"Feel the Love" contest over at DeanPicksTheMusic on deviantART + The Pie Goddess + Valentine's Day = one big "I couldn't resist" piece of tasty schmoop. The working title was seriously "Rotten Teeth".
Right now I have to apologize to the Pie Goddess, Suzie Sidhu, for probably mangling her and her pies, and point out that she is a real person (crap, does this mean I've written RPF?), this is a real place, and I really want to go there. I've been craving pie for a freakin' week because of this story. I have not been to the cafe or her bakery, so there's a little creative license and spinning going on here. Apologies to anyone who's ever been there!
Sam Winchester pitches a balled up napkin at the other man in the cramped motel room, bouncing it off spiky light brown hair. "Hey." The young man cuts his hazel eyes at Sam with a halfhearted glare and grunts, tucking his nose back into a dusty book.
No response, no shift in posture to indicate he hears Sam. He flicks his ballpoint pen expertly and hits his older brother in the left ear, provoking an exasperated "Ow" out of Dean Winchester.
"C'mon, let's get some lunch." Sam has already pushed to his feet, rising to his impressive 6'4" height, and he grabs his cell phone and black leather wallet off the table by Dean's hand, double checking the time displayed on Dean's sturdy wristwatch. "I know a good place in town."
"There's a diner a block away." Dean's voice is pointed, surly after hours of research with very little fruit.
"I'll cover it."
Dean's eyebrows rise and he studies Sam for a long moment. "It's rabbits-only," he says matter-of-factly, his tone dripping distaste.
Sam rolls hazel eyes; the reaction is practically involuntary. "I promise, it is not a salad bar." Suspicion is still in Dean's gaze as he stands, a good three inches shorter than Sam, and follows him out the motel door, routinely locking it behind them.
Seconds later an outraged squawk informs Sam that trying to take the keys and drive the Impala would be a painful lesson in futility, and he grumbles as he folds himself into the black classic's passenger seat, "Fine, don't need to eat my head, jerk." Despite his careful approach, he still hits his head on the doorframe and chin-length brown hair falls into his face. He brushes it away with an ungracious mutter and clears his throat, giving Dean precise directions through the streets.
Dean's expression after he parallel parks the sleek '67 Chevy is something to behold and if Sam were a much lesser man he would've quailed from the thunderous scowl the older man levels at him.
"A café? How much of a girl do you think I am?"
"It has good food," Sam bites back. The little restaurant is highly recommended, a local gem in Enumclaw, and he really hopes that the pie he's been told about is worth it; otherwise his ass is going to be chewed for a couple of days at least.
"Yeah, right." Dean jams his hands irritably into his leather jacket's deep pockets, directing a glare strong enough to scald at the charming café's heart-papered windows on the opposite street corner. "What the hell is a panini?"
Sam fights the urge to put the shorter man into a headlock and instead marches across Cole Street determinedly, not glancing to see if his brother is behind him.
Thirty-five minutes later Sam is starting to believe they are going to get thrown out.
"Oh. Ooooh God."
Sam Winchester shifts on the high-backed seat, grateful they have a corner table slightly removed from other lunch patrons. His brother's ecstatic sounds would probably make people…uncomfortable. Sam is more than slightly uncomfortable. He also hopes that they don't get banned or something like that from ever visiting Café Panini again, let alone stepping foot inside picturesque Enumclaw, Washington.
The euphoric expression on Dean Winchester's face surpasses any that Sam's ever seen, beating out the Magic Fingers (multiple incidents that Sam wishes he could forget) by a wide margin, and the sunny delight radiating off him matches the warm-toned walls of the café. His hazel eyes are shifting to a rich green, emphasizing just how far gone into nirvana he is.
Maybe this wasn't the brightest idea, Sam thinks and then snorts to himself. How often has that phrase been thought or spoken in conjunction with Dean? He toys with his cell phone awkwardly, brushes a strand of brown hair out of his eyes, readjusts the small bouquet of red roses in the center of the wrought-iron table, and freezes.
Dean Winchester, baddest mother in the valley, his self-proclaimed invincible big bro, just whimpered. Whimper like his knees had given out and he was currently supporting his six foot one frame with his chin, whimper like his muscles were lax with pleasure of a kind unimaginable, whimper like he was about to truly lose every part of himself and never find a way to the surface.
