Note: A few people pointed out an error in my writing that needs to be addressed for the story make sense. If they meet at the clinic, then why must they wait five years? Don't they know they are soulmates? First off, the reason the times between meeting soulmates is staggered is because everyone goes to one place to find out, and by staggering the times it makes sure there isn't an overload of people finding out at once. This is just the way it's always been because it makes it a commonplace rendezvous point so people aren't wandering the country trying to find their match. Also Dean and Cas can't be 100% sure they are true soulmates until they meet in that room, so they go along with the five year gap. [Also it was just how I broke up the fic for changing POV and didn't think anything of it.]

I'm still really new to fic writing and it was really late when I wrote this, so I didn't catch that plot hole; I'm sorry if I confused anyone!

1826d 15h 03m 08s

"Dean Winchester and Castiel Novak?"

Dean looks up from his phone when his name is called. The woman at the front desk is eyeing him harshly and beckons a finger at him to come over. With a heavy sigh he pushes up from his chair and joins her at the front of the room, eyeing all the others in the crowded space. A sea of other sixteen year old boys stand before him, waiting to get branded with their watches in different states of emotion. Dean notices one boy to his right whose face is red as a tomato, worrying the fray of his shirt to pieces. Another boy to his left is tapping his fingers annoyingly against the plastic seat arm rest, constantly running a hand through his hair. And of course there are the boys like Dean who think this whole operation is a huge waste of time, that soulmates do not exist, and that this whole 'countdown until you meet your one true love' thing is just a conspiracy so people don't end up alone. You can tell who they are because they sit with a look of loathing on their face, slouched back in their chairs, probably thinking up of a thousand ways they can escape from here. Dean would know, because that's exactly what he's doing right now.

He almost forgets that all the boys go in to get branded two at a time until another one from the crowd joins him. The boy next to him looks like everything Dean is not. He's wearing skinny jeans and a beanie for one thing, while Dean is clothed in an ACDC shirt and his dad's leather jacket. He has dark rimmed glasses that are halfway down his nose and a Starbucks cup in his hand, and Dean chugged a beer in his dad's Impala before driving here. Also unlike Dean, this kid looks actually excited to get branded, a light smile on his lips as his eyes catch Dean's.

"Would you come with me, boys?" the woman asks in a monotone voice as she walks away, apparently assuming the two will follow.

Dean looks over at the other kid who just shrugs at him, walking quickly after the receptionist. And since he still can't find a decent escape plan out of here [and since it is government mandated, after all] Dean follows grudgingly, his feet dragging on the wooden floors.

The room he enters is terrifying. Devices he doesn't even have a name for lay out on the table, everything pointy and sterile looking. The room is stark white, the only adornment on the walls being a first aid kit. Only one examination table is in the room which the hipster kid has already claimed, laying across the crinkly paper with his feet kicked up in the air. He looks totally at ease, besides the fact that he keeps wringing his hands.

Dean doesn't get a chance to say a word to the other boy before a doctor comes into the room, a woman who Dean has to admit is gorgeous with her ebony skin and bright hazel eyes.

"Are you Dean?" she asks in a singsong voice, and Dean almost forgets his name for a few seconds.

"Uh, yes?" he asks tentatively, debating if it would be inappropriate to ask her out once this is all over.

She smiles back at him. "I'm Dr. Cassie Robinson and I will be taking care of you and Castiel today. If you don't mind I will take care of Castiel first, and then you second. But in order to keep things private, I would appreciate it if you stepped outside for a minute. The branding will only take a moment or so, if you don't mind."

Dean tries to form words, but he only ends up babbling. No woman has made him turn into this mush before, so he just awkwardly stumbles out the door.

"Get yourself together, Winchester," he mutters. He leans back against the wall and breathes out, frustration building in him. Another reason for why he hates this system pops into his mind: the virtual absence of dating after you get branded, because what is the point if that person's number doesn't match yours? You're obviously not going to end up with them, so what's the point? Dean doesn't even get a chance with that beautiful doctor because their numbers won't match, and she wouldn't be interested in a guy that isn't her future partner.

But Dean doesn't get to mull it over any longer before the hipster kid walks out. Blue numbers now glow on his forearm, flashing like a clock should. 1826d 15h 03m 08s. That's how long this kid has until he meets his soulmate, and now its Dean's turn to find out. The thought makes his stomach turn.

