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An Angel's Dinner

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Castiel used to be a Warrior of Heaven. Demons had trembled in terror at the sound of his name. He had flown into battle on wings of righteous fury and laid waste to heaven’s enemies. He had laid siege to hell itself and had been the only one of his brothers and sisters to reach, and save, the righteous man.

Castiel, former Angel of the Lord, absolutely refused to be beaten by ground beef.

He stood in the kitchen of the Men of Letters bunker, his trusty trench coat set aside, the sleeves of his button-down shirt rolled up, and his shoulders drawn up in tension as he squinted down at his hands in concentration.

Hands that had once cradled the most precious thing in all the multiverse—Dean Winchester’s soul—as Castiel had torn through innumerable squadrons of demons to fight his way out of hell. Hands that had woven and stitched the very molecules of Dean’s body back together before delicately suspending his soul safely within once more.

Hands that were apparently incapable of forming a god-forsaken hamburger patty.

Castiel grunted in frustration and threw the thrice-damned meat back into the mixing bowl in disgust.

How in holy heaven had Dean made this look so easy?

Dean had taken pity on Castiel and formed the first batch of burgers himself, and was now standing across the room frying them, humming absently, as Castiel tried to form the next batch.

The task that Dean had seemed to find so easy appeared to be completely beyond Castiel’s ability to accomplish.

He tried to pat the burgers into shape like Dean had shown him, but he always seemed to use either too much force—which caused the raw meat to ooze out between his fingers—or too little—which left the meat in a shapeless lump totally unsuitable for frying.

Castiel glared down at the offending meat and contemplated making a run for it while Dean’s back was turned. He could claim urgent business in heaven, he was sure.

He wasn’t accomplishing much more than making a mess by staying here and he had no idea why Dean had asked for his ‘help’ in the first place.

Dean almost always preferred to be alone when he was cooking, often shooing everyone else out of the kitchen so that he could work in peace.

But today, out of a clear blue sky, he had walked up to Castiel and offered to teach him how to make the hamburgers he so loved.

A small part of him had felt a little bit of hope when Dean had made the offer. Maybe Dean was finally ready to let their relationship go back to normal.

The two of them hadn’t discussed Castiel’s dying confession since his return, and he felt sure that Dean was trying to find a way to let him down easy.

Dean didn’t seem to be angry with him, or disgusted at his feelings, which had been a worry for Castiel.

Things between them had just been a bit… strained.

There were moments when Castiel could feel Dean’s gaze on him from across the room and could swear that he felt echoes of longing emanating from Dean’s direction even in his current powered-down state.

But then he would turn to look at Dean only to find that Dean was looking at something else and the feeling had vanished , leaving Castiel to wonder if he had simply imagined the whole thing.

Then there were moments where Dean would seem frustrated—Castiel was never sure if Dean was frustrated with himself or with Castiel—and he would snap and snarl at anyone who happened to be within striking distance.

It was… confusing.

But, if there was one thing that Castiel had learned after a decade of following the Winchesters around, it was that no power in heaven or on earth could make Dean talk about his feelings before he was damn good and ready.

Castiel was broken out of his thoughts when Dean turned away from the stove top to check on his progress.

Castiel froze, unsure what to expect from Dean when the hunter saw that Castiel had made no progress whatsoever.

He was surprised when Dean chuckled and shook his head at the mess in the bowl.

“Having a little trouble there, sunshine,” Dean asked lazily.

Castiel blinked.

That was new.

Dean had called him that before, of course, but usually only in the context of a morning greeting. Why on earth was Dean calling him that now?

Dean seemed to take Castiel’s silence as an affirmative answer and reached out to grab some of the offending beef.

Castiel sagged in relief that he wouldn’t have to wrestle with the stupid, squishy mess of it anymore. He was just about to turn and wash his hands in the sink, when Dean plopped the hunk of beef into Castiel’s hands and said, “Here, let me show you.”

Dean stood across from him and cradled Castiel’s hands in his own as he began to guide them through the process of forming the hamburger patty and Castiel tried to set aside his shock.

