Fic: "In the Weeds: Part 3" [Dean/Cas, AU - NC-17]

Oct. 30th, 2011 | 06:58 pm
From:: nanoochka


TITLE: In the Weeds - Part 3
AUTHOR: [livejournal.com profile] nanoochka
ARTIST: [livejournal.com profile] daggomus_prime
PAIRING(S): Dean/Cas, references to Sam/Ruby
RATING: NC-17




"In the Weeds - Part 3" by [livejournal.com profile] nanoochka




        Wiry though he might be, Castiel must have somehow found a way to move Dean out of the kitchen after he blacked out, since he woke up nestled comfortably on a bed with the sheets and duvet thrown over him. Also, it was morning.

        Dean immediately sat up and rubbed at his eyes, in case they deceived him, but all that did was make his vision more blurry, giving the orange sunrise beyond the bedroom curtains an impressionistic quality. Looking around, a glance at a clock he found on the bedside table confirmed the time was 8:12 AM. If anything, the one thing Dean didn’t question was whether or not last night had actually happened; the only person he could think of whose bedroom could be this nice was Castiel, and there was an ache in his ass that definitely didn’t come from too much time spent on the stationary bike. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but neither of those things made Dean feel good about having passed out and, apparently, stayed that way for almost six hours.

        Much like the rest of the house, the bedroom was inviting and pristinely kept, if a little on the Spartan side. The walls were a relaxing shade of dark grey that complimented the white trim and voluminous drapes on the windows, the large bed with its ample headboard padded in dark velvet. The décor felt more like the inside of hotel than a real person’s home, but then Dean remembered what Castiel had said about wanting to sell the house. He supposed the anonymous look was a lot more attractive to prospective buyers than a bedroom that still looked like it belonged to someone else, a bed where an outsider could still picture the current residents making love.

        He was in the process deliberating whether to get up and go downstairs—or was it upstairs? He hadn’t gotten the tour—when Castiel pushed open the bedroom door and carried in a wooden breakfast tray laden with food. His eyes immediately sought out Dean and a quiet smile graced his features. His hair was so violently ruffled it gave him the appearance of being fully clothed, though Dean belatedly realized Cas hadn’t bothered to dress himself in more than a pair of olive-green boxer briefs. He looked young and vulnerable and charming, not at all the imposing deity who stalked the Chapter kitchens; Dean had no problem remembering why he’d wanted to seduce the guy in the first place. Rather, it seemed more difficult to forget this fact. The scrap Castiel was trying to pass off as underwear clung so effectively to his hips and legs and ass that Dean’s cock made an insistent bid for attention. He shifted around to hide it when a hard twitch made the sheet jump.

        Castiel generously let it escape mention, though his lips curled with what Dean could only qualify as sly delight. “Oh, good, you’re up,” he said wryly, and padded across the room to set the tray down on the upholstered bench at the foot of the bed. Still smiling that enigmatic smile—Christ, Dean thought, was Cas being shy?—he added, “I was beginning to grow worried I might have left you with some form of permanent brain damage.”

        Although he blushed, Dean attempted to mask his embarrassment with a cough, shimmying a bit further up out of the bedclothes so he could sit against the headboard. He was pretty naked under there and already feeling exposed, and Castiel’s weird sense of humour, however unintentionally, was ill-timed. “Uh, yeah. Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to…” He trailed off.

        “Fall unconscious in the middle of my kitchen?” Cas waved it off like it happened all the time. He walked over to sit on the edge of the bed, next to Dean. A moment later he reached out and brushed his knuckles over Dean’s cheek. “Not at all,” he murmured. “I decided it could be interpreted as a compliment. It’s never happened to me before.”

        “That makes two of us,” Dean grunted, still feeling how hot his face was. God, he wanted to bury himself back under the covers, and was immediately annoyed with himself all over again. It might have made him more gruff than normal. “How the hell did you even get me up here?”

        “Don’t you remember?” A quiet chuckle huffed out from Castiel’s nose. “You were fairly out of it, but I was able to coax you up the stairs and into bed. After that you woke up a couple times in the night, but mostly slept.”

