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one // mis-shapes

"I've told you. Sam and me are fine. Sam's top in everything he does at school, and me, I'm... I'm getting by. You don't need to worry about us."

Bobby rolled his eyes and patted Dean on the shoulder, quite clearly not putting up with any of his shit. "Son, I don't do things just because I need to do them. This is gonna help you and Sam."

"You sound like a fucking therapist," Dean grumbled.

"I know you don't love the idea, but think about Sam. He's top in everything now, but things'll get harder for him over the next few years, with his exams coming up. What did you say his goal was? Getting into Cambridge?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah, we stayed near there for a case with Dad and Sam fell in love with the place. Don't understand it myself. Me, I'm getting out of school after next year."

Bobby nodded. "I don't blame you, son. But this way, at least you'll have some decent qualifications. You know, in case you ever decide to do anything other than hunting."

Dean scoffed. He didn't think that was very likely, and he knew that Bobby didn't really believe it either, but for some reason the guy was trying to sell him on this plan. Dean had spent the past eleven years of his life, ever since his mother's death, being dragged around to different towns all over the UK by his father in hot pursuit of his mother's killer. They'd even gone to Europe for a couple of years, getting as far south as Venice, where Sam had learned passable Italian at the age of around eight, before realizing that they'd been led completely astray and heading back to London. And the whole thing meant that Sam and Dean had never stayed longer than half a term in a single school. Which Dean was fine with, really. It suited him, showing up and being the cool new kid who wore a leather jacket instead of whatever crappy blazer the school required, picking up a few of the good girls and turning them into rebels for a few weeks, leaving them to explain the situation to their parents after he was gone. And his grades weren't bad, not really. He passed most of his tests. He'd show up to take the GCSEs next year. Save him getting into any unnecessary trouble later. But he certainly wasn't in any rush to stick around.

Sam, though... Sam was a different matter. Sam was his weak spot, and Bobby knew that by appealing to this, he could convince Dean to do pretty much anything.

"Look, how about Sam goes? I'll stay with Dad and keep doing what I'm doing, and Sam can go get his own life."

Bobby raised an eyebrow, not having any of this. "The kid's eleven years old, and you're gonna send him off to boarding school on his own when he's never lived in one place for more than a couple months before? Dean, he's gonna need you. You'll be the only reminder he has of what things used to be like for him. I know Sam likes to act like he's all independent, but... he needs you. Don't you give me any crap telling me he doesn't."

Dean got up from the couch and loped over to Bobby's fridge, grabbing a beer and opening the lid with the edge of the counter, before flopping back down where he'd been before. Bobby didn't protest.

"He'll be better off without me, even if he doesn't think so. Do better at his fancy school without me dragging him down."

"Then stay out of his business. And at least he'll know you're there for if he ever needs you. Think about it, boy. Would you ever forgive yourself if he needed you while he was there, and he had no way of getting in contact?"

"Stop guilt tripping me, man," Dean scowled, turning up the volume on the football and pretending he gave a shit about what was happening on the screen.

Bobby had the audacity to laugh at him. "You know I'll do whatever it takes to get you to agree."

Dean snorted and shook his head. "Boarding school, though? Can you actually imagine me at a boarding school? Be honest with me here, cause I've thought about it and I've tried to see it and I can't. Those kids care about doing work and they have ponies and when their families go to Italy it's on a first class flight and they stay in a fancy ass hotel. And that's not me. You know it's not."

Bobby stood up, grabbing a beer for himself, too. "It's one year of your life. Soon as you finish your GCSEs, you're out of there. I'm tired of arguing with you, kid, so do this for me?"

Dean didn't respond. He stared blankly at the television, where twenty-two tiny men in brightly colored shirts were kicking around an even tinier ball across a wide expanse of green field. Fucking boarding school. He wasn't sure how or why Bobby had got it into his head that it was a good idea to send off applications in Sam and Dean's names. And as much as he liked the idea of getting away from his father for a year (not that he'd ever admit it) there was no way in hell that the prospect of boarding school was worth it.

