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In Death I Will Survive

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"Come on, Cassie, what are the odds? It's fate, I tell you."

"Not interested."

"Well, why not?"

Castiel Novak snorts and rolls his eyes at his colleague as he makes his way out of the Angel Security building and jogs towards his truck. He hears a huff behind him as Fergus MacLeod, or Crowley, as he prefers to be called, struggles to catch up with him.

Castiel sighs as he reaches his truck, an old beat-up Ford, and leans up against the side of it, arms crossed and resting in the open window. Crowley shuffles up to the passenger door, it's window also rolled down, and sighs. He holds up a stack of papers so that Castiel could see them before he tosses them on the seat. "Come on, Cas. You've been specifically requested by the guy's firm."

Castiel raises his eyebrow at Crowley in question, and the man across from him rolls his eyes. "Alright fine. You're the only one who doesn't have an assignment at the moment. Doesn't change things, you are still one of our best." He holds up a brown folder and Castiel sighs, motioning for Crowley to come over to his side of the truck. He takes it from him and flips it open, bypassing the first page where the client's information is.

The case is a classic stalker and death threat. He skims through the gathered information. A single man living with his brother on the outskirts of Hollywood. Security’s recently been increased on the house after a smash and grab while they were out on tour, and management has decided to bring in a full-time bodyguard to augment event security due to an escalation of online threats.

Castiel sighs and tosses the folder in the truck and crosses his arms over his chest, squaring up to look at Crowley. "Alright, fine. I'll meet with them and see if we’ll be able to work with one another." He holds up a hand to keep Crowley from saying anything before continuing, "I am not going to guarantee that I will take this case. If our personalities don't mesh you know as well as I do that I won't be able to guard him to the best of my ability."

Crowley chews on the inside of his cheek for a few seconds before he nods his agreement to Castiel's assessment. "Alright. I'll let Naomi know. Personal info's in the folder like always." He turns on his heel and starts walking away, only to stop at the base of the stairs leading up to the lobby. "And Cassie? Go easy on the boy. He's scared, and he feels like he's alone. Remind him that there are people he can lean on and that will protect him; be there for him."

Castiel watches Crowley as he walks back into the building before pulling the door to his truck open and climbing in. He picks up the folder again and opens it to the first page, scanning over the client's information. Technically there are two; Dean and Sam Winchester. Dean's the frontman for a small-time rock band whose star is finally starting to rise now that he's signed with Death Siren Studios, and Sam is his all-around right-hand man, not quite his assistant or manager, but essential all the same. No other living blood relatives. He notes that Anna is his manager and sighs, knowing that if she’s the one who called in Angel Security then the threat is very real. The band members are Charlie, Jo, Benny, and Garth, all living in the same area in separate houses. Garth and Benny each have wives they live with while Charlie lives alone, and Jo lives with her mother. Dean and Sam have an old family friend, Robert Singer, living with them after the break-in so that someone is always at the house.

The Police Department has no real idea on who's behind the break-in and threats yet. Hollywood's crime lab is chronically backed up, so there's been nothing added to the original police report. Death Siren has been increasing security at Winchester's events and footed the bill for the upgrades at the house. After the break-in, Anna put her foot down and decided that it was time for him to have a personal bodyguard.

Castiel sighs and throws the folder on the passenger seat. A picture slides out of a man in his late twenties with sandy-blond hair standing up in spikes. A rakish grin causes wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. Castiel picks up the photograph, and as he studies it closer, he can see the freckles sprinkled across his nose and cheeks and green eyes tinged with gold. Castiel smiles softly and tosses the picture back on the folder. He turns the truck's engine over and puts it in reverse, twisting around and backing out of his spot. As he makes his way onto the interstate, he mulls over the Winchester file some more. He'll call them when he gets home, he decides.

I could drag you from the ocean
I could pull you from the fire
When you're standing in the shadows
I could open up the sky

The meeting is to be at a neutral ground, so the Winchesters and Castiel settled on the lobby of the W Hollywood hotel. When Castiel walks in, he sees a man lounging on a leather chair near the circular staircase facing away from him, feet propped up on the chair next to him. Sam is facing the door and sees Castiel walk in and stands to greet him, slapping Dean on the shoulder to get his attention. Sam's face is grave as Castiel makes his way across the lobby to shake his hand.

"Sam. Dean. Thank you for meeting me here," he says as he and Sam shake hands. Dean steps up beside Sam and casts a look up and down Castiel's body, leering a little before he extends his hand in greeting.

"Well hey there Cas-Tee-Ell," Dean says, drawing his name out as if he's rolling the word around in his mouth to taste it. Sam rolls his eyes and turns away from them and plops down on the chair Dean had just vacated, crossing his arms. Castiel raises his eyebrows at Dean, who shrugs. "Sorry about him, he doesn't care for new people. It's nothing new, and he'll get over himself eventually."

