Chapter One (or that one time Dean puked in front of everyone and met a hot guy)
Dean's first lecture of the new year is in twenty minutes and he still isn't dressed. He's hungover as fuck. Clothing seems like a bad option, moving even worse. He's so hungover he doesn't even remember going out the night before. He doesn't even know how he could do that. Why would he ever be so stupid? He doesn't even have his list of students at home so he can email them.
Dean gets dressed quickly and looks in the mirror. His gray herringbone suit doesn't look as good as it normally does. Bobby, his tabby cat, is looking up at him. It's a judgmental look.
He shouldn't be allowed to have pets, he realizes as he yells at the animal to "Get the fuck away before I skin you!"
Even on his worst day he doesn't look so bad, but he's a little bloated and his green eyes are rimmed with red. He's kind of got a sexy purposefully disheveled thing going on if he lies to himself. Maybe his students will think it's cool to have a drunk for a professor.
His goddamn TA, Garth, is standing in the doorway to the classroom. His students have only been waiting for a few minutes. Garth has these giant, slightly scared eyes. He might be stoned. Dean can never be sure. Part of him doesn't really like the kid and then another part of him kinda loves him. He's the best TA Dean's ever had, so he keeps him around.
"You look hurt, man," Garth says, shaking his head.
Dean groans, "Shut the hell up."
He walks into the lecture hall and looks out at the faces of 150 bored freshmen. It's a stupid survey class to fulfill the arts credit the school requires. Kids take film because they think all they have to do is watch movies. Dean usually likes to fuck with them, but he needs to vomit. He needs to vomit like now and the only thing he has time to puke in is his brand new leather briefcase. He can't even make it to the trashcan.
"Jesus," Garth shouts as Dean empties whiskey and pie and burgers into his bag, effectively ruining his notebooks, DVDs, and a library book.
"Oh god I'm dying," Dean groans. "This is bad, this is very bad."
"Professor," Garth says, trying to sound like a professional in front of the students.
"Garth," Dean groans and another wave of food comes up. "Jesus fucking christ. How much did I eat? Garth, you idiot, pass out the syllabus and tell them all to fuck off until next class."
Dean runs out of the room, dumping his ruined briefcase into a trashcan and leaving his TA alone with 150 bewildered students.
Dean gets to the bathroom and gets it out of his system. He swishes some water around in his mouth and pops in a stick of gum. He goes back to his office. He probably has a toothbrush in there that he put away for one night stands or like late afternoon fucks. Sometimes you just need to get that out of your system and there's some hot young thing working at the library. When he gets to his office his door is propped open and he notices that there's a new plaque on the door under the one that's said his name for five years now.
Another desk has been shoved into the room, covering up some of Dean's favorite old movie posters. There's a new bookcase now too, covered in what looks like god bullshit and Dean really doesn't want anything to do with that. There's a man in a brow tweed suit with elbow patches sitting at the new desk, writing furiously into a notebook. He has tons of papers on his desk already and Dean's pretty sure that the desk wasn't there a week ago, or even a few days ago.
Dean clears his throat and the man turns. He has wide, almost ridiculously blue eyes. So blue that they make Dean feel embarrassed for one of the few times in his life. He never blushes. He puked in front of his class ten minutes ago and he manned up after that one. Now he's blushing. This guy's stupid blue eyes and pretty pink lips, that light shade of pink like roses or some shit, make Dean feel bad for being so hungover. He's so angry that he's practically sweating whiskey out and he probably smells and he doesn't look at all professional because he's ditched his briefcase and his hair isn't looking as good as it normally does.
"Hello, Dean," the man says like they've met before.
"Guess you already know my name then," Dean says with an awkward laugh as he sits down at his desk and grabs a bottle of water from the mini fridge.
"It's on the door," the man says.
"Oh," Dean says, sipping the water slowly. The last thing he needs is a fit of dry heaving. "Sorry. I didn't get yours."
"Castiel," he says. Dean's not sure if this is a first name or a last name. Either way, it's a weird fucking name. "I teach theology."
"Film," Dean says. "Why would they put us together?"
Castiel shrugs his thin shoulders, "Two useless degrees."
