Claim: The Princess Diaries, for this_impulse
Genre: High School AU, Romance
Pairing(s): Dean/Castiel, minor Sam/Jess, Gabriel/Crowley
Word Count: ~9,600
Notes: Art and fanmix by the amazingly lovely nox_wicked here
Castiel wakes up to the dulcet sounds of Mr. Shurley banging the lids onto the garbage cans, as he does most mornings. As most mornings, he runs through the necessary steps of putting on his uniform half-blind, before reaching for his glasses.
“Time for school,” his mom calls from downstairs. “Stop daydreaming!”
There’s no time for him to fix his slightly-askew tie, or if there is, Cas doesn’t really care. His socks don’t match either. He grabs Zachariah, his large, badly-tempered cat, and carries him down the spiral stairs before dumping him on the beige cat-scratching post he detests so much.
Cas’s backpack is fairly scuffed-up and far too heavy – his own fault for taking AP Calculus, AP World History and AP English on the same day, he supposes – and there’s a scratch on the Greenpeace button, but he slings it over his shoulder regardless and slides down into the kitchen on the old fireman’s pole.
“You gonna be okay?” his mom asks. Her dyed-red hair is pulled back into a sloppy ponytail and she’s already wearing her painting clothes, so Cas can tell she’s not really going to be approachable.
“Not really,” he says.
“Good luck anyway,” she tells him and presses a kiss to the top of his head as he leaves.
Castiel hates that today is a debate day.
He takes off to school on his bicycle, cursing San Francisco’s hills all the while, glaring at the cars driving past him. He locks his bike to the stands and threads his helmet through the lock, before turning around to scan the crowd assembled at the gates of Dante Alighieri High.
It’s a private school.
Castiel, as a democrat, is actually against attending, but his mother left him no choice in the matter, and while he feels that private schools are offensively elitist, his mother’s social liberalism is a force to be reckoned with, so she can’t have been completely wrong in sending him here. Unless, of course, she was high on paint fumes. Again.
Anyway, Sam goes here, and he and Sam have known each other since kindergarten.
“Hey, Cas!” Sam calls.
“Think of the devil,” Cas murmurs under his breath and turns to meet his best friend.
Sam, unfairly tall as usual, managed to tie his tie properly this morning. He’s never needed glasses, and his socks always match. Sometimes Cas wonders how they’re still friends.
“Oh my god, did you see? The school got a new set of Macs,” Sam says. “This is ridiculous, we should be going Linux and escaping the dominance of the Microsoft/Apple oligopoly.”
Fortunately, Sam has a tendency of reminding Cas very quickly why they’re friends.
Elsewhere, in the place popular people gather, Bela, Meg and Ruby are giggling their collective heads off as Michael does something doubtlessly fascinating.
“Get off the walls, kids!” Principal Singer shouts from his window.
Michael hops off his wall to be swallowed by a crowd of adorers.
Jess and Jo hop off their wall to join Sam and Cas.
“Morning, boys,” Jess says, smiling coquettishly. If real bordellos are actually like the ones in Firefly and Moulin Rouge, Cas is convinced she would make an excellent whore with a heart of gold. That is, if she ever gets over Sam.
Currently, she’s still waiting for him to realize they’re perfect for each other. He’s being a bit slow about it. Even Castiel has noticed (well, after Jess asked him if Sam had ever said anything), and Cas never really notices anything. He didn’t know Michael and Ruby were dating until they started demonstratively making out in public.
“Ready for the debate, Cas?” Jo asks. Jo is an absolute sweetheart, and a cheerleader, and everyone would love her if her mother wasn’t dating the principal.
Cas glares at her.
It’s not that Cas is bad at debate. It’s more that he’s bad at being made fun of.
Case in point, today he’s supposed to be representing the point of view that private schooling is bad for equality, something he agrees with, but he knows that if he looks up, Meg will be making fun of the way his tie looks and Michael will have that annoyingly focused look on his face like he actually cares what Cas has to say and Sam will be smiling, and everyone else will be bored.
He doesn’t like not being listened to.
He just goes by the strategy of finishing and sitting down again as fast as he can.
Judging by the look on Mr. Henriksen’s face, this is going to come back to bite him.
He tries to forget about it.
He manages fairly successfully, until that afternoon at the gym, where he has a part-time job teaching small children martial arts.
Dean Winchester, Sam’s older and slightly-better-looking brother stops by, presumably on his way to go lift weights or save a kitten from a tree or liberate a Third World country (being that kind of relentlessly honest do-gooder Castiel is somewhat in awe of, much like Michael tries to be).
“Hey, dude,” he says. “Heard about your debate.”
“Oh,” Castiel says, leaving the small people to practice kicking things. “Was it that bad?”
“What? No,” Dean says. “No, no. Sam and Mike said you had some good points. It’s just…you hate our school that much?”
“I don’t hate anything,” Cas says. “I just have severe reservations about the socioeconomic meaning of it.” So Michael had been listening. Interesting.
Dean grins at him, revealing perfectly white teeth. One day, Castiel will understand how he does it. “Never change, dude,” Dean says, and leaves.
Apparently, though, Michael is the only one who saw merit in Castiel’s side of the debate today, because his mother is waiting for him when he gets home.
“So,” she says. “I got a call from a Mr. Henriksen?”
Castiel’s stomach drops.
“He wants to talk to me about your social skills,” she says.
Cas rolls his eyes. “Mom, you know I’m never going to be a good public speaker. I’m in this course because it was either Debate or Health and Safety.”
She sighs. “Yeah, yeah, I know, squirt. I’ll straighten it out.”
“Just…tell him I’m not a debater. Say I want to communicate only in interpretive dance or something,” Castiel says.
“I can do that.”
Castiel is about to head up to his room when his mom says, “Oh, and honey, your grandfather wants to see you.”
He turns to stare at her.
“You know, the living one? From Genovia?”
“The one who’s never talked to me in my life and I only know of from your horror stories?”
His mom shrugs. “He’s not that bad. Honest. He wants to talk to you.”
“Oh, you’ll see. It’s this evening at eight, at the Genovian consulate. Listen, sweetie, I’ve gotta go talk to my agent, but you’ll be fine, right?”
