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Letters to A Lonely Soldier

Chapter Text

Intro

            Castiel stepped out the doctor’s office of the university with a frown on his face. This was his eighth physical since the war started and they all came up the same way. No matter how many time he got checked out it was the same information: asthma and bad eyesight, ineligible for active duty. He had been trying to enlist in the United States Army ever since the war broke out, but nobody would take him because his lungs ‘just won’t take it’ as the doctors like to say. He sighed again and pushed the door to the outside open. It was August 1st, 1942, war had been declared on Japan seven months and twenty-four days ago and Castiel had tried to enlist at least once a month.

            Most people may think he is crazy, but all Castiel wanted was to be a soldier. Castiel’s father was a general in The Great War and he had died fighting, Castiel just wanted to honor his father and fight for his country, but nobody would take him because of his minor, at least to him, health issues. Each time he tried to enlist they shut him down because he was too unhealthy and they didn’t need to just send him over there to die. He wasn’t able bodied enough.

            With another huff Castiel made his way to the small café on campus where his best friend, Meg, worked as a waitress. The walk there was calm, the sidewalk beneath his feet damp with freshly fallen leaves and the air smelled of autumn. Despite his mood these things made him give a small smile, he loved autumn. The bushes beside him had flowers missing their petals and the tree limbs above him, leaves of yellow and orange. He was ready for classes to get out already and for the winter break to begin. He smiled and took out a doctor prescribed aminophylline tablet popping it in his mouth and washing it down with a swig from his father’s old army canteen. Aminophylline was used to treat asthma, but it only worked for a very short amount of time.

            Coming to a stop in front of the glass door of the café, he gripped the long brass bar that served as a handle and pulled open the door to make his way inside. The café was a small quiet place used mostly by students to study. Bookshelves full of reference books and textbooks lined the walls and small booths of red pleather were pushed between the gaps to serve as a place for people to sit and drink their coffee or read. Castiel smiled and made his way to the counter where he sat down in a stool. He nodded at the boy next to him and sent a wave to get Meg’s attention.

            Meg came flouncing up in her tan uniform with a large smile on her face. The uniform was a basic uniform you might see a waitress wear in a diner, the skirt going past her knee, buttons up the front, and a white lined collar sitting on her clavicle. Meg had her brown hair in a ponytail and it flipped as she leaned forward on the counter in front of him, some of the strands catching on the pencil tucked behind her ear.

            “How can I help you, Sweetheart?” Meg questioned with a smirk and the boy next to Castiel raised a brow.

            “Oh, I’d love a cup of hot coffee, Darling.” He joked back and the boy got up, moving to one of the booths because he didn’t need his reading interrupted by the conversation. Meg and Castiel giggled at the boy, but didn’t let him take more than a moment of their focus.

            “So, should I be calling you soldier now?” Meg asked even though she already knew the answer.

            “No. They rejected me.” He said grumpily, “Again.”

            “Cas, one of these days you gotta stop trying.” She smiled sadly.

            “I want to contribute somehow. I can’t work on a farm because of the asthma and I can’t fight because of the asthma, what else am I supposed to do?” he said solemnly.

            “How about you do that thing they were talking about earlier in class, the letter thing.”

            “What write a letter to a lonely soldier? Sure, ‘cause that’s what a soldier wants. A letter from a guy.”

            “I’m sure they would appreciate it no matter what. Sometimes all people need is someone to talk to.” She said pointedly, “I mean it’s worth a try. Worst case scenario the guy doesn’t write back.”

            “I’ll think about it.” He grumbled not liking the idea, but it was better than nothing. Meg smiled and walked over to the coffee maker. She grabbed a light blue cup off the rack and poured some coffee into it setting it in front of Castiel. He nodded his thanks and grabbed a sugar packet shaking it out and pouring it into his coffee and following it with a little cream. He stirred the cup and took a sip. He had an affinity for sweet tasting coffee and he couldn’t help but smile as the warm liquid washed over his tongue. “Thanks, Meg.” He said and took his cup over to an empty booth sitting down.

Castiel pulled a book off the shelf and read the title, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. The novel had been translated into English from German and that peaked his curiosity so he opened the novel and began to read.

 

By the time Castiel had finished the novel Meg was flipping the closed sign and grabbing her coat and purse from the backroom. He had read the entire novel in the span of two hours and he was mind blown by the metaphors and ideas of the novel, who knew a German could open his mind like that, especially at times like these.

He smiled up at Meg as she walked from the backroom, “Ready to go?” he asked even though he knew she was.

“Yes.” She smiled and they headed out the door.

Meg turned and locked the door behind them before continuing on. This was their routine by this point. Castiel would wait for her shift to end and walk her home every night to make sure that she got home without any trouble, then he would walk back to his home alone. Meg always told him that he didn’t have to, but he insisted claiming that no lady should ever walk home alone. Each time he said that Meg would laugh and tell him it wasn’t like there would be much he could do if they got jumped for he was skinnier than her and each time he would chuckle at her joking insult.

As they walked home they talked about classes and the café and even about the book Castiel was so engrossed in while waiting for her. He told her of Gregor, the giant cockroach, and of the themes of the absurdity of life and the limits of sympathy. He also spoke about how he was surprised a German could write such an enthralling novel. “The fucking Jerry was intelligent.” He said using the racist term for the Germans. Meg laughed and nodded listening with slight interest.

When they finally arrived to her doorstep Castiel turned and gave her a hug wishing her a good night and she did the same to him before walking up the steps and into the girls’ dormitory. He smiled and waved as she shut the door and waited for the light to turn on in her room to make sure she got up okay. Once he saw the light, he turned and began to walk back down the road and towards the boys’ dormitory. There was a light breeze that night and the sky was clear. Twinkling stars shined down from the heavens and he found himself staring at the sky as he walked. He wondered to himself on what it would be like to stare at the stars from the base in England while fighting for his country. He pushed the thought from his mind, today was his last attempt and now he knew they were definitely not going to let him enlist. The doctor actually told him not to come back again unless he was sick. He sighed and looked down kicking a pebble into the grass.

The walk to his apartment was quite short and he soon found himself walking into the covered area and through the door. He walked up the stairs instead of taking the rickety lift that he hated with a passion and to his door pulling out his keys. Gripping the small silver handle with one hand and unlocking it with the other he pushed open the door and walked into his small room.

Castiel’s room was small, about two arms lengths wide and four arms lengths long. He had a shelf full of records in the left corner and his bed up against the right wall. His record player sat on the desk that was pushed up against the left wall. His textbooks sat in a neat stack next to the desk with his novels in a stack next to them. The walls were a creamy color with a copy of his favorite records in their sleeves tacked up on the wall for decoration and the floor was oak wood which was very cold in the morning but warmed up with the sunlight that would shine through the window in the front wall during the day.

He sighed again and tossed his satchel next to the stacks of books throwing himself down on the soft sheets of his bed. He stared at the ceiling and thought about what Meg had suggested at the café earlier. Writing a letter to a lonely soldier wouldn’t be terrible. Yes, the man may be surprised to get a letter from a guy, but he could at least provide the soldier with a little bit of friendship and support while he is off fighting for his country. He stayed laying but stripped down to his undergarments and slid the covers over him. He could do it. He could write a letter, it wouldn’t kill him, and like Meg said: worst case scenario the guy doesn’t write back. With that Castiel drifted off to sleep.

 

Castiel was awoken by light shining through the window and right into his eyes. He groaned and rolled over looking at the clock on his wall, 9:15 the hands pointed and he groaned again rolling out of bed. He walked to his closet and pulled out a button up shirt and a pair of trousers. Satisfied with his clothing and dressed, he grabbed his satchel and walked out of his dorm to the front steps meeting Meg there.

“Good morning, Sweetheart.” She smiled.

“Good morning, Darling.” He smirked and offered the crook of his arm to her. She placed her arm in his and they walked like that in silence to their first class of the day, English. The sky was clear and the birds swooped low performing their morning duties of collecting food for their young. Castiel smiled as a bird pecked at a worm about six feet from him. It was a red breasted Robin and it was as beautiful as the day. The path to class was mostly clear besides a few loose branches that had fallen out of the trees with the few large gusts of wind that would happen every few minutes or so. Castiel’s shirt puffed up with the cool spring air and Meg’s dress swayed around her legs.

People glanced at them, but the whispering about whether or not they were a couple had stopped months ago when Meg had told people to ‘shut the hell up and mind their own business’ which to them translated as ‘yes’ but that didn’t matter. Castiel and Meg didn’t care what people thought about them as long as they didn’t find out the truth.

Once arriving at the English building Castiel held the door open for Meg as she walked through. She smiled and thanked him as he followed behind her into the musty hallway and down the hall into the classroom. The class was still empty aside from them and their professor due to it being twenty minutes before class. Castiel, however, was glad for this because he walked up to the English teacher while Meg took their usual seats in the middle row and smiled.

“Hello, Castiel.” Professor Shurley greeted with a small smile.

“Hello, Professor Shurley.” Castiel replied politely.

“Call me Chuck.”

“Um… Okay. Chuck… I was wondering… um… could you give me a soldier?” Castiel asked nervously anticipating a ‘no’, “A soldier to write to I mean. In the war.” He finished, clarifying.

