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7:15 AM.

Dean groans, lifting a hand to rub over his eyes. There’s growing pressure behind them - he can feel a headache setting in.

It takes him a good five minutes of at least trying to go back to sleep before he resigns himself to getting up.

Pushing the blanket off sends shivers down his spine - he’ll never understand why Benny likes to keep the apartment so fucking cold. At least the floors are carpet, which he counts as a good thing on mornings like this.

He drags his body to the bathroom where he washes his face with cold water, blinking at himself tiredly in the mirror. The bags under his eyes are getting worse and he’s got to get some sleep or the make-up department is going to rip him a new one.

Ten minutes later finds him in the kitchen, slouched against the counter, arms wrapped around himself. The black turtleneck he’d pulled on is helping a bit, but not enough to be substantial.

He waits for their K-cup machine to finish making his coffee - Benny bought it, but Dean used it more than he ever had so it was practically Dean’s now. He’d thought about buying the thing from his roommate more than once. He’s sure it would be cheaper than trying to buy a new one.

Dean grabs the cup before the last drops even get out. He’ll wipe the machine down when he gets home. For now he starts blowing on his coffee to cool it, padding into the living room where he all but collapses onto their shitty couch.

One of the springs makes a noise in complaint and his heel hits the front of the couch in retaliation.

The apartment is quiet.

It feels empty and Dean assumes that Benny either hasn’t gotten home yet, or he’s left at an ungodly hour. He’d bet his lunch on the former simply because Benny was more of a night owl than he was.

That’s good - Dean needs quiet this morning.

 

At 8:30 AM Dean changes from sweatpants into jeans, leaving on his sweater. It’ll be cool enough outside that he’ll be alright.

He grabs some medicine from the bathroom, downing a few Ibuprofen with some tap water. He brushes his teeth afterwards and attempts to tame his hair, although it seems like a lost cause for the day. He pushes his hair back from his face and gives that a good enough .

Maybe he ought to get a haircut soon.

Dean grabs his Walkman at 9:00 AM. He clips it onto his belt and slides the headphones over his ears. He’s been listening to the same tape all week, but he doesn’t have another tape that he wants to listen to more, so he tolerates the songs in-between the best ones.

He grabs his keys and shoves his feet into his sneakers, reaching down to fix the backs of them.

On the way out the door he scoops up his messenger bag, throwing it over his shoulders and checking that the door is locked behind him.

It is.

Of course it is, but he always jiggles the doorknob a couple of times to make sure it really is locked.

At 9:30 AM he’s walking towards campus.

It’s about the only exercise he’s been getting and he’s not exactly jazzed about asking for a bike or a car. He’d rather spend the money in the local bakery.

His first class is at 10:30 AM so he’s got time most mornings, anyways.

Dust In The Wind is good walking music and he watches a few stray leaves get carried away by the breeze - fall isn’t treating the trees around campus well. Many of them have already lost all of their foliage.

 

Dean’s early when he arrives on campus - as per usual - and it takes him a bit to decide what to do. It’s a bit cool to sit outside, but with forty minutes or so to kill he needs to do something with himself.

The film building is right beside the theater building, so he decides to peek in.

Maybe Professor Barnes will be there?

Dean shifts his bag to his other shoulder, relieving some of the pressure as he ducks into the building. The heat makes him roll up his sweater sleeves and he sighs, glancing at the monitor in the hall that plays a few previews of student films.

There’s a flash of rainbows and Dean’s lips twitch just slightly towards a smile.

It’s still something he’s getting used to. California is nothing like Kansas and even after a year here, he still sometimes finds himself surprised.

He ducks into the main film office, waving to the girl behind the desk - Becky? She’s a bubbly little thing and he tries to avoid talking to her most days. He’s never prepared for very perky people.

Dean makes a beeline for Professor Barnes’ office door. It’s open, so he assumes it would be alright for him to peek his head in, but when he gets closer the sound of arguing filters in even through his music.

He slides his headphones down to rest around his neck, brows furrowing.

