He's been itching to put the whole damn place in his review mirror for weeks, but Sammy's always wanted to settle down and stay put and that's something Dean can actually do. He can't bring back either of their parents, or get Sam a car, or guarantee Sammy's college fund (but damnit he's gonna try), but he can quit uprooting him every few weeks. He can guarantee that tiny slither of stability, which is more than his brother's ever had before.

So, they've been back in Kansas for nearly six months – which is way longer than they've stayed anywhere since Sammy was six months old – and, whilst it's near Bobby and Ellen and Sam's happy and settled, Dean spends half his life wanting to hit something.

Not that Sammy knows about that. He's hiding how perturbing he finds the lack of movement from his little brother with tight smiles and the usual mildly-inappropriate jokes. Sam's near delirious over being in town long enough to join the mathletes and all the other stupid clubs he's been salivating over since Dean got them an apartment, so he hasn't noticed that Dean's probably drinking a little too much and not sleeping as well as he could. That's how it should be, though, because Sam's just a kid and he's had plenty of crap to deal with as of late.

"I'm just saying, Dean," Sam says, directing a slight bitch face at the burger and fries Dean picked up on his way back from work, before apparently deciding it's not a battle worth fighting. "Maybe you try talking about it."

It's about bloody typical that his little brother is the only fifteen year old who'd rather eat salad shakes and vegetables than real food, but that's an argument for just about every other day. Today, it seems, they've got a scheduled stop-trying-to-be-my-therapist-Sammy-argument, which is one of Dean's least favourite from the arsenal.

"What d'you want me to say, Sammy?" Dean complains, pushing Sam's plate towards him, "I kicked ass. It's done."

"Come on, Dean –"

"– quit busting my ass," Dean interjects, picking one of his fries from his plates with a half grin, "I'll tell Bobby you're being a little bitch."

"Jerk."

"Eat your damn burger, Sammy."

"Sam," Sam corrects, reluctantly reaching for his own burger. Dean's just about to breathe a sigh of relief over another successful deferral of that conversation, which his girly-little-brother just can't wait to have, when Sam pauses and sends him the puppy eyes. Jesus. "If you wanna talk about it, Dean, you know –"

" – yeah, I know," Dean grins, "you're itching for a slumber party. I get it. I'm fine. There's nothing to say. I'm covering Jo's shift tonight."

"What?" Sam asks, face falling into irritation. "Again?"

"Jo asked," Dean returns, but that's only half true and doesn't temper the guilt. He doesn't much like leaving Sam alone in the evenings, but if he picks up a couple of extra shifts and does Bobby a few favours, he might just be able to get Sammy a car for his sixteenth birthday.

"Well, I thought we could watch a movie or something," Sam says, glancing back at their television with a damn near pout. Boy looks so crestfallen Dean's half tempted to call in sick, but Ellen's known him since birth and can tell when he's faking and Jo might actually kill him for ditching out on the favour.

"Do your homework," Dean bites back, "we'll hang out tomorrow night, Sammy."

"What about your homework?"

"Christ, Sam," Dean complains.

"You said you'd try," Sam says, bitch face reinstated, "you promised me you'd try."

The whole thing is stupid.

Right before the car crash, Dad went on some weird kick where he seemed to regret drinking away their college funds and not really caring when Dean dropped out of high school, and started insisting that Dean should be going to college. Post-crash, Sam – who hadn't had a civil conversation with Dad in years – suddenly decided to take his word as law, near insisting that Dean enrol to do something at the community collegethe minute they'd settled.

"I'm trying," Dean says, "I still don't see the damn point, but I'm going to the damn classes –"

"– some of them," Sam says, "Some of them. And you've only read half your course books."

"Well, I'm busy,"

"Yeah," Sam says, "working double shifts at the Roadhouse, and the diner, and Bobby's when you promised me you'd try in school."

Sam doesn't know all that much about the crap load of medical bills. He doesn't know that Dean is trying to scrap together the money to buy a car. He doesn't know that Dean is near killing himself over working so damn hard because Sam's got to go to a good college or Dean will have failed him… and he's not going to know, because Sammy's a damn fifteen year old kid who has enough to deal with without realising how tight money is.

