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25 October 2009 @ 12:09 am
fic, Supernatural: There Will Come Soft Rains 2/5 (Dean/Castiel, Sam/Jess), NC17  
Title: There Will Come Soft Rains 2/5
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, some Sam/Jess
Rating: NC17
Word count: this part 8478; total, around 30000
Spoilers: it's totally AU but since I tried to nod at canon as much as I could there are some S4/S5 spoilers. 5x04 mainly.
Summary: Two years after World War III starts, Dean Winchester is a disillusioned former veteran leading a survivors' camp in the former state of Kansas whose life takes a very, very unexpected turn. Starting when he rescues this guy with huge blue eyes named after an angel.
Warnings: this is a post nuclear war fallout setting with everything that it implies. There's violence and descriptions of situations which could be nasty at best and disturbing at least or however possibly upsetting and/or triggering. Also for plot purposes Dean is an Iraq war veteran (the last one, not the Gulf war) and there are sections dealing with it and for that are valid the same warnings.
A/N: written for the AU/AR challenge at deancastiel for the prompt There are no angels or demons, and the apocalypse happened with bombs and a very human war.. I'm afraid this is the part where a lot of talking happens and not much plot does, but I needed it to set the rest of the action moving. Part I.

Dean doesn’t get any sleep indeed, but it’s fine. He’s more than adjusted, and anyway this is his free day, so what the hell. He stands up as the sun rises (not that he can see it rising; he figures it does because the clouds are light gray now), puts on some clean clothes and gathers the ones he had on plus another dirty set. It’s laundry day if he doesn’t remember wrong; as he goes out, he spares a glance at the mattress where Castiel is sleeping like the dead. Good. Fuck knows if he didn’t need it. He envies him for a second, then closes the door, walks for a minute and leaves the dirty laundry in the former solarium which is now emptied of anything that could have passed for lamps and filled with laundry baskets. He doesn’t even flinch at the smell anymore; they can’t spare soap and once each week it is. After leaving his own laundry in a basket, someone on duty is going to take care of all this later, he sees that Sam is about to leave. He arrives at the camp’s entrance, discusses the raid all over again with Sam, nods at everyone else going with him and stays there to watch them leave. Then he reaches the former reception of the beauty center, which is now the dining hall; thankfully it’s still too early for most people to be around.

Dean almost never takes advantages of his privileges, as guy-who-keeps-the-whole-place-together but this morning he does because it’s the time he needs more food and possibly not just the usual breakfast. After discussing for a short while with Ellen, who used to own a bar and is definitely a decent cook and probably the best around the area, he gets back to his cabin with two small packets of cereals, a pot of coffee and half a bar of dark chocolate. Usually it’s just one packet of cereals and a cup of coffee, and surely not take-away. Or what passes for take-away these days.

He places everything on his desk (where he keeps a cup of his own whose porcelain is hopelessly cracked, but still), pours himself some coffee, opens his packet, pours all the content in his fist and just swallows it at once after the minimum of necessary munching. Here goes breakfast. He takes a look at the map on his wall, figuring that he needs to find some itinerary for the next raid because so is life, then looks outside the window. The sun is pale in the sky, or has to be since the clouds are now almost blindingly white, and all the land surrounding their camp looks like ash. He can see bonfires in the distance. Not even a plant, but it’s been at least one year and a half since he saw one around. No surprise there.

He startles for a second when he hears rustling from the bed; he turns and he finds Castiel awake, sitting on the mattress but wrapping sheets and blankets around himself and Dean would almost find it cute, if they didn’t have serious talking ahead and if we weren’t talking about a guy who has to have passed through some freaking huge trauma here.

“Morning,” he mouths as he takes one of the plastic cups Ellen gave him and pours the rest of the coffee in it, then brings the chair in front of the mattress and hands it over.

“What...”

“Breakfast. I hope you like it black because there’s not much sugar around nowadays. Here,” he says throwing the cereals on the bed next to Castiel, “is the rest. And I might have something else later, but it’s a one time thing and I’d say go through these before I take it out.”

Dean is half-shocked when Castiel drinks the coffee in one go; it was still fairly hot and it must have burned like a bitch. He stands up to get the chocolate from the table and when he turns back to Castiel the packet lies empty on the ground. It looks like Castiel’s stomach will keep stuff in after all.

“Woah. When was the last time you ate something?”

Castiel looks at him and then shakes his head as he shrugs. “I don’t know. One week, maybe. And it was some old bread then, I think. I’m not sure I remember right anyway.”

Jesus Christ, Dean thinks again even if he should be everything but surprised. It’s the usual. Fuck, he went a week and a half without eating when the Civil War started, but then again Dean had been fucking trained for that and had given Sam all the food they could find back then because he wasn’t; he has an idea that the man in front of him isn’t either.

“Well, then I guess you can use this. Scratch it, you can use this alright. ‘S not much and I did have to bargain to get that, so just take it slow, okay?”

He hands it over and Castiel takes it on reflex, but Dean notices his hands start shaking when he sees what it is and that he’s looking at it like... like a damn freaking guy who’s been wandering in the desert for days and found an oasis. And right, chocolate is a luxury, but not that much. Fuck, they have fifteen kids and they give it to them once each month if things go bad and once each two if it goes very bad, so...

And then Castiel is handing it back.

“What?”

“Don’t... don’t waste it on me. Really, that was more than...”

Dean shakes his head. Even if this is actually fucking sad, he’s also kind of admiring the guy. In order to renounce even the most stupid of pleasures in his conditions must mean that he has quite the force of will.

”Negative. I don’t like it anyway and you really need to put some calories in that frame of yours. Come on, just take it. There’s no catch, really.”

Castiel does take it back; he breaks a small piece and brings it to his mouth and well, if his face doesn’t morph straight into a blissed out expression Dean doesn’t know what it did. It doesn’t last that much though; Castiel looks more at the ground than at him as he swallows the piece and speaks.

