(A/N: Rated M for mature content and language.

Hello! And here's yet another story I started without finishing some others... It is another Destiel (Dean/Castiel) story; and it ain't just a PWP this time! heh. I fiddled with Sammy's age and he's now Dean's son. (I did the same for Cas and Gabe. Don't ask why; I just don't know. It, uh, made sense at the time...)

Overall warnings: AU. MalexMale slash. Language. Smut. Character swapping. Character death (mentioned in passing/in the past). Mentions of: infidelity, homophobia, and hate speech. Fluff (oh, so much fluff). And a smidgen of angst.


The park was teeming with screaming kids and women in their best mom jeans. Dean Winchester, however, had his attention on two things: his Kindle (enjoying a re-read of The Talisman) and his son, Sam. Sam was swaying and dangling off of the monkey bars, legs kicking spastically as he tried to work his way across.

He was happy to see Sam running around and playing like a normal kid. His son, if left to his preferences, would still be in his room. Either making up battles with his action figures or practicing his letters and seeing how many books he could read. He was impressed with Sam being able to read; kid was just past five and already could breeze through half of his board books with little help from his dad. He was proud to admit Sammy got the brains he lacked.

Dean smiled to himself and went back to reading after making sure Sam didn't hurt himself dismounting from the monkey bars. A little wobble and he was off towards a giant climbing thing that looked like a spider web. Creepy. He focused back on his book; Little Jack Sawyer was getting into some deep shit and he was having a hard time splitting his attention.

A familiar child's yell had him looking up, eyes flicking around until he found Sam. His son was by some weird animal on spring things and there was another kid standing close, getting in his face about something. His eyes narrowed and he was in the process of getting up, not at all bothered with the idea of intimidating a young child, when a short little blonde haired kid (a lollypop stick hanging out of his mouth) intervened instead. He didn't sit back down but his attention was entirely on the situation now.

He was kinda curious to see what would happen, despite the fact that he knew he should go over there instead of just watching to see what the kids did. That little blonde kid looked like he lived on causing trouble, if that grin and the way he walked were any sign.

"Hey, fart-breath!" Gabriel said, grinning mischievously around his lollypop stick.

Sam snickered and then winced when the kid that was picking on him immediately changed direction. Apparently the bee shaped bouncer that caused all this was no longer interesting. Instead of going for him, he went for the little blonde boy that had bad timing and an apparent death wish instead of a hero complex. The bully kid was bigger than him!

"Uh." He looked around. Why weren't any adults stopping this? Usually one loud holler got at least two soccer moms and a helicopter dad over with juice-boxes and band-aids. He finally saw his dad, relieved to notice he saw what was going on... But he was only watching. He did look ready to stomp over, though, so that was something.

"What did you say, pipsqueak?"

Sam shook his head and stepped in front of the little blonde kid. No way was he gonna let some strange kid defend him and get beaten up for it. He was a big boy. He stood tall and channeled his dad. "Go away, ass face." Oops. Dad would probably kick his butt if he heard him saying the A-word.

He looked up when a tall shadow fell over them all and he swallowed nervously.

An adult... who probably heard what he'd said. Though, dads were usually cooler about bad words than moms, he was still really nervous he was gonna get yelled at and taken over to his dad.

"What's going on here, gentlemen?" Castiel Novak asked in a conversational tone. He stuffed his hands in his back pockets and tried his best to look friendly yet the intimidating adult figure at the same time. God, he hated having to yell at strange kids. People either appreciated the additional set of eyes on their kid or they gave you hell for 'trying to parent' their kid.

All three boys looked up, similar 'deer in headlights' expressions on their faces. Castiel had to really work on squashing the urge to laugh. Or pinch all their adorable little faces. He glanced at his son, Gabriel, mostly just to make sure he wasn't going to take the opportunity to sucker punch one of the other boys. It wouldn't be the first time his son had used a distraction to his advantage before.

"Nothin', dad," Gabriel said around his lollypop. He rolled his eyes when his dad did the single eyebrow look. Like that was gonna make him talk. He huffed and pulled his lollypop out, pointing it at the bully that had started everything. "He was callin' him—" He hooked a thumb at the other kid, the one standing there looking guilty and all tall and stuff. "A girl."

Which was dumb, 'cause the kid did not look like a girl.

Castiel nodded, as seriously as he could. Part of him wanted to congratulate his son for sticking up for others. But the main part was horrified Gabriel had managed to find where he'd hidden the stash of Halloween candy. Again. He should probably give up trying to hide sugar from the kid; he seemed to be able to sniff it out. Sometimes he swore the kid could conjure it; he hadn't any idea where his son found the candy, most times.