Dr. Robinson pokes her head out after the hipster kid leaves and beckons him into the room, the devices already at hand. He sits quietly as she injects the clock into his arm, only a little sting occurring when the needle enters his skin. Within a blink of an eye, Dean has a clock's numbers glowing through his skin, the numbers reading 1826d 15h 03m 08s.

Wait...1826d 15h 03m 08s? Why do those numbers sound familiar?

"You're all set!" Dr. Robinson says happily, running her fingers over Dean's forearm. "1826d 15h 03m 08s. That's about five years from now, so you've still got some time. Don't worry about it, Dean. Whoever they are I'm sure they will be everything you've ever dreamed of."

Dean mutters a 'thank you' to her before he leaves the room and catches a glimpse of her watch. She only has about a week left until she meets her soulmate, and Dean feels a twinge of jealousy. Even though he still thinks this is all a load of crap, that when the timer chimes five years from now he will just be standing alone, he still wonders what will happen if someone else is waiting for him. Who will it be? What will they be like? He can't help but wonder.

"So, how long do you have left?"

Dean jumps as he turns around in the hall. The hipster kid is leaning against the wall, his watch's light glowing bright against his skin.

"1826 days," Dean replies. "What's it to ya?"

The other boy tilts his head in a birdlike fashion, throwing him a confused look. "I'm sorry, did you say 1826 days?"


The other kid just laughs. "That's the same date for me too. Who knows, maybe we're soulmates or something."

"Sorry, kid. You're not really my type," Dean says with a slight grin.

"Oh yeah? Then what is your type?"

"Not scrawny hipster guys, that's for sure. Maybe if you gained some muscle, we could talk."

"Ouch, you wound me."

"I don't even know you; I can't wound you."

"Do you want to?" the guy asks.

"Want to what?" Dean asks back.

"Know me?"

"Why would I want to do that?" Dean says with a smirk.

"Because I'm horribly interesting and I'm intrigued with you."

"What's your name, anyway?" Dean asks. "I feel weird referring to you as 'weird hipster kid' in my head."

"Oh so you think about me?" the kid says with a impish grin.

"Oh, shut up," Dean says back. "If you're going to be that way, I will just leave you here and we can never cross paths again."

"Fine. My name is Castiel Novak. What's yours?"

Dean laughs. "Castiel? Is that a real name?"

"Hey! It's biblical! And you never answered my question."

"My name is Dean Winchester," he replies back.


"And what?"

"And who exactly is Dean Winchester?" Castiel asks, closing the space between them.

"Well, I'm an Aquarius, I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach and frisky women."

"Is that a flirtation?" Castiel says with a slight grin.

Dean just leans against the wall with a little smirk. "It could be. Want to grab some coffee and find out, Cas?"

"Cas? Is that my nickname now?"

"Well, it is a whole lot easier than saying Castiel every time I speak to you. So Cas, you in or not?"

Cas just grins and starts walking down the hallway. "Let's go, Winchester."

1460d 23h 59m 59s

Beep. Congratulations. You are four years away from meeting your soulmate.

The watches go off simultaneously at midnight while Cas and Dean are stretched out under the stars. Dean somehow convinced Cas that watching the meteor shower could only be done properly if they were out of the city, so they end up sprawled out in an abandoned field about a half hour outside of the city limits. Dean keeps whispering little facts to Cas about the stars, but he doesn't want to hear Dean's voice right now. Everything about the night sky is entrancing, pulling him into their majestic glow.

"Four years. You feeling nervous yet?"

Cas rolls over to look the Winchester in the eye. "Nervous? Clearly you have learned nothing about me from this past year, Dean. I don't get scared."

Dean laughs gruffly, pushing Cas' shoulder lightly. "Oh c'mon, Cas, you know that's not true. What about the time last week when we encountered that garden snake? You seemed pretty worked up then."

"Pssh. Everyone is afraid of snakes, Dean. That doesn't count."

"I'm not afraid of snakes; no clue what you're talking about boy."

Cas just sighs, rolling over so he is once against staring at the bright orbs of light in the sky. "Four years is still far away; I would prefer not to think about it until then if you don't mind."

Dean shoves up from the ground and scooches over towards Cas. "Really? You never think about it at all? It never bothers you that one day you will turn around, and the person you're going to love forever will be standing there, ready to take your love with open arms and never look back?"

That catches his attention. He can't believe he's hearing this right now. Ever since he met Dean a year ago, all he's heard from him is about how stupid this whole thing is, how it is all a scam. The countless theories about government conspiracy run through his mind as he looks on this man, wondering where his cynical friend Dean Winchester went to.

