The second time Cas quits, there are a lot less dramatics. He gives his letter of resignation to Michael who raises an eyebrow thoughtfully before nodding. Makia, Becky, Chuck, and Uriel take him out that evening to celebrate, even though Cas is quick to tell them he isn't officially done until two weeks' time. His opinion is summarily ignored in favor of drink.
The Road House is busy, filled with a rowdiness that Cas is embarrassed to note comes mostly from his party. But Ellen just looks over at them with an exasperated fondness from behind the counter, that or she's just glad they're buying so many drinks. Jess comes by after a time, drinking in the festivities but opting out of actually drinking ("Early classes," she shrugged, seeming none too upset with simply watching everyone lose their fine motor skills). Dean wasn't on shift. Cas didn't know how to feel about that. Dean didn't show up. Cas knows how he feels about that.
He may or may not have said anything regrettable under the influence of a few too many drinks, but next thing he knows, he's fuzzy headed and on the couch in his living room. The analogue clock shows just enough in the dim light for Cas to read that it's five in the morning. Certainly too early to be up, after staying up as late as they did. Cas gives a thought to Makia and hopes she's doing well, already two hours into her shift, unless he's mistaken.
Glancing around to get his bearings, Cas notices a note stuck to his front door. Clean, embellished handwriting informs him that Jess was the designated driver of the evening, that she has a very hilarious video of himself and Uriel singing a duet (he has no recollection of this and hopes it to be a joke), and that there's tylonal and water on the table.
Cas looks to the side table and indeed there it is, a glass of water and two little white tablets. Cas thinks if he weren't so enamored with Dean and gay, he'd have fallen a little bit in love with Jess at that moment.
Cas takes the pills and washes them down with water, ending up with more water on his front that in his mouth. Unable to muster a sound that would fully capture just how the world has turned on him, Cas removes his shirt and throws it away from himself. It hits his desktop computer and the harsh light of it coming out of hibernation cuts through the low levels of the room.
Though he doesn't want to, Cas is drawn to the monitor like a moth to flame and before he knows it he's typing real estate agents into the search bar. A flashy ad catches his attention and Cas is sending off a poorly spelled message to an agent about wanting to sell his house. There's a moment of hesitation when his hand hovers over the mouse, waiting for the final click, where he wonders if making decisions of this magnitude would be better done sober. As if defying the glimpse of higher function, Cas' finger becomes too heavy to bear and the message is swimming through cyber-space. Before Cas collapses on his bed, still half dressed, he wonders vaguely if he'll remember this in the morning.
He doesn't remember it in the morning.
At nine his phone rings, waking him from a dead sleep quite efficiently, "Hello?"
"Mr. Novak I presume," a female voice speaks into his ear, "my assistant Meg will be arriving at your house at ten thirty to go over the basics with you, but as for selling your house, consider it done."
"Wha-?" Cas answers eloquently, but he's already speaking to the dial tone.
The call to work he makes to come in late is awkward, because he's not exactly sure why he's missing half a day, but he'd rather find out what's going on. When the knock on the door comes, Cas' already picked up his mess from the previous night and is dressed casually and putting on the kettle for tea.
The woman at the door is brown haired, brown eyed, and smirking like she just knows that Cas has no idea why she's there.
"So love-bug," she drawls, stepping into the house without an invite, "let's get this show on the road." She walks around the house, assessing, and Cas follows her dumbly, "not really any personality here, is there? That makes my job easier."
"I'm thinking, open house next weekend? We've already got it up on our site and the little fishes are nipping, this is prime property; we'll be signing over the keys by the open house, I'm sure." She pulls out a card, manila, embossed with red. The name Abaddon flashes in the light, "you can meet with Abby either this afternoon or tomorrow to let us know what kind of place you want to buy. Then it's just a few signatures on the dotted and we're done." She looks at Cas, who's still staring dumbly at the card in his hand, "Okay there, Fuzzy head?"
Cas blinks at her, "I'm selling my house." It comes out more questioning than he meant it to.
"Sure are, Bumble-bee," she gives a smile that's not sweet in the least, "name's Meg. Might want to get packing, Abaddon's Agency is known for closing deals quick."
And with that she waltzes out of the house with the same assured manner she entered it.