"Two useless professors." Dean smiles. People like his smile; it makes the corner of his eyes crinkle. Castiel continues looking at him like he's confused. Either it's not working because of the hangover or Castiel isn't interested. Either way Dean is disappointed. "So, Castiel a first name or a last name?"
Castiel shrugs again, "It's my first name. My last name is Novak and I think people call me Dr. Novak around here. Since we are to be sharing this office, I think Castiel...or Cas would be acceptable. I don't have a preference. Should I call you Dr. Winchester?"
"No," Dean says. "Cas. That's cool. People call you Cassie?"
"My brothers," he says and looks a little angry so Dean decides to leave that one alone.
"So theology," Dean says. "My little brother's getting his doctorate in theology right now."
"I know," Cas says. His voice is as deep as Dean's is and Dean feels like he needs to overcompensate. Their voices keep getting deeper as the conversation keeps going. "Sam Winchester. He's my TA for my three introductory classes."
"Oh," Dean says. "We live together and he still doesn't tell me this stuff. Crazy. Those introductory courses are the worst though. You'll get less eventually. I'm only down to one."
"It's not so bad. It's easier to get into things. They seem nice so far."
"I just booted in front of mine," Dean says.
He doesn't know why he's saying it. Maybe to prove to Cas that he doesn't care that Cas doesn't find his eye crinkling smile sexy. He doesn't need him to do that. Plenty of other sexy men and ladies would be all over that crinkle.
Cas lets out a nervous laugh, "Off to a rocky start."
"Yeah. I'm one those professors you shouldn't model yourself after."
"You have no idea," comes an exasperated but affectionate voice from the door.
""Sup broski," Dean says, looking at his younger brother, filling the doorway.
Sam lets himself into the room, ducking a little in the doorway. His head probably wouldn't hit the top of the door frame if he walked through it, but he doesn't want to take any chances.
"Hey," Sam says, pushing his ridiculous mane of hair behind his ears. "Garth told me you puked in front of your first class. Real classy, Dean."
"I don't know if I approve of you talking to Garth."
"He's a good guy. And he hasn't puked in front of any students yet."
Dean shrugs, "Give him time. Anyway, I'm sick."
"Hungover," Sam says, with a disapproving pinch of his lips. He turns to Cas and smiles. "Dr. Novak. Did you want to go over your class lists?"
"Yes," Cas says, standing up and gathering his papers together. "We can relocate to the library or—."
"Don't worry about it," Dean says. "I have to go buy a new briefcase and get my shit together for my next two classes. See you at home, Sammy."
Sam waves him away without saying anything else. Dean tries not to make a big show out of watching Cas when he leaves. He can't help it. He doesn't really know what to say to him. So he just mumbles a, "see you around, man," and hurries out of the door.
Dean has two afternoon classes back to back: American Noire of the 1930s and 40s, then a history of horror films. They're both done by six and he's out of the school, stopped at the store for some beer and chips, and home by 6:45. His last two classes were good. He likes those kids. He's had some of them all four years that they've been there and they've bonded in a weird teacher-student way where they're still a little scared of him and he kind of hates them sometimes. They make ending his day on a good note easier. But really, it's not that hard to be a step up from the beginning note. He gets to sit on the couch and watch football with his beer and snacks and the goddamn cat curled up next to him. He likes to keep his hand on Bobby's head, scratching just behind his little ear as they watch TV.
It's all perfect and calm and Dean can compose himself so that the rest of the semester goes off without a hitch, but then Sammy walks in with Cas trailing behind him. He's wearing a tan trench coat over his tweed suit and Dean bets he's pretty hot with all those layers. Then his brain goes quickly to what must be underneath those layers.
"I brought Dr. Novak," Sam says before Dean's brain can get too far.
"Apparently the library here closes early the first week," Cas says.
"Yeah, we didn't quite finish hashing things out, so I figured we could come back here and finish up. Would you like a beer, Dr. Novak?"
"Uhm," Cas says and looks to Dean who gives him a you-might-as-well look. "Yes. I guess so. And you may call me Cas as well, Sam. It would be unnecessarily formal for you to continue calling me Dr. Novak."
Dean feels a strong urge to roll his eyes. Unnecessarily formal has come and gone at this point.
