“Yeah… no, Sammy.”
“Dean, this isn’t up for debate.”
Dean’s response freezes on his tongue as the waiter places the breakfast plates down on the table, first Sam’s and then Dean’s. Figures he’d want to feed Dean’s giant little brother first. No one wants to anger a hungry Sasquatch.
“I’m not sure what makes you think you’re the boss of me,” Dean says, once the waiter has walked away. He picks up his spoon, and scoops up an unappealing glob of oatmeal, scowling at it with the kind of venom he usually reserves for paparazzi.
Sam shakes his head and picks up a piece of bacon, waggling it in Dean’s direction as he speaks. The delicious bacony scent wafts across the table distracting Dean from Sam’s first few words. The end of the sentence is enough to give him the gist though. “—insurance, and with the crap on social media, and—“
“Social media?” Dean snorts. “Fuck, you don’t seriously believe any of those twitter trolls are capable of dragging themselves away from their computers long enough to actually act on their crazy, do you?”
Sam eats his perfectly crisped rasher of bacon obnoxiously loudly and gives Dean a long hard look before replying. “They usually tweet from their cell phones, Dean which y’know… are kind of mobile. And—“ he carries on, ignoring Dean’s attempt to interrupt, “some of the messages you’ve been getting since Gordon are even freakier than normal.”
Dean sighs and jabs his spoon sullenly at his oatmeal, his appetite all but deserting him. Pamela still hasn’t forgiven him for the Gordon Walker clusterfuck. Personally, he’d rather forget about the whole sorry affair. For more than one reason. “Freakier than the account dedicated to my freckles?” he asks, trying to deflect.
“Freakier than the ones dedicated to your bowlegs,” Sam shoots back, but any hope that his brother could be steered off subject quickly dissipates with his next words. “I called in a couple of favors, managed to get an FBI agent who works at the BAU to take a look, and she thinks we have cause to worry.”
“Shit, Sammy,” Dean says, dropping his spoon into his bowl, and scrubbing his hand across his scruffy beard instead. “You didn’t have to do that. This crap is nothing new. I’ve had wacko fans before.”
“Dean, I’m not talking about fans that want to marry you and have your green-eyed babies, here. These are threats. Serious, specific threats. Peel-your-skin-off-and-carve-your-heart-from-your-chest threats.”
“Dude,” Dean groans. He doesn’t want to hear this. He knows there are wackos out there who like to fantasize about weird shit, but he also knows that 99.9 percent of the time, fantasizing is all they ever do. And the rest of the time… well, Dean’s been looking after himself, and Sammy ever since their dad died, before that even, he’s pretty much had to do it since mom walked out on them. And no matter what Sam thinks, he’s still perfectly capable of looking after himself now.
“No, don’t dude me,” Sam snaps. “If you won’t let me come with you, I’m sure as hell gonna make sure you’re safe.”
“Of course I’m not gonna let you come with me,” Dean snaps back, just as irately. “Pregnant fiancée? Wedding? Honeymoon? Any of this ringing a bell with you?”
“I don’t need a honeymoon, not right now.”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Sammy, poor Jessica has been waiting for you to get your shit together and marry her for six goddamn years. That girl deserves at least a month in the Maldives for putting up with your slow ass this long, and she deserves it before she’s too fat to move.”
“Fat?” Sam’s eyebrows jump into his floppy fringe.
“Pregnant,” Dean clarifies quickly. “Before she’s too pregnant with your no-doubt mutantly gigantic baby to appreciate it. Or to get on a plane.”
“Dude,” Dean throws his hands up in the air. “The point is, I’ve paid for your honeymoon. You deserve it. Jessica sure as hell deserves it. I’m a big boy, okay? I can survive without you for a month or two.”
He can. He has before. Sam went to college for four years and Dean managed fine on his own. Mostly. Just because he doesn’t like being apart from his brother, doesn’t mean he can’t do it. And god knows, now that Jessica is pregnant Dean’s going to have to get accustomed to playing a much smaller part in Sam’s life. And that’s as it should be. He doesn’t begrudge Sam a single ounce of his happiness. And he’s not jealous. Not at all. Even if Dean’s most serious relationship for ten years ended with his personal life splashed across the front of The National Enquirer.
“Dean,” Sam says, and Lord help him, he’s wearing his abandoned puppy expression; the one that always suckered Dean into giving him the toy from the cereal box. Every damn time. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. And for Jess. But, you know I’ll never be able to relax thinking you could be in danger. Look, if you won’t agree to the bodyguard for your own safety, or even for the film company’s insurance, at least do it for me. So I can go on my honeymoon without spending the whole time worrying about you.”
Goddamnit. Goddamn it all. Dean never could beat his little brother in a game of chess. The no good, manipulative, cheating asshole. “Fine.” Dean scowls, leaning over the table and stealing the last rasher of bacon from Sam’s plate, waving it in his face. “Whatever. You win. But I swear to god, you hook me up with some overbearing bull-necked bully and I will never listen to you ever again. And I’ll persuade Jessica to name the mini-moose after his cool uncle.”
Sam grins, all teeth and dimples and Dean thinks the smashing glass he hears is someone nearby fainting. How Dean ended up the model-slash-actor and not Sam is a wonder of the modern age. Sam’s the one with the looks, and the hair, and the charm.
“Jessica’s far too intelligent to let you persuade her to do anything,” Sam says, confidently, snatching the bacon back out of Dean’s hand. “And you’re on a diet, movie star. You told me it was healthy living all the way until this movie was wrapped.”
“She’s not that intelligent if she’s marrying you,” Dean grumbles, although they both know he’s full of shit. Sam chews the bacon with his mouth open and kicks Dean’s ankle under the table.
“I’ll tell her you said that, shall I,” he says, masticated bacon on full show.
Dean rolls his eyes, and picks up his coffee, because fuck it all, he’ll give up his bacon so he doesn’t look like a bloated ken doll on the big screen (as one particularly venomous critic called him a couple years back), but he’ll quit acting before he quits caffeine. He decides that changing the subject might be a prudent plan. “You’re getting married in the morning, Sammy, to the girl of your dreams, the mother of your baby, the only woman in the world with a poor enough sense of smell to live with your gassy ass; so, on a scale of one to shitting your pants, how are you feeling?”
The wedding goes without a hitch. Apart from the obvious one. But, seeing as how Sam organized it all with only the barest input from Jessica, Dean isn’t remotely surprised. Sam’s nothing if not exceptionally good at micro-management. He’s been managing Dean’s career since before he even graduated from college. It’s not at all what Sam wanted to do with his life, but Dean has tried pushing him away to fulfill his boyhood dreams of becoming Perry Mason too many times to count and Sam always, always, insists he’s happy working with Dean.
Dean’s far too selfish to walk away from him. And as long as Dean works his ass off, keeps making films, making money, then Sam will be financially set for life. That’s the reason Dean started off modeling in the first place after all. And on Dean’s very worst days, when some asshole director is yelling in his face, or the pap’s are making his life hell, it’s the best reason he has for not telling them all to go fuck themselves.
And Sam is happy now. Dean’s never seen him beam quite so proudly. His eyes shining and dimples deep.
Jessica is the most beautiful bride, Dean’s garden (where Sam decided to hold the wedding) looks amazing, the paparazzi are no worse than normal, and the guests all behave themselves (more or less).
“Have I told you how beautiful you look?” Dean kisses Jessica on the cheek as he joins her at the edge of the marquee. They’re watching Sam attempt to lead Jessica’s grandmother around the dance floor, the fairy-lights twinkling above their heads as the band plays an old-fashioned waltz. The old gal is barely four-foot-tall and has to be at least ninety but somehow Dean still gets the impression Sam’s not the one in charge. “Sam’s a lucky guy.”
“And I’m a lucky girl.” Jessica smiles at Sam’s awkwardly stooped shuffle. “I’m kind of glad this whole wedding thing is over and done with though. I thought Sam was going to give himself a stroke coordinating the whole affair. Did I tell you about the fight we had when he tried to pick out my wedding gown?”
Dean snorts. He’s not surprised. Sam, bless him, can be pretty laser focused when he’s planning something. Thank god Jessica is laid back enough to put up with him.
“Well, at least you have a month to relax now. No work, no stress, no me. Just beaches, blue skies, and cocktails. Or well, mocktails for you I guess, Mrs Winchester.”
“You know, Sam’s going to miss you,” Jessica says softly, laying her hand on Dean’s arm. “When was the last time you two spent a whole month apart? Can you even remember?”
It was when Sam was a freshman in college and Dean was still too broke to be able to afford to visit him between jobs. Thank god, his modeling career picked up quickly because Dean hated that year with a fucking passion.
He shrugs though, like it’s no big deal. “‘Bout time you took him off my hands for a while.”
“You know I’ll look after him, right?” Jessica says, solemnly, not fooled by Dean’s gruff retort. Dean knows instantly she’s not just talking about the next month. Instead of reassuring though, her words are like a blade to his heart, because even though it’s Sam’s actual job to look after Dean, it’s been Dean’s job to look after Sam for more than twenty years. Everything he’s ever done, every decision he made, it was with one goal in mind; look after Sammy. And now… now there’s someone else to do that for him. It makes Dean wonder what the hell he’s going to do with himself.
“Nothing is going to change, Dean,” Jessica says, when Dean can’t find an easy quip to brush off her words. “You’re always going to be his big brother.”
Dean’s smile is strained when he answers. “And he’s always gonna be my pain in the ass little brother, but now he has you and Dean junior to fuss over so I can kick back and relax.”
Jessica, thankfully, doesn’t push. One of the things Dean loves about her is the fact she usually leaves the heart to hearts to Sam. If Dean doesn’t want to talk about something, Jessica won’t force the issue. “Dean junior?” she says instead, raising her eyebrow.
“Sure,” Dean grins. “Although, maybe not for a girl. Deanna?”
“And here was me thinking you were going to suggest Samantha for a girl?” Jessica grins back.
“Oh my god!” Sam lumbers towards them, rubbing at his lower back. “I don’t think my spine is ever gonna straighten up again. What are you two gossiping about? Should I be worried?”
“Absolutely,” Jessica says, her eyes laughing, but her arm curling around Sam’s waist so she can subtly massage his back. Sam bends down and kisses her forehead. Dean has to look away. He’s not jealous of Sam. Never could be. But that simple gesture makes him so envious of what Sam has with Jessica that it feel like someone just punched him in the gut. The wordless acts of love that pass so casually between them, so easily, it’s something Dean has never truly experienced. And now that he’s relatively famous, he doubts he ever will. His ex selling him out to the tabloids pretty much hammered the last nail in the coffin of Dean’s trust issues.
Dean coughs to clear the lump from his throat, but his voice still sounds rough when he talks. “So, you two lovebirds—“
His words are cut off by the sound of a scuffle breaking out, not far away. Dean doesn't figure out what’s going on until he spots a particularly vile paparazzo cursing up a storm and having a strangely tiny camera snatched out of his hands by two security guys.
“What the fuck?” Dean snarls. How the hell did that asshole even manage to sneak in? There's enough security around the house tonight to keep the damn president safe.
“Dean, hold up, let them deal with it.” Sam’s hand curls around Dean’s forearm before Dean even realizes he’s storming towards the commotion.
Dean shakes him off, or tries to. “How fucking dare he,” he rages. “This is your day, Sam. Yours and Jessica’s. This kind of bullshit shouldn’t get a chance to spoil it. I’m gonna rip his fucking head off.”
“No!” Sam’s in front of Dean now, pushing him backwards. “This is nothing, not even a blip on the day. But if you go marching across there now it’ll probably end up with us at the police station all night. Let the security guys deal with it. It’s what we’re paying them for.”
“Yeah, they’re doing a real bang up job so far aren’t they? Letting that lowlife in here in the first place.”
“Hey, fag!” Dean glares over Sam’s shoulder at the paparazzo being wrestled towards the house by security. The asshole is still grinning, smug like he’s not about to be arrested for trespassing. “Nice shindig! Must be good to see all your cock-sucking paid off, huh? I hear you let half the Academy fuck your ass to win that Oscar! I mean most people make do with gift baskets, but with natural assets like yours I guess that would have been a waste.”
Dean curses, and tries to push past Sam, but the bitch is too damn big, and too damn built. It’s like pushing against a solid wall. “Leave it, Dean. He’s trying to get a reaction. He wants you to punch him. He wants the story. Come on, kid, you know this.”
“Don’t call me kid,” Dean growls. “I’m four fucking years older than you.”
“Well, act like it then,” Sam snaps back at him, not relaxing his grip on Dean’s arms. “Calm the hell down.”
Dean takes a breath, and another, watches as the asshole is bundled, non-too carefully, into the house and out of sight. This was not how the night was supposed to go. It’s not how his brother’s wedding was supposed to end. Jesus, what the fuck were they paying a small fortune for security for if this shit still happens.
The guests’ shocked whispers are growing in volume, all eyes focused in his direction, and Dean feels embarrassment burning across his cheeks. And isn’t this just typical; Dean ruining Sam’s big day. It doesn’t matter how hard Dean tries, the good intentions he has, he always finds a way to fuck things up.
“Shit, I’m sorry,” Dean says, barely able to meet Sam’s eyes all of a sudden.
Sam shakes him, just enough to jolt him out of his self-flagellation. “You’ve nothing to be sorry for, Dean. Nothing.” Sam knows just where Dean’s thoughts are heading. Dean can see it in the lines edged at his eyes. “Forget about it, okay. Don’t let that asshole ruin today.”
Dean manages a stiff nod before Henriksen, their chief security guy for the wedding, walks towards them, talking in the mic on his cuff before seeking Sam’s attention. Sam releases his grip on Dean’s arm and claps him on the shoulder, leaving his hand there, anchoring Dean in place. Henriksen doesn’t blink. Knows just how protective Sam can be.
“He stole one of the waiter’s ID’s, weaseled his way in with the caterers.” Henriksen holds his palm up when Sam opens his mouth. “I know. I know. Someone fucked up. I’ll get to the bottom of it.”
“Make sure you do,” Sam nods.
“I’m sorry, Dean,” Henriksen says, pressing his hand against his ear in a way that means someone else is talking to him. “I’ll make sure the bastard gets at least a night in the cells for his trouble.”
Dean just scowls, because the scumbag deserves more than that and they all know it. But apparently beating up a pap is still a crime, so his hands, and Henriksen’s, are pretty much tied.
Henriksen walks away, mumbling into his cuff and Sam squeezes Dean’s shoulder firmly before eventually letting go. Dean takes a deep breath and tries to ignore the heat of attention on him. There aren’t hundreds of people here, well, no more than a couple of hundred at most, and they’re all friends of Sam and Jessica. But that doesn’t stop them rubbernecking at the drama. A lot of people are drunk enough by now, not to even attempt to be subtle about it. Dean’s personal life has been all over the tabloids this past year, and he’s sick of feeling like a zoo attraction, especially in his own home.
Thankfully, it’s getting late, almost time for Sam and Jess to ditch the party and enjoy their first night of wedded bliss. Which means Dean can disappear too. Lock himself in his room and figure out what the hell he’s going to do without Sammy by his side for the next month. Longer possibly. Forever probably.
“So,” Sam says. “We’re flying out tomorrow and you’re leaving for London the day after. You’ve got the flight details and know what you’re doing? You sure you don’t want Kevin to travel with you?”
Dean snorts. “No, that’s okay. I’ve got enough problems without adding babysitting to the mix.”
“Kevin is twenty-three.”
“He lives with his mother.”
“He’s excellent at his job.”
“As long as his job is sitting in front of a computer organizing shit. Or talking on a phone and telling people what to do. Actual real-life interaction? Not so much.”
Sam shrugs, having run out of arguments because Dean is right for once. While Kevin is the best assistant that Sam has ever had, and while he is perfectly capable of handling the day to day crap of running Dean’s life while Sam is off being a newlywed, he’s hilariously bad at talking to anyone without the barrier of a phone or computer. And honestly, even if Dean did want someone traveling to the UK with him, he doubts Kevin’s mom would let him go. He sniggers at the thought. Sam narrows his eyes, and asks, with bite, “So, you’re gonna be okay with the flight? What is it… eight hours, nine?”
“Fuck you,” Dean grumps. “I flew to Australia last year.”
“With me. And you drank half a bottle of Jack before you even got on the plane.”
“I had three drinks, Sam, three.”
“Three doubles and the flight was at eight am. You almost broke my hand when we took off and you were unconscious when we landed.”
Dean says, through clenched teeth, “I’ll be fine,” and doesn’t mention the little bottle of pills he persuaded the doc to prescribe him. “Just freaking peachy.”
Sam, pointedly, says nothing.
“Fuck you.” Dean rolls his eyes and slaps his brother on the arm. Sam shakes his head and laughs. Jessica appears, wriggling between the pair of them, and looping an arm around each of their waists.
“I hate to break up the party just when it’s getting lively, boys, but we should probably call it a night. We have to leave early for our flight in the morning.”
Dean’s stomach lurches at the reminder but he paints a smile on his face anyway, squeezing Jess’s shoulder before stepping away.
“I want you to call me every day,” Sam says.
Dean laughs before he realizes that Sam is actually serious. “Don’t be ridiculous, you’re on your honeymoon.”
“Just so I know you’re doing okay.”
“Dean—“ Sam starts, but fuck no.
“No, Sam, no way.”
Sam’s jaw twitches and Jess rolls her eyes, loudly. “Every other day then.”
“Jesus, Sam, no. I’m a big boy, I can look after myself. Go on your damn honeymoon and forget all about me and my crap.”
“If you think I’m going to just disappear and forget about you for a month, you’re actually insane, Dean.” Sam’s words are clipped, his mouth tight enough for Dean to know he’s getting pissed. “I’m your manager, Dean, not to mention your brother. I need—“
“You need to chill the fuck out,” Dean says, trying to cut Sam off before he works himself up into a bitch-fit. “Look, I’ll message you once a week. Let you know how everything’s going.”
“You’ll call. Twice a week. And message at least every other day.” Sam crosses his arms over his chest and glares. Dean knows he’s fighting a losing battle.
“Fine, whatever, Samantha,” Dean concedes. And just like that, Sam is back to being all beaming smiles and Dean knows he’s been played. Twice weekly phone calls is no-doubt what Sam wanted in the first place.
“I hate you,” Dean says, but there’s absolutely no heat behind the words. Sam laughs and hauls him into a bear hug that Dean pretends to hate for about a second before he’s hugging back just as fiercely.
“Have a great trip with your wife, Sammy. I’m real proud of you,” Dean says, words muffled against Sam’s shoulder.
“Thanks, Dean,” Sam says, voice bubbling over with emotion. “For everything. I love you, man.”
Dean swallows a lump in his throat, before slapping Sam on the back and breaking away. “Okay, okay, Samantha, no chick flick moments.”
“Dean,” Sam smirks. “You’re literally the poster boy for chick flicks.”
“Fuck you,” Dean says, punching Sam in the arm, probably hurting his fist worse than Sam’s stupidly thick bicep.
“Okay,” Sam says, when Jess looks at her watch. “We’d better leave, I guess. Have a good trip, don’t do anything stupid. And don’t try to lose your security. If you have any problems, any, Dean, you call me. Or,” he says, seeing the bullish expression on Dean’s face, “you call Kevin. Promise me.”
Dean rolls his eyes, but promises anyway. He stubbornly doesn’t cry as he watches Sam and Jess say their goodbyes and thank you’s to their guests before slipping away, giggling like the newlyweds they are.
Dean retreats to his bedroom with a bottle of whisky shortly after, leaving the caterers and security guys to get rid of the straggling guests. It might be rude, but he’s past caring. In truth he’s feeling kind of hollow; his happiness for Sam suddenly overshadowed by the realization he’s just lost the most important thing in his life. Sam has a wife, and a child on the way, and Dean is alone and lonely and probably destined to remain that way forever. It’s selfish and self-indulgent and in the morning, Dean will hate himself for it, but right now he thinks he’s allowed to wallow in self-pity with a decent malt.
The thing about Dean, Jessica thinks, is that he’s not that good of an actor. Well, obviously he’s an amazing actor. On screen. And that one time he stretched his acting wings on stage. His Oscar, and all the other awards he’s won, are well deserved, and she’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. But that’s not what she’s talking about. Dean is an appalling actor when it comes to hiding his feelings; his eyes are just too damn expressive. Every emotion he has reflects in them, clear as day, for anyone who cares to look close enough to see.
And Jessica does care. Because she happens to love Sam Winchester more than she loves any other person in the world. And so, she knows, does Dean. It’s a different kind of love, but no less important and no less consuming. Dean would give his life for Sam in a heartbeat. And Sam would do the same for Dean. Considering this, it’s actually kind of surprising that Dean and Jessica don’t resent the hell out of each other. But Dean’s never been anything other than kind and generous; treating Jessica like a little sister rather than blaming her for stealing his kid brother away from him. Not that Jessica ever could do that. Not really. The fact that it’s taken this long to find the time for her and Sam to marry proves that. Even now, newlywed and on honeymoon, Jessica knows that Sam is still going to be thinking about Dean. Worrying.
And despite what some of her friends say, she doesn’t hold a grudge against Sam, or Dean, for that. She has an amazing life. Her kid is going to have an amazing life. And the best dad, and the most doting uncle. And she knows, probably more than anyone, that without Dean, without the sacrifices he made to ensure his brother had a normal life, she would probably never have met Sam Winchester in the first place.
The only thing Jessica would change is the loneliness that lies hidden in Dean’s gaze when he looks at her and Sam sometimes. Dean deserves to find someone to love. And not someone like Gordon Walker. That bastard never really cared about Dean. All Walker wanted was a hot body in his bed and free publicity, using Dean in the worst way to get it. The asshole. No, Dean deserves to find someone special. Someone that is capable of loving him just as fiercely as Dean will love them.
The flight is just as awful as Dean expects. The prescription meds make him drowsy, but he still can’t fall asleep. He orders a couple of drinks hoping they’ll knock him out, but all the liquor does is make him feel dangerously queasy. After three hours in the air, he’s sure that his fidgeting and green complexion are pissing off everyone near him and he takes another pill. It’s not a great idea. It doesn’t help his stomach or his head. But he does eventually manage to sleep for a fitful couple of hours. When he finally escapes the tin-can hellhole of the Boeing 747, first-class cabin, all he wants to do is get to whatever hotel he’s booked into and collapse into a nice, comfortable, non-turbulence affected bed, and sleep off the dizzy funk he’s in.
Of course, that doesn’t happen because first he has to tackle passport control and customs, and somehow, despite the fact it’s one in the goddamn morning, there are lines of people, and machines not working and the grouchiest customs officer who seems to think that Dean is wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat pulled low because he’s a giant douche with something to hide and not just because he doesn’t want photos of himself looking like he’s been fucked by Death, hitting the tabloids. Again.
And once Dean finally breaks free of that clusterfuck, narrowly missing out on the customs dude breaking out the rubber gloves because he eventually recognizes Dean as his son’s favorite actor (thank god for that ridiculous robot-bugs action flick), he still has to find his luggage. Which somehow, despite it being a direct flight, has managed to get lost somewhere between LA and London. Dean’s beyond caring to be honest, he has his phone, and its charger, his wallet, his passport, and his script in his backpack; everything else can be replaced. But he still has the airline customer service staff to deal with — who manage to make Dean feel like it’s his own fault his luggage is en-route to the back end of who-knows-where — and reams of forms to fill out.
The silver lining is that, by the time Dean drags his weary ass out of the arrivals hall, there are no pap’s lurking.
The downside is, the driver who was supposed to be meeting him is nowhere to be seen either.
Dean suppresses the urge to have a meltdown, and the bigger urge to call Sam, because he’s not a cranky toddler or completely incapable. Instead he pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and squints through tired eyes at his contacts list. He should really call Kevin and get him to sort this mess out. But it could take hours for Kevin to get hold of anyone who knows anything, and find the driver who was supposed to be collecting Dean. Also, he’s a thirty-year-old man who’s been looking after himself, and his brother, since he was a kid. The fact that he’s even thinking about making someone else deal with this fuck-up just shows how used to Sam’s coddling Dean’s gotten over the past few years.
Dean slips his phone back into his pocket. He’ll grab a cab, find a hotel and figure everything else out in the morning, how hard can that be. And at least he can afford a decent hotel. Some of the motels he and Sammy used to stay in when they were younger were a hazard to public health.
Adjusting his backpack, and tugging his ball cap a little lower, Dean searches for the exit and taxi signs and heads in that direction. He doesn’t even make it to the door before he feels a hand clasp down on his shoulder and a rough voice in his ear.
Now, there was a time, not too long ago, when Dean’s immediate reaction would have been to twist out of the grip and punch the handsy fucker in the face. Unfortunately, these days, that’s frowned upon by pretty much everyone, especially Pamela, his publicist. So, despite his heart leaping into his throat, Dean simply twists out of the grip, clenches his fists at his sides and scowls through his shades at the guy who’s apparently never heard of personal space.
“What the fuck, man?”
The dude stares back at him. Dressed in a crumpled suit and raincoat, he looks like he’s just been spat out the other end of an eight-hour flight too. “You are Dean Winchester, yes?”
The guy has an odd accent, one that Dean can’t quite put his finger on, American maybe, but there’s a little something else mixed in there too. It’s strangely… cute. And the pills, booze and general exhaustion may be fucking with his head, but Dean’s reasonably sure he’s not hallucinating how damn hot the guy is either, with his dark mussed bedhead and soft-looking lips. Still, despite the pretty face and gravelly voice, Dean takes a step backwards, not sure how best to deal with the intense level of fan-boying the dude is projecting.
The guy tilts his head when Dean doesn’t answer, his eyebrow raising in question. “The actor, Dean Winchester, arriving from LA on flight BA 268?”
Okay, so if the guy is a stalker, he’s a damn good one. “Look, buddy—“
“Castiel.” The weird dude butts in, confusing Dean completely.
“My name... it’s Castiel.”
“Whatever,” Dean snaps, looking around to see if airport security happens to be in the vicinity. Obviously the one time he needs them, they’re not. “I don’t know who you are—“
“I’m Castiel Novak.” The guy interrupts Dean, his nostrils flaring with a huff of frustration. “And I am here to meet you.”
“Well, howdy, Castiel, now you’ve met me, you mind if I get going?”
Castiel rolls his eyes in a manner that suggests he’s less than impressed. “I am here to look after you,” he says. “Your CPO?”
Dean knuckles at the bridge of his nose and wonders if it’s possible he’s still on the airplane and just having a bizarro dream. “CPO?”
“Close protection officer. Bodyguard? Your brother hired my services?”
“Sammy did?” Dean says, and then deflates as he recalls the conversation. “Sammy did.”
Castiel stares back wordlessly at Dean. Dean’s knees feel kind of weak under the intensity of his gaze. After a moment’s silence, feels the need to defend his apparent idiocy. “You know, Sam didn’t actually tell me the arrangements, or your name.”
“Ah, I apologize. Perhaps you would like to call him and confirm the details?”
“He’s on his honeymoon,” Dean points out. That’s the whole reason Dean is standing on his own in an almost dead airport having this weird conversation with a strange — and strangely hot — dude.
Castiel nods. “He did mention that. Would you like to contact Mr. Tran, then? I believe he has all the details of my employment.”
Dean could call Kevin. He should call Kevin. He shouldn’t just trust this dude. Dean is, however, tired. Really fucking tired. “Nah,” he says. “If you say you’re my bodyguard—“
“You’re just going to believe me?” Castiel looks at Dean incredulously. “I could be anyone! Do you have no self-preservation instincts? No wonder your brother insisted you needed protection.”
“Hey now—“ Dean starts to argue.
Castiel cuts him off with a glare, and pulls his ID from his pocket. “Call Mr. Tran. Here, check my ID.”
“You’re holding it upside down,” Dean points out, pettily, taking his cell phone out of his pocket, and hitting Kevin’s number.
It’s a two-minute conversation that leaves Dean feeling like an enormous dumbass. Yes, there’s a chance he’d already taken a pill when he had the previous conversation with Kevin about his new bodyguard Castiel Novak meeting him at the airport. Apparently, Dean has a photo of Castiel on his phone, and oh yeah... that photo of the dark-haired dude with the blue eyes does look a little familiar.
“Well, you weren’t here when I came out,” Dean’s says, petulantly.
Castiel walks just ahead of Dean as they leave the terminal. “You were late. Very late. I was checking you were actually on the flight.”
Dean, too fucking exhausted to argue, follows Castiel out to a waiting car. A nondescript grey sedan; not particularly pretty or impressive. He makes the mistake of pointing that out. “This car is powerful and safe, and unlikely to draw unwanted attention. Unless you want the paparazzi following you around?”
Dean grunts in response, and throws himself in the backseat. Castiel slams the door behind him and then stalks around the other side of the car and climbs in beside him. Dean glares at the side of his head. Castiel ignores him. “I apologize for our tardiness, Miss Bradbury; Mr. Winchester was... delayed.”
“They lost my bags,” Dean bites out in self-defense because this Castiel dude seems to think Dean is an asshole when actually he’s just a bad flier without a change of underwear. And no toothpaste. Or deodorant. That’s gonna be a big issue soon.
“They lost your bags? Aw, man that’s sucks hairy balls,” says the girl in the driver’s seat (which unsettlingly, is on the wrong side of the car, why do they insist on driving on the wrong side of the road here, Jesus). “You need anything before I take you to the hotel, Mr. Winchester?” She’s already pulling away, smoothly navigating the maze of roads that take them out of the airport.
Yeah, Dean could use a couple of things. But first, he needs to sleep off this foggy haze clogging his brain. “No, thanks, just the hotel please, Miss—“
“Charlie,” the girl says. “Just, Charlie. Like I’ve told Cas here a hundred times already. I’m your PA while you’re across here. We would have arranged a driver as well, but your manager explained you don’t like a big entourage... which, trust me... is refreshing to hear. And I like driving so, well, here we are.”
She’s perky and friendly and kind of familiar. Dean tries to dig through his murky head to figure out why he recognizes her, eventually he just asks, interrupting her nervous babbling.
“Oh,” Charlie says, looking back over her shoulder when she stops at the barrier to the car lot. “I worked as a PA on a movie you did a couple of years ago. But I didn’t think you’d remember— “
“Pac-Man Fever,” Dean says, finger gunning her when he finally remembers. “You had long hair then though, you’ve had it cut. Nice. Didn’t you persuade half the crew to go larping one weekend? And you found that awesome little doughnut place. It was totally your fault that the wardrobe department kicked my ass on that film.” Dean licks his lips now when he thinks about it; they were they best damn doughnuts ever. They had bacon on them. Bacon.
“Miss Bradbury,” Castiel says pointedly from beside him. “The barrier.”
“Oh, yeah,” Charlie says, shifting her attention back to the road. Dean’s kind of glad because he doesn’t think he can keep up any level of intelligent conversation for long. If he doesn’t close his eyes soon, his eyeballs are going to swell up so hard they’ll pop out of his skull.
