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Sincerely, Castiel Novak

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Castiel Novak sighed as he put his head down on his desk. He loved his job, and he loved the flexibility it gave him to spend time with his kids, but some days he wanted to tear his hair out. If he had to read one more goddamn book about another animal eating a baked good, or about a bunny that ran away from home, he was going to scream. This was the exact reason why he didn’t become a children’s librarian and went into publishing instead. Castiel was originally one of the chief editors for the romance division, specializing in erotic romances, but once the twins had learned how to read, and Claire asked what a fish pussy was after reading it on Cas’ computer one night, he’d asked for a transfer and the only open editor position was in children’s literature.

Months later, the Children’s division of the publishing house was buzzing with excitement. They had just acquired one of the most talked about up-and-coming children's authors. Celeste Middleton had self-published her first book and it was already in its third printing. It was called “Missy Makes a New Friend” and taught children about inclusivity and that being different wasn’t a bad thing. It was one of Jack’s favorite books and Castiel knew it by heart, so when he heard that Anna had signed Ms. Middleton, he was over the moon. The meeting with Ms. Middleton was scheduled for two, and normally as an editor, Castiel wouldn’t have been included. But Anna had a soft spot for Castiel and knew how much he and the twins loved Ms. Middleton’s first book and had invited him to sit in on the meeting.

Castiel shifted uneasily in his seat at the large conference table. It seemed overly formal for a meeting with an author whose main character was a hedgehog named Missy. The other big wigs entered the room, including Chuck Shurley himself. Castiel hadn’t even been sure if Mr. Shurley knew that his publishing company had a Children’s division. Anna sat down next to Castiel and placed her hands reassuringly over his. “You belong here,” her hands seemed to say.

They sat in uncomfortable silence as time ticked by. The clock struck two and Ms. Middleton was nowhere to be seen. At five past, Anna rushed out of the room whisper-yelling into her phone, presumably trying to track down Ms. Middleton. Then, at fifteen past the hour, the silence was shattered like a pane of glass by a loud “But YOU don’t understand, I HAVE to get in there!”

Suddenly a blur of bright red hair tumbled into the conference room and slammed into the table, papers flying across the table.

“Oof! Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry I’m late, I–I, well I had this idea and I couldn’t just not write it down and then when I looked at the clock, I—-” The person paused, took a breath and flipped her hair back to reveal a bright face with hazel eyes and just a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose.

“Gentleman,” Anna cleared her throat and addressed the room. To anyone else, it would seem as if she did it to get the attention of the room, but Castiel knew that she was choking back a laugh. “Please welcome Celeste Middleton, our newest children’s author, to the Edlund Carver Glynn Publishing House family.”

Castiel’s jaw dropped as he fully took in the woman standing at the end of the table. Not only was she Celeste Middleton the author of his son’s favorite book, but she was also Charlie Bradbury, his best friend from college, someone who he had lost touch with after…well after his entire life had been ripped apart.

 

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Castiel picked at the label on his beer bottle. He rarely drank, but given the current situation, it seemed appropriate. The only reason Castiel had chosen this place was that it was the closest place that served alcohol and right now, he needed alcohol. A lot of alcohol. He and Charlie had been sitting in the dingy sports bar for twenty minutes and neither one had said a word to the other.

 

“Cas.”

 

“Charlie, I–” The use of his nickname made Castiel’s heartache. Only two people in his life had ever called him that, and Charlie had been one of them.

 

“So you’re some fancy publisher now, huh?” Charlie said, trying to break the uncomfortable tension that sat between them. It had been over a decade since he had last seen Charlie, and that was not a memory Castiel wished to relive. Ever.

“No,” Castiel shook his head in answer to Charlie’s question. “I’m just an editor. I–Anna let me sit in on the meeting today because…” Castiel paused. He couldn’t tell Charlie the real reason Anna let him into the meeting, not yet. But thankfully Charlie cut him off.

 

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“I gotta admit, you were the last person I was expecting to see when I walked into that meeting. Children’s literature, Cas? Really? I thought you hated kids?”

 

“I don’t–I never said I hated kids. I just–I never understood them.” Castiel took a swig of his beer, trying to wash down the shame of how he used to feel about kids. “My niece and nephew–they love your book. They make me read it every n–time I visit.”

 

Charlie nearly spat out her beer. “Don’t tell me Gabe had kids?”

 

“No, God, no,” Castiel chuckled. That was a truly ridiculous thought. “Jimmy, my other brother had twins. Claire and Jack, They’re five.”

 

“Oh, right. I always forgot you had a twin brother, you never really talked about him.”

 

“Jimmy stopped talking to me after I came out, so why would I talk about him?”

 

“But you just said that you read my book to your niece and nephew every time you visit them,” Charlie’s eyes narrowed “Castiel, what aren’t you telling me?”

 

Dammit. It may have been over ten years since he’s talked to Charlie, but damn if she didn’t still have a preternatural ability to see through his lies.

 

Granted he wasn’t exactly the best liar, but still. He knew it was better for everyone involved if he just told her the truth.

“I’m not just Jack and Claire’s uncle, I’m–I’m also their legal guardian. My brother and his wife were killed by a drunk driver about two years ago and I was granted guardianship when they were three years old. I was suddenly a single father and shortly after that I transferred to children’s literature.”

“Shit, Cas. I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re doing an amazing job raising them.” Charlie’s hand reached across the table to cover Castiel’s. At that moment Castiel ached for the friendship they’d had in college. The friendship that had ended as explosively as it started.

“So–” The words caught in Castiel’s throat. He had avoided mentioning him, but he hoped that Charlie was still in contact with him, she had to be. “So, do you still talk to him?” Castiel eked out.

A small smile crept across Charlie’s lips. “I wondered how long it would take you to ask me about him.” She glanced at her watch. “Huh, looks like Jo owes me twenty bucks. She thought you wouldn’t last more than an hour. He’s—” Charlie paused and Castiel’s brain started frantically finishing Charlie’s sentence.

 

He’s happily married with 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence. He hasn’t thought about you since that day.

 

He’s a miserable wreck, he hasn’t been able to hold down a job in years and his diet consists of a bottle of Jack a day.

 

Or, and maybe even worse—

 

I don’t know, he pushed me away too, I haven’t heard from him in years.

 

“He’s been through a lot in the last few years, Cas. But it sounds like you have, too. I know the two of you didn’t end things on the best of terms and I don’t know exactly what happened, but I think you two might have more in common now than you’d realize.”

“I–Charlie, I—”

“Cas, you still…Oh my god. You still love him, don’t you?”

 

Cas couldn’t say it. It was stupid. It was the reason all of his attempts at a real relationship had failed. It was insane, but it was the truth. Castiel still loved him. Castiel had never stopped loving him: after all these years, he still loved him.

Charlie’s hands cupped his cheeks, her hands now bracketing his face. She leaned across the table and placed a kiss on Castiel’s forehead.

“I wasn’t going to—I– god.” Charlie pulled her hands away and ran them through her hair, a nervous twitch that reminded Cas of him.

“I just–I just want to talk to him. Is that–could you help me with that? Please?”

“I–Look, I can’t just give out his address or phone number…” Charlie’s response sent Castiel reeling. That was something you said to a stranger. But that was what Castiel had become to both of them, hadn’t he?

“What if I write him a letter? Would you make sure he gets it?” Castiel pleaded. He needed to say all of the things that he had wanted to say over the past decade. Even if he never received a response, Castiel needed to get the words out.

“Yeah, I can do that, Cas. Of course. I can’t promise much, but I can make sure he gets it.” Charlie’s eyes softened and she patted Castiel softly on the cheek. “But I can only push so hard to make him read it. That decision is completely up to him. You know that. When have we ever been able to make Dean do something he didn’t want to do?”

“You got him to go to that play, the first day I met you. What was that called again?”

The Vagina Monologues, how could I have forgotten about that?” Charlie laughed softly and moved her hand onto Castiel’s shoulder. “Oh my gosh yes, his face was priceless when he realized what the show was actually about. I remember we basically told him that it was all about women talking about their sexual experiences and he had that stupid goofy grin on his face and then once the piece about childbirth came up…” Charlie’s voice faded away as Castiel remembered that day when he first met Charlie.

 

The University of Kansas- Fourteen years ago

 

Castiel stood in the student union in front of a table with a banner that read: Don’t be a pussy, come see The Vagina Monologues.

A petite redhead was manning the table and obviously flirting with the girl standing next to him, who had more piercings on her face than Castiel had ever seen on one person before. He didn't even know it was possible to get your cheeks pierced. Pierced Girl suggestively fingered one of the chocolate vulva pops that lay on the table as she smiled seductively and Castiel noticed a slight blush creep across the redhead’s cheeks.

“So, I’ll call you, and we’ll go over that oral homework, okay?” she said as she left with a handful of condoms, dental dams, and the redhead’s number.

“Are you interested in The Vagina Monologues?” The redhead asked Castiel, drawing his attention away from the chocolates in the shapes of vulvas and penises on the table.

“Not particularly,” Castiel hummed as he picked up a dick and vulva pop from the table.

 

“Ahhh, I see you like red andwhite wine.” The redhead waggled her eyebrows suggestively.

 

“I don’t drink,” Castiel said plainly, confused as to what the girl was referring to.

 

“That’s not—I—Okay, let's try this again. My name’s Charlie,” Charlie stretched out her hand across the table.

