Dean turns the ignition off and leans back in the seat to just stare out his Baby’s windshield for a moment. He’s exhausted, and there’s no end in sight.
Well, there is an end in sight, it’s just hard for Dean to see it. He’s a freshman at the University of Kansas, and though it feels like getting his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering is going to take the rest of his life, he knows in his head that it’s just three and a half more years. He’s almost halfway through his first year of college.
It’s just… It would be great if his family was around to see him do it.
John and Mary Winchester died twenty-four days before Dean turned eighteen. A drunk driver hit them on their way home from a New Year’s Eve party. They were both stone cold sober, as they’d quit drinking together when Mary got pregnant with Dean and put her foot down about John’s alcoholism. There’s a bitter, poetic irony there that Dean tries not to look at too hard.
Sam wasn’t with them or anything, but he’s not here. The only thing that John and Mary specified in their will was that, should their children be underage, they would go to live with the Winchesters’ long-time friend, Bobby Singer, in Sioux Falls. Which is great, because Dean knows that Sam isn’t missing out on any stability, or missing out on having a loving father figure. God knows Dean would do anything to make sure Sam can have as normal a childhood as humanly possible.
In the chaos that ensued after Dean got the call that his parents were dead and his world was forever changed, it took about a month to sort out custody. Which meant that Dean was already eighteen once the dust settled. Dean had already been accepted to KU, his mom had cried and framed the acceptance letter and everything. So as much as he wanted to go with Sam, Bobby insisted he stay here, go to school, try to keep his life on track.
Dean kept their three-bedroom house instead of moving into a dorm. The University doesn’t usually allow that, but there were extenuating circumstances (“My parents are dead and I wanna stay home,” is quite the trump card). The insurance money was just enough to make sure the house was paid for, to put a little bit away for taxes on it every year, and that’s it. Dean works part-time at a coffee shop down the street from the school to try to make ends meet, and don’t think he doesn’t notice that Bobby somehow got a hold of his checking account number and makes regular deposits. He’d bitch about it more, but God, books are expensive, and so is eating.
Dean heaves a sigh and grabs his backpack from the passenger seat. As much as he wants to sit here and wallow in how alone he is, he needs to get inside. He has another class at eight tomorrow morning, and he’s so tired he probably shouldn’t have driven home. He had to work to convince his friend Charlie that he even could.
He trudges up the stairs, scrubbing a hand down his face hard. In a few weeks, he turns nineteen, his parents will have been dead for over a year, and he’s clinging to his sanity by his fucking toenails. Merry Christmas and happy birthday to him.
He opens the door and drops his bag in the entryway. He shuts the door behind him, flips the lock, and turns back into his empty house. He sighs again as he grabs his bag back up and heads toward the living room. Class in the morning or not, he’s got more studying to do because he’s got a full schedule and, apparently, he doesn’t need to sleep.
It takes him a few moments to realize that something’s even wrong.
When he does, he drops his bookbag in shock and just stares.
He’s staring because the most painfully attractive human being he’s ever seen is standing casually in his living room, looking carefully at the Twilight DVD, his head tilted as he examines it. His shoulders are broad and muscular under his white dress shirt, but the black waistcoat he’s wearing hugs him tightly, showing off a slim waist. His hair is dark and wild, probably a little too long, but dear God is Dean okay with that. He wants to fist his fingers in it while he writhes beneath this man.
A strong, stubbly jaw, high cheekbones, and a straight nose top everything off. Yeah, the most striking person Dean has ever seen in his life is just... Standing in his living room, like it’s normal, or even okay.
The man looks up at him, pinning him with blue eyes that make Dean worry about his ability to draw in oxygen.
The man gestures with the DVD in his hands. “This is offensive, you know. We do not sparkle.”
“It’s my mom’s,” Dean says faintly.
The man hmphs, and Dean comes to his senses. “Wait, what? Who are you? What are you doing here? What do you want?” Dean knows he’s talking too fast, and that he’s acting like a girl, but his brain is all scrambled by the really hot dude.
The man smirks and tilts his head, his eyes still boring holes into Dean. “Did you know that you have a piece of material in front of your door that says, ‘come on in?’” When Dean just stares incredulously, the man continues. “It’s dangerous. You never know what might get in with an open invitation like that.”
“What?” Ha. Dean can totally use words right now. Take that, really pretty dude.
“I think you should get rid of it,” the man insists.
“What the hell is happening here?” Dean asks.
The man sighs, as if put upon, which, rude. “I’m a vampire. Your… Open invitation material allowed me to enter your home. I think you should dispose of it.”
An insistent, almost gentle pain wraps around Dean’s heart. But it was my mom’s, he thinks. He doesn’t say it, because he’s not going to just share the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to him with the hottest thing that’s ever happened to him. That’s… That’s too many superlatives in one place, quite frankly.
Plus, he’s just discovered the dude is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, so that’s a no-go.
