“He’s an asshole,” Dean said with all the vehemence he’d mustered every other time he’d said it. Sam Wesson, his best friend, sat across from him at the diner. They were on their lunch break. They often grabbed a bite together to bitch about the day or make plans for the weekend. Sam was a good listener. He had the patience of Job. Right now though he looked quite put upon. He was put upon to be honest. Dean had been stuck in one track for the past month. All conversations either began or ended with some mention of the asshole neighbor.
“Just talk to him for Christ’s sake,” Sam tipped his head back as he said it, letting out a sigh of epic frustration.
“There’s literally nothing I can do. I live in a gated community on the edge of the city limits. His house is just outside of the city limits. He can do whatever he wants out there.”
“Seriously, Dean. It will hurt literally nothing for you to try reasoning with him. You make no sense, you know.” Sam scooped up a forkful of salad and took an angry bite. “You make deals all day, get people to do your bidding.” He swallowed the bite he was talking around and continued, “Why can’t you just walk over there and ask the guy to do something about his roosters?”
“I don’t try to make impossible deals.” Dean speared a piece of boring looking chicken on his plate. A waitress walked by with a steaming, cheese oozing burger. His mouth watered, but he looked away. Good health was something to be cherished. You only live once after all. Dean decided to redirect the conversation. “Come over this weekend. We’ll barbeque.”
“Sure. You thinking lunch time or dinner time?”
“Lunch. Bobby and Ellen will be there, and I might be able to get Jo to stop working on her thesis for half a minute.”
“You still trying to set me up with her, because she already made it abundantly clear that that was not gonna happen?” Sam laughed at Dean’s look of innocence.
“I just want my friends and family to get to know each other better. Can’t fault me for that.” Dean glanced down at his watch and realized that eating needed to happen faster. He scooped up a bite and powered through.
“Sounds good, just don’t be awkward. If you get weird, I’ll go next door and invite the neighbor to join us.”
Dean waved his fork at him and said, “Do that and this friendship ends.” To add to his point he said, “Bitch.”
“Jerk.” Sam laughed though. They finished out the meal in a comfortable silence.
Dean went home that day, feeling light. He had accomplished a lot to be proud of. A small merger was happening because he set it in motion. After Zachariah mysteriously left, Dean had been moved up into his job. The pay was great, the perks were great, and overall, Dean was happy. So the building had that pesky haunting the year prior. So he still wondered about all the ways that his world was just odd. In the grand scheme of things though, it hardly mattered. He had a new friend out of it all, and a rather good life.
When things had settled back down after Zachariah’s abrupt departure, Dean decided he wanted to try country living. Now, Dean’s idea of country living and everyone else’s idea of country living are likely very different. Dean decided that a move to a small gated community on the edge of town was country living. His home had a wide manicured front lawn, stucco walls in Santa Fe colors, and a small fountain that was some sort of ancient Greek monster creature spitting out water toward the sky.
He got one of the last homes in the community. The southern end of his property butted up against a high stucco wall that surrounded the whole collection of houses. This wall marked off the edge of his property and the too small barrier between his lands and his neighbor's.
Now most would not be so irritated by Dean's neighbor. Dean was use to a certain measure of quiet though. The first day spent in his new home was a day of work. He moved everything into place. He unpacked and sorted. There was method and reason to all that he did.
When he finished, he looked on it all with satisfaction. He went into the backyard and surveyed his domain. It was sunset, and the sky glowed all pinks and oranges. It was beautiful. A rooster crowed loud and long.
At the time Dean had grinned at the wall in the direction of the creature's noise. It was a sign that he wasn't in the city proper. It was a country sign. At the time it made him quite happy.
The next morning, Dean had woken up at his usual early hour, and the rooster crowed his greeting. Dean had the day off to finish getting his new home in order, then he'd be back to work. An hour into his day and the rooster crowed again. This time he sounded different from the time before.
This went on sporadically throughout the day. Here a rooster crowing there a rooster crowing at various times and for various durations. It was still new though, so Dean didn't hate it just yet.
A week passed, and Dean came to hate it. Some nights the blasted rooster would crow at 3:00 am. Sam was of no help. He suggested noise cancelling headphones.
Dean just built up a full mythos for why there were roosters practically in town and why his neighbor felt they were worth having. Dean also determined that there was at least three separate roosters. No one needs three roosters.
He almost went over one afternoon when the neighbor added his own voice to the crowing chorus. The guy was talking to the rooster. “Now Balthazar, this is nothing to crow about.” The voice was rough and deep. Dean didn't want to associate this neighbor with anything positive. His body disagreed with him though.
A good voice always got to Dean. He'd made many mistakes over an accent. The guy kept talking. “You keep crowing at all hours and you'll have to fill the stew pot.”
Dean felt hope surge. Oh please god yes. Kill the fucking rooster. The rooster crowed again though, and instead of the blessed sound of an ax whacking the noisey head off the thing, Dean heard the man laugh and mimic the crowing in his own rich baritone. Shit.
The next day was somehow worse. When Dean came home, he decided to whip up a quick meal and eat it on his back porch. The sky was shifting into twilight time and the sound of cicadas began filling the world with a certain quiet melody. Dean smiled at the little bit of paradise that he seemed to be occupying in that moment.
Then the rooster crowed. He heard the back door of his neighbor’s house open and close. “Balthazar, it is nowhere near time for all of that,” the man called out to his stupid rooster. “A promise is a promise though.”
Dean wondered if this meant that the rooster was going to be done for. He listened, breath held for the tell-tale sounds of death. A small part of him felt a bit guilty. Maybe the rooster didn’t have to die. He started to push back from the table a little to move toward the wall. Maybe I should say something. Then there was music. The song from Titanic filled the once peaceful space.
It just can’t get any worse, Dean thought. Then the man started singing loudly along with Celine Dion’s melancholy song. The rooster crowed in response. The man seemed determined to sing the whole song. “You’re here. There’s nothing I fear…” The man was singing in notes that were too high for his voice. The rooster started crowing yet again. Somehow it apparently had some flight capabilities, because it got up on top of the wall. Dean could see it now, all wild yellow and russet brown feathers. It flapped its wings then held them stretched wide open.
“Shit,” Dean said aloud. The crowing grew louder now that the wall wasn’t between them. The man kept singing. The rooster actually looked angry, and Dean understood that anger. This song was not one that Dean respected. Then the rooster took a flying leap from the wall back into his yard.
The singing stopped with a string of curses. The rooster had apparently landed on the singing man. “Goddamn it. Balthazar stop! Fuck!”
Dean started laughing, a deep full bodied laugh at what he assumed was happening. The man’s laughing stopped abruptly. Dean stopped laughing at the same time. Shit, he heard me. Then more curses. The rooster seemed to be continuing his assault. Celine Dion’s singing was coming to an end though. Thank God for small favors. Then he heard the door open and close with a slam. Dean laughed again, and the rooster crowed out with a noise that sounded like victory.
He could have gone over to complain any number of times, as Sam suggested, but he didn’t. He just wallowed in misery. At least by the end of the month, it felt like a routine bit of misery. The roosters were predictable. He had been wrong about it being random. There had been crowing at 3:00 am, dawn, 5:00 pm, and also at twilight. Sometimes one would get bonus crowing. Occasionally, the man next door would break out music to sing at the offending creatures. That always ended badly, no matter the song.
Today would be okay though, even with the crowing. Bobby, Ellen, and Jo were coming over. Sam was coming too. He liked the idea of them all lazing around his place, enjoying the warm afternoon. The weather was good too, not too sticky with humid summer heat. He popped a cap off of a beer, and gulped down half the bottle. The drippy condensation on the bottle was cool in his palm. The doorbell rang, and the first of the guests arrived. Dean ushered the Singers into the yard after a brief tour of the new home. They were all rather impressed with the place. Sam showed up later with a green cooler full of beer.
“Not too late am I?” Sam asked as he hauled the cooler into the backyard.
“Nah, I haven’t even tried reminding Jo to date you yet.” Dean winked as Sam set down the cooler. Bobby and Ellen had taken up residence in lounge chairs by the little koi pond. Jo was filling a plate with salad and some chips and guacamole.
“Hey Jo,” Sam said as they drew up close to her.
“Hey yourself Moose.” She smiled. Dean decided that the nickname meant that she was interested. He endeavored to give her another opening.
“Just so you know, the Moose is still roaming free. You oughta see if you can domesticate him.” Dean winked. Sam sighed, Jo just rolled her eyes at him.
“You’ll never change,” she said.
“Looking unlikely.” Dean pulled her into a little sideways hug. She hugged him back with her one free arm. “Grab some snacks Sammy. Meet ya at the old people circle.” Dean moved on down the yard to Bobby and Ellen.
He took his seat as the rooster crowed. Bobby shot a glance at the wall. “So that’s the notorious rooster we’ve all heard so much about?”
“That would be him or them. Not sure how many he has over there.”
Ellen laughed, “It’s not so bad. It reminds me of the farm I lived on growing up. You’ll get use to it.” The rooster was still crowing up a storm. Dean just glared at the wall.
“I think you might be wrong on that score.” Then the rooster hopped up onto the wall to better project is noise. Dean could hear his neighbor’s back door open and close.
A moment later and he heard the neighbor say, “There you are Balthazar. You know you don’t belong up there. Then two hands popped up over the top of the wall to grab Balthazar. Dean noticed that the hands were ringless. He wasn’t sure why it mattered. The voice still did things to him. Balthazar chose not to be grabbed. He hopped into Dean’s backyard.
Jo sidled up to Dean’s side and said, “Well, now Dean, it does seem like you’ve got some unwanted cock in your yard.”
Dean stepped away from her, and said, “Yeah, did I mention today how much I hate that bird?”
They all laughed at him now. Sam said, “You know, I maybe didn’t pick up on it. You hate the cock?”
“I swear I want to strangle that damn bird!”
Sam snorted, “You wanna choke the chicken.”
“Shut-up.” Dean strode toward the bird. “It hates singing.” He tossed back at them over his shoulder. “Watch it freak out.” He started to sing “My Heart Will Go On,” and the rooster got into what could best be described as a fighting stance.
Dean kept singing. The voice from the other side called out. “You really shouldn’t do that.”
Dean called back, “What? Worried I might sound better than you and your horrible rooster?” It was the first time they’d exchanged any sort of communication.