 

“Castiel.”

 

“Castiel, that’s a cool name. Well, Castiel, since it doesn’t seem that pop culture references are your jam, do you like guys and girls?” Charlie’s eyes darted down to the two pops that Castiel had in his hands.

 

“Oh.” Castiel chuckled. That’s what she meant. “No, I have very particular tastes.” He waved the dick pop in front of Charlie. “The other one is for my roommate. I figured he would enjoy it.” Castiel meant that sincerely. He could tell that Dean had been having a hard time away from his girlfriend, and he imagined that Valentine’s Day was one of the hardest times to be away from someone you loved.

 

“Now is this your roommate or your roommate?”

 

“I can assure you as much as I may wish that the latter was true, he is, unfortunately, incredibly straight.” What? Realizing what he had just admitted to a complete stranger, the blood drained from Castiel's face and he began to panic. The last time he’d told someone that he had feelings for another guy was the day his parents kicked him out. Castiel braced himself for Charlie to look at him with disgust or at the very least laugh at him for being in love with the unattainable.

 

But instead of being taken aback by his sudden confession, there was a softness in Charlie’s eyes.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, Cas. Do you mind if I call you Cas? I’ve been there. Her name was Stacy, she was my best friend’s older sister and it….it sucks. I’m sorry.” Charlie reached across the table and placed her hand over Castiel’s and gave it a reassuring pat.

 

Charlie’s demeanor immediately changed, her eyes widened as she perked up. “But hey, now you’ve got me as a friend, so maybe I could help you with this roommate situation. What’s his name? Maybe I know him. Although given the fact that he’s straight, that's not very likely. I usually try to limit my exposure to—”

 

“Dean,” Castiel interrupted.

 

Charlie’s face dropped. “Dean? Did you say, Dean? And he’s a first-year student?”

 

“Yes, Charlie…Do you know–”

 

“—And he has sandy brown hair, and green eyes and speaks almost exclusively in pop culture references?”

 

“So you do know him?” Castiel asked tentatively. Charlie looked as though she was going to vibrate out of this dimension and into the next. Instead, she jumped over the table and wrapped Castiel in a giant bear hug, despite being a full head shorter than Castiel.

 

“Oh. My. God. We are going to be like the Three Amigos! I call being Dusty Bottoms, he was my favorite.” Charlie said into Castiel’s chest. “Oooh!” Charlie squealed. “We have to get Dean to go see the show! We could tell him it’s about women talking about sex and their experiences with it, which wouldn’t exactly be a lie. Oh my god, We are going to be the best of friends. I can tell.”

 

The student union faded away as Charlie’s voice filtered back into Castiel’s ears as he realized that they were still in their booth at the sports bar.

 

“....I thought he was gonna puke, right there, his face….I had never seen anyone look so green before….Oh shit. We should probably get back. Cas?”

 

“Huh? Oh, yeah. We should probably get back.”

 

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Dean,

I don’t even know if you are going to read this letter, but I hope that you do. How do I even begin? How are you? Maybe this is stupid, but I guess I wanted to say that I never stopped thinking about you. I remember the first day we met as if it was yesterday and not over a decade ago. I was insanely nervous, I had never really been able to relate to people. My older brother, Gabriel always said that ‘my people skills were rusty’. Entering the room that first day, you took my breath away. You smiled at me, and I swear your smile could light up the whole town. You were the most gorgeous man I had ever seen. I was …I was smitten. And then I saw the look on your face when you picked up the picture of me, Bart, and Gabe. I’m not even sure why I kept that picture. Looking back on it, I guess it was because Bart was my first boyfriend, well, my first ‘official’ boyfriend after I came out and my family and entire community disowned me. The only person who would even talk to me after that was Gabe. He took me in and took care of me. If Gabe hadn’t been there, I probably would have ended up on the street.

But that is not what this letter is about. I wonder how your life has turned out. Did you settle for the apple pie life with 2.5 kids and the white picket fence? How is your brother? You always spoke of Sam with such fondness. I hope he’s doing well. My life certainly did not turn out the way I pictured it after I graduated college. I did not become a New York Times Best Selling Author by the age of thirty like I had planned, but I do work in literature as an editor at ECG Publishing.

I’m so glad that you still have Charlie in your life, I have missed her. She hasn’t changed at all since college, has she? I wish I could say the same, I’m afraid spending most of my day at a desk has made me a little soft around the middle. Between my career, and my kids, I rarely find time to go running anymore.

I don’t know if you remember, but I had a twin brother, Jimmy. Well, about two years ago, both he and his wife were killed by a drunk driver. My niece and nephew were not in the car, thank god. You may remember, but I hadn’t talked to my family since I was sixteen, so after twenty years of silence, my mother called me to tell me my brother is dead and that I was named sole guardian of my niece and nephew, (whom I had never met). So there I was at thirty-six, suddenly a single father of three-year-old twins. The last two years have been a learning experience, to say the least. I had never really planned on having kids of my own, but the world works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it? Do you have any kids? They are simultaneously the greatest and most frustrating thing in the world, but I love them with all of my heart, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

Charlie mentioned that you have had a rough couple of years, too. She wouldn’t give me any specifics, she told me it wasn’t her story to tell. You are one of the strongest people I have ever known, and I know that you can handle anything the universe throws at you. But I also want you to know that you don’t have to take on the world by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help. You had such a positive impact on so many people’s lives even in the short time that I was lucky enough to call you a friend, and I know that didn’t end after college.

You deserve good things, Dean.

I realize that this letter is probably hitting you out of the blue, we haven’t talked in over a decade and then the last time we talked, I….I said and did some things that I regret. I don’t want to re-open old wounds, but I was shocked and overwhelmed and I responded in anger. I knew comparing you to your father would push you over the edge, but I did it anyway. I never got a chance to apologize for that and I am truly sorry, Dean.

I hope that you can forgive me.

I’m rambling, and I should probably get back to work. As I said at the beginning, I hope you are well and I do hope to hear from you, but I don’t expect you to return the courtesy.

Sincerely,

Castiel Novak

 

Castiel looked over the letter for the thousandth time. He had lost count at how many times he had re-written the letter since Charlie had said that she would send it to Dean, but there was no more time for that. Charlie’s meeting with Anna would be over in a few minutes and she was going to drop by Castiel’s office to pick up the letter. Castiel took an envelope out of the drawer in his desk and folded the letter, being careful not to smear any of the ink, and slid it reverently in the envelope. In his best script, Castiel wrote Dean’s name on the outside of the envelope and placed it on the side of his desk. The quiet moment was shattered by Charlie’s voice filtering in from the hall outside Castiel’s office.

 

“Thanks, Anna, yeah… sounds good, Ten am tomorrow. Okay, good luck.” Charlie entered Castiel’s office like a whirlwind and plopped into the chair on the other side of his desk. “Jeez, that man can talk. How do you guys get anything done in meetings? I swear good ol’ Chucky boy just likes to hear the sound of his own voice. And Alder? He’s not any better, that pompous ass—-”

 

“The meeting went well, Charlie?” Castiel asked, cutting Charlie’s tirade short.

 

“I was pitching them my new story idea, right? It’s another story about Missy, but this time she has to face one of her fears and the others make fun of her. And Adler had the audacity to tell me that the idea didn’t seem appropriate for children. Why? Oh yeah, because Missy the Hedgehog has two moms. Ugggh! I hate old white men.”

 

Castiel looked at Charlie, slightly offended.

 

“Oh you don’t count, Cas. You’re not old, not like Mr. High and Mighty Adler.” Charlie waved her hand in front of Cas. She was about to say something else when she stopped, distracted, and Cas followed her gaze to the letter on his desk. “Oooh, you finally finished it, huh?” Charlie tapped on the envelope. “How many times did you rewrite it? Five? Ten?”

 

“Twenty,” Cas mumbled.

 

“What was that? You’ll have to speak a bit louder next time, I’m a trifle deaf in this ear,” Charlie said.

 

“You heard me, Charlie, you just love using that line from Willy Wonka.” Castiel felt that ache in his chest again as he remembered how it felt to be part of something. Charlie, Dean, and Cas really had become like the Three Amigos, although Dean had been more like Dusty Bottoms than Charlie. They did everything together from day one. Dean and Castiel were there with ice cream, rom-coms, and blankets when Charlie broke up with her long-time girlfriend, Dorothy. Charlie and Cas were there when Dean drove six hours to Sioux Falls when Sam was rushed to the hospital after crashing the car. Castiel missed that type of friendship: he’d never had close friends like that before and after their friendship ended unexpectedly during senior year, Castiel never had a friendship like that again.

 

“Thanks, Charlie. I mean it.” Castiel picked the envelope up and put it in Charlie’s hand.

 

“Anytime, Cas. I’m glad we found each other again and I hope that you two find each other as well.” Charlie stood up from her chair, leaned over Castiel, and placed a kiss on his forehead.

As Castiel watched Charlie leave his office, he whispered to himself, “Me too, Charlie. Me too.”

