FIC: A Fine Line, Dean/Castiel, Jared/Jensen, R
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, Jared/Jensen
Word Count: 8100+
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I am making no profit from this fanfiction.
Warnings: some language and sexual content, rps, liberal mixing of canon and rps people
Summary: There's a difference between rivalry and obsession, but when it comes to Castiel Padalecki, Dean forgets that entirely.
Author's Notes: Written for akadougal — in the spn_j2_xmas — challenge. This story is based on your prompt of "competing extracurricular" activities in high school and includes your likes of AU, crossovers and happy endings. :) I have a history of being obsessed with baseball and twinfic, both of which are represented here. I'm no expert in baseball, however, so if there is anything that sounds funky, I do apologize. I hope you enjoy!
My thanks and love to antiquitydreams — for helping me with this one even though J2 is not one of her pairings. *smishes birgo*
When he is fifteen years old, Dean learns an irrefutable truth.
Castiel Padalecki sucks.
Or rather, there is one particular activity at which Castiel Padalecki doesn't suck and for that reason, Dean hates his guts.
It begins when Dean's given his first chance to start a game. Everyone on the team knows it's only a matter of time before Dean's a regular starter. At fourteen, he's already a better pitcher than most of the guys, but no one starts as a freshman. Even so, by the end of that year, it becomes clear that he's the best they have, so the first game of his sophomore year finds Dean standing on the mound at the top of the first inning, pitching his first ever start against the Dupont High School Saints. The Saints are their cross-town rivals. Starting his career by earning a win against the Taints, as they are lovingly termed by the kids at Dean's school, would make a great moment into an incredible one.
So there Dean is. Out on the mound, proudly wearing the blue and white uniform of the Meridian High School Raptors. In the stands sits his mother and father, both puffed up with pride for their boys. Jensen is in the dugout, but Dean knows it's only a matter of time before Jensen is their starting catcher and then no one can stop the Winchester boys. Today, he's pitching to senior Chris Kane and while Kane doesn't know Dean's style quite as well as Jensen, he's heading to LSU next year and really knows his stuff. It's a near perfect set-up and nothing can go wrong.
For six innings, nothing does go wrong. In fact, everything goes fucking awesome. The Raptors earn two runs, which are great, but pale in comparison to Dean's perfect game. The atmosphere in the dugout and the stands grows tenser with each strike-out. Even the Saints’ parents are leaning forward in their seats, drawn in and silently cheering for the young star pitcher. At the top of the seventh inning, the last in high school baseball, Coach Morgan catches Dean's arm before he can run out.
"This is it, kid," he says in that dark gruff voice that can so easily scare the shit out of his players. "You've already more than proven yourself, but having a perfect game on your record can't hurt anything."
Dean knows exactly what Coach means. College recruiters or hell, maybe even professional scouts. A perfect game could get some attention for Dean, especially since their school is already known statewide as a serious state championship competitor.
He nods and clenches his fist once in his glove.
Here goes nothing.
The first hitter is an easy strike-out, but even so, blood thunders in Dean's ears with each pitch. The next hitter up is one of their best, a huge burly kid named Santos. He strikes the first pitch, but catches the edge of his bat along the second ball. Dean's stomach tightens so hard he nearly throws up, but luck is with him. The ball zips a straight line to first base and is neatly caught by their first baseman, Chuck. There's an audible sigh of relief in the stands.
While Dean is busy trying to collect himself, the Saints’ head coach trots out to the umpire for a short discussion. A last minute substitution. Dean watches with great interest as a scrawny dark-haired boy jogs from the dugout. He's short for a baseball player, though he's also young, so there's probably a couple of growth spurts in him yet. When he picks up his bat for a warm-up swing, Dean sees an impossibly long last name scrawled in an arch across his shoulders.
Fine. Dean's not scared of some skinny Hail Mary. A few short breaths in and out. Kick at the pitching rubber while the kid keeps warming up and mentally go through the motions. Just three more strikes.
The kid steps up the plate and Dean lifts his gaze from the dusty ground.
Dark blue eyes stare at him. Not a hint of fear or hesitation or even a damned blink. Just a steady and heavy gaze.
Dean's heart stutters oddly in his chest.
"Alright," he murmurs. "So that's how it is."
Kane signals to him and a few moments pass in silent debate. All the while, Blue Eyes emotionlessly contemplates Dean. It's unnerving, but Dean refuses to let it throw his game. He winds up and delivers the first pitch, a fast ball that smacks hard into Kane's glove.
Blue Eyes doesn't even look at the ball. His gaze stays firmly fixed on Dean's and that curious jumping sensation throbs again in Dean’s chest. The umpire calls the first strike and still Blue Eyes doesn't react. Now it's more than unnerving. It's downright fucking weird. Dean flicks his eyes towards the dugout. Coach Morgan lifts his shoulders as if to say 'what can you do?' They both know the answer. Just keep doing what's he's been doing.
A second pitch sails past Blue Eyes and still he doesn't move a muscle. The umpire sounds slightly confused as he calls out the strike. Dean steps off the mound for a moment, turning his back to home plate. His nerves threaten to pull his muscles too tight. He just needs a minute to breathe and relax. Get those piercing blue eyes off his face. From the stands, he hears his friends call his name. Wild cheers of praise and encouragement. Dean focuses on their voices to the exclusion of strange pinch-hitters that don't swing at the pitches.
