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Warning Siren

Chapter Text

Dean’s phone buzzed, but instead of the expected text message, or email notification, he was greeted with a weather alert.

“Tornado warning in effect until midnight.” He announced, although his brother was the only other person in the apartment, and his phone had buzzed at nearly the same time.

“Yeah, I’ll pull my bike in. Did you ever buy that cover for the car? There’s a pretty good chance of hail.” Sam was reclining on the couch, his laptop across his legs.

Dean cursed. He hadn’t ever gotten around to actually ordering that thing, which meant he would likely have to go bribe the shop down the street to let him park in the garage. He couldn’t in good conscious allow the weather to get the best of his baby, and it wasn’t like their cheap ass apartments were offering any kind of covered parking.

“I’ll be back.” He told his brother, grabbing his keys and heading out the door. Sam just snickered at his misfortune.

It was only a fifteen minute walk back to the apartment after securing the protection his car needed, but the sky was already darkening. The sun was almost fully below the horizon, and the swiftly moving grey clouds overhead were helping to snuff out the light even faster. Even as he stepped onto their lot the first drops of rain started to fall. By the time he reached the door, the wind was whipping through the spaces between the buildings.

Sam’s bike was no longer on the patio, so Dean assumed he’d been gone long enough for his brother to finally finish up his homework and find protection for his own transportation. He couldn’t help his own snicker at the idea of how ridiculous his huge brother looked when riding the thing.

“I’m back!” He announced as he opened the door, slamming it shut behind him to complete his dramatic entrance.

Sam just glared at him over the top of his ever present laptop. “Dude. The whole place is like seven hundred square feet. I do not need you to announce your presence.”

“Maybe not, but I just braved the weather. I thought you should know I hadn’t been carried away by any tornados.” Dean plopped down into his favorite seat, grinning at his brother.

“It’s not my fault you are obsessed with your car. I was just kind enough to remind you to take care of it.”

“And for that, you shall be rewarded! How does pie sound? I haven’t baked a pie in like a week!” Dean was actually fairly excited about the prospect, but the look Sam threw at him said that he should stay seated.

“First of all, pie is your thing. You know I don’t care either way. Second of all, if the power goes out before your pie is done baking it’ll be ruined. And I don’t really feel like listening to you bitch about that for the rest of the night.”

The eldest Winchester sent his brother a nasty look that may have come off as more of a pout. His brother was right though, so Dean reached for the remote instead.



It was nearly an hour later before the weather started to get bad. The wind speed had increased enough that the windows were making a whistling sound. The air was forcing it’s way in through the cheap seals the apartments probably hadn’t updated since the building had been built. The rain was pouring from the sky, slapping against the building, forced into violence by the wind.

Dean was distracted enough by the sound to mute the tv, before leaping up and peering out the window at the storm.

“It’s getting pretty bad out there. I’m glad I paid that skeeze to let me park Baby at the garage.”

Sam spared a glance at the comment. “How much did he charge you?”

“Thirty freaking dollars! And they weren’t even using the bay! He was just being a dick. Worth it though. It looks nasty out there.”

Even as he said it a siren sounded in the distance, and both of their phones buzzed again.

“Well I guess you weren’t joking.” Sam commented. He reached his long arm over the arm of the couch, unplugging his laptop from the wall.

Dean sighed as he went to unplug the tv and surround sound from the wall as well. It was fairly uncommon for a power surge to actually affect your electronics these days, but it had been trained into them since they were boys. Just as he was straightening back up that something truly surprising happened..

There was a knock at the door.

Dean shared an incredulous look with his brother. There was no way someone was outside in this weather, and everyone they knew was still in Kansas, anyway.

The knock sounded again, seeming more desperate this time.

Both brothers started for the door, neither quite knowing how to react to the odd situation. Dean threw the door open as he reached it.

The sight they were greeted with was even more surprising than the knock had been. There were two familiar looking men standing outside their door, soaking wet and clearly being shoved around by the high winds. Dean gestured them inside, even as his face turned suspicious.

Once the door was closed, so he could be heard over the weather, Sam addressed their guests. “Did you guys get locked out?”

This was a perfectly reasonable question that helped Dean place where he’d seen these particular men before. They had recently moved into the apartment right above the Winchesters’.

“Well, no. Not exactly.” The shorter of the two looked a little uncomfortable as he answered. He seemed to be a little bit older than the rest of them, although he was certainly the shortest. He had dirty blonde hair that was longer than most men tended to wear it. It had nothing on Sam’s hair, though. “It was my brother’s idea to come down here.”

The other man was nearly the same height as Dean. He had dark messy hair and a strong jawline that had Dean doubting the statement that the two were related. The taller brother glared at the blonde for a moment before turning his gaze to the Winchesters. The blue of his eyes made the already attractive man look all the more beautiful.

“During a tornado, it is advised that you retreat to the lowest point. We live on the second floor.” Holy crap. The voice that accompanied that stern face was rather fitting, actually. Dean couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard such a deep commanding tone.

It took Dean a moment to realize the other set of brothers seemed to be waiting for a response to that comment.

“Seriously?” It was the only thing he could think to say. The night was definitely taking a turn for the strange.

“I told him that it was weird to go knocking on stranger’s doors because of a little storm…” The blonde brother paused in his mocking as a lightning strike caused the lights to flicker. “Or, not so little storm.”

The thunder that followed rocked the entire building. The windows rattled, as did the walls. The dark haired brother’s gaze shifted toward the windows, as he visibly flinched at the loud rumble that seemed to last too long.

“What is the central room in your apartment?” He asked, his gravelly voice adding gravity to the situation that Dean didn’t think was really warranted.

“Uh, my closet I think.” The eldest Winchester said, feeling completely thrown by the question.

“Can we continue this conversation in there?” Those blue eyes turned back to him, and they seemed to be pleading. The storm must have really been freaking the guy out.

“What?” It was really the only logical response to that question.

“Seriously, Cassie! You can’t just barge into people’s houses and ask to hang out in their closets!” The blonde brother seemed to be as weirded out by the conversation as Dean felt.

“The central room of the home is the safest place in the event of a tornado.” The dark haired one informed them. He sounded as if he’d spent some time researching. “I would feel much more comfortable if we were to move to the closet.”

Dean knew that he was just staring at the stranger at this point. The guy had to know how strangely he was acting. How could he not?

“Yeah, of course. Come on.” Sam said kindly. Dean turned his incredulous gaze on his brother’s back as he motioned for the stranger to accompany him toward Dean’s own bedroom. The dark haired brother followed immediately as the blonde one cringed and gave him a tortured look.

“I’m really sorry about this.” He said it with a disbelieving tone that made Dean accept the truth of the words. “He’s never acted this way before. The kid wasn’t even scared of  monsters when he was younger! He jumped off the high dive before I did at summer camp, and I’m four years older. I can’t even imagine what’s going through his head now.”

It was then that Dean realized that this truly was a big brother. He was weirded out, and didn’t know how to handle his brother right this minute, but he was doing what was necessary. Even if he was embarrassed about harassing some strangers to find a place for his brother to hide in. This was something Dean could relate to.

“I’m Dean.” He said, putting out a hand to shake, which was immediately gripped and pumped up and down a few times. The older brother smiled in relief.

“I’m Gabriel. That fucking weirdo in your closet is my little brother, Castiel.” He dropped Dean’s hand and shot a worried glance toward the hall as another lightning strike lit up the room.

“Fear makes people act strangely, sometimes.” Dean offered, trying to make the other man feel more at ease, as Dean wondered what his closet looked like. It wasn’t as if he’d been expecting guests in there.

Gabriel snorted. “Yeah the fear thing is weird, but the acting strange thing is not. Castiel is usually a little bit awkward anyway. Although, I can’t imagine him demanding to go to a stranger’s closet, normally. So, that’s new.”

Then the crash of thunder came, then. It felt as if the entire room shook, and as soon as it was quiet enough a voice called angrily from down the hall.

“Gabriel! Get in here!”

Dean shared an amused glance with Gabriel before leading him to the suddenly very overcrowded closet.



“This is so weird.” Gabriel commented, leaning back onto a pile of Dean’s dirty clothes while nursing the beer Sam had provided them, after retrieving some towels to try and dry off a bit. “I’m really sorry about this guys.”

“It’s alright.” Sam offered the other brothers a smile, although Castiel was in the corner closest to the center of the apartment glaring toward the door. “My first college girlfriend was terrified of tornados. She was much more obnoxious about the whole thing, though. I seriously thought about spiking her drinks with Xanax whenever a storm would hit.”

Well that explained why it had seemed so easy for Sam to get with the program and offer Castiel the closet he’d been seeking.

The dark haired man took his glare off the door long enough to send it toward his nearly untouched beer instead with suspicion.

Sam chuckled before reassuring him that he would never actually do that.  

“Besides, what are strangers for if not to burrow into their closets when the tornado sirens go off?” Dean grinned through his own sarcasm, still trying to find a comfortable way to sit. The closet clearly wasn’t made to fit four fully grown men, and even with Gabriel being quite a bit smaller than the rest of them, and Castiel clearly trying to make himself as small as possible in the corner, it was still a tight fit. Sam’s long limbs could barely stretch all the way across the space, his back pressed to one wall while his feet brushed the one parallel.

Sam sent him a glare before changing the subject. “So, where are you guys from?”

Gabriel seemed surprised by the question for a second before he appeared to realize that the Winchester brothers were uncommonly relaxed with the whole weather scenario.

“We’re from Cleveland. Not really natural disaster rich territory.” He shrugged a little, and spared a glance at his younger brother. He was clearly worried about the affect the weather was having on Castiel as the thunder clapped again.

Dean decided that what Castiel really needed was a distraction. “We’re from Kansas. Even deeper into tornado alley. Texas is almost a break from that.” He took a swig of his own beer, before reaching across the tiny space to poke the thigh of the dark haired man in the corner.

Castiel startled at the contact, but his attention was drawn, which had been Dean’s intention. He turned those haunting blue eyes on Dean. “What does tornado alley mean?”

Dean chuckled a little at that. “I guess it’s one of those things that doesn’t mean much when you learn about it in school unless you actually live it. It’s the valley between the American mountain ranges, well known for being tormented by tornados. I think Oklahoma and Kansas are the worst, but all the states in the valley get them pretty frequently.”

Castiel’s head dropped into his hands. “Oh god, Gabriel. We moved to hell.”



It was almost midnight, and they hadn’t heard much in the way of thunder for at least half an hour. Somehow, Dean had spent his entire Friday night in his closet with his strange new neighbors. They had finished off all of the beer in the house, and had moved on to the whiskey. Sam and Gabriel were in the kitchen, setting up the next round. Luckily, Dean didn’t have to work the next day.

“Tornado season ?! There is a whole season dedicated to this?” Castiel had certainly loosened up. It was hard to tell if it was from the booze, or from the fact that the storm had clearly moved on.

“You can probably expect about one of these a week for the next three months. Sorry to be the one to tell you.” Dean tried to sound sympathetic, but growing up with tornado warnings and sirens desensitized you to the whole thing. If Castiel hadn’t come in demanding to stay in their closet, chances were Dean and Sam would have still been in the living room finding some other way to entertain themselves.

Castiel looked away from the eye contact they’d been sharing recently. “Will you allow me to stay in your closet, when the storms come?” He seemed embarrassed to be asking, but it was one of those things that came along with irrational fears. The shame came afterwards, because the fear didn’t really allow for it at the time.

Dean grinned at him, hoping to squash the humiliation before it even started. “But of course! Mi armario es su armario!”

“Gracias.” The reply came with a shy smile that made Dean’s heartbeat flutter. Well, shit. That was not the proper response for a straight man to have when an attractive male smiled at him.

Chapter Text

Dean’s prediction was proven true only six days later. He’d told his upstairs neighbors, the Novaks, that they should expect at least one tornado warning a week during the season, and he’d been absolutely right. The bad news was that the storm would be on a Thursday night, so they wouldn’t be able to use alcohol as a calming agent.

Castiel, it turned out, was a student at the same college that Sam was attending. The Novaks had ended up in nearly the exact same situation that the Winchesters had. The younger brother attending school while the older brother did what he could to help. Gabriel hadn’t really discussed what he did, but he said his job kept him out at odd hours. He only worked as much as he did to make sure that his brother didn’t have to try to balance work and school at the same time. Dean could certainly relate to that.

The warning alert had buzzed Dean’s phone as he was leaving work, and somehow the idea of the Novaks spending the evening with them, hiding from tornadoes, was very appealing. He tried not to overanalyze what that meant.

As soon as he was home, Dean Winchester headed straight for the closet.

After the last adventure of trying to fit four grown men in there, he’d realized that it would have worked a lot better if the floor had at least been fully open.

The first order of business was to get rid of all his dirty clothes. His immediate thought had been to just remove them from the floor, maybe find a basket for them so they could be moved into his bedroom. But, he soon realized, actually washing and hanging the clothes would be a double win. Not only would his clothes all be clean, which nearly never happened, but hanging freshly cleaned laundry could only make his closet smell nicer. Not that he was trying to impress anyone with the cleanliness or smell of his closet. It just might be nice, if they all intended to spend hours in there.

So, Dean had gathered all of his laundry and headed for the laundry mat. He could have used the one in the complex, but he chose to drive down to the real laundromat. That way he could do all of his clothes at once. He wouldn’t want to get caught out unprepared when the storm arrived. The number one cause of death among tornado victims is being unprepared, after all. Or so Castiel had informed him.


By the time he made it home with his delightfully fresh smelling laundry, the sky was showing signs of the oncoming storm. He rushed his clothes into the house, just throwing them in his room for now, and pulling out his newly purchased car cover. He had even sprung for the hail protection one that was three times the price of any of the others.

He was in the process of trying to get the front end of the damn thing to stay put long enough for him to slip the back curl over his bumper when Gabriel pulled up in the spot next to him.

When he spotted the absolutely tiny Ford Fiesta, Dean couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. It was roughly half the size of his baby.

“Oh , so that thing is your monster?” Gabriel asked, as he pulled a satchel out of his car and locked up the doors. He came to stand on the sidewalk directly in front of Dean’s beautiful classic.

“She’s not a monster. You just have the tiniest car in the world.” Dean grinned and raised his eyebrows at the bright green miniature car-like thing Gabriel had stepped out of.

“That’s not true! It’s still bigger than a Smartcar.” The other man grinned back at him.

Dean just shook his head ruefully and tried to stretch the cover, again, pulling it right off of the front bumper, again . He huffed in frustration. “Do you think you can hold that front section on while I stretch this? It does not want to cooperate.”

Gabriel immediately reached forward to pull the front loop back around the bumper, holding it in place. As Dean tried to stretch it across the back, the issue became blindingly obvious.

“I don’t think it’s long enough, buck-o.” Gabriel said, grinning in a way that said his point about Dean’s car being a monster was being proved.

“Son of a bitch.” He had to concede the point. It was fairly clear the cover wasn’t going to work. “This is the longest one they had. These ridiculous new cars are so tiny. They probably don’t even make one to fit Baby.” He shook his head while he tried to come up with a new plan.

“Do you mind helping me out just a second longer? I think I have some bungees that we can use to make this work for now.”

“Yeah, just let me throw my bag in the house in case it starts raining.”


By the time Dean had finally figured out how to make the stupid cover work, the wind was shaking through the trees. He was just gathering the extra bungees and tarps when Sam made it home. It hadn’t started raining yet, but there were dark grey clouds on the horizon. With the way the wind was blowing here already, they were likely moving quickly.

In the time that had passed since the first storm that brought them all together, the Winchesters had gotten a few chances to get to know some things about their new neighbors. As it turned out, Gabriel hadn’t been lying about his brother at all. Every time they had seen Castiel since the tornado incident he had seemed serious, and smart, and not at all like the guy that had been so adamant about hiding from storms in closets.

Gabriel, on the other hand, seemed like the fun loving type. When he wasn’t concerned about his little brother’s mental state, he was smiling and waving and cracking jokes in the brief passings that they had with him.

It was as Dean heard Sam talking to Gabriel about the impending storm that Dean realized he had just thrown his clean laundry into his room. If they were to head into their place now, they would be greeted with a mess. That was the opposite of the impression Dean had been trying to make. Not that he was trying to make a good impression.

“Hello, Dean.” The gravelly voice sounded right next to him, and Dean couldn’t control the jump it caused.

“Jesus, Cas! Where the hell did you come from?” He hadn’t even seen Castiel join them.

“I didn’t mean to startle you. I thought it might be rude if I didn’t greet you, as well.”

Another thing Dean had learned about his odd new neighbor: the guy apparently had issues with social interaction. Gabriel had alluded to an oddness in the way his brother usually acted, and that had not been an exaggeration. The way he spoke was almost too proper. And it was like the guy did things only because he thought he was obligated to. As if he had no social instincts of his own.

“It’s alright. I just wasn’t expecting it.” Dean gave the other man a smile to let him know there were no hard feelings. Something about the awkwardness of the other man always made Dean want to put him at ease. “How was school?”

Okay, so maybe it was less about Castiel’s awkwardness and more about the small smile of appreciation Dean always received when he brushed off any weirdness. It was like the guy expected Dean to stop talking to him every time he did something odd.

“School was fine. My paper received high marks, and my professor wants me to submit it for scholarship money for next semester. I’m not sure I will, though. I don’t think it was good enough to impress the scholarship committee.”

Well, Dean couldn’t stand idly by and let Castiel talk himself down. Especially from such a good opportunity. “No way, dude! You have to submit it! If the professor thought it was good enough, it must be. It’s happened a couple of times for Sammy, and the money really helped out.”

Castiel seemed surprised by his adamance. “Oh, yes. I hadn’t thought of that.”

Now, even if Castiel convinced himself it wasn’t good enough, he would submit it if only to help Gabriel with the finances. And then when he won the scholarship he could be proud of his work. A real win-win. Dean grinned at his own genius.

“Well, I’ve got a few things I wanted to finish up in the house, but it was nice talking to you.” Dean patted the other man on the shoulder as he pointed toward the storm headed in their direction. “I’m sure I’ll see you later tonight.”

The scowl he received in response said that Castiel was not happy with his weakness, but the serious nod that followed said he could still acknowledge it.


Dean headed straight for his bedroom, as soon as he was in the house. He wanted to get his clothes put away before their guests arrived. The severe thunderstorm warning on his phone said it was set to start in less than an hour. He knew it wasn’t even guaranteed that the storm would get bad enough to warrant hiding in the closet, but at least he’d be a little more prepared for it this time, if it did.

“Did you do laundry?” Dean hadn’t even noticed his brother standing in his doorway. He continued gathering his empty hangers.

“Yep.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone with you. I have too much to go to the apartment laundry room.”

Dean shrugged as he started hanging what he could. He didn’t really want to admit to Sam that he’d gone early when he’d heard about the storm. For some reason it seemed like a bit of a weird thing to do, now that he’d already done it.

“I can take you down there this weekend.” He offered, hopefully distracting his brother from the fact that they always went together. They had agreed a long time ago that the chore was a lot easier when they had each other for entertainment while they waited.

“Why did you go without me?” Alright, so Sam was still suspicious.

“I just wanted to get it done. It was starting to get out of control.” He carried the clothes he’d hung into the closet to avoid looking at his brother. His discomfort with explaining his reasoning to his brother was only increasing the more questions he asked. When he’d thought to do this earlier it had seemed logical, but now it just seemed silly. As if two other bachelors cared about the dirty laundry piled in the back of Dean’s closet.

He managed to find a few more empty hangers while he’d been hiding in the closet and he brought them out with him. The look on his brother’s face was filled with confusion, but he seemed to be ready to let the whole thing go.

“Anyway, just to let you know, I invited the Novaks over for dinner. I figured they’d likely end up down here anyway if the storm gets bad. May as well invite them over. I thought that maybe you could make chicken pot pie.” Sam threw on his best set of puppy dog eyes.

“Oh, so now you are volunteering me to cook for the whole neighborhood?” The eldest brother tried to say it angrily, but just the mention of chicken pot pie was enough to get him in the mood for it.

“Well, we could just order pizza if you’re not up to it.” Sam said it placatingly, but Dean knew that he had no intention of calling for pizza. He wanted to call his brother out for lying, but decided against it. Sam had kindly moved on from his questions about the laundry, after all.

“Nah, I can cook. Chicken pot pie sounds great for a night like tonight, anyway.”

The smile Sam sent him at his concession said that he’d known that would be the outcome from the beginning.


Dinner was actually pretty nice. It wasn’t often that they had guests, and although they didn’t have a dining table to eat at, they all gathered around the living room together. Luckily, the storm waited until after they’d gotten their fill before it started to get really bad. They were in the middle of an episode of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ when the screen started to flicker. The wind must have picked up enough to cause a disruption in the signal.

“Can we change this to the weather channel?” Castiel asked quietly. It was fairly obvious that he was still embarrassed by his overreaction to the first storm.

“Yeah, it’s cool. I’ve already seen this episode, anyway.” Dean smiled at the other man before switching the channel. He might have fought a little harder about it, but what was the point? Sam was in the kitchen doing the dishes from dinner and Gabriel was sitting at the countertop bar with a beer, keeping him company. There was no one to notice if Dean wanted to cater to the fears of his new friend.

The map on the right side of the screen showed that the whole town was being affected by the storm. The green layer stretched across the entire city, with a much smaller yellow layer and then the red layer that was just west of them, and moving in their direction. The obnoxious warning alert sounded and a message scrolled across the bottom of the screen. Of course it said that their county was under tornado watch until midnight again.

“Why do the storms always come at night?” Castiel asked, with a disgusted tone. “I do have school in the morning.”

“Oh just wait! They love to pop up at like two or three in the morning. Just to make sure no one gets any sleep.” Dean grinned at his neighbor, and then as if to prove his point the first real crack of thunder shook the room.

“Some people can sleep right through it, no matter how loud it gets.” Dean waved a hand toward the kitchen as he said it. Sam slept like the dead once he was out. “I can usually sleep until the storm is right over us and the thunder gets the loudest.”

“Great. Something to look forward to.” Castiel said dryly.

Dean flipped the channel back to something a little more distracting.

 

It was only half an hour later that everyone’s phones started to go off. It was a tornado warning for their area. Castiel immediately asked that the channel get changed back to the weather.

“What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?” Gabriel asked, as they watched the color coded severity indicators move east across the screen. They reset every few seconds to help show the direction of the storm.

Sam, always the technical one, answered immediately.“A watch just means that the storm will be strong enough to produce a tornado. A warning means that the storm is actually showing signs that it might create a tornado.”

“So, what’s the next step from there?” Gabriel asked, seemingly just curious.

Sam clearly didn’t know how to answer that question, as he seemed a lot less confident in his answer. “A tornado touchdown, I guess? They don't actually call it anything else, they just start telling you to take cover if you are in the tornado’s trajectory.”

“Oh good. Something new to look for.”

They had the sound turned down, because Sam had learned from his ex that the announcer continually talking about the storm only seemed to make things worse. They turned it up a bit though as the weatherman started circling a part of the map in red.

“There seems to be a slight rotation in the clouds in this area.” The man said, then drawing a red line pointing north and east of the circle. “People in these areas please be prepared! Nothing has touched down, but the circulation of the clouds here indicates that it is the most likely spot for a touchdown.”

Dean didn’t even have to look to see that Castiel had tensed up at the words. He turned the sound down again and smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry, man. That is way north of us, and it’s heading away from us.”

The look on the other man’s face clearly said he did not care about those facts.


It being a Thursday did not seem to faze Gabriel one bit. When they made their way to the closet he brought a beer for everyone with him.

“Don’t you have to work in the morning?” Dean asked, even as he accepted the offered beer.

“All the more reason to drink! I still have to survive a night in the closet with my brother and our neighbors.” Gabriel rolled his eyes as he took a place next to his brother, who was once again in the corner. He forced a beer into his brother’s hands.

“Well, you’ve got a point there.” Dean lifted his own beer in a salute before bringing it to his lips.

“We should have brought cards or something.” Sam said, leaning his head back to the wall behind him.

“Good idea! I’ll go find some.” Dean moved to get up, but was pinned by the glare he received from Castiel at the movement. “Or maybe I will just try to remember next time…” he said plopping back into his place on the floor. Castiel went back to glaring at the door.

Gabriel chuckled from his place next to his brother. “I have no idea how he’s gotten you guys to act so irrationally. I have to, he’s my brother. You two don’t have to lock yourselves in here every time he freaks out, you know. I can keep him company.”

“It’s alright. It’s a chance for us to get to know our new neighbors.” Sam smiled reassuringly at Castiel. “So, what are you studying at the university?”

“My major is sociology.” Castiel informed him, with no apparent effort to continue the conversation. Too bad for him, the Winchesters were stubborn as hell.

“That’s cool. What made you decide to do that?” Gabriel grinned at Sam’s efforts to keep his brother talking. Of course, they were interrupted by a loud crack of thunder. Castiel glared at the door again. As soon as the rumble quieted enough, Sam asked him again.

“I find humans to be fascinating. It was an easy choice.”

Gabriel recoiled at his brother’s answer. “I told you not to say it like that! It sounds like you are fascinated by another species, and not your own. People will think you’re an alien or something!”

“Or maybe an angel.” Dean added, before his mind caught up with his mouth. He tried to keep a blush from forming as all the faces in the closet turned shocked expressions on him. “You guys are named after angels, right?”

He originally had no intention of letting the men know he had researched his neighbor’s strange name, but admitting that was a lot easier than just letting the comment he’d made get turned into something it wasn’t.

“Oh, yes. We are.” Castiel sounded surprised. “Our parents were very strange. All of our siblings are named after angels. Mostly the archangels, though. I am the one that got the strangest, unknown angel.”

“Archangel’s huh?” Sam gave a brief laugh at that, drawing the other brother’s attention away from Dean, thankfully. “So you have a brother running around named Lucifer?” Sam laughed at his own joke.

“Lucifer is the devil, Sam.” Dean rolled his eyes at his brother.

“Lucifer was an angel that was cast out of heaven, Dean. An archangel, actually.” Sam gave him that annoying grin that said he knew more than Dean.

“That’s right. And yes, my poor brother had to walk around with the name Lucifer until he was old enough to legally change it.” Gabriel’s tone was sympathetic, but the look on his face said he thought it was hilarious.

“Seriously? Your parents named their kid Lucifer?” Dean was horrified.

“Yep! I got lucky being born third. I got a semi-normal name. Poor Castiel was born after they ran out of normalish names. Still better than Lucifer, I guess.” Gabriel grinned at them as he ruffled Castiel’s hair. The glare he received in return could start a fire.


“Is there more room in here than last time?” Gabriel seemed to be looking for a new topic of conversation. He also seemed confused by his own observation. Although, that was fair since the closet had clearly not gotten any bigger.

Dean tried to think of something less incriminating to say than he had cleaned his laundry. He knew that the second the words were out of his mouth Sam would know why he had done it. It didn’t matter as Sam’s eyes met his, and he could almost see the light bulb go on above his head. And now his little brother understood why he’d done his laundry early.

“That’s because Dean cleaned up all the dirty laundry on the floor.” Sam said it in a sly way that said he had Dean all figured out.

“Oh yeah! There’s no dirty clothes-pillows in here this time.”

“Sorry. We can make some clean clothes-pillows if you’d like.”

Gabriel grinned at Dean’s sarcastic answer. “Nah, it’s all good. I think the storm has passed, anyway.” He stood and offered a hand to his brother. “Thanks for letting us stay.”

“It’s no problem.” Dean said, as he pulled himself to his own feet. “At least it didn’t last until midnight, like they said.”

“Yeah, but it’s still passed this guy’s bedtime.” Gabriel steered his glaring brother out the door and into the living space. “I better get him tucked in so he’s not a monster tomorrow.”

Dean and Sam grinned at the exchange as Castiel dodged out of his brother’s grasp.

“Knock it off, Gabriel. I am not a child.” Castiel clearly tried to school his face into a more friendly expression. “Thank you for allowing us access to your closet again.” He shook each of the Winchester’s hands in turn. “And thank you for feeding us.”

“It’s not a problem.”

“Anytime.”

As soon as the door was closed behind the Novaks, Dean knew what was coming.

“Your laundry was ‘just getting out of control’, huh?” Sam’s voice was mocking and Dean had no real defense against it.

“Look. I figured we’d end up spending the night in the closet again, and I didn’t see any reason to make everyone smell my dirty laundry while we did it. I was just trying to be nice.”

“Ok.” Sam nodded in an understanding way, but the look in his eyes said he thought there was something else to it. Well, Sam could believe whatever he wanted.

“Alright, well I’m beat. I’m heading off to bed. You probably should, too. I’ll take care of the rest of the cleaning after I get off work tomorrow. I need you bright eyed and bushy tailed at school.”

Sam shook his head at the insinuation that he would be anything less. “Goodnight.”

“Night.” Dean went to the kitchen to rinse and throw away the empty bottles for the night before heading to bed. He was determined to get a good night’s sleep, despite the oddness of the afternoon. He was also determined not to dream about anxious blue eyes peering at him from under a mess of dark hair, as he had after the first time they had spent the night together in the closet.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for a pattern to develop. The weatherman would inform them of which day the storm was supposed to strike, and then the Winchesters would invite the Novaks over for dinner, instead of making Castiel feel uncomfortable about his fear. Everyone seemed pretty happy in the arrangement.

Castiel was happy to be on the ground floor when the storms came. They didn’t always end up in the closet, but the option was readily available in case the storm got bad enough.

Gabriel seemed happy just to make new friends. He didn’t say anything about it, but the more time they spent with him, the more obvious it became that he needed to be around other people. He didn’t seem to have many friends in this new town and he latched on to the Winchesters like a drowning man.

Dean was happy because he got a new audience to try his new recipes on. The others were wise not to mention his enthusiasm for cooking for a group, nor did they mention the time or effort it must have taken to make the meals. They always made sure that he knew how grateful they were, though. And how amazing the food tasted.

Sam, on the other hand, couldn’t really figure out what about the situation was making him so happy. Maybe it was because, every time, it was helping someone else out; he knew they were doing the right thing. Maybe it was just seeing all of the others happy, laughing and drinking and eating like kings almost once a week. Maybe it was watching his brother falter in his steps as he tried to figure out the enigmatic Castiel. Honestly, he’d never seen his brother so unsure about himself in his life, and it amused Sam to no end.

