fic: i say, but i mean
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Dec. 12th, 2012 | 07:13 pm
Title: I Say, but I Mean
Warnings: lots of fluff
Word Count: 4036
Summary: Dean runs bed & breakfast. Cas works in a coffee shop.
Notes: for my friend Bexy, for her birthday. [also on ao3]
Dean Winchester didn't so much as dislike the cold as virulently despise it. It wasn't that he was particularly inexperienced with the general concept of it, but rather that Northern Vermont in winter was more in the "fucking frigid" range of temperatures compared to what he was normally used to categorising as "cold" back home.
Suffice to say that was strike one against the state. Strike two was the fact that, with an admirable staff of one--that being himself--at his newly opened bed and breakfast, Dean was required to brave the world outside to trek to the nearest café for freshly ground coffee at the dismal hour of 5 A.M. He had not had the foresight to buy his own coffee grinder. On second thought, maybe that was a strike against him.
Regardless of who or what was at fault (it was probably Dean), his too early and torturous journey to the nearest coffeeshop through as yet unploughed streets and sidewalks is what eventually led him to the acquaintance of one Castiel Milton. And, if Dean were honest, meeting Cas quickly cleaned all the other strikes against Vermont away.
That said, their first meeting wasn't exactly smoothly sailing, and if Cas' first impression of Dean wasn't as alluring as Dean might have otherwise hoped, then Dean's first impression of Cas also left much to be desired. Cas blamed it on the cold. Dean blamed it on Cas being kind of an asshole (although still, an asshole who very much imprinted himself on Dean's mind for many good dreams to come).
The thing was, Dean really hated the cold, especially if he had to drive 20 minutes into town through a mild version of a snowstorm, and especially if it also meant walking 5 minutes between the nearest and clearest parking space and the door of the Ambrosia café with wind chill freezing his face off. Any decent, empathising person would then understand Dean's ensuing state of mind as he stumbled through the door of the shop.
The first thing Dean notices is how empty the place is, although Dean supposes that makes sense considering the hour. He shuffles the snow off the soles of his feet before approaching the counter. It is only when at the cash that he notices the second--although perhaps most important--detail of his morning visit: the ridiculous handsomeness of the cashier.
With dark hair that Dean's mind can only justify as being sex-ruffled, and a piercing cerulean stare that immediately begins to warm Dean up, Dean can only wonder if the shop does not have the most apt name indeed: food of the gods, served by the gods themselves.
He orders his grounds and then a large americano for himself, and waits at the counter of the mostly desolate shop while the lone employee behind the counter works on. "So, you a morning person?" he asks, making an attempt at small talk despite himself. Get a grip, Winchester.
The employee's reply is curt. "No."
Well. "Tough luck getting the A.M. shift, then," Dean tries again, at least trying to get the guy to look at him one more time. He finds himself already missing that intense blue gaze.
Unfortunately, Blue Eyes replies again with a low and flat tone without engaging him. "Indeed, sometimes we have to deal with customers who slam open doors and make inane conversation."
Taken aback, Dean immediately throws his hands up in defense. "Whoa, dude, okay--"
"Here is your coffee," he interrupts sharply, finally looking up as he hands over the steaming brew. He then flicks his eyes to Dean's red and weather-raw ears, not yet recovered from his morning travels. "I'd invest in a hat."
Now, Dean wanted to say "why don't you invest in some customer service, dick," but the comeback was somewhat lost beneath the weight of such a sensible suggestion. Instead, he only says, annoyed and sarcastically, "Yeah, thanks for that," and makes sure to slam the door again on the way out. He promptly makes a resolution never to come to this establishment again.
His resolution lasts a week.
To be fair, his week as a result of his annoyance is actually quite productive. He hires two employees to help with the workload and bookings, attends to more guests than he'd ever thought he'd see in his first month (mercifully all of whom are confirmed tea-drinkers), Skypes his kid brother and actually pays attention when he gushes over his professors and classes, and after going over the books projects himself to be well under budget for the next month coming. Riding on his productivity high, he decides to treat himself and his wonderful two new employees to a night out at the end of it.
And, that afternoon, he buys a coffee grinder.
Turns out, Anna and Jo, the two girls he'd hired on the spot when they'd come in for their separate interviews, had also hit it off with each other, and so their evening was relaxing and fun enough that Dean might even call it comfortable, a claim he rarely--if ever--made after knowing someone for only 7 days.
At the end of the night, when they abandon the warmth of the bar and their last pints of beers to hit the frosted concrete of the streets outside, Jo begs off any further activities to walk home to her mother's. Dean and Anna offer to walk her home, and, after dropping her off and swaying only a little as they wave goodbye, head off back towards the main drag. Dean knows he's a bit too buzzed to drive home yet, but he already craves the warmth of his car. It is precisely then that Anna suggests an alternative to biding his time away on cold unholstery that isn't even heated.
