Title: Fire Alarms are for Emergencies ONLY! (Though in this Case I’ll Make an Exception)
Author(s): Mistina60 of the Cranky ol’ Fangirls
Rating: 14a for mature language
Spoilers: I don’t think there are any. This is very AU.
Length: 3, 951 words
Inspired by a prompt that I’m quite sure wasn’t meant for this particular fandom but here it is as a Destiel University AU!
Third year Theology major, Castiel, had become accustomed to stupid and/or drunk students pulling the alarms throughout the year at stupid hours. He didn’t like it, but he had come to accept it. This particular prank alarm, however, might make them all worth while.
Castiel is not socially awkward because he’s asexual. He is socially awkward because he’s Castiel!
No matter what sexuality, gender, species, or universe he finds himself in, Castiel will still be Castiel.
No two people are alike and asexuals are no exception. We vary from socially inept to socially adequate to social butterflies to social gods. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We all are capable of having a wide variety of skills, interests, hobbies, preferences, etc.
Castiel is socially awkward because he’s CASTIEL!
A shrill beeping sound shattered the comfortable silence of the dorms. The loud insistent alarm roused the students into a chorus of sighs and groans and cussing. Castiel, a third year Theology major, was among them.
His eyes fluttered opened as he heaved a frustrated, yet unsurprised, sigh. University life was nothing like in the movies or on TV, but that didn’t stop certain classmates from behaving like silver screen buffoons. Yawning, he sat up to stretch and rub his eyes into wakefulness. Every year there were idiots pulling the fire alarm at the dorm for laughs, frequently and at very unfortunate hours of the day.
With another yawn, Castiel reached for the trench coat he kept folded on the nightstand, a habit he started when he had finally realized that false alarms were a common occurrence in dorm life. Hell, he couldn’t even remember when the last fire drill was since they were lost in the torrents of prank alarms. The dorm's population had already been lectured by the fire department twice this semester alone, but lectures have never deterred morons in the past and probably never will.
Sluggishly, he turned his head to check his alarm clock for the time: 3:00AM. Rolling his eyes, he got to his feet and fetched his shoes then draped his trench coat over his sweatpants and tee shirt. Once sufficiently dressed, he left his room into a bustling hallway.
He was on the twelfth floor, so not only were his dorm mates whining about the 3:00AM wake up call but they were also moaning about the twenty four flights of stairs they had to climb at 3:00AM (the trudge down and then the march back up). Castiel didn’t mind the stairs so much, but it seemed that his colleagues had forgotten that it was freezing cold and snowing outside, which he also didn’t mind, but the cacophony of complaints was going to hit record levels tonight, which he did mind.
With another sigh, he was pulled into the tangle of half-asleep uni students in various states of dress. After ten minutes of descending the steps—enduring elbow jabs, having his toes stepped on, and being kicked repeatedly in the shin—he finally reached the lobby. Castiel flipped up the collar of his coat and pulled the fabric so that it wrapped his shoulders more firmly. Braced for the weather—and the inevitable whining—he stepped outside.
He shuddered when the biting wind grazed his stubbled cheeks as soon as the sliding doors opened. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he crossed the street to the adjacent building where the other evacuees were gathering. He found himself a spot behind them, leaning back against the glass wall while the others surrounded him. This particular position was a strategy he had developed over the years: have a building at his back and use the crowd as a human shield against the worst of the cold. That it usually ended up being a great spot to 'people watch' was an unexpected perk.
‘People watching’ was a guilty pleasure of his. Well, less of a guilty pleasure and more of a deeply conditioned habit. Castiel had always had trouble relating to others—the boys were all fixated on tits and ass, the girls were always primping themselves to catch a boy’s eye, then there was him completely uncomprehending and uninterested in the preoccupations of either—so he had always observed others in an attempt to learn.
Learn he did. Albeit nothing useful in regards to his social awkwardness, but what he did discover was entertaining.
Early morning alarms usually resulted in the most interesting fashion choices. Sometimes there were mismatched shoes or socks and sometimes there were onesies. He’d seen flannel pajamas with big fluffy bunny slippers, super hero jammies, various plush dolls and blankets, costumes you couldn’t even imagine being worn on Halloween, a jock in a neon pink bathrobe and boots with a cheerleader in a football jersey and heels... He’d even seen a scary vinyl and zipper garment though he truly wished he hadn’t.
