I Want You All To Myself
The apartment is small.
The couch is comfortable, covered in floral pastel fabric, and he sits on the edge of it holding a small cup of tea carefully in his hands. There is a lengthy coffee table in front of him, with dainty white and purple cups sitting upon saucers, and a large serving plate of warm muffins. The table is otherwise littered with small, breakable trinkets and obvious thrift store finds, and the clutter makes him feel like a bull in a china shop.
Pale floral wallpaper adorns every nook and cranny, with a spattering of various prints and handcrafted paintings on top. Hard wood floors are covered almost entirely in thrifted rugs, which are then decorated with stacks upon stacks of textbooks. Shelf after shelf seems to be straining under the weight of various knickknacks and oddities.
The apartment is warm and smells of fresh baked bread and cinnamon.
A blueberry muffin appears on a paper plate in front of him and he looks up into Anna's eyes and gives her a winning smile. "Thanks."
She smiles and sits across from him, immediately taking her own cup of tea into her hands and cradling it gently.
They had met on his first day of class, when he sat down next to her and she turned to him and smiled- and yeah, redhead in a low cut top. It had been two weeks later when he had first visited her apartment – this same apartment – to work on a joint project that had been assigned. Her mother had stuffed him full of muffins and pinched his cheeks and embarrassed Anna and it had been fucking awesome.
Anna and he had clicked. They liked the same music, liked the same sandwiches, liked the same movies, and he started spending a lot more time at her apartment. They'd lay on her bed and listen to records, pretending to study for tests that they probably wouldn't pass, talking, laughing-
"This is good," Dean says through a mouthful of muffin. "Your mom make these?"
"Just this morning," she replies with a nod, then glances at the kitchen as though remembering the scene in her head. "I think she took most of them to work."
Things had changed at the start of his junior year, just as the warm weather started turn colder.
They'd been laying on her bedroom floor, listening to one of her records playing in the background, and laughing about absolutely nothing at all. He had turned his head to look at her, at the bright eyes full of laughter and her flushed pink cheeks, and it had seemed like the natural progression of things to just finally freaking kiss her.
"Are you looking forward to graduation?" he asks, taking a gulp from the dainty teacup.
Anna exhales softly, "I think we should break up, Dean."
It had been pretty awesome too, as far as first awkward kisses go.
Next week marked sixteen months since she had first changed from friend to girlfriend.
Sixteen months since things had gone from understandable to confusing and from comfortable to tentative. Sixteen months of trying to figure out how his body fit against hers and where she was ticklish and what made her so mad that she'd ignore him at lunch and steal the last piece of pie from the cafeteria just to spite him. Sixteen months since he'd gone from being able to tell her anything to needing to watch his words, sixteen months since she'd been everything but his girlfriend.
"You don't really seem to be… interested in me anymore," she continues, and she's choosing her words carefully, but doesn't look at him. "You never want to do anything together, I have to pry you away from studying when I come over, and you won't even talk to me about what is going to happen to us after graduation."
It had never once occurred to him, when he'd leaned to kiss her that first time, that anything between them would be different; he hadn't thought it through like that. Why was it so strange to think that she could have been his closest of friends and his girlfriend? Why couldn't he have his cake and eat it too?
She takes a breath, picks up both empty teacups, and slowly walks into the kitchen.
He follows; he doesn't know what else to do.
"I'm sorry," he says, watching as she sets the china into the sink.
She glances at him, palms resting on the edge of the sink. "Please don't think I don't care about you. I do care, I just… I have to do what's best for me too."
He stands beside her, almost hesitantly. "I understand."
Sixteen months since he felt like he could breathe, but now it's ending and something is lodged in his chest regardless.
"Thanks for coming over, Dean," she says, staring at the sink again. "I'll see you at graduation, okay?"
He doesn't answer. He goes back to the table, slips his jacket back on, glances one last time at the kitchen, and slowly leaves. The door closes quietly behind him.
His alarm wakes him up at 6:30 am on a Saturday.
One hand slaps out blindly, knocking the metal, ringing demon onto the floor. It lays there, staring up at him defiantly, but it doesn't. Stop. Ringing.
He is halfway sitting up in bed, eying the baseball bat leaning against the closet door, when he realizes it's the phone on the nightstand that's ringing.
He probably owes the alarm clock an apology.
He haphazardly grabs at it, knocking a picture frame and a glass of water over, and manages to knock the phone itself off of the receiver before he grabs it. The plastic is cool in his hand, innocently staring at him like it's not six in the fucking morning on a god damned Saturday-
Dean falls back onto his bed, the phone cord knocking his keys and something sparkly onto the floor as it clears the entire nightstand of objects, and he stares at the ceiling as though it has wronged him in some way.
"Cas. What the fuck, dude."
Now that he's actually remotely awake he can hear the television in the other room blaring loudly through the door, a tell-tale sign that Sam is awake and probably halfway through an enormous bowl of fruit loops. He lays a hand on his arm, ignoring the smell of burnt toast that he is suddenly too aware of, and groans.
"Would you like to get breakfast?"
Do people actually eat this early in the morning? Is anything even open? Do they allow people to walk the streets at this time?
"Cas, it's Saturday."
