Rating: NC-17 (PG-13 for this chapter)

Summary: 1998 ~ Dean has always hated cats. Castiel loves them. Dean is a high school drop-out who seems to be going nowhere in life. Cas is a college student with big plans for his future. They are two completely different people whose paths manage to cross accidentally. Dean is smitten from the start. Cas is cold and reserved. Can Dean win him over? Or are they just not meant to be?

Pairings: Dean/Castiel (more in later parts)

Warnings: (for this chapter:) Swearing.

Author's notes: Hi! It's been a long time, guys. This is my new in-progress fic! I really hope you enjoy chapter one. Let me know what y'all think in the comments! All mistakes are my own :)

"The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy who loves you."

-Markus Zusak

~ Spring, 1998 ~

"It's a beautiful day here in Lawrence, Kansas with highs of around sixty-three degrees letting us know that spring has finally arrived. And, to add to all that glorious sunshine, here's some Guns 'n' Roses to get your day off to a great start. Enjoy."

As 'Paradise City' began seeping through the car radio speakers, Dean rolled his window down to allow the fresh, mild air to fill the car. His watch read 8.44am and Sam was sitting in the passenger seat doing some last minute studying with his shaggy hair rustling a little in the steady breeze.

Even though Dean was a little tired from having to get up so early to take his little brother to school since their mom had to go into work early, he couldn't help but smile as he tapped his fingers lightly against the steering wheel in time to the music. It was one of those days where the atmosphere was set simply by the weather. It was like a lazy summer's day in the middle of March. Everything felt right with the world and Dean couldn't find it in him to complain about anything as the sun shone down, painting the road ahead of them in a golden hue.

"So, big test today, Sasquatch?" Dean asked, glancing over at Sam who simply nodded in response.

"Biology," was the only answer Dean received right before Sam closed over his book and began mouthing silent words to himself as Dean chuckled fondly, shaking his head.

Dean admired his little brother so much. He knew that big brothers weren't really meant to look up to their little brothers, but he couldn't help it; the kid was freakin' smart, and a much better person than he'd ever be. But he worked way too hard. Or maybe Dean just didn't work hard enough and didn't really expect his brother to either. Sam had always been the brains of their family, ever since he was a little kid. Most siblings would've felt threatened by or jealous of Sam's intelligence, but Dean was just glad that at least one of them was able to make their parents proud.

Not that it took much to make their mom proud anyway. The moment Dean started walking she had apparently burst into tears, same when Sam began talking. Her love for them, even when they'd both been a handful at times, would never cease to amaze Dean. He smiled at the thought of what his mom would be like the day Sam graduated from college. She was going to be a proud, beautiful, sobbing mess and Dean was going to make sure he was there to hold her up and cheer for Sam from the audience at the same time.

Thanks to his daydreaming, Dean wasn't really paying one-hundred percent undivided attention to the road ahead. He was even humming along to Paradise City as he put a little more pressure on the accelerator, grinning to himself when Sam continuously told him to slow down. Maybe he should listen to his little brother a bit more.

"Dean!" Sam shouted as a tiny ball of fur suddenly scurried out onto the road, right into the Impala's path.

Dean cursed under his breath and tried to slow down, grip on the steering wheel tightening as memories of his last car crash filled his head. The squeal of brakes filled the air, but it was too late. The bumper of the car collided with the kitten quite roughly, sending it tumbling off its feet and falling sidewards onto the road in front of the Impala.

Once the car had finally fully stopped, Sam climbed out immediately, almost tripping over his backpack in his hurry to get to the injured cat. Dean took a moment to compose himself, taking deep breaths and trying not to think about that car crash ten years ago which killed his dad.

He watched out the window as his little brother fell to his knees beside the cat. He looked so concerned and worried about the thing that it seemed to rub off on Dean and he too was soon climbing out of the car to stare down at the fluffy little thing. It had black fur, a long tail, perky ears and a tiny pink nose.

The kitten was in obvious discomfort and making soft whimpering sounds as its blue eyes kept glancing up at Dean pleadingly. When Dean's gaze met Sam's, he noticed that he was giving him the same damn look that the cat was with a huge pout to go with it. He shook his head adamantly when he realized what Sam wanted him to do.

