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Dean has been working at his new job for exactly two days the first time he sees him. 

Starting a new job is always a whirlwind. It’s stressful trying to impress the boss, get along with co-workers, pair dozens of new names with unfamiliar faces, and in his case, pretend to be an actual grown-up who feels comfortable in dress pants, button-up shirts, and one of the five ties he owns that he’s going to have to circulate very carefully until he gets his first paycheck. That’s how he knows the other people they interviewed for this position must have been shit. It wasn’t even in his top ten interviews performance-wise, he can hardly dress the part let alone act it, and it may have only been two days, but he’s already barely keeping his head above water with all of this finance talk. It kind of sucks.

He knows he’ll get it, though. He catches on quickly, despite what the chick who’s supposed to be training him obviously thinks. And so what if he isn’t necessarily getting along with this Meg character? His boss is cool as shit and the job pays well. Hell, it even comes with medical insurance and a 401k, and those’re two things he never thought he’d have, especially not at 25. So he’s gotta stick it out — not that he has any other choice. It may be true that he never saw himself working in a financial services office, but when one door closes another opens and all that shit, and a job’s a job, so he’s bound and determined to make the most out of it. 

And like the universe was waiting to present him with a reason to stick it out besides the money, the office door opens with the jingle of the bell on day two. A man with dark brown, wind-swept hair walks in with pink cheeks despite the scarf wound around his neck, and a large wicker basket balancing on his hip. 

It’s Dean’s job to greet him, so he plasters on a customer service smile and says, “Good morning.”

“Good morning!” The man’s voice is much deeper than he expected, but he forgets all about that a second later when he sees the bright smile aimed his way. This guy seems really genuinely happy to see him, which is baffling since they’re strangers, but he’s sure as shit not gonna complain about it when he’s hit with a smile from a friendly customer. “You must be the new guy.”

“Guilty as charged. I’m Dean.”

He’s taken by surprise when the guy comes right around the side of his desk, not only by how he’s acting overly familiar with the space, but also by the deep blue of his eyes. That’s when the friendly stranger balances the basket on his hip like magic and offers his hand for a shake. “Pleasure to meet you, Dean. I’m Castiel.” Castiel’s hands are oddly warm, especially since he should be freezing in his thin, tan trench coat, but he has a sturdy handshake. “I work just across the street at Busy Bee Interiors, so we’ll likely be seeing a lot of each other.”

“Oh, okay.” Truthfully, Dean’s lived here his whole life and had no idea there was a place called Busy Bee Interiors on Main Street, but Castiel doesn’t have to know that. “You do a lot of investing here, I guess?”

“Oh.” Castiel gives a gentle shake of his head around a quiet laugh. “I do conduct business here, but not that often.”

“Clarence is the one who sets up our displays,” Meg tells him. He barely spares her a glance, knowing that she probably only piped up now because he’s made an ass out of himself for the investing comment.

“That’s why I’m here today,” Castiel says happily, finally gesturing to the basket. “It’s officially fall, which means I’m here to switch out your decorations. I usually do it every couple of weeks just to spruce the place up. Customers really like it.”

He never really paid any attention to the decor of the office, so for lack of anything else to say, Dean says, “Cool.”

Castiel smiles happily again while he shucks his scarf and trench coat, and Dean has to turn his head to stifle his snicker when he sees the dude is wearing a checkered dress shirt with an actual sweater vest. And not just any sweater vest, a sweater vest that looks homemade, covered in multicolored leaves. What a nerd.

“Clarence always dresses for the season,” Meg says under her breath. Dean nods in response as he pretends to go back to reading the training manual that might as well be written in Chinese as far as he’s concerned. 

Apparently Castiel (or Clarence?) is every bit as friendly as he first thought, though, because as he starts removing the line of tiny American flags from the ledge surrounding Dean’s desk, he asks, “So what do you think of the new job so far?”

He gives the same answer he’s given everybody who’s asked him since yesterday. “It’s a lot to learn, that’s for sure.”

“I can imagine. Do you have a background in finances?”

“Not even a little bit. I was working the desk at a garage before this.” He gestures down at the training manual. “To be totally honest, most of this is gibberish,” he admits with a sheepish smile.

“You seem bright enough. I’m sure you’ll pick it up faster than you think,” Castiel says, and when he adds a tiny, comforting smile, Dean almost believes that for the first time.

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Meg says snidely.

Dean feels his body tense as another dig from Meg makes its home in the pit of his stomach. Along with all the other ones from the past two days, he feels like he’s got a damn boulder in there. Every time Meg asks him something he doesn’t have the answer to (which is often), he feels more and more like he’s never going to get the hang of this and he fucking hates that she makes him feel stupid when he knows he isn’t. He’s painfully aware of his cheeks heating up now that Meg’s said something like that in front of Castiel, and he’s trying to think of some kind of excuse to step away from his desk when Castiel comes to the rescue.

“Chuck knows what he’s doing,” Castiel comments, which throws him off since he has no idea who the hell Chuck is. One of the two dozen names he hasn’t memorized yet, maybe? “He wouldn’t have hired you if he didn’t think you could do the job,” he says, more to Dean now than to Meg. “I trust his judgement.”

“Wait — you call Charles Shurely Chuck?”  

Castiel’s smile is filled with amusement, and he flicks his blue eyes up from where he’s now winding some leafy garland thing around the little cup of pens that’s on his desk. “Uncle Chuck most of the time.”

