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Not all Angels have Wings

Chapter Text

“Get down! Take cover!” 

Dean threw himself to the ground, landing roughly on his shoulder where pain shot through him from an old bullet wound he’d acquired a few months ago. Dean didn’t have time to care about trying to shift into a more comfortable position as mortar rounds went off overhead. Dean curled into a ball and shut his eyes, as screams came from every direction; there was nothing he could do to help. 

“Medic! We need a medic!”

Another round hit so close to Dean that he felt it ricochet up his bones and through his teeth. There was another soldier crouched beside Dean, one hand on top of his muddy helmet, the other pushed into the ground to steady himself. Dean peered through half-open eyelids to see that it was Adam, a young scrappy boy around Dean’s age. 

“Adam, get down!” Dean shouted over the scream of another round coming through the sky. 

Adam’s eyes widened in fear, but before he could push himself into the mud beside Dean there was blood covering Dean’s combat jacket and Adam was struggling to breathe on the ground. 

 

Dean woke with a start. Sweat dripped from his forehead and his back was slick with moisture, his chest heaved as he tried to force air into his lungs and his heart was pumping a fast drumbeat through his head. His hands felt like they were sticky with half-dried blood, but when Dean looked down to try and rub it off, he realized his hands were bare. 

  It was just a nightmare . Dean thought. 

Except it wasn’t, it was a memory. It’d been fourteen years since Dean had been in combat and still, every night, he would wake up in terror for his life as he re-lived every terrible day he’d been through out on the field. 

Dean glanced at the clock ticking steadily beside his bed, the little hand was stuck on the four and the big hand was moving slowly after the five: 4:25. It was only 4:25, Dean hadn’t even been asleep for three hours.

 He knew he wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep so instead, Dean climbed out from under his covers and headed into his kitchen. He scrubbed a hand down his face to clear away the terror that was in the form of sweat and he pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes, as if that would cleanse his mind of all his terrible memories. 

Dean opened one of his cabinets and took out a cocktail glass, he moved over to a crate by the fridge and pulled out a bottle of whiskey; Dean poured himself a glass and then moved to his couch. 

As Dean sipped at his whiskey his eyes wandered over his apartment, taking in the record player that sat at the far side of the room next to the fireplace, listening to the hum of his fridge as it kept his food cool. 

Dean tried to relax, to let the old tattered blue couch underneath him soak up his fears, but it was no use. No matter how hard Dean tried, he couldn’t keep his hands from shaking, he couldn’t stop his eyes from moving around the apartment, trying to find the best exit if someone were to attack him. 

You’re safe . Dean told himself every time he had one of these panic attacks. You’re fine, you’re safe, the war is over, you don’t have to be afraid anymore

Dean sat there, breathing slowly, whiskey glass in one hand, the other clenched in a tense fist where it rested on his knee, he sat there until the faint orange of dawn started to seep through the curtains. 

Dean made himself breakfast of eggs and bacon with a strong cup of black coffee on the side. It was nearing eight o’clock when Dean finished doing the dishes and managed to get himself into some clothes. 

Today, Dean was wearing jeans, held up by a brown leather belt, a black skin-tight t-shirt, a leather jacket, and brown boots. He didn’t bother combing his hair, he let it stick up a bit at the front and smoothed down the sides with his fingertips. 

With ease, that he didn’t have mere hours ago, Dean swiped his car keys from the counter and headed out the door. He descended two sets of stairs until he reached the street where his brand new ‘59 Cadillac waited for him, its fresh black paint shining in the early sun. Dean had been saving up money for years so he could buy a good car and had treated himself to the Cadillac back in March, it was October now and the car was still sparkling, not a scratch on her. 

Dean started the engine, letting the purr of it wash over him, and then backed out of his parking space on the side of the road and let the familiarity of his commute to work relax him even further. 

Dean owned a bar he had named The Winchester Tavern, for lack of a better idea, and he worked as a bartender there on most days or he cooked in the kitchen, grilling up burgers. Dean always opened his bar himself, he never let any of his hires do it for him. It wasn’t that Dean didn’t trust his employees, some of them were his best friends, it was that every morning Dean needed some time to be alone in his bar before any of the workers came in, his routine was what kept him grounded after his nightmares. 

Dean’s bar was about ten miles away from his apartment complex so it only took him a little less than ten minutes to get there,  and that was if he was going the speed limit- which was something Dean rarely abided by- but today, he decided to take it slow, enjoying the scenery of the town.

 He spotted a woman going for an early morning jog with a dog's leash clasped in her hand as the shepherd ran beside her, there was a man dressed in a sharp suit walking swiftly with a briefcase swinging from his left hand, there was a mother and a daughter holding hands as they walked down the street looking through shop windows; it was the normal hustle and bustle of Lawrence Kansas and Dean couldn’t help but smile to himself. 

Dean reached his bar and turned onto the back road that would lead him to the parking lot. He pulled into the slot furthest from the entrance and plucked the keys from the ignition before sliding out of his Cadillac and walking across the parking lot towards his most prized possession. 

Dean turned the key in the door and stepped into his bar. The smells of alcohol, faded cigarette smoke, and grilled meat greeted Dean as he walked in and he took a deep breath, relishing in the familiar scents. His eyes moved along every inch of his bar, checking to make sure everything was intact and that no one had tried to rob him in the night. Everything looked fine, as far as Dean could tell.

The red high padded stools still sat neatly pushed up under the long polished bar table, the ten or so tables that made up the ‘restaurant’ part of his bar were all untouched from how he’d laid them out last night before he left, and the black tiled floor was spotless, Dean could see his reflection staring back at him from the ground. 

Dean moved onto the kitchen and double-checked that the fridge was stocked with what they’d need for the day, it was, save a small lack of hamburger meat but that shouldn’t be a problem as Dean had put in a request a few days ago for a shipment of meat which should be arriving sometime tomorrow; so Dean figured they’d be set in that regard. 

Dean then checked behind the bar, counting the number of bottles he had of each form of alcohol, there were definitely enough bottles, so Dean straightened up and pulled his apron out from under the bar table. He folded it in half and then wrapped it around his waist before he plucked a clean towel from where it was sitting beside a bottle of tequila and began to wipe down the already clean counter, just in case any dust had settled there during the night. 

His hands swept over the shiny surface in slow circular motions and he hummed to himself as he worked, letting the rhythm of the movement pull him back into the reality that the war was over and that he was safe. 

After Dean finished with the counter, he tucked the towel into the back of his jeans and then moved towards the front door where the CLOSED sign currently hung in the window. Dean flipped the sign over, now letting the word OPEN face the street. 

As Dean was moving back behind his bar the back door opened and in stepped Dean’s best friend and war buddy, Benny Lafitte. Benny had a stocky build and a well trimmed beard with short brown hair and a smile that could light up any room. Benny was head chef and Dean’s assistant manager. 

“Morning chief,” Benny said as he moved behind the bar to greet Dean. 

“Mornin’ Benny,” Dean replied, offering his friend a smile. 

“Sleep alright?” Benny asked. 

Benny was the only person Dean had told about his nightmares, mainly because Benny was the only one who would understand, he’d lived through the same war Dean had, he had the same nightmares. 

Dean just shrugged. “I slept as well as I usually do.” 

“That bad huh?” 

Dean shook his head with a roll of his eyes. “I got three hours, which on some level is better than not getting any sleep at all. What about you?”

Benny grinned and boasted, “I got five hours.” 

Dean raised his eyebrows at Benny in disbelief. “ Five hours? Really?” 

“Yup. Best I’ve slept in a long time.” 

“Well, I’m glad to see one of us is moving up in the world,” Dean said with a laugh. 

Benny slapped Dean on the back as he moved past him to make his way to the kitchen. “You’ll get there chief.” 

Dean moved on to organizing the glasses on the shelf behind the bar and dusting them out. He heard Benny start chopping something in the kitchen and heard the bubbling of water as it started to boil in preparation for whatever Benny was about to cook on their very limited menu, which consisted of some breakfast foods -just your basics, pancakes, eggs, toast, etc…-, three different kinds of burgers, salads, two soups, and a few small appetizers. 

Dean had just begun to start moving from table to table, checking if napkins were stocked and the ketchup bottles and salt and pepper shakers were full, when two of his favorite employees Ellen and Jo Harvelle entered the bar. Ellen was a single mother of her twenty-year old daughter Jo, she’d lost her husband to the war when Jo was only five years old. They’d moved to Lawrenece when Jo was sixteen and when Ellen came into his bar the day after they’d come to town Dean quickly took her in, offering both her and her daughter a job. Ellen hadn’t wanted to accept at first but after Dean’s insistent arguing that he was short staffed she gave in and Dean had started them the next day, Jo working tables and Ellen fixing drinks behind the bar with Dean or working in the kitchen. 

“Hey Dean,” Ellen said with a smile as the door swung shut behind her with a click. 

“Ellen,” Dean replied with a nod, “Jo.” Dean flashed Jo one of his most winning smiles and Jo flushed red from the neck up. It was no secret that Jo was harboring a crush on her much older, devilishly handsome boss, and despite Ellen telling Jo it was unprofessional and that she needed to get her life together and start going after guys her own age, Dean took it in stride and assured her that it was fine and that Jo’s feelings weren’t going to affect her job in any way. 

“Hi Dean,” Jo replied as she forced her blush back down. 

“Why don’t you get your apron on and then you can finish making sure the condiments and napkins are full on all the tables,” Dean said.

“Sure thing,” Jo replied. 

“Anything you need me to do?” Ellen asked. 

Dean sighed as he looked around the bar, his eyes searching for something to occupy Ellen, he came up blank. “I think I’ve covered everything involving the bar for right now, but you can go see if Benny needs help in the kitchen.” 

Ellen nodded and disappeared into the kitchen, her voice could barely be heard as she asked Benny what she could do.  Jo started moving around the tables, filling up salt shakers and napkin dispensers. 

Dean didn’t expect any customers for another couple of hours so when the bell above the door rang and young red headed woman in her early twenties came in, Dean had to work hard to hide his surprise. 

“Hi there,” Jo greeted her with a smile. 

“Hello,” the woman replied. 

Jo led the woman to a table and once she was seated Jo placed a menu in front of her. “I’m Jo and I’ll be your server this morning. Can I start you off with a drink?” 

“Just come coffee would be nice.” 

“You got it,” Jo replied. 

Dean heard Jo put in the order in the kitchen which was followed by the clanking of pots as either Ellen or Benny began to brew the coffee. 

The woman began perusing the menu and Dean turned back to mindlessly cleaning the counter.

 It was about twenty minutes later, when the woman had ordered French toast and was halfway through her meal, that Dean was alerted to the sound of the back door opening to announce the entrance of  his most problematic employee.

Gadreel, a tall roughly built man in his late twenties, came sauntering into the bar a smile on his face as he locked eyes with his boss. Gadreel was always late for his shift and he only did what Dean told him when it was convenient for him. Dean had half a mind to fire him but Gadreel had a way with customers, always leaving them smiling and charming them within an inch of their life, and Dean just couldn’t bring himself to sack him. 

So, instead, Dean tossed the man his apron, who caught it easily, and directed him towards the kitchen. Gadreel helped Benny with the cooking but also waited on tables with Jo. 

Dean turned his gaze back to the red headed woman and saw that she had pushed her empty plate aside and was now nose deep in a book. Dean didn’t bother calling Jo out to take care of the woman’s plate, he needed something to do anyway. Dean moved over to the table holding his lone customer and offered her a smile, which she didn’t see as all her attention was on the book. Dean glanced at the cover and saw The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe written across the front in loopy letters. 

Dean’s hands were closing around the edge of her plate which she looked up, finally noticing him. “Oh, thank you,” she said. 

Dean nodded. “Of course. Did you want to order anything else?” 

The woman shook her head. “No, thank you, I’ll just take the check please.” 

Dean gestured towards the book with his free hand. “Good book?” 

A smile broke out the woman’s face. “It’s amazing! It’s set during World War 2 and it’s about these four siblings that find their way into a magical world through a wardrobe in this professor's house, but the land is controlled by an evil queen and it’s up to them to save Narnia, that’s what the place is called, and the siblings end up getting separated and have to find their way back to each other, it’s really cool.” 

Dean smiled and let out a short laugh. “Sounds interesting.” Dean wasn’t really into fantasy literature and all that, in fact he didn’t really enjoy reading, and if the book was set during the war Dean had fought in he wasn’t exactly eager to revisit those days through fiction. “I’ll be back with your check in just a moment,” Dean said, fighting down the memories he had just worked all morning to push to the back of his mind. 

“Thank you,” the peppy woman called after him. 

Dean entered the kitchen to find Jo leaning against the counter, arms propped up behind her as she watched Benny stir a big pot of soup. Ellen was chopping vegetables on the long table that was set up in the middle of the kitchen, and Gadreel was patting together burgers. 

“Hey, Jo,” Dean said as he entered, the dirty plate held aloft. “Remember to check on your customers once and awhile.” 

Jo’s eyes snapped to Dean and embarrassment flooded to her cheeks. “Oh shit, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it just don’t let it happen again,” Dean replied softly, letting her know he wasn’t mad. “She does need her check though, which I think you can handle.” 

Jo nodded and then picked up the woman’s check and headed back out of the room. 

“Sorry,” Ellen said as she looked up from chopping a tomato. “I shouldn’t have let her get distracted.” 

Dean shook his head and held up a hand. “It’s not your fault Ellen, there’s only one customer right now, it’s no big deal.” 

Looking unconvinced, Ellen returned to her tomato and Dean left the kitchen to stand back behind his bar. He saw Jo walking away from the woman, check in hand, and Dean watched as the woman’s eyes followed Jo’s back, skimming her body up and down. Dean crooked an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. 

Dean knew that in other places the woman would have been thrown out just for looking at Jo with any form of lust, but Dean’s bar wasn’t that kind of place. Dean wasn’t homophobic, in fact he himself liked to taste both flavors, he was bisexual as they were calling it these days. It was easier for Dean to hide is ‘queer’ side because he also liked women, but every once and a while when a good looking man came through his door it took a lot of effort for Dean’s eyes not to trail after him. 

When Jo returned with the woman’s change she smiled at the waitress and then closed up her book and stood up, ready to go. 

“Goodbye!” she called to Dean. 

“Have a good day,” Dean waved back. 

“Oh I will, I’ve got a hot date this afternoon,” she said with a wink. 

Dean chuckled. “Well good luck.” 

“Thanks!” she paused in front of the door, her hand poised to push it open but she turned back. “I’m Charlie by the way, I just moved here a week ago, and I just wanted to say that so far this restaurant has been my favorite, my compliments to the chef, I’ll definitely be back.” 

Dean grinned. “That’s mighty kind of you, I will pass on your compliment.” 

Charlie grinned, waved at Dean, and then left, the bell ringing in her wake. She’d only been gone for a few moments when the door opened again and in stepped one of their regulars, Ash. Ash walked with a swagger that made him look like the most important person in the room while simultaneously giving you the feeling that he was the biggest idiot that you’d ever laid eyes on. His hair was short in the front and long in the back (“business up front, party in the back” was what he always said when anyone commented on his hair) and he wore ripped jeans and a tight t-shirt with a necklace that hung on a long chair. Ash defied all norms and Dean couldn’t help loving him for it. 

“Hey there Ash,” Dean greeted him. 

“Hey Dean!” Ash replied cheerfully as he swung himself onto a bar chair. 

“The usual?” Dean asked. 

“You know it,” Ash grinned. Dean cracked open a bottle of beer and set it down in front of Ash. 

Ash was one of two of Dean’s regular day drinkers, the other was an older man named Asmodeus, whom Dean had to throw out of his bar a few times because the man had an insufferable ability to argue about anything and everything and he was very loud about it, which tended to be disruptive to his other customers. But, every day Asmodeus came back and Dean served him because sometimes the man was interesting to chat with; Dean had just learned to refuse him service after he’d had over five alcoholic drinks. 

Ash on the other hand was a very mellow drinker, a happy drunk, and he was able to hold intelligent conversation even after his sixth beer. 

Jo emerged from the kitchen and she smiled when she saw Ash. “Hey Ash.” 

Ash held up his beer in cheers and grinned back at her, putting on his best flirtatious smile. “Joanna.” 

Jo rolled her eyes. “It’s Jo .” 

Ash took a sip of his beer as Jo went to wipe down the table Charlie had just vacated. Dean slipped off into the kitchen, knowing that Jo would handle Ash if he wanted anything. “Hey Benny,” Dean said when he entered the now slightly warm kitchen. 

“What’s up chief?” Benny asked as he looked up from where he’d been tearing fresh lettuce into bite sized pieces. 

“Our latest customer wanted me to express her compliments to the chef,” Dean replied as he waved his hand over his head in a circular motion and dipped down in a bow. 

Benny laughed. “How touching.” 

“Ash also just arrived and I’m sure he’ll be wanting his usual eggs and bacon,” Dean added. 

Benny nodded. “Coming right up.” 

Dean floated back into the main room and saw that Jo had seated a father and daughter at one of the tables by the window. The little girl had long blond hair and couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old, the father had short brown hair and he smiled at his daughter as she picked up the menu that Jo had just put down. 

“You can get anything you want,” the man said.

“Anything?” the girl asked with wide eyes. 

“Anything munchkin,” her father confirmed. “It is your birthday after all.”

The little girl’s eyes lit up with excitement and she eagerly started to read the menu. Jo went off to get them drinks and Dean watched Ash turn around to look at the father and daughter. “Sweet kid you got there,” he said. 

 “She’s the sweetest,” he replied with a soft smile. 

The girl looked up at Ash with big blue eyes. “I’m turning eight today!” she exclaimed, holding up eight fingers. 

“Well then a happy birthday song is in order,” Ash replied. 

“Oh boy,” Dean grimaced. “I’m sorry for what’s about to happen,” he apologized to his customers. 

“What’s your name?” Ash asked. 

“Lilith,” the girl replied happily. 

Ash cleared his throat and started to sing a very off-key rendition of Happy Birthday To You. When he got to Lilith’s name he threw his hands up in the air in an exaggerated gesture and Lilith started to giggle. Ash finished on a high note, that Dean worried might actually make his ears bleed, and then took a swig of his beer, a loopy grin plastered to his face. 

Lilith started clapping and Ash laughed and stood up to take a bow. “Thank you, thank you very much.” 

“Is it over?” Jo asked as she poked her head out of the kitchen, removing one of her fingers from her ear. 

“All clear,” Dean replied, sending her a thumbs up. 

“Thank God,” Jo said. She came out of the kitchen carrying a glass of orange juice and a glass of lemonade on a tray and went to set them on the table for Lilith and her father. “So, what’ll it be?” Jo asked, pulling out her order pad. 

“Pancakes!” Lilith exclaimed. “With whipped cream!” 

“Sure thing!” Jo replied, writing it down. “And you sir?” 

“I’ll take the eggs with a side of sausage and toast.” 

“How would you like your eggs cooked?” Jo asked. 

“Over easy will be just fine,” he replied. 

“You got it!” Jo said as she pocketed her order pad and headed back out to the kitchen, only to emerge a moment later with Ash’s eggs. 

Ash grinned up at Jo as she set them down in front of him. “Thank you, Joanna.” 

Jo scoffed at Ash again. “For the last time Ash, it’s just Jo .” 

Ash ignored her and took a bite of his bacon and Jo shook her head and walked back into the kitchen. Dean placed another bottle of beer in front of Ash, as the man had already barreled through his first one and Ash acknowledged Dean in a thank you with a nod of his head. 

A couple of minutes later Jo came out of the kitchen with Gadreel and Ellen following her as she held Lilith’s plate of pancakes with a few candles stuck in them out in front of her. The three of them began to sing Happy Birthday, in a much more pleasant tone than Ash, as they advanced towards Lilith who was smiling broadly and fighting excited laughter. 

She blew out the candles in one breath which earned her cheers from everyone in the room and then she dug happily into her pancakes. Ellen had been holding the plate for Lilith’s father and she placed it in front of him before taking her leave back to the kitchen with Gadreel. 

 

The day moved on slowly. Asomdeus came into the bar in the late afternoon and sat down a few seats over from Ash, who was now on his fifth beer. Dean fixed Asmodeus his usual glass of whiskey and the man grunted his thanks before knocking the drink back in one gulp. Dean refilled the glass and then moved over to see if Ash needed anything. 

“I’m good, man,” Ash said upon Dean’s inquiry. 

“You sure you don’t want a burger?” Dean asked. 

Ash looked up at Dean with a smirk. “Only if you make it.” 

Dean laughed and winked at Ash. “I think I can do that.” 

“Make it a double then!” Ash called after him as Dean pushed open the kitchen door. 

“Ellen, I need you to take up bar duty,” Dean said. 

“Sure thing,” Ellen replied, putting the knife down she’d been using to cut up potatoes for the homemade french fries Benny made.

Dean moved over to where Gadreel was manning the grill. “You can go see if Jo needs help with the tables, I’ve got the burgers for a bit,” Dean said. 

Gadreel flipped one last burger and then handed the spatula to Dean. “Actually I was wondering if I could take my break now.” 

Dean sighed but nodded. “Yeah why not.” 

Gadreel flashed him a grin and then pushed his way out the backdoor, a cigarette already between his fingers. Dean placed the two burgers Gadreel had been working on on a plate for Benny to make up and then put two more patties on the grill. 

“So, how was your date with Andrea last night?” Dean asked over the sizzle of the grilling meat.

“It was great,” Benny replied, the hint of a smile in his voice. 

“Yeah? You think she’s the one ?” Dean asked. 

“Yeah, I think she might be,” Benny replied. 

“Well I’m invited to the wedding then, right?” 

“‘Course you are. I couldn’t imagine my wedding day without you brother.”

“You’re too kind,” Dean said as he flipped one of Ash’s burgers. 

Dean and Benny worked in silence for a few minutes as Dean finished up the burgers and then moved over to dress them up with Benny’s famous creamy sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Benny placed some fries on the side of the plate and then Dean headed off to the bar. 

He put the plate down in front of Ash and watched as Ash took a huge bite from the burger. “Mmm,” he said over his mouthful. 

“Good?” Dean asked. 

“Marvelous,” Ash mumbled. 

 

By the time night rolled around, the bar was fairly quiet, Asmodeus was finishing up his last drink, Ash had left, and Dean had sent Ellen and Jo home. Gadreel had left his shift at six so now it was only Dean and Benny.

After Asmodeus left, Dean cleaned the counter and waited for the usual night customers. Sure enough, at ten o’clock sharp, in came Crowley, a short portly man with thinning brown hair and a short beard. Crowley sat down with a huff at Dean’s bar and Dean quickly made him a daiquiri, the man had a love for fancy drinks. 

Meg wandered in at half past ten, ordering her usual bourbon on the rocks and Raul, one of Crowley’s buddies, came in not long after Meg. 

Crowley made idle conversation with Dean occasionally and Dean talked with him politely. Crowley was easy to like but also very easy to hate, and Dean wasn’t sure which side of the scale he was on when it came to this particular customer. Meg on the other hand was very easy to warm up to; she was charming, flirtatious, and very pretty, Dean could talk to her all night. 

 

Dean let Benny leave at midnight, who thanked him for another good day and promised to introduce him to Andrea if things got serious, before he was out the door. Crowley and Raul left around 12:30 and so did a few other customers that had come through the door.  

Meg left fifteen minutes later and Dean followed her towards the door, biding her goodnight, before he locked the door behind her and turned the sign to CLOSED. He wiped down the tables, polished the bar counter, pushed in all the chairs, swept the floor, and then checked to make sure Benny had cleaned the kitchen, even though he knew that Benny would never leave a mess behind. The kitchen was spotless, but Dean still moved his rag over the counter in the center of the room, just because if he left the bar without doing so he would feel like he was missing something. 

Dean did one last sweep through his bar, straightening glasses and bottles of alcohol on their respective shelves, before he deemed his bar good enough to leave behind for the night, or early morning as it was. 

Dean locked the back door, jiggling it once just to make sure it truly was locked, and then he headed across the empty parking lot to his Cadillac and slid inside with a sigh. The engine turned over, his car roared to life, and Dean pulled out onto the street and headed home. 

Dean parked his car on the street outside his apartment complex, mounted the stairs to the third floor, and then unlocked the door to his one bedroom apartment. Dean tossed his keys on the counter, kicked off his boots, and poured himself some whiskey, from the bottle he’d opened the previous morning, before he sat back on his couch with a sigh.

 

 The clock was nearing 1:30 when Dean finally headed off to bed. His feet hurt from standing all day and a yawn forced its way out of his mouth. He set his alarm for 8:00 A.M., even though he knew he’d wake up hours before it went off, and then laid back in bed and shut his eyes, preparing to do the same thing again tomorrow.  

 

Chapter Text

Castiel rolled over on the hard two seat couch that made up part of his brother Gabriel’s living room. His legs were pulled up tight to his chest and the blanket, Gabe must have draped over him at some point, was on the floor in a pile. 

Cas glanced over the back of the couch towards the kitchen where the clock hung over the stove, it read 3:13 A.M; he hadn’t slept a wink since he’d gone to bed around midnight. Cas groaned to himself and rubbed his eyes before sitting up. Careful not to wake Gabriel, who was sleeping in the next room, Cas opened the door to the hallway of the apartment and headed down the stairs to the street. 

He was greeted by crisp early morning air and Cas vaguely wished he’d thought to grab a coat. Instead of returning to his brother’s apartment to retrieve said coat, Cas crossed his arms over his chest and set off at a brisk pace. 

No one was around this early in the morning, and Cas was glad for it, he didn’t want to have to try and socially interact with anyone if he didn’t have to. Cas wasn’t exactly well-versed in socializing, which was something that Gabriel certainly didn’t share. Gabriel was everything Cas wasn’t; he was the most rambunctious, flirtatious, and all around annoying goofball that Castiel had ever had the misfortune of knowing (and being related to). 

On the other hand, Gabriel was kind and reliable, Cas knew he could count on his older brother for anything, which was exactly what Cas was doing now. Gabe had offered Cas a place to stay while he was preparing to move to his new apartment in Lawrence Kansas. Gabe’s apartment was in Topeka, a town over from Lawrence, and Castiel had gratefully accepted his brother’s offer.  

Cas had just gotten a job at a bakery and he was going to start there in a week. Cas loved baking, it was the only thing that made him feel like himself again after the war. Cas had been drafted when he’d turned 18 and he’d served for about two years overseas. Cas had miraculously made it out of the war in one piece with only a few battle scars to show for it, with a bullet wound or shrapnel scar here or there. When Cas had come back after they’d been victorious, he found that folding and kneading dough was the only thing that would steady his constantly shaking hands. 

Cas had always loved baking; even when he was a kid, he often found himself in the kitchen helping his mother Hester make cookies or pies. His mother loved getting his help but his father, on the other hand, had never approved of Cas’ love for the more ‘female crafts’ as he’d put it. But Cas didn’t care what his father thought of him, and it hadn’t mattered anyway, his father had abandoned his family when Cas was ten years old, leaving his mother for another woman. 

It had been Cas, his mother, Gabriel, and his little sister Anna since then, that was until Anna had passed away unexpectedly. Anna had been walking home when she’d been hit by a speeding car, the impact killed her instantly, and the thought that she hadn’t suffered was the only thing that kept Cas from burying himself in a bottle and never looking back. 

Anna’s death had been hard on Castiel, Gabriel too even if he didn’t show it as openly as Cas did. The loss of their sister had completely wrecked their already dysfunctional family; Cas’ mother had stopped calling her sons, Gabriel had lost some of his pep, and Cas had uprooted his life and decided to move and start a new job in a different town. 

Anna and Cas had shared a dingy two-bedroom apartment, that always smelled of piss and smoke. Their shared residence was what had made Cas the first person who learned of Anna’s tragic death. 

He remembered the day as clearly as he remembered his own name. 

It had been just after 7:30 and Cas had begun to worry about the lack of his sisters presence, she was usually home by 7, and Cas had prepared a nice chicken dinner for them which was slowly growing colder with each passing minute. 

Cas had been pacing his apartment at quarter to 8 when there was a knock on the door and Cas opened it to two policemen. They hadn’t needed to say anything to him, Cas just knew what had happened; policemen at your door only meant one thing, someone was dead. 

Cas remembered crumpling to the floor as tears filled his eyes, he remembered the policemen helping him to the couch, he remembered their condolences that he didn’t want, he remembered them telling him how she’d died, that she hadn’t suffered, he remembered them asking if he needed to call anyone, he remembered that fleeting moment of panic in his chest when he realized he had no idea how to tell Gabe and his mother what had happened to the youngest member of their family, but mostly he remembered how empty his life was without his baby sister, how the apartment seemed to frown at him whenever he moved around it and how he couldn’t bring himself to get rid of any of Anna’s things. 

Cas couldn’t stand the empty apartment, and he was in between jobs anyway, so he decided to move. Cas had applied for a job in a bakery and he’d been accepted far sooner than he thought he would have been, so Cas had scrambled to find an apartment he could afford. He settled on a complex about ten miles from the bakery, it wasn’t exactly ideal seeing as Cas didn’t even own a car, but it was the closest apartment there was to the bakery. He had a bike so he didn’t mind getting up early to bike to work, it wasn’t like he’d be sleeping anyway. 

Gabriel was going to drive Cas to his new apartment tomorrow morning and help him unpack and get settled in, which Cas was very thankful for, he hadn’t wanted to find a way to transport himself and his limited belongings to his new home by himself. Gabriel had told Cas to take his time to get his legs under him and if he needed anything to call, but Cas didn’t plan to bother his brother with such trivial things; Gabriel had already done enough for Cas as it was. 

Cas wasn’t about to lie to himself, living without Anna was going to be hard. Cas hadn’t lived by himself since he’d come back from the war, he’d tried once but it hadn’t worked out very well. His neighbors would complain about him moving around at obscene hours of the night and about being woken up by his screaming.

Cas could make it through most days just fine, it was the nights that were hard and when Cas had confided in Anna, she’d immediately offered to get a place with him, so that when the nightmares struck he wouldn’t wake up alone. Having Anna there when he’d wake up in cold sweat as his chest seemed to compress in on itself, had been welcomed. Even though Anna was the younger sibling, she’d had always had a way with Castiel, keeping him calm when his memories would become too much, her warm smile filling him up with the sense that everything was going to be fine. 

Living without Anna, and without being surrounded by her things, was something that Cas wasn’t sure he was ready to face, but he knew that Anna would want for him to at least try, and that was the only thought that had gotten Cas through applying for an apartment. 

Cas hadn’t been able to sleep well since Anna had died, not that he slept well anyway, but he’d often wake up in the middle of the night with tears on his cheeks from war memories or from the realization that Anna was gone. The only thing that seemed to help calm him were walks. 

Cas had latched onto walking during the early morning as his defense mechanism against facing sleep. Cas found that moving and just doing something was what helped him feel better, what helped him feel alive. 

Now, as Cas walked down the unfamiliar street of Gabriel’s town, he let his thoughts move away from Anna and began to wonder what his new job would bring him. 

Cas had only visited the town once, to see the apartment, pick up his key, and to meet his new employer. It seemed like a cozy town where nothing ever happened, and that was exactly what Cas wanted, he needed some quiet in his life.  

As the sun began to rise, spreading pink and orange colors across the blue canvas of the sky, Cas turned around and headed back down the street the way he’d come. 

Gabriel was awake when Cas came back and his brother turned his gaze to Cas. “Morning bro!” Gabe said, a grin on his face. Gabriel was a morning person if Cas ever saw one.

 Cas offered him a weak smile as he sat down at the kitchen table. “Morning.” 

“Ready to move into your new apartment?” Gabriel asked as he set a plate of waffles stacked high with whipped cream down in front of Cas; Gabriel had always had a sweet tooth and he tried to impose his habits upon Cas, unsuccessfully. 

“I suppose,” Cas said with a sigh. 

“It’ll be great, don’t you worry,” Gabriel said as he sat down with his own plate of waffles. 

Cas only grunted as he picked up his fork and dug into his waffles. Cas wasn’t really hungry, but he knew that if he didn’t eat Gabriel would throw a fit, so he forced the waffles down. 

Once the brothers had finished their breakfast Cas helped with the dishes and then Gabriel picked up his keys. “Ready to go?” 

Cas nodded, as much for his brothers’ benefit as his own. “Yeah.” 

Gabriel led Cas out of his apartment and down to the street where his car was parked. Gabriel drove a red Chrysler, which had cost much more than Gabriel could afford but when Cas had asked him about it all Gabe had said was, “A guy owed me a favor.” Cas had decided to stop questioning his older brother and just accept what Gabriel opted to tell him. 

They’d packed the trunk the previous day so all that was left was the drive; so, Cas climbed into the passenger seat and Gabriel brought the car to life. Gabriel tried to talk to Cas as they drove but Cas would always end the conversation before it could go too far. Gabriel gave up after five attempts and Cas was grateful for the silence.

 The drive took about thirty minutes and when they pulled up into the apartment complex, and Cas looked at where he’d be spending his foreseeable future, he felt like he was going to throw up. 

“You okay?” Gabriel asked, his tone was serious, which was something that Cas wasn’t used to hearing in correlation with the words that came out of his brothers mouth. 

Cas nodded bleakly. “I will be.”

Gabriel’s hand landed warmly on Cas’ shoulder and Cas looked at him in faint surprise. “You don’t have to do this you know, we can buy a bed and I can set you up long term in my apartment, and we can kind you a nice bakery in Topeka.” 

It was a nice gesture but Cas wouldn’t dream of becoming a burden to Gabriel, so he shook his head. “No, no it’s fine Gabe, really.” 

“You’re sure?” Gabriel asked. 

“I’m sure,” Cas said. 

Gabriel nodded, but didn’t look fully convinced. “Okay.” 

Cas opened his door, before Gabriel could argue with him again, and then headed to the back of the car to open the trunk. Gabriel pocketed his keys and joined Cas at the rear of his car. Cas grabbed a box of kitchen appliances and Gabe picked up a duffel bag. 

Cas’ room was on the first floor and Cas was glad for the lack of stairs. His apartment number was room 104 and when the brothers reached the door Gabriel waited patiently for Cas to find his key and unlock it. 

The apartment was not very big, there was one bedroom, a tiny kitchen, and a sitting room, but it was exactly what Cas needed. They set down what they were carrying and then returned to the car for more. 

It only took three trips to get Cas moved in. The last thing out of the car was Cas’ faded black bike that had an ugly orange-mustard colored seat and handlebars. Cas propped it up outside his door and then joined his brother in unpacking. 

Gabriel had laid out all of Cas’ limited kitchen ware, from his beat up old toaster to his chipped plates. Cas let Gabe have his way with putting those things away and instead went into his bedroom where he made up his bed and put away his clothes.

Once they’d finished unpacking, Gabriel informed Cas of where all his kitchen utensils were and then spread his arms wide for a hug. Cas resisted rolling his eyes as he let Gabriel wrap himself around his little brother. 

“You going to be okay here?” Gabriel asked into Cas’ hair. 

“I’ll be fine,” Cas replied. 

“Well I’m only a call away if you need me.” 

“I know,” Cas said as he pulled away from his brother. 

“Keep in touch baby bro.” 

“I will.”

 It was an empty promise and Cas knew Gabriel knew it too. But Gabriel only nodded stiffly, smiled briefly, and then sauntered out of Cas’ apartment, leaving Cas alone. Cas sat down at the kitchen table, his chair wobbled underneath him and Cas had to steady himself by gripping the table. It was then that the tears fell. 

He’d been holding them back since his walk and he couldn’t keep them at bay any longer. Everything was just too much, the war, Anna’s death, moving, it had been a bad idea; but it was too late to back out now. In a week Cas would start work and he’d have to pretend everything was alright, even when it wasn’t. 

****

The alarm on Cas’ clock went off at 6:30 and Cas quickly shut it off, he’d been awake for two hours already and briefly wondered why he’d even set an alarm in the first place, before he remembered that it was his first day of work. 

The bakery was about ten miles away from his apartment so it would take Cas a little over an hour to bike to work. The bakery opened at 8:30 but Cas had decided that he would leave early just so he didn’t have to rush. 

Packing himself a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly and putting it in his backpack along with an apple and a bottle of water, Cas headed out.

 He straddled his bike and as he did so, his eyes rested on a shiny black Cadillac that sat on the street across from Cas’ apartment room. The car looked expensive and he wondered what a car like that was doing parked in a complex like this. Maybe someone was visiting , Cas thought, yes that would explain it . Shrugging to himself, Cas’ feet found his pedals and he took off at an easy pace. 

By the time Cas arrived at the Yellow Sparrow Bakery, his legs were sore and he was out of breath, but he still had 20 minutes to spare. Cas leaned his bike against the alley wall of the bakery and then waited outside on a wooden bench for whoever was working the first shift with him to arrive. 

His watch was telling him it was 8:15 when a loud rumble came from the street and Cas’ attention turned to see a sleek black Cadillac pull down the side road for the bar that sat across the street; The Winchester Tavern, the painted words on the window said. It took Cas a moment to realize that it was the same black Cadillac that he’d seen outside his apartment; so the owner of the car wasn’t a visitor after all. 

Cas didn’t have time to dwell on his thoughts for much longer because a young harried brunette woman came running up the sidewalk towards him, keys extended in her hand. 

“Hi!” she said breathlessly, “you must be Castiel.” 

Cas stood up and offered her his hand. “Yes, I am, hello.” 

The woman took his hand with grace and smiled. “Nice to meet you, I’m Hannah.” 

Cas smiled. “That’s a lovely name.” 

Hannah blushed as she moved towards the door. “Thank you.” 

She fumbled with the keys for a moment before the door clicked open and she led Castiel inside. 

The bakery was small and quaint, with gray and white tiled floors that lead up to the counter, surrounding the counter were two refrigerated glass cases that held different ranges of pastries from cookies to pies, the walls were painted a warm yellow, and there were three small tables sitting against the wall, each with two chairs on either side. 

Hannah gestured for Cas to come behind the counter with her and Cas did as he was told. Cas watched her unlock the cash register and then she told him to follow her into the small kitchen that branched off of the bakery. 

“Okay, so the recipes are all written out for you in the cook books and all the drawers are labeled so you can easily find everything. Naomi should be around sometime today to see how you’re doing, and we have two other regular workers who should be arriving around noon, Garth and Anael.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

“So, I guess you can just start working on making some cupcakes, we’re running low on those,” Hannah said. 

“I’ll get right on it,” Cas replied. 

Hannah left Cas alone in the kitchen and he picked up the cookbook, found the recipe for cupcakes, and began to mix ingredients in a bowl. 

Cas baked three batches, frosted them with homemade frosting from the cookbook, and then sent them out to Hannah to be put in the display cases. Cas also boxed a dozen in to-go containers for customers and then asked Hannah what he could make next. Hannah gave him the order for blueberry pie and again Cas got to work. 

At around noon, just as Hannah had said, Garth and Anael showed up. Garth was a skinny boy with a southern drawl but he was flamboyant and his smile never seemed to go away. “Hello amigo!” Garth said as he shook Cas’ hand. “Nice to meet you, Castiel, I’m Garth.” 

“Nice to meet you too,” Cas replied. 

