“And there he goes.”
Dean looked up as the gates to Roman’s drive rolled open, and his sleek black limo pulled out onto the street. It turned right on Oakville, and that, Dean figured, would be the last they saw of him until the wee hours.
“And here we go,” he said into the radio, and a moment later a side panel van pulled up where he stood. The door rolled back, and Dean got in next to Sam.
“You got the gate frequency?”
His brother nodded, and held out a small black box with a digital display on it. “Got to hand it to Roman; he’s pretty security conscious.”
He was, not that it’d help; they’d been doing this a long time and there weren’t many systems or set ups they couldn’t get past.
Plus, in their experience, only people with something worth protecting went to such measures, which meant his house was definitely worth having a try at.
They already had his alarm code, thanks to the reader Charlie had snuck in and planted two days before; like the gate frequency, it was changed daily, but as soon as Roman had reset it that morning the new one had popped up on their phones from their tech expert for hire.
One of these days, Dean would get Charlie to join them permanently. She was wasted in data entry, and he knew she loved the thrill of being involved, even peripherally, in their jobs. The fact that they generally only hit dicks like Roman was an added plus.
Garth drove right up, and Sam used the reader from Charlie, and the gates rolled back.
As the van headed up the drive, Dean listened into the police and security company frequencies through his earwig; they’d never come remotely close to being caught, but that was because they never left anything to chance. And the roving patrols that covered the area were not that impressive; they kept to a set cycle, and Dean had that timed. They’d be gone before the rent-a-cops came back around.
He wasn’t breaking their winning streak tonight.
Roman’s house was a two storey building, surprisingly understated, but then everybody knew the man was richer than God: he didn’t need to prove it.
It was how he got rich that irked Dean; there wasn’t a single one of his businesses that was morally above board, but legally they never quite crossed the line or not in a way that anybody could prove. On those occasions when someone kicked up a fuss, and the press or anybody made noises about official enquiries, Roman had enough clout to make it go away.
Nobody doubted that there was evidence, somewhere, that could put Roman away for a long time, but nobody had ever been able to find it.
Taking his shit tonight wouldn’t do much to redress the balance, but it’d improve their finances a lot, and the thought of Roman coming home to find he’d been robbed did make Dean feel all kinds of warm inside.
They got in no problem, leaving Garth waiting in the van. The blueprints they’d obtained held a pretty up to date layout of the house, and they’d already planned how to split it.
Sam would take the first floor; Dean, the second.
They’’d be in and out in less than fifteen minutes, because while Roman might be gone all night, they knew not to outstay their welcome.
Neighbours could be nosy, and while Roman’s property was surrounded by trees (he was something of a privacy nut), they didn’t take stupid chances.
As he climbed the stairs, Dean remembered where the bedroom was from the plans Charlie had got for them.
The first door was a personal gym, and Dean bypassed that. The next door was the one he was looking for: Roman’s bedroom, where he kept his safe.
While Sam was downstairs, lifting the paintings they already had buyers for, Dean would be emptying the contents. A couple of their sources had filled them in on what they could expect to find, and it would be well worth their time and effort in planning this particular theft.
But as soon as he opened the door, he heard it: the shower in the ensuite was running.
He paused, holding his breath; but Roman had left. His limo had pulled out, and his cook and cleaner were not live in. The only person Roman lived with was some dude, that Roman liked to have on his arm when they went places.
No doubt the guy was well rewarded for letting Roman display him by day and fuck him hard at night, and Dean scowled at the thought.
Still, if he wanted to whore himself out, then whatever. The point was, Roman never, never attended any public engagement without him, so likely they’d just left the shower running.
He had to be sure though. If somebody was in there, then they’d have to bail fast. They never hit a property when someone was home; the chances of somebody getting hurt, or their descriptions ending up with the police, were too great to risk.
He crept inside, and pressed his ear to the door, but all he could hear was water. No sounds of moving around, or the splashing of somebody actually taking a shower.
Yeah, like he’d thought. They’d just left it on.
And that was when he heard a different sound.
One that chilled him.
It sounded like a whimper, weak and low, but…
Somebody was in there.
Dean backed up, flicked the switch on his radio twice to let Sam know they had company, and started for the door.
“Please? Please, is something out there? Dick, is that you? Please, please, I’m sorry. Let me down!”
Fuck. Dean froze in place, not sure how he’d been heard over the water running, but also stunned at the voice.
It was definitely a man, and Dean couldn’t understand what was going on, but then Sam's voice was coming through his ear.
“Dean, I'm at the front door, where the hell are you?”
He had a balaclava in his pocket, for the occasions when somebody was unexpectedly home, and they had to cover up fast, but normally they just got in the way.
