Friday – September 18th 2009
Dean would never forget the day everything changed between him and the roommate he’d known for all of three weeks.
Castiel had stepped out of the bathroom they share with the dorm next door in one hell of a sharp outfit. Dean had raked his eyes over him quickly, impressed and surprised. He was wearing a new pair of jeans and a deep blue button down shirt, both of which fit him very well, showing off the nice curve of his ass, the slim but sturdy build of his frame. If he was out to pick up someone for his birthday, he wouldn’t have any problems.
Not that he knew where Castiel stood on that. As far as he’d seen, Castiel had yet to go out on a date, or even express the interest.
“So where’s your bro taking you tonight, birthday boy?” Dean asked from his position, sunk into the bean bag chair.
Castiel ran a hand down the front of his shirt, smoothing out the creases in agitation. “He wouldn’t tell me,” Castiel said with a hint of irritability. “He has a habit of picking the most interesting places though.”
“That’s a good thing though, right?” Dean said to Castiel’s hesitancy.
“You don’t know Gabe,” Castiel said with a sigh. “Do you still have plans?”
He sounded so hopeful that Dean hated to give him the news. “Yeah, still busy. Sorry man.”
Dean wished he didn’t have plans though. With the exception of a few scuffles of will (For example, Dean had wanted the top bunk, but Castiel won it with paper over his rock.) they had gotten along great in their first weeks together. They were both freshmen, both adjusting to living on their own and the whole college experience, and everything was still so new that they hadn’t gotten any further in a friendship yet. But Dean was hoping they would. He didn’t have a lot of friends, especially at Kansas State, and it didn’t look like Castiel did either.
Castiel’s cell phone went off with a short ring. He looked down at it and read for a moment before looking up. “Gabriel is double parked and his ‘charms’ aren’t working on the ‘rent-a-cop’ and I need to get my ‘cute little ass’ down there.”
Dean raised an amused eyebrow at all the quotey fingers, trying not to chuckle or find his roommate adorable as Castiel grumpily grabbed his trench coat from off the back of his desk chair.
Castiel shot him one more pleading look as he left, Dean shaking his head with sympathy and amusement. He called out a “Have fun!” as the door clicked shut.
He was beginning to understand Castiel’s reservations about the evening.
Gabriel was rich and influential and an unapologetic flirt, which meant he almost always got his way, regardless of the rules or the law. So Castiel entered the strip club without a single issue, and didn’t even question where the tequila shot came from, despite being 2 years away from legally being able to drink. He just downed the drink and hoped it would make the rest of the evening more enjoyable.
It also meant that when Gabriel pulled them into table and chairs in the front row, he knew better than to protest. Gabriel wanted him to have fun, and he didn’t object strongly enough to fight him on it. His brother had never understood that Castiel wasn’t particularly interested in mindless carnal pleasures, that seeing naked flesh wasn’t really one of his interests. But he also didn’t have any issue with it, so he simply knocked back the second shot glass, and settled in to watch.
The club was an open-interest club, which meant that men and women took turns on the stage, and sometimes even shared it. The first dancer was a group of girls, and Castiel wasn’t particularly intrigued by any of them. Though Castiel didn’t feel much by way of sexual attraction, at least based on looks alone, he had enough to know he tended to prefer men.
The girls left the stage and the lights dimmed. Through the darkness, Castiel could make out a man taking the stage, and he appeared to be wearing a cowboy hat. He was immediately more intrigued than he had been with the girls, and nothing had even happened yet. Then the lights came up with a sudden jolt of music and Cas nearly fell out of his chair.
The man under the cowboy hat was his roommate.
Gabriel whistled next to him. “Man that is a fine specimen of the human species up there,” he shouted to Castiel over the pulse of the music.
Castiel was too stunned to reply. His roommate works as a stripper, and he didn’t even know about it. Though, this did explain his tendency to sway his hips whenever he’s idle, and it definitely explained him coming home awfully late, especially on the weekends. Castiel had assumed Dean was out with friends or on dates. Dean has done nothing to dissuade those conclusions. He obviously hadn’t intended for Castiel to know about this, at least not yet. This could get very awkward.
If it wasn’t already.
But then again, Dean hadn’t seen Castiel. He could just pretend this hadn’t happened, that he wasn’t currently watching his roommate rip his chaps off his fit legs and shimmy his ass around for the audience with a big cheesy grin, and they could just go on as normal. Of course, that might be hard to do if he continues to watch his roommate’s pelvis thrust at him, nearly naked now. With a small swallow, he sharply averted his eyes.
Castiel was absolutely certain that plan would have worked just fine too. If only Gabriel hadn’t misread his physical responses to Dean on stage.
Shortly after Dean’s performance, Gabriel had disappeared. And a half hour after that, Castiel discovered why. He had booked a lap dance for the “birthday boy” with “the boy toy.” Castiel could do nothing but watch in horror as Dean made his way to their table. Dean hadn’t seen him yet, looking around the room as he strode over. So it wasn’t until he was saying, “Lap dance at table 4?” that he finally looked down and met Castiel’s eye.
Dean’s eyes widened instantly, growing panic evident. Gabriel took no notice of course and chimed in, “Yep, that’s the birthday boy right there. Make sure he has a good time will you?” He reached over and slid a $50 into Dean’s draw string. Dean gulped hard.
“I don’t think-“
“How dare you,” Castiel snapped at Gabriel. It was defensive anger, though Gabriel mistook the source. “You should have asked me. I don’t want a lap dance,” Castiel said, biting out the words. His eyes flittered to Dean, who was watching their exchange without breathing.
“You want one with him though,” Gabriel said with a leer. “For once in your life bro, don’t be a prude. Just enjoy it.”
Castiel’s pulse quickened and his lips thinned as true anger over took him. He hated when Gabriel called him a prude, deliberately misunderstanding Castiel’s sexuality just to piss him off. He had teased Castiel endlessly for being a prude all through high school simply because he was never terribly interested in dating. He’d dated one guy, and he had just started to develop feelings and physical interest in him when he moved to New York. Gabriel then teased him, saying he must have been so awful in bed that he made the guy move away.
Gabriel could be a bit of a dick.
“Fine,” Castiel spat out, realizing the best way out of the situation was through it. He turned to Dean, tried to soften his expression, and mouthed, “Go with it.”
Dean hesitated another second, meeting Castiel’s eyes, evaluating what he saw there. Castiel knew he could refuse a lap dance to any customer, it was the rules of the club, but he slowly began to gyrate with the music, rocking his hips right in front of Castiel’s face. Castiel tried to not stare at his roommates crotch, and kept his eyes level on Dean’s stomach instead. His nice, flat, toned stomach. His heart was pounding in his chest at the awkwardness as it was, and sky rocketed when Dean crawled into his lap. He was so close, Castiel could smell the sweat and practically feel the body glitter falling on him. He hadn’t even realized Dean was shimmering until then.
Castiel leaned back, his eyes glancing up just in time to meet Dean’s own. They flittered away nervously. His shimmying, thrusting and shaking were all as sinful and graceful as one would expect, but he was obviously trying to keep himself as removed as possible from the situation. Only Castiel would notice the blush on Dean’s cheeks. He thought, suddenly, that it was endearing.
Dean was very good at this though. His movements were mesmerizing, and pulled Castiel in. He found his eyes dropping and a faint shimmer of arousal went through him. He gasped, snapping his gaze away as fast as possible. Of all the inappropriate things to do with your brand new roommate. Was Dean going to think he was a pervert?
The music changed and Dean stilled.
“Happy birthday, man,” Dean mumbled as he crawled off, fleeing without another word.
“That was odd,” Gabriel said next to him, breaking the stupor Castiel had found himself in.
Castiel snorted. “You have no idea.”
It was 4:00 in the morning before Castiel came back to their room. Dean had not been waiting up for him on purpose, but rather, simply couldn’t sleep. His stomach churned with worry that he had already ruined things with his roommate and potential friend. He knew there was no reason to assume Castiel was bothered by this revelation, but it would be equally stupid to assume he was okay with having a roommate who sold his looks to the eyes of men and women alike. As the clock had ticked on later and later into the morning, even by his club schedule standards, he had begun to think Castiel wasn’t going to come back. He resigned himself to having fucked up one more thing in his life.
