“I hate this goddamn place“.
“And if I have to hear this again, I’ll take away your privileges as my handmaiden” Charlie threatened him.
Dean sighed as his shoulders dropped.
“I’m sorry. You know I don’t mean it. It’s just... why does he have to be such a dick?”
“You have seen the show. It’s his gimmick”.
Dean could have argued that of course he didn’t watch The Snarky Chef. Why should he? He certainly wasn’t going to help give the guy good ratings...
Only that she knew he had watched every episode. Several times.
Fergus Crowley was just pretty entertaining on camera, alright? Yeah, he was a jerk, but as a chef himself, Dean could say that most contestants deserved it anyway.
He was also pretty easy on the eyes but Dean would rather have bit off his tongue than admitted to that.
Especially because he had to live with that eyesore of a restaurant across the street from his own.
While he could see why some would think he’d gone a bit overboard, calling it “Pie Heaven” and specialising in sweets, he didn’t think he deserved this.
Savoury & Savoury, the sign proudly announced, even with a tagline underneath: “Nothing sweet to be found here”.
He knew of course that it wasn’t a reply to his own place. No, Chef Crowley just happened to hate sweets for some reason, as everyone who’d ever watched one episode knew.
Dean didn’t think he’d liked even one dessert he’d been presented with over ten seasons, and that was saying something. He himself wasn’t keen on salads, but he could appreciate well made food.
“It’s just... Why even have this chain? I mean he must know not everyone in the world shares his opinions”.
“He does. He simply has to look out of the window for that”.
“Do you remember that episode where the poor sap tried to make him pecan pie?”
“I remember watching it with you and you being appalled at the pie yourself”.
“I was but that’s not the point. Remember Crowley’s face when he heard the word? As if he’d punched him in the gut”.
“Well, you never know. He might have his reasons. Plus, it’s not bad for our business. The picture of this place next up to Crowley’s blew up Facebook, and God knows how many people come in here after they’ve dined over there, begging for a dessert”.
Sadly, she was right about that, so Dean thought it wise to shut up.
He did what he always did. He baked.
He’d always loved to cook, even from an early age; Sammy had to be fed, after all, and Dad was little use to them, drunk more often than not.
But that was another topic for another day.
Sam dropped by for lunch, as he often did; it was at his brother’s insistence that Dean had other things on his menu but pie.
“Hey Sammy. How’s the lawyering going?”
“The Adler case is going to kill me. Guy’s a douche.”
“Alright. One killer salad coming up”.
“What would I do without you” his brother breathed and Dean knew that he was indeed having a horrible, horrible day.
“How’s business?” Sam asked as he brought him his plate.
“That’s an understatement” Charlie piped up from behind Sam. “Hi”.
“The place is really catching on” she boasted. “More and more people seem to hear about the place. Crowley putting another restaurant right in front of us did us good, I have to say. Gotta love a guy who hates sweets so much he inadvertently boosts the competition”.
“Aw, can’t deal with the fact that your celebrity crush is helping your business?”
“I don’t have a crush” he mumbled, “Guy’s a jerk”.
“Doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate his work. I am still not over Woody Allen being a creep, but his movies are freaking masterpieces”.
“Charlie...” Dean warned her.
She raised her hands.
“Fine. No talking about cute evil guys, got it”.
“You’re not even into guys!” he called after her as she walked back to the reception.
“If you didn’t want these kinds of talk, you should probably not have picked her for the job” Sam said. “But I’m really glad to hear you are doing well”.
Dean’s eyes softened. Back when he’d still been bound on doing the sensible thing and becoming a mechanic, his brother and Bobby did everything they could to persuade him to follow his dreams. A scholarship later, he had been in cooking school; and graduating on top of his class had soon put him in the spot for several high profile jobs, eventually allowing him to open his own place.
“And this is delicious. You should put more salads on your menu..:”
“It’s called Pie Heaven for a reason”.
As usual, that discussion led to nothing.
A few days later, Dean got an offer.
Needless to say, he had not seen it coming, and he didn’t recognize the short blonde guy when he strolled in and ordered. It was a busy day, and Dean was just glad that he’d finally caved in and hired waiters.
“Dean” Benny said, coming into the kitchen (so maybe he’d used the opportunity to help out another jobless friend, sue him) “there’s a guy who wants to talk to you”.
“I’m kind of buys at the moment” he replied.
“I know, but he says he’s a producer for TV.”
“He’s what? And why would he want to talk to me?”
“He didn’t say, but might as well listen to what he wants”.
He was right, of course. Dean told Garth to be careful with the kitchen utensils (guy was a good cook, but incredibly accident prone) and left.
The blonde guy was sitting at the counter, grinning at him.
“Dean Winchester?” he asked while shaking his hand.
“Great. Name’s Balthazar Roché. I’m from Kripke TV.”
Kripke TV produced The Snarky Chef, amongst others.
“So what –“
“It’s easily explained. We are planning on a new cooking show – where chefs get to compete against one another and rate each other’s dishes. And we think you’d be the perfect candidate”.
It was all a bit much, but Dean wouldn’t allow himself to be swept away.
“Well, you can probably guess”.
Balthazar waved a hand towards the window from which Savoury & Savoury could be seen.
“Every good show needs a banger to go off, and you two are just perfect polar opposites. You’re all sweets, and Crowley can’t stand them. Plus your receptionist tells me you’re a really nice guy, so that’s another point”.
“Wait, so Crowley won’t be the host?” he asked, for now ignoring that Charlie had gossiped about him with customers. Again.
“No, not this time around. We got Gabriel Spreight for that. So what do you say?”
“First of all, I would need more information”.
There was a shrewd look in Roché’s eyes as he said, “And you’re not easily gullible either. That’s a good sign”.
In the end, Dean agreed to think about it and, once the rush was over, immediately called Sam.
“Yeah! For some reason, he thinks it’ll work well if Crowley works against his “polar opposite” on the first show.”
“He couldn’t have found a better cook” Sam said.
“That’s sweet of your, but what do you think?”
“Honestly? I’ll of course check the contract once they send it to you, but otherwise I’d go for it. It’s basically getting paid for a commercial.”
“I’m sure everyone will think Oh those pies are great when Crowley rips them to shred on life TV”.
“You can be nasty to his recipe in return, plus we can ensure they make a point of having someone else taste it, too.”
“So you think it’s a good idea?”
“I think you should go with your gut”.
His gut... well that was the problem; his gut definitely wanted to do it, but Dean wasn’t sure he had the right reasons.
Because Charlie might, just might have been a bit right about the celebrity crush thing.
Then again, that would end soon if Crowley was as nasty off camera as he was on.
At the end of the day, he said yes.
Crowley leaned back and looked at his agent, raising an eyebrow.
“Seriously? A cooking competition? What makes you think that’s a good idea?”
“Well, for one, there’s no such thing as too much publicity” Bela said, “and you just opened another restaurant. Also I thought it might be a good idea to show you in a... more sympathetic light”.
“I am sympathetic”.
“You made the last contestant cry”.
“He tried to make cake and failed utterly”.
“All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be so predictable.”
“Honey, nothing about me is predictable”.
“Oh? So you don’t hate anything sweet put in front of you automatically?”
He rolled his eyes.
“You might not thing so, but your show’s going a bit stale. So a one-off episode, going against another chef, would be welcome by most viewers”.
“Another thing. Which chef? I am not cooking next to an amateur – ”
“For you, almost everyone is an amateur. But don’t worry. You remember your newest restaurant?”
“Miss Talbot, I am capable of memorizing – “
“The place across the street? Pie Heaven?”
He stared at her.
She couldn’t be serious.
“I thought you said me hating sweets was growing stale”.
“It is, but we’re not talking just about dessert. Balthazar swears the pie he had was “divine” and you know how difficult he is to impress”.
Crowley knew indeed, so this was rather a surprise.
“Seriously? In that tacky...”
“Do I have to remind you your chain has a tagline – “
“At least I don’t have a huge pie hanging in front of my – “
“Crowley, this will boost your new book, too” Bela pleaded. “You’ve got nothing to lose anyway. And Balthazar said Dean Winchester us definitely worth to look at, if you know what I mean?”
“Yes, but while he has good taste when it comes to food, I wouldn’t trust him with – “
“Oh, I checked”.
She slid her phone over the table.
“I don’t think I have seen someone who fits your type better in years. And he’s single”.
“Not that it matters...” he said, taking the phone and trailing off when he saw the picture.
Yes, that was indeed a handsome man. A very handsome man. And several years younger than him.
As he had said, not that it mattered.
He cleared his throat.
“Fine. So what exactly would this entail?”
“Knew you’d be interested once you saw his picture”.
“I am merely interested in boosting my book sales”.
“Of course you are”.
The woman knew him too well.
“A cooking competition? With a baker” he said pointedly after she’d finished.
“Oh no, he’s a chef with everything that entails. Top of his class at culinary school, too. He just chose to specialize himself in sweets. Not that you would understand”.
He indeed failed to understand, but then his abhorrence of pie had his reasons.
Reasons he’d certainly never disclose to another human being.
“Alright” he sighed, “I’ll do it. But for that, I get better contestants during the next season. Ones with a brain, preferably”.
“I’ll see what I can do”.
She purposefully left her phone behind – she had several others as backup anyway – and Crowley pretended not to notice.
Until she’d well and truly left and he took it for a second look.
Dean Winchester. Yes, he was gorgeous, and those eyes...
Bela definitely knew how to catch his attention. Maybe, if he wasn’t too incompetent, he could ask him to appear in his show, he wouldn’t mind having something nice to look at for once...
First things first. Get this and the promotion that came with it out of the way, and then...
And then what?
Crowley looked at the picture again.
If someone had asked him, he wouldn’t have been able to finish the sentence.
“Come on, brother, they already want you, you don’t have to do this”.
“I very much do not remember inviting you all to my apartment”.
“But you love us and want us to share your big day with you” Charlie told him, grinning. “Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with your shirt; and you’re gonna wear a chef’s outfit in the show anyway, so why bother?”
There was a knowing gleam in her eyes that Dean chose to very wisely ignore for the time being.
Maybe he wanted to look nice on his first trip to the studio. That was just professional. It absolutely had nothing to do with him meeting Chef Crowley today.
Guy’s a jerk anyway, he repeated to himself.
It wasn’t like he’d watched another episode yesterday...
He was being ridiculous and he knew it.
If only Charlie and Benny didn’t.
At least Sam had to be at court.
He gave in.
“So I look okay?”
Charlie rolled her eyes.
“I think you look hot. Trust me, he won’t be able to take his eyes off of you”.
“Even better, than I can win”.
“Doesn’t matter if you win or not, even more folk’s gonna come right through our door anyway” Benny pointed out.
That was true – the publicity would probably ensure many more satisfied customers – but Dean would have lied if he’d said he didn’t care who won.
Because there was something more at stake than a cooking show or his kind-of crush.
There was professional pride to consider.
Dean thought himself one of the best desert chefs in the country, and he would make Fergus Crowley see the light when it came to sweets. He would.
Even Sam caved now and then when he pulled out his pies, and the guy was a helpless health nut.
Charlie nudged him and winked. He bet she knew exactly what he was thinking.
“Good morning, Mr. Crowley”.
Bela’s smile was entirely too self-congratulatory.
All because he was five minutes early.
He’d made a habit of being right on time, so his arrival surprised everyone, and some where dumb enough to comment on it.
“Look at that!” Gabriel Spreight exclaimed. “You showed him the picture of his fellow contestant, I assume? Not that I blame you, Fergus – he’s gorgeous. If I could climb that tree, I’d – “
“It’s Crowley” he interrupted him coldly. Gabriel Spreight was one of the few who had the audacity to insist on using the first name he detested.
He was also constantly in a good mood, most likely a sugar high from the sweets he consumed constantly. He must really look forward to the meeting.
Crowley didn’t. It was just a job.
So he was five minutes early. It happened to everyone.
“Isn’t that one of your best suits?” Bela asked casually.
He reminded himself that she was the best agent he’d ever had.
“I prefer high-end clothing, and you’re very aware of –“
“Aw, did we dress up for our Prince Charming? From what I’ve heard he’s one of the most pleasant men to be around. You’ll get along like a house on fire – by which I mean you’ll eventually set the studio ablaze because you can’t deal with someone being nice to you” Gabriel said brightly, biting into a new candy bar.
“How I choose to present myself is none of your concern”.
He raised his hands in mock-surrender.
“Alright. No need to be grumpy”.
Crowley could feel his temper rise.
“I don’t – “
“Book contract” Bela decided. “We need to go over it one more time”.
She drew him into the direction of his room.
“No we don’t”.
“Correct, but I don’t want you to rile Gabriel up. He’ll just make even more fun of you, and then where are we?”
She had a point there, and he was reminded that perhaps he should be nicer to her.
“You are right”.
She sighed in relief.
“Just concentrate on the eye candy that’ll soon walk right through the door”.
He very much despised the expression eye candy, but he had to admit that it very much fit Dean Winchester.
He remembered Bela’s phone and returned it to her. She didn’t have to know he’d looked at Dean’s picture a few more times than strictly necessary.
Someone knocked on his door. He wasn’t in the least surprised when Balthazar entered without waiting for an answer.
“Crowley!” he rubbed his hands together. “Big day! If we can get this show to take off, think of the ratings!”
Balthazar always did.
“There’s just – “
Of course there was.
“Look” he continued; Crowley was surprised how sincere he certainly sounded.