He looked over at the offending child and stared at him. He didn't know if he was supposed to scold the child or find his parent. He hated this part... Eventually though, the kid just made some sort of sound, took two steps back, and then ran off. Castiel sighed when he heard the kid yelling for his mother. He glanced back at Gabriel, his gaze pointedly on the white lollypop stick hanging out of his mouth.

The five-year-old didn't have the decency to look abashed, he only grinned and bounced excitedly on his toes.

"Uhm, thanks," Sam said, toeing at the wood chips that covered the play area. "I wasn't scared or nothin', though. I coulda' handled him, you know." He groaned softly when he realized his dad was making his way over. He knew his dad wouldn't be happy with the idea of him getting in fights... using bad words and stuff was just gonna be worse.

"Don't tell him what that kid said," he hissed at the other kid.

Now, if he knew Gabriel Novak, he'd know that was the last thing he should've said. He did not and of course that was the first thing the little blonde said once Dean Winchester strolled up to the small group.

"That kid called your kid a girl. I think it's his hair," Gabriel said, sucking on his lollypop and looking up at the strange adult. It was probably Girly Hair's dad. He shrugged and grinned, "I don't think it's girly, though," he added.

Sam glared at the kid, wishing his dad wasn't there so he could thump him for being a tattle-tail. What a jerk! He hunched his shoulders when his dad's large hand was ruffling his hair and he gave it a half-hearted swat. "Dad," he mumbled. He crossed his arms over his chest when he only got a laugh in response.

"Sorry, Sammy. I gotta agree with Short Stack here," Dean said. He held his hands up when said kid pulled the lolly pop out of his mouth and glared at him. OK, height was a sensitive issue.

"My name is Gabriel Novak, not Short Stack."

Dean nodded seriously, lips pursed a little against a laugh at the imperious tone. Apparently, Sam's annoyance with the kid's blabbermouthing was over because he shared a commiserating sort of look with Gabriel, silently lamenting the extreme uncoolness of dads that thought they were amusing.

"Sorry, Gabriel." He offered his hand and the kid shook it, his little shoulders going back at the adult gesture. He laughed when Gabe small hand tried to squeeze his fingers and squeezed back just enough to make him yelp and pull his hand away. "I'm Dean and that's Sam," he said, nodding towards his son. Who was now playing shy and hiding behind his hair. He should cut the kid's hair before he was old enough for that look to make girls swoon out of their panties.

Sam gave a small, shy wave. He stepped back a step when Gabriel was suddenly in his personal space and grabbing his arm. Before he could shake him off, he was being yanked towards the swings. Swings were cool so he went along, looking over his shoulder to see his dad and Gabriel's dad watching after them. They both looked happy to see them go.

Great, he wasn't gonna be rescued. He let himself be led around and pushed onto a swing. Gabe was stronger than he looked...

"Thanks for earlier," Dean said, finally giving the other adult his attention. He was still kinda jazzed about Sam actually playing with another kid, though. Willingly enough. "I'm Dean," he said again, offering his hand.

"Castiel." He took the proffered hand and shook it. It was warm and slightly calloused, the grip strong but friendly. He looked up when Dean didn't let go after the prerequisite two pumps.

"That's a weird name," Dean blurted, still holding the other guy's hand. He realized he hadn't let go of Castiel's hand and gave him his hand back with a sheepish smile. He didn't quite know what to do with it and his hand ended up clutching nervously at the back of his neck before he stuffed it in his pocket. "Sorry, that was rude."

Castiel smiled a little and shrugged. "I've heard that before, I'm not offended," he said simply. He hadn't realized how unique his (and his siblings') names were until he went to school and people gave him confused looks and the odd comment about it. He had an idea his mother randomly flipped through a Bible when it came to naming her children. He figured he couldn't complain; his older brother, Lucifer, had it much worse than he did.

Dean had no response to that so he just nodded and went back to watching Sam. He had to laugh when Gabriel hoped off of his swing, landing on his feet with a little flourish and ran around the swing set to push Sam. Apparently, Sam's protests were ignored as Gabe stood behind him anyway, lollypop stick still in his mouth, as he bent enough to push on Sam's back to help him along.

He recognized Sam's resigned, but annoyed, expression from here. He felt like a bad dad when he wanted to point and laugh. It didn't take Sam long to get over his annoyance and start to enjoy himself again. Probably because he was able to 'accidentally' kick Gabriel at least three times.

