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I


So, there’s plenty of things that Rictor might have blamed on Jamie Madrox that weren’t technically the guy’s fault one hundred percent. Thing is, at least this time? It’s definitely all Madrox’s fault. To a fucking T. Right, he supposes that finding out that your favorite book series might in fact be real would cause embarrassing consequences, and he would know that too since he’s pretty sure that if ‘Star found out that some show in his endless list of favorite things to watch on television was in fact real he’d probably have done the same, but he really shouldn’t have somehow expected Madrox to behave like a sane person, if that situation ever presented itself.


Doesn’t mean that it’s not Madrox’s fault that he’s currently stuck in the office along with ‘Star, a former angel of the Lord and a guy wearing a leather jacket with a broken arm who for all purposes seems in fact to be the famed Dean Winchester of the darned books. Winchester and the angel – right, call me Cas, he said – are looking for Winchester’s brother, who’s apparently being possessed by some other crazy renegade angel and who was seen last time in New York.


Well.


It’s not that he was seen – they had tracked him down and apparently even if the angel – pardon, Cas – got repowered recently (Ric has no clue whatsoever of why he was depowered in the first place – he did read the damned books because they turned out to be useful once, but they stopped long before the current times), and Dean had proceeded in getting his arm broken while they were up to some business in graveyards, and they probably would have died if Jamie hadn’t been casually passing by with Layla. Ric still has no clue of what the hell they were doing at fucking Calvarly Cemetery, but maybe they were on a case. If they weren’t he doesn’t even want to know.


So, whatever trick they pulled might have been enough to defuse the situation but not to stop the-other-possessed-Winchester brother, who’s currently missing.


Except that Jamie had obviously recognized who it was that he helped – Layla said that it was an embarrassing moment. Ric sort of can imagine it and is very glad that he wasn’t there. And of course he was glad to put X-Factor’s resources to use for them without charge. Also Dean surely couldn’t go around with a cast on his arm like that, and Cas looked beat and in need of a shower or at least some downtime, so they totally should have come to the homebase to chill while everyone else got on the case.


Everyone else except Ric apparently, and he had been about to argue with Jamie on that, because seriously, he doesn’t think that those two need any babysitting whatsoever or someone to keep an eye on them.


“Did you even pay attention when you read the damned books?” Jamie had said. “No way they’re going to stay put without anyone to make sure they will.”


“And that should be me… why?”


“Because of all your sets of skills, the only one we might need right now isn’t the kind that tears down buildings. And you can do that from home.”


“Jamie –”


Ric never got to actually finish that sentence, because then ‘Star had to be back from some solo job Jamie sent him on this morning – he doesn’t even look too beat-up, so Ric figures it had to be nothing exceedingly stressful.


Clearly ‘Star had read the books too, and clearly he’d recognize the guy with the trench coat and the suit looking at him and Jamie as if he had no clue of how to interrupt the conversation.


Clearly Ric knows more than enough about ‘Star liking those books because of course there was a character not coming from Earth who had no idea about any kind of social clues whatsoever but was a mighty warrior at the same time.


“Fine,” he had said the moment he realized how this was going to go. “I’m going to stay here. And he will too – I’m pretty sure he’s not passing the occasion either.”


Jamie looks sort of disappointed, but then again he would be plenty more useful than ‘Star anyway if they don’t need, well, people to get killed. Or maimed. Or injured.


So, it’s entirely Jamie’s fault if Ric is grabbing two beers from the fridge and going to the corner of the room where Dean is standing against the wall, looking with very incredulous eyes at ‘Star and his angel best friend forever discussing fucking Quantum Leap re-runs.


“Listen,” Ric says, “I’m kinda sure that you’re finding this entire thing really fucking weird. I’m definitely sure that I am. Also you look like you could use a drink. So?”


He hands the bottle over. Winchester looks at him, then at the couch.


“Hell yes,” he replies as he takes the bottle.


Ric ponders for a moment if he actually should open his own – he did try to cut back on the alcohol lately, but then again, he really needs a damned drink right now.


“Cheers,” he says, shrugging, and pops the bottle open.


Jamie owes him big for this.


--


Halfway through his beer, Dean clears his throat.


“So, uh, your boss says you’re a mutant detective agency? Let me tell you, it wasn’t anything I was expecting when we rolled into town.”


“Yeah, well, can’t fault you on that. Also I can feel that you’re not asking how the hell can we even manage to work in the same place, or am I wrong?”


“Nah. I mean, I thought about it for a moment, but I’d know what it means to be a mismatched group. The blond guy who kept on hitting on me was kinda freaky, though.”


“Longshot hits on everything that walks, breathes and looks human, don’t feel too special. Anyway, Jamie didn’t even make decent introductions, did we? Call me Ric.”


“That your real name?”


“Nah. Short for my codename, but there’s exactly one person other than my mother who ever calls me by my real one. And it’s pretty much exactly the number I want to keep it at.”


“Sure. Is the other person a secret?”


Ric rolls his eyes and takes a sip from his beer.


“Nope. That’d be the guy who’s been watching tv with your friend over there.” Ric also knows he’s not exactly putting much effort into not smiling slightly at it, but whatever, if the books are right, Winchester should be cool with it.


“Oh. So you two are, uh, a thing?” Dean’s cheeks flush ever so slightly.


“We’re a thing, yeah. Wait, what – oh.” Dean has just looked at the couch again, and he’s definitely not paying attention to ‘Star. He’s looking at Cas. Who has just apparently gotten out of his suit jacket and decided to get comfortable.


Oh, what?”


“Er, uhm, let’s just go to the kitchen,” Ric says, and Dean shrugs and follows him. The kitchen is empty and his beer bottle is as well.


“So?”