“Here’s the thing. We do a background check on all our candidates.”
Nothing like privacy in this country, as Crowley was well aware.
“What I am trying to say is – Winchester’s a decent bloke. You should hear the poetry his employees wax about him. And... well, let’s just say the story of his father’s untimely demise includes way too much alcohol, not for the first time, and a car accident. Concerning his mother... She’s alive but I have no idea what their relationship is like. Seems like he more or less raised his younger brother, who also happens to be his lawyer. So no matter what you do, family’s off the table”.
“Who do you take me for?” he asked, impatient.
He might have been a bastard, and taken some pride in the fact, but he’d never hit someone so low.
Plus, his own family history was far from happy, and he certainly didn’t wish anyone to bring it up, especially not on live television.
Bela was well aware of it since she ushered Balthazar out quickly.
“Did you know?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“Sometimes it’s better not to look to closely instead of having to make a decision what to reveal”.
He could respect that.
“He’s right about Dean being decent, though. So maybe turn it down a bit, lest you look too awful in comparison. And please at least try his deserts before you start criticising them?”
In fairness, he’d only done that once – he’d had a bad day, and the contestant had promptly done several interviews, all of them denouncing him as a “vile asshole”.
It had done his ratings good, if he was being honest.
Bela had done stellar work for him for over two years now however, and she deserved a treat.
“There we go”.
She patted his shoulder.
“Always knew you weren’t that big a dick. See you soon; I’ll just have a quick talk with Gabriel.”
And she vanished before he could figure out if he should take this as a compliment or an insult.
Alright, Dean told himself, take a deep breath. You can do this.
Charlie and Benny were tagging along, of course.
“Man, I’ve never been in a studio before!”
“How often have you taken the complete Harry Potter tour again?”
“You know what I mean. This is awesome!”
Sam had sent him a text a few minutes ago, wishing him good luck.
“Dean! If I may call you Dean?”
Balthazar Roché strolled up to meet them, as meticulously dressed as he’d been when he’d made Dean the offer.
“And who’s this?”
“Two of my closest friends” he introduced them. “Charlie Bradbury and Benny Lafitte”.
The way he winked at both of them, it was easy to tell he was on Dean’s side when it came to pick partners. Too bad he wasn’t his type.
And too bad that there was someone else in this studio Dean was trying very hard not to think about too much.
“Well then!” he clapped his hands. “Ready to meet everyone?”
Dean had seen a few shows starring Gabriel Spreight, which turned out to be a good thing; he had no idea how he would have reacted to the guy bouncing up to them otherwise.
“Dean-o! And you brought friends! I’m so glad to meet you! Name’s Gabe. My, you are a perfect Ken doll aren’t you? The viewers are going to love you, just wait and see... And of course you’ll be making deserts, right? I do love pie although my favourite – “
“Gabriel” Balthazar interrupted him tiredly. “Maybe we should allow them to get used to you first before you come barrelling in?”
“Why? That takes away most of the fun, you know”.
“I agree” Charlie said, grinning. “Got any more of that candy you must have been binging on?”
Dean had to get her out of here before she and Gabriel started to make plans to take over the world by candy.
“Should have known they would get along” Benny said as they watched a beautiful woman hurry towards them.
“I see you’re punctual. Excellent. I’m Bela Talbot, Chef Crowley’s agent”.
“Nice to meet you” he said, shaking her hand and grinning.
“Feels like I already won”.
“I bet it does” she replied, winking. “But sadly, we’re not here for our own enjoyment”.
“No, we wanna entertain others!” Gabriel exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. “So, where’s the big man?”
“You know he likes to gather his thoughts prior to meetings and shootings. We said we’d meet up at ten am sharp, so that’s when he’ll be in the conference room”.
As they walked to the spot, Charlie whispered, “Should have known he was such a stickler for details. The way he always makes them clean the kitchen...”
“Cleanliness is a virtue” Dean, who always painstakingly ensured that his own work space was neat, whispered back.
“Yeah yeah I know Mr. Clean”.
She stuck out her tongue at him.
“Be a little professional guys, I thought we wanted them to like us” Benny finally told them.
“Have you met me?” Gabriel interrupted them.
“Dude, were you eavesdropping?”
“Of course. I always am”.
“You guys will fit right in” Balthazar said happily. “Now as long as we can keep the big man happy...”
“You know he hates it when you refer to him that way” Bela said simply.
“Yes, but I produce his show and bring him all the sweet dollars he’s so busy not spending on anything fun, so I get to do it”.
“Oh, by the way” Gabriel said, his eyes sparkling, “Crowley’s actually a pretty informal guy off camera, so just call him Fergus, he loves that – “
“Do you really think I’ve never seen his show?”
Especially episode three of season two, where a contestant tried to call him by his first name and Crowley all but eviscerated his steak out of principle.
Not that Dean would know the specifics.
“Told you, Gabriel” Balthazar said, sounding amused, “this one’s sharp”.
“Good, we need someone who can give back as good as he gets anyway”.
He is talking about the show, Dean thought, don’t even dare imagine –
“He should show up any moment now” Balthazar announced, looking at his watch. “Wanna do a countdown?”
Bela just shook her head.
As she had said, at ten am sharp the door opened and Fergus Crowley entered without looking.
Damn it. Dean had hoped he wouldn’t look as good in real life as he did on TV.
And he was wearing a suit, too.
Still, he walked in like he owned the place and sat down without greeting any of them – except a slight nod towards his agent.
“Crowley, this is Chef Winchester, Charlie Bradbury and Benny Lafitte”.
He looked at them in turn and raised an eyebrow.
“Do you take your entourage wherever you go?”
And this was where Dean was supposed to be his usual charming self. Only he really didn’t like Crowley’s tone and this were his friends they were talking about.
“I’ve found it creates a good climate within the restaurant to treat my employees well”.
“I am certain it does. With that tacky sign you need something to keep them from running off”.
Dean saw Bela wince from the corner of his eyes and replied sharply, “At least my personality doesn’t cause people to mass quit on the spot”.
Silence settled over the room. After a few seconds, Balthazar said, “This is going to be great”.
Enjoying the silence before the meeting, Crowley should have known better than to pick up his phone. Rowena always managed to ruin his mood.
“Fergus! How are you?”
She sounded like she genuinely cared, but he knew better than to believe she’d suddenly had a change of heart. She loved to play games.
“I am quite well”.
He didn’t thank her, nor did he inquire after her health.
After a moment, she sighed.
“So what’s the plan for today?”
If she wanted to have lunch or dinner with him, she could wait. Forever, as far as he was concerned.
“I’m meeting – “
“Oh, that’s right, Chef Winchester, isn’t it?”
Someday, he would have to find out how she learned about his schedule.
“Yes” he pressed out through gritted teeth. Even on her nice days, she made him feel on edge.
“You can need a little more sugar in your life”.
And there it was.
A memory surfaced, as unbidden as unwelcome.
“I’m sorry dearie... Here I brought you a pie... A spoonful of sugar makes everything better, doesn’t it?”
“I’m sorry, Mother, I have to go”.
He hung up without another word.
So much for her having one of her nice days. She knew. She had to.
She had to remember.
Crowley swallowed and stood up.
It was ridiculous to still dwell on his childhood. There was no use thinking about it. Nothing anyone could do or say would change a thing.
He stalked into the meeting room just on time and perhaps should have treated his colleague a little bit better, but he was in a terrible mood, and so they ended up glaring at one another not even five minutes after they had been introduced, already fighting.
Bela cleared her throat.
“Alright, now that you know one another... You are aware of the concept of the show.”
“Yes” Dean said, to Crowley’s astonishment turning to her with a brilliant smile, his irritation all but forgotten.
“So... we cook against one another, and we get to rate the other’s meals, right? Can’t wait. Just... will that be enough to draw people in?”
“Trust me, in the wonderful world of reality TV, it will. Fergus Crowley forced to try deserts – the whole nation is going to watch”.
Crowley rolled his eyes.
“Hey, Mr. Hot Shot TV” Dean complained suddenly, “I may not have fame and future, but I am a damn good chef. You’ll be surprised”.
And he glowered at him again until Miss Bradbury nudged him. Then he was all smiles again.
What the hell? The man would end up giving him whiplash.
When Crowley was mad, he just was a bastard to everyone. It made things easier.
Dean, on the other hand...
Wait, Dean? Chef Winchester on the other hand...
“Under the watchful eyes of yours truly, of course” Gabriel said, winking at them both.
There was a good reason Crowley had never worked with him before. Irritating little jerk.
“It’s live, I got that. Public?” Dean asked.
“We’d rather not...” Bela immediately began, and Balthazar was already shaking his head.
Thank God at least he still didn’t have to deal with an audience.
“Fine by me” Dean shrugged. Another surprising choice. He would have thought Dean Wicnhester would step up to the challenge.
His mother would have.
Crowley balled his hands into fists under the table.
He didn’t want to think about Rowena.
“Hey, you alright?”
He looked at Dean, who was actually studying him with something like worry.
“Of course” he replied smoothly.
“If you say so” he answered, clearly sceptical.
Bela stared at Dean.
“Ahm... yes, now that this has been cleared up...”
Not many people managed to surprise his agent.
Or Crowley himself, for that matter.
Who was this man, who could glower at him one second and be concerned about him the next?
He was intrigued, and that didn’t happen often when it came to people.
The meeting passed far more quickly than usual, but maybe that was simply a consequence of him looking at Dean far more often than he needed to.
The picture really had not done him justice.
He even went so far as to say goodbye to him and his friends politely, which obviously surprised them.
“So” Bela said afterwards, “That went rather well”.
“Oh yes” Gabriel grinned, “Fergus here likes his new colleague, I dare say”.
He just shot him a contemptuous look as Bela ushered him away.
“Do I need to block your mother on your phone again?” she asked quietly. How she even knew Rowena had been in contact, he couldn’t say.
“You know I’d do it if I wished so”.
“Yes. But I – “
And the efficient agent he knew showed him her human side for the first time.
“You are always so frustrated after she called. It’s not necessary, and certainly not healthy”.
He was taken aback.
“I can deal with it”.
“If you say so...”
“I do” he said sharply, but added, “Thank you, but I know how to deal with my mother”.
She nodded and returned to business talk.
Fergus Crowley was... weird. That was about a good a description as Dean could come uip with when Garth excitedly asked them hoe the meeting had been.
“Come on, man, you gotta do better than that”.
“I can tell you one thing” Charlie declared, “There was some serious eye sex going on”.
“I have no idea what you are talking about”.
“Come off it, brother” Benny said. “He couldn’t take his eyes away from you after your... introduction”.
Of course Garth immediately caught unto what had happened and Charlie and Benny were only too happy to explain.
His eyes widened.
“You told Chef Fergus Crowley what to his face?”
“Hey, I have no problem if a guy wants to be condescending towards me, but don’t go after my friends or my restaurant”.
“That’s just chemistry, Garth; he can’t fight it”.
“I know it when I see it, Dean, and there were practically sparks flying between you two”.
“Listen to me, Bradbury. No. Sparks.”
At least Dean would be telling himself that for a long while to come.
Because Crowley had indeed been acting like a jerk, at least in the first few minutes of the meeting, and everything should just stop right there.
Only it was Dean’s life, so of course it didn’t.
Truth was, he’d seen an all too familiar frustration in Crowley’s eyes. Dean remembered it from nights searching for his father, going through every bar in town, scared that this would be it, and then the day that it happened, and the police at his door –
A warm hand on his arm. Three pairs of worried eyes studying him.
He cleared his throat.
“I’m fine, guys. Garth, how’s it going in the kitchen?”
Thankfully his friends understood.
The point was –
He had the feeling there was more to Fergus Crowley than met the eye, and that was always dangerous.
Dean just couldn’t resist a mystery.
Crowley very much did not spend the afternoon thinking about Dean Winchester, at least that was what he would have told anyone who dared ask.
He’d done what he usually did in order not to dwell on his mother and – other things – and driven to the first restaurant he’d opened.
Bela would know where he was. She always did.
Also his staff had been with him long enough to realize the mood he was in and mostly left him alone apart from following his orders.
Cooking had always relaxed him.
Stirring, he wondered how the new place was doing. Maybe he should spend an evening there, just to make sure...
Not because Dean Winchester’s restaurant was right across the street. Of course.
He hated pies anyway.
But that was steering too close to what he was trying to avoid.
He’d rather cook.
Yet what Balthazar had told him about Dean Winchester interested him far more than it should have.
Maybe he was just feeling solidarity to people from a bad family background.
“Everything alright, Chef?”
Ellsworth was one of the few employees who’d been with him from the beginning and therefore dared what others never would have.
Crowley had always considered that rather brave since he could never remember the man’s first name.
“Yes, of course”.
Ellsworth shrugged. “Just looked like you were thinking about something, that’s all”.
“Yes. I happen to think a lot, because that’s what brains normally do”.
Ellsworth was too used to him to do more than roll his eyes and move on.
Thank God the others were not going to do something similar. If there was one thing he didn’t want, it was people drawing his attention to the fact that he was thinking about Dean Winchester. Again.
These damn green eyes. They were the only explanation.
And it had been a while since he’d been with anyone. Aside from always being busy, he’d decided early in his career that he didn’t want to bother with the publicity of dating. He had quite enough to do without TMZ frantically trying to explain his pansexuality away.
He knew how to get what he wanted without drawing attention to himself.
But sadly, what he wanted right now would just happen to stand next to him on live television, and that was not a good way to hide.
