Dean sank into the small metal folding chair in the corner of the open space behind the counter. It wasn’t the most comfortable seat in the room, although it didn’t loose the fight by much, but it gave him a lot more support than the short, cushioned, stool that Charlie sat on directly in front of the counter. At least in the folding chair he didn’t have to rely on himself to keep him upright. It was also low enough that it kept him mostly hidden from customers in the lobby. If anyone else walked into the shop through the glass doors, Charlie could tell them her ‘sorry, not taking any more customers today’ speech and send them on their way before they could get close enough to see the grease covered mechanic clearly sitting there doing nothing. Of course he was doing nothing, because he had finally cleared the last car out of the bays and he was finally taking a damn break.
“Did some state-wide message go out telling every car owner to change their oil today or some shit?” Dean rubbed a grease stained hand over the back of his neck, no longer caring about any mess.
“Not that I know of, boss.” Charlie chuckled, spinning around on her stool to get a better look at the man.
“Closing time.” Dean swirled his finger in the air. “I just sent the boys home. Go ahead and get out of here and flip the goddamn sign on your way out.” He closed his eyes and let his head fall back to hit the corner groove in the walls.
“Just don’t fall asleep sitting there, it’ll suck in all kinds of ways in the morning.” Charlie warned as she stood and gathered her things.
“See you tomorrow.” Dean waved a hand as he reluctantly pulled his head back up to watch her go. With a much-too-cheery bounce in her step, Charlie got to the door, turned the sign on it’s linked chain, and stepped out into the night. She hesitated on the sidewalk, fiddling with her ipod, until she cued the music and lifted her bulky earphones over her head. With a smirk Dean watched her step away from the building in the fading light, head already bobbing to the beat of her music. Of course Charlie was giddy, she only had to sit at the desk and push paper all day. Unlike the guys who had been digging around in and rolling under far too many cars each over the hours as they worked on the overflow of vehicles that had come into Singer and Sons that day.
Reluctantly Dean pulled himself out of the chair and made his way around the desk to lock the front door and turn off the lights. As he turned back around his eye caught on a piece of fabric among the chairs and he made his way over. It was a coat, crumpled on the floor, discarded between a chair and a small end table holding out of date car magazines. Dean reached for it but stopped at the last moment before touching it, seeing his hands. Quickly he jerked down the zipper of his coveralls and pulled the top half off his shoulders, letting the sleeves fall limply at his legs as he reached to pull out his mostly cleaner white undershirt to make one last effort at wiping off his hands. Mostly satisfied with their slightly cleaner appearance, Dean reached down for the beige material once more and pulled the coat from the ground, moving it around in his hands until he had it by the folded collar. He frowned at it, not remembering ever seeing any of his usual customers sporting a long, tan trench coat.
With a small shrug of his shoulders he carried it with him back behind the counter, draping it from a peg on the coat rack Charlie had insisted on for her because she refused to use the lockers in the back with the guys and risk her jackets smelling like motor oil and car exhaust. He had caved quickly on that request. Much quicker than he had when she had begged for a Keurig coffee maker and a variety of pods for the customers. With the coat safely out of the way, Dean continued on until he reached his small, cluttered office. Pouring himself a cup of the black sludge left in his personal coffee pot, he reached over and turned on the radio on the corner of his desk and took a sip of the hot liquid. With a wince he turned up the music, sat in his desk chair, and began to slowly make his way through the mountain of paperwork that had gathered throughout the day.
An hour later, Dean rubbed his aching eyes and finished zipping up the bank deposit bag to shove into the small safe in his office. He should have asked Charlie to stay late enough to close out the register for him, but he had just wanted the day to be done. Shuffling around his office, he tugged his leather jacket around his shoulders and went back into the lobby long enough to slide the drawer back in place, his eyes lingering on the sight of the warn coat hanging lonely from its hook. Through to the garage where he pulled his coveralls the rest of the way off and threw them in the laundry bin. Glancing around the empty bays out of habit, he walked to the back door of the garage and let himself out. Another day, another dollar. He gave an exhausted sigh and slid into his car. The Impala roared to life and he took comfort in the beautiful machine as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed home to his empty apartment.
The next day was thankfully so much slower. As he had arrived at the shop he smiled widely and shot a look at Charlie.
“You bring these?” He pointed at the open white box of donuts sitting next to the fancy coffee maker.
“Sure did, but leave them alone.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder with a smirk as Dean let out a grumble. “There is a box of them in your office just for you and the boys. Go enjoy.” Dean’s smile returned and he made his way around the counter, leaning in to give her a sloppy kiss on the cheek.
“You are the best.”