“Y’know, that’s not my business whatsoever, but that kinda looked like you wished you and your angel friend were a thing. And I’d know that because I went through the exact same thing, but I figured you wouldn’t wanna talk about it when they could hear. If you don’t want to talk about it in the first place I get it even too well, but if you do – hey, not like I have anything better planned for tonight.” Not that ‘Star’s hearing isn’t good enough that he could hear them, but Ric figures that he’s going to be too busy socializing to mind what they’re doing.


Dean stares at him for a moment, then looks down at his hands, still turning the bottle in between them.


“Why would you even want to?”


So he’s not denying it, at least.


“’Cause maybe if I had talked about it with someone back in the day, I’d have saved the both of us a lot of fucking effort. And drama. And issues. Especially because of the whole cultural differences deal. Dios, I need another drink for this, though.”


“Cultural differences?”


“Yeah, like him being an alien from another dimension where they breed people to kill each other on television. When we met he had been on Earth for… less than a year. Maybe. Or one, at mosr. But if those books are anywhere near right, I think you might get the whole part where social cues and shit have to be explained from the beginning, huh?”


Dean swallows and gives him a brief nod. “Yeah, that I’d know. Shit, this is so weird.”


“What isn’t weird about this entire deal?”


“Well, yeah. I mean. That I’m talking to the one other person on this fucking planet who has a thing for – well. The same kind of person I have a thing for. I guess.”


“Right. Guess I have to give it to you. Still, you haven’t fessed up? If he’s anywhere like ‘Star in that sense, I doubt he gives a shit that you’re a guy.”


“That’s not the problem,” Dean sighs, and then says nothing else. Ric figures that he can give him another beer, and if Guido gets upset that all the alcohol is gone he can actually complain to Jamie since he’s just being a gracious host here.


So he waits for five minutes. Meanwhile, he’s pretty sure that in the other room they’re watching some crime procedural show. He hopes it’s not CSI Miami of all things.


“I lost that train,” Dean says when he’s gone through half of his second bottle.


“You did what?”


“Fessing up. Should’ve done it years ago. Now – it’s just too complicated. And – I’ve been a total shit to him lately. He deserves a lot better. Not to mention that apparently everyone around me gets killed. He died three times, maybe that’s enough.”


“I’ll agree to disagree on that. For some trains it’s never too late. And I used to think the same thing about him and me. Well. The not deserving part of it. I was a shit to him too, at some point, and it was mostly because I couldn’t deal with… not being in love with a girl instead, I guess. Guess what, apparently that wasn’t a deal breaker for him. You never know until you make sure of it.”


He wishes he knew why he’s actually spilling all of this to a complete stranger, but – Dean looks like the embodiment of misery and while Ric hasn’t signed up for any helping-with-realizing-you’re-not-straight-issues hotline anytime lately, well, doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t share if it meant someone else not making the same stupid mistakes that he did when ‘Star is concerned.


“Does being a shit to him include something like kicking him out of your place because you’re trusting people you shouldn’t and doing the equivalent about three times, exactly when he actually needed you the most?”


“Well, when we were in our, uh, previous team, shit happened and I up and left to go back to Mexico when I knew he’d be devastated – shit, we had sort of fessed up not that much before and I still didn’t even think about an alternative. I mean, he tried to stop me up until I got on the fucking plane. And when I came back it was because he got himself into some kinda situation where he was about to lose his mind, and from what they told me he wasn’t doing so splendidly before either. Also, if Cas over there was that pissed with you about it, he wouldn’t be on this nice solo mission with you, or would he?”


“There are other things at stake,” Dean mutters.


“Still doesn’t mean he had to go with you.”


He’s not really expecting an answer and he doesn’t get one. Dean’s already done with his beer, again – apparently he’s found a match for his drinking binges, Rictor thinks, and he doesn’t know where it ranks on the scale from sad to fucking depressing.


Then he hears what looks like America’s Got Talent coming from the living room. Dean’s eyes go wide in horror – Rictor merely rolls his own. One day he’ll get ‘Star to stop watching that crap, but this is not it.


“Let me guess, you could do with stronger booze.”


Please,” Dean all but begs.


Well, fine. For once, he can put it on Jamie’s bill, right? Rictor goes for the liquor cabinet and breaks out the tequila.


Dean’s gonna drink most of that anyway, if he’s guessing things right.


--


If anything, he’s not wrong – the tequila goes three quarters to Dean and one quarter to him. By now, he’s definitely not sober, but he also has a long way to go before he moves on from buzzed to wasted – last time he seriously got drunk, he’d ingested way more than what he’s had until now.


The fact that Dean also looks midway towards decently drunk instead of smashed like some regular human being who’s not a functioning alcoholic is also telling a lot, but he’s not entirely sure he wants to dwell on it.


“Are they still watching that crap?”


“Seems like it. But nevermind that. How aren’t you trashed already?”


“Got practice.” Dean shrugs and downs the last shot of tequila. “You hold your own pretty good though.”


“I always found it a decent coping mechanism. More or less. But I guess I haven’t done much of that lately.”


“You sure you don’t have any more?”


Ric wordlessly gets up and hands him another bottle. “Here you go, but it can’t be that great for you.”


“Yeah, well, don’t really have that many other options now.”


“You sure? I’d advise fessin’ up.”


“How does that have to do with anything?”


He’s barely even slurring. Ric is more than mildly impressed.


“Well, don’t know about you, but – right. Long story. So, me and ‘Star over there, we’ve started being a thing years ago. But at some point he had to go do some super secret business back at the time of that whole registration act clusterfuck, y’know, and I just figured he’d come back at some point but he never did – more long story you don’t care for. Some time after that, other crap happened and most mutants found themselves depowered just like that. Me included. And, uh, before he actually came back through some ridiculous interdimensional traveling or shit like that, other than the drinking, er, I kind of tried to jump off a roof once. And to get myself killed a second time. Then – er, he came back. And we were a thing again. And I really didn’t feel like drinking myself to death every other day, if you get what I mean. ‘M not saying it goes away, I’m just saying it becomes a whole lot easier. You really shouldn’t underrate the entire fessing up deal.”