He scoffs. “A vampire?” The man nods. “A vampire?” Dean asks again. “You’re… You really want me to believe you’re some sort of ‘creature of the night?’”
“You may believe what you wish. It will not change what I am.”
“All right, dude, what did you take?” Now that he knows the dude is high out of his mind, he’s a little comforted. High people do weird shit all the time, this probably has very little to do with Dean personally.
The “vampire” is frowning. “I’ve taken nothing. It would be incredibly rude to take something without your permission after you invited me into your home. Although I did consider taking that dangerous piece of material.”
Dean laughs. “No, dude, I meant what are you on?” When the guy continues to look confused, “What drug did you ingest to make you think you’re a vampire? So I know how to take care of you?” One isn’t friends with Ash as long as Dean has been without knowing how to care for someone who’s taken a little “something-something.”
The man smiles, and Dean’s heart only skips, like, four beats. “You think I’m under the influence of hallucinogens.” He sounds amused.
Dean smiles back. “Don’t get me wrong, you have one hell of a grasp of the English language, but, I mean, yeah. You gotta be. You’re not a vampire, dude.”
The man looks even more amused. “And what, pray tell, can I do to prove to you that I am?”
Surprised, Dean’s eyebrows raise to his hairline. “Uh, nothing?”
“I could lift your car,” the man suggests nonchalantly. “Or you, I suppose, I am sure lifting you would suffice as proof. I cannot turn into a bat, unfortunately, but I do have fangs.” He sighs. “There are really fewer advantages than mainstream media would lead you to believe. If sparkling can even be seen as an advantage.” He glares at the DVD in distaste.
Dean shakes his head. “Dude, whatever. What’s your name?” He smirks. “Oh, sorry, unless that’s some sort of magical thing you can’t tell me.”
“My name is Castiel.” He tilts his head. “Why would it matter if you knew my name?”
“Because it’s… Nope, whatever. Look, Casteel, you’ve been great-”
“Cas-tee-elle,” he enunciates.
“Cas,” Dean says finally, starting to get a little irate. “Cas, look, it’s been great getting to know you, really, it has, but I need you to leave. I have shit to do.”
“Oh, no. I won’t be leaving.” Cas frowns. “Or, if I do, I’ll be back.”
“... To bite you?” The frown is still prominent. “You’re… Not a quick study, are you?”
Dean’s temper snaps. “All right, buddy, fuck you.” He makes his way around the couch, intent on his goal. “You can get the hell out now, and please remember to go fuck yourse-”
When he grabs the other man, several things register in Dean’s mind that cannot be explained.
The first is that Cas is cold beneath his dress shirt, so much so that Dean can feel the chill through the thin fabric. The second is that Cas’ arm doesn’t move at all where Dean is grabbing it. The skin doesn’t even compress beneath his fingers. It’s like gripping a statue.
The third is that Cas smells really, really good, and Dean is going to have a long, serious talk with himself later about what is and is not important when a crazy man has broken into your home and insulted you.
Dean yanks on Cas’ arm, and only succeeds in hurting himself a little. What?
“Are you quite done?” Cas sounds irritated, too. Which is hilarious, because the last time Dean checked, his house is the one that got broken into.
“Not until you leave, I’m not,” he grunts, shifting closer so he can try harder to push the man out the door.
Before he gets much further, however, he’s wrapped in arms made of cold steel and crushed to Cas’ chest. He feels the other man bury his nose in Dean’s neck and inhale.
He struggles to get away, although it’s almost laughably futile. “What the fuck, man?!” He does not squeak, thank you very goddamn much.
Cas’ head comes back up and he looks Dean in the eye. Dean realizes how close they are to one another, so close that he can count the little crinkles in Cas’ face as the man frowns at him.
“Why do you smell like that?” he asks.
Dean scoffs, bravado filling in where real fear has started to make him go numb. “Rude.”
“Why do you smell malnourished?”
“Hey, man, give me a break, I’m a college student.”
Cas tilts his head. “What does your level of education have to do with your scent?”
“Cas,” Dean says slowly. “Do you think you could, uh, put me down?”
Cas does so, but keeps an iron grip on Dean’s arm. Iron grip as in Dean thinks he might have a bruise there later. He suppresses a shiver at the thought.
“What is your name?” Cas demands.
“I… Wait, why did you break into my house if you don’t know my name?”
“I told you, your door-material invited me in.”
“Jesus fuck, it’s a welcome mat, dude. Have you seriously never heard of one?”
Castiel frowns. “Why… Why would you do that?”
“To… Welcome… People?” Where the hell did this guy come from?
Cas shakes his head. “That’s extremely dangerous. You’re lucky I’m the first one who’s seen it.”
“What? Why?” Dean shakes his head. “Wait, don’t answer that, because this is crazy. Just get out of my house, okay?”
Another head tilt. “Tell me why you smell malnourished. And tell me your name.”
