A/N: This is it guys, this fic is finally complete. So enjoy and thank you for sticking by this. (additional author's note at the end of this chapter)
Dean had one moment a week later where he freaked out and took off without a word. He had been sitting on the plush leather couch in Castiel's apartment, so much nicer than his, with his bills spread out before him and Castiel curled up next to him, huddled in one of Dean's old shirts and sweats, with a book when it hit him. Within only the span of a few weeks Dean had fallen into the routine of being with Castiel, had his clothes shoved into drawers next to Castiel's, a toothbrush propped on the sink, the dinning table covered in newspaper and car parts, his records stacked next to the record player they had bought at a flea market Castiel had dragged him to and his blu-rays shelved along with Castiel's theology journals. The next thing Dean knew, he was ensconced in the impala heading east on RT. 70.
He cursed when he realized his mistake; when he thought of Castiel wrapped up in his clothes, book in hand, probably wondering where Dean had gone, if he'd be back. He tried to remember what Castiel had done when Dean had bolted, if he had reached out, called his name, or if he had sat quiet, puzzled, head titled to the side and brow furrowed, a small pout turning down the corners of his mouth. But for the life of him he couldn't remember it.
He pulled himself off onto the side of the road and dug into the pockets of his leather jacket, exhaling a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding when he felt the smooth casing of his flip phone. He looked at it for a moment, hesitating before opening it when he thought of Castiel's laugh and gentle teasing the first time he saw it, how his nose crinkled and his smile turned gummy. His thumb hovered over the number two speed dial before he pressed one and waited patiently. His call was answered a few seconds later and he relaxed back into the leather of his seat when he heard his brother's familiar voice.
"Dean? What's up? I thought we weren't getting together till round seven at the Roadhouse like usual." Dean sighed and rubbed at his eyes, nodding though he knew Sam couldn't see him.
"Yeah, no- it's nothing." He blew out a breath and looked out at the road, watching cars pass by sporadically on the relatively empty stretch of asphalt. "Just needed to hear your voice, that's all." Sam huffed a stunted laugh, as if not sure how to interpret Dean's statement.
"Dude? Are you okay? Did you and Cas get into a fight?" Dean shook his head, exhaling heavily across the line. His fingers picked at a loose thread on the seam of his jeans as he listened to Sam breathe on the other end. "Dean?"
"Everything's fine, Sam. I just-" he let out a soft groan and rubbed at his eyes, pressing his forehead to the warm leather of the steering wheel. "I don't want to fuck this up." Sam sighed on the other end.
"You won't Dean." Dean shot up quickly, his body tensing and his lips pulling into a grimace as he gripped the cell a little bit harder.
"How do you know?" he bit out and he could practically hear Sam's replying bitch face over the receiver.
"Dean, he risked his relationship with his twin sister, his family, just to be with you." Dean bit his lip, worrying it between his teeth as Sam huffed and something rustled on the other end. "Where are you?"
"Sitting on the side of Rt. 70."
"Go home, Dean."
"He'll realize he's too good for me, one day." Sam started to say something over the line but cut himself off and ended with another huff instead, frustrated by the conversation and Dean's low self-worth. Dean closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, concentrating on matching his own breaths to Sam's across the distance, pushing his overwhelming fears away but failing.
"Maybe," Sam said softly, and Dean's shoulders slumped a little more. "Or maybe he never will. Maybe he thinks you're the best thing that has ever and will ever happened to him. Maybe you'll grow old and die together or maybe you'll part ways by the end of the year but the fact of the matter is you won't know until you've tried." Sam sighed and Dean held back his own as he nodded, taking in his brother's words. "Go home Dean. Talk to Cas."
Dean nodded, muttering a soft, "thanks, Sammy," before shutting the phone and tossing it onto the passenger seat, running his palms over his face. He took a deep breath and twisted the key in the ignition; the engine turning over in a smooth rumble that Dean could feel. He tightened his hands on the steering wheel and merged back onto the road, taking only a few minutes to turn around and head home. Home where Castiel was, with this books stacked on tables and against walls where they couldn't fit on overstuffed shelves and bookcases. With his collection of expired prescription drugs because he didn't know how to properly dispose of them and didn't want to harm any animals in doing so. Castiel with his fitted waistcoats, and oversized sweaters, and tan trench coat hung up by the door where a peg waited for Dean's own leather jacket.
He wondered briefly when home had become the modern apartment way out of Dean's price range and not the small, two bedroom, one bathroom that he shared with Sam. He wondered for a moment if he had abandoned his brother too quickly in his pursuit of Castiel but pushed the thought aside when his phone buzzed with a text from Sam reading once you've talked to Cas, get your ass over here and get the rest of your shit!
