Characters: Castiel, Dean Winchester, Anna, Gabriel, Cupid (Barachiel), Lucifer (Samael), Michael, Raphael, Sam Winchester, Tessa, Uriel.
Pairings: Castiel/Dean, Anna/Tessa, Lucifer/Sam/Gabriel.
Warnings: Civilians AU, set in and around a bookstore. Slash, inexplicit (fade-to-black) m/m sex, discussion of religious themes & homophobia, rampant appropriation of various poets & Biblical verses.
Summary: Castiel Novak inherits a used bookshop when one of his pastor father's parishioners passes on. Dean Winchester might fancy more than what's on the shelves.
Word Count: ~7,300 words.
Disclaimer: Supernatural, the characters and situations, and other related things belong to Eric Kripke and the WB/CW, which is to say: not me.
Feedback: Very much welcome! / Watch the Comm: here.
A/N: This was written, first and foremost, as a pinch-hit fic for castielfest, based on mf_luder_xf's prompt, AU where Cas is the near-silent independent bookstore owner and Dean is the rich and somewhat uncouth man who collects rare books (there's more to him than meets the eye) who stumbles into his shop. Think Good Omens: Cas (Aziraphale), Dean (Crowley) but without the angel and demon plot line. Bonus points for Cas having 50 million brothers and sisters (Anna, Gabe, Uriel (who may or may not be adopted, their parents say), Michael, and Lucy at least). — with a little bit of the second prompt (at least, in that this features a brainy!Dean kink… and a gigantic poetry!kink, from my part). I tried to squeeze in as many of the recipient's preferred kinks/tropes as well, which, in addition to finding the exact right poems, is a big part of why this fic is running so late.
A/N 2: The poems quoted and/or misappropriated herein are: "I like you calm, as if you were absent" (Pablo Neruda), "She Walks In Beauty" (Lord Byron), and "Little Viennese Waltz" (Federico Garcia Lorca).
A/N 3: The Biblical verses quoted are: Jude 1:7, Genesis 2:18, Genesis 1:28, John 3:16, Exodus 21:17, 1 Samuel 18:1-4, and Song of Songs 8:6-7.
A/N 4: Obvious shout-out to Good Omens is obvious, but nevertheless: the late Mr. Fell/Aziraphale owes an artistic debt to Messrs Gaiman and Pratchett.
A/N 5: Other prompts that got jumbled up in this are: "agoraphobia" from hc_bingo (prompt table) and "time: first" from kissbingo (prompt table).
A/N 6: The title comes from the song, "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" (Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber), which really has nothing to do with the process of the fic getting written, save that I've been on an Evita kick for a week or so now, have been listening to different recordings of this song way too much (especially Patti LuPone's, and the '81 South African and '91 Israeli cast recordings)… and I thought it rather fit the fic.
A/N 7: Dear secondplatypus: you are my favorite beta and, as always, my best of all possible best friends. Thank you for getting me through this in a timely fashion. ♥
Thursday's Book Nook and the two floors that comprise it sits on a tiny side-street of a moderately sized tourist town in Maine, with a pseudo-cobblestone front designed to cover up its wooden assemblage and make it seem homier. More rustic. The sort of shop you might tell your friends you frequent in order to seem more in touch with your roots, more concerned over the state of the local economies of these places, even though you and they all know that both your outfit and your dinner came from one of the superstores you profess to hate so much. No sign listing the hours hangs in the window. Pastor Jim Novak of the People's Church of Fairborough comes by in the early hours of the morning, leading two of his children off the sidewalk down the rickety steps; both Anna and Castiel carry boxes of books down with them.
In all his life (which, admittedly, has only lasted twenty-eight years), Castiel Novak has never seen any shelves quite like these — at least, not outside of university libraries and his Uncle Zachariah and Aunt Irene's summer home in Maine. Even without the extra stock from his and Anna's boxes, there's hardly any free space to be found. Not hearing a word his father has to say about this, Castiel sets his box on the counter at the front. As he traverses the paths between the shelves, he trails his fingers along all the spines, some paperback, some hardcover, some broken, some so ancient they might have outlived his grandfather. How many treasures might he find in here? And to think — they're all his now to keep or sell as he pleases, and he could very easily keep people from buying them. The previous owner certainly tried his best to do so.
"— so I was saying to Mr. Fell, God rest him," his father's voice cuts into his reverie: "I said to him, 'You might as well just hire Castiel, for all the time he's spent in your shop — I mean, we even sent him off to Harvelle U, down in New York, and first place he goes when he comes back? …Right down here.' So he said to me, 'Why don't I just put it in the will for him?' And of course I told him that he could feel free, but I never thought he'd be serious — and would anybody?"
