Sam walks into Dean's room about half an hour before Dean is due to leave for his second chance date with Cas, a grin spread across his face that clearly reads 'no, I will not let you live this down'. Dean sighs and steels himself for his brother's attempts at humour.
"Picked out a little black dress yet?" Sam asks, right on cue. Dean raises an eyebrow.
"Thought I'd go with the tried and tested mini-skirt, actually," he retorts. "I'm going for 'classy yet available'." He turns away from his brother's self-satisfied smirk and eyes himself in the mirror.
Sam clears his throat and Dean sighs, turning to face him again. His brother is standing with his hands in his pockets, looking slightly sheepish.
"Dean," he says. Dean waits for the follow-up comment, but it doesn't come. He gestures for Sam to continue, and Sam scratches the back of his neck, awkwardly. "I just wanted to know why you're doing this," he finally continues. "Because a few weeks ago, you were going on dates with pretty much every woman who looked your way, and Cas was helping you do it. I didn't knew you... well. Y'know."
"Not psychic, Sam," Dean points out helpfully. Sam rubs his face like he's the most put-upon person under the sun.
"I didn't know you were into dudes," he finishes, bluntly. Dean blinks.
"I'm not," he says. He turns to inspect himself in the mirror again. He's wearing his usual t-shirt, jacket and jeans, but he's suddenly struck with the thought that this a date and maybe he should actually dress up for it. "Hey, do you think I should go the extra mile and wear a shirt – I mean a proper one, one with a tie and shit - or just not bother? I mean, I bet Cas will just show up in his usual flasher coat. I don't want to look over-dressed. Just fabulous."
Sam ignores him.
"What do you mean you're not?" he asks. "Dude, in case you didn't realise, Cas totally has a dick. He's a guy."
"Oh Mr Holmes, you've solved it again," mutters Dean, and he sighs. He's not really prepared to talk about feelings right now, least of all with Sam. He'd actually rather talk about glitter and Adam Lambert, although he's actually pretty sure that that conversation is on the horizon, too. "Look, I don't know, OK? I just know I'm not into men. Like, really not."
"But Cas - "
"I don't know, Sam," Dean interrupts him, exasperated. He runs a hand through his hair and tries to compose his thoughts into at least a semi-linear pattern. He's never been good at explaining himself, least of all when it really matters, and this totally matters. "It's not men. It's not dudes. It's just Cas, OK? Not Ryan Gosling, or Burt Reynolds, or fucking Zac Efron. Just Cas. Now, can we stop talking about this? I can practically feel my manhood shrivelling up."
Sam looks thoughtful. Dean sighs. Sam's obviously not going to drop it.
"You know, it does sort of make sense," Sam says. "I suppose Cas is sort of... genderless, right? I mean, he's in the body of a guy, but as an angel, he's not really a man or a woman."
Dean doesn't even know if that's it. Sam's right, it would make sense, but he thinks it's honestly ust because Cas is Cas and Cas is awesome.
"Yeah," he says, sort of gruffly. "Makes sense. Now tell me; tie or no tie?"
"No tie. Ties make you look like an air-conditioning salesman."
"And they make you look like you've been sentenced to community service."
Sam laughs, and claps Dean on the shoulder in a way that's probably supposed to be brotherly and manly but just comes across as slightly patronising and uncomfortable.
"Go get him, tiger," he says. Dean winces.
"Never say that again," he tells him. He pauses. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it," says Sam. Dean grins. His brother can be a giant pain in the ass sometimes, but he's generally pretty awesome. Dean's lucky. He's about to tell him this when Sam raises his hand. "No. Really, Dean. Don't mention anything you may or may not get up to tonight. I may never love again if you do."
Dean looks at Sam. Sam looks at Dean.
"Sorry I'm early," says Cas from behind Dean, and Dean has never been so grateful.
They go to a bar relatively nearby, because Dean has left his cellphone at the motel at Cas' request and the motel is near enough that Sam can come and get him should something come up. They get a table in the corner, and Cas seems happy that he can see everything that's going on. Dean is just enjoying the company.
They talk about a lot of things. They relive the unicorn incident – Cas seems inordinately pleased at being described as a hero – and a couple of others besides. Dean tells Cas about the time he had to give someone CPR in high-school. Cas listens intently and tells Dean in a low voice about what happens to someone's soul when their heart stops beating and is restarted.
Dean wonders why he'd never thought about doing this before. He knows he's been too hung up on the fact that Cas happened to take the vessel of a man to notice that he actually has way too many awesome qualities to overlook. He thinks about he almost blew it, almost made Cas hate him, and he's about to thank Cas for agreeing to give him another chance when he notices that Cas isn't looking at him.
