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We Found Love in a Leather Tri-fold

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"Son of a bitch!" Dean yells as he slams his hands down into the Impala's steering wheel. He takes a ragged, deep breath, trying to soothe the knot of anxiety and unreasonable rage sitting balled up underneath his ribs, right above his pounding heart. He rubs his hand over the Impala's dash, murmuring to her like she's a person, something his little brother Sam never fails to make fun of him for. "I'm sorry, Baby. That was stupid; I didn't mean it."

He scrubs his calloused palms over his stubbled face in an ineffective effort to ground himself. He takes another deep breath, this one a little more helpful than the last. Crap, he's so screwed. Of everything he could've lost, he had to lose his friggin' wallet? Obviously, it had to be his wallet. Out of everything he carries with him that's the one thing Dean actually needs.

"Shit, what the hell am I supposed to do now?" He mutters aloud. He'd only had a few measly dollars in there but in addition to that the- Shit. The fake credit cards. He is so screwed. And the icing on top of the cake, he, of course, had to lose it the one day that he has literally been all over the city. There is no way in hell he'd be able to track it down. Knowing Dean's luck, that shady guy with the vomit stains and the greasy hair that had been hanging outside the gas station had probably taken it. Now Dean has to cancel cards and try to remember what all he carried in there. He is really pissed about the pictures though. Those are irreplaceable. Pictures of Sammy, and Bobby, and Jo, and Ellen and Ash. He needs those pictures. There aren't exactly copies. And now they're gone. Figures. A crappy, miserable ending to a crappy, miserable day. Dean starts the Impala up with a heavy sigh leaving his lips and murmurs more apologies to Baby as he pulls out of the parking lot and into traffic. It takes him forty-five minutes to get home, of course. Which is thirty more minutes than it should've but today just isn't his day.

He finally manages to get his key turned just right, and he can let himself into his crappy apartment. He slams the door closed behind him like that'll help at all. He stomps across the living room and literally just throws himself face-down onto the couch, which inexplicably smells like Cheetos. Thanks for that, Sammy. Sam's staying at Bobby's right now. Dean refuses to think it's because he can't provide for Sam, but he knows it's true. It's easier to think that his little brother just really likes visiting with their faux-uncle Bobby. Which, while true, Dean knows he'd rather if they were together. They've never spent so much time apart, not even when he was with Lisa. Sam always came with him. He's been raising him since Mom died, basically, and he's never been apart from him for so long. The absence of his dorky little brother literally sends an ache spiraling through his chest and he can literally not adult anymore today. He's done with it.

After some long, troubled thoughts Dean falls into an uncomfortable, but deep sleep, case-in-point, example one, of his exhaustion with adulting.


::::::::::::


Dean wakes with a groan and peels his face off the couch which has apparently tried to absorb him. He sits up and winces at the ache in his lower back and the crick in his neck from sleeping with his face shoved into the couch. He can also feel where he has the square-dented imprint of the sofa's material on half his face because it's rough and he's an idiot for sleeping on the couch when he has a perfectly good bed in his room. Well, maybe not a perfectly good bed, but it's alright. Okay, he totally curb-surfed it, but it didn't have bugs or weird stains, and it was relatively un-lumpy, all of which were good points in his book.

He stands up and stretches with his arms outstretched towards the stained ceiling with a wince at the twinge in his lower back. Crap, he needs some aspirin. He shuffles to the bathroom to take a piss and get the mostly empty bottle of painkillers out of the cabinet. He shakes two out in his hand and takes them dry, barely even registering the bitter taste. When did life get like this? He has a shitty, run-down apartment that he's barely affording, working two dead-end jobs and barely making ends meet, not even making enough to keep his ten-year-old brother fed. He's taking more aspirin than he can count; his liver is going to shut down soon if he keeps this up. When had he even bought this bottle? Last week? The week before last? Something like that, Dean can't remember. It doesn't matter anyway. Shit. He has to call and cancel his cards today. He needs to do that soon before he forgets. But first, food.

::::::::::::

He bends a little at the waist and squints at the fridge, hoping something delicious will magically appear. Sadly, the food fairy doesn't do him any favors and nothing appears. Imagine that. All that's in there is a quarter gallon of milk, a lonely piece of bologna in the package, a half-empty jar of pickles, a few condiment bottles, a small container of fake butter, and some fake cheese (the kind that is slimy and plastic and that a nuclear disaster wouldn't harm) and some random take-out boxes from the Chinese place down the street. Their egg rolls are good, but not a week after the fact. He winces at the smell coming from the box and tosses it in the trash, which he needs to take out to the dumpster when he leaves. Mental note? Check. He turns his attention back to the refrigerator and gives a heavy sigh. This is just sad. Soon he'd be drinking pickle juice and eating cardboard just to keep from starving to death. Nah, he thinks.

