Dean was currently sat in a psychologist's waiting room, and as far as he was concerned, it was all Sam's fault. His brother had been going on and on at him in an attempt to get him to go to counselling. Apparently, going on a date with some guy gave him grounds to nag his brother into seeing a counsellor. Stupid Sam and his stupid "Dean, I worry about you" argument.
Maybe Dean was uncomfortable because he didn't like head-shrinkers. He'd seen enough of them when he was a kid.
Maybe Dean was uncomfortable because Sam had told him this particular shrinker was his date's brother, and a lecturer at the college Dean had dropped out of two years previously.
Maybe Dean was uncomfortable because he was secretly of the opinion that Sam was right.
That last thought got bound, gagged, locked in the closet and thrown into the basement. Which was also locked. And bricked up. Then wall-papered over, and with a car parked in front of it, which Dean proceeded o focus on.
Cars. Manly. Haa.
Dean wasn't gay. Sam was gay, or bi, or whatever, and he'd long since accepted that. But Dean was straight. Straight, straight, straight. He just… it was really just this one guy who things always got out of hand with.
The receptionist, a blonde girl with wide eyes and a far-away gleam in her eye, jumped out of her skin as the intercom buzzed next to her.
"Rebecca…" A gravelly voice spoke slowly over the static of the intercom. "If you could send in my next appointment, please."
"Ok, Doctor DiAngelo." She breathed, looking a little scared of the intercom. "And… and it's Becky."
"My apologies." Came the reply, and Becky smiled across at Dean.
"Go on through."
Dean stood, took a deep breath, and walked into the psychologist's office. He didn't need to be here. He'd only made the appointment to shut Sam up. That was all, and he'd tell the head-shrinker himself.
"Ah, Mr. Winchester. Please, take a seat."
Dean was pretty sure his heart stopped. The man behind the desk (slim, pine type thing that probably came from Ikea and matched the laminate floors, white walls, blue curtains and numerous bookcases that sprawled around the room) was slender, around the same age as Dean, with pale skin, dark hair and eyes like goddamn diamonds.
"Uh… Dean." He said, sitting down and holding out his hand, because he part of his brain that made him look like an intelligent human being had apparently gone for a sandwich.
"A pleasure to meet you." He shook his hand, intent stare catching Dean like a rabbit in headlights. "If it helps you feel more comfortable, you may call me Castiel."
"Castiel." Dean nodded, glancing around, nervously. It was a nice office, although a little bare.
"So, Dean. What can I help you with today?"
Dean instantly flushed, and stared at the floor.
"My brother thought I should come here. He, uh… he thinks I'm in a bad relationship, thinks I need help getting out of it."
"I see." Castiel made a note on his pad, before returning his gaze to Dean. "If you don't mind my asking, how exactly is it… a "bad" relationship?"
"It's not." Dean stated, glaring across the desk at Castiel. Castiel held up his hands.
"My apologies. I meant to ask how your brother believed it to be "bad"."
"It's… casual." Dean shrugged, staring at the floor again. "We're on and off, you know? We're friends, we hook up, we fall out, then the cycle repeats."
"I see." Castiel made another note. "And the… should I say partner?"
"That might be a bit strong."
"The… other party?"
Dean nodded. Castiel sat back a little in his chair.
"Would you say the other party is aware of this cycle as much as you are?"
"And would you say she enforces it?"
"He. It's…" Dean cleared his throat, looking up in time to meet a slightly confused head-tilt from Castiel. "It's a guy."
"Oh. Forgive me, I'd presumed…"
"I'm straight. I just… have this thing with this one guy. But I'm straight."
"Oh…" Castiel looked at him for a moment, before interlocking his fingers. "May I ask, Dean, is your brother by any chance Sam Winchester?"
"Yeah. You know him?"
"Gabriel has mentioned him. I've yet to make his acquaintance." Castiel stared at him. "Is that why you came to me, specifically?"
