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Out to Drift

Chapter Text

The air conditioner breaks just as the weatherman starts predicting temperatures in the high nineties.  

Almost instantly the motel room drops into Hell-like temperatures, stuffy and burning-hot. Castiel sits up from where he’s sprawled out on the faded bedspread and glares at the unit as it fights for its last ounce of strength. It gives up with a clatter.

With a sigh, Castiel pulls himself off the bed. He drops to the floor on his knees and begins unscrewing the cheap metal covering. Sweat drips down his back as he fights to get the panel off, but inside it’s just a mess of wires and dust and he has no idea what he’s doing. He rubs at his eyes and leaves the panel on the floor.

——-

There’s a woman, two doors down, who always leaves her door open and who always pushes back the curtain to watch him whenever he leaves or comes back. Castiel isn’t sure if she does this for everyone, or just him. Today she’s outside, fanning herself with a dog-eared magazine.

Hola,” Castiel says.

She speaks too quickly, and all he’s able to catch is something about men without shirts.

Castiel hesitates. “Um.”

He’s already exhausted his knowledge of Spanish. He can ask for directions to the bathroom, but that’s about it. The woman stops fanning herself for a moment to shoo him away. That, at least, he understands.

There’s only one new car today; a long, black thing that shines like oil in the sun, parked at corner of the building. Castiel glances at it as he walks out of the motel parking lot.

——-

It’s a ten minute walk to the Five O’clock Shadow, a run-down truck stop just past the “Welcome” sign. It’s open twenty-four seven and set up to look like an old greaser bar. Either that or it was just never updated to keep up with modern times. One of the waitresses calls it “rinky-dink.” Another, “a piece of shit.” But so far he hasn’t gotten food poisoning, and one of the waitresses gave him a free milkshake on his first night, months ago, when he came in with nothing but a rumpled suit and a bag over his shoulder.

Best of all, it has air conditioning.

“You look like a drowned rat,” Meg greets him as he slumps down at the bar.

“The air conditioner broke,” Castiel says.

“Get the motel worker dude to fix it,” Meg says.

“They overcharge,” Castiel says.

“So then you fix it,” Meg says.

“Don’t you think I’d be doing that if I knew how?” Castiel asks.

“You’re useless,” Meg says. She shoves a glass of ice water at him and slaps a menu down in front of him. “That is not on the house, by the way. You’re a disappointment to the male race.”

“Men aren’t a race.” Castiel flips open the menu and browses.

“Whatever,” Meg says. She smiles at a couple at the other end of the restaurant and holds up a hand, signalling for a minute. “God, I hate couples.”

“You hate everyone,” Castiel says. “There’s a new club wrap? What’s that like?”

“It’s shit,” Meg says.

“Great, I’ll get one of those.” Castiel folds the menu back up and slides it back to her.

——-

Castiel eats by the front window with the blinds pulled up so he can people-watch. The truckers with their big rigors pull off to the side and spread out along the picnic tables, smoking cigarettes and double-checking their routes. Some of them have dogs with them. Families stop in for lunch on their way through town. The locals wait until after the rush hours to come in, trying to avoid the crowds. Castiel doodles on a napkin with a blue pen.

At half-past two he’s finishing his second cup of coffee when the black car from the motel parking lot pulls in, engine growling loudly. A few of the truckers turn their heads. A group of college students with Canadian licence plates stop organizing their car to stare.

A man gets out of the driver’s side. There’s holes in the knees of his jeans and dirt on the toes of his boots. Despite the heat he’s got a leather jacket on, over what looks like at least two other layers of shirts. He ignores everyone’s gaze and runs a palm over his car’s side.

Once inside, he pockets a pair of sunglasses and flashes a grin to Eve, who’s closest to the door. She nods in return and wanders off towards the kitchen, and the man slowly makes his way over to the bar, glancing around the restaurant.

“Want another?” Meg asks, startling him.

“What?” he asks. She shakes the coffee pot at him and he says, “Oh. Sure. Thank you.”

She fills his cup and leaves enough room for cream and sugar.

“You keep staring at him like that and you’re going to burn holes in his nice leather jacket,” she says.

“I’m not staring,” Castiel says.

“Whatever you say, Clarence,” she grins at him. He ignores her and dumps a packet of sugar into his mug.

——-

By three-thirty the rest of the patrons have left the diner. Except for Castiel and the man with the black car. The quiet won’t last long. By four-fifteen the first of the older crowd will start trickling in to stake claim on the largest booth in the back.