"Times is hard, but they ain't that hard." He mutters to himself as he opens the cabinet. He smiles when he finds a box of Lucky Charms in there. Awesome. He loves these. Sammy does too, luckily. It's about the only food they actually agree on. Dean pulls out a plastic Tupperware bowl from the cabinet and pours all the remaining Lucky Charms into the bowl (which isn't a lot.)

Thinking about it for a minute, he decides to get the box of Cheerios he has and pour the rest of them in too. Now he has a mostly full bowl of cereal and at least he won't be hungry for a while today. The milk is literally about to go bad so he pours as much of it as he can get away with into the cereal and uses the rest of it in his coffee, which he is now also out of. He wishes he had some sugar to make the coffee less bitter, but no such luck. When was the last time he even went grocery shopping? When was the last time he even had money to go grocery shopping? Dean thinks about it as he chews, trying to remember. He honestly has no idea. He has been running himself ragged between the garage where he works as a mechanic and the gas station where he's an attendant. Add the fact that he's barely sleeping to that and what you get it a good case of C.R.S.S. Can't Remember Shit Syndrome. He's considering trying to find another job just so he can keep them afloat. There's a bar down the street looking for a bartender and granted, Dean's never made drinks he's certainly had enough experience sitting on the other side of the counter to know what he's doing. He's been an absolute mess for the last few weeks. Hell, the last few months. Sammy has been staying with Bobby for three weeks now, which makes Dean feel awful. He has got to get this straightened out. He cannot lose Sammy. Dean finishes his cereal and his nasty coffee and deposits the dishes in the sink, which has a lot of dirty dishes in it that he needs to wash. Another mental note added to the list: He'd do that when he got back. Probably. Actually, probably not.

He is probably going to sleep, honestly. If he can manage it. He pulls the trash bag off the can and ties it. He goes to get another bag and realizes that it's just an empty box sitting on the fridge instead of a box filled with trash bags. Another mental note: Get trash bags.

"Of course."

Is anything going to go right today? Probably not. Dean goes to the bathroom and runs a rag under some cold water, wetting it thoroughly before wiping his face off, hoping to wake himself up a little. Jesus, he needs to shave. He doesn't have the time right now. Nobody at the garage cares what the grunt under the car looks like anyway. He looks like grizzled shit right now, he thinks as he looks in the mirror. He runs his hand through his hair in an attempt to style it and is mildly successful so he counts it as a win for today. Probably his only one, but take it where you can get it, right? He quickly hustles from the bathroom and picks up his keys off the floor by the couch and the bag of garbage sitting by the counter before walking out of his apartment, locking it behind him. What good that'll do, he'll never know. There's literally nothing of value in there. He's two floors down when he realizes that he didn't even change his clothes. Oh well. At least he put deodorant and cologne on. He's almost out of deodorant. Another mental note to the ever-growing list of shit he needs. Fuck, he needs to get paid soon.

He throws the bag of garbage into the graffitied dumpster, where it promptly bursts on impact. Well, awesome. At least it had the basic decency to wait and pop a vein until it was in the dumpster. It would've been a disaster if it had happened on the stairs or something. He would've had to ask his agoraphobic neighbor Chuck for a garbage bag if he was even awake and not passed out or something. That man drank more than Dean did, which was kind of bad considering his habits. Well, old habits now, he guesses. He doesn't have the money for food, let alone booze. There are more important things. Like getting stable enough to get his little brother back. The old shame and insecurities seep through his walls at the thought and he hastily wipes his hands on his jeans as he walks back into the lobby, heading for the wall where all the mailboxes are situated.

The little key on his key ring for the mailbox is a bitch to get to work right and he has to jiggle it in the lock for the stupid door to open but it finally complies with his demands. He pulls the dented metal door open expecting the usual milieu of bills and advertisements but finds a very familiar square of faded brown leather.

"What the hell?" Dean says aloud, completely confused. His wallet is sitting in his mailbox. How in the hell did that get there? He knows he didn't put it there. He suddenly glances around the empty lobby suspiciously, half of his mind wondering if this isn't some sort of weird prank or something. Nobody's in here but him, not that he can tell anyway. There are not many places to hide in the grubby little room, but you never know. Half-afraid that something is going to leap out and bite him, or explode maybe, he reaches inside the box slowly and draws his wallet out. Gingerly. 