A moment later, Dean retakes the mound. As far as he can tell, Blue Eyes hasn't moved an inch. This is it. One more pitch and not only will Dean have his no-hitter, but they'll win. There are more important games in the year, but this is the win that everyone wants the most. It's bragging rights and superiority at town functions. It's giving his Dad the right to rub it into his coworkers' faces and his mother the right to very politely crow over her friends at the Women's Club.
Just one more strike.
Dean takes a deep breath and throws.
He never really believed in moments where time slowed until it happens to him. His gaze leaves the ball after a split second and connects with Blue Eyes'. Neither of them move or even breathe as the ball spins closer and Dean can feel victory tingle up his spine. A few more feet and the ball will cross the plate.
Just one more second.
Blue Eyes snaps into action. Without breaking their gaze, he swings hard with confidence that shocks and if he's honest, impresses Dean. It's so quiet in the stands that the only sound Dean hears is a whistle as Blue Eyes' bat cuts the air around his body.
And then the crack of wood hitting the ball.
Dean knows the second Blue Eyes hits the ball that it's gone. He watches in horror as the ball soars well over his head, right past the outfielders and over the fence.
Only his intense pride keeps Dean from kicking at the rubber in his frustration. As far as the crowd can tell, Dean takes Blue Eyes hit with class.
Inside, he's seething. A more experienced pitcher would have gone on to save the game, but that home-run flusters Dean so badly he fucks up the next two pitches and the Saints go on to win the game 3-2. No bragging rights, no happy teammates and no perfect game.
On his way into the dug-out, Dean finally catches a good glimpse of the name printed on Blue Eye's jersey.
From that moment on, Castiel Padalecki is Dean's number one enemy.
"This is so embarrassing," Jensen whispers.
Dean elbows him.
"Shut up, man."
Never in his life has Jensen wanted to kill his brother so badly. The fact that Dean is his own flesh and blood is the only reason Jensen agreed to sneak into the Saints game to watch Castiel freaking Padalecki. Jensen had known Dean was obsessed, but this is bordering on ridiculous. Ever since that stupid game last year, Dean's become fixated on Castiel. Each Raptors/Saints game sends Dean into a frothy craze even their parents have commented on. Jensen thinks Dean might even be stalking Castiel at his movie theatre job. Which Jensen only knows about because Dean's so infatuated with him.
Oh, he says it's because of their sports rivalry, but Jensen would be willing to bet money that Castiel doesn't even know Dean's alive. And no one with a healthy platonic interest in another person would spend so much time talking about their eyes.
Or rather complaining about his eyes. Of course. About his steely blue stare of doom that Dean detailed for fifteen minutes one night after a Saints game. Because Jensen needed that much information about the exact shade of Castiel Padalecki's irises.
And now Dean's dragged them to a Saints game they aren't even playing.
"Seriously, Dean, if any of the guys find out we were here-"
"They won't find out if you shut your trap and quit drawing attention to us," Dean growls out the corner of his mouth, his eyes fixed on center field.
Right. Because no one's going to notice the Winchester twins. Even if they are tucked into a darkened corner. It's not just that they both start for the Raptors. Dean's ranked near the top of all high school baseball players in their state. In this baseball obsessed town, Dean is easily recognizable and even more so when he's with his identical twin.
"We're going to be murdered," he whispers in Dean's ear.
"I'm going to be the one to do it if you don't shut up."
All of Dean's focus is on #7. Castiel Padalecki rules the outfield with an iron fist or so Jensen's heard. It's kind of hard to see what goes on out there when he's squatting behind home plate. But now that he's free to watch Padalecki's defense, Jensen has to admit, he's pretty good. Not at the same level as Dean, but that's not the point. Padalecki's gift doesn't lay in general baseball talent.
He's just the only hitter they face that Dean's never once struck out. Not even close. Castiel always gets a hit, if not a homerun. That's the surface reason for Dean's obsession. Jensen thinks he might be the only one who suspects a reason much deeper and distinctly romantic.
Not that he'd ever suggest such a thing to Dean. His brother wouldn't seriously hurt him, but he might punch him in the face if he hinted that Dean might be obsessed with those blue eyes because he likes them on his face so much.
Whatever. Jensen's not going to spend the whole game gawking at Castiel. Without Dean's fascination, that'll get boring real quick. Instead, Jensen turns his eyes to the Saints' catcher, an upperclassman named Mike Rosenbaum. Like everyone on the Saints team, Rosenbaum is an excellent player, but Jensen knows he's better. He watches Rosenbaum's game for a few moments before turning his attention around the bases. The Saints' first baseman is better than Chuck, but Jensen reckons their second basemen are about even. He's about to lean over to discuss the issue with Dean when his eyes fall on the third baseman.
