“Tell me something… ” Castiel braces himself. Those dangerous words are usually followed by him being overwhelmed with the urge to start banging either his or Dean’s head against the nearest wall. “… How come I never made as much money as these bozos when I was four? Like, you see that one by Polly or whoever—”
“It’s Pollock,” Castiel supplies, annoyed. He knows full well that Dean did it entirely on purpose to make him pop a few blood vessels.
“—Yeah, anyway, what I’m saying is that I probably made something just like that in kindergarten and yet you don’t see any Dean Winchester masterpieces anywhere.”
Castiel doesn’t say it out loud but he’s privately glad that, save for the gallery itself, there is nothing of Dean’s at the Museum of Modern Art. As revolutionary as the museum’s collection is, he’s not sure the world is ready for Dean Winchester to add to it.
Roughly two hundred people (Castiel knows this because he was the one who put them on the guest list) are scattered across the Winchester Gallery, “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing at the various pieces around them. Castiel wonders how many of them actually know anything about contemporary art. The next person who informs him that Rothko was a hack is getting punched in the face.
Dean, with a speed not unlike that of a viper, swipes his third or fourth champagne from a passing waiter. “Seriously, Cas, why did I ever donate anything to the MoMA? They’re not exactly lacking in funds.”
“Because it’s good PR and I happen to like modern art,” he replies smoothly. He cocks his head slightly to the left, eyes narrowed, before he reaches forward to adjust Dean’s bow tie. “There,” he says to himself, proud of his handiwork. Dean just rolls his eyes but there’s a fond smile on his face.
Of course, it’s not as if anyone else was going to notice how his bow tie was slightly crooked at a thirty-degree angle to the right anyway. Dean tried to break him out of his perfectionist habits years ago, failed spectacularly at it, and eventually resigned himself to being Castiel’s “personal life-sized Barbie” for the rest of his life.
“When are we allowed to leave again?” he whispers, leaning over until his lips nearly graze Castiel’s ear. His breath smells of champagne and caramel.
Castiel glances down at his Blackberry. “Two more hours. One if you’re good.”
“Dear God, smite me now,” mutters Dean, draining his champagne in one gulp. “All right, I’m gonna get some more of that candy. Now that’s art.” He mock-salutes Castiel and heads towards the exit.
A little while later, as Castiel wanders back to the refreshment table for more of those shrimp-sized egg sandwiches, a familiar voice suddenly says into his ear, “Your boss isn’t much of a connoisseur, is he?”
Castiel turns around and comes face to face with a man he’s been communicating with by phone for the past few weeks in preparation of this event. The impeccable name tag on his midnight blue tux confirms Castiel’s suspicions. The name “Balthazar Wilkins” is emblazoned on it in neat Times New Roman font with “Curator” written underneath it in smaller text.
He’s a good decade older than Castiel, at least, but time has evidently been extremely kind to him. The messy state of his greying hair, like he just came in from a hurricane, and the way he holds himself—leaning casually on one leg, hands stuffed in his jacket pockets—scream “bad boy” to Castiel. The man gives him a charming smile, offering his hand. “I’m Balthazar, it’s good to finally meet you, Mr. Sutherland.”
Castiel takes his hand and shakes it firmly. “Likewise, and please, call me Castiel.”
“I take it this event was mostly your idea, wasn’t it? Unless there’s a side to the illustrious Dean Winchester that we don’t know about.”
Castiel snorts. “He wouldn’t know what good art was if it went right up to him and gave him a blowjob.” He realizes two seconds after the words leave his mouth that this isn’t exactly the most professional conversation to have at a place like the MoMA and with one of its curators to boot, but Balthazar lets out a brazen laugh, obviously not offended.
“No, I suppose not. Now, if Duchamp had dropped a toilet on his head… ”
They spend the next few minutes talking, mostly about the exhibit but also, pleasantly enough, about their own interests outside of the arts. Castiel learns that Balthazar moved to New York from London when he was fifteen, graduated from Harvard’s Museum Studies program with top marks, and was an all-around refreshing change from the firestorm that is Dean Winchester. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s been checking Castiel out almost as much as Castiel’s been checking him out.
All he knows is that one minute Balthazar is casually suggesting they leave the party early and the next what seems like a dozen guns fire into the air. The skylight explodes into tiny glittering shards and Castiel drops to the ground, automatically raising his arms to protect himself. He finally looks up when he can’t feel glass cutting into his hands and suit anymore.
The exhibition is completely ruined—glass litters the floor like leaves in autumn and a handful of men in black bodysuits and ski masks (How devastatingly original, Castiel notes) have them surrounded. There’s one at each exit and at least six more spread out around the room.
But only the one standing by the Warhol in the corner matters at the moment, because he has a tight grip on Dean’s elbow and a gun against his temple. “Dean!” Castiel yells, already charging towards him, damn the danger. His heart is pounding rapidly against its bone prison, beating in time to the mantra in his head, Dean, Dean, DEAN!
All the breath in his lungs are ripped out of him in a gasp when two strong arms wrap around his middle, pushing him back and securing his arms. He fights back—kicking, punching, and even biting at one point, but stops when he feels the icy whisper of the barrel of a gun against his neck. “Nice try,” says the owner. Castiel can see the outline of a smirk through his mask.
“And who’re you supposed to be?” asks another.
“Winchester’s secretary, I think.”
“What, this scrawny tax accountant? You think he’d have a hot blonde instead.”
Dean grunts, “Let him go.” There’s an ugly glare on his face, made more menacing by the jagged cuts on the sides of his face and a bruise in the shape of a crescent moon forming over his left eye.
The men chuckle, a few of them letting out cat calls and wolf whistles. “Aw, ain’t that sweet, boys? He actually cares,” drawls the one holding the gun to Castiel’s neck. “Don’t you worry, Mr. Winchester, he’s in good hands.” His eyes do a quick sweep around the room. Calculating. “And so are the rest of you—if you cooperate, that is.”
