Actions

Work Header

Shall We Dance?

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester had no idea why he'd agreed to do this. 

Sure, when Bobby had first mentioned it - right before his shift was due to start at Shots Fired, Bobby and Ellen's cocktail bar - it had seemed like a great idea. Go to some rich couple's wedding, serve drinks, set some alcohol on fire, put on a show... It sounded fun. Throw in a larger-than-normal paycheck and a free vacation to North Carolina with his brother and best friends, and it was a done deal. 

Then the other shoe had dropped. 

The bride, socialite Anna Milton, was a big fan of Shots Fired and its famous flair bartending displays. As a result, she and her fiancé, Michael Novak, had insisted on flying their specially-hired bartenders out first class to thank them for their service. When Bobby had told them, Sam, Charlie, Jo and Benny had been thrilled - after all, first class meant better food, free alcohol, and best of all (according to Sam), extra leg room. 

For Dean, it simply meant travelling in a metal death-trap in a slightly more comfortable seat than normal. Not that there was anything normal about flying. He didn't give a crap about eating fancy food and stretching his legs when the plane might drop out of the sky and kill them at any minute. 

He'd offered to drive everyone there instead, but they'd all adamantly refused. Apparently they'd rather risk their necks in the air than squash into Dean's car for the thirteen or fourteen hours it took to drive from Kansas City to the estate in North Carolina. He wasn't sure how to take that. His driving was way safer than flying, even if he did run the occasional red light. 

When he'd tried to explain this, Sam had told him to stop being such a whiney girl, then Charlie had hidden his car keys and Jo had practically frog-marched him to Benny's car, which was waiting to take them to the airport. Ellen and Sam's wife, Jess, had just stood there laughing, and Bobby had rolled his eyes and called him an idjit. Dean hated them all. 

The flight had been every bit as bad as he'd predicted - even with the free alcohol - and once they'd landed, it had taken a full thirty minutes for his legs to stop shaking. Sam, Charlie, and Jo were too excited about the smartly-dressed woman holding a sign with their names on to notice, but at least Benny was decent enough to give him a drink of water and a somewhat sympathetic look. 

"Just think of the money, brother," he said as they followed the woman - Hester, apparently - out of the airport. "The money, and the free vacation." 

Dean groaned. "All I can think about is that I'll have to go through all that crap again when we go home." 

"Dean, you'll be fine," Sam assured him, dropping back from the two excited girls. "It wasn't so bad coming out here, was it?" Dean shot him a glare, which Sam ignored. "Besides, you were really keen on doing this wedding. Rich women, alcohol, a romantically charged atmosphere… Isn't that like your personal Heaven?" 

"Shut up, Sammy," Dean sighed. "I'll be fine once I've had a whiskey or three." 

"That's the spirit," Benny said, slapping Dean on the back. 

Hester stopped by a large black car with tinted windows, and Dean raised his eyebrows. They were going to be driven to the estate in a limo? How much money did these people have? Sure, Anna was a high-society socialite and her fiancé was a billionaire business owner, but still, he'd been expecting a couple cabs or something similar. No-one hired a goddamn limo just to ferry some bartenders to and from the airport. 

Not that Dean was about to complain. While it was nothing compared to his baby, it was still a pretty awesome car, and definitely a thousand times better than that fucking plane. He piled into the limo with the others, elbowing Sam out the way for good measure, and settled back in the amazingly comfortable leather seats before the car pulled out onto the road. 

It only took a couple hours to drive to the estate and Hester took up most of the time by telling them what was going to be happening when they got there. They would be staying at a four-star hotel on the estate - much to Charlie and Jo's excitement - and the wedding itself would be held the following day, in the historic house in the heart of the grounds. Apparently a large team of people had been hard at work for most of the week to make sure everything was in order; Dean, Sam, Charlie, Jo and Benny would be coming in right at the end of the preparations.  

The bar they would be working at during the reception had been constructed just that afternoon, and their main job for today would be to check that everything was where they needed it to be. All the alcohol and other things they would need had been ordered and delivered, though Hester also said that if they needed anything else at the last minute, someone would be on hand to get it for them. Dean wondered how ridiculous their requests could get before someone put their foot down. 

It was early evening by the time they arrived at the estate, and as the car pulled onto a long gravel driveway, Dean couldn't help staring at the huge building they were approaching. If the others' expressions were anything to go by, he was probably doing a rather unflattering impression of a fish. He couldn't help it, though; the place was stunning. With its four stories of creamy limestone, steep slate roof, turrets, sculptures, immaculate lawn, and wide fountain, the place looked more like a French palace than a house. 

"Woah…" Sam murmured, trying to shove Dean out the way so he could get a better look from the car's window. 

"Is that really where the wedding's going to be?" Charlie asked, turning briefly to Hester, who had been reading something on her cell phone. 

Hester smiled. "Yes. The ceremony itself will be held here, on the front lawn, and the reception will be out on the southern terrace. That's where you'll be stationed." 

At least it was good weather, Dean thought as the limo stopped outside the house and they all got out of the car, still staring up at the building. Now they were closer, they could see the detailed statuettes and carvings that adorned the walls. It was almost unnecessarily elaborate. Almost. 

Hester led the way into the house, and Dean nearly tripped over Jo when she stopped to get a better look at the entrance hall. 

"Eyeing up a potential future home, Jo?" he teased. 

"Shut it, Winchester," Jo retorted, smacking his arm. "I'd need to marry into a bit of money before I could get a place like this." 

"Hitting people won't get you very far," Dean said with a grin. "I think rich guys prefer ladies with manners. And elegance." 

Jo snorted. "That puts you out the picture, then." 

"Says the princess herself," Dean shot back. 

"Oi, bitches! If you keep that up, we'll leave you behind!" Charlie called, and Dean belatedly realised that she, Sam and Benny had continued following Hester through the house. He and Jo hurried to catch up before they lost the others round a corner. 

Hester led them through a maze of decorated hallways, then finally onto the southern terrace where a bunch of people were bustling about under a huge white tent that was really way too fancy to be called a tent. Circular dining tables had been set up, all draped with delicate-looking white and gold tablecloths; stands were being arranged around the edge of the space, ready to support numerous floral arrangements; a large space at one end of the tent was being turned into a dance floor, complete with a decorated stage for the band. 

"Here's where you'll be working," Hester announced, gesturing to a long bar to one side of the dance floor. 

Dean blinked and stared at it. There was no way that thing was only temporary. It looked almost identical to the one they normally worked behind back at Shots Fired - only with a different colour scheme. 

"Please go ahead and check that everything you need is there," Hester said, gesturing towards the bar. "If there's anything missing, or if you need something changed, just let me know and we can have it sorted for tomorrow." 

"Will do, ma'am," Benny replied. 

Hester smiled, then disappeared off into the crowd of other people, seemingly searching for someone. 

"Dude, check this out!" Dean said excitedly, already taking a look behind the bar. "They've got practically a whole liquor store back here!" 

"How much are these people going to drink?" Sam asked incredulously as he joined his brother at the ridiculously well-stocked cabinets of alcohol. "They want to remember the wedding, right?" 

Dean shrugged. "Some people might want to forget it," he said. "There's got to be some jealous guys coming, right? I mean, Anna's pretty hot." 

"Michael's not bad either," Jo chimed in. 

"Dean still reckons Anna flirted with him last time she came to the bar," Sam remarked slyly, making the others snort with laughter. 

"She did, okay?" Dean insisted. "She winked at me." 

Charlie whistled sarcastically. "That's pretty serious, Dean. You'd better be careful. She'll be a married woman this time tomorrow." 

Dean made a face. "Shut up." 

"Don't worry, brother," Benny said, straightening up from where he had been looking through one of the cabinets under the bar. "I bet there'll be plenty more out there tomorrow night." 

"That probably won't stop him making eyes at Anna, though," Sam pointed out. 

"Sam's jealous," Dean said dismissively. "He wants to have a good look too, but he keeps having to remind himself that he's already spoken for." 

Jo laughed. "Yeah, and no-one wants to be in the way when Jess gets pissed." 

"I'm not going to be looking at anyone," Sam said. "Apart from my brother, when he makes an ass of himself with his awful flirting. Then I'll be watching and laughing." 

Dean rolled his eyes. "Bitch." 

"Jerk," Sam quipped back. 

Benny shook his head in mock-despair. "How the hell am I supposed to be in charge here?" 

--------- 

An hour later, the group had checked every part of the bar area at least three times each. Everything was exactly where they wanted it, from different sized glasses to fire extinguishers, and the list of extra things they needed only contained a small handful of decorative items they'd agreed on together - though sadly not including the real gold stirrers Dean had suggested. 

Benny managed to track down Hester and give her the list, and she looked pleasantly surprised that they hadn't requested any major changes. 

"Well, the cars will be here to take you to the hotel in about another hour, if that's all right," she explained. "Your bags will already be in your rooms, so you'll just need to collect your keys from reception. There's a restaurant in the hotel too, and it's all included in your stay, so feel free to eat there once you've found your rooms. Until the cars arrive, you're welcome to have a look around the rest of the house and grounds." 

Charlie and Jo beamed and immediately rushed off through the tent, leaving Dean, Sam and Benny looking rather bemused. 

Sam shrugged. "We may as well have a look,' he said. 'We don't want to get lost on our way here tomorrow." 

"It would be nice if someone gave us a map, though," Dean commented, as the three of them went back through the tent at a much more sedate pace than the two women. 

"It's more fun like this," Benny said. "And anyway, they'll probably have someone there to take us to the right place tomorrow, just to make sure we're not late." 

"Fair point," Dean allowed. 

They entered the house and wandered through the wide hallways, guessing at which way to go whenever they reached a turning. Sam kept having quick peeks into the various rooms they passed, while Benny stopped every time they passed an interesting-looking painting. 

At the end of one corridor, Dean spotted an impressive suit of armour and decided to get a closer look while Sam and Benny were making a fuss over something in the room Sam had just looked in. There was no plaque or label with the armour, so Dean had no idea how old it was or if it was just a replica, but he didn't want to risk touching it in case he damaged something. Knowing his luck, if he did break it, it would turn out to be a several hundred-year-old genuine antique that would cost an entire year's pay to fix. 

With that thought, Dean decided to leave the armour alone. Sam and Benny had spent long enough in that room, and they wanted to see the rest of the house before it was time to go to the hotel. They needed to find Jo and Charlie too, wherever they'd gone. 

Only, the room Sam and Benny had been in was empty. Dean could tell which painting they'd been gushing over - one of a dog - but there was no sign of his brother or his friend. 

"Really?" Dean asked the room in general. "They can stop whenever they like but as soon as I go to look at something, they wander off? Great. Really fucking great." 

There was another door on the opposite side of the room, so Dean was fairly sure they'd gone that way - but the corridor it led out to stretched in both directions. And there was no sign of Sam or Benny. 

Dean sighed and chose a direction at random, hoping that at some point he'd hear one of his friends talking. He checked inside each room he passed, just in case, but apparently they'd vanished off the face of the earth. Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he sent a text to each of them, hoping that at least someone would have remembered to switch their phone back on since the flight. 

The next door Dean checked led into the grand entrance hall they'd first walked through, and his attention was drawn to the sweeping staircase that dominated the space. He had no idea if Sam and Benny would have gone to explore the second floor or not, but he figured it wouldn't hurt to check it out. He hadn't had a reply to the texts he'd sent, after all. 

At the top of the stairs, he chose a direction at random again and found himself coming to a more elaborate double doorway than the ones he'd seen so far. For a moment, he wondered if this would be one of the rooms he wasn't allowed in, but the door was unlocked, so he could only assume there was nothing wrong with him having a look inside. 

The spacious, but sparsely furnished room was brightly lit by a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Three of the four walls were covered in antique-looking portraits of seemingly important people - not that Dean had a clue who any of them were - and the fourth sported a huge window, with heavy velvety curtains draped artfully on either side. In the middle of the window, a pair of glass doors stood open, letting a welcoming summer evening breeze waft in. 

Dean headed over to the doors, which led onto a balcony overlooking the front lawn. It was dark outside now, but the balcony itself was lit gently with decorative lamps, and more small lights glowed among the flowerbeds in the garden below. Dean rested his elbows on the railing and let out a low whistle. 

"It’s quite a view, isn’t it," said a deep voice from the other side of the balcony. 

Dean jumped and almost had a mini-heart attack when he saw the man leaning against an ornate stone vase. Even with the lamps and the light from inside the room, he hadn’t noticed anyone else when he’d come through the doors. 

"My apologies," the man said, though he sounded more amused than sorry. "I did not mean to scare you." 

Dean gave a short, embarrassed laugh. "’S all right. I didn’t exactly look very hard when I…" 

His voice trailed off as the man turned to look at him with a pair of bright blue eyes. Eyes that Dean had seen all too often on the pages of the fashion and gossip magazines he most certainly did not have hidden under his bed. 

Shit. Dean’s throat went dry as his brain tried to process the fact that he was sharing balcony space with Castiel Novak: model, socialite, notorious playboy, and the object of Dean’s secret crush for the best part of five years. 

In hindsight, he really should have guessed that Castiel would be involved with this wedding somehow. He was Michael Novak’s younger brother, for God’s sake; it really shouldn’t have been a surprise. What was a surprise, though, was finding the guy hanging around on a balcony, alone, the night before the wedding. 

If the latest gossip magazines were to be believed, Castiel had been enjoying a particularly wild time following his highly publicised split from property heiress Meg Masters. Just last week - not that Dean had been keeping up-to-date with it all, of course - he had been photographed leaving some up-market hotel in New York, apparently having taken part in a drunken ménage-a-douze with some guy called Balthazar. Dean had assumed that he would be doing something similarly crazy and erotic this week. 

"When you…?" Castiel asked, bringing Dean’s thoughts back to the present and reminding him that his upstairs brain had effectively stopped working. 

"When I… er… came out here," he finished lamely. 

Castiel smiled and didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was checking Dean out as he walked closer to him. "I don’t believe we’ve met before." 

"Uh - no, we haven’t," Dean replied. Castiel looked at him expectantly, and it took an embarrassingly long time for him to work out what he was supposed to say. "Dean," he said quickly. "Er - I’m Dean. Winchester. I’m one of the cocktail bartenders for the - um - the wedding." 

Castiel stepped even closer and reached out to shake Dean’s hand. "It’s very nice to meet you, Dean," he said, his low, gravelly voice going straight downstairs. "I’m Castiel." 

"I - uh - I know," Dean replied, blushing furiously and ducking his head. 

Castiel gave an amused chuckle. "You do, do you?" he asked. Dean wasn’t sure if he was imagining the suggestive tone of the man’s voice, but it really wasn't helping. "So…" Castiel continued. "I trust everything was in order with your station for tomorrow?" 

"Uh - yeah. Yeah. Everything’s fine," Dean somehow managed to say, all too aware that Castiel still hadn’t let go of his hand. 

"Good," Castiel replied. "I’m supposed to be overseeing all the preparations, but I’m sure Hester and Inias are doing just fine without me. Why Michael put me in charge, I’ll never understand. He knows exactly how… distracted I get." 

His eyes met Dean’s with those last words, and if it hadn’t been for the balcony railing, Dean’s knees might actually have given way. He’d always assumed Castiel’s eyes were photoshopped in his magazine pictures, but now he wasn’t so sure. 

"It's probably just another one of his attempts to turn me into a responsible member of the family," Castiel added. 

A laugh burst its way out of Dean's mouth before he could stop it, and Castiel raised his eyebrows in amusement. 

"I'm glad you find that idea as hilarious as I do," he said, winking. 

Dean blushed even more. "I, um… It's just… You seem to like, er… having fun," he replied, wincing as the words came out all wrong. Just a few moments in Castiel's presence was apparently all he needed to turn into a complete idiot who could barely string a coherent sentence together. 

"I most certainly do," Castiel murmured. He sidled even closer to Dean, completely invading his personal space, and glanced down at their still-joined hands. "Michael's never approved, of course. Says I should do something proper with my life, take up a position in one of his companies, something like that. He's given me plenty of job offers too, but I've always turned them down. I just want a nice, easy life. What's wrong with that?" 

"N- nothing," Dean replied. "Nothing at all. It - um - sounds great. Yeah, not having to work… That'd be nice." 

"You don't enjoy your work?" Castiel asked. 

Dean blinked. "No - yeah, I do, I really do," he said quickly. "I love it. It's fun, and I get to hang out with my friends and stuff, but yeah, it'd be nice to not have to work, y'know? To… be able to do whatever the hell you want." 

"I agree." Castiel smiled, then finally let go of Dean's hand and leaned against the balcony railing, looking out at the dimly-lit lawn below. "Anna certainly knows how to pick a venue, doesn't she," he remarked. "It should be quite the wedding tomorrow." 