And those were just the ones who managed to get some fabric on before evacuating.
There was always at least one person caught straight out of the shower who ended up outside in just a towel or one person who sleeps in the nude and only managed to wrap the comforter around themselves. Then there’s the occasional streaker, of course, but never in this kind of weather, thank God…
As Castiel reminisced about the 'best dressed' of past fire alarms, a shivering form caught his eye. The poor guy was hunched over, arms wrapped around himself in a futile—as he was only dressed in shorts and boots—attempt at warmth. He was large and muscular, neither of which would help against the cold, with slight love handles, which would only imperceptibly help against the cold. His nose, cheeks and ears were so pink they were practically glowing, his teeth chattered so loudly Castiel could almost hear it through the clamoring crowd, and his breath produced sporadic puffs of air like a chimney. Castiel nearly started getting chills just watching the guy, he looked so miserable.
Castiel frowned. Though seeing his fellow students caught in the cold in various states of undress was hilarious in hindsight, it was never quite so funny in real time. When faced with people in genuine need, Castiel would always do his best to help and today, at 3:00AM in the cold snow, he was no different. Being the bleeding heart that he was, he didn’t hesitate to make his way over to stand behind the freezing guy and, without a thought, wrapped him up in the trench coat. The fact that such a gesture could be interpreted as anything but being a good Samaritan never crossed his mind because… As was mentioned earlier, his mind just wasn’t wired that way.
“What the fuck?!” The guy yelped in surprise.
He struggled but Castiel held him firmly. “You’ll get sick if you stand out here in your just your boxers. You might even die, in fact.” Castiel could see him flush, well he could see ears which turned from pink to red.
“Better to die in the cold because I’m a dumbass who forgot my coat then to live going around molesting people under the pretense of warming them up,” the man ground out through chattering teeth.
“Molest?” Castiel blinked in genuine confusion before he understood the man’s accusation. “Is this sexual for you?” he asked, finally recalling how his actions could be viewed by people who weren’t him. Oops.
The guy wriggled around to face his captor. “What the Hell are you playing at—” Once he was finally facing Castiel, the anger seemed to dissipate only to be replaced by a hazy recognition and a fierce curiosity. “Oh. You’re that guy everyone talks about.”
Castiel tilted his head owlishly, even more confused now.
“You know! The religious robot dude—” the man bit his lip in shame, realizing too late that the words were rude.
“Oh, that guy,” Castiel said, dumbfounded but completely unoffended. He wasn't bothered by such teasing in his first year, so now, 3 years later, he really couldn't care less. However, he was surprised that this shivering man was more remorseful of his own misdeeds even in the face of someone who was allegedly even more in the wrong. “I suppose that’s me. My name is Castiel.”
Before the man in his arms could respond, a floor rep called for silence.
“Alright, everybody, listen up!” The floor rep waited for an adequate silence—as completely quieting a large group of college students was never going to happen—before continuing. “Until the fire department checks the building we are not to go back inside. Unfortunately for us, we have to walk two blocks for shelter. Head for Building F, people!”
“What about this building?!” shouted someone from the now even more disgruntled crowd.
”No one here has the keys to that building,” was the blunt response, eliciting groans from the crowd. ”It sucks, I know. But let's get moving before someone catches something!”
The man in Castiel's arms suddenly struggled—again—to break free but—again—he held fast. ”Is it more preferable to walk the two blocks in just your shorts then to walk it with me and my coat?” he asked uncertainly, torn between the awkwardness of the situation—that he was now aware of—and his moral obligation to not to let someone die.
“Yes!” the man snapped irritably. “Because I don’t know you and it’s creepy!”
Confidence lost and more than a little embarrassed, Castiel let go. “Sorry, I didn’t realize…”
The man stepped back, looking slightly contrite as he eyed Castiel warily. “Your rep isn’t exaggerated, is it?” he asked softly before turning around to make his way to the shelter of Building F.
Though shaken by this failed interpersonal interaction, Castiel was undeterred. He swiftly removed his coat to place it firmly on the man’s shoulders before speeding away ahead of him.
“Hey!” the man exclaimed in surprise. “Dammit, man! Wait up!”
