The Mirror Is a Window

A/N: So, I wanted to write an AU with these characters and started one (Swords of Heaven and Hell). I decided I didn't like the form I was experimenting with and the story was starting to bore me… so, here is my next attempt. Let me say that I have it mostly written, so updates will happen every week (sometimes, more frequently). I really like this story, the way it was written (Cas' POV). I like the characters and liked writing them. I hope you do, too. Reviews are sweet pie to me and will encourage me to get this transcribed from my notebook to the computer that much faster.

Summary: Growing up in Suburbia, Castiel Collins is coming home to tell his best friend some things he discovered while away in University. What he finds out when he gets there may change his relationship. But, will his friendship change for the better... or for the worse? Rated M for M/M Slash, Language, Sexual themes and Situations.

Chapter One: Homecoming

The houses that lined the street seemed so provincial compared to the towering buildings that populated the University town he had called home since August. It had only been a few months since leaving for college, but he already felt so different. He knew he could have spent the majority of the two week break in the city. But, his room-mate was already starting to make him consider off-Campus housing despite how much more money it was likely to cost.

His little red pick-up rattled a merry beat as he turned onto his street. This would be the first time home for more than a day in almost six months. He had backpacked for a month through Europe after graduation. His Aunt Kat and Uncle Henry paid for him to go. She had said that if he put it off, he'd never go… Adult responsibilities and obligations would take precedence and he would regret not taking her up on the offer. He wished his best friend, Dean, had been willing and able to go. But, he was grateful for the time alone to discover that he was able to rely on himself, to trust himself. He put those thoughts out of his mind as he approached the cul-de-sac at the end of which sat a festively decorated two-story symbol of suburbia.

He pulled into the driveway lined with low evergreen shrubs and grey gravel rock bedding. He hadn't even shut off the ignition when a dark-haired woman in her early fifties came rushing out of the green painted, wreath bedecked door. Castiel rolled his eyes when he heard his mother's shrill cries through the glass window.

"My angel is home!" She exclaimed with bright glistening brown eyes.

"Hey, Mom." Cas murmured as he was leaving the cab of his truck only to find himself wrapped in the strangle hold embrace of his now openly weeping mother.

He tried to decipher the gasping sentiments his mother was spouting into his shoulder and neck. He couldn't even determine if she was speaking English. He wrapped his arms around her resigning himself to the idea that she wasn't letting him go anytime soon. He bent his face to bury his nose in her hair and allowed his eyes to close. Home. She smelled like Home.

After several long moments, Ana pulled away from him, wiping tears from her eyes. Cas reached his hand to caress her face with soft touches. He smiled at his mother with all the love he felt in him for her.

"Are you hungry, Angel?" Ana brightened, breaking the moment. She began dragging her son towards the door without waiting a reply.

"Mom! My stuff!" Cas waved at his truck.

"Pfft!" Ana dismissed. "Get it later. Come inside and eat something."

Cas exhaled a sigh and did as his mother bid him do.

"Oh, Little Owl!" A high-pitched squeal met his ears as soon as he passed the threshold. He was tackled by another woman, taller than his mother with hot pink strands woven into her wild black hair. He pulled away from the wiry woman to see artificially green eyes boring into him.

"Oh, look at you, Nephew! What did they put in the city's water? You must have grown a foot!"

"I haven't grown an inch," Cas responded with a smile.

Kat grabbed his bicep. "Oh, my GOD! What is this?" She squealed with wide eyes.

"You're embarrassing him, Katia. Let him be," Ana interjected as she tried to guide her son into the kitchen.

"No more than crying all over him in the driveway, Anastasia!" Kat argued.

Ana ignored her sister as Kat continued to pinch and inspect her nephew.

"I can't believe what you've done to my skinny wisp of a nephew." She exclaimed.

Cas shrugged. "I have to take a bunch of 'Kinesiology' units for general requirements. I took 'Martial Arts' and Weight Training'." Cas explained.

Ana's eyes narrowed. "I thought you were supposed to take 'Math' and 'Statistics'."

