In retrospect, Dean’s not sure why it didn’t occur to him sooner. After all, Cas has been alive for a really, really long time, and he’s probably visited his fair share of the planet. Wings are pretty handy that way, Dean supposes.
Still, for some reason he’d been surprised when he’d heard Cas speak in Mandarin to an old Chinese lady they needed to question for a case.
“Dude. You speak Chinese?” Dean mutters to him later, aiming for mildly impressed but sounding at least 40% more starstruck than he’d planned.
“The idea of Chinese being a single language is misguided. There are several regional dialects,” Cas replies dryly. Dean blinks.
“Uh, okay. Which one do you speak?”
“All of them,” Cas deadpans. Dean snorts laughter.
“Show-off,” he accuses, playfully shoving Cas’ shoulder. He doesn’t miss the tiny smile lingering on Cas’ lips.
After that, the seed is planted, so to speak.
Dean doesn’t have a language kink, okay? He just likes accents and stuff. It’s purely coincidence that all his favorite porn has foreign chicks in it (well, crass stereotypes anyway, Dean assumes). Everyone likes a little something exotic to spice up their routine, right? But that doesn’t mean he has a language kink, and certainly not when it comes to Cas.
“Say something in Italian.”
Cas blinks at him from across the table of the would-be Italian diner they stopped at for lunch, a dubiously managed place called “Bella Napoli”. His cheeks are full of chewed-up spaghetti, making him look kinda like a hamster. It’s pretty cute.
Sam stares at him, clearly wondering if this is the day his brother’s finally lost his mind. “Dean, you don’t even speak Italian.”
“Shush.” Dean waves him off, still staring at Cas, and grins.
Cas puts his fork down and squints a little, but eventually seems to come to some sort of resolution, because he gives a half-shrug and swallows his mouthful of food.
“Questi spaghetti sono completamente scotti. Lo sai che questo posto il cibo italiano non l’ha mai visto nemmeno da molto lontano, vero?”
Hearing the unfamiliar sounds coming out of Cas’ mouth is… weird, but interesting. Kinda hot, maybe. Not that Dean is willing to put it like that.
“Un italiano te lo tirerebbe dietro, questo piatto. Chi cazzo mette le polpette nella pasta?”
Dean didn’t get any of that -- and from Sam’s puzzled face he’s sure, with no small amount of satisfaction, that he didn’t either -- but he finds himself mesmerized anyway.
“Say something else.”
Cas bites on the inside of his cheek, glancing at the window, seemingly reflecting.
“Quando il sole ti illumina così, i tuoi occhi sono la cosa più bella che io abbia mai visto.”
Dean doesn’t know what that means, so he’s not sure why he feels heat rising into his cheeks -- it must be the intense way Cas has turned to look him in the eye -- nor can he account for the weird thrill he feels listening to Cas speak so fluidly in a language Dean doesn’t understand.
“A volte mi chiedo se hai lentiggini dappertutto. Darei qualsiasi cosa per scoprirlo,” Cas continues, voice soft but weirdly purposeful.
Dean clears his throat. “One more,” he asks.
“Come on, Dean, he’s not a dancing monkey,” Sam complains.
“You’re just annoyed ‘cause you have zero idea what he’s saying,” Dean counters. Sam gives him a power bitchface. Bingo.
“C’mon, Cas, just one more.”
Cas looks at him for a long moment, then sighs quietly.
“Ti amo. Ti amo da morire,” he says, low and even. “Ti amo più di quanto avrei mai creduto possibile poter amare qualcuno.”
The silence that follows is different, somehow. Cas looks almost pained, which in turn makes Dean’s heart constrict achingly. Sam, on the other hand, has this odd constipated look on his face, like he’s maybe just uncovered a secret conspiracy or something. Dean doesn’t like it one bit.
“Can we order some more garlic bread?” Cas asks, breaking the weird tension. Dean nods hastily, feeling a little hot under the collar, his mind sort of buzzing for no good reason. The tingling under his skin stays with him through the rest of the day.
It would be wrong to say Dean develops a habit, after that. It’s too sporadic to be called one. Still, sometimes he’ll ask Cas to say something in a different language, just for shits and giggles -- or so he tells himself. It’s more about the way his stomach does this weird little flip when he hears Cas roll his r’s differently, or sharpen his consonants, or use his tongue to produce sounds Dean’s never heard before.
