Dean didn’t like going down this neighborhood. It never made him any money, plus the block is a dead end, so he always ends up circling back around with his heavy cart. His Tio always yelled at him for it, wasting precious time in a block where nobody paid him any attention because these Americanos aren’t used to people walking around selling comida.
Pero Dean always had one customer that always came running out whenever Dean came around, and he was worth the extra minutes he had to petal in the hot sun.
Dean hears his name, expecting it but still feeling relief from hearing it. He looks ahead, his fingers stopped ringing the bells that have become background noise to him by now, and sees his favorite customer running out of the big white house Dean can only ever dream of renting. He wouldn’t ever dream of owning; he can’t have dreams so impossible.
Dean petals a little bit faster until he breaks in front of the pretty face he sees at least three times a week.
“Cas.” Dean practically beams at him even though he was trying to stay cool. Smooth. “Mi Angelito.” Dean winks, and he doesn’t miss Cas’s eyes widened and ears blushing at the nickname. “How you been?”
Cas was dressed in his usual white button-up and slacks but they looked a lot more ruffled up than usual. His hair looked unkempt as it curled at the ends—Dean wasn’t complaining he loved it—and his typical neat shirt was wrinkled with sleeves pulled up to his elbows. He looked the guy up and down before his eyebrows creased together.
“You okay, Cas?”
“Yeah.” Cas sighed, shoulders slumping as he reached to run his hand through his hair—that probably explains the bed head—before smiling back at Dean with a deep breath. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
“If you say so.” Dean jumps off the bike and walks over to his cart. “The usual?”
Dean nods once before getting to work on a raspado de vainilla for Cas. He works in silence for a minute, just the sound of the ice scraping between them before Dean looks back at Cas.
“You know, si quieres, you can talk to me.” Dean looks up to see Cas was already watching him. “I know I’m a nobody, but I hear nobodies are great to vent to.”
“You aren’t a nobody, Dean.” Cas’s expression softens at the words. His eyes brighten as he looks at Dean, almost as if he can see into his soul. Then, just as Dean was about to drown in those baby blues, Cas looked away. His fingers started to twitch as he looked sheepishly at the ground. “Plus, my problems are small. I can deal with them by myself.”
Dean looks away, packing the ice into the cup before reaching to pour the vainilla as he talks. “Yeah, I know you can, pero; I just wanted to let you know that you don’t have to.”
Cas is nothing but a customer that Dean has been crushing on—it was a small, slow, and scary realization. The only reason they’re on a first-name basis now is because Cas once left his name tag on, and Dean asked what it meant.
Dean handed Cas his raspado across the cart, Dean needed to keep his distance, but he knew when Cas reached for it, their fingers would touch; he looked forward to the simple touch each time.
They did, and Dean’s breath catches in his throat before he works on chicharrones, lots of limon, and a little bit of chile.
“But I get it, you know, if you don’t want to talk to me.” Dean looks up to see Cas still staring at him but with eyes filling with tears. “Holy shit.” Dean put the bag down and walked around to stand by Cas’s side. He grabbed a napkin from his cart and handed it to Cas to wipe his eyes. “Dude. Dude, please no llores. Don’t cry. People are gonna think I did something to you, and I’ll lose customers.” Dean tries to joke, but Cas doesn’t crack a smile. Instead, he rolls his eyes.
“Dean, nobody but me ever comes out here.”
Dean shrugs. “Potential customers then.” Dean grabs another napkin and reaches to wipe the tears that were already falling. “Estas bien, Angelito. Talk to me.”
“I-I shouldn’t.” Cas accepts Dean’s kindness for a second longer before gently moving Dean’s hand away. “You’re working. Let me just pay you so you can stop wasting your time here.”
Dean nods, stepping away from Cas so as not to seem pushy. As much as he loved being so close to Cas’s face, he didn’t want to seem creepy about it. This neighborhood has eyes everywhere, and Dean couldn’t really risk having his cart, his livelihood, be taken away just cause he has a small crush on the white boy.
So Cas gives him the exact change to the quarter and smiles sadly before he waves goodbye. Dean waves back as he gets on his bike to pedal out of this neighborhood and into a more comfortable one. He didn't ring the bell until he was out of there.
Cas doesn’t come out to see him the next day or the day after that, and now he has to wait until next week to see him. If Cas still wanted to see him.
“I don’t know why you still go over there,” Sam says as he helps Dean unpack the car.
Dean’s side gigs included selling his homemade food Friday through Sunday—he can almost call himself a caterer—while on Thursday, he preps during the day and works as a janitor in a big law office at night. Today was Thursday, so Dean had to wake up early to go to the big marketplace downtown. They sold the chicharrones de harina in bulk for cheap, and they had all the ingredients he’ll need to make the syrups for the raspados himself.
Sam rarely comes with Dean to get all these things since he was always busy with school, but today he came along on the day that Dean ran out of maiz azul. It just meant more trabajo para los dos.
“Or why you still sell raspados when you make more money on the weekend with your food.” Sam continued as they struggled to carry the bag of maiz to the kitchen. They both let out a heavy breath when they finally dropped the bag in the kitchen. Dean’s going to spend the next hour cleaning and soaking the damn corn after this. That doesn’t even include cooking it and finally making the damn masa.
