Dean sat on the hood of the Impala, right foot insistent upon shaking. Sam, Andy, and Jessica were still in the car, comforting each other. Jo and Pamela were both back and figuring how they could fit the most in the back of Pamela's pick up and if it was worth it to go back and get the rest of their things. Chuck was watching the local news on his laptop and the sound carried through the open door, telling everyone to stay inside and that help was coming.
His phone rang again and he opened it without looking. "Cas?"
"Try Dad." John Winchester's voice came through the phone. "Listen, you need to get out—"
"I know," Dean interrupted. "There's something wrong with the people. It's like they're rabid or freakin' zombies or something. It's crazy."
"Damn it," his dad mumbled. "It was the plane crash. It was transporting something from Area 51, the anti-death drug they've been working on. When it went down, the containers must have broke open. It wasn't anywhere near ready yet. If people are being affected like that, it must've spread like a virus."
"Is it air borne?"
"I don't know, son. It spread so fast, I think you'd already be infected if it was. Most likely, it's direct contact of some sort. But listen, you need to get back home. The military will no doubt be setting up blockades soon, but you get out of there, okay? They might not be able to contain it, and if that happens they'll get a kill all order."
"Okay. We'll be outta here in a few minutes."
"You got your brother?"
"And two of his friends. We lost one."
"I'm sorry to hear that," John said. "And Dean—what they were working on, it had to do with the brain—"
"Cas figured that out," Dean said, still anxiously waiting for him.
"You got Castiel, too?"
"Not this second. Jo, Pamela, Anna, Cas, and me made a run for our cars, and we split up to get some others."
"How many of there are you total?"
"Assuming everyone makes it? …Sixteen, I think. No, seventeen. I don't know, Anna and Cas aren't back yet and we're supposed to be leaving in five minutes, and I don't—" His anxiety was starting to show.
"Stay calm," his dad said. "That's the most important thing. Stick to your original plan. And you keep your brother safe, you hear?"
"I'll see you soon."
"Yeah." Dean ended the call, and when he looked up, he saw Lucifer's van pulling in seconds after a little green Pontiac left the parking garage.
He jumped up as it stopped beside the Impala. When no one got out, he went to the driver's side door. Just as he reached for the handle, Cas opened it and stumbled out, right into Dean. He mumbled an apology and opened the side door, revealing Rachel and Balthazar.
"Cas?" Dean turned him around with a hand on his shoulder. "Where are Lucifer and Gabriel?"
"We couldn't find Gabriel." Cas kept his arms rigid at his side. "And Lucifer…he fell, and…he didn't…"
Dean's arms encircled Cas, but he stayed stiff and Dean let him go. "Did you see Anna?"
Dean pulled out his phone and called her. She answered on the second ring. "I couldn't find Samandriel," she said in a hurry. "But I've got Inias. We'll be there in two minutes."
"Okay," Dean said. "I'll see you then." He ended the call and announced, "We're leaving once Anna gets here. Just a few minutes."
"Dean?" Chuck said hesitantly.
"Are you sure we shouldn't stay? The news said—"
"Fuck the news, Chuck. My dad knew what he was talking about all these years, and if we stay we could all die. He said military blockades would be going up soon, so we need to get out of here asap, or else we have to get through them."
"Hey, man, I don't mean to doubt, but the military's got the big guns," Ash said. "If they don't want anybody passing, how are we supposed to pass?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Dean said. "Are we ready to go?"
Balthazar climbed out the van, keys in hand. "I've gotta get my car," he mumbled as he walked away.
Dean gestured for Jo to follow him. They didn't need anybody else dying because they didn't have a gun.
Dean brushed his fingers against Cas' arm. "Can we put some stuff in the back of the van?"
"Yeah," Cas said. "Yeah, I'll help."
They transferred a few bags before Anna showed up and pulled Dean aside while Cas and Chuck finished. "Do we have anything besides clothes?" she asked.
"Ash brought enough alcohol for a small army, but not really. Why?"
"I was thinking," she said. "We don't know how fast this'll spread."
"My dad said it started with the plane crash in Toledo. Something the plane was carrying got released. He wants us back in Kansas, it's probably still okay there."
"What I'm saying is, we need to be prepared in case we don't make it to Kansas. Maybe it won't be safe there either, who knows."
"I don't want to scare the others—"
"Dean, don't be ridiculous. There are people being eaten out there. I think we should stock up, grab some food and water."
Dean frowned. She was making perfect sense, of course. It was better to be prepared for anything. His dad would probably agree with her. "Okay," he said. "We'll grab some things before we head out."
"Where are the rest of us?" she asked.
"Sam's friend Andy lost his girlfriend. Cas couldn't find Gabriel, and…Lucifer didn't make it either."
"Oh god. And Balthazar? Jo?"
"Getting his car," Dean said. "Do you think we're taking too many? Vehicles, I mean."
She shrugged. "How the hell should I know? We didn't have drills for this in school."
Balthazar returned in his car with Jo, then.
