Remember this heartfelt note from chapter three?
"Dean and I have taken 'Baby' and are driving to a local food serving establishment for sustenance. Dean calls it dinner and not a date. We don't date. We're not twelve. Just put the pen down and-
Sorry, Sam. Maybe next time you can have the honorable designation of 'third wheel' and accompany- Never mind. Dean said, 'No way in Hell. He can find his own damn date.' Which I find confusing, as I'd just been informed that your brother and I were not, in fact, 'dating'.
Ah. He's started the engine. If we're back before you read this, he'll probably burn it. So if you like this note, I suggest putting it somewhere Dean will never see it again.
Sincerely yours, Castiel - Angel Of The Lord - Perhaps Date Of Your Older Brother
Chapter four picks up where the note left off. ;D
Dean hadn't been on a date in a long-ass time, and his nerves were playing up something fierce. He kept needing to remind his fingers to loosen up around the wheel or he'd chance messing up the steering cover. Which was something he didn't want to do.
He liked this one.
Cas sitting shotgun, staring out each and every window in turn as if expecting a glance at Bigfoot, wasn't doing anything to calm the gallop Dean's heart wasn't backing down from. In fact, the guy's overly alert state was making things worse and Dean found he could hardly hear his music over the rush of anxiety in his own ears.
Cas hadn't complained about the music and Dean kept catching the brunet bopping his head to it whenever he thought he wasn't being watched.
So far, Cas was shaping up to be much better driving company than his tasteless little brother was just about any day of the week. Except for the reality of their current destination fogging things up, Dean would have been happy as a clam. Unfortunately, he couldn't stop thinking about it:
A restaurant. Where they served food. And where he and Cas were going to get a booth and sit together and eat. In public.
Sure, he'd eaten in public with Sam or Cas or Sam and Cas more times than he could possibly count, but never in all that time had he guessed he'd ever be doing it for any purpose other than filling his pie hole and talking business.
Courtship was about as far removed as you got from his 'usual' MO. Even before the world had gone to hell in a hand basket he hadn't been much of the dinner and schmooze type.
More the catch 'em after dinner and schmooze type.
"I find it enchanting that a human can have such a high register, yet such control of vocal rasp. Robert Plant is one of my favorites," Cas said as the singer of the same name warned about a 'mean old levy' about to break.
"You like Zeppelin? I didn't know you listened to music," Dean took his eyes off the streetlightless highway just long enough to make eye contact with his passenger before putting his attention front again.
"Yes. I have." Cas reached up for the dashboard and fiddled with the closest air vent, angling it down and away even though nothing was coming through them. "Sam has spoken his distaste for your choice in listening material over the years. I eventually became curious as to what he could possibly dislike so."
"So you became a Led-head? Out of curiosity?"
"I listened to everything Sam had ever voiced objection to and it turned out... I liked it." Cas turned in his seat on the bench, the immaculate leather upholstery making the barest complaint as he did, and faced the driver. "You have a wonderful taste in music."
"Huh. Never thought I'd hear the day."
"It's true. I'd thought the artists of the renaissance period were brilliant. Turned out, they got better four hundred years later."
"Wait, the renaissance? You mean like, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo?" Dean asked, surprised enough by the statement that he found himself searching the guy's face for any sign of a joke.
"Yes. Among others. Uh, you may want to keep your eyes on the road."
"Oh, shit," Dean intoned, correcting the wheel and glueing his eyes back to the darkened road.
"The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are included in my idea of the most modern artistic resurgence."
"You know the TMNT? Eastman and Laird?" The driver asked without taking his attention off his navigating.
"I have the entirety of relevant modern pop culture floating around in my head. Metatron put it there," Cas added.
"That explains a few things," the only response Dean could scrounge up.
"I suppose it would," Cas acknowledged. Sounding as if he wasn't sure what 'things' the information might clear up.
"Where is this place we'll be eating? Will they have hamburgers?"
Dean ignored how big a shift in topic that felt like and answered with a question. "Got a craving?"
"Hm. The affinity for red meat has never left me. Even with the passing of this vessel's original occupant, Mr. Novak."
"Poor dude. But y'know," Dean started, chancing a glance toward shotgun, "him being gone? You could call it 'your body', if ya want. Since no one else owns it."
"The thought hadn't crossed my mind." Cas said, after a pause. Then, after another, "I'll give that a shot."
"Cool. How do you like having your very own body? It all it's cracked up to be?"
"It's like having a vessel, except it's private and never feels crowded. Probably quite similar to how you feel in your body," Cas said, reaching out and adjusting the same little vent toward the ceiling now.
"Like that, huh? In that case: Welcome to being human. Hope you like it more'n most."
"I still possess divine grace and therefore still fit the classification of angel. But... I have grown rather fond of the notion of blending in with the human populace."
"Yeah, doesn't make you sound like some creepy, mad scientist anthropologist at all." Before Castiel's intake of air could become an argument in his defense, Dean wagged a finger on the steering wheel in his direction and added, "I think I get what you're sayin'. About blending in. Never got the hang of it myself."
"You and your brother are both quite tall."
"No argument there."
"Nope. Just... wasn't what I was talkin' 'bout."
After a pregnant pause, filled by Cas running his off hand against the well conditioned door interior, shotgun cleared his throat and took a wild guess.
"You refer to your job?"
