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The Resolution

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December 31, 2015 - The Roadhouse’s Annual New Year’s Eve Party

Castiel chewed his lip as he watched Dean run a hand down the blonde woman’s arm.  They had been flirting off and on over the evening, and for a while, Castiel had wondered whether Dean was really interested in her.  As the countdown to the new year had creeped closer though, the two had become inseparable, laughing and giving each other long, heated looks.  Castiel stood quietly by the bar and watched with a twist in his gut.

Dean was his best friend.  They had first met when they had been assigned as roommates in college.  Although at first they appeared to be as different as could be, they quickly realized they had a lot in common and had bonded almost instantly.  They had lived together ever since, and in the twelve years of their friendship, they had been to hell and back with each other.  Multiple times.  There was no one else in the world that Castiel trusted so completely, and Castiel knew Dean felt the same way. 

What Dean didn’t know was that Castiel was also in love with him.

“Please tell me you aren’t going to stand for that.”  Gabriel popped up beside Castiel, causing him to jump.  His brother gestured over to where the woman was now tangling her hand in Dean’s hair.

Castiel sighed.  Dean might not know that Castiel was in love with him, but his brother, Gabriel, had somehow managed to find out.

“It’s not my business,” Castiel said primly.  He pointedly turned his back on Dean and his companion and idly ran a finger up and down his beer glass. 

Gabriel made an odd noise and slapped Castiel on the back.  “Cassie,” his brother prodded, and Castiel could smell the scent of alcohol and cake frosting emanating from his brother.  

“Gabriel, please,” Castiel pleaded. 

“Don’t worry, baby bro,” Gabriel slurred, and Castiel realized that his brother was much more intoxicated than he had initially thought.  “My New Year’s resolution is to do everything in my power to get Dean Winchester to finally admit his feelings for you.”  Gabriel thrust his martini glass in the air, sending liquid spilling over the sides and onto Castiel’s shirt. 

“Do not do that,” Castiel commanded as he grabbed a napkin off the bar. Ever since Gabriel first found out about Castiel’s feelings for Dean, he had insisted that Dean felt the same for Castiel.  No matter how many times Castiel tried to point out how wrong he was, Gabriel never listened.  

“No.  No,” Gabriel said firmly.  His eyes were glossy, but they had a serious cast.  “You deserve to get laid, Cassie, and I’m gonna get you laid.  By Dean Winchester.”  He raised the glass again, spilling the rest of the liquid, and cheered.

Castiel felt a slight panic rise within his chest.  It was hard enough to keep his feelings for Dean in check and make sure that their relationship was not negatively impacted by Castiel’s unrequited love.  He did not need Gabriel meddling and making things worse.

“Gabriel, please.  Do not interfere in my relationship with Dean.” 

Gabriel set his drink down heavily on the bar and raised an eyebrow. “I can make it happen, baby brother,” he assured.

Before Castiel could respond, Gabriel was shouting for another drink.  Castiel said a quick prayer for help, but was distracted by a change in the energy of the room.  All around him, people started counting.

Ten, Nine… 

Involuntarily, Castiel’s eyes flitted to Dean.  His arm was wrapped around the woman’s waist, and she was whispering something into his ear.  Castiel felt jealousy rise within him, and he struggled to keep it down.

Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…

The room erupted in noise and cheers, and Castiel looked away right as Dean pulled the woman close and kissed her.  He tried to remind himself that this was for the best, that Dean obviously didn’t reciprocate his feelings, and that was okay.  He was Castiel’s best friend, and that was enough.  It had to be enough.

“We’ll get him,” Gabriel yelled in Castiel’s direction.  “By this time next year, you’ll be the one kissing Ken doll.”

Castiel opened his mouth to speak, but then thought better of it.  He turned toward the bar and waved down the bartender.

“Shots.  Lots of shots,” he hollered over the commotion.  The bartender just nodded, and Gabriel gave him a surprised, but pleased look.

“That’s the spirit,” Gabriel cheered as he clapped Castiel on the back.  

