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With Understanding

Chapter Text

Wyoming is chilly this time of year.

The cave where Dean Winchester left his victims is even more so. Castiel, even after a year of being in Virginia with the BAU, has never gotten used to the cold. In the local police station it's warmer, and Castiel is able to sit back and relax, staring at the photos Cheyenne's forensics took.

There's nothing much left behind except bones with bite marks, left in sloppy piles. Like almost everything about Dean Winchester, it doesn't make much sense. Frankly, the only reason they even found this particular little hideout is because of the nearby fire he'd set. Almost like he'd intended to destroy evidence, except he didn't burn the bodies, instead a random area. None of it matches the psychology of his past crimes, either in signature of sadism. Plus the local medical examiner said some of the bones were thirty years old, which suggests Dean may have picked up where John Winchester left off.


Because then why was he going around pretending to be FBI, asking about the missing persons cases? Before the actual FBI got involved?

"Definitely one of our weirder cases," SSA Hotchner says, walking into the room. His boss is a good man, and a great boss – he'd taken Castiel under his wing with all the extensive experience and knowledge he had, and Castiel will never forget that. "The MO is all over the place."

Castiel nods in agreement. "Ten years he's been on our radar, and he has yet to repeat a crime."

"No Sam Winchester, this time," Hotchner says. "Though as often as one of them has been declared dead, I don't think that's indicative of anything." He pauses. "Aren't you supposed to be asleep? I thought I ordered you to keep to sixteen hour shifts. Most likely he's not even in the state."

Castiel shrugs uncomfortably. "I just have this feeling he's still here. Watching us. I can't explain it."

Hotchner eyes him. "Gut instinct?"

Castiel has never gone with his gut. He's too in his head for that. A lot of friends had told him that. "Yes. As bizarre as I know it sounds."

"It would be uncharacteristic. He's never stayed behind to taunt law enforcement before. Shown absolutely no interest in having our attention or keeping track of his case." Hotchner mulls it over. "Follow it up."

Castiel follows it up for the rest of the week, but Dean Winchester never shows.


Castiel drops his keys in that ridiculous little wicker basket that his brother Balthazar insisted on buying him upon concluding that there wasn't a single personal touch in Castiel's apartment. ("But the books!" Castiel had insisted. "Doesn't count," Balthazar said.) He does his usual cursory check on all the rooms before taking off his gun and badge, then goes for a bottle of water in the fridge. There's leftover takeout in there, too, which is tonight's probable dinner. He picks up a random box and sniffs. Ah, broccoli and beef. Sounds good.

He swings shut the refrigerator door, then something makes him freeze. Listening.

An arm reaches from behind him and snakes around his neck while a foot kicks the back of his knee, forcing him to collapse. Training and experience kick in and he twists, seeing a flash of a needle. The man behind him is strong and just as trained, because he doesn't let go, maneuvering to get Castiel back into a choke-hold. He drops the needle to get a better hold on Castiel, and Castiel distantly sees it shatter on the floor.

Castiel steps to his left and continues twisting his torso, trying to put his right leg behind his attacker's to kick him off balance. But instead his attacker starts pulling him back, forcing all of Castiel's weight onto his neck. He knows what he's doing, and dark spots are starting to color Castiel's vision. Castiel shoves backwards, trying to reach a wall so he can get leverage back and hears something crash to the ground, but his attacker still doesn't let up. Getting desperate, he goes for his attacker's eyes, but his attacker just shifts his head out of range.

That's when he passes out.

Castiel wakes up in a car trunk. It's pitch black and the car isn't moving, but he can tell what it is by the shape of the space he inhabits. He's cuffed behind his back, and his ankles are tied together and a heavy gag sits in his mouth. He listens for a couple of minutes, then starts trying to get his hands in front of him before realizing that his hands have been tied to his feet. Well, fuck.

The car shakes and a car door slams shut. Footsteps get closer. Castiel closes his eyes and goes still, not reacting when cool air hits him.

"Don't bother," a strangely familiar voice says. "I know you're awake."

Castiel opens his eyes.

Dean Winchester stares back at him. He smiles gently at Castiel and then shows him a needle. "Only a sedative, I swear. It'll make this easier."

Castiel does his best to glare a threat.

"You've lost ten pounds in the last six months," Winchester says randomly. "So I won't give you the full dose."

