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Chapter 1:  Notes of Citrus
 
 
 
Dean swept a rough hand across the finished joist.  It was plumb.  He dusted both hands on his jean-clad thighs as he straddled a beam two stories off the ground, smiling down at the foreman below.  “Looks good!”
 
Chuck, the foreman in charge of the housing project saluted him with a grin.  “Looks perfect, Dean!  Come on down!  We better pack it in for now.  Rain’s coming.”
 
Dean nodded, swinging his leg over the beam to climb to his feet.  He walked several steps, stepping onto a ladder to climb down.  Garth, another worker, braced the bottom of the ladder.  He climbed down quickly, heading to the work tent with Garth and a few of the others.
 
“It’s amazing how quickly these houses can go up!” Garth marveled, taking a few steps backwards as they neared the tent to look at the skeleton of the new house.  
 
“Yeah.  These guys have everything so organized,” Dean nodded.  “Makes the work go really fast.”
 
“Your accurate measurements make the work go fast,” Chuck grinned, adding to the conversation.
 
Dean ducked his head at the compliment.  Accuracy was a must when he was being taught by his dad.  To measure incorrectly was to incur the wrath of John Winchester.  He mentally shook off the notion of the hell he would pay for poor measurements and focused on the coffee station inside the work tent.  It was a rickety table with a huge black and silver coffee pot.  It was his beacon of hope here in the wilderness.  He grabbed his mug off the table, a silver travel mug with a raised logo on it from Game of Thrones.  He twisted the lid off and pressed the lever, blowing a sigh of relief that there was a steady flow of brown liquid to fill his cup.  He bypassed the packs of sugar and the small fridge that held half and half.  He sat down at one of the tables, taking a few long swallows.
 
The work tent was rather full right now.  Most of the construction workers were here and some of the other workers too.  He itched with the instinct to leave the crowded space, hearing the rain already start to pelt the canvas stretched above his head.
 
It rained a lot here.  Like twice a day.
 
When it wasn’t raining, it was muggy as hell.
 
Sammy would smirk and say, ‘that’s why they call it a jungle’.  Dean grinned just thinking about his smartassed little brother.  Man.  He missed Sam.
 
“Hey guys!” Chuck called weakly over the crowd, only gaining attention from half of them.  The other half still jabbered away at each other.
 
Chuck gave him a hesitant smile and Dean knew the guy was struggling.  He sat back and whistled loudly, conversations stopping instantly.  “Take it away, Chuck,” he grinned back.
 
“Thank you.”  Chuck cleared his throat.  “Since so many of you are here, I might as well give an update.”  He put a pair of glasses on and opened a piece of notebook paper.  “Seven houses are completed as far as construction, five of those are painted and furnished.  We are right on schedule.  The eighth house is well under way.  I wanted to give a special thanks to Meg, for her hard work keeping us all coordinated, and to our host families for keeping us well fed.”
 
They all clapped.  Dean watched as Meg waved off Chuck’s praise with a shake of her head and a roll of her eyes.  He wondered, not for the first time, how she had gotten herself into such a position in life to find areas in need and say, ‘okay, I’ll bring a bus load of people here and build you a neighborhood’.  He grinned, thinking about the first time he met her.  He was helping Benny work on a house in town through Habitat For Humanity.  Meg had moved up in the company, working for the head office several states away from where they had met.  But he and Benny continued to volunteer.  And here he was, in Brazil, in the midst of a week-long workout from Hell, and loving it.  
 
The work tent they were all crowded into now, was one of a few that had sprouted up in the area as Habitat For Humanity converged on the outskirts of Recife, Brazil.  Chuck’s team was in charge of ten new builds.  This was an add-on from the original plan to only complete repairs through the town.  Other teams were handling those.  In the last four days, they had built seven and a half houses.  It really was crazy how quickly things could progress when there were so many hands to help and everything was organized.  Dean had taken four local men under his wing to teach them carpentry and housebuilding, giving four men the skills to do this on their own more effectively.  
 
