When he hears Cas come in he’s cleaning up the kitchen and kind of dancing around to Benny Goodman. Not that he can really dance. Or that he’s had many opportunities to. He smiles at Cas, wondering what it would be like to dance with him.
"Thanks, I snagged mom’s recipe book on my way home from school," he explains and picks up the book to show Cas. It’s filled with her sloped script, having written down her mother’s recipes and come up with some of her own. She made masterpieces with as little money as she spent on food.
"Maybe one day I’ll try to make her pie," he says and flips back to the back of the book. There is a recipe for apple pie with a comment added to the side. It says ‘Dean’s favorite!’. He touches the penciled in words with his fingers and grins at the page even though tears are stinging at his eyes.
"You know how I used to stay home sick a lot? Then dad would get mad because he thought she was mollycoddling me? To make it up to me she would make this pie."
A couple of tears run down his cheek but he’s still smiling at the memory. “She started doing it after I survived scarlet fever when I was five. It was like she was celebrating that I was still alive.”
He moves to stand next to Dean and looks over his shoulder at the beloved cookbook. He rubs Dean’s shoulder and pulls him close, knowing that he’s still hurting over the loss. ”I’d like that. Mary’s pies were always the best,” he murmurs.
Cas listens to Dean’s remembrances of his mother and smiles. He knew Mary was kind and loving and she had always been like a second mom to him. He misses her too, but not as much as Dean does.
"She probably was," he agrees and wipes away Dean’s tears. "You’re her only son after all. Probably the only good thing to come out of her marriage to that bastard you call a father."
He takes the book from Dean gently and closes it as he sets it aside safely. ”Let’s get some dinner in you. You’re probably starving. I know I am.”
Cas checks that the curtains are closed before he kisses Dean’s hair. He pulls away and helps Dean set up the table and carves up the chicken for them. It’s too much for just the two of them, but with some bread, they could make some sandwiches for tomorrow.
Several months pass and Dean and Cas eventually find a new apartment. One with two bedrooms and very far away from John but still close to school so that Dean won’t get too tired walking there.
"I’ll teach them to use chopsticks," he teases. As much as they’ve grown up they’re still his well behaved children, entertaining themselves quietly with a few toys. He relaxes as he looks at Aniel and Arwen, more so than when he was trying to force himself to earlier. Dean smiles and breathes deep. Maybe it will be okay.
"Seafood pasta sounds great," he says, sounding guarded but not tense. He is trying to remember that all of this is normal, being in a war zone with people getting killed around him isn’t.
Dean goes to the fish area to look over everything. “Can you do the mussels in the white wine. You did that once and it was really good.” He gets a bunch from the guy behind the counter and some salmon for tomorrow. “I just realized I haven’t had fish since I left. I guess I’m craving it now.
He takes his time looking through the store, happy to be somewhere where the food is identifiable. “I want to eat everything and I already ate. I don’t think I can stress enough how bad the food was over there.”
He laughs at Dean’s joke, but shakes his head. ”I think chopsticks are a little too complicated for them. And I don’t want anyone poking at eye out.” Castiel sighs at the thought and shakes his head. Chopsticks will definitely come after they develop better motor skills.
"That sounds like a great idea," he agrees and pushes the stroller to keep up with his mate. He’s glad that Dean seems to be relaxing a little. Maybe even enjoying himself in a place surrounded by food.
"I thought I was the omega," he jokes and adds the packet of pasta to their basket. Castiel leans over and kisses Dean’s cheek gently. "It’s alright. I’ll make you good food. You’ll be able to identify all of the ingredients I used and you’ll never see another can in our home so long as we live."
Castiel picks up a few fresh herbs and a bottle of white wine to take with them. ”Is there anything else you want? I don’t mind spending a little extra to let you give your taste buds a treat,” he offers as they approach the register.
After they’ve paid for everything, they walk back home and the twins are giggling, playing with their stuffed bear that they brought along. Castiel puts them and their bear on the play blanket in the living room when they get home. ”If you want, you can play the piano while I get started on the pie,” he offers.
