Confounded by the Tulip
"Son of a bitch."
Cas seems a little confounded by the tulip. He moves it from hand to hand as though he has no idea what to do with it. Chelsea bustles to the rescue. She introduces herself and Dean catches the guy's name, "Tony".
"Let me go grab a vase for this," Chelsea tells them, dropping Tony's hand and brushing her hand over Cas's arm. She shoots Dean a look as she crosses to the kitchen. Dean feels two fingers press against the bottom of his chin and push his jaw shut. It's Gabriel. Dean looks over at him. He smirks.
Dean glances around the table. Thomas looks like he's trying not to laugh. Chuck is carefully arranging his cards; he of course, saw this coming. Matthew looks uncomfortable and Jose looks vaguely amused.
Over by the door Cas looks flushed. Tony looks anxious.
Chelsea crosses back with a wine bottle that has been rinsed out and is half full of water. She holds it out and after a moment, Cas realizes that he's supposed to put the flower in it. Dean's about to stand up and try to establish just when in the hell Cas wound up with a date, with a dude, without Dean hearing shit about it. And since when was Cas gay?
But as he's pulling his feet under himself Chelsea is already herding Cas and Tony out of the house. She comes back to the table, drops into her chair and pulls her beer toward herself.
"Chels?" Dean asks. He meant to use his empathetic Fed voice, but her name comes out in his gruff –threatening-monsters voice and he's not sure how that happened. "Can I talk to you for a second?"
"Mm. I don't think that'll be necessary," Chelsea answers.
"Upstairs, Chelsea." Dean growls. She rolls her eyes but sets her cards face down on the table and follows Dean's lead when he pushes his chair back and starts up the stairs. Gabriel follows too and Dean doesn't bother trying to dissuade him.
"What the hell, Chelsea? Why didn't I know about this?"
"He was mad at you for lying to him so he decided that a lie by omission would teach you a lesson. And I told him that was petty and childish, but I didn't think he should tell you either."
"What?" Dean demands. "Why?"
"Dean- Cas is going forward by leaps and bounds, when I met him he was probably emotionally like five years old and now he's up to like… maybe 16. Okay? He's never been on a date. He's never just liked someone. He told me all about this guy helping him with his car and taking him out for coffee and taking him home and kissing him at the door and asking him out and he was so excited. It was heartbreaking. And I thought if he told you, you might… shit on it."
"I might what?"
"Look me in the eye and tell me that you're not freaking out that this person that he clicked with is a dude, Dean."
Dean huffs, but he doesn't sound convincing. "I don't have a problem… that's not…."
"You get all squirrelly when there are gay couples on TV, or we see one when we all go out. Cas told me all about "no affection for dudes" even though you let him hold your hand all the time. He told me about you telling him that it's all different with girls and that he can't kiss you."
"He kissed you?" Gabriel laughs out loud. Dean looks at him, he'd sort of forgotten that he was around for this.
"Shut up, Gabriel. And Chels- it's not like I freaked out- I just explained that he can't kiss me. That's true. He can't just go around kissing people. And getting back to this "emotionally 16" thing- you just ushered him out the door with a grown ass man. If you think he's this gawky little teenager, explain how that's okay?"
"We went over all the scenarios, Dean. I told him not to get drunk, I told him not to go over to the guy's house. We had an incredibly weird little sex talk and God now owes me some sort of sainthood for explaining blowjobs to a millennium old Angel."
"God owes us all a lot of things," Gabriel declares.
Chelsea plows on. "He has our phone numbers. We're all here. I'm staying sober and besides," she sets a hand on Gabriel's shoulder. "You're not going to let anything happen to your little cousin are you?"
Dean could just kill her. Gabriel looks down at her hand and then back up at her with a grin, as though this entire scenario just tickles him.
"Of course not."
"See? And we've got a prophet with a pretty singular focus on your life downstairs. Castiel is going to be fine."
"Okay- I don't have a problem with the… with this, but seriously- He lives with me. No one was going to mention to me that the guy I live with and spend all my time with might be gay?"