"Yeah," Dean agreed, trying to lean against the railing too without making it look like he was copying Castiel. "I just hope our show goes well." 

"I'm sure it will," Castiel replied. "Anna speaks very highly of your bar. I've been meaning to come and visit myself at some point. And besides, the only thing that's likely to go wrong tomorrow is my dancing." 

"You'll be dancing?" Dean asked. 

Castiel made a face. "According to Michael, I'll be expected to dance with Anna's maid of honour, as well as probably most of the other guests. One of the perks of being the best man, or so he says." 

"Don't you like dancing?" 

"I like it well enough," Castiel shrugged. "I just can't do it. Never really tried. Michael and Anna had a lesson set up so they could practice for their first dance and I was supposed to go along to it too, but… well, things happened and I ended up hungover in LA instead. I never got round to arranging another lesson, and I think Michael gave up." 

Dean laughed. "Reminds me of when my little brother got married," he said. "He and his wife took dancing lessons and dragged me along. They did this really nice waltz at their reception." 

"You can dance?" Castiel asked. 

Dean shrugged self-consciously. "A little. I can do the basics." 

Castiel held out his hand. "Teach me." 

"What?" Dean exclaimed. "I - I couldn't, I -" 

"All I need to know are the basics," Castiel said. "And the room behind us was once used as a sort-of ballroom, so it seems like a fitting place for a quick lesson." 

Dean gulped and found himself reaching out to take Castiel's hand, despite his brain frantically telling him that this was not a good idea. "Okay…" 

Castiel led him back inside and positioned them both in the centre of the room, while Dean hurriedly tried to remember everything he could about the waltz. And not think about the fact that he was going to dance with Castiel friggin' Novak. 

"So, er… you do the steps in threes," he explained, standing awkwardly beside Castiel so he could demonstrate. "You do a step forwards, then one to the side, then you bring your feet together." 

"Like this?" Castiel asked, copying Dean's movements, albeit a little stiffly. 

Dean nodded. "Yeah, like that. Then you just do the same thing, but starting with the other foot." 

Again, Castiel copied Dean's steps, but then frowned. "And your partner is doing the same?" 

"Yeah, but reversed," Dean answered. "So you'd be going forwards, and she - or he, I guess - would be going backwards." 

"Can we try that?" Castiel asked. 

"Er - sure, if you want." Dean moved so that he was facing Castiel instead of standing beside him, awkwardly taking his hands - holding him at arms' length - and hoped like mad that he wouldn't trip over his own feet when he tried to reverse the steps. 

"You normally start with the right foot," Dean explained. "So I start with my left, and we go one… two… three… one… two… three…" 

The steps were slow and not particularly graceful, but Castiel seemed to be getting the hang of it all right, and Dean hadn't fallen over, so he was willing to call the lesson a success. Castiel was counting the rhythm out loud, taking over when Dean stopped to direct him in a turning step. 

"I think you've got it," Dean said in relief, as he and Castiel executed another turn when they reached the other side of the room. 

"Shh," Castiel said, and then he stopped dancing and sighed. "You made me lose count." 

"Oh - er - sorry," Dean said guiltily. "But you were doing fine. Really well." 

"It wasn't quite right, though," Castiel said thoughtfully. 

Dean shrugged. "Well, I guess it does feel a bit weird without music, but…" 

"No," Castiel interrupted. "I didn't mean that. You see, when I've seen people dance before, they're not holding each other like this. I think they do it more…" Castiel moved one hand to Dean's waist and drew him in closer. A lot closer. "Like this," he murmured, right in Dean's ear. "Am I right?" 

Somewhere in the back of Dean's mind, a small voice was telling him to point out that a traditional ballroom hold involved the hand being considerably higher than where Castiel's was. But since the rest of his brain had effectively short-circuited, that little voice was pretty easy to ignore. 

"Um… yeah… Like that," Dean replied. 

"Can we try again?" Castiel asked. 

Dean wasn't entirely sure if he could remember how to walk now, let alone dance, but he found himself nodding anyway. His hand moved automatically to rest on Castiel's shoulder, and then they were dancing again, moving around the room to the tune of Castiel's voice steadily counting out the rhythm. Dean eventually joined in, figuring that he was supposed to still be teaching the dance. 

"I must admit, I lied when I said I had never tried dancing before," Castiel confessed after a while. "There is one type of dance that I'm particularly good at." 

"Yeah?" Dean asked, hoping that an actual conversation might stop his mind wandering into totally inappropriate daydreams. 

Castiel leaned closer to whisper in Dean's ear. "I believe it's sometimes called the horizontal tango." 

So much for that. 

Dean choked and tripped over his feet, allowing Castiel to suddenly spin him around out of the dance and press him up against the wall. 

"Perhaps I could show you sometime," Castiel murmured, lips brushing maddeningly against Dean's neck. 

"Y-yeah," Dean stammered. His jeans were feeling pretty tight now, and judging by the look in Castiel's eyes, he knew it too. "Sounds… sounds good." 

Castiel grinned, then closed the gap between their lips. Dean forgot how to breathe for a moment, but then his downstairs brain kicked in and he was kissing back, hands moving of their own accord up to Castiel's shoulders. He let out an embarrassingly loud moan as Castiel deepened the kiss, but that only seemed to amuse the other man, who quickly added his own noises that were practically pornographic and did absolutely nothing to help the situation in Dean's jeans. 

Then he heard a door open and a surprised squeak interrupted the rather heated moment. Dean instinctively pushed Castiel away - and saw Charlie standing in the doorway, staring at them with eyes that looked like they were about to pop out of her head. 

Dean felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights. There was no way he could play innocent and go for the whole 'we weren't doing anything' line, but he had no idea what else he could say. 

"Oh. My. God." Charlie was busy staring at Castiel now, star-struck. "Are you Castiel Novak? Like, the Castiel Novak?" she asked. 

"I am." Castiel inclined his head, looking far too casual for someone who had just been caught in the middle of making out with someone he barely knew. But then again, maybe it was a situation he was used to. 

"Oh my God," Charlie said again. "Wow. Sorry, it's just… wow." 

"Charlie, what are you doing here?" Dean asked irritably. 

Charlie blinked and looked at him. "Oh - we've been looking for you everywhere. Er… the cars are here." She glanced at Castiel again. "Sorry," she added guiltily. 

Castiel waved his hand. "It's quite all right," he said. "I apologise if I've made you wait. Dean was just giving me a quick dancing lesson. It appears that we got a little… side-tracked." 

No shit. Dean felt his face heating up and Charlie raised her eyebrows. Way to accidentally come out. 

"I won't keep you, Dean," Castiel added. "I imagine you've had a long and tiring day, and I'm sure you'll want to be well rested for tomorrow." 

"Uh - yeah, I guess so," Dean replied. He tried not to sound disappointed, but - well, it was damn difficult. 

Castiel smiled and winked. "I'll see you tomorrow, then," he said. "Goodnight, Dean." 

Dean managed an awkward smile back. "Night, Cas." 

It wasn't until he had left the room with Charlie that he realised he'd just unintentionally given Castiel a nickname. 

"Please tell me I didn't just cockblock you with Castiel Novak," Charlie groaned as they headed back towards the stairs. 

Dean blushed and didn't say anything, but he didn't really need to. 

"God, Dean, I'm sorry," Charlie continued. "I mean, I didn't even know you batted for the Rainbows, but still - Castiel Novak! I'm so sorry!" 

"Charlie," Dean said, cutting her off. They were nearing the top of the staircase now, so he lowered his voice. "Stop it. Just - don't tell the others, okay?" 

Charlie gaped at him. "But - don't you - really? Even though it was -" 

"Seriously, Charlie," Dean warned. "Don't say anything." 

"But it was Castiel Novak!" 

"I know!" Dean snapped, and then he winced at how harsh he'd sounded. "Look," he continued, calmer. "I don't know if I'm gay, bi, whatever, okay? I haven't even looked at a guy in that way, apart from him. So just… don't say anything. Wait til I've figured it out first." 

That seemed to mollify Charlie for the moment, and once she'd agreed to keep quiet about the whole thing, they headed down the stairs to where Sam, Jo, and Benny were waiting. As they went out to the cars - more sensible things than the limo they'd arrived in - Dean answered their questions with a generic story about exploring the second floor of the house. 

Thankfully, Charlie kept her word about staying quiet, but every time she caught Dean's eye on the way to the hotel, she gave him an annoyingly knowing grin. 

--------- 

All through the wedding reception the following evening, Dean tried his best not to let Castiel distract him. The last thing he needed whilst throwing flaming alcohol around was to catch sight of those eyes smouldering at him from across the tent. 

Thankfully, the main show they put on went without a hitch. In fact, as Dean concentrated on juggling bottles and flipping glasses, synchronising his movements with the others, and fitting everything to the music, he found that he barely noticed Castiel at all. Not even the camera flashes from the numerous press photographers could put him off once he was in the middle of the routine. 

Anna and Michael were both thrilled with the new cocktail the team had created for the occasion - aptly named a White Wedding - and it was only after they'd poured the drinks for the main wedding party that Dean allowed himself to look at Castiel. 

It wasn't a good idea. Dressed in an expensive-looking suit that fit him like a glove, his hair neatly styled and his eyes sparkling, the man looked unfairly gorgeous and Dean couldn't help staring. 

Charlie had to discreetly smack his arm to snap him out of it. 

When the music for Anna and Michael's first dance started up and the crowd began to move away from the bar, Dean breathed a sigh of relief. Castiel had gone to stand beside the maid of honour, Hannah, and was practically lost in the mass of people surrounding the dance floor. Some of the other guests had stayed behind at the bar to order drinks, which allowed Dean to regain his focus and have a mental word with himself about letting his silly schoolgirl crush get the better of him. 

As the dancing went on, though, he did allow himself to steal the occasional glance at the floor. He spotted Castiel twirling Hannah gracefully around, and during the next song he was dancing with Anna, then Anna's mother Naomi for the song after that. 

There was a bit of a rush of people wanting cocktails after that, so Dean lost sight of him again, but when those drinks had been served and there was another lull, the dance floor was busier than before and there was no sign of Castiel. 

Until Charlie nudged him and nodded to where Castiel was emerging from the crowd and heading in their direction. 

Dean glanced over at Sam, Benny, and Jo, but they were busy serving a few other guests. Charlie made herself scarce by checking through their supplies. Castiel seemed to have chosen his moment well. 

"Hello Dean," he said, resting his elbows on the bar. 

Dean couldn't hold back a wide smile. "Hey Cas. Er - what can I get you?" 

Castiel pondered for a moment, then grinned. "I don't mind," he replied. "You're the expert here. Surprise me." 

Dean laughed a little nervously, his mind racing to think up something that Castiel would like. Possibly that Tequila Mockingbird one Sam really liked. Or maybe Charlie's recently-created Qui-Gon Gin. But neither of those seemed right, somehow. 

He kept thinking of one of the recipes he'd been developing for the bar back in Kansas. He hadn't perfected it yet, so it wasn't on the bar's menu, but Dean was pretty fond of it, and its colour did remind him of Castiel's eyes… 

"Coming right up," he said, reaching for the bottles and other things he needed. Castiel watched him as he improvised a simple routine while he made the drink. It was a citrus-y mixture, with the colour coming from Blue Curaçao, and right at the end Dean squeezed a slice of orange zest over a match, sending out a sudden burst of flames. 

Yeah, okay, he was showing off. 

"Impressive," Castiel remarked as Dean slid the finished drink across the bar. 

"I hope it tastes good," Dean replied. The drink really did match Castiel's eyes, he thought, feeling an odd sense of satisfaction. 

Castiel lifted the glass and took a sip, then grinned. "Delicious. What's this one called?" 

"Blue-Eyed Angel," Dean answered without thinking. Castiel raised his eyebrows in amusement, and Dean suddenly realised exactly what he'd said. Out loud. To Castiel. Fuck. "I - I mean -" 

"I like it," Castiel interrupted. He winked at Dean and took a long drink of the cocktail, licking his lips in a way that should be illegal. 

Dean gulped and felt his pants tightening. 

"You, er, did all right with your dancing," he commented. 

"Mm," Castiel agreed. "It wasn't nearly as much of a disaster as I thought it would be. Our lesson yesterday was most helpful. I actually think Michael was bordering on impressed." 

Dean laughed. "Are you going to do any more?" 

"I haven't decided yet," Castiel replied. "None of the guests interest me that much." 

"Really?" Dean asked, surprised. If the magazines were to be believed, Castiel had never been that picky when it came to finding a new fling. 

"Well…" Castiel said thoughtfully. "There is one person I've had my eye on. I believe I even promised him a dance yesterday. I've been waiting for a chance to ask him if he's free." 

Dean felt his heart speed up as Castiel fixed him with a particularly enticing gaze. 

"So?" Castiel asked. "Are you?" 

"Er…" 

"Go for it!" Charlie whispered, suddenly materialising beside Dean and making him jump. "Seriously! Things have quietened down now, so it'll be fine. I'll cover for you, don't worry." 

Dean blinked. "Are you sure?" 

"Duh! Of course I'm sure!" Charlie replied, giving Dean's shoulder a little shove. "Go on!" 

Castiel was still looking at him expectantly. Dean could hardly believe that he was going to do this. 

"It, er… looks like I am," he said. 

"Well then," Castiel said, holding out his hand. "Shall we dance?"

Chapter Text

Consciousness returned slowly, accompanied by a muffled version of Led Zeppelin's Ramble On. Dean groaned and mumbled something unintelligible, keeping his eyes firmly shut as he buried his face in the pillow. It was far too early, even for one of his favourite songs, and right now he was busy sleeping in an extremely comfortable bed next to an extremely hot man who had kept him up half the night in more ways than one. 

Dean grinned into the pillow as memories of the previous night swam lazily into his half-asleep mind. After their dance Cas had let him go back to work behind the bar, but as soon as the celebrations were over and the guests had begun to leave, he had come straight over again. All it had taken were three whispered words - come with me - and suddenly they were sneaking away into the darkened gardens, making out under a tree, jackets strewn on the grass without a second thought. Then Cas had pulled him towards the house, inside, up the stairs to the room he was staying in, more clothes coming off the second the door was closed… 

And - well, Dean had never been with a man before so he didn't exactly have anything to compare it to, but dear God that was the best sex he'd had in his life. He'd probably be walking funny for a while, but somehow that didn't really matter. 

Led Zeppelin started playing again and Dean rolled over, hoping to bury his face in Cas's chest and block the music out. 

Only, Cas's chest wasn't where it was supposed to be. Instead of finding a warm body next to him, all Dean could feel were cold sheets. He forced one eye open, wondering if Cas was just sleeping on the far side of the mattress - but the dim light creeping in around the thick curtains revealed that the other side of the bed was empty. 

Dean sat up, frowning, and switched on the beside light. The covers on Cas's side were pushed back and rumpled, and there was a subtle indentation left in the pillow, but that was all. No Cas. 

His clothes were gone too, Dean noticed, taking in the rest of the room. Dean's clothes were still lying all over the floor, but Cas's were nowhere to be seen. There were no sounds coming from the en suite bathroom either, ruling out the possibility of Cas being in the shower. 

But - wasn't this meant to be the room he was staying in for the wedding? That was what he'd said last night. Surely he had to be somewhere? 

Slowly, wincing slightly at an unexpected ache in his lower back courtesy of last night's activities, Dean got out of bed and put his clothes on, trying as best he could to smooth out the creases in his shirt and pants. There was no way they looked even close to respectable, but it wasn't like he had anything else to wear. 

"Cas?" he called, his frown deepening when there was no answer. 

Now that he was out of bed, he could see that it wasn't just Cas's clothes that weren't there - everything of his was gone. There was no suitcase, no spare clothes in the closet, no phone chargers lying around, nothing in the bathroom… In fact, the longer Dean looked, the more he realised that there were no traces of Cas at all. He was simply gone. If it hadn't been for the rumpled sheets and a hickey he discovered on his neck, Dean would have thought that he'd simply dreamed the whole of last night. 

Of course, it would end up being too good to be true. No-one in real life got to spend the night with their celebrity crush and have a fairytale ending the morning after. It just didn't happen. And besides, he knew what Cas was like, the sort of life he lived, the reputation he had. It was stupid to feel disappointed that he hadn't stuck around. 

Still… it would have been nice to wake up next to him. To be able to say something proper to him, instead of the incoherent babbling he'd been reduced to yesterday. Hell, even a note would have been nice. An explanation for where Cas had disappeared off to, or a last night was great sort of thing, or maybe even a phone number… 

Ramble On started up for the third time since he'd woken, and Dean belatedly realised that it was his ringtone. Squashing his growing disappointment, he dug his phone out of his pocket, only briefly registering that it was Sam's name on the screen before he answered the call. 

