They stare at each other for probably too much time before Castiel decides that it’s time to make a move. Any move.
“Dean?” he asks, clearing his throat, without an idea of what he should expect.
“Castiel,” he says, moving closer, speaking as if he’s sure that Castiel will kick him out in a matter of seconds.
“In the flesh,” Castiel whispers back. Dean is right in front of him on the other side of the counter – he isn’t sure that moving is a good idea right now.
“I guess I should say sorry for not answering. Case is, when I got your reply… let’s say I took the car and drove here. The address was on the receipts.”
“Oh,” Castiel replies, feeling like a complete idiot – there’s a reason why he always was bad at making conversation with people he wanted to have a conversation with. “That’s – well. I was starting to worry.”
“Sorry. It was. Well, I thought I was done with doing things on impulse, but I guess I’m not. I don’t even know why I did it – but it seemed a great idea. I guess – I thought it was high time we saw each other in person, so why not? Then when I parked I realized that it was totally half-assed since I didn’t even bother with asking you.”
Castiel isn’t sure that he’s following the speech entirely, but he forces himself to put it together.
“That’s fine – I wouldn’t have said no.”
Dean raises his head, staring at Castiel again rather than at some spot on the counter.
“You wouldn’t have?” he asks, sounding half curious and half genuinely surprised.
“No. I would have put things in order though.”
Dean casts a glance around the room, then shrugs. “It’s cool. I kind of like it. It’s – sort of how I imagined it.”
“How did you imagine it?”
“Well, I figured it’d be small. And cramped. But y’know, personal, I guess. It’s just – one can see you everywhere in this room, if they pay attention to it.”
Castiel suddenly realizes what Dean means. The neat pile of boxes ready to be sent, pieces of wrapping paper behind the counter, a handful of books in a shelf behind the counter and an old Some Like It Hot poster placed on the wall behind a rack where he keeps sample shirts that Castiel should fix up on the wall again – it’s about to fall down. That’s why he doesn’t want to move or hire anyone else. It’s his place, after all.
And it makes him feel strangely pleased that Dean understood it in five minutes.
“It’s nice to know,” Castiel says, wishing desperately that it didn’t sound lame to his own ears. “And – well. You know. I didn’t have anything planned for the evening.”
Maybe he should have gone with Balthazar on what the latter calls hooking up binges, once in a while. At least he’d have an idea of how you actually ask someone out.
“And you did drive all the way over here, so… maybe I could buy you dinner?”
He even sounds awkward to his own ears. But then some of the tension in Dean’s shoulders disappears and he gives Castiel half a smile. “Sure. But make it good because I barely even ate.”
“Didn’t you stop anywhere?”
“Just for the night. But I guess I didn’t think about it until now.”
“All right then. I’ll, uh, go upstairs and get my coat.”
“Are you closing already?”
“You were the first person to come in since this morning. And I self-run this. I can afford to close early for once.”
Dean nods and Castiel hurries up the stairs, his legs almost shaking. He has no idea of what he should do – change? And with what? He doesn’t own fancy clothes. He prints most of his own clothes. And it’d take too much time and –
He breathes out, grabs his coat, breathes out again. It’s fine, he thinks. Dean hasn’t run away and he didn't seem disgusted with his appearance, so evidently it doesn’t matter. And he can’t afford to keep him waiting too much. So he puts the coat on, locks the door and goes back downstairs.
Dean is still there, looking around the place like he’s actually fascinated. Castiel tries not to think about the butterflies currently fluttering inside his stomach and finishes climbing down the stairs.
He brings Dean to the Roadhouse – he’s sure that the food is good and he’s too out of it to think about someplace else, but Dean seems to like the place as he walks in and they sit down. It’s not the usual table Castiel sits at when he has dinner with Balthazar, but that one was occupied. They look at their menus without saying anything. When Jo comes by to pick their orders, Dean gets a bacon cheeseburger with extra onions and a small bottle of water; Castiel asks for a regular bacon burger. He was about to ask for a small beer because he really needs a drink, but then he remembers that Dean didn’t order alcohol, and he’s probably on some kind of meds, and so he gets water as well.
“Man, I can’t believe this,” Dean mutters, sounding like he can’t believe his own words.
“What do you mean?”
“I dunno. I was half-sure you’d throw me out or something.”
“I did send you a video reply, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but… I don’t know. It’s that, I have a pretty good track record with terrible impulsive ideas.”
Castiel understands it even too well, and clearly he doesn’t have a ready answer for it, but then Dean shakes his head and keeps talking.
“See, I was – when I got the first shirt, I just couldn’t wrap my head about how someone who hadn’t even met me could get it so well. And I never had the guts to ask you online directly. I kinda wanted to do it face to face.”