There is a pregnant pause, wherein he's positive Cas removes the phone from his ear and stares at it, and then, "Yes. Do you not eat on Saturdays?"
"I don't do anything on Saturdays if I can help it."
Dean sighs as loudly as he can without coughing up his own lungs. "What about later? Say, uh... Ten-ish?"
"Thirty minutes. Get dressed. I'll be at the cafe on Western-"
He sits up, the blankets falling from his chest down to his waist. Eyes glance over at the floor, at the scattered items that he'd knocked off without remorse, and he stares at them blankly. "Wait- what? Hold on, I'm not even hungry-"
"Thirty minutes, Winchester."
He stares at the dead phone, certain his eyebrow must be twitching.
He hangs the receiver back up and sits staring at it for a moment longer.
Bare feet hit the clean, carpeted floor. The fallen items are snatched up and carelessly placed back upon the nightstand, another imminent trip to the floor in their future.
He stops at the door and opens it enough to stick his head out. "I don't think they can hear it in Poland, Sam!"
Cas is... well, Cas is a freak.
He's double majoring in French and Spanish – and only because he's already fluent in Latin and pretty much fell out of the womb speaking Russian – at the university Dean is dreading attending. He drinks his coffee with too much milk and sugar, eats his potato chips dipped in ketchup, wears socks that don't match and listens to the worst folksy, indie music that Dean has ever heard in his life.
He's been smaller than Dean for as long as he's known him – 5'11" if he stands up straight and wears the right shoes – and he's always worn one size smaller; slender, not slim, and no one is going to mistake him for a quarterback – but he's strong. He takes kickboxing classes early in the morning, he knows how to bake and sew, knows how to change a tire... and a diaper, and how to take a temperature.
He owns the world's ugliest trenchcoat, which he wears whenever it gets cold or looks like rain, and he does all of the sudokus in Dean's newspapers in pen. He tilts his head ever so slightly to one side when he's confused, he has next to no concept of personal space, and the most unsettling pair of blue eyes.
Dean doesn't remember falling for Castiel, but he clearly remembers Sam accusing him of it and himself wondering if it was true.
It probably is.
That probably didn't help his relationship with Anna any. Probably.
It's the only reason he would be awake at 7:10 am on a Saturday, in a French cafe off of Western, having breakfast with said weirdo.
The menu is entirely in French, which makes sense, but it might as well be ancient Egyptian for how much sense it makes to Dean. He stares over the top of the menu at Cas – who has been abroad like four times at this point and probably knows what French people eat for breakfast without needing a stupid menu, because he's probably eaten a dozen breakfasts in Paris and he'll probably move there after school and eat a dozen more-
And he'll probably move to France after school.
Dean suddenly feels a little sick. Like he just swallowed the entire menu without chewing.
Of course it would only make sense for Cas to move there; he's racked up enough frequent flyer miles visiting at this point that he might as well just make the move and marry some French girl and get a fucking poodle and-
And Sam is a little bitch for ever bringing this up and making Dean wonder if he might be crushing on his older, weird, socially awkward best friend. Dean had been really okay not over-analyzing their relationship up to this point, like they're characters in some gushy teenage romance and now it's all over because he can't stop thinking.
Cas is staring at him now – and yeah, Sam had pointed out the creepy intense staring that Cas does, but that's just Cas, okay Sam?! - and Dean looks back down at the menu just as the waitress comes back over.
All the French he remembers is from Saturdays with Pepe Le Pew and he doesn't really think that's going to help him order eggs and bacon, but Cas points at him and says a few things in French to their waitress, and then she's nodding and she leaves and – okay. So Cas ordered for him. No big deal.
Dean's just hoping it isn't a fucking souffle or something. He needs a manly meal right now. Eggs and bacon and axle grease served on the breasts of a naked woman – or something.
"Your vaguely concealed threats aren't going to keep working, Novak," Dean says, glaring with as much intensity as he can muster without having made it through his first cup of coffee. "I'm not a dog."
"It's for your own good," is the reply he gets, and Castiel drains his cup of sugary-milky coffee like it's water. "You're going to sleep your life away."
Castiel probably doesn't sleep. Dean has been to his place a million time and the bed is always made up perfectly, like no one actually ever uses it for it's intended purpose. The man is awake before the sun rises and he's still awake when Dean calls him at one in the morning for help on his Spanish essay that's due that morning that he certainly didn't put off until the last minute again.
He's probably part vampire. Probably.
Dean pours himself another cup of coffee from the carafe on the table. "Part beansprout, I think. He had another growth spurt and I don't know – we're probably going to have to move somewhere with twenty foot ceilings. Maybe I'll just loan him out to the Discovery Channel and they can use him as a stand-in giraffe or something."
It's always awful when Castiel comes to his place and Sam is there. It's usually hours of the two of them geeking out over freaking dead languages and poetry and pouring over musty old history books like tween girls drooling over issues of Tiger Beat and god knows what else. Dean usually leaves them in Sam's room and tries to strangle himself with the mini-blinds.
They once tried to include him in their nonsense, but he's pretty certain the look he gave them was something between aghast and fucking horrified and they hadn't tried again since.
And if he walks in the room with them Sam gives him looks the entire time, while non-discretely flailing in Castiel's direction like some sort of spastic bird. And Castiel is mostly oblivious to everything, but once the situation deteriorates into Sam singing his variation of 'Kiss the Girl' from The Little Mermaid all bets are off.
