Beta: The Awesome Kodamasama! (kodamasama(dot)livejournal(dot)com)
Movie Prompt: While You Were Sleeping, for dc_everafter (dc-everafter(dot)livejournal(dot)com)
Rating: PG-13.
Pairing: Brief unrequited Castiel/Sam, eventual Castiel/Dean, slightly Sam/Gabriel.

Summary: Castiel pretends to be engaged to an unconscious Sam Winchester after saving his life but can't fool his brother, Dean.

*º*º*

While You Were Sleeping

*º*º*

The thing Castiel remembers most clearly about his childhood is his dad's big, loving hands reaching for him.

"Come here, my son," he would say, picking the small boy up and sitting him on his knee. "Let me tell you about how I fell in love with your mother."

"Daddy, you told that story a hundred times now!" Castiel would always whine and pout over being taken away from uncle Television but sit still and listen to the story anyway.

His mother died when he was only a baby, and stories about her were very precious to him – unless his favorite cartoon was on. The story he enjoyed the most was about their wedding: how his mother wore a modest, white dress, the only one they could afford, and still managed to look like the most beautiful woman that had ever set foot into that church.

Looking back on those days, Castiel thinks his father would have been so disappointed if he could see him now, at the age of 26. When he was younger, they would spend long afternoons talking about traveling all over the world – a future where they wouldn't have to struggle so much just to make ends meet, where Castiel wouldn't feel so bad for being so different, and his father would one day forgive himself for not being able to give his only son everything he deserved.

In Castiel's senior year of high school, his father, after looking around at their empty little apartment, said, "If you don't fight for what you want, son, you'll wake up one day and realize you have done nothing with your life."

It always hurt to hear him say this, so defeated by their poverty and the hole his wife had left behind. "I am fighting, Dad. That won't happen to me. I'm going to college to get a decent job and then I'm going to take care of you."

His father gave him a tired, wise smile, like he knew things about life Castiel had no idea of. He probably did. "Life doesn't always go the way we plan."

At the time, his young self wasn't so naïve as to think every little detail about his life plans would go the way he wanted, but he'd at least believed he could achieve the general picture. The going to college, the job, the caring for his worn-down father, and finally, the meeting of his life-long partner.

He hadn't thought his career would be a big challenge, even if he had been working part-time in a grocery store since he was 14 to help pay the bills and studying any other minute he wasn't asleep. The real problem was the part about finding his soul-mate.

Early on, his father realized Castiel was gay but didn't find anything wrong with it, even with his religious upbringing. He believed God had a purpose in making Castiel feel like that for people of his same gender, just the way He had a purpose in taking his wife away from him at such a young age.

Now, what he didn't believe in and didn't accept was casual sex – which he referred to as 'fornication' – and how young people like to try out a relationship until the novelty wears off so they can go to the next one and then the next one, until their souls and bodies are tainted by filthy, worthless sex. And he would repeat this again and again and again until Castiel promised he would access his feelings before getting intimate with someone.

So in the end, it's all his father's fault, really. Even though Castiel didn't become as radical about sex because of his father's morals and his loving stories about his wife, Castiel is probably the last loser on Earth who still believes in true love and how you should at least like the people you fall in bed with. Well, Castiel and a few women, that is, and maybe it wouldn't be so hard getting himself a partner if he was actually interested in the opposite gender.

All in all, it's a 'Disney Princess Fantasy'.

The second problem about finding his soul-mate – and really, he's the only human being who still says 'soul-mate' - is his personality.

"You're very special, Castiel," was his dad's usual pep talk. "That's why you deserve someone special to love you. Not just any old Joe."

Yes, 'special'. Special is such a nice word when you don't want to say 'you're a fucking alien'.

It's not that Castiel is just shy - which he certainly is - but the real problem is that he's also socially retarded. To the extreme. To the point that when asked, "Would you like to go out with me?" he'll answer, "But we're already out".

He doesn't understand jokes, one liners, puns, or other sorts of word play. What he does understand is that sometimes people say things – mean things - they don't really mean, but he is not to take offense to them because 'teasing affectionately' is not the same as 'mocking'. He can never tell them apart.

Yeah, and people say he is the weird one.

His third problem comes in the form of his only family member passing away. He was 17 when they discovered his father's cancer, and Castiel had to forget all about higher education in order to work two jobs to get them through the month, plus pay for the expensive treatment.

For years all Castiel did was pray and work and worry while he held those big, loving hands from his childhood. His father grew weaker and weaker, until one day God decided it was time he joined his wife. That afternoon, sitting on his beat down armchair at the hospital, he said to him, "I'm so proud of you, son." And he fell asleep like he did any other afternoon before Castiel could ask him what he meant.

What made him proud Castiel never found out.

After two years he still searches for what's there to be proud of when he wakes up at five AM to an empty room and a cold bed. His apartment has no colors, no personality to it, portraying exactly how he feels inside. Even his libido has apparently crawled into a hole and died.

He hates how boring he is, how his life has been frozen into a loop since the age of 17, a vicious circle he can't break. Wake up, go to work, come back, repeat.

At least he doesn't work two jobs anymore and instead passes his days as a token collector at a train station - which makes him barely enough money to get by while spending every spare dime on the loans he had to take to cover hospital bills. Loans he will be paying for the next three or so years.

Nothing in his life went the way he planned, and he's still only 26.

*º*º*

It's two years after his loss when he starts thinking about romance again, and it comes in the form of Giant, Dark, and Extremely Handsome.

The first man Castiel develops a strong crush on doesn't ask him on a date or present him with the things he favors. The guy gives him a dollar fifty for a train token and runs to the platform without even looking at him, but it's all it takes for Castiel to look forward to the next time they meet.

Everyday at 6 PM, the holder of his affection takes the train wearing his usual black suit and expensive looking overcoat. If the weather is particularly cold, a brown scarf that matches his eyes is also wrapped around his neck, concealing the perfect skin under it.

The man is deliciously tall and big, and Castiel can just imagine how strong his arms are and how well defined his abdomen is; doesn't matter if he never saw them, he knows it to be true…

Yes, he may be a pathetically romantic Jane Austen character, but he does have a libido. Somewhat. It's asleep most of the time.

It's not that Castiel believes right off the bat the guy is his soul-mate, but he would very much like to find out.

He's probably funny too, this guy. One of those people everyone loves to spend time with, hands touching his arms and shoulders as they chat. A real winner, with his elegant clothes and his… everything.

It figures that Castiel would have a crush on a guy who doesn't even know he exists. For now, that is, because one day Castiel will find a way of introducing himself, and his giant will fall in love with his shyness and his dorky trench coat and his formal way of talking. Castiel likes to think that - whoever this man is – he is special enough to see in him all the things his father used to.

But now, though, the only interaction they have is made up of one syllable greetings.

"Hi," the man always says without making eye contact and walks to the platform like his mind is someplace else – probably distracted by all the awesome things that likely happen in his life.

"Hello," is Castiel's usual answer, but he makes sure he has walked away before adding, "I like your new coat. Oh, I do want to go on a date with you; I'm very happy you asked. Can you pick me up at seven? Or we can just skip the date and get married, that works too."

Rufus sometimes catches him during one of his monologues and stares at him like he's crazy – and Castiel is not denying anything. "Son, who the hell are you talking to?" Rufus asks, but his tone of voice is fond.

"My future husband," he informs his boss with a shrug. When all the older man does is stare at him blankly, Castiel points at the handsome guy waiting for the train at the platform.

"Does this fellow know he's your future husband?"

"Not yet."

"Make sure you tell him before you folks tie the knot." Rufus pats his back and walks away shaking his head. He may or may not have an amused smile on his face.

*º*º*

Rufus acts cranky most of the time, but when he wants a favor he has no qualms about buttering Castiel up and messing with his heartstrings. "Does it help if I say you're our most dedicated employee?"

"This isn't fair." He can't stop his shoulders from slumping. "I've worked every other holiday this year so I could stay home for Christmas."

"Chuck is sick, and Ash's got a big family thing going on, so you're the only one left." The older man looks at him pleadingly. "I've got a family, Castiel. I promised my kid I'd be home this year."

'And you don't' is more than implied. But Rufus knows Castiel won't keep him from his little boy just so he can spend the day watching Christmas special reruns in his pajamas.

And that's how he finds himself on Christmas day in a bad mood while the people passing by his booth hurry up to go make merry at their own homes… Assholes, his sulky mind provides.

"Hey." There's a tap on the glass of his booth window. It's the guy. The giant, the guy, his crush, and he's smiling down at him with his perfect, white teeth. "Merry Christmas."

"Whaoat-" Castiel can only open his mouth like a fish out of water. The guy has his back already turned to him by the time he manages to blurt out, "Merry- Merry Christmas to you too."

And it's over. It happened. The gorgeous man of his fantasies talked to him. And Castiel could only blink at him like an idiot.

"I like your hair a lot. It looks fluffy," he shouts, covering his face with his hands. He can imagine what the guy saw when he looked at Castiel - a bumbling idiot with messy hair, the total loser who has to work on Christmas because he has no family to spend the day with. "You're beautiful. Will you marry me? I'm free in July…"

"Nice coat," he hears someone saying from the platform. Looking up, he can see two teenagers – probably delinquents - tugging on the Giant's scarf until it unrolls from his neck. The man tries to reason with them, but a brusque movement from one of the youngster sends him falling backwards onto the tracks.

He cries out as he falls, and Castiel can feel everything inside him twisting painfully as he realizes his legs are already taking him out of his booth.

The teenagers who caused the accident run past him, but Castiel only cares about the unmoving body sprawled on the train tracks beneath him. The few people on the platform call for help, and Castiel himself start to shout in what's likely his most public display of emotion yet.

"Sir! Are you okay?" he yells. His voice barely sounds like his own as it quivers. "Can you get up?"

The man makes no sign of awakening. Every fiber in his body screams at him not to go down there… But what if he hit his head? What if he isn't breathing?

His legs are shaky, but he climbs down anyway, blood pumping in his ears, and he tries desperately not to pass out on top of the man he's trying to save.

