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A Little Patience

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Everyone can pretty much agree that Cas telling his parents that he’s dating Dean less than a week before Christmas is probably not the best of ideas. But after the talk (or should that be classified as a fight?) they had earlier in the week, Cas doesn’t want to put it off for any longer and nothing Dean has to say is stopping him.

“I’m not ashamed that I’m dating you.” He looks at Dean pointedly while he dials the number. “You were right. I should have told them sooner. I didn’t realize that not telling them would make you unhappy.”

“But it makes sense that you didn’t.” Dean shrugs. One of his knees is starting to bounce with nerves and it’s making the whole bed shake from where he’s sitting. “Like you said, you guys aren’t exactly on speaking terms right now. I understand that you didn’t. And not telling them isn’t what had me all – that was mostly me making me feel like that, y’know?”

Cas nods and finally sits next to him. He’s been pacing since he picked up his cell phone to make the call. “I know. Have you been feeling better about that since –”

Dean puts an arm around his shoulders and a kiss to his temple. “You know I have. Now let’s get this over with so we can make out to make you feel better if this call ends up upsetting you.”

That earns him a wry smile and Cas shakes his head, but he does lean into Dean’s side more. They both stare at the screen and the number displayed. Cas takes a deep breath before he hits the call button. Immediately after, Dean reaches over and taps the speaker icon. If Cas’s family is going to speak badly of him (or of Cas), then he wants to know about it. It doesn’t matter if it will probably make him feel like shit. If Cas is going to feel bad for hearing them say things, then he wants to share in that. It won’t be right for Cas to be the only one carrying the weight of their words.

The call rings a couple times before someone picks up. “Collins residence. How may I help you?” It’s a male voice and Dean is pretty damn sure that it’s not Cas’s dad. The voice doesn’t sound anywhere close to as pretentious as the asshole he met at Cas’s tournament.

Right away, Cas relaxes slightly. “Hello, Andrews. This is Castiel. I would like to speak with my mother and father. Are they both home?”

“They’re taking tea in the study. I’ll transfer you to them now, sir.”

“Thank you, Andrews.”

Music starts to play and Dean lifts his head to stare at Cas. “You have – You have an Andrews. And a study. And your parents take tea in it. You didn’t grow up in Riverdale, did you?” He knew they were well off, but he didn’t know they were the goddamn Lodge family.

“I don’t understand that reference.” Cas doesn’t take his eyes off the phone, but the corner of his mouth does crook upwards. “But yes, we have an Andrews. If by that you mean we have a butler. But we only have one and he basically manages the household. ”

“Holy shit.” One day, he’s going to have to find out what it is exactly that Cas’s dad does. Hopefully it’s not something to do with the mafia. Otherwise, he might be dead by dawn after this call.

Cas just shrugs. There’s no time for anymore chit chat because the line picks up right after that. His grip on the phone goes white knuckled, even though it’s a woman’s voice on the other side. “Mon bébé!” And Dean is quite suddenly reminded that Cas’s mom and her family are from France. “Castiel, how have you been?”

“Bonjour, maman. I’m –” He pauses and looks up at Dean with an actual smile that warms him from the inside out. “I’m doing very well. Better than I have in a long time, actually.” Dean smiles back and kisses his shoulder before Cas looks back to the phone. “I have to speak to you and father. Could you please put the phone on speaker?”

She laughs and Dean decides he likes her. Mrs. Collins has a nice laugh and she honestly sounded happy to hear from Cas. “You know I don’t know how to do that.”

“It’s the button with an image of a speaker on it, maman. All you need to do is press it then you can put the phone back on the cradle.” He waits a moment until they hear the sound of the receiver being put down. “Am I on speaker now?”

“You are.” Mrs. Collins sounds distant now. “Go ahead with whatever you need to say.”

“Hello, Castiel.”

And there’s the douchebag. Yup. He sounds as much of an asshole as Dean remembers him to be. Two words and he can already feel his mood souring. Dean squeezes Cas’s shoulders tightly, hoping to keep him from – from what? Feeling bad? Getting angry and defensive and everything else in between? All of the above sounds like a good choice.

“Hello, father. I’m calling to inform you both that I had a wonderful first semester and that I’m doing very well in all my photography classes.” Cas sounds amazingly steady, even if he’s talking faster than Dean thinks he’s ever heard him talk. “As well, I am living in the same apartment as before and I share a room with one of my roommates – though I now call him my boyfriend instead.”

It’s like ripping off a band-aid. Dean winces and waits for the outcome, and Cas does the same. His other hand is on Dean’s thigh and his grip tightens. They don’t have long to wait for an answer, and it’s not really the answer Dean was expecting. He was kind of thinking there would be shouting or crying or something along the lines of a total breakdown. What they get is the sound of a gasp and then the line going dead. They both stare at the screen until it turns off.

“Well, that was the more preferable option of what he could have done.” Cas sighs and rotates his wrist so his hand is hanging between his knees.

He’s not fooling Dean. He can hear in Cas’s voice exactly how upset he is. Even if his dad didn’t take the whole thing about no more medschool well, Cas was probably still hoping that he’d take this better since he’s had months to stew with the knowledge that Cas liked a guy. Or at least having his mother there would make him less of a dick. But it’s still disappointing that they didn’t say something. Though maybe silence is more preferable? It’s hard to tell.

