“So,” Sam’s grin is far too wide to be considered innocent. “Are the two of you dating now?”
As the human saying goes, if looks could kill, Sam would be a pile of ashes by now. That’s how intense Dean’s glare is. “Sammy... ” he warns.
Sam ignores him and turns his eyes on Castiel. “Well? Are you?”
“I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘dating’,” he replies carefully.
“Sammy, I swear to God—”
“Like, going out and being nauseatingly couple-y. You know, making out in the middle of the street where everybody can see you,” Sam pauses to give Dean a look that says he isn’t impressed. “Holding hands and spending time together. That kind of thing.”
“We already spend much of our time together,” Castiel points out.
Dean moans and buries his face in his hands, muttering something about an early death. Sam’s grin widens. “Yeah, but see, you’re not like the other girls Dean usually sleeps with, you actually have some self-respect. And you guys haven’t even slept together yet, which is like, a world record for Dean.”
“Sam!” Dean’s face is the picture of utter mortification.
Sam shrugs, unapologetic. “It’s true.” Before Dean can reply, he is already turning his attention back to Castiel. “I’m happy for you guys,” he says, with a sincere smile on his face. “Really.”
Castiel smiles back.
“God, can this chick flick moment get any girlier—”
Dean trails off when Castiel gently places his hand on top of his, curling their fingers together. Dean doesn’t pull away.
“Aww, you’re blushing! That’s so cute.”
“One day, Sammy, one day I am going to get you when you least expect it. Just you wait.”
The transition from January to February is mostly smooth and uneventful with Dean’s eighteenth birthday being the only thing that punctures the routine that is their lives. Dean’s birthday is the one day John actually remembers to be back in time for, if only to tell everyone to pack their things and leave. As expected, Sam puts up a fuss but even he knows the argument is over before it has even begun.
In the meantime, not much changes between Dean and Castiel. Dean continues to give Castiel “humanity lessons” during his spare time between hunting and looking after Sam. Sometimes in the midst of those lessons, Dean will casually take Castiel’s hand in his and steal brief kisses from him when they’re alone. Castiel does his best to return each and every one of those touches and kisses when he can.
Although neither of the brothers are eager to inform John of this new development, that doesn’t stop Sam from constantly teasing them with knowing looks, mischievous smirks, and sly comments—much to Dean’s dismay. Even Castiel, who usually loathes being dishonest, knows that telling John about the change in his and Dean’s relationship would be suicidal if he were human so he, too, stays silent on the subject.
And so, John continues hunting for leads on Azazel while remaining blissfully unaware of the events taking place under his nose.
Once Uriel was gone, Dean rounded sharply on Castiel. "What's going on, Cas? Since when does Uriel put a leash on you?"
Castiel turned away. He looked ashamed. "My superiors have begun to question my sympathies."
Castiel inhaled. "I was getting too close to the humans in my charge." Dean stopped breathing. "You, even to your brother. They feel I've begun to express emotions, the doorways to doubt. This can impair my judgment."
It took a while for Dean to snap out of the words 'close' and 'you'. "So they knock you down the ladder and put Uriel in charge? The demotion—doesn't it get your loincloth in a twist?"
"It is what it is to be." Castiel's voice sounded gruffer than usual, the only indication that he was just as unhappy with the change in arrangement as Dean was.
"Well, tell Uriel or whoever—you do not want me doing this, trust me." Before Dean knew it, he was begging. He never begged but for this he would. He left Hell months ago and didn't look back—well, tried not to look back anyway. Even the nightmares, though gruesome and unbearable, were nothing compared to what he had done, what he was about to do.
Castiel looked almost as torn as Dean felt, but that couldn't be right. He was an angel. And angels were robotic douchebags with wings. "Want it? No," he said. "But I have been told we need it."
Dean could feel the argument slipping through his fingers like water. "Cas, you ask me to open that door and walk through it... " he pleaded, "... you will not like what walks back out.”
If he hadn't been watching Castiel closely Dean was sure he would've missed the gulp. The very fact that Castiel—Mr. High and Mighty Angel of the Lord himself—was nervous scared Dean almost as much as what he was being asked to do. He hadn’t realized how much he came to trust Castiel as his sole lighthouse until that moment. He couldn't even trust Sam anymore, not when he was running into fucking Ruby’s arms every chance he got.
"You know what we're all fighting for. And dying for. You know what will happen if we fail,” said Castiel. He sighed, sounding like a being who carried the weight of the sky on his shoulders as Atlas did. Dean was beginning to hate the sound of it; it agitated him and made him restless. It reminded him too much of Caspar. "For what it's worth, I would give anything not to have you do this."
