It’s Claire who finally asks him.
They’re sitting on Jody’s couch post- family dinner, catching up and cracking jokes about the weird lives they live. And if Claire waited to ask until there were a few too many beers consumed on Dean’s part, no one in their little family would blame her.
“So, when are you gonna pop the question?”
“Hm?” Dean raised his eyebrows and put down his drink.
It was a few weeks since the world didn’t end and their little family didn’t disappear forever. Things were much of the same, but a weight had undoubtedly been lifted. The light feeling was especially palpable in the Mills house that Saturday night.
The spirit of the celebration encouraged the young huntress to rib Dean further.
“Oh c’mon,” she groaned. “Don’t think we haven’t all noticed you looking at him with those ‘marriage-eyes.’ Bleh!” she emphasized, nodding her head towards Castiel, who was sitting across the room, listening to Sam, Jody, Donna, and the girls with his signature intensiveness. “So, when are you gonna get the dog and the white-picket fence?”
Dean snorted dismissively, but there was a longing look in his green eyes, a look which the older Winchester had learned a long time ago he couldn't hide, if not for lack of trying, when he looked at Cas.
But he didn’t need to pine anymore. Castiel was his. It felt too good to be real, more than Dean deserved. He hadn’t quite given up the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to his sleeping lover, and reaching out to him just to insure it isn’t all an excruciatingly detailed dream, someone from his past punishing him with what he couldn’t have.
But, for now, Dean just snorts at the young blonde girl. “First of all, me and Cas already have a dog, thank you very much. Second, how do you know he wants to marry me? Cas.. he is-- was-- an inter-dimensional being or whatever. The little guy’s confused by just about every human custom; who's to say he isn’t above this one?”
“So, you don’t want to marry him?” Claire asked, already knowing the answer.
“Of course I do, kid. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything more. But we’re still hunting, every once in a while. You know this life is no place for domesticity. Not when I worry about something terrible happening to him near every damn day. Plus, this is all so new, this thing we’re doing. Weeks new. And I’m still learning how to be with someone...well...someone who looks like him.” The hunter’s words were a bit slurred, but more honest than Claire had ever heard him. Unadulterated, having dismissed the voice of John Winchester from his head around drink 3. Claire hoped, silently, that someday, he would feel this free without liquid courage.
“Someone who looks like a man” was left unsaid by Dean, but Claire understood. She eyed Kaia from across the room. The curly-haired girl caught the blonde’s gaze and smiled softly. Claire returned a similar look to her girlfriend, blushing a little, though she would never admit it.
Claire has to tear her attention back to Dean, and if he notices, he doesn’t say so. Her hard demeanor falls and she briefly debates telling him something along the lines of: “It’s OK, I get it. It’s hard, especially after all you’ve been through. You’ll ask him when you’re ready.” But, she decides to go with the authoritarian approach instead.
“Seriously? It’s not like you two getting married would change anything. You’ve been acting like an old married couple for over a decade. Trust me, it’s infuriating. We’re all really relieved you finally got your heads out of your asses, but you’ve gotta know you’re it for him, dude.”
Dean looked at her with big, surprised eyes. “Did- did he tell you that?”
Now it was Claire’s turn to laugh at the older Winchester. “He didn’t have to, dumbass.”
Dean scrunched his eyebrows at Claire, who just sighed in annoyance.
“I’ve seen the way he looks at you. That’s love. Gross, but love. You and Cas have both seen some shit. He knows the life just as much as you do-- the guy literally rescued you from hell, Dean. Hell. Anything could happen tomorrow, so why don’t you take advantage of the time you have?”
Dean chuckled. “You think you’re such an expert now that you’ve got yourself a lady, huh?”
Claire blushed. “Maybe, or maybe I just know Cas. Sure, the guy is possessing my dead dad’s body, but weirdly, he’s my family. And so are you. Cas deserves to be happy, Dean. No empty deals or life extenuating circumstances involved.”
“Finally, we agree on something,” Dean said, staring not at Claire but at the profile of the dark-haired man sitting at the table before him.
Castiel finishes his beer and laughs at something Donna says, throwing his head back to expose the sliver of tanned neck under the holy-tax-accountant suit he never got rid of. Beautiful, thinks Dean.
The hunter knew more than anyone the dangers of following false gods, and yet, he would go down swearing that Castiel was worthy of worship.
A yell interrupts Dean’s thoughts.
“Claire! Can you come help me with the pie? I think I lost the recipe,” calls her girlfriend from the kitchen.
“Coming!” Claire yells back and gets up. She looks back at Dean, who still appears to be transfixed in committing all of the former angel’s features to memory, as Patience and Alex are trying to explain celebrity feuds to an oblivious (read: adorable) Castiel.
“Just think about it,” She says.
Dean nods at her. “Go get your girl before she ruins the dessert, kid.”
Left alone on the couch, he guesses that their conversation was Claire’s own curt way of giving him her blessing, of letting him have the man who used to hold her father’s soul, forever. He can’t help feeling proud of his almost-daughter as he watches her giggle and throw a handful of flower at her girlfriend.
He unlocks his phone and types “engagement rings” into the search bar.