Actually, now that Castiel mentions it, there is some resemblance with the blue eyes and the boyish good looks. (Not that he necessarily wants to think of his boss as good-looking, but he’s cute in an older man kinda way. Same as how the scrawny guy’s cute in a little lost puppy kind of way, with his geeky sweater vest and too-big trench coat.)

“And just because he’s my uncle doesn’t mean what I said isn’t true. In fact, it should probably add some weight to what I said considering how well I know him,” Castiel insists, reminding him what he said earlier about Charles hiring him. “You’re going to do fine, here, Dean.”

He’s a little warm under the collar from just how earnestly Castiel is looking at him, and he finds himself shifting slightly in his seat while he tries to pretend he isn’t affected. “Well, I appreciate the vote of confidence. And, uh, the leaves look great.”

Castiel’s smile flashes quickly, and inexplicably, Dean feels his stomach swoop. Jesus, this guy is really something else. He’s not his type at all, but Castiel looks good still flushed from what he assumes was the wind on his face on the way over here. His hair sticking up haphazardly is wild but also kinda cute, plus he’s got those incredibly blue eyes and long, graceful fingers, and when you add in his kind (and surprisingly hot) smile, it’s weirdly sorta working for him. 

Even with the hideous sweater vest.

Dean’s only been working here for two days, though, and mentioning that he swings both ways when it comes to dating hasn’t exactly come up so far. Plus, Castiel is his boss’s nephew, and coming on to him seems like a really good way to lose his job. So he dismisses even the vague idea of flirting with him before it really takes root and smiles back timidly before he drops his gaze in a more concentrated effort to get back to work. 

“Oooh, we’re switching to Werthers?” Meg asks suddenly. Dean looks up to see Castiel swapping out the disgusting Riesen candies for Werthers.

“Yes, your office is a hard sell on these for some reason,” Castiel responds.

Dean waits a second or two to see if that pun was intentional, but since nobody else says anything he swallows down the laugh that was dangerously close to bubbling free.

Instead, he says, “That’s ‘cause they taste like ass.” 

It gets a laugh out of Meg and a quiet huff out of Castiel. “They’re the most popular candy at the accounting office down the street,” Castiel tells him. “I go twice a week and still can’t keep them stocked.”

“Yeah, but they’re accountants.” He says it like the entire profession is something gross stuck to the bottom of his shoe, and Castiel smiles with amusement. “Gross candy is probably the closest thing to fun they’ve ever had.”

An email notification pops up from Charles asking him to send a registered withdrawal request, and he sends a helpless look over at Meg to see if she’ll tell him what the hell that means. 

“Check the book,” she says, leaning back in her chair and starting to file her nails.

He’s so busy mentally cursing her while he flips through the training manual (which he has come to hate with a fiery passion) that he forgets all about Castiel until he feels a gentle hand on his shoulder some time later. He damn near leaps out of his skin, but when he glances up, Castiel has another kind smile on his face to go along with his open expression, and he finds his shoulders relaxing unconsciously. 

“It was nice to meet you, Dean. I’ll see you again soon.”

Dean nods and offers a warm smile in return. “You too, Castiel.”

He keeps what he hopes is a covert eye on Castiel as he gets back into his trench coat and wraps his scarf around his neck again, but just when the bell jingles and he thinks he’s in the clear, Castiel turns back and their eyes meet across the room. He can’t be completely sure from so far away, but it looks like Castiel’s blush deepens. He doesn’t get a chance to linger over that, though, because for some weird reason, Castiel gives him an enthusiastic thumbs up and a cheesy smile that has Dean releasing a bark of laughter.

Which is when Castiel somehow manages to trip over the basket filled with American Flags on the way out the door. 

Dean’s up and on his feet in an instant, the instinct to help the nerdy guy stronger than he can ignore, but he sees Castiel straighten up before he can even take a step. When Meg snorts a laugh beside him, he sinks back into his chair silently and looks back at the stupid fucking book in a valliant attempt to ignore the burning hatred he feels towards her and everything else that’s happened in the last thirty seconds.

Well, except maybe that adorably geeky thumbs-up and the possible blush on Castiel’s face after their eyes locked...

Over the next two weeks, he notices that the candy dish gets refilled at least once a week, but despite the fact that he’s in the office seven hours a day, he never actually sees Castiel again. He wonders if Castiel is avoiding him after he gave him an adorkable thumbs up and fell out the door, but two weeks is a long time to avoid a person when they both know they’re bound to run into each other again eventually. 

It’s a Thursday in the middle of October when he finally sees him again. Instead of taking his lunch from 12-1 like he usually does, he’s stuck with the 1-2 slot today since Meg has an appointment. He’s a creature of habit, so his stomach isn’t the only thing that’s grumbly about the time change. When he hears the jingle on the door he aims a fake smile in that direction, and he sees Castiel with the same basket in his arms as before.

His hair is all over the place again, his cheeks are pink from the cold, and he’s still in his trench coat (which isn’t anywhere near warm enough with the chill outside today) but it’s paired with a black and orange striped scarf this time. The smile that was on Castiel’s face when he walked through the door falls for a split second before he smiles a second time.

“Hello, Dean.”

“Hey,” Dean responds carefully. “Aren’t you freezing?”

“It’s a cold one, but I didn’t have far to walk, and I’m wearing layers,” Castiel answers. “How’ve you been?”

“Good.” Even though he’s more sure than ever that Castiel has been avoiding him after seeing Castiel’s smile fall when he walked in, he feels more relaxed talking to him this time since Meg isn’t breathing down his neck and Charles is in a meeting with a client. He doesn’t have to pretend to be Mr. Professional without them watching him, he can just be himself. Which probably explains why he watches Cas unwind his scarf and shed his trench coat without worrying about getting caught staring. “I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of you. Thought you came in here all the time?”