"Excuse me, but who are you and what have you done with Dean?" Cas says with a smirk, rolling his eyes over to Dean's clearly dazed face. "You on something?"

The gaze he gives Cas is absolutely smouldering, and Cas finds himself looking away from the intense look. Maybe he did do some heavy drinking before they came out here.

"You know, a guy could have a change of heart. I guess the idea of not being alone forever has grown on me."

"Dean, people don't have changes of heart in two days time. What gives?"

Dean wrings his hands together nervously, avoiding Cas' gaze. It makes him nervous because he's never seen Dean like this, looking all wonderstuck.

Finally, he speaks. "Okay, fine. I met someone who has the same countdown number as me, and man, they are really somethin'."

His stomach does a little flip when Dean says the words because who else could he be talking about but Cas? Of course the thought had crossed Cas' mind plenty of times before now; it can't be pure coincidence that Dean and him have matching numbers to the second, but he won't let his hopes get the better of him. Because if he is being honest with himself, he has developed quite the little crush on the Winchester over the past year. He really can't put his finger on what draws him to Dean. Maybe it is those green eyes that shine like the grass beneath their feet; maybe it is the way he throws his head back with rapturous laughter anytime Cas makes a lame joke. Possibly it is the way he gets overly protective of his little brother Sam, who is only fourteen years old. It could be the because Dean is a beacon of light in his life that Cas didn't know he needed until he met the Winchester, and he never wishes to let him go. Even though he will never admit it, he can't imagine Dean not being the person who he will find at the end of the countdown, and he's pretty sure he will be devastated if it is someone else waiting for him.

All of this passes through Cas' head in an instant, and he plays it off with a slight shrug and smile. "Yeah? And who are they?"

"...I actually met her at school a few days ago. Her name is Lisa Braeden and she's a gorgeous brunette..."

Dean says more but Cas stops listening, because he is too busy trying to hold himself together. Another person has the exact same time as them, down to the second? Its enough of a coincidence that Dean and Cas have the same times, but now this girl does too? What if she is meant to be with Dean instead of him? Cas starts to sweat nervously and doesn't even hear Dean calling his name until he gets a light punch in the gut.

"Cas, were you even listening to me at all? Wait, are you okay?"

Cas has to look horrible because Dean's face looks legitimately concerned, that little crease between his eyes appearing as he gets closer to Cas.

"I-" he stammers, getting up quickly. "I'll be fine. I just thought-I-it's nothing. I just need to go."

Cas doesn't even look back as he stumbles to his car, jumping inside and peeling out onto the road, all while Dean screams his name.

1095d 12h 09m 11s

It's a year later and Dean still feels horrible about lying to Cas. He replays the scene over in his head again and again, desperately wishing he could go back and change it all. You see, there was a Lisa Braeden and she was gorgeous, but her timer didn't match Dean's. He just said that because he chickened out on his original plan. He wanted to tell Cas that he liked him, really liked him, maybe even had a crush on him, but he stopped and made up the lie last minute. He had no clue the effect it would have on Cas, that Cas would basically panic and run away, and then avoid Dean at all costs. It crushed Dean inside to see Cas be all awkward around him, only muttering small comments to him when they were together, and he absolutely cringed inside when Cas stopped hanging out with Dean all together about five months ago.

However, all of those thoughts leave his mind as he pulls up to the clinic where he sat two years ago today, only this time its not his turn. Sam sits in the passenger seat of the Impala, clearly nervous. His hands are sweating profusely and he keeps wiping them off on his jeans, leaving sweaty marks down the thighs. In a ruling at the beginning of the year they changed the age limit from sixteen to fifteen, so Sam has to get branded with the other fifteen year old boys today. The girls went last weekend and apparently were running around school all week comparing numbers, which only turned most of the boys into heaps of nerves.

"You're going to be fine," Dean says calmly, looking over at his brother. Sam looks like a deer in the headlights as he stares at the clinic, his back as straight as a board and his feet tapping against the floor.

"This is one of the biggest days of my life, Dean. I'm anything but okay."

Dean lightly punches Sam's arm [because he really doesn't know what else to do; emotions were never his strong point] and leans across his body to open the door. "The procedure is painless and the nerves go away pretty quickly once you're in the examination room. You have nothing to worry about, Sammy. I promise I won't let you get hurt."