Garth worked behind the register with Hannah and he went on to see what she needed him to do; which left Cas with Anael.

Anael was a very beautiful woman, with glossy red hair and chocolate brown eyes. She greeted Castiel and then moved into the kitchen with him. 

“How are you enjoying your first day?” she asked. 

“It’s been great so far,” Cas replied. 

“I’m glad to hear it.” 

As the day wore on, Cas found that he and Anael worked fluidly together, easily working around each other and always seeming to know what the other needed for their recipe. It was nearing 3 o’clock when Cas was alerted to his boss, Naomi entering the bakery. 

Naomi was a tall, stern woman who watched Castiel work with narrowed eyes. Cas wondered how such a woman could become the owner of a bakery, but she didn’t seem to have a problem with Castiel’s work so he didn’t judge her too harshly. 

 

At 6, Castiel was allowed to go home. He mounted his bike, and headed off on his journey back to his apartment. When he got home, he made himself dinner of cooked rice and sauteed chicken with a glass of red wine, and then sat back with a book. 

Cas read into the night, even though his tired eyes wanted him to go to sleep, Cas couldn’t bring himself to make his way to his bed. It was almost 1:30 when the growl of an engine outside made Cas look out his window. 

There, across the street was the black Cadillac. Its driver had pulled into the parking space it had been in that morning and was now climbing out of the driver seat. Cas couldn’t see very well in the dark but he could make out a tall lean shape with broad shoulders and short hair, the man had bow legs and he walked with purposeful ease towards the entrance of the apartment complex on his side of the street. Castiel’s eyes followed him with curiosity, but once the man disappeared inside Cas forced himself to look away, there was no point in staring at what he couldn’t see.  

With a sigh, Cas decided that he should probably try and sleep, he had to be up early anyway and he knew he needed at least some energy to bike to work. So, Cas headed into his bedroom, put on some pajamas, brushed his teeth, and then went to bed. 

Cas briefly thought about the owner of the Cadillac and who he was, before his eyes slipped shut, and miraculously, he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Dean has just finished washing the last dish in his sink when the phone he kept on the counter started to ring. Dean wiped his wet hands on the back of his jeans before he reached for the receiver. 

“Hello, Dean Winchester speaking.” 

“Hey Dean.” 

Dean couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face at the sound of his little brothers’ voice. “Hey Sam, what’s shakin’?”  

Sam was four years younger than Dean and he lived in the city where he worked as a lawyer. Sam was incredibly smart, smarter than Dean, smarter than anyone Dean knew, and Dean couldn’t be prouder of his little brother. 

“Dean,” Sam said, his voice shook slightly and Dean’s smile was quickly wiped away. 

“Sam, what’s wrong?” Dean asked, concern rushed through every inch of Dean’s body. 

“Nothing,” Sam replied with a laugh, “nothing, Dean everything’s great, more than great, Dean…” Sam paused and Dean realized that Sam was excited; that he was bursting to tell Dean something. “Dean she said yes.” 

Dean was silent for a moment, trying to take in what Sam was telling him.

“Dean, say something,” Sam’s voice crackled on the other end of the phone. 

 “ Jessica said yes ?” Dean breathed out, shock and happiness mixing together. 

“Yes!” Sam replied, practically giddy. 

“Sammy, that’s amazing, I’m so happy for you,” Dean said, his smile back on his face. “You know that this calls for a celebration, right?” 

Sam laughed. “Yeah I figured you’d say that.” 

“Come on Sam, you asked a girl to marry you and she said yes . I’ve got to be honest, I never saw that coming, always thought you’d die alone,” Dean teased. 

“Hey!” Sam exclaimed in retort. 

“What!? I did,” Dean laughed.

“Jerk,” Sam scoffed lightly. 

“Bitch,” Dean replied without missing a beat. “So,” Dean said, moving on, “when’s the wedding?” 

“We’ve set it for September 13th of next year,” Sam replied.

“I look forward to it,” Dean said.

“Hey, um,” Sam cleared his throat. “Dean, I was wondering if you were around today, in the afternoon, to maybe grab lunch or something. Jess is visiting her parents and I’m going to be in town.”  

Dean frowned. “I don’t know Sammy, I have the bar to run.” 

“Can’t someone else do it for an hour?” Sam pleaded.

Dean had never left his bar unattended, in all the years he’d owned it, and he didn’t plan on doing so now. “Why don’t you just stop by the tavern and we can eat there, Benny makes a mean salad.” 

Sam chuckled and it crackled in Dean’s ear. “Yeah alright Dean, I’ll see you around noon.” 

Sam hung up and Dean put down the receiver. He was glad Sam hadn't argued with him about leaving the bar, Dean didn’t know what it was, but he couldn’t bring himself to fully leave his bar in the hands of other people. Dean was actually planning to start building a small apartment room on top of his bar, so he wouldn’t have to commute to it everyday, he’d just live there. 

 

With the idea of seeing his little brother, for the first time in months, hanging in the air, Dean made his way downstairs and climbed into his Cadillac before setting off for work. 

****

“Jo!” Dean called into the kitchen. 

“Yeah?” Jo asked as she opened the kitchen door and poked her head out. 

“We have a juice spill, can you find a rag and clean it up?” Dean asked. 

Jo nodded. “Sure thing boss.” 

Jo headed over to the table where a little boy had managed to spill all of the juice from his cup over the table, himself, and the floor. The boy’s mother kept apologizing profusely to Jo as she bent over the table to sop up the mess with her rag. “That’s alright ma’am,” Jo said with a smile. “It happens more often than you’d think.” 

Dean pulled his eyes away from Jo and focused them on Ash, who was asleep on his bar counter. Shaking his head, Dean tapped him on the shoulder, Ash grunted but didn’t wake up. “Hey, Ash!?” Dean said loudly as he shook him again. “Wake up, this is a bar not a hotel.” 

Ash came to life, wiping drool from his mouth and looking at Dean with glassy eyes. He picked up his beer and took a swig. “Huh, what’d I miss?” 

“Absolutely nothing,” Dean replied with a grin.

Dean checked his watch and saw that he still had half an hour until Sam would arrive, so Dean decided to do something productive. Dean left Ash to his beer and found his way to the storage closet where numerous different brooms and cleaning equipment was kept. Dean choose a street broom and then headed out to the front of his bar and onto the sidewalk. 

Leaves littered the walkway in front of his bar and Dean slowly began to sweep them away. People passed by him, offering him friendly smiles and greetings, which Dean always returned, some pedestrians even moved past him and entered his bar. 

As Dean was sweeping, he spotted movement across the street out of the corner of his eye. The door to The Yellow Sparrow Bakery had just swung open and the most beautiful man Dean had ever seen walked outside. He had softly tousled black hair that stuck up in the front, giving him a bedhead sort of look, he had high cheekbones and a chiseled jaw, and he was dressed in blue dress pants, a white button down with a blue jacket, and a loose blue tie hung from his neck at a twisted angle.  

Dean tore his eyes away from the man, despite his want to continue staring, as the man took a sandwich from a paper bag and began to eat. 

Dean returned to sweeping and after five more minutes, deemed the sidewalk clean and headed back inside, trying to stop thoughts about the mysterious stranger across the street from plaguing his mind.

 The man must be a new to town, Dean would have remembered seeing him before. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Dean made a mental note to stop by the bakery at some point, he was due for a visit with Garth anyway, might as well find out about the mysterious new man and have a chat with an old friend at the same time.

Garth was a tall, gangly guy that Dean had befriended in high school. Sometimes Garth would visit Dean’s bar, sometimes Dean would head over to the bakery. Dean preferred meeting at the bakery, because if Garth got even one beer into him, Dean would have to pick the guy up off the floor and find him a strong pot of coffee; Dean also had a love for baked goods, especially pies, so he didn’t mind giving his friend some business. 

 

Dean placed the broom back in the closet and then went into the kitchen to check on Benny. Benny looked up as he walked in. “Sam here yet?” he asked. 

Dean shook his head and glanced at his watch, it was 11:45. “Not yet, give him another fifteen.” 

Benny nodded. “How long’s it been since you’ve seen him anyway?”

Dean frowned in thought. “Hmm, maybe a little over six months, too long.” 

Dean hadn’t seen Sam since the end of March for Easter, work and life in general had gotten in the way of the brothers spending time together, but Dean missed Sammy terribly, and he couldn’t wait to see him again. 

“I can’t believe he’s getting married,” Benny said as he put the top of a bun on a burger. 

“You’re telling me,” Dean huffed. “My kid brother is getting married before me, that’s not supposed to happen.” 

Benny let out a short laugh and handed the plate that held the burger off to Jo. “Well I think that’s your own fault, you had someone once and you let her go.” 

Dean scoffed at his best friend. “If you’re talking about Lisa-”

“Of course I’m talking about Lisa, come on brother, you loved her, a blind man could have seen that, and you let her go.” 

“Benny, I let her go so I could fight in a war,” Dean said. 

“You could have had her back,” Benny argued. 

Dean shook his head. “Nah, she deserved better than me. The war screwed with me, man, she didn’t ask to have my broken ass dropped in her lap. No, it was better that we split up.” 

“Sure that’s what you thought, but what about her?” Benny asked. 

Dean shot Benny a sharp look, telling him to stop pushing. “Lisa’s in the past, okay?” 

Benny shrugged. “Okay.” 

Without another word, Dean left the kitchen and took up his job behind the bar again. Ash was halfway through another beer and he tipped his bottle towards Dean in greeting, Dean nodded in return and then pulled his rag from his jeans and wiped up the counter from where a customer had just left. 

Dean was just pocketing his rag again when the bell above the door chimed and Dean looked up to see the tall, broad-shouldered, long haired, form of his little brother. Dean spread his arms wide and grinned as Sam paused in front of the bar counter. “Sammy!” 

Sam smiled as he shook his head at Dean’s boisterous greeting. “Hi Dean.” 

Dean moved out from behind the counter and pulled Sam into a tight hug. He held onto Sam for a bit longer than he probably should have, but Sam held him right back, and once Dean pulled away he stepped back and looked at his brother. 

“How’ve you been, Sammy?” 

“Dean, for the last time, Sammy is a chubby twelve year old, it’s Sam .” 

“Yeah okay, sorry Sammy,” Dean said with a laugh.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Really?” 

Dean smirked. “Come on, I’ve been calling you Sammy your entire life, I’m not stopping now.” 

“You know, I thought maybe you’d have changed since the last time I saw you, but you’re still absolutely insufferable,” Sam said with a grin. 

“Shut up,” Dean retorted, although he himself was smiling. 

“Can I seat you two, or are you going to stand there all afternoon?” Jo asked from behind Dean. 

“Yeah alright, lead away,” Dean said. 

Jo brought them to the table by the window and then set a menu down in front of Sam and went to do the same to Dean but he waved her away. “I own this joint, I think I’d know my own menu.” 

“Well then, can I get you anything to drink?” 

“Water’s fine for me, thanks,” Sam replied. 

“I’ll have a water too I suppose,” Dean answered, he shouldn’t drink on the job. 

Jo left with Dean’s unclaimed menu and their drink orders and then Dean stared at Sam, who was scanning the menu. “Well?” 

Sam looked up, eyebrows raised. “What?” 

“You never answered me, how’ve you been?” Dean asked. 

Sam put the menu down with a soft smile. “I’ve been good Dean, really good.” 

“Yeah? And Jess, she’s good too?” 

“Jess is wonderful,” Sam replied. 

“I’m glad to hear it.” 

“What about you?” Sam asked. “Are you still-”

“I’m fine Sammy,” Dean interrupted. 

Sam looked slightly taken-aback at Dean’s abruptness, but he nodded. “If you say so.” 

Dean knew Sam didn’t believe a word of what Dean had said, but Dean didn’t want to talk about his nightmares that weren’t going to go away, or the lack of a significant other in his life, Dean was fine, he had his bar, he was happy. 

“So, see anything you like?” Dean asked, gesturing towards the menu. 

“I think I’m going to go with the green salad,” Sam replied. 

Dean snorted. “Of course you are.” 

“What?” Sam exclaimed. “You should try and eat healthy once and awhile, it’d do you good.”

“I’m not going to pollute my body with rabbit food,” Dean retorted. “No way man, you have fun with that, I’ll stick to the burgers.” 

“You’ll give yourself a heart attack one of these days,” Sam said with a shake of his head. 

“If burgers are what kills me, then I win,” Dean replied. 

Jo came back to take their orders, Dean ordering one of Benny’s famous burgers and Sam ordering his salad. 

“Thanks sweetheart,” Dean said with a grin as he handed Jo Sam’s menu. Jo blushed slightly before turning away to go place their orders. 

“She still got the hots for you?” Sam asked.

Dean stared at Sam, exasperated. “Who doesn’t have the hots for this ?” he joked. 

That earned Dean a hard stare from Sam. “You really haven’t changed.” 

“You have.” Dean pointed an accusatory finger at Sam and said, “I swear you’ve grown three inches since the last time I saw you.”

Sam barked out a laugh and ran a hand through his long hair. “I missed you, Dean.” 

Dean leaned back in his chair, a loopy grin on his face. “I missed you too, Sammy.” 

“Am I interrupting something?” Jo asked as she arrived with their food. Benny must have already had Dean’s order set out and then quickly tossed Sam’s salad together. 

“Nothing at all,” Dean replied. 

Jo put their plates down in front of them, wished them a good meal, and then went over to wait on two new customers who had walked through the door. The brothers dug into their food, Dean with a huge bite to his burger and Sam with a small forkful of salad. 

“Mm,” Dean hummed as he chewed. “Benny always out does himself with these burgers.” 

“That good huh?” Sam asked as he stabbed a piece of lettuce. 

“Wishing you got the burger now, aren’t you?” Dean taunted as he picked up a fry and dipped it in ketchup. 

“Not in the slightest,” Sam replied. “Benny’s salads are also very well done.” 

 

Dean was about halfway done with his burger when Sam’s fork clanked against his plate as he dropped it. Dean looked up at Sam and saw that his brother was staring at his salad with a fixed gaze. 

“Everything alright?” Dean asked slowly. 

Sam’s eyes traveled up to Dean’s and he pushed his plate aside and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table.  “Look, Dean, I didn’t want to meet up just to have lunch.”

Dean put down his burger and nodded. “Okay… what’s on your mind Sam?” 

Sam’s eyes flicked back down to his salad and he sighed. “I don’t know why this is so hard to get out.” 

“Take your time,” Dean said calmly, despite the rapid beating of his heart in his chest. 

Sam drew in a long breath of air and then he met Dean’s eyes again. “Okay, here it goes. I wanted to ask you if you’d do me the honor of being my best man?” 

Dean stared blankly at Sam, his mouth hanging slightly ajar. 

He recovered quickly, a laugh bubbling on his lips, as he tried to hide the tears that had begun to build up in his throat at Sam’s offer. “Of course, Sammy, of course I’d love to be your best man, it would be my pleasure.” Sam’s shoulders sagged in relief and Dean marveled at the movement, at how Sam had feared that Dean might have rejected him. 

“You really want to though?” Sam asked, as if he still didn’t believe Dean. 

“Are you kidding me?” Dean replied. “Sammy, you’re getting married , that’s one of the biggest milestones in your life, to be a part of it, let alone to be your best man… how can I refuse?” 

“Thanks Dean,” Sam said, a childish grin on his face.

Dean picked up his burger again and Sam reached for his fork. Dean paused before he took a bite. “Did you seriously consider the thought that I was going to say no?” 

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. I wasn’t sure what you’d say.” 

Dean shook his head as he sank his teeth into his burger. “Bitch,” he mumbled over his food. 

A smirk twitched at the corner of Sam’s mouth. “Jerk.” 

“So, are you staying with Jess’ family, or do you need a place to crash?” Dean asked. 

“Yeah I’m staying with Jess’ parents, but thanks for the offer,” Sam replied. 

Dean shrugged as he picked up a french fry. “My couch is always open to you.” 

“Thanks,” Sam said. 

 

Dean was just swiping his plate clean of the last drop of ketchup with his final fry, when something clattered to the ground with a crash. Dean looked up sharply, his eyes searching for the source of the sound, his eyes found Jo. 

Jo was standing at the table of an older man with graying hair and a shadow of a beard. The man’s right hand was clamped around Jo’s forearm and Jo was struggling against him. “Let me go!” 

“Aw come on babe, you don’t belong in this place, come back home with me and I’ll show you where you really belong.” 

Dean was on his feet in an instant, Sam too, anger hardening Dean’s features. “Hey!” Dean shouted. “Let the lady go.” 

The man turned his eyes to Dean, an ugly smirk reaching across his face. “What’re you going to do about it pretty boy?” 

“Throw you out of my bar for starters,” Dean snapped back. 

The man faltered slightly but didn’t let go of Jo. “What’s a catch like her doing working in a bar anyhow? She should be doing laundry and making someone dinner somewhere.” 

“Are you blitzed, or are you just cruisin’ for a bruisin’, because I’m telling you, if you don’t let go of her right now the asphalt outside of my bar isn’t the only thing you’ll be seeing coming towards your face.” 

The man’s grip slowly fell from Jo’s arm and she backed away from the table, her shoes crunching over broken glass as she did so. Sam pulled her into his arms and then herded her towards the kitchen, whispering softly in her ear. Dean’s eyes hadn’t left the man and now that Jo was out of harm's way he took a threatening step towards him. “Get up,” Dean said sharply. The man didn’t move. “Come on, get!” Dean growled.  

Slowly, the man rose to his feet and Dean reached out and gripped the front of his leather jacket, ‘helping’ him the rest of the way up. Dean dragged the man roughly towards the front door, pushed it open, and then threw the man forwards onto the ground, where he landed with a gasp. 

“I had better never see your face in my bar again,” Dean hissed. 

The man glared up at Dean, stood up, brushed off his pants and then said, “You should be putting that girl to better use.”

Dean resisted the urge to punch the man in the face, instead he stuck out his chin and glowered, “she’s plenty useful. Now get out of here before I call the cops.” 

The man turned and walked away, and Dean pushed his way back into his bar. The few customers that had been watching the exchange between Dean and the man dutifully returned to their meals and drinks as Dean’s angry gaze drifted over them. Gadreel was sweeping up the broken glass from the man’s finished meal that Jo had been clearing up, and he offered Dean a grim smile. 

Dean nodded to Gadreel and then headed into the kitchen, where Jo was sitting on a stool holding an ice pack to her arm while her mother soothed her. Sam was standing off to the side of the room, his arms crossed. Dean went straight to Jo. 

“Are you alright?” he asked. 

Jo nodded bleakly. “I’m just a bit shaken up, but I’m okay.” 

“You’re sure?” 

Jo met Dean’s anxious gaze. “I’m fine.” 

Dean nodded and then turned to Ellen. “You and Jo can go home for the day-”

“No, I’m really okay,” Jo interrupted. 

Dean fixed her with a harsh stare. “I’m sending you home and that’s that. I’m planning to close early anyway, you won’t be missing much.” 

Jo didn’t look happy, but she didn’t argue. Ellen shot Dean a silent thank you through the movement of her lips and Dean nodded at her stiffly before turning to Sam. 

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Dean said. 

“It’s okay,” Sam replied. He glanced at his watch and then back to Dean. “I should really be going, Jess won’t want to be alone with her parents for much longer.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay. Come visit again soon.” 

Sam smiled. “I will.” 

Dean pulled his little brother into a stiff hug and then led Sam towards the door. Sam waved at Dean as he headed towards his car and Dean waved back. It had been good to see Sam again, and to see him happy was even better. 

****

Dean closed the bar at 5:30 P.M. sharp, sending Benny off with a smile and a clap to the back. “See you tomorrow chief,” Benny said. 

“See you,” Dean replied. 

Dean locked the back door after Benny and then headed towards the front door. He made sure the sign in the window said CLOSED, before he let himself out of the bar. Dean turned and locked the door, pocketed his keys, and then headed across the street to The Yellow Sparrow Bakery. 

Dean pushed open the door and his entrance was announced by a soft chime. It had been months since Dean had been in the bakery, but it hadn’t changed one bit. The soothing yellow walls still welcomed him and the wonderful smell of baking goods made Dean’s mouth water. 

As Dean walked towards the register, the cashier looked up, and he smiled broadly. “Dean!” 

“Hey Garth,” Dean replied, throwing his friend a smile. 

Garth moved out from behind the cash register and spread his arms wide for a hug. “How’ve you been hombre!?” 

Dean let Garth hug him as he replied. “I’ve been great, you?” 

“I’m fantastic!” Garth replied. 

“That’s good to hear.” 

Garth took up his position behind the register again and gave Dean a questioning look. “So, what’ll it be?” 

Dean hummed to himself and let his eyes move over the pastries that we lined up in the glass cases in front of him. “I suppose I’ll take a blueberry pie off your hands,” Dean replied. 

“One blueberry pie, got it,” Garth said. “You know, I think we actually have a fresh one on the way, if you want to wait say another ten minutes?” 

Dean wasn’t going to say no to a warm pie so he shrugged. “Yeah, sure.” 

Garth quickly checked behind him and then leaned forward across the counter, his voice a whisper. “We’ve got this new baker and he’s amazing,” Garth said. “I don’t know how he does it, he’s using the same recipes our old baker used and somehow, the guy manages to make it taste ten times better. His pies are the best, and I wanted you to get a fresh one just so you can get the full experience.” 

Dean laughed. “Thanks for your consideration.” 

“Just wanted to do an old friend a solid,” Garth said. 

Dean had a hidden suspicion that this new baker was the man that he had seen across the street earlier that day, but he wanted to make sure, he had to make sure. “Well, if you hold him in such high esteem, am I allowed to meet this amazing new baker?” 

“Yeah, why not, I’ll go get him,” Garth replied. “I have a feeling after you’ve had one of his pies, you’re going to become a regular customer.” 

Garth disappeared into the kitchen, and Dean was left waiting with his heart in his throat. When Garth came back a few seconds later a black haired man was following him; a white apron was slung around his neck and he had a smudge of flour smeared across his nose. Dean couldn’t help but think that the man was even more beautiful up close - flour and all-, with his sharp jawline and the slow crawl of stubble as it fought to cover his face. And his eyes, God his eyes , Dean hadn’t been able to see them from a distance, but now, up close, Dean was struck by how mesmerizingly blue they were, like someone had mixed the sky and the ocean together. 

“Dean Winchester,” Garth said, gesturing a hand in Dean’s direction, “meet Castiel Novak.”  

Dean extended his hand towards the man, Castiel , what an interesting name, Dean liked it. Castiel took it and Dean took in the feeling of Castiel’s hand in his, the firm and softness of a first greeting. “Nice to meet you,” Dean said, one of his winning smiles spreading across his lips. 

“Nice to meet you too,” Castiel replied. 

Dean didn’t know what he expected the man to sound like, but the rough deep voice that came out of Castiel’s mouth was certainly not it. Dean hoped his surprise hadn’t shown on his face as he pulled his hand away. He rubbed the same hand over the back of his neck and cleared his throat. “So, I hear you make great pies.” 

Castiel shrugged. “I guess so, according to Garth at least.” 

“Well Garth isn’t known to lie,” Dean said. “I’ve known the guy since freshman year of high school, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him tell a false truth once.”

“You’re too kind,” Garth said with a laugh. 

At that moment, a timer in the kitchen went off and Castiel excused himself and rushed back into the adjacent room to take care of what was probably Dean’s pie.

 Sure enough, Castiel emerged a minute later with a box and handed it to Dean. 

“One blueberry pie,” he said. “Enjoy.” 

“Thanks Cas.” 

Shit. Shit. Shit.  Dean cursed at himself. You fucking idiot, you can’t just go giving nicknames to people you’ve just met.

While Cas looked surprised at Dean’s words, he didn’t call Dean out on it. “You’re welcome, Dean.” 

Dean’s name in Cas’ mouth made goosebumps ripple through his body. His eyes stayed glued to Cas’ for another moment, green taking in blue, before he took a step backwards. 

“Well I’ll see you around, Garth,” Dean said. 

“Come back soon,” Garth replied. 

“If Castiel’s pies are as good as you say, I’m sure I’ll be back,” Dean offered Cas a smile and said, “It was nice to meet you.” 

“You as well,” Cas replied. 

Dean paid Garth, and then left the bakery, pie in hand. He walked quickly across the street to the parking lot behind his bar, and once in his Cadillac, Dean set the boxed pie down and let out a long sigh. Dean knew, he just knew that Castiel Novak was going to be his undoing. 

Chapter Text

Castiel watched Dean Winchester leave the bakery, the man was the most gorgeous person Cas had ever laid eyes on, with stunningly beautiful green eyes, a spray of freckles across his nose, and a smile that could warm even the coldest of rooms. Cas was absolutely certain that Dean was the owner of the Cadillac, there was no mistaking those bow legs, and knowing that Dean lived only a short distance away from Cas made him smile. 

Cas turned away from the door and saw that Garth was staring at Dean, a knowing sort of look in his eyes. “What?” Cas asked, barely keeping his blush at bay. 

Garth shrugged. “Nothing amigo.” 

Cas squinted at Garth in disbelief for a second, before he headed back into the kitchen where Anael was busy mixing together cookie dough. 

“Who was that?” she asked. 

Cas picked up the slab of uncooked pie crust he had been kneading and focused on the feeling of the dough under his fingers as he replied. “Some guy named Dean.” 

“Winchester?” Anael asked, a small smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. 

“Uh, yeah, I think so,” Cas replied nonchalantly, but he didn’t think so, he knew so. 

Anael let out a sigh. “He’s so handsome. Owns the bar across the street too, they have such good burgers over there.” 

“Yeah?” Cas asked, trying not to sound too eager. 

“Yeah, you should definitely give them a try,” Anael replied as she started to roll together balls of dough. 

“Maybe I’ll check it out sometime,” Cas said. It would give him an excuse to see Dean again. 

“Mmm, you should.” 

 

Cas continued making his last pie of the day and Anael put the cookies in the oven. Garth poked his head into the kitchen and told them that he was going to be heading out for the night. Cas bade him goodbye and then he and Anael worked their way through a couple leftover cupcakes as they waited for their respective baked goods. 

“So,” Anael said as she unwrapped another cupcake, “what brought you to town?” 

Cas lowered his eyes and suddenly became very interested in the wrapper around his cupcake. “Just wanted a fresh start,” he replied. 

“I understand that, I was the same way.” 

“You were?” Cas could easily turn the conversation around on Anael and avoid talking about his tragic life. 

Anael sighed softly as she picked at her cupcake. “Yeah, I used to work in an office, answering calls, pushing buttons, and all that. But it wasn’t me, you know? I wanted to do what I Iiked, make my own decisions. So I came here.” 

“Well good for you,” Cas said, and he meant it. “Not many women can say they’ve been able to do what you have.” 

Anael hummed in agreement as she took another bite of her cupcake. “I don’t know how I got so lucky.” 

“I think It’s probably because you’re so driven,” Cas said. “You don’t take no for an answer.” 

Anael chortled slightly. “You’ve known me for, what, two days, and you’ve already picked up on that?” 

Cas shrugged. “It’s not hard to pick up on. Naomi’s the same way, I think that’s probably why she hired you.” 

“Naomi’s a character,” Anael said. “Do you know how she ended up with the bakery?” 

Cas shook his head. “No.”

“Well,” Anael began, setting down her half-eaten cupcake and adjusting her position on the table she was leaning against. “She fought for this bakery, tooth and nail. They were going to foreclose it after her father passed away, since she couldn’t pay for the property anymore. But my God, that woman, she never gave up. The bakery is everything to her and she couldn’t stand to lose it, so she started working, - I think it was seven jobs at the time, and she had some help from some family and friends too, if I’m not mistaken- she’d sew people’s clothing for a couple dollars, she’d paint fences, weed gardens, anything, you name it, and somehow, she got enough money to pay off the foreclosure. And when they asked who was going to run the place and she told them it would be her, you can guess how displeased they were, but they weren’t about to question it.” 

“Wow,” Cas said, he didn’t know what else to say. 

“Yeah, she's crazy,” Anael laughed, “but she’s good at her job and she won’t let anyone take it from her.” 

“I wouldn’t dream of trying to take it from her,” Cas replied. 

The timer went off for Anael’s cookies and she pulled them out of the oven and then set them to cool. The wonderful aroma of melted chocolate filled the kitchen and Cas shut his eyes to take it in, letting the smell filter through his nose. 

A moment later the timer for Cas’ pie beeped through the air and Cas pulled out the perfectly baked blueberry pie and set it beside Anael’s cookies to cool. 

“I think we did pretty well today,” Anael said as she placed her apron on a hook by the door of the kitchen. 

“I’d say so,” Cas replied as pulled his apron over his head. 

“I’m glad Dean finally came back to the bakery,” Anael said offhandedly. 

Cas felt his stomach lurch just at the mention of Dean’s name. “What do you mean, finally ?” Cas asked. 

“Well, he used to pop by once and a while right when we opened. I wouldn’t have called him a regular customer, but he was a familiar face every couple of weeks.” Anael replied. “But he stopped coming a few months ago, never knew why.” 

“Huh,” Cas huffed. Now Cas’ curiosity about Dean had piqued, there was so much he wanted to know. 

“Yeah, but looks like he might be starting it up again.” 

Cas didn’t know what to say back, so he opted to say nothing. Anael didn’t seem bothered by the end of the conversation, she was busy moving her cookies onto a plate to carry out to the display cases in the main room. Cas followed her with his pie and together they placed their masterpieces beside each other. 

“Well, I think that’s all for tonight,” Anael said. 

“Yeah, I think so,” Cas replied. 

“I can lock up if you want.” 

“Really?” Cas asked. He’d love to get an early start on his trek home via bicycle. 

“Yeah sure.” 

“That would be great, thanks,” Cas said with a smile. 

“No problem,” Anael replied. 

Cas gave Anael a hug before he left the bakery, heading for his bike. The evening was a cold one and when Cas walked outside, his breath was visible as if came out of his mouth in a white cloud. Cas pulled his coat tighter around him and then mounted his bike and set off. 

By the time Cas reached his apartment, his hands were numb and his cheeks were red from the cold. Cas brought his hands to his mouth and breathed hot air onto them to try and warm them up before reaching into his pocket for his keys. 

Cas couldn’t help looking over at the black Cadillac that was parked outside Dean’s apartment. The sleek car glinted in the moonlight and Cas found himself looking at the windows of the apartments, wondering which one was Dean’s. 

Shaking his head, and telling himself he was being ridiculous, Cas entered the apartment complex and then moved to his room, where he deposited his keys in the basket he kept by his door, and then collapsed on the couch, exhaustion sweeping over him. Maybe biking hadn’t been the greatest idea, he hadn’t thought about what he was going to do in the winter, and biking for an hour in the cold was not a pleasant experience. 

Cas should probably look into buying a cheap car, maybe he could get an older used model for a couple hundred dollars. Cas told himself he would check out a car dealership sometime in the next week, but for now he needed to make some dinner. 

Cas rummaged around in his cupboards for something canned that he could heat up. He found a nice can of vegetable soup and dumped its contents into a pot, turned on the stove, and waited for his soup to heat. 

The warmth that the soup provided to his shivering body was thoroughly welcomed and Cas savored it. He was halfway through his meal when his phone rang and Cas stood up to answer it. 

“Hello?”

“Hey bro!”

  Gabriel

“Gabe?” Cas’ mind immediately went through every reason that Gabe would call Cas and he could come up with nothing but bad news. “Has something happened? Are you okay?” 

Gabriel laughed, as if the question was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard. “Me? I’m fine bucko, I’m just checking up on you.” 

Cas rolled his eyes, even though Gabriel couldn’t see him. “Really? Why?” 

“Come on Cassie don’t be like that, you’ve been living in your new apartment for over a week now, I just wanted to make sure you’re doing okay.” 

“I’m fine,” Cas replied, a little sharper than he intended. 

“You sure?” Gabriel asked. 

Typical . Cas thought. Gabriel didn’t believe him and he was going to keep pressing until Cas told him more. “Gabe, I’m okay,” Cas said. 

“Mhmm,” Gabriel hummed, Cas could picture his disbelieving face. “Look baby bro, I just want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and that you’re eating. Are you eating? Do you drink enough water?” 

“Gabe,” Cas cut in, annoyance making his tone sharp. “I’m sleeping as much as I can, I’m eating, I drink water, I brush my teeth, I get exercise, I’m fine .” Yes Cas had still nightmares, he always had nightmares, not a night had gone by without him waking up in cold sweat, but he wasn’t about to tell Gabe that. 

Gabriel was silent for a moment on the other end of the phone. “I just worry about you Cas, that’s all.” 

Cas could hear the sincerity in his voice, and his anger started to fade. “You don’t have to worry.” 

“I can’t help it,” Gabriel replied, “I’m your big brother, I’ll always worry about you.” 

“Thanks Gabe,” Cas said quietly.  “How are you doing?”

Gabriel huffed out a sigh. “Honestly, I’ve been better. I’m just trying to keep living, Cas.” 

“Yeah, me too,” Cas replied. 

“Well, I’d better go, I just wanted to check up on you.” 

“Yeah, I have some soup to finish,” Cas said. 

“Shit man, did I interrupt your dinner?” Gabriel asked. 

“It’s okay,” Cas replied. He said goodbye to Gabriel before his brother could go any further into an apology, placed the receiver back in its cradle, and then moved back to the table where his cooling soup was sitting. 

****

“Good afternoon, Castiel!” Hannah called as she entered the kitchen, this morning Garth and Cas had opened and now Hannah was showing up to take over for Garth.

“Good afternoon, Hannah,” Castiel replied as he mixed together cake batter with a wooden spoon. 

“I just wanted to let you know that I’m here and that Garth’s already left,” Hannah said. 

“Okay,” Cas replied. 

It was just him and Hannah now, Anael hadn’t come into work today, she’d had some family emergency, and Garth was leaving to go on a fishing trip for the weekend with a few of his buddies. Naomi had shown up in the early morning and helped Cas with some of the baked goods, but she’d left again around eleven. 

Now, it was a little after noon and Cas was about to go on his lunch break, Hannah could handle the register until he was back and there were more than enough pastries to satisfy their customers. 

Cas picked up his paper bag with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and headed out the door. As he sat down with his lunch, a family of four walked into the bakery, a little girl clinging to her father’s hand and a little boy to his mother’s. Cas smiled as he took a bite of his sandwich and let his eyes travel across the street to The Winchester Tavern. 

The bar looked welcoming, with the OPEN sign hanging loosely in the window, whose glass was neatly polished. Cas could see the outline of customers through the windows and he saw a father and son laughing together as they ate their meals, and Cas decided then and there that he wasn’t going to go home for dinner, but that instead, he was going to eat at Dean’s bar. 

When Cas returned from his lunch break, Hannah was busy helping a customer and so Cas slipped back into the kitchen without a word. After a few minutes, Hannah came into the kitchen, a piece of paper in her hand. 

“I have a to-go order,” she said, handing him the paper. 

Cas looked it over: 

Two dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, a cherry pie, and a dozen chocolate chip cookies. 

It was quite an order, but they had everything in the order already made, so Cas placed everything in to-go boxes and then he handed them off to Hannah. 

 

The day dragged on, customers piled in, orders were given, Castiel baked and baked and baked, until finally, Hannah told Cas it was 6 o’clock and it was time to close up. 

Cas cleaned the kitchen and then helped Hannah sweep the floor of the main room before they both headed out the door, Hannah locking it behind them. She bade Castiel goodnight and then Cas was left standing outside the bakery, his eyes fixed on the light that illuminated The Winchester Tavern. Cas took a deep breath, and then crossed the street. 

The bell above the door rang and Cas almost flinched at the sound, almost . Cas’ eyes found Dean instantly, the tall handsome man was smiling behind the bar counter, talking animatedly to a man with what appeared to be a mullet. Dean instantly looked up when the door shut and their eyes locked for a moment, and Cas felt a shiver run through him. 

Cas had to tear his eyes from Dean’s as a man in his late twenties came towards him. “Hi there,” he said with a smile. “Table for one?” he asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Right this way.” Cas followed the man to a table and a menu was set down in front of him. “I’m Gadreel and I’ll be your server this evening, can I start you off with something to drink?”

“Uh, yeah,” Cas tried very hard not to look at Dean out of the corner of his eye. “I’ll just have some water.” 

“You bet,” Gadreel replied, and then he was gone. 

Cas forced himself to look at the menu. There was a limited selection but Cas was really craving a burger, so he decided to go with the bacon cheeseburger. He told Gadreel as much when the man returned to get his order and then all that was left was for Cas to wait for his meal. 

He sipped his water slowly, letting his eyes travel around the bar, out the window at the slowly darkening street, at the napkin dispenser, at his water, at anything but Dean. Cas was busy fiddling with the straw in his cup when someone spoke beside him. 

“Hey, uh, Castiel, right?” 

Dean . It was Dean. Cas pulled his eyes from his straw and let them meet Dean’s green gaze. Cas took Dean in. His plain black t-shirt that fit tightly to his chest, the muscles that took up most of his arms, his rag haphazardly thrown over his shoulder, the way his hair was spiked up in the front, the apron that was folded in half and wrapped around his waist, his worn jeans- Cas took it all in. 

“Yeah,” Cas replied, a smile coming to fruition on his face. “And you’re Dean.” 

Dean spread his arms wide and grinned. “The one and the only.” Dean pulled his rag from his shoulder and fiddled with it for a moment. “So, uh, what brings you to The Winchester Tavern?” 

Cas canted his head at Dean and looked at him through narrow eyes.  “Uh, hunger?” 

Dean laughed, it was short yet rough but Cas loved it. “You’re funny, Cas.” 

Cas felt his heart beat increase in his chest at Dean’s compliment, and how easily Dean had seemed to slip into using his nickname. “Really? I’ve been told I lack a certain sense of humor.” 

Dean couldn’t say any more because Gadreel arrived with his burger and Dean gestured towards it. “Enjoy your meal.” 

“I’m sure I will,” Cas replied. 

Dean hesitated for a second, caught between going back behind his bar and saying something. Dean decided to say something. “Your, uh, your pie was really good... just thought I should tell you.” 

Cas grinned. “Thank you, Dean.” 

“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Dean said awkwardly as he ran a hand over the back of his head before he took a step backwards and headed back behind his bar. 

Cas turned his eyes to the burger that was sitting in front of him, picked it up, and took a bite. Cas shut his eyes as the flavors washed over him, a little bit of meat, a little bit of cheese, a little bit of lettuce, a little bit of tomato, a little bit of bacon, a little bit of the crisp toasted bun that encompassed the burger, and there was some kind of creamy sauce that really tipped Cas over the edge; this was the most delicious burger he had ever tasted. 

Cas forced himself to eat slowly and not inhale the whole thing in three bites. He took his time, slowly bringing french fries to his mouth, savoring every last bite of his burger, drinking his water at a snail's pace. Cas was a little over halfway through his meal when, once again, Dean’s voice came towards Cas. 

“How is everything?” he asked. Cas could have been imagining it, but Dean sounded a little nervous. 

“Amazing, incredible, wonderful,” Cas replied.

Dean grinned. “I’m glad.” 

