Fifty First Dates

Chapter 26

Sam walked into the meeting room of the bunker, where Castiel was sitting quietly, staring at one of the many bookshelves crammed with leather-bound tomes. Castiel didn’t react to Sam’s presence, even as the tall hunter approached. He slid into the seat beside the ex-angel, and tapped him on the shoulder. Castiel started, and turned.

‘Hey.’

‘Hello, Sam.’

‘What’re you doing out here? I thought you and Dean would be in bed all day.’

Sam looked uncomfortable with the subject matter, and Castiel turned his attention to the table lamp, thinking. When was the last time he had really paid Sam any attention? He felt the guilt creeping up on him again as he realised that Dean hadn’t been focused on his brother either, not while they’d been so absorbed in each other. He decided to make the effort now, to begin to make amends to the most important person in his boyfriend’s life.

‘Dean wants to cook me dinner. Since I have to eat now.’ He glanced back at Sam quickly. ‘I’m not allowed in the kitchen while he prepares the meal. Nor are you or the girls.’

‘Glad he’s back to being a control freak,’ Sam smiled. ‘So, you’re back on?’

Castiel nodded, and Sam sat closer, his expression becoming serious once more, his eyes full of an earnest desperation that Castiel knew had managed to manipulate Dean thousands of times before.

‘Look, Cas … Dean’s been desperate for you to wake up. He barely ate, barely slept. I don’t think you get how invested he is in this. I don’t think you know what he’s been through the entire time you were broken up. And it’s great you’re back together now, honestly, but Cas? I can’t watch that again. I can’t see my brother be destroyed like that, and I can’t deal with it if you’re the one doing it to him. So just don’t mess it up, okay?’

Castiel refocused on the lamp. He had been so determined to be reunited with Dean that he really hadn’t considered what the hunter had gone through, at least until the other angels were there. And even then, he hadn’t dwelled on the notion too long, there hadn’t really been the option. He knew that Sam was about to fill him in, regardless of whether Dean would want that.

‘How bad was it?’ He asked in a low voice, as though Becky, Charlie or Dean could overhear them otherwise.

‘Pretty bad, Cas. He moped for days, all you could hear was him crying. He wouldn’t leave his room at first, we were talking to the bed covers. And then when he did come out, when we made him spend time with us, he was off. We were trying, you know? Cooking his favourite food, trying not to mention you in case it pissed him off. But even that … you know, Becky made him a pie, trying to get through to him, and he told her it would taste of dick.’

Castiel could feel his chest hurting with everything Sam was telling him. He had never regretted that stupid decision to wipe Dean’s memory more than now, with the knowledge of what he’d put Dean through. How did Dean ever decide to take him back? Regardless of how he felt. And yet, Castiel didn’t know how to articulate any of this to Sam. He latched onto the one piece of information that he could say anything about.

‘Did Becky cook a cherry pie?’

There was an unusual tension in the room, and Castiel regretted the words immediately. He didn’t want to trivialise the conversation, and he was afraid Sam would take it that way. But it just made more sense if the pie filling was cherry, if Dean was likening the flavour to genitalia. What else could Dean have refused to eat or drink on the basis that it would remind him of Castiel?

‘I’m going to pretend you never said that,’ Sam said eventually. ‘It’s going in the same box as the “I meant that literally, Sam,” comments from Dean.’

So Sam had realised what Castiel was intending. The ex-angel wondered how much Sam struggled with the idea of the sexual elements of his relationship with Dean.

‘What else did he stop eating?’

‘Not much. Pancakes. He wouldn’t touch coffee or beer either. Becky said she thought it was to do with you.’

Castiel nodded, although he didn’t understand Dean’s aversion to beer. He knew it would be something he would never be able to broach with the hunter either, because then he would have to explain that Sam had done this, had forced this conversation on him, and the last thing Castiel wanted to do was strain the brother’s relationship further.

‘I never realised-‘

‘I know you didn’t,’ Sam continued over Castiel. ‘But you have to now, okay? You have to. Whatever made you decide to steal his memories, whatever was going through your head - Cas, if you care about him at all, you’ll put him first, right? Because no matter how much he acts like a control freak, or a robot, my brother? He feels things pretty deeply. He just doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to, express that. But he said he’d be with you, and to him that’s huge.’

Castiel looked back at the younger Winchester finally, and smiled weakly, knowing Dean would kill him for confessing this.

‘I know, Sam. He told me he loves me. I didn’t think Dean knew how to say that word. Believe me, there’s no way I want to ruin this, ever again. I didn’t in the first place. Things just got out of hand.’

