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Roommate Wanted

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Roommate wanted: 2 bed 1 bath apt on west side of Pontiac. $400/month including bills for furnished room, access to half the space in the rest of the apartment, and a reserved spot in the parking lot. I'm a dude in my late 20s, I like cars and pie. No slobs or pets.

 

'Wow, Dean, that's a really appealing ad. I can't imagine why nobody has responded yet,' Charlie said with a sarcastic eyeroll. 'You sound so friendly and welcoming. You do realise that you need a roommate if you want to keep this place?'

'I know, I know,' Dean sighed. 'I just thought I'd moved past the part of my life where I'd need a random roommate.' Charlie rubbed his shoulder in sympathy. 'I definitely didn't think I'd be stuck in a town where I barely know anybody because my stupid ex-girlfriend dumped me for her boss.'

'Hey, Carmen's loss, man. I'm glad you moved here.'

'Thanks Charles,' Dean replied, wrapping her in a hug. 'Too bad you don't want to move in.'

'Yeah, sorry. Too bad I don't have a second room so you could move in with me. That would kinda rule.'

'Nah, we'd end up fighting over the same girl and it would get ugly.'

'Oh Winchester, like you'd stand a chance against me.' Dean wasn't able to get his argument in because just then his inbox pinged. 'Ooh, look, somebody replied!'

Hello, I saw your advertisement for a roommate on Craigslist and would like to have a look at the apartment. I'm also a 'dude' in my late 20s, no pets and not a slob. Can I please make an appointment ASAP? My phone number is 555-0918. Sincerely, Castiel Novak

'What the hell kind of name is Castiel?' Dean laughed.

'Who knows? Text him, maybe he can come by tonight and your problem will be solved!'

'Doesn't that come off as a bit desperate?' The inbox pinged again.

Hello again, apologies for bothering you again so soon, but I just wanted to stress that when I said ASAP I really meant it. I'm currently living with my brother and his wife, and they need the room for their new baby. My SIL is due in a week and is planning a home birth, so I'd really rather get out of here before the place is covered in placenta. Thanks. -Castiel

Dean and Charlie looked at each other and dissolved into a fit of laughter. 'OK, I'm definitely calling this guy right now,' Dean said when he'd gotten his breath back. 'He sounds hilarious.' The phone rang twice before a deep voice answered.

'Hello?'

'Hi, is this Cas?'

'This is Castiel, yes.'

'Oh, sorry man, I wasn't sure how to say your name, didn't want to mess it up. Um, I'm Dean, you just emailed me about the apartment?'

'Ah, yes, hello Dean. Cas is fine. Thank you for responding so quickly.'

'Well, I wouldn't want you to get covered in placenta waiting for my call.' That made Cas laugh, which set Dean off again as well. 'Hey, so if you've got time tonight, I'm home right now and could show you around, or I'll be home from work tomorrow after six.'

'Right now would be great actually. Where are you?'

'Periwinkle Estates.'

'Oh yes, I know where that is. I'm actually just a few blocks away right now, I could be there in ten minutes if that's OK?'

'Yeah, cool. It's number 24, just ring the bell when you get here.'

'Wonderful, see you soon.' They hung up and Dean looked at Charlie, who had her fingers crossed.

'Hopefully he'll be great, Dean! Do you want me to head out before he gets here?'

'Nah, I wouldn't mind getting your opinion on him. You've got an amazing creep detector.'

'No problem. I'll put some coffee on.' Charlie made herself busy in the kitchen while Dean tidied away the remains of their Chinese takeout dinner. Both of them were just finishing their tasks when the doorbell rang. Dean opened the door to a tall man with messy dark hair, wearing a leather jacket over a blue t-shirt and jeans.

'Hi, I'm Cas. Are you Dean?'

'Yeah, that's me, come on in.' Dean let Cas in and shook his hand. 'This is my friend Charlie, she was just hangin' out with me tonight.'

Charlie waved from the kitchen. 'Want some coffee?'