“This... this is the nicest thing anyone has done for me in... forever, maybe?” he whispers, and Dean fucking wants to know now because seriously, this was nothing, this is even less than Bobby would have done if it had been him to find Castiel (actually, he’d have probably shot those three on the spot; now he wishes he had done it too), and just...

“Hey. I don’t want to pressure you into anything, fuck knows if you need it, but I need to think about what to say when someone comes asking questions. Which will be soon, I fear.”

“Oh. Sure. I understand that. What... what do you need to know?” he asks as he takes another painfully small bite.

“Something like where do you come from, who you are and what can you do. Not the easiest, but yeah, it’s the basics.”

“Well, I guess not the hardest either. Okay. About the first, I am... I was from Flagstaff.”

“You’re from Arizona? Christ.”

“Why, is there...”

“Nothin’. I just, uh, I always wanted to go see the Grand Canyon and never managed.” Now, why is Dean telling Castiel this? Sure as hell it’s not vital information. And it’s not like him to share random stuff with almost perfect strangers, except when it’s something that probably only Sam and Bobby know. Maybe Jo, Ellen’s daughter, knows too. He can’t remember if he ever told her. “Whatever, I doubt it’s still there. Or that it’s still worth seeing. You were saying?”

“Well, I haven’t been back there since... since the bombs. We fled after the bomb on LA. About the second... well, you know my name. You probably wondered why is it... let’s say not exactly common.”

“Er... I’ll admit I did.”

“It happens. Well, I was the first male born in the family. Third of nine.”

“Nine?!”

“Yes, nine. My family was... is... I was... we belonged to a smaller church which was really just active in our area. The city and near surroundings. Well, no, also generally in the state and I guess a few people not from Arizona belonged there too, but that’s not the point. My uncle was a minister there. I was born on a Thursday. Castiel is the angel of Thursday. So...”

Smaller church? Dean thinks, and then figures that it means strict. Quite strict. He just hopes the guy isn’t a religious nutjob, but until now he hasn’t given any sign of craziness, so he’ll just listen for now.

“Anyway, I won’t burden you with the story of my life until 2006. It really wasn’t much exciting until then. Though... well, my father died when I was fourteen and from then we went to stay with my uncle and his family, but that’s pretty much the only thing worth mentioning. I loved my family, they loved me, the only trouble I gave was that according to my uncle I seemingly asked too many questions when discussing during Sunday School but that was it. Until 2006. I was twenty-four then and my uncle just said I could have used some time outside the town to go on a mission in Phoenix. I hadn’t even ever left there at all, before. A mission in the sense, you know, knocking on doors and handing out flyers.”

Dean nods again and doesn’t say anything about the fact that he always politely showed away any kind of religious missionaries before leaving for Iraq and that after he just shouted at them to get the fuck off. He couldn’t handle religious talking, or people offering him a chance to save his soul. He has an idea that his soul was already fucked long ago, and possibly beyond any chance of redemption for that matter. Not that he believes in that anyway since he has checked the atheism box a long ago, but that’s not the point.

“And there... it was two of us, me and another friend of mine back then. We had been close for a lot of time, ten years or something. We spent a couple of months living together in the same apartment while we were... I guess you could say spreading the word. It was... strange. It seemed to me that sometimes he’d look at me more than it was strictly appropriate, but I didn’t mind. Strangely. I actually wanted him to. It made me feel good when I should have felt disgusted just at the mere thought that he could be interested in me that way. But, I’m trailing off here. What matters is that at one point I was sure that he was, interested, and that even if I had tried to deny it for a while I was interested too and... the week before Christmas, which was when we were supposed to go back home, I caved in and I kissed him. I was just positive that he...”

“You were wrong, right?”

Castiel takes another bite and nods. “I’ll spare you the details. On January 24th everyone was still discussing about how to properly punish me after... well. I thought... see, I was in love with him. I really was. The first week after I realized it I just wanted to disappear somewhere and die of shame; at one point I just stopped thinking and tried to just feel things and... I was happy around him and I wanted him to feel the same too and... you know, I thought, if God loves all of us so much why would he hate me for loving someone else?”

Dean gives his assent again and lets out a breath of relief. Definitely not a nutjob.

“Then the war started. My mother said that no matter how despicable my behavior, we should have stuck together until it was over because after all we were still family and everyone had a use. No everyone was exactly agreeing but they thought it was the best course of action. So we stayed where we were until that bomb dropped on LA. I was sort of a stranger or something, they barely talked to me and mostly everyone looked at me like I had some plague, but still, I was there. Then after the bomb some people from New Mexico invaded the state and we had to flee.”

Castiel takes another bite and savors it for a good minute before going on.

“I just... from then it was crazy. I just remember a lot of walking, a lot of arguing and a lot of hiding. We couldn’t fight, no one owned a gun or had even ever learned to shoot previously, so either people were hiding us or we stayed in abandoned places while walking during the day. We took what food we managed. Thankfully whoever was attacking the state at the time rarely did it during the day.”

”Yeah. I remember even too well..”

”Why, what were you doing then?”

“Staying here during the night, get out during the day and ambushing mostly people from fucking Nebraska who hid in abandoned barns.”

Castiel just nods and Dean lets him go on. “I really don’t know how it was that we managed to hide all that time. I just know that it was always like that. I’d go along with them but they’d barely talk to me and more than once I thought about lying and saying I regretted it, but I really didn’t and... I wasn’t brought up to lie. To my family especially. Anyway, you remember that week after the truce when no one still knew that there actually was a truce?”

Dean nods. He remembers that. It had been a nasty business and since it was Bobby who had told him he didn’t even know how exactly it went on except that there had been a meeting between people who stayed in much bigger camps than his somewhere in Illionois.