Sam didn’t seem surprised about Dean’s proclamation of love, and Castiel was instantly suspicious. What had Sam and Dean discussed in the previous few weeks?

‘Yeah, they did. You know, the entire time you were in that coma? Dean didn’t leave your side. We had to force him out for food and the bathroom, and most of the time he only agreed if one of us watched you while he did. This morning was the first time he’d left you alone for five minutes. He had all of us looking up everything the men of letters had ever written about sirens just to see what we could do to wake you up. He jumped at the idea of the dream root to go talk to you. I don’t know what went on between you before you broke up, Cas, but my brother has been showing - without even thinking about it - how much he loves you. You got lucky hearing it.’

Castiel knew Sam was driving the point home to ensure Dean wouldn’t be mistreated again.

‘I know I was lucky, Sam. Thank you.’

Sam’s eyebrows rose, and Castiel knew he hadn’t been expecting the sincere tone that he had used to deliver those last words.

‘I know what I did wasn’t acceptable, and I know that you were trying to help Dean the entire time. I know he’s confided in you, in his own way. But thank you for still giving me a chance.’

‘You’re still my friend, Cas.’

‘Good, I’m glad. I know you’re only trying to look out for Dean.’

Sam nodded, slowly, and then looked down at his fingers, which he was knotting together. He laughed nervously as he did so.

‘So um, he told me about what he walked into, in your coma. That house and everything? Is that something you want?’

Castiel looked down at his own hands, feeling dismay when he saw that there was no ring there. It had felt so comfortable on, so much a part of him. He knew that the picture hadn’t materialised either, because that would definitely have been a talking point with Dean earlier.

‘I mean, I know what Dean’s like,’ Sam continued. ‘I know he’ll shut down anything he’s not ready for. He was freaking out over the whole marriage thing.’

‘Oh.’ Castiel was perplexed. Dean had painted it as though he was uncomfortable with the fantasy in its entirety, the house and the changes in Castiel. Sam was honing in on one detail. ‘I never considered marriage before.’

Sam didn’t respond, and Castiel felt compelled to continue.

‘Honestly, Sam, it’s not a big deal. What I want, what Dean wants, it all makes marriage seem trivial. I still have him, that’s what counts.’

Sam cracked his knuckles, and Castiel assumed he was preparing himself for a response, one that probably was about how Castiel shouldn’t let Dean get his way all the time, and he should say if he wanted the hunter to become his husband. Thankfully, before Sam could continue to accidentally apply pressure on an unnecessary issue, Becky and Charlie appeared, Charlie perching on the table in front of them, and Becky cautiously taking a spot on Sam’s knee.

‘We just got kicked out of the kitchen,’ Charlie announced. Becky nodded as Sam pulled her closer.

‘Yep, we only went in to grab a drink, and he started yelling. Although, Charlie asked him if he was cooking dinner for everyone, the way he was working at the stove.’

‘It smelled yummy. Boy’s totally cray though,’ Charlie shot a look at Castiel, who pursed his lips together rather than respond. Clearly, Charlie wasn’t as accepting of the fact he was reinstated as Dean’s boyfriend.

‘He just wants it to go well,’ Becky shrugged, and Castiel watched as she took Sam’s hand gently, and started addressing him. ‘He’s only cooking for Cas, and he said he wants us out the bunker when its done. That’s the nice version of what he said, anyway.’

Castiel couldn’t suppress his smile, even as Sam rolled his eyes.

‘He owes us.’

Castiel watched as Sam carefully lifted Becky off his lap, pressed a small kiss to her forehead, and then headed in the direction of the kitchen, leaving Castiel alone with the girls. The second Sam was out of sight, Becky was squealing and hugging his neck tightly.

‘I’m so glad you’re awake!’

Castiel held her back gingerly, noting how slight she was compared to Dean, how bony and small. She continued chattering away even as she withdrew from the hug and settled in Sam’s vacated chair, and Castiel was grateful that at least she didn’t feel the need to remind him of what he owed Dean.

‘Where did you go, Cas? Did you not hear us all praying to you? We were so worried. You remember I said you could stay, right?’

Castiel waited until she paused, and allowed him to speak.

‘I did come back, Becky, as soon as I could, but you’d already left. I had to go to Heaven.’

‘Oh, okay. Good. As long as we’re still friends. You know you can talk to me, anytime. I won’t tell Sam a thing, promise.’

