Title: The Importance of Hallmark Holidays (1/2)
Spoilers: nada. this takes place in an ar right after s5
Warnings: Yet again: so much fluff it might actually be painful
Word Count: 6,745 this part, 9,357 total
Summary: All it takes is for Cas to assume that Dean has nothing planned for Valentine's day for him to turn it into the best Valentine's Day either of them has ever had. AKA: The one where Dean and Cas have the most cliche Valentine's Day ever. Part of the Ugly Sweater 'Verse.
“It's a Hallmark holiday, Sam. No.”
Dean and Sam are sitting at the edge of a dock, feet dangling over the water. At the urging of both Castiel and Sarah, Sam's soon-to-be-fiancee, the two Winchesters are indulging in some long overdue bro-time. Castiel suggested the brothers go fishing – he'd been wanting to try out a new recipe for fish he'd found, anyway – and so somehow they'd found their way to a little lake in New Jersey, about an hour from Dean and Castiel's studio flat in Pennsylvania. Dean's fairly certain there are at least three lakes much closer than this one, but he has a feeling Cas and Sarah are seriously concerned by how little time Sam and Dean spend together and sent them this far intentionally. In all fairness, he just saw the guy about a month and a half ago. It's not like they're avoiding each other or something.
Still, their concern is endearing and Dean would be lying to himself if he said he didn't miss his baby brother. The car ride in the Impala felt a little weird – it was the first time they'd been in it together since they split ways after they shut down the apocalypse – but it was the good kind of weird and after the first 20 minutes the whole 'bonding' thing was well under way. All in all, the trip's been pretty great.
Until now, though. The inevitable My Little Brother is Actually Female and Has to Talk About Our Feelings part of the trip. Only Sam could make this considerably less awesome than it would have been otherwise.
“Come on, Dean,” Sam says, exasperated, giving Dean the classic puppy dog pout he's worked to near perfection over the years. Dean groans because it's not fair that both his brother and his sort-of-boyfriend-thing have equally potent puppy dog faces. “You know how he is about holidays.”
“Like hell I do, Sam, Jesus,” Dean mutters, tugging on his rod for lack of anything better to do with his hands, “Try living with him during Christmas. And freakin New Years, man, the guy was practically jizzing himself, he was so excited when the damn ball dropped.” Dean doesn't expect how his voice softens at the memory. If he closes his eyes, he can still see the fireworks... and feel them, too, the ones he felt when Cas kissed him when the clock struck twelve. Dean clears his throat.
“So you should know – ” Sam starts to say, pouncing on Dean's words.
“Know what, Sammy?”
“You should know how important holidays are to Castiel, Dean. You know you have to step up. Make it special for the guy, or something...” Sam's voice trails off. It's obvious he isn't exactly sure what to make of Dean's relationship with Cas. And that makes sense, because Dean has no idea what the hell it is, either.
They kiss pretty often, now, seeing as now that Dean knows that the thunder-in-the-heart, sweaty palms, dry throat thing is totally mutual, he has a lot less willpower than he did before. Now if he wants to kiss Cas he just goes for it. It's a really good feeling.
But... that's about it. They 'cuddle' – which translates mostly into just violating personal space when the given opportunities arise – but not much else. Nothing that would give whatever their relationship is a little clarity. They still have separate beds and they still keep their hands to themselves. They don't talk about their relationship, either. There's the occasional, 'I missed you while you were out' said with such conviction that it makes Dean never want to leave the house, or every now and then the inexplicable, 'thank you, Dean' that Cas never explains or goes into... but aside from that, nothing.
Definitely no 'I love you's.
“What does that even mean?” Dean grumbles dismissively. By now he's wound up the reel completely and is standing up to cast it back in again.
“A little romance, Dean,” Sam says flatly. His puppy dog pout has dissolved into the makings of a bitch face. “Cas deserves it.”
Sam is right, of course, but Dean's almost as macho as he is stubborn and he's not quite ready to put his heart and soul into the whole Romeo role just yet. Up until recently, he'd never even been into kissing if it wasn't attached to a promise of sex. Obviously that's changed, but Dean's a little unsure what else there's room to change for. He's sure as hell not writing any poems.
“What you see is what you get,” Dean says, gesturing to himself before he casts his reel. “Cas knows that. He doesn't expect anything more from me.”
“That's exactly my point. You could make him really happy if you tried, you know. It doesn't take much.”
