Title: Building Steam- Chapter Four
Author: Aithilin
Rating: G - PG?
Genre: Steampunk AU, pre-slash
Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Spoilers: None
Warnings: non-graphic violence, utter AU
Word Count: approx. 4,330 this section
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or series, and I am not making money from this.
Summary: Dean really just wants to get back to the sky.


Anna had already been taken for debriefing. Somewhere in the bowels of the ship, she would be giving their superiors a detailed image of the Winchesters and the way they seemed to run things. At least from the brief glimpse she received— which wasn't really indicative of anything other than that they weren't used to taking prisoners. In the meantime, Uriel fought with his self control to stave off the shivering long enough to appear dignified before Zachariah. But the frigid, thin air of a mountain peak with too little protection was a hard thing to force your body to forget. It was the air that seeped into bones, and he was becoming convinced that the small trembles under remembered cold would never fully leave him.

All the same, when the stocky form of Zachariah entered the sick bay— little more than a closet, really, now piled with wool blankets— the trembling stopped under the sheer force of Uriel's will. He snapped himself to attention and reviewed the man with the friendly smile coming in to hear what he has to say. Internal politics had set them at each other's throats— Uriel was poised to gain Zachariah's position should this whole scheme with the Winchesters fail.

"Report."

But for the moment, Zachariah was the one in command of the garrison.

"Castiel is in."

"C'mon, man," Dean knew that he was wheedling now; "you have to have something for me by now."

Three days in any one place was torture— the longest Dean had been grounded in months— and while he loved the Harvelle saloon, he was getting eager to head back to the sky. He liked the bar, and the odd sense of "home" that came with it, but he could never settle too long to enjoy it properly. He got Ash on the job because he hoped the man could get into places he couldn't. Usually this sort of thing was just getting shipping information and planned routes, but he had really been banking on this taking a day or two.

"I need to get back to the ship before the crew jumps, you know." It was added as an afterthought. The sort of incentive that he would have thought important if the roles were reversed. He really shouldn't have paid the ATC mechanic up front. Ellen may have had complete faith in Ash as a friend, mechanic, and the best customer this side of the trade winds, but Dean was less inclined to put his trust in a drunk willing to work freelance. Still, he liked the man as a friend, just not a reliable one.

The file— a bundle of papers copied and smuggled out of the few offices Ash had access to— landed with a less-than-thrilling thud on the bar as Ash slid onto his usual stool. "Got everything I need right here."

"Great." Deft hands flipped through the paperwork, seeing nothing more than ship-out orders, a list of personnel, and a single page with a picture of Castiel on it. No name, just the picture and a list of numbers. "Dude, you didn't even get his name."

"They don't do names anymore, Dean. But I got his ID number."

"So?"

Sam had the habit of looking at Dean like he was an idiot. It was a familiar expression and one which Dean figured he could have only gotten used to after so many years of his little brother using it. He wasn't prepared for Ash— the slouching, drawling, low-energy Ash— to give him the same look. It was off-putting.

"Numbers are everything, here. I can get his whole file in a week or two."

"I don't have a week, Ash. The crew-"

"You can run that ship with four people and a cook."

"But I can't board other ships with four people and a cook." Dean got up, leaving the file and its pile of numbers on the bar. "Look, get what you can and send the information to Bobby."

He knew that Ash wasn't happy about the extra work, or the expectations about it, but Dean was getting too anxious to really worry about it now. He wanted to get back to his baby, and it was looking like half a day's drive in the old bucket of rust Bobby had loaned him. It kicked up dirt that shouldn't be on the rough road, and every three hours he'd have to go into the engine and clear that dust and grime out of the more important bits.

But it worked, and for the long drive back to Bobby's place, it gave him time to think.

They had to get into the sky as soon as possible, and he wasn't going to burden Bobby down with the wayward Angel. There was no question that Castiel was going to come up with the Impala— it was easier to hide someone on a moving target, and it was his problem. Never mind that he wanted to get back to the sky— and back to some sense of normalcy— before the whole crew jumped ship and joined up with Gordon Walker or some other local captain.

By the time the car shuddered to a stop at the Singer Salvage yard, Dean was covered in dust, grime, and had a plan. He made a beeline around the heaps of twisted wreckage that were Bobby's pet projects and livelihood, and searched out where Sam was apparently taking notes on Castiel's wings while the Angel worked on a replica radio system for Bobby.

"Call the crew in from town; we're leaving at first light."

The sky was simple. It was always a rush to get airborne— a mix of balances and goodbyes, figuring out just how much weight they were carrying and if that meant they spent a week or two heading inland before setting out for the coast— but Dean loved it. He knew where he stood when it came to flying. Either the wind was with him, or it wasn't.

It was simple.

This running around, trying to look through sealed records and bribing informants was definitely not something Dean liked to do. He liked it when things were easy and open. He knew the trade routes, he knew how his crew operated, and he knew exactly how to do his job. And while lift off was always a scramble, once he could see the sky around him, Dean felt that he could relax.

Relaxing at the moment— once the route had been plotted and the supplies locked down— meant that he could indulge in the first pot of coffee of the newest journey.

"What is this?"

Not trusting the Angel with mingling in the crew just yet, Dean had kept Cas close enough to keep an eye on him. He still wasn't sure what to make of the other man, but he had always been of the mind that everyone deserved a chance. Now, though…

"It's a book." Cas was interrupting his coffee time.

"I can see that." Sometime between lift off and when Dean had settled into his easy routine, Cas had taken up a spot at the desk. It's not like there was anything special, or secret, out on display. "I didn't think you were the type to keep a journal."

"It's not mine." Tin cup in hand, Dean finally dragged himself away from the comfort of his bed to see exactly what Cas was looking at. "My father wrote it all."

A few pages— muddled with blueprints, snippets of writing, and a handful of pictures or locations— were turned as Dean watched. He had to admit that Cas seemed to appreciate what he was seeing. The journal was a wealth of information on the design of most ships in the ATC fleet, little histories of current trade routes, and even bits and pieces of gossip. Years ago, when he first inherited the journal, Dean had spent hours trying to memorize the information but still had to refer to it for the small details. Sam used it for his strategies, and Dean liked to get ideas for the mechanics.

Sipping his coffee, Dean had to admit that at least Cas seemed appreciative of the information.

"It's very extensive."

"It's useful."

"Do you mind if I look through it?"

"Sammy usually needs it, if you want to help him out."

"I'm sure I could be some use."