"Ready?" Dean asked as she got out.
The group nodded.
"Anna brought up a good point," Dean said. "She thought it would be a good idea to get some food. We don't know how far-spread this thing is, or how far it will spread. It's better to be safe. We gotta find a place that's not too heavily overrun and grab some supplies. In and out, no wasting time. One person stays in each car. The last thing we need is someone stealing them. Let's go!"
He stopped Adam before he got into Jo's car. "You go with Balthazar," he said. "At least two to a car.
Adam complied and Dean got into the Impala.
Pam and Ash headed the brigade and stopped on a street with minimal freaks. Most of the people had emptied out, too, which was both fortunate and unfortunate. Less people to worry about also meant less people to distract the infected.
He turned around in his seat. "Andy, you stay in the car. Sam and Jess, with me."
Chuck was screaming out the window at Jo to get toilet paper and Ash jumped out of the truck before Pamela could, gun in one hand, crowbar in the other, heading straight for a couple of vending machines.
One of the freaks lunged for Cas, but before Dean could open his mouth, Cas met it with a blow to the head.
"Between the eyes!" Dean shouted a reminder. "Don't let them touch you!"
Him, Sam, and Jess ran across the street to an abandoned convenience store and started hurriedly filling plastic bags. There were none inside yet, and Dean counted that as a blessing. From the back of the store, he heard someone moan. He gestured at Sam and Jessica to stay back, and left his almost filled bag with them.
Quiet as possible, he followed the noise and almost lowered his gun when he saw who it was. Amanda Heckerling.
"Amanda? Are you okay?"
She let out another moan and turned her head, revealing a set of teeth marks on her neck, unnaturally dark blood congealing around them. Spread by direct contact. Biting was pretty damn direct.
She whipped her head towards him, sluggishness quickly wearing off and being replaced by speed. The white of her eyes had turned red and had a disturbingly empty, hungry look to them, and black goo trickled down from the corner of her mouth.
She snarled and threw herself at him, jaws wide, and he didn't hesitate to shoot her right between the eyes.
"I'm fine, Sam." He returned to the front of the store. "Let's get out of here."
Cas wasn't sure what he'd grabbed when he got back to the car, but he knew he'd used a whole round of bullets to get it. His mind was clouded with a heavy fog and he could hardly think straight. He'd ask Rachel to drive, but she was worse, still crying in the back seat. He rubbed his eyes and waited for the others to get back to their cars. From where they were parked, he could see Ash bashing in the skull of one of the infected and collecting from the two vending machines he'd smashed the glass to.
Jo came running out, her arms loaded with bags, and Cas absentmindedly thought this could've been better orchestrated. They should've assigned people to get certain things. But it made no difference now, and he pushed his hair back, trying to think about nothing.
Adam was the last one to get back in a vehicle, and Dean pulled out first. The rest kept a close tail on him through the town. At the edge, they flew by a trio of police cars that had been overturned, the infected crowded around them. Cas didn't see the blood or bodies, but that was probably because most of it was in the stomach of the others, and he kept his eyes focused on the road for the most part.
When they first got on the expressway, the traffic wasn't terrible, but over the course of fifteen minutes, it rapidly became congested. Another fifteen minutes and they'd come to a complete standstill.
He glanced in his rearview and saw Rachel looking over her shoulder, and following her line of sight, he saw that in the distance everyone was abandoning their cars and heading out on foot. In the lane beside him, a car pushed forwards, a young man with a girl bleeding from a wound in her arm, completely rear-ending the tiny car in front of him: an old couple that looked eerily calm in the situation. In the seat beside him, his phone went off and he barely had time to read the text message: follow me.
Dean went totally off-road, taking off through the median. Their small regiment tore after him, and from the front seat Cas told Rachel to buckle up half a second before he shadowed the others. The grass was bumpy and rough, and at times he was worried one of the cars would flip over, especially when they flew over slabs of concrete connecting the two roads.
The drove quite some distance at absurdly high speeds, considering, managing to get back on the paved road at some point, but not for long before Dean turned off onto a gravel road, everyone following after him. They finally came to a stop, pulling off the side of the road in a line, a wooded area on one side and a field on the other.
"Why are we stopping?" Adam immediately asked as they all got out of their vehicles.
"I want to make sure everyone's alright," Dean said. "See if we need to stop for gas anywhere, stuff like that. And a few minutes to collect ourselves would probably be good. There's not a lot of people here, so we should be good for a few minutes."
Maybe not everyone saw the doubt in Dean's features, but Cas did, well covered though it was.
Rachel sat on the edge of the van floor, her legs hanging out the side. Cas leaned his back against the front of the van, rubbing his wrists and hands. He hadn't realized how tightly he'd been gripping the steering wheel. Dean came by and stood next to him, voice quiet. "You okay?"
Cas finally looked at him, eyes squinted in the bright sun. "One of my brothers is dead, and who knows what happened to the other one."