“I do.” And yeah, there’s the deepening of his blush again. He looks guilty, only further cementing Dean’s suspicions. “I guess we just keep missing each other when you’re gone for lunch.”

“How convenient.” He makes sure his voice comes out with a hint of a teasing nature to it, but he misses the opportunity to hear what Castiel’s response would’ve been because when Castiel turns to face him, he gets an eyeful of a bright orange hand-knit sweater with two yellow eyes and a mouth. He’s grinning wide and not at all serious when he says, “Nice sweater.”

“Thank you,” Castiel says earnestly. “I made it myself. I thought it was appropriate for work since today’s the day I’m switching out the fall decorations for Halloween ones.”

“You’re like a Cas-O-Lantern,” Dean quips. Castiel giggles, and when he gets a glimpse of Castiel’s nose scrunched up and a hint of pink gums showing over his top row of teeth, Dean feels an insane urge to gather him up in his arms and press two dozen kisses into his hair.

What the fuck?

“Cas-O-Lantern,” Castiel repeats with a smile. “I like that. Are you settling in here okay?”

“Yeah. I think I understand about a quarter of what they’re talking about now,” he tells him, adding a sideways smile of his own to let Castiel know he’s not upset about it. 

“See, I knew you would get it.” Castiel’s voice is bordering on proud, and when Dean looks at him questioningly, Castiel busies himself with removing the wreath hanging off of Dean’s desk and getting rid of the leaves that are around the cup of pens. Because he’s watching Castiel so closely, he notices when Castiel flicks his eyes towards Charles’ door before he speaks again, and he’s braced for something bad when Cas’s voice comes out more quiet than before. “How’s Meg been?”

Not wanting to come right out and say something bad about the person he works the closest with (even if he does fantasize about her falling into an active volcano several times a day), he just shrugs a single shoulder.

Castiel seems to understand what he’s unwilling to say, though. “I know what you mean. She has her moments when she’s surprisingly kind, but overall, she can be a bit difficult to say the least. I’m glad you haven’t let her chase you away yet.”

“Is that something that happens often?”

Castiel is smoothing out some kind of fabric runner along the length of the ledge around his desk. “You didn’t hear it from me,” Castiel replies with a horrible attempt at a wink that only endears Dean further to the nerdy guy. 

“So I guess you’re really into the whole decorating thing, huh?” 

Castiel nods as he smooths the fabric out. “I am.”

“Is it like a family thing? Your parents were always nuts about the holidays so you just kinda followed in their footsteps?” he wonders.

“Actually, it’s kind of the opposite,” Castiel says sadly. “Without getting too personal, I guess you could say I didn’t have a stable childhood, so I never got to experience the holidays the way a lot of children do. Once I was old enough to live alone, I started celebrating on my own — which included a lot of over the top decorating — and I realized pretty quickly based on compliments I received that I had a knack for it. I decorated for friends and the places I worked as often as I could, and once I saw how happy the end result made people, I knew I’d found my calling.”

Dean’s always been a bit of a bleeding heart, so it’s no surprise that he softens even further now that the overgrown manchild wearing a pumpkin sweater makes a lot more sense. “Well, kid-you should be proud, ‘cause you’re damn good at what you do. Clients coo over the decorations all the time, and obviously, people go nuts for the candy.”

Castiel smiles shyly and Dean’s stomach swoops for the second time. “Thank you for saying that.”

“It’s true,” he says simply. Then, because this little smile of Castiel’s might be one of the cutest things he’s ever seen, he blurts. “Bet your house is the talk of the town, huh? Your girlfriend must eat that stuff up.”

Castiel stops what he’s doing and looks at Dean curiously. “My girlfriend?”

“You’re, uh, not wearing a ring, so I just assumed you weren’t married,” Dean explains, willing away his blush. “My bad.”

“I’m not married,” Castiel confirms, “but I also don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Oh.” Castiel ducks out of view to grab something from his basket, and Dean offers, “Well, me neither if it makes you feel any better.”

He hears a quiet huff of laughter before Castiel says, “I’m actually not all that upset about it.”

Dean nods even though Castiel can’t see him, and he adds a fake bolstering tone to his voice. “Enjoyin’ the single life, huh?” It’s the same voice he used to use in high school when he wanted to fit in and be ‘one of the guys’ in the locker room, and he berates himself for it the second it leaves his mouth.

“You are remarkably persistent,” Castiel says, but he sounds good-natured about it. He pops up from where he was behind the counter and hits Dean with a level stare. “I don’t necessarily enjoy the single life, but it’s easy to be okay with the lack of a girlfriend when I’m not attracted to women.”

Bingo.

“I thought my bi-fi signal was picking something up,” Dean jokes, trying not to seem too interested in that little tidbit.

Castiel’s head tilts to the side and his eyebrows furrow together, creating an adorable little crease between them that inexplicably makes his heart skip a beat. “Your what?”

“Bi-fi?” Dean repeats, but he’s still getting a blank look from Castiel. “Like gaydar, but the bisexual version. Wi-Fi. Bi-fi.”

Castiel laughs with his head tipped back as understanding seems to dawn. “I haven’t heard that one before, but it’s funny. Bi-fi.” Castiel bends down again to grab something, and Dean’s glad for the chance to school his expression into something that looks a lot less proud of himself. Because that’s twice now that Castiel has laughed at his lame jokes, and he’s absolutely preening under the attention. “And to get back to the original question, my house is the talk of the town, as is my store. You should come by sometime to check it out.”

