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Castiel was worrying his lip when get got the text telling him Dean was in the parking lot. He’d not given him the buzzer number. Instead of sending it now Castiel grabbed his keys and pounded down the stairs.
He found Dean leaning against the doors. “Sorry.”
“No worries.” Pushing himself off the door Dean followed Castiel into the building.
“How’d classes go?”
“Everyone but the first class watched movies all day. I had nothing with me.”
“Bet they liked that.”
Dean laughed, “All but the first period class. I got there when they were trying to leave.”
Castiel snorted and unlocked his door, “Have a seat if you want.”
Dean sat on the sofa and was surprised to have two cats jump up on either side of him.
“The one on the arm is Lucifer and the other is Michael.”
“Seriously?” Dean chuckled.
“I didn’t name them.”
Dean watched the cats curiously as they sniffed him. Michael simply crawled into his lap and rolled over, presenting his belly for petting. He was already purring. Lucifer sniffed his arm and promptly clawed him before taking off out of the room.
“Lucifer!” Castiel bellowed after the cat. Maybe a declawing was called for after all. “Sorry he’s a pain in the ass.”
Looking at the barely bleeding scratches Dean shrugged, “It’s fine really. You wanted to talk?”
Castiel stiffened, “Yeah, uh there’s something I really need to tell you without being interrupted again.”
“Ooookay…” Dean watched him warily as Castiel began pacing the room. He had the strangest feeling he was not going to like what he heard. Was he going to be broken up with before the second date?
Castiel stopped in front of the bookshelf when he saw a picture of Jimmy and himself. Not the best way to go about it but it would certainly show what he was trying to say. He handed the photo to Dean.
Dean accepted the picture with a frown on his face and the hand not currently buried in Michael’s fur. He didn’t understand why he was being giving the picture. Seeing the two almost identical men smiling out of the frame at him Dean’s stomach dropped. He didn’t like where this was going.
Glaring at Castiel he asked, “So which one are you?”
Castiel swallowed nervously and pointed himself out. “Castiel Novak.”
“You’re Claire’s uncle?”
That answered his unasked question about where Claire and her mother were. Of course it brought a whole bunch more to light. “Why the fuck would you pretend to be your brother? Didn’t swapping go out in the fifth grade?”
“I’m sorry.” Castiel dropped his head.
Dean furrowed his eyebrows and asked incredulously, “You’re sorry?” Pushing the cat off his lap so he could stand Dean moved in closer to Castiel. “What the hell is with the entire fucking charade? Obviously the meeting had something to do with Claire but the grocery store and last night? Fuck you could have just told me that you weren’t Jimmy. ‘Sorry I’m his twin works rather well.’ I think I deserve to know who exactly it is I’m asking out.”
Castiel backed away. When he spoke it was in his own voice. “I know but I liked you and you thought I was Jimmy. You wouldn’t have asked me out if I told you I wasn’t him.”
Dean took a deep breath; the lower voice, what he assumed was Castiel’s real voice was certainly nice. Dean mentally shook himself. He was majorly pissed off; it was not the time to be turned on.
“Was anything you told me last night even true?”
Wide-eyed Castiel said, “Everything was about me. The only that wasn’t true was my name and my relationship to Claire.”
He wasn’t sure whether or not to believe the other man. Castiel certainly looked like he was telling the truth but he’d looked honest when he was telling Dean he was James Novak too. “You know if I reported you right now you’d be on charges for fraud and impersonation.”
Castiel paled looking both stricken and resigned. Quietly he said, “Do what you must, just leave Claire out of it.”
Damn it. Dean sighed. Things always got so complicated when he tried to get to know people. And Sam wondered why he never dated. “I’m not going to report you.” Dean rubbed his hands across his face tiredly; he was too hung-over to deal with this. He decided he wanted to know why Castiel had done this before coming to any conclusions.
“Why would you in your brother’s place? If he couldn’t make it he could have rescheduled.”
Sitting on the sofa Castiel shook his head, “Jimmy doesn’t know. Claire asked me to help and I agreed.”
“Claire’s parents are not the most attentive. Work has taken much of their focus and time as of late. When a problem with Claire arises they tend to ground her without ever really listening to her. The cause is never discussed or fixed. When Claire asked me for help I saw an opportunity to help her fix the cause of the problem so that it won’t happen again. Not to say that she wasn’t grounded, I just wanted make sure things were learned too.”
Dean let him speak without interrupting. The reasoning was sound, even if the actions weren’t quite right. It was clear that the only thing Castiel had wanted to do was help his niece. He could understand that. Family was important to him; he would do almost anything for his brother. It would take a while for him to completely trust Castiel again but Dean already knew was going to forgive him. He really needed to work on holding a grudge.