"Dean," Cas says, eyes wide. "That man is in great distress." Dean looks at the man Cas is currently eyeing with concern.
"What's up with him?" he asks. Cas turns back to him.
"He arrived here alone, but has since met a man he wishes to date," Cas answers. "The other man does not feel as though they would make suitable partners."
"Ouch," he says. "Why not?"
"I do not believe he gave a valid reason," he replies. "But he told him that he did not look very experienced, which was somehow incompatible with his own nature."
"Well, who's the other guy?"
"He is over there," Cas responds, tilting his head towards the bar. Dean spies a well-dressed older man sitting alone on one of the stools, nursing a scotch. To be fair, he doesn't look thrilled at being alone either.
Dean looks back at the first guy. He's sitting at a table alone, a beer and two empty bottles in front of him and his head in his hands. Cas watches him too, his brow ever so slightly furrowed in concern. Dean thinks how lucky he is to be here with someone he genuinely likes, and he realises that he can't allow this. He won't allow it.
He downs the rest of his beer and wipes his mouth. Cas eyes him quizzically.
"Cas," says Dean. "I'm going over there. We are going to be the best wingmen in the history of wingmen."
Cas' eyes widen and he beams. It sort of warms the cockles of Dean's heart to see him so obviously thrilled at slipping back into the role he'd once so enjoyed.
"Tell me your plan," says Cas, and Dean does.
Dean sits next to the first guy. Thanks to Cas, he knows that his name is Mark, and he's a twenty-three year old architect. He's also getting uncomfortably used to rejection.
Dean can relate.
He clears his throat.
"Hey," he says. Mark looks up, and sighs.
"Hi," he responds, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Look, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm - "
"Painfully in lust with that guy at the bar over there, I know," Dean interrupts. Mark's eyes dart towards the other guy – Jim, Cas told him – and back to Dean. He swallows.
"How did you know?" he whispers. "Was it that obvious? I wasn't even looking at him!"
Dean shakes his head. He steals a glance back in Jim's direction. Cas is sitting at the stool next to him, watching Dean carefully, awaiting the cue to put their plan into action.
"You really like him, huh?" Dean continues. Mark sighs.
"Met him a few months ago," he answers. "He comes into the office I do temp work at sometimes. Been trying to impress him ever since. Not that he ever notices."
Dean finds himself smiling.
"Know that feeling," he says. Mark's lips quirk upwards, but he still looks a little sad.
"I guess I thought maybe he'd notice me here," he carries on. He takes another swig of beer. "Evidently not, though." He looks at Dean. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. It's not like you can help me."
"You'd be surprised," he says. He turns back to Cas and winks, getting a nod from Cas in return, and then turns back to Mark and leans in, conspiratorially. "Just play along," he whispers.
Mark narrows his eyes.
"What - "
" – the most passionate night I have ever spent with another human being, Mark!" Dean starts. Mark's eyes widen. He opens his mouth to object, but Dean isn't done. Raising his voice slightly, he covers his eyes with the heels of his palms. "Damnit, Mark, we made love six times in one night! You were so tender and yet so animalistic – how am I ever going to forget that? You've ruined sex for me forever! I can't - "
"Hello, Dean," says Cas. Dean stops, and looks behind him. Cas is standing there, next to an open-mouthed Jim. Mark is blushing furiously.
"Oh, Cas," Dean returns, trying to sound desperately upset. "Remember I told you about Mark? That guy I spent a beautiful night of lustful love-making with?"
"I remember," he states, woodenly.
"This is him!" Dean cries, and wow, he's starting to fool himself now. Jim is watching Mark, his mouth agape.
"Dean, he is not worth it," says Cas flatly, gripping Dean's arm. Dean stands up, the chair falling to the floor with a crash.
"Yes he is!" he sobs. "I gotta get out of here, Cas. Let's go."
With that, he starts to walk away, dragging Cas behind him. He manages to glance behind him during his hasty exit and sees Jim pick up the chair Dean had toppled over, sit on it and offer Mark his hand by way of greeting. Mark looks at Dean and Dean winks, earning himself a very grateful smile.
Outside the bar, Dean finds himself laughing. The air is chilly and biting, the sky darkening to hues of cool blue, and Dean is sort of in hysterics.
"I do not understand," he says. Dean breathes deeply, and shakes his head.
"Don't worry." He looks at Cas, who is standing awkwardly by the Impala, hands clasped behind his back and head tilted to the left. Dean's pulse increases. "I just haven't done that before. I've never got the chance to be someone's wingman." He grins. "It feels pretty awesome."
"Yes," Cas agrees.
Dean looks at him. He wonders if he's cold. He knows he is. He digs around in his jeans pockets and pulls out his keys, throws them to Cas.