Castiel slowed down so the man could catch up. Once the man was at his side and matched his pace, Castiel asked apprehensively, “Was that creepy too?”
“Wha? No! I— Well... Dammit!” He took a steadying breath. “My name is Dean.”
“Oh.” Castiel blinked in surprise. “Hello, Dean,” he said softly, teeth chattering slightly as he was just starting the feel the cold now that he was without his coat.
The man—Dean—smiled awkwardly. “Thanks, man.”
Castiel was shivering visibly now, but his smile was warm and sincere.
They walked in silence for less than a minute before Dean exclaimed, “Dammit!” Castiel stopped dead in his tracks at the sudden curse. “Look, I appreciate your help, but I feel like a dick wearing your coat while you freeze your ass off.”
“But I offered it to you," said Castiel, perplexed. “Besides, I’m wearing more clothing than you are and it’s only two blocks...”
“So?! I still feel like a dick…” Dean trailed off as he swiftly—as if he’d lose his nerve if he didn’t move quickly—bridged the gap between them to pull Castiel under the coat alongside him.
Castiel raised an intrigued brow at the contradictory gesture. “This makes you feel better?”
“Much better!” said Dean with conviction, grinning wide.
“Okay, then.” Castiel smiled through the cold induced shudders, though he was feeling much warmer already. “Let’s go. It’s really cold out.”
“No. Really? I haven’t noticed.” Dean stuck out his tongue playfully and had them both laughing.
They hastily made their way to their toasty warm destination. They were so focused on getting to said shelter—it’s fucking cold, after all—that they didn't banter. However, for reasons that eluded them both, they grinned like idiots the whole way there.
Eventually they finally crossed the threshold of their temporary shelter, into a dimly lit lobby that held the much coveted artificially heated air. At first, the heat was like a smack to the face, which had the pair hiss from the shock, but the stuffy air soon enveloped them and they sagged with relief.
“Thank God!” exclaimed Dean, whooping with joy. That is, until he noticed that Castiel was moving away. “Wait!” Dean grabbed the other man’s arm, a physical reaction that seemed almost unconscious to Castiel.
He tilted his head again. "I wasn’t leaving, just vacating the coat.” When Dean moved to remove the garment, Castiel held out a halting hand. “Keep it until you get your hands on... some more clothes.” he said, in a way he hoped wouldn’t be misconstrued as sexual innuendo or leering considering his mistake earlier. He was genuinely concerned, seeing as the lobby was full of tired students of varying degrees of maturity and under that coat...
“Oh.” Dean flushed, only just becoming self-conscious now that the situation was no longer dire. With the evacuees casually milling about the lobby of Building F as they waited to return to their dorms, Dean would feel very exposed in just his boxers. In fact, he already felt pretty exposed even with the coat on, which made losing it all the more daunting. Awkwardly tugging on the coat’s lapels, pulling the coat tighter around his trembling form, he mumbled a shy, “Thanks.”
“No problem!” said Castiel as he looked about for a place to settle down and wait for the green light to trek back to the dorms.
Other than the floor, there were only the chairs—the ones set out for parents and other visitors across from the reception desk—but they were all currently occupied by his dorm mates. Castiel had anticipated this, seeing as in situations like these, all chairs—no matter how cheap or uncomfortable—are always snatched up right away. However, over the last couple of years Castiel had learned that the chairs in a corner, obscured by a large potted plant, tend to get missed. Fortunately, they had been missed again tonight and Castiel could quickly claim one for himself. He claimed another chair for Dean too, who gratefully accepted the fairly isolated seat.
“What’s your major?” asked Castiel, both to help the poor guy relax—after all, he’s had a rough night so far—and out of genuine curiosity.
“Mechanical Engineering,” Dean replied easily. “Uh… First year,” he quickly added as an afterthought.
“So cars and trains and planes and… robots?”
Dean flinched at the jab. “Cars, mostly. Robotics is a completely different field…” he answered with an apprehensive smile.
“Relax. I was just teasing,” Castiel reassured gently, while his mind reverently reviewed what he had said over and over looking for mistakes. Not that he could recognize social missteps if there were any. “For the record, I’m not a robot. I’m just socially awkward...” he faltered, unintentionally emphasizing his point.
