It's the night of the dance, and Castiel soon realises that the night was going to be worse than he'd first anticipated. That is, until, someone very special turns up.
Balthazar came into Castiel’s room at 7:30pm and woke the sleeping boy with ease. He sat up, rubbed his eyes and smiled a sleepy smile before dragging himself out from under the covers and into the bathroom to get changed.
He stood motionless in front of the bathroom mirror for a few minutes. The hickeys Dean had given him were still visible on his pale skin, but starting to fade to a lighter shade of pink. He also noticed how the blue of his eyes seemed to stand out against the grey circles beneath his eyes; the product of hours spent lying in bed staring at nothing as the night progressed. His skin was still littered with faint scars that would never truly fade; he had forgotten about them up until now, but the longer he stared, the more they came clear to him. Quickly he splashed his face with water and resumed dressing himself.
He re-emerged from the bathroom fully clad in his smart clothes; a jacket that hugged his slim waist and arms with a smart white shirt underneath; tight black jeans that fit his thin legs and smart leather shoes, shiny and polished.
“Damn, boy, you look good.” Balthazar grinned from where he was sat on the floor.
“I’m going to make it my duty to find a girl to fuck you tonight, because you deserve it.”
He rolled his eyes and checked his phone for any sign of a missed call. There was none. “Why don’t you focus on finding a girl for yourself?” Castiel mumbled as he turned his phone off and slung it back into his desk drawer.
Balthazar shrugged. “I’ve never really had much luck with girls. Or anybody for that matter.”
“Well maybe tonight’s your lucky night.” Castiel smiled.
Balthazar’s face shifted into an expression Castiel couldn’t quite place, and then he stood up. “Maybe it is.”
Castiel stepped away from him and admired his new look in the mirror for a few long seconds before finally turning back around.
“Let’s get this night over and done with.” Castiel winked.
* * *
Balthazar’s dad dropped them just outside the school gates and the two walked up through the swarms of over-excited girls who all appeared to be somewhat overdressed. They found Sam and his date, Ruby, standing at the bottom of the concrete steps out the front of the gym where the dance was being held.
“Hey, you guys are looking good!” Ruby grinned as they approached. She was dressed in a short, tight red dress that seemed to fit in all the right places. Her hair was tied up in a meticulously crafted bun with two long strands lying delicately by the side of her face. She looked beautiful, even Castiel had to admit that, and he’d stopped noticing girls since he’d met Dean.
“You look nice.” Castiel mumbled shyly.
She giggled and nudged his arm jokingly. “So do you.”
“Alright, Cas, you can stop flirting with my date now.” Sam laughed. “Let’s see if this night is better than last year’s.”
“Any night will be better than last years.” Ruby said, raising her eyebrows as if remembering a memory she didn’t think to highly of.
“It may’ve been a disaster, but remember the chickens?” Balthazar laughed.
“Oh god! The chickens!” Ruby snorted. The three of them fell about laughing over something Castiel had not been there to witness, and he suddenly realised that this night was going to be even worse than he’d anticipated.
As the other’s headed inside, he quickly walked off in the direction of the abandoned classrooms Dean had taken him to when he cleaned up his burst lip. He wasn’t sure why he suddenly decided to head there on his own; perhaps he kind of hoped there would be some sort of trace of Dean. Or maybe it was because Dean said he liked to go there when he was alone, and that was what Castiel wanted most right now – to be alone.
The smell of the damp plaster and rotting wood made his stomach twist with nostalgia as he entered the pitch black halls, and as he retraced his and Dean’s footsteps in hallways he could’ve sworn he could hear Dean’s soft breathing in his ear. The sensation frightened him and he found himself walking faster and faster down the deserted hall until he came to the teacher’s bathrooms. He pushed the door open with such force that the sound of it hitting the tiled wall echoed eerily through every one of the vacant rooms until it slowly faded out to a painful silence.
He fumbled for the light switch and the dim orange of the bulb flickered on. The light made him feel somewhat safer, and he let himself sink down against the dusty wall – the same place he’d sat while Dean inspected his bruised hand. Quickly he pulled out the packet of cigarettes he hadn’t touched since Dean had left, but found he’d forgotten his lighter. Instead he just held one of the cigarettes between his fingers and inspected the tightly packed tobacco until the sound of his heart beating was the loudest thing he could hear.