“It was only supposed to go as far as the meeting. I didn’t expect to see you again.”
“Did you want to?”
“Yes.” The answer was immediate and confident. It pleased Dean.
“I was glad we ran into each other again too.”
“I think if you recall it you’ll find you did all the running into.”
Dean snorted, “If I can forgive you for the impersonations I think you can manage to forgive me for hitting you with a grocery cart.”
“Forgive?” Castiel looked hopeful.
“Eventually yeah. Might not happen right away or all at once. Why don’t we start over again?”
Very seriously Castiel held out his hand. “Castiel Novak, Claire’s uncle.”
Dean took his hand and shook it equally as serious. “Dean Winchester, Claire’s teacher.”
As they dropped each other’s hands Michael and Lucifer trotted back into the room, jumping to sit between them on the sofa.
“Meow,” came two pitiful meows.
Castiel cleared his throat, “Pardon me, these are Michael and Lucifer Novak. A.K.A two large pains in my ass.”
They laughed as the cats swatted him and walked off in a huff.
“How’d you end up with them? You don’t strike me as a cat person.”
“Not really, no. Jimmy got them for Claire when she was younger but Amelia turned out to be allergic. Claire talked me into taking them.”
“Oh so you’ve always been a push over?”
They were in the middle of a faux argument when the front door clicked shut and Claire entered the living room.
Her brain short-circuited at the sight of her teacher on her uncle’s couch. “Uh.”
“Hello Claire how was work?”
She blinked at her uncle, “Uh, it was fine. It was pretty dead so they let me go early. Your place was closer…” She looked back to Dean.
“I know Claire,” Dean told the girl as she shifted side to side.
“I figured, I’m sorry…”
“Eh, we’ve already started over. I’m doing my best to forget the whole thing. You should have come to me Claire. I would have understood about things had you explained the situation to me.”
“You’re in detention for another week.”
“O…detention doesn’t work if you agree. I’ll have to think of something else.” Dean pouted.
“You do that.” Claire flopped into a chair. “Wait, how did you even meet up again?”
Castiel glared at Dean, “Yesterday at the grocery store you’re teacher was kind enough to run me down with his cart.”
“You said you’d drop that!”
“I’ve got bruises.”
“Which I’ve yet to see proof of,” Dean shot back.
“I could show you.” Castiel’s look was not entirely innocent, neither was the one Dean returned.
“Oh my god! Still here you know. Now I’m scarred for life,” Claire shut her eyes.
The pair pulled away from each other. “Sorry.”
“I’m going to go, you know, bleach my brain.”
“I’m fine really uncle Cas. I’ll come back after I’ve successfully buried this deep in my memories.” She left the apartment with a smile on her face.
“That was interesting. Does she usually show up unannounced?”
“She’s welcome any time. That’s why I gave her keys.”
“Hmm, we’ll have to try to not scar her again in the future.”
“Does that mean there will be another time to then?” He tried not to sound too hopeful.
They relaxed against the sofa in silence for a while both thinking about how things were moving. Castiel was glad he was getting a chance to try again. Dean thought about how much family meant to him and that it seemed to mean as much to Castiel as well.
Breaking the silence Dean said, “I know what you can do to start making it up to me.”
Castiel looked over to him, “What’s that?”
“You can tell Ellen.”
Dean got the feeling he meant it was already done, not that he would do it. “What happened?”
“She cornered me after you left this morning – by the way we can never get that drunk again I still feel like I drank a liquor store.”
Laughing Dean replied, “No kidding, I have no idea how I made it through classes today, things still feel fuzzy.”
“Anyway,” Castiel lazily stroke Lucifer’s fur. “She called me by my name and handed me my driver’s license. Apparently she found it on the floor of the bar after Jo herded us into the back. Ellen insisted I tell her what was going on.”
“You dropped your wallet?”
“No, just my license. I didn’t put it back in my wallet. It must have fallen out of my trench coat after I got ID’d.”
“You got ID’d?” Dean snickered.
Dean continued to laugh. “So Ellen knows, fine.” Dean paused and his brow furrowed. “Would you have told me the truth if Ellen hadn’t confronted you?”
Castiel nodded vigorously, “Yes, I was trying to tell you that morning. When you left I was trying to figure out how to get a hold of you to talk. Ellen just sped the process up a bit.”
Dean pondered Castiel’s answer before asking, “Are you free Saturday?”
Castiel blinked, it was a left turn in the conversation, “Yes.”
