After a particularly brutal round of Portal, Dean tosses his controller onto the worn cotton quilt and stretches his legs. Castiel grabs a handful of popcorn and shoves it in his mouth, cheeks bursting. He looks like a chipmunk.
“Wanna go again?” He asks after gulping orange soda to wash down the salty snack. Dean shakes his head and flops over, yawning. It’s nearly two, and he’s got work in the morning.
“I should probably head back to my place,” he murmurs, eyes closed. He can tell Cas is trying not to snicker at him.
“Or you could just stay here, like every other night. Heaven knows you leave enough of your jeans and underwear on my bathroom floor, so don’t worry about clothes.” Cas teases him, and Dean hears him move across the room to the dresser. He sits up and watches as his friend pulls the drawers open, gathering a t-shirt and a pair of dorky pajama bottoms. Cas maneuvers over to the edge of the bed, where he lifts himself up by the arms, out of his chair, and onto the mattress. There, he sheds his day clothes, shirt first, and then pants. Dean would offer to help, but he knows it would only be met with a scornful glance; Cas doesn’t need help. Once he’s dressed again, he looks over at Dean.
“So, are you staying or what?” Dean sighs and wriggles out of his own clothes, depositing them in a heap on Castiel’s bedroom floor. That earns an eye roll. He leans back and closes his eyes once more, listening to Cas wheel out into the hallway, down to the bathroom. The sound of the faucet running reminds Dean he should probably brush his teeth, too, so he leaves the comfort of Cas’s bed with a groan.
Once they’re both beneath the warm blankets, lights off, winter starlight glowing on the windowpane, Dean turns to face Cas.
“Can I ask you something you’ve heard a million times?” He asks, sleepy curiosity in his voice. Castiel ‘mm’s. “What’s it like? Being in a wheelchair?”
Cas chuckles. “I’m not in a wheelchair, I’m in a bed.” Dean kicks him, which sets off a tickle fight in a matter of seconds. They settle down and Cas lets out a long breath. “I don’t know, Dean, what’s it like being able to walk? You don’t remember knowing any different.”
Dean is quiet, and then, “Does your dick work?”
A well deserved smack to the crotch. “Does yours?” Castiel doesn’t seem offended though. Sometimes it seems like nothing Dean says or asks is too personal, too tender a subject. They joke about things they probably shouldn’t; Castiel’s chair, Dean’s daddy issues. Things that are normally sore subjects with other people, but with each other they’re just part of the conversation. Dean loves that about their friendship. Nothing is off limits, because they each know the other would never use anything in malice.
“So you don’t mind?”
Castiel considers that. “This world is built for the able-bodied, Dean. Society doesn’t care much about us crippled folk. But no, I don’t mind. Would it be nice to not have to deal with the thing when I go to the airport? Yeah. But it’s a part of me now. I don’t think of it as something bad; it just is. Would you change your bowlegs?”
Dean snorts. “I do not have bowlegs.”
“You most certainly do!” They argue about that for several minutes, and then there’s another pleasant lull in their chatter. “I have to say, though, being in a wheelchair all my life has given me tremendous upper body strength. Feel my biceps.”
Dean snakes a hand up Castiel’s arm and closes his fingers around the muscle. The fact that Cas is totally flexing makes Dean smile. They lay facing each other, Castiel’s inoperative legs tangled with Dean’s bowed ones.
Their hands meet somewhere under the blankets, in complete darkness where nothing is real and holding hands is just two human appendages joining inconsequentially. Fingers lace together and Dean wants to tell Cas how inspiring he is, how admirable. He knows Cas would only laugh it off, though. But it takes a lot of guts to have as much confidence as he does, wheelchair or no wheelchair. Dean wishes he could be that self-assured.
“Your brain waves are practically deep frying me,” Cas mumbles, inclining his head so that their noses touch.
“‘M just thinking.”
“How great you are,” Dean says before he worries about how dumb it’ll sound.
One glimmering blue eye opens. “Go on.”
So Dean goes on. And on and on. Until his voice is hoarse and he’s run out of synonyms for “wonderful.” Cas doesn’t say anything for a long moment. He opens his mouth, closes it, opens it. A few times. Dean has never seen him speechless before. It’s sort of invigorating.
“So,” Cas starts slowly, “Is it safe to say that you’ve got a giant crush on me?”
Dean kisses him.