Dean's only been at Sonny's for a couple of weeks, barely enough time to find his feet, when he arrives.
Here's the thing about Dean. At sixteen, he's only just getting past that awkward part of puberty into a more attractive kind of manhood, and all the moving around with his dad means that he's never had the chance to get close enough to a girl to really get anywhere. He's never even kissed one, for crying out loud, and he suspects that living in a house full of surly teen boys sharing rooms isn't exactly the fast track to change that. The only girl he's even seen around here is that cute chick who comes in with her mom, the lady who teaches the boys guitar after school, but he'd barely had the chance to say hi to her when he arrived at Sonny's door.
Castiel isn't like the other boys here. He's super polite, barely says a word, doesn't swear, somehow always has neatly pressed button-down shirts and slacks, and combs his hair down into the very image of the perfect choir boy. In short, Castiel doesn't belong at a place like Sonny's with all the rough and tumble boys like Dean. The rumours immediately start flying about why he's in, but nobody actually knows for sure.
Dean has probably spoken more to Castiel than anyone else. His bed is next to the wall, a coveted spot that he'd won in a bet, and Castiel was put in the next bed along, so they wish each other a good night and a good morning and occasionally make the smallest of small talk. It's not much, but it's more than what Castiel exchanges with anyone else, so it makes Dean feel kind of special. One day Dean calls him Cas instead of Castiel, and the little smile and blush on Castiel's face makes Dean feel even more special, and he calls him Cas from then on.
They're in the same year at the local high school, but while Dean puts on the brash and outgoing persona, joining the wrestling team and wearing a leather jacket, Cas just wears his choir boy clothes and does his homework, doing his best to be completely invisible in the hallways. He gets straight As and never gets in trouble, and Dean wonders for the millionth time how Cas ended up at Sonny's.
He starts to get an inkling when he rescues Cas from some bullies at school. They're pushing him around and calling him a fag, but like the cowards they are, they run away as soon as Dean puts one of them in headlock until his face turns purple. Afterwards, he tries to comfort Cas by telling him he's not what they were calling him, but instead of being grateful for that, Cas just gets angry and pushes Dean aside so he can stomp off. That seems like a weird reaction, almost like Cas was admitting to being-
That would explain it, if Cas came from a conservative family. Judging by the rest of his behaviour, he probably did, so if they had found out that he likes guys… well, Dean can now imagine why Cas had ended up at Sonny's. It makes him angry when he thinks about it. Cas is obviously every parent's dream, but because of that one thing which he can't even do anything about- not that he should need to do anything about it, there's nothing wrong with it, Dean thinks to himself- his parents put him into the system with delinquents like Dean. That's just bullshit.
Cas goes to bed early that night, and Dean follows right after him to apologise for the earlier misunderstanding. He clarifies that he meant Cas didn't deserve to be called names, not that there is anything wrong with being gay or anything. Cas gives him a little smile and thanks him, and Dean feels like a huge weight has come off his shoulders. He hadn't even realised how much he hated the idea of Cas being mad at him.
Cas announces that he's going to get ready for bed, which seems kind of weird, so Dean doesn't really react in any way. Cas gives a little shrug and starts unbuttoning his shirt, and that's when Dean realises why Cas mentioned it. He was giving Dean the opportunity to leave in case he felt uncomfortable being in the same room as a gay guy taking his clothes off. Luckily Dean doesn't care at all, because he's totally not homophobic like Cas's douchebag parents. In fact, he figures he may as well get ready for bed too, and maybe they can talk for a little while before lights out.
He sits on his bed to untie his shoes, and when he looks up again, Cas's shirt is hanging open while he slips off the nerdy loafers he always wears. Dean catches a glimpse of the slim waist and flat stomach Cas has been hiding under the slightly oversized cotton, and something unexpected happens.
A couple of things, in fact.