"Wake up, sir! Can you get up?" Castiel checks his breathing and shakes his shoulders while a distant voice tells him he shouldn't move a victim for they could have injuries in their neck or spine.

But if he doesn't get up soon, his neck will no longer be a problem...

"Wake up, sir!" A whistle comes from somewhere in the distance, and Castiel would do anything to never have to see a train from this particular angle. "The train- The train is coming! Wake. Up!"

The train blows its whistle, and Castiel can imagine the conductor screaming 'Get the fuck out'. The sharp noise of the brakes is nauseating because he knows there's no way an express train can stop in time to avoid the collision.

God, please, he starts thinking, but there's no more time to pray. Grabbing the man in a painfully tight grip and throwing his own weight back, he pulls the unconscious body on top of him as they roll to the parallel track.

And it's over in an instant. The train passes by their side, shaking the ground, sparks of light flying all around them due to the power of the brakes. Castiel's stomach is clenching so painfully he has to stroke his abdomen to make sure he didn't really die a moment ago.

His Giant is still worryingly asleep.

*º*º*

The ambulance ride to the hospital is the most excruciating experience Castiel has ever been through.

Most people would probably say something like a train almost running him overshould be more distressing, but at the time he had adrenaline pumping wildly through his body, which made it easier for him to do something other than scream and agonize from the platform.

Now all he can do is sit and watch helplessly as the ambulance doctors try desperately to stop the bleeding from the man's head injury – he'd only been allowed to go along due to his refusal to let go of the victim. Searching in his pockets they find a broken iPhone and a driver's license belonging to a 'Samuel Winchester'. Castiel can feel a headache coming on. He once wished to learn the name of his desired man, but not like this…

Even as they arrive and run through the hospital hallways with Sam on a stretcher it still feels like he's sitting in that speeding car in a dazed mental state. They finally stop inside the emergency room, and while the nurses get themselves busy, Castiel takes Sam's large hand in his own. The skin is soft, although a bit dirty from rolling over on the tracks; long fingers remain limp in the palm of his hand, and he wonders if an unconscious man can be as afraid as he is right now.

"It's okay, Sam," he says close to his ears, not really caring if the nurses can hear him. "It's going to be okay. We're getting married, you and me. In July. You'll see."

Like a private joke between the two of them. Except, Castiel is the only one in on it.

A hand takes hold of his arm and yanks him back with force, dragging him out of his stupor. "What do you think you're doing?" a cranky looking doctor inquires. "You can't stay in here. Family only."

"But I-" he tries.

"No."

"I just-"

"Are you family?" The man raises an eyebrow, and even if Castiel wasn't a terrible liar he knows he wouldn't be able to pull this off.

"No, but-"

The doctor points him to a chair in the hallway, and there's nothing Castiel can do but watch as they take Sam further away into the emergency room.

*º*º*

"Hi," a blonde nurse with a cute smile approaches him. "I'm Jessica."

He almost jumps from his uncomfortable chair and splutters out, "How is Samuel?" After spending the last few hours waiting and waiting and then waiting some more, without one nurse or doctor willing to tell him what they are doing to Sam, this woman is like a breath of fresh air.

"He's stable, don't worry," she assures him, putting a hand on his arm. "C'mon. I'll take you to him."

"Thank you." He sighs in relief and follows her. "My name is Castiel."

She nods. "I was there when they brought him in. I'm so sorry they didn't let you in. Some of our doctors have prejudices against you guys, but you have visitation rights, doesn't matter what they think."

Castiel really doesn't understand what she means by this, but again the things he doesn't comprehend can fill out a book. Thus, he diplomatically nods along, "Thank you, Jessica. You have a very pretty smile."

She snorts a laugh at that. What a corky guy.

The nurse stops at the door to Sam's room. The unconscious man looks weak and fragile despite his size; his face is pale like that of a corpse and his hands cold against his skin. Castiel fears for him.

"It's okay, Sam. You're going to be okay," Castiel whispers and hopes Sam can hear him and take comfort from the words, somewhere in his mind.

"Where is my son?" a male voice shouts. A group of five people in distress are questioning Jessica in the hallway, who quickly points them to Sam's room.

"Excuse me. You can't go in there!" one of the doctors says, but they are already bursting into the room while Castiel steps away from the bed.

"We're his friggin' parents!" the man barks back. They all gather around the bed, and the woman holding on to him begins to cry.

"Oh, Sam!" She cups her son's face in her hands.

"Is he okay?" another man asks; Castiel thinks he looks like an uncle.

A woman hugging a teenage girl, who is most likely her daughter, turns to the doctor. "What happened?"

"He's in a coma," the doctor calmly answers, and his composed attitude seems to calm them all down. "We did all the tests. His vital signs are strong, his brain waves are good." The doctor holds the mother's hands to reassure her. "He's fine. We believe he's going to make it."

Sam's father crosses his arms. "Then why is he in a coma?"

"Why did this happen?" the young woman asks her mother.

Castiel clears his throat. "Um, he was pushed from the platform at the train station."

Everyone stops and looks at him, only then noticing there's a stranger in Sam's room.

"And who the hell are you?"

"John," Sam's mother reprimands her husband.

Jessica makes a confused expression at that. "He's Samuel's fiancé," she says from the door.

There's a shocked silence followed by Castiel choking. "Excuse me-"

"Sam's fiancé? As in, engaged?"

"My son got married?" Sam's father, John, looks from the doctor to the nurse to Castiel.

"If the guy is his fiancé, it means they aren't married yet," the woman with the teenage daughter corrects him, and by the way she and John look at each other, they don't get along.

"Why didn't he tell us?"

"Bobby…"

The man raises his hands in a peace sign. "I didn't know."

"Maybe he told Dean?" the teenager suggests, and out of the lot of them, she seems the most composed.

"This is all your fault, John Winchester!" The woman with the daughter accuses Sam's father. "If you hadn't been a homophobic bastard-"

"Ellen-" Bobby tries.

John's face turns red. "Don't tell me how to raise my son!"

"I don't feel so good-" Sam's mother takes a step back, like she's about to pass out. John immediately lets go of his argument with Ellen to support his wife.

"Are you okay, ma'am?" the doctor asks, giving her a chair.

"Mary has a heart problem" Bobby tells him. "She's had three attacks-"

"They weren't attacks. They were episodes," Mary quietly says.

"I didn't know you were the fiancé." The doctor turns to Castiel, and really, he would rather stay invisible again. "I thought you saved his life."

"What?"

"You saved his life?" Mary asks, out of breath.

The doctor nods enthusiastically. "I heard this young man jumped on the tracks."

John crosses his arms again. "Did you now…"

Castiel gulps, trying desperately to explain himself. "Yes, but you don't understand, I'm not-"

"You jumped on train tracks for him…" the teenage girl says like she's under a spell.

"I never cared Sam was gay." Mary gets up and marches up to him. "I just wanted him to be happy."

And then she's crying. And hugging him. Hugging him while crying. Castiel wishes he could cry too.

*º*º*

As soon as Mary lets him breathe, Castiel pulls Jessica out of the room.

"Why did you say that? I'm not his fiancé!"

"Why did you say you were?" the nurse asks, more confused by the minute.

Castiel stares at her with his mouth open. "I never said that."

"Yes, you did," she insists. "You said you were going to marry him."

Realization dawns on him and Castiel wants to punch himself. "I was talking to myself."

"But later I said those things about the doctors… and prejudice…"

"Yes, but I didn't understand any of it! I don't understand what people say most of the time, so I just nod along!" Castiel shouts all in one breath. He doesn't remember a day when he raised his voice this much. "What am I going to do? His mother has a heart problem, I thought she was about to faint, I couldn't tell her-"

"Nurse." The man called Bobby comes from behind him, and Castiel almost chokes on his own spit. "Is there a pharmacy in the hospital?"

Jessica tries to smile. "What do you need?"

"Mary needs some nitroglycerin for her heart problem."

Castiel opens his mouth, but all that comes out are choked sounds until he finally manages to burst out, "Sir, I need to tell-"

"You know what." Bobby puts both his hands on Castiel shoulders and sighs. "I don't think this family would have survived if Sam had died. I think you saved them." The older man takes a deep breath before finishing, "Bless you, son."

As Bobby walks away, Castiel tries to contain the urge to facepalm himself.

*º*º*

Forget the almost-being-run-over-by-a-train part. Forget even the Sam-Winchester-bleeding-in-an-ambulance episode.

This is the most excruciating moment of his life, period.

"How did you meet my son?" John inquires, and Castiel tries to imagine what it's like to live with a man who sounds as scary as he does.

Mary smiles at him from her place on the waiting room couch. "Sam is so reserved we don't know anything about him anymore."

"That's what happens when a parent pushes their children away," Ellen starts, and John's face turns red with anger.

"Be nice, you two," Bobby warns them, looking particularly disapprovingly at Ellen. John reluctantly sits beside his wife.

"Be honest, did you meet Dean?" Jo, Ellen's daughter, asks him. "It's so like Sam to tell this stuff only to Dean."

"I never met Dean," Castiel says timidly.

"He's going to love you," Mary assures him. Castiel tries to smile but it feels more like a grimace.

"Where is Dean?"

"Taking care of the business," John says. "I'll tell him about Sam when we get home."

Everyone makes a face at this. "Dean is not gonna like no one told him about Sam."

"We will tell him. There's no point in telling him now. Someone's gotta hold down the fort while we're here," John says, and it sounds like he's defending himself from an attack that isn't there. Yet.

Jo hugs her knees against her chest. "How did it feel to save your fiancé?"

"Jo, he doesn't want to talk about that now!" Ellen cries out.

"Why not? I bet it was pretty romantic…"

"Sam was pushed from a train platform by delinquents. How is that 'romantic'?"

"The romantic part is Castiel saving him."

"Were you scared?" Mary asks.

"Yes…" he concedes. "I was scared he wasn't- Sam wasn't waking up."

"He's traumatized, leave him alone," John says.

"No one's making him tell the story," Ellen bites back. She and John start a shouting contest with Bobby as the mediator that lasts the next ten minutes.

*º*º*

At the end of the day, Castiel can't sleep. Because somewhere out there, there is a family who thinks he's someone's fiancé and a man who is unaware.

