*One year later*
Castiel stood on a wide balcony, overlooking the street seven floors below. He leaned against the railings, surveying the town, feeling the breeze lift his hair and the bottom of his suit jacket.
He was thinking, about the time he and Dean had spent together. How they had returned from their trip to Wisconsin to find Sam’s room empty, a confirmation that he was true to his word and living with Becky. Dean hadn’t spoken about it, and Castiel had made the effort to contact Sam, to make sure there wasn’t a rift forming between the brothers. Sam had gotten down to business instantly, telling Castiel about a case that had come up, asking them to meet him there.
That had been the start of their new regime. The brothers would work cases together, all three of them sharing a room with the understanding that Dean and Castiel absolutely would not sleep together while on the case. Castiel would do research and respond to phone calls while the brothers interviewed locals and did the grunt work. And then Sam would return to Becky, and Dean would drive Castiel back to the bunker, where yes they would finally have sex, but they would also do other things. Castiel was slowly learning to cook by himself, to the point that Dean had started to complain that he was becoming fat with all the cookies and pies that Castiel made for practice. Though he never, ever turned it down. They did other things too, things that Castiel would never have dreamed of, like sitting around in sweat pants sharing take out or Ramen noodles, and watching movies. Dean would always have a few beers, and Castiel had found he enjoyed spritzers and mixing vodka with soda, so he would drink those, as Dean tangled their legs together. Castiel had been well educated on a host of movies from Dean’s childhood, like the entire Back To The Future and Star Wars series. They would talk long into the evening about all manner of issues, and topics. Some were light, and full of laughter, and some were more serious, deeper conversations that Castiel knew would only exist between them.
Castiel wouldn’t change a thing about it. Their relationship might not have been the perfect model it had been in his siren-induced fantasy, but there was a lot of love and affection, and Castiel felt as though he just knew Dean, and could correctly predict everything his boyfriend could potentially think or feel at any given time. Dean had made the effort with him also, to explain himself more fully whenever he could, to give Castiel more license in their physical relationship. Castiel felt very fortunate.
The glass door behind him opened, and he turned to acknowledge the person opening the door. Charlie stepped out onto the balcony in a light pink dress, which matched the waistcoat, handkerchief and corsage that Castiel was wearing.
‘Wow, Charlie,’ he smiled. She grinned back.
‘Yuh-huh, I know. I’m working it. And wait until Dean sees you in that tux.’
She winked, and Castiel looked away bashfully, as the image of Dean in an identical suit swam into his mind. He could imagine what Charlie was intending, because he was sure his reaction was the same.
‘Anyway, you wanna come back in?’
Charlie gestured to the room behind her, and Castiel nodded, following her back into the hotel room. It was crowded, and Castiel felt out of place instantly. There were another two girls that Castiel had only met a handful of times before; dressed identically to Charlie, perched on a chaise lounge and holding champagne flutes that were half-full as they talked behind their hands, giggling. There was a woman that Castiel had been introduced to briefly as the make up artist, and the hairdresser that Castiel was sure was about to look disapprovingly at what the wind had done to his hair, after she had spent so long artfully arranging each lock. Another person was wielding a large camera, and taking photos of everything they could possibly think of. There was also Becky’s parents, who were perched on the bed, looking bewildered and clutching glasses of their own. Charlie grabbed two more glasses from a side table, and thrust one into Castiel’s hand.
‘Dutch courage, dude.’
Castiel had long since given up trying to comprehend what Charlie meant most of the time when she spoke. Dean seemed to understand it, and if it ever really bothered Castiel, he knew he could always ask Dean for an explanation in private. He’d learned to try and understand her actions rather than her words. In that way, she was an awful lot like Dean. He took the glass offered, and swallowed a polite sip.
‘Are you ready?’ Charlie grinned, and Castiel nodded, although he wasn’t too sure what Charlie could possibly mean. The photographer swept in front of them, and took a picture, before crossing to the en suite, where they knocked on the door.
There was a squeak from inside the bathroom, before Becky finally, slowly emerged, wearing a sleek white dress. She looked both ecstatic and nauseated.
‘Rebecca,’ Her mother stood up from the bed, and crossed the room to her. ‘I can’t believe … my little girl … you look …’ she burst into tears, and Becky bit her lip, as Charlie took charge, grabbing bouquets of flowers, distributing them to the other girls, and then putting a hand on both Becky and her mother’s shoulders.
‘I agree, Mrs Rosen, Becky looks gorgeous. Sam’s not going to know what hit him. But please don’t get her crying before she gets to the aisle.’ She looked Becky in the face. ‘Becky, it’ll be okay. It’s going to be fine. It’s Sam. All you’re doing is walking into a room with Cas, walking right up to Sam, and telling him you love him. That’s pretty much it, okay? And then we go and have a few pictures, go eat some dinner, and then we party. Nothing to it.’
Castiel marvelled over how simply Charlie had phrased everything, and how relieved Becky already looked. He watched as Charlie pressed yet another glass in Becky’s hand and encouraged her to drink, citing dutch courage again. And then there was another flurry of activity in the room, as yet another person pressed their way inside and started issuing commands, ushering Becky’s parents out with the make up artist and hair stylist. She spoke quickly to Charlie and the other two girls who had matching dresses, and left with them, the photographer following closely behind. And then Castiel and Becky were left alone in the room together.
‘You’re breathtaking, Becky,’ Castiel assured her. She smiled weakly.
‘Thank you, Castiel.’ She placed a hand on her chest, and took a deep breath. ‘I didn’t get this scared last time.’
Castiel nodded slowly, trying to recall everything Dean had mentioned about Sam and Becky’s previous wedding.
‘It’s very different this time. Your family are here, you planned it together. I suppose it feels more real.’
She nodded, and waved her hands in front of her face, still breathing unevenly.
‘It will be fine, Becky. Like Charlie said, all we have to do is walk down to that room, walk into the room, and go to Sam. And then everything else will fit into place.’