The reason didn’t really matter, though. The part that mattered is how well they all meshed together. It mattered because Castiel had been able to relax his fear enough to allow himself to be distracted through the storms, unless the sirens actually started to wail. Even as they hid in the closet for protection, the other man was relaxed enough to enjoy their company. He was no longer a curled up, glaring, ball of fear he’d once been.

It wasn’t until the storm came in the middle of the day that Sam really remembered how terrified Castiel actually was.

The entire morning had been grey, with low, dark clouds and intermittent rain. It was a miserable ride to school, as puddles had already begun to form. By the time Sam made it to his first class, the bottoms of his jeans were wet, nearly to the knee. His shoes made little squishy noises as he trudged into the building, and he knew he was leaving a trail of water behind him. It was too bad he was already running late, or he might have been more concerned about the puddles left in his wake.

It started off as an awesome day, and only got better as the day wore on. Most of Sam’s classes were in the same building, but he had one he’d have to brave the weather again to get to. The storm had, of course, only gotten worse, and by the time he was heading back outside the wind had picked up and the rain was coming down in buckets.

Sam sighed heartily as he stared out the window toward the building he would need to be in for his next class. It was a long walk, and although about half of his trip was a covered walkway, the wind was blowing so hard it would be like there was no protection at all. With the day he’d had he was more inclined to just head home and miss the class for the day, but he’d have to ride his bike if he wanted to leave early. That seemed like a terrible idea.

Dean had called earlier and offered to pick him up, but he’d have to wait for his brother to get off work if he wanted a dry ride home. So, with that decision made, he only had to figure out if he was willing to miss class even while he was still on campus. It seemed a little silly to skip, but there was no way he was making it through that courtyard without being thoroughly soaked. Was it worth it to sit through class in a puddle?

The decision was made for him when the wind picked up even more, and the sirens started to go off in the distance. If that wasn’t a good excuse to miss class, then he didn’t know what was. He sighed in relief, knowing that class would be cancelled anyway.

So, he had a little over two hours to kill, preferably in the building he was already in. There had to be some kind of computer lab or something available in this building, right? Well, he had plenty of time to wander around in search of something like that, anyway. It was too bad he hadn’t gotten stuck in the library.

Sam made his way down the hall, peeking into all the classrooms he’d never been in before, in hopes that one of them held a computer or research lab that he could use to get some homework done while he was trapped. The sounds of the sirens had faded as he went deeper into the building, but began getting louder again as he moved toward the doors at the other end of the hall. He chanced a glance that direction, and that’s when Sam spotted him.

Castiel was standing stock still next to the door, staring off into the distance. His hands were clenched so hard on his bag that Sam could see the whiteness of his knuckles from the significant distance down the hall where he was standing. He was clearly terrified.

Sam made his way down the hall toward his neighbor, intending to try to calm him a bit. He saw Castiel jump at the sound of his footsteps as he grew near.

“Hey, Cas.” He used a placating tone that he immediately regretted. Castiel didn’t need to think he was being mocked.

“Hello, Sam.” The other man’s eyes had returned to the distance, possibly in the direction of the siren, but it was hard to tell. Sam glanced out at the view, watching the trees shake and bend in the high winds, while the rain beat heavily against the windows. It did look pretty bad out there. Getting the other man away from the windows was probably a good idea.

“I was just heading toward the tornado shelter rooms. Do you want to come with?” Sam knew he wasn’t fooling Castiel. He’d been around long enough to know that the Winchesters were not bothered by the storms. He hoped that the other man wouldn’t be upset at his suggestion.

“I would very much like to go with you.” Castiel’s gravelly voice was even deeper in worry, and it was as if he was completely unbothered by the obvious exaggeration. Sometimes Sam forgot that not everyone reacted the way his brother would. Dean was more likely to spot the lie and call him on it, while making sure everyone knew he wasn’t actually afraid, or anything. Castiel had just accepted the out for what it was.

“Come on. I’ll show you how to find them.”

Sam lead his friend back toward the center of the building, finding himself where the professor’s offices were held. He pointed out the yellow papers posted on a row of doors that sported a terrible scribble of lines that were supposed to represent a tornado. Underneath the graphic it said: “TORNADO SHELTER” in big block lettering.

“They have them in all of the buildings, just in case.” Sam waved a hand at the row of doors. “Pick a room, any room.”

Castiel, of course, picked the room in the middle.

When they knocked on the door they received an immediate call for entry. On the other side of the door was a very frazzled looking man, with his hands in his hair, glaring at them from under a mop of curls.

“What can I help you boys with?” The tone was timid and exhausted, instead of the gruff angry voice his face had suggested they expect.

“The tornado sirens are going off, and we were hoping to stay here until the storm passes.” Sam said, as professionally as possible. They were deep enough in the building that the sirens could no longer be heard, so he’d have to just take their word for it.

“Yeah, alright. Join the group.” The professor waved a hand toward the corner where there was a student already. He was curled into a ball in the same manner that Castiel had been during the first storm. They could only see the top of his head from where they stood, the long dark bangs of his hair blocking his turned down face.

Sam and Castiel shared a look before taking their place next to him on the floor.

The other student looked terrified. He was curled up on himself, his arms wrapped around his legs, and he peered at them from between his knees. He was clearly quite a bit younger than they were. Maybe he was in one of the programs that allowed high school students to come in for college level credit, or something.

“Hey, buddy.” Sam said, once again realizing he had his kid gloves on and that he might offend someone. He tried to make sure his voice came out more normally. “I’m Sam.”

The other student relaxed enough to shake Sam’s hand, at least.

“Kevin.”



It was definitely a strange way to spend the afternoon. There was the completely stressed out Professor Shurley that was trying to get his work done with an office full of distractions, and the two worried students who were hiding from the storm. Sam did his best to keep Kevin and Castiel distracted from their fear, while also trying to keep it down so the professor could do his work. It didn’t help that all over their phones kept buzzing to warn them about new developments.

It was a great relief when Sam’s phone finally buzzed with a text from Dean. He was on his way and wanted to know where he should pick Sam up. The younger Winchester shot off a quick text back. He let his brother know he would just leave his bike overnight and warned him he was bringing Castiel with him. He’d never really asked how Castiel got to and from school, but since he’d never seen the guy driving a car he assumed he walked or something.

“Hey Cas, Dean is on his way to pick me up. You should come with us. I’m sure the storm has passed by now.”

Castiel looked reluctant, but clearly torn with the idea of not getting a ride home. “Alright.”

By the time they were standing they had gained the attention of the overworked professor.

“Thank you for allowing us to use your office.” Castiel gave the man a little bow.

Professor Shurley just waved him off, not even looking up from his work. “I look forward to seeing you all next time.” He said it as if it were not at all unusual for students to huddle in his office.

They waved at Kevin as they headed out. He was still curled up in the corner and seemed to have no desire to leave anytime in the near future. “See you later, guys.”

Leaving the safety of the room, didn’t seem to have any adverse effects on Castiel. Sam steered him toward the end of the hall that lead to the parking lot, and he walked willingly enough. The closer they got to the door, the clearer it was that the storm had mostly passed. The sirens were no longer active, and though the rain was still clearly heavy, the wind was no longer slinging it against the windows.

They stopped at the end of the hall and peered in the direction that Dean would be coming.

“Do you know what the car looks like?” Sam asked, if only to break up the silence. Dean’s car was pretty hard to miss. Castiel nodded.

“Alright, so I guess we’ll just wait here until we see it. Then we can make a run for it.”

Castiel nodded again.

When they finally saw the long black car pull into the parking lot, they headed out quickly. Dean was unlikely to be very happy about the amount of water they were bringing with them, but it could not be helped. At least the rain had slowed down a bit.

Sam automatically headed for the back of the car, having the kind of manners that insisted the guest got to ride in the front. Unfortunately, he hadn’t properly conveyed his intentions, and he and Castiel reached for the back door at the same time.

“You should take shotgun.” Sam pointed to the passenger’s side door at the same time, knowing that sometimes Castiel didn’t understand slang terms.

“But your legs are longer, Sam. You should take the front.” The other man’s face held only confusion.

“Too late.” Sam said with a grin, swinging open the back door and effectively blocking Castiel toward the front.

“Just get in the goddamn car!” Dean yelled gruffly, probably thinking only of his precious interior. Castiel jumped a little in response to the sudden outburst before opening his own door.

Once they had settled in, the other man rushed to apologize. “Sorry, Dean.” Even though they’d only known each other a short time, Castiel clearly already understood Dean’s short temper.

“It’s alright, man.” Dean looked decently ashamed of his snap, which only raised Sam’s suspicions of what exactly was going on between his brother and their new friend. Dean seemed to treat Castiel differently than anyone else they’d ever been around. “I just don’t want you guys standing in the rain arguing about who wants to be the most polite for the rest of the night.”

Sam snorted at the description of what he and Castiel had been doing, but chose not to comment.

There was a few moments of silence as Dean smoothly pulled the car back onto the main road. In the car, the ride would only be around five minutes even with the roads as they were. Sam only hoped they wouldn’t spend the whole ride in silence.

“So, I hear you got to hang out in tornado shelter at school this time.” Dean sent a little smile toward Castiel as he spoke. “That sounds like fun.”

“Do not mock me, Dean.” The dark haired man glared back. “The weather was getting very bad, and the sirens were going off.”

Dean let out a little chuckle, even as he raised one arm in a gesture of surrender. “I’m not arguing that. I was at work and the whole thing is nothing but windows. I had a front row seat for the whole thing. I was just picturing the two of you huddled together in a room made of concrete.”

“Actually, we were in one of the professor’s offices. It was warm and comfortable.” Sam informed him, using the same tone of voice that a toddler would before sticking his tongue out.

“I thought you said you were in a tornado shelter!” Dean sounded offended that he had been lied to.

“At the school the center rooms are labeled as tornado shelters in case of emergency. It’s not an underground shelter, dude. Where do you think they would have put something like that?” Sam rolled his eyes even though his brother probably wasn’t even looking at him.

Dean shook his head. “I don’t know! That’s just where my imagination went I guess.”

There was another moment of silence as Dean absorbed this new information. “So… you were just hanging out in a professor’s office alone?” The tone was odd, but Sam had a hard time reading it’s meaning.

“Yeah, right. They don’t leave their offices unlocked. Professor Shurley was there. And there was this kid, Kevin. He was really scared, so Cas and I were distracting him.”

A weird tension seemed to leave his brother at the words, and Sam’s suspicions went up another notch. He didn’t know what it was about Castiel that made his brother act so oddly, but he was determined to find out.

Chapter Text

The storm raging outside his window was loud enough to wake Dean up. He wasn’t one of those light sleepers that woke up the second there was noise, but he wasn’t one of those people that were practically in a coma, like his brother. It was entirely feasible that Sam would sleep through the end of the world. Dean would only sleep through the first half of it.

So, when the thunder had gotten to the point that it was actually shaking the walls his hopes of falling back to sleep again were dashed. He had already forced himself to go back to sleep three times. His phone had been sending him warnings loud enough to disturb him, and this was probably his last chance.

Dean rolled over again, trying to find a more comfortable sleeping position, in hopes that he would be able to force himself anyway. It was useless. No matter how many times he changed position, or how deep in the pillows he buried his phone, he knew his chances of sleep were pretty thin. Then the tornado sirens began to sound, and he knew it was all over.

The knock at the door wasn’t entirely unexpected, but that didn’t make it any less irritating. Yes, the sirens were going off; and yeah it sounded pretty bad out there, but that didn’t change the fact that it was an ungodly hour of the morning.

Dean groaned and pulled his pillow over his head. He knew it was a fruitless attempt as the knock came even louder the second time. He couldn’t actually believe this was happening to him. He just wanted some sleep before work, damnit!

The knock came again, more insistent this time, and Dean gave up. He threw his blanket off, and stomped all the way to the door. Sure, Dean had caught himself feeling rather protective of the man upstairs. Sometimes it was almost as bad as it was with Sammy. That did not change the fact that it was the butt crack of dawn, and Dean had never really been a morning person.

When he threw open the door he was greeted with the familiar sight of Castiel and Gabriel, soaking wet. Castiel had that desperate look in his eye that always made Dean’s heart melt, but it wasn’t going to work this time.

“Dude. It’s not even seven yet.” Dean grumbled at the interlopers.

Castiel’s eyes widened at the gruff tone of voice. “But Dean, this is serious. We waited as long as we could. There has already been a touchdown outside of town!”

Dean was in the process of rolling his eyes at the tone of the other man’s voice when tiny pieces of frozen water began falling from the sky. “God damnit, get in here.” He pulled the other two men physically into his apartment.

“Fucking hail. Are you kidding? The one time I didn’t cover the car.” Dean peered anxiously out at his baby, trying to decide if it was worth running back out there to cover it. The ping of the ice hitting metal made him cringe. It didn’t help that the pieces were clearly getting much bigger, very quickly.

“Dean! This is more serious than your car! The sky is green!” Castiel grabbed his arm while he yelled at him, pointing toward the part of the sky that was barely lit from the sun coming up.

He was not exaggerating. The sky had a distinctly green tinge to it, and the clouds were moving very quickly. The smaller trees that had been planted around the parking lot were bent almost to the ground in the strong winds gusting through.

“Well, fuck.” Dean was instantly on alert. For once this wasn’t just Castiel’s fear causing an overreaction. This was serious. Dean slammed the front door shut, locking both of the deadbolts behind him. “Let’s go.”

Gabriel seemed just as scared as Castiel, and Dean’s reaction to the color of the sky didn’t seem to be helping. He was not a docile man, but he didn’t say anything as he was steered in the direction of Dean’s bedroom. Castiel led the way, and Gabriel just followed like a baby duck.

Dean passed his own bedroom door and headed a bit farther down the hall. He threw open his brother’s door as soon as he reached it.

“Get the hell up, Sammy!” He yelled, shoving at the mountain of a shoulder that made up the highest point on the bed. Of course, Sam just grunted and rolled out of his grasp.

“This is not a drill, Sam! Get your ass up and get it into the closet.”

Sam groaned and pulled a pillow over his head instead.

“Dude! I am not kidding! Get the fuck up!”

“Dean, seriously! It’s like seven! I have to be up in an hour for school.”

“I’m pretty fucking sure that school will be cancelled since there is a god damned tornado tearing through the area right the fuck now.” Yeah, he might have been being a little overdramatic, but his brother was a beast to wake up when he wanted to be. And if he didn’t use a little urgency Sam might pass right back out.

Dean was fed up with waiting for his brother to catch on, and the sound of the hail hitting the window was so loud there was no way it wasn’t at least golf-ball sized by now. Maybe bigger. Luckily, he had always been stronger than he looked, so he grabbed his brother’s arm, throwing it over his shoulder and wrapping his own arm around Sam’s torso forcing him into a sitting position.

“Do not make me carry your ass all the way there.” he growled as he physically lifted his brother onto his feet.

“Are you being serious?” Sam still sounded confused, but finally seemed to be catching on. He got his own feet beneath him and started walking the direction Dean was pointing him in.

Dean’s voice lost almost all of it’s impatience as Sam finally seemed to understand. “Yeah buddy! This is the real deal. I thought it was just Cas acting like a nut too, but you should see the sky, man. No joke.”

They made their way to Dean’s closet quickly. The glare Dean received upon entering was proof that Castiel had heard the comment he’d made on the way. Dean cringed as he took his seat on the floor. “Sorry, Cas.”

They arranged themselves into their, now established, positions on the floor. It was only seconds before all of their phones were making that horrible noise that signaled a weather alert.

Dean hadn’t even looked at his phone since he’d gotten up, so when he opened it, there were a bunch of warnings above the one that had just made his phone go off.

Thunderstorm warning

Tornado watch

Flash flood warning

Tornado warning

Tornado warning

He pressed on the last one, and was a little alarmed by the scene that opened on his phone. The warning was actually in red, and below it there were instructions.

TORNADO WARNING!!! -

Severity: Extreme. Take action immediately. Tornados are extremely difficult to see at night. Do not wait until you can see or hear the tornado. Take cover now. Remain indoors. Move to the innermost room in your home.

Hazard: Tornado with golf ball sized hail

Source: A rotation has been indicated by radar just south and west of the metroplex. This storm is moving toward the city at 30 mph.

Impact: Flying debris will be dangerous to those caught without shelter. Damage to roofs, windows, and vehicles will occur. Tree damage is likely.

Locations impacted include: …

And of course their location was the second one mentioned.

“Son of a bitch!”

Everyone was busy staring at their phones, so Dean’s outburst made them all startle a bit.

“Damage to vehicles will occur. It will, not it might. And of course it will. Because my lazy ass didn’t want to get out of bed to cover the car.” Dean dropped his head into his hands and sighed.

When the silence in the closet was only interrupted by the continuous thumping of hail into the side of the building, he lifted his head to look at the other occupants of the closet. There were varying expressions on their faces, with Sam’s bitch-face, and Castiel’s shock.

“Dude. There is a fucking tornado headed straight for us. How is the car your number one concern?” Sam said it with such irritation in his voice.

“Don’t talk about Baby like she’s not part of the family!” Although Dean actually was kind of upset about the way Sam was talking about his car, he was only making a big deal out of it for one reason: distraction. As long as they were all talking, no one would be thinking too much.

“Oh my god. Your relationship with that car is really starting to worry me. How will you ever have a real relationship if all of your love is for your car?”

“Shut up, Sam.” There was no need for his brother to be so rude about it. “And I worry about your ability to get laid with the amount of kale you stuff your face with.” He didn’t stick his tongue out in retaliation, but it was close.

“Kale is very good for you, Dean.” Castiel’s input was quiet, but it was confirmation that Dean’s ability to distract him from his fears was at least partially working.

He groaned dramatically in response.

“Oh, no! Not you too, Cas!” He knew the look on his face was pathetic and pleading, and he was overplaying his role just a bit, but it brought a smile to Castiel’s face.

“I’m sorry, Dean.” The other man’s smile was soft and apologetic, while still giving the impression that he wasn’t truly sorry at all.

Dean sent an amused look toward Gabriel who seemed to enjoy his brother’s strange sense of humor the most. Oddly enough, the other man was in Castiel’s usual position of staring at the door.

“What about you, Gabriel? Are you jumping on the kale bandwagon?” The distraction technique only worked if everyone was on board.

Gabriel swung his head around to send Dean a look of utter disgust. “Hell no! Don’t be ridiculous. As far as I know, there is no sugar in that crap.”

Dean grinned at Gabriel’s response, and the way he had uncurled a little from his previous position.

All of Dean’s efforts were immediately squashed as a crack of thunder rocked the foundation of the building, and the light above them flickered out. Dean sighed as the air in the closet became very tense, very quickly.

“It’s alright, guys.” Dean flicked on the flashlight for his phone, pointing the light toward the wall so it wouldn’t blind anyone. “It’s just a power outage. Surely you had those in Cleveland?”

He did his best to make his voice sound as casual as possible, even while he was beginning to worry himself. The thunder rumbled through again, which only showed how close the storm really was. He sent a quick glance at Sam, and couldn’t mistake the wrinkle across his forehead as anything but worry.

Dean took a chance and opened the weather application on his phone, sending his brother a nod to indicate that he should talk in his place.

The radar was flashing just to the west of them, showing a rotation and a line pointing where the tornado was projected to travel. That line was much too close to home for Dean’s comfort. He tried to zoom the map closer. He could hope that the line was at least not pointing directly at their current location, right?

The thing about tornadoes was that they didn’t really care. You could go to the ground floor. You could hide in the most interior room. You could do all of the things that were advised, but it wasn’t as if a tornado was going to be stopped. No, a tornado will rip through the entire building, and not leave anything but rubble. The only way that any of that advice was going to help, is if they were only on the outskirts of the actual funnel.

Dean was slightly relieved to see that the line crossed the main street at least a mile north of their location. Not that those lines were entirely accurate, but it was enough to make him feel a little better at least. He set his phone back up to be the light in the closet.

He looked back at the other occupants of the closet and found them all staring at him expectantly. Sam was not doing his distraction duties, apparently. They all jumped at another loud boom of ground shaking sound.

“It’s heading north of us.” He told them, which wasn’t really a lie, but it wasn’t the whole truth either. The last thing they needed was a whole closet full of stressed out people though. “It’ll be passing in just a minute.”

As if waiting for it’s cue, the thunder turned into a rumble that didn’t stop. The groan of the walls at the pressure of the wind outside was not helping Dean’s plans at all, and he met three pairs of fearful eyes.

“You too, Sammy?” Great.

Sam just nodded, and then moved toward him, unexpectedly. He squeezed his way between the wall and where Dean was seated, although there certainly wasn’t enough space for him there.

Alright. Everything was fine. Just because his giant brother was cuddling up to him in fear, didn’t mean that Dean was allowed to crumble as well. His rock status was only solidified when Castiel came to arrange himself on Dean’s other side.

“Do you want to get in on this?” Dean asked, realizing that Gabriel had barely spoken the entire time he’d been in their apartment, and he had a look on his face that was clearly trying to hide his fear. Dean had been mostly sarcastic, but Gabriel moved to somehow wedge himself in on Castiel’s other side.

Once they had all rearranged it was deathly silent in the room. The only sounds heard were from outside. The windows were rattling loudly in their frames, but at least the sounds of hail hitting them could no longer be heard. Dean knew that had more to do with them being so close to the center of the storm than any kind of good news, but hoped that their neighbors didn’t know that.

The continuous rumbling got a little louder, and Dean felt his brother tense beside him. Castiel’s hand wrapped around his forearm, and Dean tried not to react to the unexpected contact.

He had to compose himself if he was going to be able to calm any of the others, so he took a steadying breath before he spoke again.

“It’s passing north of us now.” He said it as if he were some sort of storm expert. As if he could see the storm passing, and that they were all in a safe place.

They were all silent again, listening for the rumble that had actually begun to soften. Or maybe that was just Dean believing his own hype. No, it was definitely not as loud as it had been.

The sound was clearly quieting when suddenly the hail began to fall again, spattering against the windows with enough force to be heard in their hiding spot.

Castiel’s grip tightened, and Gabriel seemed to be leaning in toward his brother a little more, but both of the Winchester brother’s let loose audible noises of relief at the sound.

“See, guys? No big deal.”

Their neighbors seemed to share an incredulous look before turning it on Dean.

“The hail is a good sign.” Sam informed them, pulling himself out of the corner he’d shoved himself in. He stretched his long limbs as he got up. They probably weren’t used to being in such confined spaces. “It means the tornado has passed. And the storm is probably almost over.”

Now that Sam wasn’t part of the pile, Dean felt strange about how close he and Castiel were sitting. It wasn’t until he moved to get up as well that he was reminded of the other man’s hand gripping his arm.

“Uh, Cas. Can I have my arm back now?” Dean knew there was no way either of them were walking away from that without embarrassment, but he said it as quietly as he could anyway.

Castiel’s eyes shot down to where his hand was, as if he had no idea how it had gotten there. He let go quickly, and even the incredibly poor lighting of Dean’s phone couldn’t hide the blush that spread across his cheeks.

“Sorry.” He mumbled.

Dean tried to give him a small smile in reply, but felt his own cheeks warming so he aborted it quickly. He turned his attention toward putting some space between them instead.

“How are you doing, Gabriel?” Sam asked. In his current position, standing over the other man, their considerable size difference was accentuated. Gabriel had that unnerved expression that they were used to seeing on Castiel.

“I’m alright.” He didn’t show any signs of wishing to continue the conversation, which was also strange for him.

“Good, cuz it’s over now.” And because Dean apparently had the word of God during this storm, the light above them flickered on. They were all momentarily blinded.

“See?” Dean grinned at his newfound powers. “Now, who’s hungry?”



Dean was glad to finally have someone to try some of his breakfast recipes on. Sam was always too concerned about the health aspect to truly enjoy the foods that Dean really wanted to prepare, and it took all the fun out of it sometimes. Gabriel, on the other hand, was a complete glutton. He would eat anything and everything that Dean put in front of him. Castiel seemed to be somewhere in between. He enjoyed the foods that Dean prepared for him, but wasn’t much for overindulgence.

While Dean whipped them up some breakfast, Sam was trying to get Gabriel to come back out of his shell. Dean understood why he was having such a rough time of it, he was an older brother after all. The embarrassment that Gabriel must have felt, especially after all the times that he’d made fun of Castiel for freaking out, was likely the culprit. It was going to be fairly difficult to save face after the way he’d acted this morning.

By the time he’d finished the food, though, he could hear Gabriel’s raucous laughter. That was a good sign. He called Sam in to help him serve breakfast to their guests.

“I guess Gabe is feeling better.” He commented as his brother picked up the two plates he’d left on the counter.

Sam rolled his eyes and huffed half a laugh. “Yeah, he’s fine. Just got a little more worked up about that storm than he thought he would, I expect.”

Dean just hummed his agreement and headed to the living area. When he handed over Castiel’s plate, he heard a gasp.

Castiel was staring down at his forearm, and when Dean followed his line of sight, he understood the other man’s reaction. There was a dark bruise on his arm in the distinct shape of fingers.

“Dean! I am so sorry.” This time the apologetic look was completely sincere. Dean’s eyes met Castiel’s, and he gave him a little smile that he hoped conveyed his forgiveness.

“No biggie, Cas.” He watched as Castiel reached out, and then gentle fingers were dancing across the purpled skin of his arm.

“I can’t believe I did that.” Castiel’s voice was quiet, but the emotion was still decipherable.

“It’s alright. I think I’ll live.” Dean may have gotten the sarcastic words out, but the tone was all wrong. Something about the gentle glide of the other man’s long fingers across his flesh was short circuiting his brain.

He found himself staring down into the oceans of Castiel’s eyes. Castiel’s face was unreadable at times, but his eyes always said so much. Now they said he was full of regret.

“I promise it’s not a problem. If I had been that worried about it, I would have told you to stop.” Although, the truth was, Dean hadn’t even realized at the time how hard those fingers must have been squeezing to leave a bruise like that.

It took him a moment to feel the eyes on his back, and then another to realize he was standing in front of Castiel, staring into his eyes, while the other man ran his fingers along his arm. That was already two moments too many. Plus, however many he’d already spent doing it before he’d clued in.

He pulled his arm out of Castiel’s grasp, pretending that he needed it to cough, and using the motions to not only escape from the situation, but also cover the blush that was no doubt trying to form. Damn, he was smooth.

Dean took his seat on the other end of the couch and proceeded to pretend like the whole thing had never happened for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Oh no, Baby . Dean sighed heartily as he ran his hand along the once smooth surface of his car. He’d known that the hail had gotten fairly large during the storm, but he hadn’t really had time to think about the damage he was likely to see. He’d been stuck in a closet with a bunch of people he’d somehow come to care for, even if half of the group were people he’d barely known more than a month. He’d been more worried about making sure they were all distracted and comfortable than he was about his car at the time. Of course, now that it was all over he didn’t have much else to think about.

Sam hadn’t even been giving him a hard time about it. He looked fittingly remorseful as he watched Dean analyze the damages.

The hood had taken the worst of it. Somehow, the wind must have been blowing toward the front of the car. The trunk looked remarkably untouched, but the roof was a bit of a mess. The windshield looked the worst. There were multiple points of contact, all with a spiderweb of cracks jutting out from the center. There was no way he’d be able to get away without replacing it.

The windshield was nothing though. It was an easy repair. He could even just call one of those big replacement companies and have them come out and fix it for nearly the same price that it would take him to try to do it himself. And they had that neat little arm that held the glass for them, so there would be no fingerprints when they were done. They probably had a fitting replacement on hand, and he could have it drive ready before the end of the day.

The real problem was going to be the body. Not because Dean didn’t know how to fix it. No, he’d had to fix dents that had been a lot worse than this before. Hell, both of the Winchester brothers had learned to drive in this car, and it wasn’t like they could afford to have someone else take the dents out back then. Not that they could afford it now. The trouble was the sheer number of dents he’d have to work out of the body.

The hail had not been kind to his baby, and the metal had not been at all forgiving. Luckily the sides didn’t seem to be too damaged, but the hood and the roof would take a considerable amount of work.

Dean sighed heavily again, and Sam finally spoke up from where he’d been watching Dean circle his poor car.

“What are you gunna do?” He asked it quietly, probably knowing that Dean was trying to work out a plan of action.

Dean let out a noise of frustration and ran a hand through his hair agitatedly.

“Remember that shop I took her to before that first storm hit? Even though that guy was a total dick about letting her stay there, I bet I can get him to let me use some of their tools. For a price, of course.” He knew they didn’t have a lot of extra cash, but he couldn’t just leave her looking the way she did.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. It’ll still cost less than paying someone else to do it.” Sam nodded in agreement to Dean’s idea.

“I know we don’t really have the money right now...” Dean tried not to make it sound like he was pleading with his brother, but he also didn’t want to hear Sam bitching about their tight budget for the next month or two.

“No, it’s alright. We can handle it.” Sam answered immediately. He sent Dean a small smile that said he wouldn’t be upset if they spent their tiny budget on fixing up the car.

Dean sent his brother a shining smile in response. Sam hassled him so often about the car, and occasionally Dean forgot that his brother was well aware of how important it actually was to him. But Sam knew, and wouldn’t hold it against him if he put the car in the priority spot for a while.

“Let’s call a few places and see if we can get the windshield fixed today. I’m going to need to drive her to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure driving with it like this is illegal.”



He didn’t have any time off for a couple of days, and he had to drive his baby around all beat up. It was a sad state of affairs, but he didn’t really have much choice. When he’d finally gotten the chance to go to the auto shop down the road, the guy working was predictably a dick about letting Dean fix up his own car. The amount he’d asked for to allow Dean to use his tools was almost as high as it would have been to pay someone else to do it.

It was not the first time Dean wished he could just drive up to Bobby’s salvage yard and use the tools he knew were there, and available to him anytime. Although the drive would be considerably longer now that they’d moved, and it wasn’t as if work would give him a few days off in a row to get his car fixed up. So, he’d have to work something out here in Texas.

He left that shop with a bad taste in his mouth and a Googled list of other auto shops in the area. They wouldn’t be nearly as convenient as that one was, but he had no desire to do anymore business with that asshole.

The next closest shop didn’t have a lot of potential, but Dean was going to try anyway. It was much smaller than the other one. It only had two bays, so the chances were fairly small that they’d allow Dean to take any of their space. He almost just continued driving to the next shop on the list, but something about the grumpy looking old man he spotted reminded him of Bobby, and he had to give the place a shot.