“Well, I’ll not go looking for doughnuts this time,” Charlie says. “Wouldn’t want to be a bad influence.”
“Hey,” Dean complains. “Let’s not be too hasty.”
And then he closes his eyes and Charlie’s reply is lost.
He doesn’t wake until the car has stopped and Castiel is prodding him awake.
Even then he’s not what one would call awake. If it wasn’t for Castiel and Charlie, he doesn’t think he would have made it past check-in and up to his room.
In the morning, Dean wakes fully dressed and lying on top of the covers of a disappointingly uncomfortable bed. His back cracks ominously when he sits up and his neck complains when he tries to look sideways towards the heavily draped windows. His brain, at least, seems to be up and running normally even if his eyes are grit-filled and the taste in his mouth suggests he chewed on one of Sam’s sweaty socks last night. Eyes bleary, it takes him a few minutes to focus enough to tell the time on his watch. Almost nine. Shit. Stretching out his shoulders and not bothering to stifle a groan, he rolls out of bed.
His first instinct is to look at his phone, see if Sam’s called, but his phone is on the bedside table, completely dead. Spotting his backpack on a nearby chair — and fuck but there’s no way that thing with its spindly legs is designed for sitting on — Dean grabs it, and rummages for his phone charger, thankful that he shoved it in his bag at the last minute rather than packing it in his suitcase. Except when he goes to plug the charger in, he realizes the one thing he didn’t shove in his backpack was an adapter for the goddamn idiotic English power outlets. Son of a bitch!
He can at least take a shower, even if he does end up smelling like a spiced orange thanks to the fancy shower toiletries. Brushing his teeth with the tiny excuse for a toothbrush and weird herbal toothpaste the hotel has provided is less than satisfactory and leaves him with a funky taste in his mouth. He doesn’t have much option but to pull back on yesterday’s clothes. They’ll just have to do until his bags turn up or he can buy something new.
He’s messing around with the television control, trying to figure out how to switch on the damn thing, when there’s a demanding series of knocks on the door to his suite. He’s not surprised to find Charlie standing on the other side; there aren’t too many other people who know he’s here after all. He is pleasantly surprised when she hands him a large Starbucks cup.
“Coffee,” she says. “Black, no fancy crap.”
“You’re awesome,” Dean replies, taking a sip and sighing happily when he almost scalds his tongue.
“Kevin said your schedule is on your phone but you probably haven’t looked at it?” She looks up at him questioningly.
Dean points to the dead cell phone and abandoned charger on his bed. “The adapter was in my suitcase.”
“Which is AWOL,” Charlie nods. “Okay, we’ll sort that out. And I’ll chase up the airline for your luggage. You have a couple of meeting scheduled today, Mr. Winchester, and then— “
“Dean,” Dean manages to slip a word in. “Just call me, Dean, please. And look, I’m sorry if I was a dick last night. I don’t fly well. And I’d taken a couple of pills. Prescription ones, just for the flight.” He’s quick to assure her lest she get the impression he’s turned into a crackhead. “And then I had a couple of drinks and then possibly another pill. My head was kinda foggy. Honestly, I don’t even remember how I got to bed last night.”
Charlie laughs. “You weren’t a dick. Well, apart from wearing sunglasses at night, that’s always a little dickish, but hey... you’re an Oscar winner now, right? You can totally get away with it.”
“Anyway.” Charlie grins. “The only thing you did was fall asleep on Cas’s shoulder. I don’t think Cas really minded the drool. Considering his occupation, I’m sure the guy’s gone through worse. And he didn’t seem to mind putting you into bed either. You were so sleepy it was actually pretty adorable. So, today, like I said, you have a breakfast meeting scheduled, and then— “
Charlie Bradbury is a force of nature. No one could replace his brother, but Dean figures Sam has done a pretty good job of hiring someone who’s gonna make sure life for the next couple of months runs as smoothly as possible.
Charlie doesn’t give him time for more than a few sips of coffee before she’s glaring at her phone and ushering him out of the door. Castiel Novak is walking towards them from the direction of the elevators, and while Dean’s memory of the night before is blurry, he does recall that Cas was wearing that trench coat and suit, with the same squint tie. His impression that Cas dresses more like an overworked office drone rather than a bodyguard holds steady. So does his impression that Cas is pretty fucking hot. Even with his eyes narrowed and mouth downturned.
“You should have waited for me,” Cas says, in lieu of a good morning.
Charlie pats Cas on the arm, as the three of them walk the short distance to the elevators, Dean pressing the call button.
“Cas,” Charlie says, looking at her cell phone. “Relax. I told you we’d meet in the lobby.”
“It’s not secure.”
“It’s perfectly secure,” she responds calmly. “It’s the two of us in an elevator going down twelve floors. What do you think is going to happen?”
Dean takes another sip from his cup and wonders if he could ask someone for a stick of gum. The combination of hippie toothpaste and black coffee is gonna make his breath foul enough to gas passing strangers.
“Miss Bradbury,” Cas says, placing his arm across Dean’s chest when the elevator doors swing open and he tries to walk in like a normal person. “I do not interfere with you performing your duties, please do me the same courtesy.”
“Dude,” Dean says, not happy at being held back like a troublesome toddler.
“And you, Mr. Winchester.” Cas is apparently taking no shit this morning; his expression and tone make it clear that he’s not fucking around. “From what I gather, you don’t want me around, however, I’m here to protect you whether you like it or not. It will make all of our lives easier if you accept that and allow me to do my job.”
“Dude,” Dean says again. “Who pissed in your Cheerios?”
Cas has the most impressive scowl. One that might even rival Sam’s. His opinion of Dean is written clearly across his unamused face.
“Whatever,” Dean huffs. “I haven’t had enough coffee, or sleep, for this shit. Can we please just do whatever the hell it is we’re supposed to be doing.”
Cas drops his arm, but not his scowl. Dean stomps into the lift, takes another sip of coffee and tries to convince himself that the day can only get better.
His day does not get better.
The first meeting, over breakfast in the hotel restaurant, is with an executive who wants Dean in his next movie. Sam set up the meeting, telling Dean the guy was a big name, the movie was big budget, and the fee would keep him in champagne and caviar for life. Dean detests champagne and caviar, which is just as well because he knows within three minutes of meeting the guy, he won’t be working with him.
Usually Sam takes control of these type of meetings, but this time Dean’s on his own. Charlie has disappeared, hopefully to find out where his lost bags are, or at least to grab him some mouthwash and a clean shirt. Cas, looking more like another barely awake businessman than a bodyguard is sitting at a nearby table with a pot of tea and a pile of toast in front of him.
Dean orders more black coffee and sinks low in his chair as the douchebag executive talks loud enough to draw the attention of the whole restaurant, calls the waitress sweetheart and leers at her in a way that makes Dean want to punch him. It’s only the thought of Sam having to cut his honeymoon short to bail Dean out of jail that holds him back. The movie, the producer describes vaguely to Dean, is brainless blockbuster material, and will doubtless rake in a fortune at the box office, but Dean’s done his fair share of guns and explosion movies in the past couple of years and he’s not looking to do another anytime soon.
“So, Dean,” the asshole says. “What do you say? This movie’s gonna be the bomb, am I right? Fast cars, awesome pyrotechnics, and hot chicks, what more could anyone want?”
Sam would be able to answer the guy politely but Dean can only raise his eyebrow and take another sip of coffee. The guy doesn’t even stop talking.
“Of course, we’ll have to play down this bi bullshit, obviously. Can’t have everyone thinking about our leading man sucking cock, so we’ll get you set up with a couple of wannabe starlets before the release date. Make sure the world knows you like tits, right, Deano?”
Dean’s jaw is so tense he hears the bone grind.
“I mean,” the douchebag carries on regardless. “Not that I care, obviously. Who gives a shit who’s sucking your dick, right? One pair of lips is just as good as the next.” His eyes linger tellingly on Dean’s mouth. “But we can’t have the paying public thinking about you getting your ass reamed when they’re watching you fuck whatever leggy blonde we cast, right?”
Dean’s speechless. If Sam were here, he’d have cut the meeting short by now, in a way that didn’t cause a scene, or offense. Dean doesn’t know how to walk away without inching even nearer to career suicide. This guy’s a dick, but he carries weight with a lot of the studios. Dean might be a pretty successful actor, but the Gordon Walker scandal hasn’t helped his career any; he can’t afford for this guy to badmouth him to half of Hollywood.
“Hey, sweetheart? What does a guy have to do to get a refill over here?” Douchebag’s attention has snapped back to the waitress who’s walking by, her hands full with several empty plates.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” she smiles politely at him. “I’ll be right with you.”
“Fuck,” douchebag laughs, dabbing his napkin to his lips. “Talking of blowjobs, I wonder if she feels like earning a decent tip.”
Furious and embarrassed on the girl’s behalf, Dean jumps to his feet, his chair squealing against the floor. There’s no way that girl didn’t hear what the loud-mouthed son of a bitch said. Career suicide or not, he’s not about to let that kind of crap fly.
“Mr. Winchester.” There’s a hand on his arm and a voice in his ear, deep and cool and perfectly in control. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but your car is here.”
Dean’s shaking, his muscles tense under Cas’s grip. He knows the bodyguard is bullshitting. Knows for a fact this meeting is scheduled for at least another twenty minutes, and even then he isn’t leaving the hotel. Douchebag, thankfully, apparently doesn’t know this.
“Well, shit,” he says, “we haven’t even discussed the details yet. I guess I’ll have my people give yours a call?” It’s a blessing that he’s so fucking full of himself he doesn’t realize Dean has barely said a word. Or anything about accepting the proposal.
Dean stares sullenly for a moment, not speaking until Cas gently squeezes his arm. “Yeah,” Dean clears his throat with a cough. “Yeah, sounds like a plan, man.” Screw it, let Sammy deal with douchebag later. He looks pointedly at his watch. “Sorry, I really need to get going.” The guy moves to stand up, either going for a manly back slap or a handshake and Dean thinks if the guy touches him there’s still a fair chance that Dean might punch his sleazy face. Cas, for all that he’s known Dean for five minutes, must figure this out, because he’s bundling Dean away from the table with a curt apology before the douche is even on his feet. Dean is ridiculously grateful.
Spotting the waitress on his way out of the restaurant door, Dean slips away from Cas for a second. “Hey, look, I’m sorry about that asshole.”
“What?” The girl looks up at him, her face immediately turning a flustered pink. “Mr. Winchester... I...”
“Is there someone else that can serve him?” Dean asks, hating the idea of the girl, no more that nineteen if that, going anywhere near the creep again.
“What?“ she says again, before flushing even deeper. “I mean... yes, I’ll get my supervisor to serve him.”
“You want me to talk to your supervisor? Explain?”
“No, no, that’s fine… I’m fine, thanks.”
Dean nods, reassured, and slips his wallet out of his pocket, grateful that Sam was organized enough to make sure he had some sterling in cash before he left. “Okay, if you’re sure. Here, you deserve a tip for having to deal with us.” He slides a fifty-pound note into her hand.
“Oh… god,” she says. “You don’t have to… I mean, I don’t suppose… can I just have your autograph... please… we’re not supposed to ask, but you’ve been so nice… and...”
“Sure,” Dean smiles, and the waitress giggles. He can feel Cas getting antsy behind him, but he’s got all the time in the world for fans like this. If it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t have a job after all. He signs her notepad, and her supervisor’s when he appears, concerned or perhaps just nosy. And then, before Dean knows it, there’s selfies with a few more of the staff and Dean’s seriously regretting that he looks, and smells, worse than day old airplane food.
Cas, eventually, steps in and bundles him out of the restaurant before they attract a crowd.
“Thanks,” Dean says. “For hauling me out of there before I smacked that asshole producer in the face.”
Cas’s face is as inscrutable as always. “I was merely doing my job.”
“Well, thanks anyway.” Dean shrugs, allowing himself to be herded through the hotel corridors. There’s no car waiting, because they’re not leaving the hotel, so they only have to go as far as another suite on the fourth floor where Charlie is waiting for them. There’s still no sign of Dean’s bags, but she has found a telephone charger, decent toothpaste, deodorant, and a change of shirt. Dean raises his eyebrow at the Scooby Doo motif on the front of the T-shirt, but he shrugs because what the hell, he loves that damn dog.
It’s a happy blip in an otherwise crappy morning. He changes into the T-shirt, which is tighter than he would have liked, and brushes his teeth with more relief than is probably normal.
They’ve hired this suite for interviews. Three journalists, twenty minutes each. It’s a generous time frame. Double the usual ten-minute pieces they do for press junkets. But, Sam had assured Dean this should keep the press off his back while he’s in the UK, and Pamela had handpicked the publications so they should all do sympathetic pieces. And, as Pamela is quick to point out, he needs all the good publicity he can get until the Gordon Walker bullshit blows over.
The first journalist, from Empire magazine, is the easiest to deal with. He doesn’t even have a photographer with him. Eighty percent of the interview is about Dean’s movies, what he’s scheduled to work on next, and some of the backstage gossip Dean is willing to spill from the Oscars. The guy is funny and nerdy and reminds Dean of a younger Sam. He only briefly asks about the Walker stuff, admitting his editor will kill him if he doesn’t, and is happy enough when Dean admits, yes… he’s bi, no... he doesn’t think it should affect his career, and he wishes Walker well. Although he says the last through gritted teeth.
Wishing that all interviews went as smoothly, he’s happy to pose for selfies with the guy before Charlie ushers him out of the door.
Journalist number two is from some glossy magazine, Cosmo, or some shit. She flirts outrageously with Dean and wastes ten minutes directing her photographer to get the perfect shot of him, despite Dean saying more than once that he’s suffering from jet-lag, wearing a Scooby Doo shirt, and looks like hell. The interview is over before Dean knows it, and he has no idea what she’s going to write about because they seemed to spend most of the time talking about her. Which Dean is more than happy about.
The Times newspaper is where journalist number three hails from. And it all starts swimmingly; a few relaxed photographs, fluffy questions about Sam’s wedding and gushing compliments about his Oscar. After the other two interviews going so smoothly, Dean’s more relaxed than normal so when Charlie’s cell phone rings and she asks if he’s okay if she steps outside to answer the call, he doesn’t think twice before nodding.
The dick of a journalist doesn't waste a second after she leaves the room to blindside Dean with a question about his mother.
This is exactly the kind of thing Sam is usually there to head off. Sam can shut down a journalist with one look. Dean’s a grown man though and perfectly capable of handling uncomfortable questions without his brother or even Charlie’s help. At least, he should be perfectly capable, but when he tries to brush off the question and lead the guy in another direction, the dude drags him right back.
“So, even after your father’s sudden death when you were what... twenty-one, you never heard from her? That must be rough. If you could talk to her now, if she was reading this… what would you say to her? Are you angry? Hurt?”
Dean shifts in his chair, legs twitching with the desire to walk away. “I don’t know, man. She left when I was just a kid, I don’t give her much thought.” That’s not entirely true, but Dean doesn’t talk about her. Not ever. Not to Sam. Not to anyone.
The guy persists, leaning forward in his chair. “And you’ve never considered looking for her? I mean, you’re a big star now, an Oscar winner, you have the money and the means. I’m sure a lot of people in your position would want answers. Would want to know how a mother could abandon her children. You’re not curious?”
“No! No, I’m really not,” Dean says, growing more uncomfortable by the second.
“It must have been difficult though, when you were a kid?”
Difficult! Of course, it was fucking difficult. Being the kid whose mom had better things to do than raise him was hardly a pass to an easy life. “I guess. Look, man, not to be awkward or anything, but—“
The reporter cuts Dean off before he can tell him straight to piss off. “Sure, sure, Dean. So, your brother literally just got married. That’s pretty exciting. Although it must be bittersweet for you. I mean it’s gonna be hard for you to find that.”
“What?” Dean’s thrown for a loop by the sudden change in direction.
“Well, true love and marriage, they aren’t things that are easy to find in Hollywood, especially for a guy like yourself; rich, good looking, successful, gay.”
“I’m not gay.”
“Sorry, sorry… bi, right?” The guy’s smile is so fucking slick it could slide right off his face. “I guess that at least widens the dating pool, huh? But relationships, especially for people with your kind of abandonment issues, they can’t be easy to hold on to. The longest relationship you’ve had was with Gordon Walker, right? And that lasted what… five, six months?”
Dean’s mouth actually drops open. This guy can’t be for real. Dean can’t decide whether he’s trying to provoke Dean into snapping or just looking for a good sound-bite to elevate his piece from Sunday supplement fluff to front page news.
“It must have been quite the kick in the teeth when he left you for the actress he got pregnant? What was her name again?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but there’s a call for you, Mr. Winchester.”
Dean and the journalist both snap their heads to the side to see Cas holding a phone out. Dean’s now charged cell phone. The journalist huffs and leans back in his chair. Dean all but leaps out of his seat to take the call. He walks across the room, away from the journalist’s prying ears and ever ready poison pen. He’s never been so relieved to hear Kevin’s voice in his life. Kevin, for his part, doesn’t seem that excited to speak to Dean. He asks him how things are going and Dean explains about his lost luggage issue, but then the conversation drifts off into silence. “Dude, why did you even call me?” Dean eventually asks.
“I didn’t,” Kevin says. “It’s like 5am, Dean. Your bodyguard called me from your cell, said you needed to talk to me.”
“Oh,” Dean says, glancing across the room. Cas is sitting in Dean’s seat, hands folded in his lap, face stony. The journalist looks supremely uncomfortable, his neck ruddy, and hands tugging anxiously at his tie.
“I’d better get back to this interview then, I guess,” he tells Kevin.
“Sure,” Kevin agrees with a yawn. “Play nice, please. I don’t want to deal with Pamela, she scares me.”
Dean doesn’t mock Kevin for that before he hangs up. An angry Pamela is a terrifying prospect. Keeping the publicist happy is Dean’s main reason for not telling all reporters and pap’s to fuck off. Still, exceptions can be made.
Cas stands up as soon as he sees Dean approaching, squeezing the journalist on the shoulder before walking away with a brief nod at Dean, his expression inscrutable. Dean takes a deep breath and readies himself for another onslaught. Except the reporter seems to have forgotten the direction his interview was going. Dean’s mom is never mentioned again, and his relationship with Gordon is forgotten. He does ask about his new project, a subject Dean is quite happy to ramble about for five minutes and before Dean knows it, Charlie is rushing back in the room and calling an end to the whole thing.
“That was weird,” Dean notes, after Cas has escorted the reporter from the room and the three of them are alone again. “I could have sworn that guy was gonna keep digging until I snapped.”
Cas doesn’t even blink, giving nothing away.
“You say something to him, Cas?” Dean asks outright. “Maybe when I had to take that urgent call from Kevin?”
“If it’s not within my remit to protect you, then it seems unlikely that I would interfere.”
Dean narrows his eyes; he might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he knows that wasn’t a no. Cas tilts his head to the side in response, blue eyes as unreadable as always. Dean’s not quite figured the bodyguard out yet. But he will.
The thing about Dean Winchester, Charlie thinks, is that he doesn’t realize how big of star he actually is. She’s been a PA since she was eighteen years old and has worked with hundreds of actors. Most of them were nice enough, a few were sweethearts, several were freaking demons. One film she worked on was ruined just by one actor’s out of control ego turning the set into a toxic hell pit.
But Dean Winchester, he has no ego. Like literally none. He does his job on set the same as everyone else. Is as likely to be found kicking a ball about with extras as he is in his trailer playing Halo with the electricians. He eats with the crew, and joins them for drinks when he can. He remembers people’s names, whether they’re producers, or the boom guy. And he treats them all equally.
And boy, can he act. Charlie’s seen an entire set reduced to tears by him. Felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck as she watched him pour his heart and soul into his role.
When he won that Oscar last year, a lot of people were surprised. Charlie wasn’t. Well, she’d been surprised that the archaic awards system had worked for once and picked a deserving winner, but she hadn’t been surprised that Dean’s talent had finally been recognized.
When Sam had called her up and offered her this job, over two months working directly for Dean, she’d jumped at the chance. She hadn’t thought for one minute that Dean would remember her, but she should have had more faith in the man. A lot of people in Charlie’s life have let her down, disappointed her. Dean Winchester isn’t one of them. He’s quite possibly the nicest, most decent man she’s ever worked with. And that… that just makes Charlie absolutely determined to be the best PA ever.
“What do you mean... no?”
Charlie looks in the rear-view mirror, her eyes wide and disbelieving when they meet Dean’s.
“I mean no, I’m not flying again. End of discussion.”
Charlie turns around so she’s looking directly at Dean over her shoulder. “Seriously? The plane ride is only an hour and a half tops.”
“No,” Dean says again, adamant. “I don’t like flying. And I don’t like taking the pills that make it bearable; they fuck up my head, and I swear I haven’t pooped since I took them. So… no.”
Charlie screws up her nose. “TMI dude, and seriously, it’s like an eight-hour drive.”
“Eight hours,” Dean scoffs. “That’s nothing. I’ve driven longer than that to find a decent slice of pie.”
“I will share the driving,” Cas chimes in. “If it helps.”
“Me too,” Dean adds, although he doesn’t particularly want to drive this bland piece of crap.
“No,” Charlie and Cas say in unison.
“Hey,” Dean complains. “I’m an excellent driver.”
“Sure you are,” Charlie says. “But they drive on the left here. And I don’t trust your jet-lagged brain to remember that.”
Charlie has a point.
Four hours up the freeway, motorway, whatever, Dean falls asleep. He doesn’t mean to because it’s going to screw him up his sleep schedule, but the road is boring and his eyes are heavy as he reads over the script again. He doesn’t wake up until they’re in Scotland.
Cas is driving by then so they’ve stopped at some point without Dean waking up.
“Do you always fall asleep in the backseat of a car?” Charlie asks, glancing up from her cell phone.
“It’s not my preferred backseat activity,” Dean smirks and stretches as best he can in the confined space.
“Uhuh,” Charlie rolls her eyes. “Real smooth, but you might want to wipe the drool from your mouth, lover-boy.”
It’s only another twenty minutes before they hit Edinburgh and another twenty of driving in circles around the weird one-way system before Cas pulls to a stop outside the hotel. They’re only staying here for a couple of weeks before they head out on location. If Dean’s being honest, a large part of the reason he agreed to do this movie is because it’s being filmed entirely on location. In Scotland. Sure, Dean knows it’s not going to be a vacation, he’s here to work, but he’s always wanted to see more of the UK than just London. And if he’s going to dedicate nine weeks of his life to shooting a movie, he figures spending it in the highlands of Scotland is better than spending it on a soundstage in LA. Especially right now, when Sam’s absence is beginning to bite.
The hotel staff are attentive in the overly polite way the highest-class hotel staff always are. Dean still feels out of his depth in places like this, even now. His formative years were spent, more often than not, in motel rooms, and somehow, they still feel more like home than hotels with marble floors and crystal chandeliers. Usually Sam deals with all the hotel crap, this time it’s Charlie and it’s only a matter of minutes before they’re being shown to their rooms.
Dean has a suite, with Cas in a room beside him and Charlie just down the hall. Charlie is weirdly excited about it all. She’s a bubbly person, Dean knows that much already, but she’s practically bouncing off the walls as they walk through the corridor.
“Would you like to use our unpacking service, Sir?” The porter asks when he reaches the door to Dean’s suite, apparently oblivious to the fact that Dean's only carrying a backpack. That’s something he really needs to fix.
“No, no, that’s fine. I’m good, thanks.” Dean slips the dude some cash, and says a silent prayer of thanks when the room keycard works first time.
He expects Cas to follow him into the room to check a crazed fan hasn’t scaled the wall of the hotel up to the fifth floor and broken in through the locked window. It’s an unlikely scenario to put it mildly, but Cas is incredibly thorough. What he doesn’t expect is for Charlie to almost bowl him over in her rush to get inside the room too.
Well, it’s really not a room. It’s more like an apartment. A damn nice one too. It’s a little fancy for Dean’s taste, but cozier and more homely than modern hotels usually seem to manage. And there are no flower prints or chintzy fabrics, so that’s a plus.
Dean dumps his bag on a sofa and watches, bemused, as Charlie pinballs around the suite.
“Miss Bradbury,” Cas says, once he’s explored the whole suite. “It’s almost ten o’clock; I think we should perhaps retire to our own rooms?”
“Just one minute.” Charlie’s almost vibrating as she examines a print on the wall.
Dean finally has to ask. “Charlie, what the hell?”
“Harry Potter!” Charlie squeals. “It’s the Harry Potter room!”
Dean blinks in confusion, and looks at Cas who blinks back equally puzzled.
“Oh my god... don’t you know? Holy hippogriff! This is the room J.K. wrote the end of The Deathly Hallows in! She lived here for six months! Look… look… there’s a bust she signed right here. And this is a framed cover of the book with a copy of her signature… and look at this typewriter!”
Bemused, Dean shakes his head. “Charlie, no one’s written on that piece of crap for about a hundred years.”
“Okay, Okay, but still, J. K. Rowling sat right here at this desk and—“
“Chill out, Stalker McStalkerson,” Dean laughs. “How did you even know about this? Did you… did you book this suite deliberately?”
“No,” Charlie lies, badly.
Dean quirks his eyebrow.
“The production company booked the hotel.”
“Uhuh?” Dean’s not convinced.
Charlie can’t hide her smile. “I may have called and changed their booking to make sure you got this suite. You’ve got to admit it’s pretty freaking awesome. I mean, come on… Harry Potter, bitches!”
“Okay, Dumbledork, I’m cutting you off for tonight. I need food and sleep, and you to not be here.”
Charlie’s slips easily back into her professional skin for a second. “You need me to do anything for you?”
“Nah, I'm pretty sure I can order myself up some room service. Can you try chasing up my bag again tomorrow, though?”
“Sure thing,” Charlie says, giving the pile of Harry Potter books sitting on top of the coffee table a friendly pat as she walks to the door. “Look,” she points, when she opens it, her face breaking into a wide smile once again. “An owl door knocker, even you muggles have to admit that’s cool.”
Dean snorts and a gives her shoulder a gentle shove, then watches with a smile tugging at his lips as she practically skips down the hallway to her own room.
“You’re not planning on leaving your room tonight?” Cas asks, from behind him, his mood not quite as light.
“Shit, no,” Dean says, adamantly. “Food and bed. Busy day tomorrow.”
Cas nods, but seems reluctant to leave. “I know you think that you don’t need my services, but please remember, Dean, threats have been made. Your brother didn’t think you needed a full team of security, or at least he didn’t think you would accept it, but the current arrangement will only work with your cooperation. I need you not to go anywhere without telling me. It’s difficult enough to protect you 24/7 on my own; I can’t do that if I don’t know your whereabouts.”
Dean feels like he’s being scolded, for something he hasn’t even done. “I’m a grown man, not a fucking toddler, Cas. And I’m not an idiot.”
“I didn’t say you were an idiot, Dean. But, I don’t think you and Miss Bradbury appreciate the seriousness of the situation.”
Dean huffs. “Oh god, Cas, lighten up.”
Dean rolls his eyes and all but manhandles Cas out the door. “I get it, okay. I’ll be a good boy. Look, it’s late. I’ll see you in the morning.”
This time Cas does leave, albeit with a scowl on his face.
Dean hates feeling coddled. Security isn’t normally an issue, not with Sasquatch Sam by his side. Dean’s not George Clooney for God’s sake. He’s made a few movies, lucked out and won a couple of awards, but honestly, he doesn’t get bothered that much. And Jesus, he can handle himself. He grew up with John Winchester dragging him around the country, from one dingy town to the next... he knows how to throw a punch, and how to take one.
Dean orders room service: a salad that the menu tries to make sound delicious but is still just a salad, followed by an equally dull selection of fresh fruit. What he really wants is a burger with a mountain of fries followed by a generous slice of apple pie. Sometimes, when his stomach rumbles forlornly, he thinks he should consider a career change. He texts Sam while he waits for his food to arrive, sends him photos of some of the Harry Potter shit in the apartment, knowing his dorky brother will get a huge kick out of it. Once his food arrives, Dean eats it, unenthusiastically, and reads through his script again.
It’s well after midnight by the time he’s done, and though he has to be up early tomorrow, he’s just not tired. Jet-lag, he guesses. That nap in the car did his body-clock no favors. He prowls around the room for a while, watches some trashy late-night television, reads some of the glossy tourist brochures in the room before admitting defeat and opening a Harry Potter book.
Nearly two am and Dean is still awake. Wide awake. Harry Potter isn’t awful, it’s actually kind of fun, not that he would ever admit it out loud. But it’s sure not sending him to sleep which was what he was hoping for. So, Dean decides, he’ll try something else the hotel has to offer. One of those glossy information booklets mentioned that the hotel has a whisky bar. Now that, Dean figures, sounds like the ideal thing to help him nod off. A quick nightcap and then he’ll grab a few hours’ sleep.
The whisky bar, when Dean eventually finds it on a lower floor of the hotel, is dimly lit and has only a few customers sitting at a table in the corner. At this time of night, it’s only open to hotel patrons, so Dean is confident he can enjoy his drink in peace.
The guy behind the bar looks, in Dean’s mind, exactly like a typical Scotsman, from his broad chest and rugged beard down to his heavy woolen kilt. “What can I get you, Sir?”
“You’re not Scottish,” Dean blurts out in surprise, before he can stop himself. He’s gonna blame his rudeness on the jet-lag.
The bartender chuckles, thankfully not offended. “Well, aren’t you observant, Sir. They do allow some of us foreigners to work here. Especially on the graveyard shifts. My name’s Benny and I was born and raised in Louisiana, but I can tell you everything about these fine whiskies you could ever want to know. We have nearly five hundred different whiskies to choose from in this fine establishment, as well as a cocktail menu, but somehow, I don’t see you as a cocktail kind of guy.”
“Five hundred? Holy shit. What do you recommend?” Dean asks, eyes wide, both at the insane amount of whisky to choose from and at the lopsided smile of this big bear of a man.
“Why don’t you tell me what you like, Sir, and we’ll figure if we’re going to Speyside, or Islay, or maybe even the Highlands.”
“Sure,” Dean grins, making himself comfortable on a bar stool. “And the name’s Dean.”
“Okay then, Dean, tell me, what you’re looking for. A whisky that’s a little sweet?Something more citrussy? Or do you like peaty whiskies, maybe a rich smooth malt?”
If Dean could get a malt as smooth as Benny’s voice he’d die a happy man.
He ends up with a sixteen-year-old Lagavulin which is the best whisky he’s ever tasted until twenty minutes later when Benny hands him a twenty-four-year-old malt that he says is from the Bruichladdich Black Art series, and Dean falls in love.
“Jesus,” he moans after his first sip.
Benny smirks. “That one hit the right notes, then? It’s a favorite of mine too; a little earthy, but with sweet, fruity, undertones and a long creamy finish that slides like velvet down your throat.”
Dean thinks he might have an erection. And then he almost has a coronary.
