Dean was never so nervous asking a girl out as when he was attempting to ask out Jo Harvelle. He had liked her for a year at least and despite that had dated the flimsy women that chased him - his first girlfriend, Cassie Robinson, and his latest, Lisa Braden, and many others in between, including their friend Anna Milton, which ended in a mutual feeling of "just friends," Dean really only cared for Jo. Castiel watched as Dean fumbled over his own feet on his way to Jo's table, and felt the agony as Dean laid it on the line and was rejected.
He slumped back into his seat next to Castiel at the lunch table mumbling something about "self-respect" and stole one of Gabriel's healthy supplies of suckers, ignoring the "Hey! Those are mine!"
He turned to Castiel and said "Am I really that bad? Like, do I really date any girl that looks at me?"
"Well, Dean, you have gone out with the last twelve girls who have shown any amount of interest in you. I'm sure Joanna is just afraid you will cast her aside once you have what you want," Castiel said flatly over his Calculus homework.
"Ugh!" Dean didn't say that he wanted Jo because he actually had feelings for her, because that was not how he operated. He made a "No chick flick moments" rule, that everyone obeyed. Except sometimes with Castiel, which Dean felt was different; After all – Castiel did save his life.
When Dean had met Castiel, it was a normal Monday morning in September of his sophomore year. He was listening to his old school rock and forgot to look before crossing the street on his way to school, resulting in a hard jerk on his left shoulder. He had half a mind to turn to whoever it was that grabbed him so hard and rip them a new one until the city bus sped by where he would have been had the stranger not stopped him. He could feel a bruise coming in, and sure enough, when he took off his shirt that night, there was a handprint welt that stayed for at least a week.
Dean instead showed eyes of gratitude to this new guy as he pulled his headphones off and extended a hand, "Thanks, man. I'm Dean Winchester."
The male smiled slightly as he shook Dean's hand, "You're very welcome. My name is Castiel Novak. Do you by chance go to Truman High? I'm starting there today, and I'm a little lost."
Dean looked over Castiel. He had an overall look that suggested "nerd" with big flashing red letters. He wore frayed jeans, but he also wore a button up – buttoned all the way up – that was tucked in. He had a plain messenger bag strapped across his chest that criss-crossed his headphones. He had bright blue, shiny eyes, and his dark hair was unruly. Dean was dressed not quite the opposite. He had a definite alpha male vibe but wore his frayed jeans and tee shirt under a flannel and topped that with a standard black duffle. His green eyes and freckles stood out against his light brown hair. He nodded as he laughed and said, "Yeah, just follow me. I'll look both ways this time."
He winked at the other guy, who didn't find jokes of this variety that funny but figured he had at least made a friend, which was welcome. Both of them awkwardly put their headphones back on, and Castiel followed Dean as he crossed the street and turned down the next, walking a block more to the high school. Dean flashed a charming smile as he said, "Good luck, Cas," and hurried inside as Castiel took in his new surroundings.
Castiel decided before entering the building that he liked the nickname Dean had given him, and hoped he would get to be Dean's friend.
Dean nodded goodbye to his friends and made his way to English after lunch. Jo was in this class, and it was going to suck. Dean was not used to the idea of not getting what he wanted.
Castiel, on the other hand, hurried along to Chemistry with Gabriel. They sat down at their lab table and Gabriel popped another sucker into his mouth, and frowned when he didn't hear the usual "You are really going to get cavities," from his lab partner. He looked over, and Castiel looked a near mess.
"Alright, Cassy-boy, what's wrong?"
Castiel sighed. He knew that Gabriel knew, but it wasn't something he wanted to talk about, especially in Chemistry, and especially with Gabriel. "It is not of import," he said, trying to joke it off like Dean would, from an inside joke of that time they had all gotten drunk last year and his proper speech had reduced itself to smaller syllables.
Gabriel dropped it, but cursed himself at the end of class for thinking about it the whole time. Castiel Novak was in love with Dean, and the only person who really didn't know that was Dean.
Gabriel witnessed the moment Castiel fell in love with Dean.
