Soundtrack: The Best Day – Atmosphere
Make Love and Get Paid
Castiel doesn’t require much. He has a small studio apartment near KU, though he no longer attends. He has shelves of books and a television for the rare times when he can’t keep his attention on the page. He can cook a decent meal, though his talent lies mainly in boxed meals and instant noodles. Gabriel lives in the next state over in Colorado and is a short plane ride away, and calls frequently to make sure Castiel is still alive and hasn’t done something he deems stupid.
Frankly, he doesn’t have much time to be stupid. He waits tables at an Olive Garden forty hours a week, and in between that he does regular volunteer work.
His favorite extracurricular activity, however, is his figure drawing class on Thursday nights.
In between all of these, it’s difficult to make space for a social life. It isn’t as though Castiel doesn’t have friends. He still goes out for drinks once a month with Meg, his best friend from before he dropped out of religious studies school at KU. She still attends, now going through med school – so she has about as much time on her hands as he does. Beyond her, he has the people that regularly attend the figure drawing class, his coworkers, and the other volunteers from the animal shelter down the street from his apartment, as well as at the local library, shelving books and sometimes reading to kids if he’s free on Saturdays.
It isn’t perfect, but as he has said, he doesn’t require much. He is content.
It should figure that one night throws his contentment to the dogs, because of course Castiel can’t have two days of peace put together. Something always has to go wrong, and he must always be the one to mend it.
He typically doesn’t mind this, except that what is there to mend when there is a gorgeous, naked man three feet from your face?
He’s one of the new models for the class. That’s what the instructor said. His name is Dean, and he looks closer to a statue of a Roman deity than an average figure model. You could cut yourself on that jaw, drown in those green eyes –
Great. Now he’s waxing poetic about a man he’s never even officially spoken to. But as he sketches charcoal lines onto the broad, cream-colored page of his sketchbook, he finds himself drifting back into fantasy, thinking about wrapping his fingers around those solid-looking shoulders, riding back against that cock – which, by the way, is very nice – and kissing those lips. Heaven help him, how are those even real?
Then Dean-the-figure-model changes his position, and he stares straight at Castiel. He smiles.
Castiel blushes furiously and turns his attention back to the page. He makes a point to avoid looking at Dean’s face and seeing that smile, instead feasting his eyes on the well-muscled, golden-skinned body in front of him. He hopes Dean cannot see how red his face is, but that’s probably a lost cause.
He tries to focus on the sketches on his page, making sure to shade the place where the shadow hits Dean’s body just right, that lighting that makes him look almost too attractive to be real. When Dean shifts again, Castiel drops his charcoal. Just below soft dimples on each side of his ass, he has freckles. His intake of breath seems to echo, too loud over the scritch-scratch of pencil to page. Castiel stoops low, reaching underneath his stool to where his charcoal pencil rolled.
When he looks back up again, Dean is looking over his shoulder at him.
If Castiel’s face were not already on fire, it would have started then.
The session ends too soon. His sketchbook has pages of Dean’s body, Dean’s face. He only wishes he had more time to study him to create something more finished. He would paint this man, paint something so wonderful it would be placed in the museum. Hell, placed in the Louvre.
“Dang, looks pretty good.”
Castiel jumps about a foot off of his stool, and when he turns around, there is Dean. He’s slipping a t-shirt over his head – a shame, that – and smiling a broad smile, revealing nice white teeth that should be just as illegal to have as his body is.
“They’re just sketches,” Castiel says softly.
“Coulda fooled me,” Dean replies, and runs his fingers through his mussed hair.
Castiel’s people skills are rusty. Well, no, rusty implies that they might have been pristine before. They have never been good – he’s quiet and awkward and sometimes anxious, and right now with this man in front of him, his social awareness meter is someplace in the red: anxious, stammering, and self-humiliating.
When he realizes he hasn’t said anything back he says, “I – um. That’s very kind of you.”
Dean gives a joking slap to Castiel’s upper arm and says, “It’s not ‘kind,’ dude, it’s true.”
Castiel has never been less prepared for something than he is for what happens next.
“So, I couldn’t help but notice you lookin’ at me,” Dean says.
Castiel mumbles, “Generally one looks at a figure model.”
“Yeah, well, you were eye-fucking the hell outta me,” Dean shoots back.
“I – sorry?”
“No, no, don’t apologize,” Dean goes on, “It’s just…I’ve got a couple free hours, and I’m assuming you’ve got a place.”
“Are you propositioning me?” Castiel questions. He sends a quiet prayer of thanks to whomever is listening that he’s no longer in the throes of puberty – surely surprise like that would have made his voice crack as a teenager, and that would have made this all that much more embarrassing.
Dean’s lips curl up and he says, “Sure I am. You want me to be?”
“I am not certain what the economical way to respond to that is,” Castiel says.
Dean lifts a single brow, “That a no?”
“No, no,” Castiel insists, “It’s – oh, hell. I’m so bad at this. I’m sorry. You’re very appealing.”
“Cool,” Dean says, and rests his arm across Castiel’s shoulders, “Then let’s head out. Hey, wait, if you’re nervous, dude – hey, Anna!”
The figure drawing class’ instructor glances up from a sheath of papers in her hands. At Dean with his arm draped around Castiel, her eyebrows soar into her red hair, but she remains polite as she says, “Yes, Dean?”
“I’m takin’...taking –”
“Castiel,” he provides.
“– Cas home. He’ll call you in the morning, okay? If he doesn’t, means I murdered him,” Dean says.
“Great,” Anna replies, and makes a face at them, “Have fun, then.”
“Sure will,” Dean replies, and winks at Anna. Winks at her.
Castiel fidgets nervously as they duck outside the coffee place in whose meeting room the figure drawing class convenes. The night is warm and a little damp from the day’s earlier rain, typical of Lawrence summers. Dean shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans and asks, “So, you drive here?”
“Oh, um, no,” Castiel says, “I walk here from my apartment.”
Dean brandishes a set of keys, “Lotsa bugs out tonight. You wanna drive instead?”
Someplace in the logical part of his brain, Castiel realizes that on the surface level, getting into a car with a man that he’s known for no more than two hours is an unwise idea. On another, he imagines a murderer would not inform the acquaintance of his victim where they are going to be and that they’ll speak in the morning. And, taking all factors into consideration, Dean is remarkably attractive and an opportunity to sleep with a man equally so isn’t likely to present itself.
Castiel straightens his spine and levels his chin, and agrees, “Yes. That – that sounds good.”
Dean’s car is a behemoth. It’s a huge, sleek, black thing, intimidating but clearly well-loved, buffed and polished without a scratch to be seen. It must be worth a fortune, which makes Castiel wonder why he took a one-night job as a figure model, unless the job was a personal favor to Anna. He doesn’t ask, deciding it rude, and slips into the passenger seat of Dean’s vehicle. Inside, it smells like masculine air freshener, leather, and behind that, just vaguely of fast food.
There is a car seat in the back.
Dean catches him staring and says, “My brother.” Somehow, this serves as explanation and sparks an entire different set of questions, none of them appropriate to voice aloud.
The uncomfortable stretch to the air doesn’t last long. Castiel guides Dean the short distance to his apartment building. He lives on the first floor at the end of a narrow hallway, whose carpet looks like it hasn’t been replaced since 1982. It smells musty and like the fresh coat paint that the landlord had applied half a month ago. Dean doesn’t comment, just follows as Castiel slides his key into the knob.
“It isn’t much,” he says, when he closes the door behind them. He keeps a tidy homestead, no clutter and bed neatly made. He couldn’t let it get too cluttered, or the space would feel suffocating. He wets his lips and offers, “Would you like a beer?”
“Sure,” Dean agrees, “Sounds great.”
Castiel snags a couple of Fat Tires from his refrigerator, a brand of beer that he became attached to during one of his visits to Gabriel in Colorado. He opens them both and passes one to Dean.
“So, starving artist?” Dean says, thumbing along the rim of his beer bottle.
“Starving waiter,” Castiel says wistfully, “I’m occasionally commissioned, but it’s not enough to constitute a living wage.”