The guy was shoving a tire onto a car that looked like it had passed its prime about thirty years ago. It was the kind of car that could be found at Singer’s Salvage any day of the week. Dean waited patiently as the man finished tightening the lugnuts before he interrupted.

“What can I help you with, son?”

Dean grinned at the rough voice that had issued from the man. That familiar tone of this had better not be a waste of my time amused him as much as it did when Bobby used it..

“Well, sir, I was hoping I could talk to you about my car.” Dean knew enough about this type of guy that showing some respect would not go amiss.

The man glanced around Dean at Baby, giving a little nod of approval at the sight. Dean couldn’t help but think that they would get along just fine.



Although things hadn’t exactly gone the way Dean had planned, at least he’d found a way to get his car fixed up without having to break the bank to do it. Sam would probably be a bit upset about it, but it actually made more sense than paying to use someone else’s tools anyway.

By the time he’d gotten home he’d already worked out how he was going to tell his brother without causing too much of a scene. As expected, Sam was clacking away on his laptop when he walked in. The kid spent more time doing homework than he did sleeping.

“How’d it go?” The question came without even a pause in his typing.

“It was good. I worked out a deal with the old guy down by Main to let me use his tools.” Dean smiled and flopped down onto the couch.

“You didn’t go to the one right here?” Sam still hadn’t looked up from his screen.

“Nah, that guy was a real dick about it. I ended up down the other way at that little shop. The guy there reminded me so much of Bobby, it was unreal.”

Sam finally looked up from his laptop, one eyebrow raised in question. Dean couldn’t really blame him. Bobby was one of a kind.

“By that you mean cranky old mechanic?”

Dean huffed a laugh at the idea of Bobby having heard Sam describe him that way. He just grinned at his brother. “Yeah, pretty much.”

Sam shook his head in mild amusement. “So, how much is that guy asking for?”

Here was the part that Dean was almost dreading. Sam had a way of making him feel bad about the strangest things, and he had no doubt that this would be one of them.

“He said he didn’t want my money. He said if I knew enough about it to fix up my own car that he could use my help to fix up some others. The storm left a lot of damage on a lot of cars around here.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed as he analyzed that bit of information. It only took a second for him to come to a conclusion. Smart kid.

“He wants you to work it off?”

“Yeah, pretty much. I think it’s just him down there, and he wants me to help him with some of the other cars he’s got. So, it won’t cost us a dime to fix up Baby.”

The money factor should have been enough to make it seem like a deal to Sam, but it clearly wasn’t. His eyebrows dropped into that worried look he wore so well.

“So, now you’ll be working two jobs? You already work a lot, Dean.”

This was an argument that they’d had multiple times since moving. Dean didn’t want Sam to have to worry about anything but his school work, so he did what he had to to make that possible. He hated his job, but wouldn’t leave it because they needed the money it brought in. Sam was only upset because he thought Dean was living in misery for his sake.

“Yeah, but the difference is, I like working on cars. It’s relaxing. If I do this for a couple of hours every night then I’ll be nice and relaxed when I get home.”

All of those things were technically true. Working on cars was relaxing. He could let his mind wander or beat the crap out of some rusty old piece of metal for a couple of hours and it could calm him right down. Although, it was a little less relaxing when he had a deadline and a customer to please. Sammy didn’t need to know that.

“Dean, I don’t want you to work yourself to death. We can afford to spend a little money on fixing up the car. We can work it out.” Sam said it as if he knew Dean was exaggerating, which was all kinds of irritating. The worst part about being so close to his brother was the way Sam could read him so well.

“I really want to do this, Sam. I don’t want to eat ramen and macaroni and cheese for the next two months. And it’s not like I don’t enjoy working on cars. It’s only temporary.” He resolutely didn’t think any thoughts about what it would be like to have a little extra money around. He didn’t need Sam picking up on that. Besides, it wasn’t like the guy was promising Dean a long term job anyway. He could cross that bridge when he came to it.

Sam sighed in that defeated way he had when he didn’t feel like arguing his point any longer. “How long?”

“Just until the end of the month.” Dean promised.

The suspicion on his brother’s face said he didn’t believe that, but the knock on the door saved Dean from whatever else he might have said on the subject.

“I’ll get it!” Dean practically ran to the door to avoid his brother.

Castiel was at their door again, a very sheepish looking Gabriel standing behind him. This time though, there were no sirens to announce their imminent arrival. Although, Castiel still looked spooked. But the sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky, so what could he be worried about?

“Hey, guys.” Dean greeted them with a smile, happy to see them without the regular excuse.

“Hello, Dean.” Castiel offered his usual greeting.

“What’s up?”

Gabriel looked incredibly uncomfortable, but answered the question anyway. “Castiel saw the gas station and the hardware store up the street.”

Well, it was all beginning to make sense now. The buildings in question were not too far from their apartment complex, and after the storm that had passed through a couple days ago, they could more accurately be described as rubble.

“Damn it. I told you not to go looking down there!” Dean stepped aside to allow the two men into the apartment.

“I know, I know. I guess curiosity got the best of us.” Gabriel sounded just guilty enough that it might be assumed that it was his idea.

“Dude. That is literally the last thing you need to see. Either of you.” Dean made a point to include Gabriel. Maybe he’d been better at playing it cool before, but they’d witnessed his true feelings about the storms now, and it wasn’t going to be forgotten so easily.

“Well…” Gabriel looked like he was searching for an excuse that would make it seem less ridiculous that he’d searched out the destruction of the storm. “To be honest, I didn’t think it would be that bad. I figured it might help if we could see what was really going on.”

The two men sat together on the couch, perhaps a little closer together than they usually would. Yeah, they were a bit freaked out.

Dean just glared at them. “I specifically said not to look at it. Did you think I said that for shits and giggles? Seriously!” He threw his arms out in a gesture of frustration.

He was sure they made quite the picture. The Novaks were almost huddled together on the couch, twin looks of contrition on their faces, with Dean standing over them, irritation clear on his face. It likely looked like a parent scolding his children.

“Sorry, Dean.” They both said, at nearly the same time, completing the picture.

“Do you understand, now, why I didn’t want you to see that?” Dean forced a reasonable tone, trying to push the image from his mind.

“Yes.” They spoke at the same time again.

“Stop doing that!” Dean snapped, done with playing dad.

“Sorry.” Gabriel and Castiel looked at each other after that one and smiled.

“Alright you two. Don’t get kicked out.” He threatened.

Neither of them said anything, so Dean figured he’d won, finally.

“So, did you just come here to admit to going up there, or did you want something from us?” Dean threw a glance at his brother, who was busy trying not to look like he was highly amused by the scene in his livingroom. Traitor.

“I just wanted to know how you guys are always so calm during the storms. After seeing that, and knowing that you are aware of their destruction, how are you not worse than we were?”

Dean sighed. That was not an easy explanation. He was sure, at some point, he’d probably been scared of the storms, too. What had made his fear go away?

“You can feel the difference. When you get used to the storms being around all of the time, you can feel the difference between the regular ones and the ones you should worry about.”

The two men on the couch looked confused, so Dean took a seat on the arm rest closest to him. The one right next to Castiel, but that was not important.

“Try to remember that night. Didn’t the air feel different or something? Like… I don’t know. Heavier?” Trying to describe a gut feeling was hard. Actually, feelings in general are hard.

The Novaks seemed to be trying to remember. Or maybe they were trying not to make Dean feel like a nutjob.

“Sam? You got some input here?”

Sam glanced at the two men on the couch, and then up at Dean.

“That’s pretty much the only way to describe it. Like, when there’s lightning and thunder, and even hail, it never feels the same as when there is a tornado nearby.”

At least Sam was on the same page with the feeling thing. He was doing just as well as Dean had at describing it, though.

“So, this is something that you have to develop? Like a sixth sense about the storms?” Castiel asked, clearly not happy with the sound of that.

“I don’t think so. Like, you’ll probably be able to feel it in the next storm.” Sam said, clearly still trying to think of a better way to describe it. “I mean, the difference. Now that you’ve been through the real thing.”

“Yeah. By the time the next storm comes, you might not even have to come down and hang out in our closet.” Dean said it as a joke, even shooting a small smile to Castiel.

He didn’t really understand the sour feeling of disappointment that settled into his stomach immediately afterward. He was even more confused with the feeling that shot through him when Castiel sent him a look of sincere doubt. Why did that make him so happy?

Chapter Text

Sam may not have been the smartest man in the world, but he knew enough. He knew that making friends was important; social interaction was a basic human need. He knew that some people needed to be more social, while others didn’t need it as often. Extroverted personality types, like Gabriel and Dean, needed near constant social interaction for their happiness, while introverts, like Castiel and himself, could thrive with barely any at all. What he didn’t know was how their little group worked out so well.

It would stand to reason that Dean and Gabriel would be good friends. They both enjoyed being around others. They had similar interests and ideas of fun. They would go to the closest bar, on occasion, and play pool and drink. When they got home, Dean would tell Sam stories of all the good times he’d missed out on.

Dean and Gabriel were in the same boat. The older brothers that were trying to make sure their siblings were taken care of by working jobs they didn’t seem to care much for in order to make sure there was food on the table and a roof over their heads. They seemed to lead very similar lives. So, they understood each other, and they got along well. All of this made perfect sense to Sam.

What didn’t make sense was how Dean clearly favored the company of Castiel, anyway. Castiel, the grumpy introvert. How was it that his brother, who had every reason in the world to want to spend time with Gabriel, seemed to search for reasons to spend time with Castiel, instead? It was one of life’s great mysteries. One that Sam intended to figure out.

Not that Castiel wasn’t interesting, in his own way. He was incredibly intelligent, at times making even Sam feel like his knowledge wasn’t up to snuff, which didn’t happen often. He had a wide variety of interests and an overwhelming understanding of each of them. It was as if he’d never run out of facts about any one subject. The guy had to have spent his entire life with his head in a book.

But, most of the time, Castiel was serious. Dean told more jokes in a five minute conversation than most people told in an entire day. The best part was that Castiel never seemed to understand Dean’s jokes. Castiel spent most of his time with a slightly confused look on his face, while Sam rolled his eyes, and Gabriel and Dean laughed about whatever nonsense his brother was spewing.

Castiel’s sense of humor was very dry. He joked with them, but it wasn’t a frequent occurrence. He deadpanned his jokes so accurately that it was hard to tell when he was joking. Dean had picked up on the whole thing easier than Sam, which was surprising. Most of the time Dean’s laughter at Castiel’s jokes was the only way Sam even caught on that it was, indeed, a joke.

On top of all this, Castiel seemed quite content to never leave his apartment, unless he had to. Even Sam had given in and joined the others for a night on the town a couple of times, but Castiel seemed to have no interest in those things. He seemed perfectly content to spend all of his time holed up in his home. As if the time they spent with the Winchesters, approximately once a week, was enough social interaction to satisfy him.

He was like the antithesis of Dean. So, what was it that appealed to his brother?

The weirdest part of the whole thing was that Dean had never before had a friend like Castiel. He’d always surrounded himself with people that were like him. Even Charlie, Dean’s best friend back home. She was a huge nerd, but the most social nerd you’ve ever met in your life. And not even the internet kind of social. She spent her weekends LARPing, and going to renaissance faires, and generally being around large groups of other nerds.

Sure, he’d had a couple of more introverted friends, but never even close to the extent that Castiel was. Maybe that was part of the appeal. Maybe Castiel was a mystery that Dean needed to figure out.



Watching the way that Dean and Castiel interacted turned out to be a lot more entertaining than Sam had ever imagined it would be. He’d invited the Novaks over for dinner, even though there were no scheduled storms. His new mission had less to do with trying to help out a friend, and more to do with just figuring out what was going on.

Dean made one of his fantastic meals. Even though he had been working two jobs, he somehow still found the time to make gourmet meals for these occasions. Sam had no idea how he was doing it. With the way school was going, Sam was likely to forget to shower. He tried to take a little weight off of his brother’s shoulders, and offered to help with the cooking, but Dean would have none of it. He kicked Sam out of the kitchen and told him to get some of his homework done before their guests arrived instead.

By the time the Novaks showed up, Sam had been able to finish an essay that wasn’t even due until next week, and the smells coming from the kitchen were bordering on heavenly. Sam answered the door with a smile, and quickly ushered the men into the livingroom.

“Oh my god, that smells amazing.” Gabriel gushed, nearly drooling. Not that Sam could blame him. He wasn’t exaggerating. “I am so glad that you guys adopted us. Cas and I can’t cook anything worth eating.”

The grimace on Castiel’s face said that he agreed with his brother’s assessment. “And the food here is always excellent.”

“Oh, stop. You’re making me blush!” Dean popped out of the kitchen with a beer in hand and propped himself onto the nearest armrest. He was not blushing, but his grin said that he had taken the comment as very high praise indeed.

“Did you bring enough of those for the rest of the class?” Gabriel asked, indicating Dean’s beer. He had never been shy about asking for what he wanted, which was actually one of the things the Winchesters liked about him. Some might consider it rude, but they were pretty straightforward people.

“There’s more in the fridge. Your legs ain’t broken.” Dean waved an absent hand in the direction of the kitchen.

Sam’s eyebrows raised. That sounded like an answer he would give Sam, not a guest. Dean was a consummate host, something that had never failed to amuse Sam. He seemed to like serving guests. When Dean saw Sam’s reaction, he went on to explain.

“I think you guys hang around here enough that you’re not really guests anymore. And when you graduate to friends, you have to get your own beers. Sorry.” Dean said with a shrug. And that was true, too. Charlie had gotten so close that people thought she lived with them at their old home. She had a key and everything. She would just walk in, dig through the fridge, and eat all their junk food. It had never really bothered Sam, though. She had always been good at buying them a bunch to replace it with when she had the money.

“Well, crap. How do I un-graduate?” Even as he asked, Gabriel was heading toward the kitchen.

“Too late! There’s no going back now.” Dean said smugly, throwing a smile at Castiel as he stole Gabriel’s seat on the couch next to him. “You want a beer, Cas?”

“Yes, please.” Castiel smiled back at him. He didn’t even seem offended that Dean was sitting so close to him.

“Hey, Gabe! Grab your brother a beer while you’re in there!” Dean yelled toward the kitchen with the most ridiculous grin on his face.

“What!? His legs aren’t broken either!” Came the petulant reply.

“Geez, Gabe. It’s called being polite.”



They spent dinner with Dean sandwiched between the Novaks on the couch, while Sam got to take the lone chair. He felt a little bad that he always ended up in the chair, not having to share his space with anyone else, but he was too large to sit on the couch with two other fully grown men and anyone be comfortable. At least with this seating arrangement they were only a little bit too close for comfort.

Actually, the seating situation turned out to be exactly what Sam needed. Although, the observations he was able to make only served to confuse him further.

Dean just seemed so comfortable with Castiel. Dean didn’t seem to mind sharing his space with the other man at all. Not that there was much space to begin with, but the gap between Dean and Gabriel was clearly larger than the one between him and Castiel.

When Castiel leaned forward to place his plate on the coffee table, he used Dean’s arm to balance. Then, Dean used Castiel’s knee for leverage to push himself up from the couch when he went to take the dishes to the kitchen. It was almost as if they were finding excuses to touch each other unconsciously.

It was a sign of Dean’s fondness, actually. He was a very tactile person, and had always had an easier time of showing his feelings through touch. Sam was able to express himself in words, but Dean hadn’t been that lucky. It had taken him a while to decipher his brother’s language, but now he knew what it meant when his brother pat him proudly on the back, or punched his shoulder when he was picking on Sam and didn’t want him to take it too seriously. He knew his brother loved him every time Dean tried to bear hug the air out of his lungs whenever they spent any significant amount of time away from each other.

The question was, how was Dean so partial toward Castiel already? Of course, Castiel acted a little bit like a child when he was afraid of the storms, and Dean had the protective instincts of a mother hen. Dean didn’t know much about comforting others, but he did what he could. So, a comforting hand would not seem out of place. But that didn’t explain the touching when there was no fear, though.

And it wasn’t as if he reacted any differently when Gabriel touched him. He didn’t jump out of the other man’s grasp or anything. So, what was it that made Sam think it was different with Castiel?



They were staring at each other, again. Since Sam had started his study of Dean’s odd behavior around Castiel, he had noticed that this was kind of a theme. Did they have some kind of silent communication that only they could hear?

Dean wasn’t really the type to develop that kind of deep understanding of another person. Sure, he and Sam could communicate that way when they needed to, but they had been very close as children, and it had only gotten worse since. It was understandable; they had spent nearly their entire lives together. Was it possible that Dean was really coming to understand Castiel that well?

That didn’t seem possible, though. They had only known each other for a short amount of time. It wasn’t even as if they spent a lot, or even any, time alone. How could they have managed to get that close with Sam and Gabriel there to hear and see all of the same things they had? Dean spent more time with Gabriel than Castiel, anyway. And they didn’t seem to have silent communication.

There was a tiny little niggle in the back of his mind that had been telling him there was something else going on here. He didn’t know what it was trying to get him to find, though. It was as if there was something right in front of him that refused to be acknowledged. And then it happened, and everything fell into place in his mind.

The staring had gotten to the point that he felt the need to cough or something to distract them. Before he could, he saw Dean’s eyes flick down to Castiel’s lips, just briefly, and then his tongue swept out to moisten his own.

Sam was honestly gobsmacked at the action. He remembered suddenly, when he’d seen Dean behave like this before. Back in middle school, when he’d had a crush on Rhonda Hurley. Way back when Dean had never even kissed a girl before. He’d acted this exact same way. As if he was imagining kissing her, but also the kick to the balls he might get if he attempted it.

Now he was looking at Castiel the same way.

Sam’s entire world was tilting on it’s axis. He had never seen Dean look at a guy like that before. Sure, the guy was a little too fond of Dr. Sexy, but Sam had never had reason to think he was actually interested in men.

So, that’s what this whole thing was all about. Dean had been showing all of the signs of attraction, and Sam hadn’t been able to pick up on it because they were directed toward a man. Did that make him closed-minded? Or was it understandable, since he’d never seen his brother attracted to another man before?

Sam suddenly got a flashback of a time when their gay friend Aaron had said something that sounded like a come on toward Dean, and his brother had reacted so foolishly that they’d all made fun of him for weeks. And another time when they had been at the police station, bailing Charlie out after a huge mix up about weapons on her way to a Renaissance faire. The male officer behind the desk had smiled oddly at Dean, and he’d turned into a flustered mess. Sam had thought that Dean was just uncomfortable around cops, but maybe his brother had always been attracted to men, and had just been in denial the whole time.

Sam had been too blind to see it before. He had made fun of his brother for acting strange and just laughed off all of these weird occurrences. He’d been a terrible brother not to have picked up on this sooner. That was all about to change though.

College was when you were supposed to experiment with these types of curiosities, and although Dean had chosen not to go to college, Sam wasn’t going to let that stop him. It didn’t hurt that he couldn’t really think of a better candidate than Castiel. He was the kind of level headed person that could even Dean’s personality out a little bit, and had the kind of quick wit he’d need to keep Dean on his toes.

Now, Sam would just have to watch for signs that Castiel was interested, too. He didn’t want to push his brother toward Castiel until he knew for sure that the other man would be receptive toward his advances. It would not help Dean come to terms with this side of himself if the first guy he went after turned him down.

Chapter Text

Dean and Sam had been living in Texas for over a year, and Dean had gotten used to it. He was used to getting off work and spending his nights hanging out with his brother while Sam tried to finish up his homework for the day. He was used to Sam being his main source of social interaction, with the exception of the phone calls that he still made home to his friends. But that didn’t seem to be enough anymore.

Apparently, now that they had made friends with their neighbors, he had also gotten used to getting out of the house more than the few occasions he could convince Sam to go with him. Going out with Gabriel on the weekends had become an almost regular thing, but with Dean working two jobs he didn’t have the time nor the energy to head to the bar with Gabriel anymore.

It certainly didn’t help that the Novaks hadn’t been over to their apartment in almost two weeks, either. It was yet another thing he’d somehow gotten accustomed to, that hadn’t been disrupting the monotony of his life lately. The weather had, somehow, decided that it wanted to stay steady for a while, and there had been nothing but sunshine.

Their neighbors had been over a couple of weeks ago for dinner, even when there hadn’t been a storm. Sam had invited them over just for some free food and company. It had been nice, and, even though Dean had been working both jobs, he had still found the time to cook for all of them. But Sam wasn’t really a social butterfly, and he hadn’t extended anymore random invitations.

Actually, Dean had been surprised that he had done it the first time. Sam seemed fairly content to spend most of his time with his laptop, only coming out of his homework bubble when Dean convinced him to. Not only had it been strange when his brother had opted to be uncharacteristically sociable that day, but he’d been acting strangely ever since. He kept looking at Dean like he was a puzzle that Sam had to figure out.

So, if Sam wasn’t going to provide him with external social interaction, Dean supposed he’d have to do it himself. It was his last week working at the shop, so he would be coming into a whole lot more free time, and he knew who he’d like to spend some of that time with.

He made his way outside, debating with himself whether it was weird to just go upstairs and knock on the door to invite them to dinner. It had been two weeks since the last time he’d seen them, and for some reason Dean felt strange knocking on their door to invite them over. On the other hand, it had been two weeks of never being outside at the same time, and if he wanted to invite them over he couldn’t just hope that the pattern would change just because he wanted it to.

At least he’d come up with an excuse to have people over. It was about to be his last day working two jobs, and that seemed like as good a reason as any to celebrate. Hell, it seemed like a real genuine cause for celebration.

Dean felt like it was a step outside of his comfort zone to invite the other men over, but he didn’t really understand why. He’d never been so shy about making plans with friends before, and he didn’t know why it was happening now. He pushed his trepidation aside and made his way upstairs.

He took a deep breath before he knocked, trying to calm his nerves. The door swung open only seconds later, and a pair of bright blue eyes met his. He forced out his usual confident grin, and was graced with a smile in return.

“Hello, Dean.”

“Hey, Cas. What'cha up to?” Dean leaned against the railing around the entrance platform, as casually as he could.

“I’m just finishing my homework. Would you like to come in?” Castiel made to step back and allow him access, but Dean just waved a dismissive hand at him.

“Nah, I’ve got to head to the shop. I was just coming up to see what you guys are doing on friday night.”

Castiel looked thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t believe we have anything planned.”

“Well, what would you say to some free dinner? It’s my last week working two jobs, and I’d like to celebrate.” He realized he was trying to sell Castiel on the idea, and shut himself up.

“Will you be cooking?” The other man asked, as if he thought Dean was inviting them out to a restaurant. He didn’t look too excited by the idea.

“Of course.”

Castiel’s smile returned at that, and he nodded. “Dean, I can confidently say that we would eat anything made by you, any time. I’ll let Gabriel know we have plans on friday.”

Dean blushed before he could help himself. He knew he was a good cook, but it was one of the few things he wasn’t very good at taking compliments about.

“Well, alright then.” He coughed into his hand in an effort to hide his discomfort. It didn’t seem to work, as the smile on Castiel’s face spread. “I guess I’ll see you on friday, then.”

“Would you like us to bring anything?” Castiel asked in that awkward way he did when he was doing something he thought he was supposed to, but didn’t come naturally to him. It caused Dean to grin up at him again.

“Nope, I’ve got it covered. Just bring yourselves.” He stood there grinning at the other man for a few moments before he realized he was being awkward. “Well, uh, anyway… I’ll see you friday. I better head to work.”

He gave the other man a little wave that he immediately kicked himself for. Why did he have to be so weird around Castiel?

“We’ll see you then.” Castiel offered a small smile before Dean turned away to walk back down the stairs. As soon as he heard the door close behind him he sighed. What the hell was wrong with him? When had he become so awkward?



It was the end of his time at the shop, and he found that he was actually going to miss it. Yeah, it sucked working two jobs, but the rapport he’d developed with the old man had made him feel closer to home than anything else had since they’d moved. Ken was grumpy and uncooperative, even scaring away customers at times, but he was exactly what Dean needed. It was hard to find people that were so real. He didn’t care if his attitude put people off, and he was stubborn enough not to change, even if it meant losing business. It was an attitude Dean could certainly get behind.

He had even taking to being the face that the customers actually saw when they came in. He’d found himself doing more of the customer service than he’d originally intended, but he also found that he didn’t mind it as much as he thought he would. The quality of work that he and Ken put out was so high that he’d yet to have to deal with an irate customer.

Even the pricing for their work couldn’t be argued. No one else in the area was willing to do work at the low prices that Ken was quoting people. It helped that his shop was smaller, and older. The bills were lower, and Ken didn’t have to worry about paying any employees. He could pretty much just charge whatever he thought the work was worth.

The atmosphere at the shop was so different from any of the other places that Dean had ever worked, and he found that he was truly going to miss it. Even if it was going to free up a lot of his time.

“Your last day, huh?” Ken asked as Dean ambled out into the bay. He was replacing the brakes on an old Thunderbird that Dean had every intention of doing the test drive on afterward. The thing had a huge 5.0 engine in it, and even if it wasn’t the best looking car around, it would be a joy to drive.

“Looks like it.” Dean glanced over at Baby, parked up by the road. She was back to mint condition, although it had taken longer than he’d thought to get her there. He’d been busy with helping Ken around the shop, and so exhausted by the end of the day he’d had to work on her in smaller increments than he’d originally planned. Added to the fact that a hundred tiny dents took more effort to get out than one larger one. But she was perfect once again.

“Well, I can’t say I won’t miss having you around.” Ken said gruffly from inside the wheelwell. The admission shocked Dean, but the way the other man was concentrating so hard on the brake lines made more sense, then. He found himself grinning at that predictable nature.

He turned his own attention toward prying open the caliper on the other wheel. “Yeah, I’ll miss it here too.”

They worked in near silence as they tag teamed the brake change. It was mindless work, and they usually would have tried to out sarcasm each other to keep themselves entertained, but after their awkward admissions they chose silence instead. The work was done with only the quiet cursing that comes along with trying to get rusty old car parts to come apart.

“You almost done over there? I’ll take her out for a test drive when you get that other wheel on.”

“Like hell! I wanted to take her out! You don’t even know how to properly test a beast like this!”

“My shop, my test drive. You think I can trust some punk kid to handle an engine this big?”

“Well, I just wouldn’t want you to break a hip or anything, old man.”

They grinned at each other, happy to be back on the sure footing of their regular repartee.

“Alright, alright. That’s enough out of you.” Ken waved a dismissive hand. “Test her out, and I’ll do the paperwork. That’s the only job I have right now, anyway.”

Dean tried not to let his sadness seep in as he put his tire back on. This was his last job here? He didn’t expect that his last day would have been cut so short.

“Meet me in the office when you’re done.” He heard Ken say before the sound of the door closing.

He tightened the lug nuts in the required star pattern before lowering the wheels back onto the shop floor. The knowledge that this was his last car was enough that the what should have been a fun test drive was just another car.

He made his way into the shop, hanging the keys on the appropriate hook, before making his way back to the office. Ken was sitting behind the desk, and the sight was odd enough that Dean suddenly found he didn’t know what to do with himself. He’d never seen Ken behind a desk, and of all his time working here, this was the first time it felt like the man was his boss.

“Listen, Dean.” Ken started, but didn’t really seem to know what to say after that. Instead he leaned forward, pushing a rectangle of paper across his desk. Dean would have had to be an idiot not to know that it was a check, but for what his mind couldn’t fathom.

“You’re a hard worker, son, and the work that you’ve done for me these last few weeks has been worth a lot more than the price of using my tools to fix up your old rust bucket.”

Dean would have been properly insulted at the horrible misrepresentation of his Baby, if he hadn’t been in so much shock. He knew the insult was the only way Ken knew how to keep the awkwardness out of the situation, but he couldn’t even bring himself to respond properly.

He leaned forward to take the check off the desk and couldn’t believe his eyes. In his hands was a check for five hundred dollars.

“What, no. Ken, this was not part of our agreement.” Five hundred dollars was not a small amount for a shop like this that took small jobs and charged barely above cost. Dean placed the check back onto the desk, shaking his head.

“Look, Dean. I have gotten probably three times the amount of work done this month than I usually do. You’ve done more than your share of that work. And I probably would have lost about half of those customers if you hadn’t been there to smooth talk them. You know I don’t have the people skills necessary for the customer service side of this business.” The look on the older man’s face said he would not be taking no for an answer on this, but Dean still felt like he was taking advantage if he took the check.

Whatever look was on his face had the older man sighing as if he knew what was on Dean’s mind. “I want you to know, there’s always a job here for you, if you want it.”

And Dean was blindsided again.

“I could really use the help. Even when I don’t have a pretty boy to bring in the customers, there a lot of times when there is too much work for just me to handle. I can’t guarantee a stable paycheck, and I know that you have responsibilities. Just think about it, and let me know.” Ken got up from the desk abruptly and headed out the door, effectively ending the conversation.

Dean found himself just staring down at the check on the desk, his mind in a whirl. Ken was offering him a real job here. Where he could work on cars all day, instead of sitting behind a desk. God, it sounded like heaven.

Ken’s gruff voice yelled from the waiting room outside the office, startling Dean out of his own head.

“And you better cash that god damned check!” The sound of the door to the shop slammed closed behind him.

Dean grinned wryly before taking the slip off the desk. Five hundred bucks was going to go a long way toward comfort in their simple lives.



Dean had a lot to think about. He’d have to talk to his brother, and he’d have to decide if it was worth giving up a steady paycheck for something he actually enjoyed. It sounded like such an easy choice, but if he’d learned anything in his life it was that nothing was ever easy. He still had a responsibility to make sure that Sam was well taken care of.

He stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up some things for dinner. His original plan had been something simple. Something he knew everyone would enjoy, but wouldn’t break the bank. The knowledge that he had that extra money in his pocket convinced him to choose something a little more extravagant.

He couldn’t have been happier that none of his guests were vegetarian when he spotted the thickest steaks he’d ever seen. There was no way he would buy something like that normally, but this dinner was supposed to be a celebration. He would no longer be working two jobs, either way it went. He’d earned some extra money, unexpectedly, and that was another thing to celebrate.