"Being a hunter sets you apart from the majority of humans in a visceral, difficult to breach way. That is why you are so fortunate to have others with whom you may discuss monsters and demons and-"
"While I agree wholeheartedly, I was kinda hopin' for an evening free of shop talk," Dean said, not liking the way his jaw set stiff at the mention of his given, if not chosen, profession.
Perhaps Cas noticed the less than happy turn, because the next time his mouth opened, an obvious change of subject rolled out.
"So this place will have hamburgers?"
Dean snickered under his breath and drummed his fingers against the wheel. "Only the best for a fellow classic rock junky."
"Wonderful. Though, I may be needing two if the flavor agrees with me."
"It has been a while since I last ate," reasoned the recently revived angel.
"Guess pushin' up daisies'll work up an appetite."
"You sound as if you know what you're talking about."
"I've come back to life a time or two," Dean said, hoping only good humor poked through the joke.
Judging by the way his passenger went quiet, there might've been a little something else mixed in there. Not the most promising start to a first evening out, and that thought got him nervous all over again.
"Yes. Even for hunters, you and Sam have seen more than your fair shares of hardship."
"You're no lightweight yourself. Going up against heaven 'many times as you have? You'd think they'd'a learned to leave an angel alone."
Cas fiddled this time with a vent nearer the driver side of the cab, closing and opening it before responding. "Does this qualify as 'shop talk'?"
"Right. My bad. Uh," Dean resisted the temptation to squeeze his eyes shut as he scrambled for something else to say. "Hamburgers, right?" He could practically hear the crack of a small smile on his passenger's face.
"That would be perfect."
"Alrighty then. I know just the place," said while using both index fingers to point at a large sign poking above the natural privacy screen of darkened trees that read, Patty's Diner. Complete with a larger than life picture of exactly the food they were on the lookout for: A smiling, flickering, neon red hamburger.
'Patty' had this marketing thing figured out, Dean mused with a wry grin as he took the turn off the highway.
"I appreciate their witty use of pun humor," Cas said, preoccupied by the glowing effigy of exactly what he'd been dreaming of sinking his teeth into.
"You and me both," Dean said, pulling the keys from the ignition and popping his door open. "Time to get our eat on."
"Yes. My stomach feels as if it is threatening to turn on me and begin digesting itself."
"That's all kinds of messed up, man. We're here to fix that though, so no worries. After you," Dean said, holding the diner door open for his not date. Grinning as a faint jingle announced their arrival to the apparently empty diner.
"Welcome to Patty's! Party of two?" Came the confident tone of the only person in the place, who seemed to be sliding a book of crosswords discreetly below the top of her lectern-podium thing. The kind waiters and seaters all across the country had for holding menus and taking down reservation names and generally looking like a total bad ass behind.
"Yep." Dean confirmed letting the door shut itself soon as he and Cas were completely out of its way.
"And we are both very hungry and would like a booth." Cas added. Helpfully.
"Sure thang. Right this way," and with that she was off, waving with the arm not laden with menus for Cas and Dean to follow and settling them into a cozy spot adjacent to the kitchen.
Dean marveled at the efficiency of her movements as she'd set a menu in front of each, pulled out a pad and pen, and gave the booth a friendly look.
"Good evenin', my name's Ruth and I'll be your server. I'mma take a guess for drinks and say... coffee?"
"Yes, and I will have your most delicious hamburger." Cas blurted, sounding as if he couldn't keep it in a second longer and hadn't actually heard a word the nice lady by the table had said. "Please." Cas tacked on the good manners just a beat late. As if he'd forgotten them for a second.
"Alright. And for your date?" At the incredulous double takes from the booth, Ruth smiled and huffed a chuckle out her nose. "We get all types through here; ain't nothing to hide 'bout." Leaning closer to the table, she mimed a stage whisper to her captive audience. "'Other day, we had a whole passel of goths blow through." She straightened, fixing a loose strand of peppered brunette hair back behind her ear, and held her pen and pad out at the ready once more, "'Course, that's what ya get bein' so close to the interstate."
"You're tellin' me, Sister," agreed Dean, blowing out a relieved breath as he smiled to match hers.
"This is our first not date," Cas told the perfect stranger by the table. Followed by, "Our first kiss was shared not one hour ago." Earning one of the most aghast expressions Dean had ever felt his own face make.
"Y'don't say. I'd'a thought ya'll'd've been together awhile. You lookin' so comfortable and all," Ruth offered. The hand with the pen moving to rest against an aproned hip. Staggeringly, not appearing fazed by the bald faced truth.
"We have been brothers in arms for years."
"I should'a guessed! Ya'll lookin' so military like. Active duty or retired?"
"Um," Dean said, trying to get his tablemate's attention as their order taker looked between the two of them. Probably searching for silver hairs and laugh lines.
"We come when we are needed."
"Oh, active reserve? Well that's just fine. We offer military discounts all year round, so if nothin' else; the coffee is on the house."
"Thank you. That is generous." Dean watched Cas say it as if there wasn't a thing wrong with the way the conversation had turned out. As if he hadn't just shared deeply intimate information with a complete stranger.
"Naw. What's generous," Ruth started, shifting her weight more to one leg, "is the free refills. And the portions- So tell me, Sarge, what'll it be?"
Dean, rather caught off guard by the sudden nickname and flourish of Ruth's pen, fumbled the menu he'd been about to open and said the first full sentence that came to mind.
"I'll have same thing he's havin'." Complete with a thumb jabbed in Cas's direction.