All Dean can do is slide up to the top of the bed for Cas to put the phone aside and join him. It’s all too familiar a thing for them now to slot together; legs tangled and arms around each other. Cas tucks his face against Dean’s neck with a soft sigh. Now isn’t really the best time for words. Even if it was, Dean isn’t sure he’d know what to say. It’s best that he just keeps his mouth shut so he doesn’t risk making anything worse. This is enough for Cas to know that he’s here for him, hopefully.

The room is silent except for their breathing and the shuffling of the bedspread whenever they move to get more comfortable. Dean rubs a hand up and down Cas’s back every so often, trying to offer some kind of comfort. They both have today off. They made sure of it so they could make this call together and Dean is more than willing to spend the rest of today right here at Cas’s side until he’s feeling up to doing anything else again.

Neither one of them is really expecting the phone to start ringing. It’s nearly an hour later when it does and they both flinch at the piercing ringtone. God, Dean really needs to teach Cas how to change it to a song or something. Because that is kind of heart attack inducing and one of these days it might just kill someone. Cas pulls away quickly and scrambles to grab the phone where he left it near the end of the bed. It’s on the third ring when he gets it in his hands and he stares at the screen.

“It’s my parent’s number.” He whispers and Dean sits up too, watching as Cas swipes to answer it. He puts it on speakerphone right away. “Hello?”

“Castiel?” It’s his mom and Cas’s relaxes marginally, leaning into the hand Dean puts on his shoulder. “I am sorry for before, mon bébé. Your father should not have hung up on you like that. It was not right of him and I am sorry.”

Dean squeezes Cas’s shoulder and shuffles closer to his side to put an arm around his waist. So, he wasn’t wrong in thinking that Mrs. Collins was a nice lady. Only an asshole wouldn’t call back to apologize for doing that. But now comes the other dropping boot. Is she going to piss all over their parade and say she doesn’t like that Cas is dating a dude? Or is she going to accept it and be the silver lining to the storm cloud of his dumb dad?

Cas sighs and drops his head to Dean’s shoulder. “It’s fine, maman. Honestly, I was expecting him to start yelling at me.”

“It’s good that he hung up then. I have had to listen to more yelling in the last hour than I’ve had to in months.” She sighs too and Dean can hear Cas in it. Maybe Cas takes after her a lot more than he does his dad. “He only wants the best for you, mon cher, but he is not going about things in the best of ways.”

“I know that first hand, maman.” The words aren’t the greatest, but Cas is still smiling slightly. “I take it that he doesn’t approve of my choice to date Dean?”

There’s silence through the static for a while and Cas shares a worried look with Dean before his mother sighs softly. “Gabriel has told us quite a bit about your roo – about your boyfriend. I believe he has told us everything that he knows about him. And I have heard nothing but good things.”

“But father still doesn’t think he’s good enough for me.”

“No, mon cher, he does not. He had quite a bit to say about that and don’t ask me to repeat any of it, because I won’t. It wasn’t proper of him.” It’s slightly satisfying to hear the frustration in Mrs. Collins’s voice when she says that, but it’s also not so great to hear how the things Cas’s dad said can’t be repeated. “And we are both surprised to hear that you have – well – that you’re gay. That was rather unexpected for us”

Cas frowns at the phone. Apparently his dad didn’t tell his mother everything that Cas told him during their fight. He sighs and shakes his head. “I’m not gay, maman. I’m – I just like Dean. I would still feel the same for him if he were a woman. I’ve - I’m demisexual, not gay. I – I can email you some information about that if you would like to understand.”

“I would like that.”

Dean did his research about that the same day Cas told him about being demisexual. It was pretty damn surprising to find out that there were so many different types of sexuality out there. Honestly, he never knew that there were people who don’t feel sexually attracted to someone until there’s a deep emotional or romantic connection between them. It kind of made him wonder when Cas started feeling sexually attracted to him - which boils down to when their emotional connection got deep enough for him to feel like that, not that it really matters in the end. The point is that Cas feels it now and Dean is just really fucking grateful for it.

“I’m glad to hear that you’re happy, mon bébé.” Mrs. Collins continues, though she hesitates slightly. “That is what matters. I will admit that I’m – I am having trouble accepting that you are – that you have chosen to date a man. But as long as you’re happy, I’m happy.” She pauses again and Cas finds Dean’s hand to squeeze it in the silence. “I know that you will not be coming home for Christmas, but I was hoping that I could come see you and Gabriel during the new year? I would like to see Kali again, and I would like to meet your Dean.”

Cas looks to Dean again, all wide and hopeful eyes. Is he really waiting for some kind of approval from him here? He doesn’t need that. Dean nods and gives his thumbs up. He’d like to meet Mrs. Collins too if that’s something Cas is ready for. Meeting his dad was kind of unexpected and Dean maybe didn’t give the best of first impressions at that time.

“We would like that, maman.”

There’s a crash in the background and Cas’s mom sighs. “That would be your father. I should go speak with him again. I love you, mon bébé and I want you to have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. Alright?”

“I will, maman. Dean is very good to me.” He’s all smiles at him again and Dean can’t resist leaning forward to kiss him softly.

“And Cas is very good for me, ma’am.” Dean murmurs, smiling into the little kiss.

“Oh!” She gasps and bursts out laughing. “I should have known that Castiel would have had you there. I look forward to meeting you next month.”

He drops his chin to Cas’s shoulder. “And you too, ma’am. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Mr. Collins.”

“Thank you. I might hold off on telling him that until he has calmed down some.” She laughs again. “And Castiel, mon cher?”

“Yes, maman?”

