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: Originally over at the deancastiel LJ community as part of the Everlasting Birthday Challenge.
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.
The farmer's market is only a half an hour drive, and Cas and Dean ride comfortably in the Impala with the windows down and Metallica blaring. Cas would complain about the volume, but he knows, if it were Gabriel in the driver's seat, the stereo would just get turned up louder. Instead, he squints behind sunglasses out at the fields and lets his hand float along the breeze.
The day is sunny but temperate, and they wander among the aisles, asking for samples as they go. Cas periodically pulls out a small notebook to jot down information when he finds a particularly good vendor, and Dean finds himself asking to borrow the notebook to scribble down his own thoughts. Dean catches himself feeding Cas food when Cas resists trying something, and Cas retaliates by telling some of the vendor that "Oh, yes, I know Dean would love to try your face scrub! He's always complaining about his dull, dry skin."
Eventually, the loud grumbles from Dean's stomach force him to realize that he hasn't eaten a real meal in several hours. "Well, come on. We've been looking at food all day. How about we actually get some to eat?" They find a stand doing fried fresh cod and fries. Dean's eyes light up, and he explains to Cas that they don't sell fish yet because it spoils too quickly, so this is going to be a rare treat for him. Cas hands Dean a ten dollar bill for his food, asking him to get him the same thing, and runs off to some place to the right. Dean's just sitting down at a table when Cas reappears with 2 beer bottles in hand. "Thought you might not object to these. They're from a local microbrewery." The meal gets devoured, more beers get procured, and an another hour passes. Dean is relaxing in the chair he's tipped onto it back legs, smile on his face, legs akimbo, and beer balancing on his knee, as he listens to Cas tell a story of his accountant past when he receives a concerned text from Sam asking where he is. Dean can't help feeling that the guy may be tetchy and hard to reach sometimes, but it's definitely worth the patience to break through the shell. Dean may have a new hobby in making him smile, too.
Cas spots a bit of movement out the window while helping a customer. When he looks back, there's nothing there. He resumes talking to the nice woman who's telling him how her daughter-in-law just loved the pear tarte tatin and that it made the family dinner go so much better, her actually having something to bring as a gift, when he notices the movement again. This time, he also notices the tuft of carefully groomed sandy blonde hair. The hair edges further into his line of vision until a pair of darting green eyes emerge from below it. When the eyes see eyes watching them in return, the head again yanks back out of view. Cas smiles again, a habit he's starting to get used to with Dean around. He belatedly notices that his customer has stopped talking and is waiting with a slightly confused expression to complete the transaction. "Sorry about that, Mrs. Moore. Thought I saw something out the window. Glad the tarte helped sweeten things."
As soon as Mrs. Moore is out of sight, Cas grabs something from the case and bursts through the front door and into the butchery, setting off the bell on the door with a loud clang. "Spying on me, are you?" Dean sputters, "Yeah, well, you did it to me the first time we met."
Cas raises his eyebrows and sets down his latest creation. In front of Dean sits a cupcake-sized, tiny, perfect, lattice-topped pie.
"The day we first met, you said pastry could never be manly. I'd like to issue a challenge to you. You come over tomorrow night, and I will cook you a pastry dish that I guarantee you could consider manly." Dean pauses, since he's never really sure when a guy means come over for dinner as in hang out or come over for dinner as in let's make out. Cas pauses briefly and continues by saying, "I was hoping Sam and Gabriel could join us as well." "Yeah, sure. Game on!"
One of Dean's shop assistants gives his boss a covert wink and then asks Cas about his training as a pastry chef, and the discussion falls into Middle Eastern cuisines and meat with spices Americans typically reserve for pastry . Dean interjects with, "So, if the meat is supposed to be the star of the show, what difference does it make in what cinnamon you use?" "Well, I don't know if you've tried them, but there are several types of cinnamon. Some have more of a heat on the tongue, some are more gentle, and some are more aromatic."
He will later blame his outburst on nerves, that the slow twist in his belly and barrage of want every time he looks into that face makes him want to push it a step farther than dinner with their families, but Cas's business being right next to his means he can't screw this up. So, of course, he does.
"You know, just because I'm a butcher doesn't mean I don't have a refined palate. Pretty sure I could taste the differences between them if I ever got to try them. Us common folk haven't gotten to experience all the things you fancy folk have, so you could cut me some slack."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"Whatever. You know what, I don't care. Go back to your freaking edible flowers." Dean twists his face into a frown and walks out, throwing the towel into the laundry bin as he goes. He's regretting his words, but going back to admit in front of some of his staff that he made an ass out of himself because he's self-sabotaging any chance of a relationship isn't something he can handle today. His pie tastes like regret. Delicious, terrifying, what the fuck have I done regret.
Sam, having gotten a text from Gabriel regarding Cas's invitation to dinner and Dean's subsequent asshattery, gives Dean no choice about going over. "I don't care if you don't apologize tonight, but you are going to apologize and we're going to go over there and you're going to be civil." "Why? It isn't like he works next door to you. He wasn't exactly polite to me, either." Sam gives Dean a long look and announces that Dean can either take the keys and drive them over, or Sam hogtie Dean, stuff him in the back seat, and drive them over. "We can do this the dignified way, or we can do this the undignified way."
Gabriel greets them at the door with a smile for Sam and a fierce glare for Dean, ushering them upstairs and into the kitchen. At the sound of the tromping, a dry, deep voice from behind the pantry door says, "I figured you would not be terribly interested in the wine since it's too fancy. There are bottles of beer in the fridge for you, Dean." Gabriel smacks the person behind the door with a spatula, and Dean hears a muttered "sorry". Dean looks in the fridge and spots a characteristically amber bottle. "Browerij de Molen Hel and Verdoemenis," reads the label. "11.0% alcohol, all right then. You'd think you were trying to get me drunk or something." Snooty beer for a snooty man, Dean thinks. He immediately winces and berates himself internally for taking the guilt out on Cas, even mentally.