Sam snorts and slouches down lower into his chair, grumbling under his breath.

Dean rolls his eyes and turns back to Castiel, ushering him to one of the cushions that ring the center pillar. "So, you're the sucker that the label picked, huh? Gotta say you don't really look like a bodyguard. Too pretty."

Castiel ignores the jab as he takes a seat on the purple cushion. "Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Winchester."


Castiel inclines his head to the singer. "Dean. I've looked over your file, so I know the background of what's been happening, but I wanted to talk with you before we went forward."

Dean leans back in his chair, eyebrows raised. "What for?"

"If we are to work together, I need to know that we can get along. Being your bodyguard will mean that I am with you all day, every day and will have to vet even the most casual of acquaintances."

"You mean my hookups," Dean smirks.

"As you say. Regardless, it means that I will be a large part of your life for the foreseeable future. I'd rather make sure that we won't… rub each other the wrong way."

Dean leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees, smirk still in place. "Oh, if there is any rubbing, it won't be the wrong way."

Castiel leans back and frowns. "There won't be any of that, Dean. Not with me."

Dean huffs a laugh and pats Castiel on the knee. "Alright tough guy, it was just a joke. So. What are we looking at? A trial period? An in-depth interview?"

"If you are willing to do a trial period, that would be best, yes."

Dean tilts his head, considering. "Alright. Two weeks?"

Castiel inclines his head in agreement.

Dean slaps his thighs and stands up, putting his sunglasses on. "Alright, then. I'm gonna go take a walk."

Castiel stands as well and straightens his trench coat. "I'll go with you."

Dean looks over his glasses. "Alone."

"No. You agreed to two weeks, and that starts now. If you want to take a walk, I'll accompany you."

Sam speaks up for the first time since they introduced themselves, startling both men, and tells Dean to get over himself and take a walk with the guy, already. As they make their way out of the lobby, Castiel glances back to Sam to invite him along. The glower on Sam's face, however, changes his mind, and he and Dean walk through the sliding doors alone.

As they amble down the crowded sidewalk, Castiel ponders Sam's cold shoulder towards him. Given that his brother's life may be in danger, he's a little confused at Sam's apparent animosity towards him. He shakes off his thoughts, however, and turns to Dean, hoping to draw him into a conversation. They chat about inane things back and forth for the twenty minute walk around the block. As they come to a stop outside the hotel again, Dean sighs and rakes a hand through his hair.

"Look, man. I get why the label is doing this. I just have a hard time understanding why someone would be fixated on me. I'm nobody. And I'm afraid that all of this work you'll be doing will be for nothing."

Castiel hums under his breath before answering. "I could give you several reasons someone - or someones - has fixated on you, but I'm fairly sure you've already been provided those answers. The truth is, Dean, that we just don't know for sure the reason why. But every life is precious. With your high-profile life and constant contact with strangers, it makes you an easier target, so higher measures need to be taken to secure your safety." Castiel draws a breath and gently reaches out and lays a hand on Dean’s shoulder, causing the man to raise his eyes. "Dean. You are not a nobody. You are a talented man and a strong one. Asking for help does not make you any less of either of those things. I read in your file that you are also bi, is that correct?" Dean nods his head, and Castiel continues, "In all likelihood, that could also be a reason for the… the attention you are getting. Regardless of the reason, no matter who we hire to augment your security, if this trial period works out my job will be to protect you, to keep you safe." He squeezes Dean’s shoulder once before dropping his hand.

Dean sighs again but nods his understanding. "All right. I'll have the housekeeper that the band shares make up a room for you at the house since I'm guessing you'll be staying with me?" Castiel nods and Dean continues. "Ellen is Jo's mom, and kinda like my aunt, so I trust her with my life. Everyone on staff has had extensive background checks after I signed with DS, so I know my crew and staff are legit. Let me know whatever you need, and we'll make it happen, no expenses spared, OK? Even if I don't think I'm worth all of this hullabaloo, I don't want my family caught in the crosshairs of this freak."

Castiel blows out a breath. "That's helpful, thank you, Dean. Have her ready a room for me where I can set up an office as well. I'll also have to bring in a technician to set up the computer system I'll be using to coordinate your security, but I will let you know before they come out to the house."

Dean waves him away. "If you need a computer person, ask Char - Charlie. She's a fuckin' genius with computers and can likely set up anything you want faster and better than your guys."

Castiel laughs. "I'll just let the two meet then. Our tech - Ash - graduated from MIT and I'm fairly sure he's hacked into the CIA's mainframe just for kicks. I'm sure they will get along famously."

They share a laugh and bump shoulders before they part ways. As Castiel turns away, he catches a glimpse of a smaller dark-haired woman next to Sam in the window of the lobby. Both have matching frowns on their faces as he walks away.