“You’re obsessing” Charlie sang behind his back. Dean sighed and put his phone away.
“I was just – “
“Looking up Crowley. I thought you already knew everything there was to know about the guy. You own his show on DVD. If that doesn’t say fanboy, I don’t – “
“Says the woman who stays up all night just to watch Doctor Who when it comes out in the UK”.
They left it at that, thankfully.
Dean almost felt ashamed at his interest – or rather, nosiness.
But that look in Crowley’s eyes... it just wouldn’t let him rest.
If his mirror was anything to go by, there was some bad family history involved.
He’d found nothing, however. Bela must be doing an amazing job. There’d been some veiled references to a child in a few early articles, but he’d found nothing else, and Crowley didn’t seem the type to settle down with a family.
At least Dean hoped so, because lusting after a happily married guy with kids was a nightmare scenario he really didn’t need.
God, he was turning into the snooping spinster.
He resolutely put his phone away.
No more thinking about Fergus Crowley.
That resolution lasts until Sam came over for dinner, Charlie kicking Dean out of the kitchen.
“Tonight you’re gonna enjoy your meal, boss”.
“Chef” he uselessly corrected her before greeting his brother with a short hug.
“So, how was the meeting?”
After Dean had told him, Sam sad slowly, “He sounds intense”.
Dean threw his hands in the air.
“You too? Alright, once more for the people in the back: he’s pretty hot, but I won’t waste my time pining after an asshole. Are we clear?”
“Yes, we are. And don’t worry Dean; I’d rather you go after someone who won’t hurt you anyway”.
“I think I can handle cooking for him. Even if he dare say anything bad about my pies”.
“Dude, I hope he doesn’t. I don’t really want to get known as the defence counsel of the guy who murdered another chef on live television because of a pie”.
“Pie is always a good reason for murder, Sammy, haven’t I taught you anything?”
“Yes. Mostly that I am going to stay far away from the studio just in case”.
They both knew he’d be there anyway.
“What do you say to the salad? I just made that recipe up this afternoon”.
Mostly as a distraction from his thoughts, but still. Salad. He was officially the best big brother in the world.
“You know what, it’s going to be really funny to watch Fergus Crowley finally speechless when he tastes your stuff”.
This was not a good idea. He never met contestants in private before a show.
Yes, this was a different show altogether and Dean was a colleague, but...
His phone was snatched from his hands before he could close Pie Heaven’s website.
“There is a backdoor. He expects you at eleven pm. You’re welcome”.
Slowly, Crowley asked, “Bela, what – “
“It might be a good idea to get to know Dean. It will make the banter in the show funnier.”
“But I hate – “
“I know. Who says you have to eat anything while you’re there?”
“It’s a restaurant” he reminded her, “and please do not make any appointments without consulting me first in the future”.
“I’m your agent. I know what you need before you do”.
And with that cryptic remark she left him alone.
She was right; it would probably help if he and Dean Winchester got to know one another a little. Just a little. It wasn’t like they would go on spending time together after the show.
“Dean. You’re cleaning. Again.”
“A kitchen has to be clean – “
“Dean, you’ve swept that counter three times already”.
“Charlie – “
“Dean Winchester! You will behave and relax a little! That’s an order, handmaiden!”
“Yes my Queen” he replied resignedly.
“Come on. Everything’s going well. Business is going well, Garth can handle the kitchen for five minutes and Mr. Hot Jerk wants to see you”.
“His agent wants me to see him” he answered. He hadn’t believed it when he’d got the call. Fergus Crowley wasn’t exactly notorious for his outgoing nature.
“Yes, and as we have seen, he listens to his agent. So he’ll come. Which I quite frankly assume has a lot to do with your cleaning spree”.
Dean looked down at his hands, slightly ashamed of himself.
“Dean” she said gently, “You know you don’t have to impress anyone, right? Look at what you’ve created. And you really don’t have to care about one asshole chef, especially one you already went after”.
“I really sounded that angry, hm?”
“Don’t worry, it’s a good look on you. If I wasn’t a lesbian...”
He snorted because the thought of him and Charlie was just... plain wrong.
“Hey”. She boxed his shoulder. “I want you to know I am a catch, Mr.”
“I am very aware of that. How’s Gilda, by the way?”
“Still an absolute dreamboat. But, alas, all must come to an end, and I don't see us as more than friends with benefits. It's time to settle down”.
"Come on, if you don't stay single, who else will I grow old with?"
"It's never too late to friend true love, my friend."
“Glad to hear it”.
"No just take a break and relax. Everything will work out fine."
Charlie was right of course, and he decided to make himself a cup of tea and relax.
It would have been so much easier if he could have convinced himself that Crowley was just the bad guy he loved to present himself as but... he just had the feeling there was more to him than met the eye.
And what met the eye was still pretty nice to see too.
“Dean, which – “
Garth, as always a little helpless, but perfectly willing.
“Table three. Just let Benny handle it”.
He could do this. He was a chef, Crowley was a chef, it was just a friendly meeting between colleagues.
He wasn’t at all looking forward to...
He wished he were alone. On the other hand, it might have been too tempting to bang his head against the table.
In the end, he really was thankful for the backdoor. He had a reputation to uphold, and he certainly wouldn’t risk anyone seeing him enter a restaurant called Pie Heaven of all things.
Plus, he now had a reason to check the progress his newest restaurant was making, and there was nothing to relax him like an evening spent in the kitchen.
Finally, shortly before eleven, he changed clothes and made his way to Pie Heaven.
Dean himself opened the door when he knocked.
“Please. Dean is enough”.
He let him in.
Dean was still wearing his chef uniform, and Crowley grudgingly admitted that he was every bit as handsome as he’d remembered him to be.
“Very clean and efficient” he said, letting his eyes travel over the kitchen as Dean led him to his office.
“I take care of my place. I also always use fresh produce. Nothing frozen for my pies”.
He nodded. While he couldn’t appreciate deserts, he could respect a chef who wanted only the best to leave his kitchen.
“I once found a dead rat in a fridge next to – “
“Two weeks old meat” Dean said immediately, then looked away, blushing furiously.
Crowley, to his own surprise, was for once not annoyed at meeting an enthusiastic fan.
“I mean... That one was hard to forget, especially for a chef” Dean adorably tried to save himself. Wait, adorably? Had he really just thought that?
“So, your agent said something about how we should get to know each other better”.
“She told me as well”.
“She seems... competent”.
“Annoying is the word you are searching for. But yes, she’s great at her job”.
“You two close?”
It wasn’t a question he would have expected from anyone else.
“I...” The truth was, he had no idea what to answer. Were he and Bela close? They certainly never “hung out” or whatever the young people called it these days, and they would never have referred to each other as friends, but then, she was the one person he saw almost every time, and often the last he spoke to on any given evening.
“I guess so”.
“Probably normal, she being your agent and all. Me and Charlie and Benny have been friends for years”.
“I could tell”.
“Yeah, about that... how about we say we got off to a bad start and call it even?”
“Works for me”.
“Alright, then. Let’s start over”.
He struck out his hand.
“Chef Dean Winchester. I love pies and spice and everything nice”.
Against his will, he chuckled.
“Chef Crowley. I love nothing more than making fun of deserts. We shall get along wonderfully”.
“I’d say” Dean said, gesturing for him to sit down. “Drink?”
“What do you have?” Crowley asked, sure that Dean wouldn’t have his drink of choice.
“Let me see, there’s Whiskey, Scotch, Craig...”
“You have Craig?”
“Sure. Old family friend’s a fan” he replied, pouring a generous amount into Crowley’s glass. “You like it because it’s from where you come from?”
Again, he chuckled. Twice in an evening. He shouldn’t spend too much time with Dean Winchester, lest he gather a reputation for levity.
“I was actually born in Manhattan”.
Dean got some whiskey for himself.
“I’m not. My mother moved there in the Sixties, met my father” it was better than to tell someone he barely knew he’d been conceived in an orgy “and the rest is history”.
“I got it from here, I presume. The network just lets people assume. I guess being British in America automatically means posh”.
“Probably powers the ratings” Dean mused. “Is your mother still around?”
He stiffened but managed to stay calm.
Dean once again seemed to notice his irritation much too quickly and changed the subject.
“I got this place three years ago”. He smiled. “You’ve been in business a bit longer”.
Despite Dean obviously not making a jab at his age, he felt annoyed for some strange reason.
“You could say that”.
“I was kind of worried when your place opened across the street” Dean confessed. “I wondered if anyone would still want to come here”.
“I’d say you’re filling a niche”.
“A – “ Dean burst into laughter. Crowley could only watch.
It was absolutely mesmerizing and made his heart beat faster in a way he could only recall faintly from his youth.
“A niche! For deserts! Oh my God!” Dean wiped his eyes. “You really hate sweets”.
“I am not particularly fond of sugar”.
“I can just imagine some poor sous chef trying to discuss deserts with you when you first started out. Oh dear”.
“There were a few. We... often decided we should go our separate ways”.
“To ban the evil sugar fairy, I get it. My brother’s pretty much a health nut.”
“So you have enemies in your own ranks?”
Dean smiled at a picture on his desk. “I wouldn’t say that.”
He passed the picture on to Crowley. It showed him, a young and an older man on what Crowley assumed was the opening day of Pie Heaven.
“That’s my brother and Bobby, he’s – “
“The friend I can thank for this?” he asked, holding up his glass.
“Yeah. He was there for us after...” he trailed off. Crowley chose not to ask.
He understood only too well why one would choose not to speak of one’s closest connections.
“Both Sammy and Bobby supported me when I told them I wanted to be a chef. What about you? How did you get into cooking?”
That was easy enough.
“I had to cook a lot for myself from an early age”. He always told his story in the same way. Carefully edited, all the bits that might excite wonder or pity cut off. He had no interest in either.
Dean nodded, an understanding Crowley had never encountered before in his eyes.
“I realized I was good at it, and that I liked doing it as well. I wasn’t exactly keen on spending time playing with other children anyway”.
“Why doesn’t that surprise me.”
He ignored him and continued. “I got a scholarship, went to culinary school, opened my restaurant, one day the network knocked on my door. That’s it”.
“I have to say, you’re the first television personality I’ve ever met who leaves out the ugly bits”.
He could have asked how Dean knew there were any but instead replied, “And how many have you met so far?”
“Fair point”. After a pause Dean added, “You know I won’t blab, right? This is between us”.
“I know Bela wouldn’t have allowed things to progress this far if she thought you at all possible of leaking news”.
“I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut”.
Dean suddenly looked older than his years, and Crowley felt the irrational urge to make it all better.
What the hell was wrong with him?
“Too bad. It’s a pretty mouth”.
He definitely had not meant to say that, and he had not wanted to sound so... flirty.
They were going to work together, for crying out loud.
Dean had been in the middle of taking another sip and started coughing.
“Th- Thank you” he finally managed to stutter.
“You’re welcome” he replied, rather lamely. Better if he left; he’d just made things rather awkward.
Still, Dean was nothing but cordial as he accompanied him to the door. They shook hands once again and Crowley told himself he was only imagining the thrill running down his spine.
He walked back home with the conviction that he would overcome this pitiful attraction to his colleague and get on with his life.
Yet, despite his best efforts, the last thing he thought of before he fell asleep was brilliant green eyes.
He had no way of knowing that at the same time in another apartment, Dean was standing in front of a bathroom mirror and telling himself, “Alright, Dean Winchester. You are a grown man, and this stops now, have you understood me?” while trying to sound convincing. His crush was doing him no favours.
He flirted with me though.
No he didn’t. He was probably trying to rile you up.
But it does seem as if he likes men...
Dean sighed. This was going nowhere.
So what? So he’d made a comment about his lips. Whatever.
He glared at himself in the mirror.
“This is a job, and you will stay the professional you are. You will do the show, and you’ll make a damn fine desert and you won’t flirt with him, and afterwards you won’t think about him anymore at all.”
If only he could have believed himself.
“It can’t have been that bad“ was all Bela said when Crowley tried to let her know that she shouldn’t get used to him meeting people because she arranged it without asking him first, “You actually smiled when you said Good Morning. I have never seen Balthazar more shocked”.
“Famous Chef or not, you cannot fool me. So, how was it? Tell me everything.”
“I thought you didn’t need to know about my private life, at least that’s what you said when you first started working for me”.
As long as it’s not illegal or looks bad in the press had been her exact words, but he wasn’t going to quote her.
She grinned and he realized his mistake.
“So the visit had to do with your private life?”
“I didn’t say that”.
“Of course not”.
Bela had been right; he must have freaked Baltzhazar out. He actually waited for him to call before coming in.
“How are we this morning?” he asked, almost with a hint of real worry in his voice.
“I am in excellent health”.
“Glad to hear it. So, we’ve got some really great contestants for your next season of The Snarky Chef...”
“Really great” in Balthazar’s world meant usually insufferable. He sighed as he took the folder.
Why couldn’t a few of them be more like Dean?
“Seriously!? He was... nice?”
“Yes, Charlie” Dean explained for the five hundredth time, “He was actually pretty decent. There’s a good guy buried under all that sarcasm and spite”.
“I bet it only needs another good guy to get him out”.
“Don’t even start” he warned her.
“Just don’t say I didn’t warn you”.
Warn me about what? He wanted to ask, but chose not to. It was a good decision, knowing Charlie.