"Gabriel can be rather... forceful when he wants something," Castiel said, watching his son wave off Sam's protests and continue to push the other boy. He got the impression Sam's protests were merely perfunctory since the other little boy made no real effort to thwart Gabriel's assistance. Sam appeared perfectly capable of swinging on his own.

Dean chuckled. He caught the slightly apologetic tone and waved it off. He didn't know how well Gabriel's bossiness would mix with Sam's shyness. It could be ugly... Or it might help Sammy out of his shell a little. He hoped for the latter but only time would tell. Sam was bigger than most kids, it seemed to only cause him to withdrawal instead of using his size to intimidate people. Not that Gabriel was at all intimidated; he actually looked impressed whenever he had to tilt his head back to look at Sam.

"Sammy's a little shy but he's no push-over. He's fine," he added, nodding at the pair now swinging along side each other, obviously trying to see who could go higher. It was kind of cute to see them concentrating so hard on kicking their legs and leaning back as far as they could without falling off. Crazy kids.

"Gabriel doesn't have many friends," Castiel murmured, shifting on his feet. He wasn't surprised at the feeling of guilt tightening his chest at the admission. He often felt completely at fault for that, even if Gabriel claimed to like living in new places. "Being the new kid doesn't seem to phase him, though."

"You guys been around long?" Dean asked.

He'd been the new kid plenty of times, having moved around a lot as a kid. His dad seemed to have been too restless to stay in one spot very long after his mom had died. By the seventh school in as many years, Dean kind of stopped bothering to apply himself to making friends. At least he finally took studying seriously, much to his dad's pride. It also lead to him being kind of a slut, not bothering to make any real effort at getting to know people past what was in their pants.

He noticed that Sam and Gabriel were laughing, still trying to out-swing each other and he figured they'd be there awhile. He looked around for the nearest bench, hiding a smile when Castiel followed without having to be asked and parked himself a respectable distance away from him. He watched with a sort of distracted amusement as Castiel smoothed the fabric creases on his thighs and folded his hands in his lap.

"About two weeks," Castiel said, his attention mostly on Gabriel. The boys had gotten off the swings and were amusing themselves with playing in the loose mulch a few feet away from the swings. He suppressed the urge to worry about spiders and splinters, though, since Gabriel was enjoying himself.

Dean just nodded, fingers fiddling with the edge of his Kindle. He wasn't sure if it was considered nosy or polite conversation to ask why they'd moved since Castiel didn't offer anything else. He was a little curious, but he didn't want to pry. So he just let the strangely comfortable silence hang between them, both of them watching their kids play in the mulch. He had no idea what the hell they were doing, but Sam's hands were nearly black by the time they both ran over to the bench.

"Dad!" Sam yelled. He tripped in his rush, but caught himself on Gabe's dad's leg. "Sorry!" He stared at the dark smudge, almost a perfect little hand-print on the light pants. He winced and offered an apologetic look.

Castiel patted at the stain, not exactly bothered. He didn't like these pants, anyway, and he was kind of hoping the stain was bad enough he could toss them, guilt-free. "It's quite alright, Sam," he said soothingly, offering a reassuring smile to the distressed child. He only got a strained smile from behind a curtain of hair.

"What's up, Sam?" Dean asked, curious as to what had Sam running over. Gabriel was hopping around behind him, chewing his lollypop off the stick with obnoxiously loud crunching sounds.

Sam pulled a few dirty, battered army guys from one of his pockets. "Can we play with these? Gabe found 'em."

"Uh, sure?" Dean said with a shrug. He was tempted to teach Sammy the finer points of 'finders keepers', but decided to be a bit more mature and responsible. "I don't see why not. But if some kid says they're his, don't be a jerk about it." He pushed Sam gently back towards the area they were playing in when his son rolled his eyes and muttered a 'I know' at him. Little smart ass.

Apparently, army men were a sandbox toy and Sam and Gabe half-buried themselves in the sand before they got down to business of arranging army men and building sand bunkers.

He contented himself with watching as Sam and Gabriel made machine gun noises and death gurgles as they tossed army men around, burying some of them.

"Does he often watch violent films?"

Dean blinked and turned towards Castiel, chagrined to remember the guy was there. He was ready to defend himself, protest that he wasn't the lousiest dad on the planet, when he realized Castiel wasn't asking in that judging tone he'd often heard from other people. He only looked... curious.

