Fic: "In the Weeds: Part 5" [Dean/Cas, AU - NC-17]

Oct. 30th, 2011 | 07:50 pm
From:: nanoochka


TITLE: In the Weeds - Part 5
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 5" by [livejournal.com profile] nanoochka



        Judging by the way Castiel pulled Dean into a nearby storeroom the second he opened his mouth, but before he could actually say anything, it was a good bet the chef was either bracing for a fight or had come to figure a few things out about Dean over the past few weeks of their acquaintance; namely, that Dean’s tendency to fly off the handle was best managed in private. Maybe Dean was overestimating Castiel’s perceptiveness, but pulling them out of sight of curious eyes was a good move on his part, Dean begrudgingly acknowledged, because if there was anything he hated more than having to talk about his feelings, it was talking about them in public.

        The room in which he found himself was dark and somewhat dusty until Castiel hit the light switch on the wall, and then Dean could see his surroundings even if the room didn’t smell any different. He recognized the restaurant’s dry storage/root cellar from the tour he’d gotten on his first day at Chapter, a room roughly eight by ten feet. Built-in shelving lined the walls and divided the room in half, stacked with various sealed containers of grains, spices, herbs, and baskets of vegetables safely stored in the dry, temperature-controlled conditions. Everything was neatly organized and labelled by date in accordance with Lewis’s mean OCD streak. Castiel closed the door behind them, locked it.

        “What if someone needs to get in here?” asked Dean, arching an eyebrow.

        “At this stage in the evening? Not likely,” answered Cas. “We prepared everything we’ll need earlier, and I’d much rather we have the chance to talk undisturbed.” Dipping his head, he took a couple steps closer and his eyes ran restlessly over the curves and shadows of Dean’s face. He’d undone the top few buttons of his chef’s jacket, and Dean could see the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed. “And we do need to talk, don’t we?”

        Dean huffed out a fast breath through his nose. Castiel’s proximity was doing funny things to him, making his anger spike as well as his body’s awareness of the other man. His nose was picking up faint traces of smells he remembered from the other night, food and Castiel’s cologne and hints of sweat from working in the sweltering kitchen environment. It made him want to lash out in a number of confusing but not entirely contradictory ways.

        With a shiver, Dean grimaced and looked away, hiding his discomfort with a bark of laughter and by folding his arms. Classic defensive posture, but he didn’t give a fuck if Cas thought he was being transparent or stroppy. The more he thought about it, the more Dean felt like that would be letting the chef off easy—even if, deep down, he knew thinking too much about any part of this situation would leave his anger feeling pretty impotent.

        Not having any better ideas for how to begin, Dean figured it couldn’t possibly make things worse to start at ‘belligerent’ and work his way back from there. Ignoring the slim possibility he was being wildly hypocritical, he snapped, “You mean you got something to say about the fact you almost got me shit-canned?”

        Castiel’s jaw tightened like he’d just been slapped, and in a flash whatever calm demeanour he’d had upon walking into the storage room with Dean dissipated. It seemed Dean had that effect on a lot of people. “Me?” he spluttered. “I’m the one who just got you un-fired! What the hell would you have done if I’d not walked in there to speak up on your behalf?”

        “Taken a baseball bat to that fucking bike of yours,” retorted Dean. Then, remembering, he added, “Oh, I’m sorry, a cricket bat, since you Micks wouldn’t know a decent national pastime if it sat on your goddamned face.”

        Rolling his eyes, Castiel planted his hands on his hips. “Cricket is not the Irish national pastime, you knob.”

        Dean huffed impatiently at that. “Listen, man, there’s no fucking way I would have wound up in the hot seat if you hadn’t pulled that stunt of yours with the goddamned dictionary. The fact that you crashed the meeting wasn’t out of the goodness of your heart, it was because you acted like a freaking crazy person and you know it. Savin’ my sorry ass was just a fortunate by-product of trying to save face in front of Martin and Chef Lewis—admit it. So I look like the asshole and you the merciful angel, huh? But I didn’t ask for your damn help—you shoulda just stayed the fuck out of it and let me take care of things myself. I would have made do just fine.”

        “Feck off,” scoffed Castiel. An edge of wonderment came through in his voice as he shook his head. “You do talk some shite, don’t you? Like you’re altogether blameless. That I was upset at all is because you’re an insolent, loud-mouthed, presumptuous, self-righteous bastard. I tried go back so we could get off on the proper foot, but—” He trailed off, and Dean didn’t miss the way Castiel’s nostrils flared. “You seemed intent on throwing that all back in my face. Still very much seem that way, even now.”