Brazil was beautiful.  He was so glad he had done it.  He felt good.  Giving felt good.  He hadn’t felt this complete since before Sam left home for college.  Now Sam was working his first year as a real lawyer, not just an underpaid grunt on an internship.  Sam was happy.  It was the craziest thing that had brought about this entire ordeal.  Sam had butt-dialed him.  As Dean listened, he heard Sam laugh and talk with some of his friends and then they left his house.  Still unaware of Dean listening, Sam proceeded to clean up (he assumed from intermittent running water and the sounds of things being gathered up) and all the while, he was humming and singing to himself.
 
Humming.
 
Singing.
 
Happy.  
 
Sam was happy.  Content.  He was doing what he had set out to do.  And yes, he had debt.  And he was single.  But alone and on a random evening with nothing to celebrate, he was happy.
 
Dean’s soul had lit up with a warm glow.  He had finally dropped the phone from his ear, staring at the screen.  “Love you, Sammy.  Good talk.”  He had ended the call and sat at his kitchen table for over an hour after that, staring at nothing.
 
He wasn’t singing.
 
And he wasn’t happy.
 
Dean’s life had been a series of tragedies that culminated into a long streak of growing up way too quickly.  His mom had died when he was four.  House fire.  His dad spiraled into a depression festively decorated in alcoholism.
 
John was an angry man.
 
Angry at life.
 
Angry at Mary.
 
Angry at himself.
 
He raised his sons on the road between odd jobs.  They often lived in motels and shitty apartments.  And that was when things were good.  Dean and Sam had surfed the foster system periodically throughout their childhoods.  Sometimes together, but usually apart.  Some of those were good.  Some of those were bad.
 
When Dean turned seventeen, he became an emancipated adult.  A year later, he took custody of Sam.  Most of the time, Dean didn’t know if Sam would have been better off left in the care of strangers or not.  But deep down, they both knew Dean was doing the best he could.
 
Dean’s ‘best’ meant he worked a lot.  And yes, they were back in a crappy apartment in subsidized living for a few years, then in an apartment on their own.  But Dean’s ‘best’ also meant meals every day, clothes, steady school, and love.  Dean never once made a bone about it.  He loved his little brother.  From the time he was four, which pretty much meant forever in Dean’s world, he was in charge of Sam.  That baby had called him dad long before he called John dad.  His first roll, his first steps, his first bike ride, had all been under the hovering hands of Dean.  His joys, his hopes, his fears, his bloody noses, and broken bones had all been given over to Dean.  Not John.
 
The pair were inseparable for years.  And nothing had prepared Dean for Sam’s departure to college.  Dean only lasted one semester until he uprooted himself and moved just outside of Stanford, where Sam was attending school.  When Sam moved, he moved with him.  Why the hell not.  And when Sam relocated to work internships, Dean went with him.  There was need for construction workers everywhere.  He always had work.  
 
So, of course, when Sam moved to Pennsylvania, Dean packed up and moved along too.  It never crossed his mind that every step he took, was for Sam.  It never occurred to him that he needed to take some steps for himself.  He did finally move out, leaving Sam with the nice little apartment they had shared.  He got one of his own.  And at age 30, he lived by himself for the first time in his life.  Most of the time, he loved it.  He did what he wanted, when he wanted.  When money was low, he ate ramen noodles.  When money was flowing, he spent it on whatever he wanted.  And so he floundered for a year.  Sam was thriving as a lawyer.  His responsibility had been met.  So...now what?
 
His friend Benny was working overtime one weekend (shortly after the butt-dial episode) and called him at 6am on a Saturday.  One of Benny’s coworkers had a family emergency and couldn’t work, leaving his weekend obligation short one carpenter.  Dean, ever the giver, showed up to the work site in his stead and took home way more than he put into that house that day.  He became a regular volunteer with Habitat For Humanity with Benny.  A few months later, they took their first international trip to Mexico.
 
Now, he was a continent away from home, on his second international trip.  It was a week of an insane amount of work.  He was dog-tired when he was done.  But he felt really good about it.  
 
“So,” Chuck continued, drawing Dean’s attention back again, “let’s gather back here in forty-five minutes to start again.  The rain should be gone by then.”
 
“Thanks, Chuck!” A few people called amongst a smattering of claps.  Dean stood up, taking his coffee with him.  He ambled out of the tent, following the crowd as they dispersed for a break.  Outside, the rain came down in a drenching pour.  Dean ran along the row of tents, finding the supply tent he was looking for.
 