“I’m not exactly sure that I can explain it. But… when I read that mail your brother sent me, and when he told me what message he wanted to get across, I realized that it consisted in things I would have liked to hear myself some years ago. I have never thought about… well, being done with it. But – I came here when I was eighteen. Mostly because my older brother lived here and I didn’t know anyone else. Let’s say I had a fall out with the rest of the family. And while I was on that bus I started thinking about what would happen if I had the wrong address or if my brother wasn’t willing to help me, and… it was a low moment. Then it all turned out as right as it could, but let’s say I know how it feels when people you think should care about your well-being don’t.”
Dean nods, still looking straight at him, but it doesn’t feel strange or awkward. It feels like they’re sharing a silent moment because of something they both experienced. “Why did you have that fall out?” Dean asks, and Castiel figures they should go even.
“I didn’t want to be a preacher and… take over the family business. I wanted to go to art school. And I didn’t think that God would hate me because I don’t generally find women attractive. I didn’t go to art school after all, but it could have been worse.”
“Well, you still finished the regular school,” Dean comments, and it does sound a bit self-loathing.
“That doesn’t mean anything. It’s not like I do what I do because of it.”
“You like your job, don’t you?”
Castiel nods, letting a breath out. “Yes. It’s not ideal, in terms of earnings, but… I don’t mind. I like where I live. I have a roof over my head. And it’s still art, in a sense. And – well, I guess that I like it because it’s all me, I guess. I have a friend who keeps on saying I should try to open a bigger shop and hire someone, but –”
“I get it. You don’t want to because you made it all yourself and you don’t want anyone else possibly having a say in it, right?”
Castiel nods, not having anything to add. “Maybe it sounds childish, but I don’t think I can share it with strangers.”
“Man, you totally shouldn’t. I mean, I’m feeling like a creeper saying this, but I think that if you went bigger it’d lose the appeal. I mean, that place has you written all over it. And I’ve never found any shirts shop that sends you personalized messages with your stuff. Or that doesn’t make it seem like some kind of chain, you know? Your things… they’re all different, even the serialized ones. Do I even make sense?”
“That’s the nicest thing anyone ever said about what I do,” Castiel replies, straight. Dean raises an eyebrow, his shoulders relaxing.
“Well. So it wasn’t creepy?”
“It was rather flattering.”
“You know, I think your boundaries are way looser than normal. Not that I mind. I mean, anyone would have told me to fuck off by now.”
“Then it’s your luck that I don’t care much for boundaries. It’s not as if I wasn’t inappropriate myself, in theory.”
Dean nods in agreement, and then leans back, almost like he’s trying to find the guts to say something. “Can I… can I say something that would be… as normatively creepy as everything else?”
“Dean, my best and currently only friend owns a sex shop and spends his time giving me advice on vibrators I don’t need. You can be as inappropriate as you wish.”
“It’s… I usually suck at talking to people. As a general rule. Unless they’re related to me, or as good as related. My shrink spends her time saying I should try harder to socialize, but let’s not dwell on that. But I guess that’s a reason why I was a wreck when my dad died. Anyway, it’s just, talking to you comes ridiculously easy. I don’t even know what it is but I’m here sitting and having dinner with you when last year I could barely get out of the house and I wouldn’t have managed to start a conversation with people half of the time. I don’t even know what it is. But yeah. That’s it.”
Castiel thinks he’s this close to hyperventilating here. This is going too well. He can’t believe that Dean would say all of those things, but – but he is, and he looks sincere, and Castiel doesn’t know what took hold of him when his hand touches Dean’s wrist. But now that it’s there – he can’t go back on this.
“If it consoles you, as stated, I talk regularly with one person who isn’t related to me. I’m not that great at dealing with people either.”
“But you can read them,” Dean says quietly, not moving his hand away.
“I might not be great at dealing with them. It doesn’t mean that I won’t try to make them happy, if I can. Even if only for the first five minutes after they receive a shirt.” His voice is getting lower, and Dean hasn’t moved his wrist away.
“You know,” Dean whispers, “I can’t believe that you only talk to two people. Me, whatever, but… I mean. It’s not like you’re hard on the eyes. Or like you’re this hard to approach. Hell, I did it.”
“Well, I did try. But the last time I dated someone it was over in two weeks. They said I was too boring and my life wasn’t obviously going anywhere. And I’m not the person for one night stands. I don’t enjoy it if it’s meaningless. And I might not be hard to approach, but you have to approach me first.”
Dean nods in understanding, and their hands are still touching. Castiel doesn’t know what’s going on here, but he doesn’t think he wants to put a stop to it. Maybe he should just let things flow.
