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Desolation by MooseFeels
Word Count: 25,200
Summary: Slavery is legal, but contentious. Clinics across America work to free slaves, either by shuttling refugees across the border into Canada or by buying them at auction and freeing them. The Chicago Roadhouse is such a clinic, and Castiel Novak is an accountant for them. He comes home one day with more than his meager paycheck.
A slavery AU fic can be a gateway to many kinks for some and triggers for others. This heartfelt, emotional story takes a different approach and stands on its own. Here, the author has created a world that is very similar to ours except for widespread, legal slavery and its damaging impact on society. The story starts at the point where most of slave AU stories usually end: Dean is a freed slave and Castiel is his reluctant tutor in all things free people take for granted – a hot meal, open communication, access to medical care, agency over your own body, while Gabriel takes care of literacy and a strip club. Dean’s physical recovery from the hell of human making is slow and heartwrenching, full of quiet hurt/comfort moments between him and Cas, with both of them giving as good as they’re getting.
I really loved how the author showed us that even inside an abused body, Dean is still the same person we know – rebellious and defiant with a cocky grin, beaten but not broken. The tender romance that follows is well deserved and delightful to read; it seems that I’ve a soft spot for stories where Dean and Cas understand each other silently, sigh. And while this story is mostly about Dean’s recovery, it is also an emancipation story where anti-slavery lawyer Sam Winchester has an important role to play; his friendship and bonding moments with Dean bring additional emotions to the story and are crucial to the plot.
On Air by wincechesters
Word Count: 21,000
Summary: Cas and Dean are radio DJs who host the second most popular morning show in Lawrence. They’ve been co-hosts for years at different stations across the country, and they own a house together out of necessity, even though they’re just friends. But for some reason, a lot of their listeners and even some of their friends and family seem to think that they’re secretly in some kind of relationship, which they’re totally not (besides that one time that totally doesn’t count). In spite of that, Dean thinks he’s got everything figured out, until an ill-fated on air game of Truth or Dare turns everything upside down (and the billboards around town aren’t helping either).
Dean and Cas have been together for years, but are they together, together? The public is curious, the station manager doesn’t care as long as ratings go up, their friends speculate and ultimately even Dean and Cas seem confused on the subject. Truth or Dare is the great equalizer in this fun game of “are they or aren’t they”.
I really enjoyed the rampant speculation, Cas’ deadpan “on-air” answers and Dean’s general panic. This is a delightful romantic comedy that pays off with some wicked hot sex. Ooooo - did I give it away? Enjoy!
recced by anon
Castiel Novak is different, and this is something he’s know all of his life. It’s not just the fact that he’s a highly intelligent awkward loner who finds it practically impossible to communicate like a normal human being. What sets him apart the most is the fact that he has a pair of wings sprouting from his back. However, due to the stigma of society and his wish to remain primarily unnoticed in high school, Castiel is forced to hide his wings from prying eyes.
Things take an odd turn when Dean Winchester appears to begin to take an interest him, especially since it’s never been much of a secret that Castiel hates his guts.
recced by veganasana
Castiel is shy, quiet, and overwhelmingly attracted to his roommate, Dean Winchester, who he’s pretty sure is straight. But what happens when he finds out that exactly the opposite is true? Will he crumble under the idea of this god being available to him finally, or will he finally learn to open up and be okay with closeness? Castiel has a haunting past, something he is always trying to forget, making intimacy a rather difficult challenge. College AU, rating is likely to change.
recced by anon
Dean didn’t need to graduate college, but he did need to graduate high school. Unfortunately, he also needed some way to get through this year in one piece. Preferably, with his sanity intact. Who knows? Maybe the weird kid with the blue eyes can help.
Chasing Cars by ratherbehere
Word Count: 45,400
Summary: After an awkward accidental encounter at a local strip club, Castiel discovers his college roommate, Dean, has a secret career as a stripper, and their relationship begins to change and a bond begins to form. They face the joys and challenges of life together and discover along the way how deeply they’ve come to care for each other.
