Pissed, Dean kicks at a rock next to the Impala. The fuck is he supposed to do now? Sam ran off to college, and he and Dad aren’t speaking after their fight after Sam left. He hopped in his baby and drove as far away from John Winchester as he could, but now he doesn’t know what to do.
So he hits up a bar. Doesn’t even need a fake ID for it anymore, but it’s better to be Cedric Green than Dean Winchester. Cedric doesn’t have a fucked up family. Cedric can get a real job.
Four beers and shots later, Dean leaves the bar and heads for the Impala. A whimper emanates from the alley around the side of the bar, and Dean pulls his Colt. It doesn’t work against everything, but it’ll slow down just about everything.
Three steps into the alley, he hears it again, turning to aim at the noise. Dean notices movement behind the dumpster and spins around it to see… a dog. With a sigh, he puts his gun away and looks at the dog.
It looks back at him, panting, tongue hanging out of its mouth, tail wagging up a storm. “Who leaves a dog in an alley?” Dean crouches down and extends his hand for the dog to smell. It growls a bit but moves close enough to sniff Dean’s hand.
Ducking his head, Dean confirms the dog’s a male. “Bet you’re hungry, boy. Come here.” Dean walks towards the Impala, checking over his shoulder to make sure the dog follows. He doesn’t have much, but he finds some beef jerky to feed the dog.
Several pieces later, the dog runs back into the alley, leaving Dean just like everyone else. He climbs back into the Impala and finds the nearest motel to crash. He can come with a plan tomorrow.
Across town, several hours later, Castiel rolls out of bed with a stretch and a yawn. He dresses fast and grabs his things, heading out for his morning run. He does not want to deal with Balthazar, so he rushes to get out as fast as he can.
Reaching the park, Castiel settles into a groove, feeling the burn in his legs and lungs as he pushes himself through the trees. Peaceful and solitary, it’s Castiel’s favorite part of the day. Without this decompression, he’s not sure he’d make it through the day.
Castiel finishes his run, slowing to a stop by the water fountains, topping off his water bottle for his slower jog home. Once full, he looks around for his buddy. He steps off the path and into the trees where he finally finds him.
“Hey, Buster.” Castiel crouches down and holds his hand out to the dog. Buster trots over, tail wagging as he smells Castiel’s hand then starts nosing at his pockets. Laughing, he pulls out the bag of treats he always brings with him.
“Who’s a good boy?” Buster rolls over, and Castiel rubs his belly like he deserves. “Such a good boy, yes you are!” Castiel loves playing with Buster and only wishes he could bring him home. Balthazar won’t allow it though, he tried.
Eventually it’s late enough he has to leave of be late to work. Castiel leans down and presses a kiss to Buster’s nose. “See you tomorrow, buddy.” Castiel glances back over his shoulder a few times, liking the last few glimpses of Buster he gets.
At the coffee shop, Castiel puts on his apron and nametag and prepares for the late morning rush. College students and late start housewives, it’s less hectic than the business rush but more likely to act out.
He takes order after order, no one too rude, no one tipping super well. Castiel puts up with it because it pays the bills even if he doesn’t want to do it forever. When they get a break in new orders, Meg leans against the counter next to him.
“So, how’s being a goody two shoes going for you?” Meg smirks when he glares at her. “You really need to have more friends than just your dog that isn’t even your dog.”
Castiel ignores her, neatening up the supplies on the counter for something to do with his hands. “What are you, chopped liver?”
Meg laughs, bumping his arm and messing up the stack of cups so he has to start over. “I’m a friend you don’t picture naked because I don’t have the right parts for you. We need to get you laid.”
“I don’t need to get laid,” Castiel argues, regretting the day he told her it’s been three years since he’s had sex.
“Cas, if there’s anyone who needs sex, it’s you.”
Someone laughs, and Castiel looks up to see sex on legs. “If you’re looking for a good time, darling, I could definitely help you out.”
Castiel blushes and looks away from his bright green eyes. Of course, then he sees the leather jacket, the slightly bowed legs in jeans and realizes there really isn’t a good place for him to look if he wants to stop blushing. “Can I get you something?”
“Black coffee,” the man says, handing over cash, “and your name.”
Meg should be making his order but sticks her head over Castiel’s shoulder. “It’s on his name tag, unless you can’t read.”
