“Burger time!” Dean announces, setting both plates down on the coffee table. “I did the maple bacon thing, and it should work with the caramelized onions. Lemme know. You pick a movie yet?”
“No,” Castiel says, budging over to make room for Dean on the couch. “I thought we should have a serious talk about our relationship.”
Reflexively, Dean laughs.
Castiel does not.
Dean coughs. “Uh, Cas? We’re not… Can’t believe I’m saying this, but you know we’re not dating, right?”
Dean leans a little harder against the couch arm. “Uh. Then…?”
“As you know, I recently turned forty,” Castiel begins.
“Yeah, I threw the party, Cas, I know.”
“And given that I’m now ‘over the hill,’ I realize I’ve neglected certain guardrails.” Castiel shifts on the couch, turning to face Dean directly. “There are things in life I thought I’d have in hand by now, or at least further underway. But while we’re close, there are things we don’t discuss that I think we should.”
Eyes wide, Dean slowly nods. He swallows. He coughs. He grabs his beer and, remarkably, does not run. “Okay, uh. Okay. Shoot.”
“Dean Winchester,” Castiel begins, speaking with a world’s worth of gravitas, “you are the most important person in my life. You have been for years. I cannot see a future without you in it.”
Dean somehow keeps breathing.
“Given that you are such an integral part of the framework of my life, I want to make that official.”
Dean maybe doesn’t keep breathing so well. He nods a bit anyway.
Castiel looks him dead in the eyes and asks, “Will you be my healthcare proxy?”
“Of c- What?” Dean clears his throat. “Sorry, what?”
“I’m updating my will and living will,” Castiel explains. “If I’m incapacitated and otherwise unable to make decisions regarding my own well-being, will you be my healthcare proxy? If I don’t designate someone, it automatically goes to my parents. You see the obvious issue.”
“Yeah, yeah, just lemme…” Dean rubs at his face. “Um, actually, no. Can’t.”
Frowning, Castiel leans forward. “Why not?”
“I can’t decide whether to pull the plug on you or something. Seriously, man, that was the one good thing about my dad going so fast: never had to make that call.”
“I’ve already written out a plan. I would just need you to follow it.”
“Does that involve pulling the plug on you, yes or no?”
“It involves you telling my doctors under what conditions I’d like them to pull the plug,” Castiel admits.
They’ve had enough drunken and morbid conversations over the years for Dean to know that one. “You mean, brain dead.”
Dean finishes his beer. “I’m grabbing another, you need one?”
“No, thank you.”
Dean takes his time coming back, but he does come back. He sits heavily. On the coffee table, their burgers cool. The TV dims, Netflix tired of waiting for them.
“I’m, um.” Dean clears his throat. “I’m trying to be there for you, man, but talking ‘bout you dying, that’s pretty fucked up.”
“No,” Castiel says simply. “Death is inevitable. I understand that you have Sam for these things, provided you don’t find a romantic partner beforehand, but I only have you.”
“You’ve got Sam too,” Dean protests. “Not that- I mean. I don’t even know what I mean.”
“If I were dying-”
“Hey hey hey, no-”
“Cas, it’s movie night.”
“Dean,” Castiel snaps. “If I was dying, would you want to have an active role in taking care of me or would you be too overwhelmed?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna fucking take care of you, what kind of a dumbass question is that?”
“Do you know my burial preferences?”
“Organ donor, then cremation, duh.”
Castiel nods. “So you would be my healthcare proxy?”
“Yes. Fine. Yes.” Dean can’t breathe again. He stands up. “It’s not gonna matter, ‘cause I’m dying first.”
“You are not dying first. I’m older.”
“Yeah, but I eat like crap.”
“Should I be your healthcare proxy?” Castiel asks.
“You’re my emergency contact, so… maybe?” At Castiel’s surprised look, Dean adds, “Right, probably should have asked you first: you’re my emergency contact. Sam’s too far and, uh. Kinda easier keeping it as you than updating it every time I break up with someone.”
“This is exactly why I wanted to have this talk,” Castiel says, nodding. “You’re my emergency contact too.”
“Yeah?” He gets this stupid little grin. “Awesome.”
Smiling wide, Castiel of course immediately goes and ruins it. “Would you be the executor of my will? You’re a beneficiary, of course, but I can’t see that becoming a conflict of interests.”
No more grin. None at all. “This is a lot. I think- Yeah, no, this is a lot.”
Castiel sighs. “Fine.” He takes his plate and grabs the remote. “Something light? A comedy?”
Dean steals the remote. “I didn’t say no.”
“You literally just did.”
“I- Never mind.” He sets his hand on Castiel’s shoulder in a vague attempt to ground himself, or maybe to ground Cas. “You’re not dying, Cas.” It’s only while waving his finger in Castiel’s face that he realizes he should maybe ask that question. “You’re not dying, right?”
“Not currently, no,” Castiel answers, blinking like Dean’s the one coming up with wild questions. “I’d simply like to be prepared for the eventuality. As I know we’re going to be spending the rest of our lives together, you’re the obvious candidate.”