All in all, a very eventful day.

Castiel puts on some clothes and his usual trench coat, making his way back to the hospital. Jessica is no longer there when he arrives, only the nurses from the graveyard shift smiling sympathetically at him. They let him in after he says his name, confirming his suspicion that by now the staff thinks he's Sam's boyfriend.

Sam is as asleep, as he probably will be for some time still. He looks better now, with more color to his face, his chest rising and falling steadily. The floppy hair all over the pillow puts a smile on Castiel's face. "Hello, Sam."

There is no response. There is never any, really; even before he was in a coma, Sam never bothered to look at him, and Castiel doesn't blame him. From what he could gather from the conversations early on, Sam is a lawyer for a big law firm with a nice apartment, good friends, good clothes, and a good family. If Castiel was anything like Sam, he wouldn't pay attention to a plain-looking token collector either.

"I came to say that I'm sorry," he starts, sitting beside the bed. Castiel can't bring himself to touch his hands anymore, like holding them would be an even bigger violation of privacy than pretending to be his significant other. "I'm so sorry. I tried to explain but they wouldn't let me... Now they think we're engaged and I… I did not mean for this to happen.

"At the time I was-" His voice is not coming out the way he wants it, and his eyes feel wet, but he needs to say this, even if Sam can't hear him. Maybe especially because he can't. "I was going to tell the truth, but I couldn't… say anything because your mother's heart condition and then they kept talking and I just couldn't-"

It's been months since he last cried. The tears burning his eyes used to be a familiar feeling for him; a feeling he didn't miss and wished he could live without.

"And then later-" he continues despite his voice wavering, "I- I think I didn't tell them because your mother- She hugged me, and then Jo hugged me too… And no one's done that since my father passed away, and I'm just so…" So lonely.

There were never any best friends, family, boyfriends. His entire life he only had his father for warmth and support, but in that moment he had Mary too, and she hugged him like a mother hugs the son she hasn't seen in years.

It felt good to be loved, even if it was just a lie. Resting his head by Sam's shoulders, he tries to picture what his father would say if he could see him now. Probably something along the lines of, 'Search your heart, son. Are you really lying to protect this woman's health, or are you lying for your own benefit?'

Lying for the benefit of having a family for Christmas. That must be a new low for man kind.

*º*º*

Castiel wakes up with the steady beeping of a heart monitor. Memories of everything that happened the day before hit him in the head like a hangover. He brushes a lock of hair from Sam's eyes and whispers a goodbye before turning to go.

"Castiel!" Sam's family is in front of the door, blocking the passage and scaring the hell out of him.

"H- Hi." Castiel tries to think of an explanation for his being here but then realizes that for these people it makes perfect sense for him to sleep by Sam's bed.

"You're so dedicated," Jo sighs like this is her ultimate romantic movie.

"I just fell asleep," Castiel corrects her and turns to leave. "I have to go."

"John," Mary says, and that must mean something to him, for he nods and approaches him at the door.

"Hm, we didn't get to celebrate Christmas yesterday. We would like you to join us." He looks at his wife for support, and she mouths a word, to which he then says, "Tonight."

"I don't know," Castiel mumbles, looking for an excuse. "I have to work…"

"This is our card. We've got an auto repair shop. I'll just write down our address for you." John does that, and Mary takes the opportunity to list all the delicious food they will have in an attempt to convince him.

"I'll see what I can do-"

"You gotta come!" Jo tells him. "You haven't met Dean yet."

"That's right! You have to meet Dean," Ellen insists, and Bobby nods his agreement.

Yes, one more person for him to deceive. Hooray.

*º*º*

"Then keep nodding along. When this Sam guy comes out of his coma everybody's gonna be so happy no one's gonna care you lied to them." Everything sounds less complicated when Rufus says it.

"Well, okay, well…" Castiel paces around the booth. "What if he doesn't come out of his coma?"

Rufus shrugs. "Then they're none the wiser."

"No-"

"Castiel, let me tell you something. When my wife told her father she was gonna marry me, he had a stroke. You tell them now, you might as well shoot this woman, the one with the heart condition."

*º*º*

He knows it's wrong. He can feel it. But in the end he's still standing on the doorstep of the Winchester's house instead of staying alone in his apartment. What he expects to accomplish from this is the question that won't leave him alone.

If there are any laws against lying to someone, then a future headline will read, 'Man Deceives Family on Christmas'. Then everyone will shake their heads with a 'tsk' and tell their co-workers, 'What an asshole, right?'

"Castiel!" Mary all but jumps on him the moment she sees him at the door. Her arms are welcoming and her lips wet when she kisses his face. Castiel feels so happy he actually forgets about kissing her back. "Merry Christmas. John, Castiel is here!"

They all come to greet him, talking at the same time, and Castiel doesn't remember ever meeting a louder, warmer family. It's a huge contrast with his memories of peaceful Christmases with his father, only the two of them talking about what they were grateful for. That and unlimited reruns on TV.

Jo is the youngest of the family and has no problems with squeezing him tightly before kissing both his cheeks. Her mother Ellen gives him a quick hug much like a man's, complete with the awkwardness and the pats on his back. Bobby just rests a hand on his shoulder and looks at him, really looks at him, like he's trying to convey his support through his eyes alone.

"Welcome to the family, son," Bobby says, but his words only make him remember that none of this is real, and all these wonderful people will hate him once they know.

Because they will know, eventually. How long can he keep on lying? Or how Rufus had said it, 'nodding along'. And they will look back to this moment, to all their hugs and kisses on his cheeks, and they will be disgusted-

"Castiel." John comes into the room and interrupts his train of though by putting his arms around him - before the younger man has even turned to greet him. It's tight, like John doesn't remember how much strength he's supposed to use, and lasts for exactly two seconds before John quickly puts some distance between them. "We have turkey; I hope you're not into that vegetarian BS Sam likes."

"No, I- I like turkey. Thank you for inviting me." Castiel bows his head and Jo laughs at him.

"Dean is coming later. He stopped by the hospital to see Sam." Jo guides him to the

dining room and points at a chair. "You can sit here, next to me."

The dinner table looks like a photo from a magazine, one that screams 'Christmas the American way'. Castiel always thought this was a thing only in movies. Who in real life has the stamina, time, and money to cook turkey, stuffing, buttery cooked carrots, rice, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, and for dessert, pudding?

"Everything looks amazing. I'm afraid to touch it," Castiel says with his usual seriousness, and Mary blushes.

"I told Mary food is supposed to be eaten, not fussed about," Bobby says, but he can't take his eyes from the turkey either.

"I made the pudding," Jo tells him.

Ellen raises an eyebrow. "Part of the pudding."

"Like, 80 percent," she whispers to him with a wink, and Castiel decides he rather likes Joanna Harvelle.

John doesn't appreciate talking over dinner, but Mary does, so she takes every opportunity to question Castiel about his life while her husband speaks only when addressed. It feels good to talk about himself with someone so hung up on his every word, even if his list of interests is somewhat small.

Soon enough, Castiel finds out John and Ellen are cousins, that Mary inherited the house from her father, that Jo is in her late teens, and that Dean practically runs the family business on his own, with the occasional help from his father and Bobby. They start the story on how their garage came to be, and next thing Castiel knows they have finished dinner and moved on to the living room where Jo starts grabbing the presents under the tree and passing them around.

From a corner on the floor by the fireplace, Castiel watches, fascinated, as they exchange gifts and light banter in a way only family can.

Bobby examines his present like he suspects a bomb. "Woman, why put paper around a box around a smaller box?"

"Robert, just open it." Ellen rolls her eyes and gets back to her eggnog. Castiel thinks they're a couple by their not-so-obvious way of carrying themselves around each other. Bobby is not Jo's father, though, if the way she keeps calling him by his name is any indication.

"I even bought Sam a special edition of his favorite movie, 'The Godfather'. The second movie, not the first one," Jo complains to him.

Castiel hasn't watched any of those, so he just nods and files this information in his Special List of Things Sam Likes.

Jo drops a box with red wrapping paper on his lap with a card: 'For Castiel, from Santa.'

"I can't accept this," he says right away.

She snorts a laugh. "Sure you can; just open it."

"I didn't bring any presents-"

"Why would you bring anything for Santa?"

Making sure everyone is busy with their own presents, Castiel tries to unwrap his box with care, wondering exactly when any one had the time to remember him. He doesn't know what reaction to have when inside is a green scarf with blue stripes, too bright to be anything he'd ever buy for himself but not too showy that he'd be averse to using it. Holding it, the fabric feels soft and comfy, so much so that he can't stop pressing it on his cheeks over and over again.

From the couch, Mary is looking at him with a smile, slowly sipping her wine.

"Thank you, Mrs. Winchester," he says, getting up from the floor.

"Mary," she corrects him. "I thought some color would suit your eyes. You have a beautiful pair on that handsome face of yours, I hope you know."

This time when she kisses his face he makes sure to kiss her back. Up close, the wrinkles on her face only manage to make her wise instead of old, and Castiel wonders if this is how Sam sees her when she hugs him.

Mary wraps the scarf around his neck, and he realizes it's been two years since he felt so loved. This moment is probably the closest Castiel will have of a mother; he'll enjoy it, lie or not.

*º*º*

Castiel is playing with a loose thread on his new scarf and wishing for the night to go on forever when he notices he's alone with John Winchester in the living room.

"Right." He clumsily makes his way around the boxes and wrapping paper on the floor. "I'm going to see if they need help in the kitchen."

"Sit down, Castiel," John says – orders – and the younger man takes a seat beside him facing the fireplace. His own father used to talk to him like this, but whereas he was loving, John Winchester is serious and unapproachable.

John hands him a whiskey glass. "I don't drink, sir," Castiel says. At the unamused expression he receives, he feels the need to add, "But thank you?"

The older man pours the content of Castiel's glass into his own, and he may not know all that much about drinking, but it looks like a lot of whiskey for someone who just had two beers and a glass of wine.

They watch the fire for a minute before John begins. "Does Sam talk… about me?"

Castiel doesn't move his eyes from the flames. "We never talk much about family," he says, and tries to believe this is somewhat true, even though his father had someday said, 'Half-truths are no better than lies'.

