Castiel hung up his blue vest with a sigh. When he started working at the Gas ‘n’ Sip he figured it would be a great way to interact with normal people, to get to know humanity. He just hadn’t accounted for how many of them were… absolute assholes. Purposefully spilling the slushie syrup, restacking the products to the wrong sections, trying to steal from him. And whenever he tried to engage in friendly conversation, he was usually just frowned or even sneered at, like he was something lesser.
It was only the memory of his mother’s face, pulled back in a very similar sneer, telling him he’d fail miserably and come crawling back that made him get up and face each day anew. He was not going to give her the satisfaction - or the ammunition to know she’d been right for the rest of his life.
Castiel pulled off his shoes and slouched to his kitchen. Maybe if he wasn’t alone then it would all be a bit easier. If he had a familiar to keep him company, to provide strength. Someone he could provide with shelter and care for. It would make having to earn money so much more bearable.
A familiar. Castiel barely kept himself from crashing at his kitchen table and sob. Instead, he got out a pan and raided his pantry to bake a pie. Baking always helped. It kept him occupied and it was something to look forward to: delicious pie.
While he was baking, he couldn’t stop thinking about that familiar though. His family had wanted him to buy one. They were bred in captivity, trained and sold - and everyone in his family owned one. And while they were never mistreated and seemed happy to serve, Castiel always found something fundamentally wrong with this practise. He wanted his familiar to choose him just as much as he’d choose them. It was a partnership that should start on equal footing.
It wasn’t the only reason why he‘d left his traditionalist family, but it was a main sore point of discussion. Mostly, Castel just wanted to see the world, be amongst other humans. Not sequestered in their small part of the world, where everything was magic and normal people were seen as lesser beings. Just because he inherited a gift didn’t make him better. It just made him different.
Looking around his empty kitchen, Castiel imagined a familiar here with him. Someone to share his pie with. Maybe they’d laugh and bake it together. Maybe the familiar would teach him new tricks how to enhance the pie with magic. Maybe they’d both share stories of their work, or the familiar would just listen and wait for him while he provided for them. Whatever the familiar chose, really. It wasn’t so much about strengthening his powers for him, he just really didn’t want to be alone anymore.
When he was done with his caramel pecan pie, Castiel set it on his window sill to cool off and went about working in his garden some. He was just pulling out some weeds so his pansies could grow more when he felt a tingling at the back of his mind. It was a weird sensation, somehow a mix of alertness and excitement. Something magical was coming, but he didn’t know if it was good or bad.
Castiel drew his wand and cocked his head, trying to gauge the direction it was coming from. When he turned around, he spotted a squirrel hanging from his maple tree, just about to reach his pie and before he could really think it through, Castiel made his tree grow high in the air, so the squirrel wouldn’t be able to reach his pie. The squirrel shrieked but held on to the branch, dangling from it by its tail and still making a grabbing motion in the direction of the pie. When it realized that the tree had grown too much, it turned around and Castiel could swear it looked right at him. Then the squirrel clambered down and sprang off into another tree, soon vanishing from his garden completely. And with it the tingling sensation in the back of his mind.
“Weird,” Castiel muttered to himself, scratching his head and quickly reducing his tree to its normal size. He lived in a remote area, but he still shouldn’t risk being discovered that recklessly. He didn’t know what had come over him.
A little bit later, he was just about to don his bee-keeper‘s suit to tend to his hive, when the tingle was back. He looked up and there was a red robin hovering over his pie. Castiel just had time to wonder if this specific kind was even common in his area when the red robin landed right next to his pie and bent down to pick at it.
“Oh no, you don‘t,” Castiel muttered and created a compressed tiny tornado. It was just a strong burst of wind really, to sweep up the bird and force it away from his pie. He used his wand to guide the air and not knock over his pie by accident. As soon as the bird was caught in the stream, its wings fluttered frantically. Castiel made sure to reduce the force of his wind safely and slowly, until the bird had found it’s balance again. He looked up at the bird, which was now much closer to him and away from the pie, and wagged his finger. “That pie is not for you.”
