Grilled Cheese & Cereal Deaths
Dean unlocks the door to his apartment, his forehead resting against the wood and eyes closed in a calculative fashion as he turns his key in the lock.
He’s opened this door thousands of times before, and has collected enough data to reach the conclusion that he does it better when he’s not looking at it. His fingers know exactly what to do, relying on muscle memory and the grooves of the key; but when he’s looking, it takes him a minute to figure out which key is for which, since he’s got every key he owns attached to his purple-pink, rubber ‘I want to break free’ keychain.
Having to not pay attention as he’s unlocking the door allows him to start thinking about Cas again, as if he hasn’t been doing it all four hours of his drive back from Kansas. Cas should be awake right now, it’s only ten, but then he knows this is Cas, infamous for sleeping the weirdest hours known to man. One day, he’s snoring by five pm without a trace of dinner in him, and the next, he’s nudging Dean awake at three am for pancakes.
The lock clicks, and Dean straightens.
It’s only been three days since he’s seen Cas, but he misses him. He considers surprising him, because their door has a silent lock, which Cas wouldn’t have heard unless he’s in the living room - which he never is, unless Dean barters cuddles on the couch in exchange for a Dr Sexy watching partner. Cas is more of a bedroom person. Occasionally, a balcony person. Or, weirdly, sometimes, a hallway person.
Dude just settles cross-legged on the floor, in the middle of the hallway, with his book on his thighs and elbows on his knees, and doesn’t move until Dean almost trips over him, hence finding him, and nagging at him to at least sit on something with a mattress.
Fuck, he misses him.
Dean swings open the door, deciding not to think anymore, and just get to his boyfriend and kiss him and - he steps in.
“I’m back!” He sings exaggeratedly, hands on his hips, giant grin pulling the corners of his lips up.
“Dean!” Cas yelps, his voice the kind of heavy only sleep deprivation can cause. Dean takes a moment to scan his face, the bags under his eyes and his slightly unfocused eyes.
Cas’s eyes blink wide and lips completely pursed, like the child who was caught with his hand in the candy jar. But here, the proverbial jar is a stack of books so high - they come all the way up to Cas’s hip, beginning from a two-feet-high table, and the proverbial child is a panicky IT major who knows exactly how long ago he should’ve taken a nap.
Dean sets down his bag next to the door.
“Come here.” Dean lifts his arms, beckoning with a soft voice.
“It isn’t as bad as it looks,” Cas starts to argue, from five feet away. The idiot is in the living room, after all. How could Dean forget? He can also be found at the living room when he’s having one of his truly bad, must-do-everything-at-once episodes. “I swear, I just took out all of these books an hour ago, there’s just this thing which came up -”
“Come here.” Dean says, his mouth a straight line.
“You’re wrong if you think I haven’t slept in 24 hours, Dean.” Cas whines, his resolve lessening. “But I just had so much to do, and there’s this deadline, and there’s not even -”
“Come here.” Dean repeats.
Cas yields, giving up with a little huff, and dragging his socked feet across their living room.
He tucks his head under Dean’s chin, once he’s wrapped his arms around his middle, and Dean’s arms automatically move up to hold him close.
Most times, Dean doesn’t think it’s fair that Cas gets to alternate between being the larger in the two of them, with his wide-ass shoulders and his frigging arms; and the next instant, the adorable little snuggler who’s burying his face in Dean’s shirt.
But at the moment, Dean doesn’t mind it at all. In fact, he doesn’t mind it so much, that he stops thinking about everything else and spontaneously decides he wouldn’t mind if Cas never pulled away.
He squeezes, exhaling happily.
Cas lets out a content little sigh, melting into him, and Dean stops smiling for a moment when he realizes Cas is leaning all of his weight on Dean. And it’s not the fact that Cas is six feet tall, and built completely of concentrated snark and runner’s muscles, and that he’s heavy - but that Dean suddenly remembers that Cas hasn’t slept in 24 hours.
As he conveniently just confessed to.
“You need to sleep.”
Cas makes a disgruntled sound, possibly scrunching up his nose.
