We Found Love (In A Hopeless Place)
Pairing: Destiel (DeanxCastiel), Samifer (SamxLucifer), Crowstiel (CrowleyxCastiel), BalthazarxBela, GabrielxKali, MichaelxHester, and so many other pairings
Warnings: Slash. Alcohol consumption. References to Past Trauma that you read in previous chapters. Fluffy cuteness. Children. A wedding and a marriage proposal. Are you sure you're even reading the same story that you started?
Word Count: 66,155
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or any of the songs.
Beta: Bree (BowtiesAndDeductions)
My Tumblr: talesfromperdition
Author's Love: Thank you to anyone who has ever read this story. Thanks for sticking with it until the end. Here is your reward. I hope I gave you all the happy ending you wanted.
Chapter 14: "We Found Love (Part III)"
It was the first of September when I woke up around ten am with a text from Sam saying "we need to talk" and that was it. I had finished my story while he was on his honeymoon, and I'd sent it to him before it was completely done editing. I still had a month or two to work on it, and I wanted to make sure it got an okay from at least one of them before I started the printing and binding process.
I hoped that if there were any errors, they would just be little things. That sounded so much worse than anything I was expecting. In a state of panic, I grabbed my keys and started making my way to the car. I texted Sam to let him know I was on my way, and I was just putting the key in the ignition when I got two more texts from him.
Sam: I'm at Dean's.
Sam: Stop freaking out.
That was easier said than done.
I wondered what I'd messed up. Sam hadn't looked over any of the recent chapters – he was too busy finishing his degree, moving into his house, planning a wedding, and flying to Italy and back – he'd only been married for a month and back from his honeymoon for two weeks. I had expected more time.
It didn't take long to get to Sam's house. I was already facing that way, so I pulled up by the curb, noting that both of the cars were in the driveway at Sam's house. I knew where the lawyer was, but I couldn't help the feeling in my stomach thinking that the other newlywed was waiting for me in Dean's house to yell at me as well. I crossed the street – Dean's Impala was in the driveway, but the Volt wasn't – and I hesitated longer than I was comfortable admitting before knocking on the door.
Sam answered a handful of seconds later in sweatpants and a shirt that was too big for him. He had a cup of coffee in his hand, his hair was tied back behind his head, and the dark shadows under his eyes told me he probably didn't get much sleep the night before. It was past noon, and I had always known Sam to be an up-before-dawn-for-a-morning-run kind of guy. The state of him only made the situation worse. He must have seen the fear on my face because he attempted a tired smile and said, "I told you to stop freaking out."
"Are you going to kill me?"
"Not yet," Sam said, stepping aside and holding his arm out, opening the door for me enough to walk through the threshold. I hesitated for a moment, but it wasn't like I had much of a choice. I walked in the open door and Sam led me to the kitchen.
Sam's MacBook was in the center of the table where Dean and I had sat when he told me about finding Castiel in the bathtub before he had been admitted. Papers and notebooks were covering the table too, as well as an assortment of photographs and two more empty mugs. Sam sat down where I had sat last time, but I stood, fingers twitching in the hem of my shirt. I wanted to talk about anything other than my story – something safe – and I spit out the first thing I could think of.
"Where's your worse half?"
"Still my better half," Sam offered another smile, like it was a joke between us now. And it was. "On a pizza run with Castiel. None of us have eaten since dinner last night. We haven't slept."
"Oh?" I tried to keep my voice even, but the squeak couldn't be hidden. "Is… um… Dean sleeping then?"
"No," Sam's smile turned a little bit darker with grim amusement. "He's working on a drawing in the garage. Too riled to sleep, but figured if he saw you he'd hit you. The other two felt the same, so they're giving me an hour to talk some sense into you before they get back. I told them it was just a misunderstanding but –"
"I don't understand," I cut in, regretting it the second Sam shut his mouth to listen. "What could I possibly have done to offend you so much? It was true. I didn't… I swear it."
"No, that's not what we're pissed about," Sam gestured to the seat opposite of him and I sat down, a worried frown still etched on my face. The lawyer sighed. "Do you want some coffee or something?"
"Sure," I said, though I didn't. The other man stood and started pouring me a cup from the pot that had probably been refilled numerous times in the past 24 hours. I watched him add milk and sugar, and I wondered when he learned how I liked my coffee. Becky couldn't make my coffee right, and we'd been together for a few months now.
"It's the ending," Sam said, pushing the coffee across the table toward me. I wrapped my hands around the warm mug but didn't take a sip. The lawyer started digging through the pictures. There were plenty of pictures I recognized from hanging around both of the Winchesters' houses. Sam and Castiel in soccer uniforms from the year after Dean and Lucifer graduated and they'd gone out for the team; Sam had been good, Castiel not so much. Sam and Lucifer standing in front Sam's freshman dorm, grinning stupidly at the camera. A candid photo of Dean and Castiel talking and eating cake at Balthazar and Bela's wedding. "You ended it hopeful, but you didn't end it honestly."
"What?" I asked, picking up a picture of a kitten sitting on Castiel's stomach as he slept on the couch.
"You made it seem like everything might work out between Dean and Cas. They were pretty much ready to start over, but you know ten years of the story after that day. You've been hinting at all our futures, but you left it in the past when nothing is clear. I don't think… That's not really fair to the readers."
"But, shouldn't I leave it open? Shouldn't they make their own decision about whether Dean and Cas got back together or whether you and Lucifer stayed together? Shouldn't that be left open to them? You really want me to put a Harry Potter ten years later type epilogue at the end. You want that? All of you want that?"
Sam smiled, dropping his gaze to the wedding ring on his finger. He twisted it around the digit, a fond look forming on his face, and I had my answer.
I asked Sam if I could borrow his computer. He pushed the MacBook toward me, and I started taking notes.
I didn't need to detail every step of the way. I didn't need to detail every bump and every single kiss, but I had to encompass the future in one short chapter because I only had a month to write it. So I skipped some of the early years.
I skipped over Lucifer's freshman year of college, swearing I wouldn't tell about how the day he had the strength to press the guitar strings down for the first time that October and how the people in his music therapy class had filmed him as he strummed a song and cried. I won't tell you about how they sent the clip in an email to Sam who found it after soccer practice. Castiel collapsed on the couch – exhausted – next to Lucifer's boyfriend, the pair of them smiling into MacBook screen, forgetting their own pain when Lucifer pulled his fingers off the strings with tears in his eyes, admiring the angry red lines the strings created for the first time in months.
I skipped over the time Lucifer flew home from Stanford, and Sam was taller than him for the first time. So I won't have to mention the way Lucifer turned to walk back to the plane, and Sam ran after him. Lucifer had joked that he couldn't be the short one in this relationship, so they had to end it. Sam looked hurt for a moment before he asked, "Why not, you're already the girl?" I won't mention how Dean had begged Jimmy to let him crash on the Novaks' couch that night so he didn't have to hear them. Castiel smirked at Dean over his shoulder from where he was standing at the stove, sautéing some meat and onions and peppers for something. When Jimmy agreed and turned back to helping Gabriel with some project, Dean winked at boy in the kitchen. Castiel's smirk turned to an eye-roll.
I skipped over Dean's freshman year of college, swearing I wouldn't tell about how he would come back from class and deposit his books on the dining room table. I wasn't going to mention the hate he had for engineering or the blood, sweat, and tears that went into that first year. Sam tried to help, but Dean's heart wasn't in it. One day, Dean was about to rip one of his hundred dollar textbooks in half, and Castiel walked over to him after soccer practice – he and Sam had become inseparable that year, after all – and suggested Dean take his mandatory humanities class in the spring. He had loved the class so much he ended up switching majors to English, then switching again to English education.
I skipped over Crowley moving to London with his father because he couldn't fight to stay clean with his mother fighting to stay high. He set her up in a program, but she left as soon as she was able. Crowley spent his time in the tailor shop, bothering the tailor's son, Phil, until one day the man asked the teenager if he'd like to learn how to mend a suit. It took over a year for Crowley to admit he was a tailor's apprentice. It took longer than that for Phil to agree to go out and get coffee with the man. It took a year and a half for his mother to overdose. I wasn't going to mention that the first time Crowley had a verbal conversation with Castiel after the time he gave him the letter at the lunch table was at his mother's funeral. The Novaks let Crowley bury his mother in the plot next to Anna, and Castiel had held Crowley as he cried, and even Dean had offered his sympathies with a bottle of Jameson.
I skipped over Castiel's, Balthazar's, and Sam and Gabriel's graduation. I wasn't going to mention Castiel's first few years of college, or how Balthazar's paintings became a huge success pretty much instantly. He painted near-forgery levels of famous prints, but added something to either mock the society or make a statement. His Starry Night Without the Absinthe remained his most sold print to this day. He did get Bela pregnant before they were married, but both of them had expected that. They had been trying, regardless of what they told everyone. They wanted a rushed, shotgun wedding. Gabriel and Kali had focused on their careers, and were both successful, despite Gabriel renting out his closet to me soon after I finished my undergraduate work. I was still pretty sure he only did that because Kali wanted me around. That terrified me.
I skipped over the older Novaks too. Zachariah married a girl named Rachel Adler and they had a son named Samandriel. He was six now. I skipped over Uriel and his long-time girlfriend who had managed to whip him so badly, it was scary. I skipped over Raphael and how Uriel's twin was finally happy with the reflection in the mirror.
I skipped over a lot to bring me a week before the wedding. No, not Sam's wedding, you've already read the important things about that. I mean the wedding before that – a year before that – the summer before Lucifer's last year before he got his doctorate and Sam's last year of law school. It was nine years after the September when everything had started.
It was the wedding you're actually interested in. I won't skip over that this time.
Castiel stood in front of the baggage carousel with his arms crossed, his jaw set and his angry frown was not going away despite the fact that he was alone for the first time since he got the news. Well he wasn't alone – a handful of other people were waiting around for their loved ones and their baggage – but Castiel didn't know any of them. And although he couldn't shake his fury, he was enjoying some alone time.
He didn't get it often.
The carousel started turning, baggage tumbling down in front of him. Castiel kept his eyes open, but tried to relax himself in the mean time. It would only be a few moments until the people from the plane would make it down to the baggage claim and he wouldn't be alone again. But privately, he liked stewing in his rage. He enjoyed thinking, at least briefly, about the things he could do if he acted on it.
He thought of running through the terminal and getting on a plane. He didn't really have a lot of money that was just his but together, in their joint bank account, he had more than enough to get away. He wouldn't be the first groom to run away a week before his wedding, but he probably would be the only one who did to keep himself from murdering his fiancé in a bout of rage.
But he couldn't figure out what the fuck Dean was thinking.
Castiel was trying to come up with clever ways to hide the body when he noticed his brother's suitcase tumbling down the carrousel. He stepped forward to claim it when another, smaller one came down after it. Castiel sighed – couldn't he ever pack lightly? – before lifting both of the white cases from the carrousel (with some difficulty, they were heavy as shit) and moved them away so others could grab their cases.
Sam was supposed to be coming in on the same flight, right? Castiel thought. He turned back to the luggage to look for Sam's.
It wasn't long before he heard his name being shouted from down the hall. Castiel wasn't the only one to turn toward the voice, but at least nobody in the Lawrence recognized Lucifer. The last time Castiel had flown out to California, it took them an hour to leave the airport because a bunch of people kept trying to stop and talk to Lucifer. Between the musicals and plays and bands Lucifer had been in over the past several years, he had kind of become a local sensation out there.
Lucifer was waving – next to him, Sam raised his hand with a little wave too – but almost instantly the blond boy took off, running toward Castiel with open arms like it was the first time they'd seen each other in months.
Castiel managed to stay upright when his brother hugged him, but his flailing arm knocked Lucifer's glasses askew. There was something about hugging Lucifer that made Castiel feel safe. Maybe it was the time they spent together back when his brother was living in that Church, or maybe it was when they were alone together in a locked ward. When Lucifer had left for college, it felt like a part of Castiel had left too. Whenever he had him back, he felt whole again.
For the first time since that morning, Castiel let his anger slip away, even though Lucifer kept hitting him in the back with his guitar case.
"Oh," Lucifer said, breaking the hug and shooting a glance behind him. Sam had stopped walking some twenty feet away and was on the phone, probably talking to Jess, and Lucifer reached into his pocket. Castiel couldn't say that he was surprised by the box he pulled out or by the ring that was inside it, but he couldn't help but smile at it anyway. Lucifer was holding his breath, blue eyes open and vulnerable. "So what do you think?"
"You're a little late," Castiel said, seriously, leaning closer to get a better look at the ring. "I'm getting married in a week. Also, I think incest is frowned upon in…"
"I designed it myself, Cas. I went to the jeweler and they let me help make it. I just haven't been able to figure out how I want to actually do it, yet. I haven't told anyone else I'm planning on it. Keep it a secret," Lucifer closed the box and slipped it back in his pocket, shooting a grin over Castiel's shoulder. "Dean's behind you."
Castiel felt the pit in his chest growing again. He couldn't quite help the scowl when he shot back, "And here comes Sam."
Castiel busied himself looking for, locating, and fetching Sam's luggage while Dean exchanged pleasantries with Lucifer before jogging up to Sam. He ignored the brothers hugging just like he ignored Lucifer's confused look, and he dropped Sam's bag. He thought about ignoring Sam too, when he gave him a small smile and took a step forward to hug him, but it was almost impossible to deny Sam anything. There was also nothing like hugging Sam Winchester. He was huge and warm and hugged in earnest. Castiel had to drag himself away from his friend's embrace.
Then Dean put his hand over Castiel's shoulder, and the change was instant. Castiel tensed and flinched away at the same time. He flushed slightly – more at the looks that Lucifer and Sam were giving him than the touch or his reaction – and once contact was broken, he turned to Dean and fixed him with a glare.
And that asshole, he smirked.
"Um…" Sam started.
"He's mad at me," Dean replied, in quite possibly the most belittling tone Castiel had ever heard before. Castiel was shaking with anger and self-righteous fury. He pointed a finger at Dean, knowing he was being childish but he couldn't be bothered to care.
"He ruined my wedding."
"That's really rich, Cas, cause who planned at least half of your fucking wedding?"
"You should have asked me, Dean," Castiel pushed at Dean's shoulder. It was a small gesture, but it was one he knew the other man hated. Apparently, Lucifer and Sam did too, because his brother suddenly had a hand around Castiel's wrist, pulling him back enough to get space between them so nobody could throw a punch. Sam was already grabbing at Dean to guide him toward the door.
Castiel and Dean had never gotten into an actual fist fight, but there was a first time for everything.
"It was supposed to be a surprise," Dean hissed back, but the fight was draining from his body like it was a physical thing. Castiel clung to his anger, letting out a few more puffs of breath before Dean shook Sam off and held his hands up in surrender. "It was a present."
Castiel opened his mouth – to argue or try to explain why he was so angry, he didn't know – but before anything came out, Lucifer picked one of his bags and handed it to his brother. "I have a massive headache, so can we just get going? We can seriously ref a cage match tomorrow morning."
Dean picked up one of Sam's bags, Castiel picked up another one of Lucifer's, and they walked outside to the Impala. It wasn't until Dean was pulling onto the ramp to get on the highway that Castiel realized he should have sat in the back with his brother and let Sam sit up front.
The tension in the car was so thick that Castiel could have suffocated in it. It was the first time he ever thought Dean looked old and tired, resting his elbow on the door and resting his head in his hand, driving with the other hand. His eyes stayed on the road. Castiel couldn't be closer to his own door if he tried. The easiness of just yesterday – just this morning – was gone. The anger was dissipating slowly, and instead, Castiel felt empty.
In the back, Sam and Lucifer were chatting just under their breaths like they didn't just spend a bunch of time talking in a terminal and on the plane. Sam was sitting back, long legs spread out and his knees were hitting the back of Dean's seat. He had a tired smile on his face, amused that Lucifer was leaning halfway across the back seat so he could see him to talk to him while he wiped his glasses off on his shirt.
They were all quiet for a few more minutes, and Castiel was going crazy with it. Guilt was starting to seep in with his anger – he knew Dean just wanted to surprise him, but Dean couldn't understand why Castiel got so angry and that was the problem – and he didn't want to be alone with his thoughts. He needed the distraction.
"What are you working on?" Castiel shot over his shoulder, looking at Sam first then Lucifer, opening up the conversation to anyone who would talk to him. Well, anyone except Dean. Castiel knew what Dean was up to.
And Dean tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, like he knew he was excluded from the conversation but he was starving for it as bad as Castiel was.
"We were working on a new song in the plane," Lucifer said, pushing his glasses up his nose. Castiel smiled at the gesture. His brother hated his glasses – he almost always wore contacts – but something about the cabin pressure in airplanes gave him a terrible headache behind his eyes. The last time he ended up flying with his contacts in, he ripped them out halfway through the flight and couldn't see anything until he could pick up more the next day at Wal-Mart. But Castiel thought they looked good on him.
"You annoyed everyone on a plane with your singing and they didn't lynch you?" Dean asked, his voice teasing. Lucifer smiled at him, and Castiel felt the word traitor bubbling in his chest. He managed to hold it in.
"You wouldn't believe how quiet we've gotten at some things," Lucifer grinned. Sam just rolled his eyes.
Dean said, "Thank God."
"No, but for real. We were learning it for your wedding, but we only learned a bit of it. Prolly won't have time now. Wanna hear it?"
Castiel had seen Lucifer and Sam at work. It had been a while since the last time Castiel had seen the two of them sitting across from each other, figuring out an arrangement both of them liked. Sam had been busy with law school the past two years, and Jess rarely left him alone long enough to do much of anything for fun. Lucifer had his classes to teach and a handful of shows and bands he was always a part of. When they visited Lawrence, they usually liked to relax and show off what they already knew. But Castiel had seen their process before, and he could imagine it now.
If they were in the airplane, they would have been quiet, a shared iPod between the two of them, marking out the differences in the harmony and melody. If it was a song they both already knew, it would only take minutes to divide up the vocals. If they didn't know it, most of the two hour plane ride would have been learning the lyrics.
Dean didn't usually care either way – they sang all the damn time, Lucifer more than Sam, but he usually goaded Sam into it before long – so it was up to Castiel to nod at his brother.
It took a second for Lucifer to grab his iPod from his pocket and unwind the headphones. He listened to it for a moment to find the right note, which he gave to Sam, who gave a different note back at him. The iPod was abandoned, and after a second, the pair of them started singing.
"I'll marry my lover in a place to admire."
Castiel didn't mean to look at Dean, but he couldn't really help himself. Dean was looking back at him – confusion, anger, hurt all obvious on his face – before he looked back to the road, his fingers tightening on the wheel.
"I don't even have to ask her; I can look in her eyes and thank God that I am forgiven."
"Stop," Castiel turned back in his seat, facing the road. They continued singing, and Castiel felt the rumble in his chest when he repeated himself louder. Lucifer and Sam fell silent in the back seat, and Castiel turned to the side to look out the window, rubbing the palm of his hand over his cheekbones.
They were silent the rest of the trip back to Dean and Sam's childhood home.
Sam handed one of the bags from the trunk to Castiel, and he didn't stick around. He walked into the house through the garage door. Sam looked from Lucifer to Dean to see who would run in to console him, but neither of them looked particularly interested in the job. It was up to Sam to delegate, so he handed a bag and the guitar to Lucifer and said, "Check on your brother."
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Lucifer asked, but they both knew the answer. They knew the answer nine years ago when Michael broke Lucifer's arm and kicked him out. They knew when Castiel carved himself and Lucifer cut himself too so he wouldn't be alone. They knew when Dean called Sam a little over a year ago in a complete panic because he asked his best friend to marry him and Castiel had said yes. Neither of them had a clue how to plan a wedding. And after that first night of engagement bliss wore off, the pair of them were freaking out.
They had no idea how to be husbands. Some days they didn't even know how to be friends.
And that was why Lucifer and Sam would always end up side-by-side in a plane back to Lawrence because they were their brothers' keepers. "Fine," Lucifer said, like he was a martyr for doing it, but Sam knew he didn't mind. "I'll go find him."
Sam knew Dean wouldn't need prompting to explain, but while he had a free moment, he needed to show Dean something. By the time his older brother had shut his door and got to the trunk, Sam already had the ring out. He held it toward Dean, and the elder Winchester took it. The worried frown melted into something much softer; a grin broke out on his face as Dean turned the ring over in his hands.
"Jess is a lucky girl," Dean handed the ring back to Sam, and the younger boy noticed how his brother looked away, avoiding the look he was trying to give him.
"Why didn't she fly out with you for the wedding again?" Dean looked up, rubbing his hand over his jeans. He was avoiding the conversation; he didn't really care about Jess. At least not right this second.
"She's busy, Dean. She'll be here later. Now, what did you do to Cas?"
"Nothing," Dean frowned – it sounded more like a whine than Dean would have admitted to himself – and he sighed. He ran a hand through his hair and looked back down. "He found out about Crowley."
Sam bit his lower lip, shoving the ring back in his box and the box back into his bag. He knew Dean had invited Crowley to the wedding – the Winchesters were in charge of invitations and food and it would have been impossible for Dean to hide it from Sam – but Sam had been telling Dean he needed to tell Castiel about it for months.
It was better than getting to the wedding and finding him there. That could have been pretty explosive.
"How did he find out?"
"I left the stupid RSVP chart thing out when I went to school this morning. He was picking up the table and saw it before he went to get Byron. I thought he'd be excited. I mean, they're friends."
"He cheated on you with Crowley," Sam reminded him. "You know he hasn't forgiven himself for that."
"But I thought this would show him that I've forgiven him for it," Dean was still looking down, but he looked up through his eyelashes toward his younger brother. "I mean, it's not like this is the first time they've spoken or saw each other in nine years or anything. I don't get why this is any different than having coffee down the street."
Sam could see both sides – he really, truly could – because for a long time, Lucifer and Jess were at odds. They were jealous of each other. It took a bit of time for the pair of them to become okay and stop their snide remarks about the other. He could see why Castiel wouldn't want that reminder at his wedding, why it was so much different from going to get coffee and going out to dinner and being constant pen-pals for the past nine years to actually having Crowley at the wedding. His biggest temptation would be sitting near him on what was supposed to be the happiest day of his life. It did add unnecessary stress.
But he could understand Dean, too. Crowley was Castiel's best friend, outside of the Novaks and the Winchesters. Actually, he was pretty much Castiel's only friend outside his family. If Dean was ever going to show that he loved and trusted Castiel, it would be by inviting Crowley to the wedding and to the bachelor party.
Oh fuck, this could go pretty badly.
"He loves me," Dean said, frowning. "I know he does. He's not going to do anything again."
"I know that," Sam said, trying to seem noncommittal because choosing between his brother and his best friend was something Sam decided long ago he would never do. It muddied up the water too much. "I know he won't, I know he loves you, but he doesn't think the same or he wouldn't be so pissed. He might even think you're testing him. You can't blame him, Dean. You made a choice about your wedding without consulting your fiancé and it sort of blew up on you. Whatever happens, it's on you."
Dean looked down, and Sam shut the Impala's trunk.
"I just love him," Dean was still staring down at a grease mark on the garage floor. "I just wanted to make him happy."
"Well, at least he knows that Crowley made all the suits, right?" Sam asked. Dean looked up, a look of guilty panic on his face. "Oh, Jesus Christ, Dean," Sam buried his face in his hands. "You have seriously got to start communicating better."
"What a jackass," Lucifer said, void of any malice or commitment to the topic at hand. Instead, his eyes were rolling back in his head as he bit into turkey sandwich. The lettuce he put on it had been soaking in Hester's famous homemade dressing and Lucifer seriously thought he died and went to heaven. Lucifer took another bite, shutting his eyes and using his thumb to push the bite the rest of the way in his mouth. Around his food he said, "What a Neanderthal. What an ignoramus."
Castiel turned from in front of the sink. He cleaned when he was angry. He sounded exhausted when he asked, "You knew Crowley was coming, didn't you?"
"Yep. Sam told me months ago," the song changed – by the time Lucifer made it to the kitchen his brother was already doing the dishes with his I Hate Dean Winchester playlist playing loud enough that Dean would hear it as soon as he came into the house – and Lucifer sighed. "Are you kidding me, Cas? You seriously have to work on your anger management because this is just petty."
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."
"The petty music is my healthy way of dealing with it. I haven't gone back to drugs," Castiel shrugged and turned back to the sink. A few minutes later the song switched and Lucifer listened to Kelly Clarkson screaming as he finished his sandwich. He dumped the dirty plate in Castiel's dish water – it earned him a glare and nothing more – before he wiped his hands on his pants.
"It could be worse. Sam's 'love sucks' playlist is only Taylor Swift."
"Adele isn't much better, content wise."
"Seriously, do not get me into another Taylor Swift verse Adele fight, okay? I almost got sent to jail the last time someone brought it up," But Lucifer just leaned against the kitchen counter and watched his brother systematically clean the dishes. He could imagine those fingers pressing down the keys in time with Adele's piano instead of clenching the cloth so tight his fingers were turning white. Once Castiel was done with the few dishes that had been sitting in there, Lucifer patted his back.
"Well, you shouldn't be so mad. I mean, you know how much his suits go for? He's just giving them to all of us. Probably monetary compensation for that thousand you paid with your ass."
Castiel turned to Lucifer and frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean it's a good thing that Crowley's coming and that he made your suits," Lucifer grinned. "And it's a damn good thing he's just up and giving them to you because Dean would have to save everything he made for years to get you one of those on his own."
"I'm getting married," Castiel hissed, his eyes narrowing. And Lucifer held his breath. Of course. Of-fucking-course Dean wouldn't tell Castiel everything. "And Crowley made the clothes I will be taking off on my wedding night to consummate my betrothal? Crowley will make it into my bedroom on my wedding night. Is that what you're telling me?"
"I think that… um…"
"I am going to kill him," Castiel always had the cold calmness of a psychopath when he was really angry. The only way that Lucifer could tell his brother was coming apart at the seams were the splotches of color bursting on his face and neck. He looked full of righteous fury – or he would to the untrained eye – but Lucifer knew his brother's tells. He was panicking. He was about to cry. "I can't… Lucifer, I can't… we cannot…"
The song changed.
And Lucifer raised his eyes to the heavens and thanked God.
Castiel froze for a moment, before the small start of a smile broke out on his face. It was barely there at first, but his eyes closed – remembering – and Lucifer watched as his face lit up. Castiel wouldn't tell the story, but he honestly didn't need to. It was the stuff of legend by then.
A little over a year ago, Dean and Castiel were drinking in the Roadhouse. Well, Dean was drinking and Castiel was licking his fingers clean of the sauce that Jo used on her crazy hot wings with a plate full of chicken bones in front of him. John was biting into a hamburger, Ellen was pushing him a Root Beer, and Jo was wiping down the bar less than a foot from where they were.
Ellen was complaining about not having any grandbabies yet, which mortified Jo to no end.
"Ma, I'm only twenty-five. You're asking me to throw away my life and settle down. You should be happy that I'm not an unwed mother."
"I never said you had to be unwed," Ellen said, grinning at John. "I think Ash is still single. Marry him."
The look on Jo's face was priceless. Ash was like her brother – just like Dean was – and Ellen damn well knew that. She only said it to get a rise. Dean was laughing just a bit harder than John, but Castiel was trying to wipe his hands clean. His face was paler than normal – all the blood concentrating at his lips, which were angry red from the sauce – and his mouth was open, gasping at the air. He didn't realize Dean was staring at him at first, and when he gave a pathetic look back, Dean smirked into beer.
"Tell me about it," John said. "I thought with two boys, one of them would have messed up and gotten a girl pregnant by now. And look how that turned out."
Ellen started laughing, but if Castiel took any offense to John's comment, he didn't show it. Instead he reached his grabby hands toward Jo in a sad excuse for begging. "Could I have some milk, please?"
"I told you that it was too hot for you," Jo grinned. They kept milk in the refrigerator for White Russians. She took pity on him and poured him a glass. Castiel gulped it down greedily.
Dean watched his Adam's apple bob as he did so. "He sleeps with me on a regular basis. If I'm not too hot for him, your wings sure as hell ain't."
Castiel rolled his eyes over the glass, and Jo giggled.
"So when's the wedding, Dean?" Ellen asked, leaning an elbow on the bar, grinning at him. Dean sighed. It was at least a monthly question now – sometimes weekly if he was unlucky – and he hated when they brought it up because they never talked about it. Castiel and Dean didn't start dating again until Castiel had been clean for two years. Castiel wanted to take it slow – not the relationship itself, Castiel's plea to take it slow came while Dean was on his knees in front of him – but he didn't want to rush the rest of the stuff. The couple stuff. The marriage and kids and picket fence and stuff.
A year later when Sam and Gabe left to go to college, Jimmy went back to Pontiac. Instead of getting an apartment, he unofficially moved in with John and Dean. They never talked about it – they acted like Castiel had someplace else he could go – but they were living together. They shared a bed every night. All of Castiel's stuff was in that house. They had rushed.
A year after that, John moved in with Ellen down the street. It took Dean and Castiel a long time to switch their bedrooms from the one Dean had grown up in to the master one at the end of the hall. It took another four years for it to really feel like both of their places – Dean's old room was Castiel's office/library – they had different furniture, a different layout, their own pictures and memories hanging up over the walls.
They never talked about their future because Castiel was convinced he could slip up at any time and ruin it. Or at least, that was why Castiel didn't like talking about it when they were new to it again. Dean was too afraid of upsetting the love of his life, so he never once asked anything. Marriage was a piece of paper. Kids would be awesome, but if Castiel didn't want them, Sam would have a kid for Dean to spoil – on top of Samandriel and baby Byron and whatever other Novak found himself knocked up along the way – so kids would have been great but Dean could survive without them.
Even though he always imagined himself with kids. What he wanted didn't matter. He only wanted what Castiel could give him.
"If you two get married, you can adopt me an Asian grandbaby," John was saying, and Dean didn't know how long they had been going on while he zoned but he needed to stop them.
"Look, we don't want kids, okay, dad? We don't want to get married or anything. We're completely fine the way we are right now. Right, Cas?" Dean put the bottle down, turning to face his boyfriend looking like he wanted back up.
For some reason, Castiel broke. He had been avoiding the conversation too – figuring they didn't talk about it because Dean didn't want it – but if he was being asked directly, he didn't want to lie about it, either.
"I would like kids," His voice was quiet, his fingers still wrapped around the empty milk glass. "Provided they weren't mine biologically. I don't want to pass anything on genetically to my children. But I don't mind the idea of adopting." Castiel licked his lips, turning his gaze toward Dean. He took in Dean's cheekbones and freckles and eyes and offered a little smile. "Or a surrogate mother if you were the biological father."
Dean's eyes were wide, his mouth open. He licked his lips and leaned toward Castiel, his hand finding Castiel's wrist to squeeze at his pulse. "You're serious?"
"I would like to married first, as well," Castiel added as an afterthought. "To make sure I had some parental rights over the child. And… and right now, if something happened to you, I'm technically not family. They could…"
"Do you love me, Cas?" Dean's hands squeezed Castiel's wrist even harder. "Fuck the rest of it about logic. Because marriage and kids isn't about logic, Cas. It's about love."
"Yes, Dean," Castiel's hand left the glass and folded over Dean's. "Yes, of course. More than anything. It is because I love you that I want to raise children with you. It's because I love you that I fear something happening that would keep me from you because of something as asinine as a piece of paper."
"Then marry me, Cas," Dean's eyebrows rose in an open expression. "We'll pick a date and get married. We can get kids. Maybe a dog – well, okay, Inny would hate a dog, but still – we could do this. We should do this."
"Yes, Dean," Castiel said, his face nearly split in half with his smile. "Yes, of course I will marry you."
They both forgot that they had an audience until the whole bar was clapping and cheering. Dean looked surprised for a second, then his face fell, worry lines creasing his forehead.
"Fuck. Fuck, I'm sorry, Cas. I just botched that. I should have taken you out to dinner, or like, bought you a ring or something. Do you want… let's postpone it for a day or two. I'll plan something more romantic. And just don't… don't change your answer."
"No," Castiel's hands worked their way out of Dean's death grip on them. The younger man cupped his boyfriend's – now fiancé's face – thumbs pressed just under his jaw, fingers spreading up over the stubble at Dean's cheeks. "No, this was perfect, Dean. Thank you."
It only took a few minutes for John and Ellen and Jo to smother them. After promising to look after him, Castiel finally accepted the congratulatory shot from Ellen and as soon as he had it down, Dean was dragging him across the bar to the jukebox. He put in the money and then wrapped his arms around Castiel's hips, dragging their bodies together. Castiel let out a huff of breath against Dean's neck, arms wrapping back over Dean's shoulders, letting Dean rock them slowly back and forth to their first song as an engaged couple.
"Feels like the first time. It feels like the very first time."
The song had almost the same effect on Dean as it did on Castiel when he walked into the kitchen. Sam followed him, digging through the fridge and letting a surprised sound grow in his throat at the sight of Hester's dressing. Castiel was still smiling near the sink, and when Dean saw Castiel smiling, he burst into a smile too.
"I'm still mad at you," Castiel said, avoiding the island and Sam to stand before Dean. "But we should talk about it."
"You took the words right out of my mouth," Dean said, reaching out to wrap his arms around Castiel's shoulders. He paused at the last second and asked, "If I try to hug you, you're not going to push me away again, are you?"
"No, Dean," Castiel loved the weight of Dean's arms on his shoulders, pulling him until his face was pressed up against Dean's chest. "We're getting married next week whether Anthony is there or not."
But that really didn't solve it. The song changed and the moment was over. They moved to the living room, Sam and Dean with beers on the couch, Lucifer lying on his back on the love seat, fingers itching at the gray-and-white cat that sat on his stomach. Castiel was on the floor a few feet away, a binder open in front of him. He thumbed through the pages and pages of handwritten letters inside it.
They didn't need to ask. Sometimes Castiel just sat in the corner and read through some of the letters Crowley had sent him through the years.
Castiel had kept all of them.
Half an hour later, Lucifer and Castiel's phone rang with the same tune ("Baby, did you forget to take your meds?") and they both stood to take their pills. Castiel hugged the binder filled with Crowley's letters to his chest, and Lucifer lifted the cat and placed him down on Sam's lap.
"I'm going to go to bed," Castiel announced, chewing at his bottom lip. "I'll see you up there."
Dean held out an arm and Castiel didn't hesitate to step forward and lean down, capturing Dean's lips with his own. "Night, Cas."
"Good night, Dean. We can talk in the morning if you wish."
Dean nodded, and Castiel walked up the stairs. Lucifer threw a grin behind his shoulder, saying, "Good night, Winchesters," as he climbed up after him.
They heard the shower start running fifteen minutes after the Novaks went upstairs. Dean was grateful Sam stayed quiet; the younger Winchester was far too preoccupied ignoring his allergies with a cat on his lap. And of course, the cat was staring at Sam with a look of determination, daring him to stop petting.
Dean took pity on his brother and lifted the cat from his stomach, sitting him down on the floor. "You know Sam is allergic to you, Inny. Your soul purpose is life isn't to annoy us Winchesters. Go to your daddy."
The cat just laid down and started licking at his fur.
"Inias, go bother Cas."
"I'm like 96% sure cats aren't dogs, Dean," Sam said, smirking behind his very mild discomfort from the cat being so close to him for a short amount of time. "You can't just tell them to do something and they do it."
"He fucking understands me," Dean said, finishing his beer. "You should see Cas with him. Dude gives him a command and the cat does it like he is a dog." Sam smirked. "You want some Claritin?"
"I still can't believe you pop allergy meds all year round just so you can give your guy a cat," Sam grinned. "When'd you get so whipped?"
Dean rolled his eyes but he never got the chance to respond. Castiel was standing in a plaid pair of pajama bottoms halfway down the stairs; a white cotton shirt covered his torso. He looked exhausted in a way he hadn't when he was filled with fury a half an hour before. He gave a small, defeated look and asked, "Did you hide my Sherlock DVDs again?"
Dean cringed. "Yes. I, uh, did it before we left. I figured you'd lay in bed all night watching The Fall and you shouldn't watch it alone. I don't like when you hide in our room and watch it alone when you're mad at me."
"It's a TV show, Dean."
"You cry every time."
"It's sad," Castiel crossed his arms in front of him. It didn't make him look defiant; it just made him look smaller, like he was huddling in on himself. "You hid Star Trek, War Horse, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, too. But you didn't hide The Hobbit."
"Well, that was an accident," Dean said, smiling. Castiel wasn't an idiot. He knew the common denominator. "I always forget about Smaug."
Castiel offered a smile, his eyes darting from Sam back to Dean again. He rubbed his arms. "I'm going to fall asleep to one of them, if you want to watch it with me. We have to call the photographer and the caterer and all the guests who didn't RSVP tomorrow, might be good to have an early night."
"Yeah," Dean stood. "Yeah, sounds good, Cas." Dean turned to Sam. "The extra blankets and things are in your old room. In the closet. I think the air mattress is in there, too, if either of you want it. Help yourselves to whatever."
Sam waved them off, and Dean followed Castiel upstairs, resisting the urge to kiss his back as they climbed the steps. Lucifer was still in the shower when they passed it. Dean shut the door to their bedroom and stripped his shirt and pants while Castiel put one of The Hobbit movies in. If Castiel was choosing, he almost always picked the second one. Dean was surprised when he pulled the covers back on their bed to realize it was the first – Dean's favorite.
His eyes darted away from the TV when Castiel looped his thumbs under the waistband of his pajamas, pushing them down his thighs. The smaller man wasn't even aware Dean was watching him when he stepped out of the material at his feet, but he was when his hands found the hem of his shirt, debating whether or not to lift it over his head. His eyes met Dean's, and he dropped his hands, crawling into bed in his underpants and a t-shirt.