"Aha, no. Absolutely not," Dean said in his best stern voice, hands on his hips. "I don't have the money to take some stray to a vet."

"Not a vet. There's a shelter a few miles away. They take care of the cats then find them new homes and stuff," Sam replied, the tone of his voice almost begging and Dean was having a hard enough time trying to resist those big puppy-dog eyes. "Dean, please?"

Dean sighed heavily and looked away, thinking silently for a few moments. He knew that if he left the cat here to suffer, Sam would never forgive him. But, he was allergic and cat hairs would surely be all over the inside of the Impala afterward. Would he really risk sneezing his brain out of his nostrils every time he climbed into his own car for the sake of one stupid cat?

Apparently so because - after deciding that it was probably best to take the cat to the shelter to avoid Sam hating him for life - he glanced down at his little brother with a nod, but not before shooting the tiny kitten a glare. "Whatever. But, you owe me. And you're cleaning the car out when you get home."

The happiness on his little brother's face as he got to his feet, carrying the kitten protectively in his arms towards the Impala was heartwarming and rewarding. Dean knew he'd made the right decision. It wasn't like he'd have a lifetime commitment by taking the kitten to the shelter anyway, right?

About half an hour later, they arrived outside a building which looked like a warehouse from the outside. It had a huge sign above it reading, 'Kitty-Kats Rehoming & Rescue Centre'. Dean scoffed to himself at the overly-happy font and colours of the banner; he pictured the staff inside to be just as over-enthusiastic as the exterior of the building.

The truth was; Dean hated cats. Absolutely detested them.

When they were kids, Sam had found a stray one and brought it home with him. The thing was infested with fleas and the whole family was itching for days afterwards. Also, it ruined an otherwise good pie that Dean had baked for his mom. 'Scruffy', as Sam had affectionately named it due to its worse-for-wear appearance, had decided it was a good idea to just walk right over Dean's pie leaving huge paw marks in its wake. Dean knew it was immature, but he had been furious ever since.

The minute they stepped into the building, it smelled distinctly like cats. Well, obviously, but the stench was overwhelming almost smelling like wet dogs and cleaning products. Dean wrinkled up his nose, taking a look around. He could already feel his allergy coming on, his nostrils flaring with irritation.

They were in what looked to be like a lobby of some sort. There was a desk cluttered with paperwork and a few empty coffee cups, but no one was standing behind it. Opposite the desk was a few rows of blue chairs. The lighting in the space made the room headache-inducingly bright and the yellow walls were just far too cheery. It looked like the children's ward of a hospital or something. Except that there were cat hairs everywhere, on the cushioning of the seats and clinging to the welcome mat by the door.

To top it all off there were pictures all over the walls of cats and kittens, both cartoonized and real, with stupid quotes underneath them which overused ridiculous puns such as, 'Cats make purrfect pets', 'How you feline?', and the weirdest one, in Dean's opinion, a cat dressed as Uncle Sam pointing its paw towards him with, 'you are pawsome' as a caption.

Finally, the door behind the desk - which had a 'staff only' sign taped onto it - swung open and a scrawny guy with dark, messy hair appeared. He wore tight, black jeans and a plaid button up which ironically wasn't buttoned up along with a normal white tee underneath. And then he saw those eyes. Dean couldn't even describe them without sounding like a sappy romance novelist because damn if they didn't sparkle like the fucking ocean and- he shook his head, trying to snap out of the spell the guy seemed to have put him under as soon as their eyes met. Maybe this detour wasn't going to be so bad after all.

A weak grin spread across Dean's face as he checked the guy out absently. He stood as if he had a pole stuck up his ass and he seemed to have a permanent unamused expression on his face. Or maybe Dean had just interrupted his smoking break judging by the chesty cough that left the guy's mouth before he spoke.

"Can I help you?" were the first words to come out of the guy's mouth and Dean was shocked at the deep, gravelly tone to his voice. Holy shit.

Dean didn't know how long he stood there looking like a complete idiot with his lips parted as he stared at the guy who'd just appeared. He just couldn't believe how goddamn attractive this guy was. It took Sam clearing his throat awkwardly to shake Dean out of his daze.