Dean had come into the cafeteria like any normal day, but once he sat down, he began searching for someone. Dean's eyebrows shot up when he found that someone and waved them over. Gabriel followed Dean's eyes to see the nerdiest looking kid whose face brightened a bit as he rushed to the table.
"Guys," Dean said, as this nerdy newcomer approached, "This is Castiel Novak; he saved my life this morning."
Castiel blushed faintly as Dean recited everyone's name: Cassie, Dean's girlfriend (whom Castiel noticed as time went on that Dean never called Cas); Gabriel, the short boy with the sweet tooth; Anna, the fiery redheaded cheerleader; Chuck, the quiet mess; and finally Bobby Singer, a senior who was ready to turn the reigns over to Dean.
Castiel merely said "Hello, it's nice to meet you all," and watched quietly as the hustle and bustle of lunchtime began, and Dean told the group of Castiel's heroic rescue and motioned for Castiel to sit beside him.
Gabriel studied this newcomer out of the corner of his eye, but turned his full attention to him as Dean started telling a new story, about what happened in English that morning, and Dean was talking mostly at Castiel, probably to include him, since Dean was very open and warm (in a manly way, he would protest), but Castiel's eyes changed a little, and his homemade sandwich was left untouched the rest of the period.
It didn't take much for Gabriel to see that the boy was smitten.
Dean stood by a tree in front of the high school with his hands in his pockets, lost in thought as he waited for Castiel after school. They've walked home most every day together or at least to the point where they met that fateful first day. Dean liked this time talking with Castiel. It had gotten to the point where neither boy even brought their music to listen to, since they knew they'd just end up talking. That and Castiel embarrassed him once by actually singing his Lady Gaga as they passed an elderly woman tending her lawn who gave them a "knowing" smile.
Dean didn't have to wait long for Castiel to pull him from his thoughts and head home. Neither boy talked for a full minute.
Dean had stopped walking. Castiel turned around to face him, "Yes, Dean?"
Dean was about to talk to Castiel about his feelings for Jo, but a few girls walked by, and he blushed lightly, "Um, never mind. Can I come over or whatever? I need to talk about something."
Castiel's stomach did a little flip as he hoped for a brief second that Dean wasn't thinking about Jo, but the feeling faded quickly as he realized it was, "Certainly."
And they continued their journey in silence. When they reached Castiel's house, he opened the door, called, "I'm home; Dean is with me," and led Dean up to his room without listening for his father's acknowledgement.
Dean dropped his bag off at the foot of Castiel's neatly made bed and sprawled across it as Cas put his bag down next to his desk and sat in the chair and swiveled it to face Dean. "What is it you wish to talk about, Dean?"
He laid there in thought for a while before perching up on the side of the bed and letting loose a whirlwind of feelings. "Well, Cas, you're my best friend, so you know me better than anyone, and I know I've had all those girlfriends but I just want to fix it. I mean, I want to be someone that Jo would want to be with. I want to be with Jo."
Castiel held Dean's gaze and blurted out a response he had not thought through, "Why?"
Dean's expression hardened, and for a few seconds Castiel thought he was mad, but Dean was just thinking, "I don't know. I mean, she's smart and pretty, and she does this thing when she's reading that just drives me insane."
"So you lust her?" Castiel prompted when Dean had trailed off, blushing.
"More than that. I want to be the one to hold her hand in the hallways and cutesy shit like that. Call her 'pumpkin' while we're in line for tickets to see that new rom-com or whatever." Dean was no longer looking at Castiel.
Cas looked out the window, reflecting upon his own feelings for Dean momentarily. He wanted those "cutesy" things. Sometimes at night, he thought about all the domestic things he's love to do with Dean, like cooking dinner or fixing the sink. He had tried to picture these things with other people, but Dean was the only one that fit. He let out an audible sigh, causing Dean to be alarmed.
"Why are you sighing? I'm the one with the problem here!"
Dean was back to lighthearted jokes. Cas quickly thought up a lie. "Girls," he said simply.
" Yeah, girls."
It only took a week for Dean to figure out Castiel wasn't completely straight, even though he didn't know that Cas had the hots for him specifically. Not that he cared; it was just information to deduce.