Cas nodded as he accepted the plate laden with a sandwich and chips and a glass of milk from his mother.

"I did that, too." He took a drink. "But, there are all these classes you have to take to help you be a 'life-long learner'… a 'well-rounded individual'… stuff like 'Theater' and PE."

Kat's eyes grew wider. "Theater?"

Cas smirked as he saw his mother roll her eyes at her sister and turn her back on them.

"I met your uncle in the theater!" Kat's eyes took on an unfocused, faraway glaze. "Oh, Henry was playing in one of the adaptations of 'Midsummer Night's Dream'. They called it 'Summer Nights'. Oh, Henry played the Ass." A sly grin spread across Kat's features.

Cas couldn't help himself but mirror the expression. He had heard so many versions of how 'Oh,Henry' and his Aunt Kat met, he was never sure which was the truth.

"I thought you stalked him until he said he would take you out." Cas said, taking a bite of the sandwich.

Kat waved her hand dismissively. "That was later," she revealed.

They continued to catch up on the classes Cas was taking, friends he had made, and complaints about his room-mate. Kat shared pictures from a recent trip to Guadalajara with Oh, Henry. She included advice to Cas to never stray too far from the patrolled tourist areas. Apparently, Kat had been arrested miles west from the resort. Oh, Henry had spent a considerable amount of money and influence getting her released. Ana shot a stern disapproving stare at her free-spirited sister through the entire telling of it.

"Where's Oh, Henry, now?" Cas asked.

Kat blew out a breath and plopped her chin into her palm. "Australia." Kat whined.

Cas cocked his head. "Why didn't you go with him?"

Kat grinned. "Did I ever tell you I almost married a chief of one of the indigenous tribes from Western Australia?"

Cas chuckled shaking his head.

"Well," she began wistfully until his mother cleared her throat. Kat leaned in and whispered, "I'll tell ya later."

Several hours passed when Cas visited with his mother and Aunt, the former having retrieved giant net bags from the back of the truck and began doing Cas' laundry. Cas set himself at the bar in the kitchen watching the women prepare dinner, stealing bits of sliced vegetables before they went into the pans to cook. The outside garage door opened with a mechanical creak alerting them to his father's return from work.

"Well, it's been wonderful seeing you, Nephew!" Kat kissed his cheek and grimaced when her soft lips were scratched by the stubble of whiskers. She rubbed her hand over his jaw. "Shave before I kiss you again. You're growing up too fast."

She turned to leave. "You're not staying for dinner?"

Kat looked at her sister's back as Ana leaned over the kitchen sink. "No… I think, not tonight. But, I'll see you soon. I love you, Little Owl."

Cas nodded and looked at his mother when he heard the front door close.

"What was that about?" He asked.

Ana shrugged and turned when the door to the garage door opened and her husband came into the kitchen. She kissed him and smiled as he looked over to see his son.

"Well, who is this strappin' lad in m' kitchen?" Charles asked with a tired grin.

"Hey, Dad." Cas greeted.

Charles reached forward to shake Cas' hand. His grip was firm and Charles patted Cas' shoulder with his other hand.

"It's good to see you, son. You've grown!"

Cas shook his head in disbelief and confusion as to his reception.

"It's only been a few months, Dad." He stated. Charles shrugged and told them he was going to go change from his business suit.

Cas was about to ask his mom about the unusual reception when she commanded him to set the table and wash up. Dinner went as if Cas was a visitor instead of only having been gone to school. The conversation was more adult than any he had with them prior to his leaving. He re-hashed topics already covered with his mom and Aunt Kat, but Charles' questions and comments slanted from a different perspective.

"Have you met many girls?" Charles asked as Ana cleared the dishes.

Cas nodded but his eyes became guarded and his body tensed. Ana slapped her husband on the back. "Will you leave that for another time?" She complained. Her voice carried back to them from the kitchen as she added, "As if I need any more proof that he's not a boy anymore!"

Charles leaned forward and whispered, "Don't forget to use protection, Lad."

Cas blushed and rushed to help his mom with dishes.