“You know, I’ve spent my life doing the one night stands thing. Well, up until a certain point. It didn’t work.” Dean’s voice is low again. “And now – well, whatever. One night stands would probably fuck with me further without me gaining anything. And are we seriously talking about our love life one hour after we see each other in the flesh?”
“Remember that I have no boundaries,” Castiel replies, figuring that it’s a pretty poor attempt at sarcasm – but Dean snorts. Maybe he should give himself more credit.
And then their dinner arrives, and Castiel takes his hand away, missing the feeling of Dean’s rough skin against his already.
They eat in silence, but it doesn’t feel heavy. It feels as comfortable as it was in that dream.
“Christ, I didn’t even think – is there a motel around here? I don’t care if it’s shitty – I just don’t feel like sleeping in the car,” Dean says as they walk back to Castiel’s shop.
Castiel thinks about it for a second, but he can’t honestly remember. Surely there isn’t one around the corner. There’s only one he can think of.
“There’s a hotel a couple of blocks from here, but it’s rather fancy. Of the eighty dollars for a single room fancy.”
“Shit,” Dean says. “I can’t afford that extra. Guess it’ll stay the car. Then again I didn’t think it through.”
“I have a couch,” Castiel blurts. It’s also way too small for Castiel to sleep on, but it has to be better than a car, right?
Dean suddenly looks like someone punched him in the gut. His eyes become wider, his lips drawn in a line. His hands are obviously shaking inside his coat’s pockets. “I’m not – are you sure?”
“It wouldn’t be more inappropriate than the whole sending videos business,” Castiel replies, earnest, but he feels that it isn’t about that. It’s about something else.
“Guess not, but –”
“This is about you, isn’t it?”
Castiel is surprised at his own bluntness, but for some reason he feels like he has to push. He hopes that Dean pushes back instead of deciding that this was a very bad decision.
But the way Dean looks at him now – he isn’t thinking that. He nods, once, slowly. “It’s just – I might be a mess, but I know that I won’t sleep in your couch if I say yes. And you know that too.”
Castiel can’t deny that. There’s a tension between them. There’s also a connection, and they’ve had it for a month by now. He knows that the couch would stay untouched, especially with the both of them spending half of their pre-dinner conversation saying that they’re currently not in any relationship.
“I do,” he answers, quietly. “And I still would like you to come upstairs.”
“You said you don’t do one night stands.”
“Correct. And you said you don’t either.”
“And you still want me to?”
“I want you, period.”
Castiel doesn’t even realize that he’s said it until it’s out of his mouth, and he automatically brings his hand over it.
That was so inappropriate it was out of every league, and for God’s sake, how did he even do it? Dean is looking at him, his lips parted, his cheeks a bit reddened, like he can’t believe Castiel actually said it.
Point is, he can’t believe it as well. He takes his hand off his mouth and moves closer, trying to find some way to excuse himself. He doubts it’s ever going to work, but he should at least try. “I’m – Dean, I’m so sorry, I can’t even begin –”
“You do? For real?” Dean asks instead, his eyes moving from surprised to hopeful, and Castiel can feel his hands tingling.
“I wouldn’t lie about it. And – well. It’s hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. Can’t it?”
Everything seems to happen in slow motion, after that. Dean moves towards him, Castiel reaches up with his hands; when Dean is close enough, he places them over Dean’s cheeks. His skin isn’t smooth, there’s a bit of stubble, but Castiel hasn’t shaved either – it isn’t an issue. Dean’s hands close around Castiel’s waist, bringing him carefully closer, and their eyes maintain contact until their lips touch. Castiel’s fall shut a second after Dean’s, and he almost gasps when he actually feels Dean’s lips against his own. They’re soft, warm, and the contact makes Castiel shiver. He parts his own, feeling Dean’s tongue running over them before his lips start moving against Castiel’s. His own tongue meets Dean’s, but it isn’t a heated kiss or making out for the sake of it. It’s warm, slow, long, and maybe it leaves them a little breathless when they part, but it felt so good that Castiel thinks it’s making his knees buckle.
“If you don’t come upstairs I’ll be sorely disappointed,” Castiel manages, and Dean smiles slightly, but his eyes lit up. “And if you ask me whether I’m sure, I’ll drag you myself.”
“Okay then,” Dean says, and when Castiel has to move away to search for the keys, he doesn’t leave Dean’s hand.
Castiel shouldn’t have been surprised when he knocks a pile of books over as he gets inside the first room of the studio apartment – he hasn’t exactly gone and re-arranged stuff lately. He turns on the light and Dean looks around the small room. He eyes the couch, the desk with the sketchpad, the kitchen on the other side, an old tv under which are piled a DVD player and a VHS one, and the door leading to the bedroom. He eyes the two posters that take most of the space on the only free wall – Casablanca and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
“Something tells me you like old movies,” Dean comments.