He pushed the flap open, greeted with the smell of fresh cut wood, grass, and rain.  He slowed his steps, taking a deep breath.  This might possibly be his favorite smell in the world.  He pulled his Habitat T-shirt off, shaking the damp material out.  He spread it out on a nearby stack of lumber and sat down, leaning back to enjoy his coffee.
 
He looked up at the pattering rain on the canvas roof overhead and felt weariness creep in.  He settled against the pile and drank the last of his coffee.
 
 
 
**********************************
 
 
 
Cas followed Gabriel into a tent, dodging out of the downpour.
 
“What do you mean, she canceled?” Cas asked.
 
Gabriel shrugged his shoulders, freezing in his step  Castiel followed his gaze.  There, stretched out like a centerfold, was Dean, one of the lead carpenters.  His jeans stretched long and tight to his thighs and calves, slightly damp from the rain.  He was leaned back, one arm propped on a slightly higher stack of lumber from the stack he sat on.  His other hand held a coffee mug precariously in his lap.  Moisture from the rain or humidity clung to his skin as his chest raised and lowered evenly.  His tan, handsome face was relaxed in pure ease as he slept.
 
Castiel could not stop his wandering gaze as he took in Dean’s long, firm lines and his always perfect hair.  His breathing hitched as he spotted freckles dusting his arms, shoulders and even his abs.  His breath caught totally as he spied a pale trail of hair leading into the waistband of his jeans.  Before he could even stop himself, he eyed the bulge to the left of his zipper.
 
Fuck.
 
He glanced at Gabriel quickly.  Gabe was staring at the man with a bit of a sly smile.  Cas whacked his shoulder, interrupting...whatever was going through his head.  
 
‘What?’ Gabe mouthed.
 
Cas shook his head no.  No, to whatever was brewing behind that devilish grin.
 
“Isn’t that the -”
 
“Yes!” Cas hissed quietly.  
 
Gabe turned back to the Adonis stretched before them, with an even more wicked grin.
 
Castiel gripped his brother’s shoulder tight, making Gabe wince and sink slightly to evade the grasp.
 
They both stepped closer to the tent flap, but it was still pouring outside.
 
“So,” Gabe went on in a hushed voice, “Kali said we need a break before the wedding.  She says a commitment like marriage is an archaic practice, set and kept by men to keep women down.”
 
“What are you going to do?” Cas asked.  He never particularly liked Kali.  The physical chemistry between Gabe and Kali was undeniable, but she was difficult in every way.  She constantly drove Gabe crazy.  They fought a lot.  Gabe said it was a ploy to have make-up sex, but Cas doubted that very much.  He was convinced she strung his brother along for the money and promise of stability.  But Gabe denied any of that.  
 
“I’m calling the whole damn thing off!” Gabe yelled, making Cas jump slightly and send a worried look to their napping companion.  Dean jolted awake, his coffee cup tumbling from his lap.
 
“She’s not worth the damage!”  Gabe went on, forgetting about the man entirely as Dean stared at the pair of them.
 
“I don’t know what I was thinking!  She’s got her hooks in me for the money.  You were right.”  Gabe paced away from him, frowning down at the grass the tent covered.  “You were right, Cassie.  She’s using me.  She sees dollar signs.  She only treats me well when she wants something.”  He flailed his hands with each statement.  “I hate when you’re right!”
 
Cas huffed a laugh at that.  He glanced at Dean again with an apologetic lift of one shoulder.  Dean slid forward, getting to his feet slowly, still watching both men warily.
 
“Ya know what she said?” Gabe ranted.  “Oh.”  Gabe froze, staring at Dean with his mouth open.  “Shit.  Sorry.”
 
“S okay,” Dean said, clearing the sleep from his low, scratchy, sexy, sleepy voice.  “I’ll...give you guys some privacy.”  Dean leaned down to pick up his shirt and coffee cup.
 
“No, man,” Gabe sighed.  “I’m sorry.  You were here first.  Please...stay.”
 
Dean grinned with a squint to his expression.  “That’s okay.”
 
“You ever been married?” Gabe asked, running a hand through his floppy, damp hair.  
 
