It wasn't about the gay thing. Not when they were staking out a suspected fang bar and Cas wanted to order something with eight different ingredients, at least three of which were fruit, because it "looked fascinating." And ok, yeah, it did, and even like it probably tasted pretty good, but that wasn't the point, and he resented having to explain it hissed between his teeth as low as possible in a crowded room.

The point was that there were certain things that were Dude things and certain things that were Chick things, and those were lines that very few people got to cross and then only in very specific, careful ways, like how Sammy's six foot four and change vertical and two and a half feet across the shoulders bought him public salads and that haircut. For everyone else, especially angels who looked like unemployed junior lawyers or Hunters who needed every advantage their squishy mortal selves could eke out, the lines were set in stone.

The point was that hesitation in an adversary tonight when the shit went down could save someone's life - even their own - and could be as simple as how they were assessed right now. It could be the difference between watching he and Cas take doubles of gasoline-brutally disgusting and potent cheap whiskey without flinching or watching them sip something tasty and sweet in a glass with fruit and colored sugar on the rim. The way when he ordered a double bacon cheeseburger and sworn he could eat the whole thing he'd gotten that hint of a smile from dad that said he was becoming a man, a Hunter, someone who could be trusted to have his back in a fight, carry a piece, take care of Sammy without help, dress his own wounds, and when he'd ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, nothing was said but there had been an appraising stiffness, a caution that worried unspoken that Dean was one fat-free frozen yogurt from fleeing lisping and limp-wristed from the next thing that might muss his hair or break a nail.

It wasn't about the gay thing. No one messed with a badass. Everyone and their bloody-clawed cousin was ready to play smear the queer. It was just tactical, and he didn't hold anything against those who had the luxury of fruity drinks or fruity clothes or fruity anything at all. Because Cas was right; pomegranate, raspberry, lime, and blueberry was probably really great, especially in South Carolina in August, but Senator's Club blended whiskey gave people the far more honest in its way warning that this was a man who could put his fist down your throat with an excellent chance based on a lot of experience of coming back up with your spleen on the first try.

It wasn't about the gay thing. Not when he came out of the shower in the motel room and found Cas making breakfast for him at the little table, even if it was just holding sausage and cheese Hotpockets in his hand and angel-zapping them. Because Cas wasn't wearing the coat or jacket for once, and there was something about seeing him in his shirtsleeves that was so intimate that it caught the breath thick in his throat. And yeah, he looked surprisingly good and it was easy to forget how badly fitted all those extra layers were or that he was in pretty good shape under there after all, but that wasn't the point.

The point was Lisa making coffee and waffles in her panties and one of his grease-stained tshirts and no bra and not jumping when he slipped up behind her and kissed the back of her neck, even though she was right next to a rack of knives and he could have just as easily slit her throat. It was about someone trusting him and wanting to take care of him and the thoughtless, priceless assurance that they knew just because he could and would tear the world to blood with his bare hands, it would only be to protect them.

The point was knowing he could go up to that being - that cosmic force barely contained in flesh who could level cities with a thought like a fucking nuke - and put his arms around his waist and nuzzle his neck as confidently and safely as he'd done it to a five foot seven, hundred and twenty-ish pound yoga instructor. Not that he did. But he knew that he could, and that made him smile in a way that was a little too broad for breakfast.

It wasn't about the gay thing. It was about feeling for an instant like a real person who mattered to another real person who didn't need him. Who could get by without him and had for an entire lifetime - or in Cas' case a few million of them - before he'd come along, but who chose not to. Who chose him. Wanted him, even knowing what he was and that he ate Hotpockets for breakfast in cheap motels with minifridges that forever smelled like moldy Chinese.

It wasn't about the gay thing. When they finally convinced him that an overcoat and suit might stand out a little more than they wanted in a beach town and talked Cas into a pair of jeans and a tshirt just for now, it wasn't some kind of homophobia bullshit that made him look away too quickly and think of yellow, stinking pus oozing out a zombie's eye sockets to get the sudden Jesus-Dean-it-shouldn't-be-like-that-at-damn-near-thirty-five boner under control. Shit, he'd teared up a little watching some old dudes on TV talking about how they'd been together for sixty plus years before gay marriage passed in their state. And lesbians were just hot, even the butch ones. It wasn't like he thought he was a bad person how it had been completely impossible not to notice that Jimmy Novak had apparently bequeathed heaven a fantastic ass.

The point was that his mind got about three seconds in that direction before it rammed right between the sweaty thighs of a trucker somewhere in Missouri. Before it found a hand smashed on the back of his head and every scrap of willpower he'd ever known he possessed fighting his gag reflex and trying to breathe through his nose without smelling anything. Because Dad had been gone a week longer than he said and they'd had to leave that motel before child services were called because the owner had noticed and now they were out of cash and the credit cards weren't working and there weren't a lot of options at sixteen, but when they'd laughed his fake ID away from the bar where he'd hoped to hustle pool, the fat, leering bastard in the Peterbuilt had offered him a crisp fifty for his purdy Deliverance mouth.