“I find that recent ones are too focused on special effects rather than acting,” Castiel replies, wishing for a second that the room was neater and maybe a bit bigger. But then Dean shrugs his coat off and leaves it on the couch.
“It’s nice. It’s… like the store. I never even bothered with posters. All the ones that were around the place were Sam’s anyway.”
Castiel nods, not needing further explanation. He moves towards the door of his bedroom, turning on the light. He feels Dean joining him, and then they’re inside. It’s as big as the living room, and the walls are covered in shelves entirely. There are discarded sketches on the ground and Castiel groans – he should have thrown everything out. He sees Dean eyeing the only two pictures he keeps on his bookshelves. One is of him and Gabriel at Christmas three years ago, one is of him and Balthazar taken last year. When for Castiel’s birthday, Balthazar had dragged him out to some bar – and that was when he had been drunk for the last time.
“Your brother in the first and your depraved friend in the second?”
“How did you guess?”
“Well, your brother does look like someone who’d take you out to a bar, but not to one where they don’t throw you out for wearing pink shirts.” Dean is referring to the one Balthazar’s wearing in the picture. That’s pretty much accurate.
“They did try to gang up against me, but I think they both gave up lately. It’s fine. It’s not my thing.”
“But I am?”
Castiel’s arm moves around Dean’s frame, his forehead pressing against Dean’s nape.
“But you are,” he agrees, and Dean turns in his arms, his hand going to Castiel’s neck, propping his head up. Castiel goes with it, kissing Dean slowly again. He tastes good – like the cheeseburger, sure, but it’s not just that. It’s obvious that Dean knows how to kiss someone. It’s in the way he moves, careful but sure of himself. There’s nothing awkward or hesitant about it, and Castiel wishes that he couldn’t count the people he kissed on one hand. He tries not to think about that, and kisses back following Dean’s lead. He likes the way Dean’s hands are cradling his head, and the fact that they’re taking their time rather than rushing through it. He tugs Dean down so that they can sit on the bed, and when they part he can’t stop his lips from curling up. Dean smiles back, a hand tangled in Castiel’s hair.
“Shit. Can I ravage you here and now?” Dean breathes out, his eyes fixed on a spot on Castiel’s neck.
“Well, you’d be the first to put it in those terms.”
“No one ever told you that?”
“Not that I can remember.”
“Well, that’s a pity. Because I could do that.”
“By any means,” Castiel whispers before kissing Dean again, and then Dean tugs him closer and oh. It’s not the quiet, slow kissing they’ve been doing until now – Dean’s tongue seems everywhere, his hands pulling on Castiel’s hair and tugging him closer, and Castiel feels heat pool down. He hasn’t made out like this in ages, if ever, but he doesn’t have time to feel pathetic about it because from the way Dean is touching him, it’s obvious that he doesn’t care. Dean’s hands move down at some point, and he’s careful when he tugs Castiel’s shirt off; but he’s extremely careful while taking his own off and placing it on a chair next to the bed.
“Wouldn’t want to ruin my favorite one, right?” he whispers before leaning down and kissing Castiel again. Castiel lets him and then Dean is on top of him. They grind against each other and Castiel starts to find his jeans constricting, not that he can’t feel that Dean is at the same point. The way he’s moving against Castiel’s thigh for relief says it all. Castiel moves his hands down so that he can try to get rid of the remaining clothing – Dean rolls over, barely not falling off the bed, and does the same. Their trousers and underwear end up in a heap on the floor, and Dean runs a hand over Castiel’s chest. His tongue runs over his lips twice before he leans down again. Castiel can feel Dean’s cock harden further against his leg and shivers at that, moving back so that there’s a bit more space on the bed. He’s hard by now, too, and when Dean’s fingers run over his groin he lets out a moan, and –
“Uh,” Dean says, looking mortified, “I hadn’t exactly thought we’d get this far. I don’t have, you know. Condoms. Or lube. Or anything.”
Castiel is tempted to echo the sentiment for a second, but then remembers something. He leans back up, so that he’s almost sitting and his back is against the wall.
“Dean. I’m clean. If you are, too, I sincerely can’t give a damn.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, last time I checked I was and it’s not like I had any in the last eight months or so. And I always took precautions, but –”
Castiel leans down and grabs the half-full bottle of lube from the first drawer in his nightstand.
Dean takes it, raising an eyebrow. “Huh. You’re full of surprises.”
“I merely wanted some quality time on my own, thank you very much. And now, will you please get down and do it?”
Dean laughs, leaning down for another quick kiss, his hands settling on Castiel’s hips.