He Googled some side dishes that could be served with the steak, and got to work grabbing fresh ingredients that could only make the meal better. He even got a couple of bottles of wine to go with it. He was going all out, even if it was only for one meal. He’d earned it, and even if his guests (and Sammy) would be reaping the benefits; well, that was just one more thing for him to be happy about.



He hadn’t really planned to talk to Sam about his job offer while the Novaks were over, it just sort of slipped out. Dean guessed it was inevitable, really. They were celebrating his last day of working two jobs. Everyone kept asking him if he was going to miss the shop, and he found he didn’t really want to lie about it. He didn’t want to just placate them with lies about being happy to just be working behind a desk again.

“Actually… Ken offered me more of a full time position at the shop.” He stared down at his food, pushing his potatoes around into different shapes instead of looking at their faces. He didn’t need to look to know that all other movement had stopped. The silence said enough.

“Dean, you promised the two job thing was only temporary.” Sam sounded upset, as Dean had known he would be.

“I promised you that I would only be working two jobs temporarily. I never said which job I would be leaving.” Dean finally lifted his eyes to look at his brother. Sam’s face was a mixture of confusion and irritation.

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’ve been thinking about which of my two jobs I would rather keep now that my time is up.”

Sam still looked confused, but it looked like realization was dawning on the Novaks.

“You want to quit your other job.” Castiel stated, making Sam’s attention swing his direction.

Dean rushed to explain, now that it was out in the open. “I know it’s not steady work. There’s no telling how much work will be coming into the shop at any given time. Sometimes I’ll get a bigger paycheck, but sometimes I’ll be getting a much smaller paycheck. It won’t be an hourly paycheck anymore, I’ll only be getting paid for the work that I get done.”

The pained look on Sam’s face made him realize he was only saying the bad side of what would happen if he chose to stay at the shop.

“But… the work is much more challenging. Hanging out with Ken is almost like being back home, with Bobby. I get to wear my street clothes, and I don’t have to shave every damn day. And I get to be active, instead of sitting behind a desk, pushing paper around and trying to look busy all day.”

There was silence for a moment before Castiel spoke again.

“You would enjoy working at the shop more.” He always said things with a confidence that he knew what he was talking about. Dean knew that the surprise on Sam’s face at the comment was mirrored on his own face.

“Well, yeah.” Dean admitted, even while his mind was trying to work out how Castiel had been able to figure him out with his inability to effectively communicate. That calculating look crossed Sam’s face again. The one that he had taken to wearing since the last time the Novaks had been over for dinner.

“Well, what’s the problem?” Gabriel asked, confused. “If you want to work at the shop, what’s stopping you?” And it was clear that he honestly couldn’t see the problem.

“It won’t be steady income! One month we could be eating like this...” Dean waved his hand at the extravagant meal they had just demolished. “And the next we could be living off of ramen. I fucking hate ramen.”

The silence reigned across the table again, and Dean hated knowing that he had effectively ruined the good time they’d all been having.

“It’ll be better to just stay where I am.” He reached forward for his glass of wine, the punctuation to the end of that conversation.

“What? No! That’s stupid. Who cares about the money?” Sam’s outburst was sudden and unexpected.

“Dude, the rent here is cheap, but it ain’t free. And it’s not like we can write home begging our parents to send us some money when we can’t pay it.”

Sam’s face darkened a bit, like it usually did when Dean reminded him that they were completely on their own here. “I don’t know when you decided that it was only your job to make sure the bills got paid, but I am perfectly capable of contributing if it’s needed.”

“Oh hell no. You have school.” Dean put his foot down on that.

“Dean, that desk job makes you miserable. If you don’t quit, I’m going to quit for you. And don’t think I won’t.” Then Sam’s face brightened. “It’s about to be summer break anyway. I won’t have school, and I can get a summer job if I need to help out. You’ll have a three month cushion to figure out if the shop will work out or not.”

Sam apparently decided that was the end of the conversation, because he grabbed his empty plate and headed for the kitchen.

Dean could only imagine what the look on his face was, because Gabriel grabbed his own plate before following after Sam. “I’ll talk to him.” He said under his breath as he passed Dean, leaving him alone with Castiel in the living room. At least Gabriel would be able to see it from Dean’s point of view and try to talk some sense into Sammy. Hopefully.

“He just wants you to be happy.” Castiel said, as soon as Gabriel was out of earshot.

“I get that, but I don’t want him worrying about money. He’s got enough to worry about right now.” Dean gripped his wine glass like a lifeline.

“Right now, he’s more worried about how miserable you are at your current job.” Castiel raised his eyebrows in a way that said he knew what he was talking about, and Dean supposed he would know better than most. If Dean had Gabriel to try to make Sam see his side, then Sam had Castiel to help Dean see things from the other side.

Dean dropped his eyes down to the glass he was holding. He really did want to work at the shop, but he didn’t really want to mess up the steady life they had developed since they’d moved to Texas. It was working the way it was, and he didn’t really see a reason to change. But he truly was miserable at his desk job, and the job offer at the shop was so tempting.

A hand dropped onto his knee, snapping his attention back up to the man beside him. Castiel was wearing a soft smile that made his heart jump a little in his chest.

“I have been offered a position tutoring high school students in the area, and I have every intention of earning the extra money that we need. Gabriel doesn’t want me to work either, so I have scheduled all of my sessions for times that he will be at work.”

Dean didn’t really know what that had to do with the information, and he was a bit distracted by the fact that Castiel’s hand was still resting on his knee. Castiel’s smile spread a little at the look of confusion on his face.

“I’m telling you this because no matter what you say, Sam is going to do what he feels he needs to. If he thinks that getting a job is going to allow you to do what you want, he will do it, no matter what you say.” Castiel paused as if he was letting that sink in. “So, perhaps you should give this other job a chance. You don’t even know if it will work out until you try.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right about that.” Dean conceded, although he was upset at the idea that Sam might go behind his back to find a job. He’d rather it if they could be honest with each other.

“Sam wasn’t lying about this being the perfect time, either. You guys have three months to get back into a stable place if it doesn’t work out.”

The steady confidence that Castiel had while he convinced Dean to see things his way was clearly working. Dean was having a hard time even coming up with an argument against the other man’s words. As much as he hated the idea of Sam having to help out if things didn’t turn out the way he hoped they would, he knew that this was an opportunity that was as close to perfect as he could have hoped for.

A sharp intake of breath from the direction of the kitchen caught both men’s attention. Gabriel was staring at them, his expression the picture of shock. It wasn’t until this moment that Dean realized how he and Castiel were arranged.

They were closer to each other than they had been when there was a third person there, forcing them into close proximity. Castiel’s hand was still resting on Dean’s leg, and they were practically staring into each other’s eyes. Dean would have liked to say the staring was a battle of wills, but it hadn’t really felt that way. Castiel hadn’t been trying to force Dean into his way of thinking. He’d been coaxing Dean into making his own realizations about what this job could mean for not only his own happiness, but Sam’s as well.

Castiel drew away from Dean as he also seemed to realize the position they were in. Gabriel’s attention was obviously making Castiel as uncomfortable as it made Dean.

“Gabe, help me grab the rest of these dishes.” Sam commanded, sending Gabriel a significant look that Dean couldn't decipher. He hadn’t even noticed when Sam had joined them in the living room.

“Yeah.” Gabriel answered. His tone sounded off, and he didn’t move from his spot, rooted to the floor. Sam gave him a little shove as he walked passed with his own stack of dishes that seemed to push him out of whatever world he’d slipped into. “Yeah, Sam, I’d love to help with the dishes.”

Something in his tone told Dean that they were more likely escaping to the kitchen to talk, than do the dishes. A slightly awkward silence fell on the livingroom when they were gone, although the sounds of dishes clanging and the water running could still be heard clearly.

“So, do you think you’ll take the job?” Castiel asked him quietly, breaking the silence.

Dean met his gaze again. That hopeful look in his eyes matched the one Sam usually used, and Dean was defenseless.

“Yeah, I think I will.”

Chapter Text

The sky had been overcast all day. The clouds were growing thicker and darker as the day wore on. It wasn’t really a surprise when the weather alert sounded on Dean’s phone. What was a bit surprising was the happiness that shot up his spine, and the grin that spread across his face at the sound.

Glancing down at his phone, he saw the severe thunderstorm warning and it made his smile grow. At least he wasn’t going to have to come up with an excuse to have the Novaks over, even though they had been over just last week. He could really use the cheering up that came with seeing his new friends.

He’d decided to quit his desk job to work for the shop, and every day he spent behind a computer now felt like torture. He didn’t want to burn any bridges in this town, so he had done the responsible thing and turned in a two weeks notice. After submitting that piece of paper, however, the job that he’d been mostly content with, for over a year now, felt like actual hell.

He was certain it had more to do with his daydreaming about no longer being there than the work actually getting worse. That didn’t change the fact that he was at least ten times more miserable there than he had ever been before. The idea of a belly full of good food and a house full of people for the night would certainly go a long way towards brightening his mood.

He shot a quick text to Sam to invite their neighbors down for dinner if he saw them first, and fervently hoped that would be the case. He still couldn’t wrap his head around why he was so shy about asking the other men if they wanted to hang out, and he hoped to avoid that awkwardness altogether. Castiel’s reaction to his last invite had been nothing but positive, and still he felt oddly nervous about doing it again.

 

***

 

By the time his workday was over, Dean was able to work out a plan of action. He didn’t even have to stop at the store to make the meal he had planned. The storm wasn’t due to hit town for a couple of hours, either, so he had plenty of time. He hadn’t received a text back confirming that Sam had invited their neighbors down, though.

When he got home the Novak’s little green Fiesta was nowhere to be found, which meant that Gabriel was still at work. The guy didn’t seem to have any kind of set schedule. Some days he got home around the same time that Dean did, and other nights his car still hadn’t been home when Dean had gotten off work at his second job. Both of the Novaks had expressed a dislike for the Gabriel’s outrageous hours.

He pulled into his regular spot, popping the trunk to get the cover. He might as well get that accomplished, even though a quick look at the sky confirmed that the storm was still a good distance away. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about it while making dinner. And if Gabriel came home while he was outside, he wouldn’t have to knock on their door to invite them over, and that would be alright by him. Dean never seemed to have that kind of luck, though.

He had almost gotten the car completely covered when the door to the apartment upstairs opened. Castiel stepped out, his attention already on Dean.

He gave the other man a little wave and went back to hooking the rest of the cover down with bungee cords. When Castiel reached the end of the stairs, he stopped right in front of the car.

“Hello, Dean.”

“Hey, Cas.” Dean felt a smile spread across his face in automatic response. “What’s up?”

“I just wanted to talk to you.” He said, but didn’t seem to have anything to follow up with.

“Alright.” Dean couldn’t help but grin at him. The other man’s social awkwardness was one of Dean’s favorite things. “What about?”

Castiel seemed to be contemplating an acceptable answer to that question, but a look of resignation crossed his face, and Dean knew he’d be getting blunt honesty instead. “Well, Gabriel said it was rude to invite myself over to someone else’s home, so I should come talk to you. I should make myself available, so that you can invite me over.”

Dean couldn’t help the chuckle that came out of him. The guy had no subtlety at all. Where a normal person might have tried to come up with a topic of conversation before even trying to start one, Castiel seemed to have skipped that step. Then, when he couldn’t think of one, he just blurted out what he actually wanted. It was pretty refreshing.

“Alright, well, first of all: you’re welcome to invite yourself over anytime.” That was true, and might actually keep Dean from having to do it every time. He couldn’t really think of a time that he’d be upset if they came over unannounced. Except maybe the butt crack of dawn, but they’d already done that once, anyway. “And second of all, I was planning to invite y’all over anyway.” He sent Castiel a smile and finished wrapping a bungee cord around the bumper.

He was graced with a smile in return. “It will just be me, actually. Gabriel will not be getting off work until much later tonight.”

Well, that at least explained why he was down here trying to get himself invited over. He wouldn’t even have Gabriel to help him with his fear tonight.

“I think I can throw together something for dinner.” Dean said, as if he hadn’t already been planning to do so. “You can come down whenever. I don’t think the storm is set to start for a while.”

“Oh.” Castiel’s tone was disappointed, and it took Dean a minute to try to figure out why.

“I mean, you can come in right now, too.” He rushed to explain. He didn’t want the other man to think he was only invited over during a storm, after all. “I just know that Sammy’s been swamped in homework for days, with finals next week. I figured you had some stuff you needed to get done, too.”

Castiel’s expression turned thoughtful. “Yes, I suppose there is some things I need to get done.” He paused as if he had something more to say, but seemed to think better of it. “Well, I guess I will see you a bit later, then.”

“Yeah, just come over whenever you’re ready. I’ll probably just wait on you to make dinner.” Dean sent him a smile and stood, finally finished with the makeshift cover.

Castiel just nodded, in that completely serious way that he did, and headed back toward his own apartment.

 

***

 

It was almost eight by the time Castiel knocked on the door. Dean could not have been more glad to hear the sound. He hadn’t wanted to make the other man eat cold food, but it was getting late, and he was about to be at the point of starvation. No, he was not being dramatic.

Luckily for him, Castiel seemed content to nurse a beer and just listen to him rant about his job while he cooked them all dinner. Sam was still trying to catch up on his school work and paid them no attention.

It was surprisingly nice to have someone to just listen to him. Sam had never been good about listening to Dean rant about things he couldn’t change. He would have gotten fed up with Dean’s bitching already. Gabriel was better about it, but always wanted to commiserate. They’d both share stories of how awful work was whenever they’d go to the bars together, until they got bored with it and went to play pool or something.

Dean never really had a friend like Castiel before. He just listened, occasionally asking questions, but mostly just listening. Like the crap Dean said held some kind of importance, and wasn’t just a bitch fest because he was tired of being at a place he hated for most of his day. Even when he’d talked to Charlie on the phone, she’d just told him to suck it up. Castiel seemed to understand his need to just get the feelings off his chest. He didn’t need someone to justify his misery.

By the time dinner was over, the storm was supposed to be in full swing, and although there were flashes behind the blinds, and the occasional roll of thunder, it seemed like the storm was still not over them yet. Not that it really mattered, because it wasn’t as if they had received any more weather alerts. The storm was unlikely to get bad.

That didn’t seem to matter to Castiel, who kept throwing glances toward the windows as they flashed with the lightning.

Dean went to investigate, pulling open the blinds to get a good look outside.

The sky was nearly black, but it was hard to tell if it was from the incoming storm, or the late hour. The lighting was flashing in the sky in the distance, and a near constant rumble of sound said that the storm was likely very electrical. There hadn’t even been a drop of rain yet.

Actually, a lot of the usual elements of a regular storm were missing. Not only was there nothing falling from the sky, but there was no wind either. The trees weren’t bent to the ground as they usually were. Not even the leaves were shaking. It was eerily still while the heavens were turbulent. The lightning criss-crossed the sky followed by the deep roar of the thunder.

“Is it strange that the sky looks like that while it’s not even raining?” Castiel sounded worried, which wasn’t unusual while the weather was bad.

“I think the storm is just brushing past us.” Dean told him, pointing off toward the distance where the sky was the darkest. “We might get a little bit of rain, but I think we’re on the outskirts of this one.”

Castiel cast another worried glance out the window as Dean let the shades down again. “Perhaps it is just ‘the calm before the storm’?” He asked, using finger quotes to indicate the phrase he’d heard before.

Dean grinned at the other man’s ridiculousness. Seriously, who used finger quotes? “I don’t think so, Cas. I’m pretty sure that’s just an expression. I think the storm is close enough to see and hear, but it’s not actually going to hit us this time.”

Castiel looked like he was seriously contemplating opening the blinds again, especially as the thunder began getting louder. He actually looked as nervous as he had when the big storm had come through weeks ago.

“Hey, Cas. What’s wrong? The storm’s probably not even going to hit us.”

“Why isn’t the wind blowing, Dean?” The worry was evident in Castiel’s tone. “Isn’t it weird that the wind isn’t blowing?”

“Dude, the storm is just in the distance.” Dean was confused by the apparent discomfort his friend was feeling with the lack of storm elements. Castiel still looked uncomfortable.

“Do you want to go to the closet?” He didn’t really know what else to do to put the other man at ease.

When Castiel nodded, Dean just sighed, resigning himself to another night in the tiny space with his strange neighbor.

“Would you like to join us, Sam” Castiel asked.

“Sorry, Cas, not this time.” At least Sam really did look remorseful. “This essay is due tomorrow, and I have two more I have to turn in before finals next week. I don’t have time. The storm isn’t even meant to get that bad. I don’t really understand why you’re freaking out.”

Sam was lucky he was under so much stress at the moment, because the hurt expression on Castiel’s face was enough to make Dean want to hit him. Knowing his brother wasn’t deliberately trying to be mean saved him. Actually, it just changed Dean’s reaction a little bit.

“Come on, Sammy. It’s called an irrational fear because it doesn’t really make logical sense. You know that. Just like your fear of clowns.”

Sam shifted nervously in his seat, sending him a glare that had absolutely no effect on Dean. “I don’t have a fear of clowns.” He was clearly trying to sound incredulous, but was failing epically.

“Really? So, I can rent a clown for your birthday this year? You’d be ok with that?” Dean raised an eyebrow at his brother.

Sam sent him another glare, before seemingly deciding to drop the act. He scowled. “Dean, I swear to God. If I see a clown anywhere near here, I will kill you. I know where you sleep.”

“See, irrational. Clowns don’t kill people, Sam.” He rolled his eyes at his brother before sending Castiel an evil smirk. “Their chainsaws do. Or whatever else they can carry in those giant pants of thiers…”

“Oh my God. Thank you for that. I will probably have nightmares tonight.”

Dean laughed at the traumatized look on his brother’s face, while digging through their pile of games and grabbing a deck of cards and heading toward his bedroom.

“Come on, Cas. We can play poker in the closet for a little while, until the storm passes.”

 

***

 

“Do you have any irrational fears?” Castiel was looking up at him through his lashes, as if he was feeling shy. It was a good look on him, although it seemed completely contradictory to how he usually acted. Maybe that was the appeal.

“Everyone does, Cas. Some people are afraid of spiders, even the little bitty ones that can’t do anything to anyone. Some people are afraid of snakes, even though only a few of them are actually poisonous.” Dean shrugged as if it was only natural that people be scared of things that made no sense.

“But what are you afraid of, Dean?” Now Castiel was looking at him as if he doubted that Dean had any fears like that. His expression was a cross between amazed and annoyed, as if he was impressed that Dean didn’t seem to have any fears but also pissed off about it. Or maybe just pissed off that he did.

Dean didn’t really want Castiel to lose the impression that he wasn’t scared of anything, but it was pretty clear that Castiel still needed to feel justified in his irrationality. He hated talking about his ridiculous fear, but he knew it wouldn’t do anyone any favors if he denied it now, when the other man clearly needed to hear it.

“Mine is flying, I guess. I know the chances of anything happening on a plane are very slim. I know it’s ‘the safest way to travel’ and all that. It doesn’t matter. You won’t see me getting on a plane.”

Castiel looked surprised for a moment, but his expression turned to amusement quickly. “Really?”

“Yep. I’ve only flown once in my entire life. I’m not looking to do that again.” Dean could feel his cheeks heating even as he thought of the scene he’d made the last time he’d been on a plane. Castiel didn’t need to know how big of a fool he’d made of himself, though. “Does that make you feel better?”

Castiel nodded, the amused glint still in his eye. He didn’t mock Dean for his fear, at least. “You and Sam are always so calm about the storms, it’s nice to know that you have fears of your own that don’t make sense to me.”

“Well, I’m glad we could make you feel better.” Dean tried to brush away his embarrassment. “Now, let’s play some cards.”

 

***

 

Castiel was as good at shuffling cards as he seemed to be with everything else. He was as skillful as any casino dealer. When his eyes met Dean’s he raised a brow, probably at the surprise Dean was sure was etched across his face. It just seemed like a strange talent for the other man to have. Maybe because shuffling cards was usually associated with gambling, and that didn’t seem like something Castiel would do. He was clearly skilled in the art, though. Even with his eyes locked on Dean’s, his hands worked seamlessly in tandem.

Castiel used eye contact in a way that Dean had never witnessed before. His eyes never seemed to stray when he was speaking to someone. It made him seem incredibly honest at all times, and with the blunt way that he talked, it was unlikely that the man ever felt the need to lie. The staring thing might have made Dean a little uncomfortable when they first met, but he’d grown accustomed to the way the other man communicated. He found himself with his gaze locked in the other man’s more often than not.

Castiel’s eyes were a shade of blue that he’d never seen on another person. They were reminiscent of a Van Gogh night sky, with different shades and colors spotted randomly throughout. The effect was startling, and never failed to draw Dean’s attention. It didn’t help that his eyes were literally the only way you could tell what the other man was truly feeling most of the time. His face was always serious, always seemingly void of emotion, but his eyes said it all. They danced, and crinkled a bit at the corners when he was joking, long before his smile ever appeared.

For that matter, Castiel’s smile, though rare, was worth every effort it took to earn it. His eyes might smile first, but when those lips finally gave in and curled up in amusement it was a blissful achievement for the one that caused it. One side of his mouth always gave in before the other, and his smile would spread from there. The most surprising and endearing part, of course, were the dimples that appeared if his smile grew large enough. Dean assumed it was the paradox of seeing such a charming feature on a face that was usually so resolute. It made Dean want to spend all of his free time helping Castiel find that expression.

Jesus, he needed to stop thinking that way about the other man. The way his mind had been wandering to Castiel lately, and the ridiculously poetic thoughts that accompanied the action might lead him to believe that he had a big school-girlesque crush. The thought amused him for a moment. But then, very suddenly, it didn’t.

Holy shit. Did he have a crush on Castiel?

It would actually explain some of the feelings the other man stirred within him. His uncharacteristic shyness, for one. His longing to spend time with Castiel, no matter how often they saw each other. He’d even had a couple of inappropriate bodily responses to the other man that he’d somehow managed to brush off as nothing.

He dropped his eyes to the other man’s hands, where they shuffled the cards so efficiently. He didn’t want Castiel staring into his soul while he had a mental break down. Good god, even the man’s hands were nice. Square and masculine, but still well taken care of. The kind of hands that could make girls swoon. Dean’s body’s response to the thought made him think maybe they were the kind of hands that made Dean swoon, too.

So that’s why he was so fucking weird around Castiel. He was shy and awkward because he had some big gay crush on his neighbor. And, apparently, had for quite some time. Maybe even since the first time they’d met.

Ok, he could handle this. He could. At least now he knew what had been going on. Some sad, unacknowledged part of his brain had been turning him back into that awkward teenager with his first crush, and he hadn’t been able to see what was happening. Likely because it was directed at a man, but was he really so deep in the closet that he couldn’t even recognize the attraction he had for Castiel for what it was?

In the closet! Holy Christ, he was literally in the closet, trying to figure out how gay he was for his neighbor. Only Dean could find himself in a situation such as this.

He felt like he should have seen this coming. It wasn’t as if he had ever been shy, especially in the sexual sense. He’d never been one to deny his own urges and curiosities. He wasn’t even timid about exploring his partner’s kinks that held no real interest to him. Hell, he’d let Rhonda dress him up in frilly pink satin underwear without even blinking. Although, it turned out, he hadn’t been disappointed with that little experiment.

He’d always liked to think he was pretty open minded sexually, but apparently he didn’t really know himself at all. He didn’t remember ever telling himself that men were off limits, but at some point he must have. He’d never even given a thought to being attracted to men, even though he clearly was. He didn’t even know how long he’d been living in denial about this side of his sexuality.

Looking back, he felt like it should have been obvious. Castiel was not the first man that Dean had thought to be beautiful. Jesus, he’d been man-crushing on Doctor Sexy for years . And now that he really thought about it, there may have been a few other men that had made him give a second glance. While he was at it, there may have been more than just mutual respect between himself and Benny.

That thought threw him for another loop. Benny was incredibly masculine; a mountain of a man, really. Come to think of it, most of the men Dean could think of maybe having been attracted to were rather masculine. Dr. Sexy was supposed to be the definition of a man’s man. And now there was Castiel, with his chiseled jaw and scruff. So apparently, if Dean was going to go gay, he was going big. He didn’t want any of those lithe, almost feminine guys. Oh no, that would be too easy.

Castiel cleared his throat, drawing Dean’s attention back to the present. The other man was looking at him with some concern.

Dean glanced down and saw that the cards had been dealt already, and Castiel seemed to be waiting for Dean to play. He straightened his back and moved to pick up his hand. His big gay freakout would have to wait until Castiel left. And then he was going to have to deal with coming out of the closet. Christ.

If this had been a tv series about his life, today would be the pilot episode. The day started just like any other day, and ended with sexual realizations— in an actual fucking closet. Wow. This was his real life. ‘A Tornado of Emotions’ they’d call it, because writers live for little plays on words like that. It started with a tornado, and ended in love. The story of one man’s journey of self discovery. Sexual self discovery, in a god damned closet.

Chapter Text

Dean was acting weird, and not the kind of weird that Sam had grown to expect from him. It wasn’t the usual tension of his brother holding in all of his emotions until he was about to explode. It was the kind of uneasiness that meant he wanted to talk, but didn’t know how to bring up whatever was on his mind.

It had already been days of Dean’s aborted sentences and awkward silences, and Sam was about to lose his mind.

He was used to his brother being too loud. He was used to being forced to ignore Dean’s rants, and obnoxious laughter to focus on his school work. He was not used to his brother being quiet and contemplative. It was distracting in a way that Dean’s usual attitude just wasn’t anymore. The nervous energy radiating off his brother was disrupting his studying completely.

Luckily, he was already prepared for his finals, and had been mostly reading over the few things he may have forgotten from earlier in the semester. All of his papers were turned in, and all he had to worry about were the actual tests. Fortunately for Dean, that is. Otherwise Sam may have already strangled his brother.

He’d taken to hiding in his room, trying to find peace. The thing with Dean was, if Sam pushed too hard before he was ready, he’d clam up and it might be months before he’d find out what was on his mind. Sam knew this from experience. The best way to handle the situation was to ignore it, for now. Dean would come to him when he was ready to talk.

He didn’t really have time to worry about what might be going on with Dean, but he couldn’t seem to keep his mind from wandering to the subject. Dean may not have been predictable to most people, but Sam knew him better than anyone else. He was usually so in tune with Dean that he knew what was on his older brother’s mind days before he said anything. It made him nervous. He didn’t like being in the dark this time.

So, even while he avoided contact in an attempt to ignore his brother, his thoughts still surrounded Dean’s issue. He’d yet to figure out what the problem was, and the more outrageous explanations his mind had come up with were becoming more and more believable as the days went by. That wasn’t helping his concentration either.

At least he had Gabriel to distract him. Their unlikely friendship had blossomed over their shared fascination with the tension between Castiel and Dean. It turned out that Gabriel was as surprised to find his brother attracted to another man as Sam had been. The mutual intrigue of it all had been the catalyst they’d needed, and hardly a day went by now that he didn’t receive a text from the other man.

Gabriel was a joker, constantly working to make Sam laugh, and although he’d never really thought about it before, apparently that was something Sam needed in his life. It was mostly mindless entertainment, but it seemed to work fairly efficiently at clearing away his anxiety and improving his mood. Not that Gabriel only sent jokes. Sometimes they talked about more serious things, and that was nice too.

Sam had never really been good at making his own new friends, and Gabriel was nothing like any of the friends he’d had before. It was nice to have someone to talk to, though. Even if Gabriel’s playful attitude and mischievous nature took some getting used to.

He pulled open a book, trying to force Dean and Gabriel out of his mind so he might actually get some of his work done.

+++++++++++

 

The soft knock on his door pulled Sam out of his reading. It was a welcome break, even if Dean just came to spread his nervous energy.

“What’s up?” He hollered toward the door, looking up from his book as his brother’s nervous face peered at him from the doorway.

“Uh, do you have a minute?” Even Dean’s voice was nervous, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the conversation. At least, it seemed that Sam was about to find out what had his brother so on edge.

“Yeah, come on in.” He sighed and closed his book, willing to give Dean his full attention for whatever had been weighing on his mind.

Dean looked incredibly uncomfortable as he made his way to the bed where Sam was seated. Sam pulled his legs up to make space for his brother to sit, but Dean ignored the offered spot. He chose to lay down beside him instead, pulling his legs up by Sam and dropping his head toward the other end.

Dean’s actions only served to worry him further, and he pushed himself to lay opposite his brother. Their positioning was reminiscent of their childhood, when they would lay end to end just like they were. It brought up memories of when things were at their worst, and neither of them wanted to be alone. They would lay opposite of each other, taking a small amount of comfort from the other’s presence. Sometimes they would spend the hours talking and sometimes they would spend the time in silence, just being with each other so they wouldn’t have to be alone. This time, though, Sam got the impression that the position was more so Dean wouldn’t have to look him in the face while they talked. He could stare up at the ceiling and pretend he was only talking to himself.

“What’s on your mind?” Sam asked quietly, keeping his voice low as if Dean might be spooked. With the way he’d been acting lately, it could actually be a possibility.

“I’ve just been doing some thinking.”

There was an uncomfortable silence, and Sam finally broke with a leading, “Okay…”

“I don’t really know where to start with this.” Dean admitted, blowing out a frustrated breath and falling back into silence.

This time Sam allowed it, knowing his brother was only trying to gather his thoughts.

“I’ve just been thinking about some stuff I’ve never really thought about before, and it’s really messing me up. I think, if I can get it off my chest I might feel better.”

Dean seemed to be explaining his reasoning for being there as a way to break the ice. Sam knew better than to try to push him into something

“I just… I’ve lived my life a certain way, and I always thought it was right. But now I just don’t know.”

“What is this about, Dean?” And although he’d promised himself he wasn’t going to push while Dean was clearly uncomfortable, he was beginning to have a real fear about where this was going.

Dean sighed heavily, and the silence that followed made Sam fear he really had pushed too hard. Before he could apologize, though, Dean finally spoke again. “I think I might be attracted to dudes.”

All of Sam’s fears washed away so quickly, he could actually feel the tension leaving his body. “Oh my god. This is about Cas!” Sam let out a relieved rush of breath. “I thought you were having doubts about quitting your job, or living in Texas, or living with me! Holy crap, dude. You’ve had me nervous for days!”