“I know the feeling,” Dean says, and blows the air out of his lungs, “Got two jobs, took this nudey gig on a whim ‘cause it falls in a good place in my schedule.”
“It doesn’t pay very well,” Castiel says.
Dean tips back beer and shrugs, “Yeah, but you never know when an extra forty bucks might come in handy, you know?”
Dean sets his beer aside, then, on Cas’ window sill because the apartment is small enough that there is no other place for it. When he pulls the beer from Cas’ fingers and places it alongside his own, Castiel lets him. Dean is close to him now, even closer than he was in the figure drawing session. The aromas of masculine soap, hair gel, and Fat Tire combine and create an intoxicating pheromone. Castiel leans forward without thinking, and Dean takes full advantage, wrapping two strong arms around his back to heave him in closer.
Their mouths collide.
Castiel hasn’t been kissed like this since before he dropped out of college. Dean licks along his lower lip and their tongues clash. He tastes like beer and he tastes like heaven, a mixture that has Cas’ hands scrabbling to tangle in Dean’s short hair, wandering to grope at him through his jeans.
The denim feels like butter underneath Castiel’s fingers, the ass inside it perfect. He kneads his hands into the flesh and Dean groans into his mouth. A warm palm comes around the side of Castiel’s head to cup the base of his skull, bringing him in closer. Their hips grind together in flawless synchronization. Both of them are hard, and both of them moan when their erections grind against one another through the confines of their pants.
“These,” Dean grunts, and tugs at the fly of Castiel’s jeans, “need to come off. Right now.”
All Castiel can do is obey, step back and undo the fastening at the front and shuck the pants off and across the apartment. Dean hums in approval when Castiel stands in front of him in nothing but his cotton boxer briefs and worn t-shirt. He pulls him forward to slip his big hands up underneath the hem of Cas’ t-shirt, and brings it up over his head.
Dean’s lips curl into a smile.
Castiel knows what he is looking at, and isn’t surprised when Dean’s hand reaches out. His knuckles brush just barely across his nipple, where a silver barbell pierces through the pink skin. He breathes, “So sexy,” and Castiel’s spine turns to jelly – he melts back into Dean, pressing himself up against him, wanting to wrap himself in that scent and feel that skin against his.
And with lips attached, Dean hefts Cas up in his arms – not an easy feat, as Castiel stands at six feet tall – and deposits him onto his bed. He crawls over him and straddles his waist. He pulls his green t-shirt up over his head, discarding it over the edge of the mattress, and leans back down to press his hot mouth back to Castiel’s, lapping against the sides of his mouth, playing with his tongue as his hips roll forward in soft, teasing thrusts.
“Fuckin’ – gorgeous,” Dean breathes.
The remaining articles of clothing come off in pieces, between heated kisses and tugs of hair and fingernails dragging along sensitive skin. Sometimes Castiel is self-conscious of his nudity, but not now. Dean’s mouth lingers in places he didn’t know he had, licking along the soft skin below his ear, lowering his mouth to suck a bruise to life. He kisses his shoulders and over his collarbone before his lust-blown eyes at last flick to Castiel’s pierced nipples.
Dean’s tongue is wet and attentive when finally, finally he leans in to move it against Castiel’s nipples, taking each into his mouth, huffing cool breath over them, nipping with the edges of his teeth.
“Oh. Oh fuck,” Castiel squirms under the attention. He wraps his legs around Dean’s waist and whines when their naked cocks meet and rub together.
Above him, Dean lets out a happy hum, and with a smile that makes his eyes crease at the corners, he asks, “You got lube?”
Castiel nods and shifts out of the knot of their limbs. He only has to go as far as the front end of his mattress to reach the shoebox where he keeps all of his items of a sexual nature – a box of condoms (two kinds, in case he brings somebody home that is allergic to latex), a couple of different brands of lubricant, and a small but varied collection of toys that he is far more fond of than he cares to admit.
“What’s that, your naughty box?” Dean asks from where he leans on his side on Castiel’s bed.
Castiel affords this a gentle smile and says, “Something like that. Here. You choose.” He lets Dean sift through his things, detaching a condom from a string of regular Durex, and choosing the lubricant with anal specific written across it.
When Castiel replaces the box and returns, Dean tugs him down so that they lie side by side, facing each other. He pulls them close together and kisses him. This time, his lips are soft and slow, teasing Cas’ mouth open with long, languid licks, holding them close like they’ve been lovers for years. The sweetness of it makes Castiel’s heart thump hard against his ribcage. He moans in complaint when Dean pulls away, but Dean hushes him, running a hand back through Castiel’s sex-mussed hair, and pulls up onto his knees.
The pop of the lube cap opening seems to echo throughout the tiny room. Dean pours a generous amount onto his fingers, and with his dry hand pulls Cas up into his lap, letting Cas’ legs come to rest on his broad, freckled shoulders.
But he pauses, then, smiling a crooked, boyish grin as his eyes sweep over Castiel’s bent body.
“What – why did you stop?” Castiel asks and swallows in desperate air.
“You just look real nice like this,” Dean says, his voice a low rumble, “All laid out like this, all pink and fuckin’ gorgeous. Goddamn, Cas.”
Castiel makes a noise in his throat at these words, drinking in the praise before he lifts his hips just a little, granting better access, and pushes forward just a little – an invitation. When the first intrusion of cool lubricant touches his entrance, he throws his head back against the mattress and squeezes his eyes closed.
Dean’s only inside him as far as knuckle when he pauses and says, “Keep your eyes open for me, baby. Want you to see what I do to you.”
Those words make Castiel’s eyes snap open to drink in Dean about him, his wicked grin and messy hair, the tattoo just below his collarbone, the spots on his neck that Castiel made – it’s too much and not enough all at once. He thinks he whines for more but isn’t sure. Dean’s finger slides in and out of him at an agonizing pace, brushing up against his prostate, making Castiel moan and wriggle up for more, making his toes curl up where they frame either side of Dean’s head. Then a second finger joins the first, slick and cool and perfect where it fits inside Castiel.
“So fuckin’ sexy for me, Cas,” Dean murmurs, “Opening right up for me so you can have my cock. You want that, don’t you?”
“Wanna hear you say it,” Dean says, and touches right against that sweet spot again, tearing a moan from Castiel.
“I want that,” he manages, chest heaving.
“Your cock, ah, God, want it,” Cas says.
Dean’s smile widens and he says, “You will. You’ll have it. Gotta get you ready first, though.”
His fingers massage and scissor, moving from two to three. And then all at once Castiel is empty, cold, and the sound of a condom wrapper being torn open sounds over the blood rushing through his ears. He watches Dean roll it over his erection, hands steady and careful, before he gets himself wet with more lube. He holds himself at the base with one hand, and with the other, rubs Castiel’s arm, up and down, soothing.
The press of Dean inside him sends thrills to every nerve in his body and makes his blood thrum underneath his skin. He knows he’s saying things, but he thinks it’s mostly Dean’s name, telling him to hurry up.
“What are you waiting for?” Castiel asks, when Dean is fully seated inside him and stopped completely. He orders then, “Go, already!”
Dean draws out and thrust back, hard and just where Castiel needs it. They’re both sweating, gleaming under the dim ceiling light that fills the entirety of the tiny apartment. One of Dean’s hands presses down into the mattress beside Castiel, but the other grips Cas at the hip, holding him steady as he begins to rock forward and back in a delicious rhythm.
As their bodies roll together, Dean peppers kisses over Castiel’s calves and thighs and belly. He’s losing his composure, whispering dirty things under his breath like, “So tight for me, baby,” or “Fuck yeah, on my dick, just like that. Fuck yourself on me just like that.”
Castiel starts to tremble with the weight of his orgasm building. He hasn’t come untouched since high school, in his senior year, during a wild experimental phase. Dean doesn’t give him the chance to try, though: his hand coils around Castiel’s cock and strokes him. It takes only a few jerks of Dean’s palm to do the trick.
He comes, and he comes hard. He yells when it happens, clenching all around Dean’s dick inside him, knees buckling around Dean’s head, fingers curling into fists in his blue bedspread. Dean doesn’t stop, just keeps driving into Cas, hard and fast and unrelenting.
