Transcript: Track 35: Russian Cas

Episode 35 posted August 20, 2022
Transcript by EllenofOz
Links to all fics mentioned can be found on the main episode post.

[Intro music]

Ellen: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the 35th episode of Mixtape Book Club. My name’s Ellen.

Mal: and my name is Mal.

Ellen: In each episode, we take an in-depth look at a different trope or sub genre in the huge variety of Destiel fan fiction. And in this episode, we are gonna take a look at fics where Cas is Russian.

Mal: and to discuss her fic, Life is a Highway plus I’m sure we’ll touch on some other ones as well, we would like to welcome AO3 author, Zation. Hello!

Zation: Hello.

Ellen: welcome!

Zation: Thank you for having me.

Mal: Oh, thank you for coming to talk to us, especially about one of my favorite tropes.

Ellen: yes. Okay. So as well as Life is a Highway, we’re going to discuss… we’ve chosen three reasonably long fics today. So there’s only three of them.

We’re gonna talk about Better Than Revenge by Castielslostwings, and finally, we’ve managed to convince Mal to talk a little bit about Russian to the Altar by MalMuses.

Mal: Yeah. oh man. Okay.

Ellen: It’s gonna be fine.

Mal: Okay. Well, as always links to all of the fics that we’ll be talking about today are gonna be available in the post on the blog, and also included in our massive collection of fics on ao3.

Ellen: and we’ve gotta take this opportunity to say really big, thank you to everyone who has supported us in our ko-fi subscription. If you would like to support us as well, you get access to our discord server and you know, help us decide the topics that we’re gonna talk about coming up. That is at

Mal: All right. Russian Cas. We have to address the fact that we have Misha to blame for Russian Cas, right?

Ellen: yeah, absolutely

Zation: big time. Big time.

Ellen: we’re not like we shouldn’t cast aspersions, but when he does talk about having Russian heritage, we’re not actually sure how, how close to actual Russian heritage he has, but he does speak Russian quite like, you know, convincingly. It’s always nice to hear him say things in Russian now and then.

Mal: It is nice. And, you know, a language kink is a thing. Let’s put that out there, many people have it. So no shame on this podcast.

Ellen: it’s spawned a whole bunch of really awesome fics. I don’t know. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I feel like quite a few of them tend to be like Bratva, like mobster type ones. Do you think that’s true? Like there’s a proportion of them that are?

Mal: there’s, there’s quite a few of them. And I think that’s probably just because that’s such a well paired trope, because that’s something you can’t really as easily do if you don’t have a Russian character, like, it would be very weird to try and write a Bratva fic without a Russian character in it. But that trope kind of unlocks once you have a Russian character. So. It’s like a, it’s like a little road that people start down and they just continue. It’s the natural progression, I think.

Zation: yeah, that’s, that’s true. And I mean, the trope at all, mafia or Bratva related, I think is it’s the danger, somehow, and I mean, you can do so much about it, with it and it’s just great. it’s a fun trope.

Ellen: Yeah, it is.

Mal: Yeah. And that, they’re kind of by necessity of the trope, quite kind of violent, aggressive tropes in some aspects that the way that different fics show that is obviously very different.

Some fics don’t show that aspect at all. Some do. You’re also coming from a show where we watch these guys beat people up every week. So I feel like it’s…

Ellen: they are essentially serial killers anyway, so why not?

Mal: Yeah. But we just forgive them for it because you know, they have their reasons yeah.

Zation: I mean, the. The tag canon-typical violence, it’s, it’s a tag that exists. So yes, we we’re, we’re obviously okay with it at some level.

Mal: Yeah. And a lot of shows just saying canon-typical violence wouldn’t be that much, but in Supernatural that can really encompass a lot of things. So that’s true.

Zation: That’s also true.

Ellen: Yeah. The, the variety of ways that people actually include… Like, it’s interesting to consider the Russian accent, like in some fics that we’ve done for this episode he it’s obvious that he does speak with Russian accent in his, in the actual dialogue and others just seem to write it as normal, and then, you know, you just have to… I don’t know how to…

Zation: You just have to imagine it more or less. Yeah.

Mal: Yeah. That’s right. Well, there’s different ways that people do it in these fics, and I know why I choose the way I do it, but I’m just interested to hear other people’s opinions, obviously, because you have a language which is written in an entirely different alphabet to what you would write the rest of the fic in.

Some people choose to maintain the Cyrillic alphabet. Some people use the Latin alphabet. And in which case you then have the whole issue of there being many possible spellings, ‘cause you’re basically going phonetically.

Ellen: Yeah. Transliteration

Mal: and some people, some people kind of avoid actually having them speak very much Russian at all and they just rely on describing the accent.

Zation: yeah. I feel like, like in my case, I’ve done. I, I did the, the one where I used the Latin alphabet. Yeah. And, and I tried Google translate and I had readers who helped me and I just, I felt lost. It was, I, I felt it didn’t work out very good for me. Yeah. So I feel like I I’ve been avoiding it in newer fics where, where he is Russian. I’m just stating that he’s speaking Russian instead. And maybe that’s a little cowardly of me, but I realized…

Mal: Hey, whatever makes you to write it.

Zation: Yeah. I guess it’s a difficult language. For me, at least.

Mal: Yeah. I ended up doing it the Latin way as well, actually. Like, so I did the same in that I did it the Latin way, because I knew that obviously my readers were reading it in English and it was more important to me that they knew how Cas sounded then how it was spelled.

So that’s why I decided to go the Latin way. But my experience was that I knew a little bit of Russian a long time ago ‘cause I had Russian friends and the Russian housemate for like a long time. Unfortunately, way back then I was married to a Polish guy, so it was a running joke that my Russian was terrible, ‘cause I spoke Russian like a Polish person, so my accent was just awful. (laughing)

And that was a very, very long time ago. And I literally haven’t spoken to any Russian since then. So I knew going into it. I was like, nothing I produce is going to grammatically be correct. I’m certain like, it’s gonna be awful. I did have somebody that was willing to grammar check me to start with, which was great.

But I soon learned that the issue is obviously with the, the spelling of it phonetically, you would get somebody commenting, just being helpful and saying, “Hey, you know, I think you spelled this wrong.” so you’d go fix it. Yeah. And then the next week, someone gonna come back and be like, “Hey, I I’ve noticed you spelled this wrong” and they want you to switch it back to the first way.

So in the end, I now kind of, yeah, I kind of have a general disclaimer now that like, if you notice I have like a word wrong, then please do tell me. But like, as far as the spellings go, it is what it is. It’s phonetic anyway. Really? so yeah.

Ellen: All right. Well, shall we…

Mal: The hazards of writing…

Ellen: Yeah. Fun times. Shall we get right into talking about the fics?

Mal: Yes, who’s up first?

Ellen: All right. So first up we’ve got Life is a Highway by Zation. This was published in 2021 and it’s about just under 60,000 words and it’s rated E. Would you be willing to read us the summary?

Zation: Yeah, sure.

Original prompt: “College-age Dean, immigrant Russian Cas. I like the idea of the guy that Dean is falling for/having sex with having this whole other life and trying to hide it from Dean”


The one where Dean falls for fellow student Cas, who’s so much more than first perceived. Will Dean be able to live with the secret once revealed, or will it doom them both?


Mal: Yeah, I should probably reveal my bias up front. I’m very partial to this story because it was my prompt in the first place.

Zation: Yeah. And just as a disclaimer the prompt you gave me was great. It had a lot of details and usually when I get prompts, I like to include them in the summaries. And if they, if they have a lot of details like yours, obviously I can’t include them all because it would spoil the fic. So this is just a bit, a bit from the prompt.

Mal: Yeah. Like some of the stuff we talked about would definitely have been very spoilery to put. Up like, yeah.

Ellen: What was the prompt from? It was like one of the charity auctions?

Mal: Oh, I can’t remember which one.

Zation: I think it was the fic facer auctions?

Mal: Yeah, the fic facers.

Zation: Someone bought it for you?

Mal: Yeah, my lovely friend Kitty, who is probably out there listening at some point, Hey! She actually gifted me with this auction prize for my birthday, which was very amazing of her.

Zation: So yeah, it was great.

Mal: I was very, very happy. I recommend gift people fics for their birthdays. It’s great.

