Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.

A/N: I am English, all I know of the US school/college/university system is what I have learned from TV and films. Expect the next part in a couple of weeks, after all my uni assignments are finally over. Thanks for reading!

####

Castiel was almost a non-entity at his high school. His eldest brothers, twins, Michael and Lucifer had been the sports stars, both on the football team, both Kings of the corridors. Anna had been a cheerleader, pretty and popular, not to mention the only girl of the family. Gabriel, recently departed from the school, was funny. And sometimes, that's all you need.

Castiel was none of those things, he was quiet and studious, he talked to people in his classes and had no problem working with others on projects, but he was pretty much alone. No one bullied him, their memories of his brothers were enough to prevent that and really he was so completely overlooked that he doubted that any bullies actually knew he was there.

Castiel grabbed his history text book and headed to his class. He liked his history teacher, but she always looked at him with horrible pity in her eyes, because he was so often alone. Castiel didn't care about being alone. He was perfectly fine with his life the way it was. He wasn't even trying to convince himself, he really was completely fine.

He took his seat and flicked though his textbook, looking for the pages on the Black Death. Mrs Lombardozzi was just describing the route the Plague had taken across Europe when there was a knock at the door. The Headmistress entered followed by a tall boy in a leather jacket that was so worn it looked as though 60 other people had owned it before him.

Castiel looked at him for a moment, his black boots were scuffed and untidy, and his jeans seemed just too short, like he'd grown and hadn't bought a new pair, and were worn in some places with holes at the knee. He was wearing a long sleeve under his leather jacket, a pendant, or amulet hung around his neck on a length of leather. He had a strong jaw and a straight nose, thick soft-looking lips and light brown hair; his eyes were a gorgeous bright green. He was very good looking.

And the way he was standing, cocky and slightly aggressive, not to mention the smirk upon those soft lips, said that he knew just how attractive he was.

Castiel looked at the boy for another moment; he didn't think the boy was his type, though Castiel wasn't sure he could even have a type after only two kisses. But, Castiel had always imagined himself with someone quiet and caring, not someone with an attitude, or a smart mouth as he imagined this boy would have.

Mrs Lombardozzi finished her quiet conversation with the Head and, as the Headmistress left, turned to the boy and asked him to introduce himself.

The boy tucked his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, "I'm Dean Winchester." His voice was a deep, rumbling timbre that Castiel quite liked, despite the dismissive tone. "Me and my little brother Sammy've just moved here. We'll probably be here 'till the end of the year." He shrugged and looked at Mrs Lombardozzi.

"All right. Well… Welcome Dean." She quickly glanced around the class, her eyes landed on Castiel and the spare seat next to him and her face lit up with a soft pleased smile.

Castiel sighed to himself.

"Why don't you sit beside Castiel?" She pointed.

Castiel saw the boy raise an eyebrow and mouth 'Castiel?' before moving to take the seat.

Mrs Lombardozzi rifled in the cupboard beside her desk and handed Dean a text book. "Page 217." She said and continued with her lecture as if there had been no interruption.

The end of the class saw Dean standing and waiting for Castiel to pack his things away.

"You think you can show me where my next class is?" He asked, looking down at a piece of paper in his hand, his schedule. His voice was even deeper close up, though not like Castiel's, who had sounded like he had been eating gravel at breakfast for the past 18 years.

"Sure." Castiel stood and looked at the timetable Dean was holding out to him. "English is up the stairs. I'll take you there, if you want?"

Dean just looked at him for a very long moment.

"That… Would be good, thanks." He finally said.

Castiel led the way out of the classroom and Dean walked beside him down the corridor. All eyes turned in the direction of the new boy and Dean grinned and smirked, occasionally winking at the prettiest girls. Castiel, discreetly, rolled his eyes.

"So, what kind of name is Castiel?" Dean suddenly asked, halfway up the stairs. "Where does it come from?"

"It's the name of an Angel." Castiel replied, "A rather peripheral Angel actually. All my siblings are named after Angels."

Dean raised one eyebrow again, "Your parents religious?"

"Not really. My mother is a professor of Religion and History. She is particularly enamoured with the lore on Angels." Castiel replied. Many people in the school knew of his family's unusual Angel names.

"Lore?" Dean grinned to himself, tucking his head down and smiling at his shoes. He appeared less like a cocky cock when he smiled like that.

"What does your name mean?" Castiel asked, not particularly interested, but still being polite.

"Well… I don't think Dean means anything much. But, a Winchester is a rifle." Dean said. The smirk was back.

"It's also a county in England. It's less likely that you were named for a rifle and more likely that your ancestors came from that part of England, before they arrived in America." Castiel said, Dean looked surprised. "This is your English class." Castiel smiled and turned away to get to his own lesson, Biology, but he still heard Dean say goodbye over the noise of the bell.

"See you later, Cas."

Castiel froze. No one but his father and Gabriel called him Cas. It felt strange to be called that at school. Almost like a violation, somehow. He hadn't even asked permission or anything! Castiel frowned and rushed to get to Biology. Vowing to avoid Dean Winchester as much as possible.

Castiel might've decided to stay away from Dean, but he wasn't a total dick, so after Biology he walked past Dean's English class to make sure Dean didn't get lost on his way to Health. When he got there he found that Dean had discovered plenty of help in the form of several girls hanging off his arms. Including Penny Breakwater; one of the most attractive, and therefore most popular, girls in school.

Castiel shrugged and went to Geography.

#

"How was school, honey?" Castiel's mother, Kathy, asked. Putting a bowl of potatoes down in front of him.

"Good, I have a history essay on the consequences of the Black Death on English peasants in the 14th century for next Thursday. Oh, and a new boy started today." Castiel said, helping himself to chicken.

His father, Joe, and Gabriel spoke at the same time.

"In November?"

"Is he hot?"

"From what he said it appears as though his family moves around a lot." Castiel said, answering his father, "Yes, he is very attractive." Castiel said, answering Gabriel. "He seems very egotistical though."

Gabriel just smiled. Though all his other siblings were at college, Gabriel had decided to take a year off. He was currently working in one of their fathers restaurants. Gabriel wasn't good looking in the traditional sense, nor was he, in any meaning of the word, tall… But he was very charismatic, his tips were unbelievable.

Gabriel was not gay, even though he often claimed bisexuality Castiel had never seen any evidence of it, but Castiel was. When he was about 8 years old, the time when girls were still icky, but fun to tease, he and many members of his class were playing Chase. While the other boys were running after girls, intent on pulling their hair and pinching them, Castiel had been far more interested in pinching the other boys.

It seemed to Castiel that his family had always known that he was gay, before he did even, and for this Castiel was thankful. There had never been any awkward coming-out talks. Castiel had always been this way. It was who he was.

"What's his name?" Kathy asked, passing gravy around.

"Dean Winchester." Castiel replied, spooning string beans onto his plate.

There was silence for several moments as the family began to tuck into their food.

"You know it's important to remember that after the Black Death the population of England was severely depleted, Castiel." Kathy said.

Castiel nodded, "There was a shortage of labour and the peasants could demand higher wages."

#

For the next week or so, Castiel saw Dean occasionally in the corridors and in his History, Physics and Maths classes. They spoke a few words to each other occasionally but mostly, life continued as normal.

Castiel completed his Black Death essay and his other homework for Biology and Health and was trying to figure out if another extracurricular activity to take part in would make his college applications look better. It was a little late and Castiel already had helping out at homeless shelters, plenty of work experience and working behind the scenes at school productions. That was probably already enough. Castiel had so much more work to do just from regular classes and he'd be helping out in the senior production of Hairspray next semester anyway. He reasoned himself out of more work over his breakfast and hopped into the car with his mother.

He didn't usually get a ride with his mother, just because she left the house so early, but Castiel had a number of books to return to the library and he needed to take out more for his English assignment on Byron.

"Bye, honey!" His mother called and Castiel waved as she drove off to her job at the university.

He headed straight up to the library, handed in his previously borrowed books and strode into the English poetry section to hunt down the Byron books.