Anna gives her agreement before looking down the stacks and calling to her twin, "Castiel! You didn't expect anything like this to happen, did you?" Castiel shakes his head, pausing on a book: Bernard of Clairvaux's Sermons on the Song of Songs — a hardcover, clearly antique and probably not a decent translation, but nevertheless intriguing. Dust comes up when he . "…I mean, it's awful that he died," Anna continues, chattering to keep her father's attentions from thinking too much about what could go on in a bookstore, "but… this is just so generous of him. Too generous." Nodding, Castiel takes the book from the shelf with him and rejoins his family; he opens the book and flips past the introduction, getting right into the interesting stuff.
"Even if it is too generous, Anna," Pastor Novak says, clapping his son on the shoulder and not allowing him to focus on the words from which he'd rather learn. "If anyone's going to take control of the shop, then better our Castiel than any of the other heathen good-for-nothings running around this place…"
They go on for a while, with Father positing several things about the nature of virtue and how proud he is to have two children who fully understand the standards of behavior mandated to them by Their Lord Jesus Christ, who don't flounce around and shame the family like their third-eldest brother, and with Anna professing how right he is, just so he won't catch wise to what her "Bible study" sessions at Tessa Le Grange's house entail. But what they say to each other, exactly, escapes Castiel. Instead, he looks out the window, up at the street — two young men, maybe brothers, the elder not much older than he is, pause in front of the shop. They talk for a moment, then go on.
Just looking at their jeans and thick-soled Doc Martens, Castiel supposes that they probably aren't the type to come back, but even as they head off down the sidewalk, some part of him hopes that the older one comes back. He seems interesting.
"You know this place is just a bookstore, not an apartment, right?" Gabriel, aged 28, is the Novak sibling closest in age to Castiel and Anna, and his eyes have a glint to them that always reminds Castiel of the butterscotch candies his brother loves so much. "And, even if it were, you know that you have a real apartment, right? Where you can live?"
All Gabriel gets in response is a shrug. Otherwise ignoring his brother, Castiel continues appraising the stack of books some college student came in to sell, turning them over, checking the extent to which they've been scribbled in, and finally deciding on a price for them. The paperback copy of Maurice in his hands has a few dog-eared pages and some notes in the margins, no doubt for a paper, but overall, it's in good condition. Castiel takes down a reasonable price on one of his little pink stickers and puts it on the inside front cover.
Gabriel gives him an aggrieved sigh and slumps on the "…You're luckier than King David's slingshot that Mom left you a trust fund, you know that, little brother? You'd never be able keep this place without it." Castiel wrinkles his nose, but not at Gabriel, rather at the fact that the girl actually donated a Harry Potter book to a used bookstore. He's never read them, but they're supposed to be halfway decent. Either way, fussing with the pages gives him the opportunity to ignore just how much of a point Gabriel has; he's had the store for three weeks now and, by anyone else's standards, he's not running it well. He's hardly sold anything, and between the stench and his cultivated refusal to pick opening and closing hours, customers rarely bother me.
Shaking his head, Gabriel wanders off into the stacks, and after a few moments of silence (in which Castiel slaps prices on the Potter book, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and a bilingual collection of Garcia Lorca's poetry), he finally calls out: "God, you aren't even pretending to listen to me."
"I might try if you had anything worthwhile to say," Castiel says, arching his eyebrows even though Gabriel cannot see him do so. "You only have the spare key because someone might need to get in here if I fall ill."
From wherever he's losing himself in the shop, Gabriel calls out a string of affectionate obscenities that boil down to humoring Castiel. Out of idle curiosity, he opens the Lorca book, and ends up on the poet's "Ode to Salvador Dali," and finds that the language of it absorbs him — the original language. His command of Spanish might not compare to the one he has of Latin, French, and Hebrew, but between what he remembers and cross-referencing with the translator's version, Castiel does alright. He does well enough that he doesn't come back up to reality until someone snaps their fingers before his face.
Lifting his eyes off the page, Castiel comes face-to-face with a man he immediately recognizes as the elder of the two brothers who'd briefly loitered outside his shop on the first day it was truly his. Whatever his name is, he has the most brilliant green eyes Castiel has ever seen, and they glimmer like some reconstructed Anglo-Saxon jewelry underneath museum lights. His smirk, despite the privileged mischievousness it wants to project, has more softness than he probably wants people to notice; constellations of freckles stand out in splatters on his golden skin. "Hey there," he says with a warm chuckle. "Can I check out, or do you have some bar upstairs that I just missed?"
Castiel wrinkles his nose. "Why would I have a bar upstairs?"