"I'm so sorry," Dean said, hand reaching out as if to comfort him, but then withdrawing. "This whole thing is so fucking nuts," he said after a minute.
"Castiel?" Rachel called, voice carrying through the quiet.
He came around the vehicle to see her. "What is it?"
"I called Michael."
Cas stomach did a funny tightening, flippy thing at the mention of his oldest brother. They hadn't spoken since Castiel had announced his decision to major in Mythology with a minor in Creative Writing. Michael was the oldest of Castiel's siblings, and had taken over the family business—an insurance company—after their parents' passing. A car accident Castiel's first year of high school. He hadn't spoken to Lucifer in even longer, since he decided not take the expected path and go into music instead. Gabriel didn't mind going into insurance work; it would pay good, and that was good enough for him, as long as he got to have fun. Balthazar just scared about the money. Rachel enjoyed art, but wanted to keep it as a hobby and go into the family business as well.
"Is he alright?"
"I got his voicemail," she said. "He's probably in a meeting or something. I said we were okay."
"What else did you say?"
"I said…I said we couldn't find Gabriel." Cas didn't let her look away until she added, "And I told him about Lucifer."
Cas nodded. "Keep an eye on your phone for when he calls back."
She nodded. "Of course."
Jo approached them, knife tucked between her belt and pants. "We probably should find somewhere to get gas. Pam's got less than a quarter tank, same for Anna."
"Alright, We'll get back onto the main road and stop at the first place we see," Dean said. "Let's get moving again."
His fingers brushed Cas' arm, and he looked about to say something, but then thought better of it.
The last bits of twilight were disappearing when they pulled over again after getting gas. They stopped at a beach, void of any people except a high school couple and a family with three children. Dean figured word had spread one way or another and that most people were scared and staying inside.
"Shouldn't we keep driving?" Jo asked.
"We will," Dean said. "I think an hour of rest we be good for everyone, though. We can head out again after that."
"Well, I don't know about you people," Ash said, "but I'm pretty damn hungry, and there was a Hardee's a mile or so back that was open."
Balthazar stretched. "A mile isn't too far. I'll drive. We can bring back food for everyone."
"Shouldn't we stay together?" Rachel asked nervously. "We've got food here."
"We shouldn't eat food that we can save," Cas said. He and Balthazar exchanged a look, be careful.
"Give us ten minutes," Ash said. As he climbed into the passenger seat, Cas heard the beginning of him asking if Balthazar was paying before the door slammed shut. They drove off and Chuck took his ear buds out and took his eyes away from his laptop. "They just blocked off all of Michigan, the top half of Ohio, and around Fort Wayne in Indiana," he said. "Quarantined it."
"We'll be in Illinois soon," Pamela said. "It'll probably be all clear there."
The group stayed by their cars in the parking lot, everyone still pretty uneasy. Dean didn't voice his worry that the quarantine didn't stretch far enough. Hell, it was a good thing all of Indiana hadn't been blockaded, then they'd be stuck. Anna was sitting cross-legged on the blacktop, Rachel's head in her lap, stroking her hair soothingly.
"Hey, Cas," Dean said. "Can I talk to you?"
Cas came over to Dean and followed him down to the beach, away from the others.
"Talking usually involves opening your mouth and speaking," Cas said after a minute.
Dean cleared his throat. "Right. Um." He jammed his hands into his pockets and watched the family gather up and go to their car, leaving only the high school couple. "Well, Friday night—"
"Now really isn't the time, Dean."
"No, I know, but I just…I mean, we're good, right?"
Cas gave him his signature bird head tilt. "Why wouldn't we be? We're always good."
Dean hunched his shoulders and toed at the sand. "Yeah. This is just a little different, I thought. Sex. Zombies. Weird circumstances."
"What?" Dean asked.
"Zombies," he said. "I didn't…that's what they are, aren't they? Connotatively speaking. The literal definition involves death first and revival involving the supernatural, though there's no proof that they're actually dead—" Dean laughed and Cas stopped midsentence. "What's so funny?"
"You. Being all literal with dictionary definitions."
"I fail to see the humor in it."
Dean just shook his head, still smiling. "That's part of why it's funny." There were several beats of silence, and Dean asked, "Are you okay? Really?"
Cas sighed. "I don't know. Maybe it hasn't fully sunk in yet, I just…I'm glad Rachel and Balthazar are okay. And I wish I knew where Gabriel was."
"Maybe he'll call," Dean said, trying to give Cas a bright side.
Dean shifted his weight, awkward and unsure, because he wasn't touchy-feely, and after Friday night he wasn't sure if Cas would be okay with it, but he really felt like hugging the guy, because he was damn glad his best friend was okay. Instead, he asked, "Do you think you'll go to Michael?"
Cas shrugged. "I don't know. Rachel might, Balthazar, too, but I'm not sure I'd be welcome."
"I think he'd let you," Dean said. "Under the circumstances."
"I'm…I'm not sure I want to," Cas said hesitantly. "He's my family, but we're so different, I just…I don't know."
