Warnings: This may be a bit OOC, but I like to think these characters have the potential for these things :)
A/N: Originally written in three parts to encompass the dc_summerlovin prompts 'sex on the beach', 'skinny dipping', and 'backyard bbq'... even though none of those things actually happen in this lol. Admittedly I've had this idea floating around in my head since I saw a newsreport about Mars One earlier this year, but I probably never would've gotten around to it until those prompts inspired a few random scenes :)
Sometime in the not-too-distant future...
The first thing Dean thinks when he sees the guy's eyes is - Blue - like the sky, or the ocean, that he's never going to see for the rest of his life. The guy's even paler than Dean is, and Dean recognizes the swimming trunks he's wearing from the shop in the Hotel's lobby - Dean's just had to buy his own, since they don't allow anyone in the pool area without 'appropriate swimwear'. At first Dean can't help but feel it's kind of a waste to buy something he's only going to use for a couple of days, but then he rememberes he's not paying to begin with. It's all courtesy of NASA. So is the weekend at a classy beachfront hotel in Florida. A last chance to enjoy some down-time, before heading to Houston to sign the rest of their lives away to the colonization of Mars.
Dean's pretty sure it's just a way to make sure they're all happy and smiling for the cameras at the Mars 12 launch in a few days, but Sam thinks it's a smart idea for the Mars 13 potentials to be there for the experience, to have something to focus on during the coming years of training.
Sam chose to fly to California for his last weekend though, to visit Jessica and the baby's graves. He insisted on going alone, but Dean feels a little guilty about being in Florida without him. It's Sam they really want on Mars after all. Sure, Dean's actual desert experience during his service as an army engineer gives him an edge when considering Mars' desert environment, but he knows the only reason he's been selected is because Sam won't go without him. And Dean would do anything for his baby brother. Anything. Even launch himself into space in a tin death-trap for six months to live on what is basically a rock covered in red dust for the rest of his life.
He feels a little lost without Sam at his side. That is, until he sits himself down at the bar by the pool and looks up into the bluest eyes he's ever seen. And then he remembers he's on a paid vacation. What might be his last vacation, ever. So he might as well try something he's always wanted to, while he can. Like men.
"Can I buy you a drink?" he asks.
Blue-eyes raises his head, frowning adorably as he looks around in confusion.
"Yeah, you reading Nietzsche over there. Can I buy you a drink?" he asks again, and the guy actually blushes.
"No. No, thank you." he answers, burying his head in his old-fashioned book again.
"Oh come on," Dean persists, "How can you be reading that when there's this beautiful view, right in front of you?" he says, gesturing at the ocean view in the distance, waves shimmering as they reflect the sunny Florida sky.
"Says the man who would rather be drinking," Blue-eyes deadpans. Dean barks out a surprised laugh at the joke, pleased by the unexpected sense of humor.
"Hey, I can drink and enjoy the view at the same time," Dean murmurs, and when the man finally looks up at that, Dean winks at him, just to make his message clear.
"Sex on the beach," the man blurts.
Dean nearly chokes on his beer.
"If you're buying," the man adds hastily. "One of my brothers recommended the drink, and I find I quite like it."
"Oh! Right." Dean turns to the (amused) bartender. "What he said."
"Dean," he supplies.
"Thank you, Dean. I'm Castiel," the man says. Dean smiles.
"So Cas, your brother likes fruity drinks, huh?" he asks, picking up on what he hopes is an easy topic of conversation.
"Among other things, yes," Cas replies. And Dean made the right choice, because Castiel then begins to regale him with story after story about the many insanities of his many brothers. And sisters. Dean loses track of how many siblings Cas complains about.
It must be easy to get lost in such a large family, and Dean kind of gets the feeling Cas is enjoying the opportunity to be the one talking for once. But that may also be the effect of the alcohol, loosening Castiel up. Dean still catches a hint of pensiveness about him every now and then, a kind of shyness that tells Dean he isn't the center of anyone's attention very often. And that's a damn shame, because the guy is friggin' gorgeous. He's obviously pretty smart, if the Nietzsche wasn't a giveaway, but Dean could look into those eyes forever.
It's also nice to not have to think about his own, tiny little family for once. He loves his little brother, but all they have left is each other, and for once it's nice to not be talking about everything that's been taken from them. He supposes that's why the Mars mission was so appealing to Sam in the first place. To get away from it all. And after what Dean saw during his desert tours, taking a one-way ticket off the planet is not as hard a choice as Dean thought it would be either.
He and Cas talk for hours, drinking by the pool. And when they get hungry they order hamburgers, and talk some more. It's more than easy, to sit back and just watch Castiel's eyes - smiling when they're filled with mirth, frowning when they retreat to that sad place – and as the sun begins to go down Dean finds it increasingly hard to not just lean over and kiss him, right on his full, pink mouth.