“No,” Dean huffed with a bewildered grin.
 
“Good for you, man.  Stay single.  Or not married.  Whatever.”  Gabe turned back to Cas sharply.  “So, Kali has the audacity to say that I’VE been sleeping around!  ME!  Like her fucking women or men when she goes home to India is just expected!”
 
Cas raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.  Mild only because Kali was a crazy bitch in his book.
 
“I told her she was nuts!  That she was the one sleeping around!  Shit.  I’m too fucking busy to keep up with her, let alone have flings on the side!”  Gabe began pacing again.  “She said we should look at next summer as a possible date to get married.”
 
“Gabe,” Cas interrupted.
 
“Never fear, little bro.  I told her I was done.  Told her to keep the fucking ring and just forget my name and number.”
 
Now Cas was truly surprised.  “You told her that?”
 
“Yep,” Gabe snapped, popping the p and pacing away, shoving his hands into his jean’s pockets.  “Told her to keep whatever I gave her and stay the fuck out of my life.”
 
Cas frowned with worry.
 
“I’m done!” Gabe yelled, hands flying out in a show of enthusiasm.  “I’m a free man!”
 
Cas watched Gabe carefully, searching for the tiny cracks sure to show through his cavalier wall of indifference.  The tiniest twitch of the corner of his mouth gave him away.
 
“Gabe, I’m so sorry.”
 
“No you’re not.  And neither am I.  I dodged a big fucking bullet with that one, Cassie.  She can stay in India for all I care.  And I don’t.  Care.” Gabe insisted vehemently.
 
Cas nodded slowly, worried Gabe would change his song the next time he spoke to her.  She had a way of flipping Gabe off and on like a switch.
 
“Don’t you think if you’re about to get married, your significant other should be, oh, I don’t know...excited?” Gabe blurted, aiming the question at Dean.
 
Dean’s eyebrows raised in mild surprise as his hands moved slowly to sit his mug on the stacked lumber.  “I would hope so,” Dean offered.
 
“See? I’m not nuts!” Gabe went on, pacing again.  “She acts like our wedding is some kind of strategy between me and her parents to cage her in!”
 
“She’s not right for you, Gabe,” Cas insisted, not for the first time.  “Getting married should be a joy.  Not a problem.”
 
“Agreed,” Gabe said forcefully.
 
Dean watched the pair of them as he pulled his damp t-shirt back on.
 
“Dude,” Gabe changed gears, addressing Dean again, “you don’t have to get dressed on my account.  Or his.” He jabbed a thumb over his shoulder, pointing at Cas.
 
Dean half smiled, perching on the stack of lumber to untie his boot.  “Sounds like this chick is doing you dirty, man.”
 
Gabe sighed.  “Doing me dirty isn’t the problem.  She can DO me dirty any day of the week, if ya know what I’m sayin’.  But I’m not sharing my wife-to-be with the seedy, rich fuckers she parties with when she goes home!”
 
Dean snorted a laugh, focusing on retying his boot.
 
“So, the wedding is off?” Castiel clarified.  “Do you need me to do anything?”
 
Gabe plopped down next to Dean on the stack of boards.  “Yeah.  I need you to punch me if I even consider going back to her.”
 
Cas took a few steps further into the tent, closer to the men.  “That sounds easy enough.  What about notifying your guests?”
 
Gabe wilted.  “That’ll be fun.”
 
“If you have the guest list, I can try to start making calls when we get home,” Cas offered.
 
Gabe leaned forward, his elbows drilling down into his knees as his hands covered his face.  “I can’t believe I fucked this up so bad,” he muttered through his hands.  His shoulders gave a tell-tale buck.
 
And then came the tears.
 
Dean, watching him with a slightly shocked frown, turned to Cas.
 
Cas wanted to say something to make the situation less awkward, but what the hell?  His brother, who never cried about anything, was breaking down.  His heart broke as a sob slipped from Gabe.
 
Dean’s attention was back on Gabe.  “It’s better you know now, man.  At least she didn’t take half your money.”
 
Gabe’s hands dropped as his head shook side to side.  “What good is money if you don’t have anyone to share it with?”
 