It's a guy Jensen's never seen before. Probably a younger player. Maybe even a freshman by the looks of him. His body is slender and rangy, like he just got done with a significant growth spurt. From this distance, it's hard to tell, but Jensen decides the guy might be about his height. A thick mop of brown hair is crushed under his ball cap, laying flat against his cheeks in a way that would drive Jensen crazy. As Jensen watches, the guy bounces lightly on the balls of his feet, switching from one side of the base to the other as if he can't contain his energy. It doesn't seem a very good way to defend his base, but just as the thought runs through Jensen's mind, the opposing team's hitter cracks a hard line drive straight at the guy's head. He reaches out one impossibly long arm and snatches it easily out of the air.
Jensen's skin tingles.
"Hey, Dean," he murmurs. "Who's their third baseman?"
"Huh?" Dean tears his eyes off Castiel. "Oh, that's Jared Padalecki."
"That's Jared Padalecki?" Jensen asks in surprise. "He doesn't look anything like his brother."
"They're not blood related," Dean explains. "Jared's dad married Castiel's mom when Castiel was three and Jared was one and Jared's dad adopted Castiel."
Trust Dean to have that random information at his fingertips.
"I heard Jared is really friendly, unless you cross Castiel," Dean continues, his tone slightly breathy with excitement. "He got suspended in eighth grade for beating the shit out of a sophomore who was messing with Castiel. I mean, seriously, a middle schooler kicked the shit out of a high schooler. Makes you wonder if Castiel is some kind of pussy who can't take of himself."
That's not at all what it makes Jensen wonder. No, it makes him wonder what kind of boy Jared is. Whether he's fiercely protective of all his important people or just his actual family members. Whether he's always lively or if it's just when he's on the field. What color his eyes are and whether that wide bright grin is just as mesmerizing up close.
Jensen glances at Dean as heat flushes his skin a deep scarlet. No one knows that Jensen hasn't started noticing girls yet. Even Dean with his obvious hard-on for Castiel likes girls too. Of all the people in his life, Dean would be the least likely to cause a fuss if he discovered that Jensen's heart beat sped up whenever a cute boy walks by. But Jensen's not ready for things to change. Not yet.
He turns his attention back to the field. The Saints are jogging infield. He watches Jared lope back to the dugout and can't help his smile when Jared suddenly turns to lift Castiel off the ground and tosses him into the dugout. Their teammates all laugh as Castiel lands neatly on his feet and retaliates with a headlock.
Beside him, Dean's breath stutters in his chest.
Yeah. They're both pretty much screwed.
"Well, your stalker is here again," Jared says, mildly surprised. Sure, Dean Winchester hasn't missed a home Saints game in over two years, but the Saints crushed the Raptors last week. Jared had thought the humiliation would keep Dean away, but no. Like always, Dean is ensconced in his usual top bleacher seat. One with a good view of center field. Back when he first started coming, Dean made the effort to melt into the background. Now that it's no secret, Dean is perched like a hawk overlooking the game, elbows on his knees and eyes on Castiel.
The rest of the guys assume that Dean's fanatical about their so-called rivalry. But that's because they have no reason to think outside that particular box. They don't know what it's like to catch a glimpse of bare flesh in the locker room and feel your temperature rise.
No, Jared's pretty sure this business with Dean Winchester is something altogether different.
"Yes," Castiel agrees calmly as he adjusts his knee socks.
"Have you ever actually talked to him?" Jared asks.
"Once. I was coming out of work and Dean was lurking outside the door. I ran into him and said 'excuse me'. He grunted 'yeah, whatever'," Castiel explains.
"Doesn't it worry you that he's actually following you around town?"
It certainly freaks the hell out of Jared. His brother is freakishly strong and very capable in a physical confrontation, as they discovered last year when Alastair Waller tried to get revenge for the time Jared beat the snot out of him in eighth grade. But he doesn't always understand intentions until they bite him in the ass. Like when he believed Bela Talbot honestly needed help in Chemistry and ended up pinned against his own bedroom door, trying to fight off her advances. Or when Castiel didn't understand that Ansen Weems only started hanging around him because he hoped it would improve his chances to make the team. Castiel is extremely book smart. But he's practically an alien when it comes to human interaction.
"Of course not. Dean Winchester wouldn't hurt me," Castiel says with genuine shock in his rough voice. "His interest is harmless."
"Okay, fine, but don't you wonder why?" Jared presses. "It's gone way beyond simple rivalry."
Jared isn't sure there's a subtle way to bring Castiel's attention to Dean's very probable crush. Castiel hasn't yet shown a romantic interest in anyone, male or female. If he weren't so accustomed to Castiel keeping many of his thoughts private, even from his family, Jared might assume Castiel is asexual. And hell, maybe he is and if that's the case, someone needs to tell Dean Winchester to shove off.
Or maybe someone should anyway. Dean's a Craptor, after all.
Not that you have a lot of room to talk, Jared's traitorous brain mutters at him.
Jared scowls. It can't be his fault that Jensen Winchester is so insanely hot.
How it's possible for two identical people to affect Jared in such radically different ways, he'll never understand. The sight of Dean Winchester lurking at every ball game fills Jared with irritated frustration. But when he's accompanied by his brother, which he generally is, Jared barely notices Dean's alive. Everything about Dean, from his stance to his clothes to his douchey spiked haircut, screams cocky aggression. Overcompensation, in Jared's opinion.
