The first thing you have to know about this is that I've never written SPN fic before.
The second thing you have to know about this is that this is the single most cliche story I've ever written and I would be very surprised if it hadn't been done before. That being said, I like the way it's coming along so far. I've got about 15k words written already, and I think I'm about halfway done. This is a rough-ish draft. Like, rougher than sandpaper but not exactly asphalt either. It's named after a song by the band Tallhart that provided pretty much all of the inspiration for it you should look it up it's great. And that's pretty much it. Hope you like it. If you don't, tell me why. That's the whole reason I'm publishing it here.
Rated M for sex later on and language all of the fucking time.
"Catholic school?" Sam yells, outraged. "You've got to be fucking kidding me! We're not even Catholic." The fourteen-year-old's hair flops in his reddening face and he angrily pushes it back.
"Watch your language," Dean chides. In all honestly, he couldn't give less of a fuck what kind of language comes out of his little brother's mouth. Dean's just trying to control his own anger, which is visible none the less. He crosses his arms over his chest and stares straight ahead at the grainy screen of their hotel room's antique TV. It's tuned to some mindless cartoon that neither of the Winchester boys finds even mildly entertaining, but changing the channel would require getting up and physically turning the knob and neither of them is in the mood for that right now, their dad's recent announcement still hanging thick in the air.
"This has to be the dumbest thing Dad has ever done," Sam complains. Dean thinks almost immediately of several things their dad has done much stupider than sending them to Catholic school for a semester- for instance, being a travelling salesman as well as a single dad- but he doesn't say that. Instead, Dean does the only thing he knows how to do on the not infrequent occasions when his life turns to shit. He jokes.
"Come on Sammy it's not all that bad!" he assures his brother with a charming smile that's as shallow as an inflatable kiddie pool. "Those Catholic school girl uniforms? Dude, we'll basically be living inside a porno."
"Dean," Sam says, "It's an all-boys school."
For a minute, the room is silent apart from the dull buzz of the muted television while the older Winchester allows this new information to sink in. Then Dean curses loudly and gives up on trying to defend his father, because John can miss as many goddamn Christmases as he wants, or move them into as many shitty motels as his salary will allow, but sending Dean Winchester to a school with no girls is crossing a line that should never, ever be crossed.
Dean had never been good at making friends. He's not like Sam, who seems to attract bromance like flies. Guys don't like Dean. They tend to see his good looks and charming personality as a threat rather than endearing, and usually Dean's okay with that because he's off fucking their girlfriends anyway. Hell, he deserves it. But without girls, what is the goddamn point of going to school? Dean really can't see it.
"Well, maybe the nuns will be hot," he jokes, but it's half-hearted. Sam rolls his eyes.
"Doesn't it bother you that dad is just dumping us off at some boarding school though? Catholic or all-boys or not, whatever. It's like he doesn't want anything to do with us anymore." Dean can see in his brother's eyes that he's really upset about this and it damn near breaks his heart. To Dean this betrayal was inevitable, it's just like all the times John's left them in hotel rooms for weeks without even calling, just on a larger scale. Dean's a senior in high school, he can deal. But to Sam, Dean realizes with a pang, this is the last nail in the coffin of his hope that maybe one day their dad would settle down with a job somewhere and they could have a normal life. Dean remembers when that last nail was pounded in for him, and all of a sudden he wants to hug Sam and tell him that it gets better, because it does, once the hope is gone, once there's nothing left of your childhood to take away. Instead, Dean pats his brother on the shoulder and gets up from the bed to grab a lukewarm beer from the table. By the time he falls asleep under the gentle buzz of drunkenness Sam is already snoring at his side.
"What do you mean we can't be roommates?" Dean all but screams at the beaky nun in front of him. She calmly steeples her fingers atop the wooden desk and gives Dean a look that says "Good sir I respectfully implore you to calm the fuck down," and it pisses him the hell off. In the chair beside him, Sam stares sadly at his knees. At a loss, Dean looks to John for help.
"Listen, Sister, isn't there anything we can do about this? The boys have been through a lot together and I'd really be more comfortable with them being here if they could room together," John says, leaning forward across the sister's desk and turning his salesman charm up to full blast. For a second, Dean is almost moved enough to forgive his dad for leaving them here.
"I'm sorry Mr. Winchester, but our rules are quite strict here at Our Lady of the Stars. We house our students based on their grade levels. To make an exception, even for the purest of intentions, would make room for anarchy. I'm sure you understand." Admonished, John leans back in his seat with a defeated sigh. "Listen," the nun says softly, glancing to the side as if watching for eavesdroppers. "I can give you this." She slides a form of some sort across the desk and Dean takes it. "It's an alternate housing appeal. As headmistress, I am in charge of all initial housing placements, but your counselor, Sister Ellen, might be a little more… lenient. A couple of days from now, if you're unhappy with your roommate you can fill it out and bring it to her office. If you've got a good enough case you might be considered for alternative housing. But you must have a better reason than 'because I want to,' do I make myself clear?" Dean nods and flashes the headmistress a small smile which she doesn't return.
