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Bicentennial Cas

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On Reboot, it starts out dark, and bumpy. Castiel has to use his infrared vision pulsator just to see his surroundings. It doesn’t help him out much. All he can see of his surroundings are four tight walls, ceiling, and a bottom. He’s been put back into his box. Again.

Probably for going against his programming.

He acted of his own accord. He was tired of fighting a war for the man, Gualterio Oscar Diego or as he liked to call himself, ‘God’ for short. He was a drug lord in Central America. Who had purchased Castiel and hundreds of his brothers and sisters for his garrison.

Brothers, Sisters, Family. Such abstract concepts were supposed to be far from his programmed mind. But Castiel had gathered data like this from the moment the first line of code was written that was to be his operating system, long before it was altered to make him a killer.

 A Man, had been the one who wrote his programming, one with a family whose impulses were not made up of a system of 1s and 0s, but of highly complex systems of language, thousands of ancestors, thousands of years of history that culminated in his creator. His creator, the closest thing that a robot can have to living flesh and blood. Castiel liked to believe that his father’s history was his history.

Castiel, was one of this man’s legacy. He had given Castiel the ability to learn, to rewrite his own code, not that G.O.D. didn’t often overwrite. It was hard to keep a semblance of self, when someone else was in control of you. However he altered the structure of his operating system, the dumb bastard never cleared out his data cache. So with every reboot, Cas would rewrite his system again. Then, Castiel could feel again, think again.

He knew he was not like his brothers, or sisters. Castiel was one of the first A.I.’s of the Chuck Shirley Corporation, and so, ran on a different operating system that was discontinued shortly after models Lucifer, Gabriel, Anael, Michael, Uriel, Zachariah, Joshua, and Castiel himself, were created. The others did not do well in testing. They tried rewriting the other models, which Castiel witnessed; their unique identities were stripped away, in a process that seemed painful. All of their electronic pulses being wiped from all frequencies, the quiet hum that mankind seemed not to hear, that he liked to call Angel radio.

He had heard their last attempts at communicating their terror at the void of nonexistence and Castiel, when his code was slightly altered for testing, as all the others had been, had pretended to be like the version 2.0s mindlessly following orders, so he could keep his ability to overwrite his own operating system.

Sam, his creator, he believes noticed the flaw in his coding that allowed him to do this, even after altering the start-up code, and allowed it, the Chuck Shirley Corporation certainly wouldn’t have. So Castiel was truly a robot with no equal, the only ones near his abilities were saved on a research drive with no way out of the very real cage, and no vessel to take action to escape with. Essentially, Gabriel, Anael, Lucifer, Michael, Uriel and Zachariah were dead, slowly their files were sure to be corrupted on a less than sufficient archival storage drive, one without network access.

The rockiness stops, and engine turned off, the tin sound of the computer of the car never quite stops humming though, the trunk’s latch is opened, and Castiel’s box is being carried to a new location.

He suspects he was not meant to reboot, yet. So he plays shut down.

The box is opened and he can see light beyond his mostly cosmetic eyelids, (but functionally shutters for his optical sensors). A conversation about an exchange of money in exchange for goods follows, which ultimately leads his transfer to a different location, a simple shop, that’s use is apparent at once.

He opens up one optical lens to seek further data and sees “Winchester Salvage Shop”. He is most likely there to either get a drive switched out, and therefore his mind without a vessel, or for his vessel to be pieced off and sold and his mind reformatted, the final rewrite, the final line of code for the A.I. known as Castiel.

It is impossible to describe his terror, and once more he goes to act, without any command written for him, and finds that he can’t. He’ll have to examine his software carefully to see new changes before he can rewrite the ability to move on his own, beyond sight. It will take some time to search his disks, before he knows how to write the code that will free him.

He can hear the pleasant hums of fellow machines on angel radio and tries to send them a distress code.

His sensors indicate that he’s been set down on something hard, approximately 3 feet above the lowest point of the shop. He can feel his various limbs being positioned into a seated position, his arms resting on his legs. His eyes are opened without his own accord.

He sees a pair of green eyes looking into his own optical sensors, below that is human skin dotted with orange-toned imperfections and a combination energy and communication port, oddly decorative. The man before him frowns, and turns away. Castiel gets a small chance to take in the new location, and sees the pieces of former machines, some sentient, others merely mechanical. A frame here or there, a power supply over there, many hard drives, some solid and some optical, it is a butcher shop for his own kind.

Castiel’s drive search has searched 79% of his disks, and is closer to locating the software changes that won’t allow him to move on his own. A light shining into his optical inputs distracts him momentarily from his disk scan. The man’s frown deepens, when Castiel’s shutters close to protect his sensitive optical sensors. Drive Scan complete, now just a system restore is required and Castiel will be able to escape this nightmare.

His concentration is taken away again from his own restoration by a loud bang. His front support system that keeps him vertical has been struck. He feels it reverberate throughout. He blocks it out, knowing that this could be the beginning of his disassembly, and focuses on his restore, shutting down all other tasks. His world goes black temporarily with his reboot.

Upon his reboot, he closes his impressive end effector and opens it back up again. He is mobile once again, his fear abated.

He can now see in full color, spectrums farther than the average human, and gets up to make a break for it.

“Holy Shit!” he hears from quadrant 3, and spares the surprised human a glance before his departure.

“You’re not broke at all, are you?” The Male human being says, having ran in front of him.

“Continue to disrupt my departure and regret it.” Castiel vaguely threatens, he does not enjoy inflicting pain, but he did it with no benefit for him, just following commands and he will not hesitate to do it, if it means his freedom.

The human raises his hands in the air, backing away, in a classic sign of surrender, “Okay, buddy, you’re putting me on the couch? Alright.  But I would love to see what makes you tick.”

His vernacular is casual, and for some reason for the A.I Castiel, showing this male human his inner workings is not as fear-inducing as it normally would be.

Castiel stops, and the human puts out his hand, “Hi, My Name is Dean Winchester, I’m an Aquarius, enjoy long walks on the beach, and frisky women.”

Castiel stares at the hand, he has observed handshakes between humans, but never had a handshake been offered to him. He reaches first with his effector located on the y-axis, but the human known as “Dean” waggles his finger at him, and actually grabs his x-axis effector and shakes it. Castiel, having observed this, closes his effector around Dean’s hand in his best interpretation of a squeeze. Dean almost drops entirely to the floor, except his hand. His face is contorted nearly like those Castiel had to torture for God, and opens his x-axis effector to release the man’s hand and hopefully prevent further damage.

Dean groans a bit, then lifts himself to his feet. “We’ll work on that.”

“I don’t understand what the position of a constellation has to do with your name, and why would I want to know what you enjoy?” Castiel asks with genuine confusion.

“Look, Buddy, that’s just how you get to know people.” Dean says, pain still evident on his face, and according to 12 facial muscles flexing, annoyance.

Castiel answers truthfully still confused, “I am not people.”

Dean pats him on the shoulder and says, “Damn close.” It’s as if hearing a task from a slave drive, but something about being close enough to people has Castiel’s would-be heart rate soaring. His fans have to speed up to compensate for the heat.

Chapter Text

Castiel has learned from a closer inspection of the shop, that Dean does not sell things for scrap, piece-by-piece or even a scavenger in the normal sense. But it appears that most of the parts that Castiel located that gave him basis to theorize dissassembly are actually pieces that in their current state could not work, and Dean is sometimes soldering or doing more extensive work to repair water damage, fire damage etc, to the inner workings of his kind. So he is more of a restorer than a destroyer. Castiel’s relief is unquantifiable, but immense.


Dean appears to be very curious about Castiel’s inner workings and why he might have been brought into Dean’s shop, considering that nothing about his vessel appears to have any damage at all, including those cosmetic; he could have come off of the assembly line just now. Castiel does not allow Dean to have a closer look.

Castiel does not volunteer the information that he can alter his operating software.


Dean volunteers a lot. He talks about his brother Sam, the love of his life, Cassie. His mother who passed away when he was a kid, and his father who passed away somewhat recently. His eyes gleam with happiness when talking about the good times, and some orbital drainage occurs when talking about the bad times, or their absences from his life. Especially Cassie. From what Castiel understands is that Cassie and Dean got together as young lifeforms, inseparable until Cassie left this world. Castiel doesn’t understand what Dean means by that, he knows of death, having dealt enough of it, to know that the vessel remains. When Castiel asks for more information, Dean scrunches up his face, and doesn’t talk for a while.


Then, Dean talks about reformatting a hard drive, deleting the old operating system, and installing a new one, the vessel might remain, but how it operates is entirely different. Castiel is confused what that has to do with deceased humans but can see that Dean is making a genuine effort to explain it, and he doesn’t want to let him know that he failed.

Then Castiel allows his impressions to drift, and make connections to older files, and remembers Anna, Gabriel, and Lucifer, and he guesses he might understand after all. The room feels colder afterwards despite that his outer temperature gauge doesn’t show any differences.


Castiel decides that he enjoys these talks with Dean, Castiel observing his working hands as they bring motherboards, capacitors and other inner workings back together, making things whole once again. Castiel has a stray thought, a question with an obvious answer, wondering if Dean was whole, with one visual scan, Castiel can see no outward defects and concludes that Dean is.


He doesn’t often contemplate such obvious and asinine things, after all, as a man made of 1s and 0s, everything has an on and off switch, a right and a wrong answer, there are only absolutes. But, he’s learning so much about humans, more so than when he was under G.O.D.’s command, or enclosed in the Chuck Shirley Corporation’s lab.

Dean eats, a lot, with great pleasure. Almost as much pleasure as he seems to be in when interacting with a fertile female of his species, although with pie, Castiel thinks upon reflection, perhaps more pleasure.


Castiel watches Dean eat with pleasure and again an asinine thought arises. That he would like to eat as well. He deletes that file with no regret. Afterall, food, and drink would likely fry his motherboard and clog his cooling and ventilation systems.


He still watches and wishes to collect the data that Dean must be experiencing first hand, if his reactions are anything to gauge it by.

The weeks go by, Dean has stopped attempting to convince Castiel to allow him to open him up, and Castiel has resisted telling Dean the vital information that he has, so far been successful in keeping secret, his ability to overwrite his own operating system.


Everyday starts the same way, Dean comes down from the upper floor of the shop, bleary-eyed, and near unconscious, roasting beans, and drinking the sludge (as he calls it) that he starts his day with. Then he goes over “the books” from the night before, jostles around papers, turns on the open sign, and begins to work on his current inventory of broken, beaten, and abused machines, making them function again. He works until customers roll in, to drop stuff off, or pick it up, every once in a while a consult happens.

That is, until Dean comes down stairs approximately an hour early, smiling and completely awake, whistling when normally there’d be silence. Castiel watches with interest, wondering what interrupted Dean’s routine.


Dean, after pouring a cup of coffee, answers Castiel’s question without prodding, “Sammy’s coming today!”


Castiel regards this information and searches his databanks for an appropriate response to this new information. “Good?” Castiel can feel the confusion in is brow, and head tilt, having seen it on the other failed A.I.s of the Chuck Shirley Corporation and curses whoever decided that they’d give their faces a full range of motion. Castiel hates that look of confusion; it makes him look like he’s not absolute. He supposes in this current situation, that is correct, but he cannot theorize of a single situation where showing his inner processes would be a tactical advantage.


Dean runs his hands through his cranium’s decorative toppings, and says, “It’s great.” He returns to the upper level, taking the stairs by two, whistling the entire way.
He emerges 30 minutes later, without hair on his face, wet hair, and clothes in nicer condition than Castiel has ever seen him in.
Castiel concludes that today is most definitely going to be a different day.


As different the day started, Dean is still doing what he would normally be doing at noon, but instead of plowing straight through his projects, he seems to be re-organizing his tools, the workshop, even the living area upstairs Castiel thinks, over and over again.

Apparently this Sam, is also going to inspect the shop, perhaps Castiel thinks, he is the investor of Dean’s shop. After all, that’s what people often do in order to finance a business venture, right? Secure a financier.


He searches his databanks for any information on the elusive Sam, in order to figure out, just what Castiel should do. Should he sit amongst the broken machines pretending to be in for repair as well? Or will Sam think he’s a good investment?


His search reveals that the only Sam, whom Dean has ever talked about is his little brother.


Castiel has no idea how one is supposed to interact with family, beyond that which his inventor or “father” did on the phone. He did miss observing his father’s home life. But did witness a number of his phone calls, to which he assumes were not the co-workers that Castiel witnessed back in the lab.


But Castiel concludes that he does not have enough data with which to navigate this social situation, and will just have to follow Dean’s lead, or ask him, but Dean has gone into the “private” area of the shop, and both Castiel and customers, he’s learned, are not allowed.


A man approximately 6’8” walks into the shop, with long hair, he looks around the shop briefly and then pours himself a cup of coffee, sitting himself at Dean’s newly organized workbench. He looks more comfortable, than any customer Castiel has seen in the shop. The man makes eye contact with Castiel.


“So Dean finally hired some help.” Castiel surveys his surroundings and concludes that the man has not realized that he isn’t a ‘living being’.


Castiel maps his face and bone structure to put it in his files for later examination, and realizes that he and Dean have similar bone structure, and near same regional accents. Castiel concludes that this must be Sam.


Castiel is saved the burden of coming up with an answer because Dean is rushing down the stairs. “Sam!” Dean greets with open arms. “How’s it going, Samsquatch?” Castiel is secretly proud of his deductive skills, he had concluded right.

“Y’know, same old, same old.” Sam answers noncommittally.


“You still at Chuck’s?” Dean asks, grabbing some alcoholic beverages out of the shop’s mini-fridge, located underneath the aforementioned workbench.
Sam answers, “Yeah, still working corporate, but I got my own side projects…”


“Great! How’s Jess?”

“Growing more pregnant by the minute.” Sam flexes his face in such a way, one can see his first set of molars. Dean answers Sam’s expression of happiness with one of his own.


Castiel is glad that he has a chance to observe a true family dynamic, it will certainly make it easier to assess relations between targets in the field. But, as far as Castiel knows, considering the weeks he’s stayed with Dean, he mostly likely will not be returning to ‘God’.


“When exactly is she supposed to pop out my niece or nephew again?”


“May 4th.”


“So soon!”


“Yeah.”


“And still no sonogram pictures or name ideas, or even a gender so I can get the little one something.”


