Castiel Novak liked to think of himself as a good person. He was polite and punctual; he pulled his weight on group projects and tried to connect with his fellow students. These desirable qualities made him wonder why he hadn’t made any friends. He was a relatable person, mostly. I mean, sure, maybe he didn’t get all of the pop culture references. And maybe the way he spoke came off as aloof or sarcastic. But he was still a nice guy!
His last class of the day had ended and there wasn't a shift in the library that needed to be covered. It was the only job he'd been able to find and it was only part time. It was just enough to cover rent in a small efficiency apartment about ten blocks from the school and just across the line into the bad side of town.
No one really bothered him too much, maybe the occasional hustler trying to give him a hard time. He kept his head down and his mouth shut and it seemed to be working out for him. His schooling was paid for; full scholarship. After this semester he could start looking for a job relevant to his major. Just fourteen weeks to go.
As he rounded the corner that put him on his home street , his stomach growled loudly. Castiel rubbed it sympathetically. He'd had an orange for breakfast; five hours ago. As he crossed the first street he racked his brain for anything edible in his apartment. He might have bread ends, but he would need to wait until tomorrow afternoon to pick up his paycheck and figure out how much he would have for groceries.
He crossed two more streets and was at his apartment building. Castiel heaved a sigh as he pulled open the door that, at one point, probably required someone to buzz non-residents in. It had been broken since before before he moved in. He trudged up the stairs to the second floor and thanked whatever God was listening for small miracles.
He pulled his keys from his pocket and flipped three he'd probably never use again out of the way of the one for his door. Shouting from a room down the hall had him hurry to press the key into the hole and his shoulder into the door. He was pleased the key didn't stick when a door at the end hall opened, making the shouting louder.
Castiel closed the door after him and threw the deadbolt he'd installed himself for when he was home. When he turned to face his meger apartment he froze, his prior feel-good gone. There was a man in his efficiency. Castiel took a step back into the door and half turned to unbolt the lock, keeping his eyes on the intruder, when the man turned.
He was met with bright, mesmerizing green eyes; the man's face scrunched in a show of confusion or distaste.
“Hey, kid. You live here?” Castiel's eyes swept over the open space and back to the stranger.
“Uh, yeah. Yes. Who, uh, who are you?” Castiel managed to get the words out despite his racing heart. In this neighborhood this guy could be up to anything. The man smirked then licked his lips.
“Name’s Dean. I was here to rob you, but I think someone beat me to it. Sorry,” he said the last word with a shrug and arms spread a bit. It was Castiel’s turn to look confused. He looked around his apartment once more before shaking his head slightly.
“Nothing appears to be missing. Did you witness the crime?” Dean's eyebrows shot up as his eyes went wide. He turned at the waist, keeping his feet planted and surveyed the room again. No TV, no computer, a mattress with no box spring, the guy didn't even have a microwave.
“Dude, you serious?” Castiel scrunched half his face, tilted his head and shrugged a shoulder self consciously.
“Well, yes,” the kid said, then opened and closed his mouth a couple times before deciding to just shut it, then shifted on his feet. Dean dropped the corners of his mouth in an exaggerated frown and bobbed his head.
“Yeah, alright. Hang tight, I'll be right back.” Without hesitation Dean started for the door behind Castiel. The kid leapt out of the way and backed up a few steps as he watched Dean turn the lock he hadn't gotten to. The green eyed stranger was gone without a look back. He even closed the door behind him.
Castiel stood in his apartment for a few moments, not sure what to do next. He finally moved forward and turned the bolt back. He wiped his palms on his jeans before backing up to the rickety table he'd salvaged from a street corner and dropped his backpack.
That had to be the strangest encounter he'd ever had. For sure the strangest of his college career. The guy said he'd be back, but Castiel doubted it. What was stopping him from calling the police? That thought had him chuckling to himself. In this neighborhood people rarely made a police report, and nothing had been stolen. The authorities would just laugh.
Besides, Dean probably wouldn't return to the scene of his attempted crime. He was likely just trying to make a quick exit after being caught red handed. Castiel started unloading his books to begin his homework. He had some reading to do before he could type his papers up at the library.