And Sam is a little bitch.
Anna not speaking to him anymore probably has something to do with all of that.
"How is Anna?"
Stab. Right in the chest. Oh, apparently that wound isn't healed yet.
"We broke up."
And Castiel stares at him with that blank look he carts around like he invented it.
Dean shifts uncomfortably, his fingers absently scratching at a hole in the knee of his jeans. The warm cotton jacket he's wearing feels foreign against his skin, smells very faintly like Cas, but it is not unpleasant. It's warm.
The bedroom walls are an off-white, nothing overly special at all. There's an old television in the corner, atop an antique end-table, but it seems more for show than anything else. Scattered around it - and around the room in general - are various articles of clothing and enough books that Dean has to wonder if Castiel is stealing them from all the libraries in the county.
"I'm sorry. Was it mutual?"
The bed Dean is sitting on is comfortable and it creaks with every movement he makes. A simple quilt covers the crisp sheets, the pillows adorned with plain white pillowcases. Above it is a small window, devoid of curtains or hangings, and the saturated April sky peers in.
The first time he had come over to Castiel's had been the second time they'd met, after Castiel had offered to help him study for his Spanish test, and he wasn't sure what he had been expecting but it hadn't been what he'd found. The apartment is charming in its own way, inviting in its own way, but it was very normal. A petite woman in a frilly apron had opened the door, a sweet smile upon her face, and he had almost turned tail and ran thinking he had picked the wrong apartment.
It had been his aunt though and she'd been expecting him and let him in with a hug and it was strange, but a normal strange. It wasn't the kind of unearthly strange he usually associated with Cas.
The apartment itself is always freaking freezing. The heat is either broken or non-existent or... expensive... and Cas has never made any apologies for it, never acknowledged it beyond throwing Dean one of his hoodies to put on.
The bed moves and creaks as Cas sits next to him, a shoebox underneath one arm. "Is that jacket warm enough? I can find a better one if you like."
"Don't worry about it," Dean sits up straighter, throat dry and limbs stiff. "What's in the box?"
Cas pries open the front of the clunky cassette player inside the box and pulls out a faded, unlabeled cassette tape. It isn't dusty, but he wipes it on his pants regardless, almost as though out of habit. He stares at it carefully, like it's made of glass. "I made this last month for you actually. It's a little late though."
He looks at it a moment longer, then places it in Dean's left hand and looks at him, stares at him like he always does. "You asked me for something to help you with your Spanish final."
"Oh," Dean turns it over in one hand, as though expecting to find some sort of answer to the mystery, but the back is as blank as the front. "What is it?"
The bed shifts as Cas stands up again. "A cassette."
"I figured out that much, smart ass," Dean briefly contemplates tossing the cassette at the back of Castiel's head, but instead his fingers curl around the tape and he stares at it for a moment longer. Hesitantly, he sticks it in the jacket's pocket. "So… do you think you'll move out soon?"
"I don't know yet."
The lid goes back on the box and Cas returns it to its home, before beginning to rummage for something underneath the bed.
"I did receive an employment offer from the Spanish embassy."
Not France, but not any closer.
"Spain," Dean repeats, like the word is offensive. "Do you think you'll go?"
A shrug. "I'm undecided. They are flying me out in June to see what I think."
June. Two months. Two months.
"Well," and what does he say? "That's great, man. Congratulations."
And Castiel looks up, stares at him in that way that no one else does, and if he wasn't looking for it he would almost miss the slight curve of the man's lips into a small smile.
A knowing smile, that sees right through him and his facade and his empty, encouraging words and leaves him staring at his shoes, confused and utterly lost.
Dean goes out drinking with his friends on Friday night, at some frat party that half of the county has obviously been invited to. They stop him at the door, two guys that haven't had quite enough to drink yet, and they start asking if he even goes to the school – and how old are you anyway, kid? But Meg brought him and she's wearing a low cut top and she flashes them a little and they let him in without further to-do.
Connections. Good to have.
And he tries not to look for Anna in the crowd – but he does anyway and she's not there. It isn't like they don't share a circle of friends, and it isn't like they aren't friends anymore, right? He should be allowed to look for her.
To see if she's hanging off of some guy.
Or girl. And, okay, that thought is a little hot. He'd probably be okay with that.
So instead of mourning his losses he nurses a cold beer and joins the fray in watching the epic drinking contest going on between Chuck and Castiel. Because Castiel had probably been born in a keg with how he puts away shots, but Chuck is a seasoned veteran who might have once fucked a beer bottle and it's a tough call.
They line shots of Jack up and Castiel goes through them with nimble fingers, swallowing without flinching.
Meg leans into Dean conspiratorially and licks her lips. "I love that intense look he has."
Dean grins into his beer. "You're a whore."
"You're an asshole."
Chuck has started in on his round and he's slower than Castiel, but he puts them away like a fish.
Dean liberates Meg's untouched beer and starts in on it. "I'm going to say it'll take twenty shots before he lets you blow him. Maybe thirty. Maybe we don't have enough Jack."
"I give great head," she replies bluntly, eyes narrowing, and she takes her beer back, "but you're probably right. Ruby says you can't drink a gay man straight."