        Doing his very best not to flinch, Dean lifted his chin. “And you’re an arrogant, self-important, manipulative, stuck-up son of a bitch who didn’t seem to mind how loud I got the other night.” Who gives the best head this side of the Atlantic, he silently amended, because there was no way in hell he was going to inflate Castiel’s ego any more or give him reason to think he deserved anything less than Dean’s wrath.

        And Dean was wrathful, all right. He was wrathful and indignant and armed with not a single one of his prior convictions, so wrathful his hands clenched and his heart rate sped up when Castiel wet his lips and glared back. Then Dean was balling his fists in the front of Castiel’s chef’s jacket and slamming the other man up against the nearest row of shelves, making the containers of rice and grain shudder with a sound like cicadas from the summers of Dean’s youth.

        For once there was something he and Cas could agree on. They met halfway, lips crashing together where their words couldn’t, like waves against a sea wall, unstoppable force and immovable object. Though Cas let himself be slammed back against the shelving behind him, the fight didn’t end there.

        With a grunt he jammed long fingers into Dean’s hair so he could hold their faces together. His mouth opened and he capitulated in a way that was almost sweet, everything Dean didn’t know how to let Cas be, lips soft and yielding even as retaliation crept through in a painful bite and a violently possessive tongue. Dean whimpered at that and his hands went to Castiel’s shoulders, holding him immobile, trapped, like he was keeping an animal at bay for its protection as much as his own. When Cas pulled back with a glint of dark blue eyes and not a trace of amusement therein, Dean thought the comparison wasn’t far off. He was pissed, raring for a scrap, but Dean could feel where Castiel’s cock had started to harden, pressing urgency and need between their bodies.

        They kissed again, teeth clacking; Dean moaned at how bruised his lips already felt but didn’t withdraw, savouring the dull ache like a prize. Fingers still digging into the chef’s jacket, he jerked and gasped Castiel’s name when that mouth slid down across his cheek and proceeded to suck and nip at the bolt of his jaw, tongue smoothing against traces of stubble before slipping lower and kissing the fine skin of Dean’s neck.

        Belatedly he realized the buttons of his uniform vest were being worked open one by one, his green tie tugged loose a moment later, and in response he just pushed himself closer, let his knee find its way between Castiel’s legs like an exclamation point and hitch up against the hem of the chef’s black Utilikilt. No amount of animosity had stopped Dean fantasizing about the muscular, tanned calves that spanned the distance between the hem of Cas’s kilt and his kitchen workboots, hadn’t stopped him imagining what he’d find beneath if he pushed his hands up under there like a schoolboy getting his first opportunity at a grope. His anger, still yet to fade, made his blood hot, but the illicitness of having Cas here up against the wall got him past the point of ‘hard’ and well into ‘desperate’.

        Nor did Castiel seem terribly interested in dragging things out as he forced Dean’s fingers to the fastenings of his chef’s jacket and rubbed his crotch against Dean’s proffered thigh, riding it wantonly as anything. There was heat there, more urgency, a language they could both understand. Next he began fumbling open the belt, button and zip of Dean’s trousers so he could get a large, hot hand inside and wrapped around his cock.

        “Fuck,” gasped Dean, thrusting helplessly into Castiel’s grip. He went a little cross-eyed at the touch that licked up the shaft and caressed the head, playing around the slit until Dean’s knees wobbled.

        Unable to stop himself, he abandoned all hope of getting Cas’s jacket or undershirt off in one piece and simply buried his hands in the heavy fabric of the Utilikilt, rucking it up Castiel’s hard thighs to discover that, yes, even the most unconventional of kilts could still be worn traditionally; his knuckles grazed nothing but bare flesh and he hissed appreciatively. At the low, needy sound that emerged from Cas’s mouth, Dean moved his hands around to clench in the flesh of Castiel’s ass and got their pelvises lined up just so, fabric bunched between them but not enough to get in the way. He felt Castiel’s shiver—more of a shudder, really—and the hand on his flesh withdrew so Cas could steady himself. Dean gave an experimental jerk of hips to feel the press of their meat together. It was a snap of electricity, cocks side-by-side and neat as anything, a slip of foreskin and velvet and so much heat Dean almost couldn’t bear it. He thought of the plates he carried out to the dining room on busy nights, porcelain fresh from the dishwasher a scalding weight against his palm he had to test himself not to drop.

        He was busy trying to get a handle on the kind of sounds his mouth wanted to make, perhaps in compensation for the other night, and thinking, This is perfect, right there, just like that, until Cas made a noise of frustration. Dean’s name emerged from his lips in one plaintive syllable as Cas attempted to hook one leg over Dean’s hip, inner thigh hot and damp even through the fabric of Dean’s trousers. At first it only succeeded in pushing the article further down his legs, a flush of skin-to-skin contact that nearly made his eyes roll back and his hand immediately slide behind the curve of Castiel’s ass, fingers anchored in the warm crease.

