Everyone and everyone agrees that the Bon Appetít test kitchen is one of the best places to work in the entirety of the culinary business. If you're given a job there, you've made it—you have skill, and creative vision, and just the right mix of crazy perseverance that makes a good creative chef.
The test kitchen is a closely-knit family. They have to be, working in such close quarters and often collaborating on things together. You get to know people's strengths, their weaknesses, what makes them tick and what ticks them off. And mostly, the chefs and editors use that power for good. Support each other, lift each other up, filling in each other's gaps with their own skills.
And then there's Dean Winchester and Castiel Novak.
"Hey, has Novak done this yet? With his crazy fuckin' nose—yeah, sorry Charlie, I know I shouldn't swear... How many did he get right, though?"
Dean Winchester is loveable, and rough around the edges. He went to culinary school, sure, but a lot of his skills have come from practical experience—years spent learning the basic skills as a kid with his mom, working in a restaurant from the age of 17 and never once looking back. All things considered, though, no one doubts that he’s a talented chef with an instinctive knack for food. His style is and homey and relaxed, and he's mostly known for his charm, his sense of humour...
And his ongoing and (mostly) friendly rivalry with the kitchen's newest addition.
"Cheddar. Definitely cheddar." And then... "What did Winchester say it was? Parmesan? You can't be serious."
Castiel Novak aced culinary school. He threw himself wholly into his studies in every way possible, devoting his entire life to the art of cooking. He's been in the industry for years, and has done time in some of New York's most successful restaurants. When he'd accepted a position at the Bon Appetít test kitchen, it had been a subject of talk and gossip for a good while. People had expected him to maybe be a little aloof, or a reserved, but as soon as they’d met him, they'd found he had a good heart. With time, he's opened up, gotten comfortable in front of the camera, and found his place in the kitchen.
And that 'place' seems to be 'constantly needling Dean.'
Whenever they're in videos together, the tension between them is almost palpable. They're friendly, of course, but not to the level that everyone else is. Their friendship is more about jokes that are almost close to being too much, and a constant undercurrent of rivalry that is sometime verging on tense but that their YouTube viewers seem to love.
Today seems to be one of those days.
The kitchen is full, with people working at each station, and each on a different project. Andy's making a stew, Charlie has entered Cheez-It hell, Anna is working on a caramel cake that smells delicious, and Castiel is working on some kind of pasta dish.
And then there's Dean, who today has tasked himself with making sourdough donuts. Honestly, he's pretty fucking excited for it—he's never tried to make donuts like this before, and he has a feeling that they're definitely going to turn out well.
All in all, there's a good atmosphere in the kitchen today. Considering the snow swirling outside and the bleak, grey appearance of the city skyline, it's definitely nicer to be inside near the warmth of the ovens and in the company of good friends.
Except that, when Dean had turned up late to work today because of troubles with his car in the snow, the only bench left available had been the one directly in front of Castiel's. He's not even an hour into his donut undertaking, and he can already hear Novak making quiet comments from behind him.
Dean has just finished making his dough when Castiel comes past. From what Dean's been able to hear, when he's not busy focusing on making his own video, is that the pasta is almost done, and then Novak is tied up in meetings all throughout lunchtime. Dean, meanwhile, is concentrating on not deflating his dough as he puts it into the container to rise, and therefore really does not need the attention of a lingering chef with an almost-complete dish and a near-constant need to poke at and comment on everything that Dean does.
But that's what he gets, anyway.
"How's the dough going, Dean?" Novak asks, leaning innocently over Dean's shoulder. This close, he radiates warmth and smells amazing, and Dean has to mentally shake himself. They're currently being filmed, after all, so it's highly likely that if he says or does anything stupid, it's going to be preserved in film forever.
"Just fine," he says with a shrug, then bites his lip in concentration as he focuses on the moving. One swift scoop, and then it's into the container, just seconds before Novak opens his mouth again.
"It's looking like dough," he says, "so that's something. Making the dough is easy, though—it's the donuts themselves that will be difficult, especially if the dough doesn’t r—."