Chuck let out a chuckle and nodded, “Sure, I actually have a few here, hold on.” The professor riffled through the papers on his podium and came up with a pink slip. Tearing one off he handed it to Castiel, “Here ya go. Winchester, sounds like a name fit for fighting a war aye?” He asked with a slight chuckle.

“Yes, thank you.” Castiel said happily before walking to his seat next to Meg.

She gave him a small smirk after hearing his conversation. “You’re going with my idea I see.” She teased.

“Yes, it was a good idea.” He said in a ‘duh’ sort of voice as the rest of the class arrived and class began.

Winchester, Castiel thought to himself as he hardly paid attention to Professor Chuck’s lesson, it is a name fitting for a soldier. I wonder what I should write.

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

            The letter arrived the day after Dean and he was surprised to find it sitting on his pillow in the barracks when he came back from afternoon drill. It was a small white envelope with a neat little scrawl of his name in the middle and the return address of one Castiel Novak in Lawrence, Kansas. Dean was from Lawrence as well but oddly he didn’t recognize the name. Dean had been in Glasgow, Scotland for all of twenty-four hours to find the letter there and he wondered if it was sent about the same time he had shipped out or perhaps earlier. Either way he didn’t care as he sat down on the cot and took the letter off the pillow. He ripped open the envelope and began to read. Dean chuckled at the obvious annoyance in the first few words:

 

August 7th, 1942

Dear Winchester,

          That’s all they gave me, your last name, I think that’s kind of stupid. Anyway, I bet you were hoping for a letter from a cute girl telling you how brave you are for going over there and fighting for all of us back home, but tough luck bud, you got me. My name is Castiel. I’m from Lawrence, Kansas. I’m a college student here, studying to become a writer. I like novels, do you? I just read a great one called The Metamorphosis. It was really interesting, even if it is written by a Jerry. Anyway, yeah I want to be a novelist.

 

Dean could already tell that this guy was probably incredibly smart and he was definitely funny.

 

I think it would be swell if I could write a bunch of novels and sell them, not that that really matters right now. In all honesty, I want to say thanks for going over there and I wish I could be there to. I tried to enlist, eight times I tried, but they wouldn’t let me. See I got this asthma issue… I have trouble breathing sometimes and I got bad eyesight so they said I couldn’t go. Told me they weren’t just gonna send me there to die, so here I am and there you are. I probably sound like a jealous little kid, but I wanted to go, I really did. My father died in the Great War and I wanted to honor him by fighting in the war, ya know? I guess I’m lucky though. Anyway, I understand if you don’t write me back. Expecting a pretty girl and all that, but I hope that maybe you will and we become friends. Thanks again pal, for fighting for our country.

                   Too Ill to Fight,

                             Cas

 

Dean let out another laugh at the way the letter was signed. This kid really did want to come over here, but he’s right; He’s lucky. People have been dying in this war for two years now, there is a small chance anybody is making it back. He sighed and tried not to think of his little brother, Sam, who was drafted into a platoon on the Pacific side of the war, the side with the Japs. He sighed again and folded the letter tucking it under his pillow for later.

Standing he walked back out of the barracks and into the chilly night air of Glasgow. The wind nipped at his nose and cheeks, but he brushed it off as he walked down to the showers. This was the training camp, they wouldn’t be moving out until a couple of days from now when they’ll make their way onto English soil. Dean shuttered at the thought of the war ahead, but brushed it off as he walked into the showers.

Stripping from his clothes he stepped under the running shower. The water was cold and pelted his back like daggers of ice, but there was nothing he could do about it. There was a war on and the cold water was the least of his worries. He quickly lathered himself in soap and washed his hair all the while muttering about the cold water. Once he was done, he slid back into his army issued trousers, combat boots, t-shirt, and those ever present dog tags that were proof of his living and breathing or his dead cold body.

After his shower, he headed to the cafeteria where he found a few of his comrades sitting and eating the gross rationed mush that they were served. Walking pass them he grabbed a tray and looked at the scraggly guy behind the counter, “What’d we got today?” He asked jokingly.

“Cabbage mush.” The man behind the counter said with complete seriousness and poured a ladle full of the greenish white substance into a portion of Dean’s tray.

Dean made a face but nonetheless moved along to the bread counter where he grabbed the one roll he was allowed. He turned to look back at the cafeteria. The cafeteria looked like a school gymnasium except with cement floors and no echo. Big red cedar tables were set in rows up and down the length of the cafeteria and Dean made his way through them and back to his Comrades taking a seat next to Ash.

“Hello Dean, saw you got a letter.” Gabriel teased from across the table.

“I did.” He said.

“Somebody must really be missin’ ya at home.” This time it was Ash who spoke.

“Yeah, she cute?” Michael chimed in.

“Yeah.” Dean smirked at his inside joke, “I think she is.”

“Think?” Gabriel raised a brow.

“Yeah. Think.” Dean said shoving half the roll into his mouth to avoid having to talk anymore and just like that the subject was dropped. They sat there shooting jokes at each other while Dean stayed silent thinking about the letter from the boy. He was right. The boy is lucky. He is lucky he doesn’t have to be here. He doesn’t have to eat this mush or the stale roll, but as he thinks about it, Cas would have liked it just because he was in the war. Dean guesses people are just like that. Some wish to be involved and can’t, others wish they didn’t have to be and could just be home fixing cars in their garage with their little brother.

Dean sighed for the fifth time that night and took his tray to the slop bucket pushing the mush into it and placing his tray on the stack of dirty ones right as the whistle blew throughout the compound. In a matter of minutes all the men are on their feet, trays abandoned and standing side by side outside with their legs shoulder width apart and their hands behind their back.

“Drill time again Boys!” Sargent Crowley yelled. Commander Singer stood beside him looking over the men’s stances in inspection.

Dean stood on the furthest end of the line on the right side in the same position as everyone else. He waited for their command on baited breath hoping it wasn’t too bad because it was almost 8pm and he knew they were going to have to wake up at the crack of dawn for drill once again.

“Fifty push-ups and six laps around the cafeteria then you girls can go to bed!” Crowley screamed and Dean and the rest of the guys dropped to their hands and toes. “Down… Up… Down… Up…” Crowley called as they all went down and up on command.

Once all fifty were done the men stood back up and Dean took the lead at a medium jog around the cafeteria. The aching in his side becoming present as he jogged around the large cement building. When he reached the fifth lap he broke out into a sprint and the rest of the men did the same to keep up and not fall behind. After those last to rounds they all split off jogging in the directions of their barracks.

Ash jokingly shoved Dean as they walked into the barrack and they laughed together before they all went to their respective bunks and began to change into their second issued trousers and t-shirts, because if they were attacked in the middle of the night they needed to get out fast. When they all finished getting dressed everyone got ready for wined down time. Michael and Gabriel played card games, Ash read dirty magazines and a few of the others wrote letters to their families and girlfriends. Dean looked around the room and pulled out a sheet of paper and a pencil, might as well reply.

 

Dear Cas,

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Castiel wondered into the Café after his last class of the day and sat down resting his head on the counter with a defeated sigh. He still has had no reply from the soldier and, although he doesn’t know the guy, he felt upset about it. He tried to do his part in helping and he couldn’t even do that. He sighed again as a the same blue cup was set in front of him on the wooden counter, but instead of Meg’s hand being the hand to set it down it was her co-worker Charlie’s.

Charlie was wearing an identical uniform to Megs and her bright fiery red hair was cut short just above her shoulder so she didn’t have to put it up. Her green eyes shown with a teasing glint. Charlie was always happy. Even in the worst of times. “Hiya, Cassie.” The girl said using the stupid nickname that she always called him, “You here for your girlfriend?”

“Charlie, you know she isn’t my girlfriend.” Castiel sighed in no mood for her jokes. Charlie and Meg met each other about a year after Castiel had met Meg and the two soon became close friends, not as close as Castiel and Meg though.

“Sorry.” She apologized realizing he wasn’t in a joking mood, “She’s helping another customer, but I’ll send her over when she is done.”

“Thanks.”

“Welcome.”

Castiel lifted his cup off the counter and moved to a booth on the right of a large bookcase, sitting down. He took out the worn novel that he had read four times and opened it. He tried to read, but he couldn’t keep his mind on the novel. His brain wandered to the soldier who may have read his letter and he wondered about the man’s reaction. Was he surprised? Was he upset it was a guy and not a girl? He sighed again.

A hand with pretty pink nails waved over the book pulling Castiel from his thoughts. “You weren’t in class yesterday.” Meg spoke in a disappointed tone.

“Yes, I had a thing.”

“A thing?”

“Yes, a group project for another class.”

“Oh, well if you had been in class you would have gotten this.” She smiled holding up an envelope with is name scrawled in messy handwriting across the front and no return address, just the name Winchester. The letter!

Castiel reached forward and snatched it out of her hands with excitement. “He wrote back.” He said in disbelief, “He wrote me back.”

“Yeah, and if you had gone to class yesterday you would have gotten it then.” She said. He could tell she was upset with him for not going because her brows creased and her lips puckered just a bit. Her faced looked like she was holding back after eating something sour.

“Why are you upset?” Castiel sighed knowing that if he didn’t ask, her face might stay like that until he did and that scared him; what if her face froze? He almost laughed at his own joke.

“You left me in class alone. You never miss class. Everyone kept asking me where you were and when I didn’t know they looked shocked, almost as if I was your keeper or something.” She growled.

