Chapter 1: Perhaps the basketball team would be an option.
Early September found the sun shining cheerfully at the high schoolers parking their cars and dragging their feet for another year of tortuous education at the small town’s most unremarkable institution. Eric Kripke High School, named after the famous founder of the town who bailed soon after, and known for its everlong history of never winning a basketball game. It wasn’t that the team was terrible, it was just that like all the students who graced the locker-lined hallways, they didn’t give a shit.
The blaring sounds of Metallica entered the parking lot, and as usual, at least a few students turned to look at the sleek 1967 Chevrolet Impala rolling smoothly into the lot. It bypassed the empty spots and parked smoothly into spaces closest to the entrance.
“Perks of a senior,” Dean grinned to his brother sitting shotgun. And then his face fell when he realized it meant school was officially beginning. Overnights at Bobby’s or camping out at the beach with Sammy would be replaced by studying, and god forbid, finally taking a look at the college guidebooks Sammy was not very subtly placing around the house. An uncomfortable weight dropped in his gut when he thought of leaving his brother behind in this town while he went off to college.
No, he told himself he wouldn’t think about this. Sammy had grown so much this summer, they had to dig into dad’s emergency stash to get him a new wardrobe. Sam was growing up and he would have to let go sometime, but for now, he had a year.
Dean groaned when he spots Mr. Zachariah, history teacher and self-proclaimed disciplinarian, walking into the school. “I swear Sammy, he tries to get me into detention at least once a month for his own sick pleasure.”
Sam shrugged, recalling the three page paper he got an A on last year. “He’s not too bad.” He shifted in his seat. His legs apparently have grown too long for the Impala now.
“Yeah, that’s because he’s not after your ass.” Dean pulled out a flask from under the seat and took a long swig. “Man, it’s going to be a long day.”
Sam stared at him and asked sharply, “Dean! Is that alcohol?”
“It’s okay, no one is going to know.”
“Well they will because you put it in a flask!” Sam shouted furiously. He held out his hand and frowned deeply, “Hand it over Dean. You’re leaving it in the car.”
“Wow, calm down Sammy. I was planning on it anyway. Not bringing it in on the first day, how will I survive the rest of the year if I do?” Dean stashed the flask back under his seat. “But really, your bitch face has really leveled up since you became a moose.”
Sam tried to slump down in his seat but his legs wouldn’t let him. He really didn’t like his new growth spurt. “Jerk.”
Dean smiled. “Come on Sammy. I know you can’t wait for your first homework assignment.” He got out of the car as Sam reached into the back for his bag.
“Dean, where’s your bag?”
“Come on Sammy, it’s the first day. Only you would bring notebooks and pencils on the first day. Yeah, don’t give me that look. I saw you color-coordinating your highlighters last night.”
“I hope you get detention,” Sam groused, as they walked into the school.
Dean chuckles. “Not today, Sammy. We’re going over to Bobby’s after school.”
Sam stopped at an open door. “Okay. Here’s my homeroom. I’ll see you at lunch?”
“Yeah, the usual spot,” Dean replied. And he watched as Sam entered his classroom, waved high to a few of his friends and failed in suppressing a smile at everyone’s surprise over the behemoth Sam had become.
“Hey Dean,” Anna Milton greeted him as he walked into their homeroom. Dressed impeccably as always, Dean returned the greeting to the red-haired girl and roamed his eyes over her slim figure. She rolled her eyes. “How was your summer?”
“Like always. And you? Anything special happening lately?” Anna was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Kripke Gazette, probably one of the better things coming out from the school. With eyes and ears everywhere, she was the best source of information.
“Well, Mr. Azazel who left during the last week of school in June is back.”
Dean grimaced. Mr. Azazel was not in his nor his dad’s good books. During the last parent teacher conference, he implied that Dean’s behavior problems were due to his mother’s death and bad parenting all around. It had taken both Sam and Dean to pull their dad away from punching the teacher in the face. “What happened to him anyway?”
She grinned, “He had severe pink eye,” and Dean grinned as well. Served him right. Anna glanced down at her phone for the third time.
“What’s up with you? Waiting for a text from your summer fling?”
Anna rolled her eyes. “I’m not you, Dean. My brother’s starting school today, and I’m a bit worried about him.”
“No, junior. He’s been home schooled until now.”
“Eh, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Who gets into trouble on the first day?” The homeroom bell rang out.
“Dean Winchester. Detention,” Mr. Alastair called out with sick glee as he in walked in and shut the door on the senior behind him who tried coming in late. “Morning kids! Get your hungover heads off your desks, I’ll be handing out schedules soon enough.”
Dean ignored Anna’s look of ‘What did you do now?’ and bristled. “What did I do?”
“What are you planning on doing?” Mr. Alastair began marking down the attendance of the students present.
“Nothing that I have done yet,” Dean replied adamantly.
Ash, good ol’ Ash sitting in the back with his arms folded behind his head, spoke up. “No offense, Mr. Alastair, you can’t punish someone for something they have yet to do. That’s like arresting a criminal before he commits a crime.” Ash really was too brilliant to still be in high school.
“Why don’t they do that actually?” Harry asked with an entirely serious face. As usual he was attached at the hip to his buddy Ed. Together, they ran the Ghostfacers Club, dedicated to the exploration and admiration of any and all things occult. The club consisted of them, Ed’s sister, and gullible freshmen.
The entire room rolled their eyes.
“Wow. I’m just going to ignore that highly idiotic question,” Mr. Alastair said. “As for you, Mr. Winchester. Detention is because of your disrespect towards authority figures. You interrupted me--”
“I did not!” Dean said indignantly.
Mr. Alastair raised his brow. “And now you did. I’ll see you back here at the end of the day. Lucky for you, detention is only half an hour today.” Dean opened his mouth to argue and Mr. Alastair looked at him pointedly. “Want detention again tomorrow?”
Dean shut his mouth but fumed quietly in his seat. God, he hated high school.
Lunch was a quiet affair. That is, if it wasn’t for Sam’s new admirers. The wooden table next to the giant oak was reserved for the Winchesters and whichever one of their friends who decided to drift by. Today, it was just them, and Sam retrieved their lunch from the Impala while Dean waited impatiently at the table. He sent short glares at anybody who looked their way until Sam came back.
“What’s up with you?
“Ugh,” Dean groaned. “You’re going to need to occupy yourself for half an hour after school today. I got detention with that bastard Alastair.”
Sam only smirked. “Already? Last year he waited at least two weeks before he started torturing you.”
“Watch it Sammy, when he sees you, he’s going to go hounding after your ass too.” Dean felt his stomach rumble and knew he shouldn’t eaten more than toast that morning. “What’d you get for us?”
All the students (or at least the smart ones) know better than to get school lunch on the first week of school. Everything served was likely to have been from before school ended in June.
Dean’s eager face fell when he saw Sam pull out a container of greens from the paper bag. “A salad,” he deadpanned.
Sam smiled, “Only the best and healthiest option, Dean.” He started to laugh at Dean’s unenthused face, and reached into the bag again to pull out what was clearly a burger wrapped in aluminum foil. “Compliments of Ellen, Dean. A double decker bacon burger.”
Dean’s face lit up. He reached for the burger eagerly, and Sam slapped it away. “Only today, Dean. Salad tomorrow.”
Dean reached for it again, and this time Sam didn’t stop him. He tackled the burger happily, and spoke between chews. “You wish, Sammy. I’m getting my own lunch tomorrow. Go eat your carrot, you little rabbit.”
“Your little rabbit’s not so little anymore, yeah?” A familiar brunette walked up to them, curled an arm around Sam’s shoulder and slid into the seat beside him. Her fingers trailed over Sam’s collarbone ever so faintly. “Somebody’s grown up this summer.”
Dean glared at her. “Get out, Ruby.”
She laughed, “What, not even a hello from big brother?” Sam shifted uncomfortably, and tried to squirm from under her arm, but she stayed put. “Big bro’s really rude, Sammy. Come sit with me instead.” She pressed herself a little closer to Sam, her breasts almost falling out of her tight red blouse.
Sam huffed and moved her arm away from his body. “Only Dean gets to call me that, Ruby.” His usual soft brown eyes were sharply trained on her.
Ruby smiled wryly, but she got up anyway. Right before she left, she grabbed a fry from Dean’s bag and heartily dipped it into ketchup. “Alright, alright. Leaving now. Don’t need to get so scary, I’ll leave you to your lunch.”
She walked off with swaying hips, obviously a show for the boys, but Dean ignored it and looked around them instead. “Hey Sammy, looks like you’ve attracted more than just Ruby.” There were many girls, more than just sophomores, glancing in their direction. When they saw they’ve been sighted, they ducked their heads down or flushed and turned to talk to their friends.
Sam sighed, “It’s been like this all day.”
Dean grinned, “Get used it to Sammy, this is what it’s like to be blessed with good looks.” Sam rolled his eyes.
A pretty girl with shoulder length brown hair stopped by their table and sat down with her lunch. This time she was a welcome presence. “Watch it Dean, it looks like you Winchesters are going to get competition in that department soon,” she said. With a small smile, she said, “Hey Sam.”
Sam smiled back, “Hey Tessa.”
Tessa’s father was the town mortician and she endured much bullying from her classmates for “always smelling like death” until Dean stood up for her. Since then, she received no more trouble for her dad’s job as an undertaker, and could be seen frequently hanging out with the Winchesters.
Dean pushed his fries towards her, “You going to elaborate?”
Tessa shrugged. “I don’t really know much yet, he’s not in my morning classes, but I heard Meg talking to Becky about this new boy. Dressed smart, not very talkative, but very good looking. In that solemn, mysterious way, you know?”
Dean smirked wryly, “No, not really Tessa. But Meg,” he scoffed. “She’ll flirt with anything walking on two legs.”
Ash sat down with his new fancy gadget of the week. “Sound like someone we know?”
Tessa and Sam broke out into laughter, and Dean sputtered. “Who invited you?”
Ash flipped his hair over his shoulder in a bitch-I’m-fabulous way. “I’m above invitations.”
They all laughed again when Dean threw his fries at Ash and continued until the bell for the next class rang.
Sam was standing behind two bookshelves comparing two different titles when he heard someone calling from the entrance of the school library. He quickly walked to the front because Jim, the librarian and family friend had left for the day, but he trusted Sam enough to let him stay and lock up until Dean was done with detention. “Hey, can I help you?” He asked with a smile.
The student looked up from where he was glancing at the new releases and turned his gaze to Sam. His eyes were a shocking blue. “I’m sorry if I interrupted you from your work in the back,” he apologized immediately.
Sam shook his head. “No, it’s fine. I was just thinking of I should consider re-reading Arthur Conan Doyle or Shakespeare. Nothing dire that needed immediate attention.”
The other boy offered a small smile. “My English teacher from this morning would disagree.”
Sam laughed, “Who was it?”
“Mrs. Eve. She was very insistent on the beauty of beginnings and the classics.” Somehow, he managed to answer with a complete straight face.
“Mrs. Eve? She only teaches junior and senior English. Are you a junior?”
“Yes.” His eyes flickered to the watch on his arm. “I’m sorry, I have to get going. I was wondering if you could direct me to room 125?”
“Oh, yes. Of course,” Sam rambled off the directions, and the boy thanked him once more before leaving. Watching him leave, Sam pondered over the politeness, the nice clothes, and the brilliantly blue eyes. He wondered if this was the person Tessa was talking about.
Dean slouched in his seat, irritably spinning a pencil in his hand as he watched the seconds tick along in the clock. His eyes watched as Alastair walked in and glanced around the room. “Checking to see if there’s an audience before you torture me?”
Alastair scoffed. “Please, don’t underestimate me, Mr. Winchester. If I was about to torture you, it’d be best if there was an audience.” He sat on top of the teacher’s desk and stared down at Dean who was sitting rebelliously in front of him. “Now--”
“No.” Dean stared at him steadily.
“What? I didn’t even tell you what I wanted.”
“You don’t have to,” Dean countered. The pencil he was spinning dropped to the floor and he folded his arms across his chest. “You’ve asked me the same thing since sophomore year. I’m not joining the basketball team.”
Alastair narrowed his eyes. “You’re not making things easy for yourself.”
Dean threw his hands into the air. “Why are you so desperate anyway? It’s not like we ever win.”
“That’s not what’s at stake here, Winchester. Gordon Walker graduated in June and we’re down a player. If we don’t have enough players on our team, our school doesn’t get enough funding from the state. See where I’m getting to? I have to answer to Principal Lilith, and then it’s my ass on the line.”
Dean gave him a look of nonchalance. “Why do you need me then? Just get Ed or Harry on the team. They’ll love the attention.”
“We still have to compete against other schools, and since I’m the coach, it’s going to look bad on me. So yes, Winchester, that’s why I need you.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Go cry to someone who actually cares. I’m still not going to join the team.”
Alastair smiled cruelly. “Then I’ll just keep assigning you detention until you say yes.”
That son of a bitch. “I’m pretty sure that goes against regulations. I might hate research, but don’t make me do it and report your ass.”
Alastair shrugged. “Language, boy. I’m tenured, who do you think the school board is going to trust? If I say you need to be disciplined, you think they care?” He leaned forward. “And believe me, schools only care if your parents complain, and everyone knows daddy John Winchester is never around.”
Dean clenched his fists tightly, and tensed up.
Alastair leaned back and his face smoothed over. “Calm down, Mr. Winchester. I’m not the bad guy here. Look at it like this. If you want to get out of this town, if you want to make something of yourself, you’re gonna need to go to college. And your grades are not stellar. You’re going to need teacher recommendations and extracurriculars on top of that.
“Your part-time job at the Singer Salvage Yard is not going to be impressive. You know what will be impressive? Being on a sports team. All the books say so. It shows teamwork, time management, and all that good stuff colleges like to hear. On top of that, I can write you a shiny, glowing recommendation letter. So here’s the deal. Take it or leave it. Except not, because you’re not really given the latter option.”
Almost immediately after Alastair finished, there was a soft knock on the door. He gave another glance at Dean, “Think about it, Winchester,” before calling out loudly, “Come in.”
Dean stared at the student who stepped in. He was tall with tousled brown hair. He wore a form-fitting deep pin-striped button-up with a black vest over it that accentuated his slim figure. Messily tied around his neck was a red and blue striped tie, and it contrasted ever so sharply with his piercing blue eyes. Dean had to tear his eyes away from the newcomer to focus on what they were saying.
“How very nice of you to join us,” Alastair remarked.
The boy ducked his head down, and Dean felt a protective side surge. That sight was too reminiscent of Sammy when he first entered school. “I am very sorry, Mr. Alastair. I got lost,” he said apologetically. His voice was low, yet soothing to listen to.
Alastair just sighed. “It is alright, Mr. Shurley. There’s another ten minutes before we’re done here, so just go outside to the track field and run three laps.” He turned his gaze on Dean. “This means you too, Mr. Winchester. I’ll be keeping an eye on the two of you from my office.”
Alastair left the room to Dean muttering all synonyms related to ‘child abuser’ under his breathe. He turned to the new boy. “What’d you do to get detention on the first day?”
“I did not. I have been placed into remedial gym,” he answered plainly.
Dean raised his eyebrow, but when the other student didn’t not elaborate, he said, “Going to say why? You don’t look like you couldn’t pass dodgeball.”
He looked surprised, “Should I be? I’m sorry. I have been homeschooled ever since I was young. The school found that I do not have enough credit in physical education, so I will be making up my classes now.” He didn’t look angry, which was odd because Dean would be furious if he had to stay an extra hour every day with Alastair.
“Wait, homeschooled? Are you Anna’s brother?”
“Yes.” He furrowed his brows. “I am Castiel. Pleased to meet you. How do you know my sister?”
Dean shelved the strangeness of that name somewhere, and stuck out his hand. “Dean Winchester. She’s in my homeroom.” There was a slight hesitation before Castiel reached out to shake his hand. His hand was smooth and warm. It contrasted sharply to Dean’s rough palms from the constant toiling in Bobby’s junkyard. Dean might have held onto the handshake for a bit longer than appropriate, but Castiel did not say anything. In fact, he did not pull his hand away until Dean did it.
By then, they were standing at the edge of the track field. Dean glanced once more at Castiel’s attire. “You going to be alright running in that? Pretty sure there are some spare gym clothes in the locker rooms if you need.”
Castiel glanced down at his body. “Why wouldn’t I be alright running in my clothes now?”
Dean shrugged, “Well if you’re fine with it. Let’s go, pretty sure Alastair is watching us from somewhere up high, that creep.”
They started off with a slow jog, before moving on to a full run and Dean was surprised that Castiel could keep up with him for a guy that needed remedial gym. They matched each other pace by pace and despite the sun beating down on them, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Castiel was eerily quiet the entire time though. “What are you thinking about?”
“I,” Castiel seemed surprised that Dean was asking him a question. “I was wondering why you have detention.”
“Oh, don’t even get me started. I did nothing wrong for once, and I still get placed in detention.” Castiel frowned slightly, and Dean wondered which part of that statement he was upset about. “Alastair’s trying to get me to join the basketball team and if I don’t, he’s going to keep putting me in detention.”
“Why don’t you join?” Castiel’s sincere curiosity surprised him.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I guess I just like seeing Alastair get all riled up. I also have a part-time job as a mechanic. Basketball might get in the way.”
“I think,” Castiel started and Dean couldn’t help but notice that both of them had started to breathe a bit more heavily from both running and talking simultaneously. “I think it wouldn’t be too bad if you joined.”
They both slowed down as they ran the last few meters. Dean watched Castiel’s face, and then the glistening sweat on his skin. He swallowed hard when Castiel pulled his tie loose and unbuttoned the top two buttons exposing his pale collarbone.
He managed a sincere smile and ignored the feeling in his stomach. “Thanks, Cas.” Cas looked surprised at the nickname, but then slowly returned a small smile of his own.
Dean’s face felt hot, and he wondered if perhaps he needed to exercise more regularly because he could usually run double this amount before getting tired. Perhaps the basketball team would be an option.
Chapter 2: There was nothing that truly brought two men together better than mutually seared eyebrows.