 

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Dean,

I have been thinking about us a lot since Charlie came back into my life. Thinking about all the adventures that we had together over the years, like the time Charlie tricked us into going to a LARPing tournament? Who knew she was the Queen of…what was it? Mormont? Mordor? No, that’s Lord of the Rings, I can’t remember what her kingdom was called, can you? But you became her royal handmaiden and were so against it until you put on the costume and I’m not gonna lie, I thought about you in that costume. A lot. As much as you outwardly complained that LARPing was only for nerds and dorks, you couldn’t fool me. I could tell that you were genuinely happy playing that role. You were the Queen’s protector, and you always have been. You’ve always been there for us, for me.

Remember that time we got stuck in a snowstorm on the way back from Christmas break? You thought we could get ahead of the storm and instead we drove right into the heart of it. We were in the middle of nowhere and you pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car. I was convinced that we were going to get buried under feet of snow and no one was ever going to find us. But you were so calm, you grabbed blankets and a box of those hand warmers out of the trunk, and looked into my eyes. I will never forget what you told me at that moment.

“We’ll wait for the storm to pass, and then in the morning, we’ll head home. It’s okay, Cas. I’ve got this, I’ve got you.”

And then you made me put the hand warmers in my shoes and in the pockets of my sweatshirt and wrapped me up in a blanket in the front seat. You took care of me that night, Dean. Just like you did the night I came back from Ishim’s with a black eye. I’d never seen you so angry, I was convinced that I was going to have to bail you out of jail that night. But you handed me a bag of peas for my eye and wrapped me in a blanket, you even let me pick that movie that night. Do you remember what it was? I do.

Mamma Mia.

I know you said that you hated it, but whenever you thought I couldn’t hear you, you were humming ABBA for the next week.

After that, it was hard not to steal small touches or sit a little too close to you. I knew it wasn’t fair to either of us and that it would eventually hurt more when you finally caught on and rejected me, but you never did. And it was that little spark that kept my hopes alive.

It was that one weekend, during our junior year when the three of us were going to drive to that lake outside of Springfield, Missouri but Charlie came down with food poisoning or something. I suggested that we reschedule, but you said, “No point in spoiling a perfectly good weekend in the woods.”

Dean, that weekend…that weekend meant the world to me. It was then that I knew, I mean really knew, that there wouldn’t, there couldn’t be anyone else for me. The moments we had at the lake, the conversations around the fire, I wanted to stay in that moment forever, to forget the rest of the world and have it be just the two of us forever. It felt like something had changed between us. We drove back toward Lawrence and you let me sleep on your shoulder, your right arm draped over me like a blanket. It felt safe and warm in your arms, but more than that, it felt right. Like we were two puzzle pieces made to fit together. Like we belonged together. Then your phone rang.

And you sat up straighter, your arm no longer draped over me, and I felt your shoulders stiffen. Before you even said anything I knew exactly who was calling. I never told you this, but you always had the same reaction whenever Lisa called. You would stiffen up like you were a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I know that part of that is how John raised you and the bullshit he, quite literally, beat into you. Believe me, I understand struggling with your own feelings versus what your parents taught you. But you had to know that Lisa wasn’t good for you, right? I didn’t understand why you couldn’t see that I was the one who really understood you. I was always right there beside you, trying to make you laugh after yet another fight with Lisa. I was always there for you, through the good and the bad. You had to know on some level that I wanted to be more than your roommate, more than your best friend. I think somewhere in that beautiful brain of yours you knew that we belonged together, but whether it was John’s rhetoric or not wanting to hurt Lisa, you never acted upon those feelings. I was fine with those roles because I wanted to be a part of your life and I would take any meager crumbs that you would throw my way, but I ALWAYS wanted more.

I would be happy if I could hear your voice one more time, even if it was you telling me that you never wanted to see me again.

I miss you. I miss my best friend. I wish you the best.

(Hoping to be) Your Friend,

Castiel Novak

 

“Daddy,” Claire tugged on Castiel’s sleeve. “Why are you crying? Did somebody make you sad?”

Castiel reached down, picked up the five-year-old, and placed her on his knees. “No, sweetie. I was just thinking about an old friend that I haven’t seen in a while.”

“Oh, like my friend Kaia? I haven’t seen her in forever, because she’s on vacation with her moms.”

“Yes, sweetie, just like that. This person was my best friend, just like Kaia is your best friend, but…but that’s a story for another day.” Castiel sighed and wiped the tears from his eyes. “ Let’s go get your brother, I think it’s bath time, and then off to bed with you, you little ragamuffins.”

“You’re so silly Daddy, Jack and I aren’t muffins!”

“You’re not?” Castiel feigned shock. “Then why do I want to eat you up?” Castiel lifted Claire’s Pinkie Pie shirt and began to blow raspberries onto her stomach.

“Daddy! Daddy! Stop!” Claire squealed in delight.

“Okay,” Castiel picked Claire off his knee and placed her on the floor. “Go find your brother and tell him it’s bath time. You may both pick out one bath toy.”

“But Daddy,” Claire whined and looked up at Castiel with the biggest blue eyes, golden curls framing her face and the smile that had been plastered on her face just moments ago was quickly turning into a frown.

“Claire, you know how I feel about whining,” Castiel said matter-of-factly.

“Can I—May I have two toys, please?” Castiel looked into his little girl’s eyes and couldn’t say no.

“Alright, two toys, but just for tonight.”

“And Jack too?” Claire pleaded, sticking her bottom lip out a little. If Claire had mastered this look by age five, Castiel was never going to survive her teenage years.

“And Jack too. Hurry up now you, you have five minutes to be ready for a bath!” Castiel said as Claire ran out of the office to find her brother and get ready for bath time.

Castiel chuckled as he watched Claire run down the hall. He looked over at the letter sitting on his desk.

I don’t even know why I’m writing these. Dean’s probably never going to read them. He would have responded if he had read it, right?

Castiel shook the thought out of his mind: he had two wiley five years olds that needed a bath and a good book before bed. He folded up the letter and put it in the brown satchel that lay next to the desk. Charlie wasn’t coming into the office until later in the week, so Castiel still had time to completely change his mind.

 

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Dean,

When I met you that first day of freshman year in our dorm room, I was immediately attracted to you. Your green eyes sparkled like emeralds and you had a jawline that could cut glass. Honestly, I fell for you right then and there, but then you told me about Lisa and I was devastated. Of course, the guy of my dreams was straight AND in a committed relationship. I was convinced that God had something against me, was it because I “rebelled” against my family and the church? Anyway, I resigned myself to a life of unrequited love. I convinced myself that having you in my life in any capacity was better than a life without you. And for a while, that was enough, I met Charlie and the three of us had the best times, we shared everything and I loved the friendship we had, but there was always that nagging little voice in the back of my brain telling me that I would never be truly happy until I told you how I felt. I had planned to tell you so many times over the years.

I had planned on telling you when we were driving back from the lake that one weekend, junior year, before the phone call from Lisa interrupted us.

I had planned on telling you when we stayed up all night working on my final paper for my comparative lit class at that 24-hour diner. Remember that place? The coffee was horrible, but I seem to remember the pie was quite excellent. I wonder if it is still around?

I miss that diner. I miss you.

I miss the nights when we would just sit up talking about everything and nothing. You would try to get me to watch a movie that I had never seen before (which wasn’t hard at the time). You introduced me to all your favorites; All three of the Indiana Jones Movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark being the superior of the three. I watched my very first western with you, the one with the guns and tuberculosis. And who could forget Star Wars? I was so confused as to why we had to watch it in such a strange order; 4, 5, 6, and then 1, 2, and 3.

I loved watching you talk about Sam and everything he was doing in high school. Your face would light up when you were talking about all the things he was doing and I was there when he called you after he passed his driver’s test on the first try. How old is he now? He would have to be thirty-something right? Did he become a marine biologist? I feel like I’ve missed so much when I used to be such a big part of your life.

Charlie told me about Cassie. She didn’t want to, she said it wasn’t her story to tell, but I begged her to tell me.

Cancer. I am so sorry Dean.

Watching someone you love slip away is something that no one should ever have to go through. I understand a little of what you went through, it's not exactly the same, I told you that I was the guardian of my niece and nephew, with the sudden passing of my brother and his wife. I’m still not sure why I was picked, maybe because Jack and Claire were so young, they thought that having Jimmy’s twin take over would be less of a shock to their routine.

It wasn’t.

Those first few months were heartbreaking, both Jack and Claire would scream for their mom and dad in the middle of the night. They kept asking me when they could go home and see Mommy and Daddy. I can only imagine that you are dealing with the same thing. How old is your daughter? (Yes, I was able to get that information out of Charlie, too) I hope that both of you have been able to regain some normalcy. One of my biggest regrets is that I was not able to comfort you in your time of need, the way you did for me so many times, Dean.

I have been prattling on for far too long. So I will get to the point of this letter. I told you at the beginning of this letter that I was attracted to you from day one, but I pushed those feelings down, believing that you never would, or even could reciprocate them.

By the beginning of our senior year, I had come to the decision that I was just going to tell you how I felt and deal with the consequences. And then Mick walked into my life, and I don’t know if it was the fact that I had repressed my feelings for you for three years or the fact that I knew that this was an unrequited love. But the moment he said, “I reckon you could finish me off without breaking a sweat, Am I right?” It was like a valve had been released. Every single emotion, every feeling that I had ever had for you suddenly came rushing out and was directed at Mick.

Mick wasn’t an idiot, he was quite astute. He knew that he was simply a replacement, a vessel for all of my feelings towards you. Whenever I was with Mick, I was physically there, but in my mind, I was with you, Dean.

