"Alistair made us," Detective Castiel Novak says quietly into his phone. He's furious with himself, and with Naomi for refusing to give them the resources they needed. It never should have happened. They'd been so close and then that had been exactly the problem.
"Oh, getting so close, Detective. But still too far, I'm afraid."
The man smiles to himself as he puts his just-doffed coat back on. "It seems I will have to change my evening plans after all. Disappointing, I assure you."
"And we're about to bust another one of his locations. You need to get that warrant now."
"Castiel, there's no way. We just don't have enough on him. Can't you hold off on the bust?" Sam says, sounding tired. And well he should be, it's well past duty hours for all of them - the middle of the damned night. But that dedication is part of what makes Sam Winchester the best ADA the city has. It's also why they are good friends.
His eyes are soulless when they return from the significant look sent up to the building on ahead. They promise a dark wrath that will be meted out in some unthinkable manner in the future for this disruption. It's terrifying, but it still makes Castiel glad because it means there's something in that building they're going to tear down, to ruin for Alistair. But the man hardly bats an eye as he obviously avoids the building and returns to his towncar, completely lacking culpability for whatever it is they're going to find.
Castiel sighs. "I know. But Sam, there's no time. He's not going to stay put. If we do not move now then it may as well be never, at least not until we find wherever he has set up his operation next."
"Damn. Damn. Okay, fine. Do what you have to do. I'll… whatever. I'll make it work."
"You do keep things interesting, Detective. I'll have to give you that. Well. I'd best be on my way again."
Castiel thanks him and ends the call, moving quickly back up to Balthazar's position.
Castiel takes a steadying breath, dropping all thoughts of the big fish crime boss in favor of the present. He keeps his eyes on the move, scanning their surroundings as they slowly move around the building's perimeter, gathering what sparse information they can on a too-brief reconnaissance. It's still too late to do anything that will actually take Alistair down. But it's not always about the big picture. Sometimes it's about a few lives that might be made better. There's still a chance for recovering at least some part of tonight for the good guys.
"I don't think this is a drug location," Balthazar says quietly to Castiel, turning from his surveillance of the location.
Castiel pops forward for a quick scan, sees what Balthazar means. And then he swears. "Then that means…"
Balthazar's eyes are sharp with bitterness as he toggles his phone to call dispatch and relay the address. Castiel unbuttons his trench-coat so he can check his spare clips in anticipation of coming violence. Balthazar loosens his tie and does the same.
"Dispatch, time to upgrade to a 10-31, and, shit, send anyone available now. There's gotta be a dozen vehicles here at least, a dozen hopped-up Alphas. I'll bet my pants we're going to need a 10-52-Omega too."
"Copy," Dispatch replies, tinny through Balthazar's cellphone as she repeats the codes and gives him a rundown on available units as they respond. Castiel doesn't even have to look back to nod his acknowledgement, or to know that Balthazar is still at his back as they slip inside the mostly-abandoned building. Windows and doors hang broken and open, scents and sounds slipping through the cracks unhindered and unheeded.
It's not long before they can hear the sounds they're grimly expecting, the unmistakable sounds of a horrific act. The years of experience they share leave them both with cool heads despite the heart-wrenching sound. Castiel's heart is pounding, but it's nothing he hasn't felt before. Still, it's worse tonight than it is most nights on the job. Though being a police officer certainly has its moments, this time he's reminded much more strongly of his days as a soldier, missions of grim purpose and great import.
And bad odds.
The stairs aren't silent, but they're quiet enough not to break through the raucous crowd inside the only apparently-occupied apartment on the third floor. They slide along the wall in silent accord, oil slick, smooth and inexorable. They stack at the door, listening.
Balthazar taps his shoulder, a signal for him to move forward and through the door, stun-pistol at the ready.
He shakes his head, keeping Balthazar at a halt. How long till back-up? Castiel demands with a curt hand-signal.
A sharp, piercing wail cuts through the air to the accompaniment of raucous jeers.
"Too long," Balthazar spits at a whisper.
Castiel winces as the wail cuts short, then turns to softer whimpers as the jeers continue.
Balthazar just gives him another look, and he nods. They can't stand by and let this continue, even if it means one or both of them goes down trying.
This time Castiel accepts his partner's ready signal. When they push open the front door the sentry gets a stunner to the throat, courtesy of Castiel's marksmanship. He goes down with a thump that gets drowned out by the noise the alphas are making in the next room with their victim. The dirty living-room is empty of any other Alphas.