“Holy fuck,” are the words that bubble from Dean’s lips when he comes. His hips slam up into Castiel one final time, his kiss-swollen lips part and a wrecked groan shakes through his body. Then he slumps over, spent, and pulls out Cas’ body to crawl up beside him, spooning him from the back. Dean applies damp, lazy kisses to the skin on the back of Castiel’s neck, nipping and nosing over the marks of his own teeth.
“Wow,” Cas manages.
A deep chuckle vibrates against Cas’ shoulder. Dean agrees, “Seriously. Woulda done that fuckin’ nudey gig forever ago if I knew it was gonna end like this.”
That makes Castiel smile. His eyelids feel heavy, but just as he feels them start to droop, Dean says behind him, “Damn, you got a lot of books.”
“I love to read,” Castiel replies, voice quiet.
“See some Vonnegut,” Dean replies, “That’s cool.”
“You like Vonnegut?” Castiel’s eyes are well and truly open then, and he glances over his shoulder to see Dean looking over the bookcase with brows furrowed.
“Yeah,” he replies, “He’s my favorite. See you got Bradbury too.”
The handsome figure model likes good books. It’s too good to be real, but when Castiel pinches himself on the thigh just in case, it hurts. It’s real. There’s no denying.
Only he doesn’t get to have the moment last, because Dean’s phone rings. The ringtone is a classic rock ballad, a song that Castiel knows he has heard before but doesn’t know the name of. Dean scrambles to grab the cell and Cas is cold as soon as they separate.
“Hey, Becky,” Dean greets, “Yeah, I’ll be back soon. Nah, just took longer than I expected. I appreciate it. See you soon.”
So maybe Dean’s married. Maybe that’s the catch.
But Dean dispels this worry with a gentle, “Sorry to take off so fast, but uh, that was my babysitter. She does this shit for me pro bono so I should probably get back to my place.”
“I’ll walk you to your car,” Castiel offers, and Dean doesn’t deny him that.
They dress together while trading small talk, pointedly avoiding who Becky is babysitting or anything too personal. Castiel talks a little about his art, how long he’s done it and how his family didn’t approve of that. Dean says he wanted to work doing auto body work on luxury cars, but that everybody wants to do that, so he works at a diner some days and a bar on others, instead.
Outside Castiel’s building, beside Dean’s enormous car, Castiel takes Dean’s phone before he can rethink his boldness and types his phone number into his contacts. He tousles his hair nervously before he hands the cellphone back and says, “You should, um. You should call me, if you have the inclination. I had a wonderful night.”
“Yeah,” Dean says, “Me too. You take care of yourself, Cas.”
Dean climbs into the driver’s seat and the engine of his car roars to life. Castiel stands outside with his arms folded over his chest, feet bare against the apartment parking lot, and watches him go, remaining until the vehicle turns just out of sight.
When he returns to his apartment and slides back into his bed, it smells like sex and masculine soap. Castiel gathers the comforter up in his arms and buries his nose in it.
He hopes that Dean calls.
When Dean bangs his way into the apartment, the lights are all switched off except for the standing lamp in the living room, under which Becky sits with her laptop parked over her crossed legs. She looks up when he ambles in and smiles, revealing her pink and green braces.
“How was he?” Dean asks.
“Awesome, Mr. W,” she says. She shifts off of his couch and closes her laptop, sliding it into her messenger bag, a kind of ugly black bag with the logo of the Supernatural books emblazoned across one side.
“I told you not to call me that,” Dean complains, “You want me to pay you for your extra hour?”
Becky shakes her head, “Nah, I need the community service hours for my IB classes. I put him to bed a half hour ago. He threw a heckuva tantrum ‘cause I didn’t read his book with the right voices, but he calmed down after a little while. Whoa, hold on, are those hickeys on your neck, ‘cause holy crap, if there is a dude that ever needed some –”
“Becky,” Dean warns, and grabs self-consciously at his neck.
“Sorry,” she says. She isn’t.
Dean sighs, “Anyway, I’ve got an early shift at the bar tomorrow, do you think you could pick up Sam from daycare?”
“No problem-o, Mr. W,” she smiles brightly. She slides her feet into her slip-on sneakers and gives him a little wave and a, “Have a great night.” Dean wishes her a great night in return, tells her for the love of God, stop calling me Mr. W, and closes the apartment door behind her as she trots off toward her own apartment, a few doors down from his and Sam’s.
He takes a moment to breath before he checks on Sammy, kicking his shoes off beside the front door and melting into their couch. Holy crap, he had not gotten laid in so long, and the last time before Castiel he can’t even remember. This, this was good. He is so fucking tempted to keep that number in his cell and call when he has the chance.
…But, that would be selfish. He doesn’t have time to do dating, not with Sammy and his jobs. It wouldn’t be fair to Sam to do that, or even fair to Cas.
Damn it. He hasn’t had time to himself in forever. All he wants is this one thing –
Dean turns around and sees Sam dragging his blanket behind him, swaddled in footie pajamas with his hair rucked up on one side of his head.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in bed, kid?” he asks.
Sam says, “But you’re supposed to put me to bed! Becky doesn’t do the voices right.”
“I know, buddy,” Dean exhales, “Why don’t you grab a book and hop up here? One, Sam.”
Sam returns with one of the books that he chose from their trip to the library last week, King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. Dean’s been reading this one every night since they checked it out. At least it’s not as bad as fucking Green Eggs and Ham, which he doesn’t even have to read anymore – he can recite it from memory. He places the book on the couch cushion beside Dean and climbs up to situate himself on Dean’s lap, wriggling under his arm until he finds a spot that he likes, and then pulls the book into his lap and does everything all over again.
They don’t even finish reading before Sam is out like a light against his chest, four-year-old fist balled up in Dean’s t-shirt. He lifts him up – heavy little shit, now – and transports him to his bedroom. He tucks Sam into his bed and makes sure that he has his blanket with him, otherwise he’ll throw a fit. Before he leaves the room, he makes sure that the Batman nightlight is switched on, and that the door is open just a crack.
Dean smells like a fucking brothel.
He gets in the shower before bed, even though it’s already pretty late for him and he has a morning shift at the diner. He almost mourns when he can’t smell that weird, vaguely incense-like smell of Castiel the artist-slash-waiter, because he knows that’s the last he has of the best sex he’s had in fucking years. After he towels himself dry, he redresses in a fresh t-shirt and a pair of boxers.
Dean remembers the days before their mom and dad bit the dust. He slept in the nude. He’d been a bachelor, working on cars, picking up dudes and chicks and living the dream. Then it all went south, and he refused to let Sammy go to anyone’s care but his own.
Now, he dresses modestly before he gets underneath his covers because a four-year-old might climb in with him in the middle of the night after having a nightmare, or wake him up early because kids wake up early for some ungodly reason. He’s still a bachelor, but the sad kind, not the fun kind.
Cas was fun.
But when Dean picks up his phone before he pulls his blanket up over his shoulders and flicks through his contacts, he doesn’t think he can ever give Cas a call. He has responsibilities, and none of those leave room for boinking a hot artist with a gruff voice and nipple rings.
With a little twinge of guilt, Dean settles on the new contact labeled ‘Castiel,’ and hits delete.
A little window pops up and asks: Are you sure you want to delete this contact?
Dean hits, ‘Yes.’
Friday morning is hell on earth. Dean wakes up a half-hour past when he should, and only because he hears a catastrophe in the kitchen and finds Sam crying over a shattered cereal bowl and Apple Jacks and milk spread from one end of the linoleum to the other. Dean lifts Sam off of the floor and parks him on the edge of the counter.
“S’okay, buddy,” Dean assures him, “No big deal. No use crying over spilled milk. Heh, literally. How about you get dressed by yourself like a big boy while I clean this up, okay?” Sam nods through his tears, and Dean carries him to safety, setting him down on the carpet so he can clean up the wreck a few feet behind them. It takes a solid fifteen minutes to do an acceptable job, and by the time he’s finished, Sam is ready for daycare, but his shirt is backwards.