Dean left Cas to his meal and began wiping down the bar counter. Cas couldn’t help but watch; Dean’s arms moving smoothly over the counter, the way his muscles twitched as he pressed the rag into the counter, the set in his jaw as he concentrated. Dean’s eyes moved up and caught ahold of Cas’ for a moment, before Cas felt a blush rising on his cheeks and turned his attention back to his meal. 

By the time Cas finished it was dark, and Cas dreaded the thought of biking home in the cold without a light, so he made a quick decision to call a cab instead of trying to bike. Cas had paid Gadreel, told Dean he’d definitely be back, to which Dean had grinned like a school-boy and said he’d hold Cas to it. 

Cas was now standing on the curb, his disassembled bike beside him as he waited for his cab. It arrived within five minutes, the cab driver helped Cas put his bike in the trunk, and then they were off. 

Throughout the ride back to his apartment, Cas couldn’t stop thinking about Dean; Dean’s smile, Dean’s hair, Dean’s playful ease, Dean’s eyes, Dean’s laugh. Cas hoped he hadn’t been imagining the looks Dean had been shooting him from across the room, Cas had felt Dean’s eyes on him more than once while he’d been eating. 

When Cas arrived home, he paid the cab driver and then propped his bike at up against the wall, and headed inside. Cas couldn’t stop smiling as he sat down on his couch and picked up his book. Cas read until he heard the, now familiar, engine of Dean’s Cadillac pulling into the spot outside his apartment, and then he headed off to bed. 

****

Cas woke up with a strangled cry, his sister’s name on his lips as he gripped his sheets tight in panic. Anna. Anna was gone, Anna was dead. Cas forced himself to take deep breaths, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop his racing heart. 

Throwing the sheets off of his legs, he put on some shoes and headed outside to go for a walk, knowing it would help clear his mind. 

The walk did the trick, and Cas soon felt better, but the pit he felt in his stomach where his sister used to belong was still there. Cas decided that he would head to work early, bike slowly, and maybe go for another walk around the block the bakery was on before work. So that’s what he did. 

 

Cas was just beginning to gather ingredients for his latest baking endeavor, having just opened the bakery with Hannah, when the bell above the door went off and Cas heard Hannah yell “Dean!” in excitement. 

Dean. Dean was back? Already? And in the morning? 

“Hey Hannah, anything good cookin’?” Dean asked. 

“Cas hasn’t made our newest batch yet, but I’m sure he’s starting to,” Hannah replied. 

“That’s okay,” Dean said, although Cas could’ve sworn that Dean sounded slightly disappointed. “I’ll just have something from yesterday.” 

“Sure thing,” Hannah said. “What’ll it be?”

“How about… some blueberry muffins?” Dean asked. 

“We’ve got those, how many do you want?” 

“Let’s say two,” Dean replied. 

“Two it is.” 

Cas heard Hannah ringing Dean up, and he half wanted to go out and see Dean, but he forced himself to stay in the kitchen. Cas listened to the door open as Dean left and then he went back to filling a bowl with ingredients, wondering why Dean Winchester had decided to come back to the bakery so quickly.

Chapter Text

Dean couldn’t hide the fact that he was a little disappointed that he hadn’t seen Cas, but he tucked the box containing his blueberry muffins under his arm and headed over to his bar to open up. Dean did his usual sweep of the place and then sat down at one of the tables and began to eat his muffins. 

They were good. Amazingly good. Dean licked every last crumb from the box before he deemed it empty and threw it out. Now, he moved around his bar, preparing for the day while he waited for Benny to arrive. 

 

The day went by slowly, Ash and Asmodeus came and went along with other customers. Dean waited on people, wiped down his counter, poured drinks, and made casual conversation. 

 

It was nearing six o’clock when the door of his bar opened with a ring and Dean felt something that resembled shock and happiness fill him as his eyes focused on Castiel. The man looked nervous, but his steps were confident as he moved towards the bar and slid onto a stool. 

Dean swallowed his shock and met Cas’ blue eyes. “Heya Cas,” he said, a smile easily melting onto his face.

“Hello Dean,” Cas replied with a soft smile of his own. 

“What can I get you?” Dean asked, his hands already reaching under the counter for a glass. 

“Whiskey,” Cas replied. 

“Sure thing.” 

Dean poured Cas’ drink and then set it down in front of him and watched the man pick up the glass with slightly shaking hands. Dean’s eyes followed the glass up to Cas’ lips with curiosity, he’d seen that look before, he saw it every morning in the mirror, it was the look of someone who’d seen things he wished he hadn’t; the look of a soldier. 

Dean set his rag down on the counter and moved it slowly in front of him before asking quietly, “How long did you serve?” 

Castiel’s eyes snapped up from where he’d been staring at the liquid in his glass, and met Dean’s. “What?” 

“You heard me,” Dean replied evenly. 

Cas cleared his throat and then took another shaky gulp of liquor. “Two years,” he replied quietly. 

How Dean hadn’t picked up on Cas being a soldier before, Dean would never know, but what he did know, was that he now shared something in common with Castiel and he wasn’t about to let that go to waste. 

“Well you’ve got a year on me then,” Dean said with a nervous laugh. 

“You fought in the war too?” Cas asked in surprise. 

“Yeah, yeah I did,” Dean replied, “volunteered actually.” 

Cas’ eyes tilted back down to his whiskey. “I was drafted,” he muttered, almost too quiet for Dean to hear. 

Dean winced. Shit. Why did he have to bring up the war? If Cas was drafted he wasn’t going to want to talk about it. Dean could have picked literally any other topic to talk about, but he had to choose the war. 

“I’m sorry,” Dean said, it was the only thing he could think of to day. 

Cas shook his head, another sip of whiskey passing his lips. “It’s okay.” 

Dean cleared his throat and gestured towards Cas’ glass. “Want another?” 

Cas slid his glass across the counter. “Please.” 

Dean focused on pouring the whiskey, trying hard not to meet Cas’ eyes. When he pushed the glass back towards Cas, he didn’t pick it up right away. Dean moved a short distance away and began tidying the glasses under the counter. Dean felt like he had to make up for his awkward attempt at conversation, but he couldn’t find the right words to say. 

Luckily, he was spared from further embarrassment when Meg walked in the door. “Hey Dean,” she said as she plopped down on a stool. 

“Evening Meg,” Dean replied. 

Meg’s eyes moved to focus on Castiel and she smiled. “And who are you? I haven’t seen you in here before.”

Cas offered Meg a weak smile and Dean saw his hands tighten around his glass. “Castiel.” 

Meg crooked an eyebrow at him. “Castiel?” Dean didn’t miss the slight blush of embarrassment that was crawling up Cas’ neck and Dean was ready to call Meg out for making fun of him, but Meg was looking at Cas with a soft expression, not a mean one. “I like it,” she said after a minute. “It sounds angelic.” 

“Thank you,” Cas replied shyly. 

Meg smiled and then turned to Dean. “Alright, I want the usual.” 

“Way ahead of you,” Dean replied as he placed a freshly opened beer in front of her. 

Meg raised the beer in the air in Castiel’s direction, flashed Dean a big grin, and then took a long swig. Dean bit back a smile, Meg was the most unladylike person Dean had ever met, but it made her all the more lovable.

Dean left Meg to her beer and moved back over to Cas. Cas had already finished his newest glass of whiskey so Dean offered another refill and Cas graciously accepted. 

Meg spun in her chair and faced Cas, one arm propped up on the counter, clutching her beer, the other hanging loosely in front of her. “So, what are you drinking to forget?” 

Dean shot Meg a warning glance as Cas flinched slightly, his shoulders bunching up around him as he hunched over his drink. Dean didn’t expect Cas to answer, but he did. 

“Lots of things.” 

“I’ll drink to that,” Meg said with a laugh. 

The bell chimed above the door and Crowley entered the bar and took his seat beside Meg. Dean quickly made Crowley a pink squirrel and then headed back over to Cas. 

“Don’t let Meg bother you,” he said in a low voice, “she means well.”

Cas nodded, his gaze still fixed on his emptying glass. “I’m sure she does.” 

Dean fidgeted with his rag again, it was a nervous habit that he couldn’t seem to break. “Look man, I know we’ve just met and all, but…” Cas’ eyes had jerked up to Dean’s and Dean cleared his throat, trying not to forget what he was going to say while his eyes were filled with blue. “Um, if you ever wanted to talk, about, you know, it ... I’m uh, I’m here.”

Castiel nodded and a small smile split across his face as he returned his blue gaze to his drink. “Thanks, Dean.” 

“Uh, yeah, sure, no problem,” Dean replied. Dean hadn’t noticed that he’d been wringing his rag into knots and so it took him a second to unravel it before he moved back to Meg. 

“I’ll take another when you’ve got the time,” Meg said. 

Dean cracked open another bottle and set it down in front of her and then decided to begin cleaning up the rest of the bar while his customers had their drinks. Dean took his time, sweeping under tables, cleaning glasses, while also checking on Cas out of the corner of his eye. 

Meg and Crowley left at some point while Dean was filling a napkin dispenser, and then it was just Dean and Cas, the night slowly creeping further up on them. 

 

When Dean returned behind the counter, Cas’ glass was again dry and Dean filled it for what he was pretty sure was the sixth or seventh time. Dean placed the whiskey bottle under the counter and pulled his rag off of his shoulder and then was about to try and start up a conversation with him when Dean noticed that Cas’ shoulders were shaking. 

“Cas?” Dean asked, “you alright?” 

Cas sniffed and brought a hand up to his eyes where he wiped away what Dean could only assume were tears. “I just…” Cas said shakily, another sob wracking his throat. “I miss her so much.” 

Her? Her? Of course this is about a woman, Dean, dammit. Of course Cas is a straight male just like the rest of the normal population. How could he have been such an idiot? Did he really think he’d have a chance with someone like Cas? Who was he kidding? Cas wasn’t here to drink away his problems from the war, he’d probably learned to cope with the memories just like Dean had for fourteen years. This wasn’t about the damn war, it was about a fucking woman. 

Dean tried to tone down his growing disappointment and instead offer Cas the comfort he was so desperately seeking. “It’s okay,” Dean said, “there are other fish in the sea, as they say.” 

Cas’ glazed eyes narrowed in a confused little squint. 

God it was so adorable.

  “You think…?” Cas shook his head. “No, no it wasn’t…she was my sister, she died.” 

His sister. Good going Dean, his fucking sister died and you thought he was pining after some ex girlfriend. Smart, real classy of you, way to fucking go. 

“I’m sorry,” Dean said. 

“‘S okay,” Cas slurred, “you didn’t know.” 

“Still man, I didn’t mean to… I just thought…” 

“Dean,” Cas interrupted, again bringing his blue eyes up to lock onto Dean’s green ones. Cas swallowed hard, his mind clearly working to try and figure out how to push down the alcohol in his system and form full words. “It’s okay.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” 

The minute the words left his mouth Dean wanted to hit himself over the head with a bottle. He doesn’t want to talk about it, Dean. He’s drinking to forget it, why would you think he wants to talk about it? 

Cas slowly shook his head and Dean again cursed himself for trying to offer his ears to a man he hardly knew. “I think I should go,” Cas said. 

Great, you’ve made him uncomfortable and now he wants to leave. You’re so smooth, Dean. 

“Cas, you don’t have to,” Dean said, trying to at least regain some of his usual suave. 

“No I should… ‘s gettin’ late,” Cas slurred. He tried to stand up but his legs seemed to fail him and he fell to the floor with a crash, knocking over his stool as he went. 

“Cas!” Dean shouted in concern. He quickly hurtled the counter and landed on the other side beside the limp form of Castiel. Dean reached out and shook Cas by the shoulder, which earned a groan from Cas. “Are you alright?” Dean asked, worry pounding against his ribcage.

“Been better,” Cas replied. 

“Come on, let’s get you standing,” Dean said as he hooked a hand under Cas’ arm and helped haul him to his feet. 

Cas swayed where he stood and leaned heavily into Dean’s arms. Cas blinked up at Dean, his blue eyes looked so innocent in the haze of his drunkenness. “Thank you,” Cas muttered, holding Dean’s gaze for longer than he probably intended.

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied. Cas tried to walk away from Dean towards the door but he stumbled again and Dean quickly reached out to steady him before he could hit the floor. “Alright buddy, there’s no way you’re driving home like this-” 

“I don’t drive, I biked,” Cas said. Then he narrowed his eyes and screwed up his face in thought. “I don’t know where I put my bike.” 

Dean shook his head. “No, I can drive you, I’m about to close for the night anyway.” 

“I can call a cab,” Cas mumbled.  

“It’s no trouble Cas, really.” Dean moved Cas back to the bar counter and placed him on the stool that was beside the one that had been knocked over. Dean bent and picked up the fallen four legged stool and then set it back under the counter. “Stay here while I do one final sweep of the bar.” 

Cas didn’t object, so Dean quickly went through his nightly routine, and then, deeming the bar safe, he made his way back to Cas, who was now slumped over the bar counter. 

“Cas,” Dean said, gently shaking him. 

“Huh?” Cas groaned. 

“I’m going to bring you home, but you’ve got to tell me where you live,” Dean said. 

“Uh,” Cas tilted his eyes up as if in thought and then his gaze brightened. “Apartment complex, ten miles away,” he said. “You live there too.”

“Okay, let’s - what?” He actually lived in the same apartment complex as Cas and he hadn’t known? And the guy was biking ten miles everyday just to get to work!? 

Cas grinned at Dean sloppily. “I noticed your car the other day.”

“Shit Cas, why didn’t you say anything?” Dean asked as he brought Cas to his feet. 

Cas shrugged. “I don’t know.” 

Dean helped Cas towards the door and then propped him up against the wall while he locked the back door. “Alright, let’s go.” 

With one arm around Cas, Dean led the blue-eyed man towards his Cadillac and then helped him into the front seat before opening his own door. When Dean slumped into the driver's seat and glanced over at Cas, he was staring at the interior of the car with wide eyes. “Wow.” 

Dean grinned. “She’s pretty sweet, right?” 

“She’s beautiful,” Cas whispered. 

Dean turned the key in the ignition and the rumble of the V8 under the hood made Cas smile. “Wow,” he said again.

 

Dean made sure to drive slowly, so as not to upset Cas’ stomach, the last thing he wanted was to be cleaning throw up out of his seats. They made it to the apartment complex without incident and Cas was starting to doze. 

“Cas,” Dean said in a whisper. Cas grunted but didn’t answer. “Cas,” Dean said a little louder, “which apartment is yours?” Again Cas didn’t answer and Dean sighed. 

Screw it.

Dean pulled into his parking space outside his apartment and then got out of the car and opened Cas’ door. “Come on,” Dean said gently as he helped Cas move from the car. Dean helped Cas into the apartment complex and then up the few flights of stairs that led to his apartment room. 

Dean deposited a disorientated Cas on his couch and then moved to the kitchen to make him some coffee. 

Cas did not stay on the couch, instead he wandered over to where Dean was leaning against the kitchen counter waiting for the coffee to brew. “Is this your apartment?” 

Dean gave a short laugh. “Yeah Cas, it is.” 

“It’s nice,” Cas said with a smile. 

“Thank you.” 

Cas picked up a cup that Dean had left there in his haste this morning. Cas examined it as he asked, “Have you lived here long?”  

“Yeah, six years,” Dean replied. 

Cas put the mug down and turned his innocent, drunken, blue gaze to Dean. “Really?” 

“Yeah, Cas, really,” Dean chuckled. 

“I only just moved in,” Cas said, again moving his attention to something else on Dean’s table, a pen, and picking it up. “But I like it here.” 

The kettle behind Dean went off and Dean quickly switched off the stove and poured Cas a cup of coffee. “Here, you should drink this.” 

Cas took the mug from Dean without hesitation and brought it to his lips, humming softly as the warm liquid slipped down his throat. “Thank you.” 

“Yeah, no problem,” Dean replied as he poured himself his own mug. 

Cas moved from the kitchen back to Dean’s ‘sitting room’ and Dean watched Cas’ eyes travel over the old photos Dean had nailed to his walls or propped up on tables. Cas stopped by a photo of Dean and Sam when they were kids and picked it up. “Is this your brother?” 

“Yeah, that’s Sam.” 

“Does he ever visit?” 

“He came to see me just the other day,” Dean replied. “He’s engaged and asked me to be his best man.” Dean didn’t know why he was telling Cas this, it wasn’t like the guy was going to remember anything in the morning, he was pretty blitzed. 

“That’s nice,” Cas said. His face fell for a moment as he put the picture back and his hands wrapped tightly around his coffee mug. “Anna would have liked it here.” 

“Anna… was your sister?” Dean asked cautiously. 

Cas nodded, tears already pooling in his eyes. “Yeah. She got hit by a car.” 

Dean felt his stomach twist at the sight of Cas standing in his apartment, drunk and disheveled, crying over his lost sibling. Dean didn’t even want to think about what he would do if Sam died, he didn’t think he’d be able to live without his brother. 

Dean walked slowly towards Cas, setting his mug down on the table as he did so. “I’m sorry about your sister.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said in a murmur as a tear slipped from his chin. 

Dean put his arm around Cas’ shoulders and steered him towards the couch. “Yeah, no problem Cas. Now, why don’t you finish your coffee and then you can get some rest.” 

“Okay,” Cas replied. 

Dean set Cas down and then went back into the kitchen to clean up the coffee pot and wash his mug. Dean made quick work of the dishes and then went to retrieve Cas’ mug. Cas finished the last gulp of his coffee and then handed the mug off to Dean, who promptly washed it, before he went in search of a blanket Cas could use. 

Dean found an old tan blanket in the closet, deemed it good enough, and then handed it off to Cas. “Here,” Dean said, “so you won’t get cold.”

“Thank you.”

Dean watched as Cas snuggled up on the couch, his legs drawn up close to his chest and his blue eyes glassy with either alcohol or tiredness, probably both.

 “I’ll be in the next room if you need anything,” Dean said. 

“Okay,” Cas yawned.

“Sleep tight, Cas,” Dean muttered, more to himself than to the other man. 

 

Dean sat down on his bed with a sigh, pulling off his boots and letting them clatter to the floor. It had been a long day and Dean was ready for some sleep, even though he knew it would only be for a couple of hours. He tried not to think about Cas in the other room, curled up on his couch, a killer hangover brewing as he slept. Dean didn’t know why he felt so drawn to Cas, maybe it was the shared bond of being war veterans or maybe it was something completely different, Dean might never know. 

 Dean shook his head, trying hard not to think about Cas, and then pulled the covers over himself and let his head hit the pillow; he was asleep almost instantly.

 

Blood. Dean tasted blood. There was blood in his mouth and on his face and it took him a minute to realize that it wasn’t his. There’d been a gunshot, but Dean hadn’t been the target; the target had been the German boy that was now swaying in front of Dean, a hole in his chest and his mouth agape in shock. 

Dean’s eyes focused behind the boy to see Captain Bobby Singer, gun raised, face set in stone. Captain Singer gave Dean a curt nod and then disappeared into the fray of soldiers. Dean’s knees gave out the second Singer left and he felt bile rise in his throat, causing him to gag as he retched. 

After his stomach was emptied, Dean stood, his hands were shaking and he wanted to cry; but he didn’t, he swallowed his fear and his fingers tightened around his gun. 

Someone was shouting for cover and Dean swung his gun towards three Germans that were making their way towards a young boy. Dean hesitated for a second, his finger twitching over the trigger. One of the Germans pulled their own gun from around their shoulder and was about to take aim; knowing it was either the German or the soldier on his side, Dean pulled the trigger. 

The German faltered mid-step, blood plumeing over his chest. He fell to the ground and Dean took aim at the other two German’s, tears biting at the back of his eyelids. With two shots, they were dead and the soldier managed to make it to safety. 

“Winchester! Get down!” 

Captain Singer’s voice made Dean drop to his stomach, a bullet whistling by where his head had been a moment ago. 

Panic fluttered, trapped, in Dean’s chest and he pushed himself further into the mud. This time, the tears fell. He wanted to go home. He wanted to see Sammy again. He wanted to live. 

Harsh hands lifted Dean to his feet and he vaguely recognized Captain Singer. “Come on boy, you’re not dying here, not if I can help it.” 

Dean let Captain Singer pull him away from the battlefield. Shouting was heard everywhere, medics were being called, and someone was screaming...

 

Dean’s eyes shot open, breaths coming in gasps. The screaming from his nightmare was made a reality as Dean realized that it was coming from the other room. 

Wiping tears, that he must have cried from his nightmare, Dean made his way into his small sitting room; and there was Cas, the blanket Dean had given him was tossed on the floor and Cas was in a ball, screaming at the top of his lungs. 

Quickly, Dean reached out towards him, laying his hand gently on his shoulder and shaking him. “Cas, Cas, wake up!” Cas stopped screaming but only so he could begin to whimper. “Cas!? Dammit, Cas!?” Dean shook him harder and then suddenly, Cas’ eyes popped open, wild and blue. Cas reached out towards Dean, gripping him by the shoulders as he struggled to breathe. “Hey, hey Cas look at me, look at me, it’s okay,” Dean said calmly. 

Cas squinted at Dean in confusion. “Dean?” 

“Yeah, it’s me. Hey Cas,” Dean said, throwing Cas a smile. 

Cas still seemed confused, but he didn’t loosen his grip on Dean. “I…” Cas stammered. 

“Shh, just breathe, okay? Can you do that for me, Cas? Focus on my voice. Breathe in,” 

Cas took in a shaky breath. 

“Breathe out.” 

Cas let out a puff of air. 

“Good, good, do it again,” Dean encouraged. 

Cas kept taking deep breaths and slowly Dean saw the fear leave his eyes as he took in his surroundings. Cas’ hands slipped from Dean’s shoulders and he sat back on the couch.

“That’s it, just relax, you’re okay,” Dean said softly as he moved to sit beside Cas. 

Cas shifted his gaze from Dean, bringing them to land on his hands. “I’m sorry,” he sighed. 

“Hey, no, don’t apologize,” Dean said. 

“You drive me home, you give me coffee, and let me sleep on your couch, and I repay you by calling out in the middle of the night,” Cas mumbled. Dean could practically see the shame rippling through him.

Without thinking, Dean reached forward and put his hand over Cas’. “Look at me.” Cas cautiously raised his eyes to meet Dean’s. “Don’t apologize, okay? I have nightmares too, I was having one when you yelled, it was only a matter of time before I woke up anyway, you probably did me a favor.” Cas was silent, his eyes slowly returning to their normal, panic-free, blue. “Do you want to talk about it?” Dean asked tentatively. 

Cas shook his head. “No.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean made to leave but Cas’ hands tightened around Dean’s. “Stay. Please.” 

Dean stared at Cas for a moment and then nodded again. “Yeah, okay, sure, Cas.” 

Dean settled back down on the couch and Cas curled up again, his hands still holding onto Dean’s, like Dean was his anchor and without him he would set adrift to be lost at sea.

Dean knew he wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep, but he wouldn’t dream of leaving Cas to go back to his room. So, he stayed, and he watched as the alcohol in Cas’ system aided him in falling back asleep. Dean stayed with Cas all night, relishing in the warmth of Cas’ hands in his.  

 

When the sun started to peak through Dean’s curtains, Dean extracted himself from Cas and entered the kitchen. Cas still slept, seemingly undisturbed by the light seeping into the room. Normally, Dean would make himself breakfast, but he didn’t want to wake Cas, so he decided to just eat at the tavern instead. 

What Dean did decide to do, was to call the bakery and tell them that Cas wasn’t going to be in this morning; Dean could only imagine the kind of hangover Cas was about to wake up with. So, Dean picked up his phone and dialed the bakery’s number.

“Hello?” Naomi’s voice answered Dean’s call. 

“Hey Naomi,” Dean said. 

“Dean?” 

“Yeah, hi,” Dean replied. 

“How can I help you?” Naomi asked. 

“Well, I just wanted to tell you that Castiel Novak isn’t going to be into work today,” Dean answered. 

“Why can’t Castiel tell me this himself?” Naomi asked, a tinge of bluntness to her tone. 

“He’s sick,” Dean replied. Then, feeling the need to elaborate with a lie, he said, “He’s my neighbor and I usually give him a ride to work every morning, but when I went to get him he was halfway over the toilet. So, yeah, like I said, he’s sick and he won’t be into work this morning.” 

Naomi huffed on the other end of the line and then sighed. “Alright then. Thank you, Dean.”

“No problem,” Dean replied. 

He hung up and then busied himself with writing a note for Cas. He hated leaving him, but he didn’t have the heart to wake him up; this was probably the first night in a long time that he’d actually slept. 

Leaving the note on the coffee table with a glass of water, Dean got dressed and then headed off to work, wondering if Cas would still be there when he got back. 

Chapter Text

Cas blinked open his eyes and was immediately confused; this was not his apartment. 

He wasn’t lying in his bed, he was on a couch, his head was throbbing, his stomach felt like it was about to explode, and he had to blink a few times to clear his vision. 

And then, he remembered.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. 

He was in Dean’s apartment. He’d been drunk, really drunk, more blitzed than he’d been in a long time, and he’d done it in Dean’s bar. Cas felt embarrassment burn hot on his cheeks and he ran a hand through his hair and sat up with a groan. 

His eyes landed on a glass of water and a piece of paper. Cas reached forwards and picked up the note, it read:

Hey Cas,

Sorry to leave you, had to go to work. I called you in sick at the bakery, so take it easy. Take a shower if you want, there’s fresh towels in the hall closet, and help yourself to anything in the fridge or pantry, or anything else you might need. You can stay, don’t stay, whatever.  I’m closing early tonight so I’ll be back around 10.

 -Dean

Guilt swept through Cas like a wildfire. Dean, a man he hardly knew, had practically carried Cas into his apartment last night, made him coffee - yes he remembered, how could he forget? Even when he was drunk he seemed to wake up remembering everything-, sat with him after he’d woken Dean up with a nightmare, and now he’d left Cas alone in his apartment with access to his food, his shower, or ‘anything else he might need’. 

Cas had a perfectly good apartment right across the street, with his own food, his own shower, his own ‘anything else’; he should go. He should really go, he’d taken up enough of Dean’s hospitality, he should really, really , go. Gathering his strength, Cas pushed himself onto his feet, and then instantly regretted it.  

Everything dipped and swayed around him and Cas felt bile rise up his throat as his head began to pound like a drum. Cas could feel his stomach churning and he knew he didn’t have long to find Dean’s bathroom before last night's contents were all over the room. 

Moving as quickly as he dared, Cas headed towards the door that he assumed led to Dean’s bedroom. Finding that he was correct, he sought out the bathroom door and just barely managed to get the toilet seat open before he was on his knees. Cas coughed and sputtered, gagging on his own vomit as he tried to breathe.

 He was definitely not going anywhere. Cas wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to drag himself back to the couch, he might be better off staying on the bathroom floor until Dean came back. 

But, Cas didn’t stay on the floor. Instead he gripped the side of the toilet and carefully struggled to his feet. It took him a minute to get his balance, but when he did he headed over to the sink and attempted to wash off the throw up that was stuck to his chin. He tried to avoid looking at his reflection, but he caught a glimpse of his disheveled black hair that stuck up at odd angles, of his hallowed pale cheeks and his dull blue eyes that were sinking in his baggy eyelids. 

Cas turned away from the sink and concentrated on putting one foot carefully in front of the other. With each step his stomach lurched and he felt like he was going to collapse, but somehow he made it out of Dean’s room and back onto the couch. Once he was lying down he focused on evening out his ragged breathing and let his eyes drift to the ceiling of Dean’s apartment. 

After a few minutes Cas started to feel better, the rolling in his stomach had softened to a dull ache and the pounding in his head was significantly less noticeable; so, he decided to try and sit up again. 

Moving ever so slowly, Cas gripped the back of the couch and brought himself into a sitting position; his vision blurred for a moment but it quickly cleared. The note Dean had left him was on the ground but the glass of water was still sitting on the table and Cas reached for it, chugging it down in a few gulps. Cas sat back with a sigh, his empty glass hanging from his hand as his eyes fluttered shut. He would take the rest of the day slowly, and after he’d eaten something he would see if he was feeling up to heading back to his own apartment, even though there was a small voice in Cas’ head that was begging him to stay. 

 

It took Cas five minutes to find Dean’s pots and pans and then another five to find the butter in his fridge. Cas took two eggs from the carton that had been sitting on one of the shelves in Dean’s cluttered and unorganized fridge and began to make himself breakfast. He had to pause to steady himself a few times as he tried to crack the eggs into a pan, but he eventually managed to fry up two eggs and find a plate. 

Cas sat down at the kitchen table with his eggs and a glass of orange juice and then forced himself to eat, even though his stomach dipped at the smell of cooked food. After he’d managed to force his breakfast down he decided to take Dean up on the offer of his shower. Locating the hall closet, Dean had mentioned in his note, Cas found a towel and then headed into Dean’s bathroom.

He turned the knob for the hot water and let it run for a minute before he stripped out of his day-old clothes and stepped under the warm spray. Cas shut his eyes as the water rolled off of him, the heat of it allowing for some of the numbness he’d been feeling to fade. Cas picked up the shampoo bottle and took his time soaping up his hair, feeling the suds between his fingers and watching as some bubbles rose up in the air around him. 

When Cas emerged from the shower into the steamy bathroom he felt a lot better. It wasn’t until Cas realized he didn’t have fresh clothes to change into that his stomach lurched again. He didn’t really feel like putting back on his dirty clothes but he wasn’t about to take Dean’s clothes, even if the bartender had offered Cas ‘anything else he might need’ he didn’t think that extended to his clothing. So, begrudgingly, Cas dried off and slipped back into his dirty clothes. Now he knew he had to go back to his apartment, he wasn’t going to stay in his alcohol and throw-up covered clothes longer than he had to. 

Cas hung up his towel to dry and then did the dishes he’d used for breakfast and put them away. He then found his shoes and took his time in tying them, as if he hoped it would take him ten hours to tie the knots and that when he looked up Dean would be back from work. When Cas did raise his head, after successfully not throwing up on his black shoes, Dean was not back from work and Cas knew he couldn’t hold off leaving the apartment much longer. 

With a sigh, Cas headed towards the door and out into the hallway. Cas made a mental note of Dean’s room number, 316, before he went down three flights of stairs and found his way across the street to his own apartment. 

The first thing he did when he shut his door was head straight to his bedroom and get changed. Once in clean clothes, Cas plopped down on his couch and picked up his book, if he had the day off then he was going to try and relax. But Cas couldn’t relax, his mind kept wandering to Dean and his impossibly green eyes. 

Part of Cas wanted to go back to Dean’s apartment and wait for him to come home, he wanted to properly thank Dean for taking care of him last night. But Cas didn’t move, he stayed home, reading his book and pushing down the waves of nausea that would occasionally make themselves known. 

 

True to Dean’s note, Cas heard the rumble of the Cadillac’s engine at 10 PM later that night and Cas peered out of his window to see the black car gliding gracefully into its parking spot. Without pausing to think his actions all the way through, Cas was slipping into his shoes, pulling on a coat, and practically bolting out of the door. 

Dean was halfway around his car when Cas ran out into the street. “Dean!” Cas called. 

Dean spun around and his eyes locked on Cas. “Cas, hey,” Dean replied as Cas came skidding to a halt in front of him. “You’re feeling better I see.” 

“Uh, yeah,” Cas answered awkwardly. “Look, Dean, I just… I wanted to thank you.” 

Dean’s lips curled into a small smile. “Yeah, no problem Cas, anytime.” Cas felt like he had to say more but Dean was already speaking again. “It’s freezing out here, why don’t you come upstairs with me, I bought one of your pies again and I’m dying to eat it.” 

Despite the cold, Cas felt something warm spread through him and he smiled. “Sure.” 

Dean grinned and then turned around to lead Cas back into his side of the apartment complex. They surmounted the stairs and Dean brought them back into his apartment, setting down the box that held the pie on his kitchen table before he rummaged in his drawers for something to cut it with.

“Do you want some?” Dean asked when he turned around, triumphant, with a knife and  a fork in his hand. 

Cas shook his head. “No thanks.” 

Dean shrugged and plopped down in his chair. “Suit yourself.” Cas hovered awkwardly while Dean dug into the cherry pie Cas had made yesterday. “You can sit down you know,” Dean said over his mouthful. 

Cas slowly slid into a chair opposite Dean and watched as the bartender shoveled pie ungracefully into his mouth; Cas couldn’t help but smile. 

Dean looked up and caught Cas’ eye. “You sure you don’t want any?” 

Cas laughed. “I’m sure, Dean. Thank you.” 

Dean kept eating and once he was done he pushed the remaining pie away from himself and tipped back in his chair. “So,” Dean began. Cas waited for Dean to keep going, unsure what he was supposed to say. “I served you drinks last night, drove you to my apartment, fed you my food, and let you sleep on my couch, I think that entitles me to be allowed to learn something about you.” 

A blush started to rise on Cas’ cheeks but he pushed it back down and leaned forward in his chair. “Sounds fair. What do you want to know?”

The two legs of Dean’s chair that had been in the air hit the ground with a loud thud, and Dean shifted in his seat so he could be facing Castiel. “Well, first off, why did you move here?” 

Cas barely managed to control the wince that wanted to ripple through his body. He shifted his eyes away from Dean’s and let them focus on his hands. Dean seemed to pick up on Cas’ uncomfortable silence and he said, “You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to.” 

Cas wasn’t going to lie to Dean about why he was in Lawrence, Dean deserved the truth and he’d already told him half of the story anyway. So, Cas shook his head. “No, it’s fine, I’ll tell you.” 

Dean reached out a hand towards Cas but then stopped midway across the table, seeming to have decided against fully going through with his action. “Really, Cas, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”

Again Cas shook his head. “It was Anna.” 

Dean nodded slowly, understanding dawning on his face. “I get it, fresh start, right?” 

“Something like that,” Cas replied. He took a breath before continuing. “We used to share an apartment, so I could have someone there when my nightmares struck.” Cas took another breath to control the tears that wanted to break through the barrier he had set up behind his eyes. 

Dean hummed softly, taking Cas’ lapse in speaking to tilt back in his chair. “Sammy used to do that for me, when I first got back from the war. He wasn’t exactly helpful, he’d always try to calm me down but it never really worked. Mostly he was just something to hold onto, and that’s all I needed.”

“Anna was the same for me,” Cas said. 

Dean righted his chair again and leaned towards Cas. “You said you served two years?” 

Cas nodded stiffly. “Yeah.” 

Something shifted in Dean as his eyes traveled over Cas and he sniffed. “Look man, we don’t have to talk about the war, I’m sure you don’t want to relive it.” 

“Actually, I think it would be nice to have someone to talk to who understands what it was like,” Cas replied. It was true, he wanted to talk about the war, - don’t get him wrong, he hated talking about it, but he wanted to-, he had to face everything that happened at some point; and a lot had happened. 

Dean’s face broke out in a grin. “Yeah?” 

Cas grinned in return. “Yeah.” 

Dean ran his hand through his hair and cleared his throat. “So.” 

“So,” Cas replied, his hands twitching awkwardly in front of him. 

“Let’s just get the formalities out of the way shall we?” Dean raised his hand to his head and tossed off a lazy salute, “Private Dean Winchester, 70th infantry division, 2 platoon under Captain Robert Singer, at your service.”

Cas bit back a laugh and smiled as his own hand went up to his forehead in a salute. “Private Castiel Novak, 91st infantry division, 4 platoon under Captain Raphael Shurley, at your service.” 

Dean straightened up at Castiel’s words. “Wait, 91st infantry division? Wasn’t that the division that captured Futa Pass?”

Cas nodded, memories floating behind his eyes. “Yeah, that was hell of a day.” 

“Man I bet,” Dean replied with a huff as he scrubbed a hand down his face. 

“We lost a lot of good men when we took Futa Pass,” Cas said with a sad sigh. 

“I know what that’s like,” Dean said. “Sometimes I wish I’d died out there, ya know? Instead of watching everyone else die.” 

“Don’t we all? It’s called survivors guilt,” Cas said in a soft mumble. 

Dean grunted. “Yeah, I guess.” 

Cas’ mind drifted back to Dean’s earlier words and something sparked in him. “Hang on, you said 70th division?”

Dean smirked. “That’s right.” 

“Weren’t you guys in combat for months ?” Cas asked in a gasp. 

Dean’s smirk faded to be replaced by a somber frown. “Yeah. 86 days I think it was, which is only like two months or something, but it felt like longer.” 

“But, you… you were the division that took Völklingen.” 

“Yeah, they put up one hell of a fight too, but we got ‘em in the end. Fucking krauts,” Dean grumbled. 

“Were you…” Cas trailed off, the question was poised on his lips yet his mouth refused to ask it. 

Dean’s smirk returned to his face. “I was a lot of things, Cas,” he said, trying to add some humor to the conversation. 

Cas finally managed to get the words out. “Were you ever hit?” 

Dean chuckled, his eyes crinkling at the edges. “Yeah, took a bullet to the shoulder, and I got hit with some shrapnel here and there, nothing too fancy.” Dean licked his lips and leaned forward. “What about you?” 

Cas numbly nodded. “Yeah, I was. Barely. Bullet grazed me along my arm,” Cas rolled up his shirt sleeve to reveal a long bumpy scar that went from his elbow to the top of his bicep. 

Dean huffed at Cas’ wound. “Two years of service and that’s all you’ve got to bring home?”

Cas rolled his sleeve back down and refused to meet Dean’s eyes. “Yeah, I know, it’s pretty lame.” 

Dean waved a hand through the air. “Nah man, it’s miraculous if you ask me. Was Meg right, are you some kind of angel or something?” 

This time Cas couldn’t hide his blush. “No, I assure you I’m not.” 

“Could’ve fooled me.” 

Cas felt like something had just struck him in the gut. What? Did Dean Winchester just make a pass at him? Was he flirting or was Cas just delusional?

Before Cas could say anything Dean was instantly clambering to defend his words, his face almost as red as Cas’ had been a moment earlier. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to… I just… I never really know what’s going to come out of my mouth, I wasn’t trying to…” 

“Dean,” Cas cut into Dean’s rambling. Of course Dean doesn’t like you, don’t be an idiot Castiel. “It’s okay.” 

Dean seemed to relax but he didn’t stop trying to search Cas’ eyes for more confirmation that what he was saying was true. “You’re sure?” 

Cas nodded. “Yes, of course.” 

Dean melted back into his chair with a sigh. “Okay.” 

“I think that’s enough war talk for the night,” Cas said. 

“Right, yeah, I understand if you want to head home, it’s getting late,” Dean replied as he began to stand, but Cas put out a hand to stop him. 

“I didn’t mean we had to stop talking,” Cas said, “unless of course you wanted to.” 

“No, no, of course I want to keep talking to you,” Dean said hastily as he dropped back down into his chair. 

Cas didn’t even try to repress his smile as he took in the eagerness in Dean’s tone. “Great, well, you said you wanted to get to know me, so what’s your next question?” 

“Ah, ah, ah,” Dean held up a finger and wiggled it at Cas. “I don’t think that’s fair, you haven’t heard anything about me, this conversation should be mutually beneficial.” 

Cas laughed. “Alright then.” 

Dean spread his arms wide and grinned. “Ask me something.” 

Cas racked his brain for a question, there was so much he wanted to know about Dean. “Okay, why did you move here?” 

