples.

They ended up in bed together pretty often. Cas didn’t seem to mind. Dean didn’t seem to mind. It put him at ease. Dean was a better therapist; Cas was less wound up all the time. It was mutually beneficial and all completely consensual.

Dean pulled his mouth away, grit his teeth, and pressed his hands flat at Cas’ chest, feeling and experiencing this the way he couldn’t earlier. He ground his hips down into Cas’; Cas didn’t reciprocate, still staying completely still.

One of Cas’ hands stroked over Dean’s calf where it was pressed into the bed next to his hip. “Whatever you need.”

Thinking to the bayous caught in Benjamin Lafitte’s throat, Dean leaned forward, onto his hands, and mouthed at Cas’ Adam’s apple. The scruff low on Cas’ neck felt so good against his lips. He made circles with his hips on Cas.

Cas’ one hand on his calf moved to Dean’s thigh, then his side. He ran his fingers across the ridges of Dean’s muscles there, ghostly in their touch. “Whatever you need.”

Thinking of Charlie’s poke to his stomach, he slid down Cas’ body and mouthed at his abs.

Since Dean had moved lower, Cas’ fingers were trailing on his shoulder.

Dean looked up at Cas, propping his chin on Cas’ stomach. “Am I getting soft?” He felt so vulnerable. It took forever, but he and Cas had been just that, a forever. They had been friends since infancy. He couldn’t be this vulnerable with anyone else. He picked up Cas’ unmoving hand and Cas offered the other. He brought them to his stomach which was covered in a thin layer of pudge. “Am I fat?”

“You’re perfect.” Cas said.

When Dean let go of his hands, they fell limp to the mattress again. He was still a doll, a tool for Dean’s use.

Moving on to Cole, Dean frowned and sat up looking at Cas’ interested dick. For a moment, he was reminded of his own hardness, but it was drowned by the need to finish what he had started earlier. He was supposed to guide Cole through a soft handjob; through thorough examination, Dean had noted that Cole did everything heated and fast. They had to slow it down for him.

Dean took Cas’ dick and started to do everything that he had planned out for earlier. He slid a hand down to his balls and used the other palm to rub over the head before sliding down the other side. He never took Cas’ dick into his fist; he only trailed over it lightly.

Having performed all of the motions once and not wanting this over yet, Dean pulled back. He wiggled back up to Cas’ face.

Despite all of their activities, Cas still looked put together. It sometimes peeved Dean, but, at times like this, he was grateful.

Dean swallowed a sudden urge. He wanted to kiss Cas. That had never happened before, the urge to or the act itself. For a moment, it worried him. He was about to call all of this off when he felt Cas’ hands trailing at his side and leg again, a comfort.

Cas watched him, completely willing. “Whatever you need.”

In that moment, Dean needed to kiss him. So, he did.

Cas’ relaxed stillness turned rigid; he tensed up and waited.

Pulling away, Dean felt sorry. He rubbed insistently at Cas’ arms until he loosened up again. He breathed in and out quickly. “I’m ready.”

Just like any other time, Cas took the words and threw away all of the placidity. He flipped them over and mouthed at Dean’s chest and stomach. He nipped and bit and licked all over Dean’s torso and legs. Dean reached for the lube and fell into the familiar movements, nothing like the unfamiliarity of the chaste, less-than-a-second peck on the lips.

---

Each time Dean decompressed, it happened; Dean’s kiss became expected. He would get through all of the motions, take in Cas’ ‘whatever you need’s. Cas became just as pliant for the new addition to their routine. It was another thing that decompressed Dean.

In the middle of the night, Dean would think about it and what it meant, if he should be worried or not.

He decided that he shouldn’t be. Kissing was very normal and very present in most people’s sex lives.

After one particularly horrible session with Naomi, a cougar who was trying to spice up her sex life safely with a kid half her age, Dean ended up with a plug in his ass and placed Cas’ hand on the base. “Hold it,” was all he muttered before rocking.

Cas nodded, still pliant and trusting in Dean’s decompression routine. He remained calm until Dean leaned forward and pressed an open-mouth kiss to his lips, encompassing them and sucking at them before pulling away.

Waiting, Cas watched with wide eyes and heavy breaths, less put together than any time before.

Dean moaned, “I’m ready.”

Just like any other time, Cas flipped them and started to participate in their sex. They didn’t have to be as quite since Claire was staying at her friend Krissy’s house for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sleepover.

Crying out, Dean held up his legs and let Cas work the plug in and out of him. He would lean forward and mouth at Dean’s hole every once in a while. It was like heaven was descending.

After what felt like forever, Cas removed the plug and plunged in, confident in the amount of lube Dean had already applied. It went like that, cries and pounding and needy noises and even a screech or two. Right when Dean was about to come, Cas’ face became to close and his lips pecked onto Dean’s before pulling back and groaning Dean’s name.

Even though he was surprised and almost completely distracted, Dean came with a shout.

There was a tense silence afterward. Dean was confused. He stood up wobbly; that wasn’t new. He excused himself to his own room for the night, just like any other night. When he got to his room and his bed, he flopped down. He wasn’t sure what was happening.