The rest of a week was considerably uneventful except for Alastair keeping his word and assigning Dean detention everyday until he agreed to join the team. And as Ash kept reminding him with a sick grin, Alastair’s reasons were more inane by the day.
Wednesday: “Bless you, Mr. Winchester. And do cover your mouth. Detention this afternoon for the spread of germs and risk of contaminating the whole school.”
Thursday: “Detention, Mr. Winchester. Don’t think I didn’t see you chewing gum before coming in. No gum policy, remember? You need to learn to be more respectful of our school and its rules.”
Friday: “Your shoelaces are untied, Mr. Winchester. Detention for endangering yourself and the people around you.”
Dean approached every detention with the same disdain. As they waited for Alastair, he would nod a greeting to Cas who changed from his classy outfits to his preppy little shorts and Under Armour. Castiel explained, “Anna grew angry when she found out I sweated in,” he furrowed his brows in confusion, “Hugo Boss.”
Dean just let out that soft chuckle. He’d come to realize that for a homeschooled rich kid (he always knew Anna’s family was on the higher end of the income scale, but he could just smell the rich coming from Cas’s clothing labels), Castiel truly, honestly, had no idea sometimes. It was quite amusing.
Sadly, after their initial run together, Alastair remarked, “I figure you enjoyed that run with Mr. Shurley so much, it ain’t really a punishment. So instead, go copy this dictionary for me. Try to reach Arkansas before Mr. Shurley is done with his laps, alright?”
Dean flipped through quickly. “That’s forty pages!”
Alastair grinned, “Write fast.”
Dean was on page three before his hand was aching. He threw the pencil down and groaned, “I haven’t written this much since freshman year.”
Alastair looked up from grading papers. “You mean you’re complaining that there is no Spark Notes for copying the dictionary? What a shame.”
“My little brother is studying to be a lawyer. He’s going to find precedent detailing that this is some form of medieval torture and sue you.”
Dean’s idle threat didn’t faze Alastair. On the contrary, his eyes lit up. “Ah, Sam Winchester. I saw your little brother today in the hallway. He’s grown out a bit. More than a bit.” He curled his lips into a nasty smile. “Talk to your brother for me, will you? I want him.”
“Mr. Alastair, how inappropriate!” Dean raised his voice in horror, “Sam’s only fifteen!”
Both of them heard the slightest uncomfortable shifting from the door, and turned to see Cas, with his face flushed and hair soaked with sweat. “Mr. Alastair, I have completed my laps.” And after a pause, “Why does Dean’s little brother’s age matter if you want him?”
There was a momentary silence while Dean and Alastair traded looks of disbelief, and then Alastair informed Dean, “Mr. Shurley won’t be enrolled in Sex Ed until after winter break.”
Hello, everybody! You are listening to the Kripke High Radio and this is Becky Rosen with you all. Now I know you are bemoaning the end of summer, but fear not, because I am here to bring you all much needed gossip. This first week has been tough, but we can always rely on some school hotties to cheer us up! And my oh my, have you guys seen Sam Winchester yet? He has sure grown up over the summer. And from what I can see and hear, there’s a sharp-looking new junior in our midst. Don’t you all pretend you didn’t see him roll up in our beloved Anna Milton’s new Lexus LS Hybrid...
Dean didn’t want to say that his imminent entry to the basketball team was due to Alastair, instead it started with the school announcement informing all seniors of their scheduled meeting with Ms. Atropos, the school guidance counselor.
The first thing she said to Dean as he walked in was, “I know you don’t want to be here. And well, I’m not here to hold your hand and give you tissues as you cry. I am not a guidance counselor even if that’s what it says on my desk. Close the door while you’re at it.”
Dean just closed his mouth of the complaint he had already pre-planned. He also shelved away the whistle he was about to let out. With long blond hair and glasses, she looked quite like the sexy librarian. He never understood this school, for their guidance counselor looked like the librarian, and the librarian dressed like a pastor.
She continued, “I am your career adviser.” Her eyes seemed inflamed. “I am one of the three people in your life that matter at all if you want to control your fate. Do you know who the other two are?”
Dean had heard about her being a little intense, but now she was talking about destiny. “Uh, no? My boss?”
“Wrong! It is your teacher writing your recommendation letter and your SAT exam grader! Understood?”
Dean nodded numbly. He had no idea what she was talking about.
“Now, do you have a teacher in mind? English teachers are preferable but,” she looked up from where she was reading his file, “But I doubt colleges will want to read what your English teacher has to say about you. Or any teacher for that matter,” she finishes dryly.
Dean finally understood what she was getting at. Everyone always went in such a roundabout way to say this. He turned back to face her. “Ms. Atropos. I know I don’t have the best grades, and I know that without it, I can’t get any scholarships, and everybody knows college is expensive.” He leans back against the cushioned chair, which was oddly comforting. “If you want to tell me I’m not fit for college, just go ahead.”
Atropos kept her gaze on him, and her fierce look seemed to soften. “You do want to go to college,” she observed.
Dean shrugged. “Well, if I can afford it, yeah. But I don’t really want to leave Sammy, or this town. I’ve been living here my whole life. But it’s,” he swallowed. “It’s what my dad would want from me.”
Atropos smiled, “Dean, as long as you want to go to college, I will do everything in my favor to get you there.” She shook her head slightly, “There are so many kids that just give up, I was hoping you’d prove me wrong. Listen, your brother Sam? You might not know this, but Sam’s been in my office more than you have, and he’s only a sophomore. Sam knows what he wants, and he’s not going to wait. He’s not going to want to hold you back either. He can take care of himself, and I think he’s just waiting for you to let him grow up by himself.”
Dean froze in his seat. Sam had spoken to her before? About college?
“As for the others, your grades could be better, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You wrote that you’re employed at the Singer Salvage Yard on the questionnaire,” she paused when Dean’s face soured. “No, no! It’s a good thing. College’s like to know that you’re not wasting your time...” she trailed off, “What is it that you actually do there? It’s relevant.”
“It’s also an auto shop. I’m a mechanic, help fix up the cars.”
Atropos raised a fine eyebrow. “Well, Mr. Singer should change the name of his place because auto shop sounds better than junkyard. But really? Mechanic? Impressive,” she purred, with a look of glee on her face. “This we can work with.”
“What do you mean? Unless the Dean of the College needs a touch up on his car--”
“Mechanic means you actually have skill, Dean.” She rolled her eyes. “Wait, don’t be insulted.”
Now Dean rolled his eyes. “Not at all,” he remarked sarcastically.
“Let’s see here. Wow, you actually have some high praise from your physics teacher, too bad you never handed in your final project, lack of effort see? But here we go,” Atropos leaned forward in her seat, “What do you think of mechanical engineering?”
Dean blinked. “Wow, that sounds rich. Where can I get started?”
Atropos grinned, “Advanced Placement Calculus. AB. You’re probably not ready for BC,” she ignored Dean’s hey!. “Luckily for you it’s only been a week since school started so we can probably squeeze you into the class. Pamela Barnes, she’s a great teacher. She’ll go easy on you. Probably.”
Dean’s face fell.
Atropos held up one finger. “No complaints. Mechanic job is great, but colleges will also want to see you have participation in school activities.” To give her credit, she kept a straight face as she let out her next few words, “How about you join a club? Say, the basketball team?”
Week 2 was too soon to start experimenting with cafeteria mysterious meat, and it was Dean’s turn to bring lunch, which meant no takeout from The Roadhouse because Sam had the ability to set fire to water. For all their practice with knives, Sam only has to approach anything edible with the intent to cook to render it completely inedible.
So yes, Sammy did look forward to Dean’s chicken salad croissants.
And then imagine his outrage when instead of the succulent sandwiches, Dean pulled out a slice of cherry pie. Sam had a double-take. “Dude.” And it was Sammy’s dude that held incredulous disbelief yet extreme disapproval at the same time. It was a look that could not be replicated by another.
Dean grinned, “Yeah, sorry Sammy. Finished the chicken last night. Got us the next best thing!”
Sammy groused, “Your best thing.” He eyed the rest of the lunch bag suspiciously and Dean chuckled.
“Alright you got me,” he confessed, and pulled out a sandwich. “Pie’s for me, PB&J for you.”
Sam peered down at the offending item before him. It was seriously mocking him with its white bread and grape jelly. “Wow Dean, really? You could have made me a peanut butter banana sandwich at least.”
Simultaneously Ash (their lunch guest for the day) and Dean pulled up faces of pure disgust. Dean scoffed, “Ew no. That’s sick.” But when Sam’s glare didn’t relent, “Alright, alright Sammy. Put away that pout.” He dug into the bag and pulled out a sandwich, this one distinctly without jelly. “PB&J’s for me. Here’s your banana. Finish it quick before we all throw up.”
Andy showed up as Sam was finishing his lunch. “Hey, Sam. What were you talking to the teacher about after class?” He turned to the others, “Hey Dean. Er, Ash right?”
“Hey Andy,” Dean greeted, just as Ash held up his Juicy Juice to toast the sophomore.
“Listen, Sam. Do you think that pop quiz will be a large part of our grade? Because I was totally not ready for it, and I know she really likes you. Did she mention anything about that?”
Sam put up an easing hand, “Calm down, Andy. Ms. Barnes was just asking me if I had time to help tutor a student for extra credit.” At Andy’s panicked face, he quickly said, “Not you! An upperclassman. She said he needed some help brushing up with the fundamentals.”
Andy looked so relieved, his shoulders sagged. Dean chuckled, “Speaking of Ms. Pamela Barnes, Sammy. Spoke with Ms. Atropos today. Look at me, newest addition in AP Calculus.” He turned to Ash, “How’d your meeting go with guidance?”
Ash sighed, “Wants me to stop cutting classes, stop hacking into the school computers--which is hard you know? It’s just so easy. And they should thank me! I’m helping them expose the system’s weaknesses. But yeah, same old same old.”
“You didn’t get the college spiel?” Dean watched Sam from the corner of his eye, but Sam had no reaction.
“Man, who doesn’t get the college talk? Pain in the ass, I tell you.”
Dean leaned in on the table like he was disclosing a secret. “So did you know there is this exam we have to take? The SAT? Ms. Atropos says I should aim for at least 1800 out of 2400. You taking that soon too?”
Ash leaned against the tree and shut his eyes. “Nah, took that back in freshman year just to see how I’d do. Got 2400, so the school said I didn’t have to take it again.” Since his eyes were closed, he failed to see the gobsmacked looks on the Winchester brothers’ faces. “You got any idea where you’re going?”
Dean shrugged, “Anywhere that’ll take me I guess. Not like Sammy here who's got his future all planned out.” He sent a playful nudge towards Sam. “You know where you want to go?”
Ash sighed. “MIT. They accepted me since I hacked into NASA back in sophomore year, but I told them I wanted to go to after-prom first, so they’re saving a spot for me this year. MIT sounds like a real hassle, but least I don’t have to worry about sending scores and shit. Heard it’s a real pain in the ass.”
And Sam, with all his law school goals and backup plans, was horrified by the air of nonchalance this table was emitting.
With Sam in the library tutoring and Ash promising he’ll drive Sam to The Roadhouse after his Dungeons and Dragons Club meeting (he was co-president with Charlie Bradbury), Dean drove off to Bobby’s, all the while contemplating how to break out the news to him.
He walked into the auto shop and whistled. “This is a Mercedes Benz SL65 AMG!” He touched it gleefully. “Bobby, who brought this in?”
Bobby, forever in his flannel and the blue and white cap Sam gave to him a few Christmases back, grunted from where he was bent over under the hood of another, less glamorous car. “My neighbor down the road brought it in. Came back this weekend and said he wanted some touch-ups.” Bobby pulled away and wiped his hands down the front of his pants. “Well, think you’re up for it?”
“You kidding me, Bobby?” Dean’s face was incredulous, but his hands were itching.
“Yes,” Bobby replied sarcastically and rolled his eyes. “Get to work!”
Dean rubbed his hands together, “Your neighbor? You mean the one who owns the giant-ass mansion down the street? The house that’s about two times bigger than all other the houses on this road?”
“Yeah, that one.”
Dean snorted, “They would own this car.”
They tinkered and tattered in silence for a bit with a song about cigarette butts and back rooms in bars playing from the radio until Bobby spoke up, “What do you have to say to me, Dean?”
Dean stiffened. “What do you mean?”
“Kid, I’ve practically raised you and Sam, you don’t think I can tell when something is up?” He heaved himself from the floor and walked over to Dean. “You gonna talk to me?”
Dean rubbed a hand over his face. “I had a talk with my guidance counselor today. She said that if I wanted colleges to take me seriously, I’ll need to participate in some school activities. And the coach of the basketball team has been hounding me--”
Bobby cut him off. “You’re telling me you might need to take a break from working here?” His face was nondescript.
Dean felt his heart clench. Out of everybody in the world, there were few he cared about, and Bobby was one of them. He could never forgive himself if he disappointed Bobby. “I’m sorry Bobby,” he blurted. “I’ll forget about all this, and I’ll tell the coach no--”
“What?” Bobby thundered. “What are you babbling about, you idiot!”
Dean pulled out of his reverie. “What?”
“Of course I want you to join, you idjit!” Bobby huffed. “Look, I like you working for me and all, but I don’t expect you to work here forever! You really think I can’t take care of this place by myself?”
“Dean. Just shut up okay? I’ve taught you everything I could, so it’s time you move on. Remember when I finally took you on as my apprentice and you said you’d listen to everything I said?” Dean nodded. “Well now I’m saying you better get your ass on that team!”
Dean ducked his head and whispered, “Thanks Bobby.”
Bobby sighed, took two steps, and pulled Dean into a manly hug, “You idjit.” He knuckled him on the head and said gruffly, “I expect tickets for you first game.”
Dean walked into the school, spotted Alastair, and stopped him in his warpath to send Dean to detention hell. “Hold it, Mr. Alastair. The answer’s yes, so stop hounding me alright?”
Alastair looked surprised, but then grinned and rubbed his hands together. “Perfect, knew I’d break you soon enough.”
Dean was unimpressed. “You know if I record what you say and take it out of context, you are the very embodiment of sexual harassment?”
Alastair’s face twitched. “Watch it, Winchester or I’ll drag your ass up and down the courts till you're so sore you can’t sit down without wincing in pain.” Right before he left he called out, “First practice is tomorrow afternoon in the gym.”
Sam walked up to Dean from where he was hiding behind the fountain. “I think Mr. Alastair begins and ends with innuendoes. Think he saw me?”
“Let’s hope not,” Dean grumbled. “He better keep his hands to himself at any rate.”
Sam laughed until they reached their lockers. “So you talked to Bobby? He’s okay with you not working?”
“Yeah, encouraged me to join actually. Says I’ll finally be sweating around boys instead of metal, whatever that means.” Dean contemplated the pros and cons of bringing his notebook to class. On one hand, it’d look like he was taking notes, on the other, he would have to carry it.
“Hey Dean,” Sam stayed focused on arranging things in his locker, but that was how Dean knew it was serious. Sam only couldn’t look him in the eye when he was about to bring up something that was important. “Since you won’t be working at Bobby’s as often, are we going to have money troubles? Should we tell dad?”
“No!” Dean said a bit too quickly. “I mean, don’t worry. We have enough saved up, and if anything, I guess that just means giving my baby a few less waxes in the shop, you know?” He tried to play it off with a joke, but Sam knew him too well. And because of that, Sam knew not to push.
“If you say so,” Sam paused. “I was asking because the guy I was supposed to tutor? He has a conflict in his schedule so he can’t meet me after school. Asked if it was possible that I tutor him on the weekends and he was going to pay me for it. Do you think I should take it?”
Dean doubted the kid could pay much, but every little bit couldn’t hurt. “Yeah, sure why not? Didn’t you say you get extra credit out of this too?”
Sam nodded. “Alright, I’ll go tell him after school then.”
Right as they closed their lockers, Tessa walked up to him in a hurried manner. “Hey guys, do you know if Gordon’s been skulking around here?”
Dean’s face darkened. “Has Gordon been messing with you again?” Gordon Walker was the school bully who relied on his place on the basketball team and bigger stature to antagonize the younger students. Tessa had been one of his favorite targets until Dean stepped in. Although Gordon graduated last year to the relief of the students and several teachers, his lackluster grades couldn’t even land him in community college, and he was still seen around town doing odd jobs. Dean would never put it past Gordon to come back to his old haunt for another taste of power.
Tessa shook her head furiously and her brown hair whipped around her face. “No, no. I’ve just been hearing some rumors, that’s all. Some kid looked like he might’ve gotten roughed up.”
Dean narrowed his eyes, and Sam put a placating hand on his chest quickly. “Don’t worry about it Tessa, we’ll keep an eye out for Gordon.” He furrowed his brows. “Last time I saw Gordon, he was a cashier at the grocery store. But if we see him near here, we’ll knock him down another few pegs.” He smiled, and Tessa looked visibly more relaxed.
“Thanks guys! And congrats on joining the team, Dean!” She said as she walked off.
Dean sputtered, “That was like, five minutes ago! How’d you know?”
Tessa laughed, “Mr. Alastair was singing about it down the halls. I’m pretty sure the whole school knows by now.”
There was definitely less activity in the gym than Dean expected. The team was spread out across the bleachers, everyone on their phone or chatting with their friend. A sack of basketballs was on the floor, and Dean noted that not a single ball had been touched yet. Well, who knew, maybe he would fit in.
“Dean!” A deep voice called out and Dean turned to see Victor Hendrickson walking up towards him. He had been in Dean’s chemistry class sophomore year and was a total dick until the accident in lab, and there was nothing that truly brought two men together better than mutually seared eyebrows.
“Victor, I didn’t know you are on the team.” Dean accepted Victor’s one-armed embraced and thumped him on the back. He hadn’t really seen him since school broke out for the summer.
“Nobody does,” Victor said dryly. “Believe it or not, our team isn’t that well known.”
Dean snorted, “Tell me about it.”
“And that’s about to change,” A female voice spoke up. A shrill whistle was blown right by Dean’s ear, and Dean leapt up from the bleachers to whirl around and see the face of the ever youthful, playful, and blond Jo Harvelle.
“What the hell, Jo!” Dean yelled, pressing a hand to his ear that was still ringing.
