Outside, Dean vaguely made out the shape of two sun chairs. It was hard to tell through blurred vision. Whatever it was, Dean collapsed on its side, and buried his head in his arms.
Inside, the beeping stopped.
Dean's crotch continued throbbing, though.
And his mind was still spinning like mad.
Dean couldn't hold back the angry, desperate tears, and began sobbing, quietly, pathetically, wishing he could just disappear forever.
A few stretched minutes later, Dean heard cautious footsteps approaching. Suddenly, he felt so very tired—not so much for his sleeplessness, which would've been more than justified by now, but because he was simply tired of everything.
Cas stopped at his feet.
"Dean", Cas began, sternly. "I'm… sorry."
"Yeah, that's great."
Dean looked up, sulkily, not caring if Cas saw him crying right now.
"You know what, I'm sorry too. But that doesn't change anything. This is just—"
Dean broke off, wiping away a single tear with a fist, unable to finish the sentence. Wrong? Insane? Just a few minutes ago, it hadn't felt anything like that. He lowered his voice to a mere whisper.
"I can't do this, Cas."
Cas stood still. „Then… why are you doing it?"
Dean gave him an angry glance.
Cas looked honestly confused.
"Because", Dean began, but didn't really know an answer to that, either.
He remembered his stupid plan. How could he have been so damn mindless? Had he even believed in it in the first place?
"I don't know", Dean croaked, massaging his temples. "Fuck."
They leaped into silence, the only sounds being the gentle breeze whispering through the door crack, and the rustling trees on the lamp lit street. A distant, muffled bass pulsated not very far from them, probably throbbing inside that beach club where Dean had actually thought he'd be right now. Yeah, that went so damn well.
Dean heard Cas slowly sink down on the chair next to his own, saw him lean forward on his knees from the corner of his eye. He was gazing into the starry night sky, wearing his most profound frown.
"I think I do", Cas said. "I know why I'm doing it."
Dean turned his head to him. "Well, congrats, Cas, but I'm not really in the mood for—"
Dean's mouth shut abruptly. He'd never forget that sight. Cas, sitting there in the moonlight, naked face all lit up, glowing silver. Cas tilted his head and lowered his darkened eyes.
"I like you, Dean. I'm… I'm very fond of you. I've never felt this way before, about anyone or anything. It may be wrong, and the circumstances may stand between us, but I… I just can't escape it, and I can't quite believe in the falsity of the whole thing, either, because what just happened… I just want you to know, Dean, that, whatever happens to us now, there will never come a day I'll regret it."
When Dean didn't say anything to that—couldn't possibly say anything to that—Cas turned his head to him, very slowly, carefully, giving Dean just enough time to snap out of it and stare at something other than Cas' ridiculously gorgeous profile with an almost painfully throbbing heart blurring his vision rhythmically. Dean's fingers were exceptionally interesting tonight, Dean examined. Shaking like crazy, though. Cas took a breath, as if to add something and break the silence, and Dean's stomach curled.
"Cas", he said. "I'm sorry, but I can't handle this right now. None—none of this. My head is reeling, my pants are sticky as hell, I'm friggin' crying, okay, so please, just—"
"It's okay, Dean", Cas interrupted, softly. "I only wanted to let you know."
"Okay", Dean said, throat getting tighter. "But I can't—I don't know what to tell you, Cas, 'cause honestly, you—this—just blew my mind, totally blew it, and I can't deal with it."
"Then don't. We can just sit, Dean. For now."
"And after? Then what?"
"We'll find a way."
"A way? What way, Cas?"
Cas turned to Dean now, face serious, compassionate. "A way to… 'deal with it'."
Dean cleared his throat, studying his hands through watery eyes.
"So what do you suggest", Dean said, bitterly, feeling his face getting hot. "We start some kind of secret affair? Run away together, pull off the whole Bonnie and Clyde thing? Then just… get married in Vegas? Yeah, hate to break it to you, but this isn't going to work. It never will, and I should just leave now and never talk to you again, like we did for a while, remember, we can get there again, Cas, I—"
"No", Cas interrupted, with a firm hand on Dean's shoulder. „Lie down."
"What? Lie—lie down? You want me to— I swear to God, don't—"
"Lie down, Dean."
Eyeing him suspiciously, Dean allowed Cas to push him down into a lying position... again.
"You need to get some rest", Cas said, worriedly studying him from above. "You look very tired, and it's a warm night. I'll watch over you."
"Yeah, I don't think this is cool. I really need to—"
"Dean", Cas silenced him, the anxiety in Cas' eyes making Dean actually shut up for a moment. "You can stay here. Please."
"Oh, now you're begging me", Dean replied, sourly. "'Cause it worked before, right?"