Castiel turns the blinds down to block out the sun and glances over to the other man, still sitting at the bar. Castiel isn’t sure what he ordered for lunch, but he got a slice of pie and a cup of coffee for dessert after. He has a leather-bound notebook spread out in front of him, but he’s not writing in it.

Castiel pulls another napkin out of the dispenser and starts drawing. The curve of broad shoulders, the bend of arms, the wrinkles in the leather. He uses short lines to detail the hair. Thin, light lines for the shading.

Eventually the man drops a wad of bills on the bartop, grabs his coat, and leaves.

——-

There’s an outlet mall further down the road that sells fans. It’s another fifteen minute walk. By the time Castiel makes it back to the motel parking lot, he’s drenched and drained and light-headed. Without the air conditioning his room is going to be boiling, but if he doesn’t sit down for a minute he’s going to pass out.

He heads to his room. Kevin next door is practicing his cello again, the noise low and thrumming. Sad, almost. Castiel digs out his keys and wonders if Kevin misses his family, his parents. If he even has parents anymore. He gets his room open and is hit with a nauseating wave of heat, thick and humid and suffocating. Immediately he opens the window as wide as it can go, but it does little to help.

Castiel slumps down on the bed and sighs. He won’t be able to work up the energy to go to the mall now.

——-

The motel’s owner is a scruffy, bearded man named Chuck who perpetually wears sandals and a ratted bathrobe and is, apparently, working on a series of books about vampires.

“No, they’re not—it’s not just vampires.” Chuck pushes his glasses up his nose. “There’s werewolves, too. And—do you know what a Tulpa is?”

“No,” Castiel says. “Sorry.”

“Right,” Chuck says. “I’ve done a lot of research about different urban legends.”

“So the series is about urban legends?” Castiel asks.

“Kinda?” Chuck says, like even he doesn’t know. Maybe he doesn’t.

“Well,” Castiel says. “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” Chuck says. Then, remembering, he digs out the key for the gate and tosses it over. Castiel catches it one-handed and gives Chuck a nod before he makes his way down the hall, towel slung over his shoulder.

——-

“You’re not seriously going swimming in there,” Krissy asks from where she’s stretched out on a pool chair, lifting her oversized sunglasses to look at him.

Castiel frowns down at the pool. He cleaned it last week, but already there’s what looks like a pile of leaves and grass clippings floating on the surface, an empty chip bag and a few disintegrating cigarette butts. It’s definitely not the greatest pool, but the heat is relentless, and he stayed up all night tossing and turning and trying to find the coldest spot on the mattress without success.

“At least it’s cool,” he shrugs, dropping his towel and moving to grab the pool net.

“Barely,” Krissy says.

“Where’s your father?”

“No idea.” Krissy drops her sunglasses down again.

Castiel sighs and begins fishing out leaves.

——-

The black car is parked at the truck stop again when Castiel stops in for an early dinner.

Inside, the cool air lifts the weight of the afternoon heat from his shoulders the second he steps through the door. Eve smiles at him as she serves a young family, and across the restaurant Meg nods, completely unsubtle, to the end of the bar where the black car’s owner sits, cellphone pressed to his ear.  

Castiel picks a stool a few seats away and Meg gives him a glass of water.

“Fixed the air yet?” she asks.

“No.”

“Useless,” she sighs, giving him a menu. Castiel ignores it for a moment in favor of his water.

And eavesdropping, though he tells himself he isn’t.

The man scrapes a hand down the side of his face and closes his eyes as he nods. Whoever is on the other end of that call, their voice burbles out of the phone continuously, a long stream of tinny, muffled noises.

“Yes sir,” the man says eventually. “Yeah, I—no, I know. Right. No, sir.”

The man sighs and tucks his phone away. Castiel swallows his water and chances it.

“Boss?” he asks.

The man looks at him. He’s got a splash of freckles over his cheeks and the bridge of his nose, stubble along his chin. He’s young—younger than Castiel—and he looks at him curiously, but not unkindly.

“Something like that, yeah,” he says.

“I’m sorry,” Castiel says. “They can be a pain.”

“Yeah. Bosses are dicks,” the man says.

“I’ve seen your car at the motel,” Castiel says.

“Big Sky?” the man asks.

Castiel nods. “I’m room sixteen.”

“Five,” the man says. He holds his hand out and says, “Dean Winchester.”

——-

They talk through the dinner rush.