Ellen: definitely. So this is college students who… and… sorry. Words not happening again. Cas is Russian, obviously… he’s come to the, the university and Dean is like really kind of attracted to him, but it’s, this is one where Cas is like a he’s in a family of, you know, like a mob kind of family. Dean is like, you know, in head over heels, like quite early. And it takes him like a while to work out what’s going on. Like it’s…

Zation: Yeah, he’s, he’s pretty clueless in this one.

Ellen: Yeah, no, you do such a wonderful job here of dropping like hints of what’s going on the whole way through and Dean’s just like, “oh, there’s something a little bit strange here, but oh, well.”

Mal: I always love that in fics, because I just think we as readers are there yelling at him just because we, we know, like we’ve seen the tags or whatever, like read the, read the spoilers so we know, so we are there yelling at him, but like in real life, you’re not gonna think that.

Ellen: Yeah. I was thinking that as I read through, it’s like, you might notice something a little bit off, but you’re just like, “Ah, that can’t be,” like, that’s, that’s not a thing you’d wonder about, you know?

Zation: who would assume, who would assume that this guy you’re falling for is in the mob? Yeah, exactly.

Mal: Like what, that’s not gonna come to your mind, is it? They’re probably gonna think like, oh, he’s cheating on me. Or like, something like that beforehand, like just many other stops the brain train would make before it got to that one.

Zation: Yeah. And I mean, I even tried to… I didn’t wanna spoil it, but I thought maybe Cas being in the mob, but maybe that could be a, a trigger to someone and maybe I should put it in the tags. So I, I actually discussed it with my beta and she said, you could put it in, in the author’s note. So I have like a link.

Mal: Yeah. I love how you did that. cause it’s in like pink sparkly pen!

Zation: yeah, I know it was the first pen I had available. (laughter) Yes. Pink sparkly pen. Yeah. Cas is in the Russian mob, surprise!

Mal: it’s amazing. I thought it was great. I’d never seen anyone done like that. So for anybody listening, what we’re talking about is embedding a link in your author’s notes so that somebody can click if they want the very spoilery trigger warning and it will take them to a separately hosted image with the spoilers posted on it, which I think is a really good idea for people to use where they have something that could possibly be triggering, but is also a huge spoiler in that way.

Zation: Yeah. The funny thing is I thought I was clever, but the readers, they figured out he was in a mob in like chapter two or something. so it was pretty unnecessary.

Mal: I think it’s ‘cause we, it was almost expect it. Expect it don’t we with like Russian?

Zation: Yeah, because he’s Russian.

Mal: Yeah. the trope was working against you.

Zation: Yeah, kinda. I also would like to add, I know there’s HTML coding for spoilers. Like you can write “slash spoiler” and then the text. and it’s supposed to hide the text, but I could get it to work.

This is why I have the link instead. Right. ‘Cause I spent hours trying to get this to work. So if someone knows, please tell me.

Mal: please let us know. Yeah, though, we would’ve missed out on the pink sparkly pen that way.

Zation: Yeah. That’s true. That’s true.

Ellen: I’ve got a where I’ve got where I use sub… what do you call ’em? Footnotes, like you, you click on a link on the word and it takes you down to the end notes. And then, and then you can jump back up again kind of thing. It’s like, I don’t know if anyone actually uses it because it’s kind of tricky and on a phone, it’s probably a pain in the ass, but it’s there and it’s possible to do it. So I’m sure that there is a way to hide spoilers.

Zation: That’s pretty cool. Yeah, I know. I know in comment sections on, on other sites. I’ve seen people use it. Yeah. So I thought it should be easy, but no, not easy for me.

Ellen: Yeah, ao3 can be weird like that. Like sometimes the style, like kind of overrides little tricks that you’re trying to do with HTML, but anyway, that’s interesting. I have to play with it and see if I can get it working. I, I like adventures in formatting like that. it’s always fun

Zation: when they work. Yeah.

Ellen: Yeah. It’s not always, probably, possibly not always a great reading experience for people because it’s like, you know, things aren’t what they expect. So maybe it’s annoying when you’re trying to read and then something’s not the same. Like what? But but no, that’s cool.

No, no. I appreciate the sparkly pink pen as well. That’s cool.

Zation: you’re welcome.

Ellen: one thing I loved about this fic, they’re working their way through and they go to the library to study and they do all those sort of college student things that we all love in fics like that. I do remember that the cafe that they go to is called Eggsperience with “egg” at the beginning. I love that.

Zation: Yeah. yeah. That’s actually from I mean, I, I, I don’t know Chicago at all. So I used Google maps and I zoomed in on the campus and there’s a place called Eggsperience.

Ellen: It’s really there? that’s amazing.

Mal: now I wanna go!

Zation: And I looked at the menu, so the, the things they order it’s, it’s on the menu for Eggsperience. Brilliant. I use Google for a lot.

Mal: I’m glad I’m not the only one that does that when I write fics. I’ve actually called restaurants before. Like restaurants in other states just like called them and been like, “Hey, so. Do you have this in this meal?” it’s been great. Yeah.

Zation: That’s even better.

Mal: One of my favorite things about this fic is the contrast between like, you know, that behind the scenes as, or at least it becomes increasingly clear to the reader as you go along that behind the scenes, Cas has all this other stuff going on. There’s clearly a lot of mob business happening in Chicago. but like when he’s with Dean, he’s just so soft and lovely most of the time. And I just love the contrast.

Zation: Because he’s with Dean. Yeah.

Ellen: And he doesn’t want him to get involved in any of it.

Zation: He wants to keep him out.

Ellen: Until it’s too late. Without spoiling anything. It does become too late at some point. And then… I liked that he, that Dean kept seeing him with Gabriel, but he never told… like Cas never told him who Gabriel was.

Zation: no, yeah.

Mal: Gabriel’s just there, loitering

Zation: Cas just wants to him, he wants, he wants to keep Gabe away. He doesn’t…

Mal: Cas is like, which is worse? Introducing him to the mob in general or introducing him to Gabriel? (laughter) I like that. Dean has a really good friend group in this fic which I really liked. Like it’s not just Dean on his own or just Dean and Sam or anything like that. Like he’s gone to college and he has come, you know, tap dancing out of the closet, into the wider world. And I like that. I like being able to see Dean have that experience. It’s fun.

Ellen: Yeah. He’s got like you know, Charlie and I think Benny’s there a lot and you know, various other friends.

Zation: Yeah. I mean, because I was thinking he’s in college. Right. And you make friends in college. I assume I haven’t gone… since I’m Swedish, we don’t, we don’t have college in that sense, but yeah. I assumed he… plus I needed, I needed him to have friends, you know? So he had someone to talk to. Yep. Aside from cast, I needed to fill out the fic.

Mal: Yeah. Yep. It can be, get very difficult in a fic when you don’t have a lot of other characters, because you’re like, well, how do I explain this information without just like sitting here…?

Zation: exactly, just exposition dump on people. I need to have it, you know, sound natural.

Mal: Yeah. No. Yeah. He has a really good friend group in this and I like it. My other favorite thing about this, actually two favorite things, two more favorite things. So first of all, I absolutely love their meet cute in this. It’s incredibly sexy. And then there ends up being a fight which just makes me happy.

Zation: Yeah. But that’s, that’s all you, remember? You told me that in, in this.

Mal: Yeah. but you created it! There’s nothing better than having this like vague idea where you’re like, yeah, that would be fun. I don’t have time to write that. And then someone else does it.

Zation: It’s amazing. it’s great. Yeah. I agree.

Mal: and they do it so well. And even though you like, kind of know, ‘cause then you give someone a prompt, like you kind of know what’s gonna happen, but you never really know like how somebody’s gonna take it and interpret it and make it their own. And I really, really loved what you did with this. So especially Cas, he was amazing in this. Yeah.

Zation: I’m so happy.

Mal: Yeah. No, he was very like, I don’t know how you managed to get him to be like confident and sexy, but at the same time, just a kitten sometimes. I mean…

Zation: I mean, it’s, it’s Cas, it kind of writes itself.

Mal: Yeah, that’s true.

Ellen: what was your other favorite thing? you had two things.

Mal: Do I wanna spoil this? Because it’s something that shows up early in the thick, and as soon as it showed up, I was like, oh, I know what that’s gonna be used for. And it didn’t happen until like chapters later, but there is essentially a hook on Dean’s apartment wall. (laughing) And I love the fact that you took the time to place this hook there and describe it in detail. And then just let us forget about it for a while.

Ellen: And Dean’s, Dean’s clueless about it for so long.