Castiel gave his brother a weak smile as he realized his brand new year was already a disaster.  A shot glass appeared in front of him, and he didn’t hesitate as he picked it up and tossed it back

~*~*~*~

 

January

Castiel had hoped that perhaps Gabriel’s promise to interfere in his personal life would have been washed away in the steady stream of shots and candy that Gabriel had consumed prior to passing out sometime in the wee hours of New Year’s Day.  Castiel had never been a particularly lucky person though, so it really wasn’t much of a surprise when Gabriel met him for lunch a few days later and immediately began to talk about his plan for getting Castiel and Dean together.    

Castiel tried for over an hour to convince his brother to mind his own business, but Gabriel was having none of it.  By the end of lunch, Castiel had little more than a headache and a promise from Gabriel that all Castiel and Dean’s relationship needed was a little push and everything would be fine.    

He should have known that Gabriel had been speaking literally.

 --

They had been celebrating Dean’s birthday at The Roadhouse.  It had been a good night, and Dean had looked beautiful and so utterly content, Castiel had almost blurted out an “I love you” right there.  Luckily, his better sense kicked in, and he had remained quiet.

At some point in the night though, Castiel found himself standing at the bar with Dean waiting for their drink orders.  Dean had been relating some story that Garth had told earlier, when all of a sudden, Castiel was pushed right into Dean.  Their arms entangled and Castiel found himself clinging tightly to Dean in order to keep his balance. 

“Whoa,” Dean said, concern coloring his voice.  “Are you okay?”  He dropped his hands to Castiel’s sides and gently pulled him up to a less precarious position.  Castiel glanced up and their eyes met.  Castiel reassurances died on his lips, and the two just stared at each other for a long moment.  They were so close, and Dean’s mouth was right there.  His lips looked so soft and delicious, and Castiel licked his own lips unconsciously.  Dean inhaled sharply at the sight and moved a fraction closer.  Castiel’s heart beat wildly in his chest.  This was it.  This was his chance.  He just needed to lean forward and…

“Cassie, have you seen my wallet?” Balathazar seemed to appear out of nowhere, and Castiel jumped backward out of Dean’s arms.  “I’m fairly certain I had it earlier,” Balthazar continued, patting his pockets and oblivious to the moment he had just ruined. 

“Do you think Lucifer has taken it?  He has, hasn’t he?”  Balthazar whirled, and Castiel could tell from the set of his shoulders that things were about to get ugly between his older brothers.

“I’ll help,” Gabriel cried as he appeared next to Balthazar and began pulling him away.  Castiel titled his head in confusion since Gabriel never offered his help for trivial tasks, especially to Balthazar.  Gabriel gave Castiel a meaningful look and jerked his head in Dean’s direction.  Castiel instantly realized that this had probably been Gabriel’s attempt at a plan, but Balthazar had inadvertently interfered. 

Gabriel motioned toward Dean again and dragged Balthazar off into the crowd.  Castiel watched his brothers go and sighed before moving back to Dean.  Castiel didn’t fail to notice that the other man had put a respectable amount of distance between them while Castiel had been distracted.  Dean was also pointedly not looking in his direction.

A small trickle of disappointment settled in his chest, and Castiel did his best to shake it off.  He needed to focus on the positive things.  For example, if this was Gabriel’s idea of a plan, Castiel didn’t have to worry too much about his interference.

~*~*~*~

 

February

“What the fuck is your brother wearing?”  Dean bumped Castiel’s arm and pointed.  “Is he… is he dressed up like cupid?”

Castiel followed Dean’s gaze and gasped when he saw his brother in nothing more than a small, white cloth wrapped around his hips and glittery angel wings.  He was also holding a small, gold bow and an arrow with a heart hastily glued to the point. 

“Oh dear god,” Castiel groaned.  He dropped his face into his hands as Gabriel spotted them and came marching over. 

“Evening, fellas,” Gabriel greeted.  Castiel peeked between his fingers, and immediately regretted the decision.