On the other hand, Jensen is quieter and more focused. He doesn't have Dean's boldness on the pitcher's mound, but his concentration behind home-plate is absolute. Jared really likes stepping up to the plate and feeling the tension radiating from Jensen's hunched form. It's almost relaxing. Like Jared could be his usual crazy self around Jensen and have something solid to fall back on.
If they ever exchanged more than a few neutral words on the field.
"I don't mind it," Castiel says softly, his eyes downcast on his socks still, though they are long since fixed. Jared considers him thoughtfully.
His brother's eyes, when they finally lift to Jared's face, are alight with warm pleasure and that's when the truth of the matter strikes Jared hard in the chest.
Castiel likes it. He likes the stalking and the pseudo rivalry and the aggressive attention.
He likes Dean Winchester.
"Well, for fuck's sake, Cas," Jared murmurs, honestly stunned.
"It's time to play, Jared," Castiel says before flashing Jared a knowing smile and trotting out to his position at center field.
Well, this was not expected, but already Jared's mind is past processing and onto planning. If it's left up to Castiel, he'll be admired from afar for the rest of his life. Any consideration of Dean's status as a rotten Craptor bastard tumbles away in the face of Castiel's desire. Because Castiel never asks for anything and if Dean Winchester is what he wants, then Dean Winchester is what he'll get.
And if Jared can get something for himself out of the deal, then that's just a very pleasant bonus.
"Is this seat taken?"
Jensen nearly chokes on his bite of cheeseburger. Standing over him, holding a tray piled high with wrapped sandwiches, is Jared Padalecki. In a McDonald's thirty minutes from his part of town.
"Um." He struggles to swallow. "Sure," he manages to grunt.
The heat creeping up his neck lets Jensen know that his face is probably glowing dark red. Some days, he really hates his fair skin and the freckles that must be standing out like crazy.
Jared slides into the booth and begins to unwrap his first sandwich without saying anything more. As if they share a meal every day. Jensen tries to follow Jared's lead, but his nerves tighten his throat so badly he nearly chokes himself again.
"You okay?" Jared asks, his light hazel eyes full of genuine concern. It's the first time Jensen's seen them this close before. At least without bright sunlight in his face. He never thought you could see so many emotions in a person's eyes before. Behind the concern, Jensen sees an ever-present cheerfulness, a hint of amusement, the edge of nervous tension and another warmer emotion Jensen doesn't dare label.
"Uh, yeah, I'm okay. Why are you talking to me?"
He doesn't mean to blurt it out like that, but it's better than sitting in awkward silence. Best get the point of this conversation out in the open and then Jensen can start dealing with whatever is coming his way.
Hopefully, it's not disappointment.
"Well, I've tried catching you at our games, but you always manage to slip away," Jared teases.
Jensen's heart thumps hard once and then flutters in his chest. He knew they weren't hiding their presence at the Saints' games, but he never imagined any of the Saints would ever confront them about it. Not that it's illegal, but Jensen knows he'd feel pretty annoyed if a couple of Saints stalked every single Raptor game.
"Yeah, about that, it's just-"
"Don't worry about it," Jared says, waving away Jensen's excuses. "I get it. Scoping out the competition. Makes sense. Maybe not after two years where nothing's changed, but fine. It's just a good rivalry, right?"
The corner of his mouth quirks slightly, prickling suspicion in Jensen's mind. As he searches Jared's face, that smile grows wider until it's a full-blown grin of amusement and Jensen finds himself smiling along. They both break into chuckles that quickly turn into uncontrollable laughter. It's just so stupid.
Dean is so stupid.
"Does...does," Jensen struggle to say. "Does Castiel know?"
Jared wipes at his eyes and nods. "Yes." Then he abruptly shakes his head. "No. Well, he knows your brother is stalking him, but everyone knows that. I don't know if he understands exactly why though."
That manages to sober Jensen quite a bit. This topic is shaky ground. Jensen told Dean months ago about his sexuality and a few of his friends at school know, but it's not exactly a safe thing to discuss openly. He's never heard anything about Jared Padalecki being a raging homophobe, but it doesn't mean he isn't. Jensen contemplates his thick arms and swallows hard. If he implied that Dean had romantic feelings for his brother and Jared didn’t take it well, he could destroy Jensen.
"If you ask me, I think your brother wants to take mine under the bleachers, if you catch my drift," Jared says before leaning down to viciously suck on his milkshake straw. Jensen's eyes widen. Both at his eating habits and the bald statement.
"Is that...would you be okay with that?" Jensen asks cautiously.
"Look, I can't say I'm Dean's biggest fan. And not just because he's harder than hell hit against. But if you're asking whether I'm concerned about people being gay, I'm really not."
He should probably say something in Dean's defense, but to be fair, Dean has been Castiel's stalker these last two years. There really isn't anything to say in his defense.
Plus, he's so relieved that there's another safe person in his life that Jensen just nods quietly.
"And anyway, it would be hypocritical of me," Jared continues, his eyes now fixed on his second cheeseburger. That hint of nerves Jensen had seen before flares bright in his features, causing Jensen's heart to pound hard once more. He's never had someone come out to him before.
Especially not someone so utterly hot.
