"Oh, daddy, it's so pretty! Do we really get to live here?" Claire asked, her blonde hair flying around her as she bounced up and down excitedly, looking up at her father with wide eyes.
Castiel smiled down at his daughter, putting his hand on her tiny shoulder and pulling her to his side. "We sure do, honey." They both looked up at the beautiful white house in front of them. There was a wraparound porch and a small balcony for the master bedroom upstairs. A white fence protected a perfectly trimmed lawn with bushes and flowers mirrored on either side of the path that led up to the house. Their house.
A woman sidled up to Castiel's other side, pressing a kiss to his shoulder. "It's even more beautiful than in the photos."
"It sure is." Castiel murmured, kissing Amelia on the forehead softly.
"I'm gonna be the first one inside!" Claire chimed, tearing away from her father and running down the path and up to the front door, only to find it locked. Her pink summer dress flared as she spun around to pout at her parents.
Castiel chuckled and pulled out a key from his pants pocket. "Forget something, princess?"
Claire hurried back, took the key and beamed up at him before dashing back to the door and throwing it open, immediately rushing up the wooden stairs with a delighted squeal.
"Claire, honey, please be careful!" Amelia called, worry filling her voice.
Castiel put his shoulder around his wife. "Oh, Amelia, she'll be fine. Let her have her fun." They stood there for a moment, looking up at the house, before Castiel rubbed the side of her arm. "Why don't we start bringing the boxes in?"
After ten minutes of he and his wife moving box after box into their new house, something caught Castiel's attention in the corner of his eye, and, when he turned to look, his heart must have skipped a beat, because across the street was the most beautiful man Castiel had ever seen.
The man had messy brown hair, even though it looked perfect that way. He had light hazel eyes that seemed to be smiling, and speaking of smiles, he had the biggest, most wonderful smile Castiel had ever seen, pale lips that covered straight white teeth. Broad shoulders led to strong arms and long, long fingers, which held the morning newspaper. His thermal shirt clung to his chest almost as tightly as the jeans he was wearing clung to his slender hips, and he was barefoot and how was it even possible that feet could be so pretty?
And then Amelia was nudging him with her elbow and Castiel was snapped out of his gawking and he ducked his head. "Sorry hon." As he followed his wife into the house, he stole one last glance just time to see the man staring back at him from his front door, a slight smile on his face before he shut the door behind him. Heart racing, Castiel put the last box on the floor next to the door and slammed it shut. He grasped the cross around his neck and took a deep breath, letting out a muttered prayer.
(A month earlier.)
"Reverend Michael, you wished to see me?" Castiel poked his head through the opening of the office door.
"Ah, yes, Pastor Collins! Please, come in."
Castiel stepped in and shut the door behind him softly, holding his Bible with two hands in front of him. Reverend Michael gestured for him to take a seat and Castiel acquiesced, sitting up straight and looking at Reverend Michael patiently.
Reverend Michael leaned back in his worn chair and studied Castiel for a minute before speaking. "How would you feel about taking a job as a Reverend over in Lawrence, Kansas?"
At first, Castiel smiled excitedly. "Me, a Reverend?" However, as he processed the rest of the sentence, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Wait, Kansas? Why Kansas?" He cocked his head to the side. "Am I no longer needed here, Reverend Michael?"
"It's not so much that you're not needed as...not welcome." Reverend Michael replied simply, crossing his fingers across his stomach as he leaned back in his chair.
Blatant shock flashed across Castiel's face. "I...I don't understand. Have I done something wrong?" Castiel could not think of anything he had done to anger God, much less Reverend Michael...
"Not as of late, no, Castiel; however certain...aspects of your past were brought up and, well," Reverend Michael gave him a wide smile that Castiel assumed was supposed to seem regretful but only came across as mildly malicious. "I just don't feel like you belong here, in my church."
Castiel slumped back against the wood of the chair he was sitting in, feeling like he was going to throw up. Praying Reverend Michael wasn't talking about what Castiel thought he was talking about, he gathered enough courage to stammer, "Please, Reverend Michael, I...what aspects?"
Reverend Michael's face turned cold, presentation thrown out the window. "Oh, I think you know what aspects I speak of, Castiel."
