The next morning, Dean really does wake up to the smell of something incredibly edible coming from the kitchen. It's enough to make him forego his usual morning routine of lying in bed for an hour contemplating the utter futility of his existence in order to go and explore the smell a bit more.
"Sam?" he calls out, bare feet padding on the hallway floorboards. "It's about time you made me breakfast. I am a god amongst men, after all…"
He turns into the kitchen and stops in his tracks. Sam is there, but he's not cooking anything. He's sitting at the kitchen table reading a newspaper, a still steaming mug of coffee in front of him. Dean would focus on the comical nature of the scenario, joke about the fact that Sam is essentially an old woman, but he's too weirded out by the sight of Cas standing by the oven, cooking omelettes and wearing one of Dean's old college t-shirts instead of his usual shirt and tie. It comes to something, he thinks, when he's more used to a student dressing like an accountant than a normal, non-blood sucking human being.
He must gasp or something because both Sam and Cas look at him strangely at exactly the same moment. Dean feels himself flushing crimson.
"Hey," he mutters, resigning himself to his fate and pulling out the chair next to Sam. Cas beams at him. Sam looks like he's trying very hard not to laugh.
"Morning," says Sam. "Casanova is cooking you breakfast."
Dean shoves him. Sam just laughs. Dean wonders if there's any possibility he was adopted.
"Doesn't look like you're complaining," he says. Sam shrugs.
"Hey, free breakfast," he says. "You should get laid more often."
Dean's face feels like it's on fire. Cas is watching them, his expression a mixture of amused and confused.
"Didn't get laid," mumbles Dean. Sam turns the page of his newspaper. Dean reads the headline; 'Man stabbed in Central Park'. He's quite jealous of that man right now.
"Fine," says Sam. "You should lay more often."
Dean pushes him again, harder this time, and Sam nearly falls off his seat. Cas looks completely nonplussed as he flips the omelette onto a plate and places it in front of Sam.
"He doesn't deserve it," complains Dean. Sam sticks his tongue out.
"I was here first," he counters. "You were busy basking in post-coital bliss."
"I was not!" argues Dean, futilely. "Tell him, Cas."
Cas idly begins to make another omelette. Dean's stomach does something strange, and he doesn't think it's hunger.
"I cannot vouch for the validity of either claim," he states, and Sam bursts into laughter again. Dean just buries his head in his hands. This is it. This is the day Sam Winchester loses a brother but gains a sister.
Why can't Cas lie? Just this once?
It's not like Dean didn't like what happened. It's not that at all. It wasn't earth-moving or glass-shattering but it wasn't bad. He finds himself blushing again as he remembers; Cas' natural clumsiness rearing its head as he tried to pull his trousers off, Dean's complete ignorance about what you were actually supposed to do with a guy once you were both only partially clothed and in agreement that something was going to go down. He thinks his subconscious could have rephrased that. He remembers how he felt oddly OK with it afterwards, despite the fact that he expected to feel completely the opposite.
He doesn't feel quite so OK with it now, with Sam laughing at him and Cas standing around all nonchalant like he hasn't just deflowered Dean somehow.
He shifts uncomfortably in his seat and immediately regrets it, expecting some smart-ass comment from Sam. It doesn't come. He exhales in relief. Sam looks at him strangely.
"Are you all right?" he asks, putting down the newspaper. "Need Cas to come and kiss it all better?"
Dean clenches his fists.
"I will kill you in your sleep," replies Dean, as Cas sets a plate in front of him. He doesn't really understand why Sam's being such a dick. Sam's fucked loads of stupidly inappropriate people – some just hilariously ugly, others weird in other wonderful ways; Dean will never forget the girl who turned out to write fan-fiction on the internet about Barry Manilow and Elton John.
"I'd say I'd repay the favour," he smirks, and Dean would very much like to wipe the grin off his face. "But Cas would be there with you, and two on one doesn't sound like fair odds."
"Carry on and I'll stab you with this fork," warns Dean. He's trying to keep his tone even, his voice level, so that Cas doesn't think he's some dick with anger management issues. He's probably failing. "And one douchebag on one incredibly pissed, far more muscular older brother doesn't look like good odds, either."
Cas is watching them, the look on his face suggesting that he's trying desperately to keep up with their banter but failing miserably. He sits down opposite Dean and Dean notices that he hasn't made any breakfast for himself. He looks at Cas pointedly.
"I am not particularly fond of food before midday," Cas explains. Dean shrugs. At least they've changed topic.