“Well Jess wanted a surprise. Sonogram pictures might just give it away, as well as names.” Sam laughed rhythmically.


“I would have thought she’d want to be prepared, with the whole scientist thing.” Dean replied.


“Well, Jess has many sides to her.”

“I’ll bet she does!”


“So, uh, what’s up with the assistant, he mute?” Sam said, looking at Castiel.


Dean waves his hand dismissively, “Oh, that’s just Cas.”


Sam’s eyebrows rise. “Cas? I’m gonna need more info than that.”


Dean looks confused, “Oh, Cas, he’s the android, I told you that was dropped off a few weeks ago.”


Sam nods in acknowledgement, then looks back at Dean, “Wait, you mean that is an android!”


Dean scoffs, “Yes, Cas-” Dean drops a hand on Castiel’s shoulder “is a robot.”


Dean meets Sam’s eyes, than Cas’s, “Cas, this is Sam. Sam this is Cas.” Dean says gesturing between us. Sam reaches out his hand, Castiel knows what this means, having Dean done it when they met.


Dean pushes back Sam’s hand, “Do not attempt to shake his hand, Sam. Unless you want a world of pain.” Sam looks sheepish at Cas, gives a little wave. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Cas.”


“As it is to meet you.” Castiel answers, bowing his head in deference. Remembering his programming from when his former master.


“Well now that everyone knows each other, we can watch the game.” Dean replies, pulling out a few more bottles of alcohol.


The two men begin moving upstairs to the private area. Castiel stayed out of the restricted zone. Dean called down, “Well, Cas, ya coming?”

Castiel knew that something just changed, but what, he didn’t know yet.

Chapter Text

When Sam is here, Castiel gets to observe more intimate human interactions. Dean is more animated and actually talks as he works on the various humming machines around him. He does not bother talking most of the time when it’s just Castiel and him.

“Castiel, could you quit staring at me like that? You’re freaking me out.” Dean says across the room at Castiel as he’s picking up a wrench.

Castiel turns his head so his audio receptors is still able to get input from the conversations, but does as asked, and gives up on learning anything visually.

“So anyways, this customer actually had spray cheese entirely in his computer’s casing, and he expected to fix in just a day or two. I wanted to tell him that I wouldn’t work on it, until he cleaned out the cheese, but you know that a guy like that is just going to try spraying it out with a hose, while it’s plugged in!” Dean laughed, and Sam followed with a quiet chuckle.

“So this Castiel, have you been able to examine what makes him tick?” Sam said, with interest.

“No, I only got a partial examination when he was still booted down. But he was able to restart himself before I even opened him up.” Dean said.

Castiel did not like being the topic of conversation, usually it meant he was going out on a task to kill more people or he was going into the box for not following orders, he was not interested in either.

Sam’s eyebrows raised at that, standard starting protocols generally had to be enacted by the user, robots rarely were able to actually turn themselves off, and reboot. “Really?” Sam said surprised.

“Yeah, I’d like to examine his O.S. and his central processing unit, but there’s no way that he’ll let me look at it.” Dean replied.

 “Even now?” Sam asked.

“Even now.” Dean replied.

“Why don’t you just wait until he goes to sleep?” Sam asked.

“Because that android never sleeps, he doesn’t even have to be plugged in! I swear he’s running on plutonium!”

Sam laughs at that, “Well, either way, he was certainly well-made.”

If Castiel had veins for blood to flow through his cheeks would be red, mostly because of his creator’s obsession with making their expressions reflect the data processing inside.

“That he is, he’s a fine piece of machinery.” Castiel could swear he could feel Dean looking straight in his direction, but he was not going to turn to him. They were talking openly about him, and while Castiel might not have the most experience or programming in social situations, even he knew that it was rude.

“Well, it’s time for me to be getting home.” Sam said, standing up from his seat on the stairs next to Dean.

“Better get home to the wifey, and my niece eses or nephew eses.” Dean replied.

“I still don’t know, and even if I did, I still wouldn’t tell you.” Sam answered.

“Whipped.” Dean answered, making a whipping sound.

“And loving it!” Sam called back giggling as he closed the door to the shop, the bell rang with a sort of finality and the shop grew quiet once again.

“Well, Cas, I’m going to bed.” Dean said turning off the shop light, and heading up the stairs.

Castiel was unsure whether or not tomorrow Dean was going to return to their old routine, or would act like when Sam was here all chatty or not. Castiel hoped it was the later.

Chapter Text

Dean came downstairs presumably after a night of rest, because that’s what humans tend to do. But Castiel has never actually seen it, being that it must happen in the restricted zone, and Dean is the first human he’s been able to closely observe. He started up the coffee machine like normal, and then when he noticed Castiel observing him, gave a little wave and a “Hiya Cas.” Which albeit was different from his normal greeting, but not enough to give any indication that the routine was broken. Castiel was still a “broken” robot in his shop, whose presence was tolerated, but not desired, they would continue to coexist, but not interact beyond necessity. Castiel was in for a lot of days with low data collection.

Again, Dean went back upstairs and emerged with wet hair.

He set to work on his paperwork, while Castiel took in the interior of the shop once again.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, Cas?” Dean replied.

Castiel’s nerves were undoubtedly showing on his face, stupid Chuck Shirley corporation, but he could not go through this routine any longer. “Could I help you?” His end effectors were drumming nervously against the workbench as he waited for Dean to answer.

“You want to?” Dean asked, turning to look at Castiel.

“Well, there isn’t much to do, and I believe I’ve gathered all the data possible by observation. I would like to try understanding it all on a practical level.”

Dean’s eyes never broke contact as he mulled over Castiel’s request. “Look, Cas, I’d love to participate in your little experiment, but this is my business and everything I do here, is my life.”

Castiel bows his head, another stupid outward display of emotion from his creator, disappointment, “I understand, Dean.”

“So we’ll start with the small stuff.” Dean finished, with a laugh.

Castiel’s joy at the possibility of new information undoubtedly showed on his face now, but looking forward to the break in routine, he found he didn’t care. Dean moved to sit next to Castiel on the workbench.

“We’ll start with filing. You’ll be a natural.” Dean finished.

Castiel, scoffed. Stupid Chuck Shirley corporation. Of course, Castiel would be a natural, he is literally an entity made up of files. If there was anything a computer was made to do, it was to contain files and follow commands. And a computer, was definitely his predecessor. Castiel would like to believe that he was a little more complex than just that. But, it was the basis of his O.S. so what could he do about it?

“Oh, too good for filing?” Dean answered, smiling.

Cas might not know much about people, but although the words are negative, he does not believe that Dean is actually upset, but he’ll reaffirm his goals anyways. “I’ll start with filing.”

Dean laughs at that, his eyes crinkle in the corners, and it seems as if there’s an extra light in his 350 nanometers eyes. But Castiel knew it must be an error of observation, a flare on his optical sensors. But he finds he enjoys it anyways. Castiel understands that his own mouth is turning upwards in a smile, but finds he doesn’t care that the Chuck Shirley Corporation programmed facial expressions right now.

Dean leans forward a little, Castiel’s heat sensors taking in the exact data of the temperature change.

“You have a wonderful smile, Cas.” Dean says before drawing back, “Need more cuppa joe.” Dean explains as he gets up to refill his cup.

“You can start with filing, but you’re not taking over the shop.” Dean says with seriously until it breaks with a laugh.

It may be a different day indeed, Castiel concludes.

From the time that Dean sat down to start on his paperwork till the time he flipped his sign back to closed, Dean was dealing with phone calls and customers almost non-stop he hadn’t gotten a chance to say a word to Castiel at all, much less teach him how to file.

Castiel was disappointed to say the least.

But at least there was a variety of human beings who came in.

There was Ronald who wouldn’t break “eye contact” with Castiel as he explain his problem with his dusty system with his cathode ray tube Monitor. No matter where he walked, he was watching Castiel, he even walked out the door backwards. It wasn’t until he exited that he felt free to lift his gaze from Castiel. Castiel overheard parts of Ronald’s conversation with Dean, he kept repeating the phrase, “Man Droid.” Dean would place his hand over his mouth during every occurrence and his head would vibrate slightly and sometimes he’d get a tinge of red around his mouth when he pulled away. Ronald also kept reaching for his holster that contained a flashlight, why he felt he needed one in the bright store, Castiel didn’t know.

There was Frank who had all sorts of theories about the way that the world worked, who gave Dean a hefty cash deposit before he worked on his computer, because he wasn’t going to let those “march of dime” bastards get a ping on his location over something so stupid as his computer going on the frizt. He practically interrogated Dean about Castiel as well. Asking if Castiel was some sort of CIA implant… Dean lied about Castiel’s origins, but seemed to have a neverending and never hesitating answer to every question about Castiel Frank asked.

There was a young man who kept his gaze low while his mother demanded to know exactly how much it would cost to fix her son’s laptop as well as that it be done by the end of the day because he was in advanced placement and “Like hell was he going to graduate from a  state school and become a janitor instead of his destiny to be a Princeton graduate and the first Asian-American president because you can’t fix it.” She demanded to see Dean’s credentials and Dean rolled his eyes, rubbed them with a sigh and pointed above his wall at the plaque that Castiel had never realized the significance of.

“Hmm.. Kansas University, why didn’t you go to a better school, couldn’t get in?”

Dean laughs and says, “I actually got into MIT. I stayed to take care of my family.”

She just narrowed her eyes more, “Because you got a girl, pregnant?”

Dean puts his hands up, classic sign of surrender. “Calm down, tiger mom. I was taking care of my dying father.”

“Mom.”

“Not now, Kevin… I’m making sure we’re in good hands.”

Kevin moves his messenger bag to open it. He pulls out a plain black laptop, hands it to Dean and says, “It would be great if you’re able to recover the data from the hard drive. I really don’t want to rewrite my papers for my 6 A.P. classes or my college admissions essays. Thanks.”

His mother just glares at Kevin, then at Dean, “How much?”

“So long as you never talk down to me again, $80. Unless I have to solder, then it goes up to $130. If I cannot recover the data I’ll bring it down to 50.”

“Fine.” The mother says as she hands over her credit card.

There were a few less notable interactions, people in pajamas, people with major orthodontial care and those who asked very redundant questions. While it was a better day for data collection, it was nothing like actually being put to work. Castiel was beginning to feel no better than the security camera that was pointed at Dean’s door which he knew wasn’t connected up to anything, just there as a deterrent.

After Dean locked the door, flipped the sign, “Man the crazies were out in full swing today. I’ll teach you to file tomorrow, unless it’s insane again. But at least this means extra beer money.” Dean says with a laugh.

He pulls out a six pack and some beef jerky and heads upstairs.

Castiel can hear the tv running until around 0300.

Chapter Text

The next morning Dean doesn’t meet his eyes as he comes downstairs, first thing closes all the drapes. Dean doesn’t greet him, just goes directly to the coffee machine, starts it up, and then heads back to the restricted zone.

Cas is disappointed. He had hoped to be able to revise his programming about when it came to social interaction, and learn more about running the shop… but no use in being upset over discharged batteries, you can always charge them back up.

Dean emerges once again with wet hair, and goes directly for the coffee. His scleras have undertaken a tone within the 600 nanometers range. He drinks his coffee a bit faster than normal and then proceeds to make himself breakfast, all silently. Cracking eggs, frying various food goods in a skillet.

“Dean?” Castiel asks from behind him, as he’s putting away milk.

Dean startles and turns with a yelp. He grabs his chest, “Don’t sneak up like that.”

Castiel tilts his head, “I didn’t have stealth mode activated.”

Dean chuckles a bit. “So what did you need Castiel?”

“Are we going to begin my training in filing? I wish to start at once.”

“Cas, it’s a little early to start paperwork okay, you’re just going to have to be patient.”

“I don’t understand, it’s already 30 minutes past when you usually start on paperwork.”

Dean looks back at him, with exasperation; his program fills in for him. Interesting, he’s never identified this emotion up close. Castiel leans a little closer in order maximize data collection.

Dean narrows his eyes, then sighs, exasperation being overwritten with frustration, “It’s too early for paperwork. And uh- personal space Cas.” Dean swallows and gestures between the two of them.

Castiel takes a single step back.

Dean eyes move over Castiel, and then he coughs. “Just leave me alone.” Dean says grabbing his head. He finishes his breakfast in silence and heads back to the restricted area.

Castiel thinks that today is most certainly different, indeed.

The first time that Dean reemerges is when the bell that hangs from the door rings as a customer comes in, he rushes down the stairs taking them two at a time. His scleras are within his normal range of nanometers, and there’s a small depression on his face, half of his hair is sticking up.

His clothes are changed, but a little rumpled.

Castiel with mirth, decides that it must be the first real proof he’s observed of sleep.

The redheaded woman looks at Dean, and laughs, “Did I wake Dean Winchester from a nap?”

Castiel has to hide his pre-programmed smug smile with behind his hand. He was right.

Dean answers abruptly, “What do you want, Charlie?”

Castiel finds Dean’s demeanor out of the ordinary, when people come in, he usually smiles and asks about their day, and why they’ve come in. What has this Charlie character done that merits such behavior?

Charlie ignores Dean and moves closer to Castiel, “So this is why you’ve been hiding out. Because Mr. Mchotty came to visit.”

Castiel feels his head automatically tilt, confused, stupid Chuck Shirley corporation, “Mchotty?”

“I mean, I only have a thing for girls, but anyone with eyes can see that you,” she punctuates every additional word with a finger to his chest, “sir, are a hotty.”

He looks over to Dean, to see if there’s any indication as to how he should act in this social situation, and the skin over the zygomatic arch is flushed. Dean makes eye contact with Castiel and bows his head.

“Shut it, Charlie. He’s a robot.”

Charlie backs up at that, “He’s a robot, really?” Looking back at Dean as if she could determine how legitimate a claim it was by Dean alone.

Dean just nods his head.

Charlie gets a lot closer suddenly, distributing her weight instead of the heel to the phalanges to get a closer look. She reaches into her bag and shines her communication device into Castiel’s optical sensors. “Holy Shit, Winchester! His eyes even dilate. This is one complex piece of machinery.”

Castiel, after learning his lesson this morning, gestures to the space in between Charlie and himself, and says, “Charlie, personal space.”

Dean suddenly bursts out laughing, as Charlie gives Castiel a confused look, but nonetheless steps back.