“You seem to be doing fine. Well, except for attacking me from behind.” Dean joked without thinking. His face clearly expressed that he was internally kicking himself for bringing that up after the admission. Castiel couldn’t help but find this endearing.
“About that…” started Castiel, nervously worrying his lower lip.
For reasons that completely eluded him, he wanted Dean to understand why he did the strange things he did. He didn’t want to be misunderstood by Dean. More specifically, he didn’t want Dean to see him the way everyone else seemed to. For Castiel this was strange as he had never felt such a compulsion before, but he couldn’t deny that he felt such a compulsion now. However, without any prior experience of successfully expressing himself or of others coming to understand him, he found himself at a total loss as to how to proceed.
“About what?” asked Dean, oblivious to Castiel’s inner turmoil but that’s how any new acquaintance should be.
“About what you called ‘attacking you from behind.’” Castiel clarified carefully, notwithstanding the air quotes he did out of habit. He didn’t understand why he was pressing the matter. After all, compulsions didn’t have to be carried out. With effort they could be ignored, but he wasn’t even trying to resist.
“I didn't mean it like that,” said Dean, trying for nonchalant but he still came across as uneasy. “Well… Okay, I guess I did... But now I know that you aren’t a creeper and actually had pure intentions, though I wouldn’t recommend going around and doing that to other people—”
“It just never occurred to me that that could be considered… sexual,” Castiel blurted.
“What? Why not?” asked Dean. Though he was obviously taken aback, he somehow managed not to react aggressively and respond amicably.
“Well, I’ve never really thought about that stuff—” Castiel rambled until he realized that Dean clearly didn’t understand what he was trying to say, much less glean the point he was attempting to make.
“So.... Are you saying that you’ve never—"
“Yeah, I’ve never…” Castiel cleared his throat and not so subtly changed the subject. “Here I go, being socially awkward again," he said, trying to sound casual even though inside he was freaking out. He was so afraid that he had been about to make a huge mess that he aborted the topic altogether.
Though Castiel worried about making a social faux pas, he noticed that a hope lingered: a hope that he and Dean would meet up again. After tonight, that is. He then realized that he really wanted to talk with Dean again, so much so that it was terrifying. He rarely bonded with anyone—much less upon the first encounter and never after meeting a person in such a bizarre way—yet here he was, anxious about how he came across to Dean. Castiel hoped he was making a good impression but he feared he wasn’t since precedence proved otherwise. At the same time, he wanted Dean to know everything about him and still accept him: his social awkwardness, his family baggage, his steadfast moral compass, his asexuality...Everything.
"To clear up the rest of what you know of me from my reputation, yes I am male, and identify as such, so that part of my ‘reputation’ is correct." Castiel returned to clearing up his ‘robot’ reputation, setting aside his concerns and confusion for when he had the time to review and resolve them. When Dean chuckle at the start of his literal break down of his reputation, he relaxed. "Religious? Not so much, though I am majoring in Theology.”
Another swing, another miss. “I study religions.”
“Oh…” Dean looked like he suspected there was much more to this than was he being told, and he was right to, but he politely let it slide much to Castiel’s relief. “So you’re a brain, huh?”
Castiel tilted his head, which had Dean chuckling again, having obviously recognized the mannerism from before.
“Book smart. All research and reading and studying..." Dean elaborated, trailing off as a thought struck him. "Hey, you’d get along great with my little brother, Sammy. He’s a brain too! In fact, he's studying Law at Stanford,” he said, beaming with pride.
"Stanford? Really?” Castiel's eyebrows shot up, well and truly impressed, but couldn’t help teasing a little. “What, are you guys blue bloods or something?”
Considering Dean was a Mechanical Engineering major specializing in automotive repair, Castiel was pretty much certain that wasn’t how ‘Sammy’ got accepted into the Stanford Law program. The fact that he had even bothered to reply creatively, with an ironic remark, confused him. He never thought he could be playful, yet here he was teasing someone he had only just met and wasn’t worried about of being misinterpreted.
“Not even close!” Dean laughed at that, clearly catching and appreciating the subtle humor which only baffled Castiel further. “He’s just wicked smart. He got in on a full scholarship!” he continued to boast lovingly.
“Oh wow..." Castiel's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he smiled happily. Dean’s pride and joy was quite infectious. "I’m nowhere near that brainy, though.”