“It was then that it happened. Or at least, I learned about it one month later, but I think it already was decided back then. We all were in this other abandoned barn somewhere near Topeka and I was outside arguing with my uncle, one of my cousins and a couple of my brothers, same problem, I really don’t understand how it could still matter, especially since during the last six months if I was useful for something then everyone would behave more or less normally and then we’d go back at the beginning. We were pretty far from the barn because no one wanted the people inside to listen, not that they didn’t know what was going on already. And... some of your friends from Nebraska, I think, noticed the barn, figured that it wasn’t a base of theirs and they threw a grenade on it.”

“They... you mean...”

“All dead. Except for us. This was six months ago.”

Dean notices that Castiel’s voice has started to shake and that he’s taking bigger bites from the chocolate bar. “They... well, someone said it was my fault because if I hadn’t been what I was at least we’d have all died together and... I’ll spare you that too. Anyway. They left me there.”

“They left you there?”

“Yeah. Well, one of them tried to stand up for me, but in the end they did. And... I just... was around. I mean, when you’re alone is easier to hide and steal food and whatever. And since I guess people got news about the truce there were considerably less chances of someone shooting at me at random. If I was careful, of course. I ended up in Lawrence by chance. It’s a big city and I figured I could hide in there for a while. I met... I met Anna there. The...”

Castiel’s shoulders shake and he tightens the blanket around them. He looks so miserable that Dean expects him to lose it any second, but he takes a couple of deep breaths and another bite and eventually he doesn’t.

“The girl, right?”

“Yeah. She was alone too and, differently from me, she knew how to use a gun and she had been surviving in there for a while and well, maybe she felt alone or something, but she said I could stay with her. I had been hiding in some empty basement then, she had some food and I hadn’t seen much to eat in days and... well. So it goes. It was alright for a while. She was a nice girl, she knew her way around, she was as kind as someone could be after spending six months shooting at people from the window of the hotel room they’re staying in. The hotel was barely standing up then, but it wasn’t too bad in the end. This until one week ago we were getting to this place where she said she had seen some boxes of canned goods and those three had had the same idea. We were no match for them. Hell, I couldn’t even manage to punch one of them before he knocked me out. They threw both of us into some locked cellar in that building in front of which you found me, us, whatever. We were given some water and that was it. Turns out they had found a special way to celebrate the anniversary, you know. She was so weak when they got her out and...” he trails, his voice choking; Dean realizes he won’t be able to finish that sentence. The chocolate is over by this point. “And then you came.”

There’s silence then, and Dean just wants to kill someone. Hell, he has one person of all his family left and sure as fuck he would die for him without thinking about it twice; the idea of turning Sam away like that makes his stomach twist in an entirely unpleasant way and he just wants to know who is the idiot who would ever... Jesus. Indeed.

“About what I can do... well, I can’t shoot at all but I’m a decent cook, I can clean or do laundry or anything similar, and... before taking a sabbatical because of the mission in Phoenix, I was doing some training to teach. But I’m afraid that it’s nothing you can use.”

“Wait there,” Dean says, remembering a conversation he had with Sam some two weeks ago. “Teaching what? High school? College?”

“Not really. If it was my uncle would have probably even approved of it.”

“He didn’t?”

“He expected me to follow his footsteps. Since I was the first and all. But if it was college he wouldn’t have said that I was doing something way below my level.”

“So what was that?”

“Junior high. History, to be specific. One of my sisters used to tell me I was a masochist. Anyway, I guess it’s not exactly useful, so whatever you need, I’ll settle for it.

Dean can’t actually believe his ears. “You know, it might be useful.”

Castiel looks at him in that sort of adorable way, except that considering what is that he was talking about ten minutes ago, it’s more heartbreaking than adorable.

“Listen, now it means you know just all the dates of the first Civil War or it means that you know, er, I dunno, some basic math? Because, see, we have fifteen kids around. From five to twelve, if I’m not forgetting stuff. Anyway, none of them has been to school in years if ever and no one here is trained or anything. I think someone did try at the beginning, but it was too early and no one thought that knowing fractions was gonna help, with people from four states wanting to kill you off just because war is fun. Which I guess is a point,” Dean says as he stands up and looks out of the window. “Now... well, there’s the truce. Which is a start. To be honest, I think the situation’s still all ways of fucked up and I don’t think that nothin’ close to what was normal for us is gonna happen for a while. Anyway, me ‘n Sam, we’ve been talking about it lately and we think that they could use some schooling instead of freaking target practice all day long. ‘Cause that’s what they do. I swear there’s this one who is eight who aims better than I do, and I’ve been in two wars. I don’t think they could get better at it. Actually, Sam tried asking around but after fifteen people sayin’ no he gave up. So well, whatever you know that could be of some use if things ever get back to half-normal would be fine. Also because I doubt that any of them who did actually have time to go to school before this mess remembers any of it.”

“You mean you could...”

“I could set you up, yeah. The parents of the ones who still have them might appreciate it and the ones who don’t have any could use it too. It’s five of them, they stay with other people with kids. We try, I guess. Are you sure you can do it though? If you asked most of the people here to get back to their old job now, whatever it was, they’d probably freak the hell out.”

“I... I think I could. Mostly because... it sort of was my... coping mechanism.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think you don’t need me to explain what living in your worst nightmare means. Right?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

”Well, when I had a minute... and, since no one except a couple of my sisters who were too young to get what was going on talked to me, I had a lot of minutes... I just thought about it. In theory. I mean. I just imagined that some day this would be over, we’d get some sort of clean slate, we’d build again our system, or the next best thing, and I’d volunteer for that and just, I’d spend a hour in my head teaching useless stuff to an imaginary faceless class who wasn’t necessary interested. Kind of crazy, but well. It kept me in check. So... I think I can. If you give me some time though, I’m not sure that if I was to start tomorrow... you know.”

Dean nods, both at the request and at what Castiel said; he understands it even too well. He had his own coping mechanism for when things got too heavy to bear, too; in Iraq, he used to sit somewhere quiet when he could and imagine that he was back in Lawrence, that he arrived from this garage he owned to a two-storey house where this girl with whom he was in a happy relationship waited for him. Sam would be living someplace near and be a very successful lawyer. This was before WWIII; since then, it has changed to coming back to the camp without worrying about truces or not truces because the war was over and seeing it surrounded by trees.

