More than fifty years later, I can remember falling in love with Dean as if it happened yesterday. I’m still able to recall the way he looked, the way he smelled. His touches, his voice. His numerous freckles and his bright green eyes. Nearly everything about him is etched permanently into my memories, at least for now. I don’t ever want to forget him, no matter how painful the ending, but my age is betraying me these days; I’m afraid that if I don’t write down our story, it will eventually become lost over time. So this is it, the story of the best four years of my life, the story of how I fell in love with Dean Winchester, and the story of how I lost him.
The first thing I heard when I stepped out of the stuffy elevator of our apartment building was AC/DC blasting from Dean’s open apartment door. It wasn’t anything new, he’s had classic rock playing since he moved in less than a week ago. The time, though, is what caught me off guard; it was around one in the morning, why he wasn’t in bed? I guess there were a few things I still had yet to learn about the man who was in his late 20s that had greeted me on his first day here with a wink and, “Hey there, hot stuff.”
With my arms full of books, I made my way down the corridor to our doors, which were right across from each other, and I peeked into his room, “Hello--oh god!” My heart seized and all I could do was stare wide-eyed at the naked man before me, who was also frozen in shock.
He was the first to move, reaching over to turn down his music before breaking into a grin and leaning all seductively on a nearby table, “Why don’t you take a picture, sweetheart? It’ll last longer.” Oh, I definitely would take pictures, pictures that I still have today, but that exact moment wasn’t the right time for them.
My eyes flickered from his lips, admiring the cute little dimples there, to his chest and face, noticing that not all of him was naked, just the important bits. He had on a black Batman shirt with a fuzzy pink towel wrapped around his head, presumably from a shower, but of course my eyes were drawn to his completely exposed lower half.
“I’m sorry, I--” it was difficult for me to look away and turn to my door, but I managed it, fumbling in my jacket pocket for my keys. I was so flustered, my cheeks red and hot, from seeing something I shouldn’t have and liking it. Those golden hairs on his thighs and groin, curling around and framing the thing I had been trying so hard not to focus on.
Suddenly there was a thud and then shooting pain up my leg; I had dropped one of my books right onto exposed toes, my flip flops having done nothing to protect them, “God damn it.”
My ears rung at the sudden sound of Dean’s laugh, a deep rumble that vibrated through my whole body, making it warmer than it already was. At that point I realized I didn’t even know his name and I’ve already seen the most private part of his body. What a great introduction.
It seemed to take forever, but I eventually found the right key for my door and shoved it into the lock, hands shaking as I threw it open. After bending down to pick up my book, I carefully turned back to my neighbor’s apartment (with a hand half raised, ready to to shield my eyes from anything, just in case) to apologize, only to hear a, “Goodnight!” and have his door slammed shut right in my face.
“So, you like what you saw last night?” I had been afraid of this. When Dean held the elevator door open for me the next morning, I told myself to just take the stairs, but of course I didn’t listen to myself and was now paying for it. I was red in the face again, my mouth dry. “I’m Dean, by the way. Dean Winchester.”
“Castiel Novak.” I shifted on my feet, unable to offer him a hand to shake due to the laundry basket I was carrying. I gave him a nervous smile, “It’s nice to meet you.” A jolt radiated from my shoulder when Dean clapped a hand on it, which was his way of saying hello in return.
There was a mesh bag over his shoulder, almost bursting with dirty clothes. My basket, on the other hand, wasn’t even half full. Most of its contents was my brother’s old university jacket, which was now mine, draped over its side.
“No way, you go to Clarkson too?” My stomach dropped, eyes wide as I watched Dean lift the sleeve of the coat to inspect the patch. I hurriedly turned away when he looked up, my bottom lip between my teeth, “Wait... no.” I thought I had been in the clear with all this when he didn’t recognize me for the past four days. “Are... you’re that guy I caught ogling me in the student center the first day I was there, aren’t you?”
“You are! Man,” Dean was grinning, sparkling green eyes looking up at the ceiling briefly in disbelief, “I bet you really liked what you saw last night then, huh?”
“Please.” My cracked plea finally shut him up, “That was an accident.” I readjusted the basket in my arms, relieved that I finally found my voice, “Why did you have your door open, anyway? Especially being in that state of undress?”
“Thought you were home, didn’t hear you go out,” he huffed as he dropped his bag to floor and leaned against the back wall of our ridiculously slow elevator, “We’re like the only people on our floor, so no one usually walks by at one in the freaking morning, anyway. Having the door and windows open created a nice draft for me to dry off in, and I didn’t see any risk in it, so... Besides, it’s my apartment; you’re the one that looked in.”
