A/N: Sorry for the long time in between updates. I'm going through some pretty bad writer's block. Working through it though.
Meg didn't stick around the bakery for long, muttering something about catching up with someone. Castiel is quite certain that she simply didn't want to run into Uriel in case he dropped by early. After placing a peck on Castiel's cheek and shooting Dean a sideways glance of approval, she sauntered out of the door and disappeared down the street.
Alone again, Dean sits on the stool in front of the counter and finds it difficult to make eye contact with the man on the other side, but he feels a smile curling the corners of his mouth, and the contented glint in Cas' eyes only makes him smile wider. He scoffs and looks down at the counter. "Sorry about that improvisation," He begins with his characteristic bravado, still looking at the wooden surface as he picks at a fraying string on the cuff of his plaid shirt, unable to fully place that jittery feeling currently ravaging his insides. He takes a sip of his now luke-warm coffee and curses silently as he sees that his hand is trembling slightly.
When Dean finally looks up, Castiel's eyes are watching him intently. With a small shake of his head, Cas breaks the silence. "I'm not," He reassures Dean, whose vivid green eyes spark in a way Castiel would never have dreamed possible, but before he can say anything more, the bell above the front door announces the arrival of another customer, and Castiel breaks eye contact reluctantly.
Dean once again flits away from the counter as Mr. Moore approaches the counter, but Castiel can't take his eyes off of Dean the entire time he is servicing the elderly gentleman. Even when Dean's back is turned, Castiel can't help but notice the breadth of his shoulders, and the rippling muscles in his back. As he waltzes around the bakery, Cas notices the precise nature of his gait around those beautiful bowlegs and he can't help but smile. His distraction does not go unnoticed by Mr. Moore, though he, very graciously, remains silent.
Once Mr. Moore has exited the bakery, Dean sidles up to the counter again. "Well..." He begins, looking up at Cas from under his lashes. "I gotta get home so I can crash and try to fix this hangover before I have to work tonight." His voice sounds reluctant, and he honestly doesn't want to leave the bakery in the slightest bit. The smell of pastries, baking bread and brewing coffee is intoxicating as it swirls around him, and just being around Castiel provides him with an unparalleled feeling of comfort that he doesn't want to let go of.
Cas nods slowly and purses his lips with a hint of disapproval which quickly melts away when Dean leans over the counter and places a kiss on them before turning and leaving the bakery in silence and Castiel's head spinning.
"Castiel!" Uriel's booming voice echoes from the front of the bakery to the back where Castiel is finishing the icing on his last sample cake. He sets aside his piping bag with a smile and turns to answer the call.
Uriel is standing in the middle of the shop with one arm around his fiancée's shoulder when Castiel finally exits the kitchen. He wipes his hands on the front of his apron before extending it towards his cousin. "Hello Uriel," He begins congenially. "Lynne," he nods towards the petite woman with the intense dark eyes. "How are you both doing?" Castiel motions towards one of the tables near the counter as he walks towards the front door.
"I never knew how much planning goes into a wedding," Uriel answers with a laugh as Castiel flips the 'Open' sign to 'Closed' and locks the deadbolt.
Lynne elbows him playfully. "If I left it up to Uriel we would be going down to the courthouse, signing papers and finishing with a meal from the freezer at home." The warmth in the woman's tone is a bit unexpected for Cas who is used to a more stoic show of affection, but the impending nuptials seem to have brightened her spirits. Castiel feels himself slump as he relaxes; maybe she won't absolutely hate every one of the cakes Cas has prepared.
"Well, I hope what I've got prepared for both of you will be better than anything out of your freezer," Castiel quips. "I'll be right back. Take a seat."
With that, Cas quickly makes his way towards the kitchen where he has five different cakes lined up on the counter. He surveys the first in line with his critical eye and decides that he isn't quite happy with the colour of the icing, it's not quite that sunrise pink hue, but he picks it up nonetheless and carefully re-enters the shop.
