WARNING There is torture ahead and it is unpleasant. Some of you may throw up. Maybe. Also! I'm really glad that we still have readers on this one! Thank you reviewers and followers :D Maybe spread the word on this story, it deserves more love than it gets lol
Two weeks had passed since Dean had awoken in this strange place, or at least, it was two weeks as best that he could measure. He was a stinking, dripping mess. Dried blood caked his body, urine and copious amounts of cum were dried to his legs, and he didn't even want to contemplate his posterior. Alastair didn't seem to care for his appearances one way or another, and Dean was starting to wonder if the man was aiming to send him into septic shock.
Alastair strode into the room, pushing the all-too-familiar steel cart, but this time there were no razors or knives, no syringes of unnamed fluids or any other complicated device. There was simply a steaming water basin and a terry cloth. "Ah, are we all ready to see the fruits of our labour?" Alastair's crooked smile crept across his lips as he watched the confusion stir in Dean's eyes.
Alastair stopped the cart in front of Dean, picked up the terry cloth from the basin and wrung the excess water out. He took a firm hold of Dean's right knee and jerked his leg out to the side for easier access to the raider's thigh. Dean winced as he felt the dried substances crack and flake from his leg. Alastair lifted the cloth to Dean's leg, his tongue darted out across his lip in eager anticipation. The cloth was warm, almost hot, to the touch, and with a firm sweep down Dean's thigh it cleared away weeks of build up.
Dean was stunned to feel just how much lighter his leg felt as the crud and filth were wiped away. Dean craned his neck to see his limb, trying to get a glimpse of what clean looked like, only to be met with what would likely be the most horrific shock of his life. The blood and grime had been cleared away, that much was sure enough, but that wasn't all that was gone. Dean saw clear to his thigh muscles –diminished as they were, through a clear, rotted layer of flesh. The necrotizing flesh stretched across his skin, outlining clearly the scar left by Alastair's knife.
"W-what... what is this?" Dean's voice cracked with panic.
"What, you don't know?" Alastair was smiling, Dean could hear it in his voice. The fucker was enjoying this, greatly. "It's that little experiment I was telling you about."
Dean's mind flashed back to that first cut across his chest –Alastair had dipped the blade in a clear fluid. "What did you do? What was the liquid you used on the blades? !" Dean would be glaring at Alastair again, if he could only get himself to look away from the horrid sight of his own leg. The rot was localized, but he'd still just flaked off chunks of flesh.
"It was irradiated water," Alastair replied coolly, "Nothing special on its own, so I left with some of the warhead fallout out back. Pretty potent stuff."
Water? How could water do this? No, it wasn't the water that was important, it was the radiation. Dean's eyes widened in horror. He'd been so caught up in the pain-turned-pleasure that he hadn't realized what was happening to his own body. Radiation poisoning, and constantly. If he were a normal human being, he'd be dead. He should be long dead, or at least feeling violently ill. But he wasn't –he didn't feel a thing, yet his flesh was rotting on the bone. He wasn't a normal human; he must possess that 'x-gene,' or whatever they called it. This wasn't just radiation, this was ghoulification.
"Isn't it wondrous?" Alastair remarked, "and the direct contact with the flesh at the wound has the necrosis localized, like a sort of half ghoul. Let's see was the rest of this cleansing will reveal."
Dean could only hang in perpetual horror as Alastair cleared away the blood and dirt and flesh. All along the numerous cuts and wounds the flesh had been rotting, and was falling away like a snake's old skin. The necrosis spanned several scars along his legs, prominently along his inner thighs, across his arms and quite noticeably his chest. There was one, single gash along Dean's right cheek –the last to be cleaned, and Dean grimaced at the sight of yet more flesh on the cloth as Alastair pulled away.
"All done," Alastair proclaimed in a near sing-song voice. "Care for a mirror?"
Dean could feel the tears behind his eyes, threatening to spill over. He held his pride, he wouldn't cry, not now, not after all of this. He was fucking ghoul, not even, a half ghoul. He was the walking dead, he was probably even at risk of going feral. What would Cas think? What would Sammy think? And Dean thought that becoming a mungo would be the worst transformation of his life.
It took too long. It'd been a little more than two weeks since he'd seen his lover and still Castiel was being driven insane by the trek across the wasteland. He'd let Jet and his crew handle the first six days of it, going back and forth from Paradise falls stretching out along the desolate land in several different directions to cover their ground. East. They had needed to head east, that much had been uncovered. It was just Castiel and Jet, a week into the trip on their own and they had gathered two wayward slaves. A few days had passed now and they finally reached the Canterbury Commons, a small settlement with very few people living there.