Sam kind of really wants to scrub his brain later. And all this because of pie.
At least Dean isn't actively making love to the pie on their table; he supposes he should count that a plus. Dean hadn't thought the pie would be any good, coming from an Italian restaurant and not a little diner, and he'd nearly drowned after he took his first bite of wild blackberry pie. Sam wishes he'd gotten a picture of Dean's face as his eyes had widened and then fluttered shut, eyelashes gracing high cheekbones.
Sam swings around to glance at the kitchen, hoping to see their waitress, Caroline, bearing his own slice of pie, and turns back without the welcome sight of the curvaceous waitress coming to break his awkward self-imposed silence. Running a finger down the chilly side of his tall glass, he plays with the candy striped straw before tasting the chocolate mint malt sitting before him. Eyebrows ratchet up in surprise and Dean spares a moment to snicker at his slack jaw of wondrous discovery.
"Everything here is good, man." He fills his fork with lush blackberries, salutes Sam with it, and disappears back into the pie.
Caroline swings by to gather their lunch dishes, a few bites of Dean's grilled chicken pesto panini left on his plate and Sam's plate empty of his herbed chicken and arugala panini. Dean had snorted and muttered something about Sam and his frilly food with fancy, unpronounceable names, lolling back in his chair and giving Sam a blasé smirk in reply to his slitted glance.
She bends over to snag Sam's salad plate resting on the far side of the table, leaning down a bit too far and Sam isn't going to protest; the view is rather fine and wholesome. "Enjoying the malt?" she breathes and he nods, remembering to look at her large blue eyes.
"Yes, thank you Caroline."
She pouts slightly, glossy lips plumping. "I feel you have me at a disadvantage, mister. I don't know your name."
"Uh, Sam. I'm Sam." Keep looking at her eyes.
"Sam, then." She stacks the trio of plates deftly and winks at him while she pivots.
As Caroline moves away, Dean hastily swallows his mouthful of warm berries, crust and cream, and asks, "Could I get another slice?" His eyes plead with her, working his version of the puppy dog eyes, and Sam coughs a laugh into his fist when she caves.
Dean appreciatively watches her walk back to the kitchen, all blonde curls and…parts southern a-bounce in her perky stride, and then demolishes the rest of his piece, silver fork chasing blackberries slathered in whipped cream across the plate.
By the time Sam finishes his slice of the touted "Cherry Almond Crunch" and is waiting for his second choice, lemon meringue, Dean is already working enthusiastically through his third.
"Cas, I found a piece of Heaven if you want it." Dean's tone is light, mumbled happily into the slice he's inhaling, eyelids falling as he savors the newest pie Caroline brought him, delighted with the effusive praise falling from his cupid's bow lips as he'd leaned eagerly toward the plate and sniffed the golden concoction she'd delivered.
"Where is it?"
Sam nearly sneezes his chocolate mint malt across their corner of the café when the angel speaks from just behind his left shoulder, while Dean lifts a blissful gaze to Castiel's sober blue eyes, a glowing smile erupting slowly over his face.
"Dude. Right here." Dean dips his chin to the right, inviting Castiel over. He walks to Dean's side, eyebrows pinched quizzically, rumpled tan coat brushing Sam's arm in passing.
"Dean, I do not under-" The angel's gravelly voice is broken off when Dean catches his arm and tugs him down onto the spare third seat beside him, confusion and surprise warring on Castiel's face as he rights himself and sits awkwardly on the chair.
"You said you have located a-" Dean promptly shoves a forkful of Butterscotch Lush into Castiel's mouth and Sam's insides quiver with amusement. Castiel's blue eyes open impossibly wide, mouth closed automatically around the silver utensil, and Sam can see his tongue working furiously, trying to taste everything in the intense explosion on his tastebuds. Dean slides the cleaned fork out and leans back against the window, a smirk curving his lips as he watches astonishment transform the earnest angel's face.
Cream cheese, butterscotch, praline candies, whipped cream and pulverized almonds…Sam had read the menu, noting the ingredients of each pie offered, and he wonders not for the first time what it's like for Castiel to eat something, taste it to its fullest extent. However he experiences it, though, he seems to be giving Dean a run for his money in the sheer enjoyment department.