Dean closed his eyes and despite the rest of his head screaming at him to get the fuck out of there now!, he knew what he had to do. It was the last thing he ever thought he'd do now that he was topside again, but he—it was weird; horrible, but weird—he almost felt obligated to.
How's that for fucked up?
"I need a few things," he relented.
Castiel nodded but he didn't look any happier about the turn of events than Dean. He looked just as defeated as Dean felt.
“Tomorrow’s a big day,” Sam sings. He plops down on the couch, forcibly squeezing himself between Dean and Castiel.
Dean’s glare is sharp and threatening. “Sammy—”
"And," Sam interrupts, nearly shouting now to make his voice heard, "You know what that means."
"Um," Castiel replies.
"Don't answer him, Cas," says Dean gently, reaching over to pat his shoulder in a reassuring manner. To Sam, however, he says harshly, "You, shut the fuck up."
Sam blinks and the action is far too innocent, even for his chubby, youthful face. "What? I'm just saying you guys haven't really had a proper date since you got together and Valentine's Day totally the perfect day to fix that."
Castiel concedes that Sam has a point. Between hunts and everything else he and Dean haven't exactly been 'going out', as Sam calls it. He has a fairly good grasp of what a date entails, though, having watched countless numbers of couples walk by him every day. Couples hold hands when they walk together, talk about the most mundane things just because they can, laugh together, kiss each other, and say "I love you".
He and Dean have yet to say those three simple but heavy words to each other. Castiel knows that Dean is not the kind of person who shows affection freely, especially not in public. Even in private it usually takes a bit of effort on his part but Castiel doesn't mind. It's just how Dean is and he admires him all the same.
"Besides," Sam continues, drawing Castiel out of his musing, "It's been, what, a month? That's like, a whole freakin' year for Dean. You should totally celebrate; get out of the room a little while."
"I can't believe you're telling us to have a monthversary," Dean groans. "Seriously, how gay can you get?"
"The fact that you even know what a monthversary is makes you even more gay."
"How does this... 'monthversary' work?" Castiel suddenly asks.
Sam is instantly crowding what Dean labeled as Castiel's 'personal space', a devious grin on his face and a rather troubling glint in his eyes. "It's like a date except more special."
"Sam, stop filling his head with—"
"Okay," says Sam. "When you're on a date, you normally go to the movies and have dinner. Or have dinner and then go to the movies. Either way works but no matter what, you gotta have both. It's like the sacred rule of dating or something."
"Big talk coming from a twerp who's never been on a date before."
"Dean, I know where you keep your Casa Erotica mags and I still have the lighter Dad gave me when I was ten. Do you see where I'm going with this?"
Dean closes his mouth but makes a show of gritting his teeth.
Sam smiles sweetly at him. "Anyway, that's a normal date. Now, on an anniversary you can do all that, too, but you gotta make it special. Like, go to a five-star restaurant instead of a normal restaurant; things like that to show the other person how much you love them."
Dean's left eye twitches.
Castiel is still lost. "I still don't understand."
Dean suddenly jumps up from the couch. "I'm gonna go for a beer," he announces, sending a particularly venomous glare at the still smiling Sam. "Cas, you're coming with me."
"No, Cas is staying here. He needs to be educated."
"Not by you."
"Did I mention that I still haven't told Dad about that time you scratched the Impala?"
"... Fuck you, Sam."
Dean stalks to the door, throws it open with so much force Castiel half-expects it to fall off its hinges, slams the door closed and stalks out of sight.
Castiel feels as if Jimmy's heart just dropped to the pit of his stomach. It isn’t a pleasant sensation. "He isn't pleased."
Sam shakes his head. "He's not a touchy-feely guy," he admits.
"Then why do you insist on putting him in this situation?"
"Because," says Sam forcefully. "you're the first person Dean really likes.”
"I don't think so," Castiel says doubtfully. The nights when Dean frequently comes back to their motel rooms shrouded in the lingering smell of all kinds of perfumes are still fresh in his mind. "If I recall correctly, he's been with many other people before me."
"Yeah, well, you're the first one he's not gonna treat as a one-night stand. Ugh, I can't believe I just said that, now I'll never get the mental image out of my head."
"My point is, you guys totally deserve something special for... well, what you have.”
Dean comes back reeking of beer, but he’s surprisingly sober. “Well?” he asks Castiel. “What kind of horrors did Sammy subject you to?” He settles down on the couch, leaning comfortably against Castiel’s side.