In one corner there's a thin redheaded girl, probably no more than seventeen, folded into a cage, naked, reeking of fear. She stares at them with wide eyes as tears spill over her cheeks she clamps her hands over her mouth and nods wildly at their bid for silence. For a moment Castiel is reminded vividly of Anna.
She's an Omega, close to heat but not there yet. Castiel covers the doors while Balthazar picks the lock on her cage with steady hands that speak to his lifetime of practice with breaking and entering. He helps her down, whispering about police arriving soon and for her to get out of the apartment, to get somewhere safe and not too far. She nods over and over, still quiet, a fierce light in her eyes despite the tears. Then she snags a blanket from the lumpy couch and stumbles quickly towards the door out.
Balthazar slips up to his side, a question on his face as to Castiel's strategic assessment. It's clear which room the assault is taking place in, but the other door is still cracked and there are definitely others inside. Taking on two rooms was going to be tricky with just the two of them. Anything short of a two-pronged full frontal assault would either end up with them getting flanked or getting into a hostage situation that wouldn't end well for the Omega being raped in the next room.
Castiel gestures as much, but before they can do anything beyond exchange a glance, the door to the next room pops open, two raged-out Alphas shoving and shouting at each other, picking up steam for a full-fledged fight as they hit the stained living-room carpet in a heap, others spilling out in their wake. The other door opens further, revealing a quickly-dissolving poker game and someone shouting "Fight, fight-"
Until everything jerks to a halt when Castiel and Balthazar get noticed and then simultaneously announce themselves as police officers. They start firing as hands reach for weapons.
The next few minutes are a familiar blur of shouting and gunfire and smells of violence and sex. With anyone else at his side, Castiel would not have felt any hope for their chances to take on overwhelming odds, but he and Balthazar have been partners for years. They don't need to speak, to look at each other even, to make it through a situation like this. They've survived worse together. Castiel empties his stunner pistol into every alpha in sight within seconds of them bursting through the door, hurrying over bodies to get to the room before it can get any worse.
He slams home another clip as he clears the doorway, fires again into the remaining Alphas in the room, ones who are still actively inside the sobbing Omega, too lost in raging instincts to even notice they were being disturbed till it's too late.
"Cas!" Balthazar bellows, "Double-taps!"
It doesn't make sense, until suddenly it does, the Alphas drooping over the Omega aren't unconscious, not fully. These police-grade stunner darts are made to more than handle a raging Alpha, even one in the middle of mounting an Omega, at their peak. Yet they're still struggling upright. He hits them again, fast, even as he's swinging back to cover the downed Alphas to his back.
But it's too late. One of them is hitting him at the knees, tackling him to the ground, her eyes nothing but red with pinprick black dots as she overpowers him with a wild sound of rage. His trench-coat tangles his legs as he kicks at her, feeling a sharp pain in his thigh even as another crawling Alpha grabs for his now-proximate arm. But he gets a dart to the hand for his trouble and Castiel swings his aim back to the woman with a powerful hand around his thigh. As he fires she slams her other fist down on his thigh, jabbing him again with the pen, puncturing into the muscle painfully.
They're surprisingly dangerous objects when used with vicious intent.
He's nauseated from the adrenaline as he finishes emptying his clip into any Alphas he sees stirring, pushing away. Or perhaps it's more than that. The room is almost toxic with the levels of pheromones in the air, but Castiel is not about to let his baser instincts prevent him from helping someone in need.
"Clear!" he shouts, pushing to his feet, stumbling when he tries to put weight on his right leg. But he hobbles back to the door anyway, rushing to back up his partner.
Balthazar's call of "Clear," stops him short, however, and he doesn't continue out of the room given the whimpers coming from behind him.
He stows his pistol and hurries back to the table the Omega's stretched out on, dizzy as the adrenaline shifts back out of high gear and another system starts pushing for control. As an Alpha Castiel prides himself on his calm and his control over his instincts. He's the only Alpha to work sex crimes in a decade. But this… this hits his instincts hard.
He hauls the toppled Alpha up off the battered young Omega, thankful that her knot has gone down enough for him to pull her erection out of the teenager with ease. The scent of the Omega's heat and slick is like a punch to the face and Castiel reels as he drops the unconscious woman to the ground like the sack of shit that she is. The male Alpha who had been abusing the boy's mouth has already fallen free of him though he's still half-pinning the sobbing boy down.
