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The Life of a Hunter

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The bunker is home base and it doesn’t take long for the rooms to fill. Cas moves in, then Garth. Kevin is persuaded to join them, lured in by the promise of his own room and a giant library.

Charlie pops by for a visit and never leaves. Krissy, Josephine, and Aiden show up on the doorstep dirty, exhausted, and unwilling to talk. Krissy is adamant that they’re only staying until they’re recovered, but it’s two months into their stay and they’ve moved into separate rooms.

Dean refuses to be a motel. He doesn’t want to be anyone’s parent, but they’re not strangers. He goes out to Staples one day and in a few hours he has two boards set up and in the kitchen.

One is a check-in board. Everyone has a magnet with their name on it, and they’re either in the bunker, on a hunt, or on personal business. If you go on a hunt you have to leave information; what it is, where it is, how long you expect to be gone, and a number to reach you at.

The second board is no less important. It’s the chore board, and if you sleep in the bunker then you’re expected to contribute to the next day’s chores. And no, setting up a tent in the backyard does not excuse you from doing chores. Aiden found that one out the hard way.

After the three teens more kids came in; friends of Josephine’s, old contacts of Krissy, kids who had lost their families to the supernatural or been raised as hunters.

Dean has no idea what to do with them all, but he knows that he can’t turn them out. So Charlie helps him get them signed up for school, and Benny’s called in to help Dean feed everyone, and suddenly the home base has turned into a training base.

“You’re the Winchesters,” Kathy says, eyes wide and reverent. “You’re the real deal.”

“They’re dorks,” Krissy corrects. “But they do know a thing or two about hunting. No sense of fashion, though. Don’t worry, Mackenzie’ll take you shopping.”

Dean doesn’t know where all the kids have come from but he does know one thing.

“You’re not ready,” he says for what seems like the thousandth time. He’s in the weapons locker, gathering what he needs for the hunt, a simple salt and burn. “Not yet.”

“Can’t I come watch?” Lawrence asks. “See how the pros do it?”

“Absolutely not.” Bystanders are a liability.

“How are we going to get firsthand experience?”

“Pray that you’ll never have to get firsthand experience.” Dean zips his bag shut and slings it over his shoulder. Sure, they’re training the kids, and Dean knows that they’re not kids, not with what they’ve been through, and he knows they’re going to hunt, sooner than he wants. But not yet. Not today. Not until they absolutely have to.

“Pray?” Lawrence scoffs. “Who the hell to?”

Dean’s eyes flick over to Cas for a moment before he straightens his shoulders. “You watch your mouth or I’ll have you doing laundry duty while we’re gone.”

“I believe I have a solution,” Cas says.

“To teenage boys who run their mouths?”

Cas doesn’t roll his eyes, but it’s a close thing. He digs into his bag and produces a handheld camcorder.

“No,” Dean says. He ignores the clench in his gut, the thoughts of the Ghostfacers and how they’re doing.

Cas has his ‘Dean you’re being unreasonable’ face on. It’s usually a precursor to Dean losing an argument. “They want to see what it’s like, but you don’t want them to be in danger.”

“You’re not filming me. What if I need you for the hunt?”

“Then I put the camera down and fight. You’re not going to talk me out of this.”

“Then I bring Benny on the hunt with me.”

“Then it will be even easier for me to film.” Cas smiles knowing he’s won.

“Fine,” Dean snaps. He turns to glare at Lawrence, who has watched the exchange with his mouth hanging open. “Shut your mouth. And you’re officially on laundry duty.”

While Dean packs up the Impala, Cas erases Lawrence’s name from laundry and puts him on dishwashing. He winks when Lawrence catches him doing it and then Cas joins Dean at the car so they can go.

~*~

Dean pulls up at a motel with a burned out ‘o’.

“So what made you choose this one?” Cas asks.

Dean makes a face, because since when does Cas care about the motel selection process, and when Dean turns to ask that very question he sees the video camera in Cas’s hand.

“I hate you sometimes,” Dean says. He climbs out of the car and slams the door shut. “No,” Dean says when Cas gets out as well. “You’re not following me.”

Cas, of course, follows him.

Dean’s grumbling to himself when he stalks up to the help desk. The man behind the counter looks from Dean to Cas, a question clear in his eyes.

“Don’t ask,” Dean says.

“I’m filming a documentary,” Cas says with a smile.

“One room, single bed,” Dean says. He slides his credit card over.

The man nods but his eyes flick over to Cas and the camera. “And your friend?”

“He’s not my friend as long as he’s got that thing with him. He can get his own room.”

“I’m not getting my own room,” Cas says. “Would you please upgrade the room to two twins?”

“No,” Dean says. “If you’re going to stay with me then you get a cot.” Dean turns to the motel manager. “The most uncomfortable one you’ve got.”

The guy looks like he doesn’t get paid enough for this. “A queen and a cot?”

“Yes,” Dean says.

