Chapter 1: We Were Barely Eighteen

"Dean, wake up. I can't be late on the first day!" Dean groaned and pulled his pillow over his eyes, fighting against the light from the opened door.

"I'm not a girl, Sammy. I don't take three hours to get ready," he snapped back. Sam scowled.

"It's not Sammy, Dean. I'm a freshman now. Don't call me that."

Dean grinned as he sat up in bed and threw the covers off.

"Sorry, Sammy. Breakfast ready yet?" Sam frowned and shrugged.

"I don't know. Find out for yourself, jerk." He turned and walked down the hall.

"Bitch!" Dean called after him, stepping out of bed and picking up a clean shirt off his floor.

Ten minutes later, Dean pounded down the stairs and slid into his chair at the table. John Winchester looked up from his paper over the rim of his glasses and rolled his eyes as Dean nearly started to drool over the pancakes his mom had laid out for him.

"Are you excited for your first day, Dean?" Mary asked as she sat down next to John with her own plate.

"First day of your last year," John added. Dean grinned around a mouthful of breakfast.

"Yeah, I'm excited. Finally get to get out of there and work full-time for Bobby." Mary frowned.

"College, Dean," she reminded gently. He looked up at his mother and nodded.

"Yeah, college." Mary smiled and patted Dean's hand before cutting into her own pancakes.

"Where's Sam?" John asked, craning his neck to look to the stairs. Dean shrugged.

"Probably doing his makeup." Mary opened her mouth to reprimand Dean's teasing, but Sam hit the bottom step and smacked the back of Dean's head.

"I don't wear makeup, Dean. I just like to look nice." Dean batted his eyelashes at Sam mockingly.

"Quit it, boys," John intervened as Sam started to snap back. His voice was stern, but the glint in his eyes told them he was amused with their antics.

"Are you taking the Impala, Dean?" John asked his oldest child. Dean's face lit up.

"Can I?" he asked, trying to disguise the excitement in his voice. He did a poor job of it.

"Well you worked your ass off all summer to fix her up, so I'd say that's fair." Dean grinned.

"Great, I'm going to die before we get there," Sam moaned, dropping his head into his hands. Dean kicked him under the table.

"Ow! Watch it, Dean!" Sam cried out dramatically. Dean just laughed.

Dean took the drive to school very seriously. Before they left, he checked the air pressure in the tires of the car and even whipped a rag out of nowhere to polish a smudge on the passenger door. Sam stood behind him, sighing in impatience and checking the time on his phone at least twice before he pushed past Dean and threw open the door to the car.

"Watch it, Sam! Be careful with Baby!" Sam scowled petulantly and threw his bag in the back seat.

"It's a car, Dean. Now get in it and drive me to school!" Dean shook his head and patted the hood of the car as he walked by.

"Don't listen to him, Baby. You're more than just a car to me." He winked at Sam through the windshield as his younger brother threw his hands in the air with exasperation.

"Listen to that engine purr," Dean praised as he turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of the driveway.

"Christ, would you shut up about the car, Dean?" Sam exclaimed, crossing his arms over his chest and turning to look out the window as Dean put the car into gear and plowed forward.

"What's got your panties in a twist, Sam?" He glanced over at his brother, who refused to meet his gaze.

"I'm nervous," Sam eventually muttered back. Dean chuckled and reached over to ruffle Sam's hair. He jerked his head back and then looked apologetically up at Dean.

"What for?" Sam shrugged.

"I'm not you. I'm not cool or whatever," he answered quietly.

"You'll be fine, Sam. If anyone gives you trouble, tell me. I'll deal with it." Sam shook his head.

"Don't beat anyone up for me. Seriously. That'll make me look like a wimp." Dean smiled at his brother before they pulled into the parking lot. Dean circled for a solid five minutes, looking for a spot close to the front where he wouldn't be in danger of someone dinging up the car. When he finally found an acceptable place, Sam bolted out of the car and walked up the path to the school by himself, backpack hoisted up on his shoulders and head down.

Dean took his time walking in and emptying his things into his locker. He waved hello to a few of his friends as they passed by him in the hallway. A glance down at his schedule told him that he had biology first period, but there was still ten minutes until he had to be there.

"Well look who it is. Dean Winchester!" Dean glanced up and his face split into a goofy grin.

"Well Joanna Harvelle, to what do I owe the pleasure?" Dean jested, extending a hand to Jo. She slapped it away and laughed, pulling Dean into a tight hug.

"I didn't see you all summer, Dean! What gives?" She chastised, pulling back to smack Dean's shoulder.