“So, you aren’t mad at me, you are mad at the people in our class.”

 “Yes.”

 “Okay.” He shrugged and ripped open the letter as Meg took a seat across from him. He pulled the letter from its envelope and unfolded it, beginning to read.

 

August 15th, 1942

Dear Cas,

Thanks for your letter. I will admit, yes I expected a girl thanking me for my service, but in my defense I most likely would not have replied if it was a girl. Many girls write letters to soldiers, but not many guys. I understand why you did it of course, you wanted to do something for your country and this is what you could do, I respect that. Yes, I do like novels, but I don’t read many of them. I have a feeling that you are far more intelligent than me, I have no idea what the word “Metamorphosis” means, and I even had to look at your letter to be able to spell it. I bet that it is an amazing novel, author being a Jerry aside. I’m from Lawrence as well. I own Winchester Auto off Cherry Street. It’s a small shop but it’s doing just fine by me. Also, I wanted to tell you that you are right, about being lucky. You are lucky not to be here. I know you said you want to honor your father, but this isn’t the way to do it. We probably won’t be coming back from this war.

Anyway, we’ve made it to Tidworth Barracks in Wiltshire, England. We’ll be shipping out to North Africa soon… To the actual war. I hope this letter arrived in good time, if you reply I’m mostly likely gonna end up receiving it while I’m knee deep in mud somewhere. I just wanted to tell you thank you for your letter. I know it says I’m a lonely soldier but really I just don’t have any family back home. The only member of my family I got left is my little brother Sam and he’s off fighting the Japs. He just turned 18 last May and he was drafted a week after me and shipped out. I’m 22 if you were wondering.

Now for a few questions of my own. How old are you? What do you look like? Why a novelist? Hoe come we’ve never met before? Castiel is such an unusual name I’m sure I would remember it if I had met you.

        Stuck in Europe,

                Dean Winchester

 

Castiel closed the letter with a small smile. ‘Dean’. Castiel thought that it was a fitting name to go before Winchester. “Winchester, Dean Winchester.” He said to Meg and she looked at him perplexed.

“Dean Winchester.” She replied while tilting her head to the side.

“That’s his name. His full name.” He replied. She still looked slightly confused. “The soldier’s name.” he clarified.

Meg gave a little giggle at Castiel and tucked a strand of her hair that had fallen from the messy bun a top her head behind her ear. “You are odd, Castiel Novak.” She teased. To the untrained eye it would have appeared that Meg was flirting with him, but they both knew each other’s secrets.

Castiel shook his head at her antics and set his worn out novel onto the Cherrywood lined table pushing it towards her. “You should read this.” He said tapping a finger on the creased beaten up cover, “It’s a good novel.”

“I’m sure it is.” Came her absentminded reply and Castiel looked up from the book to see Meg watching Charlie serve a man a cup of coffee. Charlie laughed at a joke the man made and Meg smiled at her. Meg has had the hugest crush on Charlie since they met, that’s why they have been so close.

Castiel chuckled. “Careful. You’re drooling. Don’t want to catch flies.” He joked.

“Shut up.” Meg bit back and grabbed the book opening it to the first page. “Jane Austin?” She raised a brow, “What are you? A fairy?” Meg joked knowing full well the answer.

“No.” Castiel said quickly but, after looking around to make sure nobody was looking at them, he winked. Meg let out another little giggle and snatched Castiel’s coffee mug taking a large swig from it with a smile. “That’s mine.” He said in mock offense, but gave a smile nonetheless.

“Oh, sorry Sweetheart! Did you want a refill?” She asked as she abruptly stood. It happened so fast Castiel thought he was gonna get whiplash. Castiel turned his head in the direction that Meg’s eyes kept flicking to and he saw her boss coming through the door that lead to the back office.

“Sure thing, Darling.” He smirked and Meg took his cup rushing off.

 

 

After getting his coffee back, he turned and watched as Meg and Charlie rushed about acting busy so their boss would think that the girls did more than just talk to men all day. He chuckled as he watched Meg bump into Charlie, her face turning a deep scarlet color, and her muttering a small ‘sorry’. By the end of her shift Castiel was sure that Meg’s face had been permanently dyed red. She walked up to him with her purse and waved good bye to Charlie who was closing up this time. Charlie waved back and Meg and Castiel made their way out the door.

They walked mainly in silence, the only sound between them being their feet touching down on the damp sidewalk. The wind was blowing again, but not as hard as last time and Castiel smiled up at the sky.

“What’d the letter say?” Meg asked breaking the silence.

“He said that I was intelligent and that I was right when I said that I guess I was lucky to not be able to fight in the war. He also told me that he’s actually from here.” He said with a shy smile.

“Oh really? What was his name again?”

“Dean Winchester. He said he owns Winchester Auto on Cherry Street?”

“OH! His little brother is Sam Winchester! I went to high school with Sam! He was a freshmen and I was a senior. I didn’t know he had an older brother.” Meg exclaimed in surprise.

“I guess he does.” Castiel smiled.

Meg nodded and they fell back into silence. Their walks were like this sometimes, sometimes they were loud and boisterous and other days they walked in a comfortable silence. Trickles of water started to fall from the sky as they walked, but they didn’t speed up and they didn’t slow down. They just kept walking at an even pace until they made it to Meg’s front steps. They turned giving each other hugs and went their separate ways.

Castiel walked back to the boys’ dorm with a smile on his face and pulled the letter back out reading over it again. He was glad the soldier replied, it made him feel like he was doing something for the war effort. He read the beginning again and stopped confused. He hadn’t realized he had made it back to his room and he quickly unlocked the door, thinking. Why would Dean not have replied if he was a girl? Does he not want a pretty girl writing him? Castiel had these thoughts and more as he made his way to his desk and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen.

He went about writing his reply and, three wastebasket tosses later, he was happy with his response. He pulled his desk drawer out and grabbed his camera. He held it up facing him and snapped a picture, trying not to blink at the intense flash. The small machine whirled and clicked as a small white square picture slowly slid out of the top. Castiel shook it out and, once the photo developed and he was satisfied with the way he looked, he slipped the photo into the envelope with the letter.

Leaving the envelope he walked over to his record player and pulled out one of his favorite records placing it in the record player and setting the needle on top of it. The soothing voice of Billie Holiday rang out and he took a deep breath in, sitting down on his bed. The moon shown through the window and lit up the room as Castiel laid back on his pillow and opened up his Novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, beginning to read.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

 

             Getting letters into England must be harder than getting letters into Scotland. It’s been almost a month since Dean had sent his letter to Castiel and he was getting antsy for the reply. He wanted to know more about the stranger who happened to have been assigned his name. He wanted to know why he had never met the mysterious man who seems to live in the same town as he did.

            Dean stared down at the mush that was served to the soldiers with a disgusted look on his face. It was a time of war and it seems that that means that good food doesn’t exist anymore. He found himself wishing for a burger and slice of apple pie ala mode. He sighed and pushed his tray to the side now just staring at the table. An envelope was slide onto the table in front of him and he looked up to find commander Crowley looking down at him with a stoic face.

            “This came for you today.” He spoke while looking at Dean with an understanding. “Careful boy. We look at all the letters to make sure none of the secrets are getting to the Jerrys. Be careful what you say to your friend.” He warns and Dean senses a deeper meaning. The look on Crowley’s face is a knowing look.

            “Yes, Sir.” Dean said with a nod thinking he understands what Crowley is trying to allude to. Crowley gives him a nod and salute and Dean salutes him back before Crowley turns and begins to march away. Dean looks back down at the envelope that, now since it has been pointed out, has a steam mark along the seal and picks it up in one hand and slides it into the pocket of his Army issued jacket. He shoved the roll into his face again ignoring the mush that sat in front of him. The roll was stale and had a bit of a crunch to it. Rationing sucked. He swallowed and stood, walking past tables of soldiers and nodded at a few of them as he progressed towards the slop bucket.

            Scraping his slosh into the bucket he turned and walked back the way he came. He gave Crowley a glance, nodded, and saluted him on the way out the door. Making his way down the path from the cafeteria he passed walls made of sand bags and men keeping watch. I was dark out and he could barely see his hand in front of his face due to black out rules that meant no light sources that could possibly be seen from the sky. Preemptive measures to keep the Jerrys from bombing them.

            Dean squinted his eyes down at his feet to make sure he didn’t trip over them or fall. He looked up at the stars in the sky which twinkled due to the lack of light pollution and smiled. He knew that it was just becoming day light back home as it was becoming night here and he wondered what Castiel would be doing today. Would he be going to class or would he be doing something else. He realized he still doesn’t know very much about the boy.

            Wandering into the dark he decided to sit down in one of the empty training fields. He pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it with the lighter he always kept tucked in his pocket, a gift from his father before he died. Using the light from the cigarette in his mouth he pulled the letter out of its envelope and began to read.

 

September 8th, 1942

            Dear Dean,

          That’s not many questions. I’d think you’d want to know more. Thank you for calling me intelligent, not many people notice that. Although, I am quite sure you are intelligent too maybe just in your own way. For example, I don’t know anything about fixing automobiles so therefore you would be more intelligent than me in that category. Honestly I only have book smarts; I don’t have any life smart stuff. Owning an Auto shop must be hard, I don’t think I could own my own shop. Also, I sorry your brother is also in the war and fighting the Japs no less. If you would like I can send him a letter too or you can send me two letters, one for me and one for him and I’ll pass is along. Just a thought. I hope that he is safe… I hope you are safe too, Dean.