After a while, being alone got boring. It was strange because he’d never really found his own company boring before. Perhaps it was just knowing that his friends were probably having a good time without him, and probably hadn’t even realised he was gone. It was a weird feeling to Castiel, but he liked to be missed.
Slowly he got up from the floor and switched out the light. He was immersed in complete darkness, and for some reason it really began to scare him. As he made his way down the corridor, the only indication of the right path was the dim moon light creeping into the hallway through the door at the other end. The darkness began to close in, and it made his heart thud and his steps quicken; the silence amplified the blood rushing in his ears so much that it nearly became unbearable. Soon enough he found himself sprinting out of the door and into the cool air of the night.
* * *
He made his way into the gymnasium and was greeted by too-loud music and flashing red lights that took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to. He stuck close to the wall and looked around for his friends, but there was no sign of them anywhere; not at any of the tables or on the dance floor.
That was, until, someone grabbed him from behind and quickly spun him around.
“Cassy! I was wondering where you’d gotten to.” An obviously-drunken Balthazar grinned.
Before he could even begin to ask him who was stupid enough to give him alcohol, he was whisked onto the dance floor amidst the crowd of over excited ninth graders. It seemed the people his own age had kept their distance at the sides of the room.
Balthazar leaned in and whispered, “Ruby and Sam are getting it off in the teacher’s office in the locker rooms.” As if anybody around them would actually be able to hear him above the sound of the music. He suddenly felt Balthazar’s hands sitting gently on his waist, and Castiel stood still amongst the over-active crowd, trying to make sense of the situation.
“What are you doing, Balthazar?” Castiel frowned.
“You’re my date, right? I’ve been waiting to dance with you since you agreed to even go with me. And now is my chance.” He grinned drunkenly.
“What? I’m not your-”
He was silenced by Balthazar’s lips suddenly on his own and his only reaction was to push him away. Push him hard away. He might have pushed him a little too hard because Balthazar fell right to the floor and everybody around him turned to laugh.
As he turned to walk away, Balthazar jumped up after him and grabbed his hand.
“What are you doing?” Castiel spat angrily. “Why can’t you just leave me alone? I didn’t even want to go to this stupid dance and now you’re trying to make a move on me. I don’t like you, okay? Well, not in that way. Just stop.” Castiel felt his eyes begin to grow hot, and he wished he didn’t have to cry in front of his friend but it was too late.
“But,” Balthazar sighed, “how come I never get what I want?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve done nothing but try to make you happy since Dean left and made you act this way. I have no idea what that asshole did to make you like this…but whatever it was, you didn’t deserve it, okay? I thought that maybe I could make you happy by doing what you asked of me; I stayed off school for you…I talked to you on the phone until three am…I got a jacket dry cleaned for tonight because you didn’t have anything else to wear…I snuck out of my own house to buy you McDonalds in the middle of the night and ended up sleeping on my own doorstep because I couldn’t get back in. I did it all just to make you happy. I did all of that because you wanted it. I always do things for other people because it’s what they want, so why can’t I ever have what I want? Why can’t I have you?”
“Because!” Castiel shouted angrily. “Because, because, because! It doesn’t work that way!”
“Well, why can't it? I tried for you…so why can’t you try for me?” He was desperate.
“Because maybe I don’t want you, Balthazar! You can’t just suddenly spring this on me. It’s not fair!”
Balthazar looked hurt. “I just thought that doing all those things for you would’ve made you realise that I cared. Do you know how much it hurts that you didn’t notice? You were always crying over something stupid in your room, while I desperately tried to fix it for you…but it wasn’t enough.”
“Maybe it wasn’t.” Castiel said harshly. “Because I don’t love you and I never will.” He hated himself for speaking like that to Balthazar, but he just couldn’t stop himself.
“Well who was it, then?”
“Who was it that made you cry every night? Who was it that you obviously care so much about? Because you’re focusing so much on this one person who clearly doesn’t love you back. You’re focusing on them so much that you’re not seeing who really does love you.”
“SHUT UP!” Castiel screamed. He felt his throat burning and he wanted so desperately to get away from the moment.
As he began to cry harder, he knew he couldn’t stay in that crowd much longer. He turned away to walk off, but he saw Sam enter the gymnasium, searching around for where they might be.
“It was Dean, wasn’t it?” Balthazar said coldly. “Dean Winchester.”
Castiel’s stomach twisted at the mention of his name, and turned around slowly. “You know nothing.” He hissed.