Zation: Some of the readers, they instantly knew they, I guess they read my fics before, so they knew. I mean, it was just to hang flowers on. It’s just a hook. So…

Mal: yeah, he likes having little nice hanging baskets. that’s what that’s for.

Zation: perfectly normal, yep.

Mal: I love it. So, yes, as I guess a slightly spoilery, this fic does get a little kinky in places. just a little bit. I wouldn’t say it’s like overly… it’s kind of what did you tag it as? You said “light”. So yeah, I’m going with that. I agree with that.

So, yeah, but it’s, it’s a lot of fun. I like it. It’s just a very fun fic I think? Like it’s not one of those where there’s huge dramatic amount amounts of angst or whatever. Like even at the point where you know that to a certain extent, Cas is lying and Dean doesn’t know yet, and all these other things, and you’re kind of waiting for shit to hit the fan. Like the way the fic is written. There’s never any doubt in the reader’s mind I don’t think that at some point they’ll work it out. We just wanna see how they get there.

Zation: Yeah. I gotta admit, I had a lot of fun writing the fic like the, the little instances, the little glimpses that Dean gets the, the moment where he goes, “huh?”

Those, those were fun to write. And I remember I sat down with my beta and I said, we need to come up with scenes, stuff that happens to Dean. So we, we had a whole list and I picked some.

Mal: Yeah. So I guess we should probably explain to anybody who wants to know who hasn’t read it yet. The general overall concept is that Dean meets Cas one night in a bar, there is a fight afterwards, which Dean gets himself involved in because he assumes it’s a fight about one thing, and it’s definitely a fight about something else. But obviously nobody tells him that, but they do kind of gain some respect for Dean, the fact that he jumped in and helped them and everything else. And so suddenly Dean’s life starts getting just a little better. The universe is greasing the wheels of life for him all of a sudden. Or somebody else is.

Ellen: Yeah. I liked how that developed as well. There’s like a thread of uncertainty for Dean because Cas keeps paying for things for him and at one point he gives him like a grand gesture type of gift. I don’t wanna spoil what that sort of thing is, but Dean’s really… it takes him a while to come around to enjoying that sort of thing. Like at first he’s like, “oh, you don’t have to do that. I can, you know, I’m, I’m making my own way. I don’t need people to buy me things,” but then eventually he’s like, actually it is kind of nice to have a rich boyfriend who buys me things.

Mal: You know what, I do deserve this. I think my favorite one was the little one with the umbrella. Like it’s raining, and Dean’s forgot his umbrella. And yet he doesn’t really put that much thought into how weird it is that somebody just like appears…

Ellen: yeah. Someone just hands him an umbrella and wanders off.

Mal: he’s like, “huh? What?”

Zation: Yeah, that was, that was nice. Thank you.

Mal: Hmm. Like all these nice things keep happening to me recently. Chicago sure is great. (laughter)

Ellen: yes, probably around that point. I’d be, I’d be like, am I on a TV show or something? Like, what is going on here?

Zation: Yeah. Candid Camera, jumping out.

Ellen: Am I in a fanfic?

Mal: yes you are. It was, it was a lot of fun. And even more with that like little edge where you know that you are waiting for the shit to hit the fan ‘cause it’s not like, you know, something’s gonna happen especially if you’ve read Zation’s fic before and I have read all of them, so I knew I was like, something’s happening at some point. And obviously I knew like some of the stuff with the prompt though, I kind of left the ending very like open for interpretation, which I’m glad I did. ‘Cause I got to be surprised about some stuff, but…

Zation: Well, I’m happy you liked it.

Mal: I loved it. Thank you so much for writing it. I was, I was a hundred percent going to see if they did fics facers again this year and try and get some more fics. But I think we have to wait until next year for another fic facers now.

Zation: Yeah. I got an email actually. And they, they asked if I wanted to join again, and I told them I didn’t have time this year. And then I got another email later where they said that a lot of people had said that they didn’t have time, so they would postpone to next year.

Mal: Yeah. Yeah. It’s 2022 has been a rough year. so

Zation: It has kinda, yeah. Yeah. It’s yeah.

Mal: But do you think we’ll see more Russian Cas or mob fics from you in general in the future?

Zation: Yeah, I think definitely Russian Cas at least. I do like him in general, so yeah, I think

Mal: So I think we should probably mention a couple of your other ones. I just pulled the ones that I had read, like off the top of my head, which were The Right Kind of Wrong, and For the Rest of My Life, I read both of those which are both Russian Cas fics.

I think they are off the top of my head. Let me, let me just pull them up. I think that older ones of yours?

Zation: Yeah, The Right Kind of Wrong especially is, is really old.

Mal: 2015, yeah.

Zation: That was how I met my beta. She was the one who prompted me for that one.

Mal: Oh, nice. It’s nice when you make fanfic connections. I like it.

Zation: Yeah. I love it. Some of my best friends.

Mal: Yeah. So in that case, The Right Kind of Wrong is a human AU with kind of light dom/sub stuff going on. And For the Rest of My Life is Omegaverse if I remember, right. Yeah. Yes, it is so something for everyone.

Ellen: are they, are they both mob type ones as well, or just, you know, AUs?

Zation: The Right Kind of Wrong is, is he’s in, in the mob. Yeah. In that one Cas and I think Dean is… he’s not in the mob, but he’s also kind of a criminal, the Winchesters, they do criminal stuff as well.

Mal: So he’s kind less organized criminal, but still criminal.

Zation: Yeah. And I mean, For the Rest of My Life, it’s just high school meet cute sweethearts.

Mal: Yeah. That’s a very sweet story. Really awesome. And if I remember right, it has some very adorable, like time stamps at the end, too. So,

Zation: yeah.

Mal: Outing myself as a Zation stan today. Yay! (laughter)

So yes, if you like Russian Cas and lots of other things, because station has an entire library of fic to choose from on ao3. Plenty of Russian Cas in there.

Okay. The next story that we’re gonna talk about today is Better Than Revenge by Castielslostwings. This one is much more recent. It just finished up in May of this year. And it is just under 150,000 words, 20 chapters. So this is quite a chunky one. I think it just takes the crown as the longest one that we will be looking at today. And… There we go, sorry. I lost my tab. And the summary goes like this:

Dean Winchester is #blessed. He’s got a great family, a million followers on social media, ad endorsements coming out of his extremely fine omega ass, and he’s about to graduate with a hard-won Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering. Said degree is an escape hatch to the life he craves, away from the scripted roles his well-meaning father keeps trying to corral him into. Dean’s a lot of things, but he’s not cut out to be a Don—or to fall in love.

Castiel Krushnic is a ruthless, hardened alpha underboss for the Russian Mafia and his only soft spot is for his daughter. When she’s sent away to the U.S. in hopes of a better life, Castiel follows, reluctantly moving a chunk of the operation with him. His marching orders are clear—first order of business is to send a message to John Winchester, Don of the enemy local syndicate.

The easiest way to do that? Use his son.

Sounds easy, but Castiel wasn’t expecting to fall head-over-heels, or for Dean to want him back. What’s an alpha to do when a beautiful omega and an unorthodox mob boss have him questioning everything, abandoning his past and all of its pain for something much better than revenge?

Ellen: So this is omegaverse.

It’s like it’s entirely from Dean’s point of view. So we should probably say that at, at the beginning, we don’t know that like, apart from what you read in the, in the summary, we don’t know that Cas is in the, is, is Bratva we know that Bratva is in town. Like they they’ve heard that there’s Russians in town, but no one realizes for a little while that Cas is like one of them, but it comes out over time.

Mal: Yeah. I’ve said that’s actually one of the things I really like about how Castielslostwings did this fic because you are solely Dean’s point of view, you’re kind of very focused on the love story aspect to start with. Yeah. And you’re just seeing, like, you know, as a reader, you notice all of these text messages that Dean’s not answering and the phone calls that he’s missing and the things that his dad is saying that he’s kind of not listening to ‘cause he’s thinking about Cas or something like that.

And so you pick up on the fact that there are some things happening that Dean should really be paying attention to, but he’s just not.

Ellen: Yeah, yeah. This, there are definitely like you know, head over heels, like really, really on it’s like the true mate thing. I think one of the things I love about this, there’s quite a few things that I love about this one is it’s, it’s a great story.

And I’m sorry, it took me so long to actually read it. It it’s been complete for a little while now, but…

Mal: Yeah, and I wanted to leave comments, but I knew that we were doing it on the podcast. So I was like, Nope, Nope. don’t do it that way. You can like talk about it.