"There's this great café just around the corner that's open all the time," she says. "We could grab a coffee while you sober up."
The suggestion is just a bit too good to pass up, so Dean shrugs, and follows Anna around the corner, only to stop in his tracks when he sees the sign above the café in question. Of fucking course.
"Is this place open 24 hours?" Dean asks incredulously, eyeing the windows of the shop with wariness as he huddles deeper into his jacket. He didn't think the town was big enough for anything to be open this late that wasn't the drive-thru at the McDonald's by the highway.
"Yeah," Anna says. "My brother was super into the idea after working at a 24 hour place on campus when he was at school--something about the night time vibe that he enjoyed. Luckily there are enough students from the community college here that like to use it too or else it wouldn't have much use."
"Wait, is your brother the guy that works there?" Being in that position, Dean honestly can't fathom why one would subject themselves to being awake and at work so early unless it was a personal business investment.
"Yes, I'd say my brother works at the shop he owns...?" Anna trails off, the roll of her eyes evident in her voice as she skips off towards the door.
"No, yeah, obviously," Dean begins to clarify as he catches up. "I meant the dark haired guy, blue eyes?"
Anna stops just short of going in to frown before realisation dawns on her. "Oh! No, no, that's not him. I mean, yeah, Castiel is my brother too, but it's my brother Michael who owns the place. Cas just works for him."
And there it was. "Makes sense," Dean mutters to himself, but Anna's ears are astute enough even with three beers in her to ask what he means.
"Dude doesn't seem all that happy about where he's at, is all," Dean replies quietly. Truth was, it was a feeling Dean was all too familiar with, but memories of his father seemed so far away now under the warm street lamp light and Anna's smiles. "I know working for family can do that to you," he says simply instead, and Anna, bless her, picks up on that he doesn't want to talk about it further.
It's her turn to shrug. "Cas is--well, he's Cas. He can come off a little... quiet."
Dean laughs at the understatement. "I'd say more perturbing."
"That too," Anna grins. "But no, he's cool, you'd probably like him."
Dean's laugh this time is a little low on mirth. "I don't think so."
"Oh? You got something against my brother, Winchester?" Anna mock accuses, bumping her pocket-stuffed arm into his.
"The opposite--I think he has something against me. I went in there last week to get coffee before I got everything started for the morning and he acted like my presence was personally insulting to him."
"He's not really a morning person."
"No kidding," Dean huffs, and dares a glance through the glass to see if he can spot the man in question.
"Trust me, you'll get on great. At least you have to try his hot chocolate. It's fucking divine," and with that, Anna pushes at the door with her back, and winks at him before abandoning Dean to his grudges.
Dean has no doubt, and, fuelled by curiosity and a grumbling stomach, follows her in.
The mysterious barista named Castiel is not to be found for the first hour of their stay. In his place, they're served by a peppy and charismatic girl named Charlie that Dean would totally have gone for if not for the fact that, although she indulged Dean's innocent flirting with an elegance and ease, was making quite obvious advances on Anna, who amusingly had no idea it was happening. To be fair, Dean did increasingly think Anna might only have eyes for Jo.
At precisely 1:45 a.m., the aforementioned brother arrives. Already, Dean's buzz has waned enough for him to appropriately steal himself for what surely will be a rough encounter. Anna, however, allows herself no such reservations, and pounces on Cas as soon as he enters the shop.
"Cas! I feel like I haven't seen you in forever!" she squeals as she hugs him, and, to Dean's astonishment and the disturbing of his preconceived notions of the guy's stoicism, Castiel hugs her back with a small, but warm smile.
"It's good to see you, too," he says, and yeah, that's the voice Dean remembers. All he has to do is remember he hates the guy and his body will stop feeling all funny.
Apparently, Cas' shift runs from 2:00 to 6:00 A.M., and though it's almost as dead tonight as it was the last time Dean was here at abysmal hours, they barely see any of him, as he's either making drinks or somewhere in the back preparing stuff for the morning rush. It's only at the end of their stay, after their hot chocolates are finished (and they were divine), and as Anna's head has dropped fully into her arms with exhaustion, that Cas comes over.
"I can take her home," he says quietly, gravely voiced smoothed into something approaching soft so as not to disturb his sleeping sister, "if you'd like to leave."
It takes Dean a moment through his own encroaching tiredness (thank god they have no guests arriving until tomorrow evening) to register that Cas is even talking, and to him no less. "No, no," he says, getting up, and reaches a hand over their table to shake Anna awake, "it's no problem, man."
Suddenly Cas places a solid and warm hand on Dean's soldier, stopping him. "Dean," he impresses, voice still soft but firm, "you need not be her knight tonight, she'll be fine. Go home, get some rest."