"I was working on Baby all summer, Jo. You knew that." Jo stuck her tongue out and shook her head.

"An old Chevy over your little sister. I feel important," she teased, leaning against the locker next to Dean's, holding her books to her chest.

"I'll make it up to you," Dean promised. Jo smiled.

"Damn straight you will. Let me see your schedule." Dean handed her the piece of paper and she looked, eyebrows furrowed.

"Lunch, but that's it," she announced, handing Dean the piece of paper with a shrug.

"Damn." Dean tucked his schedule into the pocket of his leather jacket.

"How was your summer?" He asked. Jo sighed and shook her head.

"I didn't have one. Mom had me working bar all summer again. I can't tell you how many times I got hit on by creepy guys." Dean chuckled.

"You still working weekends, too?" Jo nodded.

"Yeah, but I can't serve you anymore. Mom got too pissed last time." Dean pouted momentarily but then Jo smacked his shoulder again.

"Get over it, Winchester. You can get your fix at somewhere other than the Roadhouse." The warning bell rang and Jo jumped back from the locker.

"See you at lunch, Dean! And you can make it up to me by giving me a ride home!" Dean nodded his agreement and grabbed his notebook for biology before heading down the hall.

He settled in to a seat in the back row and watched as the rest of the class filtered in. Friends sat next to each other and started mindlessly gossiping about their summers and stories they had heard. By the time the teacher walked in, every seat was taken except for the one next to Dean's, and it didn't look like any more students were coming in.

"Good morning class. I know it's early but could I please have you guys at least pretend to listen?" A few students chuckled as they turned in their seats towards the front of the room, where their teacher was standing in the center of the floor, looking them over.

"I recognize none of you. Excellent. Fresh meat." She grinned and a few more people laughed nervously.

"I'm Pamela Barnes, and you can call me Pamela. I don't want to hear Misses Barnes or Miss Barnes or Barnes. None of that. I'm just Pamela, understand?" The class nodded and Dean couldn't hold back a grin. He could tell he'd like this class.

"Now, let's try this again. Good morning class."

"Morning Pamela," several students replied. Pamela grinned and moved to her desk to grab the attendance roster.

"There are twenty-nine of you here. Who are we missing?" Her eyes danced around the room again, landing on the empty seat next to Dean's before she started calling out roll.

Twelve names in the door opened and a winded boy stepped in. His brown hair was so dark it was almost black, and he was wearing a pair of dark jeans and a long-sleeved, navy blue shirt. Dean watched as the boy glanced around the room, face red and hair disheveled.

"Well, you must be the missing student. What's your name, kid?" Pamela asked, glancing up from her clipboard.

"Castiel Novak," he answered, straightening up. A few people giggled at his name and Dean saw his eyes flick towards the students. Pamela looked disapprovingly towards the gigglers and then back at Castiel.

"Well hey there, Castiel. Why don't you take a seat next to Mister Handsome over there in the back," she said, gesturing towards Dean. Dean's face flushed and he slunk down in his chair slightly as Pamela winked at him. Castiel looked confused, but he nodded and walked quickly to where Pamela had pointed him, muttering an apology for his lateness.

"Hello," he greeted quietly as he sat.

"Hey. Name's Dean," Dean responded, offering his hand. Castiel shook it awkwardly.

"Dean," Castiel repeated, taking out a notebook and a folder. "It's nice to meet you." Dean nodded.

"Are you new?" he asked Castiel. The boy looked up at him and Dean sucked in a quick breath. He had the bluest eyes Dean had ever seen on anyone. They were like an ocean, expression plainly showing through them. Dean shook his head to clear the strange cloud of emotion that had appeared in his mind.

"Yes. I've lived here my whole life, but this is my first year of public school." Dean nodded.

"Homeschooled, then?" Castiel shook his head.

"No. Private schooled," he responded, looking up as Pamela called his name.

"Here," he said shortly. Pamela winked at him and moved on down the list.

"Why start public school now?" Castiel looked sharply at Dean and the eldest Winchester recoiled slightly at his scrutinizing glare.

"Sorry, man. Just curious." Castiel looked down at the paper and shook his head.

"My apologies, Dean. I'm slightly uncomfortable with the prospect of public schooling still." He spoke so formally that it took Dean a second to process what he had said.

"It's chill. Can I see your schedule?" Castiel nodded as he pulled out the piece of paper and handed it off to Dean.

"We seriously have every class together. Awesome. I can help show you around?" Dean offered as he handed the paper back. Castiel looked up at him and smiled.