She smiled sweetly, “That was for not tipping me last time at The Roadhouse.” She clapped her hands together, “Hey team! Gather round!” There were slighted groans but the team surprisingly listened and dragged their feet over to the young sophomore even though the team was predominantly juniors and seniors. “Hey guys, so you might know me but if you don’t, I’m Jo Harvelle and I’m your new team manager.”
A blond-haired junior wolf-whistled and leered at her. “So you’re gonna take care of us, Jo?”
Dean had watched over Jo for almost as long as he watched over Sammy because they practically lived in Harvelle’s Roadhouse after his mom died until Dean was tall enough to reach the stove without needing a stool. So he saw her as his own sister, and if he was going to let some dick harass her--Dean started to get up, but Victor grabbed his arm.
“Wait,” he said, gesturing towards Jo.
She just smiled sweetly. “Yes, of course. Coach Alastair was so kind to give me the authority to help you guys train. So,” she blew her whistle hard and most of the boys flinched. “All of you, up! I want five laps around this gym! And you, blondie,” She narrowed her eyes towards him. “Ten laps.”
None of them made the effort to move, but then Alastair’s voice boomed from the gym entrance. “Why aren’t you dumbasses moving? Didn’t you hear Jo tell you what to do?” He strode to them with cruelty and joy written on his face. “And Jeffrey, talk to the manager like that again, and let me tell you, it’ll be more than ten laps.” Alastair pressed his face close to the blond ‘Jeffrey’. “I’ll personally drag your ass to hell, and you’ll enjoy it!” Alastair pulled back to look at the stunned faces of the team. “Well? Get moving!”
The smarter students started sprinting away, but one of them complained, “But Coach, we haven’t stretched yet.”
Jo blew her whistle. “When I’m training you, you address me! And well, I guess you should have stretched before instead of playing on your phone. Two more laps!”
The others ran for their lives. They might have thought they were just dealing with one demon here, but it turns out Jo had been possessed too. Dean snorted, he knew better. If this was demonic possession, then Jo had been possessed for a long time.
He started his run, but Alastair grabbed his arm as he passed by. “Winchester, go help Shurley here with his stretches. I ain’t staying after more than I need to, so he’ll be joining us for his gym credit.”
Dean turned to the door, and was surprised that he hadn’t noticed Castiel standing there. Then he did a double-take when he saw what Cas was wearing. His dark jeans were torn at the knee, with mud near the bottom. His white button-up was crinkled beyond recognition, and his tie was hanging loosely from his neck. It looked like someone had grabbed him by the front and beat him around a few times. Besides his unmarked face, his messed up hair and clothes was the clear image of someone who had gotten kicked around in the back alley of the school.
Dean almost immediately presumed Alastair, but then he remembered what Tessa spoke to him about yesterday. “Cas!” He walked up to him and asked softly, “Has Gordon been messing with you?”
Castiel frowned. “Who is Gordon Walker, and why has everyone been asking if he has been harassing me?”
The look of confusion on his face matched the one on Dean’s, so Dean asked slowly, “You mean he hasn’t been hurting you?”
Cas shook his head. “I have no idea why you would presume that.”
Dean sputtered, “Well, your clothes for one thing!” Dean could not be considered an expert in clothing, but he knew there was something drastically different between today and last week.
“Oh.” Cas looked down at himself. “Anna picked out my clothes for the first week. What’s wrong with what I am wearing now?”
Dean just blinked slowly to take this all in. “Wait, so once again. You’re not getting bullied.”
Cas looked him in the eye--actually he’d been looking in his eyes the entirely time, which wasn’t weird at all--and said firmly, “No.”
Dean threw his hands up in the air. “Great,” he said with a sigh of relief.
“Great?” Cas looked confused once again.
“Now we won’t have to set Anna loose on anybody.” Dean looked at Cas again and noticed that he wasn’t carrying anything with him. “You gonna run around in that?”
Cas frowned again, “Why does it matter to everyone so much? It’s just clothes.”
Dean shook his head. He’s not going to try and understand how one sibling could walk down the street and be confused for a runway model whereas the other sibling had difficulty understanding the difference between pants and sweatpants. “Yeah, nevermind then. Let’s go stretch your hamstrings alright?”
Cas nodded and looked to Dean expectantly.
Dean realized Castiel has probably never done partner stretches before. “Okay, so first, lay down on your back with your feet straight. I’m going to pull your leg up and as far back as I can. Just tell me when it’s too much and I’ll hold it in place for about fifteen seconds. Understand?”
“Yes.” Cas lied down on the floor obediently, and Dean reached for Cas’s leg only to realize his hands had strangely become clammy. He wiped them once on his shorts and started to elevate Cas’s leg. When Cas had no reaction to the movement, despite his leg reaching remarkably far back, he paused.
“Uh, feel anything?”
“No,” Cas was staring straight up at Dean who stared back at the blue eyes before averting his gaze to push down further.
“Wow, you’re rather,” Dean swallowed. “Flexible. Even in jeans.”
All potential innuendoes flew out the window because Cas said plainly, “I do yoga with Anna on Sunday mornings.”
Dean swallowed again because suddenly it was too hot in the room. “Yeah?” He let go of Cas’s right leg, and Cas immediately lifted up the left one for him. “You any good?”
“Anna says I am.” Dean was suddenly glad that Cas was wearing jeans because if he wore shorts, he would feel Dean’s rather sweaty palms.
What Dean was about to say next was drowned out by Jo’s shouting from the other side of the gym. Somehow, she had developed the lungs of a microphone. “Hey Dean! When you’re done touching the new kid, want to start doing your laps?”
Dean pulled away almost like he was burned, and Cas got up once his leg was free. “Thanks. I should be able to do the other stretches by myself. Sorry for taking up your time.”
“No, no it’s fine.” At least it was only for today.
“Then,” Cas looked flustered. “Do you think you can help me with stretches tomorrow?”
Well damn. He needed to stop being a nice person.
Hey everybody! This is your beloved Becky again! I’m sure you’ve all heard Mr. Alastair singing it by now, but Dean Winchester has joined our positively dreadful basketball team. Now, he’s not as tall or impressive as younger brother Sam, but could this mean Kripke High has a chance at the championship? I’m leaning on no, but hey team, prove me wrong! On another note, remember the junior I spoke about last time? Ladies, and perhaps even gentlemen from what I can spy with my little eye, will be upset that although his sister will still be glamorously gracing our halls in Juicy Couture, this last week has shown that he has moved past Hugo Boss. I mean, I don’t mind the rumpled unbuttoned look, but damn! Remember that vest? Real glad you’re not getting beat up by Gordon, but hey, bring me more skin or bring me Boss!
Chapter 3: Fuck you very much.
This chapter is pretty much our personal memoir, and very cathartic.
To all non-USA readers, the SAT is an exam most students applying to college have to take. It measures your aptitude in reasoning with 10 sections of writing, reading and math all combined into one miserable four-hour experience. There are also one-hour SAT subject tests which revolve around individual topics like history or the sciences that some colleges require you to have taken. The highest score for the SAT is 2400, and the highest for each SAT subject test is 800. There is also another exam that can be taken, the ACT, except I’ve only experienced the SAT so that’s what Dean will be suffering through. CollegeBoard, the organization administering the SAT is heavily criticized for its exorbitant fees despite it being a non-profit organization. The SAT questions Dean encounters are found online and from ‘SAT Question of the Day’ emails that I used to get.
Warning for excessive swearing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harvelle’s Roadhouse was one of the town’s most popular haunts, being both a diner and saloon, and having the most amazing homemade pie known to existence. However, nobody really knows where the pie comes from because Ellen Harvelle would never step into the kitchen. There was a possibility that William--good ol’ Bill--kept a pastry chef locked up in the back because although he was the cook, everybody remembered what happened the time he tried to make a birthday cake for his daughter Jo.
Sam and Dean sat at their usual booth with their books and laptop spread out--well, Sam was doing research three week ahead for his assignment, Dean was jabbing numbers into his phone.
He sighed and threw it to the side. “Hey Sammy, let me use your laptop for a bit? Stupid CollegeBoard,” he said it with distaste, “won’t let me register for the first time by phone.”
Ash chuckled as he set down two glasses of sweet tea for them. The Harvelle’s got into weird moods when they wouldn’t serve soda because it was unhealthy, but then the alternative was sweet tea and with the amount of sugar in it, the health factor was truly debatable. “Registration?”
Ash, being an emancipated minor, had a parttime (fulltime) job as a waiter. All of his earnings went towards new electronic gadgets he would buy and later fix up so it would be able to fly to the moon or something outrageous like that. He even had his only little space in the backroom of the Roadhouse for all his tech.
Sam passed his laptop across the table to Dean who muttered, “Yeah.”
Ash sent a nod of acknowledgement to a customer trying to flag him down. “How are you going to pay for it?”
Dean held up a Visa debit card. Being constantly in San Diego, their dad opened up a checking account for his boys and every month deposited money in case of emergencies or necessary funds. In this case, Dean assumed school-related fees would fall into that category.
Right before Ash walked off to assist the two customers he warned, “I suggest you tell your dad about this if you’re gonna use the Visa. It’s going to take a chunk out, and when he sees the bill, it’s gonna hurt.”
Dean shared a look of confusion with Sam but after a few more clicks on the computer, sucked in his breath and cursed. “Sam! This is highway robbery!” He turned his laptop so his brother could look at the screen. “Fifty dollars for one stupid exam!”
“Did you look at the SAT subject tests? You need two for some schools. And you can’t take it the same day as the SAT.” As usual with all things related to college, Sam was on top of it.
Dean shot him a what-the-hell-are-you-on look but he browsed through the site a bit more and then slumped back into his seat in defeat. “This is just ridiculous. Ridiculous! My booze costs less than this!” He avoided Sam’s glare. “A twenty-seven dollar late fee? Well it’s not my freaking fault nobody told me about these exams until now!”
Sam tried to be helpful but he wasn’t really succeeding by saying, “Actually they had an announcement about this during the junior assembly. I just don’t think you went.”
Dean just glared at him and said defensively, “Come on Sammy, nobody goes to those!”
Sam ignored Dean’s jab at him. “Just make sure you don’t sign up for December because it’ll be too late to send the scores.”
Dean grumbled but registered just the same. By the time he was done, he dropped his head into his arms. “A hundred and twenty-seven freaking dollars, Sammy. What kind of paper is this exam printed on? Is the ink speckled with gold or something?” He sighed. “Good thing I’m still working Sundays at Bobby’s.”
Sam sat up a bit. “Oh, I was meaning to tell you.” He pulled out his wallet and tugged out just enough for Dean to see the crisp edges of four Benjamins.
Dean’s eyes widened. “Sam! Where’d you get that much money from?” He hissed. “You better not be dealing drugs.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “No!” He huffed, “Why would you even assume that?” He ignored Dean’s shrug. “Remember the guy I told you who wanted me to privately tutor him on the weekends? He said he’ll give me $25 an hour, and then just shoved the money in my hand. I feel kind of guilty taking it.”
“Wow. Twenty-five an hour and he gave you $400?” Dean raised both of his brows. “No wonder he needs help in math. I say milk him for all its worth. After each session, tell him people usually tip their tutors.”
Sam just shook his head. “You are a horrible person,” he said while putting away his wallet. “Two hours a week for two months, Dean. What subject tests did you sign up for?”
“Physics and math. I am so done with US history.”
“Dude, you barely passed that class last year.”
“That’s my point! Least physics you don’t have to memorize stupid dates about events that no one cares about.”
Sam just sighed. He had a feeling Dean would get Rosa Parks confused with Rosie the Riveter. “When’s your SAT?”
Sam’s eyes bugged out. “Dean! That’s in two weeks! Why didn’t you sign up for the SAT IIs first? You’ll never going have enough time to practice!” Sam was having a panic attack.
Dean wondered why his brother was the one freaking out when it was him who was going to take the exam. “Chill Sammy. Everything’s going to be alright.”
“No it’s not!”
“What’s got you boys all riled up?” Ellen walked up to them with a fond smile.
Dean shot her his most charming smile. “Sammy’s getting his panties all twisted over the SATs. Speaking of which Ellen, I really need a drink. For my next dreaded few weeks you know?”
Sam seemed to calm down a bit because he was coherent enough to send a glare at Dean. “Don’t serve him anything, Ellen. He needs to be in a sober sense of mind until he’s done with all the exams.”
Ellen laughed, “I wasn’t planning on giving him anything.” She placed a small plate of waffles at their table. “Bill made some extra, so in preparation for your,” she rolled her eyes, “arduous endeavors, have these instead.”
“But Ellen, what’s the point of having a bar if you don’t serve it.” Dean actually whined.
“I serve, Dean, just not to you.” Ellen said smugly. “You know, your fake ID would actually work if you aren’t from a small town where everyone knows you to be the son of John Winchester.”
Dean grumbled small complaints of how he had to drive three towns over for his alcohol and proceeded to drown the waffles in strawberry syrup much to the disgust of Sammy.
A short Asian kid with floppy hair ran up to Dean holding possibly the largest textbook in the school. He stood up from the water fountain and raised an eyebrow.
“Are you Dean Winchester?” Well, that meant the kid wasn’t waiting for water.
“Can I help you?”
“Hi! My name is Kevin Tran and I’m in Advanced Placement! I’m actually in the BC class and Ms. Barnes asked me to lend you my textbook until you can get the actual one. They ran out of AB textbooks in the book room last year too but my mom decided to buy the book from the publisher so I wouldn’t fall behind. Now I have an extra book, and don’t worry I didn’t write any answers in there. Actually I color-coded the important questions and and highlighted the key topics.” His mouth was running at two miles a minute.
Dean already lost track once he said ‘Advanced Placement’. He couldn’t believe it. He was actually staring at an Asian version of Sam. “Kid, how old are you?”
“I’m a freshman! My name is Kevin Tran and I’m in Advanced Placement.”
Dean groaned. “Let me ask you one question. Have you started studying for the SATs yet?”
“Of course!” Advanced Placement Kevin Tran looked scandalized. “I’ve been studying vocabulary every night for half an hour, and I practice an old exam at least once a month!”
Dean wanted to hit his head against the wall. Or wait, he just did.
Home economics was Sam’s most dreaded class. Missouri Moseley was a wonderful instructor who threatened Dean into behaving with a wooden spatula, but she also taught cooking and everyone knew that the culinary arts was a lost cause for Sam Winchester.
Sam was the most skilled with the knife, he could chop, slice, mince, cube, dice and julienne to perfection, but that was due to his father’s training with combat knives. Sam could not for the life of him crack open an egg without bits of shell falling into the bowl.
So it was clear that for the cooking portion of the curriculum, despite every girl eyeing Sam from afar, no one wanted to partner up with him. Mrs. Moseley only offered Sam a look of pity when the class broke up into pairs. She was another family friend who looked out for the boys after Mary passed away and had a soft side for Sam. Not so much Dean.
“Hi Sam. Do you have a partner yet?”
Sam looked up in surprise and flushed when he realized it was Jessica Moore. For the better part of freshmen year, he harbored a crush on the blonde cheerleader. She defied the stereotypes because not only was she stunningly gorgeous, he knew she was intelligent and many of their teachers adored her. He met Jessica when he had an assignment from the Kripke Gazette to interview her for a “Freshman Spotlight” piece. She had a charming yet modest smile, the same one she was sending him right now.
Alright, so maybe he wasn’t entirely over the crush yet. But best of all, she was one of the few girls who didn’t treat him any differently after his growth spurt. “Oh, uh. No.” Of course, the whole reason why his crush remained a crush was because he was still terrible at talking to girls. Dean would probably smack the shit out of him for having exactly zero percent of his flirting legacy.
She smiled. “Do you want to be my partner?”
“Of course!” He spoke a bit too quick and eager, and he wanted to curl up and wither away.
Luckily Jessica just kept smiling and tucking her skirt under her, gracefully slid into the adjacent seat. Missouri began her lecture of kitchen safety, and most of the class zoned her out, including Sam and Jessica.
Sam because he received this speech countless times and despite being able to repeat it verbatim, it had zero effect on his behavior in the kitchen. Jessica and the other students because it was common sense.
After a few minutes Sam realized Jessica was scribbling notes unrelated to home economics onto a small notepad. She turned to face him when she noticed his gaze and he flushed at being caught staring.
“Sorry,” he apologized while ducking his head.
She shook her head. “No it’s fine. Hey Sam, I remember you saying you wanted to be a lawyer last year. Is that still true?”
He nodded because he couldn’t trust his mouth. She remembered.
“Do you think you want to join another club?” She whispered. “I think Speech and Debate could really use you.” And with a slight pause, she added, “I’m part of the debate team.” She slid over a piece of paper. “We have an interest meeting today after school. Do you think you’ll be able to come?”
Sam memorized the date, time and location but still carefully tucked away the piece of paper into his binder. Right before Missouri called on him to recite what she called her ‘Ten Commandments of Fire Safety’, he whispered back, “I’ll be there."
Dean had a minor panic attack when he walked in on Castiel sitting at his kitchen table bright and early Saturday morning. He squawked in surprise because he only wearing boxers. Of course, he was not ashamed of his body, but Cas as usual stared and it was enough to make anyone uncomfortable. “Cas! What are you doing here? Are you stalking me?” he demanded.
Dean usually woke up later on Saturdays--it was his one day a week to relax--but he bought nice McIntosh apples (September was apple season) and he wanted to surprise Sammy with apple cinnamon pancakes.
Cas startled, “No Dean. But I didn’t know you live here.”
“This is my house,” he said slowly while his eyes darted to familiar things in the kitchen just in case he was dreaming or woke up in the twilight zone. Then Sammy walked into the kitchen with a textbook and Dean relaxed. “Sam! What is Cas doing here?”
Sam looked at Dean and then at Cas. “Oh! I didn’t know you knew each other. Castiel is the guy I’m tutoring. How do you know him?”
“He’s in remedial gym.” Dean assumed from Sammy’s face that his statement didn’t explain anything. “Alastair’s too lazy to run both remedial gym and basketball practice, so he put them both together.”
“Oh,” Sam said. “That explains why he can’t do tutoring after school.” And then without skipping a beat he asked, “Why aren’t you dressed?”