"Hey, Sam." 

"Dean, where the hell are you?" Sam asked immediately. "We've been looking for you everywhere and I've called you four times! We need to leave for the airport in less than two hours!" 

"Shit… Um, I'll be at the hotel as soon as I can, okay?" Dean replied, massaging his temples with his free hand. A headache was developing, which was annoying, since he hadn't even had one drink last night. 

"You're not even in the hotel?" Sam asked incredulously. "Dude, where are you?" 

Dean sighed. Only the wedding party and the bride and groom's families were staying in the main house. If he let it slip that that was where he was, there would be no end of questions. 

"Some other hotel," he lied. "It's not far away. I'll get a cab, don't worry." 

"You hooked up with someone, didn't you." It wasn't a question, and Dean could practically hear Sam's bitchface. 

"Er - yeah," he admitted. That part was harmless, at least. "I did. Look, I'll be there in - I don't know - a half hour, maybe? Depends how quickly I can get a cab." 

Sam sighed. "Okay. But be quick - we have to check out by midday, and Hester's sending cars to take us to the airport at around the same time." 

"Right," Dean replied tiredly. "I'll be there." 

The call ended, and Dean checked the time on his phone. 10:47. Just over an hour to get back to the hotel and clear all his crap out of his room. That was doable, right? The cab journey wouldn't take long, and he hadn't brought much stuff with him.

The only problem was that Dean didn't have the number for a local cab service. Which meant he would have to make his walk of shame longer and far more obvious while he found someone to ask.

Slipping out of Cas's room as quietly as possible, it took him several minutes and several more wrong turns to find his way down from the third floor to the first. Like the day he'd arrived at the house, there were people bustling about everywhere, tidying things up from the wedding. Dean felt like he was completely in the way, and he breathed a sigh of relief when he spotted Hester across the entrance hall.

"Er - hey, Hester?" he asked, ignoring the looks - some knowing, some annoyed - that he was getting from the people he passed.

Hester turned to face him and while she seemed surprised at first, one look at Dean's dishevelled appearance apparently told her all she needed to know. "Is everything all right?" she asked.

"Yeah, um… Have you got a number to call a cab?" Dean asked. "I… kinda need to get back to the hotel."

"I'll sort it out, don't worry," Hester replied, already tapping out something on her phone. "There'll be a car here for you in five minutes."

"Great, thanks," Dean said, relieved. Then, before he could stop himself, he was asking, "Do you know where Castiel went?"

Hester looked up at him again. "He left at about 6:30," she replied. "He had a photo shoot to get to in Florida."

"Oh," Dean said stupidly. "Er - right. Thanks." Cas hadn't mentioned any photo shoot last night.

Hester kept looking at him, and there was a touch of sympathy in her eyes now. "Try not to think about it too much," she advised. "Castiel… doesn't tend to play by the rules."

Dean stared at her for a moment, then gave what he hoped was a casual shrug. "I guessed as much," he said dismissively. "It's okay."

"You're not the first, Dean," Hester said gently, "and you won't be the last. Castiel never stays in one place for very long, or with one person. To be brutally honest, it's best to just move on and forget about him."

Yeah, because that would be easy.

"S'fine," Dean said, shrugging again. "I was just wondering where he was, that's all."

Hester nodded, though Dean had a suspicion that she didn't really believe him. "Your car's here," she said, tactfully changing the subject. "Oh - and before I forget, you might want to pick your jacket up from the cloakroom over there. We found it in one of the flowerbeds."

Dean felt his face go red as he mumbled a quick thank you to Hester. The guy standing at the door to the cloakroom handed him the jacket with a badly concealed grin, and then Dean hurried out of the house as quickly as he could before his face burned the place down.

As Hester had promised, there was a car waiting outside - one of the same ones that had taken them to the hotel the first time. As soon as Dean had settled into the back seat, he took his phone out again to text Sam, letting him know that he was on his way. At least the drive wouldn't take too long. He'd have plenty of time to pack his things and check out of the room.

The driver made casual smalltalk during the short journey - thankfully not commenting on Dean's unkempt appearance - and once they arrived at the hotel, Dean was able to push aside the disappointment and embarrassment from earlier enough to give the guy a small smile before he drove off again.

Sam, Charlie, Jo, and Benny were waiting for him in the hotel lobby, their suitcases already packed and waiting, and Dean smiled apologetically as he headed over to them.

"Better late than never, brother," Benny remarked with a grin.

Dean shrugged. "Yeah, well, the cab didn't take too long to turn up, so I got here quicker than I thought."

"So who did you hook up with?" Jo asked eagerly.

Dean paused, and Charlie looked up at him expectantly. As far as Dean was aware, she was the only one who knew who he'd been with last night - and thank fuck she hadn't let anything slip.

"Did you have fun?" she asked slyly.

"I don't want to know!" Sam cut in quickly.

The others laughed and Charlie gave Dean a cheeky wink, making him roll his eyes.

"I'm going to get my stuff and check out," he announced pointedly. That would give him time to come up with some hopefully believable bullshit story to give them.

"Aw, come on, Dean!" Jo protested. "You're not getting out of this, you know. We want details!"

"No we don't!" Sam countered. "At least, not - actual details."

Dean sighed. "Whatever. I'll be back down soon."

---------

As it turned out, the fifteen minutes it took for Dean to have a quick shower, get changed, and pack his stuff up was not long enough for him to come up with a decent story. Yeah, he could make up some things, but he didn’t know if there actually were any hotels close enough to the estate to explain his short cab journey. Hell, he couldn't even remember the names of anyone at the wedding, besides the obvious ones. Maybe he could say that he'd been a complete douche and had forgotten the girl's name?

The others would never let him forget it, but that seemed like the safest plan so far. Safer than the truth, anyway.

Dean knew he should really man up and tell the others what had actually happened - but he didn't feel ready to do it just yet. He hadn't had time to think about the whole thing properly and figure out if he actually was gay or bi, or if Cas had just been an exception. Then there was the fact that he would also have to admit to them that Cas hadn't been there when he'd woken up. That had been humiliating enough already; he didn't want to make it worse.

With his suitcase packed and a half-formed story in his head, he took the elevator back down to the lobby. Sam, Charlie, Benny, and Jo were still sitting around where they had been before, and they all looked over expectantly when Dean had finished checking out at reception.

"So?" Benny asked, raising one eyebrow. "Gonna tell us anything yet?"

Dean gave an embarrassed (fake) laugh. "You're gonna hate me," he replied, "but I can't actually remember her name."

"You're kidding, right?" Jo said flatly. "You weren't even drunk!"

Dean held his hands up apologetically. "I know, I know, I'm a dick. But I do remember that it was fun. She was cool."

"Not cool enough for you to get her name or her number," Jo snorted.

"But apparently cool enough to be staying back at the house where the wedding was held," Sam added, making everyone stare at him - Dean included.

"What makes you think that?" he asked, genuinely puzzled as to how Sam had worked it out.

Sam held up his phone. "The nearest hotel to here is almost fifteen minutes away," he said. "I checked. And since you texted me to say the cab had arrived only five minutes before you showed up… The only place you could have been is back at the house. And also, the car you arrived in was the same sort that Hester sends to ferry people around, not a normal cab."

Fuck. Sometimes Dean really hated how smart his brother could be.

"Thanks, Sherlock," he muttered.

Charlie was watching Dean carefully, Benny actually looked impressed, and Jo had narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

"So who did you hook up with?" she asked. "Only the wedding party and their families were staying there."

Dean frantically tried to think of a back-up story, but Sam, Benny, and Jo were already firing out suggestions and theories, making it difficult to concentrate. Charlie was staying quiet, but Dean could feel her eyes on him, waiting for him to say something.

"Well, it couldn't have been Anna," Sam was saying. "It'd better not have been, anyway."

Dean sighed. "It wasn't."

"The maid of honour? Hannah Johnson?" Jo suggested.

"No." This could go on for a while…

"What about Michael's cousin?" Benny put in. "What was her name… Rachel?"

"No."

"Was it Hester?" Jo asked.

"No!"

Sam made a face. "Naomi?"

"No!"

"Guys, come on, leave him alone," Charlie cut in finally. "He's clearly not going to tell us yet."

Dean shot her a grateful smile, and thankfully the others stopped the barrage of questions. For now, at least. Dean was fully aware that he would have to share two cars and a goddamn plane with them before he could get to the safety of his apartment.

"We'll get it out of you eventually, Dean," Jo said smugly. "Don't you worry."

"I'm already worrying," Dean muttered to himself.

"Anyway," Charlie continued. "While we're on the subject of attractive women, can we please talk about Gilda Arkhmoor? She was gorgeous!"

Dean let the conversation go in one ear and out the other. His thoughts had already unintentionally returned to Cas and that awful moment when he'd realised he was waking up alone. It was stupid, pining away over someone he barely knew who had a mile-long string of one-night-stands behind them, but Cas had been… Well, they had actually talked a bit, in between all the kissing and other stuff, and he had seemed like an interesting guy: more than just his ridiculous good looks and flirtatious charm. He'd travelled all over the world, spoke six different languages (the discovery of which led to Dean realising that he had a language kink), was an inventive, but terrible cook…

"Dean!" Sam's voice interrupted his thoughts.

"What?"

"Er - the car's here to take us back to the airport," Sam explained. He looked at Dean in concern. "Are you all right? You look a bit out of it."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," Dean said dismissively. "Just tired. Didn't get much sleep last night," he added, putting on a grin that made the others groan and roll their eyes, or in Sam's case, shoot him another patented bitchface.

They grabbed their various bags and headed out to the car - the limo again, Dean noticed with some surprise. Apparently the fanciness didn't stop now the wedding was over. The driver helped them load up their cases then handed Benny an envelope addressed to the whole team, which turned out to be a 'thank you' card from Anna and Michael, written in neat calligraphy, along with a voucher for a group meal at one of Kansas City's best restaurants.

Thanks to that, Dean noticed, the conversation during the drive to the airport didn't once return to his mysterious hook-up. He began to wonder - hope - that they might have forgotten about it completely and he'd been unexpectedly let off the hook.

In fact, with all the jokes about moving into higher circles of society, the wedding itself wasn't even mentioned again until after they'd checked their bags in at the airport and were browsing through the shops in duty free.

Jo spotted one of the magazines sporting a large photograph of Anna and Michael on its front cover, and instantly dragged the others over to have a look.

"Guys, they might have our pictures in here!" she said excitedly, already flicking through the pages.

Dean laughed. "I didn't think you liked those sorts of magazines, Jo," he teased.

"I do when I might be in them," Jo retorted, flipping back to the front cover. "Look - they've got fifty pages of pictures in here!"

"And ten just on Anna's dress," Charlie added, pointing to one of the smaller headlines on the cover.

Benny and Sam leaned in to get a better look, and Dean took his phone out to text Jess and tease her that her husband had suddenly discovered a liking for celebrity gossip - something that neither of them usually touched with a bargepole. Then -

"Um - Dean?" Sam said. The weird tone of his voice made Dean look up, and he was surprised to see Sam and his three friends staring at him.

"What?" he asked, frowning.

Sam shifted awkwardly. "Is there… something you wanted to tell us?"

Dean had no idea what he was on about. "What do you mean?"

"Er…" Sam took the magazine from Jo and turned it round so Dean could see the front cover, tapping the bottom-right corner.

Dean looked, and felt the blood drain from his face. There, underneath Sam's finger, was a slightly blurred photograph of him pressed up against a tree with Cas's tongue halfway down his throat. The picture was accompanied by the words Castiel Novak's New Fling? and the promise of - fuck - more pictures inside the magazine.

Dean felt like he was going to be sick. Not only had this morning been a complete disaster, he'd now been forced out of a closet he wasn't even sure he was in by the fucking paparazzi.

He snatched the magazine from Sam's hands, stuffed it into the nearest trash can, then started walking away as quickly as he could without breaking into an actual run. Sam was calling after him, and the others soon joined in, but Dean ignored them. He didn't care what they were going to say; all he wanted was to find a hole to crawl into until the earth saw fit to open up and swallow him.

"Dean, wait!" Sam called from somewhere behind him. He could hear someone running now, so he sped up and ducked into the nearest restroom, locking himself in one of the cubicles. Only a few seconds later, he heard the restroom door open again, and then Sam's shoes appeared outside his hiding place.

"Fuck off, Sam," Dean said shortly. He closed the toilet lid and sat down, putting his head in his hands. At least the restroom was empty at the moment.

He heard Sam sigh on the other side of the door. "Are you okay?"

"What do you think?" Dean muttered.

There was a pause, then Sam asked, "Were you going to tell us at some point?"

"Are we going to have this conversation in a public restroom?" Dean shot back.

"If you're not going to come out, then we'll have to," Sam replied, and Dean rolled his eyes at his brother's stubbornness. There was another pause, then Sam sighed again. "Look, Dean, if you're worried about us finding out that you were with a guy last night… We're okay with it. Honestly. We're all fine with Charlie, so we're not suddenly going to act weirdly around you. It's okay."

Dean stayed silent, staring down at the tiled floor without really seeing it. Yes, there had been a part of him that had worried about what the people closest to him would think, but right now that wasn't the biggest issue.

"Would've been nice not to have it plastered all over the place," he muttered eventually.

"Yeah, I know," Sam said gently. "I'm sorry."

Dean snorted. "S'not like it's your fault."

"It still sucks, though."

"You got that right."

Sam's phone pinged with a noise Dean recognised as a text notification. "Dean, we've gotta go," Sam said apologetically. "Our gate's been called."

Dean sighed and reluctantly got up to unlock the door. Despite the small bit of reassurance he had got from Sam's words, he still didn't want to talk to anyone, so he pushed past his brother without a word. He heard Sam let out another sigh behind him just before he left the restroom, but his attention was now on ignoring Jo, Benny, and Charlie, who had been hovering outside the door.

"Are you okay?" Charlie asked as he walked straight past them.

"Fine," Dean replied shortly. "Peachy."

He glanced up at the screen showing departure information and memorised the number next to their flight, then headed off in the direction of the gates without waiting for the others. He couldn't wait to get the hell out of North Carolina and forget this whole weekend had ever happened, and it only dimly registered in the back of his mind that he'd never been so eager to get on a plane.

---------

All through the flight back to Kansas, Dean barely spoke a word to anyone. He wasn't sure if his bad mood made his fear of flying better or worse: yes, it distracted him and made him wonder if falling from the sky was really such a bad option, but at the same time, he was gripping the armrests so tightly that his fingers went white, and the flight attendants refused to serve him any more whiskey after only forty minutes.

Things were made even worse when he spotted Jo reading another copy of that stupid magazine, which she had apparently bought at some point. She seemed to have found some photographs of them all doing their flair display and kept passing the damn thing around to the others - though they all avoided giving it to Dean. Probably because he'd just rip it up.

Sam kept trying to talk to him and he sometimes caught the others giving him concerned looks, but by the time the plane landed, the only things he'd said were variations of shut the hell up and leave me alone.

The drive back to their various houses and apartments was awkward, to say the very least. Benny tried to get the conversation going, steering well clear of anything to do with the wedding this time, but whenever someone tried to include Dean, his non-committal grunts caused everyone else to trail off.

Jo was dropped off first, then Charlie, and when Benny pulled up outside Dean's apartment building, he couldn't leave the car and grab his suitcase fast enough.

Unfortunately, Sam followed.

"Won't Jess be wondering where you are?" Dean asked as he entered the code to get into the building.

Sam shook his head. "I sent her a text. She'll understand."

Dean scowled. "That was meant to be a polite way of saying 'go away'."

"I guessed," Sam said dryly. "But I want to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine," Dean insisted, hauling his suitcase up the stairs. "I've said that a hundred times already."

"And every time, it's been bullshit," Sam pointed out.

"I'm not going to sit down and let everything spill out, you know," Dean snapped. "There's nothing to spill. Everything's probably in that damn magazine."

"Actually, the article was more wondering about you," Sam said mildly. "They know your name and that you were one of the bartenders, but that's it."

Dean set his suitcase down at the top of the stairs and glared at Sam. "You fucking read it?" he growled.

Sam shrugged awkwardly. "Just to see if there was anything really bad. There wasn’t, I swear. They’re curious about you, that’s all. They want to know who you are."

"I don’t fucking believe you," Dean muttered, shaking his head. He grabbed his case again and pulled it violently down the corridor to his apartment, then somehow managed to unlock the door before his glare burned a hole through it.

Sam didn't get there in time to stop Dean shutting the door in his face.