“You just said you’re a Theology major, right? So you’ve got to be pretty close, at least.” Castiel preened at the praise, which unexpectedly made Dean nervous. He could tell by how Dean’s elated expression faltered and how he cleared his throat.
“The scholarship was a huge help, but we still had to work to pay for the outstanding expenses...” Dean tried to resume the safe topic that was his brother, but it seemed that he had only managed to talk himself into a figurative corner.
Castiel presumed that there was more to his tale, probably explaining why a man in his early thirties was a First Year Uni student, but now wasn’t the time to delve into that. So, as Dean had done for him, Castiel gave him an out. “Your brother sounds amazing, Dean.”
“Thanks, Cas,” Dean said, then immediately became flustered when he realized too late the nickname that had unintentionally rolled off his tongue. “Uh… I mean—”
“Never been called ‘Cas’ before, but I like it,” said Castiel, smiling softly, and Dean couldn’t help but smile back. “Much better than ‘Cassie’, anyhow.”
Dean laughed at that, but before he could asked about that other nickname the floor rep was calling for everyone’s attention.
“Alright, we can head back now!” the floor rep bellowed over the chattering of tired and frustrated students, motioning them out the doors. “By the way, the Firemen are really pissed off this time so if one of you think of pulling this prank again… Just remember the last few lectures and expect the next one to be much, much worse.”
Dean and Castiel carefully got to their feet, their muscles groaning in protest from sleep deprivation, the sudden shifts in temperature and the exercise that was completely unwanted in such conditions. They stretched, bracing themselves for one last excursion. Before Castiel could take a step towards the doors, Dean held the trench coat open in invitation.
Chuckling, Cas settled in next to Dean and asked, “Ready?”
Dean rolled his eyes, a gesture that seemed almost fond but Castiel couldn’t be sure. “Fuck, let’s just get this over with!” He pulled the coat tighter around them and he hurried them out into the cold only to yelp when the cold air suddenly clawed at his bare skin.
“Agreed,” said Castiel, teeth already chattering, but added with a smile, “but this is much better than our first trip.”
Dean did a doubletake, then laughed out loud. “Yeah. Much better!”
Trudging through the snow and against the wind went much faster this time around and they quickly found themselves safely ensconced inside the dormitory lobby. Castiel snuck out from under the coat and and, before Dean could protest, settled the garment onto Dean’s frame.
“I told you, Dean," said Castiel as he adjusted the lapels for the shivering man, "keep it until you can get your own clothes on.”
Cheeks burning, Dean mumbled into the collar. “Thanks man.”
“You’re welcome, Dean,” said Castiel as they both jammed themselves into the now functional elevator, which was packed with their fellow students who also refused to take the stairs. Somehow, they managed to squish their way in so they that were still standing next to one another. Well, they were standing upright but they were smushed together shoulder to shoulder.
“I’m on the 6th floor...” Dean gasped, having just been elbowed in the gut.
“I’m on the 12th— OW!!” exclaimed Castiel, his toe having just been stomped on.
“12th?! Wait! How am I going to return your coat?!”
“I’m room seven!” Castiel yelled over the cacophony of the slowly emptying elevator.
“Floor 12, Room 7?!” Dean shouted for confirmation.
“Oh, look! It’s your floor!” Castiel pushed Dean out of the elevator, laughing.
“It’s Room 7, Floor 12? Right?!” Dean yelped, his tone slightly panicked. He quickly stepped aside to wait anxiously as the occupants of this floor exited the elevator. Once clear, he desperately returned to the entrance way before the doors could close.
“Room 7 on the 12th floor?” he asked again, a little out of breath.
Castiel couldn’t help the smile on his lips. “Yes, Dean.” he finally answered, before chuckling fondly. “See you when you’re dressed.”
“It was nice meeting you, Cas,” said Dean, a little flustered from that little jab.
“It was nice meeting you too,” Castiel replied shyly. “See you soon?”
Castiel waved goodbye to Dean.
He waved back.
The remaining students started to groan, one of them shouting, “12th floor, room 7! Can we get a move on now so I can get some sleep before my exam this aft?!”
Embarrassed, they stepped back to let the doors close. They grinned at one another until they couldn’t see each other anymore. Actually, they continued to grin long after that.