"You mentioned this to Sam yet?" If Sam was already excited about the idea, then Dean wouldn't have a choice. He couldn't take that away from his little brother. But if this was still just between him and Bobby, he might still have a chance of getting out of it.

"Nope. Not your dad, either. Just between you and me right now."

"So if you don't manage to convince me, this stays between the two of us? Nobody else ever finds out?"

"That's right." Bobby sounded far less concerned than Dean liked.

Dean thought back to his first day in Year Seven. One of the older kids had cornered him behind the science labs and told him that the headteacher had ordered that every new kid should get punched in the nose, and that it was Dean's turn today. Dean had grabbed his arm and had the kid, who was at least twice his size, in a headlock before the other kid even knew what was happening to him, and he hadn't been bothered again. Least, not until his first day at another new school. Or the first day after that, or after that, or after that...

And it wasn't like Dean was under any illusions that kids at a private school would be any better. Sam could easily get laughed at for his Cockney accent, or the shabby uniform that he was bound to have, or the fact that his family didn't even own one house let alone two, or, hell, even the fact that he was tiny for an eleven year old. But if Sam got to stay in the same place, then that would all only happen to him once. And if he figured out how to get the other kids to leave him alone, then once he managed to earn that respect, he wouldn't have to deal with any of that crap again.

Dean pictured Sam's face when he found out he'd get to do things like piano lessons and weekend sports matches and maybe even field trips. He could see in his mind the exact smile Sam would make, a kind of nervous grin that twitched at the corners, betraying his childish excitement. It was the kind of grin Sam usually only got when he talked about things that were a long way in the future, like getting away and going to university, but this? This would be happening in a couple of months.

Dean chugged the second half of his beer.

"Fine. It ain't like my life is all that great, I guess it can't get much worse even if I am surrounded by a bunch of posh twats all the time. You talk to Sam, and if he wants to go, and if he wants me to go with him, then I'll do it. Probably gonna fucking live to regret it, but I'll do it."

Bobby grinned and fetched him another beer from the fridge. "I knew I could count on you, son."

Dean took a swig and savored the taste, knowing that his chances of sneaking alcohol into some kind of dorm room were pretty low, completely dreading the next year of his life. "You owe me."

"Yeah, we'll see about that."

Bobby still sounded way too cheerful for his own damn good.

--

Sam physically bounced on the train down to Sussex, and Dean wasn't entirely sure how he kept up the energy for as long as he did, but somehow the kid just didn't seem to get tired. He stared out of the window with a relentless grin on his face, and every so often he turned to Dean with a new idea of something he was going to do while he was at school - everything from "I'm going to read every single book in the whole library!" to "I'm going to find a friend to go exploring with in the woods on weekends!" Each statement was punctuated with a nervous giggle and an adjustment of his tattered tie, which was grey and purple striped, worn with the required white school shirt, purple blazer and grey school trousers.. Dean had his too, except his grey school trousers were grey skinny jeans, and his white school shirt was actually just a plain white T-shirt. But still, he was wearing a blazer for the first time in his life, so nobody out there could say that he wasn't making an effort.

"That's awesome, Sammy," Dean replied to everything Sam told him, trying his best to smile and act like he was excited for his brother. Because he was. He thought it was great that Sam was going to go off and have such a good time at school, but the closer the two of them got to what Dean saw as essentially a prison, the more terrified he became. He hated life with his dad, but at least he knew what he was doing. Here, he was going to be so far outside of his comfort zone with no real hope of escaping the place, and he was genuinely scared of what he was walking into.

Sam slumped, looking upset. "You're not excited."

Dean turned to look at him and scoffed. "I don't know what you're talking about. Course I'm excited. You're gonna have all your adventures, and make your friends, so I'm excited for you."

"Yeah, but what about you? Don't you have plans for what you're gonna do at school? You're finally away from Dad, you get to make your own decisions!"