No one would tell them about the Khans or if the vicious raiders had been around at all. Castiel was losing his patience as Jet's approach, though fairly rough on its own accord, was still much too soft for his liking. Sam and Gabriel were like freaking feathers going around and asking nicely, absolutely no strength behind their approach. He was sick of it. They were finally given an answer after their second day in the town as to where the Khans had been lurking. This answer came from the mouth of a young woman that Castiel had grabbed, forced to the ground at gun point and demanded it from. It had been an ugly mess at first but she caved. The psychotic and ferocious look in his eye was enough to know he wasn't bluffing.
The four now stood at the hidden space around the south side of the town, a good kick to the ground revealed a sealed hatch not unlike the tech for the vaults. Of course, the vault-tech was much higher quality; this thing didn't look to be much more than an underground bunker. Regardless, Castiel didn't give a flying fuck anymore, he was breaking in.
Jet winced when absolutely no warning was given, the Chinese assault rifle armed and firing at the lock several times until it broke. "There," Cas huffed angrily, "Problem solved."
"Looks that way." Jet mused and looked at the two young men beside them, "You guys ready?"
"Oh suuure," Gabriel chimed, "we used to bust in, guns blazing, all the time back in the vault. It was so much fun because, you know, it was all make believe!" The shorter boy grumbled –he wasn't built for fighting, no way no how. Sam had the look about him, tall and fierce. He fit right in with Jet and Castiel, if not a little young. But Gabriel? He was sure he belonged in a different century.
Sam shot a quick smile to his boyfriend, glad to see that the humour hadn't died off somewhere. He didn't always understand the different references Gabriel made about the vault but he knew what make believe was and picturing little Gabe running around a corner and pretending to shoot something was too cute for words. Sam lifted the smaller gun he'd been given and nodded firmly, "As ready as I'll ever be."
"Good, because we're going in." Cas swung the hatch open and aimed down the steep set of stairs (it may have been a leaning ladder though it was harder to tell with the dim lighting). A few footsteps sounded and two Khans raiders appeared at the bottom, firing up at the intruders. "Fight's on, bitches!" Cas shouted and leapt down into the hole, cracking one of the attackers in the face while Jet swiftly dispatched the other.
"You crazy son of a-" Jet cursed, taking the ladder-stairs a few at a time, quickly reaching the bottom. He landed with a slight 'oof' and looked up, "Come on down, we'll cover you."
"Fuck that, I'm finding Dean." Cas growled.
"Stick together, Cas." Jet ordered firmly, "You're a lot of things but stupid isn't one of them."
Castiel snarled at him but didn't bother arguing any further, it was true enough.
The assault on the mini-base was fast, Castiel was far from merciful, every move he made counted for something, either killing raiders on his own or aiding one of the other three. Jet hardly needed his help though, the man was a seasoned professional, it seemed. Despite his slender frame, Cas was surprised to see that Sam wasn't entirely useless. Apparently, get the boy mad enough; he was pretty good at killing blindly. Would make a good raider, Cas noted in the back of his mind.
There weren't a lot of places these bastards could be keeping Dean, so inevitably the group came across Alastair's torture room, the man himself standing unprepared and unwittingly open for the attack. Cas caught a glimpse of Dean hanging and that was all he needed to take this fucker down, he hadn't taken in the sight of his boyfriend yet but he had seen enough to know Alastair had to die.
Cas fired off several shots to Alastair's limbs, taking out both his knees and at least one of his elbows. Anger and hatred had to be dealt with first before he turned toward Dean, the last thing the torture victim needed was a pissed off raider in his face.
Jet let Castiel deal with Alastair, moving to cut Dean down. He winced when he saw the wounds and then turned a ghostly shade of white when the ghoulification became apparent to him. "Oh man..." He shook his head and reached up to cut the rope, prepared to catch his comrade once it was undone, "I'm so sorry, Dean."