‘Keep talking like that. Exactly like that.’ She smiled weakly.
‘Okay. All you have to do right now is hold my arm. Can you do that?’
She nodded, and slid her arm into his like they had practiced. He squeezed her hand gently, and tried to think how else he could phrase what they had to do in order to get Becky to Sam.
‘And now we just have to leave the room. Just walk out of the room, and to the elevator. Okay?’
Becky nodded quickly, and let Castiel lead her across the room, and out into the hallway. He wondered if he would ever react to Dean in the same way, that nervous energy that led to terror, and then he realised that he had spent a lot of the early days of their relationship in a similar state.
‘We’re just taking the elevator. That’s all.’ Castiel was aware of the photographer nearby, taking pictures of their progress. He did his best to fight her nerves. ‘Just a quick elevator ride, okay?’
Becky nodded, and let him walk her into the elevator, where he pressed the button, and squeezed her hand again.
‘I’m right here,’ he whispered.
‘Thanks, Cas.’ She whispered back. They arrived on the first floor, and Castiel began talking again, breaking down their walk to the wedding.
‘We’re just walking down this hallway, over to that door up there. That’s not very far.’
‘It’s not.’ Becky sounded frightened.
‘And look, Charlie’s there, and your other friends-‘
‘Tanya and Ruthie.’
‘Yes. See, it’s just your friends, standing by the door we’re walking towards.’
Becky’s nails were beginning to bite into his hand, but Castiel said nothing about the pain she was causing. He knew it wouldn’t be wise. The bridesmaids began filtering through, into the room, and the wedding planner ushered them forward.
‘We’re just walking into this room. Sam’s in here. It’ll be fine.’
Becky nodded as though she was no longer listening. When Castiel stepped forward, her moves were robotic beside him. He concentrated on keeping his pacing, holding her as firmly as she clung to him, although she was almost piercing his skin with her nails now. He looked forward, focusing on Sam, on where they were meant to be going. Yes, he was aware of Dean standing beside him, watching their progress along the aisle, but Castiel couldn’t afford to look at his boyfriend. Not because Becky was in need of him at that point, but because he had promised Dean. Dean who still had trouble with some aspects of their relationship, like talking to people about its very existence. He had been assured that people would find out at some point during Sam and Becky’s wedding, but Castiel very much doubted it would be the case. And while that was okay, it did not make it easy to see his boyfriend standing right in front of him, completely untouchable. He made sure to focus on Becky, instead of Dean’s reticence.
‘We’re almost at Sam now, I’m going to leave you with him. Just repeat the words, and look at him.’
’Thanks, Castiel,’ she breathed, and let him lift her hand, placing it in Sam’s. He bent and gave Becky a small kiss on the cheek, and nodded at Sam, accidentally catching Dean’s eye in the process. Dean looked frustrated, and Castiel could only guess why. He assumed it was a mix of his own limitations, and Sam’s anxiety over the impending nuptials. The look was brief, before Dean looked to his brother, and Castiel stepped away, next to the line of girls in pink dresses.
He followed the ceremony closely, watching Sam and Becky as they stammered their way through the vows. Becky clung to Sam’s hand throughout, and Sam kept giving her reassuring looks, both of them missing the attempts of the minister to make jokes and settle their nerves. Or perhaps they had noticed, but were both ignoring the attempts due to their own anxiousness.
Halfway through, Castiel could feel the prickling sensation of someone looking at him, and turned his head to see Dean, his eyes burning with an intensity. Castiel knew that Dean was trying to communicate something, and he listened intently to the words the vicar was saying, the vows that Sam and Becky had agreed upon, his eyes still locked on his boyfriend’s. It was almost as though Dean was promising that all the vows existed for them also, regardless of the fact that would never be getting married themselves. And Castiel was trying to say back that it was true for him also, that Dean was his world.
Castiel heard the minister give the cue for Becky and Sam to kiss, and he wrenched his gaze from Dean in order to watch Sam stoop down, and bump his mouth against Becky’s, as the guests in the pews began to cheer. Sam wrapped Becky in his arms, and kissed her forehead, before they began walking away, past all the guests. Charlie threaded her arm through Castiel’s, and he forced himself to focus, to walk with her as they followed Sam and Becky. She pressed her head close to his.
‘Was Dean staring at you the entire time?’
‘Most of it. Was it really obvious?’
‘It was to me, but then, I know you’re together. Maybe everyone else just thought he was checking out one of Becky’s friends or something.’
Castiel nodded slowly. He knew that was a possible outcome of the day, that people would misinterpret Dean’s behaviour and then have no inhibitions about sharing their observations with Castiel. And he would swallow down the unintended hurt that came from the assumption, knowing that Dean would make it up to him when they could finally be together.
They walked into the next room along, which had been set up for official photographs, while the other guests went into the room opposite where the bar had been set up. The other bridesmaids immediately descended on Charlie and Castiel, full of the kind of overexcitement that Castiel found endearing in Becky, but slightly irritating in these two.
‘Oh my goodness, the best man,’ one of them grinned, pretending to fan herself. The other giggled behind her hands, as Charlie rolled her eyes.
‘I know! Why did Becky leave the attractive brother alone?’
Castiel hated the way the girls were discussing his boyfriend, but knew he couldn’t say a word. What was there to say? Charlie took charge, once again, and Castiel was grateful for it.
‘Yes, they’re brothers. And Becky loves Sam, so I guess to her, he’s the most attractive brother.’
The other girls weren’t deterred by Charlie’s obstinance.
‘I’m calling dibs. He’s mine. I think I’m next to him at dinner as well,’ the girl talking - Castiel couldn’t keep their names straight - looked smug as she made the announcement. The other girl looked annoyed.
‘So? I’m going to work on him and-‘
‘He’s with someone,’ Charlie sounded irritated. She folded her arms and scowled at the other bridesmaids, as the photographer began taking pictures of Becky and Sam. ‘He wouldn’t even look at the two of you.’