“Gabe, what in the hell are you doing?” Dean demanded next to him.  He took a long drink of beer and actually looked somewhat amused by the situation. 

“I’m Cupid,” Gabriel said as he shimmied and sent his wings fluttering.  “I’ve come to help morons find the love that’s already right in front of their face.  Do you know anyone like that Dean?”

Castiel felt Dean’s body stiffen next to him, and the mild amusement on his face instantly went icy.  “Excuse me?” Dean said slowly. 

“Aww, come on, Deano.  Know anyone who is secretly in love?”  Gabriel raised his eyebrows and stared at Dean. 

An odd look passed over Dean’s face, and after a long pause, he swallowed. 

“Can’t say I do,” he replied eventually.  Gabriel narrowed his eyes at that and leaned closer. 

“No one?  You don’t know one single person who is in love with anyone else –“

“Hey guys,” Sam smiled as he slid into the other side of the booth.  “What the hell, Gabe?  Trying to scare people?” he teased. 

Gabriel looked affronted for a moment, then smiled.  “I’ll have you know, I’m helping people fall in love tonight.”  He gave Sam a significant look, and Sam’s eyebrows raised.  The two seemed to be silently communicating, which Castiel found quite distressing, but it was interrupted by Dean suddenly standing up.

“I’m going to the bar,” he growled and stalked away.

Dean left the bar with two women not long after.

~*~*~*~

 

March

“I bet you ten bucks you won’t kiss my brother.”  Gabriel jabbed a finger in Castiel’s direction and grinned like a damn lunatic.

Castiel barely had time to glare at his brother before he felt a soft smack on his cheek.

“Done,” Dean said triumphantly as he leaned back in the booth.  “Pay up.”

Gabriel’s mouth dropped open, and he looked beside himself.  “That’s… that’s not what I meant, and you know it,” Gabriel cried.  

“A bet’s a bet.  Pay up.”  Dean held out his hand expectantly, and Gabriel looked to Sam. 

“Are you going to let this injustice stand?” Gabriel demanded.

Sam laughed and took a drink of his beer.  “Should have been clearer on the terms,” he shrugged.

Gabriel gave him a withering look.  “Outrageous,” he grumbled as he pulled out his wallet and threw ten dollars on the table before storming off.  Dean laughed as he signaled to the waitress to bring another round. 

A few minutes later, Castiel received a text message.

Gabriel:  Sorry, bro.  Next time.

~*~*~*~

 

April  

“My little brother is in love with you, and he wants to bang your brains out,” Gabriel yelled as he ran out of the door of Castiel and Dean’s apartment.  The piece of bacon Castiel had been eating dropped out of his hand and hit the table with a splat.

Dean choked on his coffee and sent some of it splashing across the kitchen table.  His eyes darted to Castiel, and they were wide and somewhat scared looking.

Some plan, Castiel thought bitterly as he struggled between a desire to kill his brother for his meddling and a desire to die of embarrassment immediately.

“Did… Was he…” Dean sputtered and looked around wildly before something seemed to click, and a look of relief washed over his features. 

“It’s April Fool’s Day,” Dean nodded sagely.  He took another sip of coffee and nodded some more.  There was a long, drawn out silence, and Castiel struggled to breathe.

“I gotta say, I expected something a little more… destructive from Gabe,” Dean confided.  “I mean, that wasn’t even funny.”

Castiel swallowed heavily.  “Yeah,” he managed to croak. 

Dean pushed himself up from the table and grabbed his plate.  “Okay, well, I’ll see you after work.” 

Castiel remained silent as Dean slipped into the kitchen. 

~*~*~*~ 

 

May

“Dean,” Castiel cried as he burst into their home.  “Dean.” 

He ran down the hallway, not even bothering to put down his bag as he searched frantically for the other man.  He flew into the dining room and found Dean opening a package.

“No,” Castiel yelled as he lunged toward the box and pulled it out of Dean’s grasp. 