Sam scoffs as he pushes out of the Impala and forward towards the building. "Sammy? You haven't called me that since I was eleven. You must be really worried."

"How can I not be?" Dean says as he follows Sam into the building. "You're my brother and like you said, this is a huge day for you. Of course I'm worried, but that doesn't mean you have to be. Mine is just big brother reflex kicking in; you're growing up too fast for me."

"I'm fifteen, Dean. I can take care of myself you know."

"Yeah, you just tell yourself that. You'd be lost without me and you know it."

Sam smiles at Dean as he checks in at the front desk, Dean opting to take a seat with the other parents against the far wall. He doesn't even see that familiar face until he hears the voice.

"Hello, Dean."

Dean jumps and turns to find Cas sitting right next to him, his face buried in a magazine. He doesn't even give Dean the slightest glance, just continues on as he was before.

"...Cas? What are you doing here?" Dean asks confusedly.

Cas just softly laughs. "Have you forgotten everything about me already? Gabe is here getting branded right now. He should be out in about five minutes."

Dean should laugh back, but the air is too thick with tension between them. Every single time he thought about reconciling with Cas, he always imagined it being this huge graceful moment where Dean would beg for Cas' forgiveness, would explain everything, would finally admit that he's got a crush the size of Texas on Cas, and that he wishes with everything in his soul that him and Cas are destined to be together, but all he's got is this overcrowded room and his brother sitting across from him.

"Cas-" Dean begins, but he gets cut off by a hand gesture.

"Dean, you don't need to explain anything. Clearly my thoughts about what we are and aren't were incorrect, and I'm sure you've got a beautiful girl on your arm now. Its nothing, really."

"This really isn't the place to talk about this; can I please just have five minutes with you to explain everything?"

Cas looks up from that magazine and finally sets it aside, really giving Dean a good look for the first time. His sapphire blue eyes look older somehow, aged over the past five months of non communication between them. Cas is only a mere eighteen years of age but looks like he's at least twenty five now, lines that weren't there before now surrounding his eyes. Behind those rimmed glasses that Dean has come to love so much lay eyes that look so sad Dean's heart breaks. What happened to his Cas?

"I guess that could be arranged," Cas says coldly, his words so formal it is like talking to a total stranger.

"Can we go outside?" Dean asks.

Cas just wordlessly gets up and expects Dean to follow, out the doors and over to his beat up looking 1970 Mustang. He unlocks the doors and motions for Dean to join him inside, which he does without hesitation. When they are both situated inside the car, Dean doesn't waste any time letting the words fly.

"Cas, I'm so sorry about what happened last year," Dean begins in a rush, ignoring Cas' little hand gesture for him to stop. "It was stupid, and I lied to you, and I hurt you which I never wanted to do. You're my best friend and I've missed you so much, and I just wish every day I could go back and tell past me to shut the hell up-"

"Wait wait wait," Cas cuts him off. "Slow down, Dean. You lied to me? About what?"

"You know what I said about Lisa having the same countdown number as me? It was a lie, Cas. A huge, stupid, big lie to hide the fact that I like you a lot more than I should."

Silence. Dean expects Cas to burst forward, to accuse him of being a horrible human being, or maybe telling Dean that he felt the same way, but all he gets is Cas staring forward, totally expressionless as he looks out the window.

Then, after what feels like an eternity, Cas finally speaks and its like the past year didn't happen, like Cas and Dean are still stargazing on the night he ruined everything.

"You bastard."

Dean just smiles because that's the Cas he knows, the one whose insults show his forgiveness.

"Does that mean you forgive me?" Dean asks with a smile.

Cas hesitates, that small smile that makes Dean's stomach flip materializing on his lips. "You like me? Really?"

"More than I ever anticipated, yes. You're special, Cas."

Cas just laughs a bit. "Well, even after all that went down I still like you too, so I guess I can forgive you."

Dean's face lights up. "Well then can we just start over? My name is Dean Winchester. I'm eighteen and not going to lie, sometimes I can be a real ass to the people I care about."

"If we're starting over, then I'm Castiel Novak, also eighteen and sometimes I get worked up over nothing and push away people I really like."

Dean just smiles. "Well then, nice to meet you, Novak."

Cas grins. "Same to you, Winchester."

730d 23h 59m 19s

"Dean, I love you."

Cas voices the words to an empty room as his watch goes off. Beep. Congratulations. You are two years away from meeting your soulmate.