Castiel may have been incapable of forming hamburger patties to save his life, but one thing he had always been good at was paying attention to Dean.

He focused on the way Dean’s calloused hands pushed and pulled with just enough force to guide his own through the process of making a perfectly-formed hamburger.

“There, see? Not that hard…” Dean’s voice came out rough and stilted as he took the hamburger from Castiel and turned to place it with the others by the stove.

Dean moved over to wash his hands at the sink and Castiel took the opportunity to really look at him.

Castiel could feel his brow wrinkling in confusion. Why were Dean’s shoulders so tense?

Dean cleared his throat and turned back around with a grin that looked a little forced, staying where he was on the other side of the room as he suggested, “Now you try one.”

Castiel scooped up some of the ground beef hesitantly and began slowly and carefully patting it into shape.

There was a strange tension in the air now that Castiel couldn’t quite place. Was Dean angry with him for some reason?

Castiel glanced surreptitiously at Dean out of the corner of his eye and found that Dean was gripping the edge of the counter behind himself so hard his knuckles were going white.

Castiel blinked. Not angry then. Was Dean nervous?

Castiel wished, for at least the hundredth time since his return, that he still had the power to read Dean’s mind.

Not that he had made a habit of that even when he had had the power. Dean had been very clear that it was an invasion of privacy.

Still, Castiel would be lying if he said he had never been tempted. Castiel knew well enough that his own people skills were not the best and it was just so difficult to tell what Dean was thinking sometimes…

He gave a mental shrug, there was no point in debating whether he would use his mind-reading powers or not, as that wasn’t an option. He would just have to wait until Dean came out and told him what he was thinking, or decided to drop more obvious hints.

Castiel set aside his thoughts and focused on the hamburger patty taking shape in his hands. He was careful to apply just the right amount of pressure, just as Dean had shown him.

And it worked. Before long he had formed a perfectly acceptable hamburger patty. It wasn’t a very even thickness and not nearly as round as the ones Dean had made, but it was actually usable.

Castiel felt delight stretch his mouth into a wide grin as he looked up at Dean and said, “I did it!”

Dean stood across from Castiel, hands now unclenched from the counter and dangling limply at his sides as he stared mutely at Castiel’s face.

Castiel felt his grin slip a notch as he asked, “Dean, are you—”

Before Castiel could finish his question, Dean had crossed the distance between them in two long strides, gripped Castiel’s face in his hands, and plastered his lips to Castiel’s.

Castiel gasped in shock and confusion.

Half-formed thoughts fired randomly in his mind. What was— Why would he— How did—

Until Castiel’s brain jump-started again and he realized he didn’t actually care.

He leaned into the kiss and poured out all of the love and affection that he had never been able to show Dean in the decade that they had known each other.

They pulled away to breathe some minutes later, staying close enough to share each other’s breath, Dean seeming as reluctant as Castiel to lose this new-found closeness.

Castiel cleared his throat lightly and opened his mouth to speak. The only question that managed to make its way through the warm, buzzing tingle in his chest was, “Why?”

Dean brushed his knuckles down Castiel’s cheek and said, simply, “Wanted to do that for a long time. Never thought I could.”

Castiel scoffed lightly at that before leaning in for another kiss.

They broke apart again several minutes later when the acrid smell of smoke broke through their love-clouded daze.

Dean jumped across to turn off the stove and move the blackened burger pan to the sink. He turned back toward Castiel with a sheepish grin on face but then looked down and burst out laughing.

Castiel glanced down in confusion to find that his hands were coated in raw beef, having subconsciously crushed the hamburger while he was focused on… other things.

Castiel looked from his own messy hands to the pan smoking and sizzling quietly in the sink and couldn’t help joining in with Dean’s infectious laughter.

He helped Dean clean up and, before Dean could suggest they try another batch, he pulled Dean in close enough to kiss once more.

After all, Castiel thought, pizza would do just as well for dinner.