Well, shit, he’s got to be a lot drunker than he thinks he is, if he talked that much. Then again, at least if he’s talking he doesn’t have to listen to someone butchering Celine Dion from the television, and it’s not like he even digs her in the first place.


“Sounds nice,” Dean agrees before giving up on the glass and going straight for the bottle. Rictor lets him – he’s not going to drink any more heavy stuff for a while. “He still doesn’t deserve to get saddled with me.”


Fine, it’s official. He found someone with less self-esteem than his own personal low. At least he can try and convince Terry of that, since she tends to think that getting worse than him is impossible, but that’s an entirely different issue.


Also he’s wondering what happened between the point the books were done and now because damn if he wouldn’t have imagined someone… less beaten now, he figures.


“Sorry to break it to you, but one thing I had to learn the hard way is that… about that issue, you’re not the only one calling the shots.”


“How am I not?”


“Because I’ve had that same conversation more than once and every damn time I had it, ‘Star just looked at me like I was the biggest idiot on the planet and told me I really had no fucking clue what I was saying. And – well, takes two to tango, right?”


Dean doesn’t look anywhere near convinced, but he doesn’t ask for more alcohol either. Shit, he really needs to come up with some way to lighten up the conversation, but then again from what he knows guy’s just made a colossal mistake that cost him a friend’s life, could cost him his brother’s and according to him might as well have cost him the fessing up train, he’s probably not a barrel of laughs right now. He grabs his phone and sees a text – ten cents it’s Jamie, he thinks as he opens it.


It’s Jamie. If only he wasn’t betting with himself he’d be richer. Clearly he wants to know how things are going. Star’s keeping the angel entertained. Your precious Winchester looks like he could use ten breaks from life stat. You found anything?


He’s not really expecting to get an answer a minute later or so, except that it’s from Terry’s phone. What.


If we let Jamie answer you he’d have sent you the longest to-do list in history. We’re working on a couple leads but there’s nothing too important for the moment. He says to not let the funk get worse if you can.


Nothing he hadn’t expected. Well then, now he just has to find a way to –


He gets another text. From Layla of all people.


Find yourself a pair of earplugs.


… well, that one was more cryptic than usual. Whatever, it’s not gonna be the first time he ignores her cryptic warnings, and it probably won’t be the first time he regrets it if it comes to that.


“Right. Listen, I get that you feel miserable, but my boss is going to kill me if he comes back and finds you dead of alcohol poisoning and looking like you’re about to jump off a window.”


“That’s really fucking touching, Ric. And tell me there’s more tequila.”


“Sorry, just beer from now on. If I let you have more of that and my boss doesn’t kill me, your not-boyfriend will.”


Dean snorts out loud at that – well, better than the moping. “I really doubt your boyfriend would let him.”


“Since that’d put him in a very difficult position just don’t do any more damage to your liver then.”


“Difficult position?”


“Man, he reads those books too. I don’t think anyone in this stupid place hasn’t read them, mostly because they ended up being fairly useful at some points, but I digress.”


“Useful.”


“Demons showed up at some point. It was, uh, interesting. To put it mildly. Anyway, my boyfriend has a ridiculous thing for your not-boyfriend, since, y’know, matching backgrounds and all. So he really wouldn’t want to have to kill him. If you get my drift.”


“I’m entirely too drunk for this fucking conversation,” Dean sighs, and then grabs a new beer anyway. “Matching backgrounds.”


“I guess aliens from another dimension aren’t quite the same as angels, but hey, you try listen to him saying that finally he has some character to relate to because oh, he has no clue about acceptable human behavior but is a badass warrior and had trouble relating with people and has to learn to have proper feelings, and who doesn’t give a damn about human notions about sexuality, then we can talk about it.”


“… he’s seriously like that too?”


“Yep. Sure thing. I just hope yours didn’t go through a phase where he’d kiss everything that breathed just to try it.”


“… Er, let’s say that it never happened because of dire circumstances, but all things considered at some point I wouldn’t have ruled it out? I mean, he kissed someone just to try it after he watched porn for the first time. Guess you can’t rule that out.”


“Right, I’m not wondering about the whole identification deal any more,” Rictor answers, and he doesn’t even try to hide the shudder going through his shoulders. That wasn’t in the books, but it’s definitely nothing new. To him at least.


“I so don’t want to know what’s going on in the next room.”


“Yeah, I’m not sure of that either.”


“Uhm, you mind if I ask you somethin’ personal?”


“What the hell have we been doing until now other than caring and sharing?”


Dean shrugs and takes another drink. Damn, this must be huge.


“You said he up and left doing things and then he came back and you were a thing again, right?”


“Yeah. So?”


“How did that happen?”


“You want the long version or the short one?”


Short, thanks.”


“He was being mind-controlled and fighting against us. Long story about who was doing it and how. Anyway, at some point he just stopped out of thin air while I was shouting at him to snap out of it, he looks at me and he’s obviously not mind-controlled anymore and first thing he does is kissing me right there and then. That’d be the short – dude, you went as pale as a sheet. The hell?”


Dean looks a sickly shade of white now. And he also looks like he’s going to throw up every minute.


“Wait until your boyfriend hears this then,” he whispers a moment later.


“Until he hears what?”


II.


“Are you telling me that you were being mind-controlled but you broke the link because he was asking you to?”