'I'd love some, cream and one sugar please. I take it this is the living room and that's the kitchen?'

'Yep. My DVD and games collection is pretty big, but that entire bookcase is empty for your stuff if you were to move in. In the kitchen, I've got lots of cooking stuff and plates and shit, but there'd be empty cupboards and space in the fridge and freezer for your food.' He led Cas through the living room to a hallway with doors coming off. 'This is the bathroom, the tub is a decent size and the water pressure is pretty good. This is the linen closet, there'd be a shelf free for your sheets or whatever if you want. And this the bedroom.' Dean opened the door and Cas stepped in, looking at the queen-sized bed, nightstands, chest of drawers and built-in closet approvingly.

'This is really nice. Did the apartment come furnished or is this yours?'

'Uh, it's mine. Or it is now, anyway. I originally moved here with my ex, and a lot of it was her stuff, but when she bailed, she just left all the furniture for me to deal with.'

'Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry.'

'Nah, it's all good. That's why I need a roommate. I don't know many people in town, I only moved here from Kansas about six months ago with her.'

'And you decided to stay?'

'Yeah, I've got a pretty good job and a couple of good pals, so I thought I'd stick it out for a while and see what happens. So what's your story? Besides not wanting to be covered in placenta.'

'I'm actually from Pontiac, but I had been living in Chicago. I decided to move back when my company downsized, and got a job here, but I was living with my brother and sister-in-law to save money. Now with baby Claire on the way they need the room back, but so far I hadn't seen anything I liked.'

'And what do you think of this place?'

Cas gave Dean an appraising look. 'I like it.'

'Great! When can you move in?'

'Tomorrow too soon?'

'Not at all. Come on, let's do the paperwork and I'll give you the key so you can just let yourself in tomorrow.' They walked back out and Charlie handed them their coffees. Dean explained the rules of the apartment complex, the bills, and any other details he could think of. Cas seemed happy with everything and signed the contract and a check for the deposit and first month's rent. Dean handed him the keys and the three of them chatted for a bit longer until Cas excused himself, pleading an early start the next day.

'Thank you very much, Dean, I'm so relieved to have found your ad.'

'Me too, Cas. See you tomorrow.'

Charlie waited until they couldn't hear Cas's steps anymore before turning to Dean with a raised eyebrow. 'You didn't even wait for my verdict before offering him the room.'

Dean shrugged. 'I had a good feeling about him. Why, did you think he was a creep?'

'Not at all, he seemed like a nice guy actually. Dreamy too.'

Dean snorted. 'He's not exactly either of our types.'

'Hey, I may be gay, but I'm not blind. Those baby blues aren't any less pretty for being attached to a body with a wang.'

Dean didn't disagree.

**********

Roommate wanted: 2 bed 1 bath apt on west side of Pontiac. $400/month including bills for furnished room, access to half the space in the rest of the apartment, and a reserved spot in the parking lot. I'm a dude in my late 20s, I like cars and pie. No slobs or pets.

 

Cas liked the ad. It was short, to the point and described all the important features of an apartment. It was on the right side of town, had a parking space, and the price was right. Maybe, after months of searching, he had finally found the right place, and not a moment too soon. He quickly typed up a reply asking to see it ASAP and hoped he wasn't too late.

It actually hadn't been so bad living with Jimmy and Amelia. They were fun to be around, and the fact they were happy to let him live with them for only the cost of his share of the bills had allowed him to save up his severance pay from being laid off in Chicago and adjust to his new, much smaller salary without too much of a jolt. If he were being honest with himself, he'd gotten a bit too comfortable in their guest bedroom, even as they began decorating around him for the arrival of their first child. Then suddenly it was the third trimester and the gentle hints became a bit more pointed that maybe he should start looking for a new place.