"It's kind of hot for a shirt," Dean commented, turning on his side to face Castiel. For a moment, they looked at each other – Dean hoped he wasn't looking too desperate for their normalcy, but Castiel only kept himself covered in bed if he was upset and Dean was dying to fix this – then Castiel's mouth curved in the corners and he sat up, reaching over his head to bunch the material in his fist between his shoulder blades and tug it up an over his head.
Dean's hand was already halfway across the bed – aimed for Castiel's chest – when the man laid back down and said, "Don't get any ideas, Dean. I'm still angry with you."
"I'm sorry I invited him," Dean let his hand fall. There was two feet of space between them, but it felt like a mile. "But he's your best friend, and you can't deny that. I thought you'd want him to see you happy."
"But what if I slip?" Castiel's hand found Dean's. "I don't see him all that often. What if once the pleasantries are exchanged, I…"
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because you love me, Cas. And I love you. And we're getting married. We've already started looking into getting kids. I know you aren't going to throw it away this late in the game," Dean turned his hand over, thumb rubbing at Castiel's palm. "If you have any doubts about your love for me and your love for him, then we won't get married, Cas. That's fine. You have to tell me now, though."
Castiel looked like he had been slapped, "You know there is no comparison. You know I have no doubts about you or this. My doubts lie within myself."
"Well, you shouldn't doubt yourself, 'cause nothing is going to happen," Dean reached forward, his palm finding Castiel's bare hip. Once the touch was established, the smaller man moved instantly to Dean, closing the gap between them like they weren't fighting at all. They became a tangled mess of limbs, and when Castiel sighed, Dean felt it on his collarbone.
It took a long while for Castiel to finally succumb to sleep, but Dean just held him until his breathing became shallow and consistent. Then he pressed his nose down into Castiel's hair, and closed his eyes.
"Nothing'll happen," Dean whispered breathlessly, like a prayer.
Sam was pulling back the flat sheet on the twin bed in his old bedroom when the scent of Dean and Castiel's laundry detergent floated up to him. Good, Dean had taken recently cleaned sheets and made the bed again. He hated the smell of dusty, unused cotton. He couldn't sleep on it unless he knew it was clean.
It wasn't like he really fit in the twin anymore, anyway. He should just get the air mattress out.
But the bed, like the house, had so many great memories for him. Sam smoothed his hand over the sheet, a small smile on his face.
"I freaking searched everywhere and I can't find your brother's spare electric blanket," Lucifer said, padding into the room, barefooted. He was still fresh from the shower; the backs of his arms and legs were pink from the water being too hot. His basketball shorts were black but his shirt was white and practically see-through because the bastard never dried himself before putting it on. The thin material clung to his muscles, leaving nothing to the imagination. If he noticed that Sam's attention was focused on his chest, he didn't say anything. "I don't want to be cold tonight."
"It's July," Sam rolled his eyes, letting them settle over the other man's face. He hadn't bothered putting his contacts in this late, and Sam couldn't help but smile. His hair was a mess from running his hands through it while it was still wet – but it had mostly stopped dripping at that point – and he was rubbing his palm over the scars on his left arm. The flesh of the biggest scar – his last cut that landed him in Grace – was raised and darker from the hot water, slicing the tattoo in half. Lucifer offered Sam a small smile and a shrug.
"They have central heating, and I don't want to get cold," he insisted, before his eyes dropped from Sam's face to the bed. Sam's hands were still rubbing over the sheet and all Lucifer had to do was raise an eyebrow and Sam was flustered. Lucifer dropped to his knees and started digging in his duffle bag.
"I… I just… I just like my old bed," Sam drew his hand away, opting instead to cross his arms in front of him like some kind of shield. He couldn't think of anything to say to explain why the bed meant so much to him, so he just said the first thing that popped into his head. "I've had good times here. You know, I lost my virginity on this bed?"
Lucifer stood with something in his hand, and his grin grew and turned predatory. He reached a hand out blindly to find the door, pushing it closed so slowly and silently that Sam could actually hear the click as the door latched to the jamb. He could hear his own gulp as Lucifer turned around, taking a few steps toward him until there was just a breath of space between them. They weren't touching yet, but Sam's skin was alight with the promise of contact.
"I know," Lucifer murmured, putting the small bottle from his bag on the table next to the bed. Sam gulped as Lucifer reached out so his other hand could close around Sam's left wrist, thumb tracing over the ink pattern. "I was there, remember?"
"We can't," Sam whispered, but he didn't try to pull his arm free. Instead, his fingers flexed, his chin dropping enough so he was looking down into Lucifer's eyes. "Jess…" Sam shook his head like the motion would clear his thoughts of the body in front of him. "Jess said that…"
"I don't care what Jess said. She isn't here now. And we are," Lucifer leaned forward and suddenly they were flush together. Sam could feel the damp material of Lucifer's shirt through his own. His shirt was cool – his body and the air conditioning were cooling the moisture that was soaking into the cotton – and Sam's free hand found Lucifer's hip despite his protest. "I want to recreate that night. It would be fun, Sam. C'mon, for old time's sake?"
"Dean and Cas are right down the hall," Sam protested feebly, fingers brushing Lucifer's shirt out of the way so he could clench at bare skin.
"We'll be quiet," Lucifer's face turned to Sam's clavicle. He pressed a kiss against the shirt over the bone before turning his head, nuzzling his nose into the crook at Sam's neck. "It wouldn't be the first time we messed around with them home. They never care that we're here. They're never quiet. We'll at least be courteous."
"Lucifer," Sam turned his head, nosing into the blond man's damp hair, smelling like his own shampoo and body wash but undeniably like the old house, too. He smelled like home. A smile broke out on his face and he spread his legs, leaning against the bed. He rested his hips against the mattress, making himself shorter – Lucifer just a little bit taller than Sam in their current position – just enough that he had to look up instead of across to meet his eye. "If we do this we can't go back, you know."
The grin Lucifer had been sporting softened, recognizing the line Sam had said to him seven years ago. The hand that wasn't clinging to Sam's wrist rose to run over Sam's jaw, pushing back until his fingers were in the other man's hair. "I don't want to go back."
Sam licked his lips, leaning toward Lucifer, aiming to kiss him. Instead, Lucifer backed away, blue eyes finding Sam's, and he raised the man's wrist to his mouth. It had been what he did that night years ago, pressing a kiss to the center of the star that Sam had drawn on himself for years. Except that night – just like tonight – there was no sharpie on the man's wrist. The night Sam and Lucifer first shared a bed in a biblical sense had been on Sam's eighteenth birthday. Earlier that day, they had traded the sharpie for ink and Lucifer had pressed a gentle kiss against the new tattoo, careful of the sensitive flesh and the A&D ointment.
Sam's hand found Lucifer's wrist, pressing his lips against the matching star and the raised flesh of his scars.
They didn't actually relive that first night with any sort of accuracy – it was almost impossible to duplicate a first time, as the first time always tended to be awkward and embarrassing – not to mention it was hard to unlearn another person's body. Instead, Lucifer knew to brush his fingers up Sam's sides as he pushed his shirt up and over his head. Sam knew to rub his thumbs in small circles over Lucifer's hip bones before pushing the shorts off.
Lucifer knew trailing kisses down Sam's neck would make it take longer to get his belt and pants off by 24 seconds, but it was so worth it to hear the soft noises Sam couldn't quite hold back in his throat.
When Lucifer leaned Sam backwards, crawling between his legs, he pressed a chaste kiss to his lips before letting his tongue dart out to push against Sam's bottom lip, asking for permission. They wasted no time – Sam opened his mouth, angling his chin up while his hand found the back of Lucifer's head, keeping him held down, mouths together – and before long, Sam was arching his back off the mattress, trying to find any sort of contact with Lucifer's body.
The blond man lowered himself to the younger man, and Sam tossed his head back with the roll of Lucifer's hips. Lucifer's teeth found Sam's neck, but the younger boy's hand came to his head, guiding him further down his chest.
"Don't leave marks they can see," Sam begged, breathless.
He heard the chuckle deep in Lucifer's throat and Sam pressed his hips up despite himself. Lucifer bit lower – closer to his collarbone – before licking over the mark. "Modesty or embarrassment?"
"Not embarrassed," Sam painted, fingers sliding down the man's back to grip at his hips. He pulled, tugging him up and making him thrust. His eyes slid shut at the feeling of their skin rubbing together – rutting together – like they were teenagers again. "Could never be embarrassed of you."
"That's right," Lucifer dropped a kiss to Sam's chest, nipping and kissing his way down. His hands were rubbing over Sam's thighs – blunt nails pushing into Sam's skin, but not enough to hurt – he paused at Sam's hip, pressing an open mouth kiss to the bone. "You still wear my mark. No matter what, you always will."
"Always," Sam breathed, trying to cant his hips up again, but Lucifer was holding him down. "Please."
They were being quiet – even with a wall joining this room to the master bedroom – Dean and Castiel wouldn't be able to hear them. The loudest sound Sam made, the loudest sound he ever made, was the groan that slipped from his chest when Lucifer took him in his mouth. Sam's fingers dug into the blond hair, not pushing or guiding, but clenching and scratching. The effort to keep quiet was always expelled in other ways. A pull of hair, a digging of nails against skin. Lucifer was sure he knew all the tricks to get Sam off in no time – he knew the exact movements of his wrist that drove Sam crazy, the exact place on his thigh to bite to make him howl and writhe, but they had time tonight. There was no need to rush. So when Lucifer felt the half-moons of Sam's fingernails nearly breaking the skin at his wrist, he knew he needed to slow down. He didn't want to end it so quickly.
Lucifer pulled back and Sam whined, his face buried in the crook of his elbow. His stomach was shining with beads of sweat, and Lucifer ducked his mouth to a dip in Sam's abs, licking at the muscles. Sam groaned.
"You want to fuck me, I take it?" Sam moved his arm back to his forehead – his chest was heaving with his breaths, physically dragging himself back from the edge – but there was a smile on his face, like he had no objection at all to where it was going, even if he was denied his release for the time being.
"No," Lucifer sat back against his heels, hands trailing up Sam's sides, down his chest, then over his thighs. "I want you inside me. Just like the first time."
Sam huffed a laugh, hand finding Lucifer's hand to still it against his pounding heart. "I won't last long."
"I never do, either."
"You're not twenty-one anymore," Sam grinned, his heartbeat returning to a slower flutter; his long legs bent at the knees and pressed into Lucifer's side. He was already planning how he would flip them over on such a small bed.
"And fuck if you haven't filled out since you were eighteen," Lucifer grinned back, placing a hand low on Sam's stomach. "I remember when you were just a kid fighting in the basement of my Church. You were lanky and awkward. Look at you now."
Sam sat up, flexing the muscles in his stomach to do so. He hooked one of his arms around Lucifer's shoulder, an elbow behind his neck. The movement made them grind together, and Lucifer couldn't suppress the shudder.
"And look at you," Sam breathed. In one quick movement, Sam pushed at Lucifer, moving him to the side. The elder boy didn't fight it – he let Sam turn them around until his knees were spread with Sam's hips between them – and he let Sam lean over, sucking kisses on his collarbone. It would leave a mark, and if anyone saw them, they would know who made them. He belonged to Sam – he always had – and no matter what happened, he always would. Sam's fingers scratched at Lucifer's ribs, red lines burst to his skin from the hard press, but Lucifer just pressed himself into the other man's nails. "Look how you still respond to me."
"Always, Sam," Lucifer breathed. Sam was kissing down his chest, pausing at his nipple to run a flat tongue against it and Lucifer writhed under him. "Made for you, remember?'
Sam hummed his agreement and kissed lower.
Lucifer wasn't the only one who knew the body that had lain under him. Sam knew Lucifer enjoyed the marks – he liked the bruises from teeth, the nails raising his flesh with scratches – Lucifer liked the physical reminders in the morning. So when Sam licked a stripe up Lucifer, he made sure to grip his hip hard enough to bruise. Lucifer liked to be held down and taken advantage of, like the simple act of pleasing someone else was enough for him. It wasn't until Lucifer was biting at the back of his own wrist with one hand, the other tapping a small plastic bottle against Sam's hand to get his attention that Sam realized how close Lucifer was.
One cool, slick finger was enough for Lucifer to shut his eyes, heels digging into the mattress to try and lift himself up more, let himself be more accessible. Sam placed a kiss to the blond man's thigh, nuzzling for a moment before biting at the muscle. Lucifer cried out – a needy whine, the loudest he would get – before he took the skin of his wrist in his mouth a bit harder, giving him something else to concentrate on.
Lucifer had always relaxed easier to Sam than it ever was the other way around, and Sam wasn't sure if had to do with trust or lust, but it didn't matter to him right now. It only took a couple of minutes for Lucifer's knees to fall open further, a silent gesture that meant he was ready for another finger. With two inside, Sam started pressing and rubbing until he found what he was looking for.
Sam pushed himself up onto his knees, leaning over Lucifer even though the angle was awkward, so he could push the blond's arm away and press a kiss to Lucifer's lips. "You'll break the skin," Sam murmured, but Lucifer groaned.
"Don't care. Been too long."
"It hasn't been that long," Sam grinned, ducking lower to push his nose against Lucifer's throat.
"Too long," Lucifer insisted again, then fell silent. He didn't bring his hand back to his mouth to try and stifle the sounds, but Sam wasn't convinced that he wouldn't bite through his lip in an attempt to stay quiet.
Sam pulled his hand back, and Lucifer's sigh was so full of self-righteous fury it sounded more like it belonged more to the angel the man was named for than the man himself. Instead of the pain of a brother who beat him and cast him from his home and into the eternal damnation of hell, Lucifer made the sound in the brief pause between two and three fingers. When Sam pushed back in, it was like all was right in the world again.
Sam was on fire, but Lucifer's skin was cool to the touch when Sam pressed his forehead against the man's thigh. His sweat was evaporating in the hot July air, and the younger boy pressed kisses to any patch of skin he could reach.
It almost was like he was eighteen again; he sure as fuck wasn't going to last any longer than he did that first time, not the way Lucifer was vibrating apart underneath him anyway.
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth…" Lucifer groaned out, and Sam raised his head to watch the man beneath him. For once, the blond's pale eyes were open – a hand burying itself in Sam's hair to make sure Sam wouldn't look away – as if he ever could. He was shining with sweat and the effort to stay whole while he was coming apart at the seams. The tremors raking through his body were beautiful, and it made Sam full of pride. He was the one making Lucifer tremble like that. It was him and nobody else. "…for thy love is better than wine."
"No Bible in bed, Lucifer," Sam grinned, but the goose bumps covering his body betrayed his words. "We agreed on that, remember?"
"Enter me, Sam," Lucifer was trying to push himself back onto the younger boy's fingers, and Sam swore his heart jumped a beat at Lucifer's words. "I need to know you again."
"Fuck," Sam groaned, pulling his fingers out long enough to slick himself, completely aware that Lucifer hadn't taken his eyes off him yet. He lined himself up with Lucifer, pressing just enough to judge the resistance. There was hardly any at all. Fuck. Sam leaned over Lucifer's body, propping himself up on an elbow just under Lucifer's armpit, the other still on himself. "Are you ready?"
"Sam," Lucifer whispered, hands dragging slowly through the taller man's hair. His pupils were dilated, his eyes were lidded, and his tongue pushed out, wetting his lips, anticipating the kiss he knew Sam would press down on him as he pressed in. He might have tried to say something else, but the only thing that came out was another, "Sam."
Sam pushed in – slow despite his desire to snap his hips to bury himself in the blond man – and dropped his other elbow to the other side, pressing a kiss to Lucifer's neck before changing the angle to press against his mouth. Sam swallowed Lucifer's groan and moved his arms so Lucifer's shoulders were resting on Sam's forearms, the taller man's hands fisted into the blond hair.
Lucifer's hands dropped to Sam's hips, fingernails digging in, trying to get him to start moving before he was even fully in him. Sam fought against him, trying to hold still and let him adjust, but Lucifer pushed his hands as low as they could on Sam's long body. He rocked down as he pulled Sam toward him, breathing out a small, beautiful chuckle, something that would upset lesser men. The younger man remembered their first time together when Lucifer had let out a bark of laughter and he had been offended. It wasn't until he was being taken the next morning that he realized why Lucifer had laughed.
This was what they had been afraid of? This was what they had been denying themselves for those years? It was beautiful, pleasurable, and the love was so evident that it seemed like a physical thing.
Sam couldn't hold back anymore, even though he knew he should.
They were chest to chest; Lucifer's legs were wrapped around Sam's thighs, ankles touching Sam's calves, trying to keep him close, and Sam's hands were in Lucifer's hair. There was barely a spot on them at all that didn't have some sort of contact, and that had always been one of the overwhelming things about taking Lucifer as his own. The man tried to consume Sam, like if he could only press close enough, the two of them could be one.
It didn't take long for them to grow frantic – slow, deep kisses turned hot and messy, then morphed again into a simple press of mouths together to share heavy breaths – when it was too impossible to focus on both the kissing and the friction. Sam shifted, resting his weight on one of his elbows so he could press a hand between their bodies. Lucifer whined against his lips, and their pace shifted to a sprint to the end of the race.
Sam knew it would be over soon, and normally he would try to hold on to the sensation and make it last, but he couldn't tonight. Lucifer was right, it had been too long.
It was Lucifer who came first, but when his body clenched, Sam wasn't far behind. He was trembling with his own release, barely able to keep himself from collapsing on the other man. Sam ended up pressing his forehead against the blond's shoulders, back heaving with desperate breaths. He could count his heartbeats in his throat – pounding faster than it did on his average morning run – and he let his hand drift up Lucifer's side then down his arm, pressing his thumb into the center of the star tattoo on his wrist.
The blond's heart was racing, too.
It didn't take long for Sam to move, rolling on his side next to the man and letting his eyes slide shut. He had to bend his knees to fit his whole body on the twin and lying side by side meant that he and Lucifer were pressed up against each other. Lucifer's face was buried in the crook of his arm for a long while – almost long enough for Sam to fall asleep – but when he felt the bed shift, his eyes snapped open. Lucifer was half off the bed, reaching for something on the floor. Sam grabbed for him instinctively, holding onto his hip to catch him and hold him up in case he started to fall.
A second later, Lucifer rolled back to Sam, using his own white t-shirt to clean himself, then the younger man. He had always used his own clothes to clean them, like the thought of tainting something of Sam's that way was blasphemous. When he tossed the shirt back over the edge of the bed, his eyes found Sam's in the dark. They were drooping with bliss and exhaustion, and Lucifer didn't bother redressing himself.
How many nights had they slept next to each other, Sam had wondered. He knew what Lucifer wanted. Sam rolled over, facing the wall, and instantly felt an arm wrapping over his waist. Lucifer's knees fit perfectly behind Sam's, his stomach to the taller man's back, his forehead pressed between Sam's shoulder blades.
The room was silent again, and Sam could hear the rain ticking against the window. Lucifer was compliant and relaxed behind him, but Sam still felt wired and nervous, like he expected to get caught. He always felt like that when he and Lucifer were together back in the Winchester house, and the thought of it made it hard to fall asleep. They should at least get dressed, just in case.
Sam felt a pair of lips press between his shoulder blades and heard Lucifer murmur, "I love you, Sam."
The younger Winchester closed his eyes and tugged the flat sheet over them so they were covered and Lucifer wouldn't get so cold in the night. "Yeah, I know," Sam whispered back, his hand resting over Lucifer's on his stomach. "I know you do."
Flesh and bone didn't really make a fantastic pillow objectively, Dean thought. Castiel was full of sharp angles – his collarbones and ribs stuck out of his chest when he laid on his back, his shoulder was bony and hard – but there was something so incredibly comfortable about waking up with Castiel's arm around his shoulder, and Dean's nose pressed against Castiel's throat that he didn't care about the logic. He just cared about the smell of him, the feel of his stomach beneath Dean's fingers, the way their legs wrapped together so it would be impossible for one to move without waking the other.
The sunlight was peeking through the blinds, one ray of light painted over their chests, bathing them in light in the otherwise dark room. Dean let his fingers trail up Castiel's stomach toward the ray, fingers moving along the raised flesh of the scars. He traced the circle and the symbol inside. He traced the designs under the circle along his stomach. It wasn't until the third time around the triangle above the circle that Castiel began to wake up.
His body tensed under Dean's, arms reached out over his head and legs untangling as his body shook and stretched the sleep away. Instead of moving away, Dean pressed a kiss over Castiel's collarbone and when he was done stretching, he resumed his arms around Dean and held him.
It was like the fight the night before had never occurred, and Dean wondered if Castiel had forgiven him or if he had just forgotten about it momentarily with the sleep.
"What time is it?" Castiel asked, voice so low it sent a spark of desire down Dean's spine. He ignored it, and instead, sat up to look at the clock.
"Fifteen more minutes," Castiel murmured, licking his lips. "Go make breakfast."
"It's your turn."
"You invited Anthony to our wedding. Turns don't matter anymore. Also, I'm taking you on our wedding night now. Exclusively."
Dean grinned against Castiel's chest. There was a difference between mildly annoyed but forgiven and angry and spiteful. Castiel had mostly forgiven him. "You can't hold that over my head the rest of our lives."
"Fine," Castiel opened his eyes, and blue met green. Castiel was smiling, he was still holding Dean close, and he reached up with the hand that wasn't wrapped around Dean's shoulders to brush through his hair, palm resting against Dean's temple. "Make me bacon and hash browns for breakfast and you're forgiven. No more holding it over your head."
"You're letting me off easy, Cas," Dean grinned.
"And I get to have you first," Castiel let his arm slip from around Dean and rolled so he was facing away, toward the sunlight. He drew the blanket over his shoulder. Dean sat up and he could see that Castiel's eyes were closed; he was going to doze for another fifteen minutes. "After your name becomes my name too."
"It's a deal," Dean pressed a quick kiss to the side of Castiel's neck. Unless he was mistaken, the action made the smaller man shutter. "I'll come get you when it's done."
"Thank you, Dean," Castiel said, and then he was out.
Dean grabbed his cell phone from the charger and threw on sweat pants and a shirt before leaving the room in the off chance that Sam made it up in time for his early morning run. Lucifer and Sam would likely get up every morning and jog past their old haunts, but never the first morning back in town. They thought they were sneaky – they thought Dean didn't know – but this house held memories for Dean, too. This town was home and that meant something.
If they thought they were quiet and didn't leave any marks, Dean wouldn't know. But Dean knew.
So he did what any older brother would do and he threw the door to Sam's room open loud enough to hit the book shelf behind the door with a loud crash. It was usually enough to wake them both up, but Sam was already taking up most of the bed. When the noise woke Lucifer, he jumped. He was already too close to the edge and his normal angry scowl turned into a yelp when he flailed for a gravity defying moment, before he fell from the bed and hit the ground.
He was so concerned about the fall that he didn't seem to care he was naked. Maybe he forgot.
Dean was laughing and Sam had this crazy look of half concern for his bedfellow's safety and an overwhelming desire to get Lucifer to cover himself. In the end, Sam threw a pillow down on Lucifer's lap before gathering up the flat sheet around himself. He stumbled out of bed, nearly exposing himself and tripping over Lucifer (who was now scrambling on the floor with a pillow on his lap, searching for some clothes) in the process of stalking over to Dean, likely to punch him.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Dean, what the hell?" Sam was shouting, and Dean almost came back with a line about being quiet because Castiel was trying to sleep. Lucifer managed to find his shorts, must be, because they were on when Dean looked around Sam's shoulder.
"I wish you were storming away indignantly right now. I would so Mycroft Holmes your ass in that sheet."
"I will kill you. You can't just do that to a person. This is still my room, Dean. You can't just…"
Dean yelled out, "I just wanted to let you know breakfast is in fifteen." He backed away and shut the door, taking off downstairs before Sam could come after him and beat him to death.
When Sam didn't turn up in the kitchen with a knife right away, the elder Winchester started with breakfast. He got the bacon from the fridge and the hash browns from the freezer. He actually had a good start to it before Sam sat down at the table, his head in his hands like he had a hangover. Maybe a shame hangover. A shame-over. Dean grinned and filed that away to tell Castiel later.
"So where's Luci?" Dean grinned, grabbing a cup from the cupboard and some orange juice from the fridge and pouring it for his brother. "Too humiliated to show his face to me again? That's gonna be awkward at the wedding."
"He told me to tell you, and I quote, 'I'm sorry that I've ruined your life because now that you've seen me, my little brother will never be able to measure up.' I told him you were going to deck him for it," Sam picked up the orange juice and took a big gulp, shooting a thankful look back to Dean.
The elder Winchester just laughed at the comment. "Weird, Jess started crying when I called her and told him you were cheating on her with Lucifer again..."
"... So I would expect a call from her demanding an explanation."
Sam sat his glass down carefully and let his head fall into his hands. "Can you please not bring up Jess again?"
"And why not? I happen to like Jess and I think what you're putting her through is terrible. I mean, she loves you so much and yet…"
"I've been with the same guy since I was sixteen, Dean. I'm so not interested in Jess. She's just my friend," Sam looked up when Dean put a plate in front of him. "I don't like the jokes."
"Well, duh Sam, obviously you're not interested in Jess. It wouldn't be funny if you hadn't been so rock solid with Lucifer for the past nine years. You've had like, what, one fight ever? And that was about your stupid class. Cas and I fight like that every week about something or other," Dean started walking toward the stairs so he could wake Castiel back up. "It wouldn't be funny if you didn't have a ring you were planning on springing on him. Now it's just hilarious. When are you going to pop the question anyway?"
"After your wedding," Sam grinned. "You think I want your bridezilla getting pissed because I stole his thunder? No way."
Dean laughed. "I'm going to tell him you called him that."
"This isn't bacon," Sam shot back over his shoulder.
"It's turkey bacon. It's better for you," Dean started climbing the stairs.
"Yeah and Cas doesn't eat pork. When did you get so whipped, Dean?" Sam called back up. "You gave up pork bacon for him?"
"Have you seen his ass? I'd give up a lot to keep that ass around," Dean called back from the top of the stairs. Hell, if he had to see Lucifer naked, Sam deserved a little bit of uncomfortable payback, right?
Lucifer was in the shower again – Dean swore to God the man lived in the bathroom since he wasn't afraid of his reflection anymore; he should remind Lucifer that pride was a sin – and Dean pushed the door open the master bedroom as quietly as he could. He might like waking his brother up with loud noises, but Castiel deserved better. And if Dean sat and watched the rise and fall of Castiel's chest for a moment before he placed a hand over his shoulder to wake him up, nobody had to know.
He had to remind himself that Castiel's food was still on the burner when the man turned to face him, stretching his body and arching his back, exposing his bare torso and throat to Dean. They had a lot of shit to get done today, and there would always be time for that later.
Everyone was showered and dressed but Dean, who was calling everyone who hadn't RSVP'd yet to see whether or not they were coming. Pretty much they knew who was and who wasn't, but it was just a formality. And a joke when Zachariah forgot to send his family's card back, and Dean ended up talking to Castiel's oldest brother for fifteen minutes about that girl who had been dominating Jeopardy for the past couple of weeks, even though Zachariah, Uriel, and Rafi's families had all gotten in that morning and were staying with Balthazar. Hell, even Jimmy was at Balthazar's. Castiel was itching to go see his family again once they sorted everything out for the wedding.
The look Lucifer shot Castiel was priceless when he asked, "Dean and Zach have something in common?"
Castiel smiled fondly at the back of Dean's head. "He talks to all of them pretty regularly. Sometimes he calls Uriel up just to talk to his girlfriend and see how she's doing. He talks to them more than I do."
Lucifer just hmmed, a small smile on his face. Dean started frowning, starting and aborting a few failed attempts at a sentence before he finally said, "Oh, yeah, hi, Mikey. What? You… well, he has a fucking phone, you know. Not like I was having a conversation or anything."
"Is that for me?" Lucifer grinned, pushing past Castiel to elbow Dean in the side. Dean tried to push the blond man off of him, but ended up on the floor with Lucifer's triumphant foot on his back and his phone up to his ears. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Mickey?"
Sam was laughing at the kitchen table as Castiel smacked his brother's leg to get it off of his fiancé. Eventually, he went for the back of the knee and Lucifer shot a pissy look at his brother before he removed himself from Dean. By the time Castiel had helped Dean up, Lucifer had hung up the phone and sat it back down on the table.
"Michael wants to watch a movie. The girls are all out shopping and I don't think our brothers and Jimmy know what to do with the kids," Lucifer said. "You wanna drop me off at Bale's before you go sort out the cake stuff?"
"Ugh," Castiel just put his face in his hands and nodded. By the time Lucifer had put his shoes on, Dean had called up the photographer and Sam was talking to someone about flowers. Lucifer had decidedly stayed out of most of the planning, which had been a blessing in its own right. But if the rumors were true, he was taking his duties as Castiel's best man very seriously. Every so often Balthazar or Gabriel would get a grin on their faces and giggle about the bachelor party Lucifer was planning. The girls were out getting supplies for him. Lucifer just gave Castiel an innocent look.
Then he shot Dean a knowing grin and asked, "Can I drive?"
Castiel actually laughed. After a few brief moments for goodbye – Castiel kissed Dean's forehead while Lucifer just gripped at Sam's wrist, thumb pressing into the center of the star tattoo before running upstairs to get his backpack – and then they were gone. Castiel's Volt drove like a dream and with the exception of Inias, Byron, and Dean, it was probably the thing he loved most in the world.
Or at least, he loved what it represented. Around the time they got engaged, Castiel got home from watching his nephew (who had just been born at the time) to find Dean sitting in the driveway with the car. Castiel never got a ring, but he did get a Chevrolet of his own.
A brand new, off-the-lot, electric Chevrolet in the perfect shade of dark blue.
The Crowley Mansion – er, Chez Bae – was a twenty-minute walk from the Winchester home, but it was a five-minute drive if they hit the light. Pretty much the second Castiel pulled out of the driveway, Lucifer dug in his pocket for the box with the ring in it. He opened the box and shut it half a dozen times before they hit the one street light on the route.
"I don't know how to do it," Lucifer said, still staring down at the ring.
"I'm sure you do," Castiel grinned, gripping the wheel a little tighter as he waited for the light to change. "Otherwise Dean wouldn't have caught you naked this morning."
In his defense, Lucifer wasn't blushing. He just looked confused. "What?"
"It. Doing it. You don't know how to fornicate with your lover."
"Oh fuck you," Lucifer's face split into a grin. "One, don't call it fornicate. It makes it sound dirty…"
"It is dirty. You're having relations with a man outside of wedlock."
"… and so are you!"
"Yes, but I know how. To do it, I mean."
Lucifer groaned, hitting his head back against the seat in frustration. "You aren't cute when you try to be funny, Cassie. I don't care what Dean tells you."
"Dean thinks I'm adorable."
"And two, I meant I don't know how to propose to Sam. And I know you know that's what I meant. I'm not the drop down on one knee type of guy, but I can't think of anything big enough. Everything I think of falls short, and he deserves perfection," Lucifer was looking back down at the ring again. Castiel sighed.
"He's going to say yes. You're not with the same person for nine years and then not marry him when he asks. Well, unless he has some bone to pick against the institution of marriage, but Sam doesn't have that. And he doesn't need some grandiose gesture. He'll say yes as long as he's asked," Castiel pulled into Balthazar's long driveway and put it in park. He turned to face his brother. "Don't freak out about it."
"Let me practice on you," Lucifer closed the box and shoved it back into his pocket. "Just… sometime when nobody's around let me try it out on you first."
Castiel let his eyes jump over his brother's face. He was serious, but there was a hint of mischief too. He took in the pale blue eyes and the wrinkles near his eyes when he was smiling and the short spikes of hair – not unlike Dean's – and Castiel rolled his eyes. "Fine, but I won't say yes if you do it publicly and you'll be embarrassed as hell."
"No, I won't, bro," Lucifer grinned. "I wonder how many free dinners we could get."
Castiel sighed and made a show of hitting the unlock button. Lucifer took a hint, grinned, and let himself out of the vehicle. Castiel was already starting to get a headache, and he hadn't even dealt with whatever the cake problem was yet. It was going to be a long week.
Cake crisis averted, Castiel decided to see what movie his brothers decided on. He pulled into the driveway, popped the latch of his seatbelt, and got out of his car. He didn't bother knocking on Balthazar's door – he was there so often he might as well have a room – and the first thing he noticed was that the foyer was a mess. There were a ton of boxes lining both sides of it, and Castiel took a step forward to see what was in them. Were they moving their house around?
But then he heard the singing from the living room, and to be honest, that room didn't look much better.
Crowley's grand piano stood in the back next to the window like it always had and always would. He had left it to Castiel after his mother had died, but it was too big to fit in the home he'd made with Dean. Well, that's what he told himself. There was more than enough space next to the bay window in the dining room and Dean was already talking about building on another room in the back. And there was the basement…
Instead, he couldn't have something so big, so expensive, something from Crowley in his house. Castiel loved that piano, but he loved teaching Byron on it more. He loved having it separate from Dean.
Right now, his piano was surrounded by Michael's drum set from high school, a handful of guitars and other string instruments, and a 3.3 octave glockenspiel he must have stolen from school.
His family, however, was sitting on the couch, watching the TV. Well, they weren't exactly watching the TV. They were really watching Michael and Lucifer.
Lucifer was wearing Balthazar's robe. It was red and green and tied loosely around his hips. Michael, on the other hand, had a pair of white gym shorts on and a white towel thrown over his head but lacked a shirt. The rest of Castiel's brothers were sitting on the ground before them, chanting the background lyrics to the song. Claire – Jimmy and Amelia's five-year-old daughter – was sitting in Gabriel's lap, and Samandriel – Zachariah and Rachel's six-year-old son – was sitting in his father's lap. Byron was only thirteen months old, his fingers buried in his mouth from where he sat between his father's legs. As soon as Castiel sat down, the youngest boy shifted, crawling onto his uncle's lap before turning back to face the show before him.
Michael was sitting on an armchair, Lucifer standing on the other side of the screen, but he was pointing at his twin with a sad look on his face as he sang along with the movie, "Once, I called you brother. Once, I thought the chance to make you laugh was all I ever wanted. And even now, I wish that God had chose another. Serving as your foe on His behalf is the last thing that I wanted."
The rest of the Novak brothers chanted the plagues. Gabriel gripped his little sister around the middle, breathing the words in her ear. She frowned, swatting at him, before a grin broke out on her face.
"This was my home. All this pain and devastation, how it tortures me inside. All the innocent who suffer from you stubbornness and pride."
Castiel turned to look behind him. Their father was the lone person on the couch. He had seen the family acting out The Prince of Egypt before – it had been one of Michael's favorites growing up – but the roles were certainly different than they had ever been when the boys were growing up. Jimmy's eyes were wide, an unreadable expression written on his face. When Michael stood from his thrown, Castiel looked back to his brothers.
Michael stood in front of the TV, but it didn't matter. Nobody was watching the actual video. The older twin poked his blond brother's chest, face set in hard, unforgiving lines that made Castiel's heart race. He could remember with clarity when that was actually how Michael viewed Lucifer.
"You who I called brother, how could you have come to hate me so? Is this what you wanted? Then let my heart be hardened and never mind how high the cost may grow. This will still be so: I will never let your people go."
"Thus saith the Lord."
"I will not let…"
"Let my people go!"
"… your people go."
After the song ended, the scene behind the brothers went on as the DVD played on. But there was a pause in the actors playing their roles. Lucifer looked at Michael with the pain he could have recalled years ago, remembering how Michael had cast him out and alienated him from the life he had known. It was similar to Moses' pain – he did not want to harm his brother – he just wanted to be free.
It was Michael who broke character for just a moment. He placed his hands on his twin's face, fingers at the man's jawline, thumbs resting against Lucifer's cheekbones, and he drew him in. Their foreheads touched for just a moment – a declaration of love and a whispered apology – before they drew away and started getting to the next scene in the movie.
Behind him, Castiel heard a sniffle. The only one sitting behind him was their father.
After Castiel showed up, the girls got back from shopping. Then the Winchesters showed up, and there was a momentary pause after Ramses' son died so everyone could help put the groceries away and so everyone could settle back on the floor to watch the ending of the movie.
Jimmy was still in the kitchen, getting himself a glass of water when they started playing the movie again, and he could hear Rafi and Hester singing "When You Believe" but he felt compelled to stay away. Even though Amelia was in there, sitting next to Gabriel and Claire, he hadn't felt at home with his sons since he left. They reminded him of their mother – each of them had the best qualities of her – and it was painful to be around them.
He missed Anna. He had missed her long before she died.
But he couldn't exactly hide in the kitchen all week.
There were so many of them – nine children, eight of them with wives or boyfriends or girlfriends, two grandchildren – and all twenty of them were in Balthazar's living room, sitting or singing together about miracles. Lucifer had dropped his head to Sam's shoulder, Michael sat between Hester's legs and leaned back into her, and Byron was sitting half over Dean and Castiel, not realizing that their hands were clasped behind him. Rafi was happy. Uriel was happy. Balthazar and Gabriel and Zachariah were happy.
And they were all happy without any real help or guidance from their father.
But Jimmy knew. He was never really the father of these children. Not really.
Gabriel pushed Claire to her feet, and she walked between Rafi and Hester and sang in Hebrew: "Ashira l'adonai…"
I will sing to the Lord.
After Claire had sang by herself, Zachariah pushed Samandriel up to his feet, and he reached out to take his cousin's hand, dragging Byron to the middle of the room with him while the two of them sang. Even Byron knew the ending of the verse: "Ashira, ashira, ashira."
The second time it opened up for everyone. Gabriel stood, picking his younger sister up in his arms. Lucifer knelt down and let Samandriel on his back. Even Michael – who was supposed to be the pharaoh – picked up Byron and sang along with the makeshift set of Jews.