A growl bursts from Cas’ chest, startling the ever-loving hell out of Dean. He tries to jerk away again, and gets about the same result. “Uh…”
“Tell. Me. Your. Name.”
Lucky (unlucky?) for Dean, his mouth moves faster than his brain. “Uh, yeah, no, I don’t tell crazy people who think they’re vampires my name.”
A dangerous glint enters those ridiculously blue eyes. “Would you still like me to prove it?”
Dean grins. Adrenaline is pumping through his veins, making him reckless. “Go for it, sweetheart.”
Cas yanks Dean toward himself again, and Dean barely has time to blink before Cas is sniffing insistently at his neck, rearing back a bit, then sinking his now weirdly long incisors into the vein there. There’s a flash of pain, but only for a moment, and then there’s just heat.
Dean gasps and grips Cas’ shirt, trying to ground himself and keep himself from getting a massive erection. Heat is spiralling from where Cas’ mouth is attached to him, drawing a hot line straight down to his dick, which is starting to ignore his direct order to stay soft. There’s a sort of gentle draining sensation, too, but he’s okay with it.
It lasts less than a minute before Cas is pulling away, and Dean’s too dizzy to even be weirded out when he feels the other man’s tongue on his neck, gently, almost reverently.
“Uh… Woah,” Dean says, and no, his voice is not all breathy like a girl’s.
“Do you believe me?” Cas sounds smug.
“I, uh… Yeah, prob’ly.”
Cas nuzzles his temple, and Dean finds himself leaning into it. “Will you tell me your name now?” he whispers, his voice raspy in Dean’s ear.
“What, you bite a guy and expect him to just put out?” It occurs to Dean that, to a vampire (which he is rapidly becoming a believer in), he’s probably done exactly that.
Cas’ chuckle makes him thinks he’s right. “You’re terribly shy about sharing your name.”
Dean leans back and hits the man holding him (and he’s gonna fix that soon, honest, he’s gonna) with a glare. “‘M not shy, Cas, ‘m cautious.”
“I’ve just partaken of your blood,” Cas says bluntly. “What else do you have to protect?”
Something about the question makes Dean’s chest tight, so he tries to ignore that and smirk. “My virtue?”
Cas just tilts his head and stares, and since Dean isn’t into the whole, “he can see into my soul” thing, he starts to wriggle. “Put me down.” He’s surprised when Cas does so immediately, and he stumbles a little. He gives the vampire (holy shit holy shit he’s a vampire) with another glare. “Thanks,” he says icily.
“Why are you malnourished?”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Like a dog with a bone, eh, Cas?”
He gets another frown for his efforts. “I am not a canine, nor do I have a bone.”
“It’s a phrase, dummy.”
Cas seems to consider arguing his point again, but then goes back to his original question. “Please tell me your name?”
“Why do you want to know?”
That seems to finally trip him up a little bit. “I… Would just like to know. Very much.”
His blue eyes soften. “Because I have a suspicion that you do not have anyone to… Look after you. It worries me.”
Dean frowns. “Why?” This time it’s not to be an asshole, it’s a sincere question.
“I do not have a good answer for you, I’m sorry.” Cas really does seem to be contrite.
The thing is, Dean doesn’t have anyone to look after him. Bobby does his best, but he’s in Sioux Falls and Dean’s in Kansas. Not to mention the moody, heartbroken teenager that Bobby’s inherited. There’s no reason Bobby should have time to check in on Dean more frequently than a couple of times a week, and Dean would prefer the older man look after Sam instead.
Sam, though Dean loves him to the ends of the earth and back, feels abandoned by his big brother. Their conversations are stilted and strange now, and Dean feels like he can feel the cold bitterness coming through the phone. He doesn’t know how to say to Sam that going to college is the last thing Dean can do to make their parents proud. He doesn’t know how to say that he’s just as lost as Sam is without them. He doesn’t know how to say that he doesn’t have a playbook for this, there’s no walkthrough for losing your entire family in the space of a few weeks and living in the ghost of the home that you lived in with them.
Charlie, Ash, and Benny try as hard as they can, but they all have lives of their own. It’s been almost a year, anyway, and Dean should be over it. He should be able to put his big boy pants on and fucking deal with it already.
So… Yeah. Cas is right, no one’s looking out for Dean but Dean.
“Dean,” he says softly. “My name is Dean.”
“Dean,” Cas repeats, low and respectful, like he’s savoring it. “A fitting name.”
Dean feels his face heat up, and he just knows the tops of his ears are turning red. “Yeah, yeah, whatever. Are you gonna leave now?”
Cas seems to consider for a moment, and Dean genuinely doesn’t know what he wants the answer to be.
“For now,” Cas says finally. “But I will be back, Dean.” With that, he turns and walks back down the hall. Dean is left staring at the place where Cas was, listening as the door is opened and shut.
Dean doesn’t get much studying done that night.
The next morning, Dean leaves the house to find that the welcome mat his mom put out is gone.