That makes a lot of sense, actually.
He stares at the beer in her hands, but he suddenly feels the need to stay sober. "Gay, huh?"
Dean still only has the one beer under his belt when he drops Meg's sleeping body into the back of the Impala, tossing her jacket on top of her head and shoving her feet in enough to close the door. He gets in the driver's seat just as Cas manages to get his seat belt into place in the passenger's, though it takes him several tries.
Chuck had won after all. Although apparently the prize is just being shit-faced, so maybe Cas hadn't lost out too bad.
"I don't actually know where she lives," Dean says as he starts the engine, looking at the snoring body in the backseat through the rear-view mirror.
Castiel almost slurs his words – and that's really a testament to how drunk he is. "Just leave her at my place. I have a couch."
The Impala pulls out of the university parking lot and they're barely on the street when Dean starts tapping the steering wheel along to the low music streaming from the radio.
"So, are you really gay?"
And he pointedly doesn't look away from the road, pointedly doesn't look at Castiel – who, even drunk, is staring so hard at the side of his head that he might as well be drilling holes into his skull.
Dean breathes out loudly. "Oh, 'cause I just-"
And then all the air in the car is just gone and Dean swallows hard. "Oh."
He wants to glance in the mirror again, to see if Meg's awake, but he still hears her snoring so he keeps his eyes focused on the road.
He wants to wake her up, wants to ask her how. How did you know when I didn't even know?
And then – who else knows?
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asks, and this time he does glance at Castiel, and is more surprised than he should be that the man is still staring at him with all of that intensity. "How long... How long have you...."
"How long have I been gay?" Castiel glares at him, until he feels chills running down his spine. "Since I was born, Dean."
And, okay. Stupid question.
Dean exhales loudly, tries to think about what he says before it actually runs out of his mouth. "Okay, I didn't mean... Just. Okay, why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't think it was important."
It is important.
And he doesn't realize he's said that out loud until the silence turns awkward and Castiel looks confused. "Why?"
And it's a really good question.
"Because it is," Dean replies, and he turns the radio up and goes back to drumming against the steering wheel, and Castiel stops staring at him like he's grown a second head.
Dean graduates on a Monday afternoon and it blows chunks.
Twice someone goes over their allotted time for stuffy speeches – and then they become stuffy, awkward speeches where everyone is checking their watches and clearing their throats – and halfway through calling names the girl in front of him bursts into inconsolable tears.
Sam is there though, grinning like an idiot, and okay – Dean's grinning too, because twelve years, dude. It's finally freaking over.
Bobby and Ellen are there too, and so is Castiel.
Anna's mom gives him a hug after he finds his hat on the grass, a crushing hug that squeezes the life out of him and she's crying like he's actually still someone important to her and it's nice. It feels really nice.
Anna finds him next and she hugs him for a long, difficult moment. She's warm and smells like cinnamon and he doesn't realize how much he's missed her until she's in his arms again. Then it hits him like a truck, knocks him off his feet and leaves him wanting and he hugs her back like she'll evaporate into thin air if he doesn't.
She kisses him like they haven't been not speaking for a week, slow and soft like she's savoring every moment, and it's good but he realizes when she pulls away, expression confused, that he isn't responding.
"I've missed you," she says, and her voice is hurt, like he was the one that broke them up and made things awkward as hell. She looks like she's expecting something else, like she's expecting something that he isn't giving, and this is probably why things went south to begin with.
She glances over to where her family is waiting and she looks back at him, lips pursed tightly, and asks, "Are you gay, Dean?"
And he almost laughs – almost, because that shit is just too fucking funny – but he doesn't because she's freaking serious.
Because he's pretty sure they both remember the night in the Impala, or the time she found his 'Busty Asians' porn stuffed under his mattress, and, and, and breasts, okay?
Dean likes breasts.
"I'm not," he deadpans, and he realizes that he feels drained, tired. It seems like he always feels this way. "Do you want me to prove it to you?"
She looks like she considers it, like the weight of his hand on her waist is tempting, but she slowly shakes her head 'no'. "That would be a bad idea. We're not dating anymore and I've been accepted to Oregon State and I'm moving next month."
And no, that makes him feel like he's been hit by a truck.
Another frown, like it's all she's capable of, and her voice is suddenly very quiet. "I love you, Dean, but I don't think you're good for me."
She's probably right. Probably.
But it doesn't feel right.
He wants to tell her to leave him alone then, to let him go and to stop traipsing through his head and stringing him along and making this harder than it absolutely has to be, but he doesn't. Instead he steps away from her, and sticks his hands in his pockets.
It's like they're breaking up all over again.
"I don't think I'm what you want," she admits, and it sounds like she's blaming herself, but she holds up a hand before he can say anything. "I don't know what you want, but I hope you find it."
Then she kisses him again, briefly on the cheek, and she steps past him for what seems like the hundredth time.
The whole day blows monumental chunks.
He goes to Ruby's on Tuesday night to watch horror flicks – because he's graduated and there's no school the next day, bitches.
So there's beer and tequila and popcorn and soon-to-be pizza and it's amazing. It's pretty much the only way he'd ever want to spend Tuesday nights and, okay, there's really nothing from stopping him anymore.