The guests quake in fear. Castiel suspects that more than one of them just pissed their pants.
“My friends and I don’t ask for much,” he continues, his role as leader of the group more apparent now. “Just all your jewelry, your wallets, and—oh! Your cellphones would be nice, too.”
“I want a new iPhone,” someone pipes up. He and some others share a laugh while the guests recoil, scared and still not quite able to accept that this is actually happening to them.
“So if you’ll all just line up in front of these gentlemen with the bags, we can finally get this party started and be out of your hair faster than you can say 9-1-1.”
“That means you too, buddy.” The one holding Castiel’s arms behind his back pushes him towards his fellow hostages.
He glances back to see Dean also being shoved in their direction. His captor’s grip on the gun has loosened but it’s still far too close to him to be comforting. “Whatcha gonna do now, Renegade?” the man mocks, obnoxiously loud. “Can’t do anything now, can you? Not without your stupid suit.”
Then, Dean’s lips curl into a smirk that suddenly has Castiel worried for the thieves.
“Who says I didn’t bring it?”
If Castiel weren’t prepared for it he probably would’ve joined in the chorus of gasps as black and silver pieces of metal suddenly spring up from Dean’s body, surrounding it like a cyclone. They fit like perfect jigsaw puzzle pieces over his arms, legs, torso, neck, and finally, his face. He looks like a knight, except with laser beams instead of swords.
“What the—” is all his poor ex-captor could say.
“Two words,” says Dean—no, Renegade, because he’s a narcissistic douchebag like that. “Nano technology.”
The screams and gunshots start up again in less than a second.
Not that the guns are any useful, though. They ricochet off his armour, bouncing harmlessly onto the marble floor. Once it dawns on the shooters that they’re virtually unarmed and completely helpless they begin to run, pushing down anyone and anything in their way (Castiel spares a moment to cringe as one of the exhibit’s installations topples over and shatters when it meets the ground).
Renegade lifts his hand up and fires tiny pinprick darts out of the tips of his fingers. His targets immediately collapse to the ground like puppets with their strings cut. “Just tranquilizers,” Renegade informs Castiel. Even after having a year to get used to Renegade’s very existence, Castiel can’t help but shiver a little when he hears that metallic voice, so different from the way Dean sounds. Buried under layers and layers of metal and wires, he sounds ominous and god-like—inhuman.
“You’re hurt,” Renegade suddenly says, walking up to Castiel and ignoring the tittering guests around them. He takes one of Castiel’s hands and inspects it. Castiel shivers again, surprised at the warmth seeping into his skin from the metal.
“It’s fine,” he murmurs, “just put a bandaid on it and it'll be like it never happened.” Noticing the incredulous stares, he clears his throat. “I should probably call 911.”
The suit’s helmet opens, revealing Dean’s smirking face. “Already did.”
Life used to be simpler before Renegade was born. Granted, life with Dean Winchester was never really that simple to begin with, but at least back then Castiel knew what was up and what was down. These days, he can’t even rely on his high school knowledge of physics anymore.
The day Dean was kidnapped was a very distinct memory for him. He was due for a meeting with the army at one of their posts in Afghanistan to demonstrate Winchester Industry’s latest product, the Apocalypse Bomb, leaving Castiel behind to manage the company while he was away.
He was prepping for a conference call at two a.m with their Japanese branch when he was interrupted by a phone call from Sam Winchester, who spent most of the time trying to calm a hysterical Castiel down in spite of his own panic after breaking the news that Dean had been kidnapped by insurgents.
The following days blurred together into one big fuzzy smudge of colours like a half-developed Polaroid. Castiel ran on auto-pilot the entire time and did his job as per usual—placating the media, keeping the company from falling apart—only without the CEO’s presence. Technically, as Sam was the only other surviving Winchester, he would’ve been the perfect candidate to replace Dean in this situation, but he was a public defender and was never really interested in the family business in the first place. He and Castiel silently agreed that the responsibility should fall on Castiel since he knew more about the inner workings of the company anyway.
Meanwhile, Castiel tried to tell himself that everything was fine, that Dean was going to be okay. But as the days crawled by and still no ransom note was sent, he could feel himself going insane with worry and stress.
Then one day out of the blue, Dean came back. The way Lieutenant Singer (the company’s military liaison and family friend) described it, several of his men were on patrol when they spotted what looked like a rocket shoot up from the horizon and land not twenty kilometres outside of camp. When they went to investigate, whom else did they find but Dean Winchester.
Sam very nearly hijacked one of the company’s jet planes to bring his brother back himself but it took a combination of sheer will and Castiel’s reasoning to stop him. Granted, Castiel had been pretty tempted by the idea, too.
On the day of Dean’s return, Castiel stood on the runway of JFK alongside Sam and Zachariah Adler, another family friend and John Winchester’s business partner since Dean was born. He just barely stopped himself from throwing his arms around Dean when he stepped off the plane looking as banged up as one would expect considering the ordeal he went through, but thankfully alive. Sam, however, had no such qualms and almost tackled him to the ground with the force of his hug.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” Dean commented once Sam finally let go. He gave Castiel a lazy once-over that neither of them took seriously. Flirting was his way of saying hello.
Castiel allowed himself to smile—just a bit—in response. “Look who’s talking.” Dean’s left arm was in a cast and his right eye was forced half-shut from the nasty swelling that surrounded it. There were several cuts all over his unshaven face and Castiel knew that he would probably find more on his body if he were to look under the man’s shirt. Not that he thought about undressing his boss in great detail or anything.
Dean frowned when he noticed the identical bags under their eyes. “Jesus, you guys look like you haven’t slept in days.”