"It's just a… Never mind." The smirk fades into a more begrudging smile; he slides a stack of three books across the desk and asks if he can have them escort him home now. As he writes up the receipt, Castiel considers the titles — a book of ghost stories, some history of heavy metal that got sold off last week, and a heavily annotated (in pen, pencil, and highlighter) copy of The Brothers Karamazov, which has no doubt seen at least four different owners before him. It is at this title that Castiel looks up from his busywork and, tilting his head, gives his customer a befuddled look.
The other man shrugs and smiles at him, and earnestly, for that matter. "The Garnett and the MacAndrew translations get read a lot more, I've heard… but I had a great copy of the Peavar and Volokhonsky Master and Margarita—"
Without thinking, Castiel interrupts him: "…As in Bulgakov?"
Laughing, he answers, "Unless you know any other Master and Margarita, yeah."
"Do you study Russian Literature, then?" Castiel averts his eyes to the receipt again, and to the calculator that he adds everything up on because numbers are more his younger brother Uriel's facility than his own. "Or do you just get your chat-up lines from anti-Stalinists and drunken epileptics?"
He laughs again, and Castiel feels something like he hasn't in so long — the sound makes him think of sunshine, of his late Mother's family's getaway up in Canada, along a river and close to a little town where they saw plays in the summer. It's really not fair, Castiel thinks as his face grows hot (and hopefully, not red), a real person having a laugh like that. "Do all of yours sound like they're coming from an anthropology textbook?" Castiel startles, seeing a hand come into his line of view; the silence hangs between them as he stares at the palm and the bracelet of twine and cat's eye shells. Slowly, he looks up. He only accepts a handshake because, as he reaches for a bag for his customer's books, the other man takes his hand.
"I'm Dean. …Dean Winchester." Castiel looks up into those green, green eyes and, in a bemused mutter, shares his name. "…Castiel? …Jesus, that's — I'm gonna call you Cas, okay?"
"…That would be acceptable?" No one has ever given him that nickname before.
Dean smiles and squeezes Castiel's hand. "Good. …I think I'll be seeing more of you soon, Cas." He scoops up his books without a bag, and as he leaves, Castiel lets himself watch. The fact that his ass impresses so much does not excuse the way Castiel can't bring himself to look away — and he knows that he has no excuse for this, but, really. At least the view is pleasant.
"You know that's the most you've spoken to anyone since Mom died, right?" Castiel snaps his head around, and he blushes like a patch of strawberries when he sees Gabriel leaning on the bookshelf nearest him. Rubbing the back of his neck, looking at his sneakers, Castiel mutters that he has no idea what Gabriel's talking about. "Yeah, just like how Lucy didn't know why there were spunk-covered porno mags under his bed."
"You shouldn't call him that," Castiel says. "Father named him 'Samael' for a reason."
"I'm sure he did, but Samael is a stupid name. The only name that's worse in our family is Rocky's, and he doesn't care because he thinks Barachiel sounds romantic or something." Huffing, Gabriel runs a hand through his hair, then unwraps a peppermint and drops it in his mouth. "And either way? You haven't looked at a guy like that in years, and if you don't, then I swear to God, I will set you up with him for you. And you won't like it if I do that." He pops another peppermint into his mouth, and then a third, and his sucking noises grate like aural sandpaper.
"You do know how many empty calories those have, right?" Castiel points out, picking up the next book he needs to price — a battered copy of The Decameron. "You'll end up diabetic by the time you're thirty-five if you keep eating them like you do. …Or you'll just look like Barachiel and have to finally take our father up on his offer of finding you a nice Christian wife."
"Yeah, well, everyone looks fat next to you, Mary-Kate." Wrinkling his nose, Gabriel huffs, and stalks back into the stacks.
Two weeks later, or thereabouts, someone taps on Castiel's shoulder, and he doesn't need to turn around or hear the gravelly voice that whispers hey to him; as soon as he feels the two fingers prod him, he gets the familiar electric feeling coursing down his back. The one he's gotten almost every day. "Hello, Dean," he says, slipping the new book on Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav between a Harper-Collins study Bible and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (one of at least five copies floating around). Dean's fingers slide forward, and soon he has his entire hand on Castiel's shoulder. The warmth of his chest hovers so close to Castiel's back.
"…I'm pretty sure there's no connection between those books at all, Cas." Dean chuckles, and Castiel could swear that he feels the other man's hold on his shoulder tightens. "I mean, you could argue Dracula and the zombie Jane Austen, but… Hasidic mythology, Chilean poetry, the Bayeux Tapestry. It's all sort of jumbled together, don't you think?"
"Maybe there's an underlying order," Castiel suggests, even though he knows full well that there isn't. "You just need to find it… and Lorca was Spanish, actually."