“Hold on, what now?”
Castiel frowns. “You once said we’d be roommates in the nursing home. Were you joking?”
“Yeah, that was a joke, Cas.”
“Oh.” Despite what Castiel himself would insist, being a mature man of forty, Castiel absolutely pouts. “I’d assumed…”
“I mean, we should be on a porch instead,” Dean hastily adds. “Big rocking chairs and shit.”
Sighing, Castiel puts his plate back on the coffee table to better lean in toward Dean, their knees pressed together on the couch. “Dean, I would just like you to confirm whether we’ll be spending the rest of our lives together or not.”
“Me, what about- What about you?” Dean counters. “Seriously, you’ve been a grumpy old man since the day we met and you weren’t even thirty yet. You sure your grump isn’t going to crowd me out?”
“Of course. Nothing I’m ‘grumpy’ about is more important than you.” As if he hasn’t just punched Dean in the heart, Castiel continues, “My main concern is growing apart should your romantic endeavors succeed, like how Sam is more distant now he has Eileen.”
“That’s not gonna matter,” Dean says, because his romantic endeavors, such as they are, are all fucked. Anyone perceptive enough to be worth Dean’s time is perceptive enough to see how weirdly guilty Dean gets, dating. Like he’s cheating even when he’s not cheating.
“That’s not something you can promise.” There’s no bitterness in Castiel’s words, only caution. “It’s something I want you to keep in mind, but I don’t want to stand in the way of your happiness.”
“My happiness,” Dean repeats.
“Exactly.” Castiel goes ahead and smiles at him. “You’ll be my proxy and my executor, then?”
“What about…” Dean’s brain fumbles even as his hands clench tighter around his beer. “I mean, what if you find someone? You gonna be taking me off duty, or is this gonna be some kind of co-executor situation? You know I don’t share well.”
“That won’t be an issue,” Castiel says simply. “It’s a solo role. I’ve thought about it a great deal.”
“Good. ‘Cause if I have to go through all the fuckery of thinking about you dying and shit, you don’t get to go and change your mind on me.”
Castiel nods. “Of course. I’m familiar with your fears of abandonment.”
Dean leans back, eyebrows rising. “Jeez, way to sugarcoat it.”
Again frowning, Castiel tilts his head. “This is why I led with your importance and permanence in my life.”
Dean pats around the interior of his brain, but there isn’t a snappy retort to be found. He drinks. Clears his throat. Drinks again. “And you wanna, uh.” Dean gestures vaguely with the beer bottle. “Formalize this.”
“This, this ‘til death do we part’ situation we got going.”
“That… would certainly be one way to formalize it,” Castiel says slowly.
Eyes still wide, Castiel just looks at him.
“What?” Dean asks again.
Beginning to tint pink, Castiel answers, “Marriage.”
“Uh,” Dean says. “What?”
Castiel’s body pulls in on itself, but his words don’t follow suit. “You’re the one who brought it up!”
“No, I-” Dean stops. Thinks. “Okay, that was- Never mind what that was.”
“That was a joke,” Castiel says, squinting at him.
“Yeah.” Dean clears his throat. “I mean, not that we’re gonna be splitting up except for dying and crap, it’s just, y’know. The phrasing.”
“Right,” Castiel agrees.
Dean sits and stares, and before he can vibrate out of his skin, he reverts to safety. “Enough of that, your burger’s getting cold.” He swaps his empty beer for his plate and shifts fully face the TV. “C’mon, you picking or not?”
Grumbling, Castiel digs up the remote from between the two of them and starts scrolling. Finally, he says, “Blazing Saddles?”
“Cowboys and comedy, yeah, let’s go.”
Castiel hits play and finally grabs his burger. Choosing which side to start with, he pays his food more attention than the start of the movie. He hums with the first bite. “This is good,” he says with his mouth full.
“Right?” Dean answers, likewise.
Things happen on the screen.
Chewing happens on the couch.
“Okay, but why would you think I was proposing?” Dean has to ask.
Cheek bulging, Castiel stares back at him like an unpleasantly surprised chipmunk. After thirty seconds of painstaking mouth movements, Castiel swallows. “Because you said the marriage vow words?”
“Yeah, but,” Dean says and stops. Changes his angle of approach. “If we jumped to being married and shit, that’d be crazy.”
“It would,” Castiel agrees easily.
“Even though we’re already, you know. On board with hanging out the rest of our lives. Not dating, but hanging out. And stuff.”
“We do watch movies at least once per week, after you cook me dinner,” Castiel points out. “For some people, that’s dating.”
“But not us.”
“No. Because then we would have been dating for half a decade.”
“Right,” Dean says, feeling this conversation drifting further out of his control, his fingertips barely able to touch the thread of it. “And we haven’t, even with you dropping the dating bombshells like ‘we need to have a serious talk about our relationship.’”
“I don’t view our relationship as lesser simply because we’re not dating,” Castiel insists. “You’re my most important person. Therefore, whatever kind of relationship I have with you is my most important relationship.”