She mimed locking her lips shut and throwing away the key. Castiel smiled warmly at her.

‘Of course we’re still friends, Becky.’

‘So what happened in Heaven?’ She leaned on one hand, blinking her big eyes at him.

‘They took my grace, made me human. That’s why I didn’t respond to any prayers, I didn’t hear them.’

She clutched her other hand to her chest, her eyes growing wider.

‘Oh, Cas! And Dean still managed to find you. That’s so cute!’

‘That’s a lifetime movie,’ Charlie grumbled.

‘Well, I was on my way here after I found your place empty.’

Becky nodded, and looked over at Charlie.

‘Come on, you know that’s so cute.’

‘It’s adorable.’ Charlie said drily. ‘So are the hickeys.’

Becky reached over immediately, grabbing Castiel’s chin and tilting it up. Castiel didn’t understand what Charlie was referring to, or why Becky had reacted that way. She clucked her tongue after a moment.

‘You couldn’t even hide that in a turtleneck.’

‘I bet Dean’s proud of that handiwork.’ Charlie stuck in.

‘What on earth are you talking about?’ Castiel finally asked. Charlie held a compact mirror in front of him, and he could see in the reflection a trail of bruises along his neck. He didn’t remember being hurt on his throat, especially not by Dean, but it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Dean had done it to him.

‘What are you guys doing?’ Sam asked from behind Castiel, obviously having returned from his brother.

‘Looking at Cas’ hickey’s,’ Charlie filled him in. Sam walked closer, and stooped to look at Cas’ throat as well. Castiel watched as Sam’s expression moved from curious into a poker face.

‘Dean didn’t hurt me,’ Castiel whispered, in case Sam’s reaction was due to some kind of anger at his brother. He didn’t expect the younger hunter to start laughing.

‘We know he didn’t, Cas,’ Sam was shaking his head, a bemused expression now on his face. ‘I bet he’s waiting to see how long it takes you to notice.’

‘How did it even happen?’ Castiel asked, looking back in the mirror at the clusters of blue and black circles all along his neck. The other three only laughed, as though it were hysterical that Dean had somehow bruised his neck.

‘Ask Dean,’ Sam finally managed. ‘He said he’ll be ready for you in about twenty minutes, okay? And then you’re spending time with us.’

Sam gestured to Becky, and Castiel felt his stomach drop. He had expected after this dinner that Dean would treat the rest of the evening as a date, even if they were still in the bunker.

‘Okay. Does Dean have a case?’ Castiel tried to sound off-hand, as though it wasn’t bothering him to know that he might not be spending time with his boyfriend. They all laughed again.

‘I meant you and Dean.’ Sam rolled his eyes, and stood behind Becky, rubbing her arms gently, stooping down to kiss her head gently. Becky grinned at Sam’s attention. ‘So, what’re we having for dinner, since Dean’s banned us from the kitchen?’

‘I don’t know, Chinese?’

‘Ugh, well, while you’re all being sickeningly couple-y,’ Charlie slid off the table and began walking away. ‘I’m going to go out and see what the locals are up to. Later, bitches.’

‘Hey, Charlie!’ Sam called at her retreating back. She turned her head. ‘Take one of the cars in the garage. Not the Impala, but one of the others.’

‘Cool. Retro.’ Charlie skipped the rest of the way out of the room, as Sam and Becky began debating what food they’d order in for their own meal. Castiel listened while internally counting down the minutes until he was allowed into the kitchen.

*

In the brief wait to be allowed in to see Dean, Castiel watched as Sam and Becky negotiated their own meal, left the bunker to collect their order, and come back. The smell of the chow mein alone had Castiel’s stomach growling ferociously, and he didn’t even wait for Sam to check his watch. As soon as the twenty minutes were up, Castiel stood and walked through the bunker to the kitchen. Dean was placing two forks on the table as the ex-angel walked through the threshold. The hunter looked up, and smiled warmly, before closing the distance between them and greeting him with a kiss. Castiel felt the butterflies stir in his stomach at that. It was so domesticated, and completely unexpected that Dean would do something like that. He knew better than to bring it up to Dean, however.

‘Hey,’ Dean sounded eager, though he was handling Castiel gently, holding him just by the elbows. ‘You hungry?’

‘Very.’ Castiel looked at the counter, and saw the plates of spaghetti and meatballs. The butterflies doubled as he realised how much Dean had been paying attention. ‘Did you do the meal that Lady and the Tramp ate?’