Yep, he totally adjusted his expectations. He’s a bit startled and glancing at the gray desert out of his window when Castiel talks again.

“I just... I can’t believe that...”

“What’s up?” Dean asks, turning and seeing that Castiel let the blankets fall down. He’s still sitting on the bed and Dean remembers that he probably needs someone to look at his feet and shit, he’ll have to do it because their doctor is out with Sam (stupid, but this is a huge raid and they need as many people as possible), but he positively looks shocked or something.

“It’s... you know. I might have discussed a lot in Sunday School, but people talking to me used to say that they never met someone with such faith all of their lives. It probably was an exaggeration but well. You get the idea.”

“Yeah. And...?”

“After 2006, I kind of... well, I never told anyone, not that I was around someone who was willing to listen, but I started thinking about it. Everything. My church, God, what I was supposed or not supposed to do... and at one point I just came to this conclusion that if it’s true that God loves us all then there was something not working in what I was taught. I always thought that, you know, that good things do happen if you have faith. And that if you do your reward isn’t necessarily in Heaven. I kept on believing it for a while. I just thought that at one point they’d just see it too. This, until the second war. I just... I guess sometime along the way I stopped believing that. It wasn’t like anything good was happening to me, right? Or to my family. Or the world. If only, things just got worse. Six months ago I stopped. Praying, I mean. But... I did it one last time when those were bringing me and Anna out. I just thought something like, if you’re really there then please show me now. And... I know it might be a coincidence, but then you come by and get me out of there, offer me a roof over my head and a chance of earning it doing my job, or sort of? I... it was a good thing. And it happened. And maybe... well. That.”

Dean can see his point. He really can, even if he’s been an atheist all his life and especially lately, but he knows something about faith, he has thrown grenades next to people who were still on their feet mainly because it was the only thing that kept them from going batshit crazy, and he figures that he can’t exactly be disappointed if he helped Castiel getting some of it back. Maybe. Even if he’s anything but a godsend, that’s for fucking sure; and yeah, it was just luck, but he can see how Castiel is desperate to believe it again and who is he to deny him that?

“Well, as long as you don’t turn kids into fanatics,” he jokes, and there’s the hint of a smile again.

“Oh, I don’t think I would ever mention religion. Not when I need to clear my own ideas first, but even if I decide that I was right, I doubt my church would ever take me back. If it still exists. And the only thing I learned out of this is that one shouldn’t be taught it, he should find it.”

“I’d have a doubt about your church alright. Okay, listen, I’d say that instead of theology we could worry about more pressing matters. Like, checking your feet because I’m sure they hurt like fuck, introducing you to Chuck who, as head of inventory, is pretty much the one person you want to have on your side, letting you have a shower and possibly showing Ellen your skinny self and convince her to give you some extra food. Which won’t be a problem, you’ll probably end up waking up her motherly instinct which sort of died when she found out her daughter could shoot three people in the head before any of them could shoot her. You could cut some of that hair. And while you’re showering I should find you some clothes, I’m running out of clean stuff.”

“I don’t...”

“You do, and shut up. You could do with fifteen more pounds on you and I doubt you’ll gain much, but we’ll see. Then I’ll just show you around and you can start when you want. Time is all we have, anyway. But about that... well, the rooms are still all booked.”

“Yes.”

“And... well, it’s that...”

“Is here... oh, well, I guess you do value your privacy. I’m sorry, I guess I can just sleep outside or in the kitchen if...”

“Wait. You meant you don’t mind sharing?”

Castiel shakes his head earnestly and Dean probably makes some idiotic shocked face because Castiel tilts his head again like Dean figures he does when he doesn’t get something.

“No. Not really. If you’d rather...”

“No, I don’t mind you stayin’. Really. It’s okay. It’s just... people don’t usually... because of... and then the few that lasted a few weeks... well, I won’t lie to you. I can have bad mood swings. When they happen usually I wake up half of the camp with the screaming, but I’m the one keeping everyone alive so they just ignore it. And when I’m in a bad mood not even my brother wants to be around me, and fuck knows that he’s been around me for ages, so I’ll warn you, I’m not sure...”

“Dean. I don’t mind. I didn’t mind last night, I’m sure I won’t. Sincerely, you’re... I mean, you could have passed by or left me there or sent me on my way and... I really am not the person who can’t recognize a gift for what it is. That’s nothing in the face of what you’ve done for me, and you’ve known me for ten hours.”

There’s something in the way Castiel is looking at him, calmly, speaking firmly, like he’s so sure of what he says, that leaves Dean speechless. Or maybe his head was stuck on the gift bit.

Shit, has to be the first time someone puts it in these terms.

“Fine, then I guess we’re roommates until, until who knows,” he mutters, and he swears Castiel might look a tiny bit amused there. “So, I ain’t the local doctor but I’m skilled enough. Are you gonna let me have a look there, Cas?”

“Sure. But... how did you call me?”

“Ca... uh.” He hasn’t even realized it. It had come on the spot. He usually ends up nicknaming people at random if he likes them or stuff, but it surely never happened after twelve hours from the moment he met them. Well, Sam excluded, but that’s another story. “Sorry. Dunno where it came from. If you don’t...”

”Oh, I do. Or... well. It’s... no one ever bothered to shorten it, but it’s alright. Really it is.”

Dean nods and gets the first aid kit.