The problem was that he couldn’t get last evening out of his head. Crowley had been so completely different from what he’d seen on TV, or in the studio. Relaxed, polite – even if his humour had been a bit on the sarcastic side.
And of course still more attractive than he had any right to be, damn it.
This whole “get rid of your crush by confronting the object of it and realizing what a jerk he is” plan was going just great.
It was really Dean’s fault. He had a weakness for grumpy guys hiding their dark back story.
Just ask him about his favourite Doctor Sexy storyline involving an asshole doctor who turned out had never studied but had such a wonderful redemption arc to prove it.
Sam’s phone call was a welcome distraction.
“Hey bro. How’s it going?”
“If Adler opens his mouth one more time I’ll throw him out the window.”
“Isn’t that GBH or something like that?”
“Of course, but some things are worth going to jail for”.
“Don’t do it Sammy, you’ll miss my big break through on TV”.
“You know I would never. Are you working on anything new?”
He’d been wrong; this call didn’t help at all.
“Yeah. My recipe for the show”.
He pointedly didn’t say for Crowley, although of course that was what it came down to. He might or might not have been thinking about what to serve him constantly.
“I thought I’d go with something bittersweet. You know, since he hates sugar so much. I figured a combination might do the trick”.
“You got this”.
“I know” he replied with more confidence than he felt. Yes, the baking he had under control... but that other thing... He swallowed.
“I’ll talk to you later, Sammy”.
“Sure thing, jerk”.
“Bitch” he fired back before he hung up.
Back to the recipe.
After last night, he’d decided to go with pie despite Crowley’s well-known distaste for it; he couldn’t help but believe that the guy would be ready to give any well-prepared dish a chance. There was no question from the first that it would involve pecan, because it had always been Dean’s favourite, and maybe Crowley liked what he liked, and –
No. No ulterior motives here. Just trying to look good on TV.
Now his interior voice sounded sarcastic. Wonderful.
Alright, pecan it was. He’d been contemplating using bittersweet chocolate, 70% or so...
Hell yeah. That could work.
While the nuts were toasting in the oven, Dean kept a careful eye on them, stirring occasionally. This might only be a first try, but he’d always been a bit of a perfectionist when it came to cooking.
Just as carefully, he prepared the ganache layer, slowly forgetting the world around him. When he put the pie in the oven, Benny’s voice woke him up from the trance-like state he’d been in.
“With us again, brother?”
He blinked. Thankfully his staff was well acquainted with his “full on bake mode” as Charlie called it.
He rubbed his temples.
“Looks like it”.
“Pie seems good” Benny supplied.
“Tell me that again after you’ve tried it”.
“Don’t sell yourself short. Crowley’s gonna fall into your arms soon enough”.
“You and Charlie need to stop gossiping behind my back. Why did I think it was a good idea to hire you again?”
“Because I asked for a job”.
“There was that”.
Benny squeezed his shoulder.
“Come on, brother; everything’s going to work out fine”.
The problem was that Dean had no idea what fine was supposed to mean in this situation.
“Hi Crowley, have you looked at – are you checking out Pie Heaven’s page again? Didn’t pick you as the type who’s so concerned about competition – “
He sighed and put his phone away.
“Yes, Balthazar, I did take a look at the candidates. Is it too much to ask that not all of them be morons?”
“It makes for good TV. Plus, you’ve got Dean to look forward to”.
“I was merely checking their menu to decide what to prepare”.
Crowley should know best that chefs often showed their preferred food through their restaurants.
There were a lot of sweets, of course, but also a few salads (he’d discounted them right from the start because according to Dean his brother was a health nut, so he probably only served them because of him) and lots and lots of good American red meat.
He could work with that.
“Of course you were. Bela said you checked his place out?”
“He has a clean kitchen”.
“You chefs and your obsession with cleanliness”. After a pause he added, “So we won’t have any more problems like we had during that first meeting?”
“I don’t think so. Sorry to disappoint; I am sure it would have been more entertaining if we were to rip each other’s throats out”.
“Not always. Like I said, could be a good idea to show your softer side now and then”.
“I don’t have any soft sides”.
“Of course not” Balthazar said as he studied him, a curious look on his face. “You going to Dean’s place... that wasn’t just about the show, was it?”
“No, actually it was about my agent forcing me – “
“You like him. You actually like another human being”.
He didn’t answer.
“You know, you could work with me here – “
Balthazar took the hint and left.
Who he liked or who he didn’t like was none of Balthazar’s business, Crowley thought angrily. Plus, there’d be a certain tone in his voice – did he think they were still in high school?
“How is it going?” Bela asked, stepping in.
“It would be going better without constant interruptions”.
She rolled her eyes.
“Come off it. I know Balthazar can be annoying, but at least I have Gabriel occupied”.
“I sent him to Pie Heaven to sample the goods”.
“You did what?”
“He was only going to get on your nerves here, I figured he might as well eat his body weight in sugar”.
“You sent Gabriel Spreight to Dean? He is working hard, he doesn’t need – “
He stopped talking when he realized what he was saying.
Bela’s eyes sparkled.
“Oh no. Guess someone better warn him, hm?”
She handed him a business card.
And then she was gone.
Crowley read Dean’s number.
He hadn’t even contemplated getting it before.
Still, Gabriel was a force to be reckoned with, and he sent him a quick text.
Gabriel Spreight is on his way to Pie Heaven. I suggest you empty your fridge, it might just be enough to sate him.
The reply came quickly.
Crowley? Is that you?
The one and only, darling.
His finger hovered over the “send” button before he deleted the last word. There was no reason to create... potential misunderstandings.
You do realize I can practically hear the accent through the phone, right? Don’t worry about Gabriel, I’ll make certain Benny takes care of him. Thanks for the heads up.
Dean put his phone away.
“What is it, Chef?” he asked, popping up at the window immediately.
“Gabriel Spreight is on his way here. Look after him, would you?”
“Sure thing – wait, how do you know he’s coming here?”
“I have my methods” he replied cryptically rather than give him and Charlie even more reason to gossip.
He still saved the number though.
The pie was looking pretty good, even if he said so himself.
He’d ask the others to taste it, as always. True, they practically liked everything he did, but they were still usually able to give him some pointers.
An hour later, Benny came into the kitchen, looking slightly worried.
“Can one die of a sugar overdose?”
“Don’t think so or Gabriel would already be gone” Dean said.
Benny nodded, apparently traumatized.
“Wants to talk to you” he said.
“The show, he said” he shrugged.
Dean sighed. He wasn’t looking forward to discussing anything with Gabriel; he’d much rather deal with Balthazar or Bela or –
Nope. Not going there.
Gabriel was finishing another piece of pie as he came out of the kitchen.
“Dean-o! All the compliments! Man I could eat your stuff all day!”
“I think you’re doing just that” he said. Something about Gabriel rubbed him the wrong way. Maybe it had to do with his shows and his way of getting under people’s skin to ensure good TV.
There was a reason Dean had always preferred Crowley’s show. At least he was a bastard to your face.
“Sit down. I wanna talk to you”.
Dean sat down, eying the plate.
“Just how much did you eat? You freaked my server out”.
“The cute huggy bear? Oh no”.
Thank God Benny hadn’t been in earshot. He hated being called huggy bear (as Dean had found out one day under rather adventurous circumstances he definitely would rather not think of).
“What do you want?” he asked, perhaps a bit sharper than he intended to.
“You don’t like me. That’s perfectly fine. In fact, that’s great. And do you want to know why? Because it makes good TV.”
“If you call it good if I try and – “
“Now, now, we want to remain civil, won’t we? Here’s the thing: Fights are just more entertaining than harmony. Quite frankly, best thing that could happen would be you and Crowley start stabbing each other with your kitchen knives”.
“I would never stab someone with that and risk any of my knives”.
Gabriel clicked his tongue.
“Dean, Dean, Dean, you have to think bigger”.
“Thanks, I am quite content as it is”.
“What I meant” Gabriel said, “Is that you should know Crowley’s pressure points, so you can use them”.
Dean grit his teeth.
“I am not interested.”
“His mother, you should definitely go with his mother, he absolutely hates her, and his son died about ten years ago in a plane crash when he was barely eighteen – “
How he’d got that out so quickly, Dean had no idea, perhaps the sugar rush; but sadly the chef had already absorbed the information by the time he sprung up.
“Whatever you tell me, I am not using it. Now get out of my restaurant”.
Gabriel just shrugged.
“Your loss. But remember I came to you first”.
He left and Dean returned to the kitchen, seething.
What a dick.
Dean wished Gabriel had never opened his damn mouth. Sure, no one else had heard him, thank God, but now he knew. Knew that Crowley and his mother had history, knew that he’d lost his son. It felt like a huge invasion of privacy.
Small wonder the chef had done everything to ensure no one learned about his child. Dean wouldn’t have wanted the gossip-hungry public to know about this either, if something similar had happened to him.
God, how was he supposed to look at him now? He could pretend he didn’t know, of course, but Crowley was as observant as he was clever.
In the end, Dean decided to tell him the truth if he asked. Of course he’d never reveal what he knew to anyone else; just the thought was enough to make his stomach turn.
“Dean?” Charlie asked, “Do you think it’s ready yet?”
He realized he’d been staring at the pie he’d prepared and cleared his throat.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Awesome. Benny, Garth – come here, you have to try this!”
He would admit that he was a little nervous about that specific pie, and he gladly chose to focus on that rather on... the other thing.
“Dean” Charlie said after she’d taken her first bite.
“Yeah?” he asked when she didn’t continue; she simply sat there, eyes closed, slowly chewing.
“Right now I’m as straight for you as I will ever get”.
He laughed with relief.
Benny and Garth liked the pie too.
“You’re gonna win this thing, Dean, I just know it” the later told him enthusiastically.
“It’s not really about winning”.
It’s about the fact that I just learned something incredibly personal about the attractive guy I am going to cook for and have no idea what to do about it.
Dean forced himself to relax. It was not his fault that Gabriel had told him; and if the need arose, he could always explain himself.
Crowley had never liked Gabriel Spreight; and to his mortification he realized as soon as he entered his room that he now not only had to deal with him despite not being able to stand him on a normal day, but that he was also jealous because he’d been spending time in Pie Heaven and almost certainly with Dean.
This had to stop, and soon.
“Fergus! How are we on this fine day?”
“I see you enjoyed some sugary abomination”.
“Now, now, what would your Dean say if I told him what you think of his menu?”
“He is well aware of my opinion concerning deserts, and he respects it as any good chef would” Crowley replied, realizing too late he’d played straight into Gabriel’s hand by not immediately refuting that Dean was his.
Gabriel’s eyes were sparkling; never a good sign.
“So you two are growing close?”
“So we two will work well together” Crowley snapped.
“Of course. That’s what we all want”.
Only it wasn’t, because Gabriel was always after the next big headline.
Crowley glared at him.
“Don’t look at me like that, big boy, I am just trying to make good TV.”
“And you’d walk over anyone to get it” he told him, surprised at himself. For years, he’d shown the world just how much of a bastard he was, and he’d had no problem with it; and suddenly he wanted to tell Gabriel off and – and –
“Better not let Balthazar hear you, he’ll take away your contract.”
“Oh no” he deadpanned, “I only own several restaurants. I am going to starve.”
“Would be a shame. I’m sure your mother would be devastated”.
Crowley had never found out how or when Gabriel had learned about his mother, nor just how much he knew. He loved dropping hints, trying to rile him up, which was another reason he’d always been content not working with the other star of the network.
“I agree” he said, standing up. “Excuse me, I have to go look for my agent”.
He ran into Bela just outside.
“Oh. Is he back?” she asked, studying his face.
He nodded, too angry to speak.
“I’m sorry, Crowley. I’ll talk to Balthazar. We can at least make sure you two have as little contact as possible”.
He told her that not often enough, by far.
His text alert rang out. Smiling sweetly, Bela told him “I’ll just go find Balthazar” and left him there, as if she knew something he didn’t.
He rarely got texts, and his guess as to who was trying to contact him proved right.
Not to alarm you, but by unanimous consent, I am going to win this thing.
Crowley chuckled, immediately in a better mood.
Let me guess; a certain burly waiter and a red-haired receptionist? Now neither of them went to culinary school, did they?
No but they know good food when they see it. Unlike some people.
Well, someone should teach you what good food is before you die.
I will have you know I am not nearly as old as that sentence suggests.
Trust me, I am very aware of that.
Were they –
Were they flirting? And not just as a means to an end, but as two people interested in one another? What the hell was he doing? This couldn’t end well. They had to concentrate on the show, and –
Good. And don’t you forget it.
He really, really shouldn’t have answered that, and he knew it.
Believe me, I won’t.
He had no idea what he was doing. Crowley might not have achieved most people’s definition of happiness, but his life had been well ordered and (most of the time) comfortable, and then...
Then Dean Winchester had crushed right through his walls.
And he was desperately trying – and failing – to put them back up.
They continued to text for the rest of the day. Just small, flirtatious messages that did nothing to make him feel more at ease.
The worst part was that he was enjoying himself, and that he felt he could all too easily get used to this, used to having Dean in his life.
All in all, he was left vulnerable and slightly confused, if at last happy, and it was the worst possible time for his mother to visit.
Which of course meant she did.
Dean knew it was a very bad idea to text Crowley, and so it came as no surprise to himself when he ended up doing just that.
In itself it might not have been a problem, but then Sammy came over for a late lunch again (kid needed some better habits, but it was not Dean’s place to teach him), and just when he brought him his salad, Crowley texted again. And Dean, who’d never been able to keep secrets from his brother, blushed scarlet, naturally.