When Castiel did finally bang his way through the door, the relief flooded his system. However, as Castiel walked jerkily in the room, completely drunk, the relief turned to concern. Cas stopped in the middle of the room and swayed dangerously, eyes glassy and unfocused, his trench coat even more rumpled than normal. He hiccupped and somehow he made the action look adorable.
“My god Cas,” Dean said, standing up. “How much did you have to drink?”
Castiel shook his head. “I don’t-“ Castiel broke off to hiccup again, “-know. Lost track-“ Another hiccup. “-around the fourteenth shot of tequila.”
Dean’s eyes rounded in shock. “That’s a lot of alcohol Cas. Why’d you drink so much tequila?”
Castiel took a small step forward, beckoning Dean closer with his right hand. Dean moved forward cautiously, but Castiel kept beckoning. When he was far too far into Castiel’s personal space, he put his lips to Dean’s ears and said, in a perfectly normal voice instead of a whisper, “Don’t ask stupid questions.”
Dean jerked back with shock, but before he could say anything, Cas continued, “And please stop-“ –hiccup- “-saying the word ‘tequila.’”
Then he promptly bent over and threw up on Dean’s feet, sliding slowly to the ground, smearing the putrid substance on himself.
Dean stared at his puke covered toes for a moment before looking to Cas and sighing heavily.
“Let’s get you cleaned up then,” Dean said, apparently to himself.
It was difficult getting Cas in the bathroom, being mostly dead weight as he was in and out of consciousness, but once he was sitting on the toilet, Dean took a breath and set to work. He cleaned off Castiel’s face first with a cool wash cloth, and then worked him out of his shirt, glad Cas was wearing a button down so he didn’t have to pull it over his head. The dirty garments were thrown to the floor with a squelch. Castiel’s shoes came off with a sharp pull. Lastly, Dean rinsed out the cool wash cloth and wiped the floor. It would need a better cleaning later, but for the moment, it would at least keep the smell down.
Dean was pretty happy with the cleanup job. He even got Castiel to drink a glass of water, promising him he’d thank him in the morning.
It would be impossible to get Castiel in his bunk, so he figured they were switching for the night. He got Cas back to his bed, helped him undo his belt and push his jeans to the ground so that Castiel was in nothing but boxers. He had a passing thought about grabbing him a t-shirt to sleep in, but then Cas flunked against the bed frame and he figured the guy needed to be in bed more than he needed a shirt. He helped Cas lay down, and he immediately curled onto his side, facing out to the room.
He was nearly done tucking Cas in, just reaching across to the blankets piled up against the wall, when a surprisingly strong hand wrapped around his arm.
“Don’t go,” came the slurred voice.
“Cas?” Dean asked. When he got no response, he tried to pull away again, but Cas held tight and jerked Dean’s arm a little, so that he almost fell on the limp, but surprisingly strong, human beneath him. “Okay, alright. Just let me get the light.” Castiel sighed and let go of Dean’s arm, accepting the terms.
Dean turned off the light and was about to crawl up to the top bunk despite the drunk man’s wishes when Castiel once again reached for him. He only grazed his leg, but it was enough for Dean to know he was serious. He climbed over Castiel, who was still at the edge of the bed and not moving, and muttered, “This is really freaking awkward.” Castiel shook his head sluggishly, denying it. “Trust me,” Dean said, pulling the blankets over the both of them, “You’ll feel the awkward in the morning.”
“Won’t,” Castiel mumbled. Two seconds later he was snoring.
Castiel awoke slowly. The room was fuzzy, his brain was fuzzy, his teeth felt fuzzy. He groaned, grabbing his pounding head. Pieces of the night before came back to him, but nothing to explain why he was in Dean’s bed. He glanced to his side. There was certainly nothing to explain why he was in Dean’s bed with Dean.
As Dean snored on, Castiel climbed out of bed. There was certainly nothing to explain why he was in Dean’s bed, with Dean, without pants. He was a pajama bottoms kind of guy.
He padded his way to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, took some aspirin. He fetched some bottoms and a t-shirt and sat down at the desk chair, angling it so he was looking at Dean. He was just about to lean over and wake the man when Dean’s eyes fluttered open. He looked at Cas and blinked a few times, running a hand down his face and rubbing at his eyes.
“Dude, it’s creepy to watch people sleep,” he said, his voice heavy with sleep, but Castiel didn’t detect any real annoyance.
“I wasn’t watching you sleep,” Castiel said, slightly irritated at the accusation. “I was about to wake you.”
Dean hesitated at that, and then seemed to wake up instantly. He scooted until he was sitting on the edge of the bed, and clasped his hands in his lap, looking at them. He was dejected, Castiel realized with a start.
“About last night,” Dean said, swallowing. “I understand completely if you want to ask for a new roommate.”
“Is there a reason I should?” Castiel asked, surprised.
Dean looked up, shocked. Castiel thought he was endearing with his tufts of hair going every which way. He liked it much better than the fake and perfected Dean of the night before. “Um. How much do you remember?” Dean asked.
“Other than Gabriel shoving shots down my throat?” Castiel asked with a snort. “I was going to ask you actually. Did we uh. You know,” He said with a gesture between them, hoping Dean would catch his meaning. He didn’t. “I woke up in bed with you without any pants on.”
Comprehension dawned suddenly on Dean’s features. “Noooo,” Dean answered, waving his hands. “Nothing like that. You’re just a clingy drunk.”
Castiel nodded at that, accepting it easily, and breathing out a deep sigh of relief. “Good. I’m sorry if I made things awkward for you, Dean.”
Dean huffed and looked sideways, to the window. “So you’re not upset about what happened earlier? At the club?”
Castiel frowned, having to think back through a haze of alcohol. “Oh my god, you gave me a lap dance.” Dean blushed profusely as confirmation. Castiel ran his hands through his hair as the silence hung. “Damn Gabriel. I was prepared to pretend I’d never seen you. I don’t really care Dean, but it was obvious you didn’t want me to know. Then he just had to go and order that lap dance.”
“So you’re good with all this?” Dean asked, seemingly unconvinced.
Castiel nodded. “As long as you are. I’m not, uh, gay, for the record. But I can be into guys.”
Dean didn’t answer right away and Castiel was worried he’d said too much. Dean looked at Castiel for a long time before he finally said, “I can be into guys, too.” He looked down, began to pull at a thread in his pajamas. “I’ve never told anyone that.”
Castiel gave Dean a moment to reflect. He seemed to need it. Eventually, he told Dean, “Bisexual then?” Castiel asked. Dean nodded. “The closest label one could give me is demi-sexual.”
Dean blinked several times. “You like gods?”
Castiel laughed, a lot of the tension in the room evaporating with it. “No, no, it means I’m only sexually attracted to people I have feelings for.”
Dean nodded, to Castiel’s great relief. Most people did not accept his sexuality so easily, denied its existence. So when Dean correctly summed it up with, “So you get a hard-on for love?” he smiled and shook his head with amused relief.
“I suppose you could put it that way, yeah.”
“Okay,” Dean said, nodding. “Okay then. So we’re good?”
“We’re good,” Castiel agreed. “My head’s killing me but we’re good.”
Dean slapped his thighs and stood up. “C’mon, I know exactly what you need to eat at the food court to cure that hangover. Sausage, carrots, maple syrup...”
As Castiel watched Dean fish around for a pair of jeans to throw on, he had the strangest feeling that life would never be the same again with Dean Winchester around.
Saturday – November 14th 2009
Despite having his roommate and growing friend writhe nearly nakedly in his lap, their relationship continued without a trace of awkwardness. If anything, they were closer now that Castiel knew Dean’s secret. It was as if their talk had broken down a barrier between them. They had every meal together whenever their schedules didn’t conflict, and Dean had taken a liking to sending him dirty jokes when he was in class. Castiel suspected his dead-pan replies were amusing to Dean too.