And I could give you my devotion
Until the end of time
And you will never be forgotten
With me by your side

The rest of Castiel's day consists of connecting with his preferred co-workers to coordinate the setup of his office at the Winchester home and packing. His Bluetooth is firmly planted in his ear, he chats with each person he wants to accompany him on the detail before finally checking in with Crowley.

"Yes, Crowley. For now, we've decided on a two-week trial."

Crowley snorts. "Two weeks? That's it?"

Castiel rolls his eyes as he rolls his workout shirts so he can pack them in a suitcase. "Two weeks is plenty of time to decide if we can handle being attached at the hip. He seems to be taking this well enough, and his personality doesn't seem to be abrasive enough for me to worry about him hiding anything." He finishes with the shirts and moves on to his socks and boxers. "Besides, we took a walk today and chatted a bit. He seems… nice."

"Nice, huh? Gonna hit that?"

Castiel sighs. "No, Crowley. This isn't a movie, it's my job."

"Oh lay off Cassie. I'm just pulling your leg. So I see the reqs you sent in for your normal team, I'll get ‘em signed and set up. Normal protocol?"

Castiel hums in agreement as he starts filling his bag with the remainder of his clothing. "Yes. We'll set up at the home and have a mobile unit ready to go for when Dean returns to touring. For now, he's decided to stick to smaller venues so that security can stay tight. Until we can figure out who this stalker is, it's for the best."

"Alright, sounds good. I'll let the boss know and get all this set up on my end. Keep me updated."

"Will do." Castiel reaches up and turns the earbud off before he sighs and sits down on the bed next to his suitcase. He mentally reviews his packing list to distract himself from thinking about his current client.

Truth be told, he's intrigued by Dean. One part cocky bravado and one part lost little boy, Dean seems to be a fascinating man away from the spotlight. Castiel saw someone he would very much like to get to know under the rock star mask today, and he wonders if his fascination with the man will be sated just by becoming friends with him.

His brother, on the other hand, is worrisome. Sam had been standoffish the entire interview, and something felt off about the younger man. Castiel has yet to be able to pin down what, exactly, is causing his wariness of the younger Winchester, but with his experience, knows better than to just dismiss his gut. He reaches over and grabs a small notebook off the bedside table and scribbles some notes in shorthand to dig deeper into Sam's past and to try to find out who the woman was with him at the hotel. He flips it shut and tucks it in his jacket pocket and calls Dean as he stands to finish his packing. The line rings three times before Dean picks up.

"Just couldn't stay away, could'ja?"

Castiel smiles and shakes his head. "I just wanted to let you know I should be there within the hour. I've also set everything up with Angel Security to have the team come out tomorrow to start setting up. Can you have your family, crew, and staff at the house tonight so I can introduce myself to them?"

Dean laughs. "Sure thing, man. Ellen's already getting the two rooms you wanted set up, so you should be good to go by the time you get here." A scuffle indicates that Dean is covering the microphone and he hears Dean tell someone that yes, Cas will, in fact, be there in a little while and they can meet him then before he comes back to the phone. "Speaking of Ellen, good thing you wanted everyone here 'cause as it turns out she wants to meet you too."

Castiel chuckles as he stands up from the bed and zips the suitcase shut. "Well good, we'll both be able to sate our curiosity in about an hour then. I'll see you in a little while."

"Alright, Cas. I'll send you a text with the gate code."

"Thank you, Dean." Castiel presses the button on the Bluetooth again to disconnect the call and casts one last look around the room to make sure he doesn’t forget anything. With a deep breath, he sets the suitcase down on the floor, rolls it over to the door, and turns off the lights before walking out of his apartment and down to his car.

And I don't need this life
I just need…

Dean's house is not quite what Castiel was expecting. The house is large, yes, and relatively standard in the exterior, but that's not what causes Castiel to pause.

The grounds are surrounded by wild woods that come within a few feet of the house. He can't tell where the fence goes past the few feet beyond the driveway, so he makes a mental note to inquire about it. The wooded area is a concern for security.

As he continues up the driveway, Castiel is glad to see a collection of cars in front of the house. Dean's kept his word and called together everyone who works with or for him. He parks his car out of the way of the rest of the vehicles in the driveway so that he's not blocking anyone in and pulls his bags out of the trunk. As soon as he goes to knock, however, the door is ripped open to reveal a grinning Dean.

"Hiya Cas!"

And so the rest of the night goes by in a bit of a blur. He's introduced to the crew and band, along with the few staff members of Dean's household. Ellen shows him to his two rooms- the office he requested is actually adjacent to the guest room he's staying in- and he leaves his bags on the bed, making sure his notebook is still safely located in his jacket pocket.

As the impromptu party goes on, Castiel finds himself studying the people gathered. Everyone is genuinely happy to meet Castiel. They too have been worried about Dean and his safety, and they are glad to bring Castiel into their little family, if only for a little while. The only real dark spot on the evening is Sam.