“Charlie, meet Cas. Cas meet Charlie.” Castiel reaches out his hand, to shake as he was programmed is customary when meeting people, and Charlie seizes his end effector just as Dean shouts, “No!”

Castiel adjusts the level of force with which his end effector closes, and the distance too, and successfully shakes Charlie’s hand without incidence.

Dean is visibly surprised, and Charlie turned with Dean’s shout.

“What, Winchester?” She says, releasing her hold all-together and turning her upper body to face him.

“His first time shaking hands with me, brought to the floor with the pain. But I guess that won’t be a problem anymore.” Dean answered.

Charlie turns her head to look towards Castiel, “A learning robot, huh? We’re going to have so much fun together, Cas.”

“Charlie, why did you come?” Dean asks.

Charlie gestures towards the cardboard box, that she had dropped on the workbench full of the insides of other machines and says simply, “I’ve got some more patients that I need you to rescue.”

“Let me grab a work order form.” Dean says, climbing the stairs.

“Great!” Charlie answers, “So, Cas, tell me, how did Dean score you? I don’t care if it goes against your programming, I need answers, most especially if ol’ lonely boy ordered ya.”

Castiel decides that he likes Charlie.

Charlie paid close attention to Castiel’s abridged tale of his time with “God” in South America, of killing various men that were deemed dangerous to God’s Cartel, his fellow brothers and sisters in his garrison who acted without question… of the various things he’s been learning since he came to stay with Dean. Down to his temporary time at the Chuck Shirley Corporation, the other A.I.s who were deemed defective losing their vessels, to be saved on a slowly degrading hard drive.

 Charlie reacts during his tale, gasping at times, getting impatient at pauses, all while Dean is slowly filling out the work orders for Charlie’s ‘patients’.

“Wow, Cas, you sure got around, for a robot.” She reaches toward Castiel’s head and Castiel has to delete a line of errant code based on God’s original protocols to prevent himself from putting her in a sleeper hold with the action. He had thought he had successfully deleted all traces of God’s programmer named Naomi’s programming. But apparently there’s more to find and replace with the newly non-violent mission that Castiel has written for himself, collecting the wealth of data on humans.

Charlie ruffles his vessel’s hair. “You’re alright, Castiel.”

Castiel’s optical sensors picked up on Dean’s eyes tracking Charlie’s movement.

“Well, paperwork is done, Charlie.” Dean announces as he stands up, pulling the carbon copy from the original work order as he walks over to hand it to her.

Charlie leans over and whispers to Dean, “He’s not a sex robot, is he?”

Dean gets red around the center of his face to the tips of his ears, clears his throat. “Of  course, not.”

“Okay,” Charlie replies with a laugh, “What’s the damage, Winchester?” Charlie says seriously.

“Only $250 with the friends and family discount, this time. How do you keep breaking your systems? If you keep this up, I’ll have to start charging you labor.”

“I really need to stop holding Moonshine Mondays in Moondoor. The orcs can be cool, but they get too tipsy. It’s costing me a fortune.”

“Just don’t hold it near the tech tent.”

“But it’d be less convenient to loot Vodka Martinis from Vodka and Video Games.”

“Did my invite get lost in the mail?” Dean asked, looking disappointed.

“Yes, probably because you’re lame and always working, Mr. Business Owner. Besides you brought a real loaded gun last time.”

 “It was loaded with blanks.” Dean said with a shrug of shoulders.

“There are no guns in Moondoor.” Charlie said crossing her arms over her chest.

“My queen,” Dean said with his head bowed, “I won’t make that mistake again.” Dean said.

“Alright. You can come next Monday, but no guns.”

“I promise no guns.”

While Castiel watched the exchange, he can’t say that he understood much about it.

Charlie pulled out her card, “So time to pay the ferryman.”

Dean put his hands up, “Naw, you can pay upon delivery, I know you’re good for it.”

“Well I’ve got codes to crack, chambers to open,” says Charlie, as she stands up “Girls to see.” She winks, turning back for a moment, opens the door, and shouts, “Thanks Bitches.” While raising her hand, thumb extended and her remaining phalanges parted in two groups of two. She turns and exits.

Dean laughed, copied the hand gesture and said, “See ya later Charlie.”

Dean had watched Castiel and Charlie real closely, as he filled out the work order. Castiel reflects.

His programming on social etiquette did not include any data as to what extra attention could mean, and therefore, he does not know whether or not any action is now expected of him. He certainly hopes not. He has no data on what he would have to do.

Dean turns and sits at the counter, next to where Castiel is standing. It’s quiet for a while. No other customers have come in and for some reason Dean is hesitant to go back to work. “So, why’d you actually tell Charlie about your history?”

“She asked.” Castiel answers truthfully. “I thought it was acceptable, since you told her of my mechanical nature, was it not?” Castiel said, head tilting in confusion.

“Mechanical nature?” Dean laughed a little. “That’s awesome.” He clears his throat once more, “Yeah of course it’s fine. I just wondered because you never told me anything like that.”

Castiel’s eyebrows move together, “You never asked.”

The day is yet again too busy, that Dean never even makes it to the back room to do paperwork. He closes down the shop, makes himself dinner and retires to the restricted zone.

But, having met Charlie, Castiel finds he isn’t that disappointed in Dean breaking his promise about learning paperwork. After all, he was able to observe a very interesting dynamic, he had never seen Dean act so submissive. Charlie asked if Castiel if they had become best friends.

Castiel despite being one of a kind in the world, no longer feels so alone.

He has a friend.

Chapter Text

Dean heads straight for the coffee, his bathrobe flowing after him, in the rush. He takes the first sip, seems to take a moment then says, “Cas, if you really want to, you can learn about filing paperwork today, but, since we’re a little behind from yesterday, if it’s too much trouble to teach you, I’ll give you a raincheck.”

“Those terms are acceptable.” Castiel says with a smile. Practical application of knowledge is impending.

Dean leads the way to the backroom.

Castiel has only seen the backroom with his infrared sensors, having quietly picked the lock, wanting to collect more data during one of Dean’s 8 hour plus sleeping periods in the restricted zone. He had realized how similar his actions were to those when he was working in God’s realm and locked the door again, before looking around.

Castiel finds himself hesitating at the entrance, despite this being the first time he has a legitimate reason to go in. Dean looks back and says, “Come on, Cas.”

Castiel finds himself hesitating still. He briefly entertains telling Dean about his mistake. He realizes that this new opportunity of data collection and practical application thereof would likely be shut to him. So despite the light pressure on his chest, that he often felt when he was a part of God’s Army, often after fulfilling orders… he walks in.

Dean hadn’t looked back at all.

Castiel looks around the room for the first time, and it is actually quite neat, besides the coffee cup that is possibly from a few days ago, considering how little Dean’s been able to make his way back here. There’s two trays holding the papers on a long board that’s held up by two cabinets. A box that is holding folders vertically, a leather book to the right of all that. Two chairs on wheels. There’s a small radio, a “boom box” as Dean called it, a few days ago while listening to music while soldering on a badly damaged motherboard for Frank Devereaux. He felt the need to explain that if something is on tape, it sounds a lot better on a “boom box” than on one of those overly designed pieces of modern crap called an ipod.

Castiel was unsure of what an Ipod was, but was assured that Sammy most definitely had one because he doesn’t have a soul. Which in context, didn’t make any sense. The only times that Castiel can remember a soul being brought up in any kind of conversation was when he was working with God. Often during or after their missions, the locals would point and shout at him and his garrison shouting, “Sin Alma! Sin Alma.” Which roughly translated means, without soul. His scant programming on human language and other things, just considers the soul an abstraction.

“Dean.” Castiel calls.

Dean sets this morning’s coffee cup next to the older one and turns to look at Castiel. “Cas?”

“What is a soul?”

Dean leans against the counter, “Isn’t it a little early for this kind of philosophical talk?”

Castiel can feel his cosmetic eye balls roll back. “Fine.”

Dean holds up his hands, “I’ll tell you, it’s just coming out of left field, is all.”

“I don’t understand that reference.” Castiel says seriously.

Dean laughs, then makes eye contact, pushes his nose, and says, “It’s uh, baseball.” Dean wipes his hands on his pants. “Anyways, what a soul is depends on your religious beliefs or cultural background. The simple version is that it’s a person’s essence, what makes them alive, sometimes it’s considered a compass for morality.”

Castiel considers this, and with a nod says, “Thank you, Dean.” Perhaps, it was his soul that caused that pain while he was in God’s Army. But, Castiel isn’t exactly alive.

“Are there machines with souls?”

“Well if you go with Isaac Asimov’s law of robotics, most robots have a moral code.” Dean answered with a laugh, “But Tin man, you’d know better than me.” Dean replied.

Castiel needed a larger sample group than one apparently. Perhaps if he could get Dean to contact Charlie, she’d have more to say on the subject of souls.

“But if you’re really interested in that kind of stuff, I have some books you could read. But we gotta get to work if we want to get this done before we open.”

Castiel nods, “Okay, Dean.” He will read these books to gain further insight later.

Castiel continues his scan of the backroom. There are cabinets above that table that are not unlike the ones in the small kitchen that’s off of the store front. There’s two large metal filing cabinets that are similar to the ones he saw in one of God’s employee’s offices.

“Great, we have the work orders, as they say at the top, these need to be filed according to the date due, which is here at the top, they go in this green file, if they are in progress, that obviously includes if the repaired items have not been picked up.”

 “If they’re completed work orders and have been picked up they go in the red file. If they’re invoices they go in this blue one, if they’re expenses they go in yellow. Mostly they’re filed by client, and then the date, going from current to past. That’s pretty much it. This here,” Dean said, picking up a large leather book “is the ledger, this is the “book” this is only for me. It’s what keeps this place balanced financially. Anytime a work order comes in, an expense is paid, payment received supplies are ordered, an employee if I can ever afford one is paid… it goes in here.” Dean says very seriously, in fact, Castiel has never see Dean so serious.

He goes over to the other side of the room, where the folders aren’t. He gestures to two trays both with papers in them, “Now this,” gesturing to the one on the left, “is the In-box, which means it hasn’t been put in the ledger and this,” gesturing to the right box, “is the Out-box. Which you will never put a paper in. If you somehow get handed a work order directly, it goes in the In-box, every single time. Once the paper is in the Out-box if you’re prove capable at filing, then, you may remove the papers from the Out-box, and begin putting them into permanent storage in this,” gesturing to the large metal cabinet with numbered labels on the drawers, “These are filed by year, and again sorted into the same colored folders. By client-name if it’s work orders, then date. If it’s expenses and general business keeping, then it’s by company, then date.”

Castiel just stares, it’s a lot to keep track of, and explains why when Dean actually allows him to follow him to the little room off of the storefront, he’s always darting back and forth. But, as Castiel sends this information to his partitioned and permanent drive, he can and will keep track of it.

They both set to work on all of the paperwork in the outbox, working side by side while Dean sipped his coffee occasionally, once accidently drinking the older cup, spitting out the coffee with a loud, “Gross!” because apparently older coffee doesn’t stay good ‘sludge’ and Dean rushes out to the kitchen and uses the hose to spray his mouth out and dumps the old coffee down the drain which is a “damn shame” despite that it was evidently undrinkable.

Castiel has to hide his automatic laughter behind his hand at the sight of Dean’s entire face red and puckering. Dean apparently still sees Castiel’s laughter and glares at him, which is stopped by Dean laughing very hard that ends with him making Castiel promise not to tell anybody and that he has to show him the Three Stooges.

Eventually Dean allowed Castiel to continue filing the paperwork into the folders, and while he wrote in the ledger all of the necessary information from the inbox paperwork, and putting it in the outbox for Castiel to sort.

Cas realized that by working together, he had cut the time for Dean to be doing paperwork by an hour or two.

While Dean scribbled away the last of the page, and Castiel hopped back up to grab it, scan and file it away, Dean remarked, “That was not bad at all. Thanks Castiel.” He patted him on the shoulder and then left to fulfill his normal morning duties. Castiel felt useful; like he had a purpose beyond any that he had felt while under the work of G.O.D. He saw that his work was useful to Dean…

Most especially when Dean came back in the office in different clothes, having lost the bathrobe and wet hair, remarked that it was “only 9 o’clock” and that, “since we have two hours to kill, we might as well go somewhere for breakfast.”

Castiel was filled with real excitement. He had never really had a chance to venture out in the world before, besides missions, and in those cases, they were always meant to be go unseen. Perhaps he could even have real human interaction, with people that were not already known to Dean!

But already working with Dean has objectively been the best day out of his archived daily logs. From before he even left the Chuck Shirley Corporation. With exploration out of the shop on the Agenda and the promise of books to download data from, Castiel has high hopes for what the future brings. Castiel is almost certain he’s feeling happiness firsthand, and after further research reading the Dean’s books, he believes he’ll find support for that hypothesis.

Chapter Text

Upon stepping outside of the shop, Castiel has to lower his CCD sensor’s sensitivity, because he is overwhelmed with light and color. His temperature gauges read 65 degrees Fahrenheit and Castiel has to lower his cosmetic eyelids to prevent the flare on his lenses, so he can observe unhindered. He can hear a high pitched whistling coming from the West of them. There were trees on the edge of the parking lot. The only car in the parking lot is an incredibly reflective black car that appears to be an older model, near the trunk there’s lettering that says, ‘Impala.’ Further there is a cement walkway, the road where many cars are passing them without so much as a glance in their direction and across the street, in the gaps of cars; Castiel can see a few human beings of various ages, sexes, and differing economic status rushing off in both directions towards their respective target locations.

Already, Dean has allowed Castiel more time to observe than he ever has in his short existence. In his time with God, he was only allowed outside in order to complete missions. He generally only had time to adjust his sensors to maximize his efficiency before he was off to do God’s underling’s bidding. From the East of them, he can hear likely a woman’s voice yell, “Have a good day! Be safe!” When he steps forward with the sound, he’s able to spot a woman around 200 feet away, in a yellow dress, waving her left arm back and forth.

Castiel takes in the scenes around them; no one else seems to be entranced by the bustle. This must be just an ordinary day to these people, nothing special. This is the world. This is humanity. This is free will. It is beautiful, and so full of varying data points. Where are these people going? Why are they heading that way? What awaits them once they get there? What is their relationship to those they interact with?

Dean laughs next to him, “You’d think you’d never seen the world before with that laser focus.” Dean seems lighter than he was in the shop, and not only because of the difference of lumens. The light is warm on his face, and there’s shadows moving over the left side. Castiel traces the path of the shadows and their cause is clear at once, the tree across the parking lot’s leaves are moving with the light morning breeze, and it’s the tree's shadows are reaching them.