“I’m putting money in your bank account as a Christmas gift and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Use it however you like, as long as you’re happy.” She laughs again and makes some kissing noises. “I miss you and I love you, mon bébé.”

Cas actually puts a hand over his mouth and Dean automatically wraps his arms around him. He can hear how he’s getting choked up when he answers her. Dean’s feeling pretty much the same too just from listening to it. “I love you too. À plus tard, maman.”

When he hangs up, Cas drops the phone and practically throws himself on Dean. It kind of reminds him of that time Cas came home from his tournament and the meeting with his dad. He’s kissing Dean back into the bed even if he’s sniffling between each one. There’s no tears, but Cas is probably close to it. No matter how much he pretends that it doesn’t bother him or acts like he’s totally okay with it, he does miss his parents – or at least he definitely misses his mom. She took everything a lot better than his father ever did.

They both work right up to Christmas Eve starting tomorrow, but Dean is absolutely ready to do his damnedest to make sure that Cas feels better by the time tomorrow comes.

*

Two days before Christmas Eve and Cas has been down in the dumps since his phone call with his mom. Sure, he’s plenty happy that he’s going to see her in the new year and she’s more accepting of things than his dad. But it’s the whole dad thing that’s got a rain cloud following him around. Dean’s done his best to distract him and make Cas smile whenever they’re together, and Gabriel has taken over that job whenever Cas is at the cafe.

Christmas and gifts and stuff might be what brings him out of his funk, but Dean is fully ready to say or do pretty much anything that’ll take his mind off of it. And he’s really only got one default thing he can think of, short of actually flying Mrs. Collins out here to spend the holidays with them. Since that’s well outside of his price range, Dean settles on something that is. Which is why he’s currently standing in a restaurant waiting for his large half-pepperoni, half-vegetarian pizza to be made and packaged to go. Cas should already be home, since his shift ended before Dean’s did.

It’s also the reason why he just sent Sam a text message. Pls leave.

He’s eyeballing the coin machine with the cheap jewelry and bouncy balls and everything when Sam finally answers. For how long?

All night. The thing is, he and Cas haven’t had much time for them lately. With the holiday season, shopping, working and having Sam (and Jess) around a lot more, they couldn’t quite do anything that would really put the bedsprings to the test. Maybe a good pillow session that leaves Cas weak in the knees will do the trick and perk him up.

You’re lucky I like Jess.

Dean outright laughs and ducks his head when a couple people in the restaurant glance at him. Ur lucky she likes U. So, Sam is going to go to Jess’s for the night. That’s fantastic. At least he has some place to go. She can always make room for him if she needs to.

If he listened hard enough, he would probably be able to hear Sam laughing from here. You’re a dick.

The grin that spreads across Dean’s face verges on malicious. If u don’t get out of the apartment ur gonna hear what I do with my dick. Actually, he’s kind of feeling a little like maybe he’ll be the one on his knees. But with the rest of the evening and all of the night available to them, there’s plenty of time for them to do it both ways.

You PIG!!! And Sam follows that up with an emoticon that looks like it’s gagging.

He has to smother another laugh as he types out his response. Oink oink motherfuckahhh.

There’s nothing from Sam after that, but the phone does ping when Dean is getting into the car. This time, it’s a message from Cas and Dean nearly chokes on his tongue when he starts laughing at it. Sam just called me Old MacDonald and left. Do you know why?

It takes him three tries before he manages to not only see the screen but type out an answer through his laughter. Ur guess is as good as mine.

When he gets home, Dean takes the baseball cap he borrowed from one of the guys at the garage and slaps it on top of his head. He makes his way upstairs with the pizza balanced in one hand. Hopefully this will help cheer Cas up a little. As long as it gets a good laugh out of him, Dean will be satisfied. If it leads to sex too – well, that’s just a bonus!

Dean doesn’t let himself in when he comes to a stop outside the apartment door. Instead of going for his keys, he knocks and waits and tries really hard not to start shuffling in excitement. It takes a good minute before Cas opens the door, and stares at him. He probably stared through the peep hole for that whole minute wondering what the hell is going on.

Cas tilts his head and narrows his eyes. “What are yo–”

“Pizza delivery!” He announces, grinning as Cas drops his arm to let him in. Dean glances around as he places the pizza on the coffee table, acting like this is the first time he’s ever seen the apartment. “Nice place. Is it yours or the people you’re sitting for?”

Slowly, Cas shuts the door. He’s still frowning at Dean in confusion. Instead of explaining things, Dean gestures at the pizza. “I guess this is all for you, huh? The kid must already be sleeping if the smell hasn’t drawn ‘em out yet.”

Understanding fills Cas’s face as soon as he says that. He bites his lip to try and hide his smile. “I – yes. The child is in bed already. Her parents will be home in a few hours.”

“That’s cool.” Dean nods and pulls the receipt out of his pocket, just to keep up the roleplay. “So that’s one half and half pizza, pepperoni and vegetarian.” He tucks the receipt away and grins. “And it’s anchovy and spanking free, I promise.”

Cas’s smile grows and he muffles a laugh under one of his hands. “Thank you. But I’m afraid that I don’t have any money to pay for this pizza.”

“Well, damn.” With a sigh, Dean takes off his hat and rubs a hand across the back of his neck. “I guess I’m going to have to take this back then. Sorry to waste your time.”

There’s a twinkle in Cas’s eye when he slides forward. It’s all Dean needs for him to know that Cas is well aware of what he’s going for. This is the doctor roleplay all over again and he’s catching on about as fast as Dean did. Unlike not being allowed to touch the doctor, the delivery boy has no problems with Cas hooking his fingers in his belt loops. And he definitely doesn’t mind getting pulled closer until they’re practically pressed against each other.