So in month seven he had begun apartment-hunting in earnest. After several months of living with people again, he decided to ease his way into it by finding a place with a roommate. He'd been scouring Craigslist ever since but had yet to find something suitable. Half the time the place was already gone by the time he got in touch; a couple of times the listing had turned out to be a coded ad for sexual services or drug sales; one hadn't even been an apartment at all but a makeshift 'bedroom' in the back of some guy's van. Andy had been friendly, and the airbrushed painting on the side of a barbarian queen riding a polar bear had been kind of cool, but it was definitely not what he was looking for.

Of the listings that had been real and available, not one had induced Cas to leave the security of his brother's house. He eventually learned that an overly long ad probably meant the lister was obsessed with minutiae to the point of having set times when certain rooms of the house were allowed to be used (the ones Amelia called 'the Sheldons', whatever that was supposed to mean); the overly short ones were usually trying to hide the shithole nature of the place. Even when an apartment was acceptable, the potential roommate was definitely not.

There was the guy who had opened the hallway closet to show him how big it was, thus revealing his collection of signs for protesting the local Planned Parenthood and LGBT youth centre- big fat nope. Only slightly better had been the girl who had opened the door in a leather catsuit and holding a whip, having confused his appointment for that of her BDSM slave; out of politeness he had looked around the apartment anyway, but when he saw the sex swing that was permanently affixed to the living room ceiling, he had even more politely excused himself.

And now here he was, still without a new place a week before Amelia's due date, and with an empty birthing pool sitting at the foot of his bed in what was soon to be Claire's room reminding him of the urgency of moving out. In his despair, he decided to make it clear to the poster of the promising ad that when he said ASAP, he really meant it, and described the seriousness of the situation in no uncertain terms.

His phone rang just a minute later, and he took a moment to offer up a brief prayer to any deity who would listen that this would be the one.

'Hello?'

'Hi, is this Cas?' came a pleasantly deep voice with a hint of a twang from somewhere further south than Illinois. Not fully southern, but maybe somewhere in the plains.

'This is Castiel, yes.'

'Oh, sorry man, I wasn't sure how to say your name, didn't want to mess it up. Um, I'm Dean, you just emailed me about the apartment?'

'Ah, yes, hello Dean. Cas is fine. Thank you for responding so quickly.'

'Well, I wouldn't want you to get covered in placenta waiting for my call.' Cas had to laugh, and he was glad that he'd included that detail in his message if it caught Dean's eye so quickly. 'Hey, so if you've got time tonight, I'm home right now and could show you around, or I'll be home from work tomorrow after six.'

Cas breathed a sigh of relief. 'Right now would be great actually. Where are you?'

'Periwinkle Estates.'

He thought for a moment and realised that was the complex he passed everyday on his way to work. It really was a good location for him, and not too far from Jimmy's house either. 'Oh yes, I know where that is. I'm actually just a few blocks away right now, I could be there in ten minutes if that's OK?'

'Yeah, cool. It's number 24, just ring the bell when you get here.'

'Wonderful, see you soon.' He hung up and took a deep breath, trying not to let himself get too excited. The apartment seemed great, it was in a nice complex with a good reputation, and Dean sounded nice. There just had to be a catch.

When Dean opened the door a little while later, the catch stared him in the face. Dean was the most beautiful man Cas had ever seen in person, with bright green eyes and a warm smile. Cas was doomed, and if he hadn't been desperate, he would have turned around and walked right back to his car. Instead, he accepted the invitation to enter and shook Dean's hand. He was introduced to a redhead named Charlie, who offered him coffee from her seat in the kitchen, and he tried to bring his thoughts back to the task at hand by asking stupidly obvious questions like whether the living room was the living room and whether the kitchen was the kitchen. Fortunately, Dean didn’t seem to notice his awkwardness and just showed him around the apartment.

Cas learned that Dean had moved here from Kansas, which explained the accent, and that he had moved to Pontiac with a girlfriend (because of course he was straight) who had since left him (because apparently she was an idiot). He was neat and tidy, he seemed friendly and laid back, and the apartment was absolutely perfect. And hey, what was wrong with appreciating the eye candy around the place? When Dean asked him what he thought of the apartment, Cas was able to tell him honestly that he liked it very much.