Just as he did in the hotel, Sam keeps himself apart from the little gathering, sitting and glaring at anyone who gets close to Dean. Castiel continues to take note on Sam's strange attitude but pushes it to the side in favor of the new people he meets.

Bobby and Ellen remind him of concerned parents when they take him aside to talk with him. He can see the tightness at the corner of their eyes relax a little as he discusses what his plans are, and they nod with understanding. The staff is easily met and reassured that he plans on not getting in their way, and the band.

'67 Black is Dean's extended family. Charlie and Jo very clearly have adopted Dean as a brother, blood bond or not. Benny strikes him as much the same way and Garth, well, Garth doesn't look or act like he'd hurt anything willingly. The four of them each take a chance to strike up a conversation with him through the night, and they each extend their gratitude to Castiel for taking the job.

He doesn't tell them that it's only a trial period for right now. He doesn't want to take away what little comfort they have been given tonight.

When 10 pm rolls around, Castiel says his farewells and makes his way to his temporary home. He putters around for a few minutes, winding down before a knock on the door draws him out of his thoughts. He opens the door to see Sam standing on the other side, ever-present scowl firmly in place.

"Hello, Sam."

"Castiel." Sam's voice is void of emotion. "Just wanted to extend my congratulations to you and let you know which room mine is."

Castiel's eyebrow raises, but he nods. "I appreciate that. Can you point it out?"

Sam does, and when he turns back to Castiel, he's still frowning at him. "I expect you to stay out of my private space. I understand that you are here to protect my brother, but that doesn't mean you have full run of the house. Stay out of where you don't belong, got it?"

A warning pings in Castiel's mind, but he agrees to Sam's terms and bids him goodnight before he closes the door to Sam's back.

Castiel mulls over the behavior that Sam's displayed through the day. He seems… possessive of his brother and Castiel cannot fathom why. He makes a note to talk to Dean later and learn more about their history before he works his way through his bedtime routine and falls asleep.

I've got nothing left to live for
Got no reason yet to die
But when I'm standing in the gallows
I'll be staring at the sky

The next day is Saturday, thankfully, and Dean has the weekend off. Castiel takes full advantage of this and speaks with the man at length about what to expect for at least the next two weeks. Once Dean indicates his understanding, Castiel takes the chance to ask Dean about his past.

The story is not one Castiel would have expected. The boy's mother died when they were young- Dean four and Sam just six months old- and her death seemed to push their father into a tailspin. Living on the road, the only thing the two boys had was each other, and Dean became both mother and father to Sam.

At eleven, Dean got his first guitar, an old hand-me-down acoustic, and he taught himself to play on it, spending hours entertaining his little brother in whatever crappy motel they were staying in at the time. Eventually, Dean took to busking to supplement what little money John left the boys so they could eat and buy clothing from thrift stores that at least mostly fit Sam's rapidly growing frame. When Dean was seventeen, just weeks after his birthday, the police picked them up from the motel they were staying at in Rapid Springs and broke the news to the boys that John was dead. After a short stay at Sonny's Place, a home for boys, Bobby had come to collect them and took them back to Sioux Falls. Dean's final year and a half of high school in a steady place had allowed him to join the choir and take guitar lessons. Dean had blossomed under the lessons and stable living arrangements, but Sam had withdrawn into himself.

Sam hadn't liked Bobby stepping into the role of father and resented him, even though he'd never cared for John's influence either. Sam had always stuck close to Dean's side, but now that Dean had the opportunity to discover who he was and to be a kid, as much as a seventeen-year-old can be a kid, anyway, Sam had hated when Dean started making friends. He pouted and threw fits whenever Dean had people over and even once cut Jo's long blond hair off when she spent the night. Bobby had gotten him in into therapy after that incident and Dean had stopped bringing friends home, and so the lashing out from Sam stopped.

Once Dean graduated high school, four of his best friends and he decided to put together a band and play the Roadhouse as a house band on Friday and Saturday nights. At first, all they did was covers, but Dean and Jo started writing original songs that were welcomed by Ellen's patrons. By the time Sam graduated, '67 Black was a well-known local band with gigs all around the state. To Dean's surprise, Sam took two years of community college for a business degree and became their de-facto manager. Bookings increased dramatically after that, and in a year they had a signed contract with Death Siren and relocated the entire family to California. They started touring up and down the West Coast and opening for more significant acts.

And then the threats began.

At first, Dean brushed them off as nothing more than crazy fans. Sam started becoming increasingly agitated with each threat that came in, though, and Dean finally decided to let DS manage the media accounts to take the stress off Sam. Sam also took a lesser role when they signed with DS, instead choosing to act as the band's assistant and letting Anna take over. Dean felt like it was too demeaning to Sam, but Sam insisted that he was happy in whatever capacity he could help the band.