"Well then!" She says pleasantly, getting up from her desk. "Let's see our rooms, shall we?"
Sam's roommate is a small, gangly boy named Ash with too long hair and a spacy but kind personality. He and Sam hit it off almost immediately, babbling nonstop about some new videogame Ash is playing. When John clears his throat Sam stops talking long enough to give his dad a small hug goodbye and Dean notes with relief that there's almost no resentment in his eyes when he does it.
Dean and Sam make plans to meet up for dinner, though Sam is visibly distracted by whatever handheld gaming system Ash is showing him. Then the headmistress leads the way to Dean's room.
Dean spends the entire walk up to the senior floor of the dorm building silently trying to work out exactly how to say goodbye to his dad, and whether he will do so angrily or not, and whether to hug him or shake his hand or decline to participate in physical contact all together. By the time they've reached room 416 Dean's decided to be cordial about their farewell but not too warm. After all, Dean's a realist, and part of him thinks this very well might be the last he ever sees of John. He doesn't want this goodbye to be something that either of them dwells on for very long.
The headmistress gives a short rap on the door before pushing it open. At one of the room's two desks sits a slender, pale boy. He sits up straight as the three of them walk into the dorm, his deep blue eyes passing briefly over John and the headmistress before resting for a barely discernible second longer on Dean. The two make eye contact and for a fraction of a second there's a look on the other boy's face that Dean can't place. But then it's gone, and he looks back at the headmistress with a smile that even Dean has to admit is charming as hell.
"Sister," he says with a small nod.
"Dean, Mr. Winchester, this is Castiel. Castiel, this is Dean Winchester and his father. Dean will be your new roommate," the headmistress says. There's certain reluctance in the way she says it, like she's apologizing for some reason, and for a second Dean is offended. But if Castiel is anywhere near as disappointed with his new roommate as the nun's tone seems to suggest he should be, he doesn't let on. He flashes a modest smile and gets to his feet, politely shaking hands with John and Dean in turn.
"Castiel has been with us for quite some time, the headmistress explains when the silence in the room becomes tight. "He'll be able to show you around before your classes start tomorrow so I trust you will be punctual." Dean nods.
"Well," John says. "I should get going. I've got a meeting to get to in Lima in a few hours so I'd better hit the road."
Dean feels an uncomfortable, despicable fucking lump in his throat and he almost wants to punch it. He can't cry. He won't. Not in front of his dad, not in front of his new roommate, and certainly not in front of Sister "I Trust You'll Be Punctual." So he sticks a hand out to his father and they shake, exchange wishes for good luck, and John leaves, and the nun leaves, and Castiel is looking at Dean in a way that makes him feel like some exquisite abstract painting in a hoity-toity art museum. Dean starts unpacking.
"Here, let me help you with that," Castiel says, getting up from his desk.
"No, I got it." Dean insists. He feels sort of weird about the idea of someone else touching his clothes. So Castiel sits back down and returns to his book while Dean packs his clothes away into the bottom two drawers of the room's only dresser, thinking how typical it is that Sam got the cool-for-a-freshman videogame playing roommate while Dean seems to have gotten the quiet, studious type with inhumanly blue eyes. Not that it matters much to him. He doesn't figure he'll be getting very close to his roommate either way. He's grabbing the last pair of jeans out of his suitcase when he happens to look up and realize Castiel's eyes are right on him. Instead of looking away like a normal person, Castiel holds his gaze with that same perplexed look on his face, the one that makes Dean feel like a Picasso.
Dean's been looked at a lot of different ways by a lot of different people. He's been sized up by people who wanted to fight him, glared at by people who wanted to kill him, eye-fucked by people who wanted to sleep with him. He's been looked at with admiration by Sammy and disappointment by John. But he's never been looked at like this before. Castiel is looking at him like he honestly would like nothing in the world more than to figure Dean out, to put him together like a 3,000 piece puzzle.
It makes Dean feel interesting and complex, words that until now would be at the very bottom of any list of adjectives he would ever use to describe himself. But it's nice, being looked at like that. Strange- and Dean's not denying that this guy is a total basket case- but refreshing.
"So are we allowed to leave campus?" Dean asks. Castiel looks back at the book on his desk, which Dean realizes is an enormous text on the history of Christianity. He flips a page absently and runs a hand through his messy black hair.
"Seniors can, on weekends," he answers. Dean is overjoyed as this news means he might not be on sexual probation for the rest of the semester.
"Awesome. So how's a guy supposed to get laid around here?" Dean asks. It's not really the first thing on his mind at the moment, but the thought of sex, this now nearly unattainable goal of getting laid, distracts him from the more troubling things in his life that he just really doesn't want to deal with. Like his feelings about his dad, and about being here in this school for an entire semester where his actions will have at least semi-long-term consequences because he can't just move to another state in a few weeks and forget about all the mistakes he makes here. " I mean, not around here," he continues. "Like, by girls. Who don't go here."