It's a testament to how exhausted Dean is himself that he neither protests further nor questions the fact that Cas said his name, and acquiesces. He rubs a hand over his face before picking up his coat. "Okay, um, tell her she can take tomorrow off, though. And if she asks, yes, I already gave the day off to Jo, too."
And by god, Dean would swear Cas almost smiles at him. "I'll tell her that."
"Ah, thanks, by the way, for the cocoa. Anna, was right, it was awesome."
It was so good, in fact, that as Dean fumbles briefly with the sleeves of his jacket, he wonders what it would be like to have Cas make that for him at home. It's a silly thought, but one that distracts him long enough to see him through buttoning up and fishing his gloves out of his pockets.
"Yes, it is something of my specialty," Cas boasts, and it's more than a little it attractive on him. Dean stands somewhat awkwardly by his sleeping coworker as he tries to decide what would be an appropriate farewell. Cas beats him to the punch.
"I see you headed my advice," he says, pointing at Dean's head, where his newly purchased grey woolen toque sits snuggly over his ears.
"I was going to get one anyway," Dean evades, which is only half a lie, but it makes Cas smirk.
"Indeed." he just says.
It's then that Dean heads for the exit, but stops short of the door before turning around, as something occurs to him. "Truce?" he asks. Dean was never one for the "it never hurts to try" ethos, because that is a lie, but somehow with Cas, he desperately wants it to be true.
Cas ducks his head, and busies himself with wiping down their table. "Truce," he agrees, and Dean's dreams that night are filled with the smell of coffee and barely hidden smiles.
Buoyed by the energy of a much better second encounter, for Dean the next week is even more productive than the last. He Skypes his brother twice, makes plans for him to visit over spring break, and receives a very good rating on what Dean is told is a very good hotel review site. He also manages to treat his palate to the wide array of fair trade coffees at Ambrosia, stoping in once a day on the off chance a certain someone is working. Although even when he's not, Dean always enjoys a good conversation about Star Trek with Charlie before heading off back to the Hunting Lodge Inn.
Despite the fact that Dean had original envisioned Vermont as a total escape from life and people and his own mistakes, with people like Jo and Anna, and his ever friendlier acquaintance with Anna's brother, it begins to turn out rather like a second family. As nice as a thought as that is, it's also kind of terrifying.
Because for Dean, for all that family means everything to him, for all that his brother Sam is the best person that Dean knows and the person he'd unquestionably do anything for, he still feels the weight of his father's hollow excuses, unfair accusations, and too-long absences to feel like he even deserves one anymore. The memory of his mother hung even heavier after she died, and though it can be a balm for Dean to remember the sweetness of her kiss, it makes him ache for a home he wonders if he ever even knew.
So, the terrifying thing is, Dean wonders if it is even fair of him to start to feel like he might have found it, in the walls of his own business, in the laughter of his news friends--he wonders if it's even fair of him to call here home when his mother will have never stepped through the threshold. He hopes she would be happy for him.
And, as Dean's thoughts turn to Cas, and the excitable hope bubbling in the pit of his stomach, he hopes she would have liked him, too.
Despite their steely first meeting, Dean and Cas had settled into something good. Not only did they put on a very good show of civility every time they met now, either at the shop or in Anna's company, but their interactions were becoming something akin to that of friends. Astonishing. And encouraging.
Certainly encouraging enough for Cas' sister, and so when their tentative flirtations and frankly disgus
Her masterplan ultimately ends up being rather innocent, and it works so efficiently that she is able to scrap her more devious contingencies. Basically, it entailed getting Dean and Cas in the same room with no one else around, which sounds simple only if one forgets that up until this point, their relationship was mostly based through others'. But Anna was determined, and, after a month of Dean's less than subtle visits to Ambrosia during Cas' shifts, and after four weeks of seeing Cas desperately try to hide his blush every time her boss' name was mentioned, Anna made her move.
Which is how Castiel came to be standing in the foyer of Dean's inn.
"What are you doing here?" Dean asked, coming down the central steps after just finishing tidying up a former guest's room, carrying a stack of towels to be washed.
"Anna texted me to come pick her up," Cas explains, as he peers curiously around the entry way. Sporting a long tan overcoat (which has to be way too light for this weather, Dean thinks) over a dark blue sweater that does him all kinds of favours, Cas standing awkwardly at Dean's door is probably one of the most adorable things Dean's ever seen.
Dean lays the towels down on a side table by the coatrack to the left of the doorway. "Dude, she's not here, she already went home with Jo."
Cas knits his brow in confusion. "Why then--?" he begins, which is exactly when Dean realises what's happened with a laugh.
"I think you sister was fucking with you. It's kind of the purview of siblings," he says, and considering the pranks he's pulled on Sammy in the past he is definitely in a position to know.