Two hours later Castiel was stretching his back over the back of the chair. He had been going at it since the guy had left and needed to stand up and move his legs. Just as he was headed into the kitchen to survey what he had left there was a knock on his door.
Castiel froze mid stride and furrowed his eyebrows. He never had visitors. It couldn't possibly be- another knock.
“Hey, kid? Open up, it's Dean.” Castiel shook his head in disbelief and ran a hand down his face. He strode to the door as quietly as possible and wished he had a peephole. Castiel hesitated, contemplating not opening the door when Dean knocked again.
“C’mon, kid. Not gonna leave me hangin’ are ya?” Castiel huffed an incredulous laugh and released the deadbolt. When he opened the door Dean was grinning at him, a shoulder resting against the door jam.
“Hey, kid. Catch you at a bad time?” He asked , arching an eyebrow. God, the guy’s’ eyes were even smiling.
“N-no. I just. I was just doing some reading.” Dean nodded and shoved off the side of the door. He turned himself sideways and invited himself into the apartment, again. This time he wasn't alone. Behind him were two more guys; one with a similar build, the other was about as tall but far lankier.
“Hey, man. Where do you want the microwave?” the first guy asked heading toward the small kitchen. Castiel stared at the new-looking appliance with wide eyes. He started as Dean snapped his fingers at him.
“Earth to uh, kid. Where do you want it?”
“Castiel.” Dean froze and narrowed his eyes, then tilted his head and opened his mouth to speak.
“I’m sorry, what the fuck is a Castiel ?” The first guy, the one with the accent, rolled his eyes and put the microwave on the counter next to the refrigerator; then headed back out the door into the hallway.
“My name,” Castiel replied, staring after the guy who just left.
“Oh. Well sure, why not? Where do you want your microwave, Cas?” Castiel looked at Dean and made a face he could only describe as a pout and nodded his head toward the row of cabinets he called a kitchen.
“Where he put it is adequate.” Dean grinned and bobbed his head. He clapped his hands and rubbed them together before heading to the box the second guy had deposited on his kitchen table. The second guy was gone, Castiel realized, probably followed the first one out.
“Alright, we got- a toaster, a coffee maker, oh! Dude, check this thing out. It’s a machine that slices vegetables for you and shit. Look, it’s got these four attachments that you put in here. Then you plug it in and put the food in this thing, then push it down! My brother loves this thing.” Castiel watched Dean’s crude demonstration with an odd sort of detachment.
“Dean,” the burglar-turned-angel turned to Castiel with his eyebrows raised, still messing with the appliance. “Did you give me your brother’s’ electric mandoline?” Dean put on his exaggerated frown again and looked down at the gadget in his hands.
“Huh, is that what this is called? And no, this one isn’t Sammy’s. Got this one from- a friend.” Dean’s grin was suspicious. Castiel just nodded. “So, kitchen?” Dean asked as he scooped up all the parts and placed them next to the microwave. The things nearly took up half the counter space. Dean surveyed the kitchen with his hands on his hips for a moment before turning back to Castiel.
“Listen, I know this might be tight for a bit, but we’ll get you more counters or tables or whatever. Think you can deal?” Castiel narrowed his eyes and cocked his head, staring long enough for Dean’s friends to come back in.
“Yep, not creepy. Here, Benny. Let’s put that one where the old one was and get rid of it. Garth got the chairs?” Castiel turned as he watched Benny carry an unscarred kitchen table across the room. He watched Dean direct the placement of furniture as if this were his own apartment. Dean’s friends made three trips each and one together.
The last one they brought up a freaking loveseat. They each said bye to Dean and Castiel and left the apartment, closing the door behind them. Castiel took another look around.
A new microwave, toaster, coffee maker, mandoline. A new kitchen table with four chairs, three more than he had previously. A loveseat with a coffee table, matching TV stand, PS4 and a TV. Dean’s groan caught his attention and he turned to see the man stretching his back, as if he’d carried anything up the stairs.