Dean's sure Jo thought it hilarious, still does, from the way he can hear her giggle over his curses. Sarah seems to be at least a bit more tactful, smothering her laughter as she gets him a towel. The bar had just finished hosting a bachelorette party, and apparently the end finale was pouring a bucket of frigid water onto Dean.
Dean's partly okay with this—he knows he's pretty hot, especially now that all his cuts and bruises are healed up from the crash, and with his white tee plastered to his chest, nipples hard from the cold, he can only imagine what he looks like (good, if the shrieking joy of the party was anything to go by), but Jo hadn't told him, so everything, including his phone was in his pocket.
His phone which currently isn't turning on.
"Hey man," Jo says, her smile still strong, "I'm sorry, but you have to admit that was good."
Dean rolled his eyes; he didn't have to admit anything of the sort. Sarah hands him a towel which he first uses to mop up the extra water on his face then dry his phone.
"Not working?" Sarah asks, eyeing the device.
Jo looks and spots the phone, "oh shit, sorry Dean, I didn't mean to—"
"Yeah, I know," Dean grumbles, forestalling any kind of extended apology.
"You should put it in a container of rice," Sarah says, "happened to my phone once. Left it in the rice and after three weeks it was working good as new."
"That really works?" Jo asks wide eyed. Sarah nods. "Huh, wow. I think we have some in the back, lemme go check…"
Jo returns with some rice in a plastic container not long after and the trio submerges the phone in the white grains and set it on the counter. Dean looks forlornly at the box and tries to ignore the discomfort of the water slowly seeping into the hemline of his jeans.
"Gonna miss a hot call?" Jo side eyes him. Dean's scoff comes out fake to his own ears.
"No, remember, he's the one playing scorned lover in this scenario." Sarah chimes in. Dean doesn't know how the two of them learned the full story of his currently complicated yet non-existent love life, but they know. He blames Sam. Maybe Jess told them, or Makia (the women are all the best of pals, doing a class on something or other together once a week), but he still blames Sam.
"Ah, right." Jo nods sagely, "still keeping Cas waiting."
"'s not like that." Dean wishes his defense didn't sound like something out of a pre-teen's mouth.
"Mh-hm," Sarah sounds. Jo keeps to an incredulous look.
"Yeah, okay, I haven't—I mean, I just—"
Jo and Sarah exchange a look around him before Jo breaks his babbling, "okay, let me save you from yourself. You're hurt he didn't tell you that you were being threatened and that he broke up with you. Now he wants to get back together after giving a really moving story about why he broke up with you in the first place and now you're wallowing even though everything you want is waiting for you to say yes."
Sarah gives a laugh, "it's okay honey, it always seems so much more dramatic when it's happening to you."
"And hey," Jo smiles, "if you manage to screw it up by waiting too long and having him move on, the first round is on me."
Dean makes a pathetic sound, "thanks for the encouragement, guys. Really know how to make things better."
"Glad to help," Sarah says and Jo gives him a solid thwack on the back.
Dean stares at the little box of rice. It's been a while since then. And Dean knows he should do something about Cas. But he doesn't have his number now. After he called Cas that one and only time he put Cas' number in his phone and lost the little piece of paper quite quickly after that (how he held onto it for so long without losing, but lost it the moment after he used it he has no idea).
Dean knows it's not an excuse. He knows where Cas lives, for god sake. But he'd feel weird just showing up out of the blue saying—what exactly? 'Sorry I was an unforgiving dick, I really want you back?', 'sorry you deserve someone better, obviously, so can we break it off peaceably so Sam and Jess stop giving me looks?'
Dean can't do it. Because he knows when he sees Cas he's going to do something stupid, like run up and kiss him or deck him for keeping something so big from him or something else equally crazy. That's why he needs to do it over the phone, so he's not distracted by blue eyes and pink lips and Cas.
So Dean isn't entirely sure why he ends up in front of Cas' house that day after his shift, standing on the stoop like an idiot. He knocks before he can think better of it, and the door is swinging open to reveal—not Cas.
"You're a bit early for the open house," the woman in the doorway says, hand on her hip.
Dean's thrown entirely off balance, "I—um—where's Cas?"
"Honey bee?" the woman's mouth turns in a smirk, "if the little bug didn't tell you where he's moving, that's not really my place, is it?"