Castiel had been getting an average of five hours of sleep a week since the kidnapping. Sam almost certainly had less. “That tends to happen when your brother gets kidnapped, yes,” Sam replied.
Dean threw his head back and laughed. “Well, I’m back now and I’m not going anywhere for a while. Sorry, Cas, but it looks like you’re stuck with me for a little longer,” he teased.
Castiel let out a long-suffering sigh. “And here I was hoping I’d finally be rid of you forever.” They both knew it was a lie.
Before Dean could say anything else Zachariah interrupted with an obnoxious cough. “As much as I hate to break this lovely reunion,” he said, not apologetic at all, “you have a press conference in one hour so I suggest we start moving before we’re late.” Castiel cringed on Dean’s behalf. He wanted to give Dean as much rest as possible before unleashing him into the real world again but the press conference was the only thing he couldn’t postpone.
Just as expected, Dean groaned loudly at that. If there was one thing Castiel could say Dean hated with full confidence, it was the media. Contrary to popular belief, Dean had no love for the paparazzi and journalists that followed him around like lost ducklings. It was only when he was in control of his own image that he played nice.
It was later at the press conference when things got weird. A pretty blonde reporter stood up when it was her turn, her light grey dress suit immaculate and her brown eyes narrowed in scrutiny. “Mr. Winchester,” she began, looking directly at Dean, “did the rocket Lieutenant Singer describe in his report have anything to do with your escape from the insurgents?”
The room fell silent save for the rapid camera clicks. All eyes were on Dean. Castiel couldn’t help staring in curiosity either—Dean had clammed up immediately when Sam asked about his escape during the car ride to the conference.
He coughed, adjusting his face to form a mask of sheepishness. That was when Castiel knew that it would take a lot more than just one hot reporter to get him to open up. “To be honest, I didn’t really notice a rocket. Sorry, it was all just a blur to me.” He aimed an embarrassed smile directly at the biggest camera in the room. “But now that you mentioned it,” he went on so suddenly that warning bells started ringing in Castiel’s head. “I wanted to talk about something very near and dear to me, if you’ll let me.”
Castiel let out a soft snort at that (of course they were going to let him—who else besides Sam and him would ever say no to the great Dean Winchester?) but remained on guard. He knew Dean almost as well as Sam did and it was clear as day to him that he was up to something. “I’ve done a lot of thinking during my time in captivity,” said Dean, his voice uncharacteristically quiet. “And… I saw things I never would’ve seen otherwise, things that… I was always aware of, you know? But it’s one thing to know something and another thing entirely to have it blow up right in front of your face. Quite literally, in my case…”
Someone cleared their throat. “Right, anyway, what I’m trying to say is… I’m shutting down Winchester Industry’s weapons division. Permanently. Thank you, that is all.” And just like that, Dean strutted off the stage, as if he weren’t aware of the uproar he caused at all.
Castiel and Sam exchanged worried glances before falling in step with him. “Dean, are you sure about this?” Sam asked quietly, because there were still cameras and audio recorders within the vicinity and the last thing they needed was someone to pick up on potential drama within the Winchester family.
“I’m sure,” answered Dean, quiet but full of so much confidence he was practically bursting with it. That was what hit Castiel most about that day, the determination in those two words.
Dean was the kind of person who made airy promises. Oh, he always kept his word, but that was only because he was a calculative, shrewd son of a bitch. That was what made him a genius—he was always ten steps ahead of everyone. He never ventured into something of which he wasn’t at least 90% sure of the outcome. For him to do something like this was… well, “insane” would’ve been putting it mildly.
But Dean was also someone who didn’t do anything without a reason no matter how crazy they seemed to Castiel. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Dean flashed him a grin. “You know me, Cas,” he said smoothly, “I always know what I’m doing.”
Sam is, unsurprisingly, waiting for them when they arrive at the penthouse. He winces when he gets a better look at them. “Jesus, you just can’t go anywhere without being assaulted, can you?” he asks, looking directly at Dean.
“What can I say, I’m irresistible.” Dean shrugs.
“I take it your new nano suit did its job, then.”
“Like a charm.”
“If that’ll be all…” Castiel interrupts, already heading back to the elevator.
Both Dean and Sam turn to stare at him like he just grew a second head. “But Cas, it’s three in the morning,” Sam protests.
“And,” cuts in Dean, looking more irritated now than he did the entire time they were at the MoMA, “you could just stay here for the night. God knows we have the space.”
Castiel smiles at them, not unkindly. “Thank you, but I really need to be getting home. I already asked Rufus to drive me back. Goodnight.”
Before either brother can say anything, he continues on his way and doesn’t stop until he’s in the elevator. It’s not the first time they, particularly Dean, asked him to stay the night at the penthouse after some late night event or other. Friends or not, Dean’s still his employer and Castiel would rather avoid the inevitable awkwardness, thank you very much.
A few months later, Castiel finds himself standing in front of the massive oak doors of Dean’s office. He raps on it twice and waits precisely five seconds before going in. Just as he predicted, an unfamiliar woman is straddling Dean in his cushy leather chair, naked, back facing Castiel and head thrown back in pleasure.
“Oh yeah, right there, babe—Cas!” Dean yelps when he catches sight of Castiel over the girl’s shoulder. The girl squeaks and instantly jumps off, landing less than gracefully on the ground, arms crossed over her chest and eyes wide in mortification.
“Hello,” he says politely to her. “You have five minutes to change and leave before I do it for you.”
She’s out the door in two.
“Cockblock,” Dean complains as he tucks his shirt in and buttons his pants, flushed and sweaty. “You know, it’s really creepy how you always seem to know when I’m getting some.”
“No, what’s creepier is how many times I’ve seen your genitals since I started working here,” Castiel shoots back as he moves to turn off the TV running quietly in the background.