Dean grinned. “Feeling intimidated?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “No, but Cas is probably getting uncomfortable. Have some modesty before our guest will you?”
Dean thought if Cas was feeling uncomfortable than he probably should stop staring, but he couldn’t blame him. He and Sammy worked out daily, keeping up with their dad’s training regime, and their bodies were more than fit compared to regular high school students. Cas’s body itself wasn’t too shabby, more lean muscle than bulk, but attractive in a slender sort of way. Of course, Dean made these observations with no intentions in mind. It was a camaraderie sort of thing. Really.
He spun on his feet and headed back to his room. “Fine, if it offends you all so much. Cas, want pancakes?” he called out before stepping into his room quickly to pull on a black tee and sweatpants.
Cas replied ever so formally, “I have already eaten, but thank you for the offer.”
Dean shrugged but made the decision to increase the batter by a bit anyway. Nobody ever turned down his food once he laid it in front of them. And if Cas really didn’t want it, then they would finish it later that day.
Dean preferred to cook with some Metallica playing in the back, but as he cracked the eggs and chopped the apples, he realized he didn’t mind Sam and Cas talking softly to each other at the table behind him. Sam explained things carefully, in ways that made even confusing problems clear and from the way Cas was answering the questions steadily, he was a fast learner. The lull noise was comforting.
Soon the delicious smell of cinnamon wafted through the air, and he set down a tall stack of golden-brown pancakes on the table. He set three plates on the table and ignored the surprised look on Cas’s face. “Just eat it, Cas,” he said when Cas looked like he was going to refuse once more.
Sam started to push aside their books. “Let’s take a break,” and started distributing the pancakes while Dean grabbed syrup and butter.
Cas looked at the food before him and said, “Very well. Thank you, Dean. Sam.” He cut up a bite and Dean caught himself watching Cas chew from the corner of his eye so he focused back on his own plate. “Dean, this tastes very good,” Cas murmured and Dean’s face reddened.
There was something about the way Cas closed his eyes to taste the food that made even Dean feel modest. He cleared his throat. “Thank you.” And for no apparent reason, Sam caught his eye and grinned.
“What are you doing after this, Dean?” Sam asked.
Dean swallowed before saying, “Not too sure. Got nothing planned so I might go to Bobby’s to work on that car a bit more.”
“No, I got a better idea,” Sam mused. From out of nowhere, he pulled out the largest tome Dean has ever seen--that included the textbook Advanced Placement Kevin Tran lent him.
Dean sneezed; he knew he was allergic. “What the hell is that?”
“SAT prep book,” Cas read from the cover. “Anna gave me hers as well. Are you taking the exam soon?”
“Soon?” Sam shouted, but then took a deep breath. “He’s taking it in two weeks. He hasn’t even started studying yet.” Dean tried to get up slowly but Sam snapped out, “Sit down! You’re not leaving this table until you get through at least two practice exams!”
“That’s eight hours!” Dean glared at the offending book.
“I have other prep books my brothers gave me. I can bring them next time,” Cas offered helpfully. Dean only glared harder. No, not helpful. That traitor! And he made him pancakes!
Sam smiled wide. “That would be great! Please bring them if it isn’t too much trouble.”
Traitors, all of them. Dean could see the gleaming hood of his Impala from the kitchen window. The only one he could trust now was his baby.
“Are you also taking the SAT this year, Cas?” Sam asked.
Cas nodded. “My family advises that I take it in advance.”
Sam shot a look towards Dean. “Well, since you have to take it, would you like to practice with Dean? I can be your proctor. You seem to understand the math that we’re doing today anyway.”
Cas thought it though and nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.” He turned towards Dean, “Would it bother you if I joined?”
Dean resignedly shrugged. With Sam here, there was no way of getting out. “Least I’ll have company.”
“Great!” Sam exclaimed, and like magic, removes almost everything from the table. He pulls out two packets. “I made scans of the exams so when you studied it would be from packets like during testing. We must simulate every aspect of the actual day. So,” he whipped out two answer sheets and laid them down in front of Dean and Cas. “Also, make sure you use number two pencils. Have at least four sharpened, and a good eraser just in case. A calculator. Water. And a snack for breaks!” He seemingly pulled out everything from thin air as he named it. “Make sure you eat it or your brain cells will get tired and you won’t make it to the last section!”
Castiel and Dean traded wide stares of amazement. Sam’s enthusiasm was on the border of insane and horrifying. Dean reached for the granola bar but Sam slapped his hand away.
“You can only eat this during the section break! And you must finish it in five minutes!” Sam yelled. “Alright! Ready?”
After swallowing nervously, Dean and Cas nodded.
Dean opened his packet and skimmed through the long exam. “What the hell--”
“No talking, Dean!” Sam snapped. “Do you want get kicked out of the testing room on the actual exam day!”
Dean groaned. Sam was ridiculous. He snuck a peek towards Cas, who was already writing in his neat scrawl. Dean breathed deeply and read the first question:
Too often, people fail to solve problems because they focus only on the problems, thinking that if they study a problem, it will eventually suggest its own solution. Instead, they should remember their past successes and retrace their steps by analyzing what they did or did not do in similar situations in the past. It is often said that there is no formula for success, but if people would only focus on repeating the specific actions that worked for them before, they would surely succeed again.
Assignment: Are people likely to succeed by repeating actions that worked for them in the past? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
What the actual fuck.
Sam walked to the small chalkboard (where did he procure that from?) and wrote the time remaining. Twenty minutes left. Shit .
Dean tossed all real thoughts aside and just began writing. He had no idea where he was going with his train of thought or whether it was right, not that there should be a correct or incorrect answer to this, but he just kept writing.
He was barely done with three-fourths of the page when Sam called out, “Time’s up! Pencils down!”
“Alright, move onto section two.”
At least the rest of the sections was multiple choice, Dean thought. How bad could it get?
1) Seven cards in a pile are numbered 1 through 7. One card is drawn. The units digit of the sum of the numbers on the remaining cards is 7. What is the number on the drawn card?
a. 1 b. 3 c. 5 d. 6 e. 7
This was officially hell on earth. Jesus on a flatbread. Dean knew math. This. Was. Not. Math.
Of course, if he didn’t do this, Sam would never let him go. Maybe this question was a fluke. The others were probably easier. Since all the other numbers were odd, Dean guessed and filled in the bubble for d .
He looked at the next problem. Okay, he was screwed. Sitting up slightly, he turned his head so from the corner of his eye he could see Cas’s paper. He was able to copy about five answers before Sam slammed a yardstick on the table.
Dean knew for a fact they didn’t even have a damned yardstick in the house. Now it made perfect sense. Holy shit, Sam was the devil incarnate.
“Dean!” Sam yelled. “Do you want to get kicked out of the exam? Arrested for cheating! I swear to God,” he hissed. “I will murder you if you don’t take this seriously!”
“Sam! I am taking this seriously! This exam makes no sense. At. All.” Dean stressed.
Sam folded his arms. “I don’t care. You’re going to sit here until it starts making sense. Also, you better not guess your way through because you get points deducted for every question you get wrong.”
Cas left around dinner time after scoring a 1500 on his second try. Dean never made it to work the next day.
“Your brother is very passionate,” Cas said to Dean during Monday’s basketball practice. He was on one knee tying his shoelaces tightly.
Dean grumbled, “To books maybe. I’d like him to be nicer to me.”
Cas frowned slightly. “You must have misunderstood Sam. He was doing it to be helpful.”
Dean forgot Cas took words at face value. Actually he didn’t forget. His brain was just mush with ridiculous logic questions and vocabulary words like ameliorate or presage or effluvium bouncing around.
“Perhaps practicing basketball would help you relieve some stress?” Cas suggested. Because he wasn’t officially on the team, he only joined them for stretches laps and the occasionally ball passing.
Dean considered it. “That sounds like a good idea.” He ran into the court, stole the ball from Victor and proceeded to shoot for the basket.
In retrospect, it was a terrible idea. It made Dean both mentally and physically exhausted to the point that the next three days he was a trudging zombie. Alastair got frustrated at his performance and benched him. Cas was guilty for days, but Dean waved off his apologies and as they sat on the sidelines together side by side watching the team play, Cas began helping Dean with the writing and reading portion.
“I am very fond of writing,” Cas confessed. With his expertise, and Sam’s patient explanations of the math, Dean finally started to understand.
By the following Saturday, he scored 1550. Dean was still bone-weary but the encouraging smile he received from both Sam and Cas seemed to banish some of the weight on his shoulders.
He had one more week to pull it up to an 1800.
Good morning friends! You are once again listening to Becky’s Corner! Time just seems to fly by doesn’t it? No? Oh well, suck it up because there are nine more months to go. It seems a bit early for our school zombies to emerge, but I think we’ve all seen them skulking around. This Saturday is the first SAT exam of the year, and if you have no idea what I am talking about, you better be a freshman or a sophomore or be really excited to fry burgers for a living. Good luck to our seniors and ambitious juniors this weekend, we all hope to see you all rested and sexy once again! Also, a reminder from our teachers, next month is the annual Kripke High College Fair! So, juniors and seniors, wear your fancy clothes and be prepared to find your dream school!
On the day of the exam, Sam woke Dean up at seven in the morning. They had a breakfast of cereal (it was Sam’s specialty because it involved no eggs or fire) and Sam pushed the still catatonic Dean out the door at seven-thirty. As Sam slid into the driver’s seat ignoring Dean’s protests, he handed his brother the newspaper. “Read. It helps jumpstart your brain,” he ordered.
They arrived at the high school seven forty-five (the recommended time of arrival) on the dot. Sam all but shoved the reluctant Dean out of the seat, and flashed him a cheesy thumbs up. “Good luck.” If Dean was his usual self, he’d say rainbows of hope and faith were shining out of Sam’s ass.
Dean smiled back weakly.
His phone vibrated, and Dean looked at the text. It was from Cas and read: Good luck. If you are reading this message, you should probably leave your phone with Sam. - Castiel Shurley
Dean didn’t bother hiding his smile. Cas would use proper grammar and sign texts with his full name. He turned off his phone and tossed it through the window onto the passenger seat.
He endured the four-hour long torture, worked his way through ten sections of pure agony, and signed his name at the end with flourish. Handing his seventy-seven dollar exam at the end to the proctor, Dean offered his most charming smile but actually thought, “Fuck you very much. I hope to never see you again.”
He exited the building to find Sam back with Impala. Dean slid into driver’s seat and rested his head on the steering wheel. “Never again, Sammy. Never again.”
Sam patted his arm soothingly. “It’s okay Dean. You only have two more to go.”
For those curious, the correct answer is a.
Chapter 4: It might have involved a strap-on.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
With one month left until basketball season officially began, Alastair had the team practicing four days every week after school, with promises of morning practice as well if they couldn't get their act together. Actually, Jo told them this, but they all knew she and Alastair were conspiring with each other.
The daily routine was to go to the locker rooms, change into the uniform, mutually groan and curse at their coach, and then head out to the actual gymnasium to help Castiel with his stretches. Actually, that was Dean's schedule, the rest of the team doesn't help Cas with his stretches. That was because during the first week when Cas was still donning Hugo Boss and fitting shorts, Jeffrey-the asshole of the bunch, every team has one-sauntered up to the pair, and leeringly asked if Cas needed anymore help. And before the whole team, Dean snapped "No." They all backed away. Honestly, it was pure protective instinct and not at all possessiveness, no matter what Victor said to Dean afterwards.
Everything, including cellphones-especially cell phones-were to be stowed away in the lockers because, quote Alastair, anyone who could text and practice basketball at the same time wasn't practicing.
When Dean finally retrieved his things, he found out he had three missed calls from Bobby and a voicemail. "Hey idjit, ever gonna to pick up your phone? Get over here as soon as you get this call. The guy with the Mercedes is coming back next week so I need you to finish up."
Dean swore. With basketball practice and SAT II review (he was not going to get caught off guard again), he had little time to focus on the repairs at the auto shop. He glanced at his watch and cursed again. He couldn't help but feel guilty for leaving Bobby hanging. It wasn't his fault Dean was dealing with so much shit on his plate. "Oh, boo hoo, I have to go to prom," is probably what Bobby would say if Dean told him though.
Running out of the locker rooms, he briefly noted that Cas was already gone. Because Cas was not officially on the team, he didn't exercise as strenuously and did not need to use the locker room showers.
As Dean threw himself into the Impala and hightailed it out of the parking lot, he couldn't shake away this inkling that he was forgetting something.
The lingering feeling never left him and it wasn't until he returned home late at night and saw Sam, reclining on the couch and reading from his chemistry textbook, did he realize exactly what he had missed. "Sam!" Dean flinched. His train of thought had moved from classes to practice then immediately to car repair. At this moment, he hated himself. How could this have happened. "I'm so sorry!"
"For leaving me at school or for not calling?" Sam fumed from the couch. After the debate meeting, Jessica offered to wait with him, but as the sun began to set, she too had to leave. He was about to release a particularly biting remark but paused when he saw the sincere guilt on Dean's face. It was the same one Dean wore when he accidentally slipped out during December that Santa wasn't real and dad was the one leaving the presents, except dad couldn't come home that time for Christmas so he wasn't getting presents. Except Sam did, Christmas morning, and he always knew they were from Dean.
Sam sighed. "Dean, it's okay." When his brother didn't budge from the doorway, he heaved himself up from the seat. "Really. Andy's brother came by to pick him up and dropped me off."
This got a reaction from Dean. "Andy's brother? Listen, I like Andy-out of all your friends, just him, really," Sam rolled his eyes, "but isn't his brother a little, creepy?"
Sam held out his arms and waved a hand at his body. "All intact, I assure you." Dean kept eyeing him. "Dean! No bad touch either!"
Dean was not entirely convinced. "I don't know, don't you think Andy's brother is a little too possessive?"
Sam gave him an unimpressed look. "Like you're doing now?"
Dean glared slightly, but he was glad Sam was not still angry. Not that he would tell Sam. (And not that Sam couldn't see from Dean's countenance). "Did you eat yet?"
"Yep," Sam paused. "But I want garlic shrimp pasta. And veal tomorrow night."
Dean grumbled slightly because veal was expensive. But his pay for today was still in his back pocket and he made a mental note to add veal to the shopping list as he opened the fridge for the frozen shrimp.
Practice ended early the previous day when Jake collapsed on the court. As the team was leaving, they saw paramedics bring him out on a stretcher. Today Jo came in with a frown, and Alastair with a stormy face. He informed them that, "Jake Talley tore his ACL, won't be joining us for a very long time." His lips pulled back into a snarl and they all knew it was pure contempt and zero sympathy. "So, Shurley! You'll be joining the team for full practices from now until Talley comes back."
The team stared back at Coach Alastair until Jo blew her whistle. "What are you waiting for? Done with your stretches? I want six laps!"
They began their daily running and Dean slowed down to jog side-by-side with Cas. It became quickly clear that Cas followed a simple rotation with his clothing, particularly gym ones. His Under Armour he would wear once a week, and other times it would be the spare school gym uniforms Jo found buried behind a box of hockey pucks. The shorts were a bit tight for basketball, and the cotton t-shirts with the school mascot emblazoned on it were greatly oversized.
"Hey Cas, since you'll actually be joining us for practice, I'll go ask Jo for her to find a spare uniform for you. A jersey will probably be more comfortable to shoot and run around in."
Cas smiled, "Thank you Dean." Dean totally did not flush and trip. Victor had just rolled a ball in front of him causing him to stumble, that's all.
Jo had them running drills back to back and except for the minor setback with traveling, Cas was doing well with both dribbling and shooting. He had a good sense of movement around the court and properly passed it to his teammates-something his predecessor was incapable of. Jake Talley was good at shooting but had no sense of teamwork.
"Hey Cas, pass it here!" Cas compliantly threw Max the ball, who proceeded to land it in the basket. The team cheered.
"Huh," Alastair mused from the sidelines where he surprisingly watched them like a hawk the entire time. "So Shurley, seems you got yourself some innate skill. Congratulations, you're on the team. Congratulations to you too, Winchester, now I don't have to talk to your little brother." Dean glared.
The team gathered around the flushing boy to send praises like "Good to have you Cas" and "Better than Talley already." Cas appeared elated, but also clearly uncomfortable as the team surrounded him.
"Hey, hey. Back off guys. Max, just because you landed the final basket doesn't mean you get to treat us all to your body odor. Learn to use some deodorant." Dean managed to wrestle his way into the center of the group. "Alright there, Cas? Come on, let's go hit the showers."
The rest of the team rolled their eyes, and started heading for the locker rooms themselves. Dean ignored the elbow jab he got from Jo and waited behind for Cas to grab his bag from the bleachers. Jo walked up and whispered into Dean's ear, "Dude, you're so far into the closet you're hitting Narnia." Before Dean could choke out a response, Jo smiled most charmingly to the unsuspecting Cas and walked away.
Dean growled at her receding back, but began heading towards the locker rooms with Cas. Dean walked in to the usual scene, but Cas saw pure pandemonium. All the showers were occupied, with hot water pouring out of the showerheads and the steam filling the room. All his teammates were in various states of undress, the most popular being fully naked, and someone had turned on the radio which was blasting out Eye of the Tiger.
Dean chuckled, "First time in the locker room?"
"Yes," Cas confessed. "It seems crowded. Maybe I should go."
Dean shook his head, "Nah, you're part of the team now. Just wait a few minutes and it'll clear out. Also you're dripping with sweat. Really think Anna would let you into her car like that?"
"Maybe I could convince her that sweat is the next alternative source of free energy." He kept a completely straight face.
Dean stared. "That was a joke. Cas! You're joking. Not a good one but not bad. You're actually more human now." He laughed and laughed and threw his arm around Cas's shoulder. Cas stiffened just the slightest, and Dean realized exactly how warm the locker rooms were.
Dean cleared his throat and pulled away just as Victor emerged from the shower stall with a towel around his waist. "All yours, Cas."
Cas looked directly into Victor's eyes, in such a way that betrayed his intention of looking at everywhere but naked flesh. "Perhaps Dean should go first."
Victor grinned, "No, I'm pretty sure Dean wouldn't mind if you come first."