Dean cuts him off, bristling but trying to keep a smile on his face as he snaps, "Trust me, Novak, I know. What, are you suddenly a donut-making expert, if you've got all this wise advice to give me?"
Novak raises his eyebrows, but doesn't move away, and the two of them stare at each other for several long moments. Novak is the one to break first, looking away and gesturing at the camera. "Well, if you're giving away titles," he says, gesturing to the air in front of Ash's camera with the hint of a smirk tugging at his lips, "feel free to make me some kind of 'donut-master' in post production. Your show is the one with all the crazy editing, right?"
God, he can be annoying sometimes, but he always looks fucking infuriatingly good even when he's pissing Dean off. They have their good days, and their bad days, and today Novak is definitely rubbing Dean the wrong way.
"Aww, you watch my show," Dean replies, with the faintest touch of irritated sarcasm. "That's so sweet, I'm flattered."
For a second, it's almost as though he's put Novak on the back foot. He blinks in surprise, and then his cheeks take on a faint blush, as though he's embarrassed at having given that away. "Occasionally," he says slowly, clearly fishing for something to say to gloss over the knowledge that he's revealed. "And... I know you don't have the greatest track record with sourdough. So it seems like you should be seeking all the advice you can get.”
His lips curl up into that tiny smirk that means he's sure he's won this round, and it's an expression that Dean really wants to punch off his face right now. He grits his teeth and bites back the ‘Fuck off’ that's building in his chest, because Ash is giving him warning eyes over the top of the camera now. Before he can figure out what to say to that, though, Charlie comes to his rescue.
"Get a room!" she calls teasingly across the kitchen, and almost everyone turns to look at where Dean and Castiel are standing—which suddenly feels way too close. Dean takes a quick step back.
Thankfully, she seems to realise the awkward situation she's put them in, and quickly mouths 'sorry' to Dean before turning her attention back to Castiel. "And Cas," she adds, "if you're handing out advice right now, I could really use it for these fucking Cheez-Its."
Novak's expression softens into one of fond amusement—one that is almost never directed at Dean—and nods in her direction. "I can certainly do that. Just let me finish plating up my pasta, and then..." He makes a show of checking his watch, smiling. "I think I should be able to fit in a quick consultation before my meetings."
The rest of the kitchen seems to find his joke amusing, but Dean has to bite back a scowl. Consultation? Where the fuck does Novak get off on being such an entitled prick, even if he seems to be joking?
Dean white-knuckles the edge of his container and glares at Novak as he returns his attention to Dean. "Good luck with the donuts," he says with a faint smirk, then turns on his heel and makes his way back to his own bench, leaving Dean's space and giving him a bit of room to breathe once more.
What a jerk.
Dean puts his sourdough away in the refrigerator to proof, and while it does, he suddenly finds himself with a decent amount of time on his hands.
He spends the first part of it on his laptop while he sits at his bench, figuring out ingredients and ideas for the next few recipes he's planning to create. While he researches, though, he can't help but keep an ear out for everything else that's happening in the kitchen. Charlie and Castiel seem to be having a great time collaborating on her Cheez-It project, and Dean hides his scowl against his hand.
Why does everyone else seem to get along so well with him, while Dean just... can't? There's always something between them, holding him back, rubbing him the wrong way.
Donut-master. What a cocky motherfucker.
Novak lingers for a little while longer, doing what seems like tiny, pointless tasks back at his bench for god knows what reason. Not that Dean is paying attention, or tuned into the movements and sounds behind him like some kind of bat. Not at all. Finally, though, Dean hears his footsteps walk away, and hears him announce that he's going for lunch and his meetings now.
Dean still has time while his sourdough proofs, and when he turns to look at Novak's counter, he sees his apron sitting innocently atop the surface.
Dean starts to formulate his plan. It's petty, and childish, and it's definitely not the best use of time, but it's sure as hell going to make him feel better after the way that Novak's comments have put him off ever since that interaction.
Novak's timer is still pinned to his apron, and that's where Dean goes now, looking down at it. He's never seen Novak without it—he uses it for everything, following even his own recipes down to the second with it—and now Dean can use it to even the playing field. He unclips it from the apron and sets it to sixty minutes. Novak should be back by then.