‘And you would know how?’ One of them snorted.
‘He’s my best friend. And trust me, he’s never going to go there.’
‘The other best friend,’ Castiel muttered before he could help himself. He knew that Charlie was being supportive, and that perhaps it wasn’t wise at that moment in time, but he hoped that Charlie understood the joke. It had been a few months before, when they had seen Charlie. Somehow the conversation had turned to Dean’s best friend, as it stood right then.
‘I’m the best friend, you know,’ Charlie had grinned, punching Castiel playfully on the arm. Dean hadn’t even looked up from his coffee.
‘Nope. Cas is my best friend.’
‘Cas is your boyfriend.’ Charlie pointed out. Dean shrugged.
‘Boy can be both.’
Castiel had preened, as Charlie built herself up to argue with Dean. He looked up from his mug before she could snark at him.
‘You’re my other best friend, Char.’
‘Don’t strain yourself, Winchester.’
‘Come on, you’re like my sister. And Cas is … Cas.’
Charlie had surveyed Castiel warily then, and Castiel had done his best not to gloat.
‘You’re my other best friend too.’
She sighed, and raised her hands in defeat.
‘Fine, I get it, you have couple vision.’ She rubbed her hands on her thighs, and then looked at Castiel, like a second thought. ‘You’re the other one, too.’
Luckily, it seemed that Charlie understood how Castiel was thinking.
‘You’re the other best friend,’ she snarked back, grinning widely. It was as though she was glad that Castiel was taking away the serious edge of the conversation. Or else she was relieved that Castiel wasn’t going to be insulted by these two women and their designs on his boyfriend. The girls were called forward for a photograph, and Charlie punched Castiel’s arm as she passed. He risked a glance over to Dean, who looked bored and frustrated once again. He knew that his boyfriend was probably disliking the photograph section, and the waiting around until he could go to the bar, but equally, Castiel wondered if one of the bridesmaids had already said something to the hunter to make his mood sour. He knew he wouldn’t find out, not during the wedding, at least.
He was called forward before he could dwell any more on Dean’s demeanour, and he worked to smile happily for the camera, for Becky and Sam.
When the photo session had finally ended, they were allowed into the room with the bar for the rest of the cocktail hour. Dean had walked from the room as soon as they were dismissed, and Castiel found himself caught up with the bridesmaids once again, who were now plotting the best way they could get Dean alone. He found himself most annoyed by the fact that they hadn’t even bothered to learn Dean’s name, and kept referring to his as the Best Man. There was something in the lecherous way they said it that made Castiel believe they were inferring something sexual. He already questioned Dean’s temptation to women, as he kept finding copies of Busty Asian Beauties scattered around the bunker. He knew he wasn’t supposed to know about them, and he always left them in the odd places he found them in, but it did shake his confidence somewhat whenever he came across one. And though Dean was adamant that he was content in their relationship, it did concern Castiel that in this situation, when only a handful of people knew the truth, Dean might be led astray by women who seemed intent on relations with him.
It was with some relief that, once they were in the room with the bar, Castiel was flagged down by Kevin, who was sitting at a table with another man and looking well rested, for once.
‘Hey Cas! I didn’t know you knew Sam’s new wife.’
Castiel parted from the two bridesmaids, and joined the prophet and his friend at their table, accepting a glass of champagne that one of the bar staff offered. He explained quickly to Kevin how he knew Becky, before Kevin’s friend cut into the conversation.
‘So like, you’re Castiel? The angel Dean talks about all the time? The one that saved him from Hell?’
His eyes were sparkling, and Castiel wondered if he was about to fall into a trap. He forced out the same line that he and Charlie had fed the bridesmaids.
‘Yes, Dean’s my best friend.’
‘He’s a cool guy,’ the friend nodded. ‘When he doesn’t have a stick up his ass. I’m Garth, by the way.’
‘Dean feels that he has a lot of responsibility. You must be aware of that.’
Garth nodded again, and Castiel was quick to steer the topic away from Dean. He looked at Kevin.
‘How are you doing with translating the tablet?’
‘It’s slow and I hate it, but I’m slowly getting there.’ Kevin drank from his own glass, which he had managed to grab despite being underage. ‘Hey, did I hear right that you don’t have a grace anymore?’
‘Where did you hear that?’
‘Please, Cas, I hear snatches of the angel’s conversations. I don’t know any details, I just heard that they’d removed it. Is it true?’
‘Yes. I made a decision a year ago that they didn’t approve of. And I stand by my decision.’
Kevin nodded, and someone across the room tapped a glass with a knife, and then announced that dinner was ready. Kevin jumped up, and led their way into the room next door, where the tables were set for their meal as Garth wondered off. They approached the table plan that Castiel knew Becky had agonised over, and he was glad to see that he would be sandwiched between Becky’s mother and Charlie. He was less pleased to see that Dean had been placed next to one of the bridesmaids. He happily sat down, and was immediately accosted by Becky’s mother and every passing thought that she had during the ceremony. Castiel did his best to respond, and reassure her that Becky did look lovely, and radiant, and that Sam was a great guy, and all the other platitudes that she seemed intent on hearing.
Luckily, even Becky’s mother seemed unable to talk when the food arrived, and Charlie garnered his attention, whispering about the other guests. She was either pointing out the hunters that she knew, or else commenting on this cute hat, that gorgeous dress, and Castiel was grateful for her distraction, until it was time for speeches.
Becky’s father was first, welcoming Sam into the family and thanking Castiel for stepping in his place, explaining to those present what Castiel already knew; that he was unable to walk with Becky and Castiel had happily agreed to help out. And then he talked about how beautiful Becky was, and how proud he was of her, and Castiel grinned at Charlie as though he was saying it himself. She smiled around the rim of her glass, before they both joined in the toast that Mr Rosen started. And then Sam stood up, looking flustered yet happy.