Dean's glazed-over eyes shifted slightly, looking over Jet's face in a moment of confusion before a sense of clarity settled in them. He smiled weakly, "Hey, Jet." Dean had done his best –his utmost, to avoid shedding a single tear in front of Alastair. The bastard hadn't deserved it, hadn't elicited true suffering in Dean's weeks of captivity. The suffering would come after, and it started now. It started here with Jet, a leader and a fighter for human rights. Freedom was something that belonged to everyone, no matter who they are. Jet had told Dean that once, while Dean had pesteringly tried to assist with Jet's plans. What about ghouls? Would Jet feel the same way? The anxiety was eating at Dean, gnawing on his self control. His eyes began to water and he tried to blink it away.
When the ropes were cut free Dean dropped like a leaden dead weight. He hadn't eaten in his time of captivity, had only had the scantest amount of water to keep him alive. It should've occurred to him sooner that he should've died –his metabolism must have slowed. Ghouls live ten times longer than the average person, partially due to their slowed metabolism. Dean's entire weight fell against Jet, and it was all Dean could do to keep his sobs of anguish silent, and hidden in the leader's shirt.
"Hey man," Jet slowly and carefully lowered Dean's battered body to the ground, cradling his head and most of his torso in his lap. He wasn't sure what it was that Dean needed to hear but he knew that something kind needed to be said. "We're here for you, okay? I've got you, tough guy." His words were spoken in the softest, gentlest tone that had ever come out of him and it almost suited him better than the shouting and commanding orders.
"DEAN!" Sam cried out once he'd fully made it into the room, he and Gabriel had handled the last of the raiders coming at their backside and he'd finally gotten a chance to look at the man. "Oh my god, Dean!" He dropped down next to his brother, a rush of emotion washing over him, most of which he wasn't even sure he understood. Tears burned at his eyes, "What did they do to you?"
Dean had been sure that Cas would be the next test, the one that would tear him apart, leave him for dead. Or for the living dead, which was far more accurate. But this was both far worse and far better at the same time. Dean couldn't keep his face turned away, not when he instinctively knew that voice. 'Oh my god, it's Sam.' Dean wasn't sure if he was feeling dread or elation. He pivoted his head, turning out to face Sam, the decay and facial rot buried against Jet's chest.
"Sammy..." Dean's voice cracked, dry from lack of water, but there was something else there. The distinctive undertone that all ghouls had, the raspy voice of the dead.
Sam swallowed thickly and smiled down at his brother though his dirty cheeks were streaked with the glistening wet trails refusing to stop. "I'm here, big brother." He choked out a laugh and a sob; he wasn't sure which part was which. He recognized the sound of a ghoul, he and Gabriel had come across a few and it hadn't been fun, majority of them were feral. "You're alive."
Jet was about to say 'sort of' but didn't. He reached to his supplies and found a bottle of water, tipping it to Dean's dried lips, "Drink up, buddy. We've got food and things too but I want you a little more hydrated first."
Dean hesitated at first, remembering Alastair's trick with the irradiated water. He shook his head, this was Jet, he'd never do anything like that, never intentionally poison a comrade. So Dean shifted in Jet's grip and tilted his head, he caught most of the water in his mouth, though inevitably in his weakened and assisted state there were trickles of water that ran down his jaw, catching on fragments of torn flesh where the rot had already fallen away.
Sam reached over and touched Dean's arm first then gripped it, pulling a stimpack from his supply pouch and injecting it into his brother's skin. It wouldn't heal him but it would sure as hell help. Another shot of Radaway to help with possible radiation poisoning, and that was about as much as Sam knew to do. He looked at Dean with a sad smile, "I... I missed you." He wasn't afraid, this was Dean, this was the person who took care of him when he was little until he was fourteen years old. He owed Dean so much, how could he possibly fear or detest the person who'd been kindest to him? He leaned forward and gave Dean a chaste kiss on the lips then gently tapped his nose with two fingers, that silly gesture they'd always done when they were younger, a show of affection. "I love you, Dean."
Dean's eyes watered momentarily, and he gave a half hearted smile, "I love you too, Sammy." He was too weak to return the gesture, and hoped Sam would forgive him.
Gabriel stayed decidedly at the door. Jet went to Dean's aid as a leader and a friend. Castiel destroyed –literally obliterating the tormentor, and Sam ran to his brother's side. Gabriel didn't even know the guy. He'd only received the smallest of details from Sam, who preferred not to talk about it. It just upset him, and Gabriel could respect that. Besides, someone needed to watch the door.