The bird chirped and it didn’t sound friendly. Even after the wind spell’s effects had fully vanished, the bird was hovering around Castiel’s head. Feeling uneasy, Castiel quickly conjured up a protective shield above him, afraid the bird might try shitting on him. The bird seemed to know what he was doing, because it changed directions and flew right at his face. Castiel was faster though, pulling the invisible shield in front of him so the bird would crash into the shield and not be able to hurt him.
The bird, however, stopped right before it could potentially get hurt itself by flying against the shield and instead it just flew off. Like with the squirrel before, the tingling stopped as soon as the animal was gone. Castiel frowned. But he didn’t have time to wonder for too long, because within minutes the tingling was back.
Castiel looked at the pie, but couldn’t see any form of danger. Huh. He walked closer and suddenly saw a small snake that had just made its way up his wall and was now next to the pie. The snake was almost in carmouflage and Castiel had no idea what kind of snake it even was. It had been almost undetectable. He was close enough to just pick up the pie and hold it up, away from the snake.
“Ok, seriously. What the fuck?” He asked, looking at the snake, which was looking right back at him. The snake reared up and hissed, causing Castiel to take a few steps back, almost dropping the pie. It wasn’t poisonous, was it? Not wanting to risk it, he straightened his arm and called for a thick branch to appear in his hand. He wasn’t about to kill the snake, but intended to kick it off his window sill and make sure it vanished from his garden. However before he could, the snake had started its own retreat and slithered away hastily.
What was it with animals being so keen on his pie today? He’d never experienced anything like this before. And the weird tingle in the back of his mind? Almost like the ones he got from unfriendly wizards approaching. But it couldn’t be, could it?
Castiel closed his eyes, trying to sense a magical presence in his vicinity. He didn’t. He’d screened his neighbors before, all of them were normal. But what else could it be?
As it suddenly dawned on him, he wanted to scream and hit something. “Oh no! Come back! Please come back!”
Dean had morphed into his human form again and was watching the house from a distance. He’d never sensed a mystical presence this powerful before. It was as intriguing as it was alarming. The wizard was really good with his powers, instinctively using them - but without causing harm. Which was good news for Dean. He really should’ve stopped trying to get at the pie the second he realized he was dealing with a wizard, but damn, it smelled so delicious. It was drawing him in. And at this point, his pride demanded he succeed. He wanted a taste of that damn pie about as much as he wanted to outsmart the wizard.
But also, if Dean was honest with himself, he also wanted to test the wizard. Find out if he was worthy. Not like any wizard would ever be worthy of Dean’s companionship though. He wasn’t about to tie himself to some master and lose his freedom. He’d seen way too many of his friends and family go down that route. Unattached familiars were rare these days. A lot were captured and sold in captivity, forced to breed and produce more slaves. Thankfully his friends had all gotten to choose their own masters, and they seemed happy, but still. Dean couldn’t risk it. He came from a long line of powerful and thus desired and hunted familiars and he was not about to help some creep fulfill his evil plans.
Granted, the blue eyed wizard had emanated no immediate sense of danger and he was quite powerful. It would be nice to see how much more he could become with Dean’s help. But still. Was he truly worthy? Dean could not be sure until it would be too late to leave. Power changed people. Maybe he‘d start with good intentions but then ended up abusing Dean all the same.
But even if Dean didn’t intend to become the guy’s familiar, testing him a little more couldn’t hurt, could it? - And he still really wanted a taste of that damn pie. It was time to come up with a new strategy.
Dean sat back and pondered. He had noticed the hive before and seen how fondly the wizard looked at his bees. Maybe one of them was allowed to sit on his pie? Dean really just needed one taste. One tiny, tiny bite. To make sure it wouldn’t taste as perfect as it smelled. Because nothing could be this good.
Transforming into animals which can fly and actually being able to fly were not necessarily the same thing and transforming into an animal this small was also tricky. But Dean was well trained and a fucking master at this and soon enough, he found himself on route to the wizard’s house. He felt a little wobbly and the tiniest gust of wind was trying to throw him out of balance, but by the time he’d made it to the house, he felt at ease. It was even turning into fun, just buzzing around and letting the wind carry him rather than fighting against it.