The deep growl in his ear makes him jump and nearly sends him toppling from his barstool.
“Jesus, shit, Cas, don’t sneak up on guy like that, you almost gave me a freakin’ heart attack.”
“You said you wouldn’t leave your room.”
Cas’s shoulders are rigid under his shirt, his face stony. He’s obviously pissed. But Dean’s just trying to relax and, as far as he’s concerned, he’s not doing anything wrong. He shrugs at the bodyguard and takes another sip of whisky before replying. “I couldn’t sleep so I came looking for a nightcap. Jesus, it’s not like I left the hotel or anything.”
“I told you not to go anywhere without me. I stressed that, Dean.”
“Hey, brother,” Benny interrupts. “Maybe you should calm down a little, huh? Dean is just having a quiet drink.”
Cas pins the bartender with a killing glare. “I’m not your brother, and perhaps you should mind your own business.”
Dean sighs. “Cas, come on, it’s one drink.”
But Cas won’t be cajoled. “I know that is your second, but how much you drink isn’t my concern. Your sobriety isn’t my responsibility, your safety is. How can I protect you if I don’t know where you are?”
“I’m a grown ass man, I don’t need you to protect me,” Dean hisses, embarrassment fueling his temper.
“You heard the man.” Benny says, his voice losing its warmth. “I think you should leave, Sir.”
“I’m sure you do,” Cas says, equally icy. “This, however is not your concern. Dean?”
“God almighty,” Dean barks. “Ten minutes. Give me ten fucking minutes to finish my drink and I’ll go straight back to bed, okay, dad?”
Cas’s eye twitches but he spins around and stalks out of the room without another word.
Dean apologizes to Benny before taking another, much needed sip of whisky.
Benny shrugs it off. “Over protective boyfriend, huh? You should be careful, cher. I know it’s all kinds of hot at first, but that kind of possessiveness can turn crazy real quick.”
Dean splutters, choking on his drink. “Jesus, no,” he says dabbing his mouth with a napkin. “He’s not my boyfriend.”
Benny looks unconvinced.
“He’s not! He’s my bodyguard.”
“Bodyguard?” Benny repeats doubtfully. “Whatever you say, sugar.”
“He is,” Dean insists.
“Well,” Benny says. “Not for nothing, Dean, but the last time a guy looked at me the way he looked at you, let’s just say… that was a damn fine night.”
Dean shakes his head, and takes another sip. “Trust me, right now Cas either wants to lock me in my room or kill me, he sure as hell doesn’t want to fuck me.”
“Well, I think you’re wrong, and I gotta say,” Benny leans over the bar and lowers his voice until it’s smoother than the silkiest whisky. “If he doesn’t want to fuck you then he’s either crazy or blind.”
Dean’s dick twitches hopefully in his pants. It’s been far too long since he got laid, and Benny’s hot as hell on a summer's’ day. But, he has to work in a few hours. And he promised Cas he’d only be ten minutes.
“Benny,” Dean says, or rather croaks. He coughs before trying again. “Benny, if I didn’t have to get up for work in like four hours I’d like to hear more about that. But I need something to help me sleep not keep me up all night.”
Benny laughs and leans back. “Well, I think that malt should do the trick; you go ahead and take it up to your room if you want, maybe have a little alone time with it. But, sugar, if you find yourself in need of something a bit… spicier later, you know where to find me.”
Dean does as Benny suggests and takes his drink up to his room, not bothering to hide the glass from Cas, who is, Dean isn’t even a little surprised to find, standing outside the door to the whisky bar waiting for him.
They don’t exchange a single word as they ride, shoulder to shoulder, up in the elevator. Cas doesn’t open his mouth until they reach Dean’s door. “I will only say this once more, Dean, threats have been made against you. Multiple threats. This is not something to be taken lightly. You must allow me to do my job.”
“I just wanted a damn drink.” Dean lifts his glass for Cas to see.
Cas glares. “There is a bar in your room.”
“And some company,” Dean adds, defiantly. “I can’t just sit on my own all the time.”
“Well, if its company you want...” Cas smiles, cold, like ice on broken glass. “Perhaps Benny’s southern charm comes complimentary with room service. Would you like me to enquire for you?”
“Fuck you.” Dean’s cheeks are flushed red when he slams his door in Cas’s face.
Charlie is unbearably cheerful when she arrives to collect Dean from his room the next morning. It’s seven thirty and he’s had maybe three hours sleep. Thank God, Charlie does at least come bearing coffee, which she places in Dean’s outstretched hand before she even steps across the threshold. Cas follows behind her; his expression less cheerful. Dean tries not to read anything into the fact he can already tell Cas’s pissed blank expression from his normal blank expression.
“Have you had breakfast?” Charlie asks, looking around, possibly for signs of a room service tray or perhaps just at all the Harry Potter crap again. “Do you need me to organize something for you?”
Dean shakes his head, pointing meaningfully at the coffee cup and taking a long blissful drink.
“Okay then. No breakfast. So, you ready to go?”
“Well,” Dean says. “I’m wearing these pants for the third day in the row, my underwear probably needs to be burned, and this shirt smells of whisky. But other than looking and smelling like a drunk hobo, yeah, I’m great.”
“Still no bags, damn… on it.” Charlie’s thumbs fly as she makes a note on her cell phone. “And in the meantime, clothes shopping?” She adds, looking up at him. Dean doesn’t have time to go shopping, not himself. After the Scooby Doo tee shirt, he’s not sure he trusts Charlie to go for him, but at this point it doesn’t look like he has another option. Charlie laughs when he says as much which Dean doesn’t find reassuring. That still leaves the problem of what he’s going to wear right now though.
“Cas, you’re around Dean’s size. You have some clothes he can borrow?”
Cas squints at Charlie as though she’s talking a foreign language. “I’m sorry?”
“Dean has no clothes. So, either you let him borrow yours or he walks around butt naked. Now, y’know, Dean’s not really my type, but I could still appreciate that view.”
There’s a silent standoff until Cas finally realizes that Charlie’s deadly serious. “I’ll see if I can find something suitable,” he says, reluctantly.
Twenty minutes later, when he steps out of his bathroom, Dean’s wearing black pants that are just a tiny bit too tight—it’s probably just as well he didn’t have breakfast—and a white shirt that, much to his disgruntlement, is a little loose around his chest. He really does need to work out more, but goddamn he hates the gym. He neatly folds the shirt sleeves up and leaves the top couple of buttons undone. There’s not much he can do about his boots, but at least they’re black. He tries not to think about the fact he’s wearing Cas’s underwear. Soft white briefs that hug his balls perfectly. He tries not to think about it… he doesn’t succeed. It has been far too long since he got laid.
Cas doesn’t say a word as he looks Dean over, but his gaze lingers just a second longer than necessary. And when Dean turns around and bends down to fix the hem of the pants which are half tucked into his boots, he can feel Cas’s eyes on his ass. Maybe Benny had a point after all. He can’t resist testing the theory by riling Cas up a little.
“See something you like there, Cas? Not gonna go all Kevin Costner on me are you now?”
Cas scowls. “I do not understand that reference, Dean. And actually, I was just mourning the fact that I probably won’t be getting those pants back in one piece. Your ass seems to be rather fatter than mine.”
Then again, maybe Benny didn’t have a point.
“Cas,” Charlie laughs and slaps him on the arm. “Dean has a perfect ass. You just ask Tumblr. Come on, boys, let’s go.”
The day is taken up with a table read. It’s happening here in the hotel, which is handy for most people involved, although Dean wouldn’t have minded venturing out and seeing a little of the city.
Dean follows Charlie through the hotel until they reach The Beauly suite, the room reserved for the read-through, Cas trailing them the whole way. Stopping at the door, Charlie tells Dean she’ll see him in a few hours and to text or call her if he needs anything. Cas makes to follow him inside. Despite the hulk-sized security guy positioned outside the door.
Dean stops and turns, finding himself almost nose to nose with Cas. “There’s security here, Cas. Do you really think it’s necessary to follow me inside? Seriously? Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?”
“Yes,” Cas growls, standing his ground. “I do have better things to do, Dean, however, as you’re paying for my protection, I do think it’s necessary.”
Dean can’t help but notice from this distance how intensely blue Cas’s eyes are. He knows actors who would kill for eyes half as bright. They would look stunning on camera. They look stunning in real life.
The awkward silence drags out between them until with a mulish expression on his face, Cas manages to tilt his head and look down at Dean; an achievement considering Dean is at least an inch taller than him. Silently admitting defeat, Dean scowls and turns back around. It’s time to do what he’s paid to do, with or without Cas hovering over his shoulder.
“Dean! Good to see you, darling.” Dean stumbles backwards, nearly knocked off his feet by the enthusiasm of Fergus Crowley, director and producer of this project. “And you’ve brought some eye candy, I see. Very good of you.”
Dean forces a smile and accepts his kisses with well-practiced patience. “Hi, Crowley, good to see you again. That’s Cas. He’s going to be hanging around. Sorry, but I guess Sam doesn’t trust me to behave without him.”
“Oh, don’t apologize, darling. I don’t mind having one more pretty thing to look at.”
Dean cringes, wanting to call Crowley out and apologize to Cas for the remark, but Crowley is already moving on, making introductions and showing Dean to a seat. There are tables set out in a U-shape in the center of the room, scripts at every seat, along with glasses and water jugs.
Doing a table read is like first day at High School. Most people don’t really know each other and no one wants to make an ass of themselves. Dean’s had more first days than most. Literally and figuratively. By now, he’s pretty confident in his ability to read people. If this was high school, Bela Talbot would be the high maintenance cheerleader, Balthazar Adamson would be the arty dude with a good source of pot, Arthur Ketch the jock that wants everyone to love him, Zac Adler would be the suck-up hall monitor and Rowena MacLeod would be the chick everyone fancied and feared in equal measure. This of course makes Crowley the headmaster... one of those who thinks he’s funny and cool and only ever seems to be holding onto control by the tips of his fingers. Dean knows Crowley though, and half of what he says and does is a well-rehearsed act. Under the surface he’s pure focus and ruthless ambition.
Crowley wants this film to push him on to greater things, that’s why he was prepared to pay Dean’s fee to inflate its box office appeal. Even then, Dean’s taking the role on for a vastly reduced paycheck, plus a percentage of the profits. And if Sam wasn't such a hotshot with an eye for detail and small print, Dean would be working for a lot less of the profits.
Dean didn’t take on this role for Crowley’s sake though. He did it because he loved the script and the location. He’s spoken to Chuck, who wrote the screenplay, on the phone a couple of times and the guy is a real oddball, but he seems genuine and sweet and holy shit, can he write. He just hopes Crowley doesn’t fuck up Chuck’s vision.
The table read goes well. As well as can be expected anyway. There was a table read a few months back with the producers and Chuck in attendance, but Dean had been in Croatia filming, so this is really the first time all the cast have sat down together. Dean gets a feel for how everyone is playing their characters, and gets even more of a feel for his own. The dude, Dean Smith (yes, the role was written with Dean in mind, Chuck admitted) is a straight-laced, pencil pushing, office drone who has a meltdown, runs off to Scotland for a vacation and meets a weird and wonderful group of characters who teach him there’s more to life than deadlines and profits. It’s not the most original plot in the world, but Chuck’s imagination ratchets the plot twists and characters up to a whole new level.
Dean ignores the new script in front of him and uses the one he’s had for the past few weeks. He’s already scribbled notes across it and as they work he adds more. Most of the others do the same, some with more enthusiasm than others. The tech guys—the lighting and sound directors and the set and props master, none of whom Crowley introduced by name—are religiously taking notes. Bela… not so much.
The longer the read goes on for, the more Dean relaxes. His bad mood and tiredness fading as he pours his energy into doing what he loves. Watching characters and a story come alive in front of his eyes, feeling his own character step out of the shadows and turn into solid, living, breathing, man.
Around midday, lunch arrives. Delicious looking plates of food, that everyone tucks into with gusto apart from Bela and Dean. Bela makes to light up a cigarette and is quickly informed she has to go outside. Dean refuses the invitation to join her, he hasn’t smoked for a couple of years now, it really wasn’t worth the earache from Sam. Plus, he has a feeling he doesn’t want to spend too much time alone with Bela. Instead he decides maybe he should put on his big boy pants, and build a bridge or two.
”You want to grab some food, Cas?”
Dean’s mature enough to admit that he’s been a bit of an ass to Cas. The poor guy’s only trying to do his job after all. He figures food’s as good an apology as any. And, as engrossed as he’d been in the read through, Dean hadn’t forgotten about the bodyguard who’d spent most of the time sitting on a chair by the door with a carefully neutral expression on his face, despite how boring the whole thing must seem to him. Occasionally, Cas had gotten up to stretch his legs, walking the length of the room and looking out the window at the stunning view of the castle before going back to his chair. Dean had tried to hide the way his eyes were drawn to the equally stunning view of Cas’s ass and thick thighs in the form fitting pants he was wearing.
“No, that’s fine, thank you, Dean,” Cas says, but his words don’t sound convincing to Dean’s ears.
“Come on, man,” Dean cajoles, flashing his most charming smile. “There’s plenty… more than. You’re not gonna be much use at protecting me if you’ve passed out from hunger.”
“I assure you,” Cas says, stiffly. “That I would never compromise your safety by—“
“Dude, relax, I was joking.” Dean piles a plate high with sandwiches and flaky pastry things and even adds some fruit because, with a body like that, Cas has to be a health-food nut. He holds the plate in front of Cas until Cas finally relents and takes it. “I swear I’m not gonna run out of the room the second you take a bite of cucumber sandwich,” Dean assures him with a wink.
And true to his word, Dean doesn’t even think about leaving the room. He spends the thirty-minute break introducing himself properly to everyone again, making sure he knows all their names, including the crew Crowley didn’t bother to introduce.
After lunch, when Bela finally deigns to return, they work their way through the rest of the script and discuss rehearsals, some of the technical issues and the shooting order. It’s a good day. Productive. And despite his lack of sleep, Dean feels energized once they’re done, already looking forward to starting filming for real.
He can’t hide his excitement. Doesn’t even try. Any petty grudge he had against Cas is well and truly forgotten. Dean talks his ear off on their way back to the room. Thankfully, Cas seems quietly amused, under his carefully neutral expression. Dean easily manages to persuade him that going out for dinner is a valid idea. He needs fresh air, and Cas probably does too. Charlie, of course, finds the perfect restaurant nearby and makes the booking before Dean can even change into the new clothes that she bought for him; jeans that hug his ass and a navy button down that’s clean and fits, which is all that Dean cares about. There’s still no sign of his lost bag. At this point Dean suspects his stuff is probably for sale on eBay already.
Although Cas grumbles about it, they walk the short distance to the restaurant, Dean with a baseball cap angled low over his face and Cas walking close enough to knock elbows with him. The restaurant, tucked away in a narrow, cobbled side street in the old part of the city, is small with private booths and the servers are polite enough not to ask for autographs or photos until after the three of them have finished eating. Cas sits where he can see the room and never seems entirely relaxed, but he joins in their conversation more freely than he has up until now, and proves to have an incredibly dry sense of humor that has Charlie snorting sauce out of her nose at one point.
The meal is delicious. Dean has fresh Scottish salmon with vegetables, but sadly no fries because of his damned diet. And afterwards, while Cas and Charlie have some creamy raspberry concoction for dessert, he has a shot of whisky which he sips slowly, savoring the pleasant burn as it slides down his throat. It’s a perfect end to the meal. Well, as perfect an end as it’s possible to have without pie.
It’s not until they’re almost back to the hotel that Dean’s good mood goes up in smoke.
The thing about Dean Winchester, Crowley smiles to himself, is that he’s worth his weight in gold. Possibly literally. Crowley doesn’t regret a single penny of his fee, or his share of the profits (although Crowley would have preferred if he didn’t have such a clever moose of a younger brother to scrutinize his contracts). Because the thing is, Dean is a bloody brilliant actor. He pours everything into his roles, no matter how small, how one dimensional they are. He can bring a character to life in a way that jumps off the screen and straight into your heart. Winchester has the cinema-going public eating out the palm of his hand. He’s a producer’s wet dream.
What’s more, he’s personable. People like him. The ones who aren’t jealous at least. Everyone Crowley knows who’s worked with Dean sings his praises. Directors and cameramen, even PA’s who hate everyone, love Dean Winchester. And Crowley doesn’t care if some of his co-stars are green-eyed at Dean’s success, because another thing about Dean is that he inspires those around him. At the table read, some of the actors were doing little more than reading the lines. But twenty minutes in and Dean’s enthusiasm, the passion and commitment he exuded, woke everyone the hell up. Dean forces everyone to be better. And the guy doesn’t even know it.
Plus, the publicity he brings to the project, especially now, post Oscar and post Gordon Walker, well, that’s absolutely priceless.
Pamela hadn’t been angry when she’d called. Well, she had. She’d been blazing mad, but not at Dean for a change.
The Times Newspaper and their asshole reporter were the ones caught in her crosshairs this time. The newspaper had been kind enough to email her a copy of the article they were publishing.
Dean has the dubious pleasure of seeing the hatchet job for himself in print at seven o’clock the next morning, and though she warned him what to expect, seeing it in print is a whole other thing. “Son of a bitch.”
“I’m sorry, Dean.”
Dean looks up from the newspaper, spread across the coffee table, to Cas who’s standing beside the door, arms crossed and mouth downturned. He and Charlie turned up at Dean’s door bearing coffee and the newspaper ten minutes ago. Even this early in the morning Cas is wearing his suit and tie, looking fully professional which makes Dean feel like a complete slob in his track pants and tee-shirt, his hair uncombed and face still crumpled from sleep. Or lack of sleep. He didn’t have a great night.
“It’s hardly your fault, Cas.”
Cas hums in quiet disagreement. “I warned the journalist off. Quite sternly.”
Well, yeah, Dean thought as much. “If you hadn’t, Cas, chances are I would have punched him or walked out so… still not your fault. And thanks.”
The newspaper couldn’t even wait until the weekend to post the article. It’s too juicy for that apparently. The fluff article that Dean and Pamela had expected has been replaced by a far more scandalous affair. Dean’s childhood, his mom leaving when he was four, his dad dragging them around from one state to the next before he ended up dead, it’s all in the fucking story. Along with plenty of mention of Dean’s abandonment and self-worth issues. The newspaper has collected sound bites from half a dozen people he barely knows, plus a couple of women whom he dated very briefly, and of course Gordon Walker.
Truth be told, most of the crap is already public knowledge to some extent, but the depth of the digging they’ve done and the way they’ve picked apart his childhood is mind-boggling. Some asshole has even managed to dig up pictures from the dodgy photo shoot Dean did when he was barely eighteen years old, naive and desperate, and well before he started modeling for real. These photos have never seen the light of day, as far as Dean knows, before now. Even his most rabid fans have never tracked them down.
And they’re seedy as hell. No question about it; Dean looks like a hooker. A desperate-for-his-next-buck-and-a-hot-meal twink of a hooker. In a couple of the photos he’s wearing a white wife beater and ripped jeans. In a few more, just the jeans and a cowboy hat. In the rest, he’s wearing just a strategically placed cowboy hat. Dean knows for a fact that there are more photos where the cowboy hat wasn’t in the picture. Yet another set that he can’t think about without having nightmares. Thank God, the newspaper didn’t get hold of them. Dean feels sick at the thought.
Sammy is pissed.
He calls Dean from the Maldives to tell him so.
“When did you even do those photos, Dean?”
“When I was eighteen, and trying to figure out whether to pay the rent or feed you, Sammy,” Dean snaps at him, regretting it almost immediately when Sam sucks in a sharp breath.
“Look,” Dean says, keeping his voice level and light and altogether calmer. “It was just a few pictures, a couple of hours work, honestly, it wasn’t a big deal at the time.”
“Okay. Okay,” Sam says, although it sounds more like he’s talking to himself now. “You were just a kid. And really, they’re not that bad. Even with the cowboy hat. It’s not like it’s a sex tape or anything. There’s not a sex tape, right?” Sam’s voice hits a note it hasn’t since puberty did its worst.
“No, there’s no sex tape,” Dean barks. God, he wants to crawl into a deep hole right now.
Across the room, Cas and Charlie give up trying to look like they’re not listening in.
“There’s not much we can do about it now, anyway,” Sam admits. “And it’s not as though the story paints you in a bad light really, or goes so far as to be libelous. The shit about mom is way out of order though. Jesus, I wish I’d have been there; I would have shut the asshole down straight away. Fucking hack. Anyway, I think Gordon comes out of the whole thing looking like an even bigger dick, which is something. I guess, like Pamela says, we just ride this one out.”
“Well, thanks a lot, bitch.” Dean rolls his eyes. “That’s real helpful advice. Worth disturbing your honeymoon for. I mean, I couldn’t have come up with that gem of wisdom all on my own.”
“You’re welcome, jerk,” Sam retorts easily, ignoring the sarcasm dripping from Dean’s tone. “You better be prepared for more paparazzi for a while though. Maybe we need to think about upping your security.”
“God, no,” Dean says, quick to head off that awful idea. “Cas has got me covered. Right, Cas?”
Cas silently tilts his head which is hardly helpful.
“He said yes,” Dean lies.
“He did not,” Sam disputes, perfectly able to recognize when Dean’s lying even when he’s in a different continent.
“Shit,” Dean says. “Look at the time. I gotta run. Busy day… wardrobe checks, make-up, you know the drill, Sam. Go have a cocktail and say hello to your beautiful wife from me. Tell her it’s not too late if she wants to change her mind and run off with the good-looking brother.”
“She’s perfectly happy with the tall and incredibly smart brother, but I’ll be sure to pass on your message,” Sam says, and Dean can hear the smirk in his voice. He’s smiling when he ends the call.
“You don’t have to be anywhere for at least another two hours,” Charlie points out, without looking up from her own cell phone.
“Perhaps more security would be a good idea,” Cas says at the same time.
Dean ignores Charlie because she knows Dean knows there is no meeting and she's just being an annoying pain in the ass.
“I don’t need strangers hanging around right now, Cas.” Dean makes his best pleading eyes, because he knows if Cas were to officially request more security, Sam would be on it in a flash. “I promise I’ll be a good boy, okay? No wandering off on my own without telling you.”
“No wandering off on your own. Period.” Cas says, a smug smile twitching below the usual passive expression.
“Whatever,” Dean says, knowing he’s beat, and not having the heart to argue.
He looks back down at the newspaper, and sighs. His mood, buoyed from talking to Sam, is deflating rapidly. It’s always been public knowledge that Dean didn’t have the most normal childhood. When he first started modeling, he made his reputation on his bad boy pout and blue-collar, hard-luck, background. But this, having his life picked apart, his inner demons set free for the whole world to see, it makes Dean’s skin crawl. How the hell is he going to face anyone ever again. His friends. His colleagues. The goddamn mailman. They’re all going to know what a worthless loser he is.
He reads a quote from Walker aloud: “Dean and I never would have worked out. I mean, he’s pretty and he’s a good lay, but deep down he’s just a pit of self-loathing and daddy issues. And the relationship he has with his brother... totally co-dependent. They live in each other’s pockets.”
Not anymore they don’t, Dean muses.
“He should know about daddy issues,” Charlie scoffs. “His fiancée is like nineteen.”
“Jesus, I look like a fucking hooker,” Dean groans, staring at the picture of twink-him in his underwear again.
“You know, no one is judging you,” Cas says, as Dean scowls down at the paper. “We all did reckless things in our youth.”
“Yeah?” Dean says, doubtful. “Even you, Cas?”
Well, now Dean’s interest is peaked. “You gonna share?”
Cas shifts awkwardly.
Charlie looks at him eagerly. “Come on, Cas, don’t tease.”
“I...” Cas pauses, perhaps for dramatic flair. “I was once thrown out of a house of disrepute.”
Whatever Dean was expecting, it wasn’t that. “You what?”
“I think we need some context to this story, Cas,” Charlie adds.
Cas gazes up at the high ceiling as though looking for revelation. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t come, and with Charlie and Dean staring at him intently he eventually expands on his tale. “My older brother, Gabe, decided that I needed to lose my virginity before I left home to join the marines. I was only eighteen and had not come out to him or my rather religious family. He took me to an establishment that ladies of disrepute frequented and... let’s just say, it didn’t end well. The bouncers were not happy with me.”
“What the hell did you do, Cas?”
“Nothing,” Cas deadpans. “My lack of interest in sex with a woman rather impeded my ability to perform. We merely talked.”
Dean nods. “Uhuh, sure you did. They threw you out for talking?”
“Ah, well, I was interested in psychology at the time and may have mentioned to one of the young ladies that a high percentage of sex workers had absentee fathers.”
“Cas,” Dean groans.
“I tried to assure her that her father running off was not her fault, but well, she slapped me and ran from the room in tears.”
Dean laughs. “I hope your dirty talk has improved since then.”
“I haven’t had any complaints lately,” Cas smirks at him.
Dean snorts and looks away, trying not to blush. The fact that Cas has confirmed that he is gay, is not lost on Dean.
“Charlie?” Cas says. “What’s your embarrassing tale from your awkward teen years?”
“Me?” Charlie squeaks, a tell-tale flush spreading across her face.
“Yes, you,” Cas nods.
Charlie laughs nervously, and then says in one long rush of breath, “Okay, so, I kind of hacked into a game company’s server and rewrote one of their games, then released it online, for free.”
Dean gapes at her. Cas does much the same.
“Holy shit,” Dean says.
“Indeed,” Cas agrees.
“Did you get caught?”
Charlie shakes her head. “Well, I’m not locked up, so it looks like no.”
“Why aren’t you working for Google or some shit?” Dean asks, amazed.
“Because I like doing this,” Charlie shrugs.
“Well,” Cas clears his throat with a nervous cough. “I think this proves that Charlie is the most badass and rebellious of us all.”
“Definitely,” Dean agrees. “I know who I’m going to the next time I get a computer virus surfing porn.” He laughs when Cas and Charlie both groan. And thinks, out of the blue, that he’s pretty damn lucky to have these two goofs on his side right now.
Dean looks back down at the article spread out across two full pages of the paper. As well as twink photos of him, there’s a photo of him and Sam as little kids, a recent one of him, Sam and Jess, and a small photo of Gordon Walker with his very obviously pregnant fiancée.
Walker’s a dick, and Dean doesn’t miss him, not now after all he’s done, but Dean can’t stop the pang of longing he feels. The loneliness that echoes in his chest. He doubts he’s ever going to have that; a partner who loves him enough to put up with all his crap. A family of his own. He’s too scarred. Carries too much baggage.
“Are you okay, Dean?” Cas asks. Dean didn’t even notice the bodyguard approaching him, scowling at the newspaper over his shoulder.
“He looks happy,” Dean says. “With her.”
“Perhaps,” Cas doesn’t sound so sure. “Photographs can be deceiving. Do you miss him?”
“No, I guess not.”
“You shouldn’t,” Cas says, solemn. “He hurt you. Purposefully. More than once. You are worth ten of him.”
“Yeah, but he’s the one who’s moved on. He’s the one who’s happy now. And I’m… I’m…”
“Successful,” Cas fills in, when Dean can’t come up with a single thing. “Something of which Walker is jealous otherwise he would not have talked to the papers.”
“Yeah,” Dean says. “I guess you’re right, but success isn’t everything, is it?” Awards and box office hits have done nothing to stop the growing sense of loneliness that’s Dean’s been drowning in for the past few months. Gordon dumping him, Sam and Jess marrying. The family they’re going to have together. It’s all just adding to the feeling that Dean’s life is meaningless. Superficial.
Dean looks up when Cas’s hand clasps his shoulder, pressing down gently. “Success isn’t all you have, Dean. It’s what Walker is jealous of. He should be jealous because you are truly loved by all who know you. That says far more about you.”
Dean has to look away from the kindness in Cas’s eyes. He’s not sure that’s true. His money and fame… that’s what people love. He looks at the newspaper again, stares at the picture of him and Sam together as boys. Sees their ill-fitting clothes and skinny frames. Deep down, Dean’s still that little kid whose mom didn’t want him and whose Dad didn’t love him enough to give him a proper home. He’s still the kid that got laughed at in school and had to steal food to feed his brother when his daddy disappeared for days at a time.
Maybe now, everyone else will see that too.
“The photos are hitting social media now,” Charlie breaks the bad news. “You’re trending.”
“Great,” Dean says, rubbing his hand across his face. He suspects it’s gonna be a long ass day.
The rehearsal space that Crowley’s hired is in what was once a church, and is now a converted studio. The building is beautiful, hundreds of years old with its history carved into its ancient stone walls. The ceilings are breathtakingly high and the windows colorful stained glass. Dean barely notices any of it. He’s truly exhausted, too many night’s without a decent sleep are rapidly catching up on him. His life has never run on a nine to five schedule, so he’s used to dealing with a lack of sleep, but that isn’t his only problem. The tiredness he’s feeling today runs deeper.
Yesterday, after the newspaper article was published, as well as receiving phone call after phone call from Pamela, Sam, and various “friends”, Dean had meetings with the film’s wardrobe department, last minute fittings and then make-up tests. The people he’d worked with had been great, professional and friendly, but still, Dean had been on edge all day. Skin crawling with the thought that these people had been reading about Dean’s life, his issues, over their breakfast. That they were judging him. He shouldn’t care. But he did.
Thank God, he’d had Charlie and Cas with him all day; keeping him grounded. Yanking him out of a funk when they saw him slipping.
He hasn’t actually talked to Crowley or anyone else on the cast since the newspaper hit the sidewalk. Or, more importantly, since the gossip hit the internet. Paparazzi had been hanging around the hotel last night and even more of them had been buzzing around this morning, like vultures, just waiting to pick over the bones of his career.
And, oh yeah, the nude photos Dean was so grateful the paper didn’t publish, some asshole managed to find one and it’s proving a huge hit online. The faint hope Dean had that the story would pass by without any fuss has well and truly disappeared.
Every time he closed his eyes last night, all Dean could see was the sleazy photographer, offering his younger twink self more money if he took off his shirt. More money if he took off his pants. ‘Come on, Deano, one more shoot and you’ll have enough money to buy that kid brother of yours new school shoes’. It just got worse and worse, and harder to say no. He was young and desperate and so fucking stupid.
Dean didn’t feel clean for weeks, months, afterwards. He never told anyone about the whole shameful thing… not Sam, not his Dad. And now, the whole fucking world knows… can see it for themselves in glorious fucking Technicolor.
And what’s worse is the knowledge there’s even more damning photos out there. Somewhere. If they surface, Dean doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to look Sam in the eye again. And his career…
“Dean? Are you okay? You need anything?” Charlie taps his elbow as they walk from the church hallway into the main studio space.
“I’m good.” Dean smiles down at her as confidently as he can. She and Cas have been absolute rocks the last twenty-four hours. Dean’s going to have to tell Sam to give them each a healthy bonus; there’s no way they’re getting paid enough to deal with all Dean’s shit. “Hey, you want to head on back to the hotel, catch up on some sleep or something?”