“Yes.” Castiel doesn’t add further explanations to his answers – he honestly had no clue of what to expect when the other man introduced himself as Shatterstar – but you can call me ‘Star, actually you should – and asked him if he wanted to take his mind off things while watching some television, but the moment he realized that he didn’t need to remember all the cues and fine details of the English language when talking to him he had felt entirely relieved. Then he had learned why and – well, the first thing he had thought was finally someone who would get it. Anyone else would have required an explanation, but ‘Star doesn’t really look like he’s going to ask for one.


Actually, he looks like he, indeed, gets it.


“May I ask what did you do after?”


“I left,” Castiel says regretfully. “I had to make sure no one could find the tablet and – it was too important. But most times I think I might have made a bad call.”


“Well, it seems like we were in the same situation, but with very different outcomes.”


“… The same situation?”


The movie they were watching is forgotten for the moment – not that Castiel minds especially. It wasn’t really that good, which is why they ended up talking instead of looking at it.


“After the last time I was on my home planet, I tried to get back to Earth. But something went wrong along the way and it ended with me being mind-controlled and sent against Julio –”


“Wait, that’s… Rictor?”


“Ah, fekt, I knew it would slip at some point. It’s his real name, he just doesn’t like people to use it. Just pretend I never told you. So, as I was saying, it went more or less the way you said.”


“But you didn’t leave, did you?”


“I kissed him.”


Oh. Well. Right. Castiel did know they were together, he doesn’t even remember who told him. Probably Madrox? Could have been. But now he thinks about actually giving in to his instincts and kissing Dean down in that crypt instead of just leaving the way he had, and suddenly his cheeks heat up. He’s not sure if it’d have happened when he still had his own grace, but then again the one he has is borrowed, isn’t it? His stomach also seems to have become tighter, and just thinking about it is making his head spin.


“I guess it went well then,” Castiel finally manages to say when he feels like he has regained some balance.


“It went extremely well,” ‘Star agrees, not even trying to hide the smugness at it. “You wish you had done the same.”


“I wish I had done the same in other occasions as well, but yes, I do,” Castiel agrees, feeling sort of relieved at finally being able to speak his mind without having to mask it or hide it or phrase it someway different. And talking to someone who actually seems to get where he’s coming from isn’t hurting at all either.


“Do you still want to?”


“Yes, but I feel like I shouldn’t. I know why he hasn’t helped when I needed him just now, but it still… how do they say it? It stings?”


“I think they do, yes. I have been here for years and I still miss the fine details of this idiotic language,” ‘Star sighs. “Though I think I’m correct if I say that this movie blows. It’s distracting even if it’s in the background.” Of course, because he’s following it at the same time. Castiel always could do it, but he never really met anyone human who could as well. Apparently he has met someone. Not human, of course, but he’s not going to make a problem out of that.


“We don’t have to finish it.”


“No, but Rictor usually makes a point out of finishing movies. Very well then.”


They settle on something named The Twilight Zone that Castiel has happened to see at times while he was either on his fruitless search for God or when he was in the psych ward. Well, if anything that time did give him occasion to watch a lot of television. He’s not sure how much it helped in the long quest to find out how humans actually work, but it’s nice to find out he’s not the only one who ever thought of it that way.


“That’s better,” ‘Star declares. “We were saying – oh, yes. Well, I might have found myself in that situation a couple of times, too. In the end, if I weighed wanting to against being angry, the first always won out.”


“And he’s worth it, isn’t he?” Castiel says quietly, barely audible considering also the volume of the television. Then again, ‘Star seems to have enhanced hearing since he doesn’t ask him to repeat.


“Yes,” he answers without hesitation and without explaining himself either, but it’s fine. Castiel doesn’t need him to explain anything, he just needs to hear the tone of his voice to know everything there is to know. “But Dean is never going to take the first move.”


Castiel is sure that it should be make the first move, but he lets it slide. “How do you know it?”


“Because I’ve just heard him and Ju – and Rictor discussing it.”


“… they’re discussing it.”


“In the kitchen, yes. They think we cannot hear them, and I guess you can’t, but maybe Rictor has forgotten that I have very good hearing. And Dean is stating out loud that he’s never going to do it, as I just said.”


“… Well, I don’t think he feels that way –”

Castiel doesn’t even finish the sentence. He thinks the are you an idiot look he’s just received is worthy of Balthazar’s, and he doesn’t really need to go there as well.


“He – he does?”


“I thought it was quite obvious from the moment Madrox introduced us, but even if I had not known, well, he has just told Rictor that he doesn’t deserve you, that he should have told you a long time ago and you would be insane to want him now, so yes, I think he does feel that way about you.”


“Oh, what an idiot,” Castiel blurts, shaking his head at the same time. Does Dean really think that? Of course he does. And of course he’s feeling doubly bad about it right now, and – well, Castiel isn’t going to feel entirely guilty for not letting the whole ‘you threw me out of the house’ thing go at once, he thinks it’s his right, but still, of course Dean thinks it’s a deal breaker.


“They tend to be like that, don’t they?”


“Why, is… Rictor like that, too?”


“Not as hopeless, maybe, but I am starting to think that the two of you and us have quite in common.”


“I might be starting to think the same,” Cas sighs as he leans back on the sofa. He doesn’t know why ‘Star apparently prefers the ground, but it’s nice to be able to lie on it the way he wishes. “So I should just… go for it, according to you?”


“That approach never failed me,” ‘Star agrees. “Also, at least you know he’s not going to say no.”


That’s also a very good point. “I guess I will follow the advice, then. But – maybe not now. It’s been ages since I could just – well, lie down and watch television. I intend to take full advantage of it.”


‘Star smirks. “I suppose I might have found someone who might really be interested in the Rawhide marathon airing in ten minutes, or am I wrong?”


