So, a while ago I saw a tweet from cloudyjenn about Cas being a drawer, as in, an artist, and I joked that there should be a fic where Cas is a drawer, as in, the wooden sliding receptacle in a cabinet, where items are placed for safekeeping.
This, is that fic.
It came out angstier than expected.
I know dick about history, this is the land of make believe and anachronisms.
Also, I have a comedy novel coming out in January, follow me on twitter JollySnidge for updates on that as and when it comes out.
"So, then the waiter's just staring at me, and it's not my fault that I'm on a date with a certifiable racist cat lady, but I couldn't think of a way to get out of there without hurting her feelings..."
"The feelings of the racist cat lady."
"Exactly, so in the end I had to see dessert through to the bitter end and tip the guy something like 1000%." Sam shook his head and sighed. "By the way, if you ever do go to Stephanos they have the best chocolate mousse."
Dean snorted. "Little dark for her tastes right?"
Sam glared at him and threw a magazine across the coffee table. It landed in Dean's lap, jolted his cup of coffee and made him laugh harder, if anything.
"You need to write a book about this crap, I'm telling you. You could call it, 'why do I allow Gabriel to continue fixing me up, when he's crappy at it? Oh yeah, because he has a massive hard-on for me.'
"That's a little long."
"That's what she said."
Sam shook his head in exasperation. "Whatever, at least I'm not in my thirties and still going nuts over a 'secret admirer'."
Dean whipped the magazine at his head. "Shut up Sam."
And it's mainly because he's used to deflecting Sam's questions or digs about Cas with casual violence and name calling, but it's also because, if it was just a secret admirer Dean would be the first one to call himself a dumbass. He's thirty three, he's still single, and he's routinely fantasising about the guy who sends him little notes and messes with his stuff when he's not around.
But also, if Sam ever finds out the truth, he's going to have him locked up on a psyche ward under twenty-four hour surveillance.
Because Dean isn't just a thirty-three year old guy with a secret admirer. He's a thirty-three year old guy with a secret admirer who's been dead for over a hundred years.
Oh, and he lives in the top drawer of his dresser.
Even if Sam marries crazy-racist-cat-lady, he'll have a less awkward trip home to see the folks.
It started when Dean went to a salvage sale to pick up some furniture.
He'd only gone because he'd just moved into his tiny apartment, and he needed some actual stuff to put in it. He'd never been big on interiors, that had always been someone else's concern. When he'd lived at home, his Mom had picked everything in his room, in college, the dorm had come furnished, and later, Sam had chosen everything for their off campus place. After that he'd lived in furnished apartments, short-term while he moved around the country working.
Dean had no career, he went wherever he could get hired, and he'd done a lot of stuff in the past ten years. Long haul driver, pest control, construction, janitor, substitute gym teacher, library assistant, welder. The list was so long that his resume needed two printer refills when he made up a new copy.
Now, he was settled, more or less, in his own (rented) apartment, while he worked as a manager at a haulage firm.
He'd gone to the sale with a hundred dollars in his pocket, and a mind to take home everything that was cheap, and looked like it wouldn't fall over if he put a beer on it.
A bed frame set him back fifty, wardrobe twenty five (it had a hole in the bottom, but hey, what was he going to keep on the floor of a wardrobe? He owned like, two pairs of shoes) with his remaining money he picked out a table with a crack down the centre (beat the guy down to five bucks) a lamp (three dollars) And for the remaining seventeen got a plain wooden chair and a three drawer cabinet to put by his bed.
Sam had helped him get it all home, and between them, in two cars, they'd saved a bunch on delivery.
So, his apartment was bare, but liveable, and Dean bought a mattress for his bed, and got a good night's sleep for once.
He liked to read before he went to sleep, nothing strenuous, just a crime novel, preferably something with some Satan worship and backwoods killers. He kept his books in the cabinet by the bed, for lack of a shelf, and with a lamp on top of the thing, it was actually almost cozy.
For a few weeks he got on well with his new job, and his new home, that is, until someone started screwing with him.
It started, with his books.
One night, three weeks after he'd moved in, Dean sat on the bed, his legs kicked out across its width, and picked up the book he was currently reading. He opened it to the page he'd dogeared, and found that someone had written at the top of the page in red pencil.
This is the most abominable trash I have ever had the misfortune to read.