'Great! When can you move in?'

Figuring that he might appear a bit too eager if he just went back to Jimmy's to pick up his bag and came back that night, Cas replied, 'Tomorrow too soon?'

'Not at all. Come on, let's do the paperwork and I'll give you the key so you can just let yourself in tomorrow.' They walked back out and Charlie handed them their coffees. Dean explained the rules of the apartment complex, the bills, and any other details he could think of. Cas was grateful for the paperwork keeping him from staring at Dean for too long, and happily signed the contract and a check for the deposit and first month's rent. Dean handed him the keys and the three of them chatted for a bit longer. Realising he had a lot to do ahead of moving the next day, Cas excused himself after about half an hour and drove back to Jimmy's house feeling good about the future.

'Hey, how did it go?' Amelia called out as he walked through the door.

'I'm moving in tomorrow,' Cas replied with a grin when she waddled to the front hall.

'Wow, that was fast!'

Cas shrugged. 'Well, the place is perfect and ready to go, I need to be out of your hair, and Dean needs a roommate ASAP, so we didn't see the point in waiting any longer than necessary.'

'OK, if you're sure. What's your new roommate like?' Cas could feel himself blushing as he thought of how to answer, and Amelia picked up on it right away. 'Oh no. Cas, don't tell me you picked this place because the guy is cute.'

'No, I did not!' Cas protested, but Amelia just crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. 'That's just an added bonus.'

Amelia laughed and gave Cas as much of a hug as she could with her huge belly in the way. 'Come on then, let's get you packed. Jimmy! Come help Cas!'

They were able to get packed fairly quickly, as Cas had never bothered unpacking most of his boxes from Chicago. The next morning, he bid his brother and sister-in-law farewell and drove to Dean's- and now his- apartment.

**********

Cas moved in the next day, and Dean's positive feelings about him were rewarded; they got along really well, had similar levels of tidiness, and even liked the same kind of food. They often hung out together in the evenings, playing video games or watching movies, and within a few months Dean had really come to see Cas as a good friend. It therefore seemed like a good time to bring up a somewhat touchy subject- hook-ups.

When Cas had first moved in, the breakup with Carmen had been a little too fresh for Dean to think about getting back out there; instead, he'd thrown himself into his work and spent all of his social time with Cas and Charlie. After nearly four months of being single, however, Dean was starting to get a bit antsy, and decided it was time to hit the bar scene again.

'So, Cas, we never really talked about this when you moved in, but, uh, I'm kind of looking to start dating again, and I might occasionally like to bring a date home with me. Would that be OK with you?'

'Of course, Dean. Would the same apply for me as well?'

'Yeah, totally dude. Let's just agree to keep it all in the bedroom and try not to be too loud, cool?'

'Cool. Good luck out there.'

'You too man.' Dean wasn't remotely surprised that Cas was cool about it. Cas was cool about everything. He was just cool. Such a dude. A total bro. He had gotten so lucky with his roommate.

From then on, most weekends took on a similar pattern: Dean would go out on Friday and/or Saturday night, go to a bar, pick up a girl, and about half the time bring her back to his place. Sometimes he and said girl would cross paths with Cas as Dean was walking her to the door, but he never made any kind of fuss about it. Dean was aware that Cas was bringing dates home as well sometimes- not as often as Dean, but still frequently enough that Dean would have expected to see some trace of the girl or girls (he wasn't sure if it was a steady thing or random hook-ups like himself). He assumed that Cas just kicked them out early for some reason. He did like to do yoga first thing, so maybe it was just to avoid getting in the way of his workout schedule. Whatever; that was Cas's business, and Dean wasn't going to pry.