---------

The next morning, Dean woke up with a horrible hangover. He figured he deserved it, given the amount of beer he'd drunk when Sam had finally given up on trying to talk to him through his apartment door. Later, he'd switched his phone off after getting three calls from Sam, one from Charlie, and texts from Jo and Benny, and now that he'd turned it back on after his too-long shower, he saw that Bobby and Ellen had both tried to call him too.

Dean swore under his breath. They'd probably seen the magazine too by now. Everyone had probably seen it. The one they'd found in the airport was one of the biggest celebrity gossip magazines in the country, and it wouldn't have been the only one to have published pictures from the wedding. Those photographs were probably all over the internet as well by now.

Dean didn't bother to read the texts or listen to the voicemail messages. Instead, he focused on finding some painkillers for his pounding headache. He was supposed to be going back to work that afternoon, and Bobby wouldn't be happy if he showed up in a bad mood and hungover.

Thankfully, by the time he had to leave, he'd eaten enough food to settle his stomach and his head no longer felt like it was going to fall off. He was even beginning to feel better about the whole paparazzi thing too - it had been more than a day since everything had gone to shit, and celebrity news moved on pretty quickly. Castiel might even have picked up some other sucker by now, and the media could be taking pictures of them instead.

He was still extremely pissed about the whole thing, and he would still have to deal with the fact that everyone now knew he wasn't entirely straight, but Sam had told him that none of his friends would mind, and Dean wanted to believe that. After all, as Sam had pointed out, no-one had been bothered when Charlie came out. Maybe things wouldn't be so bad in the long run.

In hindsight, Dean knew his uncharacteristic optimism should have been a warning sign that more shit was about to hit the fan.

As he pulled up in the bar's parking lot, he could see a large, noisy crowd hanging around outside. Dean frowned; the place wasn't due to open for another half hour, and people didn't normally try to get in early. Had the wedding brought them that much overnight popularity?

Curious, he got out of his car and tried to see what was going on. He could hear Bobby shouting, telling the people to leave before he called the cops. Was there a fight or something? That would explain all the noise, and -

Dean stopped in his tracks when he saw that most of the people in the crowd were holding professional-looking cameras. Others had notebooks, pens, and even dictaphones, all poised and ready.

That goddamn magazine flashed through Dean’s mind, along with Sam’s voice from yesterday: They’re curious about you, that’s all. They want to know who you are.

“You’re fucking kidding me,” he muttered, only realising that he’d said the words out loud when the photographers turned to look at him.

Shit.

Chapter Text

Miami, Florida 

"Gorgeous, gorgeous!" the photographer called, taking shot after shot as Castiel leaned artfully against the side of a sleek silver Aston Martin DB9. "Yes - hold that one… Perfect! Right, I think that's us done!" 

Castiel straightened up and breathed a sigh of relief as he removed the jacket of the Michael Kors suit he was modelling. The brand was launching a new range of formalwear to celebrate its recently announced collaboration with Aston Martin, and Castiel knew that the whole thing was a huge deal, but Miami in the middle of summer was ridiculously hot. In his opinion, whoever had decided to schedule an outdoor photoshoot for a range of suits in weather like this should be fired. 

The photographer looked back through some of the pictures she'd taken, showing the best ones to the representative from Michael Kors, then they both smiled and came over to shake Castiel's hand. 

"Pleasure working with you, Mr Novak," said the representative, whose name Castiel had forgotten. 

"Likewise," Castiel replied, accepting a bottle of water from one of the assistants hovering around. "I look forward to seeing the pictures." 

"They'll be fantastic," the photographer assured him. 

Castiel took a long drink of water as the photographer began to pack away her equipment. The shoot hadn't lasted too long, thankfully - only around an hour - but that was probably because everything would have started to melt if it had gone on any longer. 

Being in a studio with good air conditioning would have been nicer. Or having the shoot on the beach, modelling shorts or swimwear. 

He headed to the wardrobe trailer and took the suit off, gratefully swapping it for the much cooler clothes he'd arrived in. Someone from the make-up team handed him a face-wipe, and after he'd removed the foundation and powder, he went about fixing his hair. It had been gelled down neatly for the shoot, and it took several attempts with both comb and fingers to get it back to the casual, messed-up style he preferred.

"Looking good, Cassie!" his manager, Gabriel, said brightly, sauntering over and leaning on the back of Castiel's chair. "I told you it wouldn't be that bad."

Castiel rolled his eyes and stifled a smile. "It's a hundred degrees out here, Gabe," he pointed out. "I've been sweating my ass off all afternoon, probably burning my hands on that car. And you made me get up at a stupid time of the morning to fly down here, the day after my brother's wedding."

"Touché," Gabriel allowed. "But they are letting you keep some of the suits. They'll send them over to my office later. And I did promise I'd pay for dinner to make up for the early start."

"You did."

Castiel finished off his water, and once the post-photoshoot formalities had been wrapped up, he and Gabriel headed towards the car that sat waiting for them. As they passed the silver DB9 - a limited-edition variant designed specifically for the marque's collaboration with Michael Kors - Castiel caught his manager giving it a longing look.

"Let me guess, they wouldn't let you have the car," he teased.

Gabriel scowled. "No, they wouldn't."

"Can't think why," Castiel remarked, grinning.

"I don't know what you mean," Gabriel said, feigning offence. "My driving is amazing."

Castiel laughed. "And I suppose that streetlight came out of nowhere and hit the Ferrari all by itself?"

Gabriel fixed him with a glare as they got into the car. "That was one time," he said. "One. Over a year ago."

"It's still a good enough reason for Aston Martin to not let you have one of those cars," Castiel pointed out. "Didn't they only make about fifty of them? They wouldn't want one to end up in a ditch somewhere."

"Yeah, yeah," Gabriel said, waving his hand dismissively.

The chauffeur turned around in the driver's seat to ask where they were heading next, and Gabriel named a fancy steakhouse over on Miami Beach. The driver nodded and turned back around, and the car pulled out onto the road, the tinted windows mercifully lessening the afternoon brightness.

"Nice choice," Castiel said approvingly.

Gabriel smiled smugly. "Thought you'd like it. Now you can't stay mad at me."

"I wasn't mad at you anyway," Castiel replied, equally smug. "Well, I was a bit, but I played it up to see what you'd do. And to get you back for changing the date on my phone two weeks ago. Consider this meal your 'pranking fine' for making me show up to the Armani shoot a day early."

Gabriel laughed at that. "It was worth it for your reaction. And hey, at least it was early instead of late."

"True," Castiel acknowledged, "but if I'd have been late, it would have been your loss as well as mine. Not even you're crazy enough to do that."

"Fair point," Gabriel agreed.

The car pulled up outside the steakhouse and the two men slipped their sunglasses on before getting out. Since the place was a well-known celebrity hangout, there were a few expected press photographers milling around, and Castiel and Gabriel gave the cameras a token wave as they headed inside.

Gabriel gave his name to the host, and they were soon seated at one of the tables in the restaurant's private dining area, away from the prying eyes of the media and the people-watching public. The place had a stylish, classy feel, with modern black and white furniture and exposed brickwork pillars, and although it was busy, it didn't feel overcrowded.

Castiel browsed through the wine menu, briefly contemplating picking the most expensive thing there just to annoy Gabriel, but eventually settling on a red he knew they were both rather fond of. Their waiter brought them some iced water too, and they both downed a glass before they even started choosing their food. Even though it was now early evening, it was still too warm.

"Remind me again why I agreed to do that shoot," Castiel groaned, fanning himself with the menu.

Gabriel shrugged. "Because you got to drape yourself over an Aston?"

"A burning hot Aston."

"Still a sexy car," Gabriel remarked.

"One you'll never get your hands on," Castiel couldn't resist adding.

Gabriel stuck his tongue out. "Talking of things I'll never get my hands on, congratulations on getting a hot sister-in-law. How was the wedding?"

"Good," Castiel replied, smiling. "Nothing went wrong - probably because I stayed out of the way as much as I could when everything was being set up. The food was good, the weather was good, and Michael will be off my ass for at least the next two weeks while he enjoys his honeymoon. I'll probably be an uncle in about nine months' time too."

Gabriel laughed. "Uncle Cassie. That's something I'd like to see. You'd be a terrible influence, especially on a young, impressionable child."

"Thanks, Gabe," Castiel said dryly. "As if you'd be any better. No wonder Kali doesn't want to settle down with you yet."

"How do you know she doesn't?" Gabriel asked, winking.

Castiel gave him a pointed look. "Because she's not an idiot, and as far as I know, she hasn't gone mad or hit her head."

Gabriel grinned and waggled his eyebrows, but thankfully the waiter came to take their orders before he said anything else. They both chose their steaks, along with possibly a few too many sides, and Gabriel took so long to decide which sauce to have that Castiel managed to finish his first glass of wine and start on a second before the poor waiter was finally able to leave.

"Going back to your brother's wedding," Gabriel said, taking out his phone and scrolling through something on the screen, "I've been meaning to ask: who's he?"

He slid the phone across the table and Castiel couldn't help smiling when he saw the picture on the screen, pulled from some magazine's website. The photographs from the wedding had all been published overnight and he'd managed to have a quick look through most of them earlier in the day, though he hadn't had time to read the accompanying articles.

He'd grimaced when he'd seen the paparazzi shots of him and Dean making out in the gardens, but in retrospect he wasn't entirely surprised that they'd been spotted. Those photographs were dark and unclear, and definitely not the worst he'd had. By Castiel's standards, they were bordering on innocent.

Thankfully, the picture Gabriel was showing him now wasn't one of those. It was actually one of his favourites from the whole evening: one of the many taken while he'd been dancing with Dean. The shot was perfectly angled, the lighting just right, and it had somehow captured the almost intimate way they'd been looking at each other all through the dance. It was so… natural, unlike the majority of the other photographs from the night. Neither of them had been posing, or even aware that there were cameras around at all. Dean's smile and beautiful green eyes brought back a whole load of memories - most of which Castiel did not want to share with his manager.

"Why do you want to know?" he asked, being deliberately evasive. "Doesn't the website tell you?"

"Well, yes," Gabriel replied, "but I'd rather hear it from you."

Castiel smiled ambiguously. "His name's Dean. He was one of Anna's bartenders."

"Not your usual type," Gabriel observed, raising his eyebrows.

Castiel couldn't exactly disagree with that; he usually ended up with either fellow models or people who were well-known on the party scene. People like Balthazar and Meg. The few times he'd gone for someone outside of those groups - like religious-fanatic-Daphne (Michael's idea) and crazy-psycho-April (a bad rebound decision) - things hadn't worked out particularly well.

"Not that that's a bad thing, though," Gabriel continued. "You've certainly got the media's attention, and for once it's not for the wrong reasons."

"I don't know why they've made such a fuss," Castiel said. "It's not like they aren't used to me behaving like that. Surely it'd be bigger news if I went to a party and didn't sleep with someone."

"It's not you they're after this time," Gabriel explained. "It's him. I mean, look at him, Cassie. He's gorgeous! And he managed to turn your head when you could have had your pick of America's high society. I reckon they can't understand why they haven’t seen him before. I'm wondering the same thing, to be honest."

"He works in a bar, Gabe," Castiel pointed out. "Not exactly in the media spotlight."

Gabriel smiled thoughtfully. "Does he want a career change?"

"I don't think so," Castiel replied, frowning.

"Well…" Gabriel leaned forwards slightly, resting his elbows on the table. "Next time you see him, give him my number and tell him to give me a call. Just in case."

"Why?" Castiel asked suspiciously.

Gabriel tapped the picture on his phone. "Come on, Cassie! The kid's got nigh-on perfect bone structure. A face like that belongs on the front of a glossy magazine, and I insist on being the one to sign him."

Castiel rolled his eyes. "He told me he really enjoyed his job at the bar. I doubt he'd be interested."

"People change their minds all the time," Gabriel said confidently.

"And anyway," Castiel added. "I don't even know if I will be seeing him again."

Gabriel gaped at him for several minutes, accidentally blanking the waiter completely when he arrived with their meals. Castiel thanked the man instead and took a mouthful of his perfectly cooked steak, then raised his eyebrows.

"What?"

"What do you mean, 'what'?" Gabriel asked incredulously. "You don't say no to dating someone who looks like that!"

Castiel sighed. "I never said I was saying no," he explained, "though you know full well that I'm not shallow enough to date someone just because they're attractive. Dean and I actually talked for a bit, believe it or not, and he's a very nice person. He's interesting, he's funny, he's creative…" He's adorable when he gets flustered…

Gabriel was staring at him again, his mouth curving up in a disbelieving smile. "You're blushing."

"I am not."

"You are!"

Castiel rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I don't know if I'll see him again because I don't have his number."

"Why the hell not?" Gabriel exclaimed, making some of the other diners look over at them.

"I didn't get a chance to ask," Castiel admitted. "Which, by the way, is your fault, since you booked the flight. You do realise I've only had about two or three hours of sleep, right?"

"I guessed," Gabriel said wryly. "And you know the timings couldn't be helped. Michael Kors was working to a tight deadline and they had to get the car on its way back to Aston Martin by the end of today. They couldn't reschedule."

Castiel rolled his eyes and took another mouthful of steak and potato.

"And besides," Gabriel teased, "it's your own fault for staying up so late. You knew it was going to be an early start."

Castiel made a face. "I'd forgotten about it until my alarm went off," he admitted. "And I still nearly missed the flight because I hit the snooze button too many times."

"You and mornings, Cassie," Gabriel laughed, shaking his head. "Always a great combination."

"You try getting dressed in the dark at 5:30 in the morning and making sure you've got everything packed, all without waking someone else up," Castiel muttered.

Gabriel raised his eyebrows. "You didn’t wake him up?"

"No," Castiel sighed. "Like I said, we hadn't had much sleep. I… would've felt bad if he'd woken up that early."

"So you left him your number instead?"

Castiel glanced at Gabriel for a moment, then looked away and fiddled with his napkin. "I didn't have time to leave him a note."

Gabriel looked like he was resisting the urge to smack his head on the table. "Please tell me you're joking," he groaned. When Castiel didn't reply, he let out an exasperated sigh. "Really, Cassie? You just left?"

"I was going to miss the flight," Castiel mumbled.

"It would have taken less than a minute to scribble down your number and write call me." Gabriel took a mouthful of wine and thought for a moment, then shook his head. "We're going to fix this," he said decisively. "When we get back to the hotel, I'll tell you what to do."

---------

Castiel would never admit it out loud, but one of the reasons why he loved having Gabriel as his manager was the man's ability to save Castiel's ass whenever he managed to screw something up. Like the time he'd sweet-talked Calvin Klein into a season-long contract, despite Castiel (accidentally) attempting to seduce the CEO's wife. Or when he'd practically force-fed Castiel a gallon of very strong coffee after finding him severely hungover an hour before an interview during the New York Fashion Week.

Or now, when he'd come up with the brilliant - if, admittedly, slightly obvious - solution of tracking Dean down via the bar he worked at.

As soon as they arrived at their hotel after the meal, they went up to Castiel's room and Gabriel was straight on his phone, looking up the contact information for Shots Fired. Kansas was only an hour behind Florida, and it wasn't too late in the evening yet, so Gabriel reasoned that it was the perfect time to call.

Castiel had pointed out that it was unlikely that Dean would be working that evening, since he would only just have gotten back from North Carolina, but Gabriel insisted that that didn't matter.

"It'll make you look keen," he explained, passing his phone over so Castiel could copy down the bar's number. "And God knows, after you did a runner on him, you'll need all the positives you can get. If nothing else, someone there can at least tell him you called."

"Fine, fine," Castiel replied reluctantly. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to Dean again - he was just nervous of how things would go. He was well aware of how badly he'd screwed up by leaving without a word that morning. No-one enjoyed waking up alone like that. What if Dean didn't want to talk to him? What if he told Castiel that he shouldn't have bothered? What if -

"You're not calling him," Gabriel said pointedly.

Castiel sighed. "You never normally care this much about my relationships," he observed.

"Maybe not," Gabriel agreed, "but I know you, Cassie, and I know that it takes a lot to get you interested. This Dean kid's obviously got something special if he's got you blushing like a teenager and waxing poetic about how he's more than just a pretty face. And don't think I didn't see the way you smiled when I showed you that picture. You like him - and I mean really like him. So stop stalling and call the damn bar."

"Not with you in the room," Castiel decided. "You'll put me off."

"I'll be downstairs, having a drink," Gabriel said. He took his phone back and picked up his wallet, then headed to the door. "Good luck!"

Castiel waited for a few moments until he was sure Gabriel had actually gone, then took a deep breath and dialled the number.

