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"Rest assured he'll be getting a spanking when we get home, ma'am," Castiel said to the woman, who was soaked in pickle juice.

She blinked at Cas while Dean's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. The woman was in her late seventies, and she'd lived in a time when that sort of thing wasn't so shocking, so she recovered much faster than Dean did.

"See to it that he does," the woman said, pushing her wet hair back and wiping at her face. "I don't know what he was thinking, but if I ever see his face again, I'm calling the police!"

"He's very sorry," Sam said, putting a hand on Dean's neck and squeezing just enough that Dean got the message.

"I'm very sorry, ma'am," Dean said, ducking his head. The blush was genuine.

"Of all the bullshit I've heard over the years," the woman said, shaking her head as she eyed Dean, "a satanic ritual room in my basement because I'm supposedly a demon or a witch is new to me."

"I'm really sorry," Dean said.

"It never occurred to you," the woman said, getting a little closer to Dean, scowling at him, "that perhaps all of my 'suspicious purchases' were because I was canning the fruit and vegetables from my garden?"

"No, ma'am," Dean said, sheepish look on his face.

"And you didn't even bother to pay attention to the fact that all my windows and doors are salted and the basement is full of protective sigils carved into the baseboards and door casings," she huffed, then turned and walked back into her house, slamming the door.

Dean cringed. "Shit."

"Yeah," Sam said, crossing his arms over his chest, "you didn't know she was a retired hunter."

"Which means you didn't bother to do any research on her past," Cas said.

"Oh, c'mon," Dean said, frowning at the both of them. "You've gotta admit the basement was really fuckin' suspicious."

"Dude, she's got her own website," Sam said. "She runs a blog on hunting. You're lucky all she did was lock you in the basement until we talked her down."

"Oh," Dean said, shoulders dropping. He turned to Cas. "So it was an honest mistake. I didn't know."

Cas turned and headed for the car, Sam letting out a huff and following just moments after.

Dean stood there, unable to move until Cas turned to glare at him. "Coming. I'm coming."

The car ride back to the motel was quiet and tense.

*

Dean sauntered into the motel room, and even though it appeared he was fine, he was freaking the fuck out. He hated disappointing people, especially people he loved.

Cas took his coat off and draped it over the luggage rack, kicking his shoes off before he loosened his tie, tossing it over the coat. Dean started to squirm in the middle of the room when Cas unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up his sleeves. But then Cas reached into Sam's duffel.

"Look, I know I fucked up," Dean said, holding his hands up, "but let's just talk about this."

Cas pulled the hairbrush out of Sam's duffel and turned to Dean, patient yet firm. "Okay."

Dean winced. Cas had never just gone after him for no reason, and really he should've expected that Cas would be open to discussion, as usual, but he had nothing. No excuses for what he did, and no way of talking himself out of what was coming.

Sam hung the 'do not disturb' sign on the door handle, then closed and locked the door. "You lied. Multiple times to both of us."

Dean looked down at the floor, cheeks heating up, because yes, he had lied. To both of them. Multiple times. "I've been a hunter longer than the both of you," he said, "and I really thought I had it. The neighbors were suspicious, she had some herbs growing in the garden that most people have never even heard of, and she works on her canning at night in the basement. What was I supposed to think?"

"You were supposed to do research," Cas said.

"Like you said you did," Sam said.

"I did," Dean lied, shrugging. Hunter's intuition had been his research, as well as talking to the neighbors. "I just didn't find anything that led me to believe she was a hunter."

"Research doesn't mean stalking her," Sam said.

"Okay, then where did you find the information about her being a hunter?" Dean asked, ready to give Sam an 'I told you so.'

"I Googled her name," Sam said. "She's open about it. She even has a Q&A section for other hunters."

"Oh," Dean said, then sighed. "Well, I'm not as good at finding that stuff as you are."

"Which I would've done had I known you were lying when you said you'd done the research," Sam said.

"We don't lie to each other," Cas said, voice low.

Dean felt the words in his chest, like someone had punched him. "I'm sorry," he said, the wind knocked out of his sails.

"Take your jacket off," Cas said, then gestured to the chair set by the small table. "Jeans and underwear down, then bend over the chair."

Dean felt like shit, but it was hard to just present himself for discipline. It hurt, and his pride always took a hit when Cas brought him to tears while Sam stayed close by. Dean flinched as Sam came up behind him and started pulling his jacket off.

"Dude," Dean complained, moving forward, but still letting Sam take the jacket off and toss it on the bed.

Sam knew Dean would freeze, that sometimes he needed a little incentive to get moving, and Sam hated when Dean got in more trouble because he didn't follow orders.

"C'mon," Sam said, reaching around him and undoing his belt.

Dean leaned back, drinking in the warmth from his brother. He felt jittery and his ass cheeks were clenching as he looked at the hairbrush in Cas' hand. It was oval, bristles having never touched hair, because Cas had gotten it just for using on Dean. The wood had a shiny coating, some kind of sealant that allowed Cas to keep it clean and helped make it stronger.

His knees felt weak as Sam unbuttoned the jeans, lowered the zipper, and began pushing the jeans and underwear down Dean's legs. Dean pushed back into Sam as Cas took a step toward them, but before he could get himself in more trouble, Sam was pushing him down, his hands on Dean's back and arm, positioning him bent over the chair. Dean put his hands flat on the seat, the scratchy, faded material nothing interesting, nothing he could really focus on to get his mind off what would be happening.