When questioned, Castiel typically answered that he was pansexual – he loved personalities over gender. Some classmates teased that since he spent so much time with Dean that he was just gay and trying to cover that up, but Dean and Anna usually taught them a lesson. Anna was Castiel's next closest friend, and many claimed that they were romantically involved, but such was also not the case, point proven sometime in their junior year when Anna and Dean hooked up, and Castiel did not show the least bit jealousy toward Dean. Had anyone been really looking, they would have seen the jealousy he displayed toward Anna – not returning her texts and the slight glare he gave the back of her head.
Castiel dealt with it. He dealt with all the girls Dean took to his side, and hid his emotions well enough to not get caught. Or so he thought.
Shortly after Dean started dating Anna (and it was looking serious), Gabriel became Castiel's new number two. Gabriel couldn't take much of Castiel's kicked puppy dog behavior when it came to Dean and Anna, so he pulled a mini prank on him. He put a note in Castiel's locker that was a profession of "I know you love me, and I love you, so let's be together" from Dean that he forged himself. However, Castiel was very good at deduction, and he immediately knew that the note was forged, having studied Dean's handwriting, and that Gabriel was a puller of pranks.
"I don't appreciate such jokes, Gabriel. How long have you known?" he inquired after lunch that next day.
Gabriel gave a small shrug and sideways smirk, "Since day one, Cassy-boy. I saw it happen the moment it happened."
Castiel frowned, and shredded the false note.
Dean left Castiel's house a little later, after they had played Guitar Hero, which Castiel sucked at, but it was something that made Dean happy again. Cas had told him that he could call if he wanted to talk anymore. He walked home, frowning at the fact that he had a block to go and was certainly going to be thinking on his recent heartbreak.
He felt it was unlike him to dwell on this, but he had also never liked someone so much. Jo was an acquaintance at best, but they still talked and Dean had decided that she was amazing. He flirted with her in and out of class, and thought it was all going so well. But today at lunch, "What was that?" he thought angrily.
He tried to shrug it off as he was met at the door by his little brother, "Hey, Sammy."
Sam Winchester frowned, "You didn't tell mom that you were going to be home late."
"Aw, come on, I'm 18. Besides, I was with Cas."
Their mother appeared in the doorway, "I hope you weren't corrupting him."
She gave Dean a stern look, to which he replied, "The kid listens to Lady Gaga, I doubt I'm the one corrupting him," before trudging off to his room. No one needed to know that he had been having a bad day.
Cas laid on his bed where Dean had been previously, his homework lay forgotten on the desk. His phone placed on stomach, Dean's number pulled up. He wanted to call his best friend and tell him his problems, but what do you do when your best friend is your problem?
He decides on the next best thing, and before he recovers from his moment of insanity quickly types up a novella of a text for Gabriel.
Castiel is just starting to regret that decision when the short and to the point reply comes.
"Cassy-boy, shit or get off the pot."
Gabriel usually gave sound, if a bit cynical, advice that was mostly for the better, but as the night progressed, and sleep didn't come, Castiel decides that he is not strong enough, nor the type fo guy, to do anything about his crush. He never has been.
Castiel once before had made up his mind to tell Dean of his feelings. He had planned it all out, and woke up that summer morning (sometime between Sophomore and Junior year) a man determined. He was already scheduled to hang out with Dean that day, but when Dean hadn't called him by 6pm, Castiel called him.
Dean sounded irritated as he answered the phone with a gruff voice, "Hello?"
"Dean, you... you said you were going to call by 3. Is... is everything alright?"
Dean's voice softened, but there was still an edge to his tone, "Shit, Cas, I forgot! It's just- It's Sammy. His girlfriend, Ruby, you know I never liked her, but she's been sneaking him alcohol. We just found out this morning. He's barely twelve, Cas!"
Castiel was really shocked. If anything, this behavior was expected of Dean, but Sam Winchester was too good natured, or so he had thought, even giving Castiel a run for his money on the well-behaved front.
He also decided that this was not the best time to dump his feelings on Dean, and let it go, hoping that the opportunity would present itself in the future. For now, Castiel offered Dean his ear as Dean ranted on about Sam.