I know that sounds creepy, but I can't think of any other way of explaining it. I’ve never wanted to be with anyone more than I wanted to be with you.

That day, that horrible messed up shitty day, senior year, I don’t know what came over me. I have been reliving that day for over a decade.

I barely heard the apartment door click open, I thought you were coming home the next day and I was a nervous wreck about you coming back because I was finally going to tell you how I felt. Mick had the idea to distract me and take my mind off of you. I didn’t know you were there until Mick yelled at you. I can’t imagine how you must have felt seeing me in that compromising position. I saw the anger begin to bubble under the surface, I thought I could “head it off at the pass” to use a phrase from one of your westerns, but then Mick tried to help and I don’t even remember why I called him ‘my boyfriend’, but right after he left I saw you shove your feelings down, just like you always did, but I wasn’t gonna have it. I still remember the exact conversation we had.

“Let’s forget it Cas, I just didn't expect to find my best friend in that position, okay it just….”

“It just what, Dean? Grossed you out, made you sick to your stomach to see that? To see a man with another man’s cock in their mouth? What Dean? Tell me.”

“It’s not— Cas, just leave it, okay.”

“No, I’m not gonna leave it alone, I thought that you were different, that you had grown out of whatever sad homophobic rhetoric your father had beaten into you, but I was wrong, Dean. You didn’t learn. You are just like him.”

“I am NOTHING like that son of a bitch, you take that back.”

“You are exactly what your father raised you to be, a homophobic asshole.”

“Yeah, well at least I’m not a fucking faggot. It’s disgusting man. Look what you do in the privacy of your bedroom, that’s fine, but don’t go rubbing my face in it. Nobody wants to see that.”

“Get out. I said, get out. Leave. Go.”

 

I never should have called you that. I said it because I knew it wasn’t true, but I was just …I just wanted you to finally say what you were feeling and I knew exactly the buttons to push, but I never expected you to call me that. I HATED you after that, but I think I hated myself more.

All I have to say is, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry about Mick and I’m sorry I’m such an idiot that I didn't tell you I was in love with you.”

I’m sorry to bring this back up, but it was kind of the elephant in the room and it needed to be addressed. In case it wasn't blatantly obvious, I don’t think you are ANYTHING like your father. I’m sorry that I ever made that comparison. I hope that you can forgive me. I forgive you. It took quite a few years and even more years of therapy, but I know you didn’t mean what you said.

Given all that we have been through, I still love you. I have loved you since the day we met. And I think you care about me too, or at least you did. You changed me, Dean. I am a better man for knowing you, you make everyone around you better. I know that you don’t think you deserve good things, especially after Cassie was unfairly ripped away from you. But you do, you deserve the world, and if I can be any part of that world, I would—-I would sprout wings and fly.

I love you, Dean Winchester.

Yours Always,

Castiel Novak

 

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“Hey, Charlie,”

“Yeah, Cas.”

“This is–this is the last letter, will you tell him that? Even if he doesn’t read the other two, I –I think he should read this one.” Castiel’s hands shook as he handed the envelope over to Charlie. “It’s the one where—well—I–he just needs to read it, okay?”

“He’ll read it, I promise,” Charlie placed a hand on Castiel’s shoulder and looked into his eyes, “I’ll stand there and make him read it out loud to me if that’s what it takes.”

“Thank you, Charlie….wait—you’ll what?” Castiel tilted his head as Charlie’s words filtered into his mind.

“I’ll make him read it to me when I give it to him,” Charlie said slowly.

When I give it to him.

Dean is here.

Dean is in Lawrence, he never left.

 

Castiel had assumed that Charlie was mailing the letters to Dean, but no: she was handing them to him. Castiel had so many questions, and so many emotions flowed through his mind. He hated Charlie for a split second for not telling him that Dean still lived in town, but then he realized that Charlie never said she was going to mail the letters, just that she would make sure they got delivered. Castiel was the one that assumed Dean would want to get as far away from him as possible after how their friendship ended.

“Cas, are you okay?”

“What? I–yeah. I’m—” Castiel tried to put his face back to some semblance of normal.

“You didn’t know he was still in Lawrence, did you?”

“How did he react when you gave him the letters? Did he read them?” Castiel blurted out. Castiel’s mind was spinning, wait—no, that was the room, the room was definitely spinning.

“Woah, there Cas, let’s sit you down.” Charlie carefully walked Castiel over to his desk and lowered him into the chair. “Better?” Castiel nodded. The room had started to slow down. Dean read the letters, he was sure of it, which meant that oh god, Dean was going to read this last one, and just the thought of that—oh god, he was going to be sick.

“I don’t know, I don’t know if he read them,” Charlie said, rubbing Castiel’s back, as he heaved his lunch into the trash can next to his desk. Castiel picked his head up and gave her a look that said, You’re bullshitting me.

“I promise Cas, cross my heart and hope to die. I don’t know if he read them, I’m sorry.”

Castiel met Charlie’s soft eyes as he wiped the sick from his mouth with his shirt sleeve. “I—Charlie, I love him and he’s here? In town? What if–what if I run into him? I…..”

Castiel noticed the smirk on Charlie’s face. He knew that look. That was Charlie’s I’m plotting something look.

 

“Charlie, what did you do?” Castiel asked, using the tone he’s used with the twins when he knows they are lying to him.

“Nothing! I swear, Cas. Now, let's get you some water and maybe a breath mint or two, okay?”

“Okay, Charlie.”

 

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Castiel was a nervous wreck and he was already running late. The car was waiting outside and Castiel had already had to change his dress shirt.

Twice.

Why had he decided this was a good idea? Gabriel was the last person that should be in charge of anyone's well-being, let alone his children, but it was too late now. In the chaos of the past few weeks with Charlie’s book launch and the revelation that Dean was in town, Castiel had stupidly forgotten to arrange for a babysitter. So the only option he had left was his brother, Gabriel. Castiel had spent the last twenty minutes going over the emergency numbers list that was on the fridge, where the spare stuffies were for when Jack inevitably lost one, and how under absolutely NO circumstances was Gabe allowed to fall for Claire’s puppy dog eyes, no matter how much she pouted.

“Now, you’re sure you understand everything, like when to call poison control and when to just go straight to the hospital, right?” Castiel said, straightening his tie and grabbing his suit jacket from the safety of the hall closet. He gave his brother a look that could shake the halls of heaven.

“Cassie, I’ve got this! Look, they’re practically asleep already. I promise I will call you if one of them sneezes too hard, or if they cough more than twice. I’ve got this, go to your party.” Castiel was still fiddling with his tie and stuffing the end back into his waistcoat as Gabe pushed him out the door.

 

Castiel ran his fingers through his hair and fiddled with his tie nervously, as the car pulled onto the freeway and drove towards the Children’s Discovery Center in Topeka, where ECG Publishing would be launching Celeste Middleton’s newest book, Missy Learns to Swim.

Castiel had been there a handful of times with Jack and Claire. It was a sleek modern building with the entrance opening up into an atrium that during the day was illuminated by the sun, but at night it was filled with twinkle lights that simulated the night sky.

As he moved towards the main floor, Castiel could hear Zachariah Adler introducing Charles Shurley, the head of ECG Publishing. In the years that Castiel had worked at ECG, he had never heard of Chuck attending a book launch, but tonight wasn’t just the launch of Charlie’s new book: Chuck was there to announce that ECG Publishing was now the exclusive publisher of all current and future Celeste Middleton books.

Cas jumped as he felt someone grab the meat of his ass and squeeze. It was surely one of the women that worked on the copy floor, Meg had told him that all the women (and some of the guys) on that floor said he “had a nice ass”. He turned to give a pleasant, but terse smile to the offender and was met with the aforementioned brunette.

“What took you so long, Clarence? You got a new boy-toy I don’t know about that kept you *tied* up? Meg waggled her eyebrows at him in a fashion that reminded him of Charlie.

“I—no, Meg. I stupidly trusted Gabriel with getting the twins ready for bed, while I got ready and it…” Castiel’s eyes had been scanning the crowd for the guest of honor, but she seemed to be nowhere to be found.

“Meg, Where’s Char–Celeste? I can’t find her in the crowd.”

“Last time I saw her she was flirting with the bass player in the band. They walked off somewhere when the stiffs started talking.” Meg cocked her eyebrow in a move that said, And I don’t think they wanted a quiet place to just talk.

“Dammit, Charlie, keep it in your pants…for…” Castiel paused as he saw a flash of green eyes, eyes the color of malachite.

Dean? Why would Dean be here?

Castiel pushed that thought to the back of his mind. Chuck was almost done espousing how the partnership between ECG Publishing and Celeste Middleton would not only help the house but would bring her inclusive books to a wider audience.

Castiel really >needed to find Charlie.

Dammit Charlie, where are you?

With that one thought, Charlie and (Castiel assumed) the aforementioned bass player stumbled past him, disheveled, Charlie still buttoning up her blouse and tucking it back into her slacks. She planted a kiss on the blonde bass player’s lips, slipped on her suit jacket, and made her way to the stage, just in time for her introduction.

The blonde bass player stood right next to Castiel and he could almost see the hearts in her eyes as she watched Charlie walk up to the stage. “So, how long have you and Celeste known each other?”