He throws a tantrum and swings his fists when Dean tries to fix it, so he decides to leave the backwards shirt as is and get himself ready for the day. At least he showered last night – it could be worse. At least the machine isn’t flashing, which means their fucking social worker isn’t on his case today about Sam’s development and Dean’s responsibility. As if he doesn’t already fucking know he’s toeing a line with those people by being young and trying to juggle a million odd jobs at once, all while playing primary provider for his baby brother.
Ten minutes later, Dean has on a fresh pair of underwear, his good pair of dark wash jeans (sans holes for work at the diner), a plain black t-shirt, and his backpack, which holds the roller skates piece of his diner uniform, and the fruity-looking mint green apron that goes around his waist.
He herds Sam to the car, eventually fed up with clumsy toddler feet enough to heave Sam up into his arms. Sam complains and kicks Dean in the chest with tiny sneakers that he would swear hurt enough to be frickin’ steel-toed boots. But he gets him buckled into the Impala faster, and has them out of the lot in half the time he would if he’d let Sam amble along at his usual pace.
Sam’s summer daycare isn’t far from their apartment complex, but it’s just far enough that morning traffic impedes them. Dean has to sign Sam into class late, getting a soft, pitying look from the woman at the front desk, Missouri.
“Bye Sammy,” Dean says, and ducks to his knees for a quick hug, “You be good today, okay?”
“Love you, Dean,” Sam says.
A smile tips Dean’s face at that, and he ruffles the mop of light brown hair on Sam’s head. He says, “I love you too, buddy.”
And despite speeding like a maniac and taking back roads to avoid traffic, Dean still manages to be late to work at the diner by just over fifteen minutes. He apologizes profusely as he punches in and laces his skates onto his feet, promising he’ll make up the time at the end of the shift – he’ll just have to text Becky to tell her that he’ll be a little later than planned.
The breakfast rush sucks like usual, although an older lady with white hair and horn-rimmed glasses straight out of Harry Potter tips him an entire twenty – possibly by mistake – so it’s not all bad. Even without wheels on his feet he’s efficient, one of his better qualities and leftover habits from a military father.
By the time he’s let off for a fifteen minute break, he’s dying for a cigarette even though he knows he shouldn’t, and bums one off of Ash, sitting on the curb just outside the back door with it between his lips.
“Nice hickeys,” Jo says from behind him, and sits down next to him.
Dean jumps and asks irritably, “Aren’t you supposed to be working?”
“Brunch lull,” Jo says, “So, hickeys.”
“Yeah,” Dean says, “One night stand.”
At this, Jo cocks a well-plucked brow. She says, “Nu-uh.”
“Yes-huh,” Dean snips back. He doesn’t want to talk about it, but he knows Jo will bug him no matter what he does. He really shouldn’t be rude to her. She’s the one that helped him get his foot in the door at her mom’s bar.
“Then why are your panties all in a knot?” Jo asks, “And not in the way you like, soldier.”
Dean exhales cigarette smoke and sneers at her. The one time you get drunk and play Never Have I Ever with your coworkers, and they can’t let the fuckin’ panty kink go. Suffice it to say he’s played it safe since and never again agreed to a Charlie-Jo-Ash drinking extravaganza.
“Okay, A – fuck you. B – he gave me his number,” Dean says.
“Dean, that’s awesome,” Jo says, and smacks his arm. When Dean doesn’t smile or laugh with her, she asks, “Right? Awesome?”
He shakes his head, “I deleted it outta my contacts.”
“Because I can’t do that shit, Jo,” Dean says, “I got Sammy to take care of.”
“Yeah, but you can’t take care of Sam if you don’t take care of yourself first, idiot,” she says.
“You know what, I’m done here,” he says, and stands up. Jo protests, but Dean is already back inside the diner, swapping out his regular shoes for his roller skates to get his nose back to the grindstone.
From his fifteen to his lunch break he doesn’t make nearly as much in tips, serving a couple tables of hooky-playing teenagers and stingy couple that gives him one of those bullshit “we only tip God” pamphlets that ramble about only Jesus getting their money. Douchebags.
He’s only a couple french fries into his meal when his cell rings, belting out Back in Black. The contact that flashes across the screen makes his stomach drop – Sammy’s daycare.
“This is Dean,” he answers.
“Hi Mr. Winchester, this is Missouri. We’ve got Sam here with us, and we’d like you to pick him up a little early today.”
“What happened?” Dean asks.
“I think we’d like to discuss it in person,” Missouri replies, “He had an incident with another student while they were outside playing and pushed him off of the jungle gym.”
Dean frowns at his phone and says, “That doesn’t sound like Sam.”
“We agree. It was out of character,” Missouri says.
“All right,” Dean sighs, “I’ll be there soon.”
“We appreciate it.”
When Dean hangs up, he pleads a long lunch out of Pamela, his boss, who blessedly grants him this and lets him take off. Unhappily, his lunch falls right in line with the average nine to five office employee’s, and again he endures traffic during the commute. He’s sweaty and stressed by the time he makes it through the front doors of the daycare, where Sam is seated at the front desk in Missouri’s chair, filling in a coloring page with crayons, way more neatly than any four-year-old kid should.
“Hey Sammy,” he greets.
Sam looks up, but when he sees Dean, fixes his eyes back on his coloring page. He says, “Hi Dean.”
“Wanna tell me what happened?” Dean asks.
Sam shakes his head.
“Well, you gotta tell me, ‘cause if you don’t, I can’t help make it better,” Dean says. He knows it’s not wise to reason with a four-year-old, but of the demographic Sam falls among the more reasonable.
Sam seems to consider this. He glances from Dean to Missouri to his coloring page and back again before he says, “It was Raph.”
“What about him?”
“Well, he says I don’t have a real family ‘cause I don’t have a mommy or a dad,” he says, and gestures wildly with tiny hands for emphasis, “and I told him that families look like lots of things, and I have a Dean, and that’s just as good as a mommy or daddy. Raph said you were stupid, so I pushed him. I didn’t mean to hurt him! Honest!”
Dean lifts his eyes to Missouri.
“Sam wouldn’t talk about what happened with us,” she explains, “I’ll have a chat with Raphael’s parents as well. For now I think it’s best if you take Sam home and calm down, and then we can start fresh tomorrow. Sound good?”
“If that kid says any crap like that again to Sam, I’m finding another daycare,” Dean says.
“Of course,” Missouri says, all soothing-teacher voice, “We don’t tolerate that kind of behavior here. We’ll make sure his parents know.”
Dean exhales and agrees to that. Sam gives him the coloring page to carry – it’s a stegosaurus, filled in with orange and green crayon – and grabs Dean’s free hand as they walk out to the parking lot. He climbs into his car seat and buckles himself in without help, probably because he feels guilty about hurting that Raphael dipshit, even if the kid kind of deserved it.
He shoots Becky a text to let her know not to grab Sam from daycare, and just to meet them back at their apartment.
Now Dean’ll have to take Sam to the diner, which he’s had to do a couple times before when Becky was involved in the technical side of her high school’s musical. Pam’s okay with it as long as Sam doesn’t cause trouble, which is never an issue. When they make it back there, Dean manages to find a couple of Hot Wheels and a puppy coloring book he has just in case, with a Ziploc baggie of well-loved crayons.
They park Sam at a booth where Dean can see him, but enough to the side that he won’t be in the way of customers. Ash makes him some chicken fingers on the house, which Sam eats primly while he fills in a golden retriever with a purple crayon.
It’s fucking depressing watching him have to sit here, and being good because he knows he has no other choice. He hates knowing how much better off Sammy would be if their parents were still around, if that truck of dickbag teenagers hadn’t decided to go for a tequila-fueled joyride just after midnight on New Year’s, when Sam was a measly year and a half old and Dean only just twenty two.
If that night hadn’t happened, Sam would live in a home they hadn’t lost to foreclosure. He’d have a steady childhood and want for nothing.
And Dean…Dean could be living his life. Maybe he wouldn’t have erased Cas’ number. Maybe they could have gone out for pizza and had another night of crazy sex.
No, Christ, no. He shouldn’t think that. He has a life. His life is Sam, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
By the time that his shift ends and he and Sam are driving back to the apartment, he’s exhausted, but he has less than an hour to get his shit together and dive right into work at The Roadhouse. At least he can get a decent cup of coffee there – for a while he worked in the mail room of this huge company, and they didn’t have jack shit as far as caffeine went.
