"Cas, make yourself useful, get over here and tie me up."
Because Cas is awesome he doesn't immediately ask why when Dean tosses him the rope - though he looks as if he's thinking about it. In the end he seems to decide Dean knows what he's doing, because he's willing to let Dean run with things that might look a little stupid to start with, unlike some people. Castiel just waits for him to sit down on the chair he's pulled out of the kitchenette, and fold his arms behind his back. Dean can feel him threading the rope through the back of the chair, over his arms, round the metal struts, then passing his wrists back through the loops. He sits there and lets Cas do it, and it's easier than he'd thought it would be. He'd thought his body would rebel against it somehow. But aside from the restless shift of his good knee, he's ok with it.
"I've been tied up too many freakin' times lately. It's getting ridiculous, and I need to do something about it. You know I'm damn lucky no one's decided to just slit my throat the minute they have me. Because, honestly, I'd slit my throat, just on principle. Sooner or later someone's going to stop being stupid, you know that, right?"
Dean takes Castiel's brief stillness for agreement.
Sam bitching about it, and having to come and rescue him for the second damn time, that was the last straw as far as Dean was concerned. No more getting caught with his pants down - no more getting caught with anyone's pants down. Everyone's keeping their damn pants on.
Dean twists his head over his shoulder, but he can't see much except for the curve of Castiel's shoulder, and the top of his head.
"And do it properly, don't wimp out on me. There's no point me testing this if you're going to go all lazy fingers on the knot work. I'm sick and tired of people getting the drop on me and ending up hog-tied to the nearest chair, or thrown in the filthy corner of some room somewhere. Because it's a bitch trying to twist out of rope when someone knows how to tie you up properly. Especially when someone's waving a knife in your face, usually before you're even properly freakin' conscious. I figured I could tape a spare blade under my watch - nothing on my wrist that could end messy, but something small and curved under the face, that's not going to get spotted easy -"
He stops talking when Cas pulls the rope tight, tight enough that he can feel his own pulse, and he realises there are actually two pieces of rope he has to get through before he has his hands free. But, yeah, that's kind of his own fault for demanding Castiel do it right, and Dean's never believed in anything that wasn't hard work, so why start now.
Dean manages to ease the small blade out without slicing any of his fingertips off, because that's a bad start to anyone's morning. The ropes are tight enough that it's not easy to twist his wrist around, or get the cutting edge against the rope, and easing it back and forth in little twitches is going to leave several layers of skin behind. But he's already tied up now, and he's not going to bitch about Cas doing a good job when that's the whole point of this. You don't get to whine about starting over because you weren't ready in the real world.
Only Cas is still just standing there, staring at him while he does his thing, and it's kind of distracting.
"Cas - hey, Cas. I'm pretty sure the bad guys aren't just going to be standing there staring at me while I do this." He probably would have remembered that. He would definitely have remembered if the douchebag of the week had just stood in a corner eyeballing him while he tried to escape, at least not without doing something about it.
"What do you suggest?"
"I don't know," Dean shifts his feet apart and rocks forward slightly, to see if there's any extra give in the ropes he can use - there isn't. "You want to maybe pretend you at least intend to rough me up a little. I'm usually doing this under pressure after all. I'm usually doing most things under pressure." Or bleeding, or half-concussed. There isn't a lot of sitting around quietly when you get knocked out and hauled off.
Cas takes two steps forward, considers Dean with a slight crease between his eyes, as if he's debating the best way to appear threatening. Or the best way to actually be threatening, without throwing a few punches. Because Dean knows from experience that an angel's usual stab at threatening is to just stand there looking remote, and occasionally threaten people with a smiting. Which totally isn't going to work on Dean. But Cas clearly intends to do something, so instead Dean gets cold fingers grasping his barely long enough hair, then tightening hard enough to force his head back, and there's no way in hell he's pulling out of that grip. Cas has Dean's neck stretched out and vulnerable for as long as he damn well wants.
Which is kind of surprising and proactive of him.