"Meg!" a female voice comes from in the house, "where are—ah!" a taller woman appears in the doorway and Dean is struck by the feeling they're both viewing him like children do ants before they take scissors to them or hold a magnifying glass just the right way to burn 'em.
"To what do we owe the pleasure?" The woman is looking at Dean, but Dean gets the distinct feeling that he's not being talked to.
"Pretty boy here was wondering where our little soldier went off to." Meg, she must be Meg, answers, tilting her head towards the redhead, but not taking her eyes off Dean. Dean attempts to smother the need to shift in place.
"Ah. Pity that. Isn't he moving quite far away?"
"Mh," Meg grins toothily, "I believe so, Abby."
"He's already long gone at this point, had a nice young thing to help him move out." Abby says.
"Very sweet, wasn't it?" Meg chimes
"Yes it was," Abby nods, "perhaps we could pass on a message? Although do forgive him if he takes a while to respond, he's very busy."
Dean grits his teeth.
"Message?" Meg prompts.
"Don't bother." Dean turns on his heel and walks away.
On the bus ride home, Dean tries not to let what the strangers said get to him. So Cas moved. Dean bets he didn't move to Russia or something. The 'young thing' could have been Makia or one of Cas' other friends. And Dean's phone's out for another two weeks at least, so maybe Cas texted him or something and he just hasn't gotten it yet.
Or Cas texted him with an ultimatum. That he was leaving for good and if Dean wanted to make amends he better do it quick before Cas leaves. Dean tries not to panic at the thought. The very fact that it makes him panic is a slap to the face of how much he does not want to miss a chance to start again with Cas. God, why didn't he go earlier? What if—
Dean closes the door of the apartment behind him loudly to drown out his thoughts. But the silence quickly resettles. There's a note on the counter from Sam. He's at Jess' again, studying with some friends for a test. Seems the guy always has a test nowadays. Dean wishes his brother were here to distract him. Instead he has the silence of the apartment that chokes like his regrets.
"Zachariah's threatening to go public," Joshua announces to the gathered room; Cas, Michael, Victor, and Becky. After meeting with his lawyer, Zachariah seemed to think a strong offence is the best defense, "He thinks if he threatens the hospital's reputation, we'll cut him a deal."
"Oooh!" Becky's face scrunches up, "this guy makes me so mad!"
"We've already had a press release on why he's being charged and with what," Michael scowls, "what does he think he'll gain?"
Victor is thoughtful, "there might be more people in on his game and he wants to destroy the hospital from the inside out, or he might want to release all he's done to attempt to get donors to stop giving, if the learn exactly how he misappropriated their money."
"I don't think he's working with anyone else…" Cas thinks back over the time of his internal investigation and before. Zachariah managed in such a manner that he micro-managed. Cas doubts he'd let anyone else in for fear of them messing up.
Michael tilts his head in deference of Cas' personal experience with the man before saying, "If he does the second, he'll just be strengthening the case against himself."
"I wouldn't put it past the man to do something dangerous." Victor rubs his chin, "he's currently still confident that he'll get out of this scotch-free. Once reality sets in, he might try to do something desperate. But until that or the trial, there's nothing we can really do."
Michael nods before turning to Joshua, "have Rachael put out another press release, I want to cover all our bases in case he tries something in that direction." Joshua nods and leaves the room.
Becky and Cas find themselves in the hall as Victor and Michael talk about a few more things pertaining to the case.
"So, I hear you're moving?" Becky asks, calm as can be as they make their way back to their offices.
Cas doesn't bother to wonder how she knows, her and Makia seem to always know everything, "yes, I found a place I like, I'm finishing the paperwork this weekend. My house has three different bids on it and Abby, the real estate agent, is trying to drive up the price even more…" the woman herself had been softer looking than Cas had pictured after the phone call early in the morning last week, but she was just as sure footed as Meg, and the two of them were a deadly combination, closing sales and striking deals faster than Cas had previously thought possible, especially in this housing market.
"Oh that's wonderful!" Becky smiles, "of course we'll all have to come and visit once it's set up, and I can get Chuck's truck for you so you don't have to worry about a moving truck, and I'll send out the invites for a house warming—"
"I don't think I'll be having a house warming, though I do appreciate the offer for the truck."
Becky comes to a halt in the middle on the hall; "what?"