Meg shows up because there's booze. She settles onto the couch armrest, situating herself between Ruby in the close armchair and Castiel on the sofa (and she ignores the way he looks at her like she's a roach perching next to him), and she looks so pleased with herself that Dean almost chokes on his beer.
Gabriel shows up halfway into the first movie- by climbing in through the window and screaming bloody murder, and he might as well have just thrown a severed head into the room with the fucking panic it causes. Because Meg falls backwards onto the floor and Dean thinks he probably goes deaf when Ruby and Jo start shrieking, and then the entire movie is put on hold in favor of slaying Gabriel.
Ruby pulls him in the window and starts boxing his ears, and it only gets worse when, between laughing like he's dying, he tells her that he can see up her skirt from the floor.
It takes a long time before they get back to the movie.
They put in another and Gabe brought jello shots, so maybe he's not a complete jackass, and no one has called the cops yet so thus far it's a quiet night for the group of them.
Dean gets sandwiched on the sofa between Castiel and Jo, who is tossing M&Ms at where Gabriel is sprawled out on the floor, and it's cozy. He has weird fucking friends, but they're good people. Mostly. Sometimes.
They're not bad.
"You could have brought Sam," Castiel whispers to him, and Dean snorts at that – because, really? He does not need to subjugate Sam to his lunatic friends.
He tells Castiel as much and the older man smiles at him, one of those rare, honest, open smiles that makes Dean smile back like it's some sort of Hallmark moment or something. The kind of smile that makes him suddenly hyper-aware their thighs are touching – and, fuck, his other thigh is touching Jo's, right? So why the hell should that even matter? Except it does, because it's Cas and Cas is warm and close and smiling-
"Oh god, oh god, oh god," Meg is watching the television through slits in her fingers, knees pulled up to her chest and practically in Ruby's lap. "Oh god, bitch don't go in there!"
The predictable happens and someone gets stabbed just as the doorbell rings and the room fills with more shrieks – one of them belonging to Gabriel, but it's probably fake – and then laughter. Cas smiles and shakes his head, uses one hand on Dean's knee to push himself off of the sofa and steps over Gabriel.
Ruby hands him a fifty as he passes, her other hand definitely not groping Meg. "Don't give the pizza guy a fucking ten dollar tip, Castiel."
Dean half steps on Gabriel when he follows – and almost loses a shoe in the process, but it's totally worth it.
And he's not sure why he follows. Because Cas balances the boxes in one hand, pays (and tips) the guy with the other, and manages to stuff the change in the back pocket of his jeans and shut the door all without any of Dean's help.
He still takes the boxes from him though. Hands on the side of the boxes, tips of his fingers over the tops of Castiel's, and Cas doesn't let go. He just keeps holding on and staring at him and god are they having a moment in Ruby's god damned hallway? Dean swallows, hard, and then Cas lets go and steps around him, as though it hadn't just been a fucking weird exchange of fast food.
Dean stares at the front door for a long moment, pizza boxes warm in his hands, before he follows the man back into the living room.
He deposits the pizzas onto the coffee table and barely retrieves his fingers before his friends descend upon the warm cardboard like freaking vultures.
He grabs another beer and squeezes back in between Cas and Jo's thighs.
All of his Tuesdays should be like this.
They are an hour into the last movie when Gabriel and Ruby go into the kitchen to get the jello shots out of the fridge. Meg is staring at the movie as though it will physically harm her to not see the obligatory person-in-shower-gets-murdered scene, hands gripping the armchair so hard her knuckles have turned white.
Jo is asleep, head against Dean's arm and her legs curled up into the couch, and she's drooling ever-so-slightly onto his sleeve.
There's a crash from the kitchen, because Ruby and Gabriel cannot be in the same room unsupervised without destroying something – or someone – and Meg's eye twitches, like they are ruining the universe for her. She hops out of the chair, tension ruined,and stomps the whole way into the kitchen.
Castiel looks at him, with an expression that is clearly conflicted about whether they should intervene in the disaster in the kitchen or not – and he's surprisingly close, that slight tilt of his head surprisingly endearing, and Dean is surprisingly sober despite his attempts at otherwise-
The girl on screen is spurting blood out of her spine when Dean kisses Castiel and it could be a lot better. Cheesy horror movies are awful background noise, and Dean knows he tastes like cheap beer and pizza, and he can't move too much with Jo asleep on his side-
And his mind is an immediate flurry of 'WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, DEAN WINCHESTER?"
Cas is unbelievably warm, but his entire body tenses like he's just been shot and he doesn't move a damned muscle.
"Not down my shirt, Gabriel! I'm going to kill you!"
Dean snaps back, the weight on his side mumbling and shifting slightly.
Cas is looking at him like a deer in headlights- and then The Three Stooges are loudly back in the room, arms full of green jello in plastic cups – and then Cas turns his confused stare at the television. Dean watches him awkwardly, like there's something he should probably be saying, but he can't get any words to form, let alone the right ones.
They watch ten more minutes of the movie before Castiel gets up and calls himself a cab.
The next day he listens to the cassette that Cas gave him, after he and Sam fight over the last of the cereal.
He shoves it into the cassette player in the Impala and lays lengthwise in the front seat, hands behind his head and staring up at the ceiling.