On the other side of the room Cas stepped down on Alastair's chest, his rifle aimed between the man's eyes and a sick and disturbed smile nearly cracked the raider's face in half, "This is for fucking with stronger men, you sick son of a bitch." He didn't care to hear the man speak, firing the last round into Alastair's head and watched the pieces burst across the floor in a vibrant display of crimson. He exhaled slowly and looked to see how the reunion was going, if Dean was still alive.
The sight shocked him and he felt a thick churning in his gut. Dean was a ghoul. A fucking zombie, undead, rotting flesh ghoul. 'Of course. Of FUCKING course!' He cursed mentally, shouldering the gun and walking over with shaky steps. His mind was a flurry of thoughts and feelings and he wanted it all to stop. Why the hell had he picked up that teenager in Big Town? Why had he spent his time training the soft young man into a tough killer? And why had he put all of his heart into this one person? For him to become a fucking ghoul? To not even be able to save the one person that meant something to him? Castiel growled first then turned, kicked the torture-setup table over with a loud and anguished scream.
Dean's heart wrenched at the sound. He knew Castiel was here, there was no way Jet was here alone. There was no keeping Castiel away from Dean –or at least, there hadn't been. Dean knew Cas had killed Alastair. It would've been instinctual. Castiel had always been territorial like that. Defensive. Dean's face twisted with an anguish to match Castiel's heartfelt cry. He knew it was over; Castiel would put him out of his misery. Hell, he'd probably blame all of this hurt on Dean in the first place. After all, whose fault was it that Castiel had opened up to begin with? Dean figure that, in the end, yeah –he'd been the one responsible for making Castiel weak, and now Castiel would kill him for it.
Sam looked up at the raider he'd come to know a little bit in the past few days, the rough around the edges man who constantly gave him a hard time and treated him poorly, the man who cried softly at night while sleeping alone. Cas had grown attached to Dean as much as Sam had, but after spending a few years thinking Dean had been murdered by raiders and now seeing his brother alive, or, mostly alive, it was a relief to the younger man. But for Cas... well it wasn't so cut and dry.
Cas went to Dean's side then and dropped down to his knees, a defeated slump of his shoulders and desperate look in his eyes. "I'm... I'm so sorry." He whispered, a hand gently reaching up toward Dean's cheek, hesitating first but pushing himself past it to touch the already hardened ghoulified flesh there. He swallowed thickly and cleared his throat with a half smile, "This might not make you feel better but... I'm here to save you, Dean."
"I knew you would be," Dean rasped in reply. He was as good as dead; it was just a matter of waiting for the bullet. Dean looked at Sam, "I'm so sorry you had to see me like this. I love you, Sammy." Dean pivoted his weight as much as he was able to look up at Jet, "Did we win?"
Sam couldn't speak anymore; his chest ached far too much to allow it. Jet on the other hand swallowed any hurt feelings and smiled kindly, "Hell yeah we did, took out all the fucking slavers, even shot that damned Singer right in the head." He tried to sound like his usual self though it was fairly soft. He didn't really know what to say, what to expect. All eyes shifted toward Castiel.
Dean grinned, "I'm glad."He looked at Cas, sincerely afraid, and genuinely remorseful, "Please don't hate me. I'm ready."
Castiel was slumped on his knees; staring down at the man who he had ended up caring for, the man that he woke up with every morning and the same man he'd barely been able to fall asleep at night without. Out of all the people that Cas had ever had to shoot in his life, it'd never felt like a chore, never felt heavy in any kind of way and it never hurt. Not like the thought of shooting Dean hurt, it burned in his head and his heart started to throb painfully. "You fucking retard." He growled, reaching over and giving Dean's face a smack, lacking his usual force but still strong enough to sting. "Sam gets an 'I love you' and you ask me not to hate you? Fuck that, you screwed it up," he fought the crack in his voice though he still felt a sting behind his eyes, "You screwed up the perfect ending, I can't kill you now, have to wait for another... fifty years or something." He inhaled shakily and quickly stood, turning around so the others couldn't see his face as tears won the battle and dripped off his chin.
The sting Dean had been fighting off turned to tears as he watched Castiel breakdown in front of his very eyes. They'd talked about this, years ago. Castiel didn't let people in because they weakened him –he was a fighter, strong and independent in a cruel and heartless wasteland. He'd survived because of himself and no one else. Dean had told him that he was wrong, that he needed to let someone in, that he wasn't stronger alone. Now look what he'd done to the man. The waste's most feared raider a mess of tears. But that didn't bother Dean as much as he figured it should have, because more than anything he was relieved. Cas still loved him, would be willing to work through his bigoted hatred of ghouls, at least for him. Fifty years was a long time, and he may as well have said 'forever,' but that would've been too telling of a statement to make in front of other people.
