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Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Sob.
"So, Castiel," Dean said, dragging his sleeve across his face to wipe away the drying blood there, "How'd you like Kripke High?"
Castiel gazed down at the fire burning in the grave they'd just dug up, the flames throwing odd shadows across his features. To his left, Sam was nursing an ugly black eye while, to his right, Jo was dabbing at a split lip. The flames continued to lick away at the salted remains of Jenny Smith, leaving her vengeful spirit well and truly ganked.
The angel lifted his eyes to meet Dean's expectant gaze, "It's interesting. I think I might be joining the Mathletes," he told them, recalling how a boy in his Math class, by the name of Zachariah, had spent the day pestering him to join. Clearly not taking no for an answer, Castiel had subdued him with a promise that he would think about it.
The three hunters, however, looked scandalised at this little tidbit of information.
"No!" Sam and Jo cried at the same time, "No, no!"
"You cannot do that, that's like social suicide," Dean explained sharply, slinging his shotgun over his shoulder and making his way back to the Impala, "Damn, Cas, you are so lucky you have us to guide you."
"Oh, my God, it's Balthazar!" Sam squeaked, stumbling to a halt in his progress to the Impala. His green eyes were focused on the blond-haired boy Castiel recognised from the cafeteria the day before; he was walking past the gates to the cemetery, hand in hand with a girl who's blonde hair was swept up in a ponytail, "Ugh, and he's with Rachel."
"Yeah, I heard they're going out," Jo supplied and Sam sighed forlornly.
"Wait, Balthazar's not going out with Rachel. No. No. He would not blow you off like that," Dean scowled, glaring at Balthazar, "He is such a little skeeze," he held out a hand to his brother, "Gimme your phone, Sammy."
"You're not gonna call him... right?" Sam asked, uncertainly, as he handed his phone over.
"You think I'm an idiot?" Dean demanded, dialling and requesting that the operator put him through to Rachel's landline.
"Caller ID!" Sam hissed, eyes wide with panic.
"Not when you connect through information," Dean shot back, tipping his younger brother a smirk; "Oh, hey," Dean said, politely, when the voice of an older woman answered, "can I speak to Rachel please?"
"She's not home right now," the older woman's voice filtered through the phone and Castiel guessed that that must be Rachel's mother, "Who's calling?"
"Oh, this is Bob from Planned Parenthood. I have her test results," Dean said, grinning, "If you could just have her give me a call as soon as she can, it's urgent. Thank you," he closed the phone with a purposeful snap, "She's not going out with anyone."
Sam and Jo giggled, "OK, that was so fetch!" Sam chirped, throwing his brother an awed smile.
Castiel gave a weak, uncomfortable laugh as the three hunters carried on to the Impala, talking amongst themselves. He spared a glance over to where Balthazar and Rachel stood, the latter accepting a phone call from her frantic mother with a confused expression.
"Mom?" he heard her say and his heart twisted guiltily, "Mom, what's wrong?"
Leaving the cemetery, the four of them pulled up outside a saloon, clearly labelled as the Roadhouse. Entering the saloon, Jo spared a greeting to a boy, possibly only six or seven years old, who was flipping his mullet back and forth to the sound of Kelis' 'Milkshake' playing on the jukebox. Sam sidled up to Castiel, explaining in a whisper that the boy was Ash, Jo's younger brother.
"Hey, you kids," an older woman greeted them from where she stood, wiping down the bar.
"Ellen," Dean returned, nodding to her.
"Jo's Mom," Sam hissed in Castiel's ear and he bobbed his head to show he understood; the younger Winchester raised his voice to address Ellen, "This is Castiel."
"He's an angel," Jo interjected and Ellen raised her eyebrows, evidently impressed.
"An angel, huh?" Ellen said, "All right, well, if you need anything, kid, don't be afraid to ask. I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom. Right Jo?"
Jo put an embarrassed hand over her eyes, "Please stop talking."
After that, they retired to Jo's bedroom. Dean shrugged out of his leather jacket and lounged on one of the chairs while Jo fiddled with her stereo. Castiel's blue eyes fell on a noticeboard with photographs tacked up on it. There was one of Dean, his arms wrapped around Lisa Braeden. Castiel felt something clench at his heart as he took in their beaming faces. They looked... happy.
"Hey, put on 98.8," Dean called over to Jo and she complied.