By the next Thursday, things were moving very fast. Castiel resolved himself to go back to silently pining, and Dean had resolved to himself that Jo was not going to suddenly decide she was (like most girls) madly in love with Dean Winchester. He was starting to move on, and he decided to take Cas' advice of not going out with every girl who shows the slightest interest -okay, so maybe that was in hopes that Jo would notice that he's not a manslut. Instead of dating, Dean's process led him to spend that time with Cas, which made this silent pining thing harder for Castiel. All of which prompted Gabriel to accidently pull the dickiest move he's ever pulled, even including that note prank.
Dean and Cas decided to go see the new horror movie together that Thursday night. Cas wasn't exactly into horror, but Dean was, and Castiel wanted him to be happy, so Cas was happy. Until they ran into Gabriel at the theater. He was heading into the newest comedy with some girl from another school on his arm. Gabriel steered toward them to greet them.
In hindsight, Castiel would admit that their proximity and cheery mood, and the fact that Gabriel himself was on a date packed up as evidence, but nothing really, prepared him for what Gabriel said.
"What's this? Are you finally on a date? Cassy-boy, I didn't think you had it in you."
Dean's mood immediately soured. Not at being accused of being on a gay date, but at Gabriel seemingly picking on Cas.
"God, Gabe. What the Hell, man? You of all people are fucking with Cas?"
Gabriel frowned and turned to Castiel, who was positively mortified and a vibrant shade of red. He lowered his voice, "You mean, you didn't tell him?"
Tell me what?" Dean demanded, confused but still pissed at the possibility of the situation.
"Sorry," Gabriel said, throwing on his charming smirk, "I'm not sure what you're talking about."
Dean didn't drop it. He grabbed Gabriel's arm as he made to leave and turned to Castiel.
"What is he talking about Cas?"
Castiel couldn't find his voice but instead stared terrifiedly into Dean's eyes.
Dean let go of Gabe's arm as he worked his way back through the conversation, gears turning.
His tone softened, "Cas?"
That one word packed so much. "Is this serious? You like me? Since when? Why does Gabe know? Who else knows? You like me?"
Castiel unfroze, blinked at Dean and Gabriel, then fled the theater, pausing only to throw his unused ticket at a freshman standing in line outside the theater.
Dean brought Castiel to his house for the first time at the end of that first week that they met. Dean hadn't ever really bonded quite so quickly with anyone, but he was sure by the end of that first day that he and Cas were friends.
Sam was already home and playing with his soccer ball on the front lawn when they walked up. Dean slung his bag off in the driveway and joined his little brother. Castiel was never one for atheletics, and chose to stand by and watch the siblings interact.
"Cas, this is Sammy. Sammy, this is Castiel."
The younger Winchester frowned as he kicked the ball away from Dean, "It's Sam! Not Sammy."
Castiel smiled. "I'm pleased to meet you, Sam." He focused on Dean, who had stole the ball out from under his brother, despite his best efforts, and kicked it into the lone goal on the opposite end of the lawn. He vaguely heard Sam say something.
"He does that," Dean said in reply and ran back over to collect his bag. "C'mon, Cas, let's go inside."
Dean led Cas into the house, and Sam followed. They tried to sneak past the parents, but Mary spotted them and upon meeting Castiel, doted on him ever since.
The three hung out the rest of the afternoon in Dean's room, and (since of course Mary invited him to dinner) after dinner Dean opted to walk Cas home since he barely knew the neighborhood. Sam tagged along again.
They said their goodbyes for the weekend and the Winchesters walked most of the way home in silence, until Sam could no longer hold in his curiosity, and asked something that had been on his mind the entire afternoon.
"Is Cas your boyfriend?"
Dean stopped dead in his tracks. "Really, Sammy?"
"I'm just wondering. I mean you don't usually bring friends over, especially ones you just met. And the way you guys look at each other."
Dean chuckled, "What do you mean?"
Sam shrugged, "You stare at each other and it's kind of intense."
Dean pulled a resigned face, but said nothing.