“No, I just don’t think Balthazar likes the song so much.”
Dean started singing at full, unbelievably screechy volume. Balthazar dug at the dirt with one foot, like a bull setting up for a charge. Sam said, “I think you should stop singing, Dean.”
Jo moved to Sam’s side and said, “Now you know, Dean never listened to anyone’s good advice.”
Dean sang louder. The voice from the other side of the wall just said, “Okay. I tried to warn you.”
He got to the first round of the chorus and really belted it out. This was his revenge for 3:00 am wake-up crows, arousing deep voiced crow conversations, and the ultimate frustrations that came from this man’s general presence on the other side of the wall. The chorus was happening. Bobby covered his ears. That was when Balthazar had apparently had enough too. He flew at Dean, a rush of feathers and angry flapping. Dean stopped singing abruptly and raised his hands to shield his face. The creature pecked and clawed. Dean turned tail and ran for his house. He could hear the laughter of his family in his wake. Their laughter was mixed with heady laughter coming from the other side of the wall. Dean kicked and swatted out at the rooster and got himself away just a bit. He yanked the back door open and launched himself in, kicking the door closed in his wake.
“Asshole!” Dean called out through the now closed door at maybe the rooster, maybe his family for laughing, or maybe for the neighbor for ever even getting roosters in the first place. Through his sheer curtains on the glass paned door, he could see Balthazar pacing like he was just waiting for round two. Dean sat on the floor and wondered how he’d get back out there with any shred of dignity left.
He decided that outside was for the birds and chose to just sit and stare in frustration at the furiously pacing creature. Balthazar showed no signs of giving up his newly acquired territory. There was movement on the porch behind the bird. The curtain obscured his appearance a little, but Dean could see that he was tall, dark haired, and wearing a blueish loose-fitting shirt. The man’s voice pierced past the door. “Time to go home Balthazar. Stop bothering the nice man.” He came down onto his haunches, and seemed to be looking right at Dean through the sheer curtain.
“I hate that fucking bird,” Dean called past the door.
Balthazar paced a little frantically as Dean spoke, like Dean’s voice had reminded his chicken head of why he was furious. “Cock is an acquired taste.” Dean swore he saw the man wink. The guy reached out for the door handle then.
“Oh shit no. Don’t let him in!” Dean nearly shrieked and scrambled back away from the slowly opening door.
“I’m just getting him to come back to me.” And sure enough, the rooster shot toward the door. The man reached out to him and picked him up. “You’re safe to come out now.” He got up and bumped the door open. He had the rooster held close to his chest. “Maybe don’t talk just yet. I’d hate to have the little guy getting all upset again.” He moved away from Dean’s door.
Dean came out onto his porch and just stared at the man that had been his neighbor for the past month. He was a fucking hippie god. His hair was a mess. His shirt looked like some sort of home died nature fabric. It fluttered about around him with the little breeze. Dean’s eyes swooped over him, taking in the whole picture. He was a gorgeous picture. Dean decided that it was most likely the eyes that sealed the deal. Forgetting the request for silence, Dean said, “My name’s Dean, Dean Smith.”
Balthazar looked like he was going to make an attempt at an escape, but the guy held him closer and angled him away from Dean. “I’m Castiel, just Castiel, no last name.”
“Seriously?” Dean swallowed back extra words, seeing the effect his voice was having on the bird. Castiel left Dean standing in his doorway and walked over to the wall. He lifted the rooster and unceremoniously tossed him over the wall back into his yard.
“Is he okay with being tossed like that?” Sam asked.
“Balthazar likes a good tossing.” Castiel smirked. He glanced back at the wall and added, “Actually, it’s not that much of a drop. I’ve seen him make the leap from the wall a bunch of times. Moreso before you all moved in.”
Dean said, “Oh, they don’t all live here, just me.”
“Oh, my mistake.” Castiel seemed to be looking him over rather intensely.
Bobby cleared his throat. “Well, now that the chicken drama is finally over, how about we eat. I ain’t getting any younger here.”
They all laughed. Castiel said, “On that note, I’ll be heading home. It was nice meeting you.” He moved toward the side gate that he’d apparently come in through. How he’d gotten past the community gate was beyond Dean.
Dean rushed over to him before he could leave. “You wanna stay for dinner?” Dean didn’t know why he’d asked. He’d spent the better part of the last month calling the guy an asshole chicken hoarder.
Castiel seemed startled by the request. “Oh, um...I’m pretty sure that would be an imposition.”
“My house, my dinner. Wouldn’t have asked if it was an imposition. Besides, you might be needed to wrangle Balthazar if he comes back.”
Castiel looked off at the wall and seemed to consider. “You make a fair point.” Dean clapped him on the shoulder then and guided him back to the group.
“Castiel is gonna join us,” Dean announced. Ellen smiled and got another chair for the new guest. Dean made sure to sit next to him. He had a unique scent, something earthy and warm. Dean made a point of not being a creepy sniffer once the initial sniffing was done. He was subtle like that. Castiel took a plate of barbequed chicken that was passed to him.
“Seems appropriate that we dine on chicken tonight,” Castiel said to the group.
“So, how many chickens you got over there?” Sam asked.
“Too many.” Castiel tipped his head back as if to count them up. “I’ve got fifteen laying hens and three roosters. Pretty sure they all hate me except for when there’s food about to be served up to them.”
Dean shifted a bit in his seat and picked up his fork to eat. “So, Cas, why does a guy need three roosters?”
Castiel laughed before he answered and it was low and deep and stirring. Dean shifted in his seat again. “One does not pick the chicken’s gender, Dean.”
“I’m just saying, why would you keep so many roosters?”
“I’m indifferent to my chicken’s genders. Like I said, they just are what they are.” Castiel shrugged and ate some of the meat. “Good stuff,” he said around a bite.
Ellen chimed in then, “I think what Dean really wants to know is, don’t the crowing little bastards drive you nuts too?”
“Thanks Ellen,” Dean said.
“Don’t mention it,” she said as she winked back at him.
Castiel set down his fork and dabbed at his mouth with a corner of his napkin. “I’ve threatened Balthazar more times than I can count. He seems to view it as encouragement though, and merely crows louder. Aside from eating him, I hardly see any real solution. Plus, I’m a bit attached to him at this point. He’s cantankerous and old. I feel a certain kinship with him. He’s just loud because he wants to make sure we all still know he’s alive.”
Dean wondered if this guy was for real. He looked sincere though. Dean followed the move that he made to take another bite of his meal. The way his lips dragged over the tines of the fork sent a little shiver over Dean’s body. “Well, it’d be nice if we could get him to stop doing the 3:00 am crowing. That one is the worst,” Dean said.
“Well, that one we can blame on Oberon. He’s an idiot. When they were handing out chicken brains he didn’t get in the queue.” Cas reached over to the basket in the center of the table for the biscuits. Dean had spent a fair amount of time on them in the morning. He rolled out the dough and brushed a generous amount of butter on them for the baking. They were golden and warm. “Maybe the next barbeque can be at my place. We’ll have a bit of Oberon for supper.” He smiled around the pronouncement.
“Seems kinda wrong to eat something that you named,” Bobby said, which was funny given the fact that Bobby would eat literally anything.
“Maybe we just start calling him 3:00 am Dinner,” Jo offered. “Or just Dinner. I mean, that bird sounds like it just wants to die being all crowy at 3:00 am.”
“I’m inclined to agree on that note,” Dean said. “Would you feel bad about that one biting the big one?”
Castiel seemed to consider for a moment. “No. He’s actually awful.”
“Well, then I guess we all have something to celebrate.” Sam lifted his beer and then realized that Castiel didn’t have one of his own. “Here.” He pulled one from the cooler next to him and passed it to Castiel. Then he raised his bottle again and said, “To never hearing Dean complain about that damn rooster again.”
Everyone chimed in “here here!” and then clinked their bottles.
Dean said, “I didn’t complain that much.”
Jo snort laughed and spit a little beer onto the table. Sam gave her a few pats on the back to stop the choking. “Seriously, Dean,” Sam said. “You were driving us all crazy.”
Castiel spoke up then. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea what my cock was doing to you.” Now it was Dean’s turn to choke. They all laughed at him, except for Castiel, who just looked entirely comfortable with his choice words. He drank down a bit of his beer while everyone enjoyed themselves.
The evening was pleasant, filled with all sorts of old stories brought back up to the surface. Bobby and Ellen had a new soul to share with, so old embarrassing Dean stories had to be handed out. They did the same the first time that they met Sam too. Dean blushed a little as they told the story of how Ellen ended up learning that Dean wasn’t entirely straight. Castiel, to his credit seemed to enjoy that story.
The story also lead to Castiel saying that he did not think that anyone was entirely straight. Dean let that thought roll around in his head for a bit. The stars were just starting to make their appearance when one of Castiel’s roosters pierced the evening with its nightly crowing. Jo laughed and said, “I guess the roosters think we need to be going off to bed.”
“Nah, I think they want to make sure you stay up. Noisy bastards couldn’t possibly be encouraging sleep.” Dean started picking up plates though to clear away the remains of their meal.
Castiel started helping. “Again, I’m very sorry about the noise.”
Dean waved him back into his seat. “Let me get that. It’s really not a big deal.”
“See Dean,” Sam said. “You should have listened to me a month ago and just gone over to talk to the guy.”
Dean shot him a look. “Talking to someone doesn’t make roosters stop crowing.”
“Well, it’ll make Oberon stop crowing next weekend,” Cas offered.
“I wasn’t really fancying a conversation that went like that. I mean, can you even imagine. Hey neighbor, I hate your roosters. Could you maybe kill them? Thanks.” Dean shrugged and kept cleaning up the table.
“Well, can you imagine how it must feel to know that your cock has been tormenting someone for over a month?” Castiel looked entirely innocent as he said it.
“You do know that you can call it a rooster right?” Dean said.
“I like the way it makes you look all uncomfortable. It’s funny. Plus it’s a completely appropriate word for them.” Castiel paused a moment and then went on. “They’re all cocks, and next weekend we’ll all be eating one of them.”
Ellen laughed and got up. “Well, on that note, I think we’ll be heading home. You boys have fun cleaning up after us.” She nudged Bobby, who was half dozing in the seat next to her. “Come on old man.”
“What, time to leave already?” Bobby said as he grunted and eased up out of the chair.