He moved into the next row, not finding the books he wanted, on the other side, two boys were sitting at a circular table. Castiel didn't mean to eavesdrop, but he could hear their conversation very clearly.

"You look terrible." The smaller boy said, Castiel could see him through a gap in the books. He had floppy brown hair and big hazel eyes, and was wearing a stripy green jumper.

Castiel realised with a quick glance that the boy he was sitting next to was Dean.

"Thanks a lot, Sammy." Dean grumbled, his voice sounded even lower than usual, and he did look very tired.

"Seriously Dean. You need to do more homework too, before they start trying to call the house." Sammy sounded worried and he brushed a hand through his hair. He and Dean didn't look very much alike at all.

"Look, I'll deal with that if it comes." Dean said, "I'm already going to school and working two jobs just to keep us afloat Sammy, when do I have time for homework?" Exasperation filtered through his usual brash tone and he rubbed the back of his neck.

"Sorry." Sammy mumbled, leaning further over his work.

"Not your fault." Dean said, shuffling closer to wrap an arm around Sammy's shoulders and rub his knuckles over his brother's head to Sammy's annoyance.

"Dean!"

Castiel smiled, surprised to see such a different side to Dean appear around his brother – no sign of the cocky smirk, or the indifferent tone Castiel heard in classes. It was interesting.

Castiel was less surprised to hear of their apparent money worries. Much of Dean's clothing appeared to be slightly too small, or just the wrong side of worn to be fashionable. Sammy's clothing was in much better shape, though. His backpack and the winter coat hanging on the back of his chair looked brand new, clearly Dean had opted to spend the little money he did have on Sammy rather than himself.

Castiel finally found the books he was looking for and he took them off the shelf, piling them into his arms. He stepped out of the row and was heading towards an empty table to look them over and make sure they had the pertinent information, when Dean called his name.

"Hey, Cas!"

Castiel turned around, still annoyed that Dean always called him Cas, but perhaps a little less so than he would have been ten minutes ago when all he knew of Dean had been his swaggering school persona.

"Hello Dean." Castiel said.

"Why don't you come and sit here?" Dean offered, gesturing to the spare seat beside himself.

"Sure." Castiel shrugged as much as he could with an armful of books. It would be rude to say no, plus he was curious about this 'other Dean' he had never glimpsed before a few moments ago.

"This is THE Castiel?" Castiel thought he heard Sammy whisper, as he walked over to their table.

"You must be Sammy." Castiel said to the younger boy as he sat down.

Sammy scowled at Dean, "Just Sam." He said.

Dean grinned at his brother's annoyance and ruffled his hair. Dean looked even more exhausted close up. He had dark circles under his eyes and his skin looked pale, his lips dry. Their financial situation was obviously taking its toll on the senior.

As Castiel settled down to skim through the books, he saw Dean picking up a ragged paperback. Castiel tilted his head to read the title. 'Slaughterhouse 5' Vonnegut.

"You like Vonnegut?" Castiel asked, his brother Michael had also been a big fan.

"Of course, who doesn't?" Dean replied, as if he loved Vonnegut so much he couldn't imagine that other people might not.

Castiel smiled, "My elder brother likes him."

"You don't?" Dean asked, as if it wasn't possible.

"He's ok." Castiel shrugged, "I like Ray Bradbury better. But, they're very different writers I suppose." He said and went back to his Byron books.

He could felt Dean watching him for several moments before the boy went back to his reading.

After some minutes, Sam's pencil stopped moving across his page. "Will you check this, Dean?" He handed the paper to his brother.

Castiel caught a glimpse of algebra equations.

Maths.

Castiel hated Maths. It was his worst subject. He hated numbers, they were so rigid and unmoving. Two plus three would always equal five – it could never be anything different. Not like words, so many meanings, so many possibilities. Castiel was also slightly number dyslexic and often saw numbers the wrong way round or in the wrong order. Numbers and equations never seemed to stick in his memory, it was why he immediately wrote down the dates and times of appointments and double checked everything, just in case. He was barely scraping a B in Maths while he was achieving A's in practically all his other classes. He found it easy to learn just about everything else and he liked learning, he was lucky in that way, but for Maths homework, and whenever he had a test, he spent long hours on the phone to Lucifer whom he made explain everything his teacher had already 'taught' him only…Slower, much slower. He was also lucky he was the youngest and therefore everyone's automatic favourite.

His 'learning difficulty' was not deemed enough of a challenge for him to receive special treatment, he had simply been told that he would have to work a little harder.

Dean's warm green eyes flicked over the pages of mathematics. That was different too. Usually Dean's eyes during school hours were rather unresponsive to anything, lighting up occasionally at the sight of good looking girls, but otherwise remaining impassive. But, sitting, helping his brother in the library obviously did something for Dean that regular lessons did not.

"They all look good to me, except number 7. You haven't done the equals bit." Dean said, handing the work back.

Sam nodded and bent over the paper to correct his mistake.

"You're good at algebra?" Castiel asked, any help he could get he was grateful for.

Dean rubbed the back of his neck, "Well… Freshman algebra sure."

"Dean's great at algebra," Sam piped up, "and physics and history and English lit, he just never applies himself."

"Yeah, thanks Sammy." Dean growled.

Castiel gave a small smile, so Dean was secretly smart too. What else was Dean hiding and why? Castiel knew he had to renege on his own promise to stay away from Dean Winchester, he was too interesting. And attractive.

#

It wasn't until two days later that he saw Dean again, at least for more than a quick glance in classes and corridors.

Castiel had been picked up from school by his father. Joe owned four restaurants, two auto shops and a couple of gas stations. On Thursdays Joe always went around his businesses to collect the accounting books for his accountants to look over and to maintain good contact with his many employees. Castiel almost always went with him. A couple of the restaurants were in the city and Castiel loved watching the densely packed buildings and people flash past the car window. Sometimes, if his father visited the city restaurants last, they would stay for dinner and if he was really lucky his father would take him to visit the many wonders of the city, art galleries, museums, shows.

But, the city was only half the reason Castiel went, the other half was for the people who worked for his father. He'd known several of them for most of his life. People like Bobby and Ellen who Castiel had known for as long as he could remember.

They'd already visited Ellen's restaurant, even though it was his fathers he always referred to it as Ellen's, the other restaurant close by and the gas stations and were pulling into Bobby's garage when he saw Dean.

Dean was wearing dark blue overalls which were unbuttoned down the front exposing his grey t-shirt and his long necklace, the sleeves were rolled to his elbows and the boots he wore every day to school were on his feet. He and Bobby were bent over the open hood of a silver BMW. This must have been one of Dean's two jobs.

Castiel got out of the car with his father.

"Bobby!" His father called. Joe was not American, he was English – from Leeds. Though he had been living in America for almost 30 years, he had never quite lost his accent.

Bobby's head quickly jerked around at the sound of his father's distinctive voice. This also meant that Dean turned too.

"Hey, Joey!" Bobby grinned.

Dean looked surprised to see Castiel standing across the yard from him, but still gave a small smile.

Bobby and Joe slapped each other on the shoulder.

"How've you been, Bobby? Everything OK 'round here?" Joe asked, glancing over at Dean. Clearly an employee he hadn't met before.

"I'm great. So's the shop." Bobby smiled and suddenly yanked Castiel into a hug. "You look good boy, you behaving in school? Workin' hard?"

Castiel nodded and allowed Bobby to take his chin in hand and turn his face from side to side, "You get more handsome every time I see you."

Castiel shook his head and laughed as his father said, "Just like his old man."

"What? The postman?" Bobby said.

Joe laughed, it was obvious to Castiel where Gabriel got his charm and charisma, though Gabriel's sense of fun often played out in prank form, Castiel suspected that so had his father's when he had been younger.

"Who's the young lad?" Joe asked, nodding towards Dean, who was looking a little awkward in the face of such familiarity.

"This is Dean Winchester." Bobby replied, moving back towards the teenager and leaning against the front bumper of the BMW. "He might be the best little mechanic I've ever hired."

"Really?" Joe looked Dean up and down.

For some reason this made Castiel's face burn.

"It's nice to meet you, sir." Dean said, his voice steady, once again there was no trace of his school persona, no arrogance or brashness tingeing his deep timbre.

