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Cringing at the dashboard clock when he arrived at the bar Castiel wondered what else could go wrong. He was late, very late. An accident, detour and a missed turn had ensured that.
When he entered the bar the first thing he was hit with was the loud reverberation of classic rock music. The second was a rather large bouncer stepping in front of him to block his way.
Cocking his head to the side Castiel raised an eyebrow. He’d been told he looked young he sincerely doubted he looked that young.
“I gotta see ID if you wanna go any further.”
Castiel bit his lip to stop himself from saying anything overly sarcastic. Pulling out his wallet Castel handed over his driver’s license.
The bounce examined it for several moments looking back and forth between the tiny picture and Castiel. When he gave it back he only shrugged. “Sorry man thems the rules. Have fun.”
Taking his license back Castiel scanned the bar for Dean, spotting the man slumped over a corner of the bar. Heading towards Dean Castiel didn’t pay any attention as he shoved his wallet and driver’s license into his trench coat pocket.
Dean jumped out of his skin when a hand landed on his shoulder. “Jesus!”
“My apologies it was not my intention to frighten you.”
Clearing his throat to cover up his nerves Dean looked back to smile at Castiel standing behind him. He might have felt a bit bitter about Castiel showing up so late – he’d thought he was being stood up. That did not happen to him.
“It’s fine,” he slurred. “You’re late.”
The bartender rolled her eyes and cuffed Dean upside the head. Looking to Castiel she told him, “Don’t worry hun, he’s not drunk. Only let him have two shots.”
“Why do you gotta ruin all my fun Ellen?”
Castiel watched them with a smile on his face; it was obvious they were close friends. He cleared his throat. “I am sorry. There was an accident. I’m afraid I got lost trying to detour around it. I would have called but…”
“You don’t have my cell number.” Dean finished for him, realizing he’d only included his home number and school voicemail on the letter. He’d let it go this once.
“I’ll give it to you later.”
Castiel nodded. They stared at each other until the tension became too much for Ellen to handle. She could have cut it with a knife. She opened her mouth to say something when someone came in.
“Oh for crying out loud. Offer the man a drink. Dear God, you’d think you’d never been on a date before.”
Spinning around on his stool Dean glared at the blonde woman carrying a box of lagers. “Piss off Jo.”
Jo Harvelle gave him a cheeky smile. “I don’t think I will thanks. The awkwardness is so awesome.”
“Joanna, go clean the bathrooms.”
The smile was replaced with a look of horror.
“Mom, we’ve only been open for an hour and a half how bad can they be?” Ellen raised an eyebrow, silently looking at her daughter. The effect was almost immediate. Jo’s shoulders sagged.
“Fine, fine I’m going.”
Castiel watched her trod off. “Friend of yours?”
“Ellen’s daughter, we’ve never really gotten along.”
Ellen snorted. “That’s cause she told you to take a hike in high school.”
Dean scowled, “There’s no need to get nasty.”
“Beer?” Castiel felt a need to change the subject. He had a feeling if he didn’t he’d be subjected to bickering for the next hour.
“Yes.” Dean sounded grateful.
Collecting a couple of beers the couple headed towards a table in the far corner.
“Now maybe we’ll be left alone.”
Seeing Ellen watching them from the bar and Jo heading out of the washrooms eyeing them the whole way Castiel huffed, “I doubt it.”
“Sorry, might not have been the best place to come after all. It’s just…”
“Safe,” Castiel finished for him when he trailed off. Dean looked confused.
“You don’t really know me, we’ve only met twice. Naturally you came to a place with many people and those you knew. It’s a natural reaction. Go to a familiar place to get to know an unfamiliar person. Feels less dangerous. Less like a risk.” Castiel paused and frowned. “Although I feel the need to point out that I should feel much more in danger than you. After all in those two meetings you have burnt me with coffee and run me over with a grocery cart.”
“Oh come on. It’s not like I meant to do those things. Besides I said I was sorry. You ever going to forgive me?”
Dean huffed and shook his head. “So what exactly do you do?”
“Right now? I’m a secretary for my brother’s temp agency. I take the calls, file the papers and help place people.”
“So basically you do everything? How’d you end up working for your brother? Not sure I could stand working for Sam.”