Cas stepped closer, kneeling in front of his brother.  “She never shared anything, Gabe.  All she did was take.”  He looked up, realizing Dean had turned, sat down, and had his arm around Gabe, rubbing his shoulder.  Only Gabe would assume all his problems onto a total stranger like this.  His eyes moved back to Gabe as he reached forward, squeezing his knee gently.  “You are better off without her, Gabriel.  Trust me,” he said softly.
 
Gabe nodded, swatting tears off his cheeks.  “You’re right.”
 
“I’m sure it doesn’t feel very good right now, but trust me, Gabe, you will find love again.”
 
Gabe nodded pitifully, tipping toward Dean and letting his head drop on the stranger’s shoulder.  “Sorry, Dean.  We don’t even know each other.”
 
Dean patted his shoulder only looking mildly awkward.  “Get it out, man.  You can do better.”
 
Gabe sat up, meeting Castiel’s eyes for the first time since he had sat down.  “Why aren’t I enough?”
 
“Aw, Gabe,” Castiel sighed, letting his brother tip forward and fall into a hug.  “You are many amazing things.”  He rubbed circles into his back.  “You are going to make someone very happy someday.  You have so much love to give.”
 
Gabe sat back up.  He sighed, wiped his face and sat up straighter.  “Thanks for the pity party guys.  I’m gonna...take a walk.”  He gave Cas a shaky grin.
 
Cas got to his feet as Gabe did, hugging him briefly before he walked out of the tent.
 
Cas stood there, watching the flap sway back inward.  The rain poured down and thunder rolled.
 
“He gonna be okay?” Dean asked, still sitting on the lumber, eyes on the flap as well.
 
Castiel sighed.  Gabe was always okay.  Right?  The man was born lucky.  He played harder than any kid and always seemed to smell like roses no matter what kind of shit he rolled in.  “He’ll be fine.”  Castiel was sure of it.  Pretty much.  “He might not see it right now, but he’s better off.”
 
He turned to Dean with a nervous rub to the back of his neck.  “Sorry for the...”
 
“Man-drama?” Dean grinned.  “No problem.”  He got to his feet, taking his empty mug in his hands.  “How’d he know who I was?” Dean frowned, looking over at him.
 
Castiel blushed slightly.  Everyone knew who Dean was.  He was beautiful.  He was an amazing carpenter.  And he was quiet and steady.  “I, uh...everyone knows everyone here, I guess,” Cas shrugged.
 
Dean gave Cas a hesitant nod.
 
Castiel grinned.  Dean had no idea who he was.  It did not surprise him.  Dean pretty much stuck to his work and the local men he was training.  He licked his dry lips, stepping forward with his hand out-stretched.  “I’m Cas.”
 
Dean’s green eyes warmed as he took his hand in a firm handshake.  “Dean.”
 
Castiel could feel the rough skin of his fingers.  He had a notion to turn the hand palm up and marvel at the callouses, tracing his lifeline with his index finger.  He quickly shoved the notion aside, knowing he had already lingered a few seconds too long.  He released the hand, ducking his head shyly.  “Hello, Dean.”
 
He looked back up as Dean chuckled slightly, gripping the mug in both hands.
 
“That was my brother, Gabriel,” he added nervously, not wanting the quiet encounter to end.
 
Dean nodded, looking toward the flap of the tent.  “Guy seems pretty torn up.  I take it he was going to marry that lady?”
 
Cas sighed, slipping his hands into his pockets.  “Thankfully, it looks like the wedding is off.  I hope it stays that way.  He has a tendency to...stray back to Kali.  I hope this time he stays strong.”
 
Dean nodded.  “It’s pretty cool you did this with your brother.  Wish I could talk mine into coming with me on one of these trips.”
 
Castiel smiled warmly.  “Is your brother a carpenter as well?”
 
Dean beamed.  “He’s got the skills.  We grew up doing this kind of work.  But no.  He’s a lawyer.”
 
Castiel gave him an impressed nod, seeing how proud of him Dean was.
 
“He’s only been working for a year.  The schooling takes forever.”
 
Castiel nodded.
 
“Who knows, maybe in a few years I can rope him into coming along with me.”  Dean shrugged, tapping his palm to the bottom of the mug.
 
Thunder rumbled louder and the rain fell even harder, hitting the tent so hard they had to raise their voices to hear each other.
 