Cas doesn’t always take to it gracefully, though. Especially in the mornings. Like right now, when he’s sitting at the kitchen table squinting murderously at a mug of coffee while Dean fries up some eggs and bacon for breakfast.
A hostile grunt answers him.
Cas grunts something else, which Dean boldly decides to assume is a what.
“How do you say good morning in French?”
Cas glares at him.
“Il est huit heures du matin. Va te faire foutre . ”
“I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but that seems too long to be right.”
“C’est-ce qu’ il a dit ,” Cas mutters into his coffee, looking a little too smug for Dean’s liking.
The thing is, Dean’s not an idiot; he can tell when his needling doesn’t meet with Cas’ indulgence (or Sam’s, but in that case he doesn’t really care). But he still can’t help loving the way those words -- probably insults, he decides -- sound coming out of Cas’s mouth. He’s starting to think maybe this whole language thing has more to do with Cas’ mouth than with languages, anyway.
Dean shovels some bacon and scrambled eggs onto Cas’ plate.
“Here. Because I’m such a good friend. Even though you’re trash talking me in French. Don’t think I’m not on to you.”
Cas levels him with a look that’s somehow half annoyed and half apologetic.
“Merci,” he says, voice smoky-rough, and pokes at his eggs.
“Yeah, you’re welcome.” Dean points at him with the spatula. “See, I knew that one.”
Cas smiles. “T’es beaucoup plus intelligent que tu ne le penses.”
Dean flushes a little, more from Cas’ expression and voice than the unfamiliar words.
“Hey. No making fun of me.”
“I’m not,” Cas says, earnest. “I thought you liked to listen to foreign languages.”
“Touché,” Dean admits, because fuck it, he can roll with this French thing. “Go on, then, knock yourself out.”
Cas takes a bite of bacon, considering, his eyes on Dean the whole time.
“J’aime quand tu cuisines pour nous. Tu prends tellement soin des autres, Dean. Ton coeur est immense.” He smiles into his coffee. Dean thinks he looks almost nostalgic.
“Te sortir des enfers est la meilleure chose que j’ai faite de toute mon existence,” Cas continues, the rasp in his voice leaving place to something fiercer, more stern. “Bon, ça, et devenir ami avec toi. Mais cela est plus ton cadeau que ma prouesse.”
Dean listens quietly, because it feels like the right thing to do. Cas falls silent too for a few moments, eating his breakfast -- the breakfast Dean cooked for him -- thoughtfully and appreciatively.
“You could study languages, you know,” Cas eventually says, off-hand. “You’re smart, and you have a good ear. This doesn’t have to be one-sided.”
“Yeah, maybe. Someday.” Dean rubs his neck, the tips of his ears a little pink.
Cas shakes his head fondly.
“T’es aussi têtu que tu es beau.”
Dean only realises things are getting out of hand as they’re sitting in the Impala, staking out a suspect while Sam does research.
He keeps looking at Cas and away from Cas, as if even staring at him for too long might give his weird fetish away, but then--
--he’s never been very good at resisting temptation. He licks his lips.
“Say something in Spanish,” he blurts out, no preamble, because that’s just how fucking smooth he is, apparently. But hey, they’re stuck in a car under the pelting rain, and Dean is bored, and curious, and likes listening to Cas speak. It both eases and stokes the itch that runs under Dean’s skin whenever he’s close to Cas for too long. Never close enough, he thinks, unbidden.
Cas sighs, long-suffering.
“¿Qué quieres oír?”
The words are totally different, of course, but the sounds are similar enough that Dean’s mind instantly flashes back to a certain scene involving tacos, and oh. Oh, this was a bad idea. He shifts in his seat a little, preemptively adjusting his pants and hoping Cas doesn’t notice.
“Whatever you want,” he shrugs, because he can read intonation well enough, despite not speaking the language. “Doesn’t really make a difference to me, the only Spanish I know is, like--” he bites his tongue just in time, what the fuck, Winchester, seriously. He’s not about to quote seedy, embarrassing Spanish-themed porn to Cas of all people, much less ask Cas to call him a friggin’ chico malo or whatever. Shit. Now he’s beet-red, and Cas is staring at him curiously.
“Nevermind,” Dean mutters.
“Dean. Tell me.”
“It’s nothing, okay? Geez, let it go already,” he snaps. This is miserable. He feels as dirty as that time Cas almost caught him on the Busty Asian Beauties website; he’d felt as guilty as a goddamn teenager then too, for some reason.