Sadly, Sam hasn't.
"You'd better remember that, Dean," Sam pipes in. "No romantic breakfasts in bed for you - "
He only stops because Dean's no longer there to listen, having stormed out and slammed the door. He realises he's been doing that a lot lately, but doesn't find himself caring.
It's about half an hour later, and Dean's lying in bed, again. He's made a complete prick of himself in front of Cas for what seems like the hundredth time. He doesn't expect a repeat of last night any time soon. Cas probably wants to date – oh God, are they dating? They haven't discussed this – an adult, and Dean is clearly more of a pre-pubescent girl right now.
He runs things through in his head. There are a few things he's completely clear of right now. Firstly, Bert and Ernie are gay. He's always known that. He wonders if he can blame them for his current predicament, childhood conditioning and all that. He doubts it would wash with a jury. Secondly, his name is Dean Winchester. He has a douchenozzle of a brother called Sam and his life is in shambles. All flavoured condoms taste of the same thing, and that thing is despair. There are more things he's not clear about at all; why the hell he's fallen so hard for a guy who speaks like Shakespeare and doesn't recognise the glory of breakfast and can't undo zips in the heat of the moment and has a dick. That part still really confuses him.
He's still pondering life and the relative merits of suicide when he hears a knock at the door. Oh God. If it's Cas, come to break up with him – can you break up with someone you've fucked once? – he's going to hurl himself out of the window.
"Yeah?" he calls, hoarsely. When there's no response, he sighs. "You can come in," he adds.
The door clicks open and Sam pushes it open tentatively. Dean looks at him and pulls a pillow over his face. He can hear Sam sigh from the doorway.
"Dean," says Sam. "I'm sorry, OK?"
Dean doesn't reply. He's expecting some hardcore grovelling, like when Dean accidentally misinformed Sam's then-girlfriend - completely unintentionally – that Sam had herpes. Sam had made him perform a song about Brad Pitt's cheekbones at the school talent show to make up for it.
"Dean," says Sam again, and Dean removes the pillow from his face and glares at his younger brother. "Genuinely. I'm sorry. I really am."
Sam moves towards the bed and perches on the end. Dean retaliates by burrowing further into his blankets.
"I didn't know you were going to get that pissed off," Sam continues. "I mean, you seemed cool with the whole thing. You let him stay over and everything. I sort of assumed you'd, you know, come to terms with the whole 'Dean Winchester likes dudes' thing. I was wrong, I get it. I'm sorry."
Dean thinks about it. He's not not OK with it, he decides. As long as other people don't have to know. He quite likes his reputation as, you know, a male.
"It's OK," he replies gruffly.
He feels Sam pat him on the feet through the blankets and he sits up, granting his brother eye contact. Sam seems pleased about this as he smiles a little, folding his arms.
"So," says Sam. Dean knows he's waiting for something, but he doesn't think he likes where this is headed, so he keeps quiet. "What's going on with you two, then? Besides the obvious, I mean."
Dean is not having this discussion with his brother. Not now, not ever. He throws himself across the bed and pulls the pillow back over his face.
"Do you love him?" Sam asks gently. Dean presses his face more tightly into the pillow. "Dean, for God's sake, I'm trying to help."
"I don't knoooow," he wails, aware that he sounds like a little girl but not really finding it within himself to care any more. As far as he's concerned, he's already fucked a dude, and he doesn't think he's going to get much girlier than that.
He can feel Sam pat his foot again.
"You'll figure it out," says Sam. Dean grunts. "You will," Sam presses. "Really. It just might take a while."
"What if Cas won't wait a while?" Dean finds himself asking quietly, and he's not sure where that came from. Presumably his newly-discovered oestrogen gland.
"He will," replies Sam. "He waited this long, didn't he?"
Dean doesn't respond to that. As far as he's concerned, that means nothing. Just because Cas has already put up with a few weeks of douchebaggery on Dean's part, doesn't mean he'll put up with any more. Sam sighs.
"You should really call him," finishes Sam.
Dean makes a noise of non-committal, and he hears Sam groan in exasperation before quietly standing and leaving, pointedly not closing the door behind him. Dean cocoons himself further into the sheets and prepares for a few more hours of self-pity and moping, possibly interspersed with a guilty masturbatory session. It's a beautiful life he leads, really.
"Dean?" says Cas. He wasn't expecting that. He sits up sharply. Cas is standing in the doorway, still sleep-ruffled. His internal organs do that annoying flippy thing again and he resigns himself to that happening every time he sees Cas.