Castiel thinks he has seen an episode or two, back in the psych ward. It was a western, he’s pretty sure. He didn’t dislike it. “You aren’t,” he finally says, and leans back on the sofa. Rawhide it is, then – after all, for once he doesn’t have to do any work and Dean should be fine where he is for the moment. He can allow himself a few episodes.


III.


“Uh, your boss found anything?” Dean asks, cursing at the way his words are quite slurring – he’s too damn fucking drunk. And he’s glad he didn’t get more tequila after all – he’d be hammered by now.


“Nope. I mean, I got a text saying they found some leads but they’ll probably be up all night doing that. My boss says that the guest room is all yours if you want to get some sleep. Well, guest room only has one bed, but it’s pretty big. Sorry, but every other damned room is occupied or on hold.”


“That’s okay – dunno if I can get any sleep in the first place an’ Cas doesn’t exactly need it.”


“Dude, sorry to disagree but you don’t look like someone who’s gonna stay awake much longer. And there’s just so much television anyone that isn’t ‘Star can stomach.”


“I’d sleep like crap anyway.”


“That’s another reason why fessing up wouldn’t be a bad idea.”


Oh, again.


“I don’t really think it works that way.”


“Well, only times I’ve slept decently since I was thirteen were when someone else was in the bed. Maybe that’s not your thing, but it can’t harm any, can it?”


Fuck, it was so much better when they were just drinking. Ric over there isn’t bad at all if you want a decent drinking partner, but if he quit with the darned Cas-related questions it would probably be better for everyone involved.


“Why, what happened when you were thirteen?”


“Got kidnapped by a terrorist organization who needed a portable earthquake generator,” Ric says while drinking from the current beer bottle. “Going to hell for forty years probably beats it, but I can grant you it was pretty fucked up.”


Well, Dean’s not going to argue on any of that. “Sorry ‘bout that anyway,” he mutters, knowing that he wouldn’t be saying this at all if he was sober.


“Lotsa water under the bridge, but thanks. So –”


“Isn’t that oversharing? Like, doesn’t your boy over there mind?”


Rictor laughs hard enough to spit half of the beer. “Ah, shit, thank fuck no one’s here to see that,” he says still in between snorts when he’s more or less regained control of himself. “No. I guarantee you he doesn’t mind whatsoever.” There’s probably more he’s not telling Dean, but it’s plenty fine – he’s not sure he wants to know what’s behind that statement. Not. At. All.


“Well, still too much information, pal.”


“Have they been watching fucking Rawhide for three hours now?”


Now that Dean pays attention to it… yeah. Definitely the Rawhide opening music. Another thing he could have been doing with Cas all this time, he thinks bitterly. Well, not watching Rawhide, out of everything, but Clint Eastwood movies? Why not? But no, Cas is doing it with an alien from another dimension instead. Who’s probably better company than he is right now anyway – fuck knows that Cas can use some company who shares a background, or however the hell Ric put it before.


“Amigo, if there’s one thing I can recognize from miles away, it’s a self-pity party. And you’re wasted. The guest room is free, y’know. Even if your not-boyfriend decides to watch television until next morning, you can use it.”


“Yeah, I think I’d just like to nurse my self pity with some more beer, if you won’t give up the tequila.”


“I’m down to the last six pack and I really don’t wanna face the wrath of everyone else who’s gonna want a drink when they’re back.”


Then Dean – well, Dean is half-sure that the guy’s eyes go narrow at once, as if he just had some kinda epiphany, but maybe he’s just imagining it because he’s trashed.


“Y’know what, I’m just gonna go at the store round the corner and restock. And possibly throw out all the empty glass around here. Just make yourself comfortable, I’ll be back in ten.”


“You’re a fucking godsend.” Right. Dean is drunk, if he just called this guy a godsend. Ric snorts again as if he’s incredibly amused by the whole deal and leaves the room after getting all the empty bottles into a trash bag. Dean doesn’t even try to help – he’d probably just break them.


There’s a few minues of background noise from the television – he can hear someone shooting and that’s pretty much it.


Then he can’t hear the television anymore.


Oh, shit, he thinks as he hears steps coming from the other room.


He’s secretly thankful that Rictor had dispatched the physical evidence of how much he’s had to drink in the last few hours, because the last thing he needs is giving Cas more reason to worry or to send him into a guilt trip. And last thing he needs is… er, getting silently judged by Ric’s boyfriend, who – well, now that Dean has a better look at the guy, he gets where the whole enhanced model of human perfection comes from, also because all the leather he’s wearing isn’t doing anything to hide how well he’s built. The scary thing is that those two are looking at it in more or less the same way, though at least ‘Star doesn’t stare the way Cas does. Then again no one stares quite the way Cas does, when he’s concerned.


He’s about to say something just to break the silence when some phone rings – right. It’s apparently gorgeous-alien-boyfriend’s, since he takes one out of his jacket pocket a moment later.


“That your boss?” Dean asks, quite failing to sound sober. If it is, he might as well get it over with.


“I am afraid not. It’s Rictor. It says to tell you that the shop is closed so he’s going to the next one over, but it might take longer than he thought. So – you should take up on Jamie’s offer? Which?”


“Uh. Nothin’. He said we could use the guest room, but I really don’t need to sleep.”


He’s looking down at his hands, so he misses the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it look the other two share.


“I would like to, though,” Cas says then.


“What? But –”


“I might have some powers back, but it’s not my grace, Dean. I can get tired. And – I haven’t slept on a proper bed since I became human. I think I would like to take your boss up on his offer, thank you.”


Ah, shit, Dean thinks. He didn’t even consider that angle. Because of course, didn’t Cas say he slept at the damn store, when he was working there? On the sleeping bag Dean gave him before he left as if it would solve anything? Fuck, he’s the shittiest friend on the fucking planet. And Rictor thinks he should fess up. Yeah, not happening anytime soon.


“I can show you there, if you want to,” ‘Star says diplomatically.