“Cas, whoa, buddy.  What the hell?”  Dean jumped back, and his eyes were wide in confusion and alarm.  “What’s going on?”

“Did you open this?” Castiel gestured toward the box.  He pulled it tighter against his body as if that would somehow ensure that Dean never saw the contents. 

“No,” Dean replied slowly.  “Why?”

“Gabriel,” Castiel panted, and only now did he realize just how panicked he had been. 

Dean’s eyes narrowed, and his lips pursed together in a frown.  “Do I even want to know what’s in that box?”  He took a small step back, and Castiel could see the apprehension spreading across his face.  Castiel shook his head. 

“Alright then.”  Dean clapped his hands together and walked toward the kitchen.  “I’m making burgers for dinner, and I got those special buns you like, even though I had to go to like three different stores to find them.” 

“Great,” Castiel panted as he squeezed the box even closer. 

He waited until he heard Dean clattering around in the kitchen before he risked a quick look in the box.  He pulled back the lid and made a small squeaking noise.  As promised, the box was full of women’s panties with a small note on top.  Castiel gingerly fished the note out of the box and read it.

Dear Dean,

Please have a pair of these on by the time I get home.  I’ll make it worth your while, I promise.

Love, Castiel

Castiel let out a pained sound and stuffed the note back in the box.  He needed to buy something very nice and very expensive for Gabriel’s assistant, Alfie, and take it to him tomorrow.  Had the boy not tipped Castiel off about Gabriel’s latest plan, who knows what horrible situation Castiel might be in at the moment.  Although the thought of Dean in lingerie…

Castiel jumped as Dean popped his head back into the dining room.  “Hurry up, and do whatever with that.”  He gestured toward the box and gave it a distrustful look.  “Dinner will be ready in five.” 

Castiel ended up just stuffing the box under his bed and doing his best to forget that any of this particular incident had ever happened.

~*~*~*~

 

June  

“We don’t have enough rooms though, so Dean, you’ll have to share a room with Cas.”  Sam swung open the door to the bedroom and stood aside.  “Oh, it also only has one bed, but I figured you and Cas wouldn’t mind.”

Dean gave his brother a look, but didn’t seem particularly concerned.  Castiel on the other hand felt like he was going to pass out. 

“I’m going to get our bags,” Dean replied after taking a look around the small room.  He wandered off down the hall, and once he was out of ear shot, Sam turned to Castiel.

“Good luck, and for what it’s worth, I think my brother would be lucky to have you,” he winked and ran off to follow his brother.  Castiel stood stunned for a long moment before whirling on Gabriel. 

“You told Sam?” Castiel asked incredulously. 

Gabriel threw up his hands defensively and gestured to Sam’s retreating form.  “He already knew anyway,” Gabriel explained.

Castiel raised his eyebrows and stared at his brother for a moment before huffing. 

“Unbelievable,” he mumbled and ran a hand through his hair.  “And he’s helping you?” 

A look of pride passed over Gabriel’s face, and he nodded.  “Yeah.  This whole bit about the bedroom, it was his idea.  He really is the whole package.  Brains.  Beauty.” Gabriel gave a wistful sort of sigh as his eyes went soft and unfocused.

“Really?” Castiel replied flatly, pulling his brother out of his daydreams.  “Forcing Dean and I to share a room?”  Castiel waved his hand angrily around the tiny bedroom and wondered, not for the first time, why Gabriel had been invited to come with the extended Winchester family to the lakeside cabin. 

“It’s foolproof, baby bro,” Gabriel grinned widely.  “You and Dean will have to share a bed.  One thing will lead to another, and then…” Gabriel’s words trailed off, and he grinned.

“Hey,” Dean interrupted as he came into the small room carrying a box in his arms.  “Look what I found.”  He dumped the box onto the floor and smiled.  “It’s an air mattress.  Now we don’t have to share a bed.” 

Castiel let out a small, hysterical sort of laugh, while Gabriel glared at Dean like he was trying to smite him.  Dean looked from Castiel to Gabriel and back again, uncertainty clouding his features. 