“Your house or your store?” Dean teases, knowing perfectly well Castiel meant the store.

Castiel fumbles with the pretend pumpkin he was putting on the corner of Dean’s desk, grapples to right it, and ends up knocking it clean off of the edge. He’s not positive, but he’s pretty damn sure he hears a breathless fuck said under Castiel’s breath as the pumpkin bounces along the floor, and once again he finds himself trying not to laugh at the guy when he straightens up with bright red cheeks and places the pumpkin back on the desk carefully.

“Sorry. I’m a little clumsy on a good day, but it seems to be worse around you for some reason.”

Dean perks up at that and shoots Castiel a wide smile. “Who, me?”

Castiel rolls his eyes a little bit before he turns to grab his trench coat off of the chair, and Dean lets out a huff of laughter at the unexpected attitude. 

“As if I’m getting sassed by a dude wearing a jack-o-lantern,” he says. 

“Keep it up and you’ll get sassed by an elf, too,” Castiel retorts, and Dean laughs again.

He doesn’t get why he feels all warm inside, because a nerdy, clumsy, dork in a hand-knit pumpkin sweater absolutely doesn’t fit his type when it comes to guys, but there’s just something about Castiel that makes him want to get to know him better.

“So when should I stop by the store?” Dean asks.

Surprise shows on Castiel’s face for a split second before he turns away to coil his scarf around his neck again. He’s looking about three feet over Dean’s head when he turns back to say, “I’m there all during the week from 9-5, but I know you’re working. I’ll, uhm, be there handing out candy on Halloween night, b-but I’m sure you already have plans.”

Castiel looks so nervous that it’s fucking adorable. “Well I do now,” he flirts, hitting Castiel with a patented Dean Winchester Megawatt smile. He’s pleased when he sees it makes Castiel flush all the way to the tips of his ears. “What time?”

Castiel opens his mouth to respond, but seems to change his mind. He grabs his basket and shoots Dean a wobbly smile. “There’s a flyer on our Facebook page. If you have any questions, let me know. I’m sure there aren’t that many Castiels on the internet.”

That sounded enough like a look me up that it makes him brave enough to flirt a little bit harder. “I’ll make sure to check you out,” he says, and when Castiel drops his eyes to smile bashfully at the ground and something in Dean’s chest clenches, he knows he’s sunk. “You need a hand with the door this time, Cas?” he teases.

He laughs loudly when all he gets in answer to that is the middle finger thrown over Castiel’s shoulder, and he’s still smiling to himself when Meg comes back from lunch. That smile turns into something smug when Meg points out Cas forgot to refill the candy dish, and he tells himself that’s why he barely makes it out to the Impala on his lunch hour before he’s searching “Busy Bee Interiors”  on Facebook, but really, it’s because he’s more intrigued by this eccentric interior decorator than he has been by anybody in as long as he can remember.


Though he finds the Facebook page and Halloween flyer before he even backs out of the parking lot, he manages to play it cool and wait three whole nights before he reaches out to Cas. He was listed as the owner, so it was a simple matter of clicking on his name to send him a message, he just doesn’t want to seem too needy. And he has to think of something clever to say.

He settles on, “Guess you’d be pretty disappointed if I showed up without a costume, huh?”

Cas messages him back almost immediately. 

<< I’m sure you saw on the flyer that everybody who comes gets a treat.

>> That’s not what I asked.

<< Maybe a little disappointed...

>> I knew it! What’re you dressing up as?

<< Guess you’ll have to come see.

>> It’s gonna be super embarrassing if we dress up as the same thing.

<< For some reason you don’t strike me as the kind of guy to wear spandex.

>> Well now I have to show up!

<< Maybe that was my evil plan all along.

>> It’s always the nerdy ones.

<< You think I’m nerdy?

>> You... don’t think you’re nerdy?

<< Oh, no. I do. I was just clarifying on your end.

>> lol then yeah. You’re nerdy. But I’ll tell you a secret.

<< You’re nerdy too?

>> wtf! How did you know?

<< My nerd-dar. 

>> HAHAHA 

>> point for you, Cas.

>> is it okay if I call you Cas?

<< Well, only my friends call me Cas. So I guess we’ll see how Halloween goes. 

>> Challenge accepted.

Cas either continues to avoid him until Halloween, or he just so happens to only come to the office when Dean is gone for lunch. They keep messaging back and forth on Facebook Messenger, though, mostly because Dean keeps throwing costume ideas at him.

>> Han Solo?

<< Predictable

>> Dr. Sexy?

<< Too easy (and that’s a terrible program that will rot your brain)

>> You shut your mouth about Dr. Sexy. 

>> Inflatable dinosaur?

<< Better, but I feel like you should know that you'll have to buy anything you break in my shop, and a lot of it is glass. And overpriced.

>> Straight jacket it is.

<< 705-227-8435

And apparently all it takes is one bad joke to go from Facebook Messaging to texting. The first text he sends is only three words, but he’s so excited about finally finding the perfect costume, he doesn’t even care.

DEAN: I GOT IT!!!!
CAS: The perfect costume?

He has a bit of a laugh over the fact that Cas didn’t have his number so couldn’t have known it was him and that he knew exactly what he was talking about without prompting.