        But then Cas said, “Dean,” again in that insistent tone almost halfway gone to a whine, and Dean was forced to shake himself out of his pleasure-stunned state and look at Castiel’s face. It wasn’t until he did that he saw the way Castiel had furrowed his brow in frustration and was bouncing slightly on the ball of the other foot, pushing against Dean’s biceps and trying to hoist himself up like Dean was nothing more than a tree he wanted to climb.

        Happy to oblige, Dean bent his knees slightly and lifted, finding Castiel heavier than he looked. He dragged Cas further up his body until legs wrapped around his waist and arms went about his shoulders, and Dean was caught between the scrape of Castiel’s boots against the skin of his upper thighs and the bite of nails into the back of his neck. The suddenness of the new position—the rightness of it—made breath huff out of Dean like a solar-plexus punch. Castiel, eyes slitted so just a sliver of white and darker blue gleamed in the low light of the storage room, mewled and swallowed, looked down at Dean with his lips parted and his tongue emerging to wet them slowly.

        Dean tightened his grip around the backs of Castiel’s legs and leaned in to bump his lips against the pronounced curve of Cas’s cheekbone, smiled when he felt the hitch of a gasp in response. Everything felt new, from having to lean up to kiss someone to the unpredictable role-reversal. He was a taken aback at this abruptly unfamiliar Castiel, who seemed accepting, if not content, to let Dean be in the driver’s seat, a sharp departure from the man who the other night had owned Dean so spectacularly. There was need there in his eyes but not resignation, gaze too bright to indicated he’d merely resigned himself to the surrender of control. A not-unpleasant thought struck Dean that perhaps Castiel got off on the challenge but wasn’t in fact afraid to yield; that being taken was an unexpected enough thrill to make him butter in Dean’s hands. A long shot as far as armchair psychology went, sure, but Dean knew he was on the money there, having felt the same spark of arousal every time he went toe to toe with Castiel and the man refused to back down.

        “You want this?” Dean murmured, sliding their lips together soft and easy like he’d never really done before, tongue nudging Cas’s mouth open, licking, tasting, stalling. It was too gentle for the buzzing of his nerves, desire shaking him mercilessly down, but it felt good, felt necessary, just like it had when he’d first ever put his lips upon Castiel’s skin and found himself snared.

        Even the question, something silly and uttered purely as a heat-of-the-moment thing, reminded him of that night and how Cas had melted against him, as weak-kneed in Dean’s arms as he was brash out of them. Dean couldn’t help that he wanted it all, wanted to be greedy and careless and take what Castiel was offering him right here, even if it scared and exhilarated him in equal measure. The other man’s mouth opening to him so readily was addictive, made Dean want endlessly more and to hitch their pelvises together until he begged soundlessly from deep in his throat. A harder pressure of his mouth and Castiel was digging the fingers of one hand in deep and moaning, writhing against him, inviting the slow thrust of hips that had them rutting together, skin slick and growing slicker, staining the edges of Dean’s shirt and Castiel’s chef jacket where the fabric teased and brushed and enticed. Teeth sank down into his own lip as Cas reached between them and cradled their cocks in his hand, for one reverent second almost too much of not enough before the grip tightened and Dean groaned. The shelves creaked behind Castiel’s back and the grain rustled with each jolt, prolonged whispers and scrapes of sound in counterpoint to their rutting.

        Pulling back to watch Cas’s face as they fucked in tandem up into his fist, he saw eyes still at half-mast and a jaw jutted proudly forward as Castiel held on to the last of his plummeting control. Eager to break him the last little bit apart, Dean sucked hard on Castiel’s bee-stung lower lip until he squirmed and wrenched away with a cry. As he buried his face against Dean’s neck and proceeded to bite at the pulse point there, he tried to muffle his harsh pants and quiet moans that seemed a thousand times amplified in the quiet of the storage room. They mixed with Dean’s equally heavy breathing, his repeated growls of Cas and fuck and c’mon, yeah as his climax drew near, an enveloping cacophony in which he wanted to wrap himself and drift away.

        The undulations of Castiel’s body against him looked and felt so much like he might be fucking him this way, could be taking him against the wall and thrusting up and into that ready heat. Dean could imagine perfectly how hot Castiel would look like that, how hot he’d feel, all twisting limbs and opened-mouth cries and perfect, grasping, unbearable pressure around Dean’s cock as they thrust and rode each other to that bright far-off point. Cas would throw himself into that pleasure with the same intensity with which he threw himself into everything else.

