Disclaimer: A world of not mine.

Author's Note: Set mid-Season 5, sometime around "Curious Case" and "Changing Channels." When things were light(ish).

Thanks go out to Like-A-Raven-14 for her awesome (as always) beta.

Is That What They're Calling It These Days?

It said something about your life when having an angel drop in for breakfast was normal.

Dean wasn't sure what it said, but it said something.

They were in a diner in Sparksburg, West Virginia. It was a shabby hole in the wall in a half-dead town; a narrow space in an old store building, with a counter running down one side and a row of booths running down the other. But it was clean, the windows up front let in a ton of light, and Hailey, their waitress, seemed to have a near psychic sense as to when coffee mugs needed a refill.

And they served apple pie for breakfast. It that wasn't a sign of four-star service, Dean didn't know what was.

Sam watched as his brother dug into a wedge of fruit and pastry with something that was near reverence.

"Dude, seriously?"

Dean raised his eyebrows over a forkful of pie.

"Says the guy who used to start every day off with Fruit Loops," he replied.

Sam smiled, shook his head, and started cutting up his omelet. Dean, without being asked, pushed the bottle of ketchup over to his brother's side of the table. He'd just picked up his fork to go back to his own breakfast, when his cell phone shrilled in his pocket. Dean pulled it out and flipped it open.

"Yeah? Hey, Cas. Still in Sparksburg. Diner called Snyder's on Church Street. Booth all the way in the--" Dean's head came up and he flipped his phone closed. "—back. Please. Beam on in," he added.

Castiel, now seated in the back curve of the bench between Sam and Dean, calmly moved the napkin dispenser out of his way and folded his hands on the table.

"I do not understand what you mean by 'beam,'" he said. Sounding a little bit weary.

Castiel and pop culture didn't get along very well.

"Morning, Cas," Sam said.

"You are still in Sparksburg," Castiel said.

"Well, yeah. Obviously," Dean said, going back to his coffee. At Castiel's look, he added, "This guy's bones are just taking us a little longer to track down than we thought. Don't worry. Couple of days, we should have it wrapped up."

As it turned out, angry spirits stopped for no Apocalypse. If anything, it seemed to rile them up. And this one, a former inhabitant of a farmhouse turned museum, had already put two security guards in the hospital.

The Brothers Winchester. Saving the world, one pissed-off dead farmer at a time.

"Why? Is something up? Lucifer?" Sam asked, grip tightening a little bit on his fork.

But Castiel just shook his head. "No. The current situation remains unchanged. There is no great need for haste."

"Good," Dean said.

Since it seemed like there was little they could do about the Apocalypse other than just keep dodging angels and demons, there was something almost comforting about picking up routine haunting jobs. They were simple and lasted a week, tops. If nothing else, they were distracting.

Dean sometimes wondered if Cas felt frustrated over the out-of-control End of Days train. The angel played things close to the vest, but it had to be wearing on him. Couldn't stop the Apocalypse. Couldn't find God. Couldn't even regroup with his own kind.

The last, he figured, was why the angel seemed to be popping up more and more just to hang out. Like now. Castiel was examining the cheap paper placemat (printed with pictures of local tourist sites) with the kind of interest you usually saw in little guys in suits and glasses examining diamonds. Not dropping in for any specific purpose. Just dropping in.

Dean got that. It sucked to be alone.

"Would anyone like a refill?"

Hailey had appeared by Dean's elbow, all sunny smile and bright blue eyes. Sweet kid. Ten years ago, Dean would have classified her in his mental Hot Good Girl category. Now he just kept trying to refrain from asking her how she liked school.

She did a double take at seeing that her table of two had become one of three. She cast a confused look over her shoulder, clearly trying to figure out how Castiel has come in the front door with its string of bells, and made it all the way to the back without being seen.

"I'm sorry, sir. Can I bring you anything?" she asked.

"No, thank you," Castiel said politely, looking up from his study of the placemat. "There is nothing I require."

"But I'd love a refill, Hailey," Dean said, quickly. "And tell your cook that the pie rocks. Thanks."

Left alone in their booth again, Dean turned to Sam. "So. Plan for the day?"

"Research on my end," Sam said. "Until that's done, there's not going to be much action. You want to come help, or…?"

Dean shook his head. "If you can handle it, I'll take care of laundry and shit today. The dirty clothes are going to walk off by themselves pretty soon."