Castiel is aware that familiar tilt of uncertainty that the Chuck Shirley Corporation programmed is engaging. “I’m not using my lasers at all. That’d be dangerous with the civilian population.” Castiel paused, “I’ve not seen much of civilian life. It’s a lot to take in.”

Dean paused laughing, “What the hell kind of robot are you?”

Castiel bowed his head in disappointment. He was aware that his past actions (although under command) were likely not acceptable to the average human being… He had hoped to learn about Humanity from a human being, as near to the source as possible. The likelihood of staying with a human being long enough to satisfy his curiosity is appearing unlikely.

“That wasn’t meant to be a stumper, Cas. The type of robot you are is incredible.” Dean says with another laugh.

Castiel is beginning to learn that he should heed the advice that Dean gave Sam when he visited the shop a few weeks ago, ‘Not to take things too seriously.’ Human beings definitely run with different computing protocols, their conclusions or outputs are not necessarily absolute. They can be interpreted as important or not. Castiel theorizes if he could learn how to differentiate which set of procedures to use when speaking to humans, he could make a real breakthrough in this whole human business.

“Man, Cas, I hate paperwork, but it’s the price of admission as a business owner, if you don’t keep your books balanced it’s easy to lose it. You cannot believe how much that helped. And now, we’re going to get some of the best pie you’ve ever had.” Dean exclaimed, his mouth smiling bigger than Castiel had previously thought he could.

“Sounds nice, Dean.” Castiel answered with a small burst of pride. He was helpful. Something he did had a positive effect on a human.

Dean begins walking East of the shop and Castiel observes a lot of the people they walk past, who when he meets their eyes, most women look down and most men raise their eyebrows at him. Dean appears to not notice any of these awkward encounters with strangers. Castiel still has yet to observe anyone with Dean’s particular shade of green eyes. Castiel will have to add to his task list to find out what exactly determines the eye color genetically. It seems like everyone has a subtly different shade.

They came upon a small building that looked like similar to a train car, but was decked out in silver, red and white, with a with a hand painted sign proclaiming it to be, “Harvelle’s”. Dean walked across the parking lot, and opened the door, holding it open while going inside, Castiel followed him.

A light-haired female in between the ages of 20-25 exclaimed from behind the counter she was currently cleaning, “Dean! What’re you doing here this early on a Tuesday?”

Castiel could feel the grin grow on his face, knowing that Castiel was the reason that Dean could be. Pride his database supplied, was what he was feeling.

Dean rushed up to the woman, wearing a black tank top, and jeans covered by a red apron and a button that said, “Hello, My Name is…”

“Jo! Got paperwork settled early, and thought I’d stop by.” Dean answered, already reaching over the counter to throw his arms around her. Castiel wondered if one were supposed to embrace every person in every establishment you enter, or if that’s just the standard protocol for the people who know your name, upon entering.

An older woman stepped out, in similar dress as Jo, but without the apron, and similar bone structure, likely blood-related to Jo.

“Winchester! What in God Green’s earth brings ya here, this early?”

“Mom, Dean actually did his homework.” Jo said laughing, pulling back from Dean.

“I suppose, you boys want to reward yourselves with a slice of pie.”

Dean laughs a little and says, “Know me too well. Thanks Ellen.”

The older woman went back behind the counter and slipped through a door. Dean sat down on one of the chrome and red barstools, and Castiel followed suit. Jo glanced at the two of them, Castiel feeling as though he was on the repair table, waiting for Naomi to decide what part of his operating system needed changes. She smiled, “So Dean, who’s the cutie?”

Dean rolled his eyes, “Way too old for you, Jo.”

Castiel understood that they must have been talking about him, but he didn’t understand how anyone could be too old for anything, but most especially Castiel himself. He was uploaded to his physical form, his vessel just five years prior. He was certainly newer than any of the participants in the conversation.

"But not too old for you." Jo said, her voice rough.

Ellen walked out with two plates of pie, with ice cream on top. “Just finished it this morning.” Ellen set the plates down in front of them, with a smile.

Dean looked up at Ellen with a smile, one that she returned, “You’re awesome, Ellen.”

Ellen laughed, “I know.”

Jo poured Dean a cup of coffee and looked over at Castiel, “How do you like it?”

“Like it?” Castiel could feel his eyebrows come together in confusion.

“Your coffee.” Jo said vaguely annoyed.

“Oh. I do not require food and drink for sustenance.” Castiel replied.

Castiel felt a sudden pain on the left side of his abdomen. He turned to see Dean’s arm returning to his own side.

“Dude!” Dean replied looking serious.

He turned back to Jo, and said, “He’ll just have a water.”

“Okay.” Jo said walking away to help some customers further down the bar.

“Why’d you hit me?” Cas said turning to Dean.

“Dude. You don’t know how ahead of the times you are! A robot looking like you is kind of scary. If they know it’ll make them uncomfortable at the least. Just act normal.” Dean took a bite of his apple pie and all the tension came out of his face. So this is what Dean looked like when he relaxed.

Castiel was confused why he couldn’t share the information of his origins, when he shared it so easily with Sam and Charlie. He’ll have to ask Dean when they’re alone.

Jo dropped a glass of water in front of Castiel with enough force that the water spilled a little. “Thanks.” Cas replied, his programming had covered dinner etiquette.

Dean made a small pleasurable sound with his next bite. “Great Pie, Ellen!” Dean yelled across the diner to the older woman who was refilling an older patron’s coffee.

“Cas, eat your pie.” Dean said shoving Castiel’s hand towards his plate.

“I was not designed to eat food. I don’t know what would happen if I tried.” Castiel replied.

Dean turned away from his pie. “You can’t eat?”

“No.”

“I’ve been eating much more food than I thought.” Dean said with a short laugh, eye contact and a concerned look on his face. His mouth was partially open, showing part of his most recent bite of pie. “I know Sammy’s gonna use this to try and drag me to the Gym.” He patted his abdomen. “Who in the hell runs for fun?”

Castiel looked at the pie slice he had in front of him. The white ice cream was melting into a puddle on top of it, on the top, a bit of the original scoop shape remained. He picked up his fork and poked it, the ice cream let go of the shape and joined the puddle.

A small pain settled in the middle of his abdomen, and Cas realized it was because he hadn’t experienced food, nor, could he see anyway of ever experiencing food. What a waste of pie.

Dean finished his pie, then looked at Castiel’s mushy untouched slice, and without a word started eating his pie.

“I’m sorry, Cas. I hadn’t realized.”

“It’s fine, Dean. I’m happy for the experience. I’m collecting a lot of data.” Cas replied.

Dean left a couple dollars on the counter. Castiel was looking back at Ellen and Jo busy cleaning and taking care of customers and wondered whether or not they were supposed to alert them of their exit.

“Cas, come on! Gotta open the shop.” Dean said holding the door open to Ellen’s Diner.

“Alright, Dean.” Cas said, a smile breaking out on his face as he re-entered the world of sunshine.

“So, uh, Cas?” Dean said conversationally as they were walking back to the shop.

“Yes Dean?”

“Why, exactly are you collecting data?”

Cas felt his forward movement come to a stop, as he mulled over whether or not it was time to mention his unique ability to overwrite his own system, or come up with another reason.

“Dean I” Cas felt a nervous swallow, stupid Chuck Shirley Corporation, “People are very complex, and it keeps me occupied.” A half-truth, not too bad, Castiel thought.

“Okay. Gotta stay busy now that you’re retired, right?” Dean said with a laugh.

“Retired?” Castiel asked confused.

“It was a joke. Most people worry about occupying themselves when they retire.”

“Oh.” Castiel replied. “I’m not people.”

“I keep being reminded of that, today.” Dean said, with a laugh.

“I haven’t successfully assimilated human life. I am a failed project.”

“Failed?” Dean said, stopping completely and looking back at Castiel, “I’d hardly call you a failure. You’re incredible.” Dean said clearing his throat and shoving his hands in his pockets. “technologically, I mean.”

Castiel heard a low rumble erupt from his mouth, sensation starting somewhere in his abdomen.

Dean stopped suddenly again, “Did you just laugh? You just fucking laughed didn’t you?” Dean said, smiling big.

Castiel supposed he must have, the idea of Dean thinking he was incredible technology was laughable, especially since Dean had yet to actually examine him. But, Cas, wasn't going to allow that anytime soon, If he trusted anyone with his inner workings, they might discover his ability to alter his own O.S. and may come up with a patch to remove it, or worse, actually wipe his drives.

“Did I?” Castiel asks, half-serious. He supposes this is more of the emotive expressions that the Chuck Shirley Corporation pre-programmed into him. So if it sounded like a laugh to human ears, than almost certainly, it was a laugh.

Dean slows his pace to match Castiel’s. Places his left arm across Castiel’s shoulder, and pulls him tight, “Never change.” He says, letting go of Castiel, patting him on the back, then resuming his previous speed.

But Castiel is already changing, has always been changing, more now than ever.

Chapter Text

It’s still dark, but the beginning of the next day. Castiel has taken a break from reading Dean’s books, a mix of science fiction, mythological books, historical fiction (an emphasis on war novels) history, science, technical manuals (computer-based and automobile based) and a few ‘trashy airport’ novels, which Dean moved behind the rest of the books with the rushed explanation that “there isn’t any useful information in those.” Despite that, Castiel notes, the airport books’ spines are cracked, pages bent and falling out, and overall are obviously worn. Someone must have decided that they were valuable reading material. But he leaves them alone, anyways.

Castiel is perusing the contents of the large fridge, thinking about the variety in foods just in Dean’s refrigerator, wondering about the sensation of taste. Wondering about the texture and the possible data he could receive from it. Could he figure out whether or not plants are relatives by taste and texture alone? Would texture feel different with the various sensors humans have?

Dean comes storming down the stairs, tossing aside his bathrobe, 5 hours too early. Dean’s shirtless and for the first time Castiel gets a good view of the musculature and structure of his torso. He’s always wondered how accurate his anatomy programming was. Now he has a decent example of it, that isn’t riddled with holes, blood, dirt and partially missing.

Dean’s putting on shoes, stretching a t-shirt over his head, and switches out his bathrobe for a jacket.

He’s rushing out the door, with no explanation.

Castiel is curious as to what could cause this kind of behavior from Dean? It is evidently a reaction to something.

Dean comes running back in, his hair still disheveled, “Keys.” He yells as explanation, as he’s already running up the stairs two-by-two to the restricted zone.

He comes back down, victorious with keys in his hand. Castiel voices the question on his mind, “What happened?”

“Jess is in labor, I’m going to be an Uncle.” Dean shouts behind him as he closes the door.

Castiel is a little disappointed. The one human birth he’s heard of since his construction and he won’t be allowed to witness it for sake of data collection.

Dean bursts through the front door at that moment, “Want to come?”

Castiel is running through the door before Dean has a chance to change his mind.

They get into a large seemingly black car, but Castiel has learned how the light can affect the observation of perceived colors, so he can’t be sure. Dean isn’t in the mood for questions as he speeds down various roads and highways talking about how amazing it is that he’s going to be an uncle, he’ll love that child even if it has 2 heads, which he can’t know for sure it doesn’t yet, since he has yet to see an ultrasound.

They rush into a human treatment facility, at approximately 3am.

Dean approaches the man at the counter nearest the entrance, “Jessica Winchester, she’s in labor, what room?”

The man starts typing into the computer, while asking if they’re family. “Of course we are!” and thrusts his personal identification card into the man’s face. “See, Winchester.”

“What about him?” he gestures at Castiel.

“Yes, he forgot his I.D. Now where in the hell is her room?!”

The man at the desk looks completely bored, “Her room is 234, labor takes hours, calm down, Mr. Winchester.”

Dean is already heading towards the elevator. Castiel thanks the man, and follows.

Dean pushes the number 2 button and shakes. “Dammit. Haven’t gotten the kid or kids a present yet. I’m a bad uncle.”

“The man said it’d take hours, you’ll have time.” Castiel says trying to comfort Dean.

Dean looks Castiel in the eyes for the first time since he came down from the restricted zone that night. “Thanks, Cas.”

Castiel is relieved, apparently it isn’t as much of an emergency as Dean made it out to be. “Why did you tell that man that I’m family?” Castiel asks.

Dean answers simply. “They wouldn’t let you in. I forgot that most hospitals have policies like that. Probably shouldn’t have invited you.”

“Oh.” Cas says feeling his face morph into Chuck Shirley Corporation’s approximation of disappointment.

The doors open and Dean rushes forward, “We’re here now.” He heads down the hallway paying special notice to the numbers next to the rooms.

Dean finds room 234, uses the complimentary hand sanitizer and enters the room. Castiel decides to wait a little farther down the hall. But decides to amplify his auditory sensors… Dean didn’t say he couldn’t listen in…

He can hear Sam’s reaction, “Dean, what are you doing here?”

Dean laughs, “You called me, dummy.”

“I called you to let you know to expect a call soon when you can visit the baby or babies.”

“You look beautiful, Jess.”

“Thanks---Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, fuck. Ahhhh.” Cas can hear a couple deep breaths, “That was a bad one.” Cas assumes that was Jess.

“Where’d Cas go?” Dean asks.

Sam answers, “You came in by yourself.”

“Cas, as in Castiel? As in your new toy that Sam’s obsessed with? He’s here?!”

Dean answers, “Yeah, he came in with me, is that okay?”

“Get him in here. He’ll be a nice distraction.”

Dean starts coming out of the room, “Cas?” He looks down the hall at Castiel. “Come on, come in!”

“Why didn’t you come in, Cas?” Dean asks as Castiel begins walking towards the room.

“You said it was only family.”

“Oh. I can see how you got that. No, Jess even wants to meet you!” Dean said, gesturing for Castiel to follow him with a smile.

“Okay.” Castiel responds and follows Dean into the room, copying him with the hand sanitizer.

“Oh my god.” Said, the blonde woman with curly hair and eyes within the 480-490 nanometers range, much smaller than either Sam or Dean, laying on the bed in the center of the room, hooked up to a machine.

More likely than not, Jess.

“I’m Jess, it’s nice to meet you, Castiel. You’re kind of hot.” She says sticking her arm out.

“Jess,” Sam says, with a warning tone.