Two years. How had the time passed so quickly? It was like the realities of time and space didn't exist when he was around Dean. They got lost in each other so easily. Dean could be talking about anything and it would pull Cas in, and then the next thing he knows hours have passed. After their reconciliation at the clinic last year, they didn't waste any time making up for lost hours spent together. They said they would start over, so they did. Cas relearned everything he knew about Dean, and Dean did the same to him. They spent their days relearning the little things that make the other tick, such as how when he is angry Dean's jaw clenches tightly and you can almost hear his teeth grinding on one another, or how his eyes flash when someone insults a person he cares about. Cas became accustomed to all the little parts of Dean that make him who he is, like how he sings offkey to the oldies station when they are in the car together, how he taps his fingers on his leg when he's restless or worrying, or Cas' favorite little quirk, the way a room can light up when it receives one of Dean's rare smiles.

All of these things only made Cas realize that his little crush on the Winchester is much bigger than he ever anticipated. People don't stay up at night and plan their lives out with a person over little crushes; people don't spend every waking hour with someone in their mind who is just a crush; people don't sit around and long for the company of someone who is just a fling to them.

That's how Cas comes to the realization that he loves that Winchester, the one with the emerald eyes and the freckles, the one whose body shakes with laughter whenever Cas tells a lame joke. He loves the boy whose words run like honey off this tongue, whose thoughts are so profound Cas wonders why this boy can't see his own brilliance. He loves Dean Winchester, the one who would sacrifice himself for his loved ones any day, the one who geeks out over Vonnegut and Game of Thrones, the one who is a thousand levels of beauty and grace, the one whose bones shine with the galaxies and whose eyes reflect the sun and stars.

And yet, Cas is still afraid to voice this all out loud to Dean. Even though he knows in the deepest reaches of his soul that Dean is the one for him, that lingering doubt still pops up in his mind every time he considers telling Dean the truth. Because what at the end of all of this their suspicions are wrong? What if that day comes when both of their watches chime, telling them to turn around and meet their true soulmate, and some other person is standing there? The possibility is real in this vast world, but Cas has a ridiculously hard time even thinking about that possibility. A world without Dean Winchester in his life is one Cas has no desire to live.

As if the Winchester can read his mind, Cas' phone starts chiming in his hand. 'Carry on My Wayward Son' starts blaring loudly, the ringtone he chose for Dean.

"Hey Dean," Cas says as he paces the room, running a hand through his hair. "What's up?"

"Two years," he says. "You getting nervous yet?"

Cas just laughs lightly. "You ask me this every year and the answer doesn't change. No, Dean. I'm not nervous and I never will be. I've got a pretty good idea of who will be waiting for me."

"Oh yeah, and what are they like?"

Damn. He walked right into that one, didn't he. Cas' mind races with the possibilities. He could play this off with a joke, say he's expecting some girl with five eyes or something, or he could be a man about it and tell Dean his true feelings. Honestly, he thinks he's going with the first option until the words start rolling off his tongue, like they've been there for years.

"I see someone who is brave, and kind, and smart. A person whose eyes shine with their inner happiness, someone whose love radiates off their skin. I think of a guy who has the most perfect golden skin, freckles lining his body like constellations in the sky. I see someone who would do anything for their family, a person whose intentions are so pure that their soul radiates goodness. But I also see someone who has their flaws, a guy whose temper flares up in arguments and tends to leave matters unfinished before he walks away. But the flaws don't matter because they make this guy human, even when at times he seems more like an angel. And I know he's going to be standing there waiting for me at the end of all of this, because his name is Dean Winchester and I know we're meant to be."

There. He says it. The words that have been anxious to get out for years are finally out in the open, and Cas has no clue what to expect now. Maybe Dean will think he's crazy, maybe he will not return the feelings at all, or maybe, just maybe, he will come back with an equally passionless declaration of love and the two of them will run off together, ignore this whole soulmate business and make a life for themselves on their own.

But all Cas gets is deafening silence, a buzzing emptiness.

And then after about a minute of waiting, the click of a disconnected line.

"Should have gone with the five eyed woman," Cas mutters to himself, before he drops the phone and crawls into his bed, falling into a dreamless sleep with fresh tears on his cheeks.

365d 23h 59m 55s

Beep. Congratulations. You are one year away from meeting your soulmate.

"Ha, one year. Can you believe it?" Dean says as he rolls over to Cas who is scribbling harshly in a notebook.