He held out his hand and Joe reached out to shake it. Joe smiled, small, at the corner of his mouth. Castiel knew that this meant he was impressed with Dean's handshake.

"Sir? You can call me Joe, kid. Everybody does." Joe smiled. "And if Bobby says you're good, you must be."

"Thank you." Dean replied, there was a compliment in there somewhere.

Joe gave another smile to Dean and turned to Bobby, "Got the books ready for me?"

"Sure, in the office." Bobby said, leading the way into the building.

Joe followed after motioning for Castiel to wait there for him and throwing him a wink.

Castiel knew at that moment, that his father had remembered who Dean was from Castiel's mention of him at the dinner table almost two weeks ago and that Castiel had expressed an attraction for him. Castiel cursed his father's good memory.

"So… Hi." Dean said.

"Hello Dean." Castiel replied, Dean must've got this job the moment his family had arrived in town because he looked pretty settled with Bobby. Bobby was always so cautious with new employees at first, but he seemed to be rather taken with Dean's abilities already.

"Your Dad and Bobby seem pretty close." Dean said, shrugging. Like he wasn't sure what to say, he shifted on his feet and kept his eyes off Castiel's face. Castiel thought it seemed almost like Dean was... Angry somehow.

"Yeah. Bobby's been running this place since it opened." Castiel replied, tilting his head to catch Dean's eyes and smiling. The green was a little shuttered, but not in the same way as within the school corridors. Every time Castiel met Dean he met a different version of him.

"Regular customer then?" Dean asked, briefly returning Castiel's flash of teeth.

"No, my father owns this place." Castiel said, "And the other one across town, they're both called Milton's Auto." He explained.

"Oh." Dean's face had dropped and he looked away, scuffing his boots on the concrete floor.

Castiel bit his lip. Wanting, quite badly, to know what Dean was thinking. "You must've been fixing cars for a long time, if you're as good as Bobby says you are."

"Yeah, my Dad's been teaching me since I was a kid." Dean said, glancing over his shoulder at the engine of the BMW. "I grew up… er, fixing cars." He added, though it didn't seem like that was what he had meant to say.

"How's Sam?" Castiel asked, he had seen Dean's younger brother between classes once or twice too.

"Good." Dean smiled, it seemed he had a set of smiles reserved solely for his brother. It was just like the ones he had revealed in the library. "Growing too fast. I'm worried he's going to overtake me one day soon." He chuckled.

Castiel nodded, "My brother worried about that too. And I did." He beamed, "But, Gabriel's short anyway."

"Gabriel and Castiel." Dean said, "You do have Angel names. Is this the same brother that likes Vonnegut?" He asked. Castiel was surprised Dean had remembered, he seemed to have a lot on his mind; with Sam, school and work, though he looked a little better than he had in the library. Like he'd managed to somehow get a good night's sleep.

"No. That's Michael." Castiel replied, "He has a twin called Lucifer, they're both at college and so is my sister, Anael. We call her Anna."

"Lucifer?" Dean said, his eyebrows disappearing into his hairline. "Your mother named one of her children after the Devil?"

"Yeah. She's weird." Castiel replied. "Though he was an Archangel before he fell. She thought it would be fitting, as they're twins and would probably fight all the time. He calls himself Luke at college."

Dean had opened his mouth to say something else, but his father and Bobby reappeared.

"Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow then." Joe said.

"Yep, give my love to Kathy." Bobby replied.

"Will do. C'mon, kid." Joe wrapped an around Castiel's neck and dragged him back to the car.

"Bye, Dean." Castiel managed to squeeze out as he was pulled away. He grabbed his father's arm and a small tussle ensued, but Castiel still managed to hear Dean call a goodbye.

"See you later, Cas."

#

Castiel knew his father was going to bring up Dean in conversation at some point, but it wasn't until they were sitting in Crowley's restaurant in the city that he finally said something.

"So, that was Dean?" Joe smiled, eyes flicking over the menu. "He's a good looking lad."

"Dad." Castiel said. The last thing he wanted was to do was talk about this with his father, no matter how long he had known that Castiel was gay.

"You boys ready to order?" Crowley appeared at the side of their table.

Castiel could see his father's cheek tic in annoyance. Joe hated Crowley, he was smug and irritating, but restaurant profits had almost trebled since Crowley had been in charge. Joe could employ Crowley, but he didn't have to like him.

"Just bring us two specials and the house wine." Joe said, dismissing Crowley quickly. "Bloody Cockney." He mumbled.

Castiel chuckled.

"Bobby says Dean's a hard worker and bloody good at his job." Joe smiled, Castiel sighed. "He suggested I give the boy a raise."

"Dean works two jobs." Castiel said, "He seems to be the primary carer for his little brother."

"He does?" Joe nodded at the waiter bringing their wine and motioned for him to pour into both his own glass and Castiel's. "Bobby said something along those lines too." He took a sip of his wine. "Do you like him? I saw you talking to him."

"I don't know." Castiel said, honestly. "I don't really know him very well. Every time I talk to him it's almost like I'm talking to a different Dean. The most genuine I've seen him was when he was with his brother, but he's… Complicated." He took a drink of his wine and moved his arm aside to allow the waiter to put down his plate of food. It smelled delicious.

Joe nodded and seemed to think for a moment as he twirled pasta around his fork, "You said you believed he moved around a lot. Perhaps he finds it difficult to open up to people he knows he's going to have to leave after a few months… A few weeks even."

Castiel took in his words. Dean had said that he and Sam were probably going to stay until the end of the school year; perhaps something was tying them down more thoroughly than it had before.

"That seems likely." Castiel said. He thought that it wouldn't hurt for him to perhaps seek Dean out more often. He would like to get to know him a little better. And if he was going to be here until the end of the year that was OK, because Castiel would be going to college next year anyway.

"So, how's school, kiddo?" Joe asked.

"Good. I'm still having problems with algebra." Castiel said, sick to death of Maths.

#

Castiel made of note of the date his chemistry project had to be in and tucked his things into his bag, heading for lunch.

He grabbed a turkey sandwich, a big cookie and a bottle of water before going outside to eat. It was a little cold, but he'd seen Dean go outside at lunchtime, never buying anything from the cafeteria.

Castiel looked around the courtyard, before spotting Dean sitting on the wall in front of the basketball courts. A couple of students were playing one-on-one in their winter coats, but Dean had his back to them.

As Castiel got closer, Dean looked up, giving a small smile. It seemed genuine, surprised.

"Hey, Cas." He said.

"Hello, Dean." Castiel replied, sitting on the wall beside Dean. "How are you?"

"Peachy." Dean said, with a cocky smirk, a front. He looked tired though, Castiel thought. Not exhausted as the library almost a week ago, but still very tired. As though he was trying to get used to the constant strain he was putting himself under.

Castiel opened his sandwiches. "My father is thinking of giving you a raise. I overheard you in the library, though I didn't mean to, maybe you could quit your second job. He said you could work casual at one of his restaurants, whenever you need extra money." He took a bite. The turkey was dry.

"What?" Dean turned to look at Castiel.

"Only if you wanted." Castiel said.

Dean suddenly stood up. "What? I don't need your fucking charity, Cas!" His face was red, his eyes hard. "I don't want your help or your pity."

"What?" Castiel stood up and reached for Dean's arm. "Dean, no –"

"Fuck you." Dean pulled out of Castiel's reach and stormed back into the school building, banging the door as he went.

Castiel was confused.

#

Castiel was standing outside the detention classroom.

Dean had received a detention in Physics after failing to hand in another piece of homework. Dean had looked very unhappy about it as it was probably going to make him late for work and though Castiel didn't want to make him even more late he had to know why Dean had been so angry with him at lunchtime.

"What do you want?" Dean asked, shouldering past Castiel to walk down the hallway.

"I want to know why you're angry at me." Castiel said, quickly catching up to Dean's long strides.

"I told you I don't want charity." Dean answered, attempting to quicken his pace.

Castiel reached out and grabbed his leather-clad arm, pulling Dean to a stop with deceptive strength.