"I meant the Neruda, genius." Dean's hand leave's Castiel's shoulders, and he nudges out the book — the WS Merwin-edited edition of Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada. It's been on the shelf for far too long, Castiel thinks. Perhaps he should take it home, clear the dust off, and make it his properly — but he can't entertain these notions long; before they run away from him, Dean presses one leg against his own, and lowers his voice: "You hear me far-off, my voice does not reach you," he recites. "Let me be calmed, then, calmed by your silence. / Let me commune, then, commune with your silence, / clear as a light, and pure as a ring. / You are like night, calmed, constellated. / Your silence is star-like, as distant, as true. / I like you calm, as if you were absent: / distant and saddened, as if you were dead."
Beneath Dean's hold, Castiel shudders. He is unaware of his youngest brother, aged nineteen, skulking around and witnessing him; he only notices the pull that draws him to lean back into Dean's chest, and the push that comes with it, shoving out all questions of what his father would do, to see him here and now, getting friendly with some man and his unorthodox taste in literature. "So we're trying Latin American poetry chat-up lines this week, are we?"
Dean shakes his head and, briefly, Castiel feels the other man's breath on the back of his neck. "I just like finding new and interesting ways to make you help me find my books."
It's not until later, over an hour after Dean's checked out and left that Barachiel bounds out of the stacks, a half-mad grin plastered on his chubby face. He shoots his insipid smile up at Castiel and announces, "You're in looooove, aren't you."
"No," Castiel says, sticking a price marker on a copy of the script from The Royal Tenenbaums, complete with foreword by director, Wes Anderson.
"Come on, Cascas. You've got The Look — you're still glowing."
Castiel shoves a pile of books into his brother's arms. "You've been watching too many romantic comedies. Go and shelve these."
He doesn't mean to kiss Dean, but it happens, underneath the watchful eyes of the used biology textbooks that he shelved earlier. The sun's gone down already, and they're alone in the shop; Dean's carrying around a pile of new acquisitions that Castiel puts on the shelves wherever he pleases, to the tune of Dean asking whether or not he'd ever explain the logic of placing things.
"You were right," he finally acquiesces, taking a copy of Cujo off the pile and placing it between an astrology book and Bridget Jones's Diary. "There's no secret behind it whatsoever."
Dean shakes his head and laughs. "You're such a dick."
"It keeps people from mobbing my shop. …Can you imagine this place with the traffic that Barnes and Noble gets? A bunch of bored housewives-and-husbands, with their little children and their elder ones who dropped out of art school because it's too commercial?"
"Well, not for nothing, Cas, but I'm pretty sure you're more likely to attract the pretentious kids than a some mainstream, literary Wal-Mart."
"I don't have an overpriced coffee bar," Castiel says, as though this entirely settles the matter, as though adolescents unilaterally choose their bookstores based on whether or not they can buy a purportedly cruelty-free mocha latte. "And, besides, they're more conventional than they like to think they are. My lack of organization makes them cringe."
"Man, you just get them good and ready to run back to Mommy and Daddy's plastic-covered couch, don't you?"
Castiel shrugs and moves further down the stacks, puts a 50th anniversary facsimile of L. Cohen's Let Us Compare Mythologies on the end, dwarfed beside a book of HR Giger prints. "I just think they ought to reevaluate the contempt they hold for their families." Taking some Danielle Steel tripe from Dean's hands and jamming it on the top shelf, so that it's out of sight, he comments, "Did you know that Stephen King doesn't even remember writing Cujo?"
"He was too much of a alcohol and cocaine-addled mess. …He talks about it in On Writing. It makes a nice mirror to how he fixed rejection slips on his wall with a railroad spike."
"Okay, now you're just jerkin' my chain."
"I'm not!" Castiel reaches to find that there aren't any books left. He glances down at the space where they should be, which puts his eyes on the level with Dean's groin — at which Dean clears his throat. A warm hint of pink twinges onto Castiel's cheeks as he looks up… and before either of them realize it, Dean's back presses into the bookshelf. Castiel snakes a hand around his neck and, in a fever like the muggiest pits of August, yanks Dean into a kiss. A deeper one than he's had since he can't remember when, and one that soon gives way to the curious exploration of their tongues. Dean's mouth tastes of something sweet, and with a hint of cinnamon. Breath only comes in gasps and Castiel's certain that his lips will bruise.
He's ready — hardening even before Dean's hand falls and starts fumbling with his belt — but the sound of a cough interrupts them. Castiel shoves himself off of Dean so hard that he collides with the other shelf, jostling the books and knocking a copy of Stranger In A Strange Land onto his own head. "Cas—" Dean says, but Castiel holds a hand up and informs the other man that he's fine, as it was just a paperback. He crouches, picks it up… and his face turns sunburn read when he straightens up, finds himself face-to-face with a pair of blue eyes with a knife-edge twinkle to them, a swaggering, too cognizant smirk, and brown hair with just enough blonde to be properly reminiscent of their mother.
