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30 June 2012 @ 12:10 am
fic, SPN: a forest filled with rain (Dean, Castiel), PG13  
Title:
 a forest filled with rain
Pairings/Characters: Dean, Castiel
Genre:
 AU
Warnings: PTSD related to having been in a war, some permanent scarring/loss of limbs, what you’d expect from the summary. But there’s nothing graphic.
Rating:
 PG13
Summary: where Dean and Castiel are Vietnam veterans twelve years after the end of the war and it’s the 4th of July.
A/N: written for obstinatrix, for dc_summerlovin; the prompts were 
summer rain, old soldiers never die (they just fade away), and unusual AUs. I have no idea of how when I read the second prompt and the unusual AUs liking I decided to go for this, but hopefully it's along the lines of what you wanted. I think that I’m going to write a sequel to this because 2k words ended up not covering entirely what I had in mind and they weren't enough for actually hooking them up, but for now this should stand up on his own. Title is from Bruce Springsteen’s Shut Out the Light, which was on repeat while I was writing this along with another couple songs of his about the subject. Any reference isn’t casual.

“Let me guess, not a big fan of the day either.”

Castiel turns to his left, while fireworks explode up in the sky; all right, apparently someone else has escaped the city and isn’t celebrating. The man is slightly taller than him and probably younger. Some fifteen, twenty years ago he must have been very good-looking – he has a pair of striking green eyes that are certainly something, and he has lovely, proportioned features. Nose, mouth, cheekbones, there isn’t a part that looks out of place. But there are hard lines that make him look weary, certainly not younger than his years, and his short light brown hair that is gray in some places doesn’t hide a nasty scar on his neck. The right half is red and raw, as if –

As if something exploded near him. It could have been a grenade. Castiel shudders, looking down at his left hand – one finger is missing. It’s been almost twelve years.

“It used to be my favorite holiday,” he answers. “Not anymore.”

The man nods curtly. “My favorite always was Halloween, but I gotta agree with the sentiment.”

“Are you from here?” Castiel asks, curious. It’s strange that he’s never seen him around – he’s been living in Lawrence for eight years, and he knows… well, the others. There’s no other war he could have fought. He can’t be much younger than Castiel is – it has to be Vietnam.

“Yeah, but I haven’t lived here for ages. Were you a volunteer?”

“How did you guess?”

“You said the 4th of July was your favorite holiday. Supposed you might’ve been a good little soldier.”

“I was. Weren’t you?”

The man snorts, takes a cigarette from his pocket and starts smoking it. “No. I was my family’s only support back then, I was hoping I wouldn’t get drafted. But I got into some fight sometime in ’72 and they gave me a choice between going there or to jail – I went. Seemed like the best option back then. I didn’t want to come back here after, but I got tired of moving from place to place changing crappy jobs because no one’ll hire me for something that pays decently. My brother still lives here, so I figured I should just come back for a while. I’m Dean, by the way. Dean Winchester.”

“Castiel Milton,” he replies, and offers his left hand automatically.

Damn.

“Sorry, I’m left-handed and –“

“Man, don’t.” Dean shakes his left without batting an eyelid – Castiel hates that he feels thankful for that reaction. He knows that Dean must have noticed the faint scars on his arms, but he doesn’t say anything about that either.

“I thought I was doing the right thing,” he whispers after a couple of silent minutes. “All my brothers had gone to some other war and came home with a decoration. My father said he was proud of me when I left.” Castiel snorts. “He really wasn’t when I came back.”

He has no idea why he’s sharing all this with a perfect stranger during his annual escape from the city on this particular day, but he lives alone and the few people he knows aren’t qualifying as friends, and he hasn’t talked to his family in a long while. Maybe he just needs to speak to someone who gets it.

“How long were you there for?”

“Four years.” He takes a breath. “Three months were enough to start doubting what I was doing. And enough to experience things that I didn’t even know existed.” Not that those habits had carried on when he came back – after he came this close to losing a hand, he had gone cold turkey and he had stayed clean after. Having sex with any willing girl he’d find didn’t seem like a solution, either. “When I came home no one was happy. It’s why I moved here – I didn’t know anyone. What about you?”

“Until the end, so… three years tops. Damn, these fireworks ain’t gonna stop anytime soon, aren’t they?”

Castiel shakes his head. It’s been ten years since the end – nothing has changed since he came back. Sure, he landed a desk job at the university campus, he could be a lot worse off, but it isn’t much of a consolation most of the time. When he tells which war he has fought, no one wants to hear stories. Not that he has a problem with it. He has enough nightmares about it still, he doesn’t feel any need to share the experience with anyone else.

He drops down cross-legged on the ground and Dean sits next to him a moment later.

“Can I have a cigarette?” he asks. Castiel hands him the whole packet – there’s just one left.

“You know what would be nice?” Dean asks after taking a drag.