“I need to shower.”
Dean sniffs the air dramatically, and shrugs. It’s nothing he can’t handle. He doesn’t really think Cas has been up to jogging lately, and staying holed up in your second floor room with two semester worth of books for a project doesn’t exactly make you sweat, it’s not too unpleasant. Sure, stale clothes have a smell, but this one’s mostly just Cas.
“You need to eat.” Dean counters, and it’s probably a strong point he makes, since Cas doesn’t have a retort to throw back at him within the first second.
“That reminds me. We’re out of coffee,” Cas mumbles, in a little voice. “Didn’t know how I could text you to buy Nescafe when you were driving home two hundred and fifty miles.”
“What about the emergency stack you keep in the bedroom?”
Cas shakes his head. “I forgot to replenish that after the Great Scare of Preponed Papers, in September.”
“You’re every inch the college boy my mama warned me to look out for.” Dean teases, wriggling out of the hug, so that he can stare at Cas.
“And yet you’ve been living with me for years.” Cas returns, turning around and walking towards the kitchen. He plops down on a dining table chair, facing Dean.
“What can I say? You make me a rebel.” Dean scoffs, following Cas’s tracks to the kitchen, after he’s taken off his jacket and deposited it on the couch.
“Ooh, I’m even worse than I thought.” Cas deadpans, crossing his arms. And that ends it. Because there’s more important things to do, right now.
Dean opens the fridge, and starts to rummage through it.
“We’re out of honey, too.” Cas tells him, his chin propped in his hands, as he stares at a busy Dean.
“I can see that.” Dean rolls his eyes, and the almost empty milk carton is the only thing which sympathizes with him. “What kind of meals did you even have since friday, Cas? Honey and coffee? Or maybe, coffee and honey?”
Cas nods. “And ramen.”
“Fucking dumbass, with a 3.9 GPA to show for it.” Dean rolls his eyes again, done with going through the fridge, and closing the door with his elbow as he holds bread and cheese in his hands. “Well, doesn’t matter. Point is, I’m back. What do you want now?”
And before Cas could answer, Dean went on in a typical five star restaurant voice. “We have grilled formaggio. And grilled queso. And the chef’s recommendation, the grilled cheese.”
“Could I have grilled syr?” Cas asks, innocent.
“Lemme guess, Russian for cheese?” Dean confirms, in a dramatic stage whisper.
Cas’s eyebrows dance. “I missed you.” He mockwhispers back.
“You know what, I’ll have to pull some strings, but I think the chef will be able to manage that.” Dean returns to his grand waiter voice. And starts to unwrap the bread and pick out plates from the drawers, while Cas surprises him by beginning to talk.
“It’s a group project.” He begins, not sounding a tenth of the pumped up and clever from before. “For Professor Naomi Novak.” He groans, his head falling on his arms folded on the table.
“Okay?” Dean urges him to go on.
“And Balthazar bailed on me.”
Dean listens, as Cas eats. He occasionally offers words of sympathy, or those of righteous annoyance. He stares at Cas, wolfing down the sandwiches like they’re the best thing on the planet, and looking more and more okay as he finishes what’s on his plate.
Dean had had his dinner during what was supposed to be a fuel stop, at a motel who advertised their pies on unmissable banners hannging on every surface of the gas station. He couldn’t resist the temptation.
Thinking about that reminds him that just about an hour ago, he’d been in the last quarter of his drive, tired, but excited to get home. To Cas, to his shower and of course, to his mattress. Now, he doesn’t feel exhausted at all. Or perhaps, there’s just more important things around him. All in all, he knows he isn’t going to bed himself until Cas is going with him.
“Dean.” Cas interrupts his reverie, and Dean looks up to see him pushing away his plate, completely clean.
“Everything in the world except you and this grilled cheese sucks.” Cas declares, solemnly.
Dean grins, refocusing all his attention on Cas. “Oh?”