"Right. Um, me too. I mean, if I said that too. Hypocritical," he babbles, wincing hard at himself. Great. He confirms his homosexuality only to have Jared back away slowly from the total loser.
Jared surprises him. Instead of raising an eyebrow and letting awkward silence fall between them, his broad happy grin reappears.
"Yeah?" he says breathlessly. The hair at the back of Jensen's neck stands up as a zing of electricity fills the air between them. He smiles back, just as big and goofy and if anyone happens to look at them just now, they'll see two complete morons silently beaming at each other over a pile of hamburger wrappers.
But Jensen doesn't care one bit.
"So, um...what does Castiel think about Dean's...motives?" Jensen asks, trying to keep the conversation on topic. Hopefully, he can indulge his desire to memorize Jared's features another time.
"Well." Jared slouches in his chair and very carefully slides his foot beside the one of Jensen's facing the wall. Hidden enough that no one could see it, but definitely rubbing purposefully against Jensen's. His breath hitches.
"It would be wrong of me to confide to someone else about Castiel's thoughts," he says. "But I'll tell you a secret if you agree to come out with me Friday night."
Jensen's brain hiccups. Secret? Jared thinks he needs motivation to agree to go out with him?
Oh right. Dean and Castiel. Jensen drags his mind back to the task at hand. He's going to have a hard time being rational around Jared.
"Okay," he agrees and when he tentatively pushes back against Jared's foot, he's immensely gratified by the surprise and pleasure that light in Jared's eyes.
"Awesome!" Jared is practically bouncing in place, his energy barely contained by the plastic booth and Jensen laughs. That's the Jared he sees on the ball-field. "Okay, so the secret. Do you remember last week when you guys didn't come to the game?"
Jensen nods. "Yeah, Dean ate some funky tacos and spent the entire night puking. It was sickening."
"Ew. But yes, that game. When Dean wasn't there slamming his eyeballs into Castiel?"
"Cas had a godawful game. I've never seen him play so badly. He got two fielding errors." Jensen winces. Castiel never has fielding errors. Ever. Two in one game is practically a meltdown. "He didn't get a hit and at one point, he got so mad he yelled at our coach. Our coach, Jensen. He's been benched from the next game for being rude."
Jensen's lips part in surprise.
"What the hell?"
"That's what I said. And when I asked him what was wrong, you know what he did?"
Jared's grin is gleeful as he answers. "He looked up in the stands where your creepy brother usually sits and sighed. Like a little girl and then said 'nothing' in this pathetic voice. For Cas, that's practically writing I heart Dean Winchester across his forehead."
It's difficult to process this information. How Dean managed to find the one person in the world who appreciated intense creepiness is beyond Jensen. He supposes there's something to be said for all that attention, but seriously. If Jared had been stalking Jensen...well, okay, bad example.
"Yeah. So you really better not tell your brother," Jared says with a wink.
Jensen snorts at his lack of subtlety.
"Do you think you can handle even more Dean in your life?" Jensen asks. "Because if he realizes he's got permission to get closer, he'll probably glue himself to Castiel's side for the rest of their lives."
"It'll be hard," Jared says with an exaggerated sigh. Then he captures Jensen's foot between both of his own and gives him a new smile, this one gentle and warm. Intimate. Jensen leans forward and brushes his little finger against Jared's thumb. Jared takes that as an invitation and hooks their fingers together. "But as long as he keeps bringing his brother, it'll be worth it."
That's the moment when Jensen forgets all about Dean and his problems.
Dean's hatred for writing could power the sun for several millennia.
It's even worse when he's being asked to write a paper about a book he hated reading. He wishes he could turn in a paper that says, "Hester Prynne is an idiot, Roger Chillingworth is an ugly creeper and Arthur Dimmesdale is a spineless dickhead. Oh and everyone dies. Don't ever read this worthless waste of paper. The End."
But he feels Mrs. Harvelle will look down on that analysis.
The only reason Dean is locked in his room plugging away at this stupid essay is because his mother would be disappointed in him if he failed high school English. Not to mention that college players have to maintain a certain GPA. But the mom thing is greater motivation. He seriously considers getting up to show his mother the evidence of his anguished study. She'd probably just tell him to go away.
Jensen really should be suffering with him, but Geek Boy finished his essay three days ago while Dean played X-box.
Just when Dean's thinking about calling Jensen to harass him into helping Dean with the paper, his cell phone rattles across his desk.
The name that pops up on the screen is Victor Henrickson, their starting third baseman. Dean frowns. Victor doesn't really call him very often. They're friendly enough, but their personalities clash too much for true friendship. Still, one of his guys is calling him. Dean flips open the phone.
"Hey, Dean." There's an odd edge to Victor's voice Dean's never heard before. He sounds agitated and upset. "Look, I just wanted to warn you. All the guys are talking about it. Chad saw your brother looking awfully cozy with Padalecki tonight."
Dean's heart jumps into his throat.
"What are you talking about, cozy? What does that mean?"
"I don't know. He saw them at McDonald's and he said they looked like they were best friends. I get the whole rivalry thing, Dean, but if your brother is going to actually get close with them, some of the guys are going to have a problem with that."