Chelsea gives him a look that makes Dean able to feel his balls trying to climb up into his body and out of the way. "Would it matter?"
Dean's not doing this pansy, city shit right now. "You know yeah, when he's all kissy and grabby- it does. I'm sorry, but it does."
"Castiel can't be gay," Gabriel declares. "Angels don't have gender. That's a totally human thing. Cas is a multidimensional wavelength of celestial intent in a Jimmy Novak suit."
"Jimmy Novak?" Chelsea asks.
"I'll explain later," Dean sighs.
"Well. Anyway. There you go. Cas isn't gay- and you just proved you would have shit on it and if I hear anything at all- anything, Dean Winchester- about you giving Cas a hard time about this little dating a guy interlude, I will kick six kinds of crap out of you," Chelsea declares.
"Yes. That would be fun!" Gabriel agrees. "Let's go for seven!"
The previous part of the conversation, part of which had been poking Dean in the brain, finally gets his attention. "Wait… this guy helped him with his car?"
"Yeah. Cas went to the bookstore last week and his tire popped. You were off summoning Gabriel and he couldn't get a hold of us. This guy- Tony- helped him out."
Gabriel turns his tickled grin on Dean. "It's too bad both of your phones were on the blink, huh?"
Dean snaps. His fist is cocked back and gunning for the Archangel's face before he can stop it. Gabriel doesn't even flinch and it's like slamming his hand into a brick wall.
"Dean, calm down," Chelsea admonishes him.
"Chelsea- stop it," Dean shouts shaking out his hurt hand and turning to Gabriel. "Did you set this up, you dick?"
"No, this was actually an unforeseen consequence," Gabriel says, still with that shit eating grin. "All I did was pop the tire and block the phone calls. I just wanted to get you caught. This is gravy. Maybe Fate stepped in. She really really hates you guys."
Chelsea gives Gabriel a slightly more cautious look, as though she is (fucking finally, Chels, Dean thinks) starting to realize that Gabriel is actually a very powerful supernatural creature and not just a big blonde Cas and maybe she shouldn't treat him like a dress up doll too.
"Fine. Whatever. Let's go play cards. But I swear Gabriel, if anything happens to Cas because of this I am throwing myself and angel barbeque."
Gabriel fakes a shiver and then fans himself. Dean almost hits him again.
"Alright, boys. We have guests. Back downstairs."
Dean can hear Chuck's nasal, squeaky voice as he comes down the stairs and ties to fight down the irritation so that Matthew, Thomas and Jose don't have to deal with him in a killing mood. They've already been sucked into Life-with-Castiel weirdness, they don't know that they are in the middle of Angel and Prophet weirdness, and they only came for cards.
"I mean, yeah, everyone asks where you got the ideas and I got a lot of them from Sam." Oh, good, Dean thinks. Cas saw the break room thing and knows to play along so he isn't that suspicious of a extra dude in the game. "Like, originally, but now they just kind of come to me. Like… Castiel is in the new one."
"Really?" Jose asks. "Is he a Hunter too?"
Good. Now Jose from works knows what a Hunter is. Awesome.
"Umm… actually he's an Angel. I'm spinning on his name a little. I'm setting the Angels up as soldiers."
"Huh," Jose comments. "I guess that makes sense."
"Cas in is the next one, huh?" Dean says. Chuck jumps at the sound of Dean's voice. Dean thinks that serves him right.
"Yeah… you know. Whole… warrior… thing. Don't look at me like that. You all come off really well. World saving and everything."
"So, Dean gets out of hell then?" Thomas asks.
"Do you bastards all read these books?"
The guys all give him grins. Chuck nods and gulps from his whiskey glass. He starts fiddling with his cards again. "I uh… brought an advance copy of the new one… if you … Dean if you want to breeze through it or anything."
"Nope. It's bad enough everyone else reads them, Chuck."
"I think they're good, Chuck," Chelsea says kindly. She sees the look in Dean's eye and shrugs. Dean is slightly mollified when she adds. "I only read the first couple."