--

In the end there wasn’t any infection going on; Dean brings Castiel to the showers (yeah, it was pretty much luck that they settled in a place which had showers working for about forty people; and they have plumbers and managed to use the water more than once filtering it; it’s not always exactly hot, but they work and Dean thinks you can’t ask for more), doesn’t answer if anyone stops him asking questions saying that he needs to talk it over with Sam first. While Castiel showers it takes him a quarter of an hour to go through the unclaimed clothes (they have boxes for them; not many since people aren’t picky about wearing dead men’s clothes if they need them, but still, there are always some unclaimed things) before he comes up with a couple of pairs of jeans which seem the right size and in decent conditions, three random flannels, a couple of other shirts, a random number of socks which seem matching. Not much, but it’s something. He fetches the first pair of spare boots whose number fits and then realizes that it’s January and the guy can’t really get around without a coat. Except that coats are valuable, really valuable, and there isn’t a single unclaimed one, if you don’t count...

Well. There is one, actually. A beige, old trench which someone, probably Chuck, dubbed the Columbo coat and that no one wears or claims because it’s cut strangely and doesn’t fit ninety-five per cent of the people who try it on, not to mention that the general opinion is that it’s ridiculous and really not the useful kind to wear while going on ambushes.

They’re all good points, the latter especially. But Castiel won’t go on ambushes any time soon and there aren’t sweaters or anything, which means that he needs an extra layer and... oh, fuck it, it’s not like his new acquaintance seems particularly concerned with fashion. He grabs the coat and gets back to the showers. He leaves everything except the coat folded on a bench while he waits for Castiel outside. He knows that in twenty minutes people will wonder why the coat disappeared from its usual place, hung on the wall of the small storage room like some kind of trophy.

When Castiel gets out, looking way, way healthier than yesterday or this morning, the clothes he put on fit, mostly; Dean hands the coat muttering something about being sorry but it was the only one left, but Castiel doesn’t blink a second. He takes it, puts it on and tightens it around him, probably because he’s still cold, and.... well. Not only it fits just fine, which is strange enough, but there’s something about the way Castiel looks in that stupid thing that almost suits him. He doesn’t make it look half as ridiculous as it is. And he seems pretty satisfied with it, so... well, who the hell cares. He thinks he might show him around when he hears cars and it’s strange because this should have taken a lot more. It takes one hour just to arrive at Alma, and Sam and company have been gone for three; a raid can’t possibly last for one hour. He tells Castiel to get back in the cabin, stay put and possibly be ready to meet his brother, then gets out and lets out a breath of relief when he sees him getting out of the car with the four people that went with him, all in one piece.

“What the hell?” he asks when Sam is in front of them.

“It was a bust. Or well, we got there and half the town was blown up and the other rest about to fall down. We drove through it just to check, but... no sign of anything.”

“No storage rooms or anything?”

“Nope. I’m just sorry we wasted petrol, but at least it was clean.”

“Yeah, guess so. This evening I’ll come over, I think I might have some places to check out.”

“Good. So, listen, what about...?”

“Castiel? Right. I think I might have found him somethin’ to do.”

Dean fills Sam in trying to share the least information because it’s always private stuff and Castiel told Dean, not Dean and Sam; Sam grimaces towards the end.

“What, they just let him on his own? Fuck ups. Seriously, what. Right, brave new world and all that jazz, but one would think...”

“Yeah. What I thought. Anyway, remember that we were talking about trying to school the kids again?”

“I do, except that you know that no one around would ever be so crazy to volunteer for that, and I’m not asking anymore after last time’s results.”

“Well, there you got a half-trained junior high teacher.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“Nope.”

“And he remembers anything of that training?”

”Says he spent time thinking ‘bout that to avoid going batshit crazy. Guess you can give him some time to think about stuff and some other time to convince them that they might actually need this, but when I said it... his eyes lit up or something.”

“Right. Listen, you mind if I go talking to him?”

“Nope. I already told him you might. Go ahead. And uh, after you’re done come back and tell me if you still think there’s a chance he’s lying.”

Sam raises an eyebrow but then nods shortly and goes straight to Dean’s cabin. Dean really isn’t much worried about what could happen in there, Castiel seems reasonably coping and Sam knows, so he’ll just wait. He has a brief exchange with Jo, who is in a good mood today apparently (Dean doesn’t spare much time to think about the two-week fling they had some six months ago, his last one actually; yeah, same reasons, but better like this, she sort of feels like a surrogate sister anyway), then after she leaves he starts thinking about the places he eyed on the map that morning. They need to go farther, the whole area has been raided to the last storage locker, but maybe if they get a bit closer to the border, where that was a military base if he remembers right...

Sam gets out of his cabin and looks positively shocked when he joins Dean.

“So?”

“Dude, I think I got what you meant. About the lying, I mean.”

“Didn’t I tell you? He’s just... you know he’s telling the truth, right?”

“Yeah. Yeah, that. It’s crazy. The last time I’ve seen such a look on someone’s face was... I can’t even remember it. And Jesus, he was thanking me like I had been the one saving his ass. He just looks too... too...”

”Too good for this world, right?”

Sam nods briefly, still looking starstruck. “Hell yes.”

“So, what else did you say?”

“Uh, nothing. I introduced myself, told him that you two had talked about stuff, that as far as I was concerned he could stay because you’re right, even if he was useless I just don’t think one can kick him out after he looks at him, and then I asked him where he was going to stay.”

Dean already feels the rest of it. He already...

“I asked him if he was sure and then he told me that the arrangements were perfectly fine and again, he totally wasn’t lying. He also said you made the situation clear and so I just tried to pull some joke and wished him luck since I shared a bed with you for a fucking year... hey, dont’ make that face at me. And he said that it was no hardship. Jesus Christ. I can believe he wanted to teach stuff, he so talks like one.”

Sam is half-smiling though, and Dean tries not to think about a girl with whom he had been fooling around before. Her name was Cassie and... well, it wasn’t exactly fooling around, it had been pretty serious. It had just never happened, in three months, that he’d stay the night at her place or that she’d stay at his for whatever reason. Then, it had happened. Sam had been back to Lawrence (he always was back every two weeks for the weekend since Dean was discharged), Dean had had a very, very rough night during which she had gone to sleep on the sofa and in the next morning she asked Sam why didn’t his brother just take meds for that. Eh, fuck that, he just thought about it. He shrugs and just hopes that Sam doesn’t start saying anything regarding that.