"Alrighty, boys, this'll be up in two shakes. Anythin' else I can get you?"
"We'll be ordering an additional meal to go before we leave. His brother eats proportionally to his size, which is substantial."
The one sporting the tidy bun looked to Dean for confirmation and bust out in a snorting laugh when he put one flat hand on the top of his head and moved it an exaggerated eight inches higher.
"Well, good to know gigantism runs in the family! I'll get yer coffees to start ya'll off." With that, she walked off to put their order in, leaving one menu on the table presumably in case they still needed it for the take out.
Dean picked it up and began perusing the Daily Specials and Chef's Specials before moving on to the beverage page. Glancing up briefly when the establishment's lone waitress dropped off their 'blacker'n tar' brews.
"Would you recommend I add copious amounts of cream and sugar to this... coffee? Bitter is not my favorite flavor," Dean heard Cas ask as he flipped to the Salads and Soups section.
"If there's room in the cup."
"There is, but... she didn't leave any cream and sugar on the table," said a Cas starting to sound just a little bit lost.
"Must've thought a couple'a big 'army guys' like us wouldn't want any." Dean mumbled as he read what came in the Famous Chicken Caesar. Wondering if they should order that for Sam as he listened to the sounds of Cas turning this way and that in his booth seat. Then to the merry sounds of Ruth greeting what was either a couple of horses, or a group of no fewer than four people in hard heeled boots coming in to grab some dinner. Noisy enough to go either way, you asked him.
"...I found some on the table behind ours," said Cas, followed closely by the sound of either sand or diner sugar being poured liberally into a mug.
Dean glanced up to make sure Cas wasn't making a grave mistake, then went back to the picture of a grilled cheese sandwich next to the Best Tomato Soup In The County. Voted Three Years Running.
"Awesome," came Dean's belated reply. Right before the sound of a ridiculous amount of creamer being added to the cup o' joe filled the booth. Right as Ruth was walking near to fill the drink order of the new group seated just out of view.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I brought ya the dark roast without even askin'. You want somethin' lighter, Sweety?"
"Thank you, but I think I've figured it out. It's perfectly fine."
"Alrighty then," she said, swinging the corner into the kitchen area.
Wasn't long until she zipped past laden down with drinks, came back through to the kitchen with an empty tray, and once more presented herself at their table.
"Here's yer burgers, and an order of fries we ain't gon' charge you for." Dean looked up when she set down their food and leaned in like earlier, ready to share another diner secret.
"Patty says they'd been sittin' under the lamp long as they could, so best give 'em to our boys in blue before we gotta chuck 'em." She straightened and crossed her arms. "Didn't have the heart to tell her ya'll're army, not police." She shook her head while pursing out an amused smile.
"Uh, I'm sure they'll be appreciated," Cas assured, rather distracted as he worked on picking up his hamburger.
"No problem. Just let me know ya'll need anything!" And with that, she went to check back on her other table.
"I doubt I will be needing another. This is the largest hamburger I have ever seen," Cas said, a hint of wonder prompting Dean to tear his gaze from the amateur photo gallery of a decent selection of mouth watering pies.
"Yep." Those were big burgers alright.
"The most delicious too," Cas said around what must have been a bite as big as your average adult's fist. Judging by how hard it was for Dean to parse the words.
"Hm," Dean hummed in response. Listening to a giant mouthful being chewed and summarily swallowed. Then to the surprising sound of the reportedly delicious burger being placed back on its plate.
"Dean, are you ignoring me?" Asked an angel who definitely sounded a little lost.
"What makes you think that?" Dean asked, casual as ever.
"You have not looked at me since we placed our order."
"'M reading the menu. For Sam," came the perfectly reasoned response.
"While that is thoughtful, I do believe the point of an exclusive activity such as this is to spend time together and make attempts at getting to know more about-"
"Is telling details about your love life to everything that breathes on that itinerary?" Dean asked, tone flat. Still studying the last page of pictures.
"Ah. You feel I should not have told our server the details of our... 'love life'?" Cas asked, sounding as if he thought Dean was being a bit ridiculous.
"You are embarrassed?"
At that, Dean closed the menu, made eye contact with the guy who hadn't so much as touched his abomination of a cup of coffee, and pushed the ordering aide to the farthest edge of the table.
"I couldn't be embarrassed about us if I tried." Came out with a little bite around the edges, which he hadn't meant it to, so he reigned it in for the next bit. "I... I just-" Dean let out a low breath and scrubbed a hand across his face. "You never know how someone's gonna react to that kinda thing. It's like opening with, 'Monsters are real and I kill them for a living.' Not the best idea."
Dean watched as Cas picked up his coffee, took a sip, cringed, set the cup back down and slid it to keep the unwanted menu company, then swept his eyes back up to meet his.
"You liken us," Cas indicated the both of them, "what we have, to something monstrous? The kind of thing even we would prefer not to talk about?"
Dean felt his mouth go dry.
"Our joy was a long time in coming. Joy is meant to be shared. Tell me, Dean," Cas said, shifting closer on his bench until his knees touched the other set under the table. "What are you worried about?"
When all Dean did was give the black coffee in the mug by his own elbow a hard look, Cas sighed.
"Truly, Dean," the angel insisted, setting an arm on the table to match his not date's and slowly sliding it across. "What is the worst that could happen?" To punctuate the question, a worn human hand was taken in a gentle, slightly burger greased one.
Dean couldn't help the involuntary bunch of his fingers, nor the reflexive glance around their side of the diner, at the contact.