The next morning, the house was unbearably quite. Cas and Dean avoided each other and Claire wasn’t there to break the silence.

---

“You don’t understand, Charlie. I’ve never felt any of this before.” Dean bit his lip where he was helping Charlie unpack her files into her new filing cabinets. It was a Friday and neither of them had clients. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”

Charlie was frowning at a folder that was missing a label. Her organization was lacking, greatly lacking. “You broke a boundary; you kissed him. Now, he thinks that he can cross that same line. You just have to sit down and reset all the boundaries.” She flipped through the folder and didn’t look happy about what he found. In the end, she tossed it into the shred pile.

Feeling his face get hot, Dean tried to hide behind the pulled out drawer of the filing cabinet. The worst part of this new page of his life was about to be spoken; Charlie wasn’t stupid.

“Unless you don’t want to reset the boundaries.”

Silence settled for a moment.

Dean heard Charlie stand and maneuver through the stacks of papers. The open draw suddenly shut with a slam and Dean yelped and leaned away. “You almost took off my nose.” He brought a hand up to his nose.

“Are you open to the new set of boundaries between you and Cas?” Her face was spread wide in surprise and… maybe, hope?

Shrugging, Dean pulled the drawer back out and kept alphabetizing Charlie’s clients in the file slings. “I dunno, I kinda like it.” He bit his lip. “I don’t get it though; all this time, nothing, then suddenly I want something else?”

“Is it suddenly?” Charlie, having found something more entertaining that work, crossed her arms over her chest and ignored the files. “I mean, you are living with him and raising his kid.”

Dean sat back onto his heels, papers momentarily forgotten. “Yeah, it is. I didn’t see it coming, Charlie.” He shook his head.

Kneeling in front of him, Charlie took his hands. “It’s okay, you know. This kind of stuff isn’t black and white; we should know that.” She squeezed his fingers. “Maybe you’re demiromantic.” Her eyes were wide and trusting and all-around supportive.

“Why now?” Dean huffed. “Why after all this time?”

“I don’t know, Dean. No one does.” She let go of his hands and patted his thighs. “Come on, if we get done quicker, we can both get home.”

Dean was dreading home. Things had gotten so weird. They were tip-toeing around each other in a way that hadn’t even happened when Dean had first moved in. “What if I don’t want to go home?”

Charlie stalked over to the almost forgotten files; she turned and looked hard at him. “What would you say if one of your clients told you that, hmm?” She raised her eyebrows at him like a third grade math teacher waiting for a times table to be recited.

“If you don’t want to go home, then you really need to go home.” Dean resigned to himself, mostly, and continued to place the files into the drawer.

He’d have to talk with Cas.

---

After dinner, Cas let Claire and Krissy head up to Claire’s bedroom to make a pillow fort and play princess dragons. He padded back down the stairs and found Dean sitting at the table with his hands clasped ahead of him.

“What’s up?” Cas asked and pulled out the chair next to Dean, on the other edge of the square, four-person table. They had a leaf or two up in the attic that they’d have to add at Thanksgiving when Dean’s family came to visit. Cas had lost the rest of his living family other than Claire in an accident; he didn’t mind having the familial company around. He had been practically part of the family for years anyway.

In fact, Dean’s mother had already had Claire on her Christmas shopping list before Dean had officially moved in.

Dean sucked in a big breath. “I think we need to talk.” He looked up with worried eyes.

Swallowing, Cas nodded. “Of course, whatever you need.”

“Stop that!” Dean huffed firm. “Not ‘whatever you need’; sometimes I have to be privy to what you need, Cas. Like right now. What do you need?” His eyes were wide enough that he could feel the centers dry a little. He was pleading with Cas on this. Cas usually just sat back and let Dean call the shots of this sort of thing; maybe because Dean was the supposed professional with the degree, maybe because Dean was the one with more boundaries, Dean didn’t know why.

Cas shifted in his chair. “What do you mean?” He looked worried now. Dean didn’t want that.

Pushing out his chair, Dean busied his hands with making tea in the attached kitchen. He knew that Cas would want some and, even though he was more of a coffee guy, he was in a tea mood himself. “I just, what are we?”

Opening his mouth, Cas poised to speak.

Dean cut him off with the sound of two mugs coming down on the counter top heavily. “If you say, whatever I think or want us to be, so help me.” He spun around and busied himself with the Keurig.

The silence spoke volumes to Dean. He braced his hands on the counter and hung his head.

“I want to be as much as I can be with you,” came Cas’ voice. He didn’t stop though. “If I am just your best friend, then I’m your friend. If I’m your,” he whispered, “fuckbuddy, then so be it. Right now, Dean I don’t know what we are. I feel like we’ve gone past those things.”

When Dean turned around, Cas was looking at his hands on the table. “Cas, how do you know that you like me?”

Cas looked away from Dean, pointedly. “Do we really have to do this?”

“Yes. I need to know.” The Keurig gurgled, finishing with the first cup of tea, and Dean switched it out and reset it for the second. “How do you know that you’re interested in me as more than a friend?” He took the first cup to Cas.