An automated voice answered him, telling him that the line was busy, and he let out a frustrated sigh. Knowing that Gabriel would not be pleased if he gave up after one try, Castiel tried again. The line was still busy. He tried a third time. Busy again.

"For God's sake…" he muttered to himself. The delay in getting through was just making things worse.

On the fourth attempt, the call was finally picked up.

"Shots Fired, Bobby Singer speaking."

Castiel swallowed, suddenly feeling twice as nervous as he had been a few seconds ago. "Er - hello. I'm, er… Could I speak to Dean Winchester, please?"

He heard a sigh and muffled grunt that sounded a bit like balls, and then Bobby Singer was speaking again. "No you can't," he said, sounding unexpectedly angry.

"Can you -"

"I don't care who you're with or what piece of crap magazine you write for, he's not here," Bobby snapped. "And even if he was, he wouldn't wanna talk to you. Goodbye."

The call ended. Castiel stared at his phone, wondering what the hell just happened. He was sure he couldn't have said anything wrong - he'd barely been able to get a word in at all. He hadn't even been able to give his name! And why had Bobby assumed that Castiel was calling from a magazine?

Steeling himself, he decided to try once more.

"Shots Fired, Bobby Singer," came the gruff greeting again.

"Hello, Mr Singer? I -"

"You again?" Bobby asked crossly. "What the hell did I just say? He ain't here! Now you stop calling, or -"

"I'm not from a magazine," Castiel cut in quickly.

There was a brief pause, then Bobby started up again. "Tabloid, blog, freelance, I don't care," he snapped. "No-one here is talking to no goddamn journalist, you hear me?"

"I'm not a journalist," Castiel insisted.

"Then who the hell are you?"

"I'm Castiel Novak."

The pause that followed was longer this time, and Castiel began to wonder if the call had been accidentally disconnected.

"Are you now," Bobby replied eventually. He still sounded angry, but his tone had changed. Not so outwardly irritated, but quietly furious instead.

Castiel felt even more nervous.

"Is Dean really not there?" he asked tentatively.

"What the hell do you want?" Bobby demanded, ignoring Castiel's question completely.

"I - um, I wanted to talk to him, if he's there," Castiel answered.

"Well, he's not," Bobby said shortly. "And I'm telling you, you've got some nerve calling. Do you have any idea what you've done?"

Castiel sighed quietly and rested his head back against the wall. This really wasn't going well. "I've… seen the photographs," he admitted.

"Oh have you," Bobby said flatly. "Good for you. Have you seen all the photographers hanging around my bar, turning this place into a goddamn circus?"

Castiel blinked. "What?"

"Didn't think so," Bobby continued. "They're all camped outside, right now. Dean's only been back in the state a few hours and I've had people calling non-stop, asking to talk to him about you. I've had customers complaining about all the people outside. I've had to call the cops just to get them to move, and they just come straight back. Dean's not answering his phone, so I don't know if he's gonna get the message to stay away until this shit-storm's over, and I don't wanna think about what'll happen if he doesn't. So I'm asking you again: what the hell do you want?"

Castiel had no idea what to say. What could he say? He knew he'd screwed up, but this…

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. It didn't even begin to cover it. "I… I just want to talk to Dean. Please. To apologise, to explain why I wasn't there in the morning, to -"

"You weren't there in the morning?" Bobby asked darkly.

Castiel winced; he hadn't meant to say quite that much. "I - had an early flight to catch," he explained, though he knew it was a piss-poor excuse. "I didn't want to wake him up and I didn't have time to write him a note."

"You think I'm gonna let you talk to him after you treat him like that?" Bobby growled. "Waltzing into his life - literally, according to those goddamn pictures - and just leaving without a word? If you weren't several states away, I -"

"Can I please just speak to him?" Castiel interrupted. "I know I've been a jerk, I know I've really screwed things up, but I want to at least try to make it up to him. I just - This is the only number I have for him."

"And what makes you think you've got any right to say anything to him?" Bobby demanded. "I sure as hell ain't gonna give you his number, if that's what you're after."

Castiel held back a sigh. He wasn't exactly surprised, but it really only left him with one other option. "Could you pass on a message instead?" he asked. "Can you tell him that I'm sorry? And… if I give you my number, could you pass that on too?"

It was a risk, he knew. He never gave out his personal cell number to anyone other than family and close friends in case it fell into the wrong hands - yet here he was, about to give it to a complete stranger over the phone, on the off-chance that a guy whose life he'd apparently completely fucked up might give him a chance to apologise.

Bobby didn't answer for a moment, and Castiel worried that he might refuse, leaving him out of options. But then -

"Fine," Bobby said reluctantly. "But I'm not gonna guarantee that he'll call. From what his brother's said, he's pretty pissed about the whole paparazzi thing at the moment."

"It's his choice," Castiel agreed. He recited his cell number while Bobby wrote it down, then there was another pause. "I'll see if there's anything I can do to get the media away from you all," he said quietly. "And - I'm sorry. For all of this."

"Good," Bobby said shortly.

Castiel couldn't think of anything else to say that might make the situation any better. "Um… thank you," he said awkwardly. "For passing on my number. I really do want to make things right."

"I suppose that’s something," Bobby conceded. "I ain't making no promises, though."

"I understand," Castiel replied. "Um… goodbye."

Bobby ended the call and Castiel let out a long sigh, closing his eyes. That couldn't really have gone much worse, he reflected. He had no way of knowing if Bobby would actually pass his number on at all - he might have already thrown it in the trash. And even if he did pass it on, there was no knowing if Dean would want to call him. He might not want anything to do with Castiel anymore, especially with the press hounding him all over the place.

Castiel swore inwardly. Why hadn't he thought that the media would go after Dean? They'd never been that interested in his previous partners…

Though, that wasn't strictly true, now that he thought about it. The press had gone after the other people he'd slept with - but they were already used to that sort of lifestyle. So much so that he hadn't noticed any increase in the attention they were getting. This was the first time he'd slept with someone who had never had their picture in a magazine before, who wasn't prepared for the sudden interest of a bunch of strangers with cameras.

His phone buzzed with a text message from Gabriel, asking him if he was done yet, and Castiel grimaced. He wasn't looking forward to explaining how the conversation with Bobby Singer had gone. Gabriel would give him even more shit when he found out about the journalists making a nuisance of themselves outside the bar. But then again, if anyone could come up with a way to sort things out, it would be Gabriel.

Reluctantly, Castiel typed out a reply to the text. He kept it short, without any details, and as he expected Gabriel soon came back to the room, looking concerned.

"What happened?" he asked, frowning as soon as he saw Castiel's expression.

It didn't take long to summarise the conversation with Bobby, and when he'd finished, Castiel was surprised when Gabriel just gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

"Well, we can certainly do something about the media harassment," he said. "Give me a bit of time, and I'll look into options we can give them. It's not going to be easy, but I'm guessing you already knew that."

Castiel nodded sullenly. "They're like roaches."

"As for the rest, not much else you can do for now," Gabriel continued. "You've just got to wait and see if Dean decides to call you or not. Give it a week or so, and if you haven't heard from him, think about whether or not you want to keep trying. I'm sure we could fit in a trip to Kansas if we need to."

Castiel nodded and sighed. Gabriel was right; it was out of his hands. All he could do now was wait.

Chapter Text

Dean had no idea what was happening. Within seconds of the crowd realising who he was, there were cameras flashing everywhere and people pushing closer, all shouting questions at the same time.

"Dean, what was Castiel like?"

"Are you going to be seeing him again?"

"Can you tell us what happened?"

"Why did he pick you?"

"Have you met him before?"

"All right, get the hell outta here, all of you!"

Bobby's voice bellowed over the top of everything else, but Dean barely noticed as his boss barged through the mass of people and started steering him towards the front door of the bar. Everything was a blur. The door seemed miles away and his headache had come back with a vengeance, so Dean just let Bobby handle everything, concentrating on keeping his head down and not looking at the cameras.

It felt like hours before Bobby finally got him safely inside, slamming the door shut and locking it before the crowd could follow. Dean looked around and saw Ellen, Jo, Benny, Charlie, and Sam all staring at him, but before they could say anything, Bobby took him through to the employees' room behind the bar and sat him down on a couch.

"I'm guessing you didn't get my message about not coming in today," Bobby said calmly.

Dean shook his head, staring down at the floor. "Shit, Bobby, I - I'm sorry. I didn't -"

"Don't you go apologising for those assholes," Bobby interrupted firmly. "If they don't get the hell outta here soon, we'll call the cops on 'em. Don't worry about it. I want to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine," Dean insisted. "Honestly."

Bobby gave a disbelieving snort. "Yeah, and I'm a fairy princess." He sat down on the couch opposite Dean and looked at him carefully. "Now, why don't you tell me how you got mixed up with all this celebrity crap, so I've got something to go on besides what's in that magazine."

Dean didn't look up. A fresh wave of shame had come crashing down over him and he couldn't meet Bobby's eyes. Not when his idiotic screw up was causing so much trouble for the people he cared about.

"I was stupid, Bobby," he said to the floor. "So goddamn stupid. I - I don't even know why I - Cas was just - I don't know…" He trailed off, realising that he wasn't answering Bobby's question, and sighed. "I met him the night before the wedding. I… We talked, a bit. I, um… I sort of taught him how to dance."

Bobby raised his eyebrows at that, but didn't comment.

"We, er - um - we kissed," Dean continued, mumbling now. "Then we, um… Charlie interrupted us. Then at the wedding, he… kept looking at me, and then he came over to the bar and I made him a drink, and we danced again, and - After everything was over, he came up to me again and… I don't know, I just went with it. I didn't think, I - I forgot about the cameras and everything."

"And then he wasn't there when you woke up the next morning?" Bobby asked.

Dean looked up at stared at him in horror. "Fuck, they know about that too?" He hadn't told anybody that part of the story - not even Sam, when he'd been going all Dr Phil on him yesterday.

But Bobby was shaking his head. "No. That bit hasn't got out, at least as far as I know. I don't keep up with that crap."

"Then how do you -"

"He called yesterday," Bobby said frankly.

Dean frowned. "Who?"

"Castiel."

Dean's eyes widened in a mixture of surprise and disbelief. "What?"

"He called here, yesterday evening," Bobby reiterated. "Wanted to talk to you. I thought he was one of those goddamn journalists at first and hung up on him, but he called back pretty much straight away. Said he wanted to explain and apologise, maybe try to make it up to you."

Dean was dimly aware that his mouth was hanging open now, and he made a conscious effort to close it. "Why?"

Bobby shrugged. "Said he felt bad about leaving without waking you up or writing a note. This was the only way he had of contacting you."

Dean's head felt like it was spinning. He had no idea what to think. Castiel had left without a word, flying off to some photoshoot he hadn't even mentioned, and now he'd called Dean's boss in an attempt to apologise? How was he supposed to react to that?

Bobby took a piece of paper out of his pocket and slid it across the coffee table sitting between them. "He asked me to pass this on too."

Dean looked down at the note and saw what looked like a phone number scrawled on it. It took his tired brain far too long to process what it meant.

"He wants you to call him so he can talk to you properly," Bobby explained. "But it's up to you if you do it or not."

"He - wants me to call him?" Dean asked blankly.

"If you want to," Bobby replied, shrugging. "Don't feel obliged to, though. I didn't give him any promises."

Dean didn't say anything, his eyes fixed on the number on the piece of paper. A thousand thoughts were flying through his head, all saying different things. Some were urging him to call Castiel right now, to hear what he had to say, to find out why he hadn't mentioned needing to leave early, even to hear that gravelly voice in his ear again - though he quickly pushed that line of thought away. Others were telling him to ignore it, to throw the bit of paper in the trash and try to wipe every trace of Castiel from his mind, to forget any of this ever happened.

"Dean?" Bobby asked, the familiar voice interrupting his internal argument. "You okay?"

"I, um… I don't know."

"Take your time," Bobby advised. "You don't need to make your mind up right now. Hell, make him wait, regardless of what you decide to do."

Dean slowly picked the piece of paper up. "I… guess I'll sleep on it."

"Good idea," Bobby agreed. He got up from the couch and started to leave the room, but then paused in the doorway. "Just - be careful. I don't know much about all this celebrity crap, but Jo told me and Ellen what this Castiel guy's known for, and I don't like it. He talks a good talk, but if you want my opinion, he's bad news in the long run."

"Right." Dean nodded and tucked Castiel's number into his pocket, then looked up at Bobby and tried to smile. "Guess I'd better get ready to start working."

Bobby sighed, looking uncomfortable. "We were thinking it might be best if you don't work tonight," he admitted. "Not with all those reporters trying to sneak in. We don't want you getting harassed all evening."

"But - I don't want to leave you a person down," Dean protested.

"We already called Garth in," Bobby explained. "When the media showed up yesterday, we knew we didn't want them getting anywhere near you, so Ellen asked him to work your shift tonight."

"Oh." Dean felt completely useless. "So should I go back home?"

"Probably best not to, until the crowd's gone," Bobby advised. "Don't worry, we don't mind you staying back here. Means we can check on you, at least."

"I don't need you to check on me," Dean said, irritated. "I'm fine. Just… I don't know, I've screwed up enough already. I don't want to spend the whole night being a waste of space."

Bobby sighed. "You won't be a waste of space, Dean," he said. "And you haven't screwed up. This is not your fault, you understand? And if you get bored, I'm sure there'll be something you can do without being behind the bar."

Dean huffed and folded his arms in frustration. He heard Bobby leave and close the door behind him, and then there were only the sounds of muffled voices, presumably as the rest of the team were told what was going on. Dean let his head fall back against the couch and closed his eyes, trying to focus on the voices and block out the myriad conflicting thoughts that refused to stop going round in his head.

Castiel's number felt like it was burning a hole in his pocket. Dean had his phone on him - he could call Castiel right now and get it over and done with - but he wasn't sure if he wanted to yet. Bobby was right about him probably being bad news: despite being one of America's hottest and most sought-after models, Castiel's love life was nothing short of a train wreck, according to the media. Dean had known that for a long time. Getting involved with him - more than he already was, at least - was just asking for trouble.

But he couldn't deny that Castiel had left him wanting more - and not just because of the amazing sex either, though that was certainly a part of it. Dean had spent years thinking of Castiel as just a series of insanely hot pictures, but now he'd had a tantalising, intoxicating glimpse of the man behind that piercing blue gaze. And maybe he was reading too much into it, but surely such a high-profile celebrity wouldn't just give his number out like that to anyone…

Then again, maybe it wasn't a personal number and Dean would end up speaking to Castiel's agent instead, having to arrange a time to call like a friggin' GP appointment. He might just get a generic apology and maybe offers of a bribe to keep his mouth shut about what had happened. Bobby hadn't given any indications that Castiel had expressed interest in actually seeing Dean again - and why would he? Dean was a nobody, while Castiel was… well, the complete opposite.

"Fuck…" Dean muttered to the ceiling. There was no way he was going to reach a decision any time soon.

---------

An hour and a half into what was supposed to be his shift, Dean could no longer stand being stuck in the break room. To distract himself from the question of whether he should or shouldn't call Castiel, he'd first gone through all the voicemails and missed texts on his phone - most of them asking if he was all right - and had then spent a good half hour blasting ACDC through his iPod earphones. Neither of those things had had the desired effect, and he was now so desperate for something to do that he'd started reading the small print on the various award certificates on the walls.

No-one had come to tell him that it was safe to leave yet, and there were still five and a half hours to go until the bar closed.

Making a snap decision, Dean got up from the couch and left the break room. He didn't want to go out behind the bar, in case he really did cause a scene, so he headed towards the kitchen instead. Shots Fired didn't offer anything fancy in the way of food, so the kitchen wasn't all that big, but it did do some simple snacks that tended to be quite popular. Rufus, the Head Chef (as he liked to be called), never let anyone help with the actual cooking, but Dean hoped he might be able to do some prep, or washing up, or something like that.

As it turned out, he was in luck. Krissy Chambers, one of the teenagers Ellen had hired, was off sick that evening, so Dean was able to slot in next to her 'so-not-boyfriend' Aiden on the prep section. The bar was evidently pretty busy, with orders coming in at a steady pace, and Dean spent the time working his way through peeling a small mountain of sweet potatoes for Rufus's famous fries. Chatting with Aiden about normal things - school work, sport - helped take his mind off the phone number in his pocket, and it wasn't until he took his break in the middle of the evening that he remembered he still hadn't made his mind up about whether or not to call.

Sam and Charlie were sitting in the break room when Dean came in, sharing a plate of nachos, and they both stopped their animated conversation as soon as they noticed him.

"Dean!" Sam said in surprise. "I thought you'd gone home!"