"I don't understand." He said. "I'm not being charitable."

"Your fucking raise? The extra work from your dad? Been telling him all about how you feel so sorry for me, huh?" Dean said, pushing his face closer to Castiel's. From so close Castiel could see how not angry Dean was. Not angry… Upset, embarrassed.

"No. Bobby suggested the raise to him; he told my father how hard you work, how good at your job you are, he's the one that told my father how tired you seem some days, how he thinks you have another job. My father only told me to ask you about the restaurant because I'd see you at school before Bobby saw you at work. Dick." Castiel said. "I don't feel sorry for you Dean. Why would I?"

Dean blinked and stepped back. "Oh." He dropped his head to look down at his boots. "Sorry."

Castiel shrugged. "Doesn't matter." He took a few steps around Dean and headed out of the school.

"See you later, Cas." Dean called.

Castiel smiled.

#

"OK, that makes sense." Castiel filled in the last of his Maths homework and switched the phone to his other hand, leaning back in his desk chair. "Thanks Lucifer."

"No problem, little bro." Lucifer replied.

"Are you and Michael coming home for Thanksgiving?" Castiel asked, he wanted them to come home, he hadn't seen them in some time. Anna often came for Sunday dinner and to do her laundry, but Lucifer and Michael almost never did. He knew it upset their mother.

"I dunno." Lucifer said. Castiel could hear the hesitation in his voice.

"Please? I miss you." Castiel said. "So does mom." He heard Lucifer snort in derision. "Dad does too. Gabriel… Not so much."

Lucifer laughed. "We'll see… OK?"

"OK." Castiel smiled, it was almost as good as a yes.

"Castiel! Dinner!"

"I have to go." Castiel said.

"All right. Talk to you next time you have Maths homework." Lucifer laughed.

"Bye." Castiel carried the phone downstairs with him and slipped it back into the cradle before sitting down at his place at the table.

It was only himself and his parents for dinner; Gabriel was working. Castiel immediately began lining up sausages carefully on his plate.

"Your friend took my advice. I went over to Bobby's earlier." His father said, scooping large spoonful's of mash. "He accepted the raise and decided to quit his second job, but he'll be doing weekend shifts at Bellevue." Bellevue was the restaurant Gabriel worked at and the one closest to their home. Just around the corner really.

"That's good. He seemed upset earlier when I suggested it." Castiel said.

"Yeah, the lad's got his pride Cas. It seems to me like he wants to prove he doesn't need help." Joe took a bite of a sausage, "I don't know why though."

Castiel thought about that and the embarrassment he had seen in Dean's eyes. It seemed likely that his father was right.

"Don't talk with your mouth full." Kathy scolded. "Castiel, have you thought about visiting any university open days yet?"

"Not yet." Castiel said, "I was thinking maybe after Christmas."

#

It was the last day of school before Thanksgiving break. Castiel was sitting in the library, wanting to finish his work before the holiday so he wouldn't be worried about it while sitting at the dinner table.

Lucifer and Michael were coming home that evening and Anna had already arrived. It made Castiel smile. It would be the first time the whole family had been together in months. He bent closer to his History book - just this last essay to finish.

Castiel was so absorbed in his work he got quite a shock when someone threw themselves into the seat beside him.

"I am fucking sick of this shit!" Dean.

"Shhh." Castiel replied. "This is a library." He and Dean had been talking a little more, but it was mostly about little, inconsequential things and Dean's persona could fluctuate wildly from one day to the next. As if he wasn't sure how to behave around Castiel anymore. As if he didn't know whether to trust Castiel or not.

"I hate the way they look at me." Dean said.

It had been almost a month since Dean had transferred and his initial popularity had decreased dramatically. He was unable to go to the parties he was invited to, to the nights at the movies, on dates with the pretty girls. The other students had noticed that he never ate with them because he didn't have money for lunch. And he had either grown slightly, or he hadn't bought new clothes in a good long while because his jeans seemed to be getting shorter; they had realised that Dean's clothes were not fashionably untidy, they were just old.

Dean was not what they had expected and, more often than not, he was left alone. Castiel suspected that this was the reason why Dean had taken to talking more to him - because the others had given him the cold shoulder.

"How's that?" Castiel asked.

"Like they feel sorry for me." Dean said, huffing out a sigh and leaning his elbows on the table.

"Yeah, I know what you mean." Castiel said, thumbing through his European history textbook, looking for the pages about the English Civil War. "It's the teachers mostly."

"What? Why would they look at you like that?" Dean asked, turning to look at Castiel with an expression of disbelief.

"Because I have no friends." Castiel answered, finding the right pages and beginning to read.

"What?" Dean sounded surprised.

"I'm always alone, Dean. Haven't you noticed?" Castiel frowned, the information in this book was vastly different to the last book. He sighed.

"Well… I just thought…" Dean sounded lost.

"I don't know why no one seems to like me. Maybe they know I'm gay… Or, they think I'm too weird or something. A nerd." Castiel shrugged and opened a third book, putting the other aside for a moment.

Dean was silent for a long minute. Castiel looked at him.

"You're gay?" He asked.

"Yeah." Castiel nodded.

Dean didn't seem to take this too badly. At least he didn't seem disgusted, or anything.

"Oh." He said. "I wouldn't have thought so."

"Why? Because I'm not a screaming queen?" Castiel asked.

Dean stuttered for a moment, "No, I just…"

Castiel continued with his essay and Dean sat quietly for a long while. Their lunch hour continued ticking by.

"My Mom died in a fire when I was four." Dean suddenly said.

Castiel looked at him. Dean was staring down at the table, his hands laid out in front of him. He seemed tired, not just physically, and serious. Castiel had never seen this Dean before. It felt real.

"Sammy was just a baby. I carried him out of the house." Dean sighed. "Our Dad was never the same after. We moved around a lot. He couldn't stay in the house where Mom had died, but he couldn't stay anywhere else either." He swallowed and risked a glance at Castiel, who was listening carefully. "He kept saying he was looking for her killer, but it was an electrical fire, completely accidental. Eventually I said that we couldn't keep moving Sammy. He was starting high school and it wasn't fair. The next town we came to was this one. Dad took off almost as soon as we got here. I don't know where he is, or even if he's alive. He wasn't much use anyway. I only need to pretend he's still here until my birthday, it's only a couple of months, then I can apply to be Sammy's legal guardian and it'll be easier."

"I see." Castiel said.

"You're not going to tell anyone are you? I can't lose him, Cas. I can't." Dean's green eyes were suddenly dark with worry and anguish.

"Of course not." Castiel replied. "What you're doing is difficult. If I can help, or my family, you only have to ask, Dean."

Dean looked away, his ears turning red, his forehead pulling into a frown.

"I don't feel sorry for you, Dean." Castiel said, reading Dean's expression from the side. "I can't empathise with you; I have never experienced anything like that. My mother has never been taken from me, my father has never abandoned me and I don't have to be scared every day that the one person I have left might be taken from me." Dean turned back to him with wide eyes. "But, that doesn't mean I don't want to help you. I feel bad that you have been plunged into this situation, but I am not offering you help out of pity; I'm doing it because I like you. Because you work so hard and I can see that it's taking its toll on you." He turned back to his essay. "I would like us to be friends… If you want." He tried to hide his burning cheeks by leaning closer to his books.

"Thanks." Dean said, after a moment. "I think I'd like that too."

The bell rang, Dean waited for Castiel to pack his things away and they walked out of the library together.

"Bye, Dean." Castiel said, heading left.

"See you later, Cas." Dean replied, heading right.

Castiel grinned all the way to Health. No one noticed.

#

"So what's this I hear about a boy you like?" Michael smirked in the doorway to Castiel's room.

"You shouldn't listen to Gabriel." Castiel said.

Thanksgiving dinner had been enjoyable, if slightly strained. The tension was mostly centred around the twins and Kathy, Lucifer more so than Michael. Castiel wasn't sure of the reason, but he suspected it was something to do with football and the fact that his mother felt Lucifer was spending too much time on sport and neglecting his 'serious' studies. Castiel had heard several arguments to that effect over the years, even during high school. Michael seemed to be able to shrug it off far more easily than his twin.