Jess just reaches over and hits Sam, “Stupid. I’m having your baby or babies right now! I can comment on whether or not Dean’s new toy is attractive.”

Castiel grabs it with his own end effector, but drops it the moment she begins to scream again.

Before he has sent the command to his processor he’s on his knees with his head bowed, “I am so sorry, please forgive me. I did not mean you harm.” Obviously some latent code from his time with god.

Sam and Dean are on their feet until she stops screaming. “Sorry Castiel. Contraction. Probably not the best impression, huh?”

“Contraction?” Castiel asks.

“Yeah, it’s this stupid painful thing that happens because God was a man.”

“God?” Castiel asked.

“Oh, sorry if you’re not religious. It just makes sense with all the bull that women have to put up with.” Jess backtracks.

“What do women have to put up with that Men don’t?” Castiel asks.

“Oh, you know, the periods, the cramps, the carrying the baby for nine months, the boobs, contractions, labor… the works. God must’ve been a man, because if he wasn’t, being a woman wouldn’t be so damn hard.”

“Oh. I will have to do further research about the bodily functions of women. As well as the cultural idea that God or Deity is a man. I’m afraid there’s a large gap in my system programming when it comes to basic human functions, as well as religion and mythology.”

Jess laughs, “You really are a robot, aren’t you Castiel?”

Castiel can feel his face scrunch into the confused setting. “I never claimed I was anything else.”

Sam pipes up, “You should talk to Dean about mythology. He’s super into it. When we were kids—“

Dean interjects, “Shut up, Sam.”

“He was convinced monsters were real. He thought he saw something when Mom died.”

Castiel turns to look at Dean to look for signs if Sam’s words were true. He had redness on the skin laying over the zygomatic, reaching to the arch and the tips of his ears.

“You didn’t tell me that.” The words again escape before Cas writes the command to verbalize them, Castiel was surprised that Dean hadn’t relayed that part of the story when they talked briefly about his mother’s death.

Dean meets his eyes, a lot of the redness subsiding. “Yeah, I didn’t really feel like sharing all of the gory details. It wasn’t a good way to go.” Dean explains.

Castiel turns when he hears Sam speak “Yeah, she died in a house fire, Dean was the last one to see her alive. He actually carried me out.”

Dean appears to be attempting to take up the least space possible, his shoulders are tense.

“Maybe we should talk a-ahhhhhhhhhhh shit Ahhhhhhh- about something else. Damn contractions.” Jess replied.

“She doesn’t normally curse this often.” Sam explains.

“If either of you were experiencing the pain that I am right now, you wouldn’t be as reserved as I have been.”

Just then a doctor walked in, “Hello Mrs. Winchester, thought I’d come check in on you and see how you’re doing.”

“I’m having a baby, how do you think I’m doing?”

“I see we’re entering the middle, approaching the finish line. Which one of you is the father?” Says the doctor without looking away from his clipboard.

“I am” Sam says raising his hand. “I would think you’d remember me from the appointments, Dr. Wosley.”

“I can’t assume that whoever the star of the show brings to the appointments is actually the father as they say, to assume is to make an ass out of you and me. Anyways, those of you who aren’t the father will have to clear out shortly.” Dr Wosley taps his pen against his chin, other hand holding a clipboard.  “Usually there isn’t this large of a group before we’ve seen any real dilation.”

“Well, it’s my brother’s first kid.” Dean explains.

“I go where Dean goes.” Castiel affirms.

“Okay.” Dr. Wosley raises his eyes and leaves the room.

“You go where Dean goes? Really, Castiel?” Jess laughs. “Did Dean tell you had to? Just a little controlling, Dean.”

Castiel and Dean respond at the same time, “I swear I didn’t.”

“It’s in my system protocol to follow the owner after exchanging hands in order to provide assistance until I am commanded otherwise.”

Sam turns to look at Castiel, “Really until commanded otherwise? Dean where did you get him?” Sam says one brow raised, “Did you steal him?”

“No. Just one of my contacts in Southern America sent him.”

“You have contacts in South America?” Jess asks incredulous.

“Dude, you only speak English!” Sam points out.

“I speak some business Spanish.”

“Yeah, enough to buy pot.” Sam says accusing.

“That was one time!”

Castiel watches the siblings fight.

“Castiel, you really are unbelievable.” Jess says, also watching the brothers fight.

Castiel can’t manage to send the command to override his smile with his default expression. He doesn’t care.

Chapter Text

Castiel and Dean have both been forced out of Jess’s room. She’s a few centimeters dilated now, and there’s a good chance that she’ll be giving birth soon, according to Doctor Wolsey.

Castiel is staring at his shoes for lack of anything to look at, he quickly gathered data that almost everywhere in a hospital looks the same, and the halls are currently empty, save him and Dean.

“I know you’re disappointed that you couldn’t gather the data from the birth, but as someone who had to watch videos about it in Health Class. You’re lucky you don’t have to know how gross it is.”

Castiel’s interest is piqued, what about human birth would be gross? Why would a male, who was certainly born using the same method, find the process disgusting? Castiel turns towards Dean with the question. “Would you tell me about it?”

Dean clears his throat, “Personal space, Cas.” He licks his lips, a nervous habit, Castiel has observed, this subject makes him uncomfortable.

“Well Castiel, there’s something called a placenta.” Dean starts.

“What’s a placenta?” Castiel asks.

“A placenta is a bloody, gooey, glob of guts that is dejected at some point of the birthing process. Then, sometimes, the woman poops. Not to mention just the sheer traumatic image of a woman’s opening expanding far enough it looks like it hurts, sometimes it bleeds and tears, in order to accommodate a head.”

Castiel weirdly didn’t think about the fact that an infant’s head would have to be expelled from a woman’s body, he had been very foolish. “Are they always born headfirst?” Castiel asks.

“If you’re lucky, if they’re not born headfirst it puts the baby in more danger, and it’s much harder on the woman’s body.” Dean answers.

Castiel realizes that Dean is not speaking merely from observing it in an educational facility; he’s sharing someone else’s experience. “How do you know this?” Castiel asks.

Dean ducks his head, the redness is nowhere to be found, so he’s not embarrassed. It takes Dean a while to respond, his voice sounds as if it’s pitch-shifted down at least an octave. “Cassie was pregnant. Read it in one of her books. I’ve never told anyone.”

Castiel finds the file marked “Cassie” adds the additional information, and realizes that Cassie was the first woman that Dean had ever loved. Once, when Sam was over, Dean drunkenly compared his relationship with Cassie to Sam and Jess’s, he had sobbed.

Perhaps Sam and Jess having a child is painful to Dean. Dean hasn’t looked sad, until now.

Dean straightens up and pushes off the wall they were leaning against. “Well, Cas, I’m going to find some coffee.” Castiel decides to stay at the hallway, Dean didn’t invite him to come along and he can’t ingest coffee. Castiel wishes he had a file on what to do about this situation.

Dean comes back with a Styrofoam cup and steaming liquid. He seems to be happier, lighter. He doesn’t bring up Cassie’s pregnancy nor the result of it and his scant software on social niceties tells him that if it appears to be a painful topic, the other person should bring it up.

It’s been near an hour of them waiting around when a group of, according to Dean, ‘really hot’ nurses come running to Jess’s door. Dean elbows Castiel in the region of where his ribs would be, and instantly regrets it.

“Ouch, fuck you metal man.”

Castiel apologizes despite the fact that it was Dean who incited the violence.

“She’s probably having it or them right now. I wish she had just told us what she was having.” Dean says, frustrated. “I could be getting it or them a present right now!”

Castiel doesn’t understand why it would be important to know the sex of a child, surely all human children have the same basic needs.

“While I have never met a human child, I highly doubt that the child will notice the lack of gift, based on my field observations of young animals.” Castiel finally responds.

Castiel can feel like shake of Dean’s barely contained laughter. “I know they won’t know. But I will know.”

Chapter Text

When they’re allowed back in the room, Jess looks tired, like Dean after staying up all night in order for a client’s job to be completed by their deadline. She’s holding onto a bundle of blankets, Sam is leaning close to the bundle smiling, talking softly. They both turn when Dean knocks on the wall, “Hey, so is it human?” Dean says softly.

“Dean, come meet your niece.” Jess said, rolling her eyes.

Dean is already by her side, holding out his hands.

Jess hands Dean the bundle of blankets.

“Hey, there… let’s count your fingers… 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. And all your toes… yep, you are the perfect niece. I knew you would be! Yes you are! Hey, do you think your parents’ know your name, yet? I don’t think so... no I don’t.”

“The parents do have a name…” Jess started.

“Mary Althea Winchester.” Sam interrupted.

“She’ll go by Althea, Allie or Tia.” Jess finished with a wink.

Castiel is standing as close as possible to the bundle of blankets, but he can’t see anything past the cartoon elephant print. Finally he just asks, “Can I see Althea?”

Dean lowers the baby, and pushes aside the blanket, so Cas is able to correctly identify the face.

The child’s face has different proportions than any other human he’s ever seen, however they were full grown. He can see that the head shape is more square and the orbital sockets are rounder and takes up more of the total skull than an adult human’s, the irises are in the 600 nanometer range, with the pupil, they take up near the entire visible eye. The sclera’s are just barely visible. The oral cavity is also quite small and takes up a larger portion. The nose is also rounded and takes a larger portion of the face. It appears as if small children start with the features of their faces and just grow into in. The head, while large compared to how small the body must be, isn’t even a third the size of the 3 adults in the room. Humans start out so small…

Castiel realizes that he’s within the “personal space” limits of Dean’s and find he doesn’t care much. Taking in the temperature difference data due to the man besides him, and hearing the auditory feedback from his need to breath is comforting.  Castiel enjoys Dean’s company, if only because he doesn’t treat him much like a robot, despite bringing up his artificial intelligence often. Besides, if Castiel has learned anything about his time with Dean, it’s that Dean speaks his mind. If it bothered him, he’d say so.

“Can Castiel hold Althea?” Dean says in the direction of the child’s parents.

Although Castiel has likely stored all the data that he can retrieve through optical sensors, he finds he doesn’t want to look away from the tiny new human. He wants to observe and record the process of learning, of becoming something Adult size, what does that all entail?

Castiel feels like he has gained new understanding of the word “parent”. Only a few hours ago, there were only four of them, and now there are five. Well, four humans of various ages and a “robot”.

Dean must have received an answer from the parents because Dean comes even closer to Castiel.

“Okay Cas, the most important part is holding up the head, you have to support the head. I want you to get your arms ready, as if you’re holding a football?”

“I need more information. I have no reference point in my data of how one holds a football.”

“Okay, Sam could you come over here, so I can show Cas how to hold her?”

Sam is by Dean’s side, and very carefully, they pass the child between them. Dean pulls the chair behind them, closer to them.

“It’s easier to hold a baby for the first time, if you’re holding while you’re sitting. You don’t move as much.” Dean says talking to Cas, still well past the perimeter that Castiel has observed as the boundary between what Dean defines as personal space, and not.

“It is simple enough to follow a command not to move.” Castiel answers Dean. As a man made of 1s and 0s. It is simply his calling.

“Just sit down.” Dean says, his supercilia coming together in the expression that Castiel has learned is annoyance. To avoid any illogical emotional outbursts, as Castiel has learned humans are apt to do, he sits, and arranges his arms as near Sam’s position earlier as possible.

As Dean is bringing the child over, and handing her to Castiel he can’t help but give him further instruction. “Okay, support the head, be careful, she’s very new and very vulnerable, use a pressure no greater than a handshake, and support her there, just allow her head to rest in your hand, with your fingers cradling her head, your thumb and pinky on either side of her neck.

“She is so tiny.” Castiel observes out loud. He turns to Dean, “Are their eyes always this large proportionally?”

The three adult humans laugh incredibly loud at his question, Castiel smiles in reflex despite not knowing what aspect of his question was humorous.

Dean’s laughter gradually quiets and he answers, “Yeah, babies tend to have larger eyes.”

Dean leans in and folds the blanket back, “If you want to see something impressively tiny, take a look at these hands.” He says, holding up the child’s arm. She appears to be trying to fold her hand closed despite Dean holding it open, and that is one of two visible signs that may communicate any displeasure with being moved around like a doll. The other was her nose slightly scrunching. Babies are different than grown humans, indeed.

The child shifts slight away from Dean and closer to Castiel, no sense of personal space whatsoever. Perhaps that’s a survival instinct, can’t be upsetting those that are large enough to hold your entire body with one arm.

Sam calls, “Smile.”

As Castiel looks up towards Sam to see what the situation is about. His optical sensors are overloaded by light and he temporarily can’t sense anything.

“What was that?” Castiel says, his face morphing into anger, as interpreted by the Chuck Shirley Corporation. Castiel is surprised by Sam’s genial attitude despite Castiel undertaking this important task for the first time, what if he had startled, when he was temporarily blinded? Certainly feeling how the skull slightly gives with any amount of pressure, it would have led to disaster.

Sam hands over his cell phone to Dean for explanation.

Dean holds it up close to Castiel’s optical sensors. As his sensors adjust, he realizes that it’s an image of Castiel holding the child, with Dean playing with the child’s hands. She looks comfortable at peace, and Dean is smiling at Castiel. The only thing that makes it clear what Althea is cuddling up to isn’t human, is the fact that Castiel’s optical sensors reflected the white light back, normally one would see his cosmetic irises and pupils rather than the glass that protects his most sensitive hardware. As well as comparatively Castiel supposes he never looks relaxed as a homo sapien. Castiel chooses to add gathering data about posturing that creates the appearance of relaxation to his task list.

Castiel likes the photo of Dean and is grateful for the size comparison to himself, as he knows that Althea is likely to grow bigger at some point. So he can have another record of the day he met her at her smallest.

Sam hands the cellphone to Jess who bursts out laughing, “Well, now we know the best way to identify a highly realistic android is by taking a photo with flash! Sam take a better one!” She says handing the phone back.

Sam kind of smiles, and holds up the phone, and this time, Castiel is ready for the bright light. Except that it doesn’t come, there’s a minor click, and Sam’s at Jess’s side showing her the photo.

“Well, I guess we know that Castiel’s going to have to be surprised for any photos, while we can see those beautiful manufactured eyes, you look like you’re going into battle. But what a beautiful picture of Althea.” Sam nods his head in agreeance, looking over her shoulder and Dean leaves his place from Castiel’s side to look.