"I'm freezing my balls off," he explains. "Get in."
They don't drive anywhere in particular. They don't know the area well – they've been here for perhaps three weeks, and there hasn't really been time for exploring, what with the vampires and the demons and the fucking unicorn, and Dean thinks that now's as good a time as any. They drive past an old gas station that looks like it's been shut since before Dean was born, and Cas asks him why it's still standing if no-one uses it any more. It takes Dean a while to think of a suitable answer beyond 'it's somewhere warm for the junkies to shoot up'.
"I guess it's nice to be able to see where you came from," he eventually decides. "Y'know, it's cool to see old things. They're just as important as the new stuff. Just because something isn't useful any more, doesn't mean it's useless."
Cas seems to accept this answer and moves onto more important questions such as why Dean has three Survivor cassettes ("Because if I see one for 80 cents at a yard sale, I'm not going to leave it there, Cas"), why Sam hasn't had a haircut in eight months ("He has some deep-rooted gender issues as well as a possible female reproductive system, but don't tell him I told you") and why Dean likes pie so much ("If you cut me, do I not bleed? Of course I like pie! Who doesn't like pie?").
His last question is a little harder to answer. Dean's pulled over in order to show Cas the beauty that is Led Zeppelin, and he's rooting around a bit, trying to find the right cassette.
"Do you like me, Dean?"
The question comes suddenly and Dean drops the cassette in shock. He hadn't been expecting that. He doesn't really know how to respond. Cas clearly takes his silence for a negative response because he tilts his head to the right and makes to open the car door.
Dean leans over and takes hold of Cas' hand before he can reach the handle, and Cas' eyes widen in surprised confusion. Dean swallows.
"No?" Cas says. Dean curses under his breath.
"No, I do like you," he clarifies. He sighs, aware that he's technically holding Cas' hand but finding it hard to care. They've held hands before, after all, but the stakes didn't seem quite as high. "So help me, Cas, I like you."
Cas looks at him, meets his eye properly, and Dean can feel his heart beat faster. It still confuses him slightly how Cas, an angel in a male body who speaks like Cleverbot and probably thinks that Dr Sexy is just an attractive physician at some local practice, can have that sort of effect on him. He's sort of dealing with it, though. He's doing his best.
"All right," Cas says, finally, and although he still looks more than a little perplexed, he looks happier. Dean summons up all the courage he has and rubs his thumb in little circles across Cas' skin, and Cas does that endearing little half-smile he does that makes Dean want to stand on a bench and sing about love and feelings and shit.
"I've been wondering something too," he says. Cas looks at him, eyes curious.
"What?" he asks. Dean shrugs.
"Well, you can pretty much read my soul like an open book, right?"
"Everything is written upon it," he confirms. Dean nods, slowly.
"See, that's what I don't get," he says. "If you can read my entire soul, how come you never seem to know what I'm thinking or how I feel?"
Cas tilts his head to the right. Dean knows that means he's trying to formulate an answer. He thinks it's pretty awesome that he knows that, but also slightly terrifying.
"I am able to read certain things on your soul," Cas answers, after a few seconds' thought. "Deeds and actions, mostly. I am unable to read your thoughts, Dean. They are perhaps written, but it is as though they are written in a different language. I cannot read them."
"Dude, does that mean you're not psychic?"
Cas nods. Dean sighs, falsely melodramatic.
"Damn. Guess that means you don't know what I'm thinking right now, huh?"
Cas shakes his head.
"I do not."
"Hmm," says Dean, and he drums his fingers – the ones that aren't currently entwined with Cas' - on the dashboard. "That's a shame, actually. I was thinking something kind of awesome."
Cas' eyes search Dean's. He looks, as ever, quizzical, but there's something else there, too. It looks a bit like hope.
"I could show you," Dean offers, and immediately wants to kick himself for sounding like he belongs in a B-list romantic comedy.
Cas swallows, and Dean watches the bob of his Adam's apple.
"You could," Cas affirms, and Dean thinks fuck it, Cas must know what's coming and he's agreed to it, and that's just incredible, really, because Cas is awesome and he wants Dean and Dean wants Cas.
Dean leans over, slowly at first so his intentions are obvious and he can give Cas time to back away. Cas doesn't, just swallows hard again, and his inexperience and anxiety are so endearing that Dean can't actually help but lean in all the way until he's pressed his lips onto Cas'. It's not exactly a kiss, not really, but it's still pretty nice. It stops being pretty nice when Cas makes a sort of happy noise in the back of his throat and suddenly throws his arms around Dean's neck, moves his mouth a little so they actually fit together properly, and then they're kissing, and it's not perfect – it's painfully obvious that this is Cas' first attempt, his teeth and his tongue getting in the way – but it's as close as Dean's ever got, and that's more than enough.
