Title: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker
Recipient : ltlredhairdgirl
Rating: PG-13 (language, brief mention of sexuality)
Warnings: None, other than a brief mention of organ meats (he is a butcher, after all...).
Spoilers: None, since it's AU.
Prompt: Human AU - Castiel owns a bakery and wins Dean over by slowly feeding him delicious things day by day.
Notes: This was written for ltlredhairdgirl's Everlasting Birthday Challenge. Her prompt dovetailed neatly with the inspiration from Misha's Twitter user info of "Actor, baker, candlestick maker". Beer description from Deep Ellum. The Dutch ale in question is an "oak-aged imperial stout." Cupcake descriptions are from Butch Bakery. This just kept getting longer and longer (and entire bits got discarded to keep it only mostly huge), and I wrote it this week while being sick, and recovering from, a stomach virus. I hope it's comprehensible. Happy birthday!
Summary: A bakery just opened next door to Dean's butcher shop, and Dean makes the mistake of telling Sam there's no way to make pastry manly in front of the pastry chef himself.
"There is no way you can make pastry manly. I mean, look at the shit in here. Gigantic cupcakes with icing taller than the cake. Oh, look, cupcakes covered in flowers—wait, is that a real flower? Why the fuck would you want to eat a real flower?" Passing a tall display case, Dean peers down into the next, waist-high cabinet to read off descriptions: "'Opera cake. Delicate almond sponge cake, soaked in small-batch, locally roasted Arabica coffee, layered with 70% bittersweet chocolate and coffee buttercream, then enrobed in more ganache,' whatever ganache is." So many French words on the descriptions of the items, so few letters in the words that you actually say. How does 'pate choux' become 'Pa-tay chu'? There's an x, for heaven's sake! "I mean, coffee and chocolate are always good, but what guy wants a dessert involving 'delicate' things?"
Sam, being approximately as tall as the Empire State Building, has to squat to read the labels. "Yeah, well, he's the new neighbor to your shop, so maybe you should be polite and try something? Pretend to like it, at least? Besides, I'm pretty sure your sweet tooth would still like all that icing." Dean turns from the case to roll his eyes and look at the slowly waking town outside the shop. It's nearing on fall, and the trees are just beginning to change. The area they live in is close to the Massachusetts border, in a town on New Hampshire's "Antique Mile", so they get tourists up for the foliage or people out for antiques. Either way, it's people who want advice on unusual cuts or don't mind spending a premium on meat that doesn't come from a factory farm and doesn't get stuffed with antibiotics. Dean, with Bobby's network, has enough connections to farmers in the area that chefs from Boston have also started to use Dean as a route to fresher ingredients. He doesn't have a problem with the chefs who make fancy food; it's just that personality of the chefs seems to largely be 'intense and very picky.' Good for his business, not so good for his blood pressure. So far, Dean thinks that his shop's new neighbor probably runs along those lines.
Glancing back over at the tall case they had just moved away from, Dean finally notices the hand with slender wrist that is twitching cupcakes just so. The hand disappears, and tufts of messy brown hair slowly begin to rise behind the case. Dean watches in fascination as a sculpted face with knitted brows, bright azure eyes, and stubble appears s-l-o-w-l-y, prairie dog-like, finally topping out just a few inches shy of his own height and gazing steadily.
The cautious head finally speaks and asks, "Can I help you with something?" in a growly voice that immediately makes Dean wonder just how pissed this guy got about his not-so-sugary comments about all the sugar in the shop.
"Oh! Hey! Yeah, my brother—" Sam claps Dean on the shoulder a bit too hard "—works in the shop next door, and I thought it was time we finally came to say hello." The eyes continue to gaze steadily, and the man finally says "…Hello."
"So, uh, I'm Sam. This is Dean. Like I said, he works next door. I have class a couple days a week at Merrimack, and I'm also taking a couple online courses, so I usually stop by the shop because Mr. Sunshine over here tends to forget his lunch at home." Sam smiles broadly at the face and attempts to covertly elbow his brother into speaking. Sam's smile gets a bit more strained and wider. "My name is Castiel. Cas, if you prefer." "Are you new to the area?" Dean notices that during the entirety of this conversation, this guy – Castiel – hasn't blinked. His own eyes are starting to water at the sight, and he grows more concerned that if he were to pour water on the guy he'd see sparks from circuits frying. "Not particularly." A younger woman appears from the back, carrying another try to fill the displays. With that cue, Castiel abruptly says, "Please excuse me. I have things to do out back."