**********

Living with Dean turned out to be surprisingly easy. Sure, Cas's crush got stronger day by day, but that was because Dean was just so nice. They kept similar schedules and had similar levels of tidiness; they got along well and had interesting conversations. Charlie came over a lot, and she was really great too. Plus, he was close to his workplace and to Jimmy, Amelia, and Claire, who had been born only three days after he'd moved out. All in all, the first few months of his new living arrangements had exceeded all of his hopes. Well- maybe not all of them, but the particular hope he had of Dean wrapping those sexy bowlegs around him while he fucked him on the dining room table- among other imaginings- was never going to happen.

Cas and Dean had been roommates for about four months when Dean brought up the subject of hook-ups. Cas had gotten out of the habit of dating and hook-ups while living with Jimmy and Amelia and hadn't really bothered to start again since moving in with Dean. However, he figured if Dean was going to be dating and bringing people home, why shouldn't he do so as well? They amicably agreed to keep things quiet and in their respective bedrooms, and that Saturday night, Cas went to Pontiac's only gay bar, The Lazy Shag. Luckily it was a pretty nice place, with some pool tables and a good-sized dance floor, and Cas got lucky within a couple of hours. He took the guy home, and although it didn't seem that Dean had come back in the night, had him out the door pretty early. Although Charlie was a lesbian, Cas wasn't really sure what Dean's opinion on gay men was, and decided he'd rather not find out unless it was absolutely necessary.

Some weekends Dean brought girls home, and although Cas tried to avoid them as much as possible, occasionally they would cross paths. Of course, Dean had nothing to hide, so Cas had to suffer in silence as a parade of beautiful, curvaceous women went through their door. At least there didn't seem to be any repeats, which meant Dean wasn't getting serious about anyone. Why that should matter wasn't exactly clear, but it somehow made Cas feel a bit better.

In early autumn, a couple of months into his return to the dating scene, Cas was standing at the bar of The Lazy Shag, buying drinks for himself and a cute personal trainer he was chatting up, when hands came up over his eyes and a voice said, 'Guess who?' He smiled and turned around.

'Hi Charlie.'

'Sup Cas? Fancy meeting you here!'

'Yes, well, when there's only one gay bar in town,' he said with a shrug.

'Ugh, don't I know it, man. Ah, I see you have two drinks. I won't get in your way. Good luck!'

'And you. Oh, and Charlie… if you could keep this to yourself, I'd appreciate it. Dean doesn't know I'm gay.'

'Oh, hey, don't worry dude, Dean would totally be cool with it.'

'Even so, if you don't mind.'

'Of course, Cas. I'm not gonna out you.'

'Thank you. See you soon?'

'Hellz yeah, game night Wednesday!'

'Excellent. Have a good night.' Charlie hugged him again and stepped up to take his place at the bar as he walked back to the pool table. He knew he could trust Charlie to keep his secret, but he couldn't help the nervous churning of his stomach at the thought of Dean finding out. As much as he believed her that Dean would be cool with it, he was still afraid that it could make things awkward between them, and that was the last thing he wanted.

**********

Thanksgiving came around, and while Cas spent it with his brother's family, Dean flew out to California to spend it with his brother Sam. Dean hated flying, and his method of coping (getting really drunk) meant he couldn't drive back from Chicago on the Friday afternoon when he landed. Instead he crashed in a motel by the airport and woke up early on Saturday to drive back to Pontiac. He was well ahead of schedule; he'd told Cas not to expect him until lunchtime, but by nine a.m. he was already pulling into the garage at their apartment.

And that's why he was in the apartment early enough to see Cas saying goodbye to his Friday night hook-up with the time-honoured method of a hot open-mouthed kiss while pushed up against a wall.

Dean could respect that. Go Cas!

Then Dean realised that Cas was the one against the wall. And his date- yep, definitely a dude.

Oh.

Cas hooks up with dudes.

Suddenly it made sense why his hook-ups never stayed long enough for Dean to see them, and why he didn't talk about them; he must have been worried about what Dean would think for some reason. Life in a small midwestern town could be tough. Dean was determined to be totally cool about this.