Castiel shrugged, “I’ve got a degree in psychology but I sort of lost interest three quarters of the way through. After I was done I went to work for J – my brother while I figured out what I really wanted to do.”
“And you never left; hate it when that happens. If you lost interest in psychology – not that I can’t understand why – why did you finish the degree?”
“I’ve never been able to quit something I’ve started, not easily anyway. I hate leaving things unfinished. Figured I was almost done I might as well finish.”
“What about you Dean? You’ll have to forgive me for saying this but you’re not exactly what I expected as Claire’s teacher, certainly not mythology.”
“No big, I get that a lot. It was my Mom. She loved mythology, was always telling us stories. It was a way to stay close to her after she died, I guess. When I needed to choose a major I sort of gravitated towards it.”
He paused to take a mouthful of his beer. Was it really their third one? “When I finished college I joined the fire squad. Was there for five years, till there was an accident on site. Ended up with this thing.” Dean fingered his brace.
“Not much you can do with a degree in mythology besides find a library and try and become Indiana Jones so I went back to school after I healed. Someone convinced me and I think it was because of the painkillers that it was the right move. One thing became another and I suddenly found myself teaching a bunch of teenagers that would rather be anywhere but my classroom.”
“Certainly not the usual way. Sorry about the accident.”
Dean shrugged, “Not your fault. I’m dealing, the family was okay so it’s not like it wasn’t worth it.”
“Indeed. Do you enjoy it? Teaching that is.”
“Didn’t expect to but yeah I do enjoy it.”
Suddenly Ellen was looking over the table. “Keys.”
“What?” Both men stared at her open hand blankly.
“Give me your keys,” she pronounced slowly. “You’re smashed.”
“I’m not going to drive.”
“Nor am I,” Castiel slouched against Dean.
“No shit, hence the keys. You may not be stupid enough now but I’m not taking any chances with later.”
After a few false starts Castiel was able to fumble his keys out of his pocket. When he placed them in Ellen’s palm Castiel heard Dean slur, “Teacher’s pet.”
Dean found himself with a lap-full of drunk and giggling man. “Guess that makes me yours then, teach.”
Pushing futilely at Castiel Dean tried to dislodge the other man. “I don’t think so.”
While the pair was occupied Ellen took the opportunity to slip Dean’s keys out of his pocket. When they started getting rough she crossed her arms. “Boys knock it off or I’m going to kick you out.”
Looking like naughty grade schoolers Dean and Castiel faced her with a solemn, “Yes ma’am.”
By the time she’d gotten back to the bar they were poking each other in the side. Whatever, they weren’t really doing any damage so she let them be.
It wasn’t very long after that Jo came over to her. “Mom, I think we’re going to have some trouble.”
Finishing with her customer Ellen turned to look at her daughter. “What do you mean?”
Jo pointed out a table of regulars in heated discussion. The group’s hands and eyes swung violently towards a nearby table - Dean’s table.
She called it his table only because she couldn’t remember the other man’s name at the moment. Besides he wasn’t actually sitting at the table per say. Castiel was pretty much straddling Dean’s hips. Neither was paying particular attention to those around them, finding their current game of tonsil hockey too engrossing.
Ellen frowned at the argument. The group couldn’t be stupid enough to try anything in her bar. She was not known to put up with any kind of shit. She sighed when the group moved en-mass towards Dean and Castiel. Of course she wasn’t perfect in her assumptions.
The bouncers neatly cut the group off and escorted them outside. Ellen followed.
“Gordon Walker you were always a troublemaker,” she hissed in his face.
Gordon stiffened; he’d done nothing wrong. “It’s an abomination, I shouldn’t have to look at it.”
“Then close your eyes! We don’t want to see you slobbering over some poor girl but we often do.”
“My relationships aren’t a sin.”
“Neither are theirs’, now take your cronies and get off my property. Don’t bother coming back till you can keep your mouth shut or show an open mind.”
Gordon’s face darkened but with Ellen’s linebacker bouncers looming over her shoulders he did nothing more than stutter obscenities as he took off.
“I don’t want any of them back in the bar without my permission.”
“Yes ma’am,” the three bouncers spoke in unison, all but standing at attention.