He wraps his arm around Dean’s shoulder and pulls him closer, just because he can. “We have a date tomorrow to celebrate our monthversary,” he declares proudly.
Dean wrinkles his nose in disgust. “You do realize that technically our monthversary was a week ago, right? Not that I’m actually counting or anything,” he adds hastily.
Castiel chuckles and presses a light kiss at the top of his head. “It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow anyway. We should take advantage of this occasion.”
“Is that you or Sam speaking?”
Dean smiles fondly. “Fine, if it makes you happy,” he yawns, getting up. “Come on, up.” He slaps Castiel lightly on the leg.
“Time for bed. Let’s go.”
“I don’t require sleep.”
“No, see,” says Dean, as if he were talking to a small child, “It’s not about whether you need it or not, it’s about being comfortable. Now are you telling me you’d rather sit here all night when you could be lying in bed with me?” He raises his eyebrows, smirking playfully at him.
Castiel admits that he brings up a very good argument. “I suppose,” he answers, following Dean up from the couch and to the bedroom he shares with Sam.
“Alright,” whispers Dean, so as not to wake Sam in the other bed. “First, you gotta take off your coat, tie, shoes, and socks.”
Castiel readily obeys. “And now?” he prompts.
“And now, you lie down on the bed and count sheep until Mr. Sandman comes. I’m just gonna wash up and by the time I get back you better be comfortable or else... ” Leaving that ominous threat in the air, he disappears in the bathroom.
Castiel lies down on the bed, just as he was told, but it feels awkward and not comfortable at all.
When Dean returns he lets out an amused snort. “You’re too stiff—and not in a good way.”
“I don’t understand that reference.”
Dean laughs softly. “Don’t worry about it.” He slips under the covers and throws the blanket over both of them until their heads are nearly completely hidden underneath the scratchy fabric, away from the rest of the world. Dean then tugs Castiel to face him until they’re nose to nose.
Dean’s eyes are dancing with something that looks like amusement and affection. He leans forward to kiss Castiel, slowly and lazily, drawing the moment out for as long as possible. When he finally, regrettably, pulls away, he whispers, “‘Night, Cas.”
Dean falls asleep almost immediately and soon the only company Castiel is left with is the melody of Dean’s breaths in sync with his heart.
“Is it true? Did I break the first seal? Did I start all this?”
He wanted Castiel to lie, to say that Alastair was lying because demons lie.
Except when the truth hurts the most.
Besides, the angel seemed incapable of lying. Castiel looked at him with mournful eyes. “Yes.” That simple, innocent word pierced Dean like an arrow, more painful than anything Alastair could’ve done to him. “When we discovered Lilith’s plan for you we laid siege to Hell and we fought our way to get to you before you—”
“Jump-started the apocalypse.”
Castiel looked away from him, staring up at the ceiling as if it held all the answers in the universe. “It's not blame that falls on you, Dean, it's fate. The Righteous Man who begins it is the only one who can finish it. You have to stop it.”
No, no, NO! “Well, then you guys are screwed. I can't do it, Cas. It's too big.” That was an understatement. “Alastair was right. I'm not all here. I'm not strong enough.” I’m not strong at all. “Well, I guess I'm not the man either of our dads wanted me to be.” I’m a failure.
“Find someone else,” said Dean. His voice was beginning to crack. He could feel the tears brimming on the edges of his eyes and the last person he wanted to see him like this was Castiel so he turned his head away. “It's not me.”
Castiel stared at him as he cried (like a little fucking girl) but there was no judgment or pity behind those eyes, just sorrow. The angel didn’t leave for a long time, staying until Dean fell asleep. He knew this because the last thing he remembered before succumbing to his dreams was Castiel’s calloused hands wrapping around his in a tight grip.
The next day is a flurry of activities, starting with Sam waking up at what Dean called “fucking crap o’clock” and not leaving Dean’s side until he was up as well. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you’re more excited for our date than I am,” Dean teased.
“Nah, I’m just happy that I’ll have the whole house to myself today.”
Sam practically pushes them out the door and into the Impala, with Castiel at the wheel and Dean on the passenger side, much to his dismay. “So where are we going today?” he asks once Sam’s back in the motel room.
Castiel turns the key in the ignition and goes over the instructions Sam gave him. “It’s a surprise,” he answers cryptically, sending Dean a small grin.
The surprise becomes clear to Dean when they pull up at the packed parking lot of an amusement park. “Oh my God,” Dean guffaws. “Can Sammy get any gayer?”