“He left you here, Castiel. So, tell me, how much does he care?”
“He loved me.”
“No he didn’t, and you’d be fool to think he did. The asshole could barely look at you in front of his own friends. He even let his friends hurt you while he stood there and watched. If you were mine, I’d never let anybody touch you like that. I’d never let anybody hurt you at all. And I’d take care of you every single second of the day; I’d always keep you safe.”
“Well I’m not yours, okay? And I never will be.”
“Why? Because you’re waiting for Mr-Perfect-Dean Winchester?”
“Maybe I am.” Castiel cried. “Because I love him. I really, really love him. It’s not my fault he made me fall in love with him like this; if I had it any other way I’d have never let it get as far as it did. But I can’t change what happened, and I certainly can’t change the fact he made me feel this way. You have no idea how much I wish I’d never fallen for every filthy lie that came out of that bastard’s mouth – but I did. I hate myself for it, okay? So you can tell me I’m being unfair because I don’t love you, but I know how it feels. I know how it feels to love someone who doesn’t love you back and I know it’s the worst feeling in the world. But you’re not me, okay? And maybe it’s just going to have to take me a little while longer to get over him. But for now, I’m still as in love with him as I was when he was here – and we’re both just going to have to accept that.”
“CAS!” he heard Sam call his name over the sound of the music. “CASTIEL!”
Castiel ignored him and wiped the tears from his own eyes with the back of his sleeve. When he looked up at Balthazar again, about to apologise, he noticed he was fixated on something on the other side of the room. His face was stiff, angry, even angrier than he’d been just a few seconds ago, and Castiel was confused.
When turned around to see what Balthazar was looking at, he saw Sam standing half way between him and the door. And just behind him, through his misty eyes, he could see an all-too familiar figure standing in the doorway.
His heart stopped and the gymnasium seemed a million miles away. He swore, for a few seconds, the music had stopped and everybody around them had stopped moving too.
“Dean.” He choked under his breath.
“Dean!” his eyes began to grow hot again.
“DEAN!” he cried, breaking into a full run, right into the arms that he’d missed so much it hurt. Dean spun him around and held him so tight he could barely breathe, but it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that he was there.
“Cas,” He cried, “I’m here now, baby, it’s okay.”
“I hate you so much.” Castiel sobbed into his chest, gripping his shirt with his fists.
“I know you do, baby.”
“But I love you more than I love anything in the world.”
Dean stroked his head and held it close to his chest, not caring that nearly every head in the gymnasium was facing their way, watching on in confusion as the boy who swore he’d left for good was holding another boy so carefully in his arms as if he was the most important thing in the world.
“As soon as I got your message about seeing your parents again, I left as soon as I could. I drove for three days straight so I could be here for you…and I’m sorry I’m a bit late, Cas. I’m so sorry. I should’ve returned your call, but when I wasn’t driving I was asleep and the only thing I was focused on was getting here so I could be here for you. I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I hurt you so much by leaving. I swear to god it hurt me too.”
Castiel shook his head and breathed, “Just be quiet. I just need you to be quiet."
Dean kissed his forehead again, and then gently rested his chin on the top of Castiel's head as they both cried. Everybody was watching, and Dean could even see Benny from out the corner of his eye, but he simply didn't care what people thought anymore. He'd been away long enough to realise that the only thing worth caring about was Castiel - the boy he'd fallen in love with from the moment he first saw him.
"Castiel, I love you. And I don't give a damn if anybody has a problem with that. You're too damn special. I'm so sorry."
"Stop," Castiel breathed, "stop saying you're sorry, okay? It doesn't matter what you did. None of it matters as long as you're here."
Dean sighed and Castiel looked up at him. It was hard for him to believe that he was here again, and so damn beautiful. Castiel lifted himself onto his tip toes and reached up to kiss Dean's lips. He'd missed this feeling so much; the feeling that the only thing that mattered was right there, right then. Dean's breath was warm and the feeling of his fingers brushing his cheek made Castiel's legs feel numb.
He slowly pulled away and replaced his head on Dean's chest, carefully listening to his slow, steady heartbeats.
"Don't ever leave me again. Don't you dare."
Dean closed his eyes. "I won't. I don't think I'd be able to stand being away from you like that again. I'll find a way to make this right, baby. I swear I'll find a way. Because, Cas, I love you so much."
Castiel closed his eyes too. "And I love you too, Dean."