"Samael," Castiel sighs.
Samael's smirk broadens. "Hello, brother." Dean mumbles an excuse, something like sorry, Cas, see you later, and Samael turns to watch the other man run out. "…Interesting development, Castiel — but the venue's wrong for talking about it. Why don't you lock up and come on back to my place?"
Samael's place has a framed French poster from Red Dragon covering one wall, and the way his brother lets his eyes linger for just a little too long on the muscles of Ralph Fiennes's back does not escape Castiel. Nor do the significances of the rainbow-striped flag, or the various pieces of Pansy Division and Bikini Kill memorabilia, for that matter, though he doesn't understand why there's a poster from the Portland Opera Reperatory's last production of Tristan und Isolde amidst the mess of loud, gay-and/or-feminist-centric post-punk. (To be fair, the Depeche Mode poster also doesn't fit, but Castiel too clearly remembers Samael smuggling their cassettes and vinyl albums into their father's house; there's no point in asking about it.) A pile of Petoskey stones sits around a little bonsai tree, which rests on the long coffee table before the couch.
"Your boyfriend seems nice," Samael offers with a smile like an oil spill. He sets his bag down by the sofa and bids Castiel sit down; Castiel refuses that, and the wine that his older brother offers next. "So, are you denying that he's your boyfriend? You don't need to lie about it, brother — not to me."
"He's not my boyfriend," Castiel says. He keeps his tone flat and even, and his expression stays level despite its best attempts at curling his lips. "He just comes into the shop sometimes." Every day. And sometimes, he doesn't even buy books; he just comes to see me. "And so we talk." And he quotes Neruda while pressed up against my back. "And I like him — as a friend. I think I'm entitled to have a friend besides Anna and Gabriel, Samael."
Chuckling, Samael shakes his head; wine glass in hand, he flops onto the sofa. "No one's arguing that, but… Castiel, you don't need to lie to me. Gabe and Barachiel already told me about this… Dean Winchester, is it?" Why he's still smiling doesn't occur to Castiel, nor does he try to think about what's inspired this sort of fondness. Nothing good can come out of it, he's sure. Holding his free hand up in mock surrender, Samael continues: "You don't have reason to believe me, but… really, Castiel. Coming out was the best thing that ever happened to me."
Castiel does not think (and especially not of the family pictures Dean keeps in his wallet), he just recites: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after perversion and strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Putting his feet up on the table (and some book of obscene-looking photography), Samael sips his wine and retorts: "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone'—"
"It isn't. That's why he made Eve, a woman — so that man could be fruitful and multiply—"
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Samael shrugs, and downs the rest of his wine in one go. All Castiel hopes for, when the glass settles on the table, is that Samael won't have any more while he's still here. It may not be easy to intoxicate oneself on wine, but he still doesn't wish to be here if Samael should do so. "Anything you offer me as some condemnation of our people, I can rebut somehow, Castiel. It won't kill you to just admit to yourself that you want to have sexual relations with another man."
Castiel flushes, and narrows his eyes as he raises them from the view of his feet and his brother's hardwood floor. "Our father wouldn't appreciate the way you're abusing these verses. He and Mother taught you better than that."
"It's not abuse! It's interpretation—"
"And whosoever curses his father or his mother must surely be put to death."
The silence that drops between them chills Castiel to the bone, and he can't make himself look away as Samael brushes his fingers over the stones, searching for the largest one. He cradles it, turns it over in his hand, examines it from all possible angles, just to ensure that it's what he wants it to be — then he stands. His sandals tap on the floor like gunshots, and he closes the space between their bodies until there's only room enough for his hands and the rock in them. Castiel winces when Samael grips his wrist. He tries to resist as his brother yanks arm up, but even so, he finds Samael's hand coaxing his own around the smooth, cool surface; they're warm as they hold Castiel's hands in place. Something behind Samael's eyes burns as he locks them on Castiel's.
Pressing into Castiel's chest, he whispers, "Throw the first stone, then, brother."
Castiel swallows and feels his mouth go death-dry. It takes him a moment of stammering to bite out, "…I can't."
Samael reclaims his rock and places it back on the pile. "You know why that is, don't you?" Castiel shakes his head, though he's fairly certain that this is a lie. "…Do you want to?" A brief nod. "…You can't hurl that big, concussive rock at me because you know I'm right. We're on the same side, like it or not, and I wouldn't tell you to come out unless I were thinking of your own best interests. The closet's a poisonous place to be and, yes, our father will most likely disavow you and say that you're going to Hell, but guess what?" Castiel tilts his head, and asks what. "If his paternal love is that conditional, then you can do so much better."