Kali, the pagan girl, stood and sang. Sam sang as he ran his fingers through Samandriel's hair, smoothing it down where it was sticking up. Castiel stood and held his hands down for Dean, dragging his fiancé up so the pair of them could sing with the rest of them.
Even Amelia stood and sang, and Balthazar grabbed her hand and started dancing with her.
All of them, all twenty members of the Novak family except for Jimmy, were standing in front of the TV, reaching their arms toward the heavens when they all sang the second: "Ashira, ashira, ashira."
There was a swell from them, Jimmy Novak's personal choir, when they all continued on with the song. And Jimmy didn't want to step forward. Joining them reminded him of his betrayal, reminded him of their mother, but he could remember when twenty was just eight. He could remember his boys singing this song, dancing around the living room with their mother.
He could remember Anna so perfectly.
So Jimmy walked forward, making the twenty into twenty-one by placing his hand between Dean's shoulder blades. The older Winchester turned and looped his arm around Jimmy's shoulders easily. One of Castiel's hands reached out, and he took hold of his father's.
"There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe? Somehow you will… now you will… you will when you believe."
Once the movie was over, the out-of-towners went out for lunch and to cruise around and reminisce. Dean and Sam had something else they had to do for the wedding, leaving Gabriel, Kali, Michael, Lucifer, and Balthazar get on with the moving.
A couple of hours later Lucifer's decided to take a break from the heavy lifting and stood under the central air conditioning duct in the kitchen. Castiel and Hester had started dinner while the others moved the stuff Balthazar had been storing in the basement to the attic. Castiel had wanted to help, but Lucifer knew if he saw that they were cleaning out the basement, he'd realize something was up.
He already had little faith in Lucifer to plan the bachelor party, but it wasn't like he was alone in his endeavor. And who cared if it broke tradition? It was going to be fantastic. And Castiel was going to enjoy himself whether he liked it or not.
Byron had already woken up from his nap, and Hester had squeezed four not-so-subtle comments into the conversation about how she wanted to get married and have kids (with Michael) sometime. Michael was fantastic at having selective hearing, and if he noticed at all, he didn't let it show.
The big dinner was almost done cooking when Sam called. Lucifer answered, walking back into the kitchen to tell Castiel that the Winchesters were a needy bunch and that they could never go to long without seeing their angels, but Sam just said, "We're hungry."
"It's fantastic to hear from you too, sweetheart," Lucifer grinned, standing under a vent and raising his arms to try and dry the sweat that was practically rolling down his body before he put his shirt back on. He usually hated central cooling – the man got cold way too easily for that – but taking two flights of stairs with heavy boxes was sweaty business.
Castiel snorted from his perch on the barstool next to Byron at the counter. He had been sharing an apple he'd sliced with his nephew, teaching him the fine art of smothering the fruit in peanut butter. Castiel had taken a break from that to stare down at his phone with a twisted grin on his face. Lucifer just asked, "What?" because he knew Castiel would answer anyway.
"Anthony just played shaft in Words With Friends," Castiel's thumb dragged tiles across the screen, playing his next move. "If I had an 'n' I could have played anal."
"No wonder you were freaking out about Crowley coming for the wedding. I mean, kinky Words With Friends, really Cas? Isn't that like inviting your mistress over to dinner with your wife?"
Castiel turned and looked behind him with a really good imitation of one of Sam's bitchfaces plastered on his face. "Just put your damn shirt on and talk to your damn boyfriend."
"It's Hugo Boss," Lucifer hissed. Sam laughed on the other line. "I don't want to get it sweaty."
"It's plaid," Castiel said, frowning. He was looking over the shirt like he couldn't understand what was special about it. "Sam has like a thousand of them."
"This isn't just one of Sam's shirts, you moron. This one was a hundred and fifty dollars. Macklemore Winchester gets his at a thrift store if they ever had any in his size."
"Hey," Sam said on the other line, but he was laughing. "Macklemore is actually really talented."
"You hurt?" Byron asked, a glop of peanut butter fell from his apple slice when he held it out, gesturing toward Lucifer's shoulder.
Lucifer turned to look, puffing out his chest, and Castiel started laughing. Lucifer paled and rubbed his finger over the bruises just under his collarbone. "Yeah. Uncle Sammy hurt me."
"No, I didn't. Did I? How?"
"No nice," Byron said, biting into the apple. Castiel just nodded like he was agreeing with his nephew.
"Byron asked me about the hickeys. Nobody else mentioned them before. Guess they're used to it."
"Put your shirt back on!"
"Why would we care about your hickeys? I know what you two get up to," Castiel said. "But on the other hand, one time Michael had a white shirt on and some scratches on his back bled through them."
"Castiel," Hester squeaked, flushing, throwing a wooden spoon at him. Castiel dodged, laughing, but it hit him in the shoulder. "Can we please not talk about this at the dinner table in front of Byron?"
"If you wish," Castiel tilted his head, looking back at Hester. "But you should feel blessed, not ashamed."
"It's not shame. It's embarrassment," she was still red, arms folded in front of her. "It's private, that's all."
"Would you like me to share something private as compensation?"
"We already know the unholy things you do to Dean. Fuck Mickey's scratches, sometimes Dean can't walk," Lucifer said. "Poor guy."
"Lucifer, for the love of God, stop it. We're hungry and you're making me lose my appetite."
"And the rest of your life is sort of an open book," Hester said, shrugging. "We know your past. What could possibly embarrass you now?"
"Sometimes I cry when I think that Mary Winchester will never get to see her grandchildren and because Lucifer and I are both male, I fear the Winchester bloodline will never carry on," Castiel dipped an apple slice into peanut butter so he could avoid looking at any of them. "I'm not against adoption, but I would prefer if we could find a surrogate."
"What's going on?" Sam asked. "What're they saying?"
"Nothing," Lucifer whispered, throwing his shirt over his shoulders and buttoning it up. He walked over, leaning into Castiel's space. "What do you want for dinner?"
"We want Friendly's. Dean wants a patty melt, and I want a citrus grilled chicken sandwich without mayo. You two can order something too or get something somewhere else if you want."
"Sure thing. I'll call it in and we'll be there in like half an hour," Lucifer said. Hester was leaning over the counter to whisper to Castiel. Byron was rubbing his arm like he understood paternity and linage and could sympathize with his uncle. Lucifer wrapped his arm around Castiel's neck, half hugging him from behind. "Love you, Sammy."
"Love you too. See you soon."
When Lucifer pocketed his phone, he looked up and Hester was smiling at him. "You say love you every time you say goodbye?"
"They won't say goodbye," Castiel leaned back, resting his back against his brother. "Because it's never goodbye forever."
"You give me cavities," Hester said. "Too sweet."
"Dean knows you want a surrogate, right, Cas?" Lucifer asked.
"Yes, of course he does. But are you aware what that costs through an agency? Between all the hospital bills and paying the woman it would be somewhere around sixty thousand dollars. We can't afford that. We'll never be able to afford that. It would be one thing if we could find someone without the agency and use artificial insemination instead of in-vitro fertilization, but…" Castiel pushed the rest of the apple slices toward his nephew. "I would like chicken fingers, please."
"This discussion isn't over," The older Novak said, pulling out his phone to order their food.
They left soon after that to go pick it up and take it home. Pretty much the second Castiel started the car, he turned the music on and Lucifer could take the hint. They had enough going on planning a wedding and a child wasn't a sure thing right away. Of course, Lucifer knew that Castiel's bookmarks were filled with adoption sites and surrogate laws, but he wasn't one to judge. Last time he borrowed Sam's computer and the browser crashed and he had to find his page again, Sam's internet history was filled with dog rescue sites.
If Lucifer went out and tried to find a place that would let him make a ring the next day, then that was just a coincidence. Their apartment didn't allow for pets and Sam would be graduating law school in a year, and he was already looking at jobs back toward Kansas. It would be dumb to switch apartments now and break the lease, but they never really talked about what would happen after graduation. But Lucifer had always known what he wanted to do. He wanted to buy a house so Sam could have a dog as much as Castiel wanted to raise a child that had Dean's blood flowing through its veins.
But now the ring felt heavy to carry around. He wasn't planning on popping the question soon – he wasn't that big of an asshole to take away from his brother's wedding with an engagement of his own – but he wanted to do it before classes started again. It gave him about a month, and he had no idea how he was going to go about doing it.
How do you surprise someone after you've been with them for nine years?
It didn't take long until they were at Friendly's. Lucifer paid, he always did. Then the brothers leaned against the carry out counter waiting for their food in silence. He imagined the younger Novak was thinking about a way to find a girl they trusted to agree to carry Dean's baby for nine months. And Lucifer was still trying to figure out how he was going to ask Sam to marry him when his eye caught the ice cream cakes in freezer.
Then he got an idea. An awful idea. Lucifer got a wonderful, awful idea.
"Um, Castiel?" Lucifer moved his arm so his elbow was resting on the counter, his forearm brushing up against his brother's. Most of the Novaks were touchy-feely, and Castiel didn't think anything of it. He didn't really react to his full name, either, except to turn and look at his brother. "Do you remember the first time we came here?"
"Uh…" Castiel looked around.
"We had our first date here eight years ago, do you remember that sweetie?" Lucifer said, just a little bit louder. A handful of the patrons close to them started to look, and a few of the cooks poked their heads out to see the commotion. "It was the day you confessed your attraction to me for the first time, and I was hesitant at first, but it's been eight wonderful years and…"
Castiel gripped his brother's wrist, a furious blush creeping up his neck. Lucifer knew he hated attention being drawn to him in any situation. His eyes were wide, begging Lucifer to stop. He even whispered, "No, not here," but beggars weren't choosers, after all.
"So I wanted to bring you back here to ask you this question," Lucifer dropped to one knee. He could feel Castiel's mortification spilling into his body when he took the hand that had been gripping his wrist. Luckily, he seemed too shocked to actually respond other than to shake his head. It would be worth the ass kicking later. He took out Sam's ring and opened the box. "Will you marry me?"
He could see the no forming on Castiel's tongue, and he looked around. He knew his brother would too. There were a ton of people watching them with various degrees of support. It was still Kansas, after all, but there were certainly more smiles than there would have been when they were teenagers. He saw Castiel looking at their expectant faces – their happy, supportive smiles – and even the handful of assholes who were frowning and muttering about the sanctity of marriage.
Castiel said he would turn him down, and he might have too, if he didn't feel like he had something to prove to the bigots. So Castiel took Sam's ring, but he didn't put it on his finger. Instead, he clenched it in his hand and didn't really answer either way.
If anyone thought it was weird when they hugged instead of kissed after the engagement, they didn't say it. They were mostly just clapping. And Lucifer wouldn't mention the way Castiel was trembling in his arms, nor the sigh of relief that escaped him when the people started returning to their seats.
"Here's your meal. No charge," the waitress grinned up at them.
"We already paid," Castiel was still shaking; Lucifer would almost feel bad if he didn't guess what was coming next.
"Take one of the cakes then. Free of charge. Congratulations."
In the parking lot, Castiel gave the ring back, but no words were spoken on the way back home. It didn't matter that his younger brother was ignoring him, either, because when they walked in with the food, Lucifer was hailed as a sultan.
"Fuck yeah, I love these things," Dean said, grabbing the boxed cake and carrying it to the kitchen. Castiel took it away from him and put it in the freezer so he couldn't try and sneak a slice before dinner. He got his food out of the Styrofoam container and dumped it on a plate. "What's the occasion?"
"Obviously the future wedding," Lucifer said, throwing a wink at his brother.
Castiel just marched into the living room with his plate and his face red. "I want to watch the van Gogh episode of Doctor Who, Dean. Would you please grab it for me?"
Dean looked from Castiel to Lucifer and back to the empty space where Castiel wasn't because he was fuming on the couch with his dinner. He turned to look at Lucifer. "What happened?"
"We just had a really magical moment in the restaurant," Lucifer grinned. "Don't worry about it."
The Volt was quiet, so I didn't hear it pull into the driveway, but I could hear the music blaring from the open windows. From my spot at the kitchen table, I could see the blue car drive up out the bay window. I could see Lucifer gesturing wildly (he would call it dancing) in the passenger seat. Castiel was grinning out of the windshield when he killed the engine. After a few seconds, Dean was stomping toward the driver's side door. I couldn't hear him yelling over the music, but the complaining was really just an excuse to open Castiel's door for him, which he did.
Lucifer had to open his by himself and carry the sheet pizza and dozen wings in his brother and brother-in-law's house by himself. Castiel stepped out of the driver side and let his husband shut the door and was pretty much instantly pressed against the car, caught between the door and Dean's solid body. They were too close to be just talking, but Lucifer burst through the garage door into his face, throwing an easy, carefree grin in my direction before setting the pizza box down on the counter.
"So are you fixing the end of my story?" Lucifer asked, pushing his sunglasses up on top of his head.
"Calm down, John Shooter, it isn't your story," Sam grinned, leaning back against the chair and lifting his arms, stretching the kinks from his back. I pushed Sam's MacBook away from me, trying to shake and rub the cramp from my hand at the same time. It didn't really work. "I think we had a satisfactory ending, all things considered. Let the readers think I'm virtuous and waited until marriage."
"We waited until you were eighteen. Fuck, if we had waited until marriage we would have been married years ago," Lucifer leaned over the table, trying to read my notes. "Not a month ago."
"How was the honeymoon?" I asked.
"Fine," Lucifer turned the MacBook so he could read it easier. He leaned over. The necklace he had gotten as a wedding present was dangling down between the open space. It was silver, a small set of angel wings as the pendant. "Toured the Vatican with beads in my ass. The Pope blessed like ten rosaries for my dad and brothers and sisters and he didn't have a clue. I chatted him up about how we were all named for angels. Don't know what upset him most though: telling him my name or when Sam wrapped his arm around my hips when we were leaving. How's Gabe?"
My mouth opened and closed a few times, like a fish gasping for breath, but Sam just laughed, then saved me. "Don't bait the author, Luce. He can change our happy ending on us."
"No, he can't. I still got the ring, don't I?" He pushed the MacBook back and sat up. "You feed Bones yet?"
"No, I've been here all night. I'll go do it. I should probably take him on a walk too."
"I got it," Lucifer kissed Sam's forehead; nearly knocking into Castiel and Dean as they walked in when he walked out. Castiel was flushed, tucking his pendant back under his shirt after Dean must have pulled it out. "I'm bringing him over."
"Like hell you are," Dean yelled. "He'll chase Inny."
"They're cousins, Dean. They should learn to get along," Sam said.
"They're pets, not people. They're not cousins," Castiel frowned. Dean made a break for the food on the counter as Lucifer left, but Castiel shook his head. "Bela called and asked if they could come over to show us something. I think Byron lost his tooth, finally. He fell three days ago and the tooth's been all wiggly since then. She told me to call Gabriel and get him over here, too. But you can do that, can't you?"
I sighed. "He's two and a half, Cas. He isn't losing baby teeth yet. He probably doesn't even have them all. Gabriel is not going to care anyway." But I pulled out my phone and dialed my roommate nonetheless.
"Then ask him if he wants pizza. Oh, and we saw Jo at the pizzeria," Castiel turned his body to face his husband, but his head was angled down, looking at his chest. He looked embarrassed, and I couldn't help but smile. "She was picking up something for Dad, Ellen, Bobby, and Jody. But I… I asked her if she'd like to have lunch with us."
"So you just happened to run into Jo at the pizzeria or you stalked her there?" Dean teased, lifting a hand to place on Castiel's shoulder. "I think you gotta leave her alone for a bit, Cas."
"Even if I do, she accepted. I hope you don't mind."
"Course I don't mind," Dean rubbed his thumb against his husband's collarbone. "I just don't want her to get pissed at us or anything. And she totally will, you know? She has self-respect."
"She's fine, Dean," Sam said. "She's actually pretty happy with Castiel's attention. She's moving into a new place next month, which I know you know about cause she called you the manual labor when I asked her how she was going to do that. She's going back to school, too."
Castiel opened his mouth to reply, but my roommate answered his phone with a sleepy noise. "Uh, hey, Gabe. It's me."
"I know, bro. Cell phones have these things called contacts and since I've saved your number back when we became roommates freaking years ago, I decided to add your number to my contacts. What do you need?"
"I'm at Cas' and he wants to know if you want pizza," the line went dead. I put my phone down and looked up at my friends. "Yeah, he'll be here in ten."
"Good," Sam said. "We've got some time. So, Cas, why don't you sit down and tell us about seeing Crowley again for the wedding."
A year ago, he would have grimaced. Hell, even a few months ago he would have winced and stalled and act uncomfortable. It all changed four months ago in May when everything was finally all worked out. He would still slip back from time to time, but since the moment Jo started helping them out, nothing about his past had mattered much to Castiel. For once, he was able to look toward his future.
Now, he just sat down and nodded. He shot a small smile at Dean and started.
Castiel wasn't standing at the baggage carousel this time. He was sitting some fifty feet from the carousel with his leg jostling up and down, hands buried in his hair, fingers searching for abnormalities on his scalp. He couldn't find any recent scabs – damn the Thorazine for doing what it was supposed to – but it didn't mean he couldn't latch his nails into his skin and make some wounds. He figured he had a pretty good red spot on his head (he certainly wasn't close to breaking the skin yet) when Dean sat down next to him.
He expected Dean to tug his hands away, but he just placed his hand high on Castiel's thigh. The smaller man flinched, dropping his hands to push Dean's hand a respectable distance toward his knee. It wasn't until their hands were folded together that Castiel realized his future husband had got him to stop without actually forcing him to do anything. He just played on his modesty.
He just could have used more time to come to terms with the fact Crowley would be there. If only he could have sent someone else to get him, but he couldn't exactly ask Lucifer or Balthazar to get Crowley.
He knew because he already asked and they wouldn't go. Crowley was his friend and his responsibility.
When he looked over, Dean was resting against the seat, eyes closed and freckles standing out under the florescent lights. He didn't look nervous. He didn't look angry or threatened, and maybe Castiel had been overreacting with the whole Crowley thing.
"I love you," Castiel murmured, knocking his knee against Dean's.
Dean's eyes slid open, a toothy grin spread out on his face. "Sure am glad to hear that, since we're getting married in less than a week."
"It's because I love you I want to apologize," Castiel turned his attention to their hands. His fingers were pale compared to Dean – he'd spent a lot of the summer doing minor repairs on the Impala in the sun – and the other man's hands were rough. Castiel's fingers were calloused from the guitar, but it was completely different from the way Dean's were. His fiancé's hands were strong, and Castiel gripped him tight to keep from slipping.
"You don't need to. Nothing's gonna happen, Cas. I don't know why you think it would, but you're not giving either one of you much credit."
"What do you mean either one of us?" Castiel frowned.
"Crowley's got somebody, too, you know? Even if you threw yourself at him, who's to say he'd take you back?" Dean grinned. He was baiting Castiel – basically challenging him to seduce his old lover – and Castiel didn't like where this conversation was headed. Dean's dares had got him into trouble in the past. They were too stubborn, too old, to be playing these games anymore.
"You took me back, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but I'm an idiot," Dean grinned. "And I'm not Crowley."
Castiel untangled his hand from Dean's, resting his palm against his fiancé's knee. He dragged his hand up the man's thigh. Dean's breath caught, green eyes finding Castiel's and holding the gaze. "You think? If I dropped to my knees in front of Anthony, he would present himself same as you would now. Same as you would have then, too."
"You think you're that good?" Dean asked, voice dropping. Castiel's palm rested over the Impala's keys in Dean's pocket, thumb rubbing at the side of Dean's thigh.
"I know I am."
"What a welcoming," an accented voice called. Crowley had managed to walk up to them without them noticing – which really wasn't much of a surprise considering – and he set his suitcase down on top of the rolling case. He rubbed his hand, looking down at the couple and smiled.
"Anthony," Castiel breathed, standing. He reached out, hesitating for only a moment before placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. A second later, Crowley gathered Castiel in his arms, grinning as he hugged him.
"And look at you, angel. Getting married. About damn time, if I say so myself," Crowley held him at arm's length, looking him over, patting at his sides and chest. "I'm gonna have to adjust your suit. I made it too big."
Behind him, a blond man was dropping his luggage as well. His hair was longer than the rest of the men – maybe as long as Sam's hair had been in college – and it was layered and fluffy looking. He had on nice pants, a dress shirt, and a blue tie tucked into an argyle sweater vest. He had blue eyes, lighter blue like Lucifer's, and he had glasses. His face was soft, and if the man smiled more often, he would seem approachable and friendly. The way he was seemed more like the owner of a shop who didn't want anyone to buy anything so he hovered and made customers uncomfortable, so they'd leave without taking any of his merchandise from him.
Castiel dropped his hand from Crowley and stuck one out. The man took Castiel's in both of his, offering a tired smile as they shook hands. "It's good to see you again, Phil."
"Always a pleasure, Castiel."
"Phale, you remember Dean?" Crowley said, stepping back and gesturing to the other man.
"Still calling you Phale?" Dean asked, grinning and offering his hand. Phil took it, rolling his eyes in Crowley's general direction.
"He thinks he's cute and clever."
"I am cute and clever," Crowley said, picking up one of his bags and forcing it into Castiel's arms. The younger man didn't seem to mind. "Plus it's your fault my dog doesn't respond to his proper name. At least my partner indulges my crazy fanboy heart."
"Or you went looking for your angel and actually found him," Castiel added, offering a small smile. "The similarities are uncanny."
Phil offered another knowing smile before Dean reached out to take one of his bags. He seemed hesitant at first to accept the help, but eventually handed it over, and they followed the man to his Impala. With the bags in the trunk, the Brits in the back, and Dean and Castiel up front, they set off.
Dean drove them to the hotel to drop off their luggage, but Crowley had insisted on a fitting right away so he could have the next few days until the wedding to get them right. Apparently the last time they were in town, Sam had promised to take Phil for ice cream. Castiel didn't even know the two of them were that close, but then again, pretty much anyone who knew Sam was close to him. He had the stunning ability to make anyone feel like a best friend.
Of course, they had the added benefit of being total bookworms.
Actually, Phil was a pretty awesome guy, too. As long as you didn't try to take his books.
As soon as Dean opened the door to his house, the four of them were assaulted with music. Lucifer was sitting with his legs crossed on the floor. He'd shut the air conditioner off so it was pushing eighty even though it was seven at night. He had borrowed one of Michael's classroom's violins, a mandolin, and a cello. The mandolin was sitting in front of him, the cello resting against table, the violin was cradled to his stomach like a guitar, and he was picking notes and strumming chords like it was a guitar.
His eyes were closed, but he definitely heard them come in. He didn't care, he kept singing anyway: "Come down off the cross, we could use the wood. Come on up to the house."
When he started singing the chorus – and Sam was singing along, loudly, from the kitchen – he moved the violin to his shoulder and started using the bow again. "The world is not my home; I'm just passing through. Come on up to the house." His torso swayed with the violin solo, fingers dancing over the string. He leaned into notes, facial features mirroring the sound coming from the instrument. When the note sounded bluesy and rough – but deliberately so – his eyebrows furrowed, during long pulls with trills his eyebrows relaxed, and when his fingers flew over the strings in a quick semi-scale his eyebrows rose like he was trying to open his eyes as wide as he could to see everything at once.
The solo ended when Sam started singing the second verse from the kitchen, and Lucifer put down the violin. He picked up the mandolin, then grinned up at them. "They're here, Sam."
"Oh," Sam called from the kitchen. The water shut off and he came walking out, wiping his hands on a dish towel. Castiel could only imagine what the pair of them were like at their apartment. When Lucifer started playing, he could get manic with it – going for hours and hours without breaks to eat or rest – and Castiel wondered if Sam would do housework around him or if he would nag him and try to get him to eat. When he turned the corner, Sam let out a huge grin, letting his long legs carry him faster toward the door. "Phil, it's awesome to see you again."
Phil smiled, clasping both of his hands around Sam's, and nodding his head just slightly. The pair of them started in instantly, talking about some obscure manuscript from the Middle Ages, and Lucifer was back to plucking away at his mandolin. Dean asked, "Want anything to drink, Crowley?"
"You're offering me a drink?" Crowley asked, setting his suitcase down on the couch. He opened it carefully, pulling out an expensive looking suit, looking over the creases it had because of the folds. "I can get something for myself. You don't have to wait on me."
"I would like some tea, please, Dean," Castiel said, toeing off his shoes at the door. Dean grinned and walked to the kitchen, rolling his eyes. Castiel heard the water running, and when he looked out, he could see that the older Winchester had put the kettle on, then paused at the table to pet Inias. Unless he was very much mistaken, Dean was hunched over, murmuring to the cat, and Castiel couldn't help the smile that bloomed on his face.
"Here, angel," Crowley was pushing clothes at him, and Castiel had to turn around and take them. "You put these on while I dig Dean's out."
"Did you bring my dress?" Lucifer asked from the floor, looking up to grin at the pair of them.
Crowley smirked, pulling another suit jacket and pair of pants from his case before pulling out a blue halter top dress and tossing it to the blond. Lucifer stood, pushing the mandolin into Castiel's already full hands before holding the dress up to himself. It was the same one that Castiel's bridesmaids would be wearing.
"Lucifer, no," Castiel frowned; the panic was already seeping into his voice.
"Dude, I'm your Man of Honor. I need to look fabulous," Lucifer looked up, grinning at Castiel before throwing a wink at Sam. "You don't mind walking down the aisle with me in a dress, do you, Sammy?"
"You're wearing a tux," Castiel said. "I thought… You already have your tux."
"Yeah, and you didn't know Crowley made your suits until yesterday, so I wouldn't trust what you think you know."
Crowley took the mandolin off the pile of clothing in Castiel's arms and gave him a serious look. He patted the small of his friend's back and nodded toward the stairs. "Go and get dressed, angel."
With one more pleading look at Lucifer, Castiel marched up the stairs and started changing into the clothes he would be wearing at his wedding. It took him longer than he would have expected, and he was sweating by the end of it. When he pulled his vest on over his shirt, he heard the air conditioning kick back on. Once he was suited up, he couldn't help but catch his reflection in the mirror.
He wasn't the drug addicted teenager he had been in high school. He had just started his PhD program. He was getting married. Nothing could stop that from happening. Nothing would throw off his plans. But either way, he tried to tame down his hair before he walked back downstairs.
It was silent, and that was the first hint that something was wrong. The mandolin was abandoned on the coffee table, and nobody was in sight. After a second, Crowley walked out of the kitchen with a cup of tea in his hands, and Castiel breathed in.
They had left.
They had left him alone with Crowley.
"I made you a cup too," Crowley said, nodding toward the kitchen. "But you aren't touching it until the suit's off."
"I have to eat in it at the wedding," Castiel said, ignoring his friend when he sat down the cup on a stand and reached out to him. Crowley undid the suit jacket with swift fingers, and Castiel shut his eyes.
"It is my understanding that the groom never eats at the wedding. A bite of cake, maybe. A glass of wine," Crowley started in on the vest, then he popped the collar of the shirt, untying the tie. "Christ, angel. I should have remembered you don't know how to dress yourself. Other than that, does everything seem to fit? Nothing's too tight, right?"
Castiel's heart was pounding by the time Crowley retied the tie, adjusting the shirt underneath before he buttoned the vest back up, tugging the hem of it lower so it was straight. The sleeves were a bit long, but everything else seemed to fit. The tailor was murmuring to himself about how the jacket could have been a bit tighter. His fingers poked and prodded, bunched the material up and asked questions. He wrote things down in a small notebook, and he politely ignored Castiel's wide eyes and soft breaths.
Because Dean was right. Crowley had Phil, and Crowley loved Phil as much as Castiel loved Dean. Crowley wouldn't start anything, even with Castiel's body moving to his every touch and suggestion. But it didn't make it any better. It might have been nine years, but Castiel had only ever been with two men. He could remember how much he had cared for his dealer when they were strung out on his bed. He could remember how much he used him and hit him and cursed at him when times were bad.
"Are your pants too tight?" Crowley asked, looping his finger through a belt loop and pulling it out. Castiel swayed with the pull, then shook his head.
"Are they too long?" Castiel asked, lifting a knee. They were. He knew they were, but Crowley just looked up at his friend and smiled.
"Look at you wanting me on my knees," Crowley said, grinning as he lowered himself to the floor, tugging Castiel's pants so they weren't riding up. He measured how much he'd have to hem them before sitting back on his heels, looking up at his friend. Castiel was blushing, he knew he was and knew he couldn't fight it, but Crowley just laughed. "You can change back into your pauper clothes."
Castiel held down his hand to help his friend to his feet. Crowley took it, and Castiel pulled him up. "You're wearing jeans and a hoodie."
"I make a ton of money," Crowley grinned. "I can wear what I want."
Their hands were still palm to palm, and the British man bit his lip, adjusting their fingers so they were threaded together. Castiel reached up with his free hand, pushing his hand through the short spikes of his friend's hair. Crowley smiled, closed his eyes, and pressed into the hand. "You look happy, Anthony."
"I am, love," Crowley opened his eyes, free hand cupping around Castiel's elbow, thumb pressing against the vein where Castiel used to shoot himself full of heroin. "Never thought I'd be happy being a tailor. Fuck, I never thought I'd ever really get off the drugs. I kept going back to them, you know, long after you quit. Been four years now."
"I remember," Castiel smiled. "You quit when Phil agreed to go out with you."
"Nah, angel, you got it backwards. He agreed to go out with me if I quit. We got lucky, you and me. And I didn't know that until recently. We'da killed each other. Maybe we'd have overdosed in the dead of night, if we're lucky. We could've run out of drugs and beaten each other to death. The house could've burned down around us and we'd have just laid there," Crowley held Castiel out at arm's length, looking him over in his suit. He smiled. "But look at us now. Dean Winchester invited me to your wedding, and I'm not just stealing someone else's angel… I've got my own now. I never thought we'd get here. I never thought I'd be happy like this."
"You deserve every happiness."
"And you do too, Castiel. And I don't think you think that you do," Crowley let go, and Castiel did too. They stood in front of each other, but still too close. "You're marrying fucking Dean Winchester, angel. You're gonna raise little Winchesters in this house. You two'll see your kids get married, see your grandkids get married, and I would bet money on the pair of you'll die together of old age in your sleep like Noah and that girl from the Notebook. You don't have time to regret the past, Castiel, or you'll miss your future."
"Thank you," Castiel whispered, tugging his hand and wrapping his arms around his friend. They held each other for a long moment, Crowley smoothing circles on the taller man's back, before he finally backed again and grinned.
"Go on, then. Get changed. I got you a little gift. Not for the wedding or anything… just a small thing."
Castiel raised his eyebrow before turning away from him. Crowley had given him small things over the years. Usually those things were expensive jackets and sweaters. Expensive watches, sunglasses, and instruments. Crowley's definition of something small was not the same as Castiel's definition.
"Oi," Crowley called up the stairs, after him. "I really mean it this time. It was free."
Dean was tuning them out. It was pretty much impossible to understand Sam when he was in full-out nerd mode, and Dean only understood half the shit Phil was ever saying. He was formally a librarian, but Dean wouldn't be surprised if the dude had a PhD in biblical history because damn did that dude love old copies of the Bible. He could read Hebrew and Greek and sometimes the way he spoke about it made it seem like he was really there with the angels defending Eden to make sure Adam and Eve didn't sneak back in.
And Sam was just a nerd with his big, excited puppy dog eyes and his enthusiastic nodding.
The topic would usually interest Lucifer, but there were only a handful of things he loved more than vanilla ice cream. And one of those things was vanilla ice cream with bits of crushed up Oreos. So Dean just looked out the window, licking at his ice cream cone.
He saw Castiel running up with a picture frame in his hands. Crowley was chasing after him, laughing. Dean pointed out of the window. "Ten bucks says Castiel misinterpreted the fitting for a grope and he's running up to apologize."
"I'll take that bet," Sam said, turning to face the window.
"Twenty bucks says Castiel breaks up with you because Crowley got him the best present ever, just like he gets every time his BFF comes across the pond for a visit," Lucifer said, shooting a grin at Dean before turning to Phil.
The British man grinned. "I wouldn't take that bet. It isn't safe."
"So you know what it is?" Lucifer asked.
"Of course I know," Phil scooped some of his ice cream out of the bowl. "Ant sucks at keeping secrets."
"So it is a gift?" Dean asked, digging out his wallet. "Fuck."
The bell rang when Castiel pushed open the front door. There was a split second where the dark haired man looked around for his family before he hurried toward them, pushing Dean further into the booth (squishing him up against Lucifer), before sitting down, holding the picture frame to his chest. Dean looked over his shoulder when the bell rang again. Crowley met his look, rolled his eyes, and went to the counter to order some ice cream.
Dean handed Sam the ten bucks, "So what'd he get you?" Castiel laid the picture frame flat on the table, and Dean ran his hand through his hair. "Aw, fuck no."
It was a photograph of Benedict Cumberbatch with long, dark, curly hair, sitting in a couch with his hands steepled under his chin like Sherlock. It was signed, of course, but it was signed to The Angel Castiel and just before he signed his name, Benedict had written I'm on your side.
"Fuck," Dean said again.
Lucifer sneered, dropped his voice and added an accent, "How ordinary."
Sam laughed at Lucifer, and Crowley pushed in next to Phil and slid a bowl of ice cream across the table toward Castiel. The dark haired man put the picture frame to his chest to protect it and leaned over the table to eat his ice cream. Dean was still shaking his head. With the exception of the whole sleeping with his boyfriend for money, this was the second worst thing Crowley had ever done to him.
And he would never forgive him for this.
When Lucifer took off after Sam on their morning jog, he really thought they were going for a random run. Sam took off toward the school – their usual path – but once he let Lucifer in front of him to pick the turns, Lucifer realized that he had a destination in mind. When he slowed to a walk in front of the old church behind the school where he had lived for several months his senior year, Sam stopped behind him, even though both of them could run 5K without stopping.
The younger man reached behind his shoulder blades to peel his shirt off his torso, using the material to wipe at the sweat at his forehead. Lucifer put his hands on his hips, chest heaving with breaths, looking up at the building. After nine years it was the same – the same symbols painted over the building, the same words from Dante's Inferno written over the door – and Lucifer wasn't sure if his chest was beating so quickly because of the running or because it was the first time he had looked at the building since he graduated high school.
"Think it still has running water?" Sam asked. "I could use a drink if you want to go in."
"The past should stay in the past," Lucifer said, but he walked forward anyway, kneeling before the rosebush in front of the church. In July, roses had already passed their bloom period, but even without Lucifer's careful attention, two flowers still bloomed. He reached a hand out, using the pad of his finger to separate the petals, examining the blossom. When Sam walked up to him, his frame casted Lucifer in shadows, and the blond man looked up. The sun was blocked by his huge boyfriend, but the rays behind him spread out, obstructing the background from view like a painting. "I doubt there is running water, but there is a drinking fountain behind the school. I… Could you bring me back a cup?"
"Yeah," Sam said, already making his way into the Church. He was out again in seconds, a glass in his hands. He left his shirt on the ground next to Lucifer and ran off in the direction of the water fountain. Once he was out of sight, Lucifer ripped the two remaining roses at the stems, picked up Sam's shirt and walked inside the Church.
In the big, main room that had been where his television was set up and the kids had trained to fight, Lucifer was blown away by how clean everything looked. Nothing looked like it was covered in nine years of dust. Everything was gone from the living room; all of his stuff had been moved into the Novak house while he was still in Grace.
He checked all the drawers in the kitchen. There were forks and spoons but no knives – Castiel had gotten rid of them while Lucifer was still living there – and there were bottles of aspirin and band-aids but no left over prescription bottles. They'd probably been cleaned out while he was in Grace, too.
He walked into the other room, the one with the bathroom he had cut himself in, and just like everything else, there was no trace of any trauma happening here. The floors, the sink, everything was spotless. A forensic specialist wouldn't be able to lift any of his DNA from this scene.
But the sanctuary was a little bit different.
That attempt at killing himself around Thanksgiving had been cleaned by his brother using cloth and water, not bleach and mops and elbow grease. There were just small spots where it had soaked into the pores in the concrete, spotting and streaking along Castiel's rushed clean job. There was a faint outline of the angel banishment symbol Lucifer had created still resting on the altar.
He wondered, not for the first time, if his delusions were shared with Castiel because they were related or because Castiel had seen the symbol and it stuck and warped in his own mind. If Lucifer hadn't drawn it that night, would Castiel have it scarred onto his chest?
He dropped the hand that didn't have the two roses on top of the altar, looking up at the crucifix hanging on the wall. The Jesus hanging there was full of pain and anguished, immortalized up there, dying for humanity. The angel he was named for had refused to bow down and love humanity, and this man – this other son of God – had loved his Father and trusted him so much that he allowed himself to die, having faith that he would be able to return home after all the pain and suffering was over.
Lucifer could feel it now, just like he couldn't feel it then, crackling through him like electricity. He could feel so alive some days, like his weak body couldn't contain the power that surged within him. It was like lightening flashing outside, thunder rolling overhead, and Lucifer raised his chin, letting his eyes slide close.
"The warmth of your warm embrace melts my frostbitten spirit," Lucifer quoted the song aloud, but he didn't sing the words. "You speak the truth and I hear it. The words are 'I love you,' and I have to believe in you."
The blond man stood there for a moment longer before walking back to the sanctuary door. Before he left, he rested his hand on the doorframe, bowing his head. "Thank you for him," he whispered, feeling his chest ache with his words.
It wasn't much later that Sam found Lucifer in the place that used to be his bedroom, leaning against the wall, looking down at the cheap mattress with a strange mix of fondness and disgust. The roses were still held loosely in his left hand, his wrist turned out, exposing the star tattoo. When Sam came in, the man didn't look at his boyfriend, so Sam walked through his vision to sit the glass of water on the stand next to the bed.
When he turned back to look at Lucifer, he grinned.
