Castiel loves Thursdays. All in all, they're his favourite day of the week. A lot of good things happen on Thursday.
Thursday means the long run. Waking at five a.m. while the small town sleeps around him and running the five miles to the lake and the five miles back, all in time to shower and dart downstairs to open the shop promptly at eight.
Thursday means the deliveries from the suppliers. Thursday means he's almost gotten through the week.
Thursday means apple pie.
The air is heavy with the humidity of the early morning as Castiel begins his run at a slightly faster pace than normal. In his head, he is rolling dough, and peeling apples. The pavement is unyielding beneath his feet, and as he crests the small hill at the end of the first mile, Castiel finds himself ready to hit the trail that lies at the end of his third mile.
Thursday means solitude. Once Castiel's feet hit the dew-moistened earth of the lake trail, the sun is just beginning to lighten the skies into dark purple and pink pastels. Castiel takes note to dye an icing those colours for his cousin Uriel's wedding cake.
The sun's rays finally burst over the horizon when Castiel sees the lake. The celestial body's blinding light reflects and refracts off the water into a dazzling array of golds and yellows. Castiel's eyes squint in reaction to the sudden light, and he feels a smile tugging at the side of his lips. It's Thursday.
The birds sing in the tops of the trees as Castiel turns the final bend of the trail and begins to leave the lake behind him. Filtering through the foliage are pockets of warm light and each time he passes through a patch of sunlight, he shivers in pleasure at the warmth.
Reaching the end of the trail and the beginning of the black asphalt, the town lying before Castiel is completely changed. There are stirrings of movement, cars in the street. Workers headed to the construction site nearby steer their large trucks around him as he continues into the last 5K of his run. Glancing at his watch, he's made his best time yet. Of course, it's Thursday.
The houses on the outskirts of the main road through town are small cottages in bright, happy colours, and Castiel always loves running by them; he wishes all of his runs took him by this part of town, especially since one of the quaint yellow townhouses has a new tenant. Castiel has been trying to steal a glimpse at the new arrival for a few weeks now. But other than the moving van he saw in the driveway a month ago, he's not seen as much as a stirring in the house.
But today is Thursday.
As Castiel rounds the corner that precedes the townhouses, the sun is burning off some of the heavy moisture in the air that has made Castiel's shirt stick to his long, lean runner's body. The sun is to Castiel's back as he runs westward, almost a full ten minutes ahead of his normal pace, when he notices the door of the middle yellow townhouse open slowly and a man steps out onto the porch.
As the man with the light brown hair descends the steps to the driveway, Castiel notices his long bowlegs and, even from this distance, those electric green eyes. He throws his tool-bag into the bed of his truck sitting next to a black '67 Chevy Impala. As Castiel runs past the house, he makes eye contact but quickly diverts his gaze. The man nods in Castiel's direction as he climbs into his truck and drives off in the direction of the construction site.
Once Castiel reaches the storefront for Castiel's Coveted Cakes & Pies, he bends over, putting his hands on his knees and draws a few deep lung-fulls of air. The cars driving past create a pleasant breeze every few seconds which caresses Castiel's overheated body. Opening the door to the side of the storefront, Castiel bounds up the stairs to his apartment above.
There are no words to describe how Castiel feels after a run. Especially Thursday's long trek in solitude. Running gives him time to think, a break from everything in his life. In those quiet moments, nothing else matters and Castiel feels completely free. As he showers the sweat and dirt from his body, he closes his eyes and immediately sees the face of the bowlegged man. Unwillingly, a smile tugs at the corner of Castiel's mouth.
Unlocking the front door to the bakery, Castiel flips the 'Closed' sign to 'Open' and absentmindedly flicks the lights on. Walking by each case, he makes notes of which pastries he will be featuring today, but he is mostly focused on apple pie.
As he opened almost a full thirty minutes early, Castiel is afforded a small amount of time alone. He grabs the components for his pie. The flour and sugar from the cupboard in the back kitchen, bags of apples from the pantry, the brown sugar which has already turned hard as a rock, and the secret spices that make his apple pie the best in town.
He is already rolling out dough at the station just behind the front counter when the bell above the door jingles and announces the arrival of Castiel's first customer of the day. Looking up from his handiwork, Castiel sees Mr. Moore studying the pastry case.
"Good morning, Mr. Moore," Castiel says, wiping the flour off of his hands onto the apron tied around his waist. Castiel is already pouring his coffee when he gets a reply.
"Castiel," he says fondly as Castiel hands Mr. Moore his cup of coffee and the pastry he had pointed out. Mr. Moore sniffs the air as he fumbles with his wallet. "Apple pie?" he asks, handing over a five-dollar bill as he continues to sniff the scent that wafts from the oven in the back where Thursday's first apple pie is baking.
Smiling, Castiel hands Mr. Moore his change. "The first one's in the oven. Would you like me to save a piece for your wife?" Castiel knows that Mr. Moore's wife's health is deteriorating, and he remembers that she has always loved his apple pie.
"That would be great," Mr. Moore says with a measured tone as another customer enters the bakery. "See you, Castiel."