He puts away the groceries and takes out the ingredients for the pie. Castiel carefully peels the apples and slices them into even pieces. He prepares the crust and the filling, glad that he’s able to do this little thing for Dean. And when the pie is in the oven, baking, he goes to sit with the twins to play with them though they were doing just fine entertaining themselves.
"I’ll rise but I refuse to shine," he answers groggily and puts the pillow over his head. Dean lets himself lay there for a minute more before getting up and going through his suitcase to get some clothes for the day. Once he’s dressed he fries them up some eggs and slices up a tomato for the toast.
It feels domestic. It is domestic. He likes it, wonders if they could pull off living together forever. They eat their breakfast at the little table in the kitchen then Dean gets his sketch books together and into his bag. One day maybe they’ll both leave for work like this, older. Housemates to everyone else, lovers to themselves.
He feels a pang of jealousy when he sees a guy holding hands with a girl as they walk to the campus. Dean gives Cas a lopsided smile, wondering if he feels the same thing. They part ways on the campus without so much as a second look to one another.
His classes go smoothly. One of his professors chastises him for making a picture look too cartoony but the guy is a bit of a bully to everyone so it’s to be expected. No one in the art department is hiring though. He heads to the newspaper next and talks to a couple of people, leaving a few sketches just in case and taking the classifieds to look for something so he can help out.
On the way back home he swings by his dad’s apartment and takes the recipe book and a few pictures of his mother. Dean isn’t sure what this means, that he’s moving more stuff over to Cas’ place but he supposes that if he has to go back he can just move it again. While he’s waiting on Cas to get home he bakes a chicken and some vegetables using his mom’s recipe.
Cas loves Dean’s breakfasts even the ones as simple as this. To be honest, he loves anything his boyfriend makes and he’s pretty sure Dean knows since he savors every bite.
Since he’s already dressed, Cas grabs his bookbag by the door and waits for Dean to walk out with him. He does see the couple as they walk onto campus, but he doesn’t comment. Cas has grown used to the sight and knowing that he’ll never be able to share those same simple moments with Dean. But he’s fine with that as long as they can live together.
His classes are the usual. An art class with Dean where he gets annoyed with the professor for critiquing his friend’s natural talent. Literature where they’re reading Shakespeare and Locke next week. There are other classes, but they go just as smoothly as the others.
Work is a little busier than usual. For some reason more students need access to the archives today and while he doesn’t question it, it does keep him and Peggy on their toes. And he’s absolutely happy to leave when his day is over.
Cas frowns with confusion as he walks into his apartment and it smells of herbs and chicken and vegetables. He almost thinks he’s back at his parents’ house for a minute, but then he remembers that Dean is living with him, temporarily, and he grins wide.
"Hey," he greets Dean as he walks into the kitchen, leaving his bag by the door where he likes it. He breathes in the scents again, reminded of home and reminding himself that he’s home if Dean’s here. Dean’s his home. His smile goes sappy and Cas chuckles softly. "Dinner smells great."
His children are so different now. They have teeth and they’re stronger. Dean looks at them sadly and holds onto them tightly. “They seem happy to see me, but I guess they’re pretty happy to see anyone. How are they doing at the gym child care?”
He helps Cas get the kids in the stroller before they set out. It’s strange being out in the open like this and not having to hold onto a rifle. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Cas being close helps a great deal but all he sees are possible threats and it’s hard to relax. His hands flex around an invisible rifle, tucked into his chest.
Dean doesn’t realize that he’s doing it until their headed into the grocery store. He sighs and tries to relax again. “Oh, wow, real food,” he jokes and smiles at Cas. “What kind of apples do you use?”
He grabs a basket and looks around. Even though he ate he could try just about everything he sees. Without even prompting he puts a bunch of bananas in it. “Do the kiddos need me to make them food? Probably not, they don’t eat mush any more do they.”
He gives Dean a sad smile because his husband has missed a good chunk of their childrens’ brief lives, but at least they have the videos and pictures to look back on in years to come. ”They’re doing just fine. The daycare workers seem very competent and kind,” Castiel reassures Dean as they head out the door.
The walk to the store is a short, but familiar route to him. He’s used it nearly everyday since moving to the new apartment after all. He wonders how it feels for Dean though. A quick look to his mate tells him that the alpha is tense and he worries, wondering just how much his tour had affected him.