        No, Dean didn’t remember any of that at all. More than just being mortified at having passed out, Dean was cursing himself for putting Castiel in a position to put him up for the night. As a rule, Dean hooked up and got the hell out of Dodge after; he didn’t stick around for post-coital cuddling, and certainly not breakfast the next day. He wondered how long Cas had spent hoping Dean would wake up and hit the road like a normal person, before he finally gave up and went to make breakfast. “Well, thanks for not just leaving me there,” Dean eventually muttered.

        Cas gave him a funny look. “Why on Earth would I just leave you there?” he fired back, head tilted in that way he had. Dean shrugged, looking down at his hands. Apparently that was enough to get Castiel off the subject and onto something else. “I fixed some breakfast. Thought you might be hungry.”

        “How come you’re not at work?” asked Dean. He knew the executive chefs all got to the restaurant before dawn so they could hit the markets and select produce for the coming day. Chef Lewis often said nothing quite woke him up in the morning like haggling over a crate of shrimp with a fishmonger who spoke more Polish than English, accounting for reason #5,830,582 Dean would never become a chef. He preferred to deal with the annoying folks on the other side of the kitchen, thanks. Supposedly these exchanges with the various vendors were always good-natured, but Dean didn’t think he ever had it in him to be an effective negotiator before the sun was up. That wasn’t even the hard part. The chefs then got to work starting soups or whatever else needed to be prepared ahead of time and designing that day’s specials, and often didn’t make it home until the restaurant closed some fourteen hours later. When he put it that way, Dean wouldn’t have been surprised to find out Castiel was hiding from his duties, since that’s what Dean would have done. He lazily wondered if he could call in sick today, too.

        “Day off,” Cas answered, dashing Dean’s hopes for the camaraderie of a day spent playing hooky. He absolutely hadn’t gotten to the part where he and Cas did nothing except stay under the covers and sleep and talk and fuck. “Lucky for you, I suppose, or else I would have had to dump your unconscious body in the street.” At Dean’s blink, he added, “That was a joke.”

        Castiel got to his feet and retrieved the tray from the foot of the bed, settling it next to Dean on the mattress before stretching out on the other side to watch, which was kind of creepy but oddly enough not uncomfortable. Dean looked down at the tray. There was a plate heaped with a generous serving of eggs, scrambled with heavy cream from the looks of it, fried peameal bacon and tomatoes, new potatoes tossed with rosemary and sage, and toasted baguette. There was also orange juice Dean was pretty sure was fresh-squeezed, and a ceramic pot of steaming coffee.

        At first he hesitated, inexplicably torn despite the rumbling in his stomach, but when Castiel’s gaze turned confused, clearly wondering what Dean was waiting for, Dean reached for the plate. It was then he realized there wasn’t another one on the tray.

        “Where’s yours?” he asked dumbly. He’d heard of some pretty kinky stuff in his day, and it wouldn’t really surprise him to find out the chef had some weird kind of fetish where he liked to watch sexual partners eat, but Dean hoped this wasn’t that. Whatever it was, the idea of stuffing his face while Castiel just lay there weirded him out more than a little. Ruby’s words about social awkwardness came swimming back to him.

        “Ah. I don’t typically eat much in the mornings,” Cas answered. As if sensing the direction of Dean’s thoughts, he turned his shoulders so he was leaning back against the headboard in a mirror of Dean’s position, body long and beautiful and relaxed. “It’s remarkably easy to forget to eat when you’re busy, even in the middle of a kitchen. By this hour I’m usually elbow-deep in a chicken carcass.”

        Despite the pleasant mental image, that made a bit more sense. “Still, you didn’t have to do this,” Dean told him. He picked up a piece of toast and nibbled at it with far more daintiness than he could remember ever having applied to a meal. Most of the time he ate like a horse that’d been starved for a few days, much to the chagrin of Jo, Ruby and of course Sam, at least when he was actually around to watch Dean’s appetite in action. It was a thing to behold. Truth be told, Dean was kind of expecting the feast before him to be snatched away at any second, like Oliver in the workhouse instead of a guest in his own boss’s house. Another, smaller part of him wondered how quickly Cas would kick him out once he stopped eating.