Finally Castiel swallows, eyes fluttering shut with a slow breath drifting out parted lips. He remains that way for a few seconds and then he looks at Dean, pinning him with a sharp, questioning gaze.
"Piece a' Heaven, Cas." Dean's pleased expression doesn't offer any other explanation and Castiel's gaze fall to the flowery ceramic plate, studying the few bites left. Sam laughs when Dean tenses and draws the plate closer to him, glaring protectively at Castiel. He even moves the small vase of red roses between him and Castiel, as though the flowers would hold the determined angel off.
"Get your own pie," he growls threateningly. Castiel's eyes narrow and Sam glances between the hunter and the angel with a hint of alarm; they wouldn't seriously come to blows over a slice of dessert…who was he kidding, Sam knew Dean definitely would. He clears his throat meaningfully and leans slightly forward over the table.
"Hey, Cas," those ridiculously blue eyes shift and now they're penetrating him without expression, "just order a slice of your own." Castiel's head tilts a little and Sam grins, lifting a hand to beckon Caroline to their table.
"What can I do you for, Sam?" she drawls, dropping a rose pink-nailed hand on the wooden tabletop and winking flirtatiously at Sam. Sam's remotely grateful Dean is so ensconced in butterscotch he didn't throw a suggestive leer at the strawberry blonde waitress. Or him, for that matter.
"Can we get a menu for our friend here? Dessert, specifically," he says, jerking a thumb at Castiel opposite.
Slender eyebrows meet briefly in mild bewilderment. "Sure. Ah, I didn't see him come in."
"He just flew in," Sam says and he hears Dean snigger proudly, approving of Sam's terrible inside joke.
She swiftly produces one and spreads it before Castiel, who ponders it with as much gravity as he would ponder the mystery of a human soul. Caroline runs her pale blue gaze appreciatively over the angel's unruly dark brown hair and bared neck, bent over the laminate menu studiously, and says lightly, "Go ahead and take your time."
"I have already made my decision," he announces abruptly, looking up at her with his serious expression. Sam wonders idly if it's possible to trademark it.
"I would like all of them." Caroline gapes at him, not certain if he is making a joke, and the Winchester brothers have to cough loudly, turning away from both waitress and angel.
"A…a slice of each?"
"No. Entire pies." Caroline's rounded jaw is hovering just above her unadorned collarbone in disbelief while Sam and Dean begin to choke.
Clearing his throat several times, Dean says, "Just one slice for him, and maybe a few to go." Castiel looks at him slowly and Dean says sternly, "Only one," sounding for all the world like a mother keeping reign on her child. Sam nearly chokes again.
He also tells himself that Castiel, Angel of the Lord, warrior and soldier of Heaven, is not sticking his lower lip out petulantly at Dean as he stabs his index finger at a particular pie.
"Right, the Razzle Dazzle Raspberry." Caroline tugs the menu out from under Castiel's stationary finger, informs them that they can order whole pies 24 hours in advance around the back, and hastily departs.
Dean groans. "And now, Cas, sweet Caroline is too weirded out by you to make things sweet for Sam." Sam jerks and glares at Dean, who spreads his hands disarmingly. He hadn't realized Dean had noticed her flirting with him through his pie-induced haze.
Castiel and Dean engage in a stare-off, the former subtly inching closer to Dean and his plate, cradled in the tight circle of his arms, and Sam wants to bury his head in his hands and laugh. His very human brother and one of the most powerful beings in creation, locking horns over something as simple and ordinary as a few bites of pie; he shakes his shaggy head in amusement. What are their lives, for this to even happen.
Caroline left a silverware set wrapped in a napkin, its cloth a warm spill of gold as Castiel carefully tugs it open, meticulously removes the fork, and then regards Dean with a perfectly serious demeanor.
His still face all but broadcasts, "I have come for pie and shall not be deterred." Dean's eyes widen and he narrowly covers the pie with his hand in time to prevent Castiel from stealing some of it away. An errant ray of midafternoon sunlight darts through the large window they're seated beside, throwing a hazy spotlight over Dean and his raised hand casts a shadow over the dessert in question. Light bounces off the silver washer ring on Dean's right hand into his eyes, causing him to squint, and Castiel swoops in for a score the instant he senses Dean's loss of focus.