“How many trips have you done with HFH?” Castiel asked, enjoying every second of watching the man in front of him.
 
Dean pulled his clinging t-shirt away from his chest in an attempt to dry it more.  “This is my second international trip.  Went to Mexico last year.  I’d go more but...” he grimaced at the cup in his hand, “I really hate flying.”
 
Castiel nodded.  “Gabe talked me into coming.  This is my first international trip.  I don’t mind flying...I just mind...” he hesitated, not wanting to sound rude, “people.”
 
Dean laughed.  It was a chuckle that bloomed into a rich laugh, easing the tension in his face and allowing crinkles to form by his eyes.  “Me too!”
 
Castiel found himself grinning.
 
Dean sighed from the laugh.  “So...what do you do?  Around here, I mean.”
 
Castiel licked his dry lips again, feeling a warmth spread through his chest.  “I’m an interpreter.  I speak Portuguese.  Among other things.”
 
Dean gave him an impressed grin.  “Huh.  Portuguese.”
 
Castiel shrugged.  “Seven different dialects of Spanish.”
 
“Wow.  I mostly stick to ‘here’, ‘get the...whatever tool I need,’ and ‘thank you’.”  Dean grinned.
 
Castiel grinned, knowing a slight blush crept up his cheeks.  Dean was ridiculously handsome.  There wasn’t a single gay vibe about him though, and Castiel would never have the nerve to broach such a sensitive topic.  He still bore the physical scars of making that mistake once before in his younger years.
 
“Where are you from?” Dean asked, sitting down on the stack of lumber again.  He fanned his shirt away from his abs and back, giving Castiel tiny, fleeting peeks of his smooth skin.
 
“Um...Chicago,” he managed, clearing his throat.
 
“Yeah?  I lived there for a few months when I was a kid.”  He laughed short and bitter.  “I lived damn near everywhere for a few months when I was a kid.”
 
Castiel wondered about that.  But he didn’t want to dig or make Dean rethink talking to him.
 
“It’s a beautiful city, but I’ll be glad to leave it.”
 
Dean looked up at him with a perceptive smirk.  “People?”
 
“Mm,” Cas nodded, blushing again and looking down at his own sneakers.  “It’s very crowded.”
 
Dean nodded.  “Yeah.  And cold in the winter.”
 
Castiel looked back up at Dean.  “I hate the cold.  I prefer warm.  Maybe not quite this warm,” he added, glancing at the wall of the tent.
 
“Right?  Something between frigid and jungle?”
 
“Yes,” Castiel laughed.
 
“I’m living in Pennsylvania now.  It has all four seasons and no major natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes.  It’s a pretty good spot.”
 
Castiel felt his warm, fuzzy mood spread all the way to his fingertips.  “I’ve never been there.  I’ll have to visit the state some time.”
 
“Yeah.  Skip Philadelphia and Pittsburgh go for the pretty spots.  Like Gettysburg, Amish country around Lancaster.  No beaches.  Plenty of lakes and mountains though.”
 
Castiel nodded.  He never wanted to go somewhere so badly before.  With Dean by his side.  “Long road trip,” he mumbled.
 
“What?” Dean asked.
 
“I just mean...” Castiel frowned at the slip.  He pulled himself back in, checking himself for sharing too much.  “Sounds like a good road trip.”
 
Dean slouched back against the stacks of wood, giving up on the damp shirt.  “That’s my favorite way to spend a long weekend.  Road trip.  Sometimes me and Sam just head out.  No destination.  Just the road.”  His thumb ran a smooth stroke down the shiny metal cup.  Castiel swallowed hard, adjusting for the twitch of interest his dick had taken in the simple movement.  He hoped to god Sam was a dog.  His luck, it was short for his gorgeous wife, Samantha. Wait, he had said he was never married.
 
He cleared his throat.  “Sam?”
 
“My brother,” Dean grinned, his entire face lighting up again.  
 
“Ah,” Castiel grinned back.  He couldn’t help himself.  Dean’s grins were contagious.  Dashing.  The sun of someone’s universe.
 
Dean stood up.  “Hope Gabe makes out okay.”
 