“I’ll set it up later,” he offered quickly.  He didn’t wait for a response as he bolted out the door.

-- 

That night, Dean slept on the air mattress.

The day after that, the air mattress mysteriously popped, and Castiel was completely unsurprised. 

After that, Dean slept downstairs on the couch for the remainder of their trip.

~*~*~*~ 

 

July

“Gabriel, I swear, if you try to ‘accidentally’ handcuff Dean and I together one more time, I will break into your apartment and destroy your entire collection of Casa Erotica DVDs.”

“You wouldn’t,” Gabriel gasped in horror.

“I’ve done it before, haven’t I?” Castiel shot back.

“Monster,” Gabriel hissed, but he handed over the handcuffs.

~*~*~*~

 

August

“Twister?” Castiel asked as he pulled away the last of the wrapping paper and inspected the box. 

Gabriel’s grin widened, and he puffed up his chest.  “Damn right, baby bro, and I think we can round up a few people to play right now.”  Gabriel cast a devilish look around the room and rubbed his hands together.

“No,” Castiel said flatly.  Gabriel gave him a meaningful look, and Castiel groaned. 

Not again.

“You’ll hurt my feelings if you don’t play the game I got you,” Gabriel pouted. 

Castiel scoffed.  “I doubt that,” he grumbled, but Gabriel insisted.

“One game,” Gabriel pressed, and something in his gaze made Castiel realize that the sooner he went along with whatever Gabriel was planning, the sooner he could move on with his life.

“Fine,” Castiel huffed.

“Excellent.  What about you, Deano?” Gabriel’s eyes flashed as he looked toward Dean, and Castiel saw his best friend’s cheeks go red.

“No way in hell,” Dean snapped as he took a step back.  Gabriel frowned for a moment, but then smiled.

“Okay then.”  He looked around the room again until his eyes fell on Aaron.  “What about you?”

It took a little convincing, but Gabriel somehow managed to wrangle Aaron into agreeing to play as well.  A few minutes later, the game was set up, and Castiel stood across from Aaron, waiting for Gabriel to make the first spin.

Like all games of Twister, it started out innocently enough.  By the fifth spin though, Castiel was fairly certain that Gabriel was simply calling out the spaces that would put Castiel in the most compromising position.

“Right hand, blue,” Gabriel snickered, and Castiel and Aaron both giggled nervously as Castiel somehow managed to contort himself into a rather inappropriate position against Aaron. 

“Would you look at that?” Gabriel called out.  Castiel just barely managed to look toward his brother, and he caught a glimpse of Dean, jaw clenched firmly shut, glaring in his direction.  “Now that looks like a scene out of Casa Erotica, doesn’t it?” Gabriel crowed.  Castiel watched as Dean’s fists clenched tight by his sides, but he didn’t respond.  

“Maybe we should just –“

Castiel missed the rest of what Gabriel said when Aaron suddenly came crashing down on top of him.  The two ended up pressed together from chest to knees, and overall, it was a rather embarrassing situation.  

“Well, happy birthday,” Aaron joked as he raised himself up to hover just above Castiel.  Castiel was too bewildered to respond, and Aaron just laughed.  He pushed himself all the way up, and then helped Castiel to his feet.  By the time Castiel was standing again, Dean was nowhere in sight. 

“Sorry, bro,” Gabriel whispered quietly to Castiel when he noticed Castiel looking around.  “I thought the jealousy thing might work.  Next time,” Gabriel promised.

~*~*~*~ 

 

September

Dean:  Thanks for the pie!  It was awesome.

Castiel frowned down at the text message in confusion.  Pie?  What the hell was Dean talking about?

Dean:  I already ate half of it.

Castiel was starting to type out a reply to ask what was going on, when his phone rang.

“Gabriel,” Castiel answered, a slight hint of annoyance tinging the word.

“Cassie,” his brother greeted.  “You sent Dean a pie today to his work just because you’re a great best friend, and you wanted to make him happy.”