The sheer outrage on Dean's face and the absolute smugness on Castiel's, pointedly enjoying his bite, makes Sam snicker. He's also certain he's only ever seen Castiel smile once before, well over a year ago and under unpleasant circumstances, but this is a real smile, smoothing out weary lines and easing Castiel's face into a truly pleased expression. Sam watches the two feint and parry, Dean grabbing a butter knife to fend off Castiel's persistent advances, until a voice interrupts them.
"Here's your pie, sir, one slice of Razzle Dazzle Raspberry." Caroline perfunctorily sets the plate with a cherry settled atop whipped cream before Castiel and says to Dean with a more polite tone, "And here's your Peanut Butter Finger. Will your orders be separate or all together?"
"All together, please," Sam says and he is gifted a broad smile showing blindingly white teeth, the first smile since she re-approached their table. Poor woman had been apparently been somewhat rattled by Castiel's oddness.
"Alright then," she says, voice sliding back to a honey drawl. "Let me know when you're ready."
His smile is automatic, responding to her pleasant countenance. "Yeah, sure Caroline."
Her departure is notably saucier. When Sam returns his attention to the table, it's greeted by a smirk and wink from his brother. He rolls his eyes and Dean chuckles, dropping his gaze in amusement. It's lucky he does that because Castiel's fork is right there, in Dean's new piece of pie. He squawks and lunges for the angel's slice but his fork is batted aside effortlessly.
The battle resumes with Dean on the offensive and Sam sees his chance, sneaking his own fork toward the unprotected offering of Peanut Butter Finger pie. He's just dipping the tip into the pudding garnish when Dean's hand descends with a crack, flattening his fingers and causing him to drop the fork. Dean's hazel eyes are narrow and it sounds like he might be literally growling.
Lifting placating hands and leaning back upright, Sam glances at the angel. "Hey Cas, a bite?" Castiel's expression perfectly matches Dean and Sam nods. "Right. Never mind."
At last Dean gets his first bite out of his own piece of pie and while he is occupied, Castiel filches another bite, Sam following suit quickly. Dean huffs and grabs a bite from Castiel's plate, raising an eloquent eyebrow against the deadly blue gaze aimed at him. Sam grins at the antics and shifts in his chair to remove his wallet from his back pocket, tugging out a thick stack of bills.
"Dude, how were you even able to sit on that?" Sam opens his mouth and Dean runs over him, thoughtfully musing, "Well, your giant ass…probably had no idea it was there." Dean's unrepentant grin happily announces that yes, he is hilarious.
"Gotta work on the 'funny', Dean, you're still not getting it." Sam smirks triumphantly when he gets an affronted look from his brother. "And I'm paying, remember?"
"Where'd you even get the cash?" Dean asks, eyebrows knitting together.
"I earned it," is the careful response.
"When?" Dean's searching through recent memories, trying to recall when Sam would have acquired such a large sum.
"Traver's Bar, Yreka."
Dean nods as the realization dawns. "Yeah. You pool sharked a buncha guys there."
Sam shrugs, nonchalantly brushing off the grinned compliment. "Did alright. Got enough to pay for lunch and your excessive habit."
"Pie is important, Sammy."
"Yeah, I know dude." Sam holds up a hand, waiting to catch Caroline's attention. Soon enough she sees him and comes as quickly as she can. She passes him the bill, already prepped, and has small takeout boxes ready for the remainders of pie.
"Pay up front," she purrs, and Sam blinks at her sultry tone. He also finds a business card for the café under the bill. Dean guffaws and tries to cover it as coughing into his napkin when Sam flips it over and discovers a phone number on the blank side.
She smiles and turns away with a jaunty swing. "Oh, if you'd like to tell her yourself," Caroline says, pivoting quickly and pointing toward the kitchen, "that's the lady who makes the pies. The Pie Goddess." Caroline heads inside the kitchen and Sam glances across the table to see Dean's wide eyes.
"Be right back," he says, and is out of his seat like a bullet, cutting around tables to gain access to the woman walking to the side door. Sam has an idea where this is going and he's fairly certain he'll be embarrassed some way or another.
"Is Dean going to finish eating that?" Castiel points with his fork at the abandoned pie.
The younger Winchester snorts, "You'd better believe it." He begins to cautiously move Dean's pie into one of the brown paper boxes, scraping every last puff of cream off the plate.