Cas tries not to show how taken aback he is, "it's more of a little apartment. It's above a café…"
"Oh my God." Becky's eyes go wide.
"Oh my God."
"You bought a little café!" Becky jumps up and down, "that's so cute! I'm going to visit every day and you're going to be covered in flour and it'll bring out your eyes and—and everyone who walks in is going to fall in love with you and Dean's going to have to fight off the masses!" she almost squeals.
"Oh!" she slaps a hand over her mouth, "right sorry, I just forgot that he hasn't, you know…"
Cas sighs and resumes their walking. Dean had texted him before, but he hasn't at all in the last say, week and a half. Cas'd texted Dean, kept him up to date on the trial, told him he's moving but… nothing. Cas wonders if that's it. If the last communication he's going to get from Dean is a text telling him that Dean's car isn't totally shot and that Sam aced another test like Dean knew he would. That's it, shows over, time to move on. But Cas can't seem to stop holding out hope. Dean hasn't said 'stop' or 'no' yet. But maybe he figured Cas would get the hint…
"He's just not good enough for you then, Cas, if he's not willing to jump over hot lava to get to you." Becky nods definitely, shaking Cas out of his thoughts.
He gives her a small smile, "thanks, Becky."
Dean won't tell Sam what's wrong, but his scowls and surly attitude make it quite clear that something is. Sam sighs.
"Yeah babe?" Jess asks, making a note in the margin of her book.
"Dean's in such a mood. And I wanna take the time to really get him to talk about it, you know?" Sam sees Jess nod and continues, "But that always takes so long and I really need to focus on getting ready for this interview."
Jess turns fully to him at that, giving him a peck on the lips, "Sam, you're going to do awesome at that interview, what could the grad program not love?" Sam makes a noncommittal noise, and Jess is having none of that, "No, really, you did awesome on the LSAT, you'll get that full ride no problem. Have you told Dean about it yet?"
Sam shakes his head, "I don't want to until I'm sure, you know? Don't want to get his hopes up for nothing."
Jess rolls her eyes.
"and—and I want to do something special for telling him. He's spent so much of his life looking out for me, you know? I want to really show that I know how much he's sacrificed and to be able to tell him he can stop; that he can live for himself, you know?"
Jess smiles, "I know. And I might have an idea on how to make the reveal great."
"Oh yeah?" Sam smiles back, giving Jess a kiss.
Jess laughs into it, "yeah"
At least Cas can comfort himself with the knowledge that the raised pay Zachariah gave him when he was forced to return to the hospital is being used to counter ever wish Zachariah had for Cas. Safety and health inspections, replacing counter tops, decorating, food, advertising, taxes, electric and water bills—all of it cost more than Cas could have imagined. But with the increase in his final pay checks, he was able to pay for the necessities without going so far into debt to be worried.
And now, finally, at long last, 'Coffee Shop' was ready to open. Cas had already gotten some flak for the name; it was unimaginative and boring, but Cas thought it was straight forward and suited him just fine. And he was able to make that decision without answering to anyone, even if Makia had tried to make him change his mind every day until the sign was up ("'Angel's' or maybe 'Castiel's Cakes and Coffees' or—or just 'Cas' Café' anything but plain old 'Coffee Shop', please")
Cas is so nervous he's nauseous. His shop is finally ready to open, and Jess—well, after today he's either going to hate Jess or love her. When she and Sam came to Cas with her idea… well, it was nice to know that Dean had temporarily broken his phone, not just decided to ignore him. But having Sam bring Dean to the shop to tell him his good news—to have Cas there for this family moment when he's not even sure if Dean's forgiven him… he thinks it's reasonable to be so nervous.
Despite how he tries, some of those nerves also lend themselves to excitement. This will be his first time seeing Dean in too long. He can't say he doesn't want to, even though something like dread is making a home in the pit of his stomach.
On the bright side, there is more to worry about than just Dean. Dean can't take over all his thoughts when so many other things could go wrong today. It's his Grand Opening! and that leaves room for oh-so-many problems. Makia, Chuck, Becky, Uriel, Joshua, Victor, and even Michael had said they'd visit (Michael not so much, but Joshua had said he'd get the older Novak to come. Cas still wasn't sure if he was elated or terrified by the prospect). Some of them had already seen the shop, but now it would be different and Cas really didn't want to screw it up. Besides, this would be their first time trying his food. It's all very nerve wracking.
