The first time it happens, they’re sitting in a booth at a diner and Cas reaches under the table to Dean’s lap and tries to cover Dean’s hand. Dean swiftly moves his hand away, and they can both chalk it up to Sam not knowing yet.
The next time it happens, they’re sitting on Sam’s bed watching Game of Thrones, and this time Sam knows. So there’s really no excuse when Dean jerks his hand away from Cas’ hold.
The third time it happens, they’re walking into the grocery store, and Cas offers his hand for Dean to take. Dean shakes his head to decline.
Cas stops offering after that. When they go out together, they talk like they’ve always talked, and when they go home they sometimes kiss or have sex before falling asleep on opposite sides of the bed. Cas has never been in a relationship, but he thinks he and Dean have a good one.
Until one morning Cas wakes up to Dean saying his name, and then Dean is asking him, “Can I have my arm back?” and Cas realizes that he’s using his bicep as a pillow.
As soon as Cas lifts his head, Dean moves his arm and turns away to the other side of the bed.
Cas is falling back asleep with his head now resting on an actual pillow when Dean says quietly, “I’m sorry I’m not a good–uh, partner or whatever.”
“What do you mean?”
“I, uh, care about you, you know that? I need you, Cas.”
“Of course I know that. But how does that make you a bad partner?” Cas ignores the urge to flip to his other side so he can at least look at Dean’s back while they talk. If Dean would rather have this conversation facing the walls, then that’s what they’ll do.
“I don’t like holding hands,” Dean blurts out like he’s saying something horribly offensive. “And-and sometimes I get nervous sharing a bed with you.”
“I know, that’s why I go to the couch on occasion. Dean, how is this–”
“It’s not enough. You deserve better. You deserve somebody who will hold your hand when you go to the store and let you fall asleep on their arm and tell you that they–that they lo–”
“Dean. This isn’t about who I deserve, it’s about who I need.” Cas closes his eyes and feels sleep coming over him again before he adds, “And besides, how could I deserve more when I already have the best?”