Once, Lucifer had splashed paint over the wall he was leaning against. His handprints and the drops of paint had run down to look like feathers. The wings spread out wide over the wall, and with Lucifer leaning against the center, they looked like they were shadows of wings jutting from his back. Sam's smile twisted into a grin, and Lucifer turned his head to look at the man. He reached out his hand, holding the two roses out to him. Sam took them and put them in the glass of water.
"You look pretty badass, you know?"
Lucifer grinned, and Sam felt goose bumps rise over his arms. The blond man looked badass, without a doubt, but he also looked pretty terrifying with the grin. "I know. I forgot that I even painted this. I waited to look at the catacombs for you. I wanted to share it with you because…"
"We had our first kiss there," Sam said, nodding. He reached out his hand and Lucifer took it. When Sam pulled Lucifer away, the paint stood on the wall, and Lucifer was not the terrifying angel anymore. "I kissed you after I won that last fight."
Lucifer flipped the light switch and the light bulb over the devil's trap snapped to life. "Huh, I guess someone is still keeping this place attached to the grid," the man said. The pair of them walked to the center of the ring.
Sam could remember getting punched here – being beaten to the ground – but never losing. He remembered fighting, and not because he wanted to be the boy king, the next in line to control Lucifer's gang. He was fighting to prove himself to Lucifer. If he happened to inherit the club and turn it into a Youth Center after Lucifer left to go to college, then so be it.
But Lucifer could remember watching Sam fight here. Every punch the boy took was a punch to Lucifer too. Because they were connected. They were two halves made whole. Lucifer felt the ring box in his pocket and wanted to drop to his knee right here. This was where they shared their first kiss, but it didn't begin here… not really.
Lucifer took his hand out of his pocket.
It wasn't until he looked back up that he heard Sam was humming. The taller man was turning back to him, a smile on his face, and Lucifer's frowned, reaching an arm out to grip his boyfriend's bicep. "What song is that?" He asked, but he knew. And his heart was beating in his chest.
"Red Sam by Flyleaf," Sam said, shrugging. "I don't know. I was walking back over here and all of the sudden it just popped into my head. It's weird. I haven't heard that song in years, but…"
Lucifer removed his hand from the bigger boy's bicep and instead let it slide behind Sam's neck. The blond man tugged him down, and stood on his toes, crashing his mouth against his boyfriend's.
Castiel was sitting on the front porch swing when Sam and Lucifer returned from their morning jog. His knees were bent and his legs were folded under him, swinging too high on the poor thing like the oscillation brought him some sort of comfort.
Lucifer sat down on the steps, but Sam sat on the banister in front of Castiel, letting one of his impossibly long legs rest along the railing so he could stretch it. Castiel slowed down so he wouldn't hit his friend and took his earbuds out of his ears.
"Where's Dean?" Sam asked.
"Lunch date with his best friend," Castiel replied.
"No, he hasn't gotten in yet."
"No, his other one."
Sam smiled, and they didn't keep on guessing. Lucifer laid back against the wood of the porch, arm draped over his face like he was dying. It was an exceptionally hot day already, but Lucifer was never one to get overheated. His chest was heaving with deep breaths, and Castiel watched him calm down.
Sam nodded his head across the street. "They're selling that house? Don't tell me Fred Jones died."
Castiel shook his head. "He can't take care of himself anymore. Barely talks. People have been coming in to help him but now that he's in the wheelchair, he can't really get around much anymore. They moved him into Sunset Fields Retirement Home. Dean brought him a pie, but he doesn't really recognize anyone much anymore."
"How long ago did that happen? Nobody's bid on it, yet?" Sam asked. Lucifer moved his hand away from his eyes. His boyfriend had his back to him, but Castiel shot his brother a look when he sat up, looking over at the house.
"I'm not a real estate agent," Castiel said. "But I haven't seen anyone look at it."
"I loved that house when I was a kid. Mr. Jones had these rosebushes out front and early in the summer, he'd let me help him tend to it. They were totally beautiful in front of the house, too. It was stunning. People used to come from all over the street to take pictures of them. After we worked, he'd make some lemonade and we'd watch cartoons in the air conditioning."
"He still loves those cartoons," Castiel said. "He is a nice man."
"Hey, you wanna go peek in the windows, Cas?" Sam asked, pushing his legs over to the far side of the banister. He pushed himself off, landing easily in the grass. The dude was so tall his feet probably practically touched anyway. "Damn, I haven't been in there since I was in high school, but it was a beautiful house…"
Castiel's dismount from the swing was also practiced. He walked down the steps and past his brother, who had his cell phone out and in his hands. "Are you coming, Lucifer?"
"Nah," he said. "I've got to take a shower."
Sam accepted that answer – he was already halfway across the street – but Castiel turned to look at his brother once more. Lucifer was standing up, his back to the others, and as he opened the front door, Castiel heard him say, "Hello, yes. Actually, I think I'm interested in one of your houses…"
Gabriel was sitting in the usual spot at the diner. His back was resting against the window, legs stretched over the rest of the booth. His head was tilted up, arm covering his eyes; the fingers of his other hand were tapping out a beat.
Gabriel moved his arm and opened his eyes. Dean was grinning at him, scooting himself into the other side of the booth. Gabriel watched as his friend opened the napkin that was wrapped around his silverware. With the fork and knife resting on the placemat, Dean tucked the napkin into the collar of his shirt. God forbid he got syrup on his Zeppelin tee.
"Drinking with the roomie," Gabriel said. His eyes felt like they were watering. His hangover felt more like a sinus headache or a stuffy nose. The pressure of it was making his eyes water. "Dude can drink me way under the table."
"Where was Kali?" Dean asked, grabbing the menu, even though he knew what he was getting.
"I dunno. Out living her life. I don't control her," Gabriel took a sip of his water. "I think she was with Bela and Rafi and Jo."
"So, did you get him drunk enough for him to sleep with you this time?"
"Am I here with your sorry ass?" Gabriel smiled. "Trust me, if I bedded him, I'd have called Kali then canceled our date to have the threesome that has literally kept me awake at night since high school."
"Aw," Dean said, setting the menu aside. "I thought these Tuesday pancake breakfasts meant something to you."
"You know they do, Dean-o, but they mean so much more to me in the summer when I don't have to be at a damn diner at six am to get breakfast before work."
By that time, the waitress had asked for their order, but they ordered the same thing every week and she pretty much knew what it would be. Gabriel would get chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream, and Dean would get apple pancakes with maple syrup. They spent the time waiting for their food practically screaming about the douchebag modder they'd got stuck playing against on Live a few days ago.
Once their pancakes got there, they ate in silence for a few minutes. Gabriel could put away twice the pancakes Dean could, despite their size difference. He could do it twice as fast, too. Soon enough, Gabriel started talking around mouthfuls of food. "Everything all set for the wedding?"
Dean had the decency to chew and swallow first. "I fucking hope so, cause if something falls through now, Cas'll kill me."
"Speaking of brother dearest," Gabriel licked some whipped cream from his fork. "How is he enjoying Anthony?"
"Christ, Gabe. Let me just straight up apologize to you because watching the two of them dance around each other is probably only half as painful as it was watching me and him dance around each other," Dean grinned. "And you had to do that the two years we weren't dating."
Gabriel made an exaggerated groan, "Damn right you two were annoying. You know we had bets going? All sorts of them. Who was going to just get frustrated and jump the other first? Who had the worst case of blue balls? And neither of you helped each other. If Castiel wasn't over at your house, you were watching him and Sam play soccer or pretending to hang out with me…"
"Oh, go fuck yourself. I totally hung out with you."
"Yeah, you hung out with me in the living room and played video games until Cassie would get home. Then you'd basically be humping the bathroom door when he showered or following him around, offering to help him cook dinner," Gabriel smirked. "I was your replacement Novak. I was always your replacement Novak."
"Bullshit," Dean said. "I have always treated you the same way I would treat my own little brother."
"Hey," Gabriel shoved in the last bite of pancake into his mouth, looking up at his friend with a thoughtful expression. "You know what. On Saturday, we really will be brothers."
Dean knew that. Of course he'd known that. Castiel referred to all of his siblings' significant others as his sisters and brothers, even if they weren't married yet. Dean was close to a lot of Castiel's brothers – they treated him like family, and he treated them the same – but none of them had ever said it out loud before. Gabriel looked younger saying it. His eyebrows had jumped up his forehead, leaving an open, childish look on the man's face, like he was afraid of what Dean could say to that.
But Dean just smiled and looked down at his pancakes. "Yeah. I guess we really will be."
It was Wednesday night, and Kevin could hear the screaming already when he walked up on the porch. He spared a look at Channing, but she looked just as nervous as he felt. She wiped her hands on her pants and offered him a shaky smile. "What do you think it'll be like?" She asked.
"I don't know," Kevin said. "Teachers are regular people, you know? So probably normal. Mr. Winchester said he lived here when he was a kid, so it can't be too crazy, right? If he let his brother live here?"
Channing shrugged, and then nodded toward the door. Kevin knew he should knock. It was an unassuming door – an unassuming house in an unassuming neighborhood – and he knew Mr. Winchester. He had been in his class last year and next year he was taking the course Mr. Winchester taught for college credit. He even knew Mr. Novak because he was always helping on the trips Mr. Winchester took, and he often came to their bi-monthly LARPing sessions.
Kevin wouldn't have even known they were together if Mr. Winchester didn't have a picture of the both of them sitting on his desk. Channing said she knew the first time she saw them together. She said Mr. Winchester lit up when his fiancé walked into the room. And once she pointed it out, Kevin could totally see it.
They were totally a loving, normal couple. But Mr. Winchester was still his teacher and knocking on his door still seemed weird, even if he was expected.
It was Channing who ended up knocking, and all of ten seconds later, Mr. Novak opened the door with a one-year-old blond boy in his arms. Behind him, there was a six-year-old boy with brown hair running away from a five-year-old blonde girl. Mr. Winchester had an angry looking four-year-old girl in his arms, and Kevin took a huge breath in.
He could do this. He could totally watch four kids for a couple of hours.
And never mind that his teacher and his partner were apparently having a contest to see who could wear the tightest shirt without ripping it apart by making small movements. Kevin was just going to try his hardest not to think about the men having an actual life.
"Good evening, Kevin. Channing," Mr. Novak said, stepping inside and holding the door open. Kevin and Channing stepped over the threshold, and Mr. Winchester grinned at them. "Thank you for offering to watch the children tonight."
"It's no problem, Mr. Novak," Channing said, leaning forward to coo at the kid in the man's arms. The blond boy smiled and buried his head in Mr. Novak's chest. It looked less like he was shy and more like he was flirting, but Kevin might have been reading into it a bit. "What's his name?"
"Byron," Mr. Novak bounced the boy, and when he turned to face Channing, Byron opened his arms and let the girl take him. Channing made all sorts of gooey female noises at the child. "We will be at his father's house tonight. Balthazar, my brother. His number is on the refrigerator if you need to reach any of the parents, they will all be at the Bachelor party."
"You're having your party together?" Channing asked. "Isn't that supposed to be your last hurrah or something?"
Dean walked up to them, passing the girl to Kevin. Neither of them seemed very happy about Kevin holding her. She started wiggling instantly, but Kevin held her, afraid to let her down if Mr. Winchester wanted her up. "Our brothers are morons."
"They haven't told us anything, but they aren't exactly the best secret keepers," Mr. Novak added.
"Plus, Sammy left his computer open. They're trying to recreate when we first got together," Mr. Winchester shrugged, but he was smiling. And Kevin could tell that he was secretly pleased.
"You were high school sweethearts?" Channing pressed, possibly looking at their teacher and his fiancé with more simple adoration than she had at the children. "That's so adorable."
Mr. Winchester smirked, looking over at Mr. Novak. The dark haired man looked down, but the teacher looked pleased. "Sweethearts is a good word for it."
"Anyway," Mr. Novak said, trying to wave away the discussion before they could talk more about it. "You're holding Casey, Kevin. She is our friends' daughter. The other boy," Castiel pointed to the kids running around the living room, "is my brother Zach's kid. His name is Samandriel but he'll likely answer to Alfie. Don't ask. The blonde girl is my younger sister, Claire."
"Your sister?" Kevin asked, but then bit his tongue, realizing it was impolite.
"Yes. My mother died when I was in high school. My father remarried after my youngest brother graduated. My father always loved children."
"Just not when they grow up, right, Cas?" Mr. Winchester said, smirking yet again. Mr. Novak ignored him.
"John and Ellen should be here around eleven."
"Here's the money," Mr. Winchester said, shoving a handful of folded bills toward his student. "Order pizza or whatever if you want. The kids already ate, but there's, like, apples and stuff if they get hungry. Do me a favor. Don't go into our bedroom. Just straight up trust me on that. And if we somehow manage to wander home and we're drunk, I'll give you an extra twenty bucks if you call Sammy and never mention it to anyone else. I wrote his number next to everyone else's on the fridge."
Kevin knew he was red – his neck felt way too hot to be from the July air – and Channing was blushing furiously. Just like he never really thought about their home (which was totally perfectly ordinary), he had never really thought about his teacher drinking. Which was really stupid, obviously, because he was old enough to drink and going to his own bachelor party. In the end he just nodded. Mr. Winchester grinned, clapped a hand against Kevin's shoulder and said, "Good man. LARP's postponed next week on account of the wedding, but see you in August?"
"Uh, yes, Mr. Winchester. See you in August."
"Does that mean you'll be Mr. Winchester, too, next time we see you, Mr. Novak?" Channing asked, a smile forming on her face again.
The dark haired man nodded and looked at his fiancé. "Yes, I will be."
"Congratulations, then," she said. And they responded with their thanks.
There was a car horn blaring outside, and Mr. Novak leaned forward to look out of the window. "Balthazar sent a limo."
"Your brother does have flair for the dramatic," Mr. Winchester said, shrugging, but Kevin saw that the man was grinning. Kevin only saw his teacher get this excited two other times: when they started reading Cat's Cradle and when Mr. Novak stopped in to give a lecture in the other Mr. Novak (the band teacher's) class and had gone to the English classroom after to eat lunch with Mr. Winchester. Kevin couldn't help but smile, hoping his teacher had a good time at the party.
After they had said goodbye to the children – Claire and Samandriel ending theirs with "I love you. God bless," Byron clung to Mr. Winchester and wouldn't let go, and Casey finally worked her way out of Kevin's arms to play with the two older kids – the adults left, leaving Kevin and Channing playing house with four children under the age of six. For a split second, Kevin thought everything would go alright. The older kids were playing quietly, and Byron was clinging to Channing's leg, tears in his eyes, whimpering Mr. Winchester's name over and over.
But then Claire jumped on Casey and yelled, "The power of Christ compels you!" The younger girl writhed on the floor, trying to kick the blond girl off of her, but Samandriel kneeled above her head and held her arms down while Claire made a cross over her chest.
Channing's mouth was dropped open in a silent scream, and Kevin ran over, trying to pull Claire and Samandriel off of Casey. Once the younger girl was free, she sat up, throwing Kevin a glare like he was ruining their game. "What are you guys playing?" Kevin asked, trying for casual, but sounding about as freaked out as someone who just witnessed a five year old giving an exorcism to a slightly younger girl.
"She is a demon," Claire explained. "And Alfie's an angel."
"What does that make you?" Channing asked, picking up Byron with shaky hands.
"Obviously I'm the hunter."
"Oh, dear God," Channing whispered. And that really set the tone for the rest of the night.
The limo had two boxes in the back, one labeled Dean and the other Cas. The men opened their gifts – because who would honestly wait when they had nobody telling them not to – and pulled out an assortment of things. Dean had a black Sharpie, a card in an envelope, and a printed piece of paper folded up. Castiel also had a card and a piece of paper, but his third object was a baggie of an assortment of pills. He held them in his arms, separating them, trying to identify what they were.
Four Ibuprofen, two One-a-Day Men's multivitamins, and his Thorazine. Castiel rolled his eyes and opened his card.
Nine years ago, you managed to seduce Dean Winchester (go you! I'd have bet money he was straight!) and he invited you to the Senior Sign-In. I have it on good authority (Sam said you weren't very quiet when you came in making out that night) that this was the night you and Dean officially pushed past maybe-we're-bros into I-want-your-tongue-in-my-mouth, so we trace this back to your official start as a couple. And since it was a pretty good party (with the exception of my arm getting broken) we figured we would re-live the start of your relationship with you. So here are some pills – go crazy, I got them from your medicine cabinet – and try and remember what you did that day and do it all over again. If you forgot what happened, Sam and I (and everyone else) put together a schedule. So you should probably start by letting Dean sign you (and go ahead and sign him, too! All the couples are dual-signed this time.) then walking from our old house to Crowley's Mansion.
Enjoy Cas. See you there,
Castiel turned to Dean, who was grinning at his card, and said, "He gave me drugs."
"Yeah, freaking vitamins," Dean smiled, opening the schedule and scanning it. "As memory serves, this actually sort of accurate."
"I don't remember a lot of it the first time around," Castiel admitted.
"Don't worry. I got you," Dean pocketed the schedule and ripped the cap off the Sharpie. "You remember where I signed you that night?"
Castiel smiled, holding up his right arm, pantomiming a wave. Dean held his wrist still, writing the four letters in his name down Castiel's arm. Just like it had the first night, the tag went halfway to Castiel's elbow. When he was done, Dean passed the sharpie to his partner and held up his arm so their names would be matching.
The dark haired man grinned and shook his head. "Take your shirt off."
"C'mon, Cas. I don't want to walk around with my shirt off all night. I won't be able to control the girlies when they jump me, and I hate being objectified."
"No, you don't," Castiel said, pushing Dean's left t-shirt sleeve up his arm until it bunched under his armpit and over his shoulder. Dean held it there when Castiel put his right hand over Dean's left shoulder. He traced the palm print, adding his name at the bottom with small, sure letters. He leaned back to observe his work and capped the marker, putting it back in the box. Dean was trying to look at it, but he couldn't really see without a mirror. In the end, he pulled his sleeve back down. The bottom of Castiel's palm and his name were the only things visible from under the shirt.
Castiel could tell that Dean was thinking about asking, but he didn't. Instead, he offered a smile and said, "Thanks, Cas."
Castiel just nodded and smiled.
Sam burst in the front door of the Winchester's house about two minutes after Dean and Castiel left – he knew, he'd been waiting out back for them to leave – and Kevin looked overwhelmed already. Samandriel, Claire, and Casey were playing that exorcist game they liked and both of the teenagers were watching from the couch, looking vaguely horrified.
Kevin turned to look at Sam when he walked in, and Sam held up the key to let the boy know how he got in.
"Is this normal for them?"
"Oh yeah. I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy and Zach were teaching their kids how to exorcise demons. They're crazy religious," He walked over to the kids, tapping Samandriel's shoulder. "Hey, can't you guys play something else?"
"Hey, Uncle Sammy," Samandriel grinned, abandoning the game to hold his arms up to the taller man. Sam grinned and picked the boy up.
"Hi, little Sammy," Sam smoothed the boy's hair back. Sam was one of the only ones to still call him by his name – or a variation thereof – (the only other two being Zachariah and Castiel) after Lucifer decided that the boy's first name was bigger than he was. His middle name was Alfred, so Alfie it was until he got big enough to actually pronounce his own first name. He could say it now, but it nickname died hard. Plus, he liked it. It wasn't doing any harm to anyone but Zachariah. "Claire, you hear me? No demons tonight, okay? Maybe Kevin and Channing will watch Brave with you. You wanna watch Brave?"
"Where's Lucifer?" Casey asked, knocking Claire off of her as she sat up. Claire abandoned the mission and walked to the teenagers on the couch, debating between whose lap she was going to sit on. Eventually she climbed onto Kevin and reached over to hold Byron's hand. She looked up at Channing to tell her that the younger boy was her nephew, and Channing – bless her heart – acted like it was a surprise to hear.
Sam sat Samandriel down next to Kevin on the couch, then grabbed for Casey. "He'll be coming to get me in a minute, but you'll have to wave to him from the window, okay? I'll tell him you're watching."
"I love him," Casey insisted, and Sam just shook his head with a smile on his face. Sam kind of wondered if they had a shrine to Lucifer in their house, but quickly dismissed the thought because he seriously, seriously did not want to know.
Then there was a beep out front, and Casey dodged Sam to run to the window. Sam followed her. It wasn't the 1926 Bentley – she was over in London right now – but it was Crowley's rental car. With no Bentleys or Jaguars on the market to choose from, he picked the only British car they had. It was kind of hilarious, seeing Lucifer waiting inside a Mini Cooper, but beggars couldn't be choosers.
"Alright, kids, you listen to Kevin and Channing, okay? I'm going to ask them tomorrow if you were good and if you were, I'll take you out for ice cream, but you have to do everything they say, alright?"
"Good night, Sammy!" Samandriel called, and Claire and Byron waved from the couch.
Casey clung to Sam's leg. "Tell Lucifer to wave."
"I will, baby girl, don't you worry about it," Sam said, and with a final round of goodbyes, he left the house. He slid into the car and buckled his seatbelt – a luxury the Bentley didn't have – and said, "Wave to Casey or she's going to murder me in my sleep."
Lucifer leaned over Sam to wave at the silhouetted figure of the little girl in the window. She pressed her hand against the glass before disappearing into the house and, swear to God, Sam got goose bumps. "Damn, she looks just like Ruby but you can tell she's always with Lilith."
"I think she'll be in Lilith's pre-school class this year."
"She's getting old," Sam grinned. "We're getting old."
Lucifer just hit play, and Queen filled the car. Sam leaned back and grinned, turning his head to look at his boyfriend. He had on his white track jacket and a blue tie, just like he did that day, but now the black suit really was Armani. And somehow, that made Sam happy. Lucifer could afford the clothes he'd always wanted – even if his parents had been rich at one point and he could have then, too – but the fact that Lucifer took pleasure in the material things he could get them made Sam happy. On occasion, he would wear the expensive clothes that Lucifer bought him. He didn't think the shirt Lucifer had laid out on the bed this morning was all that expensive except it was nearly identical to the one he wore last time but bigger. But, of course, it was still so tight Sam was worried about hulking out when he breathed. The shirt might have cost some money to have someone make it again for him, and Sam didn't want to rip it because of that.
And also because that would mean he'd have to go shirtless, and he wasn't really fond of that.
The streetlights danced over the dashboard, and Sam let his eyes fall to his wrist. Lucifer had drawn three lines past the star tattoo and written his name under it, just like he had all those years ago. And who would have thought that they started with this party too. As much as tonight was a celebration of their brothers, Sam traced their origins back to this party too.
Lucifer turned the wheel with his palm as he pulled into driveway of the party. The garage door opened, and he slowly parked the car inside the protective barrier. By the time he killed the engine, Crowley was at the door.
They weren't glaring like they had been before. Instead, Crowley had a scotch in one hand and his other in his pocket. There was a smile on his face, his eyelids already heavy with alcohol. Lucifer wasn't giving a suitcase of drugs to the ex-dealer this time, so he just grinned and said, "What's up, Tony?"
Crowley didn't even wince at the nickname. "I gotta make sure you're both signed in before you're allowed into the house."
"Ain't your house," Lucifer said, but he nodded toward Sam. Sam showed Crowley his arm, and the British man nodded, turning his attention back to Lucifer. The blond man unbuttoned the top three buttons and tugged the shirt apart, exposing his chest. The three letters over his chest were small marks among the hickeys and scratches, and while Sam flushed, the other two men didn't.
Crowley stepped aside to allow them entrance and grinned, "Well, Lucifer Novak and Sam Winchester, I am Anthony Crowley and I am at your service. Welcome to Hell."
The limo let them out at the old Novak house. There were a couple of kids with their hands and faces pressed up against the window, wondering why two men were crawling out of the back in front of their house. Castiel put the drugs in his pocket and nodded toward the back of the house.
The kids' eyes followed them to the back yard, watching as the two men walked into the woods behind the house. Once they entered the shelter of the trees, Castiel reached out and took Dean's hand, lacing their fingers in the warm summer air. After they climbed the hill, they broke the barrier of trees and stood on top of the hill, looking down at Balthazar's house.
"Wow," Dean breathed. "They were certainly dedicated to the reenactment."
And Castiel saw he was right. The big lights were back, illuminating a patch of grass near the pool which was the dance floor. The bodies were grinding together – looking older than the teenagers had been – but they danced with no less vigor. The first time, Castiel had led the charge down the hill, but this time, Dean got them going with a little tug, but they walked side-by-side.
Like last time, Castiel stayed glued to Dean's side. He let his partner get him a drink. Eventually, he dug out the baggie full of pills. He saw the grin Dean was trying to hide behind the red solo cup when he put an Ibuprofen and vitamin in his mouth and washed them down with the alcohol.
A strange thing happened then. Ten minutes later, Castiel's knees were jostling, keeping his feet dancing on the deck. He held out a hand and it was trembling. He took a deep breath in, digging the pills back out of his pocket. He swore they weren't hard drugs. His brother wouldn't do that to him… he had been clean for so long…
"You okay, Cas?" Dean murmured, close at his side.
It was different from the Adderall and ecstasy. It really was. But at the same time, it had been years and he probably had an amazingly low tolerance for drugs these days. It couldn't have been anything illegal. But still, the tremors were familiar. His heart rate was increasing. His eyes were wide and he felt hyper. He felt Dean chuckle behind him, and he turned to face his fiancé.
"What was it?"
"Five hour energy. It was in my written instructions. I wouldn't have done it if you hadn't taken one before, but you said they don't count," Dean pressed a hesitant kiss over Castiel's shoulder.
"Taking energy shots for recreational use is still abuse," Castiel frowned, but he exhaled, glad that it wasn't anything more serious. "Those are for performance purposes."
"Tell you what," Dean put his hand over Castiel's hip and pulled them together. "We'll make a break to a spare room later so that you can perform and there'll be no abuse then, right?"
Castiel just rolled his eyes. "I think I'm supposed to dance now. Would you like to join me?"
"According to my schedule, I'm supposed to get hammered and watch you dance like a wanton bitch for an hour or so," Dean grinned. Castiel's eyes weren't dull, and he wasn't drugged out, but he was still vibrating with the rush. Castiel didn't even drink coffee or soda. It was going to get crazy if they kept feeding him energy drinks all night.
"See you in an hour then," Castiel said, pressing a kiss against Dean's lips. Which, of course, resulted in Dean opening his mouth and tightening his grip at his hips.
Castiel wasn't sure how long they were kissing on Balthazar's deck, but he was grabbed by the arm and a couple of girls were laughing in his ear. When Dean leaned back, Castiel wanted to kiss him again, but just rested his forehead on his shoulder instead.
"You need to dance, Cassie," Bela said, wrapping her arm around his and pulling him away from Dean. "We're going for authenticity here."
"You were dancing with me back then," Castiel said, but let her pull him away. "And Kali and Rafi weren't even here at all last time."
Kali and Rafi frowned at Castiel. The younger girl wrapped her arm around Castiel's other arm, and Rafi led the way to the dance floor, waving a hand at Dean before parting the crowd for the other three.
Dean didn't feel alone when Castiel shot pathetic, desperate looks at him all the way to the dance floor. But he knew he was supposed to down his drink and sulk. He downed his drink, anyway.
Sam had told Dean he'd been at the party when Lucifer had cut himself and wound up in the hospital. He was actually impressed that Dean hadn't known that he'd been there. The fact that Castiel had never told on him filled Sam with such a friendship high that he knew he could trust his brother's boyfriend as a friend first. And to Sam, Castiel wasn't Dean's boyfriend. He was Sam's friend who just happened to be with his big brother.
Anyway, Dean knew that Sam had been there, but he was still trying to remain out of sight for the sake of authenticity. So he watched Dean standing by the makeshift bar, grinning out over the dance floor, watching his fiancé dancing with his family among a crowd of people he either didn't know or hadn't seen since high school.
Okay, Dean shouldn't be smiling, but Lucifer and Sam couldn't control everything, could they?
"What do you want?" Lucifer asked Sam, leaning against the railing, his right hand in his jacket pocket. It had been there for the past hour, and Sam wondered what he had.
He dropped it. It was probably just a pack of gum and thought about going into the whole Dean can't know I'm here tirade, but in the end he just said, "Whatever is fine. Are you drinking tonight?"
"I'm supposed to be watching him to make sure he doesn't take something. You know, make sure the alcohol doesn't fuck with the pills and he starts seeing mom again or anything," Lucifer shrugged. "But I want to. It's gonna suck being the only sober one at the party."
"I know our dads aren't drinking. My dad has to pick up the kids at eleven, and he's around here somewhere. We'll tell Cas to go to him if anything happens," Sam shrugged. "Or I can drink enough for both of us."
Lucifer bit his lip, eyes shifting from the side of the house to Dean, debating. "I don't know, cause I really want to drink, but you're a fantastic lay when you're drunk. You just lay there and scream for me."
"Plus," Sam said, ignoring Lucifer. "Dean doesn't drink like he used to. If he's drinking and Cas isn't, he doesn't want Cas to have to take him to bed and clean up his puke. If they're both drinking – and they do both drink without your supervision, sometimes – then he never drinks as hard because he's watching out for him. Seriously, just ask Dean if it's okay if you drink a bit, and ask him to ask Cas to go to my dad if something happens. And you go to my dad if something happens, okay?"
"Why don't you ask him?"
"I'm hiding," Sam said. "He's not supposed to know I'm here, remember?"
Lucifer frowned, looking from Sam to Dean and back to Sam again, running his fingers through his hair. "Can you still drink and have fun without worrying about me all night? I won't drink a lot…"
"I never worry about you," Sam said, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and pressing a kiss to his forehead. "Well, I do, but not about that. I know if you see anything in your reflection, you'll tell me instantly, right?"
"Then go get us a drink and ask Dean what he thinks."
He watched as the older Novak talked to the older Winchester. Dean clasped Lucifer in a one-armed hug, pretty much all the proof Sam needed to know Dean was getting drunk. He liked Lucifer, but he liked pretending to dislike Lucifer even more. When he started drinking, his affection for Castiel's brother came pouring out, and Dean didn't like denying any of the Novaks anything. He was nodding his head, and then Lucifer was pouring two drinks.
Dean gestured to the crowd, and the pair of them laughed.
When Lucifer turned to bring the drinks back, Dean turned with him, shooting a wink at Sam before turning back around. Those assholes weren't playing by the rules, and they were going to end up ruining everything.
Sam took a big gulp of his drink, made a face, and swallowed despite the overwhelming desire to spit it out. "What the hell is that?"
"It's rum," Lucifer grinned. "And a bit of coke. Cause I swear to you, this night will end with you begging for me."
Sam took Lucifer's word for it and took another sip.
It was always impressive watching the way Castiel's body moved in time with the others'. Even when he was dancing with family, the press of their bodies against one another was beautiful, and the dancing was something Dean didn't really see a lot of anymore what with the pills and the professional life they were making for themselves.
It had been Halloween, Dean thought, that Castiel let himself go into the thump of the base and the crashing treble. They'd driven out to Stanford to see Sam and Lucifer and party with their crowd. Dean was Batman and the rest of them were villains (Sammy finally got to be the Joker with Jess as his Harley Quinn, Lucifer was a pretty fantastic The Dark Knight version of Two-Face, and the real Batman probably never cornered Scarecrow in the bathroom of a club and fucked him against a stall, but it wasn't Dean's fault that Castiel kept pretending to spray him with fear toxin all night). Anyway, before the bathroom sex, Castiel had been dancing and that had been the last time Dean had seen him so free.
Now he was surrounded by pretty girls in tight clothes (who had kept fetching Castiel drinks, and Dean could only imagine how drunk his partner was) and Dean definitely approved. It was just as pornographic as it had been all those years ago, but Dean seriously loved being the voyeur now. After all, he could dance with whomever he wanted, but at the end of the night, Dean would be the one reaping the benefits of the press of two bodies and the sweat that all the others helped caused. And fuck, if that wasn't hot, Dean didn't know what was.
Castiel eventually left, stumbling his way through the crowd. His chest was heaving – Dean couldn't help but focus on the beads of sweat on his forehead and neck – and he leaned close to his partner as he poured himself another drink and downed it in six seconds flat. Dean pushed Castiel's hair back on his head, and the smaller body pressed against his, hands slipping into Dean's back pockets.
"You sure you don't want to dance?"
Dean nodded, trying to hide his grin behind his drink. Castiel frowned for a moment, reaching his hand into his pocket and pulling out his phone. One side of his mouth angled upward in a smirk before his eyes found Dean's again. "Gabriel has called a family meeting in the basement."
"We're not going to have to watch him dancing with Meg, Lilith, and Ruby again, are we?" Dean asked.
"I hope not," Castiel said, taking a step back and nodding toward the door. Dean started leading the way, but Castiel paused and took Dean by the wrist, holding him back. "Wait a moment, I believe I remember that this was where I roofied you at the other party."
"You didn't roofie me, Cas. You gave me uppers not depressants," Dean turned, smiling at him. "But I do think I have a headache starting. Plus, I totally forgot to take my vitamins today. So go ahead and hit me with it."
Castiel rolled his eyes, digging the drugs out of his pocket. He picked out one of each before placing his hand over Dean's jaw. The older boy opened his mouth, and Castiel put the pills on the waiting tongue. When he closed his mouth, Castiel placed a small, soft kiss against the other man's lips, then turned and walked inside the back door. Dean washed them down with his drink, then followed Castiel inside.
At the Sign In, Sam had been trying to pick up chicks for Lucifer. Well, he'd been hanging out with Lucifer, making a fool of himself while the blond boy turned down every girl Sam tried to attract. Which made total sense in hindsight, obviously, but it meant that they were supposed to recreate it tonight.
Sam had tried a line on one girl, and Lucifer shot him a look of such an utter lack of amusement that Sam was leaning over the railing laughing, and no more girls were given lines that night. It didn't take long for Castiel to come back and lead Dean inside the house. So Sam and Lucifer checked their phones and, sure enough, it was Gabriel telling them to come downstairs.
"What do you think Cas'll think?" Sam asked, but Lucifer shook his head.
"He isn't going to like it, that's for damn sure," Lucifer said. "We should probably get down there 'cause he won't be above throwing punches. Last thing Dean needs half a week before his wedding is a black eye."
Sam nodded and started walking toward the door, but Lucifer grabbed his hand and pulled him to the makeshift bar. "After a shot," he grinned.
Sam just rolled his eyes and said, "Okay, after a shot."
And he couldn't really help his body's reaction to the poison. Sam inhaled after the shot was down and started coughing. Lucifer just smiled, patted his boyfriend's back and said, "Don't worry, Sam. It gets better."
But it hadn't really gotten all that better in nine years, so Sam doubted that it ever would.
Castiel hit the landing of the basement and stopped, causing Dean to hit up against him. The shorter boy had forgotten that he had bad memories assorted with this place thanks to the alcohol, but he certainly remembered them now.
Suddenly, Castiel wasn't twenty-six, but he was seventeen again, climbing down the wooden steps into his own personal den of sin and decadence. This wasn't Balthazar's basement; his younger brother had kept boxes of storage in the basement, keeping it different from the basement Castiel went to sell himself and take drugs as a teenager. But this was not his brother's basement. This was Crowley's. The bar was stocked full, just like always used to be, but Balthazar and Bela were behind it. The couches were back out in the open, but Michael and Hester were sitting on them. Castiel turned, and his bed was there, but Victor was sitting on it, talking to Uriel loudly about football. But the blankets were the same design. The bookshelf, the desk, the candy dish where Crowley kept the heroin was still sitting on the headboard and without thinking, Castiel took a step toward it.
Dean caught Castiel's wrist, and when the smaller boy turned, he didn't see the teenager anymore. Dean had crow lines at his eyes, his freckles – though still there – didn't stand out like they did when he was a teenager. This was not the boy who brought him to the party all those years ago. This was the man he would be marrying in just a couple of days.
"What the fuck?" Dean yelled, actually yelled, to Balthazar. The younger Novak was behind the bar, already drunk but shrugging like he didn't think it was a big deal. If Dean didn't have such a strong grasp on Castiel, the other man was sure he would be behind the bar, pounding some sense into his future brother-in-law.
"Authenticity," Balthazar slurred. "So what're to you having, Winchester?"
Castiel looked back toward the bed. It was the same frame, and the blankets had the same design, but it wasn't the same mattress, and it wasn't the same blankets. Crowley had gotten rid of everything but the big things – the frame, the desk, the bookshelf – and the things on them were just replicas. Those weren't Crowley's books. That wasn't Crowley's bed.
There probably wasn't heroin in the candy dish.
All of the sudden, Lucifer and Sam were climbing the steps behind him, approaching the couple like they were a potentially dangerous animal. Dean, certainly, looked pissed, but Castiel focused on the differences. His brothers were down here. This was his brother's house. He wasn't taking drugs anymore.
He was marrying Dean in a couple of days.
"You okay, Cas?" Sam asked, hitting the landing and reaching out. Strong hands clasped to Castiel's biceps, his vision full of the giant little Winchester. And Castiel smiled. This man would be his brother, soon. So Castiel nodded.
"It is authentic."
"You're not mad at us, are you?" Sam asked, and over his shoulder, Castiel could see that Dean was still glaring at Lucifer.
Castiel reached up, cupping the side of the other man's face in his hands and Sam flinched from the intimacy of the touch, but he didn't jerk away. Instead, he allowed himself to be held, and Castiel smiled at him. "I remember that you were hiding last time. And I remember that I complimented your singing voice and I said you were pleasing to be around. That doesn't come close, Sam Winchester. You mean so much more to me than you did that night."
"Um… okay, Cas. Thanks. Dean, how much has he had?"
"A lot. The girls pretty much kept an alcohol IV going while he was dancing," but Dean was smiling now, a wide, authentic thing splitting his face. He never admitted it aloud, but he loved the friendship between his brother and his lover.