After that, all it takes is for Dean to hide it right at the back of one of the cupboards at Novak's station, and then he can sit back and watch the chaos unfold once Novak realises it's gone, or it starts to ring.
That's not quite enough, though. Now that he's started in on the pranking, it's hard to stop, and so Dean stands at Novak's work station and eyes the things that Novak holds second-most precious to his heart.
Novak always keeps a stash of at least three spoons in the pocket of his apron, and has many times cited them as his most useful and beloved of all his kitchen items. He loves the things, and so naturally, they’re what Dean is going to mess with. It's not the most productive use of his time, but at least it'll make him feel better and hopefully make for some good video content if it gets filmed.
"What are you up to over there, Dean?"
Charlie's voice carries across the kitchen—it's more quiet than it had been earlier, with most people off to lunch, so at least she's the only one who suspects he's up to something. And out of all his co-workers and fellow food editors, she's the one who will be most on board with his idea.
A slow smile curls Dean's lips as his prank takes form. "Oh, I'm up to mischief, Charlie," he says, grinning now. "Wanna help me out?"
They take all the spoons from Novak's work station. Every single one, from the drawers and the cupboards and the countertop, big or small. They take every single spoon, and then they drop them into cake tins and pans and whatever else they can find. The metal clatters, and Dean shares a grin with Charlie. "Man, he's gonna be so pissed when he finds out these are all gone," he says gleefully.
The look Charlie gives him suggests that he's probably enjoying this a little too much, but it's not often that he gets the opportunity to one-up Novak. No, he has to make the most of it while he can, and that's why he takes the tins and fills them with water to the top, spoons inside and all, then makes his way over to the freezer.
Dean doesn't make too much of a thing of hiding the tins. He doesn't want to make it too hard and actually make Novak genuinely angry, he just... wants it to be enough to piss him off a little.
After all, he's found out that Novak looks pretty fucking hot when he's pissed off.
And so, with the tins full of spoons in place in the freezer and Novak's timer hidden somewhere within his bench, Dean returns to his laptop and his lunch and waits for Novak to return. It doesn't take long—all in all, it's probably about half an hour before Dean hears his voice approaching. More than enough time for the water in the tins to have frozen.
Novak returns thirty minutes later, and all of a sudden, Dean is much more focused on what's happening behind him than he is the recipe he's writing notes on with his laptop.
It sounds like he’s talking with one of the food photographers, his voice sounding kind and happy, and Dean isn't sure what the twisting in his chest means, but he sure as hell doesn't like it. That doesn't matter right now, though—what matters is that Novak's alarm is meant to go off in just over ten minutes, and all his spoons should be well on their way to frozen at this point. He keeps his gaze on his laptop, but his attention is definitely on the bench behind him.
First, he hears Novak get started on a new dish. The guy uses his spoons all the way through the cooking process, so it doesn't surprise Dean at all when soon enough, he hears Castiel say a confused "what?" and then start opening all his drawers and cupboards. Charlie turns and catches Dean's eye over her shoulder, and they share a grin before she looks back away so they don't get caught.
"What's happened to my spoons?"
It's a question directed to the whole kitchen, but it seems very pointedly aimed at Dean, considering he's sitting right in front of Castiel. He grins, holding back his laughter, then schools his expression and turns around with a look of mock-innocence. "What do you mean, what happened to your spoons?"
Novak sees through him immediately, if the scowl he gives him is anything to go by. "My spoons, Dean. The ones I use all the time? The ones you constantly make fun of me for? Hmm, I wonder who could have taken them." He rubs his chin in a pretence of thoughtfulness, then drops the act and folds his arms across his chest. "The game is up, where did you put them?"
Dean finally lets himself grin properly—it's way too much fun making Cas grumpy. "They're around... somewhere. I'll let you know when you get close to them."
Castiel stares at him for a long moment, then very pointedly takes a large step to his left.
Dean shakes his head.
Holding his gaze, Castiel takes two steps to his right—closer to the walk-in freezer. Dean lets his grin widen. "Warmer. Or, should I say... colder."