He has to get to him. He has to. The man gets halfway thrown against a wall on his way to the ground as Castiel growls in anger. And then Castiel realizes that it's the Alpha more than the police officer in him that's demanding he get his hands on the boy, and not in protection. Horrified nausea hits him at the thought.
"Bal!" Castiel hollers, head pounding with the overwhelming scent of Omega-in-heat. He stumbles back, shaking. His leg hurts where that hopped-up Alpha had nailed him and he can't seem to calm himself down enough that the scent of the Omega isn't the loudest sound in his mind.
As an Alpha, even normally this situation would be difficult, but things like the waves of pain and fear flooding the room would usually be enough to have him shoving his aggressive Alpha instincts aside in favor of his protective ones and his humanity. But here, tonight, something is awfully wrong.
Balthazar pops through the doorway, gun in hand at Castiel's shout, but he flinches as he gets a whiff of the room. As a Beta he won't feel it like Castiel does, but he can smell something is wrong.
The Omega's heat has been pumped up to levels that make it seem like there must be half-a-dozen Omegas in heat in the room at once, and the Alphas are all giving off pheromones that almost scream rut. Every second he stands there the more he feels like he might vibrate apart.
He tries again to move towards the door but his feet barely make it an inch.
"Bal. I can't seem to-" he curls over, breathing through his mouth, trying not to scent the air further.
"It's okay, I'll get him. Let's get you out first," Balthazar says, ducking under his shoulder and curling an arm around his waist and dragging Castiel forcibly back out into the main room and then beyond to the empty hallway outside the apartment.
Once he's out the apartment door his feet seem to come back under his control and he takes himself back from his partner. "I'm alright," Castiel grunts and moves further away from the door towards a broken hallway window, giving himself a breath of fresher air while his partner disappears back into the apartment. He can hear the sirens in the distance, approaching rapidly so he's annoyed but accepting of the fact that he's not securing the scene better. Other officers, Betas will be there soon enough to do it in his stead.
Balthazar returns moments later carrying the whimpering bloody wreck of a boy out the door, still reeking of an absurd amount of pheromones. Castiel forces himself to turn and sprint up the nearby stairs to keep from pursuing the departing Omega the way his instincts rage at him to do.
When he pushes out onto the roof of the building it's a huge relief. After a few deep, calming breaths, the urge to vomit begins to fade, as do the most Alpha parts of him. He stares up at the sky, trying to find his equilibrium, to understand what the hell was happening to him.
The next thing he knows, he's jerking his gun into his hand automatically and whirling before he can even register what has him spooked.
"Whoa, hey! Hi! Mister cop man. Just me," the redheaded girl from earlier blurts, hands going up in the air. She's made a makeshift toga out of the blanket but she's still shaking, from the cold, from the adrenaline.
Castiel stows his weapon with an apology and she just bounces between her feet, brushing it off.
"No biggie. I mean. You didn't shoot me or anything so…" she shrugs. "Totally not the worst part of my night."
"Indeed." He lifts his eyebrows in agreement. "I'll do my best to make sure it will get nothing but better from here. I'm police detective Castiel Novak," he says, showing her his badge. "Are you alright?"
"Been worse," she chirps. "Except maybe for the whole going into heat thing. That part is kinda terrifying."
His gaze narrows as she shivers. "You are chilled. We should get you down to the station."
"The police station?" she squeaks. Her head wobbles back and forth rapidly. "No, no, no. I am not going to have my first heat in a heat tank. I've heard about the shit that can happen there."
He frowns, but he doesn't deny it. Though he know protocols have improved, his sister Anna's own experiences as an Omega have taught Castiel to never take the system's protection of Omegas as sufficient, even a system he is part of.
Her little chin goes up defiantly as she continues, thin arms clutched tightly around her middle. "Not if you ever expect me to testify. And I paid attention. I noticed stuff, okay? I'm useful and not even that high maintenance really, so I'm telling you, you do not want to piss me off."
Castiel tips his head and says gravely, "Of course not."
She eyes him suspiciously, then just as abruptly relaxes a little. She sniffs absently, testing his scent. "Okay. Um. So…"
He frowns. "If you're determined not to go to the station, then where may I take you? Do you have family?"
"I live at… well, lived at the YABO shelter, until they nabbed me. Actually, they've probably given away my bunk already."
"Even if they have not, they would never let you in again smelling like that," Castiel points out gently.
"Oh. Oh! Because. Shit, I forgot, I don't qualify for the Y part anymore. At least not after the next couple days. Shit, shit, shit!" she blurts, moving around in a frustrated circle, bouncing on the balls of her feet, body more than impatient to start running and never stop until an Alpha makes her. She's far too close to her heat for comfort, for either of them. "I can't go to the heat tank, I can't," she says, voice going high with panic.