Thankfully he doesn’t.

“Anyway. For all I’m concerned, he’s cool with me. And if he’s cool with me and you I guess no one will have anything to say. Also, if he manages to wear that coat it means he’s really something else.”

“Sam, lay that off. It was the only one in there.”

“Yeah, yeah, ‘course. I’d say you should introduce him to Ellen. Looks like he needs it.”

“I’ll do that now. This evening I’ll drop by to discuss the next run, is eight fine?”

”Sure. I’ll tell Jess to save us a couple of beers, if she manages to get any at lunch.”

“You tell her that,” Dean answers before nodding at Sam. His brother nods in response and hurries off towards his cabin. Dean gets in his, motions for Castiel to follow him and they head straight to Ellen’s.

Thankfully, as he had figured, her motherly instincts wake up at once and no one complains about the weird new guy getting a hell of a lot more of a usual raction when it isn’t even lunch time.

--

That evening, when Dean gets back from Sam’s, plan discussed and things set so that they leave in three days, he finds the light turned off and his new roommate already out.

Jesus fuck, he never had a roommate his whole life except for Sam and look when he gets one.

Whatever. He drops on his own mattress and he gets maybe two, three hours before he starts dreaming a more-than-usual fucked up nightmare where he’s shooting at a warehouse that, in truth, had been full of a crazy bunch of people from Colorado’s branch of the National Rifle Association or what was left of it, and that in his dream is full of Iraqi civilians when a hand grips his left shoulder and gently shakes him awake. He mumbles something that he hopes resembles thanks, he gets a half-smile which he can’t even distinguish in the almost pitch-black darkness and then Castiel is gone and his head drops on the pillow, a sigh of relief escaping his lips.

--

Three days after day #1 from the change in sleeping arrangements in Dean’s cabin, him, Sam, Jo, Jess and another former Iraq veteran named Risa (sometimes she and Dean have a drink and talk about it, but just sometimes) leave in the morning for this military facility which is way too close to the Nebraska border to be exactly safe. It takes all day, but they find guns, some ammo, a few grenades and a hell of a lot of bottles of mineral water. Everything locked in a very well hidden storage room, the rest had been already raided at least three times. They decide to go and take all the water even if it’s going to slow them down, but these days they mostly boil rainwater for a while before storing it away and Dean would rather have something which is not that for a while. Right, they’ll boil this too, you can never be too sure, but still. It’s because Dean doesn’t exactly trust rainwater even if it has been two years since the H-bombs; and drinking water is a luxury for you to find if you dig a lot and you can’t look gift horses in the mouth.

They get back late in the evening; Dean feels dead tired, maybe because while he can run just fine if he wants to (and usually he does) regardless of his almost-busted knee or not, after running all day and loading up the jeep he figures he wore it out. Whatever. Two days from now they’ll have guns to trade, so he’ll just shut up and take it. He waves at Sam and gets back to his cabin to find the lights on, the sheets on his bed changed and a plastic plate covered with another plastic plate on the desk. Dean lifts the one on the top and yeah, the rice and beans in there are definitely what passes for dinner, and they’re still hot too; he picks up a plastic fork which was lying next to the plate, sits down and starts eating. It’s five minutes and half of his plate when the door opens and Castiel gets back in, his arms hugging the coat around his waist. He stops on the entrance when he sees that Dean is back but then he gets in and he sort of looks embarrassed.

“Hi,” Dean mouths as he eats. Shit, is he hungry.

“Hello yourself.”

“Is this your doing?”

“You mean... oh. Well, yes. You weren’t here and... someone who had the turn at the laundry, I still don’t know the name, brought all your things here. I... I really didn’t have much on my hands, I mean, I talked with some people and... Chuck decided he had to introduce me around and make me get a feel of the place, or so he said, but that was it. I knew you were going to get back late and I just figured I would do it. I changed the sheets and all the clean laundry is in the linen chest. And, I realized you weren’t going to get back until late and I figured I would save your portion. If... was that okay?”

Dean can only nod, feeling strangely touched. Right, maybe he just wants to pay Dean back somehow, but it really doesn’t feel like something Castiel did because he felt obligated. Not from the way he’s looking at it, like he’s genuinely pleased that Dean appreciated it.

Well. Not one to look gift horses in the mouth. He hadn’t expected to eat anything nor to get clean sheets; he won’t complain.

Three hours after his head hits the pillow, Castiel wakes him up again.

--

Two months pass and Dean has to admit that saying he isn’t at least surprised at a number of things that went down since would be the biggest lie since Bush said Iraq had atomic weaponry hidden somewhere.

Number one: he had thought that given the current situation (or at least, given the fact that the last new people who had arrived at the camp arrived four months ago and it had taken them three months to fit in) Castiel would have... well, not a hard time, but that someone would complain and that someone would point out that schooling was useless.

He was dead wrong. Seems like the guy has the same effect on everyone because there hasn’t been a single complaint and everyone likes him just fine at the worst of cases. Maybe because when he isn’t doing his job he covers for pretty much everything that doesn’t require harming living creatures; if you ask him, he’ll gladly take your turn for the laundry or for cleaning the dining room or for helping Chuck store things or really anything else. Dean wishes that he wouldn’t do it without even blinking an eye, but he says he’s glad to help. Whatever. Or maybe it’s because he’s the one person who always seems genuinely glad to be where he is and people like that. Dean surely likes it. Point is, Castiel fits just fine and since he’s around the general mood got a bit less gloomy. Dean wants to think it’s because they have enough food and the truce lasts, but that’s what he wants to think. And this while he’s obviously still dealing with his shit, because Dean notices that he still keeps a lot to himself and doesn’t like it when people touch him and sometimes he notices him staring out of the window for a while before sleeping, but Dean never mentions anything.