          Now to answer your questions, I’m twenty-one. I want to be a novelist because I want to be sent to different places. I want them to escape from life and relax for a bit. I want to be the one to help people do that. Maybe it’s a weird dream, but it’s something I want to do. There are many reasons why we haven’t met. I have only lived in Lawrence for a short amount of time, about two years. I’m originally from Pontiac, Illinois, but I was offered a full scholarship and my dad passed so I didn’t have anyone keeping me there. Much like your brother, my dad was my only family member. I do not own an automobile and I spend most my time at the boys dormitory or at Marty’s College Café with my best friend, Meg, so there isn’t any way I possibly could have made it into your shop. As for my name, I go by many things, some people call me Castiel, others Cas or Cassie. Occasionally someone calls me Novak, but I don’t really like that contrary to when I wanted to join the Army. Now since you wanted to know what I look like I put pictures of me in the envelope.

          My questions now. What’s it like over there? I know it’s a time of war, but I bet the landscape is beautiful. What do you look like? Were you drafted or did you enlist? How long are you over there for? When can we expect you back? Who’s watching after the shop while you’re gone? These are a few of many.

                   Too Ill to Fight,

                             Cas

 

          Dean reached into the envelope and pulled out the Polaroid image, using the light of what was left of his cigarette to look at the boy. “I was right.” He spoke to nobody in particular, “He is cute.” The boy had a round face and his smiled was large and filled with straight white teeth. His hair was feathery and he had little crinkles at the corner of his eyes probably from smiling so much in his life. Dean smiled at the picture in his hand and pulled out the last one. This picture was the same boy but his eyes were crossed and his tongue was stuck out. Dean let out a loud laugh. The guy had a sense of humor.

            He took both photos and tucked them into his helmet before standing up and making his way back to the barracks. The walk was short and he quickly pushed aside the blackout curtain that covered the door and slipped inside careful not to let any light out. The boys all sat on their bunks doing their usual nightly things and a few glanced up as Dean slid inside. He nodded at the few and walked to his bunk. He took out his army issued pack that he would carry on his back during this war and slid the envelope with Cas’ letter into the band with the other one.

            “Another letter from the cutie?” Gabriel teased again.

            “None of your business.” Dean shot back and but Gabriel didn’t take the hit.

            “What’s the cutie’s name?”

            “I said none of your business.”

            “Come on, Dean. Don’t be a buzzkill?” Michael said with a laugh, “What’s her name?”

            “Fine. Her name is Cassie.” He said using Cas’ girliest nickname in order to save his ass.

            The boys all whistled and Dean huffed laying down on his bunk and pulling out an old magazine on automobiles. For some reason he found himself wishing that he had a book to read or something more interesting that he hadn’t seen a thousand times. He groaned and rolled over in his bunk getting under the scratchy blanket and pulling it above his head. The boys quieted down and soon everyone was asleep, except for dean. He sat back up and pulled out a cigarette lighting it. He used the light of the cigarette to pull out a piece of paper and began to write his reply. I didn’t take him long placing it in his pack to bring it to the office tomorrow. He climbed back into bed and pulled the covers over his head once again and drifting off into sleep.

 

 

            Dean awoke to commotion. “Enemy aircraft!” was screamed over the loud speakers and he dropped to the ground rolling under his bunk. After the sound of shooting disappeared and “It’s coming about!” was called out, Dean pulled on his helmet and jacket and ran out of the barrack followed by all the other men in the barrack.

They got in position. Dean stood behind a giant machine gun and Gabriel and Michael stood behind him ready to feed ammunition into the gun. “Here she comes!” the intercom screeched and Dean pulled the trigger holding it down and following the plan as it began to shoot across the base. Dean hit it and smoke billowed from the engine as they watched a parachute shoot from the top of the crashing plane.

            “Got him!” Gabriel yelled and clapped Dean on the shoulder. Dean smiled at him and they all hopped down from their post as men ran by them with guns to go search for the fallen Jerry. Dean took a drink from his canteen and walked back into the barracks grabbing his letter. ‘Better than never’ He thought as he made his way back out and to the office.

            In the office he asked that they take a picture of him and they did and he slid it into the envelope before sealing it and sliding it over to the woman in uniform behind the desk. She smiled at him flirtatiously and he disregarded with a smile before heading back out to help deal with the Jerry.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Castiel stared at the chalk board in front of him as Professor Shurley wrote what everyone should be writing down in their notes. They were going over the basic information of creating your own story, things such as grammar and spelling. Cas knew it all and saw no point in writing any of it down. His brain couldn’t focus even if he wanted it to; it was too stuck on a certain unattainable soldier stuck in Europe. He sighed into his palm which he had rested his chin on to support his day dreaming, closing his eyes for a moment.

A moment was actually an hour and Castiel woke to his arm being shoved out from underneath him by Meg. The desk rushed to meet his face, but he managed to catch himself right in time. He glared at his friend who gave him a sickly sweet smile.

“Class is over, idiot.” Meg told him gesturing around to the room that was mostly empty except for them, one girl, and Professor Shurley. The professor and the girl, Becky, stood at the front of the room talking.

Cas stood and shoved his books into his satchel before running up to the front of the room and standing behind Becky, in line to talk to the professor. He waited rather impatiently for his turn. He tapped his foot and fidgeted his fingers until Becky gave a flirtatious giggle and touched Professor Shurley’s arm before walking away. Castiel rolled his eyes at the stupid girl, stepping forward to talk to Professor Shurley.

“Professor Shur-”

“Chuck.” The professor interrupted.

“Chuck.” He said back, “Are there any letters for me today?” He questioned with a hopeful smile.

“Unfortunately, not today.” He spoke sullenly, “There were many Luftwaffe in the United Kingdom’s Air space. One of their bases was even attacked. That’s where all their energy has been and so I don’t think the mail made it out on time. Check with me tomorrow okay?”

Worry spiked in Castiel. His chest felt like something cold had gripped his heart. Letting out a shaky breath he nodded to the professor before turning on his heels and making his way out of the classroom. He was stopped about half way through the room by Chuck’s voice.

“You have grown an attachment to this Winchester fellow haven’t you.” He spoke, awe slightly evident in his voice.

“Yes.” Castiel spoke without turning around for fear that his bright red face would give him away, “He has become a friend of mine.”

“In only one reply?” He asked.

“It only takes but a second for someone to make a friend and when that friend is facing the reaper, you become friends quickly.” Castiel spoke poetically as he began walking again and exited the class. He let the breath he was holing in out in a big huff, pulling out an aminophylline tablet, and swallowing it with a swig from his canteen. Turning to the left he caught a glimpse of Meg waiting for him by the door through the crowded halls of people.

Making his way towards her, he didn’t even try to hind his emotions, giving her a sunken frown, the worry lines visible on his forehead. “We need to get to a news stand and ASAP.” He said to he quickly and grabbing a hold of her wrist lightly before dragging her out the doors of the building. He sighed again as the chilly autumn air pinched his nose turning the tip red. Meg stayed quite knowing that Castiel didn’t need to talk, he just needed something to calm the worry that bubbled at the bottom his stomach and the chill that gripped his heart.

The marched through the leaf covered sidewalks with purpose and down the road to the local store. Castiel made a b-line for the newsstand and gave the man a Nickle for a paper. The headline read ‘The Fighting First Attacked by German Aircraft!’ in big block letter. Castiel read on with baited breath, but his anxiety was calmed by the first line of the fifth paragraph: ‘Aircraft shot down by Lawrence’s very own G.I., Dean Winchester of the Fighting First, accompanied by Gabriel Sugarstone and Michael Vesselman.’ Not only did Dean make it into the paper, but Castiel was also assured that he was safe for now.

This incident made Castiel realize that he would always be waiting. Waiting for the moment when Dean’s letter didn’t come. If Dean could be attacked safely in a base on British soil then there was no telling what would happen to him once he got to North Africa. Castiel let out another shaky breath as Meg took the paper from his hands and began to read the article herself.

“He’s safe.” She said to him with a sigh.

“For now.”

 

 

~~*~~

 

 

Castiel was quick to walk Meg home that day, but instead of turning in the direction of his dormitory he went the opposite way. Walking down the street towards the bright blue campus sign, Castiel made his way off campus. He didn’t quite know where he was headed, but he knew he needed to walk and clear the rushing title wave of worry in his veins. Shoving his hands further in his pockets, he walked past piles of molting leaves on the damp sidewalk and towards a sign that read ‘Apple Circle’. He realized that he had made it pretty far from the campus when he looked back and the sign was a speck of light in the distance.

He sighed and looked both ways as he crossed the street. Taking a deep breath once more he popped another aminophylline tablet into his mouth and swallowed it with another swig from his canteen. He took a deep breath reading the next sign in front of him, ‘Cherry Street’. He stopped in his tracks, his eyes widening slightly as he glanced down the street. The bright red sign in the distance blinked as if it demanded his attention, ‘Winchester Auto’. Castiel held his breath as he turned down the street and walked up to the large cement building with gentle curious steps.

He stood on the steps of the auto shop. The lights were still lit inside and a black man stood at the desk flipping through papers. He grasped the handle and it turned when he twisted his wrist. The door chimed as he walked into the warm shop rubbing his hands together. He hadn’t realized just how cold his hands had gotten. “Hello.” Castiel spoke to the man.

