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The Things We Hide (Teach Me)

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Castiel sighed softly as he steeled, readying himself to turn the essay over and reveal his score. He had worked so hard on this one, just like all the others, had gone through so many drafts. Seven fucking drafts this time, all saved on his shitty little laptop at home. He hoped to god he had finally gotten a good score, that he wouldn’t be mocked or punished for having some issues in his classes, only one class honestly. English.  He couldn’t go home with anything lower than a B, not again. And he couldn’t disappoint his dad, even the thought made him terrified.

As he flipped it over he felt his heart drop into his feet as he saw the cruel shape of a ‘C’ scribbled in red felt-tip, circled sloppily at the top right corner. He couldn’t believe it. No, no, no, fuck no , was all he could think. The words he’d been lectured with the previous Wednesday night repeated through his mind. “Castiel,” his father had said, “You know what these bad grades mean. Anything lower than a ‘B’ in English by the end of next week means you aren’t going to be able to ‘hang out’ with friends anymore. You’ll get home from school, and you will start on your homework. You will not go out, you will not have extracurricular activities, and your only social interaction outside of school will be your tutoring.” God he didn’t want to be tutored. It shouldn’t matter that he had gotten a ‘C’ so much but to his dad it did. It wasn’t fair, but he realised life wasn’t either as he packed up his bag, getting ready to leave as he heard the bell ring loudly, interrupting his thoughts.

“Castiel, I was hoping to speak with you, do you have a moment?” His teacher called as Castiel walked for the door, hoping to just sneak out and let his father enact the punishment, hoping to let him just lay it all on the table, so to speak.. Again he felt his heart travel places lower than it should be as he waited, head drooping on his shoulders. Once all the other students were gone, his teacher turned to him and began to speak.

“Your father contacted me yesterday via email and told me that you may need a tutor to help you catch up in my class and get where he feels you need to be. You are a very bright child, Castiel. You are also very creative. I just wish for you to be able to express those ideas clearly in a proper form and part of that is often by formal essay. This is the number of your tutor, his name is Dean. He is very kind and brilliant, with a great amount of creativity, just like you. He is also a very good teacher and will be very helpful in improving your communication. You just need contact him to schedule an appointment as I have worked everything else out with your father.” Mr. Lafitte spieled, handing Castiel a slip of paper with ‘Dean’ in a short utilitarian script with a telephone number just below it.

His chest tightened again and it felt like he was wearing a too-small binder, slowly bruising his skin and ribs and he started to panic. Castiel didn’t care who this ‘Dean” was, the sheer fact that this was actually happening to him that took the breath out of his lungs. It took him a couple more second of breathing easily to remember his flat chest and the scars that were there to prove it. Sometimes when anything got bad enough it took him minutes to realize he didn’t need a binder anymore and it was just his emotions closing the space in his chest. He focused on breathing rhythmically, and since the bell had long since rung signalling the end of the day, the other kids had already cleared out, leaving the school practically empty. He didn’t want to go home and face his father, not yet. He needed some time to compose himself and get rid of the dregs of anxiety still clinging to him. He could go to the track and run, that always helped his to stop worrying for a little while. Yeah. That’s what he would do.

The grassy field and surrounding asphalt 400 meter track was deserted when Castiel got down the sloping cement steps of the stadium that came up on the side toward the school. Since the school was on a hill they had built the seating into the side, creating a perfect view of the field. Cas stepped up onto the blacktop that shimmered with the heat, doing a couple quick stretches to loosen up. He lifted his head and gazed at the school, a large but modest mass of faded red brick and glass configured to maximize efficiency while at least attempting at inviting. He didn’t hate the school with its shining linoleum and beige painted walls, it was the people inside it that sometimes set Castiel’s nerves on edge. He shook of his reverie and looked at the track, enjoying the feeling of inhaling without constriction before starting off on his run for the day.