Nodding a thank you, Cas took a deep breath. “Because I want you around.”

“But you want friends around, too.”

“This is different.” Cas’ blue eyes met Dean’s gaze. “Friends I want around and then I want them to leave. I’m tired of the day and I’m tired of their conversation. Hannah is great for 9 hours at the office, but I feel relief when I leave. With you,” he palmed at the warm cup, “I feel on edge when I leave; I want you perpetually there. I grin when you text me. I just-”

Dean waited. The Keurig finished his tea too, but, to preserve the moment, he didn’t dare move.

Looking away, Cas finished. “I’m such an introvert except when I’m around you. You make me a better me.” His face was tinged pink; unlike most people’s blushes, Cas managed to never turn a shade deeper than 30 minute sunburn.

Turning to retrieve his tea, Dean squeezed his eyes shut and kept his back turned to Cas. “I think I get it.” He said it low.

“What?”

Dean opened his eyes and stared at their fridge. “I think I get it.” He said it louder. He stared at the photo of he and Cas and Claire with the first jack ’o’ lantern they had carved together. It was held up with magnets of the letters of Dean’s name. “It’s that you feel needed by someone and that you need them, too.” It wasn’t just Claire that had Dean happy to come home. It was more than that. It was interacting with Cas. Cas needed him to be a family, to help take care of Claire. He needed Cas to help take away his day.

There may have been extra wet in Dean’s eyes when he turned around. “I get it, entirely.” A tear sprung free. Dean didn’t have the energy to move any further, so he let it slide down his face.

Cas moved in an instant. He was suddenly in Dean’s space. He went to catch the tear, but stopped at the last minute. “Dean, I don’t know what you want me to do right now.” He looked scared. He looked hopeful. He looked like he was vibrating.

Maybe Dean was vibrating too. Dean stared at his reflection in the tea mug before scooting it onto the counter. He looked at Cas and another tear fell.

Looking more distressed, Cas looked all over Dean’s face, searching for an answer.

Dean finally breathed out a barely audible answer. “Touch me.”

And, he did. It wasn’t the kind of touch that Dean got from his clients. It wasn’t the kind of touch he got from his brother or from his mother. It wasn’t the kind of touch he got from his baby girl, Claire. It was a totally new touch that Dean didn’t know was missing.

He wanted that touch, suddenly craved it.

Cas’ thumbs wicked away the two stray tears and cradled Dean’s face. It was warm and sent tingles everywhere. Not the sexy tingles but a kind that Dean couldn’t remember feeling like this. If he thought back impossibly far, he might relate them to the tingles he got when Cas first held his hand in the sandbox when they were three and Meg had trampled their sandcastle with her tiny, tyke-sized rain boots.

The hands trailed down his neck and to his shoulders. Even through the fabric, they burned, like handprints branded on the skin there.

Wanting to feel more, Dean placed his own hands on Cas’ cheeks, much like he had the night all of this started to really rear up. His fingers felt the same pleasant tingle. He smiled at Cas, enthralled with this newness.

Dean began to lean forward toward Cas’ lips, but Cas’ hands stopped him, pushing back on his shoulders.

“Are you sure about this? Dean, we have to be sure about this.” His eyes flicked to the stairs.

Understanding the same language that they could use only with each other, Dean paused. Claire would be in the middle of this. She would literally be in the middle of them if she had her way. She’d always tried to crawl into the bed with them on those mornings that they had been too tired to separate to their own rooms.

But the thought of separating wasn’t a thought that Dean wanted to have. His heart clenched and the tingles ebbed. It made him upset, even just the thought of leaving Cas and Claire. He laughed a little; how hadn’t he seen it sooner?

Because he hadn’t known what to look for.

Dean bit his lip before releasing it. “I’m sure, but go slow. I haven’t really done this before.” His ears burned.

Shaking his head, Cas shrugged. “Neither have I. It’s just been you.” Cas leaned forward slowly, giving Dean lots of time to pull away. Their lips met in a chaste kiss, but it was longer than any of the other ones.

That evening, they curled up on the couch together without Claire facilitating their closeness. They sipped at their teas until they were sitting cold on the end table. The tv was on, but neither knew what they were watching. They were too busy with chaste kisses and new beginnings.

---

Claire giggled when Cas kissed Dean when he passed him with the mashed potatoes. She was perpetually giddy over the new part of her Daddy’s and Papa’s relationship. She’d been so infatuated with it that she drew them kissing on her Thanksgiving Day card. That had led to an awkward phone call.

Mary grinned. Sam was still surprised, but Jess was happy for them and promised that once Sam zoned back he’d be ecstatic too.

Slugging Dean in the arm, Charlie gave him her green bean casserole. “I’m glad that it’s working out.”

“Me too.” Dean smiled at Cas who was bending over to kiss Claire on the head where she sat at the table, like a perfect angle for her grandma Mary.

Thanksgiving was a great celebration that year, filled with family and friends and pie; Dean was adamant on the pie’s role in the festivities. The next year, under much the same circumstances, Dean offered Cas a ring in a pumpkin-shaped, orange-velvet box; Cas wore it from then on.