“You coming home with us Jo?” Ellen tossed back at her as they rounded the table.
“Well, I did ride here with you.” She got up and so did Sam.
“I could drive you home,” Sam offered. Dean smiled and pretended not to be paying attention.
Jo looked at him, her lips rolling up into a half grin. “Now, Sam, that would make no sense at all. Why would you drive me home when my parents are already driving there?”
“You could stay longer,” Sam offered.
“I really can’t. I have too much work to do on my thesis. We’re fast approaching the deadline, and I still have miles to go before I can sleep.”
“Oh.” Sam looked like he lost a little.
“Next time though?” She asked.
Sam perked up. “Or maybe I can bring you dinner some time, like when you need a writing break.”
“Sounds like a plan. I like dim sum.” She turned to Dean then and gave him a hug. She whispered into his ear, “Stop looking so pleased with yourself.” She kissed his cheek and followed her parents to the gate.
Sam was just frozen there. Then he said, “She just said she’d have dinner with me right?”
“Well, kinda. Sounded like she said you could buy her some dim sum or something,” Castiel said.
“That counts,” Sam said, a grin spreading wide over his face.
Dean elbowed him as he passed with the plates and said, “Sure does buddy.” He moved off toward the house with the plates, leaving only a few behind for a later trip.
Sam called up after him, “I’m gonna go. You mind?”
Dean called back to him, “See ya at work tomorrow.” He turned back to the house and headed inside.
He set the plates down on the counter and turned to head back out for the rest. Castiel beat him to it though. His hands were full of all the remaining serving bowls and the basket of biscuits. “These were amazing.” He nodded down to the biscuits. “Pretty sure I ate ten of them.”
Dean laughed. “Well, glad you liked them. I got up early just to make them from scratch.”
“You are a talented man. Why don’t you weigh 700 lbs?”
“Just said I made them. Didn’t say I ate them.” Dean started scraping the leftover food into the garbage disposal.
“Oh, Dean. That is an absolute tragedy.”
Dean turned to look at him. “What?”
Castiel reached into the biscuit basket. Dean set down the plate he was holding and rinsed off his hands. He turned back to look at Castiel. “These are as close to heaven as I’ll ever get.”
Castiel pinched a small piece off the edge of the biscuit and slipped it into his mouth, eyes rolling back a little as he enjoyed the buttery taste of it. “Glad you liked them,” Dean choked out.
Castiel stepped closer. He pinched off another small piece. “Open.” It was a simple command. Dean immediately obeyed. Castiel’s long fingers slipped the little morsel right on in.
Dean’s lips brushed over Castiel’s fingers as he closed his mouth around the little piece of the biscuit. “I guess I have some talent,” he finally said. The biscuit was good. He was trying to avoid too much fat and carbohydrates. This little bit wouldn’t kill him though.
Castiel pinched off another bite and ate it. “It’s divine.” Dean watched the bob of his throat as he swallowed. They were standing entirely too close. Fuck, what am I doing?
“I should have you take home the leftovers. I don’t want to be tempted by the biscuits.” Dean was watching Castiel’s hands like they were performing some fete of magic.
Castiel took another piece of biscuit and brought it to Dean’s lips. Dean let his lips part for the food. Castiel dragged his fingers over Dean’s lips after leaving the biscuit on Dean’s tongue. “I’d be happy to take the biscuits home. My home is a safe haven for all the temptations.”
“What’s that mean?” Dean managed to ask.
“Just that, I’m a free spirit. I don’t like labels, and I don’t like denying myself the things that I want. Life is short. Why not just bang a few gongs before the lights go out?”
Dean didn’t know why he was confessing, but the next words out of his mouth were, “I have called you an asshole no less than a hundred times in this past month.”
Castiel laughed. “Really?”
Castiel didn’t back away, but he did set down the biscuit on the counter. Dean felt the slightest regret, because now he couldn’t justify finishing off the thing. There were other reasons for regret too, but he pushed those aside. “Because of my noisy cocks?”
“You can call them roosters.”
Castiel stepped impossibly closer. His chest was practically pressed to Dean’s. “Cocks,” he said again. The word puffed out on a breath.
Dean rolled his eyes. “Is this how you flirt?”
“Flirting implies so much less confidence. You flirt when you don’t know the outcome. It’s a way of testing the waters. Like, if I put the tiniest piece of biscuit on his lip, will he eat it? If I brush his lips with my fingers, will he suck them into his mouth?” Castiel’s eyes darted down to Dean’s lips then back to his eyes. “That would be flirting. Saying ‘cocks’ right up next to your lips like this is far more blatant.”
“Really?” Dean swallowed.
“Really,” Castiel responded.
“So you think I’m easy?”
Castiel’s right eyebrow shot up. “Was hoping.”
Dean took a step back. “I think in another life I was a leap before I look kind of a guy.” Dean wondered if he’d regret not leaping tonight. He knew from past experience though that nothing in life was ever easy. Plus, Cas was his neighbor. If this went wrong, he’d be right there on the other side of the wall as a constant reminder.
“In another life?”
Dean went back to cleaning the dishes. Castiel picked them up from the sink as Dean rinsed them and put them into the dishwasher. Dean continued, “Yeah, I think we all live multiple lives. Kinda like reincarnation.”
“You don’t seem like the type to believe in that.”
“I wasn’t, then I was. Some things happened to change my perspective. Not everything can be explained easily, and sometimes it’s easier to think that there’s more to life than what’s right in front of us.” Dean realized he was sharing a bit too much. “You seem like the type to believe in things that aren’t so easily explained.”
“I don’t know what I believe. I mostly practice hedonism and animal husbandry. I like to keep it simple.”
“My life is complicated. I’m also too busy for most people to consider me relationship material.”
“You work a lot. I got that from the dinner conversation.” Castiel wiped down the counter and started wrapping up the leftovers to put them in the fridge.
“Yeah, that’s the understatement of the year. I have some seven day weeks. I travel when the company needs me to. I just finished up the final details on a merger that goes public this week. This was the first full weekend I’ve had in ages.”
Castiel was at his side again. He tossed the towel onto the counter. “So what you’re saying is that if I want to see you in fewer to no layers, I’m going to have to accept you as a workaholic that can’t spare much time for the fluffy relationship business?”
“What I’m saying is that I don’t want to rush into things, and also yeah.”
Castiel nodded. “So no sex tonight then.”
Dean laughed. “Yeah.”
Castiel took a step back. He let his eyes rove over Dean again. “Getting a mental picture set.” He smiled and turned toward the door. “I’ll just be going.”
“Let me walk you out.” Dean followed him to the door then down to the sidewalk that ended at the password protected gate. “How’d you get in before?”
“Oh, I watched some people type in their passwords. Thought it’d be useful to know how to get in. You all have a pool after all.” Dean laughed at him and watched him go.
“See you around.” Dean gave him a little wave.
“Yeah.” Castiel waved back and was gone.
Dean questioned many of his life choices as he finally crawled into his bed. He could have ended the all too long dry spell. He also knew that sleeping with his neighbor that he literally just met was an exercise in stupid. He fumbled for his nightstand drawer wondering if he even had any condoms in it. He flicked on the light and leaned forward to peer inside. There was one sad little condom pack laying in the corner.
Dean resolved to hit the drugstore on the way home from work, just in case. You never know. He flicked the light off and turned to his side. He closed his eyes and slept until 3:00 am when Oberon began his nightly song.
Dean’s day at the office was full if uneventful. This was a good thing, since he found his mind wandering. He’d been propositioned plenty of times. He’d accepted plenty of times but it had been a long time. This just felt like something he needed to be careful with.
Sam popped in at lunch. He came into the office so quietly that Dean didn’t even hear him. At the moment, he was looking out the window at the passing clouds and thinking of lips that he didn’t kiss.
“Penny for your thoughts.” Sam slid a box lunch across the desk to Dean as he took a seat.
Dean glanced at him then down at the box lunch. He tossed his tie over his shoulder and started opening the box. “What the heck is this?”
Sam rolled his shoulder in a slight shrug. “It’s what they had. Figured a burrito and some chips and guac wouldn’t be so bad.”
“This has so many carbs.” Dean started to push the box away. It smelled good though, so he pulled it back to himself. He glanced at Sam and saw the small smile toying at his lips. “What?”
“How’d last night go?” He had that tone that was all innocent and yet entirely not.
“Fine.” Dean picked up the burrito and took a bite.
“Just fine?” Sam still had the tone, and Dean knew full well, what he was saying.
“Yeah, fine.” Dean made his way through half of the burrito in just a few bites. It was damn good. Fucking carbs.
Sam rolled his eyes and said, “So, you’re really not gonna elaborate? Nothing to say? Really?”
“What the hell are you going on about?” Dean knew exactly what he was going on about.
“That Castiel guy...the chicken neighbor...Seriously!” Sam reached over and pushed Dean’s hand aside as it was about to deliver more burrito to his mouth. “Did he stay the night?”
“What the hell, Sam!” He stopped and schooled his tone. “I just met him.”
Sam laughed and said, “Yeah, and the way he was staring at you, well you were staring too. We were all taking bets out on the driveway about how things were going to go.”
“Ew, that’s kinda gross Sam.”
“Ellen and Bobby are my family man.”
“Well, to be honest, they were laughing at the whole situation. Jo and I were the one making bets. We were all just happy that the chicken drama conversations would likely be at an end.”
Dean set down the burrito and tipped back his head a moment. He got up and wandered over to his mini-fridge. He pulled out two bottles of water. He tossed one to Sam, who caught it with ease. He came back to his seat and twisted off the cap. “He helped with the dishes and then I sent him home.”
“You sent him home?”
“Yeah, why do I have to repeat everything for you?” Dean gulped back some of the water.
“You’re irritable. You really didn’t get with rooster man?” Sam set his water on the desk. “You need to fix that. We’re all plenty tired of all your pent up, frustrated energy.”
“Really. You all been talking about me?”
“It has come up.” Sam sighed. “You work too much. You need to let off some steam. Hotty McNeighborman seems like a good outlet for said frustrations.”
“Sam, when did this become my life?” Dean picked up a chip and jabbed at the guacamole. “I don’t need to spend my lunch getting awkward relationship advice from IT.”
Sam’s face fell a little. “That’s just rude. Plus it’s not relationship advice. In fact it’s way less relationship advice than you pushing Jo and I together.”