"Thank you, Cas," Dean whispered. It was obvious to everyone there that Castiel hadn't laid a comforting hand on Dean, wouldn't touch him except a joking slap. Dean wondered what it was, did Castiel assume his lover dead, and Dean's ghoul self to be a ghost or shell of his former self? Maybe it was simply revenge for the 'don't hate me comment' rather than 'I love you.' It cut deep, but Dean knew better than to expect too much too soon. For the time being, Dean would content himself with his brother's company, grateful that his family wasn't dead.
Jet sighed in relief and looked down at Dean, "You're welcome to stay at Lincoln Memorial with the rest of the Union," glancing at Sam and Gabriel as well, "All of you."
"Thank you, Jet," Dean said appreciatively. "I think I'll take you up on that, for a little while at least. I still need to get home and pick up my dog." Dean wondered how Dogmeat would take to his new appearance. Probably just bite an arm off and use it as a chew toy.
Jet smirked, "Right, well I think we can send Cas to go get your dog." He glanced at the raider who only raised an eyebrow in return. Jet was well aware of Castiel's disdain for the mutt Dean insisted on keeping, he'd heard some stories while the two raiders were waiting out orders at Lincoln.
Cas stood still for a moment, getting his thoughts in order. He finally nodded his head, able to get a grip on his vocal chords and speak without sobbing. "Get him fed and ready to go, then we'll move out."
Again, no one said a word about Castiel's lack of involvement in aiding his lost loved one. Dean was happy enough with Sam and Jet doting on him, but Gabriel felt the stirrings of hatred roil in his gut. "Hey!" he shouted at Castiel, moving in on him, "how could you be like that? You were nothing but gung-ho I'll kill all them sons of bitches to find him, and now you dump him off on other people to take care of him? What the hell?"
Castiel spun and caught Gabriel by the throat, pinning him to a well, their noses barely a centimetre apart. "Watch it," he snarled, "You think you understand anything? You've barely met me, hardly know me and the relationship he and I have. Shut your goddamn mouth." He held Gabriel still, toes on the ground but just barely. "Don't think I'll hesitate to slit your throat, because I won't." With that he dropped the younger male to the ground.
Gabriel landed hard on his ass, still in shock. He should've expected a raider to be angry, should've expected the retaliation, but somehow he felt that if he was in the right, Castiel wouldn't be able to hurt him. It was foolish, he knew now, but that didn't undo anything.
"Cas-!" Jet snapped but stopped when blue eyes shot his way.
"SHUT UP! Feed him, now!" The vicious raider turned and stalked out, "I'm going to do a sweep, make sure it's safe to leave with him."
Sam looked at Gabriel with worried eyes, "You okay, Gabe?"
"Ow," Gabriel replied shortly, and slid a hand over his buttocks. "My ass is gonna be sore for days!" Evidently, he was just fine.
Jet shook his head and looked down at Dean, "You know Cas better than all of us, he's not leaving us to take care of you, okay?" It was pretty clear, now anyway, that Castiel had left Dean alone with them to take care of the last of the fighting, to make sure his lover wouldn't get shot on the way out. Nothing worse than coming all that way and watching the guy you just rescued get shot because you didn't get all the bad guys.
"Cas just needs to think. Come on; let's get some food in you."
Dean nodded meagrely in agreement. It still hurt to see Cas walk away, but he knew it was for the best. His partner needed time, hell, so did he. Dean felt like a stranger in his own skin – his own rotting, molting skin. Who knew how much worse it would get before it stopped? Dean knew his brother wanted him alive, Jet was happy to see him, and Cas wouldn't kill him –but what if he didn't want to live like this? How much would change, how much would be different? Dean didn't know, and he didn't dare ask.
Once they'd give Dean enough food and water and had rested themselves, they lifted Dean to his feet and headed out. The pace was slow and they took turns helping him walk, Jet was a constant on one side of him, never faltering and refusing to give up his spot. Dean had fought his battle, had become one of his men, he felt responsible for Dean's capture and so by the gods he was going to help the man walk at least. Cas and Sam traded out periodically, Sam wanted to help his brother, Castiel knew that if he didn't so much as touch Dean more than once the dumb idiot would feel like Cas hated him or was revolted (which was something Cas wasn't entirely sure about himself). Unless Gabriel outright asked to help it wasn't expected of him.
