Castiel is cleaning up a colossal mess in Heaven. There aren’t enough angels, things are starting to go sideways up there, and he feels responsible. Dean knows that disaster in Heaven is far more important than their Valentine’s Day plans, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling a little abandoned when Sam and Eileen leave for dinner and he finds himself alone in the bunker. Cas did promise him that he would be home, but lately, a promise from Cas about making it back in time for anything should be taken with a grain of salt.
Dean has canceled weekly date nights until further notice because it’s harder to feel forgotten when there was nothing to remember in the first place. That makes the small gifts he sends a little sweeter. Of course, when Cas does come home he’s attentive and apologetic, which makes it all a little better. But even when Cas’s deft fingers are pulling at his zipper and he’s muttering about making it up to him, Dean feels like an afterthought. Another responsibility.
So he does his best not to nag. Not to make Cas feel like he has to come home as much. He doesn’t want loving him to be a job. Even if he did want to be a little passive-aggressive, he never has enough time. They have to make the most of the stolen hours between Cas being called back upstairs and Dean’ll eat Sam’s veggie bacon before he wastes any of that time being stubborn.
That’s how Dean ends up sitting at the kitchen table on February fourteenth, an old Western playing on the computer while he cleans his gun. Alone. It’s been an hour since Cas said he would get home, but that’s not surprising. Dean will only lose hope after around one in the morning. He shifts in his chair, pulling at the collar of the suit he’d put on—after an hour of debating—and glances at his phone. As if on cue, it lights up with a text from Cas.
Things are taking longer than expected. I am sorry.
Dean chews at his lip, setting down the rag he’d been using and typing out three different responses before forcing himself to hit send.
It’s ok. Should I wait up?
I don’t think so. I am truly sorry.
He doesn’t reply. For someone who’s been spending hours convincing himself that it doesn’t matter if tonight doesn’t work out, the lump rising in his throat is oddly hard to swallow. Disappointment and frustration swirl together in his gut, making his stomach churn bitterly. He tosses his phone back onto the table and shucks his suit jacket off roughly, shoving it to the floor and glaring at it where it lays in a heap. His phone buzzes again, this time with a call from Cas. He has half a mind to let it ring out and drink until he falls asleep on the couch, but there’s a chance Cas could be in danger. He swipes his finger across the screen, letting his eyes fall shut as his head tips back.
“Hello, Dean.” It’s embarrassing how quickly his insides melt at the sound of Castiel’s voice. It’s been a few days since they’ve been able to grab enough free time to even talk.
“Everything alright?” He hates how rough his voice sounds, how clear the exhaustion and frustration shines through.
“Everything is fine,” Cas says softly. “I am sorry, Dean. It’s Valentine’s day…”
“Yeah,” Dean mutters. He gets to his feet, wrenching the fridge open and grabbing a beer.
“I think I have something that could make it up to you.” A flash of annoyance ignites in his chest and he scoffs. He can almost hear Cas frown and he says, “Dean?”
“I just--I’m sorry, Cas. I just wish one of these times there wouldn’t be anything to make up for. I know that Heaven is hanging on by a thread and you’re trying to fix it but I miss you, man. I feel like I haven’t seen you in weeks. Even when you’re home it’s just long enough to--” he breaks off, setting the unopened beer down and rubbing at his face. “And then you’re gone again. You promised, Cas.”
“I don’t want whatever it is that you were going to do to make up for tonight. It’s fine. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Dean, hold on! Just--please, hold on. Go outside.” Dean sighs, clutching the phone tighter. He tries to imagine what Cas could have sent him this time; the past few gifts have been cooking magazines, cartoons on DVD, the new gun cleaning kit that sits on the kitchen table. He isn’t interested in getting anything more.
“No, Cas. I don’t want more shit. I want you. Let me know when you’re on your way back. No rush,” he adds, only a little venom behind the words. “See ya.” He hangs up. For a horrible moment, he gets the urge to throw his phone, to smash it against the ground and stomp on it a few times for good measure. And then he hears the front door open.
“Dean?” Cas calls. From inside the bunker. Dean slams his thigh into his chair in his rush to get to the door. His leg aches but he ignores it, shoving through the door. He runs into Cas on his way, barely even taking in the fact that he’s in a real suit instead of his trench coat before he grabs him and pulls him in for a kiss. It only lasts a moment before he pulls back, still cupping Castiel’s face in his hands.
“You’re here,” he half-whispers. Cas chuckles a little.
“I told you to go outside.” Dean laughs a relief-drunken, breathless thing, and kisses him again before releasing him.
“I’m sorry. I was upset,” he admits, watching Castiel’s expression shift from amusement and adoration to something...different.
“I know. Come on.” He holds out his hand and Dean takes it, allowing him to lead him towards the door. “I know that it has been...incredibly frustrating for you. I haven’t been around and that has been hard for me too. But I didn’t realize how much it was bothering you. If I had known--” Dean squeezes his hand, pulling him to a stop at the door.
“It’s alright, Cas. Seriously,” he insists when Cas begins to object, “it’s alright. I think rebuilding the God Squad takes precedence over a whiny boyfriend. I get it.” Cas reaches for the door but stops when his hand rests on the handle.
“You aren’t whiney! And tonight you’re my first priority. Screw Heaven.” Before Dean can respond, Cas is pulling him out the door. “Ta-da!”
Dean gasps. The usually bare concrete slab in front of the garage is illuminated by candles that barely even flicker despite the cold air around them. Cas smiles over his shoulder as Dean takes in the view. There’s a small table in the middle of it all, with a bottle of wine and two empty glasses. In front of each chair is a covered plate.
“Cas,” he says quietly, allowing him to guide him forward once again. “You didn’t have to do this.”
“I wanted to,” he says softly. “Come on.” As they step closer to the table, the crisp chill of winter in Kansas dissipates, replaced by the soft warmth of a fire; but beside the candles, Dean can’t see any source of flame. He glances at Cas again, knowing he must look dumbstruck.
“How…?” he breaks off, gesturing around.
“Being a part of the ‘God Squad’ has its perks,” Cas says by way of explanation. Dean smiles at him, sitting down in the chair across from Cas. “Do you like it?” The candlelight dances in his eyes when Dean looks at him, somehow making them even more captivating than usual. It takes him a moment to remember how to form words.
“I love it,” he manages. “It’s amazing.” He doesn’t even have it in him to complain about the chick-flick of it all. “You’re amazing,” he adds. Cas smiles at him, face thrown into a soft shadow by the light.
“I figured I probably owe you a couple thousand dinners by now.”
“Yeah,” Dean allows, grinning back at him. “Probably.”
And then they have dinner together. For the first time in over a month, they eat. They talk. They pretend they have all the time in the world. At one point, Cas even holds Dean’s hand across the table. It’s disgustingly domestic. He loves it.
Dean insists on helping clear away what Cas can’t take care of with his grace, and they’re in the kitchen when it happens. It just slips out. He can’t help it. One second Cas is laughing, a little bit of dish soap on his cheek from Dean blowing it at him, and the next thing he knows, Dean is saying it.
“I love you.”
Cas freezes, staring at Dean as though he can’t believe what he heard.
“I love you,” Dean repeats, emboldened by the champagne and the relief that comes with being with Cas again. Cas’ smile widens, his teeth sinking into his bottom lip and his eyes crinkling at the edges.
“I love you too,” he says, his voice achingly gentle. Dean pulls him close by the hips, using his sleeve to wipe the bubbles from Castiel’s cheek and pressing a soft kiss to his lips. “Happy Valentine’s day, Dean.”
“Happy Valentine’s day, Cas.”