        With a jolt Dean felt down to his bones Dean realized he didn’t want this to be his last opportunity to do so. Shouting or shagging, he was struck by how much of a waste it’d be to dust themselves off after this and simply walk away, stalking different paths and different directions away from each other without a backwards glance. Dean hated waste almost as much as missed opportunities. He needed another chance, god damn it, needed to take Cas home and prove he could lay him out on that big bed with its pristine sheets and velvet headboard and make him scream. Then Dean would to do it all over again, roll over with legs spread and let Cas make him come like a runaway train. That was what he wanted. He didn’t care if they had to spend the rest of their lives calling each other names for it to happen just once more. Maybe he’d even make Cas breakfast after and not be a dick about it. Stranger things had happened and, judging by the fact they were back here at all, Dean had all the proof he needed that miracles existed.

        “I’m going to fuck you,” he said out loud, like saying the wish aloud made it somehow true or less impossible. Dean let the fantasy carry him higher with the sound of Castiel’s grunts and whimpers until he was so near the brink every intake of breath felt raw, tickling his nerve endings, singing his body from the inside out. “You’re going to come and after this I’m going to take you home and fuck you. Open you on my fingers and then fuck you until you’ll think you’ve died—”

        Muscles shaking in his legs, Cas slammed his head back against the shelf and made a strangled noise, all the tendons standing out in his neck. “What makes you think I’ll let you?”

        “Oh, you’ll let me.”

        Nestled beside his own cock, Dean could feel Castiel’s balls drawing up tight just before he was about to come. It was close, real close, and Dean thrust against him harder, rattling the shelf supports, willing it to happen. He mashed their mouths back together inelegantly, anticipation of release making him desperate and uncaring if it was pretty or sweet or the dirtiest fucking thing ever. Then Cas keened, tensing up as though with seizure. Hard, gasping shudders wracked him that Dean felt through his whole body, clutching Castiel to him protectively as he spent his orgasm between them. Giving a bitten-off cry of his own, Dean tipped over the edge along with him.

        His breaths took on a pitchy note as he came down, wheezing out after what felt like endless seconds of shock and release, shock and release. It might not have been as intense as the orgasm he’d had with Cas fucking him, but Dean was altogether glad to be conscious this time, especially since he was still holding Castiel up and in danger of collapsing. The chef’s legs were already slipping down, boneless, and until Dean registered Castiel’s hands still attempting to hang on he had a moment to wonder if their roles hadn’t been reversed this time.

        Just in case, he asked, “You alright, chef?” and the words came out mumbled against Cas’s cheek.

        “Good Lord.” At that, Dean attempted something resembling a chuckle, and slowly began to lower them to the floor so they could sit with their backs propped against the shelf. Castiel promptly slumped against his shoulder, legs sprawled out in front of him like he’d forgotten how to work them. Proof positive of his current state was how he didn’t even bother to re-adjust the kilt to cover himself up. “I’m far too old for this,” he said in amazement.

        “Seemed pretty spry to me,” Dean answered with a glimmer of what could have been humour but was closer to respect. He looked down at the mess they’d made of the front of his trousers and the hem of his work shirt, and could only imagine the underside of Cas’s kilt was no better; flecks of come like the whites of an egg were slowly drying on the inside of his thighs. The sight sent a little shiver of pleasure and accomplishment through Dean. But they’d already been gone for close to fifteen minutes, and if Cas was missing any longer than that, someone was bound to come looking for him. So Dean’s hands stayed where they were this time. “That was…”

        Eyes sliding at him sidelong, Cas grunted. “Unexpected and ill-advised?” For a moment he glanced around restlessly and patted at the pockets of his chef’s jacket as if looking around for a cigarette, even though Dean’d never seen him smoke and had certainly never tasted it on Castiel’s skin. His mouth twitched at Dean’s shrug, but then a hand crept out to ghost across Dean’s knee and surprised a lost little sound out of him with its gentleness. “Perhaps very ill-advised. But...” Cas trailed off momentarily before those blue, blue eyes ticked up to meet Dean’s gaze and then skittered away again. It was, Dean realized, the same shyness as from the other morning, and he knew about as much what to do with it now as then. “Altogether pretty damn amazing.”

        Unable to help himself, Dean smiled, warmed by a hell of a lot more than just the residual heat left behind from their physical exertion, even though the muscles in his arms and legs were properly starting to ache. “Yeah?”

        The spell broken as surely as if Dean had farted to break the silence, Castiel rolled his eyes. “As if you weren’t perfectly aware already, you mug.”

        A grin broke out. “Okay, I was pretty aware.”