Sam researched better solo. And giving each other breathing room when possible was a good thing.

They took their time over breakfast, outlining possible plans for dealing with Old McDonald, while Castiel systematically inspected the specials menu, the silk flowers in their flea market vase, and the sweetener packets, while occasionally interjecting a suggestion or comment.

Finally, Sam his breakfast plate away. "Okay." He checked his watch. "It's nine o'clock. I'm going to go on and head over to the library. See if I can get the librarian to let me access her historical records."

Dean snorted and grinned into his coffee mug. "Is that what they're calling it these days?"

Sam looked like he would dearly love to flip his brother off, if it weren't for the fact they were in a family-friendly place. Instead he just rolled his eyes. "Classy, Dean." He stood up. "I'll meet up with you at the motel this evening?"

Dean raised his mug in agreement.

Castiel stayed in the booth, watching as Sam left, then turned to Dean.

"I do not understand," he said.

Dean set down his coffee. "What don't you understand?" he asked.

"Reading historical files. How is this anything other than…reading historical records?"


It was a familiar trap Dean had fallen into. Castiel looked human. More and more he seemed to act human. Maybe that was part of his new image: Castiel, Angel of the Lord, Rebel without a Clue. Or maybe it was just the fact that he was mixing with people way more than angels now. Dean didn't know.

But they still ran into plenty of basic things that Cas just didn't get.

"It's not," he said. "I mean, Sam really is just going to go check out the historical records."

"This is sometimes called something else?"

"No. It…" Dean laid his fork across his empty plate and pushed it to the side. "It's just something you say. A joke."

Castiel sat silently. Clearly waiting for him to go on.

"It's a euphemism for sex. All right?"

The angel frowned, head tilted to the side in a way that Dean had come to know all too well.

"How do historical records pertain in any way to sex?"

"They don't." Dean sighed, considered flagging Hailey down for one more cup of coffee, and then dismissed the thought. It was time to get the day going. "That's what makes it a joke. Someone says they're going to do some random thing, and you say, 'Is that what they're calling it these days?' It's just something we do." He stuck some dollar bills under the sugar dispenser and got up from the table. "We're humans. We're kind of sex obsessed, if you hadn't noticed."

"I had noticed," Castiel said, sliding out of the booth as well, and following Dean up to the counter.

Dean cast a look over his shoulder.

"You're coming with me?"

"Unless you have some objection."

Dean shrugged. "Nope." He nearly followed up with Knock yourself out, but thought better of it. "Come along if you feel like it."

Errands and chores weren't exactly thrill a minute stuff. Necessary, but monotonous. Laundry. Stocking kits. Repairs. Maintenance. Shopping. He couldn't imagine why Cas would want to hang around for it.

On the other hand, company wasn't a bad thing. And he could probably foist the sock-matching off on him.

Dean paid at the register and headed out the door, followed by his trench-coated shadow.

"Okay. First things first. I need to put gas in the Impala."

"Is that what they are calling it these days?"

Dean stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk.

Castiel stopped alongside, waiting patiently.

"No, that's….." Dean mentally groped for some argument other than, You should not attempt to use that phrase. Ever. "You can't use it with just anything."

"A random statement is by definition random. The criteria applies."

Dean gave Cas a long look (which the angel returned, unconcernedly), turned, and headed for the Impala.

Castiel followed.

Dean had the sneaking suspicion it was going to be a long day.


Dean wasn't wrong.

Castiel was like a toddler with a new toy. One that he had no batteries for, no directions to, and didn't actually know how to play with. But that wasn't going to stop him from trying to figure out exactly how it worked.

"I need to pick up laundry soap."

"Is that what they are calling it these days?"

"Looks like we're going to get rained on."

"Is that what they are calling it these days?"

"This knife needs sharpening."

"Is that what they are calling it these days?"

"C'mon. We're going to go scope out the cemetery."

"Is that what they are calling it these days?"

"…..dude? That is just wrong."

Dean just kept reminding himself that Cas was, even after over a year, still learning. Still feeling out how humans did things. And that he wasn't actually trying to be a royal pain in the ass.

He was 98% certain on the last part.

And on the off 2% chance he was wrong? Well, Dean couldn't help but think of the time that Sammy, age two and a half, had fallen in love with the word 'shit' and used it at every embarrassing opportunity. He remembered what Dad had said: "Ignore it, son. The more attention he gets from it, the more he's going to say it."