Having learned from previous attempts to get at the pie, he tried to be as inconspicuous as possible and joined the other bees at their hive first. It was fascinating to see them at work from up close. But before he could plan his best route to the pie, the bees around him suddenly started to flutter and round on him angrily. As if they knew he was an intruder. Or had the wizard sicced them on him? Dean did his best trying to escape, but he was suddenly surrounded and they were going for his wings.
Panic was starting to set it, but then all of a sudden, he was wrapped up safely in a bubble and floating away from the other bees. He came face to face with the wizard, who smiled at him - or at the bee he was currently pretending to be - kindly.
“They can sense when you’re not from their hive. I hope I got you in time?” Blue eyes came close and Dean felt weird being under such scrutiny. But also... safe and cared for. A feeling he pushed down deep before it could take roots. “You seem to be ok?”
Dean fluttered his wings within the bubble and yes, he felt ok. The wizard had saved him. But he was now also trapped within the wizard‘s bubble. The nice, safe feeling vanished and he panicked again, trying to escape the bubble and hurting his wings.
“Oh no! Oh no, wait!” The wizard quickly carried him to the edge of his garden away from the hive. As he did, the bubble around Dean grew, giving him more room to move. But he was still trapped. “Listen,” the wizard started, “If you want some pie, I’ll give you a slice. I‘ll bake you more pie. Maybe if you consider being my familiar? I was... I really want to...” The wizard stopped.
Dean’s mind went into overdrive. He wanted that pie. He’d never heard of getting trapped by pie before. It wasn’t a trap, was it? But at the same time, he was definitely busted. The wizard knew what he was and had him captured already. Any moment now the powerful wizard would use a binding spell and trap him for the rest of his life. He tried one powerful dash to break free, but ended up stopped by the bubble and falling. He landed smoothly within said bubble though and could feel himself being lowered carefully on top of a car away from the garden. The wizard was saying something, but as soon as Dean realized the bubble was finally gone, he dashed out of there and fled to freedom.
Once he was within a reasonable distance, he changed back to his human form hidden behind some bushes and checked himself for injuries. He seemed fine, so he morphed into a cat. This way he could make it home faster. He only felt safe again once he was within his own four walls. But that was just his own panic. He still sensed no real danger coming from the wizard. And inspecting himself in front of a mirror confirmed that he was unscathed. Apparently bees were sturdier than they looked. Or the bubble came just in time.
Dean sighed. He still fucking wanted to taste that pie, now more so than ever. His ego was bruised. But he couldn‘t go back in animal form, he‘d be too vulnerable. He considered a bigger animal, but that would be way too suspicious. And while he‘d be less easy to hurt, it‘d be all too easy to spot and trap him once more.
How did the wizard sense him anyway? Usually wizards were too dumb, too out of tune with their magic to do it. It‘s why Dean was still roaming free. The wizard still intrigued him. When he had calmed down again and his mind wasn‘t in fight or flight mode anymore, Dean decided to go back once more, but this time as himself. Human. At least to check out the wizard and look for any hidden traps. The wizard definitely wouldn‘t be able to sense him in his human form.
Dean put on his blue jeans and a faded Zeppelin tee and walked down the wizard‘s street a little while later. He didn’t live too far from Dean. It was weird that they hadn’t run into each other so far. Once he was in front of the house, he could see that there was a sign in a window that read “Roommate wanted” and Dean frowned. Who put that in their window and not on Craigslist or something? But it gave him the perfect pretense to knock.
The blue eyed wizard opened the door, looking a little dishevelled and sad. “Yes?”
“Uhm, hi.” Dean extended his hand. Now that he was really seeing him from a human perspective, the guy was gorgeous. As beautiful as he was powerful. Damn, Dean really did want to stay. “I saw the sign and am interested in the room.”
“Room?” The wizard asked, confused.
Dean pointed towards the sign in the window. “You still looking for a roommate, or...?”
“Oh! Oh, yes!” The door was opened wider and Dean stepped inside. “Nobody inquired about it and I had almost given up.”
“Is that the only place you advertise it?” Dean asked jokingly.
“Yes, why?” The wizard seemed confused.