"And that pretty much brings us to today. Not long before our last tour wrapped up, the house was broken into and Anna, our manager, flipped her shit. Nothin' was stolen that we can tell, and the damage was minimal, but the PR gal they put in charge of our accounts told me 'n Anna that the amount of threats has increased quite a bit. So between the threats and the break-in, Anna started pushing for someone like you to come on board."

Castiel purses his lips and sighs. "I know Anna and have worked with clients of hers before. She's never wrong when she starts pushing for heightened security. Usually, we end up being able to assist LAPD in making an arrest against a stalker, but one time…" Castiel leans back in his chair and runs his hand through his hair. "When Anna was first starting in the business, the label she was working for at the time didn't listen to her and refused the request for a bodyguard. Her artist was found dead, slashed from neck to knee, about a month later."

Dean paled. "Holy shit, dude. What happened?"

Castiel shakes his head. "I don't know the specifics, but it ended up being a young woman who was convinced that Anna's client was her soul mate. She lured the young woman out to a park one night and, well, you know how it ended."

Dean swallows harshly and looks away. "Yeah. I'm really glad now that I decided to buck Sammy's decision on this then. If Anna knows her shit that well, I'd be stupid not to listen to her."

Castiel leans forward and places a hand on Dean's shoulder, drawing the young man's attention back to him. "I promise you, Dean, I will do everything I can to keep you safe. Nothing is ever a guarantee, but I will do my best."

Dean nods and gives Castiel a tentative smile.

Because no matter where they take me
In death I will survive
And I will never be forgotten
With you by my side

The band decides to take a week off to allow Castiel time to get his team together as well as his office and mobile unit up and running. Dean uses the downtime as a chance to goof off a little and let off some steam with his bandmates at the house, playing around on his many guitars and keyboards, or playing a little bit of Rock Band. He and Jo work on riffs and lyrics for some new stuff as Sam flits in and out of the impromptu jam sessions making sure they all have food and drink.

The day that Ash shows up to help Castiel install his new computer set up in the office is one Castiel will remember for a long while. Charlie's eyes had gone as big as saucers when she saw the computer equipment Ash was hauling in, and she scrambled up and hustled over to Ash's side to start peppering him with questions. Castiel smirked at Dean's look of incredulity as the two chattered rapid-fire as they disappeared into the office adjacent to his room.

"Wow. Gotta say, Cas, that's not what I expected when you said you had a tech coming out for the computer set up. What's with the-" Dean waves his hand around above his head.

"It's how he's been since I recruited him to my team. He calls it a way to be professional in the front and still have a party in the back."

"Wow," Dean whispers under his breath while Jo and Benny laugh at his expression.

Castiel, Ash, and Charlie spend much of the day Sunday holed up in the office, setting everything up to Castiel's standards. Dean had been correct in his assessment of Ash and Charlie’s meeting, and they spoke back and forth rapid-fire in a language Castiel could barely call English, but between the two of them the systems that they set up worked far better than they had on his last assignment. Charlie was indeed a genius with computers, and Ash was very vocal in his praise for her skills by the time Charlie was called away to eat dinner.

Fifteen minutes after Charlie leaves the room, Castiel's attention is called to the doorway by someone clearing their throat. Castiel looks up to see Sam in the door, who hooks his thumb over his shoulder and says, "Dean wants you two in there too, something about family eating together or some shit," before he turns and stalks back to the kitchen. Ash and Castiel look at each other and shrug, shut everything down, and make their way to the kitchen as well.

They are waved to two open spots - Castiel next to Dean and Ash next to Charlie - and are told to dig in. As dinner progresses, Sam, for once, speaks up, asking Dean what the band's next gig is.

"Dunno yet. Figured we'd at least take the rest of the week to let Cas get into the swing of things on his end, and then after that start hitting up some of the smaller venues up and down the coast. More intimate settings and less stress for us, ya know?"

Sam looks thoughtful, then nods his head. "That sounds good. Just as long as you stay busy. Gotta pay for all of this somehow."

Dean rolls his eyes and continues eating, not bothering to reply. The rest of the band chatters back and forth about the venues they've played before, and Ash grabs a notebook for them to start making a list of the ones they want to go back to. Castiel sits back and watches them with a small smile on his face.

Cause I don't need this life
I just need…

Over the rest of the week, the rest of Castiel's team is introduced to the band. Uriel is assigned to Jo and Charlie, Balthazar to Garth and Bess, and Inias to Benny and Andrea. Sam flatly refused a "babysitter," ignoring all of Dean's protests to the contrary before growling at Castiel and storming out of the house. Castiel had to physically restrain Dean from going after him, afraid that if he did follow, the brothers would come to blows.