"There is no one here to see us," Cas reassured, gripping just a little firmer.
"I've-" Dean cleared his throat, gazing with what he hoped wasn't an open longing look, but what sure as hell felt like one, at the pair of hands on the table.
He swallowed and looked his real life date in the eye. "I've met a lot of people, over the years, who'd sooner call you out back for an ass whoopin' than watch you hold hands with the 'wrong person'."
"Would they then cordially solicit sex while in the anonymity of the 'out back'?" Cas asked, steady hand once again gripping with a gentle reassurance. Then, to the question Dean felt all over his own face, Cas explained, "I have heard that many of those most violently opposed to gay relationships are themselves living a painful, often self-imposed, closeted life."
Dean couldn't help the derisive chuckle, even as he knew he could never begrudge Cas his optimistic nature.
He looked back at their hands, slotted together in a way that felt scarily right, before bursting Cas's bubble. "If that's what they were after, they wouldn't ask nicely."
Dean felt the entire booth twitch as its other occupant realized the implication.
"Yeah. 'Think if they only ever take by force, then they're just putting folks in their place. Don't have to admit to themselves that they want what the other guy has..." After a pause, Dean added, "Plus, they're plain twisted to begin with."
"To do something so base? Twisted would only be the beginning." Cas leaned closer across the tabletop. "Why have I not heard of-"
"Doesn't really get talked about," Dean said with a shrug. "Nobody wants to admit that anybody could be taken advantage of. Would harsh their mellow." Dean picked up his extra-black coffee in his free hand and took a big sip, glad that it had cooled enough to not burn. Also glad that he enjoyed coffee in all its varied forms and preparations, 'cause this one was really dark.
"...Has this happened to-"
"Naw. Just: You see a few things, hear a few things," Dean shrugged, "'few close calls. You learn to play things close to the vest."
"Dean, that sounds awful."
"Yeah, well, good thing Papa John taught his kids to fight young." When the word play seemed lost on Cas, Dean cleared his throat. "That's how it goes. For some. All across the US of A and probably most other-" he cut himself off when he felt a third hand join the two on the table and looked up to find his paw being rearranged for sandwiching between both belonging to the guy pushing a set of knees flusher against his.
When Dean looked into the face across the table, he was struck by the caring sincerity in those nearly human eyes.
"I'm sorry for what you've seen and what you've lived through. I truly am, and I'll always be here if you need to talk. So will Sam." Dean felt his mouth quirk in a half smile at that. "I must also inform you that that harrowing description is one of how it used to go, Dean. The world has changed. Enough so that this," Cas said, drawing attention to the clasped hands in the middle of their table, "is no longer seen as something monstrous."
They stared at each other until the approach of strange feet sounded from around the corner, to which Dean blushed and made a reluctant, halfhearted attempt to take his hand back.
"It's alright," he saw Cas mouth.
Anticipating their being seen, Dean held his breath and forced his eyes to stay open. Ready for anything.
A set of those hard boots he'd heard enter earlier rounded the corner and would have gone straight past them if Cas hadn't opened his mouth and asked a question.
"Excuse me, Mam?"
"Yeah?" Said the tall blonde in full motorcycle enthusiast regalia. Pausing in all politeness but looking like she had somewhere important she needed to be.
"Does seeing this make you uncomfortable?" Cas asked, indicating where his hands had Dean's trapped between them. Out in the open.
She gave the sight a moment's consideration, then addressed Cas with a rather amused expression. "No."
"I see. Thank you."
"No prob," she said, continuing on her way to... the bathroom, as it turned out.
When Dean looked back to Cas, there was a muted smile waiting for him that warmed his nervous heart.
"See? 'No prob'. She is but one example of the changing times."
"Exactly. Just one," Dean said, pointing out the hole in that line of logic. Allowing himself to feel comforted by the observation regardless. And by the grip his hand was still caught in. "Who knows what any of her friends think, or her parents, or-"
"Dean," Castiel interrupted. Smile widening. "What's the worst that could happen?" He asked, leaning a hair closer across the table. "I'm an Angel."
At the ridiculous raising of an angelic eyebrow, neither of them could hold in a good chortle. By the end of which, Dean felt his shoulders drop, relaxing better than they had since he'd gotten behind the wheel. Then, when an out of control flushing sounded and Boots exited the lone bathroom, they only rode back up about half what he would have expected.
His hand didn't try to escape that time.
"Have a nice date," the one in the black and gold, reinforced jacket said as she made her way back towards her party's table.
"Yeah, thanks," Dean said, watching her disappear around the corner. Feeling Cas's eyes on the side of his head, he set his own front again and almost laughed when he saw the proud look beaming back at him.
Clearing his throat, Dean involuntarily ducked his head and wrapped his loose hand around his still warm cup of coffee. "Okay, you win. Faith in humanity restored; I'm starving, and I heard this place makes a mean burger." He flicked his gaze up in time to see the smile.
"I believe the adjective I used was 'Delicious'."
"Ah. Well, I sit corrected."
"Heh. Would you like to try yours?" Cas asked, giving the hand sandwich a squeeze.
"With that recommendation?"
"Hm. Then let's dig in," Cas suggested, surrendering one sandwich for another he'd all but forgotten minutes earlier.
"Somethin' wrong with the food, boys?" Asked their busy server, pushing her way through the kitchen door, tray absolutely lousy with plates and food, just as her first table was swallowing what appeared to be their first bites.