‘Hi-hello everyone. Um, thanks for coming. So, yeah,’ he cleared his throat, and Castiel could almost feel Sam’s discomfort. He wasn’t used to making speeches, particularly about his own emotions, and Castiel could relate to him well. ‘I’m um, I’m not good at speeches. Or talking about feelings. My brother and me, we don’t really do either. Never really have. Um, but even though that’s the case, my brother - and my dad, but mainly my brother - they accidentally taught me a lot about love. Sorry Dean.’
There was a pause for laughter, and Castiel was listening intently.
‘See, Dean always put me first. Even when Dad would go away for long stretches at a time, even when he left us with people like his friend Bobby. I always knew Dean was in charge, and Dean was watching out for me. He put a lot on hold for me, went without just to give me what I needed. And Dad worked hard to protect me, to keep me safe from all the things that scared him. We weren’t a typical family, but that’s okay, because I know that they did their best. And even now, without meaning to, my brother shows me everything I need to know about love. Because Dean cares about a lot of things, and he feels things pretty deeply, and when I see him with the person he loves, I know I should aim for something like them. The way they can understand each other without words, and the way they put each other first without thinking. The way that they can be in the same room and just gravitate to each other like they’re not real unless they’re together.’
Castiel had never thought Sam saw it that way. He would still walk into a room and roll his eyes if they happened to be even sitting next to each other on the bed. He had thought Sam was still a little reticent about Castiel’s intentions. Could it purely be that Sam was just exasperated by how in love they were?
’Then Becky came back into my life - we’d met a few times before - and somehow, it started to feel a little bit like what I had watched with my brother. I wanted to take care of her, and protect her, and put her first. And when we talked, it felt like we understood each other. Maybe we weren’t at the same place as my brother, but I could see the beginning of something similar. And now we’re married, I promise you, Becky, that I’m always going to look out for you, and put you first, and be by your side whenever I can. And if I can do all that without thinking about it, then I’ll be a pretty good husband, I hope.’
He smiled at Becky, and everyone else took it as a cue to toast them again. Sam sat back in his seat and kissed Becky with more confidence than he’d shown in the ceremony. Castiel watched them, grinning and still processing exactly what Sam had said not only about the state of his relationship, but about the way his boyfriend was.
It was Dean’s turn to stand, and give a speech, and Castiel focused his attention on the table setting in front of him, trying to hide his face so that the other guests could not see him mouthing along to the words he had heard several times in the past week alone. He knew the speech better than the hunter did, and he was afraid that this would indicate to everyone else just who Dean’s partner was. It wouldn’t have been fair to do, to reveal that part of Dean when he clearly wasn’t ready. It hadn’t passed Castiel by either, that Sam had chosen his words carefully, talking only about his brother’s feelings and not even indicating a gender. He wished there was some way he could express his gratitude to the younger Winchester, thanking him also for the kind words he had said in the speech. It wouldn’t be possible during the wedding, or afterwards when Sam and Becky went on honeymoon, but maybe when they returned he would think of something appropriate.
Charlie nudged Castiel halfway through Dean talking, and whispered as quietly as she could, trying to keep the conversation between the two of them.
‘He’s doing good,’ she whispered.
‘He cut some of it out,’ Castiel responded. ’Some joke about going back to a mystery spot that I don’t quite understand still.’
‘I don’t get it either. Maybe that’s why he cut it?’
‘I don’t know. He said it was some reference to them being married again.’
Charlie nudged him again, and sat up straight, as though they’d been caught not paying attention. Dean hadn’t noticed, but it seemed some of the other guests had. Castiel refocused on the garish pink flower arrangement once more, listening as Dean wrapped up his speech with something close to being sentimental about not having his brother there every day. Castiel smiled faintly as he remembered Dean’s panic about reading it out.
‘It’s fine, Dean.’
‘It’s not. I sound totally whipped.’
‘Dean, your brother’s getting married. Sure you can make some jokes about him growing up and his need for healthy food, and even the first time he met Becky. But you probably need some nice stuff in there. You’re the Best Man, after all.’
‘Fine. But anyone tells me how much it sucks, I’m saying you wrote it. And I lost a bet.’
Castiel had ignored Dean’s bluster, which was thankfully missing during his speech. When he finally took a seat, Becky’s cousin stood up and asked everyone to move back over into the other room, ready for Sam and Becky’s first dance. Castiel didn’t need to ask what he could possibly mean, Becky had spent a lot of time going over the basics of a wedding, and what she and Sam were hoping to have happen. He knew the first dance had a lot of meaning, and Becky had agonised over just the right song to play. Sam stood, holding his hand out for Becky, and they left the room together, in the middle of the huddle of people. Charlie held Castiel’s hand.
‘Hey goofball, wanna dance with me? When we’re allowed to interrupt the happy couple, anyway? I don’t think Dean would dance.’
Charlie had, in Castiel’s opinion, guessed correctly. Fourteen months into their relationship and Dean hadn’t even tried to pick a song that could be their song. Every now and again, Castiel would bring the topic up, but Dean would shrug it off, citing that it wasn’t important. And when Charlie and Becky had taken it upon themselves to teach Castiel a few dance moves in time for the wedding, they had enjoyed themselves until the brothers had walked into the room. Sam had watched for a moment, before heading for Becky and joining in, but Dean remained by the wall, laughing as Charlie pulled Castiel around.
Castiel bent closer to Charlie, trying to get more privacy.
‘Well, no one knows about us, so I don’t think Dean would try to dance with me, even if he was willing.’
‘I meant with me, you ass!’ Charlie grinned, and stood holding Castiel’s hand while they watched Sam and Becky dance to a slow song. Castiel scanned the other guests as discreetly as he could, and saw Dean at the bar once more, his back to Sam and Becky’s dance as he ordered his beer. It broke his heart to see him like that, but what could Castiel do? He could try to make Dean feel better, but then he wouldn’t want to leave him alone for the rest of the night, and he didn’t want to upset the hunter by forcing the issue. He forced himself to look away, at Charlie, and smiled as enthusiastically as he could at her. Dean was probably focused on the bar, and the beer, in order to stop himself looking at Castiel.