“You would be very welcome,” Cas replies, and – well, fuck this, it’s not like any booze is coming any time soon, right?


“Right, I’m gonna come too. I guess a bed beats spending another seven hours on a chair.” He also has to put an effort into standing up and keeping himself on his feet, but all right. He can do it.


Cas smirks for a moment at that. Right. He’s drunk. Imagining it. Definitely.


They both grab their bags from the entrance and follow ‘Star up to the third floor of the funeral home – surely these guys do know how to pick a home base, Dean thinks to himself.


“Very well,” ‘Star says after he opens one of the three doors they can see on the floor. “This is the room. There’s a bathroom door in there, so you don’t need to use any of the others – which is only a good thing, if the others are back in the morning. Especially in that case, I would advise you to not try to knock on any of the other doors. Some people in here are pretty volatile if you wake them up before seven.” He says that with a tone that screams puny mortals and their stupid sleep habits. Dean doesn’t know if it’s cute or scary or both. “If you need anything just come directly to our room, it’s the one below yours.”


“If your boss has any news –”


“I believe you will hear it when they come back,” ‘Star cuts him before heading back to the stairs, wishing them good night on the way.


Christ, this is so fucking weird.


“So, should we?” Cas asks after he’s disappeared from their line of sight. “I am kind of tired,” he says then, but Dean thinks there’s a certain glint in his eyes that doesn’t quite add up with someone being tired.


He’s probably making it all up.


“Sure. Hey, probably beats the crap motel I’d have picked,” he sighs, and gets inside the room. Not like anything’s gonna happen, but right now he’s really hoping that Ric was right about the whole sharing a bed thing meaning sleeping better, though he really doesn’t believe it. Then again, it’s not like he’s going to have an occasion after today, isn’t he?


IV.


The last thing Shatterstar had been expecting when he has come back to the ground floor is to find Julio already inside, with more than enough alcohol to last for at least a couple of weeks and obviously trying not to laugh out loud.


Also, the shopping bags the beer is in are definitely from the shop around the corner.


“Let me guess, the shop was not closed, was it?”


“’Course it wasn’t. It’s open 24/7, but if I came back in five minutes Winchester would still be in the kitchen waiting for some more booze to drink his fucking sorrows in. And since he’s not, I guess they’re in the guest room?”


“I showed them upstairs before, yes.” At that, Julio looks even more pleased with himself. Which means that he hoped they would go there, and –


Oh.


“You wanted them to.”


“’Star, when I left the room at first I really thought I’d give him some privacy, but at some point later it did occur to me that you probably would hear what we were saying. And if I know you half as well as I think I do, you might have told Cas as well, or didn’t you?”


“I did,” ‘Star confirms, because he had, and – oh. Of course. “You hoped I would.”


“Well, one of them should fess up and it wasn’t gonna be the one getting wasted with me, so it had to be the other. Seems like I was right about everything, huh? Sorry that I didn’t clue you in, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without giving myself out.”


“I had to. It was becoming physically painful to hear that story,” ‘Star mutters before taking half of the alcohol and starting to put it in its place – he might as well help.


“Oh, good, it wasn’t just me. And hey, you can just leave that on the table. Jamie hasn’t texted me in the last three hours, so for some miracle they might actually be working. But if they are – well, I doubt there’s gonna be much quiet around for an while. While now it is.”


Well, that’s also an entirely good point, he’ll have to concede it. Not that he’s necessarily against the lack of quiet, but if it means they won’t see their bed for the next few days or so they might as well take full advantage of it. So he leaves the beer on the kitchen counter and follows Julio up the stairs and into their room. He locks the door just in case – not that anyone is in, but they probably do not want to risk a reenactment of that time Darwin mistook their door for his and they hadn’t bothered putting on any clothes before going to sleep. He’s taken off his jacket and shoes when he hears muffled words coming from upstairs.


A moment later he hears a sound that is clearly someone being slammed against a door.


And then he hears a moan that could only come from Dean. Right, it’s the room above theirs, so –


“Oh, fucking Layla,” Julio says from behind him – he’s sitting on the bed, wearing only his jeans and looking like he doesn’t know whether to laugh or bang his head against the wall.


“What did Layla do now?”


“She sent me a text saying I should get myself earplugs. Now it’s gaining an entire new meaning.”


A moment later, two people are definitely falling down on the bed, because they can hear it creaking ever so slightly.


“Just for kicks, what exactly did you tell Cas before?”


“… that he should have gone for it?”


“Yeah, well, he’s taking that pretty literally then.” Julio still sounds more amused than anything though – definitely not angry.


“Considering that it was the both of us behind it, I don’t think we have much right to complain about the noise.”


“Does that mean you can’t take my mind off it?” Julio throws his shirt on the floor, looking at him as if he’s plenty sure of the answer – not that there’s much to doubt about.


“I could certainly try,” ‘Star says a moment later, his knee going on the mattress and his own shirt joining Julio’s on the floor.


It does, in fact, work like a charm – by the time they’re lying sprawled under the covers, not even bothering to go wash up, Dean and Cas aren’t, but it feels like very faint background noise, and in between they didn’t hear a thing at all.


--


He opens his eyes at five AM sharp – nothing new. He’s had his six hours and he would be perfectly good with going out and start with some morning run or training, since he’s not going to go back to sleep anytime soon, but considering that he spent the previous night and morning out on a case and that he most probably will do the same on the next, he decides he can forego it for the moment.


He can hear muffled sounds coming from above, as well, but it’s definitely not the kind you need earplugs for. They might be talking it out then – he hopes it turns out fine, but he doesn’t see any reason why it should not. By now he figures he has some kind of personal investment in seeing that it goes well, but then again seeing those two making the exact same mistakes he and Julio had done was threatening to drive him mad very soon if he didn’t at least try to nudge them in the right direction.