Castiel prays silently for mercy, but nods. It’s not like he doesn’t have a heavy workload or anything. He has time to go meet his grandfather.
His heavy workload, of course, does not stop him turning on the computer as soon as he gets to his room.
Can’t make it tonight, he types into Instant Messenger.
What? Dude, we were set to skype about that econ project, Sam writes almost immediately.
Cas sighs. I’ll send you my part, I’m done anyway. You and Jess can do the rest.
Jess will certainly enjoy that.
Kk, Sam tells him.
There’s a brief pause during which Castiel checks the BBC site’s headlines and pulls up his Twitter and Facebook pages, and then IM pings again.
My dad wants to talk to me, Sam types. Like, he wants to have dinner. So we can connect. idek, man.
It could be fun, Cas tries. He’s not really in the mood to talk about Sam’s problems.
Dad & me ran out of things to talk about when I was 8
Cas sighs. Dad & I, he corrects.
That all you have to say? Sam asks.
At least you still have a father?
There’s a long pause.
Sorry, Sam says.
Gotta go, be back in a bit, Cas types, and sets his IM on away.
He pulls out his history homework and tries to put a dent in it before he has to get the subway to the Genovian consulate.
Why a country as globally insignificant as Genovia needs a consulate in San Francisco is beyond Castiel, to be perfectly honest. Genovia is really only known for being a contributing EU member and having money. And pears, strangely.
Cas did some research on it when he was about twelve, and his father started sending letters with the Christmas gifts from Genovia.
Castiel’s father was never really in his life. Or, well, theoretically he was, when Castiel was a fetus, but he hasn’t been since then. His parents got a divorce just before he was born and he and his mother have been living in San Francisco ever since. Castiel’s father was little more than a glorified sperm donor to him for most of his life, though he did send amazing gifts.
Then, two months ago, he died in a car accident.
This is probably something to do with why his grandfather wants to talk to him, come to think of it.
At ten past eight, Castiel has finally found his way to the Genovian consulate, a hatefully gorgeous building that must cost thousands in upkeep.
He’s beeped through as soon as he says his name, and pushed through a metal detector and a security scan. As if Al Qaeda’s next attack is going to be on Genovia. Because the Koran dictates they must have more pears or something.
He’s led through a marble-columned foyer by a man with a sinfully expensive suit who introduces himself as “Balthazar, from the Genovian attaché corps”.
“I didn’t know Genovia had an attaché corps,” Castiel remarks.
“Learn something new every day, don’t we,” he responds with a smirk.
Castiel supposes he was being impolite.
“Now if you’ll just wait a minute, your grandfather will be—“
“Don’t need a minute, Balthazar,” a short brown-haired man announces whilst descending a long staircase. “You must be Castiel.”
He stops short of Cas and studies him briefly. It’s a bit awkward given that Cas is taller than him.
“You look very young,” Castiel’s grandfather says.
“Um,” Castiel says. “Thank you. You look very…” he pauses, searches his vocabulary for an adjective that isn’t old, short or rich, and comes up with, “stylish.”
His grandfather grins. “I do try. Balthazar, if you wouldn’t mind?”
“Certainly,” Balthazar says, and leads them to a table set for two.
Castiel takes a seat across from his grandfather, who snaps his fingers, which, apparently, lets the servants know to pour tea.
“Never get tired of that,” his grandfather says in an undertone.
Castiel can’t believe he has servants.
“So, my mother said you wanted to talk to me?” Castiel asks, stirring his tea.
“Yes, yes I do,” his grandfather says. “I wanted to give you something first, though.”
He reaches into the pocket of his designer suit and pulls out a flat box, the kind that Castiel has only seen in his mother’s more serious relationships, when they thought it would be a good idea to give her jewellery (it never was).
Castiel opens the box tentatively. There’s a crest hanging on a reasonably sturdy chain, as these things go, a crest Castiel thinks he’s seen before.
“That’s the Genovian national crest,” his grandfather says. “It was mine when I was a bit older than you.”
“Oh,” Castiel says, at a loss for words. “I. Um. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” his grandfather replies. “Now, Castiel, my boy, what do you know about the Genovian throne?”
“Not much,” Castiel admits.
“Well,” his grandfather says, “currently, it’s being held by the dowager king Gabriel Arcturus Renaldi.”
Castiel attempts to look interested.
Castiel drops his spoon.
“But you can call me Gabe.”
“What--" Castiel begins, and then realizes he has no question, or too many to ask all at once. “Does that---why?”
“Let’s not get existential, squirt,” Gabe says fondly. “Anyway, the point is, when your father died, he left you the natural heir to the throne.”
“What,” Castiel says blankly.
Gabe shrugs. “It’s the way it happened. Your father had wanted to have more children, but it just didn’t happen that way, and now it’s up to you. I married into the royal family. You were born in. You can rule.”
“Rule?” Castiel asks, aghast.
“I can’t rule,” Castiel says. Gabriel looks like he’s about to have something glib and aristocratic to say in response, but Castiel doesn’t let him. “I’m not qualified for this, I can barely pass debate class! I’m more concerned about my lack of beard growth than Genovia’s economy, I don’t like the concept of monarchy and---and---"
“There’s not much choice in the matter,” Gabriel says. “It’s who you were born to be.”
“No,” Castiel says desperately. “I can’t rule a country. You don’t want me, I’m gay.”
“Oh, as if that matters these days,” Gabriel says.
Panic sears hot in Castiel’s throat and before he knows what he’s doing, he’s grabbed the Genovian crest and bolted.
His mom finds him three hours later, lying on his bed and listening to the Led Zeppelin CD Dean put together for him once at an ear-drum damaging decibel range, not that it matters, because rich monarchs have excellent health insurance. Not that it helped his father, what with the car crash and all, just like Lady Di – well, not just like, he looked it up before and it was because of bad roads and bad weather, not a possible conspiracy, and how crazy is it that his father’s death was all over the news and he never even noticed?
“So,” she says, pulling off his headphones. “I hear you’re gay.”
“Don’t act surprised,” he grouses and takes his headphones back. It’s true that she already knew, after a fashion – their talks about any possible future relationship of his have always been carefully gender-neutral, and she’s made a point of getting him to agree with her on which of the guys on Glee is the cutest (it’s not working; he likes Puck better than Mike Chang).