"Is this better?" There's that polite sort of curiosity to Cas's voice, that says he really wants to know.
"Yeah, that's good -" Dean's voice comes out cracked, unsteady in a way he's not exactly proud of. He clears his throat to try and make it work. "That's really good, feels pretty authentic." He'd forgotten how strong angels were when they weren't even trying. Usually he can at least try and twist out of it when someone grabs hold of him. The fact that Cas would probably let go if he tried doesn't change the fact that he's effectively in a grip he wouldn't get out of. No matter how hard he tried.
"The suggestion of further violence does seem to be a prerequisite for your near-death escapes," Cas explains with a frown, as if it's a problem he's been working on. "Many of which I still have no explanation for."
"It's a gift," Dean admits, which is true, they do seem to manage some pretty insane near-death escapes, from shit he's still pretty sure should have been inescapable. He's the Houdini of the hunting community. Only not dead - not recently dead anyway.
The blade's separating the fibers, but not as quickly as he'd hoped. Cas has tied him up a little tighter than he'd been expecting, and he doesn't have the maneuverability. Dean hadn't wanted to go for a sharper blade or the damn thing would be too dangerous shoved under the metal of his watch. But he decides that Castiel's more efficient than your average monster douchebag, and gives himself an extra minute on top of his own personal best guess escape time. Which he can't helping thinking is still more than long enough for someone to put him down for good.
"Would you like me to make derogatory comments?" Castiel says.
Dean can't help remembering that Cas isn't actually very good at winging it where the inventive insults are concerned - which, yes, ironic considering - and Dean's pretty sure that laughing is going to screw with his ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Also, he can't help the suspicion that Cas is trying to be encouraging in his own special way, which suggests this is taking longer than it should. God, he really is getting rusty.
"You remember how insults aren't really your thing, right?" They probably all remember how insults aren't really Cas's thing. He'll give him points for trying but that's about it.
"They seem to utilize them more often than not, when they capture you."
That's something of an understatement. Dean's had descriptive and imaginative insults thrown at him in several languages. People just don't appreciate his sense of humor, or his ability to kill things.
"Only until they get to know me, that's when they get really mad. But, seriously, it doesn't work if I don't think you mean it."
There's a quick flash of genuine annoyance, where Castiel's face is looming over him. Dean's a little surprised to see it.
"I'm capable of doing injury to you."
"Sure, you're capable, but I don't think you actually will." Dean regrets that a second later, when Castiel loops his other hand round the trailing edge of rope and very slowly pulls it tight, leaving his hands jerked apart and completely stuck. He can't even twist his wrists any more. Once Cas decides he's worked that out he leans forward slowly, putting pressure on Dean's shoulders until they warn him that there's the possibility of pain in his future.
"Don't mistake my restraint for inability, nor my affection for you for weakness. I am more than capable of fulfilling a role given to me."
Dean can't resist the smirk that pulls out of him.
"Affection? Dude, you really know how to not sell this, don't you?"
Castiel ignores him, and Dean hates that somehow he's learned how to be stubborn and unpredictable like a real damn person, while still being a complete angel about everything. He releases the rope though, and Dean goes back to slicing, slightly less carefully than before. He's not expecting a hand to fist in his shirt and haul him up as far as the chair allows, rope snapping tight wherever it's coiled. He slices a finger open on the blade and almost drops it. His shirt gets caught on his shoulders when it's jerked open, material catching on the curves, stitches snapping when angel fingers tighten further.
He's ignored again, and suddenly there's an angel holding him against the back of the chair with one hand, while the other digs into his pockets, fingers cold through the back of them, stripping out his wallet and keys. He holds up the keys for a second, so Dean can see them, before tossing them on the table.
"Cas -" Dean's not really sure what he's even going to say there, before he's dumped back in the chair.
"You often have something those who restrain you want. The act of taking it from you can be...motivating."
Dean gets the feeling Castiel took the accusation that he sucked at this as a suggestion to do better.