Sam looked so hopeful. He wanted to hear about what Dean was doing just as much as he wanted to talk about himself, and it hurt Dean's heart to think about how damn good his brother was. Much better than Dean had ever been at that age.

"Well, since you mention it. I've got plenty of plans. I'm gonna get a date for the dance, for one thing. I'm gonna have sleepovers in my room after dark, and midnight feasts when I'm not really allowed. You can't do that, though, I don't want you getting into trouble. I'm gonna join a club, too, gonna be good at something so that everyone knows who I am. Then you can tell everyone in your year that I'm your brother and nobody will ever give you any shit. How's that sound, Sammy?"

Sam smiled and nodded, taken in by the lies Dean had spouted from vague memories of a television show he'd seen years ago. "Yeah. Yeah, that sounds good."

He kept quiet for the rest of the journey, apparently tired out from all his babbling earlier on. Dean pulled out his phone and started playing a bunch of dumb games to pass the time better, glancing up to check on Sammy every few seconds, making sure he was okay. Sam's eyes drifted shut and he snoozed against the wall of the train, and Dean got his ticket out for him when the ticket collector came round, so that nobody would have to wake him up.

And then, just as the sun started to draw in in the early evening, the two of them arrived in Sussex.

Dean shook his little brother's shoulder. "Sammy, wake up."

Sam opened his eyes and blinked a few times, frowning out of the window. "Is it morning?"

"Nope, not morning. It's, uh, seven thirty. And we're in Sussex, we gotta grab our stuff and go to school." Dean was getting better at stopping his mouth from curling around the word 'school'.

"Oh!" Sam jumped to his feet, bouncing. Dean wished there was anything in the world that could get that kind of reaction out of him. Sam grabbed his suitcase from the rack, stumbling a little under its weight, and followed Dean off the train.

There was nobody there to meet them, and Dean didn't have the money for a taxi, so they had to walk the half mile stretch up to the school. After just a couple of streets, Sam began to struggle under the weight of his suitcase in his small hands, so Dean took it from him, swinging one case in each hand as they climbed the hill towards the school. They didn't speak. Just kept walking.

--

"Hi, I'm Dean Winchester, this is Sam Winchester?" Dean asked at the front desk of the school. He definitely wasn't shaking, and he definitely wasn't intimidated by all the fancy architecture around him. This main building was made of old, crumbling red bricks and pillars carved into elaborate shapes. They'd had to walk through a huge wooden archway to get to the building, and along some of those little stone things that covered fancy driveways. To either side were huge, sloping bright green fields that shone in the sunset.

Overall? The place was too perfect. According to Bobby, there were about two thousand kids in the whole school. This didn't look like it was home to two thousand kids, it looked like it was some kind of historic site, where people just came to visit for a day, tiptoeing across the fields, making sure not to disturb the flowers.

The man glanced down his registers, frowning, and for a moment Dean thought he was going to get turned away. That would surely be the only thing in the world worse then being let in.

"You're both late," he scowled.

"Sorry. We've been on a train all day, it just got in."

"No excuse. Many pupils took the train here, and still managed to be here half an hour ago. What have the two of you been doing, stocking up on sweets?"

Dean shook his head. "Look, I ain't got time for this. Can you just let us in?"

The man's eyebrows shot up into his forehead, and Dean flushed bright red. He had to work on how he spoke or else he was probably going to get that kind of reaction from everyone he came across.

"Very well. Dean, you're going to be residing in Doyle house, Samuel, you'll be in Carroll. The houses are located out of this door. Follow the stone path round to the left, and you'll come to the boys' buildings. Go straight there, please, as the housemasters have better things to do than sign people in all night, as I'm sure you can imagine."

Dean shrugged. He couldn't really imagine what else a housemaster did. But he wasn't stupid enough to actually say that out loud. "Yeah, alright. I mean, thanks. I mean, thankyou, sir. Sir?"