Castiel was pressed up against the lockers, trapped between metal and man. Very cold, very hard metal and very hot, very hard man. "W-what are you-" Castiel was silenced with a kiss from the boy pinning him against the wall. Castiel stiffened, eyes wide and body frozen. He held his arms up as if gesturing to an unseen audience, 'He's doing it, not me!', shaking in apprehension. 'This is wrong, this is wrong, God did not create man to kiss man,' he repeated to himself in his head, but found to his horror that he wasn't making any effort to push the boy away. Just as he went to remedy this, the boy forced Castiel's lips open and Castiel couldn't help his eyes from fluttering shut, welcoming the other boy's tongue in with a warm sigh. Then, like a bolt of lightning had struck him, he remembered the cross around his neck and the sermon he had just come back from the day before, and he shoved the boy away, shirt slightly askew and breath coming in short bursts. "S-stay away from me!" Castiel stammered, turning away with tears in his eyes. "Just, please-" With sobs threatening to explode, he bolted down the hall. The boy called his name desperately, and although Castiel would never admit it to anyone, not even himself, a small part of himself wanted to run back to the boy and finish what they had started.
Castiel hung his head, and it felt like those same tears were threatening to fall now. "I-it was a mistake, Reverend Michael, one I regret and repent for every day, Lord knows, and one I do not intend to ever repeat, believe me." He looked up, his eyes wide with pleading. "Please, do not kick me out of the church, Reverend Michael. It's all I know."
"Oh, Castiel, you aren't being kicked out of the church itself, just this one." Reverend Michael clarified, and somehow that small fact didn't make Castiel feel any better. Reverend Michael sighed and stood up, walking over to Castiel to place a hand on his shoulder. "I know you regret and repent for it, and I hope you never do repeat it; you have gambled your chances of walking into Salvation enough. I just feel as though this is not the place where you should be trying to better your sins. I am not kicking you out; merely moving you to a place where I feel like you can make a difference, both in the community and in your own soul." He smiled. "Think of it not as a punishment, but as a chance for you to do things right. Really right."
A tear slipped down Castiel's cheek and he nodded, sniffing. "Yes, Reverend, you're absolutely right." He looked into Reverend Michael's eyes with his own watery blue ones. "This is not the place for me."
"Castiel, just hold on a moment, please." Amelia begged, standing next to the window as she looked over at Castiel in bewilderment. "I still don't understand; why do you want to move to Kansas?"
Castiel was sitting across the room on the couch, hands clasped and eyes downcast. "I told you, a church in Lawrence has offered me a Reverend position there, and I would just like to take it."
Amelia stepped forward and knelt in front of Castiel, putting her hands around his. She looked at him, her face kind and open. "Castiel, I can tell when something has upset you." Slowly, Castiel made himself look his wife in the face. She put one hand on his cheek. "What has upset you so much that you wish to move from our home here?"
Castiel turned his head away, his eyes looking down again. "This is not our home, Amelia. Not anymore."
"I am so glad you had Gabriel move in the furniture before we got here," Amelia sighed loudly from the living room. "I don't think I can move, what with all this unpacking."
Castiel walked into the living room and looked at the mess around him. Shelves were half-filled with books and wires and DVDs, and various knick knacks lay littered on the soft carpet, and his wife lounged on the black leather couch, covering her eyes with her hands. He smiled as he looked at her; she was so beautiful. He tiptoed over behind the arm of the couch where her head was and kissed the back of her hands, emitting a giggle from her in response. "Well, it wasn't an entirely unselfish act on his part," he murmured into her hand. "He fully expects a thank-you dinner as repayment for his services."
Amelia wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down so his nose was touching hers. "Well, I'm sure we can arrange a Sunday dinner just for your dear brother."
As she lifted her lips up for a kiss, the doorbell rang. Castiel straightened to go answer the front door. "I'll get it, you just lay there and let me do all the work." He called over his shoulder teasingly, still smiling as he opened the door and came face to face with the man from across the street.
Today, the man was wearing a white short-sleeve V-neck that was speckled here and there with car grease, smiling at him broadly, lips pulling back to reveal his perfect teeth. A necklace was wrapped around his smooth neck, a strange charm dangling from it. He was leaning against their door frame, his face barely a foot and a half away from Castiel's. He held a dirty washcloth in that hand while his other hand rested on his hip, slender fingers placed along his hipbone.