“Hello.” The man said back in a gruff grumpy voice. He had a dark black mustache, his face withered with age, and his hair was buzzed short. “What do you want?” He spoke, but his eyes widened when he looked up. “I’m sorry, Sir. I thought you were someone else.” He said an undertone of panic in his voice.

“It’s fine. Honestly.” Castiel assured him with a kind smile. “I came in right as you were closing I see. My apologies.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Call me Castiel.” Cas said kindly.

“Okay. What can I do ya for, Castiel?” The man smiled, moving from behind the desk. The man was dressed in grey coveralls that were grease stained probably from years of working on automobiles and motorbikes. His shoes were worn and looked like they were ready to be thrown out and replaced. There was a breast pocket off to the right of his coveralls that held a pen and glasses with a old frayed name tag that read ‘Rufus’.

“Rufus?” Castiel asked.

“That’s my name. What can I do for you?” He asked again.

“Oh! Um…. Nothing. I just saw the lights and…” Cas paused trying to think of a good excuse, his fingers burning as they warmed up, “and I wanted to get out of the cold.” He finished with a smile, glancing past the old wooden counter to the back.

“Okay. Is there anything I can get you? I know Mr. Winchester keeps coffee and hot cocoa in the office. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I made you a cup.”

“Cocoa would be good.” Castiel smiled at the man. Rufus nodded and headed into a small room to the right. Castiel used this time to glance around the room he stood in. There was a large window that faced the street and six chairs had their backs pushed up against it. In front of the chair sat an old wooden table with a few magazines from before the war broke out, pictures of people smoking and automobiles on their covers. Pictures of automobiles covered the walls except for behind the desk. The wall behind the desk was covered in pictures of three men with Rufus standing next to different makes and models of motorbikes. Both men had bright smiles and were wearing the same coveralls that Rufus wore now.

Castiel reached out and touched the glass of a picture just above his head. The picture was of one of the men with short hair and kind eyes bent over a bike. He was handsome and muscular and Castiel gave a small innocent smile at the photo. It was taken from behind, the man was looking back and smiling at the camera, the back of the coveralls read ‘Winchester Auto’ in fancy cursive letters.

“That’s my boy… er… I mean Mr. Winchester.” Rufus said interrupting Castiel’s thoughts and making him jump a foot into the air.

“Oh.” He hadn’t realized he had moved behind the counter until just now, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s okay. Curiosity. I understand.” The man smiled a toothy grin.

“You are close with… Mr. Winchester?” Castiel asked kindly in a meek voice.

“Yeah. A friend of mine practically raised him. They are both off at war now, including the long haired boy in that other picture.” Rufus gestured to the one above Mr. Winchester and the bike, “Dean ain’t alone though. Bobby happened to have been his commanding officer. If you ask me, Bobby used his rank from the last war to pull some strings to look over Dean.”

“This is Dean.” He asked tapping the photo of the man and the bike.

“Yep. That’s Dean.”

Castiel nodded as he smiled once again at the photo. He saw Rufus give him a silly look from the corner of his eye and he pulled his attention from the pictures to accept the cup of cocoa that Rufus held out to him. “Thank you. You’re very kind.” He spoke with a shy voice.

“Only kind to those who don’t piss me off.” Rufus spoke rubbing the back of his neck and heading into the garage portion of the Auto shop. Castiel followed close behind, taking small sips of his hot cocoa, and watched as Rufus went about straightening up. He put tools back in their cases and pulled sheets over half-finished cars to keep them clean for the night. Cas leaned on the door jam and surveyed the room. In the corner he saw a sheet draped over what looked vaguely like a motorbike.

“What’s that?” He asked pointing to the sheet.

“That’s Dean’s bike. I’m keeping it in good condition for when he gets back. Boy made me promise.”

Castiel nodded, but that awful anxiety still rose in his stomach. “How are you so sure he is coming back?” Cas said quietly afraid to anger the man.

“He is.” Rufus said with a sense of finality about it, “And Sam. And Bobby, too.”

Castiel nodded again and took the last sip of his hot cocoa. He set the mug on the small table by the door and looked at Rufus once more. “Thank you for the Cocoa.” He said gratefully and Rufus nodded. “I better get going.”

“It is getting late boy.” Rufus agreed. Castiel nodded once more and turned to make his way back out of the Auto shop. He was stopped halfway out, however, by Rufus’ voice once again. “You seem like a kind boy. If you ever need anything to do, or… any extra money, come on down here and see me. I’m sure I could find something for you to do. It’s just me here and I could use the help with Dean, Sam, and Bobby gone.” The man told him while rubbing the back of his neck again.

“I don’t know anything about cars.” Castiel said.

“I’ll teach ya.” Rufus shot back.

“You barely know me.”

“You seem nice enough.”

“I’ve got asthma.”

“Never stopped Beethoven.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

And with that is was final. Both men stared at each other of another second before Castiel nodded again and made his way out of the shop and back into the freezing cold winter air, walking towards the boys’ dormitory.

 

 

~~*~~

 

 

Castiel woke once again to the sun shining through the window and into his face. It was late last night when he had managed to find his way back to campus and he collapse on the bed as soon as he entered his room, falling asleep. He rubbed his eyes and reached for his glasses patting around on the floor. Normally he would wear his contact lenses which he wore everyday but for the first time in about six months he felt like wearing the big bulky circular rimmed glasses.

He brushed a hand through his hair and walked over to his closet pulling on a pair of clean trousers and buttoning up a shirt. Then he grabbed the small bag he kept at the bottom of his closet and headed out the door to the showers. He walked through the large wooden halls of the building. The walls of the halls were blank, no photos or pictures, and Castiel sighed making his way into the bathroom. He made his way to a shower stall and set his small bag onto the ground, pulling out a bar of soap, shampoo, and conditioner, he turned on the shower head and let the cold water rush over him. He shivered as he waited for the water to heat up. When it finally did he began to rub the bar of soap over his lean and toned body, making sure to get every inch of his skin clean. He squeezed the shampoo bottle in his hand and rubbed the syrupy liquid into his hair. He hummed one of his favorite song as he went about washing the bubbles from his hair.

Once he was done with his shower, Castiel put his clean clothes back on glancing at the clock. 9:30 read the hands of the clock and, for the first time in Castiel’s life, he was going to be late for class. He rushed back to his room throwing the small bag on the floor by his closet and grabbing his satchel, throwing it over his shoulder. He ran down the stairs as if he was being chased by a raid hell hound and threw himself out the front door of the dormitory. Meg was standing at the bottom of the steps giving a quizzical look to his appearance. “Come on, let’s go we are going to be late.” He said grabbing her hand and beginning to yank her in the direction of the classes.

“Cas.” Meg said, “Cas. Cas!” She finally gained his attention with the last one. “Shoes.” She said raising a brow.

Castiel looked confused at first but then glanced down at his feet to see his pale bare feet contrasting with the dark wet cement. He threw his satchel into Meg’s arms and ran back into the building, back up the stairs, and back into his room. He grabbed the first pair of socks and shoes he saw throwing them on before he was running back the way he came once again. Running up to Meg he grabbed his satchel from her arms and grabbed her hand pulling her into a run.

They ran into the class just as Professor Shurley started his lecture, the doors swinging open and banging on the walls. Both of them were completely out of breath and Castiel realized he couldn’t breathe. His lungs constricted as he fell on the ground gasping for breath. For the first time in his life Cas had forgotten he had asthma. Everyone started to panic as Meg grabbed his satchel and tore through it, throwing his things from the bag she pulled out a little orange bottle. She poured one of the little pink tablets into her palm and forced it into Castiel’s mouth before holding the old canteen to his mouth and tilting his head back to pour the water down his throat and wash the pill with it. It wasn’t instant but after a few more minutes of gasping Castiel felt his lungs relax again and a took a huge deep breath.

The members of the class and Professor Shurley stood around him in a circle of onlookers and Meg stood telling them to “back the hell up”. To which Professor Shurley shook his head and told her that she was being un-ladylike. Her glare could have set him on fire.

“Meg.” Castiel said, his voice raw, “I’m fine.”

Meg turned her eyebrows scrunched up in sympathy and Castiel gave her a small smile. After that the class went back to their seats, and Professor Shurley to the front of the class, and everyone began to listen to the lecture as Meg helped Cas to a seat in the back of the room. Class resumed as normal save for a few worried glances towards Cas from his classmates and Professor Shurley. He set his face down on his desk taking a deep breath and before he knew it he was being woken up, this time Meg was gentle.

“Class is over.” She spoke kindly and Castiel nodded as he grabbed his satchel from the floor. Both students began to leave until they heard Professor Shurley say Castiel’s name.

“Hey, Castiel, next time don’t worry so much about making it to my class. You are my best student after all so if you miss a day it wouldn’t be a huge issue.”

Castiel nodded.

Professor Shurley nodded with a small smile and from his pocket he pulled an envelope. “This is yours I believe.”

Castiel’s face lit up and he snatched the letter out of the Professor’s hand, “Thank you.” Then he grabbed Meg’s hand and they walked out of the building together. Meg continued to give Castiel worried glances and eventually he told her he had somewhere to be before breaking off from her as she headed to class and he headed to the university library. The library sign had big blue letters that read ‘Heaven University Library’ in a pretty cursive font. He smiled. It always amused him when he saw the name of the university. Castiel was named after an Angel after all and it was only fitting that he lived in heaven, almost as much as it was fitting for a man with the last name of a gun to be a soldier.