Oh god, really? Castiel pushes her away saying, “I’m sorry about her. She doesn’t have a filter, even at work.”
The sex god grins at him. “I can read, don’t worry. It’s just sweeter if you give me your name instead of me taking it.”
Castiel swallows and shifts on his feet to deal with the sudden tightness in his pants. Maybe Meg has a point about getting laid. “Castiel.”
“Dean.” The cutie winks and drops his change in the tip jar before stepping back to wait for his coffee. Castiel looks down at the counter and pretends to be busy while Meg makes Dean’s coffee and hands it to him.
Dean takes a sip before raising his cup to Castiel with a wink and heading out. Castiel watches his ass go, really appreciating the view. “If you don’t call dibs, I will.”
Castiel pushes Meg away from him. “We don’t know anything about him, I’m not interested in a one-night stand, so he’s all yours.” It hurts to say, because he’d love a chance with Dean, but he’s also not a fling kind of guy.
Meg studies him but doesn’t say anything to try and change his mind. Castiel appreciates it, not wanting to deal with that today. Or tomorrow or any other day, but whatever.
Outside, Dean sips his coffee leaning against the Impala. That barista was damn cute, and his pushy friend wasn’t bad either. His tastes lean more towards men right now, able to do what he wants without his father looking over his shoulder right now.
If he wants to stick around and woo the barista, keep seeing the dog, Dean needs money. He could hustle pool, but Dean wants to show Sam that he can be more than just a hunter, bumming around between hunts.
Dean cruises the town, looking for places with help wanted signs. He’s not server material, but the one mechanic shop in town has an opening. Dean parks and heads into the garage through the open bays.
“That your Impala outside?” A man in coveralls walks up, wiping his hands on a greasy rag that probably isn’t helping.
“Yeah, that’s Baby. Keep her running myself.” Sure, John bought it, but Dean’s been doing the maintenance since he could hold the tools. They shoot the shit about Baby and her features, but they run out of things to say. “That sign serious? You need more hands around here?”
Clark nods. “Yeah. Job’s yours if you can show up for an eight-hour day sober and whenever you’re scheduled. We’re open six days a week, so it’s not always the same days.”
“I can do that. You have coveralls I can use, or I need to go find a pair?” Dean generally just works in jeans and a tee shirt, but having a job is different.
“I’ll get you a pair. You start at eight tomorrow morning. Don’t be late.” Clark hands him a card with the shop’s number, just in case, and Dean heads out to figure out how to spend the rest of his day.
He ends up back in his motel, staring at his phone. Dean could call Sammy. He’d probably pick up. But he’s not sure he could keep calm and contain his anger. So he grabs a few guns out of the trunk and occupies himself taking them apart, cleaning them, and reassembling them.
Once it’s late enough to be socially acceptable, Dean heads back to the bar he found the other night. Old habits die hard, and he hustles a little pool to earn enough to pay his motel bill until he gets his first paycheck. The men catch on, and Dean ends up out on his ass. He managed to snag the cash, so it works out in the end.
Hopeful, he makes his way to the alley where he found the dog last night. Dean whistles a few notes, and the dog bounces out to greet him. “Hey, buddy.” Dean crouches and pets the dog as he wiggles and dances around Dean.
He runs his hands around the dog’s body and realizes he’s well fed. “You have an owner, boy?” Dean checks his neck for a collar but doesn’t find anything. “Gonna need a name if I’m going to keep feeding you.”
Leading the dog back to the Impala, Dean feeds him some more beef jerky, getting him to sit for the treats. “Good boy!” Dean pets him and rubs his belly and loves the chance to relax. It can’t last forever, but he’s going to appreciate it while he lasts.
Once the jerky is gone, Dean sits on the ground, the dog next to him. “How does Buster sound?” The dog barks loud and manages to wiggle his tail even while sitting. “Buster it is,” Dean laughs. He spends a little more time with his new dog before heading back to the motel. Tomorrow, he starts working, and he might even work as Dean Winchester.
The next day starts early, and Castiel rises with the sun for his run. He ends it the way he always does, spending some time with Buster. He offers him some treats, but Buster doesn’t chow down the way he normally does.
“You good, Buster?” Castiel runs his hands along the dog, but he doesn’t get any negative reactions. “Is someone else feeding you too?”