He’d been concentrating so hard on getting through the last couple of weeks of school, and had completely forgotten his discoveries about his brother’s affection for their neighbor. If he’d been paying attention he’d have noticed that Dean had been acting weird ever since he’d spent that night alone with Castiel during the last storm.

Dean sat up quickly, turning an incredulous look on Sam. “Who said anything about Cas?”

“Come on, Dean. You’ve been crushing on the guy for months! Who the hell else would you be talking about?” Sam didn’t even bother sitting up to face his brother. He knew that would only make Dean more defensive anyway.

“How the hell do you know that?” The question was sincere instead of being filled with the bravado that Sam had been expecting.

If Dean was actually going to act like an adult, then Sam supposed he could too. He pulled himself up and crossed his legs so they could face each other.

“I do have eyes, dude.”

Silence seemed to be Dean’s only answer to that, and Sam let it stretch on as long as his brother might need it to.

“How long have you known?” Dean finally asked, and the look he gave Sam said he was a bit unsettled at the thought that Sam had been able to pick up on his feelings at all.

“A few weeks.”

Dean let out an explosive breath. A sound that may have been a second of disbelieving laughter. “Well, you figured it out before I did.”

“I know.” Sam sent his brother a little smirk at that. The look he knew Dean hated, because it said he thought he was smarter than his brother. It didn’t even get a rise out of him this time.

“I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do.” Dean admitted, fingering the seam on his pants in another show of nerves. It was strange watching his brother act that way. Dean had never been the nervous type before.

“What do you want to do?” Sam didn’t want to pressure his brother into doing anything he was uncomfortable with. Just because he’d figured out he had a crush didn’t mean he had to do anything about it, really.

“I don’t know.” And Dean truly did look torn.

They sat in silence for a minute while Sam decided how much he could tell his brother without breaking any confidences. “Would it make a difference if I told you that I think Castiel feels the same way?”

Dean actually looked surprised at that. Sam wasn’t sure if he was surprised by the information, or at the fact that Sam had been analyzing what was between the two men before Dean had even said anything. Maybe he was just shocked that Sam was willing to help him work through the whole thing.

“What makes you think that?”

And here was the part where he was going to have to tread lightly. “Well, Gabriel, mostly.”

Not that Gabriel had asked him not to tell Dean anything, but he didn’t want to jeopardize the rapport he’d developed with the other man.

“You two are gossiping about us?” That incredulous look was back.

“We were kind of in the same boat. We were commiserating, not gossiping.”

“In the same boat how?”

“Well, Castiel hasn’t ever shown interest in a guy before, either.” It probably wasn’t his place to say much more than that.

Dean sighed, rubbing his face with his hands. “Great. Neither one of us will know what we’re doing.”

Sam raised an eyebrow at that. “Does that mean you’re planning to do something about it?”

Dean’s reaction was sudden and animated, his hands flying out to the sides. “I don’t know, Sam! This is all just a little weird for me, you know?” He sighed again, settling back down into the same thoughtful state he’d been in before his outburst.

“At least you’re handling it well.”

Sam was confused by that addition. “What did you think I would do?”

“Well, I was reading about some people that have come out to their families, and it ended pretty badly sometimes.”

And now Sam was exasperated by his brother again. At least they were on solid ground there. “Dean, I marched with Aaron at that gay pride parade like two years ago. Did you think I only excepted the people that were outside of my family?”

Dean looked surprised for a moment, and then understanding seemed to dawn on him. “I forgot about that.” He admitted, and then paused thoughtfully. ”And I was super weirded out about it, too. I’m the worst dude that likes other dudes, ever.”

“Well, maybe now that you’ve gotten yourself a little more figured out, you’ll be less weird about it.” Sam said, aiming for optimism.

“Yeah, don’t count on it. I’m still weirded out about this whole thing.”

They were back into the mode of contemplative silence. It was actually nice to see his brother this way, now that he knew what it was all about. The only problem was that it was getting late, and Sam still had a few things he wanted to cover before he could take his test with confidence.

“Well, I really do need to read some of this tonight.” He hated running his brother off, but there wasn’t any more he could contribute to Dean’s dilemma anyway.

“Oh. Yeah.” Dean nodded and pushed himself off the bed, but didn’t move to leave. “Uh...thanks.”

“What for?” Sam knew he looked confused, but Dean was bad about talking through his emotions, and it was completely unexpected that he’d take the time to thank Sam for listening.

“I wasn’t kidding about that stuff I read. This could have been really ugly, and you’re the only family I’ve got left.”

“I know. Don’t worry about it, man.” Sam tried to sound reassuring. This must have really been eating away at his brother.

“Alright, well, get your homework done.” Dean said, patting him on the shoulder roughly. He then turned on his heel and headed out of the room like he had a mission.

Sam just shook his head at his brother’s ridiculousness. He really did need to study, but there was something he needed to do first. He pulled out his phone and shot off a text message as soon as the door closed behind his brother.

 

It’s time for you to get to work on your brother. (Delivered 7:05PM)

Gabriel 7:05PM:Oh yeah? Why’s that?

My brother and I just had a very interesting conversation. (Delivered 7:06PM)

Gabriel 7:06PM: Really? Hm...I thought it’d be Cas first

I did too (Delivered 7:06PM)

Gabriel 7:07PM: I’ll see what I can get out of him

Thanks (Delivered 7:07PM)

 

Yes, his studying was going to go much smoother now that he didn’t have to worry about Dean. He smiled to himself as he pulled his book back up and got to work.

Chapter Text

Dean had been incredibly worried about how Sam would react to the newly discovered facet of his sexuality. He’d read multiple horror stories of how families reacted to people coming out. He’d prepared himself for the worst.

All his anxiety had turned out to be in vain. Sam hadn’t just accepted him, but had apparently already known before Dean had even gotten the chance to tell him. Sam’s lack of surprise was unexpected, but it had made the entire conversation much easier. There was much less explaining to do than Dean had originally planned for. Especially after Sam had revealed that he already knew Dean’s affection for their neighbor, specifically.

Plus, Sam was being incredibly supportive about everything he threw at him. On the days Dean would decide he wanted to go for it, Sam was encouraging and happy for him. On the days that he’d say he just wanted to go back to ignoring that whole side of his sexuality, Sam would tell him that it was probably unhealthy, but if that was what he wanted Sam wouldn’t argue. It was taking away a lot of Dean’s concerns, but others creeped in their place, of course.

At least he’d started working full time at the shop. He hated the idea of Sam working for the summer, but he couldn’t deny he was much happier at his new job.

It wasn’t quite the same as being in South Dakota with Bobby, but it was pretty close. Ken was everything Dean had expected when he signed on, and the shop was picking up business left and right. Dean didn’t say anything, but he thought they were probably stealing customers from that bigger shop down the street. He knew from experience that the guy down there liked to gouge people for their money, and his asshole attitude certainly wasn’t helping any.

Dean would have liked to say that things were falling nicely into place. He was finally at a job he could enjoy, and Sam had reacted to his news better than he could have ever hoped. He would have liked to say that his life was becoming more peaceful. Dean didn’t really like to lie, though, so he couldn’t.

It turned out, coming to terms with his sexuality was surprisingly easy, when compared to coming to terms with being the awkward dork he’d become since then.

It had been bad enough when he hadn’t actually known why he acted so differently around Castiel. He could chalk it up to general weirdness. The reasons why he felt uncomfortable after he threw the other man an odd little wave as they passed each other were suddenly becoming clear.

When he talked to Castiel, he was a blushing stuttering mess, like he hadn’t been since middle school. Before he’d known how he felt, he was just a little weird around the guy. Ever since he’d figured himself out, it was like he no longer had control over his own body anymore, and it was just embarrassing.

It didn’t help that Sam had said he already knew how Dean felt about Cas. It had seemed like a good break at the time, but afterward he couldn’t stop thinking that he must have been giving off signs, and the more he analyzed his actions the more foolish he seemed to act.

The worst part was that through all of this he still didn’t even know what he was going to do about it. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to go after Castiel, or just leave it alone.

Just because he liked someone, it didn’t mean he had to do anything about it. Maybe he did want accept this new part of himself, but it didn’t mean that he had to ask out the first dude he looked at twice.

Or the guy he thought about in the shower, or whatever. Actually, his shower thoughts probably weren’t helping him act like a normal person around the man.

Even if he did decide he wanted to do something about it, how was he even supposed to know if the other man was interested? If it had been a girl, Dean would have just shot her his most winning smile, and made a few flirty comments. If she responded well, he would go from there. If she shot him down, he would move on.

It felt different with Castiel, though. It felt as if it was more important, somehow. Not that his usual cheesy lines were likely to work on the man, anyway. He didn’t seem like the type that would respond to cheap flattery. Leaving aside the fact that Castiel already knew him too well for bar flirting not to seem completely out of place.

Sam had said he believed that Castiel was interested, which was actually a pretty good sign. His brother had sussed out Dean’s interest before he’d gotten around to admitting it, so it was pretty fair to say that he might see some of the same signs in Castiel. He’d even insinuated that Gabriel believed there were indicators as well.

It didn’t feel like enough. It seemed like a rather large decision to put on hearsay from their brothers. If Dean was going to pursue this thing, he was going to have to wait for a sign from Castiel himself.

 

At least he had Charlie. She would probably understand better than anyone else. She’d known she preferred woman for a while, but he figured she’d probably had a freak out at some point. She could be a valuable asset.

Dean knew that calling her was going to be a mixed blessing, though. She was surely going to be very supportive, and have some great advice, but she was also fairly likely to tease him for a good while, too. That’s what best friends were for, after all.

When he finally gathered the courage to call her, he found he couldn’t even bring himself to segue into the subject with some small talk first. As soon as she picked up the phone, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“I might be a little gay.”

Charlie squealed on the other end of the line, unperturbed by his lack of manners. Dean had to pull the phone away from his ear so he wouldn’t lose his hearing.

“I knew it!” While the squealing had been expected, that comment was not.

“Seriously?” He asked, disbelieving.

“Well, I suspected.” She conceded.

“How the hell did everyone know before me?” He sounded exhausted, and he felt it, too. But seriously, how did everyone know already? Was he that obvious?

“Who else knew?” She sounded jealous, as if she thought she hadn’t been the first one he’d called.

“Sam.” He said it plainly. They both knew that Sam was number one in Dean’s book, no matter what.

“Oh, yeah. That makes sense. So, he really knew already?” She seemed intrigued, like she couldn’t believe it either.

“Yeah. It’s starting to weird me out that everyone knew before I could tell them.” He sounded sulky, but he couldn’t help it.

“I just don’t think you were ready to acknowledge it.” He could hear the shrug in her voice. “So, what changed?”

“Well...there’s this guy…” He started and was quickly interrupted by another squeal. He was beginning to regret the decision to call.

“I should have never told you.” He said, grumpily.

“No, no, no! I’ll calm down. Sorry.” She sounded sincere, but he could hear her fidgeting on the other end of the line. He didn’t care if she was really calm, as long as she wasn’t screeching in his ear.

“Tell me all about him!” Her voice betrayed her excitement.

He paused a minute to think, but he couldn’t come up with anything to tell her. “I don’t really know what to say. He’s not like anyone we know.”

Charlie was quiet for a minute, probably trying to find a way around Dean’s inability to communicate. “Well, out of all the people we know, who is he most like?”

That was an interesting way to look at it, but he honestly couldn’t think of anyone they both knew that was anything like Castiel. The closest he could come up with was… nope. Not going there. Dean cringed.

“I don’t think I want to answer that question.”

“Because he’s most like Sam?” She answered automatically. God he hated his best friend.

“What? No! Don’t be gross.” He did his best not to protest too much. That would only confirm her suspicions.

He could hear her sigh on the other end of the line. “It’s not gross, dude. It actually makes a lot of sense. You guys didn’t really have parents to influence your thoughts about a perfect partner. If I had to guess, this guy is probably a cross between Sam and Bobby.”

Dean only had to think for a moment before he realized that was mostly true. Castiel was a smart, nerdy, homebody like Sam; and he was grumpy, resourceful, and sensible like Bobby. Crap. The thought was highly disturbing.

“I will never be able to get that image out of my mind now, thank you.” He replied, petulantly.

He could hear the grin in her voice. “Well at least you got the lucky side of it. Sam is probably going to end up with someone like you . The poor guy!”

It took a second for that comment to sink in. “Hey! I’m awesome!” He protested.

She laughed at that, but let it slide without comment.

“So, you got your first crush. That’s cute.”

“You know what? I don’t even know why I called you.”

She laughed even harder at that, and he couldn’t really blame her. Who else would he have called?

“But, seriously. What are you gunna do about it?” She asked, when she’d had a second to calm down.

Dean sighed. That was the question, wasn’t it? Sam had asked him the same thing, and he’d been thinking of nothing else. He still didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know. Some days I think I want to pursue it, and others… I just don’t know if it’s a good idea.”

“Well, what’s the problem?”

“I don’t know! I’ve never had so much trouble deciding whether or not to ask someone out before!” He knew she’d be able to hear the frustration in his tone, so he didn’t bother to voice it.

“So this guy…” She trailed off, he answered her question before she could ask it.

“Cas.”

“Cas?”

He knew that was a weird name, but the guy’s real name wasn’t much better. “Well, his name is Castiel. He’s named after an angel. I usually just call him Cas.”

“An angel, huh?” She sounded amused again, and he rolled his eyes.

“I knew you wouldn’t let that one slide.”

“So, does he look like an angel too? All blonde haired and blue eyed? Does he have a benevolent smile?”

Dean couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him at that. “Not even close. He always looks deadly serious, like it’s the end of the world. He’s got dark hair that’s always a mess, and freaking stubble every day. He does have blue eyes, though.”

“Alright, so not at all what I was picturing.” She sounded surprised, and he allowed her some time to paint herself a new picture of the man they were talking about. It was a short lived reprieve from her questions.

“You’re friends with this guy?” She asked, eventually.

“Yeah.” He didn’t really know what that had to do with anything.

“Well, I can make a guess why this is so difficult for you.”

He hadn’t really given her any information, so he was actually intrigued by that. “Alright, I’ll bite.”

“Dean, you’ve only ever been with people you’ve just met. You’ve always just walked up to beautiful women and asked them out. I can’t remember the last time you went out with someone you already knew.”

“What does that have to do with anything? At least with Cas I know that we’ll get along.”

“Yes, but you’ve never had to risk a friendship before. It’s hard deciding if asking someone out is worth maybe losing a friend.”

Was that what his problem was? He hadn’t really thought about it in those terms before, but it made sense. Was he afraid he was going to mess everything up if he asked Cas out? That seemed like a logical place to start.

“Besides, you’ve never asked a guy out before, and you’re probably scared of what will happen if he says yes.”

“Yes, thank you. I definitely needed a recap. I’m not already freaking out enough.”

“I’m not going to say anything else. I’m just going to say, it might be a good idea for you to do a little research.”

“Research.” It wasn’t even a question. He could see where this was going, and he was not ready for that.

“Yes, research. I know you probably don’t want to talk about it, but if anything does happen between the two of you, it’s best to be prepared. The internet is your friend.”

“Okay! It was just lovely talking to you!” He tried to talk over her, but he still heard every word.

“Dean, I’m serious!”

“I can’t wait to do it again!”

“Dean!”

“Bye!”

“Goddamnit... “

He could still hear her even as he pressed end call. He knew that wouldn’t really be the end of it. She would probably text him all kinds of information that he didn’t really want to know, as soon as she realized he’d hung up.

As if to prove the point, his phone buzzed in his hand. He sighed and ignored it. He’d look at it when he was ready. Right now he needed a break from the whole thing.

He headed into the kitchen to get himself a beer. He had every intention of sitting in front of the television for some mindless entertainment for the next few hours.

Chapter Text

Charlie 1:02PM: I now know more about gay sex than I ever wanted to

Charlie 1:02PM: I am traumatized 4 life

Then stop! (Delivered 1:05PM)

Charlie 1:10PM: It’s too late. I know too much

Charlie 1:12PM: I don’t even like the idea of 1 dick, let alone 2

Charlie 2:00PM: Did you know that more guys like 

being penetrated than being on top?

Omg Charlie! Do not ever send me a message

with that word in it again! (Delivered 2:00PM)

Charlie 2:05PM: What word? Penetrated?

Charlie 2:07PM: Penetrated

Charlie 2:07PM: Penetrated

Stop! I’m at work! (Delivered 2:07PM)

Charlie 2:08PM: Ok

Charlie 2:12PM: Promise me you’ll do your own research then

Fine! I promise. You happy?(Delivered 2:13PM)

Charlie 2:14PM: Ecstatic

 

Charlie had been sending him what could only be described as ‘fun facts’ about what it was like to be a gay man. Text after text of things she thought he needed to know were sent his way. As helpful as she may have thought herself to be, it was mostly just embarrassing for Dean.

He had taken to deleting their conversations as soon as he had a chance. The last thing he needed was someone else seeing the things she’d sent him. Thankfully, ever since he’d promised he’d do some research of his own, she’d finally let it go.

It was time to make good on that promise.

Sam was supposed to be gone for most of the day. He’d said he had a couple ideas of where he wanted to work, and he was going to run around town submitting his resume. He’d likely be out until the evening, when most places started closing down for the night.

So, Dean was on a mission. A mission to find out everything he’d need to know, if he wanted to go about dating a man.

He started simple, with a search on how to tell if a guy was interested in him. The results that came back made him sigh in relief. The signs mentioned were the nearly the same as he’d come to expect from a woman that was interested in him: lingering touches and the like.

At first, he was relieved the signals would be the same, but then he spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to remember if Castiel had ever shown him any of those signs. He remembered a few lingering touches, but most of them had been while the other man was hiding in Dean’s closet in fear. He didn’t think he could actually count those.

The staring thing was pretty frequent, and so was the lack of personal space, but Castiel seemed to do that with everyone. Dean had not been singled out there. So he felt like he couldn’t trust any of those signs, either.

He sighed and moved on to the next search.

He’d never asked a guy out before, and everything he’d read so far were from a female point of view. His next search was a little more specific.

The advice for asking out someone of the same sex was pretty much terrible. It ranged from “find out if they are gay first” to “do it just like the straight people do.” He already knew he couldn’t use his regular tactics to approach Castiel. And he certainly wasn’t ready to just come out and ask the guy if he was interested in men. When he couldn’t find any better advice, though, he decided to move on.

Charlie had said his reluctance to ask Castiel out may have something to do with fear of hurting the friendship. Dean tried searching for advice on asking out someone that you were already friends with, and that just made everything worse. Most of the advice had to do with looking for clues that someone was interested, before risking your friendship on it. That was all well and fine, if Dean had been asking out anyone else. With Castiel, it would be a real challenge to find signs of attraction. Half the gestures listed were things that Castiel did with everyone. Not that it mattered. The guy was so strange, his signs of attraction were probably completely different than anyone else’s, anyway.

He was pretty unlikely to be offended if Dean did ask him out, though, which was a plus to Castiel’s odd mindset. The guy might look at him strangely for a little while, but somehow, Dean couldn’t really picture Castiel being truly upset about it. He was much more likely to tell Dean he wasn’t interested, and go on as if nothing had ever happened. He didn’t really seem like the type to get angry about it.

The realisation that he didn’t really believe Castiel would punish him for his feelings, actually made him feel a lot better. He didn’t really have to worry about ruining the friendship, because he didn’t think confessing would be able to do that. He didn’t have to worry about Castiel judging him, or being disgusted. He wasn’t really that kind of person.

With that revelation under his belt, Dean felt a little braver, and his next search was a little less tame.

 

His research was a little intimidating when he got to the point of finding out what it said about actually having sex with a man. There were warnings all over the place about cleanliness, and pain, and lube. There were multiple sites that assured him that just because he was gay didn’t mean he had to like anal sex. Then there were others that basically claimed it was the best thing ever, and was totally worth any of the discomfort he might feel at first.

Just when he thought the warnings were too much, and had scared him off completely, he found another one that taught him how to experiment with himself to see if it was something he was interested in.

This one specifically stated not to use anything other than silicone lube. It said, while it might be tempting to use something a little bit easier to get ahold of, like soap, most people were extra sensitive down there. It could cause a stinging sensation that had nothing to do with penetration, and might scare him off the idea before he even knew whether or not he liked the experience.

Well, Sam had taken the Impala, so there was no way for him to get to an adult shop to purchase any. Experimenting would have to wait for another day.

Dean really hated to admit it, even to himself, but he’d been sporting a semi for at least half of the time he’d been researching. Even the warnings hadn’t been able to dissuade it completely. By the time he was finished reading about how to touch himself, his erection had filled out completely. Realizing those experiments would have to wait did nothing to temper his arousal.

He didn’t really know why, but he was a little ashamed of his body’s reaction. He also knew there was a very slim chance he would learn anything else with his pants feeling this tight. He decided to give up on his research in favor of taking the problem into his own hands, so to speak.

 

It was nearly a week before the stars aligned properly to allow for Dean’s experimental phase. He’d found time to hit the adult store after work, but Sam hadn’t left the house in days, and he had no desire to do anything while his brother was near. When Sam finally left for a job interview, Dean practically ran to his room.

He’d been fantasizing about the activity for so long, it felt like a relief to drop his pants and climb onto the bed. He dug around in the nightstand until he found the bottle of lube he’d purchased. Then he sat on his bed, just staring at it.

Dean didn’t really know why, but he felt like chickening out now. He’d read about what to do. He’d bought his supplies, and he finally had some privacy. But now that he had everything he needed, he was freaking out a little bit.

Maybe it was the size of the bottle that was intimidating him. Everything he’d read said you can never have too much lube, so he’d grabbed the largest one available. It was actually pretty huge, and he knew he’d been red as a tomato when the girl that rang him up raised an eyebrow at him. At least, with the size he’d bought he probably would have to go back anytime soon.

He set the bottle down next to himself and tried to relax. The site he’d looked at said relaxation was completely mental, and Dean would have to be in a good mental state if he wanted to enjoy this. He decided to lay back and give himself some of the usual treatment to hopefully get himself in the mood.

He let his fingers play across his chest as he pulled up his new favorite fantasy. It mostly just involved Castiel’s hands replacing his own. The guy did have some very nice hands.

Dean flicked a thumb across his nipple gently, and felt his dick perk up a little. He let one of his hands slide down to the thatch of hair at the base, as the other scraped gently over his other nipple.

He could feel his dick getting heavier, with each passing glance from his hand, but he actually needed to rush this along a little. He had no idea how long Sam would actually be gone. Instead of teasing himself into hardness, Dean dropped his hand to wrap around himself.

He wondered which tactic Castiel was more likely to take. Dean had always been more for the teasing touches, and most times when he did this, he worked slowly. Not that he’d never had to do it quickly before, but having his own room had changed his habits. There usually wasn’t a reason to rush. Would Cas be like that? All slow teasing touches, until he begged him for more? Or was he more likely to go straight for the kill?

Dean groaned a little and tightened his grip, deciding that any way Castiel went about it was likely to be hotter than hell.

Once he was fully hard, he let himself relax into the pleasure if it. He made sure not to use too much pressure, he didn’t want to forget what he was supposed to be doing. He just wanted to distract himself from his fear. He let his mind wander into fantasy for a while.

When he was finally comfortable enough to think about moving on to his experimentation, he slowed his strokes to a more leisurely pace. As easy as it would have been to get off with just his hand and his ideas about what the rest might feel like, he was supposed to actually be testing his appetite for this, while he had a chance. It wasn’t like another opportunity was likely to present itself anytime soon.

The hand wrapped around his dick stilled as Dean stared at the bottle of lube, again. It was time.

He popped open the lid and took a deep breath as he drizzled a bit on his finger. It wasn’t the first time he’d used lube, but it was the first time he intended to use it on himself. The liquid glistening on his finger was a lot more intimidating, knowing where it was meant to be applied.

Dean took another deep breath, and decided there was no shame in continuing to distract himself. He moved the bottle over his erection and gave it another squeeze, allowing the fluid to run down his length, taking himself in hand to spread it around. Once he was slicked up, he gave himself a couple of rough tugs as he moved his other hand down to fondle his sack.

His hand was so close to where it was supposed to be. Dean was so close to taking the next step. His goal was only inches away. His mental pep talk seemed to be working, because he felt his fingers slip behind his balls and press on the skin below them. He was almost there, and with another deep breath, he ran his finger across his hole.

Dean’s breath left him in a rush, and he swept his finger back over it again.

He allowed his finger to circle the hole a few times, rubbing a little harder and a little closer to the center with every pass. It wasn’t even a little unpleasant, and now he kind of felt like an idiot for being so reluctant.

Dean could stop immediately if he was uncomfortable. He was in complete control. The entire purpose of this exercise was to see if he even liked this sort of thing, and if he didn’t enjoy it, that was fine.

He’d been treating it as if it was some great mission — a do or die situation. Dean had always been so easy going when it came to new sexual experiences. Somewhere along the way he’d forgotten that. He hadn’t been this tense the first time he’d let a girl tie him up and blindfold him. And he’d had no control at all, in that situation.

Relief rushed through him as he realized all his fear and tension really was in his head.

Now that Dean wasn’t afraid, he felt much more confident. After another few passes with his finger, he finally decided to press it inside.

The tip of his finger slipped in easily, to his surprise, but when he tried to move it in farther, he was met with resistance. It didn’t hurt, it just felt strange, so he pushed passed it. He must have been up to his second knuckle before he started to withdraw.

Surprisingly, the withdrawal was what made his insides tense up, and now he was going to have to try to relax, again.

The website had told him to think of the person he wanted to be with; the fantasy would help things along. So, Dean tried that, picturing Castiel’s fingers pressing into him instead. It worked almost as well as fantasizing the man’s hands on him when he regularly masturbated. Suddenly, another idea came to him.

When he imagined Castiel doing the same thing to himself, instead, a spike of arousal shot up his spine.

He pictured Castiel laid out on a bed, teasing his own hole with his fingers. When he imagined the tip of one of those fingers breaching the tight muscle there, he did the same to himself. This time Dean’s finger slipped in almost easily, although the muscles tensed automatically in response. He let his finger say there, trying to get his body used to the intrusion, but it didn’t seem to be working. If he moved his finger at all, his muscles clamped down around it again.

He tried distracting himself with fantasy, once more. How would Castiel look if he was in Dean’s position? How would he look with his face all flushed, and a tentative hand exploring parts of his body that it had never seen before? Well, that just made one very pretty visual, and Dean felt a fresh wave of want rush through his veins. If he’d ever had any doubt he was sexually attracted to the man, it was flying right out the window.

When his body seemed to accept the intrusion, he began to thrust his finger a little. It wasn’t easy, and he did tense repeatedly, but he’d yet to feel any real discomfort. So, he kept at it. It wasn’t long before his body stopped protesting, altogether.

When Dean pulled his hand back, intent on covering another finger with lube, it felt like his body was closing down after it, and he hoped he hadn’t done anything wrong. He coated two fingers with lube, this time a bit more liberally.

He paused to pump a hand quickly up and down his cock. He was feeling a little intimidated by the next step.

Once he’d taken what pleasure he would allow himself during this break, he reached back down to continue.

Pressing two fingers into himself was a little more challenging, and even recalling his fantasies wasn’t distraction enough. It didn’t hurt, but the feeling of weird had intensified. Pushing past the resistance was also a little harder, but he managed it. Dean paused to allow his body to adjust.

It took him a little while to get used to the feeling, and while he did, he recalled something else he’d read about. The part that was supposed to make all this so great — that magical button hidden inside him.

Dean curled his fingers forward, searching for the pleasure gland he’d heard so much about. He knew immediately when he found it. A groan issued from his lips before he could help himself, and he stared down his body in shock. He didn’t know why he’d looked down, he couldn’t see anything except his own dick staring back at him.

Well, that had been unexpectedly awesome, so he did it again.

Before he knew it, he was just repeatedly curling his fingers to feel that spike of pleasure over and over. His hand wrapped firmly around his dick, without his permission, but once it was there, he couldn’t convince himself to remove it. Instead, he pumped it rapidly, timing his strokes with the curls of his fingers.

At the rate he was going, he wasn’t going to be able to hold on long, but he couldn’t seem to convince his body it was a good idea to stop. His hand continued fisting his cock, and his fingers continued reaching for that extra hit of pleasure. It seemed like only moments before his head was falling back with a groan and his stomach was covered in his spunk.

It had to be the most intense orgasm he’d ever had. He laid still for a moment, and tried to regain his breath. Holy shit.

When he finally gathered the energy, he reclaimed the fingers that were still inside him. His muscles tensed at the movement, and he realized he hadn’t really achieved his original goal. He was supposed to be getting his body used to the idea of actual penetration, and instead he’d practically just held his fingers inside himself. He’d completely forgotten about thrusting and stretching. He was going to have to try harder next time.

The thought that he’d be doing this again caused his lips to curl into a smile. He had time to figure this out. There was no real rush. The fact that he could get off with two fingers inside himself was a good sign. Taking into account how great his orgasm had been, Dean didn’t think he had anything to worry about.

When he’d discovered his crush on Cas, he’d agonized over so many things. Within the span of a few days of research, they had been mostly alleviated. Charlie had been right, not that he ever intended to tell her.

Dean felt so much better. He was confident that he had a good grip on the situation, now. He felt like he could handle anything Castiel could throw at him.

That is, if Dean ever got around to actually asking him out.

Chapter Text

The adjustment period for Dean’s newfound sexuality took a lot longer than Sam had expected. Not that he’d really known what to expect.

The first week Dean had actually been a bit of a wreck. One second he was declaring he was going to do something about it, and the next he was denying he’d had those feelings at all. It was incredibly frustrating, but Sam knew it wasn’t his place to influence his brother’s decisions. He’d done his best to just be supportive, no matter what his brother decided.

Then, something changed. Sam knew Dean had talked to Charlie about it; she’d been texting him pretty much non-stop for days. Sam had only accidently seen one of those messages. He’d made sure he hadn’t seen another one.

Instead of easing Dean’s mind, it seemed to make him worse. He was constantly on edge. His shoulders wound so tight, Sam didn’t know how he could even move his arms. Even the air around his brother had become strained. It didn’t help that he jumped every time the notification on his phone sounded.

The tension could only build so high, though, and one night, Dean just deflated. It wasn’t in that defeated way that said he’d given up. Rather, it seemed all that tightly wound energy had finally been dispelled.