The point was it had bought a motel that night and a long distance call to get bus tickets from Bobby and fed Sam on the way there. Dean hadn't been hungry. The point was that it hadn't been a one-time thing, even if it had never been what anyone would call often and didn't count as really gay-for-pay because he'd always flat refused to take it up the butt, and he'd had a small arsenal to reinforce those standards.

It wasn't about the gay thing when he caught himself looking at Cas' mouth like that and knowing it was so wrong because he was a fucking angel, and when he realized that was probably exactly the same thoughts those other bastards had if you just substituted "kid" for "angel," and when he had to lock himself in a bathroom and wash his face with cold water until he stopped wanting to hurl. It was about how Cas deserved so much better than that sick shit and he'd never, ever want to do something like that to his beloved friend.

It wasn't about the gay thing when he had realized back in Purgatory that if Sam moved on to a life that wasn't hunting was more likely to be when Sam moved on to a life that wasn't hunting (though it wasn't supposed to be that quick, damn him). When he had realized that if Cas was with him instead, that would almost be ok, because they had all the things that had been so amazing about hunting with Sammy before everything so literally went to hell, but without all the same baggage. Not that they didn't have baggage. They had plenty. But the point was that it wasn't the same baggage.

The point was that Cas didn't have a problem with the hunting lifestyle itself any more than Dean did. The problems all came from monsters or ways they'd wound up fucking each other over while trying to handle monsters. When it was just about ganking something that bled funny colors and had the wrong number of sharp parts, it was gorgeous, easy, instinctive...and mutual. Cas was a warrior. They'd been born to it, and there was a purity of understanding and purpose there that didn't make him feel like a psychopath when he'd wanted to celebrate instead of have an existential crisis after chopping a few Leviathan heads in half.

The point was that he and Cas GOT each other. Maybe not on pop culture and fruity drinks, but on the things that they couldn't tell another living soul and didn't even need to tell each other. Black blood and burgers and daddy issues and warped senses of responsibility and having the blood and shame of everyone you'd ever loved on your hands and knowing what it felt like to become everything you'd ever dedicated your eternal soul to hating and trying to claw your way back from that and not really being able to. But not holding that against the one other poor bastard in the same boat.

It wasn't about the gay thing that Cas was the most precious remnant of okay in a world where the child you raised since you were a child was going to be irrevocably grown up now any day now in a way he should have been eight years ago. In a world where he was about to be so alone and so broken and with no one left to go home to even if home was just tonight's motel and the back seat of a big chunk of glossy black gas guzzler.

It wasn't about the gay thing that tightened his shoulders on the edge of every touch either. That pulled him back from anything that almost became a kiss. That broke the eye contact when it seemed like Cas might be looking a little too deeply or when he was getting stupid again and pretending he could have any clue what was going on inside a brain that could comprehend things that would give Stephen Hawking IQ aneurysms. Because the point was, Cas mattered.

The point was, things that mattered to Dean Winchester did not have a good track record at not winding up utterly FUBAR. It was that for all they fit together, there were existentially ridiculously, immortally huge gaps between them that a friendship could be lost in so easily. Almost had. More than once. It was that there were so many ways that pushing for more could destroy everything they - everything he - had and needed and relied on.

The point was that Cas as a friend, as a comrade, as a piece of his life was so much more than he ever deserved, and he knew every reason of why. He'd been there, seen it, seen the black and twisted thing he'd become and what he'd done (and saved him any way, but that had been under orders) and seen everything since. That he was still there was a kind of impossibility too terrifyingly fragile to dare dissect, the proverbial up until very recently jumper hanging in mid air until the moment they looked down. He didn't dare look down.

It wasn't about the gay thing that not enforcing bad whiskey would be looking down. It wasn't about the gay thing that he didn't kiss the soft spot behind Cas' jaw with the grease of cheap sausage and plastic cheese on his lips. It wasn't about the gay thing that he didn't unbutton those new jeans and shove him against the back of the dressing room like he wouldn't hesitate to do with a girl. It wasn't about the gay thing that he didn't ask if they could just stay together whatever Sammy decided whenever he decided it and drive around and gank shit and hustle pool and laugh at late night infomercials and bad porn. It wasn't about the gay thing that made all of those so much too much more than he deserved to have, that made them so greedy that it almost defiled them further.

The point was that Greed was a mortal sin, as was Lust, and he understood this. He always had, and it was why he would never really be able to fully explain to Cas why he should still be in Hell and how angels are not the only ones who can fall so completely.