A/N: So, I this is my first try at writing something ~fluffy. Also my first attempt at Destiel! As I'm sure you'll be able to tell, I'm much more comfortable with characters pining after each other than adorable cuteness. So it'll start off angsty and get fluffy as it goes on.
Dean ended the call with his younger brother, absentmindedly drumming his fingers on the hood of the Impala as he sipped his cheap coffee. He could see Cas well enough through the large front windows of the gas station; even though the buzzing neon "Open" sign obscured most of his view, he could still make out the former angel's silhouette. Dean let out a sigh as he watched the man he'd effectively evicted from the bunker perform his menial day job. He knew he'd had to choose between his brother and his...friend. He knew that Sam's vulnerable state had made his brother's safety the priority. But he still felt terrible for tossing Cas out all on his own.
Taking one last swig from what he wished was a liquid stronger than coffee, Dean stood to his full height and decided he might as well get this overwith; no matter how much he wanted to avoid his guilt, pining after Cas from across the street wasn't going to get the job done.
The chime above the door sounded as Dean pushed into the small corner store, and he decided at the last minute to go for casual rather than apologetic as he neared the front counter. He waited for the woman in front of him to finish purchasing her items, then strutted up to Cas with the most jovial smile he could muster.
"Any chance you've got any pie around here?" he asked, cheeky grin widening when Cas looked up in stunned confusion at the sound of his voice.
"No," came Cas's immediate response, and Dean was entirely caught off guard by his curt tone. It had never crossed Dean's mind that Cas would ever be anything other than stoked to see him again. "What are you doing here?" Cas continued a moment later, and Dean felt his smile fade entirely.
"It's nice to see you too, Cas," Dean said, not bothering to tone back his increasing bitterness.
"It's, uhm, Steve now," Cas told him in a low voice, leaning slightly forward as if they were sharing some sort of heavy secret. "And sorry, it's just that you surprised me. I was not expecting to see you again so soon," he added, a hint of sadness creeping into his voice.
Dean felt like the worst friend alive when he realized he hadn't even bothered to check up on Cas after kicking him to the curb. Of course he wouldn't have really known how to contact him, but finding him today hadn't been too hard; if Dean had wanted to he could have checked in on him, just to make sure he was ok being on his own again. If nothing else, it would have kept Cas from looking the way he did now- like he knew he'd been abandoned, and now that Dean had returned, he was starting to think he liked it better that way. Dean supposed tossing someone to the streets and then failing to reach out to them was a pretty sure-fire way to torpedo a friendship.
"Well you surprised me too, looking the way you do," Dean joked, falling back on his never failing crutch of humor. "I mean I know you have to lay low to keep off the angel radar, but this is some disguise man," he laughed, reaching forward to mess with the name tag pinned to Cas's bright blue sweatervest.
"Dean, we cannot discuss that sort of thing here," Cas hissed, swatting away Dean's hand as his eyes darted back and forth like he was on the lookout for the Soviet spies that could be listening in on their every word.
"Dude, relax! There's nobody around, calm down. I just can't believe this is the job you picked; out of all the things under the sun you choose gas station sales clerk?"
Cas let out a huff of agitation, moving the conversation farther away from a woman perusing energy drinks nearby and lowering his voice even farther as he spoke sternly to Dean.
"My grace has been stolen from me, what did you expect? When I fell to earth I did not just lose my powers, Dean. I lost everything; I lost the will to go on, the drive to be something more than...than myself. I lost my faith, Dean - my faith in myself, in humanity, in life. I had nothing."
Dean stared at Cas in shocked surprise, caught off guard by the raw feeling in Cas's voice. Here he'd been playing around, trying to make it seem like nothing had happened, when Cas had been utterly ruined inside. He should have known, of course; he'd seen the angels falling, he'd even been able to hear some of their screams as they'd hurdled from the heavens. But he hadn't wanted to believe such a terrible fate could befall his angel, his Cas. And so he'd ignored and denied when really he should have reached out and comforted.