“I’m not. Just surprised you told your granddad.”
“I was a bit confused at the time,” Castiel says, “given that he had just told me I’m royalty.”
“Sweetie,” she starts, but he’s angry all of a sudden.
“What did you think you were doing?” he asks. “You lied to me, for sixteen years!”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” she says.
“Really?” he asks, “I mean, did it? Really? How?”
She sighs. “I was young. I wanted to paint; I didn’t want to spend my whole life walking one step behind somebody.”
Castiel thinks of his mother and her crazy artistic ideas, her long string of brief romances and the angel wings tattooed on her back and agrees, privately, that she is not meant to rule a country.
“Your father thought he would be having more kids one day,” she continues. “So we were going to tell you on your eighteenth birthday, when you’re ready, and give you a normal childhood.”
“Really,” Castiel says. “A normal childhood.” His life has never felt normal, the bonus tiara that came with it just feels like adding insult to injury.
“I was trying to protect you.”
“I don’t feel protected,” Castiel says, turning over to lie on his stomach and pressing the 'play' button on what is presumably the world's second-to-last discman (Dean has the last one. The day Dean buys an iPod is the day the earth will go around the moon and pink chipmunks will eat New York).
It’s too loud for him to hear whatever else she says before she gets up and leaves, closing the door behind her.
Zachariah, who is an ornery fluff ball of a cat most days, curls up next to Cas and starts purring.
Chuck Shurley takes his cup of coffee and goes out to the veranda, like he does every morning. Unlike every morning, there are two limousines parked in front of Anna and Castiel Milton’s place.
“I’ve never ridden in a limousine,” he says contemplatively. “…he said, as the Bay Area mist settled in for morning. Hm. Where’d I put my notebook again? Becky, you seen it?”
He turns away and doesn’t see a well-dressed man get out of the limo and ring the doorbell.
Upstairs, Castiel is struggling through the motions of getting into his uniform. He studies his reflection, or tries to, but fails without the aid of his glasses, and once he puts those on, it’s all useless. He sighs. He’s never going to be wildly attractive, but that’s alright.
Ten minutes later, he gets downstairs, only to find he should have stayed in bed after all.
“You have got to be kidding me,” he says.
“Castiel,” his mother says. “We have to talk.”
“Oh really,” he says. “Is there something else you neglected to mention? Was there a prophecy made about me at birth or something?”
“No, but you did have a very nice christening,” Gabriel says. “Listen, I think we got off on the wrong foot, but we’re all in the same family, here--"
“No,” Castiel says, “no, no, no, no. Families don’t lie to each other and ignore each other for sixteen years.”
Zachariah snarls at Gabriel and Castiel feels an odd sort of vindication.
“Listen, in two weeks, the Genovian Independence Day ball is happening,” Gabriel says. “It’s kind of a big deal. I was hoping to present you as the heir to the throne, but you need some pointers first.”
Castiel feels a serious need to throw something. “And if I say no?”
“You can’t say no, kid, you’re born---"
“Now hold on a minute here,” Castiel’s mom says.
Gabriel sighs, exasperated. “Anna,” he begins, but she holds up a hand to stop him.
“I won’t have you bully my son. It’s his choice. How about this: until this ball, he will let you educate him in whatever royal manners you want; at your ball, he will make a decision.”
“It’s not my ball,” Gabriel says, “it’s the Genovian--"
“We get the point,” Castiel says, glad he has his mother at his back again.
“Fine,” Gabriel says. “But this is gonna come with some conditions.”
Because it wasn’t as if Castiel’s life was lacking in complications.
It turns out that by “conditions”, Gabriel means Castiel is supposed to be chauffeured to and from school in a limousine by a British man named Crowley who is carrying at least one gun and sounds like he should be in a Mafia flick.
He texts Sam to ask if he wants a ride, just to spite Gabriel, because the Winchesters, while amazing people, are obviously not royalty material.
Sam says yes, most likely out of morbid curiosity (the last time Castiel’s mother drove them, she got a parking ticket and nearly didn’t make one of the hills). When he sees the limo, he looks like he’s about to have a heart attack.
“What’s the occasion?” he asks. “Somebody die?”
“No,” Castiel says. “My grandfather turns out to be very rich.”
“Huh,” Sam says, and gets in.
They park a bit away from school so as not to gain too much attention with the ridiculous car, but Crowley threatens to pick him up again anyway. For “prince lessons”, apparently. Which is one of the more stupid things Castiel has heard this week, and he’s heard that he’s supposed to rule a country, so that’s saying something.
It’s not necessarily a bad day, as high school days go; Ruby says something-or-other rude about him and makes all the other cheerleaders laugh. Michael doesn’t laugh, though he’s sitting next to Ruby as usual.
Sam is telling him something about an extra credit project their history teacher gave them and how he had the greatest idea ever (the last time he said that, it involved stalking Ruby. Castiel has learned to ignore it).
“Later, okay?” Cas says. “I have to go see my grandpa.”
“Again?” Sam asks as they head off to Gifted and Talented.
Cas likes G&T. Their teacher spends most of her time gossiping in the teacher’s lounge, so they’re left to their own devices. Jess spends most of her time coding on the webzine they all do together, so Sam spends half the class peering over her shoulder, and Cas has a smug sense of knowing what’s going to happen.
Jo has Home Economics, poor girl, so Cas spends his time with Dean, for the most part. It’s the only class they have together, what with Dean being a junior and Cas being a lowly sophomore, besides lunch break, and they get along well enough that Cas thinks it’s rather a shame.
Dean is supposed to be working on something about heat and motion for Advanced Physics – something Cas will never really understand, he’s afraid – but usually, he just sits around jamming on the guitar that sits in the back of the G&T room or talking to Cas, or both.
Cas is supposed to be working on his next article for the school newspaper – The Ninth Circle – or redesigning Beatrice, the guidebook for new students.
Instead he plays X or Y with Dean. It’s hard to play X or Y with Sam, because he inevitably takes it too seriously, but Dean is excellent at it.
“Frodo or Luke?” Is Dean’s first question, and it’s a hard one, because they’re both fairly lame.
“Hmm…Luke,” Cas says in the end. “Frodo’s too short.”