He was back to his confident easy ways, and Sam was incredibly relieved. He didn’t know if something had happened, or if Dean was just finally ready to accept himself. But he was grateful Dean had figured himself out before Sam had to intervene.

Sam didn’t bother asking what had changed. To be honest, he probably didn’t want to know. He just basked in the aftereffects of a finally peaceful house.

Dean had never really been all that bad, but the tension that surrounding him had been strong enough to cause their normally peaceful lives to be disrupted.

At the time, Sam had taken it upon himself to find reasons to be out of the house more often on the days Dean didn’t have work, and that had paid off too. He’d spent his time turning in his measly resume and filling out applications at places he could see himself working for the summer. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t work at McDonalds, or the like, but he’d really preferred not to.

Instead, he’d done his research and found some jobs he’d be qualified for but would probably be a little more difficult to get. He’d had four interviews, but he hadn’t been called back for any of them.

By the time he’d finally received a call back for a second interview, he’d been on the verge of applying for one of the easy turnover jobs he’d been avoiding.

It certainly wasn’t his first choice to work at a bar, but it wasn’t his last choice either. He didn’t much like the idea of having his early morning class schedule turned on it’s head for the summer. He didn’t really like the idea of working nights, either—it was the only time he had to spend with his brother. No matter how annoying he was, Sam knew he’d miss seeing Dean.

But he also knew the pay would be good, and he’d only have to work three or four nights a week. That part suited him just fine. He already knew his way around a bar well enough that he wouldn’t have to spend much time training; and that was another bonus.

His first week on the job was a bit harrowing, with drink orders being yelled at him over the loud music and not having time to get to know the other people he worked with. It seemed like he had only been hired to help on the especially busy days, and he ran from the second he got there until he left for the night. It was exhausting, especially after not having to work at all the last couple of years.

His legs were tired, and his feet hurt. When he got home, he passed out immediately.

It didn’t take him long to figure out it was exhausting in a good way. It felt great to get out of the house for a while, and meet new people. He hadn’t even realized how antisocial he’d become until he’d started working.

By his second week, things had calmed down a bit. He didn’t know if it was actually slower at the bar, or if he’d just finally gotten used to being there. So, that Sunday, when one of his coworkers had called him and asked him to cover their shift, Sam was happy to work the extra day. What his coworker had failed to tell him was that Sundays were especially slow.

He was bored out of his mind by the time the sun finished going down, and he realized he’d been played. Being the new guy sucked when your coworkers gave you shifts that meant you wouldn’t be making any money.

Instead of being bitter about it, he decided to be proactive. And when his new friend Gabriel strolled through the door, he breathed a sigh of relief. At least he wouldn’t be bored anymore.

Before he could greet his friend, the other man grinned and gave him a once over, loudly announcing, “I heard they had a hot new bartender down here, but I had no idea I’d be walking in to see this tall drink of water.”

Sam regretted his decision to invite Gabriel down, immediately.

“Gabriel.” He hissed, glancing around the bar at the few patrons there were. Most of them were wearing grins of their own, though.

“Come on. I’m just messing with you, Sammy! You looked like you could use a pick me up.” Gabriel made himself comfortable at the bar in front of him.

Sam didn’t even bother reprimanding the man for calling him Sammy. He’d tried to dissuade the nickname a few times already, but it was clear that Gabriel planned to continue using it.

“Yeah, well, I’m just bored.”

Sam swiped a rag out of the sink and wiped down the already clean bar top. “What can I get you?”

“How about a blue dolphin on the rocks?” Gabriel winked at him, and he knew the man was just being difficult to mess with him. Luckily, he actually knew that drink.

“You came all the way down here for ice water?” He asked with fake seriousness.

Gabriel released a bark of laughter at that. “That was a test.” He grinned.

Sam raised an unaffected eyebrow, and Gabriel rolled his eyes.

“Just get me whatever’s cheap on tap.”


It didn’t take long for their conversation to turn toward Gabriel’s weird little brother. Sam was actually astonished to learn that Castiel didn’t really date.

“That’s crazy. He’s like 20-something, and he’s never dated? He’s not a bad looking guy.” He was actually amazed. There weren’t a lot of good looking guys that didn’t use that to their advantage to get laid.

Gabriel shrugged. “He’s 24, but it has nothing to do with his looks. I just don’t think he has any interest in it. I mean, the guy gets hit on all the time, but he never responds to it.” He took a sip of his fresh beer, and wiped a hand over his lip to rid it of the leftover foam.

“You know that girl, Hannah? That hot one from the next building down?”

Sam nodded. He actually had a class with her, but they’d never spoken to each other. She’d always seemed a little stuck up. If he’d seen her often enough to know they were neighbors, he knew she’d seen him enough to know as well; but whenever he’d tried waving at her in acknowledgement, she’d never waved back.

“She comes down, all the time.” Gabriel told him. His expression was commiserating. “If we’re outside, she always comes out to talk to him.” He shook his head sadly. “Sometimes, she comes over with lame excuses like she’s out of sugar, or milk, or something. She so transparent, she might as well be cling wrap.”

Sam was surprised at that. Maybe it was just him she didn’t like. “She has a crush on Cas?”

“Oh, yeah. Big time.” Gabriel said with an exaggerated nod. “She’s been trying to get his attention for months, and he has no idea.”

It seemed pretty unlikely that someone could be too blind to see interest after months of effort. “Maybe he’s just not interested.”

Gabriel shrugged. “Yeah, maybe he’s just playing dumb so he doesn’t have to do the whole confrontation thing, but I really think he just has no idea what she’s doing. Subtlety is not Cas’ strong suit.”

Sam couldn’t help the bark of laughter that escaped him. That was an understatement when it came to Castiel.

“Why do you think I was so shocked to find him getting all handsy with your brother?” Gabriel asked, his smile turning sly.

Sam rolled his eyes. “He literally had one hand on Dean. I don’t think that counts as handsy.”

Gabriel’s eyes widened, as if he was surprised. “With Castiel, that’s the most handsy I’ve ever seen him. It was equivalent to finding him with a hand up someone’s blouse. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.” He clutched a hand to his chest, over his heart.

Sam rolled his eyes. “You are such a drama queen.”

“I’m not kidding! I wasn’t even that surprised about the guy thing, really. It’s more the idea that Cas was interested in anyone .” Gabriel’s arms flared out dramatically, proving Sam’s point.

“He’s not really that bad.” Sam was sure.

Gabriel nodded emphatically. “He really is. I’m not exaggerating.”

At Sam’s shrewd look he added, “This time.”

When Gabriel’s theatrics had finally settled, he continued in a thoughtful voice. “The thing is… I’m pretty sure Cas has only ever had one girlfriend. And that was in high school.”

“Really?” Sam knew his voice was still conveying his doubt of Gabriel’s honesty.

“Yeah. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was her idea, too.” The man’s voice actually sounded serious for once, and Sam finally understood what this conversation was really about.

Gabriel wasn’t trying to tell Sam tall tales about his brother for entertainment’s sake. He was informing him of Castiel’s love life, or lack thereof, for a reason. They were both well aware of what was going on between their brothers, and Gabriel was warning him that it probably wasn’t going to be easy.

“Your brother better be as good of a guy as he seems.” Gabriel said suddenly, startling Sam out of his reverie.

“He is.” Sam said, instantly defending the only man in the world that had ever gone to bat for him, every time.

Gabriel gave him a measuring look, possibly trying to suss out the truth of the words.

Sam sighed. “Look, he’s not perfect. Is he’s a little emotionally stunted? Yes. He has problems communicating. And sometimes, if you push the right buttons, he has a short fuse.” Sam hated to spill these thoughts about his brother, but Gabriel had been honest with him. He deserved honesty in return.

“But he’s honest, and loyal to a fault. He’s also a natural caregiver. He’s a mother hen when I’m sick or he’s worried about me. I actually think he really enjoys taking care of people. That’s why he’s always cooking for all of us.” Sam added. For all the bad qualities Dean had, there were at least three good ones to make up for it. He looked Gabriel directly in the eye as he said it, making sure the man was reading between the lines.

Gabriel gave him a little nod of acknowledgement that said he was getting the message loud and clear. Then his grin turned devilish. “The way you talk about him makes me a little jealous that I’m not dating him. I wouldn’t mind being spoiled.” He said breezily.

“Don’t even think about it.” Sam played along, adding a glare for good measure.

Gabriel’s dramatic flare was back, and he gestured to himself like he was a prize in a showcase — Vanna White style. “And why not? I’m not good enough for your brother?”

Sam gave him a slow once over, or at least the parts he could see, and let a thoughtful expression cross his face. “You might be.” He said, letting the ridiculous idea float between them for a second before his own grin turned devilish. “But I like your brother better.”

Gabriel nearly toppled off the stool with his theater worthy performance of being shot in the chest.


Sam’s talk with Gabriel only cemented the idea that Dean might need a little push in the right direction, if he had decided to go after Castiel.

Gabriel had insinuated that it might take a little extra work on Dean’s part if he wanted to get Castiel to notice him, and at the rate his brother was going that would never happen. So, if Sam had to give him a little push, then that’s exactly what he was going to do.

He waited until they were both seated in the livingroom for some family time, before he brought it up.

“Tornado season is almost over, you know.” Sam didn’t look up as he said it, but he still saw Dean freeze out of the corner of his eye.

“What?”

“Tornado season.” He turned to look at his brother then. “It’s almost over.”

“What’s your point?” Dean actually seemed to be genuinely confused.

Sam rolled his eyes at how dense his brother could be sometimes. “Dude, right now you’re living under the assumption that you’re going to see Cas again the next time there’s a storm. What happens when there are no storms? Are you going to nut up and ask him to hang out even without the excuse?”

The look on his face clearly said the thought had never crossed Dean’s mind. Had he really thought they would just continue on, the way things were? Did he think it counted as a date when your neighbor came down to hang out in the closet with you?

“I think maybe it’s time you came out of the closet.” Sam added, mostly to amuse himself. He knew there were more delicate ways to approach the subject.

Dean’s face scrunched, satisfyingly, at his choice of words. “Really, dude?”

Sam just shrugged. It wasn’t his fault his brother figured out he was gay by hiding in a closet with another guy. “You should see if you can convince Castiel to come out of the closet, too.”

Dean’s face showed irritation, but his eyes said something else. “Do you have to do that?”

“Would you rather me say it’s probably time for you to ask Castiel out on a date?” Sam asked, kindly.

Dean huffed an annoyed breath. “Yes.”

Sam grinned in response. “But that way doesn’t point out that you guys met in the closet.”

“Is it necessary to point that out?” The corners of Dean’s mouth said he was amused, despite himself. He was well aware why Sam was being such a shit about it.

If their roles had been reversed, Dean would have tortured him mercilessly. “I kind of feel like it needs to be said. If I didn’t say anything, what kind of brother would I be?”

“The good kind.” Dean said, with false petulance.

Sam grinned. “If I was really a bad brother, I would have just let you go on waiting for another storm.”

He then picked up his laptop and pointed the screen his brother’s direction. “We haven’t had a storm in almost two weeks, and the 10-day says nothing but sunshine.”

Dean squinted at the screen presented to him, and Sam knew it was a series of ten little sunshine graphics with a collection of numbers that averaged about 96 next to them.

“Sonofabitch.”

Chapter Text

Sam was right, and Dean felt like an idiot. He really had been just waiting for the next storm to roll in so he would have an excuse to hang out with Castiel again. He’d been so busy with his new job, and his (mostly) internal freak out, that he hadn’t even realized how much time had actually passed since he’d last seen the other man.

It worried him, actually. Not talking to Castiel seemed to be counterproductive if he decided he wanted to pursue something with him — which he could fairly decisively say he had. Mostly.

He’d spent too much time worrying about everything, and he was about to let the opportunity slip through his fingers entirely. Unless he did something to change it.

Dean may have been a little trepidatious about walking up to knock on the Novak’s door before, but he was determined this time. He wouldn’t allow himself to be weird, now that he could acknowledge the reasoning behind his awkwardness. He even took the stairs two at a time, and when he reached the landing, he knocked.

If he didn’t have time to think about it, he couldn’t make a fool of himself right? And he had enough natural charm, hard-wired, that he knew he wouldn’t be floundering for long.

He bounced on the balls of his feet as he waited for the door to open. It seemed like it had been forever since he’d knocked, but he knew that it had only been moments. He was just being impatient. When the door finally opened, his face spread into a huge smile before he could help it.

It looked like Castiel had just rolled out of bed. He hadn’t even dressed for the day, he was still wearing sleep pants and a plain t-shirt. His hair was a holy mess, like Dean had never seen before. Although his hair was always a bit of a mess, and Dean had found he quite liked that, he was smitten by Castiel’s bedhead.

His eyes looked even bluer with his hair all dark and wild around his face. And was he tanner then the last time Dean had seen him?

“Whoa, Cas! You been hitting the pool?” He asked before he could stop himself. Castiel was definitely tanner. Although Dean couldn’t really imagine the man sunning.

Castiel looked down at himself briefly in a confused manner, and Dean realized he probably had no idea what Dean was talking about.

“Looks like you’ve been working on your tan since the last time I saw you.” He clarified.

“Oh. No.” Castiel answered, and Dean wondered if that was the only answer he was going to get. But, Castiel continued. “I’ve been running in the mornings, since I don’t have access to the school gym over the summer.”

“Oh, well it’s working out for you. You look great.” Dean cringed internally at his naturally flirtatious nature. He hadn’t come up here to hit on the man.

“Thank you.” Castiel answered, seemingly unaware that Dean’s words could have been taken as a come on.

“Anyway, I just came up here to say hi. I haven’t seen you in a while. It seems like the storms have stopped tormenting you.” Dean was proud of how casually that had come out, especially after the unintended flirting.

Castiel glanced up at the clear sky, a small smile barely visible. “Yes, I am very grateful. I have been able to get much better sleep lately.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet. But you know... you don’t have to wait for a storm to come down and hang out, right?” Dean tried to make sure his voice didn’t betray anything. He was just casually mentioning to a friend that he was welcome over anytime.

Castiel looked confused again, but seemed to realize what Dean was getting at a moment later. “I’m sorry. I suppose it has been some time since we last came to visit, hasn’t it?” He looked worried, as if he had accidentally committed some kind of unacceptable social faux pas.

“It’s all good, buddy.” Dean offered him a smile in the hopes of smoothing over any regretful feelings the man might be having. That wasn’t what Dean had come up here for, either.

“I was just coming up to see how you were doing. I only had a half day at work, so I figured I’d see what you were up to.”

“Oh.” Castiel looked surprised at that. “I have no plans for today.” He stared at Dean for a moment, but before Dean could try to continue the conversation, he spoke again.

“Would you like to come in?” Castiel took a step back, moving out of the way so Dean could enter his apartment.

“Yeah, sure.” Dean had always been curious what the apartment upstairs looked like. He knew the layout would be the exact same as his own, but he’d always wondered what the inside of the Novak home was like.

As he made his way into the apartment, he had a hard time concealing the surprise on his face. It was nothing at all as he’d been picturing it. Where as he and Sam’s decor was second-hand chic, everything in the Novak home looked brand new. And not the kind of new that only looked nice. Everything in their home was tasteful, and clearly expensive.

The dining area had an actual full length table in it, although it took up the entirety of the space in a way that said it had been purchased for a much larger room. The furniture in the living area looked like it had come straight out of a magazine. A classy magazine. Everything matched; both the couches with the chair, and the coffee table with the side tables. Even the lamps were the same. Once again, it was clear the set had been purchased for a much larger room than it currently occupied. There was absolutely no space between the pieces. One of the side tables was more in the walkway than the room.

The television was huge, and it hung on the wall behind one of the couches. There was no way to watch it from half the furniture in the room.

“Wow. Your place is way nicer than ours.” Dean said, unable to help himself, as he examined an expensive looking vase on a bookshelf. It looked like something you found at a museum. “Why do we always hang out at our crap hole?”

Castiel gestured him toward the living space as he closed the door. “We need to be on the bottom floor in case of tornadoes.”

He continued his explanation as he followed behind Dean. “Besides, I think your home has a much nicer feeling. Our home feels like…” The man trailed off, and Dean got the distinct impression that he had no real interest in finishing that thought. He changed the subject.

“Oh, hey! How’s that tutoring thing going? Did you start doing that yet?” Dean asked as he settled on the surprisingly comfortable couch. He tried not to read too much into it when Castiel dropped to the other side of the couch instead of choosing from the other seating available.

“It’s been fine. The only problem is the distance to some of the students houses. I didn’t take that into account when I signed up for this.” Castiel sighed as if he was disappointed in himself for not thinking about this aspect. “I’ve been walking to one of them, but I’ve had to learn the public transportation system to get to the rest. It is very time consuming. Texas doesn’t have a very good transit system.”

Dean knew that was true. Public transportation was a joke in this area. It was one of the reasons they chose these apartments. Sam wouldn’t have to worry about making it to classes on time if he could just ride his bike. “Oh, man! You should have told me. I’d be happy to give you a ride!”

Castiel’s face said Dean might have been a little too exuberant in his offer. He looked surprised and then doubtful.

“Really?”

Dean nodded, seriously. “Yeah, man. It sucks taking the bus everywhere.”

Castiel looked thoughtful for a moment, before seemingly giving in. “Well, it would be nice to get a ride sometimes.” He admitted.

Dean pulled his phone out of his pocket, and waved it at the other man. “Here, let me give you my number. You can call me anytime. If I’m not at work, I can give you a ride. No problem.”

“That is a very kind offer, Dean.”

Castiel reached over to a side table where his phone was sitting. Dean waited patiently while he pulled up the screen for adding a contact. When he was ready, his blue eyes swiveled back to Dean.

Dean watched happily as Castiel carefully input his phone number. This was the step in the right direction that Dean was looking for: exchanging phone numbers. He watched Castiel type his name into the space above his number.

“Ok, send me a text or something so I can add you to my contacts.” He said, pleased when his notification went off a minute later.

 

Unknown 1:05PM: Hello Dean

 

Dean chuckled a little at Castiel’s choice of words. That was his usual greeting.

 

Heya Cas (Delivered 1:05PM)

 

Dean sent one back, grinning at Castiel as he waited for the text to deliver. When Castiel looked down at his phone, his lips pulled back into a little grin.

“Now you’ve got my number. Don’t be afraid to use it.” Dean told him with mock sternness.

“Of course.”

“You’ll text me if you need a ride somewhere, right? Even if it’s just to the grocery store because Gabriel is at work, or something.” Dean tried not to sound too excited at the prospect of talking to Castiel more often.

“Yes, I will.” The man agreed amicably.

“Good.” Dean sent him a smile. He hoped that Castiel knew he was being serious about that, and he wasn’t just placating Dean. “Do you even have a bike or anything?”

Castiel sighed. “No. It would probably be a good investment, though. I saw that Sam rode his bike to school, and that seems much more effective than walking.” He shrugged. “Maybe I’ll get my own. I’ve been making pretty good money, lately.”

Dean nodded. It didn’t cost that much to get a bicycle and it did seem to be a pretty sound investment, if you didn’t have a car. “How much do you make for tutoring, anyway?”

“I make $30 an hour.”

“What?” That seemed like an outrageous amount of money to Dean, and he couldn’t help his shocked reaction to that news.

Castiel had that amused glint in his eyes, again. “It’s not as much as it seems. Most parents only hire me for one hour a week, and I only have three students right now. Although, I have been recommended to a few others, and I expect I will be getting a lot more work, soon.”

Dean nodded, because when you put it like that, it really didn’t seem like that much. Especially with the amount of effort Castiel had to put in to do a one hour job. “Well that’s great! You must be a pretty bad ass tutor if parents are recommending you to others.”

“I think it’s more because of my patience than being any kind of ‘badass’.” Castiel said, using the finger quotes that Dean had come to expect. “My sociology classes actually help quite a bit. It helps me understand why they are having such a hard time with certain things.”

“That’s pretty cool. At least you get to use the information you’ve learned. And it just goes to show that you really are a badass, if you’re able to find the problem and the solution.”

Castiel looked a little embarrassed at his words, but he also looked pleased, and Dean counted that as a win.

Usually, when Dean was trying to pick up women, one of the most effective methods had always been to get them talking about themselves. Not only did it take the heat off of Dean having to share, which he was terrible at, but it was always a subject they could usually talk about for some time. Even the most humble of people enjoyed talking about themselves, sometimes.

It was also pretty helpful in figuring out if Dean was actually interested in pursuing anything, or if he was just physically attracted to them. When he talked to someone about themselves, it was always interesting to see what subjects they brought up. Braggarts would always talk about the best things they’d ever done in their lives. Liars would come up with the most exceptional stories about themselves, even when it was clearly untrue. Some only talked about superficial things, their new haircut or their fancy clothes.

Some of them would bring up their ex, which just told Dean they weren’t quite over that heartbreak yet. Some would talk about their work, which told Dean it was a big part of their life.

Occasionally, they would talk and talk with no prompting from him, which usually meant they were full of themselves, but it sometimes meant they were lonely. With others he had to ask a million questions to get any information from them. It usually meant they were very private people, but sometimes it meant they weren’t comfortable with the subject.

Getting Castiel to talk about himself was very different. It was a confusing amalgamation of a bunch of his already established tells. They were talking about Castiel’s work, but it didn’t seem to be a subject that Castiel was all that interested in. Dean had to ask a question to get Castiel to continue talking, but it didn’t seem to be out of any kind of shyness, or discomfort with sharing information about himself. It might have been closer to the idea that Castiel wasn’t used to talking about himself.

Allowing someone to talk about themselves served to help Dean figure out if he was truly interested in someone, and this conversation was proving that he really was interested in finding out more. Castiel was an enigma he’d like to learn more about.

“Do you like it?” Dean asked.

“Oh, yes. I do enjoy it, actually. Quite a bit. It’s interesting trying to figure out what the block is and helping them work past it. And they always look so happy and relieved when they finally understand something. It is rewarding work.” While Castiel talked about helping people, his eyes lit up. It was clear he really did enjoy that part of his new job.

“How are you liking working at the shop?” The man asked, before Dean could get another question about him in.

“I love it.” He was being absolutely honest about that. He didn’t know if it had more to do with the misery he’d suffered behind a desk for so long, or if the work was actually enjoyable, but he intended to ride that wave of satisfaction as long as possible.

“I guess it’s a lot like what you were saying. It’s pretty neat being the person that has to figure out the problem, and also being the one that solves it.” Dean grinned at Castiel. He knew there was a huge difference between what Castiel did and what he did.

“Yes, it sounds fascinating.” Castiel didn’t sound ironic at all. It was as if he really did find Dean’s job interesting. “I have no idea how internal combustion engines work. There are so many moving parts, and electrical components. Not to mention the computer systems. I’m sure it’s difficult figuring out what’s wrong.”

Castiel’s eyes were wide and curious and it hit Dean that the man was actually interested in learning more. It shouldn’t have surprised him really. It was clear that Castiel was intrigued by a lot of different subjects.

“It’s not all that complicated most of the time. Just the old: suck, squeeze, bang, and blow.”

Castiel’s left eyebrow crept up towards his hairline, and it took a moment before Dean realized why that was.

“Well that came out wrong.” Dean said, feeling his cheeks heat as Castiel’s deep chuckle filled the air between them.

He rushed to explain his meaning, before he became too embarrassed. “That’s the easy way to remember how combustion engines work. Intake air- suck, compress- squeeze, ignite- bang, and exhaust- blow. Most of the issues have something to do with one of those four components. Once you narrow it down, you can figure out which part of that system is not working.”

“I see. That’s rather clever, actually. I bet that made it a lot easier for you to remember when you were first learning.” Castiel smiled with his eyes, as he usually did.

“Yeah it was. I’m sure I giggled myself stupid the first time my dad said that. It stuck with me, though.”

Castiel’s face held a gentle smile. He was clearly amused at the idea of a little Dean giggling because his dad had said something so inappropriate.

“That’s what mnemonic devices were designed for, after all.”

“Yeah, I guess that one really works. It’s not like I could forget my dad saying those words together.”

“I can imagine. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget hearing you say it.”

Dean could feel his cheeks heating again. He hoped it wasn’t showing, but the amused tilt to Castiel’s lips said it was.

“Well, I think I’m done embarrassing myself for one day.” Dean said, rolling his eyes. As he stood to leave, Castiel did the same.

“It was very nice talking with you, Dean.” Castiel told him as he lead him to the door. For once it wasn’t in that awkward tone he used when he felt obligated to make small talk.

Dean couldn’t help the swell of pride he felt at that knowledge.

“Yeah, Cas. This was fun. We should definitely do it again sometime.”

Castiel nodded as he opened the door, allowing Dean to brush past him. “Yes. We should.” He said with a smile.

“And seriously. Call or text me if you need a ride. Or if you see something funny on the internet.” Dean added the last with a grin. He hoped it would help Castiel would feel comfortable texting him about more than just transportation.

“I will do that. I much prefer texting, so it’s unlikely I will call unless it’s an emergency.” Castiel said it like it was a disclaimer, but Dean knew plenty of people that didn’t like talking on the phone.

“That’s cool. Text me anytime.”

Castiel nodded again.

“I’ll see you later, Cas.”

“Goodbye, Dean.”

Dean sent the man his most charming smile as he exited his apartment.

That had gone much better than Dean had even hoped. Not only had he managed to spend some time with Castiel, but he’d also acquired the man’s phone number. Even though it was only a baby step toward his goal, he was still proud of himself.

It had been just as easy as he’d remembered to talk to Castiel. And he was certainly still attracted to him. If things continued to go well, and if he could get a read off the man that said he was also interested, Dean was sure it wouldn’t be long before he would be able to work up the nerve to ask him on a real date.

Chapter Text

Dean was hard pressed to contain his excitement as he threw on a clean shirt and rushed out of his apartment. Castiel had not only text him, but now he was going to get the chance to hang out with the man for a little while. Even if it was just the drive to the other side of town.

He heard Castiel coming down the staircase above his head as he was locking the door, and when he turned around the other man was right behind him.

“Hello Dean.”

Dean smiled before he could help himself. Castiel had never greeted him any other way.

“Hey Cas. You ready to go?”

“Yes. Thank you for doing this for me.”

“No problem buddy.” Dean grinned and slapped a hand to Castiel’s back. He gave the man a little push toward his Baby, moving to the driver side as they drew closer.

“Which direction are we headed?” He asked as he pulled his door open.

Castiel didn’t answer until they’d seated themselves.  “Head north on main.”

They sat in a comfortable near-silence as Castiel directed Dean toward a large multi-lane road that lead to the other side of town. While their apartment complex wasn’t far from the center of the city, the place they were headed was pretty close to the outskirts.

Once they were headed in the right direction, Dean felt better about steering the conversation away from just directions.

“So, what class do you tutor? Or do you do all of them?” He asked curiously. He honestly didn’t know what Castiel’s job consisted of.

“This particular student is having trouble in history. I believe that his main issue is just keeping the events in order. Although the dates of events are important to some teachers, it’s much easier if you can remember the sequence of the events. You can infer the dates that you can’t remember just by keeping them in order.”

“I’m not sure I’m following.” Dean admitted, feeling a bit like he was another kid that Castiel had to teach.

“If you can remember that the French and Indian War happened before the war of 1812, then you can automatically cross off any dates that occur after that year. Most testing is multiple choice, so you can choose the best answer according to the things you do remember, as opposed to having to remember everything exactly correctly.”

Dean’s eyebrows were inching up into his hairline. Where the hell were tips like that when he was in highschool? Not that his parents would have been able to afford a tutor to tell him those things.

“That’s a pretty neat way of thinking about it.”

“Yes, but only if I can get the student to feel the same. He seems very determined not to learn anything.”

Castiel pointed ahead of them. “You’ll turn left at this light.”

Dean eased the car toward the turn lane, sparing a glance to the man beside him. “He doesn’t want to learn? Why does he have a tutor?”

“It’s not like tutoring the students at the college. They have to pay for their classes, and they are usually rather determined to pass. These students are usually being tutored because their parents want them to have better grades. They are not motivated to have better grades themselves.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

The street they turned down was lined with trees, and almost immediately after turning from the main thoroughfare it felt like they were in the country. It was strange to see what looked to be an orchard on one side of the road and a forest on the other when they had just been on a street that was busy enough to warrant four lanes.

Castiel leaned forward as if he was trying to get a better view of the street signs, and Dean allowed the car to slow a bit.

“This part may get a bit confusing.” Castiel said, throwing Dean a look of apology. “I’ve only ever been here on the bus, so I will have to try to navigate you through the streets I usually walk down.” He focused back on the road before them. “I’m trying to find the stop where I usually get off.”

“I’m guessing it doesn’t have a bench or anything to help.”

“No, but there will be a sign.”

Dean checked the rearview to make sure there was no one behind them, and then eased off the gas a little more. It was only a few moments later that Castiel pointed to a sign with a blue square in the top right corner.

“There it is. We will need to take the first right.”

Dean flipped on his indicator, even though he couldn’t see the road they would be turning on yet. He knew when he spotted it, though. As suddenly as the trees had begun they stopped, and a fence line started.

As Dean made the turn, he let out a low whistle. This was the kind of neighborhood that was imposingly nice. Manicured lawns sprawling in front of huge houses. Expensive cars sat in neatly painted driveways. It was the kind of place that Dean had never been, and had never really hoped to be.

“Jeeze, no wonder you make thirty bucks an hour!” Dean pointed out his window at a man in an expensive suit dropping into a brand new BMW.

“Yes, most of the parents that seek services like mine are very wealthy.” Castiel admitted.

“I’d say! Look at that Bentley!” Dean pointed to the driveway ahead of them on the passenger’s side. “Those things cost a small fortune! How the hell do they afford a car like that and that house?”

Dean knew his eyes were huge and fascinated, but he couldn’t help it. He’d never seen a Bentley in real life before. A car like that would never have showed up to either of the shops he’d worked at. He resisted the urge to pull over and get a closer look.

“You’ll be turning left at the stop sign.” Castiel said, and his amused tone snapped Dean back into the real world.

Castiel directed him to the correct house with no issue, and they pulled in front of it with 15 minutes to spare.

“So you want me to pick you up in about an hour?”

Castiel looked confused and then a bit surprised,

“I can take the bus home. I only didn’t know if I would be able to make it here on time on the bus.”

Dean shook his head. “Well, I’m already on this side of town, so I might as well give you a ride home.”