The man didn't even deign to respond to him, so Dean just picked up his two suitcases and headed out of the indicated door, pulling a face once his back was turned.

"Wow," Sam breathed, the moment they got outside.

Dean had to admit that it was kind of wow .

The two of them stood on some sort of balcony, a mid height stone wall at chest height stopping them from tumbling over the edge. Far below, rolling fields stretched for miles, some of them covered in late summer flowers and trees, some of them plain and green and lush, looking like nobody had walked on them for years. Over the wall, the bright pinks and oranges of the evening sky painted the whole scene, and it seemed like the colours here were so much more intense than they were anywhere else in the world. Dean wasn't one for beauty, but even he had to admit that this was one of the most beautiful sights he'd ever sen.

"I live here?" Sam asked, looking around in reverence.

"You look like Harry Potter," Dean snorted. "You know. When he gets to Hogwarts for the first time, and he can't believe all the magic is real, all that shit."

"It does feel magic here," Sam nodded, beaming, his smile even brighter than the sun as it dipped down over the horizon.

Dean rolled his eyes and shook his head, moving in the direction he'd been told by the man behind the desk to go. He'd already been told not to be late, and he really didn't want to get into any more trouble. He just wanted to keep his head down and get out of here as soon as he possibly can.

He liked the fact that Sam saw magic in the place, but personally, he couldn't really see any. It was all surface. Yeah, there was a pretty view out here, and it was way nicer to look at than any of the old concrete buildings he'd been to school in, but in the end, what did any of that matter if he was fucking miserable?

Sam followed him, looking a little dejected. The path led them round the back of the main building and slightly downhill, into an area where eight or so large houses stood around a central courtyard. A few boys around Dean's age were kicking a football around, a few more perched on walls and shared headphones, chatting and listening to music. From a distance, they looked pretty normal, the same kinds of kids that Dean was used to hanging out with. He doubted that was actually true, but it was nice to pretend.

As they got closer, they saw that each of the houses looked a little different - they hadn't been built identically, they were made of old stone and they were all unique. More to the point, they all had names over the door, and Dean scanned them, looking for the ones that he and Sam had been put in.

They found Sam's first; one of the first two they came to, and he tried to push open the door. It didn't move. Dean pushed harder, assuming the door was just stuck, ramming his whole body into it.

A man came dashing through the hallway to the door, where he swung it open. Dean collapsed, having been halfway through a really good shove, crumpling on the floor in the entryway.

"Excuse me, young man, but what exactly do you think you're doing here?"

Dean scrambled to his feet. "I've got Sammy, uh, Samuel Winchester, he's s'posed to be living here, I came to drop him off and show him around and get him settled in his room and everything, but the door was stuck, and-"

"The door wasn't stuck. The door requires a passcode to enter, one which we will be giving to your brother, but not to you. We don't tend to permit the older boys to visit the younger boys' houses. We feel that it would be inappropriate to encourage friendships between the different years. Therefore, I will be taking Samuel from here, and you should head to your own house. You should be getting to bed soon, ready for your lessons in the morning."

The mysterious man, who Dean assumed was the housemaster, took Sam by the shoulder and guided him into the building.

"Bye, S-" Dean tried to say, but the door banged shut behind him before he had a chance. Sam glanced over his shoulder and gave Dean a small wave, his eyes wide and a little scared for the first time. More than anything in the world, Dean wanted to chase after him and make him feel better. But he couldn't do that, he couldn't risk getting yelled at again.

He turned and ducked his head, shuffling out of the house and along the pathway, looking for his own.

"Oi!" came a whistle

Dean turned. That sounded like a girl's voice, that did - the first one he'd heard since he got here. He knew it was a co-ed school, knew there would be girls in his lessons and everything, but he'd assumed it was just going to be the boys down here.

But, no, that was definitely a girl. She wore a tight black skirt that showed off her long legs and a soft grey sweater that did nothing to hide her cleavage, knotted at her waist so that it showed off a small strip of stomach, and her soft brown hair cascaded around her shoulders. Dean couldn't stop the smile that spread over his face, or his appreciative nod. "Hi there."