“Then you’re coming with me to Bobby’s”
“Old friend of my dad’s. They used to run an auto shop and junkyard together. He and Ellen are family. They always throw a couple of barbeques each year. They invite their relatives and mine.”
“Won’t they mind an extra person showing up?”
“Nah, he usually cooks enough for an army. I’ll call and let him know just in case. Besides my brother bailed out anyway so not really an extra person.”
“Sam right?” Castiel looked at him curiously.
“Yeah, he’s four years younger and a lawyer. Sam usually bails out on the family events. Something always comes up. One state over and we see less of him then when he was at Stanford.”
Dean shrugged, “Not your fault.”
“He sounds a lot like Jimmy. He owns a temp agency and spends pretty much all of his time there. Amelia, that’s Jimmy’s wife, is a lawyer as well. She handles some big business lawsuits, but mostly deals with family court. Kind of ironic when you think about it, seeing as how she spends so little time with her own husband and child. The only time they’re really ever home together is when they are asleep.”
Castiel shrugged, “Not much to do about it. Claire’s pretty self-sufficient. I fill in as much as I can when she needs someone around.”
“You should just get her to move in.”
“I’ve been considering it.”
The last parts of the conversation moved it into awkwardness. Dean cleared his throat hoping to change the subject. “You never did answer about Saturday, the barbeque at Bobby’s, you want to come?”
“Saturday sounds good; however I believe at this moment we should go see Ellen.” It was almost time for the bar to open; Castiel figured she’d be there. “She mentioned to me that the bathroom required cleaning out due to our overly inebriated state.”
Dean groaned, “I was hoping that was a dream.”
“’Afraid not; from what I can recall you vomited into the sink multiple times.”
“Shit, she’s going to kill me,” Dean levered himself off the sofa, wincing when his knee cracked; it wasn’t pleased with him.
“Might as well go now. Better to get the lashing over with as soon as possible. Besides the quicker everything gets done the quicker I can get some sleep. I’m beat.”
“No kidding. I’ll follow you?”
“Why don’t we take my car? Save on gas and I doubt you’ve gotten yours fixed properly yet.”
“No not yet.”
They headed out to the Impala side by side. On the way Castiel texted Claire that he would be out for a while but told her she was welcome to go back to the apartment. Her response was immediate, simply saying okay.
Claire walked out of the apartment building shaking her head. As much as she fluffed it up she wasn’t really all that bothered by her uncle and her teacher. Okay, she couldn’t say it didn’t bother her at all, because it was still her uncle and her teacher and she did not want to think about them having sex.
Other than that Claire kind of thought they were cute together. Castiel certainly seemed happier than he had in a long time.
The only thing that worried her was the fact that Dean – and if he was going out with her uncle she was not calling him Mr. Winchester – had apparently forgiven or at least decided to forgive what they had done. It made her feel like he was up to something naughty.
Most normal people would have been completely pissed off. They would have yelled and fought before leaving the area all together. Claire figured they had screamed but she couldn’t see why Dean had stayed.
She wrinkled her nose as she crossed a street. Trying to figure it out was giving her a headache she’d just ask when everyone got back to the apartment. There was no need for her to try and figure out his motives when she could just ask.
Stopping to look around Claire discovered she was almost at the library. Deciding since she was almost there she might as well go there Claire headed towards the old building. There was a project in her history class that she could use some more reference material for anyway. The school’s library didn’t have what she needed. She’d head back to her uncle’s when she was done.
Ellen greeted them with a smile when they got to Harvelle’s. She’d arrived almost at the same time as them. “Still talking then?”
“Shouldn’t you be off somewhere talking then?”
“We’re here to clean the bathroom as requested.”
Ellen raised an eyebrow, “And you actually came back? You got Dean to agree to come back on the same day no less? Usually after a stunt like that one I don’t see him for days.”
“Hey! I am standing right here you know and you’re making it sound like I get smashed all the time.” He was ignored by both of them.
“Dean knows where everything is. I’ve still got stuff to do before opening.”
Dean dragged Castiel into the back room by the arm.
“Is there a reason we are moving in such haste Dean?”
“Yeah, I want to get out of here before she remembers to give us a drink responsibly lecture.”
“Ah,” Castiel allowed himself to be handed cleaning supplies and lead to the bathroom.
With Dean being overly cautious hoping to avoid Ellen’s wrath the bathroom took a half-an-hour to clean. He insisted they clean it from top to bottom. After finishing the room Dean still felt the need to kiss ass. The pair cleaned the bedroom as well.
Customers were filtering when they returned to the front of the bar.
“Ellen?” Dean waited until she turned to him before continuing, “Bathroom’s done. We’re gonna jet.”