Cas readjusts his apron for what has to be the fifteenth time at least. He checks the cases again, makes sure he has enough stock in the back, that nothing's in the ovens (he had a dream about that last night and had to rush down at 2am, even knowing that there was no way for the oven to be on or anything in it). The counters and tables are clean, the menu board and card signs are all written and clear. He has an assortment of teas and both de-calf and regular coffees were ready to be served. The express/cappuccino/Americano maker sits shiny and pristine on the counter, but off. It wouldn't do to destroy the machine on his first day. Besides that though, he had to admit it; he was ready, even if he wasn't close to being ready mentally.
"Come on Dean!" Sam calls from the door, trying to curb what has to be obvious excitement from the way Jess is looking at him. He'd done it. He'd gotten the full ride. He'd be going into Stanford's graduate program for law with a full ride. Jess smiles and gives him a kiss, the both of them so fantastically happy.
"Aw god, you didn't need to call me over to watch you making out." Dean complains loudly as he rounds the corner.
Sam smiles and pulls away, "well, if we didn't have to waste time waiting for you…"
"Yeah, yeah," Dean waves a hand dismissively, "where are we going again?"
"A new coffee shop just opened on west central, we want to check it out," Jess answers, leading the way to her car.
"What's it called?"
Sam and Jess nod.
Dean gives a short laugh, "well, whoever owns it won't be sued for false advertising."
Jess gave a stilted laugh, "haha, yeah."
The drive over to the shop is short, finding parking is not. There are tons of cars and people all along the area, all but obscuring the humble shop window and sign displaying the name Coffee Shop in artful letters. Dean had kinda thought they were kidding about the name.
"Wow, popular place," Dean remarks, looking around.
"Today's the grand opening," Jess says, spotting a family getting into their van, "A-ha!"
"Shouldn't we have waited for a slower day?" Dean asks as they slide into the space.
"Whoa, okay, forget I said anything."
When the trio gets closer to the café, the crowds start to thin out, boxes of pastries and to-go cups in their hands. It's a gorgeous day, and most patrons seem to be taking their purchases to the park just down the road. Talk about prime location.
When they enter the shop, it's still comfortably full, only a few tables open. Calm music is playing as the back drop to the rumble of conversation. The shop itself looks nice, going for a homier feel than the shop Dean had worked at.
"Hey guys!" Jo bounces up to them, a thousand watt smile on her face.
"You're here!" Sarah says from the register, waving briefly around the customers she's ringing out.
"What are you two doing here?" Dean asks taking in Jo's half apron and notepad.
Jo rolls her eyes, "roped into helping out for the opening by Makia. 's not like one guy can do this all on his own."
Dean nods dumbly as Jo leads them to a table, leaving with a short 'be right back!'
"Wow this place turned out awesome," Jess gushes as she looks around.
Sam smiles and takes her hand in his, nodding in agreement.
"So, um, Dean," Sam clears his throat, "there's something I have to tell you." Jess squeezes his hand in encouragement.
Dean notices the movement, "oh god, tell me you're not pregnant, Samantha.I know Jess will be a wonderful father but you're too young! Think of your career."
Sam rolls his eyes, attempting to keep his face exasperated with a smile fighting through, "no you jerk, I… well…"
"Out with it, Sammy!"
"I did it, Dean, I got a full ride to Stanford's graduate program!"
Jess gives the excited little trill of happiness she does every time this comes up. And they both look at Dean with big smiles on their faces.
Dean's at a loss for a moment before his face settles on a beaming grin, "way to go, Sammy! Why the hell didn't you tell me this earlier! Damn, this is…this is great!" Dean doesn't notice his smile falter just the slightest bit. He's run most of his life off of what's best for Sam. And now Sam's done it all on his own, leaving Dean a bit at loose ends.
"No, no, I'm—I'm really fucking happy for you man, seriously this is great. Just," Dean gives a little laugh, "what the hell am I supposed to do with all the extra time not workin' to pay for your special piece of paper?"
A cup of coffee is set directly in front of Dean and as Dean turns to refuse("I didn't order—") the words die in his throat.