Julio stirs lightly against his chest, turning towards him not long later and not at all trying to get away from the hold ‘Star has around his waist.


“The hell, it’s too fucking early to be awake,” Julio mutters when he glances at the alarm over ‘Star’s shoulder. “And fuck all the beer I drank yesterday.”


“Do you want me to get some water?”


“No, I need you not to move. Hey, are you actually skipping the crazy early morning run?”


“I will have enough exercise before the day is over.”


“Who said the apocalypse had to be last year? Seems to me like I’m seeing a sign now.” He’s laughing as he says it, though, and ‘Star is ready for it when he moves closer, and they’re about to kiss when they both hear the door downstairs being thrown open very loudly.


“The others are back. We should go meet –”


“We should pretend we’re still asleep. You think I’m facing Jamie asking questions at this hour, you got it wrong.”


“But –”


“Quiet. Maybe they’ll just ignore us.”


Shatterstar wouldn’t bet any of his money on that. Nonetheless, he goes along with it, letting Julio throw the sheets over the both of them and not moving from the position they’re in. Not that he could go back to sleep if he tried, since he can hear people calling dibs for the shower from here. For a while, he thinks he might actually be wrong – everyone on their floor does go back to their rooms, but without too much fuss. After four doors slam closed and another couple do on the floor below, he figures that they’re out of danger and he might get back to the kissing part of what they just stopped doing, except that then he hears knocking on the upstairs room.


He closes his eyes in resignation and counts backwards from twenty.


The knock arrives at minus three.


“’Star! Ric! I know at least one of you is awake!”


That’d be Jamie. Obviously.


Chingate, I wasn’t the one awake!”


“Ric, just put on some clothes and open the damned door. We need to talk.”


“I knew it was too good to last,” Julio mutters as he stands up and walks straight to the wardrobe – they both put on a pair of old jeans each and then Julio reaches for the door the moment ‘Star goes for a shirt.


“I said put on some clothes,” Jamie says when he sees that the two of them are shirtless.


“You sounded in a hurry. So, why the hell you’re waking me up at fucking five thirty in the morning?”


“Well, you could have, you know, warned that if I knocked upstairs I’d have found them naked.”


“Considering that your girlfriend had texted me to get earplugs yesterday I figured that wasn’t necessary. That all?”


Jamie’s eyes narrow. “Did that happen because either you or him had a hand in it?”


“It was the both of us, actually,” ‘Star interrupts before Julio decides to murder his boss on the spot. “What does it matter?”


For a moment, no one says anything. Jamie looks from one of them to the other. Then he smirks as if he’s entirely fine with the outcome of this conversation.


“Well, if we actually could spare money I might be considering giving the two of you a raise, but alas, we can’t spare money. But I’m told it’s the thought that counts, doesn’t it? By the way, you really should come downstairs in a few. There’s stuff to discuss. And come with a shirt.”


Then he turns his back on them and walks down the stairs looking like his day has just gotten an entire lot better.


“Did he just tell us he would raise our pay for that?”


“I highly doubt he would do it even if there was the money, but… seems like it? Fuck if this isn’t the weirdest thing about this whole mess yet.”


“You didn’t know that he – how did he put it – that he shipped them?”


“… no, and I could have done without that bit of information,” Julio says, looking mildly horrified. “Right. Guess neither of us is sleeping anymore. Let’s just get this over with.” He goes to find a shirt and Shatterstar follows him to it. They’re in the kitchen a few minutes later, and Jamie is the only person in there for the moment.


Until they hear steps coming from the stairs and both Cas and Dean show up. With shirts buttoned wrong. Also, Dean has a hickey on his neck that is too high to be hidden by his flannel shirt.


Dean looks decidedly less miserable than the day before.


Shatterstar merely looks at Cas, who’s maybe blushing a bit but who smirks back at him when their eyes meet.


Jamie clears his throat, but Julio beats him to it. “Right, uh, before Madrox says anything about the issue and brings me into it, er, well, let’s say that I lied when I said the shop next door was closed.”


Dean’s eyes go wide at once. “You pretended it was? Why the hell would you?”


“Uhm, because if I didn’t come back Cas over there might have convinced you to actually use the spare room. And I was kinda hoping ‘Star might have clued him in to our conversation. Which apparently happened. So. I just figured I’d say it before my boss here did, but for the record, I’m not sorry about that at all.”


“Oh, for –” Dean starts, but Cas stops him by putting a hand on his good arm.


“We obviously needed the push, so thank you for your efforts, Ju – ah, damn. Rictor.”


Julio turns towards him, looking like he’s resigned to it. “Let me guess, you let that slip.”


“Er, I’m sorry?”


“Whatever. Just don’t use it.”


“Huh,” Layla says walking inside the kitchen and heading straight for the coffee maker, loading it after she gets there. “I thought he was kidding, but I obviously was wrong.”


“About what?” Dean asks her.


“The four of you being the same ship. It’s so cute I could puke,” she replies, and then calmly sits down at the table.


“Julio, we are what?”


“No one wants to know,” Jamie interrupts. “So, in serious business, we do have news about your brother, Winchester. Or whatever it is riding inside him.”


The short of it is that they spent the previous day either tracking him down – which resulted in nothing except Monet doing some stress shopping on the way and coming back with five bags of it – or trying to find out what the angel’s business in the cemetery was up to. At that point Jamie launches himself into an overtly-complicated angel ritual that only Cas seems to be getting, the sum of which is that the angel possessing Sam would be back at the cemetery two days from now because it can only be performed in certain conditions, which will not occur until then.


“Obviously you’re welcome to the guest room until then. Not like two people more would change much, around here. And with this, I’m going to bed too,” Jamie says, still quite not beaming but almost there. Then he goes upstairs and Layla moves to follow him, but she puts a tray with four mugs of coffee on the table first.