“What?”

“If it started raining now. I’m not sure it’d stop the party down there, but at least it’d ruin it a bit.” They’re on a hill some fifteen minutes outside the city limits – you can see people in a huge crowd, not so far in the distance, and it makes him feel even more detached than he usually feels.

“I can only agree with the sentiment.”

“Yeah. Hey, you want to share? I just realized it was your last.”

Castiel shrugs, even if he can’t help it – it’s nice to have a normal conversation. Or at least, a conversation that goes on for more than two minutes.

“Thank you.” He takes a drag, then he hands the cigarette back to Dean. Dean sighs as he blows out the smoke.

“Damn. In those stupid war movies, they never ran out of cigarettes. Does John Wayne ever run out of cigarettes?”

“Who?”

Dean’s eyes widen almost comically. “You don’t know? He was an actor. Pretty damn famous.”

“My father was of the opinion that movies are the work of the devil. I’ve seen my first one during the war and then I had more important things to do.”

“Woah, that’s fucked. So if I say that there are some things a man just can’t run away from, does it tell you anything?”

“Sorry, I don’t understand that reference.”

Dean’s eyes narrow as he takes back the cigarette from Castiel. It’s a couple drags left by now. Then he laughs, a small, rough one, but he looks genuinely amused. “I work at the Liberty Hall – you know, the theater. Only place where they’d have me for now. They show some of his stuff sometimes. You could drop by if you have nothing to do.”

Castiel is about to politely decline – sure, his life is mostly his work, but he’s never seen the point of movies, and then his cigarette is suddenly wet before he can take the last drag.

He raises his face to the sky – it’s raining, the light kind of rain, and now the air is slightly chillier. Light doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get his shirt soaked in mere seconds after it starts, but he can’t help it – he laughs, too. He hasn’t laughed in ages, and his throat feels rough, and it’s not the kind of laugh leaving you breathless, but it still feels good.

“It seems like someone heard your wish,” Castiel says, turning towards Dean. Dean looks pleasurably surprised, and definitely smug when they see people starting to flee.

“About damn time.”

Neither of them stands up or attempts to go. Not as if there’s anywhere they could hide around here – it’s all trees.

“I come here sometimes,” Castiel says quietly as he watches people take shelter. “I just stare down and think and I think about what was the entire point of what we were doing.”

“Well, I asked myself that question ‘nough times and I don’t have answers for it. But I know that it’s been ten years and that I’ll never get over it. And that apparently we don’t get many thanks for it.”

“I understand. We didn’t die there but we aren’t doing much better, are we?”

“Nah. We’re doing peachy. Fading away rather than being dead, I guess. Nothing we can do ‘bout it, can’t we? It’s been twelve years and it’s not going away.”

Castiel nods – that covers it, he thinks. The grass under his hands is soft and wet – he likes how it feels. It’s not burnt, he thinks inconsequentially. His shirt is completely plastered to his chest.

He hears Dean standing up at his right.

“Are you going?” he asks.

“My brother’s going to worry himself sick if I stay gone much longer. I haven’t been in the house since lunch. It was nice meeting you.”

Castiel nods, not bothering to answer. It was nice, yes, and a break from his miserable streak of Independence Days, but it couldn’t last the entire night.

“Hey, Cas?”

Castiel breathes in, turns back to Dean. It’s been years since someone shortened his name. And he isn’t even sure that anyone ever called him like that.

“Yes?”

“I meant it, when I said you could drop down at the cinema one of these days. I’m at the box office every afternoon until the last show.”

Then he’s gone, towards the path that goes down the hill, and Castiel is left sitting on that wet, green grass, thinking about it, his left hand shaking ever so slightly. He stays there for a while and at least there are no more fireworks to be seen.

--

Five days later, it’s still raining.

He wraps himself tighter in his trenchcoat as he walks down the road from his office (he stayed overtime, as usual), throwing away his wet newspaper in the first trashcan he sees. He doesn’t need it – he knows that there’s some retrospective on western movies of the forties, and he knows that the last one starts at half past ten in the evening. It’s the last show of the last day and he doesn’t even remember the title, but that’s not the point, he thinks.

It’s all so stupid – he doesn’t even know what he’s expecting from this, he hasn’t had a functional relationship since he came back from the war and he isn’t sure he remembers how it goes at all.

He’s so lost in his thoughts that he doesn’t realize that he’s right in front of the door.

He breathes deep, walks inside, heads for the box office – Dean’s there, looking mostly bored, but then he raises his head and he smiles as he stands up from his chair. Castiel takes off his coat, thankful that his worn-out suit isn’t wet.

“Hello, Dean.”

“Why, hi there. So, you decided to broaden your horizons? Red River’s pretty good to start with.”

“I suppose. I have nothing better to do, don’t I?”