Nodding in satisfaction, Ellen headed into the bar. Dean and Castiel were no longer at their table when she walked by. Some thing however, glinted from the floor. Stooping down Ellen picked up a rectangular card. It turned out to be a driver’s license. One of the boys must have dropped it.
Flipping it over Ellen frowned at the picture. It was unmistakably Jimmy Novak but the name was not. With the same last name Ellen figured Castiel was Jimmy’s brother – twins probably. Either Jimmy had Castiel’s ID or Castiel was currently playing himself off as Jimmy. Either way someone had a lot of explaining to do and they weren’t leaving until they did.
Jo was behind the bar serving drinks. “They leave?”
Shaking her head and a drink at the same time Jo said, “No, I put them in Ash’s old room. They’re not really in much shape for anything else.”
Heading to the back Ellen had every intention of pulling Jimmy or Castiel aside and demanding he explain what was going on. Whatever it was had better not involve hurting Dean.
Her plan ended when she found both parties in the bathroom; Castiel was leaning over the toilet and Dean over the sink both vomiting. She was glad it was a deep sink.
Ellen would grill Castiel about the name difference later. She was tough but not cruel, no sense in kicking a man when he’s down.
When pitiful groans began coming from the men Ellen backed out of the bathroom returning with bottles of water and aspirin.
Crouching next to Castiel Ellen waited until she figured he was done puking before handing him a water bottle. Maybe she should have cut them off before they drank so much.
Gratefully accepting the water Castiel rinsed out his mouth and took a few tentative sips. When they didn’t come rushing back out Ellen handed him two of the aspirin.
Behind them Dean groaned again and sank to the floor. “Shit.”
Giving him the second bottle of water and the last two aspirin Ellen told him, “You know what to do.”
“How come he gets special treatment?” It took Dean several tries before he regained enough dexterity to open the bottle.
“Because you only get three ‘I did something stupid and got plastered motherings’ and you used yours up ages ago.”
“I don’t believe I’ve ever been this drunk before,” Castiel muttered holding his head in his hands trying to get the room to stop spinning.
Ellen snorted, “All right, up you go. You can crash here till you feel human. Room used to belong to a friend, it’s clean.”
Castiel nodded slowly allowing Ellen to lead him into the other room and strip him of his trench coat and jacket. Part of his brain was screaming this was a bad idea. The other part was too drunk to care.
By the time Ellen got him into the bed Dean came stumbling out of the bathroom. Seeing the double bed he crawled up one side with nothing more than a slurred, “S’big enough for two.”
Ellen pulled off their shoes and rolled her eyes. They so owed her. She’d corner Castiel tomorrow before he left.
The sun in his eyes brought Dean out of the hands of Morpheus. Opening his eyes Dean shut them immediately after with a hiss.
“I agree,” a pained voice came from beside him.
Opening his eyes slowly this time Dean took a cautious look to his left. Jimmy was curled up in a miserable ball. Dean began to panic. What the hell happened the night before?
Castiel was attempting to figure out the situation as well. He’d not intended to drink so much and waking up next to Dean was disconcerting. He also had a vague memory of trying to tell Dean the truth. Had he?
“Shit!” Suddenly Dean sat up, cutting Castiel off. The man turned a violent shade of green as he did. “It’s Monday.” Looking at his watch Dean swore again. “And I’m going to be late.”
Pulling himself out of the bed Dean felt the room spin. Maybe he should use a sick day. The thought was dismissed when he realized he’d have to call the principal. Zachariah was vile, any less than three hours notice and you were stuck running detention for a month. ‘No thank you.’
Stumbling to the bathroom Dean took the quickest shower in his life, and employed his finger as a toothbrush. It was gross and he didn’t think he’d do it again, no matter how desperate. When he came back into the bedroom twenty minutes later he was clean if not completely presentable. He saw Jimmy still sitting on the bed looking miserable and confused.
“Sorry, I got to run. I’ve got a class to teach in less than an hour.” Not enough time to grab his notes from home, shit. “I’ll call later okay?”
Not waiting for a reply and functioning on autopilot Dean kissed Castiel softly on the lips and ran out of the room.
Affecting a deer in the headlights look Castiel sat on the bed frozen. Hearing Dean holler for his keys broke him out of it. Castiel slid down the bed with a litany of “Fuck.”