"Nah," Dean replied, sitting down on the couch beside his brother and stealing a couple chips from the plate. "I've been hiding out in the kitchens."

"How're you doing?" Charlie asked, concerned.

Dean shrugged. "All right, actually," he answered. "How's it been for you guys?"

Sam and Charlie exchanged glances, and then Sam shrugged too. "Not too bad. It's really busy, but we kinda expected that."

"We've, um… we've had a few people asking about you - people who've got past the bouncers," Charlie admitted. "But don't worry, no-one's said anything. None of us can say anything, really, since you haven't told us much about what happened."

"Victor's been great," Sam added wryly. "I think he's in his element, having all these people to throw out for harassing the staff."

Dean wanted to smile. Victor was arguably the best bouncer they had, and he would have quite liked to see the guy in action against a load of nosey asshole journalists, but the fact that his friends were being hassled because of something he'd done made him feel like absolute crap.

"Business has been good, though," Charlie commented, attempting to change the subject at the look on Dean's face. "A lot of people have turned up because they saw the pictures of our show in the magazines. The White Wedding cocktail's selling really well too." She looked as if she was about to say more, but decided against it at the last minute.

Dean wasn't fooled. "What?" he asked suspiciously.

Charlie fidgeted. "Well… we've had quite a lot of people asking for the drink you made Castiel as well, but… none of us know which one it was."

"Um…" Dean blushed. "It's… not on the menu," he admitted. "It's one I… kinda made up. I haven't put it through Bobby and Ellen yet."

Sam and Charlie looked at each other again, Sam raising his eyebrows and Charlie grinning knowingly, and Dean blushed even more. He wasn't sure if he'd ever tell anyone the recipe now. The Blue-Eyed Angel cocktail was so firmly linked to Castiel in his mind: the name, the colour, even the flavour, since Dean had kissed him only a short time after he'd tried it. He could still remember the citrus taste in Cas's mouth, and that brought back a load of other memories…

"I don't think we want to know," Sam said dryly, and Dean suddenly snapped back to the present, his face feeling like it was on fire.

Charlie grinned widely at him, but thankfully changed the subject. "Anyway, we haven't had many people asking after you at the bar. I think the bouncers are chasing off anyone with a camera. And Bobby said it looks like most of the crowd has gone from outside too, since he threatened to call the cops on them, so he's hoping you might be okay to do your actual job again tomorrow."

"Awesome," Dean replied, an immense feeling of relief hitting him. He didn't want to be messing things up any longer than he already had. "By the way, when you go back out there, tell Garth I said 'thanks' for taking my shift tonight, will you?"

"Sure thing," Sam agreed.

Dean took another few chips from the nearly empty nacho plate and ate them slowly. He considered telling Sam and Charlie about Castiel's phone call to Bobby and the number sitting in his pocket - they were probably the two people who knew him best and he was sure they'd be able to give him some advice about what to do - but something was stopping him. Opening up about this particular dilemma would almost certainly mean telling them what he really thought about Castiel, and he wasn't sure he was ready for that, especially when he hadn't quite figured it out himself.

Maybe, if he hadn't made up his mind in a few days, he might ask them for their opinions. Maybe.

Eventually, Sam and Charlie had to go back to the bar for the rest of their shifts, and Dean returned to the kitchen. Rufus gave him a load of washing up to do, which kept him busy for the next hour, and then he helped clean down the work surfaces when the kitchen closed for the night. Then Rufus and Aiden went home, and Dean was back in the break room again with nothing to do except toy with the idea of plucking up the courage to call Castiel, ultimately concluding that he was just too chickenshit to actually do it.

Shortly after midnight, an hour before the bar closed, Bobby poked his head around the door - just in time to see Dean fly across the room on a swivel chair like a bored five-year-old, hitting the far wall with an unenthusiastic thud.

"Nice to see you're having fun," he remarked dryly, making Dean jump and almost fall sideways off the chair.

"Shit! Er - hey, Bobby," Dean said sheepishly. "Er - sorry 'bout that."

Bobby rolled his eyes. "Idjit. At least Rufus managed to keep you busy for most of the time. I reckon it's safe for you to go if you want to, by the way. There ain't many people hanging around anymore, and the ones that are seem to think the front door is the only way out of this place. If you take the back door, I don’t think they'll see you."

"Right," Dean agreed. He gave Bobby a grateful smile. "Thanks, Bobby. Sorry I've made things so difficult."

"What did I say earlier about apologising?" Bobby asked sternly. "We've been fine. And Ellen's had a phone call from Castiel's manager, who says he's willing to help us with some sort of legal stuff if they keep bothering us. Now go on and get home, have some sleep, and think about whether or not you're going to call this guy. Oh, and answer your goddamn phone tomorrow, will you? I'll be calling to let you know if I think it's safe for you to show up."

"I will," Dean promised.

Bobby nodded and waited for Dean to leave the room before following him to the back door, insisting on checking outside in the parking lot to make sure the coast was clear before finally allowing Dean to walk the short distance to his car. At least the Impala was black, Dean thought, as he quickly got into the driver's seat. If there were any photographers around, they would have a hard time seeing the car properly in the dark, and an even harder time telling who was driving.

He left the parking lot cautiously, glancing briefly at the few people outside the front of the bar, but none of them paid him much attention. He got a couple heads turning at the noise of the Impala's engine - and he couldn't exactly blame them for that - but there was no rush, no cameras flashing. Either he hadn't been recognised, or the people he could see weren't paparazzi at all.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Dean turned onto the road and put his foot down, already looking forward to crawling into his bed for the next ten or so hours.

---------

The next couple days passed far too slowly.

Bobby called on the first evening to advise Dean to stay home, and the combination of boredom and guilt almost drove him crazy. According to Sam, who was texting him updates during the evening, things were pretty much the same as they had been the day before. Bobby and Ellen had called in a few extra bouncers to help out, but there were still photographers crowding around outside and journalists trying to sneak in. Apparently they couldn't understand that Dean simply wasn't there.

When Sam phoned during his break, Dean couldn't help asking why the media was still so interested.

"Anything to do with the Novaks is big news," Sam reminded him. "They're up there with the wealthiest families in America. Michael Novak's made the Forbes rich list for the past eight years, and he's only thirty-five. Castiel's not doing too badly either."

"Doesn't mean they should be interested in me," Dean protested.

Charlie suddenly joined in the conversation, making Dean realise that he'd been on speaker phone the whole time. "Every time he hooks up with someone, the media starts wondering if it's going to be a serious thing or not," she explained. "You saw how crazy they went when he and Meg Masters confirmed they were dating, even though that only lasted six months. They'll probably be interested in you until the paparazzi spot him with someone else."

"Great," Dean muttered. "Well, he'd better hurry the fuck up."

Sam and Charlie laughed, but Dean's mood didn’t improve. After the call ended, he tried to cheer himself up with a Dr. Sexy marathon, pizza, and a few beers, but whenever he went to the fridge to get another bottle, Castiel's phone number would stare at him from its spot on the counter. Not for the first time that day, Dean considered just throwing the damn thing away - but like always, he didn't actually do it.

The second day seemed to be slightly better, though since it was one of Dean's regular days off, he still couldn't go back to work. Ellen told him that the crowd of hopeful photographers seemed a little smaller than before, and the journalists' questions to his friends had apparently drifted from just Dean and Castiel to general ones about the wedding, in the hope that someone would slip up at some point. Jo and Benny assured him that no-one had, especially since they were the only two people working that day who had been at the wedding, but Dean had never been more thankful that he'd barely told his friends anything about that night.

By the third day, his other regular day off, he decided to risk leaving his apartment. Staying indoors the whole time was actually making him go insane, and he needed to get some more groceries anyway unless he wanted to live off frozen pizzas. He felt a stab of apprehension as he left the apartment block and drove the short distance to the grocery store, but the trip was - thankfully - completely uneventful, apart from two people looking at him a little strangely while he was choosing some cod fillets.

He did, admittedly, take a trip down the magazine aisle just so he could cover up anything that still had pictures from the wedding, and he decided to treat himself to a car magazine while he was at it.

Back at home, Castiel's phone number continued to be a problem. An annoying voice in the back of Dean's mind had started telling him that, since he so obviously wasn't going to throw it away, he may as well just man up and call. The press wouldn't know that they'd spoken, so he didn't need to worry about anything finding its way into another magazine, and it was only a phone call. Bobby had said that Castiel only wanted to apologise and explain why he'd upped and left Dean the morning after the wedding. Where was the harm in that?

Three shots of Jack later, and Dean was standing in the kitchen with his phone in his hand, the number typed out on the screen. He wanted to have a fourth before actually hitting the call button, but thankfully the little voice of reason in the back of his head was yelling don't fucking drunk-dial him, idiot!, and the whiskey ended up staying on the shelf.

Dean took a deep breath, then finally - finally - pressed 'call'.

The phone rang just twice.

"Good evening, Gabriel's Crematorium - you kill 'em, we grill 'em! How can I help you?"

What? Dean felt his heart speed up in panic. That wasn't Castiel's voice. Had he put in the wrong number? What if Bobby hadn't copied it down right, or had misheard it? What if -?

"Hello?" the voice asked.

Dean swallowed. "Er - hi. Um… Is Castiel there?"

"That all depends on who you are," came the far-too-cheerful reply.

"I, um… It's Dean. Dean Winchester."

There was a pause, and then the person on the other end gave a delighted laugh. "So you're the famous Dean, huh? Nice to finally speak to you! I've been hearing everything about you. Well, not everything, you'll be glad to hear - Cassie does keep some things to himself - but I've gotta say, kiddo, he's got it real bad! He didn't think you'd call, you know. Thought he'd properly screwed things up with you, and that he'd have no chance in Hell, but here you are!"

Dean blinked as the person, who still hadn't introduced himself, finally paused to breathe.

"Um - can I talk to him?" he asked tentatively.

"Oh yes, yes, all in good time," the voice replied dismissively. "But first, I have to ask, are you interested in a career in modelling?"

"Er - what?"

"Because if you are, you're speaking to the right person, and let me tell you, you could make it big time. I've seen all the photos, and the camera seriously loves you. You wouldn't need to worry about a thing - I'd take care of all that. I'd teach you everything you need to know. Trust me - I did all right with Cassie, didn't I? He didn't know a thing about it when he started, but look at him now. Do you -"

There was a weird noise that was possibly a door opening, and then Dean heard a deep, familiar voice that set his heart racing again.

"Gabe? Have you seen my - What the hell are you doing with my phone?!"

Dean sat there awkwardly, listening to what sounded like a brief scuffle as Castiel tried to take his phone back. In a way, it reminded him of the play-fights he and Sam used to have when they were children - and still occasionally had as adults. Then he heard a door slamming, and -

"Hello? I'm so sorry about that. Who's calling, please?" Castiel asked, his voice sounding right in Dean's ear, sending a sudden, delicious shiver up and down his spine.

"Um - hi, Cas," he replied, unable to stop his lips quirking up in a smile. "It's, um… It's Dean."

He heard Castiel suck in a surprised breath. "Dean?"

"Er, yeah. Hi."

"Dean…" Castiel's voice was soft and disbelieving. "You actually called."

"Yeah…" Dean almost didn't believe it himself, given the number of times he'd chickened out. "I guess I did."

"I didn't think you would," Castiel admitted. "I - oh God, I am so sorry about Gabe. Gabriel, I mean. My manager. The, er - the guy you were just talking to." He let out a short, embarrassed laugh. "This is the second time he's stolen my phone today. I don't know why I keep leaving it unattended. Er… He wasn't bothering you, was he?"

Dean gave a soft laugh too. "Nah, it's okay. He was just asking if I wanted to be a model, for some reason."

"I should've guessed," Castiel groaned. There was a pause, then Dean heard him sigh. "Dean, I… I'm sorry. For… for everything. The photographs, the press turning up at your work, the way I treated you… I'm so, so sorry."

Dean sat down on his couch and stared blankly at the coffee table as he tried to think of something to say. "It, um… It's okay," he said awkwardly.

"No, it's not," Castiel insisted. "It's not okay. Far from it. Leaving without a word like that… Dean, I never do that - not even to people who I have no desire to see again - and to have done it to you, along with everything else…" He trailed off with another sigh.

"Hester said you'd had to leave early for a photoshoot," Dean said hesitantly. He wasn't sure why he was trying to help Castiel justify his behaviour, but… the guy sounded genuinely upset about the whole thing. It was a bit jarring, compared to the suave, confident man who had completely and utterly seduced Dean at the wedding.

"Yes," Castiel affirmed quietly. "In Florida. I had to leave for the airport really early, and… I'll admit, I'd forgotten about it. What with the wedding and everything going on, and then meeting you, I… It just completely slipped my mind until my phone went off at about five in the morning. I thought about waking you up, but you looked so peaceful, so… beautiful - I couldn't bring myself to disturb you. Especially since we, er, hadn't had much sleep."

Dean blushed and gave an embarrassed laugh.

"I should have left you a note, I know," Castiel continued. "I meant to as well, but I ran out of time, and the car was there to take me to the airport, and I was running late as it was, and -" He stopped and sighed. "I'm not trying to excuse what I did, Dean. There is no excuse. I just… want you to know that it was not intentional. I had actually been looking forward to waking up next to you, too."

That made Dean's face get even redder, though he found himself smiling at the pictures those words put into his head. Castiel had the most amazing sex hair anyway, when it wasn't styled for one reason or another - Dean could only imagine what it would look like after he'd actually just rolled out of bed.

"Yeah, same," he admitted. "I, uh - I get it, though. You didn't want to miss your flight."

Castiel took a deep breath. "I know I have no right to ask this of you, but… will you let me make it up to you?" he asked.

Dean blinked in surprise. "Make it up, how?"

"Will you give me another chance? Maybe… let me take you out for dinner or something, so I can do things properly this time?"

"Seriously?" Dean asked. He had not been expecting that. "You - want to see me again?"

"I understand if you don't want to," Castiel said quickly. "But… yes, Dean, I would very much like to see you again. I'm not going to lie, I like you. I mean really like you. I don't want to see you again just to say sorry."

Dean had no idea what to say. He'd been expecting some brief, generic excuse, possibly a bit more casual flirting, but this? A sincere, almost grovelling apology and an offer of a dinner date? He was completely floored. It hadn't even crossed his mind that Castiel might actually want to see him again, and he didn't have a clue how to respond.

Bobby's words came back to him, warning him that Castiel was probably bad news, and Dean could remember the photographers swarming him, cameras going off in his face, the embarrassment of finding the paparazzi pictures in that magazine… If he accepted Castiel's offer, surely all of that would just get worse. Their dinner date might get interrupted by photographers sneaking into whichever restaurant they went to. People might start thinking it was something serious, even though Castiel didn't do 'serious'.

But despite all that, Dean realised, he still wanted to say 'yes'. It was a crazy, impulsive urge - one that went against every sensible, rational line of thought. The sort of feeling people described having right before they jumped out of a plane for a skydive. He had no idea what would happen. It could be the best decision he ever made, or the absolute worst. The initial euphoria could easily result in a horrific crash, or he could end up flying.

Dean had never been one to even think about jumping out of a plane, but here was Castiel, holding out his hand, metaphorically asking him to do just that.

"Okay," Dean replied, experiencing a strange rush of adrenaline that felt ridiculous, since he was sitting on the couch in his own living room.

There was a pause, then Castiel gave a surprised laugh. "Really?"

Dean grinned, even though Castiel couldn't see it. "Yeah."

Castiel let out a relieved-sounding breath. "Thank you," he said, almost reverently. "Dean, I - thank you. I mean it. I promise, I won't mess it up this time. I'll see if I can find somewhere we won't get bothered. I haven't been to Kansas City for a while, but I'm sure there'll be something. What sort of food would you like to go for?"

"Er… honestly? I don't mind," Dean answered. "I like pretty much anything, really, as long as it tastes good. And if there's pie, I'm sold."

Castiel laughed again, a proper laugh this time instead of a nervous or relieved one. "Pie. Got it. I'll see what I can do. When are you free?"

Dean thought about it for a moment. Being away from work for a few days had made him lose track of the days. "I've got Wednesdays and Thursdays off, so I'm around those evenings," he replied. "Other than that, I can do lunchtimes. I don't start work 'til early evening."

"How about next Thursday?" Castiel suggested. "A week from now? I've got an event in New York on Wednesday, but I'll be able to get to Kansas for Thursday evening."

Dean smiled. "Yeah, sounds good."

There was another slight pause. "I really appreciate this, Dean," Castiel said seriously. "I would've hated to leave things on such a bad note."

"Yeah," Dean agreed. "Me too."

"Is it all right if I call you again when I've arranged things?" Castiel asked.