Ellen: Yeah. One of the things I really love about it is with omegaverse often there’s this true mates aspect where, you know, they, they it’s love at first sight.

Basically they see each other and they’re compatible and they fall in love immediately, like in a biological way. not just in a… they’re not just attracted to each other, but this she’s introduced this. Well, it might have been an older thing that I’m only just discovering, but this true mate compatibility thing.

Mal: Yeah. I’ve seen things like it.

Ellen: We talked about this in our, a past episode, maybe our soulmates episode? that where, where we said that rather than having like, you know, a soulmate or love at first sight, it’s more like a… you’re more compatible with some people than with others. And in this case they just happen to be extremely compatible with each other.

So they’re not actually like there’s no “click” for true mates. Like they’re not definitely that, but they’re just, you know, really, really their scents are compatible together and all that kind of omegaverse stuff that we enjoy reading about, and there’s no relationship drama. All, you know, all of the tension in this is external basically. They they’re just always just in love the whole time. It’s so sweet.

Mal: And even where there could be like tension points, like when it gets revealed, who Cas is and this kind of stuff, like there could be drama there, but it’s done in such a way that that drama is bypassed. Which is quite nice.

Zation: Yeah, I, I actually enjoyed it. I like, I like it in fics when, when Dean and cast they’re fine, but. The drama is, like you said, is external. I enjoy that better.

Ellen: Yeah. There’s no sort of breakup.

Mal: They’re just, yeah, they’re just compatible and, and they, they have to have a couple of conversations here and there, but they do it and it’s not overly… It’s great.

Ellen: They actually use their words.

Mal: I know! (laughter)

I, I don’t think we can talk about this fic without mentioning John in this fic?

Zation: oh yeah.

Mal: So Castielslostwings, just like the rest of us, I think, is, is very prone to using our beloved “John Winchester’s A+ parenting” tag when we’re doing fan fic like, I think we all do it at some points.

And it’s fun to write that way, but for this one, she decided to just go completely the other way. So John is like the world’s… like, because he is the head of the mafia in… I don’t think it’s ever actually mentioned specifically what city they’re in. This is one of those stories where it technically could be anywhere.

But he is top dog in charge there and he is planning on having Dean take over for him one day. So he wants to make sure that all of his men respect Dean and to make sure that they do that, he basically is like the world’s most LGBT positive parent you could possibly get like this mob have like rainbow patches on their jackets. They have like, they sponsor pride events. Like John is out there on the front lines.

Ellen: He’s almost obnoxiously supportive.

Zation: I like it when they do John like that sometimes. Yeah. It’s a lot of fun, fun twist. Yeah.

Mal: It’s to the point where at some point, Dean is just like, all this is just embarrassing. Now this is too much to dial it back.

Ellen: Yeah. And the other thing I love about John is that because Cas has obviously got Claire there. So he’s got, he brought his daughter with him from Russia to get away from, you know, the mob there. And Claire is four or five years old and just adorable, like just a hellion basically but, but John takes one look at her and is like, “that’s my granddaughter.”

And so she’s like just wraps him around her finger, like right from the beginning. And he’s so adorable with her. He buys her like princess beds and like, it’s just really sweet.

Mal: He’s like, it’s amazing. It’s like my mob will have a princess yeah, just brilliant.

Ellen: And Dean knows like right from the start, he’s like, “oh, you’re bringing her here? Oh God, my father is going to be, you know, just nuts about this.” so. Super cute. And we also, the other thing that we can’t go past mentioning for this fic is the Dean is like an Instagram influencer. Like he’s always posting picture like thirst trap type pictures and doing product endorsements and stuff like that. So that’s kind of scattered throughout as well, which is really funny. I love them.

Mal: Yeah. And it’s actually used in a really good way as well, to like illustrate how different Dean is with Cas compared to other people that he’s been with to the point of like, including him on his Instagram and risking, like air quotes happening over here, like ruining his brand and that kind of stuff without even thinking about it, it just felt natural, straight away,

Ellen: of course, as soon as he starts showing Cas in, in his images or whatever, everyone, all his fans are like, oh, show us more of the hot alpha! So yeah. it’s like

Mal: and who can blame them?

Ellen:Yeah. Why not? It’s life imitating art, no… art imitating life, yeah. That way around.

Mal: And I think we have to talk about Sam as well. And something that I’ve seen, like increasingly in, in fics in the past, like year or so, since the incidents , since the Winchesters were announced and that there was that slight social media incident? That it is included in this fic in like an in character way. And I’ve seen a few fics do it now, but I love the way it’s done in this one. it’s so good.

Ellen: Yeah. It works so well, really perfectly done.

Mal: so Sam’s just like “gutted. wish I could have heard the heard about this from you myself.” It’s just so good. Yes. And it really plays into the whole like social media drama aspect of this. Works perfectly. It’s very meta. I love it.

Ellen: Their, their characterization. I don’t know if this is in the tags or anything, but it’s almost like that Hunter Corp type feel like, you know, that episode where they came, the two of them came from the other universe?

Zation: yeah. The, the other, yeah.

Mal: Yeah, Dean seems much more like that Dean…

Ellen: It’s got that kind of a vibe to it? And Sam as well. Like I, I got that feeling from him too. Like, you know, they’re much more sure. And kind of, “oh, you, you’re doing that? Well, that’s no good.” Like, you know, I don’t know. I got that kind of vibe

Zation: Yeah. That’s, that’s actually really fun. We should encourage that in more fics because those two are awesome.

Mal: Yes. Very funny, fun things to play with. Yeah.

Ellen: Have I… I think I’ve gushed about almost all of my favorite things now. I think in this one the Russian accent is a lot more pronounced in this one. Like she does things like leaving out words when Cas is speaking to make it feel more like the, the cadence of a Russian accent.

Mal: yeah. So he’s, he can speak very, very good English because obviously being high up in Bradford, he, he learned like, he speaks really good English, but he kind of forgets it a little bit when he’s horny or when he’s angry, which is like 90% of the fic so, yeah. So yeah, it’s quite fun. I think we have to mention Charlie as well, like best and most patient fucking wing woman ever in this fic she’s like, she puts up with a lot that poor girl

Ellen:  also laughs at them when , when they’re being ridiculous.

Mal: Yes, she is us for sure. Yeah. I don’t really, I kind of don’t wanna spoil like the actual plot of this one necessarily, like I said, the relationship part is good. There’s not a lot of drama there, but there is a lot of plot with the mob stuff. So kind of don’t wanna spoil that.

Ellen: But it’s not the main focus…

Mal: So I do like, it’s one of those ones where we have a first chapter where like Cas is just a creeper in trench coat, and obviously we know who he is. Dean’s just like, “all right. Creeper in a trench coat. Weird.” And I love that. So cuz you just know, like, just give it another couple of chapters, Dean.

Ellen: I mean, there’s just, it’s some really delicious smut basically. Yeah.

Mal: There’s some amazing art, but I definitely don’t wanna spoiler the art cause the art it’s just hilariously brilliant. Like you just, you have to be in the moment to get it. So there, there is some brilliant art from categoryfour out there. So

Ellen: we should probably move on again.

Mal: Sorry. No, we could, we can talk about this one for like another half hour. I’m good.

Ellen: Because you don’t wanna go on to the next one.

Mal: Yeah. Okay. I guess you can introduce the next one.

Ellen: I will introduce the next one. I won’t make you read your own summary with this one.


Mal: Please don’t. (laughter)

Ellen: Russian to the Altar is by MalMuses, it was published in 2019. I think you published it serially, didn’t you? And it, it sort of ended just before all the COVID stuff kicked off. So yeah. Yeah, just in those glory days where it was just before… everything was fine we were so hopeful… Random salt. It’s 144,000 words and it is explicit for sure.

So this is very explicit, very explicit. The summary goes like this.

“I need you to marry Castiel.”

They weren’t the words Dean expected to hear from his business partner’s mouth before their bakery-slash-chocolate shop opened for the day. He’d been quite happy being single—and who the fuck was Castiel, anyway?

It turned out that Castiel was a Russian erotic novelist in need of a ticket to America, and Dean… well, Dean was a last resort.

So we’ve got Russian erotic novelist who does yoga and sort of, I guess it’s definitely not a spoiler to say that he’s a Dom and… he’s Russian?