Charlie squints at him as though he’s sprouted another head. “No! You might need me.”
Dean would argue, but just then he spots Crowley at the other side of the room and his fake confidence stutters. His footstep must stutter too, because instantly Cas’s voice is a low-pitched whisper behind him. “We will both be here if you need anything.”
“Dean!” Crowley shouts, his voice echoing under the eaves. “Good to see you, lad.”
“With his clothes on,” Zac adds with a snort. It’s a quiet aside but one that’s deliberately loud enough for everyone to catch.
Dean stiffens, his knees almost locking.
“More's the pity,” Crowley says, clapping Dean on the back. “Ignore Zac, he’s a jealous old bitch.”
“Crowley,” Dean wipes his hands across his thighs. “I’m sorry about all this. If you want to replace me, I’ll understand. I’ll make sure Sammy doesn’t—“
“What the hell are you talking about?” Crowley laughs. “You’re my star. Why would I want to replace you after all the time, effort and money I spent on getting you here?”
“But the article,” Dean starts.
“That’s piece of trash journalism? Brilliant publicity. Couldn’t have conjured up anything better myself.”
“Publicity?” Dean parrots back.
“Of course,” Crowley says, steering Dean by the arm across the room. “It’s great for the film. I couldn’t pay for that kind of exposure.”
Crowley seems genuine. His smile couldn’t be broader.
“Now, shall we get to work?” Crowley claps his hands to capture everyone’s attention, and that’s obviously the end of the matter as far as he’s concerned.
Dean looks back over his shoulder at Cas and Charlie. Charlie gives him up a thumbs-up, and Cas almost smiles. Taking the encouragement, Dean takes a deep breath, slaps on his game face and gets down to work.
Rehearsals go okay. For day one. It’s a little stiff in places, not everyone knows their words yet, so there’s still a lot of script reading which means it’s not flowing the way Dean prefers. Crowley’s mood swings between delight and scathing contempt. Much like any other director.
They have a couple of weeks of rehearsals before they head out on location. It’s not the normal way of shooting a movie. In fact, Dean’s never worked liked this before. But that’s part of the reason he took on the job, so he’s not complaining. Unlike Zac who complains often and loudly. And Bela. Dean can’t even figure out why she took the job. She apparently doesn’t think much of the script, hates shooting on location, despises Scotland, and wants to stab Crowley in the neck. She, at least, is too wrapped up in her own pissy attitude to give a shit about Dean’s drama.
Zac, on the other hand, has made several pointed barbs, disguised as jokes. Ketch laughs at every one of them.
Eight o’clock at night and they’ve been working for almost twelve hours. Everyone is tired. Crowley’s current mood is hovering somewhere between exasperation and disdain. Bela and Ketch left a couple of hours ago, neither of them in the two scenes Crowley still wanted to run through. Now, Balthazar isn’t understanding the approach Crowley wants him to take or at least doesn’t agree. The pair of them are at loggerheads, and Dean would be amused if he didn’t want to go back to the hotel and cram in a few hours’ sleep before having to do all this again tomorrow.
“That makes no sense,” Balthazar yells, waving his script in Crowley’s ruddy face.
“Maybe not to you, you arrogant prick!” Crowley yells back.
Dean looks at his watch.
“They’re like a couple of schoolchildren.”
Dean didn’t notice Rowena sitting down beside him. “I guess they’re both passionate,” Dean says, trying to stay diplomatic.
Rowena snorts. “You could say that, I suppose. Or you could be honest and say Balthazar has an ego the size of the Titanic and Crowley has the patience of a toddler. We’re never going to get out of here tonight at this rate.”
Dean nods because she’s not wrong.
“I don’t know what possessed Crowley to hire him. Every time they work together they spend half their time wanting to kill each other.”
This time Dean looks at her in surprise. “They’ve worked together before?”
“Och aye,” Rowena says. “And it’s like this every time. Although, rumor has it, they spend as much time fucking as they do fighting which might explain it.”
Dean almost chokes on his tongue. “Crowley and Balthazar? Seriously?”
Rowena arches an eyebrow at him. “You think you’re the only one allowed to have a little fun, Dean? Far from it, dear boy. You’re just picking your partners poorly. You Americans really have no idea about discretion, do you?”
“Rowena,” Crowley yells across the room. “Shut the hell up, you gossiping witch, we’re trying to work here.”
Rowena freezes. And then stands up, brushes her skirt down, and marches across the room, red hair flying behind her.
“Fergus Crowley, how dare you talk to me like that!”
And just like that another argument explodes.
Dean leans back in his chair with a sigh, closes his eyes and tips his head back. Perhaps he could just nap here.
Dean groans. Zac.
“It’s going well, don’t you think?”
“Sure,” Dean says, even though the director and two of their cast mates are very nearly coming to blows twenty feet away.
“Although, I’m not sure this little film will win you another Oscar.”
“Well, that’s not why I’m here, so that’s fine by me.” Dean’s too tired for more of Zac’s bulshit.
“Tell me, Dean,” Zac says, placing his hand casually on Dean’s knee. “Do you think you’d have won that Oscar if everyone knew?”
Dean twitches his knee out of Zac’s grasp so fast he almost strains his groin. “Knew what?”
“Knew that you whored your way to the top?”
Dean’s stomach twists. “What?”
“Come on, Dean. Don’t deny it. You think I can’t see it? Even before those photos surfaced, I knew. How else would a pretty piece of white trash make it big. Rags to riches… that only happens in fairy tales… unless you’re willing to go that extra mile. I bet you took full advantage of the casting couch.”
“You’re way off the mark, buddy,” Dean growls, standing up and walking away. He’s not surprised when Zac follows right behind him.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Zac carries on blithely, dogging Dean’s steps. “I don’t much care for pretty boys myself, but I can see how all those producers would have enjoyed seeing you down on your knees. Lips like yours were designed for sucking cock.”
“Fuck off,” Dean says, stepping around a corner.
“And I may not be a raging queer like you, but even I can appreciate—“
“One more word, Mr. Adler—“
The hairs on the back of Dean’s neck stand tall at the warning rumble of Cas’s voice from behind them.
“Just one, and it’ll be the last you say.”
Cas clamps his hand down on the man’s arm.
Instead of backing down, Zac twists out of his grasp and pushes Cas backwards. “You think you can threaten me, boy? I’ll have you thrown out of here so fast—“
“I don’t think so,” Dean says. “If I’m here, Cas is here. No Cas. No me. You can explain that to Crowley.”
Zac sneers down at Dean. “You think you’re irreplaceable, you jumped up little whore?”
Dean jumps as Zac goes crashing backwards into a wall, Cas’s eyes bright with fury.
“Do not,” Cas growls, pressing his arm up against the man’s throat. “Talk to him like that. Do you understand me?”
Zac nods, his eyes bulging and cheeks as red as an overripe tomato.
For what feels like minutes but must only be a handful of seconds, Cas stares Zac down. Dean doesn’t breath until he finally drops his arm and takes a single step backwards.
That, thankfully, is when Crowley chooses to appear. “While it’s nice to see you gentlemen all getting along so well, I’m afraid to say we’re calling it a day. Same place, same time tomorrow, boys.”
“And another thing—“ Rowena’s voice rings loud as Crowley rushes off, trying to make a quick escape. Zac practically holds on to the director’s coattails as he hurriedly follows him towards the exit.
“Thanks, Cas,” Dean says. “You didn’t have to do that.”
Cas shrugs as Rowena storms past them. “You think you can run away from me, Fergus? I’ve known you since drama school, you shrivel-hearted bawbag, I know your mother!”
Balthazar saunters after them, smirking broadly. “See you tomorrow, sexy.” He salutes Dean with two fingers and winks at Cas as he walks by, leaving Dean unsure which one of them he was talking to.
“Come on, Cas, let’s get the hell out of here,” Dean sighs.
They return to the hotel, Cas driving and Dean texting Charlie, who escaped a few hours ago, to warn her they’ll be back soon and begging her to order them food. Cas drives straight to the rear of the hotel, parking in a private car park and ushering Dean in through a back door, skirting the kitchens, and avoiding all the paparazzi who are still camped outside.
Charlie is waiting for them in Dean's suite; trays of burgers and fries arriving just minutes after they do.
“Charlie,” Dean groans. “My diet.”
“Oh, shut up and eat, Winchester,” Charlie says, throwing a French fry at his head. It’s amazing how living in someone’s pocket can turn a professional relationship into a sibling one quite so rapidly. Dean grins and does as he’s told, trying not to watch Cas devour his own burger with an enthusiasm that is almost obscene. The satisfied smile that spreads across his face when he’s done eating may be the cutest thing Dean’s ever seen. And the burger wasn’t even that great. There’s this little burger joint in Austin that Dean and Sam went to last year, maybe the year before and, Jesus, the burgers were amazing. Dean would love to see Cas’s face after he tasted one of them. As soon as that thought pops into his head, Dean chases it away. Ridiculous.
While they eat, Charlie updates Dean on his missing bags — hidden forever somewhere in the deepest hellmouth of airline lost luggage — and points to several carrier bags that should hopefully see him through until he can find a minute to go shopping for himself. He’s wearing Cas’s underwear again today, rinsed out and dried on the heated towel rail in Dean’s bathroom. He might love the worn-soft feel of them against his skin a little too much.
Dean’s yawning wide by the time he eats the last bite of his own burger, and Cas and Charlie aren’t doing much better; Charlie’s almost falling asleep over her open laptop and Cas, well, Cas just looks like a slightly less hyper-vigilant version of himself.
“Bed,” Dean decrees, making Charlie jump and Cas frown. “Seriously guys, we all need to catch some sleep; the last couple of days have been insane. And honestly, I don’t know what I’d have done without the pair of you, so… y’know, thanks.”
Charlie brightens long enough to give Dean a hug before she drags herself out of the door to her own, less geeky room. Dean almost feels bad enough to offer her his bed, but Lord knows, he wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. Cas lingers a second longer.
“Don’t worry, Cas, I’m seriously too tired to wander tonight. Not even for the best whisky in the world. Straight to bed, I swear to God.”
“That wasn’t what I was about to say,” Cas smiles, all the cuter for it being lopsided. “But if you want a drink, I’ll gladly escort you down to the whisky bar. Perhaps your friend Benny is working tonight.” It could be Dean’s imagination, but Cas’s smile is decidedly tighter when he mentions Benny.
“Nah,” Dean says, embarrassed enough to look somewhere over Cas’s shoulder rather than in his eyes, because Benny was fun, but he’s not who Dean is really interested in. “That’s okay, but thanks, and thanks for today. I know you’re not really here to protect me from creepy assholes like Zac.”
“Of course, I am,” Cas disagrees, calm but firm. “This isn’t just another security job for me, Dean. I promised Sam that I would look out for you. That I would protect you like a brother, not just another client. And I intend to do just that.”
“Jeez, Cas,” Dean protests. “That’s… Sam shouldn’t have asked that of you. He has no right to—“
“Dean,” Cas places his hand on Dean’s chest, right over his heart, and Dean’s breath catches in his throat. “You think I normally work 24-7, guarding one client on my own? I knew, after I talked to Sam, when I agreed to this, exactly what I was doing. And, now I know you, if anything, I am even more determined to ensure no harm befalls you. I am here for you, in any capacity you need.”
Dean tongue seems to have stuck to the back of his teeth. He doesn’t quite know what to say. He’s caught between making a glib innuendo and melting under the intensity of Cas’s gaze. Thankfully Cas seems to sense Dean’s struggle, patting Dean’s arm and wishing him goodnight before leaving with a dorky wave and stern warning to lock the door securely.
Dean does as he’s told, for once, before collapsing into his bed, happy at the prospect of at least eight solid hours of sleep.
He should have known better. Two hours later, he’s woken by an insistent knocking at the door to his suite. He’s up, stumbling across the room, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and unlocking the door, before he’s awake enough to think better of it. God, his dad would kick his ass for that. You never open the door before you know who it is. Could be anyone; social services, creepy landlords, loan-sharks, or, these days… crazy ass fans or journalists. In his defense, no one could know his room number. No-one should know his room number. The hotel would never give it out.
So that doesn’t explain how Dean ends up with a camera flash blinding him as soon as he opens the door.
The thing about Dean Winchester, Zachariah Adler, thinks to himself as he finishes the dregs of another glass of brandy, is that he doesn’t deserve any of it. Not the awards, not the starring roles, or the boat loads of money, or the adoring fans.
Dean Winchester is a jumped-up maggot. The kid probably never had an acting lesson in his life. Model! Whatever. He whored his way to the top. That newspaper feature only confirmed what Zachariah had thought all along. Dean Winchester, and his brother, that lanky beanstalk who thinks he can out-lawyer Crowley, because oh yeah… Zac knows just how big a percentage of the profits Dean Winchester is making… yes, neither of those Winchester brothers deserve the fame and glory, the adulation and the riches.
Zachariah has been in this business for years. He knows what it’s really like to be a jobbing actor. To spend months having to lower himself to taking temp jobs in dull office after dull office until the next TV role or theatre run comes up. He’s worked damned hard to get where he is today.
Winchester, he’s a fraud. A lucky, pretty boy, fraud. The only thing he’s done to get where he is right now is drop to his knees and use those cock-sucking lips.
And how is it fair that just because Dean Winchester has a mouth made for fucking, he’s tucked up in the goddamn Balmoral Hotel with its posh suites, and room service and Zachariah is stuck in the Holiday Inn.
“Hey, buddy, having a bad day?”
Zachariah scowls at the fellow American who’s just plonked his ass down on the stool next to him.
“You have no idea,” he mutters.
“Brandy please, a decent one,” the guy says to the bartender. “And whatever my friend here is having.”
And fuck it, Zachariah isn’t going to turn down a free drink.
“What were you thinking?” Cas says for what has to be the sixth time.
“Shit, I dunno, Cas,” Dean’s hand trembles as he takes a drink, whisky burning as it slides down his throat. “I was half asleep. I thought it was you or Charlie. No one else knows where my room is.”
“Apparently they do,” Cas says, flatly.
“Oh frak, it’s all over Twitter already,” Charlie moans.
“And you didn’t post anything,” Cas asks her, not for the first time in the past forty minutes. “Not a hint? Nothing about Harry Potter or JK Rowling?”
“No,” Charlie is adamant, and growing more pissed at Cas every time he asks. “I’ve told you, no. I’m not an idiot. I was going to post some photos, of the owl knocker and autographed bust, after we left. After, Cas. I’m not a... a muggle, I know what I’m doing.”
Charlie is for now, looking after Dean’s SM accounts. Normally it’s something Sam takes care of, because God knows, it takes Dean all his time to text, there’s no way he has the time or patience to mess around on Twitter or Instagram or whatever else Sam has made him accounts on.
Apparently, someone posted where he was staying online. Exactly where he was staying; hotel, floor and room.
“How did they even get past the hotel reception?” Charlie asks.
Cas grimaces. “The reporter and his photographer had a room, as did the girl and her friends. They’re part of a bachelorette party, apparently.”
The girls, to be honest, weren’t Dean’s biggest worry. They’d been loud and handsy but had calmed down and backed off as soon as Cas had appeared. The biggest problem was the reporter.
As soon as he’d opened the door, the photographer had started taking pictures, flash almost blinding Dean as he tried to make sense of what was going on. The reporter had shot questions at Dean like fucking bullets, obviously hoping that he could bully Dean into either saying something or punching him. Anything to give him a story that could match the pictures of Dean, half-asleep, in only a pair of boxers and with epic bedhead.
Cas had come barreling out of his room around the same time a gaggle of girls had launched themselves from the elevator, high on booze and life, and god knows what else, phones outstretched and screams waking the whole floor.
It had been pandemonium for at least ten minutes. The occupants of some of the neighboring rooms had poked their heads out to see what all the fuss was about, and at least a couple of them had cellphones in their hands. Thankfully someone had stopped videoing the shitfest long enough to call hotel security because they’d appeared before Cas or Dean had even gotten to their own phones.
Charlie had slept through the whole thing, only waking when Cas called her. Three times.
“Someone from the hotel must have leaked the information,” Cas says, taking Dean’s empty glass from him, walking through to the bathroom and rinsing it before replacing it on the side table. Empty. Dean would like a refill, but he’s pretty sure that was Cas’s subtle way of discouraging him from asking for one. Maybe he’d be okay with Dean getting himself a beer. And Jesus fuck, it’s not like Cas is his keeper, Dean can have a drink if he wants.
“No way,” Charlie says, shaking her head. “J.K. Rowling stayed here for six months while she finished writing The Deathly Hallows, and no one knew about it. Six months. This hotel knows how to keep secrets, it’s why it’s the most expensive one in the city.”
“Well, someone fucking leaked it,” Dean says, wiping his sweaty hands across his thighs. “Otherwise there wouldn’t be photos of me in my boxers floating around the Internet right now.”
“My boxers,” Cas points out, gruffly, which is not helpful.
Dean groans and drops his head into his hands. Yes, he was wearing Cas’s boxers. He hadn’t changed into the new ones Charlie had bought yet, because he didn’t want to sleep in brand new, stiff and scratchy, boxers. He’s not sure who was more embarrassed when Cas noticed what Dean was wearing.
Of course, he’s not just wearing Cas’s underwear now. He’s also wearing one of Cas’s shirts, unbuttoned and loose, but covering him enough that he doesn’t feel naked. At this rate it’ll be a wonder if Cas has any clothes Dean hasn’t worn by the time this is all over. But Cas had bundled Dean into his room without giving him a chance to grab his own clothes or anything else from his suite, so it’s not entirely Dean fault.
“Aren’t there privacy laws?” Cas asks.
Dean snorts. Privacy. Not for someone like Dean. He stands up and ignoring Cas’s disapproving glare, fetches himself another tiny bottle of Bell’s from the mini bar. He unscrews the lid and takes a swig from the bottle. No sense in dirtying a glass when Cas has just cleaned it.
“We need somewhere else to say,” Cas, master of the obvious, states.
“I’m already on it,” Charlie says. She hasn’t looked up from her phone for ten minutes.
“Tomorrow,” Dean says, tipping his head back and taking another drink, then grimacing. The bottles are tiny enough that after two sips it’s almost empty. At least now his hands have almost stopped shaking, but exhaustion is once again replacing adrenaline. “Or later on today, I guess. I need a couple of hours sleep.”
Charlie’s eyes go wide. “You can’t go back to your room.”
“So, I’ll stay here,” Dean shrugs. “Bunk in with Cas. Hotel security are still on the floor so nothing is gonna happen.”
Expecting an argument from Cas, Dean is surprised when the idea is accepted without demur. Cas walks Charlie back to her room before returning just as Dean is walking out of the bathroom.
“You may have the bed,” Cas says, kicking off his running shoes. He’d only been wearing boxers when he’d come tearing out of his room earlier to rescue Dean, but he’d thrown on a pair of running shorts and a long sleeved tee-shirt pretty quickly afterwards.
It’s a shame really, because the one bright spot of the night had been seeing nearly naked Cas. He’d imagined, more than once if he’s honest, what Cas looked like under those stuffy suits. And considering he’d been almost blinded by flashlight and deafened by screaming girls, Dean’s a little heartbroken he didn’t have time to properly appreciate the view. Especially the beautiful tattoos Cas has stretching down his back, across his shoulders and one side of his chest and the full sleeve he has down one arm. Dean never would have expected that incredible artwork to be hiding below Cas’s shirt. It just makes the man even more intriguing. As though Dean wasn’t already obsessed enough with him.
With any luck he’ll sleep naked and allow Dean another peek at them.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Cas,” Dean says, settling himself down on the furthest away side of the bed, throwing one of the many unnecessary pillows onto the floor. “This bed is massive. I’ll not kick and I’ll try not to sleep cuddle. Just don’t snore too loud and we’ll be fine.”
Cas looks down at him, his brow arched. “Really?”
“Really,” Dean says and closes his eyes. “Shut the hell up and get in bed. We have to be up again in a couple of hours.”
He doesn’t show it with anything more than a grunt but Dean’s a little surprised when Cas does as he’s told. Dean feels the bed dip as Cas lies down, tugging the covers over him before going still. They’re not quite touching but Dean can still feel Cas’s warmth bleeding into his skin.
“Thanks,” Dean says before sleep drags him under. “For coming to my rescue, again.”
“I’m sorry I had to. You deserve better, Dean.” Cas’s voice sounds different in the dark. Shoulder to shoulder. Deeper, smoother. Warmer. Soothing in a way that makes breathing easier.
Dean tries not to think about it, or his words. He doesn’t deserve better. He doesn’t even deserve this.
Rehearsals go ahead as planned. Filming is on a tight schedule and tighter budget. Dean’s on time despite his lack of sleep. Bela sashays in ten minutes later and Zac twenty minutes after that, eyes bloodshot and mouth twitchy.
“Nice of you to join us, love,” Crowley snarks, and they’re back to business. All he had to say about Dean’s latest tangle with the press was “well done, darling. You’re saving me a small fortune on PR.” And of course, “nice underwear.”
It hadn’t taken long for blurry photos and a video snippet from last night’s clusterfuck to hit social media. If Dean were a suspicious person, he’d start to suspect that Crowley was the one who’d let slip Dean’s room number. He’s having trouble figuring out who else knew it.
Cas and Charlie come and go during the day. Both of them obviously busy, spending more time on their phones than usual. Dean tries to ignore it all, forces himself to sink into his role, but it’s tougher than normal. Not so much because of the drama last night. Stupid shit happens all the time, Dean’s let it go already. What’s unbalancing him more is waking up in Cas’s bed.
Cas hadn’t been beside him, unfortunately, but the heat from his body was still warm on the sheet. Dean splayed his hand across the space where Cas had been and watched with one eye cracked open as Cas, dressed only in pale blue boxers, had pulled up his pants before turning around and sliding his shirt off a hanger than had been balanced on the edge of the mirror.
Dean sucks in a breath. He knew Cas’s tattoos were a masterpiece, but he didn’t see the design in its entirety the previous night, and not at all from this angle. Its truly stunning in the light of day. There’s an angel taking up almost all of Cas’s back, its wings spread up and curled over the top of his shoulders. It’s not some pretty caricature of a white-winged and halo’d cherub either. This creature is fearsome. Its wings are dark and threatening and in its outstretched hand is a silver sword piercing through the head of a serpent. The serpent itself is an intricate design, stretching from Cas’s back, up and under his arm and twisting all the way down to his forearm, stopping just before it reaches his wrist. Dean almost let out a whine of complaint when Cas slipped his shirt on covering up the ink.
Dean wants to see it again. There’s so much more to the design that he didn’t have time to decipher. The scales on the serpent, the feathers on the angel’s wings, the cherry blossoms woven in between the serpent's coils.
“Dean, are you with us? Jesus Christ, what the hell is wrong with you useless morons today.” Crowley throws his hands up in the air and storms across the room.
“I thought we were the ones supposed to overact,” Rowena notes, looking up over her little half-moon reading glasses as she makes yet another note on her script.
“He’s the biggest drama queen here, darling,” Balthazar says. “And that’s including Bela.”
“Screw you, love,” Bela says, absently, as Ketch massages her shoulders.
When Crowley stomps back across the room, Dean makes an effort to shake himself free of his distracted mood. Tries to join in with the friendly and not so friendly banter. He tries harder than normal to nail his performance even though it’s just an early rehearsal. Throws everything into his character he possibly can. By the time they finish, Crowley at least looks impressed. The others just look exhausted. Zac disappears at soon as Crowley says they’re done. He’s been acting weird all day, avoiding Dean, not even looking him in the eye. After yesterday, Dean shouldn’t be surprised but he’d kind of expected the guy to be an even bigger douchebag today, not back down.
“So,” Charlie says. She’s waiting at the back of the rehearsal hall for Dean. Cas, presumably, is at the door. “We have a slight problem.”
“Uhuh,” says Dean.
Charlie hands him her phone. Dean stares at it blankly, uncomprehending, until he hears Sam’s voice. Dean shoots Charlie a betrayed look.
“So, I hear things are going as smoothly as normal,” Sam says.
“Yeah, y’know,” Dean fudges, not sure how much Sam knows. “Did Charlie call you?”
“Not exactly,” Sam says. The line isn't great. Sam sounds almost as far away as he feels, his voice faint and words difficult to pick up. Dean has to clap his hand over his other ear and concentrate just to hear what his brother is saying.
“Charlie talked to Cas. Cas called me.”
“What? Why?” Last night wasn’t ideal, but it was a blip. Nothing worth calling Sam about. Of course, if he’d bothered looking online he’d have seen the half naked pictures of Dean anyway, but Dean’s hoping Sam has more important things to be doing on his honeymoon than trawling through social media.
“Look, this line is crap,” Sam says. “so, I’m gonna let Cas explain, but I just wanted to stress that we know what we’re talking about. We aren’t overreacting. Don’t be an ass to Cas because this isn’t his fault.”
“Well, that’s not ominous at all, Sam.”
“What? Sorry, Dean I can barely hear you. The weather’s turned to shit here. Look, I’m thinking about cutting this vacation short and flying back—“
“No,” Dean all but shouts down the phone, making damn sure that Sam hears him this time. “Don’t you dare, Sam. It’s not a vacation, it’s your fucking honeymoon.”
“Okay, okay,” Sam says, his words fading in and out. “But promise me, you’ll do exactly what Cas says, okay? I trust him to look after you, but I don’t always trust you to look after yourself.”
Dean’s pretty sure Sam’s playing him, but he doesn’t really care at this point. He just doesn’t want his baby brother ruining the first break he’s had in years by worrying about Dean.
He still doesn't know what going on when he gets off the phone to Sam a second later. He follows Charlie outside where there’s a security guard waiting to escort him to a car. It’s not the boring grey sedan, instead there’s an imposing four by four. A sleek black Range Rover with tinted windows that scream look at me I’m important. Dean scowls with loathing at the monstrosity before, after a gentle shove from Charlie, he climbs in the back, warily, like he can avoid getting the stench of douchebag on him if he’s careful. Charlie climbs up into the front passenger seat, closing the door with a solid thunk.
“What the hell, Cas?” Dean says.
Cas, who’s sitting waiting in the backseat looks worried. That, more than anything, ramps up Dean’s nerves.
“Someone needs to tell me what the fuck is going on. Right the fuck now.”
“Hannah, we’re ready to go, please,” Cas instructs the woman in the driver’s seat, before turning to Dean. “I’ll tell you everything once we get to our destination. Please be a little more patient. “
Dean knows just by Cas’s softly spoken words that there’s no point in arguing. “And where is our destination?” He asks, not expecting a precise response.
Cas’s answer lives up to, or rather down to, his expectations. “Somewhere safe.” Is all Dean gets.
Somewhere safe is nearly an hour out of the city, and despite the circumstances and the growing darkness, Dean can appreciate the countryside they drive through to get there; the rolling hills, and long lakes snaking beside the road, the mountains in the distance. It’s pretty secluded. By Dean’s reckoning the nearest town they drive through before stopping is about fifteen minutes away. The business back at the hotel must have freaked out Cas more than Dean thought if Cas thinks spiriting him out of the city to the middle of bumfuck nowhere is really necessary.
The house they draw up to has a fairly tall — maybe six foot — fence surrounding it, and a locked gate that Cas opens with a keycard. For a house in the middle of somewhere vague, Scotland, the place sure has some high-tech security.
Cas obviously knows his way around the place. “This is ‘The Smiddy’s Cottage’,” he explains, as he gives Dean and Charlie the grand tour. Cottage is rather misleading. The place is a decent size. Not compared to Dean’s house back in the States obviously, but much bigger than Dean expected. There are three bedrooms on the ground floor, as well as an office and a living space, a bathroom and a huge kitchen. Upstairs there’s just a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. Dean imagines that originally there might not have been an upstairs at all; the roof of the bedroom is low and slopes and if Sammy were here, he’d be banging his head every time he turned around.
Charlie disappears with her bag to one of the bedrooms, leaving Dean and Cas alone upstairs. Cas shuts the bedroom door and Dean sits down on the edge of the bed, his patience wearing thin.
“What’s going on, Cas? What’s all this about?”
“Did Sam tell you about the threats?”
Dean groans. “Oh, come on, Cas. Please tell me this isn’t about some internet troll.”
“Dean,” Cas says, loosening his tie with an impatient jerk. “This is serious. The threats are disturbing and specific. This isn’t someone with a cruel sense of humor and a vivid imagination. This is someone whom we think has psychotic tendencies and a dangerous fixation on you.”
“What… you can tell that from a few weird tweets, really?”
“And the letters, delivered to your home address. And messages he somehow managed to send to your phone. That was why Sam had you change your number several times over the past few months.”
It’s a pain in the ass, but Dean changes his phone number fairly regularly anyway. He did think Sam was acting a little insane about it lately though.
“Okay, so that’s weird. And I’m not disagreeing that this guy… do we know it’s a guy?”
Cas hesitates. “We… aren’t one hundred percent positive. But it seems most likely.”
“Okay, so this guy is apparently five kinds of crazy, but as far as I can see, it’s also a pretty safe bet he’s not here, in Scotland. I mean, he’s thousands of miles away, right?”
“No,” Cas says. Which is not the reassurance that Dean expects. “We think he’s here. We’re sure, actually, that he’s here.”
“What? Here in the UK?” Dean says. “How?”
“Here in Scotland. In Edinburgh. There was a letter, in your hotel room. Charlie found it today when she went to collect your things. We think… we think that he found out your room number, and released it online to create enough chaos so he could sneak into your room.”
“Why...” Dean hesitates, not sure he really wants to know the answer to this. “Why didn’t he just—“
“Grab you last night?” Cas finishes when Dean balks at actually saying it. “We think perhaps he wanted see what your security was like, or...”
“Or he likes playing games. The letter was fairly… graphic.”
“Right.” Dean nods.
“He also… he posted some photographs today too. On his Instagram account.”
“Yeah?” Dean’s afraid to ask. “Photos of...?”
“Clothes. A toothbrush. Aftershave. A book.”
“O-kay,” Dean says slowly. That’s weird but hardly threatening.
“Sam confirmed that the items are yours. He has your suitcase, Dean.”
Dean’s stomach somersaults. “So, some freak is going around wearing my underwear? That’s not disturbing at all.”
“Dean, this man isn't just insane. He’s intelligent and focused and dangerous.”
“Thanks, Cas,” Dean says, tightly. “I get it. I’m not an idiot.”
“We’re working on finding out who this person is. Sam has contacts with the FBI who are looking into it, and I have discussed the matter with several experts. Charlie is trying to track him down too. She’s gotten closer than anyone else so far.”
That brings Dean up short. “Charlie? No way, Cas. If this guy is a psycho like you say, I don’t want Charlie anywhere near him.”
“She’s perfectly safe,” Cas says. “I promise you. I won’t let anything happen to her. We’re all safe here. The house is perfectly secure and my people—“
“Yes, Dean, my people are guarding the property and will be guarding you and Charlie around the clock.”