Gripping the golden handle on the big cedar door, Castiel entered the library. On the inside the library was dimly lit and the smell of old books filled the air. Castiel hummed at the familiar smell as he made his way past the large oak desk of the librarian and farther into the labyrinth of information. The shelves were a few feet taller than Castiel and he could not see above them, books were covered in thick films of dust and Castiel was sure not to bump any of them for fear of kicking up a dust cloud and triggering another asthma attack.  He sighed as he took a seat deep within the maze where nobody would find him, pulling out the letter and opening it.

 

October 1st, 1942

Dear Cassie,

I hope you don’t mind if I call you that. Thank you for hoping for my safety and for making me fell less like an idiot compared to you. We are still at the barracks, but I suspect we should be leaving here soon. I’m sure the next time I get a letter from you I will be knee deep in a hole I dug myself. As for my small amount of questions, I have more but we have many more letters to send to get to know each other… Hopefully. As for you sending Sammy letters, I’ve got Rufus, a family friend and the one I left in charge of my shop, rerouting letters to him so I’m covered there. Thanks for the thought though. Also, I kinda like being the only soldier you send letters to. I am the only on right? Anyway… I don’t think it’s weird you want to be a novelist, in my opinion you should always follow your dreams and your heart, to hell with what all those other sons of bitches try to tell you. You can be anything you want. It’s a shame you spent so much time on Campus. I would have been glad to meet you. Maybe when I get back, if I do, you can take me to that Café you and your friend go to.

Now since it’s my turn to answer your questions, yes it is very beautiful here. The rolling hills of green seem to go on forever much like the ones at home and I find myself looking up into the sky to see if I can spot any stars that I would see back home during black out hours. As for what I look like, I also put a picture of myself into the envelope for you. I was drafted, there is no way I would have entered this war willingly, and honestly I have no idea when I should be home or how long I will be over here. I believe I answered the last in the paragraph above.

I know a bit about you now so I have different questions this time. How have you been? Anything eventful happen if your life? Got any crushes? (Just joking about that one) Do you believe we could spend some time together when, if, I get back? I would love to get to know you better in person.

        Stuck in Europe,

                Dean

 

Castiel reached inside the envelope and pulled out the picture of Dean. He had the same smile as he did in the picture on the wall at Winchester Auto except instead of blue coveralls he was wearing an army issues uniform. He looked handsome with his side cap on his head in perfect position and his jacket buttoned up almost completely to the collar. Castiel smiled at the photo tucking it into a safe pocket on his satchel before folding the letter and tucking it into a different pocket. The letter would later go into a box that he kept under his bead that had Dean’s other letters.

Reaching above his head, Castiel pulled down a book and opened it, beginning to read.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

            Dean sat in a hole no deeper than three feet. His helmet covering his head to protect him as bombs crashed loudly around him. He had been on the front lines of North Africa for eight day and he already wanted to leave. The air around him was thick with dust picked up from the explosions. Dean flinched as he jumped up from his hole running as fast as he could to the next and sliding into it before the next bomb fell. In the hole sat Gabriel with a gun positioned to shoot.

            “We need to get to the tanks!” Dean screamed over the loud booms of the explosion, dirt flew over their heads because of the impact. Gabriel nodded as he ducked below the rim of the hole. Both men looked at each other in the eyes and nodded as Dean stood and raised his weapon. Climbing from the hole with Gabriel close behind, Dean shot into the air at the Luftwaffe plane above. He ran backward only guided by the sound of Gabriel’s pounding feet as they slid behind one the big tanks.

            Positioning his weapon back on his back, Dean and Gabriel climbed the tank and tapped three times on the top lid. “It’s G.I. Winchester and G.I Sugarstone! Let us in!” Dean yelled and the hatch on the top popped open. Both men slid inside to find Commander Bobby and Sargent Crowley.

            “You idjit!” Bobby yelled at the boy.

            “Okay, Bobby. Move over!” and Dean switched places with Bobby looking through the gap and shooting forward at the approaching German Tanks. He hit the track and watched as it came to a quick halt. Then he narrowed his eyes and shot in a horizontal line across the gaps in the top. Killing the gunner and the driver.

            “That’s my boy!” Bobby yelled at the top of his lungs, clapping Dean on his left shoulder. Crowley moved the tank farther slowly. “Sugarstone! Climb on up there and get to shooting the stragglers!” Bobby yelled.

            Gabriel nodded and opened the top of the tank, using it as a shield he began to shot the soldiers on the ground. Body’s dropping one by one. Slowly the fighting first was making it across the North African desert. Bomb after bomb dropping from the sky. Gabriel ducked back down into the tank slamming the lid on the top. “We need to get rid of that damn bomber!” He yelled.

            “You think?!” Crowley yelled back sarcastically.

            “Move over!” Dean yelled and grabbed a hold of the large gun that Gabriel held in his hands. He pushed the hatch open and held the gun to shoot.

            The Luftwaffe plane flew low and Dean aimed firing a shot just a little ahead of the tip. The bullet raced from the barrel of the gun and flew straight into the engine vent on the side and Dean watched as smoke rose from the vent as the plane caught fire. He gave a small smile and positioned the gun shooting one of the soldiers hiding in a hole in the ground as the tank rolled by. “I got it.” Dean said back to them pulling his head back in.

            “Way to go boy! Anymore in coming?” Bobby yelled.

            “Nah. I didn’t see any! We’re fine.”

            “Good!”

 

 *****

 

            Time passed quite quickly out there in the desert, with all of the action there was hardly a dull moment. Man after man died as they all made their way across the dark dessert in Northern Africa and freed the closest village from Germany’s wrath.

            Once the village was freed the men each went into different places, some to the closest Alcohol provider and others into the homes of grateful women. Dean however did neither. Dean climbed to the roof of a building on the outskirts of town with his gun on his back and sat down staring at the stars. He wondered if there was anyone up there watching over the bloody battle fields and shaking their heads at the petty fighting of all the men.

            Dean sighed, removing the gun from his back and laying down as not to strain his neck any longer. He didn’t understand. All his life people had told him that there was a god up there and that he was there watching over them all, but after today he has trouble believing such a thing. After seeing brother after brother in arms get shot and killed all day, he has trouble understanding why someone who was meant to protect and love us all would let his creations squabble like this.

            “Dean!” He hears Bobby’s voice screaming worriedly, “Dean!”

            “Up here, Bobby!” Dean yelled back, poking his head over the edge of the roof.

            “You scared the shit out of me, you idjit! I couldn’t find you.”

            “Sorry, Bobby. I just needed time to think.” He muttered.

            “Did you climb up there after we took the village?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Well then you been thinking a long time. It’s been two hours since we all split and now everybody is in the bar celebrating.”

            Dean’s eyes widened. He had no idea he’d been up there that long. It seems as if time flied fast when you were thinking all philosophical and crap. He shook his head.

            “Well you got a letter, Dean.” Bobby yelled up, noticing Dean didn’t plan to respond.

            Dean shot up, grabbed his gun, and climbed down the drain pipe of the house landing right in front of Bobby and snatching the letter from his hands. He smiled really wide and Bobby gave him a silly look.

            “You like this kid?” He asked Dean.

            Dean blushed nodding.

            “Well, be careful. People don’t always react kindly.”

            “Will do.” Dean smiled and climbed back onto the roof opening the letter.

           

Dear Dean,

          Yes, it’s fine if you call me Cassie, almost everyone I know does. I’ve been okay. Life has been quite interesting back here in Lawrence. I got a job, but I have no clue how I did it. He just offered it to me out of nowhere as I was standing in the lobby. I’m not qualified for it at all, but I guess that doesn’t matter to him. We had a nice conversation about some things and I guess he’s gonna teach me how to do the tasks the job requires. At least that’s what he told me. I told him I had severe asthma and he doesn’t care so that’s good.

          I have one crush, but it’ll never happen. We barely know each other and I don’t even know what they would want in a relationship. Plus, I don’t think they would be interested in me even if it did work out. I’m not even gonna try for fear of scaring the person away. I’m doing rather well though and don’t worry when you get back we can definitely meet, I have a feeling we will meet rather quickly. Stay safe out there and come home in one piece.

          Too Ill To Fight,

                    Cas

 

          Dean smiled down at the crinkled letter in his hands with a small smile, he was afraid that the letters wouldn’t have made it into the battle zone to get to him. He was afraid he wouldn’t hear from Cas again. Pushing those thoughts from his mind he laid back on the roof and stared up into the star sky once more with a large sigh.

         

Chapter Text

            Castiel woke to the sun shining in his eyes from the blinds. He opened his mouth and let out a loud yawn as he stretched his arms above his head. He smiled up at the ceiling. It was officially the first Thanksgiving Break. There had been breaks before, but the confusion of when they were taken had been cleared when Roosevelt signed the legislation for Thanksgiving to officially be on the fourth Thursday of November.

            Now, this is not the reason that he was smiling. Castiel was smiling because he knew that today was the day that he would start his first job. Most people would be confused as to why he would start on a National holiday, wouldn’t the shop be closed? The shop is closed, however, Rufus’ only “family” is Bobby, Dean, and Sam and Cas’ family isn’t too proud of Cas’ “lifestyle choices”, so the two had a mutual agreement that they would both come to the shop today. Rufus would begin to teach Cas the things he needed to know to work at the shop.