“Shit, Sam. I’m sorry. I…” Dean sighed. “You know I didn’t mean it.”
“Yeah, well, sometimes I’m just the better friend.” He started to get up. “Guess I should head back to IT and work.”
“No, Sam. Wait. You just got here.” Dean waved him back down. “I was an asshole.”
Sam looked at him for a moment. “You gonna eat those chips?” Dean pushed them toward him. Sam sat back down and swiped one out of the box.
“He made it clear that he was interested,” Dean offered up the information like an olive branch.
“So, why did you send him home?”
Dean knew why he sent him home, but he’d had a whole day to have some regrets on that front. “I don’t know. He’s my neighbor, and I really don’t know much about him.”
“Is that a requirement?”
“It’d be nice. I mean, it’d be neighborly at the least.”
Sam laughed. “When’d you get so old?”
“What, because I want to know someone a little first?” Dean snatched another chip from the box and ate it.
“Sorry, just picking on you a bit. That’s actually kinda nice. It’s just that you’ve told some stories about how you were before getting into the corporate life. It’d be nice to see you out there a bit, maybe finding someone. You can only do that with some sort of effort though.”
“I don’t think I’m cut out for that apple pie life, Sam. I think this is what I’m gonna be doing. Working the long hours, lunch with my brother from another mother, and nights at home with the melody of roosters punctuating the night. It’s a good life. I got no complaints.”
“Could be a better life. You might think this is terrible actually, if you let it go on like this for too long.” Sam reached over and gave Dean’s arm a little pat. “I know you Dean. You aren’t a solitary soul. You like having people around. Maybe give Castiel a chance to punch a little hole in this little world of yours.”
“You sure are going to bat for him rather quickly.”
Sam laughed and then drank down the last of his water. “I liked his humor. You need some of that in your life. It’s literally what I think you’ve been missing.”
Sam got up. “I’m not so sure.”
“What’s not to be sure about? Maybe get to know him. Ask him out if you need that.”
Dean got up and walked him to the door. “Maybe.” Dean pulled his tie back to the front of his shirt. He ran a hand through his hair. “I still hate the roosters though.”
“Who knows, maybe they’ll grow on you.” Sam turned back to him with a smirk. “Besides, I think you really like the cocks.”
Dean slugged him in the shoulder. “Asshole.”
Sam stalked off down the hall laughing.
Dean got home at a semi-decent hour. He noted the biscuits that were wrapped up on his counter. He considered pulling one out to have with dinner. He counted the food sins of the day and said, “Fucking carbs.” He pulled open the fridge and made a salad. He added some grilled chicken to it from the weekend barbeque.
It was still light enough outside to venture out to the porch for dinner, so he did. He settled into the seat and just started eating when he heard music startup next door. This time it was an Adele song, that “Chasing Pavements” song. Dean smiled as he heard Cas’ voice join Adele’s. He got up and walked over to the wall with a chair. He set it next to the wall and climbed up on it to peer over.
Cas was standing in the middle of his yard, shirt off, singing away at the gathered chickens while he sprinkled some feed. “Heya, Cas.” Dean leaned onto his arms on the top of the wall.
Cas seemed startled at first, then a smile bloomed across his face. “Hey yourself, Dean.” He let the last of the feed go, and the chickens scrambled after it. “The singing bothering you?”
“Not a bit. You seem to get really into singing for your chickens.”
“I read that if you find the right song that it can soothe the savage beasts. I’m attempting to make them happy. I’m also hoping they’ll crow less at night, but, well, you’ve seen how that has worked.” Cas walked over to the wall and gazed up at him. “It’s funny looking at you up there like that.”
“Yeah, like you’re something out of a movie or something.” Castiel grinned wider and said, “Like Juliet on the balcony.”
“So I look like a preteen girl?”
“Juliet was a teenager.” Cas closed his eyes and recited, “ My child is yet a stranger in the world, She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.”
“Well, aren’t you just the scholar.”
“I read.” Cas laughed. “You also look like Juliet, minus the teen girl part.”
Dean laughed. He also cleared his throat and said, “Castiel, Castiel, wherefore art thou Castiel? Deny thy chickens and I’ll pledge you all of myself.” He laughed.
Castiel, without missing a beat turned to his chickens and said, “You’re all dead to me!” Turning back to Dean he said, “Was that enough denying?”
Dean just laughed. “Pretty sure I also just asked you why you are just Castiel. Wherefore means why.” He winked. Learned that back in the day.”
“You want to know why I have just one name?”
“Well, it’ll cost ya.” Cas winked back and wandered over to his porch.
“Name your price.”
“You got any more of those biscuits?”
“I’ll be right over.” Dean was already climbing back down into his yard as he said it. He scooped up his plate as he went back into the house. He ate the salad quickly while standing in his kitchen. It wouldn’t do to go over too hungry. He did a quick breath check and cursed himself for not stopping at the drugstore on the way home. It’s biscuits. That is not a leap that requires condoms. Calm down.
He grabbed the biscuits and wandered out as casually as he could. He passed the gate to the outside and saw the path that meandered through the thick stand of trees toward Castiel’s home. As he approached, Castiel opened the door. He leaned into the doorframe all lean and casual. He hadn’t bothered to put on a shirt.
Dean did his best to look calm. His heart beat a bass drum in his chest. He was sure that if he spoke now it would come out like a squawk. I am a confident man. I am not nervous. Dean’s eyes swooped over the whole form of him—his tight muscles in and around his abs, his tanned arms folded in front of him, his loose-fitting cotton pants that looked like miracles were all that held them up. I’m so fucked.
Dean stepped up onto the porch. “Your biscuits.” Dean held the biscuits out in front of him like an offering. Castiel looked at the biscuits then took them, nodding into his home.
Dean didn’t move right away to follow him in. Castiel seemed to notice without even having to turn around. “Close the door on your way in.” Dean rushed to catch up with him. He wandered into his kitchen, which was one of those old country kind of kitchens--a lot of cabinets all clapboard white. The appliances were dated but tidy. Castiel opened up the bundle of biscuits and put one on a plate which he then put into the microwave. “You want one too?” he asked in that deep voice that did things to Dean.
“No, I’m good.” Dean applauded himself for sounding respectable.
The microwave dinged a moment later and Castiel pulled out the plate. “Your loss.” He took a bite of the little steamy thing. He hummed his pleasure around the bite. He nodded again to the back door. “Want to sit out back with the chickens for a bit?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Castiel popped open the fridge and pulled out a bottle of beer. “Here.” Dean took it. He grabbed a second one and carried it and his plate to the back door. Dean followed.
“Wow,” Dean said as they stepped out the door. “It’s way bigger than I realized from just peaking over the wall.”
“Yeah, it wraps around a bit to the barn out there.” Castiel pulled up a chair, and Dean slipped into the one next to him. “Let me open your beer.” Dean passed the beer over to him. He pulled a keyring out of a pocket in his pants. He popped the cap off the bottle and handed it back.
“I really shouldn't be drinking this either.” Dean took a sip.
“You worry too much about things that don’t matter.” Castiel took another bite of the biscuit. “God, you should be eating these. It’s a crime to miss out on something this good.” Dean watched the way Castiel’s neck bobbed with the swallow.
Dean drank a bit more of the beer to distract himself from the looking. “I’m just glad you like it.”
Castiel set the plate aside on a little table. “Well, I guess I owe you a story.”
“A story?” Dean looked at him with a raised brow.
“For the biscuits. You wanted to know why I only had one name.”
“I think you need to eat more carbs so you remember better.” He got up and stood between Dean’s knees. He reached down and pinched off a piece of biscuit. “I swear, you might just have to come over daily for me to carb you up.” He leaned down and slipped the biscuit piece into Dean’s mouth. “Wouldn’t want that important brain to wither away.”
Dean chewed slowly and smiled up at him. “I do have much to think about. I reckon I could use some help.”
Castiel seemed pleased with that response. He picked up another piece of biscuit and brushed it over Dean’s lips. Dean, overeager, wrapped his lips around Castiel’s fingers and sucked in the morsel. “Fuck.”
“You owe me a story first.” I am not nervous.
Castiel took a step back. “I do.” He turned away from Dean and said, “I have two deadbeat parents. My mom was never in the picture and my dad did the bare minimum until I was of age.” He sighed. “I decided I didn’t want his last name. My first name was unique, so I decided that I didn’t need anything but that.”
He turned back to Dean then. “Wow.”
“Yeah, wow.” He shrugged. “Not the best story for getting in a guy’s pants. I’m not so good at this. I’ve been a bit out of practice,” Castiel said as he dipped his head to his chest.
Dean got up then and walked over to him. “You seem to be doing just fine.” He ran a hand up Castiel’s arm to his shoulder where he let it settle, giving him a little squeeze.
“Well, you got me over here with little to no effort.” Dean smiled. “What happened to the whole flirting is for people testing the waters guy?”
“Oh, him...Some guy shot him down when he was pulling out all of his best moves.”
“Well, some guy is stupid.” Dean leaned in and came close to kissing him. He lingered in the space a moment, waiting to see if Castiel would finish the move. “Real stupid.”
“He hates cocks too.” One of the roosters decided that that was the exact moment that it needed to crow at the twilight sky.
Dean laughed, a deep belly laugh. He leaned over and rested his head on Castiel’s shoulder. “Goddamn roosters.”
Castiel laughed into his neck. “Fucking cock blockers.” He stepped back and hollered over to the offending rooster. “Oberon, you have literally six days left.” Dean laughed at him again.
“So that’s the little 3:00 am nightmare.” Dean walked to the edge of the porch.
“Yeah, meet next weekend’s dinner.” Castiel waved a hand at the yard and the offending rooster.
“Well, I’m looking forward to full nights of sleep.”
Castiel leaned into him a little. Their arms lined up all warm against each other. Dean liked the way he felt, all strong and solid. “You want me to whip you up something carb-free?”
“Nah, I’m gonna head home. I really do have to get up early for work. Gotta make sure I get a few hours in before your buddy down there decides to wake me up.” Castiel looked a little disappointed. Dean reached up and ruffled his hair. Castiel looked disappointed in a different way then. Dean didn’t care. He liked the way Castiel’s hair spiked out in all directions. “You’re goddamn attractive, you know that.”
Castiel leaned into him, kissing the edge of Dean’s mouth. It began and ended so fast, Dean could almost believe that it never happened. “What should I do to get you over here tomorrow?”