“Dean? Who is that?”
“N- No one”.
“I haven’t seen you blush like that since Cassie Robinson in sixth grade. What’s going on?”
“Nothing, I tell you”.
“And that’s why...” Sam trailed off, his eyes widening. “Wait, it’s not your number one celebrity crush, right? Thought you said he was a dick.”
“I don’t have any celebrity crushes” he told him firmly.
He rolled his eyes.
“No matter what Charlie says”.
“What makes you think Charlie said anything?”
“It’s Charlie. I’d be worried if she hadn’t.”
“Fair enough” Sam conceded, “but still. What’s going on?”
When he just continued to look at him, not even eating his salad, Dean sighed.
“Fine. He came by last night so we could get to know each other better. He’s a pretty nice guy without the cameras on”.
“So he’s nice... and what about your first meeting?”
“Guy’s got some baggage, don’t we all?”
“Dean” Sam said, clearly sceptical, “Are you sure he’s not trying to draw you in? To make you let your guard down?”
“Let my – Sam, we’re not contestants in Survivor, we’re cooking for one another”.
“I know, but he just seems like the kind of guy to pull something like this”.
And that was the problem. Crowley was indeed the kind of guy who would do “something like this.” And Dean knew it.
And yet here he was, text-flirting with him, talking to him last night, all ready to –
He sighed. If only he could figured out what was drawing him in, like a moth to a flame.
At least he could always cook and try and forget about everything else.
Or so he believed.
It was ten pm; he was still working in the kitchen, creating food for the customers who’d come for a late dinner, when Charlie cleared her throat behind him.
Normally, she should have been out front, and he turned around immediately.
“Charlie? What is it?”
“Everything’s fine” she said quickly, “I think. It’s just – someone – I was in the back, just for a sec, texting Gilda, I swear”.
He made a dismissive gesture; he knew her well enough to be sure she wouldn’t risk being away from her post for too long. "Wait, I thought you ended things?"
"No reason not to be friends anymore. But Dean - that's not what I wanted to talk about. As I was texting, there was a knock at the back door”.
He frowned. Who would –
“It’s – I was rather surprised – thought he should probably not be seen here, at least not yet, so I brought Crowley to your office. Just a heads up: He looks like he was run over by a bus which then backed up and drove all over him again”.
Bela had from the first insisted that he must have at least one free evening in the week, and so he was at home at eight pm.
He recognized Rowena’s knock but, as so often before, he couldn’t pretend he wasn’t there.
“Fergus” she said, sweeping past him, “I wanted to see how you were”.
“I am fine as always, Mother” he drawled. God he wished she would leave. He really needed a glass of Craig.
“I have been looking into this Winchester fellow you’ll work with. Quite handsome, isn’t he?”
Make that two glasses.
“Most people seem to think so”.
“He might steal a few of your fans on TV”.
She’d never made a secret out of her disdain for his career, and he’d long stopped caring about her opinions anyway.
“Do you have nothing to say about this?”
“Dean is a talented chef who deserves fans of his own” he said smoothly.
Her eyes narrowed and he forced himself to withstand her gaze. He was not a child anymore, he wasn’t that scared boy of five years who couldn’t understand why his Mum couldn’t love him enough to stop being mean, or why he wasn’t allowed to have friends, or why they kept moving around so much. He had a home and life of his own, and she couldn’t hurt him anymore.
“I’m sure he’s thankful for your attention” she said, “With his Dad gone, he probably desperately needs a father figure”.
Alright, that did hurt, but he didn’t let it show.
“His private life is none of mine concern”.
“Sounds like you want it to be”.
“Mother, I am rather tired. It has been a long week. So perhaps if you would – “
“You’re not kicking me out, are you?”
Crowley took a deep breath. “Of course not. Why would I?”
“Good. It would be a shame if the same thing that happened to your son happened to me”.
No. She wouldn’t. Not even Rowena –
“After all, if you hadn’t kicked him out that day, he would never have been on the plane ride to his mother.”
“Get. Out” he hissed. “Now. Before I forget myself”.
“Fergus, certainly you wouldn’t – “
With a few steps, he was standing right in front of her.
“Yes I would. And I would enjoy it”.
She took one look at him and fled. He was left behind, breathing heavily, his heart beating fast in his chest.
How dare she –
He needed to get out. He needed air.
Crowley would never know how or why he ended up at the backdoor of Pie Heaven once more.
Charlie, Dean decided, had been wrong when she’d described Crowley.
If he’d been hit by a bus twice, he might have looked better than he did.
He was standing in Dean’s office, lost and confused, the opposite of the man he’d been watching on TV for years.
“Crowley?” he asked, hurrying towards him, “What happened?”
He laughed humourlessly.
“Gabriel said – “ He stopped but then decided he might as well go on since he’d let the cat out of the bag already. “Gabriel said that you have had problems. I wasn’t going to – “
Another short, bitter laugh. “Should have known he was up to something”.
“Probably” Dean agreed, and he couldn’t help but think that he knew the look in Crowley’s eyes all too well; how often had he seen it in a mirror, when Dad had been drunk, when he’d had another late phone call from –
He shook his head to get rid of the thought and stepped up to his guest.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“I suppose it would be the responsible way to handle this” Crowley finally sighed when Dean had given up hope that he’d receive an answer. “But I really don’t want to.”
Dean grimaced. He knew that feeling only too well.
And he knew what usually helped.
“Want to give me a hand in the kitchen?” he asked.
Crowley turned to him, obviously surprised, but nodded.
He was surprisingly good company, despite his poor mental state. Charlie kept bustling into the kitchen to check on them, but soon enough it was clear everything was winding down for the night, and that Dean and Crowley worked together surprisingly well.
Dean remembered nights like this, when he had been the one who had to blow off steam, and cooking was both the safest and the healthiest way to do that.
And Sam always liked his late night snacks... until he realized what they meant. Then he began hovering over Dean, trying to make it better, and eventually he had to explain that this was the only way he could feel fine in the morning.
Crowley looked decidedly better by the time they closed up.
“Hey, Chef” Benny called in, “me and Charlie are ready to call it a night. Are you...” he trailed off.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be fine” Dean called out, “Night Benny, Charlie.”
“Good night boss!” Charlie answered and then they were gone.
“Feeling better?” he asked cautiously.
“Yes” Crowley replied, far more relaxed then when he’d arrived. “Actually, I should – “
“Got even better stuff than in my office in my place upstairs. Want a night cap?” Dean quickly interrupted him.
He’d been waiting for this moment. He was familiar with that, too; the realization that one had been weak enough to ask for help, and the desire to get out. Only it was never a sign of weakness to ask for human comfort. It had taken Dean a ridiculously long time to learn that, and it seemed Crowley never had.
He left it up to him whether he wanted to talk or not.
When Crowley accepted his invitation, he seemed surprised at himself.
Dean hadn’t even been lying. He really kept his best alcohol in his apartment.
“So, want to tell me what exactly Mommy dearest did? You don’t have to, I promise” he said once they’d settled on the couch with their drinks.
“She said something about – how much did Gabriel tell you about me?”
“He mentioned a teenage son who died before I could stop him. I’m sorry”.
“Don’t be. In know how he is when he sets his mind on something”.
“Not what I meant” Dean said quietly and was taken aback at how long Crowley needed to figure it out. Had there been no one to offer him sympathy when he lost his only child? It was almost too horrible to imagine.
“I – “ he stopped and Dean resigned himself to finishing his drink in silence when he suddenly continued, “Me and Gavin’s mother split up soon after his birth. I didn’t see him that often – she moved him to California when he was three – but he spent part of every summer with me. We – it was difficult”.
Dean nodded, wondering if he’d ever had the chance of unburdening himself like this before. Probably not.
“By the time he was seventeen, we spent most of our time fighting, and one night, he said he’d had enough and wanted to return to his mother. I felt it would be best to agree. He wouldn’t even let me drive him to the airport. He got into a taxi, and that was the last time I saw him”.
“The plane crashed” Deans aid quietly and Crowley nodded.
“And that’s what your mother reminded you of? What a bitch.”
Crowley chuckled humourlessly.
“Usually I call her “ginger whore” in my head.”
“Works for me”.
Crowley smiled, albeit weakly.
They were interrupted by Dean’s phone. He frowned when he saw the caller ID.
Crowley suddenly started patting his pockets.
“She’s probably wondering where I am – I must have left me phone at home. But why – “
“Hello, Bela – yeah, he’s here. No, no, all’s well. Apart from his mother being a witch. Alright, I’ll tell him. Good night”.
He hung up.
“She said – “
“That I can and should block her on my phone and never speak to her again. She might have mentioned it before”.
“She’s not wrong” Dean said softly, “But I know how difficult it can be. My Mom, she...”
“You don’t have to – “
“No, it’s alright. Mom – we actually thought she was dead for years. At least that was what Dad told us. In truth, she’d gone crazy one night. Sammy was only six months old, and she was convinced there were demons after him. So she set our house on fire”.
“She did what?”
“We all made it out, but... she had to go to a hospital. For a long time. So Dad told us she had died. We were so little we never asked or even wondered about funeral arrangements. And then, a few years back... After Dad had died we learned... She’d never left the hospital, she was still...”
Crowley’s hand was suddenly covering his own, and it was Dean’s turn to laugh bitterly.
“I’m supposed to be the one comforting you”.
“My mother has treated my badly from the second she conceived me in an orgy. You thought yours was dead only to learn she was in a psychiatric hospital. Let’s not discuss who’s had the worse lot”.
“Probably for the best”.
Crowley squeezed his hand and let go.
“Dad... tool it pretty bad. Started drinking heavily. I had to take care of Sam...”
“If it makes you feel better, I never had a father to begin with” Crowley supplied. “Orgy, remember?”
“Thought you said we shouldn’t discuss who had it worse”.
“This was me supporting you”.
“And doing an amazing job” Dean said, but winked to let Crowley know he wasn’t angry. “Anyway, eventually he killed himself in a car accident. By that point we were both grown and had careers, and really, he wasn’t even a big part of our lives anymore. Bobby basically took his place. He lives in Sioux Falls, but visits all the time. When we buried Dad, we thought that was it”.
And now came the difficult part, the one he’d only ever shared with Benny and Charlie. He took a deep breath.
“That wasn’t the end though. She’d been slowly improving for years, and when we visited her, her healing seemed to... She was released eventually. Do you want to know how long she stayed with us? Three days. She left because – in the hospital, she’d been holding on to the thought of her babies. And when she came out and realized we weren’t... that we were grown men with lives of our own, she left. She travels a lot. Calls me from time to time to wax poetry about the places she goes and the people she meets”.
And she never asked how they were, because her children were still babies in her mind, unsullied by the world.
He stopped talking.
After a pause, Crowley said, “I suppose neither of us had parents worth the name. Not that I did a better job, when it came down to it”.
“Hey, you tried, and I can tell you loved Gavin”.
“Who am I to judge that? The first two months after Mom left, I wouldn’t talk about her, although Sam tried. God, we are a mess”.
“I can only agree” Crowley said drily.
Dean chuckled. “Not that I don’t like sharing my feelings until the dawn of day, I think we should both try and get some sleep.”
“Probably” Crowley agreed.
“You can stay here, if you want” Dena offered.
The other chef raised an eyebrow.
“Are you suggesting.”
“No, God no – “ Realizing that he sounded way too hostile and wanting to remedy that (although the logical part of his brain told him that this would be an ideal out since he wasn’t trying to – but he’d already stopped listening) he corrected himself, “I don’t think that’s a decision either of us should make in the state of mind we’re in”.
Oh God. He’d just more or less told Crowley “I would take you to bed only this is not the right time”.
And he’d understood, if the gleam in his eyes was anything to go by.
“Sadly, I think you are right”.
“You’d be surprised how often that happens”. Dean smiled. He really shouldn’t, but –
He leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Crowley’s lips.
“You can have my bed. The couch is comfy enough”.
Crowley, strangely flustered, replied, “I would never kick you out – “
“Dude, you’re not kicking me out of bed; I sleep on the couch often enough when I am too tired to move. I bet I’ve got some old clothes you can wear...”
“Thank you, Dean”.
“Just trying to help out”.
He did indeed find old t-shirts and boxers Crowley could wear, and after he’d been to the bathroom first, on Crowley’s insistence, he told him good night.
He didn’t expect Crowley to draw him into another gentle kiss.
“When I said thank you” he murmured against his lips “I meant it”.
Dean could only nod.
He squeezed his biceps before stepping away.
“Call out if you need anything. Sweet dreams”.
Even if Crowley wasn’t blessed with those, at least he slept well after a visit from his mother – for the first time in years.
Waking up in a strange bed usually included hastily gathering his clothes and beating a dignified retreat.
Not this morning.
Instead, Crowley, after having checked the time and found that it was barely six am, lay still for a while longer.
He’d known that he was attracted to Dean, and that the sentiment was returned. But last night... it hadn’t felt like one of his usual flings. On the contrary, it felt like something new, something he’d never experienced before, not even with Gavin’s mother.
He couldn’t quite decide if it was exhilarating or terrifying. Perhaps both.
He got up and grabbed his clothes. When he emerged from the bathroom fully dressed with the exception of his tie, Dean was still dead to the world on the couch. Crowley figured it was only polite to make him breakfast.
He only hoped he liked it savoury.