Mal: No, that’s quite a big feature here!

Ellen: It’s like, ticking, you know, lots of boxes for being like the most amazing fic ever written. I, I love this. This is one, one of my favorite fics to read, to read and reread I discovered just recently when I was rereading it because it’s great. I love it.

(Embarrassed sounds from Mal)

okay. So I have questions for you about this, that

Mal: oh God. Okay. Bracing myself…

Ellen: No, no, no, no. It’s not like that. I’m not, I haven’t written them down or anything. I’m just thinking on the fly here. Because I’m kinda interviewing you now. Tell us about how this fic came to be. Was this, did you get prompted for this one or was it just, you just wanted to write a Russian thing?

Mal: no, this one, this one is me. I was discussing, I can’t remember who I was discussing it with. I think it was some lovely old fandom friends of mine Jscribbles and sobsicles. I was discussing with them various different like accent kinks and how we’d found a few like fun fics out there for that, but there definitely needed to be more. And whenever I get that feeling when I’m reading something, it just, I just kind of file it away in the back of my head and go, okay, one day I’ll write a fic for that, one day. And then I had an entirely separate discussion with somebody else about using like your own experiences of things for fic.

And we were actually talking about like that whole thing, you know, where they tell writers like, oh, write what you know. And we were saying actually most of the time that’s kind of bullshit, but…

Zation: yeah, it kinda is, yeah. (laughs)

Mal: Yeah. But if you do have experiences that you should use, then, then why not? Like turn them, turn them into fic. That’s great. So it was just kind of bubbling away in the back of my head. And I had just finished writing something really angsty. I can’t remember what it was now, but like something big and, and angsty where people die and terrible things happen. It might have been Under the Nothing Sky actually. yeah. And I was like, I just need something tropey and fun and silly. And so my head just immediately smashed together Russian Cas, immigration fic. ‘Cause I had those two like recent conversations in my head and I intended for this to be a, like a one shot when I started.

Ellen: Oh no

Zation: we’ve all done that. Yeah.

Mal: And then I started talking about it with my friends and just kind of brainstorming out ideas about things that had happened to me during my immigration process to America and things that had happened to friends of mine that I knew. I had never written, I don’t think I’d written BDSM in this detail before here.

I think I’d maybe written like little one shots. Just like kind of porn with plot type stuff. And I don’t think I’d ever written it in this detail. And I have no idea what possessed me to suddenly go, you know what? I can put all of that in here. I’ll just take everything I’m thinking of writing and just put it all in one fic. I dunno what possessed me at the time.

Ellen: Yeah. You did like really pile the tropes in there.

Mal: it’s ‘cause I was on this kick at the time where I was like, look tropes aren’t bad. they’re not tropes are good. They’re good things. And I was like, you know what? If you’re telling people that they get out there and walk the walk, write the tropey fic.

Zation: yeah. And we all thank you for this!

Ellen: yes. It’s such an amazing like group of, of tropes together that just like yeah, just makes it really awesome. Yeah.

Mal: (quietly) Thank you.

Ellen: And not only does it have the, the BDSM and the Russian stuff, it’s also like a bakery it’s also got like, you know, a fake relationship that turns out to be a real one…

Zation: I love that trope. I mean the, the fake relationship thing. Yeah. The fake boyfriend that I just love it. So yeah.

Mal: Yes. I, I get people telling me a lot that they really enjoy the fact that this fake is tagged idiots to love us. And then idiots, even when they’re already lovers actually.

Yeah. I’m like, yes. Like if you don’t wanna bang their heads together, at some point, then I did it wrong. (laughter)

Zation: yeah. But, but actually I think, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s like you said, they’re misunderstanding, it’s miscommunication, but it’s not drama for the sake of drama, which I really appreciate it. It just works in the fic and that’s great.

Mal: Yeah. I’m glad. Yeah. Cause I’m not a fan of like drama for the sake of drama myself either. So, but I wanted like certain things to happen while somehow sidestepping that so I’m glad that I’m glad that I managed.

Ellen: So the bits of the immigration process that you went through like the interviews and the, all of that stuff you really had to do that?

Mal: yes.

Ellen: Oh God. That must have been nerve-wracking.

Mal: Yeah. Anybody who doesn’t know me, which is probably gonna be most people . I mean, like Ellen knows me, but like everybody else doesn’t, so I am a British Cypriot that immigrated to America about, I dunno, nine years ago now. I don’t know. Whenever it was. So the, the process that Cas went through minus the whole, like fake relationship part I, I have been through, I just wanna clear that up. Don’t want like,

Ellen: yes, you didn’t, you didn’t really marry your partner to get into America,

Mal: right. To get a green card. No, that, that was definitely not what happened. ‘Cause it turns out it’s a lot of work and it’s very expensive. So yeah. In this one, like one of the things I didn’t really highlight on was, you know, how much it actually costs to immigrate in the first place. And how that kind is a barrier to immigration for a lot of people, to legal immigration for a lot of people. Because you know, I would mention that Cas filled out these forms and sent them off and in this story like Cas is moderately well off, like he’s by no means rich, but he is a working author with a, like a sizable back catalog of books.

So he has like a decent income, so he could afford to pay for all that. So it’s not really focused on that very much. But it was the opposite for me because the thing in America is that if you are not completely immigrated yet, you don’t have a social security number, so nobody will hire you. Yeah, so I was not allowed to work for like the first… like it took me nearly two years to get through the immigration process, so

Zation: Two years?

Mal: Yeah, it was, it was rough. So

Zation: that’s a lot longer than I thought. Yeah. I mean, two years

Mal: yes. And you, you have to think as well, like I’m lucky I was coming from a country where I already spoke pretty much the language and you know, I had like a good employment history and, and that kind of stuff. So I was lucky with my immigration. I had that going for me. But obviously a lot of people don’t, so it would be even harder for them.

Ellen: yeah, I think similar, I don’t, I can’t speak from any kind of authority on this, but I think this process is pretty similar for immigrating to Australia, but I’m pretty sure that you’re allowed, if you’re here on a, you can get like, kind of a bridging visa that can, that lets you work. I think, whereas I think in the US it’s a lot harder.

Mal: You can do that here. If you have certain jobs, certain jobs that certain jobs that are kind of in need, or you can if you’re being kind of sponsored by somebody, they will let you come here and you can be under certain… You know, certain circumstances they’ll issue you a social security number so you can work and that kind of stuff.

But that unfortunately did not happen to me. That was not my experience. Possibly because I had been doing financial government work beforehand. And I actually do that now, but it’s an entirely different… you know, like you’re moving countries, the laws are different, the governing bodies are different, so all the work experience I had was kind of rendered irrelevant by moving here. So yeah, there was, I, unfortunately I was not at the time, a published thriving, erotic novelist with a giant back catalog that someone can hide in their closet. that probably,

Ellen: I mean, I, I’m pretty sure we can spoil things in this week because I doubt anyone’s listening to this who actually hasn’t read it yet, but I loved that, that Dean… I think he already knew the books is that right? He knew like when he realized who, who like Cas was like, what, what his books were. I don’t know if he already recognized them.

Mal: no. Gabriel had definitely told him that that’s what Cas’s job was. But I don’t think until…

Zation: I don’t, I don’t think he, he knows the books, I think they go to a bookstore.

Mal: Yeah. I don’t think he realised the extent of what Cas was actually writing, like he kind of assumed. Yeah.

Zation: And then, and he buys them. He goes online and buys them all of them.

Ellen: That’s what I was gonna say. Like, as soon as he realizes what’s going on, he just becomes his biggest fan. like just buys all and hides them in his cupboard

Mal:, which, you know, every writer needs a Dean. Right? Like you move in to like roommate and they buy your entire back catalog. Like yes.

Zation: Yes, please. More of that.

Mal: Yeah.

Ellen: And he’s, he’s so cute about it. When, when Cas actually finds out what he’s done, he’s like, oh really? You did that?

Mal: It’s very cute by that point, there’s like, you know, dog eared pages and passages that have been highlighted and like,

Ellen: And he’s stolen the draft of the new book.

Mal: yes!

Zation: there are even notes. There are notes. Doesn’t he say that? There are even notes and Dean’s like, “you, you knew, I, I read your, I read your manuscript, you knew.”