Despite the limited time, he still wants to make one thing clear before he leaves: “Hey, buddy. You know that Raph kid isn’t right about families, right?”
“I know that, Dean,” Sam says, “I’m not dumb.”
“Cool,” Dean says, “Does that mean you also know it’s never okay to push somebody, no matter how much of an asshole they’re being?”
“That’s not a nice word,” Sam says, and sticks out his tongue.
“You’re right,” Dean agrees, “and it’s not nice to push people, either. I gotta go change for work, okay?”
“You just went to work,” Sam whines. He follows Dean into his bedroom.
“That’s my first job,” Dean says, like every other time that they have had this conversation, “How many jobs do I have?”
“Two,” Sam replies, though he’s pouting, “and sometimes you do other stuff.”
“That’s right,” Dean agrees. He strips off his diner-food-greasy tee and replaces it with a fresh one, soft gray cotton that he got in a plastic package of five shirts at Costco, and a cool-toned plaid flannel over that. Sam still trails after him when he pads into the bathroom to run a comb through his hair, so Dean goes on, “and be nice to Becky for me, will you? It’s not her fault she doesn’t know how to do the voices for your books.”
“The people at the library know how,” Sam says, still pouting.
“I know, buddy,” Dean says, “and that’s ‘cause it’s their job to know.”
A knock sounds at the apartment door, and Dean lets Becky in, tacky Supernatural messenger bag, braces and all. She grins broadly when Sam pokes his head around the corner and squats on the ground, opening her arms for a hug. Begrudgingly, Sam goes to her. In all likelihood, the kid is doing it for Becky and Dean’s benefit over his own. He doesn’t need a damn hug, but he knows Becky’s feelings would be hurt if he didn’t greet her with the usual embrace.
“All right, Sammy, you be good for Becky,” he says, and dips down for a hug of his own. He hefts Sam up into the air and spins him around, even though he’s getting steadily heavier and it’s harder to pull this trick than it used to be. He doesn’t put him down until he cracks a smile. When Sam’s feet touch down on the carpet, he musses his hair and tells him to be good again before he heads out the door.
Another day, another dollar.
The weekend passes, and then another week, and another, and Dean does not call. It isn’t surprising, exactly, but it is disappointing. At least on Friday Castiel has an evening of drinks with Meg to look forward to, though when he arrives at their favorite drinking hole, he must look morose, because she doesn’t even blink, just asks, “What the hell happened to you?”
“It’s stupid,” he says.
“So, um,” he begins, and fidgets, “There was this guy.”
When a waitress comes around he orders a White Russian, and doesn’t even care when Meg teases him about ordering a “stupid drink.”
“So, this guy,” Meg says, “What about him?”
“We had the most amazing sex I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Castiel sighs. The waitress brings his drink, and he downs at least a quarter of it before he goes on, “And afterward he noticed Vonnegut and Bradbury on my bookshelf.”
“Where’d you meet the fucker?” Meg asks. She sips at her vodka on the rocks and stirs it a little with the plastic stick stuck between ice cubes. Unlike Castiel, she looks great tonight, dressed in a form-fitting leather jacket and scoop-necked blouse.
“My drawing class,” he says.
“No way, a sensitive artist man,” Meg hums, “Nice.”
“No, no. I mean. He wasn’t an artist,” – Meg cocks a single brow – “he was the figure model.”
“You…you fucked a model?”
“Figure models aren’t like that kind of model, Meg,” he says, “although I suppose Dean could have been. I gave him my number afterward, but it’s been a couple weeks now, and – he hasn’t called.”
Meg makes a face. She points at him and asks, “So, let me get this straight. You’re hung up on some one night stand?”
“Best sex of my life one night stand,” he defends, “But, I suppose when you put it that way, it sounds far less reasonable.”
“Clarence,” Meg says, tone nothing but calm and reason, “That is just freaking sad. We’ve gotta get you out tonight, check out some other people – because, really? You’re depressing me.”
This is how they end up no place near their usual bar, instead at one of Meg’s late-night haunts. Castiel doesn’t tend to enjoy clubs like this, thick with loud, thrumming music and sweating bodies. The bass rumbles in his ear drums as he and Meg cross inside between a tall, broad-shouldered woman in a sequined dress and a clutch of eyeliner-laden kids that probably gained access with fake IDs. It’s so loud inside that he can’t hear his own voice when he orders another drink, but the bartender seems to understand.
But even as the alcohol loosens his limbs, he still feels suffocated by the body heat and volume of the music. Meg knows he doesn’t like clubs, but he can credit her for trying her best to pull him out of his foul mood. He finds her on the second floor engaged in a close dance with a blond man, and taps her shoulder.
“I’m gonna go,” he says.
“You sure?” she mouths.
“Yeah,” he replies, “I’m just not feeling it tonight. Thank you, though.”
Besides, tomorrow is his next volunteer day with the kids at the library. He values being in decent shape for children at the library over waiting people at Olive Garden.
He drives back to his apartment in silence, keeping the radio down as he navigates the dark streets. The hallway in his building smells like vomit and makes his stomach churn. He lets himself into his apartment and immediately collapses on his bed. He lies on his back and stares up at the dark ceiling, wondering if he should have stayed with Meg and found an acceptable man to have another one night stand with.
That’s all his life has been – one night stands. He didn’t used to mind, writing himself off as a busy bachelor with more important things to do than deal in romance.
Now he’s not as sure.
Now, when he looks at his studio apartment, his once-a-month friend date with Meg, his parade of routine sex without strings, his thankless job –
Castiel realizes he is lonely.
Library Saturdays are Castiel’s favorite. It is a rare weekend when he has a Saturday free, but as soon as he sees one on his schedule he calls to let the library know. The children love the way that he reads, he’s been told, and few things are more gratifying than being told by a child that they like something about you. Children are honest and straightforward – they don’t know how to lie yet, how to act.
He dresses in sturdy jeans and a soft sweater found in the depths of a thrift store. Meg thinks it’s ugly, but as she doesn’t wear sweaters, Castiel does not trust her judgment on the matter. The reflection that faces him in his small bathroom mirror looks much better than the reflections of the previous days in the week. He has something to look forward to, and it’s given his face color and lightened the shadows beneath his eyes.
Castiel treats himself to a cup of black coffee from Starbucks on the walk over to the library. He sips the last of what remains in the paper cup by the time that he makes it up the concrete steps of the building, and crushes it before he tosses it into the trashcan outside. He’s sticky under his sweater from humidity and summer heat, but he doesn’t care, because this is what he was made for. He was made for books and quiet places.
“Castiel, good to see you,” greets Sarah, one of the younger librarians employed there, “There’s a stack of books for you to choose from in the Reading Nook. Kids should be circling up in a half hour, I think. You want water or anything?”
“Water would be lovely,” he agrees.
He selects a handful of books, including a favorite that he’s read before called Unlovable, about a pug named Alfred. When Castiel takes his place in the chair in front of the children’s Reading Nook, they make an announcement to the interested parties that he’ll start reading to the kids in fifteen minutes.
Only three minutes before he’s scheduled to begin, a familiar ball of energy tumbles through the circle of curious-eyed kids and latches onto the leg of Castiel’s jeans.
“Mr. Novak!” exclaims Sam.
“Hello, Sam,” he greets, “How are you today?”
“I’m happy because you’re here,” Sam says, “You’re my favorite because you do the voices like my big brother.”
“Thank you, Sam. That’s a very nice thing to say,” Castiel smiles. Sam is at the library every Saturday, and is a popular favorite among the librarians that work in the children’s section. He’s bright for his age, impressively articulate for a child of four.
With a dozen or so kids seated in front of him, Castiel begins to read. Today he has three books lined up – most of the kids stay for the first and drift away afterward, while others join mid-book to listen. Sam, though, stays for all three books, rapt with attention.
When Castiel finishes and stands, Sam loops his arms around his leg and says, “You should come home with me. I think my brother would like you. I like you.”
“Sammy? Where are you, buddy?”