Castiel didn’t miss the small drop in Dean’s expression, though he salvaged the mood quickly by hitching a smile on his face. Castiel didn’t try and guess what it was in his phrasing that his boyfriend didn’t like.

‘Spaghetti and meatballs, Cas. Not everything’s a cartoon. You want a beer?’

Dean led him to the table, pulling a chair out and waiting beside it. Castiel realised he was meant to sit, and he did so, letting Dean move the chair closer to the table and walking to the refrigerator. Castiel presumed that not everything’s a cartoon implied Dean wasn’t as enthusiastic about Disney as he was. And it was typical of Dean to think of beer, but Castiel had another agenda.

‘Um, could I have some wine, maybe?’

‘Sure,’ Dean reached towards the back of the refrigerator, and Castiel was secretly relieved that Dean hadn’t worked out his motives. He wanted to compare how it would be now, to how he imagined it. The coffee and pancakes had been so different, after all.

Dean returned to the table, and popped the cork off of the bottle, before reaching to one of the high shelves and grabbing two glasses, which he filled with white wine. Castiel thought back, to the evening he had spent in the fantasy where he and Dean were curled together, drinking wine and just enjoying each others company. The parallel wasn’t missed, but Castiel hoped that somehow, this would be more enjoyable. He felt the compulsion to tell Dean about the evening they’d spent together in his dream world.

‘You’re having one too?’

Dean rubbed his neck as he placed the glasses in front of their seats.

‘Is that a problem?’

Castiel shook his head, watching Dean put the bottle back onto the table and bring a plate. It was far from a problem. He felt apprehensive as he brought it up, afraid of pushing Dean too far, but he owed it to his boyfriend to explain, surely?

‘You know, in that, in my … I knew about wine. I don’t know how.’

‘Oh, right.’ There was a strange silence between them as Dean laid the plates in front of Castiel, and he began to regret bringing it up. At least, until Dean stood behind him, hands caressing his shoulders. He found himself leaning back into his boyfriend’s chest, his tongue loosening as his inhibitions weakened.

‘You had some with me once.’

Dean slid his arms across Castiel’s chest, and rested his chin against the ex-angel’s forehead.

‘Cas, you know it wasn’t real. This is real. And isn’t this better?’

Castiel considered it. No, Dean wasn’t as free with his emotions as in the dream world, but there was a raw honesty now, and somehow that carried more weight, knowing what it cost the hunter to even get to this point.

‘This is much better.’

‘Good.’ Dean leaned down further and kissed Castiel upside down, before heading back to the counter for his plate, and slipping into the chair opposite the ex-angel. He immediately began scooping up his food with his fork, and Castiel felt disappointed. As soon as he’d seen the spaghetti, he’d hoped that Dean would completely recreate the scene between the two dogs. Or at least, the idea of accidentally eating the same noodle and finishing in a kiss appealed.

‘I thought we were going to share a plate, you know,’ he tried to sound conversational, picking up his own fork and prodding the dish. Dean sucked on a few stray noodles still poking out of his mouth, then chewed quickly, his eyes locked on Castiel’s. He swallowed audibly.

‘There’s too much table in the way.’

Castiel looked at the table settings, and slid his around. He knew Dean had laid it out so that they could look at each other, but by moving his place setting around, Castiel could be sitting close enough to share the meals, and yet still maintain eye contact. Dean watched without taking another bite as Castiel moved his chair around also, and sat back in it casually, rewarding himself with a large slug of the white wine. He fought the urge to promptly spit it out and instead swallowed quickly. Wine hadn’t tasted like that in his dream world, it had been sweet and sharp and delicious.

‘That’s disgusting,’ he said, wrinkling his nose. Dean grabbed his own glass and took a mouthful, then shrugged carelessly.

‘It’s fine, Cas.’

Castiel bit back the retort that maybe Dean’s alcohol taste buds were destroyed by the sheer volume of rotgut and Bobby’s hooch that he’d imbibed over the years, and instead helped himself to Dean’s food. The hunter’s response was to sigh.

‘Yeah, I guess we’re definitely a couple, you’re stealing my food.’

‘We’re sharing, Dean.’ Castiel informed him obstinately, spiking a meatball onto the edge of the tines.

‘You’re lucky I love you.’ Dean muttered. Castiel didn’t marvel over how casually he said the word that time, and opted to downplay it. Obviously, Dean wasn’t annoyed about Castiel’s decision to share food if he was willing to talk so openly. Instead, the ex-angel closed the small distance between them to press their lips together once more, and then continued babbling, since Dean seemed to be in such a good mood.