"…You just want me to help your group fight to legalize same-sex marriage."
Samael shrugs. "Well, yes, that would be nice. But mostly, I'm looking out for you."
Castiel averts his eyes to the floor. He will need to think about this.
"Well, considering it's Lucifer, I can't say that I'm surprised or that you shouldn't take what he said with a grain of salt, but… he is right, you know."
Castiel looks down at Uriel, who leans on the front counter, keeping himself up on his elbows. With a sigh and a furrowed brow, he puts a copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe on the shelf between Egypt, Israel, and Canaan In Ancient Times and The Bad Girl's Guide to Sex. "I think that's extremely debatable," he informs Uriel and, when he looks back to his brother, he sees Uriel's dark eyes glitter. "…What."
"It's so cute when you're in denial."
Castiel glowers, and his cheeks flush pink. "I'm denying nothing. I just think that Samael and his rhetoric are not something one can accept without criticism — and that you and Gabriel both ought to call him by his proper name. Every time you let him think he's illuminating people, he gains a little bit of undeserved ground."
"In what, Cas?"
"The war for the purity of our souls."
The next thing that Castiel knows, Uriel's arms wrap around his shoulders, pulling him into a hug. He squirms in his brother's embrace, but doesn't manage to get free, nor does he really try to do so; Uriel's been stronger than he is since he picked up wrestling in middle school while Castiel preferred the undisturbed sanctity of whatever library he could lose himself in. For a long moment, Uriel just holds him, and it's not until Castiel relaxes that he speaks again: "Whether you love Dean Winchester or not, you have one of the purest souls I've encountered. And it's not a sin for you to be happy, brother."
Castiel mumbles about how he would be perfectly fine if everyone would kindly stop encouraging him down paths that predominantly serve interests other than his romantic ones.
Uriel's sigh comes up begrudgingly, a half-groan. "We care about you, Cas. Is it such a crime for us to wish you'd let yourself live without such extreme judgment?"
Castiel pauses, and begrudgingly supposes that it isn't.
Regardless of the hang-ups, Castiel enjoys Dean Winchester greatly. He enjoys being surprised while shelving books by the presence of a warm, rough hand settling on his hip, and he enjoys the way that poetry sounds when it rolls off of Dean's self-trained tongue. The slip-ups in cadence and, sometimes (not often), in pronunciation just make his recitations that much more endearing. Castiel sits on the counter with his legs crossed, a stack of new acquisitions keeping him in his place — apparently, more and more students from the different U-Maine campuses have heard of him and want to see their books given into hands that actually care for them. To both his left and his right, he has more texts to sift through, and at the moment, he busies himself with a copy of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, one in better condition than the fare he usually gets from these undergraduate types.
His head snaps up when he hears Dean quoting: "He walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies / And all that's best of dark and bright / Meet in his aspect and his eyes…" Looking up, Castiel sees Dean leaning on the nearest shelf, wearing a smirk and carrying his Metallica shirt. He closes the distance between them before concluding: "Thus mellow'd to that tender light / Which Heaven to gaudy day denies."
"How very Dead Poets' Society of you." Castiel snickers, and almost smiles at this display. "What happened to your shirt?"
"And we've graduated to Stephen Sondheim. Excellent."
Dean scoffs. "Like you could do any better."
With one hand on his books and the other Dean's left shoulder, Castiel frees up his lap and nudges the other man to the space between his legs. His knees find a comfortable home along Dean's sides, near his hips, and he keeps his hand on Dean's shoulder, even as its fellow ghosts over Dean's short hair (just long enough to run his fingers through) and down to the back of his neck. "Jonathan," he says, "in the Bible, was King Saul's son. And he had a special bond with David — the one who slew Goliath and played secret chords for God.
"And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David…" He grips Dean's shoulder more firmly, and smiles at the little moan Dean gives him… "and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house." Behind Dean's back, Castiel toes off his sneakers and his socks; he presses the sole of one foot into the back of Dean's muscular thigh, trails up the denim — bending his knee, lifting his leg until he has it on Dean's ass.
He kneads his toes into Dean's flesh, cleaving to the other man as he worms around, and whispers, "Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul." His hold on Dean's shoulder grows stronger still, and there is good reason, Castiel thinks, to fear Dean bruising. But, still, he continues: "And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David…" Castiel's lips bestow a quick, soft touch to Dean's collarbone. He keeps the contact feather-light… "and his garments, even to his sword…" Castiel kisses Dean's throat, scrapes his teeth along the Adam's apple. "…and to his bow, and to his girdle."