"I believe he is mistaken; she isn't a goddess." Castiel is staring intently at Dean and the pie maker and Sam shakes his head, mane of hair tumbling into his face vigorously.
"It's just a title."
The look Castiel gives him is long and eloquent and he says aloud, "I see." Humans are incomprehensibly odd."
"Ma'am, can I marry you?"
Sam wishes his heart would stop beating so he could die of mortification, because there is no way he can squeeze his large build under the wrought-iron table. Castiel looks blank as always, once again befuddled by the peculiarities of the human race.
Dean is looking down—only a little, the sandy blonde woman is a scant few inches shorter than he is—with unabashed affection shining all over his face, and he buries his hands awkwardly in his worn jeans' pockets, rocking slightly heel to toe. She looks kind, a crisp white shirt hiding a dusting of flour and powdered sugar, braided hair just released from a hair net to frizz softly around her apple-cheeked face, and Sam wants to like her on the spot.
Suzie Sidhu, also known as the Pie Goddess, blinks up at Dean, hiding her surprise admirably well, and a small smile lifts her lightly wrinkled face. "You're a bit young for me," she says, a teasing note in her strong voice.
Dean ducks his head sheepishly, "Yeah," and Sam boggles. His brother is blushing, color spreading from high cheekbones to drift over his nose and tint his cheeks almost down to his jaw, ears pinking and lifting with his boyish grin. Maybe Dean won't notice if Sam snaps a picture with his phone.
"I wouldn't mind being adopted," he continues and Sam's phone slips between his fingers and he fumbles for it frantically, catching it in a massive hand before it strikes the hardwood floor. "I can live here and help you make pies and eat them and love you and your pies forever."
Suzie throws her head back and laughs openly and delightedly at his earnestness. Sam considers asking Castiel to smite him so he isn't around to witness the harebrained acts of his older brother.
"No, no, I'll stay here and everything!" Dean implores over her mirthful laughter. "Sam, can we stay?" Alarmed at suddenly being pulled in, Sam shakes his head quickly and Dean droops in exaggerated disappointment. Still chortling warmly, Suzie reaches up and settles a callused hand on Dean's shoulder.
He stills instantly and studies her gentle blue eyes. "Lots of people pass through here," she says quietly, "and you're always welcome back, son."
"It's just…I haven't had pie so good since I was four."
Sam blinks, computes that revelation, and comes up with an answer that shouldn't have startled him. Dean was four when their mom died. Suddenly, the logic behind Dean's fetish for pie rises up and smacks Sam right between the eyes and he blinks again.
Wow, he feels like ten times an idiot.
Suzie must have caught the echo of distant sadness in Dean's voice or face, because she moves her hand from his left shoulder to cup his cheek. "Then come as often as you can, my boy."
The moment hangs, able to swing either into something that Sam suspects might involve tears—why does his brother have to possess a spectacularly soft side or be so damned emotionally fragile?—or end in jocularity.
He prays quickly for the latter.
Dean drops his chin, looks at his feet, and meets her soft gaze. "You bet I will, ma'am!" he says brightly, sunshine smile dazzling her and three other people in the immediate vicinity. "It's a pleasure and an honor to meet the woman behind the pies."
"Suzie Sidhu," she says, her face mirroring his, and offers her hand. Dean takes it and, ever the charmer, kisses her knuckles once.
"I'm Dean and I'll see you again. That's a promise." Dean's voice is flirtatious but Sam knows him too well, reads his brother like an open large print book across the room. Promises were never lightly given and Dean would fight tooth and nail to keep them. Chances are Suzie would indeed see him again.
Suzie leaves and Sam beckons Dean back to the table, handing him a miniature tower of brown boxes while Castiel finishes his raspberry pie.
"We are gonna have to get a bunch of pies before we leave town," Dean enthuses, countenance glowing at the thought of yet more pie.
A small frown dips Castiel's chapped lips in a bow. "Whole pies can be ordered?"
"Yup," Dean confirms, "twenty-four hours in advance, then you can go pick them up."
"I will do that then." The brothers swiftly glance at each other, Sam raising both eyebrows, Dude, your naïve little angel is gonna try to order food, Dean cocking a single one back and thinning his lips slightly, He's not my angel.