Dean doesn't bother fighting back anymore – what would Sam know, anyway? Sam doesn't live with the guy, Dean does. Dean has Cas' smile memorized by now, and he knows the other man's laugh as well as he knows his own voice. And, yeah, maybe both smile and laugh are a bit sparse... but this is Castiel, after all. It's a miracle in itself that he smiles at all. Dean's pretty certain Cas is as happy as he's gonna get given the whole 'fallen angel' thing.
“I'll buy him some chocolates if it'll make you feel better,” Dean says, pointedly ignoring how Sam's bitch face is amping up to turbo. “Come on, time to change the subject. All the estrogen you're leaking is going to poison the fish.”
Cas can do some amazing things with fish, apparently, because what he makes out of Sam and Dean's catch is nothing short of mouth-watering. This is quite a feat – Dean's never been a fan of fish, especially when it's not deep-fried. Cas' fish is grilled and glistening, doubtlessly healthy, but Dean gets seconds, then thirds; it's that good. He's weighing the pros and cons of a fourth serving when Cas chastises him.
“Dean, you are a bottomless pit,” he says distastefully as he watches Dean scrape the last forkful of rice from his plate, wrinkling his brow.
“Don't act like you don't love cooking.”
“I do. I also prefer my food in people's stomachs – which yours won't be if you continue eating. I'm going to have to insist you stop.”
“Cas, c'mon – ”
“You realize there's dessert.”
Dean's complaints die in his throat. Cas doesn't bake nearly as often as he cooks – which is every night – but Cas seems to have gone all out because Sam and Sarah are over. The two fiances look amused, watching the banter between Dean and his angel. Dean flashes Cas a million dollar smile, at which Cas rolls his eyes. Dean is always especially ridiculous when he's being fed.
Cas starts clearing dishes and Dean jumps to his feet to help, speeding the process along. Dean loads the dishwasher as Cas gets dessert ready. Cas pulls out small dessert plates Dean was not aware that they had from the back of their cabinet; they're pink, heart-shaped and have Happy Valentine's Day! written all over in brown script. Dean chuckles.
“More holiday spirit?”
“They were on sale.”
Only recently has Castiel's humanity become less overwhelming for Dean. Several months ago, Dean might have felt guilty that a once mighty Angel of the Lord has been reduced to caring about shopping bargains. Now, he's learned to let it go. Cas isn't miserable, as far as Dean knows, and Dean's been through enough hell (both literally and figuratively) in his life to know better than to dwell on things he can't change. Cas is looking at the plates with a very self-satisfied sort of pleasure, anyway, so he doesn't seem to be too concerned.
Cas pulls their dessert from the oven with heart-decorated oven mitts, and Dean can't suppress a smile. He wonders for a moment whether it would be possible to get Cas a job at Hallmark. Then, the smell of whatever Cas has pulled out of the oven hits him – it's pie, and for whatever reason this realization comes with an arsenal of butterflies to his stomach. He closes the dishwasher and walks over to Cas, sliding arms around the smaller man's waist from behind. Dean can feel the quizzical expression on Cas' face without seeing it.
“I like it when you bake things,” Dean says by way of explanation, pressing a kiss to Cas' cheek.
“I see.” Cas places the pan on the counter and turns around in Dean's arms so that he's facing him. “I will bake more often, then.”
They look at each other a moment – both tense in a weird way, as though each is poised to do something... but neither does. After a brief second of this, the moment is gone and Dean lets Cas go. Cas goes about cutting slices of pie and Dean pours cups of milk. They're both very quiet.
After dessert and sparkling cider (Sam doesn't drink anymore, and Dean has consented to cut back a little, anyway), Sam and Sarah finally head out. Even as they're pulling on their coats, Dean can feel his heart aching for his little brother. He hadn't even realized how much he'd missed having Sam around until spending a solid few hours with him. Dean's a little surprised that Cas knows him so well, knows his habit of shutting feelings down and casting them out instead of evaluating them like a normal human being. It was Cas' suggestion that Sam and Sarah come visit in the first place.
“Don't forget what I said,” Sam hisses as he hugs Dean goodbye – and, yeah,Dean even missed this. Even the stupid, anal, insufferable aspects of his brother.