Castiel was on his fourth lap when the soccer team came out of the locker rooms, he heard the heavy metal side door of the gym before he could actually see them heading down the steps and into the field for practice. He enjoyed being able to watch them run drills, although today he was preoccupied. What ‘Dean’ would be tutoring him? He knew of Dean Winchester, but he was a Jock, capital J. He could have any girl, or guy for that matter, he wanted, he had the muscles, the friends, popularity, the sass even, but essay writing? And poor little Castiel was a nobody at his high school, was invisible enough that he wasn’t known for anything really. It was nice sometimes, but at the same time got under his skin. Why couldn’t everyone be recognised for who they were, positively and kindly, rather than in such a negative way sometimes. Like how the people at the bottom of the ‘social ladder’ always got stuck with negative connotations while popular people got all the good ones attached to their reputation. Why does there have to be so much prejudice everywhere right now? We're all practically the same!  he thought, chewing on his lip as he stopped at where he left his water bottle to one side of the field, and just observing the team for a moment.

It was amazing to watch the elaborate formations The Hunters (that was their name, after the school’s mascot) would make so quickly at Mr. Singer’s instruction, kicking the ball so gracefully and powerfully... Not to mention the way the shorts would cling sometimes and the fact that they usually played shirts against skins (like right now). Goddamn, the way Winchester looked all sweaty and just sunkissed, shadows and highlights playing on his skin as he ran, muscles just obvious enough to be sinful. God, how he wanted Dean- he was so beautiful, unfairly so really, and he acted like he didn’t know it. He acted like he was just ‘average,’ whatever that meant. Castiel shook his head as if physically shaking off the thoughts and kicked back into gear, running longer, harder, until his lungs were dry and he could feel his heartbeat in his face, and he forgot about his previous train of thought.

He ran three more laps like that, totalling seven, almost two miles. That would be enough. Finally taking one last walking lap with his water in hand. He was a bit shaky, he didn’t run like that normally and though he felt amazing now, he knew he needed to be more careful in the future if he was really going to run that marathon he’d been planning. He needed to pace his runs better, make sure he was conserving enough energy to get to the end of those 26 grueling miles. After he was done running, Castiel decided to just grab his backpack and leave the school, resolving to shower at home. He couldn’t be caught with his fly down in the locker room, he knew he’d be ridiculed and he was terrified of the bullying that he could face if someone found out about him, about his… past, everything.

Once at home, showered and dressed in some old sweats and a soft tee shirt, Castiel decided to call Dean. He knew of at least three Deans at his school: Winchester, and two others he didn’t know the last names of, one of which was in his english class.. He couldn’t be the tutor, no, he’d never gotten very good grades. It was a 50-50 chance between Winchester and the other kid and that terrified Castiel, his crush tutoring him? His tall, muscled, sexy, and apparently fucking brilliant crush tutoring him, small Castiel who wore a trenchcoat when it was cold out, who wore at least a tee shirt no matter how hot it was (this was mostly still to protect his scars), who wasn’t anything special, couldn’t even write a proper essay, for fuck’s sake. He couldn’t believe this was happening and really wasn’t excited to find out if it was him or not.

He decided making a sandwich was the best course of action for dinner, as he was horrid at cooking and could probably somehow burn cereal. Sandwiches were easy, just layers of ingredients atop a bottom piece of bread and under a top. He contemplated how he would open the conversation when he texted as he ate, worrying that he would come off sounding snooty or like an asshole. He really couldn’t do that when Dean was pretty much re-teaching this and past semesters to him, teaching him how to write an essay for god’s sakes.

After he finished his meal, he began drafting the message. Would “Hello, this is Castiel. I suppose you are my tutor for English and need to schedule an appointment?” Should he say ‘would like to’ instead of ‘need to’? That did sound slightly better. This was terrifying, just trying to settle on a text message. “Hello, I’m Castiel. This is Dean, correct?”  was the message he settled on, deciding not to mention the tutoring until he knew who it was- he didn’t right now, anyway, and that sucked a lot.

Later in the evening, Castiel was typing furiously at his laptop in the front room when the front door opened, startling him. His father was home, and Mr. Lafitte had almost definitely contacted him about the grades.