“Who?” the blonde asked. Castiel pointed toward the stage as Charlie was being introduced. “Oh, you mean Carrie! Oh god, no we just met like thirty minutes ago. She’s like, really great, like really, really great.”

“Right, excuse me, will you? I have to….” If Castiel couldn’t talk to Charlie, who was still on the stage, then he would have to find Anna. After scanning the crowd, he spotted her at the side of the stage and quickly moved in that direction. He was so busy keeping an eye on Anna that he didn’t see who he ran into.

“Sorry, excuse me.” Cas put his hand on the man’s shoulder as he continued forward. The man’s hand clasped over Castiel’s and he thought, great, I ran into the one guy that’s gonna have an issue with me. I said excuse me, what the hell does he want? Castiel was in his head preparing to apologize yet again when the man’s face came into focus. Castiel was met with those green eyes that he had dreamed about for years.

 

“Dean,” Castiel’s voice came out rougher and deeper than he expected and his mouth was as dry as the Sahara desert.

“Heya, Cas.”

“What—how—what are you doing here?” Castiel managed to form a somewhat coherent sentence even though his brain was currently offline.

“Well, it’s not every day your best friend gets a book deal with a fancy publisher.” Dean’s hand was still on top of Castiel’s and between the heat radiating from Dean’s hand, and the pure shock of seeing Dean after a decade, Castiel wasn’t sure how he was still standing and not a puddle on the floor. “I had to come and see that, right?”

Oh.

Right.

Charlie and Dean were friends long before Castiel was ever in the picture. And since Dean was living in Lawrence, of course, Charlie invited him to her launch party. I’m an idiot, Dean wasn’t here because he read the letters. He was here to support Charlie.

“Right,” Castiel slid his hand off Dean’s shoulder. “It was good to see you again, Dean, but I have to talk to Anna about something.”

“Wait, Cas,” Dean wrapped his hand around Castiel’s wrist as he walked away. “I–Can we–-I need to talk to you, it’s important.”

Castiel’s heart jumped.

It’s important.

Dean read the letters. Dean read the letters and he doesn’t feel the same way. He wants to let me down easy. Ok. Ok, Castiel, you knew this was a possibility. Take a deep breath.

Castiel tried to calm his nerves, but his emotions were quickly bubbling up, and thank god Castiel was facing away from Dean so that Dean couldn’t see the tears filling his eyes and his lip quiver as he said. “Yeah. Um, the speeches are almost over. Meet me by the ice sculpture in fifteen minutes.”

“Okay, Cas. Fifteen minutes.”

 

divider

 

Castiel found Charlie shoveling mini quiches into her mouth.

“These are great, Cas. Have you tried them?” Charlie’s face dropped as soon as she saw Castiel. “Cas, what happened? Who do I have to kill, well maybe not kill, but maim? Who do I have to maim?

“So were you going to tell me that you invited Dean?” Castiel barely got the words out before the tears began pouring down his cheeks.

“Wait…..” Charlie swallowed. “You know he’s here…but did you actually talk to him Cas?”

“Of course, I talked to him, Charlie, but he’s here to support you. He either didn’t read the letters or he read them and doesn’t….doesn’t…” Castiel choked back a sob and dropped his head to his chest.

“Cas, look at me. Of course, he read the letters. He ONLY decided to come after I let it slip that you were going to be here. I’ve been telling him about this event for weeks and he kept making some bullshit excuses, but the moment he knew that YOU would be here? He was suddenly able to come. So, what are you worried about? Go get your happy ending, you deserve good things too, you know.”

“But, what if he doesn’t feel the same way about me? What if he doesn’t or can’t reciprocate? I don’t think I would be able to handle that, Charlie.” Castiel sniffled.

“Go talk to him, just trust me, okay?” Charlie smiled, but it was a smile that she only used when she was hiding something. She’d had the same smile when she came over to meet Jack and Claire and gave them both an advanced copy of Missy Learns to Swim.

Still unsure of himself, Castiel made his way toward the ice sculpture. He saw Dean standing there, but Dean hadn’t noticed him yet. Castiel’s heart was in his throat, he felt sick to his stomach and his palms wouldn’t stop sweating. He was less than ten feet away when he caught Dean’s gaze. It was piercing and there was a heat behind it. Castiel’s stomach twisted, but it wasn’t with nausea this time, it was something different, something warmer.

“Dean, you wanted to talk?”

“I–Cas, I—Jesus, man. No wonder you work at a publishing house, you have a way with words.” Dean pulled something out of his back pocket and waved it in front of Cas’ face. It took Cas a second to realize that they were the letters he had written to Dean.

“I mean you’ve always been good with words, but I can never seem to find the right ones. I always screw things up, I mean look at us.” Dean clapped his hand on Castiel's shoulder and the warm feeling low in Castiel’s stomach grew with Dean’s touch.

“I–I’m sorry, Cas. I’m so fucking sorry, I don’t even know why I said that you were a–you know. I never–I didn’t mean it. It was like I–I was watching myself from the outside and I couldn’t stop it. I think, I think it was–no–I know– I was scared, I was scared I had lost you, that I had missed my chance, and look what I did, I pushed you away. You were right, you know. What you said about being the only one who understood me? I think it was all of those things, not wanting to hurt Lisa, my dad’s voice screaming in my head. I knew, Cas. I knew you were the one for me, that we belonged together. That’s why…” Dean’s voice began to break. “That’s why I came home early, I was gonna tell you.” Dean’s eyes were shiny with tears. “I was gonna tell you I loved you and then that British prick—”

“It’s–I’m sorry about Mick, he was–he was a mistake. I–my therapist said I was projecting all my feelings for you onto him so that I could feel something. I—it took me a while to forgive what you did, what you said. After years, and years of therapy, I was finally able to forgive you. I understood that you said what you said out of anger. And that I didn’t help the situation by comparing you to your father.”

“Yeah, not gonna lie Cas, that was a pretty low blow. I think that hurt more than anything else, but that’s in the past now. Water under the bridge, yeah? We found each other again and this time I was finally able to say it without fucking it up.” Dean’s eyes softened, still wet with tears, but his face was softer, more content, Dean looked happy, genuinely happy.

“Say what, Dean?”

“What?”

“You said you were finally able to say it without fucking it up. What was it?”

“Jesus, Cas,” Dean sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “It was hard enough the first time, the reason I came back early that day fifteen years ago was that I had finally realized that I loved you.”

“You…you loved me?” Castiel asked, uncertain that he had heard Dean properly.

“There he is,“ Dean let out a small chuckle as his hand slid up to cup Cas’ cheek. “Yeah, you idiot. It took me three years to realize, but yeah. And then with two words, I screwed everything up and never got to tell you.”

“And how do you feel now?” Castiel swallowed. Dean loved him? Dean loved him.

Past tense.

 

As in ‘I loved you when we were in college but I’ve moved on and I think you should too.’

 

“Cas, I—all those things you said in your letter,” Dean stepped closer and closed the space in between them. Castiel could feel Dean’s breath quicken and Dean’s lips were so close that he could smell the punch that lingered on Dean’s breath. “Cas, I—” Castiel was lost in Dean’s gaze. All of his anxiety about whether or not Dean still had feelings for him faded away.

 

The party around them completely disappeared and all that existed was the two of them. Castiel felt Dean’s lips ghost across his pulse point. Dean’s hand that had been on his cheek found its way around Castiel’s waist, keeping them pressed against one another. A small moan escaped Cas’ lips as he waited to feel Dean’s perfectly soft plump lips just below his jawline. The only sound in the room was their breaths, becoming increasingly ragged. Castiel’s hand found itself tangled in Dean’s hair, pulling Dean in closer, begging for contact. Castiel closed his eyes as he felt Dean’s lips brush against his.

Dean pulled away slowly, and the realization that they were standing in the middle of a very public event, a very public work event, hit Castiel like a bolt of lightning. “Dean, we—” As if Dean could read Castiel’s mind, he grabbed Castiel's wrist and led him away from the din of the crowd towards the part of the museum that had been marked Off Limits.

“Dean, where are you taking me?”

“Somewhere we won’t be interrupted.” Dean led Castiel into one of the rooms where the sounds of the party could barely be heard.

“Dean, I asked you what are we—-oompf!” Castiel was cut off by Dean capturing his lips in a deep and passionate kiss.

Castiel had dreamed about this moment for years; he melted into Dean, their limbs entwining with one another. Dean’s lips were just as soft as he had imagined, and the scrape of his stubble against Castiel’s cheek sent an electric shock straight down his spine.

“Dean, we shouldn’t, someone could–” Castiel moaned as Dean trailed kisses down Castiel’s jawline and into the space just above his collarbone. “Dean,” Castiel growled, his body was on fire with the sensation of Dean’s lips on his neck, he yearned to lose himself in this feeling, but his brain kept screaming at him. He was convinced that at any moment someone would discover them and with Castiel’s luck, that someone would be Zachariah.

“Cas, do that again,” Dean purred.

“Do what?” Castiel said breathlessly.

“Say my name like that, Jesus, man. With a voice like that, you should do audiobooks, you’d make a killing.” Dean ran his hand through Castiel’s hair, his nails deliciously dragging along Castiel’s scalp.

“Mmm, yes, Dean.” Castiel moaned, purposefully lowering the pitch of his voice as he watched it surge through Dean like an electric shock. Undeterred, Dean continued his ministrations along Castiel’s neck until Castiel had had enough. He grabbed Dean by the collar with both hands and shoved him up against the wall.