Chuck steers the conversation away from topics that are eventually going to cause him to die in the dark somewhere. Gabriel tells a couple either invented or completely reworked stories about growing up with Cas and their huge gaggle of religious cousins. Zacariah comes up in a context that makes it seem like he's not the absolute worst. Dean wishes he didn't know that.
Dean's surprised when he realizes that Gabriel never wins a hand. He just talks and laughs and listens to everyone's stories. Freaking Angels. Chelsea surprises everyone by winning one of the bigger pots of the night.
Matthew's the first to go home, giving up after a couple hours. Jose leaves after another hour or so.
After the other guys leave Thomas switches to water and a Chelsea deals out the next hand, Thomas asks, in his cheerful, neutral, Thomas way.
"So… were we… not supposed to find out that Cas is gay?"
Chuck chokes on his whiskey, then drinks more to wash it down.
"It's a little complicated," Gabriel offers.
Thomas nods. "Yeah. Totally. I get that. But just… I'm fine with that. I mean, not to get all goobery on you, or anything. Just- If you weren't expecting it from a small town mechanic, it is okay with me."
"Uh… kay. Thanks, Thomas," Dean replies awkwardly, wondering why Thomas is telling him this when this is totally a Cas thing.
Gabriel breaks into the awkward moment by declaring that the next game will be Texas Hold'em. Chuck starts pressing his fingers into his temple. Thomas doesn't seem to be done though.
"I mean, I had this cousin, Chad. And he was kind of like Cas. Not… really impacted the way Cas is, but a little quiet. Little Shy. Usually hung back at social stuff, but would always talk to anyone who talked to him. He was gay. We were buddies."
Dean hears the tone and takes a sip of his beer before deciding to ask. "What happened to him?"
"He passed. Hunting accident."
There's something about the way Thomas stresses hunting. Something about Thomas's slight change in stance and expression. He's suddenly not bubbly Thomas anymore. He's the kind of haunted and stretched thin guy that Dean recognizes.
"And what were the two of you hunting?" Dean asks carefully.
"I didn't say we were hunting," Thomas says, a little of his normal grin seeping back onto his face.
"Call it a hunch," Dean says. He flicks his gaze around the table. Chuck looks like he's getting a prophesy, he looks like he's about to hurl and he's trying to hold his head together. Chelsea looks like she's not sure what's happening, but she's ready to duck under the table anyway. Gabriel looks like he wishes he had popcorn.
Thomas shrugs and laughs. "Pagan harvest god in Nebraska. Locals were sacrificing travelers to it for good corn." Thomas divulges this like he's laying down his hand and he knows it's good, but he knows it's not that good.
Dean nods. "Sammy and I had a case like that a few years ago. Locals were all about their apples though."
Thomas laughs. "I knew it. As soon as walked in and saw the missing bookshelves. You're really Dean Winchester. And you're real."
Gabriel snorts. Chuck starts rubbing his other temple. Chelsea's watching in the same way she does when Dean teaches her to clean a gun or hold a knife.
"I've got cousins that still Hunt. There was a rumor going around the Winchesters were hunting Death himself. But no one had ever met the Winchesters. They just told stories. When I found out about Chuck's books I assumed he hand Hunters in the family and had heard about it. Figured you might be a hunter and you'd just taken the name on because no one would recognize it unless they'd heard of you."
Chelsea turns to him. "Dean?"
"Well…" The tone that Thomas is using makes Dean uncomfortable. He's talking to Dean with awe. Like he's legendary. Worse- like he's legendary for something he stumbled into. Ike he actually scythed Death instead of had a discussion that made him feel like a four year old while he ate a horseman's deep dish.
"Death? Like skull and robe anthropomorphic personification Death?" Chelsea demands.
Dean looks at her blankly.
"Death. The horseman," Thomas supplies. Cause the rumor was you'd already taken out War, Famine and Pestilence."
"Sam took out Famine. Cas got Pestilence. And I didn't… Death was kind of on our side. We ate some pizza. Talked."