“That’s really not necessary.”

“Cas. What time are you done here?” Dean’s eyebrow rose  in challenge. He had every intention of giving Castiel a ride home, whether he liked it or not.

Castiel sighed, and it was a sound of defeat. Dean grinned as he realized he’d won, and the man rolled his eyes.

“Yes, I’ll be done in an hour.”

“Ok, see you in an hour, Cas.” Dean threw the man a cheeky grin as he climbed out of the car.

“Goodbye, Dean.” Castiel said, slamming the door in his face.


While he waited, he explored the part of town he’d never been on before. Just driving out of the housing community this kid lived in he’d seen no less than three Teslas. He didn’t even know there was a rich side of this town, and now he was smack in the middle of it.

When he made his way out of the neighborhood, he found shopping centers and strip malls filled with shops he knew he couldn’t afford to visit. But he could drive through the parking lots and see if there was anything worth trying to find a parking spot for.

He was fascinated by the uniformity of the buildings, how this whole side of the city seemed to blend together. Hell, even the McDonald's he spotted closer to the main road was nearly unrecognizable. There were no huge golden arches and bright colors. It looked exactly like the other buildings that surrounded it. Including a concrete parking lot and manicured bushes planted strategically for curb appeal. It was like being in an alternate universe.

 

When his time was up, he made his way back to the house where he’d dropped Castiel off. The man was standing on the front porch, a kid that couldn’t have been more than fifteen at his side.

Dean pulled the impala to a stop at the end of the walkway and waited for Castiel to say goodbye to his little student.

“Is that your boyfriend?” Dean could hear the kid ask, even over the purr of his engine. He was surprised at the question, but his reaction had nothing on the look of complete astonishment on Castiel’s face.

Dean expected to hear Castiel deny the question immediately, and was pleasantly surprised when he didn’t. “What makes you think that?”

“He dropped you off and picked you up. My sister’s boyfriend takes her to work, too.”

Castiel seemed to mull over that answer for a moment, and Dean found himself thinking about it too. If the kid had been any younger it would have been cute, the way he’d deduced the situation. As it was, the kid was at that age when bullying reigned, and he was acting rather casually about the thought that his tutor had a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend.

“Dean is just my friend. He’s just helping me out because your house is so far away from mine.” Castiel finally answered.

The kid shrugged as if it didn’t matter to him either way, but he gave the taller man a sly look out of the corner of his eye. “We moved here from California, you know.” He said, as if that had anything to do with the conversation.

When Castiel just looked confused, the kid continued.

“I don’t care if you have a boyfriend.” He said, rolling his eyes.

To the surprise of everyone involved, Castiel laughed. That incredibly rare grumble filled the air. The kid looked as shocked as Dean felt at the sound.

“Well, thank you Peter.”

Castiel ruffled the kid’s hair fondly, making him grumble a bit.

“I’ll see you next week.”

And then he was headed for the car.

Dean felt a rush of affection for the man, even as his head swam with this new information. Castiel hadn’t continued to deny that Dean was his boyfriend. He didn’t tell the kid that he wasn’t gay. He didn’t adamantly protest the idea, and Dean couldn’t help but think it was a very good sign.


After Castiel had finally broken down to ask Dean for a ride, it was as if the floodgates had opened. Castiel seemed much more comfortable with the idea of texting Dean, and even though it took a few days to get Castiel to talk about anything other than work or school, he eventually came around.

Suddenly they were talking about everything under the sun. Castiel told Dean about a dog that had harassed him for blocks on his walk to one of his student’s homes. Dean told him about the customer that came in and refused to believe his car just needed a new battery. He had been convinced that all the electrical problems he was having were a sign of something much worse. Dean had eventually told him if the new battery didn’t fix his problems he’d let the guy punch him in the face. Castiel had seemed horrified, but Dean assured him he was honestly just that confident in his assessment.

Castiel even sent him a few jokes. Dean always liked to send amusing anecdotes, and Castiel began sending his own dry version of the same.

Before Dean knew it they were texting all day long. It was mostly nonsense, but it was refreshing having someone to talk about nothing with. A fantastic way to pass the time that, more often than not, left him with a smile on his face.

The most surprising part of texting with Castiel was the emoticons the man used continually. While most times you had to guess at his emotions when actually holding a conversation, they were obvious when texting him. It was the complete opposite of every other person Dean had ever talked to. And the idea of the stern faced man using those silly faces to express himself through text was another whole level of amusement.

 

It was the end of the next week before anything else changed. The weather took a turn for the worse, and as soon as the weather app on his phone notified him of the incoming storm, he received a text from Castiel.

He couldn’t help but grin at that. Even though Castiel had allowed him to drive him to and from his farthest tutoring job again, it hadn’t been the same as having the man in his home. It wasn’t the same as a home cooked meal and a few beers, and it certainly wasn’t the same as being trapped in a too small closet while they waited for the storm to pass.

The text from Castiel was a little vague about why he was texting, and that amused Dean even further. He remembered Castiel’s admittance to ‘making himself available to being invited over’ the last time there was a storm, and decided that was what this text was really about. Well, there was no point in pretending.

 

It looks like theres a storm coming in tonight.  
Do you guys want to come hide at my place? (Delivered 4:15PM)

 

There was a long pause where he didn’t receive a response, but he wasn’t really concerned about that. Castiel wasn’t the best at responding quickly. He added a bribe anyway.

 

I’ll make dinner (Delivered 4:17PM)

 

Cas 4:18PM: Of course. With an offer like that,
how can I possibly refuse? :)

 

Dean let out a little chuckle. He might never get over the smiley faces Castiel loved to send. He wasn’t too proud to say he loved Castiel’s compliments on his cooking either.

 

Cas 4:19PM: Gabriel is working tonight.

 

Dean let out a bit of breath at that. Shit. Sam was working tonight too. Which would leave Dean and Castiel. Alone. With a homecooked meal and a storm raging outside. It sounded like a bad romance novel, and Dean could feel his cheeks heat before he could help himself.

“Well the color of your face says you’re in for a good night.” Ken rolled his eyes as he pushed passed Dean to get to the tools he stood stock still in front of.

“I guess that girl you’ve been talking to has finally crossed over into dirty talk territory.” Ken added with a half grin as he headed back to the car he’d been working on.

Dean stood with his mouth agape for a moment before that comment sunk in. Of course Ken would have noticed that Dean had been texting someone almost continuously. He didn’t usually text back until his hands weren’t busy, but he was texting every time his hands weren’t busy.

“Actually, we were just making plans for dinner.” He answered, but only because he didn’t want Ken to think he was sexting on the job.

He wondered how Ken would react if he told him he was talking to a man, instead. It seemed like the kind of detail that shouldn’t really matter, but at the same time, he felt like a liar for not correcting the man.

“Plans for dinner have got you blushing like that? She must be something else.”

Ken was a good ol’ boy. Born and raised in the south, probably in the kind of household that went to church every Sunday, and certainly didn’t entertain the idea of other lifestyles. And Dean found he was a little intimidated by the idea of sharing all of the facts.

“Well, we haven’t really been on a date yet.” He hedged, hoping that Ken’s tactful nature would keep him from asking many more questions. When Ken just grunted and went back to his work, Dean let out a breath of relief.

 

Sammy is working tonight too (Delivered 4:22PM)

 

Cas 4:23PM: Well then I guess it’ll just be
you and me for dinner


Castiel showed up well before the storm started. Dean was still in the middle of making them something quick for dinner.

“Would you like some help?” Castiel asked as he seated himself at the tiny bar side of the kitchen counter. It came out much more smoothly than some of his previous offers. He was either getting much better at making offers he felt obligated to make, or he was actually becoming more interested in doing the things he was offering.

Either way, it made Dean smile. Even if he was just a means to making Castiel more comfortable in social situations, he was happy to help.

“Nah, I’m almost done. It’s just shepherd's pie. It takes almost no effort at all.”

Dean had originally planned on Italian, but had decided it might be a bit too romantic. He didn’t want to make Castiel uncomfortable. And yes, he may have been overthinking things, but he’d rather take all sides into account. There was less risk of embarrassing himself.

Even as he’d been happy to have the extra time with Castiel, and was pleased at the progress he’d made, he wasn’t ready to reveal all his cards just yet.

“You want a beer?” He asked, pulling open the fridge door and pulling out two bottles.

“Thank you.” Castiel accepted the beer handed to him with an amused look.

Dean opened his own beer and threw the bottle cap across the room. It hit the wall and landed securely in the trash can.

“And the crowd goes wild.” Castiel commented, in that dry tone that never failed to pull a smile from Dean’s lips. The man then sent his own cap flying across the room, landing it without the ricochet that Dean usually employed.

“Nothing but net!” Dean faked the noise of a cheering crowd, grinning at Castiel with his own brand of sarcasm.

He returned to layering out the food for his dish.

“What will I be graced with this evening?” Castiel asked, curiosity coloring his voice as Dean poured a drained can of corn as the next layer.

“You’ve never had sheppard’s pie?” Dean wasn’t really surprised at that news. The Novaks seemed to never have heard of a lot of the dishes he’d made.

“No, what is it?”

“It’s a peasant dish. My mother used to make it for us when we were low on funds. Very filling, and not a lot of ingredients.” He meant to leave it at that. Shrug off the idea that his parents had ever been seriously struggling for money, and move on. The look of intense interest on Castiel’s face made him rethink that, though.

“The version I’m making for you is a little more complex than the way we used to eat it. It was always one of my favorites, but I couldn’t help messing around with the recipe a little bit.” Dean sent the man a grin at that. They’d talked before about Dean’s need to perfect even the best recipes to his own tastes.

When he’d finished layering all of the ingredients, he reached for a large bowl of mashed potatoes he’d already prepared. When he began slathering them over the whole thing he heard a noise of interest from his companion.

“The best part of this pie is not having to make a pie crust. It’s just potatoes.”

He threw the whole dish in the oven with a flourish, grabbing his beer and joining Castiel. They had a good forty minutes of booze and conversation ahead of them before the pie would be ready.

 

Chapter Text

Getting off work in the middle of the night was… different. Sam had always been an early riser, and was used to being dead asleep when it was this late.

Texas was a tough place to live in the summer. Most of the time it didn’t even matter how late he got off work, it was still ninety degrees in the dead of night. The storm that had passed through while he was working was a godsend after the month of blistering hot days they’d been suffering. Sure, it was still humid as hell, maybe even more so than usual, but the temperature had dropped and that was the part that counted. The ride back to the apartment was almost pleasant.

The mess that greeted him in the kitchen was a surprise. It looked like Dean had made dinner, and didn’t bother cleaning up afterward. There were empty beer bottles on the counter, next to the sink. Dean hadn’t even rinsed them, and that was not really his style. Dean never left a mess.

It was the two empty wine bottles next to the couch and the dirty wine glasses on the coffee table that finally made him realize why his brother had left such a mess.

It dawned on him that there had been a storm earlier in the night, and from there he could deduce that the Novaks had been over. And they’d apparently been drinking. Heavily.

Sam sighed. He’d missed out on all the fun. And if the sheer number of empty bottles meant anything, it had indeed been a good time.

He was startled out of his thoughts by the notification on his phone.

 

Gabriel 1:36AM: Is my brother down there?

 

Sam raised a brow at the question. Had they really drank enough for Gabriel to lose his brother between one apartment and the next?

 

I don’t see him anywhere (Delivered 1:37AM)

 

Sam was starving after his shift, so he dug through the fridge for leftovers of whatever Dean had made for dinner. He found a tupperware container with his name on a label across the top. And a smiley face. And a heart. Jesus, Dean must have been pretty far gone by the time dinner was over to have written that. Probably giggling his fool head off as he did.

Sam rolled his eyes as he threw the container into the microwave. Dean was usually pretty good at keeping his wits about him while he was drinking, but when he did really let go he had a tendency to act like a ten year old.

 

Gabriel 1:40AM: Open the door for me

 

The message was weird, but to be honest, it wasn’t the weirdest thing Gabriel had ever sent him. He heard the microwave beep as he went to open the door for his neighbor. The look on Gabriel’s face was so devious, Sam nearly took a step back.

He didn’t need to bother as the man forced his way passed, into the house, and surveyed the apartment.

“Well, Sammy. It looks like they didn’t need that extra push after all.” His neighbor’s grin spread.

“What do you mean?” Sam asked, closing the door with a sigh. There was no use pointing out to his guest that he hadn’t actually been invited in.

“I mean, I just got home from work.” Gabriel took in the bottles scattered around the apartment, his eyes twinkling with amusement as they landed back on Sam. “And I found this note.”

Gabriel peered around again as if he were looking for something as he shoved a slip of paper into Sam’s hand.

“I’ll be at Dean’s.” Sam read aloud.

“There was a storm last night, remember? And I was at work all night. And you being up this late tells me you were probably at work too.” Gabriel’s devious smile returned and he looked pointedly at the mess in the kitchen.

“Ok, so where are they now?”

Gabriel’s eyebrows jumped to his hairline at the question. “Where do you think?”

It hit Sam like a sack of bricks, then, what Gabriel was so cheerful about.

He couldn’t help feeling his heart drop at the idea. He was well aware that Dean was still in the middle of coming to terms with his interest in men. If something had happened while Dean was drunk, it was probably not going to go over well.

Gabriel started toward the hallway, and Sam’s hand reflexively shot out to grip the other man’s arm before he could pass him.

Gabriel looked down at where his hand was holding the man in place, and then pointed down the hallway he was clearly antsy about going down. “Let’s go see if he’s in there!”

Sam couldn’t believe his ears. “What? No! Gabriel!”

The look on Gabriel’s face was so baffled it was clear he didn’t see any problems with his plans. “Are you kidding? Why not?”

Sam sighed, realizing exactly where the miscommunication lay. “Dude, if you go in there all guns blazing, Dean’s going to freak out.” He couldn’t imagine that Castiel would be much happier about it, but he wasn’t really the type to feel embarrassed. He’d be angry, but Dean would be angry and embarrassed, and that combination had never led to anything good.

Gabriel stared at him a moment, as if he was unsure if Sam was being serious or not. Apparently, whatever he saw was enough to convince him. His tone was placating as he stated his case. “Ok, Sammy. I’m just going to peek. I won’t do anything to give them away. I swear. I’ll just have a little look-see and make sure my baby bro is here and alright.”

As irritating as Gabriel’s tone was, Sam couldn’t really find it in himself to tell Gabriel that he couldn’t at least get confirmation that his brother was alright. He released the man’s arm and nodded.

Gabriel got about three steps away from him before Sam started to follow. He tried to convince himself that he was just making sure Gabriel didn’t do anything too untoward, but he knew he was just as curious what they would find.

When he reached the door to Dean’s room Gabriel turned to him with a huge grin, before pressing a finger to his lips in a sign of quiet. He pressed his ear to the door and Sam tried to pretend he wasn’t interested in anything he might have been able to hear.

The blonde haired man turned his attention back to Sam, shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders before reaching for the doorknob.

The sight that greeted them as the door swung open was a shock to be sure. Not because their brothers were in any kind of compromising position or anything. It was actually a very peaceful scene, and luckily, both of their brothers were fast asleep.

The shock didn’t come from any trauma inducing positions or lack of clothing. As a matter of fact, from what Sam could see, their brothers were fully clothed. No the shocking part was how comfortable they looked. Not only was Dean sharing his bed with someone— something that happened very occasionally— but he looked perfectly content with sharing his space.

The last time Dean had slept in the same bed with an unfamiliar body he’d spent the entire day bitching about how little sleep he’d been able to get. He just couldn’t get comfortable with someone else in his bed, or so he’d said. He looked plenty comfortable now, though.

Sam didn’t know if the two of them could sense Gabriel and his presence, but Castiel stirred a bit, curling closer to where he was tucked under Dean’s armpit. Instead of struggling out of the other man’s hold, Dean’s arm came from where it was hidden from view under Castiel’s pillow and wrapped around the other man’s ribs. The sweetness of the scene was solidified, and it was almost picturesque.

Apparently Gabriel thought so too, and he pulled out his phone before Sam could stop him. The soft click of the camera seemed abnormally loud in the quiet room.

Sam’s eyes widened at the sound. He couldn’t believe Gabriel had done that! With a stony face, Sam dragged the man from the room, closing the door softly behind them. He didn’t risk talking until he’d pushed Gabriel all the way back to the front entrance.

“What were you thinking?” He snapped as quietly as he could.

The smirk on Gabriel’s face said he wasn’t at all intimidated at the reprimand. “I was thinking it had to be done.”

“Dude! Do you have any idea how close you’ve come to fucking everything up? Do you have any idea how hard Dean would have flipped out if he’d woken up with us staring at him while he cuddled with your brother?” Sam didn’t know how to get through to the shorter man, but he had to try. Gabriel didn’t know Dean, but Sam did. And he wasn’t about to let the man’s ridiculous antics fuck everything up.

“Dean would have gotten over it.” Gabriel said with a shrug, proving Sam’s point.

“You don’t understand! You could have ruined everything! Dean does not handle these things well.” Sam huffed impatiently. There was no real way to explain the way that Dean probably would have reacted without making his brother seem like an asshole. And that just wasn’t the case. He just didn’t deal with his feeling very well.

Gabriel placed a hand on each of Sam’s shoulders and brought them face to face. “None of that happened! Everything is fine!”

Sam tried to take a deep breath and relax. Gabriel was right, nothing had happened. Everything was fine. It was a risk he would never have taken, but it seemed as though Gabriel had gotten away with it unscathed. And, honestly, Sam should have been used to people making rash decisions by now, living with Dean for the last twenty two years.

Gabriel continued his argument with a smirk. “Besides, now we have this little gem as proof! We can show it at the wedding!”

Gabriel was already marrying their brothers off. Sam couldn’t help the pull of amusement at that statement. Instead of showing it, he sighed heavily.

“Would you get out of my house, please? I’d like to eat something and get some sleep.”

The spark in Gabriel’s eye said he knew he’d gotten to Sam, but he didn’t call him on it. “Alright, alright. I can’t wait for those drunk idiots to wake up tomorrow.”

Gabriel paused as he opened the door to leave, turning back to look at Sam imploringly. “Can I stay the night? I’d love to be here for that.”

“No! Geeze. The last thing they need is you all up in their business! I’m probably just going to hide in my room until Cas leaves.”

Gabriel pouted, but finally moved from the doorway.

“Fine. Night, Sammy. Text me with all the deets tomorrow!”

Sam caught the door before the other man could slam it behind him, sending out a glare as he closed it gently.

The microwave let out a beep from the kitchen, and Sam sighed. He hoped his food was still good after being reheated twice.


Sam’s morning started much earlier than he’d like. He didn’t know if he’d been subconsciously listening for movement from his brother’s room, but he usually slept like the dead and the noise was not nearly enough to wake him.

He couldn’t hear more then Dean and Castiel’s voices. He couldn’t even hear what they were saying, but he could hear the drone of a conversation through the walls. He rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep. He hadn’t been lying when he told Gabriel he had every intention of remaining scarce until Castiel left the house.

Of course, Sam couldn’t go back to sleep once he was awake. It just had to be one of those mornings. Every other damn day he could just roll over and go out like a light, but the one time he really needed to, it was impossible.

He lay in the quiet of his room trying to force sleep as he heard the quiet whispers of his brother and their neighbor. He tried not to imagine what they were talking about, but it was impossible. He was just too curious about the events of the night. Before he knew it, he had his ear pressed to the wall in an effort to hear the actual words being spoken. It didn’t help at all, and he rolled his eyes at himself. He was as bad as Gabriel.

No, Gabriel would have had a cup against the wall like they did in old movies. Even as Sam snickered over that thought, his eyes fell to the cup on his nightstand. Nope. He was not like Gabriel. Dean and Castiel deserved their privacy.

Ok, but just to see if the stupid cup thing actually worked.

By the time he’d chugged down the water left in his cup and had it pressed between the wall and his ear, all he heard was the sound of the front door closing. Well damn. He should have given into that urge sooner.

Gabriel was a terrible influence.

Well, there was no way he’d be able to pretend to sleep much longer, and he really wanted to get the chance to talk to his brother before he locked himself up in his room. It was only logical for Sam to get up now and get it over with.

Dean was still standing next to to the front door when Sam came out. Even though it had taken longer than he’d thought it should to convince his body it was time to get out of bed already.

Sam raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment. If Dean was working things through in his mind, he didn’t really feel the need to interrupt. He made his way to the kitchen to get some coffee brewing instead. Chances were they would both be needing a lot of it.

Eventually, Dean shuffled into the kitchen, filling a mug and moving to sit at the bar without making eye contact. So, pretty much acting exactly as Sam had expected, although his brother not making immediately for his bedroom was surprising.

“So…” Sam started, leaning against the counter and facing his brother. He didn’t really know how to start a conversation about what he’d seen the night before, but if Dean was making himself available, Sam was planning to take advantage of the situation. It turned out Dean didn’t need much prompting.

“Cas stayed over last night.”

Maybe this was going to be easier than Sam had anticipated.

“Yeah, I know. Gabriel text me worried about him.”

Sam didn’t know if he should tell his brother what he’d seen the night before, or just let the insinuation hang. He was still working it out in his head when Dean started talking again.

His voice was rushed and a bit higher of a pitch than he usually used. “I woke up, and Cas was sleeping in my bed with me, Sammy.” There was a healthy amount of fear in his brother’s eyes.

“What does that mean?” Sam was confused why his brother was reacting in fear instead of anger or embarrassment.

Dean’s eyes never left his own as he practically whispered. “Sam, I don’t remember how we ended up that way.”

“Shit.” At least Dean’s alarm made more sense now. He never got blackout drunk anymore. And he’d always done things he would regret the next day when he had. “What do you remember?”

“We were just hanging out. We had a few drinks while we waited for dinner to get ready. Then we watched some weird documentary on bees that Cas wanted to see... We talked for a bit… I think he brought down some wine, because we were running out of beer…” Dean was clearly trying to recall everything he could, but there was something more important than all the little things he could piece together later.

“What’s the last thing you remember, Dean?” Sam asked gently.

“I was telling him about Baby.” Dean’s eyes widened as more memories hit him. “Shit!”

He got up from his stool, pacing and running a hand through his hair. “I think I told him her whole history, Sam.” Dean turned a desperate expression on him, and Sam didn’t know how to react.

He tried very hard not to show the actual level of surprise he felt. As much as Dean talked about his car— and he loved talking about that car— he never told anyone the story behind her. Maybe Charlie knew, but it certainly wasn’t common knowledge. Dean hated talking about that part of their lives.

“You told him everything?”

The pained look on Dean’s face said it all.

“Wow.” Sam said before he could stop himself. He received a glare in response. “Well, what did Cas say this morning?”

Dean scrubbed his face with his hands again, plopping himself back into the stool and wrapping his hands around his abandoned coffee cup like a lifeline.

“He didn’t say anything. You know Cas. He just thanked me for letting him stay and offered to help me clean up the mess.” Dean sighed heavily and let his forehead land on the bartop.

Sam could practically see the stress rolling off his brother’s shoulders as he thought of all the possible ways he’d messed up the night before. He didn’t really know how to comfort his brother, though. “What are you afraid of?”

He certainly wasn’t expecting his brother to hop out his seat with a noise of pure frustration at the question.

“I’ve just spent the last three weeks trying to work out if I was gay enough to try something with a dude, and then proceeded to get blackout drunk with the guy! We woke up in bed together! What the fuck do you think I’m worried about, Sam?”

Well, he kind of had a point there, and the look on his face spoke of how worried he truly was.

Sam had to ask. “Do you think something happened?”

“I don’t know! And that’s the problem right there! What if something did happen, and I can’t even remember it?” Dean seemed distraught, which wasn’t really something Sam was used to seeing from his brother. At least not when it involved ending up in bed with someone. So, he did the only thing he could think of to help.

“Don’t worry. We’ll figure this out.” He reassured his brother as he scrolled through his phone’s contact list. Gabriel was finally going to get his chance to get involved, it seemed.

Chapter Text

“Dean, Dean, Dean.”

Dean took a deep breath to steady himself before he turned to the man behind him. He was going to need it.

The shit eating grin he was greeted with only cemented that truth.

“Gabriel.” Dean greeted as he watched the other man pull himself up onto the bar stool next to him.

“You must be pretty desperate to have called me.” Gabriel said, sending a signal to the bartender for a beer.

“I don’t know if I would call it desperate…” Dean hedged. He didn’t really know how much Gabriel was already aware of. And he hated thinking of himself as desperate. He might be a little unnerved at his loss of memories, but he wasn’t desperate to find out what happened. Or at least, that’s what he told himself, no matter how long he’d already spent trying to put the pieces of his memories together before he’d given in to Sam’s idea of talking to Gabriel about it.

“What would you call it then?” Gabriel asked, smirking as if he knew how Dean actually felt about this whole thing. The smarmy bastard.

“Curiosity?”

Gabriel’s smirk widened. “Yeah, sure. We can go with that if it makes you feel better.”

The bartender dropped his beer on the bar in front of him and Gabriel sent him a smile. “Thanks, Sammy.”

Dean couldn’t help but be amused at the pinched look on Sam’s face. He didn’t know when Gabriel had picked up Dean’s nickname for Sam, but it still seemed to irritate his brother just as much.

“I was going to get you guys some shots. But since you insist on referring to me with a name that I associate with a chubby ten year old, I won’t.”

“No! Wait! Sam!” Gabriel reached dramatically over the bar toward Sam, but was completely ignored. Well, other than the finger Sam flashed as he walked away from them.

“Damn it.” Gabriel mumbled pouting.

“Don’t let him get to you. He probably wasn’t going to give us free booze anyway. He just wanted you to think he would have.”

It was weird being back at the bar with Gabriel. They hadn’t really hung out together since Dean had been working two jobs. Even after he’d switched to just working at the shop, they’d never picked back up on their bar hopping days. It was even weirder now that Sam was the one serving them.

”Well, that’s not very nice at all.”

Dean couldn’t help but grin at the pout on Gabriel’s face. He seemed genuinely upset that Sam was denying him the free booze that was probably never really on the table to begin with.

When Gabriel finally turned his attention back to Dean, his amusement returned. “So, anyway, Sam tells me that you can’t remember what happened last night.”

Dean sent his brother a glare, even though the other man wasn’t paying any attention to him. He knew Sam and Gabriel had been gossiping about the situation between Castiel and him for a while, but maybe he hadn’t realized how candid their brothers actually had been about the whole thing. At least Dean didn’t have to admit to Gabriel why they were meeting up. Apparently, Sam had already informed him.

“He said you were freaking out not knowing what you might have pulled while you were alone with Cassie.”

What the actual fuck? He was going to kill Sam.

“I am not freaking out.” Dean sent the man an exaggerated eye roll just to show how ridiculous an idea that really was. Dean didn’t freak out about being blackout drunk.

No, he was just a little nervous that he had fucked up all his plans where it came to the younger Novak. And he was worried he’d done something to offend the other man. He knew there was at least one moment of overshare, so he was pretty sure he was right to be a bit apprehensive about anything else he might have accidentally shared with Castiel.

He wasn’t freaking out, though.

Sam chose that moment to bring him a new beer, so he couldn’t help snapping some of his thoughts at his brother.

“You told Gabriel that I couldn’t remember?”

Sam’s brow furrowed, as if he didn’t know what Dean was upset about. “Well, yeah. How was he supposed to find out what Cas knew if he didn’t know what his mission was?”

Fucking Sam and his fucking logic!

“You told him that I’m freaking out ?” Sam couldn’t logic his way out of that. No matter what, Sam had definitely shared too much.

“You are freaking out .” Sam stated it as a fact, but used the same weird inflection that Dean had.

“I’m not freaking out! And even if I were, do you really think it’s okay for you to share that information?”

Sam looked incredibly unimpressed with his protestations. “So, you don’t want Gabriel to know that you care enough about his little brother to worry about how you might have made some unwanted advances while you were under the influence?”

Dean’s mouth dropped open at that. Who the hell did Sam think he was? He couldn’t just go around saying shit like that. Of course Dean wanted Gabriel to know that he cared, but that didn’t mean he had to let the guy know everything .

Sam walked away before Dean could come up with a good response, and he was left alone with Gabriel again. Before he could gather his thoughts, Gabriel’s amused voice cut them off.

“So… what are your intentions with my brother?”

Dean groaned and laid his head down on the bar in front of him. He supposed he deserved this, but that didn’t mean he had to be happy about it. He knew Gabriel was going to make this as painful as possible, so he might as well accept his fate. It was probably the only way that he’d get the information he wanted.

He’d known all this would come up eventually, anyway. He just hadn’t really prepared himself for it yet. He figured it would come down the line when he finally got up the nerve to ask Castiel on a date. But of course he’d gotten drunk and stupid and the whole thing was brought up much sooner than he’d been prepared for.

Dean lifted his head to look Gabriel in the eye. If he was going to do this, he needed to do it right. At least Gabriel was already a friend, so it should be a little less painful than it ever was with any of his exes’ families.

“I never know how to answer that question. I guess I intend on asking Cas out. If he says yes, I intend on taking him out on a date. If he says no I intend on acting like I never asked him in the hopes that we can continue our friendship, anyway.”

Gabriel looked like he was taking Dean’s answer seriously which he hoped was a good sign. “That’s actually a good point. Okay, well what if you guys start dating? Do you intend to love him and leave him?”

“What? No! Of course not!” He actually hoped Gabriel believed him on that. When they’d been drinking buddies they’d shared a lot of stories about their past relationships and one night stands. He hoped that wasn’t going to come back and bite him in the ass now.

Why couldn’t he have figured out what his feelings for Castiel were before he’d told his big brother all his sleaziest stories?

“So you’re planning on having a relationship?” Gabriel asked him with raised eyebrows.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You guess ?” Those eyebrows dropped into a heated glare, and Dean reacted instinctively.

“Well, shit Gabriel! I’ve never been attracted to a guy before! I haven’t even gotten up the nerve to ask him out yet! I don’t exactly have a five year plan!”

Gabriel was understandably taken aback by that outburst, considering that Dean was, too. He hadn’t meant to yell at Gabriel for his invasive questions, he just didn’t know how to answer them.

He let out a sigh, hoping he hadn’t fucked everything up, and Gabriel would still tell him what he’d found out from Castiel. He knew he was going to have to give Gabriel something, though.