Unable to cope with Castiel casually laying out the contents of his still-beating heart, Dean stuffs his face and takes a long time chewing.
Which—big downside—means Castiel can go ahead and keep talking.
“I’m making you uncomfortable. It’s okay, Dean, I don’t have to be your most important person. You have more people in your life. And it’s you, so you have enough love for us all anyway.”
Eventually, Dean has to swallow.
Eventually, Dean has to talk.
“When you say, ‘whatever kind of relationship,’ what are you saying?” Dean asks.
Castiel has a little think about this, and naturally he does it staring directly into Dean’s soul. “I’m saying I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I thought we just agreed on this.”
“Yeah, no, definitely,” Dean agrees, very much not freaking out. “It’s only, you’re making it sound like you’d be just as cool with us being BFFs forever as us being…”
Unable to say the word, Dean nods.
Again, Castiel has himself a little think.
“It’s because I would be,” Castiel explains.
Dean stares at him.
Castiel stares back. “What?”
Dean’s words won’t turn back on.
Tentatively, Castiel wipes at the corners of his own mouth, as if stray sauce is the issue.
Dean grabs the remote and turns the TV off. ‘
“Just, just to check,” Dean says. “Y’know. To be clear. You’re okay with, with marrying me?”
“There are tax benefits,” Castiel points out.
“Cas, I’m gonna fucking hit you with something.”
“You’re upset,” Castiel pieces together. “I’m not sure why.”
“Are you talking ‘friends with tax benefits’ kind of marriage, or, I don’t know, actually in love kind of marriage?”
Castiel squints at him before answering with a decisive, “Yes.”
Maybe it was the two beers in ten minutes on an empty stomach, but Dean can’t stop the incredulous words coming out of his mouth. “So, what, you wanna do some run up until you—I’m serious—until you fall in love with me?”
“Oh, I see your confusion,” Castiel says, leaning back with the force of that oh . “No, no run up.”
“Okay, ‘cause that’s-”
“I’ve been in love with you for twelve years.”
Mouth open, Dean stares.
Castiel resumes eating his burger.
“You what?” Dean finally manages.
Still chewing, Castiel points to his own heart, then Dean.
“Twelve years,” Dean says.
For some nonsensical reason, Dean looks at his watch. Not a smart watch. Not a watch with the day of the week on it, let alone the month and year. But Dean looks at it, sees absolutely nothing, and says, “We’ve only known each other twelve years.”
Castiel keeps nodding.
“Are you fucking shitting me?” Dean asks.
Castiel shakes his head. He swallows. “I didn’t always like you, if that helps.”
Weirdly, it does.
After again flailing around for something to say, Dean’s left with a bewildered “Do you like me now?”
Castiel nods. “You haven’t been an ass for a few years. I am starting to get nervous about this conversation, however.”
Dean puts his plate back on the coffee table. If he tries to pick up his burger, he’s just going to squeeze through it from sheer what the fuck.
“Can we just, Jesus.” Dean stares around the living room that passes for his mancave. “Fuck, man.”
Castiel sighs, one of his full-bodied groans. “I was right not to tell you. I thought it was obvious.”
“I’m gonna. Okay. Okay.” Dean breathes. He’d get off the couch, but he’s pretty sure he’d immediately fall flat on his face, his legs are jumping and jittering that bad.
“You can ignore it,” Castiel suggests. “I meant it when I said I’m happy being with you. I don’t need sex or romance.”
“You’d fuck me? Seriously?”
Castiel’s already deep frown manages to find a subbasement to expand into. “You’re aware of how attractive you are, Dean.”
“Oh my fucking god,” Dean swears.
Rolling his eyes, Castiel stands, taking his plate with him. “If you’re going to be like this-”
“Wait, wait wait wait.” Dean grabs his arm, rising half off the couch to make the reach. “Wait. Come back.”
Very suspicious about it, Castiel sits back down.
“If we’d been dating for five years, it would make a lot of sense for me to propose,” Dean reasons out.
“But we haven’t been,” Castiel replies.
“But we kinda have.”
Castiel narrows his eyes. “I’m not sure where you’re going with this.”
“Put the plate down.”
“Put the plate down and swallow your food.”
Castiel puts the plate down. He chews, swallows, then takes a swig of his beer. His tongue presses up behind his lips as he licks something out from between upper lip and teeth. He puts his beer down. He looks at Dean expectantly.
Dean nudges in. Kind of falls in.
Castiel kisses him back.
“Well fuck,” Dean says.
Castiel smiles hugely.
Like the dumbass he is, Dean grins. “Shut up.”
“To be clear, are you proposing?” Castiel asks, as if this is a minor detail, mere curiosity.
What the fuck is Dean’s life.
Amazing, obviously, but also batshit insane.
“I think maybe proxy and executor is a good start for one night,” Dean answers slowly. “But, hey, let’s see how the rest of the date goes.”
Smiling, Castiel picks up his plate and turns the TV back on as if nothing world shattering just happened. He simply leans against Dean’s shoulder with a contented hum, and settles in for the rest of his life.