Nothing happens, of course, but you can't be too careful. Dean holds the wallet in his hand for a minute, knowing without a doubt that it's his. It's the same old worn leather and well-creased tri-fold that he's carried for almost a decade. Bobby had actually bought it for him, years ago. Before things had gone bad. He stops that train of thought in an instant, refusing to give it another second's worth of attention. He unfolds the flaps and peers inside. Much to his amazement, everything seems to be there. He does a quick check and yep, everything's still there. All of his cards, all his pictures of the adopted family he's slowly gathered over the years, everything. And there are some additions. Where before he'd only had a few crumpled ones in the money sheath, there's now a rather large collection of bills. And sticking out from behind his driver's license is a piece of paper he immediately knows doesn't belong to him.

He pulls it out and opens it with shaking hands. There's a neat, looping cursive scrawl across the small square of paper, which is thick and looks expensive. That's the only word for it. 


Hello, Dean.

I found your wallet yesterday lying on the sidewalk; I apologize for trodding on it. I assume you didn't mean to leave it there? I do hope you haven't canceled your illegitimate credit cards yet, as that would be unfortunate. I also hope you'll note that nothing is missing. I didn't take anything. Actually, there's been something added. I hope you don't take offense to the gesture. I couldn't help but notice that you could use it, and I can spare it, believe me. I hope it helps and provides you with a small amount of comfort. 

                                                                                                                                                                            ~C


P.S. The child in the photos is rather adorable.



Dean is flabbergasted, to say the least. What the hell? What kind of person, a stranger, returns a wallet with Jesus fuck, an extra five hundred dollars in it? What gives? Dean never gets this lucky. This is like dingo-ate-my-baby crazy and Dean doesn't have the first clue as to how to wrap his head around this. Maybe the person is just really nice, or maybe they liked the way he looked in his driver's license pic, which is hot in his opinion. Dean stands there for a minute, dumbly holding his wallet in his hand and staring at the piece of paper like it holds all the secrets of the universe. Someone actually helped him. And they didn't expect anything back, hadn't asked for anything, or mentioned it was a bother to return it. If anything there's a dry, witty humor running through the note. They wished him comfort. Dean doesn't know how to deal with that. His family is more than willing to help but he'd never ask Ash or Charlie for anything like this. They don't even know how bad it really is. And Bobby's literally taken Sam in and given him a roof over his head while Dean's struggling to keep his head above water. A soft voice by his side interrupts his thoughts.

"H-hey. You alright, Dean?" It's Chuck. Just checking his mail in his trusty frayed bathrobe and tattered slippers. No need to jump out of your skin, idiot, he reminds himself. Dean flashes him a smile he doesn't really feel, "Yeah, man. Fine. Just got to thinking there for a minute. How you doing?"

Deflection, one of Dean's better skills. Chuck averts his eyes and gets a large stack of mail out of the box. A very large stack. Doesn't look like he's checked that in a while. "I-I'm fine. Making progress, actually."

Dean flashes a genuine smile now.

"That's awesome, man. Congrats." Chuck is a writer and Dean knows he struggles with it. No matter what time Dean comes home it's guaranteed that light's shining from under Chuck's door as he works into the night trying to create something. Dean's pretty sure the guy never sleeps. They're not friends or anything, but he's glad to see he's doing better. "Thank you. I'm going to go home now and see if I can't create some more."


"Good luck," He calls after him as Chuck hurries away. Weird little guy, he thinks with a shake of his head. That's alright though. Dean isn't exactly what anyone would consider normal. And, if he was wagering a guess, neither was the dude that had forked over five hundred dollars in cash to a perfect stranger.


~


It wasn't until he was clocking in for his shift at the garage did the thought occur to him: How had the stranger gotten his wallet into his mailbox?



~Castiel~



Castiel leans back into the soft leather couch cushions, finally relaxing. It has been a very long day, and he is thankful for the quiet solitude of his guarded apartment. With a small smile, he thinks of the wallet he had found the day before. It had been so well worn, and the threading along the edges had been ragged, but it was obviously well-loved and well-traveled. It had a warm, lived-in feel to it. The photos of the boy, later found to be Dean's younger brother Sam, had been precious. He seems to be a rather precocious child, and the siblings were obviously close. He pulls himself from his musings with an effort and opens the email on his phone that Balthazar had sent him and starts reading through it.

REPORT:

  • Dean Winchester, age 24
  • Born January 24, 1992
  • Excellent G.E.D. scores (more information available), high school drop-out
  • Gas station attendant at Gas 'N Sip on Laurel Str.
  • Mechanic at Turner's Garage on Prairie Rd.
  • Previous relationship with Lisa Braeden (More information available)
  • Lives alone, currently
  • Single
  • Searching for a third job
  • Lives at 153 Stark Str. #27
  • One younger sibling, has full custody, i.e., Samuel Winchester, called Sam, age 10
  • Samuel staying with a family friend named Robert Singer (more information available)
  • Two months behind on rent payment (more information available)
  • Parents are deceased.