This college AU starts with a giggle as Gabriel takes Cas to a strip club for his birthday and unwittingly arranges for Cas’ new roommate, Dean, to give him a lap dance. So begins a slow building, four year long story which takes our two leads through college together. There were a few painful moments (minor character death), but overall this is a fluffy, slow building romance. The annual pilgrimage to the Winchester home for Christmas was hilarious, with Cas coming up with increasingly outrageous stories to explain to John how he ended up with a free Christmas tree for the family. I really enjoyed the way that Cas was portrayed: a bit weird but never a woobie. It should be noted that Dean works as a stripper to help pay for school, but he is not involved in prostitution. Overall this is a light rom com with witty banter and mostly smiles all round.
A DCBB 2013 fic
Thunder & Angels by pm_lo
Word Count: 54,300
Summary: Castiel’s family owns the shoddily-regulated coal mine where John Winchester works, so Dean storms Cas’s mansion, demanding answers from the drugged-out trust-fund kid. In exchange for his help repairing the mine, Cas demands Dean live with him for three months and give Cas a shot at seducing him by allowing him one kiss a day. (This is a fusion of Supernatural and a romance novel called Thunder & Roses that I read when I was 13 and clearly have not gotten over since.)
Well, here’s another m/f romance turned into m/m romance and it is good. I haven’t read the original novel and thus can’t say how much of a crossover it is or how much Cas and Dean’s characters had to be adapted to fit the original mold. Cas’ characterization has some bits of endverse!Cas (drinking, past debauchery, general snarkiness), while Dean is his usual self: big heart who feels responsible for the people around him. This is like a good ol’ romance novel with slow build and plenty of kissage. Seriously guys, the first half of the fic is a story about Cas and his many ways to kiss straight guy Dean Winchester. I liked that the fic didn’t focus on gay panic and was more about Dean facing the reality that he’d actually enjoy being kissed by another man. There’s a curve ball of an emotional conflict variety later in the story when several outside events collide in rapid succession and Dean is left wondering which parts of their bet were a game and which were real, and what he wants to do with it.
Pick It All Up by thepinupchemist
Word Count: 126,000
Summary: Army veteran Castiel Novak is a wreck after his tour in Afghanistan, brought home to his brother’s apartment in Lawrence, Kansas with scars both mental and physical. He copes poorly, and during one night of bad decision making, meets somebody just as much of a disaster as he is — a prostitute named Dean Winchester. And suddenly, two damaged men might not be as irreparable as they believed.
This is a well-paced and beautifully written story about two very broken people. I think it is important to note that Dean and Castiel’s relationship is not based on sex for pay (hover spoiler). Instead it serves as a mechanism to introduce two characters who otherwise would not intersect. In this fic, Dean has been involved in prostitution for nearly a decade. Some fics romanticize prostitution (a la Pretty Woman), but this is about as far from that as you can get. The gritty reality of back alleys, relishing a shower when you can get one, sleeping in the car, and ultimately the physical and mental scars left behind are portrayed in an honest and ultimately breathtaking way. Similarly, the mental war that is waged after the real one is “over” is shown in the way it fragments people, and tears at their families and loved ones. I appreciated that as Dean and Cas faced the horrors of their past, there were times when each was fragile, but neither was ever portrayed as weak.
Thepinupchemist creates a stark, realistic yet ultimately hopeful portrayal of lives that will never be normal for people who still deserve a happy ending. Sam and Gabriel reveal the different ways that family interact with those struggling with these kinds of trauma. The ghosts of the past also reveal themselves as Dean and Castiel work through and adjust to their new realities. This fic doesn’t stop when our two leads connect; instead it recognizes that connecting is not one event, but a series of events that builds trust over time.
Pick It All Up was one of the first, but thankfully not the last, Destiel fanfiction written by this author. Heed the tags!! This fic crosses into very dark territory as past traumas are relived in vivid detail, yet it also has moments of domestic tranquility. Overall this story shows that even broken people can achieve a happily ever after, even if it is through blood and tears.