"Dean, let him be for now. It's alright. He's partly right in the fact that he's not really a part of the band and therefore won't need a dedicated bodyguard. It won't stop me from keeping an eye on him as long as you two are together, however."

Dean turned scared eyes on Castiel. "Are you sure? He's been a royal dick to you, man," he says in a small voice.

Castiel steps into Dean's personal space and lays a hand on the side of Dean's neck, curling his fingers to cup the back. "Dean, it's my job. And even if it wasn't, I'd still look out for him because he's important to you."

Dean draws in a shuddering breath and holds it for a second, before letting it escape him in a rush. "Alright. I believe you. Thanks, man."

Castiel gives the back of his neck a squeeze before he lets go, and they head into his office to call Anna and start plotting out the next leg of their tour. As the night progresses, Dean scoots closer and closer into Castiel's bubble, until he's leaning shoulder to shoulder with the bodyguard. Castiel smiles a little to himself as he makes notes of the venues Angel Security will need to coordinate with and the dates.

Somebody to die for
Somebody to cry for
When I'm lonely

The start of the tour starts off without a hitch, save one: Dean can't seem to stay out of Cas’ personal space, and as a result, Sam becomes more and more distant and snappish. And the object of his ire is no longer just Cas. Sam's turned into quite the little bitch in the last three weeks, continually storming off when Dean is spending time with Cas. He's avoiding the both of them now instead of just the scruffy-haired bodyguard. And on top of all that, he’s been hanging around with that Ruby chick again, the groupie who just wouldn’t quit.

The two-week trial had flown by, and Dean had signed Castiel and the rest of his team on with no hesitation. He and Cas work well together, annoying little brothers trying to cause strife aside. His band loves Cas and take in their new shadows well, each more concerned about Dean than themselves.

Last week they had rolled out the mobile plan, playing at one of the small venues outside Hollywood the band had started out in. The Deviant's owner, Gabriel, had been incredibly welcoming and excited to see them back, and everything had gone flawlessly.

Well, mostly.

A few fans had been allowed backstage as a part of the agreement with Gabe, and Sam's treatment of them had been horrible. His gentle giant Sasquatch of a brother had spent the night huffing, bitching, and throwing glares until finally, Bobby and Dean got fed up and sent him back to the house, his little shadow in tow. Castiel and his team had to usher the fans out of the way so that Sam didn't trample over anyone in his haste to leave.

Dean leans against the counter, waiting impatiently for the coffeemaker to finish and rubs his eyes. He hears shuffling and looks up to see Cas entering the kitchen. "Mornin' sunshine, want some coffee?"

Cas looks up, surprised. "No, thank you." He walks over to the table and sits down, tablet in hand. "I did want to talk to you, however. Ash has been doing some research, and we tracked down who is doing the majority of the hate posting."

Dean throws a look over his shoulder. "Oh yeah?"

"Mmm." Cas turns the tablet around to face Dean, showing a mugshot of a blond man. "His name is Lucas Morningstar, aka Lucifer. We aren't sure yet why he's targeting you, but he's got a string of assaults to his name showing that a physical altercation is not out of the realm of possibility."

Dean sits down and pulls the table to him. "Dude's fugly."

Cas snorts out a laugh. "Yes, well. He's also highly dangerous. We've got some feelers out looking for him, but he seems to be laying low since his last stint in prison."

Dean nods, taking a sip from his mug as he pushes the tablet back to Cas. "So, what now?"

"Same thing as before. We watch and wait. We've got a relationship with a detective on the force whom we are working with to get the information we need, but for now, all we can do is stay vigilant."

Dean takes another sip of his coffee and squints at Cas. "Well, hope you feel up to hitting the studio today. I've got some stuff bouncing around in my head that I need to get out."

Cas smiles, and Dean feels his heart pull in his chest. "Of course, Dean."

When I'm standing in the fire
I will look him in the eye
And I will let the devil know
That I was brave enough to die

The recording studio is an exercise in patience for Castiel.

When he was younger, music had been an escape for him. Through the church he was introduced to all manner of instruments and taken under the wing of one of the band members there, eventually leading him to join the band in school. Music soothed something in his soul, and he'd kept up with it all the way through school and into college.

He'd set it to the side when he struck out on his own, though. Being on the road all the time didn't lend itself to the ability to sit and enjoy plinking on the guitar or playing a keyboard, even if his clients would allow it.

Watching Dean set up in the small studio that Death Siren set aside for him hurt more than he expected. He wanders around the room as Dean flits back and forth on the controls, fiddling with them until they are set where he wants them. Castiel's eyes fall on an acoustic guitar in the corner of the room that is set on a stand. The wood is a pale brown, and there is no brand name that he can see, so he crosses the room, gently taking the instrument in hand and running his fingers over the strings, tuning it automatically.

"You play?"

Castiel's fingers freeze on the strings with a jangle of noise. "Not for a long time," he says, looking up at Dean.