"You had pizza with a horseman?" Thomas asks quizzically.
"Wait… like capital "D" Death?" Chelsea asks. Dean wonders why she seems so surprised by this.
"That guy loves his greasy food,' Gabriel comments.
"The drafts for that scene are a nightmare," Chuck mutters, topping up his glass.
"This I have to hear." Thomas crosses his arms and settles back in his chair. Cards forgotten.
"Me too," Gabriel says, monkeying Thomas. "You'd already gotten me killed by this part of the story. What happened next?"
Thomas let's that register. "What? What are you?"
"Let's not talk about what I am until after the saga of the horsemen."
Dean tries to dissuade them all, but they keep looking at him and insisting. Chelsea pushes it into a story about how they beat all of the Horsemen. There's more of Sam in this tory thatn he wants to include, but he doesn't want to deny his missing brother the heroism. He manages to avoid… well, outing, Cas as an Angel, but Gabriel volunteers his identity when they get to the part about the Horsemen's rings opening Lucifer's cage. Dean can't get through the part about Sam taking on Satan. Chuck takes over.
Hearing The Prophet speak onto the people about your deeds is a trippy experience. It makes it sound so ordered and intentional. Dean and Sam set forth to beat Lucifer intentionally. Like even when Dean dropped by Stanford because he was lonely and afraid and miserable because even his father had abandoned him, the endgame had always been stopping the apocalypse with pure stupid free will. Not guilting Sam into hunting whthin him and ruining Sam's life and then getting Sam locked in hell with the most powerful and most pissed off of all the Archangles so that Dean didn't have to be alone.
He doesn't like the way Chuck's intonation makes them all look at him.
His attempt to drag the night back to cards fails, so he redirects to Thomas's hunting stories, wondering through all of them how Thomas seems so normal after seeing what Dean's seen. By midnight the human's are tired. Thomas goes home. Dean starts to worry that Cas isn't back yet.
Chuck is clutching his head and looking like he's about to hurl, but he swears it's not about Cas and he'll call if that changes. Chelsea has started fussing over him. Which is better than her talking to Gabriel like he's a normal person.
Dean runs up to the can. When he comes back down Chuck and Gabriel are gone. Chelsea's on the couch fiddling with a can of popl.
"Oh good. The Heaven squad finally booked," Dean sighs. He grabs a beer and drops down next to her. "You seem quiet and not particularly annoying. What's up?"
"Just… tired." She shrugs. "My life got weird. But I guess I shouldn't complain. I'm sorry about Sam."
"I know. I'm just… I'm sorry that we've all being pushing you. Especially me. I didn't understand the situation. I shouldn't have assumed that I did."
"Could we kill the chick flick moment, please?"
"I'm a chick, Dean. I'm allowed.
Dean actually laughs at that. "Right. So, when did you and Cas secretly arrange for him to get home?"
"Don't be like that. I put in the obligatory creeper call after he left. He said it was fine. They're doing dinner and a movie. It's not that late for that."
"Chuck getting all prophety makes me nervous."
Chelsea shrugs and curls back against the couch. "So. Tell me more about Gabriel."
"Chelsea? It's a body he tricked some poor bastard into handing over. Gabriel is not cute. Gabriel is not fun. Gabriel is a monster. Also, you are not his type."
"Gay, huh?" she laughs.
"Why do you always say that?"'
"I'm kidding. And I don't like him, he's just interesting. How often do people who aren't you meet an Archangel?"
"It's no good. Trust me on this."
"Well, maybe the middle Angel's are okay. Look at Cas. We love Cas," she yawns deeply and settles back into the couch.
"We don't love Gabriel," Dean says.
"Maybe he's lonely," Chelsea volunteers. "Cas said he was always very solitary in heaven. Besides. He didn't cause any trouble all night. He just hung out."
"Well… he could have caused trouble. We might just not know it yet."
Dean groans a little when that's the note where the door quietly creaks open and Cas steps inside.