"I don't know… Dad seemed to agree." Michael said, entering the room and throwing himself into the chair at Castiel's desk that had once belonged to Lucifer.

Castiel sighed.

"What's his name?" Michael asked.

"What's the name of your girlfriend?" Castiel countered. He had heard from Lucifer that Michael had a girlfriend, but Michael had never mentioned her in front of the rest of the family.

"Melissa. She's really nice. I might take a deep breath and bring her here for New Year." Michael said, smiling. The expression on his handsome face and in his dark brown eyes asked for acceptance from his youngest brother.

"I'd like to meet her." Castiel said.

Michael's smile widened. "So… This boy."

"His name's Dean." Castiel gave in. "He's abnormally handsome."

Michael laughed. "Dad said he looks after his little brother."

"Yeah, he's having a bit of a hard time." Castiel said. "But, he doesn't complain. He's my friend."

Michael nodded knowingly. "Is that all?" He asked.

"I believe that is all it will ever be." Castiel said. He was disappointed to know this, he felt that he and Dean were close since Dean had told him about his family. He felt like Dean trusted and liked him. He liked Dean too, much more than he had realised until just a few days ago.

It wasn't just Dean's abnormal handsomeness. It was Dean himself too, though he was still somewhat of a mystery to Castiel, he knew how hard Dean worked, how much he loved his brother, how he was managing to hold everything together despite the immense pressure on his shoulders. He was obviously someone who felt things deeply, he seemed emotional under his cold cocky persona, someone who was used to giving, to being the one his brother, and probably his father, could rely on. Castiel would've liked to have been that person for Dean.

Castiel had never really been an emotional teenager, he had been asked on several occasions in middle school if he was secretly a robot-spy working for the government, but that did not mean he didn't feel things. Castiel was used to logical thinking and categorising thoughts into boxes in his mind. He believed this was due both his mother's and his father's influence. His father liked to keep home and business separate, most of the time, and his mother's office was so incredibly organised, colour coded and tagged, that Castiel never had to ask her where anything was. She was the same about laundry. But, he felt just as deeply as anybody else. His family knew it. He wanted Dean to know it.

"That doesn't mean you can't give it a try." Michael said. "Take a risk. Sometimes it works out." He got up to give Castiel a brief hug, Castiel felt small against him.

"Maybe." Castiel said. The problem was… He didn't know how. Years of not interacting with his peers, except on the most basic level, had stunted his social skills somewhat. He wondered if it was possible for him to be a friend, or anything more, to Dean, since he didn't know what that meant, what he had to do.

"Lucifer and I are leaving soon." Michael said, heading for the door.

"I'll be down in a minute." Castiel replied.

He sat in his room for a few moments more, wondering what Dean and Sam had done for Thanksgiving, then he got up and headed downstairs. Before he had even got to the stairs though he noticed that his father's office door was open. His father was sitting at his desk, looking through some accounting books.

"How're we doing?" Castiel asked, moving to stand at his father's side.

Joe reached out and wrapped an arm around his son's waist. "Not bad… Don't tell Gabriel, but I'm glad he's held off on university for a while. I'm not sure we could've handled four sets of tuition fees this year."

Lucifer and Michael would be graduating college as Castiel was graduating school. His father had told him on many occasions how glad he was about this. Though Castiel was still looking at a few possible scholarships, to ease the burden a little on his parents' finances.

Joe squeezed Castiel's waist, "C'mon, I think your brothers are leaving."

#

Castiel handed in his English paper and hiked his bag up a little higher on his shoulder. He was thinking about his Maths homework when he was accosted by Dean in the corridor.

"Hey, Cas."

Castiel jerked in surprise. "You scared me half to death!"

"Sorry." Dean laughed. He'd been following his new work schedule for a week now and he looked much better for it. Not so tired, not so drawn. "Bobby's insisted I take a few hours off today, you wanna do something with me?"

"Sure." Castiel thought about he'd like to do for a moment. "You want to go to the park and feed the ducks with me?"

Dean blinked at him for several long seconds, "It's the 3rd of December, Cas."

"So?" Castiel shrugged.

Dean smiled, one of the soft smiles Castiel had thought he reserved only for Sam. "Sure, Cas. Why not?"

It was decided that they would go to Castiel's house first to pick up some bread and drop their bags off, before going to the park that was only a few minutes away from the house.

"Do you want anything to eat?" Castiel asked as he shoved bread crusts and stale slices into a bag. His mother only ate granary bread, Castiel and his father ate white bread and Gabriel would only eat brown, so there were plenty of spare ends – the mallards would feast upon stale bread of many kinds.

"No thanks." Dean answered. Castiel had begun making his own sandwiches to take into school for lunch. Dean would not accept Castiel buying a lunch for him, but he was perfectly happy to share a lunch Castiel had made himself. Castiel didn't really understand the difference, but it clearly meant something to Dean so he never said anything about it. He enjoyed sharing anything with Dean.

They walked back into the hallway and Castiel put the bread down on the hall table before opening the coat cupboard and picking up his gloves and scarf. He turned back to Dean.

"You'll be cold." He said.

Dean was wearing his usual torn jeans, boots, and his leather jacket, but he only had a thin navy blue t-shirt on underneath it.

"I'll be fine." Dean said, reaching down to zip up his jacket as if to prove that he would be fine.

"Come upstairs." Castiel said, leading the way.

Dean paused in the hallway for a moment, looking at Castiel who was halfway up the stairs.

Castiel turned back, "Come on."

Dean shook his head and followed, Castiel wasn't sure what that meant, but he walked to the end of the landing and reached up to pull open the hatch to the attic. The ladders landed on the carpeted floor with a thump and Castiel beckoned Dean to follow him up.

He flicked on the light.

"Cas, why are we up here?" Dean asked, obviously perplexed. His eyes flicked around to old piles of magazines and books, boxes labelled 'baby things' and 'Mom's stuff', fishing gear and old football equipment.

"When they went to college Lucifer and Michael left some of their clothes behind. They kept saying they would come and get them, but they never did." Castiel said, pulling out a couple of bin bags with yellow ribbons tying them up. In his mother's family system, yellow denoted the twins. "I doubt they'd even fit into this stuff anymore. But, I think you might. You have the same sort of build as they did at our age."

Castiel pulled the ribbon off the first bag and rooted through it, it appeared to be Michael's bag. Michael favoured colours while Lucifer wore an awful lot of black. He pulled out a dark green sweater. "Here." He tossed it to Dean. "Try it."

Dean looked vastly uncomfortable, but he removed his jacket anyway. Castiel watched carefully. Dean was well built for his age, strong arms and a wide, muscular chest. Castiel had a flat belly, but he didn't have muscles, not like Dean. Castiel appreciated the view.

Dean pulled the jumper over his head and made sure his pendant was on the outside of his clothes, resting on his chest. He held his arms out as if to ask how he looked.

"It fits well." Castiel said with a smile. "I bet their jeans would fit you too." He dug through the clothes, pulling a pair out and holding them up. Trying to imagine Dean inside them, though the thought of him out of them was just as appealing.

Castiel hoped that the poor light in the attic hid his blush.

"You should take these." Castiel said, folding the jeans back into the bag once he'd decided that they probably would fit Dean. "Lucifer's stuff too." He yanked the other bag to sit next to the first.

"Cas…" Dean looked uncomfortable, probably thinking of it as charity.

"Come on Dean, the clothes want to be worn." Castiel smiled. "Why won't you give them what they want?"

Dean chuckled, but still looked troubled.

"It's not charity, Dean. If you don't take them they'll just sit up here going to waste." Castiel picked up the bags and handed one to Dean. "Have them." He insisted.

Dean sighed. "All right." He groused, descending the ladder onto the landing.

"We can leave them in the hallway until we get back from the park." Castiel said, following. He shoved the ladders back up and closed the hatch.

"OK. Which one's your room?" Dean asked, glancing at the closed doors.

"This one." Castiel said. He opened the second door on the left and stepped to one side, motioning for Dean to enter.