Tonight, though…. Dean pulled it on, ignoring Sam’s increasingly worried voice, and pushed open the bathroom door.
It took Dean a moment to accept what he was seeing.
The shower was set over the bath, a wide old fashioned ornate tub, surrounded by a neat, clear curtain, directly opposite the bathroom door.
And it was on, and it was occupied, but it was nothing like what Dean had expected.
There was a guy in there. He was wearing only a pair of jeans, and his hands were….fuck, they were cuffed, somehow, to the shower, so he was trapped right under the spray. Even from the door, Dean could see the water was freezing, and the guy was utterly drenched.
When he saw Dean, he let out a panicked cry, and tried to scrabble back. But between the cuffs, and the slick floor of the bath, all he managed was to slip and then he was dangling from his wrists, and he actually screamed.
His wrists were already torn; Dean could see streaks of blood around the cuffs, and now they were taking all his weight.
He couldn’t help it, knew it was dumb, knew he should just go, but a moment later he was in the shower, bearing the guy’s weight, and getting him at least to his feet.
“Please, don’t hurt me, don’t, please,” he sobbed.
Dean kept an arm around his waist, and reached behind him to turn off the water, which was, as he’d expected, damn near arctic.
“I won’t,” he said. “Look, I’m not going to hurt you alright. What the hell is this?”
He looked up at the cuffs. There was some kind of hook with a lock on it on the shower head, and it all seemed solidly fixed together.
Something told him that set up was purpose made, and he felt a sickening lurch in his stomach. This maybe wasn’t the first time it had been...used...like this.
But he’d need help here; he couldn’t get the guy down without undoing the cuffs, and that meant picking them.
He freed up one hand to activate his radio.
“Uh...You need to get up to the bedroom,” he said.
Sam swore. “What? Are you in trouble? Dean, talk to me.”
Somebody is. “I just need you to pick a lock, now hurry up. And, uh, get ready for a shock okay? By the way, yeah, we do have company, so cover up.”
Sam was upstairs in seconds, and he stopped in the doorway to stare at them.
“Never seen a guy in the shower? Get over here, man.”
But Sam didn’t move. Instead, he said, “Can I, uh, talk to you? Outside?”
Dean stared at him, and for the love of God he was on the verge of yelling his little brother out. Talk to him? Was there some part of this scene that wasn’t making it through to Sam’s brain?
“No. Not exactly a good time.”
Fuck. “Nice. No. Get your ass over here, and get these cuffs off. Now.”
Sam grumbled, but he did as he was told. He had to climb into the shower, but it was big enough to easily fit all of them, even when one was a moose, and he started work on the cuffs.
The guy was silent, but trembling, between them.
Dean had a feeling what was coming next, and tightened his hold on the guy.
“You want to tell me what’s going on?” Sam said.
Dean shrugged, as best he could with his arms full of the guy’s nearly dead weight.
“You know what I do, right now.”
And then the cuffs clicked, and Sam was opening them, carefully, and he hissed at the sight of abraded skin, and the guy whimpered, and then it went as Dean expected.
He shoved Dean back, hard, with a strength Dean figured came from sheer terror and desperation, and then he tried to run.
His legs must have been jelly, though, and he stumbled and tripped, and then Sam…
Hell, he didn’t know what Sam was thinking, but he jumped after the guy, and then he was pinning him to the floor.
If Dean expected a fight, though, he was way off base on that one.
The guy was shaking, but Dean figured that was more to do with an enforced cold shower. But he looked up at Sam, with a scary level of calm, this giant stranger who was pinning him with his body weight, and had his wrists pressed to the floor.
“Do it,” he said. “Do whatever you’re going to. Just get it over with.”
Sam let him go, and scrambled to his feet. He looked helplessly from the guy, to Dean, and then back.
“I...fuck, I’m not going to...Fuck.”
“Yeah,” Dean said, and patted his brother’s shoulder. “Look, let’s at least get him up.”
That was when Garth’s voice piped up in both their ears. “Uh, guys? I don’t want to rush you, or anything, but what happened to the schedule?”
“Just…”. Dean spotted a couple of towels hanging on a heated rack, and grabbed them. “Change of plans, Garth. Just keep you eyes and your ears open.”
He took slow, small steps until he was standing near the guy, but not over him, and held out the towels.
“C’mon,” he said. “Just….look, let us help, okay?”
HIs name was Castiel Novak, and what seemed like years ago he had been a PA working for the director of a small shipping company that Roman acquired by hostile takeover.
In fact, it had been last year and Castiel always felt little stunned when he remembered that this hadn't been his life for much longer than that.