Castiel rolls his eyes, but doesn't bother to pointlessly struggle when Winchester places the needle at his arm, injecting into muscle. Within about thirty seconds, Winchester giving him a concerned look the whole time, he loses consciousness. Twice more he rises from that darkness, to find Winchester staring down at him. Sometimes he thinks he hears Winchester apologize, before the next prick of pain.

The third time he wakes up on a soft bed. He's lying on what feels like a very fluffy blanket, his hands and feet unbound. That impression lasts until he moves, when he feels something very heavy on his ankle. The world swims for a second when he opens his eyes, but he finds himself staring at a concrete ceiling. Looking around gives him concrete, windowless walls and an open doorway, beyond which there's a similar hallway. It looks halfway industrial, halfway like a fallout shelter. Another doorway leads to a bathroom that looks like it came from the fifties.

And there on his ankle is a manacle, padded to be comfortable on the inside. A heavy chain is attached to it, disappearing off the bed.

Castiel slowly sits up, Dean Winchester nowhere in sight.

The room is empty besides the bed, so he follows the chain to a bolt in the floor, which it's locked to. It looks embedded in the concrete, so there's no way he's going to break out of this by sheer strength. The lock looks weird, and Castiel can't tell by looking at it how it functions, so he probably can't pick it. Great.

The chain itself is about twenty feet long. It will easily let him into the bathroom, and perhaps a few feet into the hallway.

The room blurs when Castiel stands up, the chain making a loud clanging noise when the slack falls to the floor. His legs are shaky and cramping, his stomach is groaning, and his throat is a dry wasteland. He stumbles over to the hall door, feeling absurdly weak. His body is refusing to obey his commands properly, almost like that time he got shot back when he was a police detective and spent a week in the hospital, except there's not a mark on him. How long was he in that car trunk?

The hallway is empty save for more doors, all shut. It's long, though, and curves around out of sight. There's no way this is a house.

Swallowing dryly, he looks back at the bed and sees a water bottle lying in the blankets. It might be drugged, but hey, been there and done that plus being chained to the floor. A little pit of hysteria rises in his chest and is killed in his head; he will remain calm and use his mind. He sits, massaging his calves with one hand while he drinks with the other.

"I can help with that."

Castiel chokes on his water.

Winchester is standing at the doorway, wearing a pair of sweatpants and a very worn black t-shirt. He's barefoot. Castiel didn't even hear him coming. "The muscle cramping? I could massage it, I mean you probably wouldn’t let me get close enough …" he trails off, looking uncomfortable and somewhat embarrassed. "Uh, how about some ibuprofen? Black tea? Sam always swore by its anti-flammory-something properties."

Sam swore, past tense. Winchester looks hopeful, staring at him while waiting for an answer. Castiel needs to be careful here. "Ibuprofen and tea would be good, thank you."

Winchester immediately smiles, like the sun coming out. "I'll be back."

Castiel goes through a short series of stretches before Winchester comes back, but he keeps a careful eye on the door.

Winchester approaches the door slowly ten minutes later. He has a pill bottle in one hand and the tea in the other. Rather than enter, he places the two items on the floor just inside the room, within easy reach of Castiel but still far enough away that Castiel would have had a hard time rushing him. "Here you go." Then he retreats to the hallway, out of Castiel's reach.

Eyeing him silently for almost a full minute, Castiel then grabs the pill bottle first and looks for the description of the pill before opening it up and taking a few out. They match. He takes the tea, which is still pretty hot, and swallows several down with a sip of it. He looks up at Winchester and waits, but Winchester seems fairly content to just stand there and look at him.

Castiel clears his throat, back up a bit. The rest of tea is a fairly effective weapon if his question doesn't go over well. "So, why am I here?"

Winchester takes a deep breath. "I'm your soulmate."

Castiel should be saying something reassuring, something to convince the psychopath in front of him that he can be molded and should be kept alive. He is a trained FBI agent that has been in the BAU for nearly a year. He knows what to do when kidnapped. Instead, "What the fuck is wrong with you?" comes out.

"Probably a lot," Winchester admits.

Castiel tries to backtrack, for survival's sake. "I mean – why? Why me?"

Winchester grimaces a bit. "Look, I'm sure you're being nice and calm about this because you think I'm going to torture and kill you, but that isn't what this is about. I swear. I won't hurt you."

"I've seen your file, Dean."

Nodding wryly, Winchester says, "Yeah. I know. I saw you in Wyoming. That, um. Kind of triggered this."

Clenching the tea mug, Castiel asks, "What do you mean?" He needs to follow Winchester down this rabbit hole, figure out a weakness, figure out a way to get Dean to a mental place to let Castiel go. Build a relationship.