Dean hit him lightly on the shoulder. "You can always stay with me," he said. "It'll be just like college."
Cas smiled earnestly. "Thank you, Dean."
Back at the parking lot, Balthazar's car returned and Dean grabbed Cas' wrist. "Come on, food's here. I'm starving."
"You're always starving," Cas teased.
They ran up the hill and grabbed a couple burgers before joining the group on the blacktop. They were sitting in a convenient circle and had left an open space for Cas and Dean between Jo and Rachel.
Chuck still had his laptop open, and it's a wonder the thing hadn't died yet, one ear bud in, eyes occasionally flicking up from the screen.
"So are we going to split up?" Dean asked the group. "Each of us go back to our families?" Jo, Ash, and Pamela all grew up in Lawrence, and Adam in Omaha, but the Novaks and Miltons were from New York, Chuck from Iowa, and Dean didn't know where Andy and Jess' families were.
"I called my parents on the way over," Anna said. "They don't want us going around the quarantined area." She didn't mention their reaction to Samandriel and Dean didn't ask. "We'll probably stick with you guys until this blows over. If that's okay." From the way she looked at him, Dean could tell she wasn't sure this would blow over, but no doubt she was saying it for Inias' benefit.
"Stick with us as long as you like," Dean said.
"My parents are out in Oregon," Jess said, "so I'll keep with you guys and then just keep going."
"Andy, what about you?" Dean asked.
He looked up from staring at the half-eaten burger in his hands. "Oklahoma. But I don't have anywhere to go, I was in foster care when I was a kid."
Jess squeezed his hand. "You can come with me if you want."
He tried to smile, but it came out small and disfigured.
"I'm with you guys," Chuck muttered, eyes still on the computer screen.
Dean flicked a slice of pickle at him, landing it on his chin. Chuck raised his eyes to glare at him, and Dean pointed at Cas, trying to put the blame on him.
"Funny," Chuck said sarcastically. He tossed the piece of green over his shoulder, and Pam leaned over to sniff him.
"You still smell like pickle."
"I'll make you smell like something," he threatened.
He turned his attention sharply back to his computer and held up a hand to silence everyone. They waited expectantly for him to explain, but no one saw it coming when he whipped one of his hamburger patties at Dean's head, making perfect contact, smearing ketchup all over his forehead and hair. The whole group burst out laughing and Chuck threw his hands up. "Victory is mine!"
Even Cas couldn't help but crack up at Dean' expression as he peeled the burger away, letting it land on the ground with a smack, and tried to wipe the ketchup and grease off his face.
"Here," Cas said. "Let me help." He lifted a hand and rubbed the ketchup further into Dean's hair, well into his scalp.
"Oh, come on—Cas, you little shit—" Dean shoved him away, grabbed the remainder of his burger, and smashed it against Cas' face, bun, burger, ketchup, and cheese covering his chin, part of his nose, and all around his mouth. From there, things escalated quickly into an all out food fight, everyone flinging food, or smearing it all over each other. In the end, there was probably more food on hair, skin, and clothes than there was in stomachs, but it had lightened everyone's moods, which was most definitely a success.
Jo wiped her mustardy hands over Anna's face, and Anna laughed, waving her hair in Jo's face.
"Now how are we supposed to get this all off?" Pamela asked. "As much as I'm sure we'd all love our vehicles smelling like Hardee's for the next month."
"I see all of Lake Michigan just over there," Ash said, gesturing out to the water.
Jess took off running first, shouting, "Race ya!" over her shoulder. Sam followed, tugging Andy along, and in moments, everyone was charging down the hill.
Jess ran into the water lapping gently at the shore fully clothed, and Sam tackled her, sending up a splash. In a joint effort, Inias and Jo shoved Anna over, and a shriek escaped her lips before she went under, red hair waving out around her like a flame.
Chuck seemed to think he could get away with stooping over and splashing water on himself in a shallow area—Pamela, Ash, and Adam had other ideas. Ash and Pam sent a giant splash his way, and while he was busy complaining about it, Adam picked him up and tossed him farther out. He came up sputtering, spitting water out. "Do you have any idea how unsanitary this water is? All the bacteria—Yeah, yeah, laugh at me all you want. I hope you all get dysentery." But after a few minutes, even Chuck was having a good time.
Dean created a wave with his arm and sent it Sam's way, getting him full in the face. Sam retaliated by hammering his fist through the water's surface, covering Dean with water several times before Cas jumped in and threw his full weight against Sam, knocking him under. Dean and Cas teamed up against Sam, but the girls seemed to decide that wasn't fair. Jess, Rachel, Anna, Jo, and Pamela all attacked in some valiant effort to defend Sam's puppy eyes, but after a few splashes, it was impossible to determine who was trying to get who.
Chuck got out of the water first, unable to stay away from his laptop and the news for long. Balthazar and Rachel sat at the water's edge with just their feet in. Ash was floating lazily on his back, Pamela occasionally reaching out to poke at his ribs. Jess and Sam were still playing half-heartedly, and Anna, Inias, Jo, and Adam were talking about something, treading water. Dean and Cas were the farthest out, but still not too far from the shore.