“Like I said. Chocolates.” Sam's scowl is priceless as he leaves. Sarah gives Dean a hug as well on her way out. Dean likes her, thinks she's good for his brother. Sam's face lights up whenever she smiles and it warms Dean's heart. She's tiny, too, so she makes Sam look even larger and goofier, which is always a plus.
“Keep him in line,” Dean tells her, and she smiles.
“You got it. Nice to finally meet you – and Castiel, thanks for everything!”
Castiel's still a little socially stupid, so it takes him a second to realize she's going in for a hug. It's a bit painful to watch, but is above all amusing. He still looks confused even as they leave. Dean shakes his head and closes the door once they're out of sight, looking at Cas fondly. Dean's used to this expression of Cas'. Because, while Cas is making wonderful progress integrating into humanity, he's still puzzled by the simplest things. Dean's not sure what train of thought Cas is on at the moment, but he doesn't bother asking. Instead, he lays on the couch and digs around for the remote.
Cas sits on Dean's legs, facing the tv, and sinks back against the couch. It's comfortable enough for the moment, but Dean's pretty sure his circulation is going to be cut off in the next 10 minutes.
Dean successfully locates the remote and idly channel surfs. He stops briefly on an advert for Valentine's day candy and Cas grabs his wrist to keep him from changing the channel.
“Tell me about Valentine's Day, Dean.”
“Shitty holiday, Cas, seriously. Nothing to tell.”
“You disliked Christmas as well.”
“That's... different.” The guy does have a point, though.
“I believe I recall you liking Valentine's Day, anyway.” This is another subtle difference between Angel Cas and Human Cas. Cas has a normal human memory, now. Cas has to believe he recalls something instead of having infinite depths of knowledge with crystal clarity at his fingertips.
“Yeah, well,” Dean says awkwardly, “I don't need to get laid by angsty Valentine's rejects anymore.”
Cas is quiet at that, and it makes Dean uncomfortable. He wishes he could find something interesting on TV.
“Why is that?” Cas asks finally, which was inevitable. Comes with the whole 'socially stupid' thing.
“Because, man,” Dean says, exasperated, “I – I don't know, I mean, I have you, right?”
Cas looks even more genuinely confused at this, brow completely furrowed, expression entirely pensive. Dean's stomach is in knots and he's not entirely sure why. He clears his throat and does the only thing he can – changes the subject.
“So! Valentine's Day. The holiday that comes in a box. What do you want to know?”
“I don't know. Tell me everything.” Dean's not sure how to tell Cas that Valentine's Day is nowhere near as fun as Christmas, that he's not going to find any seasonally appropriate ugly jumpers to match with it and there's not nearly as many decorating possibilities. He takes a deep breath.
“Not much to tell, Cas. It's a holiday for lovers. They give each other candy and gifts. There's a lot of hearts going around. Lots of red and pink. That's about it.”
Cas doesn't look remotely satisfied, and Dean scowls.
“Hey, you watch adverts – you can get the gist from all the crap they want you to buy. That's all it is. Buying crap.”
Cas goes from unsatisfied to irritated fairly quickly. “Tell me about your Valentine's Days in the past, Dean.”
Dean looks at Cas like he's crazy.
“Do I look like the kind of guy who – ”
“Humour me, Dean. I am curious.”
Dean's quiet a moment, summing up Cas' request. After all, Dean's still a little worried that Cas might backtrack, might lose some of the happiness he's slowly gained in the past few months. He'd let Cas keep their Christmas tree up until mid-January, no complaints, because he was so damn anxious that without some holiday to get all cheery over, Cas would regress. He really likes Cas' smile.
… Hell, he might even be in love with Cas' smile.
“Okay,” he says finally, “I can only think of one valentine in my life that would actually count. Like – not a bar hookup or anything. Her name was Katy Smith. It was in eighth grade...”
Dean waits for Cas to laugh at him, but he doesn't. Of course he doesn't, Dean reminds himself, he has no concept of how lame this is. Emboldened by this realization, Dean plows on with his story. “Me and Sammy were new to the school district. Dad was tracking a chucacabra that kept giving him the slip. Finally he just dropped us off with a hunter pal of his while he went after it. We stayed with that family for about a month. I remember because I was pretty bummed because my dad wasn't around for my 14th birthday. He was finally gonna let me drive the Impala.”