"No, that's not what I—"
"And, big surprise, it worked again! You're friggin' irresistible, Cas, you know that?"
"No", Cas said, slightly smiling. "I don't, actually."
"Well, you are", Dean repeated, sourly turning around, curled up in a ball. "You literally made me come in my pants. In less than two friggin' minutes. No one does that to me, you hear that?"
"Did you count?"
"Count—Cas, what are you talking about now?"
"The minutes. You said I made you come in less than two minutes. Does that mean you counted them?"
"Never mind. I figure it doesn't matter." Cas smirked. "I heard you."
"Good", Dean grunted. "No one does that to me. Especially not you."
"Especially not me. Got that."
"Great. You better start getting it into your head then."
For a while, they just quietly accompanied each other, listening to the nightly sounds of the strange town, each lost in their own little, troubled world, until Cas suddenly got up and made a definite move towards the balcony door. A pang of fear pierced Dean's stomach, and he swirled around, wildly pointing at Cas.
"You're not leaving me here. Don't you dare leaving me."
Cas was speechless for a moment. "Dean I—I was going to get us clean pants."
Dean blinked, pointing finger slowly retreating. "Oh. Oh. O—okay. That's—", Dean waved, awkwardly. "Move along!"
"I will", Cas said, hesitating. "I'll go inside now."
Dean coughed slightly, crossing his arms. "Well, I certainly don't know of any clean pants out here."
"Me neither." Cas frowned. "So I'll—"
"You'll go inside."
"Nothin'. Just—come back. With the clean pants, I mean. Kinda need 'em."
"And—with you… with yourself. I mean—just come back, okay?"
Cas smiled to himself before turning around. "I promise, Dean."
„Cas. Stop whatever you're doing and look at this. Right now."
"Dean, we need to leave in thirty minutes. I can't find my sunglasses. Do you have them?"
"No, Cas, the hell would I need your friggin' sunglasses for? Now come on and take a look already, look what you've done."
"Fine. I don't have any time, though. I need to pack my—Oh. You have bad sunburn there, Dean."
"No shit. Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, just come closer. See that? That's right. It's your friggin' hand print all over my shoulder. "
"How truly fascinating. The morning sun has been quite aggressive, I guess. Does it hurt?"
"Does it hurt? Well yeah, it hurts like crap but other than that it's really awesome. You know, I couldn't imagine a better tattoo than your friggin' hand all over my shoulder."
"Well, it certainly does look interesting. I understand why you like it."
"Yeah, of course you do. Thanks a lot. I can't go outside like this. Just look at me. Hey, Dean, what's that thing on your shoulder? Oh, you know, it's just our teacher's handprint 'cause I happened to sleep on his balcony after he and I… on the couch… and then he kinda held me all night. No big deal. Dammit, Cas, just think about it for once."
"I—I guess that could sound a little wrong, Dean. I wouldn't tell anyone about this night. Do you… do you want my jacket?"
"Oh, yes, please, gimme your jacket, 'cause me wearing your clothes is so much better than this. Genius idea, you know, why don't we just share our wardrobe all the time, you give me your top and I'll give you mine, or let's just walk around holding hands or something, so that even the last person gets it. No, I don't want your jacket, jeez. Never mind, I'll just—ugh, what now."
With an urgent vibration sound, Dean's cell phone came to life in his sticky short's pocket. After wearing Cas' super-comfy sweatpants all night, having to sport his own stiff-as-a-board shorts again was majorly contributing to his grumpiness, but since Dean only owned like two pairs of different pants, suddenly showing up with a fancy new one would be suspicious as hell. Especially after spending the entire night out.
Dean tore his glare away from his own shameful reflection and let go of his sleeve to dig his pockets for his phone. Cas just stood behind him, thoughtfully rubbing his non-existent beard, undecided if he should closely study Dean's face or the self-made brand mark, edged in dark red on his skin.
Cas was so close that his breath tickled Dean's neck, which felt kind of cooling in one sense, but absolutely not in another.
At the sight of Dean's unpleasant find, the hectic—and pretty damn unnecessary, because they still had superabundant time—packing mania seemed to be temporarily forgotten, which was good, because Dean's frayed nerves really didn't need any of that right now.
Still, it wouldn't hurt if Cas backed off a little. His striking distance was exciting Dean more than it should and he didn't particularly love that feeling.
But he wasn't stepping forward himself, either.
Opening his messages, Dean groaned, expecting some random text from Gabe along the lines of 'yo D-dawg, where the f r u, I'm waiting on your ass' or just one from Lisa, simply wishing him a 'good morning'.
She did that a lot lately and Dean found it rather disturbing. Perhaps he was being paranoid, no, he most definitely was, but it always read like some hidden accusation.
Anyhow—and luckily—the text wasn't from Lisa.
It was yet from Gabe.