“… a breakout took place at the Lincoln Correctional Facility today at approximately—”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Hey, it’s not my fault you don’t know how to knock.”
“Actually, I do. You were just… ah, too preoccupied to notice.” Castiel smiles sweetly at him.
Castiel ignores him and brings up a file on his Blackberry. “Bentley wants to confirm some technical details about your entrance for the Expo opening tonight. I’m sending you his number right now.” A “ding!” echoes from Dean’s phone. Nodding in satisfaction, Castiel continues, “Speaking of the Expo, I have your suit ready. It’ll be waiting for you when you get home tonight. Try not spill anything on it before you’re in the Expo this time, bodily fluids or otherwise.”
Dean actually cackles at that, because he’s secretly a four year old. “Man, that was an awesome birthday party,” he says wistfully. “The way that girl could twist her body…”
“Will that be all?” Castiel interrupts loudly.
Dean blinks out of his reverie and turns to look at him, considering, and the intensity in his eyes is making Castiel fidget. Dean opens his mouth as if to say something, then shuts it, shaking his head. It’s not the first time this has happened before and Castiel feels strangely relieved and disappointed at the same time. “Never mind, I’ll see you tonight at the Expo. Try to lighten up, yeah?”
Castiel indulges him with a wry grin. “Easier said than done.”
Dean eventually told them what happened while he was kidnapped. Mainly because he had to after he forced Castiel to replace the fucking mini arc reactor in his chest while Sam Winchester stood on the sideline staring in horror.
“There was another guy with me,” Dean began, leaning back in his seat in the 1967 Chevy Impala his dad left him after he died. There were dozens of other classic cars in the workshop, most of them a lot more comfortable, but Dean always chose this one when he wanted somewhere to sit and think. “His name was Joshua. Didn’t get his last name. He saved me.” He pointed to the arc reactor. The sound of his fingernail tapping against the glass reverberated in the car. Sam sat in the passenger seat, Castiel in the back. His eyes met Dean’s green ones in the rearview mirror.
“The insurgents wanted me to build an Apocalypse Bomb for them. As you can tell, I didn’t. I built something else and Joshua helped me with it.”
“Something else?” asked Sam.
“Yeah, that rocket Bobby noted in his report? That was me.”
Castiel leaned forward. “What do you mean, that was you?” he asked slowly in his best Dean Winchester, you better tell me the truth right now before I go find and burn all your Led Zeppelin records tone.
“I mean that Joshua and I built a… a kind of armour. It’s the only reason I’m here now and not scattered across the desert in millions of pieces.”
“An exoskeleton,” breathed Sam, amazed. He may have been a lawyer but John Winchester was his father, too. “Are you telling me that you built an entire exoskeleton out of scrap metal in the middle of the freaking desert?”
“Scout’s honour,” said Dean, grinning wryly.
It was then that Castiel realized something and his heart sank. “What happened to Joshua?” he asked, even though he was pretty sure he already knew the answer.
Dean’s breath stuttered but he shouldered on, because he was a Winchester and they were stubborn as hell. “He sacrificed himself so I could escape,” he said bluntly.
Tears were brimming on the edge of his eyes now. Sam sucked in a breath and gently placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry.” Castiel placed his hand on his other shoulder, squeezing it.
Dean nodded, accepting their condolences. “So you see why—why I can’t make weapons anymore,” he said, his voice was shaky but held a terrifying anger in it. “Not after that. I don’t care what Zachariah says, but I’m not.”
“Well, fancy seeing you again.”
Castiel turns around, startled, but quickly hides it with a pleasant smile. It’s Balthazar, and he somehow seems to look even more attractive than how Castiel remembered him. Truthfully, he hadn’t thought about Balthazar at all since the night at the MoMA. He’s wearing a less formal suit tonight with the first couple buttons of his shirt unbuttoned, revealing just little springs of hair. “You’re looking much better than the last time I saw you.”
“I could say the same to you. How’s the boss doing?”
“See for yourself.” Castiel nods in the direction of the stage where Dean is currently posing for the cameras with a big shit-eating grin on his face, surrounded by a group of very attractive women dressed like Renegade… after a fashion. Turning back to Balthazar, he says, “I didn’t think the Winchester Expo would be your thing.”
Balthazar’s lips turn up into a predatory smile. “Actually, I’m here for something else entirely.” It’s then that Castiel notices he’s taken hold of his hand and is gently rubbing small circles over his palm with his thumb. Heat surges through Castiel’s body—he’s been propositioned before but he can’t recall the last time anyone actually chased after him. He has to admit that he’s impressed and flattered.
“What say you and I make our escape? I believe we still have an unsettled engagement.” whispers Balthazar, his voice low and husky. It sends shivers down Castiel’s spine and his pants are suddenly tighter than they were five seconds ago.
“Can’t,” Castiel murmurs, his breath ghosting over Balthazar’s lips. “I haven’t clocked out yet.” He pulls back but doesn’t let go of Balthazar’s hand. “Maybe after, if you don’t mind waiting.” He raises an eyebrow.
Balthazar grins, accepting the challenge. “I’ll wait as long as you want,” he says, and Castiel is suddenly struck with the realization that he’s talking about more than just a one-night stand.
He alternates between doing his job (which basically consists of running around the expo ensuring that nothing will break down until after everyone’s gone home) and talking with Balthazar, who just looks amused the entire time. Honestly, Castiel could kiss him for how patient he is. One of the reasons he stopped dating shortly after getting his job at Winchester Industries was that none of his partners were capable of understanding why he had to work the hours he did. Castiel’s aware that he keeps weird hours, but the thing is, he actually likes his job. Sure, his boss is possibly one of the most immature human beings on the planet, but Castiel realized a long time ago that he wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
It’s an hour until the expo is officially over and Castiel’s about to say fuck it—because while he’s not a nympho like Dean, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy sex once in a while—when an arm slides around his shoulders, pulling him against a warm body. He twists his head, stomach dropping when he sees Dean. Disheveled and most likely drunk. “Hey, Cas,” he slurs. Most definitely drunk. Castiel stares in horror as he brings a bottle of Rye to his lips.