"Dean, our final exams are in exactly twelve hours. I don't have time for this right now, and you still owe me from last year, remember?"

Of course Dean remembers; he could never forget Cas' declaration of love for Dean, how Cas' words turned him speechless that night, made him turn into a puddle of uselessness because he couldn't articulate the feelings back. He couldn't stop regretting the way he handled the situation, ending the phone call without saying a word, letting Cas wait for an answer until Dean finally confronted him and spewed out every word he'd ever held back, turning into more of a chick flick than he ever wanted to admit.

"Fine, I'll shut up...if you give me a kiss first."

Cas looks over at Dean with that little smirk he's come to love over the years. "Will it quiet you down so I can study?"

Dean only nods.

Then with a playful sigh, Cas crosses the space between them and leans in gently, laying a hand behind Dean's head and lacing his fingers through his hair, and closes the space with a warm kiss that makes Dean's stomach flip, those warm lips he has come to know well filling him with butterflies.

And when Cas pulls away, Dean can feel his face flushing red while Cas just laughs at him. "Don't get riled up on me so easily, Winchester, or else I will have to abandon my studies for you."

"Eh, I wouldn't mind that," Dean says lightly, pushing Cas back towards his books, "but I won't be the reason you fail tomorrow. Go on; study and I will be on my best behavior; promise."

And so he does; Dean sits against Cas' bed while the other man studies, reliving that fateful moment a year ago that changed everything between them.

Dean doesn't know how to respond. Cas loves him? It isn't like he doesn't return the feelings; he's known for quite some time now that the Novak has taken over his life in more ways than one, that he really can't see himself living a life without Cas at his side. So why doesn't he just say it? Why won't the words come out, why can't he just say 'I love you too, Cas?' The silence is deafening as Cas awaits an answer on the other line, so Dean does the stupidest thing he can think of in that moment; he hangs up without saying a word.

His heart is racing fast. He knows he only has a short amount of time to get this right before Cas goes back into his shell, tries to play this all off as a joke. He was never good with words but now would have to be the time to start, so he grabs a pen and piece of paper from the office and sits down on his bed, scribbling anything that comes to mind. At first the going is rough; he pens '100 Things I Love about Castiel Novak' at the top, but only writes 'He has an amazing smile' or 'His teeth are really straight". 'Really, Winchester? he thinks to himself, crumpling up the paper for a different approach. He paces the room for thoughts of what he is going to do, and he can only think of one solution that would fix everything, make Cas see that Dean loves him back, that he also can't imagine a life without Cas in it.

In an act of pure impulse, Dean grabs the keys to the Impala off the coat rack and runs outside, not even caring that its well past midnight and that he probably just woke up his entire family. He doesn't even hesitate as him revs up the car and peels out of the neighborhood, driving well over the speed limit towards the Novak household across the river. The spring night blows through his hair as he rolls down the windows, letting any anxiety fly out with the wind. And when Dean pulls up to the Novak's house, he doesn't even pause as he marches up to Cas' window on the first floor and knock loudly, not caring who sees or hears.

It takes a few minutes, but eventually Dean's obnoxious pounding pays off. Lights pop on in Cas' room and his blinds fly open, revealing a red-eyed Cas standing on the other side, throwing Dean a confused head tilt.

Cas wrestles with the window, and when it finally opens Dean doesn't waste any time for small talk.

"Dean?" he asks groggily, but Dean just cuts him off.

"Cas, just let me talk, please."

The Novak just nods at him to continue, so Dean takes a deep breath before beginning. "Cas, I'm sorry I hung up on you but I couldn't tell you this over the phone. Everything you was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. The way you described me...I never thought in a thousand years anyone could see me that way. But I need you to know, Cas, that I feel the exact same way about you. You're...everything to me. A life without you I can't see living, and if its not you who meets me two years from now then I don't know what I will do. I need you, Cas. More than I ever thought I could need someone. And I...I..." Dean stammers, not even able to get the words out. Is it even possible to describe the way he feels about Cas in words?

But he doesn't need to continue because Cas climbs out of his window and throws his arms around Dean, a hug so powerful it almost knocks Dean to the ground.

"I can't live without you either," Cas says, moving his face so it is right in front of Dean's. "Never leave me, Dean Winchester. Swear it."