Dean‘s eyes grew wide. Where the hell did this guy come from? “That might explain your lack of offers.”
“Oh.” The wizard cocked his head in confusion. Then he shrugged and held out his hand stiffly. “My name is Castiel. I can show you the room?”
Dean got an electric shock from shaking Castiel‘s hand and looked into his eyes startled. Would he know? Was this still a trap? But the wizard just looked so confused and innocent. “Dean. And... Is that pie I smell?”
“Yes?” Now Castiel‘s frown deeped. “Do you... want a slice?”
“Yes!” Dean‘s mouth started watering, but he caught himself before seeming too eager. “Uh, I mean, I do like pie. And if you’re offering...?”
“Sure?” The wizard looked him up and down. “Have we met?”
“Nope. I‘m sure you‘d remember me.” Dean winked, hoping cockiness would mask his onsetting fear.
“Yes...” Castiel looked at him with his big blue eyes. “I think I would.” He led Dean into the kitchen, then turned around with that frown of his again. “Are you sure?”
Dean was getting a little nervous now. “Quite. Where do you work though?” He still needed to find out more about the wizard. That was the mission. The pie was just... Well, the pie was the prize.
“At the Gas‘n‘Sip near the freeway.” Castiel deflated a little. He really didn‘t feel like a powerful wizard. Well, he did, but he didn’t carry himself with power. Castiel seemed like a genuinely nice and harmless loser. Dean was really confused.
“Oh,” Dean nodded. That job must suck. It seemed much duller than his shifts at the diner. At least Dean got to interact with people. But it was a perfect job to randomly meet strangers. “Maybe that’s how we met,” Dean lied. They definitely didn’t, but anything to distract him.
Castiel hummed and looked him up and down, then he shrugged and went to serve the pie. “You know, it‘s kind of funny, my pie is quite popular today.” Castiel froze in the middle of handing over the plate and Dean cursed. So close. The pie was so close. “It‘s you!”
“Me?” Dean put up his most innocent face and mentally prepared to bolt. “I‘m what?”
“You’re the familiar.” Castiel sounded sure and Dean sighed, getting up and holding up his hands. How the fuck did he know? This wasn‘t possible.
“Look, I just wanted a damn taste of that pie. Please just let me go and I won’t come back, alright?” He was almost out of the kitchen, his heartbeat started racing again. Castiel still felt innocent and... pure. Good at heart. But it didn‘t matter.
“What? No.” Castiel’s face fell. “Please stay. I’ll give you pie. Just pie. I promise.” He held out the pastry in offering.
It just smelled so good. Dean was back in the room before he knew it. “No tricks?”
“I promise.” Now Castiel was holding up his hands. “I’d never trap you. I wouldn’t do that to any familiar. I don’t want a slave. That’s awful. Do wizards even still do that anymore, now that you can legally aquire one?”
Dean snorted and froze in place. “Legally aquire? What do you think those familiars are?”
Castiel had the decency to blush and after putting Dean’s plate of pie back on the table, he backed away towards the wall, still trying to look as non-threatening as possible. He was succeeding, but Dean was still wary.
“You do get that those familars were either captured and forced into slavery or already bred into captivity. They get zero choice.” Dean crossed his arms in front of his chest and forced himself to not move towards the pie. It was harder than it should be. What was wrong with that pie?
“I...” Castiel hesitated, then he hung his head. “I may have suspected. It‘s why I refused to get one, even when it caused a rift with my family.”
Dean raised an eyebrow. “Your family would be...?”
“The Novaks?” Castiel still looked down at the ground.
Dean‘s heart broke. The Novaks were infamous. It explained why Castiel was so powerful - even if Dean had never even met a Novak quite as strong as this one. But they were also infamous because they produced ruthless wizards only out to gain more power and not interested in the welfare of others, especially not familiars. In their eyes, familiars were seen as lesser than a wizard. An accessory really. A power boost, nothing more. He would never bind himself to a Novak. But at the same time... “You don‘t feel like a Novak.”
Castiel smiled softly and looked up. “It‘s what my mother used to say as well.”