Later, he went to his room, leaving his parents to watch the news in the living room. Three warm piles of clean and folded clothes waited putting away on the end of his bed. His room was nearly identical to when he left for Europe at the beginning of summer. Poster-size prints of paintings by Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo adorned his wall, as well as blown up original photography, framed in black aluminum. Academic awards and newspaper clippings lauding his accomplishments were mounted and hung or sat on his empty desk. It made him remember how different life seemed since high school.

Thinking of high school made him look out his window, past the leafless oak tree and latch onto the window on the side of the Winchester's home next door. He stared at the blue window covering drawn tight against the yellow glow of the streetlight on the curb. He looked out the window to the driveway to see the yellow and red flat-bed tow truck parked next to the silver Chevy pick-up truck. He frowned when he didn't see the black Impala that was a staple of 'Home' for years growing up.

John used to take them all to baseball games on the weekends. They would all pile into the Impala—Charles, John, Sam, Dean and Cas. Later, when John gave Dean the car for his seventeenth birthday, Dean would drive them to school. When Kate and her son moved in, Adam joined the group. But, Cas couldn't think of a single memory—good or bad—that didn't include Dean or the Impala. In fact, when he would see an Impala in the city, no matter that they were always the newer models, he would immediately think of Dean.

Cas remained staring out the window for a long time wondering and reminiscing before he yawned. It had been a long day. He was up before the sun to pack up the truck and go for a run. Then, 'Martial Arts' final, breakfast, 'Introduction to Physics' and 'Comparative Tragedies in Theater' before driving two hours from the city for home. The almost non-stop itinerary was finally catching up to him. He lay on his bed staring up at the glow-in-the-dark constellations painted on his ceiling. Before he knew it, he was drawn into a deep sleep.

The sounds outside his window—car doors opening with metallic creaks then slamming as well as the hushed voices that still carried beyond the intended listener—woke him as the early morning sunlight brightened against his windowsill. He used to crawl outside that window to sit on the roof of the patio-cover listening and watching families of birds nesting and gossiping in that tree for hours. Sometimes, in the past, Dean and he would sit and share secrets, drinking beer stolen from John's garage refrigerator, and make plans for the future.

Castiel rose from his bed to see John peck a kiss to Kate's cheek. She handed him a lunch pail and watched Adam climb in the passenger seat. Cas looked around, but the Impala was still nowhere to be seen. There was no way Dean would have gotten rid of it… her. There was just no way.

Abandoning the idea of more sleep, he rose and donned a track suit. He had developed a routine of rising for an early morning run and performing a kata before his class. He enjoyed the different forms of 'Martial Arts' he was taught, the history and culture of each, as well as the routine of starting his day with the disciplined movement of his body. He liked it so much that he took the next section of the class at the same time slot. When his aunt had commented about his muscles, that definition came, in part, from 'Weight Training'. But, it came mostly from the mixed martial arts he practiced every day for five months.

He walked out his door and began running. He never jogged in high school. But, he found he enjoyed starting his day with the time spent plugged in to his mp3 player. The exertion on his body gave him the distraction from the mundane to focus on things that required more serious reflection. He was always a little introspective anyway.

He slowed down when he got to the shopping center about a half an hour later—sweat drenched his hair and clothing. He pulled the ear buds out and entered the grocery store. He paid for a sports drink from the cold case at the end of the aisle and went to lean against the wall outside. He heard a familiar rumble and his eyes trained on its source. At the light, stopped to wait for cross-traffic, was a familiar black car. He could just make out the tanned arm of Dean Winchester propped on the open window, elbow resting outside. Cas soaked in the sight.

He watched Dean lean in to adjust… probably the music… and he saw a tall form in the passenger seat. He didn't recognize who was with him and his eyes went right back to Dean. The light turned green and Cas felt his heart lurch with the Impala as she rumbled away down the street. He had learned over the past few months. He learned a lot about the subjects in his major, a lot about things in which he didn't know he'd find an interest, and a whole lot about himself. He just didn't know if the things he discovered were things he could tell his best friend.