"Slaughterman, I know the urge to show off is positively irresistible, but you're mangling the trotters. How the bloody hell am I supposed to turn a profit when you're destroying the wares, you Cro-Magnon?"

With a growl of frustration and rage, Dean Winchester embedded the carving knife into the battle-worn oak cutting board with a solid THWOK. Rogue flecks of gore scattered from the impact and (much to his silent joy) dispersed themselves across the fine suit of the man who had snapped him out of his reverie.

"Its called a hock, you son of a bitch., and last I checked, I didn't get paid to put up with you on a personal level. So either blow me or piss off, Crowley."

Flicking the stay bits of pork off his silk tie with distaste, Crowley turned his scowl to his employee, "You seem to have me confused with your socially inept stalker. He's the one after your tiny welt, not me. So I suggest you get back to work before I stop paying you altogether, Winchester." Crowley couldn't fight the sly grin that spread across his face at Dean's flush (from rage or embarrassment, yet to be determined) before turning his attention to one of the regulars of the store. "You know, an order on the house wouldn't hurt my business, darling. We could work it out over a nip tonight? Say, 8 o'clock?"

Dean snorted in amusement as the woman paid Sam at the next counter without so much as a glance in his boss's direction before briskly strutting back out to the autumn streets of Cold Oak. Crowley was infamous for using clever schemes to get business from wherever he needed it, and his slick words and accent to land him in whoever's bed he fancied. Seeing him getting rebuked week after week had become one of the few things that helped Dean get through his otherwise dull life.

Well, that and a certain new customer.


3 weeks earlier

The only reason Dean even agreed to close for Sammy was for his brother's own good.

It was a Friday, and every Friday evening, without fail, the local prosecuting attorney, a certain Luce Frehr, would strut into the polished butcher shop and proceed to coax Sam Winchester into joining him for drinks at a bar down the street. Not that Sammy had ever said yes (yet), but Dean would be damned if he'd give that slimy bastard another opportunity to dig at his little brother. The Winchesters' whole reasons for leaving Lawrence, Kansas and relocating to this speck on the map was because of Sam's past indiscretions (mainly substance abuse issues and a certain harpy named Ruby), so there was no harm in keeping Sam at an arm's length from any situation that could go south.

So it had been Dean who had insisted on closing shop for Sam that particular evening as soon as Gabriel had stuck his head in at lunch time, demanding that Sam join him on an out of town run for baking supplies. Gabe may have annoyed Dean into a new level of dislike, but at least the short man hadn't earned the nickname 'Lucifer', so yes, by all means he could sashay off into the sunset with the younger, mammoth Winchester.

Well, at least for tonight.

And he damn well better get him back by midnight.

Not that Sam was a Cinderella by any means, because really, he wasn't dainty enough, and he didn't have a wicked step-family! Hell, he had Dean fucking Winchester as a brother, how much more awesome could things get? And having Bobby around was a sweet deal as well. Sam didn't need some magical fucking pumpkin carriage or whatever and oh God, did that make Gabriel Prince Charming?

"Excuse me.."

Which not only put a halt to Dean's fairy tale nightmares, but also stopped his progress in wiping down the front windows for the night by startling him to the point of toppling off the precariously placed step-ladder (with a not-so-manly shriek).

"Son of a bitch!" Although he had saved himself from eating his shit entirely, Dean had still managed to stumble backwards to knock his head against some low hanging shelves. Rubbing the back of his skull, Dean turned his attention to the intrusion as a low, gravely voice reached his ears for a second time.

"Forgive me, I did not intend to startle you."

Shockingly blue eyes raked down Dean's figure with a head slightly cocked to the side, as if trying to determine how Dean had ended up in such a condition. Or perhaps how he ended up in the store at all. The guy didn't look like much of a meat eater; he was a bit on the pale side, sporting a beige trench coat that clung to his shoulders like a sheet, giving off the image of a boy wearing his father's clothes.

Dean had yet to really deal with a customer he didn't know, with Cold Oak being such a small town and all, which did not help to his unexplainable urge to just stare the strange man down. Even less helpful was the man's apparent lack of respect for personal space, making it impossible to escape his wide, innocent eyes.

"I was merely hoping to inquire about purchasing some burgers."


"Castiel isn't a stalker, Crowley. He's a customer, and a good one, at that." Sam's infamous bitch-face leaked into his voice as he reprimanded their now grouchy boss.

"He can be Jesus bloody Christ for all I care, Moose. Start locking things up before I give your bosom-buddy Luce a call and tell him you're about to become free for the evening." Crowley stomped off to his back office without so much as a parting glance to the Winchesters, probably in a hurry to crack open some Craig while the afternoon was young.

"Hell yes! I love it when he gets pissy about not getting any!" Dean practically danced to the window to flip the business sign to 'closed'. "An hour off early, Sammy! The world is our oyster! Let's get out of here!"

Sam fought to keep his scowl in place as Dean tossed his soiled apron at his head, but even then a slight smile brought through. Dean's good moods were infectious, and now they were becoming predictable. They were closing up shop for Wednesday, after all.

And Castiel Novak always showed up on Thursday.