"Mutsu apples if they’re available," he answers as he browses the fruits and stops at the apples to pick out some. He puts a few of the yellow-green apples in the basket with Dean’s bananas and gives his husband a smile as he adds some strawberries too.
"They might not be eating mushy foods anymore, but they still like the softer foods. And you can always help feed them. They haven’t quite gotten used to using spoons yet." He smiles and then leads Dean over to look at tomatoes and lettuce for burgers.
"What do you think about burgers for dinner? Thought it might not be a bad idea. Though I suppose we did have sandwiches for lunch." He sighs softly and walks around before settling on looking at the different kinds of pasta available.
"Maybe seafood pasta? Does that sound good to you?" he asks Dean and chuckles as he has to keep little hands away from the store shelves.
Dean nods as his hair is kissed. Sleep sounds good. He sighs when he sees that the couch isn’t made up then pulls on the pajamas Cas laid out for him. The drawstring has to be tightened a lot but he manages to keep them on as he heads to the couch to make it up to keep up appearance. It takes him a few minutes, between his ass being sore, the coughing, and that he’s so tired but he gets it done.
Once back in bed he fumbles for the alarm clock and sets it so they can get to class in the morning. Dean has a big day ahead of him if he’s going to look for jobs that much. He really should and the walking around might help his cough. Or make it worse, it was really hit or miss with the way his body reacted to stimuli.
He looks up at the ceiling, thinking. The only way this would work is if they got a two bedroom and in order to do that he needs to get a job. But to do that he’d have to abandon his father. John wasn’t a great person but he took care of his family and worked hard. Dean sighs and rolls over on his side, still a little tender even as careful as Cas had been.
Sometimes he wonders what it’s like from Cas’ perspective. Cas could have anyone he wants, not some bony guy that was constantly coming down with some illness. But it’s not just choosing him, sometimes he wonders what it would be like to be inside Cas like that. He’ll have to think about it later because he’s struggling to stay awake until Cas gets done with the bathroom.
Dean falls asleep curled up in a little ball, hair falling in his face. He’s wheezing in his sleep but that’s normal for him and it doesn’t wake him up.
Cas comes out of the bathroom towel drying his hair, but pauses when he looks into his living room to see the couch made. He instantly feels bad for forgetting to do that and looks to Dean in his own bed.
Dean’s already asleep and he’s wheezing again. It used to worry him when they were younger, but he’s gotten used to it. Especially since this is the usual wheezing and not the more labored ones like when Dean’s really sick. Those times Mary had always been hesitant about letting him visit since it felt like anything could set Dean off into a coughing fit.
He considers sleeping on the couch and letting Dean have the bed to himself. His hair is wet and Dean’s already sleeping so peacefully, he would hate to accidentally wake him. But he shakes his head. Dean would probably be upset with him if he did sleep on the couch.
After getting dressed in his own pajamas, Cas climbs into bed with Dean. He lies down curled around Dean protectively and brushes his hair back so that it’s not in the blond’s face. Cas falls asleep easily like this, being curled up around the first and only love of his life.
The sound of an alarm he doesn’t recall setting wakes him up and Cas grumbles softly. He reaches back and turns the cursed thing off before rolling out of bed and stretching. ”Rise and shine, Dean. We’ve got class after breakfast,” he says around a yawn and walks away to get some eggs and toast ready.
Despite the careful movements, Dean still jumps slightly when Cas touches him. He immediately gives his husband an apologetic look and shakes his head. “No, I’m going to do this. It’s just getting dressed, right?”
Now he fully understands what some people had talked about when they said even picking out clothes was a struggle. Being deployed was easy. He followed orders, he wore the same thing every day, and all of those alpha instincts were channeled into the one thing he was taught that he was good at, killing. It was pure and he was pure, here he was masquerading as a normal member of society and it was wearing him out just trying to get dressed.
He pulls out a black t-shirt and pulls the cardigan over it once it’s one. As soon as the sweater is on he notices that it’s Cas’ and not his but he has lost so much weight that it’s not too tight. Dean sighs and leaves it on because changing will be just too much for him.