Cas frowned with confusion written on his forehead. English must be Victor's second language.
Dean glared at Victor but said, "Yeah, go Cas. It's fine. Jeffrey will be finished soon."
Cas began to remove his clothes and Dean felt like he was watching a slow-motion strip show. Dean could not tear his eyes away as Cas slowly unveiled smooth, pale skin and it wasn't until Victor cleared his throat loudly that Dean noticed he was staring. Cas flushed and quickly stepped into the running shower still wearing his grey boxer-briefs.
An awkward two seconds passed before Cas poked half of himself out from curtainless shower stall. His body was dripping wet and his soaked underwear hugged his lower body tightly. "Sorry, Dean. Can I borrow a towel?"
Dean nodded and numbly tossed his towel over to Cas, but his eyes were trained on the rivulets of water sliding down Cas's throat to his bare chest. Droplets skated across a firm stomach to narrow hips. Dean gulped. The steam in the locker rooms created a haze surrounding Cas's slender body. Dean felt his mouth go dry.
Cas stared at Dean staring at him. He stayed blushing and Dean wondered just how far down the flush went. Cas's voice was still surprisingly steady despite his obvious discomfort. He asked, "Is there something I can help you with?"
Victor grinned, "Oh, I'm sure there's something you can help Dean out with."
Dean sent him the deadliest glare and tried to inconspicuously shift the front of his shorts which he realized wasn't as loose and baggy as he needed it to be. When he spoke his voice was rough, "I was wondering if you need soap."
"There's soap in the stalls," Cas replied. "Thank you though," he murmured quickly before ducking back in. Dean ignored the looks Victor sent him and furiously tried to grab his things from his locker.
Victor smirked. "I guess what Bela said about you in June was true."
Sam was in a great mood. He hummed something from the top 40s hit list while pulling out black trousers and an iron, whereas Dean was sitting at the table glowering at his physics SAT II review book. With excitement printed on his face, Sam rambled, "Oh man, Dean I can't wait. I just got a letter back from Rogers & Stark! They're the greatest law firm in this district. And they're already accepting applications for the summer internship. It's so competitive but they called me today for an interview. Oh my god," Sam wheezed. "I can't believe this."
"Yeah," Dean answered absently.
"I don't really know what to wear yet but I think this pair of pants goes well with my gray button-up right? Well, actually Jessica pointed that combination out to me. I was just thinking of layering up my plaid shirts to show Mr. Stark just how serious I am about this internship."
"Uh huh," Dean agreed. He was twirling his pen and thinking of pale skin.
"Anyway, it's just really important that I make it to the interview next Tuesday. You don't have basketball practice that day right?"
"Mhm." Natural sex hair, the barest hint of a scruff, and too pink lips.
"Great!" Sammy finished up ironing his clothes just as Dean threw down his pen.
"I can't do this anymore Sammy. I just can't."
Sam began to worry. "Dean, it can't be that bad. Just review over your old notes, well if you took any-"
Dean interrupted, "No Sam. I'm talking about my social life. I don't really care that much about physics."
Sam shot him an incredulous look. "Really. Dean!" He stormed over to his older brother and crossed his arms. "The exam is in three weeks! How can you think about that stuff when your hopes and dreams are riding on this important test!"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Forgive me for being a normal teenager unlike you. I haven't dated since school began! It's taxing on my body. I'm having thoughts!"
"It's been a month! Forgive me if I don't pity you." Sam said sarcastically.
"Sammy, you don't understand! Not even in freshman year did everybody fail to notice me!" Dean dropped his head into his hands. His voice genuinely held anguish.
"Dude. I was with you for five minutes in the hallway and six girls said 'hi' to you," Sam sputtered.
"Nobody likes me!" Dean bemoaned, completely ignoring Sam.
Sam sighed. There was no helping Dean when he went into these moods. It was best just to go with it. "Dean, what's really on your mind?"
Dean stared down at the book in front of him. "Alright Sammy, I really can't deny this much longer. You're also the closest person I can trust, so I want to confess this to you first." Dean looked straight up into Sam's curious eyes. "I've come to realization with the recent events. There are certain thoughts that plague me and I can't stop lingering on it." Dean took a deep breath. "I think I'm into guys."
Sam's unimpressed face was not what Dean was expecting after this heartfelt confession. Honestly, it took a lot of courage and bravery to get those words out!
Sam just rolled his shoulders. "Really? That's it?"
"What do you mean that's it?" Dean sputtered. Sam was acting like it was nothing.
"I've always known it since you claimed kissing girls was disgusting," Sam confessed.
"Dammit Sam! That was one time! And I was seven! It was a phase!"
"You also flirt with anything that sways its hips at you. Remember that senior on the track team junior year?" Sam contemplated thoughtfully. "Come to think of it, I guess Bela wasn't really lying either."
First Victor, now Sam. What in the world was going on. "Okay, just what has Bela said about me? Where did you hear this from?" He demanded.
Sam averted Dean's gaze. "Jo told me."
"Jo?" Jo. He thought she was on his side. Why was she spreading rumors about him? What the fuck.
"Tessa told her, and Tessa heard it from Ruby, who I think heard it from Becky."
"Becky." Dean repeated with disbelief.
"Yeah, and Becky mayhavekindoftoldtheentiresc hool," Sam answered in one breath.
Dean inhaled slowly. "You're telling me, Becky outed me to the whole school, and none of you bothered to tell me!"
Sam had the decency to look sheepish.
"If she said it on air, how the hell did I miss this?" Dean was trying to keep calm, but was rather failing.
"It was the day you skipped school claiming you had menstrual cramps," Sam rolled his eyes, "and dad wasn't home to kick your ass out of bed."
"I had a fifth of Jim Beam okay? No way I was going to sit through fucking Shakespeare with little elves hammering their shit into my head." Dean gritted his teeth at that memory. "And I am going to kill Becky. Just what the hell did Bela say exactly?" Dean was going to rip out her entrails with his teeth.
Sam shrugged, "I was in gym during the broadcast so I missed most of it. The school was buzzing about it though. Probably too scared to talk about it in front of you."
"What happened exactly between you two anyway?"
"Bela that klepto messed with my baby so I dropped her. What do you think happened?"
Dean was seeing red. He remembered that night well enough. She was coming on to him the whole night whereas he really didn't feel like stripping down naked on the dance floor like she wanted. Then she had the audacity to steal his keys and take the Impala for a drive while she claimed to freshen up in the ladies room. And then she was surprised when Dean pushed her off him and left her in front of her house before ten. Dammit! And he swore she was the one to put the scratch on his baby's headlights!
"Man, she spread some pretty bad rumors though."
"Son of a bitch!" Dean was digging his nails into his palm. "Like what?"
"I think it might have involved a strap-on."
Why good afternoon my devoted listeners! Once again it's Becky, and I have some mindblowing news for you today! Of course, you're all wondering, what in the world happened during Junior Prom? Well, I can tell you upfront Ed and Harry went together. No surprise there. But Anna Milton, when are you going to stop making the rest of us jealous? And how in the world are you going to top that gorgeous dress for senior prom? The biggest surprise, okay are you ready for this? I heard from a very reputable source, that one of our biggest playboy since I don't know, one of Anna's graduated brothers...is gay! I swear! Now I'm not going to say any names, but, okay let's call him Wean Dinchester alright? From what his date told me, he needed her to be his beard, and he couldn't even get it up until he handed her a strap-on! Oh my god! It's okay Wean Dinchester, if you are gay, that's totally fine with us. You always did seem like more of a butt guy.
Dean spent the next few days working hard at the Bobby Salvage with reasons that he needed to finish up the car before the customer came back, and not because he was avoiding Cas or trying to keep a cap on his erupting anger. Once rumors were spread in high school, there was no way to reel them back in, and Sam had already vetoed Dean's proposal to shoot Bela.
Instead, he just needed to think of some nasty paycheck for the British-American kleptomaniac and there was nothing better than mulling over revenge while surrounded by wrenches and gasoline.
Coach Alastair was unhappy, but Dean claimed to have sprained his ankle, and after threatening Jo (she owed him for those rumors goddammit!) she vouched for him, and Alastair reluctantly let him off but not without choice words involving "pansy" and "six-feet-wuss."
Dean was under a seriously messed-up SUV when he heard a voice from the front, "Hello, I'm here to pick up the Mercedes."
As Dean wiped his hands on his way to the front, he was not imagining the owner of the luxury car to be in his early twenties. With tousled sandy blonde hair, an untucked gray button-up and loose-fitting jeans, he was truly the unsuspecting owner of a car whose retail price was almost two hundred thousand dollars. Well, whatever, rich people dressed poorly all the time. He saw that picture of Mark Zuckerberg attached to Sam's book report. ("A cover page, seriously? Also, only middle schoolers put pictures in their reports.")
Dean took the auto repair invoice the man handed him and confirmed Bobby's signature before flashing the guy a grin. "Oh yeah. It's all ready for you. If you'll just come around here, we just need to finish up the paperwork and then we should be all good."
The man eyed the front of Dean's coveralls which had his name stitched on the right. "Dean," he read. "You look young. Are you the one who fixed up my car?"
"Yeah." Dean replied. "Great car you've got."
"Thank you. It was a present from my dad. I intend to keep it in perfect condition."
Ah, that answered the money question. "Well, it seems that you paid in full upfront, so I think we're good here. Let me just grab the keys," Dean walked over to the rack. "If you can just sign on the bottom of the invoice and the receipt that would be great."
When Dean handed the man his keys back, the customer palmed Dean a rolled up bill, and Dean blinked in surprise. "Thank you."
"No, thank you for fixing my car. I'll be back if there are any problems," the man called out as he walked towards the entrance of his ride.
It wasn't until Dean glanced down at his hand that he realized the man had slipped him a Benjamin. Wow, what a tip. Dean glanced back at the desk and saw that the man had signed simply with initials reading, "L.S."
It was Tuesday and Dean leaned on his Impala impatiently while continuously glancing down at his watch. Sam sat on the hood with him, offering comforting words in between looking over his homework. "I'm sure Cas will be fine."
During practice the previous day, Dean was playing offense and ran straight into Cas. The younger boy, on defense, was hit across the face and fell to the floor with whimpers of pain. The team and Dean immediately rushed over, but Alastair shooed everyone away and immediately had Cas brought to the nurse. Jo dismissed the team before Dean could follow.
Cas hadn't replied to any of Dean's texts and not that Dean was concerned, he was just feeling a tad bit of guilt. There was blood on the floor where Cas had fallen.
"At any rate, Anna hasn't killed you yet?" Sam offered. "Also, you don't have practice after school today right?"
That wasn't comforting in the least. Dean grunted affirmative and scowled at the two girls who were whispering a bit too loudly near him.
"Oh my god, I heard we're getting a new transfer student from Europe. Senior boy. I wonder if he's going to be hot."
The other dumb blonde squealed, "Of course he's going to be hot! He's European!"
The first girl swooned much to the annoyance of Dean. He snapped at them, "Don't you have better things to do than fantasize about some foreign kid? You'll scare him off before he ever thinks about dating you."
The girls sent him dirty looks, but Dean brushed them off when he spotted Anna's Lexus driving up. The sun glared at him, but through the reflecting glass he could see Cas sitting beside his sister in the car. He let out a breath of air he didn't know he was holding in.
"Cas," Dean said the moment the siblings exited the car. He ignored the wary look Anna sent him, and grabbed for Cas's shoulders. "Are you okay?"
He might have touched around for injuries, poking and prodding with more concern than normally prescribed for simple friends, but Anna did not stop him, and Sam pretended to wave hi at some sophomore friends.
"I'm fine Dean," Cas reassured him. "It was just a bad nosebleed."
"No thanks to you," Anna admonished Dean before turning to her brother. "Honestly, I'm not sure if you should stay on the team. You almost gave me a heart attack when they told me to get you from the nurse. Last night was too hectic."
"Anna," Cas said fondly with exasperation. "I'm fine. And you know exactly why last night was hectic and it wasn't because of my injury." Cas turned back to Dean who still had his hands on Cas. "I'm sorry for not replying to your messages and causing you to worry. There were some family issues last night."
Dean shook his head, "No that's fine. I'm just glad you're okay. And I wasn't that worried." Dean ignored Sam's snort in favor of finally removing his hands and shoving them deep into his jeans pockets.
The four began walking into the school and unbeknownst to all, the entire time in the parking lot there had been a pair of blue-grey eyes watching them intently.
A/N: Originally this chapter was meant to be a lot longer, but rather than have you guys wait, I just cut it in half. So the other part I'm just GONNA MAKE YOU GUYS WAIT EVEN LONGER (jk jk)
Chapter 5: Dean. Stop self-inserting yourself into Castiel’s fantasies.
This was originally part of last chapter so no time has passed between the last scene of chapter 4 and this chapter. Feel free to re-read that section if you'd like to keep it fresh in your head.
The hallway was surprisingly less crowded than usual, but then again, Dean was walking down the east wing towards Cas's locker. Sam had already slipped away to his homeroom and Anna left them for her own locker near the senior bar-Dean was offered one of those prestigious fast-going lockers, but he preferred the one he had since sophomore year, near the parking lot and Sammy.
Dean was still apologizing profusely despite Cas insisting that everything was alright. "Are you sure? You're looking kind of pale and tired. Bags under your eyes."
"I stayed up late last night, but I'm feeling perfectly fine."
"No, let me carry your books. What does Ms. Eve got you reading? Tolstoy? Walt Whitman? Oh man, honestly, how are you taking AP English Lit? No, better yet, why would you do that to yourself?"
Cas grasped for the books but his hand fell onto Dean's sleeve when the taller boy lifted it out of his reach. "I like English."
Whatever Dean was about to say was interrupted by a male voice with a heavy European accent to their left. "Oh Cas, baby. You're a trainwreck. What in the world are you wearing?" There was genuine horror in the voice of the teen leaning by the lockers.
It was inaccurate to describe Cas's reaction to the speaker as just surprise. It was a combination of confusion and joy. Cas was not known to be a man of many emotions, but the smile that erupted on his face was something else.
Cas's hand slipped off Dean's sleeve. 'Balthazar' had perfected the art of fashionable yet messy coiffed hair and wore a grey v-neck, a dark blue jacket and fitting black jeans. His blue eyes were bright when he took a few large steps and then wrapped Cas up in a huge hug.
Cas shocked Dean by returning the hug tightly.
After a most awkward three seconds where Dean stood beside the hugging pair with his arms full of textbooks and confusion on his face, the new guy pulled away. With mirth, he said, "Cas. It has been too long. How have you been?"
"I've been well." Cas turned slightly. "Balthazar, this is my friend Dean. Dean, this is Balthazar, he is-"
"A close friend." Balthazar finished smoothly. He smirked in a way only obnoxious European snobs could pull off. "We're very close," he said in his heavy accent.
Dean suddenly felt annoyed. He has seen Casa Erotica: The International Edition before. It was just that the European accent never sounded so jarring to his ears.
Whoever Balthazar was, at least he'd never see him again.
Alastair walked into homeroom saying, "New student joining our ranks today." The students all looked at him attentively. As attentive as high school students could be at ass o'clock on a Tuesday morning. "Sit your perky little rears down and behave, you hormone-filled monsters. Before he enters, wise words of advice from your experienced authority figure-never trust a man wearing a v-neck." He called towards the open door, "Alright new kid. You have permission to enter the gate to your new hell."
(Dean really wondered how Coach Alastair managed to stay working in the education system despite him obviously serving the devil. Then again, that time he was sent to Principal Lilith's office after setting up a betting pool and battle royale for the pre-dissection frogs in the science lab, Dean came face to face with the devil's first child herself. He swore she was licking blood from a knife, because strawberries did not drip juice of that color. He refused the fruit she offered him.)
Balthazar walked in through the door like he was positively delighted to be there. With the smirk on his face, he probably did. Freak.
Immediately, whispers began.
Dean cracked a knuckle when he heard Bela suck in her breathe in surprise. "Lisa!" She hissed through her dirty, lying teeth. "Oh my god. His jacket. It's from Burberry's new fall collection."
Lisa whipped her head in surprise. "That's a fifteen hundred dollar jacket!" she whispered back.
Bela smiled. "Guess I found my prom date," and in a slightly louder voice, "hopefully better than my last one." Some of the people sitting around her snickered.
Dean never felt the urge to hit a woman, but he was sorely tempted.
Alastair scoffed at the room. "Shut your yapping. New guy, introduce yourself. Don't expect me to hold your hand for you."
Balthazar ignored the jest and stood in front of the class radiating confidence. "Hello, friends. Name's Balthazar. I just moved here from England. Pleasure to meet you," he grinned. "I'm so excited for our year together."
The whispers only increased incessantly at the sound of his clearly foreign accent.
Alastair rolled his eyes. "Grab a seat, any seat. Don't get anyone pregnant and we're good. Rest of you, no more announcements, so shut your mouths and wait until classes begin." He turned to his newspaper and promptly zoned out the students.
Balthazar, rather than walk towards the seats Bela and other girls so graciously offered him, swaggered down Dean's aisle. He stopped before Anna, reached for her hand, and pressed it to his lips. Anna, to the surprise of the class, let out a soft laugh before standing up and pulling him into a hug.
"Balthazar, you joker." She swatted his arm. "What are you doing here? Last night you said you weren't getting here until later this month."
"Well, I wanted to surprise you all and I couldn't resist."
Anna sat back down in her seat while Balthazar propped himself onto her desk and to everybody's surprise, she didn't shove him off. The last time and only time someone did that, he ended up sitting in the floor faster than he could extend the junior prom proposal. (It was Ed. Anna said no.)
"You certainly caught us all by surprise. Dad's been using the guest room as his second office, so he's clearing that room back out for you."
"Aw, no you don't have to do that." With what appeared to be a sideways glance towards Dean, he continued. "Honestly, I don't think Cas would mind me sleeping in his room with him."
Dean swallowed reflexively. He had no idea what was running through his mind right now.
Balthazar turned to Dean with recognition in his eyes. "Oh, we meet again. Cas's friend." He had a smile that seemed to convey traces of sarcasm. Or it could be the accent. Dean was betting on the accent because Sammy would disapprove of him punching out someone this early in the school year.