Dean's mouth goes dry. Really dry. Maybe all his saliva evaporated from the heat of the blush that he can suddenly feel on his neck and cheeks. How he's got enough blood for that to happen, he has no clue, because he could have sworn that he felt it all rush right to his dick the second he saw Cas's navel.
'Gonna go brush my teeth,' Dean mumbles before sprinting to the bathroom and locking the door. One look in the big bathroom mirror confirms that he's red as a tomato and straining his jeans. He takes deep breaths and think of the grossest stuff he can imagine to bring his erection down, but it still takes long enough that Cas knocks on the door to check on him.
'Dean, are you OK?' he asks softly, and dammit, Dean half chubs up again at the sound of his voice.
'Fine, be right out!' he shouts back, and quickly goes through his ablutions. 'All yours,' he says when he opens the door, hurrying past Cas without raising his head. He can feel more than see the tilt of Cas's head as he tries to figure out what's going on with Dean, but luckily he doesn’t say anything before going into the bathroom himself.
With a sigh of relief, Dean quickly changes into his pyjamas and rolls onto his side to face the wall. This can't be happening. He can't be into dudes. He's a tough guy: he shoplifts (well, that's what landed him here, anyway, even though he was just stealing peanut butter and bread to feed Sammy), he smokes and drinks (well, he accepts the occasional cigarette and swig of cheap whiskey from the rough guys at school to keep them from thinking he's a pussy, even though he doesn't really like it that much), and he's a jock, for fuck's sake (well, he's a wrestler, which now that he thinks about it involves wearing a spandex onesie and rolling around on the floor with another dude, oh god). He's not supposed to pop boners because of other dudes. He's not supposed to be into dudes.
Especially not Cas. Castiel. The prissy little choir boy who spends all his time studying and ironing his stupid clothes and combing down his hair because he always wakes up with it looking all wild like he spent all night being fucked and looking at Dean with his big blue soulful eyes and licking his plush, pink, always slightly chapped lips and oh fuck, Dean is into dudes. Dean is into dudes, and he's especially into Cas, and after what happened today, there's no way he can tell him that without seeming like a creep. Can he?
He hears Cas come back into the room and climb into bed. He wants to pretend to be asleep, but he also really wants to talk to Cas some more. The latter urge wins out, and he rolls over to find Cas facing him and looking worried.
'Do you want me to ask Sonny to move me to another bed?' Cas blurts out.
'Why would I want you to do that?'
'Because… because of what you know about me.' Cas looks sad and scared, and Dean hates that Cas feels that way.
'Dude, no way!' he replies vehemently and maybe a little too loudly. 'You're my friend. I don't care about that.' The way Cas's eyes glow when he smiles makes Dean feel gooey inside. It makes him feel either brave or stupid, he's not sure which, because then he says, 'Anyway, I think I'm kinda that way too. Maybe. A bit.'
'A bit?' Cas asks with a confused head tilt. 'How can you be a bit…' he whispers the last word, 'gay?'
'Um,' Dean says uncomfortably, squirming a bit under the covers, 'I think I still like girls too. But also dudes. I'm pretty sure that's a thing.'
'Oh!' Cas's eyes grow wide with surprise. 'That's interesting. How long have you known you were like that?'
'Uh, not very long.' Understatement of the century, Dean adds to himself. 'You?'
'A few years. But I never told anyone, because my family… my dad is a preacher, and he didn't have nice things to say about people like me. I figured I'd just stay chaste and it would be OK.'
'But you're here,' Dean says, 'so I'm guessing that didn't work?'
Cas shakes his head with a sad smile. 'There was a really cute exchange student at my school. He always flirted with me, but I never responded. Then it was time for him to go back to England, and he asked me for one kiss goodbye. Of course, we got caught and… well, it was fine for Bal, but my parents were called and a few days later I was here.'
'It was either this or a conversion therapy camp. I did some research and decided to take my chances in the system.'
'What's conversion therapy?' That doesn't sound very nice.