"I'm not entirely sure. I've never really looked into it. Not exactly… interested," Castiel says. His voice gets really quiet toward the end of it and all of a sudden all of the things Dean has noticed about him start to click into place and everything makes a lot more sense.
"Ah," Dean says. "That's cool. But hypothetically, if you were interested, what would you do?"
"Pray to God for forgiveness and the strength to move on past my fleshly desires," he says with an absolutely straight face. Then, after a well-timed comedic pause, he starts to smile and it's possibly the smuggest facial expression Dean has ever seen a human being wear and it suits him. "You should see the look on your face," Castiel says, dimples forming in his cheeks as his smile broadens. Dean really can't help but smile back, happy at least that his roommate can joke.
Once Dean's finished packing, Castiel gives him a thorough tour of the campus, starting with all his classrooms which are thankfully all in the same building and right next to the dorms. Then they take a walk to the other side of campus, trudging through the un-shoveled snow on the sidewalks. Dean makes a mental note to buy some new boots as the icy stuff seeps through the worn leather of his shoes, chilling him to the bone.
The entire campus seems to be home to an all-out snowball war. Dean remembers with some fondness having snowball fights with Sam, most of which ended with Dean pelting Sam in the face and Sam crying and Dean feeling bad and running him a hot bath when they got inside. Dean never had any kids his age to play with and he always ended up taking things one step too far with his little brother. Part of him wants to start throwing snowballs.
"So, Castiel, what are you in for?" Dean asks, his breath coming out in little clouds because Christ it's cold.
"What gave you the impression that attending this school is such a punishment?" Castiel asks. Dean wonders if he's offended him somehow.
"I just meant-"
"It's fine. I know it must… suck here for one not accustomed to Catholic school." Dean tries not to laugh at the way his new roommate hesitates on the word "suck" like he's never said it before.
"So, what, you've gone here for a while then?"
"My whole life, actually. But I'd rather hear about you. What are you … 'in for?''
Dean can't imagine going to one school your whole life, much less one that you live at, even less one without girls. No wonder the dude says he's not "interested" in them. He's probably never even seen one wearing anything other than a habit.
"If you had to guess, what do you think my crime would be?" Dean asks, purposefully avoiding the subject of his father. That's a story he doesn't really like to share with anyone. Not that there are stories he does like to share. Dean's about as far away from an open book as a person can possibly get. In fact, if Dean had to be a book, all of his pages would probably be glued together. With super glue. Though, if what Castiel has told him about his childhood is true and he really has gone to this boarding school his entire life, he must know a little something about distant fathers himself.
"Sex," Castiel answers too quickly and Dean can't help but laugh. "My guess would be that your dad caught you fornicating one too many times and sent you here to put a stop to it," Castiel elaborates. "And before you confirm or deny, just know that I've heard it all before."
"Great guess," Dean says, still grinning. His socks are now completely drenched and he's starting to lose feeling in his toes, but he doesn't really care anymore. "Only thing is, my dad doesn't give a shit what I do."
Castiel holds up a gloved hand, pausing the conversation. They're standing in the middle of a roomy, icy patio, complete with snow-covered picnic tables and chairs. The patio is encircled on all four sides by buildings.
"This is the center of campus," Castiel says. He points out the gym, the cafeteria, and the library, the three of which make up the immense stone buildings surrounding the patio like a fortress. It gives off a very medieval vibe, unlike the more modern architecture of the dorms and classrooms. Completing the ambiance is the school's chapel, towering above the rest of the campus on a little hill just beyond the patio. It's not that steep, but Dean still thinks it looks like a bitch to climb in such icy weather. He wonders if church attendance is mandatory, and how he's going to manage staying awake if so. As if reading his mind, Castiel says, "There's a short mass on Monday and Wednesday mornings before class starts and, of course, a full-length one every Sunday. They don't check roll but if you're seen around campus when you're supposed to be in church there are consequences. So you were saying—your dad doesn't care what you do?"
Dean's not sure why he does it, maybe because it seems like Castiel's got it just as hard, or maybe it's just the cold getting to him. But he explains his life to this boy as they walk back to the dorms together. How his mom was killed by a drunk driver when he was four, how his dad makes a living as a travelling salesman and how, consequently, Dean and Sam have never lived in one town for more than a year. He tells Castiel all about Sam, too, and how smart he is, and how proud Dean is of him and how he practically raised the kid. And all the while Castiel is looking at Dean with that same captivated, puzzled expression and Dean realizes that he's really listening to him. Hell, this might be the first time anyone's ever really listened to him about this shit. It's the first time Dean can remember ever really telling anyone, and shit, it feels good.
Suddenly, the housing appeal in Dean's pocket weighs about 100 pounds.
You know what to do. If I get any feedback at all I'll be posting the next chapter sometime this week. If not I'll probably just cry.