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WITH LOVE - Chapter 3

Chapter 3
 
Cas spends the entire ride to the office looking extraordinarily uncomfortable.

"What's the matter?" Dean eventually asks, as they pull up outside. Even from here, he can see Victor really has pasted his phone number on the door, along with a sarcastic note he'll be sure to crumple up and trash before reading. "Don't like cars?"

"It's confining," says Cas. "And slow."

"Hey, I won't tolerate slander of that kind against my baby! He didn't mean it, girl."

Cas pushes at the door now they've stopped, only twigging that there's a handle when Dean gestures to it pointedly. "I don't believe it's a feeling unique to your car," he says, and Dean is pretty sure he's trying to be placating. At least he's making the effort. He digs the office keys out of his pocket with one hand, the other leading Cas by the elbow to, and once he's fumbled enough to get the door open, into the building, lest he wander off or something.

The office is, thankfully, empty. While the PI firm Victor runs isn't exactly huge, and the only ones ever really meant to be manning the desks on Saturdays are Victor and himself, Dean has all too often disrupted someone's frantic all-nighter to get a dossier together for a client coming in on Monday. Victor had set the firm up to be something of an alternative to the only other ace dick in the city, and had laid down some pretty stringent rules on the kind of jobs they picked up, but Dean was pretty sure placing an amnesiac dude fell within the guidelines.

He sit's Cas down in the chair facing his, trying not to think on how his serious expression, matched with the tan overcoat, made him look like a hardboiled noir detective. All he needed was the hat and the voice over.

"You're smiling," says Cas. "You enjoy your purpose here, yes?"

"Yeah," Dean agrees thoughtlessly. "But we're not here because of me. Not entirely, anyway. Can you really not remember anything before the park last night?"

Cas gives a huff, and adjusts his coat minutely. "There isn't anything before that," he says. "Why do you keep asking?"

"Because, Cas, people don't grow on trees! There should be years and years of memories before last night, and if there's not, there's a problem."

"I don't see how there is," says Cas, frustration evidence in the way his lip curls downward. "Why can't you take what I say as writ?"

"Because," Dean says, "you not remembering or caring or whatever right now doesn't stop there being people out there who might be looking for you, okay? You could have a family out there, worried sick that you've just up and vanished! Look, I can't just keep you in my apartment without making sure there isn't some freaked out spouse out there pulling their hair out on account of you, that would make me a terrible person."

"I don't mind," says Cas.

"I do," says Dean, as the computer takes the usual 3 hours to boot up. Charlie always seemed to have her pc running lightning-fast, he really needed to convince her to fix his. "Just sit tight, would you? This'll probably take a while."

He starts off with the basics; state missing persons reports, and those filed with the office, but it turns out 'mid-30's tallish dude with dark hair' cast a far wider net than he'd expected. "Go figure," he says, looking up at Cas, who looks to be rather literally sitting tight, picking at the knees of the overlarge jeans. "There's plenty guys vanishing on their families. Probably not for the same reasons you might've," he adds hastily. Somehow, he gets the feeling even if he trawled through every picture in these records, he wouldn't find Cas.

"When do you expect you'll be satisfied with your search?" Cas says, pointedly. "I preferred being home to being here, when can we return?"

"Cas, this could take days-"

"I won't comment on your car again," he promises.

"-and you really can't call my place 'home' just because you don't know what your own is, okay? You've been in there for like, eight, nine hours, max, that's not long enough to start calling it home." Dean sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face. "Until we can work through what's going on with you, you can stay on the couch, okay? I'm not gonna kick you out on the street or anything, but you've gotta understand this isn't a permanent situations."

The expression Cas is wearing was souring with every word, but he does little more than sulk. It's aggravating as hell that Cas doesn't get it, but ultimately Dean has to keep that frustration tamped down. He can't imagine what must be going on in there, or how confusing this whole situation must be to him, so the very best thing he can do is just, try to explain it from his point of view without being his patented jackass self.

Less than a day into an acquaintance and Cas has already helped reunite his family. The least he can do is try return the favour.

It's a good half-hour of trawling through records - just in case one of these guys is Cas - in silence before the guy says anything.

"What if I want to be?"

"Huh?"

"What if I want it to be permanent?"

"No, Cas, listen-"

"No," he says, placing his hands firmly on the desk, like he's trying to make a gesture of reasonableness. "I want to stay with you. I want to make you happy."

"You just met me," Dean says, trying not to let out another sigh or bash his head against the desk.

"And?"

"That's not how these things work! You can't just pick the first guy you see and decide 'that's it!' You're supposed to be thinking about your own happiness, not some random dude's!"

Cas' hands twitch, like he's resisting making a fist or slamming down on the desk. "You aren't listening to me. I have told you what I want."

"Yeah, and that's bullshit." Dean drops his head in his hands, as Cas glowers at him. "Look, I'm not gonna stop you going off and doing whatever you like, you're a grown man, blank slate or not. But on this? I'm pretty sure you're wrong, and that means I gotta do everything I can to get you back home. Wherever that is."