The girl sashayed over, holding out a hand to shake. "Bela Talbot. Year Twelve. Are you new this year?"

Dean nodded and took her hand. "Uh, yeah, I'm Dean. Winchester. Year Eleven. Just got here bout a half hour ago."

She drew her hand back in surprise, before he'd even finished shaking, and it didn't take a huge leap to guess that it was his accent that had shocked her that way. "It's, uh, nice to meet you, Dean," she said, in the same way that other people would say, 'I truly hope I never see you again in my life.'.

"You too," he nodded awkwardly. "Well, I should-"

"Hey, Luke!" she called over her shoulder, and a boy broke apart from the crowd playing football. He was blond and looked a little bit smug, though Dean supposed that pretty much everyone round here looked kind of like that.

"What's up, Bela?" he asked as he jogged over to the two of them.

"We've got a new student here. He's from - where are you from, Dean?" she asked, all fake polite.

"Uh." Dean didn't actually have a decent answer prepared for that question. "Kind of all over, really. My dad travelled round a lot. Just recently we were up in Coventry. That's kind of near Manchester."

Luke laughed. "The north? You're from the north? I don't think we've ever had one of those before, have we, sweetie?"

Bela shook her head and took his hand, swinging it between them and giving him a sickly sweet smile. "He's in Year Eleven, so a little below us, but I'm sure it'd still be worth the two of us keeping an eye on him, wouldn't it?"

Luke nodded. "Of course. You know me, always keeping an eye out for the younger students, aren't I?"

Dean was pretty certain he'd never heard anything sound quite so ominous in all his life, but he revised that opinion fairly quickly when Luke kept speaking. "Luke Novak here. Year Thirteen, Head Boy. And it appears that you've already met my girlfriend, Bela."

Dean nodded.

"He's a legacy," Bela smiled proudly. "His brother Michael was Head Boy here two years ago, and he's got two other brothers and a sister here. All going to take the position as well, of course."

Luke chuckled, pretending to be modest. "I'm sure you yourself are well placed to take the Head Girl position next year, love."

Bela smirked proudly, but otherwise continued as though she hadn't heard him. "Actually, one of his brothers is in your year. Isn't that right, Luke? You should have a word with Castiel. Tell him to look out for Dean here, especially if they're in some of the same classes. Wouldn't that be nice?"

More of them. More guys like this to deal with. That felt like the absolute last thing that Dean needed right now. He rubbed the side of his head. He just wanted to go to bed right now, he didn't want to have to deal with any of this nightmarish shit any longer. "Well, thanks for your help, guys, that all sounds great. But you've probably got a lot to do right now, what with your A levels coming up and everything, and I should really head off. Gotta sign into my house before it gets too late."

"Oh, of course," Luke nodded, clutching a hand to his chest, pretending to be innocent. "I didn't mean to keep you. Wouldn't want you to get into trouble on my behalf. I'll speak to Castiel tonight, and best of luck in your first day of classes. You'll need it."

Dean wanted to retaliate, but based on everything he'd seen so far, Luke was probably right. So he turned, heading further down the rows of houses until he reached the one right at the end, and of course his house was the furthest possible from Sam's. It wasn't like it was the first time he'd ever spent time away from Sam. Sometimes one of them would stay with Bobby for a bit while the other went off with John, and they'd be on opposite sides of the country for a few days. Still, Sam had never felt further away than he did right now.

Dean didn't make the mistake this time of trying to get through the door. Instead, he looked around for a buzzer and waited to be let in. The man who came to the door was decidedly nicer seeming than the one who'd come to Sam's, but that could have just been because this one didn't think that his house was currently getting broken into - stuff like that did tend to make a difference.

