.sanctuary. | .dean.

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This place was like Mad Max, but without the awesome cars and the kickass feminist flair of the remake that Charlie would have loved. He figured she would've understood this world better than he did, that she'd probably played some video game like it, or read a comic. Not that he'd want her to be here with them, even though that'd mean she was still alive, but hey, he missed her. It'd been nice to have a best friend who wasn't a blood relative, or who wasn't accidentally choosing to be evil and sometimes beating the crap out of him to make a point. Plus, he'd been a better person when she was around. Even though they'd scoped out women together, Charlie had started to explain the difference between appreciating a person as an object, and appreciating a person because of their human qualities, which were sometimes aesthetic in nature. That little tidbit had come out after she confessed that she sometimes acted "like a piggish guy" because that's how she survived in a world run by men.

She'd given Dean a lot to think about.

Despite the lack of Mad Max cars, these cars were real beauties in their prime, at least those Dean had spotted in that town with the Red Rocket. Some had that weird spaceship thing going on, as if the people embraced the 1950s and just never let go. He wasn't interested in dealing with a bunch of sex-negative, "Good Old-Fashioned Americans!" in this fucked up world, or dealing with the kind of people who kept women in kitchens and away from cool jobs, like hacking computers.

Of course, if the make up of this little squad of Minutemen were any indication (maybe Charlie would've picked on that name too, Minutemen), then maybe some things about this world were a lot better than things in the one they came from.

Dean stuffed a snack cake into his mouth. "For something two centuries old," he said to Sam, "these things are still pretty good. Want one?"

"What?" Sam said, looking a little embarrassed. "I can't understand you."

Dean swallowed the cake. "Want one?"

"You? Share?" Sam eyed the treat, then shrugged, wiped his hand on his shirt, and plucked out a small cake for himself. Unlike Dean, he took small bites. "Not bad."

"Can barely taste the radiation," Dean joked. Grant had told them that most food contained trace amounts of radiation. Sam didn't appreciate the joke, and now he made the same smug face he made whenever he ate real, radiation-free snack food back home. "Okay, well next time, order the salad."

Sam shook his head, his too-long-to-be-practical brown hair shaking with it. He finished the cake with a begrudging expression and continued scoping out the barren landscape.

They followed the power grid southeast, heading toward a place called Sanctuary Hills that Preston assured them was much better than the hole they'd woken up in. Dean didn't like getting too close to transmission towers, having heard all the radiation tales of the massive structures back home, but now the steel giants loomed, powerless, crunchy brown weeds crawling up their legs, and that somehow made them more creepy. Sam was right about the smell too, that odd mix of nature and metal shop, not to mention the touch of BO clinging to the Minutemen, and probably a little to the Winchesters after all this walking in the sun.

Dean and Sam kept the teleporting part of their story to themselves, and Preston seemed okay with that. He was pretty tight-lipped about the Minutemen anyway, and the rest of the squad barely spoke, except for the times when some mutated creature crossed their path.

"Radstags," Myra, the woman who'd first approached them, said. The weird, two-headed, almost-two-bodied deer could get nasty if you got too close, but Myra was a seasoned hunter, she explained, and so they had nothing to worry about if one got aggressive. That was part of why they followed the miles of power lines; it kept them out in the open. They were confident that they wouldn't be exposed to "other unfriendlies," the kinds who liked hiding in shadows and behind fortifications.

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