DEAN: Gosh, you’re smart :P
CAS: I look forward to seeing what you look like on Thursday.
CAS: Because you’ll be in a costume, I mean
CAS: Not that I wouldn’t want to see you if you weren’t in a costume
DEAN: You mean, like, in the nude?
CAS: I hate you
DEAN: You didn’t knock any glass over in the store like you did the pumpkin at my office, did you? ‘Cause I’ve heard that stuff is overpriced to replace.
CAS: Screw you

Tonight is Halloween night, and Dean is dressed in a full cowboy costume. He didn’t half-ass it, either. He’s got the hat, the embroidered shirt, the vest with tassels, a bolo tie, jeans, a big ole belt buckle, and cowboy boots with actual spurs. He looks like a genuine cowboy, and not to toot his own horn or anything, but he looks damn good, too.

“Okay, princess, quit primping. Let’s go already!” 

Dean shoots a sharp look over at his best friend, Charlie, in the passenger seat next to him but it quickly turns into a grin because she looks amazing in her wizard robes. “Hermione’s got nothin’ on you, Red,” he tells her, and she lights up like a Christmas tree.

“Let’s go find your boyfriend so I can see if I have to turn him into a toad or not.”

Dean lets out a nervous laugh as he looks at himself in the rearview mirror one more time. “I don’t even know if he’s into me.”

“Right, he’s just extra clumsy around you because he thinks you’re hideous,” she says knowingly. 

He preens at the comment because he knows that really is a likely vote in his favor. If he even likes Castiel, which he isn’t 100% sure about yet himself. He’s interested in finding out, though. He grabs the two plastic pumpkins from the back seat he bought to collect candy and hands one to Charlie. “Let’s go trick-or-treat.”

“And to think I thought I was gonna have to pop a kid outta my vag before I could do this as an adult,” she quips, and Dean is chuckling as he gets out of his car. 

He parked at work since he knew Cas’s shop is just down the street, and as he and Charlie make their way there, they point out the funny or cute costumes kids are wearing. Not having kids himself, he had no idea that there’s some kind of trick-or-treating event downtown, but that explains why Main Street was closed. It looks like all the stores are handing out candy, there are kids hyped up on sugar everywhere, and frazzled parents are chasing after them trying to keep up.

It’s fucking chaos, and Dean loves it. 

He strolls confidently down the sidewalk, eating up all of the attention from different kids who point at him and Charlie like they’re just as amused by them as they are by the kids. As they get to the block where Cas has his store, they can see a line up of people gathered outside, and he hears spooky music coming from inside the store.

“So this is it, huh?” Charlie asks, looking up at the big Busy Bee Interiors sign that’s currently covered in what he has to assume is fake cobwebs. “Seems like the place to be. Hah! Bee! Get it?”

“I get it. I’m practically buzzing with laughter,” Dean jokes, which earns him a friendly shove and an eyroll from Charlie. “Should we get in the line?”

“Guess so.” They make their way over to the back of the line and settle into the mindset of waiting. Thankfully, the kids coming out of the store excitedly rambling about whatever Cas has going on in there makes it entertaining. He smiles to himself when he hears people talking about a black cat on the way out, thinking about how cute it is that Cas brought in an actual cat to help with the atmosphere. He hears something about a spider, which Charlie assures him can’t be real and to man the hell up already, and after a while, he notices every kid comes out with a box. He doesn’t know what’s inside, but he’s definitely curious, and the line moves quickly while he’s trying to figure it out. 

They’re almost to the door when he realizes the line is so long because they’re only letting a few people in at a time. So when it’s their turn, it’s only himself and Charlie who go in, and he makes sure to purposely increase the bow of his legs and the jingle of his spurrs as he mozies inside. He had planned on the cliche but still awesome greeting, “Howdy partner,” when he saw Cas, but what actually happens is a whole lot of sputtering.

Because Cas is dressed up as the cat. In a black, one-piece spandex suit with a deep vee that shows off a smattering of chest hair, but also, a surprisingly fit body. That trench coat and those oversized sweaters don’t do a damn thing for Cas, because Dean’s spent his fair share of time looking and he had no idea Cas was hiding this kind of athletically muscled body under those clothes. Jesus Christ, just look at his shoulders! He must lift weights or—

“Hello, Dean.”

The words draw his eyes up to Castiel’s face, and oh god, he has actual whiskers glued to his face or something, and his little nose is painted pink. His eyelashes are unnaturally long and he’s wearing furry cat ears and he’s so fucking adorable—

Charlie elbows him and he realizes he’s staring open-mouthed like an idiot, and he finally manages to say, “Howdy, partner.” His mouth is dry as a desert, but thankfully it sounds like he was going for some kind of cowboy character voice instead of almost choking on the two words he managed to piece together. Charlie elbows him again, harder this time, and it’s like a switch flips, allowing him to think again. “You weren’t kidding about the spandex.”

Castiel answers, “Nope,” around a grin. “My costume is always highly anticipated, so I have to make sure to go all out. I thought a catsuit would do it.”

“It did. You look awesome. Sure put my perfect costume idea to shame,” he says, gesturing to his cowboy get-up.

“I wouldn’t say that at all. It suits you... very nicely.”

Castiel’s eyes flick away shyly after the compliment but Dean waits him out, and once Cas lifts his gaze again, their eyes lock and holy crap. He swears he can feel some kind of electric shock surge through his body, making the tiny hairs on his arms stick up and his lips part. He and Cas are a good dozen feet apart with a counter between them, and while he’s vaguely aware of walking past several displays of stuff that look just like the kind of thing Cas puts in their office, he doesn’t really see anything except for how the blue of Cas’s eyes comes more and more into focus with each step. 