"Okay," Cas begins with a smile in his tone as he sets the cake down between the two lovebirds. "This is a coconut cake, based loosely off a traditional Cambodian recipe, with an almond, vanilla buttercream frosting." The smug smile on Uriel's face as he cuts two small pieces reminds Castiel why he began doing all of this in the first place. There is something inordinately pleasing about appealing to a person's stomach.
The late afternoon sun silhouettes his cousin's large frame as he brings his fork to his mouth and closes his eyes with a contented 'mmmm.' Lynne's reaction is a bit more reserved as she cocks her eyebrow in contemplation, a small hint of a nod beginning.
"Mmm...yes," Lynne says non-commitally, taking another piece into her mouth. She cocks her head to the side, "I'm not even a big fan of coconut, to be honest, but this is wonderful. Don't you think so, dear?" She prompts Uriel whose mouth is currently filled with the last of his piece of cake. Castiel beams.
"Well, I have more," Castiel supplies warmly as he stands to get the next cake.
When he returns, Lynne is slapping Uriel's hand away from the rest of the cake sitting on the table. "This is an Italian amaretto cake with a white chocolate rum frosting," Castiel explains as he cuts two pieces.
Uriel's piece is barely in front of him by the time he's shoveling a morsel into his mouth. "Oh Lynne," He exclaims. "This one is divine."
After taking her bite, Lynne shrugs, "It's very rich," She critiques while taking a second bite. "But it certainly is delicious. I would just be concerned since we are having a full meal at the reception," She states regarding its richness.
"Shall we continue?" Castiel asks while Lynne is again scolding Uriel for eating more cake.
"Yes, Cas, we'll continue," She shoots her fiancé a no nonsense expression and he puts his fork back onto the table with a sheepish look at Castiel.
In the end, Lynne vetoes Uriel's votes for the amaretto cake and they decide on the coconut after all. By the time they leave, Castiel has five half eaten cakes before him and he is absolutely exhausted. In the waning light of the late afternoon, Cas boxes up the remainder of the cakes with a smile; he knows exactly what to do with these.
There is a restlessness that Cas feels fluttering inside him, and it's slightly unsettling. And it's not until he mounts the stairs to his apartment, opens his door and sees his grimy trainers that he realises he hasn't gone for a run. A contented smile curls at the corners of his lips as he strips down to his undergarments and quickly pulls on a pair of running shorts and a light-weight, breathable technical shirt he retrieved from the top drawer of his dresser.
This is the first time he's been upstairs all day, and even though he feels his bed beckoning him, he merely sits on the edge as he pulls his running shoes towards him and slides his feet into them. The shoes fit like a glove after all the miles he's put in with them. The arch support is beginning to go a little, but he shrugs it off as he stands, redistributing his weight onto both feet.
Castiel has a discernible bounce in his step as he bounds down the stairs from his apartment onto the early evening street. A few people can be seen milling about outside the small Mom & Pop restaurant one block from the bakery, as Castiel jogs by at his warm-up pace, he receives a few warm waves from the patrons.
The air is cooling down rapidly as dusk approaches, and Castiel realises that he has absolutely no idea where he is going on this run or even how far. Technically, Sunday is his rest day, but the moment the idea of a run came into his mind, he knew he couldn't keep himself from lacing up those trainers and hitting the streets.
The staccato of his breathing falls into its normal rhythm and the pounding of his shoes on the pavement indicate that he is comfortably in his pace. He could go on like this for hours.
The lights are off in Dean's yellow townhouse when Castiel breezes past, and the feeling that wells up in his stomach at the sight of that '67 Chevy Impala is so indescribable that he has to avert his eyes before a stupid, goofy grin spreads all the way across his face. He focuses on increasing his pace to a comfortable tempo as he runs aimlessly into the evening.
If it had been earlier, Cas would run the Twin Rivers Trail, but after the long day of nursing his hangover while working, he doesn't think he's up to a long night run; and anyway he didn't bring his head-lamp. So he just continues on Main Street until he is completely out of the city limits and all he can hear is the loud buzzing of cicadas and the occasional swoosh of a car passing accompanied by a pleasing gust of cool air.