"Not often, but he's seen a few, though. Sammy's just got an active imagination." He nearly added 'reads a lot' but he'd paused too long to add it now and it would be weird. Plus, he didn't want the guy to think he let Sam read war books or anything; he was definitely too young for that shit.

"I see," Castiel murmured, lips twitching when Sam staggered around, a gurgled 'Noooo!' coming from him before he flailed like he was being shot, then he dropped dramatically to the sand. Apparently, the army men weren't the only ones having fun. He chuckled when Gabriel stood, throwing himself over Sam's still form and shouted an equally dramatic 'Noooo!' towards the sky and started firing at invisible enemies in retaliation.

He wasn't sure what to make of the violent game but he was pleased to see Gabriel playing with another child. And using his active imagination for something that didn't involve pranks or sneaking candy. He figured there was something to be said for small favors...

Dean snickered, elbowing Castiel playfully. "Gabe looks like he's seen an episode or two of Band of Brothers."

"Possibly," Castiel murmured. Truthfully, if his son had seen such a show, it was down to the babysitter. He should probably have a discussion with Becky about child-appropriate programming if that was the case.

He checked the time and truly regretted the fact he had to call Gabriel over so they could leave. Thankfully, his son came over with little grumbling. There were protests, naturally, but he was dragging Sam over by the sleeve of his shirt. He winced a little as he took in the filthy state of his son. He nearly apologized to Dean when he saw that his son was in a similar state.

Castiel turned his head, words on the tip of his tongue. But Dean looked amused and a little proud as he gently smacked the loose dirt and sand off his son's shorts and t-shirt, so he squashed the irrational urge.

"It was nice meeting you, Dean," Castiel said, standing. He gently patted at the seat of Gabriel's pants before he regarded the other man. Dean stuck his hand out again and he shook it. "Samuel, you as well," he said, repeating the handshake to the slightly stunned child.

Gabriel sighed loudly, his shoulders slumping. "Bye, Sam," he muttered. He obediently took his dad's hand when it was practically shoved in his face. As much as he wanted to have a tantrum, he knew it wouldn't make his dad stay any longer. He waved over his shoulder, pleased when Sam waved back.

: -:- :

The next time Dean and Sam saw Castiel and Gabe, they were at one of the fast-food places that had a play area inside. It was packed full of kids and their parents (mostly moms, but there were a few other dads here and there). Sam saw Gabe and his dad first and he considered trying to avoid the other kid. He was still kinda annoyed at the little jerk for blabbing to his dad in the first 9 nano-seconds and then kidnapping him for an hour making him play on the swings and army guys in the sand-box.

It had been pretty fun, Gabe made the best machine gun noise ever, but he didn't want Gabe to think they were gonna be best friends or anything.

So, of course, his dad headed right for them.

"Hey, Castiel," Dean said, smiling a little. He gave an awkward little wave with the hand not holding the tray of food. Now that he'd come over, he didn't know why he did. It wasn't like the guy would remember him. There weren't many seats left, though.

"Hello Dean," Castiel said, inclining his head. "Sam," he added to the little boy half-hiding behind Dean's leg, hazel eyes peeking out of his hair. "How are you?"

OK. Maybe he did remember him. Dean cautiously pulled out a chair at Cas' table and sat when the guy didn't tell him to fuck off. He ignored Sam's grumbling and muttering about Gabriel. (For all his grumbling, he hadn't shut up about the kid since they met at the park.) He focused on getting Sam's food spread out, helping him with his straw so he didn't end up with a lap full of Sprite. Once Sam was contentedly munching his nuggets, with ungodly amounts of BBQ sauce, he turned back to Cas.

"Fine. You?"

Castiel tried not to smile, but a little one slipped out anyway. "Fine as well. We're still learning our way around town, so it's nice to actually see a familiar face."

"Oh yeah, that's right; you guys just moved here. How do you like it so far?"

Castiel was quiet for a few moments. He figured it was meant to be just one of those things you ask people to make conversation, but Dean looked genuinely interested in his answer. So he was carefully considering his answer. "It's small," he finally said.

"Not used to small towns?" Dean asked, grinning. Cas nodded a little, a weird little jerky movement. "Yeah, small towns can take some getting used to. By next week, you'll no longer be a stranger and most folks'll probably know what color underwear you have on."

Castiel's eyebrow rose. He knew not to take Dean's words literally, he didn't wear any scandalous colors after all, but he was a little taken aback anyway. He was used to blending in, not being a focus. "I had not... expected that."