Dean pretended to look up at the ceiling in thought but Cas could tell that Dean already had his answer. “I didn’t move here,” he said after a moment. “Well, I moved into this apartment but I’ve always lived in Lawrence. Born and raised.” 

“Really?” Cas found himself surprised that Dean had managed to stay in one place his whole life, apart from the war of course. 

“Really,” Dean repeated. “Sammy on the other hand, he got out of Lawrence as fast as he possibly could, went to Stanford law school, and now he’s a lawyer with a beautiful girl on his arm.” Dean sniffed and clapped his hands together. “But that life wasn’t for me. I always wanted to own a bar, so that’s what I did.” 

“You followed your own dreams,” Cas said, “that’s all anyone could have asked from you.” 

Dean scoffed at Cas, his lips turning down in a frown. “Yeah, that’s not what my Dad thought.” Cas wasn’t sure if he was supposed to say anything but Dean continued after a minute. “He wanted me to stay in the military, ‘be a good little soldier’ or whatever, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.” 

Cas nodded in understanding. “I know what you mean.” 

“I volunteered to fight because I knew it was what my Dad wanted. Part of me wanted to do it too, the young teenage part of me did at least, the part that thought it would be an adrenaline rush and all fun and games, the part of me that thought I was invincible. But mostly, I did it because of him.” Dean’s green eyes were shining with water and he wiped the tears away with the back of his hand. “So when I got back, when I got out , I wanted to do something for me , but he wasn’t having it, so after Sam went off to school I left, moved through a few apartments and finally settled here after I was offered the lot with my bar on it.” 

Cas wanted to comfort Dean but he wasn’t sure if his affection would be welcomed so instead he said, “Well you did it, Dean, you made your own life. I mean look at you now, fancy car, great bar, a roof over your head, I’d say you did pretty well.” 

Dean chuckled softly and his eyes met Cas’. “Yeah, I think I did okay.”

Cas held Dean’s gaze for a moment before he dropped his eyes, but not before they lingered on Dean’s lips for a second. Don’t think about that Castiel , Cas scolded himself.

“It’s your turn now,” Cas said, trying to diffuse the awkward tension that had been building in the space between them. “Ask me something.” 

Dean looked thankful to have been given an out from talking about his family. “Hmm,” he pondered. “I know, what made you want to be a baker? Because I’ve got to say, Cas, your pies are the best I’ve ever tasted.” 

Cas laughed. “I always loved baking from a young age. I’d help my mother in the kitchen everyday. When I came back after the war,  the only thing that kept me steady was having something to do with my hands, so baking became my natural comfort.” 

Dean crooked an eyebrow at Cas, impressed. “Well you’ve certainly got a natural talent for it.” 

For what Cas was pretty sure was the third time that night, a blush took root across his face. “Thank you.” 

 

Cas spent another thirty minutes talking with Dean before he felt like he should excuse himself and go home. 

“You really don’t have to go,” Dean said as he stood up to show Cas to the door. 

“I’d love to stay, really I would, but I have to be up early to bike to w…”  

Shit . His bike was still at the bakery.

Dean immediately jumped to Cas’ rescue, knowing why Cas had trailed off. “Oh don’t worry about that, I can drive you to work tomorrow morning.” 

Cas shook his head. “You don’t have to do that, you’ve already done so much for me. I can take a cab or something.” 

“I insist,” Dean said. Cas felt a frown drop across his lips as he squinted at Dean in disbelief.  “Really, it’s not a problem, we work so close to each other we might as well commute together.” 

Cas tried to protest again but Dean wasn’t having it.

“Tomorrow morning, 8 AM, I will be at your apartment door to pick you up,” Dean said. 

Cas crossed his arms and pouted. “You don’t even know which apartment I live in.” 

Dean scowled at Cas as the realization that he was right dawned across his face. “Well you’re going to tell me.” 

“Or what?” Cas asked, fighting to keep a smile from his cheeks. 

“Or I’m going to follow you home,” Dean replied indignantly. 

“That’s very bold of you,” Cas said. He was unable to stop the smile that so desperately wanted to peek through his teeth as he finally gave in. “Fine, apartment 104. I’ll see you in the morning.” 

Dean was grinning in satisfaction like a child that had just been given candy. “We uh, we should do this again sometime, I really enjoyed our talk.” Dean brought his hand up to the back of his neck, a gesture that Cas was beginning to notice was something Dean did very often when he was nervous or felt awkward. 

“We should, I enjoyed our talk as well.” 

Dean beamed at Cas. “Great! We’ll have to set up a time for you to come over again, maybe for dinner or something; you may make great pies but I can cook a mean roast turkey.” 

“That sounds great.” 

Cas moved to open the door but Dean quickly rushed forward and opened it for him, holding it wide so Cas could step through. “Bye Cas.” 

Cas resisted the urge to look at Dean’s lips again and instead brought them to the forest of green that was Dean’s eyes. “Goodbye Dean.” 

Cas left Dean’s apartment and found his way back to his own establishment. 

As he settled down for the night Cas felt something flicker to life in his chest, something that he knew was the spark that might have just ignited feelings for Dean Winchester, feelings that Dean couldn’t possibly feel in return.

Chapter Text

Dean closed the door after Cas left and pressed his back against it with a sigh. Dammit Dean , you’ve gone and gotten attached to a man who will never like you in the way you want him to. Good fucking going man. 

 As Dean stood there, letting the wooden door bite into his back, his mind couldn’t help but run through everything he’d said, and possibly done wrong, throughout his conversation with Cas. Dean groaned as his thoughts stuck on “could’ve fooled me”, of course his big dumb mouth had decided to betray him, and he really hoped that Cas had meant it when he’d said it was okay. Dean would just have to make sure he kept himself in check when he was around Cas, he’d slipped up enough times in this one night to count for a lifetime. 

Pushing himself off of the door, with another sigh, Dean headed off to his room and collapsed onto his bed. A smile pushed its way through his thoughts as he remembered that he was picking Cas up tomorrow morning to bring him to work. Don’t do anything stupid, he immediately warned himself. 

Dean scrubbed a hand down his face and took a few deep breaths before he got ready for bed and tried to get some sleep before one of his nightmares hit. 

****

Dean pulled on his favorite leather jacket and then grabbed the car keys from the kitchen table before heading off to Cas’ apartment. 

The morning air was cold and it cut through Dean like a knife through butter, but he just pulled his jacket tighter around himself and picked up his pace towards Cas’ complex. Dean navigated his way through the apartments until he found room 104 and with slight trepidation, which could also have been some excitement, he knocked on the door. 

Within seconds the door opened and there stood Cas, bundled up in a blue scarf and a tan coat. Dean took in every aspect of Castiel that he could, from his blue eyes, that looked so much bluer against the contrast of his scarf, to his black hair that was sticking up in a few places. 

Dean smiled at him, hoping the other man hadn’t caught him staring. Come on Dean, keep yourself in check . “Ready to go?”

Cas nodded. “Yes.” Cas stepped out of his apartment and locked the door and then he and Dean headed down the hallway. “Dean,” Cas said as they reached the door to the street.

“Mhm?” Dean hummed.

 “I just wanted to thank you again, for offering to drive me.” 

Dean shrugged nonchalantly, at least he hoped it was nonchalant. “Like I said last night, It’s really no problem Cas.”

“I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me,” Cas continued to babble. 

Dean put his arm on his friends’ -yes friends’ - shoulder, causing him to stop walking. “Cas, how many times do I have to tell you it’s no big deal.” 

Cas didn’t argue anymore and they reached Dean’s car and slipped into their respective seats. Dean started up the engine, pulled out of his parking space, and headed off towards his bar and the bakery. Dean glanced over at Cas to see the blue-eyed man looking around the car. 

“She’s even more beautiful in the daylight,” Cas said quietly as he ran a hand over the dash of the Cadillac. 

Dean smirked, warmth spreading through him at Cas’ appreciation for his car. “She is, isn’t she?” 

“How’d you get her?” Cas asked. 

“Well it wasn’t easy,” Dean replied. “I had to work my ass off for the money to be able to afford her, but damn she was worth it.” 

“Wow,” Cas said. “How many years did it take you to save up the money?” 

Dean frowned in thought. “I guess it’d be around six, since I got my bar.” 

“That’s amazing,” Cas said, his blue eyes wide in awe. 

“You think so?” Dean asked, a child-like glee twinkling in his smile. 

“Yeah,” Cas replied earnestly. 

“Thanks Cas,” Dean grinned. 

 

Dean pulled into the parking lot of his tavern and he and Cas climbed out of the Cadillac. “Well, thanks again,” Cas said. 

Dean held up a hand. “Cas, seriously man, enough with the thank you’s.” 

“Sorry,” Cas replied, his eyes shifting downwards. 

Dean shook his head and sighed. “You don’t start work until 8:30, right?” Dean asked. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah, that’s right.” 

“Well then why don’t you come inside and I’ll make you some coffee before you have to go, no use standing around outside in the cold.” Dean hoped his offer wasn’t too forward, but Cas seemed to brighten at the idea.

“I’d like that,” he said. 

“Yeah?” 

Cas smiled and nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Great, come on.” 

Dean led Cas into the bar and told him to have a seat at the counter before disappearing into the kitchen to start the coffee. When it was ready Dean poured it into two mugs and then returned to the bar and placed a mug in front of Cas. 

“Thanks Dean,” Cas said warmly. 

“No problem,” Dean replied. 

They sipped slowly at their coffee, both unsure of what to say to the other. Dean started tidying up the bar, wiping down the counter, sweeping the floor, counting liquor bottles, anything to keep him from staring at the man sitting at his counter. 

When Cas stood up he set his empty mug on the counter and then hesitated in his walk towards the door. “Goodbye Dean,” he said. 

“Bye Cas,” Dean replied. Cas began to push open the door but Dean called after him. “Cas,” 

Cas turned back to look at Dean. “Yeah?” 

“I know you get out of work a lot earlier than I close my bar, but…” Dean cleared his throat and felt his rag tighten in his hands. “I could drive you home, so you don’t have to bike in this weather.” 

Cas smiled softly, his blue eyes filled with gratitude, but something lingered in his eyes, a barrier that Dean was trying to desperately to cross. “Thank you, but I wouldn’t want to impose.” 

“You’re not imposing,” Dean said, the words tumbled out of his mouth. “Really, I want you to come with me. I… I really like spending time with you, Cas.” Dean wanted to sink into the tiled floor of his bar and never be seen again. He was so stupid . He’d told himself he’d watch himself, make sure he didn’t say anything completely idiotic, but here he was, getting flustered like a teenage girl. 

The corners of Cas’ mouth twitched and Dean felt some worry unclench in his stomach. “Thank you Dean, but I think I’ll still bike home today.” 

Of course he’s going to bike, even in the cold. He was being too pushy, before he knew it he’d scare off the other man and never see him again. So Dean smiled, understandingly. “Yeah okay, sure. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.” 

Cas nodded. “Thanks again, Dean.” 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied. 

Cas looked like he wanted to say more, but he decided against it and instead pushed his way outside. 

Dean let out a sharp sigh. Just another thing you’ve managed to screw up . He forced himself to turn back to preparing the tavern for the day and when Benny walked in, Dean acknowledged him with a nod. 

“Mornin’ chief,” Benny said. 

“Mornin’,” Dean replied. 

Benny went off into the kitchen and Dean moved over to turn the OPEN sign towards the road before he took his place behind the bar. 

A few minutes later, the backdoor opened to announce Jo and Ellen’s entrance. “Good morning, Dean,” Ellen said as she pulled her apron over her head. 

“Good morning, Ellen. How are you today?” 

“Not so bad. Yourself?” 

“I’m alright,” Dean replied. He turned to Jo, “and how are you today?” 

Jo grinned. “I’m good.” 

“Awesome,” Dean smiled. 

Jo and Ellen went off to do their respective jobs as Gadreel entered the bar. “Hey boss,” Gadreel said. 

Dean crooked an eyebrow at him in surprise. “You’re actually on time today, who are you and what have you done with Gadreel?” 

Gadreel laughed. “I thought I’d give you a break for once.” 

“Get to work then,” Dean ordered. 

 

Ash and Asomdeus came in at their usual times and Den made them up their respective drinks and meals. At around 3:30, the door chimed and in walked a woman with a young girl in tow. Dean watched Jo lead the two to a table and start them off with menus. Dean knew who the woman was, she’d come into Dean’s bar more times than he could count, always with a new girl behind her, and always with a smile. 

Jody Mills was one of Kansas’ only policewomen, and she was damn good at her job. Jody worked not only to keep the city safe, but to help troubled girls find their feet again after they’ve gotten into legal trouble. Dean knew that Jody didn’t have to help the girls, that was beyond her pay-grade, but she did it anyway. Dean also knew what Jody’s appearance in his bar meant; when a girl Jody had been taking care of reached one month of being ‘trouble-free’, as Jody liked to call it, she would reward them with a hot meal of their choosing, which was a lot better than the slop they served in the girl’s homes. 

Dean moved out from behind his bar and headed over to Jody’s table. “Now now now,” Dean said as he approached the table, “you can’t just come into my bar without saying hello. Who do you think you are?”

Jody swiveled in her seat, a wide grin on her face. “Dean,” she said with a laugh. 

Dean spread his arms wide. “Come on, bring it in.” Jody stood up and let Dean wrap her in a hug. When she pulled away Dean gestured towards the girl sitting on the other side of the table. “And who do we have here?” 

“Alex, Dean, Dean, Alex,” Jody said. 

Dean offered his hand to Alex, she didn’t take it at first, but with a stern glare from Jody she finally did. “Nice to meet you,” Dean said. 

“You too,” Alex replied. 

“Dean’s the owner of the tavern,” Jody said. 

“That I am, and Jody here is one of my most valued customers,” Dean replied. 

Jody laughed. “Only occasionally.” 

“Excuse me, Dean,” Jo said from behind Dean. Dean turned to see Jo holding Jody and Alex’s drinks. 

“Sorry, Jo,” Dean said as he moved to the side. 

Jo placed the drinks on the table and then asked, “Are you ready to order or do you need more time?”

“I’ll just take a burger,” Jody said. 

“Me too,” Alex agreed. 

“Two burgers, coming up,” Jo replied. Jo headed back to the kitchen to place the orders and Dean left Jody and Alex to their own conversation.

 

Dean served Ash another beer and poured drinks for a few newcomers while always keeping an eye on Jody and Alex, talking quietly together as they ate. Dean was the first to notice that they had finished their meal, as Jo was busy with another customer, so Dean took it upon himself to take care of them. 

“I’ve already told you, I want to be a nurse,” Alex was saying as Dean walked up to the table.

“I know, and I’m not saying you can’t be, I’m just saying in the meantime, before you start applying to schools, you should try and find a job of some sort, it would be good experience.” 

Dean cleared his throat awkwardly to announce his presence. “Are you finished with your meal?” he asked. 

“Yes Dean, thank you,” Jody replied.

Dean reached for Jody’s plate and then Alex’s. He hesitated for a second before saying, “Jody, if Alex needs a job I’d be more than happy to give her one.” 

“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” Jody said. 

“You’re not asking, I’m offering,” Dean replied. 

Jody knew better than to argue with Dean, so she turned to Alex. “Well? What do you think?” 

Alex looked like she wanted to say no, but she nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean smiled. “Great, you can start tomorrow at noon.” 

“Thank you,” Jody said. 

Dean shrugged. “It’s nothing.” 

“You know it’s not,” Jody said.

“Thank you,” Alex said. 

Dean nodded. “You guys are all set, meal’s on the house.” 

“Oh no I couldn’t-” Jody tried to protest. 

“Consider it incentive for Alex to be on time tomorrow afternoon,” Dean said with a friendly, but pointed, look in Alex’s direction.

“I’ll be on time,” Alex said. 

Dean left Jody and Alex to gather their things but his attention was immediately reattached to the two women as he heard a man’s raised voice say something across the room from where he was seated at Dean’s bar. 

“Is that a police badge?” The man asked. 

Jody turned to face the man, putting herself between him and Alex. “Yes, it is,” Jody replied pointedly. 

“What’s a woman doing with a police badge?” 

“Making a difference,” Jody retorted sharply. “Come on Alex, let’s go.” Jody reached for Alex’s arm but the man stood up and moved towards Jody. Jody instantly took on a defensive stance. “Stay where you are,” she said warningly. 

“What are you going to do?” The man asked, his speech was slurred, Dean knew he was drunk. “You’re a woman, you can’t do anything.” 

“I can do plenty, thank you very much,” Jody snapped. 

The man continued to move towards Jody, very slowly, and Dean knew that Jody could take care of herself, but this was his bar, and he’d be damned if he let a customer berate Jody like this without doing anything. 

“Hey,” Dean said sharply, stepping out from behind the bar and moving between Jody and the man. “If you keep talking to an officer like that I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” 

“She’s not an officer, she’s a woman,”  the man retorted. 

“Oh, so women can’t do the job, huh?” Jody asked as she pushed herself in front of Dean. 

“That’s right, they can’t,” the man scowled. 

“I think women can do the job just fine,” Dean growled, his anger surfacing. 

Dean knew that there were so many people in the world who thought that women weren’t capable of doing anything but being good housewives, but he knew better. Dean had befriended enough women to know that you don't mess with them and you certainly don’t get in their way. 

“Women shouldn’t even be working,” the man spat in Jo’s direction.

“I think you need to leave,” Dean said, his voice hard. 

“Make me,” the man snapped back. 

“I can’t make you do anything,” Dean said, holding his hands up as he backed away slightly. “But she can,” Dean pointed towards Jody. 

“I’d like to see her try,” the man hissed. 

Before Dean could stop it, the man lunged forwards, fist extended towards Jody’s face. Jody easily dodged it and threw the man to the ground. “Alright, that’s it,” Jody said as she straddled the man, who was face down on the floor, and pulled out her handcuffs. “You’re under arrest for assaulting an officer. You can take up any complaints you have about my gender with my boss.” 

Jody cuffed the man, hauled him to his feet, and then gestured for Alex to follow her. She gave Dean a small smile as she led the man out of Dean’s bar. Dean sighed as he returned to work. The day could not go by fast enough. 

 

As it neared 6:30 Dean felt a headache take root in his skull and he groaned, he wasn’t going to last until one, he’d have to close early again. Dean felt bad sending Benny home again and flipping the CLOSED sign over; he’d closed early so many times this week and he hoped his regular night comers, like Crowley and Meg, weren’t too upset with him. 

Dean did his usual routine, locked up his bar, and then climbed into his Cadillac. He pulled out onto the street and headed back towards his apartment. He was halfway there when he noticed a figure hunched over the handlebars of a bike, pedaling quickly as he tried to beat the cold home. Despite his headache, Dean couldn’t resist pulling up beside him and rolling down his window. 

“Hey! Cas!” 

Cas didn’t hear Dean at first, but when Dean yelled his name a second time Cas looked over his shoulder and came to a stop. “Dean?” 

Dean grinned. “Hey.” 

“What are you doing out here so early?” Cas asked. 

“Headache,” Dean replied. 

“I’m sorry,” Cas said. 

“It’s okay, you look like you could use a lift though, it’s too cold out here, you’ll be a block of ice by the time you get home,” Dean said, again cursing himself for being so forward with the other man. Was he starting to appear clingy?

“Dean, I told you, I’m fine,” Cas said. 

“You’re not fine,” Dean argued. “Your nose is so red I almost thought you were Rudolf. You’ll catch a cold if you keep this up, please just let me drive you.” 

Cas looked like he wanted to refuse Dean again, but Dean could see that he was shivering uncontrollably and the heat radiating from Dean’s car was drawing Cas closer. “Alright,” Cas said reluctantly. 

“Awesome.” 

Dean hopped out of the car and helped Cas put his bike in the trunk, before the two men crawled back into the warmth of the Cadillac. Dean turned up the heat and Cas began to warm his hands over the vents. “T-thank y-you,” Cas said through chattering teeth. 

“Of course man,” Dean replied. 

“I’ve b-been m-meaning to g-get a c-car, b-but the t-time has never b-been r-right,” Cas stammered. 

“I know a good dealer,” Dean said. “He could set you up with a car for cheap.” 

“Really?” Cas asked.

Dean nodded. “Yeah, how about this weekend I take you down to see him?” 

“Yeah, okay, I’d like that,” Cas said. 

“Only thing is, he’s two states away, over in South Dakota, Sioux Falls, so you’ll be stuck in a car with me for about five hours,” Dean said with a chuckle. 

“I think I’ll manage,” Cas replied, a grin tripping over the corners of his lips. 

“There’s a few things you need to know about this guy before you meet him,” Dean said, as a fond smile slipped onto his face. 

“Okay,” Cas said, waiting for Dean to continue. 

“Well, first off, he was my Captain during the war, so don’t embarrass me,” Dean began.

Cas drew in a short breath of air. “Oh, I’m not sure I can do that, Dean.” 

“Well if that’s the case, then I’d like to retract my offer to help you find a car,” Dean said, jokingly. 

Cas seemed to think for a second before he said, “Alright, I will try my best not to embarrass you.” 

“Thank you,” Dean replied with another grin. 

“Okay, what else do I need to know?” Cas asked. 

“He was shot, so he’s in a wheelchair, and he’s not happy about it, so don’t make any jokes about standing or walking, or anything to do with legs.” 

“I’m not good at jokes anyway,” Cas said. 

“Perfect,” Dean replied. 

“Is that it?” 

“Yeah, I think that’s about it, if I think of anything else I’ll let you know.” 

They pulled up to the apartment complex and Dean helped Cas with his bike before bidding him goodnight. 

“Thank you, again,” Cas said. “You’re a very kind person.” 

“I try my best,” Dean replied, another soft smile poked against his teeth. 

“Goodnight Dean.” 

“‘Night Cas.” 

They each went their respective ways and when Dean got into his apartment he headed straight for his phone, despite his throbbing headache that told him to take a hot shower and go to bed. 

It took him a minute to find the number, but when he did he dialed it quickly. “Hello?” a gruff voice answered. 

“Hey Bobby,” Dean said. 

There was a grunt of what could have been laughter, or annoyance, on the other end of the line. “That’s Captain Singer to you.” 

“Oh come on, I thought we were beyond that,” Dean whined. 

“We’re not,” Bobby replied stiffly, although Dean could tell that he was trying hard not to smile. They were so beyond that.  “Anyway, what do you need, boy?” 

“Well, I’ve got a friend in need of a set of wheels,” Dean replied. 

“Oh?” 

“Yeah, and I was wondering if you could help him out.” 

“Sure thing,” Bobby said. 

“We were thinking of driving up to you this weekend, Saturday morning, does that work for you?” 

“Dean, I’m around all the time, anytime works for me,” Bobby grunted. 

“Thanks Bobby,” Dean said. Bobby didn’t correct Dean again and Dean took the small victory as he hung up and headed off to take that warm shower. 

Dean crawled into bed at just a little after 8, and was asleep almost as soon as his head hit his pillow, exhaustion pulling him into the dregs of sleep, and thoughts of a weekend with Cas filtering into his dreams.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Cas was busy making himself some breakfast when there was a knock on the door. He looked up at the clock above his stove, it was 7:00 A.M., who could be knocking on his door that early in the morning? Brushing his hands on his pants, he made his way to the door, flung it open, and there, slightly out of breath, stood Dean Winchester. 

“Dean?” Cas asked in surprise, he suddenly became very aware of the fact that he was still in his pajamas and was wearing a dark blue bathrobe. 

“Good, I caught you before you left,” Dean said, his chest still heaving. He must have run here.

Cas pulled his bathrobe tighter around himself and stepped out of the doorway. “Why don’t you come in, I was just about to make breakfast, have you eaten?” Dammit Cas, seriously? ‘Have you eaten?’ is that really the best you can come up with?

“I haven’t eaten,” Dean replied, “but I wouldn’t want to trouble you.” 

Cas laughed. “Now look who’s apologizing. Making you breakfast is the least troubling thing I could be doing this morning, and besides, I want to repay you for all the kindness you’ve shown me these past few days. So please, come in, and then you can tell me the real reason you’re here.” 

Dean hesitated for a minute before complying and walking into Cas’ apartment. He led Dean into the kitchen and continued making breakfast, which was pancakes. 

“So uh,” Dean cleared his throat awkwardly as he hovered beside Cas. “I was coming over to say that I talked to my former Captain and he said he can help you out this weekend.” 

Cas paused in whisking together the pancake mixture to turn and look at Dean. “That’s great.” 

“Yeah, so I figured we could leave Saturday morning, around eight-ish?” 

“That sounds good,” Cas replied. 

“And, I want you to be extra certain you’re okay with spending five hours in a car with me,” Dean said. 

If he wasn’t mistaken, and he very well might be seeing as he is the worst at reading people, Dean looked, and sounded, nervous. Cas was quick to ease Dean’s worries. “Of course I’m okay spending five hours in a car with you.” 

“Okay, okay good.” 

Dean seemed to relax and he sat down in one of the kitchen chairs as Cas went back to making breakfast. Everything about Dean sitting in his kitchen, letting Cas make him breakfast, seemed so domestic and almost, dare he say, natural . He could almost picture it, waking up with Dean beside him, making them breakfast every morning, heading off to work together… Cas had to stop himself from going too far into his fantasies as the pancakes in the pan began to burn slightly. 

“Do you need any help?” Dean asked from his seat. 

Cas shook his head as he flipped a golden-brown pancake over. “No, I’ve got it.” 

“You sure?” 

“Yes, just sit tight,” Cas replied. 

He flipped over three more pancakes and then transferred the finished ones to two plates. Cas set a plate down in front of Dean and then fetched some syrup from the counter. 

“Thanks Cas,” Dean said.

“You’re welcome.”

They ate in silence for a minute until Dean spoke. “I can drive you to work again if you want.” 

Cas wanted to accept Dean’s offer, he really did, but he couldn’t keep taking advantage of Dean and his car, the man was already going to drive him five hours just so he could buy a cheap car, which was something that he certainly didn’t need to do. 

“No that’s okay, I can bike,” Cas replied. 

Dean set his fork down and it clinked against the plate. “Cas, seriously dude, you can’t keep putting yourself through that every day.” 

“It’s fine, Dean,” Cas said, maybe a little too harshly. 

A brief look of hurt came over Dean’s face but he covered it up quickly. “If you’re sure.” 

“I am,” Cas replied, even though he was the farthest thing from sure, but he wasn’t about to make Dean keep driving him to work. 

“Okay,” Dean said quietly as he took another bite of his pancake. “These are really good by the way.” 

Cas blushed. “Thank you, it’s my mother’s recipe.”

“Well send my compliments to her then,” Dean said. 

Cas laughed as he raised his own bite of pancake to his mouth. “I will.” 

When they finished breakfast Dean insisted on helping with the dishes and then Cas told Dean that he had to leave for work; they walked side by side as they headed outside. He mounted his bike and Dean bade him a reluctant goodbye and then Cas set off towards the bakery. 

He arrived just a little after 8:15 and as he was about to unlock the bakery door - Naomi had finally entrusted Cas with the keys to the place so he could start before the other employees arrived- when he heard the unmistakable sound of Dean’s Cadillac. Dean honked at him and waved from his open window and Cas bit back a smile as he let himself into the bakery. 

Cas was starting to prepare pastries for the day when the chime above the door went off; he knew who it was before he even entered the main room. 

“Dean,” Cas said as he saw the tall form of his friend standing in front of the cash register. Dean grinned at Cas and Cas sighed. “We’re not open yet.”

 Dean crooked an eyebrow at Cas and his grin became a smirk. “Is that so?” 

Cas crossed his arms. “Yes, that’s so.” 

“Can’t you help a guy out?” Dean asked as he tossed a wink in Cas’ direction. 

He sighed. “I suppose, but only because it’s you.” 

Dean beamed at him and he pointed at one of Cas’ pumpkin pies. “I’ll take one of those.”

Cas reached into the glass case and pulled out a pie. “Do you want a box?”

“Yeah, I’ll take a box,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll be back in a moment.” 

He headed back into the kitchen, pulled a box from a shelf and boxed up Dean’s pie. When he returned, Dean was waiting patiently, money in hand. “Thank you,” Dean said as Cas handed him the pie and put the money on the counter. 

Cas rang up Dean and handed him his change. “Have a nice day.” He turned to head back into the kitchen but Dean’s voice brought him back. 

“Cas,” 

Cas’ eyes met Dean’s. “Yeah?” 

“The other night, we uh, we talked about maybe you coming over for dinner, and I was wondering if…” Dean cleared his throat and Cas found himself falling deeper into Dean’s green eyes. 

“If?” Cas asked. 

“If you were around tonight?” Dean finished in a rush. 

Cas felt a smile spread across his face so fast it almost hurt. “Yes Dean, I’m around tonight.” 

“Awesome,” Dean grinned. “I’m closing early again, so I can go pick up some things from the store, so how does eight sound?” 

“Eight sounds wonderful,” Cas replied. 

“See you then,” Dean said as he began to back out of the bakery. 

Cas tried to control his rapidly beating heart as he went back into the kitchen. Dean had invited him to dinner; it’s not a date Cas, he had to remind himself, it’s just two friends getting to know each other. 

 

But, throughout the rest of the day, no matter how hard he tried, Cas couldn’t keep the smile from his face or the butterflies from his stomach. Hannah had even inquired as to why he was in such a good mood. “Do you have a hot date tonight or something?” she’d asked. 

“Something like that,” Cas had replied, even though he knew it wasn’t true. 

 

Now, Cas was helping to close up the bakery and then he had to bike home to get ready for dinner with Dean. Not a date, just dinner, he kept reminding himself. After he’d finished closing, he mounted his bike and pedaled home as fast as possibly could. 

Cas reached his apartment breathless, wind-swept, and tired, but he ignored his aching limbs and rushed inside to shower and get changed into something that wasn’t covered in flour. He made sure to take his time under the steady hot stream, he scrubbed every inch of his body and washed his hair three times all the while muttering to himself that it wasn’t a date

After his shower, Cas toweled off his hair and shaved, and then he got dressed in a light blue button down shirt and black pants - he debated putting on a tie but decided that it would probably be too much, this wasn’t a date after all -. He combed down his hair, taking in his appearance in the mirror, he didn’t look too bad, some of the dark circles had vanished from under his eyes and he wasn’t as pale as he usually was. 

Cas glanced at the clock by his bed and saw that the minute hand was nearing the ten and the hour hand was hovering by the eight. He would give it another five minutes and then start his walk over to Dean’s apartment; or, he could start now and just walk really slowly. Cas opted for the second option and pulled on his coat, put on his shoes, and headed out the door at a slow pace. It was cold outside and wind touched his damp hair and sent a shiver through him; even though it was early November now, winter was definitely just around the corner.

Cas reached Dean’s apartment door with five minutes to spare and brought his fist up to the door to knock gently - It was then that he realized he hadn’t brought anything to share with Dean, he hoped Dean wouldn’t notice. Shuffling was heard on the other side of the door and then it was flung up to reveal Dean, an apron over his neck and a red oven mitt over his right hand.

“Cas!” Dean exclaimed, as he wiped his forehead with the back of his left hand. 

“Sorry, I’m a bit early,” Cas said. 

“No no, you’re right on time, please come in,” Dean replied, gesturing inside the apartment with his mitted hand. 

Cas suppressed a laugh and moved past Dean towards the kitchen table, which Dean had set with plates, cutlery, and two wine glasses. 

“I was just about to get the turkey from the oven, so have a seat,” Dean said.

Cas sat down and watched as Dean pulled a small roasted turkey from the oven and began to carve it. On two plates, he put slices of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy. Cas’ mouth started watering just by looking at it. Dean put a plate in front of him and Cas let out a breath. 

“Wow.”

“Is it too much, it’s too much isn’t it?” Dean rambled as he sat down.

“No Dean, I love it,” Cas said, unable to hide his smile. 

“You do?” Dean asked, his green eyes searching Cas’. 

“Yeah, it’s perfect,” Cas replied.

“Really?” 

“Really,” Cas laughed. 

  Not. A. Date .

“Well in that case, would you care for some wine?” Dean asked as he picked up the wine bottle from the middle of the table. 

“Don’t mind if I do,” Cas replied, extending his empty wine glass towards Dean. 

Dean filled it with the red liquid and then filled his own before he sat back with it and took a sip. “So, how was your bike home?” Dean asked as he picked up his fork and knife. 

Cas began to cut his turkey as he replied. “Cold.”

“Well, hopefully you’ll have a car this weekend so that won’t be a problem for much longer,” Dean said. 

“That’s the hope.” Cas raised his fork, stuffed with turkey and mashed potatoes, to his mouth. “Alright Dean, this better be as good as you say.” 

Dean’s lips quirked up at the edges. “I’m a man of my word.” 

Cas let the fork pass his lips and chewed slowly for a moment, letting the flavor fill his mouth. It was good, very good, probably the best thing he’d ever tasted. Dean was staring at him expectantly and Cas swallowed carefully, keeping his face as neutral as possible. “It’s good,” he said. 

Dean huffed and leaned forward in his chair. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” 

Cas shrugged. “Yeah, I think that’s all there is to say.”

“I slaved over this meal for hours and the only think of is ‘it’s good’?” Dean said with a exasperated gruffness. 

Cas chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Okay, it’s really really really amazing, probably the most amazing thing that has ever graced my tastebuds, the potatoes are fluffy and buttery and the turkey is perfectly seasoned. I can see now why you own the tavern, you’re the best cook in the entire world. There, was that what you wanted?”  

Dean was grinning stupidly at him and Cas found himself returning the grin as Dean sat back in his chair, his green eyes lingering on Cas fondly. “Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted.” 

They stared at each other for a minute before Dean broke eye contact and returned to his meal, leaving Cas to do the same. They ate in silence for a little while, enjoying the good food and wine. 

“So,” Cas said after a little while. 

“So,” Dean replied, his lips just shy of his wine glass. 

Cas leaned forward, elbows on the table bordering his almost empty plate. “Ask me something.” 

Dean swallowed his wine, another grin on his face. “Oh we’re going there are we?” he asked. 

“Well we’re still basically strangers and so I thought this would be the quickest way to learn more things about each other,” Cas replied. 

“Alright then,” Dean said. “Let’s try something mundane. What’s your favorite color?” 

“Blue,” Cas replied instantly; since he was a child he’d always loved blue and he wasn’t sure why. 

“What kind of blue though?” Dean asked. “Like dark blue, light blue, the color of your eyes blue, what kind of blue ?”

The color of your eyes . Cas felt his heart skip a beat and he barely managed to keep a blush from rising up his body. “Dark blue,” he replied, “darker than the sky and lighter than navy.”  

“Well that’s valuable information,” Dean said, a mischievous glint in his eyes. 

Cas snorted. “What could my favorite color possibly be useful for?” 

Dean shrugged. “You never know. Alright, your turn, ask me something.” 

“What’s your favorite color?” Cas asked. 

“Red,” Dean replied, without missing a beat. 

“What kind of red though?” Cas mimicked Dean. “Like dark red, light red, the color of blood red, what kind of red ?” 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Alright smart ass, dark red.” 

“Hmmm,” Cas said, pondering Dean’s answer. He again mimicked Dean’s voice as best he could and said, “That could be valuable information to know.” 

Dean laughed. “I don’t sound like that at all ,” he protested. 

“You so do,” Cas retorted with a laugh of his own. 

“My voice isn’t nearly that high,” Dean whined. 

“How would you know? Your voice sounds different inside your head than it does to others,” Cas said. 

Dean pouted at Cas but instead of arguing he asked another question. “When you were growing up, how did you pass the time?” 

Dean was good at this question asking thing and Cas found himself actually having to think about his answer. “Well, my brother Gabriel and I would play together a lot. We’d play things like hide and seek or we’d invent some other game. Anna would join in too, but she always ended up winning everything we played.” A sad laugh of fondness came out of Cas’ mouth as he remembered his childhood. “And of course I’d bake with my mother.” 

“That sounds fun,” Dean said. 

“It was for the most part, until my father left us.” 

“I’m sorry that happened to you.” 

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Cas said, his eyes were focused on his wine glass and he tried not to let his memories slip into the day his father left, but it pushed itself through anyway and he found himself telling Dean. “It was a sunny Saturday, I was ten or eleven, maybe younger, maybe older, it’s all a blur. I just remember my mother shouting in the kitchen, arguing with my father. She’d caught him sneaking off to see another woman and my father said that he loved her more than my mother or us… so my mother told him to go, and he went... and he never came back. I haven’t seen him since that day, I don’t even know if he’s still alive.” 

“There are ways to find out, Cas,” Dean said. 

“I know, but I just can’t bring myself to look,” Cas replied. 

“That’s understandable.” 

“Sorry to have dragged us down painful memory lane,” Cas laughed awkwardly. 

“Well I was about to tell you about my horrible childhood, if you wanted to hear it,” Dean said. 

Cas nodded. “That’s the point of these questions isn’t it? To learn about the other, the good and the bad.” 

“Exactly,” Dean replied. “So do you want my life story while I’m at it or just the traumatizing events of my early childhood?”

Cas grinned. “I’ll take whatever you can give me.”

“In that case,” Dean rubbed his hands together, finished off the last sip of wine that was swirling around at the bottom of his glass, and then sat forward. “It was the 24th of January 1926, a blizzard was raging on outside and my mother had been pushing for-”

Cas held up a hand to stop Dean. “Maybe not that far back Dean,” he said through a chuckle. 

“You asked for whatever I could give you,” Dean protested. 

“I take it back, or we’ll be here all night.” 

Dean sighed. “Alright, you have a point, although I wouldn’t mind spending the whole night talking with you.” 

Cas blushed again, so did Dean, and the overwhelming urge to reach out and take Dean’s hand, which was resting on the table by his plate, fought to take over him, but Cas resisted. “I wouldn’t mind that either, but I do have to work tomorrow and I’d like to try and get some sleep.” 

“Fair enough. So I guess I’ll start with the trauma then,” Dean said. He took a breath and then met Cas’ eyes, Cas wasn’t sure what to expect. “It was November 2nd, 1930, the day Sam turned six months old. I woke up to the smell of smoke filling the house, I could hear flames at my door and my father shouting for my mother. I stumbled out of my room to see my Dad carrying Sam in his arms, I could see that the nursery was on fire behind him and my mother was nowhere to be seen. Before I knew what was happening Sam was pushed into my arms and my father was shouting at me over the roar of the fire - “take your brother outside as fast as you can, now Dean, go!” -  and then I watched him run back into the nursery, screaming my mother’s name. I did as my father told me and I took Sammy to safety, and when I turned around my Dad was running out of the house and my mother wasn’t behind him.” Dean paused to take a deep breath and Cas was again taken over by the urge to take the other man’s hand in his own. 

“I’m so sorry,” Cas said in a whisper. 

Dean sniffed. “Yeah, everything else just went downhill from there. My Dad became a drunk, stopped taking care of me and Sammy, I practically raised my brother. I mean sure, he was there, he bought food, he lived with us, but he wasn’t a parent, he was always distant, and when he wasn’t distant, he was violent. I took so many hits to protect Sam, so that he was tired out by the time he tried to get to him.” 

“That’s awful,” Cas muttered. 