Mal: And Cas’s like, “oh no, I didn’t know you read it quite this much.” Yeah. Some people I think wanted… did want some kind of like drama there with like Cas being like mad at Dean for taking the manuscript. But I always just answer them with the same thing. I’m like, no. Cas a hundred percent left that there deliberately. like he had no reason… It’s actually mentioned like throughout the fic how anal Cass is about like, keeping the house tidy and like getting things in their right places.

Zation: I was, I was thinking that. He’s super anal about everything, but that he leaves it out. So I was like, nah, nah, he, he wanted Dean to find it.

Mal: Yes. Yeah. I mean, he, he wrote it about Dean. So at that point he’s like, I’m just gonna give it. Yeah. Cas was playing the long game on that one.

Ellen: I, you do kind of wanna knock their heads together by that point, I think because it’s like, well, it’s really, you know, you know, how are you not realizing what’s happening here?

Mal: Yeah, if we’re talking about that aspect of it, I think we need a moment of silence for Gabriel in this story because he a hundred percent knows what’s happening.

Ellen: oh, he’s so supportive through the whole thing. Actually all of their friends and everything are so supportive and they all know what’s going on before. Like, you know, they, most of the time they believe that it’s real, like only Gabe is the one who knows that it’s not supposed to be and Sam, but yeah, you know, they’re, they’re very supportive. Like Sam’s supportive as well. He’s just like not supportive in the way that… he wants what’s best for both of them, but he doesn’t want Dean to go there. like, he’s like, “what are you doing? Are you gonna get him kicked out? You’re gonna get yourself put in jail.” like,

Zation: yeah, it’s the, it’s the classic Sam, the voice of reason. I like it. We need it in fics because we have Dean on the other end.

Mal: So yeah, we gotta balance him out. I think my favorite scene to write with Sam was this one where he’s talking to Dean in the kitchen, like about halfway through the fic and like, Sam’s literally like having a bit of a crisis trying to decide how he’s supposed to react to this.

Because on the one hand, he wants to tell Dean to like, don’t even go there. Don’t do this. That’s stupid. It was stupid enough of you to do this in the first place. Like that’s what he wants to do. But on the other hand, he’s like, no, no, you, you are my brother. You are worth that. Excuse me.

‘Cause he knows that Dean is thinking that basically he’s not worthy of being with Cas and that Cas won’t wanna be with him and that kind stuff. So Sam is just stood there. Like there is no right answer that I can give you

Zation: no, but I like it when Sam is like, excuse you. You’re you’re good enough because you’re my brother and you deserve it. yeah, I like it.

Mal: Yeah. Especially we do get like a tiny bit into… and we will, like later in one of my planned timestamps get into, into a little bit more, but the, we do get a little bit into how Sam and Dean were raised in this and they were Dean very much raising Sam himself as a father figure. So it’s, it’s tough for Sam ‘cause like he wants Dean to have the world, but Dean gets in his own way a lot.

Zation: He does have a tendency for it. Yeah. Yeah. I think I just have to mention one of the things that I… it’s just a small detail, but when I was reading it and, and Cas was he, he wanted to drink vodka and he mentioned the Bison Grass vodka. Yes. And he was like, this is better. Yeah. And I, I remember putting down the fic and I was like, hang on a minute. Went to my liquor cabinet and I have, I have a bottle of, the Bison vodka, and I was, I gotta taste it. It’s so it’s so old, but I taste, it was really good. I was like, Cas is onto something here

Mal: Yes. See the man knows his vodka.

Zation: Yeah, he really does.

Ellen: Yeah. And so like the vodka that we get here is like swill water compared to like the actual, real Russian vodka.

Mal: Yeah. Cass is a little horrified by American vodka. So the funny thing that I had to like specifically write in the fic ‘cause I knew that people would assume otherwise is that the, which is kind of one of those things that if you didn’t know me, nobody would ever know that this was a reference to my own like experience. But yeah, the, the vodka that Cas like so much, isn’t actually Russian anyway, it’s Polish. Which he actually has to mention, like, it’s, it’s not Russian vodka, but it’s really good. So…

Ellen: There you go. All these little details that you added in.

Mal: I’m sure I’ve forgotten half of them now, cuz I’m not somebody that can really reread my own work and when I finally agreed to cover this one, I was like, okay, I’m gonna go back and I’m gonna read it. And I got a few chapters in and just wanted to edit it so badly. I had to just close it. I was like, Nope, can’t do it. Oh yeah.

Zation: can relate from that. Yep.

Mal: It did. Yeah, it did give me the motivation to start working on the next, next timestamp as well though.

So there at least was a good reason for me to go back into it.

Zation: yeah, that’s good.

Ellen: well, you’ve got, you got one time stamp out already. And so you’ve got another one coming soon? Do tell?

Mal: Yeah. I have another one written. It is completely written. It is. It’s a gift for my lovely friend, Heather, who is out there.

It’s completely written. It needs editing. Once I’m back in a position in life where I can post things regularly, that will be going up. And then I have also started another one because I actually have five, I have five completely planned out timestamp for this fic, which were planned out like at the same time the fic was planned out. Like they’ve been planned the whole time. And the one, the one thing that when I was kind of looking around Googling for inspiration for the actual plot for this fic the one thing that popped out at me that was kind of the main prompt and was the reason why Cas ended up being a writer in this doesn’t even turn up until the second timestamp.

Like I finally got like squeezed that little tiny Nick in there and it, it not even, not even until the second one, so yeah. I really backed myself into a corner with a stick with this one shot I started writing.

Ellen: You’ve got some really lovely like dom/sub type smut in here too. Very hot. So thank you. Thank you for the pornography.

Mal: I’m glad you like it. I think because it was so explicit and there was so much of it out there. Like I got some very weird anonymous Tumblr asks while I was posting this thing. And I’m like, I’m sorry, this is not like a BDSM agony aunt service. I’m going to have to direct you elsewhere. I’m not doing that

Ellen: boundaries, people. boundaries.

Mal: Yeah. And I’m somebody who considers myself to have like pretty low boundaries anyway. And then like with friends, I don’t really have any, but with random strangers on the internet, I’m like, Hmm. Not that…

Ellen: well, as, as on top of the actual you know, smut stuff, there is also very lovely you know, friendship and, you know, eventual relationship between them that starts right from the start with him walking into the bakery and them just being like, oh my God. So thank you. It’s a delight to read. I have to say that I asked a few people online to tell me what they loved most about this story, because I wasn’t sure how much hiding under the pillows you were gonna do.

Mal: Oh, I tried to be so good. Do you have to subject me to this?

Ellen: You have, you’ve been really good. No, I do have to. ‘Cause I told people I would read it out, so I’ll just quickly go over some of it. Mydestielbabies67 said “the thing I love most about this is the fact that it’s true idiots to lovers, which is one of my all-time favorite tropes. And the whole fic is brilliant from start to finish. You have trouble stepping away once you start.”

Purpleskwid, who is one of the… like a lot of these people are from our ABHL group that we, where we all, some of them I haven’t actually met in person yet, but we, you know, they’re all really lovely people. So purpleskwid said “idiots in love is one of my favorite tropes.” Again! “Russian does it so well, neither of them wants to jeopardize anything. But even though they’re into each other from the start and the bits of Russian in the fic are adorable, especially when Dean starts learning and understanding the cute little pet names.”

We didn’t mention that before, but Dean, I love that Dean starts taking the duolingo classes and learn some Russian. So, you know, he’s got that up his sleeve for later in the fic, when he actually Cas says something and he understands what it is.

“I also loved the super self-aware romcom moments at the end of the fic.” Like, we didn’t mention that either, but, that’s kind of a major spoiler, but that’s an extra trope you shoved in there at the end with it where they’re resolving things at the end.

Mal: Yes. That one is very cheesy romcom and I just, I had to lampshade it and have Cas address it, like, they’re all very aware of what’s going on at the time, but ah! I’m like, I look like I have a sunburn right now.

Ellen: I’m not finished yet! Okay. Breezeranger said “Everyone is true to character. Dean tries to look after everyone. Cas has his trench coat, even though it’s an AU. It has all the makings of a good romcom. And your heart is racing and things go so far downhill and you are yelling at Mal and it’s a gateway fic to a BDSM fetish.”

I wonder how many people read this and then suddenly discovered that they enjoyed reading about this type of thing.

Mal: Look, according to those Tumblr asks a lot. Okay.  

Ellen: Anyway, Breezeranger says “five stars, highly enjoyable fic. Ticks all the boxes.”