"Yeah," Dean said, shrugging as he dragged a fry through his puddle of ketchup. "Not much you can do about it, though. It's just how it goes. We all pretend to mind our business, but it doesn't stop the gossip." He unwrapped his burger and made a happy little sound as he inhaled the aromas of grilled meat, ketchup and grease. He dove into it, grinning at Sam around beef, cheese and bread when he practically heard the kid rolling his eyes at him. He stuffed a few fries in after it, puffing his cheeks out, mostly just to annoy his son.

He swallowed his bite and realized Sammy wasn't the only one watching him. "Uh, sorry," he said, wiping his mouth. It was hard to tell how grossed out Castiel and Gabriel were. Until Gabriel hooted with laughter, smacking the table edge as he laughed, and Castiel' face cracked in a tiny smile. Even Sam was trying not to grin, even though he was used to Dean's lame attempts at humor and generally just gave him a pint-sized bitch-face for his efforts.

As soon as the boys finished their food, both turned to their dads, "Can we go play?" coming out of their faces simultaneously. Gabe grinned across the table at Sammy. They both got a nod and took off, scrambling from their seats and hurrying for the play area.

Dean leaned back in his chair and watched the boys kick off their shoes and head for one of the twisty slides. A few other kids approached the pair, welcomed by a grinning Gabriel, but for the most part they stuck together. He ate at a more sedate pace, making small talk with Castiel as he kept most of his attention on Sam.

And Gabriel. The kid seemed like a magnet for trouble when he tried climbing on the outside of the slide, clinging to the plastic like a little monkey and attempting to use it that way. Naturally, his son was yelling at the little blonde, his hands on his small hips and an annoyed expression on his face. Gabe shimmied back down, produced a small bag of Skittles from... somewhere and he managed to get Sam to quit bitching long enough to share them.

"How have the kid's teeth not rotted out of his head?" Dean asked. He realized he hadn't seen Gabriel without some sort of candy in his face. He watched as one of the hover-mom's handed Gabriel a small lolly pop, patting his head and obviously making 'aren't you adorable!' mom-faces at the little blonde. Yeah, he was adorable.

Castiel sighed softly. "Regular brushing." Thankfully, Gabriel gave little fuss about brushing before bed. As long as he could use Bubble Gum flavored toothpaste and his motorized Stormtrooper toothbrush.

Dean laughed, amused by Castiel's literalness. He figured Castiel was kidding until he looked at him... Yeah, he was serious. It was a reasonable answer, so he didn't point out he was half-kidding.

"I'm surprised you let him eat that much sugar," he mused, sneaking another peek at Castiel. He wasn't judging, just surprised because Castiel didn't seem like that kinda parent.

"I do not," Castiel said with another soft sigh. "He has a knack for finding it."

If he didn't know any better, he'd swear his son had the ability to conjure it out of thin air. His gaze was on the pretty brunette woman still cooing over his son and giving him another wrapped piece of candy. He'd warned Gabriel, numerous times, not to take candy from unknown people. It was only slightly less worrisome it was a woman in a public place this time, but he'd have to have another talk with his son. He saw, with some relief, that Gabriel stuck the candy into a pocket instead of eating right away. Hopefully, he could confiscate it before it was eaten.

"And he's especially skilled at wheeling it from unsuspecting women," he added dryly.

Dean snickered. He'd noticed the hot mom, too. "Handy trick."

Castiel merely hummed, not bothering to add any further comment.

: -:- :

By the third time they bumped into Castiel and Gabriel (or Gabe, as the little blonde preferred-slash-demanded to be called) at the same restaurant, he asked for Castiel's phone number.

Dean felt himself flush as startled blue eyes blinked at him. Oh. Shit. He realized, too late, just how that sounded and waved his hands around, slightly alarmed but mostly embarrassed. "For, like, you know. Play dates. And junk."

"Oh. Yes. Of course," Castiel said with a small smile. He hadn't been prepared for Dean to ask for his number, especially since he had asked so matter-of-factly. The blush only stained his cheeks (and highlighted a smattering of light freckles) when he apparently realized how his request sounded. Not that Castiel let himself think it was for any other purpose.

He handed his phone across the table to Dean, "Please enter your number."

Dean chuckled, still getting used to Castiel's slightly awkward way of speaking. He tapped his name and number in before scrolling through the phone menu for Castiel's number. He gave it back once he had the number programed into his phone. "So," he said slowly, leaning back in his chair, "when's good for you?" He looked away for a moment, catching sight of Gabe rushing up for another turn on the slide. Sam was at his heels, his long hair flapping around as he tried to keep up. Sam had longer legs but Gabe was a fast little bugger.