“Yeah it sucked,” Dean replied. “The only time John Winchester was ever interested in my life was when the war came around and he could send me away.” 

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Cas said. “I bet he loved you.” 

“Well then he sure had a hell of a way of showing it,” Dean grunted and his eyes lowered to his hands. “He’s dead, so I’ll probably never find out exactly how he felt about me. I was always his biggest disappointment, Sam on the other hand, was his prized child. I’d never seen my father more proud than in the moment Sam told him he was going to college. I on the other hand, went off to own a bar, like the useless son I am.” 

“Dean,” Cas said softly, “you are not useless.”

Dean raised his eyes to meet Cas’ and a small smile twitched on his lips. “Thanks Cas.”

“Alright, let’s move on shall we?” Cas asked gently, pulling his eyes from Dean’s. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, let’s.”

“It’s my turn right?” 

“I believe so,” Dean replied. 

“Okay, let’s see, who was your first crush?” Cas asked. He was heading into dangerous territory now but he wanted to know about Dean’s love life, he had to know. 

Dean chuckled. “Amanda Heckerling.” 

A girl, of course it was a girl . Did you really think he’d answer a guy? There was no way that someone like Dean Winchester liked boys, no way in hell

Dean continued. “Amanda was the prettiest girl in school, head of the cheer-leading squad, popular, everything I guy could wish for.” 

“So, did you ask her out?” Cas asked. 

“I was getting there. Yeah, I did ask her out, and she must have been insane because she said yes ,” Dean laughed and then ran a hand through his hair. “We didn’t last long though, she dumped me after a month or so, never said why.” 

“Wow.” 

“What about you?” Dean asked. 

Cas had been prepared for the turn around question but he hadn’t decided if he wanted to answer it honestly or not. In a split second decision, that he might regret later, Cas went for honesty. “His name was Inias.” 

“His?” Dean repeated. 

“Yes, his,” Cas confirmed, he felt his chest tighten as he tried to breath. 

“So, you’re gay ?” Dean asked. There was no judgment, that Cas could hear, in Dean’s voice, only curiosity. 

“Yes,” Cas again confirmed. He felt the need to go further. “Is that a problem? I know people like me aren’t exactly accepted around here and if I’ve made you uncomfortable I can go, I just wanted to tell you the truth-” 

“Cas,” Dean interrupted, a smile on his face. Cas’ frantic eyes met Dean’s soothing green gaze as he said, “It’s not a problem at all . I’m glad you were truthful with me because I was trying to figure out how to tell you that I’m actually bisexual.” 

Bisexual? That meant… that meant that Dean did like guys, that meant that Cas might actually have a shot with him.

“You are?” Cas asked in shock, he needed to hear Dean say it again. 

“Yeah, crazy right?” Dean laughed. 

“Yeah, crazy,” Cas echoed. 

“So, anyway, you were telling me about Inias ,” Dean said as he leaned forward, his eyes intently boring into Cas’.

Cas cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah, right, Inias. Well, I was around thirteen, and he was the new kid at school. He quickly fit in with the jocks and the popular boys, but he was in three of my classes, he sat right behind me, and so we’d often be paired together for projects and things. I never thought I had a chance with him, because like I said, people like me, us , aren’t exactly accepted in this society, but, one day we were studying together and... he kissed me. We dated secretly for a year and then he broke it off, but we still remained friends.” Cas fidgeted with the napkin in his lap as he said the next part of his story, “He was drafted into the war, like me. We sent letters to each other, but then one day the letters stopped coming; It wasn’t until I got home that I learned he was killed in action.” 

“Wow,” Dean said in a breath. 

“Yeah.” 

Dean picked up his plate and stood up, reaching for Cas’ plate as he did so. “I think we’ve talked about enough depressing things for one evening, how about some dessert?” 

“I’d love some dessert, thank you,” Cas replied, thankful for the out Dean was giving him. 

“Well you’re in luck, because I just happened to have picked up a pumpkin pie from a little known bakery called The Yellow Sparrow.” 

Cas canted his head to the side and squinted at Dean. “Where’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” 

“It’s right across the street from my bar and it has the best pies I’ve ever tasted,” Dean replied smoothly as he put the dishes down on the counter and reached for the boxed pie and two smaller plates. 

“Is that so?” Cas asked. 

“That is so,” Dean replied as he set the pie down in the middle of the table. He reached for a knife and then cut two pieces and distributed them to the waiting plates. 

Cas took the pie from Dean and together they dug into the dessert. Cas had to admit, this particular pie had turned out pretty well. He didn’t like eating his own creations as much as he probably should, but whenever he did he was always shocked to find that what he’d made actually tasted good

“The baker of this pie really outdid himself,” Dean said through a hum.

Cas shrugged. “I think it could have been better.”

“Well I  think it’s perfect,” Dean said, almost in a whisper as he stared at Cas. 

Cas had to look away to prevent himself from bringing his gaze to Dean’s lips, lips that he so badly wanted to kiss. 

 

The night went on, they talked through dessert, talked after dessert, and then Cas helped Dean clean up. Clean up consisted of laughter and soapy water being thrown in his general direction by Dean whenever Cas tried to take anything from the bin Dean was washing dishes in. 

It was getting late, and Cas didn’t want to leave, but he knew he had to go home. Dean walked him to the door and then there was a brief moment of awkwardness before Dean pulled Cas into a tight hug. He was surprised at first, but he quickly melted into Dean, bringing his hands up to the other man’s back. Dean was sturdy and strong, and Cas could hear his heartbeat through his shirt, he never wanted to let go. 

Dean pulled away first and took a respectful step away from Cas. “Well, we should definitely do this again sometime.” 

“We definitely should,” Cas replied. “This was fun, thank you for having me.” 

“Thank you for coming, and eating my food.” 

Cas smiled warmly at Dean and then raised his hand in farewell. “Goodnight Dean.” 

“‘Night Cas.” 

Cas left Dean’s apartment and headed over to his own, a smile never leaving his face.

 

****

Cas woke the next morning to a problem. His throat hurt each time he swallowed, his chest felt like someone was sitting on it, every other second he produced a cough from his mouth, and he couldn’t stop shivering. 

He stumbled to the bathroom and tore open his medicine cabinet to find the thermometer he kept there. The temperature that hit his eyes, after having placed it in his mouth for a minute, was that of 101.4. Cas groaned, well he wasn’t going to work today, that was for sure. 

Cas maneuvered his way over to his phone and dialed the bakery’s number. “Hello?” Naomi answered. 

“Hello,” Cas rasped. 

“Castiel?” Naomi asked. 

Cas coughed a few times before he managed to reply. “Yes, I appear to be sick, and I can’t come into work today.”

“You sound awful,” Naomi said. “Take as much time off as you need. Feel better.” 

“Thank you, I’ll try,” Cas coughed. 

He staggered back to his bedroom and collapsed on his bed as another round of coughs raked through his body. His vision was swimming at the corners of his eyes and Cas knew it was the fever. Every breath hurt as it swirled through his lungs and he knew had to try and sleep off the fever, so he let his eyes close. One thought accompanied him to the realms of sleep, I hope I didn’t give this to Dean

Chapter Text

Dean woke with a gasp, his latest war memory fading from his eyes. As he lay there, letting his lungs fill with air, he could hear the soft pitter patter of rain on the roof and he knew it was going to be a cold and dreary day. Dean dragged himself out of bed and poured himself a small glass of whiskey as he waited for his clock to strike eight so he could leave for work. 

****

Dean ducked through the pouring rain as he ran across the street to The Yellow Sparrow Bakery. The warmth of the small building allowed for Dean to pause and shake off some of the water from his jacket before heading over to the cases filled with pastries. 

“Dean!” An excited voice shouted, causing Dean to look up from perusing the pastries.

His eyes landed on the tall gangly figure of Garth Fitzgerald and Dean broke into a grin. “Garth, hey man, how’ve you been?” 

“I’m great amigo, just great,” Garth replied. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you in here, I’m glad to know you’re still up and kickin’.”

Dean chuckled. “You just haven’t been working mornings for the past few days, I’ve been in here almost every day.” 

Garth crooked an eyebrow at Dean. “Oh?” 

Dean rolled his eyes. “You were right, okay? Castiel makes the best pies I’ve ever had and I just couldn’t stay away.” Garth laughed and Dean rubbed his hands together. “Speaking of, where is Castiel?” 

“Oh, he’s not in today, he’s sick,” Garth replied.

Dean felt like someone had just knocked the breath from him. Cas was sick? He’d been fine last night… dammit Cas, biking to work in the cold finally got you… I fucking warned him. “What? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” was what Dean said instead of bolting out of the bakery and rushing to his car. 

“Yeah, but I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” Garth said. “Anael’s taking over the baking for now though, she’s a great baker too in her own right.” 

“I’m sure she is.” 

“So, what can I help you with?” 

“I think I’ll take two of those chocolate chip muffins to go, please,” Dean replied. 

“Alrighty then.” Garth boxed up his muffins and Dean paid him before heading out the door, Garth calling after him as he went, “Have a good day amigo!”

“You too, Garth,” Dean replied with a wave over his shoulder. 

Dean sprinted back over to his bar, covering the box containing the muffins with his jacket. He couldn’t work today, there was no way he could work today, not when Cas was holed up at home sick. Come on Dean, you can’t just not work, you’ve closed early too many times already for Cas, you can’t keep doing this, you have customers. Dean had to make it through the day and then, tomorrow morning, he would go and check on Cas. 

 

When noon rolled around Dean was alerted to the sound of the door opening and in walked Jody and Alex. Right, Alex is starting work today . Dean moved out from behind the counter and Jody pulled him into a hug. 

“Hi Dean,” she said. 

“Afternoon Jody,” Dean nodded at Alex, “Alex.” 

“Alright, she’s here, where do you want her?” Jody asked. 

Dean smiled. “Follow me to the kitchen and we’ll get you started.” 

“I’ll pick you up around six, and behave, okay?” Jody said as she pointed a finger at Alex. 

Alex rolled her eyes. “Jody, I’m not five.” 

“I’ll take care of her, don’t worry,” Dean said. 

“You better, if she’s not in one piece when I get back, I’m taking it out on you,” Jody replied. 

Dean laughed with a shake of his head. “She’ll be just fine, we’re the best of the best over here at The Winchester Tavern.” 

“I don’t doubt it,” Jody replied as she headed towards the door. 

“Bye Jody,” Alex said. 

Jody waved as she left and then Dean guided Alex to the kitchen where Benny and Ellen were busy preparing meals. “So, this is the kitchen,” Dean said. 

“Yeah, I got that, thanks,” Alex laughed. 

“Benny, Ellen,” Dean said, causing both of them to look up. “This is Alex.” 

“Hi there,” Ellen said, coming over to shake Alex’s hand. Alex took Ellen’s hand and then Benny’s. 

“Nice to meet you,” Alex replied. 

“You won’t be spending too much time in the kitchen, I’m going to put you with Jo to wait tables,” Dean said. He picked up a menu that was by the door and handed it to Alex. “Benny can fill you in about our meals and our specials and then, when you’re ready, find Jo and tail her for the day, she’ll help you with the rest.” 

“Sounds good,” Alex said. 

“Great, I’ll leave you in Benny’s capable hands.” 

Dean found his way back to the bar and busied himself with pouring drinks, cleaning glasses, and wiping down the counter; but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t keep Cas from his mind or keep the worry from building up in his chest.

 It was nearing one and Dean was about ready to snap. I can’t do this, I have to go . Making up his mind, Dean went into the kitchen, brushing past Gadreel who was busy at the grill, until he was standing in front of Benny. “Can I talk to you outside for a minute?” Dean asked. 

Benny set down the ladle he was using to stir his soup and faced Dean. “Of course chief.” 

Together, the two of them went out the backdoor of the kitchen and stood under the small ledge that spilled over the roof as rain poured down around them. “I have to go home,” Dean said, cutting straight to the chase. 

“Is everything okay?” Benny asked, concern lighting his eyes. 

“I don’t know,” Dean replied. It was true, he didn’t know the state Cas was in, for all he knew it could just be a cold, but on the other hand, maybe Cas was face down in his bathroom surrounded in vomit, unable to move. It was the not knowing that was killing Dean. 

“So, do you want to close early then?” Benny asked. 

Dean shook his head. “No, no, I can’t keep doing that.” 

“What then?” 

Dean reached into his pocket and pulled out his key ring, he fiddled with it for a moment until he freed one key, the key to his tavern. Dean didn’t want to do this, he’d never done this in the whole six years he’d owned his bar, but Cas was more important than some stupid bar, and so, he held out the key to Benny. “I want you to stay late and close and then I want you to open in the morning.” 

Benny stared at the key, his eyes wide. “Dean, you’ve never-”

“I know,” Dean cut in, “but I am now.” 

Benny took the key cautiously, his eyes never leaving it. “You’re sure?” 

“This is an emergency Benny, yes I’m sure.” 

“Okay chief, it’s your call,” Benny replied. 

“Thank you,” Dean said, grateful. “Now, I want you to put Ellen out behind the bar,” 

Benny nodded. “Sure thing.”

“You’re in charge now, so keep everyone in line.”

Benny tipped his pointer finger off of his temple in a small salute. “You got it boss.” 

“Great, okay.” Dean turned to head off into the rain but Benny stopped him. 

“You’ll tell me what this is about someday, won’t you?” Benny asked. 

Dean nodded. “Someday.” Without giving Benny a chance to ask him more questions, Dean dashed off into the rain and entered his Cadillac. 

He sped the whole way to the apartment complex, his heart drumming anxiously in his chest. He parked his car outside his apartment and then sprinted over to Cas’ complex. Something that resembled fear was gripping him tightly as he pounded on Cas’ door; there was no answer and Dean’s fear moved up a peg. 

“Cas?” Dean called. “It’s Dean, open up.” 

Nothing. 

“Dammit Cas, come on,” Dean muttered as his fist connected with the door again. 

Still nothing. 

Dean brought his hand up to the doorknob and turned it, but it didn’t budge. “Screw it,” Dean growled. 

He took a step back from the door and then sent his foot flying towards the wooden plank; with a crack the door swung open and Dean burst into Cas’ apartment, he’d buy Cas a new door later. 

“Cas!?” Dean shouted, his eyes scanning over every inch of Cas’ apartment; he wasn’t in sight. 

Dean moved towards what he assumed was Cas’ bedroom door and pushed it open. “Cas!?” he called again. 

Dean’s eyes landed on a figure that was tightly wound in white sheets, sweat glistened from his forehead and his lips moved quickly as he whimpered in his sleep. 

“Dammit Cas,” Dean hissed as he rushed forwards. His hands found Cas’ shoulders and shook, hard. “Wake up, Cas, wake up!” 

Cas groaned and then blinked open his eyes. Dean felt relief wash over him as he stared into blue. “Dean?” Cas asked in confusion. 

“Yeah Cas, it’s me.” 

“Wha’re you doin’ ‘ere?” Cas slurred. 

“I was worried about you,” Dean replied. 

“‘M fine,” Cas mumbled. 

“You’re not fine, Cas, God, look at you.” Dean put a hand to Cas’ forehead only to pull it away quickly. “Jesus Cas, you’re burning up.” 

“‘ave a fe’er,” Cas grunted. 

“Yeah, no shit,” Dean replied. 

Cas slumped back against his sheets again, his eyes slipping shut, and Dean quickly searched for a thermometer, anxious to know just how bad the fever was. “‘S in the bath’oom,” Cas mumbled.

Dean almost tripped in his haste to get to the bathroom that sat across from Cas’ bed. He found the thermometer by the sink and then returned to the shaking form of Castiel. “Cas, you’ve got to sit up,” Dean said. 

“Mph,” Cas grunted.

“Come on buddy.” Dean put a hand on Cas’ arm and guided him upwards. Cas let Dean pull him into a sitting position and then Dean waved the thermometer in front of Cas’ face. “Alright, open up.” 

Cas obliged and Dean stuck the thermometer in his mouth. Dean watched the minute tick slowly by on his watch and then he pulled the stick from Cas’ mouth. “How bad ‘s it?” Cas asked.

All the worry that Dean had been feeling increased as he looked at the number beside the red line on the thermometer. “102.5.” 

“Was only 101.4 this mornin’,” Cas slurred.

“Well 102.5 is too high for my liking, so we’re going to get you into a nice cool bath, okay?” 

Cas only grunted in response so Dean pulled the covers away from him and helped him to his feet. Cas swayed where he stood, but Dean wrapped one arm protectively around his waist and began to guide him slowly towards the bathroom. He sat Cas down in a chair beside the bathtub and then turned on the water, running his fingers under it to find the right temperature. 

When the water was neither too hot nor too cold Dean turned back to Cas, who was slumped over in the chair, eyes drooping. “Cas,” Dean shook him gently, “we have to get you in the bath, can you do it yourself or do you need help?” Dean’s heart surged slightly at the thought of helping Cas into the waiting bathtub, but he didn’t dwell on his thoughts for long, this wasn’t the time to think about that

Cas fumbled at his pajama shirt, but his hands were shaking too much as he shivered and Dean reached out to steady them with his own. “Hey, hey, it’s okay, I can help you.” 

Cas blinked up at Dean, eyes a glaze from the fever, and nodded slowly. So, Dean began to unbutton Cas’ shirt. This was not how he had imagined this happening for the first time, not that he imagined unbuttoning Cas’ shirt

He carefully slid the shirt from Cas’ shoulders and tried his best not to let his eyes roam over the exposed skin. Next were Cas’ pants, which Cas was already trying to wriggle out of, and Dean helped him the rest of the way. Cas then reached for the waistband of his boxers but Dean stopped him. 

“You don’t have to-” 

“‘S fine,” Cas muttered, already slipping the boxers down his thighs. 

Dean took a deep breath, his eyes found Cas’ and he held onto his gaze, wanting to look anywhere but there as he helped Cas fully remove his boxers. Now, Dean helped Cas stand, his hand brushing against Cas’ bare back, as he led him towards the full bathtub, and helped lower him down into the water. Cas hissed slightly as the cool water touched his skin but he soon relaxed. 

Dean searched for a washcloth and found one under the sink and, using water from the faucet, he ran cold water over the clean cloth and then returned to Cas. Dean perched himself on the edge of the bathtub and then pressed the cold compress to Cas’ forehead. The other man shuddered into the cloth as Dean gently dabbed at his face, wiping away the sweat that was glistening there. 

Dean squeezed some shampoo into the palm of his hand and then began to soap up Cas’ hair, letting his fingers run through the black strands. Cas hummed into Dean’s hands and he took his time, making sure every single hair was fluffed with soap suds. 

“I’m going to turn on the water again so we can get you washed off,” Dean said softly as he reached for the knob that would allow for water to flow through the faucet. Cas only grunted his understanding and once the cool water was running again, Dean cupped his hands under the stream and began to carefully wash out Cas’ hair.

 Cas was looking a little bit more alive when Dean finished washing his hair and so he stood up and said, “You look like you could use some soup, will you be okay here for a little while while I make you something?” 

Cas managed a bleak nod. “Thank you, Dean.” 

“Don’t mention it,” Dean replied. 

Leaving Cas to soak in the tub, Dean headed into Cas’ kitchen and began to rummage through his cabinets for some chicken soup. He came across a can in the back corner of one of the cabinets and then located a pot which he set down on top of the stove. Dean poured the soup into the pot and then stayed by its side while it slowly simmered and warmed. He stirred the chunky liquid occasionally so it wouldn’t burn, and then once he deemed it hot enough he turned off the burner and set it to cool before making his way back to the bathroom. 

Cas was still slumped in the tub, his head resting against the back wall as he dozed in and out of feverish consciousness. “Cas,” Dean said gently as he kneeled down by the tub, “let’s get you dried off and dressed, okay?” 

Cas cracked open his eyes and offered Dean a small smile. “Okay.” 

“I need you to tell me where some fresh clothes are,” Dean said. 

“Top drawer,” Cas mumbled. 

Dean pulled the plunger from the bottom of the tub so that it would drain while he was away and then said,  “Okay, I’ll be back in a moment.” 

Dean pulled open the top drawer of Cas’ dresser, gathered a pair of boxers, a long sleeve shirt, and some pajama pants, and then returned to the blue-eyed man in the bathtub. He placed the clothes on the chair and pulled a clean towel from a rung on the door. 

“Alright, up you get,” Dean said, hooking his hands under Cas’ armpits he helped the man stand and step out of the tub, upon which Dean quickly wrapped him up in the towel. 

He directed Cas towards the chair, picked up the clothes that were occupying it, and helped him sit down. Dean guided Cas through putting on his shirt and then assisted him in standing so he could step into his boxers. Finally, Cas was dressed and Dean walked slowly with him back to his bed, gently laying him down. 

“I’m going to get your soup, okay?” 

Cas nodded weakly and Dean quickly went to the kitchen, poured the contents of the pot into a bowl, and returned to Cas with the steaming soup. Cas took the bowl from him with shaking hands and Dean sat down on the edge of the bed, placing his hands over Cas’ on the bowl to steady them. 

“Nice and easy, okay, It’s hot,” Dean cautioned. Carefully, Cas raised the spoon to his mouth and swallowed the mouthful. Dean sat with him until he was done and then returned to the kitchen to do the dishes and fetch Cas a glass of water. 

When Dean returned, Cas looked up, his eyes half-slits as his gaze took him in. “Dean,” Cas coughed. 

“Yeah Cas?” 

“Thank you.” 

Dean smiled, a soft laugh escaping his lips. “You really have to stop apologizing.” 

“Only if you stop doing things that make me need to thank you,” Cas replied hoarsely. 

Dean chuckled and shook his head. “Why don’t you just get some rest, okay?” 

“Okay,” Cas breathed. 

Dean knew he should probably go back to his own apartment, he was damp from having helped Cas take a bath and he should change and get himself something to eat, he also had to call Bobby and inform him of Cas’ illness. Reluctantly, he began to stand, but he didn’t get far before Cas’ raspy voice stopped him in his tracks, a hand clasping around his wrist. “Dean.”

“Yeah?” 

“Stay.” 

Dean felt a smile quirk at the edges of his lips as he stared into those glassy blue eyes. He sank back onto the bed turning his hand up to catch Cas’ as it fell from his wrist. 

“Please stay,” Cas coughed. 

If you stay you’re only going to get more attached, Dean warned himself. I’m already attached, he countered his argument, I fucking left my bar to come see a man I’ve known for a week. 

Against his better judgement, Dean gave in. “Of course, of course I’ll stay, Cas.” Anything for you. Fuck, he really was a teenage girl with a crush.

Cas’ eyes drifted shut and he muttered, “Good,” as sleep finally claimed him. 

Dean still had to call Bobby, so he carefully extracted his hand from Cas’ and made to get up, but he paused, his eyes roaming over the sleeping figure of Castiel. Without thinking, Dean ran his hand through Cas’ thick black hair, bent forward, and kissed him on the forehead; hot skin touched his lips, making him extra-aware that Cas’ fever was still high. The feeling of Cas under his lips stayed with Dean as he went into the other room and picked up Cas’ phone. 

“Hello?” Came Bobby’s voice from the other side of the receiver. 

“Hey Bobby,” Dean replied. 

“What’s wrong?” Bobby asked, instantly suspicious. 

Dean laughed. “How’d you know?” 

Bobby scoffed and it crackled in Dean’s ear. “Boy I know you like I know my own name, so I'll ask again, what’s wrong?” 

Dean sighed. “It’s Cas - uh, the guy that I was going to bring to look at cars - yeah, he’s real sick Bobby, so we can’t make it this weekend.” 

Bobby was silent for a moment and Dean knew that he was putting together the pieces on the other end. “Well that’s a shame,” he said. 

“Yeah, so maybe next weekend, if he’s better,” Dean replied. 

“So, this Cas guy, are you and him-”

“No, Bobby, no,” Dean cut in. 

“But you want to be,” Bobby said. 

“I don’t know,” Dean replied. 

“Really? ‘Cause it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it.” 

He ran a hand down his face and sighed. “Look, I don’t know what’s happening between us, but my former Captain is certainly not the person I want to talk to about it. No offense.” 

“None taken,” Bobby replied. “Just be careful.” 

“I know, Bobby, I am.”

“I don’t want to see you get hurt from this, boy, you hear me?”

Dean sighed. “Yeah, yeah I hear you.”

“It’s one thing to be able to cover it up in the war, but in this world, if anyone finds out-”

“I know Bobby, believe me, I know.” Dean took a deep breath and then let it out in a huff. “I never did thank you for helping me out back then.” 

Memories flashed behind Dean’s eyes, the way he’d slipped up by staring at one of the handsomer new recruits, the feeling of the boy’s mouth on his as he pushed him up against an alley wall, the terror that surged through him when Bobby came around the corner asking for his help in loading a truck, and the pity that his Captain had taken on him when Dean had tried to explain. The only punishment Bobby had laid on him was to transfer the other boy to a different platoon ‘so you won’t get distracted again’, Bobby had said. There weren’t enough words to thank Bobby for allowing him to stay in his platoon, to keep him from being sent home, or worse. 

“Don’t mention it,” Bobby replied. 

“Yeah, well, I’ll see you next weekend then, if it works out,” Dean said. 

“Alright boy, see you then.” 

Bobby hung up with a click and then Dean returned to Cas’ room. The other man was sleeping fitfully, his breathing uneven as he whimpered and thrashed around on the bed, shivers gripping his body in waves. Dean didn’t think about what he did next - if he had he probably wouldn’t have done it - he slipped off his shoes and then moved over to the empty side of Cas’ bed and slid under the covers, taking a restless Castiel into his arms. 

“Shh, shh, it’s okay,” Dean said softly into Cas’ hair. “I’ve got you, it’s okay.” 

Cas stilled in Dean’s arms, his whimpers becoming soft cries. All Dean could do was hold him, whispering quietly to him as he fell into a deeper sleep.

Chapter Text

Cas woke to the feeling of something warm and sturdy pressed against his back. He blinked open his eyes, trying to see through the fever that was still holding him down. He was covered in sweat and chills swept through him like a wildfire, but that steady pressure behind him was comforting and he ached to know what it was. 

The moment Cas tried to shift in the bed he felt hands tighten around his midsection and he hitched in a breath. Someone was in bed with him. He tried not to panic, tried not to fear the worst, that he’d done something stupid in his feverish haze or that someone had broken in and done something to him . But the hands around him weren’t restricting, they were loose and tender, and so Cas rolled over, ignoring the sway of his vision as he did so. 

The person opposite him groaned and Cas forced his eyes to focus on him. Him . There, in his bed , was Dean. Even in the dim light of his room Cas could make out the broad shoulders, the curved jawline that was dotted with stubble, the freckles that were splayed across his cheeks like stars across the sky, the pink flushed lips, and the short brown hair; Dean fucking Winchester was in his apartment and was asleep beside him. 

Heart beating rapidly, Cas wracked his feverish brain for the details that had led to this moment. Everything was a blur, but he vaguely remembered Dean rushing into this room, making him soup, taking his temperature, helping him take a bath… Cas groaned; shit, Dean had helped him take a bath, that meant… shit. Cas wanted to disappear, he wanted to sink into his mattress and never come out. He took a few deep breaths, letting his embarrassment out with the air. Maybe this wasn’t all bad, Dean was in his bed , and Cas was in no way complaining, the strong arms around him, the heat from Dean’s body, the way his mouth was parted slightly as he slept; he looked so peaceful and Cas found himself shrugging off every ounce of common sense as he curled up against Dean, letting his warmth still the shivers that wanted to ripple through his body. 

Cas was just shutting his eyes again when Dean shifted beside him. Cas felt it the second Dean woke up, his whole body stiffened for a second and then he relaxed. Cas felt hands slip slowly away from him and then the bed was suddenly cold and Dean’s retreating footsteps could be heard as he carefully made his way out of the room. He wanted to call after him, wanted to tell him to come back, but instead he curled in on himself, another shiver taking root along his body as he pulled the blankets around himself, trying to hold in the heat that Dean’s body had given off. 

It had only been a few minutes, maybe longer, maybe shorter, Cas didn’t know, when Dean returned. The bed sagged as he sat back down and Cas chose then to blink open his eyes. 

“Cas, you’re awake,” Dean said in surprise, their eyes locking. 

“Yes,” Cas coughed, trying to clear the rasp in his voice. It didn’t seem to do anything when he spoke again. “What time is it?” 

Dean flicked his watch-clad wrist towards himself. “Just after four,” he replied. “You’ve only been asleep for two or so hours. I’ve put the kettle on in the kitchen to make you some tea, so that should be ready in a few minutes or so.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said. 

Dean smiled at him, eyes crinkling at the edges. “You’re welcome.” 

Cas felt guilt roll over in his stomach, Dean was here, with him, instead of working at his bar, he was giving up hours of his life to be at Cas’ apartment, to make him soup, and mother him. 

“Dean,” Cas rasped hoarsely. 

“Mm?” Dean hummed in response. 

“You don’t have to stay here, I’m sure you have much more pressing things to do than make me tea,” Cas said with difficulty. His throat felt as if someone had forced him to swallow sandpaper and every breath he took made him want to cough. 

Dean shook his head with a small smile. “Nah man, I’d rather be here with you.”

Cas couldn’t quite believe it, that Dean Winchester wanted to spend time with him, even though he was sick. “Really?” he asked, he had to make sure. 

“Yeah man, really.” 

“Why?” He had to know, he had to make sure that Dean wasn’t just saying things, that he really wanted to be here, that what he hoped might happen between them could actually be possible. 

Dean chuckled. “Because I like spending time with you, sick or not.” 

Cas narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Dean but was unable to ask any more questions as the kettle started to steam in the kitchen, sending the green-eyed man to his feet. Cas sighed and rolled over onto his back, eyes flicking up to the ceiling as he listened to Dean rummage around his kitchen; he couldn’t help thinking that he could get used to this. 

When Dean returned, two mugs of steaming liquid in his hands, Cas forced himself to sit up. He took a mug from Dean, their fingers brushed slightly during the exchange, and a shiver - that had nothing to do with his fever -  jerked his shoulders. He raised the hot mug to his lips and blew away some of the steam that was billowing up from the tea, Cas was conscious of Dean’s eyes on him and he tried to ignore it, but he couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face. 

“What?” he asked, a cloudy laugh pushing past his lips. 

Dean shrugged, instantly turning his attention to his own mug of tea. “Nothing.” 

Cas shifted beside Dean, hugging his tea to his chest. “Don’t say ‘nothing’ when there’s clearly something.” 

Dean’s eyes flicked to Cas’ for a brief moment before he became fascinated with his mug again. “Really, it’s nothing.”

“Hmph,” Cas grunted as he blew at his tea again. 

Dean sat back against the headboard of Cas’ bed with a sigh. “But I do have something else to tell you,” he said. 

“And that is?” Cas asked. 

“I kind of, sort of, might have, kicked in your door when you didn’t answer, so you need a new door,” Dean replied. Cas could see the guilt and embarrassment creeping up Dean’s neck, towards his cheeks. 

Cas couldn’t stop the laugh that came out of his mouth, although it shortly turned into a cough. “You, kicked down my door?” he wheezed. 

“Yeah.”

“Seriously?” Cas couldn’t keep his chest from shaking as he tried to keep the coughs at bay.

“I was worried about you, okay?” Dean defended himself. “I fully intend to buy you a new door.”

Cas chuckled. “I’ve never had anyone kick in a door for me before,” he said quietly. 

“Well there’s a first time for everything,” Dean replied, his green eyes locked on Cas’ blue ones. 

Cas felt himself melting into Dean’s eyes and he forced himself to look away, back down at his mug. He took a tentative sip of the tea and the said, “Dean, can I ask you something?” 

Cas looked up for a split second to see a smile wash across Dean’s face. “Yeah of course.”

“Why do you care about me so much?” 

Cas watched Dean blow softly at his tea, as he considered Cas’ question. “You’re a very hard person not to care about, Cas,” Dean said after a minute. “The second I looked at you… I just… I felt like we were connected. When I heard you were sick, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I can’t really explain it, I just care .” 

Something stirred in Cas’ chest and he reached out a hand to cover one of Dean’s. Dean looked down at their hands and then back up at Cas. “Thank you.” 

Dean sniffed and then pulled away from Cas. “Yeah, well I have that door situation to fix, so I think I’ll go do that.” 

“You don’t have to leave, Dean,” Cas said. 

Dean smirked at Cas. “As I recall, there is a couch in your living room, you don’t have to stay in here .” 

“This is true,” Cas laughed. 

Cas began to move from the bed, but he was soon overcome by a coughing fit. Concern instantly flashed across Dean’s face and he quickly dropped down in front of Cas. “Cas, you okay?” 

Cas continued to cough, his lungs were asking for air but he simply couldn’t give it to them. Dean’s arms wrapped around Cas and he felt himself leaning into the touch. 

“I got you, breathe,” Dean said soothingly. 

Cas gasped as finally got a breath of air into his screaming lungs and then he just sat there, enveloped in Dean’s touch and warmth as he recovered from his coughing fit. 

“You good?” Dean asked after a moment. 

Cas nodded. “I think so.”

“You don’t have to move,” Dean said. 

“I should,” Cas replied. “Moving would be good for me.” 

“If you think you can,” Dean said. 

“I can,” Cas grunted. 

“Alright, well let me help you.” 

Dean stood up and lifted Cas gently to his feet. Cas let his legs take his weight but they began to buckle under him almost instantly, leaving Dean to catch him. “You’re okay,” Dean said as he wrapped a hand around Cas’ waist. 

He let Dean guide him out of the room and towards the couch, where he was then carefully placed upon the sagging cushions. Dean draped a blanket over him and and then moved over to the door to assess the damage. 

“How’s she looking?” Cas asked from the couch, another sip of his tea sliding down his throat. 

Dean turned towards Cas and clasped his hands together, taking on a solemn expression. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to operate.”

Cas’ eyebrows crinkled in mock worry. “That bad huh?” 

Dean shook his head. “No sir, it’s not as bad as you think. I do believe that she has a full chance of a healthy recovery.” 

“You do?” 

“Yes, but we’re going to need a transplant and I need you to tell me where some basic tools are so I can begin the procedure.” 

Cas’ lips split into a smile and he coughed out another laugh. “Under the sink.” 

Dean nodded. “Thank you.” 

Cas heard Dean moving around under the sink until he located the toolbox Cas kept there. When he returned into Cas’ line of sight, he had rolled up his sleeves and developed a very calculating expression. Dean set down the toolbox, flicked it open, and began to search for something inside it; he came back up a moment later with a screwdriver in hand and then took a few steps towards the door. He turned back to look at Cas, a grim look on his face. 

“Sir, you may not want to watch this, surgeries like these can get very gruesome,” Dean warned. 

“I think I can handle it Doctor,” Cas replied. 

Dean nodded sharply. “Alright then, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” 

Cas watched as Dean stepped up to the door’s hinges and began to unscrew the screws that were attaching the door to the wall. Cas drew in a breath as Dean pulled off the first hinge and the door sagged in the doorway, he then did the same to the middle one, causing the door to creak. Dean glanced back towards Cas, screwdriver gripped tightly in his hand. 

“How you doing over there?” he asked.

“I’m managing,” Cas replied. 

“This next part is where it’s going to be a bit rough. We’re going to have to dislodge the patient from the frame. Are you prepared for that?” 

Cas nodded bleakly. “I think so.” 

“Alright then, commencing the final part of the surgery.” 

Cas’ eyes followed Dean as he bent down and began to unscrew the final hinge, he brought his hands up to wrap around the door frame and then turned to look dramatically at Cas. “Prepare yourself for extraction.” 

Cas gripped the side of the couch and nodded stiffly at Dean. “I’m ready.” 

“Extracting in 3, 2, 1,” Dean yanked the door sideways, causing it to fall away from the hinges. Cas turned his head away and let out a small noise. Dean was quickly by his side. “Was it too much? I warned you this was going to be painful.” 

Cas met Dean’s eyes and pretended to wipe away tears. “No, no I’m fine. I just needed a moment.” 

“Of course, understandable,” Dean replied. 

“How long will it be until you have the transplant?” Cas asked, feigning a wobble in his voice.

“I was just about to tell you that I’m going to have to run out to the store down the street for the transplant, I should only be gone for a little while, I’ll have a new key made up for you as well.” 

Cas nodded. “Alright, but you better hurry, I don’t know how much longer she’s going to last.” 

“I’ll be back before you even know I was gone,” Dean promised. 

 

True to his word, Dean was back within twenty minutes, carrying a new door. “I’m going to begin the transplant now, bear with me.” 

Cas watched Dean take out the old door jam and plug in a new one, he then positioned the door in the frame and began to screw in the hinges. Finally, it was done, and Dean stood up, wiping his hands on his pants. He shut the door and it closed with a satisfactory click.  “The surgery is finished,” he declared. “The transplant went as planned, there were no complications. Door-y Novak will make a full recovery, as predicted.” 

Cas bit back a laugh. “Thank you, Doctor Winchester.”

Dean shoved a hand into his pocket and produced two shiny new keys. “The surgery will have been for nothing if you can’t get into your apartment,” he said as he handed Cas the keys. 

Cas pushed one of them back towards Dean. “You keep that one, that way you don’t have to kick down my door again if it’s locked.” 

Dean stared at the key in his open palm. “Are you sure?” 

“I think you deserve it, after everything you’ve done for me,” Cas replied. 

Dean pocketed the key with a smile. “Thanks, Cas.” 

Cas grinned up at Dean. “You’re welcome.” 

Dean cleared his throat, diffusing the sappy situation. “Is there, uh, anything you need right now?” 

Cas shrugged. “I don’t know. You could go check my mailbox if you want, but other than that, not really.” 

“I’ll go check your mail, be back in a flash.” 

Dean disappeared through the newly replaced door and Cas sighed to himself as another shiver spread through him. When Dean returned he was carrying three envelopes. “Two of them are bills,” Dean announced, plopping the two said envelopes onto the table beside Cas. 

“And the other one?” Cas asked. 

Dean held it out for Cas to take. “It’s from someone named Balthazar.” 

Balthazar . Cas quickly reached out and took the envelope from Dean, tearing into the paper with eagerness. Cas could feel Dean watching him, curious and maybe just a little bit wary. He unfolded the letter inside the envelope and let his eyes take in the words on the page.




October 30th, 1959

Cassie,

  I hope these past years have been treating you kindly, I know we haven’t written to each other as much as we promised we would. I think it’s been about two years since I last wrote to you, and I’m sorry about that, but I’m writing now. 

I wanted to let you know that I will be stateside on December 7th and I was wondering if you wanted to catch up. I’ll be visiting family in Chicago, but I can easily make my way to Kansas. 

Please write me back soon, I miss you, Cassie. 

~ Bal

 

Cas set the letter down with a chuckle. “Oh Balthazar.” 

“So, you gonna fill me in, or do I have to guess?”

Cas pushed himself further into a sitting position. “Balthazar’s a war buddy.” 

“Ah,” Dean nodded in understanding. 

“Balthazar and I… we…” Cas trailed off, not quite sure how to continue.

“Were you two… together…?” Dean asked.

There was something in Dean’s voice, something that sounded almost like… jealousy?

“Kind of, but not really,” Cas replied. “It’s hard to explain.” 

“I have all day,” Dean said as he sat down next to Cas on the couch. 