"Yeah, I'd, uh… Sam apparently bitched about me to your brother, and he suggested I see you. Or something. I gotta be honest; I only did this to make Sam quit bitching."
"You see your brother regularly?"
"We live together. We used to go to college together, but I dropped out."
"And what would you have done?"
"What, in college? I don't know… I took psychology, sport science and engineering. I think I was only really doing it because Sam was. That's why I dropped out; it just wasn't for me."
"I see." Castiel was noting all of this down, his gaze flicking from page to Dean and back again. "So you would say you're close to your brother? Are you as close to the rest of your family?"
"Yeah. Well, I work at the family business; Bobby and Ellen own and run an auto-yard, and I work there nine 'til five every other day. I'm looking for a job elsewhere though, since Bobby's set that he doesn't want me stuck there."
Castiel paused for a moment.
"You're obviously close, and yet you call your parents by their given names..?"
"Oh, well, they're not really my parents." Dean shrugged, not used to talking so much about himself. "Adopted."
"Ah." Castiel tapped his pen against his notepad, causing Dean to look at the man's fingers. He had very long, slender fingers. The man as a whole was willowy, as though a strong breeze might send him skittering away. Dean was sure he looked like a lumbering ox in comparison. "How old were you?"
"God, I don't know… Nine, maybe? Ten? Around there."
"I see…" He sat back, and levelled Dean with another intense, curious stare. He was evaluating Dean like he was some sort of ancient puzzle, and Dean was worried to realise that he wasn't entirely uncomfortable with it.
What kind of car did Castiel drive, Dean wondered. He focused on that, trying to place the kind of car a psychologist would drive.
"What do you hope to take away from counselling?"
"I was… like I said, I only came here to shut Sam up, so…"
"I think you could benefit from some additional sessions." Castiel looked at him openly and unabashedly. "If only to have a confidant; you seem a little weary, and I feel it would improve your mental health if you just had someone to talk to."
"I'd like that. Especially now Sam's all… But I reserve the right to veto anything you ask."
"Of course." Castiel nodded. "I do not aim to make you uncomfortable. You are paying me, after all. You are in charge of these sessions."
"Really? Ok…" Dean liked being in charge. It made everything a lot simpler.
"So, now we have established that you will be attending for further sessions, what would you like to get out of them?"
Dean stared at his hands for a moment.
"I want out of this relationship thing. I mean, whatever it is, it's too confusing, it messes everything up. I want to just end it, and end it for good."
"We can do that." Castiel nodded. "You do appreciate that it won't be a… "quick fix"? It may take several sessions to get you to a point where you are ready for it, but I will always be willing to help you."
"Ok." Dean nodded. "So…where would we start?"
"I would like to know more about your… "relationship", if that's alright with you."
Dean exhaled, shifting his weight awkwardly in his chair. Castiel cleared his throat.
"Or we could speak more about Sam." Dean instantly relaxed. "How do you feel, in regards to his relationship with Gabriel?"
"Is it a relationship?" Dean chuckled. "He doesn't tell me squat. But I got the sense that it wasn't a thing yet."
"Perhaps it isn't." Castiel nodded. "Gabriel has certainly made it clear he wishes to keep their advances at a slow pace."
Castiel cocked his head at this. Den shrugged.
"Last thing Sam needs right now is to rush into anything."
"And you feel you have to look out for him?"
"Someone has to."
Castiel made another note on his pad.
"How old is he?"
"Twenty… five." Dean nodded, straining his memory.
"You sound unsure."
"Well, you know." Dean shrugged. "He's my kid brother, he's still twelve in my head."
"What? That's normal. Do you have younger siblings?"
"No." Castiel conceded, a slight smile pulling at his lips. "Perhaps it is normal behaviour, given my brothers actions towards me… Would you say you share a lot with your brother? Confide in each other?"
"I don't like chick-flick moments."
Castiel cocked his head to one side.
"I don't understand."
"You know, sharing and caring stuff. We… I let him know what he needs to know. I don't need to tell him everything."
"But he should tell you everything?"