‘Come on, we can go now,’ Charlie whispered, and dragged Castiel onto the dance floor, resting her wrists either side of his neck as he held her waist tentatively. They swayed together to the music.
‘Is he okay?’ Castiel whispered.
‘Yeah, he’s just had a couple of shots of something, and now he’s got a beer. I thought he was telling people?’
Castiel forced himself to sound cheerful.
‘I know he wanted to, but it’s far too hard for him.’
‘But this is hard for you, huh?’
‘I think this is still hard for him as well. It’s up to him what happens, but I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t speak to me until we’re in our room tonight.’
Charlie looked like she wanted to yell on his behalf, and he pulled her closer, lowering his voice as much as he could over the music.
‘Please, Charlie. I’m thinking of Dean. He really wouldn’t appreciate it.’
Charlie nodded, and cuddled closer to Castiel, and they continued swaying together until the song ended. She then made a gesture that she was heading to the bar, and Castiel walked off of the dance floor, and over to Kevin and Garth, who had resumed their positions on the table they had vacated for the dinner. He grabbed the cocktail menu and cast an eye over it, trying to decide on a drink, as Garth started talking.
’So Castiel, you know Dean, right?’
‘We’re best friends,’ Castiel reminded him patiently, as he pored over the choices. He didn’t know why Dean insisted on beer when cocktails existed. They had lots more alcohol in, and tasted so much better.
‘So, who’s this chick? “The One?” Sam seems to know her.’
Castiel looked up into Garth’s rubbery face, trying to understand what Garth was truly asking.
’There are farmyard animals?’
‘Dean’s girlfriend. I think it’s that bridesmaid, she was all over him at dinner.’ Kevin stuck in. Castiel fought the urge to wince. He wished Kevin had never noticed the girl’s behaviour.
‘I’m sure if Dean wanted you to know, you would know.’
‘It’s not the bridesmaid? Who is it?’ Kevin looked excited, and Garth laughed.
‘How did you get that from what he said?’
‘You learn to speak Cas.’ Kevin assured him. ‘What was it Dean told you about her earlier?’
‘Dark hair, blue eyes, and tall. That’s all he gave me. And I think Sam’s lying, Dean’s been alone like, the whole time. Didn’t he say in his speech that they don’t leave each other alone?’
Kevin glanced over to the bar.
‘Well, he looks miserable, so maybe he needs her around. And there’s no one that matches that description.’
Castiel didn’t know what to say. Dean had given the basics, the very basics, of what he looked like, he hadn’t lied. But Kevin and Garth were going to overlook him completely while they were appraising the female guests.
‘Maybe she wasn’t invited.’ Garth sighed.
‘Dean said she was here,’ Kevin pointed out. ‘Cas, is she here?’
Castiel cast his gaze around the room as though he was looking for someone. He saw Sam at the bar with Dean, and Becky dancing with her friends. He looked back at Kevin and nodded slowly.
‘Yes, Dean’s partner is here.’
‘Okay, the fact you know, and you won’t tell us, is just plain rude!’ Garth complained. ‘I want to know who could possibly make Dean mellow.’
Castiel forced himself to give an answer that Dean would appreciate.
‘I don’t want to destroy Dean’s trust in me by revealing information that he’s asked to share himself. If he hasn’t told you yet, then maybe you’re asking the wrong questions, or putting too much pressure on him. He doesn’t react well to pressure, if you hadn’t noticed.’
He glared at Garth, who looked behind him and smirked.
‘Hey Dean. Cas was just telling us all about your girlfriend.’
Castiel looked around again slowly. Dean was standing there, holding a near-empty glass, looking between them all with no real expression on his face. He was so close, Castiel could easily reach over and curl his arm around Dean’s waist. He could look up, knowing Dean would bend down and kiss him. But it wasn’t possible, Castiel had made the promise to let Dean set the pace.
Dean responded to Garth blandly.
‘Yuh-huh. Pointed her out to us too, that blonde over there. She’s pretty, don’t know why you’re being so secretive about her.’ Garth had clearly gestured across the room. Dean didn’t move.
‘Cas? Can we talk a minute?’
Castiel blanched, worried about what Dean wanted to discuss. He had to know that Garth was lying in an attempt to get the truth out of him. Garth had said moments before how Dean had really described Castiel, and suddenly he was picking out a blonde woman … Dean led him into a corner nearby, just out of hearing distance. They finally made eye contact, and Castiel felt that familiar pull in his stomach. It was so hard not to just reach out and touch him, but somehow, Castiel managed. He felt he owed Dean an explanation for Garth’s behaviour.
‘Dean, I didn’t say a word-‘
‘I know, I know. Of course you didn’t, Garth thinks it’s some chick.’
Dean seemed more amiable than Castiel was expecting, and he relaxed a little. Not enough to throw himself at the hunter, but enough that he knew this discussion wasn’t going to end up as a row.
‘Then what did you want to talk about?’
‘Can’t I just talk to you?’
Castiel felt himself smile. Kevin may have been speaking earlier about “learning to talk Cas” but Castiel was well versed in the language of Dean. To anyone else, it may have sounded as though Dean was spoiling for a fight, but the ex-angel heard the words he really meant.
‘I’ve missed you too,’ he whispered, then realised those words alone could have been an error. If someone was listening in, what would they think? He cast a look over his shoulder, and saw Kevin watching them with a furrowed brow, as Garth chattered away to an older woman with a pixie cut hair. Castiel noted that she also had dark hair, and he hoped that Garth hadn’t assumed that she was Dean’s partner. He turned back to his entire reason for existence.