“If you really want to know, I'll tell you, but I don’t want you to feel like you have to stay and listen to my war stories just because I’m sick.”

“Cas,” Dean reached out and Cas felt his hand slide over his. “I’m staying because I want to.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” Dean’s hand retreated from Cas’ and he found himself wanting to follow it, but he stopped himself in favor of continuing his story. “Balthazar’s a few years older than me, and he took me under his wing when my platoon met up with his. I was just a scared kid, nineteen years old, but Batlhazar was there to help me adjust to soldier life.” Cas paused to cough and Dean’s hand moved to his back, rubbing small circles there to ease his way through the fit. Cas took a breath and kept going, “Balthazar and I, we used each other to… you know, blow off some steam, we knew about each other’s sexuality, but we were never together in a relationship. We’re good friends.” 

“I see,” Dean said. “So there’s nothing for me to worry about then.” 

Cas squinted at Dean in confusion. “What do you mean?” His stomach twisted into a knot, Dean couldn’t possibly… 

“I think you know what I mean,” Dean said in a whisper. His hand moved from Cas’ back to his face where he brushed aside Cas’ bangs from where they were obscuring his eyes. 

“I… I don’t…” Cas stammered, his heart thrumming against his ribcage. Another shiver went through Cas’ shoulders, and again, he knew it wasn’t caused by the fever. Their eyes were locked, Dean’s green irises filled up Cas’ gaze and it took all his effort not to...

It happened so fast, one minute Dean was away from him, the next, he was leaning towards him, eyes flicking from Cas’ eyes to his lips, his tongue slipped out to wet his lips and then Cas felt pressure against his mouth. Surprise made him flinch, but he quickly relaxed, letting Dean deepen the kiss. Dean’s hands were in Cas’ hair and Cas was holding onto Dean’s shoulders for dear life. 

Cas was the first to pull away as a cough bubbled from his mouth. “I’m sorry,” Dean said, instantly worried. 

Cas waved him off, as his coughing fit subsided. “Don’t apologize for that.”

Dean had just kissed him, Dean Winchester, had just kissed him.

Dean’s fingers knitted together as he focused on them. “Then that wasn’t completely out of line? I’ve been reading the right signals?” 

Cas smiled, a laugh flying from his chest. “Yes. Definitely reading the right signals.”

A loopy grin touched Dean’s eyes. “Good.” 

Dean felt the same way about him, he wasn’t crazy. 

“I just hope you realize that you kissed a sick man, so if you get sick from me, that’s on you.” 

Dean shrugged, green eyes bright. “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Dean leaned forward and kissed Cas again, quickly this time, before he stood up. Cas already ached for him to come back. 

“Where are you going?” he asked. 

“Well, I’m famished, so I thought I’d cook us up some food, what have got in your fridge?”

“Nothing good,” Cas replied. 

“Well I’m sure I can find something,” Dean said. 

“While you’re up, can you get me a pen and paper so I can reply to Balthazar?” Cas asked. 

“Yeah sure thing.” Dean located a pad of paper and a pen on Cas’ kitchen table and then brought them over to Cas. “Do you require anything else, your highness?” 

Cas grinned up at Dean. “No. Thank you my handsome prince.” 

Dean kissed Cas’ forehead. “You’re welcome, angel.” 

Cas crooked an eyebrow at him. “Angel?” 

Dean blushed and let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, well, Meg was right, you are kind of angelic, it’s probably your eyes.” 

Angel, Cas liked the sound of that, and he didn’t really know why, but he could get used to it. 

“Well if I’m an angel, then what are you?” Cas asked. 

“A demon, obviously,” Dean replied with a smirk, as if it should have been obvious. 

“Oh, right,” Cas laughed. “An angel and a demon.” 

“A match made in heaven, or is it hell?” Dean said with a chuckle. 

“I don’t think it matters,” Cas replied. 

“Well, I have some food to make, and you have a letter to write,” Dean said as he backed away towards the kitchen. 

Cas’ eyes lingered on Dean for a moment as he bent down to look in the fridge, but when Dean stood up, he turned his attention to the blank paper in front of him. 

“Oh, by the way, I moved our meet with my former Captain to next weekend,” Dean said as he pulled a cutting board from one of the cabinets. 

“Oh shit, I forgot about that,” Cas said.

“Don’t worry about it, it’s all taken care of, Bobby sends his well wishes.” 

Cas’ heart felt like it was about to overflow with gratitude for the man in his kitchen. “Thank you.” Dean grunted in response and Cas turned back to his paper and began to write. 

 

November 10th, 1959

Bal,

It’s good to hear from you! These past years haven’t exactly been kind, but I will fill you in on everything when I see you, because of course I want to see you, Balthazar. We’ve both been busy so don’t feel bad about not writing, don’t forget that I haven’t been writing to you either.

I miss you too, Bal, so please do come and visit. 

~Cas

P.S. I thought I told you to stop calling me Cassie.

 

Cas folded up the letter and set it aside on his coffee table next to Balthazar’s letter. “All finished?” Dean asked. 

“Yup,” Cas replied. 

“I can find you an envelope if you want,” Dean offered. 

Cas shook his head. “No, you’re busy, I’ll get one.” 

Cas pushed himself to his feet, with some difficulty, and then headed towards a small table-like piece of furniture where he kept envelopes in a drawer. He located one and a stamp and then headed back to the couch, he placed the letter inside and sealed the envelope with a couple licks before he began to write the addresses on the back. 

“So, what are you cooking over there?” Cas asked once he’d finished with his letter. 

“I’m making you vegetable soup,” Dean replied. “You had a lot of vegetables in your fridge that were nearing the end of their lives, so I decided to put them out of their misery.” 

Cas laughed. “And you’re making this from… scratch?” 

“It’s Benny’s recipe,” Dean replied. “But I’m told I do it justice.”

“So, is this a menu option at The Winchester Tavern?” Cas asked. 

“It is, so if you want it again, all you have to do is visit me across the street,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll keep that in mind.” 

 

The soup was good, to say the least, he had two bowls and Dean couldn’t stop smiling at him. 

“What?” Cas asked indignantly as he fished for a carrot in his bowl. 

“You’re just kind of cute when you’re sick,” Dean replied, his gaze traveled over Cas’ face fondly. 

Cas blushed as he smiled at his soup. “Well, you’re kind of cute, always, so…” he mumbled, not meeting Dean’s gaze.. 

“Is that so?” Dean asked, a sliver of laughter in his voice. 

Cas sniffed, another cough trying to work its way up his throat. “Yup. It’s a fact.” 

Dean chuckled and Cas felt his arm slide across his shoulders; he leaned into Dean’s arms. Yeah, this was something that Cas could definitely get used to. 

Chapter Text

Cas fell asleep in Dean’s arms, his head resting gently under Dean’s chin, black hair tickling his nose. He wanted to stay like this forever, wrapped in Castiel’s warmth, but he knew he couldn’t; he had to go home, just for an hour or so, to shower and change into some fresh clothes. So, against everything in his thoughts telling him not to, Dean carefully untangled himself from the sleeping figure underneath him, placed a kiss on top of his head, and moved quietly towards the door, careful not to wake him. 

He shut the new door with a click and as he headed down the hallway he couldn’t stop the smile that broke out on his face. He couldn’t believe it, Cas felt the same way about him, he’d kissed Cas. In one fleeting moment of weakness he’d actually kissed Castiel and Cas had reciprocated. Dean wasn’t quite sure how it had happened, but he wasn’t about to complain. Every smile, every fleeting flick of Cas’ eyes as they followed him, every touch -if only for a moment- had meant something, he wasn’t delusional. 

Dean crossed the street, a skip to his step, and took the stairs to his apartment room two at a time. He’d decided, somewhere between the hallway and the road, that he wasn’t going to take his time, he was going to shower, change, and get back to Cas as fast as he could. 

He practically started stripping as soon as the door shut behind him, already shirtless and shoe-less by the time he entered the bathroom. The hot water faucet squeaked when he turned it on and he waited a few seconds for the water to warm up before he removed the rest of his clothes and climbed into the shower. He washed his body quickly and then soaped up his hair. The very recent memory of Cas’ own soapy hair underneath his fingers surfaced in Dean’s mind, but he pushed it away, forcing himself to focus on his own showering endeavors. 

He was done showering in record time and rushed to find himself some clean clothes. Once he was dressed, he paused in front of a small duffel bag he kept rolled up under his bed. 

“Screw it,” Dean muttered. 

He pulled the bag from under the bed and tossed a pair of pajamas, a new set of clothes for tomorrow, and a toothbrush into the bag, before zipping it up, shouldering it, and practically booking it out of his apartment and back to Cas’, ignoring the biting wind as it whipped at his damp hair. 

He slowed his steps as he drew closer to Cas’ apartment door, steadying his rapidly beating heart with a few breaths. A fresh new 104 glinted at him in the light of the hallway as Dean pushed the door open. Cas was sitting on the couch, awake, when Dean entered the room. 

“Where were you?” Cas rasped. 

“I ran back to my apartment for a minute, to shower and grab some stuff,” Dean replied as he let his duffel bag fall to the ground with a thud. He scratched sheepishly at his drying hair. “I meant to leave you a note, telling you where I went. I’m sorry.” 

Cas shook his head. “It’s okay.” Dean watched Cas’ eyes travel to the ground, landing on his bag, and he felt his cheeks begin to burn. “You brought a bag,” Cas said slowly. Dean could practically see the gears turning in Cas’ head.

“I didn’t mean anything by it, Cas,” Dean said as he took a step towards the couch. “I just wanted to be prepared, in case I ended up staying here late tonight.” 

Cas canted his head to the side. “That’s very thoughtful of you, Dean.”

Dean smiled, finally sitting down on the couch with Cas. “I just… I don’t feel comfortable with you being here all alone, while you’re sick, so I wanted to…” Dean licked his lips and rubbed his hands nervously on his pant legs. “I wanted to put the option out there for you if you wanted me to… to stay.” 

Cas’ pale lips split into a grin. “Of course I want you to stay, Dean.” 

“You do?” Dean asked. 

“Yes.” Cas broke away from looking at Dean to cough, bringing his arm up to cover his mouth. Dean acted on instinct, massaging Cas’ back to help him get through the fit. “Thank you,” Cas gasped. 

“You know,” Dean said softly, “we should probably take your temperature again, see if it went down.” 

Cas nodded. “You’re right, we should.” 

“I’ll fetch the thermometer, you just sit tight.” 

Dean walked quickly to the bathroom, located the thermometer on the side of the sink, and then returned to Cas, brandishing the stick above his head. “Got it!” 

“I can see that.” 

Dean plopped down beside Cas. “Alright, open up.” 

Cas obliged and Dean placed the thermometer under Cas’ tongue. He watched the hands tick by on his wristwatch and once they hit the minute mark Dean removed the thermometer. “Well?” Cas asked. 

“101.1,” Dean replied. 

“Well, it went down, so that’s good.” 

“Yes, that is good,” Dean agreed. “Hopefully it’ll be completely gone by tomorrow.” 

“Hopefully,” Cas choked out as he coughed again.

“I think you need some more tea,” Dean said. “I’ll fix you some.” 

Squeezing Cas’ shoulder as he stood up, Dean made his way to the kitchen and began to boil some water. He heard Cas shift on the couch and when he turned around, he saw blue eyes peering up at him from behind the back of the couch. 

“What?” Dean asked as he set a mug on the table. 

“Nothing,” Cas replied. “Just, thank you.” 

“We’ve been over this, what, nine times already? It’s no trouble, stop thanking me,” Dean replied as he ripped open a tea packet that said “Throat Coat” and pulled the tea bag out from inside the folded paper. He plopped the bag of leaves in the mug and then leaned against the counter to wait for the water to boil. Cas slipped back behind the couch to lay down and Dean drummed his fingers against the counter in impatience. When the kettle finally started to hiss at him he pulled it from the stove and poured the steaming water into the mug before mixing in some honey. 

Cas sat up when Dean came around the corner of the couch with the mug held aloft. “One cup of tea your highness,” he said as he kneeled dramatically on the ground and presented the mug to Cas as if it were made of gold.

Cas cracked a grin and chuckled as he took the tea from Dean. “Thank you.” 

Dean heaved himself onto the couch next to Cas as he began to sip slowly from his mug. They sat in silence, Dean taking in every inch of Cas and Cas focusing solely on his tea. “What time is it?” Cas asked after about five minutes as he looked up from his half empty mug. 

Dean glanced at his watch. “Just after eight.” 

Cas yawned. “Wow. It’s earlier than I thought.” 

“Are you tired, do you want to go to bed?” Dean asked. 

“Yes, I think I would like to go to bed, but after I finish my tea.”

Dean nodded. “Sure.” Dean thought for a second before asking, “Do you want me to stay or do you want me to go?” 

“I told you before, I want you to stay,” Cas replied. 

“I’m just making sure that it’s really what you want.” 

“It is.” 

“Okay.” 

Cas finished off his tea and Dean took the mug to the kitchen and placed it in the sink, he’d wash it later. Cas was already in his bedroom when Dean turned around, he heard Cas turn on the water in the bathroom and so he plucked his bag from the floor and headed into Cas’ room. 

He fished his toothbrush from the depths of the duffel and then joined Cas in the bathroom. Cas looked up as he entered, toothbrush sticking from his mouth, he eyed Dean’s own toothbrush with an impressed look. “You really came prepared, didn’t you?” 

Dean shrugged. “You can never be too precautious.” Dean squirted some toothpaste on his toothbrush and then popped it into his mouth. 

Once their teeth were brushed Dean changed into his pajamas and come out of the bathroom to see Cas climbing into his bed. Dean hovered in the doorway. “Goodnight Cas,” he said. “I’ll be on the couch if you need me.” 

“Dean.” Cas’ voice halted Dean from moving into the next room. “You don’t have to sleep on the couch.”

Dean faltered slightly as he took a tentative step forward. “If you’re sure.” 

“I think after what happened today, it would be rude of me to make you sleep on the couch,” Cas said as another shiver slipped through him. 

Dean felt his heart skitter against his chest and he smiled. “I just didn’t want to assume anything.” 

“Just get over here,” Cas said through a grin. 

Dean moved over to the empty side of the bed and pulled back the covers. The second he was laying down, Cas gravitated towards him, resting his head on Dean’s chest. Cas blinked up at Dean, his blue eyes shining a bit brighter since they had been when Dean had first found him. “Goodnight, Dean.” 

Dean kissed Cas gently, even sick, Cas’ lips were smooth and warm. “Goodnight, Cas.” 

Cas snuggled up tighter against Dean and he wrapped his arms around Cas, allowing himself to drift off into sleep. 

****

Dean woke up to see pale sunlight slicing through the curtain of Cas’ bedroom. A quick glance to the clock on Cas’ bedside table told him that it was seven thirty. Seven thirty? Dean couldn’t fully believe what his eyes were seeing, he’d slept for a whole eleven hours, without a single nightmare. Cas was still sleeping against his shoulder and Dean smiled down at him. He wanted to skip work today, he really did, but he owed Benny an explanation for his abrupt departure yesterday, and with a new worker under his employment he should be there to oversee her first couple of days on the job. And so, Dean pulled himself from the warmth of Cas’ bed and began to get dressed in the clothes he brought. 

He was just zipping up his jacket when Cas stirred in the bed and blinked open his eyes with a yawn. “Where are you going?” he asked sleepily.

“Work,” Dean replied.

“Oh.” Dean saw a look of slight sadness flicker across Cas’ face. 

“I’m sorry man, but I left quickly yesterday and I can’t miss today, I’d stay if I could, cross my heart.” 

“No, I understand,” Cas said. 

“I’ll leave early again, but if you need me, call, okay?” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.”

“Take your temperature again too, and don’t forget to drink water.” 

Cas rolled his eyes. “Dean, I’m not a child.” 

Dean’s gaze softened. “I know, sorry.” 

Cas waved him off. “It’s okay. Now go on, you’ve got places to be.” 

“Bye, angel,” Dean said as he swooped forward and kissed Cas quickly on the lips. “I’ll drop by after I get off work.” 

Cas smiled, their faces inches apart. “I’ll hold you to that.” 

Dean grinned, kissed Cas one more time, and then headed out of the apartment. He crossed the street to his Cadillac and then put the car in drive and began his commute to The Winchester Tavern. He pulled into the parking lot behind his bar and got out to see Benny waiting for him outside the door, key in his hand. 

“Good, you didn’t lose it,” Dean said, unable to hide the relief in his voice. 

“Of course I didn’t lose it,” Benny replied with a shake of his head. He tossed the key to Dean and he caught it deftly.

Moving past Benny, Dean unlocked the bar and let himself inside, with Benny close behind him. Dean did a quick sweep, his eyes grazing over the counter top and the neatly swept floor. 

“Is it to your liking?” Benny asked as Dean ran a hand over his bar counter.

Dean frowned in approval. “Not bad Lafitte.” He wasn’t about to completely admit that Benny had done a pretty excellent job of cleaning and closing up his bar.

“Oh, ‘not bad’,” Benny laughed. “That’s better than I was expecting.”

With a shake of his head, and a smile tipping the corners of his lips up at the edges, Dean pulled out his apron and tied it around his waist; taking his rag from his pocket he began to wipe down the counter. 

“So, are you going to tell me what all that was yesterday?” Benny asked. 

Dean shrugged. “Maybe.”

Benny sighed. “Come on brother, you’ve never left the bar in anyone’s hands but your own, I want to know what caused the great Dean Winchester to go running off like that.” 

Dean shrugged again, unsure if he should tell Benny about Cas, he was after all his best friend and he knew of Dean’s sexual alignment. Opting for a vague version of the truth Dean said, “It was someone.” 

Benny’s eyebrows shot up. “Is everything okay? It wasn’t Sam, was it?” 

Dean shook his head. “No, Sam’s fine, this is, someone… new.” 

“Oh?” Benny asked. “Is it a girl?” 

Dean laughed. He was going to make Benny work for this. “Try again.” 

A knowing look came over Benny’s face. “Ah, it’s a boy!”

“And we have a winner!” Dean exclaimed. 

“What do I win?” Benny asked, a boyish glint to his eyes. 

“The ability to keep your employment,” Dean replied. 

Benny chuckled. “I’ll take that, chief.” Benny pushed himself down onto one of the bar stools and his eyes followed Dean as he swept over the counter with his rag. “So, what’s his name?” 

“Cas.” 

“Cas, huh? Wait, not the Cas that’s working at the bakery across the street, is it that Cas?” Benny asked. 

“The one and only,” Dean replied with a grin. He looked up from wiping the counter and asked, “Have you been visiting the bakery?” 

“After work I usually get something sweet from other there, yeah,” Benny answered. “Garth won’t shut up about Cas and his pies.” 

Dean laughed. “Damn right he won’t, that’s how I met Cas’ acquaintance in the first place.” 

“I see.” Benny re-situated himself on the stool and leaned forward on the counter. “So, what was the nature of the emergency yesterday?” 

Dean turned his back on Benny to polish a glass. “He’s sick.” 

“Bad?” Benny asked, slight worry in his tone. 

“He had a high fever last night, over 102,” Dean replied. “But I forced it down a bit with a cool bath and he’s doing a lot better.” 

“I’m sure, with you looking out for him.” 

Dean felt his cheeks burn at Benny’s slight praise. He placed the glass he’d been polishing on its shelf and then, once his blush was gone, he turned around. “So, how was Alex’s first day?” 

“She did fine, she’s a natural,” Benny replied. 

“So I should keep her on?” Dean asked. 

“Definitely, and she Jo get along great as well.”

“That’s great.” 

“I told Alex to come back around noon again today,” Benny said. 

“Good.” 

Dean and Benny were interrupted as Ellen and Jo entered the bar. “Morning gentlemen,” Ellen said. “Back from your adventures, Dean?” 

Dean chuckled. “Yeah, sorry I had to run on you guys like that.” 

“No worries,” Ellen replied, a sweet smile touching her eyes. 

“And how are you this morning, Jo?” Dean asked, turning to the blond. 

Jo blushed. “I’m great, thanks, you?” 

“Awesome,” Dean replied. Dean straightened and clapped his hands together. “Well, we’ve all got some things to do before we open, so let’s get to it everyone!” Benny and Ellen moved off to the kitchen and Jo and Dean began to replenish napkins and condiments on the tables. 

 

Alex arrived at noon just as Benny said she was going to and she joined Jo with waiting tables. Every table but two were filled and Dean was happy to hear the sound of cutlery against plates and laughter filling his bar. 

The door chimed at 12:15 and Dean looked up to see who had chosen to come inside. His mouth dropped open at the woman who was walking across the room towards him, waving aside Jo by saying, “I’ll sit at the bar, thank you.” 

She sat down directly in front of Dean, her long brown hair framing her face and her teeth gleaming white as she smiled at him. She was still as beautiful as she’d been all those years ago when he’d left to go off to fight for his country. “Lisa,” Dean breathed out. 

Lisa’s smile faltered a fraction. “Hi Dean.” 

Dean composed himself, his muscles stiffening. “What are you doing here?” 

“What, I’m not allowed to come into a bar for a drink?” Lisa asked. 

“No, I mean, what are you doing in Lawrence?” 

“Visiting my parents,” Lisa replied. “My mother’s ill and I came down to help my father take care of her.” 

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Dean said. He wasn’t sure if he was actually sorry or if his words were just a formality; he’d decide later, but it was probably the latter. 

Lisa sighed. “Look, I know we didn’t exactly leave each other on the right foot, but-”

“Damn right we didn’t,” Dean growled in an interruption. 

Lisa’s jaw clenched and she let out another sigh. “I’m sorry.” 

“Fourteen years, fourteen years and now you’re sorry,” Dean scoffed. “Yeah, I don’t think so. Now if you’re not going to order anything, then kindly get out of my bar.” 

“Dean,” Lisa said as Dean began to turn around. “Please just hear me out.” 

Dean’s shoulders sagged in defeat and he turned to face Lisa again. “Spit it out then, and make it quick, I have things to do.” 

“I didn’t want to leave you.” 

“Oh really? Then why did you?” Dean asked sharply. 

“My parents made me,” Lisa replied evenly. 

“And you’re just telling me this now. Fourteen years Lisa, fourteen fucking years and you could have told me this any time, but you’re choosing now.” He dragged a hand down his face and took a deep breath, before meeting Lisa’s pretty brown gaze again. “Why?” 

“You remember the day you left, right?” Lisa asked. 

Dean knew she was avoiding the question but he decided to play along. “Yes, I remember that day, as if it was yesterday.” 

 

Dean stepped into the train station, bag hanging from his hand, uniform done up tightly, cap straightened on his head, jaw set in determination. He felt his stomach bubble with excitement, and just a little bit of fear. 

“Dean?” Sam’s voice made Dean jerk his head to find his fourteen year old brother, standing beside him. 

“Yeah Sammy?” 

“Be careful out there, okay?” 

“I will, and I’ll come home Sam, don’t worry,” Dean replied as he ruffled Sam’s long shaggy hair. 

“Promise?” Sam asked. 

“I promise,” Dean replied. “And I’ll write whenever I get the chance, okay?” 

Sam nodded. “Okay.” 

A sharp hand on Dean’s shoulder made him aware that his father had caught up with them. “Make me proud, son,” John said. 

Dean met his father’s stiff gaze. “I will, Dad.” 

John nodded and clapped Dean hard on the back, causing Dean to stiffen. “Good. Now hurry up and catch your train.” 

Dean pulled Sam into one last hug. “Be good okay?” 

“I will,” Sam replied with a sniff. 

“Bitch,” Dean said as he tried to control the tears that wanted to drop from his eyes. 

“Jerk,” Sam replied. Unlike Dean he as unable to stop the tears that slipped down his chin. 

Dean brought his thumb up to Sam’s face and wiped them away. “Stay strong, you hear me?” 

Sam nodded and squared his shoulders, his expression becoming slightly braver. “I will.” 

“Good.” Dean smiled at Sam and then turned his back on his family and headed towards the train.

 He craned his neck around all the people in the station, families were saying goodbye to each other and children were running between legs with excited shrieks; where was she?

“Dean! Dean!” 

Dean spun around, the worry in his chest quickly disappearing. “Lisa,” he said with a smile. Lisa ran into Dean’s arms and he hugged her tightly. “I thought you weren’t going to make it,” he said into her hair.

Lisa pulled away from Dean, tears in her eyes. “I thought so too, for a minute.” 

Dean smiled sadly at her, taking in every inch of her face, memorizing her soft features, knowing he wouldn’t see it again for a long time. “I’m going to miss you so much.” 

Lisa sniffed and wiped away her tears. “Dean,” she said, a small strangled sound came out of her mouth and she shut her eyes to more tears. 

“Hey, what is it?” Dean asked softly, brushing away one of her tears as he had done moments ago with Sam. 

“I-” Lisa struggled to speak. 

“Just breathe Lis, in and out okay, everything’s going to be fine,” Dean reassured her. 

Lisa took in a shuddering breath. “Dean, I… I think we should break up.” 

Dean stared at Lisa dumbfounded. Had he heard her right? Did she just say she wanted to- “Break up?” Dean echoed.

Lisa nodded. “I’m sorry Dean, I just… I can’t do this. I’m sorry.” 

“But… but everything’s going just fine with us, why now?” Dean asked, hurt and confusion fighting for dominance in his voice. 

“I know, it is, was, it’s just… I can’t be the girlfriend that keeps waiting for a letter that doesn’t come. I can’t do that Dean, I can’t.” Lisa was trembling now, her bottom lip wobbled as more tears dropped from the banks of her eyes. 

“This is about me going off to war?” Dean reiterated. “Lis, I’m going to be fine-”

“But what if you’re not,” Lisa broke in. “I can’t take that chance Dean, I can’t stand the not knowing everyday, planning a life we might never get to have while you’re getting shot at, it’s too much.” 

Dean gripped Lisa by the shoulders, steadying her. “Lisa, I’m going to come home, that’s a promise; we can have that life, we can get married, we can have a family.” 

Lisa shook her head, more tears falling to the floor. “No.” 

Dean straightened up, hurt tightening his gut. “Why not?” 

“Even if you do come back alive, you’re going to be different, you won’t be my Dean, this Dean, right here,” Lisa placed a hand on Dean’s chest. “You’ll be war torn and scarred. I can’t lose you to the Dean that is going to be born in the mud over there, I can’t. I… I won’t.” 

“So you think it’s just better to cut ties with me completely?” Dean asked bitterly. 

“At least I know who I’m leaving, not who I’ll get as a replacement if you come home,” Lisa replied coolly through a sniff. 

Dean’s jaw clenched in anger and disappointment. “Fine, if that’s really how you want it.” 

Lisa nodded. “It is.” 

“Right well then, I guess this is goodbye,” Dean said, his words felt empty. 

“I guess so.” 

Dean took Lisa in one last time before he stepped away and boarded the train. He found Benny in a compartment that looked out onto the platform. “Lisa looks upset,” Benny said as he tore his eyes from the window when Dean entered the compartment. 

“We broke up,” Dean replied monotonously. 

“Why?” Benny asked in shock. 

“She deserves better than the man I fear I might become overseas,” Dean replied. He didn’t know when he’d decided he was going to lie to Benny but he wasn’t going back now. 

“That’s kind of harsh, chief, don’t you think?” 

Dean shook his head, expression stone cold. “No, I don’t think it is.” 

The train pulled away and Dean watched as Lisa turned from the platform. Sam waved frantically at him and he returned the wave, but only half-heartedly. 

 

“I said some things,” Lisa said, bringing Dean back from his memories. 

“You said a lot of things,” Dean retorted. 

“I know, and I’m sorry, but they weren’t my words, they were my mothers-” 

“Well, for words that weren’t yours they sure as hell made it out of your mouth like they were,” Dean snapped. 

Lisa visibly tensed, Dean could see her patience wearing thin. “Please stop interrupting me and let me talk.” Dean crossed his arms with a sigh, but nodded at Lisa to continue. “Thank you,” she said, returning his nod. “I want you to know that I regretted breaking it off with you the second you stepped on that train, but I had no choice. My mother warned me about what could happen to you over there, how different you’d be, she gave me a speech, told me to end things to spare myself from future heartbreak. She was just trying to look out for me, she never thought you’d survive.” 

“She didn’t, or you didn’t?” Dean asked coarsely. 

“A little bit of both I guess,” Lisa replied. 

Dean snorted. “Well I proved you wrong, didn’t I? Maybe you should have tried having a little bit of faith, instead of just giving up.” 

“If I could go back and do it again, I would,” Lisa said. 

Dean resisted the urge to slam his hands on the bar counter. “Do you really think that matters to me now, Lisa?” 

“We can try again, I can do it right this time,” Lisa said. 

Dean scowled at her, his anger starting to seep through his words. “You had fourteen years to try and make things right. You can’t just show up here and expect me to fall in love with you again, that’s not how it works.” 

“I’m not asking for your forgiveness, I’m just asking for another chance,” Lisa said. 

“Well, in my book, you need forgiveness to get another shot, and you’re not getting either,” Dean replied. 

“Please,” Lisa begged, her eyes pleading. 

Dean shook his head. “No.You can’t just waltz into my bar like the last fourteen years didn’t happen and we’re love-sick teenagers again. We’re done Lisa, you ended it, parents or no parents, you went through with it, you cut me out.” Dean pulled his rag from his back pocket and began to wipe the counter. “Besides, you’re trying to get back together with a taken man.” 

Lisa’s expression changed from one of begging to one of jealousy and anger. “You have a girlfriend?” 

Dean pasted his best shit-eating grin onto his face. “Boyfriend, actually.” Cas wasn’t technically his boyfriend, but Lisa didn’t know that, and Dean fully intended on asking Cas to be his boyfriend once he was better. 

A look of pure disgust took root in Lisa’s eyes and she stood up abruptly. “You’re a homosexual ?” 

“Bisexual is the term you’re looking for,” Dean corrected. 

“How long have you-” 

Dean cut her off, knowing exactly what she was going to ask. “I probably figured it out when I was around seventeen, right around the time I was with you.” His tone was condescending and he knew he was being mean, but he couldn’t stop the bitterness that was taking over him. 

Lisa’s expression dwindled into hatred territory and she took a step backwards. “I see.”

“The door’s over there, you can show yourself out,” Dean said, indicating that their conversation was over. 

Lisa turned away from Dean, her steps were slow and deliberate as she walked to the door and Dean entered the kitchen as the chime over the door announced her departure.

 “Hey, Chief,” Benny said as Dean entered the room. Something must have read as wrong on Dean’s face because Benny’s cheery disposition quickly slipped away to be replaced by concern. “What’s the matter?” 

“Outside,” was all Dean managed to get out. 

Benny followed Dean outside, into the same ally that they had talked yesterday. “What’s up?” 

Dean took a shuddering breath. “Lisa.” 

“What about her?” Benny asked. 

“She just showed up, here, at the bar.” Dean felt breathless, he felt like something was sucking all the air from his lungs, like he was drowning, tears began to well at the back of his eyes.

“What?” Benny’s voice was on the cusp of joy but his confusion clouded over it. “Isn’t that a good thing?” 

Dean shook his head. “No, not a good thing, very bad thing,” he breathed out.

“Chief, what aren’t you telling me?” Benny asked as he put a hand on Dean’s shoulder, Dean sank into the touch, letting it ground him. 

“I didn’t break up with Lisa,” Dean said in one breath. 

“Oh?” 

“She broke up with me.” 

“Oh.” Dean didn’t miss the slight look of hurt that crossed Benny’s expression. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, it was just easier if you thought I’d ended it, and I didn’t plan on seeing her again, so I didn’t think to tell you.” Dean rattled off his apology but Benny held up a hand. 

“I always kind of suspected that was the case, by the way you’d avoid talking about her, but it’s good to hear you actually say it.” 

Dean took in another shaky breath. He wasn’t quite sure why he was so upset by Lisa’s visit, it could be because of the lie he’d been living with for the past fourteen years or it could be because he couldn’t stop that slight flutter in his chest when he first saw her walk through his bar door; that feeling which was immediately accompanied by guilt, because even though he and Cas weren’t officially together, he felt like he was betraying him. 

Benny picked up on his silent monologue without Dean needing to say anything. “Do you still love her?” 

Dean shook his head. “No.” He didn’t, he definitely didn’t . But there was something about her he couldn’t shake, something that had rekindled a long forgotten flame of his past. All the fond memories that he associated with high school were with Lisa, the nights he’d spend with her gazing at the stars or playing spin the bottle at a party. When she broke up with him he didn’t let himself think about her, in any way, not even in memories, and now everything was flooding back to him like a dam had been broken and he was parched land that was so desperately in need of water. 

“I just…” Dean steadied himself with a breath. “I don’t know what to think, she apologized to me, she wanted to get back together, after all these years.” 

“But you turned her down,” Benny pieced it together. 

“Of course I turned her down!” Dean snapped. “She told me that her mother made her end things with me. What am I supposed to make of that?” 

Benny shook his head. “I don’t know, chief.” 

“She had all this time to come and find me, and I just don’t understand why she chose now,” Dean said. 

“Did you ask her?” 

“I tried, but she kept avoiding the question.” Dean ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t think she’ll be coming back, I told her I’m with a man, and she seemed pretty repulsed.”

“Well, not everyone is accepting in this society,” Benny said. 

“Unfortunately,” Dean grumbled. 

“Look man, you’re clearly rattled by this, why don’t you head home, I can close again,” Benny offered. 

Dean almost sank to the ground in relief. “Really?” 

“Yeah, really, go home, go see Cas, do whatever it is you need to do to take your mind off Lisa.” 

“Thank you,” Dean said, and he meant it. 

“No problem, brother.” 

Dean tossed him the key to the bar and Benny pocketed it. “This is the last time I do this, though, just so we’re clear, I can’t keep bailing on my bar like this.” 

“Don’t sweat it, you work hard all the time, you deserve a break every once and awhile.” 

“Thanks again,” Dean said as he backed away towards his car. 

“Drive safe,” Benny said over his shoulder as he pushed open the door to the kitchen. 

Dean hopped in his Cadillac and drove quickly home. 

He knocked lightly on Cas’ door and heard a rough, ‘come in’. The second Dean was through the door he was darting towards Castiel, who was sitting on the couch, a book in his hands. 

Dean pulled Cas’ face towards his and planted a kiss there, much to Cas’ surprise. “Dean, are you okay?” Cas asked once Dean pulled away. 

Dean didn’t say anything, he just curled into Cas, half on top of him as he tried to fit himself onto the couch. He could hear Cas’ heartbeat through his shirt from where his ear was pressed against his chest, it was rapid from Dean’s unexpected arrival but it was slowly falling back to normal. 

“Dean,” Cas said softly. Dean could hear the congestion of Cas’ voice through the vibrations of his chest. “What happened?” Again, Dean didn’t answer. He couldn’t bring himself to, he didn’t know how to begin to tell Cas about Lisa. “What do you need?” Cas asked. 

That was a question that Dean could answer. He shifted to look at Cas. “You. Right now I just need you,” he mumbled. 

“Okay,” Cas replied. He kissed Dean tenderly and when they broke apart again Dean curled into Cas’ side and Cas carded his hands through Dean’s hair with a sigh, he shuddered at the touch, letting Cas calm him and wipe away every thought of Lisa he could possibly remember. 

Chapter Text

 

Cas didn’t say anything for a long time, he just let Dean hold onto him, not knowing what he was supposed to do. He could feel Dean shake under his fingertips and something wet dripped onto his shirt; tears. 

“Dean,” Cas whispered softly. “Dean, you need to talk to me, what happened?” Dean’s response was to hug Cas tighter. He sighed. “Dean, please.” 

Dean sniffed under Cas’ arms and then blinked up at him, green eyes glassy with tears. “Someone from my past came into my bar today,” Dean said quietly. 

“Someone bad?” Cas asked softly. 

Dean nodded. “Someone I tried hard to forget.” 

“Do you want to talk about it?” 

Dean shook his head, burrowing deeper into Cas’ chest. “Not right now.” Dean sniffed and then placed his hand over Cas’. “But I will tell you, eventually, just not today.” 

“Okay,” Cas replied. He wanted desperately to know who Dean was talking about, but he wasn’t about to pry, Dean would tell him in his own time. 

“How are you doing?” Dean asked, his face still pressed to Cas’ chest. “Did your fever go down?” 

“It was at 100 the last time I checked,” Cas replied. 

“When was that?” Dean asked. 

“This morning.” He’d checked his temperature just after Dean left and the number beside the red line had read a perfect 100. 

“It’s probably gone down by now,” Dean said. 

Cas shrugged. “Maybe.” 

“I’ll get the thermometer.” 

Dean extracted himself from Cas’ side and stumbled off in the direction of the bathroom. When he returned, Cas let Dean stick the thermometer in his mouth and when Dean pulled it out he gave a humph of approval. “You’re back to normal.” 

“Well that’s a relief,” Cas said with a sigh. 

“How’s the cough been?” Dean asked as he sat back down on the couch and snuggled up to Cas again. 

“Better,” Cas replied honestly. He’d hardly coughed today and he was beginning to think the worst of his sickness was over. 

“Good. I’ll tell Bobby we can make it this coming weekend, if you still want to look into cars,” Dean said. 

“I’d love that, Dean,” Cas replied with a smile. 

Cas still couldn’t wrap his head around just how much Dean was doing for him. In the short time since he’d moved into his apartment he found himself falling for Dean faster than he’d fallen for anyone else in his life. They way Dean’s gentle green eyes traced over him, his soft touches, the feeling of his lips against Cas’, all of these were things that Cas had never realized he’d needed, and now they were things he craved. 

Cas tightened his hold around Dean’s waist and the other man snuggled even closer to Cas, his tears had long-since dried but he was still unyielding to Cas’ questioning gaze. He wanted to know who had had such a great effect on Dean to bring him to tears. There were still a great many things that Cas didn’t know about his green-eyed friend -friend? Was that really the right term? What were they now? He didn’t dare use the word boyfriend, but it seemed so right, and he wanted desperately to make his relationship with Dean official- but he hoped to learn, he wanted to learn, as much as he could about Dean. 

The quiet moment of silence that had been elapsing in the form of contentment between them was interrupted by a sharp ringing as the phone in Castiel’s kitchen announced an incoming call. With a sigh, Cas removed his arms from around Dean, who gave a small whine of sadness, and headed to the kitchen to answer the phone. 

“Hello?” Cas said, his voice still raw from his illness. 

“Hey baby bro,” Gabriel’s familiar quip answered. 

“Gabe? Is everything alright?” Cas asked, he hadn't been expecting a call from Gabriel any time soon, and he hoped that there wasn’t a horrible reason behind it.

“Oh, no everything’s alright,” Gabriel was quick to put away Cas’ worries. “I was just calling to check up on you, and to ask you about your plans for the upcoming holiday.” 

“I’m recovering from an illness, actually,” Cas replied, “and what upcoming holiday?”

Gabe snorted on the other end of the phone. “Thanksgiving you big dummy,” he laughed. “And I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t been well, you should have called, I would have come over.” 

Thanksgiving. Right. Cas hadn’t realized that they were already practically halfway through the month and that Thanksgiving was in approximately two weeks. 