"Maybe you could use the time to go on a date with me?" Cas looks down at him, a light blush dusting his cheeks.
Cas is gorgeous. A smudge of flour on his cheek brings out the blue of his eyes, his hair is tousled like he's been running his hands through it all day. His apron is light green with Coffee Shop embroidered into it. And with that, everything clicks.
"You—" Dean cuts himself off, standing abruptly causing the chair to shift loudly even in the noisy room. Cas takes a shuffle step back, averting his eyes, suddenly exuding nervousness like he exuded confidence moments ago as if Dean might walk away and Dean's having none of that. Dean reaches out and grabs Cas' arm, pulling Cas flush against him in a hug, not caring where they are or who's watching, as long as he can have Cas like this again, in his arms. Where he's meant to be.
Cas tentatively returns the embrace, holding tight and burying his face in the crook of Deans shoulder. Cas smells like fresh baked things, like cinnamon and apples, vanilla and chocolate. Dean breaths it in.
Reluctantly, Cas pulls away, a bright flush coloring his cheeks, looking up at Dean through his eyelashes "I should…" he makes motion to the lines of people, some of which are still staring.
Dean give Cas one more squeeze before releasing him with a nod, "Sure. Yeah. Well, I'll help Sarah at the counter."
"What?" Cas fumbles for the word.
Dean raises an eyebrow, gives a little smirk, "unless you need help in the back?"
Cas' face is red, "no I just—I can't—you can't work."
Dean gives Cas a pat on the shoulder, "sure I can. I have experience. I can give you a list of recommendations if you really want. Besides, looks like you need someone to make some more coffee." He winks.
Cas gropes for words, but before he can find them, Sam interrupts.
"Better just let him, Cas,"
"He's pretty stubborn," Jess remarks with a wise nod of her head.
Jo scurries over with an apron and Dean is tying it behind his back before Cas can say another word, slipping behind the counter and going to wash his hands.
Cas, seeing the futility of refusing shakes his head at the group's antics, smiles none the less as he goes in the back to check on the pies.
Opening day goes much smoother than Cas could have ever imagined, he made a lot of sales, ran out of business cards, and got a lot of compliments that still make him duck his head if he thinks of them. Michael had even come by, and when he'd tried Cas' blueberry tart…well, he hadn't given a compliment, but he'd eaten the whole thing, which was about as close to a declaration of love as he was going to get. He's tired beyond all belief by the time the day is done, but satisfied as he finishes washing the pans and bowls he used during the day. It's not all over, he still has the trial to deal with, and from what Victor said (around a mouth full of raspberry white chocolate muffin) it will drag on and there's still Zachariah's mystery threat, but Cas can deal with that, can deal with all of it as long as his days in this shop are at least half as satisfying as today.
Finally done, Cas emerges from the kitchen. Cas had sent Jo and Sarah home after the store had closed, thanking them profusely, so the only one up front is Dean, who's wiping down the tables in leisurely swipes.
"You never answered my question." Cas calls, leaning against the counter, feeling that in his elation he can do anything.
Dean gives a questioning 'hmm' and makes his way closer.
"You never answered, would you like to go out with me?" Cas smiles, looking up as Dean gets close enough for their height different to matter.
Instead of saying anything, Dean's arms bracket Cas, keeping him between the counter and Dean's body. The last thing Cas sees is Dean's eyes sparkle before Cas is closing his and their lips are touching. It's soft and slow, still thrumming but sedate. Cas' arms wind around Dean's neck and Dean's hands go to Cas thighs before Cas is being lifted up, placed on the counter with Dean immediately crowding closer between Cas' legs.
Cas gives a huff of laughter against Dean's lips at the show of prowess, but doesn't stop the slow glide of lips against his own. Dragging and easy, Dean gives a little tug to Cas' lip with his teeth and Cas shivers, pulling Dean even closer against him. They break apart, but not far. Cas leans his forehead against Dean's so they keep breathing the same air, lips brushing in tantalizing lightness every few breaths.
"I take that as a yes?"
Dean scoffs, "smart-ass." He leans in giving Cas a quick kiss, "Cas, I'm never letting you go again."
"Yeah?" Cas asks, pulling back just enough to look Dean full in the eyes, green on blue.
Dean's hands tighten around Cas' waist and he nods solemnly before breaking into a grin, "yeah."