“I can work with it,” he says, moving down, careful not to fall off the bed. He plunges a finger inside the bottle and Castiel spreads his legs, trying to anticipate Dean’s moves. But he doesn’t get it entirely. Dean’s first finger does breach a bit past his rim, going slowly, but just as Castiel is trying to adjust to the intrusion, he feels Dean’s longue moving along the head of his cock and he has to bite his tongue in order not to be heard by the old lady next door.
It’s moot, though – because then Dean takes him inside his mouth as his finger moves in deeper and he can’t try to stay quiet. He glances down at Dean, who looks very pleased at the way Castiel is blathering yes all over. Dean is going slow – both as he moves that single finger forward and backward and as he works on Castiel’s cock, which is growing harder inside Dean’s mouth. And Castiel doesn’t mind that at all – Dean is good at this, and when he pushes a second finger in, Castiel barely feels it.
He does feel it when Dean’s fingers hits his prostate, though, and Castiel’s hips jerk upwards, not able to stop himself. He worries for a single, coherent second that he might have choked Dean, but then he feels Dean’s tongue swirling under the head of his cock and a third finger being added in, and he gives up on thinking rationally. His hands reach down for Dean’s head, not pushing down but threading through his hair, and he can feel every part of his body reacting, his muscles going on fire. He’s halfway crazy with pleasure when Dean moves his mouth away from his cock, and there’s saliva and pre-come smeared all over his chin; Castiel almost whimpers at the loss, but then there’s a hand at the back of his head and lips pressing against his. Dean tastes of pre-come and it isn’t an issue – Castiel kisses him back without hesitation. His cock is aching for release and Dean’s other hand is still inside him and he isn’t sure of how much he’s going to last.
“Shit, I want – can I?” Dean mutters against Castiel’s mouth.
“I will kill you if you don’t,” Castiel manages before moving up again, unable not to – his lips are swollen now, the red of ripe strawberries, begging to be kissed. He can’t not do it, and he feels Dean shivering when Castiel’s tongue runs through the mess on Dean’s chin, wiping it off.
“Well then,” Dean breathes, moving away a bit, using the last of the lube to slick himself up in quick motions. “How do you wanna do it?” he whispers again, moving closer. “If you’re more comfortable on your stomach –”
“I want to see your face,” Castiel replies, moving back, wishing that the bed was bigger. Dean nods and moves in between Castiel’s spread legs, and his hands go to Castiel’s hips, lifting him up enough for Dean to breach inside with a single push. They stay still for a minute, Castiel breathing heavily and adjusting (but it doesn’t feel nearly as painful as it had last time – then again last time his partner hadn’t spent twenty minutes just stretching him), Dean leaning his forehead against Castiel’s, his eyes closed. Castiel moves a bit, hooks a leg behind Dean’s back, giving him a better angle.
“Move,” he says when he can barely feel the burn. One of Dean’s hands goes to grab Castiel’s hip and the other stays on the mattress, and then he moves. He starts slow, obviously restraining himself, but Castiel feels fine. No, he feels great, and he might be out of practice but he’s not a porcelain doll.
“Stop holding back,” he mutters before raising a hand to Dean’s head and bringing him down for a kiss, and then Dean loses it. He starts moving faster, no rhythm whatsoever, the hand on Castiel’s hip gripping so hard that it hurts, hitting mercilessly on Castiel’s prostate and that’s it, he can’t think anymore. Dean kisses him like he’s desperate for it, and Castiel kisses back as fast. It’s messy and without any finesse and the way his cock is rubbing against Dean’s stomach isn’t doing anything to gain Castiel some more control. He throws his other arm around Dean’s shoulders, his entire body feeling taut, and he’s this close. He can hear Dean saying his name all over except that it’s Cas, and Castiel sort of likes it – surely it’s better than Cassie, he thinks inconsequentially. The rhythm changes, becoming faster, and Castiel lets out a Dean that comes out half strangled and half wanton before he goes still for a second and comes against Dean’s stomach, his body trembling all over and his hand gripping Dean’s shoulders so hard that they’re probably leaving scratches. He feels pleasure run through his nerves and muscles, and everything feels so good in an overwhelming way – he’s sure that he has never come so hard in his entire life. One of Dean’s hands reaches down, stroking him through it, and Castiel whimpers weakly at the feeling of Dean’s rough, warm skin on his still leaking cock, but then Dean loses focus, lets out a strangled moan and comes inside him with a last push, his entire frame shaking above Castiel’s. Castiel is too blissed out by his own orgasm to properly process it, but his legs tighten behind Dean’s back and his hands keep on holding on to Dean’s shoulders.