“Vale,” Cas concedes, shrugging, but the glint in his eyes speaks volumes. He’s not going to let this go anytime soon, Dean realizes with a sinking feeling.
“No necesitas ponerte tan nervioso, Dean ,” Cas says then, to Dean’s bafflement. “ Sé muy bien que te gusta la pornografía de lengua extranjera. Española, y especialmente japonesa .”
Okay, that Dean understood, and he silently prays to Death to come reap him then and there, Mark of Cain or not . He opens his mouth to protest, or to apologize for being such a fucking pervert, he doesn’t fucking know, but--
“No es un problema para mí, Dean.” Cas grins, turning in the seat to look at him more fully. “Me gusta mucho hablarte en otras lenguas, y sobre todo me encanta mirar tus reacciones.”
He shifts a little closer. Dean’s pants grow a little tighter. He can see Cas’ eyes from this up close, and they’re dark blue, almost black, the pupils blown impossibly wide.
"Quiero hacer contigo todo lo que tú has imaginado, Dean. Todo lo que imaginas cuando te tocas, para darte placer.”
A tense silence pulses between them, and Dean is sure they’re about to fall over the edge of something, that any moment now Cas will lean in and--
"Quizás algún día dejes que alguien te quiera. Tengo tiempo, y no deseo a nadie más."
Cas leans back into his half of the bench, and Dean busies himself with staring at the suspect’s house, resolutely avoiding eye contact. He stays like that for a long while -- red-faced, blue-balled, and wondering just what the hell he started.
It escalates within the next few weeks. Dean doesn’t have to ask anymore -- Cas will just suddenly start speaking to him in a different language, always with this damn knowing look on his face, and it never fails to leave Dean flustered and fumbling in a way he can’t explain.
It’s confusing, and frustrating, and hot as hell.
What’s even weirder, though, it’s that at some point, Cas decides to step up his game further. Starting on an otherwise completely unremarkable Thursday afternoon, Dean begins to find post-its stuck to his things, with short messages in all kinds of languages. Initially, it’s simple, ordinary messages, at least according to Google Translate: stuff like “good morning” in Swedish, or “that lasagna was amazing” in Portuguese, or “sorry for accidentally breaking your mug” in Hebrew.
But then -- and how did this become Dean’s life anyway? -- Cas starts leaving goddamn quotes. From movies, poems, songs, doesn’t seem to matter; they all make Dean flush with pleasure like a completely lame highschooler (not that he ever went to high school long enough to exchange notes with crushes).
Of course, Sam teases him mercilessly about this, ever since he found that one purple post-it stuck to Dean’s jacket, reading in Cas’ slanted handwriting Non, rien de rien; non, je ne regrette rien.
“Dude, Edith Piaf? Really?”
“Shut up,” Dean grumbles. “How do you even know French music, should be a more worrying question.”
“How do you?”
“I googled it, jackass.”
“Then you know it’s a love song, right?” Sam looks at him with a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Shut your face,” Dean repeats. “You don’t know-- you’re not-- you know nothing, okay?”
“Been watching too much Game of Thrones again, have you,” Sam says, enjoying this entirely too much. Dean used to be the cool big brother once, and now look at this travesty.
The latest post-it makes its appearance when Dean is alone, which Dean is deeply grateful for. He finds it stuck on the cover of his well-loved copy of Cat’s Cradle (he keeps it on the dresser in his room, but then Cas was never too big on personal space).
The post-it is vivid lime green, and the text on it is longer than what Cas usually writes.
Περιμένουν οι άγγελοι με κεριά και νεκρώσιμους ψαλμούς
Πουθενά δεν πάω, μ' ακούς
Ή κανείς ή κι οι δύο μαζί, μ' ακούς
Το λουλούδι αυτό της καταιγίδας και, μ' ακούς
Μια για πάντα το κόψαμε
Και δε γίνεται ν' ανθίσει αλλιώς, μ' ακούς
Σ' άλλη γη, σ' άλλο αστέρι
It’s longer than the others, and it’s definitely a poem, or a piece of poem, that’s easy to tell. Figuring out its meaning, however, is a whole ‘nother thing. First Dean has to go to the library and fish out a Greek dictionary. It’s for ancient Greek, and he has no idea what kind of Greek Cas wrote down, but it’s the best shot he’s got, so he sits down and starts -- voluntarily, God help him -- researching.