Novak's a smart motherfucker. It only takes him a few seconds to realise what Dean means, and then he's off, stalking away towards the freezer. Dean hears his muffled shout of "Motherfucker!" and he and Charlie both burst out laughing. All his years spent pranking Sammy have paid off in the best possible way, and it's even more amusing when Castiel returns balancing the seven frozen tins in his arms. Splitting the spoons across two or three would've been too easy, after all.
Castiel dumps the tins down onto his countertop, then narrows his eyes at Dean and Charlie, who somehow manage to muffle their laughter enough to play at looking contrite. "I'm guessing this was your doing?" he asks, and Charlie points her finger at Dean.
"I was the muscle, he was the mastermind," she confesses, and Dean flips her off. Traitor.
"I wanted to see how far you'd get before you noticed they were gone," Dean says, then checks the time on his phone with a grin. "Speaking of..."
Like clockwork, Castiel's timer starts going off somewhere beneath his counter. He slaps a hand to his apron where it usually sits, then looks back up at Dean, his eyes narrowed. "My spoons and my timer?" he growls—although he doesn't seem particularly angry, and Dean could swear that there's the faintest hint of a smile curling at his lips. "This means war, Winchester."
And then he disappears from Dean's sight, rummaging around beneath his workstation to find his missing timer.
Pulling off a good prank is always satisfying, and it's made even more amusing when Castiel spends the next five minutes melting blocks of ice over his sink with a blowtorch. He keeps looking at Dean, calculating, plotting, and it makes Dean wonder what he's got planned.
For the next while, they keep to themselves—Dean is constantly watching his back, but Novak seems to be ignoring him, for now.
It's only when he goes in search of his dough that he realises what Novak's game is. Because it's definitely not in the refrigerator any more.
"Novak!" He smacks his hands down on Castiel's countertop, who looks up at him with wide eyes from the vegetables he's chopping.
"How can I help you, Dean?"
His voice is innocent—too innocent. Dean points an accusatory finger at him. "You know exactly how," he growls. "Where's my dough?"
For a few seconds, Novak keeps up the innocent expression—and then it morphs into a wicked smile, and he shrugs his shoulders. "You seemed so keen on the cold earlier, and since you were so kind as to put some of my things in the freezer, I figured I'd repay the favour."
Dean stares at him.
He stares at him because it's one thing to freeze a bunch of spoons that can be easily thawed out, but it's quite another to fucking ruin something that someone has spent a good part of the day working on. "You'd better be joking," he warns, and something in the tone of his voice must tell Novak that he's genuinely pissed, because the smile on his face quickly disappears. He doesn't say anything.
"Son of a bitch!"
He runs to the freezer, and sure enough, his dough is sitting on one of the top shelves. When he pokes it, it's hard as a rock.
There go today's fucking donuts.
Dean carries his container of dough back out to the now-silent kitchen and places it on his countertop. For a good minute, he just looks at it, and he can feel Novak's eyes burning into the back of his head. Finally, he turns around and levels a finger at him.
"That was fucked up," he growls. "Thanks a lot, asshole, now I'm going to have to stay back tonight and make a new batch of dough so that I have something to fucking film with tomorrow."
Novak looks guilty as all hell, and when he opens his mouth to reply, Dean cuts him off with a sharp wave of his hand. "Don't. I don't want to fucking hear it. Just leave me alone. I won't touch any of your shit, you don't touch any of my shit."
They hold each other's gazes, staring each other down. Novak breaks first, looking down at his chopping board, and that's Dean's cue to turn away. He's got work to do today, after all—more work than he'd planned—and it's going to take every ounce of control that he has not to throttle the man behind him with his own fucking apron.
After that, then kitchen mostly returns to normal, with the exception of Dean. He snaps at anyone who comes near him, so his co-workers quickly learn to leave him alone. He's got a salad and a chicken dish still to make, after all, and then he's got to get some new dough ready to proof overnight, so he's really not fucking pleased with how today has turned out.
He tries to balance making his other recipes with the beginning steps of making a new dough, but by the time he's finished his chicken, it's knock-off time for everyone else in the kitchen. They all give him sympathetic looks as they pack up and make their way home, knowing that he's too stubborn to leave his projects until tomorrow to finish.