He needed to get that kid a damned hair cut.

"I work from home, so anytime after nine AM is alright," Castiel said once Dean's attention was back on him. Dean nodded and they worked out a schedule that would work for both of them. Dean only worked part-time while Sam went to kindergarten, so working out a suitable time wasn't hard.

By the time the boys came back, sweaty and looking like they needed a nap and a bath, Dean had the sneaking suspicion he'd be calling Castiel within the day like some over-eager dork. It wasn't his fault Sam had taken to Gabe and they were quickly becoming inseparable. It was like his kid obtained a Gabe-shaped barnacle. He was happy about it, even if he was starting to feel... weird the more time he spent around Castiel.

He wiped Sam's face off with a dampened napkin, ignoring the cranky protests and held his wiggling face still with a hand on the back of his head. He made a face at the smeared napkin and tossed it on the tray piled with trash. "Well, Castiel, we're gonna go. See ya tomorrow?"

"We're attempting a home-cooked meal tomorrow," Castiel said, almost sounding disappointed. "Gabriel has requested baked macaroni and cheese. And marshmallow squares."

Dean just smiled, trying not to show his disappointment and nodded. "OK, man. No big. Some other time, then."

"Dad!" Gabe shouted, standing on his chair and yanking on his dad's sleeve. "Can Sammy come over and help?" He ignored Sammy's muttered correction of 'Sam' and tried to give his dad the same puppy-eyed look Sammy had perfected. That kid could make anyone do anything with that look.

Castiel looked away from pleading hazel-gold eyes and shared a look with Dean, silently asking what his thoughts were and getting a shrug in answer. He knew that was Dean for 'yeah; not that I wanna seem eager, though'.

"I suppose so. Did you want to come over, Sam?" he asked the now half-asleep little boy. Sam's eyes snapped open and he looked mostly alert again.

"OK, yeah. That should be fun, right dad?" Sam asked, looking up at his dad. He turned on his own puppy-eyes so he wouldn't get a 'no'. He pumped a fist with a hissed 'yes!' when he quickly got a nod. He barely even had to beg, it was so quick. "Where you ya live?" he asked Gabe.

Gabe sat up, proudly reciting his address. It had only taken him two days to memorize it. Of course, he wasn't supposed to just blurt it out to strangers. But Sammy, and his dad, didn't count as 'strangers'.

"Dad," Sam said, patting at Dean's back pocket for his phone. He fished it out before his dad could protest and unlocked the screen, tapping away on it as he found the right app. "I'm gonna put it in your GPS thingie." He squawked a protest when the phone was taken from him, but quieted down when his dad merely continued what he'd been doing. He knew his numbers and letters enough to put in an address.

Dean rolled his eyes and let loose a long suffering sigh. "Such bossy kids, man," he said to Castiel, finishing the address and saving it. "OK, there. It's in, Sammy. Now say good-bye. You stink and we both need a nap," he said, helping Sam off of the chair. He smothered a smile when Gabe hopped off his own chair and rushed over to crush Sam in a hug, patting his hair affectionately.

Sam grumbled, batting Gabe's hands away from his hair. Sometimes he forgot what a big, super-huge creep Gabe could be. He slid his hand in his dad's, knowing better than to complain about hand holding when they were in such a crowded place, and waved good-bye to Gabe and his dad. He climbed into his booster seat, pleased when he was allowed to buckle himself in.

: -:- :

"Hello, Dean," Castiel said when he opened the door and saw Dean and Sam on his porch. He shifted aside so Gabriel could get past him, arms out and headed right for Sam. He watched his son squeeze the other boy until he squeaked and then drag Sam inside. He caught the soft sound of whispered plans as they passed him. He figured he'd ignore the badly whispered plans for liberating a few snacks later. He had no intention of leaving the kitchen and could easily thwart the scheming little boys.

Dean forced a smile, a little confused by his reaction to two simple words. Three syllables really shouldn't have him feeling like there was something trapped in his gut. It wasn't like it was the first time he'd been greeted that way, with a tiny smile and a friendly look warming blue eyes. Maybe he was just nervous being in someone's else's house.

"Hey, Cas." He shrugged when Castiel looked at him, raising a questioning eyebrow at him. How did he even do that? He'd tried doing it and he couldn't get just one eyebrow to twitch; both went up and he just looked confused. "Sorry?" he offered when he realized it was because of the nickname. He wasn't sure if it was inappropriate or not but Castiel was kind of a mouthful...