Leaning down, Castiel tightens his legs just enough to remind Dean of their presence, and kisses Dean gently, slowly, with a little slip of tongue into Dean's mouth and enough heat between their lips to put the stars to shame. He cups Dean's jaw as he concludes, "First Samuel, chapter eighteen, verses one through four."
Dean's hand creeps onto Castiel's knee, slides up his thigh. "That's cheating, choir boy." At Castiel's inquiry into how Dean's concluded this, he answers, "You're cribbing lines from the Good Book." Castiel huffs, and reminds Dean that he not only cribbed lines from Byron, but took the extra effort to adjust the gender pronouns. "Well, yeah, but I'm not going to just up and call you a chick, Cas. You might get ornery with me." Castiel agrees that he probably would. "So what, it's my turn to borrow from someone to seduce you?"
"The Byron was seductive enough," Castiel says. "Consider this my treat for not throwing something at those children who tried to massacre my first edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover."
For a moment, Dean considers this, then drags his hand up Castiel's side. He rests it behind Castiel's neck, and pulls him down into a kiss. When they separate, Dean keeps Castiel close, leaning in so far to his ear that each of his breaths caresses Castiel's skin. "I love you, I love you, I love you…" His cheek knocks into Castiel's, and Castiel can't help why Dean feels so much warmer than he does. "…with the armchair and the book of death, / down the melancholy hallway, / in the iris's darkened garret, / in our bed that is the moon's bed, and in that dance the turtle dreams of."
He nuzzles down Castiel's cheek and presses his lips into the pulse point above Castiel's jugular vein — but the kiss doesn't stop there. Instead, Dean bites and sucks at Castiel's skin; his teeth gnash enough to make Castiel groan and whine, clench his hand harder still on Dean's shoulder. Then, Dean licks the work of his mouth, and speaks against the forming bruise: "In Vienna I will dance with you / in a costume with / a river's head. / …I will leave my mouth between your legs, / my soul in photographs and lilies, / and in the dark wake of your footsteps, / my love, my love, I want to leave / violin and grave, the ribbons of the waltz."
Castiel has no time to respond before Dean barrages his neck with another series of kisses. He works at the same place where his teeth have been, and slowly, places a series of softer kisses around Castiel's neck. As Dean starts mirroring this process above the carotid artery, verses come up in Castiel's mind, and he can't stop himself from murmuring: "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm…" Dean's gasp is one of pain, and rightly so: Castiel's fingers go white from the effort he puts into holding Dean's shoulder. "…for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave…" He leans his head towards Dean's, knocks his nose into Dean's temple. "…and the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."
He jerks Dean closer, presses their chests together, feels his cock start hardening and the deep rumble of need within his chest and stomach. With one hand on the back of Dean's head, he coaxes Dean to kiss him harder, faster, deeper, harder (which, in a demanding hiss, interrupts his recitation). Dean smirks against Castiel's skin as if to ask where the Bible had anyone moaning like a porn star, but this gives way to a gentle kiss when Castiel taps him on the neck. "Many waters cannot quench love," he says, "neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love…"
The front door slams against the wall and even before he looks up, Castiel hears someone barking his name. "Dean," he snaps. "Run — go out the back."
Dean nods, presses his lips against Castiel's pulse one last time, and then darts through the stacks. He leaves his shirt behind, sitting on the counter between Castiel and the books. Castiel trembles as he meets his brothers' gazes — the ice blue of Michael's and Raphael's earthy brown. All solid muscle and a lupine rage, Michael's by Castiel's side in an instant, yanking him down off the counter; he tosses Dean's shirt to Raphael.
"Burn that," he instructs. "I'm going to have a talk with our little brother about his unhealthy tendencies."
"Excuse me, they told you what?" Castiel shakes his head and grimaces at Anna. Even though she's holding her girlfriend's hand in public, it's too muggy out here for him to deal with this line of questioning — and, even if it weren't, he suffered through lunch with Tessa informing him that a small order of soup wasn't really a sufficient lunch. It's not that he dislikes his twin sister's significant other, with her pale skin, her round red lips, and her breathy voice like warm wind in a cypress tree.
It's just that his chest gets tight with regret every time he sees their interlaced fingers, and when they stop at a crosswalk and Anna kisses Tessa's temple, he feels like he might explode. The hickeys on his neck are still visible, despite the attempts he's made at hiding them, and although he hates wearing his shirt buttoned up all the way in summer, it's the best option that he knows of to put them somewhere out of sight.
"Frowning isn't really a descriptive answer, Castiel," Tessa reminds him.
