Warnings: Little bit of angst, talk of underage drinking, smut in the next part
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“Sam, you worry too much. 67 is thriving in new restaurant terms, okay? It always takes a few months for a restaurant to get up off its feet,” Dean said, looking up at his little brother from the couch in his office.
“Dean, you took out a second mortgage on your house. If this doesn’t work-”
Dean Winchester scratched his neck, short nails scraping across the slightly raised area of his phoenix tattoo. “It will.”
“Restaurants fail all the time!”
Dean sighed, loudly, and shook his head at his brother. “Is my food good?”
It was Sam’s turn to sigh. “Yeah.”
“Nutritionally sound, that’s where you came in. Farm-to-table, with help from some of Dad’s connections. Out of this world flavors, that’s me.” He stood and grabbed a bottle of water from the desk, twisting the cap off. “What about the decor, huh? High end without being unwelcoming. That’s why I let Mom pick the shit out. There’s not a place like mine within fifty miles of Lawrence, man. The locals just need a little more time to spread the word of mouth. It’ll spread.”
Sam looked down. Dean was right, but he was worried for his big brother. Dean had put everything into the business and if he didn’t see an uptick in sales soon, it was going to be all for nothing. “Have you called the paper? There’s that food critic everyone listens to, Y/f/n Y/l/n. If you could get them to send her to 67, if she could write a good review, maybe…” Sam tapered off as Dean smiled at him. “They already said they were sending her, right?”
“I told you, you worry too much. I’ve got it all under control.”
Sam chuckled. “Just make sure it’s the best meal she’s ever eaten, Dean. Then I’ll stop worrying.” But he already felt more at ease about the situation.
“Did they say when she’s going to be here?” Castiel, Bistro 67’s Front of House manager/server was obviously warring between excitement and nervous.
“Of course not. It’s supposed to be an organic experience. We’re not supposed to do anything special to prep for her. That’s why some critics wear disguises and shit,” Dean answered, pulling a beer to his lips. “And we don’t have to do anything to prepare. My food’s bound to be the best she’s ever tasted.”
“I don’t know, Dean. I’ve seen her destroy some-”
“She’s not gonna destroy us, Cas.” Dean ran his hand down his face. “I’m kinda sick of being the only one with faith around here.”
“Dean, of course I have faith, but-”
“Whatever,” Dean dismissed. “Make sure your people got their side work done. I gotta go run down the day with my cooks.” He stomped toward the kitchen as Castiel sighed. Dean was Castiel’s best friend and Cas believed in Dean’s dream, but the real world didn’t always allow for dreams. The real world sometimes crushed dreamers and he didn’t want to see that happen to Dean.
Y/n pulled into the parking lot of Bistro 67 at 6:45 pm and looked around. She pulled her pen out of her pocket and jotted down a note: 6 cars in lot. not inspiring confidence. She stepped out and examined the facade of the building as she walked into the restaurant. As she waited for the hostess to notice her, she took in the look of the interior. It came across as almost homey, but a much nicer home than her own. outer decor leaves something to be desired, but inner = warm, welcoming. She tucked the notebook into her purse and smiled as the hostess walked up to the podium.
“Hi. I have a 7 o'clock reservation,” she said.
“Name?” the blond asked.
“Carol Danvers,” she answered with a smile.
“All right, Miss Danvers, we’ve got you over here in the middle,” she said, grabbing a menu and walking Y/n to a small table in the middle of the room. “Your server is going to be Cas. Can I get you started with something to drink? We’ve got a great selection of wines and some amazing local craft beers.” She flipped the menu open to the wine list and then flipped to the next page of beers.
“I’ll start with a glass of water, but, uh… why don’t you pour me a glass of the Merlot so it can breathe?” Y/n said, looking over the food items on the menu.
She bit her lip as she looked over the options. “Good evening. My name is Castiel, I’ll be serving you tonight.”
“What is ‘skate wing’?” Y/n asked. She knew, of course, but part of her job was to test the knowledge of the staff.
The fluffy-haired man smiled politely. “It’s a fish of the ray family. It has a mild flavor and a firm flesh. It’s very similar to a scallop with a bit less of an ocean-y taste.”