'It's where people try to make you not gay. The methods sounded unpleasant.' Cas twists his face in a way that makes Dean think unpleasant is a huge understatement.
'Well, I'm glad you're here with us delinquents then,' he jokes, and his stomach starts flip-flopping when Cas gives him a sweet, tiny smile that makes his eyes go all soft.
'You're not a delinquent, Dean. You like to play the tough guy, but I know you're a good person.'
Dean blushes, his lip quirking up at the corner against his will. 'Shut up,' he replies, but there's no heat in it, and Cas's smile doesn't go away. 'G'night, Cas.'
After that, Dean and Cas hang out a lot more often, even at school. Dean sees the bullies side-eyeing them, but he just has to tilt his chin and crack his knuckles for them to turn away. It probably helps that he's been completely crushing it on the wrestling team and is on his way to the regional championship at the end of the semester.
What he's not on his way to is the school's winter dance, because he doesn't want to go with any of the girls who ask him, and he doesn't think he's quite brave enough to ask Cas to be his date. They're in the cafeteria having lunch a few days before the dance when the head cheerleader, a classic mean girl type named Abby, saunters over and sits next to Dean.
'I'm going to do you a favour, Winchester,' she says, running a long fingernail down his cheek. 'I'm going to let you take me to the winter dance.'
'How is that a favour?' Dean asks.
'Besides all this?' she says, indicating her entire self. 'How about because it'll put to rest all those pesky little rumours about you and your…' she looks Cas up and down with a glare of distaste, 'friend.'
Cas blanches and scrambles to his feet, sprinting away before Dean can say a word. 'Dream on, sweetheart,' Dean sneers as he gets to his feet. 'I don't go out with bitches.'
Abby laughs coldly. 'No, I guess you just are one.'
Dean doesn't give a shit what she thinks. He walks out with his middle finger in the air, and as soon as he's in the hall, he takes off running to try and find Cas. His athleticism means he can catch up to his friend just as he's about to close the door of a janitor's closet.
'Cas, wait!' he says, grabbing the door and following him inside. Cas already switched the light on, so Dean shuts the door and locks it so they won't be disturbed. 'Hey, why'd you run off like that?' he asks gently.
'I thought you'd want some privacy with Abby,' Cas mutters, avoiding Dean's eyes.
'Dude, it was the middle of the cafeteria. You're a terrible liar.'
Castiel bites his lip and turns around. 'I just… I didn't want to be there when you told her it wasn't like that.'
'Like she was implying… between us.'
'I didn't say anything about us. I just told her I don't go out with bitches and left.'
Cas turns around, eyes shining with tears but looking kinda… hopeful, maybe? 'You didn't tell her that you and I aren't… you know?'
'No. I don't care what she thinks.' Dean isn't sure exactly what's going on in this conversation, but his stomach is doing somersaults for some reason.
Cas takes a step closer. 'But other people might think we're, um, "together" too,' he says, with the dorky air quotes and everything. Dean's heart pounds as he starts to catch Cas's drift, but he manages to shrug nonchalantly.
'You don't mind?' Yeah, that's definitely hope on his face, and Dean knows he has to be very careful about his next words.
'Makes me look pretty good if people think I can bag the cutest boy in the whole school,' he says with his charm turned up to eleven.
Cas's eyes widen. 'You think I'm the cutest boy in the whole school?'
'Besides me, of course,' he grins, but that gets wiped right off his face when Cas pushes him up against the door.
'You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,' Cas practically growls. 'I want you more than words can say.' To prove his point, he pushes his hips against Dean for a wordless demonstration of his desire. Dean bites his lip and lets his head fall back with a thud against the door. He hopes the situation in his jeans is obvious enough to tell Cas that he feels the same way, because words are failing him right now. 'You know, all the other guys in our room are going to the dance,' Cas says unexpectedly.
'You saying you want to go to the dance with me?'