“Please don’t take the pizza. I’m really hungry.” Cas tilts his head to give Dean a sly look. “I believe that I have an alternate form of payment that you might be willing to accept, perhaps?”

Dean raises his eyebrows and slides his hands up Cas’s arms slowly, half-expecting to be pushed away for it. “Oh, really? What do you have in mind?”

“It’s awfully hot in here.” His hands slip under Dean’s jacket and up over his shoulders. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

The jacket hits the floor seconds later and Dean nearly trips over it as Cas starts backing him up towards the couch. “Yeah, I definitely agree with you there.” It’s not even remotely too hot in the apartment, but he’ll be damned if he’s going to turn down a reason for them to lose their clothes.

With one gentle push, Cas shoves Dean down onto the couch. In the same movement, he drops to his knees. His hands work quickly at undoing Dean’s belt and untucking his shirt – all without looking. Dean is kind of keeping him too busy for him to be looking down. Their kisses have the tendency to do that, and neither of them really seems to mind that too much. Opening pants is something they’re both pretty damn good at doing now and if Cas needs help, then Dean is more than willing.

But Cas is doing everything without being asked. He has no problem with pulling Dean’s jeans open or palming his cock through his boxers to get him at least half hard before he puts his mouth to work below the belt. Cas doesn’t ask for Dean to do anything for him, even though he absolutely would if he was actually able to do something from this position – and any attempt he makes only ends up getting his hands pushed away. Cas likes this and he’s not letting Dean take it from him. For some reason, he enjoys giving blowjobs and who’s Dean to stop him when he wants to do it? Besides, he’ll be able to pay Cas back in triplicate later.

As soon as Cas gets his lips on his cock, Dean leans back against the couch with a groan. God, but he’s just gotten so damn good at it. Cas knows absolutely everything that Dean likes – how tight his grip should be; where he should twist his tongue; how much he likes to be stroked versus being sucked. It’s like Cas has it down to a mathematical equation and he could easily get Dean off like this in half the time it would take anyone else. And it definitely helps that he always looks like he’s enjoying the hell out of it too. Dean never knew how important that was to him until Cas came around.

Jesus, but it just makes Dean want to kiss him all the more. Which makes it really difficult to just let him do what he’s doing. Dean can only hold out for a short while before he’s grabbing handfuls of Cas’s shirt to drag him up by his shoulders. The kisses between when Cas comes up for one and goes back down to get right back to work are never very coordinated. It’s rough and messy and so good.

They repeat that pattern until Cas is ready for more. At one point, he just doesn’t bother to go back down from the kiss. In fact, he actually tries to crawl up into Dean’s lap. And that is definitely fucking awesome. But Sam swears that if they do anything that requires one or both of them to completely remove their pants while on the couch, he’s going to piss on their bed. That is not a thing that Dean wants to deal with. Besides, the bed is a million times more comfortable than the couch for what he’s planning.

Thankfully, Cas doesn’t complain when Dean stops him from climbing up completely. It’s easy enough to distract him when he’s being kissed stupid. They stumble together toward the bedroom, tripping over their own feet and Dean’s discarded jacket. The pizza isn’t even remotely interesting to either of them right now when there’s all sorts of awesome sex to be had and kisses to be shared and touches to give and receive and it feels so awesome.

When they kick the door closed behind them, Dean pulls away from the kiss long enough to grin. “So, Cas – have you ever wanted to fuck the pizza delivery man?”

He huffs a laugh and pushes Dean’s overshirt off his shoulders. “You’ve never delivered me pizza like this before, so I can’t say that I have.” His smile ghosts across Dean’s cheek when he starts popping the buttons open on Cas’s shirt. “Have you ever wanted to have sex with the babysitter, Dean?”

“Right now?” Dean quirks his eyebrow and grins into the next kiss while he works quickly at getting Cas out of the rest of his clothing. “Hell yes.” But he can’t really remember if he wanted to fuck any of the babysitters he had while he was growing up. Granted, they were all older women who could probably have been his grandmother.

Either way, Dean is definitely in gear to let the babysitter have his way with him. His hands slide over the soft skin he’s revealing while he keeps pulling Cas back toward the bed. “Hey – hey, Mr. Babysitter.” He gets a hum in response and Dean moves his kisses to his ear. “You in the mood to top right now?”

Cas pulls back slowly and there’s a hungry edge in his eyes. He always acts like topping is some kind of special treat for him. It makes every time feel so fucking special and Dean almost laughs when Cas kisses him hard enough to send them both another few steps toward the bed. “I’d be happy to – if you’re in the mood to bottom.”

“Aren’t you lucky?” They bounce on the mattress when Dean drags Cas down after him onto the bed. They both kick their underwear off and it’s a delicious slide of skin against skin while they get comfortable. “You got free pizza and I’m in the mood.”

The smile pressed against the skin of his throat almost tickles with the way Cas dusts kisses across his collarbone. “Believe me, Mr. Delivery Man. I am unbelievably lucky.”

He says the words in a husky whisper that makes Dean’s heart lurch. God, Cas might think that, but the he’s so wrong. Dean knows for sure that he is the luckiest man in the world. How else could you explain why he’s been so – so – so fucking blessed to have Cas love him like this? Dean is definitely the lucky one in this relationship and he’s never going to be finished thanking every star in the sky for the gift that Cas is in his life.