And Rupertgayes. We’ve spoken about one of their fics before I believe fairly recently, but said that “It’s on so many recommended lists on Tumblr and it I’m a bit in love with Russian Cas conceptually and in fics. And you can definitely mention to Mal that I think the fic hit an iconic status in the fandom. When I think of Russian Cas, this is the one that pops into my mind first.”

So there you go. There were a bunch of other people who also sent me things, but I won’t go to all of them because I think Mal’s about to combust from blushing.

Mal: I’m expiring.

Ellen: but it’s well loved in the fandom.

Mal: Thank you so much to all those people. That was so nice. And, you know, it’s, it’s funny ‘cause even though like numbers wise, this isn’t my, like what you would say is my most popular fic data wise, it’s definitely one of the ones I get the most interaction about.

Yeah. Which is lovely. And everyone’s so nice. Thank you.

Ellen: and yeah, I wonder since we’ve talked about the tropey-ness of it, like I think that that might be partially why, like it’s got so many things in it that people love to read about and when they’re all packed into a fic that’s so well written, it sort of instantly becomes everyone’s favorite, you know?

Mal: Yeah. It was a little challenging to juggle the tropes and have them kind of all get their due in it. That was actually one of the most challenging things to do about the fic. I think sometimes if you put too many tropes in a fic it can just be, it can kind of end up a bit of a mess or like too, like too much to keep track of, or, or involved. And I was very worried about running into that with this one. There was some juggling involved.

Zation: I think you did it really well.

Mel: Oh, thank you.

Ellen: There’s definitely some, some skills in pulling it all together. Absolutely.

Mal: Hey, I’ve read lots of other Russian fics. Can I talk about some of those?

Ellen: Yes, I think we better cause where I out of time a little bit.

Mal: Okay. Thank you. No, honestly, thank you so much. And thank you for, to all the lovely people that sent you comments as well.

Ellen: You’re very welcome. all right. Tell us about some other fics that are in this trope.

Mal: So yeah, one of the reads I have to recommend if you like Russian Cas is the South Side Swing series by tiamatv. So this is actually a series of six one shots. And they do follow on from each other, but they each kind of have their own self-contained little story. This is also, this is like we were talking about earlier.

There are quite a lot of mob related Russian fics out there. And this is one where Dean’s family are basically control most of Chicago and there are some, some Bratva running around and it actually begins with Dean having a really lovely one night stand with a handsome, messy haired man in a trench coat that he just happens to meet in a bar.

And then the next morning goes to this meeting with an opposing… an opposing family force, shall we say? And yeah, there’s his one night stand staring him in the face, so, yes. And they, you know, as the series goes on, they continue seeing each other and their relationship develops. But Cas is wonderful in this because he’s very, very Cas, honestly.

Like he’s kind of stoic, he doesn’t waste his words. He’s, he’s genuinely nice, but prone to very excessive violence, if you piss him off. so like, he’s, he’s actually wonderful in this, and it’s one of those ones where you end up loving the characters so much, you kind of forget that they’re criminals for a bit and then something happens and you’re like, oh, okay.

So yeah, I, I have to recommend this to anybody who likes Russian Cas, who likes mob stories. Please go and check it out. It’s extremely well written. I love Tia’s writing so much, especially in this series. It just pulls you in and it’s, it’s not very long. The first one shot is 12,000 words.

And it’s one of those fics that I have reread probably 50 times. I, I stopped mentioning in her comments when I went back to say that I reread it because it got embarrassing. So, ‘cause occasionally I would just be like “rereading this now”… I’ve I’ve given up now. But yeah, it’s really good. It’s really good.

The characters are just wonderful and you will fall in love with the characters and you will be rooting for this relationship to work out between these two idiots that don’t necessarily like… Dean needs to get his shit together. It’s so good. So good. Yeah, I have a bunch more, but let’s see if anybody else wants to do one.

I, I will, I will just repeat again. That is South Side Swing by tiamatv, it will be linked on the blog and everything.

Ellen: I have to mention that Tia was one of the people who told me that they loved Russian to the Altar quite a lot and wanted to have a little squee about it. So there you go. The feeling’s mutual.

Mal: They, they joined a server I’m in recently and I had to have like a moment where I was like, all right. Be cool. Be cool. It’s like, don’t embarrass yourself. (laughter)

Ellen: bless. Okay. So I was gonna mention. Okay. So I’ve gotta mention I’ve I’ve been, I’ve mentioned this a few times before for different tropes that we’ve been discussing, but Every Great Top Deserves a Great Bottom by TrenchcoatBaby. I love this one. It’s only short, it’s less than 5,000 words, but it is where Cas and Dean are both models, like underwear models, and they do a photo shoot where Dean is at the start, he’s kind of a cocky kind of ladies’ man, and, or I, I think he’s out as being bi, but you know, he’s, you know, confident or whatever. And this Russian model guy just sort of turns his head completely. And it’s lovely. And it also has this really awesome, like characterization of Balthazar as like a, a fashion photographer.

Like he’s like, oh, you know, “Pose for me, that’s beautiful.” You know, you can really you can hear it in your head. Like I’m not gonna do like an accent for him, but, you know, it’s, it’s so well written and got some really lovely you know, smut at the end of it too. So it’s porn with, with some plot, with a little bit of plot.

Mal: Excellent. Do you have any favorites that you’d like to mention Zation, any Russian Cas favorites?

Zation: I, I do have one. It’s really old, from 2015, I actually just looked it up because I, I couldn’t remember. And it’s called American Dream by. Hmm. Let’s see. Soupernabturel? yeah, it’s supernatural, but it’s spelled funny, you know? And it’s a one shot, 4,000 words just slightly above. But basically it’s Dean is an office worker, I think. And Cas is a Russian taxi driver. And they just, yeah. They meet through taxi driving and it’s just, I love it because it’s, it’s smutty and it’s really gritty and yeah, it’s a it’s it’s porn without plot, I would say.

Mal: excellent.

Zation: But yeah, I can recommend it’s a short and good one. A quickie.

Mal: Yeah. Lovely.

Ellen: Sometimes you just need short one like that.

Zation: yeah. Perfect for a coffee break!

Mal: I’ve got a couple of short ones that I can recommend. This one is just under 7,000 words and the second one is only just over a thousand words and they are both by the wonderful and amazing Duckyboos. There was no way I was going to do Russian Cas and not mention them.

I decided instead of any of their big fics to focus on one of my favorites, which is Run on for a Long Time. It was published a couple of years ago in 2020, and it’s the summary of this one is just Dean meets the love of his life during repeated visits to the emergency room.

So Dean is like an assassin in this basically. And he makes a few mistakes now. And again, he’s a little clumsy, he goes to the emergency room and obviously he doesn’t, you know, have insurance, like most people. So he ends up kind of bailing at the end of each of his visits. But he keeps seeing this one particular nurse when he’s there.

And it’s not that, it’s not a spoiler ‘cause it’s it’s right there in the tags. But Cas is definitely not all he appears either. so it’s great. And it’s hot and I mean, it’s, it is quite violent. Clearly Dean is an assassin in this, so go into it, knowing that, but it’s very explicit, very fun.

And Ducky’s writing, it’s always a winner. So the short one is just called Cupid Carries a Gun. And this one’s really cute. It’s about Castiel. The first time he came to America, he was five years old. And you know, about him coming back later on and like I kind of crush at first sight for a kid thing that then turns into friends to enemies when they’re older.

So that’s his a very much mob and Russian mafia fic, but it’s only a thousand words. It’s a great, like coffee stuck on the phone, like whatever kind of fic.

Ellen: I love how we just fill out our, you know, little breaks with just porn.

Mal: Pretty much like, oh, this bus has taken a while. All right. Whip out the porn it’s like,

Zation: yeah, for, for sure. I remember back in yeah, I think it was 2015. I was studying in a town quite a bit…quite far away. It was, it was one hour by train. So yeah. Guess what I did. People say you can study on the train and I say, no, let me whip out my porn.

Mal: I have other things to do. (laughs)

Ellen: That reminds me, there’s a meme I saw recently, let me try and find it again so I can get it right.

So it’s, you know, in the, the Pride and Prejudice movie, like the film with Kiera Knightly, not the BBC version. Well, actually, they do this in all of the adaptations, so I don’t know why I’m specifying, but , they, the women all sit around in the drawing room or whatever it’s called and read or, you know, do they needle work or whatever. And the caption is “me reading unhinged risque fanfic in public with a perfectly straight face, like the lady that I am.” Just sitting there reading.