Their (still amused) bartender probably notices, because he smoothly suggests a walk on the beach, giving them directions to a quiet alcove away from the crowds. They're a little wobbly on their feet at first, the alcohol suddenly catching up with them, but the fresh sea air helps them sober up as they make their way to the water.
Maybe it's the lack of alcohol to fuel their conversation, or maybe it's the change of scenery, but the walk is mostly a quiet one. Quiet, but companionable, as they appreciate the changing colors of the sky over the ocean, exchanging more than a few furtive glances and smiles. But when they get to the alcove, and they're finally alone together, Dean finds himself suddenly nervous, unsure if he's ready to go through with what they've been building up to.
"Your eyes are so green," Castiel murmurs after what seems like an eternity of silent gazing. "They remind me of a field I used to go kite-flying in, near my childhood home."
"Uh, is that a good memory?" Dean asks uncertainly.
"Yes, it is," Cas smiles warmly, and something flip-flops in Dean's stomach at that.
"Even with all the annoying siblings?" he jokes, trying to play it off.
"Yes, even with all the annoying siblings," Castiel laughs, eyes smiling and crinkling at the corners, and something still keeps flip-flopping around in Dean's stomach at the sight.
"I haven't been there in years," Castiel sighs wistfully. "Perhaps I should've gone there instead."
"But then you wouldn't have met me, right?" Dean says, suddenly a little nervous again.
"No. I wouldn't have," Castiel's smile returns.
And then they're kissing. Simply leaning in to press their lips together because somehow, they were already standing that close. Somehow their arms were already twined around each other, and somehow, now, they don't want to let go.
They kiss, and they kiss, until long after the sun sets and it starts to get cold. And on the walk back to the Hotel, Cas reaches out to take Dean's hand in his own.
It's not what Dean thought would happen, when he first offered to buy the blue-eyed man a drink, but that's when Dean thinks he starts to fall in love.
" " "
"Have dinner with me," Dean blurts once they're back at the Hotel lobby. He knows he shouldn't. He knows he's already in trouble. But he just doesn't like the idea that he has to let go of Cas' hand soon.
Castiel's smile is blinding when he agrees though, and that holds Dean over the excruciatingly long time it takes for him to shower and change. Half an hour later, they're seated at the Hotel's 5-star restaurant - not talking - just staring at each other across a candlelit table, smiling again. Castiel has reappeared wearing a very serious button-down shirt over his dark pants, and Dean already misses being able to see and touch all that pale skin he knows is underneath. In fact, it's not until then that he realises just how often he's been touching Castiel all day, how comfortable with it and how used to it he's already become, until he suddenly can't anymore.
And if that isn't torture enough, the small strip of collarbone, exposed by Cas' open collar, now tantalizes him even more, being the only piece of skin he can see. It's mouth-watering. He wants to bury his lips there and suck on it, nibble on it, mark and claim it as his own.
He gets steak and wine instead.
Classy restaurants and fine dining aren't his usual thing, and Cas seems to pick up on that, taking pity on him and ordering for him. For a second it makes him feel like some rich guy's date, but then he realises that might be exactly what he is, so he doesn't complain. Especially not when he sinks his teeth into the best Porterhouse of his life. It makes him wonder why he never treated himself to things like this before.
They don't talk much during the meal. They don't have to. After the day they've spent together, it feels like they already know each other, and they're completely comfortable just sitting together, enjoying the quality of their food.
Afterwards though, Castiel reaches across the table to take his hand again, and murmurs, "Thank you, Dean."
"For what?" he asks, a little breathless as their fingers twine together.
"For listening to me today as I talked about my family. I know it must've sounded like a lot of complaining, but just being able to talk about them made me remember things I thought I'd lost. And I needed that," Cas explains, giving him a bittersweet smile.
"You're welcome." Dean replies, clearing the thickness out of his throat. He wants to be able to thank Castiel in return, for taking his mind off his own family, but he doesn't want to risk bringing it up at all. This is a vacation. His last vacation. And he would rather spend what little time he has left enjoying it.
He feels a little guilty about being so vague about his own life, but Castiel doesn't press the issue. He didn't even bring it up to press the issue. Unlike the seemingly hundreds of Psych evals he's had over the past months. Cas just wanted to say thank you. And for that, Dean thinks he falls a little bit more in love.
But when Cas orders them pie for dessert, Dean's pretty sure.
They're both so stuffed after dinner, they decide to take another walk along the beach to help their meals settle. They skirt the edge of the water, hand in hand again, as the stars shine down from the dark blue above. Dean picks out Mars just over the horizon, shining a little brighter than the rest, and he frowns, squeezing Castiel's hand tight.