        Dean felt the moment the evening’s previous solemnity began to descend again, a quiet seriousness that settled back over Castiel’s features, and he knew then they were in for the talk they’d put off when hormones and pheromones and whatever the fuck else had gotten a hold of them and waylaid the conversation. Surprisingly, however, all Cas said was, “I’m sorry about earlier. I meant what I said in the office—it was unfair of me to take my frustrations out on you, especially not in front of everyone.” He swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing. “That was unprofessional and I know better.”

        “I deserved it a little,” admitted Dean. Because it seemed likely Castiel would bust his balls on that one, there bound to be a limit on how generous he could be, Dean quickly added, “Maybe more than a little. I’m sorry I called you a cock, too.”

        Cas acknowledged this with a slight nod and a tiny grimace. A muscle twitched in his cheek that screamed tension, and Castiel’s voice was no less terse when he spoke, the words emerging clipped and controlled like he was trying to keep a lid on his frustration. He only partially succeeded, but for Dean the effort was enough. “You must understand, Dean, I don’t... do this kind of thing.” He gestured between them in a way that might have been more appropriate for a parent giving his kid their first crack at the birds-and-bees talk; he half-expected air quotes. Oblivious to how earnest he looked, Cas continued, though he picked that moment to notice he was rather exposed sitting there, and smoothed the kilt back down like a prim schoolgirl. “Not ever.”

        Confused by the sudden change in Castiel’s demeanour and not really sure how to respond to it, Dean couldn’t help but go for the obvious joke. “What, you mean fuck up against a wall?”

        “No—sleep around.” The chef breezed on by the sarcasm without blinking. “And I don’t typically mix work and pleasure. The last time I had any desire to sleep with a colleague I was little more than a line cook myself.”

        Quirking a smile, Dean asked, “Daniel Boulud?”

        “Have you seen Daniel Boulud?” Cas asked incredulously. Dean chuckled because, ew, but his laugh died at the same time that the playful expression on Castiel’s face did. “It’s been an eternity since I even last brought someone home with me like I did the other night, much less subordinate at work; hell, there wasn’t a single condom to be found in my entire house—still isn’t. Nevermind that I can’t even remember the last time I bought a bottle of lube.” Dean looked at him with his eyebrows raised until Cas flushed and ducked his head, muttering an indignant, “You can stop judging me.”

        How the hell was Dean supposed to do that? He couldn’t decide who he felt worse for—Cas, or the many dozens of people out there who would have undoubtedly bent over backwards at the opportunity to worm their way into Castiel’s pants, Dean included. He had bent forward for the privilege, but that was pretty much beside the point. No wonder the guy was so uptight. “I wasn’t judgin’ no one,” he said instead, lifting his hands in surrender. “Honest.”

        Still bristling, Castiel insisted, “It’s bloody difficult to sustain a love life when all your time is spent in a kitchen!”

        “I didn’t say anything!” Backpedalling just in case Cas got it in his head to start getting uppity and defensive again, Dean offered his most innocent look and cleared his throat, meeting Castiel’s eye. “Besides, I never would have guessed. You suck cock like a goddamned porn star.”

        “Yes. Well. I worked in Vegas—one is bound to learn a few things.” At this, Castiel blushed, and fuck it all but the sight was damned endearing enough to make Dean’s smile threaten to run away from him again.

        Sighing, Cas tried to elaborate even though Dean was pretty sure he understand the picture with perfect clarity. Either Cas was one of those uptight Irish-Catholic types or he was operating under far less self-confidence than he liked to pretend, and that was pretty much Dean’s M.O. in a nutshell. The difference between them was Dean used sex to compensate for most everything in his professional and private life, whereas Cas did the opposite. “It felt good to want someone so badly again,” he said softly. “Even if you did drive me half up the wall every time you so much as looked at me.”

        “You’ll get no argument there.”

        With a shrug, Cas added, “I didn’t think you were remotely interested, so I might have overcompensated a bit.”

        “A bit?”

        Castiel looked annoyed and Dean decided to shut up. “Even after you first kissed me I had no idea what you were interested in. I’m sorry if I made you feel pressured. I was embarrassed and overreacted, but I had no right to assume you might want anything past that one night.”

        Dean swallowed, finding the words suddenly sobering. His first impulse, as always, was to deny, deny, deny. He was all for women’s empowerment and shit, but something about admitting his feelings to another person still felt inexplicably girly and taboo somehow, and not in the good way. With great deliberateness he could’ve sworn sent his pulse racing, he said, “I did.”

        “I’m sorry?”