As if he understands, Buster starts barking and jumping around. He grabs another treat, gobbling it down, but leaves the rest alone.
“Glad you’re good.” Castiel tucks the remaining treats under a rock so Buster can get them later if he needs them. He heads back home then off to work.
Meg watches him preparing for the early shift, not setting up for the day but arriving just before the door opens. “You hoping sex on legs comes back, Cas?”
Blushing, Castiel makes sure the total in the register matches the requirements for opening. “I’m hoping for good tips, that’s it.”
“Sure, hun, sure.” Meg waves him off while going over to open the doors.
The morning rush begins, men and women in suits, getting their coffees before making the drive to the bigger city for their nice office jobs. They tend to tip just their change, but it’s better than nothing. By the time the rush starts to die down, Castiel’s feet are killing him, and he wants a break.
“Hey, Cas.” His eyes fly up to see Dean standing on the other side of the counter again. “Black coffee.”
Castiel takes his cash and gives him his change, Dean dropping the extra bills and coins in the tip jar. “Thanks.” He wants to say something, but what’s he supposed to say? Why is conversation so difficult?
Dean steps aside but doesn’t go too far. “Having a good day?”
Nodding, Castiel smiles at him, glad that Dean was last in line. “Started early this morning, so I’m off earlier.”
Smirking, Dean wiggles his eyebrows at him. “That an invitation, angel? I could take you to dinner, my treat. You angling for an invite?”
Is he? Castiel doesn’t know what he’s doing. He blinks, trying to figure out what to say, when Meg breaks the moment, calling out Dean’s name and handing over his coffee.
“His number’s on your cup. Cas doesn’t text much, but I’ll make sure he responds,” she tells Dean who smiles at her.
“Sounds like a plan.” Dean sips his coffee before grinning directly at Castiel. “See you later, angel.”
Castiel appreciates the view again as Dean heads out before turning to Meg. “You gave him my number?”
“Because you wouldn’t. And if he turns out to be an asshole, then you block him.” Meg shrugs it off like it’s nothing. “If nothing else, you can practice your flirting. He’s good at it.”
Yes, he is, and it’s the layer of sincerity in his voice that makes it work. When Dean calls him an angel, invites him to dinner, Castiel feels like he could earn the name angel, that he could come up with enough conversation to be worth having dinner with.
“Hey.” Meg punches him in the shoulder. “Just because you don’t date doesn’t mean you’re not datable. It just means you choose not to. Don’t put yourself down.”
Castiel smiles at her and leans into her shoulder. “Thanks. I’m a little out of practice tough, makes doubts easier than confidence.”
“Just watch the way he stares at you,” Meg tells him, “and you’ll be confident again in no time.” A customer comes in before Castiel can respond, and it’s back to work.
Meanwhile Dean starts his first day as a mechanic. It’s easy work, stuff he’s been doing for years, but it’s different working on a variety of vehicles and doing it for someone else. He stays in the back, focusing on the vehicles and not wanting to deal with people.
In his slow moments, Dean tries to think through all the restaurants he’s seen in town. Are any of them really worth taking Cas for a date? He can’t cook and is used to diner food, so Dean really doesn’t have the experience for this.
“Fuck!” Distracted, he bangs his knuckles when the wrench slips off a stubborn bolt. “Damn it.” Dean walks over to the first aide kit Clark showed him during the short orientation.
“I just need someone to tell me what’s wrong,” a woman announces, “not you to try to overcharge me on some work I don’t need.”
Curious, Dean walks out to the front to see a woman glaring at Clark. Her light brown hair reaches a little past her shoulders, and her mouth pinches with irritation. Clark tries to placate her, but she isn’t having it.
When she notices Dean, he feels seen, like she knows him even though he’s never seen her in his life. “I want him to look at the engine, tell me what’s wrong.” The woman gestures at Dean, drawing Clark's attention over to him.
Dean checks with Clark who nods and gestures for him to go. He walks over to the brown sedan and pops the hood, stepping back at the wave of steam coming out. While the woman watches, Dean checks everything he can reach without disassembling anything,
“Looks like you could use an oil change,” he tells her, “although it’s not essential. If you’re looking for the bare minimum to head home, a new water pump and refilling it, and you should be good to go.”