"You saved my brother's life," Castiel insisted, pulling Sam down for a hug. "You helped to save mine."
Sam patted at Castiel's back a couple of times before Dean started laughing and prying Castiel from his little brother. As suddenly as the fury had come, it was gone, and Dean led Castiel over to the bar. "Well, Balthy, I'll do a Jäger Bomb to catch up. Just give him some Redbull."
Castiel kept one hand clinging to the bar while he drank the energy drink as quickly as he could. He knew his heart would start pounding, but his vision was already swimming with the alcohol. Dean and Lucifer and Sam were all doing Jäger Bombs, and Castiel watched them race, watched their Adam's apples bob with the effort of drinking, watched the liquid pass by their mouths to dribble down their chin.
Uriel was pressed up behind him, asking Balthazar to make him one, and Castiel gave up his seat to let his brother sit down. He looked around the room once more, taking in Crowley's basement overflowing with Novak influence. Hester was practically on top of Michael on the couch. Zachariah and Rachel were walking down the steps hand-in-hand, and Victor was looking down at his phone, fingers flying over the touch screen.
Castiel wanted to know if there was heroin in that candy dish.
He walked across the room to the bed, putting a knee on the mattress before climbing up and crawling over to the headboard. He sat back on his heels and opened the dish, taking out one of the small treasures inside. It was rolled in the candy paper, just like the heroin used to be, but when Castiel pressed his finger and thumb against it, he realized it wasn't powder. It didn't move and give away under the pressure, so he unwrapped it and popped the hard candy in his mouth.
His nose wrinkled and his cheeks hallowed out. It was a freaking sour warhead. Damn his brothers straight to hell.
Victor was the only one close enough to see Castiel's expression, so he was the only one to laugh at him. Castiel turned, letting himself fall on the mattress and spread his hands out over the blanket next to the other man. He could get lost over here, Castiel knew, because it wasn't perfectly the same, but it was so close. He wondered if Sam and Lucifer had meant for him to lose himself tonight.
If he wanted to avoid getting lost, he was going to need to be active in his fight to stay in the present. He turned the candy over in his mouth to get rid of the sour outer layer so he could enjoy the sweet grape underneath and looked up at Victor.
"Where's my sister?"
"They ordered some pizzas," Victor leaned back, placing his hand behind his body to hold himself up. He turned and looked down at the drunken man, but his face seemed kind and nonjudgmental. Castiel liked Victor. "She's up there with Missouri waiting for it. She'll bring it down when it gets here."
"Did they get just cheese?"
"Obviously," Victor grinned. "It's your party and you don't eat pepperoni, and you outweigh the rest of us with decent taste."
"They'll get one with meat too," Castiel closed his eyes. "Dean likes meat."
"I know that your boyfriend likes meat," Victor joked, and Castiel had to spit the warhead out in the trash near the bed so he didn't choke on it. By the time the pair of them calmed down, Missouri and Rafi were putting two sheet pizzas on the bar. Castiel made a move to get up, but it was easier said than done so he just lay there.
Eventually, Rafi came over with two plates. She handed them both to Victor, then grinned down at her little brother. "Can you sit up on your own?"
"Yes," Castiel insisted. "I just don't want to."
"Then let me help," She said. Between the two of them, Castiel managed to sit with his legs crossed on the bed with a plate of cheese pizza in his lap. Rafi grabbed herself a plate, then joined her brother and her boyfriend on the bed. "So how are you enjoying your last party as a single man, Castiel?"
"I'm not a single man," Castiel frowned.
"I meant for tax purposes. You'll be married soon. That has to be exciting."
"Tons of people get married," Castiel shrugged. "Not everybody gets to become who they were meant to be. How are you feeling?"
"Healing nicely, actually," Rafi shrugged, tucking a strand of hair behind her ears. "I like seeing an F next to sex on my birth certificate."
"That's fantastic, Rafi," Castiel grinned. "That means you two can have a regular old heterosexual marriage if you want to. With a cream colored dress and the works."
"My dress can be white if I want it to be," Rafi snapped, but she was grinning.
Castiel shot a look at Victor. "Right, just like mine would be."
Victor was a district attorney in Colorado, and Rafi was a trial lawyer. They met after she started her hormonal therapy, but before the sex reassignment surgery. He watched a couple of her cases
and asked her for a date. She was taken so off-guard by his question that she blurted that she still had a penis. He just stared at her, said, "What a coincidence. I have one too. Pick you up at eight?" And that was, as they say, that.
Castiel liked Victor. He liked that Rafi was finally happy. And he really liked this pizza, too.
"Dean Winchester, look at you!"
Dean smiled at the voice behind him, turning to embrace the woman who had dropped off the pizza. Missouri wrapped her arms around him, pulling him to her chest before holding him out at arm's length. "You're growing up so handsome."
"It's only been a couple of months, Missouri," Dean grinned.
"Yeah, but you're actually growing up and marrying that boy before he comes to his senses and drops your goofy ass," Missouri smiled despite Dean's falling face. Behind her, he saw Uriel smirk into his drink.
"And what about you, huh? You two aren't married."
"We haven't been dating since the dawn of time, either," Missouri snapped back, putting her hands on her hips.
"Neither have we," Dean frowned, pointing across the room toward where Lucifer and Sam were playing some drinking game with Michael and Hester. "Those two've been dating two whole years longer'n me and Cas."
"Only officially," Uriel said with a roll of his eyes.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that it doesn't matter the two of you weren't fucking for two years. Neither of you were fucking anyone else either," Missouri poked at Dean's chest, but the younger man just blushed with the blunt way she was putting it. "You two were dating even if you don't count it officially."
Dean reached around her, grabbing at another slice of pizza. He started eating it, trying to come up with some sort of comeback to that comment. He really couldn't think of anything, so he just let it drop. Of course, Uriel and Missouri were a match made in hell and both of them liked verbal confirmation when they were right. Both of them were giving a sassy (okay, Uriel would beat the crap out of Dean for saying he was sassy, but he totally was) look that involved one eyebrow raised and crossed arms so Dean just picked up his drink and took a sip.
"Fine, assholes, you win. Whatever you say. You guys waiting forever or what, anyway? If you don't hurry up another one of the younger boys'll be married before you two."
"If somebody doesn't hurry up, Claire'll be married before us," Missouri shot, turning on her boyfriend as easy as she turned on anyone else. She spun on her heels and marched off toward the bed. Rafi and Victor were laughing, and Castiel was sitting between them, an empty plate on his lap.
Dean watched his fiancé stand, hugging Missouri and offering Uriel a small smile. The elder man just laughed, picking his brother up in his arms and spinning him around. Uriel was always the one who played into the macho exterior, but he'd always had a soft spot in his heart for his younger brothers. And like any older sibling, he was just happy that his family was happy.
The older Winchester grinned and waved his glass in front of Balthazar's face. He filled the solo cup up with Jameson, and Dean loaded up a plate with cheese pizza, picking it up (and steadying himself on his feet) and walking over to his brother on the couch. He set the pizza on the table in front of the four of them and leaned back, watching as they paused in their discussion to grab for the food.
Though, to be honest, discussion was a generous description.
Michael had gotten into some fancy music school in New York City right after high school. He would be away from his family for the first time – nearly as far away from his twin as he could get and still remain in the continental United States – and he didn't take the separation well. He lasted a semester in New York before they kicked him out. It wasn't because his grades were bad, although they were pretty atrocious. In one semester, Michael had three strikes with drinking alcohol underage. He officially dropped out and moved back home.
Jimmy had no idea what to do with Michael. So he allowed his son to do what he asked. He stayed with Lucifer in his dorm at Stanford for a week.
When Michael came back, he enrolled in KU with Dean, and he didn't drink again until his twenty-first birthday. After that, of course, was a different story.
Michael's arm was thrown over Lucifer's shoulders, holding his brother close. Lucifer had his head turned, angled toward his twin, and Michael had his forehead pressed against his brother's cheek. The arm around Lucifer's shoulder bent at the elbow, threading the blond hair.
"Will you stay?" Michael slurred, and Lucifer reached out, taking his brother's hands in his.
"What're they talking about?" Dean asked Sam. His younger brother was fighting a piece of cheese that wouldn't leave his slice of pizza, and it takes a few moments for his brother to chew in swallow. Hester – who was pretty drunk, but nowhere near as drunk as her boyfriend – was trying to pry Michael from his brother.
"After I graduate, Michael wants to know if we'll move back here."
"I thought that was the plan," Dean said, raising his eyebrows. "I thought you wanted to find a house in Lawrence. Get a job here."
"Yeah," Lucifer said, twisting away from his brother to look at Dean. "But what will I do? What do you do with my degree in Lawrence?"
Hester took Michael's face in hers, drawing it toward her so he would look away. His eyelids closed, but Dean could see him grip his brother's hand tighter, like he was afraid of letting go. "You could always teach," Dean said, raising his eyebrows, trying to be helpful.
Lucifer just dropped his brother's hand and leaned forward to snatch a piece of pizza from the plate, throwing a wink in Dean's direction. After he took a bite, Kali walked down the stairs, grinning out at the family. "Okay, Gabe says he's ready."
"I don't want to, Gabe," I whined, leaning against the basement door because I was too intoxicated to stand on my own. "I don't even know your brothers. Why can't Kali do it?"
"Because you have the iPod," Gabriel was looking in the mirror, adjusting his shirt just a bit. He'd been doing it all night. I liked Gabriel; I really did. I admired his dedication to his family and the ridiculous shit he would do and put up with to make them happy. But I was not family. I was not really friends with either of the grooms. I shouldn't have even been there.
I felt a hand at my back, and I moved to the side. John Winchester was grinning down at Gabriel, his arm wrapped around Ellen's shoulder. "You look cute, son."
"Boys aren't supposed to be cute," Gabriel said, but there was a smirk on his face. He opened his arms and bounced forward onto his toes. Ellen smiled at him.
"Then you look damn cute," John said. "Everyone else down there, already?"
"Yeah. Everyone but my dad, I think. All my brothers and sisters."
John opened the door to the basement. Before he walked in, Ellen reached out, smoothing her hand over Gabriel's shoulder. "You look very nice, little angel."
"Aw, thanks a bunch, Ellen," As they walked down the stairs, I heard Gabriel sigh. He was jittery, and I've known the man for many years. He didn't get embarrassed or anxious when he was about to make a fool out of himself. He only acted like an adult when he was at work – and even then it was sort of a light definition of adult – and he only got stressed out when his dad was involved. Sure enough, he turned his hand over, looking at the watch against his inner wrist, and asked. "Where the hell is my dad?"
There was something that I should probably explain, because I didn't think the last chapter was completely true. The Novaks were raised in a religious household, even though the faith took hold differently in each of them. One thing I would say about them was that despite their faults and flaws, they had a near angelic capacity for forgiveness. I mean, if I had a brother and he broke my arm then ostracized me publicly for a few months, I wouldn't just up and forgive him when he visited me in the hospital. I never really knew my father, but if he just suddenly showed up again, I wouldn't just forgive him.
And while the Novak children certainly forgave their father for abandoning them – more so because it granted them peace, not because of him coming back – they could never really forget that they weren't his favorites anymore. Jimmy talked about those kids in his program constantly. He would Skype with them and Amelia all the time. And Gabriel, being the youngest, got to see it all. He saw the way his dad's interactions with the woman changed over the years, from businesslike to more casual, more romantic.
Eventually, after Castiel moved in with Dean and Balthazar had left for college, Gabriel was left alone with his father, and he didn't blame Jimmy for having a new life somewhere else, he really didn't. But he couldn't forget the times when he was a kid and Jimmy would hold him on his lap, reading him stories about the Bible.
When Gabriel left for college, Jimmy left for Pontiac.
Jimmy and Amelia were married, and the Novaks were happy for their father. They respected Amelia, and she was a kind person. She wasn't their mother, but they couldn't blame Jimmy for wanting companionship.
Then Claire was born, and the Novaks loved their little sister. But they knew, too. None of them talked about it, but it was loud and clear – a parallel that only kids raised on the Bible, named for angels could truly appreciate – their father had created new life, and he would rather have his sons love and respect Claire than he would have that love himself. And while they were never literally asked to bow down to her, there was certainly a pecking order and superiority meant nothing.
They didn't blame Jimmy. They were growing up, starting families of their own, and it was only natural that their father sought companionship as well. So they forgave him for abandoning them the first time – because if something was wrong anytime after that first time, he would come when they called and they knew he loved them – but they never forgot anything he had done.
And that caused a certain amount of friction among the Novak children.
"Gabriel," Jimmy was suddenly right behind me, and when I turned around, I saw that the man had his hand on his son's shoulder. Gabriel straightened up like a soldier, holding his chest and his chin high like he had something to prove. And maybe he did. Maybe all the older Novak children were still, to some degree, fighting for daddy's approval – to be the good little soldiers of the Lord that Jimmy had raised them to be – but Gabriel wasn't expecting the reaction he got.
Jimmy took in his son's outfit and tears were in his eyes. He hugged the man around the shoulders, pressing Gabriel's face to his chest. "You remind me so much of your mother, Gabriel," Jimmy murmured, pressing his face into his son's hair. Gabriel made a noise and clung to Jimmy's shirt. Jimmy never mentioned Anna; he went out of his way to avoid talking about her. I had never wanted to reach out and comfort my friend more. "You would do anything to keep this family together, and you are paramount. You are the glue, and your mother would be proud of you."
When Jimmy moved back, holding his son at arm's length, Amelia walked up. She shoved Jimmy away, before holding Gabriel's arms out to his sides, smiling at him. There was another thing about Amelia that I probably should have mentioned earlier too. The Novak children didn't want a replacement mom, but Amelia's capacity for love surprised them. She loved them like they were her own, even if they didn't want her to. She wasn't their mother, but damn was she a good surrogate.
"Oh, baby angel, look at you," she said, and swear to God, Gabriel was blushing when he looked up at her. "Castiel showed me the video a couple of months ago, and you were cute then, but just look at you now."
"It's nothing," Gabriel said, pulling his arms back into himself. "It's… it's a joke. It's not like a Rafi or a Luci thing. I'm not really coming out or anything."
"Your favorite Doctor Who character is Jack Harkness, sweetie," Amelia said, offering a sympathetic look. "You can't really go back anywhere at this point."
I snorted, but they ignored me. If only they freaking knew how sex-equal loving the man could be if given the opportunity. (But for the record, I was still 97% sure he kept making me write the threesome thing as a long-running inside joke and not because of any actual interest).
"We'll see you down there," Jimmy said, touching the man's shoulder one more time. "Have fun, son."
When they walked down the stairs, I heard a handful of the Novaks calling to them. I could see Castiel moving into sight to hug his father and Amelia, and even when he was stoned out of his fucking mind in chemistry class, he never staggered that much. Dude was seriously drunk. It kind of made me feel better about this whole me embarrassing myself thing.
"So are you ready?" He asked me.
"I would rather succumb to my poisoned liver and die."
Gabriel smiled and pushed me toward the door. I stumbled before righting myself on the first step, saving myself from tumbling head first down the stairs. "Then you're as ready as you are for anything else you ever do, alcoholic. Just remember. They'll only be looking at you until I come down the stairs."
"Gabriel Novak, you are a narcissist," I called back to him, but started walking down the stairs.
He just hissed, "Have you seen what I'm wearing?" before he shut the door most of the way, only leaving it open just a sliver to hear his cue.
When I walked down the stairs, nobody paid much attention to me. Castiel and Dean were sitting on one couch with a drink in their hands even though both of them had their heads thrown back in drunken laughter already. Lucifer, Michael, and Uriel were sitting on the other couch – each of them with a drink, too – and they were giggling and having a good time, too. Sam was talking to his dad and Ellen at the bar, Rafi was hugging Amelia, and Zachariah and Balthazar were talking to Jimmy. Kali, Bela, and Victor were throwing back shots, and I walked behind the bar and plugged Gabriel's iPod into the stereo system.
"Gentlemen, our benefactor on this Christmas day,
Whose charity is only matched my talent, I must say…"
They all looked at me. Some of them looked more pissed than others, and Castiel wrapped Dean's arm over his shoulder and leaned back into him, resting his head on his shoulder and laughing. After another few seconds, most of the other Novaks recognized the song. By the time Gabriel walked downstairs, I had turned my back. I pulled a bottle of whiskey off the top shelf.
If Balthazar got angry with me, Gabriel would end up smoothing it over. That was the story of our adult lives.
I took a huge sip right from the bottle.
"Today 4 U. Tomorrow 4 Me."
When I turned around, Gabriel was trying to push himself up from lying on top of Lucifer and Uriel. Once he was up, he started banging the drumsticks on the table, and Michael was yelling at him about ruining his good sticks.
There were tears of laughter, and when it was over, most of the Novaks were on their feet, hugging at their younger brother. They started talking about it instantly – who had been who when their mother had helped them put it on years ago – and it took almost no time for them to start yelling at me to put on another song.
I had been a pretty constant fixture in the Novak clan at this point; Gabriel kept forcing me (read: luring me with the promise of free alcohol) to go to parties and picnics with him and Kali. The singing was something I never got used to. I never would.
The Novaks were just men named for a choir of angels. All of them fell short of perfect – fallen men in a fallen world – but there was something they were perfect at. There was one thing their mom had instilled in them before she died and hearing them all together would be the closest I would ever come to heaven.
Since the first time the Novaks sang this song, nineteen years had passed. Their voices had changed. One had survived numerous suicide attempts; one had survived an addiction to drugs. Two of them were married and had kids. One taught peewee football, and another was a teacher. One had sex reassignment surgery, and the last – ironically or not – wanted to have a threesome with his girlfriend and his best friend.
But one thing that hadn't changed was the harmony. They weren't all biologically related, but they were a family. And their voices reached heaven when they sang together.
I didn't leave because I started crying. I just had accidentally splashed some whiskey in my eye.
The bed smelled like Crowley.
Castiel spread his arms out over the comforter, letting his fingers run over the material. He reached under the top one to find the electric blanket under it. Castiel ran the satin part between his fingers, nose pressed against the comforter, wondering if his brothers were so committed to the authenticity of the night that they had his friend lay in this bed for a few hours, just to get his scent all over it.
When Castiel had moved back to the bed, Gabriel had stripped his sexy Santa outfit, but he was still in tights and heels under other Angel costume, and Lucifer was teasing him for his new height. He could hear them over on the other side of the room, still talking and laughing and singing, but Castiel's head was swimming, and when he closed his eyes, he could remember waking up in this bed, wishing he were with Dean instead.
The bed dipped with added weight, but Castiel didn't have it in him to turn around and see who it was. He didn't have to wait long to figure out who it was. A hand placed itself between his shoulder blades, rubbing small circles on his back. "Wake up, angel. I have another present for you."
"No more," Castiel whined. "Too drunk. I don't want to puke."
"'S not alcohol, love," Crowley traced his palm over the lower wing of Castiel's shoulder blade, and the man shook his shoulders. He pushed himself up on his elbows – after just a bit of struggling – and he turned to face his friend. Crowley held up a cigarette and grinned, "Merry Christmas, Sherlock."
Castiel pushed himself up and got his knees under him so he was sitting back against his heels. The man had sworn off drugs, but cigarettes were a treat. He didn't like to smoke often – he feared becoming addicted to any substance again – but he was powerless to deny an offer like that when he was drunk. Castiel reached out with grabby hands, and Crowley handed it over to him.
"Does that make you my Mycroft?"
Crowley laughed, ducking his head and looking up through his eyelashes. "No, angel. I'll always be your Moriarty."
Castiel needed to use Crowley's shoulder to help stabilize himself before taking a shaky step away. Crowley was there with a hand on his back, ready to grab him if he fell. The room was spinning, but Dean was in focus. He was raising a bottle to his lips with a grin on his face, rolling his eyes at the men next to him. Lucifer had his arms wrapped around Phil's shoulders from behind, and the smaller blond man was patting his arm, balancing a glass of wine on his knee with his other hand.
When Castiel knocked into something, the three of them looked over. The music was pumping through the iPod, even though a lot of the people had left the basement in favor of the dance party outside. Castiel used his cigarette to point toward the staircase, and Dean nodded, smiled, and offered a wave.
By the time Crowley helped Castiel outside, the taller man was shaking for the nicotine. When he put it in his mouth, Crowley was already cupping his hand around the end, holding the lighter up for Castiel to use. The taller man leaned forward to rest his hand against Crowley's to guide it toward the cigarette. He inhaled as the paper and tobacco caught, puffing the first breath out through his nose. Crowley took a step back, dug the pack out his pocket, and lit one for himself.
The pair of them leaned against the deck, watching the people in the pool. Past them, the masses were still swaying together like a beehive of activity, and Castiel took a long drag, watching the way the smoke he blew from his mouth dissipated in the air above him.
"Cigarettes are better than sex," Castiel practically moaned. Crowley shot him a look, so Castiel amended, "Better than sex with you."
It wasn't until after he said it that he realized it was the first time either of them had mentioned their physical relationship aloud to each other in nine years. When Crowley left, they cut off and avoided any discussion about anything intimate. Crowley had marked over every inch of Castiel's skin before; Castiel could cut their sexual tension with a knife.
And just like that – with a simple, drunken jab – it was gone. And Crowley took a huge breath in, like he could feel it too. "Oh, don't even get me started on how shitty of a lay you were. You know how often you just sat there and took it?"
"I think I was pretty comatose with heroin back then," Castiel blew out another puff. "I might not have even bothered to be conscious for most of it. Why bother pretending?"
Crowley's grin split his face, and when Castiel turned to face him, the pair of them started laughing. Their shoulders knocked together, and after a second, Crowley used his free hand to brush some hair from the other man's forehead. "Christ, we were terrible."
"Yes," Castiel agreed. "But things are good with Phil?"
"Oh, don't even get me started. His fucking tongue, Castiel. It should be a sin, let me tell you," Crowley brought the cigarette to his mouth, letting it out through his nose. "I don't dare to ask about Dean."
"He can get off without me touching him," Castiel looked up at the stars. "Twenty-nine years old and he still responds to me like he's eighteen."
"TMI, angel. I owe you now," Crowley put the butt of the cigarette out against the railing. Balthazar wouldn't care. "Phale likes to tie me up, then he…"
"I'm sorry," Castiel had one puff of the cigarette left before it burned into the filter, but he held vertically in his hands, watching the embers glow. "You're my best friend, Anthony. You should be in my wedding. I was too afraid of myself and our history to invite you myself. And you deserved better than that."
"Aw, come off it, Cas," their shoulders were pushed together, and Castiel could feel Crowley's skin burning through their clothes. "I was your drug dealer. Then I was your pimp and loan shark. You don't owe me anything."
"That's not true. You were the one I wrote to when I wanted nothing more than to use again. You were the one I wrote to when Dean and I got back together, and every time we've had a fight. You've always been my go-to. You've always been my supplier; it's just you're dealing something different now. Do you know what I mean?" Castiel finally put the cigarette in his mouth, taking the last drag.
"Yes, angel. I know exactly what you mean."
Ruby was pressed up against Sam on the other end of the basement, and Lucifer was trying really hard not to think of himself as a voyeuristic creepy old man, but it was kind of hard. Sam had learned how to dance in the oversized body in college, and Ruby was as beautiful as ever. Sam's giant hands were low on the girl's hips, and it didn't help anything that he kept throwing flirty little smirks over Ruby's head.
Lucifer put his feet up on the coffee table at the same time that Lilith sat down beside him.
The blonde girl was drunk, her arms finding his bicep and pressing herself against him. She rested her head against his shoulder, looked up at him from behind her eyelashes and breathed his name against his neck. It was followed by a small giggled, "We have drank too much."
"Yes, I see that," Lucifer smiled at her, adjusting his arm to wrap around her shoulder. When he pulled her to his chest, she wrapped her arms around his stomach and gave a contented, loving sigh. His other hand brushed her hair from her face.
"What will Casey say?" the girl asked.
"She'll be half asleep, anyway. Byron never says anything when Balthazar gets wasted. Plus, Ellen'll give you and Ruby a ride home," Lucifer rested his chin against his friend's head, shooting a smile at Sam across the room. "Plus, me and Sam'll be sleeping there tonight even if I have to drag his drunk ass home. I can watch her."
Lilith laughed, a rumble shaking her whole body, before she leaned away from him and smiled, "I don't need my daughter hearing the boy king screaming his praise to the god."
"Lily, I want you to dance with me," Ruby cut in, flopping herself down on Lilith and wrapping her arms around her shoulders. Lucifer saw that the blonde had been right. They were freaking drunk guessing by the way they started giggling. "The moose is too big."
"He's completely proportionate too," Lucifer grinned, elbowing the Lilith in the side. That set the girls off again (it also set them off balance and they toppled over together on the couch), but Sam gave a long-suffering, annoyed sigh from above him.
"Don't objectify me," Sam held down his hand, and Lucifer took it. He let his boyfriend pull him to his feet. Lucifer's hand went to his jacket pocket, checking to make sure he hadn't lost the little box. It was stupid to bring, but he had carried it everywhere since he'd gotten it. He sort of didn't trust Sam not to find it in his bag – not that his boyfriend was a snoop, he was just considerate and would likely find it when he was doing laundry or something – so he kept it on him. "It's hot. Let's go outside."
"Yes, sir," Lucifer grinned, letting their fingers slide together. He led Sam to the bar, and Balthazar stopped making out with Bela long enough to make them both a drink, even though Sam was way too drunk to drink it anyway. Lucifer tossed his back, but Sam carried him with him, leaning heavily against his boyfriend up the stairs. "That's it, Sammy, just lift one leg at a time."
"Don't patronize me either," Sam frowned, but he tripped on his next step. He smiled at Lucifer when he managed to hold them both upright and save Sam's drink from spilling all over.
"We were lovers in a past life, I can see it in your green eyes…"
Dean walked onto the back porch, the music still thumping and the mass of bodies still dancing despite the hour. He saw Crowley and Phil leaning close to each other on the deck. He shot a look around, but Castiel wasn't there. So he walked up to the Brits and asked, "Where's the angel?"
"Maybe you were one of my wives in a long, lost tribe."
Crowley grinned, and Phil pointed to the crowd. Dean wished he could say it was harder to pick Castiel out of a crowd of dancing people, but it really wasn't. He was close to the pool and swaying on his feet; Dean was pretty sure that he would be laid out on his back if Meg's hands weren't holding him upright. Her face was buried in his neck, his hands wrapped around her hips holding them close together, and Dean scanned the crowd, panic setting in when he didn't see the other girl.
"You thought you had to watch out for me, I bet," Crowley laughed, knuckles white from clenching the porch. He was hammered and holding on to dear life. Fuck. As if Castiel wasn't drunk enough, apparently a smoke break had turned into a shot break, too. "Fuck, I remember when he woke up with my cousin Scarlett after a night of fun. He pushed her up against a wall downtown and quoted a pizza man porn Ligur had been watching the night before. I love when the angel's so messed up he forgets he's gay."
"There's just something about you I know. Started centuries ago, though…"
"Where's Abby?" Dean asked again, fingers gripping around Crowley's wrist. The dark haired man put his forehead against the railing, his back shaking with his laughter.
Phil put his hand on Crowley's back, smoothing small circles over the muscle. He offered Dean an apologetic look and said, "They broke up this morning. We've been watching them though. Nothing more than dancing. We would have stopped them otherwise, Dean. I promise."
"Fuck," Dean yelled and ran out on the floor to break the pair up.
"Your kiss is like a lost ghost, only I'd know."
It wasn't that he didn't trust Castiel, but he did have a bit of a history with Meg. They stayed in touch – Castiel was one of the only people to stay in touch with Meg after high school because everyone else remembered her being a prostitute for a bit there – and every time Meg and her girlfriend broke up, they would go out drinking.
The first time, Castiel had insisted that Dean go to, so he could keep an eye on Castiel. He had meant the mix of alcohol and medication, but Dean quickly learned that he had to keep an eye on the girl. She'd always been physically close to any guy she could get close to, but Dean had looked away for two seconds and when he looked back, Meg was planting one on his boyfriend and Castiel was too drunk to really push her back.
Meg and her girlfriend had been going on again and off again for three or four years, and Dean had pulled Castiel away from Meg his fair share of times. At first, he thought she was doing it to get a rise out of Dean, because she only seemed to make a move when Dean was around, but he eventually he caught on.
Meg was murmuring, "Why are you so sweet on me, Clarence?" against her dance partner's neck when Dean got there. Castiel pushed his nose into her hair, his eyes closed, and if he answered, Dean didn't hear what he said. The girl was pushing back enough to look at him after, grinning up at him, saying, "You really do know how to make a girl's neathers quiver, don't you?"
"I am aware of how to do that," Castiel said. "Although…"
"Although he prefers the neathers of a dude," Dean chirped in. "Isn't that right, Cas?"
When Castiel turned to look at Dean, his face lit up like he had forgotten where he was before and it all made sense now. Like he was lost and then he was found. Castiel always looked at him like that, even when he wasn't drunk. Dean would get home from work, and Castiel would have that same look when he looked up from playing with Byron. He would give that same look when he brought Dean a drink when he'd been working in the garage. It was so full of love and wonder and affection…
And it really did. It made Dean's neathers quiver.
"That's not really all that fair, is it?" Meg asked, but Castiel was already turning away. She grabbed his arm and tugged him back, planting a kiss on his lips. For Castiel's part, his eyebrows furrowed like he was slightly confused, but he was barely able to stand on his own feet. It was a short kiss – partly because Dean tugged on Castiel's arm and it sent the man spinning and tumbling away from Meg and crashing his back against Dean's chest – but Meg didn't try to hold him there either. "You're marrying him in a couple of days, Dean. Can't you share him in the mean time?"
"Okay. If he'd rather kiss you, then you can have him for the night," Dean spun Castiel around so they were face to face, and the man's eyes spun like he couldn't focus them. He was officially cut off from the alcohol. Dean had to get him lying down or near a toilet ASAP. "Hey, Cas. Look at me."
Castiel's eyes found Dean's mouth, then slid up his face. The grin he gave should be illegal. "Hello Dean."
"Yeah, hi. Listen, you just kissed Meg. Do you remember that? Remember what it was like?" Dean asked, but Castiel just looked confused for a moment. He nodded. "Okay, I'm gonna kiss you now and you tell me which is better, alright?"
"Yes, Dean," Castiel practically moaned, throwing his arms around his fiancé's shoulders and pressing their lips sloppily together before Dean got a chance to move in. It was hard to get Castiel to stop – Dean was practically holding up his entire weight and Castiel kept pushing forward when Dean tried to get away – but eventually he succeeded, much to Castiel's annoyance. His hands shifted lower, groping at the other man, and Dean practically dropped him in surprise. "Please, Dean," Castiel murmured against his throat. "Please, again."
"That good enough for you, Meg?" Dean asked, tugging Castiel's arm around his shoulders so he could lead him back to the house. Zachariah, Uriel and Raphael and their families took up all of the spare bedrooms, but Dean was sure he could get everyone to bail from the basement.
"No," Meg was gripping at Castiel's hand, a frown on her face. "No, it isn't. Abaddon keeps leaving me. Every man I've ever been with treats me like a whore, but not him. He's special, Dean. He's my unicorn."
"No, he isn't," Dean snapped. "He isn't Crowley's angel, and he isn't your… uh… unicorn. Okay? He's mine. And you're not a whore. You can do whatever the fuck you want with your body, but you gotta stop pissing Abby off, Meg. One day, she isn't going to come back to you. So do me a favor and go home and tell her you're sorry." He pointed a finger at her. "And you better bring her as a plus one because Cas will be devastated if you aren't happy and dancing and leading the charge down the aisle. And I swear to God if you kiss my husband on our wedding night, I will gank you."
Meg was still frowning, but she was nodding too.
"Besides, Meg, he's a good friend to you. That's why he asked you to be in the wedding. Besides Crowley, you might be his only friend. You don't really want to mess that up trying to sleep with him, do you?"
Meg looked down, and as Dean started leading his very incredibly drunk fiancé back to the house, Castiel turned back to Meg. "I like Abaddon, but drinking with you is a fond memory."
When Castiel turned his attention back to Dean – and trying to make out with him even though it was very clear to Dean that they were supposed to be walking – the taller man saw a smile on Meg's face before she disappeared into the crowd.
"The sun goes down, the stars come out.
And all that counts is here and now.
My universe will never be the same.
I'm glad you came. I'm glad you came."
The trek up the hill had been rough for Sam, but once Lucifer sat, Sam laid down next to him, breathing heavily with his eyes closed. That only made the world spin more, so he opened them once again. Lucifer was looking at him.
"You cast a spell on me, spell on me.
You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me."
They sat in silence for a couple of moments before Lucifer sat Sam's drink down. It remained untouched. When Sam's breathing returned to normal, he sat up. Lucifer peered at him for a moment, before looking over at the taller man. He was supposed to offer the jacket to him, but he felt the box and frowned. "You're not cold are you?"
"It's July, handsome," Sam grinned. "And I'm not the one who sleeps with an electric blanket all summer."
"And I decided you look well on me, well on me.
So let's go somewhere no one else can see, you and me."
Lucifer could remember every moment of this part of that night, despite how drunk he had been and despite the pain of a broken arm. He could remember the way Sam had looked up at the stars; he remembered the way he could see the sharpied star sticking out from the sleeve.
Now, there was a tattoo of that same star decorating Sam's wrist, and unless something happened and he spent a ton of money to get it removed, it would stay there forever. It wasn't really a brand or a claim. To Lucifer, it was more of a choice. Sam had chosen to get that tattooed on him, to bind himself to Lucifer with a mark on his body for the rest of eternity. Sam had already made the choice, but Lucifer couldn't find a way to show Sam how much it meant to him.
He was going to spend the rest of his life with the man sitting next to him. But he didn't have a clue how to ask, just to be sure.
"The sun goes down, the stars come out.
And all that counts is here and now."
"Last time we were here, I told you that Lucifer meant light-bearer," Sam was still looking up at the stars. "And I'm sort of really drunk, so don't hold it against me, but you're the light of my life, you know that? You're the one burning constant. You're the first light I see in the morning, and the last light I see before close my eyes. Forever."
"My universe will never be the same."
Sam wasn't even trying and he was making it so perfect. When Lucifer didn't say anything right away, Sam turned to look at him, a goofy, half-drunk but completely loving smile plastered over his face.
Lucifer reached over, pressing his thumb against the tattoo as he wrapped his hand around Sam's wrist. Then he moved up his forearm, letting his fingers dance over Sam's skin, tightening into his bicep before moving up to rest against Sam's shoulder.
Fuck being a Novak. The last time they were here, it was the start of what he thought would be the end, but really it was just the end of the past era. He had been broken – a boy desperate for death, consumed with the guilt of not living up to his father's unrealistic expectations and a disease in his brain that fed on his every insecurity – but after Sam… Christ, after Sam he lived. He loved living. He dealt with his grief and guilt and every one of his insecurities and he took his medication to stay healthy because after he met Sam everything was worth it. The day-to-day struggles were worth it because at night, he would be laying next to Sam. In the morning, he would be there to kiss him awake. He wasn't a man named for an angel who failed because it was a part of life and a part of growing up.
He was a man who made a choice every single morning. And every single choice he made was based on one question: Is Sam Winchester happy? Because long before Sam chose to get that star tattooed on his arm, Lucifer chose to do whatever it took to make sure that the answer to that question was always a yes.
So fuck being a Novak with the unrealistic, angelic expectations. Lucifer wanted to be a Winchester.
"Sam," Lucifer breathed, cupping his hand around the back of his boyfriend's neck. He needed to tell him. He needed to say all of those things, but he didn't know what words to say.
"I'm glad you came."
But as he pulled Sam closer, he knew how to start.
"I'm glad you…"
In hindsight, he really should have expected it when his hand was ripped from the back of Sam's neck. He yelped as he was pulled by his wrist to his feet, his arm suddenly pinned behind his back with his wrist between his shoulder blades.
This time, Michael wasn't holding him as tight – his shoulder didn't threaten to pop at any second – but he was furious. The tone of his voice wasn't begging this time. It was with gritted teeth that he spit out, "Michael, please…"
"You were told not to come here," Michael hissed, but Lucifer could feel the smile on his brother's lips against his ear. He had no idea he was breaking up this perfect moment – a-fucking-gain – he was just playing along. Lucifer took a deep breath and calmed himself.
They had wanted authenticity.
"No," Sam whispered, on his hands and knees. Lucifer looked down. Sam looked fifteen again, completely terrified and nauseous and like he was going to throw up. His fingers were balled into fists, and he was trying to get his long legs to cooperate enough so he could stand. "Not again."
But Michael was too drunk to see Sam's trauma, and with an easy kick to the back of his knee, Lucifer dropped to the ground. He didn't fall hard – certainly not as hard as he did last time – but Michael was on top of him, holding him down with a knee to his back.
Sam growled, Michael yelped, and Lucifer's back was abandoned.
He turned quick enough to watch the pair of them roll on the ground, but Sam was bigger and stronger and he was really drunk. He had fought in high school – trained to fight – and the instinct didn't die. Once he got Michael pinned down, he raised a fist. Lucifer stood and caught it just before Sam swung.
"Nonono, Sammy," Lucifer hugged Sam's right hand against his stomach, putting all of his weight into stopping that fist from breaking loose. "He wasn't going to hurt me. Remember? We're at Dean and Cas' bachelor party. Authenticity, remember?"
It took a long moment for Sam to blink, then he unclenched his fist. He looked down, and Michael was still under him, arm up to block his face, and Sam moved off of him, crawling a few feet away before throwing up. Lucifer didn't know if it was because of the alcohol or snapping out of a rage to find his friend under him. Michael let off a nervous laugh and pushed himself up so he was sitting. Lucifer knelt next to his boyfriend, rubbing his back. He could feel the muscles trembling, and at first, he thought Sam would be sick again. Then he realized he was crying.