“I should say so.” Castiel jumped and saw Ellen leaning against the door.
“Mrs. Harvelle,” he sat up on the bed again. “I’d like to apologize for my actions last night. They were…”
Ellen cut of his apology. “Save it Castiel. Shit happens and it’s Ellen not Mrs. Harvelle.”
“Is there anything I can…” he trailed off when it sank in that she had called him Castiel and not Jimmy.
Ellen held out a card to him. “Found it on the floor of the bar. You can start by explaining why Dean thinks you’re James Novak and don’t think about trying to use the ‘it’s my middle name’ excuse. I looked. You can finish by cleaning the bathroom.”
“The bathroom?” Castiel squeaked out. It was the safest part for his brain to process. It refused to think about the other part right now.
“You and Dean vomited rather copious amounts last night.”
“Forget it. Coffee?” Ellen left the room clearly expecting him to follow.
Numbly Castiel looked at his driver’s license; he should have put it back into his wallet last night. Grabbing his things Castiel headed towards the bar. He was so screwed.
“Take a seat.” Ellen placed a cup of coffee in front of a stool before adding milk and sugar to her own.
Castiel sat down; there wasn’t really another option. “Explain to me why Dean currently believes you’re your brother?”
Adding milk and sugar to his own coffee Castiel spoke, “Jimmy and I are twins. My niece Claire is having trouble in Dean’s class. He, Dean that is, wished to speak to her father. I took his place.”
“You let your niece convince you to impersonate your brother so she wouldn’t get in trouble?” Ellen sounded like she believed him to be the stupidest man.
“No, on the contrary, I agreed so that she would receive fair treatment and the proper punishment. I wanted to make sure steps were taken to repair the problem.”
Ellen took a sip of her coffee, “You’re going to have to explain that one more.”
Castiel tugged at his hair. He was sure he was going to be bald by the time this was all over. “It’s difficult to explain. Jimmy has not been the most attentive of father as of late. He’s been much more focused on his business and her mother has always been more work oriented. I suspect it would have taken quite a lot of work to even get Jimmy to the meeting. Very little would have been done to help Claire improve.”
Pausing to take a sip of his coffee Castiel thought about what to say next. “When Claire came to me we were able to indentify the problem and discuss means to improve on it. A proper punishment was reached and Claire is starting to learn and improve. That’s all that matters.”
Ellen had been silent as he explained. Putting her mug down she cleared her throat. “What about Dean? You seem to like him and he certainly likes you. You’ve got to know this is going to hurt him.”
“I do.” Castiel hung his head. “God help me, I’ve only met him twice before last night but I do. It was not my intention to hurt him, it was never supposed to go this far.”
“Best laid plans and all that.”
Castiel huffed, “There have been no mice involved. I do not think I could have handled that. He dumped his coffee on me, and ran me down with a grocery cart. Yet somehow I think I managed to fall in love.” Castiel’s entire body went ridged and his eyes wide. Where in the hell had that come from?
Ellen cursed. It was painfully obvious that both men had dived in completely unawares. They had no idea of what they felt. She also knew she was about to pick up another stray.
“Talk to him as soon as you can. Tell him the truth. He’s going to be pissed but if this spitfire relationship you two have started has any potential hopefully you’ll get through it. “ It helped that she knew Dean was very much a family man. He’d do just about anything for his brother. Castiel’s reasoning’s may soothe him a bit.
Castiel looked terrified. Ellen moved closer and put her hand atop of his. She was definitely collecting another stray.
“I don’t understand you Ellen.” Castiel said suddenly.
Ellen pulled away from him, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing bad I assure you. It’s just when you called me by my name I expected you to yell and call the police or possibly kill me. Not give me coffee and listen to my pathetic life.”
“Oh make no mistake Castiel I still reserve the right to kill you if you hurt him again. I can be sympathetic but Dean’s got seniority.”
“Got it. Um…” Castiel fiddled with his empty coffee mug.
“What is it?”
“Dean said he would call but he does not have my number nor do I have any number for him besides his landline. I would like to deal with this as soon as possible.”
“You two have to make things so difficult. I’ll give you his cell number. He’s got class until 2:30 but he’ll answer a text in between classes.”