Anyway, it's partially Dean's fault. If he'd gotten a job right after the car crash, instead of wasting weeks rebuilding the Impala in Bobby's back yard (and taking a crow bar to it, just once), they'd be a bit more financially stable. Then, course, Dean had to get a job to prove to the authorities that he was more than capable of taking care of his kid brother… and now he'd got that sorted and settled, it was just a matter of picking up extra shifts and working his arse off till they had some savings again.

So, Dean would rather take the nagging about college, which he will study for shortly – for Sam – but first he needs to sort out Sam's car. Then, he'll do the other stuff.

"You're washing up," Dean says, standing up, "if you can reach the sink, short ass."

"I'm fifteen, Dean."

"Freaking baby. Can't way for you to grow the hell up," Dean says, but it's not really all that true because he's astounded at how quickly Sam's gotten old. It sort of sucks, because most fifteen year olds shouldn't have to deal with everything Sam's dealt with, but Dean still remembers that remarkable moment when Sam first started talking back, when he first started asking questions, when he first started complaining. He remembers with painful clarity the first time Sam ran away and it's terrifying that Sam's probably old enough to cut and run properly now. "And go to bed early, it's a school night."

He reminds himself daily that Sam promised him – in one of those stupid emotional chats in the wake of their Dad's deaths, when Sam talked and talked whilst Dean pretended not to be crying underneath the Impala – that he wasn't going to. Sam wasn't running.

"I hope Ellen keeps you till closing,"

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

Dean grins and reached for his keys.

Things had been bad for a couple of years. The last few months trying to balance Dad and Sammy had been awful and he didn't have much good to say for the past few years, except that for some of the time they were all together. Maybe that wasn't enough for them, but it had been enough for Dean, and now that was gone.

But, Sam was happy. Things had become more settled than Dean was comfortable with, but it was good for Sammy. They'd gotten to a state of normality Dean wouldn't have thought was possible.

Maybe, just maybe, he could cope with sticking around a little longer.

ooo

Ellen warns him ten minutes after he's arrived that there's a new guy starting tonight, which is pretty weird; Ellen's a stickler for keeping it in the family, so most of the people who work at the Roadhouse are some extension of a family friend, or a second cousin, or an ex-regular in need of a job.

New around the Roadhouse is a tad unprecedented.

"Sam all right?"

"Bitching about his lonely soul," Dean returns, setting up shop around the bar, "guess I can't blame the kid for missing me. I'm pretty awesome."

Ellen smirks.

"If this new guys any good you can clock off," Ellen says, passing him a beer, "get back to being a helicopter parent."

"Who's the guy anyway?"

"Castiel Novak," Ellen says, "student at the university."

"Broke as fuck?" Dean asks. Ellen's a bleeding heart with a mothering instinct, so he's not really surprised that she might fall for a broke student begging for a job; she lets him work despite her 'best instincts' telling her Dean should be busting his ass over college, not bartending. When he asks for extra shifts she gives them to him even if it means she's overstaffed, but Dean tends not to mention it. If it was just his pride involved, it'd be different, but it's Sammy he's gotta think about.

"Seems it," Ellen says, "walks in all desperate blue eyes and, well, you can tell the kids been through some crap. Said I'd try him out. You got customers, Dean, go remind me why I'm paying you."

"It's my pretty face and charm," Dean says, winking at one of the new customers. Ellen slaps the upside of his arm with an eye roll, before she disappears out back to go over some financial crap with Ash. Dean spends the next twenty minutes flirting with the blonde and getting a suitable tip for his efforts, before she disappears to go join her friends at her table.

It's a slow night, which means Dean's got plenty of time to get bored and tired. It's all right when he's in motion, serving tables and drinks and chatting up chicks, but when he stops the tiredness seems to seep through from his bones. That's when all the thoughts come back; about the lack of money, about college, about Sammy, and Dad, and sometimes even his Mom, and then the bank robbery and –

The door opens and a guy walks in that Dean doesn't recognise. Internally, he's explaining how much Dean has noticed the guy – because, yeah, he's staring – because of how obviously he doesn't fit in here. The Roadhouse's usual clientele are the slightly hardened seen-to-much types. He's used to seeing men wearing leather jackets and pissed off expressions. There's no trouble actually in the Roadhouse, because Ellen just wouldn't stand for it, but they're the kind of people who aren't really strangers to the concept.