"Watch me get tied up often have you?" he asks, half curious and half annoyed. Because that's basically a long history of his most painful, frustrating and fucked up moments, with the occasional flash of smugness or triumph.
"Yes," Castiel says flatly. Which brings up a few questions that Dean's going to feel compelled to ask him later. "Now I suggest you return to your attempt to saw through the rope, before your captors have no further use for you."
Dean can't help raising his eyebrows at that.
"You gonna find a use for me, Cas?" He usually ends up hurting for his smart mouth right about now, but this time all he gets are fingers either side of his jaw, tipping his head until it hits the chair back. Still not hard enough to hurt though. Cas is still being careful, he knows exactly how far to push before someone bruises. It's weird, because Dean is so used to skating over that line without a second thought, to breathing through it, getting past it, rolling with it. "This is usually the part where they hit me, you know that, right?"
Castiel looks conflicted again, all tones of tightness to his face. He looks like he's genuinely thinking about it, considering it, and Dean can't help but wonder what would happen if he did. What would happen if Cas just rolled with it, and gave Dean exactly what he was asking for. To bring that bright lash of surprised pain to the proceedings, make it hurt while they play this out, make it feel real. For a second Dean wants him to, wants to see Cas drop that careful restraint and just do it. Dean wants to feel it. Which surprises the crap out of him.
Instead he gets the bite of fingers, and that cold, flat expression.
"You would expect me to now, wouldn't you?"
Dean jerks his head out of Castiel's fingers, on reflex this time rather than intent - and there's not a second's pause before Cas snatches it back again, fingers tight, tight enough to ache.
That pain feels real, feels like where they were going all along.
Dean can't for the life of him remember exactly how they got here. But he's pretty sure they went wrong a while back, and that he missed the opportunity to course correct. He doesn't know what the hell they're doing now. But it seems to involve his body getting confused about what exactly the ultimate goal of this entire exercise is. His wrists are smarting, and he can feel the rasp of rope through the thin material of his shirt. Cas is clearly going for threatening, but Dean doesn't feel threatened, even though he's suddenly full of tension, breathing a touch harder than before. Also, he's dropped the blade and he's definitely bleeding from numb fingertips, and he hasn't seen fit to mention that yet. It feels like he's waiting for something to happen. Something that might end up worse than being knocked out, tied up and smacked around. Or, y'know, exactly the fucking opposite of that.
Because feeling helpless is not normally Dean's thing, at all. He thinks maybe it's the situation, or the frustration, or the type of rope - or, ok, God damn it, fine, the company.
"Cas, I dropped the - I dropped the thing."
"Yes," Castiel agrees. "A possibility I suggest you should plan for as well."
He doesn't think Cas wants to let him go.
"You're enjoying this," Dean accuses, and that's mostly blurted out to get some sort of reaction. But Castiel goes very still - guilty kind of still - though his face is trying its best to be that familiar sort of flat. Then his fingers relax on Dean's jaw, grip no longer tight, letting his head tip forward again, before Castiel's hands are gone completely, back against his sides with a rustle of fabric.
Dean's pretty sure he's about to apologize for having a moment there, for doing exactly what Dean told him to. What Dean wanted from him - maybe even before he knew he wanted it. He's still not entirely sure he does. He thinks that maybe they're too used to the position Dean's put them in here, that they know how to play it too well. That it's easier like this somehow.
They're just staring at each other, and Dean isn't trying to get free any more, and Cas has stopped pretending to be confused about anything. Which is pretty damn revealing...and messy.
But that's when the door to their room clicks open and swings inward, and Dean had completely forgotten that Sam had a key too.
Dean has a second to register Sam looking his own special variety of surprised and traumatized in the doorway, before he opens his mouth.
"This is not what it looks like," Dean protests, at exactly the same moment his brain starts screaming at him, 'holy shit, this may actually be exactly what it looks like.'
"I'm just -" Sam jerks his thumb vaguely in the direction of everything behind him, everywhere that isn't currently their motel room. "You know what I'm just going to go, and, er, pretend I never saw this, and because I didn't see it, we will never talk about it, ever."