Dean blinked, then put it down to the book being second hand. Someone was clearly a critic. He read the page, then flipped over and found that there was more writing on the back.
Shame on you Dean Winchester.
Dean sat frozen for a second, then picked up the book, threw it back in the drawer, and called Sam.
"It doesn't feel haunted." Sam said, sitting uneasily on Dean's only chair.
"And what does 'haunted' feel like?" Dean asked acidly.
"How the hell would I know Dean?"
"Well, you're the realtor."
"I don't sell a lot of haunted condos."
Dean showed him the book, again. "This, is freaking me out."
Sam looked again at the words written on the page. "Maybe someone's just having a joke, did you take the book out anywhere...work maybe?"
"No, I don't take books to work. It's been here the whole time."
"Well, then maybe someone..."
Sam sighed. "I have no idea. Maybe it's a coincidence."
Dean glowered. "That's the best you've got?"
"Yes." Sam stood up. "Now, I'm going on my date, and I suggest you find a different book and try not to let it screw up your psyche."
Sam went out to the hall and put on his coat.
"When the walls start to bleed, I'll call you," Dean shouted.
"You do that."
Sam left and Dean looked at the book dubiously. He flicked through a few more pages and found them empty of commentary. Maybe it was a coincidence. There had to be more than one Dean Winchester out there.
Still, he opened the drawer and looked around for another book to read, as he did so, a red pencil rolled to the front of the drawer and bumped against his fingers.
Dean shut the drawer so fast he nearly lost a hand.
For a month Dean avoided the drawer. He didn't open it, he didn't look at it, and he went as far as not using the entire cabinet at all.
But, after five weeks had gone by, and the unease faded, he convinced himself that it had just been a case of new-home jitters. He'd been weirded out by the empty apartment and the old furniture. So he was an idiot, but, more importantly, he wasn't a haunted idiot.
That night, when he got in from work, he opened a beer, sprawled out on his bed, and opened the drawer to find a good book to read.
He picked one out at random and opened it.
Twenty pages in, it was already a snooze fest, he picked out another, and underneath it found a package of photos that he'd meant to frame and put around the place. Pictures of his parents, his old house, pictures of him and Sam when they were growing up.
He took them out a looked through them. There was Sam, gappy smile in his round little face as he peddled a tricycle in the yard. Their Dad was in the background, and Dean could just see the blue blur of his own jeans where he was sitting on Dad's shoulders.
He ran his thumb over the picture, he seldom looked at them. They were good memories, but they were a lifetime ago, and sometimes it hurt to remember that stuff, especially now that both his parents were gone.
That was when he felt it, pressed into the picture, the outline of blunt, pencil letters.
What is this contraption? Written boldly across the bottom of the picture.
Dean felt a bolt of fleeting fear, followed by a wealth of anger.
He took all the pictures out of the drawer and stowed them safely in his wardrobe.
"Listen to me you sonofabitch," he said, addressing the cabinet, "you do not touch my personal stuff, especially not my family stuff. Because if you do, I will drag you outside, and burn you."
He realised he was talking to furniture, and sat down, hard, on the bed.
"I really need to get out more."
Dean succeeded in getting out more, and, as was customary, he got out, and found someone to bring home.
He did this five nights in a row, before going to a bar just down the street, and bringing back a sixth woman.
Her name was Tanya, and she was clearly used to going back to strange apartments. She was comfortable walking around, looking at his lack of stuff, and helped herself to a beer. He liked that. Awkwardness, nerves, were something that he didn't want to deal with, especially not in a haunted house. He needed someone who'd view the whole thing as a funny little prank someone had pulled on him.
Not that he was going to talk about it. But, just in case.
Tanya took a condom out of her purse, sending change, makeup and spare panties cascading over the floor as she dropped the whole thing at the side of the bed.
Dean honestly didn't care.
It was all going fine, great even, until something hit him in the back of the head.
He twisted, looking for the missile, and found a book lying on the bed, open to a random page, on which someone had printed the word 'Whore' in red pencil letters.
He hurriedly swiped the book off the bed and tried to ignore it.
Another hit him in the shin, and then in the back. He reached over and slammed the drawer shut.
"You OK?" Tanya asked, at last noticing that something was wrong.