While Dean and Sam trade looks of surprise, Cas reappears from the back carrying two plates, each one bearing a cupcake. Cas tentatively tilts his head at Sam and says, "I'd like to expand the offerings to things that are more nuanced in flavor." His eyes slide to Dean as he says this, cooling notably from the attempt at friendliness Sam was receiving. "I don't have many non-foodie friends to give feedback on taste combinations that the greater public might like, so… um. Perhaps I could persuade you to try a few things when you stop by to deliver Dean's lunch?"
One plate is proffered to Sam, and the other is handed to a dubious Dean. Dean notices that his cupcake is distinctly lacking in flowers. "Dude, are these… pretzels?" The barest hint of a smirk appears at Cas's mouth. Dean gets momentarily distracted by the movement of Cas's lips. "Yes, that's chocolate beer cake and beer-infused buttercream, topped with crushed pretzels. Sam, you have a rum-soaked vanilla cake with cola Bavarian cream."
Dean would open his mouth to apologize to the guy, but he's already got half a huge cupcake in there. He hopes the joyous whimpering and eyes cast to heaven carry his enjoyment across. Sam is taking smaller bites, which means there's plenty for Dean to try as swaps the cupcakes when Sam's distracted by trying to tell Cas how he likes it. "HEY. I thought you said you weren't going to like anything in here." "Sorry, Sammy. Gotta try 'em all. It's for the good of Cas's business. And for science. I know how you like science." Mouth full again, Dean hands Sam the now empty plate and backs towards the door as he waves goodbye to Cas and his assistant and gives them a thumbs up.
Dean straightens up from filling his display case the next morning to see a head, once again with knitted brows. For all that the guy – Castiel, a name almost as bewildering as 'pate choux' is a phrase – seems to have a large stick up his ass, his eyebrows sure are flexible enough to express emotions on occasion. "…Oh." The brows smooth back out into an approximation of a blank face, and a small white plate clinks down on top of the case, carrying 2 small doughnut-shaped items. "For Sam. When he comes by. He seems to be running a bit late this morning." A paper cup joins the plate, and the head with its characteristically mussed hair and piercing eyes turns and heads out. Dean totally does not bounce up onto his toes to catch the sweetly shaped ass striding out the door. He was just trying to get a better view of the items left on his case. "Probably some sort of weird grass tea thing in here, knowing my treehugger brother and his equally hippy new friend." Dean gently shakes the paper cup side to side, rolls his eyes, and inhales deeply to sigh. He pauses as there's the smell of something fried – oh dear god, how is he supposed to resist that and leave something for Sasquatch – and… and… the tang of coffee in the air?
Sam does get one entire beignet, covered in confectioner's sugar and filled with tart raspberry jam. He does get distinctly less than a full cup of coffee, though. Dean's glad he could sneak out back with his treat because the noises he makes weren't fit for outside a bedroom.
While Cas pops in at relatively predictable times with a now astounding variety of pastries, Dean keeps feeling the urge to go next door at the most random of moments. He just really wants to see if the guy loosens up beyond the small twitch of the lips and the obviously mobile but only to frown eyebrows. Today, he fails to resist that urge, especially when Sam comes in midday and mentions he hasn't eaten lunch yet and he spotted a quiche in the window of the bakery.
"So why is so much of this stuff so sweet if you prefer 'more complex things'?" Dean will one day learn to start a conversation with this guy in a more normal matter. It's just every time he looks at him unexpected and embarrassing things escape from his mouth. Insults, whimpers, moans, and now questions related to conversations a month old. Cas looks up from behind the glass, and Dean wishes he could angle himself so he could catch both the front and the rear view at the same time. "Gabriel provided the funds the bank loan didn't, and you've seen the evidence of his sweet tooth with the cupcakes." Sam snorts, as a shorter blonde man clutching a metal mixing bowl to his chest strolls out confidently to beside Cas. "I'll have you know my sweet tooth seems to match nicely with our customers since business is doing so well." He sticks a finger into the bowl, waggles his eyebrows at Sam, puts his finger into his mouth, and pulls it back out with a loud pop.
"My tastes may have driven inventory, but I'm trying to get baby bro Cassie here to interact more with the public in the hopes that someday he'll become a real boy, rather than this wooden interpretation of one." Gabriel pokes Cas on the cheek ("Boop!"), leaving a fingerprint-sporting gob of white icing behind. Cas narrows his eyes, scoops the icing off his face with a finger, and quickly swipes the same finger down the bridge of his brother's nose. The movement is fluid and sure, so unlike his conversational habits. Sam's attempts to stifle a laugh cause him to make some terribly unsexy snorts . "See, improvement already!" Gabriel cackles at his brother, waggles his eyebrows again after giving Sam an up-and-down study, and returns to the back of the shop, still licking icing off his finger.