"It's fine, Dean," Cas murmured, not quite bothered by the shortening of his name. As far as nicknames went, it was much preferred to his brothers' preference of 'Cassie'.

"Good," Dean said, shoving his hands in his pockets and bouncing on the balls of his feet a little. "'Cause that how I got ya in my phone," he added. He laughed when Cas only rolled his eyes and headed into the kitchen.

There were ingredients laid out, all neatly placed in little bowls or on plates. Wow. He had no idea Cas was channeling Martha Stewart... "I feel like I'm on a cooking show," he muttered, looking around the kitchen.

"Yes, well." Castiel felt himself flush. He had indeed watched a cooking show to get the recipe and 'how to'. "I heard it was neater and easier this way," he said, indicating the separated ingredients.

Dean snorted. "I don't see how, man. That's... that's a lot of extra dishes." He snickered under his breath when Cas turned and actually glared at all the bowls, as if he hadn't figured that part out yet. "'S'cool. I'll help."

By the time they were finally getting something that looked edible into the oven, it was after 2 and Dean was starting to wish he'd snacked on some of the ingredients as they went. "How long?" he asked, bending over a little to glance at the recipe Cas had printed out.

"About a half hour," Castiel said absently, trying not to stare. He also ignored the innuendo, knowing quite well Dean was not asking about anything but cooking time. He turned away quickly before Dean caught him and got busy stacking the dirty bowls. Dean was right; this way had produced an exorbitant amount of dishes to wash. He carefully dropped everything in the sink and leaned against the counter. There were quite a few questions he wanted to ask, but most seemed too personal for such a new acquaintance.

Dean pulled out one of the stools at the kitchen island and perched on it. "So, is it completely rude if I point out you can't cook worth a damn?"

"No," Castiel said, laughing a little. "I usually keep things simple and we haven't starved yet. I hadn't realized how complicated home-made macaroni and cheese could be," he murmured, mostly to himself. He looked up and grinned, "You weren't much help, either, you know."

Dean grinned back and shrugged. "Yeah, but I'm aware of my limitations and don't try makin' shit that doesn't come in a box. Or frozen." Though, he was pretty sure the macaroni and cheese they'd made would be better than anything out of a box, judging from the scent just now starting to come from the oven. He inhaled. "Smells alright, though."

"Yes," Castiel agreed, turning back towards the sink. He started running water into some of the bowls and pots, hoping a soak would get the worst of the gunk off. He tried not to wrinkle his nose as he poked at the Béchamel sauce coating the pot; it was starting to resemble school paste. Both boys rushed into the kitchen, skidding to a stop in front of Dean. He glanced at them from the corner of his eye before going back to his task. He really didn't need to see Dean smiling at his son like that.

"Dad! We're starving," Sam whined, flopping dramatically into his dad's lap as he clutched at his grumbling belly.

Dean sucked his teeth and gently pushed Sam off of his lap the moment the brat looked up with that kicked puppy look. Shit, he hated that look; he'd probably steal ice cream from a nun if Sammy asked for it while he made that face at him. He felt a little bad, though, since it had taken a lot longer than expected to get lunch ready. He really couldn't blame the kid for whining.

"You can wait a few more minutes until it's ready. Lemme see your hands," he said, waiting until Sam held both hands up for inspection, palms up. They were filthy, streaked with what he hoped was red marker. Ugh, what the hell had those kids been doing?

Dean wrinkled his nose and pointed down a random hallway, hoping a bathroom was down there. "Go wash those paws." He nodded once when Sam did it without complaint, Gabe following behind him for a few steps until Sam asked where the bathroom was. Then Gabe was grabbing his arm and leading Sam out of sight. Cas was staring at him and he cleared his throat. Small talk was needed... They should do that. Get to know each other. He figured he'd be seeing more of Cas since Sam and Gabe were getting to be such good friends.

"Uh, so what do you do?" he asked, feigning a cool he didn't feel as he leaned forward, elbows on the island surface as he clasped his hands together. He really should've asked that kinda thing sooner, but it never occurred to him to be curious about it until now.

"I'm an accountant."

Dean snickered before he could help himself. He shoulda figured that when the guy was at a playground in a button down shirt and pressed khakis. "Sorry."

"Quite alright," Castiel said lightly, smiling a little. He shrugged one shoulder, "I've always had a gift for numbers. It pays well and allows me to work from home so I'm not away from Gabriel."