"No, thank you, Ruth. These are delicious," Cas said, glancing at Dean for confirmation.
Dean blinked at him once, then wiped the back of one hand across his mouth to be sure he was decent, and turned in his booth seat towards the intrepid hostess. "What he said. We were just busy holding hands for a while there." It was Cas's turn to churn out an incredulous expression and Dean had to admit, it was a good look on him. Especially when it started softening around the edges and crinkled at the corners of his eyes.
"Well, don't stop on account of me. Enjoy an' lemme know if ya'll need anything!" And she was gone and Cas was still staring at him.
"Guess you were right. 'Earth didn't open up and swallow us whole. Sky isn't falling."
"I think she likes us," Cas opined, right before inhaling another inhumanly large mouthful of his hamburger.
"I bet she'll like us more if these burgers are gone when she comes back," Dean said, raising both eyebrows.
"Is that a challenge?" Came the barely decipherable question.
"Only if you want it to be."
Cas swallowed, face tinged with a hint of regret. "...I have a head start."
"I have more experience eating."
"In that case: You're on," the last words spoken before two civilized individuals got grease and ketchup all over.
Upon returning from a quick bathroom break of his own, largely to clean the ridiculous ketchup smeared on himself and have a clandestine place to lick that dollop off his collar, Dean saw their waitress walking off with a smile on her face and their other menu in hand.
"Huh?" The all encompassing question he asked, taking his seat and gesturing after the direction Ruth'd just disappeared.
"I ordered for Sam. And I ordered dessert. Dutch Apple a la mode." Dean's eyes went wide as the words registered.
"Don't worry; he'll like it." Cas assured. "It's rabbit food." After a short pause the Angel waited for his not date to fill, he continued. Just a touch of sheepishness changing his posture. "I saw you linger on the Pie Selection and I know you like ice-"
"I love you." Dean blurted, the words hanging between them with almost a ringing quality. Dean's eyes growing all the wider when he realized what he'd just said. Out loud. In public.
Before Dean could do anything drastic, like go hide in the Impala, Cas got his attention by pushing his knees against his tablemate's once again, and whispered, "I love you too, Dean."
A soft clack broke the momentary trance and Dean looked up to see Ruth, their waitress, setting a few napkins folded around some silverware to one side of a solitary, generous slice of mouthwatering pie. The ice cream on top just beginning to show signs of milky sweat beading along its dome.
"Here ya go, one house special! 'Hope yer brother enjoys his dinner like I know ya'll're gonna like this. He in the service too?"
After a short period of sitting there looking slightly dazed, Cas popped his mouth open and gave the nice lady the information she'd requested. "Yes. We three are all servants of the-"
"Good ol' US of A! Yep, that's us," Dean cut in with the cover before anything that might get them to rethink eating there again could be said.
"Good. 'Cause I told Patty he was an' that he ate like the giant he is and I don't like knowing I been tellin' tall tales. His food'll be ready right off. Enjoy!" And Ruth disappeared into the bowels of the diner's kitchen yet again.
When Dean looked back from the final tremble of the shutting door, his tablemate gestured toward the plate between them. "I thought, after such large hamburgers, we might share dessert," said Cas, the sheepishness returning.
"Hey, she brought us two forks; we don't got a choice," Dean observed. The wink at the end doing wonders to improve Cas's self esteem.
"Yes. Woe are we who have no other choice," Cas said, picking up the fork that Dean slid towards him.
"Woah, Cas. No need to bring The Bard into this booth. We're unlucky enough as it is." With that, there was a good amount of snickering through until every crumb of pie was gone and, since no one was around to see it anyway, fingers had been used to swipe the plate clean of melted vanilla ice cream.
Good thing Dean'd washed his hands while he had the chance.
"Well, well. I ain't had anybody lick the plate clean in a while!" Ruth smiled at the 'hand in the cookie jar' looks trying to hide themselves in the booth. "'Round here, we take it as a compliment, so I'll pass it along to Patty. Here's the food fer your brother, and here's the check. Coffee and fries on the house," she said with a good natured wink. Setting the items at the edge of the table for anyone to grab at their leisure.
"Just lemme know when ya'll're-"
"We all are ready now," Cas informed, before snatching up the check and almost overturning the booth table in his mad dash to be the first to stand.
Especially impressive considering the table was bolted to the floor.
"Alright then, Eager Beaver, follow me," said the all stations diner employee who really wasn't anywhere near as freaked as she had every right to be. She in fact, looked rather endeared by Cas and his... unique nature.
Dean scratched his head as he watched the two hurry off with the check, took a moment to push all the dishes to one side of the table for easier bussing, and picked up the to-go bag, musing that just maybe Cas had been right: Maybe Ruth did like them. Huh.
"-heard that paying is a powerfully romantic gesture. Hence my haste," Dean heard Cas saying as he took the corner and brought the cash register and the two very interesting people on either side of it into view.
"Well, I'd say, keep up the good work. 'Cause Sarge is lookin' e'en happier now'n when ya'll walked in," Ruth said in her patented stage whisper, leaning over the register toward Cas.
Snatching a glance over at a Dean making slow work of walking over, and who was pretending to not be listening, Cas copied Ruth's posture and said, "I appreciate your input. The subtleties of human interaction are often lost on me."
Both parties retook completely normal stances and the hostess handed Cas his change just as Dean reached them.
"Y'know, my daughter's always sayin' purdy much the same old thang you did just now?"
