"Cas, this is good. I don't know what you're losing your shit over but this is good. You didn't seem to have a problem with the last speech you gave," Dean remarks, flipping through the note cards the valedictorian has prepared. He's careful to avoid any specific mention of the funeral or Sister Anna. Cas is healing still, and though he's doing really well, Dean is terrified he'll rip out the sutures if he's not careful. Castiel continues to pace the dorm room, tearing at his hear.
"At the funeral I was emotional. I was speaking from the heart. I didn't even know I was going to give that speech until I was up on the podium. But this, this is nerve-wracking. Couldn't I have gotten a B in just one class? It would have been worth it, to be able not to do this."
He plops down on the bed next to Dean looking very much like a terrified puppy.
"Cas, man, relax," Dean says. He rubs comforting circles across Castiel's back, reveling in the way the other boy seems to melt under his touch.
Dean's done his fair share of freaking out about graduation too, though, not that he'd ever admit to it.
His dad is probably coming to the ceremony, that much he's accepted. What worries him is not knowing where exactly he and his dad stand on , well, anything. The whole boyfriend thing is actually the least of Dean's worries. What worries Dean now is the future. With graduation only five days away, Dean's never been more unsure what he's going to do after high school. Will he even have a place to stay? Money with which to live? To eat? And what about Cas? But then again, that's the one thing Dean is certain of. Whatever he does, wherever he goes, Cas is coming with him. In some ways Dean has never been more certain of anything. He looks up at Castiel with a small, contented smile.
"What?" Cas stops panicking just long enough to ask.
"Nothing," says Dean. "Just happy."
And it's the damndest fucking thing. He is.
"Wow," Sam says.
"What? I look stupid, I know. It's a graduation gown, I think it was designed to look stupid."
"No, Dean, you… you look great," Sam reassures him. It's a lie, Dean knows. He looks dumb as fuck. But Sam means it, and there's an emotion on his face that Dean can't place. Pride maybe? "I never thought you would actually graduate. Shit, that sounded bad. I mean,"
"I know, Sammy. I never thought I would either. And on time and everything, with not a D on my report card. For uh, this semester, anyway," Dean says with a crooked smile. And he's proud, he really is. He knows it's a stupid thing to be proud of, just graduating high school. But it's a big deal for him. It's more than he ever expected of himself.
"I wish mom could be here," says Sam. Dean's smile fades rapidly.
"Come on, Sam, don't even start with the girly emotional bullshit. I'm graduating, not getting married."
"Yet," Sam adds with a smirk. Dean punches him on the arm, trying not to think too hard about his mom, or what she would say if she were there. He doesn't want to be one of those saps that cries at graduation.
The ceremony is held in a field behind the school, all decked out with white plastic folding chairs and balloons and streamers and flowers. It's as good a place as any to graduate, Dean thinks. He sincerely doubts anyone here managed to sneak in a blowup doll, though.
As valedictorian, Castiel is sitting up on the stage along with the headmistress and a few other probably important people Dean doesn't give a shit about. As a Winchester, Dean is sitting in the very back row, right next to Gordon Walker.
Dean didn't have the chance to meet up with his dad before graduation. He searches the bleachers set up on behind the rows of chairs for Sam and John and when at first he can't find them, Dean starts to think maybe his dad bailed after all. But eventually he spots them, sitting at the very top of one of the bleachers, eyes trained on the headmistress as she gives the first speech of the ceremony. Something settles within Dean. He's a lot happier now just knowing that they're there.
Gordon keeps looking at Dean out of the corner of his eye like he wants to start something, or like he's waiting for Dean to start something. Dean's not biting. He just has to get through graduation, just the next hour and a half, and then he'll never have to see or hear or speak to Gordon Walker again.
He should have known it wasn't going to work out like that.
The headmistress finishes up her speech by introducing Castiel and calling him to the podium. Cas looks terrified. He approaches the podium on unsure feet, hands fidgeting nervously with the edge of his gown. Dean tries to shoot him a reassuring smile but he's not sure Cas catches it. He draws the microphone up to his mouth level and clears his throat.
Then Gordon Walker stands up and screams "FAGGOT," as loud as he possibly can. It's silent for a second as the word reverberates across the field. Cas blinks in surprise. He looks up at the crowd just in time to see Dean punch Gordon in the face for all he's worth. And then chaos erupts. Dean just barely registers that someone is grabbing him from behind, holding him in place before Gordon takes a swing at his face and everything goes black.
Dean wakes up in a bed. It's not his bed, and it's not a very comfortable bed, but his head hurts enough so that he doesn't really mind that. The first thing he notices when he opens his eyes is that it is very bright, the kind of fluorescent lighting only used in hospitals and schools and other places no one actually wants to be in. Okay, so he's probably in a hospital.