Oh. Oh, no.
No no no no no.
This is clearly a nightmare. Castiel is asleep, and this is a nightmare.
Except when he pinches himself the pain is real.
And he’s staring into the face of Dean the figure model.
“Mr. Novak, come meet my brother,” Sam says, and wraps one chubby hand around two of Castiel’s fingers to drag him forward. He smiles broadly at both of them and says, “This is my big brother Dean. He works at lots of places.”
“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says softly.
“Dean, Mr. Novak does the voices like you do,” Sam says, “Mr. Novak, do you have a name? Like a first name?”
“My name is Castiel,” he says.
“Casti-Castiel,” Sam echoes, tasting the name on his tongue, “Your name is weird.”
“Sam,” Dean says, “That’s not very nice.”
“Sorry,” Sam says.
“Hey, buddy, did you pick out some books?” Dean asks, “You know we can’t stay too long, ‘cause Bobby’s expecting us.”
“No, I was listening to Cas-ti-el,” Sam says, drawing out Castiel’s name with a little bit of attitude, “I’ll go find some. Castiel, can I take the book about the doggy?”
“Go ahead,” Castiel replies.
Sam leaves them to collect Unlovable, and in his midst leaves painful awkwardness.
“Hello,” Castiel attempts, and feels his face heat, “How – how have you been?”
“Same old,” Dean replies, “You?”
“Same old,” Castiel says.
Silence falls between them.
“So…uh,” Dean grabs at the back of his neck, “You work at the library?”
“Oh, no,” Cas replies, “I volunteer here sometimes on my days off. Waiter, remember?”
“Huh. So you still doin’ your art?”
Castiel’s lips quirk up, “I am a creature of habit.”
Before the awkward silence can befall them again, Dean goes on, “So, look. I’m sorry about…not calling. I just. I got my hands full, and I like you, right? But I gotta put Sammy first, and I don’t have time for dating in between all that crap. So, uh. Sorry. I guess.”
“That’s all right,” Castiel says, and pauses before he asks, “If you don’t mind my asking, where are your parents? You and Sam are awfully far apart in age.”
Dean’s lips flatten and he says, “I was an accident. Actually, so was Sam. My parents had me when they were freakin’ sixteen, and then had Sam in their late thirties, I guess ‘cause they weren’t thinking straight. Some drunk kids took ‘em out before Sam was even two,” he shrugs, “and it’s not like I was gonna let him go live with our grandparents. Those people are fucking insane. So he’s my job.”
“Oh,” Castiel says, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”
“S’okay,” Dean responds, running his fingers back through his hair, “Just one of those things, I guess. Or whatever.”
“It’s likely not my place, but…if you ever need any help with Sam, I tend to work evenings and have my days open,” Castiel says.
Dean doesn’t respond to that immediately. He glances down at the carpet and exhales through his nostrils, considering, and then confesses, “I deleted your number.”
“I figured,” Castiel shrugs, “I won’t lie to you. I was disappointed. But I recognize I’m not exactly an exciting romantic prospect, so I don’t blame you. My offer to help with Sam still stands, if you’d like me to give you my phone number again.”
The look on Dean’s face is unconvinced, until Sam leaps out from behind one of the bookshelves on their side with at least five books gathered into his arms and says, “Say yes, Dean! I like Castiel more than Becky.”
“Becky is perfectly fine,” Dean says, but then glances to Castiel and says, “But I’ll consider it. Here.” He removes his cellphone from the back pocket of his jeans and places it in Castiel’s outstretched palm. Castiel punches in his number again and saves it, and wonders as he returns Dean’s phone if this makes him weak. Meg probably would think so.
“All right, kid, we need to go,” Dean says, “You got all the books you want?”
“Uh-huh,” Sam says, “Bye-bye, Castiel. Come visit me, okay?”
“I’ll try my best,” Castiel says.
It turns out that Castiel does not have to try at all. On a morning after a particularly shitty night of bad tips and rude customers, Castiel’s cellphone rings beside his head, jolting him out of sleep. He doesn’t glance over the screen before he presses it to the shell of his ear and rasps out, “Hello?”
“Cas?” It’s Dean. His voice is stressed and stretched thin, “Sorry, did I wake you?”
“S’all good,” Castiel mumbles, “What’s wrong?”
“Uh, I hate to – fuck, um. Were you serious when you said you could help with Sam? ‘Cause. Shit – Sammy, don’t cry, okay? It’ll be fine,” Dean’s voice goes fuzzy and far away for a moment and the sound of Sam weeping sounds out underneath the soothing rumble of Dean’s voice. A second later, it sounds like the phone is dropped, Dean swears, and collects it again to say, “I pulled Sam out of his daycare and I need somebody to watch him but Becky’s at school and I’ve gotta work in like, thirty minutes.”
“Okay,” Cas says.
“Let me get dressed and I can be over in a few minutes. Text me your address,” he says.
“Fuck,” Dean swears, but it’s in relief, “I really owe you one for this, man. I can – I can pay you if you want. It won’t be a lot, but –”
“Dean,” Castiel states, “Breathe. I don’t need to be paid. I will be over soon. I’m going to hang up now.”
“Okay,” Dean says, “Thanks. Really.”
Six and a half minutes later, Castiel is in a paint-stained blue t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees and is halfway to his car. He doesn’t own much that would be of interest to a four year old, but he did tuck the movie Coraline into his bag just in case. Dean, as instructed, has sent a text with his address to Castiel with the cross streets and number of the apartment that they live in.
Dean buzzes him inside before Castiel can do a single thing, and the second that he opens the door, Sam pounces on him, grabbing his leg.
“Hello,” Cas says.
Dean in front of him is dressed neatly but looks exhausted. He says, “Dude, I – just thanks, Cas. My shift ends at three, are you cool to watch him ‘til then?”
“I don’t work until five in the evening, so yes, that should be fine,” Castiel confirms.
“Great, awesome. You be good for Cas, okay Sam?”
Sam unlatches from Castiel’s leg just long enough to make grabby hands at Dean to get him to stoop down and hug him. He pats the top of Dean’s head with a chubby hand and says, “Love you, Dean.”
“Love you too, buddy,” Dean says, “See you guys.”
The door slams behind Dean and they can hear his footsteps in the hallway as he strides toward the elevator. Only when the sound of those footsteps fades does Cas look down at Sam, who stares contemplatively back.
“I brought a movie,” Cas finally says, “Would you like to watch it?”
Sam mulls this over for a moment and then says, “Can you read to me first?”
Dean should feel bad for taking advantage of Castiel’s kindness, but he doesn’t. Sam likes Cas, and that’s enough. That fucking Raphael kid’s parents called him. Called him, at fucking home at their apartment, and went on and on about how Dean and Sam weren’t a proper family and that Sam needed a better influence in his life and – those fuckers. The second he’d hung up (after a lot of swearing and yelling and Sam crying because he didn’t know what was going on) he called the daycare and told him he was withdrawing Sam.
Sam’s crying was the worst part of the whole ordeal. In general Sam likes – or liked, rather – his daycare. There was a little girl named Ruby that he’d had a couple of play dates with, and most of the kids weren’t little shits.
But one little shit can change everything, and Dean’s not gonna take that crap lying down. Sam deserves the best of everything, including a place unpopulated by total dickbags.
His shift at the diner feels quick, either because they’re busy or because Dean feels better about Sam being with Cas than Sam being at daycare with kids with asshole parents. Still, he worries when he drives back home. He doesn’t even know Cas that well, but who else could take Sam on such short notice? Nobody. And while he knows that Pam wouldn’t mind if he brought Sam to the diner, he’d really rather not have to do that.
Dean doesn’t know what to expect when he puts his key in the doorknob and lets himself in.
What he finds is a relief. Sam and Castiel are curled up on the couch, both passed out. A movie that Dean doesn’t recognize flashes across the screen.
Rather than wake them, he pokes around the rest of the apartment. An empty box of Kraft Mac & Cheese sits in the trashcan and a pot and dishes in the sink. Sam’s room doesn’t look like a tornado ran through it, which it tends to after he’s been left with Becky.