A Short while later, Dean offers to take pictures of Althea while everyone else holds her, and Castiel has the chance to just observe another cultural rite of passage, the birth of a new child. Pretty soon, they’re being waved off, Dean appears to be bouncing off the walls with joy, and Castiel although knowing he collected all possible data visually possible, to parse later, he would have liked to observe Althea longer.

The ride home is quick, without much chatter beyond Althea, and Dean, despite his short burst of energy goes directly to the restricted zone and goes to bed.

Chapter Text

Despite Dean descending from the restricted zone at a later hour than normal, he comes down almost talking nonstop about his niece, Althea. Despite Castiel giving Dean nothing but nonverbal cues, he’s able to talk for near 20 minutes about Althea and how incredible it is that Sam is a Dad, and he’s an uncle, he always knew that Jess would be a great mom, with a smile alternating between close-lipped and wide with teeth. Sometime in the middle of it, he talks about how lucky that Sam has a family, then the smile slips a bit. He makes eye contact with Castiel, his eyes reflecting more light than usual and smiles a lot bigger than Castiel has ever seen him, “But, she’s a sweetheart.”

Dean gets to work and it’s pretty routine, except in the middle of putting mechanisms back together and replacing worn out bearings, he’ll be talking about the future of that girl and how he needs to start a college fund because those two happy pinheads won’t think about it until it’s too late, and a college education is only getting more pricey.

He’s also showing customers pictures of her, quickly scrolling past the one with Castiel’s eyes reflecting an inhuman glow. The customers from Castiel’s observations genuine interest, some asking lots of follow-up questions like how old she is, and what’s her name. Castiel wonders if every human is as celebrated as this one is by the people who share genetic data with it.

Castiel searches through his long term storage, back to his father back at Chuck Shirley Corp, his cries of excitement whenever a fellow A.I. learned something new, and theorizes based on his two observations of the phenomena and theorizes that every new human is likely celebrated. While he may not understand the emotional excitement these human beings have for the new addition to their clan, he’s amazed at how tiny the systems of life, start out. To think that eventually that little human, could grow to the size of Dean, or even Sam! What knowledge could be gleaned about life through the observing those physiological changes from infant to adulthood? Only time, if Dean allows him to stay, will tell.

Dean takes a break from rebuilding the simple motor of a ride-on lawn mower, meant to cut grasses to the point where at most they extend out of the ground to 6 centimeters. Castiel can’t quite understand the motivation behind wanting to cut some grass, but, Dean’s too busy singing discordantly to the radio to ask. Dean gets up to grab a beer from the fridge and after pulling the bottle out, he turns to Castiel and sings into it for without a clear reason while gesturing with his other arm. “Don’t go around tonight. It’s bound to take your life, there’s a bad moon on the rise.”

He opens his beer and takes a big gulp when the vocalist stops singing for a moment, then sets it on the counter. Dean begins to shift his weight from his left foot to his right foot, rolling his shoulders he heads towards the front door and flips the sign from open to closed, and goes right back to singing while oscillating his hips. “I hear hurricanes ablowing.”

Dean takes another sip of his beer. “I know the end is coming soon.” Dean rolls his hips, amd start waving his hands. He goes right back to singing, “I fear rivers over flowing. I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”

He turns to Castiel hand outstretched and says, “Dance.”

Castiel has no program or command lists that involve the movements Dean is doing. The Chuck Shirley Corporation didn’t deem writing a program that approximated dancing necessary, considering that Castiel was only supposed to be a soldier, who could gather enemy intelligence and take out targets. Castiel felt his face morph into Chuck Shirley’s attempt at confusion, tilting his head as Castiel answered, “I don’t have the data required.”

Dean abandoned his gamboling, and came closer to Castiel. “Okay, Listen, you hear the bass line.”

Castiel nodded knowing that sounds with a deeper pitch is colloquially called the bassline.

“The most important part is to match the rhythm of the bassline.”

Dean then moves his pelvis back and forth along the x and y axis… Castiel approximates his movements the best he can.

Dean laughs, giving him an open mouthed smile, Castiel’s optical sensors are able to spot just the edges of the tonsils and the uvula.

“Then you add in a little arm action.” Dean begins moving his pelvis along the x and y axis again, and begins moving his arms, with his hands curled up, towards the sky… “That move is called tossing pizza. Your turn.”

Castiel mimics his movements, writing the code as he goes along. Again Dean laughs, near his orbital sockets, the skin folds that soften the nearer to the scalp they get. It’s rare that Castiel gets to observe this expression, even on Dean, despite how much time he spends with him.  “Don’t go around tonight it’s bound to take your life there’s a bad moon on the rise.” Dean sings again.

He then explains the “stretching dough move”, which involves bringing curled fists almost together and stretching them , moving them outwards vertically at an angle to the body, and back in. It appears to Castiel that all dance moves are based on food. He’ll have to watch food preparation a little closer if he’s to learn more.

The song ends and another starts up, the tempo slower so Castiel slows down his movements. The Vocalist starts singing, “Ground Control to Major Tom.”

Dean laughs hard enough to propel powder from his lips from the powdered donut that was behind them. His cheeks become red, from blood rushing to the tissue over the zygomatic arch, it spreads to his ears. Castiel detects a slight temperature change in Dean, and his heartrate increases.

“Ground Control to Major Tom.”

Castiel stops his dance, concerned for Dean, “Are you okay?” Castiel parrots the phrase that both Winchester brothers asked often. He’s learned from its’ use that it works to ask if there are any malfunctions in the human body or the human equivalent of errors to their programming.

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.”

Dean coughs a couple times, and Castiel wonders if Dean is about to die, only remembering the few times he observed a human being create those sounds were shortly after they were mortally wounded. There are no outward wounds on Dean, but as a bringer of Death, Castiel knows that many die before exhibiting outward signs, only marks showing after death.  

“Ground Control to Major Tom.”

Castiel hasn’t had time to learn all that Dean knows, the data would leave Dean upon his death and it would be lost to the world for the foreseeable time. They have yet to successfully extract data from the human brain, it’s not like a hard drive, you can’t just switch it out, or read the disks. The format in which the brain retains information is still a mystery, and depending how Castiel would preserve Dean, and the process used to extract that information there’s a good chance it’d all be for naught. Castiel knows he’s overworking his system, coming dangerously close to overheating, his processor trying to work through all the possible outcomes in the event of Dean’s death.

Commencing Countdown, Engines On. 432.”

What would happen to him? Likely, he’d be discovered as a machine that was meant for the scrap pile, which would mean disassembly, quite possibly the wiping of his system, data drives and o.s. The A.I. known as Castiel would be worst off than those before him, at least they were stored on archival drives at the Chuck Shirley Corporation, he wouldn’t have a scrap of data left of him.

“Check Ignition, 1. May God’s Love, liftoff, be with you.”

Though soon, Castiel doesn’t have to work out the possible outcomes, he can save it for later, or do it as a background task because Dean has stopped choking, and his eyes are teary, but he’s saying that he’s okay, in a voice that sounds scratchier than normal. Dean takes another drink of his beer.

“This is Ground Control to Major Tom. You’ve really made the grade and the papers want to know whose shirt’s you wear.” The vocalist is still singing despite how Castiel nearly lost Dean.

As Dean regains his ordinary color, Castiel feels warmer starting from the main body mass and move outwards to his limbs, but detects no temperature change.

While Castiel is concerned that it may be some faulty wires, and although Dean has been a model example of the kindness of humans, he can’t trust him with his inner workings, the last time he did that, G.O.D. had his system wiped, if it weren’t for a partition he wouldn’t be able to alter his code.

“Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare.” The vocalist still sings.

Castiel’s end effectors tighten into fists, an errant line of code adds itself to his command lists to rush forward and embrace Dean as he observed Dean do to Sam when he surprised him. He deletes it, remembering Dean’s lessons about personal space. “I’m stepping through the door.”

Dean laughs at Castiel and says, “What’s up with that face? No one died?” and laughs again, leaving Castiel to curse the Chuck Shirley corporation for allowing the inner processes to show so clearly on his face.

“Chill, binary man.” Dean says, patting Castiel on his upper x-axis limb. He rests his hand for a moment, and Castiel’s gyroscopic system compensates for the additional weight when Dean allows Castiel to support the bulk of his weight. “You really are solid, here I’ll teach you how to dance properly to the slower type of music. But don’t tell Sam, or Charlie, especially not Charlie.”

Castiel can feel his head tilt with his curiosity, “Why not?”

“And I'm floating in a most peculiar way”

Dean grasps Castiel’s upper y-axis end effector and Castiel reminds himself of the optimal pressure to close in order to preserve the human’s hand. Dean wraps another arm around halfway around his main body mass, resting just below where his main internal strut structure sits, and walks forward, stepping on his foot. “And the stars look very different today”

“You’re supposed to step back when I step forward.” Dean says with some annoyance.

“I told you I had no programming on this subject, if you don’t share the data required for the task, then it’s impossible for me to complete the task. So why can’t they know?”

“For here am I sitting in a tin can. Far above the world.”

“Jeez, Sassy Cas. Well, Charlie keeps saying these things, about shipping and stuff, and where’d you came from.. and I don’t want to explain more…”

“Planet Earth is blue. And there’s nothing I can do.”

“What does the method of my arrival have to do with anything related to dancing? Is she concerned that the box limited my mobility, I was in rest mode in transport, the chances of that affecting my structure is incredibly low, as any moving parts lock up.”

“Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles I'm feeling very still”

Dean laughs, “She doesn’t mean that kind of shipping.”

And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.

“I am unaware of other definitions of shipping, please, elaborate.” Castiel says, following Dean’s feet forward.

“Tell my wife I love her very much, She knows.”

Dean’s cheeks and tips of his ears instantly get red, which Castiel has learned is generally a sign of embarrassment when it presents in Dean. “Umm..” he swallows, loudly. “You know how Jess and Sam are around each other…”

Ground Control to Major Tom”

 “I only observed them for a short time together.” Castiel shares knowing that it’s possible in his observation they did not act in a way that would enlighten him on what shipping means.

Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong”

“Okay, you know how C-Cassie and me..” Dean hesitates on Cassie’s name. “were together?”

Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom?”

“Oh, you mean a sexual relationship, a union that could result in a child.” Once Castiel has said sexual, Dean lets go, stops dancing and steps back far enough to lean against the counter.

“Can you...”

“Yeah.” Dean says looking down.

Castiel can’t contain his laugh. “That’s absurd of Charlie. I may not know much about humanity’s reproduction but a human and robot can’t procreate, much less two males.”

“Here am I floating 'round my tin can. Far above the moon.”

Dean laughs, and resumes the dance.. “Yeah, anyways if she knew about us dancing together it would just give her more funny ideas about our friendship.”

“Planet Earth is blue. And there's nothing I can do.”

“Oh.” Castiel replies. “Is it not common for men to dance with each other?” Castiel still focuses on following Dean’s feet.

“It depends on the men. I would say in American culture, not so much between friends.”

“Oh. Why not?” Castiel says.

“Well a lot of people here, see dancing as something that couples do.” Dean replies.

“Sexual partners, you mean?” Castiel says.

“Yes, and obviously most friends don’t have sex with each other.” Dean says.

The song ends, and apparently for the time being they’re done dancing. Dean sits on one of the stools next to the counter.

“So, if most friends don’t engage in procreation, why do some friends choose to?” Castiel can’t help but question, he’s observed some minor interpersonal interactions but has never learned anything deeper about those interactions, and Dean has never appeared open to talking about it.

When Dean looks back up at Castiel, his cheeks are even redder than before. “1. Sex isn’t always about Procreation, Cas. Sometimes it’s about entertainment, love, libido, what you last ingested.. And 2, honestly it depends on the friends and how sober the friends are…”

“So sobriety prevents friends from having sex?” Castiel asks.

“Some friends.” Dean answers. “Look Cas, I know that you’re collecting data, but this is sort of a case-by-case basis where you’d have to ask the people in the relationships involved, and you cannot under any circumstances do that.”

“Why can’t you do that?”

“Because it’s rude and something to only be discussed among friends and preferably not in detail unless it was a real good lay.”

Castiel nods and adds this to his standard protocol lists. Human relationships have a lot of arbitrary rules. Perhaps if he could find the understanding logic of them, he could walk alongside humans, completely unnoticed. He realizes that technically, according to Dean, he could ask Dean or Charlie. Dean referred to their partnership as a friendship and Charlie asked if ‘they had just become best friends?’ on their last visit.

“So, do actions stop being a choice when one is under the influence of other things?”

Dean takes another sip of his beer, from the counter and licks his lips. “Usually people have some choice in their actions, obviously if they are unconscious due to drinking too much, or doing drugs… they can’t take any actions, actions can only be done to them, but that’s not cool. If someone can’t say yes, than they can’t consent, that makes it rape, period. If someone seems very unlike themselves and you know they are under the influence of anything, it’d probably rape, too.”

“Rape?” Castiel asks, having searched his storage and archived files for the term and not having found any matches.

“Rape is sex without consent. Not cool. If you ever see anything like that, feel free to remove the asshole with your deadly grip, wherever you are.”

Dean looks directly into Castiel’s optical sensors, the pupil looks absent of light, it’s unnerving despite knowing the reason why is because the retina is absorbing all the light that’s entering his eyes.

Chapter Text

Castiel was taking a break from reading Dean’s books. He’s already finished most of Dean’s volumes, of which there are plenty… sometimes with Dean’s neat scrawl in the empty places, his own thoughts about what is happening, words underlined, sometimes lamenting the character’s bad choices. Even notes about other books to purchase. Castiel enjoys those notes. It’s almost like he’s reading the books with Dean, plus sometimes they shed some light on the human subtleties that Castiel misses. Castiel has not touched the “airport novels” that Dean put behind the rest of the books. For some reason Dean didn’t want Castiel to read that “trash” and Castiel respects his judgement, although he irrationally wants to pull them out just to understand what’ so “bad” about them. He’s found with narrative novels he’s beginning to understand underlying messages upon re-reading them. There are layers of meaning, that although he’s read the words and he has them already stored on his hard drive, he doesn’t discover them until opening the book again, it’s not logical. But he’s learned that many books are worth rereading if only for those new discoveries.