He instantly pulls the bottle out of his grasp and hands it to a passing waiter. Really, he’d rather have slammed it onto Dean’s head—see if that’ll sober him up—but godammit, somebody has to be professional here. “Dean, this is Balthazar, from the MoMA. Balthazar, this is my boss, Dean Winchester.”
Balthazar, for his part, looks unfazed by Dean’s less than stellar behaviour and reaches forward to shake his hand. “The pleasure’s all mine, Mr. Winchester. I’ve heard so much about you.”
Dean just glares at him, not even bothering to be subtle. “Really? Because I haven’t. Heard about you, I mean.”
Castiel pastes a smile on his face as he slams his heel down on Dean’s feet. Dean just winces but is otherwise indifferent to it (apparently those Hugo Boss shoes are sturdier than they look). “I’ve been busy, no thanks to you,” he chirps, gritting his teeth.
“Understandable.” Balthazar smiles back.
Dean bristles. “Yeah, well—” Castiel has about two seconds of warning before Dean lurches forward, thankfully after letting go of Castiel, and vomits.
Castiel sighs. Looks like he won’t be getting any tonight after all.
Looking back, Castiel should’ve seen it coming.
Zachariah was strangely absent for the majority of Dean’s kidnapping. The few times Castiel saw him, he was muttering into his phone. When Dean returned, Zachariah joined them all in celebration, but there were certain moments when Castiel could’ve sworn he saw a dark, ugly cloud pass over his face.
Now, hiding behind a crate as Renegade and Zachariah were battling it out in their respective suits in one of Winchester Industries’ abandoned warehouses, he scolded himself for not figuring it out earlier.
Where Renegade’s suit was all sharp angles and polish, Zachariah’s was sandpaper rough, hulking, and uncoordinated (Almost, Castiel thought hysterically, like a turtle. Only it wasn’t a very funny joke). Even though Renegade had the experience, Zachariah’s strength evened the field.
Renegade smashed against a wall, letting out an ugly ring that echoed in the warehouse, and crumpled to the floor like a rag doll. Zachariah marched up to him, taking his time, while Renegade struggled to get up. Castiel chanced a look from behind the crate and his heart broke at the sight that laid in front of him. “I’ve waited ten years for this,” said Zachariah, his voice more sinister behind his iron mask. “I helped your father start the company and what did he do? Go behind my back and leave it all to you? A punk? I couldn’t have that now, could I?”
“Zachariah, please…” Renegade’s helmet opened, revealing Dean’s bloodied face. Castiel had to bite down onto his knuckle to keep a gasp from spilling out.
Zachariah didn’t give Dean the chance to continue. He raised his foot and slammed it down onto his stomach, indifferent to Dean’s scream of pain. “Oh, I could get used to this; a Winchester finally at my mercy. You know, I think I might even let Sammy live—can’t get rid of both of you at the same time, unfortunately. It’ll look too suspicious.”
Dean spat out a gob of blood and shot him a venomous glare. Castiel knew right then and there that whatever familial feelings Dean might’ve still had for Zachariah were gone now, replaced by pure, unadulterated hatred. “Don’t you dare touch him, you son of a bitch,” he hissed. There was so much pain evident in his voice, but that didn’t stop Dean from trying to get up. Meanwhile, Zachariah watched, amused.
A spark lit up briefly in the corner of Castiel’s eye and he began crawling towards it frantically, hoping to find something—anything—that could be of use to Dean at all. A small voice in his head screamed at him to run and call the police because what he was doing was fucking suicidal but he ignored it. There wasn’t time to call the police and more importantly, that was Dean out there. Somewhere along the line, Dean stopped being just a boss and somehow snuck into a space in Castiel’s heart usually reserved for his friends.
“But maybe I’ll be able to do something about that PA of yours. There’s gotta be a reason you’ve kept him for so long. I bet it’s that great ass of his. Maybe I’ll pay him a visit after I dump your body in the Hudson River.”
Dean let out an inhuman growl and, to both Zachariah and Castiel’s surprise, leapt at Zachariah, tackling him in the middle. Zachariah caught his fist before he could bring it down and tossed him to the right like he was nothing more than garbage.
Dean landed on his back and groaned. He tried to push himself up by the elbows but was instantly slammed back down against the hard concrete floor when Zachariah landed on top of him, straddling him. Zachariah’s helmet popped open and Castiel couldn’t keep from shuddering. His lips were twisted into a disturbing smile, all teeth, and his face looked more demonic than human. “Any last words, Dean-o?”
Picking up the the loose wire, Castiel yelled, “Hey, assbutt!”
Castiel was already charging towards them when Zachariah whipped his head up the same time Dean gasped, “Cas, no!” Zachariah didn’t have time to react as Castiel jammed the end of the wire into his chest, where he kept his suit’s mini arc reactor (That you stole from Dean, Castiel thought, vindictive). He jumped back afterwards, watching in a mixture of fascination and horror as Zachariah let out an unearthly screech. His suit started to convulse, unable to contain all that energy.
Dean quickly pushed him off and hurried to Castiel’s side. “Stay back,” he ordered, putting an arm out in front of Castiel while they both inched backwards slowly.
In the end, Zachariah’s death was a quick one. It was almost anticlimactic, but Castiel still remembered the feeling of fear gripping his heart like an icy claw and he knew this was something he would never forget for a long time.
Dean nudged him gently. “Let’s go home.”