"Almost two years ago now, my brother was dying. So I asked Anna – well – well what she is isn't important, but I asked her if I'd be with Sam, in heaven, you know? And she said yes, that we were soulmates, but that I had two soulmates, just like Sam. A platonic and a romantic one." Dean picks at thread from his sweatpants. "I asked her for my soulmate's name, and she gave me yours. Castiel Novak."

Castiel stares at Dean. "But we had never met. Right?" He doesn't recall ever meeting Dean, not even a chance meeting, and Castiel's memory is not as good as Reid's but it's still very good.

"Right," Dean says, nodding. "And usually they do, I mean cupids, they do that kind of thing. But you're a man, so it wasn't, uh, ideal. For the cupids' purpose. Breeding wise." Dean shuts his eyes. "Forget I said that last part."

Dean Winchester, dangerous serial killer, believes in cupids. "Okay. Okay." And he can't get much farther.

"So then I asked some other questions," Dean rallies, "and apparently if soulmates don't meet in this life they don't always share an afterlife. But sometimes they do. So, you and I could have ended up in the same heaven anyway. Possibly. And when Sam … when Sam passed, I couldn't do much of anything. But then I got to thinking that you and I might be spending eternity together or not – and I couldn't let that go. I know how I feel about Sam, about my brother, and to feel that for someone else?" Dean stops.

"You wanted that chance," Castiel says slowly.

"Yeah. And then I saw you in Wyoming. I mean obviously I looked you up way before that, before you were even with the BAU, but when I saw you – I can't explain it." Dean meets Castiel's gaze, eyes absurdly green. "But I knew you. I had to know you."

So Dean thinks he loves him, that he will feel something deeply for Castiel. He may already do so, in some twisted, possessive sense of the word, given how stalkers usually operate. It's in Castiel's best interests to go along with it for as long as possible and not aggravate any mental illness Dean may have. The BAU had a hard time nailing that down when Dean and Sam Winchester's crimes were so varied, psychologically speaking, so Castiel is mostly operating in the blind. However, he was likely had an abusive childhood, given what Castiel knows of John Winchester's extracurricular activities when Dean was a child, so Castiel will need to be very careful not to trigger that. And he will need to play up any feelings of love or affection Dean has, while not popping Dean's delusions about monsters. (Castiel has seen the Baltimore tape.)

But Dean also has the self-awareness to know Castiel's immediate assumption, and assure him otherwise. This will be a tight-rope, to not be obvious about gaining Dean's trust.

Castiel licks his lips and notes how Dean's eyes follow the motion. "And the chain?" he asks, lifting his right leg.

"Sorry," Dean says. "But you are an FBI agent. It stays."

"Can I ask a question, then?"

"You can always ask questions," Dean says immediately. "I know this is pretty fucked up, okay? But my entire life is fucked up, so. Ask."

"We've met. Correct? Isn't that sufficient?"

"But you don't –" Dean stops himself.

Love you, Castiel thinks, feeling a chill. How far will Dean take this? To rape? Dean sounds like an intimacy stalker, while still retaining the knowledge that Castiel doesn't want or return the desire, like the incompetent subtype of stalker. "Thank you for the tea."

Dean smiles. It's a nice smile, and Castiel really understands how so many witnesses and side characters in Dean's crimes were so taken and charmed by him. When he lights up, so does the room. He's very charismatic. "Be honest, okay? About anything, about everything."

Castiel nods, after a second. "All right. There's no consequences for something I say?"

"No, no no. Absolutely not. I didn't bring you here to hurt you, I swear. I want to know you, and this is the only way that was ever going to happen. What with the whole wanted-by-the-FBI thing." Dean looks down. "Like I said, you're my soulmate."

Castiel watches as Dean seems to go through some kind of internal struggle. When Dean seems to have regained control, he asks, "May I have some dinner, then? Or breakfast? What time is it?"

"Dinner," Dean says, sounding grateful. "I'll get you a clock. Do you need anything else?"

Castiel pauses. "Something to read?"

"Oh man, wait til you see the library!" Dean says. "Sam just about had an orgasm. A nerd orgasm."

Castiel blinks, and then Dean is gone. Castiel finds himself staring down at his slowly cooling black tea. He has been kidnapped by Dean Winchester, the serial killer who he was tracking five weeks ago. And apparently Dean has been aware of him for some time – two years? Castiel was in a field office in Texas back then, living near his brother. That means Dean likely knows where Balthazar lives. You've lost ten pounds in the last six months. Castiel had his last physical checkup six months ago. Could Dean have gotten Castiel's records somehow?