"I'm not getting into details," John continues, focusing on his glass. "Sam went to college thinking I hated him… I love my son. There isn't a day I don't regret what I said to him that day."

John stares at him after that, like he expects Castiel to contradict him or accuse him of otherwise.

"Okay." It's all the younger man has to offer.

"Yeah, well…" he fumbles with his words, having probably expected an argument and not knowing what to do when he didn't get one. "Then he came back from Stanford with his fancy degree and I thought to myself he'd finally forgiven me, but he doesn't even visit here anymore. He only calls Mary and Dean."

And Castiel suddenly understands. All this hospitality, this kindness… It's all because Sam is a distant son. If they can make Castiel like them, there might be a chance of having Sam back.

John takes a large gulp of his whiskey, and Castiel tries not to squirm in his seat. There was never any alcohol in his house growing up, and even though he understands the concept of social drinking, this isn't it; this is a man who will keep on drinking until he drowns all his pain and there's nothing else left for him to regret. It's not a scene Castiel wants to watch, especially since he knows there's nothing he can say that will make John Winchester stop. In the end, he has no right to impose on others merely because it makes him uncomfortable.

"Things will be different this time. You're bringing him home, when he's better? You're gonna tell him I love him, and that I took you in… like a son?"

His voice trembles at the last sentence and Castiel's mind is screaming no, this is wrong. How can he possibly tell this heart-broken man that nothing is okay, that his son is not coming back because the stranger he let into his home is no one.

Sam Winchester is going to wake up and take one good look at Castiel before unveiling the lie that he is. And when that happens – because it will happen – his shame will make him wish the earth could just swallow him whole so he wouldn't have to watch as realization dawns on Mary's face.

… But John is still looking at him with so much hope that all he can say is, "Yes."

*º*º*

To say Dean had been furious when he found out it took them this long to tell him Sam is in a coma, it's like saying a tornado is a cool breeze. Luckily for John – and Bobby, by association – he was too worried about his brother to stay and scream at his father some more.

After interrogating every doctor, nurse, and janitor in the hospital, examining Sam himself and calling Jo demanding to know everything that happened in the smallest details, Dean eventually sighs in relieve, admitting that the situation could be a lot worse.

Sam's doctor seems pretty confident his coma is temporary. With that in mind, he watches Sam breathe for half an hour more before leaving with a promise to come back.

One thing is for certain; whoever saved Sam deserves a friggin' medal for distance jumping and weightlifting.

Jo had also said she had juicy information that she wanted to tell him in person just to watch his jaw hitting the floor. Unless the doctors discovered Sam is actually a girl, he can't think of anything that can be that interesting.

Dean arrives at his parents' house past 10 PM, ready to eat like a pig and drink enough eggnog for both him and his brother. Sam is alive and he might wake up any minute now. If that's not reason enough to celebrate, Dean can't think of what is.

"Honey, I'm so glad you could make it!" Mary all but crushes him in a tight hug.

"Hi, Mom." He kisses her cheek and smiles at her relieved sigh. He can't imagine what it must feel like being this close to losing a son. "Sorry I'm late. The traffic-"

"There's someone you need to meet, but let me get you something to eat first," she interrupts him and goes to the kitchen where his father's and uncle Bobby's voices are drifting from.

Dean is about to follow her when a movement in the living room catches his attention. What is probably the cutest guy he's ever seen in his life is sitting on an armchair near the fireplace, eyes narrowed in concentration and staring at the flames.

For a moment all he can do is blink at the sight while his mental voice does a chorus of the word 'duh'. Dark hair and pale skin are just his type, and if this guy has the slim body he appears to have under his dark clothes, Dean is so screwed. Usually he would at least ask around to be sure the man isn't a distant cousin or something of the sort, but he's feeling too happy and carefree to stop himself from marching up to him and blurting, "Is this seat taken?"

A gorgeous set of blue eyes adorning the stranger's face look up at him, and Dean is hooked before he even introduced himself.

"Go ahead," the man replies with the guttural voice of someone who just had harsh wine burning his throat. "You must be Dean, the older brother."

Taking a seat, he hopes his mouth isn't hanging open like he feels it is. "How do you know?" Please, not a cousin. Please, not a cousin…

"Your mother said you were running late." He extends a hand. "I'm Castiel."

"Nice to meet you, Cas." Dean grins when the man seems pleasantly surprised with the nickname. "I don't remember seeing you around."

"I…" Castiel starts, searching for words, and Dean tries not to stare at the long fingers playing with a loose thread of the scarf on his lap. "Mary invited me. I was the one who helped Sam."

"Dude, no way!" Dean finally says after his mind catches up to this information. "You are the guy who saved my brother?"

"It was… It wasn't a-" Castiel twists the scarf in his hands. "Anyone would have done the same."

Dean hugs him, on impulse. Their positions are awkward, especially because Castiel doesn't know where to put his hands, but the hug is genuinely honest. Dean gives him a few pats on the back so it'll seem more manly than his wet eyes are making it out to be, and says, "It's not everyone who'd jump on train tracks to save a guy they don't even know."

"Okay then," Castiel murmurs. They separate, keeping a closer distance this time.

"Jo said you were awesome. I just… Thank you," he says, and hopes Castiel can understand the magnitude of what he did. "I don't know what I'd do without Sam, you know."

Up close, Dean notices how Castiel's nose is proportional to his handsome face, and he quite honestly can't remember seeing someone with features so agreeable before, so pleasant to look at.

"I'm glad he's alive," Castiel sincerely admits with a visible blush on his face. He looks down like he's embarrassed by his own words and God, Dean is a sucker for bashful, pretty guys.

This guy saved his brother. Dean has to refrain from dragging him upstairs to thank him the best way he knows how. What started as possibly the most terrible day of his life might end up being an amazing Christmas if he manages to score a date with this guy. He can't wait to see Sam's face when he tells him how he thoroughly rewarded their saving angel - his brother will probably wish he was still in a coma.

If Sam could, he'd yell something like, 'Dean, I'm in a coma, you jerk! Stop hitting on the poor guy!'

Dean takes hold of a thin wrist, making the decision of going through with this. "Let me buy you dinner."

"You don't have to-" he quickly says, but Dean doesn't let him continue.

"I want to. You saved Sam's freaky ass! It's a miracle he didn't crush you." Castiel snorts at that, and Dean takes it as a cue to go on. "This calls for celebration."

"I can't-" Castiel tries to keep a straight face, but a smile insists on destroying his 'cool guy' facade. "You don't even know me."

"Yeah, that's why the dinner," Dean insists. "So I can get to know you better."

Blue eyes are fixed on his lips, his mouth slightly open due to his uneven breathing, and maybe Dean isn't the only one interested.

"Dean, your food is ready." Mary comes in with a glass of eggnog. "Oh, good, you met Castiel."

The man in question immediately draws back, posture rigid as he looks anywhere but at him. Maybe it was for the best; having a first kiss in front of his mother isn't something Dean is too comfortable with.

"Yeah, good thing you invited him, mom," Dean says, taking another look at Castiel's blue eyes to confirm that, yes, way to go, mom.

"Why wouldn't I invite Sam's fiancé?"

Dean almost chokes on the eggnog she brought him.

"… A what of what?"

"You didn't tell him?" Mary asks Castiel who is massaging his eyelids like he's in pain. "Castiel is Sam's fiancé."

"Sam doesn't have a fiancé," Dean slowly says, looking at her like he suspects his mother of hallucinating.

"Sure he does!"

"No, I'd know," he insists, disbelieving. "He would have told me."

Sam had mentioned a few times that his not-imaginary-boyfriend was sassy and loud-mouthed and really short. Dean can understand why he would say Castiel was short, mostly because Sam is a friggin' giant so people probably look like ants to him, but there is no way this cute, shy guy can fit the description he was given.

Besides, why Sam would just mistake friggin' 'Castiel' with 'Gabriel'?

"Sorry I didn't say anything sooner, Dean," is all Castiel has to offer as confirmation. Blue eyes don't look at him anymore.

But they were- Castiel had been out of breath. Right? They were going to kiss. And he didn't say 'no' to dinner-

What the hell is going on?

*º*º*

"Hi, this is Sam. Please, leave a message after the beep."

Beep.

"Sam! Hm, hi- hey, it's- it's Gabe. I, ah… I've been trying to call you for two days now, is everything alright? Well, I thought about what you said, and-" The voice huffs, frustrated, "Tsk, you were right, okay! I'm sorry I said all those things; you know I didn't mean any of it… Don't you? You know I'm sort of an asshole, and I overreact sometimes, and I'm possessive and-" He pauses. "What was my point? Oh, hm, you know all of this and you still asked me to- I mean, the ring, it's gorgeous, Sam! I don't even know what to say, except for… yes. Yes, God, I wanna marry you, I'm in love with you, Sammy-"

A loud beepfinishes the message.

The phone rings again before going to the answering machine. "Hi, this is Sam. Please, leave a message after the beep."

Beep.

"Dude, I wasn't done yet; what's up with your answering machine? Now I can't remember- No, wait, I was saying I'm in love with you… I am. I wanna live in Chicago with you, and get a house, and have lazy morning sex, I just… Please, call me. I can take the first flight out of here as soon as I close this deal… I'll make it up to you, I promise."

*º*º*

"Morning, Cas."

"Dean!" The man almost jumps, caught with a hand on the front door's doorknob. "You scared me. I didn't see you there."

"Were you gonna sneak out on us?" For Castiel, Dean looks like a guy casually sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, drinking his coffee. However, Dean actually woke up an hour early so he could corner their guest, who had been sleeping on the living room couch.

"No, I-" He coughs into his hand. "I have a job. I thought everyone was asleep."

"I'm not asleep." Dean grins at him, and Castiel feels his face getting warmer without his consent. "I can give you a ride."

"You don't have to."

"It's no problem. I'm on my way out anyway."

Dean grabs his coat and leads him to the garage, getting inside a slightly old Ford Focus Castiel knows belongs to Mary.

"So, where is this job of yours?" Dean asks.