“Okay, here’s what I do know. I like Cas. A lot. He’s smart and funny and hotter than hell. I’ve never done this before, so I don’t even have to lie when I tell you we’re probably going to take it slow. I’m not going to promise you that if we start dating we’ll live happily ever after, but it seems like we’re pretty compatible, and I’d like to give it a shot.”

Dean realized his tone was almost pleading, and he tried to reel it in a bit. He didn’t need the man to realize quite how much of the upper hand he really had.

Gabriel seemed to be analyzing him, and he couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not. He really needed the information Gabriel was withholding, but he didn’t know what else he could say to reassure the man his intentions were pure. He didn’t want to make any promises he wouldn’t be able to keep.

“Will you tell me what you know, now?”

Gabriel seemed startled by the question, but his expression changed rather quickly as he cringed. “Sure! But you’re not going to like it.”

Well, shit. Maybe he had already done something to fuck up all his plans. One night with too much booze, and he’d ruined everything. He might as well get this over with.

“Okay. Well, lay it on me then.”

“I don’t know anything.” Gabriel’s face contorted into an expression that could only be described as pained, as if he was somehow remorseful.

“What?”

“I don’t know anything. I tried to get some details out of Cassie, but he wouldn’t tell me anything.”

Dean could not believe what he was hearing. It was clear from Gabriel’s expression he was telling the truth, but Dean couldn’t seem to stop the rush of annoyance.

“Are you fucking kidding me? I just spilled my guts to you! For nothing?”

Gabriel seemed to cheer up, for whatever fucking reason. “Not for nothing, Dean-o! You now have my official stamp of approval if you want to date my brother.”

“You mean if I didn’t already fuck everything up. And if I ever get the balls to ask him out. And if he decides he actually wants to date me.” Dean listed dryly.

“Yep!”

“Wow. Thanks Gabriel.” After that response Dean realized he was using Castiel’s regular line of defense against his brother. Dry sarcasm.

“No problem.” Gabriel’s smirk was so obnoxious Dean had to physically hold himself back from violence.

“Hitting me will probably make me rescind my stamp of approval.” Gabriel told him with a sage nod. Dean glared in response.

“It might be worth it.” He was having a hard time accepting he wasn’t getting anything out of Gabriel, even after all the talk about his damn feelings.

“Does Castiel even care if I have your approval?”

“No idea.” Gabriel admitted with a shrug. “But it’s probably a step in the right direction.”

That might be true, but more than likely it was bullshit. Castiel wasn’t the type to care what other people thought of him, but it was possible he’d care if Gabriel didn’t approve.

Dean couldn’t help the put upon sigh that escaped him. “What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I still don’t have any idea what happened last night.”

“I thought this would be obvious, but it clearly isn’t.”

Dean looked at Gabriel with his most pathetic puppy dogs eyes. He’d learned that trick from Sam, and even though his weren’t nearly as good, he hoped they would work this time. Even Gabriel’s shitty advice was better than no advice at all.

“Ask Cas!”

“What? I can’t just ask him!” Dean couldn’t believe Gabriel was even suggesting it.

“Yes you can, idiot. Not only is that the only way you’ll figure out what happened, but you and I both know that Cas is a pretty straight forward dude. He appreciates honesty. Even if he’s disappointed that you forgot something, he’d much rather hear it from you.”

Well, shit. Gabriel was absolutely right. Castiel was the kind of person that would be appreciative that Dean was being honest with him, even if he ended up being a little upset at the situation. And he’d probably fill Dean in with all the forgotten details, even if it pained him to do so.

“I can see that you agree with me. Cassie is at home now, and I plan to have a few more beers, here, with my boy Sam. I mean… if you wanted to go talk to him, I wouldn’t be around spying or anything.”

That just made Dean think Gabriel had every intention of spying, so he rolled his eyes as he dropped from his bar stool. He slapped a twenty on the bar, hoping that covered his tab. The bar wasn’t that nice, but it wasn’t a dive either. He had no idea what they charged for beer. So, he was either leaving a shitty tip, or a really good one. Either way, he had somewhere else to be.

He slapped Gabriel on the back on his way out, maybe a little harder than necessary. It wasn’t easy to forgive Gabriel for making Dean talk about his feelings. Especially when he’d known the whole time he didn’t have anything to offer in return.

Dean threw Sam a little wave goodbye and got out his phone to text Castiel. He’d just have to ask that they meet at the Winchester’s apartment. Gabriel had already shown his hand on his trustworthiness, and Dean had no desire to be anywhere that Gabriel could listen to the conversation.

Chapter Text

It seemed to take forever for Castiel to make his way to the Winchester’s apartment, although it could only have been minutes after Dean himself had arrived from the bar. He was just too filled with nervous energy, and had a hard time sitting still while he waited. As soon as the knock at the door sounded, he hopped up and rushed toward it.

Fear had always made Dean do crazy things, and most of the time that translated into running at it head first.

Although, once the door was opened and Castiel was standing in front of him, he lost a little of his nerve.

It took him a second to figure out what to say, but he ingeniously settled on, “Hey, Cas.”

“Hello, Dean.” Castiel offered with a tiny smile.

“Uh, come on in, man.” Dean stepped back to let the other man into the house, cursing himself for his newfound awkwardness. It was bad enough before, when he’d figured out how he felt about Castiel. Now it was like he had no idea how to act around him at all.

Dean lead his guest to the kitchen bar before he could think better of it. He felt his face redden as Castiel took in the overabundance of treats spread across the surface.

So, Dean might have been stress baking all morning while they’d been waiting for a response from Gabriel.

“I was wondering why my apartment smelled like a bakery.” Castiel commented, casually.

Dean could feel the blush on his face spread as an eyebrow was raised at him.

“Are you participating in a bake sale?”

“Uh, no.” Dean nearly slapped himself for denying Castiel’s assumption. It would have been easier to agree. Now he’d have to think of a better excuse for the excess amounts of baked goods he’d made.

“I just had some extra time on my hands.” He said, and then immediately berated himself for that ridiculous answer. No normal person spends all of their free time baking. Especially not as much as he had.

It had started with just the muffins. He was hungover and needed something filling for his stomach. But after the muffins were done, he still had some mashed up banana and walnuts left over and decided to make bread. Then, of course, the oven was still warm and he couldn’t think of any reason not to make some pie. Three pies later and Sam had finally stepped in. There was no way the two of them would be able to eat it all, and he was just wasting resources— or so he’d been informed.

“It looks as delicious as it smells.” Castiel complimented.

Well, at least it could be used as a distraction while Dean thought of a way to bring up the reason he’d invited Castiel over. “Help yourself. No way will we be able to eat all this. I may have gotten a little carried away.”

Castiel seemed to take in the offerings before he reached for one of the muffins. A moan of approval came with his first bite, and Dean did his very best to ignore it.

“Do you want something to drink?” His offer was met with a visible cringe from Castiel and it took a moment for Dean to figure out why. He couldn’t help the bark of laughter that escaped him.

“I meant, would you like some milk with that? Water? We probably have a couple of sodas, too.”

Dean completely understood the reluctance to drink alcohol after the night they’d had. He was usually more of a fan of the “hair of the dog” method himself, but he knew that most people shied away from booze for a while after a night of heavy drinking.

Castiel offered him a bashful grin. “Oh. Well, in that case, yes. Milk sounds like a great complement to this muffin.”

“Coming right up!” Dean snapped in his best waitstaff impression and poured his friend a glass. He set it in front of Castiel, while surreptitiously pushing a paper towel under his muffin. He might have done a little stress cleaning too, and he knew for a fact those muffins were a mountain of crumbs waiting to happen.

There was a comfortable silence as Castiel finished his treat, and Dean tried to use the time to come up with a gentle way of telling Castiel the truth about his memories— or lack thereof. Before he could come up with anything the silence was broken by his guest.

“Thank you for allowing me to stay last night.”

If Dean didn’t know any better, he might have thought that Castiel sounded embarrassed. But Castiel didn’t usually do embarrassment, so he brushed off that thought.

“It’s not a problem, Cas. You know you’re welcome here anytime.” Dean told him with a smile. He was shocked to see Castiel shift uncomfortably in his seat. He wasn’t meeting Dean’s eyes either, which was suspicious. Dean hoped he wasn’t about to find out he’d done something shameful the night before that had caused Castiel discomfort.

“I can’t help but wonder how that decision was made, though.” Castiel’s voice was quiet, and he still refused to make eye contact.

“What do you mean?” Dean asked, equally quiet.

Suddenly, Castiel’s usual eye contact was back, and he looked determined. “How did we come to the decision that I would sleep down here instead of returning to my own apartment upstairs?”

Dean was unnerved by the question, mostly because he had no answer for it. He’d been wondering the same thing all day. It took much longer than it should have to realize what Castiel’s question meant, though.

“You don’t remember!” Dean knew his tone had come out more accusing than he’d intended. He was just so relieved and astounded that he couldn’t control it. He immediately felt bad as Castiel’s face fell into what could only be shame.

“I’m terribly sorry. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed enough alcohol to forget what happened before.”

“No! Cas! This is great news!” Dean tried to reassure his friend, and it wasn’t until Castiel looked back at him with a fair amount of shock that he realized how odd an exclamation that actually was.

“I mean, I don’t remember much either! That’s why I asked you over here. I was hoping you’d be able to fill in some blanks for me .”

Castiel looked equal parts annoyed and relieved by Dean’s admission. Probably because Dean wouldn’t be able to fill in any blank space in his own memories.

Castiel even seemed a little amused by Dean’s outburst. “I’m afraid that won’t be possible. I don’t actually remember much beyond dinner.”

Dean grinned. He couldn’t help it. As much as it pained him that he hadn’t been able to remember any progress he may have made the night before, he was still reassured that at least Castiel couldn’t recall much either.

“I remember watching some weird documentary on bees, but not much after that.” Dean admitted, hoping to jog their memories a little.

Castiel looked pleased. “You watched a documentary about bees with me?”

“Yeah.” Dean felt his face reddening again. Castiel just seemed so happy at the idea. “You were pretty stoked about it.”

At least Castiel wasn’t immune to blushing, either. “I do find bees fascinating.”

“And humanity can’t survive without bees. I know; you told me.” Dean grinned at the darkening of Castiel’s cheeks.

“Well, it’s true.” Castiel replied, petulantly.

They sat in contemplative silence for a while, Dean hoping that Castiel wouldn’t bring up anything he remembered about Dean’s moments of overshare. He didn’t know what Castiel was thinking about, but it seemed as though neither of them could remember how Castiel had ended up in Dean’s bed. He didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing.

“The storm probably didn’t hit until late, and you didn’t want to be home alone.” Dean offered in the form of an explanation. It made sense to him, and it was as good an explanation as any.

“Yes. That makes sense.” Castiel agreed readily, which just served to make Dean a little suspicious. Castiel rarely thought in the abstract, and usually liked to argue all of the counterpoints whenever he had to.

“You’re just going to accept my first suggestion?” Dean asked. He couldn’t help it. He was too curious about Castiel’s sudden agreeability.

“It seems like a reasonable explanation.” Castiel said with a shrug, but once again he was avoiding direct eye contact. Dean couldn’t possibly let it go now.

“Well. Now I think you know what really happened and you don’t want to share it with me.”

Castiel looked a little horrified at the idea that he’d be withholding such information from Dean. “Why would I do that? I honestly don’t know what happened.”

“Okay.” Dean knew that Castiel wouldn’t do something like that, and he didn’t really like to see that look of hurt in the other man’s eyes. It didn’t explain why he was acting so strangely, though.

Then a random thought occurred to him. “But you suspect something.”

Castiel looked a little caught out, but only shrugged. “Perhaps. Or perhaps I have just been working through scenarios in my mind, and have no idea which one of them might actually be real.”

That made sense. It was a pretty normal reaction to having no memory of what had happened, especially when you woke up in a strange place. Although, Dean wouldn’t know anything about that.

“Uh, yeah. I’ve been doing a lot of that myself.” Dean confessed, making sure not to look at the baked goods on the bar. That was just one of the tamer possibilities.”

What the literal fuck was wrong with him? When had he lost complete control of his own mouth? There was no way Castiel wasn’t going to ask, and there was no way Dean wanted to answer. Most of his thoughts had centered around his crush on Castiel, and how he’d been able to convince the man to get into his bed. And if he might somehow be able to do it again when they weren’t drunk.

Castiel looked much too intrigued. He turned his entire body toward Dean, one eyebrow raised in question.

When it became clear that Dean wasn’t going to offer anything, Castiel asked, “What were some of the less tame possibilities?”

As hard as he tried, he couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t incriminating, so Dean just answered as vaguely as possible. “Ah, you know. Drunk Dean is a bit of a charmer.”

Castiel looked highly amused. “You thought you might have charmed me into your bed?”

“Well, I don’t know. Maybe.” It was Dean’s turn to avoid eye contact and shift around uncomfortably on his stool. He knew where this was likely to go, and he didn’t really know if he was ready for it.

“And do you make a habit of charming men into bed, as well as women?” Castiel looked like he was actually interested in his answer, and Dean could only guess why. Probably because Gabriel had a big friggin’ mouth and he knew all about Dean’s history with the ladies. He hadn’t shared any stories about seducing men, because he didn’t have any.

“Uh, not… not usually. No.”

Castiel only looked confused by his answer. “So, what made you think that was a possibility?”

There really was no way around this answer, was there? He was just going to have to bite the bullet and hope for the best here. He certainly didn’t want to lie, but there was no way around the truth at this point.

“Look. I like you, okay? I like you, and I was worried that I went and fucked up any chance I might have had with you when I was drunk. I thought I might have pulled some dumb drunk bullshit and turned you off from the idea before I’d even gotten the chance to ask you out.”

Dean was having a hard time meeting Castiel’s gaze. It was painful, admitting everything, but it was also a relief to finally have it out in the open. He didn’t know how long it would be before he’d gotten up the nerve to talk to Castiel about all this, and just blurting it out actually felt pretty good. It would be nice to have a yes or no answer to whether Castiel was interested, though.

It wasn’t really working out the way he’d planned it, but none of his plans had come to fruition yet. And now he would know if he needed to start rebuilding a friendship, or start planning a date.

“You like me.” Castiel stated it bluntly, but not without disbelief.

Dean forced himself to make eye contact. He wanted Castiel to know he was serious. “Yeah. But I don’t really want to lose our friendship over this, so if you’re not interested just let me know. We can just go back to the way things were and forget about this whole thing.”

Castiel sat in silence, and it was killing Dean not to keep talking. He knew it was a bad habit he’d developed— talking through uncomfortable situations— but he also knew that now was not the time. He really did want Castiel to think it over before he answered. He couldn’t help but think it was a good sign that he wasn’t immediately rejected. He also couldn’t help wishing that Castiel would just say something already.

When he finally did speak, it was certainly not what Dean had been expecting.

“Would you like to go on a date?”

Dean felt his mouth drop open. How the hell did he make that look so easy? Dean had been trying to figure out how to ask Castiel the same question for months, and the guy just up and said it.

Castiel was staring at him expectantly, and it took Dean a moment to catch up. Right, he was expected to answer that question.

“Yes.”

Dean swore that at one point he’d been much smoother than this. He should have been able to joke and flirt his way through this conversation. He’d always been able to before. But apparently, Castiel’s blunt forwardness was infectious. Yes; Dean did want to go on a date with Castiel.

Castiel looked pleased at his answer, as if he had really been unsure even after Dean’s confession. “Where would you like to go?”

Oh, yeah. That was one of the things that had held him back from asking Castiel on a date. The guy never seemed to want to go out. It wasn’t like Dean was going to ask him to go to a bar. He knew Castiel was unlikely to enjoy that. Plus, he’d probably be staying away from booze for a while.

“To be honest, I didn’t really know if I’d ever get up the guts to ask you out. I haven’t really given much thought to what we’d do if I ever did.” Dean admitted.

Castiel only looked amused. “Well, it’s a good thing I asked you then.”

“Are you insinuating that I still don’t have the guts to ask you out?” Dean asked, full of false bluster and bravado.

Castiel shrugged and raised that cursed eyebrow again, mockingly .

Well, Dean wasn’t about to let that slide. He pasted on his most charming smile and leaned a little into the other man’s personal space. “Hey, Cas. Do you want to go out with me?”

Castiel tried his best to look absolutely serious, but the amusement still shone through his eyes. “It doesn’t count now. You already know that I would like to date you.”

“It still counts!” Dean defended.

Castiel just looked doubtful and unimpressed, and Dean was grateful he’d waited so long before they’d gotten around to this. If he didn’t know the man as well as he did, he might have bought his act and been scared off. As it was, it just made Dean want to work harder.

Inspiration struck and he couldn’t help the mischievous grin that spread across his face. “Fine. Since you are the one that asked me out, you have to plan the date.”

Castiel was trapped. They both knew it, but he seemed to contemplate an answer for a long time. He’d barely left his apartment since Gabriel and he had moved to town. There was no way he’d be able to plan a date here. He finally seemed to give in.

“Ask me again.”

Dean grinned triumphantly, but tried to tone it down before he asked the question. “Cas, would you like to go on a date with me?”

Castiel offered him a small shy smile, as if they hadn’t been discussing this for the last few minutes. “Yes, Dean. That sounds lovely.”

And then his face twisted into a wicked smirk. “Where are we going?”

Dean let loose a bark of laughter, lightly punching the other man’s shoulder in retaliation. “You ass!”

They sat grinning at each other for several moments before Dean finally broke the silence. “Don’t worry. I’ll think of something.”

Chapter Text

It took more effort to plan a date for him and Castiel than Dean had ever needed in the past. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go out with the guy. Hell, he’d been thinking about it for months. The problem was he didn’t know how he was supposed to plan a date with a dude.

Ok, maybe it had less to do with the dating a guy thing and more to do with it being Castiel.

It wasn’t like he couldn’t picture two guys hanging out at a bowling alley, or playing putt-putt together. He just couldn’t see Castiel doing those things. Dean couldn’t remember him ever showing enthusiasm for anything like that, at least.

There was the option to just do the usual dinner and a movie, but movies were pretty hit or miss with Castiel. He’d seemed to enjoy “A New Hope” when they’d all watched it together, but had been completely disinterested in “The Voyage Home”, except when he was disputing all the inaccuracies and horrible time travel etiquette.

Plus, he couldn’t really picture them getting dressed up and going to a fancy restaurant. Not that he didn’t want to see what Castiel looked like in something other than wrinkled tee shirts and jeans. He just didn’t want either of them to be uncomfortable, and he knew getting dressed up made some people uncomfortable. And going to fancy places certainly made Dean himself uncomfortable.

In the end, it was Sam that came up with the solution.

“Why can’t you just take him out for burgers and beer?” He’d asked, after days of Dean wondering aloud where he could possibly take Castiel on their date.

Dean rolled his eyes at the suggestion. “That’s not a date, Sammy.”

Sam just rolled his eyes. “Yes, it is. The point of a date is to get to know each other better, right? Well, you already know Cas pretty well, and that’s why you’re having such a hard time planning a generic date. You know he wouldn’t be interested in any of those.”

Dean didn’t really believe it could be that simple, but the more he thought about it the more sense it made.

That’s why Castiel didn’t fit into any of his date plans. They were plans he’d made with people he didn’t know. It was easier to go with something common for the first date. But he did know Castiel, and he knew the man wouldn’t be interested in those dates.

“Well, Cas does love burgers.”

Sam was a genius.

Dean had no intention of telling him that.

Once the idea was in his head, he couldn’t help but think it was perfect for their first date. They wouldn’t have to dress up. They wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in a place they’d never been. They could just hang out, talk, and see if they had any romantic chemistry. They already knew they were fairly compatible as friends. Now they just had to see if that compatibility worked in the romantic sense, too.

Attraction and compatibility didn’t necessarily mean you could have a good relationship. And that’s what Dean actually wanted, when it came down to it.

He wasn’t interested in ruining a friendship for something that wouldn’t last. And he certainly wasn’t interested in using Castiel as some kind of sexual experimentation phase he was going through.

Dean knew it would probably be just as easy to find a guy to mess around with as it had always been with women. He knew he was a good looking guy, and if he just wanted to get laid he could make it happen. He could just try a few things out, see if he was interested.

And that's probably exactly how he would have handled this sexual identity crisis, if it hadn’t been for the fact that he actually really liked Castiel.

It wasn’t going to be easy. Even finding the nerve to ask the guy out had been rough. He knew he was in for a long journey, but he thought Castiel was worth it.

Dean would probably be pretty awkward for a while. He would probably doubt that he was doing things the right way. He’d be scared to take the next step, and worry about moving too fast, or too slow. But all of that would be worth the pay off if things did work out. And if things didn’t, it would be a lot easier to save their friendship if they didn't rush into things.

Dean found he was actually a little nervous about Castiel’s reaction to the plans he’d settled on. He didn’t know if Castiel had any expectations for their first date, and he didn’t want to disappoint. He just hoped that Castiel would see that even though the plan wasn’t conventional, it would actually be a good choice for them.

The look of relief on Castiel’s face when Dean told him they were going to Buck’s Burgers for dinner and drinks reassured him that he’d made the best choice. He felt a little ridiculous for doubting it. Castiel was probably more nervous Dean would take him someplace he’d feel uncomfortable, than worried that the place wouldn’t be suitable for a typical date.

Castiel actually looked quite pleased with the idea, which brought all the excitement Dean lost from indecision back to the surface. It wasn’t a conventional date, but it worked better for them. Who needed awkward, uncomfortable first dates, anyway? At least this one had the potential to get them started off on the right foot.

They made plans to meet up Friday after Dean got off work. He’d shower, and change, and then drive them out to the restaurant. And now that he had a plan, Dean couldn’t wait for the end of the week.



Friday came too slow and too fast at the same time. Dean couldn’t wait, but he was also incredibly nervous about the whole thing. By the time the end of the work day came around he was practically vibrating with nervous energy.

As soon as he got home he stripped down for his shower. He took the extra time and effort to scrub the grease off his hands and even found an old toothbrush to help get the more persistent black from under his fingernails. Just because they weren’t getting all dressed up didn’t mean that Dean wasn’t going to put in some effort to look nice.

He even slipped into his nicest pair of jeans— the kind that fit him nicely and didn’t have holes in them— then added a button up that brought out the green in his eyes. The only shoes he had were his work boots, but he did a little spot cleaning to make them look nicer. There was no point getting all dressed up if your boots had black smudges all over them, after all.

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, even Dean had to admit he cleaned up pretty well. He pressed his hair into the usual style and sent off a text to let Castiel know he was ready.

The knock on the door came before Dean had time to start worrying again, thankfully. When he pulled the door open, he couldn’t help but smile.

Cas looked like the very definition of disgruntled, and it was fairly easy to tell why. His hair was actually styled for once, brushed to the side in an orderly fashion. His clothes looked out of place and his face was drawn into a deep scowl.

Dean couldn’t help himself. “You’re wearing a sweater.” He pointed out needlessly.

“Yes.”

“It’s ninety degrees outside.” An observation that Dean felt deserved attention.

Castiel’s scowl somehow deepened. “This is the only top that Gabriel deemed worthy enough to wear on a date,” he grumbled.

Dean held back his smile at the idea of Gabriel dressing Castiel up like a ken doll.

“Is he what happened to your hair, too?”

Castiel rolled his eyes. “Yes.”

Dean was having a very tough time keeping his amusement in check. “You know, you don’t have to wear that. Just throw on a tee shirt if that’s all you’ve got. We’re not going anywhere fancy.”

It was at this point that Castiel gave Dean a very obvious once over, and then a very blank eyed stare.

“I can change too, if it’ll make you feel better.” Dean offered.

“No. You look very nice. I don’t want you to change.”

Dean could feel his body gearing up to blush, and he worked to shut that shit down immediately.

“I don’t want you to change either, Cas.” Dean told him, losing the battle for control over he color of his cheeks. He reached out and ruffled his hand through Castiel’s hair to show him what he’d meant. It wasn’t as messy as it usually was, but it certainly looked less weird than the style it had been in.

Castiel blinked slowly but didn’t move to stop Dean’s actions.

“Do you have a shirt on under that?” It looked like the kind of sweater that you would have to wear a layer of protection under, if you didn’t want to spend the day itchy.

“Yes.” Even Castiel’s usually unreadable face showed his extreme relief at the idea of not having to wear the extra layer.

“Well, take that thing off before you have a heat stroke, and then we’ll get out of here.”

Castiel complied, pulling the heavy fabric over his head and causing his hair to fall into further disarray.

Dean gave him a quick once over and grinned.

“After you.” Dean took a deep breath as he followed Castiel to the car and wished himself luck. He was probably going to need it.



They’d somehow managed some small talk on the way to the restaurant. It was a little awkward, but it was better than sitting in silence. Dean was still liking his job, Castiel was picking up more students to tutor. Most of the stuff they already knew through their many and varied texts, but it filled the time nicely and kept Dean from getting too nervous.

When they pulled up, Dean turned to check Castiel’s reaction and was pleased to find not a trace of disappointment. Castiel seemed more curious than anything, ducking his head to peer up at the building.

“Have you been here before?” Dean asked, pulling the car into a spot a few empty spaces down from the closest occupied one. Baby didn’t have the best turn radius, and it was always easier to pull out when he didn’t have to maneuver around other cars. The bonus being that he didn’t have to worry about door dings from other, less responsible, drivers.

“No, but I haven’t been to many places in this town.”

“Well, you’re in for a treat. These burgers are amazing. And they serve beer in these big old mugs, so you don’t have to order a new one every five minutes.” Dean cringed as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He didn’t want Castiel to think he was a heavy drinker, especially after the night they’d both had last week.

Castiel just made a noise of agreement and pushed his door open to exit the car.

Dean took a deep breath and followed suit.

They were seated in a corner booth, with a window that looked out into the parking lot. It wasn’t a great view, but it was still nice. They could see the sun sinking below the horizon, and the pinks and golds of the sunset were flooding the skyline.

“So, Cas,” Dean started. He didn’t really want to give the opportunity for an awkward silence to grow between them. So, he gave the man a cocky grin and asked, “Why did you agree to go out with me?”

It was the kind of thing he’d ask any other date; though, he knew it didn’t really apply to Castiel and him. He’d already known that Castiel would say yes before he’d gotten around to asking.

One of Castiel’s eyebrows rose. “Only a fool would turn down a man that cooks as well as you do.” He deadpanned.

Dean sputtered a bit at that answer. He was so used to people complimenting his looks, the words threw him for a bit of a loop. When they sank in, he felt his cheeks heat a bit as he grinned.

“You want to date me for my cooking abilities?”

Castiel nodded. The look on his face was completely serious, but the light in his eyes showed amusement. “Oh, absolutely. It should be much easier to convince you to cook for me if we’re dating.”

Dean chuckled. “Well, now I just feel like I’m being used,” He joked.

Castiel turned his head a little to give a sly look out of the corner of his eye. “You’re not going to like my other answer either, then.”

“Yeah, and why’s that?”

“I was hoping I’d get to see you naked. At some point.”

“Jesus, Cas!” He knew his outburst had drawn a little attention from the other patrons, but he just couldn’t stop the words from bursting out of his mouth. He’d never expected Castiel to say something like that, even with his usual blunt nature. Dean was still coming to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t mind being naked with the guy at some point, and here Castiel was blurting out his interest with no shame at all.

“Well, it’s not as if you don’t know how beautiful you are.” Castiel explained, pretending as if Dean’s exclamation had never happened. “I doubt there is a person in here that isn’t trying to picture it.” He gestured to a teenage girl seated a few tables to the side of theirs, looking their direction as discreetly as possible. “That girl over there already has you in your underwear.”

“Okay! Point made!” Dean huffed, desperately trying to contain his blush at the words.

Castiel’s head tilted a little and he squinted at Dean in a way that made him feel as if the man could see into his soul.

“No, I don’t think it is. You honestly don’t know why I’m interested in you, so I intend to tell you the truth.” Castiel’s voice was deadly serious now, which made Dean realize his earlier tone had been teasing.

“You’re the most generous person I’ve ever met. It takes a special kind of person to let strangers enter your home the way you did with Gabriel and I. We were completely unknown to you, but you allowed us to seek safety, even without a very good explanation.”

Dean’s face felt even hotter than it had when Castiel had been talking about his looks, and he tried to deflect the compliment. “That wasn’t me, that was Sam.”

Castiel gave him a look of disapproval, before seemingly ignoring his interjection altogether. “You’ve offered your home to us many times after. Instead of finding us to be a burden, you befriended us. You allowed Gabriel to drink all of your beer, and you started feeding us, as well.”

The way Castiel told the story, it sounded much kinder than Dean had ever thought it to be. It wasn’t as if he would have ever turned out someone in need. But he supposed that was the point that Castiel was trying to make.

“You also look after your brother, even though you don’t have to. I realize that Gabriel and I are in a similar situation; but my gratitude for my brother looking after me only helps me realize how great a thing it is what you do for yours.”

Dean’s mind was spinning, filled with Castiel’s words, and trying to find a way to refute them.

“You’re self-sacrificing and self-deprecating because you somehow think you’re worth less than the people around you. Which, might I add, is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

Castiel’s words cut straight through all of Dean’s bravado. He felt his defenses crumbling as the honesty in the man’s voice rang out. This was really how Castiel saw him, and it embarrassed him how well he could see through Dean’s facades.

“Okay, Cas! Geeze!” He hissed, hoping the man would take the hint and just stop talking.

“And you don’t know how to take a compliment.” Castiel told him, the humor returning to his tone easily. “Did you know that you are even more attractive when you blush?”

Dean groaned and dropped his forehead to the table, hiding his face. He was unable to meet the other man’s eyes as he tried to collect himself. When he’d asked the question he hadn’t really expected that well thought out response, but he knew he should have. It was in Castiel’s nature to speak that way, and that was one of the many things Dean liked about him.

“We can change the subject now, if you’d like.” Castiel’s amused voice drifted over the table.

“Yes! Please! Let’s talk about anything else.”

As unsettled as he was by the things Castiel said about him, he couldn’t help but feel a bit grateful. At least now he had an better understanding of Castiel’s side of things. Regular compliments about his looks, or even his cooking, were things you told someone you were interested in sleeping with. The things Castiel had been talking about went quite a bit deeper.

If Dean was able to survive this date, at least he’d know they were on the same page.