Dean showers, and when he exits the bathroom Cas is standing in the hallway, rubbing sleep from his eyes. Dean’s heart leaps in his chest, which is stupid. This is all so stupid.
“Sorry,” Cas says, and turns to go back toward the living room.
“Nothing you ain’t seen before,” Dean softly chuckles.
“That’s true,” Cas smiles.
Dean wanders back into his bedroom, and when he hears Cas follow him, he says, “So, thanks for today. I just – these douchebags at Sam’s school have been on about how he needs a mom and a dad, and I’m not ‘real family’ or whatever the fuck. As mad as it makes me, I think it’s hurting him worse, so I just took him out, you know? But yeah, thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Castiel says.
Dean figures that modesty is null here, so he lets his towel drop and pulls boxers and sweatpants over his hips. When he turns back to Castiel, he can’t read a damn thing on the guy’s cryptic-ass face, so he just keeps talking. He rambles, “Sam, he really likes you. So if you’re serious about being able to look after him sometimes –”
“Of course,” Cas says.
“I guess I don’t get why you’re doing this,” Dean finally manages.
“Because I’ve always liked Sam when I’ve volunteered at the library,” Castiel answers, “and because I like you. And I suppose because I understand what it’s like to need help.”
“How are you even real?” Dean asks.
“Physically speaking, because my parents participated in sexual congress without protection,” Castiel says.
“Thanks, Cas. That’s very literal of you,” Dean says.
Only then does it occur to him how close together that they’ve drifted. He can feel the body heat emanating off of him, smell that vague aroma of incense that his whole apartment had to it and the kind of soap you find at farmer’s markets. Dean brushes Cas’ hand with the backs of his knuckles and they lean into each other, lips barely apart and breath mingling.
“Are you guys gonna kiss?”
They leap back from each other. Sam stands beneath the frame of the door. No anger or disgust crosses his face, only the genuine curiosity that Castiel has come to expect from him.
Dean swallows. At first he thinks that he should deny it, but he says instead, “Yeah, Sammy, I was gonna kiss Cas.”
“‘Cause I like him,” Dean says.
“Oh,” Sam says, “Do you always kiss people you like?”
“Only if they’re okay with it,” Dean says.
Sam makes a face and tilts his head a little before he looks to Castiel, “Are you okay with kissing my dumb brother?”
Castiel shifts on his feet and glances at Dean as though to ask him for permission to speak. Dean shrugs at him, though he guesses he’d rather that Cas didn’t lie to Sammy. Cas mimics the tilt to Sam’s head and says, “Of course I’m okay with it.”
Aw, son of a bitch. He should not like the way that those words sound in Cas’ mouth, but he’s beyond liking it. He fucking loves it. He barely knows the guy beyond knowing he waits tables, draws like a friggin’ beast, reads to little kids at the library, and likes dudes. Hell, he doesn’t even know if Cas likes chicks, too.
“Okay,” Sam says, cheerful, “Can we finish watching the movie?”
“I have to go to work,” Castiel says, and Sam’s face falls at that, “but you and Dean may borrow it if you would like.”
A bright smile changes Sam’s face, a smile that Deans seldom ever sees from him.
“Does that mean you’re coming back?” Sam asks.
Cas looks to Dean, and Dean nods at him.
“Yes. I’ll be coming back.”
Most days, he and Dean do not have time together. More often than not, Castiel sees Becky before he leaves for his evening shift at Olive Garden, unless he has the day off. In those cases he stays for the entire day, and those are his favorite and least favorite days. Often on these days, he takes Sam to the library or museum, and once to the zoo. He likes to look for new things for them to do together and loves the expression Sam will get on his face when he loves one of those things.
At the natural history museum, Sam likes the cases of bugs best, especially the beetles. Castiel is not as partial to insects and arachnids, but he humors Sam nonetheless and takes him out for ice cream afterward.
When they go to the zoo, Sam begs to go in the gift store and later pleads for a stuffed giraffe. He also finds a masculine-looking leather cord necklace that he says Castiel should get for Dean “because maybe he’ll wanna kiss you more.” Castiel purchases both toy giraffe and necklace. When he gives the necklace to Dean, he says it was Sam’s idea, and Dean loops it over his head without question.
And then on one particular day when Castiel shows up as always, Dean sits in the kitchen in pajamas instead of being in a hurry. When Castiel asks him what he’s still doing here, Dean answers, “Dude, it’s Saturday.”
Oh, right. They don’t need him on Saturdays.
“Sorry,” he says, lamely.
“Don’t worry about it,” Dean says, “Stay. I was gettin’ kinda jealous of all the fun shit you guys have been doing anyway. You know of any stuff do on Saturdays that isn’t gonna suck ‘cause everybody wants to be out on a Saturday?”
Castiel sits down at their round kitchen table and says, “Well, there are Saturday Art Adventures at the Spencer Museum. I don’t know how crowded those get, though.”
This is the moment that Sam chooses to emerge from his bedroom, rubbing his eyes with both tiny fists and yawning. His train-themed pajamas are wrinkled, the sleep shirt riding up and revealing his round toddler belly. He smiles sleepily when he sees Cas, and wastes no time in climbing up into Castiel’s lap, resting his bedhead up against his chest.
“Sammy, you wanna go the art museum with me n’ Cas?” Dean asks.
“Yeah,” he says, “Can I bring my giraffe?”
“Sure, as long as you don’t lose him,” Dean answers, “That okay with you, Cas? I know it’s Saturday and maybe you wanna day off or something.”
“I don’t need a day off from Sam,” he says without thinking, and finds it upon consideration to be true. He’s loved spending all this time with Sam, Dean or no Dean. Sam has brought something to his life that he didn’t know he needed. And true, it isn’t always ice cream and museums. Sam has definitely thrown screaming fits about not taking a bath after finger painting, and once threw a toy car that struck Cas in the head. He refuses to eat particular foods and some nights refuses to go to bed until Dean gets home.
Like any other four year old, he is a brat.
But he’s a very sweet brat, and a smart one, and Castiel has not had as much fun as he’s had in the past weeks watching Sam in his life. Some days he goes home exhausted. Other days he’s so exhausted he falls asleep on the couch at Dean and Sam’s apartment. But it’s a worthwhile exhaustion, the kind of tired you become from doing something that you care about.
When Castiel catches Dean’s gaze, Dean has a crooked smile on his face. That smile says more things than either of them care to admit. And instead of acknowledging those things, Dean says, “All right, let’s get you dressed, Sammy.”
At the museum, the art adventure in session is on Native American beadwork. The parents mostly hang back as a woman in a neat cardigan and dress pants reads a book to the kids and explains the histories and traditions of the artwork before they sit down at a low table and start in on arts and crafts.
A plump mom with her hair clipped up and a wide smile chats idly with Castiel as the kids work away. She asks, “Which one is yours?”
Castiel and Dean both point to Sam.
“He’s a cute one,” she says, “Mine are the twins over there. Full of trouble.”
“They all are,” Castiel says gravely, and she laughs.
Then she says, “It’s great to see some family diversity. You don’t see a lot of kids with two dads in these parts.”
Castiel opens his mouth to correct her, but Dean jumps in before he can speak with a, “Yeah, it ain’t always easy.”
At the art table, one of the twins smacks the other and both of them promptly start crying. Their mom shakes her head and strides to attend to them. Castiel takes the opportunity to turn to Dean and ask, “Why didn’t you correct her?”
“I –” Dean starts, stops, and then shrugs, “I dunno.”
They’ll have to discuss the implications of that later. Sam brings them his project only a few seconds later and presents it to Dean, informing him that the mess of beads and glue on a felt scrap is a present for him. Dean thanks him like Sam’s just given him the best gift in the world and hugs him.
Castiel feels a jolt of emotion. He thinks of Gabriel, and though he loves his brother, their relationship was never like this. True, what Sam and Dean have is an awful lot more like father and son than brothers, but it’s still the kind of family bond that Castiel never got to enjoy. Maybe that’s why he loves spending so much time with them, because they’re a family like he’s never seen before, and they’re a family that he wishes he could have.