        And there was still the whole thing where Castiel was his boss and Dean had potentially screwed the pooch. Though he hadn’t really forgotten, Dean’s brain supplied a renewed sense of urgency over the matter that seemed to have escaped him while he was having the good sense fucked out of him. And Christ, how Castiel had fucked him. The shiver of arousal almost edged out the dread growing in his stomach. He was Dean Winchester, goddamn it. He didn’t do nervous, he didn’t do bashful. He’d come to Ireland to get his fuck on, and suddenly he was acting like a blushing virgin? Nuts to that. Dean set the toast down and reached for the coffee instead. Maybe he just needed wake up some more.

        The coffee was so good that Dean made a sound of pleasure. He was willing to bet that had been ground fresh, too. “No way am I worth this much trouble,” he muttered, feeling so inexplicably uncomfortable by the gesture that he half-wanted to crawl out of his own skin, which suddenly felt too small for his body. If he didn’t think Dean was a psycho already, Cas definitely would now. Dean swallowed and tried to get himself under control by taking a couple deep breaths.

        Unfortunately, Cas noticed his skittishness. A frown split his features in a manner that, Dean was fair to say, gave him far less pleasure than seeing Castiel smile. “Why do you keep saying that? I invited you here.” Cas hesitated, a brief, uncertain pause that shone through in the sudden glassiness of those huge seawater eyes. He met Dean’s gaze for a moment only before his own skittered away. “I wanted you here.” His hand came down to press against the bedspread, and his voice was ragged when he clarified, “Right here.”

        Fuck it, thought Dean, refusing to pussy out to the unexpected clench in his gut. Time to get this goat rodeo back on track, back onto safer ground that didn’t leave Dean feeling so totally out of his depth, so totally like last night. He grabbed the handles on either side of the breakfast tray and hauled the whole thing down onto the floor with only a slight wobble of the glass of orange juice and the coffee cup. When it was safely out of jostling distance, he kicked the sheet back and flung himself at Cas, reaching blindly for the other man’s shoulders so he could settle himself astride Castiel’s lap.

        “Right here?” Dean echoed smartly. “That where you want me?”

        Suppressing not even a gasp of his own when he ground his hips down, he felt Castiel’s hands go to his waist, fingers tickling unconsciously up his ribs as Cas started to harden beneath him. At least Dean knew the little bastard wasn’t feeding him a line about wanting this. But then, that had never really been the problem, feeling wanted. The problem was everything that came after, or lack thereof—what happened when Dean saw Castiel at work and the chef barely acknowledged his existence, or some pretty new server managed to turn his head just like Dean had. Maybe they wouldn’t even have to go through the same song and dance of pretending to hate each other for weeks before they fell into bed together, before they woke up to world-class breakfast smells from the kitchen. With a growl, Dean pushed his fingers into that dark explosion of hair a bit more roughly than he knew was necessary, jerked the face up for a hard crush of lips. This he could do. This Dean knew just how to handle.

        Hands slid up his back, digging into naked shoulder blade, and Cas returned the kiss with a surprised but uninhibited moan; Dean readily opened his mouth for the slick tongue that fucked inside to slither against his teeth and lick at his lips. Pressing down on his back to bring Dean closer, Cas arched his pelvis, lining up chests, bellies, cocks just perfect for skin to slide against skin, for Dean to hump into the cloth-covered mound of Castiel’s erection until they both were panting and starting to sweat.

        “Fuck, you’re hot,” Dean hissed against his mouth, a sentiment Castiel returned with a greedy bite at his lips. “I can’t believe how hot.”