It didn't seem random, though.
dude. DUDE. I'm so. sorry. where r u? come over pls
Dean reread it several times.
He couldn't say why, but those few words gave him the creeps.
He'd had bad omens before, and they hardly ever stroke as plausible, but this time, as he was skimming the cryptic line over and over the haunting sensation nearly knocked him off his feet. Gabe was sorry? 'Please'? Heaven forbid.
Whatever had gone down, this was serious. And if Gabe—the craziest and most annoying person Dean had ever met—actually got serious for once, and friggin' apologized, it meant that something really hairy had happened. And right now, Dean worked out for himself, there were only two possibilities.
One, Gabe was up shit's creek for some drunk shit he'd pulled off last night, which seemed pretty likely, because wasted—and unattended—Gabe wasn't at all to be underestimated.
Two, Gabe had in all of his senseless intoxication somehow managed to push Dean into the dirt instead. Considering Dean hadn't even been at the club, it seemed even scarier, but all the likelier. The message said he was sorry after all.
Hands shaking, Dean just stared at his phone's screen, mouth-opened.
"Dean?" Cas asked, a long way off. "Are you okay?"
Dean threw him a glance, tongue-tied, seeing Cas' hand reach out to him. It looked like he was trying to be comforting—and possibly wasn't sure how else to react—, and Dean didn't shy away from the touch.
Ever since the two of them had woken up this morning, so damn late they'd missed breakfast, things had been pretty—extremely—awkward between them. All morning, Dean had violently refused to talk about the couch incident, and Cas hadn't made the mistake of cryptically asking him how he felt twice.
For all of that, Cas' actions were kind of telling their own tale. Dean knew. A light squeeze on his shoulder as Cas had passed, an occasional push whenever Dean had stood in his way, it had been… well.
As balled up Dean had been—still was—he surely hadn't complained about it.
It had to be that special, closed off hotel-room-atmosphere.
It did things to you.
And, yeah, dry-humping Cas probably had done the one or other thing to Dean, too, but he wasn't going to go there now. Unsurprisingly, Dean had no idea how to deal with the—new? Changed? See, no idea—Cas-situation, so he simply chose to do nothing about it.
Even if those subtle avances—that probably wasn't what Cas had in mind, but it sure felt like it for Dean—were comparatively hard as hell to ignore.
Cas' fingers flinched.
He remembered that the skin around the hand-shaped imprint was an actual, burning wound. Cas mumbled something apologetic, but it wasn't so bad, even though the tiny contact stung like fire.
"Yeah, I'm okay", Dean replied, hardly recognizing the measly sound as his own voice. "I just gotta go now."
"Oh", Cas said, nodding. "Of course."
"Everyone's probably wondering where I've been all night. So… wish me luck."
Cas awkwardly crossed his fingers, which looked painful. "I'll keep my fingers crossed."
Dean couldn't help but smile. "Thanks. But, just so you know. You don't need to actually cross them the entire time. It's just a saying."
"Good", Cas said, relieved. "Carrying my bags like this would've been rather difficult."
"Cas", Dean said, mindlessly nudging Cas' cheek with a thumb. "Take care, all right?"
Cas' eyes went wide at the brief touch. "Yes. Yes, I'll… do that."
Dean nodded, and his legs slowly set in motion.
"See you, then, Dean."
"Yeah. See you."
Cas just gazed after him, saying nothing more. With one final look over his shoulder, Dean not only noticed a certain touch of disappointment in Cas' eyes, one that made his heart nearly crack in half, but also the long-lost sunglasses sitting on top of Cas' head, under the radar, well hidden in those dark tousled curls. Classic, Dean thought, but wasn't able to point his find out to Cas, because he had a fist-sized lump in his throat and speaking was off the cards.
He stepped into the empty hallway.
Probably—hopefully—it was due to his wanton imagination, but the opposite door actually seemed to radiate some kind of danger. Like a lethal trap, set to bang right in your face if you dared coming any closer.
Dean did, though.
His sweaty hand seized the doorknob, and for one horrible split second he got the disgusting feeling that the cold metal was actually moving in his hand, pulsating, that it was alive. But then again, maybe he was just finally losing it.
Gabe was a picture of misery, sitting there all weighed down on his hotel bed, the crammed overnighter lying ready to go at his feet. The gleaming tears in his reddened eyes were the scariest sight Dean had ever been confronted with. Well, definitely among the top five.
"Hey, man", Dean croaked. "What've you done, huh? Can't be that bad."
Gabe grimaced, and at first it looked as if he was going to smile, or grin. For a second Dean halfway expected him to burst out laughing, pointing at him, yelling: "Hah, gotcha! You should've seen your face!" But of course that didn't happen. Dean realized that Gabe was trying to stop himself from bursting out intears.