The question Is Sam Winchester happy? was answered with a negative. Lucifer would do anything to fix that. Anything. Even if his brother ended up hating him. Even if he regretted it in the morning.
"No, Sam, please. It's okay. It's all okay now, right? I mean, Michael was joking; he wasn't going to break my arm again. And it was really hot the way you jumped in to save me. I always liked the idea of you being my knight in shining plaid, you know? And… and before we were interrupted, I wanted to say that you're my light too, Sam. You're the thing that makes me shine. Without you, I would have fizzled out and burned away. I die without you."
The younger man sat back on his heels, but kept his back facing Lucifer, letting the man rub the soothing circles over the muscles.
"Sam, listen. I am human, and I will let you down. But I hope so much more than that, I can lift you up the way you have always lifted me. And… and it hasn't been easy, but it's worth it for a knockout just like you."
At that, Sam did turn around with a small smile and said, "I'm thinking always of you too."
"Fuck," Lucifer's hand stopped moving, one hand fisting into his hair and rubbing it back against the grain. "Quoting songs. Okay, hang on, let me try again." Sam waited patiently, the small smile growing, but Lucifer was the one shaking now, like he had taken away all of Sam's worry in this botched speech, and he bit his lip and changed tactics. "Okay, never mind. You know in The Gambler when Nate sings 'I swear when I grow up, I won't just buy you a rose. I'll buy the flower shop and you will never be lonely.' That's what I want to do. I want to buy you a flower shop… no, not literally. But…"
Lucifer huffed again and closed his eyes, fingers digging into the material at Sam's back. "But I will not leave, I will not leave, 'til it's our time. So just take my hand, you know that I will never leave your side. Do you understand? Am I making any sense?"
Sam turned around, pushing Lucifer's hand out of his hair and smoothing it back down. The blond man leaned into his touch, keeping his eyes closed. "Yes, of course I understand. I love you too."
"Yes, that's what I mean. You're the love of my life. And… and…" When Lucifer put his hand into his pocket, Sam's eyes followed the movement. When he pulled out the box and opened it, Lucifer figured that if Sam's eyes were any bigger, they would probably explode. "And I want to spend the rest of my life with you… so… so will you spend the rest of yours with me?"
Sam took the ring from the box, trying to get a look at it in the darkness. "I don't know what to say."
"I really fucking hope you say yes, to be honest."
"No, I mean… you only quoted four songs during your proposal and I would have easily bet on more than five. Plus, Cas is going to murder you for popping the question two days before his wedding. And I'm going to murder you for popping the question two minutes after I puked," But Sam was grinning.
"Well, I can take it back and you can imagine this was all a big, drunken dream," Lucifer said, reaching out for the ring with his shoulders sagging, but Sam put it on his finger and moved his hand to where Lucifer couldn't reach it.
"It wouldn't be a surprise now. You blew it, so this is the memory you get to look back on forever and constantly regret it," Sam looked at his hand and how the ring fit on it. He couldn't stop smiling. "I have a ring for you, too. Asshole. Always stealing my thunder."
"Is that a yes?"
"Of course it's a yes," Sam cupped Lucifer's face in his hands. "I would kiss you but like I said… just threw up two minutes ago."
"I don't care," Lucifer said, trying to lean in, but Sam stood, offering his hand to his boyfriend – er, fiancé now – to help him up.
"I do," Sam looked around. Michael had disappeared, likely to tell everyone that Lucifer was proposing, and Sam kind of wanted to get out of there before a very drunk and very angry Castiel found them. "Make you a deal. Walk me home and let me brush my teeth first, then I'll show you exactly how much of a yes that is."
Finally, finally Lucifer felt himself smiling and exhaling the breath he had been holding. "Sorry I botched that. I just want to make you happy."
"You do, Luce," Sam pulled him into a hug, closing his eyes and standing with him under the stars. "And it was perfect."
Castiel's chest was slicked with sweat, but his back was on fire. Every spot where his body touched the body behind him there was a thin layer of perspiration. A forehead was placed between Castiel's bare shoulder blades, a hand protectively placed over his heart.
The sheets were expensive. Castiel could feel them against his bare hip and stomach. He wasn't sure why that seemed so important all of the sudden.
"Dean," he whispered to the darkness, but the man behind him groaned and let his hand slide lower, pressing against Castiel's hip with his fingers spreading wide over Castiel's bare thigh. The dark haired man moved too, reaching behind him to find the small of his fiancé's back. He held him still as he rolled himself back against the man, earning another groan and a kiss between his shoulder blades.
A wave of nausea hit Castiel, and he stilled his movements, opening his eyes to try to ground himself. He was surprised to see that he wasn't in the bed he had shared with Dean for the past several years. They weren't his sheets, and that was why Castiel's body had made note of it. They weren't his, but he recognized them all the same.
They were Crowley's sheets. He was in Crowley's basement.
For a second, terror overcame Castiel. His head was pounding, and he wasn't sure if he had dreamt the happy future with Dean. Castiel's body was trembling with effort, and he tried to pull away, but the body behind him kept them held together, digging his fingers into the soft flesh at Castiel's waist.
He didn't just dream those years, did he? He wasn't still an addict, still in bed with Crowley, was he? "Dean?" he asked again, voice shaking. This time, there was a sigh from behind him before another gentle kiss was placed against his shoulder blades.
"Wha's a'matter, Cas? Gonna be sick? Lemme put some clothes on and I'll help you walk to the bathroom."
And Castiel closed his eyes, thanking God and everything in existence that it was Dean's voice.
"No," Castiel whispered, fighting against his upset stomach and pounding head so that he could turn around and face his fiancé. Dean's eyes slid open just a sliver but they were black in the dark basement. He let a hand trail up Castiel's naked body to push his hair off his face, resting against his scalp, a tired, happy smile forming on his lips. "I'm fine, Dean. Perfectly fine."
"It's been years, Cas. I can tell when you're lying to me," But Dean just leaned forward, pressing his lips against the smaller man's. "In case you forgot, I put a bucket down at your side of the bed last night. Your brother's already going to be pissed we defiled a bed in his house. No need to add puking all over it to his threats too."
"How did I ever deserve to be with someone so good?" Castiel asked, letting his fingers rub up and down Dean's sides. The older man closed his eyes, wrapped an arm around Castiel's shoulders and dragged him closer. Castiel's face was buried in Dean's chest, and he noticed the bed didn't smell like Crowley anymore. It smelled like Dean and Castiel and sweat and sex, and that was perfectly okay with Castiel.
It was a much better smell.
"You've got a fine ass and you're a terrific lay," Dean pressed a kiss against his forehead. "I'm not good. I just want a trophy husband."
Castiel laughed, and he could feel the vibration of it pounding through his ribcage. Dean was giving a small, tired chuckle too. Castiel pressed a soft, open mouthed kiss close to Dean's nipple and the man holding him froze with anticipation. The dark haired man just grinned and said, "You're not so bad yourself, though."
Dean grinned and rolled away, checking his phone with a sigh. "It's just before six," he said, rolling back to Castiel, hand sliding over his hip to grope his fiancé. Castiel smiled into the pillow. "You remember last night at all? You were pretty adamant about how you wanted to be taken in the same spot someone else took you. Said all this stuff about washing away the memory with new ones. Couldn't really tell between the slurs and the moans," Dean chuckled and pressed forward, letting his hips and stomach push against Castiel's. "Seriously, you were pretty loud."
"I don't remember, really," Castiel murmured against Dean's collarbone. "Perhaps you will have to remind me…"
Castiel could still feel the ache in his muscles from the night before, and when Dean didn't push him to his back, Castiel took the initiative and rolled onto his fiancé. He sat up, sat back against his heels, hands pushing at Dean's knees. Dean opened his thighs to him, hips still pressed against the bed but the bottom of his thighs rested against the top of Castiel's and the dark haired man trailed his hand down the man's chest. He traced the contours of his abdominal muscles, thumb rubbing a small circle against his hipbone before gripping at Dean, letting his wrist give a long, slow pull. Dean hissed and arched against the sheets.
"Or perhaps we can make new memories, as I so eloquently put it the last night."
"Oh, seriously, Cassie? That sounds like a cheap line from Casa Erotica," Gabriel burst in through the Winchesters' garage door, a grin on his face. Kali was right behind him. He took one look at me – dutifully taking notes on the MacBook despite the full body blush that was threatening to make me combust – and started laughing. I frowned, dropped my hands away from the keyboard, and Castiel took a long, innocent drink from his cup.
It wasn't until he downed it and had to set it back down and couldn't manage to suppress his completely evil grin that I realized I was being ganged up on. They were pushing me – Sam had done it earlier, Castiel was doing it now – seeing how explicit I could get before I managed to embarrass myself. I wish I could say I found it humorous, but I was mostly pouting that they were playing a game with me.
"You don't think I can write a gay sex scene explicitly?" I asked.
"I think there are certain words which you avoid," Castiel said.
I typed something on the MacBook and turned it around to show him. He snorted. "See, I can totally write the word cock if that's what you want from me. To cheapen the beautiful epic down into the dirty details of sex." To emphasize, I highlighted and underlined the word.
"And you romanticize a bit."
"It's a love story, Castiel," I whined, looking to Gabriel for help. "Shouldn't everything be romantic?"
With nobody watching him, Gabriel had snuck a slice of pizza. It was already gone – if licking his fingers was any indication – so he abandoned the box and wrapped his arms around my shoulders from behind, hugging me to his chest. "Cassie, be nice to my roomie. Plus, if he's writing anything using the word cock, it better be about mine when he writes about the thrilling and epic marathon threesomes we have which he continues to deny."
I just sighed. Fucking Novaks.
"Let's just be really honest here," Sam said, leaning back in his chair. "I hear that they've got ropes and chains and stuff. The whole story would have been a lot different if they forced you to include that in at every turn."
"What do you mean you hear that we have that stuff?" Dean shot across the kitchen, frowning as he put some plates down next to the pizza.
"I mean I've literally heard you," Sam said. "And you're fucking loud."
I folded my arms and let my head drop into them. Fucking Winchesters.
"Oh, before I forget, how did you take the news of the engagement?" I asked Castiel, hitting enter so the curser was underneath the word cock before looking back up at him. "You weren't a bridezilla about it or anything, right?"
"Of course not," Castiel said, puffing out his chin and chest like he took personal offense to it. "I was happy for them."
I looked over at Sam, who smiled, shoving his shoulder into Castiel's. "He was cool about it. That next day after I got over my hangover he let us take engagement pictures in our tuxes in his back yard. The one of us on the swing was from that day, remember it?" Sam dug through the photos that were splayed out over the table. He held one out to me of the two of them sitting on the wood and rope swing hanging from the Winchesters' tree in their back yard. Sam's back was to the camera, Lucifer's front was, but they were both sitting on the swing, facing each other with grins on their faces. Lucifer was just in his vest and undershirt, but it was black and white. I couldn't tell the vest was blue. It was the photo I had looked at back in Sam's apartment all those months ago.
"Hey, look who I found," Lucifer said, walking in the garage door. Balthazar, Bela, and Byron were following him, but Sam stood and took the wiggling golden ball of fur from Lucifer's hands. The golden retriever was still a puppy – they'd only gotten him when they got back from their honeymoon – but he had giant paws. He was going to be a monster. Balthazar made a beeline for the pizza, and together he and Dean started dishing it out to the rest of the people.
Castiel bent down to unzip Byron's coat, but Bela told him to keep it on, so the man just picked up his nephew instead, holding him to his hip like a protective mother. Gabriel wouldn't release his hold on me; instead, he dropped his chin to my head and rested it there. His closeness didn't bother me like it used to. Sam and Lucifer were cooing over the puppy like it was a baby – their baby – and everyone just seemed so happy.
"Oh," Bela said, touching Castiel's arm with one hand, holding a plate of pizza with the other. "Mike and Hes are on their way, too."
"Nope," Michael called from the garage – why did nobody use the front door? – he entered with a case of soda in his arms. Hester had a bowl of salad. "We are here, too."
It was kind of funny, because Sam, Dean, Lucifer, and Castiel looked like they hadn't gotten much sleep last night. Sam and Dean weren't even out of their pajamas yet, but suddenly their house held every single member of the Novak clan who lived in Lawrence. I remembered when they fought constantly. I remember when they hated each other. But Dean and Castiel took to the invasion like impromptu gatherings happened all the time.
Because, honestly, they did.
"Okay," Bela said, waving her arms over her head. "It doesn't need any real preamble or anything. Byron just wanted to show you something." Once the rest of the family was looking over at her, she took her son from Castiel and sat him on the floor. "Go on, baby. Take off your coat."
The boy grinned up at his mother and fumbled with the zipper. Bela had to start it, and once he pulled the zipper down, he tugged the fleece off his shoulders and let it drop to the floor. He held the white t-shirt at the bottom, looking down at the letters which were upside-down to him. Even if they weren't, the boy knew how to write his first name. He couldn't read yet, anyway.
But everyone else could.
If I could read, I would know that I'm going to be a big brother.
The boy grinned at the cheers and applause like he had done something fantastic by taking off his jacket, even if Uncle Cassie threw his arms around his mommy and kissed her cheek. If Uncle Gabe turned and pulled his daddy tight into him, they must just be congratulating his parents on something amazing he did.
Nobody told Byron what his shirt said. He wouldn't know until after her first trimester, when her belly started getting just a little bit bigger than it had been.
After the congratulations were done, Bela went to the living room to start calling the family not present in Lawrence – Jimmy, Zachariah, Uriel, and Rafi – and the rest of them started eating. Gabriel waited until she was out of earshot until he punched his older brother's arm and said, "You still got Byron's HOTmilk stuff, or you need me to pick you up some more?"
Balthazar sat a slice of pizza in front of me, ignoring Gabriel's pregnant lingerie comment completely. He bit into his own slice, leaning over me to see the MacBook sitting on the table. He read a handful of words, most notably the capital and underlined word cock, and made a sympathetic face. "Didn't realize they were making you write their porno."
Dean sighed. "No, seriously, let's just jump right to the wedding."
"Oh, yes. Wedding porn," Lucifer grinned, taking a bite out of his pizza. He didn't wait to chew, he just kept talking. "I mean, who could forget that closet scene, amirite? But more importantly, my dress. Let me straight up tell you, my darling writer, that that dress continues to be the most used costume in mine and Sam's…"
"Lucifer," Gabriel snapped, wrapping his arms around me from behind again. His chest and stomach were pressed against my back, his warm breath pushing through my hair. "My sweet baby is not writing any more sexy time scenes unless it's our sexy time scenes. It isn't a competition because everyone knows we win in the end."
"Truth," Kali added.
"Please get off of me, Gabe," I said, shaking my shoulders, but he just held on tighter, putting his face in my hair. I had learned to deal with baby monkey Gabriel years ago; if I just left him alone and didn't mention my discomfort, he'd grow bored and leave me be. It didn't take long. There was pizza to eat, after all. "But yes, perhaps we could jump to the wedding? I mean, this was supposed to just be a bit of clarification, you know? Not a-whole-nother massive chapter. I've got a deadline, you know."
"Yeah, yeah," Lucifer said, "You were totally at the wedding, so you should be able to write this on your own anyway. Besides, the actual ceremony wasn't the good part. And you know that…"
When Lucifer stepped out of one of the Sunday school rooms, he looked back and forth to determine whether anyone was in the hall before stepping out. Rafi pushed his bare shoulders from behind and Jo was giggling, still pulling up her green dress and trying to tie it behind her back. Lucifer had seen his fair share of boobage (but half of it was his sister's boobage which wasn't all that awesome even if they still were pretty new, but Jo took his nine year commitment to Sam to mean that he didn't have eyes and even though she was laughing now, she had smacked him across the face when he commented on her figure when she dropped trou right in front of him like no big deal) in his quest to piss his brother off on his wedding day. And he was pretty traumatized, to be completely honest. And to be even more completely honest, he couldn't really believe that he once went to cushiony deposits of fat instead of a trimmed and lean chest like Sam's but…
("Jesus Christ," Gabriel yelled, hitting Lucifer across the Winchesters' dining room table. "Just get on with it.")
Rafi reached out to adjust the clip in Lucifer's hair, smiling at him. "You're actually really attractive," she said. "But you have manly shoulders."
"Well, I'm a guy, so…" Lucifer said, grinning, and smoothing the material down over his stomach. "Alright. I'll see you in ten if Cas doesn't kill me." Rafi just nodded and shut the door behind her. Lucifer turned and walked toward the music coming from down the hall.
Dean hadn't cared about the location – he hadn't had strong preferences about almost anything except the colors – and when Castiel had suggested a church, Dean agreed even though he wasn't religious. Either way, Michael's church had been more than happy to accommodate the happy couple.
Michael's church, which he preached at every Sunday, was massive. Even when Lucifer used to go here before he was cast out of his family, he never realized how big it was. And Michael – being a music teacher – had extended the music repertoire even more. In fact, Lucifer had no idea how his twin brother managed to fulfill all of the responsibilities of a teacher, a reverend, and co-founder of the school's LARPing club along with Dean and Charlie. How could he possibly have a life outside of that? Anyway, Lucifer was thankful for it now, because in the hallway he could hear the piano being played from the choir's practice room down the hall, and he knew where to find his brother.
After pushing the door open, Lucifer took a moment to watch Castiel. It had been no secret that he was building up to a panic. He had spent the night at Balthazar's the night before because he wanted to keep from seeing Dean before the wedding, and twice Lucifer had caught him crying during the movies Balthazar and Rafi had picked out for him.
And not during the sad parts.
When Castiel was getting dressed this morning, he was silent, and after being stuck in the room for an hour to keep him from stumbling into Dean, he finally left for some alone time to clear his thoughts.
He wasn't alone now.
Castiel was playing the old piano, and Gabriel was dancing with Claire around the room. They were singing "Everybody wants to be a cat" from the Aristocats, and it wasn't all that often that Castiel let himself go enough to play jazz, so Lucifer stood in the door and watched.
Gabriel's green vest and tie were poking out behind his suit jacket, even though Claire's white flower girl dress covered most of his chest. The girl had her arms around her older brother's shoulders with a look of affection and love that only young kids can truly display. Claire sought Gabriel out at all of their family events; the brother closest in age to her was obviously her favorite.
It wasn't until Gabriel turned around and looked up that he caught sight of Lucifer in the doorway. He grinned, hoisted Claire up from where she was getting heavy and slipping down, and said, "Hey, sexy lady. Want to defile a church with me?"
Lucifer rolled his eyes, putting one hand on his hip and sticking it out the way he saw Rafi do it when she was angry. "You gonna put up or shut up, big boy?"
Castiel turned around at that, horror draining the color from his face, and his fingers skipped against wrong notes. He pushed the stool back, having manners enough to stand in front of a lady even when that lady was his brother. He turned to face Lucifer and said, "We promised no incestuous comments at my wedding. Though to be honest, I had expected them from Michael, not you, Gabriel."
"Using my full name," Gabriel said, grinning down at Claire. "I'm in trouble."
"Let's go look at the flowers, Gabey," Claire said, agreeing and looking for an out. Gabriel sat her down, but she took the man's hand instantly, dragging him out of the room. As she left, she did say, "You look really beautiful, Luci," which caused Gabriel to start giggling. Lucifer walked into the room and shut the door behind him.
The halter-top dress went past his knees, and he had flats on in the same shade of blue as the dress. His hair was wavy and had a barrette in it, like the flappers from the twenties did, because it was the only style he knew he could do with his hair this short. He took two steps into the room, toward his brother, but Castiel turned back to the piano.
"You can't wear that," Castiel said, pushing down the middle C key mindlessly. "You better've brought your tux."
"Rafi can wear a dress."
"Rafi is a woman, Lucifer. You're my best man."
"What's wrong, Cas?" Lucifer asked, putting his hands on his brother's shoulders, pressing his thumbs on opposite sides of his spine and rubbing. Castiel sighed, breaking down at the contact.
"I can't do this," he said, letting his hand crash on the keys. The angry sound rang out around the room before falling still again. "I have doubts – massive doubts – and I have fears."
"Like what?" Lucifer asked, still rubbing at his brother's back. Castiel sighed once more.
"I'm not good enough. I'm not even whole. I've cheated on Dean before, and I… I'm not what's best for him. Dean would be happier with someone more stable or with a partner who could give him a biological child. I fear he only asked me to marry him because we've been dating pretty much since high school. We've always been together, so why not just continue? I fear he's settling for me," Castiel hit another key to mask the sound of his sniffle. "I fear he is making a mistake, and I will let him down."
Lucifer's arms pressed passed Castiel's shoulders, holding his brother back against his chest. He ran his thumbs under Castiel's eyes, wiping away the tears even though his brother tried to flinch away and swat at his hands. Then Lucifer just held him. "Those seem like doubts, you're right. But you don't doubt that you love him; they are doubts because you do love him. And those aren't really doubts… they're more like qualms."
Castiel snorted, but said nothing for a long moment. He just pushed his back closer to his brother's chest. When he finally did speak, he was so quiet that Lucifer wouldn't have heard him at all if he hadn't been so close to his brother. "Do you have any reservations about marrying Sam?"
"You know I do," Lucifer said. "I share your fears. Sam is my everything – as Dean is yours – and I would leave in a moment if I thought anyone could treat him better than I can. But you aren't broken, Castiel. And neither am I. And if we were to leave the Winchesters, they could end up with people who don't appreciate and love them like we do. I promise to always love him, and always show him that I love him. I always try to make him happy, and as long as he's happy, I'm allowed to indulge in him. I'm allowed to stay with him."
"He loves you, too," Castiel reminded his brother, reaching up a hand to cover Lucifer's where it had settled over his brother's heart. "He would want you happy, too."
"Dean is the same," Lucifer said, smiling down at his brother. "It's funny, how those Winchesters are."
Castiel nodded, and for another moment he was silent, gripping his brother's hand before playing out a few chords on the piano. It was his and Dean's song, and Lucifer grinned, letting go of the man and taking a step back.
"But you still should change out of the dress, Lucifer," Castiel said, turning around to face him. "Although Claire was right. You're a pretty convincing woman. Or you would be, if your shoulders were smaller."
"Go fuck yourself," Lucifer said. "I look fantastic. I bet you I could totally get laid by one of Dean's party guys in this."
"Yeah, well Sam doesn't count and we already said no incest at my wedding," Castiel smiled. "So good luck with Bobby."
Lucifer thought about it for a minute, before making a face and saying, "Balls." Castiel was laughing when Lucifer left the room to change into his tux.
Dean was adjusting his tie in the mirror when the door opened. He raised his eyes to look up at the intruder in the mirror. His father cleaned up well in a suit, which was kind of a huge relief because Bobby looked like a lumberjack dressed up as a really ornery James Bond for Halloween and Dean didn't need to deal with both of them looking like a mess.
John must have seen the relief on his face because he extended his arms and said, "I know, right?"
Dean got his tie right and dropped his hands to his sides. John fidgeted with the hem of his jacket, and Dean knew this was a meaningful moment. In movies, this would be the part where his dad would come in to tell him he was proud of him (even though he was marrying a man and would likely not pass on his genes the way he would be if he was marrying a woman). He could almost imagine hearing the things John could say about raising Sam while he was gone off being an alcoholic, or about how it was the best decision of his life to forgive Castiel for his mistake, or how he was damn proud Dean was a fucking teacher – changing the lives of kids like him – after all the shit Dean went through in high school.
Because Dean was proud of himself. Sometimes, he thought back of the shitstorm that was his senior year of high school. He was going to quit the first day because of algebra and chemistry. And fuck if Dean remembered a single thing about chemistry – though he did know the symbols of a handful of elements and he would rock the elemental spelling categories on Jeopardy if Castiel was drinking or in the kitchen when the question was asked – but he helped his students with algebra a lot during study halls. Then after his first day, he found himself in a relationship with another dude. Then, that dude was selling drugs in the park to get money for his brother's gang. Bonus: that dude had a serious addiction to some hardcore drugs. Not enough? Triple word score because he was also selling himself for money to bail John out of jail. No, wait, no. The icing on the cake was finding that dude carved to hell in his fucking bathtub from a self-inflicted wound.
Dean had a shitty year, and somehow after that, he decided to be a teacher. He decided to ask Castiel to move in with him, to marry him, to raise kids with him.
Dean was fucking proud of where he'd come from that boy who couldn't afford to buy his brother a bag of chips in the vending machine back then. And when he caught his father's eye in the mirror, Dean knew he was proud of him too. It was in the awkward way John held his gaze, the way he shifted from foot to foot, and the way he cleared his throat and looked away.
"It's a nice day, huh?"
"Yeah," Dean said, turning around to face his father. "Glad it didn't rain."
"Yeah, me too," John said, looking up with a grin on his face. "Let's go find Jo and Gabe. It's time to get the pictures done. I can't believe I have two sons and they're getting married a little over a year apart. At least I never have to dress up again."
"You're lucky. Cas has four unmarried brothers and two unmarried sisters. That's six freaking weddings I have to go to."
"And I'll only have to be at one of them," John grinned, opening the door and leading his son out into the hall.
As soon as Castiel was done taking a slew of pictures with everyone but Dean, he went back to the practice room to play the piano. Of course, he was never left alone for long.
Castiel heard the knock on the door. He yelled over his shoulder for the intruder to come in, but kept pressing down the chords. For a moment, just before the knock, he had been taken back to the time he had played this song on the grand piano in Crowley's house – back when it was Crowley's house and Crowley's piano – and he imagined looking away from the piano to his friend.
In the middle of the living room, Crowley had his hands in his mother's, twisting them and dancing, laughing. After she had told Castiel about Anna's suicide, about how his eldest brothers were adopted, she became a fixture in Castiel's life. He laid in her lap, letting her run her fingers through his hair. He danced with her and sang with her. He shot up with her, once or twice. They never shared a needle of course, but there was something that made a person feel undeniably close to another when they were injecting the same poison.
Castiel could feel Crowley's front pressing against his back as he sat at the piano. He could remember the grin on his own face when the older boy pressed his pointer finger under Castiel's chin, angling his head up toward him. He could feel the joint between his lips, held by Crowley's sure fingers. He could hear Crowley breathing the exhaled smoke and carbon dioxide above him from where Castiel had blown the puff out in his direction. Not really shot-gunning, but almost.
Behind them, Mrs. Crowley was spinning in circles, singing along with Castiel's playing. "I feel so close to you right now…"
"Hey, Castiel. I wanted to give you this before the wedding," came Phil's voice from behind him. Castiel stopped playing, and he turned around in his seat to look at his friend. He had two boxes in his hands, but there was a small smile on his face. "Ant used to listen to that song on repeat after his mother died. He said he had good memories of her with it."
"He did, I think," Castiel said, standing up.
"And memories of you too," Phil said, tilting his head to the side, giving the man a small smile at the same time as a knowing look.
Castiel nodded, keeping his eyes attached to the box, it was easier than meeting the other man's gaze. It was hard, after Castiel got out of Grace, for him to look at Dean and not think of how he betrayed him. It was hard for him to look at Crowley and know that they used to be intimate. Both of those went away with time – at least to a certain extent – but the awkward twinge he felt in his chest hadn't gone away with Phil entirely.
Castiel and Phil knew so much about each other because Crowley had grown into the sharing type over the years. It would have been weird the first time Phil had gotten Castiel's favorite drink at a bar during a visit, if Castiel didn't know Phil's favorite drink from one of Crowley's letters. That knowledge paired with the strange guilt that he couldn't control that made Castiel want to apologize for sleeping with his boyfriend a couple of years before they even got together.
Phil switched gifts, holding the bottom one out to Castiel and keeping the other against his chest. "I found a 1955 first-edition set of The Lord of the Rings books a couple of years ago. I have been saving them for Dean, but you were harder to buy for."
"You got Dean…" Castiel took his own box, eyeing the one that Phil kept in his hands. "That's… Phil, he's looked into the first sets of the trilogy. Those are way too expensive to give someone as a wedding present."
"I run a book shop, Castiel," Phil frowned. "Of course I know their worth. But because I run a book shop and other people don't, they often don't realize the treasure they old in their hands. This set was given to me by a man whose father had passed away. They were at the bottom of a box that he sold to me for almost nothing."
"So you could turn a huge profit," Castiel started, but Phil shook his head.
"No, Castiel. Dean deserves these. He has been nothing but kind to me every time he sees me, even though I was an outsider. He treated me like family when I visited, even though I would have expected him to hate me as an extension of his hate for Anthony," Phil turned away. "But he doesn't even hate Anthony. Hate is so easy, Castiel. Yet, Dean chooses to forgive. Anthony had carried around the guilt of what the two of you did to Dean for so long, but he is much lighter now. Happier. And Dean deserves everything from me as a reward for his compassion. And you, Castiel, have been a great friend to us both."
Castiel looked down at the gift, pulling at the paper, before opening the box. He almost dropped it, but managed to keep a hold of the leather and let the box crash to the floor. He ran his fingers over the old text before carefully opening to the middle. "Phil, this is…"
"Yes," Phil said, smiling. "Very old."
"It's in Italian."
"You can read Italian," Phil stated. It wasn't a question. He just knew. "I thought I would give this copy of The Divine Comedy to your brother when he got married, but Anthony informed me he couldn't read Italian, so I'm looking for a text on medieval music for him. I have a beautiful Bible that Sam would love…"
"Why us?" Castiel asked, looking at the book in his hands. "Why them, too? What's so special about us?"
"I have no family, and Anthony's family does not appreciate books. We don't have many friends, either. Both of us are always working. You and Lucifer were always friends to him, and Dean and Sam have always treated me like family."
"Yeah," Castiel agreed. "It's funny how those Winchesters are."
"And soon, you will be a Winchester too," Phil said. "You are both very lucky men."
"Thank you, Phil," Castiel approached him slowly, like he wasn't sure if hugging was appropriate or not. After a moment's hesitation, the smaller man opened his arms, and Castiel wrapped his arms around him. "For everything."
The door barged open and the pair of them separated, looking at the door. Of course it was Crowley with a huge grin on his face, looking like his single biggest fantasy was coming to life. "Oi, the wedding's starting soon. Shouldn't you both be somewhere else?"
"I wanted to give him the book," Phil said, holding Dean's box to his chest.
"Yes, thank you for these," Castiel said, but Crowley just smirked.
"Those are just from him. I got you something else. Well, I got Dean something mostly, since he had the common decency to invite me. But I suppose you might enjoy it as well," Crowley said. Castiel shot a look at Phil, but the mild mannered man had certainly picked up a few things from Crowley. His smile turned just a bit wicked, and he walked forward, taking Crowley's arm. "And you might want to get downstairs. Twenty minutes to go. Wouldn't want them to start the happy day without you."
Castiel let the pair of them leave before he picked up his book and carried it back to the room he'd changed in. There were clothes thrown all over the room – Rafi and Meg's pajamas, Jo's jeans, and the dress Lucifer had been wearing earlier – but the bridesmaids and the best man were nowhere to be seen.
Castiel sat the book down on the counter over the clothes he had been wearing when he showed up. He still had twenty minutes, he thought as he walked out of the room. They wouldn't miss him just yet.
Dean was back in the room again, looking out the church window. It wasn't far from the Novak's old house, and if he had a window facing south instead of west, he would be able to see it. He was thumbing through The Fellowship of the Ring carefully, trying his hardest not to do any damage to the priceless book.
He would have cried if Crowley hadn't been there.
Thank fucking God that Crowley had been there.
Dean tried to give it back, but Phil had frowned, yelled, "What the hell is it with you bloody Americans and your inability to accept a gift?" and stormed out.
Crowley had winked and said, "Wait 'til you see what I got you," before following the man down to the church.
So Dean was sitting there, waiting for Sam to get him for the ceremony – fifteen minutes – when he heard voices yelling down the hall. It wasn't all that strange, really. Lucifer and Meg had been yelling at almost everyone all morning, reminding them all to get ready and be where they were supposed to be. Sam took a laissez-faire approach to his best man duties, which mostly meant apologizing whenever Lucifer ruffled feathers.
What a match they were.
But then he heard Sam yell, "What do you mean he isn't in the choir room?"
"I mean," Lucifer yelled back from down the hall. "That he isn't in the fucking choir room, Sam. He isn't in the changing room. He isn't at the sanctuary. I don't know where Cas is."
"Well he was just with Crowley like, two seconds ago so he couldn't be far," Sam yelled. "You check the garden. I'll check with Michael and see if he's seen him."
Dean heard the pair of them run off in opposite directions, and for a solid twenty seconds, Dean stood with his hand on the door, listening to the sound of his blood rush in his ears and feeling his pulse pound against his neck.
Castiel was not running away. He wasn't. He just managed to misplace himself moments before their wedding.
That was it.
"Shit," Dean hissed, throwing the door open and stomping off down the hall.
He checked the room where the girls had changed and found the book Phil must have given him. He wouldn't run away – not with Crowley – not with Phil here, not right after the man had given him such a thoughtful present.
Dean checked the choir room. He checked the garden, and he checked sanctuary. And his palms weren't sweating. They totally weren't, okay, because Castiel wasn't running away. He was just making himself scarce like he planned on.
Oh, Christ, where was Castiel?
Dean burst into the kitchen, expecting to see it empty because all the catering would happen back at Balthazar's house for the reception, but Dean let out a huge sigh of relief when he spotted his fiancé looking in the refrigerator like he was at home and bored and looking for something to munch on. "Oh, thank God."
Castiel turned and looked at Dean, shutting the door as a smile grew on his face. Dean felt himself being looked over. After a moment, Castiel breathed, "wow," but Dean was rushing on the man, throwing his arms around Castiel's shoulders, keeping their bodies pressed tight. For a moment, Castiel froze, but his arms quickly wound their way around his fiancé's hips and he said, "We aren't supposed to see each other yet."
"Sam and Lucifer couldn't find you," Dean murmured against Castiel's neck, his lips coming into contact with the shorter man's skin with each passing word. "Just thought I'd come looking so you wouldn't be late."
"Late to my own wedding?" Castiel asked, pushing Dean's hips away. The man took the hint and moved back, hand clinging at Castiel's in an attempt to keep contact. Castiel's eyes were shining with tears, but his voice was holding strong, as he looked over his fiancé in his wedding clothes. "I believe they have to wait for me. You look incredible. You parted your hair to the side."
And, swear to God, Dean wasn't going to cry at his own stupid wedding. He knew Castiel's suit would be almost the same as his, and he had no doubts about marrying his best friend. He wasn't nervous, and he wasn't going to be a chick about it. But there was something about seeing Castiel tear up just looking at him, just thinking of the fact they'd be bound by law for the rest of their lives got to Dean. He looked down, desperate to hide it from Castiel and replied, "You like my hair like this. What are you doing in here?"
"Looking for the cake," Castiel said, somewhat distracted as he ran his hands over Dean's shoulders. Then over his collarbones. Then down his chest, fingers pressing into the fabric like if he pressed hard enough, he could actually feel the skin underneath. "I wanted to sample a bite, but now…"
"Cake's at Bale's," Dean said, feeling a bit warmer under the collar from Castiel's appraisal of his body. "We'll be eating it soon."
"Do you remember when I was angry with you for inviting Anthony to the wedding?" Castiel asked, fingers tracing over the button of Dean's vest, not popping it out of its hole, but moving like it wanted to.
"Yeah, it was like… not that long ago."
"Do you remember the terms under which I relinquished my anger?" Castiel asked, eyes still trained on Dean's stomach. "I said after I took your name, I would then take you. Do you remember that, Dean?"
Dean was having a hard time thinking about much of anything but his fiancé's fingers and the look of hunger on his face. He swallowed hard – more of a gulp if Dean was honest with himself – and tried to meet the man's eye. Castiel wouldn't allow the contact. He didn't look up and Dean knew he wouldn't until he answered. He was breathless when he whispered, "Yes."
"I fear I will not be able to wait that long –"
"Cas, it's like fifteen minutes."
"– and as compensation, I will give you back our first time as married couple. If you let me have now."
"Right now?" Dean practically whined, but his hands were on his own belt, fumbling with the buckle even as he protested with words. "We don't have much time."
"It is our wedding, Dean," Castiel pushed Dean's sloppy hands from his belt, unlatching it and slipping the button behind it through the hole and tugging down his fly in three efficient movements. "They have to wait for us."
"Fuck, Cas," Dean groaned, letting Castiel push him from the middle of the kitchen to the doorway off to the side, half hidden behind the refrigerator.
"That is the idea, yes."
"We're in a church," Dean's back hit the door and it sounded more painful than it felt. Castiel scowled at the obstacle, hands finding the doorknob behind Dean and turning it. Dean stumbled in the room backwards. The room was small. He really couldn't lie out flat on his back, and if he got on his hands and knees, Castiel wouldn't be able to fit behind him on his knees. It wasn't until he looked up and noticed the flour and the canned goods, and he swore to himself again. "We're in a pantry in a church."
"This is an act of love, Dean," Castiel said, working at unbuttoning his own pants, wasting no time pushing them down with his underwear and kicking off his shoes so he could remove them. He folded them and placed them on one of the shelves to the right. "Love is always praised. Now, please take your pants off. I don't want to risk a mess. It will make the photographs awkward."
"Christ, Cas," Dean said, scrambling to get naked from the waist down in record time. He barely shoved his clothes on top of Castiel's before he felt Castiel pushing the shirt, vest, and suit up his back, exposing him. Dean helped him by bunching it up around his armpits the best he could, hands flat on the wall to brace himself while still standing upright, letting Castiel take control from behind. He felt a cool, slick finger press against him and he hissed. Of course his boy scout of a fiancé was prepared. "Oh, Christ."
"Perhaps, though, you should lay off the blasphemy this time. Just in case physical love in a church is a form of sacrilege."