Dean cringed, still hearing his father in his mind, who kept telling him that their bloodline was too powerful to stay alone. Their purpose was helping a wizard. Didn‘t help him much when John‘s chosen wizard got him killed. “It‘s not a bad thing.”
Castiel looked at him. “I know. Believe me, I know. I left of my own volition. That still doesn‘t make it any easier sometimes.”
Dean sighed. He felt really bad for the wizard in front of him. He was sad and lonely, Dean could sense it. And he wanted to fix it. He wanted to bond and fix the both of them. They‘d never be alone. And they could accomplish great things together. He could feel it in his core. But he was still fighting the pull. A Novak. A most powerful wizard. He could still be lying. No. Dean stopped himself. He wasn‘t lying. Dean could feel that as well, even if he didn‘t want to admit it. After all, he was a most powerful familiar.
He sat down at the table, grabbed the fork and scooped up a slice of the pie. It just smelled heavenly. Dean sighed and closed his eyes before taking a bite. The taste exploded in his mouth and it was... His eyes flew open. The pie was spelled.
“What? What is it?” Castiel must have sensed something was wrong. But he still stayed in his spot close to the wall.
“You spelled the pie,” Dean accused. But he still took another bite. It couldn‘t get any worse.
“No, I didn‘t.” Castiel looked distraught. “I swear I...” The wizard stopped. “I was longing for a familiar while baking.”
“That‘s not enough to...” Dean stopped. Yes, it was. He remembered the wizard performing magic instinctively, not using his wand, sometimes not using words either. It was possible. But only for the most powerful. It was unheard of for unattached wizards performing it alone. He closed his eyes and tasted the pie with his tongue. Eating it wouldn‘t trap him. The smell really just lured him in. And even more so... it seemed to lure just him. “Am I the only one who came?”
“Yes?” Castiel frowned, still looking very upset.
“Hm.” Dean didn‘t want to say it, but the spell must have called for his true familiar. The one he was supposed to bond with. He‘d heard of those spells, but it was ancient magic, lost through time and through the easier practise of just buying a familiar. It stemmed from a time when the relationship between wizard and familiar was equal and seen as sacred.
“I‘m so sorry,” Castiel aplogized, tentatively moving closer and sitting down opposite Dean when Dean didn‘t protest. “It‘s not trapping you, is it? Oh god, I didn‘t force you here, did I?”
Dean cocked his head. No. Now that he‘d had his taste, he was free to leave. He didn‘t want to, but it had nothing to do with the effects of the spell. “You’re not powerful enough to trap me, wizard.” Dean sounded gruff. He didn’t want to make it too easy.
“Oh, good.” Castiel smiled.
Dean frowned, taken aback. It sounded honest. Did he truly not know that Dean was lying through his teeth right now? If the wizard wanted him, there was no way for Dean to escape at this point. He was at his table, two feet away, susceptible through the pie and as vulnerable as it got.
“Listen, I‘ll make you a deal,” Dean started. “I am indeed looking for a new place to live.” He wasn‘t, but this house was a lot nicer than his apartment. “I‘m willing to move in here and observe you. See if you can prove yourself worthy.”
Castiel‘s whole face transformed, his smile blindingly bright. Dean could already tell that it would be fucking hard to resist binding himself forever. Or starting a whole different kind of partnership.
“But you will not try and trap me. If I sense anything, I am out. You will not see me again. Ever. Am I making myself clear, wizard?” Dean was impressed with how convincing he sounded even to his own ears.
“Yes. Yes, definitely!” Castiel nodded. “Please tell me if you sense anything. I don‘t want to accidentally spell you. Again.” Castiel looked down at his closed hands and Dean felt the shame radiate off of the wizard. It made Dean a little sad. Castiel should’ve been proud of his powerful instictual magic.
Dean smiled at him. “We‘re going to be working on that. You‘re sloppy. If you let me, I can guide your magic.”
“And I‘ll bake you pies. I hope you like them even when they‘re not magically enhanced.” Castiel smiled back, but it still felt hesitantly.
“Fuck yes.” Dean couldn‘t help his enthusiastic reply. “I love pie.” They both smiled at each other. Dean had the sudden urge to reach over and take the wizard‘s hand and squeeze it in comfort. Instead he stiffled it and got up from his chair. “Alright, show me that room you‘re renting.”