"I'd like that, Dean. Thank you." Dean couldn't help the flush that rushed up the back of his neck at the sincerity of Castiel's words.

"No problem, Cas." Castiel squinted his eyes and Dean nearly instantly regretted shortening the name.

"Sorry, I meant Castiel," Dean mumbled awkwardly, running a hand over the back of his neck.

"No, it's alright. No one has ever called me anything except my given name before. I like it." He smiled at Dean.

"Cool. Cas it is," Dean decided, meeting Castiel's gaze.

Castiel's gaze was filled with so much intensity and meaning that Dean nearly fell of his chair with it. He wasn't just looking at Dean to look. It was like he was studying Dean's soul, trying to find out about him.

"And Mister Handsome must be Dean," Pamela announced, breaking the tension that was radiating around the boys in the back. Dean flushed again and waved at Pamela.

"That would be me, ma'am." Pamela winked at him again.

"Have we met before?" Dean asked quietly as Pamela set her clipboard down and passed around the syllabus for the class. Castiel shook his head.

"Are you sure?" Castiel nodded.

"Because I feel like I know you." Castiel nodded again.

"Yes, I know. I don't even know your last name," Castiel pointed out.

"Uh, Winchester," Dean mumbled, feeling stupid. He had basically used a pickup line on a guy he had just met, who he was pretty sure was straight.

"Well thank you, Dean Winchester, for being the first person to reach out to me." Castiel handed Dean a syllabus and then flipped to the second page, where Pamela was reading out lab safety instructions.

"And now if Mister Handsome and Blue Eyes would like to focus their attention to the front of the room, I'll continue on," Pamela drawled, looking pointedly at them, corners of her mouth turned up into a small smile. Castiel nodded his head and looked intently forward. Dean shrugged and leaned back in the seat. It looked like today was going to turn out alright.

When their lunch slot finally rolled around at noon, Dean took it upon himself to show Castiel the ropes of their school's lunch line. As they stepped out with their trays, Dean looked around the room and then pointed to a table.

"That's my brother," he pointed to Sam and then waved to catch Sam's attention. He gave Dean a little wave and then pretended to ignore his older brother. Dean chuckled and looked to Castiel.

"That's my brother," Castiel said, gesturing to where a boy was walking into the lunchroom, sucking on a lollipop and glancing around. Sam looked up when he walked in and waved to the boy, who made a beeline for the younger Winchester.

"It appears," Castiel said slowly, "that Gabriel and Sam know each other." Dean nodded and motioned for Cas to follow him to the table.

"Hey Sam. Calm down, we're not going to sit here." Sam exhaled and then looked up at Cas.

"Well hey Cassie," Gabriel exclaimed, winking at his older brother. Castiel seemed to visually stiffen.

"Hello, Gabriel." Castiel turned to Sam and extended his hand. "Castiel Novak. Dean has told me about you. It's good to meet you, Sam." Sam shook Cas' hand and then turned to Gabriel.

"So this is Cassie? Where are the other two?" Gabriel shrugged and sucked on the lollipop.

"Who cares?" Sam laughed and looked up at Dean.

"So, uh, bye now." Dean frowned at his brother.

"I can feel the love, Sammy. Nice meeting you, Gabriel." Gabriel waved goodbye to Dean and Castiel before turning to Sam and beginning an animated conversation about comic books.

"You have more than one sibling?" Dean asked as they sat down at an empty table. Castiel nodded.

"Yes, I have five." Dean whistled through his teeth.

"Your parents were busy," he joked. Cas offered him a small grin and nodded.

"I suppose so. Do you have just Sam, then?"

"Yup. Just me and Sammy," Dean answered around a mouthful of food. Castiel grimaced and shook his head.

"Sam is in Gabriel's grade?" Dean nodded and swallowed.

"Yeah, but he's smarter than anyone I've ever met. He basically has a shot at scholarships for anywhere he wants, but he really wants to go to Harvard. He can make it," Dean spoke fondly of his brother. Cas smiled.

"You're quite proud of him."

"Absolutely," Dean replied. "What about your siblings?" Castiel shrugged.

"My brother Uriel is the preacher at the church here. I think he's thirty-two now. Raphael is 30 and lives in California. He's going to school for something pretentious last I heard. Anael is 25. We don't speak to her. Michael, Lucifer and I are triplets, and Gabriel is fourteen," Castiel finished, slightly out of breath.

"Damn, that's a lot of kids. And Uriel sounds familiar. I don't go to church, but I know of it." Everyone knew of that church. It was notorious for it's strictness and devoutness.