Castiel glanced up as lyrics about a wayward son finding peace when he was done streamed from the stereo's speakers. Grinning, the three hunters bobbed their heads in time with the music until Dean caught Castiel's eye.
"Cas, do you even know who sings this?" he asked him, his lips curved up into a smile that one might adopt when addressing a small child.
Castiel's brow furrowed thoughtfully - his knowledge of popular culture was still painfully limited, "Um, N*SYNC?" he ventured, a hopeful smile ghosting on his lips.
Dean laughed, "I love him, he's like a Martian," he said to Sam and Jo. Castiel felt the corners of his mouth turn upwards, his cheeks warming at the declaration of love, however flippant.
In front of the mirror in Jo's room, Sam flexed his biceps, "Did you see me out there? I really need to work on my aim," he muttered, frowning.
"Forget that, I need to get in better shape," Jo exclaimed, twisting this way and that so as to see her aleady slender form from every angle in the mirror.
"At least you guys can do hand-to-hand. I really need to work on mine," Dean chipped in, stretching.
Castiel watched this perplexing scene, his head tilted to the side in confusion. Then, all of a sudden, he felt three expectant gazes levelling on him. He resisted the urge to step back under their intense scrutiny, unsure how to proceed. Did they wish him to pick out an aspect of himself that he found infuriating?
"Uh, I have really bad breath in the morning," he said, uncertainly.
"Ew," Sam said, wrinkling his nose.
"Right, you guys. Happy hour's from four to six," Ellen said suddenly, entering the bedroom accompanied by a tray laden with four brightly-coloured drinks.
Castiel accepted one with a polite 'thank you' before something occured to him, "Is there alcohol in this?" he asked slowly, pointing to the drink.
"Oh God, no," Ellen exclaimed in response, "What kinda mother do you think I am, kid?" she demanded before her voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, "Why? Do you want a little bit? Because if you're gonna drink, I'd rather you did it in the house."
"No," Castiel replied - a bit too sharply, he thought - so he tacked on a more cordial, "thank you."
"Well, I better get back downstairs," Ellen said, making to leave, "You kids have fun now."
As her footsteps faded, Sam let out a sudden cry of "Oh, my God! I remember this!" from where he stood, examining the few books in Jo's bookcase.
"I haven't looked at that in forever," Dean said, moving over to examine the volume Sam was sliding out of its place on the shelf.
"Check it out, Cas," Sam grinned, beckoning him over, "It's our Hunters' Journal. We've got all this info on monsters, but we also cut out people's pictures from the yearbook and then we wrote comments about them."
Sam flipped open the book, reading from it aloud, "Look, 'Lilith is a grotsky little byotch'."
"Still true," Dean interjected, grinning.
"'Becky Rosen is a fat virgin'," Sam continued.
"Still half-true," Dean smirked and his brother gave an amused laugh.
"'Meg, she made out with a hot dog'," Jo read, turning the page to reveal a photograph of Anna and Gabriel. Castiel's eyes widened when he saw the arrow drawn to Anna's picture, attached to a label.
"'Anna Milton - fallen angel'," Sam said, his brow furrowing as his gaze fell on her male companion, "Who's that?"
"I think that's that kid Gabriel," Jo chipped in.
"Yeah, he's almost too gay to function," Castiel said before he could stop himself.
Dean snorted, "That's funny. Put that in there."
Castiel bit his lip as Sam grabbed a pen and scribbled in his comment. The angel's heart beat wildly in his vessel's chest and his palms felt slick with perspiration.
Maybe that was only OK when Anna said it.
...What had he done?
"And they have this book," Castiel told Anna later that day, at the herbal lotion store where she worked, "This Hunters' Journal, where they write mean things about all the people in our grade."
"What does it say about me?" Anna demanded, one eyebrow raised.
Castiel paused, the label 'fallen angel' flashing across his eyes. He swallowed, deciding it would be politer to lie, "You're not in it."
Anna narrowed her eyes into a glare, "Those bitches."
"Will this minimise my pores?" Gabriel chirped, approaching Anna with a tub of lotion.
"No," she replied sharply and he backed up a pace with his hands raised, palms forward, "Cas, you've gotta steal that book."
"Come on, we could publish it and everyone could see what an axe-wound Dean really is!"
"I don't steal!"
"Ugh, that is for you feet," Anna snapped, snatching a bottle of cream from Gabriel, "Listen, Cas. There are two types of evil people in the world. People who do evil stuff, and people who see evil stuff and don't try to stop it."