“You have people?” Dean is still focused on that little detail.
“Yes, Dean. I have people.”
“Why are you so focused on this?”
“I don’t know, man. I thought you were like a lone wolf or something.”
“I own Angel Security. I employ several hundred people.” He dips his hand into his inside jacket pocket, produces a business card, and hands it to Dean. “Based in London but we operate worldwide
“You own Angel Security,” Dean repeats, turning the card over in hand and staring at it. “You own the company. And you’re here babysitting my ass? Don’t you have people to do this shit for you? I mean, shouldn’t you be in an office somewhere? Schmoozing clients or pushing paperwork?”
Dean doesn’t expect the blush that lights up Cas’s face. “I do, on occasion, like to get back in the field. Paperwork is not particularly exciting.”
“Huh,” Dean says doubtfully, looking back down at the glossy card. “Hey, what’s that blob in the middle there?”
“What blob?” Cas asks, looking over his shoulder.
“That shadowy looking thing. Is it a butterfly? Or a bird? Or a bat? Woah, dude, are you secretly Batman?”
Cas snatches the card out of Dean’s hand and points at the weird ink blot in the center of it. “It’s very obviously an angel. Angel Security. That’s the wings and the halo.”
Dean laughs and grabs the card back, tucking in his pocket. “I’m just teasing you, man. “
“You are infuriating,” Cas huffs. “You promised you would take this seriously.”
Dean is taking it seriously. He’d be a fool not to, knowing what he does now. But panicking won’t help. “I am, Cas, swear to god. But, you’re all over this, right? And we’re safe. And you promise Charlie is safe?”
Cas nods solemnly. “Absolutely.”
“Then, I’m just gonna go on doing my thing and letting you do yours. I can’t spend my life looking over my shoulder and worrying. It’d drive me crazy. So, I’m gonna trust you and your little angels,” Dean smirks, but refrains from making a Charlie’s Angels joke, if only just, “to do your job.”
“Really?” Cas squints at him doubtfully.
“I trust you, Cas.”
Dean feels some of the tension in Cas release. His shoulders dropping about an inch and his hands relaxing where they were bunched tight on his thighs.
“So, man, what's with all the angels? I mean I saw your back this morning and that is one stunning tattoo, and then the company name?”
“My name,” Cas replies smoothly. “I was named after an Angel. All my siblings were. It seemed fitting.”
Dean thinks there might be more to it than that, but he doesn’t push, everyone has their secrets. “Really?” He says instead. “That’s cool. My very own guardian angel.”
Despite the added security, life carries on as normal. As normal as life ever gets for Dean these days anyway. There is still nearly two weeks of rehearsals left before they all have a couple of days off, and then filming starts at the first location.
Obviously, the commute is longer now that Dean’s not staying in the city, but he doesn’t mind. He either dozes in the car, or chats with Cas and Charlie, depending on how tired he is. And it’s not like it’s the worst scenery in the world that they have to drive past either.
Rehearsals continue to go about as smoothly as Dean expects. To be honest, he’s experienced worse. Everyone can at least act. Crowley and his casting director did a decent job. It’s the clash of egos that causes most problems, but as the days pass, most people stop trying to prove how amazing they are and just get on with the work at hand. Zac is weirdly twitchy for a while but eventually relaxes into his normal annoying self. Bela is the main problem; demanding and self-centered and downright bitchy at times. But Dean’s ignored bigger divas.
Staying at the cottage turns out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s relaxing and homely in a way that even the nicest hotels can never be. There’s no room service, obviously, but Dean mucks in with the cooking and dishwashing along with Charlie and Cas, and whoever else is there. It’s usually Hannah and Alfie, but Uriel and Rachel, another couple of Cas’s angels (Dean refuses to call them anything else despite or possibly because it annoys the crap out of Cas) switch in occasionally. Rachel seems pleasant enough, she’s quiet and tends to avoid talking to Dean, and Uriel, or Uri as everyone seems to call him, is frankly a bit of a dick.
Dean sleeps in the master room up the stairs, with Cas and Charlie having a room each on the ground floor. Cas’s angels share the last room. As far as Dean can make out, someone is always on duty and they switch shifts at some point during the night. It’s kind of nice sharing a house with so many other people, makes him miss Sam and Jess less, and keeps the loneliness at bay. He tries not to think about the fact that he’s paying all these people to be here. Or why he’s paying all these people to be here.
There’s still no news on his stalker. Charlie and Cas aren’t saying much about him and Dean isn’t asking. He should probably be more worried than he is, but it seems there are enough people worrying about it all. Dean thinks everyone forgets that he’s not some fragile damsel in distress. Okay, maybe he’s not quite as tough as some of the characters he’s played, but he can throw a mean punch and pick the lock on a pair of handcuffs. He’s not defenseless.
“No, but really, Cas, you’ve never watched Star Wars?” Charlie wanders through to the living room and throws herself over the arm of a chair, popcorn kernels flying out of the bowl in her hands when she lands on the cushions.
“As I’ve already said, no,” Cas says, following behind her. He’s taken his jacket and tie off as well as his shoes and rolled up his white shirt sleeves so some of his tattoo is on show for a change. It’s as casual a look as Cas has, and Dean can’t help but appreciate the lines of firm muscle below the single layer.
“Unbelievable.” Charlie throws a piece of popcorn at Dean who catches it in his mouth, and then tries to look casual at the feat, but holy shit, that was perhaps the coolest thing he’s ever done.
“What about Lord of the Rings?” Charlie continues, not properly appreciating Dean’s awesomeness. “Or, The Princess Bride?”
“No.” Cas doesn’t seem to understand the horror of this.
Castiel sits down on the other end of the couch from Dean. “No.”
Charlie is looking more aghast by the second. “These are all classics, Cas, classics!” She turns to Dean for back-up.
“How about Indiana Jones?” Dean says. “You have to have seen at least one Indiana Jones film? Harrison Ford, man!”
“I don’t really watch movies. Or television in general. My parents were rather conservative and didn’t allow us to watch much growing up.”
“Well, that’s a damn tragedy, Cas. My childhood was spent in front of the box.” As soon as Dean hears himself says it, he hears the lie. Having parents who cared enough not just to dump you in front of the TV all day wasn’t the tragedy here.
“What did you even do, Cas?” Charlie seems even more shocked that Dean.
“Well, I had a large family, three brothers and a sister, so I didn’t lack for playmates. But, mostly I spent my time searching for someplace quiet to hide with a book.”
Charlie nods, as if Cas is finally talking her language. “Well, yeah, I get that. Tell me you’ve at least read Lord of the Rings, then?”
“Yes.” Cas smiles at her. “I did indeed read Lord of the Rings. It was one of my favorite books as a boy.”
“Thank god for that,” Charlie says and grabs the control for the television, flipping into her Netflix account. “I thought there was no hope for you for a second there. Okay so, movie night, any preferences… Dean?”
“Whatever,” Dean says. “I’ll probably fall asleep anyway.”
“You’ve had a long day,” Cas notes.
“Not any longer than you or Charlie,” Dean points out.
“But we don’t have to put up with Bela’s antics,” Charlie says. “But no, Crowley, love, I can’t possibly do that… you wouldn’t want me to break a nail, would you darling, I mean I am a star.”
Dean and Cas both laugh at her perfect imitation of Bela and relax back against the sofa as Charlie settles on a movie, The Lost Boys, which Dean can get behind because Kiefer Sutherland was a far hotter vampire than any sparkly pretty boy since.
As it turns out, it’s Charlie who falls asleep, snoring lightly well before Jason Patric thinks about sinking his fangs into Corey Haim.
“You’ve seen this movie before?” Cas asks, as Dean mouths along with the dialogue.
“Just once or twice,” Dean chuckles. “Seriously, I really didn't do much but sit in front of the TV when I was a kid. I had to watch Sammy a lot, which you know, was fine, ‘cause it’s not like I had money to go out or anyone to go out with,” Dean admits. “We moved around so much it was hard to make friends. Harder to lose them. I ended up not even bothering.”
Cas nods. “Yes, I understand. My parents were both in the military, so we moved often.”
“You were a military brat?” Dean asks. “I guess that explains your accent.”
Dean’s cheeks heat in embarrassment. He’s spent hours transfixed by Cas’s voice, that low pitched rumble that’s soft one second and gravel rough the next. “Yeah, I’m pretty good at accents but I couldn’t figure out yours.”
“Oh,” Cas tilts his head and seems to consider it. “I’ve never given it much thought. I was born in the UK, but my parents are American, and we’ve lived all over the world. Now, my business offices are in London, but I travel all over. I’ve spent so much of my life on the move than I can’t really claim anywhere as home.”
“Yeah,” Dean says. “I mean… I have a home now, and it’s awesome, I guess, but I still spend more time in hotel rooms than my own bed.”
Cas hums in understanding. Charlie snorts in her sleep, her head tilted back at a weird angle. She’s going to be sore in the morning if they don’t wake her soon. But Cas is sitting close enough that Dean can almost touch him and the movie doesn’t have that long to go, so Dean ignores the niggle of guilt and doesn’t move.
“You know, I wasn’t entirely truthful earlier,” Cas says, an edge of uncertainty to his words.
“It’s true I haven’t watched as many movies as you or Charlie. I certainly didn’t watch many as a child. But I… I have watched a few.”
“Yeah?” Dean says, puzzled at where Cas’s confession is going.
“Yes,” Cas says. “I’ve… I’ve watched every one of your movies. Even the animated one.”
“Oh Lord,” Dean groans and drops his head into his hands. Cas stiffens beside him.
“Please tell me, you didn’t watch the one with haunted kidney… please, God. I’ll never be able to look you in the eye again.”
Cas let’s out a huff of breath that turns into a soft chuckle. “That was not one of your best movies,” he says. “Not even your presence managed to save that awful script.”
“Jeez,” Dean shudders. “I don’t even know what I was thinking, man.” Some of his early movies, the ones he made before Sam took control of his career, are cringeworthy at best.
Cas knocks his arm against Dean’s in silent light-hearted support. “To be fair, it wasn’t much worse than the one with the ghost ship.”
“How dare you.” Dean fakes outrage. “That movie is a classic.” It’s really not.
Cas rolls his eyes. “I’m not entirely sure you know what that word means.”
Dean manfully resists making a Princess Bride reference that he knows Cas won’t understand. Instead, he elbows Cas in the side and then rather than leaning away again, he sits back so their arms are touching; Cas’s heat bleeding into Dean’s skin. Cas doesn’t move away, but he’s stiff against Dean’s side. Dean feels like he’s fifteen years old again, butterflies in his stomach and nervous sweat in danger of soaking through his shirt.
“You’re not upset?” Cas asks.
“That you watched my movies? Are you nuts? You’re helping keep me in a job.”
“You are a very good actor,” Cas says. “You truly deserved that Oscar. In My Time of Dying was… well, I cried watching it. I don’t ever cry.”
“That’s...” Dean’s lost for words. “That’s… thanks, Cas.”
“But, I didn’t watch your movies because of your acting,” Cas says, voice dipping into a range that Dean struggles to hear. “There was something… something about you. I mean obviously you’re incredibly beautiful, but it was more than that. When I watched you onscreen it felt like I had some kind of connection with you. Something I hadn’t felt before. This isn’t coming out right.”
Dean stays silent because he doesn’t know what to say.
“I sound crazy.”
“No,” Dean says, his hand coming down to rest against Cas’s thigh when it feels as though he’s about to stand up. “No, Cas, I don’t think you sound crazy. Not at all.”
“I swear I’m not your stalker.”
Dean laughs softly. “I didn’t think you were.”
“When I was in the marines...” Cas speaks slowly as though he’s trying to pick out the right words to explain. “I spent so much time away from home. Away from my family. Obeying orders, training, patrolling… my life was structured and ordered and far removed from what anyone would consider normal. I was the perfect soldier. Unthinking, unquestioning. Content to spend every hour of every day doing whatever I was told. The first time I saw one of your movies… it was… it was like waking up. I’m not explaining this well, I’m sorry.”
Dean clears his throat with a ragged cough. “No… no, you are, but you don’t have to explain anything, not to me. I’m glad, if my movies meant something to you, that’s awesome.”
“It wasn’t the movies, if I’m honest,” Cas says, looking down at where Dean’s hand is still resting against his thigh. “It was you, Dean, it was always you. The spark of life in your eye and the kindness in your smile. You made me feel...” He trails off, lost. “You made me feel.”
Dean’s not sure what to say. Lifting his hand from Cas’s thigh, he rubs at the back of his neck until it stings. “You know, I’m not him. That guy you see on the screen. The cowboy with the killer aim or the quick-witted side kick, or the brave self-sacrificing hero. That’s not me. I’m just plain old Dean Winchester, fuck-up extraordinaire.”
“You’re not a fuck-up,” Cas says sharply, looking straight at Dean.
“Well, I’m no hero.”
“I think your brother would argue that,” Cas says to Dean’s surprise. “I was going to say no, when he, Sam, called me, to ask if my firm could provide your security. I did say no, in fact. I didn’t want to meet you, never mind take you on as a client, not when I’d been harboring such a ridiculous crush on you. But Sam, he explained how much you meant to him. How selfless and loving you were. How worried he was. I found myself saying yes even though I knew I shouldn’t. And then I couldn’t bring myself to let anyone else protect you. I had to do it myself.”
“God,” Dean laughs uneasily. “I bet I was a disappointment.”
“No,” Cas snaps, before taking a breath and repeating, more calmly, “no. You were anything but.“
“Dude, I was a mess the first time you saw me. Jesus, I was fucked up and a dick.”
“You were not a dick. You were exhausted. And you were still very sweet to Charlie. You were an idiot, however.”
“Hey,” Dean protests.
“You had no idea who I was, and yet you were just going to go with me. You had literally no self-preservation instincts.”
“In my defense, I was pretty out of it. And—“ Dean says, his heart beating a little faster. “—I was kind of blown away by the hot guy with pretty blue eyes and stupidly messy hair. I would have followed him anywhere.”
Cas turns to look at him. “Me?”
“Yeah, Cas, you,” Dean chuckles at the surprise is Cas’s voice.
Dean cuts off Cas’s stutters by leaning forward and brushing his lips, ever so gently, against Cas’s. Cas doesn’t move, doesn’t breathe, sits frozen. Suddenly doubting himself, thinking he’s misjudged, Dean leans back, panic prickling behind his eyes and an apology already forming on his tongue. That’s when Cas finally gets with the program, his hand jumping up and cupping the back of Dean’s head, holding him still while he returns the kiss. Except Cas kisses wholeheartedly, putting Dean’s tentative attempt to shame. This time it’s Dean who doesn’t breathe. Can’t breathe. He’s dizzied by the time they break apart, his cheeks hot and eyes wide.
“Was that… was that okay?” Cas asks, his eyes trained on Dean’s mouth.
“I… I don’t know,” Dean replies, his tongue sneaking out to lick his lips. “Maybe we should try it again, just so I can be sure.”
Cas smiles and obeys, and this time the kiss is perfect. Blindingly, sparks flying, birds singing, hearts fluttering, perfect.
Until Charlie snores so loudly she wakes herself up. Cas and Dean jump apart like guilty teenagers. Cas’s hair is even more messy than usual and Dean’s lips are almost numb. Both of them are wearing stupidly sappy smiles and the movie is clearly finished. Charlie must know something’s up, but either she’s too polite or still too sleepy to say anything. And despite all the bitching she does at the pair of them about the crick in her neck, Dean’s smile doesn’t fade at all when he says goodnight and goes up the stairs to his bed. He doesn’t even care that he’s going to have to get up in less than six hours to make it to rehearsals. For the first time in a long time, all he feels is ridiculously, flying-high on hope, happy.
The thing about Dean Winchester, Uriel seethes, is he’s spoiled, overpaid trash. No matter how much Castiel is paying Uriel to do this job, it’s not enough. Uriel doesn’t even understand why they’re wasting their time and expertise protecting a third-rate movie star in the first place.
Together Uriel and Castiel have protected foreign royalty, politicians, people of import. Now he’s relegated to following some pretty boy, actor around. It’s degrading. And all because Castiel has a soft spot for the man. No. Worse than that, he’s fallen for him.
It makes Uriel sick.
Uriel knew Castiel was gay, of course. He’s seen no hard evidence of it up until now, but Castiel has never gone out of his way to hide his preferences. Especially after they both left the marines. It’s not something Uriel has ever cared about. But he’s discovering now that he doesn’t much like getting it shoved in his face either.
Although, he thinks perhaps the problem is not so much that Castiel is crushing on a man. And it’s not that his usually focused boss is suddenly acting like a lovesick teenager. It’s that the man in question is a mud-monkey like Dean Winchester. Trailer trash that whored himself up the ladder to success. Uriel’s seen the photos. He’s read the stories. He knows how low Winchester has sunk. From underwear model to Oscar winning actor… the only explanation for that rapid rise to fame is the boy’s cock-sucking lips and lack of morals.
Castiel is a warrior. A leader. A man with a strict moral code. A man Uriel was happy to take orders from. Yet somehow Winchester has bewitched him.
As far as Uriel is concerned, Dean Winchester is nothing more than a godless whore. He doesn’t deserve to be saved.
“Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, our work here is done. I will see you all on Monday, location one. You have your call times, do not be late. We have a tight schedule.” Crowley projects his voice across the room before spinning on his heel and exiting the room with his usual dramatic flair. Dean is convinced the man’s a director rather than an actor only because he’s a control freak.
There’s a few polite handclaps in response to Crowley’s words, but everyone is beyond ready to pack up and go. Two days of freedom beckon and they’ve seen more than enough of each other over the past couple of weeks.
“Thank God,” Bela says, grabbing her bag. “If he’d dragged that out any longer I’d have missed my flight. I’ve been stuck up here for quite long enough, I need to get back to civilization.”
“You’re in Edinburgh, sweetie,” Rowena says. “Not the Outer Hebrides, not yet anyway.”
“Lord,” Bela rolls her eyes, this is bad enough. “I don’t know why I agreed to this. Who shoots on location anyway? And in Scotland of all places. It’s hardly glamourous.”
“It’s a bit late to complain, darling,” Balthazar joins in. “We all knew the deal.”
“Yes,” Ketch joins in, quick as always to jump to Bela’s defense. “But we didn’t know quite what a tinpot dictator Crowley was.”
Dean laughs. “He’s not that bad. I’ve worked with worse.”
Ketch glares at him, something which Dean has grown used to over the past couple of days. Ketch and Bela have become something of a couple and that apparently means Bela’s point of view is now Ketch’s point of view. And ever since the photos and video of Dean in his underwear hit the Internet, Bela has taken every opportunity to look down her nose at Dean. She seems to think he’s an attention whore — or possible just a whore, Dean hasn’t discounted that — or that he’s in cahoots with Crowley to publicize the movie. Dean doesn’t give a rat’s ass what she thinks.
“I’m sure you have,” Ketch says, slipping as much snide as possible into his English accent.
Zachariah laughs, loud and cruel. “I bet porn directors are very hands on, huh Dean?”
Dean tries to laugh that off although he’s sick of all Zac’s assholish digs. “I didn’t do porn, dude. Although I hear I have a couple of porn-look-alikes out there. Maybe that’s why you’re confused. Did you watch the wrong version of Folsom Prison Blues? God, what was it called again? Oh yeah… Folsom Prison Gangbang?”
Everyone laughs, apart from Zac, whose face turns purple. Dean’s given up trying to make friends with him. They guy’s a dick.
“I hear James Cameron is a bit of an egomaniac. Didn’t you work with him?” Balthazar asks, clapping Dean on the back.
“Dude,” Dean moans, “now he’s a dictator. The stories I could tell you.”
“And I’m sure you will, darling,” Bela drawls. “But, as I said, plane to catch.”
“Well, don’t let us stop you, sweetie,” Rowena says, picking up the huge purse that she carries everywhere with her. “Perhaps you could use some of that time hanging around the airport to look at your script. I know it’s tiresome, but maybe Crowley would stop snapping at you if you actually knew your lines.”
Dean loves Rowena a little bit.
Dean’s head turns towards the back exit of the hall when he hears Cas’s voice.
“The car’s here if you’re ready to go?”
“Sure, Cas,” Dean says, grabbing his bag and jacket. “I’ll be right there.”
“Och… young gay love, isn’t it adorable?” Rowena says sweetly. “Be careful though, Dean, we all remember how the film ends.”
Dean hates Rowena a little bit too.
“What film?” Ketch asks. Bela sighs.
“Thankfully, I’m not Whitney,” Dean says to Rowena before kissing her cheek. “Which is just as well because I really don’t think I could hit that key change.”
Smiling, Rowena smacks Dean’s butt as he walks away, shouting his goodbyes.
It’s been around forty-eight hours since Cas and Dean kissed for the first time. Dean had been worried, briefly, that Cas would pretend it had never happened. That’s he’d claim professional and personal relationships couldn’t mix. The kissing was a late-night mistake. But he’d woken Dean the next morning with a bashful pink-tinted smile and a large coffee, Dean for once had ignored the coffee and pulled Cas down into a good morning kiss that left them both grinning the entire day. And last night, Cas had crept into his room and they’d laid together, fully clothed, on Dean’s bed kissing each other until they were both lightheaded and almost painfully hard.
They met days ago. They barely know each other really. But Dean’s heart is no longer listening to reason. He’s completely gone on Cas. Crushing so hard on the guy he feels like a love-sick teenager. The only thing saving him from panicking about it, is that Cas seems just as twitterpated. Even if he does try to hide it a little more around his employees.
Dean’s finding it impossible to hide his feelings. His sheer insane giddiness.
It’s unusual for him. Even with Gordon, Dean kept his emotions buttoned up tight. Sam only guessed he was seeing someone because they lived in each other’s pockets at the time. But with Cas… well, with Cas, Dean can’t keep the sappy smile off his face whenever he sees him.
Charlie guessed with a painful sounding screech as soon as she saw them both the next day, even though both Dean and Cas tried to deny anything had happened. They were, according to Charlie and Alfie both, equally unconvincing, which Dean found a little worrying considering he has an Oscar sitting in his man-cave.
“How was your day?” Cas asks, as Dean approaches him, trying very hard to walk like a sane adult and keep a happy skip out of his step. Dean Winchester does not skip. No matter how happy his boyfriend (maybe… kind of… ) looks to see him.
Dean can’t resist kissing Cas though. Doesn’t care who sees. He’s going to be working with these people for the next couple of months, with any luck they’ll be seeing a whole lot more of Dean macking on Cas in that time, they’re going to have to get used to it.
“Just peachy, thanks,” Dean grins. “How was yours?”
“It was, as you say, peachy. Everything okay?” Cas’s attention switches from Dean to the bodyguard behind him, professional tone replacing his playful one as he addresses Alfie. The poor guy’s been sat in the rehearsal hall all day, doubtless bored silly. But Cas’s stricter protective detail means someone has to have eyes on Dean all the time, as well as someone watching the building. It’s overkill and Dean’s only putting up with it to keep Sam and Cas happy.
“No problems,” Alfie reports.
“Good,” Cas nods. Dean rolls his eyes, because obviously everything was okay. Cas would be the first one to know if it wasn’t.
“So,” Dean says, bashing his arm against Cas’s as they head for the exit. “I have two whole days off. Whatever can we do to pass the time?”
Alfie lets out a strangled groan.
“What?” Dean looks back over his shoulder at him.
“Apparently,” Cas says dryly. “Alfie walked in on us in the kitchen last night and has been scarred for life.”
“Seriously?” Dean quirks his eyebrow. “We were just kissing.”
Alfie’s face is red.
“Apparently, catching your employer groping your client makes for a stressful working environment.”
Dean thinks about it for a second. “Meh, I guess it could be a little awkward. So, is that a no to you fucking me on the kitchen table then?”
Alfie walks into the doorframe.
“Dean,” Cas chides.
Dean laughs at the furious color of Alfie’s cheeks. “I was joking,” he assures him. “I’m not that kind of boy. Your boss hasn't even taken me out on a date yet.”
“Hold on,” Cas says, as he talks into his sleeve, before giving Alfie the go ahead to walk ahead and open the door, before they escort Dean to the car.
“You want to go on a date?” Cas says, once they’re safely buckled into the back seat of the Range Rover. “With me?”
“Well, not with Alfie,” Dean says, “no offense, Alfie.”
“None taken,” Alfie mumbles from the front passenger seat. “Seriously, none.”
“I guess that could be arranged,” Cas muses.
“And not a lame date either,” Dean warns. “I’ve barely breathed fresh air for the past couple of weeks. I don’t want to go to the movies or the theater.”
“You’re very demanding,” Cas notes.
“Yeah,” Dean says. “I’m a real diva, you better get used to it, buddy.”
“Or perhaps I should teach you some manners,” Cas growls in Dean’s ear. Dean’s smirk slides right off his face and he pops an instant boner. Cas looks inordinately pleased with himself. Alfie starts thumping the back of his head on the seat rest and muttering darkly about earplugs.
“This,” Dean says, looking around incredulously. “This is your idea of a date?”
“It’s outside,” Cas points out, the smug ass. “That was your main requirement, as I recall.”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Ghost hunting? You’re taking me ghost hunting?”
“Not me, no.” Cas says, with a perfectly straight face. “That very nice man dressed as a vampire, who is right now walking towards us, and his friend, the mad monk over there with the clipboard, are going to take us ghost hunting.”
“I hate you,” Dean says and tugs his hood up. It’s the beginning of summer so it’s not especially cold. But it’s also Scotland, so it’s not particularly warm either. Anyway, the hood is more about escaping unwanted attention than warmth. It’s considerably less douchey than wearing sunglasses, especially when the sun isn’t shining.
“Mwhahahah, Gentlemen… the Smith party? You are our last three intrepid ghost hunters this evening, so if everyone is ready for the night of their lives… we shall depart.” The guy flounces away, flaring his cape behind him for good measure. Dean shakes his head. This could be the dorkiest thing he has ever done.
It should be the worst date in the world. They’re surrounded by other people, one of whom, unfortunately, is Uri, who’s made it broodingly clear he doesn’t approve of his boss getting friendly with his clients. Normally Uri drives, but for some reason he’s pulled escort duty on date night. Neither him nor Dean are thrilled about it.
Still, despite Uri’s gloomy presence and the cheesy theatrics of the tour guides, the evening is a lot of fun. With daylight fading, they’re led around beautiful, old streets, through narrow, insanely steep, lanes and even around a centuries-old graveyard. Their guide’s jokes are undeniably terrible, but all of his stories are interesting, a few desperately sad — Dean did not well up at the story of Greyfriars Bobby, no matter what anyone (Cas) says — and some are downright creepy… bodysnatching, evil fae, and cannibalism… more than enough to liven up Dean’s dreams for a while.
He could have done without the masked extras waiting to pop out and scare them along the way, but he thinks they probably get the bigger fright. Uri very nearly punches the first unfortunate kid in the face. It’s hilarious, even if it doesn’t improve Uri’s mood.
No-one seems to recognize Dean, thankfully, everyone too focused on enjoying the tour to care about the three guys bringing up the rear.
Dean and Cas break away from the rest of the group before they wind their way back to the meeting point, Uri trailing like a dark cloud behind them. Cas slides his hand into Dean’s and the spark of electricity that tingles through Dean’s fingers almost takes his breath away.
Cas must feel it too, because he gasps in surprise, breathy and delighted. “This is… I’ve never felt like this before,” Cas admits quietly, and god, it’s trite and cliché but Dean doesn’t care, because it’s absolutely true for him too.
Cas slips around the corner tugging Dean with him and pushing him up against a wall. Dean’s eyes are wide as Cas presses in close, his breath warm against Dean’s face. Dean tips his head back, his lips parting.
Cas doesn’t refuse the invitation, closing the final inch of air separating them. Dean’s hands move of their own accord, up and up until his fingers are twisted in Cas’s hair, holding Cas just where he wants him. He doesn’t think this could ever get old: the heat and the sparks and the warmth that spreads from his toes right up to the tips of his ears every time Cas touches him. He could stay here all night, pressed against a rough stone wall with the cool night air creeping under his hoodie, as long as Cas’s lips never left his.
Uri coughs pointedly behind them. More than once. It takes a while for Dean to register the disruption, he’s so lost in Cas’s kiss.
Cas retreats with a sigh, brushing his thumb against Dean’s bottom lip before he takes a step backwards.
“This is not the safest place in the world for fornicating,” Uri declares sourly.
“We are not fornicating,” Cas says calmly, brushing his fingers through his hair in an attempt to repair the damage Dean has caused. Dean doesn’t know why he’s bothering, his hair pretty much always looks like he’s just rolled out of bed. It’s one of the things Dean loves about him. “But we do have dinner reservations.”
“We do?” Dean perks up.
“We do,” Cas assures him. “So, stop glaring at Uri for doing his job.”
"Can I glare at him because he's a dick?"
Cas takes hold of Dean's hand again, tangling their fingers together, and squeezing. "I think you are trying to bait me into growling at you."
Dean blushes despite himself, and changes the subject. "So, where are we going for dinner? You know I'm on a diet, right?"
"That's ridiculous," Cas says. "And I refuse to condone the insane idea that you are not absolutely perfect the way you are."
"So, we're not going to a salad bar then?"
"No, Dean," Cas assures him. "We are not going to a salad bar."
Cas drags him on a mystery tour through the side streets until they stop outside a burger joint, and Dean wonders how he managed to fall for someone so damn perfect. Inside, still mindful of his diet, Dean orders a plain burger with salad instead of fries. Cas, narrows his eyes and orders extra fries and onion rings, placing them (when they arrive) in the middle of the table and nodding approvingly when Dean eats most of them. “You’re too skinny,” he tells Dean. “You don’t eat enough.”
“The camera puts on twenty pounds, man. A couple of extra burgers is all it needs for the fans to start calling me chubby and the directors to send me to detox.”
Cas tuts. “You have a crazy job.”
“Says the bodyguard,” Dean points out. “Hardly the most sensible or safe profession.”
“I own the agency,” Cas replies. “I usually spend most of my day in an office. That’s pretty safe, apart from stapler related injuries.”
Dean nods. “Yeah, those staplers are deadly sons of bitches, huh?”
Cas knocks his foot against Dean’s ankle. “You’re a real brat, Dean Winchester,” he says, leaving his foot tucked behind Dean’s ankle. Dean flushes and looks down at the remains of his meal, his appetite fading. “You… uh… you want to get out of here, Cas?”
“You don’t want dessert?” Cas asks.
“Not here,” Dean says, a playful smile tugging at his lips.
“I don’t think we have anything as delicious as fresh strawberry cheesecake back at the house,” Cas says, not quite following Dean’s line of thought.
“No?” Dean says, staring at Cas’s lips. “I’m not so sure about that.”
“Well, I think there may be a tub of Ben and Jerry’s in the… oh… oh!” Cas says, finally clueing in to what Dean’s talking about. Standing up so quickly he almost upsets the table, Cas has the bill paid and Uri fetching the car around before Dean can tease him.