"So." Dean flicked a piece of algae Cas' way. "Amanda Heckerling won't be latching onto me again."
Cas rolled his eyes. "I'm glad. Did you have her watch Friday night? Or maybe you sent her a tape."
"I'm hurt you think so lowly of me!"
"You left me no option."
Dean made a face before growing serious. "When we made a run for supplies, I saw her in the back of the store."
Cas frowned. "Was she okay?"
"Not really. She had bite marks on her neck. She was slow at first, but then she jumped at me. I guess she was infected. Had to shoot her."
Cas kicked his feet lightly, arms rotating in tiny circles in the water. Amanda didn't deserve that. It was a shame such a thing had happened to her.
"What about you?" Dean asked.
"What about me?"
"Did you see anyone you knew?"
"I didn't…" Cas went back and tried to remember. "I wasn't really paying attention."
"Cas! You could've—"
"Calm down! I was paying attention enough to shoot, but I just didn't really see who. I was still thinking about…" He let the sentence drift away with the waves.
Dean had just placed a hand on Cas' shoulder when Chuck came sprinting down the hill shouting something.
They swam closer to shore, Dean yelling, "Chuck, slow down! We can't understand what you're saying."
"We have to go!" he shouted. "They're going to block off all of Indiana! We have to leave now!"
"Shit," Dean hissed.
Once everyone was by the cars, scrambling to get into dry clothes, Dean asked Chuck, "How long?"
"I don't know. The information got leaked—no one was supposed to know—and I can't find anything more."
Dean grabbed his phone out of the Impala and called his dad.
"Did you know they're quarantining all of Indiana?"
"I just heard," he said. "Are you out of the state yet?"
"Almost. We're by Lake Michigan. Do you think there's a chance they'll quarantine Illinois, too?"
"I don't know how far this thing'll spread."
Dean took a deep breath. "Okay. We'll be home by morning."
Seconds after he ended the call, six or more military trucks drove by, soldiers visible in the back with guns.
Cas, already changed, tossed Dean some clothes.
"Are we really going to try to get out of Indiana?" Anna asked as she pulled a shirt over her head.
"We have to try," Dean said, wiggling out of his jeans. "Once we're past the border, we'll switch drivers after a few hours." He saw the if he hadn't spoken in Anna's eyes. If they get past the border.
They didn't get past the border.
As they approached the edge of town, one of the soldiers took a few steps forward and held up a hand. Dean slowed to a stop, cursing under his breath. They should've never stopped, damn it. That had been stupid. If they would've just kept going—
Dean rolled down his window. "Good evening, sir."
"If only it was."
Dean laughed. "What's going on?"
"The quarantine's been extended to all of Indiana," he said. "I'm afraid I can't let you pass. "
"Ah, damn it. Not a chance? Me and my friends were just passing through."
He shrugged apologetically and Dean noticed how young he looked. Maybe even younger than him. "I'm sorry, no. If you want to wait it out, there's probably a motel somewhere. Or I know a shelter's going to get set up for anyone non-residents at the high school."
Dean lifted his hand and let it drop back onto the steering wheel. "Well, thanks. Hopefully this thing doesn't last too long."
The soldier smiled. "That'd be nice."
Dean executed a U-turn, the small caravan behind him following.
Awesome. Just awesome. They hadn't put any fences up yet, so Dean figured that had to be a good thing. Or at least…not a bad thing.
"Should we try just blowing by them?" Sam questioned.
"I have no idea," Dean admitted. "I'd rather not anyone get shot, but I don't wanna get stuck here either. They might not be able to contain it, and if that happens they'll get a kill all order. If they were going to get out, it should be sooner rather than later. The longer they waited, the more soldiers would show up, the more serious things would get.
"Should we call Dad?" Sam asked.
"Dad can't help us. We've gotta get outta here on our own."
"Maybe we should find somewhere to spend the night," Jess suggested. "And we can figure things out in the morning."
Dean chewed the inside of his cheek. He had zero ideas at the moment. If a kill-all did get ordered, a shelter would be one of the worst places to be. Hotels wouldn't be good either. "We'll camp out in our cars," Dean said. "Just to be safe."
"It's supposed to get cold tonight," Andy said.
"Then we'll grab a few cheap blankets from Walmart and dog pile in the back of the truck and the van," Dean said. "Overnight lodging just…isn't a good idea." He didn't want to freak them out. Especially Andy, after losing Ava. Sam must've guessed what he was thinking if the look he gave him was anything to go off of. "Sam, text everybody and tell them what's happening."
His brother pulled out his phone and his fingers flew across the keyboard. "I'll ask Chuck to find a Walmart, too."
Thirty minutes later, they were all parked behind a Walgreens, everyone gathered around the back of the Novaks' van grabbing blankets and pillows.
"So what's the plan for tomorrow?" Jo asked.