His legs feel great, if Cas is honest. Usually, as the summer draws to a close, Castiel's legs are feeling pretty beaten and bruised after countless miles in stifling heat cramped them up on a regular basis, but this summer was better than most, which is a good thing, he remarks to himself, since this was the summer before his first Boston Marathon.
He'd qualified the year before at a small marathon in a town just over from his; in all actuality he had destroyed the course record by over twelve minutes, putting in his first sub-3 hr. time. He smiles to himself as he remembers pumping his fists in the air as he crossed the finish line to the cheers of the crowd around him. Even though Cas loves to train because of the solitude, there is nothing like the atmosphere of a race, the air buzzing with adrenaline and excitement.
By the time the sky has faded into a dusty, soft purplish blue, Castiel decides that he's gone far enough and turns around to begin his trek home. Out and back runs are pretty boring, but Cas tries to stay grounded in the moment by focusing on his feet hitting the pavement. Left, right, left, right.
The peaceful sound could put him to sleep.
In fact, when Castiel finally makes it back to his apartment, he collapses onto his bed, over the covers and falls immediately into a deep, dreamless sleep.
After an indiscernible amount of utter blackness, Castiel begins to hear stirrings of sounds. He can hear his deep breathing, in and out, harmonizing with the sound of his feet on gravel. There is a murmuring around him as he suddenly notices the throngs of people lining the path he is running on. As he stumbles forward, tripping on each small rock in his way, the people cover their mouth and whisper to one another as they stare.
On his left, a face keeps appearing and disappearing in the crowd; a chills runs down his spine as he recognizes the dark brown eyes, almost black, staring, unblinking at him as he struggles to put one foot in front of the other.
When all the faces instantly morph into Joshua's pensive visage, Castiel wakes violently to a hard knocking at his door. He takes a shaky breath as he tries to pull himself out of the pit of his nightmare. He realises that he is still in his running clothes, and a glace in the mirror above his dresser confirms that his hair is wildly unkempt.
As the pounding continues, he shuffles towards his front door, keenly aware that his stomach is tightening with a tiny bit of anxiety. The wooden floor is cold under his bare feet and he grounds himself in the feeling as he places a hand on the cool door handle.
The sight of Dean Winchester standing on his landing only knots his stomach even more as he feels his mouth fall slightly open in incomprehension. He has no idea what time it is.
"Dean..." Castiel begins, and his voice is much breathier and decidedly weaker than he intended. Before Cas can even ask what the man is doing on his doorstep in the middle of the night, his mouth is otherwise occupied.
Dean lunges forward into the apartment and locks his lips onto Castiel's who is stunned into silence and completely unable to move. He clenches his fist as a flash of Joshua's face clouds his mind, but Dean's lips slowly massage away that memory and Castiel feels himself descend into a calm peace as Dean rakes his fingers through his hair.
Tentatively, Castiel wraps his arms around Dean's muscular body, who then moans into their kiss, kicking the door closed with his sturdy work boot as he pushes Castiel backwards further into the apartment. Their ragged breathing and the sound of their tongues crashing together resonates through the small space and wipes all coherent thought from Cas' mind.
Dean finally disengages his mouth from Castiel's and puts their foreheads together, his hand on the back of the other man's neck. "I was laying in bed," Dean begins, his breathing slightly labored, and his pupils blown. "And all I could think about was you."
Closing his eyes as a smile slowly tugs at the corner of his mouth, Castiel places a soft kiss on Dean's lips; he wants to say something, anything, but his mind is a white nothingness of desire, completely transfixed by the perfect feeling of Dean's hands on his body. "I thought you had to work," He finally manages.
Gently guiding Castiel towards his couch, Dean shakes his head. "It's raining," He explains with an impish grin. "And I love you, Castiel Milton." Dean's eyes are terrifyingly serious as he stares into Castiel's. Cas inhales a ragged breath as he feels a wave of emotion crash over him. He places his hands on either side of Dean's face and Dean kisses him sweetly. Again and again and again.
As they lower themselves down onto the couch, Dean stops for a moment. "I'm about 95% shit, Cas," He warns; his voice is plaintive and sorrowful. "But you make me want to be a better man."
After that, there really was nothing more to add.