“Dean, do you think we should slow down?” Cas asks breathlessly.
Dean looks up at Cas in disbelief.
“This is… um… just happening… quick… very quickly.”
Well, it had taken over an hour to drive back to the house during which time Cas and Dean had barely touched thanks to Uri’s off-putting presence in the car. And then they’d had to make it past Charlie and Rachel. Quick isn’t exactly how Dean would describe their journey to the bedroom.
Dean takes a lingering look at Cas’s dick which he was so close to finally getting into his mouth and kneels back on his feet with a scowl. “And you think bringing it up just before I suck your dick is good timing?”
Cas throws his arm over his eyes and groans. His dick slaps against his belly, angry red, not approving of Cas’s timing much either.
“No” Cas says, muffled. “No, I think it may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. But if I don’t bring this up now I never will.”
Dean sighs; this is something they’re going to have to talk about. Flopping down onto his back on the bed beside Cas, Dean asks... although he really doesn’t want to.
“Bring what up?”
“We’ve known each other for barely two weeks.”
“Eighteen days tomorrow.” Dean points out helpfully.
“Eighteen days tomorrow,” Cas parrots dryly. “We’ve only been on one date. And we’re already having sex.”
Dean pouts. “Well, I’m trying to at least.”
“It’s just… I don’t usually move this fast.”
“You think this is fast?” Dean can’t but say, his eyebrows leaping into his hairline. “You’ve never met a guy and just dragged him back to your place and—“
“Yes,” Cas snaps. “Yes, of course. But that’s… different.”
“Different, how?” Dean asks, words clipped with impatience, and erection sadly waning as his mood sours.
“Different because they were one-night stands and I didn’t care about them like I… like I care about you,” Cas admits and Dean’s impatience evaporates.
“If it helps, I care about you too,” Dean says. “This isn’t just a one-night stand or even a quick fling, for me. Look, I don’t… I don’t really do feelings and romantic shit or even relationships. Gordon, he was the last time I really tried to, and that didn’t turn out so well. I don’t claim to know what the fuck we’re doing here, but I do know that I’ve never felt… whatever the hell feelings I feel for you with anyone else before.”
“Wonderful, Dean, thank you. That was truly illuminating. You should have been a poet.”
Dean slaps the back of his hand across Cas’s belly. “Don’t be a dick, I’m trying here.”
“Sorry,” Cas says, grabbing Dean’s hand, quite possibly so Dean doesn’t slap him again. “Please continue.”
“Please continue?” Dean leans up on his elbow and turns to pin Cas with his most scathing glare. “Look buddy, five minutes ago I was all ready to suck your dick and now you’re expecting me to what… write a soliloquy on my feelings for you?”
Cas smirks. “You are incredibly easy to rile up.”
“I hate you,” Dean huffs, rolling onto his back again.
“I’m sorry,” Cas says, turning and kissing Dean on the temple. “Really, very, sorry.” He places a single kiss on Dean’s face for every word.
Dean grunts. This is not how he saw the night going. Hie ego is admittedly a little bruised.
“I guess I just want to know what we’re doing here,” Cas admits, rolling onto his side so he can look Dean in the eye. “Because I know it’s insane, but, Dean, I’m falling for you. Falling hard and fast. And if this is just a quick fling for you—“
Dean opens his mouth to repeat that’s it’s not but Cas gently shushes him with a finger across his lips.
“If it is, then that’s fine, because you are quite possibly the hottest man I’ve ever met and I want to do some incredibly filthy things to you, but I need to know if that’s all this is because I don’t want either one of us to get hurt here. I’d rather know if there was a timer on this relationship.”
And that’s actually fair, Dean acknowledges. And he would also like to know about all the filthy things Cas wants to do.
“I don’t know,” he says, when Cas moves his finger. And Cas’s face falls, his eyes dimming.
“Wait,” Dean says, pushing Cas over and climbing on top of him. “I don’t know… how this is going to work when I finish filming here. I don’t know how the logistics are going to work, but I’m in this for the long haul, Cas, I promise. You’re not the only one that’s falling stupidly hard and fast.”
Cas’s smile is blinding. Dean’s is matching.
Cas lifts his head up and presses his lips to Dean’s in a sweet and gentle, almost chaste kiss. Dean’s the one who makes it dirty, opens his mouth a little, slips his tongue against Cas’s.
Cas is flushed and bright eyed when Dean pulls back and stares down at him.
“Dean...” Cas licks his lips.
“I’d like you to suck my dick now, please?”
Dean snorts and rolls back over to his side of the bed, set on revenge even if his dick is begging him not to be that dumb. “Sorry, Cas, I wouldn’t want to rush into anything… this is only our first date after all.”
The mattress squeals like a dying hog as Cas all but leaps on top of him pinning him to the bed. Dean laughs so hard he almost headbutts Cas. And after Uri coughs, fake and loud, right outside their bedroom door a second later, Dean knows any shot at sex is long gone. In the end, Dean and Cas do nothing but talk quietly, words mingling with their breaths, and kiss until they end up falling asleep side by side, fingers entwined and Dean’s head on Cas’s shoulder. It’s the best first date Dean has ever had.
Dean wakes up the next morning, squirming under Cas’s mouth as he lays a trail of butterfly light kisses down Dean’s belly.
“Good morning,” Cas says, looking up at him through his eyelashes.
“It looks like it could be,” Dean says, combing his fingers through the dark waves of Cas’s, even messier than normal, bedhead.
Cas scrapes his teeth gently over the knob of Dean’s hip bone. “I thought perhaps I could make up for last night.”
“You don’t have anything to make up for,” Dean assures him, his voice still rough from sleep.
“So, you don’t want me to suck your dick?” Cas grins. “That is a shame.”
“Hey, now.” Dean grabs Cas’s shoulder, the ink jumping under his fingers as Cas’s muscles flex. “I never said that.”
Cas hums as though giving the matter some thought, paying no attention to Dean’s morning wood twitching impatiently between them.
“Cas,” Dean whines.
Cas presses another kiss to Dean’s hip bone. One to the top of his thigh. “Dean,” he teases back, looking up, blue eyes sparkling before kissing the inside of Dean’s thigh.
Dean sucks in a sharp gasp and spreads his legs a little wider. Cas licks down the seam of his groin, and then ghosts his mouth across the head of Dean’s dick. Dean whimpers, closes his eyes, and stops breathing… just waiting for—
“Wassup, bitches!!” Charlie yells from the other side of the door, thumping, bumf bumf, against the wood. “Time to get moving, we’re on a schedule here.”
Cas rolls over onto his back, with a groan. Dean thinks he might actually cry.
“You’re fired,” he yells back at Charlie.
“Okay, but that means you don’t get coffee. Or bacon.”
“There’s bacon?” Dean lifts his head from the bed and sniffs deeply to see if he can smell the tell-tale goodness.
“If there’s any left by the time you get your pants on. And only if I’m not fired,” Charlie shouts from the hallway.
“Fine,” Dean concedes. “You’re not fired.”
Dean hears Charlie whoop as she clomps down the stairs rather louder than she climbed up.
“God, you’re easy,” says Cas on the bed beside him.
“Not that easy,” Dean sighs. “Or you would have sucked my dick already.”
Cas sits up and gives Dean a shove towards the edge of the bed. “Come on, coffee.”
“And bacon,” Dean says.
“You’re apparently on a diet,” Cas points out, cruelly. “No bacon for film stars.”
“If I quit do I get bacon and blow jobs?”
“No,” Cas says, solemnly. “You get sued by Crowley.”
“Fuck,” says Dean with feeling.
“Not yet,” says Cas, slapping at Dean’s ass when he finally stands up. Dean’s dick twitches eagerly in response and he looks down at it sadly. “Sorry, buddy, not this morning.”
Cas snorts. “For an Oscar winning actor you’re a huge dork.”
“Meh,” Dean shrugs and opens the wardrobe to see if there’s a clean pair of pants hiding somewhere. “That’s why you love me.”
Dean freezes as soon as the words leave his mouth. It’s too soon. Far too soon. Just because Cas said he might have feelings for Dean doesn’t mean he loves him.
And Dean doesn’t ever say the L word. He doesn’t know how. He was with Gordon for months and the word never once popped into his head, never mind left his mouth. His stomach lurches as Cas goes deathly still behind him.
“Sorry,” Dean says, spinning around. “I didn’t mean—“
Cas is standing with his pants pulled halfway up his thighs. Deer-in-the-spotlights look on his face.
“God, we haven’t even… I mean we haven’t done anything more than kiss and… and I’m such a fucking failure of human being… obvious you don’t… you couldn’t lo… lo—“
Dean can’t even say the word any more.
Cas straightens up slowly, pulling his pants up around his hips. “If I did,” he says, not taking his eyes off Dean, “would that be a problem? In theory. Because you know, we’ve only known each other for two weeks.”
“Eighteen days,” croaks Dean,
“Eighteen days,” Cas says, patiently. “So, it would be crazy to say the L word already, but… maybe...”
A heavy silence hangs in the air, unspoken words that both men hear as loud and clear as the beating of their hearts.
It’s Dean who breaks first, “Maybe.” He nods. “I think… maybe… ”
Cas nods and smiles, big and gummy and lighting up his whole face. “Maybe.”
It’s crazy in a hundred different ways, and so is the fluttering in Dean’s chest but he thinks the potential promise in that ‘maybe’ is better than any blowjob. Even if his neglected dick disagrees.
“And,” Cas says, walking around the bed until he is just inches away from Dean. “You are not a failure of a human being. If anyone else said that about you I would feel inclined to punch them. Do not put yourself down.”
Dean tries to look away, but Cas won’t let him, hooking his finger under Dean’s chin and holding him steady. “I don’t know why you think so poorly of yourself, but I swear I will do everything I can to make you see yourself as others see you. As I see you.”
“Cas.” Dean swallows.
Cas holds Dean still and leans forward, pressing a kiss, gentle and soft, against his lips. Dean’s eyes flutter shut and the tension in his chest melts away.
The impatient rap on the door brings it straight back three seconds later. “Castiel.” Uriel’s deep voice is filled with impatience. “There are business matters that require your attention.”
Cas sighs, his forehead resting against Dean’s momentarily.
“Maybe we could both quit,” Dean suggests, jokingly. Jokingly in the way that he knows they couldn’t even if secretly he would like nothing better.
Cas only sighs deeper in response as he steps back, reluctantly, his eyes lingering on Dean’s mouth. “If I didn’t think your brother would kill me, I might consider it,” he says eventually, turning away.
“I think you could take Sammy,” Dean says, but he’s distracted again by the intricate artwork covering Cas’s back. He still hasn’t had a chance to examine it closely. To trace the feathery lines of the inked wings with his fingers, with his lips, his tongue, the way he wants.
He doesn’t gather his wits enough to start moving himself until Cas slips a shirt on.
Showered and breakfasted, well… caffeinated at least, Dean’s second and final day off turns out to be fully booked.
“You know about this,” Charlie assures him as she leads him to the car. “It’s in your calendar on your phone.”
She’s right, about it being in his calendar, but entirely wrong if she thinks Dean ever checks his calendar.
First, he has a photo shoot with a young photographer he and Sam met last year. The guy’s smart and insanely talented and under other (Cas-free) circumstances Dean wouldn’t complain too hard about losing his day off. But Cas apparently has shit to do — I own the business, Dean, I occasionally have to act like it — and Dean doesn’t even have his company to pass the two hour car journey to get to the photographer’s location.
Thankfully, he does have Charlie with him, because she’s infinitely more fun to spend time with than Uriel who’s his main protection for the day. Hannah, the designated driver, is even quieter and more reserved than usual when Uri is around.
Whether it’s in the car discussing with Charlie why video games always end up as disappointing movies, or playing Blue Steel for three hours, Dean gets the impression that Uri just generally disapproves of him. Which… whatever, but Dean is paying the guy for God’s sake, he could do without the judgement. Uri doesn’t actually say anything that Dean can call him out on, it’s just his constant glowering presence.
Even later, when Charlie takes him to a kids hospice — which he does remember agreeing to visit, even if he didn’t remember the exact date — Uri doesn’t lighten up either. He hovers around the hallways while Dean spends a few hours chatting with the kids and their parents, as well as some of the staff.
Dean’s always nervous about doing this kind of things. Not because he doesn’t want to do it, but because he doubts how much good it does. He’s just an actor after all, a stranger to these people. Who the fuck wants a stranger visiting them or their kid when they’re ill. But, as usual, when he’s talking and joking around with the kids, watching their faces light up when he uses his robot-bugs voice, or making their moms, and on occasion their dads, blush, he forgets to be self-conscious.
And, as usual, despite his initial reservations, he ends up staying far longer than he expects, making sure to take the time to meet anyone who wants to talk to him, which to his surprise seems to be nearly everyone.
His favorite moment, or the most special anyway, is the time he spends with a kid, a boy, Lewis… maybe six years old, with big brown eyes and floppy hair that reminds Dean of a young Sammy. The kid’s not doing so well, but his smile when he sees Dean is bright enough to convince Dean he’s not intruding. His parents are obviously tired, their eyes watery and red, and they sit at the side of the room together holding hands as Dean talks to Lewis, urging him out of his shyness until he’s telling Dean all about his favorite storybook.
Dean spends a good thirty minutes, talking and then reading to him until Lewis’s eyes start to droop, and of course he’s happy to take photos with him and his parents when they ask. It's literally the least he could do considering how rough a time this young family is going through, but when the mom clasps Dean’s hand and thanks him, he thinks that even if he only helped for a few minutes it’s the best thing he’s done in weeks.
Dean’s exhausted by the time they leave. Charlie’s unusually quiet, and Uri’s pissed that they’re almost two hours behind schedule, snapping at Hannah, and calling Cas to bitch. It doesn’t make for the most comfortable journey back to the cottage.
“You okay?” Cas asks, when they all troop in, feet dragging.
“Sure,” Dean says, but his smile is a little forced and his eyes itchy. It’s barely eight pm and Dean needs to eat and have a look over the shooting schedule for tomorrow again, but all he really wants to do is collapse into bed with Cas by his side.
Cas makes omelettes, listening intently as Charlie tells him about the hospice, the work that they do and the families that they help.
“It sounds sad,” Cas notes, sliding Dean’s plate in front of him.
“It’s not, though,” Charlie says. “The staff are amazing and the atmosphere is happy, hopeful even. Most of the kids are just there for a few days or a week at a time, they enjoy it and it gives their parents a break, or just the support when they need it.”
“But the children go there to die?” Cas says, and he’s not being a dick, it is what everyone thinks.
“Yeah,” Dean says. “They sometimes do. But… it’s hard to explain, Cas. It’s like, the place is just so full of happiness and love, there’s no time or place for everyday bullshit. Making the kids happy is all that counts. And when they do pass away, they go peacefully and comfortably surrounded by people who love them. It’s fucking heartbreaking but… I dunno…” Dean shrugs, not sure what he’s really trying to say.
Cas’s eyes go soft as he looks at him and Dean’s cheeks color. Thankfully Charlie takes up the conversation, telling Cas all about the fundraiser the hospice is doing to raise money to be able to offer palliative care nurses that can visit families in their own homes. Dean’s already messaged Sam about quietly donating so he concentrates on looking at the shooting schedule for the next day, and his script, and keeping his eyes open. He doesn’t complain when Cas suggests an early night. But he does complain when Cas heads towards his own room.
“You’re exhausted,” Cas points out.
“Yeah,” Dean can’t argue, even if he hasn’t really done much all day.
“And we have an early start tomorrow.”
Dean rubs at the back of his neck.
“I don’t think you are up for anything energetic tonight?” Cas raises his eyebrows suggestively which is more adorable than sexy.
“Yeah.” Dean shrugs, looking down at his boots. “You’re right, I guess, but— “
“I’d still kind of like the company. Your company.” Dean says. It’s as close as he’ll get to admitting he likes to cuddle. Cuddle with Cas in particular. Although even with Gordon, and Anna and Cassie before that, Dean liked the feeling of a body next to him in bed. Enjoyed a hand clasped in his, the warmth of legs tangled together under the sheets. Gordon called him clingy. And a girl. Laughed at Dean’s need for contact after sex when all he wanted to do was smoke a cigarette before he left. Cassie and Lisa thought Dean was cute. Until they realized he was also an asshole.
Cas seems to understand though because that soft look returns to his eyes and Dean’s insides try to rearrange themselves.
Dean doesn’t always sleep well, but that night after tracing the wings of Cas’s angel just because he wants to and because Cas allows him to without complaint, he falls asleep with his nose tucked into the back of Cas’s neck and his knees tucked against Cas’s thighs. He doesn’t wake until his obnoxious phone alarm goes off. Cas’s arms are wrapped around him, his mouth blowing puffs of air into Dean’s hair. He’s never been the little spoon before. It’s not horrible.
Filming on location is chaos. Organized chaos, but chaos nevertheless. Dean just goes where he’s told, when he’s told and tries to avoid tripping over anything. He does a bit of acting too, occasionally.
Four days in and everyone seems to be finding their feet. The crew’s working together well, everyone is loosening up around Dean, his Oscar win forgotten around the time he fell on his face playing soccer with the guys while they were waiting for a lighting rig to get fixed. Crowley’s still barking orders, but he’s stopped threatening to castrate people so Dean reckons it’s all going swimmingly.
Cas isn’t so keen on the change in location. The rehearsal halls were enclosed, had their own security cameras and guard, and were easy to keep watch over. Filming on location, with dozens of crew, plus extras coming and going… the situation is not so easy to control. Dean is not so easy to control.
“Please, Dean,” he says, hands on his hips. “Do not wander off. “
“I didn’t,” Dean says. “I swear. I told Alfie I was going to the catering tent.”
Cas sighs, exasperated. “And where is Alfie?”
“Um,” Dean looks around. “Not here?”
“Is that perhaps because this is not the catering tent?”
Dean holds up the apple in his hand. “I decided I wasn’t that hungry.”
Cas shakes his head. “You ditched him.”
“Not really?” Dean smiles broadly in what he hopes is a winning manner.
Cas narrows his eyes.
“Okay,” Dean says, throwing himself down on the small couch in his trailer. “I ditched him. I admit it. I just wanted five minutes to myself, that’s all.” Plus, Alfie had finally plucked up the courage to talk to Cally, the cute assistant with the blue hair, and Dean didn’t want to disturb them. He’s not going to rat the kid out to his boss, even if his boss is Dean’s boyfriend… maybe… kind of.
“Dean,” Cas says. “You have to stop doing this. You’re driving me to distraction.”
Cas shakes his head. “Not in a good way.”
“In a bad way?” Dean’s smirk doesn’t fall from his lips. “What you gonna do about that? You gonna spank me, Cas?”
Cas glares and closes the short distance between them until he’s standing at Dean’s feet, looking down at him. Dean really wants to grab Cas’s tie and tug him down to his level.
“Would you like that, Dean?” Cas growls. And Jesus Christ, but Deans dick goes rock hard in his pants. It’s Cas’s turn to smirk. It looks good on him.
“You’re an ass,” Dean says, adjusting himself so he’s not chafing.
“You started it,” Cas points out, and finally sits down beside him on the couch, his thigh pressing up tight against Dean’s which does nothing to help Dean’s chafing situation. “How long before you’re due back?”
Dean looks at the clock on his wall and with a heavy heart admits, “five minutes.”
As if to emphasize that point a PA knocks on his trailer door right at that second. “Five minutes, Mr. Winchester.”
“It’s Dean, Jake, just Dean,” Dean yells back. He’s told the kid this at least seven times.
“You should eat your apple,” Cas says, nudging him in the side.
“I’d rather you kiss me,” Dean replies, hopefully.
For once, Cas doesn’t waste time arguing. Perhaps it’s because Cas has been on his phone for hours and they’ve barely seen each other all day, or perhaps it’s because Dean’s just plain irresistible. Either way, Dean has no complaints; Cas’s kisses are the best part of his day. Unfortunately, it’s not long until there’s another bang and a Mr. Winchester being yelled at the door and Cas’s soft lips retreat. He drags Dean up with him when gets to feet, then brushes his thumb across Dean’s bottom lip. “You haven’t eaten.”
“I really don’t care.” Dean leans in to kiss Cas again, just a light press of lips. “Priorities, right?”
The knock at the door becomes more frantic and Dean sighs.
“Perhaps you will finish early enough that we can spend some time together alone tonight,” Cas says, giving Dean a gentle shove towards the door.
Dean hopes so. The cottage is only an hour or so drive away from this first location so they have at least been able to commute easily, but they’ve been working long days, fourteen hours at least, and all they’ve had time to do is collapse into bed before falling asleep. No matter how willing, how really fucking desperately willing, Dean is to jump Cas’s bones in theory, in practice, he doesn’t even have the energy to jerk off. A few stolen kisses in his trailer don’t begin to make up for that disappointment.
“God, I hope so,” Dean grumbles, as he follows Cas out the door. “I’m sure Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner were having more sex than this.”
“What?” Cas says, turning his head and frowning.
“What?” Dean replies, innocence radiating from his toothy smile.
Cas rolls his eyes. “One of these days I will watch that movie.”
“You should; Kevin Costner… quite the looker back in the day,” Dean says, then slapping Cas’s ass as he lengthens his step to walk past him, adds. “Your ass is perkier though.”
“Winchester, nice of you to join us,” Crowley shouts before Cas has a chance to respond. It’s probably for the best.
The don’t finish early that day. Bela has a half dozen lines that she can’t get through without messing up at least once. By the time she gets it right the light is all but gone, and the crew are past finding it funny. So’s Dean if he’s honest, but he tries to keep the atmosphere light anyway. There’s weeks of filming to go, months; no good will come from fostering a grudge or encouraging a toxic climate. Bela’s not messing up on purpose, and maybe this will encourage her to be more prepared in future. Dean really fucking hopes so.
It’s been a long day, and Dean’s a weird mix of tired and antsy. He’s also utterly fed up that despite Cas being around all the time, Dean still hasn’t been able to get his hands on him. It’s the most frustrating kind of tease. He’s frustrated enough that he’s willing to throw caution and self-restraint to the wind and blow Cas in his trailer as soon as Crowley calls it a day.
“Dean,” Cas says, his hands wrapped around Dean’s biceps as Dean pushes him up against the inside of his trailer door. “Charlie and Alfie are waiting for us.”
“I don’t care,” Dean says, placing a kiss on the underside of Cas’s jaw.
“Everyone is leaving. Security will be checking all the trailers are secure soon.”
“I don’t care.”
Cas’s hands grip Dean’s arms tighter when he attempts to sink down to his knees. “You really want our first time to be a quickie in your trailer?”
Dean huffs. “At this point I just want our first time to be sometime this century.”
Cas chuckles.“You’re such a drama queen.”
Dean gives up, and takes a sullen step back. He doesn’t pout.
“Are you pouting?” Cas asks.
“No,” Dean says, not sulking either.
“And you’re not sulking either, I suppose?”
Dean sticks his tongue out at Cas because he’s exactly that mature.
Cas laughs. “Come on, you know this isn’t the time or place.”
Cas isn’t wrong, Dean’s just worried that he’s going to die of sexual frustration before they find the right time and place.
“Dean? Cas? Come on guys, we’re starving.” Charlie’s voice sounds incredibly close which means she’s standing at the other side of the trailer door. It’s a pertinent reminder of just how paper thin the trailer walls are.
“Jesus,” Dean says, grabbing his bag and his cell phone. “All I want is ten minutes to suck my boyfriend’s dick, is that really too much to ask?”
Charlie’s eyes are wide when Dean swings open the door, obviously having heard exactly what he said. Perfect.
“Not a word,” he says, pointing at her.
She purses her lips, mimes locking them and throwing away the key. She’s such a fucking dork. Reminds Dean of himself if he’s honest.
“Boyfriend?” Cas says, stepping out behind Dean and locking the door.
“And you can shut it too.” Dean face is so flushed by this point that it feels as though his ears are about to go up in flames.
“Aww, he’s such a charmer, Cas,” Charlie says, walking in step beside them.
“Indeed,” Cas says. “It’s what makes him so irresistible.”
“I hate you both,” Dean says, heading towards the car where Alfie is waiting for them. “Just FYI.”
He’s not serious, obviously. It’s actually kind of nice having people around that are comfortable enough to tease him. And by Cas and Charlie’s laughter they know perfectly well that Dean’s grumpy mood is about 90 percent an act.
A couple of hours later though, when Cas has to deal with an emergency, Dean’s bad mood is not an act at all. Cas is stuck on the phone trying to sort out whatever shit has gone down for hours, so late, in fact, that he doesn’t even crawl into bed with Dean.
“He didn’t want to disturb you,” Hannah explains to Dean. Dean grunts in response, but it’s not even six in the morning and he hasn’t had coffee yet, he figures he can get away with monosyllabic replies. And although he will never admit it, and it’s fucking ridiculous because they’ve only shared a bed for a few nights, he missed waking up with his head on Cas’s chest and Cas’s arm wrapped around his waist. He’s feeling all kinds of out of sorts.
“Uri will accompany you and Alfie this morning,” she continues as Dean pours himself a to-go mug of coffee and tries to shake himself out of his funk. “Charlie says she has a couple of things to deal with this morning so we figured it best to let Cas have a few hours’ sleep, and then he, and Charlie can both catch up with you later.”
Dean takes a sip of coffee and shrugs. “Sure, makes sense.”
The pair of them could use a break for at least a few hours anyway. Trailing around after Dean and dealing with all the crap that comes with him can’t be much fun.
“Are we ready to leave?” Uri’s standing by the door, glowering at his watch.
Dean nods, grabs his script, his coffee and his headphones so he can at least zone out in the car, maybe even nap.
Uri drives and Alfie sits up front alongside him with Dean in the back of the car. Dean pops in his earbuds, closes his eyes and lets Led Zeppelin wash over him. He’s shooting for the first time with Rowena today. And while she may be a sharp-tongued firebrand, she’s also smart and professional so at least Dean knows she’ll be prepared. As long as there are no technical issues, it should be an easy, straightforward, day. And with Cas catching up on his sleep now, with any luck, they’ll get a few hours together tonight while both of them are still awake enough to make the most of them. It’s something to look forward to at least.
Dean’s so zoned out that he doesn’t open his eyes until the car comes to a jerky stop. Even then, it takes a few seconds to shake the sleepy fugue from his head. The car’s windows are privacy tinted so Dean’s view of the outside isn’t that sharp, but he can tell they’re not at the location they’ve been at the last few days. Thinking maybe the reason they’ve stopped so suddenly is because there’s a problem with the car, he pops the buds out of his ears.
“Hey, what’s up? Did we break down?” His voice is still morning rough so when Alfie and Uri don’t respond, he figures they haven’t heard. He clears his throat a little and repeats himself, leaning forward to tap Alfie’s shoulder.
Alfie doesn’t flinch. Not at all. There’s something about that, and the angle of his head, his slumped shoulders, that sets alarm bells ringing for Dean. Instantly, he’s wide awake, totally alert. And when Uri ignores Dean’s question in favor of opening his door and climbing out of the car, Dean’s muscles tense in response. When Uri opens Dean’s door, Dean jumps out of the car, wary, ready to bolt.
Uri must see it in his eyes because he doesn’t waste a second even pretending that this is normal. His hand goes to his inside suit jacket pocket and he brings out a syringe.
Dean doesn’t begin to understand what’s going on, but his instincts are screaming at him. He may not be as tough or clever as the characters he plays on screen, but he grew up hard and fast and he knows when to run, and when and how to fight. Uri’s bigger than him, stronger, built like a heavyweight boxer, but Dean would bet his life that he’s quicker than the bodyguard.
Dean doesn’t bother swinging a punch or even trying to knock the syringe out of Uri’s hand, instead he takes off.
Uri curses behind him.
The problem is, Dean has no idea where he is. They’ve pulled in at the side of a road that’s more of a one lane dirt track, trees on one side behind a fence, and a lake on the other. It doesn’t leave Dean much option but to try and outrun Uri. It’s more instinct than plan.
Unfortunately, Uri is surprisingly fast for a big guy. Dean’s managing to keep ahead of him, but he’s not breaking away. He thinks, hopes, that he’s fitter, has more stamina than the beef-necked bodyguard because that’s the only way he can see this ending remotely well.
It’s a goddamn sheep of all things that dashes his hopes. He’s seen them before, wandering out of their fields and grazing at the side of these narrow lanes, fucking things are suicidal the way they run out in front of cars. This sheep is either thicker or more evil than most because when it looks up and sees Dean tearing down the road with Uriel not far behind him, instead of bolting, or at least staying where it is, it baas loud enough to scare the birds from the trees and runs right for Dean.
Dean barely manages to dodge out of its way, but in doing so he slides through the mud at the edge of the road, his feet go out from under him and no amount of flailing can stop him from landing on all fours.
He doesn’t even manage to push up onto his feet before Uri is on him, shoving him down, a knee in his kidneys, a forearm across the back of his neck and then the stab of a needle.
Dean bucks and swears but Uri doesn’t budge. “This is what you deserve, Dean Winchester,” he says into Dean’s ear, as darkness sweeps through his head. “You corrupted a good man, whore.”
“You’re insane,” Dean mumbles, but the words are thick and cloying on his tongue and he checks out before Uri can respond.
He wakes up, slumped on a stone floor, in a windowless room, barefoot and naked from the waist up, his wrists bound behind his back. And it not Uri’s voice hissing in his ear.
“Dean, Dean, Dean… have you missed me, boy?”
The thing about Dean, Castiel thinks, is… is… well, he’s everything. It’s preposterous. It’s completely and utterly ridiculous. It’s, as Dean would say, batshit crazy. But it’s true. He’s only known Dean for a matter of weeks, but Cas knows he’s in love with the impossible man.
If pushed, he’ll admit he’s had a crush on Dean Winchester for years. And straight-laced, down-to-earth, eternally pragmatic, Castiel Novak doesn’t do crushes. But, from the first second he saw Dean, in some crappy little horror movie, there was something about the actor, a spark of magic, that made Cas’s heart skip a beat. The light in his eyes, the freckles dancing across his nose, the twist in his lips when he smiled… it’s impossible to explain.
But still, it was just a harmless crush. Until Cas actually met Dean, and that crush turned into something much, much worse. Because Dean isn’t just drop dead gorgeous and an amazing actor, he’s also kind, sweet and funny, surprisingly vulnerable, and totally infuriating. Cas swears he tried to keep a professional distance at first, but really, his heart never stood a chance.
It’s hard for him to believe, sometimes impossible to believe, that Dean could feel even remotely the same way about him. Cas knows he isn’t unattractive; he doesn’t struggle to find partners, even if his job, and his background, makes it difficult to maintain any kind of relationship. But, he’s no movie star.