“Definitely.” Cas nods. He licks his lips, and rests back in his chair. “I mean, I know this’ll come as a surprise, but I think I was hungry or something.” He adds, feigning innocence, and Dean snorts. “I don’t know. Must’ve been the stress of the project I’ll never be able to complete in time, that made me overlook it.”
“Cas, listen to me.” Dean begins, reassuring. “The project will be done, Novak will not freak out, and you’ll ace through her class too. Everything’s going to work out.”
“How?” Cas asks, not as much ridiculous as it is desperate.
“You see,” Dean answers, his tone smooth. Well, sarcasm’s always been their language. “I have a brother.”
“Congratulations?” Cas squints, in a confused monotone.
“Nah, he’s not a pleasure to have or anything,” Dean shrugs, a grin on his hips. “But he’s dating someone.”
“Congratulations to him?” Cas offers.
“You don’t get it, smartass. The guy my brother’s dating, is Balthazar’s flatmate.” Dean waits for Cas to catch up. “So, all I have to do is talk to a few people, and I’ll know where to go find this weird-name guy.”
“Fuck.” Cas exclaims, stunned.
“No, Balthazar.” Dean smirks, and Cas is starting to smile much wider. “So, I’m going to get this jackass do his part of the job. And I’m sure as hell going to make him call you.”
“Oh!” Cas squeaks, eyes wide again. His face lights up with a smile, and it’s one of those genuinely gummy ones which make his eyes shine. Sonuvabitch, Dean loves him so much.
“So, yeah. I’m going to go call Sam, and get Baby out.” Cas practically radiates relief at this point, and happiness, and Dean has never been prouder of himself. “But,” He adds, before he forgets. “I have a condition.”
“What?” Cas cuts him off, abruptly. “And please don’t say you want me to go sleep, because I won’t be able to sleep until this is done, I’m too restless, and -”
“Fine.” Dean folded his arms. “Then eat.”
“I just did?” Cas motioned to his empty plate.
“Those were two sandwiches, Cas.” Dean huffs. “I need you to promise me you’ll eat the entire time till I’m back.”
“I don’t want to cook right now, I have to revise -” Cas starts to whine, and on another day, this may have been the moment Dean shut him up with a kiss, because he was being too annoying about not doing things for himself, but right now? This is a different Cas - a sleep deprived, fretty Cas, who needs to be handled in a different manner.
“I’m not asking you to cook.” Dean stands up.
Cas follows. “Huh?”
“I was just in the kitchen. We have cereal.”
“Come on, Cas.” Dean argues, indignant. This is where they always end up. Debating on cereal. Dean’s got his facts clear. “Cereal’s a snack.”
“No, Dean. You’re a snack. I’m a snack. Arguably, Dr Sexy is a snack. Cereal is not a snack.” Cas throws back.
Dean glares at Cas. “You’ll eat your goddamn cereal until I’m home, Cas, or I swear on your coffee-freaky, sleep-deprived ass -”
“Okay.” Cas gives up. He takes a step back, puts his hands in the air, and lets out a breath.
“Okay, I’ll eat it while I reread my notes.” Cas says, his eyebrows curved. There’s still a smile on his lips, though a more annoyed one.
Dean hums, unsatisfied.
“Cereal needs your attention.” Dean postulates, tongue in cheek. “I really can’t have you choking on Honey Nut Cheerios.”
Cas levels him with a look, which would’ve been more effective if it wasn’t leveled at him through dark-circled eyes.
“That’s the opposite of an honorable death.” Dean goes on, sweet.
“Then in the obituary, let it be said that it was Cap'n Crunch.” Cas scowls, and Dean breaks into a laugh without meaning to. “And eating cereal isn’t a singleminded task, believe it or not.”
“Fine.” Dean lets it go, knowing it’s the best deal he’s going to get.
“Fine?” Cas says, like Dean had before.
“Fine. One for me, one for you.” And with that Dean throws his jacket on again, and starts to walk out, with a pleased smile. He’s going to make this work. And as he deals with Balthazar, Cas will keep eating. Two birds with one stone.
“Though,” Cas starts speaking, and Dean looks back, surprised at how soft his voice is. Cas is looking down at his feet. “This is more like, all for me, none for you.”