*

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day pass in the blink of an eye. It was fucking awesome, but all Dean remembers is presents, food and laughter. He didn’t drink enough to forget anything, but everything was just so busy. There was last minute wrapping and so much cooking. Dean’s pretty sure he hasn’t cooked that much in one go in pretty much his entire life.

On the night before Christmas, they had a big dinner at Bobby’s place. He and Ellen have been friends for ages, which is kind of how Jo got interested in cars and mechanics. Naturally, the two of them were invited along to Bobby’s dinner. With Sam, Jess, Cas and Dean along for the ride, Bobby had a full house. Everyone was expected to bring a dish of their own. Kind of like a potluck. And that means that Dean did all the cooking for everything that Cas and Sam had signed up to bring because neither of them is as good at it as he is.

A full house and good food meant lots of laughter and a good time. That carried over into Christmas day. While Sam went with Jess to her parent’s place for dinner, Dean went with Cas to Gabriel and Kali’s place. He won’t say that it was awkward, but it was kind of weird to actually spend an evening with Gabe that didn’t involve jeering comments thrown at each other through a kitchen or car window. That said, actually meeting Kali was pretty nice.

The most awkward part of the night for him was when Mrs. Collins called to wish everyone a happy holidays and Dean could barely manage more than a ‘hi’. She was calling to talk to her sons – and Kali because she knows her a hell of a lot better than she knows Dean. Not that she didn’t want to say hi to him. She did have a few questions for him, but Dean could only give one word answers, really. It basically meant that he spent the entirety of the call sitting next to Cas and holding his hand hoping that the call wouldn’t make him sulky like the last phone call with her did.

Honestly, it went really well and Cas was just as happy at the end of it as he was at the beginning. He spent the entire holiday smiling and basically attached to Dean at the hip. Cas helped in the kitchen when Dean was cooking and he helped with wrapping everything that wasn’t his. They even wore semi-matching outfits for both dinners like a dork couple and Dean fucking loved it. Neither of them could have asked for a better Christmas.

And the awesome gifts didn’t hurt any either. Dean got pretty much everything on Sam’s list that was within his budget and everyone else liked their cards and booze. Cas though, Dean wasn’t sure if he got something he really liked, but he definitely tried. With Cas’s pending internship in half a year, Dean figured a leather-bound reuseable day planner would be a good gift. And he can always cheap out on future Christmas gifts by buying him replacement pages for the coming year. Besides, Cas always has preferred a hard copy than doing everything on his phone like Sam does.

Now that Cas has a thing where he can keep track of his schedule without using his big brain, Dean has been trying really hard to figure out a way to get both of their work schedules synced. They only had a handful of shifts each between Christmas and New Years, but at least they have the next few days off together. Somehow someone managed to convince Crowley to actually close the café while he’s out of town for New Years and Cas actually has these days off too.

But Dean officially has had it with being unsynced. Today takes the cake. It’s the last straw and it and damn well guarantees that he is going to be texting Bobby tonight begging for a week by week schedule to match Cas’s as best as is actually possible given the difference in their shop hours.

See, if Dean had finished work at the same time as Cas a few hours ago, then Cas wouldn’t have had to bus home today. If Cas hadn’t taken the bus, then he wouldn’t have walked past a certain specific store that just so happens to be around the corner from them while also being on his route home from the bus stop. If he hadn’t walked past the shop, Dean wouldn’t be walking into their apartment wondering why the hell it smells like cedar chips.

His apartment smells different and Dean doesn’t know what to do about it. He stands in the entrance with the door propped open against his foot, squinting around the living room. Where is the smell coming from? What made it? Whose fault is it? Did Dean knock over a bottle of cologne this morning before he left or did Sam do something or was it Cas?

Dean only has all of ten seconds to think about it before Cas is shouting at him from the kitchen. “Shut the door, Dean!”

It’s the kind of tone that leaves no room for argument and Dean quickly steps into the apartment. He slams the door behind himself and leans around the corner to check what’s going on. His first thought is maybe Cas is naked and he doesn’t want to risk someone seeing him. But the fact that he’s still wearing the same outfit from the morning negates that thought the instant Dean sees him. Cas is currently crouched in the corner of the kitchen, fussing with something by the cupboards.

He steps back to kick off his shoes and hang his coat up. “What’s going on, Ca –” Dean stops mid-sentence. A flash of white on the floor just caught his eye. “What the fuck is that?!”

Something small and white and furry is scuttling across the floor and it’s heading right for him. He drops his coat and while his heart leaps into his throat (surprise, it’s totally just surprise), he jumps across the living room and right up onto the couch. Not once does Dean actually look away from that – that whatever it is. Rat? Brain eating fur-slug? Tribble? Yeah, it could totally be a tribble. It definitely looks like one, at least. But what the hell is it doing scampering across his living room?

The tribble manages to make it under the coffee table and across the living room to the other wall by the time Cas makes it out of the kitchen. It’s squeaking and snuffling along the baseboard and Dean isn’t scared of it. He’s just surprised and caught off guard and – and – and Cas has some explaining to do. A could place to start would be why he’s holding one of those giant clear balls that you put rodents in. And he should explain why there’s another black and white tribble inside of it.

“What the hell, Cas?” Dean hisses as the ball is shoved into his hands.

Cas ignores the question. “They are much faster than I thought they were.” He has a dish towel folded over his arm and he uses that like a pillow to scoop the other tribble up on. “I was not expecting him to crawl off my lap so quickly.”