"Fine." Dean said, and instantly regretted it. He caught sight of the lipstick too late, it dashed past his head, and he could do nothing but watch as it wrote on the wall over the bed.
Needless to say. Tanya left screaming.
The next day, armed with a library book on exorcism, Dean had it out with his drawer.
He threw salt in, he flicked holy water and chanted latin, he even sprinkled stinky herbs and crushed spices into the drawer and made the sign of the cross over it.
All was quiet.
Satisfied that things were now right with his bedroom suite, Dean took his herbs and salt back to the kitchen.
When he got back, there was a piece of notepaper in the drawer, miraculously free of salty water.
Did you really think that would get rid of me?
Dean looked down at the paper. Why did this have to happen to him? Why was he the haunted one, when Sam went to all the houses that had people die in them.
"Who are you?" He asked, eventually.
There was a pause, then the red pencil stood up, and methodically wrote in neat cursive.
Castiel Emmanuel Milton, the third.
Still suffering hysterical paralysis Dean said, "Are you...evil?"
Again, a pause, and then the pencil wrote,
When he got back, several hours later and armed with more holy water and a sturdy bread knife, he found that Castiel had left him an essay.
Mr Winchester, it read,
During my time housed in this homely receptacle, I have been owned by a number of classless, crass individuals, whose occupations and private predilections offended me on every level, as I am, or at least, in life, I was a gentleman.
You however, have begun to interest me. Despite your whorish behaviour. I believe you to be an honest and hardworking peasant, uneducated, perhaps, given your choice of reading material. But, you seem amiable.
Therefore, I shall not continue to make a rogue of myself as I have done before, in order to escape the ownership of brutes, philanderers, and troglodytes.
Please consider me, your willing friend,
Castiel Emmanuel Milton, the third, Esq.
PS. I am sorry to have offended you by writing on your pictures. Rest assured, it will not happen again. I did not realise how precious they were to you. I will hereby defend them with my soul, so there is no need for you to burn me outside.
Dean looked at the letter, read it through again, and sat down on his bed, next to the open drawer, in which his books had been stacked neatly.
"Castiel...we need to talk about your people skills."
It took two weeks for Dean to get used to the fact that his only friend lived inside a piece of second hand furniture. But, Castiel was indeed a friend, and the fact that he was dead wasn't going to keep him down. Dean could respect that.
Once they'd gotten past Castiel's initial snobbishness and tendency to talk in terms of 'colonies' 'Negros' and 'libations' they actually got on pretty well. The only time Cas got snippy with him was when Dean asked him why he was still talking like an 'old timey dude', to which Castiel responded that death was not a reason to lower ones standards of English.
Cas being dead and all, they didn't do much together, but, Dean talked and Castiel listened, and Dean would read his responses out of the notebook he kept in Castiel's drawer. They talked about their families, about their respective jobs (Castiel had been a lawyer) and the things they'd seen and done in their lives.
Castiel was evasive about his own family. He wrote freely about his parents, his sister Annabel and his brothers Raphael, Gabe and Alfred. But he never mentioned a wife, or children. Even though Dean asked more than once.
Then, one night, Castiel wrote, and Dean read,
Don't think less of me, but, I feel I must say that I died unmarried...I found that it did not suit my temperament.
"How?" Dean asked, "I mean, no judgement or anything, you live here, you know I don't have five kids and a wife running around."
I was...and am, inarticulate on the matter. Suffice to say, I was not attracted to any women of my acquaintance. To any woman, at all.
Dean read the note twice, just to make sure he was getting it correctly.
Not particularly. I live in a piece of quite ugly furniture, comprised of wood that was once an elegant bedstead. I am hardly ecstatically happy.
"Gay as in homosexual. As in...you like men."
Yes .I suppose so. The pencil wrote slowly.
"Did you ever have a boyfriend...um, a guy you slept with, or you spent a lot of time with?"
There was a long pause, then Castiel wrote, Can we talk about something else?
Dean started to tell him about something that had gone wrong with a truck full of peaches that he'd sent off to California, but which had ended up in Canada thanks to a driver with very poor handwriting. But he didn't stop thinking about Castiel, and when he wasn't telling him.
Two days later, Sam tried to set Dean up with a girl that he'd met at one of his open houses.