'No. I'm saying the room will be empty on Friday night.' His eyes darken, and Dean absolutely can't mistake his meaning.
'Fuck,' he replies, voice rough with arousal. 'Yeah, staying home sounds good.' He stares at Cas and Cas stares at him and he's pretty sure they're about to kiss and then the fucking door handle rattles. Cas steps back so Dean does the same, and then unlocks the door before the janitor can get too suspicious.
'What are you doing in there?' the grouchy old man asks with a suspicious squint.
'I'm sorry, Rufus, I was getting bullied again,' Cas replies, his face looking mournful. 'Dean was making sure I was OK.' Dean just nods, stunned that Cas even knows the guy's name.
Rufus's face turns almost soft as he pats Cas on the shoulder. 'All right, little guy. Just don't lock the door, OK?'
'I promise. Thanks, Rufus.' Cas grabs Dean's wrist and pulls him out of the closet and down the hall.
'You're on a first-name basis with the janitor?' Dean asks when they finally stop in a quiet corner.
'Yes. He's caught me hiding more times than I can count. He's a very nice man when you get to know him. Although I'm very annoyed with him right now.'
'Because… well, I thought… I was maybe hoping that we were…' He looks at Dean with those big blue eyes, and another part of Dean's insides turns into goo.
'I thought so, too' Dean admits, 'but maybe it's good that we didn't.'
'Oh,' Cas deflates, 'yes, probably.'
Dean tilts Cas's chin up with his index finger. 'I want our first kiss to be somewhere nicer than a janitor's closet.' The way Cas grins makes Dean happier than pretty much anything else he's ever seen.
Unfortunately, the bell rings and they have to go to their respective classes, and a variety of annoying circumstances means they don't get time alone again until Friday night. It seems to take forever for all the other guys in their room to get themselves ready in a haze of hair gel and Axe body spray, and another few minutes for them to get teased for not going, but then Sonny yells at them all to get their asses downstairs and into the van, and they're finally alone.
Dean sits on his bed, smiling apprehensively at Cas, who sits on his own bed looking just as nervous. 'So, uh, guess it's just us,' Dean says. 'What do you want to do?'
Cas gets up so he can sit next to Dean. 'Is this a more salubrious venue for you?'
'A what now?'
'Is this better than a janitor's closet?' Cas rephrases with a grin.
'Oh. Yeah, totally,' Dean chuckles, but they still don't move.
'I hope I won't disappoint you,' Cas says with a blush. 'I'm sure you've been with much more experienced people than me.'
'Uh… what do you mean been with?'
'I, um, well, I assumed that you… I mean, you're so handsome, I'm sure girls throw themselves at you. I'm not judging!' he adds hastily. 'I don't mind that you're more experienced.'
Dean laughs so hard that tears run down his face. 'Dude,' he gasps as he gets his breath back, 'you're the one who's more experienced. I've never even kissed anybody.'
'What?' Cas gapes. 'But… but you're so… hot!'
'And I also never stayed in one place for longer than a month before I came to Sonny's, and I was always with my dad and little brother. Not a lot of time for romance,' Dean shrugs. 'If that makes me too much of a loser for you-'
Cas interrupts Dean's self-loathing by pressing their lips together. After his initial surprise, Dean melts into it, burying his fingers into Cas's hair to mess it up like he's always wanted. The kiss is a little awkward at first, a little too much tongue here, a clacking of teeth there, but eventually they find their rhythm, and oh, it is glorious. Dean's heart races a mile a minute as he gently pushes Cas onto his back and climbs on top of him.
'Dean,' Cas moans. 'Oh god, Dean.'
'I got you, sweetheart,' Dean murmurs, planting kisses down the side of Cas's neck. 'Tell me what you want.'
'I want-' Cas starts, but doesn't get to finish his thought, because they hear someone coming up the stairs. Dean jumps up and quickly grabs a comic book while Cas sits up and smooths out his shirt. When the door opens, they're sitting next to each other on Dean's bed looking like they're reading the comic together and internally hoping that they don't look like they've just been making out.