"Yes, there are a lot of us," Castiel affirmed.

"Look, don't take this the wrong way… But Lucifer?" Dean asked incredulously. Castiel chuckled and nodded.

"Yes, our father had an obsession with angels. We're all named for them."

"And I thought I was named after something weird," Dean muttered. Castiel frowned.

"Angels aren't weird. Just their names." Dean laughed at Cas.

"Sorry, man. So where are your brothers?" Castiel shrugged.

"Michael is in the library. Lucifer is probably with him." Dean raised his eyebrows.

"The library during lunch. Why?" Castiel sighed and pulled out his cellphone, checking a message.

"Because Michael doesn't want to associate with the 'sinners' of the school. He's a bit of a fanatic," Castiel replied, sliding his phone shut.

"Wow, harsh. Only half of us are sinners," Dean winked. Castiel shook his head, a smile playing at the corners of his lips.

"I think Lucifer will be joining us, if that's alright." Dean shrugged.

"That's fine with me. Jo should be around in a sec, too."

"Jo?" Castiel asked, craning his head as he looked for his brother.

"Yeah, my friend Jo," Dean responded. Cas nodded and then waved a hand in the air, motioning over a tall, fair-haired boy. He was wearing a white sweatshirt and dark jeans, and looked nothing like Castiel.

"Hey Cassie. Who's your friend?" Castiel frowned.

"Would you all stop calling me that? It's Castiel." Lucifer shrugged and plopped down next to his brother.

"I know your name, Castiel. I prefer to make your life unbearable. My job as a big brother." Castiel frowned again.

"You're older by two minutes, Lucifer. Shut it." Lucifer sighed dramatically.

"Oh, I'm so wounded. Your words hurt, darling brother." Castiel grew red and looked at Dean apologetically.

"Dean, this is Lucifer. Lucifer, this is my friend Dean." Lucifer nodded at Dean.

"Nice to meet you, Dean." Dean opened his mouth to say the same, but suddenly Jo was sitting down next to him, a firestorm of blond curls and anger.

"I freaking hate this place. Honestly! My classes are filled with idiots and I have no friends!" She huffed, slamming her tray down.

"Hello to you, too," Dean muttered sarcastically. Jo looked up from her tray and noticed the other two boys there.

"Oh, God. I'm sorry. Who are these strapping young lads?" She teased.

"My name is Castiel. This is my brother." Jo waved to Cas and then looked at Lucifer.

"Hey, brother of Castiel. Got a name?" Lucifer smirked and leaned forward, putting his elbows on the table and folded his fingers under his chin.

"The name's Lucifer, like the devil. Except I am far cooler." Jo blushed as Lucifer reached across the table to shake her hand. Dean scowled at him.

"I'm Jo," she responded breathlessly. Dean gaped. Jo never flirted with guys.

"Hello Jo. Quite the beauty." Lucifer winked at her and Dean nearly growled.

"Watch it," he muttered. Jo slapped him on the shoulder.

"Is the lady taken?" Lucifer asked, eyeing Dean up. Dean shook his head.

"No, but the lady is like my little sister." Jo sighed.

"Honestly, big brother. I work at a bar. I can handle myself." Lucifer chuckled and Castiel shook his head.

"Please ignore my brother. He has an issue with boundaries," Castiel explained, shooting Lucifer a scathing glare. Lucifer shrugged.

"What else can I say when confronted by such a gorgeous woman like Jo?" Dean nearly gagged as Jo uncharacteristically giggled; hand over her mouth like she was in some sort of old film.

"Lucifer," Castiel snapped. Lucifer looked up at Castiel and batted his eyelashes.

"Yes, little bro?" Castiel's face reddened again and he took a shaking breath, obviously irritated with his brother.

"Will Michael be joining us?" Lucifer laughed and shook his head.

"No, and that was a stupid question. Of course he won't eat lunch with us. He doesn't want to associate with anyone of the 'lower faith'," Lucifer responded, putting air-quotes around the last part. Castiel sighed.

"So is Michael more devout than you two or whatever?" Dean asked. Lucifer and Castiel both nodded in unison.

"Without a doubt. He's almost as bad as dad," Lucifer chuckled.

"Father wasn't that bad, Lucifer," Castiel chastised. Lucifer rolled his eyes.

"Dad was insane, Cassie." Lucifer switched his gaze back to Jo. "He wouldn't even let us watch television. Hell, we still can't."

"Well maybe you can come over sometime and watch it at my house," she offered. Lucifer grinned and nodded.