The trip was long; several pit stops were made along the way and each time Castiel did his best to avoid talking about it, telling Dean to rest, telling him to eat something, telling him he was still thinking on it. All of those things were true of course. Dean needed to sleep more, eat, and Cas was definitely still mulling all of this over in his head. It was... it had happened so fast and he didn't know what to do about it. He'd only spent 2 weeks away from Dean but in those fourteen days he'd found himself helpless, scared, alone and weak. He'd cried nearly every night, nightmares about losing Dean forever plagued him and at that moment he wasn't even sure if they weren't true. Dean had gone through hell, he wasn't even technically alive now, how could he be the same man?
They were half way to Lincoln Memorial; Jet had decidedly left Cas and Dean alone again, hoping they'd talk this time. He took the other two out with him to scavenge for a few things, like he had nearly every night.
Castiel sat by the fire, his mind rolling around in retarded circles and he wished he could stab it and end the movement. He needed to say something, he knew he had to fix this soon otherwise it'd be stuck in Dean's head for the rest of his life, half-life... ghoul life, whatever, that Cas hated him. He needed to say something. "Dean," he started softly, glancing over at his long standing partner out of the corner of his eye. It was an odd tone for him, there was no way Dean would be able to mistake the difference from rough-raider to we-need-to-talk. "You know I've been thinking, a lot, about all of this." Cas fidgeted absently, his hands clenching once he'd caught himself doing it and relaxing back to doing nothing, "I need you to know something before I continue, okay?" He looked for the reaction to make sure he wouldn't be interrupted first.
Dean nodded his silent understanding. He'd been waiting for this, whatever this was going to be. He needed closure of somesort, to stop the nagging questions in his head. He didn't want to lose Cas, but he didn't want to stay in the 'maybe' zone forever –he needed an answer.
"When you were abducted... I didn't take it well. I mean there was the usual anger but, and Jet would tell you the same so you know I'm not lying, when I thought you had been killed in that mess I... I panicked. I broke down, I cried and-and screamed and I just couldn't stand it." Cas looked up; tired blue eyes looked even older than they had any right to be. "And then we found out you had been taken. Even knowing you were still alive didn't help, I thought it would but it didn't. I couldn't stop the empty feeling and I couldn't sleep at night without you. Dean, I love you." His voice broke then, his tough, heartless raider persona crumbling for Dean, "I don't know how this is going to work but I need you, please... Please don't give up."
Dean's heart could've melted into a pudding, and it may as well have for all the physical need he had for it. He'd gotten through to Castiel –truly found a home in the raider's heart. Dean tried to swallow past the lump in his throat, and found that he couldn't quite manage it. He let out a small sob of relief, "I love you too, Cas." Dean assured his partner, "More than anything, I love you. I wasn't sure what I'd do if... if you decided that..." Dean couldn't bring himself to say it. He didn't have to, Cas wouldn't leave. "As long as you're with me, I'll never give up. I promise you."
Castiel smiled then and leaned over, kissing his lover firmly, his hands coming up and touching his face, sliding down his neck and then around his shoulders until he pulled Dean into a hug, as close as he could hold him.
Dean melted into Castiel's touch, grabbed on to the leather of his arm and held on like Cas was a lifeline. He couldn't express how relieved he was to feel Cas' touch again, to know that there was hope.
"That's a wrap, people!" Jet chimed in, jumping out from behind a rock and clapping his hands. "Hells yeah!" He threw his arms around both of their shoulders and gave a good squeeze. Sam followed with Gabriel's hand in his own, a relieved smile on his face as he watched Dean, his brother finally happy.
"Fuck off, retard." Cas snapped, shoving Jet in the chest though it didn't do much.
"Screw you, pretty boy. I'm celebrating, this is awesome!" he handed out a few bottles of sealed alcohol and raised it in the middle, "To our happily ever after in the wastelands!"
Cas smirked and raised his glass, "Cheers."
