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What's a So-When?

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Dean was panicking. Everyone in class had been eagerly discussing their Halloween plans while his were, sadly, nonexistent. This wasn’t for lack of trying on Dean’s part. Until two hours ago, he had planned on crashing some parties with his best friend, Charlie. Then his phone pinged with the dreaded message.

The Queen: I’m going to miss Halloween 😭😭😭

Dean: what why?!

The Queen: I thought I had a small cold but Dorothy had to take me to the doc. Turns out I’ve got strep. She’s already exposed so she’s going to stay in and take care of me. 

The Queen: see what Jo is doing

Dean: no good, she had to go home to help Ellen

The Queen: I’m sure you’ll find something Handmaiden. I owe you one

Dean sank lower in his seat as he scanned his class, searching for any familiar faces. He didn’t want to be the guy who begged for a party invite but he didn’t want to be the guy who stayed in his dorm room on Halloween either.

As the professor dismissed them with admonitions to be careful that night, Dean slunk out of the class, resigned to a lame night of horror movies. 

On the way back to his dorm, he passed through the commons. While he normally avoided the commons like the plague because of the mass of people pushing their fliers on you, today he wanted to get back to his room as quickly as possible. 

Mindlessly staring at his phone, hoping for a flyer reprieve, he didn’t see the stranger until it was too late. 

“Oof,” Dean grunted, barely avoiding dropping his phone and bag on the pavement.  

“My bad,” a low voice chuckled. “But maybe you should make sure to look where you’re going.” 

“Yeah well how about you...” Dean froze as he glanced up into brilliant blue eyes.  

“How about I what?” The guy tilted his head. 

“Nothing man, nothing.” Dean heaved his bag more securely on his shoulder. Before he could leave, the stranger grabbed his upper arm.

“Wait, what are you doing for the holiday tonight?”

Without thinking, Dean blurted, “Nothing.” Internally, he kicked himself. Way to sound interesting Winchester. Wait, why do you want to sound interesting anyway?

The stranger’s face broke into a radiant smile. “You should come out to my group’s celebration. It’s out at Kripke Farms.”

“That’s nice of you to offer but I’m just a freshman,” Dean said. “No car, no Kripke Farms.”

“I can pick you up,” the guy quickly said. “Unless that’s good weird.”

A small smile tugged at Dean’s lips. “I guess that’d be okay. I’m in West Hall.” 

The stranger grabbed a bag sitting at his feet. “Great, I’ll be outside at 6.” He started to walk away.

“Wait!” Dean yelled. “What’s your name? What do I need to wear, costume-wise?”

Flashing another bright grin at Dean, the guy turned to face him as he walked backwards. “It’s Castiel and all black.” Then he turned and jogged across the commons.

 

A few hours later, Dean paced in front of his closet. “All black?” He mumbled. “What the hell was I thinking?”

“You weren’t cher,” his roommate Benny drawled. “I told you to come to the football party with me.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah yeah I know. But I don’t want to deal with Gordon and Al all night. They’re assholes, Benny.” Not to mention that there was just something about Castiel that was intriguing , Dean thought before grabbing his black leather jacket.

“True that,” Benny laughed. “Just don’t get sacrificed.”

Dean slumped against the door. “Don’t say that,” he grumbled. “I’ll be back later.”

“Stay in one piece!” Benny laughed as the door shut.

 

Dean nervously shifted in the car. He wasn’t regretting accepting Castiel’s offer, per se, but he was regretting mindlessly diving into whatever situation this was going to be. Benny hadn’t heard of any parties happening out at Kripke Farms and neither had Charlie. Plus, the all-black outfit choice was a little strange. His eyes flicked over to Cas, who was driving one hand on the steering wheel and the other resting on the gear shift. 

“So, what are we doing at this Halloween party?” Dean said, breaking the silence.

“Well,” Cas laughed a little. “It’s actually a Samhain gathering.”

“A what?” Dean spluttered. “What’s so-when?”

Castiel grabbed the wheel with both hands as he laughed. “My apologies, Dean. I probably should have told you more but you looked a little lost and lonely today. Samhain, which is spelled S-A-M-H-A-I-N, is a festival where we remember the dead, celebrate the end of summer and prepare for winter.” He turned to Dean, smiling softly. “Basically, what my friends and I do is hold a little seance, carve some pumpkins and just interact with each other. It’s very relaxed compared to other Wicca celebrations.”

“Wicca?” Dean spluttered. “Does that mean you’re a witch?”

Castiel snorted. “I guess you could say that. I don’t go around riding broomsticks or casting spells on people. It’s more of a spiritual thing for me, a place where I can be in tune with nature and feel accepted. You don’t get that in a lot of monotheistic religions. I should know,” he said, shoulders drawing together.

“I feel like there’s a story there,” Dean softly said. 

Castiel turned to him and smiled a small, sad smile. “Maybe if you make it through tonight, I’ll tell you.”

Dean gently pushed Castiel’s arm. “You’re not really inspiring confidence here man. My roommate told me not to get sacrificed tonight. I don’t like breaking promises, Cas.”

As he put the car in park, Castiel stared at Dean intently. “Cas?”

A flush stained Dean’s cheeks. “Yeah, man. Castiel gets to be a mouthful after awhile. But if you’d rather I call you that…”

Castiel laid a hand on Dean’s arm. “I like it.” His fingers trailed down Dean’s arm before he reached over to open the car door. “I’m glad you bumped into me today.”

“Me too,” Dean softly said before following Cas to the ring of people sitting near a bonfire.