"Randolph Station. But I need to go home first. To change," he adds meekly. After Castiel tells him his address, he realizes Dean's eyes are still fixed on him.

"You work at the train station Sam had his accident?"

"Yes, it happened during my shift."

Dean just nods and turns his eyes to the road. Castiel doesn't usually feel uncomfortable when awkward silences occur, but having Dean stay quiet for so long is disconcerting. From the short time they have spent together, he can already tell the oldest Winchester brother likes talking and probing and teasing; a silence like this can only mean he's meditating about something, and Castiel can take a wild guess on what that is.

"Is that where you met Sam?" he finally asks, and Cas winces in surprise. He never imagined this is what deceiving people would feel like, as if any question is an accusation, and every answer can give him away.

This particular lie comes naturally for him since it's based on a truth. "Yes. I collected his tokens everyday."

"And who asked who out first?"

"He did," Castiel answers after thinking for a second. "I'm not very good at these things."

"I see." Dean hums in agreement. It's a nice sound, Cas thinks. "Where did he take you for your date?"

Sam just seems like the type who would take his dates to luxury restaurants and then pay the bill – not because he's pretentious or pompous, but because he's likely used to nice places, nice things, and feels more comfortable in those locations. His mind quickly goes to the most expensive establishment he knows about, one he has never entered but saw the name of a few times in the newspaper. "Alinea. He paid," he adds for veracity's sake.

"…Right."

Dean is quiet again, mulling this over in his head, and Castiel can't wait to get out of the car.

"Did he order the roast beef? That guy really likes his meat," Dean comments casually, looking at the other man to see if he'll take the bait.

"Sam is a vegetarian," he answers, pretending he didn't notice what the other man just did. "Didn't you know?"

"Yeah, I just forgot… I guess."

No, you didn't. You're just testing me to see if I'm lying... Which I am.

Castiel massages his temple in a futile attempt to prevent a headache from settling in.

Not fuckin' soon enough they stop in front of his apartment, and he flies from the car. "Okay, thank you for the ride, Dean."

"Cas!" Dean shouts. Castiel turns around, hands grabbing the hem of his shirt; he makes no attempt at hiding how nervous he feels. He looks at Dean, waiting for whatever he has to ask this time, but Dean just shakes his head. "Hm, have a nice one."

*º*º*

"Hi, this is Sam. Please, leave a message after the beep."

Beep.

"Me again. I just wanted to be clear: when I say 'make it up to you', I mean blowjobs. Just so you know… Okay, bye."

*º*º*

After he comes back from work, Castiel realizes he hasn't opened the box one of the hospital staff gave to him the day before. Inside are all of Sam's belongings, including his broken iPhone, wallet, driver's license with an address, apartment keys, and cat food.

Castiel blinks at the cat food for a few moments before grabbing his trench coat and leaving.

Sam's apartment is in a very nice building, with big windows and expensive furniture, painted and arranged in a contemporary style: open, light, uncluttered.

Castiel smiles. It's like being in an exotic island all set for him to explore, but he must do so carefully, for one of the vases is probably worth more than his kidney could sell for on the black market…

He begins investigating with the living room. Most people like to display here only the books they are proud of owning. In Sam's case, the bookshelves are filled with expensive photography books, classic literature, and law textbooks.

On a shelf at eye level there are at least three different editions of Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' – two hard covers and one leather bound - one more expensive looking than the other. A paperback copy on the coffee table is almost falling apart, and he can imagine Sam lying on his giant couch reading it again and again.

Of course, Castiel doesn't collect books due to his shortage of pennies to rub together, so he mostly rents them from the local library. The emptiness of his bookshelf probably shows everything someone needs to know about his somewhat empty personality.

Scattered around the place are photos of younger versions of all the nice people who 'adopted' him the night before. One photo on the desk is particularly eye-catching; a shorter Sam on a beach hugs a Dean in his late teens. It promptly erases from his mind whatever purpose he had on coming here.

Dean looks boyish with his carefree grin and tanned skin, his exposed chest showing muscles starting to pop out, getting stronger and better defined. Castiel can't stop his imagination from picturing what the updated version looks like-

There is a sound of keys and a doorknob turning. "Cas?"

"I wasn't looking!" He drops the photo like it's on fire. Dean is standing at the front door blinking at him, and Castiel hopes he isn't sporting his best deer-caught-in-headlights look.

"What?"

"Nothing." He arranges the photo back in its place. "How are you, Dean?"

"Didn't you have to work?" He closes the door behind him, walking closer to find out what photo Castiel had been holding.

"I took the morning shift today."

"How did you get in?"

"Keys," he says, showing him the keys and hoping he won't recognize them as being Sam's.

"Of course, you got your own keys." Dean sighs, leaning against the wall and crossing his arms. He looks sort of miserable, and Castiel decides that's a terrible color on him.

"Someone has to feed the cat," he says, shrugging, like it's a thing he does on a daily basis.

Dean stares at him again, narrowing his eyes, until he says with an arrogant smile, "Sam doesn't have a cat."

A high-pitched 'meow' from the kitchen punctuates his sentence. A fluffy brown cat walks up to them, rubbing his back against the wall. Dean is gaping, and Castiel hopes it looks natural enough the way he holds the cat and puts it on the kitchen counter to feed it.

Dean just watches him, passing a little around the living room and looking around, as if searching for any clues as to what the other man touched before he arrived.

After the cat is done eating, Cas puts it back down and walks to the door. "It was nice to see you again-"

"Actually, I'm thinking of going to the hospital to donate blood in Sam's name," Dean too quickly says, putting his hands in his pockets as if he's intentionally trying to look casual. "Wanna join me?"

"… Sure."

*º*º*

The entire time they spend getting to the hospital and donating blood is nothing but another interrogation round, just like Castiel had predicted. Sometimes Dean looks triumphant, thinking he finally caught the other man in a lie, but the next statement makes him doubt his conclusions, which brings more questions, followed by more lies, and the entire cycle repeats itself.

For someone who never told a serious lie his entire life, Castiel thinks he's not doing so bad.

"When did you start dating Sam?" Dean asks when they are making their way to Sam's room.

September 17th, he thinks of saying. The very first day Sam started frequenting his train station, but he doesn't know if Dean will think him obsessed if he remembers the exact date or not, seeing that some people find his attention to details to be bordering on neurotic.

For some reason, he really doesn't want Dean thinking that of him, so he says, "Somewhere in September."

Dean eyes widen. "Three months? That was fast."

He sighs. "You have no idea."

When they arrive in the room, everyone, except for Jo, is already there sitting around Sam's bed in mid conversation. Mary perks up when she sees her supposed future son-in-law.

"Let's ask Castiel if he knows what Sam likes to watch."

"Sci-fi shows," Dean automatically answers, followed with a half second delay by Castiel with his own, "Sci-fi… stuff."

It sounded like he was just copying what Dean said. Dean crosses his arms, more suspicious than ever, and positions himself in front of his alleged brother-in-law.

"Which Doctor Who actor is Sam's favorite?"

Castiel moves his lips without making any sound until he murmurs, "Dave? Davi? David Tennant…" like a name he barely remembers reading in a magazine.

Dean looks slightly annoyed. "… He's everybody's favorite."

"I like Tom Baker." Bobby shrugs, continuing to play cards with John.

"What's his favorite book?" Dean goes on, voice louder than before.

Cas coughs into his hand. "I might be wrong, but I believe it's Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'?"

Dean's green eyes give an involuntary twitch that he finds endearing despite himself. "Favorite movie?"

"'The Godfather'." He then hastily adds when Dean opens his mouth, "The second movie."

"Favorite food?"

"What the hell is going on?" John puts his cards down on the table and stands up.

Dean takes a deep breath before solemnly saying, "I don't think he's really dating Sam." He takes a step back to stand by his father, unconsciously wanting his support.

"Why would you say that?" Mary asks, shocked that someone would ever accuse Castiel of such a thing.

Because he almost kissed me last night. "Because Sam told me he's been dating some guy named Gabriel, and he's sassy and a smartass and annoying as hell, and. You. Ain't. It," Dean shouts, punctuating every word with an accusing finger to Castiel's face.

"Dean Winchester, be careful now," Ellen warns him.

"'Gabriel', 'Castiel'. Maybe you got it wrong," Bobby tries, but it sounds contrived even to him.

"Yeah, I don't think so," Dean goes on, putting his hands on his hips. "Besides, if Sam was getting married he'd have told me."

"So that's what this is about," John murmurs, rubbing his eyes with his fingers. "Dean, you and your brother aren't joined at the hip anymore."

"No, it's not just that! Didn't you guys hear what I just said?" Dean is almost yelling, like a child getting desperate from their parent's disbelief in them. He looks at Castiel, and his expression is screaming, 'Say something, you cheating liar!"

"We're sorry about this," Ellen apologizes, and somehow, Castiel feels so much worse.

Mary is panting, raising her hand to grab her husband's coat. "John, I feel-"

"Are you okay?" John's voice is dripping with concern when he kneels by her chair. He turns to his son. "Look what you've done to your mother!"

"What did I do?"

"If he wanted to prove it, he'd prove it," Mary finally concludes, and stares at Castiel with hope in her eyes.

They are all looking at him, expectant. Now would be a very convenient moment for Sam to choose to wake up, so they could all focus on him and forget Castiel exists.

"I'm sorry, I don't think I know how to," he eventually admits. "All I can say is that I'm in love with Sam, and there's nothing else I can offer as evidence."

Somehow, even that sounds like a lie to him.

Does he love Sam? If not now, was he ever in love with him?

Sure…

He was, wasn't he? Castiel remembers being in love. At that train station everyday, dreaming up their lives together and exchanging one-sided conversations about marriage… Had he been in love, or was he just lonely?

What if he's just in love with the idea of loving someone but was never in love with the man himself?

Mary holds his hands in her own. "We believe you." And then she kisses him on the lips, dry, quick, and unromantic, like he has seen her do to Sam and Dean, and he wonders if he's now like a son to this woman, even if they only met two days ago.

John touches his back in support, and Bobby says, "You ain't no criminal who needs to prove your innocence, son."

The oldest Winchester brother looks embarrassed and angry as he leaves the room, and Castiel thinks this time Dean might actually have believed him too.