Cas narrows his eyes further, studying Dean intently. Even as he focuses back on the screen, he finds it hard to focus under such scrutiny. Eventually, it gets too much, and he pulls open his desk drawer with far too much force, rifling among the varied paper-copy files and incriminating photo logs for a book Bela lent him that he's never got round to returning. "Here," he says, placing it in front of Cas with as much restraint as he's willing to muster right now. "You've gotta be bored by now, knock yourself out. And go sit on the couch," Dean adds, gesturing at where it sits in the corner of the room, not facing his desk directly, "you're really distracting me just sittin' there, y'know?"

Joy of joys, Cas does what's asked of him, and Dean gets a blessed ten minutes of silence to think about whether Cas had any unusual features that might crop up on a report. Crazy tattoos counted, right?

"What if you're wrong?" Cas eventually asks, and when Dean looks up at him, he's facing away, looking at the book with an intensity it little deserves. Guess amnesia doesn't rid one of passive aggression. "And it is as I say?"

"Well," says Dean, knowing the answer he gives means nothing other than 'I have no clue', "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

* * *

Dean manages to plough through a pretty considerable amount of information - unsuccessfully so far, sure, but everything he crosses off the list narrows it down - before his stomach can't take being ignored any longer. Checking the time, he sees it's much further into the afternoon than he'd expected, but Saturdays are always like this. Without the hustle of his fellow colleagues to distract him, Dean can plug in for hours - and on very special occasions, days - at a time without noting what's happening around him. While Cas had seemed determined to disrupt him for the first hour or so, the guy had seemed to twig that he wasn't going to get his way, not just yet at least, and finally settled down.

Looking up at the sofa, though, he figures there might be another reason for the quiet vibe.

He wasn't ever going to admit to instantly thinking it adorable, but the way Cas' head was tilted against the backrest, hands rested on top of the open book in his lap, feet still planted firmly on the floor, like the catnap he must have been indulging in the last couple hours had snuck up on him unawares, really is kinda cute, and if he wants to actually help this guy instead of fawning over him, he's really got a lot of work to do. It can start with not ogling the sleeping dude.

"Up and attem," he says, none too gently, giving Cas' shoulder a quick shake for the complete effect. "I'm starved, and you must be too by now."

"What?" is all Castiel says in response, startling from his reclining position and then looking around wildly. "It's dark outside," is all else he adds, as Dean pulls him up by the elbow and shoves the coat he'd taken off at some point in his arms.

"That's what happens in winter, dude, it gets dark early. Your eggs really that scrambled?"

"No," says Cas, dismissively. "I was momentarily surprised. What are we doing?"

"Eating," says Dean, leading Cas out the office and locking up behind him. It might be a little early to leave, especially considering he started so late, but clients dropping in on a Saturday evening was pretty unusual, even in the busy season.

"Ah," says Cas, "Would you like me to cook again?"

"No, no, we're going out somewhere, okay? I already told you I don't want you doing that stuff." He pauses in front of his car, remembering his journey from earlier. "You all right riding in the car, or do you wanna save that til later?"

"Later, please," say Cas, and smiles. "Thank you for your consideration."

Dean damn near blushes. There's something about Cas, when he's being all cute and polite, that makes him feel all churned up inside, and it's really frustrating that a guy he has known less than a full day can do that to him.

(If he does blush, he's just gonna blame it on the cold.)

They walk a while in companionable silence, heading toward a diner on the next street over he and the team sometimes eat together in. It's not the greatest in the world, but they know him well enough to remember what fixings to put in his burger without him having to ask, and that's good enough as far as he's concerned.

"You've finished searching, then?" Cas asks hopefully, once they're seated in a booth a ways from anyone else.

"For today," says Dean, internally a little peeved that he hasn't been more successful. He's starting to think he might have to look out of state, and that's one hell of a time sink.

"Oh," says Cas, disappointment evident. "When do you believe we'll need to cross the bridge?"

"Cross the--? Oh, uh. I dunno yet. There's still a lotta work to do, and-" he holds up a hand, trying to cut off the annoyed downturn of a lip Cas gives as a response, "I know you don't think this is a worthwhile exercise, but it's still something I gotta do. I've handled way too many missing persons from the other end to just say 'fuck it', y'know?"

"I don't know," says Cas, and there's more than a bite of sarcasm to it. "You don't believe I know anything, anyway."

"Listen," says Dean, holding his hands up. "I'm not gonna dump you on the police, or at a hospital or anything, but if you don't like how I do things, you're more than free to leave. I won't chase after you."

Cas looks almost like he concedes, placing his hands on the table and studying them intently. "You would," he says, eventually. "it's in your nature to care for people, no matter how much they don't wish to be cared for."

"You pick all that up from an afternoon with me?"

"Yes and no," he says, giving Dean a sly look. Eventually, he really does concede. "I don't agree with your method, but I will, uh, 'stick about'." An 'until you see things my way, at least', is tacked on the end purely through the meaningful arch of an eyebrow, and Dean can't help but give a 'try me' look back, immediately then focusing on his food to avoid just spending the whole night staring at amnesia-guy.

This is gonna be a hard few days.

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