Dean scowled, and spoke with a forced, measured tone.
"I don't see how that's going to help me kick my relationship, doc."
Castiel stared at him for a moment, the cold blue of his eyes stable as he matched Dean's glare. After a moment, he blinked down at the table.
"My apologies. Perhaps I overstepped the mark… Is there anything you would like to talk about? We have…" He consulted his watch, before looking up at Dean. "We have twenty minutes of session left. It was only a half hour you requested?"
"Yeah." Dean nodded, leaning back slightly in his chair. "Uh… I guess I could talk about him a little bit… the guy."
"Would you comfortable naming him?"
"No, I… he could get in trouble." Dean cleared his throat. "He, uh… we started this thing while I was still… in college. And he was my lecturer."
"Ah." Castiel nodded, noting down on his pad again. "So this has been going on for..?"
"Nearly two years, on and off."
Castiel chuckled to himself, the brief show of emotion causing Dean to raise an eyebrow. Castiel dismissed it.
"Nothing… It's just a situation I'm not entirely unfamiliar with." As soon as it had come, it passed, and Castiel was once again the stilted psychologist. "How should we refer to the gentleman in question, then? What would make you most comfortable?"
"Uh…" Dean shrugged, feeling a little uncomfortable in spite, or perhaps because of Castiel's concern for his relaxation. "I don't know… Sam always calls him the mystery guy, I guess?"
"Mystery Guy…" Castiel grimaced slightly at the sound of the words. "You'll forgive me, I'm sure it sounds more acceptable when he says it."
The phrase did sound odd in Castiel's clipped accent, and Dean had to admit he thought it sounded much less awkward when Sam said it.
"We could just call him… I don't know, my friend or something?"
"Your friend." Castiel nodded. "That will serve perfectly. May I ask how you began the… the 'cycle' you mentioned earlier?"
Dean cleared his throat, shifting his weight in his chair.
"We started out just hanging out. We met in a bar and agreed that we made good drinking buddies. Then… I don't know."
Dean didn't look at Castiel. Castiel stared at him, leaning forward in his chair.
"Dean, these sessions will only work if you are honest with me. You understand that I…
"I don't know." Dean repeated, forcefully. "I was really drunk, I don't remember it."
Castiel leant back slowly, holding his hands up.
"Very well. What do you enjoy in life, Dean?"
"You mean like hobbies? I don't know… cars, loud music, watching sports…" Dean shrugged. Castiel stared at him for a moment, as if he'd just told a joke that Dean had failed to get. "What?"
"Nothing. They sound like thoroughly typical pastimes for a young, straight man such as yourself."
"Yeah." Dean grunted, not appreciating the implication in Castiel's tone.
Castiel stared at him for a moment more, before continuing to write notes on his notepad. He glanced up at Dean, before writing a few more notes. Inwardly, Castiel sighed and silently wept. Outwardly, he was the utmost professional. This was going to be a long twenty minutes.
At the end of the session, Castiel heard Dean make another appointment with Becky, and waited until he was sure he'd heard the office door close before he went to leave.
"Becky. I shall be taking my lunch hour now. Please take calls until I return."
"Ok." Becky stammered, smiling awkwardly up at her boss. Castiel returned the awkward smile, and left. He wasn't sure he liked her, but the agency he had hired her from gave her excellent recommendations.
Castiel started heading down the street without a moment's hesitation. He would eat at his brother Gabriel's. It wasn't far, and he had come to understand that Gabriel had been somewhat disheartened lately, due to a lack of communication between himself and his new paramour, Sam Winchester. Castiel, being the concerned little brother that he was, felt it his duty to visit and make sure that his brother was ok. That, and Gabriel always offered to make food for him, which Castiel wasn't about to protest.
He wandered down the street, his thoughts half occupied with the troubling psychological state of his new client. Dean Winchester was not a healthy man, and Castiel had a feeling he may not have been the best person to help him.
His phone vibrated in his pocket, and he tried to ignore it.