“Cas.” Dean shakes his head, returning to the dining table, and putting his hand on Cas’s.
“I mean,” Cas goes on, his voice shaky. “You literally came home after three days. And instead of talking about your trip, and your family, and taking a shower and getting in bed and resting after your four hour drive - you’re already completely immersed in solving my problems for me. I’m - I’m sorry.”
Dean purses his lips. He has not thought about it like this at all, and doesn’t want Cas to, either. “Cas, no -”
“No. I’m selfish and horrible, and I didn’t even stop you when you offered to cook for me and go get Balthazar to get in touch with me, or any of it - I’m just -”
“Cas.” Dean repeats, sterner. “That is not the case. I’m fine, okay? I’m absolutely fine. And you needed to eat, and you need this now, and I want to do it for you. You aren’t making me do this! And what the hell am I here for if not to be there for you, when you need it, Cas?”
“And do you really think you telling me to not go would’ve stopped me from wanting to help you out?” Dean cocks his head, challenging Cas to agree.
Cas shakes his head.
“Exactly. In fact, you’re showing that you trust me enough to let you know when I’m tired and pushing my limits. You’re showing that our relationship has come to that kind of level, where though we mean the gratitude, concern and appreciation entirely, we aren’t always required to keep repeating it, and that’s growth, Cas, and I’m -”
Cas waits, his eyes starting to haze.
“I’m proud of us.” Dean finishes, swallowing. He feels his own throat start to clog up. Must be from watching Cas get teary, because they don’t usually end up crying every time one of them does something nice for the other.
“You’re everything I’ve ever needed.” Cas tells him, matter-of-factly, like it doesn’t pierce Dean through the heart in the best way to hear it.
“You’re pretty perfect, too.” Dean says, trying to avoid getting as sappy as Cas has already gotten. Cas gets to blame the lack of sleep later, what does Dean do then? “And please, please don’t feel guilty about me trying to be a good boyfriend, next time?”
“We’ve come a long way.” Dean teases. “And if it makes you feel better, I’ll try to stop feeling guilty about it too, whenever you help me out with, I dunno, professors, college papers, buying durable things online, choosing gifts for friends, ice cream flavours I don’t like -”
“That’s enough.” Cas grins. “And, thank you.”
Dean slid his arm down from Cas’s forearm, to rest on his hip. His other hand snaked around Cas’s waist.
“Thank you for everything.” Cas says, like he’s tried to soak the meaning out of all the words into his voice, and it works.
“Yeah, yeah.” They just had a chick-flick moment, and Dean isn’t prepared for another one, so soon. So he does what he does best, and deflects, rolling his eyes dramatically. “People don’t call me the awesomest-roomate-ever-slash-ideal-bestfriend-slash-your-knight-in-shining-armor for nothing.”
“Nobody calls you that.” Cas snickers, putting his arms loosely around Dean’s neck. He’s doing that thing again, like the flipping of a switch, and now it’s Dean who’s probably going to end up with his face in Cas’s neck. Kissing him, though, this time.
“Hey!” He pouts, pulling Cas in closer from the waist. “I call myself that.”
“Yeah, I have no idea why you do that.”
Remember how before it wasn’t the moment to shut him up with a kiss? Dean repeals that statement now. It’s no longer valid, because Cas is being a little shit again. Plus, he’s being a little shit who doesn’t kiss Dean yet, just teases around it, and that’s not fair, right after they’ve had such a romantic moment, is it?
So Dean takes matters into his own hands.
“Shuddup, you overworked little asshole.” And leans in to capture Cas’s lips with his, and straightens with Cas following him, planting breathy kisses on every inch of Dean’s lips, while Dean tries to return the equivalent of the favor by running his hands over Cas, under his shirt.
Cas tastes like grilled, uh, keso - ignore them, that’s a game they’ve been playing for years - and love, though knowing Cas, that’s probably just honey - and in that moment, everything is exactly as it should be.
In that moment, Dean thinks to himself, kissing Cas with every fibre of his being; everything is perfect.
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