Dean declined, and spent the night telling Castiel about the time he'd hitched all the way across Iowa, just to get to a job, only to find out that the job had gone when he got there. That was how he'd ended up working as an assistant pastry chef, instead of on a farm.
Dean wasn't going to let Castiel keep his secrets forever. Googling Cas got him nothing, there was very little to be found on the subject of an old, dead guy who hadn't upset anyone or done anything beyond live a normal, lonely life.
Still dwelling on Cas's past, Dean allowed Sam to entice him out with promises of soft furnishings and well cooked food, courtesy of Sam's friend Gabriel. For some reason, Sam was blind to the massive crush Gabriel had on him, and insisted on inviting Dean over for what was essentially a date.
At Gabriel's house they all sat on the couch, ate homemade hotwings followed by Gabriel's speciality chocolate-cherry-brandy icecream, and watched a pirate copy of a pretty gross comedy.
Halfway through, Dean got bored and started looking around the place, anything to give Gabriel a chance to grope his brother a little and make some jokes that'd have Sam squirming uncomfortably.
There were pictures all over one wall of Gabriel's TV room, some were recent, him and a red-head who was his sister, some of a blond guy, his brother who lived in London. There were older pictures, Gabriel as a kid with a huge, six scoop icecream cone, and two people presumably his unlucky parents, a blond woman with dark roots and a bearded guy with a nervous grin.
There was also a black and white picture of a dark haired guy in a black suit and white shirt, sitting on a chair in what looked like an office, there was a desk beside him, and over his head a sign had been carefully lettered, the second half of it clearly visible 'Milton, the third, Esq.'
"Gabriel," Dean asked, eyes glued to the pale, intelligent face of the man in the picture, "who's this guy?"
Gabriel glanced over, "That's my brother Balthazar, and, before you ask, yes, he is naked, and no, I did not photoshop that coconut bra onto him."
"No, this guy," Dean pointed.
"Oh, that's someone from way back in the family. My great-great-great-uncle Castiel. His sister is my great-great-great-grandmother Anna, the one my sister looks like. And I'm named after his brother, Gabriel."
"You're related to him?"
"That's what I just said," Gabriel said, raising his eyebrows at Sam in a 'what is your brother on?' face. "I only have his picture up because he was the only gay guy we've ever had in the family, and I felt kinda close to the guy when I came out."
"He was gay, you know that for sure?"
"Well, he never married, and he had an affair with one of the servants in the house of some woman his family wanted him to marry."
"Like a black servant?"
"A great big hulking guy who did a lot of their yard work. Hence why the family shunned him for most of his life, his parents never spoke to him again actually, then they died, his brothers and sister tried to contact him but he'd gone off the map somewhere, and when they tracked him down, he'd already died."
"What about the guy he was with."
Gabriel looked distinctly unhappy. "The...uh...well, both families were pretty pissed. The guy was beaten to death and...it was never proved who'd done it, but it was probably either a Milton or a Crowley that did it."
Dean stood staring at the picture. Castiel had lost his family, and his lover all at once. No wonder he was so touchy about the subject. And he'd died all alone, without knowing that his brothers and sister still cared about him.
"Gabriel, can you do me a favour?"
"Can you lend me this picture?"
Dean put the picture in the top drawer and told Castiel everything that Gabriel had said.
Castiel didn't write anything back, but Dean knew he was listening, and that he was thinking about it.
The next night, after Sam came by and told Dean about his racist-cat-lady date, Dean went to bed and lay looking up at the ceiling.
"Cas, you OK?"
He rolled onto his side and looked at the notebook, while Castiel wrote,
Yes. Though I do wish you hadn't put these things in here.
Dean looked down into the drawer, and realised that, when Sam had knocked on the door, he'd panicked and tossed the bottle of lube and small rubber plug that had been on the dresser, into the first drawer he could yank open.
"Sorry." He removed them and put them back on the cabinet. "They're not...you know, what it looks like."
I'm dead Dean, not stupid.
Dean had the grace to blush.
I see you, you know. When the drawer's closed.
"You watch me?"
Dean had no idea how he felt about that. On the one hand, he wouldn't want a friend to see him doing...that. On the other, Cas was different. Not just because he was a ghost, but, because he wasn't entirely the same as a friend.
"You like watching me, huh?"
Castiel was still for a moment, then the pencil moved.
"Are you watching now?"