‘I’m sorry, Cas. Believe me, I want to just tell people. Jody worked it out and she said we should just be us, to hell with everyone else, but-‘
‘It’s okay. I’m not going to pressurise you, Dean.’ Castiel had no idea who Jody was, beyond someone Dean had mentioned a handful of times. But he seemed to value her opinion, and Castiel liked her advice. It made sense to him, given how Dean was, but he also understood why Dean would even find that difficult. He felt he had to assure his boyfriend that he wasn’t expecting anything during the wedding. ‘I’m looking forward to going home, making up for lost time.’
Dean only looked mildly relieved. He tapped the near-empty glass with two fingertips.
‘I want people to know.’
Castiel nodded, and did his best to remain compassionate but slightly distanced. It was so hard not to step forward, removing the distance between them, showing Dean how much he truly loved him. This was why they had avoided each other the entire wedding.
‘Take your time. And whatever you decide to do, I’ll do what I can to help.’
‘Thanks.’ Dean nodded, his shoulders slumping in relief.
‘It’s what I’m here for. Did you want another beer?’
Castiel gestured at the glass. Dean looked down at it for a moment, almost surprised that it was still in his hand, then back at Castiel, his expression guarded once more.
‘I’ll go get it.’
Castiel could accept that they couldn’t act romantic with each other, that he had to pretend Dean was in love with some female. But he wanted to do something for his boyfriend, some small gesture. He knew Dean would never concede unless he made it seem selfish in some way.
‘It’s fine, I’ll get it, I want to look at the cocktail menu again.’
He held his hand out for the glass expectantly, not allowing Dean the chance to refuse. The hunter automatically handed the glass over, but as his fingers grazed Castiel’s, he lurched forward, and fell on the ex-angel. Castiel’s eyes bulged open as their lips met, and something carnal exploded in both of them. Castiel couldn’t fight it any more, not when Dean was kissing them, even with all the things they had said. He felt the hunter grip the back of his neck, and he melted against the man he loved, unable to hold back. They moved together, the familiarity of each other’s lips and tongues dictating the ferocity of the kiss. It had been more than twenty-four hours since they had last kissed, but Castiel felt it had been much longer.
And then sense caught up to him, as he heard a voice, that sounded an awful lot like Kevin behind him.
‘What?’ Castiel heard Garth ask.
‘Dean’s chick? Not a chick.’
It was all Castiel needed to overhear. He forced himself to break away, and look at Dean, to assess what his boyfriend wanted to do. Dean looked more frustrated than ever, his focus on Castiel’s mouth.
‘I’m coming with you to the bar.’ Dean broke the silence. Castiel nodded, and Dean fell on him again. There was a chance that Dean hadn’t heard Kevin and Garth’s conversation behind them, if his attention was anything to go by. Or else he had heard and decided to just go with it, and let people know the way that Jody had suggested. Castiel was fully prepared to take his cues from Dean on how they went forward. When Dean indicated that he didn’t want to kiss any further, Castiel let him go, and followed him as Dean tugged him to the bar. He put the used glass on the table, and scooped the cocktail menu up as Dean pulled him closer, so that he leaned against the hunter. He tried to be casual about the situation.
‘Have you ever tried a Long Island Iced Tea?’
‘Nope. I need something stronger.’
Castiel returned the menu, and put his free hand on Dean’s shoulder, wishing there was some other way he could reassure him. He racked his brain for something that could be comforting.
‘It’ll be okay, Dean. Remember what Becky said? Anyone who has a problem with it, she’ll have removed.’
Dean squeezed the hand he still held, and Castiel knew he was at least acknowledging the effort, even if he didn’t quite believe that Becky would have the strength of character to evict someone from her wedding. The bartender interrupted them at that moment, and Castiel ordered their drinks, hopeful that if Dean had enough hard liquor inside him then he might begin to lighten up, to stop worrying so much. He looked across the room again as the bartender went to pour Dean’s whiskey and mix his iced tea, and saw Garth, Kevin, and the older lady watching them intently. Kevin looked confused still, but the woman was grinning widely, and Garth was smirking too. Castiel felt compelled to inform Dean.
‘Garth and Kevin are watching us.’
‘Figured they might.’ Dean grunted back.
‘You’re going to have to talk to them some time.’
Castiel tried to say it softly, to remind him that the conversation would come up, but he was worried that Dean would feel baited.
‘You know what I wanna do? I wanna drink this, and then I wanna dance with you.’
Castiel could hardly believe his ears. Dean, who wouldn’t dance with him and Charlie in the safety of the bunker, wanted to dance with him in a crowd of Becky’s friends and families, in front of other hunters? He gave a hesitant smile, unable to process that Dean would be genuine. Even if Dean was nothing but genuine with him.
‘You want to dance?’ He repeated.
‘Sure, why not?’
He sounded so casual, as if there was nothing to be surprised about. As though he danced all the time. Castiel had his suspicions that Dean was picking the lesser of two evils, and that by dancing with Castiel he could avoid anything obnoxious that Garth could potentially say, but the situation worked in his favour so he did nothing to point out his boyfriend’s behaviour. Instead he smiled widely, and kissed Dean in gratitude. Dean kissed him back readily enough, and he knew that he hadn’t overstepped the mark. They had a few happy moments of focusing only on each other, before someone close by cleared their throat, and Castiel peeled himself away. He expected a lecture from Sam, but it was the bartender, standing there with two drinks in front of him. Castiel hastily pulled some money from his pocket and handed it over, then picked up the taller glass, noting that his drink looked practically the same colour as Deans. He sucked on the straw, testing the flavour as Dean scooped up his drink, and someone pushed their way in between them. Charlie.
‘Hey guys. So, you’re finally out?’
She sounded happy as she spoke, and Castiel tried not to feel too disgruntled about her wedging her way between himself and Dean. He responded pleasantly enough.
Dean groaned, and gulped down some of his whiskey. Charlie rolled her eyes and nodded back to Dean, as though she was silently reprimanding him, before entertaining Castiel.
‘Yeah. You know, people will be like “oh hey, that’s Dean’s boyfriend, he’s coming out of the closet.” So you’re out.’
‘It’s an expression.’