*º*º*

"Bobby?" Castiel is surprised to find him of all people ringing his doorbell.

"Is this a bad time?" the older man politely asks.

"No, no. Come in." He quickly looks around his living room to be sure there aren't any dirty dishes he forgot to clean. If Bobby thinks anything of his cold, dark apartment and its sparse furniture, he says nothing. "Do you want something to drink?"

"No, thank you. Castiel, there's something you should know," he starts, taking off his cap. Castiel had the feeling from the start that Bobby isn't much for beating around the bush. "On the night you were visiting Sam, I was outside the door. I know the truth."

"Oh, Bobby…" There. It's over. Castiel sits down, not trusting his legs. He had thought this conversation would play out with a lot of shouting, not with a cold confrontation, but Bobby probably doesn't like drama. "Sorry. I'm sorry. You don't have to worry; I'll tell them everything."

"Don't tell them a thing."

His eyes widen involuntarily. "I'm sorry?"

Bobby sits by his side. "Castiel, since they met you, they figured they had Sam back. If you tell them the truth, you'll take him away again. They need you, just like you need them."

He can't think of anything to say to that, except that lying is still lying, even if you tell yourself you're doing it for a good reason.

"You'll do the right thing," the older man finishes, putting his cap back on. With a long stare, he leaves the way he came, brusque and unexpected.

Castiel lies on his couch for the next hour thinking about what Bobby said. He reminds him of Rufus with his no nonsense attitude and his way of getting straight to business. Castiel thinks they would be good friends if they were to meet.

His door bell rings again. He seriously hopes Bobby hasn't changed his mind on the way home and decided to just kill him with a shotgun to spare everyone the unnecessary drama.

What he sees is Dean, looking as charming as ever with his jacket and his stupid green eyes and his beautiful smile. Dean stares at the floor a bit shyly, his entire posture the one of someone regretful, and somehow that makes him even more attractive.

"More questions?" Castiel raises an eyebrow. "Maybe you'd like to ask if I know what grade Sam got on his math test when he was 11?"

"Yeah, about that…" Dean scratches the back of his head sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Cas. I just overreacted? I guess I never got over the fact Sam grew up and that he doesn't need to tell me every little thing that happens with him, you know?"

And what else is he supposed to say to that? 'How dare you think my pretend engagement to your brother is a lie'?

"It's fine. Just forget about it," Castiel says and steps back to close the door.

"Let me make it up to you!" Dean quickly puts his foot in front of the door before it shuts. "That dinner invitation still stands."

Castiel isn't Sherlock Holmes when it comes to relationships – or, you know, life in general – but he's pretty sure Dean was asking him on a romantic date that night. That is, before he found out Castiel is to be married to Sam…

Dean doesn't seem like a scumbag who would steal his brother's lover away while said brother is in a coma, so… Castiel is very confused.

"I can see by your face you got it all wrong," Dean slowly says. "Not a romantic date. Just dinner."

That just makes him want to turn down the offer even more, for reasons he's not about to examine while standing in his hallway.

"I don't think that's a good idea-" he manages to say without giving too much away, but Dean seems to think he's refusing because of his distrust of him.

"C'mon, Cas! You're gonna marry my brother. I wanna get to know you better."

Green eyes look at him, pleading, and Castiel can't believe how handsome this man is leaning on his door frame, practically begging him to 'go out with him'. Dean gives him a smile again, the one he must know people can't resist.

"Pretty please?"

*º*º*

They go to a local restaurant where the only good food is Castiel's favorite burger. Dean seems to approve of his choice of meal, and they try to partake in harmless conversation without mentioning the name 'Sam'.

"What's your pastime, your hobby?" Dean asks, playing with a salt shaker.

"I don't have any hobbies," he says. He won't really blame Dean if he starts yawning any minute now.

"Everyone's got something they do in their spare time. You do have spare time, occasionally?" And there it is again, that grin. Castiel wishes it didn't make his skin shiver all over.

"Well, when I use the library's computer I enjoy typing random animal names on YouTube to see what comes up," he tells him with a small smile. "I like videos with animals from different species playing together."

Like all others before him, Dean has the 'what the fuck' expression on his face, but his mouth is also smiling and his eyes are focused on Castiel's face, like someone waiting for the end of a particularly good joke. "Like what?"

"Like, cats and rats curling up together. Iguanas and dogs, dogs and crows... There's even a man who taught a cat to climb on a dog's back, and then he taught a rat how to do the same to the cat."

"You serious?" Dean laughs, sliding a little on his seat. "Some evil mastermind put a rat on top of a cat, on top of a dog?"

"Well, the purpose was to show that even animals that are supposed to hunt each other can live in peace together," Castiel tries to explain but Dean only raises an eyebrow at him. "Oh, and 'evil mastermind' was a joke. I see."

The other man grins again. "Was it funny?"

"Yes. I'm laughing on the inside," Castiel promises him solemnly and it just cracks Dean up.

"You're really something, Cas," he says with a fond smile.

Said person tilts his head a little. "Something like what?"

"Just different." Dean doesn't go any further, perhaps because he doesn't know how to elaborate beyond 'different'. "I'm not much of an internet addict myself. That's Sam."

Right… Sam. Castiel had forgotten about him. Sam, his crush, his gentle giant. Sam, the only reason Dean is talking to him, buying him dinner.

"Does Sam like cute videos of kittens on YouTube?" Dean asks, and again, he looks at Castiel like he's analyzing him in secret, green eyes set on his face, waiting for him to slip and show any indication, any sign of lying.

Cas shrugs. "I don't know. You've known him longer than I have."

Dean nods, averting his eyes to the table. There is silence like in the car, and Castiel wishes for something different, something more familiar and comfortable between them. Maybe in a manner similar to when they were sitting close together in the Winchesters' living room, legs touching and Dean almost leaning over him… To kiss him.

Castiel clears his throat. "What's your hobby?"

"Restoring cars. Well, one car. A classic Chevy Impala." He looks at Castiel like he expects the name to bring some sort of sign of recognition, but when all he gets is an apologetic smile he shrugs. "It's okay. Not everyone is into these things. Bobby found her in a junkyard and I restored her by myself. Dad said I couldn't do it, and it took me months, but it was totally worth it."

"You restored a car deemed irreparable?" Castiel's voice is filled with awe, and it's been years since someone made him feel like he's awesome - since his younger brother's puppyish admiration. "She must be gorgeous."

"Maybe I should take you for a ride sometime?" he suggests and is embarrassed that his voice comes out a lot lower than he planned.

Castiel nods enthusiastically. "Yes, please."

Dean can perfectly picture Cas relaxed on the passenger seat of his baby; the mental image is so great he nearly suggests they go over to his house right away.

"Wanna hear a secret?" he whispers, and Castiel leans in over the table with amusement tugging on his lips. "I've been saving money to start my own business. A classic car repair shop."

"That's great, Dean!" he says with genuine excitement.

"Yeah, I got the entire thing planned out, and Sam is going to help me with the bureaucratic stuff." Having the other man so interested in him is like a shot of enthusiasm, and Dean goes on and on about the place he's planning on buying, all the things he'll need to make this work, and the clients he already has lined up.

Castiel keeps nodding without moving his eyes from his face, like this is the most interesting thing he's heard all year. "Have you told your father?"

Dean immediately sobers up. "Not yet. I keep meaning to, but I'm pretty much running the family business alone now. We used to be called 'Winchester and Sons'. Then Sam decided to go to college, and now we're 'Winchester and Son'." He smiles, but it looks sad on his face. "If I quit, it's just going to be 'Winchester'."

Castiel gives him a small smile of his own. If there is anything he knows about, it's not wanting to disappoint a father.

*º*º*

"Aren't you going to take your coat off?" Dean asks when their meals arrive.

"No, I'm sort of cold," he says, shrugging. He takes a bite of his burger, studying his companion in silence. Castiel never goes around telling people specifics about his father, but he decides a little bit of information about himself is in order after hearing 'top secret' plans. "It was my dad's. He passed away two years ago."

Dean is quiet for a moment. "Sorry."

"It's not your fault," he says. "Sometimes I get distracted and I'm afraid I'll forget the coat if I take it off."

Dean hesitates for a second before taking hold of his wrist on top of the table. It feels too intimate for Castiel, like a lover's touch, and he's suddenly very uncomfortable knowing other people could see his dazed eyes and uneven breathing.

If the other man notices his discomfort, he still doesn't let go. "Do you want to talk about him?"

And Castiel does, for no other reason than Dean asking. About childhood, his mother's death, his father's illness. For an hour, or two, he talks and Dean listens with more than due attention, as if his life is anything more than a sad story among millions of even sadder ones out there.

They have already forgotten their half-eaten food by the time Castiel gets to the day his father died and what he said before falling asleep.

"He said he was proud of me, but I never quite knew what he meant," Castiel finishes, shoulders slumping a little.

"Are you joking?" Dean almost shouts at this conclusion. "You, giving up college to stay with him, working non stop to pay for his treatment, always there for him, always supporting him…" Dean stops, searching for words. "You know, doing the right thing, that sort of stuff. Of course he was proud of you."

Castiel muses this over. "I see. It does make sense, when you say it like that."

Dean shakes his head. "Dude, you got no self-esteem."

"Sorry about that?" he apologizes with a small smile. Dean bursts out laughing.

"So, you had a religious upbringing, or something?" is his way of getting the conversation going again.

"My father was religious, and he was a bit radical in a few things, but he wasn't strict or anything. We didn't even go to church."

Dean nods, trying to gauge just how religious he is from that information alone. "And how did he take the gay thing?"

"Pretty well, actually." Castiel smiles at the memory of his dad putting a small rainbow flag in their window to prove a point to their neighbors.

"Sam had it rough, you know," Dean starts tentatively, like he's thinking about how much he should say about his brother. "He came out to our parents first, so he got the full brunt of their homophobic shit. I still pretended I was completely straight for a few more years before telling them. I figured they regretted pushing Sam away so much they wouldn't do the same to me. I was right."

"It was all okay with my father, as long as I didn't sleep around," Castiel tries to continue the conversation despite his mind coming to a halt with the confirmation that Dean is also interested in guys. "And I never wanted to, so this 'rule', of sorts, never bothered me."