He finds himself feeling a little sad on the way back to the apartment, gazing out the Impala’s window as Lawrence whips by. In his car seat behind them, Sam is fast asleep, giraffe clutched against his chest. Neither of them want to wake him when they park in front of the Winchesters’ apartment building, so Dean lifts him out of his seat as gently as possible. It’s strange to watch a big, broad-shouldered man hold a sleeping child. Strange, and everything that Castiel wants.
But beyond a few heated looks and the conversation about kissing with Sam, Dean hasn’t indicated any interest in Castiel that doesn’t include pro bono babysitting activities. He can’t let himself think that Dean is a possibility.
He does anyway.
After Dean puts Sam down in his bed with the giraffe tucked in his arms, Castiel murmurs, “I should probably go, then.”
“Why? Thought we were gonna hang out,” Dean says.
“Dean,” Castiel says softly, “I love spending time with you and Sam very much, but I can’t – I can’t make this more intimate than it is. I like you, which I expect you already know. I’ve liked you very much since you modeled for my class and this –” he waves his hand at Dean, “this, I can’t do. I am more than happy to watch Sam but I can’t put myself as close to you as I’ve been doing. It makes me want things that I can’t have.”
Dean studies him with serious green eyes. After a beat, he asks, “What if you can have them?”
“What are you –”
Dean’s mouth covers his, hot and sweet. It’s just as good as it was that night so long ago, just as perfect now as it was then. Automatically, Castiel winds his arms around Dean’s neck and pulls him down to deepen the kiss. His body is all soft skin and hard planes, strong limbs and the smell of men’s body wash. The combination makes him moan a little into Dean’s kiss.
Dean hushes him, “Can’t wake Sammy,” and then, “C’mon.”
Dean pulls them both into his bedroom, whose door he locks behind them just in case. His fingers touch along the hem of Castiel’s t-shirt and he says, “I need this off.”
Castiel doesn’t hesitate to obey. One by one, his pieces of clothing disappear with Dean’s, hitting the carpet without rhyme or reason. They’re both hard, heavy between their legs and flushed with how badly they need this. He’s needed this for so long, woken up in sweats from dreaming about how good his one night stand with Dean had been.
If they do this, it will no longer be a one night stand. It will be the first experience in a hopefully long line of sexual encounters. Maybe never ending. Castiel would love if his time with Dean never ended.
Dean manhandles Cas into lying back on his bed. It’s different than Castiel’s bed – bigger, softer – and smells so much like Dean that he whines a little in his throat, wanting more than just skin on skin. Dean smothers the noises with another kiss and presses the heel of his palm to Castiel’s erection, stroking clumsily as he stretches his other hand toward the drawer in his bedside table.
“Is that your naughty drawer?” Castiel chuckles, voice low.
Dean flashes him a grin, “Maybe.”
A mostly unused bottle of lube and a single condom fall on the bedspread beside them. Dean keeps on his knees, straddled over Castiel’s body. He surveys him, eyes sweeping from brow to chest to the cock red and wet at the tip with how badly he needs this.
The tip of Dean’s tongue slides out to wet his lower lip. He chews on it, thinking, and then asks, “Could I ride you? Would that be cool?”
Castiel swallows and nods. He doesn’t have the right words for how much he wants that, just that he wants it so badly that he could cry. He’s helpless but to watch as Dean uncaps the lube and drizzles it over his fingers. With his hand dripping, his green eyes flick up to meet Cas’ and a faint smile grows on his mouth, a dirty smile that makes Cas shudder.
With his slick hand he reaches up behind himself and presses a finger in. Below Dean, Castiel groans, and Dean has to clap his dry hand over his mouth to get him to be quiet. Castiel bites his tongue and watches as Dean starts to ride back onto his own hand. He makes such sweet noises whenever he touches himself just right – gentle hitches of breath and tiny pleasured sounds that he bites down and swallows back.
And then Dean is reaching for the condom, tearing open the packet and taking Castiel’s cock in hand to roll the latex over him. He grips Cas one-handed and settles over him.
Dean’s body fits over Castiel’s like a glove. He’s tight and hot. The sensation overwhelms Cas at first, making him groan loudly enough that Dean has to put that hand over his mouth again, has to chant, “Shh, baby, shh,” as he sinks down onto Cas to the hilt.
And then Dean rides him. He presses his hands against Cas’ chest and stoops low to capture his mouth in a rough kiss, bruising and nipping at his mouth and jaw and throat as he fucks himself back. His fingers drift to the silver jewelry through Cas’ nipples and he plays with them, teasing with fingertips before he lowers his mouth to suck at them.
“So goddamn good,” Dean says. He’s quiet but his voice is wrecked as he rocks their bodies together and words tumble from his mouth, “Cock so fuckin’ sweet inside me, so good, Cas.”
Castiel just makes noise and submits to Dean’s hand covering his mouth.
They move together with sloppy slaps of wet skin, grunting and clawing at each other. It’s just as good as the first time they fucked. Maybe it’s even better. All Castiel knows is that he’s so hot he feels like he needs to shed his skin, so turned on he feels fit to burst, and –
“Holy – Dean, gonna come,” he says, and does.
“Shit,” Dean curses, and clenches up tight around Castiel’s cock, “You look so fuckin’ nice when you come. So sexy. Fuck.”
“Dean,” Castiel says, as he comes down, lightheaded and dizzy with pleasure, “Come here.”
“I want you to fuck my mouth.”
“What?” Dean says.
“I want you to fuck my mouth,” Castiel repeats, “Do I need to say please?”
“No,” Dean says, “No, you do not.”
Dean sighs when pulls off of Castiel’s cock, a bittersweet sound. He sidles up over Castiel’s torso and grips his dick, holding it out like offering against Castiel’s lips. Cas lets his mouth fall open and licks along the tip. Dean tastes good, just as good as he knew that he would. His hands drift up to grip Dean’s hips, and he urges him forward, taking his cock back into his throat one inch at a time. He hasn’t done this trick in a long time, not since before he dropped out of KU. It irritates his throat and takes a few moments to get used to, but as soon as he does he helps Dean’s hips move the right way, thrusting.
The plunges forward are shallow at first, and then when Cas’ nails bite into his side, harder. Sweat beads on Dean’s forehead. His cock is heavy and wonderful inside Cas’ mouth. He moans around it, just softly, but it still undoes Dean enough for his hips to stutter and his breath to catch. Dean bites down on his own skin to keep quiet, and in so doing comes without warning, warm, into Castiel’s throat.
Cas sputters a little but swallows, and when Dean pulls his dick from his throat he makes a desperate bid for oxygen. Dean isn’t in much better shape, gasping and shaking on top of him.
“Holy hell,” Dean finally says. His voice is sex-roughed, hoarse. Perfect.
“You do things to me,” Castiel mumbles.
“You’re telling me,” Dean laughs, “God, I’m beat. You got work tonight?”
“Mm, no. I’m off,” he says.
“Me too,” Dean smiles, “You wanna crash? Not in the buff – I’m gonna unlock the door in case Sammy needs me.”
“Yes, please,” Castiel says.
They shuffle and shift. Castiel, wobbly-legged, walks across the room to peel the condom off of his soft cock and toss it into Dean’s trashcan, and gratefully accepts when Dean offers him a pair of sleep pants. As promised, Dean unlocks the door and slides underneath the covers next to Castiel. His body heat feels wonderful, and Castiel draws into that warmth like a moth to flame.
“We’re doing that again,” Dean promises.
Castiel agrees, “Yes. We are.”
The last thing that he feels before he drifts off to sleep is the slide of Dean’s arms coming to wrap around him, and the touch of lips against his still-sticky forehead.
At first Castiel thinks that he’s back in his apartment, waking from another incredible dream about Dean. But soon he realizes the soreness in his body is real, a kind of soreness that can’t come from anything but sex. He makes a soft noise and turns, seeking the heat that he fell asleep enveloped in.
Only then he hears it – a hushed conversation.
Castiel stills underneath the blanket and pretends to be asleep, but he hears them right beside him. It’s Dean and Sam.
“If you like him, does that mean you’re going to be boyfriends?” Sam asks.
“Dunno, buddy,” Dean murmurs back, “but I hope so.”
Castiel hopes so too.