The morning rush starts immediately after Mr. Moore leaves, and Castiel finds himself running a bit behind on his pies. The first comes out of the oven a perfect golden brown, and the apple filling bubbles gratifyingly between the lattice of crust on the top. Placing the first pie on the pastry case to cool, every piece is sold before ten a.m.
Castiel catches up on his pies between the hours of ten and twelve. It's always slower after the morning rush, and Castiel finds himself getting lost in thought as he mixes up another batch of pie crust. He refills the pastry case and brews a new pot of coffee before the lunch crowd arrives.
The first person to enter for lunch throws the door open with much gusto. "Good morning, Cassy!" It's Gabriel.
Castiel rolls his eyes and returns to his work. "It's afternoon, in case you haven't noticed." His brother is still wearing his clothes from the day before and he looks like he had a wild night. "What do you need, Gabe?" His brother has that mischievous look in his eyes that always means he wants something from Castiel.
Gabe throws a scowl of mock offense towards Castiel, but still proffers his request. "I was thinking," Gabriel boosts himself up to sit on the counter next to the cash register as he speaks. Castiel raises his eyebrows disapprovingly, but Gabe is not phased. "You could probably use someone to help with the customers and run the register." Castiel stops his work and looks towards his brother warily.
"What did you do this time?" Castiel asks, knowing that this meant his brother had done something to upset his boss…again.
"Nothing," Gabe answers quickly, an innocent look forming in his eyes. "It's not my fault that old geezer has a totally Victorian outlook on sex." Castiel does not prompt Gabe any further; he really doesn't want to know.
"You can help out until you find another job," Castiel relents. Jumping off the counter with a sigh, Gabe has a self-satisfied look on his face.
"Thanks, bro." Gabe says as he begins to leave the bakery.
"This is not a permanent thing!" Castiel calls after him, but he is already out the door. With a frustrated humph, Castiel returns to his work, and his frustration melts away as his hands knead dough absentmindedly.
The sound of a throat clearing starts Castiel out of his reverie. His eyes immediately shoot in the direction of the sound, and he almost drops the rolling pin in his hands as his gaze meets a pair of stunning green eyes. "Umm….uh…" Castiel stutters like an idiot as he forgets how to function for a moment. Wow. That glance from a distance this morning did the bowlegged fellow no justice. He is beautiful.
"Hello," Castiel says, once again walking away from his baking to approach the counter. "Can I help you with something?" Castiel is trying his best not to look overly interested.
The man looks at him with a questioning expression. "You ran by my house this morning," The man says with a heart-crushing smile. Castiel laughs nervously and nods his head. "I'm Dean, by the way."
"Castiel." He replies, as Dean extends his hand. His firm grip and calloused hands feel deliciously rough against Castiel's palm. At hearing Castiel's name, Dean's face brightens.
"So this is your place?" He asks, looking around at the small, humble bakery. Castiel smiles politely and nods but doesn't open his mouth, not trusting his ability to speak. Dean approaches the counter and leans against it. Just as he does, a timer beeps shrilly from the kitchen and Castiel quickly excuses himself to go take his pies out of the oven.
When he returns, Dean is still standing at the counter, eyeing the pastry case with a pleased expression on his face. "So what do you recommend?" Dean asks as he watches Castiel place the pie on the top of the case. His eyes widen as the steam wafts off the fresh pie and floats to Dean's location.
"Thursday is apple pie," Castiel says, motioning to the pie.
Dean smiles wickedly and nods his head. "Apple pie, then." he says. Does Castiel imagine it when he catches Dean looking him up and down out of the corner of his eye?
When Castiel cuts a piece of pie for Dean, the thick filling oozes out onto the plate. "It's still hot," Castiel says as if he were speaking to a child, and immediately wishes that he was not the most awkward human being in the world.
As Dean hands Castiel the money he once again flashes that million dollar smile. "I think I can handle it," he says in a teasing, deep voice.
After Dean walks to a table in the left corner of the bakery to eat his pie, Castiel retreats to the kitchen, stealing furtive glances at Dean from around the kitchen's door frame.
Dean's shirt is dirty from manual labor; his face bears scruff from a few days without a shave, and, all in all, with his faded blue jeans and worn plaid shirt, he is probably one of the most attractive men Castiel has ever seen. Watching him take the first bite of pie, Castiel feels elation rising inside him as Dean closes his eyes to savor the taste. Dean's eyes glance towards the kitchen, and Castiel hides himself once more.
Trying to be inconspicuous, Castiel re-enters the front of the bakery and resumes working on more apple pies. The clinking of silverware against a plate suddenly stops as Castiel hears a contented sigh. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Dean stand and begin walking towards the counter.
Breathe, Castiel. Just breathe. Stay calm.
Placing the plate on the counter with an exhale as he pats his stomach, Dean raises an eyebrow and nods approvingly as he puts money in the tip jar next to the register. "I'd have another piece if I didn't have to get back to the site," Castiel can hear true regret in his voice. "That was seriously the best apple pie I have ever had, and I've had a lot of pies." Dean laughs and Castiel feels his cheeks getting warm.
"Thank you," Castiel says modestly, unable to look Dean in the eyes.
"I'll definitely be back," Dean says, and it sounds like a promise.
Castiel really likes Thursdays.