"Michael told me to break it off with Dean or he and Raphael would out me to Father." Whatever 'it' is — for all Samael insists on calling Dean his 'boyfriend,' and has in the three weeks since he found out (more so in the five days since Michael and Raphael's interference), Dean and Castiel haven't made anything 'official,' let alone thought to start flinging around nomenclature they outgrew God only knows how long ago. "Raphael seems to be in agreement with him, that if I cannot 'address my unnatural inclinations' on my own, then it would be best for our Father to exert his spiritual influence on me."
"They can't do that, Cas," Anna snaps, shaking out her mane of fiery hair. The expression she shoots him has "I won't let them."
"I don't mean to make you feel devalued, Anna." Castiel sighs, ducking off the sidewalk and onto the stairs into his shop. "But if they set their mind to this, then there's nothing that you can do." With which, he unlocks the door, intent on getting back to work.
Tessa calls after him (but barely raises her voice): "Break up with your boy and I might have to kill you!"
That Tessa could mean this as more than a threat vaguely occurs to Castiel, but he doesn't allow himself to entertain the notion for long — he has books to reshelve, appraise, and otherwise welcome into his massive collection… and not long after he starts this process, he runs out of the little stickers he uses to mark up prices. As always, he heads for the back-room…
but he pauses at the sight he finds there, at the fact that Dean's younger brother — Sam, who Castiel recognizes from Dean's photographs and who is taller than Castiel had imagined — has Samael at his back and Gabriel before him, on his knees, licking up the underside of his cock. Castiel thinks to interrupt them, to demand why they decided it was acceptable to use his back-room like this, but he notices something as the shock starts to wear off and as the hot, red flush recedes from his cheeks.
Samael's eyes, Castiel notices, have darkened, but not in lust. The way that he kisses Sam Winchester is possessive, but not demanding, and his long fingers trail down Sam's muscles, cup his ass (to distract him, no doubt, from the thigh Samael slips between his own and uses to spread Sam's legs), and hold him as though he's something precious. Irreplaceable. Gabriel shows the same care as he takes the head of Sam's dick in his mouth and works his way down, up, taking more and more of the younger Winchester past his teeth — and Sam moans as though he's praying. The sound's holy enough that he might be.
Castiel makes his exit without saying a word. He knows, now, what he needs to do.
It's a Thursday, two weeks after catching his brothers and Sam Winchester, when Castiel decides that tonight's closing will be whenever he and Dean are the only ones left in the store. As always, Dean wanders in around three, wearing a Mötorhead t-shirt and his jeans with the rip in the knees; only one other person comes in after him, and he leaves soon after deciding that the musty smell is just too much to handle, considering he can't find anything easily. Castiel locks the front door soon thereafter.
A book falls off the shelf as he shoves Dean into it — an annotated critical translation of The Dark Night Of The Soul, by Saint John of the Cross. Castiel doesn't bother with the significance of it; he just assaults Dean's mouth with his own, kissing with a starved ferocity, because he wants this, he needs this, and damn the consequences of it. Dean's lips move against his own in longer, slower motions and his hands fall to Castiel's waist. They're rough, but they caress him with a perfect middle ground between tenderness and the fear that Castiel might break. To prove he won't, he grinds into Dean's hips — at first, hard and fast; then, harder, slower, pressing into the other man, trailing back and forth, until he feels Dean's torso vibrate with a groan.
Dean comes at his mouth again, but despite his height advantage, Castiel dodges this kiss; he snakes his fingers into Dean's hair and jerks his head back, only exerts any care because of the shelf, and how he'd rather not take Dean to the emergency room. He trails his wet lips up Dean's neck slowly, precisely, until he comes to the pulse point above Dean's jugular — the same place where, even now, even after it's gone, he remembers Dean kissing him as though his life depended on it.
The first kiss Castiel places here is gentle, soft, a whisper of lips on skin. But it does not stay that way. He grates his teeth on Dean's skin, tastes the salty remnant of the sweat. Castiel bites, and sucks, and works Dean over with the care and attention of a craftsman. His own pulse racing, he bites down, feels the vibrations from Dean's heartbeats, and Dean moans so nicely — his mouth hangs open so enticingly. Castiel just has to return to his lips, kiss them as though he's drawing out a poison.
Castiel all but rips Dean's jeans apart to get them open, lets them fall around Dean's knees, palms at Dean through his boxers, whispers into his mouth, "How much do you want it?" His own cock hardens as Dean rubs their thighs together; the deepened kissing makes this worse, sets a writhing fire loose in Castiel's chest. "As much as I do?" he mutters, accepting a nod and another meeting of their lips in place as a yes. "This could get dangerous for both of us if my father finds out."
Dean smirks. Chuckles. Gently cups Castiel's jaw. "Whoever said danger's a bad thing, Cas?"
Castiel agrees with a downward jerk of Dean's boxers.