Cas was surprised by how easily time passed, how they fell into a routine without even thinking about it. He had expected an awkward transition period, as was apt to happen with new roommates, and yet, it never manifested itself. The closest they came to an awkward encounter was when they had confronted Sam about his drug use a few weeks previously. Now it just felt right. Of course he was the first one up, and always made the coffee on weekdays (even though Sam had gagged the first time he tried it and dumped half the bowl of sugar into his cup), and Dean always got the first shower when they got home because he worked at the garage and if they ran two at once they'd run out of hot water in two seconds flat, and Sam always made pancakes and bacon on Sunday morning while Dean squeezed orange juice. They fit into each other's lives. They all knew they each had their secrets, and that was perfectly fine. Cas had no interest in knowing the details of his roommates' lives- it was the unspoken clause of their roommate agreement.
It was a bright Saturday morning when he had his first real conversation with Dean- that didn't involve how the sports teams were doing or if they needed to buy more flour. He was sitting there, nursing his second cup of coffee, absently staring at the grain of the table. He had nowhere to be, and didn't particularly want to change out of his pajamas. He was thinking about Gabe and how maybe he should be able to get together with him for dinner the next time he was in town for a few hours. Dean walked into the kitchen, hair still sleep mussed, and rubbing his eyes. He went to the half empty coffee pot and poured himself a cup; he sniffed it cautiously, familiar with the unreliability of Cas' coffee making skills by now, and dumped in a few teaspoons of sugar.
"Don't think so." Although Sam had been incredibly consistent with making pancakes on Sunday mornings, they had only seen him home once on a Saturday morning- the day they had moved in. They knew better than to question where Sam ended up on his Friday nights. They had gone to the diner a few blocks over for breakfast the week before, and Cas was thinking that their Denver omelet was sounding good. Suddenly getting out of his pjs didn't seem like such a bad idea.
"Hey you want to head over to that diner? I'm feeling an omelet."
"Yeah sure. I just need to shower real quick." Cas grabbed a pair of track pants and a gray t-shirt, and did a pile of the dishes that had built up through the week while he waited for Dean to get out of the shower. Eventually Dean emerged, hair still wet, and walked in stuffing his wallet into his back pocket.
"Yeah." They walked to the diner, chatting aimlessly about classes, and their plans for the week.
"I'll be headed to visit my siblings this weekend." Cas' thought process stilled for a moment, trying to take in the new information.
"You have siblings?"
"Yeah- Balthazar's six and Anna's eight." There was softness in Dean's voice he was unfamiliar with; he had assumed with the muscle car and leather jacket that he was hiding something darker than a couple of kids.
"Are you close to them?"
"As close as I can be. They were taken into foster care when I was sixteen. I fought for visitation rights as soon as I was emancipated. It took the damn court six months to grant them. I see them once a month for three hours. Their foster mom says they look forward to the visits though."
"Right. What are they like?"
"Anna is a little ball of energy. She loves unicorns and playing soccer. She never stops moving and will talk to anyone who'll listen. She wants to know about everything, how the world works." The waitress came and interrupted his soliloquy. Cas ordered his omelet and Dean, the French toast platter. "Balthazar is calmer. He's really shy, actually, but he can draw. I mean really draw- better than most adults. If you get him started on art he'll go on. He likes Picasso right now, but that'll probably change. He hates getting messy unless it involves getting paint everywhere. He can be a handful. I'm scared for when he finds out that Mom left right after he was born- if he'll blame himself you know." Cas nodded.
"Sorry, you probably don't want to be hearing about all of this."
"No, it's interesting. I mean, we really don't that much about each other. Do you have any other siblings?"
"Technically there's Henry. He's two years older than me, but he left as soon as he turned eighteen and never looked back."
"Right. You said your mom left, but what about your dad?"
"He drinks a lot. Has ever since she left. It's the reason the kids got taken away."
"Oh." The food arrived, and they set about eating in silence, while Cas processed the new information.
"What about your family? Oh, sorry." Cas held up a finger as he chewed through the bite he had put into his mouth as soon as Dean spoke. He briefly considered refusing to answer, then considered Dean's blunt honesty.
"There's my brother Gabriel. He travels a lot for work, and I don't see him that much. I should probably try to get together with him for dinner the next time he's in town."
"And your parents?"
"They went through a pretty nasty divorce my senior year- they were definitely staying together for the kids kind of thing. My dad has some pretty young thing down in Florida and we talk on birthdays and holidays. My mother, well, she's tried to clean everything out of her life that reminds her of him, and part of that has been her kids. I called her on it last year, and the relationship has been pretty rocky ever since. She calls when she has some random item she wants to foist onto me or to see what country Gabe is in."