        Fuck. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I did kind of want something past that one night, but…” He trailed off and flushed a deep red with embarrassment, but as Dean continued to talk he could hear the defensiveness creeping into his own voice. “There’s about a million miles separating me and you, okay? Guys like you don’t tend to want anything more than a quick fuck with guys like me, and for good reason. I feel about this big—” he held out his thumb and forefinger pinched very close together, “—next to you, because there’s no doubt you’re gonna go on and do great things. Whereas I’m basically just a worthless drifter who’ll probably still be wearin’ this apron in ten years and flirting for tips.”

        “How do you have such a low opinion of yourself? You have dreams; you’re seeing the world,” Castiel said kindly, though his tone was gently chastising. “You said yourself you have plans to open your own restaurant. Nothing worthless about that, not at all.”

        Feeling Castiel’s eyes on him, watching his face in silence and simply taking in Dean’s words, made the shame seem to burn even hotter. “Crowley probably won’t want to go into business with me now,” he mumbled. “But it doesn’t matter. Either way, I felt like an idiot for thinkin’, even for a second, that I might wanna close the gap, actually get you to look at me with respect or tell me stuff about yourself you didn’t tell anyone else. That didn’t seem possible, so in my mind it was a hell of a lot more reasonable to make sure we both walked away without being disappointed. I just told you how it was before you could figure it out for yourself.”

        Cas tipped his head to consider this. “Is that all?”

        Dean grunted. “No. Plus I honestly couldn’t see how you weren’t getting more ass than anyone in Ireland.”

        In response to that Dean had maybe expected for there to be some kind of back-and-forth about how much of an idiot he was, or better yet an opportunity for Cas to tell him once and for all that, yes, Dean was perfectly right about not being good enough. Then they could each go on their merry way. But Cas didn’t seem any more disconcerted than before; if anything, his face took on a softness Dean hadn’t seen before except for that morning in bed when Castiel had touched his cheek and, with nothing more than a tray full of breakfast, made a very definitive point about how Dean’s assumptions were just fucking stupid.

        “And is that truly what you expected of me, or just what you’d have expected of yourself?”

        Though he flinched, Dean knew when he’d been caught and honestly saw no reason to try and bullshit his way out of that one, not when they each of them knew better. “I think we both know the answer to that.”

        Cas nodded grudgingly, but grumbled. “Well, you could have just asked.”

        “Do I seem like the kind of guy who likes to talk about that stuff to you?”

        A prolonged pause crept by wherein Dean had to forcibly hold his leg still to prevent any restless fidgeting while he waited for Cas to decide what he wanted to say next. He might’ve sprouted a few grey hairs during that time, too, but when Cas finally spoke it was a world of relief.

        “Then we were both wrong,” he said, confirming it with far more gentleness than Dean thought he deserved. “That morning as I was fixing breakfast I kept thinking about how I’d have preferred if no distance or hierarchy separated us at the restaurant. If I’d been but a server or line cook myself I’d have asked you out on the spot—no question. You seem so confident in what you want and everyone seems to look up to you. Being a chef at a fancy restaurant in no way seemed enough to guarantee your admiration or respect. Instead I had to settle for trying to get your attention in a different way.”

        Blushing furiously now, Dean said, “The wasabi poisoning was a bit extreme.”

        “Effective, though.” With a surprised grunt that petered off into a laugh caught somewhere between grateful and relieved, Dean shoved at Castiel, who smirked. Quietly, and with a bit more uncertainty than Dean had heard from him up until this point, he said, “I might have told you whatever you wanted to know, in time. There’s plenty more I’d like to know about you as well, if you still want to tell me.”

        Dean spared the matter approximately thirty nanoseconds of thought before he said, “Come here.”

        Castiel seemed confused about how to comply with the request until Dean reached out and caught his chin to draw their faces closer. He pressed their lips together and felt the tiny sigh that seemed to melt out of Castiel’s whole body at the touch. That sigh took any remaining tension Dean might have been feeling with it, and as their mouths lingered and clung together he decided, fuck it, they had nowhere else to be right this second. There was no rush and no reason to go any deeper than the continuous brush of lips and undemanding touches of tongue.

        A quiet sound of contentment rumbled out of him, or maybe it was Cas, and Dean drew away with a small smile curling his lips. So very much against his better judgement, since it was something Sam would never let him hear the end of, Dean took Castiel’s hand and held it. But there was no one watching and Dean told himself this didn’t qualify as any chick-flick stuff yet. With the other hand he straightened the chef’s jacket and found himself smiling at the idea there was something as simple as asking a dude out that Castiel was not only not good at, but downright awful. It made ceviche look kind of like an art form by comparison.

        “Cas?”

        “Yes?” It showed great promise he didn’t bother to correct Dean.

        “What are you doing right now?”