‘We should do that thing where we eat the same bit of spaghetti and end up kissing. Like in the-‘

Dean kissed him this time, cutting off the words, and the butterflies in Castiel’s stomach leapt up.

‘Or we can just do that?’ Dean’s voice lowered, and Castiel swirled the meatball in some sauce, before stuffing it into his mouth. ‘Fine …’

Dean seemed to give up resisting, and stuck his fork onto Castiel’s plate. As soon as he swallowed, Dean raised his fork and made him eat the noodles there.

They carried on the meal in the same way, poking at each others plates, Castiel determined to eat the same noodles as Dean, who in turn would try to feed him. And between mouthfuls there were the small kisses, the constant flow of conversation that never really went anywhere and only served to punctuate their food-flirting. Castiel hadn’t eaten much food in his existence, but it was the best meal he’d ever had. He wondered if Dean felt the same way, and then put the idea to rest. Dean must have enjoyed it, because - as Sam had said - if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have participated. And Dean was so attentive, he’d gotten Castiel a drink of water when it became clear he wouldn’t be touching the wine again, and then drank from his glass so the wine didn’t go to waste.

It felt as though no time has passed before their plates were empty, save for a few sauce smears, and Dean was standing, intent on washing the dishes.

‘Sam wants us to spend time with him and Becky,’ he said cheerfully as he headed to the sink. Castiel followed him, in an echo of that morning.

‘I know. He told me while you were cooking. I guess they’re waiting for us to go and find them?’

‘We could keep them waiting, you know,’ Dean smirked flirtatiously. Castiel didn’t have to strain to decipher the subtext. Instead he rested his forehead against Dean’s cheek and kissed his boyfriend’s shoulder.

‘You have a one track mind. It’ll be fun.’

He meant that, though he wasn’t sure if Dean would agree about how entertaining an evening with his brother and Becky would be. Dean hadn’t really spoken about his thoughts on Sam’s relationship, Castiel realised. He had dominated the hunter’s attention far too much.

‘Sure. You wanna go out there and let them know we’re ready? I’ll finish this up.’

‘Are you sure? You’ve done all the work-‘

‘It’s fine, Cas.’ Dean bestowed another kiss on his mouth, and Castiel realised he’d been overly sensitive that morning. Dean liked things neat and tidy, and that extended to the dishes. ‘Whatever it is they’ve got planned for tonight, we stick together, okay? They wanna watch a movie, we argue for something that isn’t a chick flick.’

Castiel personally wouldn’t have minded a chick flick. He liked the happy endings, the overcoming adversity that those tales featured prominently. He used to imagine Dean looking at him in the same way as the lead roles, there would be something whimsical about seeing it now that he’d won his lead man. But equally, he liked that Dean wanted to work as a team, to be a unit, so of course there was only one real response.

‘Agreed. Don’t be too long.’

Castiel left the kitchen, feeling pleased with himself for managing to leave Dean for a brief period of time. He realised he was being codependent, but there were excuses for it. He was human now and needed help, they had just re-established their relationship, Dean had said he was in love. For now, it was entirely rational for him to be so attached.

He made his way back to the meeting room, where Sam and Becky had left a pile of take out containers and wrappers on one table, and were covering the other with a stack of boxes. Sam looked up as Castiel entered the room, and smiled.

‘You’re done? Dean didn’t try any funny business?’

‘He said we should keep you waiting. He was implying-‘

‘Yeah, well,’ Sam cleared his throat. ‘We thought we’d play board games. How ‘bout it?’

‘I played Sorry once, with Dean.’ Castiel wanted to take the words back as soon as they’d left his mouth. He meant that he understood the rules of a board game, but he realised that in the circumstances, the title of the game carried more weight. It had with Dean back then too. ‘It was at the mental facility.’

He hoped that by mentioning that fact, Sam would remember that he was the cause for Castiel’s stay there. Although it was Castiel breaking down the wall in Sam’s mind that began that chain of events …

‘Well, we don’t have Sorry, but we do have Boggle?’ Sam sounded carefree, as he wound his arms around Becky. ‘Wanna pick something out?’

Castiel looked at the cardboard packaging, reading the unfamiliar labels and trying to guess which game Dean would prefer. He couldn’t imagine Dean enjoying any of them, he had thrown Sorry to the floor after all.

‘I don’t know any of these,’ Castiel said eventually, hoping that would cover him enough. Sam shrugged a shoulder, as Becky slid a box from the pile.