“I know.” Charlie feigned disgust as she wiped her cheek. “I even started your boring coffee in your crap maker!” She called over her shoulder just as he stepped into the office and was hit with the aroma of fresh brew. Dropping his messenger bag next to his desk he quickly poured a cup and grabbed up a white powdered donut before stepping back through the doorway. Taking a bite of the donut he let out a groan.
“You are a queen amongst peasants.” Dean said through a mouthful of food. Charlie grimaced but let out a laugh anyway. “Hey.” He took a sip of the coffee to clear his throat and pointed at the coat still hanging from the rack. “You recognize that?”
Charlie stared at it for a minute before frowning and shaking her head. “Doesn’t look familiar.”
“Someone left it over near the table, on the floor between it and the chairs. Not one of our regulars I’m betting.”
“No.” She bit her lip. “Over there?” She pointed and Dean nodded, his mouth once more full of donut. “Well, there were two guys that left in kinda a hurry at one point. Like one of them practically dragging the other out. But I don’t remember if one of them had a coat like that.” She shook her head again and shrugged. “Sorry. It was just so busy in here yesterday.”
“You’re telling me.” Dean snorted before shoving the last of the donut into his mouth. He held up his cup in salute and turned to go back to his office.
“Hey.” Charlie stopped him and he turned to her with raised eyebrows as he tried to chew around his full mouth. “You got a little something.” She pursed her lips and motioned around her whole mouth with an index finger. “Just, everywhere.” He rolled his eyes and lifted a hand to run over his mouth as she let out a laugh. Waving her back to her work, Dean went back into his office.
“Did you dig through the pockets?” Charlie asked fifteen minutes later when he reemerged with a fresh cup of coffee and idea of the few cars they had scheduled to come in.
“What?” He frowned and paused at the door to the garage.
“The pockets of the coat? Did you check them to see if there was some way to find out who it belongs to?” She pointed at the tan fabric.
“No.” He said, taken aback. What if he had lost his jacket and someone went through his pockets? Finding the pocket knife, loose change, gum, gum wrappers, the unused condom. They would stare in wonder at the two business cards from the inside pocket and wonder if they should try the garage or the FBI first, since his buddy Victor’s card was safely tucked away with his own.
“Well, it may help.” Charlie made to stand up.
“No. Hey, no.” He reached out a hand and she stopped and turned around. “Leave it for today. See if anyone comes in here to claim it. No one does, and I’ll check when we close.”
“What? A guy’s jacket is like a chick’s purse?” Charlie smirked and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Something like that.” He nodded and she let out a disbelieving laugh. “Anyway, leave it for now.” Taking a sip of his coffee he opened the door into the garage and let it slam closed behind him. “Ok boys, we got five scheduled repairs for the day.” He called out, his voice filling the space and getting the attention of the men talking near the middle of the room and a metal toolbox.
“With any luck, five is it.” Adam grumbled as they made their way over.
“Hey, cars pay the bills, buddy. Don’t bitch about a busy day when it keeps the lights on.” Benny pointed out in his gruff tone.
“Busy days like yesterday let me bump you to full time.” Dean added looking at the youngest on his crew with a pointed expression. “Keep that in mind.” Adam looked down at his feet as they shuffled closer to his boss.
“Yeah, sorry.” He shoved his hands in the pockets of his coveralls, his shoulders hunkering in close to his ears. Dean stared at the kid and was reminded of a younger Sam. It must have been something the two had gotten from their father, a trait that had skipped Dean and managed to get passed down to two kids from different mothers. He reached out and clapped his half-brother on the shoulder.
“Anyway.” He held up the clipboard and gave the others their jobs for the day, noticing the way Adam relaxed at only getting one car that would keep him occupied for a good part of the day.
The kid was good with cars, he had to be before Dean had given in and hired him, but he didn’t like to be rushed, didn’t like to push from car to car quickly. Dean wondered if he got his desire for perfection and slower pace from his mother and not for the first time he found himself wishing he had been able to meet the woman. Instead a nineteen year old Adam had shown up on his doorstep looking for Dean and Sam’s father because he hadn’t been visiting lately and his mother, Kate, had recently passed from cancer. It had killed Dean to tell the kid John had been dead for nearly three years, a car crash one late, and undoubtedly drunken, night. Adam had nodded sullenly and made to leave. It had taken all of three seconds for Dean to stop him and asked him to come in for coffee. He had never left. At twenty-two the kid was shaping up to be a fine mechanic taking business courses at night at the local community college so that he could one day help Dean run the garage. Dean hadn’t known the kid existed, was still kinda glad he hadn’t known about Kate, but he was glad he was here now.