"So you never wanted to just…" Dean looks for words that will sound better than 'fuck around'. "Have a fling, a one-night stand?"

"Not really. I always just wanted to have somebody to l- to have somebody." For some reason, Castiel doesn't want to use the word 'love' in front of Dean, as if the other man might laugh at him, and that would hurt. "For myself."

"So, wait…" Dean straightens up in his seat. "Are you and Sam waiting?" At Castiel's head tilt he adds with an exasperated sigh, "You know, to only have sex after the wedding?"

"Nothing like that!" Castiel feels his face getting warmer. Were he really engaged to Sam, he might tell him to fuck off. "I just don't believe in casual relationships. It's okay if you do, of course. But I don't."

"What do you believe in?" Dean asks and manages to look even more interested than before.

In a love that can last throughout life, perhaps even after death.

"I believe in dating and getting to know someone before being… intimate," he finally says, happy that Dean doesn't laugh at his choice of words.

Dean must get a clue this little chat is making him uncomfortable, for he doesn't say anything else and goes back to nibbling his now cold food.

"What about you, Dean?" Castiel smiles, only to watch green eyes following the corner of his lips the way they sometimes do when he smiles. "What do you believe in?"

Dean asks the waitress for the check before saying with his usual grin, "I believe our healthcare system sucks."

Castiel laughs behind his hand.

*º*º*

"I think I'm falling in love with Dean."

Rufus looks up from the report he's writing. "Who the hell is Dean, and why should I care?"

"Dean is Sam's brother," Castiel patiently tells him.

"Comatose guy?"

"Yes." He nods energetically. "But Dean thinks I'm engaged to Sam. I don't know what to do."

"Tell him the truth."

"No, no, I can't!" Castiel paces around in front of his boss's desk. "If I tell Dean I lied, he'll never talk to me again."

"Look on the bright side. In a lose-lose situation, there're no surprises! The only way available is down." He smiles and goes back to his report.

Castiel decides to never ask Rufus for romantic advice again.

Because yeah, really, Rufus. What was I thinking in the first place?

*º*º*

Castiel sees a lot of Dean after that dinner. Everyday when his shift is almost over, the oldest Winchester brother shows up saying he's on his way to see Sam, so why not go together and hey, did Cas have anything to eat yet? Maybe they should go eat first.

They spend most of their time talking about Dean's plans for opening a business, why the original 'Grinch' is better than the remake, and whatever other silly things come to their minds. Also, Dean is apparently on a crusade to 'get you some self-esteem, Cas.'

"You do not lack a personality," he says one night, pointing his finger at Castiel's face like he's a dog that did something bad. "Whoever told you that is full of BS. Repeat after me."

Another day they're in an elevator when he says something that makes Dean press up against him in mock anger. "Let's play a game, Cas," he says threateningly, and Castiel would laugh if he wasn't so dizzy at the way the other man's body makes him feel. "Every time you're going to say something bad about yourself, stop first and think if it's going to piss me off. If yes, then you just don't say it."

And there is the way he's always concerned with Castiel skipping meals and not getting out of his apartment often enough. "Cas, dude, let's take a walk; you need to get some sun before I lose you in the white background."

He really loves spending time with Dean. Just talking to him and then walking as slowly as possible to wherever they're going so they can spend even more time together… They're so different in almost every aspect and yet Dean is probably the best friend he's had in ages.

The hundreds of people who pass by him in the train station everyday avoid eye contact, like Castiel is invisible, or even worse, undesirable. But his friend only has eyes for him, and Castiel has to keep reminding himself they aren't on a date, or else he might actually lean over and kiss the smirk off that handsome face.

God, he can't believe he once had a crush on the wrong brother…

"That Dean guy is gonna pick you up again today?" Ash asks, a hint of mirth in his voice.

"I think so." Castiel hopes. He can't stop the dopey smile from appearing on his face.

Ash stares at him for a moment before concluding, "Damn, you're whipped."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I've seen the way you look at him, like your parents just got you a puppy."

Castiel has a clever answer for that, one that involves Ash's face every time Jo stops by to say hello, but then Dean is tapping on his window, and Castiel is too busy smiling in a daze to remember someone is in the booth with him.

That night, after visiting Sam, John invites him for dinner again.

"Didn't Sam look great today?" Ellen asks, and everyone around the table hums their agreement.

"Cas," Mary starts, and Castiel is used to the nickname by now, even though he prefers the way one particular Winchester says it. "Do you think you can find a nice girl for Dean?"

"Mom!" Said person almost chokes on his beer.

"Ah, or it could be a nice guy too." Mary adds with a smile. "When one likes both girls and boys, I'm sure one's type isn't very hard to find."

Dean makes a gagging noise, and Jo laughs her ass off.

Castiel almost asks 'type of what', but he quickly remembers people are usually referring to romantic preferences when they start throwing the word 'type' around.

"I don't know what his type is," he politely answers.

"I like redheads and blonds," Dean says way louder than necessary. "The partying types."

Jo snorts. "Hun, I don't think so? You like brunettes. Those quiet librarian types."

Castiel tries not to smile when Dean's ears turn red and he excuses himself from the table to get another beer.

*º*º*

"Hi, this is Sam. Please, leave a message after the beep."

Beep.

"Sam, hi… You still haven't called me… This isn't like you. Are you avoiding me?" His voice breaks a little as he continues, "Will you at least talk to me when I get back to Chicago? I was going to call your office, but I just realized I don't have your office number. Nor your parents' phone number. In fact, I don't even know the name of the firm you work for… Damn, I suck at this. Just, I'll make it work this time, okay? Call me… I lov-"

Beep.

*º*º*

"You're looking better today, Sammy," he says, punching his arm playfully.

His only answer is the constant beep of the heart monitor.

"Cas is coming later. I'm gonna pick him up in an hour. He got a different shift today 'cause it's New Year's Eve." Dean drags a chair closer to his brother and sits down. "Happy New Year, by the way!"

He brushes Sam's shaggy hair from his face and watches him for any sign of consciousness.

"Cas is really something, man. I hope you know this." He rubs his eyes. "Hm, of course you do, you asked him to marry you.

"How did you get so lucky, Sam?" Dean asks while he smoothes out the wrinkles on the bed sheet. "You know, at first I thought something weird was going on, that Cas wasn't really your boyfriend."

Dean suddenly realizes he never asked how his brother proposed. His stomach turns at the thought.

"I guess I just couldn't believe you have someone so awesome, and I only get to watch from the corner of the room," he confesses, and this is hard, even if Sam can't really hear him.

And Cas. All the times Cas looked like he was just waiting for Dean to kiss him…

"I have never felt like this, Sammy." It hurts so fucking much, he wants to say. But doesn't. Saying that would be admitting that watching his brother getting married will be the most painful experience he's ever been through.

He feels water in his eyes and gets up before this goes any further.

"But don't worry, Sammy. I'd never do that to you."

Dean looks around for any nurses before kissing Sam's forehead. "You tell anyone about this, I'm so gonna kill you…"

He leaves, deciding to stop by a grocery store to buy a bottle of champagne. Maybe he can even get Cas to drink a glass…

*º*º*

"Hi, this is Sam. Please, leave a message after the beep."

Beep.

"Are you feeding the cat? Please, tell me you're at least feeding the cat…"

*º*º*

"Why were you so suspicious that I wasn't Sam's fiancé?" Castiel asks that night after Dean convinces him to try out a glass of champagne, which turns into three glasses even though Castiel doesn't really like how it tastes.

"Fact is, you're not really Sam's type."

"Whose type am I?"

Dean doesn't answer. They are lying on the hood of the Impala parked in front of the Winchesters' house. Castiel can hear the television and Jo's laughter from inside the house, but he doesn't want to go inside where someone might want Dean for themself, and then Castiel will have to be in a separate room from him, and that would suck.

He also might be drunk. But he's going to finish his glass first before asking if he is.

"I'm sorry I was so suspicious of you," Dean says after a long silence, and Castiel has to remember what he's talking about.

"Do you think I'm not good enough for your brother?" he quietly asks.

"Castiel Novak, always with the self-esteem issues," Dean jokes, turning on his side to face him. "I just couldn't believe he got so lucky. You're special, Cas. Sam is too quiet for you. You need someone with more energy, someone to drag you out of the house and feed you the good stuff, not veggie burgers and fat-free yogurt," he says the last part like this type of yogurt insults him on a personal level. Castiel is laughing, and he can't even point out exactly what's so funny about that.

Dean smiles, and Dean should definitely smile all the time because he looks so gorgeous, and Castiel wants to tell him that, but some part of him says that probably isn't a very good idea.

"You're special," he repeats. His hand pets Castiel's head in what is supposed to be a teasing way but soon becomes like a caress.

"I think I'm sort of drunk," Castiel says and almost whines when the hand goes away.

"Does he let you call him 'Sammy'?" Dean murmurs, his voice barely audible.

"I never tried calling him by that name," Castiel answers, and Dean doesn't ask him anything else.

*º*º*

Sam wakes up to the distant sound of singing. It feels good to be just lying there listening to it, but there's a beep, beep that feels out of place, and he needs to open his eyes to see what it is.

His mind feels hazy, and his entire body weighs a ton against his bones. He tries to blink the fog from his eyes until he can finally make out the room he's in. A hospital room, with a monitor doing the beep, beep that only gets louder the more awake he gets. There's a figure of a person walking by the door, and he gathers his strength to open his mouth.

"Excuse me… Nurse…" he calls out, but all that comes out is a weak voice that doesn't sound like his own.

She turns around and shouts, "Doctor!"

*º*º*

"Hi, this is Sam. Please, leave a message after the beep."

Beep.

"Yeah, maybe you're breaking up with me by ignoring me, and I'm the one who can't get a clue… But if that's what this is, you're so wrong if you think I'm going to give up like this."

*º*º*

Sam wakes up again with a blond nurse in his room.

"Nurse?" Sam raises his hand. "My family…?"

She smiles at him and holds his hand for a moment to comfort him. "They were here earlier, but they will be back again tomorrow. Can I get you anything?"