 

Castiel continues reading, interested in finding out who the man is that interests him so. He knows it's creepy by most people's standards, but it's mere curiosity. Castiel has no plans to harm Dean with the information. His father died some years ago when Sam was only five, and his mother had passed when Sam was about six months old. His school records are scattered, and his addresses for most of his formative years are largely unknown. Dean's barely managing to keep afloat, despite working two jobs in order to support himself and his brother. That is why Castiel gifted him the money. That had been on a whim. Castiel scrolls through the rest of the report, reading intently. He's intrigued by this man. Dean Winchester seems like a very strong, hardworking, but vulnerable man. He's unlike anyone that Castiel knows. Most of his acquaintances are either criminals without a thought for anyone or people in the business that are hardened against the world.

Yesterday Dean had provided a much-needed distraction from the stress of the trial that's been plaguing his family with angst and unwanted hope for a good outcome. Finding Dean's wallet on the sidewalk had merely been an accident, but Castiel doesn't believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. This Dean Winchester seems interesting. Castiel wouldn't compromise Dean's safety by trying to contact him in person, but he still finds himself rereading the report Balthazar sent multiple times. He decides to delve deeper into Dean's finances. Perhaps Castiel could be of more use, and Dean would be a nice project. He could use a distraction, and maybe he'd be doing some good in the world. This would be interesting.



~Dean~



His wallet burns a hole in the back of his jeans all day long. He's hyper-aware of its existence. It feels really weird to actually spend money that he hasn't earned but he needs to. He hits the grocery store first and buys some much-needed supplies, enough so that he won't starve in the next couple weeks. He grabs deodorant and trash bags on his way to the register. He pays the pimply teenager who looks incredibly bored and loads his stuff into the trunk on autopilot. His thoughts are consumed with this mysterious stranger who was somehow kind enough to return his wallet. The fact that it had been in his mailbox still confuses the hell out of him.

How could someone have gotten that in there? And he knows his address was on his driver's license, but still, what if he had moved or something? The person who had written him the note hadn't even written for that contingency. No "Just in case this isn't you's," or anything. Were they a man or a woman? Dean was very curious about C.

He was thinking the note sounded like it was from a guy, but he could be wrong. The joke about the 300-pound disc jockey with the whipcord thin voice is playing through his mind as he unlocks the apartment. He puts his groceries away with a happy heart, humming a Zeppelin tune as he goes. How long has it been since he's hummed? He feels weird spending another person's money but he does really need it right now. He hates that he can say that but it doesn't change the accuracy of the fact. Using his newly bought groceries he makes himself a killer sandwich and devours it standing over the kitchen sink so he doesn't have any more dishes to do. The sink is still full and he was right, he doesn't feel like doing them. He turns off the lights and crashes onto his mostly un-lumpy, bugless, mostly unstained, curb-surfed mattress and falls asleep. And for once, it 's nightmareless and restful. In the morning he would question that aggressively before deciding it was just relief at having some of the financial weight taken off of him.

Also that morning, he nearly breaks his neck tripping over a box sitting outside his door.

"What the hell?" He mumbles to himself before picking up the box and bringing it inside. He sits it on the coffee table, only taking a short glance at it before rushing off to work, praying he makes it on time. He can't afford to be late.


~


He shuts the door with a weary sigh and flops down on the couch. Without Sammy here it's really quiet and really weird. He has nobody to talk to, nobody to cook dinner for or ask how school went. It's just him and the low rumble of traffic and people yelling outside. It's not exactly a nice neighborhood. The long white box sitting on the table that he nearly killed himself on this morning catches his eye and he leans forward to inspect it. It's about two feet long, and a foot thick.

It's not heavy, but it's definitely got something substantial in it. The only return address is a post office a couple blocks from his apartment. It's addressed to him specifically though, so he knows it's not a mistake. With a shake of his head, he brings his pocket knife out of his back pocket to cut the tape holding it shut. With the flaps cut loose, he's able to open the box and he's confused by the contents. There's a piece of cream-colored paper sitting on the pile and he grabs it. It feels familiar... It's the same paper the person who gave his wallet back used. It's thick, and smells like... leather... and bourbon? Okay then. He unfolds the paper to read it.


Dean, if your family is anything like mine, then small children grow quickly, and are in constant need of clothes. Perhaps this could benefit you? I hope so. With warm regards,                                 ~C.


Wow... This dude, well he assumes it's a dude but he could be way off base, just gave him a whole box of clothes for Sammy. Fucking awesome.

"Thanks, stranger." He mumbles. Then an idea strikes him. He can tell the stranger thank you. The post office should be able to give it to whoever sent it. So he sits down and writes the note and decides to walk to the post office tonight just to get it over with. He can't wait to call Sammy and tell him about the new clothes he has.