“I have dreamed about this for years, Dean. The number of times that I have seen you fall apart underneath me is as expansive as the number of stars in the sky. “ Castiel released Dean’s shirt and made quick work of the button and zipper on Dean’s jeans.

“Jesus, Cas, the things you can do with that mouth never fail to amaze me.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” Castiel smirked.

As Castiel’s fingers slipped into the belt loops of Dean’s jeans, he was interrupted by Taylor Swift's Shake it Off.

 

I stay out too late, got nothing in my brain

That's what people say, that's what people say

I go on too many dates, but I can't make them stay

At least that's what people say, that's what people say

 

“Dean, why are your pants singing Taylor Swift?” Castiel dropped his hands from Dean’s jeans and stepped back slightly, releasing Dean from the wall.

“How do YOU know it’s Taylor Swift? Don’t tell me you’re secretly a Swiftie, Cas?”

“I—no, unfortunately, that is not something we have in common, Dean. One of Jack and Claire’s favorite movies is SING, and there’s that scene between—”

“--Rosita and Gunther. Yeah, I’ve—I’ve seen it.” Dean ran his hand through his hair.

The strains of the chorus continued to fill the small exhibit room.

 

But I keep cruisin'

Can't stop, won't stop movin'

It's like I got this music in my mind

Sayin', "It's gonna be alright"

 

divider

“Are you gonna answer that, Dean? It could be important.”

“What? Oh right. Shit.” Dean shoved his hand into his back pocket, grabbed his phone, and swiped the screen. “Yeah. No, No. don’t listen to her. If she’s already had one cookie she doesn’t get another one before bed. Yes. Yes, she’s very good at that. And don’t let her con you into more than one bedtime story either. Okay. Thanks. Yes, thank you again, Krissy.” Dean put his phone back in his pocket. “That was—uh, that was the sitter. Emma can be quite persuasive when it comes to what she wants at bedtime.”

“Sounds like she can be quite a handful. She sounds just like my Claire. ” Castiel said as a slight smile crept across his face. “I always knew you’d be a great dad. I’m sure she’s just like you.”

“Yeah,” Dean rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. “A little too much like me, I may have spoiled her a little too much after Cassie died, I just—-I know she misses her mom and I —”

“You did what you thought was right at the time. You took care of your daughter.” Castiel placed a hand on Dean’s shoulder in a knowing fashion. “I know what that’s like. Jimmy and Amelia passed two and a half years ago and it’s still—It’s still hard when Jack or Claire cry out for their mom.”

“Christ, I’m sorry Cas. Nothing like talking about dead moms to really kill the mood, huh? We should…uh…I should….” Dean dropped his eyes towards the floor and slowly zipped up his jeans.

“Dean, I–” Castiel leaned his head against Dean’s. “I don’t want to lose you again.”

Dean grabbed Cas by the shoulders.”Hey, I’m not going anywhere, not now, not ever.”

“But I don’t even have your phone number.” Castiel pouted.

“Check your phone, idiot.” Castiel pulled his phone out of his suit jacket and swiped it open to see that he had a new message.

Unknown number:

Emma is gonna be at Sam and Eileen’s for the weekend. I’ll send you my address. Charlie has a key to the apartment. 😏😏😏

 

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Castiel pulled up to a row of townhouses and double-checked his phone against the numbers on the outside. He was in the right place and Dean was inside.

Dean was inside.

Waiting. For him.

Castiel looked into the rearview mirror and tried in vain to get his hair to lay down. He checked his breath, grabbed a mint out of the glove box, and made his way to Dean’s door. Castiel had just raised his hand to knock on the door when it swung open. Castiel’s mouth dropped to the floor as he took in the sight of Dean in light gray sweatpants and a worn-out Led Zeppelin T-Shirt. Castiel suddenly felt like he was overdressed in his simple blue button-down and dark jeans.

“Heya Cas,” Dean rumbled.

“How did you–” Castiel’s mind was racing to try to figure out how Dean knew the exact moment he was at the door.

Dean chuckled, the lines around his eyes crinkled and Castiel thought he could live in those lines. “Ring Camera, I saw you pull in. Were you giving yourself a pep talk in your car or something, Cas?” Dean reached across the threshold and lightly jabbed Castiel in the shoulder. His hand opened and rested on Castiel’s shoulder. “You wanna come inside, or are you gonna stay out there all day?”

“I-I would very much like to come inside you, Dean.”

“I–what—Cas? Jesus, Man I—” Dean sputtered. “At least buy me dinner first. “ Dean chuckled nervously. “Maybe let’s just sit on the couch first, okay? And then we can um….you know.” Dean quickly turned and Castiel followed him into the cozy and welcoming living room, noticing how delicious Dean’s ass looked in those gray sweatpants.

“It’s not much, but it’s home,” Dean said, breaking Cas’ focus on his ass.

“It’s perfect Dean, it’s very….you.” Castiel stepped in front of Dean and closed the space between them so that Castiel could feel the rise and fall of their chests. “If you are amenable, I would like to pick back up where we left off last night at the launch party. Charlie offered to take care of the twins all weekend, so…” Castiel leaned into Dean’s neck, his lips ghosting over Dean’s pulse point, and then whispered into Dean’s ear, “I’m all yours.”

“Dammit, Cas,” Dean breathed out as Cas felt his pulse quicken through the light kisses Cas placed down Dean’s neck. “Couch.”

“Hmmm?” Castiel hummed into Dean’s collarbone. Before Cas knew what was happening he found himself walking back toward the couch until his calves hit the base of the couch. Dean’s lips never left Castiel’s neck even as they fell onto the couch with Dean landing on Cas’ lap. Dean placed his hands on Castiel’s shoulders and pinned him against the back of the couch. Castiel struggled against the restraint, opening his mouth in protest, but the only sound that escaped his lips was a low moan, followed by a breathy “Dean,” as Dean rolled his hips against Castiel’s groin.

Dean released Cas’ shoulders and dipped his head to take Castiel’s lips into a messy kiss while his fingers made quick work of Castiel’s shirt buttons. Dean’s lips trailed down Castiel’s jaw, down to his collarbone, and down his chest. Each kiss sent electrical pulses straight to Cas’ cock.

Castiel ran his hands through Dean’s hair, “God, Dean, yes…I’ve wanted…I want…”

Dean met Castiel’s eyes and Jesus if Dean wasn’t the most beautiful person Castiel had ever seen. He immediately wanted to write sonnets and novels about Dean’s emerald eyes and the different shades of green that they contained. Right now, Dean’s eyes were the color of an evergreen forest just after the sun sets: Deep, dark, and lush.

“Yes, Cas. Anything. I will give you anything you want.” Dean dipped his head down and swiped his tongue over Castiel’s left nipple, watching the small peak grow under his touch.

“I want….Jesus, Dean….I want…” Castiel’s brain was working overtime just trying to keep up, and words were no longer an option, so he decided to show Dean exactly what he wanted. Castiel grabbed the hem of Dean’s t-shirt and pulled it over his head. “This, “ Castiel said as he threw the shirt on the floor. “And these,” Castiel picked at the drawstring on Dean’s sweatpants. “These have to go too.” Dean rose up on his knees and in a move that made Castiel’s mouth go dry, Dean slowly pulled one end of the drawstring loose and then took Castiel’s hands in his and placed them on his hips and they both pushed Dean’s sweatpants down past his hips. Castiel’s mouth dropped open at the sight of Dean’s cock in front of him, fully erect and already dripping with pre-cum. “Beautiful,” Castiel breathed out. “Absolutely beautiful.”

Dean sat there straddling Castiel, staring into his eyes. Castiel was gone: he had always wanted this, wanted Dean, but never thought it was possible and yet, it was happening. Castiel was lost inside himself, it wasn’t until he felt Dean’s breath against his ear, and then his brain processed what had been said.

“Your turn, Sunshine.” Dean deftly unbuttoned Castiel’s jeans and pulled the zipper down, Castiel groaned at the sensation on his already aching cock, which had been waiting for its turn to be released.

“Mmmmm, Dean…..”

“Lift your hips, Sweetheart,” Castiel complied and Dean pulled Castiel’s jeans and boxers down past his thighs until they pooled onto the floor around Castiel’s ankles. “Jesus, Cas where were you hiding that thing?”

“Shut up and kiss me, Dean,” Castiel pulled Dean down back onto his lap and the feeling of skin on his skin made Castiel’s eyes roll back into his head. It didn’t help that the moment Dean was seated back in Cas’ lap, he rolled his hips once again, the motion making their cocks brush against one another and Castiel was convinced that he was gone. He hadn’t felt like this…..ever. “Dean…I….I please.”

Dean leaned over to the small end table next to the couch and reached into the small drawer searching for something. “Come on, where are you? I just put you in—ah ha!”

Dean readjusted himself on Castiel’s lap with a small white and purple bottle in his hand, Castiel could see half of the label that said —Glide. Dean clicked open the bottle and poured some of the lube into his hands.

“Shhh, I’ve got you, sweetheart,” Dean whispered into Castiel’s ear as his hand wrapped around both their cocks and began stroking, “I’m gonna make you feel good, okay, just relax.”

