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Title: Harbor Lights 3c/?
Author:  chartruscan
Characters/Pairings: Dean/Castiel
Warnings: Abuse of reality, WIP
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: ~2100
Summary: The Winchester brothers are a team to be feared by the criminals of their waterfront city. Or, the one where Castiel is an asexual doctor who attracts insane stalkers amorous suitors and Dean pretends to be his boyfriend to scare them all away.  Also, they fight crime.

A/N: sorry for the delay.  This was a long scene that was tough because I was trying hard to make sure it didn’t veer too far into afterschool special territory.  A breeze to outline, but much harder to execute (not so much in the execution as the getting my frightened but to sit down and type).  So, yeah, this is just oneginormous scene, no plot but hopefully lots of character and relationship building, please be gentle!


 

 

***


After Castiel agreed, very grudgingly, to let Dean out of the apartment, they faced the obstacle of dealing with Dean’s Official City Babysitter.  They passed the cop guarding Dean and Sam’s apartment with a jaunty wave from Dean.  They had almost reached the end of the block before the officer began following them on foot.  Dean sighed dramatically and picked up the pace.

Dean enjoyed the fresh early summer air and the chance to stretch his legs as they wended their way over to the marina boardwalk.  The harbor breeze cut through any lingering heat, the year still too young to be oppressive with humidity.  Sam and Dean’s apartment was a five story hulking block of industrial concrete of converted apartments, not the nicest of buildings in not the nicest of neighborhoods, aesthetically speaking, but it was a short walk to the harbor shuttle, and just a little longer to the marina where the trendy nightclubs and restaurants with the outdoor seating and competing live music on most nights and weekends.  A little too new and manufactured for Dean’s taste, but he liked the view, the boats lined up on the docks and the way the lights reflected in the water up and down the shore line.  He’d come here early in the morning sometimes with a to-go cup of coffee and watch the sun rise, with Sam sometimes, although alone or together those early morning rituals had started to dwindle as they each became overloaded and overwhelmed with work.

Dean’s steps became slower as they hit the first dock, and Castiel guided them over to a bench, helping Dean settle down.  The officer leaned against the railing further back, keeping as unobtrusive as possible while eyeing the Monday evening crowds swooping in for happy hour.

Dean closed his eyes and breathed in the sea air, panting slightly.  “Think I overdid it, Cas.”

Castiel continued to stand and stare at him a moment longer than normal people did.  “It’s good to know your limitations,” was all he replied.  Dean squinted up at him, unsure if Castiel was mocking him or approving that he’d gotten this far.

“Cas.”

“Yes, Dean?”

“Siddown.”

Castiel hesitated, then sat awkwardly, the breeze tugging at his open collar, pushing his dark hair from his brow.  

They both inhaled the scent of brine and motor oil and dead fish.  Couples, groups of colleagues, a few boisterous local college students, and families walked past them to get their overpriced suppers.  For the moment, they are just as they are, a couple of guys out for a walk.  Dean looking pasty with sweat drying on his brow in the breeze, Castiel looking innocent, angelic, and lost.  Dean knew that the hungry looks directed their way were for Castiel.  

With a sudden clarity, he understood why Castiel had such a problem with would-be suitors.  They were attracted to that innocence, and wanted to take it away, to dirty and corrupt him, to be the ones that did it.  He knew too many of that kind of person, and guiltily counted himself as a part-time member of their ranks.

The ones that might actually be good to Castiel were the ones that shied away in awe.

Dean felt a surge of protectiveness clench in his gut.

Castiel shifted closer, placing a hand on Dean’s knee, surprising Dean until he saw the wolf in tight white-washed jeans and a black mesh tank leering their way --Castiel’s way.

“Jesus, Cas, you dog,” Dean laughed softly, head turned sideways into Castiel’s shoulder.  “I can’t take you anywhere.”

Castiel’s ears were burning red, and he muttered, “And Sam wonders why I don’t leave my apartment.”

Dean continued to chuckle even as Castiel elbowed him in the ribs.  

Dean sobered, rubbing his side.  “Why don’t you just, I dunno Cas . . . actually date?  Wouldn’t a real boyfriend, or hell, girlfriend, be better than this?  Get the skeezy masses off  your back?”