Eventually Cas seemed to sense that he and his date were no longer alone; he broke off the kiss and looked towards the door, where Dean still stood holding his duffel bag and looking a bit sheepish. 'Shit! Dean! I didn't expect you back until later!'

'Yeah, sorry about that. I got going earlier than I expected today. Didn't mean to interrupt.'

Cas's date seemed a bit embarrassed at being caught. 'I guess I'd better get going. Thanks Cas, and hey, don't lose my number,' he said with a wink, passing over a slip of paper.

'Of course. Thank you for a lovely evening.' Cas gave the man another quick peck on the lips and closed the door behind him. Dean gave him a little smirk.

'You forgot his name, didn't you?'

Cas shrugged, crumpled the paper and threw it at the trash can. 'I won't need to remember it.'

'Not the hottest date ever then?'

'Not exactly.'

'He seemed pretty into you just a minute ago,' Dean teased.

'He was like that at the bar too, but it was definitely false advertising.'

'Sorry dude. Better luck next time.'

Cas shrugged. 'So, this isn't a problem?'

'What, that you like guys?'

'Yes.'

'Not with me. Is that why I never saw the people you hooked up with? You thought I'd have a problem with it?'

'I wasn't sure.'

Dean patted Cas's shoulder. 'It's fine, man. You don't have to kick 'em out before sunrise. It's all good.'

**********

When Thanksgiving rolled around, Dean flew out to California to visit his brother Sam while Cas spent it with Jimmy, Amelia and Claire. Black Friday was a prime pick-up night at The Lazy Shag thanks to many of its patrons having to deal with homophobic family members for the holiday and thus wanting to let off steam once it was over; Cas decided to take advantage of the fact that Dean didn't expect to be back until Saturday afternoon to bring home his hook-up and not worry about sending him home too early. The guy was cute and very enthusiastic in his kissing, so Cas hoped for a wild night where he could let loose at top volume for once.

Sadly, it turned out that the enthusiasm was to make up for an utter lack of skill, and by nine the next morning he was quite ready to see his date to the door. Whatever-his-name-was pushed Cas against the wall by the door for a sloppy goodbye kiss; he blamed his surprise for his failure to notice immediately when said door opened. A few more seconds passed before he realised that they were no longer alone. He pulled away to see Dean standing at the door looking somewhat sheepish.

'Shit! Dean! I didn't expect you back until later!'

'Yeah, sorry about that. I got going earlier than I expected today. Didn't meant to interrupt.'

What's-his-name was clearly a bit embarrassed at being caught and stepped towards the door that Dean was still holding open. 'I guess I'd better get going. Thanks Cas, and hey, don't lose my number,' he said with a wink, passing over a slip of paper.

'Of course. Thank you for a lovely evening.' Cas gave the man another quick peck on the lips and closed the door behind him. Dean gave him a little smirk.

'You forgot his name, didn't you?'

Cas shrugged, crumpled the paper and threw it at the trash can, hoping he gave off an air nonchalance that didn't reveal his thumping heart and roiling stomach. 'I won't need to remember it.'

'Not the hottest date ever then?'

'Not exactly.'

'He seemed pretty into you just a minute ago,' Dean teased.

'He was like that at the bar too, but it was definitely false advertising,' Cas replied with a hint of bitterness in his tone.

'Sorry dude. Better luck next time.'

Cas shrugged. 'So, this isn't a problem?'

'What, that you like guys?'

'Yes.'

'Not with me. Is that why I never saw the people you hooked up with? You thought I'd have a problem with it?'

'I wasn't sure.'

Dean patted Cas's shoulder. 'It's fine, man. You don't have to kick 'em out before sunrise. It's all good.'

Relief coursed through Cas. As Charlie had predicted, Dean was cool with it, so from then on he took him at his word and didn't worry about shoving his hook-ups out the door at the crack of dawn. A few times he and his date crossed paths with Dean on the way out the door, and as promised, Dean was completely relaxed about the whole thing. No awkwardness between them at all, which made Cas very happy.