“Garth, take this one!” Dean called across the garage an hour later. He was elbow-deep in a Chevy Cavalier and there was a car waiting outside one of the empty bays. The scrawny mechanic lifted a hand in acknowledgment and made his way to the door to the lobby. Dean looked up from his own work long enough to watch the interaction through the glass wall. He couldn’t stop himself each time a new walk-in customer entered, and he found himself watching to see if any of them claimed the trench coat. Half of him expected that if someone did show up for it he would stop what he was doing to step into the lobby and say hi. He had no clue why, he had nothing to say to anyone that left their creeper jacket tossed in the corner of an auto-shop, but something had him constantly looking up. It was probably just curiosity.
Curiosity that kept him looking up at each newcomer until he called it a day at eight. He had sent the others home one by one the closer they got to closing, Benny being the last to leave the hour before. Dean had waved him off, insisting that no one showed up for anything but to pick up their cars that late in the day anyway, he and Charlie could handle it. When the last customer, a single mom working at the diner down the street, had come dashing through the door at fifteen till, Dean and Charlie had been sitting behind the counter chatting. They smiled, asked about her son, gave her the keys to her old sedan, and waved her off. Ten minutes till closing.
“Well, I don’t think the owner is going to show.” Charlie jumped from her chair and reached for the coat.
“He still has nine minutes, Charlie, calm down.” Dean shook his head with a laugh. “Close out the drawer and you can go home.” Standing he grabbed up the jacket. Charlie let out an indignant squeak. “Calm down, I’m just moving it so you don’t go rifling through it.” He smirked and went into his office, draping the material over the back of his chair, careful to sit on the edge of the seat so he wouldn’t get the jacket dirty. Eight minutes later Charlie walked quickly into the office, money in one hand.
“Here. Done.” She dropped it down on the edge of the desk, the white slip of paper with her rushed handwriting on top. “Gimme.” She held out a grabby hand like a toddler.
“Jeeze, why are you so eager about a damn coat?” He raised wide eyes to her.
“I am ruled by curiosity. Why are you so resistant?” Her hands fisted and landed on her hips.
“I don’t like the thought of rifling through some guy's personal space.” He looked down at the money from the drawer. “You sure these numbers are right.” He laughed lightly at the indignant look she gave him.
“Of course they are right. I work better under pressure.”
“Impatience isn’t pressure.” He finally turned slightly in his chair, heaving a sigh as he lifted the jacket up and off. Charlie let out an excited noise and reached for it before he had his arm fully extended, and she was reaching for pockets before his hand could fall to the desk. “Christ, it’s a coat.”
“It’s a mystery.” She waggled her eyebrows.
“It’s a coat.” Dean shook his head and turned back to the paperwork in front of him, he didn’t work as fast as she did. He tried to keep his gaze on the inventory he was supposed to be working on, but his eyes kept lifting to see if she had found anything.
“Ah-ha!” She called out, her hand raised with a small metal object.
“What is it?” Dean frowned up at the object. Charlie draped the coat over one arm as she opened the object and pulled out a card.
“A card case. For business cards.” She shot him a look. “You should think of carrying one so you have more than the one, wrinkled, sad card on you at a time.”
“Shut it. What does it say?” He jerked his chin at the card as she turned her attention back to it.
“Cas-Teel?” She shrugged. “Novak. C-P-A. Collins and associates. And there is a phone number and email address.” She shook the card.
“CPA?” Dean thought for only a second. “Accountant.” He snapped his fingers on the word.
“Yes, Dean.” She was already reaching into her pocket for her phone. “I’ll call and ask where to drop it off. It’s been getting a little chilly, he is going to be wanting it soon.” She was already pulling the phone to her ear, wondering out of the office before Dean could say anything.
With a huff he got back to his paperwork, figuring she would come back when the call was done and she had information on the mysterious trench coat wearer. He was half done when she came back into the office with a smirk, dropping the coat on his desk unceremoniously.
“Seriously, some of us don’t clock out at exactly eight.” Dean huffed and picked the jacket back up, folding it slowly. “Why you giving it back anyway? I thought you would be jumping at the chance to meet this guy.”
“He’s not my type. You know, being a guy and all.” She shrugged and leaned forward.
“Charlie.” He growled and he knew exactly where this was going. From the moment he had confessed to being bi a few months back, he had regretted it.
“So, he lives way out of my way anyway.” She smirked and dropped the business card with an address on the back of it. “Buuuut..” She drew out the word. “He just so happens to live between here and your apartment. What are the chances of that? It’s like Fate!”
“It’s not Fate. It’s you nosing around in my business. And there is no way you can tell through a short phone conversation that he is interested in men.”