It seems like some kind of terrible, cosmic joke, that he's only met Castiel now - Now that he only has little more than half a weekend left before giving up the rest of his life to existence on another planet - Because he is surely in love. Surely in love with this sad, sweet man who only seems to smile for him. This man who makes him forget himself with stories and laughter, and holds his hand like it's all he's ever wanted in the world.
How is he supposed to let go?
"Cas?" Dean's voice breaks as he tugs Castiel to a stop.
"What is it?" Castiel frowns in concern, seeing the expression on his face.
The words are still too thick in his throat, too thick to get out. So instead he pulls Cas close, breathing the words into Castiel's lips and mouthing them desperately against Castiel's skin.
They kiss, and they kiss… until the waves splash over their legs and Castiel jumps out of his embrace with laughter, running for dry land. And as Dean chases after him he can't help but laugh as well, smiling victoriously once he has Castiel in his arms again.
"Come skinny dipping with me," he huffs breathlessly.
"No," Castiel replies. "Come back to my room with me."
They don't slam into Castiel's room in a flurry of kisses, frantically removing each other's clothes as they make their way to the bed. Instead Castiel kisses him just the same – sweet and patient, as if they have all the time in the world. Worshipful kisses. Heartbreaking kisses. The kind of kisses Dean's never had before, and will never have again.
By the time they finally start removing each other's clothes, Dean's hands are shaking. So hard, that at first he thinks it's his fault when Castiel hisses in pain.
"What's wrong?" Dean asks worriedly.
"My skin got a little burned today." Cas explains sheepishly.
"Oh," Dean sighs quietly. "Wait here," he says then, getting off the bed and going to the bathroom. Sure enough, there's another bottle of complimentary lotion next to the sink, just as there was in his own room.
"You don't have to do that," Cas murmurs when Dean returns with the bottle, quietly instructing him to turn around.
"I want to," Dean replies, lathering up his hands. He wants to take care of Cas, for whatever little time they have left. Wants to touch him, and take care of him, and take away the sadness he sees in Castiel's eyes forever.
"Oh!" Castiel gasps softly at the first touch of the cold lotion on his burns. Dean makes sure to spread it carefully, treating Cas' skin as gently as Castiel treats him. It's no wonder Castiel burned, he was so pale to begin with. Pale and ethereal, sitting in the shade by the pool that morning, reading Nietzsche.
"Is that better?" Dean murmurs.
"Mmm," Castiel moans in assent, the sound heavy with pleasure, and it makes Dean throb. His hands begin to tremble again.
"Cas," he whispers shakily, "I've never been with a man before."
"It's alright, Dean," Castiel replies, turning around. "I'll show you what to do."
And he does.
With the same patience and sweetness of his kisses, Castiel climbs into his lap, guiding his lotioned hands in the right direction while murmuring soft instructions and encouragement in his ear. He still shakes, though he's not sure if it's from nervousness, or anticipation, or a combination of both. Until finally, Castiel sinks down on him, in one slow, breath-stealing slide.
Sex has never been this way for Dean before. And it's not because it's Dean's first time with a man. It's because it's with Castiel. And because of that it, it's not just sex, it's making love. And he's never had that before.
And so he shakes even harder, in danger of drowning forever, until Castiel takes his hand once more, hushing him with his kisses. Then all Dean can do is cling tight, hold on as their bodies and breath roll together like the rising swells of the ocean - in and out, in and out. And Cas holds him close, and afloat, all the way through to the end.
They lay together for a small eternity afterwards, still wrapped up in each other's arms. And even then, when Dean finally starts to pull away, Castiel pulls him back with a soft tug, whispering, "Don't. Don't let go. Not yet."
So he doesn't.
Outside, the stars shine on unforgivably, as the waves crash cold and wet on the sand. But for now they are grounded in each other's embrace, warm and safe from the tide coming to rip them apart.
" " "
They make love all through the night, then sleep in like they have all the time in the world. And when they finally wake up, they start making love all over again. The sun rises and sets on another beautiful summer day in Florida, but they don't even see it, ordering in room-service when they get hungry so they can stay in bed as much as possible, touching each other and making love, over and over.
They don't talk about it, but Dean knows Castiel can tell when it's nearly time for him to leave by the way he starts to cling to Castiel all that much harder, his kisses becoming more and more frantic. And no matter how Castiel holds him or tries to soothe him, he is inconsolable in the face of the reality that soon, he has to let go.
The last time they make love, Dean comes away with tears on his face, but whether they're Castiel's or his own, or both, he doesn't know. But Castiel has that sad look in his eyes again, tenfold, when he says, "If I'd known there were men like you in the world, I would never have wanted to leave it."