There's a slight note of sympathy in Cas' eyes that Dean picks up on, and takes comfort in. He prides himself on being one of the only people who can read Cas well; he knows few other people would have caught it. Dean's also comforted by the fact that what he sees is not pity. Cas has daddy issues like Dean has daddy issues, and if anyone knows abandonment, it's Cas. Cas seems to notice Dean noticing, because he gives one of Dean's hands a hesitant squeeze. He's awkward, though, because being awkward is his thing, and their hands feel weird. Before Dean has the chance to decide to squeeze back, Cas' hand has released his. Dean plows on again, trying to verbally stampede over the awkward.
“But, yeah, Katy. The school was small so we ended up having all the same classes, so our homeroom teacher asked her to show me around. And we just... I don't know. Hit it off. She had dark hair and these crazy awesome blue eyes, I can still remember them. I followed her around like a lost puppy that month. I brought her to this Valentine's Dance at school, went the whole nine yards with roses and shit. I was out of my mind. Never again, man.” Dean chuckles lightly and runs a hand through his hair sheepishly, yet again thankful that Cas doesn't know enough of humanity to make fun of him.
“I see,” Cas says thoughtfully, eyes flicking to yet another ad on TV for chocolates. He is quiet until the commercial ends, expression unreadable. “Valentine's Day is... different, then. Well, regardless, I'm buying lawn decorations tomorrow morning. You're free to come with me if you want any say in the appearance of our flat.”
Regardless of what? Dean wants to ask, but he says nothing. There is a barely-there hint of... disappointment, maybe?, in Castiel's expression that Dean does not miss. It dawns on Dean that Cas has gathered, from Dean's story, that Valentine's Day is not a holiday he can participate in. For some reason, Dean feels shame heating his cheeks and he can't make eye contact with Cas anymore. Instead, he puts his arms around the man's waist and tugs him down so that he's cuddled against Dean's chest. They don't say anything – they never do – but their breathing harmonizes on the right frequency and it feels very, very right. Dean wishes he had the courage to do things like this more often, so that it would start to feel more natural. His heartbeat is pounding away a mile a minute in his ribcage, and all the while a small part of him is still afraid that Cas is going to pull away.
They end up falling asleep there, chest-to-chest, limbs tangled up with the TV softly playing in the background. The last thing Dean thinks before he falls asleep is that he's going to prove Cas wrong.
“Code Red, Sammy,” Dean says urgently into his mobile. He's in Walmart, pacing around, and everything around him is red, red, red. Red and pink decorations are everywhere, either for sale or decorating the store itself. Giant red hearts with Sale! and Always low prices! hang from the ceiling. There is an entire section devoted to festive candy, which is where Dean is currently. Cas is on the other side of the store, looking at lawn decorations. To the former-angel's absolute glee, there are decorations that light up, like Christmas ones. At the point they discovered this, Dean had accepted his fate – that he'd be doomed to forever be living in one of those homes. One of the flats that decorates for every possible occasion imaginable. If Leap Year had decorations, Dean's fairly certain that their flat would be decked out in those as well.
So, it was under the guise of disdain for his manliness that he split up with Cas and headed to the candy section to send an SOS to his little brother.
“Dean? What's wrong?” Sam's tone is very serious, and it occurs to Dean that he probably used his I'm On a Hunt and Need Dire Assistance voice, by accident. Oh well. This is still important. At least now he has Sam's attention.
“What kind of candy are you getting Sarah for Valentine's Day?”
Sam groans. “Are you serious, Dean? All you're doing for Castiel is buying chocolates and you can't even do that on your own?”
“What? - What, no, I... changed my mind.”
“I'm sorry, what was that?” Sam says, and there's something like gloating lying just under his tone. Dean grips the phone tight.
“I. Changed. My. Mind.”
“So what you're telling me is you, Dean Winchester – ”
“Changed my mind, Sammy, yes. Jesus. And if I change it again, it'll be your fault. So shut up – no, seriously, shut up. What candy do I buy? He'll be back over here soon.” Despite himself, Dean keeps looking over his shoulder, afraid to catch sight of Cas at any time.
“It's a little sad that you need to ask help for this, man.”
“Shut up, Sam. What kind are you getting Sarah?”
“Sarah's allergic to chocolate.”
Dean groans. “Of course she is. I don't know, I think I might be having second thoughts about this girl. Allergic to chocolate? Really?”
“Yes,” Sam says tightly, “But Castiel isn't, which is the point, if you'd kindly stick to it.”