"We've gotta figure out a way to get past the blockade," Dean said. "I guess we'll figure it out in the morning. A good night's rest should help everyone to think better."
Jo nodded. "Okie-dokie."
They split up by gender by unspoken agreement, girls taking the van and guys the back of the truck. Sam and Jess kissed goodnight and got teased for it a little, but everyone was too tired to stay awake for long. Nine to five was more than a little unequal though, and there was a lot of umf and ouch and that's my leg before the guys finally settled down and semi-comfortable. Andy was curled up in a corner near Sam's gigantor body. Inias was in another corner by Balthazar who was beside Adam. Ash was sprawled out in the middle, because apparently there wasn't much difference between a crowded truck bed and a pool table, and Chuck was stretched out pressed up against the one of the sides. Cas was lying at the back of the truck, facing away from everyone. Dean waited a few minutes for everyone to fall asleep before scooting a little closer and slipping his arm around Cas' waist.
"Dean," Cas whispered, "they might get the wrong idea."
"So?" Dean snuggled (except it wasn't snuggling) closer. Last year when Dean had found out his mom had cancer and Cas had come back late from hanging out with Anna to find him sniffling in his bed, he'd climbed in and they'd slept together—literally, just slept—and it was nice having someone there beside you. "We'll probably wake up long before them anyway."
Cas sighed in resignation and let himself sink into Dean. Cas' hair tickled his nose, but he didn't pull away.
At one point in the night, something woke Dean up but it turned out to just be a stray cat, and when he sat up, Cas made a quiet whimpering sound. He had curled up into a ball facing Dean, and when Dean laid back down again, he burrowed into Dean's chest. Dean tucked his head under his chin and fell back asleep.
Dean woke up slowly, the beginnings of dawn just peeking up over the horizon. He laid awake for a while before opening his eyes, and when he did, he found Cas staring at him with those ridiculously blue eyes.
"You okay?" Dean asked, voice gravelly with sleep.
"I thought maybe it was a dream and I'd wake up," he confessed, voice hushed.
"No dream," he mumbled, pressing his forehead to Cas' and closed his eyes. "Go back t'sleep. We can get a couple more hours."
As life would have it, Jo was the first one up, and after waking the girls, she came over to wake up the guys. Dean and Cas cuddling (except it wasn't cuddling), the first thing she saw. Dean jerked awake when she flicked his nose.
"Ouch! What the hell—" She gave him a smug look and he realized what she'd seen. "Oh, come on, Jo—no, it's not—"
"Called it." She winked at him and slammed her hands against the side of the truck, startling awake everyone else. "Seven AM, up and at 'em! Anna's getting breakfast, but you can't sleep-eat."
Cas sat up—Dean was pretty sure he'd been awake—with hair sticking out in every direction he probably didn't want it going.
"Nice hair, Castiel," Jo commented slyly before bouncing back to the van. Cas shot Dean a lazy I-told-you-so look. Dean tried to remember if Cas knew Jo knew about Friday. He didn't think he did. Dean made a mental note to tell him when he got the chance.
"After breakfast, I'd like to shower," Balthazar said, lifting an arm out and staring at it like he found it disgusting.
"Of course you would, princess," Adam remarked. (He was not by any means a morning person.)
"I need to charge my laptop," Chuck said with a yawn, stretching his arms above his head.
"Me, too," Ash said.
"You brought your laptop?" Balthazar questioned. "I thought all you had was alcohol and a change of clothes."
Cas reached over and opened the back of the truck, probably figuring it would be good to get everyone out of Pamela's truck before they woke up enough to bring out the real insults. Once breakfast got here, they'd hopefully be too busy eating to continue their squabble.
"Is your phone working?" He dug it out of his pocket to check. "Because last night I had five bars and now I don't have any."
He wasn't getting a signal either. "That's odd. Ash? Chuck?"
There were a couple groans and grunts from the back of the truck. "Why aren't we getting a signal?"
Ash's head appeared like a gopher popping up. "What?"
"Is anyone's phone working?" Cas asked.
"They might be using a signal jammer," Ash said.
"Why?" Adam asked, sitting fully up and pushing his sandy hair back.
"Who the fuck knows," Ash shrugged.
"Awesome," Dean muttered.
"I'll go see if anyone inside knows what's going on," Pamela volunteered before heading into the Walgreens.
By the time she came back out, Anna and Jo had arrived with breakfast.
"Each state is being put under its own quarantine," she explained, unwrapping a breakfast biscuit. "They're blocking cell and wifi signals to 'prevent spread of panic,' which is complete bullshit."
"Every state is quarantined?" Chuck's eyes grew wide and nervous.
"Great," Adam said. "So what now?"
Everyone was looking expectantly at Dean, but he had a blank expression and no way to get in contact with his dad.
"We stay here," Cas jumped in. "In Indiana. We keep close to the border in case we get a chance to move into Illinois, but only if the opportunity presents itself." He glanced around and found everyone had turned their eyes on him. "We stick together. No more separating, since we have no way to stay in contact. We avoid staying at any shelter or hotel." If there was a possibility that the military would get a kill all order, those would quickly become slaughter houses. "We don't draw attention to ourselves."