            Climbing from the warm confines of the sheets, Cas placed his feet upon the cool wood floors and smiled at the picture of Dean tacked above the desk. The wooden desk was covered in books from study sessions long forgotten. He stood from the soft mattress and walked to the small closet pulling out a pair of clean trousers, a white undershirt, and a white button up. Cas knew all these clothes were sure to be ruined as he put them on, but he did not care.

            Grabbing his satchel, he walk down the hall, down the stairs, and out the door into the crisp autumn morning. Taking a deep breath, he walked in the direction of the shop. The trees were rustling with the light breeze, leaves falling from them and gathering on the side walk, it was a beautiful morning. There was pep in his step as he walked off campus in the direction of Cherry Street. There wasn’t a soul you could see. Everyone was home preparing for the feast they were all sure to have latter on today.

            It wasn’t a long walk by any means and he soon found himself knocking on the glass of the locked door that was the entrance of Winchester Auto. Rufus’ head shot up from behind the counter and the old man smiled at Cas and waved, making his way to unlock the front door and let Cas in. “Good morning, Castiel.” Rufus smiled.

            “Hello, Rufus. How has your day been going so far? Do we have many automobiles we need to work on today?” Cas smiled.

            “The day has just begun so as far as I can tell it is okay. As for the amount of automobiles we need to work on… there are only two and one motorbike, but that’s not going to be an issue because it’s mostly just general maintenance things.”

            “Swell!” Cas said happily.

            Rufus looked him up and down and shook his head, “Boy, why are you dressed like that? This job ruins clean white shirts.” Rufus walked into the back room, Cas followed close behind, and rummaged through a chest that sat next to a big wooden desk with a plaque that read ‘Dean Winchester’. Out of the chest, he pulled a pair of blue coveralls, “Put these on.” He said throwing them to Cas.

            Cas was quick to set his bag down in the chair in front of the desk and began to slide into the coveralls, one leg at a time. Once done he zipped them all the way up to his clavicle and gave Rufus a huge smile.

            “They sort of fit, a bit baggy where you lack the same muscle, but until I can get you your own pair you’ll just have to wear those.” Rufus said.

            Cas looked down at the breast pocket to see the white cursive stitching ‘Dean’. Het slowly slide his fingers over each letter. “Are you sure De- I mean, Mr. Winchester will mind if I use his coveralls? They look really clean.”

            “He just got that pair before he was drafted. Only wore them twice, so they aren’t that dirty. He won’t care if you get ‘em dirty though, that’s what coveralls are made for.”

            “Okay.” Cas nodded. Rufus walked out of the office as Cas stood their realizing that he was wearing Dean’s clothes. The clothes of the man he has never met, but is sure he has a huge infatuation with. He pulled the front of the coveralls up over the bottom half of his face and took a deep breath. Dean’s musky masculine scent filling his nose, Cas sighed.

            “Are you coming, boy?!” Rufus’ voice yelled from the shop.

            Cas jumped and scurried out of the office and into the shop as fast as possible, not wanting to get caught sniffing Dean’s overalls like a khaki wacky (1940’s term meaning “boy crazy”) girl. When he entered he found Rufus standing in front of a Ford Mercury, one of the newest cars on the market, facing the door. Cas walked over to stand by his side as Rufus turned to face the car.

            “This is how you lift the hood on a car.” Rufus said as he lifted the hood up from the front and placed a thin metal pole under it to prop it up. “Now parts of the engine. Every model of car is different. An engine has the same basic parts to make it work, but the size, position, and location of that part all depends on the model of car.” Rufus paused now to look at Castiel.

            “Understood.” He replied with a nod.

            “Okay. This here is a brand new Ford Mercury. She’s a beaut. Parts of the engine. This circular part here,” Rufus said pointing to a shiny tube not quite on the side but off to the right a bit, “that’s the oil filter. This is the oil filter return line and this all the way down here, but directly below the oil filter is the oil pan.”

            “Oil Filter, Oil Return Line, Oil pan.”

            “This here is the exhaust manifold and this is the oil pan drain plug.”

            “Exhaust manifold and Oil pan drain plug.”

            They continued like that for another ten minutes, Rufus saying names and pointing to parts and Cas repeating the names back to him. Eventually, Rufus had Cas point them out while saying each name. Once Cas got all of the right he showed Cas how to change the oil which was all that the vehicle required of them for the day. Then they moved onto the next one, a 1938 Ford Station Wagon, and did the same process only this one needed the oil filter replaced so Cas watched as Rufus carefully replaced the part.

            Now it was time for the thing Cas’ was most excited about. The motorbike. He had driven one before and remembered what it felt like to have the wind rushing past him as he sped down the road. It was bliss and he was excited to learn how their engines worked, but as he looked around the garage he realized there wasn’t a single motorbike in sight. “Rufus, where’s the bike we’ll be working on?”

            “Well, we ain’t exactly gonna be working on one. Dean’s bike just needs to be ran a bit so the engine doesn’t go bad and then we gotta wash her, because Dean will kill me if she rusts, breaks down, or has even the slightest speck of dust on her when he gets back.” Rufus said rubbing the back of his neck.

            “So what do you need my help with?” Castiel asked.

            “Basically, I want you to take her out for a ride then we will clean her off.”

            “I would love that!” Cas said with a wide smile as he watched Rufus pull the sheet off of Dean’s motorbike. It was a beautiful, shining Ariel Red Hunter. Cas could have sworn his jaw fell of as he looked at the gorgeous piece of machinery.

            “Calm down and keep it in your coveralls, kid.” Rufus laughed, “Also wipe all that grease off your hands before you ride her. No matter how much we wash her, if you get grease on those handle bars it will stay.”

            Cas did what he was told as well as taking the grease covered coveralls off and putting on his jacket. He then walked over to the bike and Rufus handed it to him. Rufus opened up the garage and Cas climbed on the bike, kicking the kick stand up, and starting the bike. He took off out of the garage and down the street.

            The wind blew through his hair, the cold air nipping at his nose and ears as it rush passed him. He felt like he was flying. The vibrations of the bike between his legs only helped with the euphoria he was feeling from the experience. It was over as fast as it began however as he made his loop around the block and pulled back into the garage.

            He climbed off the bike breathing heavily and handed it to Rufus, who surprisingly had his pills prepared for him to take right there. He took the pill and drank some water from the sink washing it down and he instantly found his lungs relaxing. Rufus disappeared into a side room with the bike and grabbed a bucket full of water, soup, and a sponge before shutting the door. Cas could tell he wanted to wash the bike alone so he left the garage and went out into the lobby and over to Dean’s office.

            Sitting down in the chair behind the desk, Castiel leaned back and opened a drawer looking for a pen and paper. The first drawer was empty and Cas’ brows furrowed at it, curiosity making him wonder why the drawer would be empty. He eventually shrugged it off and opened the one below it.

            This drawer had only one thing. A framed photo. The photo was of a blonde girl smiling wide into the camera. She had glasses and a plaid printed button up shirt. The background behind her was the railing of a bridge that Cas recognized almost instantly, it was the bridge in the park where Cas liked to go read in the spring time.

            The railing over looked a small creek and on either side of the creek stood two towering oak trees. Noticing a person sitting at the base of the tree to the left he squinted a bit only to almost drop the picture in shock as he realized that the person at the base of the tree was him. The picture was perfectly timed with a moment that he had looked up from the book he was reading. They were in the same place at the same time and didn’t even notice on another. Cas shook his head at the odds of such a coincidence.

            Turning the frame over he opened up the back and on the back of the photograph, in Dean’s sloppy hand writing it read ‘Jo’s First Day of College! So proud of my little sister. 1940’. That was two years ago, before we even entered this war.

            The clearing of a throat broke him out of his daze and he looked up to see Rufus looking at him expectantly. Cas looked up at Rufus. “They have a sister? Why isn’t she on the walls?” Cas asked curiously.

            “Dean took down most of the photos of Jo.”

            “But why?”

            “Because when she died…” Rufus’ expression was heart wrenching, “When she died a part of him went with her.”

            “They were that close? I’ve never been that close with any of my siblings.”

            “She wasn’t his sister by blood, but his sister by heart. Those two were more alike than they wanted anyone to know.”

            “How’d she die?” Cas asked, Rufus looked even more upset by the question, “I’m sorry. That was insensitive of m-“

            “No, it’s fine. She was different and a certain group of people didn’t like her differences so they set their dogs after her. She suffered severe bites until she bled out. That’s why us different people gotta stick together kid, look out for each other. Never know who’s got it out for ya.”

            “Yeah…” Cas nodded and gently placed the picture back into the door, closing it. Cas opened the bottom drawer and finally found what he was looking for. Pulling out a piece of paper and a pencil, he wrote the address to the Café he loved so much, ‘164 Michael’s Way’. “I want you to join me for lunch tomorrow.” He said with a smile to Rufus.

            “Are you sure my kind are allowed?” Rufus asked nervously.

            “Who cares? Us different people gotta stick together, right?” He smiled.