"Y-Yes, you definitely can," Dean replied in a flirtatious voice, one eyebrow raised as he rested his elbow against the desk. He grinned at the guy who, unfortunately, didn't seem in the least bit impressed with Dean's flirting. Maybe he wasn't even gay.

The guy simply sighed and turned to look at Sam, obviously deciding that he was the easier Winchester to deal with. "Is that cat yours?"

"No," Sam replied, frowning down at the little ball of fur in his arms that was staring up at him with sad eyes. "My brother wasn't watching where he was driving and accidentally knocked it over."

Dean scoffed, straightening himself up with a bemused expression on his face. "Excuse you. I'm an excellent driver. That ... thing wasn't looking where it was going and crossed the road at the wrong time. Not my fault."

The expression on Sam's face suggested that he was embarrassed by his big brother's tone. Good. That was Dean's job after all. As a big brother, he had an obligation to humiliate the fuck out of his little brother no matter what it took.

Mysterious Mr. Blue-Eyes glanced over at the cat in Sam's arms for a second before lifting the hatch on the desk and walking over to examine the cat which was now wriggling about in Sam's arms.

Dean could smell the waft of smoke off of the guy as he passed and he had no idea why he found that so damn alluring when he didn't even have any kind of weird smoking kink.

"So, what's wrong with it?" he asked, trying to ignore the slight jealousy brought on by the fact that the guy was all over his little brother instead of him. Okay, maybe not literally, and maybe not in that way. But still.

"Do I look like a vet?" the guy asked, the tone of his voice indicating that he was more than irritated by Dean and his questions, still prodding and poking at the kitten in Sam's arms.

Dean was shocked by his tone and his eyebrows shot up as he watched Sam purse his lips, trying hard not to laugh. Dean checked the guy out again slowly. Okay, he may not look like a vet but how was Dean supposed to know that?

"And it's a he," the dude continued before taking the kitten carefully out of Sam's arms. "I'm going to take him down to the vet's office and get him checked over." He then grabbed a few forms from the desk and handed them to Sam along with a pen. "Just fill out these contact forms and you're free to go."

As Sam began filling in the forms for them, Dean watched the guy walking away. He let out a slow puff of air as his gaze settled on that ass. He decided right then and there that he should at least give it a shot. What harm could it do?

"Hey, wait!" he called when the guy was already halfway down the corridor. He turned around, looking adorable with that kitten pawing at his shirt.


"We should maybe ... y'know, hang out sometime?" Dean suggested with his best charming grin, one hand in his pocket.

He watched the blue-eyed stranger eye him up and down for a second before looking him right in the eye and saying bluntly, "Not a chance."

Dean was left standing there with his mouth hanging open and his cheeks flushing with colour. He could hear his little brother snickering from the lobby. It took a while for him to get himself together and turn back around to pass his little brother on the way out, slapping him over the back of the head. "Shut up, Sammy," he muttered.

Dean was left standing there with his mouth hanging open and his cheeks flushing with colour. He could hear his little brother snickering from the lobby. It took a while for him to get himself together and turn back around to pass his little brother on the way out, slapping him over the back of the head. "Shut up, Sammy," he muttered.

Sam groaned frustratedly, following Dean out of the building. "My name is Sam."

Dean rolled his eyes as he climbed into his car. "Yeah, whatever," he muttered, turning the key in the ignition, his baby's beautiful purr helping to ease the pain of his damaged ego.

When Sam managed to somehow fold himself into the Impala, he rolled up his sleeve to take a look at the watch on his wrist. All Dean heard was a sharp intake of breath before Sam opened his book again, flipping through the pages swiftly.

"Dean, I'm late," he said, causing Dean to chuckle a little, earning him a death-glare from Sam.

"What? Lighten up, skyscraper. I'll get you there on time," he assured him before pushing his foot down against the accelerator, grinning as the engine roared to life and the car sped down the road towards town.

Warm days in Lawrence also had their downsides. They meant that Dean was sweating like a pig the whole time he was working his ass off. Even though Dean liked to believe it was, his work wasn't exactly difficult. He had been lucky that the moment he dropped out of high school, he had a job waiting for him at Singer's Salvage Yard. It was owned by a close family friend called Bobby who was like a second father to Dean.