Crowley was pretty sure he did after finding both bacon and eggs in the well-ordered kitchen.
After another glance at Dean (that might have lasted longer than he had any right to) he began to cook.
It was easier than to remember the kisses they had shared yesterday and wondering just what they hell they were doing and, whatever “it” was, where it was going.
Dean woke up slowly. That wasn’t unusual; he’d never been an early riser.
What was unusual was the delicious smell wafting through his apartment. He needed a few moments to remember who could possibly be cooking in his home at that hour.
He got up.
“You didn’t have to do that”.
Crowley shrugged. “I was up and decided I might as well. I assume you have nothing against eggs and bacon?”
Dean winked at him. “And here I thought I’d get pancakes”.
He thankfully accepted the cup of coffee Crowley handed him, feeling a bit underdressed in his t-shirt and boxers.
At least Crowley hadn’t put on his tie.
“I could tell you where the sugar is, but I have the feeling you don’t put it in your coffee”.
“How very observant of you” he drawled.
Dean hesitated for a moment but then decided that, since they’d been so honest with each other last night, he might as well ask.
“Is that... because of your mother?”
After a pause during which Dean began to fear he’d gone to gar, Crowley answered, “When I was a child and she’d... there’d been a situation, she always bought me sweets afterwards. Said a spoonful of sugar was supposed to make everything better. It didn’t.”
His hands had started to shake as he remembered. And Dean would have been lying if he said he didn’t remember what exactly that felt like.
Crowley blinked at him as he pushed a glass of orange juice into his hands.
“What – “
“Can’t risk you associating coffee with something awful, but no one can hate orange juice”.
Crowley laughed, and it was the sort of laugh Dean would have liked to hear far more often from him: genuine and heartfelt.
“I suppose you’re right. I’ve never had anything against orange juice.”
“Baby steps. We’ll get you used to sugar eventually. You’re missing out, dude”.
“I have never felt that way”.
“Oh, you never met someone like me”.
“That is true” Crowley admitted as he caught Dean’s eyes.
The chef swallowed, remembering the two kisses they had shared.
“Didn’t think you were the type to make compliments”.
“We learn something new about ourselves every day.”
Bela Talbot was not a very patient woman, but she didn’t have to be in her line of work. No, her work consisted of knowing what her clients wanted and how to get it – and even more importantly, knowing what her clients needed, preferably before they even became aware of it.
Fergus Crowley had long ago become her favourite client. He had his unpleasant days, but he was usually honest and he wasn’t afraid to stand up for himself.
And she had known for a while now that he was lonely.
He didn’t think he was, of course. Truly lonely people never did, for the simply reason they had forgotten how it felt not to be. But Crowley? He had no one. His mother was a shrew (mildly put), his son had tragically died, and he certainly had no friends he spent his time with.
So, looking out for potential partners had become something of a hobby of hers. Not in a creepy way, certainly; but important enough that she realized immediately whether Crowley liked someone or not.
And with Dean Winchester, all the signs had been there right from the beginning. And, perhaps even more importantly, he’d liked Crowley too. Sure, they’d been fighting, but Bela recognized chemistry when she saw it.
And this very chemistry was probably to blame for her now driving up to Winchester’s place, having first got a new suit from Crowley’s.
He liked to be dressed impeccably, and as long as she could check on him...
She should have dealt with that woman who dared call herself his mother long ago.
Dean lived just over his restaurant. Convenient, she guessed.
It also meant she found Charlie Bradbury, if she remembered her name correctly, staring at the locked door of Pie Heaven. She was about to call someone on her phone, probably Dean, so she said, “I assure you everything’s fine”.
Charlie whirled around. When she saw the suit in Bela’s hand, her eyes widened.
“Am I to understand – “
“I would never discuss details of a client’s private life”.
“Of course not” Charlie replied, her eyes sparkling. “I, however, am one of Dean’s closest friends, so I get to speculate all I want. And since you are here with a suit I am rather certain I saw Crowley wear on the day of our first meeting...”
“You can surmise all you want, I won’t stop you”.
“Alright, guess I’ll get coffee then and let them a few more moments together”.
Bela nodded. After she’d rung the bell to Dean’s apartment, Charlie said quietly, “He’s been alone for quite some time. I want him to have a partner who treats him the way he deserves”.
“Do not worry Miss Bradbury, I am working on it” Bela assured her.
“It’s Charlie. Wanna accompany me for coffee once you’ve seen the lovebirds?”
“Yes” she decided, “I’d like that very much”.
The bell sounded as they were putting away their plates. Dean went to answer it while Crowley stayed in the kitchen.
“Bela dropped this off for you” Dean told him walking in five minutes later.
Crowley frowned. “She didn’t want to talk to me?”
“She said she was going to see you at the studio later” Dean told him, emphasis on the last word. “If you ask me, she’d got somewhere to be. There was a certain spring in her step...”
“I hope not. She’s the best agent I’ve ever had”.
“A relationship doesn’t have to mean she wouldn’t be anymore”.
“I guess you’re right” Crowley said lightly.
Dena touched his hand. “How are you today? Really?”
“I’m much better than I was last night”.
“No offense but that isn’t exactly reassuring”.
Crowley caught his hand as he started to withdraw it.
“No, Dean. You really... this... it helped. Thank you”.
Awkward and blushing was a good look on him, Dean decided, but he probably shouldn’t let him know at this very moment. Bela had had an entirely too knowing look in her eyes as she’d handed him the suit; and there’d even been a hit of a threat in her voice as she’d asked him to “Look after him”.
He suddenly realized how late it was and cursed. He’d completely forgotten the time. Charlie must be standing in front of closed doors.
He called her while he was making his way downstairs, Crowley staying behind to change.
“Charlie. Sorry for being late”.
“No problem. As a matter of fact, I have to be thankful...” She giggled. “Did you enjoy your night?”
“Enjoy my – Charlie Bradbury, who have you been talking to?”
“No one who concerns you... at the moment. But I understand you have someone to help you open up shop. Enjoy!”
Hearing Crowley come up behind him, Dean said, “I really need to reign them in, one of these days”, shaking his head. “That’s what happens when your employees are also your best friends”.
“That never happened to me” Crowley said smoothly.
“So you have friends among other chefs or something?”
Dean turned around to find him shuffling his feet.
“I don’t really have any”.
Man, he was much lonelier than Dean had thought. He really had no one to comfort him when he was feeling bad, or to check up on him occasionally? Then again, if he had, he probably wouldn’t have made his way to his place yesterday.
Dean told himself he wasn’t as pleased about that fact as he actually felt.
“So... do you have somewhere to be or will you help me open Pie Heaven?”
As always, Crowley grimaced when he heard the name but he seemed comfortable enough once they were in the restaurant.
He had absolutely no reason to stay with Dean any longer, so it only made sense that he did, because these days it seemed like he never did the logical thing.
Dean Winchester had a way of getting past all logic and barriers he’d set up over the years to protect himself.
What was he getting tangled up with?
And yet, watching him bring the restaurant slowly to life...
He couldn’t help but think that this might just be worth it.
Once Benny, Garth and Charlie had arrived (the latter considerably past her time, and looking suspiciously happy), Dean took the time to drive him to the studio.
“You really don’t have to do that”.
“I want to, and you haven’t met baby yet”.
Baby, Crowley soon learned, was an admittedly breathtakingly beautiful car.
“Chevy Impala... I’d say around `66?
“`67 actually” Dean answered, studying him with an impressed look. “Best series ever”.
“You’ve taken good care of... her”.
“Dad bought it before me and Sam were born. To this day I am glad he wasn’t driving her when he died. That car was unsalvageable”.
Crowley winced in sympathy.
“It would have been a shame” he agreed once he’d got in.
“Man after my own heart”.
Crowley spent the rest of the drive pretending that his own heart wasn’t doing some very interesting tricks after that.
After Dean had stopped the car, he looked at him and smiled softly.
“Have a good day”.
He leaned in and kissed him gently.
“Call me? Just to let me know you are alright?”
He could only nod.
No one had ever treated him so gently before.
Bela was awaiting him with a smile on her face.
He returned her greeting.
“How are you?” Her expression dropped as she asked the question, and he was surprised at the real concern she was showing.
“I...” he trailed off for a moment, remembering Rowena’s visit. He forced himself to think of Dean and how he had reacted to seeing him in his restaurant. “Yes. My mother chose to be her usual annoying self last night”.
“I heard. Do you want me to –“
“I’d like a new phone, please” he told her. “Without her number”.
“What were you even thinking?” Dean mumbled to himself at the next red traffic light. “He’s not your freaking boyfriend, for Christ’s sake. He’s more successful than you’ll ever be, and he just had a difficult night. You can’t just...”
He noticed that the little old lady from the car next to him was staring and decided to shut up.
Seriously, though. What had prompted him to kiss Crowley again? Last night, at least they’d had the excuse that they were both emotionally compromised.
Maybe he hadn’t even wanted to kiss him now. Dean felt nauseous at the thought of forcing him to –
Alright, alright, calm down Winchester. This is easy. You just see what signs he sends, and if he’s not interested, you take a step back, watch some Asian cartoon porn, and get over it.
Only that was easier said than done, because his crush (time he finally admitted to himself that that was exactly what it had been) had been growing and changing into something else since they moment they met in real life.
And that something could easily become very dangerous and very very inconvenient if Dean wasn’t too careful.
He swore again when he realized.
Between the kisses they had shared and the sleepover and breakfast –
It might already be too late.
The day of the contest slowly drew nearer. Dean and Crowley kept sending texts and calling each other, despite Dean knowing better than to nurse his crush (as he had decided to continue calling it because anything else would make things... complicated). The other chef was surprisingly funny if he wanted to be, even kind in his own weird way; and Dean could feel himself falling deeper every single day.
He pretended his bad mood was due to him being nervous, but sadly his close friend and his brother knew him better than that.
“Dean, what’s the matter?” Sam asked one day. He’d invited Dean to watch the Sunday night football game, and who was he to refuse.
“What do you mean? I’m fine. Just a little nervous with everything going on...”
“I know you. It’s more than just the show. And Charlie said you’ve been jumpy lately. What’s going on?”
Dean looked away.
“Did she tell you...”
“That Crowley spent the night? Yeah. You know she overshares a lot. I was trying to bring it up.”
“Yeah, he did come to me, alright? Guy just had a terrible visit from his mother and needed to vent.”
“And he came to you? You’d seen each other like what, two times before that?”
Dean was silent.
“Dean, what is going on between you two?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I am your brother, and I care.”
Dean took a deep breath.
“We haven’t... you know. But there’s... something. And now and then, I think he likes me too.”
“So what’s stopping you from asking?”
“Have you seen him? And then there’s me.”
“Awesome guy with his own business. I see no problem.”
Dean smiled softly. “I know you don’t, Sammy.”
“Then neither should Crowley. I always thought he came across as pretty smart in his show.”
“He is” Dean agreed. And funny, and hot, and actually rather decent...
“And he came to you for comfort. Already shows he knows what you’re worth.”
Dean shook his head. “I’m probably the only one apart from his agent he talks to on a regular basis.”
Sam blinked. “Do you know how freaking sad that sounds?”
“Oh God. Charlie is right. You’ve both been burned before, and now you’re scared of taking the next step.”
“Wait, weren’t you all “I’d rather you don’t get close to someone who could hurt you” before?”
“I was” Sam admitted, “but now... You’re already pretty much – “
“Don’t you think I know?” Dean interrupted him. “Believe me, I do. I also know we’ll do the show, ad I’ll never see him again, and that’ll be it.”
“Dean” Sam said quietly, pained.
He could only shrug again helplessly.
“You know how it is, Sammy; good things only happen to other people.”
By the time he had reached the age of fifty, Crowley had considered himself to be safe from any romantic entanglements, not to say juvenile infatuations. And yet here he was, a few years later, on set between takes, waiting like a school girl with a crush on the next text.
“You know, staring at your phone doesn’t make him type faster. I know from experience” Gabriel said behind his back and Crowley put it in his pocket, already annoyed.
“What are you doing here? This is my show.”
“It is, I just wanted to watch you in your natural habitat.”
He rolled his eyes. “We’re going to –“
“Oh I know, like I said, I just wanted to observe.”
Crowley grit his teeth and stepped away. He caught Bela’s eyes but she just shrugged her shoulders. He knew her well enough to be certain she’d do her outmost to remove Gabriel from the set.
HE stepped up to the contestants. A redhead who would have reminded him of Charlie, except that she was clearly after blood from no matter whom, smiled at him seductively.
Thank you, sweetheart, you’re not my type. Her eyes weren’t green enough, and...
Dear God, he needed to get this under control and fast. He couldn’t keep pining after Dean.
Balthazar gave him a sign that the cameras were turned on and he immediately switched into his well-practiced persona.
“What do we have here?”
“ Strawberry dessert soup“ the redhead said proudly and a little cocky, like many of those who’ve thought to conquer his aversion to sweets over the years. The joke was on her; he could already tell it wasn’t particularly well-prepared. She had overused the food colouring. Disgusting.
He took a sip anyway. At least it didn’t make him sick, like three memorable dishes had over the course of his career.
“At least now I know what I will have served on my funeral so people leave faster” he said smoothly, watching Abaddon’s – finally, he’d remembered her name – face fall.
All in all, it was a good day.
Strawberry. Dessert. Soup.
Dean winced in sympathy for anyone who’d tried that recipe on Crowley.
I know, but mine’s actually pretty good.
You almost make me curious.