Dean picked the things up off of the dresser and put them on the bed beside him.
"Just keep watching."
Dean was not a weirdo.
He told himself that, even when he stayed up late to talk to the ghost that he was kind of having sex with.
Hey, if Sam could have a relationship with Gabriel where all they did was sit around with him and watch movies, or where Gabriel sent Sam out on really bad blind dates, then Dean could be in love with a male ghost.
Castiel seemed a lot happier now that he knew he hadn't been totally abandoned by his family. There was still sadness in him, and Dean got that, losing someone you loved, especially because of someone else's prejudice, was a terrible thing to go through. But, if talking to him made Castiel happy, Dean would never stop. He could tell Castiel anything, and he could almost feel him sometimes, when he was just on the edge of falling asleep, a depression in the mattress, a breath of warm air.
He was in deep before he knew it, and, even though he didn't want to think about it, he knew that he was devoting himself to a dead man, one who would never, could never, be there for him. He knew Castiel thought about it too.
Dean ignored it, lived in the moment, not willing to give up on Castiel, the first person he'd met who he genuinely loved.
Then, one day, he came home to a letter.
For the longest time, I have been trapped in this world, in this frankly, hideous cabinet, and I lived with it because I thought it was an end befitting someone like me. I was a man who betrayed his family, his God and his class.
I no longer believe that to be true.
I fell in love. That was all I did, and it threw a shadow over my entire life, and even my death. Thank you for telling me the truth, I am glad that my brothers and sister forgave me, but, what really matters is, you made me forgive myself for what happened to Elias.
I know now that it wasn't my fault that he died, both of us were doomed from the start, and it was only my standing that saved me from the same fate. I was lucky, and I don't believe he would have wanted me to die as he did.
Dean, I love you, and you are a selfless, kind individual (with a terrible taste in books). I would never forgive myself if I was the reason that you never found your Elias.
Find someone living, to love.
Don't worry about me. I feel as if a map has been drawn on my skin. I know my way now, and I am going to take it.
You were, and always will be, my greatest friend.
Dean spent that night, and each night for three days talking to the drawer before he let himself believe that Castiel was really gone.
"C'mon, it'll be good for you." Sam said, through the mail slot in Dean's front door.
"I'm not going, just so I can watch you and Gabriel make cow eyes at eachother."
"We do not make-"
"Yes you do. Just get over yourself and propose to him or something."
Sam leant against the door. "If I promise to ask him out, will you come to this drinks thing?"
The door opened, sending Sam sprawling to the floor.
"You could have just led with 'drinks'." Dean told him, stepping over Sam's body and heading for the stairs.
Gabriel's home was decked out for thanksgiving with paper turkeys, a candy corn castle (with marshmallow pilgrims and weirdly realistic smallpox riddled native Americans made out of chocolate and wafers) and several hundred vanilla scented candles in red and gold holders.
The place was full of people Dean only knew by association, Gabriel's brothers and his sister Anna. There were people who worked at Gabriel's bakery, Sam's co-workers, all handing out cards and talking about subsidence, and a couple of neighbours, including a seventy-year-old woman who someone had wrapped in garlands and topped with an authentic feather headdress.
Dean drank two beers, and kept to the edge of things, nodding politely, but not getting sucked into conversation. His biggest mistake was trying a 'thanksgiving cocktail' that turned out to be absinth, cream and stuffing, topped with cheap vodka.
When he was running to the bathroom, Dean collided with someone and tipped their drink all over himself.
Halfway through throwing up someone started tapping on the bathroom door.
"Fuck off," Dean muttered, feeling his stomach screw up like a ball of tissue paper about to go through a mincer.
"I'm covered in vermouth."
"Good for you."
Dean stood up, steadied himself, and flushed the rejected cocktail away. He felt a little better.
Opening the door, he found himself face to face with the dark haired, serious faced man from Gabriel's picture. Castiel. As real as anything, wearing a black shirt soaked with vermouth.
"Cas?" Dean found himself saying.
"Do I know you?"
Castiel shrugged. "I don't know a Dean...are you a friend of my brother's?"
"I'm Sam's brother."
Castiel extended a hand. "I'm Gabriel's brother. Castiel Emmanuel Milton, the fourth."
Dean said the only sentence that could find it's way into his mouth.
"How do you feel about chocolate mousse?"