All through the week, Dean worked from nine 'til six fixing up cars. Since Lawrence wasn't a big town, Dean was lucky enough to only have a few oil or tire changes a day and that was it. But some days, there'd be cars that needed hours of work. Dean would never complain though, because he was far too grateful that he even had a job. Being a nineteen year old high school dropout with no qualifications, it would've been absolutely impossible for Dean to get a job if it wasn't for Bobby's kindness. Yeah, he wasn't exactly earning gold and silver by the bucketload, but he honestly liked his job and saw that as way more important right now. Although, there was another job he'd love so much more; his dream job that was becoming less and less possible to achieve everyday he spent not chasing it.

For the whole week after the kitten incident, Dean found himself being constantly pestered by Sam every single night. He was pretty much begged to go back to the cat shelter to check on how the kitten was healing and if it had found an owner yet. Sometimes he hated Sam and his caring nature.

Dean tried to tell him that the damn stray was not their responsibility, but he definitely didn't plan on saying no to paying Mr. 'how can I help you?' another visit. Even if he was kinda rejected last time, he was sure he'd eventually be able to win him over.

That was how he ended up heading towards the shelter straight after work on Friday afternoon. Granted, he wasn't exactly looking his best in his random old white tee and torn blue jeans with grease and dirt trapped under his fingernails. He briefly contemplated heading home to take a shower and change, but it was already shortly after 6pm and the shelter closed at 6.30. He'd have no time at all. And besides, he didn't want to look too desperate to see and impress this guy who was a complete stranger. A completely hot stranger.

The scent of cats filled his nostrils once again as the door clicked shut behind him. Dean ran a hand through his hair as he waited patiently for the people in front of him to finish their time at the desk. It looked like a man and woman had brought their daughter here to pick out a cat to adopt.

The little blonde girl was holding a small, ginger kitten in her arms with a huge smile on her face. Dean couldn't help but smile too, even though kittens weren't his definition of happiness, the joy of the little girl was certainly radiating all through the room.

Her parents were filling out some forms at the desk as the little girl turned to have a walk around with her new pet. She skipped around a little, humming happily as the kitten purred contentedly in her arms. The little girl couldn't take her eyes off the kitten for one second which caused her to not look where she was going. A few seconds later she accidentally bumped into Dean before looking up at him, cheeks flushing a little.

"I-I'm sorry, Mister," she said, voice soft and quiet as she offered Dean a shy smile.

Dean just chuckled, shaking his head. "It's okay. Who's your new friend?" he asked, glancing at the kitten who was now licking at its fur.

"I'm gunna call him Ginger," she answered, a proud smile on her face as she tickled the kitten's belly.

"Alice, time to go," the woman said, walking over to wrap her arm around her daughter's shoulder, looking weary of her talking to strangers.

Dean waved goodbye to the girl who waved back at him. When they had left, Dean was still smiling to himself as he made his way to the desk where he expected to see that gorgeous guy standing there with a bored expression on his face. But he didn't.

Instead, in his place was a short, blonde woman. He tried to hide his disappointment and remember what he actually came here to do: check up on the cat. She filed away the forms the family before Dean had been filling out before looking up at him with a cheerful smile.

"Hello there, welcome to Kitty-Kats Rehoming and Rescue Centre. How can I help you today?"

Dean wiped his irritated nose with the back of his hand quickly before flashing a charming smile at the woman. She had a badge pinned neatly to her turquoise polo shirt reading, 'Becky'.

"Well, my brother and I ran over a cat last week," he could already feel her judging him silently and regretted using that exact phrase as a conversation starter, "and we brought it- him here. We just wanna know how he's doing."

Becky's expressions changed from judgemental to understanding in under a second and she began searching through some folders. "What's your name?"

"Dean. Dean Winchester. Actually, it'll probably be in my brother's name 'cause he filled out the forms. So, Sam Winchester," he replied, watching her sift through tons of paper folders, sighing and tutting irritably to herself.

"We really need to get these put on a computer or something, it'd be much easier," she muttered to herself before finally grabbing a folder and tugging it out with a victorious grin on her face. "Aha, here it is."