After apologizing to Balthazar and numerous other people for Dean Winchester’s abrupt exit, Castiel joins Dean in his car. Rufus Turner takes one look at him and snorts, “Boy’s liver’s gonna explode by the time he’s forty.”
“And no one will be surprised,” Castiel grunts. He opens the mini-fridge, pulling out a bottle of water. For a moment, he’s tempted to just douse Dean with it but he’s not that cruel. Besides, the hangover he’ll wake up with tomorrow will be punishment enough. “Here,” he says, nudging him, “drink this.”
He almost forces the bottle into Dean’s hand and doesn’t let go as Dean gingerly takes a sip of it. Dean lets out a groan afterwards. “M’sorry, Cas,” he slurs, “f’r ruinin’ your date.”
Castiel sighs. “Balthazar was not my date. He just happened to show up.”
“Still, I saw the way you looked at him. You wanted him, didn’t you?”
For a guy who constantly forgets where his sock drawer is, he’s surprisingly perceptive when not sober. Castiel sighs again. “I won’t deny it, but that’s irrelevant now. You’ll always come first.” There’s no bitterness in his voice as he says it, though, just nonchalant resignation to a fact he’s known for a long time. In a way, Dean’s become his rock over the years, the one thing he can always trust to be there without fail. Even when there are times he’s sorely tempted to choke the life out of the other man.
He feels a slight pang of regret at abandoning Balthazar—and he has a feeling he won’t be seeing him again for a long time—but that’s all it is. Right now, Dean’s his number one priority and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t do his job properly.
Dean snuffles as he shifts in his seat. He somehow manages to raise his head and squint at Castiel. “We should get m’rried.”
The car swerves to the opposite lane but quickly returns to the right before an oncoming car could crash into them. Castiel glares at Rufus over the rearview window—Rufus, to his credit, has the decency to look ashamed—and presses a button on the side to raise the screen. Turning back to Dean, he clears his throat, trying to will his blush away and force his heart to stop beating so rapidly. After all, it’s just a joke. “I’m sorry?” he says, managing not to squeak too much.
“I said I think we should get married,” Dean repeats, louder and less slurred.
“And I think that you need to stop talking before you say something that will embarrass you forever. Also, you’re drunk.”
“No, m’serious,” Dean insists, shifting closer to Castiel. He smells of sweat and whiskey and iron. His eyes hold a terrifying gleam of determination and all Castiel can do is to just keep breathing. “I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout it f’r a’while and… well, you’re like my wife.”
“I’m sure a lot of feminists out there would have words with you about that,” Castiel gulps out, but it’s not really an insult. There’s a depressing amount of truth in that statement.
“Shut up. What I mean is… is, you take care of me and you nev’r want anything in return. It’s the perfect solution!”
“You pay me.”
“Yeah, but if money was all you wanted, why didn’t you quit years ago?”
It’s true; Castiel’s made enough during the past five years to have retired any time he wanted. It just never occurred to him to quit. He turns away, unable to bear being under Dean’s scrutiny any longer. He can’t breathe—a bubble of fierce, unidentifiable emotions is clawing up his throat in an attempt to get to the surface but he squashes it. “You know I can’t, Dean.”
“And why not?” he asks, his voice choking on desperation.
“Because it’s not appropriate,” Castiel says calmly. He doesn't say, "Because I don't belong in your world." His hands are shaking.
Thankfully, the car rolls to a stop before Dean could make a comeback and Castiel all but pushes him out and drags him into the doorman’s waiting arms. He doesn’t care that it’s nearly two in the morning, Sam can take it from here.
“I really mean it, you know!” Dean calls out as Castiel hurries back to the car. “We should get married!”
The doorman raises an eyebrow but thankfully doesn’t say anything. Castiel slams the door shut with more force than necessarily and simply tells Rufus to step on it. He also raises an eyebrow at Castiel but stays silent, too.
His head is still spinning when he arrives at his apartment. He mumbles a quiet “good night” to Rufus and hurries inside. It takes him three tries to get the door open while his hands continue to shake violently.
Him and Dean? He forces out a laugh. The genius billionaire playboy philanthropist and the lowly PA? Yeah, right.
He finally manages to unlock the door to his apartment and rushes in.
He doesn’t see the bat coming until it’s too late and the last thing he remembers before blacking out is thinking, Dean.
Castiel opens his eyes and sees Dean smiling above him. “Hey,” he says, “had a good nap?”
“I… where are we?”
“On the Mary, remember? For our sixth anniversary.” Dean laughs, shaking his head fondly at Castiel, and walks towards a nearby table holding a bucket with the tops of two champagne bottles sticking out.
Castiel nods to himself as he looks around him, recognizing the surface of the yacht Dean bought years ago. The sky above them is a perfect, gorgeous blue and down below the water seems to go on forever. Then, “Wait, sixth anniversary?” Castiel spins around stares at his boss.
Dean laughs again, returning with two glasses filled to the brim. He’s dressed in a loose white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of old ripped jeans, his favourite. He looks like he hasn’t shaved in days, but Castiel is too stunned to reprimand him for it (he doesn't admit that his heart beats just a little faster at the sight of him like this). He simply takes the glass Dean offers.
Dean takes a seat next to him, dropping his head back on the rail, and sighs wistfully. “Doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, does it?” Castiel nods, numb. Dean turns to look at him and Castiel’s grip on his glass tightens when he meets Dean’s eyes, full of so much love, and it’s all for him. “Well,” says Dean as he raises his glass in the air, “cheers to us.”
Their glasses clink, the sound resonating in the air for a few moments before eventually fading in the breeze. Dean sighs and stretches his arms, putting one of them around Castiel’s shoulder and pulling him closer. “Man, we should just stay here forever. Just you and me, Cas, and nothing but the ocean.”
“It sounds tempting,” says Castiel, smiling. “But our stocks aren’t going to last forever.”