“Ah ah,” his hand suddenly covered my mouth, startling me and making me recoil a bit, “You know I have every right to have my door open, but I’ll tell you what,” I made a face when he dropped his hand, wiping my mouth on my shoulder, “I’ll make sure to keep myself all tucked away if I do. Deal?”
I wasn't happy with him, thinking he was an arrogant ass as I glared over at the buttons beside the door, “Deal.” Thankfully there was a ding, the elevator telling us we’ve finally made it to the basement, and I was the first one out.
We were quiet as we loaded our laundry in the machines, me throwing all my stuff in and slamming the lid shut before inserting in my quarters. I was getting warmer just standing next to him, knowing he knew I was crushing hard. It wasn’t even seven in the morning and yet it felt like the middle of the afternoon with how hot I was.
I glanced at Dean beside me, noticing he was sorting his things while he hummed; jeans and shirts were getting washed first, with towels being set aside and, “Gotta wash my delicates.” My mouth gaped open like a fish when he tossed a pair of navy blue, lace panties right on top of my washer. Apparently I zoned out because he snapped my fingers in front of my face, “Earth to Cas. Haven’t you seen panties before?”
“I--” of course I had, but usually they had been on girls or just by their lonesome, and this was not something I had been expecting. It never crossed my mind that they were someone else’s, I just knew they were his, and that thought was destroying me from the inside, out.
Dean gave another one of his rough laughs and I’ll be damned if it didn’t go straight between my legs. “Come on, man. You really should try it sometime. I could even let you borrow a pair if you want, maybe some bright red ones? You’d look sexy in those.”
Was this really happening? Was Dean Winchester, my new neighbor who I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing mostly naked, suggesting that I’d be sexually appealing in a pair of lace undergarments?
“It’s something else, it really is,” I blinked when he closed his washer, deposited his coins, “The feel of the fabric catching in the best way against your skin as it glides over your--”
“Dean,” my voice came out all high-pitched, needing him to shut up before I blew a load in my shorts. Thankfully I was holding my laundry basket just right so he couldn’t see my bulge, “I... I have to go. I’ll see you later or something.” And I was gone, fleeing up the stairs as fast as possible.
A few hours after I’d calmed down, I decided it was a good time to head back to the basement and transfer my clothes to the dryer. A gush of hot, humid air greeted me when I opened my apartment door, as did a little black bag sitting upon my mat. “What...?” It felt almost empty when I picked it up, which made me tilt my head and squint curiously. The tag read, "To Cas, from Dean. You can keep them ;)" Instantly I knew what was in the bag; peeking inside, I swallowed thickly at the red, lace panties that even had a little bow on the front.
Cheeks pink, I took a half step back into my apartment and set the gift on the table, promising myself I'd try them on another time.
I didn't run across Dean on my trip downstairs, thank god, not knowing what I'd do or say to him. "Oh, hey, thanks for the underwear that you know I'm going to get off in at some point. I appreciate it!" No, I'd clam up like I always did before bustling off and locking myself in my apartment to study, distract myself as much as possible.
Music was still coming from Dean’s apartment when I returned upstairs; Queen, if I remember correctly. I hummed the song to myself as I went back into my own place and put a chicken roast in the oven before sitting down to study until my clothes were dry.
Around six thirty that evening was when the heat finally broke and it started to cool off outside. I opened my windows and front door to let the stale, mechanically cooled air from my air conditioner be replaced with a slightly warmer, but more refreshing, breeze.
I was in my bedroom now, folding my clothes, that black bag sitting atop my dresser. It seemed to be teasing me, “Put me on, put me on...” And I was just about ready to when I was interrupted by a knock at my front door.
“I smell chicken,” it was Dean, leaning against the frame with his nose in the air, “A roast, to be specific, with carrots and onions.”
“You could smell that from your apartment?”
“Had my door open too, that breeze feels so damn good.” There was just enough space in front of me for him to squeeze through to enter my apartment; he looked around, nodding, “Nice place you’ve got here, very... neat.” He made a motion with his hands when he said that, like he wasn’t used to things being where they were supposed to.
“Are you inviting yourself over for dinner?” I didn’t mind, calm now after a few hours of being by myself.
“Sure, if you’re okay with it?”
I nodded and gestured for him to take a seat anywhere he’d like, “Please, sit. Do you want anything to drink?”
He sat with a huff, arms across the back of the couch, before giving a relaxed sigh, “Beer?”
“I have wine, if that’s okay.”
“That’ll do. Thanks, babe,” he knew what he was doing by then, chuckling quietly to himself as I hurried out of the living room with a roll of my eyes.
Once I returned with our beverages, we slipped into a easy conversation about the simple stuff, the sort of things you’d talk about with almost any person no matter how well you knew them. It seemed like no time at all until dinner was ready, the two of us heading out into the kitchen, “You need any help, Cassy?”