“Oooh are those caramel apples?” Charlie asks suddenly, and Dean blinks like he’s coming out of a trance or something. Holy shit, that was intense. What even was that? Some kind of freaky eye sex he was definitely into if the way his jeans are a little too tight in the crotch area is any kind of indication. And since when is he turned on by the nerdy dude who wears pumpkin sweaters?

Since the nerdy dude looks like that in spandex, his mind supplies for him, and okay, yeah, that’s a good point.

“Yes,” Castiel responds, shaking his head a little. “Sorry about that, I was... distracted for a second there. This is what everybody is really lined up for. Would you like one?”

“Hell yeah I would!” she answers. “I’m Charlie, by the way.”

“I’m Castiel. It’s a pleasure to meet Dean’s date.”

Castiel sounds completely genuine when he says it, though Dean can’t see his face since Cas is busy looking down while he boxes up a couple of caramel apples. Thankfully Charlie’s hoot of laughter and Dean’s snicker is enough to have him looking up again. 

“Dude, no,” Charlie says once she stops laughing. “I’m more gay than he is.” When she points a thumb in Dean’s direction, Cas’s eyes follow it, and Dean nods his agreement. “Which means he didn’t show up here in full costume to impress me,” she adds pointedly. “Oh look, Riesens!”

And then she darts away, leaving the two of them standing there. Cas speaks first. “You thought your cowboy costume would impress me?”

“I thought it had a better chance than showing up in my birthday suit,” Dean replies, and the corners of Cas’s nose crinkle with his laugh. 

“I don’t know about that,” Castiel says lightly, and yup, there’s another swoop of his stomach. “It really does look good on you, though. I’m glad I got to see it.”

“I’m glad you gave me a reason to dress up again. Though I guess I didn’t end up needing the little pumpkin basket thing after all.”

“We can still put your caramel apple in it if you want,” Cas offers, teasing him with a quirk of his lips. He watches as Cas comes around the counter, and when Cas holds one of the boxes out, Dean takes another step forward so Cas can place it inside of the pumpkin. They’re closer now than they’ve ever been, and Dean notices for the first time that Cas is almost as tall as he is, and god he looks good close up. “There.”

“Thanks,” Dean says, his voice a little quieter now that they’re standing so close together. “Guess I gotta go now so the rest of the crowd can get their turn.”

Cas’s face falls a little, but he nods. “I guess that would be best.”

“Your store’s something else, though,” Dean says, still wanting to drag this out a little bit if he can. “I can see why so many people are lined up trying to get in. You’ve uh,” he stops to clear his throat, then continues, “really got somethin’ going for yourself here, Cas. You did good.”

“Thank you,” Cas says, his voice matching Dean’s quieter tone. His mouth opens as if he’s going to add something else, but—

“Hey is this the spider—” They both look over at where Charlie has her hand up like she’s going to touch a large, stuffed spider hanging from the ceiling. It drops suddenly and Dean jumps back while Charlie screams. “AHHH!” 

Castiel starts laughing with his head thrown back, so Dean looks at him questionably, and he shrugs. “I’d say sorry, but truthfully, it never gets old.”

“What’d you do, hit a button or something?” he asks.

“It has a sensor. As soon as somebody reaches for it or walks underneath it, it falls.”

“That’s fucking evil. I would’ve shit my pants,” he admits.

“Dean’s afraid of spiders,” Charlie tells Cas.

Dean shoots her a sharp look, but Cas says, “That’s so cute,” and he flushes instead. He feels a warm hand on his shoulder, and he turns towards it only to sink into blue, blue eyes. They’re really gorgeous. Might be the nicest shade of blue he’s ever seen, and he’s sure he could happily stare into them just like this for hours. Days even. But something nudges his free hand, and he sees Cas trying to pass him another box. “For your friend.”

Dean swallows around the sudden dryness in his throat (what is it with that tonight?) and curls his fingers around the box to accept it. His fingers inadvertently brush Castiel’s and he feels another one of those electric shocks shoot through him, and he notices both of their faces turn as red as tomatoes before they look away from each other hastily. 

“T-thanks,” he stutters, reduced to a pile of nerves now.

“Anytime. If there’s any left over, maybe I’ll bring them by the office,” Castiel offers.

“Just don’t let Meg eat them all before I come back from lunch,” he says without thinking.

“I’ll make sure to stop by a little earlier,” Cas says, and Dean beams at him. Seeing more of Cas can’t be a bad thing. 

“I’d like that.”

Cas hits him with another one of those adorably friendly smiles, and the hand still resting on his shoulder gives it a little squeeze. “Me, too.” It looks like it takes some effort, but Cas removes his hand and takes a step back. “Thank you both for coming. And Charlie, it was wonderful to meet you. Sorry about the scare.”

They all say their goodbyes, and as they walk back to the Impala with Charlie’s arm looped merrily through Dean’s, they’re both already munching on their apples. “So I got the trick, and you, sir, got the treat. He’s totally into you.”

“You think?” Dean asks, still not totally sure. “He doesn’t really flirt. It’s more like he says shit by accident, or he doesn’t realize how something sounds in his head until he says it out loud.” Charlie huffs a laugh next to him, but he’s serious. “I can’t get a read on him.”

“Well, it seemed obvious to me, but maybe you’ll see when he brings you caramel apples tomorrow.”

“Maybe.”

He feels his phone vibrate in his pocket as they get to the parking lot and is hit with a fluttering of nerves when he sees Cas flash on his screen. He takes a deep breath and swipes to read the text message. 