        He thought about how good it felt to have the chef’s attention, to coax out his smiles and quiet admissions of weakness; to see him ruffled and wanting like this, unselfconsciously sexy but still weirdly reticent like this wasn’t a part of his regular repertoire. The breakfast, a gesture which Dean himself had attempted for none but his little brother, for whom he’d do anything, and a couple romantic prospects he’d really liked. But Dean knew better than that, since it was exactly like Ruby said—hot chef, hot career, Cas got his pick of the various subordinates in whichever restaurant he happened to work, probably made himself a tidy side career in fucking whomever he wanted with no regrets. Something sharp churned in Dean’s stomach at that, made him want to remind Cas what he was here for as much as he needed to remind himself.

        While Castiel’s lips dragged down the side of Dean’s neck to suck at the pulse point in his throat, Dean swallowed his gasp and squeezed his eyes shut tight, forced his tone into something approaching the right shade of cocky. He didn’t even know why the fuck he was talking, would have been better to just shut up and let things happen, but the words came tumbling up out of him like a geyser. “You give this kind of treatment to all the restaurant staff you bring home with you, huh?” he asked, voice husky. “Must be a nice perk to have so many people dying to get you into bed like this. Give them something to remember.”

        With an abruptness that seemed to leave the impression of an audible ‘pop’, Castiel pulled away to stare at Dean. He was breathing hard, lips swollen red to even more impossible plumpness. “What did you say?”

        Dean wavered at the tone of alarm but plastered a careless look across his face, dipping his head to try and kiss Castiel again and move the fuck on from this topic. He got it; he’d never should have piped up. If Cas wasn’t a kiss-and-tell kind of guy, Dean could happily go back to their grinding. The attempt was unsuccessful. “Jesus, what?”

        “You think I routinely do... this?” Castiel asked, voice taking on an edge. He made to push Dean away a little, and when Dean didn’t budge, he shoved hard enough that Dean bodily tumbled back against the bed.

        “What the fuck?”

        Though it might currently be up for debate, Dean wasn’t stupid; obviously Cas was none too impressed with whatever it was Dean had implied—more than implied—in a brief moment of insecurity, insensitivity or, fuck, insanity. Whatever the hell had come over him thirty seconds ago. Dean was not that guy. He didn’t confuse sex with emotion and had wanted to make sure everyone present remembered that. But his cheeks still burned, awareness that he’d misspoke making him defensive and angry and ashamed.

        “Oh, come on,” he scoffed at Cas, gesturing at nothing. “It’s the same in every other goddamned restaurant, with every other goddamned chef worth his weight in salt. You’re honestly trying to tell me you don’t take advantage of all the men and women who fucking throw themselves at you on a regular basis? What the fuck ever.” Dean made an ugly noise he assumed was the sound of his own bullshit trying to force itself back down the way it’d come. “I’m just surprised you give them the royal treatment afterwards instead of booting them to the curb.” Instead of booting me to the curb, he corrected silently. He suspected that was about to change.

        “Dean, I—” A high, prominent flush stained Castiel’s cheeks, and he looked somewhat comical with his mouth opening and closing for a few seconds like a fish. Dean couldn’t begin to guess what kind of tirade he was about to launch into, no doubt some stupid lecture about how he should know better than to talk about what went on behind the curtain at work, because yeah—Cas wasn’t the first chef Dean’d met who liked to pretend he didn’t reap the benefits of success and growing fame. Just give him a Food Network series and it would be out of control, baby Bobby Flay in the making. None of that came, though. Castiel just swallowed and blinked at him for a moment before his expression shut down like a metal gate slamming shut. “Get out.”

        Dean started. “What?”

        “I hardly think I need to repeat myself,” Cas said, his deep baritone starting to approach the range of truly fucking scary, but an arm lifted so he could point in the direction of the bedroom door. It was like something out of a shitty daytime drama or Coronation Street, but the message was clear enough and probably couldn’t be expressed any other way, not unless he decided to throw Dean out the window.

        “Cas, give me a break—” Dean started to say, but he was cut off by Cas rolling up off the bed and striding over to the door of the ensuite bathroom, fingers driving through his hair and working it into an even bigger frenzy. For a frantic second Dean searched his face for something more betraying than the sharp gaze and those lips pressed into a thin, bloodless line, but there was nothing there but hardness and ice. Exactly the same as the Castiel had met that first day at Chapter.