“Him who?” It’s hard not to jostle the ball while he slides down to sit on the couch properly instead of being kind of perched on the back of it like an awkward bird. “Where did these come from and what’s going on, Cas?”

When he turns around to face Dean, Cas looks guilty. He also looks hopeful and that spells out trouble. “Well –” Cas clears his throat and cradles the towel and the tribble in his arms. “I was walking home from the bus stop, and I passed the pet shop.”

The math is adding itself up in Dean’s head and he closes his eyes with a sigh. That doesn’t stop Cas from continuing. “The store’s front window was full of them and they were on sale. I – They were just so cute, Dean. And I – I wasn’t allowed pets as a kid because of the boarding schools and I’ve always wanted a cat or a dog or a rabbit or even just a fish.” He sits down next to Dean slowly with the world’s most pitiful puppy eyes. “I tried calling you, but –”

“My phone is dead.” Dean groans and drops his head against the back of the couch.

He got a little distracted last night when his bedtime routine had been interrupted by an exceptionally affectionate boyfriend – not that he’s complaining. But the damn thing had been out of juice a few hours before the end of his shift and he didn’t have a spare charger. It didn’t seem important enough to ask anyone if they had one he could borrow when he was just going to be home in a few hours. Besides if there were any emergencies, he could always be reached at the garage.

Cas starts stroking the tribble in his lap, smoothing down its wild white fur. “So – I called Sam and he said that it would be fine as long as I don’t allow their cage to get too smelly. And mother gave me more money than she really should have and I used some of it to buy two because the internet said they’re social herd animals and it would be better for them.”

Dean rubs a hand over his face and ignores the sound of the claws skittering on the inside of the ball sitting in his lap. “What else did the internet tell you to get?”

“A cage, bedding, brushes, food and dishes for it, a water bottle, a hut, and treats.” He lists them out like he was waiting for the question. Which he probably has. Dean wouldn’t put it past Cas to have been preparing an argument for this since he saw the sign in the window. “I had to make a few trips to get it all here, but I got everything that was recommended for their care and I’m still reading up on it. I promise I’ll take care of everything and I’ll clean their cage often so it won’t smell.”

It’s a heavy silence that follows – except for the squeaking shuffle of the tribbles. Cas is probably waiting for Dean to tell him that he needs to take them back. Which he’s not going to, because even if Cas had called him and they talked about it on the phone before hand, Dean probably still would have said yes. When has he ever been able to deny Cas anything? Besides, he’s not against pets. Just cats. And that’s only because they make him sneeze like it’s going out of style or something. Plus, their rental agreement only allows for caged animals. Dogs and cats aren’t allowed.

“Dean?” Cas asks quietly as he exchanges the tribble on the towel for the tribble in the ball.

He looks down at the white fluffball in his lap. The black and white one in the ball is all smooth looking but this one’s fur is longer and going in all directions. It is kind of cute, even if he’s pretty indifferent to the owning of a pet. Dean looks over his shoulder, wondering where Cas put all the tribble crap and hoping that it’s not in their bedroom. Mercifully, the cage and everything Cas bought is sitting on the floor between their bedroom door and the side of the bookcase. Jesus Christ that is a fucking huge cage. As soon as the Christmas tree is down, Dean is going to shove it in the corner.

“So…” Dean looks down at the tribble in his lap. “We have guinea pigs now.” The white one is holding perfectly still, but its little nose is twitching like crazy.

It’s not even necessary to look to see how big Cas’s smile is. “We do.” He opens the ball and the black and white tribble sniffs its way out of the hole, stepping out into his lap slowly. Immediately, Cas scoops it up and basically cuddles it against his cheek. “Aren’t they cute? I know it was an impulse buy, but it’s one I don’t regret doing.”

Well, he’s kind of right. They are pretty cute – for rodents. And the pigs get bonus points for one of them looking like an honest to goodness tribble from Star Trek. It would be nice to have a pet, actually. Guinea pigs might not have been the first kind he would have gone for, but they’re better than the goldfish he and Sam managed to keep alive for a few months at their old apartment. As long as he’s not the one in charge of taking care of them – though he’ll definitely help if Cas needs it – then he figures that it should be okay to keep the little rugrats.

The white one squeaks quietly when Dean scratches lightly behind its ears, feeling out how soft and velvety they are. “Did you already name them?”

Cas side-eyes Dean with a sly smile. “I did.”

“Care to let me in on the secret?” He laughs and leans over to get his welcome home kiss.

Leaning to the side makes the tribble in his lap squeal and Dean sits straight again after he gets his kiss. It only makes Cas smile more and he reaches over to pet the tribble. “This one is Albert Einstein.”

Well, that makes sense. It has the crazy white hair that just screams Einstein at him. “But what about that one?” Dean gestures at the one currently trying to find its way over Cas’s shoulder, intent on exploring the back of the couch.

“This one is –” Cas pauses to relocate the tribble to his lap. “This one is Led Zeppelin.”

Dean does a double take. Did Cas really just say that he named one of their new pets after one of Dean’s all time favourite bands? Did he really? Going by the smug little smile Cas is directing his way, he knows exactly what he’s done. The fact that Cas actually knows his favourite band makes Dean’s stomach do flips of the happy varienty. Now, if only he had the same knowledge of Cas.

Of course, he’s tried to find out but Cas just doesn’t have a favourite band. He listens to pretty much every genre of music in existence and when Dean asks about his favourite song or singer or band, Cas never has an answer for it. In all the time that they’ve been living together, Dean’s never even heard him play the same song twice. Just like he claims he doesn’t have a favourite colour, or favourite book, or favourite movie. He’s one of those people who don’t do favourites. It’s understandable and acceptable, and drives Dean crazy because he’s never dated someone like this before.