"I'd love that. Can I get your number?" Dean nearly vomited in his mouth and Castiel offered a solitary shake of his head.

"Hey, Cas, you should give me your number, too," Dean said suddenly. Castiel nodded and took out his cellphone, opening a new contact page and handing it over to Dean. He put his number in and then sent a text to his phone.

"Sweet," Dean grinned. Castiel smiled back. Jo watched the exchange with a slight smirk.

Dean dropped Sam off at home and ran in to tell his parents that he was going to the Roadhouse for a few hours to hang out with Jo and do homework together.

"You like him," Jo announced as soon as Dean climbed back in the car. He remained silent, ignoring Jo's stare as he pulled out of his driveway and headed in the direction of the Roadhouse.

"Don't you ignore me, Dean Winchester. You like Castiel." Dean shrugged.

"So what if I do? Didn't you hear him talk about his family? He's straighter than a rod and more Catholic than I can handle," he grumbled.

"That boy is not straight, Dean. He looks at you like you're a prime rib." Dean shuddered at the imagery.

"No, he's just really weird. He's like that with everyone." Jo shook her head.

"He barely glanced at me, Dean. I'm telling you; prime rib." Dean groaned in annoyance.

"Shut it, Jo. Sometimes I regret telling you that I'm gay," he muttered. Jo laughed.

"No you don't. You like to gossip about boys with me," she reminded him. Dean shook his head and chuckled.

"I don't know why. You have awful taste in men, Jo. I mean, his name is Lucifer. Really, Jo? Really?" Jo stuck her tongue out at Dean.

"He's hotter than Hell, Dean. And charming."

"The charming ones are usually the worst, Jo. Look at me." It was true. Dean had a notorious reputation for dating and breaking the hearts of all the girls. All through high school he had been the definition of a lady's man, but it had all come to a screeching halt midway through last year when Dean realized that he was, as Jo put it, "Gayer than a fashion magazine". She insisted that she had known the entire time, and Dean and made her swear to keep her mouth shut. He had no idea how his parents or Sam felt about gay things, and he didn't want to find out in a bad way.

"Are you telling me that Lucifer will date the entire school and then realize that he's gay?" she teased.

"No. Just watch yourself, alright?" Jo nodded, her way of dropping the subject. She didn't bring it back up until they were halfway through their homework.

"Let's talk more about Castiel." Dean put his sheet down and glared at her.

"Can't let it drop, can you?" Jo laughed.

"Nope. Have you texted him yet?" she asked, crossing her arms and leaning back in the booth they had occupied in the corner of the noisy bar.

"Don't have a reason to." Jo rolled her eyes.

"You don't need a reason, idiot. Make one up if you're that much of a bitch." Dean straightened up and scowled.

"I'm not a bitch, Jo. I just don't want to be creepy and hit on my straight friend."

"Not straight!" Jo sang.

Dean opened his mouth to snap back at her, but his phone vibrated in his pocket and he nearly dropped his schoolwork in his rush to pull it out.

"Is it your boyfriend?" Jo asked, leaning across the table to see.

"Not my boyfriend. Not even interested," Dean reminded, opening up the text.

"This is Castiel. I just wanted to thank you for making my first day at school bearable. Lucifer wants to thank you for letting him with us at lunch." Jo read the message upside down and grinned.

"A flaming heterosexual," she said, voice laced with sarcasm. Dean ignored her.

"Hey Cas, no problem. See you tomorrow."

"That's it?" Jo demanded. "No declarations of love?"

"I'm about done with you, Joanna Beth Harvelle," Dean snapped.

"Did I just hear my girl's full name? What'd she do this time, Dean?" Dean looked up to see Ellen Harvelle smiling at him, two bottles of root beer in her hand and an old towel slung over her shoulder.

"I refuse to stay out of his sex life," Jo answered, taking the root beers from her mom and handing one to Dean.

"Do not need to know, Jo. You tell her, Dean." Ellen winked as she walked away.

"Have you heard from Satan yet?" Dean asked, aiming for some payback.

"I've been texting him since we left school. He's coming over Thursday," Jo answered triumphantly.

"Fantastic," Dean answered blandly, reading another message on his phone.

"See you tomorrow, Dean Winchester." Dean's heart fluttered for some reason and he was sure his face grew an uncomfortable shade of red. Just as he was slipping his phone away, another text rang in.

"I'm sorry if this is a strange question, but do you know of anything to do in this town? I haven't really had time for activities because of the private school, but I find myself with quite a lot of time on my hands now." Dean's face split into a wide smile and Jo scrambled across the table to see what the text said.