Hey Cas, what kind of bees produce milk? Boobees.
I know. I poured some boobee milk in your coffee this morning.
They were also becoming good friends with the guys across the hall, Victor and Chuck. The beginning of their freshman year at college had flown by, so they were both surprised when Victor had invited them, along with his girlfriend Jo and her roommate Becky, to the last football game of the year. They hadn’t been to a game yet, so they agreed readily, despite knowing it would be cold enough to freeze appendages off.
It was easy to see, as they settled in to stamping their feet to keep warm, why Victor and Jo were dating. They were both tough and strong willed, and Cas had no doubts Jo could kick Victor’s ass in a heartbeat if she needed to. Chuck was a strange, squeaky, little man who seemed out of place amongst the football crowd, but Castiel liked him. He also liked Becky, who was a little too hyper for his tastes, but seemed sweet enough. Castiel generally liked most people though, no matter their idiosyncrasies.
When they got to their seats, Castiel made an effort to make sure Chuck and Becky were sitting together. He had hoped they would complement each other. He had not expected them to start making out at half time, but sometimes happy accidents happen.
“Cas,” Dean said, leaning in to speak close to his ear, “did you plan that?”
“No,” Castiel replied instantly. He blew on his hands and rubbed them together. “Maybe a little?” he confessed. “I thought they’d get along, I didn’t expect them to hoover each other.”
“Nice job,” Victor whispered, leaning in. “Now I’m going to have to do cute roommate double dates or some shit like that.”
Dean snorted and clapped him on the back. “Don’t let Jo hear you say that, she’ll have your balls.”
Victor blanched and quickly straightened. He leaned into Jo and whispered some sweet-nothing in her ear and she giggled. Cas caught Dean’s eye and they chuckled at their friend’s expense.
Castiel turned his attention back to the field where the marching band was setting up for their half time show. The first half of the game had been a letdown. The Wildcats were down three touchdowns, and it didn’t look like that would change any time soon. After the band’s performance of songs from the movie Chicago at half time, he was getting bored waiting for the inevitable disappointment to resume. He rubbed his hands together a few more times. He was so bored, his blood pressure was slowing down and he was getting even colder.
Castiel didn’t even notice that Dean’s conversation with Victor had died down until his hands were suddenly wrapped around his own.
“Here,” Dean mumbled warmly. When he pulled away, he left a hand-warmer pack in Castiel’s hands.
“Where did you-?”
“I bought some when I hit the john. Fucking expensive little buggers, but you looked cold.”
Castiel looked down at the hand-warmers blankly before looking at Dean and saying flatly, “We’re all cold, Dean.”
Dean shrugged. “If Becky or Victor’s hands start looking as blue as yours, then I’ll buy them one too.” His attention was pulled to the field as they set up for kickoff for the second half. “Damn near as blue as your eyes,” he mumbled to himself.
Castiel smiled and shook his head. It was such a small gesture, but it warmed his heart more than it did his hands. Dean was a thoughtful man and a very good friend. Castiel thought he’d never had one like him before. In fact, he may never find a man like Dean Winchester ever again.
He looked up from the hand-warmer just in time to see KSU score a touchdown.
The audience went wild with cheers, but Castiel simply turned to Dean and demanded, “What the fuck did I just miss?”
Dean smiled at Castiel’s rare use of a curse word and quickly explained that it was an interception, that they had run the ball back damn near 75 yards for the touchdown.
The tide of the game turned after that play, and Castiel’s blood was no longer struggling to pump itself along to a lackluster game. Everyone was invigorated, riding the high. Even Chuck and Becky had pulled apart to cheer their team on. Cas screamed along, cussing up a storm when they missed an easy pass, or cheering and fist pumping with the rest of them when they pulled off a really good play.
After an interception that left a string of cuss words flying out of his mouth so bad that a sailor would not only blush, but start writing them down, Dean leaned in to say, “I had no idea you had such a mouth on you, Cas.”
A slow, devious smile spread over Castiel’s cheeks. He winked. “I guess you still have a lot to learn about me and my mouth.”
Years later, Castiel would forget that the score ended at 28-21. But he would still remember the look at Dean’s face at that moment. His jaw had hit the floor while Castiel just leaned back and laughed.
Wednesday – December 2nd 2009
“Heading to the club?” Castiel asked, looking up from his History 101 textbook.
Dean looked up from where he was lacing his shoes. “Yeah,” he grumbled.
“You sound thrilled.”
“Wednesday’s suck. Girl’s night. Draws the extra perverted, extra broke crowd.”
Castiel frowned. He opened his mouth to say something when their bedroom door banged open loudly. Jo bounced in and face planted across their bean bag chair.
“Victor is driving me crazy,” she mumbled into the fake velvet fabric. “You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but he is the biggest Christmas junkie. He won’t fucking stop singing Jingle Bells, and I swear to God, I’m not responsible for any bodily damage I may have to cause him.”
“Um,” Dean said, tying the last knot on his shoes. “Hi Jo, please come in. We’re all decent in here.”
Jo waved her middle finger in the air in his general direction, not bothering to raise her face from where it had planted. “You guys have Christmas sorted out yet?”
Dean had it on the tip of his tongue to say, “Of course, going home, mom’ll make a ham, Sam will play carols at the piano while we sing sweetly for mom and then make them nasty when she goes to bed...,” but Castiel’s eyes had shifted to the side, and he knew him well enough to know that meant there was something he wasn’t saying. “Cas?” Dean asked.
Castiel’s shoulders slumped and he looked down to the ground, before looking back up to Dean. “Gabe called yesterday. He’s stuck in Switzerland. I’m staying here.”
Dean knew his mouth was hanging open, but for some reason, it seemed to like that position. Jo sat up and looked at Cas with what could only be called pity. “No other family then?”
“Jo,” Dean said softly, about to tell her to back off, as nicely as possible, but Cas interrupted.
“It’s okay Dean,” Castiel said, holding up a hand. “No Jo, Gabe is all I have now. I’ll be fine. We never really celebrated the holiday anyway, not without Mom.” Dean opened his mouth to speak, but Castiel cut him off again. “I said it’s fine, Dean. Aren’t you going to be late?”
Dean checked the time on his phone and grumbled out a curse word. He was going to be late if he didn’t leave right this second, and the club’s punishment for tardiness was getting restroom cleanup duty. “This isn’t over Cas,” he said, pointing at him as he slid out the door.
The evening was as rough as expected. Lots of cheap horny drunks breaking the rules and feeling him up. Security dealt with it as best they could, but tossing all handsy patrons out would cost them the business. So Dean dealt with the occasional pinch to his ass, or a hand on his thigh. He smiled just as sweetly at the girl (or boy) and winked, trying to at least earn a few extra dollars from having his respect violated repeatedly. It was Wednesday, they were all broke.
Time drudged by as he waited for an opportunity to step out in the alleyway, hoping it wouldn’t be too late to call home and ask his mom a favor. Fortunately, he got his break just before his parents would be heading to bed. Quickly grabbing a big fluffy coat to protect his nearly naked state from the cold, Dean stepped into the alleyway and pulled up his parent’s number on his phone. As he knew she would, she agreed in a heartbeat. Now he only had to hope Castiel wasn’t too stubborn to accept.
He arrived back to their room at 3:00 a.m., but Castiel was still up and studying. He stood up when Dean came in and handed him an already made mug of hot chocolate, not saying a word about the glitter in Dean’s hair or the smell of cigarettes and cheap perfume wafting from him. Dean wanted nothing more than to collapse into a chair and savor the warm beverage, but it needed to wait.
“I called my mom,” Dean said. Cas looked up from where he was sitting back down at his desk and arched an eyebrow. “She wants you to come home with me for Christmas break.”
Castiel gasped. He stood straight back up. “You should not have done that.”
“Cas, look,” Dean said, setting his mug of hot chocolate down so he could shrug out of his coat. “I know you’re stubborn and I know you hate being a burden, but you’re not being a burden. No one should be alone on Christmas.”