Castiel groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose to stave off a headache.  “Was it just a pie or was there something inappropriate involved?  Perhaps it was shaped like a penis?”

“A penis shaped pie?” Gabriel choked.  “That’s… a great idea.  I wonder if I can –“

“Gabriel,” Castiel called sharply into the phone.  Was it too much to hope that his brother hadn’t been completely terrible?

There was a loud exhale on the other end of the line, and his brother’s voice came down the line.  “Nothing inappropriate,” Gabriel defended.  “Just a pie.  Although, I might have added a few Xs and Os to the card, and a vaguely suggestive line about the pie filling.” 

“Of course,” Castiel replied, defeated. 

“Buck up,” Gabriel chattered.  “I bet Dean comes home tonight and confesses his love for you right as he walks through the door.”

To Castiel’s complete lack of surprise, Dean did no such thing.

~*~*~*~

 

October

“Dare,” Dean answered cockily as he took another swig of whiskey.  He was dressed as a zombie, but even the fake blood smeared across his face couldn’t hide his beauty.  It was depressing. 

Gabriel’s eyes glittered, and he clapped his hands together.  “Excellent.  I dare you to…” Gabriel drew out the word as he made a show of contemplating his options.  “Give my brother a lap dance.” 

A cacophony of laughter, whistles, and cat calls erupted, and Castiel jumped up immediately. 

“No,” he cried before Dean could say anything.  Dean looked caught off guard by Castiel’s response, and the smile on his face faded slightly. 

“No,” Castiel repeated.  He couldn’t do this.  Not tonight.  Not in front of a crowd.  Maybe not ever.  He opened his mouth to continue his protest, but then thought better of it.

“Excuse me,” he finally managed.  “I need some air.”  

He practically sprinted for the patio door, and luckily, there was no one on the patio as he pushed his way out of the stuffy house.  Once he was outside, he felt only slightly better.  He took long, deep breaths of the cold night air, and did his best to compose himself.

A part of him knew that Gabriel was just trying to help, but it was hard to appreciate that tonight.  Castiel had been in love with Dean for a long time, but it was never meant to go anywhere.  As a result, he had perfected a variety of coping mechanisms to help him stay content with just their friendship.  His main coping mechanism was avoidance.  If he just didn’t think about being in love with Dean, nothing bad happened.  This year though, with all Gabriel’s “help”, it was almost impossible to avoid thinking about it.  In fact, it seemed like the only thing Castiel was able to think about anymore was his love for Dean, and it was starting to eat away at him.  He also hated to admit it, but every time he realized Gabriel was putting one of his plans in motion, Castiel couldn’t stop himself from hoping, just a little, that it might actually work.  Each time it didn’t, the disappointment only became more and more unbearable. 

The patio door slid open, and Castiel turned to see Dean stepping out of the house.  “You okay?” he asked softly. 

“Yes.  I just… drank too much,” Castiel murmured.  It was a lie, and Dean probably knew it, but he didn’t push Castiel.  It was just one of the many reasons he loved him – Dean always respected Castiel’s boundaries. 

“I brought your jacket,” Dean offered.  He held up Castiel’s trench coat and smiled softly.  “It’s too cold to be standing around in just that.”

Castiel blushed as he looked down at the skimpy “angel” outfit that Gabriel had picked out for him.  It had also been a part of Gabriel’s master plan.

“Thank you,” he replied as he took the coat and threw it over his shoulders. 

“What are best friends for?” Dean asked lightly. 

What indeed, thought Castiel sadly.

~*~*~*~

 

November

“You can’t blame a guy for trying.”

“Yes, I actually can, Gabriel,” Castiel said irritably as he kicked another box filled with woman’s underwear beneath his bed.   

 ~*~*~*~

 

December 31, 2016 -  The Roadhouse’s Annual New Year’s Eve Party

Here he was.  Again. 

And there was Dean.  Again.  Wrapped around a perky brunette woman and looking happy and content.  