Dean gave them the double-take like he was surprised at the attention on him and hadn't been listening in the entire time. "Yeah, we met in the hallway. Dean Winchester. What brings you to the states?"
Balthazar shrugged. "Thought I'd get a change of scenery. Anna's family said their house was always open to me." At Dean's doubtful look, he grinned. "Like I've said. We're close. What about you? How do you know Cas?"
"Cas is on the basketball team. He's still not very used to high school life, so I help him around."
Victor snickered from the side. "Very helpful, indeed. Especially when Castiel needs assistance in the locker room."
He shut up when three hard, stony stares fixated on him.
Victor coughed and turned to talk back to Ash who was just watching with a bemused look on his face. Dean scowled. There was no such thing as loyalty nowadays.
There was tension in the room that Balthazar cut smoothly when he extended a hand towards Dean. "No matter, any friend of Cas's is a friend of mine."
Dean looked at the hand warily because he held his close friends to high regards, and Balthazar looked like he would rather throw Dean under a bus. But Dean took the handshake because Anna was watching closely, and he couldn't resist wondering exactly how close Balthazar was to that family.
Balthazar's tighter-than-necessary grip confirmed Dean's suspicion that the new student had more intentions than simple camaraderie. Dean responded by strengthening the grip and both boys steadily stared at each other until Anna coughed to signal that they were just bordering on the time frame for inappropriate handshakes.
They both withdrew their hands hastily. Balthazar said with a sly smile, "Of course, Cas has never been too good at judging who is good for him. Luckily he's got me to help. You'd agree that there are some people who just wants to take advantage of a pretty thing like him."
Dean narrowed his eyes. "I'm quite sure Cas can tell for himself."
"Ah yes, but Cas trusts me the most," Balthazar said just as the bells rang to signal the beginning of the first class. "Does he not, Anna?"
Anna sighed, "Yes, yes. He loves you the most too. Now stop messing around and let me see your schedule. You're gonna get lost." She tugged his new schedule out of his hand and dragged him out of the room.
Dean felt his stomach turn and convinced himself that in no way was he envious of the ease in which Anna and Cas reacted to Balthazar. Instead, he had half a mind to tell Sam to stop hoarding the new cereal because the year old box of Cheerios wasn't doing so well for him. Breakfast is so important.
Ash just yawned as he watched them leave. He had class next door and loved that he could take his time. He heaved himself from the seat and commented offhandedly, "It seems Castiel is really drawn towards cocky assholes."
Dean grumbled, "You'd think there would be some sort of therapy for that." And then he stopped right before stepping into the hallway. "Wait! Did you just imply that I was a cocky asshole?"
Ash smirked. "Never said anything about you, Dean. Stop self-inserting yourself into Castiel's fantasies."
Lunch time was a mild affair if one discounted Dean from the equation.
"What are you looking at, Sam?" Ash asked absentmindedly as he browsed the internet using his phone.
"Practice interview questions," Sam replied quickly with a nervous smile. In fact, his whole person screamed anxiety.
Dean rolled his eyes. "You've been freaking out over that for forever. Exactly when-" he was interrupted by his phone ringing out again. He pulled it out and scowled. "Ash! I swear to god, stop sending me pictures of cats. Almost got my phone taken away today because it kept ringing."
Ash grinned. "Just mute your phone." Dean started to, but Ash broke out into laughter, "Oh wait! Hold it, sending you another good one." Dean growled, turned off his phone entirely and shoved it into the bottom of his bag.
Victor walked over to them and slammed his lunch tray onto the table hard enough that his plate of mysterious school lasagna jumped. "If I hear one more girl talk about Balthazar and his smooth accent I'm going to poison myself."
Dean eyed the lasagna. "Dude, I think you're already doing that." He took a huge bite of his egg salad sandwich.
Victor snorted. "Don't tell me you're not annoyed."
Dean paused mid-chew and showed the table his widest smile so his mouthful of sandwich was gleefully greeting the table. "Not at all," he replied.
"Total stud, as always." Ash drawled when Sam scowled and shoved a disgusted elbow at Dean. "No wonder you don't feel threatened by this new guy." Ash traded looks with Victor, and then he held up two fingers. Victor nodded.
Sam snorted quietly and began to unwrap his sandwich from the plastic wrap. "Really, Dean? You couldn't make a messier sandwich? Lucky I got a change of clothes today," he muttered.
Dean was about to make a comment about his younger brother being a megalomaniac clean freak but he was distracted by the pair walking towards them. Specifically, Balthazar and Cas, with Balthazar's right arm casually draped over Cas's shoulder and Cas totally at ease, even leaning in slightly to the taller boy.
"We meet again, Dean," Balthazar greeted them. "Enjoying lunch?"
Dean grunted, and Ash, on behalf of the tense table, saved the day. "Slow lunch period, man. Balthazar, right? Name's Ash. That's Victor. And this is Sam."
Cas spoke up, "Sam's been tutoring me in mathematics."
"Ah, you must be Dean's younger brother then. I'm Balthazar." Sam nodded and offered his hand. Balthazar shook it with far less malice than he treated Dean's hand. "Thank you for helping Cas." He pulled his hand back and returned it to Cas's shoulder.
"No, it's no big deal. Are you the new student everyone's been buzzing about?"
Balthazar laughed. "Just about." He hugged Cas a bit closer to his chest. "Cas has been showing me around campus and introducing me to a few of his friends. Quite an attractive school, I'd say." Cas seemed to shoot him a look and Balthazar smoothed a hand over Cas's back. "Nobody as beautiful as you of course, sweetheart."
Cas just shook his head. He addressed the table, "I'm sorry for Balthazar's behavior."
Balthazar waved a hand. "Nothing to apologize for, Cas. Come on, you said Anna wanted to show me the student lounge?" Cas nodded, and with a few final words, they began to walk off. Balthazar's arm was still firmly over Cas's shoulder, and just before they fully departed, Balthazar turned his head to give Dean a full-blown smirk.
"Wow, I think he just declared war," Victor offered.
Ash tapped on the table. "No, I'm pretty sure he's already won."
Sam just furrowed his brows. "What are you guys talking about? Was that guy Castiel's boyfriend?"
Victor explained to Sam with a grin on his face, "Your big brother's feeling a bit butthurt because Balthazar stole Castiel from right under him and is parading him around the school." Victor was joking, but he had no idea how close he was to the truth.
Ash added, "From the way Balthazar acts with Anna, he's really tight with the family too if he's staying at their house."
Dean let out a low growl and ignored Sam's knowing glance. "I just don't like this, alright? Cas is a friend of mine, if I let him be with an asshole, it makes me a shitty friend."
"Dean's got a point. I mean, Balthazar seems like a player," Sam paused. "Okay, that might not help you there, Dean, but Cas never openly said that he's dating Balthazar right? Maybe they're not actually dating yet, and we can get Cas back." Sam added with a grin, "With you."
"That could be possible," Victor mused. "You're only losing by, the accent."
"The money." Ash chimed in.
"And the height," Sam added.
"And family connections."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence. I wonder just how I managed to end up with such great friends like you guys." Dean said dryly. "If this was anyone else, and Cas was happy, I'd just let it go. But god, he is such an asshole. And that freaking accent. I swear if any of you mention that accent again-"
Victor coughed loudly and Ash groaned. He slid a twenty across the table and Victor palmed it with a giant smile on his face. "Don't feel threatened, huh?"
"Shut up!" Dean glared. "That guy is parading around the school like he's a godsend and trying to sound all sophisticated because he drinks tea and has the Queen on his money and rides a Vespa and tries to manipulate us all with his British accent," Dean spat out.
"Uh, Dean," Sam interrupted. "I'm pretty sure he's French."
Victor said with sadistic glee, "Also pretty sure he's the owner of the Bentley in the parking lot."
With friends like these, Dean didn't need enemies.
School ended with students racing out of the building, eager to leave their torture institution for another day until they returned. Dean tossed his bag into the backseat and waited by his car impatiently for Sam, wondering exactly where his younger brother was. Perhaps Sam had a debate meeting and forgot Dean didn't have basketball practice today.
"Hello Dean," Cas spoke from his side. Dean whipped around because he had no idea when Cas showed up and was once again, too close in his personal space. Dean had gotten used to it by now though.
"Oh, hey Cas. Glad not to have practice today?"
Cas let out a small smile. "It isn't so bad." He paused slightly, "I enjoy spending time with you. Practice passes a lot quicker than I expect it to."
"Nothing like having me to save the day." Dean grinned, "I'm Batman!"
Cas had the little furrow in his brows that Dean had come to associate with his incomprehension of all things essential to human living.
"Really? Batman? The Joker? What about Marvel? Spider-man?"
Cas shook his head to everything.
Dean sighed, "I have much to teach you."
"I look forward to it," Cas said entirely serious. It made Dean feel happy for reasons he could not offer.
Dean pushed himself off the hood of the Impala. "Man, I have no idea where Sam is. He's probably in debate and forgot I didn't have practice." He slid into the driver's seat. "Need a lift? Going anywhere?"
Cas shook his head. "I don't have anything planned for this afternoon. I'm just waiting for Anna to drive me home."
Dean turned the key and his car engine roared to life. To Cas and anybody else, it sounded like normal, but Dean immediately became distraught. "Oh no! Baby! What's wrong?" He got out of the car quickly and lifted up the hood. "You're not purring as smooth as usual." With obviously skilled eyes, he began the diagnosis.
Cas was surprised. "You know how to fix cars?"
"Yeah," Dean replied, a bit distracted because his baby was injured somewhere. "Been around cars forever. Dad claims my first word was 'wrench' or something. I work at a family friend's garage."
"That is very amazing," Cas confessed. "I would like to know how to fix up cars."
"Yeah? For real?" Dean asked. "Sammy hates it when I talk about it with him."
"I like learning new things."
"Alright this doesn't look bad, but I think I'll take it to the shop just for touch ups. Beats SAT II physics review anyway." Dean pulled his head away from under the hood. "If you actually want to learn I can teach you."
"Yes," Cas confirmed. "I'd really like that."
Dean was about to tell him to stop by on Saturday instead of the regular tutoring session (seriously, automotives trump calculus, there's no competition, shut up Sam) when he spotted Anna walking towards them. Like an annoying mosquito who couldn't be swatted away, Balthazar was buzzing around her. Spontaneously, he had a thought. "You know what? Wanna go today? No practice, and I'm heading there anyway. I'll show you around.
Cas thought about it. "Are you sure? I don't want to interrupt the business."
"No, it's fine. Tuesdays are usually slow. And Bobby, he's the owner, is probably already back in his house. He and his weirdass neighbor celebrate Tequila Tuesday. And then Scotch Saturday." Dean could see Anna coming closer now.
"Only if you're sure..." Cas trailed off.
"Yeah, definitely. Hop in." Dean pushed open the door for Cas and waited until Cas closed the door to pull away. Quickly. Away from Balthazar. "Just go text Anna and say you're with me and I'll take you home later."
It took a lot of maturity and self-control to resist saluting Balthazar with the middle finger as they drove off leaving Anna and Balthazar confused in the parking lot.
Sam could barely sit through physics without bouncing out of his seat from a combination of both excitement and anxiety. Once again Mr. Fitzgerald IV ("Seriously guys, call me Garth") droned on and on about concepts that need not be explained with a sock puppet but was done so anyway. When the end bell finally rang, Sam shot out of his seat and through the door.
Quickly (but carefully so not to wrinkle it) grabbing his clothes from his locker, Sam slipped into the bathroom to change. With deft hands, he buttoned up the shirt and made sure everything was in order. He just could not believe the interview was today. He had his resume in his bag, reviewed all possible interview questions at least two times, and still had forty-five minutes to get to Rogers & Stark.
It was a beautiful Tuesday and everything would be perfect.
With one last look in the mirror to make sure his hair and sideburns were in order, Sam stepped out into the parking lot to find Dean. After two quick rounds through the entire lot, Sam began to panic.
Where was Dean? He needed Dean to drive him, there was no way Dean would forget. No definitely. No way. Dean probably forgot there wasn't basketball practice and went to the gym. He'll come out of the building any minute. Yes. Sam needed to calm down. It wouldn't bode well if he showed up to the interview all sweaty. He'd call instead.
It went straight to voicemail.
Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours and still Dean didn't show up. Sam began breathing deeply. Maybe he had misheard Dean and there was practice. If anything, Dean would definitely leave practice early for Sam. This was important.
With that thought firmly in Sam's head, he walked briskly through the halls, now void of students except for those staying behind for clubs. Sam felt something heavy drop into his stomach as he approached the gym and didn't hear the usual sound of bouncing balls and shouting. Maybe they were having a minor break. Or Coach Alastair was giving them a speech so the team was being quiet.
But when Sam pushed open the door for the gym, he was greeted with a completely empty gym. The feeling of dread only increased. He kept trying to reach Dean but the calls never got through.
Sam returned to the parking lot and by then, most of the cars were gone. He swallowed hard, he felt like an idiot. Even with all the preparation he did, he was going to miss the interview. He could call a cab, but Rogers & Stark was in the next city over and he didn't have enough cash on hand.
Sam felt his eyes prickle but before he could truly lose all dignity, he heard a vaguely familiar voice call out, "Sam? Are you okay?"
It was Ruby. He really didn't want to deal with her. She had laid off her advances after the first week of the cold shoulder (Dean's advice) but she still occasionally sat a bit too close and shot him flirty smiles. He tried to ignore her.
"Why are you still here?"
Sam swallowed. Panicking internally wasn't helping. Maybe actually talking to someone would make time go faster and Dean would magically show up. "I'm waiting for Dean. He's supposed to take me somewhere but he's probably running late. Maybe a teacher held him up."
Ruby frowned. "Are you sure? I don't see the Impala."
Sam felt a wave of cold air wash over him. He had walked thought the parking lot twice and had not seen the Impala either. Did Dean really leave him?
"Listen Sam, if you really need a ride, I can take you."
"Really?" Sam asked eagerly before he realized it was Ruby he was talking to. She ate underclassmen for breakfast. You don't want to owe Ruby anything, Sam. He could hear Dean's voice echoing in his mind. But then again, Dean was not here. And she was. "I mean-"
"No Sam, it's fine. I wouldn't have offered if I have no intention of going through with it. Come on. You look like you're about to have a panic attack." Ruby led Sam to her black Toyota Camry and they both slid into the seats. "So, where to?" She asked as she pulled out of the parking lot.
"Rogers & Stark law firm," Sam blurted. "It's in-"
Ruby whistled. "I know where that is. Got an interview or something?" She immediately took a right because it would take them to the highway faster.
"Yeah, for the summer internship."
"That's a great firm and very competitive. I know a lot of seniors who applied and didn't even get past the first round. Congratulations, Sam." Her smile at him was genuine. "When's the interview?"
"Four-thirty," Sam answered tersely. And then he exhaled slowly. As long as the journey was smooth, he could still make it.
"Let's make sure you get there on time then," Ruby said before stepping down on the gas pedal harder.
Sam sat tensely as they drove, but he slowly began to relax. He had been wrong about Ruby, assuming the worse when all she has done is help him. "Thank you Ruby," he said sincerely. "You didn't have to do this for me, but you did. Thank you."
"Sam," Ruby began. "It's fine."
"No, it isn't. I'm sorry I was rude when you've only been friendly to me."
Ruby just laughed. "Friendly. If you say so, Sam. Well as a friend, let me tell you that you look positively gorgeous in that shirt."
Sam joined her in laughing. There was something about Ruby that just made him feel like everything was going to be okay. Like he could take it easy for once.
And then both of them stopped their chuckles when her car stopped moving. They had just hit the highway, but now they were at a dead stop. It was a huge traffic jam, and Sam could not even see where the cars ended. Everything was backed up.
"Oh no," Ruby whispered. "This isn't good."
It was four PM and Sam was stuck on the highway. There was no alternate route and more cars kept driving up behind them.
"What in the world is going on?" Ruby asked as she started checking on her smartphone. She made a small noise. "Sam. There's a six-car pileup ahead of us. It's going to take at least an hour to clear out."
Of course this wouldn't have worked out. Why did he even delude himself? "Goddammit!"
"Can you call the firm? Tell them you're going to be late?"
Sam shook his head, "They have so many applicants they wouldn't care. Showing up late will only indicate that I'm not serious about the internship. There's no point." He pressed his forehead to the dash. He felt like he was going to be sick.
"Sam, I'm so sorry." Her voice was apologetic. "I know what this meant to you."
He lifted his head up. "No, Ruby. Don't apologize. This wasn't your fault. You didn't even have to do this for me." He looked out the window at the sea of cars. "Instead I've got you trapped in here." He sighed. "I raised my hopes so high. I probably wouldn't even have gotten selected anyway." He clenched his fist tightly on his lap.
Ruby placed a comforting hand over his. "Don't take it so hard Sam. You still have two more years, and your application will only get better. They'll definitely take you next year."
Sam smiled softly at her. "Thanks, Ruby. Again, I'm sorry for dragging you into this."
Ruby grinned, "Well, since we're heading into the city anyway, as a thank you, you can treat me to Old Bay french fries from that famous crab shack on the boardwalk."
"Yeah, I can do that," Sam agreed. It hurt knowing his dream of the internship was going up in smoke, but he still owed Ruby for helping him.
"Here Sam, give me your phone." Ruby grabbed for it and began pressing on the keypad. "I'm inputting my number. Next time you need a ride, just give me a call. I promise I'll show up if I'm not already busy."
"Thank you. Really." Sam loosened his tie before pulling it off completely and shoving it into his bag. The tie was his dad's and it reminded him of his dad's words before leaving that summer and right after he was greeted with Sam's new growth spurt. You're really growing up fast, son.
He was growing up fast, but time was moving even faster. It seemed like he would forever be chasing the clock.
Ruby was still holding his phone. He asked, "Do I have any missed calls?"
"No," She passed his cell back to him. "Why? Are you waiting for someone?"
"No," he lied. "Just wondering."
Dean never ended up calling him back.
Chapter 6: You know how Gabriel has a life-sized poster of Tom Hiddleston on his wall?