"It is, Cas," Dean groaned, extending his arms just a bit so he could push back into Castiel's finger, arching his back. "It so totally is, but fuck if it's not hot. You all prepared and all."
"I did not anticipate being able to resist you for long," Castiel murmured against the suit jacket still covering Dean's back. "Although, I would have bet money on lasting until the limo ride to the reception."
"Look at you," Dean breathed, a humorless chuckle barely coming out over a low moan. "Taking charge, all prepared, even a bit of dirty talking. This must be a special day."
Castiel removed his finger and pressed two in, as a reward or a punishment, Dean had no idea. Dean had enough space between him and the wall to hang his head, biting his lip to stop the slew of curses. For a moment, the pantry was filled with almost silence. The exception was their breathing – Dean's sharp intakes and Castiel's steady exhales – but then Castiel used his foot to push Dean's leg out, spreading them. When the dark haired man started pushing at the back of Dean's knee to get him to bend it and pulling at his thigh, Dean made another loud sound at the change in the angle and pressure.
"Put your foot up on the lowest shelf," Castiel said, and Dean did as he was told, pushing cans out of his way on the shelf that was a foot and a half up from the ground, spreading his legs and bending his knee to expose himself further to the man behind him.
"Freaking crazy for it, Cas," Dean breathed out, always trying to regain some upper hand, even from the bottom. "Like you were starving." It had only been a couple of minutes, but Castiel pulled back, pushing a third finger in. This time, Dean couldn't quite play off the burn, the stretch, he wasn't quite ready for. His shoulder shook, and his fingers spread out against the wall, trying to keep himself braced and upright. The sound, which he would deny until his final breath, was too high pitched, just on this side of painful, and the answering sound Castiel gave him was so primal that it made his stomach flutter.
"Oh, my apologies, Dean," Castiel groaned into his shoulder blades. His voice was dripping with sarcasm and lust, and Dean didn't whine at the sound of it. He totally didn't. "I thought you were adequately prepared, considering your mouth."
"You love my mouth."
"I love it more if it is too full to form coherent words."
"Oh, fucking hell, Cas."
"Are you ready or are you going to be a bitch about it?" Castiel asked, pressing his fingers against the gland and swear to God, Dean almost lost it.
There were things that Dean didn't know about himself until he had met Castiel. For example, that this could feel awesome at all. And Dean had always known he sort of liked the borderline shaming dirty talk when he watched Busty Asian Beauties, but he'd never thought he'd like to hear himself be shamed. He would have never thought that another man, three fingers deep, calling him a bitch would get to him like it did, but oh, Christ did it get to him.
Especially in Castiel's deep voice. Especially half insane with his own desire, but despite the taunt, he was still stretching Dean because he knew. After so many years, Castiel knew the give and take of Dean's body. He knew how much preparation it would take to be one side of painful or the other. Even after the taunt, Castiel spent more than enough time with Dean, to make sure he wouldn't hurt him, pressing kisses against his back and complaining about how he wished they had the time to be naked, so he could press their skin together, bite him and mark him because soon… soon Dean would be his.
And it was the deep, possessive, "Mine," that had Dean whimpering, using his arms and hips to push back against Castiel's fingers.
"Seriously, you've got to hurry, Cas, or else…" but Dean never got to finish his sentence. The fingers were pulled from his body so quickly, he almost would have thought Castiel had been grabbed by the shoulder and ripped away, but it only took another second of fumbling – audible hissing and the sound of the small, plastic bottle hitting one of the pantry's wooden shelves – before Dean felt the press of Castiel between him. The man hand a death grip low on Dean's hip, where his hip met his leg and it was better to expose himself and offer more room for Castiel, and Dean breathed in with anticipation.
The first push was easier with his lungs filled with air, and Castiel knew that. He waited for the inhale, and Dean let the breath escape – steady and even over his parted lips – as Castiel moved into him.
Oh, Christ, Dean thought, because thinking was totally different than saying it aloud. By the time Castiel had pushed fully into him, Dean was sweating. He could feel it in his pores, like his sweat glands were crying from exertion, and when Castiel used his free hand to run up his spine; Dean felt the way the man's palm moved without resistance.
Christ, he was going to soak through his shirt and that was going to be impossible to hide later on.
He was given a moment's notice before Castiel started to move in him. His fiancé's hand left Dean's back so he could push his own shirt and suit jacket up his torso, careful of making a mess. The first drag out was always something incredible – like Dean's body was clinging to Castiel and trying to keep him in there at any cost – but against rationality, the push back in was so much smoother.
It had always been like that. It never mattered how quickly or roughly Castiel thrust back inside the man, the discomfort almost always came from the pull out. But it was also so fucking good.
Especially like this. Dean's hands were on the wall like he was getting frisked or something, pressing back so his elbows locked. It was safer than relying on his biceps – which would inevitably give out and slam his face against the wall – and he could feel his shoulder blades popped from his back, the arch in his lower back would be throbbing with effort if the pair of them managed to last another five and a half minutes. His leg was up, angled, with enough give in his posture so he could push back to meet his fiancé's thrusts.
And Castiel was divine. He knew the tempos Dean liked, he knew the build of it, and he knew the places on Dean's hips and thighs to press his thumbs and fingers into hard enough to make the man cry out. He knew Dean's body like he had built it himself from scratch, knitting together the flesh and the muscle and keeping intimate knowledge of the most sensitive parts. He knew instinctively when to slow down or speed up, when to go shallow or deep.
Or like now, he knew when they were getting close, and his arm slid around to Dean's front, fingers closing around Dean, and all the man could do in response to it was hang his head and let out a moan far too loud for a church.
It didn't take long, less than a minute after Castiel took him in his hand, Dean would bet, before his fingers bunched into fists on the wall, and he felt his body tense before his release. It was like some huge hand was grabbing over his entire body and squeezing, he could feel the strain of it in his arms and back and even in his feet. Another couple of seconds passed, where Dean's knees and arms fought to keep him upright, and he felt Castiel still behind him, breathing out the sound of his own release.
There were a few heartbeats that passed with no movement. When Castiel did finally slip free, Dean bowed his back, trying to work out the kinks that had already started to settle there. Despite what everyone thought, he wasn't a teenager anymore. Simple aches and pains were the worst part about growing up.
Before Dean was even completely back in his head, he could feel the tissue on him, and he let his elbows unlock, bringing his forehead to rest against the pantry wall. "You had tissues in your pocket too?" Dean asked, smiling stupidly into the wall. "What else you got back there for us to use?"
"It's a wedding, Dean. Nobody would ask why I had tissues in my pocket. Most people would assume a few tears on the happiest day of a person's life is quite normal."
Castiel, being the angel he was, even helped Dean step into and pull up his pants. Once Dean turned around, he couldn't help grinning at Castiel's state of disarray. There was no way in hell they'd be able to hide what they were doing.
Castiel tucked in Dean's shirt and did up his pants and belt while Dean tried to fix Castiel's hair into some semblance of order. The smaller man started cleaning himself off and working himself back into his clothes. Dean was putting his shoes back on, still eyeing the other man. Castiel threw away what could be tossed and pocketed the little bottle sitting on the stand. Once they tidied up the room a bit, nobody would have ever guessed they were there (without a black-light). And they even managed to clean up themselves too, well enough to fool most of the people at the wedding.
Sam and Lucifer? No fucking way. But hopefully those dickheads would keep it to themselves until after the actual ceremony.
Once they were dressed, Dean eyed his fiancé. The man was looking at his watch, a small frown on his face. "Our wedding should be starting right now."
"We're late?" Dean asked, reaching around Castiel to grab for the door. Castiel caught his wrist, a smile forming on his lips.
"I told you, it is our wedding and they have to wait for us," The smile on Castiel's face grew into something wide and beautiful and loving, and then Castiel's hands found Dean's shoulders. For a second, he kept them there, feeling the strong muscles hidden under his jacket. The slid up the side of his neck, thumbs on his jaw, angling the man's face toward him. "I apologize, Dean. In my haste, I do not think I told you how handsome you look in your suit. You're right. That shade of green really brings out your eyes."
"Crowley helped," Dean said, dropping his eyes down to Castiel's vest and tie which were the same in every way except the color. "And I mean, your blue is…"
"Anthony helped with mine as well," Castiel said, hands still on Dean's face. For once, the mention of his best friend's name didn't trigger the guilt. His smile didn't falter. He kept looking at Dean, and Dean knew he wasn't thinking about anyone else but the two of them, there and then in that moment. "I would also like to apologize that in my haste, I forgot to kiss you."
"Hasty, hasty," Dean whispered, eyes rising from the man's chest to his lips. He licked his own – completely subconsciously – in anticipation.
"Might I now?"
So Castiel did. He guided Dean in, and it wasn't more than a press of the lips. It was chaste and loving, somewhat in contrast to what they had just been doing, but fuck if Dean cared about any of that. Fuck if he cared about anything right then.
"Let's not keep them waiting anymore," Dean murmured against his fiancé's lips.
So Dean took Castiel's hand and led him out of the pantry, out of the kitchen, and back into the hall, making his way toward the sanctuary. It would have been perfect, a nice little private reason to start the wedding a few minutes late, if everyone wasn't waiting out there: the groomsmen and bridesmaids on both sides and both best men. Eight of their friends were in the hall, leaning against the wall, looking mildly bored but grinning once the couple came into view.
Dean groaned instantly, knowing what was about to happen.
"Sometimes…" Sam started.
Lucifer sang, "Aaa-oo-OO-oh."
"… something beautiful happens in this world…"
"…And you don't know how to express yourself so…"
"And Lonely Island!"
"…You gotta sing."
All eight of them – Gabriel, Jo, and Bobby on Dean's side, Rafi, Balthazar, and Meg on Castiel's, including Sam and Lucifer, of course – started singing way too loudly for a church: "I just had sex and it felt so good!"
Before they (or worst, Castiel) could continue on, Dean just gripped his fiancé's hand and tugged him through the crowd of them. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's just get this wedding back on track."
And besides a few snickers, it seemed like the joke died down quick enough. Well, besides the high five Lucifer gave Castiel, but you know what, fuck the Novaks.
At least, that was the Winchesters' motto in life.
I didn't really like the smug look on Dean's face, his arms crossed, as he looked over at Sam and Lucifer. The pair of them were frowning, like they were planning on adding another scene later on so they could one-up Dean and Castiel. The four of them started bickering with each other, so I scrolled up through my notes, running a hand through my hair, feeling way too hot, even with the air conditioner on.
Gabriel had finally abandoned my back, but he was sitting next to me at the table, his mouth closing around a Milky Way, frowning at my notes. I watched his eyes dance across the MacBook, frowning and chewing, and I wondered if he knew he had caramel smeared over his lips.
After a moment, Gabriel looked up at me and smiled. "You didn't use the word cock."
I tugged my t-shirt away from my chest, frowning at the table. God, couldn't they feel how freaking hot it was in here? "Can we seriously just get back to the wedding?"
It actually took another couple of minutes before they could walk down the aisle. Rafi and Meg cleaned the grooms up just a bit more, so the guests would never guess why the wedding started late, but soon enough, Castiel was standing just outside the doors, his brothers and sisters and friends pairing up for their walk down the aisle.
Luckily, they all managed to pair themselves off and get into an order.
Castiel had wanted everyone paired off based on their sex, but Gabriel and Balthazar threw a fit. At first, Castiel thought it was because they both wanted to walk Jo down the aisle and not their sister, but Dean came back from a lunch date with Gabriel and begged Castiel to let the brothers walk down together.
Castiel had gotten a little annoyed, trying to claim tradition rules, but Dean just frowned and said, "Wasn't too long ago that we couldn't even get married, Cas. Who cares about tradition?"
And the way Gabriel and Balthazar were fighting each other for who was threading whose arm through the other's elbow, Castiel begrudgingly agreed with Dean, even if he did hiss, "You don't need to touch each other at all. Just walk side by side."
Rafi and Jo were giggling behind them – the Novak girl in blue, the Harvelle girl in green – with matching bouquets with both colors in their hands. And behind them, Meg was actually behaving. She had called him the day after their bachelor party and apologized, but she hung up before Castiel could ask her what she was apologizing for. Dean wouldn't tell him what she had done either. All he said was that he had talked to her. Whatever he said must have worked because she was running around like it was her wedding, making sure everyone was doing exactly what they were supposed to be.
She gripped Bobby's arm with a smile. She was terrifying.
For a moment, Castiel watched as Lucifer got on his knees in his spot after Bobby and Meg and before the flower girl and ring bearer to fix Samandriel's tie. Just behind them, Sam listening to Claire talk about how Michael's church said she couldn't throw flowers, but Rafi and Jo made her a nice bouquet just like theirs.
And even though his heart was clenching in his chest – he was happy and excited and nervous all at once – he couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. Someone was missing. And when he realized who it was, whom he was missing, he couldn't help but feel alone and empty.
The music changed, and Castiel stood with Dean, watching as Gabriel and Balthazar make a mockery of themselves as they walked down the aisle together, holding hands and pretending to cry. Castiel crossed his arms over his chest. It felt wrong now. It felt off. And it wasn't because his brothers had insisted of making fools of themselves.
There was no father walking a bride down the aisle. And Castiel had never figured he'd get married, but even when he had the audacity to hope, it had always been to a man. If he was honest, it was always to Dean. There were never brides in his fantasy – nobody was ever given away – and Dean and Castiel had talked about it. Castiel didn't want Jimmy to give him away because that would imply that Jimmy had owned him or had any real say in what Castiel chose to do in his life. Dean took one look at his father and shook his head. He loved his dad, but no way in fucking hell was he going to be embarrassed walking arm and arm with the ex-marine at his big gay wedding.
Jo and Rafi hadn't planned on touching each other, but at the last second, Jo grabbed the older girl's hand, and the pair of them walked out after Gabriel and Balthazar.
But Castiel would have let someone give him away, and he needed to share. It was swelling in his chest, coming up his throat, but he managed to hide his own desire for his mother in the form of a question. "Would you have let Mary walk you down the aisle?"
Dean turned away from Rafi and Jo, throwing a small smile in Castiel's direction. "To be honest, if my mom were still here, I don't know if we would be."
Castiel wasn't aware of his facial reaction to that statement – though his heart had burst and there was a monster tearing at his diaphragm and liver and maybe his pancreas – but he knew he must have made one by Dean's instant reaction. Castiel was curled up in Dean's arms, the taller man murmuring his apologies against Castiel's hair.
"That's not what I meant. All I meant was if my mom didn't die, my dad would have probably been around. We wouldn't have needed money. I might have been a better student; I might not have been in your Chem class. I love you, Cas. And I'm fucking proud to be marrying you. My mom would have loved you."
Castiel couldn't stop his shaking. They never talked about their mothers aside from a quick she was beautiful and Castiel regretted it now. He couldn't find the words to express to his almost husband how much he wanted his mother there, sharing this moment with them. The only words that came out were, "I miss her, Dean."
Bobby started walking down the aisle with Meg.
"I know, Cas. I miss mine too. But Anna's looking down on you..."
"Or up. Dante said that suicide..."
"Don't you fucking start on that," Dean hissed, holding Castiel away from his chest to glare at him. "Your mother isn't in hell. She was an angel, Cas. Just like you."
"You never even met her."
"No, but your brothers talk. And believe it or not, I listen. And let me tell you, if anything they said about her is true, she wouldn't miss this. They say you were her favorite."
That, at least, got Castiel to smile. "Parents don't have favorites."
"Sure they do," Lucifer suddenly chimed in. He hit his brother's shoulder before taking the arm Sam was offering him. The younger Winchester started leading the older Novak down the aisle, but Lucifer turned back to say, "They didn't name you for the devil."
Sam pulled his arm and hissed, "Angel." They were too far down the aisle for anything else to be said after that.
With Lucifer and Sam gone, Samandriel and Claire looked up to the grooms for their direction. Castiel stepped away from Dean, leaning over to talk to the children until their brothers made it half away down the aisle. Then he stood back up and nodded them on. Samandriel walked like he was really balancing something on the pillow, and Claire imitated her older sister and Jo, keeping her shoulders back. Castiel could imagine the huge smile on his youngest sister's face.
Dean touched his arm, letting his hand rest there for a moment before he offered his arm. Castiel took it. Dean started walking his fiancé down the aisle.
At every wedding I'd ever been to, somebody was always way over emotional. At Lisa Braeden's wedding it was her mother. At Kali's cousin Ganesh's wedding, it had been the maid of honor, weirdly.
As Dean and Castiel stood side-by-side at the end of the church, Michael held his Bible to his chest with one arm and dabbed his eyes with the other.
"Dearly beloved," Michael's voice shook. He paused, cleared his throat and went on. Castiel offered an encouraging smile, and even Dean gave a little nod. "We are gathered here today to witness the joining together of these two souls…"
For once, every one of the members of the bridal party was behaving. On Dean's side, the men stood with the arms behind their back and Jo stood with her flowers in her hand. Castiel's party did it on his side too. I couldn't help but look over them from my seat, admiring the way they had picked a perfect shade of green and blue for everything, the dresses, the vests and ties, even the flowers. On Dean's side they were all green, and on Castiel's they were completely blue.
Michael wore all black.
To be honest, weddings tend to follow a certain pattern. And when Michael went on talking, quoting Song of Songs – Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – I let my eyes wander. First, I was just trying to see who I knew in the crowd. Pretty much everyone, thanks to Gabriel, so I started looking at the altar and the cross.
It was then that the stained glass window on the wall just above the cross caught my eye.
I had seen the thing a hundred times – Gabriel liked to drag me to church with him – but I had never really paid any attention to it before. Four years ago, that window had been blown out in a tornado. It was the only thing touched in the whole church, and Balthazar had begged Michael to let him design the new window. In the end, the elder brother couldn't deny his siblings anything, and so Balthazar got to work.
The window was longer than it was tall and the previous one had been a simple pattern with a lot of alternating colors. Balthazar had gone for something different. The bottom was the ground and the top was the sky. The first line in the Bible spread across the horizon in black, separating the green and the blue: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
I don't know how long I was lost in the image, to be honest. I was trying to get the words right. I even took out my notebook and started scribbling lines and ideas down, trying to make it all come together. I needed to write a novel to get my MFA in Creative Writing and every idea I had so far sucked.
So I took the image and I tried to run with it.
I had all these ideas. Ideas about divine creations created in the same breath. They were completely dependent on each other – the earth couldn't sustain life without the sky's oxygen, and without the earth's gravity, the atmosphere would dissipate into the universe – but they never seemed to touch. They always seemed up and down, and only ever seemed to meet on the horizon.
But anywhere a person looked, there was a horizon.
So maybe they were always touching – always desperately clinging to one another – because without the other, they wouldn't be themselves anymore. They would be engulfed in the darkness of space. They would die.
The thought of two people like that… now that would make a really good story.
I started trying to think up names and characters, but Kali elbowed me and pointed me back toward the couple up front and the wedding I was missing.
Dean took Castiel's hand, getting the ring from Sam behind him. Even from where I sat, I could see the way Dean traced his thumb over the outside of Castiel's palm, nodding long before Michael even finished the question. "Do you, Dean, take this man to be your partner in life and love, committed to one another's joy and sustenance, from this day forth so long as you both shall live?"
"I do," Dean said, sliding the ring onto Castiel's finger. The words were simple, and out of context, they meant nothing. But I had never seen so much joy on Castiel's face. Certainly not at two simple words. When Dean looked back up after putting the ring on, his hands contracted around the other man's; a serious expression crossing his face for a moment before he couldn't contain it anymore. He mirrored Castiel's grin, and the pair of them could have blinded the church.
Michael waited for their hands to switch – for Castiel to grab the ring from Lucifer and take Dean's hand – before he turned to his brother and repeated the same question: "Do you, Castiel, take this man to be your partner in life and love, committed to one another's joy and sustenance, from this day forth so long as you both shall live?"
There was a pause, just a moment too long, and Kali grabbed my hand. But then Castiel reached up, ran his thumb over Dean's cheek, just under his eye. The taller man let out an embarrassed chuckle, and the whole church let out a sigh when Castiel wiped Dean's tear off on his pants and slid the ring onto the man's finger. His voice was hoarse, like he was crying too, but the words were clear. "I do."
"Then, by the power vested in me as a child of God, I now pronounce you partners in life," The pair of them were still looking at each other, hands grasped in each other's hands. I wondered if they would even hear Michael say, "What are you waiting for? Go ahead and kiss."
I had known the pair of them when they were in my chemistry class together. I'd seen them at their early highs and their addled lows. I saw the looks Dean snuck in mine and Castiel's direction after they'd broken up, and I became the dark haired man's new lab partner. I could remember the way Castiel never wrote my name next to his on the top of our lab reports. I remember how he always wrote Dean's. And back then, I remembered wondering how they could possibly be so bent out of shape about it. They were in high school. People broke up all the time in high school. Nobody could love so ferociously that it would be that consuming once it was over.
But I had been wrong. And looking at the way Dean put his arm over Castiel's lower back, and the way the shorter man's hand latched around Dean's forearm and clung to him, just below his elbow – the way that Dean leaned in, eyes half lidded and murmured something to Castiel, something that made the man give a small laugh right before he kissed him for the first time as a married couple – I knew I had been wrong.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you my brothers: Dean and Castiel Winchester," the people stood and clapped as the couple walked back down the aisle, hands clinging to each other. Their grins were wide; they were happy and in love. After they left the church, I sat back down.
I didn't know if it was some sort of fate or destiny, like two people who used to be joined but had been ripped apart by an angry god, doomed to a lonely search for their missing half. I didn't know if it was a study in forgiveness and human compassion and what would be possible if we forgave others and ourselves of every transgression. I didn't know if they were the sky and the ground that I was looking for.
But I did know it would make a damn good story.
Balthazar and Gabriel were the first two at the receiving line because they were technically in the party. Castiel and Dean were still smiling at each other – neither of the parents would stand outside the church with them in the receiving line, but Lucifer and Sam stood guard on either side of them like particularly adorable bouncers – and apparently, Gabriel got tired of waiting for his hug.
It would sort of set a running joke for the rest of the day, when Gabriel grabbed Castiel's face and turned and yanked. Castiel managed to duck him at the last second, and the awkward attempt of a full-on-the-mouth kiss turned into an awkward hug, and Dean laughed at the look of confusion on Castiel's face.
"What the hell, Gabriel?" Castiel asked, keeping his chin at Gabriel's shoulder in case he made another move for his mouth again if it were available.
He felt the rumble of laughter though the man's body and when Gabriel pulled back, the threat had been neutralized. "You were ignoring me," he stated simply, as if that were a total rational reason to kiss someone on the face. Gabriel moved to hug Dean, and Balthazar placed his hands on the side of Castiel's face.
Luckily, Balthazar wasn't as committed to it, and Castiel had an easier time of deflecting him. "Congratulations," his younger brother said, clasping Castiel's shoulders before moving off to the side to wait for his wife and son.
A ton of people were at the wedding – not as many as were at the bachelor party, thank God – but Dean and Castiel had managed to get quite a few friends along the way. Pretty much anyone who knew Dean also knew Castiel and vise versa, so there weren't any real introductions other than their friends' dates.
Castiel wasn't worried about remembering their names. Instead, he was keeping a look out for each member of his family. After Gabriel and Balthazar passed, he assumed the joke was over. That wasn't the case. He let Rafi kiss his forehead – she hadn't even gone for his lips – but then he had to dodge off Michael in an attack so swift and precise, Michael would have gotten him if Lucifer hadn't called out to him first and took away the reverend's element of surprise.
Zachariah put his hands on Castiel's face, but he was either scared off by the pathetic look or was aware how weird the whole thing was because he pulled back before tugging him into a hug instead.
All of the Novaks drew Dean into tight, familial hugs. Dean was close to all of them; he really was like their brother. And Castiel was bitter that none of them tried to kiss Dean. Well, one Novak attempted. Castiel had let Claire kiss his cheek, but when Dean picked her up, she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a huge kiss right on the lips.
Her brothers cheered her success and when Dean let her down, she pounded Gabriel's fist.
Even Castiel was smiling.
"Well, hell," Dean said, turning around to the Novaks rubbernecking behind him and Castiel. "Might as well give both of my new sisters a kiss."
Rafi flushed, her eyes wide, and she stuck her hand out to push him away. Dean grabbed her wrist, and with the help of Balthazar pushing her back, she ended up close enough to Dean where he could kiss her. There was another cry from the Novak crowd. And when Rafi broke free, she looked mildly angry and frazzled but more delighted than Castiel felt comfortable admitting to himself.
For a moment, he wondered if his sister had been harboring a secret crush on his husband back when they were teenagers. Dean was grinning at him when he looked back up and asked, "Aw, Cas. No need to be jealous. We're married now. I won't fool around with your siblings anymore."
"Yeah right," Gabriel said. "It's my turn now, big boy."
Dean grinned, doing a damn good impression of Gabriel's eyebrow wiggle before Castiel grabbed his arm and turned him to face the people they were supposed to be receiving. "Only Uriel is left to dodge. And I swear, there will be no more kisses on the lips unless they are you and m–"
Castiel's eyebrows shot down, his face contorting into a grimace as he was kissed. Dean and the Novak traitors were laughing, and Castiel was pushing against a pair of strong shoulders. They weren't his brother's shoulders. This man was too tall to be Uriel. Castiel pushed harder, and the man moved away, laughing. Before Castiel even opened his eyes, he knew who it was.
"All I heard was that the angel wanted to be kissed, so who am I to deny him after he so graciously used me to piss his boyfriend off?" Benny grinned. He was one of the few people who had looked like he was twenty-something in high school. It worked well for him, because he hadn't aged a day. He turned to look at Dean – the other man was grinning up at his friend – and within a second they were hugging.
There was a shorter man standing next in line with dark hair and huge brown eyes, and Castiel grumbled, "I said no more kisses," before turning his attention to him. He stuck out his hand and said, "I'm Castiel. It's nice to meet you."
The man took Castiel's hand, then wrapped his other hand around their hands. "I am Andrea," he said, Italian accent present even though Castiel could tell he had been speaking English regularly for most of his life. "Congratulazioni."
Castiel smiled. "Grazie. Permette che mi presenti…"
"Andrea?" Dean asked, practically knocking Benny away to turn his attention to the other man. "Dude, you found Andrea?"
"Fuck yeah I found Andrea," Benny said, wrapping his arm around the smaller man. "You think I'd come to a wedding with just anyone? Look." The man held up his left hand, a solid gold ring decorating his finger. Andrea smiled and held up his hand too.
"You found Andrea and you fucking married him?" Dean asked, half yelling as he pulled Benny back into a hug. "Why and the hell didn't you tell me that?"
"I only just found him six months ago," Benny said. "You know I joined the Navy cause what the hell else do I know other than ships and fucking men, you know? I was stationed in Italy and guess who was bored to death working in a library."
Andrea sighed, and Castiel had never sympathized with anyone the way he did now. Dean told their story that way too, like he was some hero who had saved Castiel. Which, okay, maybe that was really true. But Castiel did a bit of his own saving too.
"Long story short, two months later I was being shipped back off to Louisiana and if he wanted to move on base with me, we had to elope."
"I had never even left Europe," Andrea said. "There was nothing left for me there. And when he left the first time I was devastated."
"I've been to Europe once," Castiel said. "It was beautiful."
"Yes, but have you ever walked down Bourbon Street when you've already had too much to drink? All of the sounds and the lights. New Orleans is a beautiful city."
"No," Castiel admitted. "I've never been there."
"Many people sound like him there," Andrea asked, grinning over at Benny.
Benny rolled his eyes. "I told you. Everyone digs the pretty little voice. We're holding up the line, I'll see you boys later at the reception."
The line got moving again.
Much to Castiel's delight, Uriel had forgotten the plan and just hugged his brother. It was toward the end of line – after the Novaks who weren't in the party had left to make sure everything was being set up at Balthazar's for the reception properly – that Castiel heard, "Oh no he didn't," and turned to see Jess break away from her date and grab Sam's hand.
She held up his ring finger, open mouthed at the band resting around it. "Oh hell no, Sam Winchester. Are you telling me that he asked you and you didn't tell me?"
"It happened like three days ago, Jess," Sam shrugged, but he was blushing. He always managed to blush when the girl talked about him and Lucifer. Nobody was a bigger fan of that coupling than she was. "We were busy."
"Busy planning a wedding without me?"
"No, busy with theirs," Sam said, nodding toward his brothers. "Dean, Cas, you remember Jess?"
"Yeah, they do. Hey guys. Mozel tov," she said, offering a smile before dropping her eyes back to the ring. "Did he say that he liked it and he wanted to put a ring on it, cause that's what he told me he was going to say."
"He told me he was going to say 'Shawty, I'mma only tell you this once, you the illest,'" Castiel said, grinning back at Lucifer who didn't really look all that pleased all of the sudden.
"Did you see the ring Sam got me?" he asked, extending his own hand. Jess just waved him away.
"Obviously. Besides, you really missed out, bro. Oh, Sam's proposal was going to be so romantic," Jess crooned, grinning up at her friend. "How did he do it?"
"Waited until I got drunk and was puking."
"I hate you so much right now," Lucifer hissed. He looked like he was about to storm off, but then he remembered the pictures they had to take before the reception and just crossed his arms and rocked on his heels. "We'll see you at the reception, Jess."
"Oh, don't be such a prima donna," Jess said, shrugging past Sam to hug Lucifer. He pretended to be tense for another few moments but really he liked anyone who adored him, and Jess had always been a good friend to the pair of them. She was a third wheel that wasn't really needed, because the bike was totally stable by itself, but she definitely had her moments of stabilization. "But fine, I'll go. See you boys later. Congrats again. All four of you Winchesters."
After she left with Brady, Dean frowned and said, "I want a fangirl. Where do we get one."
"You wouldn't like one, Dean," Castiel said. "I hear they mean well but they're the biggest cockblocks in the universe."
"That's so true," Sam said. Lucifer just groaned.
An hour later, the two of them were being introduced again in Balthazar's back yard at the reception. And like I said about the wedding, if you had been to one reception, you've been to them all. First dances, speeches… well actually, it didn't have speeches. Not really.
Instead, after the first dance – and the second dance – Lucifer didn't make a toast. He was standing up near the DJ tent with an acoustic guitar. There was an arsenal of instruments behind him. All the instruments Castiel had seen a week ago in the living room had been moved outback for the reception, but Lucifer had his guitar, the one Sam had given him eight and a half years ago.
He spoke into the microphone, even though he could project loud enough for everyone to hear him. "Uh, yeah. Hi. I'm Lucifer Novak, Castiel's best man, and instead of giving my toast in a traditional way, Sam and I decided it would be so much more fun if we sang a song that really encompassed how the grooms feel about each other, and how we, as the grooms' brothers, feel about the union of our families. Besides, I'm a pretty crappy public speaker, and there is nothing that I could say about my little brother that he doesn't already know and there is nothing I could say to my new brother that I haven't already threatened. So instead… Sam, if you wouldn't mind."
Sam stood from his place next to Dean and crossed the grass toward the DJ tent. He pulled the glockenspiel out from its hiding place, and made sure the drums were cleared as well. Then Lucifer started playing.
I could see the way Castiel smiled, letting his hand fall over Dean's on the table.
"Hold on to me as we go. As we roll down this unfamiliar road. And although this wave is stringing us along." Michael stood from his seat and joined Lucifer and Sam at the tent. He started adding the drum beats as Lucifer continued to sing. "Just know you're not alone, cause I'm gonna make this place your home."
From the other side of the yard, Uriel was sitting at another table with a guitar. He started playing along, as Sam came in to join Lucifer: "Settle down, it'll all be clear. Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear."
Balthazar and Gabriel stood from their seats at the bridal party table, clapping along to the beat and adding some ooohs as they walked to the dance floor. "The trouble it might drag you down, if you get lost you can always be found. Just know you're not alone, cause I'm gonna make this place your home."
There was just vocalizing in the song for a long moment, and it started with just Gabriel and Balthazar. When the oohs changed to louder ahs, Rafi, Zachariah, Claire, Samandriel, and everyone's partners stood and made their way to the center of the room. They sang together, the extended Novak clan. They held hands and swayed, dancing around each other like they used to sing songs of praises. Their voices lifted to the heavens, formally inviting Dean into the covenant they shared as a family.
By the end of the second repeat, they had gone to get Dean and Castiel, dragging them by the hand to join in with the dance. Rafi wiped the tears away from Castiel's cheeks and held his hand as they spun in a circle. At the end of the song, everyone clapped, even Lucifer and Sam and the Novaks and their partners, and Dean and Castiel just held each other and kissed on the dance floor.
But other than that, this reception was just like any other. It had dances, and toasts (sort of), and starving grooms. This one had it all.
Especially starving grooms. Every time Castiel tried to eat a little bit of his dinner, one of his brothers dinked his fork against the champagne glass and yelled out, "Kiss, kiss!" To which Castiel would grumble – and Dean found Castiel's annoyance hilarious, by the way – and the pair of them would kiss. He wouldn't get a bite to eat until the cake, and most of that ended up on his face anyway.
He was starving by the time people started just relaxing and having fun and dancing. For one moment of contentedness, Castiel was able to sit down at one of the tables in the back, leaning against the chair, eating a piece of cake like it was his lifeline. The noises he was making on the other side of my table were a little too sexual and unholy for my liking, and I couldn't help but look up at him.
Never in my life had I seen anyone so happy to be eating.
A moment later, Dean sat down next to him with a slice of apple pie – because if some brides can have their own freaking cake than Dean Winchester could beg Hester to make him a pie as a wedding present, god damn it – and the pair of them shared a silent look of blissful exhaustion, before they continued on with their food.
I wondered why they both decided to choose my table to sit down at. Despite the fact that I had been at all their family gatherings for the past couple of years because I had no family left and Gabriel said it was a sin not to be with family on the holidays, Dean and Castiel and I never really had a big heart to heart. They'd never said anything about the two months that Lisa and I spent as their buffer. They never offered me an explanation or an excuse. Everything I knew about them, I knew because of Gabriel.
And let me tell you, I wasn't really sure all of it was true.
Plus, it made it very awkward for me to try and think of everything I knew about the couple for my book if they were actually sitting down in front of me. They were supposed to be inspiration for other characters. When they were sitting this close to me, I couldn't separate the fact that what I knew of their past had truly happened to them.
And it was heartbreaking.
Luckily for me, it didn't last long. Just as Castiel was finishing his slice of cake, the microphone hummed to life again and Lucifer's voice spread out across the yard. "Yes, yes, another congratulations to the happy couple. From this point until the end of the night, we thought it would be fantastic if anyone would like to request a song for them. Also, thanks to Mickey, we pretty much have a whole band up here under the DJ tent, so if any of you are musically inclined and would like to sing your love to the Winchesters, please feel free to do so. This first one is from me, and I know it will strike a chord of love in your heart."
There was a reason Castiel had requested a DJ, and he hadn't exactly been happy to find all of Michael's band room (and the adjoining orchestra room) under the DJ tent because his brothers wouldn't be able to withstand the temptation. There would be a Novak karaoke contest going on at his reception in thirty minutes or less, and Castiel stood to go talk some sense into his brother, when he placed the song.
"Maybe I need some rehab, or maybe just need some sleep."
"Is he kidding me?" Castiel asked, turning back to look at Dean.
His husband just smiled, abandoning the last bite of pie on his plate so he could stand up and take Castiel's hand. "Hey, c'mon, Cas. This is how they show their love. God knows I knew they were all friggin crazy, and I still chose to marry into it. The least you can do is pretend to enjoy the attention."
"I do not enjoy the attention, though. It is strange to me that all these people came out and gave us presents and money just because we're choosing to honor our longstanding commitment to each other," Castiel frowned. "And this song was a very inappropriate choice."
"Of course it's inappropriate, Cas. Lucifer picked it out. And the money and the stuff is the perk. They're just rewarding you for staying with my ass for seven years then committing to stay with it until the day you die. That decision deserves some presents let me tell you. But shut up, now, and dance with me."
Castiel started to smile, but forced it into a frown again when the chorus started. Dean just laughed and dragged him away to the open dance floor in the yard.
"Because your love, your love, your love is my drug."
Castiel had managed to drag his little sister away from Gabriel long enough to con her into a dance. He had her in his arms, and she had her arms wrapped around his neck. With Gabriel finally free, he was dancing with Kali, and Claire kept throwing them glances like she was being personally scorned by a relationship that was older than she was.
The new Winchester was about to open his mouth to talk to his younger sister when he felt a hand on his back. He turned to face whoever wanted to cut in, but it was John. He grinned at the girl and asked, "Do you know my son?"
She thought for a moment, eyes scanning the tables before frowning, "Sam or Dean?"
"Dean," John said, pointing over to where he was sitting with Charlie and Gilda, taking sips of champagne and laughing with the women. "He told me earlier that he thought you were very pretty today while you were walking down the aisle. He knew you were having fun with Gabe, but he was wondering if you'd dance with him a minute, when you got the chance."
"Sure," she said. "When this song is over and I'm done with Cassie."
But John had worked it out so the song was just ending. Castiel sat his sister down, and the flower girl ran up to Dean. The children loved Dean – he just had a way with kids that made Castiel ache with longing for children of his own – and the man looked happy and honored that Claire asked him to dance.
He picked her up easily, letting her fly for a moment in the air before he caught her. Claire, Charlie, and Gilda giggled, but Dean settled his new sister against his hip, waltzing with her to the dance floor.
"He'll make a good father," John said, letting his hand drop from Castiel's back. "Both of you will. Those damn kids of yours'll never know the pain the two of you had from the hands you were dealt with shit fathers."
"You love your boys," Castiel said. "And my dad loves us too."