"There's only stuff to do if you know the right places to go. You free this weekend?" He hesitated a moment before Jo nudged him in encouragement and all but reached for his phone to send the text herself.

"If I just screwed over a new friendship, I will string you from the rafters," he threatened. Jo just laughed and shook her head.

"For a gay guy, your gaydar is sadly lacking."

Dean's phone buzzed.

"Yes, I am free. Does Friday after school work for you?" Dean looked up at Jo.

"You up for a party on Friday?" Jo grinned.

"Oh, absolutely."

The week seemed to crawl by after the first day. Dean's only drive to get up and go to school was to see Castiel, not that he would ever admit that to anyone. As the week progressed, he started to notice some things about Castiel.

For one, his eyes always looked different. They were still the same brilliant shade of blue, but there was always different expressions playing in them.

Secondly, the dude had a major personal space issue. He was always standing close enough to Dean that their arms were touching, or when they sat next to each other, knees were in constantly contact. He reached out to touch Dean's arm or shoulder to get his attention more than what was socially acceptable.

Thirdly, he stared at Dean constantly. Every time Dean glanced over, Castiel was openly staring at him, blue eyes narrowed slightly. He didn't even bother looking away when Dean noticed him. He would just narrow his eyes more and nod.

Perhaps most concerning was that Dean honestly didn't care. If it had been anyone else boring holes into his head with their unrelenting gaze, it would have probably concerned him. But it was Cas, and that was fine.

As the week wore on, Castiel opened up more about his family and his life before then. Castiel told him bits and pieces of his family's history; their father had died six months ago and Uriel couldn't afford to send them to the private school anymore. They didn't speak to Anael because she had left the church and Uriel had forbidden them from speaking to her. Raphael was on decent terms with his them because he still had faith, but Uriel and their father hadn't approved of his decision to stray from the family.

Michael had been the closest to their father and Uriel, and was devastated when their father had died. He turned to his faith and depended on it more than ever before, and it had started driving a wedge between himself and Lucifer and Cas. It didn't bother either of them much, though. Michael had always been what Dean could only describe as a dick to his younger siblings. He didn't even speak to Gabriel unless it was to reprimand him.

Lucifer and Gabriel caused the most trouble around the house. Both of them had reserved beliefs about religion, and had made it clear to Michael and Uriel that they thought they were taking it too far. Castiel shared their beliefs but kept them to himself, not wanting to cause strain in the house.

"It's like we're always walking on eggshells," Castiel had explained. "One wrong move can set off Michael or Uriel, and then there's always some sort of punishment or prayer for our wrongdoings."

In turn, Dean told Castiel about his family. He talked about his mom and dad, who had been high school sweethearts and had gotten married right out of their senior year. His dad joined the navy and he and Mary had moved around a lot in the early years of their marriage. When his dad was finally done, they had settled down in Lawrence, Kansas and Mary went to school to get her teaching license while John and Bobby opened up an auto-shop. They had had Dean shortly after that, and Sam came along four years later. Dean had told Castiel that he hadn't initially wanted to go to college, but he was going to because he wanted Mary to be proud of him. He talked about Sam some more, and about how proud he was of his little brother. Dean found it easy to open up to Castiel, and Castiel liked to listen.

Thursday night found Dean and Jo cleaning out the Roadhouse, setting up for the party the next day. Ellen had been nice enough agree to close up shop for the night and let the kids have their party as long as Jo had complied to scrub the place down.

"God, this place is filthy," Jo complained as she opened up another garbage bag. Dean nodded. He was sweeping the floors and sweating. They had been at it for two hours and had just finished clearing out all the old bottles of beer and whiskey that had accumulated.

"Who's coming tomorrow?" he asked. Jo shrugged.

"Most of the grade, I think. They usually show up when I throw parties," Jo smirked. "Did you invite Sam?" Dean shook his head sharply.

"Hell no. I think he's having Gabriel over, anyways." Gabriel and Sam had instantly become friends. The youngest Novak was always around Sam, and Sam didn't seem to care in the slightest. Dean was secretly relieved that Sam had found a decent friend so quickly in the school.

"Hey, do Castiel and Lucifer even drink?" Jo asked suddenly. Dean paused and then slowly shook his head.

"No, I don't think so. I mean, I really doubt it. We can just have sodas." Jo nodded.

"That's fine. I don't want to have to worry about sneaking alcohol. Mom will kill me if she finds out." Dean laughed.

"Ellen wouldn't hurt a fly."

