A/N: Wow, I can't believe how long it's been. I thought I would take a break for a few months and it turned into almost a year. I guess these things happen when one of the characters you're shipping goes BATSHIT CRAZY AND THEN DISAPPEARS FOREVER! *sob* I just kept waiting and waiting for things between Dean and Cas to turn around, for an episode to inspire me to write something absolutely silly and... it never happened.
SO! Like any good damsel in distress waiting on a Prince Charming who never arrives, I have decided to take my fate into my own hands and manufacture scenarios which bring Dean and Cas together. That's right, folks - for the first time ever I'm going FULL AU.
Of course, this AU is heavily influenced by the season 4 episode "It's a Terrible Life" and the season 5 episode "The End". Basically, I'm taking Dean Smith from Terrible Life (with a little more normal Dean and Lisa's Dean sprinkled in), putting him next door to a Cas who is closer to Hippie Cas from The End than Cas the Holy Tax Accountant, and letting the magic happen. It's a world where the Winchesters were never hunters and Cas was never an angel, but they're still so far from normal that it's not even funny.
It's been awhile, so I hope you like it. It's short, because... yeah. But more is coming! Please comment because I love you and I need you to prove you love me too.
Dean's neighbor is a photographer.
Dean learned this because of the mail. Most people get to know their neighbors because they see a moving van and they peek furtively between the blinds, and it's only civil to mosey toward the fence and introduce yourself and say hey, how you doin', what brings you to our neck of the woods, I'm having a barbecue, bring macaroni salad, grab a Bud and stay awhile. And this was the case with most of Dean's neighbors when he moved in.
But the house to the left of Dean's? At first, he wasn't even sure anybody lived there. It looked dark, empty. No car in the driveway. The blue exterior was clean and new, and the lawn was neat and green, but still – something about the house was… hollow. He couldn't put his finger on it, but somehow Dean felt as though the house had been recently sold, and the realtor had just yesterday stopped by to yank the wooden sign from the front lawn.
He asked Jeff about it at the barbecue. Jeff just scratched his sandy beard and looked towards the blue house. "No, somebody lives there. I've only met him once," he said. "I don't even know his name. He keeps to himself. But I see him sometimes. Mostly at night."
Laura leaned in, her mouth drawn tight like a lemon pucker. "I think he might be a drug dealer," she whispered. "There are men that drive out here, and… they look shady."
Jeff laughed. "Right, or maybe he's a vampire. I've heard they're popular these days."
Dean just drank his beer and catalogued the information. It wasn't his business, anyways, so long as this guy didn't blow up his meth lab and take Dean's house with him. In fact, he didn't even think about the guy for another week, until one cloudy gray day when he checked his mailbox and discovered a letter that was not addressed to him.
James Novak, the envelope said, followed by the address next door. The return address was from Sacramento.
Dean took the letter, walked up the flagstones to his neighbor's house, and rang the doorbell. He stood and waited, noting - not for the first time - just how nondescript the place was. He chewed his lip and rocked on his heels.
Finally, the door opened, swinging inward into the darkness.
A man stepped forward. He was a little shorter than Dean, with short black hair and clear blue eyes that squinted in the gray sunlight. He had a thin look about him; wiry, with pronounced cheekbones. He was in sweatpants and a stained cotton t-shirt and barefoot. He stared at Dean.
Dean held up the letter. "I got your mail."
The man peered harder at him, not even looking at the letter. When he spoke, his voice was surprisingly gravelly and rough. "I have a mailbox."
Dean flushed. Stupid. Why hadn't he thought of that? Then he did what he always did when he felt nervous: he grinned and chuckled. "Well, aren't you just a ball of sunshine!" he remarked brightly. "My bad, just trying to be neighborly…"
The man started then, blinking and pressing his mouth flat. "You are my neighbor?"
Dean couldn't help but huff a breathy laugh and say, "Well jeez, don't sound so disappointed about it." He extended his right hand. "I'm Dean. I work in sales. I'm your new neighbor."
The man looked at his hand for a moment, and then shook it. He took the letter from Dean. "I'm Castiel. I'm a photographer. I've lived here for two years."
Dean stopped, feeling the heat rise to his face again. "Wait, your name isn't James Novak?"
Castiel slid his thumb under the sealed lip of the envelope. "Legally speaking, it is," he explained. "But a person's true name is more powerful than any government document. My name is Castiel."
Dean very nearly rolled his eyes before he caught himself. "Right."
Castiel took out the papers and scanned the contents of the letter. "You can go now."
"You're welcome," Dean retorted, turning and walking off the porch.
"Dean!" Castiel called after him.
Dean turned around.
Castiel stood with one foot out the door, one hand gripping the frame and the letter crumpled in the other. "Your aura is very orange," he said. Then he stepped inside and closed the door.
Dean stood there for several seconds, trying to puzzle out what the fuck that meant.