"Will do. Dean?" Sam asks.
"You know it," Dean says. He stares adamantly at his brother's retreating back instead of watching Cas sit down on the other side of the couch.
Cas's hand reaches out to pet Bobby just as Dean is doing them same and their fingers touch. Dean pulls his hand away quickly.
"I apologize," Castiel says.
"No problem," Dean says. Seriously, brushing hands? They might as well be twelve. Maybe it's the formality. Maybe it's that he's really worried about getting hard, which is probably not actually reducing the probability of that. "How'd your classes go?"
Cas nods, "Well. It will be an interesting semester. I still have two that I haven't met yet."
"Same. How many classes do you have?"
"Six. What about you?"
"Just five," Dean says. "So is this your first year teaching?"
"I taught a couple of years at Harvard after I graduated. It's part of the grad program. But I needed to move away from, uh, everyone."
"Yeah," Dean says. "I'm not a big city fan myself. I get really overwhelmed really quickly."
"Where'd you get your degree?"
"Is it strange to be in New England after that?"
Dean shrugs, "No. I like it here."
He watches as his brother comes into the room with beers and hands them out. He can't help how his breath hitches when Cas brings the bottle to his lips.
"It's good to be with Sammy too," Dean says. "We're a package deal, you know."
"We're all the family we have," Sam explains, looking to Dean. "It's been like that for a while. We like to stick together. It was pretty convenient that we both wandered here to Portsmouth."
"There's a ton of us," Cas says and doesn't say anything else about his family for the rest of the night.
They keep it to small talk. Dean tries his hardest not to stare at Castiel the entire time, but he can't help it. Sam is really the one who ends up talking and shooting Dean angry glares. Dean can't fuck Sam's professors, which was a rule established as a condition of Sam coming to study here so they could be closer together. Still, Sam should know better than to bring his attractive professors home with him. There was only so much a guy could do.
Dean's a little more worried about how he's going to handle sharing an office with this guy. Dean's going to have to see him every time he goes into school. Four days a week he'll have to see this guy. He'll have to think about the stubble on his jaw and how it would feel scraping across his face or his stupid long fingers that Dean kind of wants all over himself. This stupid man who doesn't even care about how attractive Dean is, apparently. And he's sitting on the couch and Dean knows without a doubt that he's probably going to see this man every day until one of them gets another job or Dean screws it all up.
Sam has worked up an almighty bitchface by the time Cas leaves, awkwardly shaking both of their hands in farewell. Dean can feel the lecture coming and busies himself with collecting the beer bottles and taking them to the kitchen. He is very carefully rinsing them out and very carefully ignoring his hulking brother in the doorway when Sam finally cracks.
"So," he says, with his unnerving ability to pack a week's worth of guilt into one word. "You were quiet."
Dean shrugs nonchalantly. "Long day."
"Really? Trying to control your libido tire you out?"
"Wha—Sammy, come on—."
"Dean, you know the rules! No seducing my professors. Especially not my mentor professor." Sam is really in the zone now, and continues at breakneck speed. "It threatens to delegitimize my studies. You becoming… involved with my professor creates a clear conflict of interest and I am not going to let you waste my time like that."
Dean holds up his hands in a gesture of innocence. "Holy shit, Sammy. I didn't even do anything."
Dean is nearly blinded by the force of the bitchface. "Dean if I had a dollar for every minute you spent staring at his crotch—"
"In order to know I was staring at his crotch you would have to be looking too, Sammy, so maybe you should check yourself before you wreck yourself."
Dean returns his brother's glare. "I'm sorry, am I getting in trouble for being too quiet? Because that's what it feels like. I guess I could ramble on about myself at length for no apparent reason but that seemed a little—hm, what's the word, ridiculous."
Sam scowls darkly at him. "No flirting with Dr. Novak," he says.
Dean knows he shouldn't needle his brother, but he can't resist it. "Well, now, Sammy, I'm a pretty charming guy, and we are in pretty tight quarters. I can't be held accountable if your professor throws himself at me."
Sam grinds his teeth together and stomps out of the kitchen, knowing better than to engage with Dean when he's being childish. Which is probably more often than Dean would like to admit.