        “I told you not to fucking call me that,” he snapped, then pointed again to the exit as he started to withdraw into the darkened lavatory. “Get out of my fucking sight, I mean it—I want you gone now. Take your shite with you.” Once again Castiel looked like he wanted to say something else, his brow furrowed as if turning something over and over in his head. “This was such a bloody mistake,” he said eventually. His mouth twisted unpleasantly before the bathroom door slammed shut enough to rattle the frame.

        Several long minutes ticked by as Dean stared at the door, stared and stared and stared despite the silence from within. It was clear Castiel had no intention of coming out until he was sure Dean was gone. Swallowing, Dean crawled off the bed, careful not to knock over the breakfast tray of food that had gone cold by now, and silently gathered up the clothing he saw Castiel had thoughtfully folded and placed on a chair in the room. He allowed himself one moment—just one—as he sat back down to slide his jeans up his legs, burying his face in his hands and repressing the urge to scream.

        He was so fucking canned.


+


        “Are you freaking insane?”

        Sometimes, when Sam was agitated enough, Dean swore to God his voice could reach a register and decibel level audible only to dogs. It’d been the same ever since they were kids. In addition to the face Dean knew Sam was making—nose crinkled, mouth downturned like he’d just eaten something unpleasant—he imagined every canine in Oxford perking up to howl in mournful commiseration with Sam’s outrage. The mental image made him smile, and apparently Sam was not only a genius, but psychic, since the next thing out of his mouth was, “Dean, this isn’t funny! You could get deported!”

        Unable to help himself, and knowing Sam could probably sense him doing it, too, Dean rolled his eyes. “Come on, Sammy,” he sighed. “Don’t be so dramatic. Even if I do end up getting shit-canned over this misunderstanding, which I might not—” even saying so, Dean knew this was a big if, “—I won’t have a hard time finding other work in Dublin. That’s the beauty of the restaurant industry: there’s always someone out there looking for experienced servers.”

        To prove his point, Dean flipped to the next page in the classified section of The Irish Times, noisily, so that Sam would be sure to hear, and used his red marker to circle yet another help-wanted advertisement with deliberate slowness. The paper was riddled with them, and Dean had spent most of his day off preparing for the inevitable confrontation that would happen the next time he and Castiel were at work together. After getting kicked out of Cas’s house the previous day, Dean had gone to work without incident; there’d been no phone calls this morning or any frantic texts from Crowley, either, so he figured Castiel had yet to apply the thumbscrews on Martin and Chef Lewis to get rid of him immediately. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t still spring it on him tomorrow when he showed up to work, though. Dean felt better being prepared to bail out at a moment’s notice if necessary. The rest of it he was doing a much better job of not thinking about, since he suspected lingering too long on the betrayal he’d seen on Castiel’s face would take him down a far more unpleasant road.

        On the other end of the line, Sam made a slightly strangled sound Dean knew would precede a lecture. It was the same every time. Dean fucked up and ran his mouth off, and Sammy was there to not-so-politely relieve him of his misconceptions and call Dean an idiot after. “That isn’t how it works, Dean,” he explained, sounding harried and on edge even though he wasn’t the one facing possible termination of employment. “One of the conditions of your work permit is you can’t legally change jobs within the first year, not unless you’re made redundant or the business goes under. Obviously that doesn’t apply in this case. If you quit or get fired, you’re toast. They’ll find out and send your ass home before you can say sláinte.”

        Dean’s snarky retort was prevented by the sound of someone coming up the stairs of the house, footsteps a bit too quick and light to be Crowley—he turned his head and saw Jo enter the living room with a small wave and a smile when she saw the mobile phone pressed to his ear. He nodded at her in greeting and then said to Sam, “Jo’s here.”

        “Oh, good,” Sam answered wryly.

        He and Jo got along too well sometimes, and Dean had to admit that, most days, he wished she was the one Sam was interested in instead of Ruby. Jo was the kind of girl Sam could bring home to meet the family without wondering whether she’d get drunk with Uncle Bobby after the pie was served. Belatedly, Dean admitted that, while his father probably would have immediately distrusted Castiel just by virtue of being foreign and in a “frou-frou” niche like the culinary industry, Uncle Bobby would have liked the chef’s no-bullshit approach to life, and Sam Castiel’s skill and expertise in his chosen field. But that was so totally not the fucking point.