And Dean's heart clenches painfully in his chest at that, for this bottomless sadness that may have driven this beautiful man in his arms to harm himself, or to some other desperate end, somewhere in his past. And Dean has no more time. No time to do anything about it anymore. And no future to offer. All he can do is hold Castiel close, one last time, and tell him, "I love you. You hear me, Cas? I love you. And I ain't never told anybody that before, because I never felt that way about anyone before. But I do, about you. So just remember that okay? Wherever you are, whatever happens, you're it for me. It's always going to be you for me, from now on."
They kiss, and they kiss, and they kiss… Until finally, Dean lets go.
It doesn't take long for Dean to pack, having barely unpacked in the first place, and soon he is getting in his courtesy car, being driven away from the Hotel. He doesn't look up as he leaves, doesn't enjoy the view of the ocean or the sky on the way. He doesn't want to think about how he's going to spend the rest of his existence on a desert red planet, with no ocean or sky to remind him of Castiel's blue eyes. Instead he looks down at his hands, clenching and unclenching them in his lap, because they feel strangely cold, and empty.
He meets Sam at the airport first, and his brother looks about as well as can be expected, after a weekend visiting the place he met and lost his wife and baby. Dean must look a little worse for wear himself, judging by the look Sam gives him when he sees him. But his brother also senses that it's by far the right time to ask, and Dean's grateful for that.
When they get to the Cape, they're shown to their quarters to drop off their things before being escorted to check in with Director Crowley. The man is short and smarmy and Dean can't wait to be out of his office almost as soon as he steps into it.
"Hullo, boys. You're looking well-rested," the man says with his leering smile, even though they obviously look anything but. "Are we excited for the Mars 12 launch this Thursday?"
"Yes, sir," they reply automatically, though Dean's now even more convinced the only reason they're there is for publicity. Mars One may have been a huge deal back in the day, but now they're at Mars 13, the public doesn't really care anymore. And more public interest means more funding.
"Excellent," Crowley's leer widens. "Let Kevin know if you want to take a brief look around this afternoon, but there'll be a semi-formal meet and greet over at the Kennedy Center at 1800 hours."
And there it is. Dean resists the urge to tell his brother 'I told you so' on their way out, but it must be in his eyes, because he gets a pretty good bitch-face in response.
"I hate these friggin' meet and greets," Dean complains on the way to the event, tugging at his tie. "Can't we just have a backyard barbeque or something for once? You know, some beer and burgers to get through all the boring speeches?"
"This isn't some college dorm party, Dean," Sam rolls his eyes. "Besides, do you see a backyard around here?"
"There's a perfectly good hangar deck we could be using, right next door," Dean gripes.
"Classy," Sam snorts.
"There better be a bar at this thing," he mutters as they arrive. They've already done a couple of these kind of events back home, and they usually end up with him standing alone in a corner, eating hors d'oeuvres, while Sam gets whisked off to talk to people who think they're more important. He's really not in the mood for something like this now. Not after the weekend he's had.
Already it feels like some kind of dream, less and less real with every second. Though he knows it must have been real, because that strange, empty feeling in his hands only gets worse and worse. And as they enter the crowded room, he kind of wishes he was in space already - some cold, dark corner away from it all, perfect for crawling into a bottle of whisky.
He hopes Castiel will be alright. At least Dean has Sam. But Cas didn't seem to have anyone. Dean hopes their brief, star-crossed time together hasn't made things worse for him.
"Come on Dean, smile! Aren't you excited to meet some of the people you could be spending the rest of your life with?" Sam says, looking around. "From what I've heard, you'll probably get along great with Benny Lafitte."
"Dean," Sam promptly rounds on him with a bitch-face. "Weren't you interested in checking up on the other selectees at all?"
"No?" Dean shrugs helplessly. "I was busy."
Busy falling in love.
"Whatever," Sam frowns, looking around again. "I wonder where Castiel Milton is. I can't wait to meet him."
Dean's heart stops.
He knows that voice. And if his brother hadn't just dropped that bombshell on him, he wouldn't have believed it to be possible. But when he turns around, heart thick in his throat, there's Cas. Just standing there, in his serious button-down, wearing a name-tag that identifies him as being a Mars 13 selectee as well.
Dean can barely breathe. He knows he has to play it cool, with all these people around, but his heart wants to launch right out of his chest. Cas is there. With him. And they're going to be together, on Mars, for the rest of their lives.
He can feel the sheer joy in Castiel's eyes, mirrored in his own, and a laugh suddenly escapes his throat, full of disbelief, and wonder, and utter happiness. There are a million things he wants to say, and do, all at once - but he knows exactly where to start…
"Can I buy you a drink?"
PS: Over the next few weeks I'm going to be reposting a lot of my old fics from the Slam Dunk fandom, so apologies in advance for all the coming updates. But next month I'll be posting my Dean/Cas big bang 'The Story of You and Me', so keep an eye out for it :)