Castiel nodded.  A cold rush dropped through him, realizing Dean was leaving.  “Thank you, Dean,” he said quietly, wishing with all his might that Dean would sit back down.
 
“See ya around, Cas.”
 
“Bye, Dean,” Castiel waved lamely.  He watched, helpless to move or say anything, as Dean ducked out of the tent.  A breath whooshed out of his chest.  Fuck.  He was hot.  Like centerfold of the year, scintillatingly hot.
 
Castiel ran a hand through his hair, the other hand landing on his hip.  He should have said something!  Done something!  He flopped onto the stack of lumber, staring up at the tent ceiling.  
 
There was no more pounding from the rain.
 
He stood up and headed for the door.  He pushed the flap back, stepping outside.  Humidity hung in the air so thick that it pulled through his lungs like a weight.
 
There was no sign of Dean.
 
He headed back to the tent where Chuck had said to meet.  He stepped inside, searching the crowd for Gabriel.  He was not surprised to see he was not there.  Gabe was not one to get down for long, but his almost-marriage had ended.  The reality of it tugged at Castiel’s heart.  He stepped to the side, taking a seat at one of the tables.  Chuck was already at the front of the little room, ready to give out directions for the remainder of the day.  
 
He jumped, practically yelping, when a hand landed on his shoulder with a solid pat.  His eyes lit up with delight as Dean squeezed close to him to take the empty chair by his side.
 
“Hello, Dean!”
 
“Hey!  Long time, no see,” he grinned.  His eyes twinkled with a light that Castiel was mesmerized by.  The smell of coffee jerked his senses into action.  And yeah.  That was why his mouth was watering...
 
Dean looked at his mug of coffee.  “You want some?” Dean asked.
 
“I, I have a mug.  Yes,” Castiel nodded, getting to his feet swiftly.  He looked at the coffee station with trepidation.  It was a wild happenstance that Dean would sit next to him.  If he left, he might lose his seat.
 
He glanced down, seeing Dean watching him with curiosity.  He gave him what was probably a nervous grin as he stepped around his chair and headed for the small table.  An assortment of mugs hung from a pegboard of hooks.  He reached for his, high on the top row, and waited his turn at the giant coffee altar.  As he finally stepped up to fill his mug, he watched as Jo, a pretty, young blonde pulled HIS chair out.
 
Dean looked up at the girl and smiled.  “Cas is sitting here,” he said simply.
 
She smiled down at him, moving away easily enough.
 
Scalding heat seared his hand and he jerked it away, hissing at the offending coffee pot.  “Dammit,” he muttered, sloshing a bit more and wincing.  He turned away, pointedly not looking to see if Dean saw his fumble.  He sat the cup down, looking at his hand.  Two red welts rose.  One on his thumb and one along his index finger.
 
Way to go, assbutt.
 
He poured some coffee out to make room for all the creamer and sugar he required.
 
Finally done, he walked back over to Dean as Chuck began talking.
 
He got into his seat quietly, keeping his burnt hand under the table.  Dean turned to him, his eyes darting down to the hidden hand.  Castiel ignored it, staring at Chuck, trying to pay attention.  
 
Chuck listed the main events for the rest of the day, making sure everyone knew their parts.  They had been doing this for days now, and the group functioned like a well-oiled machine.
 
Chuck told them all again how wonderful they were doing and ended the meeting.  As the room broke out into loud chatter, Dean leaned over to him, making Castiel’s breath catch.  
 
“I bet that hurt like a sonofabitch.”
 
Cas grinned slightly.  Caught.
 
“You okay?” Dean asked, watching him closely.
 
“Yes.  I’m fine,” Castiel murmured.
 
“You uh, busy?” Dean asked.
 
Castiel met his green eyes, trying not to show how desperately he wanted to stay in the man’s orbit.  “Wh- what do you mean?”
 
“So, I been workin with these four guys, and I can barely say shit to them.  It might help if you were there to do some translating.  If you have time.”
 
Castiel tried not to grin as much as he felt it erupt from his soul.  “Yes.  I can do that.”
 
Dean grinned back mildly.  “Okay.  You know where we’ll be.”  He got up, heading out of the tent.
 
Castiel deflated back into his chair.  He couldn’t believe his luck today.