Castiel’s head rolled back against the couch cushion as he lost himself in the feeling of Dean’s cock against his and Dean’s hand stroking them both. Castiel felt like he was floating, no, like he was flying, like he had magically sprouted wings that spread across his back and they enveloped both him and Dean.

“Jesus, Cas—you feel so—I need you. I need you. I need you.”

“Dean, I…I’m….Dean….FUCK!” Castiel came with a shout and Dean followed him shortly after.

Dean leaned in and kissed Castiel and placed his forehead against Cas’. “I thought we’d at least make it to the bedroom…Shit, Cas, that was…..yeah….”

“We have all weekend, Dean.” Castiel chuckled lightly. “ We should get cleaned up. Shower?”

“Yeah, Shower.” Dean climbed off Castiel’s lap, shaking out the pins and needles in his feet and shucking off his sweatpants that were still around his ankles. Castiel grabbed Dean’s outstretched arm and helped him up off the couch, doing the same with his jeans and shedding his button-down off his shoulders.

“Here, Let me give you the tour on the way to the bathroom,” Dean grabbed Castiel’s hand and led him towards the bathroom.’

 

Dean and Castiel traded sweet, wet kisses in the bathroom as they dried themselves off. Castiel paused, running a towel through his hair and then wrapping it around his waist. His eyes met Dean’s in the mirror. Dean’s eyes were now a bright green and the golden specks sparkled in the bright lights of the vanity, but there was something behind them.

“So……” Dean chuckled nervously.”You…uh mentioned the weekend earlier. Does that mean you’re gonna stay?

“That was the intention of your text the other night, was it not?”

“Yeah, I just…you know, didn’t want to assume…I mean that was the first time we–”

Castiel captured Dean’s lips in a kiss, cutting him off. “And it won’t be the last.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, Dean.”

“Well, in that case, I think we need to finish the tour, there is one room I haven't shown you yet,” Dean grabbed Castiel’s hand and led him out of the bathroom and down the hall towards a room at the other end.

“Is this–”

“Yeah, Cas.”

 

Castiel slammed Dean into the door and pinned him down with his lips. “I want…I want you inside of me.”

“Jesus, Cas. Yes. One thousand percent, yes.”

 

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Castiel lay in bed, his hands carding through Dean’s hair as Dean snoozed on his chest. Castiel had no idea what time it was, but it was still light outside. He craned his neck to glance at the clock next to the bed.

Four-thirty.

Castiel thought back to the last twenty-four hours. This time yesterday, he, like most of the staff at Edlund Carver Glynn, had been scrambling with the last-minute details of Celeste Middleton’s launch party. Castiel had no idea that his world would be turned upside down that night. Not only had Dean read the letters, but his feelings were reciprocated. His feelings were reciprocated, right? Dean had said that he had loved Castiel at the launch party, but that was past tense. Castiel’s mind began to spiral. Was this all just pent-up sexual tension from the last fifteen years? And now that they had expended that, was there anything left? Castiel’s heart began to beat faster and he tried to slow it by focusing on his breathing. He took slow breaths in and out. In and out.

Dean shifted on Cas’ chest and nuzzled into Cas’ neck placing small kisses just above Cas’ collarbone. “Mmmm, what time is it?” Dean mumbled as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

“It's almost five in the evening, we’ve wasted almost the entire day.”

“I wouldn’t call what we did earlier a waste.” Dean propped himself up on one arm so that he was looking directly at Castiel. Damn. Castiel was gone, he hoped to God that Dean felt the same way he did.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, Sunshine?”

“I –I think that we need to talk about…about us,” Castiel said tentatively, bracing himself for rejection.

“Us?” Dean questioned. “What about us, Cas?”

“Well, first of all…..is….is there an us? I–I wouldn’t want to presume. I mean, I know that we just– but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are—I just want to be absolutely clear about what this is.”

“Cas,” Dean sat up with his back against the headboard and ran his hands through his hair, something he only did when he was trying to find his words, Cas remembered. This small action made Cas’ heart drop into his stomach. Dean was trying to figure out a way to let him down easily. Castiel could hear the conversation already.

Listen, Cas. This was fun, hell, it was fucking amazing, but it’s not just me that I have to worry about anymore. I have to think about how this would affect Emma too. You understand that. You’ve got Claire and Jack to look after and I can’t–I know that Emma would absolutely fall in love with you and I can’t–I can’t break her heart like that. I just don’t see us working out in the long term.

“Hey, Cas? Cas? Did you hear anything I just said? I’m kinda bearing my soul here.”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah. I heard you loud and clear, Dean. I’ll—I’ll–um– grab my stuff and get out of your hair.” Castiel threw the covers off of him and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.

“Now, where the hell are my clothes,” Castiel mumbled under his breath.

“Cas, wait. What the fuck are you doing, man?” Dean’s hand wrapped around Castiel’s wrist, keeping him from leaving the bed.

“I’m trying not to make this awkward, just let me go, Dean.” Castiel wrenched his wrist out of Dean’s grip and stood up his back still towards Dean.

“I don’t understand what’s going on right now, Cas. You’re gonna have to clue me in here, buddy. I just fucking bared my soul and told you that you are the only one for me, the one I belong with and that I have loved you for fifteen years and your response is to just fucking leave? What the actual fuck?”

Castiel made it to the doorframe before Dean’s words sank in. “What?” Castiel used the door frame to hold himself up as the full force of Dean’s words hit him like a semi-truck. “You–You love me?”

“Look at me, Cas, please.” Dean pleaded. Castiel turned around very slowly and when he met Dean’s gaze, his knees buckled and he hissed in pain as he hit the floor. Dean’s eyes, those gorgeous emerald green eyes, were shiny with tears. They were the eyes of a man about to lose the love of his life. Dean loved him, really loved him “Shit, Cas.” Dean rushed to Cas’ side on the floor. “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?” Dean’s hands fluttered over Cas.

“I’m–I’m fine Dean, I—you—really?” Castiel chuckled at their current situation, both of them stark naked sitting on the floor of Dean’s bedroom.

“Really, Cas. You didn’t hear anything I said, did you? Where’d you go?”

“I–my mind supplied what I thought was going to happen. I heard you say that it wasn’t just about you anymore, you had to think about Emma and then you said that we just wouldn’t work out.”

“Well, some of that is true, but here, you listening?” Dean placed his thumb and forefinger on Castiel’s chin and stared directly into his eyes. “What I said was, yeah. I do have to consider how this would affect Emma, just as you have to do the same for Claire and Jack, but I want to try. I always wanted more kids and it sounds like our kids, for better or for worse, are pretty similar. I think we could make this work. I want to make this work. We’ll probably have to take it slow at first, but I want to start a life with you, Castiel Novak.”

“Well then,” Castiel swallowed the lump in his throat. “I guess we should go on our first date. I don’t think this counts as a date. There’s that new storybook land that just opened near the children’s museum. I know Jack and Claire have been begging me to take them ever since it opened.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Really, Cas? Storybook land? You just had to pick someplace educational, didn’t you?”

Castiel sat up on his knees and whispered into Dean’s ear, “ Oh, I’ll teach you some things, alright.” Castiel sat back on his heels and watched the shiver run through Dean’s entire body.

“Umm…what if we had….um…..” Dean struggled to find his words. “If we invited Charlie and Gabe, then we could, maybe….you know….steal away for a moment or two.”

“Now, you’re talking.” Castiel placed both his hands on either side of Dean’s jaw and placed a light, soft kiss. As he pulled away, Castiel heard Dean whimper. “I seem to have left my overnight bag in the car, could I borrow some clothes, Dean?”

“You…you wanna wear my clothes, Cas? Fuck yes! Let’s get dressed, I’ll order some pizza and we can find something not kid-appropriate to watch on T.V.”

“Sounds good, Dean.”

 

Castiel found a worn Metallica t-shirt and a pair of green and black plaid flannel PJ pants to change into and padded into the living room. Dean had changed back into his gray sweatpants and Led Zeppelin t-shirt and was sitting on the couch flipping through the streaming services.

“Pizza should be here in about twenty minutes,” Dean called from the couch. “Have you ever seen Drag Race? Charlie forced me to watch a season and it's—it's actually really good. And the new season of All-stars just dropped. Or we could watch that new show that takes place in Montana, what’s it called? Open Sky or something, I think It’s about private detectives in Montana or Wyoming or something. The cast is pretty hot.”

“I think I have heard about that. Didn’t they introduce a new character in season two? He is very attractive.” Castiel mused.

“Alright, Drag Race it is.” Dean proclaimed.

Cas settled in between Dean’s legs on the couch, his back on Dean’s chest. They were in the middle of the lip sync for your life when the pizza arrived. Pizza in hand, Castiel slid back into his place on the couch and spent the next few hours eating pizza and arguing over which queen should have won the lip sync battle. Castiel fell off the couch after Dean shoved him because he had the nerve to say that Katya was better than Bianca Del Rio.

“They weren’t even on the same season!” Dean yelled, “Hey! I thought you said you had never watched it before?”

“I never said that Dean, you simply assumed that I had never seen it before.” Castiel pushed himself off the floor and climbed back on the couch, placing a sweet kiss on Dean’s forehead before snuggling back in between Dean’s legs and laying on his chest.

“But—” Dean tried to protest.

“Hush, now. I wanna see Michelle absolutely eviscerate Kandy Ho’s look for this challenge.”