“Okay.  We didn’t get him this year, but I can feel it.  2017 is going to be our year,” Gabriel stated decisively as he slammed a hand on the table. 

“What is he going on about?” Lucifer turned around and looked at Gabriel with a mostly bored expression.

“Our baby brother,” Gabriel explained.  “He’s in love with Dean, and I promised to get them together this year.” 

“Just tell everyone,” Castiel complained as Gabriel spilled his secret to yet another person.   

“Oh don’t be that way, Castiel.”  Lucifer waved a hand in Castiel’s direction and bunched up his face.  “It’s not exactly a secret.  It’s plain as day that you two are in love.  In fact, the other day, Michael and I were discussing how odd it was that you two aren’t in a relationship.” 

“Great,” Castiel grumbled as he sat back in his seat.  “I’m glad my personal life is just everyone’s business.”

Both his brothers ignored him as Gabriel explained all his failed attempts to push Castiel and Dean together over the year.  Lucifer listened with a kind of quiet intensity as Gabriel recounted each incident, and when he was done, Lucifer chuckled.   

“Have you just tried telling Dean?” he asked eventually. 

“What?” Castiel choked as he stared at Lucifer.

“Telling him,” Lucifer said slowly, enunciating each syllable carefully.  “Have you tried just walking up to him and telling him that you love him.”   

Castiel stared stupidly. 

“Where’s the fun in that?” Gabriel demanded, outrage evident in his tone.

Lucifer raised an eyebrow and shook his head.  “It’s fun if it’s effective,” he shrugged.  “But, hey, what do I know?  I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with even more outrageous plans over this next year, and I bet that Castiel will enjoy dealing with all your schemes and plotting.”

“Damn right,” Gabriel proclaimed and looked toward Castiel for confirmation.  “In fact, I already got a plan involving a missing house key and a stripper that’s going to work for sure.”

Lucifer sighed dramatically.  “I guess if Castiel’s too afraid to do it himself, then the stripper will have to do,” he conceded.

Castiel let out an indignant huff, but Gabriel cut in.

“Hey now, Luci.  It’s okay if Cassie’s scared and needs his big brothers to help.  Right, Cassie?”  Gabriel gave him a pointed look, and Castiel felt anger starting to course through him.

“Wait a minute,” he huffed, but Lucifer spoke over him.

“He is the baby of the family,” Lucifer said sadly.  “He has always had all of us to help him.  It really isn’t surprising that he can’t face Dean alone.”

His brothers continued along in that same vein, going back and forth about all the reasons they found Castiel unworthy of the task of telling Dean he loved him, until Castiel finally slammed his hand down on the table.  He may have grown up as the youngest of six brothers, but if anything, that had made him tough, not cowardly. 

“I am not scared of Dean Winchester,” he growled.  His brothers looked at him doubtfully, and Castiel felt his resolve harden. 

“It’s okay, Castiel.  You don’t have to lie to us,” Lucifer said calmly.  “We don’t expect you to be the bravest.” 

“Oh yeah?  Watch this,” Castiel challenged.  Without another word, he turned and instantly spotted Dean across the bar.  Dean was standing over near the pool tables, leaning casually against the wall as he flirted with the same dark haired woman.  Taking a deep breath, Castiel strode through the crowd and straight up to Dean.  He’d show his brothers he wasn’t scared.

Dean had been saying something to the woman, but stopped as he spotted Castiel.  “Hey Cas,” Dean greeted as Castiel marched up to his friend.  Castiel didn’t bother with a greeting as he grabbed Dean’s arm and gave it a squeeze.

“Dean,” Castiel said, far too loudly.  “I love you.”

Dean’s eyes went wide, then confused, and his jaw fell open.  “What?” he stammered.

“I love you,” Castiel repeated, and as the words came out a second time, the first tinges of regret pooled low in his stomach.  Dean snapped his jaw shut, and his eyes darted to the dark haired woman. 

“I…. uh… have you met Julie?” Dean babbled.  He motioned to the dark haired woman, but she took a dainty step back and laughed.