At least now he'll have the kitchen to himself, finally.
Or so he’d thought.
"I truly am sorry about your dough."
Dean whips around, his eyes wide. He'd been so sure that he'd been alone in the kitchen—Castiel had packed up his station, talked with the others like he was going home, but here he is, standing guiltily at the end of Dean's countertop. For a second, Dean opens and closes his mouth, and then sets his face into a scowl.
"I'm sure you're real sorry," he mutters, poking more aggressively at his leaven than he really should. "Why the hell are you still here? Just go home."
Novak makes a sound in the back of his throat, then takes a step closer. "I wanted to offer my assistance," he says quietly. "I'm good with sourdough bread, I... I can help."
And even if his offer is genuine, it pisses Dean off more than it rightfully should.
"Help?" he snaps, turning towards Novak. He steps forward until he's right up in Novak's personal space, jabbing his finger against his chest. "Fucking help? To what, fix the situation you created? Was that why you put my fucking dough in the freezer, huh? So you could swoop in and save the day? 'Oh, I'm Dean Winchester, I've never made a fucking bread dough in my life so I need the 'donut-master' to come help me.'"
He jabs Novak in the chest again, but this time Novak's hand comes up to grab his. There's a spark in his blue eyes, a hint of anger perhaps, and it's only now that Dean realises just how close they are. He's pretty much chest-to-chest with the man, the two of them almost breathing the same air, and Novak is backed up against the counter that runs along the edge of the kitchen.
They watch each other, Dean's chest heaving with the force of his angry breaths, and then—
And then Novak's mouth is on his, and all his anger and thoughts, both rational and irrational, fly out of the fucking window, because Castiel is kissing him.
He curls his fingers into the front of Castiel's shirt and pulls him closer, biting at his bottom lip. Their kiss is all clashing teeth and barely-bridled frustration—a fight, to see who will come out on top.
Novak wins when he does this wicked thing with his tongue that makes Dean's toes curl, and when he groans against his mouth, Novak takes that chance to spin them around so that it's Dean being pressed back against the counter. He draws breath to argue, but then Castiel's lips are kissing over his jaw, biting and sucking along his throat—hopefully not hard enough to leave any marks, although he’s pretty sure he’s out of luck there.
Dean opens his eyes just in time to see Cas sink to his knees in front of him, and holy shit, he can get on board with this. He can't remember the last time his dick has gotten so fucking hard so quickly.
"Tell me now if this isn't what you want," Novak rasps. His hands are warm and heavy against Dean's thighs, even through the fabric of his jeans, and Dean doesn't think he'd be able to say no even if he tried.
Not that he wants to say no. He can't count the number of times he's jerked himself off in the shower or late at night, thinking about plush lips and blue eyes belonging to a truly infuriating co-worker.
"Blow me," he growls, and Castiel lets out a single breathy laugh.
"If you insist," Castiel quips, and then his fingers are at Dean's fly, deftly undoing the button and working down the zipper. Dean can't quite believe that this is happening until Cas's fingers curl around his cock and pull him free from the confines of his boxers. He's hard and aching, and he groans under his breath as Novak runs his tongue over his bottom lip.
Castiel Novak is about to suck my dick, is all he has time to think before Novak shifts up on his knees, wraps his fingers loosely around the base of Dean's cock and takes him into his mouth.
As it turns out, those lips don't just look like they're made for sucking dick—they are made for sucking dick. Castiel's tongue teases over the head of his cock, flicking lightly over the slit, before he takes him further down, and fucking hell, Dean doesn't think he's going to be able to last. He threads his fingers into Castiel's hair and pulls, and the groans he receives vibrate all the way down his dick.
"Fuck," Dean gasps, and Castiel looks up at him, smirking as much as is possible with his mouth otherwise occupied. There's that spark in his eyes again, and it's so fucking hot, spurring Dean on.
He uses his grip on Novak's hair to pull him down further, until he's taken Dean in as far as he can possibly go. Even then, Castiel takes it like a champ, his throat relaxed even with his nose barely nudging against Dean's pelvis. It has to be up there with one of the hottest things he's ever seen. "Never thought you'd be this good," he gasps out, and Castiel seems to take that as a challenge.