“That’s alright, Dean, my uh, neighbor, has been looking out for me,” Cas replied awkwardly. 

“Oh?” Gabriel asked, Cas didn’t have to be able to see his brother to know that an eyebrow was being raised in a quizzical expression. “ Dean , huh?” 

“Gabe, don’t even go there,” Cas warned. 

“Alright, I won’t. Just be careful Cas, okay?” Gabriel replied, a hint of a warning in his voice. 

Cas rolled his eyes and sighed. “I am being careful.” 

“Good, I don’t want you getting into trouble.” 

Cas decided to move onto Gabriel’s other reason for calling. “Anyway, about Thanksgiving,”

“Ah, yes, turkey day,” Gabriel said. 

“I wasn’t really planning anything super elaborate,” Cas replied. 

“Well, I can host if you can find a way to get out to me,” Gabriel offered. 

Cas opened his mouth to respond when Dean’s voice made him put a hand over the receiver and turn to the man on his couch. “Who’s on the phone?” Dean asked. 

“My brother, Gabriel,” Cas replied. 

“What does he want?” 

“He’s asking about Thanksgiving,” Cas said. 

Dean crooked an eyebrow. “Oh? Are you making big plans?” 

Cas pretended he didn’t hear the slight sadness in his voice. “We’re working that out right now,” Cas replied. 

Dean’s eyes seemed to brighten, so different from the tears he’d been shedding mere minutes ago. “Well, in that case, I can save you both the trouble. I was planning to have a get together with Sam and his fiance, Jess. I was going to invite you anyway, but your brother is also welcome to join us, I’d like to meet him.”

Cas felt the pink of a blush rising on his cheeks as he smiled. “Thank you, Dean, that’s very kind of you.” 

“Is that a yes?” Dean asked, his green eyes hopeful. 

“Let me ask Gabriel,” Cas replied. He turned his attention back to the phone in his hand and heard Gabriel chattering away on the other end. 

“Cas? Cas? You still there?”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry Gabe, I was just talking to Dean,” Cas replied. 

“Oh?” Gabriel’s voice held a tease and Cas resisted the urge to sigh. 

“Yes, and he has kindly invited us both to attend his Thanksgiving get together,” Cas said. 

“Oh has he now?” 

“Yes,” Cas replied with another roll of his eyes. His brother liked to make things difficult sometimes and Cas was losing patience for it. 

“So, he is more than just a neighbor,” Gabriel said triumphantly. 

“I don’t know what he is, okay? Now, do you accept the invitation or not?” Cas asked, his voice raising with annoyance. 

“I suppose I accept,” Gabriel replied with an exasperated sigh, “but only because I want to meet this man.” 

“Great,” Cas said. “I’ll see you then, Gabe.” He hung up before Gabriel could say anything else and then turned to Dean with a sigh. Dean was staring at Cas with questions dancing in his eyes. “What?” Cas asked. 

“Well?” 

“He said yes, we will join you for Thanksgiving,” Cas replied. 

Dean smiled. “Awesome.”

Cas found his way back to the couch and allowed for their previous position to be taken up again; Dean almost on top of him with Cas’ hands wrapped around him. “Dean,” Cas said quietly, almost a whisper. 

“Hmm?” Dean hummed. 

Cas felt his stomach flip at the thought of what he was about to ask. “What are we?” 

Dean pulled himself away from Cas, and Cas felt his heart skip uncomfortably. “What do you want to be?” Dean asked softly. He eyes darted nervously over Cas’ lips and Cas swallowed hard. 

“I want to be with you,” Cas replied, his answer nothing more than a breath of air to be carried to Dean’s ears. 

Dean smiled, it was filled with warmth and happiness. “Me too.”

“So, are we, together, now?” Cas asked anxiously, he wanted to hear Dean say it, wanted to know that Dean was on the same page as him. 

Dean shifted nervously on the couch, fiddling with his hands. “If you want to be, but I don’t want you to feel like we’re moving too fast or anything, if you don’t want to put a name to what we are then we don’t have to, until you’re ready,” Dean rambled. 

“Dean,” Cas reached out and steadied Dean’s working hands, lacing their fingers together. “I don’t think we’re moving too fast.” 

Dean met Cas’ gaze evenly, hope sparking in Dean’s green eyes. “You don’t?” 

Cas shook his head. “No.” 

Dean grinned, his familiar smirk prodding at his lips. “So you want to be…” Dean’s hands tightened around Cas’ and his eyes went to Cas’ lips again, “... my boyfriend?” Dean asked, his words still sounded hesitant and Cas decided to purge any thought of uncertainty from Dean’s mind, as well as his own. 

He pushed himself forward and kissed Dean. “Yes, Dean, yes I want to be your boyfriend,” he breathed against Dean’s lips. 

Dean’s eyes twinkled in the dim light of Cas’ apartment and he felt Dean’s hands wrapping around his waist as he pulled him closer. “Good,” 

Cas blushed, without meaning to, at the glint in Dean’s eyes but Dean only chuckled at the red on his cheeks and kissed him harder, pushing him back onto the couch with gentle touches. Dean’s hands skated under Cas’ pajama shirt and over the skin underneath and Cas shuddered at the warm touch. Cas let his eyes flutter shut as Dean worked kisses up his neck to his jaw where their mouths met again. 

Cas’ hands came up to Dean’s shoulders and he let out a groan as he forced himself to pull away. “Not here,” he breathed out in a heavy gasp. 

Dean was quick to act, pulling Cas up from the couch and leading him towards Cas’ bedroom, keeping their hands joined the whole time. Cas found himself pushed onto the bed and Dean crawled over him, fiddling with the bottom of Cas’ shirt as he pushed it towards his head. Cas let Dean help him out of the shirt and Dean discarded it on the floor and then proceeded to trace kisses up Cas’ bare chest. He squirmed under the other man, feeling each touch of Dean’s lips and the ghost of his fingers in his hair. 

Dean’s hands went to Cas’ waistband, he worked Cas’ belt off in one fluid motion, and as he fumbled with the button of his pants Cas felt his heart bump nervously against his ribs, and fear began to rush through him. “No,” he said, as he pushed away from Dean and scrambled to sit up on the bed. 

Dean fell back on his heels, confusion and concern in his eyes. “What’s wrong?” 

Cas didn’t know what was wrong, he wanted this, he wanted Dean , but something didn’t feel right, something that poked at the back of his mind in a memory he didn’t want to unlock. “Just,” Cas felt breathless, “not yet, I… I can’t.” 

Dean nodded. “Okay.” 

Cas reached out for Dean’s hand and Dean met him halfway. He shook his head. “No, I want this to happen, Dean, I do, I just…” Cas sighed, down-casting his eyes. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” 

Dean’s thumb brushed the back of Cas’ hand gently as he said, “Hey, It’s okay. We don’t have to.” 

“I’m sorry,” Cas whispered. 

Dean kissed the top of Cas’ head and wrapped his arm around Cas’ shoulder, pulling him into his side. “Don’t be sorry, I’m the one that’s sorry, if I came on too strong, too soon.” 

“No, no, it’s not you,” Cas said quietly. The memories were pushing forwards in his mind and he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stop them. 

Dean’s worried voice made Cas open his eyes again. “Cas? Are you sure you’re okay?” 

Cas nodded meekly but as the memories finally spilled over into his thoughts he changed his answer and shook his head, feeling tears well up in his eyes. “No,” he choked out. 

“Hey, hey, come here,” Dean pulled Cas closer to him and ran a comforting hand through his hair as Cas laid his tear streaked cheek against Dean’s chest. “What is it?” Dean asked softly.

Cas sniffed and with a sigh, he brought a hand to his face and wiped away his tears. “I haven’t…” he cleared his throat and took a shaky breath. “I haven’t, um, done it , since I was in the war.” Dean didn’t say anything, but Cas could feel his surprise in the way his breath stilled momentarily. “The last time I… did it … we were attacked.” 

Cas shuddered at the memory. Bombs screeching through the air, the ground rumbling under his feet, the house he’d been in with the other boy - not Balthazar, a boy named Bartholomew- tumbling down on top of him. Bart was only a year only than Castiel, and they’d been eyeing each other for months and finally decided to act on their desires, which was when the attack happened. 

“We were in a house, me and this boy,” Cas said, all his efforts were put into keeping his voice steady, “when the bombs started falling. We were… you know… and the house started to come down on top of us... a-and B-bart shoved me out of the way as one of the beams fell. And… and it f-fell on h-him. I w-watched him d-die,” Cas hiccuped, unable to stop the tremor in his voice, despite his efforts.

“Shit Cas,” Dean murmured, hugging Cas tighter as more tears leaked from his eyes.

For years he’d suppressed that memory by not having sexual relations with any of his past boyfriends - not that there had been many because he’d always ended his relationships after a few weeks, and after a while he’d stopped dating all together- but Dean was different, Cas didn’t want to end things with Dean, he wanted to take the step that he’d been avoiding for fifteen years; just, not now. 

“I’m sorry,” Cas apologized again. 

“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, Cas,” Dean said comfortingly. When Cas didn’t say anything Dean nudged him gently. “Okay?” 

“Okay,” Cas replied. 

“We don’t have to, at all, you know,” Dean said.

Cas brought himself to look at Dean and give a small shake of his head. “No, I want to, but not right now.” 

Dean nodded and thumbed a finger over Cas’ cheek. “I’ll be here when you are.”

Cas smiled faintly at Dean and then kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you.” 

Deeming the moment over, Dean cleared his throat. “So, are you planning to go to work tomorrow?” 

Cas pondered the question for a moment. “I think I will,” he said after a moment. 

“Well then, I will pick you up at eight.” 

“Dean-” Cas began. 

“I will not hear a word against this, Cas. You got sick because of all those bike rides, and as I am, officially , your boyfriend now, I’d like to drive my boyfriend to work,” Dean said.  

Cas sighed, he knew this was an argument he couldn’t win, and besides, he’d have a car of his own in a few days if all went to plan, so he nodded. “Alright Dean, I will allow you to drive me to work.” 

Dean beamed at him. “Excellent.” 

Cas voiced his question that he’d been wondering since Dean came into his life. “How did I get so lucky with you?” 

Dean shrugged.  “I guess you just have low standards.” 

Cas laughed and playfully hit Dean on the arm. “You, Dean Winchester, are not low, in any way,  in my standards.” 

Dean blushed and ducked his head.  “Aw shucks Cas, thanks.” 

“Me on the other hand-” 

“Stop it right there,” Dean said, breaking into Cas’ sentence. “ You , Castiel Novak, are about the highest high I could have ever reached, truth be told you’re probably way out of my league.”

It was Cas’ turn to blush. “No I’m not, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of better looking boyfriends.”

Dean carded a hand slowly through Cas’ hair and smiled at him. “Nah, you’re definitely the best looking boyfriend I’ve ever had.” 

Cas’ blush grew. “Well the same goes for you.” 

Dean chuckled, his perfect smile throwing Cas’ stomach for a loop. “Come here,” Dean said in a laughter-filled voice. 

Cas leaned forward and let their lips connect in a long kiss. By the time they pulled apart they were both gasping and their faces were flushed a crimson shade of red. 

“I should go,” Dean said softly. 

Cas’ lips formed into a pout. “Why?” 

“Well, you reminded me that I need to call Sammy and actually formally invite him to Thanksgiving, and I’ve got a few bills to pay,” Dean replied. 

“Okay,” Cas said. 

Dean sighed, his eyes moving over Cas’ expression. “Alright, how’s this sound, I’ll go pay my bills and call up Sam and then I’ll come back here and we can cook up some dinner together.” 

Cas grinned, he liked the sound of that. “Okay.” 

“Great,” Dean smiled. 

“Dean,” Cas said, before Dean could leave. 

“Yeah Cas?” 

“Will you stay here again tonight?” Cas asked timidly. 

“Of course Cas, if you want me.” 

“I do.” 

“Then I’ll stay,” Dean whispered against Cas’ hair. He kissed Cas again and then made his way out of the bedroom and, a few moments later, out the door.

 

Dean was only gone for about twenty minutes, but they were the most agonizing twenty minutes of Cas’ life, or at least they felt like it. Dean entered the apartment carrying two bags, one filled with groceries, the other his duffel bag. He set the duffel down on the couch and then went into the kitchen and began to pull items from the grocery bag. 

“What are we making?” Cas asked. 

“Shepherds pie,” Dean replied. “I’ll get started on the meat if you want to cut up the potatoes.” 

Cas nodded and found a cutting board and a knife. He began to peel the potatoes and chop them into pieces. The sizzle of meat hitting a hot pan sounded behind Cas as Dean began to cook the meat. Once Cas was finished with the potatoes he filled the pot with water and then placed it on the stove. 

“What next?” Cas asked. 

“We need to cut the carrots,” Dean replied. “I’ll do it, if you want to watch the meat.” 

Cas nodded and he and Dean switched positions, Cas now flipping and stirring the meat while Dean cut the carrots quickly and efficiently. Cas couldn’t keep his eyes from following the movement of the knife against the cutting board and the muscles that rippled across Dean’s back and shoulders as he worked. Cas quickly averted his eyes, even though, as Dean’s boyfriend , he felt like he had more of a right to let his eyes travel across the broad expanse of Dean’s back; and yet he still felt slightly guilty all the same. 

When the potatoes were ready for mashing and the meat was browned, Dean found two plates from the cabinets and set them down on the table. Cas filled each plate with mashed potatoes and Dean did the same with the meat and vegetable mixture. Dean sat down but Cas turned away from the table, towards the cabinet he kept filled with liquor. He pulled a bottle of fine red wine from its depth and found two glasses before heading back to the table. 

Cas felt Dean’s green eyes follow his every movement as he poured them glasses and then settled down in his chair. “To us,” Cas said as he lifted his glass into the air. 

“To us,” Dean echoed with a warm smile. 

Their glasses clinked together and after they’d each swallowed a mouthful of wine, they dug into the meal they had prepared, making idle conversation and exchanging smiles and small laughs.

After the dishes were done they found themselves in bed, wrapped up in each other’s arms. Cas’ eyes closed and he let the warmth of Dean’s embrace and his steady breathing push him off to sleep. “Sleep well, Cas,” Dean whispered in his ear.

Chapter Text

The week went by slowly. Cas’ illness gradually became less and less and Dean was glad to see him getting back on his feet. He’d been driving him to work all week and even though Cas would assure him that he didn’t need to, he could tell that Cas was grateful; Dean wasn’t about to let him get sick again from his stubbornness to accept help. 

Today was Friday, and Dean was stood behind his bar, anxious for the day to end so he could bring Cas home and then head to Bobby’s in the morning. 

“You okay, chief?” Benny asked as he came out of the kitchen. 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine.” 

“Thinking about the weekend?” Benny asked with a smirk. 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Shut up.” 

“What!? My best friend finally has a boyfriend, I’m allowed to tease you.”

“Yeah, yeah, only you have that right,” Dean replied with a chuckle. 

Benny grinned. “I’m honored, chief.” 

Dean sighed and shook his head, unable to hide his smile. “Get back to work.” 

Benny’s posture straightened and he saluted. “Yes, sir. Right away, sir.”

As Benny turned away from Dean the chime over the door rang and he looked up to see a head of messy black hair and wonderful blue eyes. “Cas,” Dean said in surprise. 

“Hello, Dean,” Cas replied, a smile touching his eyes. 

“What are you doing here?” Dean asked as he came out from behind the bar counter. He wrapped Cas in a hug and the other man chuckled. 

“What? I need an excuse to visit my boyfriend now?” Cas asked innocently. 

Boyfriend . Dean grinned, he was still getting used to that word coming out of Cas’ mouth in association with himself.  

“No, of course you don’t need an excuse,” Dean replied as he gave Cas a quick kiss.

Cas blushed when Dean pulled away. “Are you sure you want to be seen kissing me in public?” he joked. “People might talk.” 

“I don’t care who sees,” Dean replied. He kissed Cas again, “and let them talk.” Dean took Cas’ hand in his and led him to the counter. “Now, what can I get for you?” 

Cas hummed and brought a hand up to his chin. “Surprise me,” he replied after a moment. 

“Can do,” Dean replied. He turned towards the kitchen and was about to enter when he saw Jo staring at him. “What?” he asked. 

Jo shrugged, blushing. “Nothing, just, you guys are so cute.” 

Dean flashed her a smile as he pushed open the kitchen door. “Damn right we are.” 

Ellen looked up from her cutting board as Dean entered the room. “Dean, what can we do for you?” she asked. 

“Well, Cas is here and he told me to surprise him, so I figured I’d put in an order for some of Benny’s famous tomato soup,” Dean replied. 

“I’ll get right on it,” Benny said. 

“Good, thank you,” Dean replied. He quickly left the kitchen again and returned behind his bar. Cas smiled up at him from his seat. “Can I interest you in a drink, sir?” he asked.

“Oh, just water is fine, thank you,” Cas replied. 

Dean poured Cas a glass of water and then watched as Cas raised the water to his lips. “So, how are things at the bakery?” Dean asked. 

Cas set his water down and smiled. “Great! I’ve made more pies and cookies than I can count, I think the business is doing really well.” 

“I’m glad to hear it.” 

“What about here?” Cas asked. 

“We get a good bunch of customers,” Dean replied.

The bell over the door rang again and recognition dawned on Dean as a red-headed woman come into the bar, accompanied by a blond-haired woman. 

“Charlie!” Dean said happily. “It’s good to see you again.” 

“Dean,” Charlie smiled. “You remembered my name.” 

“And you remembered mine,” Dean replied. 

“How could I forget?” Charlie laughed. “You served me the best breakfast of my life.” 

“You’ve got the chef to thank for that,” Dean said. He turned to the woman beside Charlie. “And who is this?” 

Charlie blushed slightly. “This is Gilda, my uh... girlfriend.” She said the last word cautiously but Dean only grinned and held out his hand to Gilda. 

“Dean.” 

“Nice to meet you,” Gilda said as she took Dean’s hand in her own. 

Dean turned back to Charlie and lowered his voice. “You don’t need to be ashamed you know.” He gestured towards the counter where Cas was sitting, watching them curiously. “That’s my boyfriend over there.” 

Charlie’s smile brightened. “Oh, really?” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah.” Dean waved Cas over and the blue-eyed man slid from his stool to join Dean with Charlie and Gilda. “This is Cas, Cas Charlie, Charlie Cas. And this is Charlie’s girlfriend, Gilda.” They all exchanged handshakes as they said ‘nice to meet you’ in unison. “Well, can I get you two seated?” Dean asked. 

“Yes, please,” Charlie replied. 

“Right this way,” he said. He led them towards an empty table and Jo followed him with two menus.  

“Thank you,” Charlie said as she took the menus from Jo. 

“Can I start you two with something to drink?” Jo asked. 

“Water please,” Gilda replied. 

“I’ll have water as well,” Charlie said. 

“Coming right up,” Jo smiled. 

Knowing Charlie and Gilda were in good hands, Dean took Cas’ hand in his own and led him back to the bar counter. Moments later, Benny emerged from the kitchen carrying Cas’ soup. He set it down in front of Cas and Cas smiled. “Thank you.” 

Benny returned the smile. “You’re welcome.” 

Benny hesitated from returning to the kitchen as Cas blew on the soup cupped in his spoon and sipped at it slowly. “It’s very good,” Cas told Benny. Benny seemed relieved and Dean couldn’t help but let out a small laugh.

 “I’m glad you like it,” Benny said. 

Cas continued to eat his soup and Benny headed back towards the kitchen. “Do you really like it?” Dean asked once Benny was out of ear shot. 

Cas nodded, a genuine smile twitching against his lips. “Yes, it’s probably the best tomato soup I’ve ever had.” 

Dean grinned and then left Cas to his soup while he went over to serve Ash another beer. “So,” Ash said once Dean had deposited the bottle in front of him, “you’ve finally gotten into a relationship.” 

“Yup, I’m a taken man now,” Dean replied with a quick glance in Cas’ direction. 

“Don’t think that’s going to stop the ladies from fawning over you,” Ash said as he smirked at Jo. 

Jo quirked an eyebrow at Ash. “What?” she asked from across the bar. 

“Oh nothing,” Ash replied. 

Dean chuckled and turned away from Ash. “Dean,” Cas said, drawing Dean’s attention back to him. 

“Yeah, angel?” Dean asked. 

“I’ll take the check now,” Cas replied. 

“Oh no, I wouldn’t dream of letting you pay for your meal, it’s on the house,” Dean said. 

“Dean I could never-”

“You’re my boyfriend, Cas, that means you get free meals at my bar, it’s a perk of dating the owner,” he said with a smirk. 

Cas sighed but didn’t continue to argue. “Alright, Dean.” 

Dean grinned at his victory and picked up the empty bowl. “I’ll be right back.” 

When Dean entered the kitchen he nearly ran into Benny. “Dean!” he exclaimed. “I was just coming to find you.” 

“What’s up?” Dean asked as he put Cas’ bowl in the sink. 

“I was just thinking that maybe you’d like to head home early, that way you and Cas could get a jump on your travel to Sioux Falls. We can handle everything here for the rest of the day.”

Dean shook his head. “I told Bobby we’d be arriving tomorrow afternoon.” 

“So? Head out early, book a motel,” Benny said. 

Dean didn’t want to admit that he liked that idea, but still he shook his head. “I told you that I wasn’t going to be leaving work early again, I can’t keep putting the responsibility of my bar on you.”

“Dean, would you just accept a gift when it’s being offered,” Benny said through an exasperated sigh. “You’re so stubborn.” 

“It’s one of my better qualities,” Dean replied with a smirk. 

Benny’s hands came up to Dean’s shoulders. “You’re taking the rest of the day off, and I won’t hear another word against it.” 

Dean crossed his arms and frowned at Benny. “I thought I was your boss, not the other way around.” 

“I’m not telling you this as your employee, I’m telling you this as your friend and wing man,” Benny replied. 

Dean sighed. “If I do this, it’s a one time thing.” 

Benny stepped back from Dean. “Sure thing.” 

“Fine,” Dean said, admitting defeat. 

Benny grinned. “Excellent. Now go get him, tiger.” 

“I already have him,” Dean replied with a wink. He paused, hand on the kitchen door as he looked back at Benny. “Speaking of relationships, how’s it going that Andrea?” 

A wide grin spread across Benny’s lips. “We’re officially dating.” 

Dean spun around. “That’s great! Why didn’t you say anything!?” Dean exclaimed.

“Yeah, she’s amazing,” Benny said. “You know, we should double date sometime with you and Cas.” 

“Yeah sure, sounds fun,” Dean replied. “Now,” he said as he pointed a finger at Benny, “you better take good care of my bar this weekend.” 

Benny held up his hands. “Don’t worry about the bar, chief. Everything will be fine.” 

Dean narrowed his eyes. “It better be.” 

“Just get going, would ya?” Benny laughed. 

“Alright, alright, I’m going.” 

Dean pushed his way out of the kitchen, and instead of going back behind the bar, he moved behind Cas and wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist. “Dean,” Cas gasped in slight surprise. 

“Hey handsome, come here often?” Dean whispered in Cas’ ear.

Cas turned in Dean’s grip. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” 

“Oh?” Dean smirked. “Well in that case, do you have any recommendations?” 

“Everything’s good,” Cas replied, his blue eyes dancing with a smile. 

Dean’s eyes traveled to Cas’ lips. “Mmm, I’m sure.” Cas blushed and Dean grinned and took Cas’ hand in his. “Come on, what do you say we get out of here?” 

“And go where?” Cas asked. 

“Well, I figured we could start our journey to Sioux Falls a bit early, spend the night in a motel,” Dean replied, his voice low enough for only Cas to hear. 

Cas grinned. “Okay.” 

“Awesome, let’s go then,” Dean said, tugging Cas off of his stool.

Cas came willingly and Dean pulled him towards the back door and to the parking lot. Once in his Cadillac, Dean leaned over and gave Cas a quick kiss before starting the engine and pulling out onto the street. When they reached their apartment complex they each went their separate ways for a brief couple of minutes to gather their packed bags for the weekend before reuniting at the car. 

“Ready?” Dean asked as he shut the trunk containing their duffel bags. 

“Ready,” Cas replied with a grin. 

Dean handed Cas a map and then pointed the car in the direction of Sioux Falls. “Find us a motel about three hours away,” Dean said. Cas nodded and began to scan the map for said motel.

 “Found one, I’ll let you know what roads to take,” he said after a couple minutes. 

“Thanks,” Dean replied. 

Dean turned on the radio to hear Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock come over the speakers. “You’re the cutest little jailbird I ever did see,” Dean sang as he glanced over at Cas. 

Cas blushed and grinned as he sang, “Dancing to the jailhouse rock.” 

 

The drive went smoothly, with Cas giving occasional directions and Dean gently nudging the car according to Cas’ words. It was nearly 5:00 when they pulled into a small dimly lit motel. They pulled their duffel bags from the trunk and then Dean turned to Cas. “Wait here while I get us a room.” 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean headed inside and graced the woman behind the counter with a smile. “Hi there,” she said. 

“Hi,” Dean replied. “I’d like one room please.” 

“Sure thing,” she replied. “That’s eight dollars.” 

Dean handed her the money and in exchange she gave him a key. “Thank you,” he said. 

“Enjoy your stay,” the woman smiled. 

Cas was right where Dean had left him when he came out of the building and he quickly laced his hands with Cas’ and led him off towards their room. “So, what are we planning to do tonight?” Cas asked as Dean unlocked the door. 

“Whatever you want,” Dean replied. 

“How’s dinner sound?” Cas asked. 

“Dinner sounds wonderful,” Dean replied as he shut the door and kissed Cas gently on the lips.

“Let’s wait a bit and get settled in, the map says there’s a restaurant just down the road, it shouldn’t take us long to get there,” Cas said. 

“Okay, I don’t care where we go,” Dean replied as he fell down onto the double bed. Cas stayed where he was and Dean propped himself up on his elbow. “Are you just going to stand there all night?” 

Cas broke into a gummy smile and dropped his bag on the floor before crawling onto the bed beside Dean. Dean wrapped his arms around Cas and let him snuggle into the crook of his neck. Cas let out a content sigh and Dean kissed the top of his head. 

“This is perfect,” Cas said softly. 

“Mmm, it is,” Dean agreed. He shifted under Cas and rested his head against Cas’. “I can’t wait for you to meet Bobby, I think you’ll like him.” 

“Will he like me?” Cas asked. Dean didn’t miss the nervous tint to Cas’ words. 

“He’ll love you,” Dean replied earnestly.

“Are you sure?” Cas asked worriedly. 

“I’m sure,” Dean said into Cas’ hair. 

“Are we…” Cas stalled, seemingly unsure how to continue. 

“What?” 

“Are we going to have to pretend that we aren’t-”

“No, Cas, no,” Dean cut in. “Bobby’s cool with all this.” 

“Really?” 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, if he wasn’t I would’ve been kicked out of the army and probably killed in an alley somewhere.” Cas chuckled but steeled himself when Dean nudged him playfully. “Hey, don’t laugh.” 

“Sorry.” 

“Well, I’m going to hit the shower and then we can start thinking about heading to dinner,” Dean said. 

Cas nodded. “Okay.” 

Dean kissed Cas again and then hauled himself to his feet and meandered in the direction of the bathroom, picking up his duffel bag on his way. “I’ll be quick,” he said over his shoulder as he opened the door. 

“Take your time,” Cas said as he pushed himself up to lean against the headboard of the bed. 

Despite Cas’ words, Dean only took about ten minutes in the shower before he was donning a fresh pair of jeans, a tight black t-shirt, and pushing a towel through his hair to get rid of the excess water. “I’m ready when you are,” he said. 

Cas met Dean in front of the bed and brought their lips together. “Let’s go.” 

Dean swung his coat on over his shoulders and followed Cas back out to the car. Cas directed them to a small restaurant called “The Devil’s Bar and Grill” and once they were seated, drinks ordered and menus in hand, Dean reached across the table for Cas’ hand. “We should do things like this more often,” he said. 

Cas nodded. “I agree.” 

Dean pulled his hand away and turned his gaze to the menu. “What are you thinking of getting?” 

Cas shrugged. “The burgers look good.” 

“Yeah, they do. I think I might go for the bacon cheeseburger.” 

“Good choice, I might do the same.” 

Their waitress popped up beside them with their drinks. Dean had been stuck getting a water, because he had to drive, but Cas got a beer; Dean eyed it with only slight jealousy. “So, what can I get for you boys? Or do you still need more time?” 

“No I think we’re good,” Dean replied. 

“Well then, what’ll it be?” she asked. 

“I think we’re both going to do the bacon cheeseburger,” Dean answered. 

“Excellent choice.” The waitress marked down their orders on her notepad and smiled at Dean before leaving. 

Dean turned back to Cas to see him staring after the waitress with a pout on his lips. “What?” Dean asked. 

Cas narrowed his eyes and brought himself back to face Dean. “I just don’t like the way she was looking at you.” 

Dean chuckled. “Is someone jealous ?” 

Cas’ pout deepened. “No.” 

Dean grinned. “So you are jealous.” 

Cas took a wistful sip of his beer and then crossed his arms. “Am not.” 

“Don’t worry, I’ve only got eyes for you,” Dean replied, locking his eyes on Cas’ blue orbs. 

Cas squinted at Dean. “Promise?” 

“Promise.” 

Cas’ pout faded and he offered Dean a half-smile. “Okay.” 

When their food arrived they ate in silence, too absorbed in the delicacy of perfectly cooked meat to have time for talking, and when they were finished Cas insisted on paying the bill. “You’ve driven me all the way out here, given me free lunch, taken care of me when I was too sick to even move properly, I think I owe you fucking dinner,” he had grumbled. 

Dean caved. “Alright, alright, fine.” 

Cas gave Dean a curt nod. “Thank you.” 

By the time they made it back to the motel they were both tired and ready for bed. Cas showered and then they changed into their pajamas and curled up together in bed. “We don’t have to be at Bobby’s until one tomorrow, so we can sleep in,” Dean said through a yawn. 

“Wonderful,” Cas grumbled through his own yawn. 

It didn’t take long for them to fall asleep, a tangle of limbs and sheets. 

 

Dean was drawn to wakefulness when the warm body next to him disappeared. “Cas?” Dean slurred as he blinked open his eyes. 

“Come on, we’ve got to get going,” Cas said. 

Dean rubbed at his eyes and leaned back on his arms. “What time is it?” 

“Ten thirty,” Cas replied. 

“Shit, that late already?” Dean gasped, instantly awake. 

“Yeah, I guess we were tired,” Cas said as he began to get dressed. 

Dean was momentarily distracted by the exposed skin of Cas’ back as he stripped off his pajama shirt to be replaced by a blue button down. He recomposed himself and also began to get dressed. He felt Cas’ eyes on him the moment he pulled his shirt over his head. 

“You checking me out?” Dean asked with a smirk. 

“Don’t call me out like that, you were just doing it to me a second ago, don’t think I didn’t notice,” Cas replied haughtily. 

“Guilty as charged,” Dean chuckled. 

Cas tossed Dean a shirt. “Now hurry up and get dressed, we still have a two hour drive ahead of us.”

Dean caught the shirt and quickly put it on, followed by jeans, and his favorite jacket. When they were both dressed Dean brought the key to the front desk and checked them out and then met Cas at the car. The tires squealed on the asphalt as Dean tore out of the motel parking lot and sent them hurtling towards Bobby’s establishment. 

Bobby was waiting for them outside, parked in his wheelchair, when Dean pulled into The Singer Auto and Repair Shop. He and Cas made their way towards Bobby and Dean stopped a few feet away, bringing his hand up to his forehead. “Captain,” he said. 

Bobby chuckled. “Yeah yeah.” 

Dean grinned, smiling down at the man in the wheelchair. “It’s good to see you, Bobby.” 

“You too Dean.” He released Dean and asked, “How’ve you been?” 

“Great Bobby, amazing actually,” he said with a glance at Cas. 

Bobby’s eyes finally landed on the blue-eyed man standing awkwardly apart from them. “Ah, so this must be Cas,” he said. 

Cas’ body went rigid and he saluted. “Captain.” 

Bobby waved him down. “I appreciate the sentiment, but you don’t have to salute.” 

Cas lowered his hand and instead offered it to Bobby, who took it politely. “It’s still a pleasure to meet you, sir.” 

Bobby raised an eyebrow in Dean’s direction. “I like him.” 

Dean wrapped an arm around Cas’ shoulders. “Yeah, me too.” 

“Oh, so you’re something now, are you?” Bobby asked. 

“Yup,” Dean replied, popping the P at the end of the word. 

“Well then, before we start lookin’ at cars, can I interest you two in a beer?” Bobby asked. 

“That’d be great actually,” Dean replied. 

“Well come on in.” Bobby spun himself around in his wheelchair and Dean and Cas followed him inside. 

They took a seat at a rickety old table and Bobby handed them both beers. “So, what’ve you been up to all these years?” Dean asked as raised the bottle to his lips. 

Bobby shrugged. “Same old stuff.” 

“Sold anything lately?” 

“Yeah, just the other day, an old Buick to a lovely young lady.” Bobby turned to Cas, who was staring at his beer. “So, Cas, what did you have in mind to buy today?” 

Cas shrugged. “Just something cheap, that runs.” 

“Well, I’ve got a lot of those around,” Bobby laughed. 

“I’m sure,” Cas replied. 

Bobby focused on Dean. “You got my answer, what about yours, what have you been up to?” 

Dean shrugged. “I own a tavern.” 

“Right, I remember you telling me something about that. Is business good?” 

“As good as it can be,” Dean replied. 

“And what do you do?” Bobby asked Cas. 

“I work at the bakery across the street from Dean’s bar,” Cas replied. 

“Ah, so is that how you met?” 

Dean grinned and found Cas’ blue eyes. “Yup, I walked into that bakery and I was never the same again.” 

Bobby chuckled. “Alright, you two are killing me with all the lovey-dovey crap, let’s go look at some cars, shall we?” 

Dean stood up and took Cas’ hand in his. “Let’s.” 

Bobby wheeled himself back outside and Dean and Cas walked alongside him as Bobby led them through rows of old cars. “If you see anything you like, let me know.” 

Dean watched Cas’ eyes scan over the metal of the cars in Bobby’s lot, his expression constructed in concentration. Dean saw a few cars that he himself might have been tempted to buy, but he reminded himself that he was content -more than content- with his Cadillac. Cas paused by a slightly faded, yet shiny and almost new- looking, brown Chevy and traced his hand over the frame. 

“Do you like that one?” Dean asked as he came up behind Cas and wrapped his hands around his middle, resting his chin on Cas’ shoulder. 

“Maybe,” Cas replied. 

The wheels under Bobby’s wheelchair crunched against the dirt underneath them as he came to a halt in front of the car. “Ah, a ‘54 Chevy Bel Air,” Bobby said with a sigh. 

“Is it a good car?” Cas asked. 

“It’ll get you around,” Bobby replied. 

Dean scoffed. “Oh come off it Bobby, I know a little about cars myself, and this one is pretty damn good.” 

“Yeah, yeah. If you want her, take her, I can give her up for $850, and that’s a lot better deal than I’d give anyone else,” Bobby said. 

Dean frowned in approval and nudged Cas’ shoulder. “I’d take him up on that if I were you.” 

Cas was staring at Bobby with an open mouth. “Really?” 

Bobby nodded. “Yeah, really.”

Cas exchanged a glance with Dean and Dean nodded in encouragement. “Okay, okay, I guess I’ll take her then.” 

 “Perfect, why don’t you two hop in and go for a test drive before you make any final decisions,” Bobby said. “I’ll go get the keys.” 

Bobby pushed himself back towards the house and Cas turned to face Dean. “Only $850” he said in a whisper. “I was ready to go up to 1,000.” 

Dean chuckled. “What’d I tell you, Bobby gives good deals.”

“That’s an understatement,” Cas laughed. 

“Bobby’s amazing, what can I say?” 

When Bobby returned with the keys he tossed them to Cas who caught them deftly. “Go and take your drive, I’m cooking up some lunch for when you get back.” 

“You don’t have to do that,” Dean said. 

“I want to,” Bobby replied. “I haven’t seen you in years, Dean, and I ain’t missin’ out on gettin’ to have a conversation with you for more than five minutes.” 

Dean felt something warm flicker in his chest and he smiled. “Alright Bobby, no need to get uptight.” 

Bobby grunted and spun his chair around and looked over his shoulder. “And that’s Captain Singer to you.” 

“Oh come on, you know we’re past that, I let you have it once today, but that’s all I’m giving you,” Dean replied. 

“War or not boy, I’m still a Captain,” Bobby shot back as he began to wheel himself away. 

Dean shook his head as he turned away from the retreating figure of Bobby Singer and put an arm around Cas’ waist. “Alright, let’s take her for a test drive.” Cas climbed into the driver’s seat and Dean climbed into the passengers; it felt a little odd to be sitting shotgun while Cas took the wheel.

 Cas started the car and carefully pulled out of Bobby’s auto shop, guiding them out onto the open road. “So, how’s she feelin’?” Dean asked.

“Good,” Cas replied. 

Dean narrowed his eyes. “You sure?”

Cas spared Dean a glance before turning back to the road. “Yeah, it’s just, it’s been awhile since I’ve been behind the wheel of a car.” 

“Well it’s just like riding a bike,” Dean replied. The corners of his mouth twitched up in a smile, “which you have plenty of experience riding.” 

Cas laughed, a smile filling his lips. “You’re not wrong.” 

“I rarely am,” Dean grinned. 

 

When they got back to Bobby’s, Cas parked the bel air beside Dean’s Cadillac and they headed inside. Bobby was waiting for them in the kitchen and Dean drew in a deep breath. “Well, something smells good,” he said. 

“That’d be lunch,” Bobby replied. “Now hurry up and get some before it gets cold.” 

Dean chuckled and picked up a plate. Lunch was hot dogs and beans and as he and Cas sat down at the table Bobby asked, “So, are you sold on the bel air?” 

Cas nodded over his mouthful of food. “Yes, I think it will do just fine for my purposes.”

“Wonderful,” Bobby replied. “After lunch I’ll get the paperwork.” 

“Great, thanks.”

“So, can I set you two up for the night, or do you want to head back home?” Bobby asked. 

“I couldn’t possibly ask you to do that,” Dean said. 

“It would be no trouble,” Bobby replied with a shrug. 

Dean exchanged a glance with Cas who silently told him it was his choice. “Well, I suppose, if you’re offering, it would save us from a motel.” 

“It would be good to have you here,” Bobby said. 

“Alright then, I guess we’ll stay,” Dean replied. 

“Good.” 

After lunch, Cas filled out the paperwork for his new car and then Bobby pointed them upstairs to their room. Once they’d deposited their bags they went back downstairs to help Bobby clean up from lunch. 

 

At around eight o’clock, Bobby offered them drinks and Dean built up a fire that they all gathered around. “So, you were in the war too, huh?” Bobby asked Cas. 

“Yes, sir, two years. 91st infantry division, 4 platoon under Captain Raphael Shurley.” 

Bobby scoffed at the name. “Ah yes, Captain Shurley, I remember him.” 

“I take it you two didn’t get along,” Cas said. 

“That’s putting it lightly,” Bobby scowled. 