He opened the door to home a half hour later, Castiel still tucked where he had left him, folded up on the couch, large book in his lap, his face the picture of calm. He lifted his head and smiled when Dean entered and titled his head slightly to the left when he stood at the door, still and eyes wide. "Is everything okay?" he asked and Dean felt himself nodding as he pushed the door shut behind him and dropped his keys onto the sideboard next to Castiel's; his new apartment key, given to him after Castiel's talk with Anna, clicking against the wood. He crossed the room and sat down heavily next to Castiel, reaching out and taking his face in his hands, his thumb sweeping against the skin of Castiel's cheekbone before he pressed in, closing the distance. Castiel gave a muffled gasp but quickly responded, pressing forward, his own hands slipping against the warm skin of Dean's neck as his lips met Dean's press for press.
Dean pulled back and watched as Castiel slowly opened his eyes, pupil's blown, dopey smile and stubble dark. "I love you, Cas," he stated softly, almost hesitant, his heart jumping into his throat, and Castiel's smile grew wide, gummy as he let out a soft laugh and pressed another kiss to Dean's mouth, resting his forehead against Dean's as he replied.
"I love you too, Dean Winchester." Dean nodded and though he tried not to he couldn't help the answering smile that spread his own lips wide as he curled his arm around Castiel's shoulder and settled back into the couch, soaking up the warmth and love Castiel so readily gave, not caring how fast he fell into it or how long he'd be able to hold onto it. He'd hold onto it for as long as Castiel would let him.
Castiel supposed he shouldn't have been surprised when Dean took off without a word and disappeared for well over an hour. He hadn't been sure what had set the younger man off, what had propelled him out the door and away from Castiel, his mail that Sam had dropped off the night before spread out on the coffee table, abandoned. Castiel had spent the next ten minutes after he'd gone pacing the open space of the living room; his thumb hovering over the touch screen of his phone, debating whether or not to call Dean and ask him what was going on. He managed to take a deep breath soon after, put his phone down, and return to his reading secure in the knowledge that Dean would be back.
The question that niggled at the back of Castiel's mind did have him casting glances at his phone every fifteen minutes until Dean returned though. What if Dean didn't want to stay? Castiel had to admit that things felt a little too easy, as if things had fallen into place without the expected modicum of hardship that had all too happily settled in his stomach after his talk with Anna. If Castiel was truthful, it still hovered over him like a black cloud, threatening a downpour of rain that could flood Dean and all the goodness, affection, and love that he afforded away. That at any moment, Dean would realize just who he had gotten involved with, a man who apparently had no qualms over hurting his own family to get what he wanted, who brought as much baggage as a super jet crossing the Atlantic carried, and run. Not that Castiel could or would blame him. Castiel often felt that were he in Dean's position, he would run too.
He huffed and shut his book, a conclusive history into the creation of the God mythos, and shoved it onto the couch beside him before grabbing his cell and tapping the dark screen in contemplation. Either he could call Dean, demand answers to his questions and effectively end the budding yet speedy build of their relationship after which he would call his brother up to get spectacularly drunk and most likely start the entire cycle over again. Or he could let Dean handle whatever was obviously bothering him and wait patiently for his return.
He tapped the screen twice more with his thumb before tossing it back onto the coffee table and settling back into the couch. He read four pages over the span of an hour when Dean finally returned. Castiel supposed he shouldn't have been surprised when Dean finally said it after kissing him breathless for what seemed to be minutes on end. He smiled wide and laughed and returned the affection whole heartedly, pressing soft kisses into the skin of Dean's jaw as they settled back into the couch, book and minor freak out forgotten.
Dean tried but failed utterly to keep the cringe from his face as Castiel shepherded him through the furniture store. The selections were many but most of what Castiel pointed out seemed a little too modern for Dean's homegrown tastes. Castiel at least seemed to find the fleeting looks amusing as he tried hard to keep the corners of his lips from turning upwards whenever Dean nodded stiltedly at a piece that Castiel had pointed out.
"It would help if you made a few suggestions of your own, Dean," Castiel commented softly as he sat down on a plush leather couch that looked similar to the one Dean had him pressed to a few hours before. Dean sighed a shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know, man. I mean part of me doesn't even really understand why we're here." Castiel sighed and patted the leather cushion next to him. Dean raised an eyebrow and smirked, but otherwise sat down, leaving a respectable distance between them as Castiel looked about the store.
"I know things have been moving pretty fast," Castiel began, pausing when Dean huffed a forced laugh, his eyebrows receding up into his hairline as he stretched his arms across the back of the couch, palming the leather and avoiding Castiel's calm gaze. "However seeing as how you are paying half of the rent and utilities, I think it's about time you make our apartment your home too." Dean shrugged his shoulders and thumbed a loose thread on Castiel's shoulder, his lips pursed and his gaze focused on the floor.