Dean walks over to sit at the small breakfast bar in the kitchen in front of Cas's workspace, watching deft, slim hands fold translucently thin sheets of dough over and over, brushing each new layer with the egg mixture before creating a new layer of carb-y origami. Cas periodically looks up, and Dean's eyes dart up to meet his and then shamefacedly return to watching the chef's hands at work. The rhythm is steady and hypnotic. Cas assigns Gabriel to sauté the mushrooms and shallots while the beef Dean and Sam had brought sears in a pan. Gabriel pouts and proclaims he's not a sous chef, until Cas mentions that there will Madeira added to the pan. Somehow Cas doesn't expect the rest of the bottle will last long. Eventually, Dean watches the beef be placed onto the pastry sheets, covered with prosciutto and the mushroom mixture, and then get sealed into its delicate wrapping.
While the food roasts, Sam attempts to amuse with a game of keep-away with Gabriel and the bottle of Madeira, which ends up backfiring when Gabriel declares he'll obviously just have to open a new bottle of wine.
The smells of roasting meat begin to fill the apartment. He leans over to pull out the beef Wellington and the roasted potatoes, presenting Dean with a view of his backside that draws a sigh. Sam and Gabriel are again looking pointedly at Dean, then at Cas's tush, then at Dean. Dean had thought it was supposed to be the older siblings ganging against the younger, but it seems Sam has found an additional older brother with whom to wreak havoc. While the meat rests, Cas sautés spinach with garlic and olive oil and asks the three to set the table. Gabriel, of course, opens a third bottle of wine since he and Sam have mysteriously managed to make Madeira disappear and gotten a start on the other. Dean helps himself to another beer, thinking he's definitely going to need it before the night is over.
Cas places a slice of the Wellington onto a plate and sets it front of Dean at the counter for a taste test. Dean carefully slices off a small chunk and places it in his mouth. The earthiness of the mushrooms, a slight bit of saltiness from the prosciutto, a slight acidic tang of wine, and the tender richness of the meat combine to make Dean emit those embarrassing whimpers again.
"Acceptable? Manly enough? May I serve the rest of us now?" Dean nods with a face of reverence and then notices that there appears to be letters on top of the pastry-encased meat still on the cutting board. Letters that seems to say "U C K Y O U". He looks again at the plate in front of him and notices a shape on top of his slice. Cas raises his eyebrows and gives Dean another carefully bland challenging look as he slices. Sam and Gabriel lean over to determine what exactly about the pastry caught Dean's eye and burst into laughter as they spy the not-so-subtle message. Dean's face folds into a soft half-smile, and he looks up, slightly sheepishly, to say, "Yeah, I uh. I was kinda an asshole yesterday, huh?" The following mumble of "" was apparently comprehensible enough that Cas's face also softens into something approaching fond. The eye lock was broken only by Sam and Gabriel loudly coughing and looking pointedly at the serving dishes. The roast potatoes and spinach join the beef on plates, and Cas, Sam, and Gabriel join Dean at the table.
Dinner passes in a much less tense manner. Dean catches himself again relaxing into a sprawl of limbs, telling stories about Sam that are meant to embarrass him but only spur Sam and Gabriel to top it with ever more lurid and outrageous tales of Cas's and Dean's childhoods. As the bottles of wine empty, Cas also gets progressively more loose, mouth spreading in a gummy smile and occasionally bursting into something that can only be called giggles.
At some point, all four are drunkenly playing MarioKart, with the three having teamed up on Dean to ensure that he is Princess Peach. "Whatever, I'm sure I'd look kickass in a skirt." After Gabriel kicks their ass yet again, he notices the time. "There's a midnight showing of the Ocean's 11 movies in town. Would you like to go?" Sam answers in a stilted voice that makes it obvious this had been pre-planned, "Why, of course, Gabriel. That would be fun." Dean looks a bit surprised and suspicious but stands up to grab his jacket, obviously going with them. Cas looks away, having shaken his head no at his brother, and begins to clear the table. He listens as the door shuts, unbelieving such a tall man who seems to knock into everything in a 5 mile radius could have made it out the door that quietly and swiftly without knocking his head or arms.
"So, were you serious about what you said?" Cas does this strange stiff one-legged hop of surprise, the crystal wineglasses he had been carefully carrying clink loudly into the sink, and Cas winces at the sound. (It's not like bakers are exactly rich, you know.) "Fuck you, huh?" Cas's eyes widen. "I hope you know I really am sorry about what I said." Cas nods and says, "I wasn't exactly polite either." Dean edges a step or two closer. There's a faint, shy look of hope in his eyes. Now is the time to make the evening go the way yesterday should have. "So now that we've both apologized… You know, you don't have to go running in the morning to work off all the pastry. There are… other forms of exercise." Dean carefully steps over to the slight man, steadily pushing him back towards the sink. Cas stops backing away before he's hit the counter, straightening up and narrowing his eyes in thought at the man in front of him. Dean worries he's managed to overstep again, more seriously than a tossed-off argument, until Cas surges forward and they become joined at the lips.
"I can make quiche for breakfast." "How about pie? What, it's got fruit, and fruit's good for you." "There's a quiche in the freezer, and I'd rather fuck you into the mattress again than have to take time slicing fruit and making a pie."
Quiche it is for breakfast, and maybe there will be some slow-cooked pulled pork for lunch. Pork does take a while to cook. Who knows how they could pass the time as they wait? Sometimes sweet things are manly, and sometimes the sweetest thing is a man.