Confusion, anger and a fair amount of fear stew together in Castiel's gut, making a powerful pot of panic. Castiel puts the mug on the ground – Dean probably doesn't have a table in here for fear of Castiel throwing at him or making a weapon of it – and sits on the floor, crossed-legged, so he can meditate. His colleagues at work had sometimes teased him about his determined calm, about how it overflowed into his personal life and made him incapable of having fun, of relaxing. But here, it will save his life. Because there is no personal life anymore.

Not as long as Dean has him.

The metal on his ankle is cold, even with the padding.


Dean returns an hour later with dinner. It's burgers, so no utensils, just a paper plate. He also brings another water bottle, sealed, and sets that in the doorway, too. He smiles faintly at Castiel. "I'll be right back."

Castiel uses the time to grab the burger and bring it back to the bed. It's actually a double cheeseburger, with very fresh lettuce and tomato, even a few strips of bacon rolled around the beef. It looks homemade, so Dean went to some trouble to make it. That suggests that Dean is worried about Castiel's opinion of him, which is good. Certainly better than the opposite.

The first bite is like heaven. The cheese, melted just so, and the beef is fresh and spiced well, and BBQ sauce drips down Castiel's fingers. It feels like he hasn't eaten anything in weeks. He can't help a small moan.

"Erm," Dean says.

Castiel does not choke, this time. Instead he nods at Dean and takes a gulp of water.

Dean places a few books in the doorway. "Reading material. I don't exactly know your tastes, so I just picked a few things at random." He shifts on his feet. "You mind if I join you for dinner? I'll stay out here."

Hesitating, Castiel finally replies, "All right."

Quick flash of a smile, and Dean is gone. He tries to count the footsteps he can hear, wondering how far the kitchen is. How big this place is. Dean is nearly gone five minutes, then he returns with his own loaded paper plate. He settles on the floor in the hallway, leaning up against the far wall, and without any commentary begins to eat.

It's almost companionable. Almost.

When Castiel is licking his fingers, Dean begins, "So, there's probably a few things I should get straight."

Castiel nods cautiously.

"One, if you do manage to get close enough to attack or kill me, that's not in your best interest. We're in the middle of nowhere in a building that doesn’t exist on any county or state records. No one visits. I don't keep the key anywhere on me or in your reach, so you can't knock me out and go for a run. I'd really like not to have to worry about that, and give you whatever you want or need without fear of being attacked."

Mouth dry, Castiel asks, "And two?"

"As long as you bear in mind my first point, I'll make the chain longer and give you more free run. Three, I'm not going to rape you. Or torture you. Or kill you. I'm not a murderer. I've killed, I won't deny that, but I never killed anyone who didn't have it coming. Most of the murders pinned on me were committed by other people." Dean grimaces. "Or not-people. I'm sure you think I'm crazy for believing in monsters, but that’s what I hunt. Not innocent people."

"Am I guilty?" Castiel snaps without thinking about it.

Dean flinches. "No. You're not." He pauses, and Castiel breathes a little easier. "There are – there are crimes I have committed, that were wrong. This is one. I know it is. I kidnapped you. But Sam made me promise …"

"Promise what?" Castiel prompts.

Dean shakes his head. "So, we clear on those points?"

"Can you prove the third?" Castiel asks.

"I can," Dean says. "Sorta. I can provide proof I'm not crazy, if that'll help."

That should be interesting. "I would like to see that."

Dean grins, a bit of sadness in his eyes. "I'll see if I can arrange it, then." He gets up and gathers his paper plate and napkin. "It's after ten. You still hungry?"

"Can I have something for later?" Castiel asks.

"Sure," Dean agrees. "Powerbars, something like that?"


Dean goes to get it. Castiel tests the length of the chain, and finds he can get about three feet into the hallway. He could reach the far wall if he lay down on his stomach or knelt. So Dean was theoretically in reach this whole time. Castiel knows, of course, that if he actually tried approaching Dean could have backed up a few feet ridiculously easily. But it suggests that Dean does want to get close, his protestations of innocence aside.

Castiel is still wearing the slacks and undershirt he was wearing in his apartment, though. Dean doesn't just want him – he wants Castiel to return that desire.

How far will Castiel let him go? How far will Castiel himself go?

Day one.