“All right, sure you don’t want a drink first?”
Both men turned green.
“No thank you.”
When they arrived at Castiel’s apartment again Dean’s stomach growled. “You said something about cooking?”
“Texted it actually.”
Dean rolled his eyes, “Semantics, I don’t care as long as there’s food.”
Castiel’s looked turned sheepish, “I uh, don’t really cook for anyone other than myself. It’s safer that way.”
“So it was all a ploy then? Promise a guy food and then take it away.” Dean smiled to let Castiel know he was teasing.
“You have pasta and sauce?”
“Then we’ll make spaghetti. Don’t worry I’ll make sure it’s safe for human consumption.”
Castiel snorted, “Shut up.”
Dinner was almost done when there was a knock on the door. Castiel frowned because whoever was knocking should have had to call to be buzzed into the building. Looking through the spy hole he saw Claire on the other side.
“Thought it might be safer to knock.”
He rolled his eyes and stepped out of the doorway. “We’re just about to eat, there’s plenty.”
Claire looked at the food before turning to Dean, “You didn’t let him boil the water did you? We had to call the fire department the last time.”
Dean huffed out a breath of air, “I boiled the water.”
“I am perfectly capable of boiling water,” Castiel growled out.
“He seriously managed to set a pot of water with a little bit of oil in it on fire. It wasn’t cool.”
“Seriously? Good thing I was a fire fighter then. I can hand some kitchen accidents.”
Dean nodded and Claire smiled. It was Dean who noticed that Castiel was frowning a hurt look on his face. He wrapped an arm around Castiel’s waist and pulled him close. “Hey, you know we don’t mean anything by it right? We’re just kidding around.”
“I’ll even teach you how to cook properly.”
Looking through his lashes at Dean, Castiel gave a put upon sigh. “I suppose that will do.”
As they ate the trio discussed random events, studiously ignoring the events of the last week. Claire decided Dean and Castiel needed to listen to music written in the last five years and watch a film released in the last month. Dean tried to convince her to give Metallica and AC/DC a chance.
The following week was very busy leaving Dean and Castiel with nothing but short phone calls and text messages as their primary means of conversation. They were both glad when Saturday came.
Dean insisted on picking Castiel up and driving to Bobby’s himself. Castiel got the feeling Dean didn’t like his car. He would be right. Fact was Dean though it might actually be mistaken for a junker at the yard and scrapped.
He’d ended up agreeing to change the spark plugs himself when he found out that Castiel still hadn’t gotten them changed. Dean figured if he didn’t do it, it would never get done. At least this way it would be done right and Castiel wouldn’t end up being stranded somewhere because the car wouldn’t start.
When they arrived at Bobby’s Dean maneuvered the Impala as close to the house as he could. The closer it was the less chance it had of being scratched by a careless driver.
“Bobby!” Dean hollered out as he opened the front door.
“Don’t scream in my house Dean.” Ellen came into the hallway. “Bobby’s in the backyard.”
Chastised Dean lead Castiel through the house and out the back door.
“Dean, so good of you two to come,” Bobby flipped a steak. “Too bad Sam couldn’t make it.”
Dean sighed, “I can’t control him Bobby, not any more than I can drag him across state line by his ear.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’d pay to see that though.” Bobby put down the tongs long enough to pull Dean into a quick hug.
“How are you boy?”
“Good, what about you old man?”
“Peachy.” Cheeky grins covered both their faces.
Dean tugged Castiel’s arm pulling him out from behind him. “Bobby, Castiel Novak. Cas, Bobby Singer.”
“Hello,” Castiel shook Bobby’s hand.
The man returned his attention to the grill. “I heard you two had an interesting meeting. Pulling something like that again and they won’t find the body. Got it?”
“Uh,” Castiel’s eyes widened.
“Food won’t cook itself, now get out of here and let me cook in peace ya idjits.”
As they walked away Dean turned to Castiel, “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t actually let him kill you.”
“Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.”
It didn’t take long for Castiel to be questioning the sanity of those around him. Dean, Ellen and Bobby’s friends and family were very odd. He questioned his own sanity when he didn’t run for the hills the first change he got.
“What?” Castiel looked around for a problem. Possibly someone with a gun with the way Dean was trying to dive under a table.
“My cousins, I really don’t want to deal with them right now.” Luck was not on his side. They spotted him.
“Dean! How’s it going man? Sorry to hear Sam couldn’t make it.”
“Ed, Harry,” Dean’s reply was monotone.
“Who’s this then?” Harry asked.
“Castiel Novak, my…”
He was cut off by Ed. “Castiel, eh. Did you know that’s the name of the Angel of Thursdays?”