        Tilting his head as if to consider, Castiel watched Dean’s face carefully for a clue as to how he was doing before he said, “Nothing, I don’t think.” He had a kitchen to help run, but Dean couldn’t help but praise him silently for a perfect answer. A quick study, was Cas. No surprise he’d risen through the ranks of the culinary industry like a rocket flare in the dark.

        “That’s good to hear,” Dean said, and gave the hand a squeeze. Cas looked back at him and chewed idly on his lip as he wanted to elaborate. He looked both expectant and lost and Dean decided to throw him a bone. “There anything you wanna ask me?” he prompted. “Maybe what I’m doing later tonight?”

        Considering that a second, Cas asked, “Would... you like to go have more sex?”

        Half-choking, since, yeah, the thought certainly appealed a lot more than what Dean had been thinking, Dean had to force himself to dial it back a few notches and stick with what was probably the better plan, given the circumstances and how things went the last time. He was attempting to be a better person here, though why that meant he should turn down sex, he couldn’t be sure. That just seemed to be how it worked for some people, and he figured it couldn’t hurt since his own methods had proven somewhat lacking. “I was thinking more along the lines that we should keep it simple,” he suggested instead. “Maybe hit the reset button and do things properly this time.”

        Following a quick duck of his head, the grin that split Castiel’s face was so wide and bright that Dean at first could only blink before he bit his lip and then gave up entirely on trying to hide his answering smile. He felt like he was looking at something he might have pictured in a couple moments of weakness one morning, like part of another world. Another country, one not Dean’s own. Except, it was. There Cas was, his hand in Dean’s hand, and Dean didn’t have to look or imagine any further than that to know what it might be like; he just had to live in it.

        “Very well,” said Castiel, and though his grin became more subdued it didn’t fade from his face completely. The effect was approximately as giddy as Dean could remember feeling when he’d been plotting to dump Cas in the canal, but this was so much more euphoric, so giddy, tied his stomach up in knots in far more satisfying a manner than anger ever did. “In that case, Dean, would you like to join me for a drink?”

        “You buyin’?” At Castiel’s shrug and knowing smirk, Dean didn’t even pretend to have to consider. “Then hell yeah, I would. But—” he added, because he was and would always be Dean Winchester, added, “Let’s make it snappy, huh? Afterwards there’s this hot chef I’d kind of like to get naked with, and I don’t wanna blow my chances.”

        Cas snorted. “Keep talking and you won’t have to bother, garçon.”

        Hearing the term that once would have sent a shudder down his spine, Dean cut off whatever he might have normally said and let it go with nothing more than a wink and a smile. He’d committed to the job a long time ago and had no intention of stopping now; Castiel wasn’t, after all, the first or the last chef who would call him names and boss him around a little bit, even if he was the first who could make it equally worth Dean’s while. If that was just one more thing he’d have to deal with, well, Dean was adaptable and happy to make an exception under the proper circumstances. That was a sign of a good waiter. In fact, he thought he might even come to like it just fine.


+


        Six months later, Dean managed to find himself staring up at the huge limestone facade of the Bank of Ireland on Westmoreland Street, a landmark he walked past almost every day and had never once set foot inside. He’d never before had reason to—Dean kept his personal savings locked away in the safe in his room, and it wasn’t like he was big on investing. Quite frankly, his primary source of knowledge about the Bank of Ireland was from a news story he’d seen back home a few years ago; a bank official’s family had been kidnapped and held hostage. After that, apparently, they’d starting moving senior managers around from place to place, often providing them with residences away from their families, to ensure no one else could be kidnapped and used for ransom. At the time it had all sounded pretty badass, but not enough to make Dean start trusting a financial institution with his hard-earned cash. All that was about to change, though.

        “You ready?”

        If possible, Cas was staring up at the bank’s white pillars and columns with even more apprehension than Dean. Why was beyond him, because Castiel had been through this song and dance at least a couple times before, but Dean sensed there was something different about this situation that required him to shut up, stop being insensitive and just make Cas feel better. With nothing better to do, he stepped forward into Castiel’s line of sight, blocking his view of the bank, and set to work straightening his lover’s tie, which was a fetching shade of blue and had been getting Dean good and distracted for most of the morning.

        “What if they don’t accept our proposal?” Cas murmured, brow furrowed. “With the economy the way it is, I’ve heard of people being turned down left, right and centre.”

        “Hey, hey,” said Dean. He reached out to grip Cas by the shoulders. “We have a kick-ass business plan courtesy of yours truly, not to mention the endorsement of Martin and Chef Lewis. You’re one of the best damn chefs in Europe, nevermind Ireland; no way are they gonna come back with a, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ Plus we have just about the coolest name ever.”