It starts slowly, with a grinding noise and it almost sounds like it's eating the tape, but then it fills his ears with the lull of a guitar and a quiet melody. It was probably recorded in a basement somewhere, with an acoustic and a dying microphone and it's awful quality, but it's Cas. It's his voice filling the Impala, a slow and steady build of that low, rough voice that sends chills running down his spine.
It's in Spanish, but Dean doesn't need two years of classes to recognize the rhythm and the beat and holy fuck – it's an acoustic, Spanish, Cas-ified version of Ramble On by Led Zeppelin. And he's stuck there in the Impala, staring at the ceiling, listening to something that sounds way too intimate to be for him and it catches in his throat, threatens to choke him completely.
Everything is suddenly so quiet, so quiet that he swears he can hear his own heart beating, and he doesn't even know what it means.
It's just all strange.
Castiel takes to language like a duck to water and he's going to go places, he's going to go, and he's got the brightest future that doesn't involve any part of the United States at all. He's got a future that involves certainty and great things and Dean stares at the ceiling of the Impala more confused than he's ever been.
It's Friday evening, two days later, that finds Dean sitting on the cool concrete steps leading into Castiel's apartment building. His hands are shoved into the pockets of his jacket – Castiel's jacket, the one he never gave back – but the night is chilly and he's starting to rethink his game plan.
He's been there for an hour already, just sitting and staring off into the distance. For the most part he's been undisturbed, save for the teen that stumbled by, drunk, asking if he was the bartender.
It isn't until the yellow cab pulls up at the curb that he feels his chest constrict and there's no backing out, because he can tell by the ever-so-slight widening of blue eyes that he's been spotted. So he sticks to his guns and he stays put, watches as Cas gets out of the cab, tips the driver, and grabs his bookbag from the passenger seat before trudging up the sidewalk to him.
"Hello, Dean," blank, careful, like he's afraid of letting too much of how he's feeling seep into those two words.
"We need to talk," Dean says, and he almost smacks himself in the head because seriously, seriously? He sounds like a chick.
Cas motions to the door leading into the building. "Do you want to come in?"
And he does, but he shouldn't, he really shouldn't-
So he stands up instead, feeling a little warmer from the movements, and shakes his head. "No, I uh... I'm sorry. About the other night. It was... I don't know what it was. Stupid. It was stupid and I shouldn't...."
Shouldn't what? Shouldn't have done it? Shouldn't want to do it again? Shouldn't even be here?
"I listened to the cassette," he blurts out instead.
There is a moment of awkward silence, where Dean stares at the sidewalk and Cas stares at him, unrelenting because it's obvious no one ever taught him that staring is rude.
"You didn't like it."
And god, that's really not it.
"No, I... I really liked it. I just... why? Why did you make it for me?" he runs a hand through his hair, exasperated. "I don't deserve-" you "...I... God, this is awkward."
Castiel shifts the bookbag onto his other shoulder. "I didn't intend for you to feel awkward."
And that's not it either, but Dean is having trouble getting the words right to come out and Cas is staring at him like he's crushed him underneath his boot and he's really regretting coming out here at all.
"You shouldn't have kissed me," Cas says then, and he looks like he's having some regrets of his own. "I know Meg talked to you about me – and I don't know what she told you, but she shouldn't have. I know you having feelings for Anna and I'm not trying to intervene. I didn't intend to confuse you or make you question our friendship."
Dean stares at him, confused and suddenly frustrated, and – well, yeah, really confused. He wonders briefly why Castiel can't just do things normal and uncomplicated for once, why he can't just stop with the cryptic crap and – fuck, why does Dean have to find that shit so endearing anyway?
And maybe it's possible that Castiel saw Anna kissing him at graduation, he knows that now, but that doesn't mean Castiel knows everything. That doesn't mean Castiel knows a damned thing.
"Dude, I'm over Anna," he says, running a hand through his hair. "I don't know what you think Meg is telling people, but she didn't tell me to kiss you. I kissed you because I wanted to. I like you, okay? And if that's not cool, then fine, whatever, but you should just know that-"
It sounds strange, really strange, on his tongue. He tries again, "I...think I might love you?"
And that couldn't possibly sound any more girly, but it's all out there in the open now and he tries not to hope the ground swallows him up whole.
"You don't," Cas assures him, and the words are so sharp, so clear that Dean visibly recoils from them. Castiel's expression is almost too calm, so calm that Dean can see the lines on the edges of his lips and eyes tightening.
Dean stares at him and fuck – what the hell?
"I'm saying I do," he says, somehow doesn't choke on the words, because he doesn't even know if this is a rejection.
Cas raises an eyebrow, almost a dare. "No, you said you 'think' you do. I'm saying you don't, because I know that you don't. I've seen you with more girls than I can count – and I've known you for most of our lives so do not think that you can do this to me."
The older man brushes past him to go into the building and fuck this is going all wrong. He had thought about this all fucking night and he had it all planned and Cas is ruining it. Everything is just all wrong and all going to hell and this is probably the first time in his life he's seen Cas visibly angry at him and--
"Cas, I just want-"
And Cas is punching in the code for the door, and Dean grabs him by the shoulder, clutching, trying to get him to just listen--
And Castiel is fast, catching his hand and using it to swing him around and slam him against the brick beside the door. He presses in close, their eyes meeting for a too-short second before Cas' lips are on his and it's rough, open, and it's- god.