“I will admit that he was definitely a hard man to follow sometimes,” Cas said. 

“No need to beat around the bush, the man was an ass,” Bobby scoffed. 

Cas smirked and let out a puff of air. “Yeah, alright, the man was an ass.” 

“I’ll bet you were a good private though,” Bobby said. 

Cas ducked his head and looked at the drink in his hand. “I’d hope so, sir.” 

“Unlike Dean over here.” 

“Hey!” Dean protested. “I did everything you asked, maybe even more.” 

“You slept late and neglected your duties almost daily,” Bobby retorted. 

Dean shrugged. “I didn’t get anyone killed though, did I? I did my job.” 

“Yeah, yeah,” Bobby said with a wave of his hand. “And for some dumb reason I liked you.” 

“I don’t know why,” Dean replied through a grin. 

“It was probably your charm,” Cas said. 

“Probably,” Bobby agreed as Dean blushed. 

“Oh shut up you two,” Dean chuckled. 

 

By the time Cas and Dean climbed into bed, it was just after eleven and the prospect of a long drive lay ahead of them for the morning. “Thank you for this,” Cas whispered as he snuggled up to Dean’s shoulder. 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied as he planted a kiss on top of Cas’ head. “Now get some rest.” 

“Goodnight, Dean.” 

“Goodnight, Cas.” 

 

***Two Weeks Later***

“Alright Sammy, I’ll see you in an hour,” Dean said into the telephone receiver. 

“Okay, jerk,” Sam replied. 

“Bitch.” 

Once he hung up, he turned back to the turkey that was currently sitting on his kitchen counter, uncooked, but seasoned. He spread a little bit of salt onto the meat and then placed it in the oven and began to work on the potatoes. As he set them to simmer on the stove there was a knock on the door and he went to answer it. 

When he pulled open the door, there stood Cas, dressed in nice shoes, black pants, and a blue button down with a lazy black tie. His hair was neatly combed and his eyes seemed to sparkle. “Cas,” Dean said, a breathy gasp escaping his lips. 

Cas grinned. “Hello, Dean.” 

“Uh,” Dean cleared his throat, and his tongue darted out to wet his lips, “come on in.” 

Cas stepped past Dean and entered his apartment. Dean quickly shut the door and then pulled Cas close and laid a kiss on his lips. Cas smiled into it and then pulled away. “So, chef Dean, is there anything I can do to help?” 

“You can just stand there, and look handsome,” Dean replied. 

Cas rolled his eyes and kissed Dean again. “Seriously, Dean.” 

Dean sighed. “Alright, I guess you could make the pie.” 

Cas grinned. “I’d love to make the pie.” 

“Great, I have all the ingredients laid out, all you’ve got to do is put them together,” Dean replied. Dean took Cas’ hand and led him to the kitchen where he checked on the potatoes and watched Cas start to make the pie.

“So,” Cas said as he began to mix together the ingredients. “Are we going to tell them tonight?” 

Dean nodded. “That’s the plan.” 

“And you said Sam’s okay with this stuff,” Cas said cautiously. 

“Sam wants me to be happy, he doesn’t care who I find it with,” Dean replied. “Your brother is cool with this too, right?” 

“As a cucumber,” Cas replied.

“Okay,” Dean smiled and kissed Cas before returning to preparing dinner.

An hour later, there was a knock on the door and Dean opened it to find Sam and Jess. “Heya Sammy,” Dean grinned as he pulled his brother into a hug. 

Sam patted his back with a grunt. “Hi Dean.” 

Dean released Sam and the turned to Jess. “Jessica,” he said as he hugged her. 

“Good to see you again, Dean,” Jess replied with a smile. 

“Sammy’s been treating you well, right?” Dean asked with a sharp, yet humorous, look at Sam.  

“Sam’s been treating me just fine,” Jess replied. 

Sam rolled his eyes and Dean grinned and clapped his little brother on the back. “Alright then, well why don’t you two come in.” Sam and Jess entered the apartment and Dean stepped over to Cas. “This is Cas,” Dean said. He smiled at Cas and said, “This is my brother Sam and his fiance, Jess.” 

Cas smiled and shook each of their hands. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” 

“You too,” Sam replied while Jess offered Cas a warm smile. 

“Cas’ brother is going to be joining us for dinner as well,” Dean said. 

“I recall, you told me on the phone a few weeks ago,” Sam replied.

“Gabriel will be arriving soon,” Cas said, “he’s always a bit late.” 

“Well, while we wait for the food can I offer you two something to drink?” Dean asked. 

“Sure,” Sam replied as he and Jess sat down on the couch. 

“We’ve got wine, beer, or whiskey,” Dean said. 

“I’ll take a beer,” Sam replied. 

“Whiskey for me, thanks,” Jess said. 

“Coming right up.” 

As Dean was handing Sam his beer a knock sounded from the door and he deposited the beer in Sam’s hand and then went to answer the door. A short, brown-blond haired man with honey colored eyes stood in the hallway, a grin on his face. 

“You must be Gabriel,” Dean said, holding out his hand. 

Gabriel took it and Dean felt the harshness of his grip. “And you , must be Dean.” 

Dean quirked a smile at the man as he pulled his hand away. “Yup.” He stepped back and held the door wide open. “Come on in, we’re having some drinks and then dinner will be served.” 

“Sounds great, I’m starving,” Gabriel replied as he moved towards Cas. “Hey baby bro,” he said as he pulled Cas into a hug. 

“Hi Gabe,” Cas grinned. 

“How’ve you been?” Gabriel asked. “Not sick anymore, right?” 

“I’m good, and better now, thanks,” Cas replied. 

“Good,” Gabriel said. He spun around and faced the couch, his eyes landing on Sam and Jess. “And who are you two?” 

Sam stood up and extended his hand. “I’m Sam, Dean’s brother.” 

“I see, nice to meet you Sam,” Gabriel said as he shook Sam’s hand. “And you are?” he asked, offering his hand to Jess. 

“Jessica, Sam’s fiance,” Jess replied. 

“Well congrats to you two,” Gabriel said as he released Jess’ hand. 

“Thanks,” Sam said. 

“Gabe, what do you want for a drink?” Cas asked, drawing his brother’s attention away from Sam and Jess. 

“I’ll have a beer if you’ve got one,” Gabriel replied. 

“Sure thing,” Dean said. He brushed past Cas to get to the fridge and then handed Gabriel a beer. 

“Thanks Dean-O,” Gabriel replied. 

Dean narrowed his eyes at the nickname Gabriel had decided to use but didn’t call him out on it. “Alright, I’ve just got to check the turkey and then we’ll eat,” Dean said. 

“Sounds great,” Sam said. 

When he pulled open the oven, he declared the turkey done and placed it on the table while Cas put down the potatoes and stuffing. Sam, Jess, and Gabriel came to join them at the table and Dean began to carve the turkey. 

“How much do you want Jess?” Dean asked. 

“Two slices will do just fine,” Jess replied. 

Dean handed Jess a plate and smiled at her. “Two slices for the soon-to-be sister in-law. How ‘bout you Gabriel?” Dean asked. 

“I’ll take as many as you’re willing to give me, Dean-O,” Gabriel replied. 

“Well let’s start you off with two then,” Dean said as he placed the respective slices onto a plate and handed it over. 

“Sam?” 

“I’ll keep the pattern going with two,” Sam replied. 

Dean glanced over at Cas. “Do you want two as well?” 

Cas nodded. “Yeah sure.” 

“Well then, everybody’s getting two slices and then you can cut your own if you want more,” Dean replied. 

Once everyone had their plates they began to load them up with the sides, potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and gravy and cranberry sauce as toppings. They dug into their meals and Cas let out a content moan. “Dean, this is delicious.”

Dean’s cheeks warmed at the praise. “Well, I try my best.” 

“Dean’s the cook in the family,” Sam said to Gabriel, who was sitting on his left. 

“I can tell,” Gabriel replied as he scooped up a forkful of mashed potatoes. 

“Sam and Jess almost burned the kitchen down the last time they tried to cook,” Dean said. 

“We did not!” Sam protested. 

“Oh really? The smoke detector and the burnt chicken in your oven begged to differ,” Dean retorted with a chuckle. 

“It wasn’t that bad,” Sam said with a pout as he took a bite of his turkey. 

“It was pretty bad, Sam,” Jess laughed. 

“I’m not much of a cook either,” Gabriel said. “Cas got that gene as well.” 

Cas held up his pointer finger as he declared, “I don’t cook, I bake , there’s a difference.” 

“Oh you bake alright,” Dean agreed. He turned to Sam and Jess, “bakes the best damn pies I’ve ever had in my life.” 

Sam crooked an eyebrow at Dean and his eyes shifted to Cas. “Oh?” 

Cas blushed over his green beans. “That’s what Dean says, but I think he’s exaggerating.” 

“I am not,” Dean stated indignantly. “You’ll see for yourselves, he made the pie for dessert.” 

“I can’t wait,” Sam said. 

They ate in silence for a little longer until Dean cleared his throat and spared a quick look at Cas before he said, “So, uh, there’s something I wanted to tell you all.” 

“Sure, what is it?” Sam asked as he dabbed at his mouth with a napkin. 

“Well,” Dean stalled and Cas reached out to take his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Cas and I are, together.” 

There was a brief moment of silence and then Sam grinned. “That’s great to hear, Dean. I’m glad you finally found someone.” 

Dean smiled. “Thanks Sammy.” 

“Same goes for you baby bro,” Gabriel said, although Dean didn’t miss the slight glare Gabriel sent his way. “You’ve been single for far too long.” 

“Oh shut up Gabe,” Cas laughed. 

“I’m happy for you, Dean,” Jess said with a smile. 

“Thanks Jess.” Dean replied. 

The rest of the meal went on in contented silence as everyone enjoyed their meals, and when they all declared themselves full, Dean put on some music and Jess dragged Sam over to dance with her, while Dean, Cas, and Gabriel stayed at the table. 

“So,” Gabriel said, over the lull of the music. “You and my brother.” 

“Gabe,” Cas said warningly. 

Dean folded his hands gently in front of himself. “Me and your brother,” he reiterated. 

“I just want to make one thing clear,” Gabriel said. 

Cas sighed. “Here we go,” he muttered. 

“If you hurt him-” 

“They’ll never find my body, yeah, got it,” Dean interrupted. 

Gabriel narrowed his eyes and nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Don’t worry, I don’t plan to do anything that would cause Cas pain,” Dean said.

“Good. And you take care of him too Cas,” Gabriel said with a nod at Cas. 

“I will,” Cas replied. 

Gabriel went off to go dance with Sam and Jess and Dean leaned back in his chair, a smile on his lips. “That went well.” 

“Better than expected,” Cas replied. 

“Yeah,” Dean said as he leaned over to kiss Cas. He took Cas’ hand and stood up and then immediately dropped to one knee. “May I have this dance your highness?”

Cas smiled. “Of course, my handsome prince.” 

Dean led Cas over to where Sam and Jess were swaying together and Gabriel was spinning in a slow circle. He wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist and pulled him close, allowing Cas to rest his head on Dean’s chest. 

 

After about half an hour of swaying, drinking, and talking, Dean called everyone to the table for dessert. “I can’t wait to taste this supposedly amazing pie,” Sam said as he sat down in his seat.

“You’ll love it Sammy,” Dean said as he placed a slice of pie on Jess’ plate.

Once everyone had pie, they dug in and Dean let the flavor of pumpkin pie wash over his taste buds. “You’ve outdone yourself again, Cas,” Dean said with a hum. 

“This is incredible,” Sam mumbled as his eyes slipped shut. 

“Dean was right to make a fuss,” Jess said as she licked her lips. 

“Damn right I was,” Dean replied. 

“I missed your pies, Cas,” Gabriel said as he raised his fork to his mouth. “I don’t know how I lived without them for so long.” 

Cas blushed deeply and Dean grinned at his obvious discomfort. “Just take the praise, you deserve it,” Dean said. 

“Thanks,” Cas smiled. 

 

After dessert, everyone helped clean up and put away the leftovers and then Sam and Jess picked up their coats. “I think we’re going to call it a night,” Sam said. 

“Thank you for having us, everything was delicious,” Jess added.

“My pleasure,” Dean replied as he pulled Jess into a hug and kissed her cheek. “And Happy Thanksgiving.” 

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Jess said. 

“Happy Thanksgiving,” Sam echoed. “It was nice to meet you Cas, and you Gabriel.” 

“Likewise,” Cas and Gabriel said in unison. 

“You two drive safe,” Dean said. 

“We will,” Sam replied. 

Dean hugged Sam tightly and then released him with a sniff. “Bitch.” 

“Jerk,” Sam laughed. 

Sam and Jess headed for the door and Gabriel began to put on his coat. “I should probably head home too.” 

“Well, thank you for coming,” Dean said. 

“Thanks for cooking Dean-O,” Gabriel replied. 

They exchanged a handshake and then Gabriel hugged Cas and wished them a goodnight before disappearing out the door. Cas leaned into Dean’s arms and Dean pulled him close. 

“I’m exhausted,” Cas said softly.

“Me too,” Dean agreed. 

 “Can I stay here tonight?” Cas asked.

“Of course you can,” Dean grinned. “Come on, let’s go get ready for bed, we both have to work tomorrow.” 

Chapter Text

“Castiel, we need some more muffins out here!” Hannah’s voice reached Cas’ ears as he was pouring pumpkin pie mixture into a pan. 

“I’ll get right on it!” Cas called back. 

“I can start working on the muffins,” Anael said. 

“That’s okay, I can do it,” Cas replied. 

Anael shook her head with a smile, “It’s no trouble, I just finished my cookies.”

“If you’re sure-”

“Just work on the pies, Cas,” Anael said. 

“Okay,” Cas replied. He moved over to the oven and placed the pie inside before turning back to make another one. 

“So, how was your Thanksgiving?” 

Cas shrugged. “It was good.” 

“Do anything special?” Anael asked as she poured some blueberries into a mixing bowl.

“Not really,” Cas replied, even though he smiled at the memory of dinner with Dean and his family. “Just a small family gathering, nothing super elaborate.” 

“Sometimes small is better,” Anael said as she began to mix the muffin batter together. 

Cas nodded. “Yeah. What about you? What did you do for Thanksgiving?” 

Anael kept her gaze focused on the spoon in her hand. “Nothing really. I saw my sister, Rachel, for the first time since I moved here.” 

“Oh?” Cas raised an eyebrow. “By your tone, I take it it wasn’t a nice reunion.” 

Anael scoffed. “That’s an understatement.” 

“I’m sorry.” 

Anael sniffed and shrugged. “Not your fault.” 

“Still, it’s not fun being on the outs with family,” Cas said. “My brother Gabriel and I have had a few fights in our time, not speaking for months kind of fights, and it sucked. But we always ended up figuring everything out. I’m sure things will be okay with your sister.” 

“Ha,” Anael scoffed. “If you knew Rachel you wouldn’t be saying that.” 

“Oh come on, she can’t be all that bad,” Cas said. 

“Think again. She’s a bitch.” 

“Is that so?” Cas questioned as he began to knead a slab of dough. 

“She stole my boyfriend from right under my nose,” Anael snapped. “They eloped together a month later.” 

Cas’ mouth dropped open of its own accord. “You’re kidding.”

Anael scowled. “I wish I was.” 

“Damn. I’m sorry, that’s awful.” 

“Yeah, and the kicker is, the little bitch doesn’t think she did anything wrong, because they’re ‘in love’ .” 

“Well,” Cas said cautiously as he began to roll out the dough, “maybe they are.” 

Anael glared at him. “She doesn’t know the first thing about love.” 

“How long have they been together?” 

“Two years, almost,” Anael replied bitterly. 

“Well, if they’re still together after all this time, they sound in love to me,” Cas said softly. 

Anael sighed, deflated. “Maybe.” She sniffed as she began to pour the muffin batter into cupcake trays. “I just… I want to be happy for her, I do, but how can I after what she did?” 

“You saw her for Thanksgiving, I’d say that’s a step in the right direction for reconciliation,” Cas said. 

“I’m not sure I’m ready to reconcile with her, not yet. She invited me as a formality, because she’s… she’s pregnant.” 

Cas put his rolling pin down and turned his full attention to Anael. “You can’t keep holding this anger in, you need to let it go and move on.” 

Anael sighed. “I can’t.” 

“Why not?” 

“I can’t trust her again, I can’t let someone like that back into my life.” 

“Well, I can’t offer you any more advice. The rest is up to you. If you can’t forgive your sister, then think about the child she’s carrying. Decide if you want to be a part of that child’s life, and if you do, then you need to talk to her.” 

“You know Castiel, you’re pretty wise,” Anael said, a thoughtful expression falling across her face. 

Cas shrugged as he picked up the rolling pin again. “I try.” 

They continued to make their respective baked goods and when lunch time came around, Cas decided that he would sit outside, as it was a surprisingly warm day for the end of November. “Would you like some company, Castiel?” Hannah asked as Cas headed for the door. 

Cas turned back to look at her and offered her a smile. “Sure.” 

Hannah picked up her own lunch bag and then she and Cas exited the bakery and took their seats on the bench outside. “It’s a wonderful day, isn’t it?” 

“It is,” Cas agreed. 

“Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?” 

“I did. Did you?” 

“Oh it was lovely. I saw my twin sister, Caroline, and her husband Joe.” 

“You have a twin sister?” Cas asked over a bite of his apple. 

“Yes.” Hannah bit into her sandwich and said, “My mother is always telling me I need to settle down like Caroline did, find a husband, make a life.” Hannah sighed and glanced over at Cas, her gaze softening. “But, it’s hard to find the right man. Someone that’s kind, funny, and charismatic.” 

Cas swallowed his latest bite of apple and offered Hannah a half smile. His mind instantly went to Dean and how lucky he was to have found someone that was all three of those things and more. “I wouldn’t know,” he said after a moment. 

Hannah’s eyes hardened slightly. “Oh? Do you have someone, Castiel?” 

Cas nodded thoughtfully as he unwrapped a turkey sandwich Dean had made him. “Yes.” 

“I see.” Hannah’s voice was stiff and Cas found himself narrowing his eyes in confusion. 

“Have I said something wrong?” he asked. 

Hannah shook her head. “No, I just… I need to go see if Garth has everything under control inside.” 

“But you’ve hardly finished your lunch,” Cas protested. 

“I’m not hungry anymore,” Hannah replied darkly. She stood up and disappeared back into the bakery, leaving Cas to stare after her in confusion. 

Movement across the street made Cas turn to look at the entrance of The Winchester Tavern where a brunette woman accompanied by a teenage boy were entering the bar. Cas watched them disappear inside and then went back to his sandwich, chewing it slowly as he let the flavors of turkey, lettuce, and tomato wash over his taste buds. Dean had insisted on sending Cas to work with a leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich and Cas couldn’t find it in his heart to argue with Dean. 

Cas’ eyes were again drawn to the door of The Winchester Tavern as Dean himself came outside. Cas set his lunch down and stood up as Dean came towards him. 

“Dean,” Cas said once he reached him. 

Dean gave Cas a weary smile. “Hi.” 

“Is everything okay?” Cas asked. 

“Oh yeah, everything’s fine,” Dean replied. Cas narrowed his eyes in disbelief but decided that if Dean didn’t want to share what was on his mind then that was his choice. Dean took one of Cas’ hands in his and led him back to the bench Cas had just vacated. “Cas,”

“Yeah Dean?” 

“I, uh, I wanted to ask you if you’d maybe like to go out tonight for dinner,” Dean said carefully. 

Cas smiled. “Dean, are you asking me out on a date?” 

Dean rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Maybe.” 

Cas laughed and squeezed Dean’s hand reassuringly. “You’re my boyfriend, Dean, of course I want to go on a date with you.” 

“Really?” Dean asked, his green eyes shining with hope. 

“Yes really,” Cas replied. He drew Dean into a short kiss and then asked, “Were you really worried I’d say no?” 

Dean shrugged. “Hey, just because you’re my boyfriend doesn’t mean you can’t say no to a date.” 

Cas rolled his eyes and leaned back in for another kiss, which Dean readily gave him. “I have to get back to work, but I will see you tonight for dinner.” 

“I’ll pick you up at eight,” Dean called after Cas as he opened the bakery door. 

“Hey amigo,” Garth said as Cas began to make his way back towards the kitchen, weaving his way around a line of customers. 

“Hi Garth,” Cas replied. 

“Did you have a good lunch?” Garth asked as he handed a woman a box of muffins. 

“It was good, thanks.” 

“Ya know, Hannah came back in here a few minutes ago, she didn’t seem happy. She said she was going to take a walk. Any idea what’s up with her?” Garth asked as Cas was about to enter the kitchen. 

“She got up and left while we were eating, I don’t know why,” Cas said, his confusion causing his eyebrows to knit together. 

“Did she say something?” Garth asked. “Did you say something?” 

Cas shook his head. “Not that I know of.” 

“Walk me through what happened,” Garth said as he opened the cash register for a woman’s change. 

“I don’t know what happened,” Cas replied. “She started talking about her sister and how she’s settled down with a husband and she asked me if I was with someone and I said yes and then she left.” 

Garth smacked himself on the forehead with the palm of his hand. “Amigo, do you really not see what got her upset?” Cas shook his head, eyes searching Garth’s intense gaze. “She likes you!” 

“She… she… she what?” Cas stammered. 

“She’s practically fawning over you,” Garth chuckled. 

Cas shook his head. “That can’t be right.” 

“It is,” Garth said. “Since day one I think she’s had a thing for you. But you’re a taken man, so I guess she’ll just have to deal.”

Cas couldn’t quite wrap his head around what Garth was telling him. Hannah liked him, like that

“Right, well uh,” Cas cleared his throat and moved towards the kitchen door. “I need to get back to work.” 

“Yeah, sorry,” Garth said as Cas finally entered the kitchen. 

Anael looked up from cutting up some apples for a pie. “Are you okay?” 

Cas swallowed hard and met Anael’s gaze. “I don’t know.” 

Anael stopped cutting her apples and moved over to take Cas by the arm. “What’s wrong?” 

“Did… did you know Hannah was into me?” Cas asked shakily. 

“Well, yeah,” Anael replied as her hand slipped from Cas’ arm. “Anyone could see that. Well, anyone but you, apparently.” 

Cas sighed and leaned against the counter. “Apparently. But... I’m not into… her .” 

Anael shrugged and returned to her apple’s. “So tell her.” 

“I kind of already did, indirectly,” Cas replied with another heavy sigh. 

“Oh.” Anael moved over to a slab of dough that was waiting to be rolled and began to knead it. “She’ll just have to take it then.” 

“I didn’t mean to hurt her. I had no idea,” Cas said, crestfallen. 

“Don’t beat yourself up over it. You don’t like her like that, so what? Doesn’t mean you can’t be friends.” 

“I guess, but will she even still want to be friends?” Cas asked. 

“You won’t know until you talk to her,” Anael replied. 

“What if she doesn’t want to talk to me ?” 

Anael rolled her eyes. “That’s her problem then.” 

“I guess,” Cas said, although he wasn’t quite sure he believed that. 

Cas decided to start making some cookies and as he was perusing through the cabinets for flour Anael asked, “So, who’s the lucky girl then?” 

Cas almost dropped the bag of flour he had just pulled from the shelf. “Uh,” he faltered as he regained his footing. Could he really trust Anael with this? Would she hate him like everyone else usually does when he tells them? Cas straightened and placed the flour on the table and he let his eyes drift to the floor. “It’s uh,” he cleared his throat and licked his lips, “it’s a guy, actually.” Cas let his eyes flick carefully up to Anael’s face, gauging her reacting, preparing for the disgust to cross her face. 

“Oh?” Was all Anael said, her expression was completely unreadable but Cas thought he saw a small smile tickle the corner of her mouth. “Anyone I know?” she asked as she turned back to her dough. 

“Uh,” Cas sniffed and began to open the new bag of flour. “Yeah, actually.” 

Anael’s gaze snapped to Cas and she raised an eyebrow. “Oh really? Who?” 

Cas made himself busy by pouring a cup of flour into a bowl. “If I tell you, you have to promise not to go blabbing to anyone. Being in a relationship like this, it’s not exactly easy. And I don’t want to bring anything upon my, uh, my boyfriend, if word gets out.” 

“Hey, I get it,” Anael replied. “I promise we’ll just keep this between us.” 

Cas could hear the honesty in her voice and so he nodded slowly and said, “My boyfriend kind of owns the bar across the street.” 

Anael nearly dropped her rolling pin as she stared at Cas in shock. “Dean Winchester!? You’re dating Dean fucking Winchester !? I can’t believe it, I actually can’t believe it. Oh my God. Dean Winchester is a homosexual !?” 

Cas groaned. “Shh, if you keep shouting like that the whole bakery will hear you!” 

“Sorry, sorry,” Anael said, lowering her voice. She continued in a whisper. “ Dean Winchester? Dean Winchester, seriously?” 

Cas felt a grin spread across his face. “Yeah, Dean Winchester.” 

“You’re so lucky, you have no idea. Every time I go into his bar I try to pick him up, but now I understand why he never took me up on my offers for a drink; he’s a homosexual.” 

“Please,” Cas said, holding up his hand, “Dean’s not a homosexual, he’s bisexual, he likes guys and girls.”

Anael bit her lip and smiled. “So… if he flirted back with me - I mean I’m not saying he did - but... it might have been real?” 

Cas laughed. “Maybe. Look, I’m about as straight as a rainbow, and even I know you’re a pretty girl. I wouldn’t blame Dean if he did flirt with you.” 

Anael giggled but then quickly pulled herself together. “You know, you should tell Hannah, it might make her feel better if she knows she actually never had a shot at being with you.” 

Cas shook his head. “Not everyone is as accepting as you. I don't know if I want to risk telling Hannah and having her hate me.”

Anael huffed. “She won’t hate you, she’s a smart girl.” 

“I don’t know…” 

“Oh come on, just do it.” 

Cas sighed. “Alright, fine. I will.” 

“Good. I can hold down the fort if you want to go find her,” Anael said. 

Cas nodded. “I guess I should.” 

Cas left his bowl of muffin batter and headed back out to the main room of the bakery. Garth was still behind the counter, but the line that Cas had walked in on was gone; however, two customers were sitting at a table sharing a piece of pie. 

“Hey there Cas,” Garth said. “Back so soon?”

“Hey Garth, has Hannah come back from her walk?” 

“Yeah, I saw her walk up, I think she’s out on the bench,” Garth replied. 

Cas nodded. “Thanks.” 

Sure enough, when Cas went outside he found Hannah sitting where they’d had lunch. He sat next to her and Hannah glanced warily at him before turning her eyes back down to the ground. 

“Hannah,” Cas began. 

“What?” Hannah snapped. 

Cas steeled himself with a sigh. “I’m sorry.” Hannah sniffed but didn’t say anything so Cas continued, “Look, I didn’t know how you felt, until just now, and I’m sorry about that, but I wanted you to know that it has nothing to do with you. I think you’re great-”

“You do?” Hannah asked, finally bringing her eyes up to meet Cas’. 

Cas smiled. “Yes, I do.” He put a hand over one of hers. “The thing is, Hannah, I want you to understand that it’s not that I don’t like you, you’re just not exactly… my type .”

Hannah canted her head to the side in confusion. “What’s that supposed to mean?” 

Cas groaned inwardly, why was this so hard ? “I told you I was with someone-” 

“Yes, you mentioned it,” Hannah cut in bitterly. 

Cas felt his jaw clench involuntarily. “Well, he is pretty special, and-” 

He ?” Hannah gasped. 

And there it was, the disgust, the suspiciously narrowed eyes, the anger. Cas felt his stomach clench as he prepared for what was coming. “Yes, he ,” Cas repeated. 

“You’re a… a…” Hannah spluttered in shock. “A… homosexual ?” 

Cas sighed. “Yes.” 

Hannah stared at Cas as if X-raying him to find out what was wrong. “How?” 

Cas let out a short laugh. “What do you mean, how ?” 

“How can a guy like you … be… be gay?” 

Cas shrugged. “I don’t know, it’s just the way I am.” Truthfully, sometimes he wished he wasn’t, it would make his life so much easier.

Hannah ripped her hand from Cas’ and stood up. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I ever liked you, I can’t believe I’ve been working with someone like you , this whole time without knowing it.” Without another word, Hannah stormed away and Cas was left sitting on the bench, forcing the hurt inside of him back down. 

About a minute later, Cas was still sitting on the bench, trying to push away the memory of hatred in Hannah’s eyes, when she came back out, coat and purse in hand. “Good day Castiel,” she spat at him. “I’ve just quit; and I hope I never see you again.” 

Cas stared after her, speechless. He let the tears, that were pushing against the banks of his eyelids, fall. He buried his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with each breath. Cas felt like he couldn’t breathe, like everything was collapsing around him while he stood still, unable to stop the walls from falling. 

This is why you shouldn’t trust people, Castiel. This is why you stopped letting people into your life. You’re broken and twisted, and no one will ever be able to fix you or straighten you out. Why did you have to be born this way? Why couldn’t you be normal? Cas berated himself as more tears fell from his cheeks. 

Running footsteps filled Cas’ ears but they sounded far away, as if in a dream. Hands slid across his back and wrapped around his shoulders, pulling him close. “Cas, Cas, what’s wrong?” 

Cas let his hands fall from his face with a sniff as he realized who was holding him. “Dean?” 

Dean smiled softly at him, green eyes surrounded by crinkles. Dean’s thumb wiped a tear from Cas’ cheek and Cas reached up to hold Dean’s hand against his face. “What happened?” Dean asked in a whisper. “I saw Hannah yell at you through the window.”

Cas shook his head, another tear dripping from his eye. “She quit, because…” 

“Because of what Cas?” Dean asked gently, giving his shoulders a squeeze. 

“Because of me,” Cas cried. “Because I d-didn’t return her f-feelings. A-and I t-told her, w-why...” Cas hiccuped and wiped a hand under his nose. 

“That you’re not, strictly speaking, into women?” Dean finished carefully.

Cas nodded. “She h-hates me n-now.” 

Dean kissed the top of Cas’ head and pulled him even closer. “She doesn’t know what she’s missing. It’s her loss.” 

“Why do I have to be like this Dean?” Cas asked through another hiccup. “Why couldn’t I be normal?” 

“Hey, don’t talk like that,” Dean said. “You’re perfect, just the way you are.” 

Cas sniffed as tears continued to overlap tears. “It’s easy for you, you could still marry a nice girl, have a family. You don’t have to stay with me, I break everything I touch.” 

Dean’s hands vanished from his back and instead he felt gentle fingers lift up his chin, causing him to stare into a forest of green. “I don’t want anyone but you, Cas.”

“Are you sure?” Cas asked cautiously.

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

 Dean’s lips met Cas’ before he could say another word and Cas let himself forget about Hannah as Dean drew the kiss deeper. When they pulled apart Dean brought Cas into a hug and Cas rested his chin over Dean’s shoulder’s, allowing for the sturdy build of Dean’s chest to ground him. When Dean pulled away, he smiled at Cas and Cas couldn’t help but return it, however feeble it might have looked. 

“Now, I need to get back to work, before my hot date tonight, which we’re still on for, right?”

Cas nodded and wiped away any remaining tears he had. “Yes, Dean.” 

“Good, I’ll see you at eight.” Dean tossed Cas a wink over his shoulder as he crossed the street back to his bar, leaving Cas to wonder, again, how he’d gotten so lucky. 

****

True to his word, at eight o’clock, there was a knock on Cas’ door. Cas had dressed in black pants, a white button down shirt - freshly ironed-, his favorite blue tie, and a blue jacket. When Cas opened the door it revealed that Dean was dressed much the same as Cas, save for a black tie instead of blue and he was wearing his leather jacket. 

“Ready to go?” Dean asked with a grin as he held out his hand for Cas to take. 

“Ready,” Cas replied as he took Dean’s hand. 

Dean brought Cas out to his car and walked him to the passenger side door. “After you,” he said as he opened the door for Cas. 

Cas smiled and stepped into the car. “Thank you.” 

Dean shut the door and Cas watched him walk to his own side of the car and as Dean sat down Cas asked, “So, where are we going?” 

Dean turned the key in the ignition and grinned. “Well, we’re going to dinner, and the rest is a surprise.” 

 

When they reached the restaurant, Dean took the lead and they entered the building. Cas had to work hard not to let his mouth drop. Glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling, ornate rugs decorated the floors, the smell of wine and champagne filled the air with a pleasant aroma.

“Good evening,” a young man said as he stepped up to them, he was dressed in a sharp tuxedo and his blond hair was slicked back. “Table for two?” 

“We actually have a reservation,” Dean said. 

“Oh of course, can I get a name?”

“Winchester, party of two,” Dean replied.

“A yes, we have you right here,” the man said. “Right this way.”

Cas and Dean followed the waiter to a table where they were handed menus and told the specials. “What’re you thinking of getting?” Dean asked. 

“I’m not sure yet, there’s so many good options,” Cas replied as his eyes roamed over the words on the menu. 

“I’m going for the steak,” Dean said as he set his menu down. 

“Mmm, the steak does look really good. But I think I’m going to go for the smoked salmon.” 

“Ooo, good choice,” Dean said. 

When the waiter returned, they placed their orders and Dean asked for a bottle of wine which was readily provided to them. Cas took a sip of the smooth red liquid and then set his glass back down carefully upon the table. They made idle chat, which was mostly filled with them just staring into each other’s eyes. By the time their food arrived Cas was starving and he dug into his fish hungrily. The salmon was delicious to say the least; to say the most, it was probably the best fish he’d ever tasted in his life. 

“How’s your steak?” Cas asked. 

“Amazing,” Dean replied. “Want a bite?” Dean waved a piece of steak on his fork at Cas and Cas laughed. 

“Yeah okay.” 

Dean held the fork in the middle of the table and Cas leaned forward and let Dean guide the fork into his mouth. “Good huh?” Dean said as Cas sat back and chewed the steak thoughtfully. 

“It is,” Cas agreed. “Want to try some salmon?” 

“If you’re offering,” Dean replied. Cas repeated the action that Dean had just done to him and when Dean sat back this time, he let out a breath. “Wow, that’s awesome.” 

“Isn’t it?” Cas said as he took another bite of the fish. 

“You made a great choice with that,” Dean said. 

“Yeah, I think so too.” 

They made it through their dinner and moved onto dessert where they ordered a slice of blueberry pie to share with a side of ice cream. When it came time for the bill Dean took care of it without so much as allowing Cas to put in a word otherwise. 

Now, as Dean directed them out of the restaurant parking lot Cas let out a content sigh. “Thank you for this, Dean.” 

“You’re welcome,” Dean replied with a soft smile. 

“So, where are we going now?” Cas asked, his curiosity starting to get the better of him. 

“It’s nowhere special, but I thought I’d show you where my mother used to take me after we had dinner when I was a kid.” 

Dean pulled the car up on the side of the street and then came around to get Cas’ door, taking his hand to help him out of the car. Dean kept their hands joined as he led Cas onto the sidewalk and through a set of gates into a park. 

Even though it was nearly December now, the grass that lined each side of the walkway was green and there were lights hanging from the trees. Dean brought them to a stop at a bench and Cas smiled as he let the peacefulness of the park wash over him. 

“This is beautiful, Dean,” Cas sighed. 

“Yeah, it is,” Dean agreed. 

“Tonight was amazing,” Cas said as he leaned into Dean, who respectively put an arm around Cas’ shoulder, drawing him closer. 

“I’m glad you liked it,” Dean said into Cas’ hair. 

“An evening with you, what’s not to like?” Cas laughed. “So,” he said after a moment, “you said your mother would bring you here.” 

Dean nodded. “That’s right. When Sam was born she was always busy, taking care of him, and whenever she got a minute to herself, she’d take me to dinner and then we’d come for a walk in the park.” 

“That must have been nice,” Cas said. 

“It was. Come on, I want to show you the statue.” 

“What statue?” 

Dean pulled Cas to his feet and set them off at a brisk pace. “You’ll see.”

Cas allowed Dean to drag him at a speed that could have almost been a run, until they came to a halt in front of a large marble statue of a woman. “Is this…” 

Dean nodded. “My mom, yeah.” Dean pointed to the plaque that was standing erect in front of the statue. “Mary Winchester, loving wife and mother, 1901-1930.”  he read outloud. “Everyone loved her, so the town put this statue up to commemorate her, I guess. I never really understood it, but I’m grateful just the same.”

“It’s beautiful, Dean. She’s beautiful,” Cas said, taking Dean’s hand in his. 

“Yeah, well, I figured since you’re never going to be able to meet her, this would be the next best thing,” Dean said with a sniff. 

Cas felt his eyes begin to grow wet and he tugged gently on Dean’s arm, causing him to turn and face him. “Dean Winchester,” Cas said in a whisper as he let his fingers close around the tie Dean had hanging around his neck, “you are just about the sweetest person I’ve ever met.” 

“Is that so?” Dean asked, a smirk tightening his lips.

Cas pulled Dean in by the fabric of his tie until their lips were only centimeters apart. “Yeah, that’s so,” Cas grinned. “And for the record, I think this is pretty special,” he whispered as he closed the gap between them and let their lips do the rest of the work. 

When they broke apart Dean’s hand found Cas’ again. “Come on, let’s go home.” 

 

****

The next day, Cas decided to go to Dean’s bar for lunch, so he bade Garth goodbye and headed across the street and into the tavern. “Cas!” Dean said excitedly as soon as the bell rang above the door. 

“Good afternoon, Dean,” Cas replied as he took a seat at the bar. 

“What can I get you?” Dean asked. 

“I think I’ll have one of Benny’s famous burgers,” Cas answered. 

“Coming right up,” Dean replied as he slipped off to the kitchen to place Cas’ order. 

As Dean was coming back, the bell above the door chimed and Cas turned his head to see the same woman and teenage boy he’d seen yesterday, walk into the bar. When Cas looked back over at Dean he saw that Dean’s shoulder’s had stiffened and his jaw was set as he scowled at the woman.

“Lisa, I told you yesterday-” 

“That I’m not welcome here, I know,” Lisa snapped. 

Cas looked from Lisa to Dean in confusion. Who was this woman?

“So then what are you doing here?” Dean asked, crossing his arms as he glared at her. 

Lisa closed the large gap between them and came to stand beside the stool Cas was currently occupying. “I need to talk to you,” she said. 

“I’ve already told you, I’m not interested,” Dean spat. 

Lisa sighed and glanced over her shoulder to where the teenage boy was standing awkwardly behind her. “Dean, please, I didn’t want to tell you like this-” 

“Tell me what?” Dean groused, irritation flashing across his green eyes. “Stop beating around the bush, Lisa, just spit it out and then get the hell out of my bar.” 

Lisa looked over her shoulder again and gestured for the boy to come forward. Cas swallowed uncomfortably as the boy came to a stop beside Lisa. 

“Dean, this is Ben,” Lisa said. 

Dean’s expression didn’t change, save for his eyes narrowing as he took in the boy. “Nice to meet you,” Dean said bitterly as he regarded Ben. “Now, if that’s all-” 

“That’s not all,” Lisa interrupted. She placed a hand on Ben’s shoulder, “Ben,” she said as she brought her eyes up to meet Dean’s, “this is Dean, he’s your father.”