        “Maybe she can talk some sense into that thick skull of yours,” suggested Sam, who had already gone so far as to imply that Castiel was perfectly in the right to kick Dean out on the grounds that Dean was a moron. “That is, if she doesn’t already think you’re a Class-A retard for pissing where you eat.”

        Ignoring him, Dean said to Jo, “Sam says hi.”

        “I did not say that!” Then, “Hi, Jo.”

        “Hi, Sam,” Jo returned, then flopped onto the opposite sofa to wait for Dean’s conversation to end. Their days off frequently coincided, and it was nothing new for her to show up at the house like this. She knew where Crowley hid the spare key. The living room was pristinely decorated—Crowley’s influence, of course—and outfitted with leather couches that were absolutely the best for sleeping on. Dean didn’t blame his friends for preferring to spend their days off here instead their own homes, though Crowley less so.

        “What if they never found out?” he asked Sam, hoping to hurry things along before Jo could glean what they were talking about. Of one thing he was certain: there was no fucking way he would escape with his balls intact if she found out about Castiel. Ruby was a different story—she would probably give Dean a high-five and ask how the sex was before she started calling him names. He’d already spent most of the previous day avoiding her questions about what happened the night before. But Jo was sharp; at the question alone he saw her gaze narrow from the corner of his eye, and knew she had perked up to try and figure out what was going on.

        “What if who didn’t find out?” asked Sam.

        Dean almost punched the arm of his chair in frustration. “Y’know.” He lowered his voice slightly, knowing it was moot. “The government.” Jo sat up very straight in her seat and Dean groaned inwardly.

        There was a pause so Sam could roll his eyes this time. “I’m not even gonna dignify that with an answer, Dean. A better solution for everyone involved would be to just not get fired.”

        “Oh, is that your professional legal opinion, Your Honour?”

        “Dean—”

        Dean snorted. “And how do you suggest I do that, huh? Erase his memory? Go back in time and convince him I’m not an asshole?”

         “Maybe you could try being nice to him. And apologize while you’re at it, if you’re feeling really adventurous.”

        The kid had a point. Dean was loathe to admit it, but Sammy was right—if he got himself fired for something as tacky and clichéd as fucking the boss, there was no way either of the proprietors of Chapter One would do him the favour of failing to report it to the Ministry of Labour. Had it just been Crowley, it would be a different story, but even then Dean knew his flatmate would have a shit fit when he found out. Much as he liked to think otherwise, the outcome of this hullaballoo didn’t just affect Dean—it would affect Crowley, too, if Dean were deported and they were never able to go about opening their restaurant. Jo and Sam wouldn’t be the only ones giving him shit after that.

        It was looking more and more likely that Dean was going to have to tone down his anger and tread very carefully around Castiel tomorrow, if not resort to flat-out ass-kissing. He knew the chef wouldn’t make it easy, but when had he ever? Until things had gone tits-up, Dean had begun to think that’s what he liked most about Cas.

        “Yeah, well,” he muttered to Sam, “I guess I’ll have to figure out something. He may be a dick with tongs, but I don’t really want to have to leave, either.”

        Sam sighed. “How the hell do you always manage to get yourself into these kinds of situations, Dean?” he wondered. “Can’t you ever just meet someone nice and, I dunno… not be a dick to them?”

        “He started it!” spluttered Dean.

        “Yeah, and you obviously made things a hell of a lot better by responding in kind.” Sam hesitated. “When you first started talking about him, it actually sounded like you kind of liked the guy.”

        Bewildered, Dean shot up out of his chair and was all too happy to ignore the surprised expression that flitted across Jo’s face, who by now was surely baffled at the entire conversation. “Bullshit!” he exploded. “He’s been nothing but an arrogant, stuck-up, manipulative, twisted douchebag who probably fucks and forgets half his staff!” Spluttering, he added, “Do you not remember the freaking wasabi poisoning?”