“I was aware of that yes.”
The rest of the conversation was something Castiel would like to forget. He didn’t need to know the finer details of killing a ghost or werewolf. Dean, used to Ed and Harry’s topic choices fazed them out with in moments of the start of the conversation.
Dean hid in the house for the rest of the barbeque. Helping Ellen in the kitchen was a guaranteed way to be left alone. He didn’t think he could handle being asked how he was coping one more time. Ed and Harry had been the only two besides Ellen and Bobby to act like nothing had changed. It’d been five years damn it; it was time to forget it.
“You okay?” Castiel handed him a pile of clean plates to put away.
“Yeah I’m fine. Can only handle so many people for so long ya know?”
“Yeah,” his tone told Dean he knew the real reason.
“Want to head out?”
“Oh god yes.” Dean put the dishes away quickly.
They never made it to the car. Jo and her friend Becky cornered them before they could get there.
“Is it true you pretended to be your brother on your first date?” Becky crowded Castiel.
“Becky, you said you’d behave.” Jo looked at her friend crossly. She could only blame herself. She should have known better than to believe anything her intrusive friend promised.
Becky shook her head at Jo, “I did not.” She failed to notice Castiel didn’t answer her and before Jo could steer her away Becky crowded into Dean’s personal space as well. “Can I watch you?”
Both men looked at her in confusion. Can she watch them what? It dawned on them at the same time what she wanted. Their answer was loud, emphatic and in unison.
Together Jo and Becky’s husband Chuck, who’d been brought over by the yelling managed to drag the woman away.
“Sorry, Sam usually deals with her.”
Turning towards the car they found Ellen and Bobby standing in their way.
“Did you think you could leave without saying goodbye?”
“Bye Bobby, Elle.” Ellen swept both into hugs despite their protests. Bobby smacked them on the head and wandered off to stop Ben from lighting a trash pile on fire.
“I’ll talk to you both soon, try not to screw anything up again. You’re good for each other.”
Dean shifted uncomfortably and Castiel coloured.
“By the way you’re both on a three drink limit at the bar until further notice. I don’t need anymore floor shows. I’m not that kind of bar.”
Before Dean could retort there was a scream from behind them; Becky was running away from Chuck swinging an empty wine bottle.
“You better get out of here before she see you again. She didn’t ask half the things she wanted too.”
Without saying a thing Dean and Castiel hightailed it to the Impala.
“You know what?” Dean said as he sped down the highway. “I’m sorry that was too cruel of a punishment.”
“You’re family is certainly interesting. I’d suggest keeping an eye on Becky, Ed and Harry however. They do not seem completely mentally stable.”
Dean laughed loudly as he flicked on the stereo. Castiel really had no idea.
“Claire! Haul ass if you want to eat breakfast.”
“Alright all ready I’m coming.” Claire bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen. “I can’t find my textbook.”
Dean paused in dumping a bunch of eggs onto a plate. He’d seen that one recently. “Your uncle’s was reading it a couple of days ago. Try the bedroom.”
Claire nodded and ran back up the stairs. Opening their bedroom door she found her textbook lying on one of the end tables. She didn’t mind if he read her books but she wished her uncle would tell her where he left them. Grabbing it she went to put it into her bag.
Taking her bag into the kitchen with her Claire slumped into a chair.
“Yeah. When’d uncle Cas leave?”
“Six, his classes started at seven today.”
“You better not be talking about my food,” Dean teased as he sat down to eat his own breakfast.
“Totally,” Claire stuck her tongue out at him and dug in.
The pair was almost done when Dean got a claw to the leg. “Ow, you know one of these days we really are going to follow through and declaw you.”
Dean rinsed his plate off and put it in the sink before filling the cat dish. “What are you laughing about?”
“You and uncle Cas threaten him with that all the time. It’s been over a year and nothing’s happened yet so he knows he’s safe.”
“And he’s already been fixed so you can’t threaten him with that.”
“Damn,” Dean looked down to Lucifer. “Guess you’re safe for now.”
Claire put her own dish in the sink. “We should go.”
“Yeah, got you’re homework? Any other missing textbooks?”
“Yes and No.”
“Then let’s go.”
Dean beat Claire outside and she found him standing by the passenger side door of the Impala.
Dean held out the keys, “I thought maybe you wanted to drive today. Was I wrong?”
Claire snatched the keys, “No!” She rarely got to drive since she got her beginner’s, especially the Impala. Dean treated the car like it was his baby.
“Well then, hurry up before I change my mind.”
Getting into the car Claire started it up. Back in Black played loudly on the stereo as she pulled out of the driveway.
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