Then she looks straight at Dean and Cas. “Well, I’m not going to contradict him, and far from me to ruin your honeymoon, but please don’t go at it while they are.” She nods towards him and Julio, then looks back at Dean. “You know, it’s bad enough when the second floor shakes, we don’t need to add in the third.”


Julio groans and grabs the coffee, not even trying to answer. He used to try, a while ago, but he must have given up on it.


Everyone else goes for the coffee in relatively blissful since. Julio is done first.


Dean speaks first though. “When she says that the second floor shakes –”


“That happened just a few times, and that’s all you have to know about this,” Julio cuts him. Shatterstar figures that he could just go and do his training since today nothing is going to happen on the cases front, but right on cue it starts raining.


Also, Cas is glancing at him once in a while, when he’s not looking at Dean. Julio seems to notice it, too, since he’s staring at their side of the table. Shatterstar nods towards Cas, imperceptibly, but he knows Julio’s seen it – they haven’t spent years watching each others’ back without subtle eye contact.


“So, no training today?” Julio asks him after clearing his throat.


“Since no one is around to complain about it and they probably won’t be for a while, I could watch those Judge Judy re-runs –"


“Yeah, you’re alone for that,” Julio interrupts.


“I have never seen it, actually,” Cas says, sounding mildly curious at least.


Judge Judy? Seriously?” Dean asks, looking very out of his depth.


“A man after some decent taste,” Julio comments. “Well, I guess they can go get their rocks off people shouting at each other and you can go get breakfast with me at the deli, I’m starving and you look like you can eat something. At least, I need to eat, and you drank a lot more than I did.”


“Guess so, but –"


“Good. See you later!”


Julio drags Dean out at once and Cas turns to him, looking mildly impressed.


“That was on purpose, wasn’t it?”


“It was. Also, we really don’t have to watch anything, but you looked like you wanted to have a word with me, so…”


“I did, actually. Well, other than saying thanks. Because I would have never… gone for it otherwise. Also if you don’t have many occasions to watch whatever it is, I have no problems with it.”


Shatterstar is only too happy to take him up on the offer – he’ll never understand why no one else other than him is genuinely entertained by that show, considering the people he lives with, and they never let him look at it in peace during the morning.


“So, what else did you want to know?”


“I was merely curious of why you ask people not to use your full name.”


“You don’t either.”


“That’s why I am asking.”


Shatterstar shrugs and looks back at the television. “Well, it’s not even my real name, but – my real name is what they would call a bar code on this world. We were… produced in series. There were six people with my same name before me and there probably were others after, so it’s not really a name. This other one was mine because it was the way I was referred to back on my home planet, but it wasn’t anything I picked for myself either. I’d have never thought to shorten it on my own, but at some point after I came here someone did and I always liked it a lot better.”


“Right. Because it’s just yours.”


“So it was the same reason.”


“Well, I also never felt like using my full one when I was human. But yes. It’s nicer.”


“And Dean came up with it, right?”


“How did you even know?”


Shatterstar shrugs and leans his head back against the sofa cushion, looking up at Cas. “I’ve seen the two of you.”


Cas nods and he’s very, very glad he doesn’t have to explain himself further – and it really does feel nice to meet someone who can get this specific thing, too. He swallows, figuring that he really should wish the two of them good luck, when –


“I should have figured you would have been here already,” Longshot says, sounding merely resigned to not having any access to the television.


“Weren’t you sleeping?” Shatterstar asks, not even attempting to stand up.


“I wasn’t really feeling like it. Oh, Castiel, isn’t it?”


“Yes. Just call me Cas, though.”


Longshot nods and comes inside the room, and – why is he staring at Cas’s neck? Then he looks at Shatterstar again, sending a sort of complicit grin that doesn’t make sense to him.


“I see you haven’t lost time, have you?”


“What?”


Longshot nods towards Cas again. “I guess you aren’t telling me how you convinced Rictor to go for the whole threesome thing this time, are you?”


“… Threesome?” Cas asks, obviously confused, and – oh, right. Cas had opened a button on his shirt, and now there’s a hickey matching Dean’s on his shoulder.


“That wasn’t with us,” Shatterstar sighs.


“Oh. Well, if you’re planning for a foursome, good luck then. I’m not helping you, though.”


And then he calmly leaves the room as if he had just been discussing the weather, and Shatterstar is just thankful that neither Rictor nor Dean were around to hear it.


“What was that about?” Cas asks, but – to his credit, he merely sounds curious, not like the entire exchange disgusted him. Which wouldn’t make sense, given when Shatterstar has seen (and read, since the portrait seemed pretty accurate, though the writing style could have used improvements).


Well, this conversation won’t likely go anywhere, but at least he won’t get weird looks when he tries to explain why he wanted to – to share, he never found a better way to put it.


“It’s another long story, but if you want to hear it…”


--


“If I bet you ten bucks that before we have to go out on this mission a foursome is going to happen?” Longshot asks a couple of hours later, when everyone but Rictor, ‘Star and their two guests is in the kitchen getting a long-delayed breakfast. (Cas and ‘Star are still in the living room, Ric and Dean are still out.)


Everyone but Layla chokes on their coffee, Jamie tells him to never ever think of influencing things so that they go his way and he wins the bet and Monet is the only one who takes him up on the offer.


“Layla, tell me once that this doesn’t end up with the second floor needing renovations.”


“More than usual, you mean?”


Jamie still thinks that if he could raise two certain paychecks he would, but he’s reserving the right to cut everyone else’s. Hell, maybe he should just cut everyone’s paychecks and use that money to raise Ric and Star’s. That’d teach everyone.


He’s also totally getting his books signed before this entire deal is over.


End.

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