"Yeah, but it's more than that. You'd die before you left your kids. You ain't your father. And Dean isn't me either, but I didn't break up your little dance just for chitchat. Ellen found this years ago, but she wouldn't let me have it until I sobered up. I always meant to give it to Dean, but then I moved in with Ellen and gave him the house. So I saved this for you," John held out his hand, and Castiel held out his. When John pulled his hand away, Castiel was left looking at a silver bracelet with several charms on it.
There were crosses and stars, holy symbols from different cultures. On one side, there was a small charm of an angel. Castiel held out his wrist and attempted to wrap the bad around it and latch it on. He frowned, "it's too small."
"I thought it might be," John said, a small frown coming on to his face as well. "You can hang it up next to the frame of her and Dean. I know it isn't much, but the fire destroyed so many of her things. It might have been why I lost it… I was left with a handful of photos, barely any clothes. Nothing that reminded me of her except every shadow in the house and two small boys crying for their mother. This would have been ruined too, but she had left it at Ellen's the week before."
"I love it, John. Thank you."
"She left a necklace there, too. I'm going to give that to Lucifer when they get married," John turned, watching as Sam danced with Samandriel while Lucifer annoyed the both of them, poking his nephew and hiding behind Sam. "I'm just really proud of all of you. The shit you all had to go through, the fact that you ended up here. I'm proud you share my last name. I'm proud that you're going to be the one who loves my grandkids. I'm just proud, Cas. Of all four of you. Of my four sons."
John left after that, and Castiel walked up to Bela. He showed her the bracelet and the two of them disappeared inside. A few moments later, Claire was dancing with Kali, the two of them giggling about Gabriel as he pouted behind them. Whatever Dean had said to her must have worked, because suddenly Kali and Claire were thick as thieves. Dean was admiring his handiwork when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
When he turned around, Castiel held out the bracelet, and Dean took it, remembering it instantly. He held it in his hands, thumb tracing over the little charms, but one was missing. A little silver angel.
Castiel had that charm on a chain around his neck. He would wear it under his clothes, always, as a reminder that Mary Winchester was always watching over him.
Meg was sitting next to Abaddon near the DJ tent. They hadn't really gotten over their fight, nobody had really apologized or anything, but they were just simmering on the backburner now. There wasn't the threat of immediate damage.
This time, they had fought because Abaddon had gotten a tattoo that made it look like her head had been chopped off then sewn back on to her neck again. It was a stupid reason to fight, and it wasn't the cause of the fight at all. They just fought. They were violent, sadistic people by nature, and they were both a bit broken.
Meg had the whole prostitution thing – which she wouldn't consider a negative, but was a deal breaker for pretty much everyone she knew besides Castiel and Abaddon – and the other girl was from a long line of hit men for some big crime family in Chicago. She'd only moved to Kansas to lay low after the leader of the mafia was locked up.
They both had their demons, but they were the only ones who would have each other. And Meg loved her. She loved Abaddon just like she loved Castiel, and then a bit more.
"Hey, Abby, did I ever say that your tattoo looks pretty cool?"
Abaddon rolled her eyes until she was looking at Meg, expecting to be baited into some new part of the fight but Meg just raised her eyebrows, hoping the expression she had seen on Castiel would look just as endearing on her. Whether or not it did, she didn't know, but at some level it must have worked, because Abaddon just said, "I knew you would like it."
"What do you think about that?" She asked nodding her head in the general direction of the wedding. "The flowers and the dancing and the dumb, expensive cake?"
Abaddon shrugged, "Whatever. Cool for them, right? Your boyfriend finally married his boyfriend. You gonna try to fuck him still?"
"No," Meg said. "I got you."
"Really?" Abaddon snorted. "You're gonna give me that crap? Everyone knows you're just a dirty whore, and I'm just a cold-blooded killer. We're only together cause otherwise we'd be alone and you know I hate waking up in a bed by myself. You'd fuck him if you were given half the chance, and that's cool with me, Meg. You know I've always been cool with your crush on your gay."
"Maybe before, but I don't want to fuck him now. You know, I hate waking up in a cold bed, too. But what's even worse is waking up in a warm bed next to someone who sucks. And you don't suck, Abby. We should keep waking up in bed next to each other."
"That has to be the lamest proposal since Lucifer shoved a ring at Sam while he was puking," Abaddon said, but she was grinning.
"I'm just saying, I never was the settling down type, you know. But I get why they're doing it. It's like what you said about love being a unicorn cause neither of them exist, and I didn't ever get it until just a couple of days ago, but you're my unicorn, Abby. And whatever happens, you pretty much always will be."
Meg expected a snarky reply, something sarcastic and mean, but when Abaddon looked up, she reached across the table and took Meg's hand. She didn't say anything about it, and the two of them didn't need to talk about it again. But after that break up, they never broke up again.
Dean was lurking inside; he just wanted a breather for like five minutes, when he felt someone behind him. When he turned, Jimmy was standing in the doorway with a frown on his face, his arms crossed over his chest, and Dean grinned, turning back to the sink and away from his father in law. "Have you come in here to threaten me, Saint Jimmy? I promised that I won't knock your son up until after we're married, but guess what just happened. Besides, we gotta consummate something tonight, right?"
Jimmy didn't say anything for a long moment. When he did, he cleared his throat first, asking, "Dean, could you please look at me when I speak to you?"
There was something in his voice. When Jimmy came back, he realized he had no control over his family and never pretended he did. He enjoyed their free will. He liked watching them ask for advice and make mistakes and learn from it. When he left again and married Amelia, he had been even calmer albeit more reserved.
He never seemed like he fit in with his massive family, but the man who could make his sons do anything he asked with a tone in his voice was gone. Dean shut off the water and turned to look at Jimmy, surprised by the directness of his request. Once Dean was facing him, Jimmy physically relaxed, breathing the tension out of his body with an exhale.
"I didn't come to threaten you. There is something I've needed to say to you for a long time, Dean. But every time I start to say it, I lose my nerve. But not this time," Jimmy walked across the room, putting his hands on Dean's shoulders to ground himself. He took another breath in, and said, "Thank you."
"Hey, no… I mean, I haven't done –"
"You're the single most humble person I have ever met, Dean, because you have. You've done so much for so many people. I have never seen Castiel as happy as he is today, and that's because of you. I lost him once, when I left. I could have lost him forever, but you found him Dean. And you cleaned him and helped him put his pieces back together. I owe you every morning that my son is still alive. Even though I wasn't there, I don't know what would have happened to me if I lost him. I…" Jimmy tied to back away, to duck around Dean and hide his tears, but the taller man wouldn't have it.
Instead, Dean just pulled Jimmy to him and held his father-in-law to his chest as he cried. All the while, he could hear the man whispering thank yous against him. Dean could only offer back, "You're welcome, Jimmy. Any time."
It was getting closer to the end of the night. Nobody was really left in the back of Balthazar's backyard but the Winchesters, the Novaks, the bridal party, and me. Well, Crowley and Phil were there too. Both of them were pretty hammered, thanks to Balthazar putting a bottle of wine down at their table an hour ago that was now completely gone.
To be honest, I couldn't understand their slurred accents. I assumed they weren't speaking in English.
The Novaks were still singing and dancing, it was what Novaks did best after all, and Castiel and Dean had joined them. The pair of them were moving together on the floor near Sam and Lucifer. Rafi was playing the guitar, and Missouri was singing.
"Bless my heart, bless my soul."
When the song changed, Jo walked up to the happy couple and tapped Dean's shoulder. She asked, "Can I cut in?"
"Sure," Dean said, opening his arms to let his stepsister move in to dance with him, but she ducked under his arm, wrapping her arms around Castiel's shoulder. The new Winchester smiled over her shoulder at Dean. The older man gave a good-natured grumble at the pair of them and walked away.
"Didn't think I'd make it to twenty-two years old.
There must be someone up above. Sayin'…"
"I've been thinking a lot about it, Cas," Jo started, tightening her grip on his shoulders and refusing to meet his eye. "Like, I don't think I've ever thought about anything more in my entire life. And I think I made my decision."
Castiel's shoulders dropped, his voice defeated when he said, "Are you sure you don't want to think about it a little more, Jo? I mean… it's a big decision. And it's quite a bit of money, to be honest."
"You gotta come on up. You gotta hold on."
"No, I don't need to think anymore," She looked up at him. Her hands moved to the sides of his neck, and Castiel realized they'd stopped dancing. Jo was just holding him in the middle of the dance floor, and Castiel felt his heart sinking. "It's a lot of money, Cas. I still live with my mom and John, and I just want to get out on my own. I just… I could open my own business or go to school or… just…"
Castiel wasn't aware how hard his hands were gripping at Jo's hips. He couldn't read his own expression – he couldn't hear anything but the blood pumping in his ears – but he knew he had to be hurting her. But Jo just smiled a great big, blinding smile, threw up her arms, and said, "I wanted to tell you that I want to say yes!"
"Bless my heart, bless yours too."
"What?" Castiel asked, still holding the girl at arm's length.
"Yes, Cas," Jo said, throwing her arms around her step brother-in-law's neck, to bring their bodies together. She could feel his body shaking and it didn't take long for her to hear his sobs. His fingers were trembling at the small of his back, and she reached to try and sooth circles on his. "Yes, Cas. Yes."
"Thank you," he whispered. "Thank you."
"You okay, Cas?" Dean asked, a concerned look on his face as he approached the pair.
Castiel looked up over Jo's shoulder and said, "She said yes."
"There must be somebody up above, sayin'..."
"No way, Jo, really?" Dean whispered, wrapping his arms around Jo and Castiel from behind, crushing the girl in a Winchester sandwich. After a moment they let her go, when Dean pulled back and cupped his husbands face in his hands. They kissed, and even though the pair of them had been kissing all night, this was the most memorable one.
They clung to each other like there was nothing more important than this moment. Dean was whispering words of encouragement and love between the kisses, and Castiel ignored his own tears to wipe away Dean's.
They had just gotten married hours ago, but I had never seen either of them as happy as they were in that moment.
"You gotta get back up. You gotta hold on."
Dean and Castiel stopped clenching each other and crying, but it took a while. Eventually, even the bridal party started going home and all that was left was a handful of stragglers that managed to make their way to my table. Dean was starting in on his cards, a little too drunk and sipping the champagne right from the bottle like the class act he was. He was looking through the cards for money the pair of them could use on their honeymoon. Castiel was exhausted, but giving little smiles as Dean read some of the cards aloud. Lucifer and Sam were still singing at the DJ tent, but not quite as loud because all the kiddos had been put to bed in Balthazar's house.
They were singing to each other. Well, Lucifer was, Sam was messing around with the auto-tuner while Lucifer sang, "You, you're always holding on to stars. I think they're better from afar cause no one here's gonna save us."
A bonfire had been lit not too far away from the table. Most of the older Novaks and their partners were warming themselves and socializing. Gabriel and Kali were being cute to my left, Balthazar was checking on the kids, and the only people who weren't brothers and sisters that were still outside were Crowley and Phil.
And they were only there because both of them were way too drunk to drive, so they were going to have to crash in the basement for the night. I wish I didn't hear Crowley whispering the things he'd like to do to Phil in his old room, but sadly, I did.
It was cut short when Dean held up an envelope and declared, "If I don't know this fucker's writing by heart, then I don't know my own. You better've gotten us something good, Crowley."
Crowley's arm was around Phil's and the blond man's blue eyes snapped from his boyfriend to Dean. The smaller man looked like an angel, full of love at the words Crowley was whispering to him, and I saw the way Dean grinned at the pair, secretly happy that even his nemesis – his archenemy of high school, the man who fed his boyfriend drugs and had sex with him for money – was happy.
"When don't I give you fantastic gifts? Have you seen the suits you desecrated before your holy communion? They're master pieces!"
Dean just grinned at Crowley, likely a comment about how a framed picture of Benedict Cumberbatch caused Castiel to pout because Dean wouldn't let him hang it up in their bedroom died in his throat, and he ripped open the envelope carelessly. Gift cards fell out.
Dean frowned, and Castiel frowned too. Dean reached toward the gift cards, but Castiel reached toward the folded up slip of paper that fell out after them. Some were prepaid gas cards to be used at certain stations; other cards were prepaid American Express cards that could be used elsewhere, but all of them had a label: hotel, food, souvenirs, and attractions.
Castiel opened up the folded piece of paper, and frowned at the GoogleMap Image detailing the route from Lawrence, Kansas to Cleveland, Ohio with gas stations highlighted along the way and recent prices written in Crowley's writing. He flipped to the next page, and it looked like a printed receipt for a hotel. When Dean suddenly yelled, "No way," he shoved two tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland under Castiel's nose.
"No way," Castiel repeated, taking the tickets and looking again at the map. The hotel and the museum were both within walking distance of each other. And on the third page, Castiel could see that there were even more detailed plans, including potential trips to the Hard Rock Café, an aquarium, some sort of chocolate bar, a botanical garden, and a museum of natural history.
"I wasn't sure what else you'd want to do in Cleveland, and considering Ohio is the boob sweat region of the United States," Crowley said, and Phil snorted. I wasn't sure if either of them had ever even been to Ohio, but I imagined in all their trips back and forth to the states, they likely stopped for a layover there once or twice. I wondered what happened there that made them hate it so much.
You know, besides the obvious of it being Ohio.
Dean was adding up the money on the cards and he frowned, looking up at Crowley. "This is a thousand dollars, dude. We can't accept this for a present."
"One, you can and you will. Two, consider it a second honeymoon. It's not like school starts until September anyway, so you've got time for a road trip," Crowley shot a look at Phil, who nodded, then a look at Castiel. He was frowning, serious in a way that only really drunk people could get serious so quickly and said, "Besides, I think I've owed the two of you a thousand dollars for years now."
"Anthony," Castiel started, reaching across the table to touch the British man's hand, but Crowley just pulled it away.
"I know it isn't about the money. It was never about the money. And I know John gave you the house to say he was sorry. I know the two'a you said sorry a hundred times, or more likely danced around the actual apology in favor of politeness or some stupid backwards notion like that, but I need to repay you. And… Christ, you were worth so much more than I paid for you, Cas. I mean that."
Castiel looked touched, Dean looked like he was searching for words, but bless his heart, Phil laughed. His head collapsed in his arms, folded delicately across the table. His back was shaking in a desperate attempt to get oxygen into his lungs and pumping across to the other cells in his body. When he raised his head a few moments later, there were tears in his eyes. He tried his best to wipe them away.
"The speech you had planned was so much better, darling. 'You're worth so much more than I paid for you?' Christ, I would imagine even the drugged out girls deserved over a hundred dollars for having to lie there and take it from you," Phil's eyes were still shining with tears, and Crowley frowned at him.
"Fuck you," Crowley said, without any real venom. In fact, a grin was slowly breaking out over his lips.
To Phil's credit, he just grinned, leaned forward into Crowley's space and asked, "When?"
"Just another minute, there's something still in the envelope. The trip's for Dean. I mean, you can bring your husband if you want, or bring Sam, I don't fucking care, but Cas' present is in the thing still," Crowley leaned over, pressing his chin against Phil's shoulder. Phil turned back to Castiel, a smile forming on his face.
Dean handed his husband the envelope, and Castiel looked inside and pulled out a picture.
"I found it in one of my dad's photo albums. I don't remember it, but the photograph's proof, right?"
Anna Novak was in her twenties. She was in the kitchen in the Novak house. She had been cooking something, but somebody must have alerted her to the photograph because she was looking up, grinning at the camera. Crowley's mom was standing next to her, her arms wrapped around Anna and her head resting against her friend's shoulder. It was before the bouts in the mental institution, before the drugs. Crowley's mom had her hair up, she was wearing a nice, fine suit, and Castiel could remember that she used to be a businesswoman before Anna's sickness manifested and she turned to drugs to cope.
But on the floor, Castiel and Crowley were coloring. The boys were young – barely older than Byron was – and Crowley had stopped coloring to point at Castiel's book. The blue-eyed toddler was grinning back at Crowley.
"I thought you lived in England," Castiel said, eyes never leaving the picture.
"I did," he answered. "My mom must have had a business meeting in America and stopped over to see your mom. Who'da thought we went so far back, huh, angel?"
Castiel turned it over, finding the date. Crowley's mother had taken great care when she wrote on the photo, and Castiel knew the woman would have kept any picture of their mothers as a prized possession. He smiled, fingers tracing over their names on the back: Castiel and Anna Novak. A.J. and Naomi Crowley.
"Thanks, Anthony," Castiel said, turning the picture around to get a look at the image once again. "I love it."
They were all sitting around the table talking, and I was trying my best to ignore them and focus on where to start my story. I would imagine that first day of school Dean's senior year was when it started because it was the first day they were lab partners, but I didn't know how to start it without knowing how it really started.
I had been writing by candlelight for hours but having them all sitting around, talking about the end of the story wasn't going to help me start it.
Dean was pretty drunk, but Castiel wasn't. Lucifer and Sam weren't either, but most of the rest of them had some sort of a buzz going.
For the first time in a long time, I hadn't drank. I was too focused on the story.
Dean was talking loudly about some subtext in The Lord of the Rings with Gabriel, and my roommate was nodding along politely. He probably had heard it a thousand times before. But Dean was so loud that I almost didn't hear when his husband spoke up. "Is that your final novel for your MFA?"
I looked up, frowning at Castiel. "Me?"
"Yes, you. You are working on the last project for your MFA, right?"
"Yes, but… how did you know that?"
"Are you kidding me?" Dean asked, arm looped lazily over Castiel's shoulders. He leaned back, taking his husband with him. Castiel made a small sound of protest, but his brothers just laughed at him. "You are aware that by fucking my new baby brother, that makes you my new baby brother, too, right? Novaks don't wait for marriage."
"Hallelujah," Michael said, raising his glass.
"I'm…" I started, looking at Gabriel. The younger man was laughing, and he managed to offer a wink at me through his giggles. "We aren't…"
"Do not deny me three times before the cock you-know-whats," Gabriel said, wagging his finger. Then he tapped the table and grinned. "I said cock. Write that down in your notes. Exact wording. Only complete accuracy will do."
"I'm not writing about the wedding," I insisted, which was mostly true. I had finished up my notes on the wedding hours ago. It was the beginning I was struggling with now.
"You want to write an epic love story and you're not writing about this wedding?" Gabriel said, throwing in a fake gasp. He shot a look at Dean, and the drunken man smiled. "This is like… to quoteth Alesana, one day lovers will dream of this undying kiss. Not of Romeo or Juliet. Stories told of our love will never die. You know that song was written about my buddy Dean and my big bro Cas, right?"
I frowned, offering Gabriel a sarcastic, "I was under the impression that was written about The Princess Bride, but…"
The song changed. They had left the music playing in the background and nobody had been paying much attention to it. This song wasn't any different.
"It is kind of true," Michael added. "Dean and Cas, Luke and Sam. If you were ever going for epic, it's at this table."
"I don't know," Castiel said. "That's quite a depressing story if you're going all the way back."
"He has to go all the way back, Cas," Dean said. "Otherwise, this can't be the happy ending. It'd just be a random wedding. Amirite? And let me tell you, I've got a degree in freaking English and no book I've ever read would be as awesome as our story. It's got angst and drugs and prostitution and underground fighting rings and a battle between twin brothers. The story's basically a walking cliché with a happy ending, and books like that never get a happy ending. I'm fucking up for it if you guys are."
"I'm down," Lucifer said, but Sam seemed a little bit hesitant. Gabriel and Balthazar nodded. Michael gave a drunken thumbs up. Rafi smiled. Uriel and Zachariah didn't care either way. They all looked at Castiel.
"Are you sure, Dean? This would open old wounds…"
"Someday, Cas, we're going to die. And maybe the story is found by our kids and they can finally realize the trials that we went through to have them. Or maybe the book makes it big and some kid reads it and decides never to try heroin or to forgive everyone or to not beat up his brother and waste a ton of time and energy hating him that he'll never be able to get back. I teach a hundred students a year, but if my story could ever help one of them – a single one of them – to be better than they are, then it's worth it, Cas."
"You're drunk, Dean," Castiel said, but there was a smile on his face.
"Then you better get started now and get as much of the story as you can, cause I'll probably regret it when I sober up in the morning," Dean laughed, and I flipped my page to a new one. "You need to start with this fucking song. My first day of my senior year of high school, this fucking Rihanna song was playing when I woke up. And I only had two things on my mind: wondering if my damn shirt was clean enough to wear to school and what the fuck I was going to get Sammy to eat for breakfast, because we had no money."
I was scribbling the notes in my notebook, but I heard Castiel say, "I like this song."
"It's a tweaking rave song, Cas, of course you like it," Dean said, then he grinned at me. "Are you getting all this, Chuck?"
There was a knock on the garage door and it snapped me out of my thoughts. I took my hands away from the keyboard, trying to rub out the kinks, smiling at the way Castiel grinned like a madman, jumping from his chair to get the door.
Dean stood too. He made it seem like he was chasing after Castiel to keep him from doing something to annoy Jo, but I knew him well enough to know he was just as excited to see his step-sister as Castiel was.
When Castiel opened the door, Jo elbowed her way inside, grinning at the way the men followed her to the counter where she sat down a twelve-pack of soda next to the one Michael had brought. She leaned against the counter; bringing the slice of pizza Castiel had saved her to her mouth. She had on a plaid sundress dress – as if any of us needed confirmation about how Winchester she actually was – and the material was tight just under her breast, flowing freely over her stomach. "Thank God you saved some for me. I'm starving. And my back is killing me."
"You should have beeped," Castiel frowned at her. "I could have carried the soda in."
"For the last time, Cas, I'm pregnant. Not helpless," Jo grinned at him, nodding down at the bump in her stomach. "And it was soda, not an anvil."
"Yes, but there's no reason to needlessly put stress on yourself."
"Dude, I'm a baby making machine, okay. Don't worry right now, papa. You'll be worrying nonstop for eighteen years in another twenty-two weeks. Let me handle this part," Jo said around mouthfuls. "You know, my mom always used to tell me that I'd have a little Winchester in me someday. I just think she always expected I'd keep it and not give it back to his husband."
"Could be longer," Bela warned. "I went forty-two with Byron."
"Oh, sweet Jesus, no," Jo said, sitting the pizza down to turn to Byron. He was walking up to her, reaching his hand up to put his hand on the girl's belly. She leaned down a bit so he could reach. "You tell your cousin to come out right at forty, okay, Byron?"
"Forty," he repeated. "Then he play with me?"
"Or she," Dean said, leaning over to scoop his nephew up in his arms. "You'll play with her even if she's a girl, right? You'd look out for her."
"You don't know yet?" Bela asked.
"We don't want to know," Castiel replied.
"But I know," Jo said in a singsong, picking up her pizza once again. "I had an ultrasound this morning and I know if baby Winchester will be a prince or a princess at birth."
Castiel and Dean looked at each other for one, long moment, and then Castiel asked, "Prince, right?"
"No. Princess," Dean shot back, but Jo just bit into her pizza and ignored their squabbling.
"Oh, that's a really cute shirt, too, Byron," then she turned to Bela. "Congratulations."
"Figured we couldn't let those two get all the baby glory, you know?"
"It was an accident again, right?" Jo asked.
"Happy accident," Balthazar grinned. Jo laughed and sat down at the table.
For a while, they all just talked, finishing up the pizza and soda between the random, easy conversations. At one point, Sam let Bones down, and the puppy had a great time jumping on Inias. The pair of them were already the same size, due to the fact that Bones would be a huge dog. To the cat's credit, he jumped up on a counter and watched as Bones grew tired of waiting for him. Then Inias jumped down, crashing into the puppy. The pair of them wrestled and ran around for a little bit before the dog fell asleep in the sun, and Inias groomed Bones before he fell asleep half on top of him.
Jo had been there for about forty-five minutes when the doorbell rang. Dean frowned – pretty much everyone came through the garage door – but Balthazar was already standing up to get it. Once he disappeared into the living room, Michael's phone started ringing. Lucifer grinned at his brother, "Aw, your ringtone is from my new album?" but Michael ignored him and answered the phone.
Even from the other end of the table, I heard Charlie scream, "Where the fuck are you? Where the fuck is Dean?"
"Oh, fuck," Dean said, looking at his watch. "Our LARP was supposed to start five minutes ago."
Balthazar walked back in with a grin on his face and his arm around Kevin. The recent graduate was wearing gray cotton pants and a tunic with a black robe over it, marking him with the brand of the wolf. Charlie had called bullshit when Dean claimed the House Stark sigil as his own. But he let her pick whatever sigil she wanted to steal if she could convince Michael to fly the Lannister lion.
He did, and when Lucifer LARPed with them, he was always on Michael's side, calling him Jaime and making jokes about going off in the woods for a bit. He didn't get it, not even when Lucifer had written "Twins 3 5eva" on the back of one of Michael's flags, and it was hilarious and totally worth it.
Anyway, Kevin looked around at all of us, and Balthazar started rattling off introductions, as Michael held his cell phone away from his ear, trying to calm Charlie down. "Yeah, Kevin's here now. We're all dressed and everything. Just heading over there now. Uh… You're breaking up… on me…"
"I swear to God, Michael, if you hang up on me…"
"Oops, disconnected," Michael said before hanging up. He grabbed his keys and nodded to Hester. "We got to get going or she's going to skin us. I knew I was forgetting something today."
In the end, Michael and Hester left to go to get all of Michael's stuff, and Gabriel, Balthazar, Bela, and Byron left to go watch the LARPing. It had started pretty small, but somehow along the way, people grew interested. A bunch of people watched before they ultimately ended up joining.
"Sorry, Kevin. Baby Mama was coming over and completely forgot. Give me ten and I'll drive you back to the park," Dean said, walking toward the stairs. "Sammy, go get your crap on."
"I haven't even showered yet, Dean," Sam called back.
From the second floor, Dean yelled, "Just keep your hair up. It gets in the way of the war-paint anyway."
Sam just groaned, scooped Bones up – much to Inias's annoyance – and looked back at his husband. "Are you coming?"
"Hell yeah I am. Don't tell Dean, but I told Michael that when we're LARPing that he has to call me Cercei. I'm going to make him yell it across the battle ground and Dean is going to lose his shit."
"You don't think it's weird," Castiel asked from where he was sitting next to Jo. "I mean, you flirt with your brother for a cheap joke he doesn't even get."
"Aw, Cassie," Lucifer grinned, leaning over to place a kiss on his younger brother's forehead. "Don't be jealous. Michael was my womb-mate, but me and you have done our fair share of sharing beds, and now that time will forever be immortalized in a subpar work by a MFA student."
"Hey," I said. "I'll have a MFA degree in a couple of months.
"You three coming?" Sam asked.
"I am," Jo said, standing up. Castiel stood with her, but she just shook off his attempt to help. "I always enjoy watching Charlie beating the shit out of Dean with a foam sword. I'll meet you boys there." Lucifer and Sam waved as they walked out the front door, so they could cross the street to get to their house.
But before she could leave, Castiel wrapped her arms around her. Jo schooled her face into an annoyed look, but when Castiel held her tight, her smile broke out. The girl was enjoying the attention, even if she didn't want her stepbrothers to know that. When Castiel pulled back, he leaned over, placing his hand over Jo's stomach and bringing his face down so he was level with the unborn child.
"I love you, my little prince."
"Or princess," Jo reminded him.
"Is she a girl, Jo?" Castiel asked, looking up at his sister. "I don't have a clue how to raise a girl. I only had brothers until I was out of high school. I've never dated a girl. I don't know how they think or how to love them."
"First, I'm not telling you what it is. All I'm saying is that you know that's not true," She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him back up so they were hugging again. "You love Rafi and Claire, and you love Kali and Bela and Hester and all of your sisters. You've shown me nothing but love, way before I started carrying a little Winchester for you. You've always had a big heart, Cas, and regardless of the sex of your baby, you will love that little monster to pieces."
"I love him or her now," Castiel admitted.
"See, so don't worry about it being a prince or a princess. Just be glad it's a Winchester," Jo said. And Castiel moved back, kissing her forehead before he allowed her to leave. He watched her drive away from the window like a lost puppy and returned to his seat only once she had driven away from his eyesight.
It was just Castiel, Kevin, and me.
Inias jumped up on the table, purring and pushing his head against Castiel's hand. The man relented and started petting the cat. It was after a few moments of silence that Kevin stepped forward, putting his hands on the back of the chair next to me, looking across the table toward Castiel.
"Mr. Winchester, might I ask you something?"
Castiel looked up at him, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "As much as I love my last name, I've told you before, Kevin. You can call me Cas."
"Um… okay, Cas? Would it be alright with you if I read the story when it was finished?"
Castiel frowned just a bit, his eyes darting to me before looking back at the teenager. Kevin tightened his grip on the chair, looking down to avoid the man's eyes. "It's just… for our portfolio in AP English, we had to write a poem about something that was really hard for us to talk about and Dean wrote about addiction. And I asked him about it, and he said his dad was an alcoholic and when I pointed out the romantic overtones, he broke and told me it was you. And I know this is rude and invasive but…"
"Kevin?" Castiel asked, eyes leaving his face for a moment to look at his white knuckles clenching the chair in front of him. "Would you like a drink? Jo brought some soda…"
"It's only ever been me and my mom. My dad died when I was barely a year old, but she wouldn't talk about him. I didn't even have any pictures of him, and so last year, I dug. He died of a drug overdose. And I can't help but be thankful because look at where I am now. Valedictorian, and I got into my first choice of colleges. But if he hadn't died, what would have happened of me? And I've read Requiem for a Dream and I watched Trainspotting, and none of those stories end well for anyone. My story wouldn't be this good if my dad had lived, and that makes me feel terrible for thinking that. I just want to read a story where everything works out in the end. Everything worked out for you, Cas. You're happily married, you've got a kid on the way, you're about to get your PhD, and you have two masters and two bachelor degrees…"
"Okay, I'm a career student, I know."
"… and I need a happy ending. I need to believe that somehow, if he hadn't died, I could have turned out alright. I have to believe he could have beat it, just like you did," Kevin finished with a breath. Then added, as an afterthought, "And yes, soda would be great."
Castiel stood, calmly walked over to get a can and walked toward the boy to press it into his hands. "I didn't beat it. I still think about it, Kevin. Every day I think about it. Nobody beats it; we live with it. And if it makes you feel better…" Castiel turned to me, "Chuck, would it be okay if you sent him a PDF of the story or something?"
I looked around Castiel toward the boy. "Are you 18 and worried about being scarred for life at semi-explicit scenes between your teacher and his future husband?"
Castiel grew red and Kevin said, "Um…"
"Sure thing, kid. I'll send it to you. It's going to be long as hell though, so thanks for that, Cas."
"You ready, Kevin?" Dean asked as he walked downstairs. He was in his black and gray LARPing uniform, and he frowned at the scene before him, aware something had happened and he missed it. He just looked at Kevin, who nodded and backed away from Castiel, before Dean glanced at his husband. "Not coming, Cas?"
"No. I think I would like a word with our author in private, as it may be my last chance to do so under the pretext of helping him with the book. Have fun, though. Be safe. I hear winter is coming."
Dean grinned, "Winter is always coming." He walked forward, placing his hands on the side of his husbands face and dragging him in for a kiss. It was short, just a farewell, but I shot a look at Kevin hoping that he realized that this was mild for the pair of them. Kevin just gulped. "Later, Cas. I love you."
"I love you, too, Dean," he said and watched as the man nodded to his archer and the two of them took off to slay the bad guys.
And then there were two.
When Castiel sat back down, he started rubbing behind Inias' ears, and the cat purred loudly at the attention. We were quiet for a long moment, and I took a sip of the soda, watching Castiel with the cat. A cat that shouldn't be in the house in the first place because Dean was allergic. I was sitting in a house were Dean would subject himself to copious amounts of Claritin and runny eyes and stuffy noses just to make his husband happy.
And I smiled, remembering that broken boy who had knocked on Dean's porch in the rain, begging for forgiveness and getting turned away. They had come so far. All of them had come so far.
"So this is it?" Castiel asked, angling his face to look up at me. "This is the end?"
"This is it," I said. "Any last words?"
"A few," Castiel said, standing up. He walked around the table, and even when we were both standing, he towered over me. While I was still sitting, he looked like a giant. I stood too, just so I didn't feel quite as threatened. "It was very invasive. It brought me back to a place I never wanted to return to. It always looked so easy for Lucifer, but I was always burdened with the knowledge of what I had done. But you made me relive it – and for what, your need for a story? – and do you remember what you did every time I got upset? You asked me if I was happy now. And I can honestly say the answer to that is yes. This has been more therapeutic for me than… So, yes, I have something I needed to say to you in private."
I put my hand over his shoulder. He looked at me with a small frown, squinting down at me like I was one of the few math problems he couldn't quite solve, and I wavered. I had misread our friendship. I took my hand off of him.
A moment passed, a heartbeat, then Castiel wrapped his arms around me. The room was still and quiet – I could hear the clocks ticking on the wall and see the dust floating in the air in a ray of sunlight bursting through the window – and I could feel his body holding me like I swear I've never been held in my life. It was familial and comforting, loving and strong. It was the way he hugged his brothers, chest to chest, so the feel of the other's beating heart could comfort them. I counted the ticks of the clock – three, four, five – and I lifted my arms, settling them on his back.
"Thank you, Chuck," Castiel whispered, squeezing me tight one final time before letting me go, holding me at arm's length.
"It…" my voice squeaked. I cleared my throat and tried again. "It was my honor, Cas. Thanks for letting me write it." I didn't tell him what I wanted to then. I didn't tell him how it was therapeutic for me too. How, in just a few short months, I had gone from drinking multiple drinks every day to just drinking occasionally with my friends at their parties. I couldn't thank him for how his story helped me.
But Castiel smiled anyway, taking another step back and letting his arms fall back to his sides. The room was still for a moment longer before Inias raised his head at the pair of us and meowed. Castiel chuckled – a nervous, slightly uncomfortable thing in the back of his throat – and turned back to the cat. He ran one hand lazily over the cat's back, and the beast was purring again.
"Oh," Castiel took a few steps backwards, walking toward the living room. "I finished Please Don't Come Back From The Moon, and you were right. It made me think about my father and how we were forced to grow up too fast when he left. Your recommendation was perfect, as always. Hold on a moment; I'll grab the book for you."
I watched him turn and jog up the stairs. Then I turned back to the MacBook.
I had no idea how to end the story. I had had months to think about it, but nothing can ever really prepare an author for that moment. The ending. All I had was the ghost of a whisper – a professor's voice in my ear – reminding me to always end on an image. None of that lofty, crazy thoughtful stuff, but instead an image that would somehow convey all that I wanted to say, depicted through sight alone.
I wouldn't be able to do that. I was too close to back away now. He might fail me on principle just for ignoring the unwritten writer's code.
I saved the document and emailed it to myself. I fished the keys out of my pocket, looking back down at the word document. I had to write all of the notes into sentences, anyway. And I had to drive home… maybe I could think of something on the way. I left without saying goodbye, knowing that Castiel would find the MacBook and an empty chair where I used to be. He would give me my book back later. He always did.
I had to go. It was time to sit down and do the real work.
But even at the end of all of it, it wasn't easy. I sat there, wondering what I could possibly say after all of that to give it the ending it deserved. To make Dean and Castiel, Sam and Lucifer, and all the Novaks, the Winchesters, and all their partners happy with what I created for them.
Instead, I thought about the baby growing in Jo's belly, and I had my answer.
No doubt – endings are hard. But then again, nothing ever really ends. Does it?
"Marry Song" by Band of Horses is the song Lucifer and Sam sing in the car at the beginning.
"Someone Like You" by Adele is the song Castiel is listening to while doing the dishes. ("Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson is the song that plays after that).
"Feels Like The First Time" by Foreigner is the song that Dean and Cas first danced to after their engagement.
"Meds" by Placebo is the alarm reminder for Castiel and Lucifer to take their medication.
"Song of Songs" is the thing Lucifer is quoting in bed with Sam.
"The Plagues" from the Prince of Egypt is what Lucifer and Michael were singing. Then all of the Novaks sing "When You Believe" from the same movie after.
"Come on up to the house" by Sarah Jarosz is the song Lucifer is playing when Crowley gets to the Winchesters' house.
"Red Sam" by Flyleaf is the song Lucifer quotes in the Church.
"Today 4 U" from RENT is the song Gabriel does at the bachelor party.
"Past Lives" by Ke$ha is the song Meg and Cas are dancing too.
"Glad You Came" by the Wanted is the song playing when Lucifer and Sam are on the hill (same song as last time).
The four songs Lucifer quotes during his proposal is "Without You" from RENT ("I die without you"), "I am Human" by Brian Buckley Band ("I am human and I will let you down"), "Knockout" by Perma ("It's worth it for a knockout just like you"), and of course, my unofficial Samifer theme song "The Gambler" by fun. ("I swear when I grow up, I won't just buy you a rose. I'll buy the flower shop and you will never be lonely. I will not leave, I will not leave, 'til it's our time. So just take my hand, you know that I will never leave your side.")
As mentioned, Gabriel, Claire, and Castiel were playing "Everybody Wants to be a Cat" from the Aristocats at the wedding.
"So Close" by Calvin Harris is the song Castiel is playing with Phil gives him the present.
For the last time, when Dean and Cas walk out of the kitchen, the wedding party sings "I Just Had Sex" by the Lonely Island ft Akon.
When Jess is talking about the proposal, two songs get quoted. By Jess it was "Single Ladies" by Beyonce, and by Cas it was "Your Love" by Nicki Minaj.
"Home" by Phillip Phillips is the song that Lucifer and Sam and the Novaks sing at the reception.
"Your Love is My Drug" by Ke$ha is the song Lucifer dedicates to the happy couple.
"Hold On" by Alabama Shakes is the song playing when Jo says yes to Cas.
"Stars" by fun. is the song Lucifer is singing while Sam plays with the autotune.
"As You Wish" by Alesana is the song Gabriel quotes.