Dean likes classic rock. He likes fixing things with his hands. He likes greasy burgers and Coke with lime squeezed in it. He steals over-priced books from stores then leaves them in the library on his way out of town. He’s read Ham on Rye twice and talks about Star Trek more than anyone Castiel’s ever met.

“You’ve never seen Star Trek?” Dean asks. “Like, any of them? How is that even possible?”

Castiel shrugs. “Never found the time, I guess.”

“Dude,” Dean says. “Dude.

Dean says he’s a journalist, writing an article on the best pies of America. Castiel senses Dean might be lying, but he doesn’t push it. Dean says it means travelling from one state to the next and eating at every rundown, dilapidated diner he comes across. But when he tells them he’s a food critic, he usually gets a free meal out of it.  

“But you’ve already tried the pie here,” Castiel says.

“It’s good,” Dean beams at him. “Might even be in the top ten, so far.”

Castiel takes a drink from his mug.

“Besides,” Dean presses closer, lowers his voice. “It’s worth it for the people you meet.”

Castiel swallows his coffee. Dean watches the waitresses bustle around, but he keeps turning back to him again, turned on his stool so he’s facing him, so his knees bump against Castiel’s every so often. He plays with the straw of his soda, climbs his thumb and his index fingers up to the tip, where he taps against the hole, the pad of his finger sticking. It makes a quiet pop.

“What about you, Castiel?” Dean asks. “What do you do?”

Castiel shrugs. “Nothing at the moment, really. Odd jobs here and there.”

Dean nods, the corner of his mouth tilting up in a smile.

Castiel thinks Dean might sense he’s lying, too.

——-

It’s been a while since Castiel’s tried this. Years, at least. He’s not sure if he can even remember how. Maybe it’s not the greatest idea—not when his room is well-lived in and the air conditioner is still broken, the panel still lying on the floor because every time he tries to work up the energy to put it back on, he can’t.

But it’s closing in on ten o’clock, and Dean’s steadily been inching closer. Close enough now that their elbows bump whenever one of them moves their arm. And there’s an itch at the base of Castiel’s spine that flares up whenever Dean’s eyes drop to his mouth.

If this goes to hell, if he shoots himself in the foot, at least Dean will probably be out of the motel and back on the road in a few days’ time, and Castiel will never have to see him again.

“Do you know how to fix an air conditioning unit?” he asks.

——-

Dean’s got a toolkit in the back of his car, he says. He waves Castiel over, lets him into the passenger side, and together they drive back to the motel with the car windows down and the radio murmuring quietly in the background.

“This is a nice car,” Castiel says.

Dean grins. “Thanks. She was my dad’s. Gave her to me for my 18th.”

“And when was that?” Castiel asks.

“Uh,” Dean shifts in his seat. “Seven—no, eight years ago?”

Five years younger.

They pull into the Big Sky parking lot. Chuck’s turned the vacancy sign back on. Probably Krissy and her father, if Castiel had to chance a guess. He looks for their truck as Dean parks the car outside his motel room. The truck’s gone, but the light in their room is still on.

Castiel waits by the door as Dean digs through his trunk.

“You don’t have a car?” he asks, voice muffled.

“No,” Castiel says.

“How’d you get here?” Dean asks, closing the trunk.

“I have my ways,” Castiel says.

Dean comes to stand next to him, head tilted, bemused, but still smiling. He smells like leather and spice and shaving cream. Castiel’s stomach flutters. He clears his throat and unlocks his room, holds his breath as they step past the threshold. But if Dean has any comments on the state of the place, on the mess of clothing, the dishes drying in the rack, the piles of canned food on the counter, he keeps them to himself.

“Dude, this thing’s toast,” Dean says, dropping his toolkit on the table. “I don’t know if I can do anything about it. You’ll probably have to tell the manager and get him to install a new one.”

“Really?” Castiel says. “So I’ll be waiting weeks, then.”

“Probably,” Dean says. “Sorry, man.”

“It’s fine,” Castiel says. At this point it might just be easier to ask Chuck for a new room all together. More expensive, but at least he won’t be waiting around for a repairman to come. That’s if he doesn’t die of heat exhaustion first.

Dean watches him for a moment.

“Mine’s working okay,” he says.

“You’re lucky,” Castiel says.

“Yeah,” Dean rubs at the back of his neck. He clears his throat. “I, uh. I’ve got beer?”

——-

Room five is smaller, but definitely cooler. And Dean does have beer. Castiel’s never been much of a beer drinker, but it’s cold and refreshing, so he takes the bottle gladly, pressing it against his temple for a moment before cracking it open.