"Fuck the guys," Dean says automatically, his first inclination to defend his brother even as his gut churns with hurt and jealousy. Never in his life would he have guessed Jensen would mess around with Castiel behind his back.
Victor snorts. "Whatever, Dean. If you're ready to handle it, that's fine. You're the captain, so you're going to have to deal with it."
"Yeah, thanks," Dean bites off and then hangs up without waiting for a reply.
The room seems too small and his emotions too tumultuous to remain sitting. He hops up and blindly fumbles for his shoes. His eyes feel hot, his skin stretched too tight. How could he? How could Jensen do this to him? They're supposed to be brothers. Jensen's his twin, for fuck's sake. He's supposed to have Dean's back, not fucking sneaking around taking shit that belongs to Dean.
He pounds down the stairs, flying past the living room where his parents are watching television.
"Dean? Where are you going?" his mom calls out, worry obvious in her tone.
"Out," Dean grunts, slamming the door behind him and trotting out to his dad's car, the Impala they've spent so many hours working on together. There's comfort in sliding onto her leather seats and feeling her engine roar to life beneath him. Not enough to erase the anger roiling in his chest, but enough to cool the edge of fury building. He steers out of the driveway and absentmindedly turns towards the lake. It's always the first place Dean goes when he's upset about something.
He's relieved the lake is mostly abandoned. After dark on a weekday, there are usually only a few couples lingering. The sight of a college-aged couple kissing in the back of their truck inexplicably annoys Dean. Maybe because their clear pleasure in each other's company highlights Dean's rotten mood.
Then an image flashes in his mind of Jensen and Castiel locked in a similar passionate embrace. His stomach drops so fast and so hard that Dean actually physically leans forward over the pain. Surely Jensen wouldn't....but then Jensen is gay. He told Dean so last year and Dean can't imagine anyone rejecting someone like Castiel. They're probably out somewhere right now touching each other and telling each other secrets. The knot forming in Dean's belly grows tighter. Jensen's probably got all that incredible focus trained on him right now.
Dean's never felt this sort of emotion before in his life. The jealousy and anger are both familiar, of course, although the strength of the first emotion frightens him. But the penetrating sense of loss that sits in his chest like a great block of ice confuses Dean. He trudges to the water's edge and throws himself down. Things are going to be awkward between him and Jensen now. That must be it. He never thought anything could come between him and Jensen.
Especially not another boy.
The moonlight slowly shifts over his head as time passes. His mom's probably called him more than once, but Dean left his cell in the car. He might even get grounded for this tantrum and while the thought grates, Dean just doesn't care. He's tired of being the responsible captain and the good son. For once, he wants to sit alone in the dark and sulk. He knows he's being an ass, but where Castiel is concerned, Dean's never been able to keep himself from that fate.
"Here you are!"
Dean nearly jumps out of his skin. Somehow, occupied with his great girly pout, Dean misses the sounds of his brother approaching until Jensen is standing right behind him. He jumps up from the ground and whirls on him, his anger crashing over him with renewed strength.
"Yeah and what are you doing here, huh? How come you aren't out with your boyfriend?"
Surprise flickers across Jensen's face.
"What are you talking about? Why are you out here? Everyone's worried sick about you, you dick. Mom's about to call the cops."
It must be later than Dean realized. Guilt tries to edge in around his ire, but Dean pushes it back. He'll feel guilty later. Right now, he wants to confront Jensen head on.
"Chad saw you with Castiel," he spits. "Victor told me. He said you were 'looking awfully cozy'. It's what I think it is, isn't it?"
Jensen's surprise melts into understanding and then darkens into anger. The sight of it nearly pushes Dean over the edge. As if Jensen has the right to be angry when he's the one sneaking around with Dean's...with Castiel.
"You're being even more of an asshole than usual," Jensen says.
"Excuse me?" Dean asks incredulously.
"Do you even know why you're angry, Dean?" Jensen crosses his arms over his chest and contemplates Dean with a raised eyebrow. "I mean, Victor calls you and tells you I'm slutting around with Castiel Padalecki. What's the first thing that goes through your mind?"
"What, I don't know. I was pissed," Dean falters.
"Right, okay. Because Castiel plays for the Saints right? You were mad at him for sniffing around your brother, yeah?"
Dean stares at him. "No," he says faintly. No, that wasn't it at all. Dean completely forgot about Castiel being a rival player. All he wanted was to punch Jensen in the face for going near Castiel. The truth of it pounds in his skull, the realization so bright and harsh that it actually gives Dean a headache.
Jensen rolls his eyes. "I get you're in love with him or whatever, but if you ever imply I'd betray you like that again, I'll beat the shit out of you," he growls, turning on his heel to stalk back to his bicycle.
"Oh and Dean? I was out with Jared Padalecki, you total moron."
Dean doesn't move from the spot for another fifteen minutes. His mind is working too fast to allow for distractions like walking. Jensen and Jared Padalecki? The relief of it takes his breath away. Dean knows a lot about Jared because he's Castiel's brother, but even if he didn't, he'd approve one hundred percent. Anything other than Jensen and Castiel.