"That's what you think, but you're not her daughter," Jo pointed out, throwing another garbage bag to Dean to put on the pile.

"So how are things with Castiel?" Jo asked, leaning against the wall. Dean shrugged.

"Same as always. He's been telling me about his family recently. They're just as crazy as we thought. His older sister left their church and they don't even talk to her anymore because of it." Jo whistled through her teeth.

"Damn. That's not right." Dean shook his head and tried to imagine himself shunning Sam from his life. He couldn't even imagine being mad enough at Sam to do that.

"Hey, Dean, I know you don't want to talk about this anymore but I can't help it," Jo started. Dean sighed and prepared himself.

"About Cas?"

"Yeah, about Cas. Does he know?" Dean scoffed.

"That I like guys? No. It was hard enough to tell you, Jo. And you're not obsessed with God." Jo rolled her eyes.

"Have you told your parents yet?" Dean shook his head.

"Sam?" Another no.

"Jesus, Dean. Why not?" Dean shrugged irritably.

"I don't know, Jo. I don't know how they'd react to it. Can we drop it, please?" Jo nodded sadly and went back to sweeping.

"I didn't mean to snap, Jo. C'mere." Dean opened his arms and walked over to Jo, hugging her too tightly.

"You big softie," Jo muttered. Dean laughed.

"Castiel, it is time for the evening meal and prayer." Castiel looked up from his textbook and to his door, which Michael was standing in.

"I will be down in a moment, brother." Michael nodded stiffly and then disappeared. Castiel listened to his footsteps down the stairs before he stood and stretched, walking into the bathroom off his bedroom to wash up for dinner. He had been trying to study for an exam that was two weeks away, but he was having a hard time focusing. He still hadn't asked for Uriel's permission to go to the party that Dean was having the next day, and he wasn't entirely sure how he was going to go about that. He had never before asked Uriel if he could do anything, much less go to an unsupervised party.

"Hey bro," Lucifer greeted as he walked into the room they shared. He dumped his backpack on the bed and collapsed quickly after it, phone out and texting before he hit the pillow.

"Hello, Lucifer. Have you asked Uriel about tomorrow yet?" Lucifer shook his head.

"I was going to let you handle that. He likes you more." Castiel shook his head, tempted to roll his eyes.

"He loves us all." Lucifer sighed dramatically and sat up.

"Yes, but he likes you the most," Lucifer reiterated. Castiel nodded.

"I'll ask him over dinner. Tell him that we're going to a friend's to study." As soon as the words left Castiel's mouth he felt guilty. Lucifer watched his brother crease his eyebrows and sighed.

"Lying's not always bad, Castiel. Especially when it's Uriel." Castiel nodded.

"It's dinnertime," Lucifer said, standing and waiting for his brother. Castiel nodded and followed Lucifer down the stairs.

The Novak house was large by anyone's standards. Their father had been wealthy during his life, and had treated his sons and daughters well. There were five bedrooms and four bathrooms spread across three levels and a basement. Uriel took up residence in the basement, where he could be virtually alone to do his studies. Lucifer and Castiel shared a room with an attached bathroom on the top level. Michael took the room next to him. Gabriel had the only room on the main floor. The empty rooms where Anael and Raphael used to sleep had been turned into offices. Their father's bedroom remained uninhabited. Castiel didn't even know if anyone had opened it since his death. He didn't really care to know. Castiel had never been close with his father.

The dining room was silent as always. Michael and Uriel were already seated, Uriel at the head of the large oak table and Michael to his right. Lucifer sat to the right of Michael and Castiel sat across the table from Lucifer, glancing up at his brother. His head was bowed, eyes closed in prayer. Michael and Uriel were also praying and seemed to not notice their arrival. Castiel followed their lead, and felt more than heard when Gabriel slid into the seat next to him.

Castiel knew he should be praying to thank for the food that had been provided for him, but he couldn't bring himself to say the proper prayer. Instead, he thought a quick, shortened prayer and kept his head bowed until Uriel cleared his throat in a signal to look up.

Talking wasn't allowed during dinner. They ate in silence as a way of thanking the Lord for their meal.

"Gabriel, would you clear the table for us?" Uriel asked at the end of dinner. Gabriel nodded and began collecting plates, haphazardly piling them atop each other and walking into the kitchen.

"Now, brothers, we shall talk." Uriel settled his folded hands on the table and looked to the triplets as he waited for Gabriel to return from the kitchen.

"How has your first week of public school been? Michael?" Gabriel looked to Michael and waited.