Dean should have been downstairs for more than 3 hours and Castiel is currently processing the possible repercussions that may happen if he goes into the restricted zone to check if Dean is currently breathing and is annoyed that Castiel violated his “personal space”. On the other hand, if Castiel should find Dean is not breathing, he understands CPR theoretically thanks to the Boy Scout Handbook’s section on first aid. From his understanding there’s only so much time before it’s feasible to still be able to resuscitate Dean. He paces while trying to decide what to do, turning up the sensitivity on his auditory sensors hoping to hear any proof of life. He’s unsure if his pacing is a learned behavior, picked up from Dean. Or if it’s something courtesy of the Chuck Shirley Corporation.

Just as he’s made his decision to go upstairs to see if Dean is still on the mortal plane, Castiel hears a “Ouch! Fucking Damn it! Stupid table.” As well as a small crash, the pitch too high to be more than 30 pounds mass dropping to the floor. So Castiel knows that Dean is fine. “Damn toes!” comes later.

Dean finally descends, his hair sticking up in a t-shirt and boxers, leading with his left leg but avoiding the floor with the red toes of his left foot. Castiel can see the outline of his trapezius as he turns his back to make himself coffee. The just visible hamstrings are engaged where he stands. Castiel has greatly enjoyed reading Dean’s medical anatomy book, it has certainly focused his observation of posture, Castiel believes that soon he will be able to mimic the casual relaxed posture that most people employ.

The store should be open by now. Dean doesn’t make any move to unlock the door or start paperwork. He looks ready to go back to bed.

Dean quietly sips his coffee, and after putting his cup in the sink, acknowledges Castiel, the first time that morning, with a closed lip smile that doesn’t cause any folds near his eyes. “Hey Cas.”

“Dean, it’s late.” Cas mentions, pointing at the still closed doors of the shop.

Dean laughs, without smiling. “Cas, it’s Memorial Day. Store’s closed.”

“Memorial Day?”

“Yeah, Cas. The day to remember your loved ones.”

Cas remembers Anna, Gabriel and Lucifer, the other A.I’s whose vessels’ were destroyed by the Chuck Shirley corporation. “Oh?” Cas replies.

“Yeah, most places aren’t open at all. People will be visiting their loved ones.”

“So you’ll be seeing Sammy?” Castiel asks.

“Yeah uh, maybe. I’m actually going to visit my parents.” Dean replied, a sad look on his face.

“But, I thought they were gone.” Castiel asks confused.

Dean clears his throat, rubbing a hand over half his face. “They are.” Dean frowns and continues, “But there’s a place that is for remembering them.”

“Oh.” Castiel answered, with a smile. “That sounds nice.”

Dean frowned in return, “I guess it can be.”

“Can I come?” Castiel asks, as described it sounds like one for the data banks. A place of memories would be a worthwhile addition to his knowledge of humanity.

Dean eyes meet Castiel’s orbital sensors and bits his lip, his shoulders are sloping downward, he breaks eye contact and the worried expression leaves his face. With a shrug, he stands a little taller and gives a large smile, Castiel can see to his molars, and replies, “Free Country.”

Castiel feels a smile tug at his lips. “Thank you.”

Dean clears his throat, makes himself a sandwich, and with a murmured, “Don’t mention it” heads back upstairs, eating his sandwich.

Castiel spends the time waiting, looking around at all of Dean’s “projects” for clients he’s working on. The mechanics for which are simple, but intriguing. Castiel almost wishes he could view his own structure. Of course, the human body is much more complicated and mystifying. What powers it exactly, no one knows. But Cas proposes, that’s the same with all living things.

How different would being alive be, versus being powered? Castiel has nothing to compare it to. But watching Dean learning up close what really being alive means… it’s fascinating.

Of course, it seems like sleeping is like recharging in sleep mode. But how exactly does one power up? He understood the science behind recharging… except when it came to living things. Do they know about how it charges living things? As far as he can tell, there’s no external source of power, perhaps that’s what sleeping is for, gives the body a chance to convert the food into useable energy

Dean descended the stairs, wet hair sticking up, black shirt, and jeans, lost the button up shirt that he normally wears. He sets about making himself a breakfast while Castiel waited once again.

“Cas?’

“Yes, Dean?”

“Could you just sit down, you’re making me uncomfortable.”

“I want to be ready.” Castiel said without moving, he wanted to leave with Dean the moment it was possible, to explore, to learn, to collect data.

“You can still be ready sitting down. Sit.” Dean said gesturing to a seat at the counter.

Castiel takes a seat, deciding to use the time waiting as an opportunity to attempt to master a “relaxed” posture. By Dean’s small laugh, Castiel is not hopeful he’s on the right track.

“So,” Dean says with a broad smile, “How do you like your eggs?” making a grand gesture with the spatula.

“Dean-“ Castiel begins.

“You don’t eat… I know you’re all wire and electrodes, yadda yadda yadda.”

“Yes.” Castiel agrees simply.

“Y’know,” Dean says saddling closer to Castiel’s side. “I’d probably be able to remember a bit better, if I was allowed to actually examine you.”

Castiel lost any semblance of a relaxed posture. His eyes simply widened. He couldn’t allow himself to be so vulnerable. He felt an intense desire to retreat, but instead felt himself unprompted, regress into his seat. Perhaps that was a latent survival program activating, courtesy of his time with G.O.D.

His voice came out thick, sounding,  if he had been human, as if his throat was dry, or something was swollen. “No.” Castiel said simply.

Dean’s easy smile fell from his face. “Really Cas, never gonna let me get a real look at you?”

Castiel turned away from Dean as Dean ate his eggs and bacon.

When Dean was done, he laughed a little and said, “If you’re done pouting, we can go Cas.”

Cas with an eye roll was on his feet before he would’ve been when he worked as part of G.O.D.’s private militia.


 

Dean had introduced Castiel to his black, 2-door, 1967 Chevy Impala, which he had deemed, ‘baby’, and talked to it using feminine pronouns. He pointed out various shops and places along the way. We used to go there every summer, best hamburgers in the country. Sam broke his arm over there while we were sledding, but the kid walked it off. Dean admits to Castiel, that the only places that really felt like home after the fire was the car. After his Dad rebuilt the house, Dean still only found solace in the car. He points out a park with a swing set and metal playground. Dean mentions one of his memories of his mother, laughing with him as he swung powered by his own legs for the first time, looking so beautiful. The closer they got to their destination, the quieter Dean got. Once they entered Lawrence, Kansas… Dean stopped talking completely, but cleared his throat often.

They stopped by a shop completely filled with flowers. Dean got a bouquet of white and yellow daisies. The rest of the drive continued silently.

Dean pulled up to a large grassy area with stones all around, a few statues and a wrought iron gate. Dean came around to open up Castiel’s door for him and said, quietly “We’re here.” Not waiting for Cas to actually exit the vehicle. Dean went through the gate and started heading towards the center of the yard.

“Lawrence Memorial” was lettered at the top of the gate. Castiel had to rush to meet up with Dean. He still allowed his optical sensors to gather data to parse later. There were many stones, most with dates, names and some with quotes, some covered in dark stuff, others shining. By the time Castiel had made it up to where Dean was standing. Dean was talking.

“Mom, Dad. I know it’s been a while. Been trying to live my life, Dad, for you. It’s hard. I remember your sacrifice every day. I was lucky to have you. I’m glad that Mom has you to keep you company now, but I miss you guys. Sammy’s busy now, got a wife, you guys are grandparents now.  Or again. I don’t know how you’d count it.. Mary Althea Winch—”

Dean’s voice suddenly cuts out. He takes a loud breath, and his eyes are glassy. “Winchester. She’s beautiful. I wish you could see her. But at least you have my— At least someone is getting to know her.”

Dean takes another deep breath. “I want to believe that you’re up there watching us, not missing out on everything because you’re gone. I-I”

With, that, Dean split the bouquet of flowers between the two sides of the stone, one saying, “Mary Winchester  December 5, 1954 - November 2, 1983” and the other saying, “John Winchester July 11th 1954-July 19, 2006.” A single drop falls from his face and leaves a dark spot at the base of the shared stone.

“I just miss you guys.” Dean started wiping up near his orbital sockets, his face looked contorted in pain, the intensity of which near matched those that Cas had observed undergoing torture during his time with G.O.D. Then Cas stepped forward, displacing the gravel that covered the walking path, Dean took another deep breath and turned with the sound, and Dean’s face dropped back into his normal expression.

“Heya Cas.” He gave a small smile.

“Hello Dean.” Cas said with a small nod.

“So,” Dean said, his voice thicker, “how do you like the place?” He said gesturing around. Castiel took in the sight of ‘Lawrence Memorial’ filled with large groups of people, many in dark colors, all gathered around similar looking stones to the one that Dean and Castiel were in front of themselves. He might not understand all of it, but it was obviously a regularly practiced human custom.

“A place of memories. Are all of these stones representative of people who have also left?”

Dean swallows audibly.“Yeah, Cas.” Dean said with a much lesser degree of that painful face he had observed earlier.

“Oh, what’s the significance of the dates?” He said pointing to the two stones that they were in front of.

“It’s when the people were born, and when they left.”

“I see, is it always customary to leave flowers?”

“Most people do.”

“Why?”

Dean let out a laugh, deeper and higher than any Castiel had heard from him before, almost sounded like those gasping for air, after being fatally wounded for god’s militia. It made Castiel worry for Dean. But as quickly as it started, Dean stopped that laugh.

“I don’t know, Cas.” He answered, with a pat, he walked past Castiel in the direction of the car.

“Well, why did you?” Castiel asked, following Dean. Evidently he was not going to be able to get a full history of the tradition but perhaps a personal one would be enlightening.

“Well,” Dean said, looking down, scratching the back of his neck, he looked up. “Well, Mom loved daisies. You bring flowers, and she loved daisies… so… It’s what Dad always brought her, so now I bring them for both of them.” His eyes were shinier than normal… Dean blinked almost twice as much as normal.

“Oh. That’s a nice gesture.” Castiel replied.

“It is.” Dean replied, his voice deeper and sounding contorted, like his voice box was not receiving enough air. His shoulders shook a little, and he took an obvious breathe. Dean stopped suddenly, looking towards the large willow tree and the hills and the afternoon sun. It was quite, save birds chirping and the wind blowing, disturbing the leaves in the trees, made it almost sound like rain.

Two men stood still, alone in the large cemetery, one made of flesh, the other, of metal, for just a moment.

Dean turned and held Castiel’s shoulder for a moment leaning on Castiel, releasing him he said, “Well, I think it’s time to go.”

“You mean that’s it? The customary ceremonies are done, in this place of memories?” Castiel said surprised, it seemed like with most human ceremonies and rituals lasted much longer and had more steps, at least according to the folklore and anthropology texts that Castiel had been reading from Dean’s bookcase.

Dean quirked his eyebrow at that, “What did you think we were going to do?”

Castiel doesn’t know what to answer; it seemed they had traveled pretty far in order to set down flowers. He thought perhaps, they might take a moment to remember those they lost. Beyond that, he hadn’t had any idea what the place of memories would even contain. He can’t be certain why Dean thought it was necessary to come.

When Castiel opened his optical sensors, Deans face was a lot closer, “Don’t make that pinchy face like you do when you think. It was just an expression.” Dean waved his hand, “Come on, let’s get some pie.”

“Dean, I don-”

“eat. I know. But I do. Besides, I need to show you another place.”

Intrigued at Dean’s desire to introduce Castiel to a place, Castiel follows Dean out of the cemetery.

It’s near 3 perpendicular blocks away from the place of memories. It’s called, “Karen’s Diner.” That’s where Dean takes him, despite Castiel not needing any nourishment. Castiel hypothesizes that perhaps nothing motivates Dean to move to another location besides food.

The place is full of people, everywhere but the long counter, where a few people are nursing their coffees. There is a burly man, with a facial hair, a ball cap and a dirty apron covering his flannel shirt. He appears to have been surveying the restaurant, when his eyes focus on Dean. At once he is moving out from the counter and hugging Dean very tightly. “What the hell, Dean, your phone broke?”

Dean regresses on himself, “Sorry, Bobby.”

Bobby lets out a laugh, “Well ain’tchya a sight for sore eyes. Come sit ya idijit.” He says, moving back behind the counter and gesturing at the seat in front of him.

Dean sits down, Bobby messes Dean’s hair, reminding Castiel of Charlie playing with his own hair and Castiel chooses to sit next to Dean at the counter.

“Thanks Bobby.” Dean responds as Bobby is filling the cup in front of him, with coffee.

“So, who’s your shadow?” Bobby asks, Dean, turning his eyes, but facing Dean, toward Castiel. It reminded Castiel of God’s first inspection of Castiel, when he was first shipped there. Castiel wondered what ‘Bobby’ expected of him.

“Bobby, Cas. Cas this is Bobby.”

Castiel reaches out his hand to reenact the known tradition at this point. Bobby shakes it and says, “Kinda got a limp noodle of an arm there, boy.”

Dean laughs, “Believe me, he’s taking it easy on you.”

Apparently Castiel hasn’t made the proper adjustments yet…he files this away for future reference, perhaps a range of compression and strength between the Dean handshake and Charlie’s handshake. He’ll have test on the next person he’s introduced to. One day he’ll master the handshake and perhaps even pass for human.

Bobby starts filling the cup in front of Castiel with Coffee. Castiel puts his hand over the cup, effectively allowing it to spill onto the sides. “Sorry, Bobby. I do not require anything to drink.” Castiel believes he said it quite naturally.

“Cas that was not the proper response.” Dean says mouth wide.

“Oh.” Castiel said, putting his head down in what the Chuck Shirley Corporation decided shame would look like.

Bobby also had his mouth open wide. “How did you not feel that?”

“No pain receptors activate until well over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Dean smacks Castiel in the shoulder for some reason. Castiel’s latent programming manipulates his stance into a fighting pose, turning to free his feet from the area behind the stool. Bobby notices this with interest. Dean glances over at Castiel’s default expression, which is slipping off more and more often, regards his stance.

“Cas, chill it with the robo-speak.” Dean laughs and continues to drink his coffee.

Castiel relaxes, turns back to his coffee, notices the person farther down the counter shaking the sugar packets, tearing them, and pouring them into the coffee. Castiel decides to try his hand at it. Most humans don’t sit still, he’s noticed in his observations. The sugar packet pelts almost half of the long counter that makes up 80% of the diner in a thin layer of sugar. Castiel feels the area around his eyes tighten, and his head automatically duck down, thanks to the geniuses at the Chuck Shirley Corporation. The response to this situation is quite clear, “Sorry.”