"I did not know that," said a Cas who looked as if he'd missed something important. "Who is your daughter?"
"Oh, nobody you'd know, but I do have a picture of her right here," Ruth said, lips quirking as she pulled out a no less than five year old smartphone, which she gave a little shake. "She gave this to me so's we could text."
"That was very thoughtful of her."
"Yeah, sounds like a sweet kid," Dean threw in.
"Oh, she is just the sweetest," she said, waiting for the phone to turn on and display a rest screen. "Here we go! Aaand here's the one. It's a picture of her at her weddin', all dolled up and lookin' fine. Wouldn't ya say?" Ruth asked as she turned the screen to face her guests. A beaming, younger version of herself obvious at the center of a charming beach ceremony.
"Is that the west coast?" Dean found himself asking. Seeing as no one was wearing a coat. And half of them no shoes.
"Yeah, she moved out to 'Frisco to go to school and ended up gettin' hitched right after college."
"Is the smiling one by her side her wife?" Cas asked around a fond smile. Dean had to double take at the little phone display at that.
"Yep. My sweetie found love and she's not lettin' go." Ruth turned the phone back around so she could see the picture. "'Course, she doesn't visit much neither," she added before turning the device off and stuffing it down a handy pocket.
"Your daughter, and someone else's daughter-"
"Look radiant together." Cas cut in, sensing Dean's shock. "We wish them, and you, all the happiness life can provide."
"Yeah. Absolutely," Dean managed. Soon as he blinked some sense back into his brain.
"Aw, ya'll are kind. Thank you. And same to you too. 'Hope yer brother likes the food!"
And with a wave Ruth was bustling her way back across the diner to tend to her group of four. Dean and Cas turning to see themselves out and back to the Impala, that loyal four wheeler who'd waited patiently for the two of them to finish inside.
They put the take away by Cas's feet, shut the doors, and got back on the highway. This time taking their first drive home from a not date, instead of to one.
Much less to be nervous about. Especially since they'd already had their first kiss. And no one was being dropped off. So there was no need for a 'goodbye'.
"I liked the food. I could see eating there again," Dean said. The first one to break up the hum of tires against a well maintained roadway.
"I too would enjoy a return visit."
"...Thanks, Cas," Dean started, fingers pinching the wheel just a bit when he felt eyes on him. "For... walking me through it and," he wetted his lips and sucked in a breath, "for holdin' my hand."
"You're welcome," came the soft reply. "I am only sorry the experience was as worrying for you as it was."
"Very." Said by a passenger who sounded like he wanted to keep things serious. Or perhaps didn't get that the driver was joking. Either way.
Dean cleared his throat, the closest noise to an acceptance he could make. It seemed to satisfy his not date, because the one trying to be nice to the steering wheel saw shotgun's head nod.
"I also wish to thank you, Dean. For taking me on this... excursion. And for putting up with my social inadequacies."
Dean tore his eyes from the straight shot of clear driving laid out in front of them and stuck Cas with a firm look, hoping it came across as reassuring.
"You're not 'inadequate'. Don't let folks make you feel that way. You're Cas the flippin' Angel. You're Perfect. You've always been."
After a beat wherein Dean thought he might've seen the beginning of an angelic blush, he put his eyes front again. Just in time to take the slight bend in the road smoothly.
After a few seconds, he started hoping he hadn't overstepped some unspoken boundary or Holy self-depreciation clause or-
"Dean, pull over," came a request in a voice huskier than it'd been all evening.
"What? Why?" Dean asked, confused and slightly concerned.
"Because, there's something I need to do and I don't want Baby getting hurt."
"Say no more," Dean said as he pulled to a smooth stop. Soon as the shoulder widened at the edge of city limits.
"What's up?" He asked as he set the gear to park and cut off the engine. Flinching when he turned to look at Cas and found him sitting bare inches from him on the bench, eyes shrouded by the shadow the ceiling threw over the interior.
"I want to feel your heart. May I?"
"My heart? Why the heck? Where'd that come from?"
"As close as we've been over the years, there has been very little physical contact between us. Your body is not known to me as 'my body'... wishes it to be." As Dean peered through the gloom, his view of a warm gaze sharpened just as the eyes giving it did. "I want to feel your heart beat in your rib cage. The pounding of it against the bones of my hand. I-"
"Whoa, hang on there. You just wanna touch my chest, not like, reach inside and give the sucker a massage, right? 'Cause this all sounds kinda intense."
"Though I could do that were it necessary, you are correct. All I want is to put my hand against your chest and listen to your heart."
Dean gave the notion a half second's thought before nodding. "Knock yourself out." Then he sat back against the bench and pulled the fronts of his jacket and over shirt back. Giving Cas an unobstructed view of his target. Suppressing a shiver when he felt fingertips ghosting across his pectorals, searching out the steady thump they'd come looking for.
He did shiver when he realized it was the same hand that had first held his earlier, unabashed in the broad light of a strange diner.
The roaming stopped and the fingers spread out to allow a palm room to come to rest, right above his ticker. Dean told himself to just keep breathing and that this couldn't be nearly as sensual, nor as funny as it felt.
...Naw, he needed to say it. Too good an opportunity to pass up.
"Y'know, this is basically second base right here." To the questioning look, he explained. "You fondling my chest? Me letting you? Nice ride. Sounds like the steamy climax to a hot night out, you ask me," Dean chuckled, contemplating the ceiling liner as Cas rearranged his hand more toward the center of his chest.