CAS: For the first time ever, I wish my store wasn’t so busy. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk more, but thanks a lot for coming. 

The smile doesn’t leave his face until the next day when he comes back from lunch and sees a large box of caramel apples in the break room. 

He doesn’t reach out to Cas after that. He feels almost... rejected... in a weird way, and he decides to just let it go. He wasn’t sure if Cas liked him or not when they saw each other on Halloween, but Cas coming by when Dean was on his lunch after he specifically said he wouldn’t seems like more than enough proof that Cas isn’t into him. He’s a little mopey about it, but they hadn’t really known each other well enough to really start anything, so he does his best to just move on. 

The week after Halloween starts with the first blanket of snow on the ground, and it’s mid-morning when the office door bell jingles with an in-coming client. 

Castiel.

In a navy blue puffer jacket, what looks like a hand-knit matching winter hat with a white pom-pom on top, and a scarf around his neck in the same color with white tassels on the ends. 

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says warmly.

“Hey.”

He replies with his voice flat and goes back to what he was doing, determined not to let Cas and his overly friendly nature burrow inside of him the way he’s been able to in the past. 

“I guess Mother Nature didn’t give us much of a reprieve between Fall and Winter this year, huh?” Castiel asks.

He can hear the sound of Castiel taking off his jacket and while a part of him is curious about what he’s wearing underneath today, he keeps his head down. “Guess not.”

“The snow makes everything so pretty it makes it hard for me to stay mad at it,” Cas prattles on. “Though I’m sure I won’t feel like that when I’m shoveling for the hundredth time this winter.”

Dean hums quietly in response and just keeps filling out the GIC application in front of him. He’s aware of Cas approaching his desk and gathering up the pumpkin and other fall decorations he put out, but he doesn’t look up, and Cas stays eerily silent as he works. It isn’t until he’s finished putting out snow globes, white sparkly felt that he guesses is supposed to look like snow, and a couple of big, fat, smiley snowmen that he finally speaks again. Quietly.

“I, uhm, apologize for not coming by earlier like I said I would. I came down with a really nasty flu late Halloween night and haven’t been out of the house since.”

Dean flicks his eyes up for that, and now that he’s actually looking at Cas, he can see how pale his skin is and how he has dark circles under his eyes. He’s also wearing a light blue sweater (a size too big, as usual) with white snowflakes all over it, and he has a white turtleneck on underneath. He looks adorably geeky, but most importantly, still not 100% health-wise.

“You still look like you could use some sleep,” Dean says gently.

Castiel nods and runs his hand through his hair, which is when Dean notices how part of his hair is flat from his hat and other parts are sticking up wildly. It takes a lot to keep a straight face, but he manages. “I haven’t had a full night’s sleep yet, but I’m hopeful about tonight.”

“I shoulda checked in,” Dean says guiltily. “I thought you were avoiding me when the apples showed up without you.”

Castiel frowns and leans on his elbows on the ledge around Dean’s desk. “I asked my coworker to leave a message with you. Didn’t he?”

“No, I didn’t get anything.” 

“I’m sorry. I’ll talk to him.” Dean nods and Castiel says, “I’m sorrier that you thought I was avoiding you, though. I really didn’t want to give you that impression.”

That’s pretty much music to his ears, so he leans in a little closer and says, “Forget about it, then. Just focus on getting better.”

“Thank you for understanding. And, uhm...” Cas wrings his hands together, and Dean feels a tug inside of him, telling him to cover Cas’s hands with his to give him a moment of peace. He doesn’t, mostly because he’s at work, but the urge is strong and it brings color to his face for even thinking it. “Maybe once I’m back to feeling like myself we could... arrange something... so we could have more than five minutes together face-to-face?”

Happiness fills him like air in a balloon, and the smile that spreads on his face is entirely genuine and full of hope. “That’d be awesome.”

“Yeah?” Cas double checks.

“Yeah,” he confirms, smiling warmly now. “Just text me and let me know when you’re feeling better, and we’ll hang out.”

Cas hits him with a warm smile of his own. “Okay.” He nods and takes a step back from the desk, going back to his basket on a chair by the door. “Now, candy canes or chocolate balls for the candy jar?”

Cas ducks his head as he laughs quietly, his gums showing above his teeth and those adorable nose crinkles appearing again. He has a rosy tinge to his cheeks, and Dean’s not sure if it’s from the hot chocolate they both had tonight or maybe because he’s blushed as many times as Dean has, but either way, it’s a good look for him.

It took two weeks for them to find a night that worked for both of them, but they’re at a little coffee shop Cas recommended, and he’s having a great time. Cas is smart and funny with a surprisingly dry sense of humor, and even though it seems like they don’t have a single thing in common when it comes to movies, music, or books, the conversation flows easily because there’s just so much to learn about each other. Their chairs have been creeping closer and closer together as time has gone on, and now they’re sitting so close that their knees are touching, which has caused a constant warmth in his chest he feels almost drunk on. 

Unfortunately, their hot chocolates have been empty for long enough that they’re getting looks from the people behind the counter, and as much as he’d like to sit here all night, it’s getting late for a weeknight. 

“How much longer do you think we have until they kick us out?” Dean asks quietly, tipping his head in the direction of the staring workers.

“Probably not much,” Cas replies quietly. “We should probably call it a night.”