But he only needs to deal with that when it comes to getting Cas gifts and shit. What he’s having trouble with right now is trying not to feel like he should be doing cartwheels over the fact that Cas named a rodent after his favourite band. He’s maybe a little too happy about it, but whatever. Nobody needs to know about it.

When he bumps his shoulder against Cas’s, both Zeppelin and Einstein squeal. “Marry me, Cas.”

A blush spreads across Cas’s cheeks and he ducks his head, trying to hide it and how his smile goes from a smug smile to a smug grin. “Perhaps.” He picks Zeppelin up and holds him out to Dean. “If you allow me get ten more.”

Dean snorts and puts his finger under one of Zeppelin's little paws in a mockery of a handshake before Cas puts him down again. “Let me guess – That’s how many were left at the pet store?” The guilty smile is all he needs as an answer and he laughs. “I’ll think about it.” Which means hell no. Two is cute, but twelve is too many.

At least Cas still smiles and he passes Dean the remote. TV and bonding with their new pets? Sounds like a good time for everyone involved – unless the pets would rather be on the floor. But right now they seem more or less content to be petted in their respective laps. Dean leans into Cas’s side when they settle on a Netflix series they both enjoy. He likes the contact of having Cas touching him somewhere and he’s well aware that he’s not the only one.

Everything is going great – until about ten minutes later.

“Hey, Cas?”

“Yes, Dean?” He turns his head to look at him and Dean points down at the white tribble sitting on the very thin dish towel across his thighs.

“Albert Einstein just peed in my lap.”

*

Has there ever been a better New Years eve than this? Honestly, Dean can’t think of one. Every other year, he would normally have gone out and gotten drunk with his friends. He’s had some great parties like that with them, but those nights just don’t feel as fucking amazing as this one. Those were loud and full of all sorts of booze. The things with Sam were always quiet and nice – and this is quiet too but it’s reached a level well beyond simply nice. There is no actual word in all of existence for how peaceful tonight is.

It started with Cas, Sam, and Jess, and a dinner full of Winchester traditional comfort foods to kick the year off right. They had home made burgers, mac and cheese, spaghettios, hot cocoa, and beer. To be honest, Dean was more excited for the cocoa than he was for the beer. Sam has perfected how mom used to make it, right down to the cocoa and marshmallow ratio. It’s pretty much the only reason he keeps Sam around any more. Obviously.

So, dinner was amazing and they all ate until they couldn’t eat anymore. Then Jess and Sam took off to go to some party somewhere. Dean and Cas had plenty of invites of their own from Chuck, Victor, Benny, Jo, and pretty much everyone that either of them knows. Funny enough, all of the invites Dean’s friends gave him were for the same party. The ones that Cas got from his school friends were to a couple different ones. It hadn’t taken much discussion between them to come to the understanding that they both would rather bring in the new year together in the comfort of their home than anywhere else.

Actually, Cas had first said that he would go anywhere that Dean wanted to go. But that wouldn’t have been fair to him. Dean knows that Cas just isn’t into loud parties full of booze and drunken friends. Given the choice between going out and one of them being uncomfortable or staying home and both of them being comfortable, it’s kind of a no brainer. He knew he made the right decision when Cas actually suggested, after Sam and Jess had left, that they should continue a Star Wars marathonthey started before all the holiday shit got in the way.

Besides, there’s always pretty much every damn party that’s going to happen between now and next year for either of them to go to. He’s not going to be missing anything new. Because this – this is fucking awesome. Yeah. Absolutely nothing is better than this. No one could ever convince him that anything is better than having Cas resting on top of him with his cheek pillowed on his chest while they snuggle underneath his old blanket on the couch.

The lights are off and it’s just the TV glow and them and familiar, awesome movies. Perfection. And there’s not a damn thing that Dean would change. Okay, maybe there is one thing. If he had to change anything, it would be to stop himself from being a chicken shit.

It’s been one month. They’ve been dating for a whole damn month, and only a month, and already Dean wants to drop the L-bomb. Family will get hit with that when Dean feels like saying it, as long as it doesn’t make anything feel awkward or whatever. Relationships are a whole different matter. When it comes to relationships, Dean only says it when he means it. Which is why he’s holding back now. He most definitely loves Cas – probably more than he has anyone else – but he just can’t say it. Not first. Not now. Not after the times he was burned by it before.

Any romantic partner Dean has said it to before has left him. Granted, he’s only been in one actual relationship where he felt strongly enough for him to say it, but Cassie didn’t make Dean feel nearly as good as Cas does. He loved her and he loved Lisa too, even if he never said it to her, but it wasn’t like this. Cas is – he’s so fucking special. He’s the guy that Dean crushed on for over a year when he thought he was a teacher. When he found out Cas was underage, Dean forced himself to move on but that crushing was still there, buzzing in the background because even though he moved on he still stayed in daily contact through text message and still saw Cas through all of his junior and senior years at the café. Cas is the guy who went from crush, to friend, to roommate, to best friend, to boyfriend.

He is everything that brought them to here. And that’s why it scares the fuck out of Dean to be the first to say anything. What if he says it and Cas ends up leaving him just like Cassie did? But what if he doesn’t say it and then Cas ends up leaving like Lisa? God, but he should say it. He feels it so he should, right? The only reason he’s not is because he’s scared of losing Cas, right? That’s – it’s normal to feel like that, right?