Even though Dean's grip never relaxes in Castiel's hair, even though he pretends like he's the one fucking into Cas's mouth, they both know Castiel is the one in control. He blows Dean like a pro, curling his tongue perfectly against Dean’s sensitive skin and knowing exactly what to do to make Dean lose his goddamn mind. It's not long at all before Dean is dangerously close to blowing his load.
"Cas," he warns, tipping his head back and tugging at Castiel's hair for an entirely different reason now. "Cas, I—I'm gonna—"
He can feel it coming, in the heat that pools in his gut and the feeling of tension wiring across his whole body. If Cas doesn't want to get a mouthful of come, this is his last chance to pull off.
But he doesn't. Instead, he waits until Dean is looking back down at him, then pulls back so that the head of Dean's cock is resting on his tongue and hollows his cheeks around it.
And that's curtains for Dean.
He comes with a low moan that sounds suspiciously (embarrassingly) like Castiel's name. The sight of such a fantastically hot and well-renowned chef—someone famous for having such a refined palate that he's able to identify flavours no one else can—swallowing Dean's come like it's one of the best things he's ever tasted... That's a memory he won't quickly forget, that's for sure.
Dean holds onto Cas's hair until his orgasm has subsided, then relaxes his grip, letting his fingers run loosely through those dark strands. "Holy shit," he breathes, and Castiel grins as he lets Dean's cock slip out of his mouth. He licks his lips once more, then carefully tucks Dean back into his boxers—although he doesn't bother doing his fly back up.
"Was that an apology for freezing my dough?" Dean asks breathlessly as Castiel gets to his feet. "Because if so, I'll let you freeze it every fucking day. Goddamn."
Castiel chuckles, a low, warm rumble, and shakes his head. "That's just something I've been tempted to do for a very long time," he admits. "I froze your dough because honestly, I thought it was clear that it wasn't going to rise properly. I didn't mean for you to get so upset over it, or I wouldn't have done it."
Dean stares at him for a few long seconds, calculating. There's nothing but honesty in Castiel's eyes, and when Dean thinks back to his dough, it had seemed a little flat...
"I'm gonna trust that that's the truthful answer," he murmurs. "But you seriously couldn't have told me that before?"
Cas shrugs. "I tried. You wouldn't hear a word I had to say, so I figured it was best to leave it. My offer of help was genuine, though. I'm good with bread, and I've made sourdough donuts before. But if you want to work on it by yourself, I understand."
Dean remembers Cas trying to tell him something—and he also remembers putting his hand up to cut him off. Ah, shit. "Alright," he concedes, allowing himself a small smile. "I'll let you help. I'm not that proud that I can't concede defeat sometimes, and after a blowjob like that..." He blows out a breath, and smiles when Cas's eyes crinkle in amusement. "I can't really say no, can I?"
"No, you can't," Castiel agrees. He steps back, tipping his head towards where Dean's workstation is still set up. "Shall we get started on this dough so that we can actually make it home at a reasonable hour tonight?"
"Sounds like a plan," Dean concedes, following him over. There's still one thing playing on his mind, though, and he folds his arms with a grin as he watches Cas start setting up.
"Exactly how long have you wanted to fuck me for?"
Cas just looks over, shoots him a knowing smile and a wink, then returns his attention to the sourdough leaven.
The next morning, everyone is expecting things to still be tense. Dean had seemed pretty pissed off yesterday, after all, and it wouldn't be unlike him to be letting some of his residual anger carry over to the next day.
Instead, the kitchen is more relaxed than it's ever been. Dean and Castiel spend the morning working on the donuts, exchanging flirtations and teasing each other even in front of the camera. The other food editors gossip quietly with each other, speculating over what could have happened between them to make them this friendly all of a sudden.
When Charlie walks in on them making out in the pantry, she quietly backs out. There's no way she's going to interrupt, or reveal their whatever-it-is to the kitchen before they're ready.
And if she has a quiet word with Ash in the corner, who stares at her in disbelief and then reluctantly hands over a twenty dollar bill, well.
That's her business.