She points at him. “Do that.”
Dean checks with Clark to make sure he’s not overstepping, and gets a nod of approval. He handles the work and watches the woman drive off feeling like he’s missing something.
“You know her?”
Shaking his head at Clark, Dean heads back to the car he was working on. “Nope. Maybe I look like someone she knows.” If he’s honest, she’s probably part of the hunter community, someone who knows his dad but who Dean never met. He’ll never see her again, so he puts her out of his mind.
When his day ends, Dean pulls out his phone and calls Castiel, not wanting to give him a chance to ignore him. If he says no though, Dean’ll leave him alone, of course. It rings long enough Dean starts to expect a voicemail, but then the call connects. “Hey, angel.”
“Dean?” Rough and low, Cas’ voice makes him smile.
“Meg gave me your number, remember? You off work?”
There’s a moment of quiet before his gets a response. “Yeah, I finished an hour ago.”
“You have a favorite place I can take you for dinner?” Dean doesn’t know where to go, but Cas has to have a favorite place.
Cas sighs, and Dean can picture him shaking his head. “There’s a bar in town. You can take me there.”
Okay…. Dean’s missing something here. “Where should I pick you up, angel?” Dean checks his hands and clothes to make sure he’s not too dirty and doesn’t notice any marks. Perfectly date acceptable.
“The coffee shop. I’ll be there in about five minutes, didn’t get too far after work.”
Dean’s missing something, but he’ll talk to him when they’re face to face. “I’ll be there. See you soon, angel.” Dean hangs up and starts driving, Led Zeppelin blasting from the stereo. When he picks up Cas, Cas sits quietly, and Dean doesn’t push.
Cas mentioned a bar, but Dean doesn’t ask for directions, just heads for the one he knows. He helps Cas inside, orders a beer and whiskey for both of them, then settles into their booth. Cas takes the shot, sucking in a breath through his teeth.
“Want to talk about it?” Dean asks, taking his own shot.
“My brother is driving me crazy. We’re roommates, and our dad pays the bills, so it’s equally our space but also technically not. After work, I got a text that Balthazar is having an orgy and to not come home.” He sips his beer and shakes his head. “It’s so irritating.”
An orgy sounds pretty cool, but Dean sees Cas isn’t the type. “So you’ve been sexiled from your own house? That blows.” Once he got old enough, Dean started going to his partner’s place to avoid sexiling Sam, but it’s not something he has to worry about anymore.
Castiel cocks his head at Dean, picking up on something in his tone. “Has that happened to you before?”
Dean shrugs, taking a swig of beer. “My dad moved my brother and I around a lot for work. We stayed in long term motels most of my life, and if either of us wanted sex, the other had to leave. But my brother left for college, so.” Dean shrugs again but doesn’t look too happy.
“You miss your brother?” Castiel has so many, and they’re invasive and irritating, and he appreciates having space from most of them.
“Something like that.”
They order food and sit in relative silence, not talking, just drinking and eating. Even with company, Castiel is still hung up on Balthazar’s actions, and Dean has something in his eyes that warns Castiel to give him space.
When they’re done, Dean offers his arm to escort Castiel out of the bar. “Sorry for my mood,” Dean tells him once they’re outside. “I wanted to improve your mood and only kept you down. Pretty shitty date.”
Castiel squeezes his arm, not bothered at all. “I didn’t really give you a chance to make it better when I asked about your brother. Besides, misery loves company, and this was much better than being alone.”
“Thanks. I do have something that might help.” Dean grabs something out of his car before leading Castiel to an alley next to the bar. Castiel hesitates, not sure he trusts Dean that much, horror stories related to alleys rushing through his head.
Dean laughs and takes his hand. “It’s nothing bad, I promise.” He keeps walking until he reaches a dumpster and whistles. He whistles? Castiel watches him, confused, until he sees a dog appear out of the darkness. “Hey, buddy.”
“Buster?” Dean looks up at Castiel with a frown. “You know my dog?”
Buster barks, dancing between the two of them, losing his mind. Dean laughs and feeds him what looks like jerky, and Castiel crouches next to him, taking some of the food. “Your dog? He doesn’t have a collar, so I didn’t know anyone owned him.”
“Well…” Castiel blushes when their eyes meet. “I kept seeing him at the park after my morning runs, so I started feeding him. He isn’t technically mine, but I think of him that way.”