Dean snorts and hands him a ticket, taking the three dollars Castiel hands him. He had checked the price.

“How many people are attending?” he asks. The movie doesn’t start for the next ten minutes.

“Cas, for now it’s been just you. Well, I was planning to come inside, too, I’ve been wanting to see it again. My shift’s ended, anyway.”

“Oh. I – I could wait for you to come in then.”

“Nice of you. I could offer you a ride back in exchange,” Dean says, his voice slightly hesitating, the last three words sounding like a question.

Some part of him tells Castiel that it’s insane, that he just doesn’t do things on impulse, that he’s done with taking risks.

Another is telling him that he’s being ridiculous and that he didn’t survive a war just to spend his life avoiding contact with the rest of the world.

What he knows is that he genuinely likes Dean and he hasn’t liked anyone in years.

“I’d – that would be agreeable. So – it’s a deal?”

“’Course it is, Cas,” Dean says, something like relief in his eyes.

And in that moment, Castiel thinks that if a small part of him is still protesting, he’s going to ignore it.

End.
 
 
feeling: sleepysleepy
on rotation: born in the usa - bruce springsteen
 
 
 
brokentoybrokentoy on June 30th, 2012 08:30 am (UTC)
this is beautiful <3 (and you need to write moaar of it :3 )
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas third manjanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D and well I'm probably going to write more of that asap - I have slightly bigger projects for this. ;) ;)
Giulia: Spn_Cas_wingse0wyn on June 30th, 2012 09:34 am (UTC)
Wow, bellissima storia davvero :) Mi piace poi davvero molto come l'hai finita, con quella sensazione di 'possibilità' che si avverte così chiara nell'aria... finalmente le cose stanno cambiando per i nostri due :) (Ovviamente questo non vuol dire che mi dispiacerebbe leggere di più su questo universo, anzi ;p)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural castiel 8.0janie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
Aw grazie! :D penso proprio che non sia finita qui, se non avessi avuto le duemila parole di limite sarebbe andata avanti per un bel po' mi sa. ;) ma intanto fa sempre bene sapere che funziona anche così e soprattutto che ti sia piaciuta la fine, penso di averci messo più per gli ultimi due paragrafi che tutto il resto e speravo fosse un minimo soddisfacente. ;) grazie ancora! <3333333
a gateway drugobstinatrix on June 30th, 2012 09:40 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. This is certainly an unusual AU! I love these incarnations of the characters. It feels like the beginning of something, if you know what I mean. ;)
(Deleted comment)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas s7janie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and glad you liked it! There's most probably going to be more. ;)
DR Lisa!!: Godstieldazedrose on June 30th, 2012 11:52 am (UTC)
It's the start of something special
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural samjanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
Haha well I figured it'd fit that liking.. ;) thanks so much, glad you liked it! And I totally know what you mean, I'm most probably going to add to this at some point soon without having to work around the limit. *cough*
DR Lisa!!: Misha & Jensen BWdazedrose on June 30th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
How you set the stage here is captivating. I need to know what comes next!
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas the rapturejanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
Haha there's totally more stuff coming next, I just couldn't fit it in. But the sequel's happening soon. ;) thanks, glad you liked this for now! :D
shenova: Dean & Castielshenova on June 30th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
Sweet something the guys have in common nice little chat they hsd with each other.
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/castiel 5.0janie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it, thanks! :D
~ji.jihime47 on June 30th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
i wouldn't mind seeing more of this, as well as that playlist *wink wink nudge nudge*

i have to admit, your soldier!AUs are a major weakness of mine.
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural cas/balthy wtfjanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
I'll write more at some point soon - I had big projects for this but 2k weren't enough. ;) (also if you want the playlist, for this one it was the song in the A/N, Born in the USA and Brothers under the bridge all by Springsteen so not much, but if I do the sequel it's probably gonna get bigger. XD)

And thanks so very much, I'm really glad you liked it! (and I'm flattered, seriously. <3)
(Deleted comment)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas the rapturejanie_tangerine on July 1st, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, glad you liked it! :D and haha there's going to be at least one more, I had hooking up and reminiscing and angsting and stuff in mind when I thought this up but I'm not the kind of writer that fits that in 2k. ;)
Nessiebaum (the loch ness monster): misha moustacheawillowcabin on July 16th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC)
Love this! Hoping there's more in store for these boys. :)
the female ghost of tom joad: misha = awesomejanie_tangerine on July 25th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Hopefully there will be as soon as I mange to get my act together and plot it. ;)
A.: Dean/Casvella_amor_dm on September 11th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
ksdjfkasdh i adore this fic! it's like a quiet beacon of hope burning steady and strong ♥
twisting_vine_x: Dean/Cas - Eye Contacttwisting_vine_x on October 11th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
Ka this is really random but oh my gosh how have I not read this until now. That's just absolutely lovely. ♥