Dean is taller, Dean is bigger, but Castiel presses him into the brick and he holds him there, all weight and pressure and harsh lips and Dean can't breathe. Cas holds him there, lips pressed against his, hips pressed against his, everything suddenly too hot and too rough and too much, and he doesn't have anything to give because Cas is taking it all.
Castiel jerks back, mouth red and eyes boring into Dean's, and he looks so angry. His hand stays at Dean's collar, holds him there for a minute longer, keeps him in place a moment longer.
"You don't know what you want, but I do. I want you, I've always wanted you," and he lets go and steps away, and he looks disgusted. "Don't come to me when you're horny and lonely and confused and expect me to be your experiment, because you have no idea."
And Dean stares at him wide eyed and unmoving, like he's afraid Cas will leave again if he does or says anything.
But, then, he gets it. It makes sense, and it's surprising she didn't tell him, because she's never withheld other people's secrets from him before, but, "You told Meg you liked me."
And Cas is angry, but he's hurt too.
"I didn't mean to- I was drunk," Castiel replies quietly, fingers curling and uncurling around the front of Dean's – of his jacket. "She knew without me saying it. She...."
Dean treads lightly, carefully, "Well, she didn't tell me."
Cas looks less angry, but not any happier. He just looks conflicted – and confused.
"The first time you came over," Dean says finally, "the day you met Sam. He was freaking insistent that I was gaga over you."
Castiel's expression doesn't change, but Dean knows he's at least listening.
"And I think I shaved his head that night in retaliation, but he's been a little bitch about it since then. He drew your name all over my fucking math book and he sings The Little Mermaid like a girl and-" he pauses, breathes in, "and I don't know. I thought he was just being a brat, but then Anna started questioning my sexual preferences and I don't know what I'm doing, but I know I like you. I like you a lot. I think I love you, but I have fuck all to compare it to so it's the best I can do, Cas. I don't exactly have a great track record with this sort of thing: I get plenty of ass, but I'm apparently shit at relationships."
Not that he's ever seen Cas in a relationship, or at least one that's gone on long enough for Dean to notice he was interested in men and not women.
"You don't like men," Cas says, like he's a broken record, and Dean isn't sure who he's trying to convince.
"I'm not saying I like men – I'm not even saying I'm gay or bi or straight or whatever-" Cas is just the right height for Dean to rest his forearms on his shoulders, to make it so there's nowhere for Cas to look but at him. "I'm saying I like you – that I've been thinking about you and thinking about us and – and you're right. I have no idea what this entails or what to do or what's going on-"
Another breath and he smiles, "But you're wrong, because I do know what I want. I want you, you weirdo."
He wants to see that rare smile flick over Cas' lips, but it doesn't happen. The lines around Cas' lips tighten instead, as though he's trying not to grimace.
And he may be shorter, but Cas is still the most solid, the most certain part of all of this. He stares at Dean with all of that resolve, like he's got his entire life figured out and Dean is trying to fuck it all up. One of his hands grips Dean's left arm, strong and sharp, as though he'll wrench the offending limb off at a moment's notice.
"And what then? Where do you think this will go, Dean?" Cas asks, and his voice is a low challenge, as though daring Dean to answer him. "What are you going to do once you have me?"
And what is he supposed to say to that? The million Hallmark replies that flitter through his head are disgustingly obnoxious, and then he wonders if he could try one of the great pick-up lines he's perfected while drunk, or maybe there's just something fucking filthy he could say-
He's nervous and he's treading so lightly, so careful to not fuck it all up, and Cas looks like he wants to believe this, like he's hoping Dean does this right.
"Whatever you'll let me do," he replies, and it's little more than a breath but it sounds so loud in the cold, quiet night air.
The grip on his arm doesn't move, but neither does it shove him away.
Cas closes his eyes, like he thinks this is the worst idea in the world, but he doesn't move.
"Where's the Impala?" he asks finally, voice tired.
"I..uh.. I walked. I thought you'd be home sooner."
Cas stares at him, halfway between frustrated and sympathy.
"Come up," he says, and he lets go of Dean and steps back. "It's cold out here."
Cas leads him through the dark hallway, through the dark living room and dining room, without turning on any lights. He pushes the door to his room open and stands in the doorway, waits until Dean walks in before he follows, pushes the door shut and flicks the light switch on.
It's frustratingly quiet in the apartment, almost as though their own footsteps are too loud, and Dean tries to wonder if it's okay to speak or not.
He sits on the edge of the bed and it creaks underneath his weight, but the sound is suddenly too loud and too incriminating. He watches Cas move quietly around the room, watches him pull a large, thin blanket out of the closet and shake it open.
"Is your aunt going to be freaked out when she wakes up and I'm suddenly on the couch?"
Cas tosses the blanket onto the bed and fixes Dean with a confused stare. "You're not sleeping on the couch."
"Dude, I'm not sleeping on your floor."
And the stare is suddenly pointed, sharp and impatient. "Dean, get in bed and shut up."