"So, are you gay now?" Sam asked after a pause.
Dean glared at him, "Not even a little bit."
But that didn't stop the nagging feeling that Dean repressed every time he was around Castiel.
Dean was disappointed when he made his way to the crosswalk that he always met Cas at on Friday morning and Cas was not there. He was further disappointed once Castiel didn't show up at all by 8:15 and Dean had to run to make it to class (and he was still late). And when Cas wasn't at lunch either. He just wasn't at school, and Dean felt personally responsible.
He sat at a different table from everyone at lunch and felt Gabriel watching him. He was so lost in thought he didn't notice Gabriel come over and sit across from him.
Dean jumped slightly, but focused and pulled on a mask, "Hey."
Gabriel pulled out a handful of candies from his pocket and placed them on the table between them. He ate one and pulled his phone out and shuffled through his text inbox.
"So, about last night..."
Dean's cool mask fell. "Just stop. You don't have to defend yourself and I don't want to hear it. You hurt Cas, and that's not okay with me, dude."
"Geez, pretty boy, I was going to try to fix things, but now..." Gabriel looked down at his phone and smirked. "Maybe I shouldn't."
Dean looked at him as he took a candy from the table, otherwise ignoring Gabriel.
"Well, I'm doing this for Cas, not you. Even though he probably won't like this, but whatever."
He set his phone down in front of Dean and stood up. "I'm going to go get a soda. Mom took away my suckers and these hard candies just aren't doin' it for me."
Dean looked up at his friend in confusion then looked down at the phone. A text was open and he picked up the phone to scroll through it.
From: Cassy-boy "Gabriel, I am sorry to bother you but I need to talk. I want to talk to Dean about this, but Dean is the issue. I feel like I can't keep my feelings in any longer or I will explode. I know that sounds silly, but it's how I feel, and I have never felt this way and I don't like it. Do I just tell Dean that I love him? As you would say, this sucks."
Dean was still staring at the phone when Gabriel returned, a Mountain Dew and several packets of sugar in hand. He sat down and started mixing the two when Dean finally found his voice.
"Gabriel, I am sorry to bother you but I need to talk. I want to talk to Dean about this, but Dean is the issue. I feel like I can't keep my feelings in any longer or I will explode. I know that sounds silly, but it's how I feel, and I have never felt this way and I don't like it. Do I just tell Dean that I love him? As you would say, this sucks."
"What did you reply?"
Gabriel laughed, "You would be more concerned with that. I told him to shit or get off the pot, which is why last night I thought you two were on a date. Castiel and I haven't talked much this week and he seemed happier, so I figured he went for it. You two have always had a vibe."
Dean raised his eyebrows.
"Not that you give off gay vibes. I watched Cassy-boy fall in love with you," Gabriel paused to sip his sugar concoction. "And, even though I know you better, I watched you fall in love with him."
"Gabriel. You can't be serious. I mean, Cas is... a great friend, definitely my best, but?" He couldn't find an argument. He sighed and lowered his voice, looking around for eavesdroppers, "I'm not gay. I can't love him like that."
Gabriel snorted, "You know, Winchester? I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine. You know I like the ladies. I have a different hot girl every week from another school and I never remember their names after a month. But do you wanna know the real scoop?"
Dean took another candy from the pile and guessed that he did not want to know the real scoop.
"As you know, I have a fake ID. I get us booze and everyone's happy, no questions. But I don't just use my ID for the alcohol. No. I go to town every other weekend and hit up the gay bar. I have for the last six months. I'm bi, Dean. I pick up guys on the weekends and chicks all week. And I'm happy."
Gabriel took another candy and dropped it into his soda, swirling it around.
"And, I think you could be happy. Without Jo."
He downed the rest of the soda, pocketed his phone and picked up a few candies.
Castiel ran straight past his father on his way in after the most embarrassing moment of his life, ignoring the "I thought you were going to a movie?" that his father issued forth before Cas locked himself in his room, buried himself in his comforter and cried. His phone rang for what seemed like the seventieth time since departing from the theater and he threw it across the room, not wanting to talk to anyone about what had just transpired.