Except...just because Jensen isn't out with Castiel doesn't mean he's not out with someone else. Jensen's words echo in his thoughts over and over. I get you're in love with him or whatever. But they can't be in love. Dean's never actually had a conversation with Castiel. All he knows is that Castiel is reserved and focused. Talented on the field and generous off it, judging by his extracurricular volunteering. Dean knows he works hard at his job and loves his family fiercely. That he's got a rare smile that turns Dean's world sideways and a piercing gaze that completely shatters Dean.
Fuck, Jensen's right.
Dean stares at himself in the mirror. He's wearing a green button-down shirt and a pair of nice blue jeans, the kind without frayed cuffs or holes in the knees. His hair is styled in neat spikes and he's wearing leather boots rather than his worn sneakers.
He looks good, even for him.
"I can't do this," he suddenly moans.
Jensen huffs from the bed where he's leisurely reading an old car magazine.
"Not only can you do it, I'm forcing you to do it. Jared's going to be out with me. His parents are having a date. Castiel's going to be all alone at his house. It's your perfect chance and if you ruin it out of nerves, I'm going to kill you and hoist your corpse up the flagpole so everyone can see your shame."
"Dude, he might punch me in the face," Dean points out. He's not unaware of how his behavior of the last few years could be taken.
"He won't," Jensen says with such conviction that Dean turns to him, narrowing his eyes with suspicion, especially when Jensen suddenly won't meet his gaze.
"You know something," Dean accuses. "And you were going to let me go without telling me, weren't you?"
Jensen very deliberately turns the page and doesn’t speak.
"Tell me or I'll show Jared the pictures of the time you streaked at our pool party," Dean threatens. Jensen's horrified eyes snap up to Dean's face. It's the one incident from their past where Jensen was more embarrassing than Dean. He knew those pictures would come in handy someday.
"No, you won't. You wouldn't do that, would you?" Jensen asks faintly, but Dean is unfazed by his suffering.
"I'll send them to his phone," he declares.
"God, you asshole, fine! Castiel has the hots for you, okay? I have no idea why, but he pines away for your creeper's touch," Jensen grumbles.
The nervous tension he's been feeling all night ignites into a strange kind of sweet anxiety Dean's never experienced before. That Castiel might return a measure of his feelings makes him feel powerful, almost invincible and in an instant Dean's drunk off the feeling. He turns back to the mirror and cocks a self-satisfied grin at himself. Behind him, Jensen scoffs.
"And I can see you're going to be insufferable now."
"Shut up," Dean says out of habit, but he's not angry. His nerves haven't lessened a bit, but Jensen's confession gives Dean the last shot of confidence he needs to pronounce himself ready.
"Okay, I'm going now. Wish me luck."
"Like you need it," Jensen says, though his smile gives him away. "Why don't wish me luck. I haven't terrified Jared into loving me yet."
"Oh my god, we rock." Dean spins around to face Jensen and gives him a smug grin. "Tonight we conquer the Padaleckis."
Jensen looks like he might be sick.
Half an hour later, Dean's bravado is nowhere to be seen. It was easy enough to crow over his apparent victory in the safety of his bedroom, but now he's standing on the Padaleckis’ front porch and all that's separating him from confessing his feelings to his longtime rival is a simple door knock.
He stares at the door for another fifteen minutes, trying to pump himself up. Jensen obviously spoke to Jared. Jared says Castiel likes him. There's little to no chance of rejection. And yet, suddenly, Dean's terrified. It feels like so much more than simply asking a person out. Like if Castiel says no, Dean's whole life will be ruined.
"God, buck up," he mutters to himself and steps up closer to the door, lifting his hand. With one final deep breath, he knocks.
The front porch light flips on, shining harshly into Dean's eyes and a second later, the door opens.
"Oh. Hello," Castiel says.
He's wearing a pair of track pants and a Saints t-shirt. His hair is mussed up, as if he'd been turning his fingers through it as he read or did homework. His feet are bare and the odd intimacy of it strikes Dean into silence.
"Is something wrong?" Castiel asks softly as he steps out onto the porch with Dean.
His quiet concern digs into Dean's chest, making his heart ache pleasantly and drawing words from his mind finally. He looks up from Castiel's feet and feels his mouth tug up at one corner. After all this time, he's finally alone with Castiel Padalecki and there's only one thing he can think to say.
"Hey, I'm Dean Winchester."
The blue eyes that so thoroughly captured him at that first game so long ago brighten with pleasure. They're so beautiful that Dean can barely breathe and he wonders how he could completely miss falling for Castiel.
"Hello, Dean. I'm Castiel Padalecki," he answers, his voice as low and rough as Dean remembers from the one time he spoke with him outside the movie theatre. Heat flashes through Dean's body.
"Would you like to come in?"
Dean smiles so wide it actually hurts. What he's feeling now is the complete opposite of when he thought Jensen and Castiel hooked up. In place of that empty hurt, there is warmth and pleasure and shockingly powerful relief.
"Yeah, more than anything."
"Wait, before you do," Castiel says, placing his palm against Dean's chest. Fear threatens to invade Dean's happiness, but before he can indulge it, Castiel's pressed hard against him, his rare smile turning wicked. "There's something I've wanted to do for some time now."