"It has been fine, brother. Their lack of faith is concerning, but I'm spreading God's word, just as He would want." Uriel nodded in approval and Michael stood and left the room. Uriel looked to Lucifer and waited.

"I am enjoying public school," Lucifer said as formally as he could. "I am learning much and I, too, am finding opportunities to spread the Word of God." Uriel nodded again and Lucifer stood, shooting a glance at Castiel before he walked up the stairs.

"And you, Castiel?" Cas cleared his throat.

"It is good. I've made two friends, and have been spreading the Word." Uriel frowned.

"And these friends, Castiel? Would father approve?" Castiel wasn't sure if Uriel was speaking of God or of their biological father, so he settled for a simple, "Yes, I believe so." Uriel paused for a moment before nodding as well.

"I have a question, brother," Castiel started. Uriel nodded and waited for Castiel to continue.

"Tomorrow after school, my friends are having a study session. May Lucifer and I go?" Uriel frowned and tapped his fingers on the table.

"Will there be alcohol there?"

"No." His frown lessened.

"You must be back before midnight, brother." Castiel smiled slightly in thanks and nearly sprinted up the stairs. Lucifer was waiting for him.

"Did you ask?" he demanded as soon as Castiel shut the door.

"Yes. He said we could go."

"Yes!" Lucifer exclaimed, pulling out his phone to text Jo.

Castiel sat on his bed and pulled out his cellphone, opening a text to Dean. His heart thumped as he typed, as it always did when he texted his friend.

"Lucifer and I can make it tomorrow night. Can you give me an address?" he sent the text and set his phone aside, popping open his textbook again.

"You're such a bore, brother. Do you do anything other than study?" Castiel ignored Lucifer, his attention drawn to his phone.

"I can drive you. Party's at five. I'll pick you up. What's your address? And I was wondering if you wanted to crash at my place after." Castiel's stomach lurched.

"I will ask Uriel, but I'm sure it will be fine." Castiel typed his address down and turned to Lucifer, who was still trying to get his attention.

"Castiel," he whined, "Pay attention to me." Cas looked up at him incredulously.

"For an older brother, you are terribly immature," Castiel responded calmly. Lucifer shrugged.

"I'm only two minutes older," he muttered. Castiel smiled, reaching for his phone.

"Sounds good. See you tomorrow in class. Have a good night, Cas! :-)". Castiel couldn't help the smile that split across his face.

"My point proven," he answered Lucifer. His brother scowled and his phone buzzed.

"Do you like Jo?" Castiel asked, watching his brother smile as he answered the text.

"Yes. Quite a bit, actually," he answered honestly. Castiel grinned.

"That's good. She's a very nice girl." Lucifer smiled and nodded.

"Uriel wouldn't approve, but he never does." Castiel nodded in agreement.

"Have you met anyone, brother?" Castiel's heart jumped into his throat and he swallowed loudly. Just Dean, he thought, but he didn't dare say that aloud.

The intensity of Castiel's feelings towards Dean scared him. There had been lots of beautiful girls at his private school, but he had never paid any attention to them. He had never wanted to. Never before had Castiel even thought about having profound feelings for anyone. None of the girls had interested him. It had crossed his mind before that he might be gay, but he had dismissed the thoughts quickly. They taught nearly every day that homosexuality was wrong, and Castiel aimed to live in life the way the Lord had intended. But did the Lord not also love everyone equally? Castiel had found more flaws in Uriel's and his school's teachings in the past week than he had thought possible.

Castiel had never thought he'd find someone to share a bond with like his mother and father had had together, but then there was Dean, and how he felt about Dean seemed to be beyond his grasp of words. It was something powerful, profound. It scared him.

"Earth to Castiel," Lucifer said loudly in his ear, snapping his fingers in front of Cas' face.

"No, I haven't. Sorry, I was focusing," Castiel muttered.

"On the wall?" Lucifer asked skeptically.

"I'm a bit preoccupied, Lucifer," Castiel snipped. Lucifer put his hands in the air, face twisted in mock hurt.

"Point taken. Be a nerd." Castiel didn't dignify Lucifer with a response.

"You've been irritable this week," Lucifer said slowly. Castiel ignored him.

"You know you can talk to me, brother," Lucifer said softly. "You know that I will love you no matter what you have to say." Castiel looked up at him, taken aback by Lucifer's uncharacteristic kindness.

"Yes, Lucifer. I know." Lucifer smiled and pulled his homework from his backpack.

The brothers spent the rest of their evening in quiet, finishing their homework and thinking distractedly of the next day.