“Oh no.  I’m not getting involved in this,” she said as she spun around and disappeared into the crowd.  Dean watched her walk away, a strange look on his face, before he turned back to Castiel. 

“Dean,” Castiel began.  Any courage he had gathered from his anger at his brothers was quickly fading.  What should he say now?  He really hadn’t thought this whole plan through, and it was not going well.  Damn Gabriel and Lucifer, and damn his desire to prove himself to his stupid brothers.

Dean’s mouth opened and closed a few times, and it was obvious he was struggling for his words.

“You love me?” Dean eventually asked, voice weak.  A flush came over Castiel, and he didn’t trust himself to speak, so he merely nodded.

“Like, love me, love me?” Dean continued.

The question caught Castiel off guard, and he tilted his head in confusion.  “What?”

Dean looked wary, but he soldiered on.  “Do you love me like ‘go on dates’ love me or like we’re best friends love me?” Dean pressed, and something in his eyes gave Castiel a sudden boost of confidence.

“Um…,” Castiel considered for a moment.  “Like go on dates love you?”  The words came out as more of a question, and Dean looked thoughtful.

“Alright people,” a loud voice cut over the top of the music.  “It’s time.”

All around, people started shuffling about and raising their glasses in the air.

“Ten,” the voice boomed. 

The people around them took the cue, and suddenly the whole bar was counting down while Castiel just stared at Dean hopefully. 

Nine.

The thoughtful look on Dean’s face began to soften, and the corners of his mouth began to pull up.

Eight.

“You love me,” he shouted to be heard over the crowd.

Seven.

Castiel nodded and gasped as Dean pulled him in close.

Six.

“You love me,” Dean smiled widely as he repeated the words.  Castiel watched Dean’s lips move, but he couldn’t actually hear the words.

Five.

A warm, calloused hand reached up, and Dean’s fingers trailed gently across Castiel’s cheek and down to his jaw. 

Four.

Dean bit his lip, and he raised his gaze to meet Castiel’s.

Three.

“Cas,” Dean breathed, and they were so close now, Castiel could feel the words ghost across his skin.

Two.

“I love you, too,” Dean confessed.  Castiel’s breath caught in his throat, and as the crowd shouted one, Dean leaned forward and pressed his lips firmly against Castiel’s.

For a moment, the world swirled around Castiel.  The sound of cheers and toy horns erupted, but Castiel heard none of it.  All he was aware of was the feel of Dean pressed against him, and the feel of his best friend’s tongue pushing possessively inside his mouth. 

All too soon, Dean pulled back.  When he did though, he was grinning widely, and Castiel almost swooned at the sight.  Dean was always beautiful, but he was something else entirely when he smiled like that.

“Happy New Year, Cas,” Dean said as he pulled Castiel back in for another kiss.

As their lips met again, Castiel had to admit that it really was a happy new year.   

--

“Told you,” Lucifer said smoothly as he sipped at his glass of scotch. 

“Oh don’t pretend like you knew this was going to work,” Gabriel complained.  He crossed his arms across his chest and gave Lucifer a disgruntled look. 

“You have to admit that it did work though,” Sam pointed out from across the table.  He was smiling stupidly in his brother’s direction, so he missed the wounded look Gabriel shot him. 

“That doesn’t mean Lucifer was right,” Gabriel cried. 

Lucifer set down his scotch glass and pursed his lips together.  “Castiel has always had an almost unhealthy desire to prove himself worthy, especially to us,” Lucifer shrugged.

“But where was the fun in that?” Gabriel demanded.  “There was no finesse, no subtlety.  We just picked on the poor guy until he snapped.”

Lucifer smirked, and Sam rolled his eyes.  “How about we just focus on the fact that we finally managed to get them together,” Sam offered, raising a glass in the air for a toast.  Lucifer raised his scotch glass gracefully, and after a little grumbling, Gabriel raised his own glass.  

“To our brothers.  May none of us walk in on them while they’re in a compromising position.”

All three men clinked their glasses together in agreement.