‘How about Operation?’ She held it out to Castiel, who frowned at the packaging.

‘We have to remove that man’s body parts?’

‘Board games? Really?’ Dean strode into the room, stopping by the table. He was just out of Castiel’s reach.

‘Really.’ Sam’s tone was final. Dean slid into a chair.

‘Fine.But we’re playing in teams. Couple versus couple.’

Castiel felt a spike of excitement in his stomach as Dean described them in that way. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to Dean being so blasé about them being a couple. Love did some very strange things to the hunter. Sam and Dean continued their snarky remarks to each other.

‘I was hoping for an actual challenge, Dean.’

‘It’s on.’

Castiel looked at Becky, who pursed her lips back at him, her eyebrows raised as though she believed a fight between the brothers was inevitable. Castiel hoped that wasn’t the case. Surely the evening was about bonding, and making sure everyone was finally happy? He could see, out of the corner of his eye, Sam setting out the game, and Dean finally taking a chair. He pulled Castiel down beside him as they waited for Sam to be happy that the game was, in fact, playable. Becky took the chair opposite Castiel with a beady look in her eye that Castiel could only assume was linked to some kind of gossip.

‘So, are we going to talk about it?’ She asked, her enthusiasm apparent in her voice. Dean turned to Castiel, who immediately looked back at him.

‘Sure. We take it in turns to remove the white plastic bits, without knocking on the metal. If you beep, you don’t get the part. Whoever gets the most wins.’

‘It sounds demonic,’ Castiel responded. Wouldn’t it cause the game man pain?

‘Nah, it’s like a surgeon. Like um, like Doctor Sexy.’

Dean’s favourite television programme. If he was likening the game to Doctor Sexy, it couldn’t be all that bad.

‘Oh geez, you’re not going to fantasise about Cas in a white coat and cowboy boots now, are you?’ Sam joined in the conversation. He made it sound like it was truly kinky to do so. He must have no real idea of what Castiel and Dean were really like. Becky wasn’t about to be deterred, however.

‘I was talking about the hickeys.’

Castiel wished she hadn’t brought them up in front of Dean. He knew he should have, and then he could have panicked appropriately as Dean calmed him down and somehow pulled a solution to the vast bruising out of thin air. Castiel rubbed at his neck as though his fingers would magically remove them, and Dean carefully prised his fingers away, looking at the collection of bruises that marred his lovers skin.

’They think you did this to me,’ Castiel whispered, ashamed that Becky and Sam might be able to hear him. He wanted to tell Dean that he didn’t agree, he certainly didn’t blame the hunter. He wanted to ask what it was, how it could have happened, and most importantly, how to get rid of them.

‘Mmmmm, I did.’

Dean’s response managed to be both confusing and disappointing. He was taking ownership of them, without panicking in the slightest. In fact, he seemed proud of the idea that he’d damaged Castiel’s skin.

‘It wasn’t going to be anyone else, Cas,’ Sam stuck in. From the look that Dean gave his lover at that interjection, Castiel knew that his mind had jumped immediately to Meg. Even with Castiel’s reassurances that he wasn’t interested, that Meg had been a mistake, and only a kiss. Luckily, Sam continued talking. ‘Can we just play?’

He immediately picked up part of the game and began to play, as Dean traced his thumb over the marks. Castiel took advantage of Becky and Sam’s lack of concentration to whisper to Dean again.

‘How did you do it? You never hurt me, Dean.’

There was an unusually soft look in Dean’s eyes as he leaned even closer, the tip of his nose brushing against Castiel’s ear.

‘When I kissed your neck. I bet you’ve got a great one on your leg.’

Castiel thought back to their session that afternoon. Dean had been kissing, sucking and biting at his neck. But he always did that, and Castiel had never had such a reaction before. Of course, this was the first time they had made out while he was human … he must have removed any other hickeys that Dean had given him without knowing it. He didn’t remember marking Dean’s body in that way, and he had definitely given Dean’s neck some attention too.

‘HEY!’ Sam interrupted Castiel’s musings, smacking the table loudly and glaring at them as Castiel shifted his focus onto the taller hunter, and Dean turned as well. ’We’re playing a game now, right?’

Castiel looked down at his knees, as Dean leaned back in his chair. Castiel felt like he was being told off, and he wasn’t wholly sure why. What was so wrong with Dean trying to offer an explanation? He felt the need to defend his boyfriend at least.