        All Castiel did was frown, looking at Dean dubiously despite the many, many times they had been over the plan in the last couple weeks, but as Dean opened his mouth to offer more words of encouragement he was interrupted by a taxicab squealing to a halt a few feet away from where they stood. The door opened and Crowley stepped out carrying a briefcase that likely cost more than Dean’s whole wardrobe—even his green tie was on permanent loan from Chapter One. It had to be said that Crowley looked the part, however, and he paid his driver and strode forward with the air of someone who knew exactly what they were getting into, and then some. He’d said the day before it was the bank that wouldn’t know what hit ’em.

        “Greetings, partners,” he said as he approached, and Dean returned his proud smile with one only slightly less confident. “Are we ready to go in and dazzle them out of their trousers?”

        Dean looked expectantly at Castiel, who seemed to finally pull himself together and offer a nod and a quiet sigh. “Yes, I’m ready,” he confirmed, glancing over at Crowley. “Let’s get it over with.”

        Crowley chuckled and clapped Castiel on the back hard enough to send him stumbling half a foot forward into Dean. Ever since the three of them had come to the unplanned but inevitable solution—inevitable, Dean thought, because Crowley had all but salivated at the possibility he might entice someone like Chef Castiel MacCarthy onto the staff of his new restaurant with Dean—Crowley had taken up a fond, weirdly flirtatious rapport with Cas that left Dean more baffled than threatened, especially since they all knew whose name Castiel hollered at night. “Nonsense, angel,” Crowley assured him. “All you have to do is stand there looking your gorgeous self, and let Dean and I do the talking. They’ll be signing the credit paperwork within the hour, take my word for it.”

        That was laying it on a bit thick, but the words seemed to have their desired effect as Castiel’s tense shoulders relaxed marginally. Dean rubbed his back soothingly and said, “See? Piece of cake.”

        Satisfied that Cas wasn’t going to bolt at any minute—take his pots and pans away from him, and he could sometimes act like a skittish colt—Crowley turned to Dean. “You sure you can’t be persuaded to change the name back to the original idea?”

        Dean grunted. “No way.” In the first round of discussion, the three of them had liked the name Seven Deadly for the restaurant, at Crowley’s suggestion; but a recent trip, along with Sam, to visit Dean’s family in Kansas for Thanksgiving had inspired Castiel with a moniker Dean liked far more: Impala. Its origin was a mystery to absolutely no one, but Cas had made the argument that if word ever got out about the accidental wasabi poisoning from the previous year, people were bound to wonder whether Seven Deadly might not be literal. Dean didn’t care how they sold Crowley on the idea, as long as he could turn up to work each day at a restaurant named in tribute to his baby. “Besides,” he added, “the paperwork is already typed up. No changing it now.”

        With a roll of his eyes, Crowley nodded toward the front entrance. “Fine, fine. We shouldn’t keep them waiting.”

        Taking Castiel’s hand, Dean gave the long fingers a little squeeze and started off in that direction. At the gentle tug that half-pulled him back, he glanced at Castiel in confusion. “You okay, Cas?”

        “Kiss me,” Cas said quickly. “For luck.”

        Crowley snorted rudely as he strode past them. “What the hell for? You’re bloody Irish already, not to mention that you’re investing half the income from your parents’ house in this damned restaurant. They’ll sign, Cas.”

        Though he shrugged to concede the point, for it was a good one, Castiel shook his head and looked up at Dean hopefully and with a small twinkle in his eye. “Kiss me anyway,” he murmured.

        “Gladly,” answered Dean, laughing. He did just that, a gentle brush of lips Castiel allowed him to deepen a moment longer than necessary, slow and with a hint of teeth just the way he liked. There was an anonymous catcall from somewhere off in the distance, and Dean grinned and caught a group of teenaged girls clapping and wolf-whistling at them like they were there purely for entertainment purposes.

        As it turned out, it was just the little push Cas needed to chuckle and snap himself out of it, and Dean saw him straighten his shoulders in that way he had when Castiel was going into BAMF mode. Between the three of them and a kitchen, Dean thought, they were capable of creating an impossible number of things to make people happy, food that delighted as much as it awed and mystified. Considering what they’d gone through to get here, the few months where Dean had braced himself to accept defeat and go back to America empty-handed, he found himself with a real future and not one partner, but two. For the most part he still sometimes waffled between slapping Cas silly or kissing him stupid, and wouldn’t have it any other way. This? They had this in the bag. Now it was time to go make a little luck of their own.

        Palm a reassuringly steady presence on Castiel’s back, Dean kissed him just once more before they smiled at each other and began to make their way toward the bank, hand warmly in hand. “Let’s go get ’em, chef.”


Fin

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