Dean looked up at the tall apartment building. Decent neighborhood, he decided, before finding the label that said Milton & Winchester, and pressing the buzzer. He had a smartass remark ready for the comm system, but almost immediately the lock clicked open. So Dean shrugged and went up. On the fourth floor he got off the elevator, followed the hallway until he found the door with 4C on it and knocked firmly.
The door had an older brass sign on it that said: Gabriel Milton. Underneath it was a more recent, and noticeably more shiny one that said: Sam Winchester. So at least he got the right place. Which unfortunately didn't make things less confusing when the door opened. Because the dude with the impressive bedhead and crooked blue tie matching his eyes was certainly not Dean's little brother, and though he'd only met Gabriel once, Dean was pretty sure that even with sci-fi levels of surgery this couldn't be him.
“You're... not from the florist,” bedhead dude said slowly, narrowing his eyes at Dean.
“Uh, no. And you're not my brother,” Dean grumbled.
This at least cleared the distrustful grimace off bedhead dude's face, and while he didn't smile or anything, he smoothly changed tracks and became perfectly polite. “Ah, I see. You must be Dean.” The blue eyes narrowed again. “You're very early.”
“Made good time on the interstate,” Dean shrugged. “I haven't actually seen my brother in a few years. Guess I'm a little excited.” Hitching on his best smile, the one that made waitresses leave him their numbers and bartenders give him free beers, Dean made an effort to at least look friendly enough that this weirdo wouldn't demand to see his ID or anything. Because he was still holding the door only half way open, apparently unwilling to let in some stranger, no matter how much sense his story made. He got a tiny frown on his forehead as he clearly thought the matter through, before abruptly sticking out his hand.
“My name is Castiel. It's a pleasure to meet you.”
“Uh, Dean Winchester,” he said automatically, though it was really redundant by then, and shook hands.
Finally Castiel stepped aside and held the door open. “Do come in,” he said, and if his voice hadn't sounded like a rockslide, Dean would have almost assumed he was a butler or something. In truth he looked more like some kind of low level bank manager with his dark suit and loafers, although at the moment he gave off the distinct impression of having been dragged backwards through a tumble dryer.
“Not to be rude or anything, but... who are you?” Dean asked as he was led through the small entryway and into the kitchen.
“I'm Gabriel's best man. Sam should be home in an hour or so. Can I offer you something while you wait? A beer perhaps?”
“Yes please– woah!” A huge lump of brownish blond fur came crashing into Dean's legs, and when he looked down he was met with pretty much a dog version of his brother, puppy eyes and all. Dean cautiously reached out and rubbed the floppy ears, making the large dog wag its tail with delight, sweeping across the kitchen floor and almost knocking over the smaller dog behind it, practically vibrating with excitement.
“I see you've met the canine residents,” Castiel said calmly and handed Dean a beer.
“Yeah. They don't seem too disappointed that I'm not from the florist,” Dean said, belatedly wondering if he was being a little too bold, but Castiel didn't react at all to Dean's bad attempt at a joke.
“I assume they recognize your scent as being similar to Sam's.”
“I got no clue. Sam was always the dog person.”
“And you're not?” Castiel asked, sounding politely interested.
“Not really. I'm not into animals all that much. I prefer machines.”
Castiel nodded and commanded the dogs back to their corner of the kitchen. Dean was impressed with how well-trained they were, but considering they lived with Sam, he shouldn't really have been surprised.
“Yes, Sam said that you're a mechanic,” Castiel continued. “I've seen the car you made for Gabriel. Beautiful work.”
Dean huffed. “That car is a freakin' crime against motoring. Please don't tell people I actually agreed to put that monstrosity together .”
Castiel blinked slowly and tilted his head, making Dean wonder if he was part bird or something. “Regardless of the car's style, you should still be proud. I understand that the engine is top quality and I can see with my own eyes that you have an impressive artistic talent. I was told that the custom painting was all your own design.”
“I didn't expect the little midget to actually like it!” Dean groaned. “I made it as ridiculous as I possibly could, because I thought I could then persuade him to let me make it a little less flashy.”
“I admit, it does catch the eye. But the talent is unquestionable,” Castiel insisted, and Dean felt his skin heat up around his collar. To cool down, he took a long gulp of the wonderfully cold beer.
“He calls it The Candy Van,” Castiel added casually, almost making Dean choke.
“Jesus Christ, seriously?!”
“I'm afraid so.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Some people just should not be allowed to own cars.”
Weirdly, this made Castiel smile at him for the first time. A tiny smile, only one corner of his mouth lifting, but still a smile. So Dean counted it as a victory.
“Since you have arrived so early, would you perhaps consider assisting me with some menial wedding preparations?”
“And by 'menial' you mean soul-crushingly boring, right?”
Castiel snorted out a surprised laugh. “You might say that, yes.”
“Yeah, sure, I guess. I've always been kind of a masochist at heart,” Dean said and drained the last of his beer. He then followed Castiel into the living room, and by the time Sam finally did arrive home, Dean fervently wished he would never see another goddamn napkin or place-card in his life.