“Pray for a miracle. I might even stay at the office all night. The merger goes through on Wednesday and I need to be sure all is right in the world tomorrow.”
“I’ll pray for a miracle then. I’m going to make a casserole. Come over when you get home.”
“I feel like you think miracles happen pretty easily. I’m fairly certain I won’t be home tomorrow.”
“Maybe you just need to have a little faith.” Castiel leaned in again, and this time let the kiss linger a moment longer.
“Don’t count on me, but I’ll damn sure try.” Dean glanced out at the yard. Oberon looked like he was gearing up for round two. He fluffed up his feathers and flapped his wings.
Castiel walked into the house and Dean followed. He picked up a small pad of paper off the counter in the kitchen. He wrote something on it and handed it to Dean. Dean glanced down at the rough scrawl. “My number. You can call me if a miracle doesn’t happen, so I don’t wait up. Don’t text. I don’t have a cell phone.”
“You should get a cell phone.”
“No.” Dean leaned in this time and kissed him. He pressed him back to the counter and felt the solidness of him. Castiel opened his mouth a little and let Dean press in a bit. Dean knew that much more of this and he’d be staying. He wanted to stay. He came over with some intentions after all. Now that he was here though, he knew that tomorrow would be rough enough without some small measure of sleep. Not like I’m going to be able to sleep at home after this. He kisses like a pro. Dean kept up a running dialogue with himself over the taste of Castiel, the feel of his body blooming into arousal pressed up against him.
Castiel settled his palms on Dean’s chest. Dean broke the kiss. Castiel said, “You staying?”
“I really can’t.”
“Well, then at least let me walk you out.” Castiel wrapped an arm around Dean’s waist. They walked to the door together, then Castiel had to release him. Dean took his hand and walked down the path to the gate. When they got there, Dean punched in his code, but lingered at the now open gate. “So ‘til tomorrow then.”
“Maybe, if there’s a miracle.” Dean kissed him quick and moved to his side of the gate. Castiel gave him a small wave and stepped back to his path. “Good night, Cas.”
“Good night, Dean.”
Tuesday was in fact a whirlwind of activity. Dean signed contracts, made changes to official documents, and had Sam set up the changes to the website that would go into effect the next day. It was going to be just as bad as he thought. At 7:00 he finally got up and stretched. He could hear all of his bones crackle from the disuse. Sam wandered in and said, “So, I think the changes to the site look good. You wanna take a look?”
Dean came back to his desk and Sam came over to join him. Dean started to pull up the current site. “Is it visible yet?”
“No, you’re gonna have to let me bring it up.” Sam reached over and took the keyboard. “Here.” He typed in the url, then handed back the keyboard. “So, tell me what you think.”
Dean looked at the clean design and the new logo. Sandover Adler Industrial. Dean liked the look of it. Sam had talent, and he once again thanked his lucky stars that Sam had decided to stay on at Sandover. “You deserve a raise. This looks good.” Dean pointed at the links at the bottom of the page. “These go anywhere yet?”
“They will tomorrow.” Sam practically beamed. “Here, click this one. It’s a working link.” Sam pointed.
Dean clicked it and it went to a new page. “Lookin’ good.” Dean noticed the time. “Shit. When did it get so late?”
“It’s only 7:00. Thought you were planning to camp out on the sofa,” Sam said as he waved a hand at the other end of the room.
“It’s not that. I just told Cas that I’d call him if I wasn’t going to make it home tonight.”
“Ohhhhh.” Sam gave the word all the tone of one that was trying to imply everything.
“Oh, shut up.” Dean scooped up his phone and pulled out a small paper from his pocket. “I’m sure he’s already assumed that I wouldn’t be making it.”
“You want me to step out while you call him?” Sam started getting up.
“No, it’ll just be a sec.” Dean unfolded the paper and started dialing the number written there. He lifted the phone to his ear.
A moment and a couple of rings later and Castiel answered. “Hello.”
“Ah, damn. I guess this means that we didn’t get our miracle.”
“Sorry Cas. I could probably leave for home in a bit, but honestly, I wouldn’t get home until after 9:00. That’s a bit too late for dinner, I reckon.” Dean felt the disappointment that was in his voice.
“Maybe. You eat something already?” He could hear Cas shuffling around.
“No, I’m gonna get something from the market in a few minutes.”
“You’re really going to stay the night there?”
“That’s the plan.” Dean held the phone out and said, “Say hi, Sam.”
“Hi, Cas,” Sam said.
“Where do you work again?”
“Sandover,” Dean said.
“On my way with dinner then. Got a number I can call when I get there?”
“Cas, you don’t need to do that. It’s bad enough that I made you think a miracle could happen.”
“Dean, I’m driving out there. Now you can either wait for me to show up and start hollering up at windows, or you can give me your number.” Dean gave him his number.
He hung up and just stared at his phone. “So Cas is coming down,” Sam asked, a small smile ticking up at the edges of his lips.
“Yeah. He thinks I’m not eating enough carbs.”
Sam laughed. “So he’s bringing you a ton of carbs?”
Dean had to laugh too. “I think so. He said he made a casserole.”
“You got it bad if he’s getting you to eat carbs.” Sam laughed again.
“Well, truth be told, I think I started finding him interesting when he started singing to his roosters.”
“You would go for a guy that sings to cocks.”
Dean picked up a small stress ball he had on his desk and threw it at Sam’s head. Sam had quick reflexes though and caught it. “Aren’t you glad you got me to stay on here? You’d never have this much fun with someone else, you know.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Dean slid back closer to his desk, and looked like he was going to be diving back into his work. “You should go home and get some rest. You’ve put in a long day, and tomorrow’s going to be no better.”
“Says the guy that’s planning to sleep in his office.”
Dean rolled his shoulder into a shrug. “You haven’t tried the pull-out on that thing. It’s memory foam. It’s not half bad.”
“It’s still a sofa.”
“Not everyone gets to have it so easy.” Dean smirked.
Sam got up and wandered toward the door. “Have fun with all of that.” Sam waved his hand over the desk. “Looks like you’re close to done though.”
“Yeah, I really only have to read through about 50 more pages. Doable.” Sam waved and went out into the hall. Dean listened to his steps retreating into the darkness. They use to walk each other out, back when they worried more about the way the old building had its share of creepiness. Time and no further occurrences gave them peace, and a return to normalcy. They did though keep a fair number of iron items laying around just in case. They also each had a measure of confidence in their ability when it came to ghosts.
Dean settled into the quiet. He read through the pages slowly so that he could really absorb the information. The merger was perhaps one of the smoothest ever to be handled by any two companies. Dean was proud of that fact. Just as he made his way through the last page, his phone started ringing. “I’m here.”
“Where’s here?” Dean got up and looked out his window at the parking lot below, as if he’d see anything from so high up.
“I’m across the way at a Gas-n-Sip. They had a pay phone.”
Dean moved back to his desk and rummaged in a drawer for his keys. “I’m heading down to the lobby. Just come up to the door, and I’ll let you in.”
“See you then.” Castiel hung up on that note, and Dean headed out the door. He locked up his office and flicked on a few lights as he went. It didn’t need to be so dark after all. The rows of empty offices and cubicles told him that he really was working way to hard. He smiled though at all that he’d accomplished. This was practically his. The company had increased both in productivity and revenue since he’d been moved into Zachariah’s old job.
Once he was in the elevator, he started thinking about Castiel. The guy had just driven across town, a good half hour drive, just to bring him some food. Dean thought about what he’d said about his name too. The guy came out rather well, seeing as he didn’t have much in the way of an upbringing. Two deadbeat parents, yikes.
The elevator opened, and Dean stepped out into the hall that went to the lobby. He strolled out of the space and past the security desk. “Hey, Roger.”
“Mr. Smith. Hello. Heading home?”
“No, just letting in a friend. I’m likely staying here tonight, so I can get through the last of the merger work.”
Roger nodded, then got up to walk with him to the door. “Will I be letting your friend out later?”
“I’ll walk him back down, so likely.” Dean could see Castiel walking over from across the vast expanse of concrete that made up the promenade in front of the building. “That’s him.” Dean pointed.
Roger started unlocking the door. Castiel stopped and waited for the door to open. Roger finished and keyed in a code on the side panel. He opened the door. “Welcome to Sandover,” Roger said.
“Well, thanks.” Castiel stepped in. Dean reached out and took the basket that Cas was toting.
“I smell food.” Dean held it up to his nose. “I’m starving.”
“Well, this should help with that.”
“Thanks Roger. See you in a bit,” Dean said as he reached out to Castiel, steering him toward the elevator.
“I’ll be here,” Roger replied.
“Big place. You run all of this?” Castiel asked.
“Yup. Been the CEO since the prior guy up and left.”
“Oh.” Castiel sounded concerned, maybe. Dean wasn’t sure about the tone. They got off the elevator and Castiel just stood, staring at all of the rows of cubicles and offices. “This is bigger than the Chrysler building.”
“No, that building is way bigger.” They walked down the hall toward Dean’s office. Dean unlocked his door and ushered Castiel in. “Welcome to my home away from home.”
Cas walked right up to the windows. “It’s so high. You can almost see home from here.”
“On a clear day you kind of can. I’ve been here so long I forget to appreciate the view.” The cityscape was pretty at night. The river that snaked through the city was sparkling with the glow of streetlights that lined the walking trail alongside of it. The cars below flowed down the streets, a constant stream of lights showing the grid of it all. “Would it be rude of me to want to dive right into whatever food this is in this basket?”
“Oh, not a bit.” Castiel turned from the window and took the basket from him. “Where will you be eating?”
“I usually eat at my desk, but we could eat at the sofa there with the table.” Dean pointed at the sofa in the corner.
“That might be nice. Then you won’t feel like you’re working for at least a few minutes.” Castiel walked over to the sofa with the basket. He started pulling out some carefully wrapped plates and what looked like a checkered table cloth. He unfolded the cloth and shook it out. He then draped it over the table.
“Wow, Cas. You really come prepared. You got candles and shit in there too?”
And as if on cue, he pulled out two candles wedged into two small metal candle sticks. He set them on the cloth and unwrapped the food. “I always come prepared.”
“This is above and beyond the call of duty.” Castiel pulled a lighter out of his pocket and flicked it to life. He leaned over and lit the two candles. “A guy could get use to this.”