Castiel’s heart was full: he had someone who loved him, someone who understood what it was like to be a single parent and wouldn’t make him feel guilty for putting his kids first, but even though Castiel’s heart was content, there was a corner of it that ached. It ached for the lost years. They could have had this, and Castiel could have been doing this with Dean for years, stealing weekends away and living the domestic dream during the week. But Castiel couldn’t focus on the time that they had lost, because they were together now and he wasn’t going to waste a single moment.

 

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One Year Later

Castiel and Dean had been together for almost a year: in fact, their first anniversary was tonight and Castiel was a nervous wreck. He had been working on a letter to Dean for the last week and had only re-written it about fifty times. It had to be perfect: it was the most important letter of his life, more important than the first letter he wrote to Dean, and even more important than the letter he wrote to the school board pleading his case for Claire to skip kindergarten.

Castiel poured all of his emotions into this letter. He talked about how he loved Emma like his own daughter, how all three children had become instant siblings, and much to Dean and Castiel’s chagrin, how much they were like their fathers. How much Dean meant to him and how he could never imagine his life without Dean. Castiel ran his fingers along the envelope that contained the letter; Castiel had been on edge all day, but thankfully he hadn’t had time to think about it. Dean had been called into work early and Jack had woken up with a fever. So it was his responsibility to get the girls to school and pick them up.

Somehow, it was suddenly five o’clock. In the next thirty minutes, he set up Emma and Claire with a dinner consisting of chicken nuggets and kraft mac and cheese and made sure that Jack’s fever hadn’t gone up (which it hadn’t, thank God). While the girls were eating their dinner at the table, Castiel called up his and Dean’s favorite Italian restaurant and ordered dinner to be delivered. The girls had just finished their food when Emma piped up, “Poppa, can Claire and I watch Friendship is Magic? Please!”

“Yeah, Daddy, Please! We have to see what happens to Pinkie Pie!” Claire joined in.

“Alright girls, you can watch one episode, but then I want you to start getting ready for bed and you can read until it's bedtime, okay?”

Castiel heard the closing strains of the My Little Pony theme song as the door opened and an exhausted Dean dragged himself through the door after a full day's shift at the assisted living facility where he worked and then the night class he was taking to get his Medical Assistant certification.

“How was class?” Castiel grabbed Dean’s bag off of his shoulder and laid a chaste kiss on his cheek.

“Good. Exhausting. We worked on carries tonight and I was paired up with Benny. I had to drag his ass all the way across the classroom. It felt like my arms were gonna fall off.” Dean let his head fall onto Castiel’s shoulder. “How was your day, sweetheart? How’s our boy doing?”

Castiel’s heart swelled every time Dean referred to Jack as “our boy” or “my son,” It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it made Castiel fall in love with Dean, even more, each time he referred to the twins as “his”. “They’re good. They slept most of the day, so we’ll see if they sleep through the night, but I think their fever is close to breaking.”

“And the troublemakers?” Dean peered around the half wall that divided the entryway from the living room at the two girls giggling on the couch.

“They’ve already had dinner and,” Castiel raised his voice to make sure that the girls could hear him over the T.V., “I told them that they could watch ONE episode and then had to get ready for bed.”

“Sorry, Poppa,” Emma said as Castiel heard the T.V. click off before what sounded like a herd of water buffalo stampeded into the entryway. Both Dean and Cas were nearly knocked over by the force of Claire and Emma latching onto their legs and not letting go.

“I missed you, DD. Do you have school tomorrow, too?” Castiel smiled at the nickname that Jack and Claire had given Dean. It made sense in their five-year-old logic that if Cas was Daddy, then Dean was Daddy Dean, but it was quickly shortened to DD.

Dean grabbed Claire and scooped her into his arms. “I don’t. I’m done until next week, so I get to spend my nights with you troublemakers.” Dean lifted her shirt and blew a giant raspberry on her stomach, which pulled an ear-piercing screech out of the small child.

“Okay, you two. That’s enough.” Cas shot a withering look at Dean that said You’re not helping. “Time for bed, girls. Go brush your teeth and we’ll be in to say goodnight in a few minutes.”

Castiel watched his two girls bound down the hallway towards the bathroom and suddenly had strong arms wrapped around his waist. Castiel leaned into Dean’s strong frame. “Hmm,” Castiel hummed. “You know what tonight is, right?”

“I know it’s Thursday night, but that’s about all I got, Cas. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, much less what today is.”

 

“Coffee.”

 

“What?”

 

“You didn’t have breakfast. I tried to get you to eat something, but you ran out the door with your travel mug before I could shove something down your throat.”

“I highly doubt that the breakfast table, in front of our children, no less, was the appropriate place to do that, sweetheart.” Dean hooked his chin over Castiel’s shoulder and even though he couldn’t see it, Castiel knew exactly what Dean’s face looked like.

 

“You know that’s not what I meant, Dean,” Castiel turned in Dean’s arms to kiss that stupid smirk off Dean’s face but was interrupted by a knock at the door. Castiel broke free of Dean’s hold and answered the door. He walked toward the dining room table with the large brown paper bag.

“What’s….” Dean paused, his eyes growing wide with realization. “Is that…”

“Lasagna from Pizzoli’s? Yes, yes it is. Is your memory coming back to you now?” It was Castiel that had a smirk on his face this time.

“Shit, it isn’t….no, It can’t be can it?” Dean grabbed his phone and swiped it open and there it was in big bold letters on his phone screen. ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. TONIGHT. “Shit, Cas. Now I feel like a horrible boyfriend.”

“You’ve been running yourself ragged ever since you went back to school, it's fine, Dean, besides, I know you’ll make it up to me, somehow.” Castiel raised one eyebrow seductively.

“But first, to celebrate not only our year together, but to celebrate you, Dean Winchester, I present the famous, no, the infamous lasagna from Pizzoli’s. I am so proud of you. I love you. Happy anniversary.” Castiel smiled, but his nerves betrayed him and Dean saw straight through him.

“Cas? Is something wrong?”

“No, I–I have something for you. It’s –It’s in my office. Let me go grab it.” Castiel rushed down the hall and up the stairs into his office and grabbed the envelope. He stopped inside the doorway of his office and took a long slow breath. “Now or never, Castiel. You can do this,” he told himself and proceeded back down to the dining room where Dean was sitting.

“I–here, this is for you.” Castiel handed the envelope to Dean.

“What is it Cas, this looks like….it looks like the letters you…” Dean paused as he opened the envelope and began to read the letter.

 

Dean Winchester,

When I met you freshman year of college, I had no idea the path that we would travel together. You are and always have been my best friend. I have loved you for the last twenty years. Our love has strengthened over the last year. I couldn’t imagine a life without you and Emma. I am blessed to be her “Poppa”. It took us a while to get here and while my heart aches for the time that we have lost, I refuse to waste another minute.

You are the most selfless, loyal family man I have ever met. You have taken Jack and Claire in as if they were your own and I couldn’t have asked for more in a partner. I may not get all of your pop culture references, but some of my favorite times together are just sitting on the couch watching one of your westerns, or watching the Great British Bake Off with the kids. You are so patient with Jack and when they proclaimed they didn’t feel like a boy or a girl you were gracious and loving and kind and you listened to them without a sliver of judgment. You are the best man I have ever known and knowing you has changed me. I am not the man I once was and I am so much better with you in my life. You are the missing piece of my heart. We work so well together, It’s like we belong together. I belong to you Dean, and you belong with me. You always have.

Therefore on this, our first anniversary, I cannot wait any longer to ask you this question.

Will you accept this ring and be my husband, so that we can grow old and raise our children together?

Forever Yours,

Castiel Novak

 

“Cas…” Dean’s voice trembled. “I—of course, I’ll marry you. I—god. You are too good for me, I don’t deserve you, you—Jesus, Cas. You can’t just lay that kind of thing on a guy without warning. I–”

As Dean grabbed Castiel and drew him into a passionate kiss, the letter and envelope fell from Dean’s hands and made a tinkling sound as they hit the hardwood floor. Dean released Cas from the kiss and Cas watched Dean’s eyes flutter down to where the envelope lay on the floor. Dean bent down and picked up the envelope and looked inside. Castiel’s gaze was focused on Dean’s face as he took the ring out of the envelope and ran it over in his hands. Dean’s face lit up reading the inscription on the outside of the simple gold band.

 

“If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. Cas, that’s—you used a Led Zeppelin lyric?”

 

“I thought the sentiment was appropriate. I have always loved you and I will never stop loving you, Dean Winchester.” Castiel took the ring from Dean’s hand and slipped it onto his ring finger. “You belong with me.” Castiel breathed into Dean’s ear and kissed his fiance. As his lips left Dean’s there was that stupid smirk on Dean’s face. “What? Do I have mac and cheese in my hair again?” Castiel’s hand flew up to check his hair.

 

“No, Sweetheart. I knew you were a Swiftie.”

 

“It’s your fault, you got her Fearless CD stuck in my car. It’s the only thing I’ve been listening to for the past six months.”

 

“I love you.” Dean kissed Castiel and placed his head on Cas’ shoulder.

 

“I love you too. Now, let’s go say good night to our kids, and then we will eat too much lasagna and watch the latest episode of Drag Race.”

 

“Sounds perfect, Cas.” Dean grabbed Cas’ hand intertwining his fingers with Cas’ and kissed his knuckles as they walked down the hall towards the kids’ rooms.