Dean pulls a gun out from the back of his jeans and puts it in the bedside drawer. Castiel doesn’t ask, even though he wants to. Dean turns on the television, flicks through channels until he finds something he deems suitable. Castiel’s never seen it before, some doctor show where everyone is good-looking. Dean helps himself to another beer. Castiel picks at the label of his.

“I’m only in town for a few days,” Dean says.

“Then you’re off to find more pie,” Castiel says.

“Yeah,” Dean says. “Still on the look for America’s Greatest.”

“I hope you find it,” Castiel says. “I’ve heard good things about Seattle.”

“You’re thinking coffee,” Dean says.

Castiel shrugs. “You’re the expert.”

Dean grins around the lip of his beer bottle.

——-

Later, Dean swallows and says, “I—I haven’t really, uh.”

And it’s not all that surprising. He’s awkward, unsubtle, fumbling. He keeps staring at Castiel’s mouth, until Castiel realizes he isn’t going to make a move. So Castiel does. He pulls the bottle from his hands, sets it on the counter behind him and kisses him, gentle, letting Dean test the waters until he finds his confidence again in whatever hole it’s crawled up in.

Dean tugs at his clothes, kneels on the floor between his feet as he pulls his jeans down, touches him with warm, callused hands. They’re not the hands of a journalist, of a man writing articles about food for a living. Castiel leans into the touch anyway. Dean kisses his hips, runs his hands up the insides of his thighs, licks his lips and stares between his legs with a flush to his cheeks. Castiel runs a thumb over his jaw, cups his cheek.

“Can I?” Dean asks.

“You haven’t before?” Castiel asks.

“Dude,” Dean says. “I know not to use teeth.”

“No,” Castiel says. “That’s not what I meant. I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

“I’m fine,” Dean says, but he’s not paying attention anymore.

He shuffles forward, pulls Castiel closer by his hips. Castiel’s hand drops to his shoulder, digs his fingers into the fabric of his t-shirt. Dean’s mouth closes around him, hot and wet and eager, tongue swirling, and Castiel’s legs threaten to give out from under him.

Dean moans, pulls him in further, works him with his hand and his mouth and he’s—he’s definitely done this before, but Castiel shoves the thought into the back of his head where he’ll either forget about it completely or remember it later when it’s too late.

After, Dean pushes him towards the bed, down onto the mattress. He grinds against him, knees on either side of his hips. His breath comes out in warm, fast puffs against Castiel’s face. His mouth tastes salty, feels sticky when he kisses him. He’s hot and heavy in Castiel’s palm, leaking steadily as Castiel pumps him, twists at the head.

Dean rides it out, tangles his fingers in the hair at Castiel’s neck and says, “Fuck, Cas,” when he comes.

——-

It’s not the first time anyone’s called him that. If Castiel stays in a place long enough, eventually people come to know him as Cas rather than Castiel. He’s glad for it—his family calls him Castiel, with their faces tense, mouths twisting, like it tastes sour in their mouths.

But Meg and Eve say Cas with a slight teasing lilt. Chuck, and Krissy, and Krissy’s father, even Kevin next door, in the rare times he leaves his room, they say Cas, friendly and companionable.

Dean says it low, Cas. He whispers it, Cas. He presses it against Castiel’s mouth, breathes it out, sighs it when Castiel runs his fingers through his hair. Cas, Cas, Cas.

It sounds good. It sounds right.

——-

They go for breakfast in the morning. Meg gives him a disgusted look that he ignores.

It’s sweet, almost. The first time Castiel slept with a stranger, she kicked him out of her apartment as soon as the sun started coming up behind the city skyline. Her roommate was coming home, she said. Castiel learned, years later, when he wasn’t so young and naïve, that roommate was code for boyfriend.

Some of the others, they let him make toast for the road, or bought him coffee to go along with an awkward farewell. The only one that bought him breakfast wanted to see him again, clung to him even after a night of drunken disappointments. Castiel managed to hitch a ride out of town while the guy was in the restroom.

But Dean said he was leaving town in a few days, so Castiel agrees.

——-

“What’s your favorite?” Castiel asks. He doodles Meg on a napkin, because she pretends she hates it but she’s kept every single one he’s given her, tucked away in the pocket of her apron.

Dean shovels eggs into his mouth, cuts a slice of sausage off with his fork. He dips his hashbrowns into a pool of ketchup that slowly drips its way into his eggs. It’s disgusting, and Castiel is charmed despite himself.

Dean chews thoughtfully for a moment, watching Castiel draw.

