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Holding on for dear life

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“Such a pretty boy. These emerald eyes, so… pure. Aren’t you a pure little whore, boy? So innocent with your pouty lips and these freckles all over your rosy little cheeks. What, you don’t like your freckles? Oh boy, you are mine now, what you like or do not like is of no import at all. You are mine, these delicate freckles just prove it.”

 

Dean woke with a jolt, for a moment surprised by the soft material underneath him, the clothes covering him. This is not how it was supposed to… oh.

With a silent groan, he laid back in his bed, still shaken by the memories that had so cruelly disrupted his sleep. Like many other mornings he took a second to feel relieved, a second to appreciate that they were just that, just another nightly terror. There were many things Dean tried to forget, especially those things that repeated themselves in his nightmares, those fragrances from what has happened back then. If there was one thing he was sure about, it was that he would not survive going through that again, ever. Those dreams were unpleasant but at least they reminded him of how good he had it here.

A knock on the door snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Son, you alright?”

Bobby Singer might not be Dean’s biological father, but he was the closest thing to a father-figure Dean ever had. It had taken him a while to stop jerking back whenever he was called son, a title he hadn’t heard in over a decade, but Bobby and his wife kept reminding him of what a home felt like, a family, what it was like to be loved.

Another moment without a response went by, and Bobby knocked again: “Dean? I know you’re awake. You were screaming.”

Crap. Dean hated it when he screamed in his sleep, it always seemed to make his foster parents worry even more about him. He wasn't worth that worry.

Well, no point in playing asleep now. Dean knocked on the wood of his bed, knocked once, knocked twice. It was their way of communicating, a reminiscence from when they were al still learning ASL, an easy way to state simple answers. One knock for no, two for yes. 

“Okay, son. Just make sure you get outta bed, soon. Don’t wanna be late on your first day of work, do you?”, Bobby's voice echoed through the door.

Oh, damn’ it, crapcrapcrap. For a short, blissful time, Dean had forgotten what date it was, why he had dreaded waking up today. His first day of work, ever. It wasn’t a lot, neither was it well paid as he was just a 17-year-old dish washer, but helping at “Angel’s bakery” was a challenge he’d have to face one day either way. He knew that he couldn’t keep laying on Bobby’s wallet, and yet… work required communication and communication was hard, to say at least, for a selectively mute person with PTSD and multiple anxieties. At least his foster parents knew the owner and guaranteed Dean he’d be treated well.

“Dean?”

Oh right. Dean knocked twice again to ensure Bobby that he was fine. His therapist had told him he had to get out of his comfort zone, what better day to start than one starting with a nightmare, he thought bitterly as he made his way to the bathroom.

 


 

An hour later, Dean was ready to go. Ellen and Bobby made him his favourite breakfast, pancakes, which he promptly wolfed down with a Xanax. Another one was safely tucked into his pocket, just in case, as he made his way to the garage to get his bike.

Normally, he would have loved to take the impala. She was one of his safe places, comforting him. But right now, he and Bobby did some work on her, so his baby had to stay covered.

“Angel’s bakery” was a little bakery in one of the allies that demerged from the main road. It was a charming place, old-fashioned and comfortable. The floor was covered with dark wood; a counter to the left, decorated with huge chandeliers over the vitrines, seemed to practically allure the customers to come and gaze at all the delicious looking goods. On the other side, there were tables, with many different chairs and armchairs, seemingly collected over the years and still fitting together in a perfect way. Book-shelves covered the wall, filled with little yellow reclams, huge antique looking books, some collections, hell, Dean even spotted a dictionary and all the lord of the rings books through the window.

It should be corny, kind of cheesy, and yet, all the colourful furniture and decorations were chosen so carefully it actually looked really classy, even comfortable.

Dean appreciated the nice work-place, but of course this did nothing to calm his nerves as he made his way to the door. Breathing deeply, breathing in and out, he tried to regain his confidence. This was his task for the day. He could do it. He-

“Excuse me?”

With a jolt, Dean spun around. A small guy stood here, blond hair chaotic, as if ruffled, his hands full with two large boxes, a lollipop sticking in his mouth like a cigarette. The guy gave Dean a wide grin, then nodded towards the door: “Would you mind?”

Snapped out of his shock, Dean quickly turned to open the door and hold it open. He followed the man inside.

“Name’s Gabe, by the way, and I’m guessing that you are Dean-o?”

Dean could only nod.

“Well, welcome!  When Bobster told us that he had someone that could help us with our little bakery here, we just couldn’t resist. We only opened, like, a few weeks ago, my hot-shot hubby got some kind of boring lawyer job here that he always wanted so we just decided to make it a complete new start. Not that there was anything really binding us to Washington, you know? Only lived there for a year. Anyway, my brother was here in the beginning to help me, but he has a job on his own he'll soon have to get back to, and the boy that helped before is moving away, so we’re kind of short right now, which is where you” -he deposited the boxes on the counter, turned around and pointed at Dean- “come in. Seeing as your communications skills are worse than my brother’s, no offense, Bobster and I thought about starting you in the back. He told me you like to bake?”

Not even waiting for a response, Gabe sat on the counter, swung around and stepped back down behind it, where he grabbed a pair of scissors and opened the boxes. He started sorting through bags of colourful sprinkles and dark chocolate chips as he kept talking:

“So, your tasks will be the dishes- not really appealing I know but better you than me, hm?- and cleaning the kitchen. When you have time, I’d like you to try out a few recipes, maybe we could raise you to the new co-baker if that works out. Also, we need someone to clean after we close, so that will be your work, too. Acceptable, Dean-o?”

Dean could only blink. He hadn't known what to expect, but this was certainly not it. Not that Gabe didn’t seem like a nice person, but him talking in such a non-business way… Dean was relieved. This place was by far not as stiff as he feared, hell, he might even see himself feeling okay here.

With increasing confidence, he looked up at Gabe and nodded.

 


 

A few hours later, Dean fell back in his bed- exhausted, but strangely also kind of happy. He had been so worried because of today, but after having met Gabe, all this tension seemed senseless. Gabe was nothing like him.

After he was shown the back of the bakery, Gabriel promptly put him to work. Dean started with cleaning the dishes and the baking supplies, he cut apples for Gabriel’s apple pie, made some crumbles after a recipe given to him and then, again, cleaned the kitchen.

Only when he was ready to leave he realised that the bakery was closed that day. Gabe, noticing his questioning look, told him that he had wanted time to show Dean his future work place- also, he claimed to have a major hangover and just no patience for customers today. Dean doubted that, yet he was thankful and decided to shut up about it.

The day at the bakery had been a good one, with Gabriel chatting happily about his life, his husband, his family and Dean working happily whatever he was told to do. He hasn’t felt as successful since he had managed to get his GED a month back. All those hours spent learning at the Singer’s kitchen table, the courses he did online, the test he had been allowed to do at home- they were originally meant as a distraction, but they made Dean feel better than every therapist ever did. He managed to do that, just as he managed to ace at the first day of his job today.

Maybe, after all, he was getting better.