"That sounds pretty rough."
"It's not that bad. It's not pretty, but it works for us. We were never the Brady Bunch."
"No one ever is."
"So, do we need to get flour?" Dean laughed at the pathetic attempt to get the conversation back onto safer ground, and just took a bite of his bacon.
"There's no going back after that one, Cas." The nickname still sounded weird in Castiel's ears, but he found himself growing more used to it.
"Have you read that poem yet?"
"The e.e. cummings one?"
"What'd you think?"
"I liked the line "nobody loses all the time."
"It's one of my favorite poems. I don't know why."
"It's funny until you actually think about it, then it's actually really depressing. I mean, a worm farm, come on." Cas munched on the last of his toast as Dean scraped up the remnants of the syrupy mess on his plate.
"That's disgusting you know."
"What is?" Dean pulled a face that said he knew exactly what Castiel was referring to, but instead chose to be stubborn.
"All that is right now is tree sap. There is absolutely nothing edible left on the plate."
"Syrup is plenty edible."
"You are disgusting and your obsession with syrup is disgusting." The banter was light and made Cas feel like he had found a friend in Dean that he wouldn't be letting go of quickly. Eventually Dean accepted he wouldn't be able to get anymore of the sticky goodness off his plate.
"You just have to deal with it again tomorrow."
"I'm stuck with it. Damn lease." They laughed and paid their bill, keeping up the banter on the walk home. A light drizzle had picked up, and Cas decided his hair was entirely too long to be practical. He resolved to get a haircut as they traipsed up the dark staircase.
"Hey, do you have your key?" A familiar sense of panic entered Cas' gut as he realized he didn't- the feeling of being locked out of his apartment never failed to terrify him.
"No. You don't?"
"I assumed you did."
"Maybe Sam is home?" Cas knew it was a long shot; they hadn't seen him home before one yet. He reached out and knocked anyway. Neither of them were surprised when the door remained unopened after a few moments and shrugged.
"I guess we call a locksmith?" Before Cas could answer the elevator dinged, and in a moment Cas would swear only happened in books Sam emerged.
"Hey, Sammy, you have your key?" Sam had quietly given up on getting Dean to call him Sam, despite the protests the first week or so.
"I figured you guys would be home. Where were you anyway?"
"We went to get breakfast. This idiot forgot the key."
"Yes, because you were so responsible." Cas snapped back. Calling him an idiot was touchy, at best, and even though he had no reason to tell them why but he found himself briefly hating Dean. In another universe he probably would have punched him, but he knew that so far as Dean was concerned it was a perfectly innocent comment.
"Well, if you two would quit bitching I could get us in." They both turned to look at Sam, incredulously.
"Thought you didn't have a key?"
"There are other ways to get through doors besides a key."
"Wait you mean?"
"Do either of you have a credit card?"
"Seriously, we're going to break into our own apartment?"
"It's either that or call a locksmith we can't afford." Dean glared, but fished through his wallet to find a plastic card, suitable to the task. He handed over, saying the magnetic strip better not get ruined.
"How do you know how to pick a lock anyway?" Cas asked, as Sam jimmied the card through the deadbolt and the door swung open. They walked in, and settled on the couch. Dean flipped absently through the record collection, wanting to hear something besides their voices.
"Just something I picked up. Got bored, surfed the internet, learned how to pick locks. Never thought I'd actually need to know how to do it."
"Seriously, who just picks up lock picking?" Dean picked a record, and carefully set it on his old turntable, one of the few things that had made it into the common area.
"Bon Jovi, Dean?" Cas groaned. He was more a modern alt kind of guy. Not really even more, he was a modern alt kind of guy- he didn't have patience for power chords and ballads, anything that characterized rock until grunge took over.
"Bon Jovi rocks." Dean turned and pointed at him as he said it, before flopping into the overstuffed arm chair that Sam had claimed until they had moved in, at which point Dean claimed it as his spot. Cas rolled his eyes, before angling his body back towards Sam.
"Anyway, Dean's poor taste in music aside," Dean made an indignant noise, "who does just pick up lock picking?" Sam glanced around the room, looking desperately for an escape that wouldn't look like an escape. There were some things they didn't need to know about him. Even though he rather liked them, more so than he had expected (mostly because they left things well enough alone), and even enjoyed spending time with them on occasion, they didn't need to know what went on in his life. They certainly didn't need to know he was intelligent. That the only reason he hadn't flunked out of school was because he didn't need to look at his books more than once, and that he could care less about the field of astrophysics. He needed to be able to keep that to himself.