"Hey," manages Dean. "Kind of assumed you'd left." Cas fixes him with his by-now trademark blue stare.
"Why would I leave before being able to say goodbye?" he asks. Dean squints, looking for any sign that Cas sees the humour and the irony in that little cliché. Apparently he doesn't. He looks completely serious. Dean shrugs.
"Wouldn't really be unfair," he says. Cas doesn't say anything, but comes to sit at the end of the bed, as Sam had done. Dean is starting to feel like a cancer patient in hospital, visitors coming and going. He vaguely wonders whether Cas would visit him in hospital. He decides that he probably would. He finds himself strangely happy about this.
"You regret what happened," states Cas flatly. He's inspecting his fingernails for some reason. Dean can't help himself; he leans forward sharply and takes Cas' hand. The intimacy of the gesture surprises him.
"I don't," he says, quickly. Cas raises an eyebrow. "I really don't, Cas. Honest."
"Then why did you behave as though you did earlier?" he questions. Dean groans and crawls to the end of the bed, sitting next to Cas. He's going to have to attempt to explain this and hope it doesn't fail too miserably.
"It's not that simple," he begins. Cas narrows his eyes.
"Either you regret it or you do not, Dean," he says. "And I do not. I would like to know if you feel the same."
"I don't regret it!" Dean says, panicked. "Please. I don't. You have to believe me, Cas."
Cas breaks his gaze, looking at the floor. Dean doesn't like seeing him like this. He looks small and afraid.
"Then explain," Cas sighs. Dean wishes he could express how thankful he was for the opportunity Cas has just given him. Now he has to make sure he doesn't waste it.
"It's like this," he starts. "A man kind of relies on his reputation in certain scenarios, right? And with me, my reputation is... well. It's not bad, per se, nothing like that. I don't think people pick me out as the college man-slut or anything. But I've always been That Guy, you know? The one that all the other guys look up to."
He sees Cas look at him disbelievingly, but pushes on.
"Not in a clichéd way or anything," he clarifies. "Not like they had posters of me in the school halls as a shining example of masculinity. But people didn't mess with me, you know? And they left Sammy alone, too. Actually, all my friends were sort of immune to all the shit, because the other kids knew I could kick their asses if they tried anything. It's just how it was. Some weird teenage survival thing, I guess."
"I do not see the relevance," Cas interjects. Dean sighs.
"I know," he says. "I'm shit at explaining. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it'll take a bit of getting used to, having people see me differently. That's all."
Cas nods, slowly. Dean's heart is practically in his mouth, pulsating in his throat. 'That's all', he'd said. He realises how fucking stupid he's been. That really is all. He's been a complete dick. Cas has never cared how other people view him, and he's been all the happier for it. Dean's been so busy projecting this false image of masculine bravado that he could have lost the best thing that's happened to him in a while. He suddenly wants to curl up here with Cas and forget all the dickish things he's done recently.
"Are you willing to have them see you differently?" Cas asks. Dean knows he's really asking if Dean's still in this, whatever this is. Dean takes Cas' face in his hands and looks at him levelly.
"Yes," he says. "I really am."
Cas' face lights up a few milliseconds before the smile finds its way from his eyes to his lips. It doesn't stay very long because Dean's doing a pretty good job of transferring it to his own mouth via lip-to-lip contact.
"Get a room," says Sam. Dean doesn't even open his eyes as he lobs a pillow towards the doorway. He hears the soft thud as it hits his brother, hears Sam laugh as he walks away.
Cas pulls away, and Dean's first reaction is that he's changed his mind, but he's beaming.
"We already have a room," Cas points out. Dean feels his pulse quicken even more. He hopes his veins can take it.
"We do," he says. "We should put it to good use."
He leans forward to meet Cas' mouth with his own again.
"We should shut the door," says Cas, breath tickling Dean's skin.
"Sam can shut it," Dean breathes. "Teach him a lesson."
Three hours later, Sam comes back from meeting Meg, shouts something about public displays of nudity and slams the door. Dean can't find room for embarrassment. He's all feelinged-out.
He falls asleep that night with Cas, a tangled mess of limbs. In the moments before sleep, he looks at his boyfriend - he's pretty sure that's accurate - and takes in the curve at the nape of his neck, the line of his cheekbones. He finds it hard to believe that Cas' maleness ever really mattered. That's not even his favourite part. He's not sure what his favourite part is. He's glad he's got time to work it out.