Dean was the first non-family member to enter the room in over five years. Castiel was inexplicably nervous. As if he wanted Dean to like his room, because that would mean that Dean liked him.

Dean looked around at the light blue walls, a few posters were tacked up here and there – a movie poster of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a blown up photograph of James Dean, the New York skyline unrolled across the top of one wall. He glanced at the desk where Castiel's laptop was sitting, it used to be Michael's and even though it was slow and started making a buzzing noise after an hour or so, it still worked. It was covered in Michael's old stickers, a Coca-Cola sticker, a Pepsi one, a 'The Hawks' sticker – the high school football team. The desk, that used to belong to his father, was also cluttered with books and magazines. Castiel had several shelves in his room, all piled with books and some DVD's. Castiel's mind was organised, but his room… Less so. There was a small pile of notepads and magazines next to his bed. Anna's old dresser, complete with pink handles, was fairly neat and tidy, and his double bed was covered with white sheets. He used to share a room with Gabriel until Michael and Lucifer had gone to college, so it always felt a little empty, like there wasn't enough in it. Castiel had insisted on a larger bed to compensate. Though he was thankful that he hadn't had to worry about Gabriel dipping his fingers into a glass of water at night for the last few years, although he had attempted to do so at Thanksgiving when they had been forced to share while the whole family was home.

"It's nice." Dean said, vaguely. He sat down on Castiel's bed.

Castiel moved to sit next to him. "Are you OK?" He asked.

"Yeah." Dean nodded. "My room in our house before… The walls were the same colour as this." He said.

Castiel leaned his shoulder against Dean's, feeling the warmth of Dean seeping through the green jumper and the leather jacket that Dean had taken and made his own. They were silent for long minutes.

Castiel wondered what Dean's room looked like. What his home looked like. He suspected Sam's room probably looked a lot better than Dean's. Dean took the best care of his brother that he could.

"Did you pick out that dresser?" Dean suddenly asked, humour in his voice.

"It was Anna's." Castiel replied, smiling. "Most things in this room are hand-me-downs."

"They are?" Dean said.

"Sure. The only reason I'm not wearing my brother's clothes is because they're either too big or too small for me." Castiel shrugged.

"Too small?" Dean raised an eyebrow.

"Gabriel's a short shit." Castiel laughed.

Dean grinned, watching Castiel closely, his eyes bright… Happy.

"Come on." Castiel said, after a moment. "Those ducks won't hang around forever you know."

Dean nodded and followed Castiel out of the room and down the stairs.

They left the bags of clothes beside their book bags and Castiel looked at Dean for a moment before once more pulling open the coat cupboard door.

He stepped inside and re-emerged with another scarf. He stood in front of Dean and reached up, wrapping the stripy wool around Dean's neck. It wasn't until he glanced up at Dean's face that he realised how close they were. Dean's eyes were dark, there were little gold flecks around his irises, they flicked from Castiel's bright blues, to his lips.

Castiel didn't dare breathe as Dean leaned in closer.

"Cas!"

Castiel and Dean jumped apart as Gabriel threw open the front door and swaggered in.

A horrible gleam came into Gabriel's eyes as he took in the stances of Castiel and Dean, the guilty looks on their faces.

"You must be Dean." Gabriel said, he didn't work weekends very often and had yet to meet Dean. "Cas is right, you are very handsome." He smirked.

Castiel reddened. "Gabriel." He said, warningly.

"Y'know, my brother is completely ho-" Gabriel began, grinning.

"Gabriel! You fuck!" Castiel interrupted, taking a step towards his brother and giving him a hefty shove.

To his credit, Gabriel only stumbled a little. Then he was laughing. "Wow. You've got it bad." He gave Dean a sarcastic wave and disappeared around the hall. "See you later, lovebirds!" He called.

Castiel turned back to look at Dean, worried about what he might see. But, Dean was biting his bottom lip, clearly trying not to laugh.

"Don't laugh." Castiel said. "You'll only encourage him." He picked up the bag of bread and his own scarf and gloves and led the way out of the house.

Dean caught up with him and walked beside him. They stepped in silence for a few moments.

"So…" Dean finally said. "You think I'm handsome?" He smirked, but it wasn't the cocky smirk from school, his eyes were bright, teasing.

Castiel felt his face burn. "Maybe." He said.

Dean grinned, wide, and bumped his shoulder into Castiel's.

#

Castiel felt different.

He had been getting to know Dean even more over the past couple of weeks. He knew lots of Dean's favourite things and food preferences – Led Zeppelin, blue, Vonnegut (of course), District 9, Family Guy, Double Bacon Cheeseburgers, Dr Pepper, Apple Pie. He had said that the pie was the most important of these favourite things. Dean's dream car was 1967 Chevy Impala, he'd seen one once when he was twelve years old in Missouri somewhere and instantly fallen in love. His want for the future didn't extend to himself, only to Sam. He was going to save as much as he could and get Sam into a decent college after high school.

It was odd. The more time he spent with Dean the less… Fine, he felt. He wasn't just fine anymore, not just OK… It was more than that.

In return Castiel had informed Dean of many of his own preferences; Damien Rice, forest green, H.G. Wells, Lord of the Rings or Pulp Fiction, The Sopranos, Sweet and Sour chicken, Cherry Coke, Key Lime Pie. Castiel wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do with his life, or what his dream car was. He liked Michael's car, though he wasn't sure what kind it was.

It was nice. More than nice.

#

Castiel closed his Poetry book, finally finishing his write up on sonnets. It was a Saturday. Less than a week until the Christmas holidays began. Castiel was more excited than he usually was at Christmas and he couldn't deny that it was because of Dean.

Dean didn't have an awful lot of time after school and at weekends, but they had managed to find time to eat ice cream and walk along the pier at the shore together, despite the cold weather. Castiel liked being with Dean, every conversation somehow felt like subtle flirting and Dean touched him a lot, a hand lingering on his arm, fingers brushing as they walked together and once Dean had dropped his hand onto Castiel's knee under the table in the library and left it there until the bell had rung. The problem was that Castiel did not know how to react to any of this, to the flirting, or the touching. What was he meant to do? It was all very confusing.

Castiel heard a knock at the front door and he covered his mouth as he yawned.

A moment later Gabriel was yelling up the stairs at him, "Cas! Your boyfriend's here! He brought some squirt with him!"

"Hey!" He heard Sam's voice pipe up.

Castiel launched himself out of his chair. He was halfway down the stairs when he heard more voices arriving in the hallway.

"You must be Dean Winchester." It was Lucifer's deep silky voice. That meant Michael was home too.

"Yeah." He heard Dean reply. "Are you the Devil?"

Castiel got to the bottom of the stairs to see Lucifer standing very close to Dean. He and Michael were a few inches taller than Dean.

"What did you just say?" Lucifer asked his voice low.

"Lucifer." Michael said. He took hold of his brothers' arm and pulled him away from Dean. "Relax."

Lucifer snorted in derision and walked into the house proper.

"Ignore him." Michael said, waving a hand in the direction Lucifer had disappeared.

"Hello, Dean." Castiel said, coming to stand by his eldest brother.

"Hey, little brother." Michael wrapped an arm around him and squeezed Castiel into his side.

"This is my brother Michael." Castiel's voice was muffled against Michael's coat.

"Hey Cas." Dean smiled. "You wanna come see a movie with us?"

"Sure." Castiel grinned back, he opened the coat cupboard to get his shoes and winter coat, it had been a snowing a little earlier. "What's wrong with Lucifer?"

"Girl trouble, he's been bitching at me for days." Michael groaned. "And who's this?" His tone brightened.

"My little brother Sammy." Dean said, followed quickly by:

"It's just Sam."

Castiel pulled on his shoes and coat and wrapped a stripy blue scarf around his neck. Michael was smirking when he re-emerged from the cupboard.

He had the same horrible gleam in his eye that Gabriel often had. What was wrong with his family?

"Dean… I think little Castiel was right about you." Michael stroked his chin and looked Dean up and down. "You are abnormally handsome."

Castiel choked. "We're leaving now!" He shoved Dean and Sam none too gently out of the door.