Castiel’s eyes shifted to the side and he bit his lip. “I don’t-“
“Look, mom said she’d clunk you over the head herself and shove you in the car if you were going to be stubborn about it, so you might as well come willingly,” Dean said with a grin, aiming for humor, hoping it would win Cas over. He wasn’t lying though, she really did say she’d kidnap him if she had to. She understood what stubborn boys could be like.
Castiel huffed and crossed his arms defensively. “Well I suppose when you put it that way…”
“Dude, you won’t regret it,” Dean said, picking up the mug Castiel had made for him. “Mom makes the best Christmas cookies. And just wait till you try her honey ham. Oh, and the pie. Her cherry pie is to die for.” Dean moaned pornographically around his mug of hot chocolate. It really was the best damn pie.
“I’m going to come back fat, aren’t I?”
“If you don’t, we failed you,” Dean told him solemnly. “Besides, we can pick up running together or something if you want. I should probably keep my body in shape if I want to keep my job. Might get better tips if I could tone up a bit.”
Dean had no idea when things had gotten to that point with Castiel, where he could just assume that if they could, they would do it -whatever it was- together. Castiel had only been in his life for a few months, but sometimes it felt like he’d been a part of Dean’s life for a lot longer. The best part about it was that Castiel didn’t even question it. Instead, he warned Dean that he was a pretty good runner and he wasn’t going to slow down for his fat ass if he couldn’t keep up.
They bantered for the rest of the night, even after they crawled into bed, and didn’t fall asleep until the sun was coming up and Castiel’s alarm went off 20 minutes later for his 8:00 a.m. class.
Friday – December 11th 2009
Castiel stood by the circular drop off zone for their dorm, fidgeting inside his winter coat and trying to hide his nervousness from Dean. He had a moment to himself to breathe deep and try to calm his nerves while Dean fiddled with his phone. He really, really wanted Dean’s family to like him. They were doing him an incredible, selfless favor by letting him into their home for a few weeks, and it was important to him that they not regret it. That they not chide Dean for bringing his weird roommate home. He knew he was being silly, that he had no reason to worry they wouldn’t like him, or that it even mattered that much if they did, but anxiety defied logic.
“Hey,” Dean said suddenly, placing a calming palm over his wringing hands. “There’s no need for that. My mom is incapable of not loving everyone she meets and Sam will just be glad to have someone as smart as he is in the house.”
“You’re smart too, Dean,” Castiel said with a frown. “What about your father?”
“Cas, trust me, it is impossible for any human on earth to meet you and not like you.”
Castiel snorted. “Tell that to my high school class.”
Dean was opening his mouth to reply when a black, vintage Impala pulled up in front of them. Dean let his palm drop from Castiel’s twitching hands and went to grab his suitcase. The trunk popped up and a tall, dark haired man with some serious scruff stepped out of the car.
“Hey Dad,” Dean said, hefting his suitcase into the trunk.
“Dean,” John said by way of greeting, his voice a little weary. “This Castiel?” He asked, looking Cas up and down.
“Yes Sir, Mr. Winchester,” Castiel said, sticking out his hand. Dean gave them both a nervous look while he snuck in to pick up Castiel’s suitcase and place it by his own in the trunk. “Castiel Novak.”
For a moment, Castiel was afraid John would refuse his hand, or worse, squeeze it in one of those silly manly competitions of who can ruin whose bones first. Fortunately, John did neither. He gave Castiel a proper handshake, and seemed impressed that Castiel’s grip wasn’t weak either.
“Call me John,” he said, his face breaking out into a soft smile.
“Cas,” Castiel supplied in kind, returning the smile. “I hear you’re responsible for the amount of AC/DC I have to put up with on a daily basis.”
John laughed, dropping his hand. “You better not be undoing all my hard work on raising my son good and proper,” he teased.
“Well, I did get him to eat broccoli at dinner yesterday,” Castiel said with a smirk.
“Hey!” Dean called from the other side of the car, opening the door. “Can we stop talking about me now? I’d like to get home and get a piece of Mom’s pie in Cas.” He suddenly blushed. “That came out wrong.”
Both John and Castiel laughed, and Castiel was no longer nervous about meeting Dean’s family.
Mary, as Dean had warned him, swooped Castiel into her arms and welcomed him into her home like she’d known him his whole life. Sam was much more adorable than Dean had let on. He greeted Castiel with a smile and a handshake, asked him what he was studying in school, and then proceeded to ask a million questions about what pre-med was like and if he thought it was harder than pre-law.
Dean interrupted them, steering Castiel into the kitchen and urging him to sit down at a well-used eat-in kitchen table. He shuffled around the kitchen while Castiel sat amused in his chair, looking around the room. It was warm, and much like the family room he had first entered, obviously a room in a house full of love and family and memories. There were a lot of repairs that could have been done, missing knobs and scratches in the varnish on the cabinets, the fridge looked like it’d seen better days, and the floor was dated, but Castiel thought it was the best kitchen he’d ever seen.
Dean plopped down a plate in front of him before sitting down opposite him. Castiel looked down at a beautiful piece of cherry pie and just started laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Mary asked walking into the kitchen.
“Apparently your cherry pie tells hilarious jokes,” Dean answered. He looked more than a little put out.
“It’s 4:00 in the afternoon, there is clearly some kind of dinner in the oven, I have barely been inside your house for ten minutes, and you’re putting pie in front of me,” Castiel explained. “You must really love this pie.”
Mary snorted as she shuffled along by the oven, but didn’t comment.
Dean looked around the room like its occupants were conspiring against him. “Just try it.”
Castiel shook his head, but picked up the provided fork anyway. He stabbed at the pie, scooping the tip onto the fork, and bringing it to his mouth.
He moaned like a whore, and he was not ashamed to admit it.
“Told ya,” Dean said with a smirk, picking up his own fork to dig into his slice.
“Shut up, I’m eating ambrosia pie,” Castiel mumbled around a mouthful of cherry red pie.
Dean was too busy guzzling his own piece down to comment.
It appeared Dean has his priorities straight. Delicious food first, details later. So it was only after they had eaten pie that Dean gave him the tour of the house. Dean had a very sweet setup, with his bedroom in the basement. It was a big bedroom, Dean had his own queen sized bed, and access to a full bath that wasn’t technically his private one, but Castiel doubted anyone but Dean ever used it. The arrangement provided the privacy all teenage boys desired.
The rest of the basement was finished with carpet and soft lighting and looked like a great spot to hang out. There was a sofa and recliner facing an older, but still nice TV, and a PlayStation 2 with a few video games. Dean informed him that the sofa was actually a sleeper sofa, and that’s where he would be sleeping. They dropped their bags off, and Dean took him back upstairs, showed him the back room that he hadn’t seen yet, before taking him upstairs to show him the two bedrooms and a bedroom turned office.
“That’s pretty much it,” Dean said, gesturing around the office. “Not much, but it’s home.” He looked a little concerned, maybe even embarrassed.
“I think it’s brilliant, Dean,” Cas responded, his eyes wandering around the office, taking in the pictures on the walls. “Why do you say it’s ‘not much’?”
Dean shrugged. “I know your family was loaded Cas, that Gabriel still is. You have to be used to fancier digs than this.”
Cas looked over to Dean. The last thing he ever wanted was for his friend to feel inferior because of money. He didn’t give two shits about how much money he had, but he knew that was privileged thinking he could afford. Sometimes he truly wished his bank account had a few less zeros. “It’s a beautiful home Dean,” he said as sincerely as he could. “Warm and inviting. It’s nice to be able to walk about without worry that I’m going to break something if I sneeze wrong.”
Dean nodded a few times, but still seemed insecure.
“Hey, want to play some Battlefronts downstairs? We don’t have Halo here, but kicking Sam’s ass at Star Wars is nearly just as fun,” Dean said, already making his way out of the room. Castiel had the distinct impression he was avoiding something. He had a feeling he’d find out what eventually.