But Cas is ever-critical. "This seems like an awfully mild practical joke. I can just as easily drive back," he says, car keys dangling and clinking in his hand.
Dean looks down at his stack of towels and then rubs his palms on his jeans. Oh god. "No, I think--I think it had to do with me."
"Um, Jesus. Anna talks about you a lot okay? And I talk with her," he tries to explain without completely incriminating himself. "Not that I talk about you a lot! Only a bit--never? We talk, you come up," he tries to save weakly. "I think Anna might have been trying to... set us up?"
Cas' confusion only deepens, which is the worst thing that could happen for Dean's concentration and attempts to clear the misunderstanding up, because no one should look that hot in bafflement. "Why would she resort to this to do so?"
And there he had it. "Because you would have said no otherwise. Dude, it's fine," Dean covers, hiding his plummeting disappointment with moving to drop the towels into the laundry shoot by the entrance to the kitchen.
"But I wouldn't have said no."
Dean freezes, letting go of the lid handle of the shoot as he lets it slap closed on its own momentum. "I--what?"
Cas steps closer, shoulders ridid but eyes warm. "I would have happily agreed to go on a date with you, Dean."
"You're serious," Dean half asks and half states as he turns to look at him.
"You're a very handsome man," Cas explains, thinking by Dean's incredulity that Dean needed his reasoning, "and I think kinder than your brashness may sometimes suggest. Does the idea of dating me off-put you?" Cas asks somewhat joking, but sobers when Dean doesn't immediately respond, still too caught up that Cas is into him. "Well then, I'll just--"
"No!" Dean exclaims, reaching out to grab Cas' arm at stop him from turning around. "Wait, um, fuck," he drops the hand quickly as he struggles to find a way to say this that's not as embarrassing as he's already been, "you should stay."
Cas' reply is cautious. "Is there a reason to?"
Dean grins. "I have good coffee?"
"That coffee is from my shop."
"It's still good coffee."
"It would taste even better if you had it with me," Dean proposes, and hopes.
A smile peeks at the edges of Cas' lips. "It might."
"Are you asking me on a date, Dean?" Cas asks plainly.
"I might be."
"You either are or you aren't."
"I am," he answers, and he would have kissed Castiel right then and there if he didn't want to make sure to do this right. Instead, he motions for Cas to join him in the kitchen for that promised cup of coffee.
The next few days pass surprisingly cheerfully despite the ever worsening weather, which Dean puts entirely down to experiencing the world changing flavour of Cas' coffee tinged lips.
Their first non-date goes rather well, rising from the initial awkwardness with admirable speed to end up being an evening of watching Dr. Sexy over a second cup of coffee, and then a third, and with a light but cherished kiss goodbye. Their next real first date comes the day after, though in similar circumstances, when they perhaps spend less time watching the doctors on TV making out, as doing a little bit of it of their own. They only pause when Cas needs to catch his breath, or when Dean needs to catch a vital scene.
"This show is awful, I hope you know," Cas grumbles, voice lusciously wrecked from the power of Dean's mouth.
"It's either this or Star Trek," Dean makes his ultimatum, thinking Cas would certainly pick horny doctors over space aliens. Again, he'd be proven wrong.
"The sexual tension between Spock and Kirk is much more believable than these two," Cas says, motioning at the screen where two white-coat clad interns grind in a supply closet. "Although if you have Voyager or Deep Space: Nine on DVD I'd rather watch that."
Dean does, but becomes too turned around by Cas' geek affinity to do anything about it.
They don't watch any more TV for the rest of the night.
By the end of the month, Dean might even say he liked very much Vermont. And by the end of the month, he may or may not be falling just a bit in love with Castiel. It's a thought that might have been chilling to the Dean of last year, unready to settle down again, eager to just pass through, but as he lays in bed with Cas, as he wakes up next to him the next morning, it's a thought that warms him from head to toe. And that's not just the morning blow jobs talking.
"I hate the cold," Dean murmurs, and bury his nose into the crook of Cas' neck as they lie, sprawled languidly on Dean's bed.
"Well, it's a good thing I'm here to keep you warm."
Dean's mouth is now hot and wet against his throat, gears suddenly shifted from idle enjoyment to heated intent. "Mm, it's a good thing you're here to let me keep."
Cas moves back a little to look down at Dean, quirking the corners of his mouth as his hands runs down Dean's hips. "Oh, is that why you let me wear your shirt? To stake a claim?"
Dean slowly begins to slide a hand up under the 'AC/DC' emblazoned t-shirt Cas is currently sporting. "No, I let you wear my shirt so I can enjoy taking if off you," he whispers at Cas' ear.
"That's lazy logic, if you wanted me naked you should never have let me get dressed to begin with."
"Hmm, yeah, my mistake," Dean hums as he moves down to make his way back up Cas' chest with his tongue mapping the way. "Let's fix that."