"Cas, hang on a sec," Dean says, lifting his voice with a quiet authority, and the angel obligingly halts to look back at him. "One, you know how doors work. I've told you over and over to just use the freaking door, knock, that kinda thing. Use them. People freak out when someone just hey, poof! appears in front of them. Two, reach inside your jacket and see if you have a wallet in there." Castiel's eyebrows draw together, but he does as instructed and quickly displays a blue leather billfold. "Yahtzee." Dean plucks it from his hand and flips through it, showing Sam the nice amount of greens with an impressed look.
He hands it back and says, "Okay, just remember: you gotta pay her. Now that's important—pay the woman the amount she asks for from the money in your wallet and make certain you get correct change."
"I am not a child, Dean," Castiel says stiffly, rare ire in his tight gaze.
Dean scrunches up his face in a shrug. "Okay. Oh hey, Cas…can you replace anything you take out of your wallet?"
"Yes." Castiel's drawn out reply indicates he's not entirely positive he knows why Dean likes that so much, but he's sure enough he should probably ignore it.
"Go then, go, go," Dean waves him on.
Before the angel has a chance to resume progress, Sam asks, "What are you going to do with the pies?"
The look Castiel fixes him with is sincere as hell, or Heaven in this case, and he says simply, "There is an expression of Heaven to be found in Suzanne Sidhu's pies. I wish to share them with my brothers." He lifts and drops his slim shoulders in an uncommon shrug. "Perhaps the reminder of celestial peace in the sweet taste will slow the fighting, bring back some of the accord of old." He turns his back on the brothers and walks through the café to the door and exits in a human fashion.
Sam and Dean look at each other. "Pies for World Peace?" Sam offers.
"Who knows, Sam." Dean glances out the café window and he smiles, crow's feet appearing around his eyes. He laughs and spreads his hands, "It just might work."
Sam is thankful they're only taking three slices of pie because the amount of struggle Dean is having with them is ridiculous. Granted, he should expect that behavior what with Dean's doped out expression as he clutches the precious boxes to his chest. He sighs to cover a chuckle, pays the short brunette cashier at the front of Café Panini, and knocks Dean lightly in the side toward the door.
"Happy Valentine's Day!" the young woman calls out cheerfully, eyeing the two men as they make for the door, juggling brown paper takeout boxes between them.
"Yeah, uh, thanks!" Sam calls back, swinging outside into the crisp February air.
"Wait, it's Valentine's Day?" Dean hisses, ducking his chin and glancing up at Sam from the corner of his eye.
"You're perfectly aware of what day it is, Dean, don't give me that." Dean widens hazel eyes and Sam arches an eyebrow. "You've been toying with your phone all day."
His brother's eyes drop and Sam moves closer, bumping shoulders with him. "I just wanted to get your mind off Lisa and Ben for a bit."
"You tried to put me into a pie coma so I'd forget about them?"
"No, I tried to put you into a pie coma so I wouldn't kill you the next time you tempted me." Dean chuckles, but the sound is lacking in spirit and Sam nudges him again. "Seriously though, man. Just enjoy the pie and don't think so much."
Slowly, a smile curves over Dean's face and he lifts his head. "Dude, you are like the last person in the world I expected to ever tell me to eat junk food and stop thinking."
"Don't get used to it," he snorts. "Tomorrow we're back on." He checks both ways, like the grandma Dean endlessly accuses him of being, and strides back to the Impala a fuller and happier man.
"Sammy, you are pretty damn awesome."
Dean happily punches him in the shoulder and a broad smile breaks over Sam's face. "You know it."
"I'll even let it slide that they didn't have bacon cheeseburgers," he announces benevolently and a snort explodes out of Sam's chest.
"It was an Italian restaurant, Dean!"
Dean chuckles. "Whatever." He hefts the boxes and grins wildly at his younger brother. "Now let's hurry up and get back to the motel; I got me some pie!"
Sam faces the cloudless blue sky and laughs, deep and rich and delighted. Nothing would ever permanently change his brother and he's glad that they had this lunch, a small gesture of him giving something good to the most important person in the world, someone who has given everything for him. Nothing but Sam and Dean all the way.
He glances at Dean, trying to figure out how to get into the driver's seat while carrying the pies, and grins. Well, Sam and Dean and pie, maybe.