“The Police or Foreigner?” Castiel asks, and Dean bites his lip. He has oddly full lips for a boy. No wonder all the girls like him. Castiel read somewhere that full lips are attractive. He wonders what his lips look like.
“Damn, I dunno,” Dean says, fingers drumming restlessly on the guitar. “I guess the Police had more good songs. But they never topped Hot Blooded.”
Castiel shrugs. He likes Fall Out better, but he won’t tell Dean.
“So I hear your granddad’s in town?” Dean asks.
Castiel nods, but doesn’t say anything more. Dean starts talking about his band, eventually. He’s in it, and Andy, and some guy Castiel doesn’t know.
“We’re calling it Heisenberg Movement,” Dean says, “because we don’t know what kind of music we’re going to play or where we’re going to meet up.”
For a brief moment, Castiel considers that Dean, captain-of-the-baseball-team, plays-guitars-and-fixes-cars Dean may be the geekiest of them all.
Gabe’s office is like Castiel imagines the offices in Secretary to be. Castiel hasn’t actually seen Secretary, because the thought alone of renting a DVD involving BDSM is terrifying, let alone actually watching it. Not to mention that he’d probably get caught by his mother.
Anyway. Gabriel’s office is all in red and mahogany and black, and it’s kind of intimidating.
“Okay,” Gabe says. “Stand still now, let me have a look at you. Balthazar, write this down.”
Balthazar, ever ready with his notebook and looking more like a pimp than ever (who wears sunglasses indoors? The inexplicably British Genovian attaché corps, that’s who), nods.
“Hm,” Gabe says. “Good posture. Good eyes, hair should make slow sweet love to a comb soon, and really, Cas, do you ever exfoliate?”
Castiel is gay, but he objects to stereotyping.
Gabriel goes on to decide that Castiel’s neck is okay, but he has to stop chewing his fingernails, wear better shoes, get his clothes a size smaller and start combing his hair.
Apparently he takes after his father.
Next, Gabe teaches him to walk like a prince. This involves a lot of vague inspirational things like “think tall”, but also hands-on grabbing of Castiel’s shoulders and moving of his legs, with which he is extremely uncomfortable. Then there’s sitting, which may not involve hunched-over shoulders at any moment in time and is a lot more complicated than it ought to be. It’s just sitting. Castiel feels like he’s in Alexander therapy.
After spending half of his afternoon being taught to do things he thought he learned when he was a toddler, Cas is really just hoping for a quiet, peaceful night in which to write his essay about the political ramifications of Germany’s nuclear program, but no such luck.
First Jo calls and stays in the phone line for about an hour, telling him about Jess and Sam and cheerleading and Michael and he likes Jo, really, he does, but mostly he just says, “mmhmm” and does his algebra homework.
And then his mom gets home.
Then his mom gets home with only half the groceries that were on the list and that guilty look on her face that Castiel has known and feared ever since the time she told him Zachariah had eaten a sock.
“Hi, honey,” she says. “Um, I gotta tell you something.”
Castiel raises his eyebrows expectantly, thinking longingly of Angela Merkel and the nuclear power plants.
“You know how Mr. Henriksen wanted to talk to me?” She asks.
Castiel feels the pit of his stomach drop out and fears he’s going to have to change schools or take detention with Alistair and the other stoners.
“I’m kind of going out with him on Friday,” she says.
Castiel kind of wishes he were inside a nuclear power plant.
As if he didn’t have enough problems.
School is just a nightmare. Castiel has a tension headache from staying up late to finish his homework whilst watching Buffy reruns. It’s a valid form of self-medication. It’s from the season where Willow and Buffy are in college, and Buffy is wandering around angsting about her fate. Castiel feels a vague sense of kinship.
Sometimes he wonders if he’s actually as emo and ridiculous as he sounds to himself sometimes.
The Genovian crest around Castiel’s neck feels likes it’s burning into his skin. He’s not keen on the job, and he’s even less keen on anybody ever discovering he’s a prince of all things, but he’s never been one to shirk responsibility.
Anyway, he figures no one has ever really heard of Genovia. He’ll just keep it quiet for now and then when high school is over, he’ll move to Europe and no one will ever have to know.
Still, the secret is weighing him down. That and the dress shoes and better clothes in his backpack. He keeps drumming his fingers against his desk in an effort not to chew on his nails, and Ruby keeps glaring at him for it.
After chess club, which he’s in mostly because he and Dean like to reenact scenes from Star Wars with the chess pieces when the club president isn’t watching, Cas ducks into the boys’ bathroom and changes. The clothes feel a bit awkward – they’re pretty much like his school clothes, but tighter and without the Dante Alighieri High emblem on the chest, and the pants are black instead of navy. Also, the shoes are shiny. He’s in the process of forcing a comb through his terrible, terrible hair when Dean comes in.
Cas nearly drops the comb in his effort to quickly hide the can of hair spray he stole from his mom last night.
“Woah,” Dean says.
“What?” Castiel snaps.
“Nothing,” Dean tells him, grinning. “Just, woah. What’s with the getup, dude?”
Castiel doesn’t answer.
“You got a date or something?”
As if anyone has ever or will ever want to date Castiel. “No, I don’t have a date,” he says. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“What’d be ridiculous about that?” Dean asks innocently. “Looks like you’re going on a date.”
Cas sighs in frustration and returns to trying to tame his hair. “I’m not going on a date.”
“Oh, gimme that,” Dean says, and grabs the comb out of Castiel’s hand. He runs it under the water faucet briefly, shakes it out so he doesn’t get Castiel’s nice shirt wet. He’s gentle, even though Castiel knows how strong he is – Dean has taken a few martial arts courses; they’ve sparred – and there are calluses on his hands from the garage and the guitars.
He’s surprisingly good at this. Castiel shouldn’t actually be surprised, though – Dean’s hair always looks perfect.
When he’s done, Cas has a side part that appears to be lying flat for the first time since his one and only piano recital when he was twelve.
“You look great,” Dean says. He has this grin that makes Cas feel funny. He hopes maybe he ate something funny, but he’s pretty sure it’s for a much stupider reason.
“Thank you,” Castiel says. He’s blushing, and he’s late. There’s not really much left to do but run away, but…
“Please don’t tell Sam,” he says.