Dean knew better than to invite Crowley. He knew better.
He still typed out an invitation.
Whenever you’ve got the time.
He was a stupid son of a bitch. Dean sighed as he pit the phone away.
“Everything fin, chef?”
He looked at Garth.
“Sure. Don’t worry about me.”
“But you look...”
“I’m fine. Promise”.
He nodded. “Aright, but you know you can always talk to me?”
He really loved his team.
The last thing he expected was Crowley to arrive an hour later after having wrapped for the day. And yet there he was, at the back door again.
“That curious for my soup?” Dean asked innocently.
“More eager to get away from the stupidity of others.”
“Fine by me.”
“Hey Garth” Dean called out, “Can you take over for a bit? I need to teach someone something about sweets.”
“Sure things, Chef” was all the answer he got and he led Crowley into the kitchen where Garth did a good job of pretending to ignore them.
Dean quickly prepared the ingredients.
“Ready for me to rock your world?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
Dean hoped that no one would notice his blush.
He heard a familiar giggle and was instantly convinced that Charlie had seen them. Why did she have to keep peeping into the kitchen anyway?
“He was in good form today” Balthazar told Bela, “we should have no problem with the next two episodes, at least.”
“He’s been in a good mood lately” she agreed, smiling conspiratorially.
“Gabriel says he and Winchester have hit it off, but it’s Gabriel we’re talking about, so I was cautious. Any chance we can pull off a big live gay love story?”
She shot him an unimpressed look.
He raised his hands.
“Hey, just asking. Anything to boost the ratings.”
“Of course not. I’m not like...” he trailed off.
Bela was growing rather concerned with Gabriel. He was so obsessed with drama and ratings that he might easily pull off something just to make either Dean, Crowley or both look incredibly stupid so he could appear as the good guy next to them.
Not on my watch, Mister.
Crowley would admit that he was curious. He didn’t really expect to be converted to a sweet tooth, but Dean thought so much of his recipe (and he was by all reports a good chef) that he couldn’t help but wonder.
They made small talk while Dean cooked, just chatting about their day. Crowley had never met someone before who was so genuinely interested in what he had been doing, not even the most rabid fans. Maybe because he’d never had the feeling they saw the real him, while Dean was apparently already familiar with the man he was, faults and all, and more than that – he seemed to like him.
It was getting more and more difficult not to think of Dean’s lips on his own, so gentle and yet so demanding...
“There” Dean finally announced, looking proud, “if this doesn’t do its job I’m closing my restaurant”.
“Don’t. It would be a shame.”
Once he’d realize what he’d said, Crowley looked away. Only a few short weeks ago he had considered Pie Heaven an eyesore, all but running the location of his new place, and now he couldn’t imagine not being able to drop in anymore.
Dean served him the soup. Already he could tell that there was no food colouring in play here. Dean obviously felt he didn’t need it.
He took a sip.
“And?” Dean asked, smirking.
Crowley didn’t know what to say. Finally he cleared his throat.
“Damn you. I can’t begin to like sweets; it’s my whole gimmick.”
Dean pumped his fist into the air. “Knew it! No one resists strawberries.”
“I have done a good job so far” he argued, continuing to eat. He wasn’t going to forego a good meal just out of principle.
Dean grinned. “You might have, but you hadn’t met the power that is Dean Winchester yet.”
He had to acquiesce. How had he managed to get under his skin so quickly? Normally he should have thrown the plate across the kitchen and declared the soup inedible, but it was too delicious to even pretend to lie. And Dean’s smiles were infectious.
Bela’s phone rang. She smiled when she saw Charlie’s name.
The redhead was not calling her to flirt, however.
“Bela” she whispered excitedly, “You won’t believe this. Dean made Crowley a desert soup, and he likes it.”
She blinked. “Could you repeat that?”
“Chef Fergus Crowley is devouring something sweet.”
I’ll believe that when I see it”.
Charlie hung up without another word, and if she hadn’t already been familiar with her impulsiveness, Bela would have been rather angry; but she only waited and soon enough, her text alert rang out.
And there was the picture of Crowley consuming the soup, clearly taken in secret. Dean was smiling at him in a way that made Balthazar’s live gay love story seem much more realistic than before.
I am looking at it and I still don’t believe it, she texted back.
I am watching it live and trying to convince myself I didn’t enter a parallel universe. Do you even know how many times Dean had complained about Savoury & Savoury?
Surely not as often as Crowley moaned about Pie Heaven. It was something of an obsession even before they met.
Omg meant to be, that’s OTP material right there.
I have no idea what you mean.
Oh, don’t worry, I’ll explain it to you in person. Dinner tonight?
Bela could only accept the invitation.
Now that Dean had made him try desert and he’d liked it, Crowley was more than ever focused on his lips.
It didn’t really make sense, but so it was.
“So...” Dean was saying, but he appeared to have developed the same problem, since his eyes kept trailing away from Crowley’s. “Are you ready to be more open to the sweet things in life now?”
Crowley made a decision. If he was acting stupid, he might as well do it off his own free will.
“I think so” he said slowly, getting up.
He stepped towards Dean.
The other chef’s pupils widened.
Crowley reached out and cradled his face in his hand.
“In fact, I might start right now. Unless you stop me”.
Dean licked his lips. “No objections here. Show me what you got.”
He drew him into a demanding kiss.
It turned out Dean gave as good as he got.
Charlie got a text from Garth.
You need to look into the kitchen now.
When she did, she found Dean and Crowley making out against one of the fridges.
Good God, he made Dean actually forget about his borderline OCD.
She took another picture to send Bela.
I think things are about to get really interesting.
And that, she thought as she pressed the button, might even be an understatement.
Shout-out to songofhell, who made me realize the small detail that I had Charlie dating Gilda and apparently leaving her for Bela with no explanation. Woops. In case you don't want to go over the fixed version: She and Gilda were just friends with benefits, and she was ready for something serious. Enjoy!
Quite frankly, it was sheer luck that he stumbled across Crowley’s agent and her pretty date in that small diner. They probably had quite enough haute cuisine due to their jobs.
He’d always known how to sneak past someone unobserved, and he was good with his hands.
Ten minutes later, her phone was his. He grinned. Now if only he could find something incriminating on Crowley and sent it to himself before returning the phone to her purse...
And then he found it.
Dear God, he had no idea things had progressed quite that far. Dean Winchester and Fergus Crowley, kissing?
That was sure to get them headlines. Yeah, Dean and Crowley would probably be upset, maybe even at each other – it was Bela’s phone after all. There might be a lover’s quarrel during the show! How delightful! He’d make sure to pour oil in the flames, of course. No one wanted boring television.
Now all he had to do is call his old friend at TMZ...
The day of the contest dawned. Dean went to bed the night before feeling like he was pretty well prepared, and eager to see where things were going.
For once he didn’t listen to the negative voice inside his head. Surely someone like Crowley would not be leading him on just for a TV show.
No, what they had was... something.
They hadn’t made out since that day in Pie Heaven, but they had been texting constantly, and Crowley had finally blocked his mother on his phone. It made Dean happier than he’d have liked to admit.
Charlie woke him up at seven, despite Garth having taken over the restaurant for the day.
He groaned as he answered his phone. “Come on Charlie, what – “
“Dean, I’m so sorry! I swear it wasn’t me or Bela! I have no idea what happened – “
“Charlie” he said tiredly, “Could you tell me what I am supposed to be angry about before you apologize?”
He could actually hear her gulp and sat up in bed, instantly alarmed.
“You know, a few days ago when Crowley visited you in the kitchen...”
“Please don’t tell me you made fanart of us”.
“No. That might have been better.”
“Charlie, what have you done?”
“I told you nothing, I just wanted Bela to see – “
“Charlie – “
“There’s a picture of you kissing all over the internet” she rushed out and Dean froze.
“I – I have no idea how anyone got their hand on it. Bela’s furious and I am working on it; but it’s already on so many sites, I don’t know...”
“Charlie – “
He got up and hurried to his laptop.
Crap. Charlie’s new phone really had an excellent camera. They were clearly identifiable. A Recipe For Love, TMZ proudly declared.
Dean felt dizzy.
“What – “
His bell rang. He stumbled over to the door, telling Charlie to wait.
He wasn’t surprised to find Crowley strolling in.
“It wasn’t me” he said immediately, “Or Charlie.”
“Dean, I know that. I wanted to make sure that you’re...” Crowley’s eyes travelled down his body and he stopped talking.
Dean suddenly remembered that he had only worn boxer shorts to bed.
“Ahm... yeah... let me just put something on.”
“Please don’t exert yourself on my account” he drawled and Dean blushed as he hurried into his bedroom.
“Dean!?” Charlie screamed into her phone. He winced.
“Sorry – Crowley was at the door.”
“Oh dear, does he think – “
“No. He wanted to check up on me, I think.”
“Aw, that’s so sweet” she cooed, forgetting her worries for a moment.
“Thank you Miss Bradbury”.
Dean all but jumped into the air. “I thought you were going to wait in the living room!”
“I could have, but what is the point? We have to deal with this.”
“First of all we should figure out who – “
“Gabriel Spreight?” he and Charlie asked at the same time.
Crowley took his phone out of his hand. “Miss Bradbury, excuse me, but Dean and I need to talk. Would you – “
“Of course not. But I am calling Dean again later, your Highness” she snapped, understandably a little jumpy herself before hanging up.
“I hope I didn’t make her angry”.
“Charlie’s as quick to forgive as she is to anger” Dean replied. “So what makes you think it was Gabriel?”
Crowley looked at him. Dean cursed, remembering the day he’d tried to hive him information on the other chef just to provoke him.
“Whether you like it or not, we’ll get more quotes that way.”
“Quotes... that’s my freaking life on the title page, Crowley! And he probably thought we’d be angry at each other, too! And I bet he’s – “ He broke off, feeling a little dizzy.
“Hey. Dean? Dean! Breathe for me.”
Next thing he knew, he was lying in Crowley’s arms and he was rubbing circles into his back.
He took a few deep breaths before he realized –
“Did you forego the tie? Again?”
“I didn’t even realize I wasn’t wearing one.”
“Man, you must really have been concerned” he chuckled against his neck.
“I was... interested how you took the news.”
Dean snorted. “You really know how to sweet-talk a guy.”
He shook his head and stepped back – although not too far away. Crowley’s presence grounded him.
Crowley immediately answered by stepping up to kiss him.
Dean was acutely reminded that he was wearing nothing but boxers.
“Crowley...” he breathed against his lips.
He looked at him, apparently unconcerned. “The way I see it... we might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Dean really tried to convince himself that this was a bad idea. But on the other hand, Crowley was right there, and what else was he supposed to do? Freak out over the press?
He drew him into a more passionate kiss.
Later, Dean couldn’t say how much later, lying in bed next to Crowley and basking in the afterglow, he began, “So Gabriel stole Bela’s phone and went to the press. What do we do now?”
Crowley grinned. He looked about as dangerous as he looked hot, and damn if that wasn’t confusing.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
Charlie seldom let anything really disconcert her, having long ago learned that life just wasn’t fair.
But this was Dean’s life they were talking about, her best friend’s life, and she was pissed. Once she had hung up, she called everyone she could think off, including Sam, to let them know that Dean and Crowley needed some time to themselves. Then, she got into contact with Bela again.
“Gabriel better prepare himself. I’ll kill him with my own two hands” she hissed instead of a greeting. “Next time he comes even close to my stuff, I – “
“Bela” she interjected gently, “not that I am not going to fry the guy’s hardware, but – “
“I know. How are Crowley and Dean doing?”
“They’re together and they’re working it out” she told her firmly because she had to believe that they were strong enough to deal with the media onslaught.
She nodded even though Bela couldn’t see her. “What’s the coverage like?”
Charlie could have gone through it herself, but the agent had more experience with stuff like that.
“Mostly positive. Don’t get me wrong, there’s your usual homophobic nut jobs ranting at the wa the world goes, but many just seem over the top happy that they can finally write something else about Crowley besides “wow he almost liked that cake.””
Charlie breathed a sigh of relief.
“They’ll have to live with being in the public eye for a while, but other than that, we should be good.”
She was distracting from answering by Dean arriving at Pie Heaven and slamming the door behind him with an expression on his face she had never wanted to see. Her heart sank.
“Beal, you need to talk to Crowley now. Something’s happened.”
She hurried after him into the kitchen. Dean was busy angrily cleaning the counter.
“Don’t, Charlie, alright? I know it’s not your fault. I just need some time, okay?”
“Please, I just want to get today over with.”
She swallowed and left. Benny had just arrived and immediately knew from her expression that something had gone terribly wrong.
“I read the article... I take it things aren’t going so well?”
“That’s an understatement” she said, hoping desperately that Bela could get an explanation out of Crowley.
They had agreed to meet in the studio; Dean had readily accepted that Crowley, as the one with experience in the business, should oversee most of the preparations for the show.
Bela might have been a bit worried about the press, but she hadn’t expected this.
Before she’d even seen Crowley, Balthazar came into the room.
“What the hell happened? I thought he could be a bastard before, but this – I only said good morning, and he almost bit my head off. Now we all know who’s responsible for this, and if Gabriel decides to rile him up – “
“What – Balthazar, wait – last thing I know, he sent me a text that he was going to see Dean – “
He didn’t allow her to continue but ran out of the room. She followed him outside where sadly Gabriel Spreight had just found Crowley.
“Don’t you two make a cute pair... the media’ll be all over you two sweethearts.”