He didn’t have to wait very long. They were sitting down to eat dinner in the Winchester’s dining room, a nice, cozy room with a cherry wood table and pale yellow walls, when John walked in and paused, surveying the food. Mary had made prime rib with mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, and rolls on the side. John gave Mary a sharp look.
“Hush,” Mary said quickly. “We have a guest. We can afford it for one night.”
John clearly wanted to argue with Mary, but he glanced over to Cas before nodding and taking his seat.
“I might have found a job anyway,” John mumbled, sitting down. “Bobby Singer said he could use a hand at his salvage yard.”
Mary paused, her hand hovering over the spoon to the mashed potatoes. Dean and Sam exchanged a look. Castiel observed all of this, a feeling of unease creeping up. The pause in movement and conversation was heavy. Eventually Dean coughed pointedly, and said, “So how much pie is left for dessert?” Everyone laughed, the tension successfully broken. Mary and John began chatting about something else, while Castiel looked at Dean questioningly, but Dean just shook his head. “Make sure you get some green beans before Sam eats them all,” he said quietly.
Castiel was downstairs, flipping through the channels on the TV with his head on his left hand, propped up on the arm of the couch, when Dean found him. Cas had been ordered out of the kitchen and told that if he dared try to help clean up, they would whack him with a spoon. Then, just prove they were not above utensil related violence, they whacked Dean on the head for trying to escape with Cas.
Dean plopped down next to him on the couch without a word, throwing his head back and spreading his legs slightly in a relaxing pose. He looked ready to fall asleep.
“I talked to your Dad,” Cas said out of nowhere.
“Oh yeah?” Dean asked, sitting up.
“I tried to offer him some money in thanks for letting me stay here.”
Dean stared at him in disbelief, blinking hard a few times, as if to make sure he was actually awake. “Cas, I am impressed. He must like you a lot. You still have your limbs.”
Castiel chuckled. “I figured out it was a mistake when he turned red and started speaking in something that sounded more like German than English. I don’t think it was actually a real language anywhere in the global world. I told him to forget I mentioned it.” Castiel scratched the back of his head. “I would have apologized, but I thought that would only make it worse.”
“Dad’s a very proud man,” Dean said in agreement.
Castiel put the remote down and paused. But he had already decided, so he turned towards Dean and asked bluntly, “When did your dad lose his job?” Then added on, “Is this why you strip?”
Castiel knew he was prying, but he also knew Dean wouldn’t talk about it if he didn’t want to. They had that rapport. He could blow it off, give him a sharp look and change the topic, anything, and Castiel would understand. Dean could be stubborn, but Castiel sensed Dean needed to talk about this. He was, perhaps, the only one in Dean’s life that Dean could confide in when it came to stripping. He was the only one who knew.
As Dean began to talk, Cas knew he had been right. Dean told him all about his Dad being fired from the car dealership he worked for, suddenly and without reason by Mr. Crowley, who had just bought the place. They found out a few months before Dean left for school, but they insisted he go anyway, that they would find a way to help him, even if the best they could do was help him find loans. They had threatened to never bake another pie again if he dared think about not going to school and going straight to work instead.
“We’re doing okay,” Dean said softly to his collapsed hand, resting gently in his lap. “But we still need all the help we can get. And Sammy… He’s smart, ya know? Dreaming big about school, far bigger than my meager major in criminal justice. I can’t risk him not being able to get into the program he wants because of money. Scholarships aren’t a guarantee.”
Castiel set silent for a moment while Dean fidgeted nervously. He was worried about Castiel judging him, but judging Dean was the last thought in Castiel’s mind.
“You put too much pressure on yourself,” Castiel finally said carefully. “And your family wouldn’t want this for you, you have to know that.”
“Of course I know that. But my going to school takes money out of my family’s hands, money that could be going to Sam’s college fund. I have to help, Cas, I have to send them every dime I can, while they still think it’s coming from a convenience store gig,” Dean said with a bit more conviction. He finally lifted his head and met Castiel’s eyes, pleading with him to understand.
Castiel understood everything of course, far more than Dean probably would have preferred. Because he not only understood how important family was and how loyal and giving Dean was, he also understood how stubborn Dean could be. He understood Dean far better than he would have thought possible after only a few months together, but he was still learning a lot too. The depths to which Dean was willing to go to help his family were astonishing.
Castiel searched Dean’s eyes for a long, loaded moment. He was pretty certain this wasn’t normal friend behavior, even in the middle of a deep discussion, but he could never seem to bring himself to break eye contact.
“You’re a good man,” Castiel finally said, breaking the silence. Dean blushed at the unexpected compliment and looked away. He was saved from having to reply by Sam bouncing down the stairs, breaking the tension in the air.
“Man,” Sam said, collapsing into a recliner. “I can’t believe Dad brought up working for Bobby.”
“I don’t get it, why’s that a problem?” Castiel asked, sitting up and reaching for his glass of water.
“Because,” Dean explained. “Bobby barely makes enough money to feed himself. He barely gets by. He’d be paying Dad pennies, and still sacrificing for himself.”
“Why would he do that?”
Dean’s lips twitched up fondly. “Dad’s family,” he explained.
“Not blood family,” Sam said from his chair. “But family doesn’t end with blood to a Winchester.”
Dean snorted. “Or a Singer.”
Sam nodded wisely.
Castiel learned a lot about the Winchesters that first night at their house. As they broke out Battlefronts again, he watched Sam and Dean a little closer than he had before. His brother Gabriel had been a good brother to him and he loved him very much, but there was something special about Sam and Dean. Though they punched each other often and mocking and taunts were a common thing when playing a game with them, it was underlined with the kind of love that was selfless and unconditional.
The whole house oozed with the warmth of years of familial bonds.
Their days, for once, were spent simply relaxing and hanging out together. Sam, being in high school, wouldn’t be on break until a few days before Christmas, Mary was often at her own job at the bookstore, and John was either working on things around the house, or out trying to find a full-time job. So Dean and Cas were left to their own devices during the days and spent far too much time shooting each other up on the PS2.
Castiel still felt horrible, having so much money and leaching off of the Winchesters all break when they were strapped. So he kept an eye on how he could help without bruising their egos. When John mentioned at dinner that they would have to get the old, crappy fake Christmas tree down from storage because they couldn’t afford a real tree this year, Castiel thought he saw an opening.
“Let me buy the Christmas tree,” Cas told Dean when they were downstairs, alone.
Dean snorted. “It’s not my call, and Dad would never let you do that.”
“We’ll go tomorrow and buy the tree while your Dad thinks you’re just showing me around town,” Castiel explained. An easy enough lie, as Castiel was from a completely different direction to KSU. They grew up at least two hours apart. “We’ll tell him it was free. I don’t know, I saved the owner’s dog or something.”
Dean stared at Castiel evenly for a moment, realizing he was dead serious. “This is important to you.”
“Yes. I think buying your family a real, live, pokey needled Christmas tree is the least I can do.”
Dean still didn’t agree right away. Castiel had a feeling he didn’t like the idea of taking “charity” from Castiel either, but that’s far from what this was about. Not for him.
“I’ll pay for half,” Dean finally said, completely unsurprisingly.
“No,” Castiel replied unyieldingly. Their eyes locked. It was, as Castiel had come to think of it, a stubborn-off. For them, it could go on indefinitely. “Dean, please,” Castiel finally pleaded. “Let me do this.”
Dean continued to stubborn-off him for a minute, but Castiel’s eyes had already softened, and that softness wormed its way inside Dean. He deflated completely. “Fine,” he said like he was agreeing to being waterboarded.
Castiel’s grin was big and wide. This was something he could do for them, something to make their Christmas a bit more cheery. If they never knew it was actually from him, he was perfectly okay with that too. It wasn’t about him getting recognition, it was about them getting something nice. Something they all deserved.
So Castiel bought them a very nice tree and Cas and Dean explained their cover story to Mary when her shocked but wary eyes watched Dean carry it inside. She seemed doubtful but happy, and nodded her approval, even as she continued to look at Castiel like he was something new and different.
Dean and Cas were helping Mary string lights on the tree when John walked through the door half an hour later and spotted the tree. Mary cut him off before he even had a chance to get angry or worry about his pride or his authority being so blatantly ignored.