"Apparently, I do."
"Seriously, man. There has to be a story there." Sam knew there was no way around it. He was still holding out hope that maybe, just maybe he'd be able to get away with just mentioning the memory thing. He knew better, was all too familiar with the questions that it led too. He found himself wishing he could light a joint. He figured it wouldn't hurt to ask (generally, he found, it was best to ask before using illicit drugs in the presence of others) - not if it would get him through this conversation. They were the kind of guys he wouldn't mind sharing a joint with anyway, something he rarely did anymore- smoke socially.
"Hey you guys want to share a joint?" Judging from the looks he got from his apparently random question Sam wondered if the question would be enough to derail the topic entirely. Castiel's eyes had gone wider than he thought was humanly possible, and Dean appeared to be startled by the suggestion. After a few seconds of everyone looking, and feeling like a deer in the headlights Dean shrugged.
"Why the hell not? I haven't done anything stupid in- well, I don't think I've ever done anything stupid. You still have to tell us though."
"Yeah, right. Cas, buddy, you ok?"
"Yeah, I've just never, you know, smoked."
"Are you objecting?"
"I want to try it, it's just I don't know what I'm doing." Sam had fished around during their conversation for the baggie he had gotten last night, and went about rolling the joint. He remembered how nervous he'd been when he had his first joint; that had faded quickly, of course, but he definitely sympathized. He glanced at Dean, who looked decidedly more nonchalant about the whole thing and he remembered the pack of cigarettes that sat on his dresser. He realized, almost belatedly, that Dean had a lot he wasn't sharing, that his past had more things and was more complex than he probably wanted to know about.
"Sam maybe you should shotgun him his first hit." Cas looked like he was about to vomit he was so nervous.
"Yeah, probably for the best. Get him mellowed out." Sam rolled a tip into the joint, and dug around the drawer in the end table to find a lighter.
"Is anyone going to ask him about this?" Cas chimed up.
"Nope." Sam passed the joint and lighter to Dean, allowing him the first hit. Dean lit it and took a drag. He coughed as he exhaled.
"That is some good stuff."
"I know." Cas sat there, tentatively preparing. Dean passed Sam the materials.
"Get over here, Cas." Cas came over, and perched on the arm of Sam's chair.
"So uh, what do I do?"
"Just hold on a sec," he re-lit the joint and glanced at Cas, "Open up." He took a drag, and leaned up mouth open. He got within two inches of Cas' face before Cas startled and jumped back.
"What the hell are you doing, dude?"
"Shotgunning you your first hit."
"Oh," Cas picked himself up off the floor, and returned to the arm of the chair.
"Yeah." Sam pulled a long drag off of the joint, and leaned in. Cas met him halfway, tentatively opening his mouth to receive the smoke. Sam let out the smoke, centimeters away from his roommate's lips. Cas pulled away, and choked coughing the smoke out.
"People do this for fun?"
"Wait for it," Sam said as he passed it to Dean. The pleasant tinglings of floating were itching at the corners of his mind already.
"Alright, Sammy, spill." Dean said it as he carefully relit the joint, and puckered his lips around it.
"I'm smart ok, like scary smart." There was almost no reaction to his revelation. Dean had been showing Cas how to hold the stub of the joint without singing his fingers.
"A lotta people are smart." Sam could tell from Cas' words, not slurred, but more casual then he had ever heard him speak that he was probably going to be a lightweight.
"They forced me into gifted programs when I was a kid- something about an IQ of about 132. I have a memory that's eidetic, but well, it's close." Sam took the joint from Cas, and took his first proper hit of the day.
"So, you just don't care? I mean if I had that kind of intelligence-"
"Exactly. If you did. I'm the one that's stuck with it- that has to deal with it. I've heard that same bullcrap my entire life."
"It's fine. It's just a touchy subject. When I dropped out no one knew why- I was only failing because I didn't do the work. Eventually, I got my GED, ended up here." The room stayed quiet for several moments, each of them lost in their own thoughts.
"This is it isn't it? What we're stuck with?"
"He's getting philosophical."
"Yeah, just let him be." Eventually they floated off to their own rooms, content, and thinking about information as it had been revealed.
A/N: Hey all. There's going to be about another chapter of exposition and then the plot is going to start coming in heavy, so get ready for that!