And this guy's wearing a freaking trench coat which, by the way, he keeps on as he walks purposefully towards the bar.

"You ordering a drink?" Dean asks, doubtful, as the guy stares at him. Trenchcoat doesn't answer, but keeps staring, which stirs up something uncomfortable in Dean's gut.

The whole thing happened two months ago and he would have thought people might have gotten over it by now. Yeah, his picture was plastered over all the local press (and a couple of national newspapers) and they keep saying he saved a bunch of people's lives, but now the perks have worn off Dean can't stand the staring.

He ripped the newspaper cutting (the one where Dean was described as 'heroic' and 'patriotic' much to the amusement of Sam, Ellen and Jo) off from behind the bar a month after it had been placed there and the others got the hint to just not mention it. Except Sammy, of course, who's still desperate to be his personal therapist. Maybe if you just talked about it, Dean.

"You want to take a picture, Trenchcoat?" Dean asks, voice unnecessarily aggressive.

The man doesn't even blink.

It's then, Dean registers the blue eyes.

"Why would I –?"

"– Winchester here made the papers a few months back," Ellen says, stepping back into the bar, "and now he's paranoid and moody. This is Castiel, Dean,"

He doesn't look like he's been through crap to Dean. He looks like every other rich-boy student and that kinda pisses him off. They all have that knack of acting broke without understanding what it's like to not be able to buy food. It's probably because he hates feeling inferior and the college types always seem to oppose inferiority on him. Basically, Castiel Novak looks like a dick.

"Don't look much like bar material,"

"Which is why you're showing him the ropes," Ellen says.

"Hello, Dean," Castiel says, and his voice is rough and deep and not what Dean was expecting at all. The fact that his voice is gravelly and all kinds of bad ass doesn't change the fact that he's the last person Dean really wants to be dealing with, but Ellen's already abandoning him.

"You know how to pull a pint?"

"I understand the logistics."

"Right," Dean says, "the logistics. Well, let's see that in practice, then."

"It is not a complicated process," Castiel says, serious as anything.

So, naturally, it takes four attempts to produce something that Dean would consider drinking; and Dean is pretty much an anything-goes type when it comes to beer.

ooo

It's two parts frustration and two parts amusement, but God Castiel Novak is definitely from a different planet. "No, Cas," Dean says, "You can't change the barrel like that, you just, you gotta, here…"

And then he's showing him. Castiel seems to pick it up when Dean actually shows him but is apparently absolutely hopeless with verbal instructions. It's also pretty obvious that the guy has probably never set foot in a bar before, because he doesn't seem to understand anything about them.

Just twenty minutes ago, Dean had caught Castiel just stood at the bar staring at two girls in one of the booths. He had his head titled into this bizarre expression of bewilderment and when prompted, he'd just said 'I don't understand why the girl doesn't just approach the gentleman in the striped shirt, if she's so interested in sleeping with him.'

Dean had nearly choked on his own saliva. Then, he was laughing and he'd be damned if he remembered the last time he'd done that properly.

It had taken just under an hour for Dean to conclude that he hadn't got a hope in hell of going home early, and about an hour and a half until he started having a really good time.

"So, I bet you study something really nerdy?" Dean prompts, cleaning a dirty glass and watching Castiel's gaze travels round the Roadhouse's (gradually thinning) customers.

"Languages," Castiel offers, "modern and ancient."

"Huh," Dean says, "so you can pick up chicks in every language?" Castiel's gaze shifted from the rest of the bar and back onto Dean (who was unwillingly become used to the guys staring habit already). "Teach me some swearwords. How d'you say fuck off in Spanish?"

"Vete a la mierda,"

"Awesome," Dean grins, "how do you say...go to bed, you freaking baby?" Castiel gives him a look that suggests that's a pretty strange thing to be asking about, which Dean guesses is about right. "I got his little brother. He's doing a Spanish class and geeks-out over all this stuff."

"Try yo soy un imbécil."

"Right," Dean says, "Sammy will probably piss his pants."

"He pass your test, Dean?" Ellen asks, stepping out of the back with Ash and Jo this time.

"Yeah," Dean says, "Cas aint as bad as he looks."

"A ringing endorsement from Dean Winchester," Jo says, pulling herself up a chair, "you must be so pleased, Castiel."