“I use to live in a rather unusual commune type of community. We had what we needed, but luxuries were not part of the equation. We learned to make what we had special. I learned that a little candle light could make a lot of things much more stunning than they were under a traditional lamp.” He settled into the sofa next to Dean and waved his hands over the food saying, “Bon appetit, Dean.”
Castiel was right. It all looked a little magical under the flickering lights of the candles. “I think you might just like me a bit.” Dean gave Castiel a wink and picked up his fork to start eating. “And this is not a casserole. This is lasagna.” Dean took a bite. “And this is heaven.” The rich tomato flavor and the punch of garlic rolled over his tongue. There was cheese in abundance and a bit of green that he was sure was spinach.
“It is a dish that I excel at. I also thought that you might not view it in the negative way that you’d likely view casserole. I’m pretty sure that all casseroles are made from just carbs.”
“This isn’t exactly carb-free,” Dean said around a mouthful.
“Well, I added spinach to it to off-set any complaints you might have. This is an entirely healthy lasagna.”
“You are an entirely bad liar.” Dean scooped up another bite. “I don’t care though. Tell me more about this commune life that you lived.”
“Oh, uh…” Castiel reached into the basket and pulled out a bottle of wine. He fussed about uncorking it. “I don’t think that tale is enjoyable.”
“No, just odd. I was a different person there. I was much more jaded. I drowned my troubles in things and stuff.”
Castiel got the bottle open. He was about to pour it into some glasses, when Dean stopped him. “You gotta let it breathe first. Looks like you have a Pinot there. Trust me, it’ll taste better in about 15 minutes.”
“Oh, I know nothing about wine beyond the fact that this lady at the farmer’s market trades me this for eggs.”
“So about this whole business of troubles getting drowned in things and stuff…” Dean tipped his head to the side a little as he sort of asked with his tone.
“You really don’t want to hear about that, I promise.” Castiel took a too large bite.
Dean leaned back a bit into the couch. “Funny thing. The other day, Sam was saying I should get to know you better. He thinks I don’t get out there with people. He thinks I’m setting myself up for a solitary life. He’s not wrong. It’s been ages since I went out on a date, or set myself on a path that could even lead to one. Then you just sort of showed up, and now here we are.”
“So you are saying?”
“I’m saying that I want to know more about you. I promise, it’s not gonna send me running.” Castiel raised a skeptical brow. “Well, you can tell me some things that might send me running, but I doubt it.”
Castiel seemed to think about it for a brief spell. Then he said, “When I was old enough to make my own way in the world, I ended up in a commune. I liked their ways. They were all free love, free drugs, free everything. I partook in anything that was offered to me. Lived that way for a time, like it was the end of the world, and I needed to do everything all at once before I couldn’t do anything any more.”
“That’s not so sustainable.”
“Yeah.” Castiel picked up the wine and poured it into his glass. He took a sip. Dean gave him a nod and he poured some for Dean too. It hadn't breathed nearly enough, but Dean didn't care. “I don’t remember a lot about my time there. It was a blur. There was fighting and eventually I lost someone that came to matter to me a great deal.”
Dean reached over to him. He set a hand on his leg and gave it a squeeze. “I’m sorry, Cas.”
Castiel glanced at him, a half formed smile that was more melancholy than pleased took up residence. “It’s in the past. I left there. Came here. I had some money that came to me via my deadbeat dad. Normally, I wouldn’t want to take anything from him, but I needed to start over. So I used his money to buy the land that is next to yours. When I bought the place, there was nothing around for miles. Then your little suburb came along.”
“Guess having me right up alongside your home is not the rural living you wanted.”
“I’ve learned to adjust. The views an improvement.” Castiel’s grin widened with the words.
“Yeah, my giant wall is lovely to behold, I’m sure.” Dean rolled his eyes.
“Dean, I was talking about you.” Castiel rolled his eyes right back. “The view...of my hot neighbor...my hot cock hating neighbor.”
Dean felt the heat flutter up to his cheeks. “I’m doomed to look like an idiot literally every time you say ‘cock.’”
Castiel leaned toward him and let the word whisper over his lips, “cock.”
Dean pushed toward him, letting his lips drag over the bolt of his jaw. “You’re gonna be the death of me.”
Castiel pulled back. “How so?”
“Seems I’m around you for five minutes and all my blood runs off to my face and…” Dean stopped abruptly. “Yeah, well you get the picture.”
“So, you’re saying that I have an effect on you.” Castiel leaned in again. “Is it just when I talk about my cocks or is it at other times too?”
Dean felt the scrape of Castiel’s day’s growth of peach fuzz rubbing past his cheek. There was a question. Shit, there was a question. “I remember liking your voice, when you talked to Balthazar.”
“You liked when I talked to my cock then?” Dean could feel Castiel smiling into his neck as he dragged his face lower, nibbling a little as he went.
“Like I said, you’ll be the death of me at this rate.”
Castiel leaned away again and looked him over. “You do know that no one ever died from enjoying carnal pleasures.”
Dean laughed. “You realize that you have a way of making farming filthy and sex an exercise in abstract vocabulary.”
“Are you critiquing my use of the words carnal pleasure or cock?”
“Both.” Dean laughed again. “Also, pretty sure some have died from intensely hot sex.”
“You think this is going to be intensely hot sex?”
“It’s a given,” Dean said as he reached out to Castiel and brushed back his long mop of hair.
“We aren’t going to have sex in your office, Castiel said.
Dean slid his hand down Castiel’s chest to the bottom of his stomach. Castiel watched him do this. He held his breath as Dean’s hand made progress. “If you say so.” Dean leaned in and kissed him, pulling his bottom lip into his mouth. Castiel surged forward pushing Dean back into the couch. Dean’s hand was trapped between them. He could feel Castiel’s hardness trapped with his hand.
“We really aren’t going to have sex in your office,” Castiel said again as he rolled his hips into Dean’s hand. Dean flexed his fingers a bit to give him more friction.
“God, Cas. Yeah.” Dean rolled his hips against the back of his hand. It was erratic, and hot as sin. He wanted more. He was able to angle his lips into Castiel’s shoulder. “Let me move my hand.” He sucked into the skin nearest him. Castiel pulled his hips up a little, and Dean moved his hand into Castiel’s ever loose fitting pants. “You don’t wear underwear.”
“I tend to avoid too many layers.” Dean got a hold of him, and talking ceased. Dean gripped him tight and jacked him to a moaning completion. Castiel slumped over on him and seemed to notice then that Dean was not entirely done. He leaned back and reached down to Dean’s pants.
“Thought we weren’t having sex in my office.” Dean smirked. Castiel unzipped him with a little help, pushed down his slacks and boxer briefs.
“We aren’t. This is a preview.”
“Pretty sure this is sex.” Castiel’s hand found him and closed around him. He was more than a little far gone already, but this was enough to get him to the finish line.
“This is just a handy preview.” Dean laughed and would have kept on laughing if Castiel’s grip on him didn’t feel so amazing. He gave Dean’s dick a little twist and kept up the rhythm.
“Fuck Cas. This is so sex.”
Castiel leaned forward and kissed him. “I like the way you say my name, like you’re just praying to have me on your tongue.” He pushed his body up against Dean’s and kept stroking him between them.
“I would like that.”
“Me, in your mouth?”
“Yes,” Dean barely breathed out the word. The thought of it though, coupled with Castiel’s relentless ministrations, sent him bucking up and over the edge. Castiel slipped down to the side of Dean on the sofa and threw a leg over him.
“That was certainly enjoyable.” He tipped his head back and smiled at Dean.
Dean looked back down at him. “That was intensely hot sex.”
“If you say so.” Castiel smiled and pressed a kiss to Dean’s still clothed chest.
“What, you didn’t like it?” Dean sat up a little.
“It was intensely hot and entirely enjoyable.” Castiel got up then. He started to clean up a bit and rummaged around on the floor for his pants. “I just want to make sure that you know that this was not sex. I intend to showcase the difference in the very near future.”
“This was sex.”
“I suppose we just define things differently.”
Dean got up then and started cleaning up a bit. He pulled his pants back on. “How would you define sex?”
Castiel came to him. He stood close, then closer. Dean felt himself leaning back against the wall. Castiel leaned in close to his ear, kissed him just below it. Dean’s dick gave a half hearted throb of interest. Too bad we’re old buddy. Castiel whispered into his ear, “Since you seemed to enjoy the preview, maybe you’d like to let me illustrate the difference this weekend.”
“I have to wait ‘til the weekend?” Dean tried not to sound disappointed.
Castiel pulled his face away from Dean’s neck, but he kept his body pressed against him. He brought his hands up and threaded his fingers into the short hair on either side of Dean’s face. “You are beautiful.” He kissed Dean, in a way that felt intimate, and tasted of affection. “I almost want to call off the trip to the Roseland market tomorrow. It’s a two day deal. I could make it happen Friday, but I selfishly want a whole day to lay in a bed with you.”
“Then Saturday it is.” Dean ran his hands around Castiel’s waist. He held him there and just looked at him. “Funny.”
“I feel like I know you. I don’t though. I mean, we’ve only known each other for all of three days.”
“Just three days?” Castiel looked at him like he didn’t believe him.
“Yeah, unless you count the days that I spent hating your cock.” They both laughed. Dean looked serious again though and added, “You ever think that maybe people meet, like in another life, and they’re just destined to meet in every universe?”
“That sounds like some grade A hippie talk, Dean Smith. You sure you’re a corporate guy?”
“Yeah, I know. I didn’t always think like this. Last year changed that. Long story. Remind me to tell you sometime when we haven’t just,” Dean raised his hands and made air quotes, “not had sex in my office.”
Castiel laughed at him. “I’ll hold you to it.”
“Deal.” Dean kissed him to seal the deal and they lingered like that, against the wall, until enough time had passed that he was sure he could hold the moment for the rest of his life. Despite being a very convincing man in his daily life, Dean did not convince Cas that staying in his office for the night was a good idea. He did linger though, well past when he claimed he’d be leaving. And when he did finally head home, it was with a repeated promise that the weekend would be theirs to enjoy most fully.
Thank you all for reading it. It was longer than I thought it would be. Hopefully it all made sense. I'm adding a title card to the first chapter, just in case you were wanting to see that:)
“Sam,” Dean asked after ten full minutes of silence and half of his lunch was consumed.