“No,” Dean agrees, “but I could learn to fish. You never know, I might be really good at it.”
“Now that I’d like to see,” Castiel snorts.
Peaceful silence reigns over them and Castiel has to admit, Dean has a point. It would be hard, at first, to live without a laptop or Blackberry at his fingertips at all times, but the pros of living on the sea with Dean for the rest of their lives definitely outweigh the cons. “Hey,” Dean says softly, leaning forward. “I love you.”
His mouth meets Castiel’s briefly and it feels—
Castiel wakes up and sees a man he doesn’t recognize standing over him, a cruel smile on his face. “So, Sleeping Beauty has finally woken up.”
Castiel learns that his kidnapper’s name is Gordon Walker and he was the ringleader of the men who attacked them at the MoMA all those months ago. In reality, it feels like it’s been years since then. Castiel has no idea how long he’s been asleep but judging by the light coming from the skylight above them (they’re in some sort of warehouse, he thinks), it’s probably late in the morning.
He watches as Walker sets up a tripod in front of him. “If you think you can blackmail Dean Winchester, then you clearly don’t know him well enough,” Castiel tells him calmly. He tugs at the rope binding him to the chair, but it’s still as tight as it was the first time he tried. He bites his lip in frustration.
“Oh, I think I know him more than you do, Lois Lane.”
“My name is Castiel Sutherland,” he grits his teeth. “And I’m telling you you’re not going to get one cent from Dean.”
“Dean, Dean, Dean,” sing-songs Walker. “You and the boss seem to have a pretty good work relationship, don’t you?” Castiel’s heart stops beating. “Unless there’s more to it than that.”
When Castiel remains silent, Walker barks out a harsh laugh. “Different strokes for different folks and all that, right?” He finishes setting up the camera and moves to stand behind Castiel, nonchalantly drawing a gun from his back. “Smile for the camera, pretty.” To the camera, he says, “Hello, Dean Winchester. Do you remember me?” He waits a beat. “Probably not. Allow me to jog your memory.” He suddenly whips the gun at Castiel’s face.
He’s still shocked by the sudden burst of pain when Walker fists his hair, pulling him up to face the camera. He feels the cool press of a gun against his chin. “My name is Gordon Walker. We met briefly at the museum. And you, Renegade, are responsible for the fact that my boys are currently rotting in their cells.” His voice raises to an angry shout. “So I thought I’d pay you back in kind. Say hello to the camera, pretty.”
Castiel purses his lips but Walker forces a cry out of him when he pistol whips him again. “That’s better. Now, you listen to me, Winchester, because you’re playing by my rules now. Three hours from now, you’re going to meet me at JFK with two million dollars and a guarantee for safe passage to Paris. I don’t think I need to tell you what’ll happen if you don’t.”
Two hours pass and Walker still isn’t rushing to get ready, so Castiel assumes that either they’re extremely close to the airport or, more worryingly, he’s about to become fish food. “Dean won’t come for me. You would’ve been better off with his brother instead. I’m just a PA.”
Walker chuckles as he continues cleaning his gun. “Don’t be too harsh on yourself, pretty,” he says. Castiel is really beginning to hate that word. “I saw the way Winchester looked at you at the museum. He’s head over heels for you and that’s gonna be my ticket outta here.”
“And then you’ll let me go?” Castiel asks, dubious.
Walker shrugs. “We’ll see about that—”
The skylight explodes, giving Castiel flashbacks of the night at the museum, and Renegade drops down with a loud ‘thump!’
“Honey, I’m home,” he says, looking straight at Castiel as he says so.
Walker, still in shock, raises his gun with the trigger half-pulled, but Renegade’s faster. With a burst from the mini rockets at the bottom of his feet, he shoots forward and slaps the gun out of Walker’s hand. He fists his hand in the man’s shirt and lifts him up in the air. The helmet opens.
The smirk on Dean's face is devoid of any of his usual humour and his eyes are narrowed. Castiel almost swears he hears the air crackle—Dean is a thunderstorm waiting to burst. “You’ll regret taking him from me.” He tosses Walker onto the floor like he’s featherlight. The other man groans and tries, weakly, to get back up but he's soon out cold.
As the Renegade suit disappears, sinking back into his skin, Dean rushes to Castiel’s side to untie his ropes. When the last knot’s loose, Castiel jumps and locks his arms around Dean’s neck, burying his face against his shoulder. He doesn’t realize he’s shaking and breathing heavily until he feels an arm tighten around his waist and a hand gently stroke his back. Dean pulls him close, whispering soothingly into his hear. “Shhh, you’re okay now, Cas. You’re okay now,” he says, though Castiel isn’t sure whom he’s addressing.
Castiel leans away and opens his mouth to say something.
But he fails to get a word in edgewise when Dean presses his lips against Castiel’s. Time freezes as their lips touch—not a dream, not a dream—but quickly resumes within a few seconds. It’s as if someone just turned on a switch in Castiel’s body because he suddenly can’t stop kissing Dean. All he knows right now is that he needs this. Needs to know that he’s alive, they’re both alive. Dean responds in kind. Pushing him until his back hits the wall, and then Castiel is holding on for dear life with only Dean’s arms supporting him.
They finally pull apart to breathe and stare at each other in shock. A thin strand of saliva runs from Dean’s bottom lip to Castiel’s, which sends a wave of heat down Castiel’s body. “I—” begins Dean, flustered.
Castiel shuts him up with another kiss, putting everything he feels into it. “Let’s go home,” he whispers against his mouth.
Only Winchester Industries was hiring at entry level when Castiel graduated with a BA in Art History and a minor in Accounting. It wasn’t what he was expecting, but he was content with his job as a desk monkey. It was the only reason he could afford an apartment in Upper Manhattan.