The nickname caught me off guard, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it, “Um... sure. Plates are in the cabinet there, silverware in the drawer below.” The two of us moved smoothly about the narrow kitchen, Dean setting the table while I served the chicken and its side dishes.
Once we were sat, our wine glasses refilled, Dean held his up in a toast, “To our shitty apartment building; here’s to it not collapsing.” His little speech made me smirk, the truth in his words were all too real, “I swear to god, Cas, one of these days that elevator is just going to give out, it rattles and shakes so damn much.”
“It’s been like that since I moved in, which was about a year ago. That’s why most people take the stairs, they don’t want to be the unlucky ones inside it when it finally snaps.”
Dean nodded in understanding, stuffing his mouth with chicken and green beans, then tried to talk, “So, how ‘bout them panties? You try them on yet?”
I had been taking a sip of my wine and promptly snorted and spat most of it back into my glass, shaking my head, “N-no, I haven’t. They’re on my dresser.”
“I will though, don’t sound so disappointed.”
That brightened him up, nudging my foot with his under the table, “You gonna let me see?”
A loud clank as my fork fell to my plate, “Dean Winchester.”
“What! Just a question...”
“I don’t... We’re practically strangers still, you and I.”
“Oh, come on, Cas. Strangers don’t give lingerie as gifts,” he was like a chipmunk, stuffing more food into his cheeks. “We both know--”
Quickly, I reached over and held his jaw shut, demanding in the most polite way, “Swallow your damn food before talking, please.”
He did without hesitation then picked right back up where he had left off, “We both know that there’s something going on here with us. I can feel it.” I watched his fork as he swung it back and forth between us, “A... spark, or something. Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling this.”
Realizing I forgot the salt and pepper, I sighed and stood to retrieve them, “No, you’re not alone. I just think it’s too soon to be acting on any feelings is all.”
Dean was right in the middle of his enthusiastic reply with the ground shifted beneath us, knocking me onto my ass and tossing Dean onto the floor. Shattering and bangs were heard as things fell over, the lights going out and sending the room into an orange glow from the sunset outside. Just a few seconds after things stilled, the city’s earthquake siren wailed from a few blocks down the road.
Flashback to 5th grade. My class was in the gymnasium playing dodgeball when the building violently shook and the roof fell in, injuring almost every child and unfortunately taking one’s life. That had been the only major earthquake I had been in, until now, at least, so I didn’t know of any other way to react.
“Cas?” Dean’s broken voice was laced with concern, but I didn’t reply, didn’t even hear him, “Cas, you okay?”
Like a wave, all those feelings I had felt in that earthquake back in middle school washed over me, all that panic and fright. I give a small wail and started crying, covering my head with my arms to try to protect myself even though there was no real danger.
At the time, I didn’t even comprehend Dean coming over to scoop me up and take me into my room, into the closet near the center of the building where the structure was most sound. He kept me close, whispering words of reassurance and covering us up with all the blankets he could find, building us a nest despite the warmer temperatures, “It’s gonna be okay, Cas. I’m here, you’re gonna be okay.”
My heart was hammering, my breathing fast. I was having a panic attack, both of my hands shaking uncontrollably along with the rest of my body while I gripped tightly to Dean’s shirt.
“Hey,” Dean’s thumb was rough against my cheek, wiping away my tears, “Our building has that evacuation alarm, right? Well, it’s not going off, so it must not be all that bad.”
I latched on to his voice and his touch like an anchor and after a few minutes I realized he was right, I was overreacting. “I-I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t apologize. It’s okay for you to be freaked out, but just try to calm down, okay? I’m here. I’ll keep you safe.”
Just hearing him say that settled my nerves more than anything, my body easing from heavy shakes to light trembles. I allowed myself to open my eyes and look over his face, noticing the freckles that were still visible even in the fading light from outside.
“Do you want me to stay here with you for the night until the aftershocks are done? I’ll help you clean up in the morning.”
A nod from me, that plan sounding perfect, “P-please.”
“Alright,” his lips pressed softly against my forehead, “It’s okay, blue eyes, you’re okay...”
I remember Dean rubbing up and down my back, holding me to him as we waited this out. The aftershocks weren’t so bad, not with him there, and we thankfully never had to evacuate. The two of us even fell asleep in our pile of blankets in the closet, forgetting about our interrupted meal, and not waking until the morning sun was shining on our faces.
Whenever I get worked up, I can still hear Dean talking me through it like he did back then, knowing just what to say to calm me down, and I will be forever thankful of him for that.
From that day out, him and I would be almost inseparable as we worked through the ups and downs of our college years together, going on many adventures, and simply enjoying life.