'Hey boys,' Sonny says, apparently not noticing anything unusual.
'Hey Sonny, what's up?' Dean asks.
'You've got a visitor, Dean. Your old man's outside.' He looks uncomfortable, and Dean's stomach sinks. His dad had left him here for months, leaving him to rot for getting caught shoplifting- why now?
'What does he want?'
Sonny looks at Cas, who excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Once he's gone, Sonny says, 'He came to pick you up. Said he's got a new job a couple states over and you need to come with him.'
Dean doesn't say anything, but he knows he's shaking like a leaf. He's got regionals coming up next week, he's actually doing pretty well in school, and… Cas. He's got Cas, and he knows that if he goes with his dad, that all goes away. Especially Cas.
'You know, after I got out of jail, this place gave me a second chance, and it's done the same for you, too,' Sonny continues. 'So if you want, I'll stick my neck out for you, and I'll fight for you to stay.'
'You'd do that for me?' Dean whispers, looking up at Sonny with tear-filled eyes. Sonny sits on Cas's bed and reaches across to put a hand on Dean's shoulder.
'Absolutely. Just say the word.'
Dean takes a deep breath and walks over to the window. His dad's Impala sits in front of the house, and he can see Sammy half hanging out the window playing with some kind of toy spaceship. His heart feels pulled in two directions, and his mind reels as he tries to find a way to reconcile the two.
'Maybe he'll let me stay until the end of the school year. I'll tell him about the wrestling championships,' Dean says. 'Let me talk to him.' Sonny nods and they both stand up. Cas is standing out in the hallway, and Dean flashes him a weak smile. 'I'll be right back, Cas.' Cas smiles back and goes back into the room to wait.
Sonny leaves Dean alone in his office and brings his dad in a minute later. 'John, Dean wants to talk to you. I'll give you guys a minute.' He closes the door, and Dean takes a deep breath.
'Where's your stuff?' John asks with a frown.
'I want to stay until the end of the school year.'
'I'm doing good in school for once. I'm on the wrestling team, and I'm going to regionals next week. Coach thinks I can get to state, which is next semester. I just… I want to see it through, ya know?'
John actually looks impressed. 'Wow, that's really great, son. I'm proud of you.'
'Thanks, Dad,' Dean smiles, standing up a little straighter with pride.
'OK, here's the deal then. Sammy and I will go on ahead and get settled in. I'll come and get you for Christmas break, and then you can come back here for second semester. How does that sound?'
That's an unexpected reply, to say the least. Just a bit too easy coming from John Winchester. 'Sounds awesome,' Dean replies warily. 'So, no more moving around?'
John smiles. 'Nope. Truth is… well, I've met somebody. A woman.'
Dean's jaw drops. 'I'm sorry, what?'
'I know, I didn't expect it either. Her name is Kate. I met her when I was on a job in Cleveland. We kept in touch and… well, uh…'
'Spit it out, Dad.'
'You and Sam have a baby brother.'
'A what?' Dean asks, shocked. He's only been at Sonny's for a few months, so clearly John's been hiding this for a while.
'I know, I should've told you sooner. I just didn't really know how. His name is Adam, he's only a few weeks old. I've been working like crazy to send them money and trying to find a steady job in Cleveland. Finally managed to get one. Construction.' He looks so happy that Dean doesn't have the heart to protest in any way.
'Wow. Well, um, congratulations, Dad. I can't wait to meet him. And Kate.'
'It's going to be good, Dean. We'll be a proper family again. I promise. Sonny can give me your school calendar, so I'll pick you up the day after you finish up for Christmas, OK?'
'Sounds good. Thanks, Dad. Can I say hi to Sammy?'
'Yeah, of course. Come on.' They walk outside, and the moment Sam sees Dean he opens the door and runs out. John smiles and leaves them alone to go make arrangements with Sonny.