‘Dean was just explaining how this happened,’ he indicated his neck, hoping that Sam would understand Castiel’s lack of awareness, his need to be educated in what had happened. Sam rolled his eyes instead, his lip curling up in a sneer.

‘Do you two do anything that doesn’t involve sex?’

Castiel looked away, feeling ashamed. After everything that had happened, was that all Sam thought their relationship consisted of? Even after their earlier discussion, when they had agreed it was unusual for Dean to have confessed his feelings. He had thought Sam understood that there were layers to the relationship, even ones that Castiel didn’t understand yet.

‘Have either of us complained about this whole board game thing?’ Dean started speaking, his voice wavering with poorly-concealed anger. ‘Or spending time with you and Becky? Did I chew you out in the kitchen earlier when you changed my plans? And what about the last three weeks, huh Sam? I wasn’t trying to bone him while he was unconscious. You don’t see everything, Sam.’

Castiel felt flattered that Dean would stand up for their relationship in that way, but he still felt a burning shame that Sam could reduce their relationship down to something so crass. He looked up and saw Becky mouthing at him, trying to reassure him that he and Dean were cute together, sorry Sam was so grouchy.

‘He’s it, Sam. The One.’

Becky stopped mouthing reassurances, her eyes growing wide, and Castiel turned to look at Dean, catching Sam’s baffled expression as he did so. Whatever Dean meant in those five words, it had a huge impact. Castiel had a feeling it meant something more than the one I’m dating, but he wasn’t quite sure what. Sam’s next words were even more confusing.

‘Real estate?’

‘Don’t push it.’

Dean at least, seemed to understand what Sam meant by real estate. They communicated in a way that was unique to the brothers, and Castiel found it confusing. So did Becky, it appeared, as when he looked at her, she shrugged.

‘Just keep the PDA to a minimum. It’s your turn.’

And with that, the game resumed. Dean picked up the tweezers that were attached to the board, and bent closer to the game. Castiel’s burning curiosity got the better of him.

‘I’m the one what?’

Dean paused, as though he were considering answering, but Becky was the one to fill Castiel in, her enthusiastic nature unable to hold back. Castiel was happy to see her so bubbly, as it was still so rare to experience.

’The one. You know, the one he wants to be with forever, the one-‘

‘Becky. I’m concentrating.’ Dean cut her off, and Castiel reflected quickly. Dean thought that highly of him? He had been overwhelmed just by the hunter using the word love, but this was … this was a huge commitment. No wonder Sam and Becky had reacted to the words, Dean had pretty much declared them bonded for life. Castiel felt compelled to reassure his boyfriend that it was very much reciprocated, even as Dean lowered the tweezers to the game board.

‘Dean, you’re the One too.’

Dean’s hand jogged, and the tweezers hit the metal surround, and the board made the buzzing sound that Dean had explained about. But he didn’t turn around and yell at Castiel, tell him they were meant to be teaming up against Sam and Becky, remember? He dropped the tweezers completely, folding his arms tight against his chest.

‘I hate this game.’

Castiel reached over and touched his arm gently, about to reassure him, and Dean quickly unfolded his arms, grabbing another box from the pile. Maybe it wasn’t the time to discuss Dean’s revelation, the ex-angel reflected.

‘Lets play this instead.’

Instead of Sam complaining, as Castiel had expected given his mood, he merely took the box from his brother and began to set it up instead, Operation being relegated to the end of the table. Castiel took advantage of the momentary lapse in concentration to lean closer to Dean, and whisper in his ear.

‘I didn’t mean to distract you.’

Dean leaned towards him.

‘You never mean to, Cas.’ He sounded amused. Castiel didn’t understand, not completely. It sounded like Dean was frequently distracted by him. At least, he hoped that was what Dean intended.

‘I meant what I said.’ He added, hoping that the hunter would understand. His brain was feeling sluggish suddenly, and his eyes were itching.

‘I know. I did too. Hey,’ Dean shifted even closer, dropping his voice further. Castiel could barely hear him. ‘Sam’s going to play to win, wanna have some fun with him?’

Castiel stifled a yawn, not wanting Dean to think he was bored, or being rude somehow. And Sam’s sudden attitude after being so positive that morning was grating, of course he would back up Dean if his boyfriend wanted to mess with Sam. Dean took his hand, rubbing a thumb across his knuckles in a familiar way as Sam started babbling about the game. Castiel was barely following, his brain felt like it was full of cotton wool. He was concentrating on Dean’s thumb, on the way it moved, on how his fingers felt pressed against Castiel’s own.