As far as Dean can tell based on the accents and spelling, the poem is actually modern Greek, but he manages to scrape up translations for at least a few words, regardless. When he has about five or six, he decides to try his luck and punch them into Google. He must be having a good karma day, because there’s not that many results containing all the words at once, and he only has to scroll back a couple pages before finding a good English translation of the whole poem.
When he does, he has to reread it five times before the words finally make it through the roaring of blood in his ears.
The angels wait around with candles and dirges
But I’m not going anywhere, do you hear me
Either none or both of us, do you hear me
This flower of tempest, do you hear me
And of love
We picked it once and for all
And it can never grow otherwise, do you hear me
In another land or on another star
For a long time, Dean sits at the foot of his own bed, computer open in his lap, one hand resting over the green post-it as if to hide it, to protect it, to shield it from the eyes of the world.
It doesn’t mean anything , he tells himself. Cas probably just really likes the poem, and wanted to share it. He does that. There was a week when all he texted anyone were whale emojis, because he just liked them that much.
But part of Dean knows better, even though it’s too afraid to speak up. He thinks back to the rest of the poem’s stanza, the part Cas left out.
No gardener ever had the good fortune
From so much winter and so many north winds, do you hear me
of growing a flower -- only us.
Well, Dean thinks. It’s not a lie. In a brief, ridiculous moment of weakness, he tucks the green post-it under his pillow.
The next time, he’s not so lucky.
He finds Sam sitting at the table in the war room, looking preoccupied as he stares at dad’s diary. The furrow in his brow makes it clear he’s got something serious on his mind; Dean just hopes it’s not the human-organs-chomping kind of serious.
“Sup,” he throws at Sam, more casual than he feels.
Sam clears his throat, holding up a dark pink post-it without really meeting Dean’s eyes.
Dean approaches the table warily, ready to argue his way out of whatever ribbing Sam has in store for him. Instead, Sam gets up, obviously ready to bolt, as if sharing space with Dean might give him a rash.
“Found it in the diary folded in half, kind of like a bookmark. I was just gonna look up a sigil dad drew in there, but it fell out and… well, whatever. I think you should read that, Dean.” Sam pushes the pink slip of paper closer to Dean with the tips of his fingers.
Dean looks down at the message. It looks like another poem, but it’s in Latin this time, which means Sammy probably understood everything on it without even trying.
“Just, you know. Take your time. But when you’re done, Dean, for fuck’s sake, do something about this. It’s getting ridiculous. And I’m tired of waiting for you to pull your head out your ass. Try to recognize a good thing when you see it, okay? God knows we don’t get many of those.”
Sam nods briefly, as if to congratulate himself on a speech well delivered. He claps Dean on the back and -- there’s no other word for it -- friggin’ skedaddles out of the war room.
With a deep sigh, Dean sits down and stares at the post-it. He could probably make some sense of it if he tried, but his Latin, unlike Sam’s, is mostly limited to four of five go-to exorcisms, so he fires up Sam’s laptop, with mixed dread and excitement. While the computer boots up, he takes another look at the words written on the post-it. Cas’ writing isn’t as neat as usual, the letters still firm and slanted but looking a little jarred, like they were penned nervously. There’s a bit crossed out with an agitated scribble in the second line -- a woman’s name, Dean assumes, starting with an L -- and four whole lines in the middle are completely blacked out in pen scratches, as if Cas decided they weren’t relevant, or got cold feet about quoting this much of the poem.
Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes
tuae [...] sint satis superque:
...quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
furtivos hominum vident amores
Dean starts researching, heart beating a little faster than normal. It is poetry, from way back before the Roman Empire even existed. When he eventually stumbles on the translation, his heart skips a few beats.
You ask how many kisses of yours
would be enough and more to satisfy me:
as many as the stars that, when night is still,
gaze down on secret human desires.
And, okay. The Greek poem was a love poem too, but that was-- this is-- this is a whole other thing. This is Cas talking about kissing Dean, about wanting to kiss Dean; Cas wants to kiss Dean and never ever stop, and Dean is-- he’s not ready, but God, he wants it regardless, wants it more than he can remember ever wanting anything else.
What are the things that you want? What are the things you dream?
It occurs to him then, in a blinding rush of realization, that Cas has probably been sweet-talking him this whole time-- complimenting him in Arabic and Polish, wooing him in Gaelic and Vietnamese. And all the while, Dean’s been too chickenshit to even say the words in English.