He's reminded of the time they went camping in the mountains and it had been him, Gabriel, Cas, and Chuck in the same, tiny tent. There are pictures of it somewhere, pictures that Ruby took without anyone's permission and doctored into scary variations, but he tries not to think about it ever – because, seriously, it was awkward.
Gabe talks in his sleep like he's running a marathon with his mouth, but that includes all of the not-safe-for-anyone's-ears thoughts that live in his head. Chuck can't sleep without his feet in someone's face, and Dean had stared at his orange and pink socks until the pattern was burned into his skull.
They'd shoved Cas next to Gabriel, because seriously – your brother, your problem, and Dean doesn't remember anything else about that long, long night. He doesn't know if Castiel talks in his sleep, doesn't know if he's a crazy sleepwalker or anything, and now the questions are running through his head at a mile a minute.
He's slept in this bed before, but it didn't usually involve Castiel being there with him. After all, up until now he'd been flirting with the idea of Cas being part vampire and not needing sleep, ever, and now the man is changing into pajamas and turning out lights and doing things that are generally regarded as sleep-preparatory.
Dean takes his shirt off, but leaves his jeans on because Cas' pajamas will be too small for him and he's not going to sleep in his boxers with Cas in bed with him.
Castiel apparently wears pajama pants with angels on them, and he also apparently sleeps shirtless, and he slides under the covers and even with his skin still cool from outside he's just a blur of warmth next to Dean.
And Cas doesn't touch him, just lays his head against the pillow and closes his eyes, and Dean swallows his nerves and turns to face him.
Dean feels tense, feels like his arms and legs are made out of metal.
And seriously, of all the times for Cas to suddenly discover a sense of personal space, when usually he's all up in Dean's like he's got a fucking permanent address there-
"This is weird," Dean says, and the pull of Cas' lips into a smile is the most gratifying thing he's seen in a long damned time.
"Then stop making it weird and go to sleep."
And he does. He snakes a hand around Cas' torso, one leg pressing lightly against his, forehead against his, and he waits until he sees those blue eyes look at him before he can close his own eyes.
He wakes up with the sun filtering down over the bed through the band-shirt-turned-curtains that are pinned over the window with thumbtacks. It's Sunday morning and something about the haze of the sun tells him it's far earlier than he should be awake, far earlier than his eyes should be opening, far earlier than he should be doing anything.
He wakes up to the sound of obnoxious, chirping birds that land on the roof and squawk out 'songs' like their fucking lives depend upon it. The television in the living room is on, probably to a soap opera or a cooking show, and it's turned down suspiciously lower than it typically is.
He wakes up to a warm bed on a chilly April morning.
He wakes up to Castiel in the curve of his body, head in the crook of his neck, lips pressed lightly against his collar – breathing so lightly on his skin. It's impossible to see his eyes from how Dean's laying, but he feels the flutter of eyelashes against his skin as they slowly open – as though their owner has realized that, for the first time in his life, he's overslept.
Castiel's body tenses as he stretches, as he curls his toes and moves his legs. His body shifts down as he stretches, pulls the sheets down to reveal arms and chest and stomach. He stretches like a cat, like he can't possibly move until every bone in his body has been worked from slumber, and then he looks at Dean through eyes that are far too open for six in the morning.
He's not part vampire after all, because he sleeps through the night (and Cas informs him that vampires do sleep, just during the day). He doesn't talk in his sleep, doesn't snore, but he sleeps with half of his body outside of the sheets and it takes him forever to doze off. He tastes like mint and smells like sandalwood, has soft hands that are rough and strong, and he's nothing like Anna.
"You're awake," Cas says then, voice accusing.
There's the smell of breakfast floating in from the closed door, the beginning sounds of bustling in the small kitchen, and Dean wonders if Castiel's aunt knows he's half naked in bed with her nephew.
"Should I climb out the window?" he asks instead.
Cas frowns at him. "Inadvisable. We're on the fourth floor."
And who says 'inadvisable'? God, he can't just like normal people.
"Isn't your aunt going to be a little freaked out? Or do you bring guys home-" and he stops himself, because somehow that's somewhere he hadn't been yet and now he's staring at the words like they're a horrible monster with sixteen tentacles that came out of his own mouth. It's awful because now he's morbidly curious if Cas has ever brought guys home – if they've been laying in the same spot he's in right now. He wants to know and doesn't want to know and he stares at the sheets like they hold all of the answers.
"I brought Meg home," Cas answers, and he leans in conspiratorially, "and we fucked on every surface in this apartment."
Dean stares at him, horrified and amused and – god, why is it so hot to hear Cas say 'fucked'. "I could've done without the mental image, Cas."
"I don't bring men home," and the mattress shifts as Cas sits up, as he places one hand on the mattress and pushes himself over Dean to stand on the carpeted floor. "It would be disrespectful to my aunt. These are thin walls."
And it makes sense. Sam would probably appreciate him taking on that sort of personal responsibility in the future, although he had been having sex in the Impala to spare his brother's delicate sensibilities-
"I'm a guy," Dean says then, raising an eyebrow, and definitely not getting distracted when Cas bends over to get a shirt out of a laundry basket. "You brought me home."
Cas looks over at him and smiles - and it's that honest, open smile that makes Dean feel like a girl, the smile that sucks all of the air out of his lungs and out of the room and leaves him hanging on every single word. " You're Dean."