“Hello, Castiel. Your teacher contacted me..” His father began, and Castiel stopped listening. He didn’t want to pay attention to the verbal beating that he knew was coming. “So, as long as you have the grade up in a month, you may resume all activities you are grounded from currently. You will still continue being tutored by Mr. Lafitte’s recommendation, and this will continue until  Mr. Lafitte sees that you have improved and that you can do the work on your own just as productively as with the tutor’s help.” His father finished, walking to the kitchen to make something for dinner. Castiel was pleasantly surprised with the lack of hurtful words, the lack of any sort of bullying that he was usually subjected to during conversations like this. He found the ‘punishment’ pretty fair, as he didn’t hang out with Charlie, his best friend, too often anyway and the only other thing he would be cut from was running at school, but he could just run elsewhere instead, maybe the neighborhood.

Castiel gave a single, resigned, “Yes, father. I feel this is reasonable.” He then wandered to his room, taking his laptop and trying to just make his writing better. He felt like there wasn’t anything left to change, he’d combed this essay four times already. This was where he remembered. Dean. He decided to check for a reply (again) to his earlier text. If he could just start the tutoring session as soon as possible, he could get his grades up, get them steady, and stop being tutored. It was embarrassing, even just the concept. He had always done fine, always been a good student, but now his essays were falling short and he had no clue what to do, how to fix it.  

A notification startled him out of the reverie, his cellphone’s flashlight flashing for a second or two, telling him he had a text. “ Yeah, this is Dean,” was all it said, causing him to roll his eyes and take a breath. Well, that didn’t help him at all. Hah.

“Dean… Who?”

“Oh Sorry, I thought you knew. This is Dean Winchester. Mr. Lafitte was supposed to tell you that I’ll be tutoring you for his class? I thought he did.” Well fuck. Depending on how he looked at it, this was either playing out as wonderfully as it could, or as horribly as it could. This terrified Castiel, there were so many ways this could play out. Too many.

“Oh. He didn’t tell me who, just gave me a slip of paper with a telephone number and ‘Dean’ written on it, and since there are three Dean’s in our year alone, I figured it could be any of you. Um. Do you think we could schedule a tutoring appointment for as soon as possible? I need help on a current essay.” Castiel typed out, nervous and terrified because this is Dean Winchester, and he was practically perfect, he was the Prom King, he was their team captain.

“Woah, woah Castiel. No need to text me an essay right now, we haven’t even started. ;) And about the appointment… yeah of course we can if you want. Does tomorrow work for you?” Castiel gaped at the flirty message, blue eyes bugged out as he grumbled to himself before he texted back.

“Tomorrow is perfect, time and place?” Castiel texted back, just deciding to follow Dean’s lead on this. He didn’t have the energy to fight, and really, Dean was the one being courteous and kind enough to even bother tutoring him, so why not?

“How about I drive you. I’ve got the perfect place in mind.” Could Dean be any less specific?

“Where is this ‘perfect place’?” He really needed to know. He wasn’t about to just get in Dean’s car and be taken god-knew-where for god-knew-what.

“Uh, it’s a surprise, you’ll just have to see.”

“I can’t say I particularly enjoy getting into cars with strangers without knowing where we are going...”

“Oh come on Cas, where is the fun in that? Live a little.” At the nickname, Cas felt himself soften like room-temperature butter, chewing briefly on his lip before typing out his response. What was he getting himself into?

“Fine, Dean. Do you have practice tomorrow? If so, I could just finish my run late and go to this ‘perfect place’ with you afterwards.” Of course, Castiel knew there was practice. His running schedule and the Hunter’s schedule lined up now, and he had a feeling Dean knew that they did, too.

“Yeah, I do actually. That’ll work. As long as you hit the showers because I’m not having anyone stink up Baby.” Cas was flustered at the use of the apparent nickname ‘Baby’ and he really hoped Dean was referencing the sleek black car he drove to and from school every day but Wednesday.

“I can manage that. I am going to go to bed. Goodnight, Dean.”

“Alright, awesome. Night Cas. See ya tomorrow.”