“Huffy, huffy. Alright. There's so many damn kinds of chocolate. Should I just grab some Hershey's and –”
“No,” Sam cuts in quickly, firmly. “This is Castiel's very first Valentine's Day as a human. It's important that you go traditional about everything.”
“Meaning...?” Dean swears that his brother is his gay best friend sometimes, really. He finds it extremely ironic that he's the one in the non-hetero relationship here.
Well. Sort of relationship.
“Meaning get him the classic heart-shaped box of chocolates that doesn't tell you which kind is which.”
“Oh,” Dean says dumbly, dropping the extra-extra large Hershey's bar he's been examining. It looks pretty appealing in his opinion – it's about half the length of his forearm – but Sam is the expert here. Personally, Dean's always annoyed by never knowing what kind of candy he's about to stick in his mouth... but this is about Cas, not Dean. And Sam's right; Valentine's Day isn't really Valentine's Day unless someone gets a heart-shaped box of vague candies. “Alright. Thanks man.”
“Oh, and Dean?” Sam says.
“Don't get the cheap Walmart brand one, please.” Dean rolls his eyes, but has to smile to himself. His brother knows him well.
“Fine, fine. I'll spare no expense.”
“Good. I'm proud of you, Dean.”
“Oh, c'mon, Sam, don't act like I'm the cheapest guy in the world or some – ”
“No, not that. I mean... You're finally making an effort to hang on to something that makes you happy. This is the first time in a long time I've ever seen you do that. So... Yeah. Thanks, Dean.”
Dean suppresses the urge to groan again. Leave it to his chick-flick little brother to make Dean being nice to Cas suddenly some sort of personal present to him.
“I'm just trying to show Cas a good time,” Dean says awkwardly, evasively, because he's not entirely sure how to deal with the genuine happiness in Sam's voice. “Thanks, man, I owe you. I'll let you know how it goes.”
“If you need help picking engagement rings at any point...”
“I am hanging up on you now,” Dean announces, and does so.
Castiel is vehemently against cupid decorations, on principle, and Dean would be lying if he said he wasn't relieved. The little naked, winged babies with arrows freak him out and he'd hate to have them all over the house. He's okay with the array of heart-themed motifs Cas has decided on. The guy is actually pretty awesome at decorating.
There are rose-scented candles everywhere, filling the flat with a sweetness that is, thankfully, not at all overbearing. Cas clearly prefers them to proper lightning, so Dean doesn't protest when Cas often jumps up to flick off the lights if they're not using them for a specific purpose. The warm glow of the candles kinda remind Dean of Christmas lights. He muses that their flat is always going to be dimly lit for one reason or another, and finds that he doesn't mind at all.
Castiel has the front yard decorated with Valentine's Day things as well. Again, Dean is grateful for the mutual dislike for cupids; he'd seen a rather ghastly lawn ornament of a lit-up cupid throwing an arrow and had been afraid it might end up on their lawn. Castiel's tastes are far classier. The railing that leads up the stairs to their house is wrapped in rose shaped lights. They're very ornate and detailed, gorgeous compared to some of the cheesier options available. The center of the tiny square of grass that constitutes their yard has roses, as well; they are a set of five, plastic and on sticks, each varying in height. Beneath them, on the ground, Happy Valentine's Day! is written in lights. The roses have lights as well, and the yard looks magical at night. They're the only yard on their block with any sort of festivity, and Dean's surprised he's not as embarrassed as he should be. In fact, he's actually sort of pleased when he overhears the compliments of passersby.
Dean takes note of Cas' obvious (if not horrifically cliché) love for roses. His initial reaction, of course, is to add a bouquet of roses to his slowly building plan for the Big Day, but after a day or so of contemplation, he decides that he can do even better than that.
“That man we saved today called us faggots as we left,” Castiel says conversationally over dinner one night. It is four days until Valentine's Day. They're at a diner in Delaware and Dean's fairly certain they smell like they've been digging up graves. Which would make sense, because they have.
“Are you freaking kidding?” Dean asks after swallowing a big bite of the bacon cheeseburger he's eating. About halfway through the drive home, both men realized that making it all the way home on empty stomachs after a long hunt was out of the question. The flickering diner's sign on the side of the rode had been a beacon. “I swear to God, some people. He wouldn't even be alive if not for these faggots.”