“Is this not to your liking?” Castiel asks, worried. Sam assured him that going to the park was the perfect choice for a date but to be honest, Castiel would much rather do whatever Dean wanted. If Dean suddenly decided that he wanted to go on a drive instead, Castiel knew he would let him in an instant.
It occurs to him how ridiculous he is for being so far gone for Dean in such a short period of time.
Or maybe, says the Jimmy voice in the deeper recesses of his mind, you’ve been gone for him since you met him.
That’s... a very long time.
Dean shakes his head, still laughing. “No, this is fine.” He turns to Castiel with a bright smile, which is almost as bright as the light in his eyes. “Lead the way, Cas.”
In theory, Castiel is the one who is supposed to lead Dean through the park. In reality, it’s Dean who does the leading, dragging him to all the rides (except for the merry-go-round, explaining that it’s only for Sam and small children), pays for their food, and convinces Castiel to use his ‘mojo’ to win them prizes from the game booths.
When Castiel protests, Dean patiently explains that they are all rigged anyway and therefore Castiel has the right to use his powers. He ends up winning a giant teddy bear, a dozen small dolls, and a goldfish that Dean christened ‘Chad’.
Truthfully, Castiel sees no point in these games but they seem to delight Dean and that alone is enough reason for him to continue playing them.
They spend the rest of the day at the park—going on all the rides a second, third, and fourth time, gorging shamelessly on the food, and simply basking in each other’s presence.
At some point Dean gently brushes his hand against Castiel’s and curls their fingers together, ignoring the incredulous stares and a few outright glares directed at them. But that isn’t what Castiel is concerned about. The feel of Dean’s right hand in his has changed slightly. There is something cold and metallic on his fourth finger, a stark contrast to the rest of his warm hand. Castiel looks down and smiles.
Dean is wearing the ring he gave him at Christmas.
He squeezes Dean’s hand and feels a small burst of joy when Dean squeezes back.
All the while the sky gradually goes from sunny blue to pale orange. It finally melts into deep navy blue, which would otherwise look completely black if it weren’t for the endless stars dotting the Heavens.
Castiel spares a moment to grieve in nostalgia. It’s been a long, long time since he was in Heaven. He misses the warmth of his family’s song, the love that glowed everywhere he went, the love that was always wrapped securely around his being, promising to never let go.
There’s a void in him now, a void that the voices of his brothers and sisters always filled. At least until he rebelled. But now—Castiel turns to look at Dean’s profile, which is bathed in a palette of soft colors from the rainbow of lights surrounding them—now, the ache in his Grace, the yearning for his home, has dissolved into something less severe.
It’s been replaced by Dean Winchester himself.
“Hey, Cas,” he says suddenly, turning to Castiel with a smile on his face. “thanks. Um, for today. I… I enjoyed it.”
They’re currently sitting on the hood of the Impala, having grown bored of the park a long time ago but not quite ready to leave yet. The trunk is filled to the brim with their spoils of the day. They liberated Chad the goldfish into a small pond in a nearby park a while ago.
“I’m glad,” replies Castiel. “but don’t thank me yet.”
“You mean there’s more?” Dean asks, mostly surprised but also impressed. “What else do you have up your sleeve, Cas?”
Castiel grins and tips his head upwards. “Just watch.”
Within seconds the sky erupts in an explosion of lights. Dean gasps in shock but his eyes never leave the meteor shower. Some distance away a group of college students suddenly bursts out in cheers. There is another group of people a little further away who breaks out in song. Everywhere Castiel looks people are stopping to stare in awe.
“Now you can thank me,” he tells Dean, not bothering to hide the pride in his voice.
Dean stares at him for a few seconds before tackling him and pressing frantic kisses all over him.
Eventually, they navigate themselves to the back of the Impala, with Dean pulling his lips away from Castiel’s very briefly to lock the door behind him.
“I take it that you enjoyed our date today?” asks Castiel.
Dean scoffs, “You’re way too smug, you know that?” He transfers his mouth from Castiel’s to his neck, biting and sucking hard enough to elicit a moan from him. “But I guess you deserve a reward,” he teases, sitting up.
A spark of pure, unadulterated desire flashes in Dean’s eyes. “Yeah,” he breathes, like he can’t believe they’ve come to this. He reaches for Castiel’s pants zipper. “Can I… ?”
“Yes.” That simple, innocent word has barely left Castiel’s lips when Dean quickly unzips his pants and pulls them—along with his boxers—down to his knees. He pauses; he’s silent but the question in his eyes is hard to ignore.
Castiel nods, though he’s not entirely certain what he’s giving permission for. But he stops thinking soon enough when Dean’s warm, warm hand wraps around his cock.
Chapter Seven →