He didn't want to think about it either, but he couldn't stop.
He heard his father tap on the bedroom door and the repeated, "Castiel? Are you alright, son?"
But he didn't respond. He just softly cried for the rest of the night.
The next day, Castiel awoke at noon, having stayed up late into the night, brain in hysterics. He couldn't face Dean today, so school was certainly out of the question, even if school had started long ago. He dressed and went down to the kitchen, fully expecting his father to have left an angry note, but instead found a not-so-angry post it on the fridge. "I called the school, you're home sick. I'm not sure what is going on, but I fully expect an explanation when I come home."
He wasn't so sure his father would be so understanding if he knew his son was pining over a boy, but he decided to spend the afternoon bracing himself for that talk by grabbing a bowl of Spaghettios and finding whatever was on the History Channel. Of course it was an program about Angels.
He listened to it absentmindedly, trying to focus on what he was going to tell his father that evening rather than thinking about last night. Halfway through his lunch, there was a knock at the door. Cas was sure neither Novak was ever home on a weekday at this time, so he was not sure who to expect at the door, and he had no idea how to react when he opened the door to find Dean Winchester standing on his porch.
He pulled his features as expressionless as he could get them, and the staring contest began.
Dean's eyes traveled down to Castiel's shirt, which just happened to be the one he got at the rock concert he went to with Dean. He put it on without thinking about it, but he was kind of glad he was wearing it since Dean blushed upon seeing it and looked away from the Novak house before turning back to him and stuttering, "I... Can I come in? We need to talk."
Cas stepped back to let him in, nodding, as he was unable to find his voice. He led Dean into the front room and was glad he still had the Spaghettios to preoccupy him as he sat on one end of the couch and Dean sat on the other. Dean wordlessly offered him a candy from his pocket, and ate it himself when Cas declined.
After a silence, filled by the television spouting things about the Archangel Michael, Dean spoke.
"Do you remember the time we met?"
Cas swallowed the last bite of his meal, "I gripped you tight and saved you from that bus."
He smiled fondly at the memory, dropping his guard.
Dean chuckled lightly at Cas' choice of phrasing. "Yeah, I wanted to punch you until the bus went by." He paused, thinking through his next move.
"But then I wanted to kiss you."
Castiel's smile faded and he stared blankly at his companion.
"But, I pushed that thought far from my mind, because I am not gay. It kept coming back too, like Sammy would tease me for hanging out with you more than my girlfriends, or the time I found out that you were (well are) gay, I just pushed it back further. Which is weird because no one would judge me – at least no one that matters, and I really don't care what everyone else thinks about me anyways." He shifted in his seat, not taking his eyes off of the tv screen. "And now I find that you like me, which I swore that you didn't, so that little thought I had about you - as much as I said it didn't matter, it could have."
He turned to face Castiel, who was somehow closer to him, and looked at him as if to say, "Your move."
Castiel's hands were suddenly on his face, his eyes searching Dean's for confirmation, but even so, he did not follow through. So, Dean took the lead, his mouth finding Cas's with practiced ease, and despite his prior hang-ups, he found this to be better than Cassie, or Lisa, or even how he imagined Jo.
They vigorously explored each other, Dean pushing Castiel back to a lying position on the couch as he pressed kisses into the crook of Cas' neck as little promises.
They spent the better part of the afternoon making out, both wanting to take it slow and do this relationship right, but still wanting to touch each other very much. Dean left so he could get home about his usual time, so as not to inform his parents that he skipped out on the second half of school that day.
His father arrived shortly after Dean left, and was surprised to see Castiel in such an improved mood.
"I take it you and Dean made up?"
Castiel looked a little confused, and nodded, swallowing hard, trying to figure out how to tell his father exactly what was going on.
"Good. I mean, if he makes you happy, then I won't tell his parents that he skipped school," he smiled.
His son's mouth gaped open for a second. "You know?"
"Of course," he nodded, "We may not be the closest family, but you are my son, and I know you, even when you think I don't."
He hugged Castiel before taking control of the remote. He never did like the History Channel.
Castiel ran upstairs to find his phone, and share the good news.