"Calm down," Castiel orders, and the Omega responds to the Alpha immediately, stopping in her tracks and looking at him. Castiel-the-police-officer knows that taking an unmated unsheltered Omega to the tank is proper protocol, but Castiel-the-man almost never follows that particular protocol, much to Naomi's annoyance and grudging acceptance. It’s one of the only things he is adamant about. "I know of a place, where you'd be safe to have your heat in peace, if that's what you want."
"I sure as hell don't want a mate or baby at seventeen," she snaps back, though it's fear, not anger behind her sharp words.
"A friend of mine named Ellen Harvelle runs a place called The Roadhouse-"
"The slickery?" the girl squeaks, eyes wide. "Are you fucking kidding me? I'm not whoring-"
"It's not-," Castiel snaps before he purses his lips together and takes a steadying breath. "Regardless of what you may think of that particular form of sex work, The Roadhouse is also a safe haven for Omegas in heat. She'll give you a place to get through your heat in peace, nothing more, no strings of any kind. I give you my word on that."
She lifts an eyebrow at him. "You're for real, huh?"
"I am," he agrees firmly. "I've worked with her to help a number of vulnerable Omegas over the years."
Her face pinches in thought and she starts bouncing between her toes again but he gives her a moment to think it over when his phone vibrates on his belt. He checks the readout before answering immediately. "Bal?"
"Where are you at love?" The sound of ambulance sirens are loud in the background.
"The roof, catching a breather with…" he lifts an eyebrow at the girl.
"Charlie," she blurts.
"Charlie, the other Omega. We're both fine. I'm offering to take her to Ellen's."
Balthazar sighs. "Yes, that does seem like it would be for the best. The tossers at dispatch sent an Alpha driver for the ambulance."
"How the hell-"
Balthazar grunts bitterly as he interrupts with, "Damned if I know. Something about bolloxed up swapped shifts or something equally insipid. Point is I'm stuck on board with the vic getting us to the hospital. Can you manage on your own?"
"Of course," Castiel says sharply, irritated at his fitness being challenged. Balthazar just snorts. Like Castiel he's probably chalking it up to the leftover adrenaline. "We'll be fine, though it would be appreciated if you could run a little interference with Naomi. I'll let you know if anything comes up," he says more calmly.
"Can do, Cassy, I always was better with the evil stepmother anyway," Balthazar sings back, his usual cheerful self.
Castiel won't deny that. Lieutenant Naomi gets under his skin.
"Okay," Charlie blurts when he hangs up the phone. "I'll go to The Roadhouse."
He looks at her studiously brave countenance and nods. "Then we'd best get moving," he says, leading the way to the fire escape as he flips through his recent calls in search of another frequent contact. The metal steps down are in decent condition and will provide an easier escape than the interior of the building that's now swarming with an official presence.
"Forgive me for calling this late," Castiel says, forcing himself to be humble despite the wave of challenge that washes through him when Ellen answers with a gruff "What?"
"I'm on my way with an Omega about to hit her first heat. Her name is Charlie and she doesn't have anywhere else to go."
He switches to headset as he leads them down the metal stairs, treading quietly as he can. Charlie's bare feet behind him are silent, though he can feel her presence close behind him.
"Well, hell," Ellen mutters. "Ash is out of town. Jo's still in heat and I don't have…" She sighs and he hears the sound of covers being thrown back. "Well maybe I can call Dean," she murmurs. "Alright. I'll try him but in the meantime bring her here. Push comes to shove we'll lock her in alone. Not ideal but better than getting raped on the streets."
"I'm inclined to agree," Castiel murmurs dryly before signing off. The escape ladder is obnoxiously loud in the empty alley and he hurries down it, urging Charlie after him quickly. He slips along the alley wall to peer around the corner. Part of him is annoyed at all the sneaking, though he recognizes it for the irrational Alpha influence that it is. The coast is clear, so he gives Charlie a nod and leads her away down the street to where his car is parked.
Full of nervous energy she starts to skip along ahead of him and he grabs her shoulder, hard, giving her a firm shake of his head when she looks up at him in surprise. "Walk. Behind me."
His training means he should be at point regardless, but he's not sure what will happen right now if he sees her run. He's too on edge to trust himself.
He's not going to let this red-headed Omega down. No matter what. He owes Anna that much.