"Hi, I'm sorry I'm late, my name's Dean Winchester, I just started here, I'm supposed to be living in this house, I was told to come here, you can yell at me or give me the cane if you want to, but please, I've been on a train all day so make it quick because I really want to get some sleep at some point, alright?"

Dean waited for the tirade, but none came. Instead, the man chuckled.

"So you're Dean Winchester, are you? I'm glad. I was worried that you'd decided not to show up in the end. It's very nice to meet you, son."

He stretched out his hand and smiled at Dean, and this guy seemed like he was actually genuine, nothing like the false niceness of Luke and Bela.

Dean shook the hand tentatively. It was big and warm in his.

"Let me take your case, we'll head up to your room and we'll get you settled in. Your roommate's already there, and the two of you should have some time to get to know each other before an early night. How does that sound?"

Dean nodded, dumbfounded, sure that there had to be some kind of a catch here. The guy couldn't actually be nice , could he?

Fortunately, the housemaster didn't seem put off by the fact that Dean wasn't really saying anything. "And we don't use the cane here at Woodcreek. In fact, the cane and any kind of corporal punishment were outlawed in England in 1998. The worst thing that's going to happen to you for being out too late is that you'll be confined to the house for a couple of days, not allowed to go outside and socialize aside from your lessons. So you have absolutely nothing to worry about, and even less if you stick to the rules."

Dean nodded again. He hadn't really been serious about the cane, but it wouldn't have surprised him entirely. It was still a relief to find out that it wouldn't happen.

They made their way up two flights of stairs and walked halfway down the corridor to a room with a simple wooden door and two nameplates stuck to the front. Dean's was the lower down one, and the higher up one said FERGUS CROWLEY.

The housemaster rapped on the door, and then pushed it open.

"Good evening, Fergus. This is your new roommate, Dean Winchester."

The boy stood up to shake Dean's hand, as though he were on a spring. Dean was fast learning that this seemed to be some kind of instinctive reaction for people here. They shook each other's hands whether they wanted to or not. Dean could probably be covered in literal garbage and people would still shake his hand, because it was the polite thing to do.

"It's nice to meet you, Dean," the boy said with a fake smile, nodding to the housemaster too. "Thanks for showing him up."

"Well, Dean, I hope you get settled in. I'll leave your suitcase by your wardrobe, no rush to unpack tonight if you're tired and want a rest."

"Thanks," Dean nodded, far too tired to think about anything else. As soon as the door shut behind him, he collapsed onto his bare mattress, letting out a long breath.

"God, I can't believe you showed up. Had a bet going with a couple of friends of mine that you wouldn't bother to come. Was hoping I'd get my room to myself this year. You know, I still could... that's actually not a bad idea, is it?"

"What?" Dean frowned, only half listening to what the other boy was saying in his Scottish accent.

"This is my room. I was here first. I've lived in this room for a year already. And if I don't want you in it, I don't have to."

Dean sat up and stared at him. "What the hell you talking about, man? This is our room. There's two beds and my name's on the door."

Fergus opened the door and grabbed at Dean's name plate, ripping it off. "Not any more it's not."

Dean stared at him. "What the fuck, dude?"

He was way too tired to deal with this. He was even too tired to think about opening his suitcase and getting out some kind of sheet for his bed. He grabbed the uncovered bedding and lay down on the mattress, closing his eyes and feeling his muscles relax. He didn't even notice Fergus leave the room, or the soft click of the door behind him - or at least, not until the guy reappeared.

"Alright, come with me. I'll show you where you'll be living for the next year."

"Do we have to do this now?" Dean mumbled. Yeah, the tour would be good, but it could easily wait til morning. On second thoughts, he did have to take a piss, and it would probably be a better idea to do that now than to wake up at three in the morning desperate for the toilet but with no idea where it was. So he stood up and followed Fergus out of the room.

Fergus led him down the hall and then pointed to another door. "There you go."

Dean stared at it. He'd stuck Dean's name plate onto a door that had previously been bare. Had there been a spare room in the corridor? Was he allowed to just do that, move people around like that? Dean didn't really care, so long as he got to go to sleep.