“It was free,” she said. “The owner of the arbor, his dog had broken free and Dean and Castiel chased it down, stopping him from running right across the highway. He offered them the tree in thanks.”
Mary stared at John, and John stared back. Something funny settled in Castiel, as he considered that this looked very much like the stubborn-offs him and Dean shared regularly. The funny feeling in his stomach deepened as John looked straight at him with a curious expression before saying, “It’s a nice tree he offered you.”
They finished getting the lights on the tree, and waited for Sam to get home before they put the rest of the decorations on. The “gigantic moose” (Dean’s terms) got the honor of putting the angel on top of the tree. It was an odd little tree topper, a dark haired angel with blue eyes that was curiously wearing a trench coat, and Dean teased that it looked like Cas. Castiel couldn’t even argue against that. He wasn’t insulted. The trench coat on the ornament angel was a nice one, after all.
Dean and Castiel started a chess game after dinner, Castiel barely beating Dean 30 turns later. Mary brought them some hot cocoa, so they shifted over to the fluffy couch by the fire. They sipped their mugs, exchanging stories from their hometowns and high school life while Sam practiced his piano skills behind them, playing classics with ease.
Castiel was shaken awake by Mary hours later. He and Dean had both fallen asleep after putting their empty mugs on the floor, and had somehow managed to both be sleeping on the other, leaning easily into each other’s warmth. Mary smiled fondly at them while she shuffled them downstairs to their beds, which they collapsed on, fully clothed.
It had been a good day.
They dragged Castiel to midnight mass. He didn’t want to seem rude or ungrateful, and it hurt nothing to go along, so he did. But Castiel and faith had not been on the same grounding for a long time. He had been raised in a very devout family, but after losing so much of his family, he no longer cared to be inside a church. It wasn’t that he had lost his faith exactly or that he was bitter with God. The church had simply been such a corner stone of his family, it was now a sore spot to be in a place of worship. He wasn’t sure where he stood with his beliefs these days, but he was at peace with them. Whatever they were, they were private, and he was uncomfortable amongst the swaying masses at their Catholic church.
Dean must have picked up something in his mood, because he leaned in at one point during a hymn and said, “This isn’t really my cup of tea either.” Castiel gave him a grateful smile.
“It’s complicated,” Castiel said back.
Dean nodded. He didn’t pry for more information, for which Castiel was grateful.
On Christmas morning, Dean woke Cas up at 6:00 a.m. by jumping on the rickety couch mattress and tickling him. Castiel was glad they were two floors from the rest of the family, because he didn’t think he’d ever screamed as loud as he did at that moment. He would have been embarrassed, if not for the fact that he left a baseball sized bruise on Dean’s ribs for his trouble.
They bounded upstairs, where Sam was already rustling around under the tree. Dean immediately joined him, while Cas took a seat in the arm chair off to the side. He smiled while he watched them dig around, careful not to open anything just yet, but as excited as 8 year olds none-the-less.
Mary and John weren’t too far behind their sons. They both required a cup of coffee before they would let anyone dig in, much to their dismay. After they settled down on the couch, they gave the signal, and Dean and Sam tore into the gifts.
There weren’t many presents, and none of them were luxurious, but it was clear how much effort John and Mary had gone to making sure their sons had presents that would make them happy. Dean got a few used games for his PlayStation, some new jeans and a nice green polo that Castiel knew would bring out his eyes. As far as Castiel could tell amongst the chaos of paper and ribbon, Sam had received some games as well, and stuff for school. He seemed quite fond of the organizer he opened towards the end.
“Hey,” Dean said softly, standing at his feet. “You got some stuff.”
“What?” Castiel asked, completely confused.
“This is from mom and dad, and this one’s from Sammy, I think,” Dean explained, handing him two packages.
“Dean,” he said, taking the packages from him, “I’ve only known your family for a few weeks.”
“Yeah, well, I think they like you,” Dean said with a lopsided smile.
“And don’t think I don’t know where that tree really came from,” John called out.
Castiel blushed profusely, over-whelmed. He looked up to John and Mary, said, “Thank you,” as sincerely as he could. They nodded back at him, affection on both of their faces.
It felt like a branch was growing, forever connecting Castiel to Dean and his family. Though logically he knew he may never see them again. There was every possibility he and Dean would part at the end of the school year, promising to keep in touch, and inevitably failing and drifting apart. The thought made his stomach twist.
He distracted himself by getting up and giving his presents to Sam, Mary and John. They were modest of course, but they seemed equally as touched that he had thought of them, as he had been the other way around. The thought, as they say, really does count far more than the gift itself.
The rest of the morning was spent trying out the new games Sam and Dean had gotten, and lunch was a brunch casserole Mary had made the night before. It was an easy, peaceful day. Gabriel called in the afternoon and they talked for a while. Gabriel promised he had a present coming, but Castiel was certain his gift would be another visit with more trips to strip clubs and getting him smashed. He was okay with that, mostly because he’d never expected anything different from his brother.
Bobby Singer joined them for dinner, a ham with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and about six types of pie. In the short time he was with them that evening, Castiel concluded he was a man who looked rough around the edges, but was filled with nothing but sweets and love on the inside. It was obvious Bobby was indeed as much a member of the family as Dean and Sam had let on.
Sometime after dinner, they cajoled Sam into playing some Christmas carols around the piano. Castiel had no idea families actually did such corny things. Even he thought they were corny, and he liked musical theatre, which put out some of the corniest songs ever made. They had fun with the carols, acting out lines, changing notes and words. It was reverent of the holiday, but far from boring or stuffy. It was a family tradition that was obviously well cherished and Castiel had not experienced such a thing ever before.
Mary and John went to bed after a few carols, and Dean and Sam switched over to singing all of the lyrics with as much crudeness as they could muster. In fact, Castiel was pretty sure it was a competition, coming up with the worst. So when Castiel requested Sam play Hark the Herald Angel and turned the lyrics into a song about strippers with a penchant for rimming and anal play, he sent Sam and Dean into rolls of laughter and was crowned the King of Dirty Carols. Dean’s faint blush was endearing.
“Dude, I didn’t know you could sing,” Dean commented seriously when he’d stopped laughing and some redness had faded from his cheeks.
Castiel shrugged. “Mom took us to the theatre when we were little, and I loved it. Taught myself the piano, and she hired a vocal coach for me for a few years. It’s just a hobby though.”
“No shit,” Dean exclaimed. “What else can you sing? Sammy, where’s that Broadway music book?”
“Really?” Castiel asked as the book was handed to him.
“Pick something,” Dean urged.
He flipped through until he spotted a song he knew he could sing, and sing well. It was “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera.
“You’ll have to be my Christine. I can’t sing this without singing it to someone,” Castiel said with a sly smile.
Dean shrugged. “Okay.”
Castiel wasn’t sure Dean knew what he was agreeing to, but as the notes started and Castiel began to sing, Dean went easily along with it. Castiel serenaded him. He put everything into the song. Of course, it was a little over the top and he was only goofing around, but as he spun around the room, pulling out the hard notes of “close your eyes, let the music set you free” and occasionally spinning in to capture Dean’s hands and stare longingly into his eyes, he felt completely in his element.
The music stopped with him holding Dean’s hands, standing closer than normal personal space would dictate, and he was breathing hard. Curiously, Dean looked a little flushed himself. There was an awkward moment before Dean dropped his hands and took a step back.
“That was amazing Cas. You should try out for the musical theatre department.”
Castiel shook his head. “I’m terrified of being on stage, Dean. There’s a reason I never pursued this.”
“You would be amazing though,” Sam agreed, sliding out from behind the piano. He yawned. “Mario Kart tomorrow?”
“Absolutely,” Dean agreed, ruffling his hair as he passed, heading upstairs to his bedroom. Dean inclined his head towards the door to the basement, and Castiel nodded his agreement.