“No,” Cas says.

“I’m paying,” Dean reminds him.

“Fine, but I’ve got the proof that you’re a jerk.” Cas turns the camcorder so he’s staring it down. “Never road trip with Dean. He doesn’t care about other people’s wants.”

“Cas.” Dean sighs and grabs the camcorder. “You were on a close-up of your eye. Honestly.” He hits the power button and snaps the viewer closed. “Let’s go unpack the car.”

The manager hands Dean two keys and his credit card. “I’ll stop by with the cot shortly.”

“Thank you.”

~*~

The cot squeaks.

A lot.

Dean swears Cas is tossing and turning in order to be as obnoxious as possible. Dean’s tried covering his head with his pillow. He’s tried humming Metallica. Nothing is working.

“Cas,” Dean finally says through gritted teeth. He knows reacting means he’s lost, but he can’t help it. Unlike certain angelic beings, Dean actually needs to sleep in order to be ready for tomorrow.

“Yes, Dean?” Cas asks all false innocence.

“Cut it out.”

“Cut what out?”

“Cas.” Dean’s practically growling.

“I’m just trying to get comfortable,” Cas says. “My mattress is lumpy.”

“Get over here,” Dean says with the sigh of a man defeated.

Dean’s pretty sure Cas skips over to the bed. “Does this mean I’m forgiven?” Cas worms his way under the blankets and under Dean’s arm.

“You going to sop with the camera nonsense?”

“Ha!”

“Didn’t think so.” Dean still curls his arm around Cas’s shoulder and pulls him closer.

~*~

The camera is out the next morning.

“This is how Dean dresses for a hunt,” Cas says. “Worn jeans for maximum movement and skin coverage. A—”

“Really?” Dean interrupts. “You’re filming me getting dressed? The children are going to be watching this.”

“Well, now the children know you don’t change your boxers daily. Is that sanitary?”

“Well, now they know I wear boxers, which is more than I wanted them to know about my underwear choices.”

Dean buttons his jeans then zips them up. He walks over to Cas, covers the camera with one hand and leans in to kiss him. The kiss doesn’t last long and then Dean’s rummaging through his bag again to find the right shirt.

He can feel Cas’s eyes on him. Tracking his movement, questioning. Dean flashes a smile over his shoulder. “You’re not going to incorporate my shirt choices? How will the kiddies figure out how to dress themselves?”

“You’re enjoying yourself,” Cas says. It’s both an accusation and approval.

Dean laughs. “Wait until we’re torching some bones. That’s how I get my kicks.”

“That’s not entirely true,” Cas says.

Dean tugs his t-shirt over his head then slips into a flannel then grabs his jacket. “You’re right. I also like to eat. Come on, breakfast then we can start getting some info on this ghost.”

~*~

The camera goes with them to breakfast. Dean makes sure to chew with his mouth open and leans forward so the camera can get a close-up.

“I’m getting Charlie to edit that out,” Cas says.

Dean grins chipmunk cheeked.

~*~

The hunt goes smoothly. A simple salt and burn, no tricks. Which meant Cas filmed the whole time

The scent of smoke clings to Dean’s clothes the way the ash clings to his hair. He leaves the burning bones and approaches Cas.

Cas’s eyes are an eerie blue in the firelight. He’s still holding the damn camera, and Dean’s tempted to smash it against the nearest tree.

Instead, Dean’s calloused hand covers Cas’s and his fingers find the power switch.

“Dean?” Cas asks, quiet voice barely above a whisper.

“They don’t need to see everything, yeah?”

Dean presses in until he can kiss Cas, slow at first, careful and then, like he remembers they both could have died tonight, it becomes more frantic.

Dean’s free hand fists in Cas’s trench coat, and he tugs, hard, until Cas stumbles into Dean and they almost tumble to the ground. It’s Cas who steadies them, planting his feet and drawing Dean in. The camera falls to the ground, and they lace their fingers together, holding onto each other.

Alive, Dean thinks, squeezing tight.

Together, Cas kisses back.

They stay like that, kissing and a bit of fumbling under each other’s shirts until the adrenaline from the hunt simmers down. It doesn’t take long, because this wasn’t a bad hunt, and Dean’s reluctant to part with Cas. But they’re in the middle of a cemetery burning a body, so it’s best if they pack up and go.

Cas doesn’t want to part with Dean quite yet either if the fingers he hooks in Dean’s jean pocket are any indication.

“We need to get out of here,” Dean says. He gives Cas another brief kiss any ways. “Wendy’s?”

Cas grins and bends down to pick up the camera. “Yes.”

~*~

They go through the Wendy’s drive-thru because it’s still open at 12:37, and Cas documents their post-hunt victory meal.

And then he turns the power off and shifts forward to kiss Dean. They make out like teenagers in the dark, empty Wendy’s parking lot, and Dean couldn’t be happier.

Still, it’s a hunting ritual he’s going to keep just between him and Cas.