Castiel accepted the bar napkin she grabbed to scribble down Dean’s cell number with thanks. Ellen brushed him off and shooed him out of the bar. When the door shut behind him she hit her head off of it. She really didn’t need any more drama in her life; she got more than enough from her daughter.
There was a meek tap on the door when she moved away. Opening it once again Ellen found Castiel standing sheepishly on the other side.
“You still have my keys.”
Ellen laughed heartily, retrieving them from the bar and handing them to Castiel. This time she waited until Castiel drove off before shutting the door.
By the time Castiel got home he realized he was supposed to work today. At one o’clock it was rather unlikely he was going into the office,
Dropping his trench coat and suit jacket carelessly onto a chair Castiel grabbed his cordless phone off the charger. As he began to dial Castiel felt claws digging into his leg.
“Ow!” Looking down Castiel found Lucifer glaring back at him, tail swishing back and forth indignantly. “I suppose you want food.”
“Meow!” Castiel got another sharp swat.
“Damn it, I’m going to declaw you if you keep that up. Missing a couple of meals won’t kill you.” Never the less Castiel moved into the kitchen and filled the food dish.
Michael trotted in as he dialed Jimmy’s office number.
“Hey Jimmy, it’s Cas.”
“Don’t call me that. Where the hell are you? You were supposed to be here at 8.”
Castiel looked over his cell phone and corded phone, there were no messages or missed calls. “I know and I’m sorry but if you were that worried you could have called. I’m not feeling very well and I slept through my alarm.”
Jimmy ignored the fact that Castiel was right, he didn’t call. “All right, I’ll see you tomorrow if you’re feeling better.” He hung up without waiting for a reply.
Castiel clicked end and put the phone down. He wished he could crawl back into bed and forget the last couple of days ever happened. Instead he texted the number Ellen gave him.
It’s Jimmy. We need to talk. Meet after class?
It must have been between classes because he received at reply almost immediately. Ok, where?
Thinking perhaps home turf would be better Castiel replied, My place? I can cook.
Sending Dean the address Castiel headed for a shower.
Ellen was scrubbing the tables when the door to the bar opened. Turning to tell whoever came in that the bar was closed Ellen smiled. It was Bobby and he was carrying food.
“I figured you’d still be here. Did you crash in the back again?”
“No, the corner booth actually.” It was the only padded seat left in the bar. She felt no great need to get more either.
“Dean was in the back room. Jo stuck him and his date there after some trouble?”
“What trouble?” He handed her a container of chili and a spoon. It was homemade and still warm.
Tossing the rag onto another table Ellen took a bite of the chili and bit back a groan. As much as he hated to admit it Bobby was a fantastic cook. “Yeah, Gordon Walker and his gang didn’t take to kindly to Dean and his choice of date making out in front of them.”
“His choice of date?” Bobby ate his own chili.
“A guy by the name of Castiel Novak.”
“Ah, they try anything?” If they had Bobby would have to go hunt Walker down. He didn’t like the man but tolerated him in Ellen’s bar because she could take care of herself and he usually kept to his own group. If he was starting to go after other members of his pseudo family that toleration was going to end.
“They started to, bouncers cut them off. I had a lovely chat with Gordon and tossed the lot out on their ears. They won’t be back in here for a while.” You didn’t mess with Ellen’s family.
Bobby grunted, “Idjits. Still why’d you sleep on the bench, why not just come home?”
“I wanted to talk to Castiel before he left. They were both too smashed to move last night.”
“Could have talked to him next time he came him.” Bobby had been worried about her.
“Because Dean introduced him to me it was as Jimmy Novak and that was not the name on the driver’s license he dropped.”
“So you wanted to pry.”
“I do not pry, Bobby Singer.” Ellen glared at him over her bowl.
“Uh-huh, so what was the man’s excuse for telling Dean his name was Jimmy?” Bobby wanted to pry too.
Ellen snorted, “He was pretending to be his twin brother to go to a meeting Dean wanted with a student’s parent in his place.”
“Are you serious?” Things like that weren’t supposed to happen in real life.
“Dead. It wasn’t so his niece wouldn’t get into trouble either. In fact, according to Castiel he grounded her for her behaviour himself.”
“Then the point of the charade was?”