She sounds pretty irritated, so there's a high chance that her date when down the pan. Dean's not really all that surprised because Jo is hot, but could totally eat all guys her age alive and he doesn't really see them going for the girl with the gun-collection. It's dumb, because Jo's awesome, but really not a big shock.

"You be polite, Joanna Beth," Ellen instructs, "now, Castiel, you just gotta pass the Harvelle test –"

" – oh, come on," Dean interrupts, glancing at Castiel feeling pretty worried. Yeah, Cas's arrival probably pulled Dean out of his own personal hell which probably helped twist Dean's opinion of him… but he's hilarious and brutally honest all by accident, which Dean thinks he can total dig. He's had one of the most enjoyable shifts for months (since before the incident) and he definitely wants Cas to stick around.

That's kind of worrying all by itself, because Dean doesn't form attachments to people all that easily. Usually, he likes a person if they do something dumb like say 'okie dokie,' or drive a sweet car, or whatever … but it's all pretty superficial and passing. He doesn't waste thoughts on people too much, but somehow Cas has gotten under his skin in the space of a single shift.

And he sure as shit ain't going to pass the Harvelle test.

"The guy wears a freaking trench coat," Dean complains, "you can't make someone in a holy tax accountant get up attempt your stupid test, Ellen."

"What is it?" Castiel asks.

"You gotta drink one of us under the table," Ellen grins, placing a bottle of tequila down on the bar. Dean stomach turns over because he's not quite over his last run in with tequila, which had also been all Ellen's fault. "Your pick." Castiel turns his gaze towards Dean, questioning.

"Don't look at me, Cas, I'm driving," Dean says, "besides, you haven't got a hope in hell on that account. And don't pick Ash. He might already smell like the backside of a brewery, but that doesn't mean he ain't got another half a bottle in him… and don't take on Jo, cause she'll beat your ass and then Ellen'll eat you alive for getting her underage daughter drunk."

"Which leaves me," Ellen says.

"Yeah," Dean says, glancing back at Castiel, "which means our resident nerd is screwed. Nice knowing you, Cas."

"Since Dean likes you so much," Ellen says, "I'm prepared to do you a deal. You impress me, Novak, you're hired for good."

"That's even worse," Dean complains, but he's pulling out the shot glasses anyway. "Ellen ain't easily impressed." He lines up four, because he thinks any more than that and Castiel will probably just die. He gets out the lime and the salt and balks at Castiel's confused expression. "You ever drunk Tequila?"

Castiel looks at him in a way that clearly says no Dean and after thirty seconds of staring at him and wondering how (before reminding himself about the trench coat), he turns to Ellen and Jo for support. Obviously, that doesn't really work out.

"You came in your car, Cas?"

"If you can call it that," Jo snorts, pouring herself a shot of tequila.

"I'll give you a lift home," Dean sighs, passing Jo a lime wedge.

"This is how it goes, Cas," Jo says. Jo-plus-alcohol is a weird phenomenon, because she's technically underage (only by a few months, as Jo likes to remind him)and fifty percent of the time Ellen likes to remind her of the fact… then occasions like this happen, and she takes a Tequila shot like a pro and Ellen usually seems pretty proud.

They've already called last orders, so there's just a bunch of the regulars finishing their last drinks, who are all too happy to migrate over to watch the new bartender be broken in the proper Harvelle way. Some of them are probably taking bets.

Castiel puts the salt on the back of his hand slightly awkwardly, but then he's a walking bag of awkward, as Dean pours the four shots with a feeling of trepidation.

The first one is pretty painless. Castiel seems to have barely tasted the Tequila, and Dean's pretty impressed considering it's his first time with the damnable stuff. Shot number two, three and four are all tackled in much the same systematic way, till they're all empty.

Then he looks up at Ellen.

"Not quite, kiddo," Ellen says, "pour them again, Dean."

"Jesus," Dean mutters, pouring another four with a grimace. He reaches for another lime and is about to start cutting it into wedges, when Castiel bursts into motion; number five goes down, neat, then six, and the shot glass gets placed the wrong way up, then seven and eight.

It takes about thirty seconds for all four to be drank and at least twice as long as that before any of them are capable of speaking.

"It's not the end of the world, kid," Ellen says, blinking.