"I promise, Cas," Dean says in a broken voice. He can't believe he's about to cry right now, but the tears are stinging his eyes and he doesn't know if he can keep them back. Too long he has imagined this moment, and now that it is here he can't hold anything back. "I don't know who will be waiting for me two years from now, but if it isn't you then I don't want to be with them. So let's promise this right now. Run away with me, Cas. If it is someone else, I don't care if they are my soulmate. You're all I want, all I will ever need, so please, Castiel Novak, promise me that you will run with me, no matter what. Run with me and we can see the world. Promise."

Cas leans into him and lays his forehead against Dean's. "I promise," he whispers. "No matter what."

That's all Dean needs. Without giving it a second thought he leans in and closes the space between them, laying a light kiss on Cas' lips. It is absolutely perfect, just the way Dean imagined his first kiss with Cas being. Light as a feather, Cas' lips soft and warm against his own, a low inferno bursting between them. But when Dean opens his eyes, he only grins. Cas looks absolutely stunned, his lips still pursed even after Dean has long pulled away.


Cas hesitates. "...Yes?"

"Was that the first time you've done that?"

Cas blushes profusely, stuttering over his words. "Uh...maybe?"

"It's okay," Dean says lightly, pecking another kiss on Cas' forehead. "Practice makes perfect."

"Dean, are you even listening to me at all?" Cas complains, throwing Dean back into the present.

"Uh I'm sorry Cas, what were you saying?"

The Novak just sighs, pushing Dean lightly. "I said you should probably head back home; I really should get some sleep and that's a little hard if you're occupying my space."

"Aw c'mon, Cas. You know you want me in your bed."

Cas just smiles, grabbing Dean off the floor and unceremoniously pushing him towards his window. "That's beside the point. Go home and get some rest, Dean. I'll see you in the morning."

"Fine, I'm leaving," Dean says as he crawls out the window, jumping the small gap to the ground. "Night, Cas."

The Novak shuts the window on him and throws him a grin. "Night, Dean," he hears through the closed window.

0d 0h 01m 30s

D-day is here and Cas is a nervous wreck. After all the times he told Dean he wouldn't freak out, that he doesn't get nervous, mock him now. Cas is literally shaking in the empty room where he awaits his soulmate, the place where thousands before him have stood and thousands after him will. The clock on the back of the room ticks down the minutes, until only seconds remain.


Cas looks down at the bag at this feet, ready to run if need be. Dean and him have had this all planned out for the past year. If Dean is in another room right now and not outside awaiting Cas, if he turns around and someone else there, the Impala is ready to go in the back alley.


They will run. Run faster than they've ever run before. Getting past security will prove difficult but they're both confident they can do it. They have to; they have no other choice.


Cas tries to focus on the positive now though. Dean has to walk through that door, right? They have to be soulmates. He couldn't feel kinship with anyone else at this point; Dean is his world and he is Dean's. They would be lost without the other, and they both know it.


But that doubt lingers in the back of his mind after all of this time, and he simply can't shake it. If he knew for sure Dean was going to saunter through that door in a few seconds, he wouldn't be shaking this badly now, would he?


This is it. Now or never. Cas tries to calm the vibrating of his hands and attempts to stand still, but his attempts are failing. Can the clock move any slower?


Cas gulps in anticipation.


He wrings his hands and stands his ground.


Click. The door opens with a light scraping against the concrete floor, but Cas can't get himself to turn around and see who awaits him. Footsteps fall behind him and they sound heavy on the ground, almost like the familiar ring of Dean's boots, but he won't let himself hope that, not yet.

When they come to a stop behind him, Cas is sure his heart will give out. That is, until the silence breaks with the only words Cas truly ever expected to hear.

"I thought you said you don't get nervous?"

He spins around and exhales in relief. He doesn't know why he ever doubted it; it's so obvious Dean is the only one for him. The Winchester stands in front of Cas with a huge grin on his face, and doesn't hesitate to pull him into a hug, slightly lifting Cas off the floor.

"Dean?" is all Cas can get out.

Dean lets Cas down and looks into his eyes, the gaze there so loving he almost has to look away. "I always knew it was you."

Cas can't help himself; he grins back and pushes his lips against Dean's, kicking the now useless bag at his feet aside. And between the soft kisses between them, Cas gets out what he's been wanting to say for years.

"Dean Winchester, I love you."

And in typical Dean fashion, he only says one thing. "I know."

That's all he needs. He wraps his hand through Dean's and grabs the bag off the ground, leading him out of the room and into their future. Because this is all Cas ever needed. With Dean, he is free; with Dean, he is home.