Dean chuckled to himself. Sam was a computer whizz-kid and he could definitely help transfer those records onto computer if he wanted to. But Dean was going to wait until that guy was here so that it would give him something to talk to him about.

After flipping through a few pages, Becky nodded and looked back up at Dean. "Mhm, the kitten is doing awesome, he just had a broken leg and the vet said that will take four to six weeks to heal but he should make a full recovery."

Well thank god for that, Dean thought to himself as he nodded at the news, at least Sam wouldn't be pestering him to come back week after week after week to check on the thing. Maybe he will though. And maybe Dean will secretly enjoy the visits if he finds out more about the guy. He mentally kicked himself for not looking at his name badge that day.

Dean cleared his throat and put on his most charming grin and rubbed the back of his neck with a breathy chuckle. "Uhm ... I know this is a weird question but, there was this guy here last week when we brought the cat in," he said, face flushing as Becky grinned at him as if she knew exactly why he was asking and who he was asking for. "Tall, skinny, blue-"

"Blue eyes?" she finished for him with a knowing smirk.

He just exhaled and nodded, smiling weakly at her and feeling a little like a teenage kid with a stupid crush. "I was just wondering if he actually works in here or ...?"

"Oh yeah, he's a volunteer," Becky replied. "Works from four 'til six-thirty Monday to Thursday and nine 'til one on Fridays."

So, he'd just missed him today then. Damnit.

He sighed, nodding his head again. He must've looked and sounded ridiculous asking for information about this guy from his co-worker, but he really wanted to see him again. He didn't know what it was about this guy but he'd never felt like this about anyone before. Maybe it was the messy hair or the big blue eyes. Whatever it was, Dean only knew that he wanted to get to know him. It was like he was drawn to him by some invisible force. Like gravity.

He thanked Becky with a polite smile before turning to walk towards the door. The moment he rested his hand on the handle, he remembered that there was one more thing he needed to know.

"What's his name?" he asked, head turned to look back at Becky who was getting ready to leave.

"Castiel," she chirped. "I'll let him know you were asking for him." She then sent a wink Dean's way and he was pretty sure his face was glowing red right then.

As he left, a grin spread across his face. He would come see this 'Castiel' after work on Monday and use the cat as an excuse. Perfect.

The weekend seemed to drag by slowly. Sam was satisfied with the knowledge that the poor little stray was safe and recovering well. Dean didn't really give a damn about the cat, he was more preoccupied with the thought of those blue eyes, that dark hair and that deep, husky voice.

Castiel. It was a weird name, it didn't exactly roll off Dean's tongue easily. He looked the name up in the phonebook just out of curiosity but came up with nothing. Well, obviously; he didn't know his surname yet.

Okay, this was getting ridiculous. Why was Dean obsessing over a guy he hardly knew? He was looking in the phonebook for his name for Christ's sake. This was borderline stalking now. As he slammed the phonebook shut and threw it to the ground, Dean made a promise to himself not to think about Castiel for the rest of the weekend until he saw him at the cat shelter on Monday night.

Surprisingly, he actually managed to keep that promise. On Saturday, he hung out with Jo, Aaron and Adam and they went partying late into the night. After that, he stumbled home on Sunday morning with a horrible hangover which his mom nursed him through by tending to his every need whilst he lay in bed groaning about his sore head and his nausea all day whilst watching Dr. Sexy re-runs on television.

After spending the whole of Sunday cooped up in his room getting over his hangover from Hell, the last thing Dean wanted to do on Monday morning was get out of bed to go to work. He did it though, he forced himself out of his messy bed and right into the shower in an attempt to wake himself up. He didn't feel in the least bit awake until he finally remembered what was happening today.


Dean was in the middle of fixing a car's radio at the garage when he remembered and he couldn't stop grinning for hours afterwards, it was an instant mood-booster. Bobby teased him mercilessly, telling him that he'd never seen him so happy and constantly asking him who the mystery girl or guy was. Dean never spilled the beans though, it wasn't like he even knew who exactly Castiel was or if he was even gay or bi or whatever. He was just a mysterious blue-eyed stranger who smoked. That was all he knew for now.