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Timestamps: We're Almost Out of Minutes

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Dean does feel faintly stupid to be alone out in the yard with water-gun loaded and at the ready, but there’s no way he’s going to call Sam to join him. It’s the principle of the thing, and Dean’s still smarting from the argument they’d had that morning, where Sam had blown a gasket over something that’d happened with the computer that he claimed was Dean’s fault but no one fiddled around with that stuff except Sam, so they’d yelled at each other until dad told them to quit it and now Sam’s sulking in his room and Dean’s distracting himself by stalking invisible enemies in mom’s begonias.

Or he could be stalking the begonias themselves. They could be alien invaders from space, transmutated into seemingly harmless plants that attract people to plant them because they look nice, or something. Dean can just see their little eyes inside the petals, watching him and taunting him for his helplessness.

He can hear, in his mind’s ear, mom’s voice calling out with a shocked: Dean! so he keeps his finger just barely touching the trigger, not pushing. “Alien scum,” he hisses, waiting for the whites of his enemies’ eyes, “I see you, you’re gonna get it, gonna shoot you.”

It’s the soft crack of a branch that makes Dean spin round suddenly – finger pressing down and wouldn’t it just serve Sam right for sneaking up on him, the little twerp.

But it isn’t Sam who’s staring at him now. This guy has a new face, his eyes wide with shock before they look down in confusion, fingers plucking at his now-wet shirt. Who the hell buttons their shirts all the way up to the collar?

“Where’d you come from?” Dean asks sharply, just before he remembers the moving vans that’ve been going up and down the street lately, taking stuff to that house down the road that used to belong to the dentist guy Dean never cared much for.

“Down the street,” the boy answers. He could be Dean’s age or he could be a little older – but there isn’t anyone around Dean’s age along this street, the closest being Marie-Ann who’s in high school and hot and doesn’t think of Dean as anything more than a potential babysitting gig. “We just moved here.”

“Cool,” Dean says, though it’s more to fill the empty space than anything else. The other boy still looks unsettled, which hey, Dean can relate since it’s hard starting out at a new place. Even so, it’s always worthwhile to test the new kid and see what he’s made of, so he raises his gun and cocks the pump. “You’re supposed to die. When people shoot you in the chest, you die.”

Sam would’ve rolled his eyes and shoved the muzzle away; Victor probably would’ve brought out his finger guns and shot Dean in the head. This guy, however, just frowns with deepening irritation and asks, “Why?”

“What do you mean, why?” Dean snorts. “You just do. Don’t you know anything?”

The boy bristles. Dean means that word exactly: bristles, because he’s reminded exactly of the way Grandma Deanna’s evil cat reacts whenever Dean grabs its tail. Dean’s almost surprised that the boy doesn’t spit-hiss at him and says instead, “I know lots of things. I’m very smart and you should show me some respect.”

Dean almost laughs at that. It figures that the only person on their street his age would be a weirdo freak. It’s even worth voicing out loud, so he says, “You’re so weird. Come on, I’ve got a treehouse, we can hang out while waiting for your shirt to dry.”

“You have a treehouse.” It’s not phrased as a question at all, but it’s hard to miss the way the boy’s eyes widen – this time with curiosity, not shock – and it’s enough that Dean feels that familiar surge of pride over having an awesome pad.

“It’s bad-ass,” Dean says, grinning. “Want to see?”

“Yes.”

So Dean leads the way, occasionally glancing over and somehow not at all surprised that every time he does the other boy just stares right back, like maybe that’s normal behavior wherever the hell he’s from. He’s not threatening, though, just strange, and as Dean starts climbing the ladder up into the treehouse, he figures that he can work with strange.

“It’s Dean, by the way,” he says, once he’s pulled himself over the threshold and tossed his gun at a safe corner. He glances over the edge, curious to see if the other kid can handle the rope ladder.

As it turns out, he can. “I’m Castiel,” the boy says, and he’s smiling faintly at his own hands as he climbs, as though pleased by what their accomplishment. “My name is Castiel.”

Dean rolls that name around his head for a moment, and then shrugs. “Yeah, sure, why not.”