 

~*~*~*~*~

            Castiel grabbed a booth this time at the small Café. It was smaller than his usual one, but it was also more private in case anyone decided to be an asshole about who Cas chose to spend his time with. Meg looked at him from behind the bar with a puzzled expression. Making her way over, she tapped the table twice. “Why are you sitting all the way over here today? You always sit at the bar.” She said with a slight pout.

            “I’m meeting someone today and I wanted a little more privacy.” Cas smiled.

            Meg’s face broke out into a wide grin, “Meeting someone?”

            “Not like that. He’s my boss.”

            “Oh.” She nodded, “Wait you got a job?! Why didn’t you tell me?!”

            “It didn’t seem too important.”

            A ding sounded as the door to the Café opened and the café that was once loud with voices went absolutely silent. Cas looked up to see Rufus entering looking unsure and nervous. “He’s here.” Cas said to Meg with a smile, lifting his arm and waving at Rufus who walked over as fast as possible sitting down.

            “Hello, Castiel.”

            “Hiya, Rufus. Busy day at the shop today.”

            “Nah, no busier than usual.” Rufus glanced around the café.

            At that moment Cas realized that Meg was still standing there, silently looking between the both of them. Cas’ eyebrows furrowed and then something that should have dawned on him before, hit him like a freight train. Rufus was a black man. To Cas that wasn’t an issue, but he forgets that most of the rest of society doesn’t feel the same.

            “I’ll have a burger with fries, a piece of pumpkin pie, and my usual drink. Anything for you Rufus.”

            “I’ll have a burger too, but apple pie instead of pumpkin, and black coffee works for me. Thank you, Miss.”

            “That’ll be all Meg.” Cas said giving her a pointed look.

            “Oh yeah! Sure, sure! Coming right up! Did you want that apple pie with ice cream, Sir?” Meg asked politely.

            “That’d be fantastic.” Rufus nodded.

            Meg nodded back and hurried away to get the order started. Cas looked around the room shooting glares at the people staring and smiled at Rufus. Rufus smiled back scanning the café and taking in all of the old novels and textbooks on the shelves. Cas realized Rufus must have never seen so many books in one place. Rufus looked in almost slight awe.

            “This is my favorite place to spend my time.” Cas said, reaching up and brushing his fingers along the binding of the books in the shelf next to their booth. “This place gives me comfort when I fell most alone. If you want you can pull down a book and read it. I’m fine sitting here in silence if you wish.”

            Rufus smiled, “You sure kid? I’ve not done this much, but aren’t you supposed to talk to the person you have lunch with?”

            “You can, but even reading in the presence of another person could be counted as bonding.”

            “Bonding?”

            “Yes, this is bonding time. I want to become your friend Rufus, not just the boy you gave a job to.”

            “I thought we were already friends.” Rufus chuckled.

            Cas smiled and grabbed a book from the shelf next to his head. Macbeth by Shakespeare, “I guess we are.”

            Rufus grabbed a book as well and both men began to read in utter silence. Castiel smiled as the book began in its Elizabethan English, the “thee”s and “thou”s filling his mind as he read of witches and nasty deceitful women. He smiled at Shakespeare’s dirty jokes and reveled in the cleverness of Lady Macbeth. This may be becoming his favorite Shakespeare play.

            Cas and Rufus were both quite a ways into their respective novels when Meg approached with their food and set it down on the table with a smile. “Here you go, guys. I’m sorry for the wait.” She smiled, but instead of leaving she untied her apron and sat next to Castiel. “Hi, I’m Meg. I was waiting for this doof to introduce me, but it doesn’t seem like he is going to. I’m his best friend.”

            “Meg.” Castiel groaned.

            “Hello, Miss Meg.” Rufus said politely nodding his head.

            “No need to be so fancy. Meg will do.” She smiled, “So, you are Castiel’s new boss? He didn’t tell me he got a job. What is it?”

            “He’s working with me at my friend’s auto shop. I’m teaching him how to repair cars.” Rufus said.

            “Wow! But why train someone new? Why not hire someone experienced?”

            “I think everything happens for a reason and when this boy wandered into the shop, I had just thought about hiring new help. Then there was a person walking in when the sign said closed. Everything happens for a reason, so I hired him.”

            “That’s a good explanation. What’s the name of this auto shop?” Meg pressed.

            “Winchester Auto.”

            Meg’s eyes grew wide and she looked at Cas. Her mouth opened but before she could say anything Castiel shoved her from the booth and grabbed her arm. “Go ahead and eat your food, Rufus. I need to talk to Meg real quick.” He said with a smile as he dragged Meg over to the bar. “What the hell?” he whisper yelled at her when they arrived.

            “What?”

            “Why the third degree? Am I not allowed to make new friends anymore?” he asked.

            “No. I was just curious. He’s not just a friend you made on the street Castiel, he’s….”

            “Say it. Black. He’s colored.” He growled out.

            “You know I’m not like that Cas.”

            “Well after that I wouldn’t know.”

            Meg stared at him for a moment and shook her head. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes before opening to look at him again. Her face an expression of almost sadness. “Why are you doing this to yourself, Cas?” she asked, concern plaguing her voice.

            “Doing what?” he asked taken aback.

            “Getting close to this soldier. To his life. To the people he knows. What if he dies, Cas? Less people come back from this war than the people who go. For all you know he is already dead. For all you know he’s been dead for weeks and they just haven’t notified you yet.” She said sadly.

            “He’s not.”

            “How would you know?”

            “Because Rufus would say something.”

            “What if he wouldn’t, Cas?”

            “He would. I know you are worried about me, but I’m fine. I promise. I didn’t mean to get this close, but now that I am, I don’t want to stop. Learning about cars is interesting, Meg, and I get a paycheck which can help me with school. I’ve never had a job before. This can give me some good work experience. I’m not hurting anyone by learning more about the person I’ve been talking to.”

            “Okay. Fine. I won’t bug you anymore. I just worry.”

            “I know.” Castiel smiled and looked passed Meg towards Rufus. That’s when he saw it. A group of boys headed straight for Rufus.

            One smacked his plate of pie on the ground and the other growled in a menacing voice, “What do you think you are doing here nigger? Your kind ain’t allowed.” The other two boys nodded and glared. Castiel began to make his way to the table as Rufus answered.

            “I’m here with a friend.”

            “Nobody here would be friends with someone like you.” The boy growled again.

            Castiel slid between the group of boys and Rufus. “I would.” Cas said crossing his arms and making direct eye contact with the boy he now recognized as Azazel from his English lit class. “Do you have a problem with that, Azazel?” Cas glared.

            “Why would you associate yourself with someone like him, Castiel?”

            “That is none of your business. I can choose whoever I like to be friends with. Now leave us alone.”

            “He’s here to protect you now, but he won’t always be.” Azazel growled to Rufus,

            “Let’s go boys.”

            Castiel stared them down as they left the restaurant and sighed a loud sigh when the door closed. He took his seat cross from Rufus and looked over at Meg, pointing to the pie. Meg nodded and began to make another plate. Castiel turned back to Rufus and smiled a small sad smile. “I’m sorry for the way those Neanderthals acted.” Cas apologized.

            “It’s okay, boy. You don’t get my age without enduring some form of hate.”

            “No. It’s not okay. Society can go to hell. As far as I’m concerned you have the same blood running through your veins as me and that’s all that matters.” Cas smiled.

            Rufus nodded at him as another slice of pie was set in front of him with a smile from Meg. The two ate in silence until they were both done then Cas walked Rufus to his vehicle and gave him quick hug before heading back towards his dormitory.

 

~*~*~*~

            When Castiel entered his room he found a letter sitting on his desk. When the dorm gets mail the Resident Advisors go around putting it on the desks of the students who live in the dorms. Castiel ran to the letter and picked it up. The envelope was tan with dirt stains and had a slight burn on one side. Cas laid down on his bed and opened the letter slowly as not to damage the envelope ore the contents inside.

 

Dear Cassie,

        I’m glad that you are okay with me calling you “Cassie”. Feels almost like an honor. That’s great that you got a job! I can understand where the employer is coming from though, if you had walked into my shop I probably would have hired you on the spot as well. I mean, judging by your picture you look really charismatic, I’m sure all you had to do was smile. What is the job? You were quite vague in the letter which makes me extremely curious. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but I would like to know. Don’t let asthma hold you back either, I’m sur5e you’ll do great.

        As for this crush of yours, I say go for it. What have you got to lose? The least they will do is say no, but that’s not the end of the world. I’m sure you have many girls chasing after you. You are quite handsome, if she doesn’t want you I’m sure some other girl definitely will. If this person truly cares about you, they won’t run away from you just because you have feelings them. They will stick around even if tensions are a bit high.

        I’m doing my best to stay in one piece out here. I’ve been doing a lot of star grazing. The stars here are different than the ones back home. Not too different, but definitely different. I wish I could tell you about what’s going on out here, but there’s a strict “hush hush” policy in case these letters get intercepted. All I can say is that it is definitely brutal. I miss my bed and my bike. Hell, I even miss getting covered in grease all day. I can’t wait until I come home. I miss home.

        Sorry for whining. I hope to hear from you soon, but I’m not sure how fast mail carries with all this bloodshed. I wish you well and I wanna know more about you.

        Stuck in Europe,

                Dean

 

        Cas smiled a wide smile and got up. He put the letter away and sat down at his desk pulling out a piece of paper and beginning to write his reply to the soldier he was sure he was falling in love with.