Castiel's eyes found the store's counter. Her argument was compelling.
Gabriel leaned in to Anna, a look of horror in his eyes, "Does that mean I'm morally obligated to burn that guy's outfit?" he whispered loudly and Castiel's head whipped up in the direction of where the two were looking.
A man clad in a baseball cap, chequered flannel shirt, torn jeans and a padded waistcoat stood, looking through the items on one of the store's shelves. Castiel narrowed his eyes. The man seemed almost familiar.
"Oh, my God! That's Mr Singer!" Gabriel crowed suddenly, confirming Castiel's suspicions.
"I love seeing teachers outside of school," Anna breathed excitedly, "It's like seeing... a dog walk on its hind legs!"
Mr Singer glanced up and, seeing them, approached the trio with a nod and a, "I didn't know you worked here."
Anna shrugged, "Moderately-priced soaps are my calling."
"You shopping?" Gabriel asked him.
Mr Singer eyed him, "Nah, I'm just here with my girlfriend," he retorted, gesturing behind him to a frail, elderly woman who looked around ninety years old, her face creased with wrinkles. The three angels nodded, unsure how to respond.
"Joking, you idjits," Mr Singer explained, taking in their blank expressions, "Sometimes older people make jokes, too," he turned to Castiel, "Hey, kid, I really do hope you decide to join the Mathletes."
Castiel cleared his throat, "I think I will," he replied, smiling. Gabriel and Anna looked aghast at the very idea.
"You can't join Mathletes, that's social suicide!" Gabriel blurted out and Mr Singer glared at him.
"Thanks, idjit," Mr Singer scowled, his lips thinned into a grim line, "Well, this has been sufficiently awkward. I'll see you guys tomorrow," he said finally in his gruff voice.
As Mr Singer walked away, Anna returned her attention to Castiel, "So, when are you gonna see Dean again?"
Castiel sighed wearily, "I can't spy on him anymore. It's weird."
"Come on!" Anna said, drawing the words out into a whine, "He's never gonna find out. It'll be like our little secret."
"I know your secret," Dean said as soon as Castiel accepted a phone call from him that evening.
The angel froze, his stomach twisting. He was busted. What was he supposed to do now? Apologise and cry? He forced his heart beat to slow down to a normal pace, resolving to merely play it cool. He could do that.
"Secret?" he said, trying to keep his low, gravelly voice even, "What secret?"
"Sam told me you like Lisa Braeden. I mean, I don't care, do whatever you want. But, let me tell you something about Lisa," Dean said down the phone, "All she cares about is school and cheerleading and her friends."
Castiel swallowed, "Is that... bad?"
"I mean, whatever," Dean said dismissively, "If you like her, I could talk to her for you."
"Um," Castiel said, wetting his lips. He didn't want to date Lisa Braeden, but he could hardly tell Dean who he really liked.
"Thing is, though," Dean continued slowly and Castiel could hear the smile in his voice, "Sammy seems to think that you don't really like Lisa and that you've got a crush on someone else."
Castiel felt the world tilt sideways, "Oh?" he choked out.
"Yeah, he thinks you've got a crush on, well, me. What do you have to say about that, Cas?"
"I..." Castiel trailed off, unsure how to continue.
"Well, do you have some sort of crush on me?" Dean pressed.
Castiel sucked in a deep breath, "No, Dean," he found himself lying, "I don't."
"Oh," was all Dean said, but Castiel swore there was something in his tone that suggested he wasn't entirely convinced by his lie, "But, wait, aren't you so mad at Sam for telling me all this?"
"No-o," the angel replied uncertainly.
"Because if you are, you can tell me," Dean assured, "I mean, it was a really bitchy thing for him to do, after all."
Castiel shrugged, "Yeah, it was pretty... bitchy, but I guess he just likes the attention."
"See, Sam?" Dean said, suddenly, "I told you he's not mad at you."
"I can't believe you think I like attention!" Sam's voice cried down the phone, so shrilly that Castiel had to hold it away from his ear.
"OK, love ya, see ya tomorrow," Dean's grinning voice replaced Sam's and, with the click of the phone hanging up, both Winchester boys were gone.
Castiel stared down at the phone, perplexed. He did not like this device.
Reviews are loved! :3 I'll admit, I'm a little unsure about this chapter...