Cas had needed him and he hadn't been there. And when he finally had shown up, Dean had mocked and trivialized what Cas had gone through. Smooth going, Winchester, Dean thought to himself. If only the fastest way to a man's heart was through making him feel undervalued and unappreciated- Dean would've been well on his way to a whirlwind romance ages ago.
"But now I have this job," Cas continued, and Dean felt even worse; Cas had turned to a crappy day job for comfort because Dean had pushed him away. "As a Sales Associate, I preside over inventory, customer service, keeping the entire place clean and presentable. I have a purpose here. I have responsibilities, a job that if left undone would completely topple the entire establishment."
"Well that's...nice," Dean offered, doing his best to keep his smile from falling into a grimace. It sounded utterly miserable and mundane. But if Cas was happy, Dean supposed he might as well be happy for him. This was what he'd left Cas with, afterall; he couldn't exactly complain if the former angel had made the best out of a crappy situation.
"But I really think you can do better than this," Dean told him a few minutes later, following Cas around the shop as he restocked shelves.
"No, Dean, I really can't. I failed at being an angel. This is my place now," he said as he placed a bag of Cheetos on a wire rack.
"You didn't fail!" Dean cried incredulously, amazed Cas could even consider such a notion, let alone genuinely believe it. "You had your abilities taken from you-you didn't give them up. That isn't failing, Cas. That's getting knocked down. But you just have to get right back up again," he preached, echoing the same speech Cas had given him many times in the past.
"Perhaps I enjoy it here; did you even consider that?" Cas told him, sounding a bit annoyed.
Dean hadn't considered that for even a moment. But mainly because he didn't see what could possibly be appealing about working in a place like this.
"It has a sort of dignity to it," Cas continued, his attention on the Cheetos once again. "A human dignity. Things aren't quite so monumental here; I destroyed every important thing I ever touched, but this place gives me the chance to try again with small tasks. Here I feel like I might actually do something right."
"But Cas, it's a gas station. You could build your self esteem anywhere, why would you want to-"
"I hate to interrupt, but Steve, a customer had a bit of an accident in the men's room," a female voice called. Dean turned to see an attractive blonde woman with a dripping mop and a matching blue sweater vest smiling in Cas's direction.
Now it made sense.
"No problem," Cas told her with a smile of his own, the agitation his voice had held as he'd spoken with Dean now gone entirely.
"Oh and does tonight around 7:00 work for you?" she asked, tilting her head to the side in a way that made Dean's stomach churn in disgusted rage.
"Seven works fine," Cas replied, all smiles and flirtatious kindness.
Dean tried to fight off the urge to wallow in despair as he realized that of course Cas wouldn't stay single for long. No one that gentle, thoughtful, and ridiculously attractive could last two minutes without gaining someone's attention. It was more the fact that Cas had clearly reciprocated this woman's advances that tore Dean up inside.
"So you're dating," Dean commented gruffly before he could stop himself, and Cas gave him an odd look.
"Nora is a very nice woman," Cas replied with a shrug, and Dean tried to pretend the casual shoulder movement hadn't been a stab right through his heart. "I'm confident she is not a reaper intent on killing me, so I replied in the affirmative when she asked me out on a date. Dating is a normal thing that humans do, is it not?" Cas asked a bit pointedly, and Dean could only begrudgingly mutter that yes, it was normal.
Dean was all in favor of Cas going on dates. The only problem was, Cas was going on dates with someone who wasn't Dean.
It was stupid, but for some reason he'd hoped Cas would just always be there, waiting for the day Dean's emotions finally got the better of him and he blurted out that he was in love with the winged idiot. But it wasn't fair for him to expect Cas to just sit around waiting for a declaration of love he might not even reciprocate.
The little guy was dating someone, he was moving forward with his life. Dean should have been happy for him. So although he felt like crying inside, he would do his best to try and support the friend he owed so much.
A/N: Next chapter should be up soon! Suggestions and criticisms would be so welcome, you guys have no idea
[I don't actually have a clue what I'm doing. How do I fluff?]