“What?”

“You know,” Dean says, raising an eyebrow.  “Be in an actual, real, live relationship?”

Dean let Castiel be silent for a moment, content to breathe in deep and give the occasional passerby the stinkeye as seagulls called out overhead.  

After a while of comfortable silence, Castiel finally replied.

“It’s difficult . . . trying to get potential partners to believe me . . .  Trying to get . . . sexual people to believe me.  Western fiction, literature, movies, they would all have us believe that the average human male is a sexual creature to whom which not having sex is a stigma.  Dating is . . . "  He struggled to find the right word, finally settling on, "Tiresome.”

“I’m not big on the dating scene either, mind you,” Dean replied amicably.  

He still boggled at the no-sex thing, it just struck him as a hungry man saying he didn’t feel too keen on eating.  Cas remained silent, so Dean offered, “I guess hooking up’s not an option when hooking up isn’t an option.  Shit, man.”

Cas smiled ruefully and looked out over the harbor, the line of boats at dock, the sailboats further out with their sails unfurled.  The sky was beginning to pink and blue shadows to settle.  Eventually he shifted, and Dean felt him tense.

“Have you . . .” Castiel began hesitantly.  “Have you even had a . . . serious relationship?  Not just . . . “hooking up”, but . . . in love?”

It was Dean’s turn to shift uncomfortably and tense, finding the little girl dancing a salsa on the boardwalk with her grandfather, music drifting from one of the restaurants behind them, a suddenly deserving focus of his attention.

“Dean?”

“Christ, Cas, yes, okay?”  Dean looked indignant, like the idea of having been in love and being exposed for it was a cause for great shame.  

“Does this ruin your reputation as a “ladies man”?”  From anyone else Dean would have assumed that he was being mocked, but this was Castiel.

“Dude, stop using the air quotes, and yes, for fuck’s sake.”  He didn’t clarify what he was saying yes to.

Castiel finally got the hint that this was a tender subject and fell silent.

Dean muttered, “I’m not the-- I tried it, it didn’t take.  That’s-- that was Sammy’s gig.”  

Cassie had been the one, at least so he’d thought.  Smart, funny, and she'd  thought Dean was smart and funny, too.  Loved to get greasy with Dean when he worked on the Impala, unashamed about not knowing how to change the oil on her car but open to learning.  She’d eat hot wings from Hooters with a smile and a belch and he’d been opened to a world of Eritrean cuisine.    They accepted each other’s strengths and weaknesses, haves and lacks, complimenting each other in the best ways.  

Dean hadn’t talked to anyone about the reasons they'd ended except Sam, who’d known the most of it anyways.

He didn’t know why Castiel was asking this, and now of all times, but, despite his initial reticence, he kept talking.  “We were talking about getting married.”  He clasped his hands and looked between his feet at the boardwalk. “I tried-- we tried to make it work, but, well, like I said, I guess relationships aren’t my thing.  We loved each other.  We both tried.  But, hell, I guess sometimes love isn’t enough, y’know?  So, yeah, I’ve given up on the whole dating thing, too.  If I couldn’t make it work with Cassie, fuck-all chance I’ve got with anyone else.”

Dean was beyond grateful that Castiel didn’t try to offer sympathetic noises or anything else equally useless for a relationship years dead.  

After a moment Dean awkwardly said, “So, yeah, there’s that.  Why?”

Castiel was staring out across the water, deep in thought, the westering sun casting a warm on the back of his head and shoulders.

“You loved each other very much, and tried to make it work.”

“Yeah,” Dean sighed.

Castiel bit his lower lip, then said, “Imagine that she never allowed you to have intercourse with her.  How long do you think you would have kept trying?  How much sooner would it have all fallen apart, do you think?”

Dean was up like a shot.  “Oh, fuck you!”  A man and woman pulled their young child closer and hurried onward down the boardwalk.  

Dean was livid.  He’d just bared his heart and Castiel was using it to make a point.  He stalked over to the railing, fuming.  Jesus fucking . . . He didn’t know if Castiel had followed, and he didn’t give a damn.  Of all the  . . .