Number two: the man hadn’t lied at all when he said he was trained. Took him one week and a half to decide he was fine with starting and two weeks holed up with kids who either had to become fucked up or were practically born in this joke of brave new world order who hadn’t even heard of a lot of things that Dean got taught in freaking kindergarten to convince them, but he freaking did it. Now they actually go every morning in the room with the spare clothes and some of them even look half-excited about it, some actually are (the ones who kind of remember that things called schools existed once) and the rest just go along with it, but now Chuck has started asking for normal paper instead of toilet paper, and he’s fucking insistent. Dean has asked and Castiel answered with a certain smugness that he had rehearsed it in his head so many times that it was going to work eventually. And the people who actually deal with the kids on a day-to-day basis are quite happy with the way things are going.

Who would have thought.

Number three: he’s doing decently.

Not well. Well is fucking far from it. But decently. If he’s out until late at night with Sam or whatever he’ll find out that Castiel saved him a meal, his cabin is way cleaner and neater because Castiel actually cares about putting stuff in order, there’s someone always waking him up before whatever goes through his head at night gets out of hand and Castiel hasn’t complained about that once. While it’s really nothing like Sam and Jess, it’s sort of nice to get back to your place and find someone waiting for you who, when you ask about his day, just has either regular stuff about laundry or his very fucked up class to tell. He needs to talk about something which isn’t raids, missions, defense or shooting.

Still, nothing else looks much good. Or at least, nothing else looks worse, but the truce is still a truce and nothing else (and it’s not like everyone who leads a survivor camp in the US can go to Washington, meet and ratify it. First of all, he thinks there are at least twenty in each former State, which would just make things messy; second, Washington doesn’t really exist anymore and no one wants to get into a highly radioactive zone; third, they should swear on the Constitution and he doubts that someone still owns a copy. Well, Castiel could probably recite it by heart, but that’s not the point), the routine is getting depressing. And making him worry. Before, it was being-in-a-war-and-stealing and now it’s just stealing; but he’s afraid that some idiot will start shooting soon and he just can’t do this for the third time if it happens.

--

One day, one of the twelve-year olds comes searching for him. His name is Ben and Dean used to give him shooting lessons eight months ago. Cool kid, in Dean’s opinion. Surely could hold his own better than both of his parents. Anyway, he just wants to ask why when he was at school before he had to call all of his teachers by surname and now the only one they have won’t even share it with them.

First Dean wants to laugh because it’s the first time since 2007 that a kid asks him something a kid should ask, then realizes that he doesn’t have an idea either and he tells Ben he’s going to ask Castiel. He does, that evening, and Castiel just shrugs and says that since they sent him away for good he just didn’t feel like it was appropriate to use his surname.

Dean feels a need to kill someone but doesn’t act on it and the next day he tells Ben that Castiel doesn’t care for formalities. The answer is well, then he’s even cooler.

Well, he’ll be damned.

Part III
 
 
feeling: lethargiclethargic
on rotation: I fought the law - clash
 
 
 
Olympiaolympia_m on October 24th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
*purrs happily*

I want to take this fic home, pet and hug it and call it George!!!!
but I won't, because then you won't finish it and I WANT TO READ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AND I WANT TO READ IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!

*giggles*
not that I'm impatient or anything!!!!!

excellent, excellent job - please, can I have more?
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural castieljanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:42 am (UTC)
Awww, I'm so glad you're liking this! And as soon as I finish posting that you can totally bring it home and call it George, I'm sure it'll be thrilled. ;) <3

Anyway thank you so much, I feel so flattered right now it's not even fun. ;) And there's totally more coming this evening my time and in the next part stuff actually happens. ;) Thanks again! :D
(no subject) - olympia_m on October 25th, 2009 10:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - janie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - olympia_m on October 25th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - janie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 11:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
catoasapun: [SPN] Dean/Cas - B&Wcatoasapun on October 24th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
YES. Castiel is a teacher is just about the greatest thing - the way it brings something normal to these people's epically fucked up lives is beautiful (and amusing in that, in canon, he does the exact opposite, so it fits beautifully here.)

I like how Dean has come to think of the living situation as almost-kind-of-like Sam and Jessica's (but not quite, of course - lol Dean) and he appreciates is. Appreciates what Cas does for him.

I LOVED what Ben said at the end, so awesome especially given that it, you know, true. Castiel's family sucks. Just sayin'.

Can't wait for the next bit!
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas bffs <3janie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC)
*phew* It makes me so glad that you liked what I had in store for Castiel here. I fretted about his backstory so much, so it's just great to hear it works for you. And LOL yeah in canon he does the exact opposite but hey, he's supposed to be the angel or what? ;)

For now they're totally platonic and definitely not like Sam/Jess but Dean just doesn't know what's going to hit him. ;)

Cas' family seemingly always sucks, poor baby. And well, Ben is awesome, I wanted to give him the awesome line. ;) Thanks so much!! <333 the next bit will be up today or what passes for tomorrow early morning my time, lol. ♥
laura_trekkielaura_trekkie on October 24th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
Yay, Cas is settling in well. I'm glad everyone's taken to him, especially after his revelations about his horrible family. Is it wrong of me to be glad that most of them got blown up in that barn?

I'm liking domestic!Cas and teacher!Cas and Dean's reaction to having someone to come home to (even if it's purely platonic at this point), a clean house and a meal waiting when he gets in late. I'm also pleased that Cas isn't phased by Dean's nightmares and wakes Dean before they get a real grip on his mind.

Is it enough to stave off the mood swings, or has Cas got one of those to deal with in the near future?

Gripping stuff and I'm looking forward to part three :).

Laura.
the female ghost of tom joad: tangerinesjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:10 am (UTC)
I just had this idea that one just couldn't not take to Cas. Much glad that it works for you. ;)

Is it wrong of me to be glad that most of them got blown up in that barn?