“You’re really good at that,” he says.

Castiel smiles. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“Well.” Dean wipes his mouth. “You can’t go wrong with apple. It’s an American staple.”

“I’ve always found that odd, by the way,” Castiel says. “Apples aren’t American.”

Dean frowns at him. “What you mean they’re not American? Of course they’re American.”

“Apples were brought over to the Americas from Europe and Asia,” Castiel says. “So, technically, apple pie is not American.”

Dean swallows his mouthful of food.

“Sorry,” Castiel says.

“Anyway,” Dean picks up his cup of coffee. “Apple’s good and all. But what I really love is a nice pecan. That’s like—that’s a dessert on its own, y’know what I mean?”

“Well, pie in general is considered a dessert—”

Cas,” Dean says. Castiel’s fingers twitch against his mug and he tries not to smile.

——-

They’re on their way to the outlet mall to pick up a fan for Castiel’s room when Dean gets a phone call. He pulls into an empty lot to take it, giving Castiel an apologetic smile before closing the door and wandering off to pace under a tree.

When he gets back in the car, he sighs and tucks his phone away.

“Sorry,” he says. “It was my, uh…”

“Editor?” Castiel suggests.

Dean looks at him.

“Uh, yeah,” he says. “He’s just—y’know.”

“Bosses are dicks,” Castiel says.

“Yeah,” Dean agrees.

The lie sits between them and neither of them comment on it.

——-

Castiel buys two fans—a large one for the floor, and a smaller one for the bedside table. He sets them up and turns them on high. They spin back and forth, back and forth, moving hot air around the room. Castiel sits directly in front of the small one, eyes closed, enjoying the feel of the breeze against his skin.

“Hey,” Dean says, leaning against the doorway. He rubs at the corner of his eye and says, “I, uh. I have to go out for a few hours. Just—work stuff.”

“Okay,” Castiel nods. “Thank you for driving me to the mall.”

“It was no problem, Cas,” Dean says.

That name again. It fights to sit in the center of Castiel’s chest. It’s a losing battle. He gives up and lets it.

Dean looks at the fans. “Hopefully they help.”

“They will,” Castiel says.

Dean fidgets with his keys. “This was fun.”

Castiel nods. He’s heard this good-bye before. He knew it was coming. They had a good night together, a good breakfast. Dean stuck around longer than Castiel expected him to, but it’s run its course. Another notch in the bedpost.

Dean smiles at him and gives him a wave before he leaves.

——-

Kevin starts his cello practice at four. Krissy plays rock music in the next room, the beat thumping into the walls. Together they blend and mix and surround Castiel in an odd symphony of different sounds.

Eventually it becomes overwhelming and he steps outside. Dean’s black car is gone, the parking space in front of his door vacant. Castiel doesn’t know what else he expected. The Spanish woman two doors down has left, her room empty.

Castiel meets Chuck outside the office and they round the corner to smoke a joint in the back.

“I think I’m almost done,” Chuck says, tapping the ash into a tin can before handing the joint over. “I can feel it, you know? It’s like—I can finally get a good night’s sleep after this. Which is horrible, considering. I sent one of my main characters to Hell. Literal Hell. I’m an awful person.”

Castiel takes the joint between his fingers.  

“Does he get out?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Chuck says. He frowns and says, “Hey, yeah. That’s a good idea.”

——-

The fans help. Castiel turns them both towards the bed and stretches out above the covers. After the sun sets and the crickets come out full-force, he’s able to doze off. It’s a light sleep, and in the morning he’ll probably feel groggy, but for the time being it’ll have to do.

At one in the morning there’s a knock on his door. He thinks about ignoring it. It might be Chuck, wide awake and over-excited with a new idea that he needs to ramble on about for an hour, talk himself into writing the next scene.

The knock sounds again. Castiel sighs and gets out of bed.

“Hey,” Dean says when the door opens.

“Dean,” Castiel says. He opens the door wider and Dean steps in.

“I—sorry. I know it’s late.” His hands are shaking. There’s blood on his knuckles. He has a black eye, and a bleeding gash along his hairline.

“What the hell happened to you?” Castiel asks, turning on the light and sitting him down in a chair.

“What?” Dean asks. He touches his head and gets blood on his fingers. “Oh, shit. Sorry—fuck, I should—”

He goes to get up and Castiel puts a hand on his shoulder, lowering him back into the chair. Dean swallows, looks away. Castiel heads into the bathroom, pulls a clean cloth from the cupboard and wets it with warm water. When he comes back out Dean is still sitting in the chair, still shaking.