“Alright, it’s lookin’ good in here now, Cas. I think I even got you a proper bed, but that might take a couple days. You thirsty? I’m thirsty,” Dean talked as he made his way to the refrigerator. He opened the door and whistled low.
“Yeah, guess I should ‘a seen this coming, huh?” In that moment it amazed Castiel a bit how this man could have an entire conversation by himself and make it sound so natural. He watched Dean pull a cell phone out of his pocket and tap away at the keys for a moment. When he lowered the phone he turned back to Castiel as he slid it in his pocket.
“My friend’ll be here in a few,” he said moving to the loveseat. He plopped himself down on the side furthest from the door and pulled a cardboard box from the floor next to it. “You like movies, Cas? What are you into?” he asked without looking up as he shuffled through the box.
“Why are you doing this?” Dean paused his movements and looked sideways at Castiel as he quirked one corner of his lips up. The man shrugged a shoulder and tipped his head, then went back to shuffling through the box. Castiel was stuck in place, his feet wouldn’t move. He scanned his apartment again and felt a sort of bodily detachment.
Was this really happening? Perhaps he’d fallen asleep while reading his textbook. Or maybe he was finally mugged on his way home and he was lying in the gutter, unconscious, or dead. Castiel squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. That got dark quickly, but he couldn’t help it. He’d been in town for two months, at school for one; and this burglar was his first friend. If he could even call him that.
His internal musing was interrupted by another knock on the door. He almost dreaded answering it this time, not knowing what was going to show up next. Luckily he didn’t have to. Dean leapt up from the couch after putting the box on the coffee table and, again, opened the door like it was his own.
“Hey, Jo! Thanks for being so quick.” Castiel watched a petite blonde woman enter his apartment with yet another box. She also had company in the form of a brunette and a redhead, both carrying their own boxes.
“Yeah, yeah. You owe me, boss,” the one Dean had called Jo snarked over her shoulder. The brunette winked at Castiel before leaning forward and pressing a kiss to the side of Dean’s mouth ; for some reason this made the kid blush and look at his feet. Dean just grinned and smacked the woman’s ass as she followed Jo toward the kitchen.
“Thanks for helping out, Charlie. Almost didn’t recognize you without your computer.” The redhead grinned cheekily and tilted her head to the side.
“Aw, of course, Dean. We all know damsels in distress are your weakness and we would never give up an opportunity to help you try and over compensate!” Castiel felt his face get hotter and he turned away from the group to face his new living room, trying to keep his heart from exploding.
He missed the death glare Dean shot this Charlie person, and the smile of triumph she gave him back. A familiar whistle from the kitchen had him turning his head back, Jo had every cabinet open. Every cabinet was empty.
“Wow, you weren’t kidding, huh? Hey, Cas, mind if I just put it anywhere?” Before Castiel could answer the brunette was speaking up.
“That’s what Dean said!” The three girls burst into fits of laughter as Castiel closed his eyes and turned his face away once more. He was suddenly very uncomfortable and felt like he was being mocked more than anything else. Of course Dean was teasing him, it was crazy of him to think someone like that would be interested in someone like him; in any manner.
As he steeled himself to turn and kick all of them out he heard the burglar beat him to it.
“Alright, you catty bitches. Get outta here, I’ll do it myself.” More voracious laughter came from the kitchen before a booming voice made him jump and turn back to look at the scene in his apartment.
“I said out!” Dean’s voice had dropped and his face was a bit flushed with anger. His eyes were hard and cold and had all three girls closing their mouths instantly. Charlie placed her box on Castiel’s new kitchen table and the three scurried to the door. Jo was the last one out, and before she closed it she turned to look at the two men.
“Sorry, Cas, we were just teasing. That’s usually what Dean gets for making such a short order.” Castiel turned to acknowledge her, he didn’t want to be rude, to see her stick her tongue out at Dean and slam the door when he took a step toward he. There were giggles fading down the hallway in their wake.
Dean ran a hand through his hair and took a couple breaths before he rounded on Castiel, a smirk plastered on his face.
“Thirsty?” he asked. “I’m thirsty.”