And Cas knows, deep down, he doesn’t deserve the love of a man with a soul as bright and warm as Dean Winchester’s. Cas is no angel. Despite his name. Despite his tattoos. He’s done things he regrets. Followed orders that hurt people, innocent people. And though he always believed he was acting for the greater good, he doubts the truth in that now. Sure, he drew the line eventually. Refused orders. Walked away. Blew the whistle on exactly how far off mission his superiors had strayed. But it was too little. Too late. No matter the good he tries to do now, the ways he tries to make up for his mistakes, Cas will always be tarnished by the sins of his past.
Sometimes, when Dean smiles at him, tender and soft, Cas feels like he’s Icarus attempting to fly too close to the sun. And, although he knows he’ll never survive the fall, when it inevitably comes, it’s far too late to save himself. In fact, the moment he saw Dean standing in that airport, exhausted, disheveled, and lost, Cas knew he was screwed
So, when Uriel calls him and says that Dean has disappeared, Cas thinks it’s natural that he loses the plot.
According to Uriel, Dean walked away of his own volition; stormed out of the car after arguing with Uriel, took off without looking back.
Alfie apparently slept through the whole thing.
It’s bullshit. Uriel is lying. Cas doesn’t know why. Can’t understand why one of his oldest colleagues would betray him. But he knows one thing for sure. Uriel is going to regret it.
Unless Dean’s hurt. Then, he’s not going to live long enough to regret it.
Alastair. Even after all these years, Dean still remembers his voice. The hiss of it slides under Dean’s skin, sharp like a knife, splitting open old wounds.
The man standing over Dean doesn’t look much different from the way Dean remembers him. His face is possibly more gaunt, his beard a little grayer, and there are a few extra lines around his beady eyes, but Dean would know him anywhere. He doesn’t give Alastair the satisfaction of acknowledging that though. He doesn’t want the bastard to know he’s still the leading character in most of Dean’s nightmares. He looks up at the man with as blank an expression as he can muster.
“Do I know you?”
Alastair throws his head back and laughs, like every cliché movie bad guy Dean’s acted against, then he takes his cell phone out from the pocket of his pants and takes a photograph of Dean. “You think you can fool me, Dean? I know you remember me, and all the time we spent together. The special relationship we had. Come on now, you remember how to smile for me, pretty boy, don’t you?”
Dean scowls at the cellphone and debates keeping up the pretense, not sure how best to play this. If Alastair is the creep who’s been stalking him, which at this point looks pretty fucking likely, he could be in trouble here.
“Dude,” Dean says, eventually, deciding to go for casual rather than clever. “You took photos of me once or twice when I was a stupid kid. I wouldn’t say we had a special relationship.”
“Don’t underestimate yourself, Dean.” Alastair takes another picture before pocketing his cellphone and hunkering down so he’s at Dean’s level, staring him straight in the eyes. Dean does his best not to look away. “You were special, pet. My project. My muse. I had great plans for you.”
Dean swallows hard, his stomach twisting. Alastair is fucking insane. Even at eighteen years old, dumb and broke, Dean knew the guy was wacko. But he was also an expert at manipulation and coercion. He knew exactly how to press Dean’s buttons.
“Did you enjoy seeing those pictures in the newspaper, Dean?” Alastair asks, stroking a finger down the ridge of Dean’s cheekbone. Dean fights with himself not to flinch. “Or the one online? The one of you naked. I thought all your devoted fans deserved to see how very pretty you were before you made it big. How innocent. Of course, I kept a few pictures back for myself. For now, at least. Do you remember, Dean… that last photo shoot?”
Dean flushes. Of course, he remembers. Even if he’s spent the past twelve years trying to forget.
“You were beautiful… touching yourself for me. Making yourself come. The war of pleasure and fear on your face...” Alastair sighs and smiles, his eyes drifting skyward as he replays the memory. “ ...mmm, it was delicious. I could have eaten you up.”
That was the third and last time Dean had agreed to pose for Alastair. The first time had been uncomfortable and awkward, but Dean had been naked only from the chest up, and Alastair had kept his hands to himself. Afterwards, he’d handed Dean enough money to feed Sam for a week.
The second time, Alastair had persuaded Dean to strip down to a pair of boxers, and a goddamn cowboy hat of all things. Dean had grown more and more uncomfortable, especially when Alastair used any excuse to touch Dean, push him around into different poses. But still, Dean had smiled and laughed as ordered, before walking away with enough money to feed Sam for a couple of weeks and buy him new shoes and pants. Damn kid had suddenly sprung up like he’d been sleeping in fertilizer.
The third time… the third time, Dean doesn’t like to think about. Has never told anyone about. The third time was the biggest mistake of his life. Dad was supposed to be home already. With rent money. The landlord was pissed and Dean was desperate.
Alastair was happy to help. For the money he was offering, Dean knew he was going to end up naked. But fuck, it was just a few photos, hardly the end of the world, right? Alastair was manipulative and patient, and knew exactly how to get what he wanted. He gave Dean a couple of shots of something stronger than whisky to help him “relax”, and before Dean knew it, he was sitting, spread legged on a hay bale in Alastair’s studio, bare-ass naked and touching himself. Alastair talking to him from behind the camera, his words like ice sliding down Dean’s spine. “That’s it, Dean, good boy. Slower, now. Let me see you. Brush your fingers over those pretty nipples. Now, tug on your balls, that’s it, kiddo.”
He hadn’t laid a hand on Dean, not until the end when he wiped the come from Dean’s skin with a cloth. His breath hot and hands cold. “Next time,” he’d said, “next time I’ll let you play with some of my toys.”
Dean had taken the money and run. Not just from the room. He’d grabbed Sam and their bags, and hopped straight on a bus out of town. Sam had whined, and Dad had given Dean a black eye when he’d caught up with them, but for once Dean hadn’t cared. He had barely been able to look at himself in the mirror without feeling sick to his stomach. Not for months.
“You hurt my feelings, Dean, running off like that,” Alastair says to him now. “I had such great plans for you. I was going to make videos. You would have been famous.”
Dean snorts. “I did just fine without your help, thanks.”
Alastair sneers. “Oh, I know. I’ve been watching you for a very long time. Playing the action hero and the love interest, all very bland. You played the role of scared little twink much better. The all-American boy with blonde sun streaks in his hair and freckles on his nose. Do you know how beautiful you looked? How innocent. Until you came to the sound of my voice, that is. Did I ruin you, Dean?”
Dean laughs in Alastair’s face. “Innocent? Dude, you are deluded. I was eighteen years old. The train to Innocenttown, Virgincounty, was long gone.”
It’s a shock when Alastair punches him in the face, although, considering the circumstances, it shouldn’t be. The asshole doesn’t pull his punch either. It hurts like a son of a bitch, pain crashing from his jaw up through his whole skull. The bitter taste of blood trickles across Dean’s tongue, but he simply smiles back at Alastair, a macabre grin. “What’s wrong, Alastair, did you get your rocks off thinking I was some pretty boy virgin that you’d corrupted? Sorry to burst your bubble.”
Alastair hums. “I should have known you were a whore. You were so willing.”
“I wasn’t fucking willing,” Dean snaps, before he can stop himself.
“No?” Alastair tilts his head, a smirk pulling at his lips. “Perhaps not, but you were easily persuaded. Anything for your baby brother, eh Dean? How is Sammy? Enjoying his honeymoon with his pregnant bitch?”
Dean almost bites his tongue trying not to tell Alastair to go screw himself. The man’s smirk only grows.
“What do you want?” Dean says instead, tugging at the plastic ties secured around his wrists. An action which does nothing except force the plastic deeper into his skin.
“I want what I’ve waited for all these years, Dean; you… in front of my camera. Begging and bleeding. You’re finally going to make me famous.”
Dean yanks at the cuffs again, a gut reaction to the fear crawling up his throat.
“You know, Dean,” Alastair says, standing up and strolling across to a table standing at the other side of the windowless room. “I’ve watched every single movie, every show you’ve ever made, and I don’t think you’ve ever nailed terrified quite as well as you are now.”
“Bite me, you dick,” Dean spits, and lunges awkwardly to his feet. He doesn’t have a plan, but he refuses to simply sit and play the passive victim. Alastair turns as Dean launches himself across the room. Dean tucks his head down and crashes into him, shoulder first, tumbling them both to the ground. Alastair lands underneath him, grunting when his back hits the floor.
Without the use of his hands, Dean is all but helpless. He’d half hoped, as much as he’d thought this through anyway, that Alastair might crack his skull off the stone floor and knock himself out. It was a long shot and, unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work out, but Dean doesn’t give up. When Alastair shoves him off, Dean knees him in the crotch. They tussle until both of them are breathing hard; Dean wriggling and throwing elbows, kicking, doing everything he can. Ultimately, it’s useless. All he does is tire himself out.
Before long, Alastair pins him to the floor, Dean’s naked chest pressed against rough stone. He thrashes and bucks, like a wild bronco, but Alastair’s going nowhere. “Are you quite finished?” he asks, his fist connecting with Dean’s ribs. There’s not much power behind the punch from this angle, but it still leaves Dean sucking in a pained whimper.
“I thought you were smarter than this,” Alastair hisses in his ear. “I mean, you were smart enough to skip town all those years ago. Smart enough to disappear. But then, I did manage to find you again, so, maybe not.” The weight disappears from his back, and Alastair’s fingers are digging bruises into his arms as he rolls Dean over.
“It took,” Dean pants, tries to swallow the taste of blood, thick in his mouth. “It took you long enough.”
Alastair back hands him across the cheek, almost casually, Dean’s neck still snaps to the side with the force of it, pain exploding across his face and his ears ringing.
“I could have grabbed you any time, Dean.” Spittle hits the bridge of Dean’s nose and that’s more disgusting than the blood dripping down his chin. “It was more fun to watch and wait, though. I almost caved once, almost grabbed you before the time was quite right. You were twenty-one, and in a bar, batting those girly eyelashes of yours like some cheap whore at guys who didn’t deserve you. And perhaps it was luck or maybe divine intervention, but who should I run into outside that bar? Who else was looking for you that night?”
Alastair’s eye’s shine with glee. Dean shivers, spine rattling against the cold stone.
“You know who it was, Deano, can you guess?”
Dan closes his eyes, wishes he could block his ears as easily. Alastair laughs, leans low enough over Dean’s face that his beard rasps against Dean’s neck. “It was your daddy, Dean. Home for once, and looking for you. What were the chances, huh?”
“You’re lying,” Dean says, prays.
“I’m not, Dean. I wouldn’t lie to you, not about something like this. I know how much you loved your daddy, even if he never loved you back. I mean, how could he when he always blamed you for your mommy leaving.”
“Fuck you,” Dean open his eyes and glares.
“But he was tough, your daddy, I’ll give him that. Never screamed, never cried, not even when he was bleeding out in the bed of my truck.”
“You’re lying,” Dean says, a whisper.
“I’m really not,” Alastair replies and Dean hears the conviction in his voice. The absolute, god-awful, truth.
It shouldn’t hurt, not so bad. John Winchester died nearly ten years ago. His body discovered in a dumpster behind a bar, two counties across from where the boys were staying. Bar brawl, the cops decided, barely pretending to care about some dead bum. They never caught who did it. Dean and Sam figured they didn’t try hard to find out, but there’s wasn’t a whole lot the young Winchester boys could do about it. Within months, Sam was heading to college and Dean was close to being spotted by a model agency. They mourned their daddy, Dean maybe more than Sam, but they moved on with their lives; his permanent absence setting them free rather than holding them back.
“I did you a favor, Dean.” Alastair says. “You should be thanking me. That man was a weight around your neck, look how far you boys have flown without him.”
Dean tries to blink back the tears pooling in his eyes, determined not to give the psycho the satisfaction.They fall anyway, rolling down his face without his permission. Alastair sneers, opens his mouth and drags his tongue up Dean’s cheek, licking the tear drops and blood from his skin.
“Delicious,” he crows. “You taste delicious, Dean.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Dean says, nausea curdling in his guts.
Alastair stands up abruptly, grabbing Dean’s biceps, and hauling him to his feet, slamming him against the wall, the back of his head cracking against the brickwork, hard enough to blind him for a moment.
“No more waiting, Deano,” Alastair says, wrapping one hand around Dean’s throat, his thumb pressing into Dean’s windpipe. “I’m done watching you throw yourself at people who don’t deserve you. The women, I didn't care about them. I knew they would never be enough for you. But Gordon Walker? That was too much. When I read those things he said, about how you threw yourself at him like a bitch in heat, the things you let him do to you, well, I knew I needed to find you again, take you in hand.”
Dean’s gasping for breath, his lungs screaming for air by the time Alastair’s hand drops from his throat. He feels himself sliding down against the wall, dark spots dancing in front of his eyes and legs giving way beneath him.
Alastair watches impassively as he sinks to his knees. “Be a good boy, Dean, and stay there while I get the camera set up. You want me to catch your good side, don’t you?”
Dean swallows hard, his throat burning, voice a broken rasp when he tries to speak. “If you actually think you’re gonna get away with this, then you’re fucking loony tunes. I’m not a broken kid anymore. I have people who care about me. People who’ll be looking for me.”
Alastair doesn’t stop what he’s doing, setting up a video camera on a tripod, adjusting the focus. “No, Dean you have people you pay to look after you. No one really cares. Not even your precious Sammy. You have to pay him to stay with you, don’t you.”
Dean shakes his head. “That’s not true. It’s not. Sam cares.”
Alastair strolls back over to Dean. “He cares about your money. About what you can do for him.”
“Bullshit,” Dean croaks, his throat stinging. “My brother loves me.”
“If you say so, Deano,” Alastair says. “So, where is he? About to come crashing through the door and rescue you? Oh no, he’s lying on a beach in the sun, probably with his new wife sucking his dick. Not thinking about you at all.”
Alastair is a lying, manipulative psychopath, and Dean’s arms tremble with the need to punch the sneer from his face. But, he figures arguing with the guy isn’t helping; the asshole enjoys it too much. Screwing with people’s head is one big game to him.
“Oh, and your security? If you think they’re going to come rescue you, you can think again. The problem with paying people to look after you, Dean? They’ll sell their services to the highest bidder. They aren’t looking for you. Not even Castiel.”
He’s lying. Dean knows he’s lying. Cas will be knocking down doors searching for him. Dean takes a deep breath in through his nose, steadies his breathing, and refuses to respond.
“You don’t believe me?” Alastair squats down in front of him. “You think your new boyfriend actually cares? You think a man like him is capable of that? You think he really gives a damn about anyone? That’s… that’s hilarious. What do you really know about him, Dean? About the things he’s done?”
Dean can’t hide the look surprise on his face, and although he masks it quickly, Alastair doesn’t miss it.
“You think he’s some kind of angel, Dean, a hero? He’s not. He was a soldier. A warrior. And the unit he served with… the things they did, the atrocities they committed...” Alastair shakes his head and smiles, wide and creepy as hell. “Let’s just say those boys are definitely not going to heaven.”
Dean rolls his eyes and then pins Alastair with a scathing glare. He’s an actor. A fucking awesome one. He’s done with this. With letting Alastair get to him. Or at least done with letting Alastair see that he’s getting to him. Dean might be screwed here, but he’s not going to beg and he’s done crying. Whatever happened in the past, is done. Whatever Cas did, and Dean doesn’t believe for one second it was anything unjust, is irrelevant. Cas is a good man. Dean believes that. He believes in Cas, more than he’s ever believed in anyone other than Sam. Nothing Alastair can say will make him doubt it.
Alastair’s eyes narrow, as though he can sense the change in Dean. Grabbing Dean's bicep, Alastair hauls him up again, and drags him across the room. Dean barely has a chance to get his feet underneath him, before Alastair is shoving him down once more, face first on the floor. Dean twists his head, just avoids smashing his nose, but his ears ring as the side of his head cracks against the concrete.
“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Alastair sing-songs, his nasal voice really grating on Dean now. “Too long. You’re mine. You always have been. You always will be.”
“No,” Dean spits back, bucking wildly when he feels Alastair’s weight on his back.
“Stop fighting me,” Alastair hisses into his ear. “It’s pointless. You’re only making this worse for yourself.”
Dean snaps his head backwards, fucking gleeful when he hears a crack, feels the crunch of bone. Alastair yells, rears back, his weight sliding off of Dean. Dean rolls over, ignoring the pain flaring across his shoulders at the awkward pull of muscles, tucks his thighs up to his chest and when Alastair lunges for him, kicks out with both feet as hard as he can, catching Alastair in the knees, hard enough to cripple him. At least temporarily.
Dean wastes a few seconds attempting to wriggle his hands out from underneath his ass, his chances of escaping so much higher if he could at least work his hands around and in front of him. He could probably manage it too, if he had time, but buckled knee or not, Alastair won’t be down for long. Dean tries one last time to work his arms out from under him. It’s a gamble that doesn’t pay off. Alastair is off balance and hurting, but he’s furious. Limping, the psycho makes a grab for a knife, a silver carving knife that’s sitting on the table, grips it tight and charges at Dean.
Dean can’t do much but duck and twist and try to body check Alastair when he comes for him. It’s an awkward fight; Dean’s determined and desperate, and Alastair is armed and deeply fucking insane.
Alastair gets a few swipes in at Dean, cuts blooming across his chest, his arm, but Dean, quick on his feet despite everything, manages to avoid the flashing glint of steel often enough to frustrate the maniac. He even manages to kick out the bastard’s knee again. He can’t keep up the dance forever though. The only thing saving him is probably the fact that Alastair doesn’t actually want to kill him. Yet.
“You’re just wasting time, Dean,” Alastair huffs, knife narrowly missing Dean’s arm when Dean dodges behind the camera tripod.
Dean smirks, and kicks the tripod over, the camera smashing to the floor.
“You idiot,” Alastair roars. Dean wishes he had his boots on so he could stomp on the damn camera too. “You think that’ll stop me?”
Dean doesn’t answer, too busy concentrating on staying out of Alastair’s reach. Looking for an escape route.
“How long do you think you can keep this up for, boy?” Alastair says, as Dean dodges him again, stepping behind the table. “There’s nowhere for you to go. No one to save you. You’re mine, Dean, just accept it.”
One eye on Alastair, Dean takes in what’s on the table; the terrifying array of knives, syringes, ropes, instruments that look more suited to a surgical theater. If he wasn’t convinced of Alastair’s psychopathic intentions before, he sure as hell is now. He sidles around the table as Alastair gets closer to him, like they’re playing a weird game of tag.
Dean stumbles, tripping over he doesn’t know what because he isn’t taking his eyes off the madman with the carving knife to find out. His back collides with the wall and he takes advantage of that to rub his wrists frantically against the rough brickwork, hoping to at least weaken the catch in the middle of the plastic ties.
He only has a few seconds before he has to dodge out of the way again, throwing himself sideways when Alastair dashes around the table and lunges for him. Dean’s just a fraction too slow this time and the knife slashes across his ribs. It’s the deepest cut so far, stings like hell and Dean hisses as he jumps back out of reach. Alastair smiles.
“You think I won’t gut you, boy? Right now? Watch you bleed out like I did your daddy?”
Dean’s pretty sure Alastair isn’t going to do that unless he has a camera set up to film it, so he can claim his fifteen minutes of fame, or simply to get his rocks off for ever after, but it’s not a theory he wants to test.
Dean’s not sure how long the cat and mouse game drags on for, long enough that Alastair’s blade catches him another few times, and blood loss starts to become a real worry. While he would like to hope that Cas is about to come bursting through the door to rescue him, he knows too well that real life isn’t like the movies.
“Give up, Dean.” Alastair edges closer again. “You’re just making this worse for yourself.”
“Worse?” Dean huffs. “You’re going to slice me up for your own entertainment. There’s not really a worse in this scenario.”
“Oh, trust me, Deano, there’s always a worse. You have no idea about the things I’ve dreamt about doing to you. All the creative ways I’ve imagined taking you apart. Such a shame I only get one shot at this.”
“Yeah, I’m crying for you here, buddy,” Dean says, and tries, not for the first time, to snap the cuffs behind his back. It’s probably futile, but all Dean can do is keep trying. He’s growing tired, weak, he knows he’s not going to be able to keep this up. He brushes by the table again, scrapes the cuffs against the edge as he goes, probably taking more skin off his wrists than damaging the cuffs, but it’s worth a shot.
This time he doesn’t move fast enough when Alastair charges at him. With the table at his back, he can only throw himself to the side, and when he ducks out of the way of the blade, he loses balance, landing awkwardly on one knee. It’s enough opportunity for Alastair to pounce and Dean ends up sprawled on his back with a knife pressed against his jugular.
“I could kill you right now if I wanted, Dean.” Alastair increases the pressure on the knife, the flash of pain telling Dean that he’s broken skin. Dean holds still, scared to swallow, to breathe. Alastair’s face is just inches from Dean’s, close enough that Dean can see the cold madness in his eyes. The complete lack of compassion, of empathy, of anything.
“You’re lucky I want to play first.”
Sure, Dean wants to say, he feels real lucky right now, with Alastair’s breath sour against his face.
“Don’t try anything else stupid, or as soon as I’m done with you, I’ll hunt down your brother and his bitch. Understand?”
Alastair, taking Dean’s blink as a yes, stands stiffly, limping on his injured knees, and dragging Dean up to his feet along with him. It’s last chance time. While his weight is still on his arms, with his hands squashed below him, Dean scrapes the cuffs frantically against the floor, and then as he stands, he pours every last scrap of energy he has into snapping them, and holy fucking miraculous shit, it works.
Dean freezes for a second, stunned, and then he takes a swing, catches Alastair right across his already bloodied nose. Howling, Alastair clutches at his face.
Dean runs for the door, almost crying in relief when the old brass handle turns in his clammy hands. Pins and needles burn through his fingers, spreading up his arms as his circulation returns, it’s nothing compared to the sting from the cuts, especially the one across his ribs. Dean ignores it all, focused solely on escape.
He slams the door behind him. It won’t stop Alastair but if it buys Dean a fraction of a second at this point then it’s worth it.
There’s no choice in which direction to take. Just a hallway lit by a single naked bulb leading to a narrow set of wooden steps going upwards. Dean takes off, bare feet slapping against the stone floor. His heart is pounding, drumming in his ears but he feels a weird kind of clarity. Fear, it turns out, sharpens the mind.
Dean runs. So does Alastair. Dean can hear his uneven gate stomping up the bottom of the stairs by the time he reaches the top. Finding himself in another hallway, he hesitates.
“There’s nowhere to go, Deano,” Alastair taunts from too close.
Dean ignores him, and sprints for a door at one end of the hallway. If it’s locked he could be fucked. If not, Dean’s positive he can outrun Alastair.
He almost panics when the door doesn’t open straight away, but there’s a key in the lock that just needs turned and a bolt that needs to be slid across and then, with Alastair lumbering down the hallway just behind him, Dean’s free. He bolts like the devil himself is on his tail.
He takes off without looking back, down a rough pebbled driveway. He’s no idea where he is… the middle of nowhere by the look of things. After a minute the drive leads to a road, single track and edged with dense firs. Dean turns left, not for any good reason; there’s no clue to which direction might lead to civilization or help the quickest, no houses in sight, no cars or signs. It’s a fifty/fifty gamble.
Dean mumbles a quick prayer under his breath and sprints. He presumes Alastair is following.
Running along the road is tearing up the soles of his feet, but when Dean veers to the side to run on the narrow verge, his skin is flayed by stinging nettles and thistles. He soon decides the road is the lesser of two evils.
By this point, he’s sure he must be leaving bloody footprints in his wake. And that thought almost stops him dead, because if he’s leaving a trail for Alastair to follow then it’s not going to matter much if he can outrun the psycho.
But, even with that idea prickling at his mind, Dean doesn’t spare a glance back over his shoulder, not until his chest is aching, his lungs screaming at him to stop. He still forces himself to keep going though, not to slow down, not until he comes to a bend in the road, only then does he look behind him.
There’s no one there. No sign of Alastair. That almost scares Dean more than the sight of the psychopath would have done. If he’s not there, where is he?What’s he planning?
A second later, Dean hears a car approaching and realizes what an idiot he is. Of course, Alastair has a car, how else would he have gotten them both out here. And of course, with a fucked-up knee, he would chase after Dean in a damn car rather than attempt to hunt him down on foot.
Dean looks around. The trees beside him are too densely packed to move through easily, but the other side of the road seems slightly more manageable. Once he gets past the barbed wire fence that is.
Dean takes a deep breath and runs for it. The growl of the car’s engine is drawing closer and he doesn’t have time to waste. The barbed wire takes a chunk of skin from his palm, rips his pants and scrapes his belly up, but Dean barely notices. He dives into the forest and ducks behind a thicket of trees, freezing when he hears the car passing by.
He stays frozen until it’s completely silent, the car engine faded into the distance, and then he starts moving again. At a slower but steady pace. Keeping himself hidden from the road as best as he can without losing sight of it. Fear is still urging him on, but now that he’s stopped running, his heart not hammering quite so urgently in his chest, Dean starts to notice the pain more. He’s a mess, covered in bruises and cuts, scratches and blisters. The gash across his ribs is still sluggishly bleeding, and there’s barely an inch of his skin that doesn’t have blood or dirt smeared across it. His feet ache more with every step he takes. He’s alive though. And free. Now, he just needs to stay that way.
Jaw set hard, Dean keeps going. Every now and then he risks easing out of the tree line and walking alongside the road for a few seconds, hoping to spot a house or sign of life. He doesn’t know what kind of car Alastair has though, so the few times he hears an engine in the distance, he crawls into the tightest or darkest hiding space he can find and holds his breath.
By the time the forest begins to thin out, the late afternoon sun has disappeared behind ominous dark clouds. Dean has to decide whether to stay beside the road and risk Alastair spotting him, or keep back amongst the underbrush and trees, and quite possibly end up lost.
The sound of another car approaching sees him hitting the ground again before he’s decided on the best course of action. This time he chances a look, lifting his face from the dirt just high enough to watch a black saloon drive slowly by. Suspiciously slowly, even for a shitty one-track road.
Dean holds perfectly still, not daring to twitch a muscle even once the car has passed by. A minute later he’s grateful for his caution when the car reverses slowly back up the road. His heart is thundering so loudly in his ears, Dean’s almost afraid the noise could give him away.
This time when the car disappears from sight, Dean commando-crawls across the rough ground — dirt and stones burrowing into his arms and belly — until he’s far enough back from the road to breathe a little easier.
He sits for just a minute, back again a tree trunk, knees pulled up to his chest, head in his hands, eyes clenched shut as a sudden wave of hopelessness washes over him. Tears itch behind his eyelids, and his chest feels like it’s trying to crush his heart.
Don’t give up.
In the immortal words of John Winchester: stop feeling sorry for yourself and man the fuck up.
Don’t give up.
He’s got too much incentive to keep going. Sammy. And Jessica. And the kid that’s going to grow up with the best fucking uncle in the word. And Cas. Damn right, Dean’s not going to give up when he’s so close to finding the kind of love he’s only ever pretended to know. He’s going to make it through this, and when he does, he’s going to sink into Cas’s arms and never goddamn leave.
Think about Cas.
Move your goddamn ass, Dean, John Winchester shouts in his head.
His muscles are trembling and every step hurts a little more, but he keeps going. Once or twice he thinks he hears a car, but they don’t sound as though they’re driving as slow as before and he’s far enough away from the road now that he can’t be seen. He hopes. He does worry that he’s letting rescue drive on by, but that worry is drowned out by the fear of Alastair stepping out of a car rather than a helpful stranger.
Eventually Dean sees a light flickering in the distance that soon turns into a smattering of lights. What looks like a cluster of houses. With a rush of relief-fueled adrenaline, Dean leaves the almost-invisible path through the trees that he’s been following and heads straight for them.
That’s his mistake.
The world falls away below his feet, literally.
He plummets, his heart leaping into his throat.
His hands scrabble at loose earth and his feet, bare and bloody, kick out trying to find purchase. He slides down maybe six feet before he manages to grab onto a twisted root and halt his fall. Twisting his fingers into the root, Dean looks down. There’s a drop of fifty feet, maybe more. It’s not a sheer cliff exactly, but the hillside is insanely steep and littered with rocks. Dean doesn’t rate his chances if he falls the rest of the way.
He looks around desperately for something to grab onto with his other hand, eventually managing to cling to a rock sticking out of the dirt. He tries to climb up but even with both hands, he just can’t get moving. Can’t get a toe-hold to push up. He clings on and curses at himself for his stupidity.
His shoulders start to burn, his fingers quickly going numb. There’s mud in his mouth and in his eyes and blood dripping down his body from fresh scratches and reopened wounds.
He looks down again, maybe the fall wouldn’t be so bad. His fingers cramp where they’re gripping the rock and he think maybe he could let go with that hand, just for a second, stretch them out.
And then he hears a noise. Footsteps. Soft, but unmistakable.
If it’s Alastair, Dean decides, he’s going to let go. He’d rather take his chances with the drop than let Alastair lay another finger on him.
Dean recognizes that voice. But doesn’t trust himself enough to believe his own ears.
Thinks that desperation must be causing him to hallucinate.
This time Dean takes a leap of faith, tips his head back and shouts up. “Cas?”
A second later, he almost weeps in relief when Cas’s beautiful head peers over the edge of the drop.
“Dean! I knew I saw something. God, I almost missed you. Jesus Christ. Here!” Cas turns his head, his voice rising. “He’s over here.”
“Cas,” Dean says again. To his shame, this time it comes out close to a sob. But then his fingers are slipping, and his relief is short lived. His stomach swoops and the only thing holding him up is one hand clasping to a twisted old root. And Jesus, but Dean doesn’t want to fall.
“Hold on, Dean,” Cas says and before Dean can stop him, the idiot’s climbing down, no rope to stop him falling, no one else to help. But Cas finds grip where there’s none, takes seconds to clamber down, reaches out and curls his fingers tight around Dean’s wrist. “Do not give up now,” he growls.
Dean can only stare. If he wasn’t half-dead with exhaustion and scared out of his mind he would be appreciating how insanely hot badass Cas was. Instead, he files it away for another time, does as Cas says and holds on, despite the blinding pain spreading from his fingertips down through his arms and across his shoulders.
“Just a few more minutes, Dean,” Cas says, his fingers tightening around Dean’s wrist. “I’m not going to let you fall. I will not let you go.”
Dean nods, and doesn’t take his eyes off Cas, not once. Not until, with the help of more hands, and a rope hastily cobbled together from two leather belts, he’s dragged up and onto solid ground.
He wants so badly to act like one of his movie characters, make a funny quip and laugh off the whole experience, but he just can’t. He’s shaking so badly he can’t even sit, never mind stand. His muscles are in agony and his skin burns like he’s been flayed. Tears and snot drip down his face and his shoulders shudder with emotion. He feels raw, in every sense.
Cas takes off the old denim jacket he’s wearing and places it carefully over Dean’s shoulders, then sits on the ground and pulls Dean’s head onto his lap. Dean lies there, curled on the ground, with his head pillowed on Cas’s thigh and closes his eyes in an attempt to prevent his tears from soaking through Cas’s jeans. Cas holds him gently, patiently, whispering soothing words and combing his fingers through Dean’s hair.