"I think I'm starting to feel something," Castiel says, looking down at the shot glasses before looking up at Dean again. Dean's jaw is slightly slack and yeah that was freaking awesome.

"I like him," Jo says, decisively.

"Yeah, well, let's leave the angel alone now,"

Every single eye in the room turns to face Dean for a second before he releases quite what he said. Jo looks like she's about to laugh out loud and Ellen's biting back a proper grin. Ash had only just been paying attention to them as opposed to his mad computer, but he's certainly paying attention now.

"Angel?"

"My name is angelic," Castiel interjects, "I am named after the angel of Thursdays."

Dean swallows. Although the others are probably just going to assume Dean asked and Cas told him that stuff about his name, it's bad enough that Cas knows he didn't.

In his defence, he was going through some bad shit. Sam always had all this faith in the good and he used to pray pretty much every night (which he thinks Dean doesn't know about). Then Dad died and he was desperate and he picked up the freaking bible because he didn't know what else to do. And yeah, he came out the other end deciding that even if there was a God he was an arsehole, but wound up picking an interest in the old mythologies.

Since, he'd read a book on Norse Gods and came to the conclusion that it must suck to be a female Norse God. He'd read about the Greek Gods and decided they were all a massive bag of dicks. And he'd read about angels, because it turned out they were bad ass warriors of God rather than the hallmark cherub crap.

"Right," Jo said, "obviously,"

"Well, did he pass your test?"

"If he doesn't throw up before closing," Ellen says, "you got yourself a job, Cas."

"You ever had a job before, Cas?"

"No," Castiel returns, still sat very still on his bar stool, "have you?"

"Oh Dean's worked everywhere," Jo puts in, "restaurants, diners, bars, strip joints…"

"You wish I was a stripper, Joanna Beth."

"Drop the full name, Winchester," Jo returns, "and I like my men a little classier."

"Trenchcoat here's probably drunk enough by now," Dean says, and then Jo throws a tea towel at him and Dean's grinning. There'd been five years when his Dad had fallen out with Ellen and Jo, so until the funeral he hadn't seen either of them for years… so, it was a bit of a shock when Jo was suddenly twenty and sort of gorgeous, instead of just a kid. And he'd totally have tried it on if he wasn't terrified of Ellen (and Jo) and absolutely not interested in anything at all at the time.

It's better like this though. He likes the banter with Jo. He's glad there's minimal risk of him really fucking it up and her getting mad at her.

"Seems more interested in you, Dean," Jo says, quiet enough that Cas couldn't hear, before she swaggers out back and leaves them to it.

Dean glances back at Castiel and, yup, the guy's still staring at him. Although, given circumstances, it's frankly a miracle the guy can even stand.

"I can close up if you want to take your angel home," Ash says with a wink.

He's gonna be getting it in the neck for that comment until he's walking with a stick.

"Cas, you good to move?" Dean asks. There's only one guy left in the Roadhouse now and Ash can definitely handle him, so… "Right, let's head off."

They're out the door when he sees the monstrosity which seems to be Cas' car, "Jo wasn't kidding, huh," Dean mutters, leading Castiel to the Impala, "Cas, meet my baby, baby…meet Cas."

On the drive home, which turns out not to be too far outside Dean's way, Cas makes him laugh exactly seven times completely by accident. He's not half as drunk as Dean thinks he probably should be, but he figures maybe the Tequila hasn't hit him yet.

He's still pretty worried, so he walks Cas right up to his door… and if he leaves Cas his number, it's only because he wants Cas to inform him he's still alive tomorrow morning.

Sam's thankfully asleep when he gets in. Dean scribbles a note and leaves it on his bedside table before crawling to bed. It's one of the first nights for ages he's slept without drinking first.

Sammy,

Yo soy un imbécil.

Don't wake me up till five minutes before you need a lift to school. Exhausted.

Ps. New guy at work


As a note, I made Dean slightly older for things to work out here. So, Dean is 22 and Sam is 15 (nearly 16) which I hope you'll forgive me for. Also, this is the first time I've written any SPN fanfiction or any fanfiction that wasn't from an English-based fandom and I'm really weirded out by all the American-ness. I've never used most American Slang except in a reaaally ironic way and so I found this dialogue really difficult and it's probably terrible so PLEASE if you have any advice!