Dean looked happily from Cas, to his alive-and-well brother and his partner, and finally to his newest friend and smiled. Everything was going to be ok, Lamplight may be gone, and Big Town too, but people die in the wastes every day, they'd come a long way since then. Dean himself had grown from a boy to a man, dispelling the myths of 'mungo-hood' through the painstaking process of trial and error with the most ornery, ill-tempered raider in the Capital Wasteland as his mentor. He'd found love in Castiel, and comfort too; having lived what seemed like a full life in the realm of raiders and danger. They'd traveled the great expanse of the wastes, experienced all life had to offer, the good and the multitudes of bad. They'd met rogue traders and they worked alongside the infamous Crowley of Canterbury Commons, fought alongside Jet and the Union against the slavers of Paradise Falls in what would surely be a battle for the ages. And most importantly, Dean had reunited with Sam, a brother he thought he'd lost to the evils of the wastes. It wasn't the reunion they'd planned, and they had no future in Big Town, but they were together, and they were happy. Dean grinned and lifted his bottle, knocking it against those of his comrades and friends, "Cheers."
The arrival at Lincoln Memorial was quite the showing, ghoul or otherwise people were happy to see Dean come back to them. A cheer rose louder as Jet raised his hands in the air like a triumphant king returning to his people, Castiel shook his head and helped support Dean a little better, they were almost home though most drowning happened closest to shore, didn't they?
Sam held Gabriel's hand a little tighter, they found a place to belong, a home among other ex-slaves that even recognized them. "Sam!" One of the boys ran to him followed quickly by another and a girl, Sam recognized them immediately.
"Tommy, Charlie, and Lily, I can't believe it." He put his hands on the younger male's shoulders and marvelled to himself at how much taller he'd gotten than most people. "You guys made it out okay?"
"Sure did," Tommy smirked, "I can't believe you guys escaped though! We were all so shocked, everybody told stories about you to the new slaves. How'd you do it?"
"Did they?" Sam laughed, "Well I'm glad we could at least make a decent story. And uh... You know it's a little fuzzy." He didn't want to remember having to crawl through such a tight space, it had been severely uncomfortable and recalling it only brought back cramped memories.
Dean's eyes watered a bit, there were other survivors! Though most of Little Lamplight was dead and gone, Dean was happy to know that he and Sam weren't the only ones to survive. Dean remembered Tommy, Charlie, and Lily from the caverns when he protected them as their mayor. They were so much younger back then, so much more innocent. But that was a fact of life, live and learn and move on. Survive, thrive, and revive.
Jet stepped in front of everyone, motioning for the other's to follow him. "Everyone, you remember randomly we got the aid of two renowned raiders? One of them known as the fiercest, most vicious men in the Capital Wastelands, the other his very capable partner and creating his own reputation as possibly the kindest raider to ever travel with the blue-eyed monster?" People nodded to his words, how could they forget the day Dean and Castiel joined their cause? It was the weirdest and coolest thing they'd ever experienced.
"Right, well Dean here forced Cas to help us fight the slavers, and though it was for their own reasons we appreciated the help that their presence meant. We still do. Dean fought on our side; he killed in our name and even saved some of our lives. I want you to know that his original goal was to find his little brother, Sam, and he did. However, in choosing to stand with us he's had to pay a price. Dean has sacrificed something that none of us ever imagined would be asked of us, and because it was in our name, for our cause, I have offered him a place among us." Jet looked over the faces of his followers and smiled, lifting his arms up to address the men he'd dragged onto the raised platform with him. "I'd like to introduce to you our new friends! Dean and Castiel, the fearsome raiders that helped save us. Sam, Dean's little brother, and his boyfriend Gabriel. These last two were slaves, as I'm sure you're aware, so let's treat them well."
A wall of sound hit them as people clapped and cheered welcoming words and a number of other incoherent things. Castiel held Dean's hand firmly and turned to look into his eyes, a soft and knowing smile on his lips. He mouthed the words 'I love you' before turning back to watch the crowd.
Dean returned the gesture, squeezing tightly on Castiel's hand. He hadn't imagined such a warm welcome, though who else would have an open mind about human rights other than former slaves?
Sam wrapped his arms around Gabriel, tears stinging his eyes as he laughed, never feeling so free, so accepted and so safe. He had his brother, a lover, and new friends. Even though the world was still a wasteland and monsters roamed it, mutated beasts and evil men, at least he knew he was safe and among friends. But above all, he'd always have his brother.
Zafona's Ending spree of whatever:
That's a wrap people! Let's hit the showers because this bitch is DONE!
Seriously though, thanks for all the support that we did manage to get. Not everyone enjoys this kind of story but I personally LOVED writing it. Badass Cas guys, badass Cas. Please leave us some reviews, tell us what you thought of it all! Thanks a lot again and look for more works by us because they'll be out there soon enough :D