Mal: so true though. Yeah. It’s so true.

Ellen: it’s a skill. Okay. I had one more to mention, and that is called Adventures in Problem Solving, which is by blueeyesandpie, our friend Sunny. This one is only… it’s just over 5,000 words.

They’re roommates in college and because Cas is like in America on a scholarship for, you know, his visa is gonna run out at the end of the, their uni degree. Like they’re gonna graduate and then he’s gonna have to go back to Russia, which he doesn’t want to do. Because he’s in love with Dean and, and Dean’s kind of in love with him and, you know, they, they don’t realize.

And then they, it’s sort of, I guess, a little echoing of, of Russian in that Dean comes up with this idea that they should just get married and then, then Cas could stay. And Cas is like, oh, I don’t know about this, but then they actually, he comes around and then eventually they… like, I think it’s at their bachelor parties? They meet up and actually get together and go, “oh my God, we actually really do wanna get married!” You know, it’s really sweet. So yeah, if you’re looking for like a condensed version of the fake relationship becoming a real relationship, then this one is perfect for that.

Mal: oh, I love this one too. I reread it specifically, just as, as background research for this podcast episode. Yeah. I love it.

Ellen: It’s super cute.

Mal: I have plenty more. I can do a quick fire round so I will mention White Russian by, I dunno if it’s VIPJuly or VIP July. It’s a longer fic, 132,000 words, and it is a Russian mafia fic where Dean has a kind of, a bit more of a rough life and ends up kind of doing some work for Cas. It does have some, like dom/sub elements later on and also kind of a, like a fantasy twist that happens later on. So very good. would recommend it. I’ve read that one several times as well.

Yep. For something completely different, I would recommend a little fic called Feeding the Soul by jessschlinky, which is just under 8,000 words. And this is an omegaverse story where Dean is a single parent who has just escaped from an abusive relationship. And he is in, he is pregnant currently and he’s living in this little apartment by himself and he doesn’t have very much, but he has his freedom and he’s, you know, he’s doing okay kind of.

And then somebody moves in next door, this Russian guy and starts cooking amazing smelling food. And Dean is hungry and pregnant and basically just goes around with a bowl. Like, “look, we don’t know each other, but this smells real good.” Yeah, this very, it it’s super soft and super cute, this story. It’s more, I would say pre-Destiel than Destiel, ‘cause you don’t get a lot after the initial kind of like, oh, we could do this.

It was kind of done as two chapters. I don’t know if they ever intended on coming back to it, but they did not. It was published in 2018 and it’s not been updated since then. But it does feel complete by itself and it’s, it’s just very soft and very cute and like a completely different exploration of the Russian trope to the ones that we used to. Very cute.

And there’s one more that I want to mention which is something new for fans of this trope. So my lovely friend Briston has been posting a fic that’s not quite finished yet, but we are very close to the end. We’re only a few chapters up from the end called Russian Twist, which is a really amazing alternate universe, Canada spy story.

It’s it’s so, so good. It’s really hot. The plot is good. You have Dean being terrified of chickens. You have a fake relationship that’s not that fake. You have it’s it’s so good. Like, I just really want everyone to go and read this fic. I will admit my bias in beta-ing most of it but it’s so good. I love it. It’s written really well. It’s just so fun. Like it’s, it’s one of those fics. It’s just really, really fun to read. There’s currently just over 70,000 words out there and like I said, there’s a few chapters to go a couple chapters left, so we’re almost at the end. So please go and read Russian Twist by Briston. It’s amazing.

Please scream at me about it while you do it. Cuz it’s so fun. We even get like flashbacks to spy times and all kinds of stuff. Like it’s it’s a good fun time. Yes. Please yell at me about it in DMs. yeah. Oh, and I will say in case anyone’s concerned, it’s a good place to read now, even though it’s not finished, like relationship wise, you will be satisfied. You’re not like gonna be left, hanging, waiting on the relationship side of things.

Ellen: Zation, did you have any others that you wanted to recommend?

Zation: I do have one that was actually, it was published in 2013, but it was Supernatural RPF at the time. And I know the author, it’s emwebb17. And they took it down. The RPF version. And in 2019 they published it again, but they had changed it to Destiel.

Mal: Oh, and that’s interesting. I don’t know if I’ve seen someone do that before. Yeah. Cool.

Zation: Me neither. And I can say the time between taking it down and putting it up again, I was devastated. I didn’t know they were taking it down, so, so when I couldn’t find it to reread, I was literally crying. So but it’s called it’s actually part of a series called Off the Reservation and the first one is called Po Lazarus. I think from an old prison song, apparently. Basically Cas is in the mob and he’s in prison and Dean is a prison guard and they start a really, I’d say unhealthy relationship. Maybe? it has dom… it’s it’s BDSM undertones, maybe? I don’t want to spoil too much but it’s, it’s really good if you, if you like more hardcore, less healthy versions of dom/sub relationships. It’s great.

Mal: Okay. Awesome. All right. I will quick fire mention a couple more, but I’m gonna keep it to pretty much titles, authors and tropes so that people can… ‘cause these are all shorter ones. Usually.

There is a fic called In the Running by the delightful Unforth. This is really fun. It was written for the first Profound Bond server fanzine. And it’s a story where Dean’s been looking forward to his college reunion for months, and he keeps thinking back to, to Cas the, like one that, you know…He’s gonna show Cas what he missed and Cas doesn’t remember him. So it’s fun. It’s fun.

There’s another one called Remember this Feeling by superhoney, which is an Olympic games AU, which is kind of awesome. I’ve seen very few of those. Dean is a hockey player and Castiel is a speed skater. So that’s very fun.

Also one I have not read for a very long time, but cause it was published back in 2016 and it was a bit longer 85,000 words called The Cost of Falling by JinxedAmbitions. And there are definitely some kind of, you know, darker moments in, in this. It’s a historical fic, so there’s some period typical homophobia going on here. But it’s set in a circus in the 1950s where Cas is an aerialist and Dean is the rigger at the circus. So that’s like a completely different like something really out in the left field again.

Yeah. And I know we’ve covered it on the podcast before, so I won’t go into details, but I can’t mention Russian Cas without mentioning Roll With It by Saltnhalo where Cas is going to get deported from his job and pretty much forces Dean to marry him. It’s an AU of The Proposal with Sandra Bullock, the movie. Oh yeah. But I think we have talked about that one on the podcast before. So if I can find the episode where we did mention that before I will link it. But that is by Saltnhalo. I’m gonna shut up now. ‘Cause I could be here a long time.

Ellen: well, we can put all of your other recommendations on the, on the post.

Yes. And if you need more reading material after all of this, we’ve been talking about, I go check that out. Yeah. So you can find all those links on this episode’s post on If you’d like to get in touch with us you can tell us about… please, please tell Mal what you thought about Russian to the Altar! I’m sure she’d love to hear it! It’s not too late. But you can also you can get in touch with us on like the podcast on social media, under mixtapebookclub in most places, or you can email us: contact@mixtapebookclub dot com. Or if you’d like to chat with us on discord, we’re on Profound Bond Discord server in our own channel there, or you can subscribe to our coffee and get into our own discord server as well.

A very big thank you to you Zation for coming to talk to us today.

Zation: Very big thank you to you. for inviting me.

Ellen: have you got some fics coming up or what are you working on that you’d like to share?

Zation: I’m actually posting a fic right now that I’m working on. That’s actually a follow up to a one shot that I was, I wrote a while back. And someone told me that I, it would be fun to read more about this and I talked about it with my boyfriend and my beta and came up with some stuff. So, yeah.

Mal: Nice.

Ellen: We’ll have a link to your ao3 profile. So if people wanna read more of your stuff, then you can find that on our post as well.

Mal: Yay. Yes. Zation has over 130 supernatural fics to choose from, so I’m sure you can find something yeah. Amazing, impressive.

Zation: Hopefully something will we’ll suit you.

Mal: Okay. So coming up in our next episode I’m looking forward to this one. We are going to discuss fics where either Dean or Cas is a tattooist. So it’s finally time for tattoo Aus… one that has been requested by several people on our ko-fi discord server. So hopefully we will have a lot of fun recommendations for that one.

Ellen: Definitely. There’s some really great ones out there. Thank you everyone for listening. And we’ll talk to you again soon.

Mal: And as always, remember that the story isn’t over until we say it is.

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