"Hey boy. You're awake," comes a gruff voice from a chair beside Dean's bed. Dean turns his head toward the voice and sees John, looking more worried than Dean thinks he has any right to.
"How long was I out?" Dean asks. His voice is scratchy and dry and his father hands him a cup of water.
"Few hours. Nothing major. Docs think it's a concussion but you should be out of here soon enough," John explains. He doesn't sound or look angry, which is weird. Dean just ruined the only chance John will ever get to see his oldest son graduate by punching a guy in the face, causing pandemonium in the middle of graduation and getting knocked cold before he even got to walk across the stage.
"I'm sorry, dad. You're probably pretty pissed at me."
"No, Dean. I'm not," says John. He looks amused. "That was the most exciting graduation I've ever been to." When Dean continues to silently sip his water, John continues. "Look, what you did was brave. It was braver than anything I've ever done, and I'm proud of you. I don't tell you that enough, but I am. I know I've… I know I could have done better with, well, with a lot of things these past few years. But you turned out alright, didn't you? And Castiel… Dean, the kid's been right by your side the whole time you were out. I just now sent him and Sammy back to the school to pick up your diploma. They're giving it to you still, by the way. They weren't going to, but by the time I was through with the sons of bitches… anyway. Cas seems like a real good kid. I don't get it, probably never will, but you seem happy with him and I guess that's all that matters, right? I've done enough butting into your life. Time for you to make your own decisions."
Dean's first thought is that he's in a coma. The punch sent him into a coma and now he's sitting in some alternate dimension of a dream world where his dad gives a shit about him and actually understands a thing or two. He blinks. Shakes his head, all but pinches himself until he's able to finally decide that, yeah, this is really happening.
"Wow, dad, I. I don't know what to say," Dean finally stammers, shaking his head in disbelief.
"You don't have to say anything," John says. "Well, actually, you do. Tell me about your plans. What do you want to do now that high school's over and you've got an, um, boyfriend?"
"Well I was thinking of moving to San Francisco with Cas, you know, taking up interior decorating. Cas could be a hair stylist. He's got a real flair for it, you should see what he can do with a bottle of gel."
John narrows his eyebrows in frustrated confusion.
"Dad. Joking," Dean says. "I'm thinking about becoming a mechanic. Maybe I could get a job at a shop somewhere. Don't know about Cas. We'll make something work out, you don't have to worry."
"Trust me, son, I'm plenty worried."
They talk for a while about the best places to live, prices of apartments, and all the while it's just starting to sink in that maybe this is actually going to happen. It's too fucking close to a fairy tale ending for Dean to fully believe it, but as he talks through various plans with John, he starts to picture the ending, how he wants it. And it's pretty damn good. And who knows? Maybe it's time for something good to happen to Dean. He doesn't like to think about the concept of destiny, or fate, and he sure as hell doesn't like to believe that he's entitled to anything. But maybe this time, Dean punched the right asshole in the face for once. Maybe somewhere, God is up there thanking him.
Dean never thought he'd be the one to leave. Sam had always been the rebellious one, and Dean the faithful servant. He always thought that if anyone were to give the middle finger to their dad's plan and walk away, it sure as hell wouldn't be him. But then came a boy with ruffled hair and eyes like the morning and, without even meaning to, he tore up the life John Winchester had fabricated for his son, and made it whole again.
That's what Castiel did, Dean thinks, made him whole. As cliched as it sounds, Dean is certain of it. He and Castiel are like two pieces of entirely different jigsaw puzzles that, for some inexplicable reason, fit together perfectly to form something completely unanticipated.
And it's perfect, what they have. Or as damn near perfect as it's possible to get. Not the 200 square foot apartment or the shitty minimum wage jobs or their neighbor the nocturnal, amateur violinist. But none of that really matters. What matters is staring up at Dean from the mattress they share, tired face painted with orange stripes from the glow of the city through the slits of their cheap plastic blinds, asking him if he ever thought in a million years that they would end up here. Dean doesn't answer. He doesn't need to. He cups a hand to Castiel's face, brushing a thumb along his cheekbone.
Dean doesn't know what the future holds. He knows it's not going to be easy. Nothing good ever is. He knows there will be nights where he doesn't sleep a wink and weeks where all they can afford to eat is ramen noodles and stupid fights about nothing. But despite all of this, as he looks down at Castiel, Dean can't help but grin stupidly at his luck. He smiles because, for once, he thinks they're gonna be alright.
I'm so excited to have finished this wow so excited. I hope you guys liked it I can't tell you how much fun I had writing this.
I also can't tell you guys how much I appreciate your support through this. You all are seriously the greatest for reading this and I am so lucky to have you.
If you haven't listened to No Sound For You by Tallhart yet, you should.
I've got a few ideas for possible upcoming fics but I guess we'll just see how that works out.
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