"Hey there, I saw you move in yesterday and thought I'd stop by and introduce myself." The man's voice was rough and deep, but light in its words. The man held out his free hand. "I'm Dean. Dean Winchester. I live there, right across the street."
He twisted around to point to his house which was right across the street, just like Castiel remembered. Right across from his house. Dean lived right across from Castiel.
"...you know, I've only worked on cars today; I swear you won't catch anything." Dean added jokingly, causing Castiel to snap out of his thoughts and hurriedly lifted his hand to shake Dean's. Castiel clasped Dean's hand tightly, loving the feel of Dean's rough hands enveloping his own.
"Nice to meet you, Dean," Castiel said, feeling a smile spread across his face in spite of himself "I'm Castiel Collins."
"Castiel, huh? Hell of a name you got there; mind if I just call you Cas?"
"Oh, I wouldn't try that, he can't stand that nickname," Amelia interrupted good naturedly, appearing next to Castiel. "And you are...?"
Dean's smile widened as he raised his eyebrows at Castiel. "Oh, a wife?" Castiel could have sworn for an instant that Dean had looked more disappointed than surprised, but Dean had already turned his attention to Amelia. "Dean Winchester, ma'am. My name isn't as beautiful as yours, I'm afraid. It fits you though, seriously." He winked at her before continuing. "I woulda stopped by yesterday, but you all seemed so busy I figured I'd wait a day before I graced you with a visit."
Amelia laughed and put her arm around Castiel's waist, causing him to jump in alarm, but he quickly regained his composure and smiled right back at his new neighbour.
"Well, we're glad you decided to visit. This seems like a great neighbourhood."
The sound of footsteps pattering down the stairs announced Claire's arrival, and sure enough, she poked her head through the space between her parent's sides, looking up at Dean curiously. "Who're you?" She asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
Dean crossed his arms and raised his eyebrow at her. "I could ask you the same thing."
Claire crossed her arms as well and fixed him with a stern stare. "I asked first."
"Fair enough," Dean chuckled. "I'm Dean, and you must be a princess, with a face like that."
Claire's fierce exterior melted and she smiled shyly, nodding as she looked down at her feet. "You can't tell anyone I'm a princess though, okay? I might get kidnapped."
"Oh, I wouldn't dream of it, darlin'," Dean said solemnly, bowing slightly. Claire giggled and then ran off into the house again. Dean straightened and chuckled again before taking a step back. "Well, I don't wanna waste any more of your time, I'm sure you have a lotta unpacking to do, I just wanted to drop by and say hello is all!' His eyes fell on Castiel, who stared back.
Right as Castiel opened his mouth to say something, Amelia beat him to it. "Oh, no, you're fine! We do have some unpacking to do, but we'd love to have dinner sometime, wouldn't we hon?" She looked up at Castiel.
Castiel tried to regain use of his mouth. "I-yes, we'd love to." He smiled nervously, his heart beating a bit faster than it had been before.
Dean's face brightened. "Well, it just so happens that I'm having my monthly barbecue party this Saturday; you're all more than welcome to come as my honoured guests." Although he was speaking to Claire, his eyes kept flitting to Castiel's, who swallowed nervously.
"That sounds wonderful! Count us in!" Amelia beamed, and Dean's smile couldn't have gotten any wider.
"Great. I'll see you three on Saturday then." He stepped down the stairs to the path and waved before walking back across the street to his garage.
Amelia smiled and shut the door behind him, giving Castiel a quick peck on the cheek before walking into the living room. "Hon, come help me finish setting up the living room, would you?"
Castiel felt something inside of him spark, like the start of something big, and he lightly brushing his fingers on his cross necklace before heading into the living room. "Of course."
As he knelt down and began unpacking various knickknacks, Amelia hugged him from behind. "He seems nice. I hope you two can become friends, you need a good friend honey."
"God has already blessed me with a wonderful wife and child, how could I ask for any more than that?"
Amelia leaned her head down and pressed her forehead to his. "Sometimes we don't need to ask these things; God just knows."
Castiel tried to smile, but he cringed at the thought of whatever else God might know.