He had caught Roman’s eye, though he hadn’t realised it at first. In hindsight, maybe he should have; when the company was mothballed, Roman having stripped it of everything of worth, only Castiel still had a job: he was transferred to one of Roman’s companies, and after that he saw Roman around. A lot.
It seemed to go fast after that. Roman was always summoning him to his office for this, for that, and then he would get Castiel to eat lunch there for quickness. Then it was business dinners, and one night, it was a dinner at Roman’s house where there was no business.
And no one else, either, not that Castiel had known any of that until he turned up.
Roman was very hard to say no to, though, what with subtle reminders of just how much power and control he had in Castiel’s life.
And through it all, he was mostly charming, and he treated Castiel well. Mostly.
Except when Castiel disappointed him. Which he tried not to do. He learned how to fulfill Roman’s expectations, and he got good at it.
He didn’t really have a choice.
They let the guy get changed in the bathroom. Sam found some clothes and underwear for him and set them down close by. The guy was just standing there, towels hugged to his chest, eyeing them like he expected a blow, or worse, at any moment.
He was still shaking, and Dean didn’t know if you could get hypothermia from being trapped under freezing cold water for who knew how long….
Just how long had he been under there, anyway?
Sam closed over the door; there were no windows the guy could climb out, so unless he fainted, or something, it was safe to leave him alone.
And it gave them a chance to talk.
“What the fuck is all this?”
Dean gave a helpless shrug. “That’s definitely him, Sam. Roman’s….whatever.” He felt a little guilty now, for his earlier thoughts. Yeah, he knew some guys like to play sick games, and to be honest he’d imagined Roman, maybe, as one of those types since power was definitely a thing for him.
But this...yeah, no way he’d ever have expected this.
“So what are we going to do?”
Wasn’t that the million dollar question? This was meant to be a standard job: in, get what they came for, and get out.
Rescuing some guy from being tortured, that hadn’t been part of the plan.
But they were in this now, and Dean didn’t feel like he could just step back out and be able to sleep tonight. Or ever again.
The door opened, then, and Castiel came out. He was still pale, still shaking, but dressed, at least, in the sweater, jeans and socks Sam had found for him.
He noticed Sam hadn’t included shoes, despite there being a closet of them (some surely had to be the guy’s) and he wondered if Sam was fearful that Castiel would make a run for it.
Dean didn’t think so. The attempt in the shower had been tail end panic. After, Castiel had seemed almost resigned to something unpleasant happening to him, and it troubled Dean that he didn’t know them but seemed to think whatever they could do to him...wouldn’t be anything like what Roman could...or had.
That was the only thinking that made sense to him right now, and he had a desperate urge, then, to have Roman right there in front of him.
Instead, Dean went over to the bed and tugged lose the quilt cover. Not great, but under that were silk sheets and the guy needed warmth, not luxury.
He draped it around Castiel’s shoulders, before he could flinch away, and then backed off.
Maybe the question wasn’t what they were going to do.
“Do you want to leave?” He ignored Sam’s stunned gasp. “Tonight. Do you want to leave tonight?”
Castiel was staring at him like he’d suggested they all fly to the moon. He bit his lip, teeth blanching the flesh, until Dean was scared he’d chew right through it.
“Don’t,” Castiel said. “You...look, I don’t know who you guys are, but you seriously...You picked the wrong house to rob. You have no idea, no idea what he’ll do. You don’t…. You don’t cross him, you don’t disagree with him, you don’t do anything to provoke him, not if you don’t want him coming after you.”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “I heard he’s got a bit of a vicious streak.” The number of people, families, even, turfed out on the street for late rent, the number of people fired so he could make a bigger buck, the number of business opponents ruined by Roman…. Pissing him off was like poking an angry bear with an army of lawyers and an MBA, and no damn heart.
“But I also don’t care.” If he had, they wouldn’t be standing here now. Roman would never know who had robbed him. He’d be raging, but with no one to take it out on.
Unless...unless he came home, and found the person Dean had a feeling he usually took his disappointments out on.
“We can drop you anywhere,” he said. “There has to be somewhere you can go?”
But he knew the answer before Castiel answered; if he had somewhere to go, someone to turn to, then they likely wouldn’t have found him handcuffed under a cold water shower.
And not for the first time, Dean was certain.
“Why did he do that?” Sam asked, gently.
Castiel didn’t look at them. “I was sick, tonight. I wasn’t ready in time, and I had a temperature. He said he’d take care of that for me.”
Yeah, Dean definitely wanted some quality personal time with that douche bag. But maybe a little vengeance tonight would have to do the job...at least for a while.
“You got a bag?”