Dean’s head snaps up. “You are going on a date.”
“No!” Cas says. “It’s…it’s complicated but I am not going on a date.”
“You wanna tell me about it?” Dean asks.
He has dimples. It’s not fair.
“I.” Castiel says. “Yes. But. Uh, no. I’m late.”
Now it is definitely time to run away.
Crowley has already inched forward by about half a block in the limo, waiting for Castiel.
“His Majesty doesn’t like it when anyone besides he himself is late,” Crowley says halfway to the Genovian consulate, after quite a while of uncomfortable silence.
“His Majesty never went to high school, did he now,” Castiel mutters to himself.
He thinks he sees Crowley smirk.
“You ever lose the sunglasses?” Castiel asks.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Crowley asks back.
Today, Gabriel is teaching him table manners. It’s dull. All about fork placement and posture and elbows. Thankfully, it’s the kind of thing you can memorize, and Castiel’s always been good at that.
The second portion of the lesson is dancing, and Castiel is significantly less prepared for that.
It’s not that he’s clumsy; he’s been in karate and jujutsu classes since he was four. He has excellent control of his extremities. It’s more the fact that he has to touch other people and move to music. Not that he has a problem dancing around his room on his own, and not that he hasn’t seen Billy Elliot a few times.
However, apparently, you have to be able to dance to be a prince.
Castiel took a dance course once, a year ago, with Sam, Jess and Jo. He wasn’t bad at it, he just felt bad at it, and he was perpetually afraid of giving Jo, whom he partnered up with, the wrong idea.
Today, he’s supposed to learn a dance with Crowley, who has, in fact, taken off his sunglasses, but still appears to be attached to an earpiece. And is still carrying a gun.
Castiel is taller than him, but he doesn’t get to lead. It’s one of those dances with the spinning, which he’s always rather wanted to do, but never had opportunity to, what with never getting to dance the girl’s part.
“What with you being gay and all,” Gabriel is saying from the sidelines, “you’ll have to learn both sets of dance steps. Just wait till we get to the Laendler.”
If he weren’t distracted by getting the steps right, Castiel would be distracted by how odd it is to have his sexual orientation thrown into conversation at random.
When the lesson is finally over, he leaves through the garden door, lingering a moment to take a look at the consulate’s garden. It’s nice, as a whole. Castiel wonders how many gardeners they employ. He supposes it’s better than raising unemployment, but there are so many public parks in town that could do with more upkeep that it seems unfair.
Inside, he hears the music start up again, and curiosity gets the better of him. He peers in, and Crowley, still sans sunglasses, is giving Gabriel a look unlike any of the maybe two Castiel has seen thus far on his impassive face.
He can’t hear what they’re saying, but it’s obvious what the goal is when Gabriel lets Crowley take his hands and lead him onto the dance floor. Maybe the gayness is genetic after all.
They dance slowly, and far closer together than Castiel had with Crowley. It looks almost erotic, and certainly emotional, and then Gabriel spins in so his face is tucked against Crowley’s, so close they could almost be kissing, if it weren’t for the fact that they could be seen by anyone, really, and Gabriel is still king and Crowley’s just the security guy.
But Gabriel has this look in his eyes, and Castiel is willing to bet it’s a different story behind closed doors.
He turns away; this is clearly private. It is rather sad his grandfather has a more active love life than he does, however.
There are five messages from Sam waiting on his IM when he gets home, some of which is about history, and most of which is about Jess having said something weird to Sam at school. Cas figures he can ignore it. He knows what’s coming on that front anyway.
Sam’s offline by then, so Cas has to tell him he won’t make it tomorrow afternoon either – he has to go see his grandfather and then give karate lessons.
“What the fuck is up with your grandpa, dude?” Sam asks. “You’ve been weird all week. And we have to get this project done. Can you come over this evening or something?”
“Sure,” Castiel says. He’s always been a believer in keeping up his minimal social life.
He always has a great time at Sam’s. After working on their history presentation, they watch Star Trek: the Next Generation on the Winchester’s flat screen. Sam’s parents are out, and Dean’s home even though it’s a Friday.
Sam is in a very good mood – Jess gave him a hug today in G& T, and Dean isn’t even teasing him about it. Dean is also keeping his word and not saying a thing about Castiel’s dressing up after school, even though he saw Cas doing it again today.
Instead, he joins forces with Cas and forces Sam to play an endless round of Next Generation X or Y and mocks him mercilessly when he picks Beverly Crusher over Deanna Troi.
Unfortunately, Sam gets even. As a younger sibling, Sam plays dirty, and before Cas quite realizes it (he was watching the way the Enterprise’s artificial light reflects on Picard’s bald head), Dean is deciding between Deanna and Cas.
“Cas,” he says after brief consideration. “You just know Deanna’d be all about the chick flick moments.”
He gives Cas a wicked grin that absolutely does not do strange things to Cas’s stomach.
The next day is a Saturday, but Gabriel’s lessons continue regardless. He announced a field trip for today, which Castiel is rather dreading. He doesn’t trust Gabriel all that much.
It turns out to be to a beauty parlor, which is all kinds of wrong. It’s called “Chez Diable”, and it’s run by an absolutely insane man named Lucifer. He pronounces it “Lucy-FAIR”, though, which Castiel feels is ridiculous. He’s in America, he should just live with it.
He sits Castiel down in a chair immediately and begins working. Gabriel, the traitor, waves goodbye and leaves.
An absolutely interminable amount of time later, Castiel has gotten what amounts to a haircut, except that one of Lucifer’s assistants was also plucking at his eyebrows, and he’s been given contact lenses. When he looks in the mirror, his hair is oddly mussed-looking, but not the usual mussed, more the mussed look male models have in ads. His face looks odd without the usual glasses hiding him from view, but it’s an odd Cas thinks he rather likes.
And then Gabriel picks him up and takes him shopping.
Castiel has never really held much stock in good clothes.
That is, he appreciates them on other people, but he’s never really considered that they might be appreciable on him.
Until now, that is.
Gabriel makes him get his school uniform a size tighter, which Castiel is not sure is a good idea, but the sales lady definitely thinks is brilliant. He also buys him designer label suits and jeans and shirts and even underwear.