Buster barks again, licking Castiel’s cheek and slobbering all over him. Castiel wipes his cheek and hugs Buster. “It’s nice to know he’s managing alright on his own.”
Castiel looks at Dean, feeling like he’s missing something. Perhaps he misses his brother more than he admits. “He doesn’t have to manage on his own.” He doesn’t know where this is going, but he’d like to have Dean at least as a friend.
Dean looks up at him, mouth open to respond, then freezes. He stands up, pulling Castiel up and behind him. Buster starts growling, man and dog staring into the darkness of the alley. Dean steps backwards, placing his toes, then the rest of his foot, nearly soundless. Castiel does his best to copy him but isn’t entirely sure he manages.
Buster continues growling until Dean snaps his fingers at him. Dean has no idea what’s in the dark and has an innocent to protect, but he can do this. He keeps them moving backwards, trying to reach the trunk of the Impala as soon as possible.
Something growls back at Buster before crawling into the light. Cas whimpers as the creature looks at them, eyes bloody, hands and face covered in blood as well. Dean isn’t entirely sure what the hell the thing is, but he’s leaning towards rugaru which means fire.
“Cas,” he hands over the keys, wincing when he hears them drop. “Go open the trunk, Cas, and keep the car between you and it.”
Cas whimpers, but Dean hears the keys jingle again. He keeps his eyes on the rugaru and his ears on Cas. When he hears the trunk open, Dean tries to picture where they kept the propane tank rigged to spray. He fingers his lighter in his pocket knowing as soon as he moves, he needs to be fast.
The rugaru growls and springs forward. It’s fast but not inhuman telling Dean it’s young. He runs for the trunk, pulling his lighter and grabbing the propane. As he flicks the lighter, Dean sees the rugaru’s face right next to his.
“Too close, bitch. Don’t even have to aim.” Dean depresses the lever and moves his lighter into place. The rugaru screams as it goes up in flames, falling back away from him. Skin and flames crackle and burn, mixing with the hiss of propane from the tank. Dean watches it fall to the ground, writhing under the flames until it stops moving.
A whimper sounds behind him, and Dean turns around, lighter and propane tank at the ready. He recognizes Cas in time, lowering everything, putting the tank away and moving closer to Cas. “I’ll explain everything later, okay, just trust me a little longer.”
Cas stares, eyes wide, but doesn’t run when Dean moves closer to wrap his arm around him. “Is he dead?”
Dean checks over his shoulder, makes sure there’s no movement. “Yeah, he’s dead.”
“He doesn’t look it.” Dean looks again, trying to see it from Cas’ perspective. If you know what to look for, you can see the redness left from the flames, but rugaru don’t burn like humans. “How do we explain it to the police?”
Winchesters don’t explain things to the police. They handle the job and skip town before anyone even knows the monster is dead. But Dean might be here for a while, and he can’t just run and leave Cas to explain it.
With a sigh, Dean pulls a gun and fires four shots into the body. Cas screams, the first time since this whole thing started. Dean spins around and grabs his arms. “You tell the cops the truth,” Dean tells him. “He was going to attack us, and I protected us, and I shot him.”
Cas stares at him, but he doesn’t have a chance to respond before they’re surrounded by people drawn out of the bar by the shots. Dean doesn’t want to risk anyone overhearing anything they shouldn’t, so he focuses on making sure the trunk is secured by the time the cops appear in the parking lot.
Two officers separate them, and Dean leans against the Impala while waiting for someone to actually talk to him. A female officer walks up to him, looks him up and down. “I’m Detective Parker. You are?”
Dean hesitates, not sure what to say. He gave his real name at the shop, so he gives the cop the same. “Dean Winchester.”
“And you fired the shots?”
One hand up to show his innocence, Dean pulls out the spare gun he always has on hand with just two fingers. The locked back slide shows it’s not loaded, and Detective Parker gestures for him to put it on the ground. “Yes, I did.”
She studies the gun then looks up at Dean. “Tell me what happened.”
“Cas and I had dinner in the bar, and then I brought him outside to see if I could show him the dog I’ve been feeding in the alley.” The best lies are always grounded in truth. “We were petting Buster when we heard a growling sound. Buster started growling back, so we moved out of the way. The guy followed us and wouldn't leave, so when he jumped at me, I shot.”