‘Like when you say, “hey bitches” as a greeting?’
‘Sure, we’ll go with that. Anyway, people are going to tell you you’re out now.’
Castiel was still unsure what it was that Charlie meant, but he smiled weakly, and then walked around her, needing to be close to Dean. He’d gone too long without the hunter, without their contact. He just needed to hold his boyfriend.
‘We’re just us.’
Charlie rolled her eyes at him this time, and Castiel cuddled closer to Dean as though to prove his point. He nuzzled by Dean’s ear and whispered.
‘Do you wanna go dance now?’
Dean didn’t even answer, but tipped his head back and drained his glass, slamming it onto the table as he stood up. Castiel understood the cue and drained his own glass before smiling at Charlie. She shook her head at him as though he was entirely predictable, then threw them a curve ball.
’See you guys later. I’m going to find my date.’
Castiel led Dean onto the dance floor before he could change his mind, remembering all the tips that the girls had given him. He caught Dean’s eye as he gave a little shimmer and saw the hunter fighting a smile as he tried to get into the rhythm. He knew then that everything was going to be fine. And if there was any problems, they had a hotel room to go back to. He leaned in close, trying to talk to Dean over the music.
‘I didn’t know Charlie had a date.’
‘Me either. But it’s Charlie, that girl could score anywhere.’
Castiel looked through the other bodies dancing, trying to spot Charlie and her date. Dean moved closer, holding Castiel the way the ex-angel had imagined holding him earlier, his arms tight around Castiel’s waist. Castiel smiled, and then noticed Charlie, embracing someone who looked an awful lot like Meg, although this woman had blonde hair.
‘I found her. I wasn’t expecting that.’
Dean turned to look, as Castiel realised that it was Meg. And that Dean was still terse about the subject. He felt the pull as Dean tried to step away, towards the two girls, and he did his best to cling on to his boyfriend, to make them remain on the dance floor.
‘Dean, leave it.’
Dean stopped pulling, but still glared in Meg’s direction. Castiel hoped that Dean would rationalise the situation as Meg was with Charlie, so she was clearly unwilling to continue attempting to disrupt their relationship.
‘You’re right. The room’s full of hunters, it just takes one to work out there’s a freaking demon around.’
It wasn’t the rationalisation that Castiel wanted, but he was grateful that Dean was agreeing not to hurt the demon that was his friend. He cupped the hunters chin and nudged him around so they could have eye contact.
‘Don’t go telling people. Sam and Becky would hate there being any issue.’
He knew that Sam and Becky would have hated any uproar about their own relationship, so he was confident that the same existed for Charlie and Meg. He found the idea of the two of them together as baffling as Dean did, but he didn’t want Dean distracted with thoughts of vengeance when they were finally able to be themselves. Thankfully, Dean seemed to pull himself together, to focus back on Castiel, and they began dancing together again. Dean visibly relaxed after a couple of songs played out, even smiling as Castiel wriggled his hips at him. They were left alone in their own small bubble of happiness, and Castiel was grateful for it, just for the way it allayed Dean’s fears.
As the song they were dancing to came to an end, Castiel noticed that there wasn’t another song starting up. He began to notice the noise of chatter around him, just as Charlie clambered up by the DJ and took the microphone, talking to the DJ as she smiled and nodded. Dean still held Castiel close as they watched her, waiting for whatever she had in store. Castiel wondered if Dean was in on it, and this was some surprise for Sam and Becky. He spotted them a few feet over, embracing also, Sam stooping down to listen as Becky talked in his ear.
‘Hey everyone, hi!’ Charlie caught Castiel’s attention again, as she spoke directly into the microphone. ‘Um, Sam and Becky and me, we’ve picked the next song. We wanted to dedicate it to the best man, so Dean, enjoy this one.’
Castiel wasn’t sure why they were dedicating a song to Dean. The music started, a slow, steady beat, and Castiel couldn’t understand the connection to Dean. It wasn’t loud and abrasive, fast and energetic like the music he enjoyed. Yet Dean started swaying with him, as the singer began the lyrics.
‘Why do you think they picked this song?’ He asked over the words. Dean leaned even closer, resting their foreheads against each other, holding Castiel firmly against him as they shuffled slowly together.
‘I don’t know. I don’t care.’
Castiel nodded, stopping quickly as he realised it might hurt Dean’s head. He tried to pay close attention to the words, to see what Dean’s brother, sister-in-law, and honorary sister might possibly be trying to say.
’So when I’m lying in my bed, thoughts running through my head, and I feel that love is dead. I’m loving angels instead.’
Castiel leaned away from his boyfriend, trying to process what he’d just heard, as the man crooned on. He blurted his thoughts out to Dean as he cocked his head, still listening hard.
‘Did he just sing about loving angels?’
‘And down the waterfall wherever it may take me, I know that life won’t break me when I come to call. She won’t forsake me. I’m loving angels instead.’
‘Yuh-huh.’ Dean agreed at the pinnacle moment.
‘Well, that’s inaccurate.’
Castiel was trying to play it cool, but inside, he was bubbling over. He wanted to say how much this song felt perfect for them, because Dean had given up on so much for his own life before they got together and it now felt like Dean was altogether much happier just because of their relationship.
‘People still call you my angel,’ Dean shrugged. ‘I guess that’s what they were going for.’
Castiel sighed, glad that Dean was feeling the same way, whether he expressed that or not. He carried on listening to the words of the song, cuddling close in to Dean, his head finding that comfortable spot between jaw and collarbone, their arms tight around each other. They carried on swaying as the singer told of being in pain, and looking to the heavens for reassurance that he would be okay, just from the love of his angel. It was the kindest thing that Charlie, Becky and Sam could have done for them. As the music continued and the singer took a pause, Dean began talking.
’So, weddings aren’t too bad.’
‘I’ve enjoyed myself. Sam and Becky are very happy together.’ Castiel answered back, stroking Dean’s arm tenderly.