Castiel has never been witness to so much useless spending in his life.
If someone had asked him a week ago what he’d do with the amount of money that’s being spent on him, he’d have said he’d donate it to Unicef or something, but at the moment, he’s apparently unable to say no. He’s rather disgusted with himself.
However, it transpires that Castiel’s mother is even worse than him, if such a thing is possible. When Cas gets home, she tells him Crowley dropped by to pick up his clothes, and that she let him.
This translates into nearly all of Castiel’s old clothes being gone.
His mother gives him an apologetic look and asks if the dress she’s wearing is good for a date with Mr. Hendrickson.
Castiel storms out.
He feels better about himself afterwards.
He takes the bus to Sam’s house again, thinking all the while that if there were terrorist attacks on Genovia, this would be a terribly stupid risk.
When he gets to Sam’s, he realizes he didn’t call ahead, but Sam’s known him since kindergarten. It’s not the first time they’ve had impromptu sleepovers.
However, he’s not quite prepared for Dean to open the door.
Neither is Dean, it seems.
After a few terrifying moments of him just staring at Cas, who realizes that he’s not wearing glasses (Crowley broke them), has a new haircut, and is wearing a fairly tight t-shirt and designer jeans that, admittedly, fit him better than any other pair he’s ever worn, Dean finally talks.
“Wow,” he says.
Something of Castiel’s nervousness must show on his face, because Dean hastens to add, “Good wow. You look…good.”
Dean’s never been good with words.
“Who’s at the door?” Sam calls from inside.
Dean lets the door slide open wordlessly.
“Wh – Cas?” Sam asks incredulously.
“Um,” Castiel says articulately.
Sam elbows Dean aside to stare at Castiel. “What happened to you?”
“Is it that bad?”
“You look like a pod person.”
“A hot pod person,” Dean interjects.
“No one asked you,” Sam says, scowling. “Seriously, man, what happened?”
Castiel shrugs. “My grandpa--"
“Oh, please, as if your grandfather made you get a makeover.”
It does sound unlikely, now that Castiel thinks about it.
“Have I ever lied to you?” he asks.
“Come on,” Sam says. “I know you’re dating someone. In fact, I bet I know who. Jess, right?”
Castiel stares at him blankly, unable to come up with an answer.
“Dude,” Dean says. “You are not seriously that stupid. Let the poor guy in.”
Ten minutes later, Castiel is sitting in the kitchen, letting Dean feed him Mrs. Winchester’s famous cherry pie, and Sam is still convinced he’s dating someone.
“It’s Jo, right?” he asks. “It has to be Jo.”
“Dude,” Dean says.
Castiel sticks his fork in the pie and says, “for God’s sake, Sam, I’m gay.”
Dean grins and holds up a hand for a high five.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sam whines.
“I thought you knew.”
“How could I know??”
“It’s so fucking obvious, though,” Dean crows. His smile is as warm as his hand, resting on Castiel’s shoulder.
“Yeah, well, we can’t all have your gaydar, Dean,” Sam says. “But seriously, Cas, are you dating a guy, then? What’s with the new look?”
“It’s not Alistair, is it?” Sam interrupts. “Oh, god, no, it’s Michael.”
Castiel gives him a look. “Sam. I am not dating anyone. Please stop.”
Dean starts whistling.
Monday morning is odd.
People keep staring at Cas as he walks down the halls, but there’s nothing on his face, or stuck to his back (he checked in the boy’s bathroom, after Meg brushed up unnecessarily close to him in the hall and actually squeezed his butt).
Jess and Jo are thrilled by his new look, for whatever reason, and Jo looks at him like he’s an idiot when he asks why everyone keeps staring at him over lunch break.
Still, Ruby hisses “freak” at him during debate class, so nothing can have changed all that much.
Or so he thinks, until after chess club, as he’s trying to close his locker after stuffing his algebra textbook into it. The lock always jams and it’s highly irritating.
“So,” Michael says.
Surprised, Castiel slams his locker door shut hard, and the lock slips into place perfectly. “Oh. Hello,” he says.
“How are you doing?”
“I seem to have entered a parallel universe,” Cas mumbles. Michael hasn’t talked to him during school since third grade.
Michael chuckles. “You haven’t really changed. I knew you wouldn’t.”
“Why should I have changed?”
“Have you seen a mirror recently?” Michael snorts. “You look like you got a personality transplant. I’ve always told you, you could be popular if you wanted to.”
“I don’t want to be. Popularity is an illusion. It’s ridiculous how much stock you put in it.”
“Popularity is a tool,” Michael says, leaning against the lockers next to Castiel’s and inspecting his fingernails.
“Yes,” Cas snipes back, “because life is a DIY project.”
“Holy shit,” Dean says, coming out of the bathroom, which is decidedly not what Castiel was waiting for, making himself terribly late for his grandfather.
“Hm?” Castiel asks.
“You are dating him.”
“No, I’m not,” Castiel says, irritated. “We’re cousins.”
“Castiel,” Michael warns.
“Oh, for god’s sake, Mike, it’s Dean. He’s not out to endanger your precious popularity.”
Michael sighs. “Yeah, our moms are sisters. We don’t like to talk in public.”
Dean has his skeptical face.
“It damages his reputation,” Castiel says dryly.
Dean snorts. “You are way too nice, dude.”
“So, I take it Cassie’s flaming gayness is common knowledge?”
“Just to me,” Dean says, crossing his arms menacingly.
Michael shakes his head and leaves.
“Seriously?” Dean asks. “Cousins?”
“Hey, dude,” Dean says, “um, are you doing anything right now?”
Castiel is about to say yes, but Dean keeps talking without waiting for an answer.
“’Cause, there’s this new coffee place a few streets over, and I know how much you like coffee—“
“Sure,” Cas says. “I’d love that. Just let me write someone a text.”
He drops Crowley a line saying he’ll be a bit late. He’s a terrible royal. No monarch should place more value on his personal life than on his duties, everyone who’s read the Lord of the Rings should know that.
Of course, he has a good time despite his bad conscience. It’s Dean. Cas would defy a member of the Opus Dei not to have a good time with Dean.
And yes, fine, Cas has been ridiculously in love with him for as long as he can remember.