“Yeah,” Sam said around a mouthful of sandwich.
“You ever tell anyone about,” Dean set down his sandwich and drummed at the desk a little. “Nevermind.”
“About the haunting of Sandover? About us kicking ass?” Sam watched Dean for a response. Dean nodded. “Nah. Who’d I tell? Not like there’s many openers for that story. ‘Sides I got you to reminisce with.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s enough.” Dean got up and walked to the window. The merger had gone off without a hitch. The website that Sam modernized and updated looked great. All and all everything was pretty close to perfect. Ms. Talbot took up residence in an office down the hall, and she seemed to be settling in nicely given that the merger had only been in place for a day. All of Wednesday had been meetings which were designed to make everything feel rather celebratory. It didn’t even seem to bother anyone that the Sandover name was now tied to the Adler name, or that the Adler name was tied to Zachariah. Dean wondered why no one questioned it, but felt that maybe it was just his memories and Sam’s that made it more relevant.
Sam interrupted his thoughts. “Is Cas coming back tomorrow?”
“Yeah. I made the mistake of wandering over to his house the other day after work. I thought that his chickens would need feed or company, I don’t know. Turns out he had a guy there watching over the little buggers. He said he’d shoot me if I came on the property again.”
“Yikes, well, glad he didn’t shoot you. Maybe next time Cas can warn the guy.” Sam came over and stood at his side. He looked at him in that way that Sam had that said, ‘should I be worried about you.’ “You want to tell him about the weird stuff we saw last year, huh?”
“Maybe. I just feel like what happened here, it mattered. The stuff that came from it matters too.” Dean ran a hand back up through his hair, then leaned into his arm up against the window.
“You ever remember any of what happened after, in the in between time?” Sam asked.
“No. I’d have told you right away.” Sam leaned into the window frame across from Dean.
“Same,” Dean said. “I think it’s strange that no one questions any of it. They just accepted all of it, the deaths, Zach leaving…” Dean stopped. He looked at Sam. “He said something before he disappeared.”
“He said a lot before he disappeared.”
“Yeah, but some of it was important.” Dean sighed. “He said something about how I get to do more than move the dirt it takes to bury me, or something like that. Then he said that I was meant for more, that I was meant to save the world.”
“Well, that’s why we do the weekend thing,” Sam said.
“Yeah, but what if that’s not enough?”
“What we gonna quit our jobs and take long road trips hunting monsters, Dean? I just don’t see that. We make good money here, money that funds our heroics.” Sam pushed off from the window frame. “Speaking of, we need to be planning another trek. I saw a couple of articles that sound like our kind of thing.”
“Yeah. Not this weekend though.”
“Cas plans.” Dean moved away from the window too. “I need to tell him. I think it might matter somehow.”
Sam studied him a moment then asked, “Do you think it matters the way that it mattered before?”
“What do you mean?” Dean asked.
“It’s just that we both felt connected, like we both had insight into what was going on in Sandover. Are you feeling like Cas is connected to all of this, to the supernatural world?”
“I don’t know. I just know that I feel like I’ve known him for way more than a week. There’s a connection between us that feels…” Dean squeezed the bridge of his nose and squinted his eyes a bit as he looked for the word. “It feels like a very profound bond.”
Sam laughed then said, “Save it for the health club, pal.”
Dean raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”
“It’s what you said to me back when I said that you seemed familiar last year. You thought I was hitting on you. Remember?”
Dean laughed a little. “Oh yeah, I remember that. You were creepy. I was thinking, great, now this guy is gonna ride up 22 levels with me.”
“Well, I was right. There was something between us.”
“Still sounds creepy man.” Dean clapped him on the shoulder. “I feel like Zach told us the point of it all before he left, but that the leaving took away some of that knowledge.”
“I was thinking that merging the company with his daughter’s company might make things resurface. I mean Bela hasn’t said much about dear old dad, but he’s part of this. He’s an Adler and so’s she after all.”
Dean rocked back on his heels a bit. “Well, she got herself a new name. She kept his name on the company, but it says something that she didn’t keep the name for herself. She goes by Talbot, and she’s not married.”
“Yeah, I noticed that.” Sam started cleaning up the remains of the lunch. “So how does Cas connect?”
Dean went back to the window and looked out. “I don’t know. I just know that when I look at him, I see something more than a strange hippie that likes roosters.”
“Cocks,” Sam said all deadpan.
“Asshole.” Dean turned back to him. “I was being serious.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” Sam laughed though.
“It’s in his eyes. It’s like I’ve been staring at them forever. Sometimes, I swear they glow,” Dean confessed.
“Hmm,” Sam tipped his head back a bit. “Maybe you should tell him about last year then. Worst that’ll happen is he’ll tell you you’re crazy.”
“I don’t think it’ll go that way. I feel like I’m onto something.” Dean felt the confidence swell in him as he made his decision. He was going to tell Castiel everything.
“Let me know if you need back up on this. I’d come by and fill in the gaps, vouch for you too.”
“Maybe on Sunday, when he has us all over for Oberon dinner.”
“Sounds good.” Sam clapped him on the shoulder and turned for the door. “Don’t over think it. We’ll get to the bottom of what happened then and what it means for now. In between it all, we’ll just keep doing what we do.”
“I hope so. I actually do.” Dean watched as Sam stepped out and closed the door between them. Dean felt that he really did have a lot to think about. After all, how did one tell a story of ghosts and hauntings and the things that go bump in the night? It was one thing to say, I believe in things that I can’t see, and another thing entirely to describe epic battles with a ghost that actually killed people. Dean took a deep breath and said to the empty room, “God I hope you believe me.”
Sometimes Dean would dream very vividly. In the months after he and Sam took out the Sandover ghost, Dean had trouble actually getting through the night. He dreamed that he and Sam were brothers. He dreamed that there were demons that had to be fought and killed. He dreamed that Lucifer walked the earth.
He also dreamed in blue—blue like water and wide Kansas skies. He died in some dreams, and often would be raised up and back to life. His dreams took many wild turns. In them, Zachariah told him that he had to do his part. Dean wondered what that meant.
Sometimes he thought that he and Sam took up weekend hunting because of the dreams. Dean had told Sam about them, and Sam, not surprisingly, had told him that his own dreams followed a similar course. They both spent time discussing it, only to come to the conclusion that they could do more. Perhaps it was their part to protect people from the things that went bump in the night. Maybe it was their part to do something, even if it was small.
They learned of more than ghosts that year. They learned how to fight vampires. Yeah, those actually exist. They learned to fight creatures that could shift into new forms, talking on the appearance of someone else. They also learned about dealing with a woman in white case. The Sandover haunting felt simple after that.
The dreams never let up though. Dean visited a psychic, who gave him some line about being destined for something. It felt made up. She did give him some candles though, and advice on meditation. Dean figured it couldn’t hurt. So now he regularly lit the candles and let the scent of them focus his attentions. He would close his eyes and sift through the past in the hopes that he could see what was now missing—the things that were now holes in his memory, the things stolen by dear old Zach.
Dean came home early on Friday and prepared for his meditation. His mind had been all clouded up with images of battles and losses. He pulled a blanket out of the cabinet in his hall and spread it out on the floor in his bedroom. He got out his candles and set them up. He lit them and took a seat on the rug.
Dean let the flickering orange glow take all of his focus. Eventually, he closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, held it, then let it out in a long slow exhale. Normally, this would be where the visions would sweep in, taking over his thoughts. He was interrupted by a knock on his door though.
He opened his eyes and got up slowly. He left the candles burning. It would likely just be brief. He walked out to the living room and to the door. Dean opened it to a very happy looking Castiel. “So you are home,” Castiel said, by way of greeting.
“Just got back. Was doing a little meditating.”
Castiel looked at him like he was parsing those words. Then he asked, “Why didn’t you come over?”
“Wasn’t sure if you were back yet. Didn’t want your house sitter to shoot me.”
“Oh, shit. Sorry. I should have told him you were welcome there.” Castiel stepped into Dean’s house. “So, meditating?”
“Yes. It’s something I do pretty regularly. I’m trying to recover memories.” It was the beginnings of a confession.
Castiel reached out to him, running his hand up Dean’s arm. “Is it something I could do with you?”
“Not sure. You’d have to make a conscious effort toward not jumping my bones. I know how difficult that’ll be for you.” Dean’s lips curled up into a little half grin.
Castiel leaned in and kissed him lightly before saying, “I don’t know how I’ll contain myself, but I’ll try.”
Dean took his hand and guided him back to the bedroom. The glow of the candles coupled with Castiel’s warm presence made the room seem magical, and a bit romantic. His bed was right there. They could forego the meditation and go for a different form of communing.
Dean decided that the meditation needed to happen though. He knelt down in front of the candles and Castiel did the same. Dean said, “So, I usually look at the candles. I focus on just them and my breathing. I close my eyes and then just concentrate entirely on breathing deeply in and out. I let my mind wander over the images of the past, over things that never were. In time, I hope to make sense of it all, but for now it’s just about the experience of having the thoughts in my head.”
“You said you’re trying to recover memories?” Castiel folded his legs under himself. He looked like he was naturally suited for all of this.
“Yes, I have gaps in my past, things that I know are important, but my mind won’t let me access those things.”
“Then how do you know that there is something missing?” Castiel asked the question that Dean had asked himself a thousand times. In the end he didn’t have a good answer.
“It’s a feeling. Sam feels it too. We are both missing gaps of time. The gaps are the same. Like if we tell a story from a year ago, the same parts are missing. There’s something to that.” Dean felt like there was too much to explain. He wondered if Castiel would ask any more questions. The glow of the candlelight on him made him look serious. It highlighted his cheekbones and punched up shadows beneath his very blue eyes.
Castiel stared at him a moment, then said, “I have gaps of time that are missing too, time from when I was in the commune.” He took a deep breath. “I told myself it was PTSD from losing someone that mattered. Truth be told, I don’t remember much at all from then, just vague cloudy places, people without faces or names. Whenever I think about it, my mind fills up with bodies and sex and a confusion of sorts. It’s like it was another world, a place made of nightmares. It could have been all the drugs. I was a mess. I was drowning in everything.”
Dean reached out and took Castiel’s hands in his. He held them gently between them, smoothed over his knuckles with his thumbs. “Maybe this can help. Do you remember any names or details?”