“El trabajo es duro but I like it.” Dean pats Sam’s shoulder before they go back to the car to get the rest of the things. “I like going down neighborhoods and saying hi to people.”
“I get that pero why do you have to go to their side of town?”
Dean doesn’t know how to answer that.
He hasn’t told anyone about Cas. About how one day he was bored and wandered over to that neighborhood only to find Cas laying on his front lawn with a book covering his face. Dean, for some reason, couldn’t help but to ring the bells louder, startling Cas. Dean laughed for half a second before a book went flying to his face, knocking him off his bike. Cas learned too many cuss words in Spanish that day, but the big bruise was worth it.
Still, Dean didn’t want to tell anyone about Cas. Afraid to even speak of him because that would mean that his crush was real. That he had actual feelings, romantic ones, for another guy.
He knows que su Tío no lo va sacar de la casa pero todavía Dean tenía miedo. He was scared to admit this part of himself was real when it felt like a sin in his culture. ¡Ser gay es una cosa pero bisexual! ¡Ni madres! That doesn’t exist. Not where he is from.
So he’ll keep it to himself. Keep Cas as his secret fantasy and nothing more.
“The houses are nice to look at. One day, Sammy!” Sam was already groaning at Dean’s words that sounded more like an old man’s recurring ‘when I was your age’ stories. “One day, I’ll get us a house like that! One where we can each have our own room. And bathroom.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Let’s just finish this so I can go back to my homework.”
“¡Estas pendejo! After this, you’re gonna help me clean the bathroom and throw away the trash before Tio comes home.”
“¡Pero nada! ¡Piensas que soy pendejo como tu, pinche mamón! Don’t think I don’t know you spend that time babeando por tu novia.”
“Dean!” Sam quickly passes him in a huff of embarrassment while Dean laughed, following Sam back to the car to get more groceries.
When Monday rolls around, Dean forces himself to come down Cas’s street again. The bells rang softly at first, only getting louder as he came closer to the house. He didn’t see a car in sight, so he thinks maybe Cas isn’t home.
He was already pedaling away when he heard someone call out to him. He hits the breaks half haphazardly, and the gallons shake on his cart, threatening to fall out. He was about to turn around, but then he realizes he hears footsteps running closer, and then he hears heavy breathing by his ear.
“Fuck.” Cas hands rest on his knees as he tries to catch his breath. “Are you-are you trying to run away from me?” Cas looks up with a teasing smile, it was beautiful, and Dean didn’t realize how much he missed him until now. “I am your only customer around here, so that’s a pretty bad business decision if you ask me.”
“I-I didn’t think you wanted to see me.” Dean could have joked around with him, but instead, his mouth decided to kick the conversation off with some honesty. Dean looked down at the bike handles as he talked. “Since you didn’t come out last week, I just figured-”
“Oh.” Cas stood up straight as he ran a hand through his overgrown hair; his clothes looked neat again, though. “I didn’t mean to make you think-”
Dean holds his hand out to stop Cas from talking, feeling embarrassed with every word. “Para. You don’t have to explain. No me debes-you don’t owe me anything.”
“I know that, but I want to. Talk, I mean. If that’s okay with you.” Cas looks at Dean with soft, warm eyes, a drastic difference from the red-rimmed eyes from the last time they saw each other. “After you’re done with work, of course.”
“I um-I usually head home around six. I can um,” Dean rubbed at the back of his neck, not meeting Cas’s eyes as he carefully says. “I can come by after if you want.”
“I would like that.”
Dean's head shoots up to stare back at Cas, who looked shy, pero siempre más guapo que la última vez que Dean lo miró.
At that moment, Dean wanted to lean in and kiss him more than he has wanted to kiss anyone in his 26 years of life, but he won’t. He still wasn’t sure if this was Cas asking him out as a friend or as something more. He was scared, but he knew his heart raced in excitement more than anything.
Dean finally broke away from the staring contest as he cleared his throat to get off his bike. “Todavia quieres-Do you still want your raspado?”
It was silent while Dean made raspado, but he couldn’t wait for their fingers to graze again when he handed the cup over to Cas.
“Just the raspado today.” Dean still loved when Cas said it, trying not to laugh even though he loved Cas’s embarrassed blushing. Cas reaches into his pocket, but Dean reaches to touch his shoulder to stop him.
“On the house.” Dean holds it out and just like before their fingers touch, burning him.
“No, Dean, I couldn’t.”
Dean shakes his head to stop him from arguing any further. He jumped back on his bike and looked back at Cas as he said, “You can get me something later. Is seven okay?”
“Seven is…perfecto.” Cas flinched at his Spanish, but Dean couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Pues, te miro mas tarde, Angelito.” Dean reached to pat Cas’s cheek before he started pedaling away.
“Dean! I don’t know what that means!” Cas calls out to him.
Dean doesn’t turn around to respond, mostly to hide the stupid shit-eating grin he had on his face. “I said I’ll see you later!” But he does wave goodbye, ringing the bell as he goes.
Dean really liked him, and it brought fear into his heart pero al mismo tiempo; he hasn’t been this excited to just be around someone in such a long time. So maybe this is his time to accept that maybe, for sure, he is crushing hard on a guy.
Dean sighs as he stops on the sidewalk to hang his head and quietly whispers, “For fucks sakes, soy un pinche gay.”
Well, at least he can admit to himself—sort of.