Dean's face is soft as he watches him. He nods his head to the guitar. "Try her out. She was a personal gift from a guitar maker I know out in Nashville, no other lady like her. She's fidgety, and she loses tune quickly if you don't treat her right, but something tells me that you won't have that problem." Dean turns away to grab one of the other guitars in the room and sits down on one of the stools, gesturing at the other. "Come on, man, let's hear what you got."

Castiel feels his face flush, and shuffles over to the proffered seat, cradling the neck of the guitar as he sits down. He lets his eyes go unfocused as he finishes tuning the guitar, then starts fingering the opening cords of "Simple Man" softly.

"Mm, good choice there, sunshine." Dean rumbles, joining in.

Castiel's eyes slip shut as the music surrounds him, drawing him in. They run through the opening a few times before Dean leads them into the song proper and starts singing along. His voice is lovely like this, he thinks to himself.

"And be a simple kind of man / Oh, be something you love and understand…"

Castiel opens his eyes to watch Dean as he works through the chorus. He's singing the acoustic version that Shinedown put down, and his voice elevates the words in the small room from the simple words into something that is truly out of this world.

They surge into "Hurt," then Castiel leads them through an acoustic version of "Umbrella" (which startles a laugh out of Dean once he catches on to what he's playing), then to "Wish You Were Here," "Landslide," and "Tears in Heaven." As they play, Castiel sees a side of Dean that many don't get to, and wonders if he'll be able to hold his heart out of the line of fire, because he's rapidly falling for the green-eyed singer.

And there's no Hell that he can show me
That's deeper than my pride
Cause I will never be forgotten
Forever I'll fight

A week later, the calm shatters with a visit from Crowley.

Dean comes into the kitchen to see Cas and Sam sitting at the table, laptop between them, and Crowley leaning over the table, clicking around on it and pointing things out to them. Dean stops in the doorway a look of confusion on his face.

"Uh, what's up guys?"

The three men look over at Dean, and Crowley straightens, turning the computer around so that Dean can see it. There on one of his live videos is a comment made yesterday that causes chills to run down his spine.

Dean Winchester is going to die. He thinks he is better than everyone else and I scored tickets to his next concert. I got my gun. If you don't believe me, keep a watch on the headlines.

Dean looks up at Sam, who's mouth has tightened. "This looks pretty serious, Dean."

Dean's eyes flick over to Cas. "This can't change anything with the PR for this concert, Cas."

"Dean, you are not going out there."


"It could be a trap! It's too dangerous!"

"I mean-"

"Dean," Sam breaks in. "Cas is right, we don't know what's out there, maybe- maybe you should stay here. Let Anna handle the PR for the upcoming concerts and just hang out here where we can keep an eye on you."

Dean blinks a few times at Sam. "Since when did you start getting along and agreeing with Cas?"

Sam shrugs. "We talked. Got our shit hashed out and dealt with."

Dean blinks a few more times and shakes his head. "OK. Weird, but OK. I don't like this at all, but fine, I'll stay here and not cause a fuss this time. But we are not canceling the appearances or autograph sessions. People take the time out of their days and pay money they don't always have to be at these things, and I am not letting them down like that. Got it?"

Cas and Sam both nod, and Crowley speaks up. "We'll make sure to review everything beforehand, Mr. Winchester. Don't worry, I've already got my team working on background checks on all of the venues you are planned for as well as the appearances."

Dean throws a grateful look to Cas' coworker and nods. "Alright, well. I'm just-" he throws a thumb over his shoulder. "I'm just going to head back to my room then and do… something." He turns and heads down the hallway to his room. He slumps down in the chair at his desk and drops his head into his hands before he pulls over blank sheet paper.

He works for hours, scribbling out lyrics and picking out a melody on the keyboard. He barely notices when it gets dark, just flicks on the lap at the desk and keeps working.

It's midnight by the time his eyes are too tired to focus anymore, and he decides to turn in for the night. He stumbles over to his bed, strips down to his t-shirt and boxers and falls in, face first, shuffling around to get comfortable until he ends up curled up on his side. He's just starting to drift off when Cas comes in the room on one of his rounds, checking the windows to make sure they are secure. He watches the man through slitted eyelids as Cas stands at the window, looking out over the grounds.

As he gives up and lets the darkness claim him, he hears Cas say softly, "I can't let anything happen to you."

And I don't need this life
I just need…

The days pass by incredibly slowly. Castiel can only watch Dean throw himself into writing and try to keep himself distracted with weapons maintenance, patrolling, and research with Ash. Crowley keeps him updated from the office, and he stays in constant contact with Anna to soothe Dean's worry about the lack of publicity for the only big concert he kept on the circuit.

The concert in question is a benefit concert, with all proceeds going to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Both Sam and Dean want this concert to go off without a hitch, seeing as both of them had been in that hospital more than once as kids.