He went to pull out the couch, but Dean stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “I got you something,” Dean said softly. “Wait here a second, okay?” As Dean disappeared into his bedroom, Cas turned to his suitcase and dug through to the bottom, where he retrieved his own package for Dean.
“I got you something too,” Castiel said when Dean reappeared. He gave Castiel a wary look, and exchanged packages slowly.
Dean bounced it in his hand a few times, feeling the weight. It was a fairly heavy gift. “On three?” he proposed. Castiel agreed. “One, two, three.”
Dean’s gift to him was a beautiful fountain pen. The pen had been embossed with his name. It was far too nice for someone who was saving every dime for his family. He was going to protest, but then Dean made a choked off sound and Castiel looked up to see him holding the Xbox like it was going to bite him.
“It’s too much, Cas,” Dean said quietly.
“No, it’s not,” Castiel said stubbornly. “I got it used, okay? Besides, everything your family has done for me this break, I really can’t thank you enough.” Dean didn’t look convinced though. “Look at it this way. It was purely a selfish gift. I’ll be using that thing as stress relief when I kick your ass in Halo day after day.”
Dean let out a burst of laughter, and Castiel knew he had said the right thing.
“Yeah, well, we’ll see who does the ass kicking.”
Castiel quirked an eyebrow. So far, with Battlefronts, it was obvious who the ass kicker was. But it was still technically Christmas, so he let it go.
“Thank you for the pen. It’s beautiful.”
It was, Castiel decided, the best Christmas he’d ever had.
Tuesday, March 23rd 2010
“Mmm, how about those girls Cas? They’re hot. Maybe a double date?”
They were eating lunch in the Student Center, where the food court offered a couple of different fast food choices. The seating was scattered through two stories, and an eclectic mix of music played throughout, courtesy of the campus radio station.
Castiel turned to look at the two girls, but turned back to Dean with a disinterested look on his face. “If you want to go ask one of them out, go for it.”
“Dude, seriously? Not even them?” Dean asked, surprised. They were extremely hot, by anyone’s standards. Then something clicked. “Sorry, I completely forgot. Demisexual, right?”
Castiel’s lips quirked. “I’m surprised you remember the term. But that has nothing to do with it, really. Romantic attraction is different from sexual.” Castiel said, biting a fry. He looked at Dean, who must have looked a little lost, because Castiel clarified, “I’m just not interested in casual dating. I’d rather be with you. Or Victor or Jo, or Chuck and Becky.”
Dean shrugged. “Dating is complicated anyway.”
“Is that why you haven’t been doing it much?”
Dean sat back, surprised at the question. He hadn’t realized he hadn’t been dating much. He’d had a few dates, but they were nothing to write home about. “I guess I’m just distracted right now. Trying to keep my head above water grade wise-“
“Dean you have a 3.4.”
“- and I’ve been busy working.”
Which was the truth. If he wasn’t busy stripping at the club, he was trying to get his homework done. It didn’t leave much time for a social life. He spent his free time kicking Cas’s ass in Halo. At least, he liked to pretend he could kick Castiel’s ass in halo, but the truth was, Cas was far too good with a controller. He could, however, kick Victor’s ass, which was something of a consolation.
Castiel nodded. “I don’t know how you work so much and keep up your grades. I feel like I barely have time myself, and I don’t have a job.”
“You are pre-med, Cas,” Dean pointed out. “With a 4.0.”
Castiel made a face and looked down at his food, apparently thinking that wasn’t good enough. Castiel was what one might call a high achiever. Or overachiever, as Dean had decided when he spent 12 hours studying for a quiz in psychology 101. Dude was a nerd. A nerd that was way too good at violent first person shooters, but a nerd nonetheless. And if Dean thought it was adorable when the nerd fell asleep drooling on his textbook, well, no one needed to know.
The song on the radio changed over from a pop song to something a bit more rock and roll. It was “One” from Symphony and Metallica. Dean had always loved the unique blend of metal rock with the strings of a symphony. He had just closed his eyes to nod along to the music when Castiel spoke up.
“This song is amazing,” he said. “Do you know what it is?”
Dean’s eyes snapped open and his mouth might have been hanging a bit. “You like this?” Castiel nodded. “But you’re not a huge rock fan.”
“It’s not that I don’t like it, I just have never heard anything that sounded as captivating as this,” Castiel said with a shrug.
Just as Dean was going to explain S&M to his friend, the song ended and the DJ explained it for him. The DJ went on to announce that a local cover band, The Confused Violets, would be joining KSU’s symphony orchestra for a one-time performance, covering songs from S&M with some new rock and symphony mashups composed by a grad student as part of their thesis project.
Castiel’s eyes were shining when he said, “We should go to that.”
Dean could have kissed him.
“I don’t understand why I have to wear a tie. We’re not wearing suits. This is a rock concert, Dean,” Castiel bemoaned, holding the limp thing in his hand.
“Because you look good in it, and we are going to look hot tonight,” Dean explained yet again as he finished tying his boots. “Not all ties are for business suits.”
Castiel sighed as he wrapped the tie around his neck. “I don’t understand why it’s important that we look good.”
Dean wasn’t really sure why either, other than the fact that they rarely got to go out and do something, and Dean hadn’t put on an “I’m here to pick up a banging hottie” outfit in months. He wanted his friend to look as hot as he did, and the vest over that long sleeved button down was topped off quite nicely with the tie Castiel was struggling to put on. The jeans kept it casual.
“Trust me, Cas,” Dean said.
“Fine,” Castiel responded, finishing the knot. “I’m ready, let’s go.”
Dean grabbed his wallet and keys, stopping at the mirror in the bathroom to check himself out. He loved when he could be sexy without being nearly naked. The black, silken button down top and the jeans his mom had got him at Christmas that fortunately for him, happen to hug his ass in all the right ways, were definitely working for him. The odds of picking someone up tonight were looking up.
“Whoa,” Dean said, coming out of the bathroom, spotting Cas. “You are not ready.”
Castiel frowned. “I’m not?”
Dean stepped into Castiel’s personal space and reached for the poorly knotted tie. He undid it easily, and retied it with a double Windsor. When he stepped back, Castiel was staring at him with amusement.
“I apologize for my crimes against the tie kind,” Castiel said, his eyes still lit with humor.
“Damn straight,” Dean responded, thumping him on the shoulder. “Now let’s go rock this thing.”
The concert was amazing. Sure, they had crappy seats and even though the arena was no smoking, smoke kept billowing in from somewhere. But they were having a blast anyway. Dean was screaming lyrics, Cas was screaming something, and it turned out the two of them made a pretty awesome air band. It was easily the most fun Dean had had in ages.
Dean did get hit on. He’d noticed a bunch of girls in his area, and a guy or two, checking him out. They also checked out Cas, though he remained oblivious to the attention. They were on the their way out when a hot girl in a skirt so short he wasn’t sure it didn’t violate some decency laws, put her hand on his arm and said, “Hey there handsome. Looking for something to do tonight?”
Dean blinked a few times, caught off guard. “Uh, yeah,” he said intelligently. “Yeah babe,” he added, recovering quickly. “Give me a second with my friend, I’ll be right with you.” She looked a little annoyed, so he added his patented Winchester wink and she backed away a few steps.
“It’s fine, Dean,” Castiel said before Dean could even finish turning to him. “I’ve seen people looking at you-“
“Us,” Dean corrected automatically.
“-all night. Go ‘hit that.’ I can get back on my own just fine.”
Castiel was so sincere, so selfless. He turned around and started heading back for the dorms on his own, hands in his pockets. Dean stared at Castiel’s retreating form, and looked back at the girl so willing to take him home, and came to a quick decision. The girl, though gorgeous, held no real interest for him. But he’d been having an amazing night with Castiel.
“Maybe next time!” Dean hollered at the girl before jogging to catch up to Castiel.
Castiel had been humming one of the songs from the evening, but stopped to smile at Dean when he caught up. “I thought she was just your thing,” he commented.
“Yeah, well. Maybe all your talk about not wanting casual hookups rubbed off on me,” Dean explained, bumping his elbow.