He draws himself up in his chair, the post-it held in his hand like a tiny pink bonfire warming him up.
Fuck being ready.
Dean is going fucking insane with nerves.
His bravado from the other day has all but left him, and he’s sitting at the kitchen table nursing a cup of coffee gone cold, waiting for Cas to get up. And yes, Cas is a late riser, but really? It’s almost 10. They have monsters to hunt. Possibly. Hypothetically. And Dean is about to crawl out of his skin, so there’s that too.
When Cas finally, finally deigns to stroll into the kitchen, sporting a green hoodie and a ridiculous bedhead, his eyes are puffy from sleep, but the expression in them is awake and alert, subtle worry pervading Cas’ whole face.
“Morning,” he says, and God, Dean will never get tired of that smoky, sleep-rough drawl.
“Morning,” he replies, trying to keep his tone and demeanor as even as possible. Cas approaches the table warily, hands shoved in the hoodie’s pockets. They’re both testing the waters, Dean thinks; circling each other to decide whether to come clean, assessing the chance of damage.
Eventually, Cas clears his throat. “Found this,” he says, and he pulls a light blue post-it out of his right pocket. It looks like it should be crumpled, but it’s not, as if Cas did his best to preserve it in pristine condition. “It was on my bedside table when I woke up.”
“Yeah,” Dean says, because really, what else can he say?
He knows very well what’s written on the post-it, but is not surprised when Cas decides to read it out loud anyway. The cadence is lilting, the accents not falling in the places Dean would have imagined -- Cas is probably reading in metre, Dean decides -- but the effect is oddly soothing, hypnotic, almost.
Dean is aware he took a page out of Cas’ book -- almost literally, he supposes -- by choosing a poem of the same author; but it had felt appropriate at the time. He even went as far as to cross out some parts, like Cas did: to rework the poem, to make it belong to them. God, he’s 36, and here he is, feeling like an eighth-grader who’s just passed a note to his crush, waiting for them to hand it back -- do you want to go to prom with me, circle yes or no -- except the note is an ancient Latin poem, and prom is, well, the rest of Dean’s miserable fucking life, if he has any say in it. Because with Cas, it wouldn’t be nearly so miserable at all.
Cas sits down at the table when he’s finished reading, slowly looking up from the post-it to meet Dean’s eyes. And because clearly one tour in Hell wasn’t enough, Cas then decides to translate the dumb fucking poem on the spot, all while looking directly at Dean.
Let us live, my darling, and let us love.
Suns may set and rise again:
but for us, when our brief light has set,
there’s an everlasting night’s sleep.
So give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred more,
then another thousand, and another hundred still.
And after exchanging many thousands,
we’ll scramble them, so we don’t know them all.
Dean wants to die, wants the ground to fucking swallow him whole because that would be preferable to the tension of sitting there and waiting for an answer, of guessing but not knowing-- but Cas is smiling, and his left hand’s balled tightly into a fist, clenching and unclenching, like he’s not sure what to do with his body either. It’s hard to tell in the soft morning light, but Dean thinks his eyes are shiny. Cas takes a deep breath before speaking.
“Dean,” he says, and Dean never wants to hear anyone else say his name, just Cas, every day of his life, forever. “Did you mean all this?”
Well, fuck it , Dean thinks. He’s faced the end of the world and come out on the other side: he can probably face the start of his own life.
He opens his mouth, and through the din of his heart pounding in his throat, hears himself reply:
“No-ib. Gil gi a ol, go-hed.”
And that’s it really, that’s all; that’s the truth of it. Dean feels like a weight just rolled off his shoulders as the Enochian rolled out from his lips, the ancient syllables calming him down, seeming to infuse him with resolve, with power.
That doesn’t stop his heart from stuttering when he sees Cas’ eyes actually spill over, a short, startled laugh bubbling out of his chest.
“You pronounced that all wrong,” Cas says, voice choked up, smiling brighter than Dean’s ever seen him.
“You’ll have time to teach me,” Dean replies, relief washing over him like a downpour of rain after a long dry summer. And then, because they’ve basically said it in every other language there is, he adds: “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Cas whispers back, as awed and worshipful as if he’d just received divine revelation. He reaches across the table to grab Dean by the front of his t-shirt and yanks him closer, and suddenly they’re kissing and, oh , that’s all right, Dean supposes, that’s really fucking fine, because even though languages are hot, sometimes-- well, sometimes, you don’t need words at all.