Dean finally spoke up. "If there's another outbreak and they can't control it, we hide. Soldiers won't be protecting us then, most likely they'll become an enemy. Trying to outrun guns is too risky. We lock up in places they've already cleared out. If a soldier gets taken down, get his weapons if you can."
"They confirmed that bites are fatal, in gentler words. It's in their blood, their saliva. They're keeping the infected in a closed off area or areas, they didn't specify. They don't want them killed. The news said they were still humans, just sick, and killing one is murder if it's not an act of self-defense."
"Basically, they want civilians to play helpless and stand by while the government takes care of everything," Jo simplified.
Pamela nodded. "Basically."
"How long will this last?" Inias asked.
"There's no way to tell," Dean said. "A week, a month. Cas is right though, we stick together, wait it out. There's no point in risking our necks if we'd just be stuck all over again."
Well, they waited. Two whole days, they waited, before everything went to shit. There was an break in Ohio's border. Radio broadcast and local television stations warned citizens to stay inside, but everyone just wanted to get the fuck out, only making things more chaotic. At first, they thought the freaks would be stopped before they reached the opposite side of the state—which is why they delayed the fucking announcement—but that didn't happen. The last rays of light had just disappeared over the horizon when they heard the first screams, which was just fanfuckingtastic. Perfect timing.
"Remember," Dean said. "If they open fire on civilians, we hide."
"What do we do until then?" Rachel asked.
"Gunfire other than their own would draw attention," Dean said. "I guess we wait. Stay quiet. If any freaks come our way, we bash their heads in until they stop moving."
"Excellent plan, Winchester," Ash said with a slap on the back.
They knelt by the side of the truck facing away from the road, holding their breath. They were still parked outside Walgreens (God knows why, they shouldn't have stayed in one place for so long, but no one had said anything about the six vehicles that hadn't left for several days.)
"Can zombies smell people?" Chuck whispered across Cas.
Dean held a finger to his lips. In truth, he had no freaking idea if those things could smell them or not. He was pretty sure they'd be able to hear them though.
A minute passed. Then two, then three. Dean could see Cas' lips barely moving, counting seconds. Rasps and moans from across the street were carried over to them on the breeze, but they stayed still. Someone screamed, and Dean told himself over and over that he couldn't help them, he couldn't help them. Stay together, don't split up. There were more screams, and Dean realized someone might notice their vehicles and try stealing one or more. Would he just let it happen?
One of the freaks found them, running like a drunk; one of his legs was twisted at the knee almost 180 degrees. Jo stabbed one of the bitch's eyes with the end of a crowbar before bringing the metal down on its head, knocking it over. She hit it, again and again, until it stopped moving.
Anna stood up and looked over her shoulder, a cold, blank expression settling over her features. "There goes our cover."
There was a hoard of at least two dozen, some sprinting, some limping, coming towards them.
"Let's move!" Dean said. "Keep an eyes out for soldiers," he said, hurrying to the Impala. "If you see them gunning down people, honk twice, one long, one short, and we ditch the cars as soon as we're out of sight. You see available weapons, honk three times short." The contents of his baby's trunk wouldn't last them forever, and they had to be prepared. Thank God his father was paranoid and insistent, or they probably wouldn't have made it this far.
Driving by, people would chase their vehicles, screaming at them to help them. Most of the people had already been bit
"Stop the car!" Jess screamed.
"There's a little kid, Dean!" she yelled.
He found where she was looking and cursed under his breath. "Roll down your window, get his attention."
"Hey! Kid!" she shouted a second later.
Big eyes locked onto her and Dean slowed the car. The kid was peeking out from under a half-open garage door.
"Come here!" she yelled, gesturing wildly for him to hurry.
He glanced from side to side, checking to make sure the coast was clear.
"Tell him to run!" Dean couldn't wait forever; he was holding the whole group up and probably confusing the hell out of them.
Before Jess could open her mouth again, the boy took off across the yard. Three or four freaks were feasting on a motionless body in the middle of the yard, but one of them looked up and must've decided it wanted its own kill.
"Come on!" Jess screamed.
The freak had damn long legs though, and was gaining on the boy—fast.
"Son of a bitch," Dean muttered under his breath. He reached for his gun, but the kid made it to the car just in time. Dean gunned the accelerator before the door was shut, their crazy ass caravan following behind him.
Jess smoothed down the boys ruffled hair, keeping him in her lap. "What's your name, sweetie?"
Dean barely made out, "Jesse. Jesse Turner."
"Well, Jesse Jesse Turner, my name's Jessica. They're almost the same, huh? Do you know where your parents are?"
She pressed a kiss to the top of his head. "You're safe now."
He nestled into her arms and Dean knew she wouldn't be letting him go anytime soon. Awesome.