We're super super sorry for the long hiatus! Erica and I were busy with college and it's winter break right now, so I'm hoping I can blitz off a few chapters over the next few weeks. Of course, this also means that most likely we'll be going on another hiatus when spring semester starts. But our entire story is planned out so we won't be abandoning it at any point! (Or at least, Erica won't let me abandon it.)
This chapter is little shorter than usual because we figured you have all waited long enough, but I promise another chapter will be up soon!
Ruby dropped Sam off at his house just as the sun was setting down, a fiery orange blazing across the sky. Despite Sam's efforts to amicably share a meal with Ruby to thank her for playing chauffeur, his tight smiles and stunted attempts of making conversation soured the atmosphere. Ruby just shook her head and flagged down a waiter.
As Sam got out of her car, she called out through the window, "Hey Sam, don't be too down alright? Things will look up. Call me if you need help again, okay?"
Sam nodded. "Thanks."
Ruby smiled, one hand curled around the wheel, the other inside her bag of fries. Sam had resisted, and continued resisting the urge to tell her not to eat and drive at the same time. "See ya, Sam." And she drove off, leaving Sam standing before his own house with trepidation.
His eyes drifted to the Impala parked and Sam swallowed, quashing all the internal panic. If the Impala was safely home, then Dean must be alright. Sam swallowed, anger slowly seeping over the dread. If Dean was home, then he must have just forgotten about Sam. That was the one thing Sam did not want to believe.
Sam took a deep breath, and unlocked the front door.
Dean was whistling at the kitchen table, studying for the SAT II, with an almost idiotic grin on his face. Normally it would make Sam happy that Dean was studious all on his own, but Dean didn't seem sorry at all. Sam grew angry.
He slammed the door shut, and Dean glanced up. "Hey Sammy, you got dinner yet?" Dean looked at him and his face turned perplexed. "Hey, you alright? You look a little upset."
"A little? A little upset?" Sam clenched his fist. "Do you know what you did? At all? Or maybe it was what you didn't do?" He shouted.
Dean got up, confusion all over his face. "Sam, what's wrong?" He had no idea. Dean had no idea.
"Y-you don't even realize!" Sam was trembling in anger. His fists clenched and Sam was glad he was not holding anything in his hands, for he would have thrown it.
"What should I be realizing, Sam!" Dean raised his voice in return. Then he stopped moving, stared at Sam, his eyes flickering from Sam's face to his clothes and back. Sam could see the emotions running through Dean's eyes. Confusion, anger, realization, guilt. "The interview," Dean whispered.
"Yes, Dean. The interview. My interview. The one thing I asked of you." Sam had difficulty getting the words out. Everything he had worked for was ruined. Dean didn't even realize its importance. Dean never realized. That was his problem. There are some things that matter more than most, and Dean could never see that.
"But you never asked me," Dean snapped. "Sammy, I'm here for you. Always, but you can't just expect me to remember everything. I have a lot of stuff going on too."
"Where were you then? What happened?" Sam demanded. Dean had a lot on his plate, but so did Sam. Dean didn't see it. He didn't know that Sam was running around trying to find internships, scholarships, grants, all so he could make it easier for their dad. For Dean.
"I-I don't know alright! I just," Dean swallowed and he felt the fire within him die. "I forgot."
"You forgot," Sam breathed out in disbelief. This wasn't the first time Dean had forgotten him. He shouldn't be surprised at this point, and he hated himself for being so. "You couldn't even remember this one thing. You know how much it meant to me!"
"I know. I know." Dean repeated and hung his head. "Listen, I don't know what happened. I thought you had Debate, and then the car was sounding weird so I took her to Bobby's with Cas. I just really thought the interview was at another date."
Sam scoffed. "Do you even hear yourself? I rank below your car." And not just that, Sam wasn't blind. He could see Dean's attraction to Cas.
"No! Sam," Dean walked over to Sam and grabbed his shoulders. "Sammy. Never, you hear me? Never. Listen, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to leave you. I promise it won't happen again."
Sam pulled away from Dean. "That's what you always say, Dean. How can I believe you anymore?"
Dean took a step back, his own eyes flashing with hurt. "Sam, I'm sorry, I truly am." Dean's voice wavered. "I am always ready to help you, you're my baby brother." His voice was pleading. "Next time you want something, just ask me alright? Make sure I know what you want."
Sam turned for his room. Right before he closed his door, he muttered. "I don't want anything from you, Dean. Not anymore."
The trip to Bobby's was completely uneventful but Dean could not explain the everlasting grin that tugged at the corners of his lips. Cas was predictably clueless about everything in the auto shop, but was intuitive and genuinely curious. Dean settled Cas with a mug of the sludge of coffee from Bobby's rickety machine in the back and began working on his baby, occasionally fielding questions from the curious junior.
Cas had, at one moment, appeared by his side, peering under the hood with the curiosity of a child and his newfound toy, and it took Dean much self-restraint to not let the warmth of Cas's body wash over him. Cas moved away soon and returned to the wooden stool with a faint smile to the disappointment of Dean.
The pleasant afternoon passed quickly, and Dean was upset he finished so early. The Impala's engines purred smoothly again and he could only clean the windshield so many times before it became suspicious.
"Well, I should get going," Dean announced, standing up and stretching about.
Cas, as per usual, stared; luckily Dean had grown to not let it bother him. "I should be getting home soon too. Thank you for bringing me, I truly enjoyed my time here."
Dean chuckled, "Well, glad it wasn't a bore. Come on then, let me lock up and I'll give you a ride back."
Cas shook his head, "That won't be necessary. I live fairly close by and I would enjoy the short walk back." Cas took his mug and rinsed it in the small kitchenette adjoined to the garage.
Dean ignored the lurking disappointment in him. "You sure? It wouldn't be any trouble."
"Yes," Cas stated firmly. "I wouldn't want to take up any more time from your studying. Your exam is this Saturday, is it not?"
Dean started. Right. "Oh yeah. I'm working on that." He was. Maybe at a snail's pace, three pages per day, but progress was progress.
"You're taking it for math and physics, so it shouldn't really be a problem for you, but I still wish you the best of luck," Cas said earnestly. And then he bit his lip as if he wanted to say more. "I also really did enjoy watching you work on the car. It was relaxing and I learned a lot."
Dean flushed. "Well, I don't hear that too often," he chuckled nervously.
"Perhaps we can do it another time?"
"Of course!" Dean replied maybe a bit too eagerly, but Cas didn't notice or say anything. He just smiled again, bid his farewell and began walking down the road.
Dean grinned and slid into the seat of the Impala. He whistled the entire drive and his good mood followed him home where he pulled out the SAT II prep books all on his own. In the quick hour, he made more progress than he did in the past week. It was fascinating how Cas could distract him, yet give him focus with only a few words.
Dean was broken out of his reverie with a slam of the door. He looked up to see his younger brother. "Hey Sammy, you got dinner yet?" He was thinking about maybe chicken and mushroom fettuccine with a creamy lemon sauce. But Sam's agitated face caught his attention. "Hey, you alright? You look a little upset."
He had no idea what happened, but Sam began yelling at him. His words stung, and Dean still had no clue. Was Sam mad that he left him at Debate? Sam was usually able to catch a ride with someone from the team. That couldn't have been it. The happy feeling in him deflated. His younger brother yelling at him was not something that made him feel good. And Dean couldn't figure it out and automatically felt the need to be defensive. "What should I be realizing, Sam?" Internally, he winced. His voice was louder than he intended.
Dean took a double-take. Sam's clothes were different than this afternoon. He was dressed more smart, in the shirt and pants he was ironing the other day. No, it couldn't have been. "The interview," he said softly. No.
"Yes, Dean. The interview. My interview. The one thing I asked of you." Sammy looked so angry. So very angry.
Dean couldn't help it. Sam's accusation struck hard. He wanted to say how sorry he was, he wanted to apologize and drain the anger from Sammy's face. But the words that came out of his mouth weren't the right ones. The moment they left his mouth, Dean wanted to take it back, but Sam couldn't read his mind. He just got more angry.
Dean's anger deflated as soon as it appeared. He was at fault. This interview was so important to Sam, and he couldn't even keep a simple date in his head. But unlike all the other times, Sam wouldn't accept his apology, however sincere it was. But Sam wasn't to blame. He's right, this wasn't the first occurrence. He's like the child who cried wolf one too many times.
Sam disappearing into his own room released a floodgate of emotions for Dean. Wrought with guilt and contempt and hate for himself, Dean fought back the angry tears. This wasn't something he could fix. He only hoped that with time Sam would forgive him.
Dean dove back into the studying with a ferocity he hadn't known was in him. Sam would want him to be productive, and he wasn't disappointing Sam anymore tonight.
Many hours passed in complete silence. Sam worked in his own room, leaving only to use the bathroom and never once glanced towards Dean in the kitchen. Dean stayed working at the table, making no effort to reach out towards Sam because he knew Sam better than anybody. Speaking to him now would only fan the flames higher.
Later that night, Dean, who hadn't eaten, began to feel pangs of hunger but he persisted in ignoring them. He had no appetite. It didn't feel right to be eating at the table alone.
Sam walked into the kitchen soon, ignoring Dean completely to the dismay of his older brother. He pulled out two slices of bread and a few eggs, and Dean winced internally. He wanted to get up and help, but his help wasn't wanted. And now, Dean would have done anything Sam asked. If Sam wanted him to leave the room, he would get up and walk out.
Dean just swallowed and turned his focus back to his books, but it wasn't long before a scent of burnt food wafted near him. A small noise of frustration came from Sam, and Dean wordlessly got up.
Sam glared at him, but Dean waited patiently by the frying pan until Sam relented and handed him the spatula. Dean resisted a small smile because Sam standing before the stove was always a petulant child, no matter how big he got.
With experienced movements, Dean cleared the pan and the toaster of burnt bread. Sam breathed a heavy, annoyed sigh and sat down at the table. Dean sent him a quick smile but Sam did not return it. Dean quickly turned his attention to the fridge, pulling out vegetables and chicken. It wasn't long before the delicious smell of stir-fry filled the room. Heaping a large portion for Sam, Dean placed it before his younger brother and then grabbed a small bowl for himself.
Sam stared at him stonily before he gave a reluctant "thanks." He quickly began shoving the food into his mouth and when he finished, briskly walked back to his room, leaving Dean at the table.
They hadn't traded any more words and the silence was deafening.
The following morning, Dean woke up with the intention of making breakfast-it was Sam's favorite meal-before driving to school, but instead found on the table a note angrily written by Sam with one word: Bus.
It was a chilly morning and Sam regretted leaving the house so early. He had overestimated the time it took to walk to the station, as well as the frequency of the bus. It was still October and the cold weather hadn't settled in for good, but standing a good thirty minutes with the wind pounding at his sides would send the cold rushing through his body.
It had been a long time since he didn't have Dean drive him to school and Sam was beginning to contemplate the possibility that the bus no longer went this route when Anna drove up with Cas in the passenger seat. "Hey Sam, you waiting for the bus for school?"
"Y-yeah." Alright, maybe he was a bit colder than he'd admit. It was all Dean's fault. Sam avoided looking at Cas.
"Well, hop on in. I'll take you," Anna insisted.
"Thanks Anna." Sam climbed into her back seat with mild difficulty. She had a nice car, but he had a big body.
Sam wondered if Dean had put her up to this until she asked, "So where's Dean and the Impala?"
Sam fidgeted in his seat and wondered exactly how much he should say. This wasn't something Anna should be concerned about, and thinking about it would make him angrier. "It's a long story. I just thought I'd take the bus today."
Anna hummed in acknowledgement and tapped her fingers on the wheel as they waited for the light at the intersection. They would be arriving at the school soon.
Cas asked with a curious voice, "How was your interview, Sam?"
Sam tried, he really tried to curb his anger, but even Cas remembered, someone who was a complete stranger two months ago, and Dean couldn't. Of course, it didn't help that Cas was the one Dean took with him to Bobby's.
"Sam, are you alright?" Anna asked with concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Sam sighed tirelessly. "Thanks for asking, Cas, but I didn't end up making it to the interview."
Anna and Cas traded surprised looks just as they arrived at the school. Sam knew he should explain but he's never been one to air his dirty laundry.
To be vague but not entirely obscure, right before climbing out of the car, Sam said with more heat than intended, "Dean forgot to take me because of his stupid mancrush. Thanks for the ride, Anna. I'll see you guys later." And he left briskly and failed to see Cas's look of confusion.
Castiel turned a questioning gaze towards Anna and frowned. "Anna," he said with all seriousness. "What is a mancrush?"
Anna choked on a suppressed laughed. "Oh, Cas." How could she put it into terms he would understand? "You know how Gabriel has a life-sized poster of Tom Hiddleston on his wall? That's it."
Castiel did not fully understand what had happened that morning, but he knew something was truly wrong when he saw Dean eating alone at the table during lunch. He told Anna he was going to talk to Dean, and slipped away from under the tree where he ate with his sister.
"Hello Dean," he greeted, hoping he wasn't distracting the other boy, and he was in fact alone not by choice. "Mind if I sit down?"
Dean looked up from stabbing his pasta. "Oh, hey Cas. Yeah, go ahead." He pulled his book bag away to clear off the table. "What's up?"
"I wanted to make sure you were alright," Cas said solemnly, staring at the ruined mess of pasta on Dean's plate. "Sam seems upset with you."
"You know about that?" Dean smiled wryly.
"Anna saw Sam at the bus stop and drove him to school this morning." Cas glanced towards Anna, who was laughing with her friends.
Dean sighed. "Well, tell Anna I said thanks. Don't worry, we'll be alright soon."
Cas watched Dean's throat closely and saw that nervous swallow. "It hurts a lot sometimes," he began, almost offhandedly. "When someone you love forgets you." Cas saw Dean's grip on the fork tighten. "But in the end, it'll be okay. My father forgot me in the park one day. He almost took home another family's child." Cas quirked an odd smile. "It's still a funny story to tell during holidays."
Dean chuckled. "I can imagine that. You know, Cas. For a kid who's so clueless about everything, you're actually pretty perceptive."
With a straight face, Cas remarked, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Dean shook his head with a grin. He pushed a container towards Cas. "Feeling hungry?" Cas took the tupperware curiously and it revealed an very nicely assorted salad. "Made it this morning but I'm not exactly feeling it today. And, well, best not let it go to waste."
Cas knew exactly who the salad was for and he shot Dean a look. But he still took the container. "Thank you." They sat together silently, and Cas pondered on something that had bothered him since the morning. "Dean?"
"Yeah?" Dean was playing with his lunch, pushing tomatoes and pasta around like the art in the gallery of some avant-garde artist Baltazar had taken Cas to.
"I have a feeling Sam meant it as a bad thing, but I don't think it is something that should bother you so much."
"Uh, what?" Dean looked a bit thrown back.
Balthazar always laughed at Cas, saying he was unclear when he spoke. He should clarify. "Your mancrush." Dean blinked. Then started choking. Cas immediately handed Dean his water-choking on food could be dangerous.
When Dean finally settled down, Cas continued. "I understand your feelings."
Dean stuttered, "Y-you do?" His eyes seemed to glimmer with something. Cas wondered if it was in hope that Cas would understand him.
"Yes." Cas thought back to the pictures of his family on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, and of the picture he had of himself and Balthazar together last time they were together in Paris. A single subject would serve as a better example than his whole family. "I also have a mancrush on Balthazar."
Dean froze. Cas reached out, wanting to explain that it was okay. This was something common that they shared, but Dean appeared to want to pull away.
Dean took a deep breath, and smiled tightly. "That, that's great, Cas. I'm happy for you."
Cas smiled reassuringly. It was good to know Dean understood what he was saying. In an attempt at a joke, he said, "Thank you. I should be returning to Anna now before she tells Balthazar that you've kidnapped me."
Dean laughed lightly and it sounded different from his usual laughs. Perhaps his joke wasn't that funny? "I'll see you at practice, Dean."
"Yeah, sure." Dean mumbled and ducked his head.
Cas returned to Anna, and she gave a funny look at the salad in his hand. "Is that Dean's?"
"Yes." Knowing Dean's culinary skills, it would be a very delicious salad too. Balthazar peered at it and reached for one of the cherry tomatoes but Cas pulled it away and covered it with the lid. "My next class shares the same room as Sam's following class. I plan on giving it to him so he won't have to miss lunch."
Balthazar looked at Anna and then back at him. He said gently, "You're a good friend to the Winchester brothers, aren't you?"
Cas nodded, "They have been very kind to me as well. I do not want them to be at odds any more than I want you and Anna to be angry with each other."
"Oh, Cas, honey. You are remarkable, you know that?" Balthazar marveled, petting Cas on the head, not acknowledging Cas's attempt to lean away.
Neither of them noticed Dean watching with a look of defeat in his eyes.
Chapter 7: Meowwwww
School never seemed so unbearable. Despite the difference in class levels, Sam and Dean would usually spot each other in the hallways or meet up at their lockers throughout the day, but it wasn’t too hard to deduce that Sam was avoiding him.
Ash and Victor seemed to sense the tension in the air and steered clear of Dean’s way as well, and even Anna kept shooting him these undecipherable looks.
He wondered if it was because Cas told her what a simpering lovesick fool he was. Or perhaps it was Balthazar who pointed it out to Cas and Cas was too kind to continue leading Dean on. Perhaps they were all laughing at him behind his back. Dean clenched his fists underneath the table, he didn’t think Cas or Anna were the type of people to do that, but Balthazar seemed to bring out sides of them that they didn’t show to the school with ease.
It fucking hurt to know that without Sam, Dean really didn’t have anyone. He had acquaintances at the school who knew and respected him, but he wasn’t foolish enough to confuse friendly for friend. Most of the friends he did have, like Tessa or Ash, were shared friends with Sam, and they all knew better than to step in when the brothers were at odds. It hurt to know how truly alone he was.
I’ll see you at practice.
Dean sure as hell wasn’t going to practice today. He didn’t care what punishment Alastair might dish out because he would rather take whatever torture Alastair could concoct than face Castiel later. Dean wasn’t an idiot, if Cas wanted to stay friends, then he’ll be one hell of a good friend. It wasn’t the first time he was part of the ‘lets just be friends’ camp, but it was usually him who said it. And Dean wasn’t a weakling who would be heartbroken for days just because his little crush wasn’t returned. He just needed a bit of time to take his mind off things.