No it isn't. That's more or less how I feel about Cas' current canon family so.. *cough*

I'm really glad you're liking his characterization here, while Dean was way easier to re-cast Castiel was kind of trickier. And yeah, they're platonic and will be for a while, but still I wanted to establish that in the beginning. Thank you so much, I'm so happy that you're liking this! Next part will be up some time today.
(Deleted comment)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural beckyjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
Oh, it's awesome to hear that you are! Thanks so much. ;)
Louquantumdoll on October 25th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
This is just perfect in every way!! Seriously, I love everything about it! Castiel's past was heartbreaking, and his eagerness to be useful to Dean and the others is just adorable. Also, I love how already Dean seems kinda sweet on him, and I love how, despite being human, there is something undeniably angelic about him. I could go on and on, and I'm really looking forward to the next part! *Hugs author*
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas finale #2janie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:06 am (UTC)
This totally made my morning, thank you so much! I fretted for a while about Castiel's backstory so it's just great to hear you're liking it. And you know he'd totally try to make himself useful, wouldn't he? I just have this idea that if human!Cas ended up in your way you couldn't help being nice to him (and Dean knows something about it) and I was really aiming to have something angelic about Castiel even if he's human here, so now I'm all flattered and very, very happy that you're liking this. ;) *receives the hug*
libriscumlibriscum on October 25th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
really enjoying this, hope it continues. :)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural bobbyjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
Oh, it does. ;) I already wrote it all, I just need some minor edits but it's already done. ;) Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
the female ghost of tom joad: misha collinsjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:04 am (UTC)
Yay, I'm happy that you're liking this! And yeah, that was it in a nutshell. It's gonna take some time to get exactly where I wanted them because they seemingly liked things slow, but I'm totally making it up to them. <3 Thanks so much!
vankossvankoss on October 25th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
OMG my mental powers did work on you, you updated!!! meh, is must be coincidence XD.

Nice cas!, all calm down and understanding, bringing a sense of normality and peace to the camp, especially to Dean, *grin*

and Jo is defenitly just a little sister, ho-ha!!!

thanks for sharing your story with ud :D
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas don't ever changejanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:02 am (UTC)
LOL, connected brains? ;) Anyway ha, yeah I did. I decided I'm doing it once each day, I want to stick to my schedule. Usually I'm too lazy but this time I totally wanted to.

I just wanted Cas to be the one changing things around y'know? I mean he isn't an angel here but I kinda wanted him in the role. More or less. And yeah, Dean is appreciating that. He'll appreciate even more *cough*.

Jo totally is. I'm all for the little sister and not much for the love interest, but I like her.

And thank you for such awesome fb! <3
Indigo Catindigocat on October 25th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
Love this AU. Though I must admit it could give me nightmares.
the female ghost of tom joad: tangerinesjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:48 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't go easy with the setting. *cough* I'm glad you're liking it though!
elanorofcastile: SPN - Brothers in Arms by dodger-winslowelanorofcastile on October 25th, 2009 12:41 am (UTC)
*handflails* yay for part two! Still in love and I can't wait for the next ♥
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas the endjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, I'm so glad you're liking it! :D Next part should come soon. ♥
maria: misc: grassr0knr0ll on October 25th, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)
This is so cool.

..is it tomorrow yet? Can I has another part now?
the female ghost of tom joad: tangerinesjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 08:58 am (UTC)
Oh, good to know you're liking this!

And... heee, technically for me it's tomorrow already (well, I posted this at midnight my time but still) so there's totally another part coming this evening (my time). ;) Thank you! :D
Jenni: spn › d/c » had an appointmentonlyechoes on October 25th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
Oh a new chapter yay! I don't have anything deep and constructive to say other than keymash about this fic being quite brilliant. Can't wait for more.
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean/cas don't ever changejanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 10:00 am (UTC)
I'll take the keymash anytime. ;) <3333 I'm so glad you're liking this! More will be up this evening if it goes as planned, but it totally should. ;) Thank you so much!
And the night over London lay: my baby shot me downshaney on October 25th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Castiel is a teacher!! <333 The teacher in me is very happy ;)

I love how Castiel brings a different mood to the camp - his presence has helped ease the tension a little, and got the kids learning, and everyone not complaining about his extra presence because he's so special. He takes such good care of Dean, and I really like how he calmly wakes Dean up from his nightmares. And all these while he has his own shit to deal with and his fucked-up family, and oh Cas <333

Your Dean is lovely too, quietly appreciating everything Cas is doing for him, and god I really don't want to see him have to shoot someone again.
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural deanjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)
It makes me happy that it makes you happy! ;)

That second paragraph of yours was pretty much all I was aiming about with Castiel's characterization here so I'm really, really happy that you liked it. :D Yeah, Cas. <333 but I'm making it up to him sometime in part four. *cough*

And it's so good to hear Dean works for you too! Thank you so much, I'm really glad you're enjoying this. ♥
Lou: SPN - castielgottalovev on October 25th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
there is a lot of things I like about this story, from the slow connection Castiel and Dean find, but also how Cas bring something of normal back to the camp. and the apparition of the trench coat, let's not forget that ;)

=D
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural castieljanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:50 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much! :D I'm really glad you're liking this. And yeah, I took it slow with the connection but I have plans for those two, I do. And yay for you liking the coat, does it show that I was desperately trying to have it in? ;)
(Deleted comment)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural cas tweetjanie_tangerine on October 25th, 2009 09:07 am (UTC)
LOL yeah I think it's a good backstory indeed. I kind of debated about what I should have Castiel doing in this because there were a ton of teacher!Cas prompts on the challenge but then it was the only one which was working so I just figured I'd go for it. Means that great minds think alike? ;) Ha, glad you liked the coat bit! I couldn't resist that. ;) ♥

I LOVE BEN, SERIOUSLY. And then I needed a kid and I was like let's use him, lol. (And again you quoted my favorite bit. Are you psychic or what??? ♥) I'm so glad you're liking this, thank you so much! :D