Y/n nodded, happy with that explanation. “I’m gonna start with the skate wing and shrimp, then I’m going to follow that up with the surf 'n’ turf, medium rare.” She smiled, tightly, and handed the menu to the blue-eyed server.
“Good choices.” He smiled and walked away.
Y/n slipped her notebook out of her purse and jotted down Staff knows the food, then pulled out her phone and started to look at Facebook. She had to look inconspicuous. Of course, with so few people in the dining room, she was bound to gain someone’s attention. That person just happened to be the chef…the tall, tattooed, green-eyed man with the plump lips. “Shit.” She slumped and looked down at the table. She turned in her seat and turned her back as much as she could. “Stay professional, Y/n,” she whispered to herself.
“She looks so familiar.” Dean bit his lip as he watched the woman scribble in a notebook, then pull out her phone. He was sure it was the critic but he was also sure he’d seen her before. He turned to his sous chef, Jack, and nodded. “You got the filet fired, right?”
“All right. Don’t go crazy with the butter on the lobster. You went too heavy last time. We want just enough for the poach. I’m gonna go make the rounds, greet the customers. I’ll be back in ten.” Dean smiled as he walked out into the dining room of the restaurant. He greeted several families and the three couples sitting along the windows before circling around to the woman sitting by herself in the middle of the room. “Hey, welcome to Bistro 67. I’m Dean, this is my place.”
“Oh, that’s nice. Don’t owners usually have more important things to do than come out and greet folks?” The woman didn’t look up from her phone, didn’t acknowledge the hand he was offering her.
“Yeah, well, when you’ve got such a great team, you can walk away for a few minutes.” He waited a moment, dropping his hand and trying to get a better look at her face, which was still turned down to look at her phone. “Well, I can see you’re busy, so… I’ll go see where we are on your food.”
Dean walked away and tried to get a good look at her face as he walked around the table, but he only succeeded in causing her to slump further. “What the hell?” He resisted the urge to slam the kitchen door open in frustration. “Incoming!” He walked into the kitchen and over to the line. “How’s it comin’ on table 12?”
“Up in five, Chef!”
“All right. Lemme know when it’s up so I can double check it for perfection.” He patted Jack’s shoulder and started to move across the kitchen. “Behind!”
Even if she hadn’t recognized his face, that voice would’ve sent her back into her memories of high school immediately. Thinking of a prom after-party at the Holiday Inn, where she had too much to drink and had an unrestrained make-out session with one Dean Winchester, Free State High School’s resident playboy. She had wondered for years how he’d wound up at a Lawrence High School Prom party, but it made sense that a guy like Dean would seek out all kinds of fun and any place where he might find loose women…and that night, she definitely qualified.
She’d practically thrown herself at him, begging him to take her ‘V-card’. She knew his reputation, but she didn’t care. The cheap vodka from the Kool-Aid in her red Solo cup made her numb to the potential consequences.
He rejected her. Dean Winchester, who once fucked a girl in the broom closet at Lawrence Heights Christian Church during a particularly boring sermon, rejected her. In her slutty green Prom dress with her inhibitions destroyed by alcohol, Dean Winchester rejected her.
As she cut her fork through the skate wing and took a drink of her Merlot, she tried to focus on her job. Her job of analyzing every piece and part of this restaurant. Not on the pain she’d felt on Prom night or how she’d felt disgusting for years because even a guy like Dean didn’t want her. A guy who took another, sluttier, chick to the backseat of his car that night instead of her.
Skate a little over. Shrimp perfect. Flavor amazing. She managed to write the truth instead of nitpicking about the slight chewy quality of the skate wing. Skate was easy to overcook, it probably went over during its rest, but she could make a huge deal of it if she wanted. The filet mignon and lobster were fortunately perfect, or unfortunately since she was really hoping for a good reason to tank the man who broke her.
As she stood, having left the bill and an ample tip in the ticket book, Castiel smiled and said, “Hope to see you again!”. When she responded with, “Not very likely,” his eyes went wide and he turned them toward the kitchen.
She was almost to her car when Dean called out across the parking lot, “Okay, what the hell’s your problem?!”