“We aren’t sweethearts” Crowley snapped. “We’re not together, and you had no right to –“
“Now, now, Fergus, calm down.”
He actually looked like he might punch him, and Bela all but dragged him to his room.
“Crowley – “
“Aren’t you supposed to prevent things like this” he snarled, “rather than be the instigator?”
She flinched. “I swear I never intended for that picture to – “
“Your good intentions don’t interest me. Deal with this.”
And he slammed the door behind him.
Bela took a few deep breaths and joined Balthazar and Gabriel, who looked far too pleased with himself.
“Are you happy now?” she asked tiredly. “What do you even get out of this?”
“Drama, my dear.” He raised his hands dramatically into the air. Don’t forget I am the Trickster.”
“The nickname the press gave you does you little credit” she observed calmly. She had never respected those who created chaos just for the sake of it.
He stuck his tongue out at her and skipped away.
“Bela...” Balthazar said slowly. “Is he – “
“I think apart from destroying the possibility of a relationship that might actually have made him happy he’s fine” she replied sarcastically.
Balthazar sighed. “I feared as much. That one article had both pictures... The kiss was cute enough, but the one before, where he tries the soup... I’ve never seen that expression on his face.”
“I don’t think we’re likely to again” she replied, at a loss what to do for once in her life.
Still, she knew her job.
“I would rather not release anything to the press before the show. Let them guess; it might also led to better quotes because the public are wondering what’s going on. If Crowley is still in the same mood...” She paused.
“At least Gabriel will have the show he wants” Balthazar said bitterly.
She could only nod.
“So you’re saying we just try and control the damage later? Fine.”
“Don’t you have a say in this?” she asked .
“Honestly? I don’t want to. Crowley has brought in many viewers in the past few years, and God knows he isn’t as much of a bastard as everyone believes.”
Until now, she’d been rather sure that Balthazar was rather wary of Crowley, but he continued, “I actually think he’s a good guy, deep down. And everyone deserves to be happy. Quite frankly, if Winchester’s interest hadn’t been caught by someone else... Well, my point is, I want my star to be happy. Gabriel just decided to air his private life for everyone. Let’s just get this over with and hope for the best.”
It was all they could do.
"This is not going to end well“ Sam announced. He and Dean’s best friends had met up to watch the live broadcast; Charlie had only barely managed to keep him from driving to the studio and demanding an explanation of what had happened between his brother and Crowley.
The redhead had bounced back remarkably quickly, too. “I wouldn’t be so sure. Don’t get me wrong, Dean’s impulsive, but he’s no idiot. He won’t take it out on Rowley for long.”
“And Crowley? You know the guy who makes a living being an asshole on TV?”
She waved his concerns away. “You haven’t see him with Dean. Heart eyes, I tell you.”
Sam sighed. “Still, I’ll be glad when this is over.”
“I’ll be so glad when this is over” Balthazar declared at the same time. “God knows what we’ll end up with, if Gabriel continues to be himself.”
Dean had arrived an hour ago, as morose and angry as Crowley; had barely interacted with any of them; and had made a point of ignoring Crowley’s very existence. Both Balthazar and Bela were beginning to worry that the chefs would cook something disgusting on purpose.
Gabriel skipped over to them, clearly high on sugar. “That’s how you make good TV.”
“That’s how you break people” Bela hissed.
“Seriously? Considering who your boss is, we’re acting a little hypocritical, aren’t we?”
Then something strange happened. Balthazar was absolutely sure Bela was about to punch Gabriel in the face, and he would have let her. No, screw that; he would have pulled out his phone and recorded the whole thing to cherish for later. But then Crowley entered the studio, and a look Balthazar couldn’t read passed between them. She was instantly calm again, and simply turned to walk up to her boss.
What had that been about?
The show began, and yes, that was Dean’s angry face. Sam gulped. The last thing his brother needed as bad press before he –
“Welcome to the very first episode of Kitchen Wars! Are you excited!? I sure am!!!”
He rolled his eyes watching Gabriel Spreight bounce around. “I am starting to believe your story of him eating all these sweets in here.”
“I told you. It was almost scary”.
“So as you well know, the two competing chefs are more than just colleagues – I’m sure you all saw the picture, if not – “
Oh God, he was actually holding it into the camera. That bastard.
“I am going to sue the pants off of him” he swore.
“You won’t have to once I am done with him” Charlie promised, “There’ll be nothing left for him to give.”
“And that’s the guy who had a problem with me when I befriended Dean because I had committed some petty theft” Benny hugged. Sam turned to him with a wince.
“Sorry man, I just – “
“It’s alright. You’ve explained yourself often enough. I am just waiting for this to start properly. I know Dean. When push comes to shove, he’ll go after the real enemy.”
For the first fifteen minutes before the break, it certainly didn’t look like that.
“Dean, would you like to introduce yourself?”
“I am the owner of Pie Heaven, sadly a neighbour of this abomination Savoury & Savoury” he said, imitating a British accent. Badly.
“At least I know how to make dishes without two cups of sugar” Crowley drawled.
It just got worse form there.
“If this doesn’t change, we need to go there” Charlie decided. Sam could only nod.
Gabriel was even more enthusiastic when the show came back on, apparently delighting in the chaos he had created.
And then something shifted.
Crowley was the first to prepare his recipe. “I have decided to make a chateaubriand with brandy-mustard sauce, since a certain someone is a little too partial to red meat for his health when he isn’t busy stuffing himself with pie.”
It was said without heat, and indeed when he turned to look at Dean, his expression was almost... gentle?
“What the – “ Sam began as Dean stepped up to him.
“I’m not sure you’re allowed to, we’re competing, you know...”
“That’s too bad” Dean said, winking at him.
“Oh dear God.” Charlie was bouncing up and down on the sofa. “They are gay flirting on live television. I have been waiting my whole life for this.”
“Now, now, Dean” Gabriel, obviously taken aback, tried to regain control of the situation. “We don’t want any other sensational pictures for the press, do we? I mean, I – ”
“I have no idea. Crowley?” Dean asked.
As an answer, the other chef grabbed his t-shirt and drew him into a passionate kiss.
Charlie squealed, then added, “Ew, I didn’t really need to see that, but still!”
“Benny” Sam said weakly, “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“I told you. Dean is going in for the kill. Seems to have found a partner in crime, too” he said calmly.
Gabriel cleared his throat. “Keep it PG, guys, seriously, if I had known you would do that I wouldn’t have had to go through the trouble of stealing your agent’s phone...”
“Yes!” Charlie called out, jumping up and pumping her fists in the air. “We got him! They got him!”
On the screen, Gabriel apparently didn’t know what to do. He blinked, then tried another tactic. “Aren’t the lovebirds adorable? Can someone now concentrate on the food?”
“Why? We all know you’ll only be interested when the sweets come out.”
“Oh, I’ve got plenty of sweets right here” Crowley drawled, nudging Dean. He laughed.
“You sure I can’t help him? He’s adorable?”
“Fergus Crowley adorable? I don’t think you’d see many people agreeing with you” Gabriel commented.
“See they just don’t know him very well” Dean told him. “Me, on the other hand...” He grinned as he sat down, watching Crowley.
“Ladies and gents, get yourself a man who looks way too sexy in a chef uniform especially when he’s preparing food.”
“On the other hand” Crowley replied without taking his eyes of the pan, “It might be a good idea not to have a boyfriend who’ll love anyone as long as they feed him regularly.”
“Did he just say boyfriend?” Sam exclaimed.
“What did you expect?” Benny asked. “They’re old enough to know that they want.”
“Oh dear” Charlie mumbled, working on her tablet, “It’s all over twitter. People are basically screaming into the void.”
“Please tell me the reactions are...”
“Oh don’t worry, most are screeching about how cute they are and how Gabriel Spreight seems like a douche right now” she said. “Shouldn’t have admitted that he stole private property to boost ratings.”
They could only lean back and watch as Crowley cooked a meal for Dean, the two of them either ignoring Gabriel’s presence or making fun of him. The moderator was growing more and more hassled, and it was an absolute pleasure to watch.
Dean loved the steak, of course, then began making the pie he’d told Sam about.
Charlie entertained them by reading tweets out loud.
“Get a man who looks at you like Dean Winchester while @chefcrowley hits that meat.”
“Seriously though it’s so unfair I have been watching him forever, what does Chef Winchester have what I haven’t.”
“Gabriel Spreight is about to have a coronary on live television. I am waiting until he collapses to open the champagne.”
“Looks like they’ve got fans” Sam mused.
“After this, Dean has to get a Twitter account for Pie Heaven” Charlie decided. “He’s denied me my chance of internet fame for too long.”
“As if you weren’t already working on that in deep – “
“Benny, Sam doesn’t need to know about that.”
The competition ended exactly like viewers could expect. Gabriel was all but silent at this point; and Dean couldn’t deny that he was nervous as Crowley tasted his bittersweet pecan pie.
The other chef closed his eyes. “Dean. This is divine.”
Dean beamed and drew him into another kiss.
Once the cameras were turned off, Gabriel disappeared God knew where and Balthazar and Bela stormed towards then,
“Before you begin” Crowley said, I wanted to –“
“This was the best thing we have ever produced! You should have seen the reactions online! We definitely need to get Dean on your show, people love your flirting – “
“Now wait a minute you can’t just decide that – “
“Are you saying you want me on The Snarky Chef?”
At this point, Bela made them all shut up by declaring in complete earnest, “I am so glad you made up.”
Dean only then realized how worried she’d been and felt bad for their plan.
“Seriously? We have to pretend we hate each other in front of everyone? Even my staff?”
“Dean, staying in character is far easier than slipping back and forth, believe me.”
He huffed. “Dine. But if Charlie is annoyed with me afterwards, you apologize to her.”
“I don’t see how that would be my responsibility – “
“You’re lucky you’re cute.”
“I have been called many things” Crowley drawled, “But cute was never one of them.”
Dean kissed him again. “It is now.”
“Yes, we decided we should see if we could make Gabriel show his true colours on live television” Crowley explained. Bela was shaking her head.
Every time I think nothing can surprise me anymore when it comes to you... Well, will you allow me to guide you through the onslaught that’s about to come?”
Crowley was about to reply when Dean took his hand. “We’d be thankful for any pointers, Bela. And about the show... that’ll have to be something we tackle together.”
“I can’t believe I am about to say this” Balthazar said, enunciating each syllable, “But you could be a little nastier to your contestants?”
“But she really tried, and soufflés are difficult” Crowley argued.
“She really tried and – what is Dean doing to you?”
“I’m rather sure he wouldn’t like me telling you” Crowley smirked.
“How would you know? But my point is, this is called The Snarky Chef for a reason. Don’t make me make your boyfriend the co-host so we can at least have your banter entertain – “
When he saw Crowley’s smile, he groaned. “Let me rephrase that. Don’t make me make your boyfriend break up with you.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
It was true; the episodes were Dean guest starred as the meditating force between Crowley and the contestants, while always ready to suggest changes or hand out fair criticism, were many fans’ favourites.
No one was surprised when it was announced that Dena would indeed co-host the next season.
A year later
“Dean, this place looks awesome” Sam told him for the millionth time – he always got a little weepy when he was tipsy on champagne. Dean patted his shoulder.
“Hey boss man, come on! We still need a picture of you and lover boy for twitter!”
He sighed. “Charlie, we have taken a million – “
“Yeah, but it’s the end of the party and you both look very handsomely dishevelled- and I am saying that!”
So he gave in as Crowley drew him into his arms. Not that he often resisted.
After the show that had changed his life, he had indeed allowed Charlie to create a twitter account for Pie Heaven and had even got one himself.
Charlie’s first tweet had been about – well –
@savoury&savoury, looks like our daddies are in love, we siblings now?
Dean had thought it profoundly creepy, but people had loved it, and to this day, Charlie and Bela made sure their places flirted with each other on a regular basis.
Not that it was necessary, now that Sweet & Savoury had opened, combining the best of both worlds.
Crowley drew him into a corner, away from the last few prying eyes still around.
“Chef, are you trying to seduce me?”
“Always” Crowley said. “I even admitted in public I like your pies, what more do you want?”
Another year later
Really, it was just a coincidence.
Crowley had been invited on a convention and Dean was watching TV in their shared home and telling himself he didn’t miss him as much as he did. Stephen Colbert was always a good way to get his mind off of things.
“No, Mr. President, you can’t just blame the other Party every time one of your bills tanks. If Fergus Crowley and Dean Winchester can get over their differences and settle down and make beautiful food babies together so can Congress!”
Dean laughed, but remembered what Charlie and Bela (freshly engaged) had drilled into him. He pulled out his phone.
@chefcrowley, guess we’ll have to marry now. I don’t make the rules.
The answer came faster than he had expected.
@chefwinchester Name the date.
@belatalbot give my boyfriend’s phone back.
@chefwinchester Sorry, wasn’t me. Guess cat’s out of the bag, @chefcrowley.
What the –
Someone rang the doorbell.
He’d expected Crowley to fly back home tomorrow morning, so it came as a complete surprise when he found his boyfriend on their doorstep, holding a ring.
“I guess it’s not that big of a surprise anymore, but who cares?”
Not Dean, that was for sure.
And he kissed his fiancé right there to prove it.
So here we are at the very end. God I love writing those two. I know misunderstandings are a good solid fanfiction staple, but sometimes you just need your ship to work together and rule the world, even if it's just the world of Food Network ;)