It's Dean who pulls away first, his mouth actually tingling a bit, his heartbeat racing. Cas is blushing, and Dean can't help but grin a little at the fact he's had that effect on him. Cas has had rather another effect on Dean, but that's thankfully hidden quite nicely by the angle of Dean's body. He doesn't think Cas is quite ready for that conversation yet. Neither is Dean, for that matter. He has a lot of research to do before he even thinks about touching that base.
"We should get back to the motel," says Dean, and at Cas' disappointed look, he elaborates. "Dude, not because I'm regretting this or anything, but because this? This car is not made for these activities. I think I've twisted my spleen. We should go somewhere where we can get comfortable."
Cas pinks again, and Dean laughs, can't help but kiss him again, close-mouthed and short but enough that Cas' eyes widen and he flushes even redder.
Dean shakes his head, still grinning as he turns the keys in the ignition.
Sam pushes the coffee across the table to Dean, who accepts it gratefully. The diner is brightly lit by artificial bulbs as well as the early morning sun, and Dean's nowhere near awake enough to appreciate it.
Sam is smiling at him enigmatically, and Dean sighs.
"Spit it out," he says, and Sam steeples his fingers under his chin and raises an eyebrow.
"So," he begins, and then finishes. Dean raises both eyebrows and gestures for Sam to continue.
"Not psychic, y'know."
"C'mon, Dean. What do you think I'm going to ask about?"
Dean picks up a sachet of sugar from the pot on the table, tears it open and pours it into the coffee.
"What makes you think I want to talk about it?" he counters.
"Why not?" he asks. He sighs. "I'm not going to tease you, Dean."
Dean raises an eyebrow.
"Really?" he says. "Because it looked to me like that was exactly what you were going to do."
Sam rubs the back of his neck.
"Dean," he says. "I'm only going to say this once, so you'd better listen. You and Cas? It's a good thing, OK? If you're happy, and he's happy, then I'm fine with it. Completely." He pauses, gives Dean time to absorb what he's said, and then continues, a slight grin on his face. "That doesn't mean I won't ask you about it, though."
Dean stirs his coffee.
"What level of detail?" he asks, resignedly. Sam smiles brightly.
"Keep it PG," he instructs. Dean rolls his eyes.
"The whole story is PG," he says. Sam looks mildly surprised.
"Yeah." Dean reaches for another packet of sugar. "Come on, Sam. Give me a break. I'm not that guy." He tears open the sachet and empties it into the mug.
"You usually are," Sam argues. Dean thinks about this. Sam's not wrong. Dean's loved and left more women that he'd care to admit. He's had more one night stands than he can count on the fingers and toes of everyone in this diner, and it's rush hour.
He doesn't want to do that with Cas, hasn't done that with Cas. Cas is more than that. Cas likes cheeseburgers and hands in his hair and doesn't like pepperoni on his pizza or kissing with tongue.
"Cas is different," he says, finally. Sam looks approving, and Dean's suddenly struck by the urge to tell him everything, because it's nothing to be ashamed about. "He's really different, Sam. And you know how you asked me if this meant I was into dudes? And I said it didn't? Well, I think it's because I don't see a dude when I look at Cas. I just see Cas, y'know? I just see this... this person who's saved my ass more times than I can remember and who likes me even though he knows I've done some really shitty stuff, and I like him even though I know he's killed a unicorn this week." He stirs his coffee a little more, trying to think of what else he needs to say. "And I really, really like him. He makes me happy. I like being with him. That's all there is to it, really. And it helps that he's a really good kisser, actually."
"Thank you," says Cas, and Dean nearly jumps a mile to see the angel sitting next to him.
"Will you ever stop doing that?" he asks, his hand over his heart. It's racing, but Dean doesn't think that's entirely from fright.
Cas cocks his head to the left.
"Would you like me to?" he asks.
Sam rolls his eyes.
"Now that we've established that you two are that couple," he says, and Cas looks quizzically at Dean. "I kind of have a favour to ask of you, Dean."
Dean takes a sip of coffee. It's strong and sweet.
"What?" he asks.
Sam shifts uncomfortably.
"You see that waitress over there?" he asks, gesturing behind Cas. Dean turns around as subtly as he can and sees a pretty young redhead. He lets out a low whistle.
"Say no more, Sammy boy," he says. Cas takes Dean's mug of coffee and takes a sip. Sam rolls his eyes.
"I sort of wanted to know if you'd repay my well-intentioned but ultimately unnecessary favour," Sam says. "And be my wingman."
Dean looks at Cas. Cas looks at Dean.
He takes Cas' hand, and Cas looks slightly adoring.
"No, Sammy," Dean answers. "We'll be your wingmen."