Besides, it feels like they’ve been dating for a hell of a lot longer than just a month. How long has Dean had feelings for Cas? And how long has Cas had feelings for him? Both of them were probably feeling things (whether Dean knew it or not) before they started sleeping together. So that should – that should even out the whole ‘too soon’ thing, shouldn’t it? Yeah, probably. Maybe. Dean is about ninety percent sure – more or less.

Well, fine. His mind is made up now. He will say it. Now he just needs to kinda figure out a when. That’s the next logical step. He’s crazy about Cas and it’s not fair that he hasn’t told him. Cas should know. After how much of Dean’s shit he’s been put through, he needs to know.

Is there ever going to be a time when his brain doesn’t get in the way of everything? Well, at least this time he knows for certain that he is definitely going to say something to Cas. All he has to figure out is the when. Because he needs the right time – the perfect time. That right there is all sorts of impossible because every moment with Cas feels like the right time. Honestly, he could probably tell Cas he loves him while they’re cleaning the tribble cage or something and Cas would think it was the greatest thing in the whole damn world.

New Years Eve would be pretty memorable, wouldn’t it? He could confess at midnight and start the New Year off with Cas (hopefully) being ridiculously happy. That sounds like a good plan. Hopefully he’ll stick to it. At least he won’t have the movie to blame if he doesn’t. They managed to time things perfectly with starting it so that it’ll be ending with minutes to spare so they can watch the festivities. It’s no doubt in either of their minds that Dean’s nearly obsessive knowledge about the movie helped with the timing. After all, he knows the whole damn series by heart and can quote along with pretty much everything.

Actually – that’s one of his ‘annoying habits’ that Sam has lectured him about before. It’s why he cuts down to only quoting iconic lines every once in a while. Cas never seems to mind and he usually huffs his quiet little laugh whenever Dean does it. But the absolute best thing about watching some of his favourite movies with Cas is that they’ve reached the point where Cas has seen most of them now too – and he actually likes them. Not only that, but his big brain only needs to see it once for him to be able to quote along too. He may not do it as often as Dean does, but he laughs every time Cas quotes something back from the same scene or beats him to the line.

As the clock keeps ticking closer to midnight, Dean starts paying less and less attention to the movie. He’s barely even aware of what’s happening on screen. Bad things to the good guys, probably. It is The Empire Strikes Back, after all. Han Solo is going to get frozen in carbonite, Calrissian is going to feel like a douche, and Luke is going to lose his hand. They’re all things that happen and Dean has seen them more times than he cares to count. So, really, it’s understandable that he’s following the movie without really following the movie.

Despite that, he’s still not expecting Cas to quote Princess Leia while Han is being lowered into the carbonite pit. “I love you.”

The words are a soft rumble that nearly gets lost in the fabric of Dean’s shirt and the blanket pulled almost up to Cas’s ears. Dean hears it and answers, quoting back Han’s line without a second thought because it’s just a quote, right? “I know.”

It’s not just a quote. Cas is literally laying on top of him and Dean can tell without a shadow of a doubt that he’s stopped breathing. He’s gone still in that way that he does when he’s said something and he’s waiting to see if Dean understands – or if he’s going to freak out. The gears are turning as Dean realizes exactly what they both said. It may have been movie quotes, but they still said it. If it was just quotes then Cas wouldn’t be holding himself like he’s ready to pull away if Dean needs space.

This is it. Cas beat him to it. Out of all the moments in this scene he could have quoted, Cas chose that line. He knew exactly what he was doing and he still did it. Was he just as scared to do it as Dean is? Why didn’t Dean ever stop to think that Cas might be the first to take the L-bomb plunge? No. This isn’t the time to be thinking about that. It doesn’t matter in the long run anyways. Important things where just said and Dean grabs the remote control from the back of the couch to pause the movie. They don’t need any interruptions.

As soon as Dean lifts his head from the pillow and shuffles back enough to see him, Cas pushes himself up too. But it takes a minute for him to actually look at Dean. When he does, his eyes are wide in the way that they get when he’s nervous – when he’s worried. It may be a cute look, but Dean hates seeing it on his face. There’s nothing to be worried about here. Cas didn’t fuck anything up. If anything, he took something that Dean was struggling with and he fixed it.

Dean’s smile starts slow, but once it does, he can’t stop. There’s a happy, light, burning feeling in his chest and he can’t stop fucking smiling because of it. Cas loves him. He loves him. And it has never felt so good to be loved.

The worry melts right off Cas’s face as Dean drifts a palm against his cheek. A matching smile is already spreading on his lips and a small tug is more than enough to get Cas to lean forward for a soft kiss. It doesn’t look like he cares whether or not Dean says the words themselves. They’re there, regardless of Dean’s issues with tripping over them. He might not be able to say them now, but he’ll be able to eventually. It doesn’t change what he feels for Cas.

“I know.” He repeats firmly between a kiss, his arms sliding around Cas to pull him closer. They’ve never done things conventionally before. Why should this be any different?

“I know too.” Cas murmurs into the kiss and melts against him with a happy sigh.

By the time the clock strikes twelve, they still haven’t stopped kissing. Cheers can be heard on the streets outside and there are fireworks going off in the distance. They have nothing on the pyrotechnics currently rocketing around inside Dean’s chest or the way Cas smiles whenever they pull apart to breathe. Nothing can compare to it and Dean wouldn’t trade this moment for the world.

He was right.

There really is no better way to bring in the New Year than this.