‘Yeah. So are we.’
Castiel straightened up, looking into Dean’s eyes and smiling widely. He wanted to call the moment - their relationship, all of it - perfect, but he still worried about placing too much pressure on the hunter. Instead, he went with a compromise.
‘Of course we are.’
Dean gave a very brief, tight smile in response. Before Castiel could begin to understand his discomfort, he spoke again.
‘Maybe we should do this.’
Castiel’s smile was fixed in place, as he tried to understand what it was that Dean wanted to do. Dance together? Love angels? Dean shrugged, which only made his discomfort more obvious to Castiel.
‘I mean, maybe we should get married.’
Castiel had to work to keep his smile in place. Dean hadn’t … he’d misheard, hadn’t he? Or else, the hunter had drunk far more than he’d realised and this was the sounds of the rarely-spotted drunken Dean. Or it was a throwaway comment because of the song, and the dancing, and that no one had tried to burn them at the stake or whatever it was humans did to homosexual men these days. Dean reached into his pocket, and produced a small box, flipping the lid open and revealing a thick silver band.
‘Castiel? Will you marry me?’
He was dreaming. Or back in that coma where Dean had been his husband. Or this was some strange bet he had with Sam. And was Becky really going to be okay with Dean proposing, whether he meant it or not, at her wedding?
But oh, to marry Dean! It was frightening how much Castiel found he wanted it. To eradicate all the doubt that even one copy of Busty Asian Beauties could instil in him. To know that he and the hunter were truly bonded, in the eyes of every human they met. To be introduced as a husband, instead of a friend, for people to work out the truth later … he became aware of Dean’s intense stare, pulling him back to reality. And reality was- was- had Dean really proposed?
Dean winced, but when he spoke his voice was steady, and the words were clear. If only Castiel could really work them out.
‘Will you marry me?’
It definitely sounded like a proposal. It felt very real. Castiel tore his eyes away from the hunter’s face, and glanced down at the dainty box that Dean was clutching so tightly, his fingertips were turning white. The ring secured in the lining was silver, and burnished slightly. There was no coffee order engraved on it, which made it seem even more real. He tried to cling on to some kind of reason.
‘It wasn’t an option-‘
‘It’s an option now.’ Dean cut him off tersely, but Castiel wasn’t offended. How could he be? Dean was proposing. Legitimately proposing. He looked up at his boyfriend’s face, just long enough to see the tense expression on it, before looking back at the ring. It seemed familiar, even if it wasn’t the ring from the siren-induced fantasy, but Castiel wasn’t sure where he’d seen it before.
‘Cas? You can say yes any time you like.’
Castiel couldn’t help but smile at Dean’s impatience, his focus still on the ring. He tried to come up with something to say, some hastily worded response that let Dean know just how much he meant, how flattering the proposal was, and how Castiel just wanted him, however that was possible. A simple yes seemed so inadequate. He couldn’t believe that Dean was proposing, after all the agony of avoiding each other so that people wouldn’t know they were a couple! This must have been why Dean was so adamant that people knew. The song must have been chosen just for this moment. Becky and Sam must have been consulted, to check it was okay. He finally looked back at Dean.
‘You want to marry me?’ He broke the silence between them. Dean looked as though he was about to have a heart attack from the suspense.
’Standing here with a ring, asking you. Yeah, I want to marry you.’
There was another beat as Castiel took in Dean’s strained expression, the hope and the fear of rebuff evident in his mossy green eyes. He licked his lips, a sure sign that he was more nervous than he could ever convey to Castiel.
‘I didn’t think you wanted to.’
Castiel still felt cautious. It still seemed too good to be true.
‘Sam and me, we’ve been talking about it lately. It makes sense.’
He’d been consulting Sam about potentially getting engaged? Sam had managed to keep that particularly quiet. As had Becky, Castiel was in no doubt that she knew exactly what the brothers had been planning. Castiel wanted to make sure Dean knew exactly what he was offering.
‘It’s a big commitment.’ He reminded the hunter. Dean didn’t miss a beat.
‘Maybe, but I said yes to you a long time ago now. It’ll be like having a party for a promise we made ages ago.’
Castiel nodded slowly, appreciating Dean’s logic. It was really happening, they were really getting engaged.
‘So? Are you going to answer ever?’
Castiel smiled warmly, savouring the moment as long as he could.
‘I said yes ages ago too.’
‘So … yes?’ Dean pressed, still not understanding that there was no doubt in Castiel’s mind what the answer would be. Castiel laughed, caressing Dean’s jawline and massaging his fingers into the bristles of hair near his neck. His future husband’s neck.
‘Yes, Dean. I’ll marry you.’
Dean pounced, kissing him ferociously as his pent up tension dissipated, and Castiel found himself laughing, pulling away to talk to his fiancé.
‘Are you going to put that ring on my finger?’
Dean kissed him once more, a lingering kiss that was gentler than the last. Then he removed the ring from the box, grabbed Castiel’s left hand, and slid the ring on. Castiel looked at the old silver ring on his finger, the part of Dean that already looked very much at home on his own body, and realised that whatever ring Dean had chosen was of sentimental value. He was afraid to ask who it had once belonged to, but he knew it was someone important. And Castiel felt important to Dean, wearing it. They looked at each other, and Dean was smiling as hard as Castiel imagined he himself was.
‘I can’t believe … did you really …’
Castiel spluttered, and Dean pulled him back for another kiss. Castiel could see the rest of the night turning out the same way, with Dean kissing him every time he needed to be reminded of their new reality. And of the girls demanding to see the ring, congratulating them. Sam and Dean merely nodding at each other, already knowing the other’s views on the impending union. He hoped Becky didn’t feel overshadowed by the proposal, although he knew that it was only a big deal to him and Dean, really. It had been done in their own little bubble, the other guests most likely weren’t aware that Castiel’s world had been turned upside down, or right way around. But he knew, and Dean knew, and that was all that truly mattered. Castiel and Dean, together.
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