"You're pretty late, you know", Gabe said, barely above a whisper. Dean hadn't known he was able to be that quiet. "But that's just your thing. You're always late. Just skip over stuff you don't wanna do. That's just how you roll."
Dean squinted at him. "I don't know what you're talkin' ab—"
"The party", Gabe raised his voice, interrupting him. "You said you'd join me later, but you didn't. I've waited for you, but you never came and if you had come maybe things would've turned out differently. I wouldn't have been back that early, for one thing. And hell, I was drunk. Is it—was it really my fault? I—I don't know."
"Gabe." Dean was alarmed. "What have you done?"
"You'll hate me forever."
"Just tell me!"
"Well, what have you done, Dean-o? Where have you been all night?"
"None of your business."
Gabe looked up at him, hurt. "Well, go me. You already hate me."
Dean took a deep breath, closing his eyes. "Just tell me what you did, okay."
Gabe was shaken by a silent crying fit. Instead of comforting him with fine words, Dean felt the sudden, shattering urge to just go and grab Gabe's shoulders and just rattle the words out of him.
Before he had to go that far, however, Gabe wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and searched for Dean's look.
As soon as he found it, and the two of them quietly looked at each other with more seriousness than they have ever looked at each other with, all doubt was gone.
Dean had sensed it.
No more than two days had passed since traumatic plane experience numero uno and now they were back above the clouds. And the return flight wasn't starting out to be any less traumatic than the first one.
In fact, if they got into another storm this time, then that'd be easier to handle than this.
This was no one less than Lisa, who'd insisted on switching seats with Cas—Meg hadn't complained—to get a 2-friggin'-hours-long chance of explaining it all to Dean.
And yeah, she was doing a fair bit of explaining. He wasn't, though. As per usual, she wasn't recognizing his silence, even though he'd literally only existed ever since they'd taken off.
Within the past thirty minutes, Dean had become sort of numb, weirdly apart, which was funny, because Lisa was clutching his arm as if he was the unalienable part that kept everything together. Her drama wasn't staining, though.
Her wild gesticulation, her shock-headed strands of hair, the smudgy make-up spread on her face, black mascara tears rolling out of swollen eyes and the endless tide of words floating out of her mouth, Dean wasn't participating. All of these signs should've told Dean that she was genuinely sorry. But he wasn't feeling it.
He was performing the main role in some sick movie and she was playing her part just fine.
"And I was looking for you, but you haven't been there. Do you understand? So I waited for you. I waited for you in your room, and there was Gabe and then…"
… and then it just happened.
Dean already knew her miserable speech by heart. And he got all of these nice and saucy little pictures in his head to go with it.
Granted, it was a believable story alright—but at the same time it wasn't. It didn't seem real. Hanging in his seat, Lisa crying her heart out to him, the whole trip didn't, and none of the latest events had made it into his reality just yet, but Gabe… getting it on with Lisa… and vice-versa… it just had to be some kind of sick joke.
"I—I don't know, Dean, I just felt neglected, and alone. You just keep on disappearing and I felt like we didn't spend as much time anymore. You know, to be honest, ever since summer holidays, we haven't been…"
… we haven't been the same.
Dean stuck it out with a bland expression.
Her tears were seeping through his sweatshirt, but he merely patted her shoulder, not much differently from how you'd maybe comfort a stranger. Mr. White threw them an unsteady glance every now and then, which was annoying, not to mention the curious whisper of his classmates way behind his back. Dean felt obliged to react to her drama in some way at least.
But she wasn't truly sorry.
And, honestly, Dean wasn't, either.
He couldn't stop thinking of the night he'd spent with Cas.
Especially the evening.
The way Cas just... and then his... or how he'd lain into him like that, when he... damn.
Remembering it, detailed, vividly, was driving Dean right out of his mind. And, besides, falling asleep and waking up next to Cas was just… nice. But last night, and this past morning, it'd been… very nice.
He definitely wouldn't question the kind of difference, though. Particularly not while Lisa was crying her eyes out onto his shoulder. He hadn't stooped that low yet. Although it did tell him something.
One, he was absolutely sick of listening to that goddamn story over and over.
Two, why the hell didn't he tell her already?
"And so I went to your room and I was looking for you—"
"Lis," Dean chimed in, harsher than originally planned. "Listen, Lis. I got it. It's not exactly a brain-teaser. You slept with Gabe and you're sorry. I got the picture."
She hushed, staring at him, red-eyed.
He faced her, unsmilingly, carefully weighing his next words. Dammit, this shit was overdue. Someone had to finally say it. Obviously, it wouldn't be her, so it was on him to speak presumably both of their minds.
"Lis, I don't think this is gettin' us anywhere", Dean went on. "Maybe we should, you know. Let's just go separate ways from here on."