When it’s over, he feels stickiness running over his thighs, and Dean is still buried inside him, breathing fast and deep as if he’s just finished running a marathon. Castiel isn’t still sure that he isn’t dreaming the whole thing – it’s been too good for it to be real. Except that then Dean moves so that he isn’t inside him anymore, and Castiel feels a slight burn, and no – it was real. He has no idea of what happens now, but he decides that he doesn’t care. They’ll be responsible about it tomorrow morning.
“Should I take the couch anyway?” Dean asks, his face buried against Castiel’s shoulder. Castiel has no doubts about the answer – also, for some reason, they ended up in a perfect position in which neither of them is about to fall off the bed and the bed isn’t creaking at the same time.
“Don’t even think about moving,” Castiel replies, and closes his eyes.
Dean’s breathing becomes regular against his skin, and before falling asleep Castiel thinks that he could get used to this.
When he wakes up the following morning, his bed is empty and there’s a nice smell coming from his kitchen. He forces himself to stand up, grimacing at his ruined sheets and at the dried come all over his stomach. He goes inside his small bathroom and gets inside a shower that’s barely big enough for him, cleaning himself quickly but enough to be presentable. He puts on his clothes from the day before and moves into the living room. Dean is at the stove in the corner, barefoot, apparently flipping pancakes.
“Can you cook?” Castiel asks, and Dean turns towards him after gasping.
“Fuck, you gave me a heart attack. I didn’t hear you coming at all. Anyway well, I have to feed myself. And you had enough stuff to make them from scratch, so. If you want some coffee I made that, too.”
Castiel nods and pours himself a cup, then waits for Dean to be done and meanwhile breaks out a chocolate syrup bottle which he has never had any reason to open until now. He hates cooking and always sticks to easy things, and he has never tried to make pancakes even if that had been the intention when he had bought that. Then he stuck with cereals and yogurt.
“You’re stocked, huh,” Dean mutters in appreciation before dropping two pancakes in Castiel’s plate and one in his.
And they’re pretty good pancakes. Castiel states it and Dean half ducks his head, like he’s pleased but embarrassed at the same time.
“Listen,” Dean says after being done with his first, “do you… I mean, what do we do now?”
Castiel sighs, figuring that it was bound to come up sooner or later. “Good question. Dean, can I ask you something?”
“Let’s suppose for a second that we had lived in the same town before meeting.”
“Like, if you had the shop in Lawrence?”
“Yes. If that was the case… would you want us to see each other again?”
Dean snorts, cutting another piece of pancake but not eating it.
“Man, is that even a question? I mean, sure. I like you, if you hadn’t understood it yet. I should ask you the same question, I guess. I mean, this has been good, but I’m not exactly this great to be with most of the time. And I can’t exactly leave now, not when I have the GED tests to do still,” Dean says, his voice getting lower at the last bit. Castiel can’t help it when his hand reaches out to cover Dean’s again.
“Case is, I think I would like us to see each other again, too. But I understand that you have a life there. And I can’t exactly move,” Castiel says, and he has never hated reality so much. Dean’s hand turns, their fingers threading, and that’s when Castiel knows that he can’t lose this.
“Well. We could,” Castiel starts, not sure of how to put it. “Still see each other. Do it long-distance. We could talk as usual, wait to see where it goes, and then maybe decide if it’s worth it. What do you say?”
“Are you promising me webcam sex instead of phone sex?” Dean asks, and now he’s smiling. He looks lovely when he does it, Castiel thinks.
“Why not?” Castiel answers, and when Dean doesn’t move his hand, he doesn’t either.
When Dean leaves, Castiel feels like someone ripped his heart and took half of it away.
Which sounds incredibly melodramatic, but twelve hours weren’t near enough.
So Castiel picks up his phone, calls Balthazar and tells him that he’d appreciate it if they could have a drink during the evening to talk.
“Wait. So he came here. From Kansas. And you had mind-blowing sex and then he went home?”
“Well, he had to. He couldn’t exactly leave everything and stay here.”
“I suppose that if you’re talking with a psychiatrist, it wouldn’t be a good idea to change town, would it,” Castiel says, downing the shot Balthazar just handed him without thinking about the consequences.
“And so what now, you’re doing long-distance?”
“We’ll see how it works.”
“Cassie, seriously, you get laid now after years and it’s with someone who lives in Kansas? Darling, I wouldn’t want to crush your hopes, but it doesn’t look like the best option. Do you like him, at least?”
“Do you think I’d have let it go this far if I didn’t?” Castiel snaps back, turning the shot glass in his hands and desperately wishing for a refill.
Balthazar doesn’t answer and puts a hand on his shoulder.
Castiel is grateful that sometimes Balthazar knows how to be sensitive.