“True. Even my powers are not that strong. But!” She held up a finger and straightened. “If he is half as delicious looking as his voice sounds, he will be great spank bank material. Why waste it on me?” She laughed and made for the door. “See you tomorrow, boss! He’s expecting the coat in a half hour!” She stepped out of the door, leaning only her head back in for a moment. “It’s Cas-ti-el, by the way.” With a final wave she disappeared around the door into the lobby.
“Charlie!” He yelled but only got her laughter as a response before the lights shut off outside his office and he heard the jingle of the bell above the door. “Son of a bitch!” Looking down he realized he still held the folded trench coat in his hands. With a low groan he unfolded the coat and draped it back over the back of his chair so that he could get the work down in time to take the coat back to the guy.
When he pulled up to the small house thirty-five minutes later, he parked at the curb, right in front of the mailbox. Grabbing up the coat by the collar once more, he climbed out of his car and made his way up to the door. His eyes wondered as he walked, no sign of toys in the front yard so probably no kids, grass just shy of dead but then it was creeping up into fall, and no car in the driveway, which is what Dean was frowning at when the front door jerked open. Dean turned and came face to face with dark, messy hair above bright blue eyes above a similar frown.
“Can I help you?” Charlie had been right, the guy’s voice was sexy. His eyes moved down to Dean’s hands just as the mechanic was opening his mouth to speak. “That’s my coat.” He pointed at it as if shocked.
“Yeah. You, um, left it at my shop.”
“Right.” He looked back up to Dean’s face. “Sorry, I was under the impression the girl I talked to on the phone would be the one bringing it to me.” His eyes darted over Dean’s shoulders and down the street, searching for something. Dean took the brief moment to see that the guy in front of him was incredibly handsome, especially standing there in slacks, a white button down shirt, and a blue tie pulled loose but still knotted around his neck.
“Yeah, sorry. Once you gave her the address she realized it would be easier if I bring it by.” Dean cleared his throat.
“I tried telling her I could have come to get it sometime this week now that I knew where it was.”
“Nah, man, it was on my way. Anyway, with the weather getting cold we figured you might want it back sooner rather than later.” Dean pursed his lips. He watch the man’s eyes flick down the street again. “I’m sorry, are you expecting someone? Is this a bad time? Charlie made it seem like you were ok with me bringing it by.”
“No. No. It’s fine. My boyfriend is just on his way home.” He shook his head and dropped his eyes to his feet. “Umm, I wish I had something to give you as a reward for bringing it back.”
“Hey man.” Dean reached out a hand to stop his train of thought and the guy jerked back just slightly. “Don’t. Don’t worry about that. You just left it at the shop, no big deal. And it’s just a coat.” Deans shrugged and the guy made eye contact for only the second time.
“But it means a great deal to me.” His words were soft but his gaze intense.
“Well, then I am really glad I brought it back sooner rather than waiting for you to find time to pick it up later.” Dean grinned. “And in the future, when you bring your car to the shop, remember to take it with you.”
“Oh, I don’t usually …” He shook his head. “I don’t usually do that sort of thing, my boyfriend does. And he uses some other place.”
“Ah, wow, way to cut a guy deep.” Dean fisted his hand in the shirt over his heart and groaned. At the guy’s wide eyes he let out a chuckle and moved the hand to get the cards out of his inside jacket pocket. “But.” He looked down and found the right one, shoving the other back in it’s place. “Just in case you have the car again, here’s my card. Call me first and we will get you in and out quick. He doesn’t even have to know you brought it to us instead.” He winked as the guy hesitantly took the card from him.
Once more his eyes jerked over Dean’s shoulder and suddenly he was shoving the card into his back pocket and reaching out for the coat. “C-Can I get my coat back now?” His voice shook slightly just as Dean saw headlights in the corner of his eye as a car pulled into the drive way.
“Yeah. Sorry. Been talking your ear off.” Dean held out the jacket and the other man pulled it quickly from his grasp. “Have a nice evening with your boyfriend.” He took a step back, keeping his eyes on Castiel as the man hugged the jacket to his torso. “I’ll see you around, Castiel.” Raising his hand in a small wave he turned around, just as the boyfriend slammed the car door shut. Dean gave him a slight wave as well before tucking his hands into the pockets of his own leather jacket and walking briskly back to the Impala.
As he climbed back into the driver’s seat and shut his door he looked up to the house. Castiel and his boyfriend looked to be the same height, but the way the other man got in close to speak and Castiel bowed his head as he listened, the boyfriend seemed to tower over Castiel. The other man turned back to look at Dean, still just sitting in his car, before putting his hand on Castiel’s bicep and leading him back into the house. With a frown Dean watched as the man firmly closed the door behind them before he finally turned the key in the ignition and got the car started. With a slight shake of his head, Dean checked the street and pulled away.