“We must give off the appearance of a couple more than I was aware,” Cas says thoughtfully, between bites of salad. While Castiel's initial dining habits upon becoming a full-fledged human had been almost entirely cheeseburgers, Cas eats pretty healthily now. He says he owes it to Jimmy to take care of the vessel he accidentally, unceremoniously stole from him. When Dean had pointed out that Jimmy was a huge burger fan himself, Cas had just shrugged and said that Dean was missing the point.
Dean contemplates this a moment. They're both quiet as they eat.
“Are we a couple, Cas?” he asks after a beat. He knows it's an awkward question, but it's killing him and they are on the subject, after all. Castiel tilts his head.
“Up until less than a year ago, I was an angel, Dean. Why are you asking me as though I'd know, if you don't?”
Dean gives Cas a look like he's not quite sure what to make of the guy – and really, he's not – and then abruptly laughs. “Fair enough.”
They don't say anything more on the subject. They spend the rest of the meal discussing what an ugly son of a bitch their ganked ghost was tonight and whether or not they'll be back in time to catch American Idol.
Two days before Valentine's Day, Dean's getting some seriously cold feet. He can't help it – He's Dean Winchester, and he's not used to being vulnerable. Pulling out the red carpet for Cas, being boldly romantic... these are things that are way outside his comfort zone. He keeps thinking about the box of candy he got Cas and how roses are on sale right now. That's all Cas needs, really.
Then Dean thinks about the look on Cas' face after Dean had finished telling Cas about Valentine's Day. I was out of my mind. Never again, man. The look of disappointment, however slight, on Castiel's face had been unmistakable. Dean hated it then and he hates it now. He doesn't ever want to be the cause of a look like that on Cas' face. It's obvious that Cas' simple holiday decorating gives him a tiny sense of belonging to this holiday, enough to make him a little happy whenever they pull up to the flat and see the glowing roses. But it's not enough. Dean wants to make Cas smile. It doesn't happen often enough.
They're cuddled up on the couch watching – and Dean will deny this vehemently if ever questioned on it – Lilo and Stitch when Cas turns to him and asks, “do beaches really look like that?”
On screen, Lilo and company are surfing on pretty, animated waves to upbeat Hawaiian music.
“What? Have you never seen the ocean, Cas?”
Castiel shakes his head. “I was never stationed near one and never had cause to visit.”
Dean's jaw drops.
“Thousands of years on Earth and you've never been to the ocean. That's screwed up, Cas.”
Cas tilts his head like he always does when Dean confuses him. Dean just shakes his head – and then, a second later, abruptly kisses him. Cas kisses back, but his mouth feels confused as well.
“That was sudden,” he comments when their mouths part.
“You've never been to the damn ocean,” Dean says, like this explains everything. On screen, the musical sequence is over and the two men are quickly engrossed in the film again. Lilo and Stitch is Castiel's favourite Disney film. They watch Disney films a lot. Dean chalks it up to the fact that Cas is new to humanity. He didn't have a childhood to watch kid movies. With this logic, it's easier not to protest when Cas wants to watch them.
It's also easier to act like he doesn't actually like watching them, too, if he pretends he's just humoring Cas.
On Valentine's Day, Dean wakes up early.
Dean always sleeps in and Cas usually makes breakfast for them both before he even wakes up, so Dean decided early on that today, he was going to return the favor. He's not the world's best cook, and he's got nothing on Cas, but he's beast with French toast and happens to know that Cas loves it. It is an effort to stay quiet while cooking – he's used to blasting Kansas the few times he's ever actively involved in the kitchen – but he makes sure he's next to soundless so that Cas doesn't wake up.
Dean finds big, heart-shaped cookie cutters in a drawer and decides that today is not a day for pride; he cuts their toast into hearts. He sets a tray with breakfast, coffee (for him) and tea (for Cas), carefully lining up their forks on top of red napkins. He bites his lip and looks it over, trying to steady the inexplicably taut feeling in his chest. He takes a deep breath before taking the the tray to the other room, where Cas is asleep on his bed.
Dean places the tray on the edge of the bed and pulls open the curtains, letting in early morning sunshine to lighten the room. Cas shifts in his sleep and then yawns. Dean goes to his side and sits on the edge of the bed, gently shaking Cas' shoulder. “Morning, sleepy,” he says softly, and his voice sounds a little funny.