Castiel touched his shoulder as he led him to the room and Dean felt that electric zing again. But it was even more this time. Being in close proximity as the wizard made him feel safe and cared for and happy. It felt like home. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, revelling in it. When he opened them again, he found Castiel looking at him, happy and grateful and sharing the sentiment. They found each other. They both knew it. But they would still take it slow and let it built. There was no need to rush. Not anymore. They had already found what they were looking for. Each other.
One year later
Dean came home sulking. He sighed and kicked off his shoes, crashing on the couch. Castiel joined him from the kitchen with a raised eyebrow. “Bad shift?”
Dean just grunted in reply.
Castiel joined him on the couch and after pressing a chaste kiss to his lips, he maneuvered Dean around so he could massage his shoulders. When Dean seemed less tense and close to purring, Castiel dared to risk his next words. “You know, if you want to quit, I’d be happy to provide for the both of...”
With a growl Dean shook him off and turned around. “I am not your damn house pet. And if you don’t quit with this shit, I’m calling off the ceremony.”
Castiel gasped. “You don’t mean that!”
Dean closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “No, I don’t.” He hung his head. “M’sorry. I would never.” Dean changed into a cat and butted his head into Castiel’s tigh until Castiel smiled and picked him up, settling him in his lap and petted him thoroughly. Dean was warm and soft in his lap and soon started purring for real. It was his way of apologizing, but also a way for Dean to seek comfort he wouldn’t allow himself in human form quite as readily.
Castiel smiled and buried both hands in his temporary cat’s fur. For not being his house pet, Dean sure switched into them often enough. The cat seemed to be his favorite form and Castiel definitely wasn’t complaining.
Still. With Dean’s encouragement and guidance, Castiel had quit his job at the Gas ‘n’ Sip and was working as a gardener part time, baking pies to sell at the diner Dean worked at and had recently started expanding his hive to sell artisan honey. He was also looking at college courses and constantly practiced how to use his magic for good. Help plants grow or cure them from diseases often brought on by chemicals for example. Turned out he and Dean both had a knack for environmental magic.
Sometimes Castiel felt like he didn’t give Dean back enough. But when Dean shifted back to human and kept straddling Castiel, only this time to kiss him and make out until it was time for dinner, Castiel could sense how content Dean was, how happy. And maybe that was enough.
Tonight was the night that they would perform the binding ritual. Dean initiated it. Castiel would have never dared to ask, especially not so soon and not after they started a romantic relationship. They were already bonded for all he cared about. But Dean insisted it would only strengthen them and he was the expert.
Castiel still couldn’t help ask Dean if he was sure about twenty more times during dinner. In the end, Dean turned it around and wondered if Castiel was sure, with all the many times he’d asked. Having Dean doubt himself and ponder if Castiel might long for a better familiar was heartbreaking.
“Dean.” Castiel knelt down next to his familiar’s chair. “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I love you with all my heart and soon I’ll bind my soul to yours and I could not be prouder to have you as my familiar or happier to have you as my partner in life. Let’s accomplish great things together...” Castiel cocked his head and smiled. “Or maybe just be happy with a small, cozy life. Either way, as long as you’re by my side. It’s all I could ever dream of.”
Dean bit his lip and joined him on the floor, hugging him close. After clearing his throat, Dean pulled back to look at him. “I love you, too. I never wanted to be bound, because I thought I would be trapped but being with you in this past year has felt anything but. We’re soaring together and it will only get better.” He smiled and kissed Castiel’s cheek. “Let’s do the ritual while the moon is at full circle, because I am not waiting another damn month.” He got up and pulled Castiel with him.
Castiel chuckled, watching his pushy familiar prepare the ritual and wondering how he’d ever gotten so lucky. Who knew that baking a pie while being depressed and desperate would lead to this? He thanked the universe every day for giving him his powers, because it led to finding Dean. And he vowed to only use his magic for good, to give back to a world that had given him his happiness.
Dean held out his hand, carrying a ceremonial bowl with the other. “You ready?”
Castiel took his hand and nodded. Yes. He was ready.