When Dean finally calms, opens his eyes and takes in his surroundings, he’s surprised to find they don’t have an audience.
“I sent everyone away for a few moments,” Cas says, reading Dean perfectly.
“I’m sorry,” Dean says, humiliation crowding out his shock and fear. Cas helps him sit up, but when Dean tries to pull away he wraps his arm around his shoulders and tugs him close to his side.
“You have absolutely nothing to apologize or be embarrassed for. You have been through an horrific ordeal. I am only sorry it took us so long to find you.”
“Alastair?” Dean says, a little frantically, now that the overwhelming relief of being alive and safe is fading. He looks around as though Alastair is about to appear from behind the trees. “Did you get him?”
“I’m afraid not,” Cas says. “But this is not the time to discuss it. If you’re ready, we need to get you out of here before it grows dangerously dark.”
“Just one more minute,” Dean pleads. He knows they need to move, but he just needs a minute more to shore up his defenses. He can’t let everyone see him like this.
“You need a hospital,” Cas says.
“No,” Dean argues, softly. “Not now. I just need you.”
“I will not be leaving your side,” Cas assures him, solemnly. “Never again.” And despite the urgency of the situation and the voices from the other side of the trees, he sits, uncomplaining, holding Dean steady until the last of his tears have finally dried.
“Rowena helped?” Dean says with some amazement. He’s in a hospital bed, much to his disgust, and stuck there with no hope of escape while he’s still hooked up to the antibiotic IV the doctor insisted on.
It’s late, after midnight, the hospital is quiet, although Dean does have a private room tucked away from the general wards, so perhaps it’s just quiet here. As promised, Cas has stayed right by Dean’s side while the doctors checked him over, cleaned his wounds, and stitched up the worst of them. He’s not in too bad shape, not considering how much worse, how fatal, it could have been. He’s dehydrated, bruised, battered and bloody, but there’s no injuries that won’t heal.
At Dean’s urging, Cas explains how they found him. It turns out to have been very much a collaborative effort.
“Rowena knew the area better than anyone. She has family around here,” Cas says. “Once Uriel eventually told us all he knew, and Charlie managed to track down where your cell phone was before the signal went dead, it was Rowena who suggested which area we should search first. Apparently, the cottage Alastair had taken up residence in has quite the reputation.”
It figures that Alastair would take Dean to a remote location that was also rumored to have been home to some pretty legendary witches a couple of hundred years ago. He’s nothing if not a reliably melodramatic psychopath.
“And there was no sign of him? At the cottage?”
“He left plenty of evidence behind, but no, we couldn’t find him. The police are still looking. They have his description, know his car… they’ll find him, Dean, don’t worry.”
Dean is worried, but distantly. He feels safe right now, with Cas sitting on the bed beside him, their thighs only separated by a thin hospital sheet. The nurses have already scolded Cas for sitting on the bed with his dirty jeans and boots on, but neither Dean nor Cas gives a damn.
“And what about Uriel?”
Cas is silent for a beat too long before he answers. “Uriel has been dealt with. He’s in the hands of the police now.”
“Dealt with?” Dean’s pushing, he knows he is. But he wants to know. That asshole sold him out. Alastair might be a psychopath, but Uriel is no less dangerous.
“Trust me, Dean,” Cas says. “He will not trouble you again.”
Maybe Dean will pry more information from Cas later, but for now he accepts that. He does trust Cas.
“I’m sorry, Dean,” Cas says, another apology that Dean doesn’t need. “I should never have left you with him.”
“Uriel was your friend, Cas. You trusted him. It’s not your fault.”
“I should have seen how much he’d changed,” Cas says. “How money and ego were more important to him than following my orders. Doing his job.”
“You couldn’t have known,” Dean insists. “Don’t beat yourself up. If this is anyone’s fault it’s mine.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Cas says flatly.
However much Cas might disagree there’s no escaping the facts. “I brought Alastair into my life. I did. This is on me. No one else.”
“Yes, Cas. I let him take those pictures of me. I took his money and let him mould me into whatever image he wanted. And then I went back and did it again. And again. If I hadn’t, none of this would ever have happened.”
“You couldn’t have known the kind of predator he was,” Cas insists.
Dean shakes his head. “I knew enough to skip town afterwards.”
“And that’s a good thing, Dean. Thank god you did. If you hadn’t trusted your instincts, I doubt you’d be here now. There was no way you could have ever known how obsessive, how insane, how homicidal, Alastair was. And you could certainly never have known that Alastair was the stalker. A man you barely knew when you were a teenager.”
Cas had sat with his hand in Dean’s while Dean had told the police all that had happened from the second he realized Alfie was unconscious in the front of the car until he fell over the side of the damn hillside. He told them everything he knew about his kidnapper. Face red with embarrassment, he even told them how he’d first met Alastair. Where and when and why. The things Dean had done. The things Alastair had said today. About his dad. Not about Cas. That’s something he’ll ask Cas about later. Maybe. It’s not important. Dean trusts Cas with his life. With his heart. That hasn’t changed.
“Do you hear me, Dean Winchester?” Cas cups Dean’s chin in his hand and gently turns his head so they’re eye to eye. “You are not to blame. Not for any of this.”
“But—“ Dean tries to argue.
One look from Cas stops him in his tracks. “You are not to blame.”
Dean swallows, and blinks, and nods. Cas’s mouth tilts into a small smile. “You are incredibly brave.”
“And incredibly lucky,” Dean points out. “Lucky that the cuffs snapped when they did. Lucky I didn’t break my neck when I fell. Lucky you found me.”
“I think perseverance and determination had more to do with your survival than luck. But I am grateful either way. I… I did not cope well with the thought of you being hurt.”
Charlie told Dean as much, in the few minutes he’d seen her while Cas was talking to the police. She’d been a mess, her face red and blotchy, and eyes filling with another round of tears as soon as she saw the sorry state Dean was in. She’d attempted to put on a brave front, but she couldn’t hide how shaken up she was. “Cas was terrified,” she’d confided, “when we heard you’d gone. And then he was terrifying. I thought he was going to kill someone.”
Cas doesn’t look terrifying now. He looks soft. Despite the extra scruff on his face, and the dirt caked on his clothes, dusted in his tousled hair. He looks beautiful.
“I was scared I would never see you again,” Dean says.
“Me too,” Cas admits.
And then their lips are pressing together, and all the words they can’t say are exchanged in a desperate kiss.
They don’t pull apart until Dean’s IV beeps to inform them it's empty.
“Can we get out of here now?” Dean asks, his lips still grazing Cas’s as he talks.
Cas huffs a breath and sits back in order to fix Dean with a glare. “Are you serious?”
“What?” Dean says. “Y’all said I needed to stay here while I was attached to this thing. Well, it’s done.”
“Dean, you are a walking bruise, you can’t seriously expect...”
“Please, Cas,” Dean says. “I’m tired. I just want to lie in a bed, with you, and sleep. With no one else around. No nurses. No doctors. Just us.”
“I don’t think...”
“And, surely if we wait until morning, the press are gonna swarm the hospital.”
“Well...” Cas says, and Dean knows he’s got him.
They don’t return to the cottage, and all Dean’s pouting doesn’t change Cas’s mind about that. It’s not secure now, not after Uriel sold his soul and all their secrets to Alastair. The doctors bitch about Dean leaving so quickly but can’t do much to stop them. They dose Dean up with painkillers which do a good job of knocking him out all the way to Glasgow where Charlie has booked the entire floor of a small hotel, promising hellfire if they leak a single word about Dean’s presence to the press.
They sneak in the trades entrance at the back of the hotel, all nine of them, including Charlie. The extra security Cas has in place now is not subtle. Dean can’t even find it in himself to complain about overkill.
It’s almost three am, and Dean can’t ever remember feeling quite so bone weary in his life. He’s absurdly happy when he and Cas finally escape into their own room and lock the door behind them. Two of Cas’s guys are standing watch in the hallway, but at least for now, they have some privacy.
No matter how desperately Dean wants to collapse into bed with Cas, first he needs a shower. They cleaned up his bloodied cuts and scratches at the hospital, bathed his torn-up feet before they dressed the worst of the damage, but Dean is still filthy, layered in sweat and dirt, and he can still feel Alastair’s hands on his skin.
He strips off in the bathroom and turns on the shower before Cas notices what he’s about to do.
“Dean, your dressings.”
“What?” Dean says, distracted by his reflection in the mirror. It’s the first time he’s seen himself. He looks like shit. He got hit by a truck in a movie once, and the make-up department didn’t make him look this bad.
“You shouldn’t get your dressings wet,” Cas says, stepping up behind him so Dean can see his face in the mirror.
“I’m disgusting, Cas,” Dean complains, wiping a persistent smear of dirt from his cheekbone with the back of his hand. “I can’t go to bed like this.”
“Dean,” Cas says, just a hint of exasperation bleeding through in his tone. “I don’t care about a bit of dirt. And I certainly don’t care about the bedsheets. Please, just leave it.”
“I can’t go to bed feeling like this,” Dean says again, and hopes that Cas understands it’s not the dirt on the surface that’s making his skin crawl.
Cas catches his eye in the mirror and Dean sees the understanding dawn on his face. Cas places his hand lightly, barely touching, on the bandage covering the knife wound across Dean’s ribs. “I understand, I do,” he says. “But if you soak these dressings you may end up back at the hospital and I know you don’t want that. Perhaps… perhaps you might allow me to wash you? Would that help, do you think?”
Dean wants to stand under a scalding shower and scrub himself clean. But Cas is right; he has too many wounds and fresh stitches to do that without hurting himself more. “I can wash myself,” he says, petulantly, because he’s not a child, or an invalid.
“But I would like to do it for you,” Cas returns calmly. And Dean finds himself unable to argue when he sees the honest truth of that, the affection, in Cas’s eyes.
Weirdly, it’s the most intimate moment of Dean’s life. For all the times he’s had sex, been inside someone, or even the very few times he’s let someone fuck him, standing in that bathroom and allowing Cas to wash him leaves him feeling broken open and vulnerable and, at the same time, overwhelmingly safe and loved in Cas’s hands.
Cas fills the wash basin with warm water, and grabs the hotel soap and washcloth. He has already discarded his boots and socks, but he also slips his Henley over his head, throwing it on top of the scrubs a nurse gave Dean to leave the hospital in. That leaves Cas wearing just his jeans, sitting low on his hips, and his tattoos on full display. It strikes Dean once again what a ridiculously beautiful man Cas is. Under different circumstances he’d be begging to get his hands, his mouth, on Cas’s body. Dean’s convinced he could spend the rest of his life worshipping the man’s hip bones alone.
“Are you okay?” Cas asks, washcloth in hand.
Dean swallows and nods, though anxiety is bubbling under the surface of his skin, making his hands tremble and breath quicken.
Cas starts with Dean’s face, and Dean wants to argue that he’s perfectly capable of washing his own face, but Cas’s hands are so gentle, and his eyes so focused that he can’t bring himself to object. Dean’s face is a mess, his lip split and his right cheekbone one mottled purple bruise, but Cas’s touch is so tender, so reverent that Dean doesn’t even flinch. For every speck of blood, every smear of dirt he washes away, Cas leaves a chaste kiss behind. A brush of his lips so light that it’s like a wisp of air kissing his skin, a brush of angel wings.
The underside of his jaw, the back of his neck, the curve of his shoulder, the scrapes on his elbows… Cas works slowly, methodically. His chest, around the dressings on his ribs, his stomach, the crease of his thighs… dabbed clean, kissed solemnly.
Dean’s shivering by the time Cas works down his legs, the backs of his knees, his ankles... goosebumps breaking out across his skin. He’s not cold; the heating in the hotel room is turned up high. Dean’s dick is also hard against his thigh. Something which Cas can’t have missed.
Washcloth discarded and replaced with a bath towel, Cas works his way back up Dean’s body, gently patting him dry even though there’s barely a need. Dean’s legs are like jelly, knees trembling by the time Cas is dabbing at the skin between his shoulder blades, whispering in his ear.
“Beautiful, Dean, you’re so beautiful.”
“Cas.” Dean’s voice breaks.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you,” Cas says, his voice cracking almost as badly as Dean’s. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him. I’m sorry—“
“No,” Dean cuts him off, turning and pressing his mouth against Cas’s to silence his apologies. “Not your fault,” he murmurs. “None of it was your fault.”
Cas makes a noise of dissent, but Dean kisses him quiet, his hand reaching up to cup Cas’s cheek. This kiss isn’t chaste; Dean is hard and wanting. “Take me to bed.”
Dean’s surprised when Cas doesn’t argue that it’s not the time or place, but instead takes Dean’s hand and leads him to the bedroom, urges him onto the bed.
Strained muscles and bloodied injuries forgotten, Dean leans back against the headboard and watches, rapt, as Cas throws the towel on a chair and finally strips naked himself. Cas is hard too, his dick standing thick and red and gorgeous against his abs. Dean licks his lips and takes his own cock in hand.
“You’re fucking beautiful, Cas,” he groans, letting his eyes roam freely over Cas’s body. He’s never said that to a guy before, never thought it before, but looking at Cas just steals away Dean’s breath. The play of muscles usually hidden under his clothes, the artwork etched into his skin, it’s almost too much to take in.
Cas smiles, but his eyes are dark as he climbs onto the bed alongside Dean. “Not compared to you.” And this time he’s the one that silences Dean with a kiss.
Dean is exhausted, and sore and emotionally wrung out, but he wants Cas so badly that he aches with it. He moans when Cas’s mouth drops away, his lips pressing against Dean’s jawline, his bruised throat, his collar bone.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Cas murmurs. “What do you want?”
“I want you to fuck me,” Dean says.
Cas inhales sharply.
“Please,” Dean says.
“Dean.” Cas’s fingers drift down across Dean’s torso, skate across the shallow cuts and the bruises, until they come to rest lightly on the dressing taped over the cut carved across his ribs. “I don’t think—“
“I can feel that bastard on me, Cas,” Dean confesses, voice low. “Feel his breath on my face, his fingers on my throat. I hate it. I want to feel you. I want you on me. In me.”
“Dean,” Cas moans his name, his hips twitching and dick riding against Dean’s thigh.
“Please,” Dean says, and he knows he sounds needy now, but he’s trying not to feel ashamed. Not anymore. Life’s too short to play games. He loves Cas, and Cas loves him even if neither of them are quite ready to admit it. He wants Alastair’s fingerprints erased from his body, his words erased from his mind. He needs to be held and loved.
Cas is gentle, at first. Obviously terrified of hurting Dean. But Dean urges him on, refusing to be coddled, surging into his touches until Cas’s fingers are clasping into Dean’s biceps, his teeth grazing Dean’s nipples, stubble scraping down his chest.
Dean spreads his legs and cants his hips when Cas moves lower, kissing random patterns across his belly before sucking Dean’s cock into his mouth without any teasing. Dean throws his arm across his mouth to muffle his groan; he could come just from that, the heat of Cas’s mouth surrounding him, but it’s not what he wants. Not what he needs. But still, he almost smacks Cas across the head with a pillow when his mouth disappears with no warning and the bastard climbs off the bed.
“Where the hell are you going?”
“Lube,” Cas growls, “and a condom.”
Dean has nothing. Not his wallet, not his toiletries. Nothing. As far as he knows all of his shit is still back at the cottage. He doesn’t want to think about where his wallet could be, because Alastair... “Screw it,” he snaps. “I don’t care. Get back over here and fuck me.”
“I’m not fucking you dry, you idiot,” Cas says, looking around the room until he finds his pants, and digs his wallet out of his pocket.
“Your dirty talk sucks,” Dean huffs, trailing his hand down his belly, over his thighs and between his legs, palming his balls just the way he likes, pinching at his nipple with his other hand.
Cas fishes a condom and a foil packet of lube from his wallet, tilts his head and fixes Dean with a look that simultaneously makes Dean blush and almost come on the spot.
“I’m going to open you up on my fingers, Dean, until you whine and beg for my dick and then I’m going to slide into your tight little hole and fuck you so hard you’re not going to be able to walk straight tomorrow. And if you’re very, very good, I’ll even let you come.”
Dean’s dick slaps against his belly in response and Cas grins, almost feral. “Was that more appropriate dirty talk, Dean?”
“Shut up and get over here,” Dean grumbles, tugging at his balls before letting go and spreading his legs in a pretty clear invitation. It’s not fair that Cas has figured out how to push Dean’s buttons so easily. But then again, if he makes good on his promises, that’s not a bad thing either.
Cas is still careful, uses nearly the whole packet of lube, opening Dean up painfully slowly on one finger until Dean’s begging for another. He does the same with two until Dean accuses him of being a dirty teasing bastard, and then he shoves a third finger straight in, curls them just right, brushing across Dean’s prostate with deadly accuracy making him see not just stars but whole sparkling galaxies. By the time Cas finally rolls on the condom, Dean is covered in a sheen of sweat, his dick harder than it’s been since he was a damn teenager.
Cas inches in slowly, and Dean doesn’t complain. For all his talk, and impatience, he knows he’s tight, hasn’t done this in a long time despite anything Gordon claimed, and he doesn’t want it to hurt. It’s uncomfortable at first, which is normal, but once Cas is buried all the way inside Dean, he waits, nuzzles against Dean’s throat and wraps a hand around his erection, jacking him off until he’s not far from coming. Then Cas takes his hand away, and holds Dean’s thighs open instead, watches transfixed, as he drags his cock slowly out of Dean’s hole and then slams back in. Dean gasps. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s overwhelming.
Dean throws his head back and bites his lip trying to stifle his moans. Cas leans over him and uses his thumb to pry Dean’s lip from between his teeth. “I want to hear you,” he says and kisses Dean’s forehead, a strangely tender gesture when he’s buried balls deep in Dean’s ass.
Dean’s not noisy in bed, usually he’s restrained, holds a little of himself back, but that's not possible with Cas. Cas seems to know straight away how to make Dean squirm and whine and beg. How to make him forget about everything other than right here, right now. Dean loses himself to sensation. The heat of Cas inside him, so hard, so thick, filling him up so good, brushing that spot inside of him again and again until Dean’s dick is purple-headed and leaking so much it almost looks like he’s coming without a hand on him.
“Please,” he says, thrusting his hips up.
“What do you want, Dean?” Cas asks, his voice a gruff rumble that almost sends Dean over the edge.
“Touch me,” Dean gasps. “Just touch me.”
All it takes is Cas wrapping his hand around Dean’s dick and stroking him once before Dean’s coming all over his belly and Cas’s fist, lights exploding behind his eyes. Cas fucks him through it until Dean manages to open his eyes and look up at him, and then Cas pulls out and strips the rubber off his dick. “Can I?” he asks. Dean nods, eyes wide and heartbeat still racing.
It’s the sexiest thing Dean has ever seen; Cas kneeling between his legs, sweat glinting on his flexing muscles, his tattoos shining under the lights, eyes fixed on Dean as he jacks himself off, coming in hot stripes across Dean’s belly, his chest, a spurt even hits Dean’s chin. Basically every patch of bare skin that isn’t covered by a dressing.
It’s filthy and wrong and hot as hell. And Dean’s dick twitches valiantly despite the fact he’s just come hard enough to wind himself.
It takes Cas a minute to get his breath back afterwards, to drag his attention away from the white stripes painted across Dean’s skin and look him in the eye again. And then, of all things, after that display of Alpha machismo, he blushes.
“Sorry?” he says, a smile playing at the corner of his lips, showing how not sorry he is. “Was that a little too caveman?”
“It was freaking hot,” Dean admits, unable to look away from Cas; his eyes are brighter than Dean has ever seen them, his hair mussed in wild waves that Dean desperately wants to run his fingers through.
Cas collapses down on his side next to Dean, kisses him softly, tenderly. Dean allows himself to get lost in the sweet taste of Cas’s lips, so much so that it takes a minute to notice that Cas is rubbing their come into Dean’s skin. He can’t help snorting. Cas pulls back from the kiss, his face a picture of innocence. “What?”
“I think you’ve made your point, Cas. I’m all yours.”
Cas doesn’t even pretend to look abashed. “And you love it.”
And Dean can’t argue with that because he does. Eventually though, when Dean’s eyelids are growing too heavy to keep open, Cas rolls out of bed, grabs the damp towel from the chair, and cleans Dean up. Dean hums in gratitude because as hot as it is now, dried come will not be so pleasant when it’s flaking off of his belly in the morning.
Cas curls around Dean afterwards, mindful of his injuries, but not afraid to hold him close. Dean relaxes, sinking into the heat of Cas’s naked chest at his back, the strength of his arms wrapped around him. He falls asleep thinking of nothing but how lucky he is to have Cas in his life.
He wakes to Cas peppering kisses across the back of his neck. It’s possibly the best wake-up call he’s ever had. “Good morning, Dean,” Cas murmurs against his shoulders. “How did you sleep?”
“Fine,” Dean is surprised to admit. He slept like a log; no nightmares, no nothing. “You?”
“I’ve had more peaceful nights,” Cas admits. “But waking up with you in my arms definitely helped. But, as much as I’d like to lie here all day with you, it’s almost midday and I’m afraid there will be much to do. And many people to talk to.”
Dean sighs and snuggles back, further into Cas’s arms. He doesn’t want to deal with any of it; not the police, not the press, not Crowley, not even Pamela.
“Charlie will handle most of it, I’m sure,” Cas says, his fingers splaying wide across Dean’s belly. “But we cannot hide forever.”
As if to emphasize that point there’s a sudden, insistent pummeling at the door that has Dean tensing in Cas’s arms. Until he hears the accompanying yell. “Dean? Dean?”
“You told Sam?” Dean rolls over into his back and looks up at Cas, betrayed.
“Of course I told Sam,” Cas says, jumping out of bed, and searching for his underwear. “I told him as soon as you disappeared.”
“He was on his honeymoon,” Dean hisses, dragging the bed sheet up to his chin.
“You were missing,” Cas hisses back, and almost runs to open the door before Sam hammers a hole through the wood.
Sam bursts in, face red and hair wild. “Dean?”
Dean only just manages to stand up and drag the sheet around his waist for modesty before Sam hauls him into a bear hug. “Jesus, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Sam,” Dean says, patting his back with one hand while holding onto the sheet with the other. “God, you didn’t need to fly back from your honeymoon.”
“You were missing, Dean,” Sam snaps, standing back and holding Dean at arm’s length so he can look him over. He obviously doesn’t like what he sees. “Jesus, I can’t leave you alone for a few weeks without someone nearly killing you?”
“I’m fine, Sam,” Dean says, again.
“You’re clearly not,” Sam says, and he sounds pissed now. “You’re a mess, Jesus!” And then he rounds on Cas. “Castiel fucking Novak, I trusted you to look after him! What happened? Were you too busy trying to get laid to do your job properly?”
“Sam,” Dean objects. “That’s not fair. This was not Cas’s fault.”
“He’s getting paid to protect you, Dean, not fuck you. I’d say he failed pretty goddamn spectacularly.” Sam crowds up into Cas’s space. Sam has a good four or five inches on Cas, but Dean would lay money on Cas being able to take him, so he’s not sure who to be most concerned for when Sam shoves Cas hard in the chest.
“I trusted you.”
“Sam,” Dean barks.
“You’re right,” Cas says, standing with his arms at his sides, offering no resistance to Sam’s fury. “I failed in my duty to protect your brother. I’m sorry, Sam. Dean getting hurt is on me.”
“No, fuck this,” Dean says. “The only person responsible for this mess is Alastair. And that asswipe Uriel, too. This sure isn’t Cas’s fault; there’s no way he could have known a man he thought was a friend would sell me down the river.”
“Maybe if he’d spent more time focusing on your safety rather than your ass—“
“That’s enough!” Dean’s getting irate now. He understands Sam is upset, if the situation was reversed Dean would be apoplectic, but Cas couldn’t have done any more to keep him safe. “If it wasn’t for Cas, that bastard could have grabbed me a lot sooner. And if it wasn’t for Cas, I probably would have died out there last night. He saved me, Sam.”
Sam steps back, head turning in Dean’s direction. Dean notices for the first time how exhausted his brother is, his eyes bloodshot, shoulders tense and hands in white-knuckled fists. It knocks the wind out of his sails. “Listen, Sam, I get it, okay? You must have been frantic. But this mess isn’t Cas’s fault.”
“You got hurt,” Sam says, and Dean’s heart clenches because he sounds all of eight years old again. He tugs Sam into a one armed hug, not letting go until he feels a little of the tension bleed out of his brother’s muscles. “I’m okay,” he repeats on a loop. “I’m gonna be okay.”
When he eventually steps away, Sam’s eyes are wet and glassy. “Sorry,” he says, wiping the back of his hand across his face, and smiling half-heartedly.
“Hey, don’t worry, Sam; we both know you’d be lost without me. You’d have to look for another job, right?” Dean smirks, falling back into their usual pattern of brushing off emotion with brotherly ribbing. “You could at least have let me put on pants before you threw yourself at me though.”
“You hugged me, jerk.” Sam’s grin is a little less forced, even though his eyes are still watery.
“Whatever, bitch,” Dean says, smiling back, and slapping Sam’s shoulder. “Hey, where’s Jessica? Is she planning my grisly death as we speak for ruining her honeymoon?”
Cas inhales sharply and Sam grimaces. Dean realizes what he just said. Yeah, possibly too soon, but fuck, if he can’t joke about it then who the hell can.
Sam, thankfully, has lived with Dean long enough to appreciate, or at least ignore, his gallows humor. “Nah, she’s good. She’s probably asleep in our room already, those flights are killer.”
“Fuck,” Dean says, guilt prickling at him. “The pair of you can’t even get away from my drama for your honeymoon. I’m sorry, man.”
“It’s not your fault,” Sam shrugs. “And Jess says she’s always wanted to see Scotland, so she’s happy hanging around for a while. If you want to stay that is? If you want to quit this movie I’ll get you out of it. No problem.”
“Yes, Dean,” Cas adds. “After everything, no one would blame you if you want to go home.”
Dean hesitates, his eyes falling on Cas. “And if I want to stay?”
“Then I will not leave your side,” Cas promises. “I will keep you safe.”
“And if I decide to go back to the States, what will you do then?”
Cas glances at Sam before looking back at Dean. “I will not leave your side,” he repeats, although he sounds less certain now, as though it may not be the answer Dean is looking for. “For as long as you want me to be there.”
“And if I want you to be by my side always? You think you could put up with me for that long?”
Sam is watching them, mouth agape.
“I think I would like that very much.” Cas smiles.
Dean grins back.
“Fuck me,” Sam says. “What happened to no chick flick moments.”
“Didn’t you know, Sammy,” Dean says, walking straight past his brother and right up to Cas. “I’m the damn king of chick flicks.”
Sam makes a gagging sound as Dean kisses Cas full on the lips, so with all the maturity of any big brother, Dean accidentally drops the sheet preserving his modesty, and his ass.
“Oh my God, Dean, really?” Sam whines.
Dean ignores him in favor of proving to Cas why he won his award. Not the dumb Oscar… Best Kiss, that’s the one Dean’s proud of.
The thing about Dean, Sam thinks, is he’s fucking clueless.
Photographers are going insane and fans are dropping like flies as he walks down the red carpet, but Dean only has eyes for Cas, a steady presence at his side. The pair of them are wearing matching blue suits, which they swear they didn’t plan. Dean’s pocket square matches Cas’s tie for god’s sake. It’s so sweet it should be sickening but if anyone deserves that kind of happiness it’s Dean.
Dean thinks that Sam doesn’t know how rough it was for him when they were kids. How much of his childhood Dean had to sacrifice just so Sam could grow up with a roof over his head, food in his belly, and half a chance of getting through high school.
Sam doesn’t like to think what might have happened to Dean if he hadn’t gotten discovered when he did. He did some pretty shady, pretty dangerous shit when he was a teenager. Shit that could have gotten him locked up, or killed. Shit like letting assholes like Alastair take advantage of him. Not because he wanted to, but because their damn dad was a waste of space.
Not that, even now, Dean would admit that. The worst thing for Dean, about the whole Alastair business, wasn’t that the maniac got away, or that he left Dean with a whole new set of scars and nightmares, it was what he said about killing their Dad.
To be honest, although Sam was upset, it didn’t hit him near as hard as it did Dean. Even now, nearly a year later, Dean has trouble with not knowing if Alastair was telling the truth. To be honest, Sam’s less concerned about what the bastard did in the past and more concerned about what he might do in the future.
Thankfully, Dean has Cas on his side. Cas is one scary son of a bitch. Something which Dean seems to be oblivious to. As far as his clueless brother is concerned, Cas is a soft-centered pussycat who rescues sick bees, bakes him apple pie, and loves nothing more than making Danielle, Sam’s daughter, giggle. All those things are true, but there’s another side to Cas. The one that had no problem breaking Uriel’s arm in three places and dislocating his shoulder, slowly, before handing him over to the police. The one that got Zachariah fired and his reputation trashed when it turned out he’d been the one to tell Alastair Dean’s hotel and room number. That side is the reason Sam hired him in the first place. And that side is why Sam manages to sleep at night without worrying too much about Alastair.
Alastair has slunk back into the shadows for now, but Sam is confident that sooner or later he won’t be able to resist making his presence known again, at least online. And as soon as he does, Sam’s new assistant, Charlie, is going to find a way to track the crazy bastard down. And when she does, Cas is going to deal with the problem. Quietly and decisively. Sam doesn’t doubt he’ll get the job done.
Right now, Dean’s happy, and that’s the most important thing. Sam’s determined to make damn sure he stays that way.
“Well, Sammy,” Crowley crows in Sam’s ear. “Looks like we’re going to have a smash hit on our hands. I bet you’re glad our little deal included a percentage of the box office.”
Sam smiles wryly. “I think it’s the least we deserve.” The very least considering everything Dean went through.
Sam cringes as he watches Bella push Ketch out of her way so he’s not in the frame when a photographer snaps a shot of her. Unlucky for her, Rowena manages to walk past right at that moment and steal the photographer’s attention which makes Bella snarl and Sam chuckle. Balthazar grabs Dean in a bear hug as he walks past and Sam hopes someone took a photo of the resulting glare on Cas’s face. It’s kind of hilarious.
“I’m thinking a sequel, what do you reckon? Think you could get your brother onboard?”
“A sequel?” Sam looks down at Crowley incredulously.
“Sure,” Crowley grins. “Why not? I mean, all the publicity we generated… it would be a waste not to make the most of it. And seriously, your smarts, my talent, your brother’s pretty face… what could possibly go wrong?”
Sam raises his eyebrow pointedly when Cas stomps on a photographer’s foot after he gets a little too close to Dean, and then follows that up by ‘accidentally’ standing on the hem of Bella’s dress when she tries to kiss Dean’s cheek.
“Yeah,” Sam says, ruefully. “What could possibly go wrong?”
Thank you for reading!
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