The point is that it works. They talk each night after Castiel is back from dinner. Half of the time it’s talking – Dean tells him about how it’s going with the GED-related studying, Castiel tells him what he’s working on, and sometimes they actually do have sex.
The sad part is that while it’s still the both of them masturbating, whether it’s phone or whether they’re seeing each other via computer screen, it feels still more fulfilling than it has ever felt for Castiel when doing it on his own.
After one month, Castiel thinks that for a long-distance relationship between two more or less socially stunted people, it’s actually working great.
After another month, Castiel hands Balthazar the list.
Balthazar raises an eyebrow.
“Do you need all this?”
“You will agree that when you’re having sex with someone using a phone or a webcam, after two months you might want to have options other than your hand.”
“My, my,” Balthazar tuts while looking at the list again. “If anything, I guess that I haven’t wasted breath all this time. You were listening to me.”
“I always listen to people who talk to me, and you know that. Are you getting me these things or should I go elsewhere?”
“Cassie, if you go buy this kind of merchandise elsewhere I’ll be perpetually offended. And well, considering how much this will cost you, I can throw in the lube for free again.”
Castiel groans and hopes that there aren’t clients waiting for him outside, since concealing the logo on the bags Balthazar uses is a lost cause.
“I took the last test,” Dean tells him two months later. “If it’s all good, I should get it soon. But… you know, I’m not sure about what I should do with it.”
“What do you mean?”
Dean shrugs, moving closer to the screen. His face is taking up half of Castiel’s laptop. It isn’t a bad thing at all.
“Well, right now I’m repairing cars for a living. Hardly qualifying. And even with the GED, it’s not like I’d get anything better. I wanted to get it to prove myself that I could and because I never exactly wanted to drop out, not for job prospects. But I’m still living here, Sam will have to go back to California at some point and I’m not sure that I can take staying alone in this place. Then again if I sell it I don’t have much left here except for my shrink. And she keeps on telling me that I should change my life and that long-distance relationships aren’t good for my self-esteem.”
“Dean, do you mean –”
“Cas, I’m not breaking up with you. She doesn’t have an idea.”
Castiel lets out a breath of relief, and then he realizes that his fingertips are currently touching his computer screen. He hadn’t even noticed it. Dean realizes that at the same time, and Castiel’s breath gets caught in his throat when Dean’s hand moves, too, and his fingertips obviously touch the screen as well.
Castiel thinks that he can’t give this up.
“Move here,” he says, and Dean’s eyes widen.
“Your brother works in Palo Alto, doesn’t he? If you want to visit him more often, it would be more convenient for you to stay here. And the apartment is enough for two – I should probably buy a bigger bed, though.”
“And what would I do?” Dean asks, not moving his hand. “At least here I have a job with someone who knows how I work and gives me time off if I need it.”
Castiel half-blushes, and decides to go for it. He has been thinking about it for ages – he might as well ask. “When I say that I don’t want to get a bigger business… well, that’s true. But it’s also true that there are moments when I’d need a hand running things. But I wouldn’t want to hire someone I don’t know. Then again, I don’t need a second person all the time, technically.”
“Are you implying what I think you’re implying?”
“Why not? We could agree on the paycheck, considering that you wouldn’t need many living expenses. And I could be flexible. Also with someone else around I could focus on the online store and maybe I’d get more money. It could work out.”
“Cas, are you serious?” Dean asks, his voice barely audible.
Dean doesn’t answer, but the call doesn’t end. Their hands don’t move, and they look at each other in that companionable, soothing silence.
Castiel isn’t having second thoughts.
The day Dean’s car stops in front of Castiel’s place for the second time, the shop is closed for the day and Castiel is waiting outside. There are three duffel bags in the trunk, another one for Dean’s computer and nothing else.
“I got rid of everything I didn’t need when I sold the house,” Dean explains. Castiel nods and moves to take the bags, and then he sees Balthazar coming out from his shop and… rubbing his hands?
“So you must be Dean, huh?” Balthazar asks, joining them ten seconds later.
“Yeah, and –”
“Dean, he’s Balthazar.”
“I hope that you two had fun with that vibrating plug I advised him to buy,” Balthazar replies winking at Dean and nodding at Castiel at the same time, and Castiel groans. Of course.
Dean smirks and stares back. “You can bet we did. Do you want to know in detail?”
He’s obviously trying to embarrass Balthazar, but Castiel is sure that it takes a lot more to faze him.
“If you were inclined, I would totally love it, darling. It’s not like this one here ever shares,” Balthazar replies, and Dean’s eyes widen in a way that would be almost comical. If they hadn’t been talking about Castiel’s sex life, here.