“In this moment right now, no.” Castiel squeezed Dean’s hands back. “That should be a big deal. Instead I’ve just been comfortable living with this.”
Dean could see the beginnings of panic forming in Castiel’s eyes. “Breathe with me, Cas. Let’s see if we can’t put ourselves back together a little.” Normally he’d focus on the candles. This time though, Dean just focused on Castiel’s eyes. He was struck again by how blue they were, how familiar they seemed, like he’d been drowning in them for years. Dean’s breathing hitched a little. Castiel stared at him, his eyes darting to the bob of Dean’s throat as he swallowed.
Castiel matched Dean’s breathing. Dean held his breathe and then let it out slowly a few moments later. Castiel focused on his eyes. Dean focused on just Castiel. He thought Castiel’s eyes were glowing, but that was a vision, a memory. The visions became stronger, almost blotting out what was right in front of him. Castiel was a warrior a fighter with a single blade that he wielded with great skill. They were fighting side by side. There were creatures, large mouths and teeth angling for them both. Dean and Castiel were covered in dark black ichor and deep crimson blood.
Dean’s breathing was coming in sharper gasps, and his hands tightened around Castiel’s. The vision shifted to a large warehouse. Dean was standing outside of it. There were roses, he could almost smell them. Castiel stood off to the side. Dean could hear him, not in the vision, but in the room. “No, no, no. Dean, no.”
Dean walked into the space between the roses. Sam stepped up to him, words forming on his lips that Dean could not hear. He wore a white suit, so crisp that it almost hurt to look at it. There was movement, a fight maybe. Castiel’s no’s kept flooding the moment. Then Sam reached out to Dean and broke his neck. He was dead, and yet he was seeing it all. Sam was gone. Castiel was pulling him into his lap, cradling his head. He kept repeating the no, no, no mantra. His tears fell onto Dean’s face.
The vision shifted, and they were not among the roses. Dean was standing close to Castiel, but not this Castiel. This one wore far more clothes. He settled his hand on his shoulder and just stared into his eyes.
The world twisted. Zachariah was saying something about how it all mattered, how they had to do more than just steam lattes or something like that. Dean felt the moment unspool a little. He’s an angel. Dean somehow remembered. “You’ve got daddy issues,” Zach said.
Dean tried to grasp that. His father had been dead forever. Bobby was the only father he really knew. Dean felt Castiel’s thumbs stroke over his hands. He focused again on filling the gaps, following the conversation to its end. Zachariah added, “You drive classic cars and fornicate with women.” Castiel laughed. “This isn’t a curse. It’s a gift.”
Dean realized now that he and Castiel were seeing the same things. This never happened when he and Sam meditated. Then he heard Castiel say, “Dean Winchester,” and Dean’s eyes snapped open. He hadn’t even realized that they were closed.
“Cas?” Castiel sat still in front of him, eyes closed. Dean reached up and cupped his cheek. “Cas?”
He opened his eyes. “You were my great loss,” were the first words out of Castiel’s mouth.
“I saw that. How can that be? We just met, right?” Dean felt a thin blanket of fear crawling up his spine. A cock crowed, likely Balthazar. Castiel crawled over to him and into Dean’s lap. He nuzzled into Dean’s neck. It wasn’t sexual. It was comfort. Dean wrapped his arms around Castiel and held him.
The words were muffled and tickled a little when they washed over Dean’s neck. “I lost you so many times, but that was the one that ruined me. Zachariah pulled us into that world and just let us live there for years. You were an asshole, but I loved you so fiercely.”
“And Sam was there, but not Sam.”
“He was.” Castiel’s breathing came in short stops and starts like something that was stabbing him. “Lucifer wore him like a three dollar suit, and used his body to inflict an even greater hurt. He killed you, knowing how your last moment would be even more painful. He did it knowing how it would kill me to watch my friend kill the man that I loved.”
“So it was real?” Dean didn’t know how Castiel could answer that. He couldn’t be sure that there even was an answer.
“I was an angel. I fell. Zachariah was an angel. You made good on your promise. You stabbed him in the face. He’s dead.” Castiel leaned away so he could look at Dean.
“I remember that.” Dean paused then. He watched Castiel’s face, the little crinkles at the edges of his eyes, the way his hair fell down over his forehead a little. Dean licked his lips and said, “You didn’t love me. I was your charge, your duty.”
“You were wrong. I loved you in every universe even if I didn’t say the words or do a good job of showing it.” Castiel reached up and cupped Dean’s face in his palm. The memories were all there, and also still forming like he was living out all the lives at once. Somehow, with Castiel, he’d unlocked the barriers that had kept it all separate.
His phone buzzed on the nightstand. They got up and Dean went to it. Sam’s name was on the screen. Dean answered. “Memories. Fuck,” Sam said.
Sam sounded like he was having trouble breathing. “Shit, Dean. You’re my fucking brother.”
“Not even from another mother.”
“No, that’d be Adam.”
Dean remembered that now too. “Shit. Where’s he?”
“Hell, I think.”
“Damn.” Dean turned to Castiel, who came to his side and set a hand on his shoulder. It was familiar, and comforting all at once. “What do we do?”
“I don’t know.” Sam sounded as confused as Dean felt.
“Cas?” Dean said his name like a question. He was sure that somehow he would just know.
Dean turned on the speakerphone for Sam to hear. “Castiel is there? He knows?”
“Yeah.” Dean said to Castiel, “What should we do now?”
Castiel, tipped his head to the side and slowly a smile spread over his face. “We just live. It’s all we can do. It’s what we’re here for.” Dean stared at him, and wondered what that would mean. How do they live with all of this, in a world that wasn’t even real...maybe?
“Sam?” Dean asked.
“He’s right, Dean. I mean, what else can we do?”
“So, we just keep on doing the 9-5 thing and the weekend hunts?” Dean asked.
“And at the end of the day you go home to your super ex-angel turned cock farmer boyfriend and have the apple pie life,” Sam said.
Dean turned his vision back to Castiel. “That’s a lot to process.” Dean looked at Castiel and wanted to ask him again, what they should do. He didn’t ask, but that didn’t seem to matter. Castiel could read him without the words.
Castiel smiled. “I think it’s been made abundantly clear what path I’m on.”
“I’m hanging up guys. We’ll talk more later. It sounds like you all have some of your own sorting to do first though.” Dean could practically hear Sam smiling as he said the next part, “Talk to you later brother.”
“Brother,” Dean repeated. Then they hung up. As they did, Castiel moved closer to Dean. He pressed him back against the dresser. He tangled his arms around him. “Cas?”
“I’m worried that you think things have changed. They haven’t.” He kissed Dean full on the lips. It took Dean a moment to catch up, a moment in which his brain did weird things like have a tiny panic, scream WHOA, Cas is kissing me , and then the remembering of all the times he wanted just this. They’d done this plenty of times in the last week, done more than just kiss. It was sex. Even now Dean’s brain was arguing.
Then he kissed him back. He gripped that flimsy blue shirt and pulled him close. He let Castiel’s tongue sweep in and claim him. He held him and remembered the countless times he’d wanted to do this before, in other lives and times and places. It was always there, though, the longing for this, for Cas.
Castiel lifted him and carried him to the bed. He laid him down flat and framed Dean with his arms and then his thighs. He stared down at him, like it was the first time he was really seeing Dean. “You really want this life?” Dean had to know. The question and the doubt wasn’t this Dean’s, not Dean Smith’s. It was born of the other Dean’s, the many Winchester versions, and even the one that went by an entirely different name, Jensen. The doubt had rolled through him, powerfully like storm waves.
Castiel raked his hand through Dean’s hair. “Even with all your doubts, don’t you see past that? Don’t you see me, as I was, as I am. I’m just yours Dean. I have always been just yours. And you, Dean, in every life, every moment, you’re everything.”
And Dean believed him. Time passed and they lived in each other’s arms, in the bed, the glow of candles illuminating the little room in which they found each other again. Dean kissed him past shuddering gasps and moans of contentment. Castiel undressed him with a tenderness that belied his desires.
When Castiel finally pressed his body into Dean, rolled their hips together and whispered words of love and affection, Dean finally believed him. Castiel loved him, and he showed it with each movement of their bodies, each shaky breath as they touched. Castiel’s hands gripped his sides, like he wanted to be sure never to lose him again. Dean pushed himself up from the mattress to kiss him. He missed his mouth and landed on the edge of his jaw.
“I love you,” Dean said, then he repeated it again and again to make up for all the times he never said it before. “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
Castiel kissed the words from his lips. They drowned in each other, their bodies rolling through the joy of it all. And when they each fell over the edge, they still held onto each other, still wanting to know that neither of them would ever be without the other. And time passed, and with it came comfort, and something akin to peace.
At 3:00 am the cock crowed. Dean noticed that Castiel was not in his bed. He got up and wandered out to the kitchen. He still didn’t see him. The crowing was still happening. It didn’t sound like Oberon’s distinctive crowing. It sounded like Balthazar. Dean stepped out onto the back porch and heard Castiel singing to the bird. “Near far, wherever you are..” He sang quietly. Dean grabbed a chair and propped it up next to the wall. He climbed up. At first he just leaned against the top of the wall and watched Castiel sing.
The moonlight seemed to almost sparkle through the trees. It illuminated the land, the little specks of feed, and the whole of Castiel’s face. Dean wondered why he was trying out the Titanic song again. He knew it failed before. Balthazar didn’t look like he was itching for a fight though, and Castiel was not singing at full volume.
The song was the same, but the singing was gentle and soothing. It was like everything was finally making sense. Dean climbed down and decided to go to him. He walked out front past the fountain and the gate. He made his way down the meandering path through the trees to Castiel’s home. He entered without knocking. He made his way to his side, just like he always had and always would.
Castiel kept singing. He took Dean’s hand though. Balthazar and Oberon strutted around the yard. They seemed happy. Neither one would be filling a stew pot. Castiel sang all the way to the last words. The song like their lives was repeated, but with different results. Dean smiled at Castiel, and knew that this time, in this world, their song might just go on differently.
Oberon crowed now. “You still hate my cock?” Castiel asked with a smirk.
“Nah, they grow on you.” Dean leaned over and kissed him. “We won’t be eating them.” Castiel smiled and nodded at that. Dean stared into Castiel’s eyes, and was certain that this was everything, the apple pie life he’d been craving in every universe, cocks and all.