Dean nodded; he could get behind that. He had a hell of a time when Sammy was a baby, since he hated the idea of sticking his kid with nannies or baby-sitters. He probably would've gone insane if he hadn't had anything in savings and his uncle Bobby helping out when he could. "Well, that's cool," he finally said. Cas just made a humming sound and checked the oven. It smelled really good in there and he rubbed a hand over his stomach when it made a gurgling noise.

"What do you do?" Castiel asked, pulling the oven mitts off and tucking them under his arm as he crossed them. He didn't want to make assumptions, but he figured Dean did something with his hands... The few times they'd shaken, he'd noticed callouses.

Dean leaned back in his chair, sticking his legs out as he crossed them at the ankles. "Little of this, little of that," he said with a shrug. He chuckled when Cas' looked annoyed for a moment. "No, seriously. I'm not, like, in the mob or anything shady. I just I work where I can, when I can," he added so Cas didn't think he was being evasive. "Mainly, though, I uh, make furniture."

"From?" Castiel asked, intrigued.

Dean shrugged again, feeling self-conscious now. "Whatever, usually. I prefer wood or metal, though. I finally learned how to weld a few years ago..." he trailed off, realizing he was close to babbling. Because he really could; as much as it embarrassed him to talk about it, he enjoyed making things. He didn't own his own welding equipment, though. He borrowed Bobby's, using it at his place, on the occasions he needed it. Something about those big tanks of gas anywhere near where his son was made him nervous. Even if he knew he'd take every precaution, shit happened.

"That sounds very rewarding," Castiel said sincerely. Dean merely shrugged again, looking uncomfortable again. He really wanted to ask Dean if he'd make him something, a nice coffee table or a built-in bookcase perhaps, but he didn't want to seem presumptuous. "Do you sell what you make?"

"Yeah," Dean said, rubbing the back of his neck. Most times, his stuff sold for ridiculous amounts and he usually didn't need to worry about rushing from job to job. Apparently, people went ape-shit for anything 'hand-crafted' these days. Bobby usually set his prices since he always felt like he was robbing people if he charged too much over what he spent for materials.

He was still sitting pretty from a dining set he sold to some hipster for the price of a small car. People were fucking insane but he really couldn't complain when it kept him and Sam in burgers and Legos.

The boys came rushing back in and when Cas took the macaroni and cheese from the oven, there were hoots and chairs being noisily dragged out. It was hot but really good and the casserole dish barely had anything left in it by the time both boys were moaning over their full bellies. Dean didn't blame them; he was ready to explode. It took some serious motivation to get up and start getting the dished cleared.

Dean carefully closed the dishwasher and bent over, studying the numerous buttons. Holy shit, there were a lot of options but nothing labeled simply enough to start the damn thing. What the hell. He blinked, jerking upright, when a hand came into his peripheral and started poking buttons. By the time there were three green lights lit up, the machine finally whooshed into action.


He had tried to do the thing you do when someone has you over. They cook, you clean up. Well, at least he managed, like, 98% of it anyway.

"It's quite alright, Dean," Castiel said, gently waving off the apology he didn't quite understand why was being issued. He stood with a dishtowel in his hand, wringing it a little. Now that lunch was done, he had no idea what they were supposed to do with themselves. They'd eaten much later than usual, since they'd burned their first attempt and had to trash it.

Did he offer entertainment? Politely usher them out the door? Gabriel's bedtime wasn't for a few hours, so there wasn't a rush.

Dean resisted the urge to bounce on the balls of his feet, feeling a little unsure of himself now that the distraction of food was gone. Cas wasn't exactly a stranger, but it was kinda weird being in the guy's house.

"Movie?" Castiel asked, twisting the towel slightly.

Dean shrugged one shoulder but before he could actually say anything, Sam was slamming into his legs with a loud whoop.

"Yeah!" Sam yelled, looking up at his dad. "Can we?! Gabe's got all of the Land Before Time movies!"

Dean rolled his eyes. He hated those damn movies. They were almost as bad as war movies, for crying out loud. Killing off cute animals and shit. It should be illegal to put that much depressing shit in cartoons... And there were over a dozen of them now. But Sam adored them. It was probably the whole 'kids love dinosaurs' thing. He nodded before the puppy-eyes could be unleashed, practically seeing the count-down in his kids' head.

"Popcorn?" Castiel asked and got a nod. He got the popcorn ready, pleased he remembered to pick some up, and aimed a small indulgent smile at a bouncing Sam, chuckling softly as the little boy chanted 'Duck-key! Duck-key!' as he hopped around in circles with Gabriel.