“So she got fair treatment, apparently his brother’s not getting nominated for father of the year any time soon.”
“Would have been easier to tell Dean he was her uncle.”
Ellen raised an eyebrow, “Since when has Dean or anyone he’s ever dated done things the easy way?”
Bobby snorted, that was true. “What possessed the boy to ask a parent on a date?” Bobby thought he’d had more sense than that, not much mind you but more.
“Apparently he ran him over with a grocery cart earlier in the day. It was supposed to be an apology drink but some how decided it was more. Dean told me he also dumped a mug of coffee down both their fronts.”
“They’re both screwed. They both decided love at first sight was a good thing to try.”
“Again idjits. Home?”
Ellen collected up the chili containers and wiped down the table again. “Yeah.”
Dean didn’t get a chance to think about what had happened as he drove to the school. Instead he had to focus on what he was going to teach his classes. There was no time to collect his notes or their work and he had nothing useful in his desk.
Actually. Dean paused and thought about that one. He did have a couple of videos he could show.
Arriving to his first class just as the students began filing towards the door Dean smiled. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Everyone groaned. They’d almost been free.
“Yeah, yeah sorry guys you’re not getting out of class that easily. Back to your seats.”
“Don’t worry it’ll be an easy class. We’re going to talk about some of your favourite myths. Nicole,” he picked one of the girls chatting in the corner. He didn’t want them thinking he was nice. “What’s one of your favourite mythological creatures?”
Nicole did a very good impression of a goldfish and tossed out the first thing she could think of. “Banshee.”
Dean nodded, nice save. “Good solid myth, Banshees haunted the Irish. They screamed about the death of a family member attaching themselves more so to clans with last names starting with O, Mc and Mac. Like O’Connell, McKay and MacDonald. If many were heard at once it was supposed to signify the death of someone of importance in the family. How about another one?”
A few students cautiously raised their hands. “Mike?”
Looking unsure the boy said, “Lady in White?”
“There’s basis for her all over the world. The most popular is a woman who finds her husband was unfaithful to her. After this is revealed she, in a fit of insanity, kills her children. Seeing what she’s done she then kills herself. The lady in white is her ghost. She haunts an area such as a strip of road, convincing men to offer her a ride home. She kills the unfaithful ones.”
Looking at the clock Dean just about groaned there was still another twenty minutes in the class. “I think we have time for one more.”
“That’s next week’s class topics, we’ll go into that one in depth then.”
One of the boys from the back of the room stuck up his hand. Dean was wary to call on him the group was largely troublemakers but he had time to burn. “Charlie?”
“The Grim Reaper.”
That was a loaded topic. It was also a topic for later in the semester but Dean figured it was far enough away he could talk a bit about it. “Almost every culture in the world has its own version of the Grim Reaper. The concept in some cases is that death is alive; it can choose its victims. Death, the Grim Reaper, the Angel of Death, Yama and Thanatos are just a few of the names attributed to the myth. The Grim Reaper specifically is often portrayed as the skeleton of a man in a hooded back robe carrying a scythe. He can be the cause of death or merely the bridge between this world and the next. He can be tricked…”
“Into being you’re best friend forever?” Someone in the back row cut him off.
“Only if you’re names are Billy and Mandy,” Dean retorted. The class was quiet for a moment before the students started laughing.
The bell rung and Dean sighed in relief.
Classes went fairly smoothly after that thanks to the movies he managed to grab from his office desk. IT was as he waited for final period to start things got interesting.
His cell phone went off, blasting AC/DC’s Back n Black into the room, startling both the early students and him. He’d forgotten to turn it to vibrate this morning. Scrambling, Dean pulled it out of his coat and hit okay. It was a text from a number he didn’t recognize. Reading it Dean smiled it was from Jimmy.
He hadn’t expected to hear from the man so soon, especially after running out on him leaving him hung-over and confused this morning. They did need to talk, things were moving very quickly, more quickly than he was strictly comfortable with. Dean also felt he should apologize for getting so smashed the night before. Texting back Dean watched his students file in.
The reply was almost immediate. At his place? Did Dean really want to go to Jimmy’s place? Figuring he had already technically slept with the man and he might as well Dean texted back asking for the address.
Pocketing his phone Dean started class.
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