“You shot an unarmed man for jumping at you?” Detective Parker appears unimpressed.
“When he’s covered in blood and looks like he chowed down on the last fucker he met, yes, I shoot an unarmed man.” Dean doesn’t back down from her gaze, daring her to say she’d do differently.
Instead, she shifts her focus, holding out a picture. “Do you recognize this man?”
Dean checks the picture and shakes his head.
“What about this woman?”
Dean checks the second picture and shakes his head again. “Who are they?”
“The woman is Eden Rogers, and the man is her neighbor, Daniel Benson. They were found in her bed, naked and ripped up.” Detective Parker puts the pictures back in her pocket. “The man you shot is Wade Rogers, Eden’s husband.”
That explains it. The rush of anger on top of a rugaru’s growing hunger, Dean assumes Wade snapped when he saw his wife cheating. “Do you think he killed them?”
“Looks like it,” she says, looking Dean up and down. He flashes her a smirk and a wink out of habit, but she ignores him. “Don’t leave town, okay?”
“I’m at the motel at night and mechanic shop during the day.” Dean watches her walk off then watches Cas finish up with the cop talking to him. He doesn’t know if Cas will actually come back to him when he’s done, and he’s more relieved than he’ll admit when Cas walks back to him.
“My place or yours? I think you’ve been through enough to get the orgy kicked out if you need to be in at home,” Dean tells him.
Castiel looks at Dean and shrugs. “Your place.” He’s never seen violence like that before, but he noticed that Dean made sure to stay between him and the other man. Dean kept him safe, and he doubts that’ll change. Castiel wants to give him a chance.
Besides, he doesn’t want to break down in front of Balthazar.
Dean whistles, and Buster comes running up, jumping into the back of Dean’s car. Dean winces and mutters something about dog fur and needing to clean but gets inside as well and drives to the motel on the edge of town.
Inside his room, Dean leads Castiel to a chair at the table then gets them beers from the fridge. “I told you I’d explain everything, but I need you to just listen to me, let me get it all out. I’ll answer all of your questions when I’m done.”
Castiel doesn’t know what he expected, but a story of burning mothers and ghosts and monsters was the last thing he expected. He better understands Dean’s reaction to the growl in the dark, knowing what to do, pulling a gun, having a story for the police.
“A few weeks ago, Sammy left for Stanford. Dad and I kept going for a little longer, but we had an argument, and I left.” Dean finishes his second beer, getting up for a third. “I found a town to stay in and decided to stick around. I needed a break.”
“And you found another monster anyway.” If he hadn’t just seen a man who burned without a mark, Castiel wouldn’t believe a word of what he was saying. “Thank you, by the way, for saving me.”
Dean snorts a laugh. “That’s the job. Except people don’t normally say ‘thanks’ for opening their eyes and killing someone they know.”
Castiel fully understands that. Tomorrow, running before the sun rises, won’t be quite as comfortable if at all possible. “Can I stay here tonight? I’m not sure I really want to deal with my brother or his orgy friends right now.”
“Of course.” Dean looks over his shoulder to the single, queen bed. “I’ll sleep on top on the covers.”
The polite thing is to protest, tell Dean he doesn’t have to do that, but Castiel doesn’t have it in him. “Thanks.” They kick off their shoes, ditch jackets and jeans, before sliding into bed for the night. After trying not to toss and turn and bother Dean, Castiel gives up.
“Get under the sheets, please. I need skin on skin contact.” Castiel waits for Dean to comply, the sheets to stop rustling. “I need to know that I’m safe.”
“You’re safe,” Dean tells him, “and you’re still real. Your life is still your life, and you don’t have to start facing monsters every day. I bet everyone else in town is human, and nothing here is old enough to be haunted. It’ll be fine.”
Castiel sighs and settles a little more in the bed. He’ll probably crack tomorrow when he really has a chance to think about it, but he’s just appreciating being alive right now. Tomorrow is another day.
The bed shakes, and a tongue licks his face before a warmth settles next to him. Castiel screams then remembers Buster. “Stupid dog.” He wraps his arms around Buster, breathing in the smell of dog. It’s grounding, and when Dean wraps around him from behind, Castiel can finally let his eyes slip shut.