"Why are you getting a spanking?" Cas asked, putting his left hand on Dean's lower back and rubbing the flat of the hairbrush over Dean's left ass cheek.

Dean's junk was squished against the back of the chair, so he squirmed a little until it wasn't digging into the edge, spreading his legs some. His knuckles turned white as he got a good grip on the cushion.

"I lied," Dean said.

The next second he was going up on his toes because Cas was hitting him hard and fast. Yeah, Cas was not happy about the lying. He didn't start with a warm up hand spanking, but went directly to using the hairbrush. Dean tried to settle, knowing that he'd brought it on himself by betraying the trust Cas and Sam had in him.

"Sorry," Dean said, shifting from foot to foot, hoping to alleviate the sting building up in his ass.

Cas was methodical, his strikes evenly spaced and in a rhythm that was harder to take than random hits. Dean knew exactly when each one would come, where it would come, and it made him focus, made him anticipate, which made it even worse.

"Did I not get through to you last time?" Cas asked.

They didn't throw things in each other's faces. Bringing up the past over and over again wasn't their thing, but problem areas had to be mentioned, and lying was something that could tear them apart.

"You did," Dean said through clenched teeth, twisting a bit so that his ass moved away from Cas, but he didn't really get anywhere because Cas wrapped his left hand around Dean's right side, keeping him in place.

"I must not have," Cas said as he started in on the undercurve of Dean's ass cheeks.

"No! You did! Really!" Dean said, going up on his toes again.

"But you did it again," Cas said.

"I know," Dean said, ducking his head and squeezing his eyes shut against the burn. "I'm sorry."

"We're a unit," Sam said, and Dean sucked in a gasp, because he was fucking close.

Dean opened his eyes and lifted his head, looking directly into his brother's eyes, who was kneeling in front of him. Dean opened his mouth, ready to tell Sam to get the fuck away, that this already fucking sucked, and that Sam wasn't helping, but he realized that was the point.

"Secrets and lies hurt us," Sam said.

Dean let out a whimper as Cas started on his upper thighs. "Fuck, Cas, c'mon."

He bent his knees, pulling down some, his ass lowering. It didn't stop Cas' assault on his ass, but Dean couldn't keep still anymore.

"I'm sorry!" Dean said, and winced at the emotion in his voice, the tears welling up in his eyes frustrating him.

Cas started up at the top again, that maddening rhythm almost unbearable as the pain built up. Dean's bottom lip wobbled and he bit it, trying to stay in control. He hated losing that control, hated blubbering in front of Sam and Cas, and if he could just take his punishment, then he could apologize and climb into bed.

The rhythm was a torture in and of itself, and it only added to the pain. Sam was kneeling in front of him, concerned expression on his face, that look he always got when Dean was getting his ass beat for something, like Sam really didn't want it to happen but knew it was necessary, and Cas behind him, hurting Dean when he really hated it, hated making Dean cry, hated leaving Dean's ass red, but all three of them having agreed to this, seeing how well it's worked.

Dean felt a few tears run down his nose and drip onto the cushion below him as Cas started on the undercurve of his ass again.

"If you didn't want to do it, I'd've done the research," Sam said.

Dean went up on his toes again, trying to get away from the burn that he could feel all the way into his throat. "It's not the-ow! It's not... fuck. Ow. Fuck, Cas. Ow. I just... I thought I fuckin' knew," he blurted.

"Oh, you didn't think you needed to do research," Sam said, one eyebrow twitching up.

"Ow!" Dean bellowed as Cas started hitting harder. "Oh, fuck," he groaned, lifting his right foot up. He didn't know what it would do, but it hurt way too much to stay still. He twisted, squirmed, arched his back, squeezed the cushion even harder.

Cas held on, kept spanking. "We've talked about this before."

"I know!" Dean nearly growled. "I'm sorry. I j-oh, fuck, ow! I'm really fu-ow! I'm so fuckin' sorry! Jesus, Cas, I'm s-ow! I'm sorry!"

"Research is necessary," Cas said, starting over at the top of Dean's ass.

"No," Dean whined, not really denying the research so much as he was objecting to beginning at the top of his ass again. "Please, Cas."

His ass had to be bleeding. He just knew it. It was on fire. His skin had to be falling off. It never had before when Cas spanked him, but it fucking hurt.

"We've gotta be able to trust you," Sam said.

The words really didn't make him start crying. No, really. Okay, so maybe it hurt inside his chest, an ache that took his breath away, and then he was crying, sobbing, his face a mess of tears as he tried to remember how to breathe, his body shivering, legs shaking from the pain, throat and eyes burning because of the realization he was hurting the two people he loved most and who were always there for him.

Cas was rubbing his back, Sam was cupping his face, holding him up, then Cas was pulling his shoes, socks, jeans, and underwear off his feet, then Sam was helping him stand up straight, taking his shirts off, and Cas was wiping his face with a cool, damp washcloth as both Cas and Sam led him to the bed, lowering him down as they climbed on too. Cas spread out on his back, arms open and welcoming as Dean dropped down on his right side, using his arm and upper chest as a pillow, tossing his right leg over Cas' as Sam settled down behind him and stroked his back with gentle touches, placing a few soft kisses on his back while Cas stroked Dean's face with the fingers of his left hand.

"I'm sorry," Dean said.

"You're forgiven," one of them said. He didn't even know who it was, didn't care, because they both meant it, and he was crying again, closing his eyes as they just continued stroking him, loving him, and that was all Dean needed.