She turned to him, dropping her purse on the trunk of her car. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me!” He stomped closer. “Did I do something to you?”
She sighed, looking across the parking lot at him. “Nope. You didn’t do shit to me. Did I do something to you?”
“You think I don’t know who you are? You think I don’t know you hold my restaurant’s future in your hands and you just said you weren’t comin’ back?” he spit at her.
She blinked at him a few times before she reached into her purse and pulled out her notebook, shoving the papers in his face. “Your review is fine, Winchester. You’ll have a boost in patronage in a week. You don’t have to worry. I’m just not coming back.“
"Why?” he asked, looking at the words on the paper. “You said…right here, you said…”
“It’s personal,” she responded, grabbing the notebook back.
“If it’s personal, then tell me,” he demanded. “How do you know me?”
She shoved the book in her purse and shook her head. “Maybe I just don’t like skate,” she responded.
“Hey, you look familiar, okay?” Dean stepped closer to her, examining her face. “Look, if I hurt your feelings or-or-or I didn’t call you when I said I would or-”
“God, does it even fucking matter, Dean?” she exclaimed, losing her cool, slightly. She took a deep breath and shook her head. “You didn’t call me, but you didn’t do anything wrong, Dean. It’s all my own personal…”
“Just tell me what happened!”
“You turned me down!” She immediately regretted the words. She licked her lip into her mouth and shook her head again. She took a deep breath as she decided to just let everything out. “Prom night. You refused to sleep with me and took Marcy Williamson back to your car and I understand that, okay, because she knew what you wanted and I was just some stupid, ugly, virgin but that doesn’t mean I want to come to your restaurant and be around you, no matter how good your stupid lobster tastes!”
He looked confused for a minute before his eyes widened. “Y/n!”
“That’s me.” Y/n said, opening her car door and tossing the purse inside.
“You’re holding a grudge against me for not taking advantage of you when you were damn-near blackout drunk after the Prom?”
She scoffed. “Like you cared about that. You’ve never been known for your discerning sensibilities, Winchester. You seriously had a girl creaming on your cock in the stands during a football game and you almost got her expelled. You didn’t have-”
“She wanted it and she was sober! Fuck, I’m a man-whore, but I’m not a monster!” he exclaimed. “I put you in a taxi and took up with Mustache Marcy because you weren’t in any position to be making a major decision like that!” He stepped up closer to her and licked his lips. “You were a fuckin’ virgin. I was supposed to give you your first time while you were too drunk to remember it?”
She opened her mouth to snark back at him, but his words hit her brain like a jackhammer and stopped her. “I…I thought it was…” She shook her head in disbelief, feeling ridiculous about being so offended for so long. “It doesn’t matter what I thought. Point is, I’m writing you a good review so it doesn’t matter what grudge I was holding…or how stupid I was to hold it. You’ve got what you need from me. So I can-”
“You should come back.”
“What?” She turned to him, arm resting on the edge of her car door.
He licked his lips and smiled. “I know it’s been fifteen years, but I don’t see a ring on your finger and before that Kool-Aid caught up to you, we had a lot of fun. You were sweet. I mean…I tried to find you the next day but nobody could tell me your last name.”
She chuckled a little ruefully. “That wasn’t really my group. I only had one friend there and she disappeared with her Prom date about ten minutes after we got to the hotel.“
"And you ended up with me.”
“Well, I didn’t have a Prom date.” She shrugged.
“Never understood that.”
There was an ache taking up residence in her chest as he spoke. He was looking at her with those gorgeous green eyes and his lips were curled into that gorgeous smile and it was making her feel like she was eighteen years old again. “I’ve been awkward my whole life, Winchester. The only reason I was able to even talk to you at the after party was because of the Kool-Aid.”
“Well, you’re talkin’ to me, now,” he pointed out with a smile.
“Merlot,” she responded quickly and he smiled widely.
“Come back, sometime. You didn’t even get a dessert.”
She bit her lip, then nodded. “Okay. I’ll come back sometime.”
“Call ahead. Use your real name next time so I can get something special going for you.”
Y/n nodded and climbed into her car. She would definitely do that.