“Hello, Dean,” Cas says sleepily, voice groggy from sleep. He sits up and looks Dean over, then catches sight of the tray. A shocked expression slowly finds its way onto his face. A smile twitches at the edges of his lips that makes Dean's heart do crazy backflips he's inexplicably embarrassed of.
“Happy Valentine's Day, Cas,” Dean says. Dean's grinning ear to ear, embarrassed of himself for how proud of himself he is. He feels like a little kid coming home from school to show something he's made to his mom, or something. Cas' face lights up when Dean says it – not just the twitching-at-the-edges smile, but a bright genuine one that seems to make the living room feel brighter. He sits in the seat Dean's offered him, looking at Dean like he's not quite sure he believes what's going on.
“I thought you said, 'never again'?” Cas says as Dean shimmies into bed beside Cas, pulling the tray to their laps.
“Yeah, well, I say that a lot.”
Castiel visibly enjoys his meal, closing his eyes as he eats, making quiet noises of contentment every now and then. Dean can barely eat his own meal, he's so caught up in watching Cas. All he can think is how surprised Cas is going to be – that Cas probably thinks that this is is it. That breakfast in bed is all that Dean has planned. Cas keeps flashing his pretty smile at Dean and Dean's a little afraid he's going to turn into a puddle of melted chocolate if Cas doesn't stop soon.
“Thank you, Dean,” Cas says when he's done, and his voice is incredibly genuine.
“No prob, Cas,” Dean says – and Cas kisses him. Dean is caught off guard. Castiel doesn't initiate kisses very often.
“That was... very thoughtful, I wasn't expecting – ”
“Hey, man, thank me once the day is over,” Dean says with a mischievous smirk. Cas raises his eyebrows.
“I don't understand,” Cas says bluntly, and Dean loves him for it, loves him because he really doesn't understand, really isn't expecting anything. Cas isn't human enough to expect anything from Dean, and it is because of this that Dean wants to give him everything.
“You'll see. But right now, I want you to take off your shirt.” Dean takes the tray and puts it on the floor beside the bed. Cas tilts his head and gives Dean a curious look.
“Because I'd bet my soul that - ”
“Dean.” Whoops. Joking about your soul with the guy who dove into hell to save it probably isn't the best idea.
“Uh, I'd bet my car that you're tense as hell.”
“Just take it off.”
Cas eyes Dean warily but complies, tugging his shirt up over his head. Dean looks him over, clears his throat a moment and steadies himself. This idea wasn't entirely original. Every magazine with a Valentine's Day section on the rack suggested this. He's watched endless amounts of Youtube tutorials on it. He takes a deep breath, steeling himself, before clambering out of bed. He disappears into the bathroom a moment, with Cas watching after him curiously, and returns with a bottle of menthol oil.
“Lay down on your stomach,” Dean commands, and this time Cas doesn't question. He still looks a little close to panicking, though, and it's not doing much for Dean's nerves. He hums Hey Jude under his breath, and it seems to relax both of them.
Castiel jumps visibly when Dean touches him. Dean knows that his hands aren't cold; it's just suddenly quite obvious that no one has ever touched Castiel's bare skin before. Not since the vessel has been under his full control, anyway. The former angel's skin is like a wall of brick – Dean would have been right to bet his car, or even his soul, that Cas was tense. The magazines were right. Cas needed a massage big time.
It takes a minute or so for Cas to fully relax, but when he does, he's practically putty under Dean's hands. Dean revels in the tiny sighs Cas utters every now and then, takes pride in each sharp exhalation of breath. Slowly, slowly, Cas' taut and rigid muscles become more loose. Dean loses track of time, caught up in the feeling of Castiel's flesh in his hands. This is the most intimate the two of them have ever been with each other. It's... nice.
It's also goddamn hot, but Dean's not allowing his thoughts to go there just yet.
Castiel's breathing has slowed to the quiet thrum it usually assumes when he's sleeping when Dean finally deems his work finished. He wipes the residual oil from his hands onto his jeans and then crawls into bed beside Cas. Cas' eyes open, half-lidded. Dean's face is inches from Cas' when he tugs the blankets around them.
“Thank you,” Cas says, and Dean chuckles. He has no idea what comes over him, but he kisses Cas' nose. He's never kissed a nose before, not since Sammy was a baby. Cas tilts his head up and makes a proper kiss of it before burying his face in Dean's neck. This is new for them. They fall asleep curled against each other, the whole room smelling of menthol.