A Beginner’s Guide to Communing with the Dead by suspiciousflashlight
author’s lj and ff.net accts (their fic isn’t in a centralized location)
Word Count: 77,200
Summary: Maybe it’s the little girl whose disappearance turned into a murder, and whose murder turned into a cold case, and who has now apparently decided to move in with him. Maybe it’s the unacceptable hole left in his life when his dumb best friend and partner in (the prevention of) crime decided to go and get himself killed. Maybe it’s his brother, whose high-profile career and fantastic girlfriend and first-child-on-the-way are steadily leaving Dean in the dust. Pick one. Pick all of them. The why doesn’t matter so much as the what, and the what is this: Dean is pretty sure he’s going completely, certifiably insane. Sure, he hasn’t started wearing all his clothes inside out, and he still showers on a regular basis (anyways, that’s not crazy, just a little eccentric); but there’s no getting around the fact that he just threw away his life, his career, and his reputation by dragging out his mom’s old necromancy book and summoning a Class A Forbidden Entity to his attic. A cranky one, too. With horrendous bed-head.
This was a freaking JOY to read. I pretty much read it in one go (only stopping when it became impossible to stay awake). It’s well written, well paced, engaging, does a great job of balancing plot and relationship development, and is probably my favorite big bang so far. I loved the world (modern fantasy) and the imagery was lovely. Cas is a grumpy, badass memitim, begrudgingly curious about humanity (putting on the creature!cas tag even though he is angel-ish), while Dean is an out-of-options witch cop who decides to use illegal magic to summon an unsanctioned being. They form a partnership (in addition to being roommates, ha!), becoming friends and then something more along the way.
The world is fascinating! It has some features in common with the spn verse, but in name only. The “monsters” of spn are treated as regular humans for the most part (a werewolf killing a human is dealt with the same way as a non-supernatural killing). I’ve mentioned before my love of AUs where Cas’ otherness is not forgotten and the author does a perfect job highlighting it in this fic. And then there’s the plot! Without giving too much away, let’s just say that season 3 and 4 had some influence. Great characters, great world building, and a great plot! Read this!!
A DCBB 2013 fic
The Great Escapist by 8swords
Word Count: 101,000
Summary: Dean spears him on a green-eyed look through the open passenger door. “Why do I get the feeling you just want us to spend the night together?” ”Because you’re paranoid and ridiculous,” Cas says. “I sleep five feet away from you every night; I could watch you sleep at home.” (An AU in which nursing student Dean and pre-med student Cas become summer roommates and maybe more.)
First things first. The author’s summary may mislead you into thinking that this is just another feel good summer fling story about Dean and Cas, but let me tell you - it is all that and so much more. In essence, this is a story about two broken guys finding temporary comfort while dealing with their emotional scars. They help each other and they hurt each other but they can’t heal unless they learn to be themselves. I was happy to see Dean being mature about it.
We first meet Castiel after his brother Alfie’s funeral and for the rest of the story we follow his attempts to escape from the guilt and memories about the brother he feels he has betrayed. Not to mention that Cas himself feels abandoned by his father Chuck Shurley, the famous author of the Supernatural book series about two brothers and an angel named Castiel. Omg, references to episodes as book titles is one of my favorite parts of this fic. However, I do understand why Cas stopped reading them around story titled “Hello, Cruel World.” On the other hand, Dean loved the books since they helped him to deal with his painful life. I must say that the fusion of canon elements with the original story gave me very strong season 7 and 8 feelings; there’s no way to fully appreciate the richness of the story if you haven’t seen those episodes yet.
I loved how Dean’s caretaker nature is explored through his choice of profession, a nurse, and his childhood memories of taking care of John. Dean has great character development in this story even if at the end it means that he has to make some hard choices. And last but not least, roughly half of the fic takes place in hospitals and the author does a very good job at explaining all the medical terms and procedures.
A DCBB 2013 fic