He pushed open the door. Inside was the bathroom - a long row of four or five toilet cubicles on one side, four or five shower stalls on the other side, with the sinks and the mirrors in the center. Not a bed in sight. And, of course, his name on the door.

"Yeah, very funny," Dean said as he turned back around, unable to put any emotion into his tone because of how goddamn tired he was. "Great joke, I have to sleep in the bathroom, excuse me while I don't laugh."

Fergus wasn't there.

Dean walked back down the hall to his room and tugged on the door handle. It didn't budge. Clearly the door had been locked from the inside.

He rapped sharply on the door, waiting for some kind of response. None came.

He glanced down. His duvet, still uncovered, had been left on the floor outside, along with a pillow. Nothing else. Dean kept banging for several minutes, until his knuckles turned bright red and raw, but it seemed like there wasn't going to be any kind of an answer from Fergus.

Finally, a head stuck out of another door across the hall. "Sorry, but could you keep the noise down? I'm taking fourteen GCSEs, I really need to sleep before lessons start tomorrow."

Dean turned and came face to face with a tiny Asian kid. "Oh, fuck, I'm so sorry. Wait, fourteen? You've got to be mental. Does everyone here do that?"

The kid smiled. "No, most people do ten or eleven, but my parents are insisting that I do fourteen. Then I have to do my A levels in one year so that I can start medical school at sixteen. I'm already a year ahead."

Dean blinked. "You're messing with me. Please, tell me you're messing with me."

"I'm not messing with you," the boy frowned. "Kevin Tran. You must be new here."

This time, Dean figured out that he was supposed to shake the boy's hand before it was even offered. They shook, and the boy seemed nice enough even though he was clearly a little unstable if he was voluntarily doing that much work, so Dean tried to ask him for help. "Uh, yeah, I'm new, and my roommate's locked me out of the room, that's why I was making noise, cause I was trying to get him to let me back in. And he won't, so is there any chance I could stay with you tonight?"

Kevin pulled a face. "Sorry, no can do. The place is already full, Garth's got so many stuffed animals that they pretty much take over the whole room, there's no space. Sides, we all have to go through it at some point. At least your roommate left you with your bedding. I started here two years ago and I was rooming with Alastair back then, I'm sure you'll meet him soon enough. He made me sleep on the floor in the toilets without any blankets. And he let off a stinkbomb."

"Fuck, man, I'm so sorry." Dean didn't really know what else to say. "Kinda thought it was just me that had to put up with this crap. You're telling me it's everyone?"

Kevin raised an eyebrow. "Everyone who's different."

Their eyes met, and neither of them smiled, but there was a kind of mutual understanding there all the same, and it made Dean feel a tiny bit better about his situation. Just a tiny bit, but still. It was something.

"Alright. Thanks. Sorry to bother you, I guess I'll go lie down. Corridor's gotta be better than bathroom, right?"

"Hate to say it, but bathroom really is your best bet. Corridors you'll get yelled at if someone patrols, and the stairway's not heated so you'll freeze to death in the night. Bathroom, at least it's warm and nobody's gonna disturb you there."

Dean laughed hollowly, and he wondered what his life had come to that he was discussing the relative merits of the bathroom over the stairwell for sleep purposes. "Thanks. I probably don't sound all that sincere right now, but thanks."

"It'll just be for tonight. He'll get bored by tomorrow," Kevin promised by way of a parting thought, and then disappeared back into his room in a flash of blue dressing gown. Dean wasn't sure if he should believe him or if Kevin was just trying to make him feel better about the situation, but he appreciated the thought all the same. He grabbed his bedding and hauled it down the corridor to the bathroom, where he rolled himself into a burrito and curled up on the hard floor, trying to block his eyes against the bright harsh lights of overhead (he hadn't been able to find any kind of lightswitch) and attempting to get some kind of sleep before the morning.

--