"Sure. Might be a good idea to text first, if it's in the evening," Dean replied. "I might be working, so I could let you know when my break is."

"All right." Dean could practically hear Castiel smiling. "I hope things get better with your work," he added. "Gabriel said he'd talked to someone about helping to sort things out, but if you've managed to stay away from them for this long, hopefully they'll go away soon. And I'll do everything I can to make sure they don't see us next week."

"Thanks, Cas."

Dean expected their conversation to end there, but somehow they kept talking for more than an hour. Castiel asked about Dean's hobbies, which led to an in-depth discussion about cars (Castiel didn't know much about them, but apparently his brother was a total enthusiast and had repeatedly tried to educate him on the matter), cooking, and classic rock. Then Dean asked how Castiel's photoshoot went (and was subsequently bombarded with amazing mental images of the man posing with a car that was just about as sexy as he was), and how he could stand travelling by plane all the time, and what it was like to go to parties and hang out with a load of A-list celebrities.

Castiel had laughed at that question and said, "Maybe, if next Thursday goes well, I could think about showing you some time."

Dean, assuming that it was a joke, replied that if he got to meet Harrison Ford or Robert Downey Jr., he'd do whatever Castiel wanted, and that prompted a loud laugh and a number of increasingly dirty suggestions that left Dean in need of a cold shower.

When they eventually stopped talking, shortly after midnight, Dean lay in bed with a huge grin on his face. He had a date with Castiel Novak. A real, honest-to-God date, next week, with the guy he'd been crushing on for years. Some small part of him wondered what the hell he'd gotten himself into and when the inevitable panic would set in, but the rest of him was content to just lay there and smile like an idiot.

When he finally fell asleep, he dreamed of blue eyes, bright lights, and a slight taste of citrus.

Chapter Text

Miami, Florida

Castiel woke the next morning to the irritating sound of someone knocking on his hotel room door. Groaning and forcing his eyes open, he glared blearily in the direction of the noise, then fumbled for his phone on the nightstand to check the time. The screen was annoyingly bright, and when Castiel saw that it was only 9:30, he let out a frustrated sigh and closed his eyes again. Whoever was knocking would just have to wait.

He hadn't slept well during the night. His conversation with Dean had gone about a thousand times better than he'd expected, but after they'd finished talking he'd realised that he was faced with a new problem. He had a date to plan - a date that he absolutely could not afford to mess up. Everything needed to be perfect - the food, the conversation, the atmosphere, the location… even the weather, although of course Castiel knew he would have no control over that. Nothing was allowed to go wrong. Dean had, by some miracle, given him a second chance, and Castiel was determined to make it the best date of Dean's life.

As a result, he had been up most of the night on his phone, searching through pages of classy restaurants in Kansas City in an attempt to find the perfect place - only to end up with a stupidly long list of possibilities and no idea of how to narrow the options down. He had finally fallen asleep, after resigning himself to the fact that once again he would have to ask Gabriel for help, at just before 5am.

Four and a half hours' sleep was nowhere near enough.

Castiel had almost succeeded in dropping off again when his phone buzzed in his hand, the sudden vibration making him jump and nearly throw the offending device on the floor. The too-bright screen told him that Gabriel had sent him a text and, knowing that the man would go on to actually call him if he didn't reply soon, Castiel reluctantly opened it.

Breakfast! :D

Another groan found its way out of Castiel's mouth, followed immediately by a massive yawn, as he sleepily replied.

Fine m awake. Cme in

His eyes closed again, and when the phone vibrated with another message a few moments later, he succeeded in dropping it on his face.

Ur door's locked. Get ur lazy ass out of bed! I want details from last night's convo with the bf! ;) ;) ;)

Castiel scowled as he typed out the most eloquent retort he could come up with.

Assbutt

Without waiting for Gabriel's response, he rolled out of bed - getting the sheets caught around his foot in the process and ending up in an extremely disgruntled heap on the floor. If Gabriel hadn't ordered a large amount of coffee with this breakfast, someone was going to get hurt.

He disentangled himself from the blankets and shrugged on a bath robe, then grumpily shuffled across the room to open the door. Gabriel was waiting outside in the hallway, and Castiel was momentarily blinded by the obnoxiously colourful Hawaiian shirt he was wearing.

"Well, don't you look like a ray of sunshine," Gabriel remarked, visibly trying to stifle a laugh at the sight of Castiel's sleep-ruffled hair, bare feet, and generally barely-conscious state. "You really didn't need to go through all that effort just for breakfast, you know."

"Where's the coffee?" Castiel grumbled.

"All in good time, Cassie!" Gabriel replied, strolling through the door and over to the curtains, throwing them wide open to reveal a typically bright Miami morning. The two of them had decided to take an impromptu vacation in the city following the Michael Kors shoot, and even though this was the first morning that hadn't seen either of them nursing some sort of hangover, Castiel still winced and squinted against the sudden light. Gabriel raised his eyebrows in amusement.

"I arranged for breakfast to arrive at ten, since I figured - apparently correctly - that you'd still be half-dead any earlier than that. Now why don't you go wake yourself up and try to look a little less zombie-like while I admire the lovely view from your balcony and see if you've got anything good left in your mini-fridge."

Castiel gave a short, unintelligible grunt and obediently disappeared into the bathroom, grabbing some clothes at random on the way.

One long shower later, he was feeling markedly more functional - at least until he was getting dressed and realised which shirt his half-asleep self had picked out. It was bright blue and decorated with pink flamingos, and was undoubtedly the result of some drunken shopping trip. Whether said drunken shopping trip was his, Gabriel's, or Balthazar's fault, he couldn't remember, but apparently he'd also been drunk when he'd packed the shirt for this stint in Miami.

He considered rummaging through his other shirts to find something a little more sensible, but decided that finding out if the coffee had arrived yet was far more important.

Gabriel was sitting at the table on the balcony when Castiel left the bathroom, checking his phone and sipping a tall drink that looked like lemonade. A tray sat on the table too, laden with two plates of fluffy pancakes and - much to Castiel's delight - a generous pot of dark, freshly made coffee. He sat down, poured himself a mug, and took a large, grateful gulp.

"Feeling more alive now?" Gabriel asked, looking up from his phone.

Castiel finished his coffee with a satisfied sigh. "Just about," he replied.

Gabriel grinned and grabbed his plate of pancakes, pouring on enough maple syrup to give even the healthiest person diabetes. "I'm glad I've never woken you up when you've got a hangover," he remarked. "If you're that bad without one, I think I'd be safer poking a bear in the middle of winter."

"Ha ha," Castiel deadpanned, pouring himself another mug of coffee.

Gabriel looked him up and down, and smirked. "Nice shirt."

"Says the guy who looks like he's wearing a Hawaiian garden."

"Hey, I'm not the one who wears designer brands for a living," Gabriel pointed out.

Castiel rolled his eyes and ate a forkful of his pancakes. "Maybe I'm making a fashion statement."

"Maybe you are," Gabriel agreed with a grin. "So, are you going to tell me how your phone call with Mr Gorgeous Green Eyes went?"

Castiel couldn't help smiling. "It went well," he replied. "Better than I thought."

"Has he forgiven you?"

"I think so. I hope so, at least." Castiel paused. He needed to ask for Gabriel's help on planning this date, but he wasn't sure if he would be able to stand the inevitable smugness. "Gabe?" he asked tentatively.

Gabriel raised his eyebrows expectantly. "Mm?"

"Er - you wouldn't happen to know any restaurants in Kansas City that do really good pie, would you?"

"Maybe. Why?" Gabriel asked suspiciously. Castiel blushed, and Gabriel's eyes instantly lit up with excitement. "Have you got a date with him?"

Castiel tried to stop his smile getting too wide. "Next Thursday."

"Ha!" Gabriel grabbed his phone again and started tapping away at the screen. "Hold on a moment. I've got to tell Balthazar he owes me fifty bucks."

"You were betting on this?" Castiel asked incredulously. "Why do you always - wait, you told him I was going to talk to Dean?"

"Of course," Gabriel replied. "Why wouldn't I? He was wanting to know if he could have a shot if Dean turned you down."

Castiel rolled his eyes. "A shot at me or a shot at Dean?"

"Either of you, probably," Gabriel shrugged. "Or both. Knowing him, you might be getting an invitation to a menage-a-thirteen at some point soon."

"Great," Castiel sighed. "Please don't let him show up anywhere unannounced."

"I won't, don't worry," Gabriel said dismissively. "Now, about this date. You said you wanted good pie?"

Castiel nodded. "Dean said he wasn't picky, but pie is his favourite."

"Right. Let me have a think…"

Castiel went back to his coffee and pancakes while Gabriel sipped his lemonade thoughtfully, then scrolled through something on his phone, tapping his fingers absently on the table.

"Ah-ha! Got it," he announced after a few minutes. "My friend Baldur owns a rather nice restaurant in downtown KC. I don't know about pie specifically, but the place has some of the best desserts in the Midwest."

"Coming from you, that's saying a lot," Castiel remarked. Gabriel had eaten his way through most of the dessert menus in the country, and had developed a rather discerning palate. "Can we get a table for next Thursday evening?"

Gabriel grinned. "Well, normally that place has a waiting list about a month long," he said, "but luckily for you, Baldur owes me a favour. He'll fit you in, don't you worry. I'll call him later. Will you want anything extra with your table? Champagne? Candles? Rose petals? Your own private string quartet? A horse-drawn carriage?"

"What? No!" Castiel replied. He frowned. "Do they even offer that stuff?"

"Well, maybe not the string quartet or the carriage," Gabriel admitted, "but they could probably do the rest if you asked."

"No, Gabe," Castiel sighed. "It's a first date, not a marriage proposal. I want to keep it nice and simple. Less to go wrong that way."

"Oh, fine," Gabriel conceded. He started typing out a note on his phone. "So that's one table for two… next Thursday evening… at Elysian Fields. Done."

---------

Kansas City, Kansas

Dean spent the next seven days experiencing a wild mixture of nerves, excitement, and smugness.

The morning after his late-night phone call with Cas, Bobby had called to let him know that it was safe for him to return to work that evening. The media attention around the bar had died down, either thanks to whatever legal action Gabriel had threatened them with, or because Cas's fling with Dean was now almost a week ago, and therefore old news.

While he was pleased to finally be able to do his damn job again, being reminded of the paparazzi's interest in him made Dean wonder what the hell he was getting himself into by agreeing to see Cas again. There was no way their date would go unnoticed. Cas was practically followed around by a load of asshole photographers, and Dean didn't think he could cope with them latching onto him too.

When Cas texted him shortly before his shift was due to start that evening, the panic got even worse.

Hello Dean. I've got us a table at the Elysian Fields restaurant, next Thursday at 7:00pm. I hope that's all right with you. Let me know if it's not, and I'm sure I can change it. -Castiel

Dean had never been to Elysian Fields before, but he knew where it was - and how fancy it was. Attached to one of Kansas City's best hotels, the five-star restaurant had won numerous awards and was owned by one of the country's top chefs. He had no idea how Cas had managed to get them a table there with less than a week's notice, but the thought of going there, where he would stick out like a sore thumb, was terrifying.

Part of him wanted to beg Cas to change the booking to somewhere less fancy - but going to some run-of-the-mill burger joint instead would only make Cas look out of place, and Dean definitely didn't want to embarrass him like that. The guy had probably never even set foot in a place that served food for less than $10, and the last thing Dean wanted was for the press to go nuts about how Cas was lowering himself like that for some nobody he hooked up with at his brother's wedding.

It wasn't until he checked his phone again during his break that some of the nerves gave way to giddy excitement. Cas had texted him again - twice - and the first message made a silly smile creep onto Dean's face:

As much as I like being in Miami, I wish it was next week already. I can't wait to see you again. xxx

The second just made the smile worse. Cas had sent him one of those selfie-things that Dean had never gotten the hang of, the picture showing Cas on a beach, wearing a ridiculous shirt and holding a fancy-looking cocktail. He was looking at the drink critically, one eyebrow slightly raised, and the picture was accompanied by another brief message:

Yours are better. ;)

Butterflies were going crazy in Dean's stomach, and for a brief, insane moment, he forgot how nervous he'd been feeling before. This was Cas - gorgeous, amazing, ridiculously sexy Cas, who had given Dean one of the best nights of his life, braved Bobby's wrath in his attempts to contact him again, and could apparently make Dean's heart do a backflip with only two short texts.

Quickly, before his break was over and the butterflies calmed down, he typed out a reply.

Haha, glad to hear it. Plans sound good - fancy place! I can't wait either. Btw, nice shirt. :P

Cas's response was almost immediate.

It looks better on the floor. ;)

Dean blushed scarlet and had to quickly look around to make sure no-one was watching.

Dude I'm at work! Save the distracting mental images for when I'm not playing with flaming booze!

My apologies . Let me know when you're in bed.

If anyone walked into the break room now, Dean wasn't sure he could even begin to explain why his face was so red. He was no stranger to suggestive text conversations, but for some reason it was different with Cas. His fingers fumbled on the phone's screen as he wrote out another reply.

Won't be til after 1am I'm afraid. Gives you time to sort the shirt out tho. ;)

As he hit 'send', Dean knew he was falling for Castiel's infamous charm faster than he could down a shot of whiskey.

The flirty texts didn't stop there either, and every night Dean found himself sneaking quick glances at his phone when there was a lull in customers, the giddy feeling getting more intense each time. Sam was definitely suspicious, as were Charlie, Benny, Jo, and probably Bobby and Ellen too. Even though they had no idea that Cas was the reason for Dean's almost-constant good mood - only Bobby knew that Cas had been in contact since the wedding, and none of them knew anything about the up-coming date - they all noticed that he was looking unusually happy whilst acting pretty strangely, and whenever they asked Dean what was going on, he just added to their confusion by grinning and dodging the question.

Even the occasional journalist who managed to slip under the bouncers' radars didn't faze him like everyone seemed to think they would. Dean knew that the media had no idea that his relationship with Cas was anything other than a one-night-stand, and he felt an odd sense of satisfaction whenever his phone buzzed in his pocket with another of Cas's adorably romantic or downright filthy messages while he was in the middle of telling some nosey reporter that he barely even thought about the night of Anna and Michael's wedding.

All through the week, Dean toyed with the idea of telling someone what was really going on. He knew full well that they deserved to be told - especially Sam - but whenever he thought about what to say and how everyone would react, he chickened out, remembering Bobby warning him that Cas was bad news.

In the end, he decided to see how the date went first. If it went well, he would tell them. Probably. If it didn't… well, then he wouldn't have anyone giving him a load of fake sympathy. Besides, he didn't want the thrill of seeing Cas again to be dampened by the knowledge that his family and friends disapproved, and he sure as hell didn't want to have to deal with the inevitable 'I-told-you-so's if things did end up going horribly wrong.

---------

When Thursday evening finally arrived, Dean's nerves came back in full force.

Cas would be picking him up at 6:30 to drive him to the restaurant, having agreed with Dean earlier that having a chauffeur would just be awkward. It was now 6:25, and Dean had yet to decide on which tie to wear with his suit. He had spent an embarrassingly long time trying to figure out what he was going to say when Cas arrived, and had completely forgotten about getting all dressed up until he only had fifteen minutes left. He still wasn't at all sure how he was supposed to act. Despite the texts they'd been exchanging during the week, Dean didn't really know if Cas meant this dinner to just be a one-off.

It was stupid, he knew, worrying about things like that before the date had even started, but he didn't want to completely misread the situation and end up looking stupid. He was going to be bad enough just going to such a fancy restaurant.

His phone suddenly went off with a text, and Dean swore under his breath. That would be Cas, he knew. Cas was outside his apartment block, right now, and Dean still wasn't ready. He gave up on all the colour co-ordinating bullshit he'd been trying to figure out earlier, and just grabbed a tie at random instead. It would have to do. He couldn't keep Cas waiting.

He checked that he had his phone, keys, and wallet, then took a deep breath and left his apartment. He made a vague attempt at calming himself down in the elevator, but when he reached the front door of the building, his heart was beating so fast it was a wonder he hadn't passed out yet.

Mentally berating himself for once again behaving like a teenage girl, Dean steeled himself and opened the door.

Cas was standing on the step outside, looking predictably amazing. The dorky selfies he'd sent during the week had made Dean think he was prepared to actually see him again in person, but it turned out he was wrong. Just like at the wedding, Cas was wearing a black suit that had probably been tailor-made for him, and this time he had paired it with a deep blue tie that matched his eyes.

Dean felt a pathetic wave of relief that he hadn't chosen a blue tie for that exact same reason.

For a moment, they just stared at each other, as if they were both surprised that the other was actually standing in front of them. Dean opened his mouth to say something, but had completely forgotten everything he'd rehearsed earlier in his head.