        Tolerantly, Sam sighed. “Obviously that was a misunderstanding,” he said, voice even but spacing out his words as though Dean was new to the language. “And Dean, let’s face it. You do this. All the time. The only reason you get this worked up over anyone is when you’re trying to act like you don’t secretly want to get in their pants or hold their hand in public. And since you’ve already done one of those things already, I rest my case.”

        “You’re talking about Chef MacCarthy?!” Jo demanded, face scrunched up. “What the hell, Dean—what’s going on?”

        Barely hearing her, Dean couldn’t hold back his outraged gasp in response to Sam’s implication, like Dean was little more than a teenaged girl with a crush. “Fuck you, Sammy. Keep talking, and I’ll tell Jo here why you got your hair cut every week the summer you turned fifteen!” He would, too—Dean took great joy retelling that particular story, since the only reason Sam went back to the salon so often was because of the hairdresser’s huge rack; the kid practically died and went to heaven every time she leaned over him to wash his hair. From Sam’s muttered curse, he knew perfectly well it was no idle threat that Dean would spill the beans.

        “Don’t expect to sleep on my couch when you get kicked out of the country,” Sam said with dignity, then hung up the phone.

        “Sam!” Dean snapped into the receiver, but it was too late; all he heard was dial tone. Sighing, he flipped the mobile shut and then turned to face Jo.

        The look on her face told him that, while he might have just won the battle of words with Sam, he was going to lose the fucking war with Joanna Beth Harvelle. She stood up from the couch and folded her arms across her chest. In her blue jeans, T-shirt and ponytail she looked small and unthreatening and sweet, but the glimmer in her eye was pure ire. “Dean,” she repeated, hip cocked out to one side. “What. The hell. Did you do.”

        Dean backed up with his hands held at chest height, expression placating like he was preparing himself to verbally defuse a bomb. “Jo, dude, it is totally not what it sounds like. Cas and I just had a… misunderstanding.”

        “Cas?” she repeated, eyebrows arching in the direction of her hairline. “Holy shit.” She whistled. “You slept with him, didn’t you? You totally did.”

        “What? No way,” he started, and then, off a particularly sharp glower from Jo, said, “Okay, fine, yes. I slept with him. But it was totally, totally unplanned.” Except for the part where Dean had consciously decided to swagger over to Cas like the John fucking Wayne of sex and start kissing his neck and talking about how much he knew Cas wanted him. When really, what Dean had meant was, Please want this as much as I do.

        For a moment Jo’s gaze simply tracked over Dean’s face, and he got more nervous with every second that passed. There was a simple reason Dean didn’t divulge as much about his lifestyle to Jo as he did Ruby—for one thing, Jo was still at an age Dean considered young and impressionable, and knew the kid looked up to him with a weird and totally undeserved form of hero-worship. He had no desire to influence her negatively because, frankly, she was a hell of a lot better than he was—better, in fact, than most people Dean knew, with her smarts and kindness and freaky perceptiveness. This last didn’t always work so well in his favour, however, since a lot of the time the reason Dean didn’t tell Jo anything was because she figured it all out on her own, before he even opened his mouth.

        “So you slept with the dude you’ve declared your mortal enemy,” she said bluntly, mouth twisting. “That’s kind of messed up. But how the hell did you go from that to being on the outs with the whole restaurant? Either there’s something I’m missing, or you’ve left something out.”

        Dean shifted guiltily. “I may have… said something to upset him.”

        “Wait, back up. How did this even start?”

        Dean sighed. “He just… Cas attempted to apologize for the wasabi thing, I guess, and we wound up back at his place. And then one thing led to another and before I knew it I was getting my ass—”

        Jo’s hands flew up to cover her ears and her eyes scrunched shut. “Okay, okay, I get it. Just… how did you manage to make him hate you even more after having sex with him?” A cruel smile came over her face. “Unless all the rumours about your skills in bed have been greatly exaggerated…”

        Dean pointed a finger. “Don’t even go there.” When Jo just fixed him with an expectant—and very unimpressed—look, his shoulders slumped. “Alright, look. You’re no stranger to how things are in the high-profile kitchens either, and Cas, is a young, hot, single dude with a fuckin’ JB under his belt and a very promising career ahead of him.”