“--you can’t just fail me because you don’t fucking agree with me!”

It’s the meanest he’s ever heard someone speak to the Professor. She’s blind and most of the time she’s the one being hard on students. It surprises them - they expect her to be more timid than she is.

This?

This student surprised Dean .

So... he leans up against the wall next to the office, chewing on his bottom lip.

“Your paper was well written, Castiel, but you know that you didn’t stay on track for what I’d prompted--” Barnes sounds frustrated - that was hard to do.

No , I addressed what you asked us to in the first few pages. You’re just upset because I didn’t agree on your points. You can’t fail me for that.”

Castiel . Your grade isn’t going to change. It is what it is. You’ve got plenty of time left in the semester to get your grade back up. Besides, your overall grade will be fine - this was only one paper.”

“Professor--”

“I suggest you get out of my office while I’m still willing to let this go.”

Professor Barnes’ chairs didn’t have felt pads on the bottom and she refused to put tennis balls on them. The result was that when the student shoved his chair back, the screech made the hairs stand up on the back of Dean’s neck.

He pushes off the wall taking a half step back, but before he can even finish the movement, the other student has come out of the office.

Blue eyes widen and the other boy stiffens, visibly startled. He pauses in his tracks - and even if it’s only for a moment it’s enough that Dean gets a good look.

He’s got tousled hair, blue at the very tips, faded as if it was done a long time ago. Plush lips are twisted into a frown, and Dean swallows thickly.

He’s pinned by those eyes.

The moment passes and the boy storms by him, their shoulders barely bumping, and Dean’s head turns to follow him as he disappears down the hall.

He hesitantly pads forward to peer into Professor Barnes’ office.

She hums.

“Hello.”

Dean smiles uncertainly.

“Hey, Professor.”

A laugh floats between them - “I knew someone was waiting outside. Should’ve known it was you, Winchester.”

She stands and Dean makes his way around the desk to give her a hug. She pats his back and then lets him go to lean up against her desk, waving a hand in the general direction of the exit of her office.

“Mm. So you saw Castiel?”

Dean nods - he always forgets, but corrects himself - “Yeah. Does he… does he always talk to you like that?”

Another soft laugh. “He talks to everyone like that. He fights all the time.” She shrugs and Dean sighs.

“Mm.” He knows what that feeling was like. Middle school had not been a good time for him. He just didn’t have the energy to stay so angry all the time, though.

Dean spoke after another moment - “It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Shows he has his own mind at least.” A pause. “I ought to get goin’ pretty soon. I just wanted to say hey. I know I’ve not visited in a while. Y’know, Ellen is still mad you didn’t come home for Thanksgiving.”

Professor Barnes shakes her head and the smile that she gives is all Pamela. He misses hanging out with her at the Roadhouse back in Kansas. She’d helped him a lot in high school before her accident.

“Yeah, I know. I know.” She waves him off. “Maybe I can hitchhike with your mom for Christmas when she picks you up. If there’ll be space for me - I’ve heard your brother’s growing like a weed still.”

Her hand ruffles his hair and what little work he’d done on it is destroyed. He sighs.

“It’s not fair. You know everyone thinks he’s the older brother when we’re in public.”

Pamela grins. She pats him on the shoulder.

“Least you got a new start ‘til he moves here, huh?” She teases and puts a hand out, finding the arm of her chair so that she can maneuver herself back into it. “You should get to class. Your mother would skin me alive if she found out I was the reason for any of your tardies.”

Dean hums. “That is probably true.” He mutters and shakes his head, nibbling on his bottom lip. “I’ll see you later. I’ll let you know about any of the shows, ‘kay?”

“You better. See you later, kiddo.”

Dean pads out of the office and as soon as he’s not thinking about family, his mind wanders right back to those blue eyes.

Maybe - for once - he’ll call upon Charlie’s skills.

She seems to know everyone on campus. He’s got a description and a name. That ought to be enough.

He slides his headphones back on - Zeppelin meets him and he smiles just a bit.

Yeah.

He’ll ask.