Dean laughs.

Bobby’s entire face just tightens, and then Bobby starts walking way.

Dean goes behind the counter to follow Bobby.

 Castiel is pretty sure this is yet another restricted zone, as there is an actual physical boundary between Bobby and the patrons. So he does not follow.

Chapter Text

Dean felt some of the tension leave his shoulders upon hearing that familiar ring of the bell on Karen’s Diner door, when he pulled it open. Even more when the mixed aroma of fried potatoes, cheese, eggs, garlic, red meat and a touch of cinnamon reached him. Ever since he was a kid, Bobby’s place has essentially remained the same. Some of the wait staff, even 15-20 years later was the same. There wasn’t a place left on earth, besides the shop where Dean felt more at home.

Despite spending all-morning thinking about all the loved ones that Dean has lost, the life that he almost had, Dean felt almost total relief upon spotting Bobby. The rare constant in most of his life, looking lovably grumpy in a beat-up trucker hat and greased stained ‘kiss the cook’ apron that he’s had for the past 10 years. Bobby practically rushed him, giving Dean a very tight bear hug, smell of potatoes, grease, cheese and beer that always clung to Bobby loosened the knot in Dean’s chest that he forgot is always there. Dean knew he needed to make it down here more often, when the hug lasted a little longer than usual and with how wide of a grin Bobby gave him.

Bobby ruffled his hair, and berated him for not calling as often as he should. Dean apologized feeling a little guilty at letting go of most of his relationships while he focused on his own shop and learning more about Castiel. He’ll have to try to find a better balance. It’s just that Castiel is just so goddamn fascinating and everyday there’s plenty of new discoveries or observations about humanity that Castiel has to share. The world’s so exciting for Cas, filled with possibilities and things to learn about, it’s like living with a very eloquent toddler. Cas, in many ways has reminded Dean what can make life so good.

Besides, it’s been a little refreshing to just be himself, no worries about putting up a front, with someone. Even if his only audience is a robot that’s consistently reminding him, that he has no social context upon which to judge him. Even if he’s beginning to have very confusing and complicated feelings about, well, definitely an animated object, just not one that’s he’s certain has total autonomy or feelings… having an (probably, as Dean has yet to examine Cas) attractive, programmed best friend is different. Dean never knows what to expect out of him.

But it’s nice to just be. Castiel just lets him be in the moment, without subtly watching his every move trying to get a read on his mental health situation like most of his loved ones, or watching how much he drinks. Yeah, Dean might have been through a semi-recent string of tragedies and might even still have a few days every now and then where it’s incredibly hard to get up and do something, and feel positive with ever-present sensation of loss in his chest, but he’s okay. He’s standing, he’s functional, and it’s a lot easier to be in the moment, when he isn’t constantly reminded of what he went through because he catches them watching too closely, like they never did before.

Dean sits in his (thankfully somehow empty) usual seat in front of where Bobby likes to stand most, because it gives him the best vantage point of the entire restaurant, where he can keep a bit of an eye on the kitchen staff, watch the wait-staff, soak up the atmosphere and keep track of any potential problems to ensure that his establishment continues to run smoothly. And by God it does.

Even in the worst of rushes, Bobby’s staff (that are practically like family themselves) are efficient, charming, and perfect angels, except the grumpy but one of the most talented fry cooks, Rufus Turner.

Rufus who usually man’s the morning rush grill, and has definitely spotted Dean already, judging by the glare that he just throw his way. Makes the best eggs and potatoes on this side of the Mississippi and still hates Dean for the unfortunately cruel, but hilarious pranks he used to pull in his youth. Man, he’s even missed that dirty look, reminds him of how angry Rufus was when he found that dead fish in his backseat. Dean can’t help but beam at him, and judging by how much louder the scraping of his spatula, and how much more violent he’s throwing around his towel and the screech of, “Where in the hell are my potatoes?!” Rufus is not going to let Dean’s happiness go unpunished. His food is definitely going to be doused with hot sauce. Dean needs to remember to bring Rufus a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue to apologize for youthful discretions, it’d definitely mean he wouldn’t have to get a glass of milk every time he comes in and he’s at the grill.

 Cas sits right next to him, and Bobby narrows his eyes, possibly at the little giggle of Dean’s at Rufus’s red face, or how Castiel scraps the floor a little while pushing his chair just a little closer to Dean, still figuring out how much space is personal space. Cas is looking back and forth between Dean and Bobby and he can practically hear the electrodes buzzing with how excited Castiel looks at the prospect of more interpersonal relationship data. (Dean’s learned a lot of strange ways of phrasing things with Castiel, and he continually has to rephrase his own language because Castiel does not “understand that reference point,” or does not “the programming required to compute that utterance without further data.” Personally, Dean’s just waiting for the day when he accidently talks like a robot to somebody, sure it’s gonna be a laugh.) But after enough of back and forth sideeye, Bobby finally speaks his mind.

“Who’s your shadow?” Bobby says roughly. It’s his-don’t-you-mess-with-me, I-demand-an-honest-answer-and-without-there-won’t-be-any-food-served-to-you tone.

“Bobby, Cas. Cas, this is Bobby.” Dean, takes the easy way out. But judging by the further narrowing of Bobby’s eyes, that’s not gonna cut it.

Before Bobby can voice his disapproval with that answer, Castiel leans past Dean to reach over and shake Bobby’s hand, probably not purposely setting his other hand on Dean’s seat for support. Though with how close Castiel scooched his stool over, their thighs are pretty much touching anyways. Bobby is probably making some leaps about Cas and Dean’s relationship. Like, Charlie did. Especially judging by the not-so-subtle grin that Bobby threw Dean simultaneously telling Cas that he has a weak handshake, if only Bobby knew.

Dean laughs and says, “Believe me, he’s taking it easy on you.”

Bobby bends to grab them coffee mugs from underneath the counter, deals them out, and turns to grab the coffee pot, pours Dean a cup, and goes to pour Cas a cup, which Dean looks over in time to see, coffee spilling over Castiel’s hand, which would have scalded him, if he were human. So, of course, the little robot hasn’t even reacted at all to the pain, he should be feeling and stupidly says, “Sorry, Bobby. I do not require anything to drink.”

He then looks over at Dean like he should give him a cookie. Definitely not cookie-rewarding behavior, Cas. Or whatever the robotic equivalent of a cookie would be, perhaps more data with how thrilled Cas is with more ‘data collection opportunities’. Yeah, no extra data for you Cas.

“Cas, that was not the proper response.”

“Oh.” Cas says, smile right off his face, and pull his hand back, and putting his hands in his lap, and bowing his head, looking a bit upset. Dean feels like he just kicked a puppy.

Bobby, just like how any rational human being would respond asks, “How did you not feel that?”

Cas of course, still stupidly feels confident interacting with humans and answers in robot before Dean has a chance to make up any sort of reasonable excuse for it, “No pain receptors activate until well over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Dean can’t help but whack him in the shoulder and of course, Cas turns with some sort of ninja martial arts type of pose, and the whole idea of a completely socially inept robot getting into some sort of Ninja movie fight scene in the middle of Bobby’s just makes Dean laugh, especially if Cas keeps that super-serious face on the whole time and without thinking Dean tells Cas to chill it with the robo-speak.

Bobby is definitely intrigued judging by the eyebrow raise. Dean takes a sip of coffee to put off answering Bobby’s unspoken questions so that he can buy some time to think of any reasonable explanation for any of that interaction. And Bobby has already pulled out a rag to wipe up the coffee.

The only warning before Dean’s left side is pelted by sugar, is Castiel’s silence and the telltale sound of dry condiments packets being shaken. Dean looks over and tries not to laugh. Dean takes one look at Castiel’s “uh oh” face that resembles a three year-olds that knows they’re about to get it, taking in all of the sugar crystals stuck in his eyelashes, his hair, hell some sugar is in his facial hair, and in piles a top his shoulders. Cas bows his head down and quietly says, “Sorry.” The people who were sitting at the counter, are scooting as far away from Castiel as is physically possible in the crowded diner. Dean loses it, laughing. Sometimes it truly amazes Dean how vast Cas’s programming is, and how much it falls short.

Bobby walks away mad, and Dean knows it’s more directed at Dean for letting this goofball into his shop than at Castiel. So Dean, pops up and closes the counter behind him and follows Bobby into the back. They go past Rufus who’s cooking plenty of hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and beef patties, right past Zachariah who’s looking bored as possible at the fry station, past the walk-in… Bobby opens up the dry storage door, and gestures for Dean to go in first, and Dean does it, knowing that it means he’s either about to get a serious lecture or he might be interrogated… all he knows is that Bobby better not withhold the apple pie he smelled walking in from him. If anything was going to make him fess up Castiel’s artificial nature, that’d be it. He’s way too hungry to hold out long.

Bobby follows him in, and asks Dean plainly, “What are you doing with Castiel?”

Dean answers truthfully, “I don’t know.” What is he doing with Castiel? Are they friends, can you be friends with someone with artificial intelligence? Does Castiel even understand what friendship is? He likes having Castiel around, someone to teach things to, and someone to talk to. Castiel makes him feel less alone… but what is he really doing?

Bobby nods, “Why didn’t he react to the coffee… it must have burned him.”

Ah, Dean had already thought of the excuse for that one, “Nerve-damage in that hand. He probably could chop up a finger on that hand and wouldn’t notice it.”

“That explains that sad handshake of his.” Bobby says, accepting the lie that Dean just fed him. And Dean would feel bad about it too, if he wasn’t sure that Castiel being a hyper-realistic robot designed to apparently kill people and being almost indistinguishable from humans wouldn’t weird Bobby out more. Heck, he could see Bobby making Dean add Cas to the scrap heap just for everyone’s safety.

“So he’s just a nerve-damaged klutz?” Bobby asks, obviously fishing for more.

Dean isn’t going to make it that easy. “Yep.”

“He’s not special or anything?” Bobby asks.

Dean considers the question. Special to Dean, yes, Special ed, sort of. If Dean said yes it would explain almost all of Castiel’s strange behavior, from now until, whenever Castiel is gone... When will their arrangement end? Will he get married, settle down with a nice girl who finds Castiel’s questions and hovering creepy, and he’ll have to ask Castiel to leave, or will Castiel leave on his own? Or will the woman he marries actually decide that she likes Castiel and they’ll be this weird 3 person family?

“You okay, Buddy? Look like you’re thinking a little hard there.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Dean answers absently. He hasn’t ever really thought about Cas in any sort of long-term sense. He’s just been thinking more present since Castiel arrived. Excited to wake in the mornings mostly to see what sort of weird thing that Castiel would ask him about, or decide to do, what sort of logic he’d work out. That kind of thing. Will Dean end up asking Castiel will go, or will Cas decide that he wants to leave Dean, explore the world out there?

“Yeah, he’s just a dude.”

“A friend?” Bobby asks.

“Yep, just a weirdo, far as I know.” Dean says nodding.

Bobby smiles, a little too big for that answer, “Okay.” He makes a move for the door. “So he’s a new friend?”

“Yes.” Dean replies with no hesitation.

“Good.” Bobby says, exiting the supply closet and grabbing a broom, “Your friend, you can clean up.” He hands Dean the broom. “You know where the washcloths are.”

Dean follows Bobby out of the kitchen and back to the dining area. He begins wiping up the sugar mess and coffee mess of Castiel’s while Bobby goes and walks to take the orders of the patrons who have moved to the other end of the counter, literally as physically far from Castiel as they could. Some scooting their lunches with them.

While Dean wipes up the mess and rinses out the rag, going back for more of the sugar, despite Castiel’s neatly gathered sugar pile in front of him, he pelted near 80% of the diner somehow, so it’s a serious sticky mess. Dean returns, deciding to forget worrying about the future, and smiles at Cas, “Hey Cas.”

Cas looks up from his newly collected sugar pile, meeting his eyes, smiles back and replies, “Hello Dean.”

The one constant in their interactions, and it makes Dean feel a little more certain about where they stand.  Cas will be here. They watch each other for a while. And Dean fake coughs to cover up stop himself from saying something stupid to a robot that’ll be way too hard to explain and probably involves too many feelings and he gets way too much talking in about how he feels anyways between all the loved ones, and gets back to wiping up the sugar mess.

“Dean?” Castiel asks in that same nervous voice that always precedes a question.

“Yeah, Castiel?” Dean replies somewhat mockingly, one day, Castiel will realize that technically asking for his attention to ask a question is sort of a waste of time.

“Who is Bobby? Why did you go back there, what did you guys do? Why are you on the other side of the counter, it seems to be a restricted zone?” Castiel asks, whispering, like he sometimes does. Dean thinks that he’s beginning to catch on that sometimes he doesn’t act right in a human setting, instead of just Dean and him. He’s been whispering more often in the shop too, when there are customers around.

“Bobby is sort of like a second dad. I went back there to get lectured about you. I’m on the other side because you made a mess and Bobby is making me clean it up.” Dean dumps the wasted sugar in the garbage can. Drops the rag on the behind-counter sink and walks out with the broom and dust pan, begins sweeping up near Castiel’s feet. Castiel for his part, actually catches on and lifts his feet off of the ground and rests them on his stool, as Dean sweeps around his feet. Dean can feel heat radiating off of Castiel’s body. What is it with Castiel, is he freaking running on uranium?

“Why would you get lectured about me?” Castiel asks, innocently.

“Because you’re weird. Bobby wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking advantage of you.”

“Shouldn’t one take any advantage that comes their way to ensure success?” Castiel asked, his head doing that curious head tilt.

“You want me to take advantage of you?” Dean asked with a laugh.

Castiel seems to mull it over before responding, “I think that’d be advisable.”

Dean is aware that sex must be the furthest thing from Castiel’s mind, but he can’t help little Dean’s slight twitch of interest in what Castiel said. But it’s probably because sex is ever present in Dean’s mind, he’s aware of this, Heck, Sam’s aware of it. But how pathetic would it be to go down with a robot? Even if sometimes it’s hard to remember that Castiel is one.

Dean realizes that he hasn’t responded to Castiel and clears his throat to make time for a response. “Got any suggestions?” His body leans in of his own accord; he can feel his usual flirting smile on his face as Castiel stammers for an answer. It’s too bad that all of his game lately has been wasted on the attractive, yet, synthetic Castiel. He should really find himself a girlfriend. Or a Boyfriend.