Cas decides to return Dean's question with one of his own: "So why are you a butcher if you really love cars?" "Well… I worked as a mechanic for a while, but then I busted up my back pretty bad and decided I needed something with shorter hours and less moving heavy things. I've got others at the shop to help me lift all the time, so it's a lot easier. Me and my dad often went hunting when I was growing up, and we'd always dress the meat ourselves, so becoming a butcher seemed pretty natural." Cas nods briefly, tilts his head again, and asks solemnly, "What's your favorite body part?" Dean's eyes get wide. He's heard this question before, just not in this serious of a tone. Sam once again bends over in ill-concealed merriment and grasps his brother's shoulder for support. Between gasping laughs, Sam managed to squeak out, "I think he means what's your favorite cut of meat." Oh. OH. "Well, I hate how much waste most people have. Japanese cookery typically uses every part of an animal. I think oxtail is my favorite. Bone marrow you can melt into a delicious spread, though, and cheek can be so tender..." Cas smiles gently as Dean's face lights up and his face gets more open and excited, with hands twitching in the air as if they were grasping the meat now. "… And the rest of the scraps can go in sausage, and sausage is always delicious…" Cas looks at Sam as Dean continues his ode to organs and entrails, and Sam rolls his eyes and shrugs with a wide smile.
Dean stops by the bakery again at the end of the day after leaving his assistants to finish the mopping, hoping there might be some unsold items to filch, even though since tomorrow's a class day "Sam" will probably receive freshly baked treats the next morning. (Dean rues the day that Sam discovers that there are usually 2 items on the plate Cas drops off. He also rues the day when Sam discovers there have been far more food deliveries than have been shared with him. Sometimes a man just can't resist a chocolate croissant—and sometimes he can't resist two of them.) Sadly, there are no tasty treats to be had today, unless you count the tasty man behind the counter. Which Dean totally doesn't. Because he prefers loud and vibrant people to quiet wit and intense looks and subtle reactions that you watch constantly and closely for, but really staring at that face isn't too hard, is it? And watching his arms and hands is just studying body language. Yeah, that's it.
Cas and Gabriel have just finished up for the day, and Dean follows them through the shop to the back door. Gabriel pushes the door open briskly, but what Gabriel did not realize was his angel of a younger brother, after ensuring the rest of the staff had left, had placed a bucket full of flour on the top of the door. Gabriel turns to his brother, the only part of him not white with flour is the mouth gaping open in shock.
Cas smirks and carefully scoots by his brother to head out the door, and Dean quickly follows. "Don't forget to clean up… bro."
The following Monday, Dean is out in the little courtyard-cum-alley behind the small row of shops, checking over the deliveries before he heads in to start making sausage. A lithe figure, backlit by the rising sun, lopes easily into the courtyard wearing a light green t-shirt and black running shorts. Dean has a distant sense that he should recognize the individual when he finally comes close enough to pick out the facial features. Dean realizes that this is the first time he's actually been able to see that Castiel does in fact have a bottom half below his ass and takes a moment to thank the warm weather for the bare legs on display. "So… no baking today?" "It's Monday, so the shop's closed. Decided to take a day off to go to explore another local produce market. Gabe is supervising the baking for tomorrow." "Oh, that's cool." Neither know quite know what to say next, as Dean stands awkwardly half bent over checking a crate for inventory and Cas bounces from foot to foot. The guy unloading the truck covers up his smile with a cough to get Dean's attention, and Cas quietly slips away.
On the other side of the alley facing the shops is a former carriage house. The top floor belongs to Cas and Gabriel, and Gabriel, being a big fan of his creature comforts, has outfitted the interior to his satisfaction. Cas walks into the darkened kitchen to grab himself a bottle of water and runs his hand over the cool marble of the kitchen island counter. Two types of counter in the kitchen, with the rest of the counters being a tan granite, was a distinct indulgence, but Gabriel had insisted, arguing that marble is better for pastry and that, if Cas tried to do his culinary experiments in the shop's kitchen, he would never actually leave the shop. "You know how you get when you start thinking, bro. You used to sit still for hours as a kid so you could finish your book, and you're not any better when you get into Happy Baking Coma Mode." The thank you and hug Cas had given him after this had startled Gabe into stiffness and even a blush that turned the tips of his ears red—which of course meant Cas had to give him a Nelson-like mocking "Ha ha! You can be embarrassed!" and dance back out of reach. The cavalcade of supposedly embarrassingly trivia about Cas's sex life at top volume that followed him out of the room was worth it, especially since they didn't actually have any neighbors to hear.
A corner of his mouth quirked up into a smile, Cas walks over to the window to let some cooler air in. He has, not coincidentally, chosen the window in the kitchen that overlooks the courtyard. He finally focuses his eyes on the spot where he'd left Dean, hoping to see more of him in motion. His attention is jerked to directly below his second-story window by a voice calling up, "HEY! So… you want any company in checking out that farmer's market?"