“No, he isn’t. And now I need to help him moving. I’ll see you at dinner, Balthazar. And no one is sharing.”
“That’s a pity. Oh, well, enjoy yourselves then. You know where to find me!”
And with that, he gets back into the shop.
“That’s your only friend?” Dean asks, sounding skeptical.
“I told you how he is.”
“I don’t think words can make it justice. But heck, at least he cares about your sorry ass,” Dean replies while getting two of his bags. Castiel gets the third and the one with the laptop.
“It’s obvious that he does. So, are we going up or not?”
Dean smiles as he asks that, and it’s a lovely day. The sun warms both of them all over, and for some reason Castiel thinks that he can see the freckles dotting Dean’s cheeks more clearly.
The posters in the shop are joined by one for The Shining. Upstairs, no posters appear, but Dean’s GED is ends up framed on the living room’s wall.
They agree on a paycheck and with someone giving him a hand, Castiel does indeed manage to do more creative work – as in, drawing more shirts to sell online – which means that he also gains a bit more and gets more custom orders. (Also, after moving back to Palo Alto, Sam recommends him to half of the interns at the firm he works for. No one complains about that.) Most early evenings it’s the both of them having dinner with Balthazar (who keeps on harassing them for details about their sex life), but whenever Dean says he’d rather stay in Castiel nods and goes on his own. Whenever Dean says he needs some time off he has no problems with giving it.
At the beginning Dean goes to talk to someone else that his former psychiatrist recommended, but after a month he decides that he can do without. He jokes that he has talked about his feelings and his parents enough for ten lifetimes, and he still takes meds, but not as much as he used to in the beginning. Once Castiel tells him that he isn’t as hard to deal with as Dean himself had put it. Dean shrugs and tells him that he isn’t in that position that made him hard to deal with anymore, and they don’t exactly talk about it again. But there are days when Dean stays closer than usual, and during which he’s always a bit more desperate when he kisses Castiel as they fall into the new bed Castiel has bought. Whenever it happens Castiel just lets him be; there are more casual touches, and he’ll force Dean to slow down, and he’ll be the one screwing Dean stupid into the mattress and not the contrary. Sometimes they argue, but the longest time they stay without talking to each other is one day. (Balthazar will say for the next five months that it was the most miserable day of his life since the both of them had spent it using him to talk to the other.)
Six months after Dean moves in, Castiel prints another shirt for him. This one is dark brown with a bright red used for the font. It’s similar to the one he made Dean for his birthday, still not as refined as the first, but with all the work he has lately he didn’t have the time to put some more imagination to it.
It only has a quote written on the front.
It reads, you were sick, but now you’re well, and there’s work to do. (It’s from Timequake – Castiel thought it was fitting.)
When he hands it over to Dean, Dean runs his hands over the quote, slowly, his eyes wide. When he raises them too meet Castiel’s, they’re warm and there’s fondness written all over his face, and Castiel thinks that this is how Dean should look all the time. The fact that he looks so happy because of something Castiel made might also be a reason why Castiel feels warm, as well.
“You’re still awesome at this,” Dean replies, putting the shirt on and moving closer.
“It’s always good to hear it.”
Dean is in front of him right now, a hand Castiel’s hip, touching the worn out cloth of the shirt Castiel is currently wearing.
“Yes?” Castiel breathes for an answer, their mouths barely apart.
“You know when you don’t say things because you don’t know if you’re sure or if it’s just the heat of the moment?”
Castiel nods, once.
“Good. I haven’t said some things until now. To be sure.”
“And now there’s no heat of the moment?”
“After almost a year? I’d doubt it. I wanted to state it’s not that, right now.”
“All right. Is there something you want to say?”
“I love you,” Dean blurts out, his voice not exactly steady, and Castiel can only drag his head down and kiss him until they’re out of breath. He hadn’t known he had wanted to hear it until Dean actually went out and said it, and now he doesn’t think he could regret any of his actions of the last nine months.
“I love you, too,” he manages before they’re kissing again and stumbling towards the bedroom.
Castiel thinks that maybe there was a reason for which Dean’s first shirt had never felt like a usual job. And everything considered, he gained a lot more than rent money from it.
The day after, Balthazar tells them that they’re sickening, since they’re spending any given moment grinning at each other like two twelve-year old girls (in Balthazar’s terms). Castiel does realize that, but he can’t help it and it’s obvious that Dean can’t help it either. After all, he loves his city, he loves his job, he loves Dean. And if Balthazar stopped embarrassing him half of the time, he’d probably miss it, so he just takes it all without complaining and, as Dean tells Balthazar to lay it off and it clearly doesn’t happen, he starts eating his dinner and thinks that he wouldn’t change a single thing about his life.