“Hmm,” Castiel said thoughtfully. “Now if only my ability to put my dirty socks in my laundry hamper could wear off on you.”
“Never,” Dean said with a laugh.
Thursday, April 22nd 2010
Hey Cas, do u know what the square root of 69 is?
… Do u live to ruin my jokes.
Class was about to start, which was Dean’s favorite time to text him. He hadn’t stopped sending Castiel bad jokes since he started all those months ago, and he often wonders where on Earth Dean gets them all. He thought they were done with this conversation when he felt his phone vibrate again.
We still running when u get out of class?
As promised, they had picked up running together after the Christmas break. If they had chickened out and decided to wait until the weather got warmer, no one needed to know.
That depends on how many more bad jokes you text me.
Fine, but ur missing out. The next one was going to be about midgets.
Castiel was going to respond with something about Dean’s dreams the night before and how he was mumbling about the clown midgets getting him, but he was interrupted when the teacher walked in to the room to start class. He put his phone on vibrate, slipped it back into his pocket, and sat through class with a smile.
They decided to run through campus instead of heading to a park. The campus featured stretching and strengthening posts that could be used individually, or as part of a running course, which they both appreciated and needed to make use of. Dean was concerned with getting flabby and losing his job, and Cas was worried about keeping his cardiovascular system healthy, what with all the cookies Dean’s mom liked to send them.
They were on a stretch that ran along a public road, lots of people walking to and from restaurants and shopping and campus, when someone let out a wolf call.
“I’m telling you Lilly, that’s him,” they heard a girl say to her friend. They were sitting in the grass about 20 feet away and had books out, apparently attempting to study. “That’s the hot stripper from the club.”
“Damn, look at that ass,” her friend said. “You weren’t kidding Meg.”
Castiel shot Dean a look, but Dean merely shrugged, rolled his eyes and kept going. Castiel was a little put off by hearing his friend being talked about with so much objectification, but he was willing to take Dean’s lead on how to handle it. At least until he heard the next words.
“I wonder how much it would cost to get him in bed.”
Castiel stopped abruptly.
“Let it go, Cas,” Dean urged him quietly.
Castiel shook his head sharply and stormed up through the grass to the girl’s feet. They stopped giggling.
“His name is Dean, you vultures, and he is not a hooker. He is a good man, not a toy for you to play with and buy,” Castiel steamed.
“Please Cas, let it go,” Dean said again, grabbing Castiel’s elbow and pulling. He didn’t budge.
The girl named Meg let her mouth twist into a sneer that held way too much smugness. “You know,” she said, “It’s a shame you obviously have his cock shoved up your ass on a daily basis, or I would buy you too.”
Castiel saw red. He didn’t realize that was an expression that was actually physically possible, but it is. That harpy would have needed surgery, and Castiel would have needed bail money, if Dean hadn’t wrapped his arms around Cas and pulled him away. Meg and Lilly laughed through the entire thing.
Castiel was still seeing red when Dean pushed him to sit on the steps up to a bar that hadn’t opened yet. He put his hand on Castiel’s shoulder while he panted and tried to clear his head. Dean didn’t say anything, and he didn’t need to. When Castiel’s head was a little clearer, he looked up to Dean and met his eyes. They conveyed everything that needed to be said, a whole conversation existing between them in moments. The gratitude, the sympathy, the concern, the loyalty was all written there.
“You want to head in, or should we keep running?” Dean asked when the moment had passed.
“Run,” Castiel said quickly, standing up. Running always helped clear his head.
Unfortunately, days later, their track record with running wouldn’t improve.
They were just getting started, still building up to a good pace when a little scrappy dog, a mutt that resembled a yorkie, darted out of nowhere and straight for Dean’s ankles. In the feverish instant that Dean tried to avoid stepping on the animal, he succeeded in tripping over it entirely and landed hard on the ground.
“Dean!” Castiel cried, kneeling down next to him. The yorkie stayed, sniffing at Dean. Castiel ignored it for the moment, more worried about his friend. “Are you okay?”
Dean sat up with the groan. There were scrapes along his arms and his chin was bleeding. “I don’t know man, my ankle hurts like hell, but I can’t tell if it’s broken. You’re pre-med, you tell me.” Castiel nodded, moving down Dean’s body to his ankle. The right one was swelling. As he probed gently, Dean picked the dog up. “You rotten homeless mutt,” Dean muttered, though he didn’t sound as angry as his words implied. Castiel glanced up to see him nearly smiling at the tiny thing.
“I don’t think it’s broken, but we should get you to University Hospital anyway and have a scan done,” Castiel said, standing up. Dean seemed a little distracted, rubbing the dog’s ears. “There’s an animal clinic near there, maybe we could drop ‘Trippy’ off there.”
Dean nodded his agreement. “Most accurate impromptu name for a dog ever,” he mumbled. He set Trippy down and tried to stand, but a painful shriek came out instead.
“Let me help,” Castiel said, bending over to help Dean up.
It was tough going. Dean’s ankle was really bothering him, continuing to swell. He had to lean on Cas pretty hard, his arm around his friend’s shoulders for support. He had Trippy tucked under his other arm, which didn’t help their mobility.
They did make it eventually, and the animal clinic was fortunately on the way to the hospital. They dropped Trippy off, and headed straight to the ER. Dean was taken back for X-rays while Castiel was peppered with questions, some of them rather more prying than he would like.
Dean didn’t appear until quite a while later, well after the sun had set. He wobbled out with the help of a nurse, clutching a bottle of prescription meds.
“It’s just a sprain,” Dean explained. “But it’s a bad one. I nearly snapped something I guess, I don’t know. They told me to stay off of it for a few days and gave me happy pain pills.”
Dean snorted. “Those things are expensive. You can be my crutch till we get back to our room,” Dean said, gesturing for Cas to come to him.
They made their way back to the room at a slightly faster pace than they had made it to the ER. During the trip, Castiel discovered that Dean had already been given a few pain pills, and was slowly descending into the loopy, feel-good drug trip only the really good stuff can cause.
“Get in bed,” Castiel said when they made it to their room. “I’ll call the club and let them know you won’t be coming in tonight.”
“I stink,” Dean whined. “I’m all smelly Cas. I need a shower. Or a sponge bath. Will you give me a sponge bath, Cas?”
“No,” Castiel said with a snort. “But I will help you out of your running clothes and into some pajamas.”
“Stop trying those Winchester charms on me you drug addled loon,” Castiel told him with nothing but fondness. “Now sit up.”
It was also not the easiest job of the night, getting a half-baked man with a bad ankle out of his dirty running clothes and into some clean ones, but they managed. Castiel called the club before changing himself. He looked at Dean, who was staring at his hands like they held the mysteries of human existence in them, when Dean’s phone went off from across the room, on the desk.
“It’s your mom,” Castiel said, looking down at the screen. “Mrs. Winchester,” he answered.
“I love you mommy!” Dean called from the bed, drawing out the last syllable way too long.
Per policy, the hospital had called Dean’s parents for him, and Mary was panicking. Castiel calmed her down, promising that Dean was okay, and that he’s a little high on drugs right now, but he’d have Dean call her as soon as he was feeling a bit better.
Mary said, “I know he’s in good hands with you, sweetheart,” just before hanging up. Castiel tried not to dwell too much on that.
Castiel turned off the lights and was about to crawl up the ladder to his bunk when a hand wrapped around his leg.
“Stay with me,” Dean said, sounding almost normal again. Castiel blinked several times. “Please?” Dean said softly.
It sounds so sincere, that all Castiel could do was comply. Dean scooted back so Castiel could climb in. Somehow, sharing a bed didn’t seem so weird any more.
“Hey Cas,” Dean said, just before nodding off, “room again with me next year?”
Castiel smiled, but hesitated. “I hope that isn’t just the drugs talking.”
“Course not,” Dean mumbled. “You’re the best, Cas.”
“Can’t argue against that,” Castiel replied.
“Is that a yes?” Dean mumbles again, flopping out a hand to smack Castiel lightly in the side.
“It’s a yes.”
Dean sighed peacefully, and two seconds later, was snoring.