"I moved my stuff in. I'm good. Don't need much."
"Dean." Dean sighed heavily and shook his head, shrugging his shoulders.
"Really Cas, I'm good. I've got you, my chair, my records, and my baby. I don't need anything else." Castiel rolled his eyes and pressed a kiss of Dean's jaw, huffing a laugh when the other man cringed and scrubbed at his skin as if to wipe it away but he otherwise didn't move from his position on the couch and the arm that had settled behind Castiel on the couch only pulled him closer.
"Well then, for my sake you need to help me pick out new furniture," Castiel replied. "What sits in there now reminds me too much of Balthazar for my liking and in no way fits that chair you just had to drag in."
"Hey!" Dean exclaimed, frowning as he pulled away slightly from Castiel who's expression remained neutral and unassuming though a slight smile quirked up the corners of his lips. "That was my dad's chair and it still remains the best thing my ass has ever sat upon, thank you very much." Castiel quirked one eyebrow upwards and looked down at his lap before shifting his gaze once more to Dean's face. Dean coughed and sputtered, shoving Castiel away as he got up from the couch and shook his head, his face turning red. Castiel barked out a laugh, catching the attention of other customers as he pushed himself up off the couch and caught up with Dean who had begun walking away. His hands fit too easily against Dean's skin as he reached forward to pull Dean back to him, muffling his chuckles into the worn leather of Dean's shoulder who sarcastically imitated his laugh and patted at his hands. "Yeah, you're a freaking comedian Cas. Really funny."
Castiel simply smiled and hooked his chin over Dean's shoulder, nudging him towards another living room display. Dean grinned when he noted to large plush loveseat and matching couch, the warm brown leather already worn and broken in. Dean broke away and sat himself down in the corner of the loveseat, fitting himself into its crevices and grinning when Castiel joined him soon after. "So, this one?"
Dean shrugged his shoulders and propped his feet up on the coffee table, ignoring the glare from one of the store employees as he shuffled down into his seat, the leather enveloping him in warmth as Castiel slid closer, his presence a comforting weight at his side. "Yeah, this'll work. Look's like the same leather as my dad's recliner." Castiel smiled and pressed another kiss to Dean's jaw that he didn't bother wiping off. Instead he grinned and pulled Castiel off the couch and towards the bedroom displays declaring they might as well pick out a new set while they were there.
"You look happy." Castiel found he could only nod in reply as he stared at the taller man, still slightly shocked to see him standing there, especially given how they had parted ways. Yet there Balthazar was, the collar of his winter coat pulled up against the chill and his blue eyes just a bit too mournful to truly meet his gaze. Castiel shifted his weight from one foot to the other as Balthazar kicked at some loose bit of gravel outside the Roadhouse. "Good. That's good," Balthazar commented after a moment of silence.
Castiel let out a huff of air and watched as it danced in front of him before forcing himself to meet Balthazar's stare. "Why are you here?" he asked and Balthazar merely shrugged his shoulders before he cast a glance towards the bar, through the window where Dean sat along with Sam, Jess, and two of Castiel's brothers. Balthazar nodded at the sight and gaze a choked off laugh.
"Seems he fits right in, doesn't he." Castiel frowned and watched as Dean laughed openly and loudly with Gabriel and Sam, Lucifer snickering behind his glass as Jess shook her head in amusement. He looked back at Balthazar to find the other man frowning, his jaw clenched tight as he stared at the scene before them. "Guess everything worked out for the best then."
"Balthazar," Castiel said softly, reaching out and letting his hand drop before he could make contact, knowing he had no right to try and offer comfort. Balthazar gave another sad smile and shook his head, looking down at his shoes and shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his coat. "I never," he began, sighing when Balthazar's eyebrows rose upwards in question as Castiel shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "I never meant to hurt you."
"It's alright, Cassie. I know." Castiel's frown deepened and Balthazar took a step forward, too close to be anything but familiar as he reached out and brushed his thumb across Castiel's stubble, palm cold against his skin. He leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Castiel's forehead, murmuring, "I miss you," before stepping back and away seconds later, hand once again safely ensconced in his pocket. Castiel shook his head and took a step back as well, creating a larger space between them.
"Hey Cas! You're missing out on all the-" Castiel sighed and closed his eyes, turning towards Dean who exited the Roadhouse, his statement falling short as his eyes caught sight of the taller man standing there. Dean frowned, his eyes narrowing as he crossed the short distance to stand by Castiel's side. "I was wondering what was taking you so long. I know it doesn't take ten minutes to retrieve a phone from the car," Dean commented, eyes locked on Balthazar who only glared back. Castiel huffed and extracted the keys to impala from his pocket, placing them gently in Dean's hand, his thumb pressing gently to Dean's wrist.