Sex with Cassie had been good, great, fucking fantastic.  Even when they’d argued, disagreed, picked fights over mayoral candidates, Cassie’s dishes in the sink or Dean’s laundry on the floor, or whether Dean should give a flying fuck that the exotic honeybees were disappearing when native bumblebees did a better job pollinating crops, the sex had been phenomenal.

Castiel stepped up beside him, murmuring softly, “I’m-- I apologize.  I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“You don’t know the first thing about me and Cassie,” Dean spat.

“I am not disparaging the relationship you had, that wasn’t my intent.”

Dean relaxed his death-grip on the weathered wood, letting his temper subside.  “Then what the fuck, Cas?” Dean asked quietly.

Truth was, Dean was forced to admit that if he and Cassie hadn’t connected so well physically, they would have been done halfway through their year-long relationship.   

Castiel said, almost too low to hear, “Just . . . imagine that relationship ending four times faster, and that’s every date I’ve ever attempted.  It’s a non-starter.”

Dean leaned his elbows against the railing and hung his head between.  Fuck, he felt bad for the guy.  And thinking about Cassie made him aware in a way he tried to never be just how alone he was, and how his endless stream of one-night stands would never satisfy.  He lifted his head and stared out at the orange-tipped waves.

“I think that’s about all I'm destined for, Cas, for what it’s worth.  I don’t think I’m cut out for relationships.  God bless the woman who ever gets stuck with my sorry ass.”

He saw Castiel tilt his head, felt his intense gaze on him which he studiously ignored, feeling like he’d already given too much away.  Dean Winchester, ladies man and cheerful lech, alone and lonely.

What Castiel said next had him almost blushing in discomfort.

“You deserve good things, Dean.  Even love.”

“Shit, Cas, don’t say things like that.”

“Why not?”

“It’s, God, it’s freaking gay, is why.”  

Dean chanced a look at Castiel, who had an amused eyebrow quirked at him, saying quite clearly, And?.  Castiel elbowed him again, a crinkle to his eyes.

“Whatever,” Dean mumbled, unable to help the smirk beginning to pull at his face.

Castiel stepped back and tugged gently on his shirt sleeve.  At Dean’s questioning look Castiel said, “I’m hungry.”

As they made their way back the way they’d come, the glow of the setting sun now in front of them, Dean spotted the wolf who’d been leering at Castiel earlier and automatically reached out for Castiel’s hand, giving the guy a glare.  Castiel looked at him and then their joined their joined hands in surprise, eyes sliding surreptitiously over to catch what had Dean’s attention.  He pressed closer to Dean as they passed the man and Dean slung an arm around Castiel’s shoulders.  

After they left the lapping waves and overlapping music behind, it was just their footsteps, plus one set shadowing them.  Dean suddenly remembered the kindergarten cop tailing him and threw back his head and groaned.

Castiel looked at him in confusion as Dean lamented, “I’m never getting laid again.”  This would be all over the precinct when he got back to work.

Castiel, the bastard, merely grinned, comfortable against his side.

“Oh no,” Dean warned, pulling Castiel down further, twisting him into his chest in a mock choke-hold, making Castiel stumble as they walked.  “You gotta be nice to me, or no more fake boyfriend for you.”

They straightened out and Dean shoved him off, only for Castiel to reclaim his hand just to see Dean’s ears redden again.  Dean rolled his eyes and let Castiel keep his hand.

The nicer area of the marina quickly tapered into chain-link fences, weedy yards filled with faded plastic toys, empty lots, and the large white oil terminals looming over the low rooftops; the plan being to get Dean’s car and head out to the diner.  They took it slower so that Dean wouldn’t become as winded as quickly, and Dean found he wasn't in a hurry any more.  

When they were almost back to the not-as-sketchy neighborhood that Dean and Sam lived in, Dean asked, a pensive look on his face as he gave up trying to figure out the problem he'd been stewing over on his own, “How the heck do you have a relationship without sex?”

Castiel shrugged, ears pink in the setting sun, then squeezed Dean’s hand.

“Just like this.”  

Castiel didn’t see the look of surprise and not a little panic on Dean’s face.


***

TBC
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