"Bye, Castiel! Don't be out late!" Michael called.

Castiel groaned.

"Did you really say that about Dean?" Sam asked in disbelief.

Dean was grinning as he walked down the street between them.

"I may have." Castiel glanced at Dean. "Clearly I should never say anything to my family ever again."

Dean laughed.

"Really? About Dean?" Sam repeated, obviously unable to believe anyone could find his annoying older brother attractive.

"Yes! Why wouldn't he?" Dean gave a smack to the back of Sam's head.

Sam chattered away about school as they walked; the English paper he had on Animal Farm, the American Civil War, the cool experiments in Chemistry. Castiel didn't know how the boy could keep talking, minute upon minute, without taking a breath.

"I think he runs on solar energy." Dean whispered.

Castiel grinned. "But, it's snowing."

"What are you whispering about?" Sam asked, squinting at them in suspicion.

"Robert E. Lee." Castiel replied.

"Yeah, right." Sam snorted. "Anyway.."

Castiel rubbed his hands together. In his haste to get out of the house and away from his strange siblings, he hadn't picked up his gloves.

"You cold?" Dean asked. Cutting off Sam's explanation about capitalist pigs.

"I forgot my gloves." Castiel said, blowing warm air onto his hands.

"Here." Dean took hold of Castiel's hands and rubbed them between his own, raising them to his lips to warm them.

"Oh, god." Sam moaned. "Is that necessary?"

"Shut up, bitch."

"Jerk."

Dean shook his head and took one of Castiel's hands tucking it into the pocket of the thick denim jacket he was wearing. He laced their fingers together where no one could see.

Castiel smiled and shoved his other hand into the pocket of his own coat.

"What movie are we going to see?" Castiel asked.

"I don't even what's on." Dean said, he turned to look at Sam.

"Er…" Sam said as he thought.

The snow fell more heavily around them.

#

Eventually they settled on some action flick that wasn't as bad as Castiel thought it was going to be.

Plus, half way through, Dean dropped his hand to Castiel's knee. Eventually, after much deliberation, Castiel laid his own hand over Dean's. Dean flipped his hand over, palm up, and wrapped their fingers around each other.

Castiel could see Dean's smile in profile, in the light of the on screen explosions.

#

Castiel shoved his school things into his bag for the last time that year. When he returned to the school it would be a new year, but he'd probably have even more work.

Dean was waiting for him outside the classroom. He was wearing the scarf Castiel had wrapped around his neck weeks ago.

"Hey, Cas." Dean smiled.

"Hello, Dean." Castiel replied. "I thought you had work today?"

"I do." Dean said. "But, I don't tomorrow afternoon." He walked with Castiel out of the school building. "Do you… Do you wanna come over to my place tomorrow?" He tugged at the scarf, unable to rub the back of his neck - he was nervous.

Castiel was excited, he hadn't been to Dean's house yet. "I'd like that." He smiled.

"Cool. I'll come over to yours tomorrow and then we can go over to mine later?" Dean asked.

Castiel nodded and at the school gates Dean and Castiel turned in opposite directions.

Dean grabbed Castiel's fingers and gave a brief squeeze, "See you later, Cas."

#

"It… It's not much." Dean said.

Castiel looked at the house. It was small, one storey. It had been painted a funny grey colour a long time ago and the paint was peeling. The front porch was sagging and the grass in the yard was so long that it was sticking up through the snow, even though it had been falling pretty thick for the last week or so.

"I haven't had time to do the outside. I mean it's cold and everything." Dean said. "Nothing's actually falling down and the roof doesn't leak or anything, but I'll fix up a little more during the summer." He swallowed and looked nervously at Castiel.

"You're staying for the summer?" Castiel asked.

Dean blinked. "Yeah. We're pretty settled here." He smiled.

Castiel grinned back. "Can we go inside? It's freezing."

"Sure." Dean took Castiel's hand and pulled him up the porch steps and into the house.

"The steps look new." Castiel observed as Dean took his scarf and coat and hung it up on a rack just inside the front door.

"I had to fix them when we first got here. Sammy put his foot right through them." Dean said, removing his own outer clothes.

Castiel gave a chuckle and took a couple of steps into the house proper. There was a short hallway and at the end was a small kitchen, a square Formica table sat in the room, two mismatched chairs were tucked under it. The living room was equally as small as the kitchen and was only separated from it by half a wall. The living room contained only a sofa and a TV that was perched on top of an upside down tea chest. All the fixtures and furniture were dated, old fashioned, but everything was neat and tidy. The walls all looked like they had just had a fresh coat of matt white paint applied recently and the windows were large, making the room bright, inviting. Though it was sparse, it felt like a home. A good home. Castiel could hardly believe that two teenage boys lived there.

"It's tidy." Castiel said. He walked into the kitchen and ran his fingers over the worn counter top.

"I… I er… I cleaned up a little this morning." Dean rubbed the back of his neck. Castiel smiled. "Do you want a drink of something?"

"Orange juice. If you have it." Castiel said.

Dean nodded and pulled out a glass and the OJ from the fridge and poured.

"Do you do the cooking?" Castiel asked. Accepting the juice and drinking.

"Not very often. I'm not here a lot of the time." Dean looked embarrassed at this, upset that he couldn't be there for his brother more.

Castiel glanced around the rooms, seeing three doors leading off the living room.

"Do I get to see your room this time?" Castiel asked.

Dean's eyes darkened. "Yeah, sure." He took Castiel's drink from him and set it on the counter before taking his hand and leading him to the door closest to the TV.

Dean's room was also painted the same white as the living room and kitchen. There was a single bed with plain white sheets and a chest of drawers that Dean had also been using as a desk. School papers covered it and a chair that might have matched one of the ones in the kitchen, was sitting beside it.

Dean dropped himself onto the bed and patted the space beside him. Castiel sat down. The mattress was a just little too soft.

They sat in silence for some minutes. Dean turned his head to look at Castiel.

"Cas." Dean said.

Castiel looked at Dean. Dean's face was very close to his. His eyes were dark and one of his hands reached up to wrap around the back of Castiel's neck.

Castiel knew what was coming, but he still made a noise of surprise when Dean's lips finally pressed to his. Dean's mouth was soft, enveloping Castiel's bottom lip, sucking gently. Castiel leaned into him. He reached up to slide his fingers into Dean's hair, while the other hand grabbed hold of Dean's muscular upper arm. Squeezing tightly as his tongue snaked out, he wouldn't have been surprised if he was leaving a hand shaped bruise on Dean's skin.

After a moment of long, careful kisses, Castiel pulled back. His neck hurt from the awkward position. Dean was grinning at him through swollen, red lips.

"I've wanted to do that since the first time I saw you." He said.

Castiel blinked. That was weeks ago, the beginning of November. "Really?"

"Yeah." Dean laughed. He dropped a hand to squeeze Castiel's thigh. "One look at those baby blues…"

Castiel had never thought of himself as particularly good looking, though his bright eyes were certainly his best feature, and luckily he had not inherited his mother's rather hooked nose. His eldest brothers, Michael and Lucifer, were far better looking than he was and Anna was most certainly a very pretty girl. Gabriel liked to laugh that the looks had run out when it came to himself and Castiel. Which Castiel thought was unfair, both to Gabriel and himself. He did not believe that he and Gabriel were ugly, but certainly he had thought it unlikely that someone as attractive as Dean would look twice at him.

"But, you kept winking at the girls." Castiel replied.

Dean sighed. "Yeah… When you're always the new kid… It's better if you're not too… Different."

"I understand." Castiel nodded. It must have been difficult for both Dean and Sam to have been constantly moving around, meeting new people, attempting to fit in.

"And… I thought you weren't… Y'know." Dean shrugged.

Castiel smiled. "So… As soon as you met me?" He teased, pleased about that.

"As soon as I saw you." Dean corrected. "And then I heard you… Shit."

"Heard me?" Castiel looked at him, confused.

"Your voice!" Dean exclaimed, pressing a quick kiss to Castiel's mouth. "It gives me shivers." He smirked.

Castiel blinked, surprised. He had never been fond of his own voice. It had always made him sound so much older, like a 90 year old man.