Thankfully, Cas's brain was still functional.

"Hello Dean," he said with a small smile.

Dean couldn't help returning it. "Hey, Cas."

Cas's eyes wandered up and down Dean's body, and for a moment Dean was convinced that he had already made an idiot of himself by having his fly undone or something equally dumb, but then Cas was staring straight into his eyes again.

"You look amazing," he said softly.

Dean ducked his head self-consciously and awkwardly scratched the back of his neck. "Er - thanks," he replied, letting out a quiet laugh. "You're not looking so bad yourself. Not that that's unusual."

Cas laughed too, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "I beg to differ. You haven't seen me in the mornings."

"Yet," Dean added cheekily, then mentally smacked himself in the head. "Er - I mean -"

"Yet," Cas agreed, dropping his voice to a low, suggestive growl.

Dean blinked and felt his face grow warm. Cas held his gaze enticingly for a few moments, and when Dean was apparently suitably flustered, he broke into another grin.

"Shall we go to dinner?" he asked, gesturing to a shiny red Chevy Corvette parked on the road.

Dean managed to nod and followed Cas to the car, settling into the front passenger seat while Cas got behind the wheel.

"Have you been to Elysian Fields before?" Cas asked, as they started to drive down the road.

"No," Dean replied. "I've heard of it, but… Have you?"

"No, admittedly," Cas answered. "Gabriel has, though. He recommended it. He said it does good desserts, so hopefully they'll have some kind of pie."

Dean grinned. "Awesome. Er - you know you didn't have to pick somewhere just for pie, right?"

"Perhaps," Cas acknowledged, glancing over at him, "but I want this to be perfect for you, Dean. I really do."

Dean couldn't think of what to say to that. Cas sounded so sincere and suddenly looked alarmingly nervous, and Dean remembered that this was technically meant to be an apology dinner as well as a date. Cas was probably almost as terrified of screwing up as Dean was.

"It sounds great so far," he said.

"Really?" Cas asked hopefully.

Dean nodded. "Really."

They pulled up outside the restaurant a few minutes later, and Dean stared up at the place while Cas handed the car keys over to the valet attendant. Even from the outside the hotel looked super-classy, all polished and modern, metal and glass reflecting the bright city lights.

The sudden flash of a camera made Dean jump and turn around, worried that the paparazzi had found them already - but it was just a tourist snapping a picture of the hotel a few paces away. He let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding.

"Are you all right?" Cas asked, coming to stand beside him.

Dean nodded and gave a half-smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. I just… A camera went off and I -" He forced a laugh. "It's stupid. Don't worry."

Castiel looked a little guilty. "I can't promise that the media won't see us tonight," he admitted. Dean was surprised that he had known straight away what the problem was. "This place isn't somewhere they normally stalk, and my bodyguard, Uriel, is going to be hovering around all evening-" he gestured to an intimidating-looking, dark-skinned man standing nonchalantly a little way away "-so if anyone does spot us it shouldn't be too bad. Nothing like what you had to deal with at your work, but…" He sighed. "I do wish I could stop them completely."

"It's okay," Dean said quickly.

"Are you sure?" Castiel didn't look convinced, and Dean was starting to feel bad for bringing the subject up.

"Yeah, I'm sure," he replied, putting on a wide smile. "Let's go eat."

Cas finally smiled, and they headed up the steps and into the hotel. If Dean had thought the place looked fancy from the outside, it was nothing compared to the inside. It looked like something from an expensive interior design magazine. There was a bright chandelier dominating the ceiling of the entrance hall, smartly dressed staff behind the check-in desk, plush leather couches, decorative water features on the walls…

The restaurant was signposted through a pair of dark wood doors on one side of the lobby, and they walked into a large room filled with a whole range of delicious smells. The place looked pretty full, each of the red-draped tables occupied by elegantly dressed people. Dean unconsciously pulled at his shirt collar, wondering if anyone could tell that his suit didn't have a designer label.

"We have a reservation, under 'Novak'," Cas was saying to the host, who scanned the ledger in front of him and smiled.

"Ah, yes. A table for two. Right this way, if you please, sirs."

Dean felt Cas lightly tap his arm, and paid attention just in time to follow the host through the restaurant. They were led to a cosy-looking table in a semi-private alcove, and the host handed them each a dinner menu and Cas a wine menu before leaving again.

Cas looked across the table and smiled. "What do you think?" he asked.

Dean blinked. "Oh - er - I'm normally a red wine guy, but I'm not that fussy."

Cas smiled and set the wine menu on the table. "I meant the restaurant in general," he clarified.

"Oh," Dean said stupidly. He glanced around the room again. "It's pretty special, isn't it."

"It is," Cas agreed. "I sometimes get nervous when Gabriel recommends something, but in this case, I think he did all right."

Dean laughed. "Well, it's much nicer than the places I usually eat at," he said. "Better than the local Biggerson's."

"Biggerson's can be pretty good, though," Cas said with a grin. "I hear their turducken slammer is delicious."

"It is," Dean agreed fervently. He looked at Cas, amused. "I can't imagine you going to a Biggerson's."

Cas shrugged. "I've been known to go occasionally. A friend once dared me to see how many different ones I could visit before the press caught up with me. I think I got to about ten or so. But back to your original comment - I agree. Red wine is my favourite too." He flipped open the menu and offered it to Dean. "Do you want to choose? You're undoubtedly more of an expert than me, since you work with alcohol."

Dean shrugged self-consciously. He didn't work with wines very often, especially not expensive ones, but he opened the menu anyway and had a look down the list of reds. His eyes almost popped out of his head at the prices - there was only one option that was even remotely close to what he would normally spend, and it wasn't one that he particularly liked. He picked out one of the middle-priced ones that sounded similar to the sort he usually drank on the rare occasions when beer wasn't an acceptable option.

"How about this one?" he asked, passing the menu back to Cas and tapping the relevant line.

Cas smiled and nodded. "Sounds good to me."

They ordered the wine, and then there was a brief, comfortable silence while they both perused the dinner menu, broken prematurely when Dean's stomach complained about the assault of food-related thoughts when there was nothing to actually eat yet. He glanced up and blushed when he saw Cas's amused grin, but the other man just winked and said, "My thoughts exactly."

Their waiter soon arrived to take their orders, and before long Dean was tucking into an elaborately plated lamb dish while Cas had an equally fancy-looking filet mignon. The food was, as Dean expected, delicious and he was both pleased and secretly relieved that Cas seemed to like the wine he'd picked.

"Remind me to consult with you every time I need to pick a wine," Cas remarked, taking another mouthful from his glass.

Dean laughed. "I bet you've tried more than I have."

"Probably not, actually," Cas admitted. "Gabe and I usually stick with the same ones, unless the place we're at doesn't have them."

"So do I, really," Dean confessed. "I know a bit about wine, but I mostly work with spirits. There aren't that many cocktails that involve wine, and the ones that do would never use something like this."

Cas smiled. "I'm guessing it took quite a while for you to learn so many different recipes," he said. "Where did you learn how to do all those tricks while you make them?"

"Benny taught me," Dean replied, shrugging. "And Jo. And Charlie and Sam and the others later on. It was just the three of us at first, though, before the bar started getting known for it. It's probably thanks to Benny that it's doing so well now."

"From what I've heard, it's always been doing well," Cas remarked.

Dean shrugged. "It's never done badly, but when Bobby and Ellen first opened it, it took a while to get a decent amount of people in. It's not like we were the only cocktail place around."

"You've worked there since it first opened?" Cas asked, sounding impressed.

"Yup," Dean replied. "I actually worked for Ellen before too, at the bar she had in Lawrence. So did Jo - Ellen's daughter - and we both kinda moved with them, I guess. Bobby and Ellen paid for us to go to the KC Bartending School for a bit, so we'd actually know what we were doing, and when the place opened they hired us and a few others from the school, and then Benny when he moved up here from Louisiana. He asked if he could put in a few simple tricks he knew, Bobby and Ellen said he could, and people liked it so much he ended up teaching everyone else."

"Well, from what I've seen, he's taught you well," Cas said, making Dean blush self-consciously. "I really do need to visit at some point soon."

Dean smiled, though he had no idea how he would get through a shift without dropping something if he knew Cas was there. "So, er - how'd you start with the whole modelling thing?" he asked.

Cas gave a wry grin. "By accident," he replied. "I did a bit for fun while I was in college and got spotted, then kept it up as a side thing while I worked in one of my father's companies. Then Gabe contacted me and asked if I wanted to do it full-time, and - well, I'd always found corporate work boring, so I took the chance and ran with it."

"I didn't know you'd gone to college," Dean admitted. He'd guessed that Cas was intelligent, but it had never cropped up in any of the interviews he'd seen or read.

"It's one of my many secrets," Cas said with mock-seriousness. "But yes, I went to Harvard Business School. Same as Michael, same as my father… Same as pretty much everyone in my family, really."

"So did they mind that you quit working for your dad?" Dean asked.

Cas made a face. "My father wasn't too bothered, as long as I didn't get into drugs or anything like that. It was Michael and our uncle, Zachariah, who cared most, but neither of them are easy to please anyway. Michael came around once he saw that I was enjoying myself. Zachariah was more of an ass about it. He's not particularly impressed with other aspects of my life either, and he wasn't afraid to show it at first, but now Michael's his boss so he can't say anything against me. He still barely speaks to me, unless we run into each other at some family do and he's trying to impress Michael for some brown-nosed corporate thing."

Dean blinked. "Your brother employs his own uncle?"

"Yes," Cas said wryly. "He already worked for our father, and when Michael took over, he just kept him on. Zachariah hates it, but he's been treading on thin ice since Michael overheard him bad-mouthing me to one of his co-workers, and he'd rather keep his paycheck than push it any further."

Dean laughed. "Well, I'd fire anyone who insulted Sam, and I'm not even allowed to fire people."

"You're close to your brother then?" Cas asked.

Dean nodded. "Yeah. Real close. I practically raised the kid, 'til he went off to college. He's crazy-smart - got himself a full ride to Stanford and graduated with a law degree. He had a pretty decent job in a law firm too, 'til the company went bust, then he moved in with me for a bit and Bobby took him on at the bar. It was only meant to be a temporary thing 'til he found himself another law job, but he ended up asking to take the same course me and Jo did, and now he's there permanently, bought a house, married a super-hot doctor… He's doing good."

"You're obviously proud of him." Cas was smiling, but Dean suddenly realised that he'd been rambling, so he just nodded and had some more wine to cover his embarrassment.

It was weird - he'd been expecting Cas to be as openly flirty during this date as he had been when they'd first met, making it very clear that he wanted to get in Dean's pants as quickly as possible, but instead they were actually talking, getting to know each other, as if… Well, as if this wasn't just about having a fancy dinner and wild sex. As if this might actually be something… dare he say 'serious'? Was that even possible, given the sort of history Cas had? Dean's wasn't much better either - just minus the near-constant media coverage and crazy orgies.

He inwardly berated himself for even thinking that far ahead. The date wasn't over yet - even though things were going well so far, there was still plenty of time for Dean to fuck things up somehow - and he had no idea if Cas's feelings were anything close to his own.

"Dean?" Cas asked, looking concerned. "Are you all right?"

"Hmm?" Dean asked, blinking to break himself out of his thoughts. "Oh - yeah. Yeah, I'm good." He finished off his meal and grinned. "That was awesome."

Cas grinned back. "It was," he agreed. "And I think we might be needing another bottle of wine soon. This one won't last us through dessert, at the rate we're going."

Dean gulped at the thought of those prices on the wine menu again, but Cas had already caught their waiter's attention and was ordering another bottle as well as asking for the dessert menu. That was another thing that scared Dean - if they did end up trying out a serious relationship, how the hell was he supposed to take Cas out for dinner like this? Cas didn't seem at all fazed by the cost of everything they were eating and drinking tonight - what if spending this much on dinner was normal for him?

"What do you fancy?" Cas asked, offering Dean the dessert menu that had managed to materialise on the table without Dean noticing.

"Er…" Not wanting to let on about his internal panic, Dean took the menu and had a look, his eye immediately drawn to the 'maple pecan pie' listed as the daily special. He glanced up at Cas suspiciously, wondering if it was just a coincidence that his favourite dessert happened to be there on the night of their date, but Cas looked completely innocent, refilling their wine glasses with the last of their first bottle and starting on the second.

"It's gotta be the pie," Dean said decisively.

"They have pie?" Cas asked, looking both surprised and pleased, though Dean wasn't fooled.

Dean handed the menu back and pointed. "Yup. Sounds awesome, too. I haven't had maple pecan before."

"Huh." Cas blinked at the menu, then looked up and smiled. Dean couldn't help grinning back. The thought that Cas may have actually asked the restaurant manager to put pie on the menu, just for him, was making him feel giddy - or maybe that was the wine. Or Cas's eyes. Or a combination of all of those things.

When the waiter arrived with their desserts, Dean's mouth started watering before the plate of pie had even reached the table. Cas had a fancy-looking panna cotta with some bright red fruit thing, but Dean noticed that he completely ignored the dish while Dean dug into his pie.

The first mouthful was practically orgasmic.

"That good?" Cas asked, his eyes lighting up with amusement, and Dean blushed when he realised that the moan he'd let out hadn't just been in his head.

"Hell yes," he replied. "Man, I could live off this."

Cas laughed and finally took a spoonful of his dessert too. "I don't think that would be very healthy," he said with mock-seriousness.

"Screw healthy," Dean said dismissively. He paused, then blushed again. "Er - you want to try some?"

"I'm allowed to?" Cas asked, raising one eyebrow.

Dean shrugged and smiled shyly. Cas reached over to take the tiniest spoonful of the pie, and Dean may have paid far too much attention to Cas's lips as he ate it.

"You're right, it is delicious," Cas remarked. He gestured to his own plate. "Would you like some of mine?"

Dean nodded, but before he could reach over with his spoon, Cas had scooped up a generous amount with his own and was offering to him across the table, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

His face growing steadily redder by the second, Dean leaned forwards and carefully ate the spoonful of panna cotta, the happy, silly haze in his head prompting him to meet Cas's eyes as he did so. Much to his satisfaction, he heard Cas quietly suck in a breath, and he grinned; it was about time the sexy bastard got a taste of his own medicine.

Cas ate the rest of his dessert rather quickly after that, and Dean took the opportunity to savour his pie and the rest of his wine. Cas had stopped drinking now, since he was driving back - both of them had apparently forgotten this when they'd ordered the second bottle - but he still managed to pay Dean back by licking his lips enticingly whenever he had a drink of water.

By the time Dean finished his pie, it had turned into an all-out competition, and as nice as the meal had been, both of them were now extremely eager to get back to Cas's car and out of anywhere public. Cas paid - without letting Dean see the price - and left a hefty tip, and then they were walking back through the hotel lobby in what was meant to be a sedate manner, Dean hoping like mad that the tightness in his pants wasn't visible.

Cas picked up his car from the valet attendant, and for a moment Dean was worried that the mood would be lost as Cas concentrated on driving - but after only a couple minutes, they were pulling over at the side of a dark, quiet road. Cas put one hand on the back of Dean's head and pulled him closer, their lips practically smashing together in their combined fervour. Hands quickly started pushing at jackets, and the confined space of the car was becoming increasingly annoying as their desperate, hungry kisses got more and more enthusiastic.

"Cas," Dean somehow managed to breathe out. His head was resting against the window while Cas tended to the sensitive skin on his neck. "When we… get back to mine, do you… do you want to… come in for some… some, er… coffee?"

Cas chuckled softly. "I can't believe you used that line on me," he murmured, his lips still touching Dean's neck, the words creating small vibrations that very nearly drove Dean crazy. "But hell yes. Coffee sounds like an excellent idea."

He pulled away and gave Dean an exaggerated wink and a ridiculously amazing smile, then somehow - Dean wasn't sure how anything upstairs was functioning anymore - started the car again.

Dean had never been so grateful that he didn't live that far from the centre of Kansas City, and before he knew it, Cas was pulling up on the road outside the apartment building. They stole more quick, eager kisses as Dean fumbled with his keys, and Cas's shirt was almost completely unbuttoned before the elevator brought them to the right floor.

When they made it to the privacy of Dean's embarrassingly messy apartment, more clothes came off, being thrown carelessly on the floor or on bits of furniture, and Dean was barely able to gasp out directions to his bedroom as Cas sucked a hickey onto his collarbone.

---------

Dean would never admit to being the little spoon in any relationship, but when he woke up the next morning to find Cas snuggled against his back, their legs still tangled together and a warm, toned arm draped across his waist, he could honestly say that nothing had ever felt more perfect.