And what better way than to plot out his revenge against Bela. Just watching her laugh in class at whatever stupid joke she said made his blood boil. He might be unfairly pointing all his anger and frustration at her, but his humiliation over the summer with four months of interest added up.
Rather than to continue mulling over Sammy’s cold shoulder or Cas’s rejection (alright, maybe he was taking it a bit too hard, but Balthazar, really? What so special about him?), Dean spent the rest of the school day dreaming up the many ways he could exact revenge, of course while making sure it toed the right line of legality.
Didn’t need to upset Sam any more.
It wasn’t until he overheard Meg in the hallway talking about her bloodhound in the middle of that he recalled Bela’s fear of giant dogs. And then the seed of thought was planted.
Dean spent the rest of U.S. Government plotting and planning, and by the end of the school day, he had the perfect co-conspirator in mind. He leapt into the Impala, never having intended on staying for basketball practice after all and Ash had reassured him that he would drive Sam if his younger brother needed a lift.
Ten minutes later, Dean found himself rolling up Bobby’s driveway and instead of parking by the garage, he went all the way to the back of house. Bobby’s backyard was ever so familiar, with abandoned car parts littering about and the grill they had used a few times that summer. However, that wasn’t what he was here for.
Dean walked up to the measly fence dividing Bobby’s property from his neighbors and grinned to himself--it had been a long time since he did that. Well, the reason was the same reason why he came today. It’s been over a few years and Dean is sure he has gotten over it by now. “Psst, hey Growley, you big fat lump. Get over here,” he teased.
The largest Doberman ran out of her ginormous doghouse--seriously, it was a shed--and bounded towards the fence. She barked and eagerly wagged her tail and leapt right over the short fence.
Dean stared into the eyes of the vicious beast, his mind bringing back the memories of when he was twelve years old and stupid Crowley introduced him to the creature from hell. The dog’s soulless eyes fixated on his soft flesh as she brought her sharp fangs close to his ankles. It was two years before he stopped having nightmares.
Growley approached closer, snarling with her tail moving in this deathlike waggle and Dean forgot all plans of bringing the dog to scare Bela.
He turned around and ran.
Dean raced down the road, his feet pounding the pavement and blood roared in his ears. But he could hear the heavy paws of the giant dog slapping the ground pursuing him. He heard barking from all around, other dogs must have been joining the hunt. He pushed himself to run faster. A sharp whistle was sounded and then more heavy breathing, wait that was coming from him.
Dean couldn’t afford to stop and breathe. If he did, the hounds would catch up to him. His legs were beginning to tire, his lungs were on fire, but he couldn’t stop. And then he tripped right over a black trash bag and fell to the ground but somehow, with his dad’s training, managed to gracefully pull off a roll and stand up next to two men who had been conversing.
No, he couldn’t stop. Growley was right there now. He had to warn them. “Run! She’ll kill you!” He yelled in panic. He turned to point at the demon hound with a face of complete terror.
And stopped to breathe. Growley was gone and in her place was a tiny kitten with a bow. What. Where was Growley? Dean continued his labored breathing, taking in as much oxygen as he could, his eyes darting around, trying to find the dog in case it decided on a surprise attack.
Dean was pulled from his fears by hysterical laughter behind him. Dean turned slightly red. Growley really wasn’t in sight, and the two men behind him had seen the whole thing. He turned around to come face to face with Balthazar and his companion.
Dean swallowed. This was mortifying.
“Well,” Balthazar struggled to say mid-guffaw. “This is surprising.” There were tears from laughing so hard. That asshole. “G-good to see you here.”
“Balthazar,” Dean growled. Of course, the one person he really didn’t want to see had to be the one to see him in this humiliating situation. He couldn’t look at the bastard, and turned to look at Balthazar’s companion.
Dean gazed at the older man, trying to place the familiar face, while the other guy just looked at him impassively, a smirk on his face. It hit Dean suddenly. “Gabriel!” he blurted, with wide eyes.
Gabriel widened his eyes in slight surprise before he smirked wider. “Winchester. Getting scared of pussy now?”
Dean choked. He was so red in the face he had no idea what to say. Gabriel was the fucker from school who was two grades above him and dominated the school with his brother, Raphael. Who just happened to be Anna’s brother. And then Dean’s mind short-circuited because he hadn’t realized until now that it meant Gabriel was also Castiel’s older brother.
And Gabriel was with Balthazar, which meant that the foreign student truly was very close to the Shurley’s. Dean’s shoulders slumped slightly. He really never had a chance.
But he couldn’t help but grow angry at the man who was still laughing at him. “Shut up. I was getting chased by a giant dog. Seriously,” he groused. And shot Balthazar his most deadly glare.
Balthazar seemed to brush it right off and just gave him a wide smile. “Sorry, sorry, it’s just--” and he broke off into another fit of laughter. Which triggered Gabriel to start snickering.
Dean stomped off with a huff.
Gabriel and Balthazar watched Dean storm off, and Balthazar wiped the corners of his eyes. “Oh, I haven’t laughed this good since Anna set off the fire alarm during last year’s barbeque.”
Gabriel chuckled. He didn’t have the best impression of Dean Winchester from back in high school, but he had to admit, this was hilarious. Winchester should be in his final year now, with Anna and Balthazar. “Is he in a lot of your classes?”
“A few, but I know him mostly through Cas.”
“Cas?” Gabriel wondered, but smiled fondly at the mention of his younger brother.
“Do you know Dean well? He’s the one Cas can’t stop talking about at home.”
Gabriel’s face fell. “That Casanova piece of shit!” Dean Winchester, hitting on girls left and right during his freshman year, having the audacity to try to flirt with Anna when Gabriel was standing right next to her. And now he had the balls to try and take advantage of Cas?
Balthazar raised a brow. “Is there a story behind that?”
Gabriel scoffed, “He built himself quite the reputation his first two years, sleeping around and flirting with anybody in sight. If he’s getting close to Cas, he’s probably just fooling around and it won’t be long until he finds someone else to hump and dump.”
Balthazar visibly frowned. “He’s annoying, but he seems to genuinely care for Cas.” He tapped a finger to his chin. “I saw him close to Cas when I first came and decided to mess with him a bit. He has quite a short fuse, very amusing,” he chuckled.
Gabriel’s frown didn’t fade. From one player to another (he has nothing to hide, he loved what he loved) but people don’t just change, and if he found out Dean was really playing with Cas, then hell hath fury on a Shurley scorned.
Halloween was coming, maybe he should have a talk with Anna.
Dean gave up on revenge during the seething drive home. It got worse when Jo texted him a short message: “Hey, check Facebook.”
It didn’t take long to find what she wanted him to look at. Gabriel had uploaded a photo of Dean’s encounter with the kitten and the photo was shared over a hundred times with many times that amount of likes accumulated in a ridiculously short amount of time. Dean banged his head against the wheel and groused, “Thanks Gabriel, you fucker!”
The following day was another game of hide and seek with Sam. But Dean knew the unhappy sinking feeling in him was not just because he was losing.
Sam was already gone from the house in the morning but Dean still made him lunch just in case. Dean took a double-take when he realized the tupperware he gave Cas with the salad was washed and drying beside the sink. Perhaps Cas returned it to Sam during a tutoring session.
It was quite easy to avoid Sam and Cas and Anna but it wasn’t as easy to ignore the smirks and giggles that followed after him in the halls and throughout his classes. He tried some meditation (not worth a shit, you suck Sam--but not really, I love you bro come back to me) to block out the meows coming from the bitches mocking him, but eventually found some peace and quiet in the library.
Geez, to think how proud Sam would be if he knew. No, don’t think about Sam, dammit. He had texted his brother to see if he wanted to grab food after school, his little olive branch, but Sam never replied. Like how he didn’t reply to the other fourteen texts Dean sent throughout the past two days.
Sam probably thought he was giving Dean a taste of his own medicine, but this was no cure because it hurt.
Jo of all people found him. She punched his shoulder before sitting down. “You seriously thinking of cutting practice again?”
Dean rubbed his shoulder. Jo always managed to land a good one. “Hey! No violence in the library.”
Jo looked at the librarian who was watching the two of them suspiciously. She lowered her voice, “Get up. You’re gonna be late.”
“I’m studying,” Dean whispered adamantly, pointing to his SAT prep book. “It’s this Saturday!”
Jo rolled her eyes, “On the only two topics you actually excel at. You know what you don’t excel at? Shooting three-pointers. Let’s go!”
“Just tell Alastair I’m sick!” Dean hissed. And did a double-take when Jo physically got up and began pulling him out of the seat. “Jo! Hands off!”
Jo tugged on his jacket and damn, she had a strong grip.
“Alright! Alright! You’re gonna tear my clothes off in the library and as much as I fantasize about that, it isn’t with you and definitely doesn’t end with me getting sweaty from basketball practice!” Dean heaved himself up and ignored Jo’s victorious smirk.
Dean shoved his books into his bag and sent an apologetic look to Jim, the librarian. With Jo still buzzing with energy behind him, he slouched off to the gym. “Don’t you have better things to do than badger team members?”
“I’m the manager! This is what I’m supposed to do. Besides, it’s fun getting a rise out of you.” She sent him an cheeky smile.
Dean grumbled, “You’re lucky I like the Roadhouse’s pie.”
A short moment of silence fell between them until Jo spoke up. “Are we going to talk about Sam?”
“There’s nothing to talk about, Jo. And don’t try to get between us or take a side. You hate it, we both hate it, and it never ends up pretty.”
Jo threw her head back, resigned. “Fine. Want to talk about Cas then?”
Dean faltered in his steps and recovered quickly, but not without catching Jo’s eyes narrowing. She was always sharper than she let on. “What about him?”
“You’re avoiding the team because of the cat photo, but what about yesterday? Who were you avoiding if not Cas? He was upset when he didn’t see you at practice.”
Dean felt a stab of guilt but he tried not to show it because Jo was watching his face carefully. He didn’t have a reply.
“Listen, I might not want to take sides between you and Sam, but I will always take your side whatever this is between you and Cas or you and Baltazar.” Jo sent him a supporting smile.
Dean shook his head. “There is nothing. Not anymore,” he asserted when she shot him a look. “Look, Cas chose, and it wasn’t me.”
Jo curled her lips. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I saw Cas give Sam the salad you made him yesterday before class.”
Dean swallowed in surprise. Cas hadn’t eaten the salad but instead delivered it to Sam. His mind was swirling with so many possibilities and hopes that he didn’t dare touch. Instead, he allowed himself to wonder at how Jo managed to know everything. Between her position as manager on the basketball team and being in so many of Sam’s classes, she always had all the pieces.
Jo squeezed his arm right before leaving him at the boy’s locker room. “Trust me Dean, you’re not as alone as you think. There are more people who care about you than you realize.”
Good Thursday to my fellow classmates! Once again, it’s Becky with you all and I just wanted to remind all of you that Halloween is this coming Saturday, so I hope all of your costumes are prepared! And if you don’t, well, here’s an idea to my ladies. If you want to be sure to catch a certain someone’s attention, meowwww~
Surprisingly, the team did not send him the mocking remarks Dean anticipated. Some of them even told him they were glad he was back and that they had his back if anybody tried anything. Dean shot Victor a puzzled look, and Victor just gave him a weird smirk, as if wordlessly saying that the team was family and nobody messes with family. Jo smiled because she could see her boys shaping up to be a true team.
Dean looked around and realized that Cas was the only one who had yet to show up. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little nervous at how to approach Cas after their last encounter.
All trepidation washed away when Dean saw Balthazar and Cas at the door, sharing some last words quietly before Cas walked in. Dean banished the stray thought that told him Cas’s eyes lit up when he spotted Dean stretching with the rest of the team.
“Dean,” Cas immediately greeted. “I missed you yesterday.”
“Cas,” Dean tried to say with an easy smile, but trying to be simply friendly never seemed so hard. He ignored Cas’s accusation. “Was that Balthazar?”
“Yes,” Cas answered easily and then began to look nervous. They’ve only known each other for so long, but Dean knew exactly what to spot. Cas had a terrible habit of rubbing behind his neck when he was nervous or embarrassed, and his eyes would look anywhere but at the person he was talking to. That in itself was the biggest tell because on a normal basis, Cas stared at you until his gaze bore holes in your person. “Dean, your exam is Saturday morning, if I’m not mistaken?” Cas asked.
“Yeah, at nine. Why?”
“Saturday is Halloween, and Anna is throwing a party at our house.” Cas was talking to his shoes at this point. “I was wondering if you would like to come. It’ll be at night starting at eight and I thought it would serve as a good break for you post-exam.”
Dean felt a surge of excitement and so eagerly wanted to just say yes but then he heard what Cas said next and everything in him deflated once more.
“Balthazar reminded me to tell you that costumes are mandatory. He said no entry without one on.” Cas’s brows were furrowed slightly, like he was confused and didn’t want to ask, Dean noted without even realizing it.
Dean thought back to the soft smile Balthazar had sent Cas right before leaving him for practice, and the anger which he had tried so hard to quash rose up again. He snapped, “You have Balthazar already, why do you need me to go?”
Cas visibly took a step back, not expecting the heated answer from Dean and Dean immediately felt guilty. But before he could apologize, Alastair swooped down on the team and demanded all their attention. Throughout the coach’s lecture about various plays, Dean paid close attention, if just to avoid Cas’s confused and hurt stare.
Dean tried to catch Cas as the team broke up for practice, but Alastair very loudly chewed him out for skipping the previous day before assigning him to run suicides (lots and lots of them) and clean balls for the rest of the afternoon.
By the time he was finished, Cas had already left.
Dean walked towards the Impala with every intention of sleeping this day away when he spotted Anna by her car, which just happened to be next to his car. Really, perks of being a senior is primetime parking. Dean felt some hope rise; perhaps she had been waiting for Cas and he hadn’t left yet.
Dean was carefully piecing together a four-part apology and choosing his words deliberately when a collection of giggles drew his attention. It was Balthazar with three girls, two sophomores and a junior from what he could remember. Balthazar had obviously won their attention, and was working on winning affection. He had a flirtatious smile on his face, his hands waving through the air as he walked them through another funny joke.
Dean felt rage when he realized how Balthazar was shamelessly flirting, despite Anna being literally ten feet away, and who knows when Cas would step out of the school and see them. Cas’s heart would be broken. And Balthazar was trying to chat up a junior who Dean was pretty sure in at least one of Cas’s classes.
Dean stalked up to Anna and hissed, “How can you let that guy live under the same roof!”
Anna jerked back in surprised and asked blandly, “Who and what are you talking about, Dean?”
Dean angrily waved a hand towards Balthazar and his laughing posse. “Who do you think?”
Anna narrowed her eyes, “Who else would we let live in our house? You?”
“How can you not see what kind of asshole he is? It’s like he’s got you guys fooled too. He has absolutely no integrity, and you and Gabriel are carelessly letting him close to Cas and have no idea that Cas will get hurt because of it!” Dean breathed heavily when he was done with his rant, but rather than taking his admonishment seriously, Anna grew angry.
Anna stabbed a perfectly manicured finger at his chest. “I don’t care where you are basing your senseless accusations from but you’ll treat my family with respect, Dean!”
“Like hell I--wait, family?” Dean stopped. What? What in the world was she talking about.
Dean was so lost. “Wait, who are we talking about?”
“What?” Dean exclaimed.
Anna rolled her eyes. “He’s our cousin, Dean.” She stopped. “Wait, so all this time you thought...” she trailed off.
Dean felt like an idiot. He turned red and Anna let out a laugh. “Oh my god, Dean I can’t believe you really thought, wait so did you think Balthazar was dating Cas?” She was amused. Damn her.
“He’s still not a good role model,” Dean mumbled, trying to save face, but internally he was torn between being angry at the Shurleys, being angry at himself for being so slow, or crying for joy because it meant everything with Cas was just a huge misunderstanding.
Anna snickered. “Please, Balthazar’s a total slut, we all know that.” She paused. “Cas doesn’t, actually. Don’t tell him. Though it’s not like Gabriel’s anymore of a role model, but hey, you weren’t exactly the epitome of morality either, Dean.”
Dean choked and said weakly, “I’ve gotten better!”
Anna rolled her eyes as if she couldn’t believe she was still standing here. “And why do you think we’re giving you a chance?”
“What are you saying?” Because Dean really could not believe what she was implying.
“I’m saying, why have you still not told Cas you’re going to the Halloween party?”
Dean just stood there, stunned until Balthazar sauntered up to them. “Well Anna, when you and Dean are all done defaming my character, shall we get going? And Dean, I’d close your mouth because you’re about to shoot out gay rays of hope, but I have places to go and I’m much too busy to deal with your shit.”
Anna elbowed Balthazar, who made an exaggerated wince and got into the car. “Still there, Dean?” She teased and snapped her fingers in front of his face. “Anyway, I’m going with Balthazar to the costume store. Cas is looking up a few books in the library right now, but you’ll drive Cas home?”
Dean nodded. “Right. Yes. Of course. Right away.” Dean winced, why was his brain still rebooting.
Anna sighed, “Do I have to spell it out for you? Dinner is at seven. Right now it’s five. Also, Cas likes burgers.”
Dean’s eyebrows shot up. Okay, now he totally knew what she was saying.
She shook her head and said fondly, “Idiots.” She pulled the car into reverse and just as she was leaving, “Keep him safe or,” she drew a finger across her neck in a threatening manner. “Have fun,” she called out.
Dean shuddered. There was a reason why he never messed with Anna.
Castiel walked out just as Anna’s car disappeared from view. “Dean,” Cas addressed softly, almost as if fearful of how Dean would react.
Dean took a deep breath and blurted out, “I’m sorry!”
Cas looked at Dean intently, still some confusion in his eyes, but he wasn’t avoiding Dean’s gaze which was a good sign.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “And my answer’s yes. Yes, I definitely want to go to the Halloween party. I’ll be there.” With you. But those two words Dean has not yet managed to say.
Still, the smile Cas replied with was beautiful.