Although his boss was the one who officially checked the numbers that streamed into Accounting, it was Castiel’s job to look over them first. He never found a single mistake during his first three months at Winchester Industries but something stuck out to him one day. The numbers didn’t match up with his math.
He went through it twice, thrice, four times, before he finally went to his boss, Walter Dixon, to double-check. He printed a copy and circled the numbers with a cherry red pen. Dixon took one look at his work and snorted. “Please, Mr. Winchester never makes a mistake.”
“Get back to work, Sutherland.”
Castiel bit his lip. He’d be fine if Dixon had found an error in his calculations, but being ignored was another thing entirely. He tried to consult others in the department in an attempt to get at least one person to back his argument, but they all gave him the same reaction he received from Dixon the first time: complete and utter disbelief.
“Winchester’s a living calculator,” said one of his co-workers in a tone like he was addressing a small child. “The day he makes a mistake will be the day the world ends.”
“You people have a surprisingly strong faith in a man who’s frequently caught on YouTube without his pants on,” Castiel muttered as he stormed away, the accounts scrunched up in his hand.
He knew how low his position in the company was and that it was probably best that he let it go, but the significant gap between the numbers on the paper and the numbers in his head was too much to ignore. The least he could do was let the CEO know. After that, it was up to him whether or not he wanted his company to sink.
So, with the legendary Sutherland determination, he stalked up to Dean Winchester’s office, ignoring the receptionist’s protests as he pushed through the doors. His first thought was that Winchester was shorter than he expected. Castiel admitted that he was attractive (he wasn’t at the top of New York’s Most Eligible Bachelor’s list three years in a row for nothing), but actually seeing him in the flesh wasn’t nearly as exciting as his conquests made it seem like on People’s. Winchester looked up from his desk and ran his eyes down Castiel’s body, obviously appreciating what he saw. Castiel’s face burned at the appraisal. “Well,” he drawled, smirking, “you don’t look like you’re from the mail room, but I’m sure we can work something out.”
As far as first meetings went, Castiel supposed that this one won the Most Awkward category. A security guard appeared in the doorway and tried to grab his elbow but he dodged it and spun around, already furious at his treatment from Dixon and the entire fucking accounting department, and yelled, “Get back or I’ll peel you like a potato!”
To this day, Castiel doesn’t know why that was the first thing he said. Dean still claims that his ears are still ringing from their first meeting. Castiel usually elbows him at that point in the story.
The guard, receptionist, and Dixon—who just joined the party after learning that one of his own had broken away from the herd and wanted to confront the almighty Dean Winchester himself—stared at him, dumbfounded. Only Dean seemed unfazed by the reaction. Instead, he started laughing and clapping his hands. “‘Peel you like a potato’?” he guffawed. “Really?”
Castiel whirled around and glared at him. “I’m glad that you take your employees' concerns seriously.”
Dean stopped, but his smirk was still fixed in place. “Oh, I do, believe me. Now the question is why are you here? The tag you’re wearing says you work here, but if you really wanted to have a private talk with me, you should’ve gone to the nearest bar.”
Huffing in indignation, Castiel stormed towards the desk and smacked the piece of crumpled paper down on his desk. “I just thought you should have a look at this before your company loses billions in dollars.”
Dixon shoved him away and gave Dean a simpering smile. “Don’t listen to him, sir, he just started working here and doesn’t know what he’s saying—”
“I know exactly what I’m saying,” said Castiel. “You’re just too pig-headed—”
“These numbers are wrong.”
Silence fell and both Castiel and Dixon turned to stare at Dean. Dean raised his head and his eyes moved straight to Castiel, looking at him in a whole new light. “How did you find this?”
“Basic arithmetic,” Castiel said, taking a vindictive pleasure in seeing Dixon wince.
Dean nodded, his eyes still fixed on him. “I don’t know how I could’ve done this. Must’ve moved a decimal wrong at some point,” he said, more to himself than to his audience, as he scanned the rest of the sheet.
“It might have something to do with all that partying and alcohol,” said Castiel before he could stop himself. If he wasn’t sure that he was going to be unemployed by the end of the day, he was now.
To his surprise, Dean simply chuckled. “Trust me, there’s not enough alcohol in the world to get me that drunk. What’s your name?”
“Okay, Cas,” continued Dean, like he'd known Castiel for years rather than just a few minutes. “Where do you work?”
“In Accounting,” he replied. “I started three months ago.”
“And who’s the Head Accountant?”
Dixon timidly raised his hand. “I—I am, sir.”
Dean didn’t even give him a glance as he nodded to himself, seeming to have come to some sort of conclusion, and declared, “Great. Cas, you can have his job.”
Dixon started sputtering the same time Castiel began exclaiming, “I don’t understand—”
“Sir, please think about this for a minute—”
“Dixon,” said Dean, looking at him for the first time, annoyance written across his face. “I can assure you that you will be well compensated for your time here, and Cas… ” he said, turning back to Castiel, who jumped at the mention of his new nickname, “… you can start moving your things to his desk tomorrow.”
Castiel was stunned and all he could do was nod along. “I—yes, sir,” he said. It would be the last time he ever addressed Dean as “sir.”
Dean grinned, his eyes playful. “No one’s ever called me out on my work before. I could use someone like you.”
“I’ll try my best,” replied Castiel, smiling as well.
Hi, I got your # from someone at the expo. Are we still on? - BW
Castiel barely finishes reading the text before his thumb automatically moves to the delete button on his Blackberry. Dean rolls over and gives him a strange look. “What was that about?” he slurs, his voice heavy with sleep.
Castiel shakes his head, smiling, and turns the Blackberry off, tossing it in the general direction of the bedside drawer. He leans over and kisses Dean. “Nothing, go back to sleep.” He brings the duvet up over them and burrows in Dean’s waiting arms.