After half an hour of driving around, taking extra precautions trying to avoid military vehicles, they found a block that was mostly deserted—no people or freaks and just a few scattered vehicles.
Dean stepped warily out of the car, making sure nothing was going to jump them without notice before gesturing for the others to get out.
"We'll check out some of these houses," he said, "see if we can find one that's okay to stay in for a bit. The place looks emptied out already, so if worst comes to worst, hopefully we'll be alright if we just hunker down here."
The first house they checked was brick, three-stories, and vacant. The kitchen was pretty well stocked and when they found a finished roast in a crock-pot that was still warm, they were undoubtedly staying. They did a sweep of upstairs, just to make sure it was clear, then Dean said, "Just to be safe, everyone move their cars. All of them together look conspicuous. Keep them within sight of the house, though. The Impala and the van stay where they are; weapons and space will be what we need most if we've gotta get the hell out. Everyone get a buddy, move your car, and get back here."
Inias and Rachel found dishes, Sam started cutting up the roast, and Cas raided the fridge, pulling out drinks, pasta salad, and an entire fucking cheesecake.
"Somebody had a big dinner coming up," Dean noted.
"You could actually help get things out," Cas said.
Dean hoisted himself onto the counter. "Nah, I'm good."
Two by two, people trickled back in and gathered in the living room. Cas handed Dean the enormous dish of pasta salad, leaving no room for arguing, and when they came in they saw Jess closing the blinds and hanging heavy blankets over top of the windows. Good thinking on her part.
Sam already had the sliced roast sitting in the center of the floor, and Inias and Rachel had handed out the plates and silverware. "There's dessert, too," Cas said. "For later. I found some Pepsi, tea, milk, and lemonade, and of course there's water. What does everyone want?"
Some of the group might've thought it odd that Cas was getting their drinks—fifteen, including Jesse's and his own—for them, but Dean knew he just needed to keep busy. His memory was ridiculously perfect, but Dean followed him back into the kitchen to help.
"How many wanted water?"
"Four," Cas said without pause. He returned the milk to the fridge after pouring two glasses—one for Jesse and one for Ash. (Dean didn't understand how the guy could drink nothing but alcohol, and then when presented with four options choose milk.)
Supper was delicious and it wasn't a big deal that there wasn't enough for seconds. Mostly, everyone just looked tired.
"So," Anna said, finishing off her last bite of cheesecake. "Are we just going to dog pile in here, or how are we sleeping?"
"I am not dog piling again," Adam said vehemently. "Not again. I'm sure the van was nice and comfy, but the back of a truck was not."
"There are plenty of rooms," Inias said.
Jo swallowed the last swig of her lemonade. "We should avoid downstairs," she said. "They can't get through second story windows. If we barricade the door, we can all get a full eight hours."
"Okay. We need some people to barricade the front door. Check outside to see if there are any freaks in the street—if there are, stay quiet. Don't let any light shine through the windows when you look."
"I'll get on that right now," Pam volunteered. Balthazar, Anna, and Ash went with her.
"The rest of you, start covering windows."
"I need two people to help me with dishes," Cas said, and of course he would point out the obvious, normal thing that Dean had completely overlooked.
"I can do dishes," Andy said.
Jess gave Jesse a little shove in Cas' direction. "You go help Castiel and Andy, 'kay?" Dean heard her say.
As everyone else scattered to deal with the windows, Cas, Andy, and Jesse began gathering dishes. Dean allowed himself a brief moment to stare at Cas—and Andy and Jesse, too—just to make sure they were all okay and no one was going to break down and have a fit. Not that he thought Cas was that unstable, but he needed a reason to stare. Not that he was staring. A moment of looking wasn't long enough to be considered a stare. Unless he'd been looking for more than a moment. He left before anyone noticed.
Fifteen minutes later, he was back in the kitchen, eyes involuntarily drifting toward Cas. He looked ridiculously good for someone just standing there, washing dishes, sleeves rolled up past his elbows, hair sticking up every which way, arm muscles—yeah, okay, Dean needed to stop.
They had a nice little system going; Cas washing, Jesse rinsing, Andy drying and stacking them on the counter. Someone surprised him from behind, but it was just Pamela. "Quit staring, Dean-o," she whispered in his ear.
"I'm not—" but she was already across the room.
"Nothing's getting in the front or the back," Ash said, folding his arms and leaning them on the edge of the counter.
"Showers are in order now, right?" Anna said.
"Knock yourself out," Dean said.
They kept the showers short, no more than ten minutes each, and after that it was time to hit the sack.
Cas wasn't sure what time it was when he half-stumbled-half-crept into the room Dean was sleeping in, wearing too-big sweats and a t-shirt because no one had wanted to go outside and get their clothes, but he couldn't stay with his siblings when there were two of them missing.
Dean was sprawled out on a couch and Cas didn't bother to look at what else was in the room. He nudged Dean over and got under the blanket, and Dean's arm automatically found its way around Cas' waist. Cas squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face in Dean's neck, but even then it took him forever to fall asleep.