What’s next? Oh jeans or something. Slowly he goes through the drawers, pulling out underwear, socks, and a pair of jeans then goes to sit on the bed with his family. “Tired of those uniforms,” he says with a force laughed. It’s a bold faced lie.
Dean gets dressed, trying to seem like he’s not bothered and perfectly fine. He smiles over at Cas when he’s finished and reaches out to press the button on the book so it lights up again. “I’m ready to go get apples,” he says with a little smile.
He makes no mention of the cardigan and smiles encouragingly. ”You look good,” he complements Dean after his mate’s fully dressed.
Castiel looks him over and hums softly, smiling in approval, but laughs softly as the twins squeal in delight at the light show. His smile fades though and he wonders what Dean’s thinking. It’s easy to see that Dean isn’t quite happy here and it hurts Castiel to realize that.
"Oh. Yeah. We should," he says as he’s jolted from his stupor and he tries his best to smile again. "We can go get some other things too. Probably some stuff for dinner or more pies." He makes the offer hoping to get his husband to cheer up some more.
Castiel gathers the twins into his arms and passes them to Dean, Aniel and Arwen immediately grabbing onto their sire’s sweater and looking up at him with toothy grins. He walks out of the bedroom and leaves his mate with the twins while he grabs the stroller and his wallet. He also grabs his keys, remembering the one time he had accidentally locked himself out. He won’t be telling Dean that story, that’s for sure.
Once the twins are strapped in and Dean’s ready, he leads them down the street. He keeps an eye on Dean and keeps close, leaning against his arm lightly. Ideas of what to make for dinner are already floating around in his head. Something that Dean likes, but not something too fancy. Probably just something simple and feels like home. Maybe burgers then.
As soon as Cas has vacated his personal space Dean rolls over on his side and curls up in a tight ball, trying to breathe evenly. Having the weight off his chest helps a great deal but his cough still feels humid like maybe Cas wasn’t the true culprit. “No you’re fine, it’s probably just from being outside.”
He can’t even attend his own mother’s funeral without getting ill. Dean accepts the glass of water with a smile and chokes down half of it. “I’m staying here for a few days, at least until this,” he gestures at his chest to explain the cough, “settles down and John ‘s had time to drink away his mourning. Then I’ll decide.”
Dean coughs again but it’s just a clear of his throat and the settling of his lungs. He leans into the kiss to his forehead and sighs. Maybe he should be outside more, so his body got used to it. He wonders what a doctor would say. Probably to stay inside and not take too much exercise.
"I’m going to go clean up," he says lowly and sets the glass down on the bedside table to walk to the bathroom. He moves quickly because his skinny ass is nothing to be gazed at even if Cas never makes fun of him for it. Once inside he cracks the door and starts up the water. Dean showers quickly then wraps up in Cas’ robe and towels off his hair looking in the mirror. He looks terrible.
"Maybe I should take a nap and see if I feel better," he muses as he walks out of the bathroom. "Today took a lot out of me and beer always makes me sleepy." Dean sits on the edge of the bed and looks at Cas questioningly.
He nods his head in understanding. ”I’ll pick you up something for the cough in the morning. Hopefully it’ll help.”
Cas watches Dean walk to the bathroom and smiles a little. He might not realize it, but Dean has this really graceful way of walking that makes his hips sway a little. Not like those gals on Broadway, but more subtle. It’s really mesmerizing.
He shakes his head and chuckles to himself when Dean’s out of sight. If Dean knew that he stared, would his boyfriend think he was a pervert? Unlikely. Dean wasn’t the type to judge.
While Dean’s in the shower, he puts away the glass and changes out the sheets for a fresh set. Thinking that dust might agitate Dean’s cough, Cas cleans up his apartment a little too until he hears the water being shut off and he returns to his room, only now realizing he did his chores in the nude.
"Sleep would be good. It’s already late anyways, so sleep as long as you want. I’ll try to make my mom’s chicken noodle soup in the morning." Cas pulls the comforter down for Dean and pulls out a spare set of pajamas. They’re definitely going to be too big, but it was better than nothing.
"You get some rest. I’m going to take a shower and I’ll join you after." Cas smiles, kissing Dean’s damp hair again before he heads to the bathroom to take a quick shower.