'The Assassin's Curse' by Cassandra Rose Clarke
The first time Dean kisses Cas, Cas doesn’t even know it’s happened.
A brief pass in the kitchen. Dean is digging around in the cupboard for allspice, Cas is trying to retrieve a glass of water. Their shoulders bump in passing, arms swinging by their sides. Dean extends two fingers and brushes them along Cas’ index finger, and Cas is warmed despite the fact that he knows the touch was accidental.
He leaves with his water, determined to finish his latest book before Dean finishes with dinner.
Sam shares any and all information he has found in the past few days regarding Men of Letters or lore in general. The first few times, when Castiel was a new addition to their private home-slash-base, he had interrupted constantly with ‘I could have told you that’, and Sam had fretted for two whole days and refused to even touch any more books because ‘Cas can tell us, just ask him’ and Dean didn’t even have to explain to him what he had done wrong.
He stopped interrupting. He knows all of the facts that Sam enthusiastically almost-shouts across the table, but he holds his tongue and eats his food, letting Dean’s eyes glow with pride and Sam buzz with accomplishment. It is a nice feeling.
Tonight, as Sam speaks, Dean’s attention is torn.
His eyes are on his brother, but they flicker constantly to Castiel, as if Dean is waiting for him to interrupt, or as if there is a practical joke hidden somewhere in Sam’s words. He concentrates as hard as he can, but doesn’t understand Dean’s odd behavior, and his food goes cold.
Dean had insisted that Castiel have a room, despite Castiel insisting that he does not sleep and therefore does not need one. Dean had insisted, and Castiel is glad for that.
While his boys rest, he sits quietly. Dean had brought him a haul of cheap, used books of varying styles and themes, and he is determined to make his way through them all. There is a rather large collection of half-full glasses sitting on his desk. He never does finish his water.
Tonight, Dean is restless.
From across the hall, Castiel can sense the unease in his thoughts, and the sound of Dean rolling and turning in the sheets is becoming increasingly distracting. He can’t concentrate on any of the words in front of him when he knows Dean is not comfortable.
And despite the numerous times that Dean has told him not to watch him sleep, Castiel finds himself getting up. The floor is cold against his bare feet, and he clenches his toes; a very human reaction. Dean is just across the hall, but Castiel takes his time. He tries to focus and pinpoint Dean’s distress, but finds a mass of static that he can’t interpret.
The moment he’s in the doorway Dean is grunting. “Cas, I’m trying to sleep.”
“With very little success.”
Dean says nothing else, and Castiel takes that as permission to move closer, stand right next to the bed. There’s no light in the room. “Cas-“
“Please tell me what’s bothering you.”
The question, in it’s quiet sincerity, makes Dean roll onto his back and look in the general direction that Cas is standing. Usually, in situations like this, Cas demands and pushes and insists, but this time he simply waits.
Dean’s bitter laugh surprises him. “It’s really nothing, Cas. Go back to bed.”
Cas doesn’t move. He will not move until Dean’s mind is resting.
Dean, of course, sighs. “It’s really fucking stupid, Cas. Go back to bed.”
“If it’s bothering you this much, it’s not stupid.”
There’s a spike of something – anxiety, fear… more unknown.
“I thought I told you to stop spying on my thoughts.”
“I’m not. You aren’t very good at hiding anxiety. Hence my request. Please tell me what’s bothering you so I can help.”
“You’re not going to leave until I tell you, are you?”
Castiel smiles. “You taught me what it means to be stubborn.”
Dean’s laugh is more genuine this time around. “Yeah. Yeah, I did.”
It’s dark, and Dean’s eyes are adjusting, but he still reaches out blindly, and Cas takes a step back automatically, unsure of what he wants. Dean huffs in affectionate aggravation. “Take my hand, Cas.”
So Cas does. Lets Dean pull him down to sit on the bed.
“You ever got around to that Star Trek book I got you?”
“Not yet. It is next on my list.”
“Yeah- go figure. Okay, I’m about to go real sci-fi geek on you, and you can’t tell any of this to Sam. Ever, Cas.”
“Alright,” Dean shifts to sit up, obviously still uncomfortable. It’s still completely dark. “So, Star Trek was a TV show first, as you know. Or you should know. And there’s this other race, these aliens called Vulcans.”
“Spock is a Vulcan?”
“Yeah, Cas. Mr. Spock is a Vulcan.” He doesn’t question why Cas knew that. “And Vulcans, Gene Roddenberry made them all up, and they don’t kiss people like well – like people do. Humans, I mean. They don’t use their lips.”
Cas’ brow furrows. A kiss without lips? “Do they rub noses, like – Eskimo kisses?”
A burst of affection hits Castiel square in the chest, and he can feel Dean’s smile as though it is pressed against his neck. “No, Cas. Not Eskimo kisses. They use their fingers.”
Castiel tilts his head. “Fingers?”
“Yeah.” Dean reaches out, waiting for Cas to takes his hand, and Dean curls his hand into a fist, leaves his index and middle finger extended and pressed together. Castiel does the same, and Dean fumbles a bit, but manages to press their fingertips together. “They kiss like this.”
Castiel blinks. There is a beat of all-encompassing silence. It is dark. “You did this to me earlier.”
“Yeah,” Dean’s voice kind of cracks with a laugh. “Yeah.”
“You Vulcan-kissed me.”
Dean doesn’t say anything.
“…Is this what’s bothering you?”
“Yeah. I guess I was sort of… expecting you to get it. Which is really stupid of me.”
“I understand, now.”
Their fingers are still touching. Castiel slides his down a bit, and a flare of heat shoots through Dean’s arm. Castiel has all of the time in the world to react to Dean touching his face, to Dean leaning in closer and clumsily searching for his mouth in the dark. Dean shuts his eyes despite the fact that he can’t see, regardless.
Castiel does the same, though he isn’t sure why.
Dean’s lips are chapped, soft, and sure, moving just so in a gentle press until he pulls away for air. Castiel does not open his eyes, simply presses their lips back together and lowers Dean down so he can finally sleep; kissing his forehead and his lips and his eyes until he does.
He returns to his room, ignores his previous book, and picks up the one that vaguely looks like it says ‘Star Trek.’ There’s a sub-heading that is too stained and torn to be legible.
There is no mention of their kiss the next morning. There is no mention of Vulcans or sci-fi or kisses in pitch darkness. Dean does not approach Castiel to tell him he loves him, and Castiel respects Dean by following his lead.
Dean is trying to make homemade bread. Castiel walks up behind him while he kneads, sprinkling flour over the counter top and pressing into the dough with the heels of his palms.
Dean stops, drops a hand down, extending two fingers. Castiel presses them together like the night before and, smiling against the back of Dean’s neck, moves over and whispers “T’hy’la” between his shoulders.
Dean intertwines their fingers.