Dean wondered how long it would take Cas to move on to something else.

Eight hours in, there was no sign of stopping.


The Sparksburg Library was only a few streets over from their motel, and, with the mid-day rain shower long past, Sam elected to walk back rather than call for a ride. It was a cool, clear evening, and it felt good to be out after the better part of a day spent in a library basement.

Clearly, his brother was of the same opinion. Sam arrived back at the motel room to find Dean outside, parked on one of the benches along the side of the building, head resting back against the wall, eyes closed, legs stretched out in front of him. A bottle of Coke rested loosely in one hand. The door to their motel room was propped halfway open, letting some air circulate through.

Dean cracked one eye open as Sam approached.

"Working on your tan?" Sam asked.

"Working on not throttling Cas."

Sam frowned, eyes going to the cracked open door. He could hear someone moving around the interior.

"What are you talking about?"

Dean raised one finger, and (glancing back over at the open door) raised his voice and said, "When this job's done we should swing by the mail drop up in Pittsburg."

Almost immediately, Castiel's voice drifted out the door.

"Is that what they are calling it these days?"

All. Fucking. Day, Dean mouthed at Sam. "Seriously," he added in a whisper. "Everything I say, that's what he comes back with. I am going batshit insane."

Sam worked furiously to keep the grin off his face and coughed a strangled word that might have been, "Karma," into his fist.

Dean glared at him.

Sam completely lost the battle with his facial expression. "I just think it's so cute that he takes after you."

Dean closed his eyes and took one deep, controlled breath. "Please tell me we're killing something tonight."

"Got the location of the grave. It's way off the beaten path, out in the middle of the woods. Digging is probably going to be a bitch, but at least we won't have to worry about cars passing by."

"Good." Dean stood up. "I'll man the pickaxe."

Sam knew—knew—he shouldn't test the boundaries of Dean's already thin patience. But the opening was right there. And the Little Brother part of his personality quickly arm-wrestled the Mature Hunter part into submission.

"That what they're calling it these days?"

By the time Sam changed out of his soda-soaked clothes and rinsed out his hair, the salt and gasoline were packed and ready, and it was time to go send the phantom farmer to his eternal rest.


Any hunt you walked away from was a good one, but the ones that went off without a hitch (except a coffin riddled with tree roots) were even better. And, in Dean's opinion, a perfect reason to celebrate.

The bar was busy enough to generate a pleasant emotional high, but not so packed or loud that you couldn't hear yourself think. Kansaswas playing on the jukebox. There were three pool tables (Sam had drifted over to scope out the possibility of making some gas money later in the evening). And the waitress, who definitely didn't invoke feelings of cradle-robbery, gave Dean an inviting wink along with his beer.

Dean took a moment to appreciate the view as she walked back to the bar before turning back to his companion at the table.

"As soon as Sammy gets back, we need to order some burgers."

Castiel immediately began to pipe up. "Is that what--"

"Cas? Enough!" Dean set his beer bottle down with a bang. "Not everything is a euphemism for sex. Even when I say it."

Dean could have sworn that the faintest hint of a smug smile crossed the angel's face. "I am merely attempting to expand my knowledge of modern language. Since you seem to have such a fondness for idiom and metaphor. And references to popular culture."

Dean gave Castiel a hard look.

"Cas? Have you been messing with me all day?"

"I have done nothing to cause a mess," Castiel said, calmly, raising his own beer. "On the contrary, I matched all the socks from the laundry."

Dean glared at the angel.

Castiel returned it with a look of innocent bemusement.

Dean took a long pull from his bottle of beer and nodded his head toward the bar.

"See that waitress? The hot brunette that brought our drinks?"

Castiel turned his head.

Dean got up from the table.

"I'm going to go see if she wants to have sex after her shift is over."

"Is that……" Castiel trailed off, frowning. "Wait. That is what they are calling it these days."

"Damn straight. Don't wait up."


Sam saw Dean heading off to the bar as he returned to their table. Castiel was still there, frowning at his bottle of beer.

"Hey. Where's Dean going?" Sam asked, sliding into his seat.

"He is going to have sex with the waitress."

Castiel paused for a beat while Sam gaped.

"If you know what I mean."