Castiel looked a little stupefied. “A bag?”
Dean snapped his fingers, trying to get Castiel to focus. “Yeah, a bag, for your things.”
“We’ll use this,” Sam said. He had the hold-all he’d brought for the pictures, all carefully rolled up and inserted in protective tubes. They’d be fine under some shirts, pants and underwear.
Castiel could only watch as the two guys went into the closet. Dean paused at one rack, and looked back at him. “These yours?”
Castiel nodded. Dean grabbed the everyday stuff (there were a few outfits like dinner jackets and suits that he supposed Roman had him wear for special occasions) and then picked up the shoes underneath. With Sam’s help he stuffed them in the bag, and then grabbed some underwear and socks as well.
Castiel looked back to the bathroom, but Dean could see he wasn’t exactly keen to go back in there, and he felt guilty they’d made him get changed in there.
“Forget your toothbrush,” he said. “We’ll get you a new one.”
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” Castiel said. “You have no idea, if he gets back, if he finds me gone…”
Dean grinned. “He’s never going to lay eyes on you again.”
And then he realised that, risky as it was since they’d used up their window, he hadn’t tried the safe. It seemed crazy now, but he couldn’t leave this house without taking every damn thing he could to piss Roman off.
Taking Castiel was the priority though, but Dean could have that safe open in seconds.
And he did. He pushed aside the painting it was behind, and he fiddled with the combination, while Sam paced behind him.
Then it was open, and Dean grabbed the expensive watches and cufflinks that Roman had in there, the small bag of diamonds he kept as well.
Yeah, Roman would be pissed tonight.
He left the safe open (didn’t matter now), and turned around to see that Sam had grabbed a pair of sneakers from the bag and handed them to Castiel, who was putting them on.
“Okay,” he said. “Time to go.”
They led Castiel downstairs, and outside, and he hesitated when he saw the van. Garth was watching for them, and he paled when he saw Castiel. “Uh…”
“It’s okay,” Dean said. He tugged the door open, and turned to face Castiel.
He was still just standing there, and it seemed crazy to Dean, to have a chance to escape and not take it, but maybe...maybe nobody had been there before for him, to offer him that chance.
He held out his hand. “C’mon, Cas.”
Castiel took it, and Dean got him inside, and then he and Sam piled in after him.
Garth had them down the drive, and Sam opened the gate, and then they were gone, and there were no sirens, nothing over the police or security frequencies to suggest anybody knew what they’d just taken from Roman’s house.
Cas was strangely silent, until Garth took a right to turn them south, and they passed the Borthwick Mall; it had been abandoned when the developers ran out of money, and was now just a sealed off site, the half completed building turned derelict in the years since.
“He told me,” Cas said, suddenly, “that if I ever tried to run, he’d find a hole out here, and put me in it and bury me.”
Dean put his hand on Cas’s shoulder, squeezed.
“Not going to happen, Cas.” And he meant it. Because, somehow, he had a feeling Cas was staying with them. And he was okay with that; he couldn’t explain it, but there it was.
And when he looked at Sam, he knew his big brother had seen it as well.
Dean tugged off his balaclava, and Sam did the same.
Cas seemed a little surprised, but then he just nodded, and when he sat back he leaned a little into Dean.
He was okay with that, too.
Two months later, someone hacked Dick Roman’s network at his corporate headquarters. The next day, the DA, and the press, received a metric ton of shit on him, and his business activities, and Roman wasn’t greasing or threatening (or murdering, as it turned out he had done in the past) his way out of it.
He was under arrest by the end of that week and, though the trial took another four months, Dean was walking into their apartment that last day with a paper bearing the headline they’d both been waiting so long to read.
“Twenty three years,” Dean said, as he held the paper out.
Cas took it, but his hands were shaking. He kept looking from it to Dean and back, and Dean got it. He had done everything he could to hide Cas from Roman, but despite Cas knowing that, knowing that Roman would never be able to touch him again, Cas still had nightmares, and afterwards Dean felt like all he could do was hold Cas until he came back to him.
But not anymore.
Cas set the paper down, and then he was cupping Dean’s face, and kissing him. Dean pulled Cas in, holding him tight. Even without that verdict, even if Roman had someone got out from under, he would have never let the bastard get to Cas.
Now Cas could be sure of it, and Dean would owe Charlie a debt he couldn’t ever repay.
“You did this,” Cas said. “Dean, you did this, you saved me, and I…. Dean….”
Dean guided Cas’s head to his shoulder, and held on as tight as he could. “I had help. Never gonna let anybody hurt you again, Cas. Never.”
He could hear the smile in Cas’s voice when he spoke. “I know.”