Castiel kisses him. He slides one hand to the back of Dean's head and the other around his waist, surrounding Dean and pulling him close. His movements are sure, but his kiss clearly inexperienced and the thought that this kiss might be his first makes Dean's heart speed up. He jumps into action, reaching down to curl one hand around Castiel's hip while the other settles on his cheek, tilting his head to a better angle. Castiel moans low, a deep rumble in his chest that seems to vibrate throughout Dean's entire body.
Castiel surges into the kiss and opens his mouth against Dean's to deepen it. When Cas bites down gently on his bottom lip, Dean makes a high needy sound that might have embarrassed him if he didn't feel so urgent. He tears out of the kiss with great reluctance, laying his forehead on Castiel's as he tries to hold himself together.
"Um, so we should, I don't know..."
He doesn't want to pressure Castiel and after all, they kind of just met, but when he tries to pull away, Castiel holds him tight.
"You should come to my room with me," he says and it sounds more like an order than a suggestion. Dean's eyes widen and the heat that's been building explodes into a rush of eager arousal.
Castiel grips his hand. "You've been stalking me for over two years. You owe me," he says as he drags Dean into the house.
Dean doesn't complain. Not as Castiel shoves him up the stairs nor when he starts tugging at Dean's clothes and certainly not when he ends up straddled on Dean's naked lap, intense gaze zeroed in on Dean's. He leans down and kisses him lightly.
"You should have come over a long time ago."
Dean opens his mouth to agree, but then Castiel rolls his hips and Dean's thoughts scatter off-course.
He'll tell him later.
Eight Years Later
Angels' pitcher Winchester signs new contract, reveals homosexual relationship
LA Angels' pitcher Dean Winchester signed a new contract Monday with the team that drafted him out of college. This new deal will see him earn $61 million over the next seven years and guarantees that the Angels will remain play-off contenders for years to come.
But that's not the real story. On the same day the deal was announced, Winchester called ESPN from his home on the outskirts of Los Angeles to officially come out as a homosexual. During the phone interview, Winchester admitted to what's long been an open secret in the industry. He's been in a romantic relationship with 25 year old school teacher, Castiel Padalecki, for eight years.
"Yeah, I know everyone's more surprised by me saying it than that it's true," Winchester said typical candor. "We're adopting this year and I realized my kid's gonna look at me and ask why I won't tell people about his dad and let me tell you, that was a s***** feeling."
The pair met while playing for rival schools in Kansas. Padalecki, a decent player in high school, chose to pursue an education degree rather than attempt to play on the next level. To this day, Castiel Padalecki remains the one hitter Dean never struck out in his high school career. Considering Winchester's numbers, that's certainly saying something. When asked if that bothered him, Winchester answered in a wry tone, "Hell yeah, it bothers me! You have no idea what it's like to have someone lord that over you for eight years!"
But on a more serious note, Winchester indicated that this revelation had less to do with him and more to do with Padalecki.
"He's sacrificed more for me than I can even say," he said. "I dragged him to South Carolina for college and then out to Los Angeles. I travel all the damn time and he never complains. Not about that anyway," he joked. "It's about time I stopped pretending I was silent just to keep questions at bay. I wanted to protect Cas from all this nonsense, but really, it was just hurting him, so I'm through with it."
As the rest of the world slowly accepts homosexuality, professional sports remains a bulwark of intolerance. Winchester's revelation won't come as a surprise, but it might shake things up for the team. Winchester maintained confidence that his longtime teammates could handle it, but whether his opponents cause problems remains to be seen.
"Look, it's a game. Guys don't have to like me to try and hit off me and if anyone says they have a problem with me and Cas, then I think they're more scared of my fastball than anything."
When called for comment, Angels' manager Eric Kripke and general manager Jeremy Carver both had similar things to say. "Dean's sexuality is not an issue for the team," Kripke said before adding, "Nor for me personally. I think Castiel is great and certainly the only guy I've ever known that could handle Dean's...more prickly moods."
"Dean's the best pitcher in baseball," Carver stated. "If you think we'd do anything other than hold onto him for as long as possible, than you're crazy."
Crazy indeed. With the Angels coming off a play-off bid that ended just shy of the World Series, Dean Winchester is a crucial part of the run to next year's championship. He's not in any danger of losing his position.
"To be frank," Winchester said. "I could care less what anyone thinks. I'm sick of that s***. Jensen's been with Jared this whole time too and he's never tried to hide him. Not that you can hide Jared, but you catch my drift."
Jensen, Winchester's identical twin brother, was a catcher at LSU before going onto to sports writing career in Los Angeles, where he lives with partner, Jared Padalecki, younger brother of Castiel. He is often cited as an inspiration to openly gay sports fans who want to break into the business. Winchester became flustered at the suggestion that he, too, might serve as an inspiration to up and coming sport stars.
"If it helps some guy out, then great, but as far as I'm concerned, fans care more about my skill on the mound than who I'm screwing at night," Winchester said before abruptly declaring the interview over.
That may be Winchester's final word on the matter, but baseball's reaction won't truly be known until the new season starts. When that time comes, opponents can be certain this won't change anything about Winchester's game.
And just maybe, that's the only thing that matters.