"Something to drink, please," he says and tries to remember if she was the one who was first here when he woke up.

"I'll call the doctor to check up on you." She smiles again and leaves. Cute girl, he thinks before starting to doze off.

"Sam?" a familiar voice calls from the foot of the bed, and Sam feels relief washing over him before he even open his eyes.

"Gabe?" he asks. Suddenly, his boyfriend's face is right in front of him, smaller hands than his own are palming his face carefully, and lips are kissing his cheek.

"Look at you, Sam," Gabriel whispers. "I was worried sick about you."

"I'm fine. The doctor said I'm going to be fine. Just a little dizzy." He moves over to the side a little so Gabriel can sit on the bed.

The shorter man does just that, brushing Sam's hair from his face. "Did they tell you what happened, Sam?"

"Yeah, but I don't remember any of it." He furrows his eyebrows. "How did you get in here?"

Gabriel snorts. "Pff, please. Like some nurses could keep me out." Sam gives him a very weak version of his bitch face, and Gabriel sighs. "I just said I was a cousin and they let me in. Where is your family?"

"Nurse said they came before, but I wasn't awake." His head feels heavy but he's determined to stay awake. "How did you know I was here?"

"I made a scene at your building's reception desk until they told me what happened," Gabriel answers with a weak smile, a ghost of what the real thing looks like. "I left a bunch of messages on your answering machine. I guess you didn't get any of them?"

"Too busy being in a coma," he tries to joke, and for the first time Gabriel is actually the one to roll his eyes at him. Sam can feel a ring on a finger as he slowly massages his boyfriend's hands. "Does this mean you're going to marry me now?"

Gabriel really grins this time. "Yeah, Sammy." He takes Sam's huge hands in his own and kisses each finger with the attention it's due.

"Excuse me," an unfamiliar man says from the door. "My name is Castiel Novak. I need to speak to you."

*º*º*

"Hey, Cas!" Dean comes running from the elevator. "Sam-?"

"Sam woke up half an hour ago, but he's asleep now."

"Oh, man…" Dean throws himself in the seat next to his. The hallway is deserted, except for the two of them. "I came as fast as I could. Thanks for calling me, anyway."

"The doctor said he might stay awake longer as the days pass," he says, touching the hem of his shirt, something Castiel only does when he's nervous. "I already talked to Sam. Now I want to talk to you, before you see him."

Dean does not like where this conversation is going.

"I asked Bobby to call me when everyone left, so I didn't have to cause your mother any more distress." Castiel's lips tremble a little, and his eyes stare at the wall as if he's trying to remember a script he memorized. "There's something important that I need to tell you guys, but Bobby convinced me it was best for him to do it, since he's so close to the family…"

"Is everything okay?" Dean asks, a hint of fear in his voice.

"Yes, it's nothing like that." He finally looks at Dean, sighing. "I wanted to tell you and Sam in person. I think you deserve at least this."

Castiel takes a deep breath before continuing.

"On Christmas, when I got to the hospital, they wouldn't let me see Sam. So one of the nurses told a doctor that I was his fiancé, and they let me in. Only… it's not true."

Dean doesn't blink, doesn't open his mouth. Castiel keeps going.

"I was never engaged to Sam," he confesses. "That day in the hospital, everything happened so fast and I couldn't tell the truth because Mary... And then I didn't want to tell them because the truth was that… I fell in love with you and your family. And I didn't want to go back to being alone again."

Dean doesn't speak.

Castiel opens his mouth again because there are so many things he still needs to say. He has to tell Dean how much he loves him, that this past week has changed his life, that he's going to save up money to go to college, get a better job, and it's all because Dean makes him feel like he can do better.

Castiel needs to tell him he's his soul-mate, without actually saying those exact words because Dean might laugh at him.

He needs to ask for another chance.

No words come out. Dean is still looking at the floor.

So Castiel gets up and walks away.

*º*º*

Two days later Sam is feeling a lot better.

Well, despite his family breakdown, that is. Dean is an idiot who fell in love with a liar, John and Gabriel almost bite each other's heads off from the get go, Mary can't stop crying about how much Castiel is still the best son-in-law she could ask for, liar or not, and everyone can't stop looking accusingly at Bobby, suspecting him of knowing everything from the start.

And Sam can't get one person to buy him a Snickers bar.

"Busy day?" The nurse, Jess, asks when she comes to check up on him.

"You got no idea," he sighs. "Can't you guys sedate me during visitation hours?"

She just stares at his heart monitor for a long moment before saying, "I started the entire mess." Sam stops fiddling with the remote control to look at her. "When you were first brought in here, I misunderstood something and told your family Castiel was your fiancé. They were all so upset he didn't say anything right away, and well, I guess things just escalated from there."

"Not your fault." Sam gives her a reassuring smile, one he uses on clients. "Not your fault my stupid brother fell in love with him."

"He came here everyday to check up on you," she continues. "Everyday, he spent all this time with your family, and he never asked them for anything. That I know of," she tells him with conviction, and Sam can imagine her watching the situation from the corner of the room, uncertain of what to do. "I think he just wanted a family."

Sam thinks this over. "You think he did this because he was lonely?"

"I think he did it because your family needed him, and he needed them back," Jess concludes and leaves him be.

Sam stares into space for a few minutes. Dean had been heartbroken every time he saw him these past few days. He couldn't even finish telling Sam his side of the story before getting up to 'get some water'.

He finds the cell phone Gabriel smuggled for him under his pillow.

Dean picks up on the third ring. "Sam, everything okay?"

"Yeah, I'm just calling to let you know you're an idiot."

*º*º*

By the time Sam is done bitching at him, Dean wants to give himself the facepalm of the century. Because seriously, no one should be allowed to act this dumb.

"Are you okay, son?" John asks, standing by the window.

"No," Dean says and puts his coat on in a hurry. "Sorry, Dad, we'll talk later. Right now Cas is all alone in his stupid apartment, and I'm here because I'm a idiot, apparently." He stops and looks at his father. "What the hell would I do without Sam?"

"Castiel? What does he g-" John starts, but his son is already leaving. "Dean! Where are you going?"

"Dean?" Mary comes from the kitchen. He sighs. He can't just ignore his mom.

"Yeah, hm…" Dean stops with his hand on the doorknob. "I'm in love with Cas. So I'm going over to his apartment to ask him out, which gives you guys…" he trails off, looking at his watch. "Four hours to get over the entire 'fiancé-lie' thing before I bring him over for dinner."

John is livid, but Mary just hums her approval. "I always liked Castiel."

Her husband gapes at her. "You can't be serious-"

"Call Sam. Hearing him say it helps a lot," Dean suggests before closing the door.

He gets there in 20 minutes and takes the stairs two steps at a time.

Castiel's face when he sees him standing there is alone worth the price of admission.

"Dean, what are you- why-" he stammers until settling with, "Hello, Dean."

"Cas," he greets, entering the apartment uninvited. Every step he takes forward, the other man takes one back, and Dean is in love with him a little bit more when they finally reach a wall, and Castiel grabs Dean's arms for support.

"What are you doing here?" he asks meekly.

"Wooing you, in a way that would make your father like me very much." Dean puts both his hands on Castiel's almost bony cheeks and makes a mental note to feed him sugar later. Right now, though, blue eyes are staring at him with awe, and he'd like to spend some time like this, except there are things that need resolving; God knows his soon to be boyfriend is incapable of just asking for what he wants. "Did you mean what you said in the hospital?"

"Yes," he answers as clearly as possible because this matters. "I love you very much, Dean."

He gulps as he says, "I want us to date, Cas."

"I don't always speak out when I want something," Cas informs Dean, just in case he hasn't figured it out by now.

"I know. We can work on that," he promises.

Arms go around his neck, and Dean can feel himself fitting against Castiel's warm body like a glove, custom made for each other. Dean kisses him, his hands on Cas' face angling him just perfectly, and he doesn't think, doesn't plan his next move. All he cares about is Cas trusting him to touch him like this and the idea that he's possibly his first.

Dean goes wild with this thought, and Castiel moans at his enthusiasm. His usually shy friend is possessive with his kisses, taking everything Dean has to offer and offering his own passion in return, trying to make up for his lack of finesse.

"Your family-" Cas stops to say, out of breath.

"They will get over it," Dean says between now sloppy, glorious kisses.

"Your brother-"

"He doesn't care."

He demands more kisses, but Castiel isn't done yet.

"But you-"

"I want you to live with me, Cas."

He can only nod dizzily as Dean kisses his neck like he might die without Cas, slowly pushing them both to the couch as he does so. Laying his friend on the cushions, he gets to work.

After all, Dean has less than three hours to kiss Cas into agreeing to come over for dinner tonight.

*º*º*

Castiel had planned – if you call daydreaming 'planning', that is, and Castiel does – to marry Sam, but he ended up marrying Dean. It was in August, not July since every place in town was booked for that month. Who knew July was so popular a month to get married?

They sell – or transform, if you will – the family business, and John is too busy going on a cruise with Mary to care too much. He even eventually lets go of his resentment for Castiel in favor of saving his time and energy for his epic battle of doom against Gabriel, whom he deemed unsuitable for his son. Their final battle is anti-climactic, though, with Sam telling them both to just shut up and eat their soup. They both abide and it pretty much ends there.

Sam once asked him when it was that he fell in love with Dean. Castiel told him, "It was while you were sleeping."

*º*º*

Extra scene:

"Damn, Sam, you really missed a hell of a week," Gabriel comments as they watch Dr. Phil on Sam's crappy hospital TV.

"How is it Dean falls in love with some guy while I'm not there to mock him throughout the entire thing?" Sam asks, trying to put in his mouth as many M&Ms as possible before Gabriel finishes them all off. "The first time I had a crush, I didn't hear the end of it for a month."

"Maybe we can make kissy sounds every time they're in the room together?"

"What else did I miss?" Sam wonders out loud. "Who is the president? Is Matt Smith still the Doctor? How many more stupid 'Saw' movies did they make?"

Gabriel pets his arm with sympathy. "You really did hit your head pretty hard, didn't you, dude?"

*º*º*

Please review! I love you guys!