'Dean!' he shouts, running into his arms and hugging him tightly.
'Hey Sammy, how's it going?'
'I miss you. Are you coming home with us?'
Dean's heart hurts, but he shakes his head. 'Not yet. I'm gonna finish the semester, then I'll spend Christmas with you before coming back to finish the school year.'
Sam looks up at him with watery eyes. 'But I miss you so much!'
'I miss you too, Sammy. It's just a little longer, OK? And I'm gonna come back with a wrestling trophy for ya.'
'Hell yeah, man, I'm going to regionals and then state!' Dean puffs out his chest as Sammy looks at him in awe.
'That's so awesome, Dean! Will you teach me how to wrestle?'
Dean ruffles Sam's hair. 'Sure thing, kiddo. That's what big brothers are for.'
Sam frowns. 'I'm a big brother now too. Did Dad tell you?'
'Yeah, he did. But no wrestling with Adam yet, he's too little.'
Sam scoffs and gives Dean a playful shove. 'Duh. Do you think I'll be a good big brother?'
'I mean, not as good as me, but yeah, I think you'll do OK. You can teach him how to read and be a big nerd,' he teases, and Sam grins. 'Have you met them yet?'
'Yeah. Kate's pretty nice. Adam just looked like a red blob. The house is nice, and I'm glad we won't be moving around anymore.'
'It's gonna be great, Sammy. And it'll be Christmas break before you know it.'
John comes back out with Sonny, and soon they're all saying their goodbyes. Sonny asks Dean if he wants to talk, but Dean just shakes his head and goes up to his room. Cas jumps up as soon as Dean walks in.
'Is everything OK?' he asks warily, but Dean just runs up to him and crushes him in a hug. Cas runs his hands up and down Dean's back and makes soothing noises as Dean cries into his shoulder. When the tears finally subside, Dean explains what happened. 'Wow, that's a lot to take in. Is there anything I can do to help?'
'Can you just hold me?' Dean asks meekly.
'Of course. Let's get changed and then we can lie in bed.' Cas gently helps Dean get ready for bed even though it's still pretty early, and once they're both in pyjamas, they climb into Dean's bed. Cas lies on his back and Dean curls up against him, the bed only just big enough to hold them both. 'Better?'
'Yeah. Sorry that we got interrupted earlier.'
'It's OK. I'm sure we'll have another opportunity sometime. If you still want to, I mean.'
'I want to. But what happens at the end of the year?'
Cas sighs as he runs his fingers through Dean's hair. 'I don’t know. We'll just have to take it as it comes, I guess.' He kisses the top of Dean's head. 'And we can make the most of the time we have left.'
Christmas comes quickly, with little time for anything but a few stolen kisses between finals and winning the regional wrestling meet for his weight class. Dean goes to Cleveland, meets Kate and Adam, and is both awed and kind of weirded out seeing his dad in such a state of domesticity. It's almost a relief to get back to Sonny's two weeks later. Cas greets Dean enthusiastically, and they manage to sneak off to the hayloft of the barn to make out for an hour before dinner.
The semester progresses, with Dean getting solid Bs in almost all of his classes, and even the occasional A here and there. He comes in second at the state championships to qualify for nationals in Virginia. When he comes back, having made it to the quarterfinals before getting knocked out, Sonny throws him a party and Cas pulls him around the back of the house for congratulatory kisses.
When the end of the school year arrives, Dean can hardly believe how fast it went. He and Cas have avoided talking about what would happen next, but John is coming in two days and the topic can't be avoided any longer. Dean drags Cas out to the barn, but when Cas leans in for a kiss, Dean pushes him back.
'I'm leaving soon,' he says, unable to hide the gut-wrenching sadness in his voice.
'I know,' Cas replies softly. 'I hate it.'
Dean intertwines the fingers of both their hands, feeling the connection between them like something solid. 'We can still talk. There's email and Snapchat and stuff, right?'