Castiel looked at the little white tiles in front of him, knowing he had to form a word from them, but he still felt sluggish, unable to think of a word that made sense. Everyone was quiet as the game went on, and Castiel found his attention wavering. It felt as if there were something truly wrong with him.

‘You need help there, Cas? You have to make a word-‘ Sam eventually spoke up. Castiel interrupted him as he fought to remain alert.

‘I know. Sam. I’m thinking.’

He tapped a finger on the rack of tiles, and grudgingly removed his hand from Dean’s, sliding the tiles around until he finally could see something. He placed his tiles on the board, and caught the expression on Sam’s face. Through the strange fuzz of his mind, he could appreciate that the taller hunter wasn’t impressed.

‘Cas, that’s not a word.’

Castiel looked at the game board again, and saw what the problem was.

‘It is. It’s Enochian.’

Had he really done that? Castiel heard Dean’s snort of laughter beside him, as Sam pressed on.

‘What does it mean?’

‘It means hummingbird.’

Sam looked at him skeptically, and then at Dean.

‘Okay, new rule, we only play English words.’

‘Is that English spellings?’ Castiel couldn’t help asking, blinking his eyes furiously. Sam’s reaction was to grab at his hair, tugging on it almost violently.

‘Can we not play one game without you two making it difficult?’

Castiel felt slightly affronted. He wasn’t trying to be difficult, he was trying to join in. He hadn’t realised he was making an enochian word until it had been pointed out to him. But Sam was acting as though this was sabotage.

‘Could play poker.’ Dean shrugged. Castiel knew he would never make it through poker. Sam began to make a strange, high-pitched whining sound, as Becky began to click her tiles on their rack.

‘Sammy? Maybe you could let it go. I mean, Enochian is Castiel’s first language. Right?’ She smiled sympathetically at Castiel, who gave her a small smile back as he nodded.

‘Yes. It is. And even if I’m not an angel anymore, I still remember the language.’

At least he still had that connection to his past, his family. Sam looked up at Becky, who placed a hand on his shoulder, smiling at him softly.

‘Come on, Sam. Maybe we’ll learn something.’

Sam didn’t respond. He looked steadily at Becky instead, and Castiel noted through the fug in his mind that it was similar to the way he and Dean looked at each other sometimes. He leaned closer to his boyfriend.

‘We do that better.’

‘We do everything better.’ Dean whispered back, sliding an arm around him. Castiel responded gratefully, resting his head on Dean’s shoulder, his fingers taking hold of Dean’s arm as he slid it across Castiel’s torso. Sam looked up as Castiel’s eyelids fluttered, threatening to remain closed.

‘Guys, really?’ Sam’s voice sounded so far away. Castiel was sinking into that wonderful smell of Dean’s, and the firmness of his chest and arms, the warmth of his body, and that sense of security, of being loved, that he’d been wanting. Dean flexed his arms, squeezing Castiel, and he roused himself, a little.

‘You know, I’m tired.’

Dean rested his head against his boyfriend’s, nuzzling slightly as he replied.

‘You wanna go to bed?’

Castiel nodded, feeling all his body protesting at the movement. Dean stood, and practically lifted him from his seat, laying Castiel’s arm across his shoulder and supporting the sleep-filled ex-angel.

‘You coming back, Dean?’ Sam sounded so far away.

‘No. Going to bed too.’ Dean meanwhile, sounded so close. Too close, as though Castiel existed surrounded by Dean. Which felt accurate, he was consumed by the hunter. Sam spoke again, but Castiel didn’t catch the words. He was falling down a void, lined with Dean, with his smell, his voice, his very essence. Maybe Dean said something back to Sam, maybe he didn’t, Castiel stopped being aware. He faintly registered his legs moving, and felt the need to say something to Dean. The most important thing.

‘Dean? I love you.’

‘I know baby, I know.’ Dean’s tone was like honey, and Castiel bathed in the warmth of it, even as he babbled on, only half-aware of what he was saying.

‘Thank you. For taking me back, for still caring. For forgiving me.’

Dean didn’t reply to that. Or did he? Castiel didn’t know. The only thing he noticed was that his legs stopped moving, and then somehow he was laying on something soft. Their bed. He was finally, happily in their bed. Dean was speaking, but it didn’t really register. He just had to answer, something that Dean would want to hear.

‘Okay Dean. I love you.’

And the last thing that Castiel really noticed was Dean next to him, skin-to-skin, curled around him, solid and permanent and his.


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