It’s not like it’s a secret.
That is, no one knows, but it’s not as if it’s an intentional secret. Cas would tell if he were asked. No one’s thought to ask, though, and telling Sam would just be awkward. Besides, Sam is still convinced he has a crush on Michael.
Why anyone would like Michael when confronted with Dean’s dimples is a mystery for the ages.
As a matter of fact, Cas has imagined a lot of scenarios in the hazy time between going to bed and actually falling asleep that involve Dean asking him out much like he did just now.
Not that Dean was asking him out. It’s a coffee, not a marriage proposal, and Cas is still just Dean’s little brother’s best friend.
Castiel is just very confused at the moment. He was already confused before Gabriel came along; now he feels the term “royally fucked” is applicable, both metaphorically and literally. It’s not that Cas hasn’t liked boys before; it’s not that liking Dean is exactly a new feeling.
It’s that Dean has this way of looking at him. And that he talks to Cas like he cares about what Cas has to say. Cas thinks he must be a gigantic idiot to be constantly thinking about a boy just because he seems to think he’s not a total spaz.
But he can’t seem to help it. Dean keeps sneaking into his thoughts and no matter what Cas tries to do against it, the minute he sees Dean, his whole day brightens up.
It’s ridiculous, though. He and Dean are just friends. Not to mention the fact that he’s apparently a royal now, and even though Gabriel says the gay thing is okay, all the sudden responsibilities seem a little overwhelming, and any boyfriend he found would have to deal with that too.
The more he thinks about it, the worse an idea it is to go get coffee with Dean. He’s just going to make his crush (and when he says crush, he means a lot more that he’s afraid to say), and he’s probably going to get Gabriel completely pissed off.
And then Dean hands him his frappucino (he’s known Castiel’s order for as long as Cas can remember) and grins at him in that sweet way, the way Cas could swear is meant just for him, except that he does know better.
“So,” Dean says. “How’re you doing?”
Cas shrugs. “I’m alright. A little stressed. You?”
“Things seem to be looking up,” Dean says. He rubs his hands up and down his thighs briefly, drawing Castiel’s attention to his stupidly well-fitting jeans.
“How so?” Cas asks, in something he hopes sounds casual.
Dean just grins at him again, and lays his hand on top of Castiel’s.
Cas is almost two hours late to the Genovian Consulate.
Gabriel punishes him by making him learn the Genovian peerage by heart. Apparently, Cas is distantly related to Prince William.
He gets home by nine o’clock. His mom is watching an episode of Deep Space Nine, her hair in a messy bun that’s falling out of its ties and down her neck. There’s a paint smudge on her cheek, and there’s an abstract painting drying on its easel. It’s full of bright colors and happiness, and Cas is pretty sure that if he were any better at reading his mother’s art, he could read out “VICTOR HENRIKSEN” in big letters all over it.
“You’re home late,” she says.
“Don’t be like that, sweetie,” she says. “I know you’re still upset, but--"
“I’m not upset,” Cas says. “Just tired, OK?”
“OK,” she nods, and gives him a kiss on the cheek before he goes upstairs.
The next morning is the first one in a long time that Castiel wakes up looking forward to. The royalty thing hasn’t come back to bite him yet, and he might just be dating Dean.
Not that he’s going to assume they’re dating based on what happened yesterday, because he doesn’t want to come on too strong. But he’d guess there’s a pretty strong case, and that makes him happy.
Of course, Castiel’s life seems to be conspiring against him.
Sam texted him that he and Dean don’t need a limo ride last night, so Cas only finds out when he gets to school, and suddenly, his good day has completely gone down the drain.
His face is on the front page of the New York Times and everybody knows he’s the heir to Genovia’s throne.
There are reporters lining the walkway to school; there are kids he doesn’t even remember being in his classes crowding up to him and saying hi, there’s Michael slapping him on the back and trying to talk to him, there’s no Dean, no Sam, no Jess, no Jo, and Castiel is so confused he can’t breathe.
When he finally becomes somewhat less dazed and confused, he’s in Principal Singer’s office with a cup of tea in one hand, while the other clutches tightly at the arm of the green fake leather chair he’s sitting on.
His grandfather is there.
“We’ve been outed,” he says laconically. “Well. Not literally. Although, we should probably talk about that, squirt.”
Castiel flushes and stares studiously at the milk clouds forming on the surface of his tea. “What now?” He asks.
“Now, damage control,” Gabriel says, pulling out a cigarette.
Gabriel puts the cigarette away again.
“You don’t have to do this,” Castiel’s mom says.
“No, seriously, sweetie. You can back out, you can say no, no one is forcing you to do this.”
Castiel shifts in his seat. “Mom. It’s okay, okay?”
His mom settles down.
Principal Singer fiddles with his cuffs and says, “I could get a restraining order on the reporters.”
Gabriel drums his fingers on the desk, says, “That could do more damage in the long run. It’ll probably be better to weather the storm. If that’s okay, Castiel.”
“It’s fine,” Cas says.
It’s not fine. Cas has never wanted the press in his life. He’s wanted to be special, sure. He’s wanted to achieve great things. But he’s never wanted his name on the radio and his face on the news.
He hadn’t really considered that aspect when he started taking this royalty business seriously. But he still has that Genovian crest, hanging around his neck, weighing him down.
He’s so lost in thought he doesn’t notice the Winchesters aren’t talking to him till lunch.
At which point he realizes they’re sitting outside with Jess, who glances over to him apologetically. The Winchesters have their backs turned.
And before Cas can go out and talk to them, Michael and all of his friends are occupying the seats next to him, so many of them that he can’t even think of escaping. They’re being nice and asking about his classes. It’s absurd.
Dean won’t look at him.
It’s not till History, Castiel’s last class of the day, that he manages to talk to Sam.
Or rather, that Sam finally talks to him.
Sam’s never been good at ignoring people. Sulking, yes, ignoring people, no.
“How could you not tell me,” he says. “I tell you everything.”
“No you don’t,” Cas says. Brutal as it is, he doesn’t much care how Sam feels about this, it’s Dean he’s worried about.
“Well, but this is a big deal. You should’ve told me. Friends tell.”