"Sorry to keep him from you," Balthazar said and Dean scoffed in reply.
"No. You're not." Balthazar laughed and nodded as Castiel called Dean's name softly.
"You're right. I'm not." Dean sneered and Balthazar rolled his eyes, taking another step backwards, towards the small parking lot and away from them. "See you Castiel." He gave a small wave and turned away as Dean bristled and Castiel's shoulders sagged underneath an unseen weight.
"What the fuck was that about?" Dean demanded, rounding on Castiel who frowned and shook his head, shrugging his shoulders.
"I don't know Dean. I was walking back inside when he approached me." Dean clenched his jaw and nodded stiffly and Castiel found he couldn't help but smile just a little.
"What?" Dean barked as Castiel pressed in close and shook his head, understanding dawning on him as Dean puffed up and glared down at him. "Damn it, Cas, what?"
"Nothing, Dean," he replied softly, catching his arm and turning him towards the entrance. "Come on, let's go back inside." Dean exhaled deeply through his nose and shook his head, grumbling under his breath but pulling Castiel closer to his side as they made their way back into the bar. He would never admit it aloud if only because Dean would vehemently deny it but he found jealousy to be a very adorable look on the younger man.
If Dean was a little bit more affectionate than usual, Castiel didn't comment. Gabriel and Lucifer did that for him.
Dean thought he'd never get used to it. Never get used to waking up to the warm press of Castiel at his side, his hair ruffled and dark and sweet smelling against his nose. Castiel's skin hot and pliant, his legs tangled in the sheets and Dean's own. He'd never get used to the feeling of hesitation, of wondering if it would really be a bad thing to hit the snooze button and curl against Castiel for just a little longer instead of rolling away to another day of work while Castiel got to laze in just a bit longer.
He'd never get used to the hard, smooth, cherry wood floors, or the nightstand that proudly displayed pictures of both his and Castiel's family, mixed together as one giant group. He'd never get used to the sight of Castiel's pressed suits and waist coats and sweaters hung up next to his old worn flannel, or the leather oxfords next to his dirty, scuffed, and worn, old work boots. He'd never get used to Mary's afghan over the couch or his dad's records stacked neatly next to the entertainment center or his Vonnegut novels stuffed in between theology journals and bibles.
Dean thought he'd never get used to waking up and feeling like he belonged. On weekends when he could afford to hit the snooze button and curl closer to Castiel, press up against him till they were one long line of flesh and bone, Dean figured that was okay. He never wanted to get used to it anyways as it left everything feeling new.
He was supposed to have never seen him again. It was supposed to have been a one-time deal borne out of loneliness and one too many fruity drinks that had left him with more bad ideas than good ones. While the encounter had been enjoyable and an experience that Castiel looked back on fondly, it was also one that never was supposed to see the light of day, something that was supposed to have been kept secret and safe from prying fingers and judging eyes.
He was supposed to have ended up content if not happy with Balthazar, satisfied to spend his days with a man he loved but would never truly be in love with. As Castiel watched Dean cross the bedroom intent on getting dressed to the day, his green eyes alight and his lips turned up in a knowing smirk, one that knew how Castiel felt, how he fell apart beneath Dean's hands, Castiel was glad that his secret was no longer just his. When Dean fell onto the bed next to him, clothes forgotten momentarily, eyes full of mirth and a smile that begged to be seen, to be kissed, and uttered Castiel's name in a way that had his knees weak, Castiel knew his world would never be the same again. He was awfully glad that Dean had never gotten the memo.
A/N2: First off thank you, thank you, thank you for sticking till the end. I know I've totally sucked the past two months without giving you this and I'm really sorry but it's here now, it's yours, and I beg your forgiveness and hope this ending is everything you've hoped it would be.
Secondly, over the course of this week (maybe month as I'm currently waiting to hear back on a job that could very well keep me very busy) I will be editing this fic and getting it ready for a PDF download as well as archival on my website, . If I have time I also want to add some art to it (which reminds me if any of you have artwork that you would like to share, please do so! I would love to see it and add it to the PDF as well if its okay with you as the artist). That being said, I will be creating a master post when the PDF is ready for download both on livejournal and on my tumblr.
Finally, while I do have plans for a new au verse (it's a gardening/landscaping one!) I do have a few more ideas for this verse as well as the timestamps: Resolutions in the Kitchen to work on. I'm also taking on TWO fics to illustrate for the DC Big Bang this year so I will be a very busy bee. I'll be keeping updates on these projects over on my tumblr.
Again, thank you so much for everything. I really do hope you all enjoy this as much as I've enjoyed writing it.