He wondered to himself whether Cas could tell his pulse was elevated by the close quarters contact. Not sure the guy's ever taken note of his natural resting pulse.
"...Would you like a steamy climax to this 'hot night out'?" Dean looked down to where Cas had plucked at the hem of his under shirt with his free hand. Digits poised as if eager to snake under and up his shirt; just waiting for the word.
Dean felt his pulse tick up another notch as the air caught somewhere between his lungs and the hand warming his chest. He licked his lips before asking, "Would you?"
Cas nuzzled closer and breathed his answer right next to the driver's ear. "Nothing would please me better."
"Well, in that case," Dean said, affecting a shrug.
Before Cas had the chance to decipher his meaning, Dean brought his close arm up and wound it around the Angel next to him on the front seat, pulling him closer even than they'd been in the armory.
From there, their lips found each other's and that inquisitive hand tickled Dean's stomach as it passed on its way to feel his heart, this time from underneath the pesky shirt.
Dean found one of his own hands doing a little recon along the ribs, spine, then shoulders of the body held close to his. The shirt over them being fully and securely tucked under a cinched belt doing nothing to dampen his mood as the taste of cinnamon and vanilla on Cas's lips reminded him of the dessert they'd split after dinner. On their first date.
Cas must have used a little angel voodoo to pull the seat lever, because without either of them breaking up the mood, the bench made a smooth slide as far back as it went and clicked in place. Leaving the slightly more compact of the two of them just room enough to pull himself up and over. One knee on either side of a hunter whose internal temperature rose a few degrees when he realized he was being straddled.
Barely finding the breath for it, Dean opened his mouth and whispered, "Save a horse." Surprised to a giggle when the weight nestling carefully over his lap quipped back:
"Ride a cowboy."
From this new vantage, Cas had to contort his neck in strange ways to steal the next kiss from his cowboy, but the way their chests brushed together, and the sound of a low, breathless moan from the back of a throat Cas loved being this close to, made it very worth the trouble.
The two jolted apart at the sound of a horn going off, Dean relinquishing a hand from where he had it clawed into a well formed shoulder blade to reach for his gun.
A quick check out the windows proved there were still no other cars within sight. So that left...
"Cas, was that your ass?"
"That was indeed my ass," managed the guy with the best seat in the house, right before he broke out in a peal of self deprecating laughter. Hands still bunched in and under the cotton of Dean's undershirt. "My apologies. To you and the local wildlife."
"We spook a squirrel?" Dean asked, sparing another glance out the passenger side windows. Toward the tree line. Where he saw absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
"Among other things. The poor rodent fell right out of the tree," Cas informed, sounding as if he could barely get the words out around the chuckles he probably wasn't aware were making the whole Impala tremble.
Figuring now was as good a time as any for a semi-serious conversation, Dean moved the hand he had resting on the seat's leather, near his gun, and snaked it back where he'd been kneading his nails through the back panel of a button down. Under a trench coat it hadn't crossed his mind to help his lap guest remove.
"Hey, uh, you know the baseball euphemism for... what we were just doing? First base, second base, third base, etc.?"
"Huh. Yes I do," said a Cas who sounded surprised by his own knowledge base. "You mentioned earlier that we had 'fondled' our way onto second base?"
"Right. And y'know how we've kept this 'hot climax' above the waist?"
"Tasteful yet raunchy? PG-13 yet maddeningly sensual?"
"Heh. Yeah. That." Dean couldn't help the chuckle. Especially knowing Cas would feel it through his frame; still hunched over, trying to keep from banging his head into the ceiling as he straddled the driver.
"This is perfect. Feels natural," he said, nudging his head higher to nuzzle his nose against Cas's. Loving the way the small, personal contact made his lap sitter shudder ever so slightly closer. "Like this is our pace and we don't gotta force anything."
After a pause in which Dean felt a forehead rested with care against his, Cas moved a hand from where he'd had it snaked up under a well worn shirt, exploring a chest he'd admitted wanting to get to know better, and laid it along a jaw he'd also been having fun exploring. "I've heard romances can be more fulfilling when not rushed. Though," he leaned back just a little, to give his shiny new seat a better view of his expression, a conspiratorial glint in his eyes, "if you want to play shortstop, you're welcome to field my ass from running afoul of your steering wheel again."
Slowly moving the hand from that inviting shoulder blade, Dean cocked his head to make sure Cas was serious, and copped himself a feel of some high quality dress pants and a rump he could only describe as, "One sweet ass you got on you." When the little squeeze he gave to emphasize his meaning surprised an unsuspecting tuchus into a forward jolt, he felt the breath whooshed out of him by a crotch to the navel.
Dean also felt, rather than heard, the impact of a head colliding with a heavy duty ceiling.
"Sensitive too," he gasped out, soon as his diaphragm would let him pull a lungful back in.
"Apologies," Cas said, giving the top of his own head a rub. "It surprised me."
"Well, I'd apologize, but a gentleman never refuses an invitation."
"No, it was pleasurable. Up until the bump," Cas said, resettling and letting the hand slide off his head.
"You can say that again," Dean said, brushing a sultry nose against Cas's once again. Loving the shudder it got him.
"Yes. I could. But I think I'd prefer not to repeat the unpleasant part."
"Heh. How 'bout the part leading up to that?" Dean asked, lolling his head back just enough to rest it on the bench's pseudo headrest.