“Oh yeah?” Castiel says, annoyed beyond measure at the way everyone is looking at him, at the way he can hear the reporters outside, at the way their history teacher isn’t even yelling at him for talking in class, at the way Sam is still somehow making this be about him. “Well, here’s something else I didn’t tell you: if you keep leading Jessica on much longer I’ll punch you myself. I just assumed you didn’t want me sticking my nose in your business.”
Sam runs bright red. “Like you have room to talk, you fucking broke my brother’s heart--"
“Mr. Winchester!” the teacher says, clearly shocked. No one in the class is talking.
Well. There went that revelation, apparently.
By the time Cas gets to Gabriel’s, his sexuality has hit twitter and facebook.
Gabriel is pissed.
“I said we had to talk about it, not announce it publicly.”
Castiel crosses his arms. “I thought you said it was okay.”
“Well, sure, I said okay, but I meant ‘to be handled with care’,” Gabriel is pacing now, running a hand through his flyaway hair. “It’s not like there’s no stigma at all, it’s not like nobody conservative lives in Genovia.”
“Well, I apologize,” Castiel says stiffly, the hair on the back of his neck standing up. “I didn’t exactly plan it.”
“You don’t plan,” Gabriel says, “you just don’t—this is ridiculous, there’s no way you’re ready for this kind of pressure. You’re too young and too goddamn American.”
Castiel leaves the Genovian consulate with no intention of ever returning.
He stays home the next day, and spends the day after with his nose buried in a book, refusing to acknowledge the rest of the world.
On the third day, Dean bumps into him on the way to class, blushes and walks away again.
That’s the day of the Genovian Independence Day Ball.
That’s the day Cas finally goes online again and figures out that if he doesn’t accept the stupid throne, the country will be in the hands of some Count McUnderwear Model that no one likes.
He calls up Crowley, then, and asks for a ride to the Genovian consulate, and by the time he and Gabriel are done talking, it’s nearly too late for the last thing he has to do.
Cas has never been to a ball. The closest things he’s been to are school dances, and while the awkward dancing and shitty music are excruciating, he enjoys dressing up and he enjoys the theory of a proper social event.
If he weren’t quite so terrified he would love this.
As is, he gets dressed in a haze and barely notices Lucifer doing his hair and putting what he calls necessary finishing touches on Castiel’s outfit.
And then he has to go downstairs.
It’s a big deal. He has to make an entrance. That’s one of the first things Gabriel taught him (not, Castiel suspects, because the ability to make an entrance is more important than diplomacy, say, or foreign languages, rather because Gabriel enjoys making entrances so much himself).
Still, he very nearly turns around and leaves again when he’s halfway down the staircase and can see exactly how many people are there, in suits and dresses, with microphones and cameras and glittery handbags and ties and shiny, shiny shoes. It’s only Crowley’s equally comforting and menacing presence behind him that stops him from turning tail and running.
That and the fact that he promised himself he would do this.
So, he keeps walking, and when he stops he’s standing on a stage in front of all these people, with a microphone at his lips and expectations to fulfill.
“Good evening,” he says. “Thank you all very much for attending Genovia’s annual Independence Day Ball, we’re very pleased you could attend.”
Gabriel smiles proudly in the sidelines, and Castiel draws a deep breath.
“As has become public recently, I am in fact the son of the late Crown Prince of Genovia. My name is Castiel, and yes, I am gay.” There’s quiet muttering, but Castiel was prepared for that and keeps talking. “You’ll have to forgive the somewhat difficult way that was handled; I only found out I was royalty two weeks ago and was a bit unprepared.”
There are a few laughs, and Castiel starts to relax.
“A few hours ago,” he says, “I was entirely set on passing up the opportunity to follow my father as heir to the Genovian throne. I’m only sixteen, and there’s not a lot that scares me like responsibility. However…”
He pauses, looks around. He can see Sam, and Jessica. They look nice. He wonders where Jess got the dress. They’re holding hands.
“However, I could never live with myself if I made such a terribly egoistical choice. There is nothing,” Castiel looks up, smiles straight at all the harpies with the cameras laying in wait, “Nothing I would rather do than make a difference in the world, and the best way I can do that is by accepting my responsibility as heir to the throne and promising to make my best effort every day to make the lives of its inhabitants, and, indeed, of people around the world, as much better as is in my power to do. So, today, I decide that I will henceforth and always be Castiel William Jonathan Renaldi, Prince of Genovia.”
There’s applause, which is pleasant, and Castiel’s mother’s beaming face, which is more pleasant, and a coronation ceremony, which is awkward. Before too long, the gold circlet weighs heavily on Castiel’s ears, but that’s alright.
Unfortunately, the thing Castiel forgot about it being a ball is that there’s a dance. Gabriel grins at him as he whisks off various ladies of state, including the Prime Minister’s wife, and someone’s aunt, but Castiel peers around awkwardly. He doesn’t want to ask some random person to dance, that would be awkward (this innate fear of awkwardness is something he’s going to have to work on, he realizes).
No, he has someone specific in mind. Someone he contacted specifically for this purpose.
He’s already afraid Dean decided not to come, but then he sees him, coming out from behind Sam and Jess, looking a bit uncomfortable in his tux, but still the most gorgeous creature Castiel has ever beheld.
He comes out onto the dance floor when Cas makes eye contact, and miraculously, he knows the dance.
They stay there for what seems like a socially acceptable amount of time, before Cas pulls Dean out into the garden.
“Why didn’t you talk to me?” he asks.
Dean blushes and rubs at the back of his neck. “I thought. Well. I thought, you were a prince, and I’m probably going to end up being a mechanic. Doesn’t really work. Plus, I was kind of pissed you lied to me.”
“I didn’t lie,” Cas says, affronted. “I wasn’t allowed to tell. And I thought you’d think I was weird.”
Dean grins, brushes a thumb across Cas’s cheekbone. “I’ve always thought you were weird.”
That seems auspicious to Cas, so he leans over and kisses Dean.
He still suspects years later that Crowley was spying on them, because that’s the moment that all the lights and fountains turn on, and for a minute Castiel thinks he’s seeing fireworks, but then he opens his eyes, and he’s seeing Dean, illuminated by the lights in the garden, and it’s so much better that he has to kiss him again.