        Considering this for a moment, Jo eventually pursed her lips and shrugged. “So he probably has a lot of ready and willing staff throwing themselves at him. I see it in the locker room all the time.”

        Dean bristled. “You do? Since when?”

        Jo lifted her eyebrows. “You mean you haven’t? Exactly how far up your own ass are you?” Though he started to object, Jo waved her hands. “It doesn’t matter. He turns ’em all down, anyway.” Dean must have blanched in a very visible way, because Jo fixed him with that look again. “Did he say something to the contrary? When you were with him? What did he do after you had sex with him? Did he politely kick you out?”

        Hesitating, Dean shuffled his feet. “He… let me sleep over.”

        Jo’s face darkened. “Why do I feel like that’s not everything?”

        “And he might have made me breakfast in bed.”

        “So what’s the problem?” Folding her arms once again, Jo regarded Dean with a funny look on her face. “It actually kinda sounds like he’s into you. Ruby was right all along,” she added with a smile.

        Oh, fuck. Although Dean very rarely rehearsed what he wanted to say before he said it, on the rare occasion that happened—like now—he sometimes thought he sounded like the stupidest man alive. His face heated. “I… may have jumped to the conclusion that it was standard operating procedure for any of Cas’s flings. And then accused him of sleeping with the rest of the restaurant staff.”

        At first Jo did naught but stare at him in dumbfounded silence; for a moment the only sound was of the television in the background and then a burst of laughter that sounded from the street outside as someone walked past. Then, very deliberately, Jo asked, “How is it possible you’re this retarded?” Dean frowned, but that wasn’t enough to deter her. “No, I’m serious. Because, like, if anyone else went and followed up an awesome night of sex with a hot, intelligent, successful individual, not to mention a subsequent morning of breakfast in bed, with something as completely irrational and absurd as suggesting they might really just be a slut, I would honestly begin to worry for that person’s health.”

        Scowling, Dean said, “It’s not irrational or absurd to think someone might only be in it for the sex if they’re fucking you against a counter within thirty minutes of your first real conversation.”

        “Real nice, Dean. But not everyone is as allergic to relationships as you, regardless of how they start off.” Having momentarily given up on her crusade to make Dean feel as shitty about himself as possible, Jo plunked herself down on the couch and leaned forward for wrap her arms about her knees as she gazed up at him. “So did you, y’know… want it to only be that? A one-off?”

        That was the question, wasn’t it? Although Dean didn’t really have to stop and think too hard about the answer, he pretended to, using the pause to stuff down the memory of how badly he’d wanted to let himself let go and relax, enjoy the company and the quiet morning the way he knows Castiel genuinely seemed to want him to. “I don’t know,” he mumbled instead.

        Jo’s eyes went soft. “Oh, Dean,” she said. The pity in her tone made Dean bristle something fierce, because, no that was not the kind of ‘support’ he needed right now, being treated like a little girl who’d gone and flubbed her first crush due to a serious case of being tongue-tied. And the last person he needed it from was Jo, who he knew would not only be right, but smug as hell about it. Fuck that noise.

        “Don’t freaking give me that,” he snapped, then collapsed back in his own chair to rub a tired hand over his face. “Just tell me how to fix it.”

        “I think it’s probably past fixing by now,” Jo answered, voice flat. “Not unless you’re really, really lucky. But, knowing Chef MacCarthy? You’ll probably just be lucky to escape with your balls intact.”

        “Not helping!”

        Eyes rolling in the most dramatic fashion possible, Jo arched exactly the kind of eyebrow Dean had been dreading. “Right now Castiel is like the most opinionated, pissed-off, entitled customer you’ve ever had the misfortune of having seated in your section,” she said. “So you’re going to have to be sweet, Dean, and kiss ass like you’ve never kissed ass before.”


Part 4

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