'And it's only one more year of high school. You'll be eighteen in September, and when you graduate you can go wherever you want. You can go to college, you're so smart, I bet you'll get tons of scholarships.'
Cas looks at him and says hesitantly, 'Case Western is an excellent school.'
Dean swallows hard. Cas has already been thinking about this, had already thought about leaving Dean. He forces himself to smile. 'Sounds fancy. Where's that?'
'Cleveland's pretty nice these days,' Dean says with a shy grin. 'The river doesn't even go on fire anymore.' Cas's lips quirk up at that, which Dean takes as a good sign. 'And, like, if you can still stand me in a year, maybe we could… I don't know, get an apartment together or something.'
'Of course I'll be able to stand you,' Cas says like Dean is a complete idiot. 'I love you.'
'Holy shit,' Dean replies with a rough exhale, and that sets Cas off laughing.
'Not quite the response I was expecting, but I'll take it.'
'I mean, I love you too. Of course. I mean… fuck. Yeah.'
Cas leans in and gives him a kiss. 'Very eloquent.'
'Shut up. You love it.' They're both smiling like crazy now, and Cas takes back his hands so he can cup Dean's face.
'Yes I do.'
Cas is there when John and Sam (who had insisted on coming along) arrive to pick Dean up. With terror turning his veins to ice, Dean introduces Cas as his boyfriend. Cas's eyebrows shoot up as much as John's, because Dean hadn't exactly told him that he'd planned to do this, but he knew in his gut that he couldn't pretend that Cas meant less to him than, well, everything.
John pauses a moment, then sticks out his hand. 'Nice to meet ya, Cas. Will we be seeing you over the summer?' Dean rushes forward to hug his dad, who squeezes him back before turning his attention back to Cas.
'Um, yes sir, if I'm allowed.'
'I'm sure we can work something out with Sonny. In the meantime, I guess you boys will keep in touch on those Instafacechats or whatever?'
'Yeah, Dad, Instafacechats for sure,' Dean laughs, joy bubbling out of him uncontrollably. He's not losing Cas, his dad is OK with it- his dad is OK with it- and he'll even get to see Cas during the summer.
'OK, well, I'll go talk to Sonny and give you a minute to say your goodbyes.' When he walks off, Dean introduces Cas to Sam, who barely even reacts to the fact that Dean has a boyfriend and immediately starts asking Cas questions about his interests in school, his favourite books and his hobbies. They hit it off right away, and Dean imagines this is what total bliss feels like.
When they exchange their final hugs, the moment feels much less depressing than either of them had thought possible. There's hope now, real and palpable. Dean knows it's going to be OK.
Twenty years later
'Gotta admit, Sonny, I never thought you'd actually retire,' Dean says as he accepts the beer from his old mentor.
'Only doing it 'cause I know I can trust the people taking over,' Sonny replies, clapping Dean on the shoulder.
'I'm still kinda amazed that the state accepted it.' Dean looks across the room and sees Cas, in his most respectable-looking sweater-vest, laughing with the state inspector who had signed off on the transfer that very afternoon.
'I'm not. Cas is one of the top child psychologists in the country, and you're a highly qualified nurse. Nobody could look after the boys better than you two.'
Dean shrugs. 'Yeah, but… you know there's gonna be some blowback when people find out the two dudes running the home are married to each other.'
'Nobody gives a crap about that kind of thing anymore, Dean,' Sonny chuckles. 'Not in New York, anyway. It'll be fine.'
'Yeah, I guess you're right.' This time when Dean looks at Cas, Cas is looking back with a fond smile. Dean winks and blows him a kiss, which Cas, sap that he is, pretends to catch in mid-air and place on his heart. Dean's insides feel just as gooey as they did when Cas first looked at him with those too-blue eyes full of hope and affection. Sonny's right- it's all going to be fine.
He's got Cas by his side, and that's all he needs.