"You sound good too." Castiel said. Leaning forward for another kiss from Dean's warm mouth.

#

Castiel joined in the 'fa-la-la-la-la's' of the carol's chorus as he and his family walked down the street towards Bellevue. Michael and Anna began it, striding with purpose arm in arm out of the house. Gabriel joined in, singing loudly in Lucifer's ear. His mother called Michael to slow down so she could link up with him too, treading carefully so as not to slip on the packed snow and ice. Castiel hung back to walk with his father.

"How's everything going?" Joe asked. "With you and Dean?"

"Good." Castiel answered, as embarrassed as ever to be discussing it with his father. Usually he was perfectly happy to discuss anything with him, but Dean was different. Dean was… Special.

"I'm glad." Joe nodded, understanding. He had always been more in tune with his two youngest sons than the elders.

He and Gabriel were very alike and, despite that, always got along well - where Kathy and Lucifer were very alike and had always butted heads because of it. Castiel was his youngest and, as much as he hated to admit it, he had been around for more of Castiel's childhood than he had with the others. He had worked hard for years, building businesses from the ground up and it was only within Castiel's lifetime that he had been able to take more of a backseat, work from home, put in less hours. He understood Castiel because he been able to watch as Castiel grew day by day, rather than a couple of hours here and there, as with his eldest children. He regretted not being around more for the others, but it was because he had not seen them so often that he was able to send to send them to such good colleges.

On Christmas evening, for at least the past ten years, Joe had been throwing a party for his friends and employees and their families at the Bellevue restaurant. It was less of a party really, more of a gathering. A Merry Christmas to everyone Joe knew. A way for those who were alone at Christmas to get together and celebrate, to not be alone.

"'Tis the season to be jolly!" Michael, Anna and Gabriel sang loudly as they entered the restaurant.

"Fa-la-la-la-la, La-la-la-la!" The restaurant sang back.

Castiel shook his head and pushed past his siblings to get into the warm.

"Oi! Bobby!" He heard his father call over his head.

Castiel danced between people until someone snagged the sleeve of his jacket.

"Hey, Castiel." Jo Harvelle grinned and pulled him into a bone shattering hug.

"Hi, Jo." Castiel squeezed out, patting her on the back. "Good Christmas?"

"Pretty good." She smiled. She glanced left and then right, as if expecting someone to be listening to them. "Do you know that new guy? The one that works for Bobby? He's soooo hot." She smirked and wiggled her eyebrows.

"New guy?" It took Castiel a surprising amount of time to realise who Jo was talking about. "You mean Dean?"

"Is that his name?" Jo asked, eagerly.

"Yes. Though I should say-" Castiel's words were cut off when Dean himself appeared.

He was dressed in his heavy denim jacket, though he had opened it in the warm restaurant, his cheeks were pink from the cold and then the heat and he was grinning at Castiel. Sam was beside him, one hand held the book his nose was buried in, while the other held a cup of eggnog.

"Hey, Cas." Dean moved to stand beside him.

"Hi, Dean, isn't it? I'm Jo." Jo surged forward, eyes glittering, shoving Castiel not so subtly out of the way.

"Nice to meet you." Dean nodded and looked down at Sam. "Aren't you going to say 'hi'?" Dean clipped the back of his brother's head.

"Ow! Dean." Sam complained, then, upon noticing the many other people in the room said; "Hey, Cas."

"Hello, Sam." Castiel smiled. "What is your book about?"

"North American folklore!" Sam almost sang. "Dean got me it. He got me a whole pile of others too."

"I must be nuts, I won't see his face for weeks. But, maybe that's a good thing." Dean laughed and Sam scowled at him. "How was your Christmas day?"

"Good." Castiel smiled. "It's not over yet." He had a small package in his pocket for Dean; he was planning to give it to Dean later. When it was quieter.

"Oh my god." Jo suddenly said. "You two are together!"

"So?" Dean said.

"Nothing, I guess." She smiled and shrugged and walked off… Towards Gabriel. Castiel vowed to keep one eye on them at all times.

"Weird." Sam said and returned swiftly to his folklore.

"How did your cooking go?" Castiel asked. Dean had been planning on making himself and Sam a small Christmas dinner. Kathy had invited them to their house, but Dean had decided he and Sam were going to have a proper Christmas – just the two of them. Before they had always had very little money and usually spent Christmas in some cheap motel room.

"Not too bad." Dean laughed. "I never realised you could burn potatoes before today though."

"All the water boiled away." Sam added. Juggling his eggnog to turn a page of his book.

"Tasted all right. Put in shit loads of butter." Dean said. He took hold of Sam's shoulder and steered him towards a nearby table and pressed him into a chair. He pulled out a chair for Castiel, smirking at his own chivalry.

Castiel gave him a look, but sat down. Dean took the seat between them.

"What about you? Have fun with your many, many siblings?" Dean smiled.

"Yes. It's nice. I like it when everyone's home. Even if they gang up on me sometimes." Castiel said. Remembering all the teasing he'd endured about Dean. It was only fun teasing though, never hurtful. Not even Lucifer, who didn't seem to like Dean very much, would ever say anything to hurt him.

Dean grinned.

"Happy Christmas, Castiel!" Bobby weaved his way towards the table.

"Merry Christmas, Bobby." Castiel stood up, accepting another tight hug.

Bobby then moved on to Dean, "You've already hugged me, Bobby." Dean said.

Sam gave a shout of surprised, so absorbed in his book he hadn't noticed Bobby, when Bobby hugged his head.

Castiel suspected that Bobby'd had a little too much eggnog. He weaved away again a moment later.

Dean shook his head, smiling and reached over the table to wrap one of his hands over Castiel's.

"I have something for you." Castiel said. "For Christmas." He reached into his pocket and placed a small package, wrapped in green and red Christmas paper, on the table in front of Dean.

Dean looked down at it. He seemed very surprised. "I-I… I didn't get you-"

"Doesn't matter, it's just a small thing. My Aunt Susan makes them. But, I was quite specific about what it should look like." Castiel said. "Open it."

Dean pealed the away the paper more carefully than Castiel had been expecting. Dean was generally very rough with most things. It was just the way he was, the way Castiel liked him. Underneath the paper was a small box.

"It's not an engagement ring is it?" Dean smirked.

"No." Castiel said.

Inside the box was a leather bracelet. It was fairly thick, tied in the middle was a green stone that had been polished shiny. Carved onto its face, curved and shaped, was a tall angel with long, trailing wings. On the back of the stone Dean's name was carved in curled script. It was more telling of the person who had given it to him, than of Dean himself. If Dean had carved it, it would have been far more simplistic than what Castiel had designed with his Aunt.

The Angel hadn't exactly been his idea. He had thought at first to put a car on there or something, but his Aunt had managed to persuade him to the Angel. He had quite liked it, but now he was unsure.

Dean looked up at him. Castiel felt his face burn a little in embarrassment.

"I just thought…" He murmured.

"It's gorgeous, Cas." Dean said. He held his wrist and the bracelet out to Castiel. Castiel fastened it quickly, tying it loose. "This the Angel you're named after?"

"I don't know. I guess it could be." Castiel said. Pleased and less embarrassed now that he knew Dean liked it. "Castiel is the Angel of Thursday."

"Really? You said the Angel you were named after was peripheral." Dean said, finally pulling his stare from the bracelet to look at Castiel.

"Well, he is. Not like Michael, or Lucifer, or Gabriel." Castiel shrugged.

"Thank you." Dean said. He leaned towards Castiel and kissed him quickly on the mouth.

Castiel heard a click and a giggle and even with his eyes closed, he saw the flash. He whipped around, spotting Jo and Gabriel disappearing into the crowd. He'd only taken his eyes off them for a minute!

"Damn it." Castiel said.

"I'll fix it." Dean got up and strode off. He'd had quite a bit of experience with Gabriel in the past few weeks and had learned how best to threaten him.

Castiel smiled at Dean's back.

"You two almost make me sick." Sam said, looking at Castiel as he took another sip of eggnog.

"Read your book, Sam." Castiel said.