"That deserves repeating," Cas said as Dean watched him put one hand against the ceiling to keep track of exactly where it was, and the other back up the front of his rumpled under shirt.
"We look ridiculous. Sam will notice our... zeal," said a disheveled Angel standing not ten feet from the bunker door. A hand on Dean's shoulder, keeping him from doing anything rash. Like opening the front door.
"Naw. I got enough practice with this sort of thing. Here; let me," Dean asked, setting down the take out and motioning for Cas to lower his head.
Rearranging a mop of hair that wasn't usually all that calm to begin with, Dean noticed his... not date being extremely quiet beneath his hands.
"No." That was a pretty short answer.
"Y'sure?" Dean checked, moving on to smoothing out the front of a rumpled shirt and the lapels of the familiar tan trench coat. "'Cause I'm all ears."
"...When you say you have 'practice' with this sort of thing, what do you mean?" Dean bit the inside of his mouth at what had to be a hint of jealousy in the halting question. 'Cause, while he sure as hell hadn't mean to cause such emotion, and had no plans of doing so again, it was touching to know that Cas cared enough to feel it.
"'Have a lot of experience hiding things from my kid brother," Dean said, with as reassuring a rumble as he could manage.
"Oh. Not... steamy make out sessions with appropriately aged singles?" The Angel peeked up at him from under a once again completely normal looking brunet fringe. "After hamburgers?"
"Well," Dean searched for a wording he wouldn't kick himself for later. "Back before we met, I was a wild child. Got up to a lot of mischief, probably made a few mistakes, earned a little wisdom along the way."
"Like the importance of contraceptives and personal protection against infection and transmittable diseases?"
"Weirdly enough, I learned those things in sex ed. High school was good for somethin' after all." Dean said, moving on to fixing his own hair and clothes. Stopping when he felt a warm hand cover his near his upturned shirt collar.
"Allow me. It's the least I can do," said alongside an expression he couldn't possibly say no to. So Dean lowered his arms and tried his best to stand still as he was fussed over same as he'd just done to the guy doing the fussing.
Collar and every extracurricular wrinkle fixed, the one time professional rolling stone grinned a tiny grin and offered a quiet, "Thanks, Cas."
Stepping back to admire his hard work, Castiel offered, "As a form of bonding and open affection, primates of every order will groom their familial group members."
"Huh. Well, thanks for the open affection?"
"And thank you for the bonding experience. Here, at the diner, and..." Dean tracked Cas's slightly distracted gaze to the parked shadow of his most prized possession. "In your Baby."
Feeling his cheeks threatening to heat, Dean picked the takeaway off the ground where he'd set it well within the five minute rule guidelines ago, and said in as level a voice as he could, "You're welcome. We'll have to do it again."
"Which part?" Asked a date mate falling in beside Dean on a beeline for the bunker door. "Dinner? A drive? The not driving?"
Dean chuckled, one hand holding his copy of an ancient key and undoing the lock. "All of it."
A gentle hand on his forearm stopped Dean opening the door and he turned to Cas, leaving the air open for his date to say or ask what was on his mind.
"Mph!" Nope. Dean was still the first to make a sound. But he cut himself some slack, considering the surprise nature of the kiss he'd been caught with.
"You're supposed to share a kiss when returning home from such a social outing, or am I mistaken?" Cas asked, seeming confused by the sound Dean had made.
"I got no idea where you dug up these sources of yours, but I like what yer hearin' from 'em," Dean informed in a low voice meant only for the guy who'd just kissed him.
Cas smiled, averting his eyes for a moment of self consciousness, before he brought himself up to his full height and, slow as dripping tar, pushed himself up against Dean, and Dean back against the bunker door.
Pinned. Unsure what might be expected of him, Dean stayed still and watched as Cas brought his head closer and closer. About the time he felt the back of his own go flush to the door, he realized there was a hand against his chest. Right above his heart.
Cas looked straight into his eyes, and Dean couldn't help but close them when he felt a nose nuzzle itself right against his. A pair of lips ghosting against his. A warm puff of breath making them tingle.
"My 'sources' also say, 'Always leave them wanting more.'" And like that, Dean was left leaning against a door all by his lonesome. Watching as Cas took a good step and a half back to smirk at him.
Whatever Cas was pulling, it was working. 'Cause Dean was sure as hell left wanting more.
"Changed my mind," he said, flipping around to paw at the door handle, "your sources are turning you into a damn tease."
"They say that's a compliment," Cas whispered, from very close behind.
Dean shivered, bunker door handle halfway turned, and responded, "Oh, it's a compliment all right."
"Good. As it turns out, I like those," Cas said, brushing a hand across Dean's shoulders in a fond gesture. Probably smoothing some phantom reminder of their recent... activities.
"Yeah? Well, better get used to 'em."
"Is that a threat?" Cas mumbled, voice not an ounce serious.
"'Promise," Dean informed.
"I look forward to getting used to it." Dean did his best to let the purr running through the flirtation roll off him and retightened his grip on the doorknob.
"Tease." He complimented. Then, hoping his lips didn't look overused, Dean opened the door and invited his brother over for dinner. "Yo, Sam! Food's up!"
Wow. Looks like Dean had a really good reason to look excited when he got home. Who'd'a thunk?
Hope ya'll've enjoyed the story! If they're happens to be a fifth chapter, you'll certainly be the first to know, but for now, this should mark the conclusion of this wild ride!
Have a great winter!