“Here,” Castiel says. He presses the cloth against Dean’s head. Dean takes it gently, hand falling over the back of Cas’s, palm warm. Rough. Castiel waits for Dean to move before pulling his hand away to grab a kitchen chair and sit down.

“Look, man,” Dean says. “You know—I mean. I’m not really a journalist.”

“I know,” Castiel says. Dean looks up at him.

“My dad,” he says. “He wants me out of here tomorrow. Back on the road.”

“Your father did this to you?” Castiel asks.

“What? No. Not this—he’s not even here.” Dean drops the cloth and sighs. “Look, my life is hell, okay. It’s dangerous, and I’m not gonna pretend otherwise. And it’s not fair to drag other people into that. It’s just, sometimes I need—it’s complicated. My life is complicated.”

“Complicated,” Castiel says.

“Yeah,” Dean says. “Complicated. Like, you living in a motel, won’t give me your last name. Complicated, y’know?”

Castiel inhales, sharp. He exhales, slowly.

“Ah,” he says.

“It’s fine,” Dean says. “I get it. Trust me, I get it.”

——-

The bleeding stops, eventually. The shaking, only when Castiel pulls Dean down onto the bed and wraps his arms around him. Dean kisses along his jaw. He pulls down the neck of Castiel’s t-shirt and nips at his collarbones, slides his hands into Castiel’s hair. Whispers, “Cas,” against his mouth when Castiel slips his knee between his thighs.

Cas, Cas, Cas.

——-

“Milton,” Castiel says. He’s drifting off to sleep with Dean’s hair tickling his chin. “My last name is Milton. You can look me up, if you need to.”

Dean presses closer to him and says, “I don’t.”

——-

Dean is gone in the morning. It doesn’t come as a surprise.

There’s a note taped to his door. That, however, does.

Hey,
Call me sometime. Or text, or whatever. If you want.
1-866-907-3235
Dean

——-

Castiel texts him, Hello, Dean.

Dean texts back, Cas?

Yes. How are you?

On the road, Dean texts back. Met up with my dad.

Was he worried?

The next text doesn’t come for a few hours.

My dad doesn’t do worried.

Dean drives a black car with a loud engine. He lies too easily. He keeps a gun in the back of his pants, and Castiel isn’t sure, but he wouldn’t be surprised if Dean has killed someone before. But his whole face lights up when he smiles. He gets embarrassed about the things he likes, and he liked it when Castiel held him in his sleep, let him bury his face into his chest.

He left Big Sky Motel still bloody and shaken up, from whatever it was that happened to him, from whatever he can’t talk about. He left, alone, and he drove, for however long, only to meet up with a father who isn’t even worried.

And all Castiel can say is, I’m sorry, Dean.

——-

Castiel calls in someone to repair the air conditioning. It’ll cost him extra to use someone not affiliated with the motel, but Castiel’s getting desperate. The guy comes around in the afternoon and installs a new unit, and within an hour Castiel is stretched out on his bed in air conditioned bliss.

He doesn’t feel as happy as he hoped he would.

——-

I think I might be ready to leave Big Sky, Castiel texts.

Where to? Dean texts back.

Anywhere my family isn’t, Castiel texts. I don’t know.

Well, where do you want to go?

——-

“Ugh,” Meg says by way of greeting.

Castiel sits at the bar and frowns at her. “What?”

“You look like a puppy that just got his favorite toy taken away,” Meg says. “I hate puppies.”

“You hate everything,” Castiel says.

“I hate you, especially,” Meg says. She gives him a free milkshake anyway.

——-

I think I want to go someplace colder, Castiel decides.

So go North.

Like Alaska? Castiel asks.

Not that far, Dean texts back. Try Washington. In a week.

What’s in Washington in a week?

——-

A family pulls into the Big Sky parking lot in a hideous dark blue minivan. They park outside door five. Their two little girls in bright bathing suits spend the afternoon splashing around in the pool, getting sunburned and water-pruned.

Krissy reads a book on her usual chair. Kevin comes out for some fresh air, looking over his shoulder every few minutes, like someone’s about to grab him. Chuck comes around the back with a glass of whiskey and a notebook.

“I couldn’t stop,” he says, sitting next to Castiel. “You gave me an idea and I just kept going.”

“So what happens?” Castiel asks.

“He gets out of Hell,” Chuck says. “He gets rescued by an angel.”

——-

Castiel’s last text from Dean is just one word: Me.