“I’ll walk you to your car,” Dean offers, standing up and taking one more look at Cas in jeans and a light pink polo. It had been the surprise of a lifetime to see Cas shrug out of his winter coat to reveal clothes that actually fit, and it had taken several minutes for Dean to be able to string together enough words to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. He’s been distracted more times than he can count by the way the sleeves of Cas’s shirt hug his biceps, and he knows he got caught staring more than once.

“Eyes up here,” Cas teases, and Dean realizes he just got caught again.

“Hey, not my fault you in jeans is a revelation, man,” Dean defends through a huff of laughter. “You’re cute as hell in your big sweaters, but I wasn’t prepared for this level of hot in street clothes.”

“Cut it out,” Cas complains, but he seems pleased. 

When Cas’s fingers tentatively brush his while they walk through the parking lot, Dean takes the invitation to slip his hand into Cas’s, and he’s so fucking happy he feels like he’s actually floating. They reach Cas’s car way too fast for his liking, but the way Cas gets all shy and looks at the ground again is cute enough that he doesn’t mind too much. 

“I had a really good time,” Cas says quietly.

“I did, too. You wanna do it again sometime?”

“Yes.”

And then before Dean can even begin to think about making an end-of-the-night move, he’s got all 5’11” of muscled Cas pressed against him and strong arms wrapped around his neck. He chuckles softly as his arms come around Cas’s back and he squeezes gently, rubbing his hand up and down Cas’s back several times before they pull apart. 

He holds Cas’s door open for him while he climbs in and starts it up, and he swears his heart skips a beat when Cas’s blue eyes peek up at him through his dark eyelashes. “Goodnight, Dean.”

“‘Night, Cas.”

He shuts the door and waits for Cas to drive away before he crosses through the parking lot to get into his own car, and even though he can see his breath in the air, he doesn’t feel the cold at all.

He’s certain there isn’t a square inch of the storefront of Busy Bee Interiors that isn’t lit up, and Dean stops outside of it to admire Cas’s handy-work for a few minutes before he knocks on the door with the CLOSED sign on it. 

It only takes a few seconds for Cas to unlock the door and gesture for him to come inside. Considering how cold it is outside and how eager he is to see Cas again, he hurries through the open door. Before he can even get a word out, his jaw hits the floor when he looks around him. It looks like he stepped into a Winter Wonderland.

Everything is glowing, glittering, or lit up, somehow managing to look magical and whimsical instead of gaudy, and he can hardly believe his eyes. “Holy shit, Cas. This place looks amazing! What could you possibly need help with? Even the ceiling looks like icicles!” 

“Just a few finishing touches,” Castiel answers, grabbing onto his hand and tugging him towards the display window. It’s the Friday before Christmas and there’s a downtown Christmas Walk tomorrow, so Cas wants to make sure his store looks as nice as possible for what he says is the biggest day of the year for him. He’s in a green sweater tonight with a huge Rudolph knit on the front, complete with a red pom-pom for the nose and bells on the reins, and Dean’s heart melts just looking at him.

“You look adorable in your sweater tonight,” Dean tells him as soon as Cas stops walking. 

“Thank you. The one I have for tomorrow actually lights up,” Cas says with a proud smile, and jesus, he’s never wanted to cuddle anybody so much in his life as he does in this moment. “See that hook right there?” Cas asks, pointing up to a hook right in the middle of the display window. “I can’t quite reach it.”

“Ahhh. So you needed me for my superior height,” Dean teases. 

“Exactly. Can you put this up there for me?” Cas presses some kind of green leafy thing with white berries into his hands tied with a sparkly red bow, so Dean gets up on his tiptoes and hangs it on the little hook, making sure it stays put before he goes flat-footed again. “How’s that look?”

“Perfect,” Cas sighs happily. 

“What even is it? Mint or something?” he guesses.

He can feel the heat of Cas’s body when he takes a step closer before he hears his response. When he looks down at him, Cas rests his hands on Dean’s chest, looks deep into his eyes, and breathes, “Mistletoe. Merry Christmas, Dean.”

Cas tilts his chin up the tiniest little bit in offering, and then Dean’s moving in. One hand cups Cas’s rosy cheek, the other curves around the back of his neck, and he dips his head to close the inch of space between them. The last thing he sees is Cas’s dark eyelashes hitting the apple of his cheek, and then their lips are pressing together softly, tentatively. They cling for several seconds before pulling apart to rearrange. He takes Cas’s upper, cupid-bow lip between his for several chase kisses before he withdraws to nibble on the fuller bottom lip, and when he feels Cas’s tongue trace the seam of his mouth, he opens for him without a thought.

Their chests brush as Cas’s hands move around his back to pull him in more closely, and Dean moans at the first sweet caress of Cas’s tongue hot against his. His hands sink back into Cas’s thick hair as their tongues dance together, tasting and learning the insides of each other’s mouths like this is the one and only chance they’ll ever have. All he can see behind his closed eyelids is bright sparks of color, and whether it’s from the lights lit up all around them or because this is that once-in-a-lifetime fireworks are exploding kinda kiss, he doesn’t know.

The one thing he is sure of without having any idea how, is that this is the last first kiss he’ll ever have, and it’s a damn good thing, too, because it’s almost as over-the-top perfect as the man he’s sharing it with.

When their lips finally part, Cas’s hair is still woven between his fingers and the lights are reflected in the dark blue pools of Cas’s eyes. The bells on Cas’s Rudolph sweater jingle quietly with each heavy rise and fall of his shoulders, Cas’s kiss-swollen lips quirk into a smile, and just like that, Dean’s heart falls at his feet.

It’s a week away, and it’s already the best Christmas he’s ever had.

“Merry Christmas, Cas.”