"So this concert, all these people. What is Lucifer planning to do?" Castiel sighs and throws the latest report across the table. It slides over in reach of Sam, who stops it with a well-timed catch.

"Nothin' good," Sam muses. He picks up the report and skims over it, then sets the paper back down, looking out the window.

"Hey," Castiel leans over and puts a hand on Sam's arm. Sam flinches but looks back over at him. "Don't worry. We'll catch this guy. Nothing is going to happen to Dean."

Sam shrugs and looks down. "Yeah, I know." He pushes back from the table, stalking off into the library and pulling his phone out of his pocket.

Castiel slumps in his chair. He'd really thought that he and Sam had come to an agreement, but after Crowley announced the latest with Lucifer, Sam's seemed off. He's been skulking around the house, avoiding everyone as much as possible, even Dean. Castiel has caught him whispering to someone on the phone in the library more than once and looking sheepish when discovered, then hurrying off to avoid talking to him each time. Castiel can only hope that he's talking to someone who he can lean on in a time like this.

He runs his hands through his hair and decides to check in on Dean. The singer has withdrawn so far into himself the last few days, he's legitimately worried about his mental health. He steps into Dean's bedroom and sees him hunched over his desk again.

"Hey," he calls out softly.

Dean jerks around, pen in hand. "Sorry, startled me. What's up, Cas?"

He pushes off the door frame and crosses over to Dean. "What do you say we get out of here for a while?"

Dean raises an eyebrow at him. "Thought you said I couldn't leave."

Castiel hums in agreement. "I did. But I also know you are climbing the walls in here. We'll have a detail come with us, and I'm armed, as always. Let's go hit up a diner. Get you some non-healthy grub, whatcha say?"

Dean's eyes light up, and that's answer enough for him.

The diner they find is a small one, off the beaten path for LA. They sit and talk for hours, Dean stealing fries from Castiel's plate and eventually just swapping his empty one with the one with Castiel's untouched burger.

When they get home, Sam is standing in the foyer, fuming. "What the hell, Cas? I thought you said that he couldn't leave the house!"

"I was with him the entire time, Sam, as was the detail that is on for the night. He's my responsibility."

"No, he's not! He's all of our responsibility!"

"Guys!" Dean breaks in. "What the hell? I thought you stowed your shit!"

Sam throws his arms out. "You know what? Fine. I'm out." He pushes past the pair, grabs his jacket, and slams the door.

Somebody to die for
Somebody to cry for
When I'm lonely

The day of the concert has everyone on edge.

Dean puts his foot down about the autograph signing. Castiel is anxious when the people start coming in, but they are orderly and courteous; genuinely happy to get a chance to speak with Dean and the rest of ‘67 Black in person, if even for a few minutes. Even though the photo shoot had to be nixed due to the lack of space, Dean and the band are more than happy to pose for selfies, which makes all parties involved happy.

For the autograph session, Castiel and his crew are working the floor. They all know who they are looking for, but they decided early on to not rule out anyone showing suspicious behavior, just to cover all bases. LAPD is here as well, covering the doors in uniform and generally making sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

When the autograph session is over, they clear the back where the band is going to be doing meet and greets and a few interviews, and Castiel retreats to a back room with Ash’s computer set up to monitor the club’s floor. The people are starting to pack in, and the excitement is thick in the air as they jostle for position.

Sam is nowhere to be found as the band mingles with the VIP and media, and Castiel is vaguely worried about the young man but is forced to put him out of his mind as showtime rolls around. The house lights go down, the noise ratchets up, and Charlie puts on a slow and steady beat while Dean introduces the band.

As the band plays, Castiel’s gut tightens with nerves. Where is Lucifer?

When they finish the last song before the encore, a shot rings out through the computer speakers. Castiel is up in a flash, pushing through the crew milling backstage and calling out orders to his team through the mic set. Sam finally turned up and is escorting panicked fans to the exits, and Dean is being manhandled off the stage by one of the venue’s bouncers.

“You gotta get them out of here, man!” he says as he struggles against the burly man.

“Dean!” Castiel rushes up to the singer and nods to the bouncer, taking Dean’s protection over. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine, Cas, but I’m worried about them,” he waves his hand back towards the front of the house where screaming can still be heard.

Uriel’s voice crackles over the earwig. “All OK out here, boss. No one was hurt, just soothing some ruffled feathers. We’ll get em all calmed down and statements taken.”

Castiel heaves a sigh of relief as he relays the information to Dean. “Copy that, Uriel. Keep me updated. I’m taking Dean back to the dressing area.”

“I’ll send PD your way when they are ready for him.”

In the dressing room, Castiel shoves Dean down into a chair. The singer has started hyperventilating, so he shoves Dean’s head down between his knees until he starts showing signs of hearing the instructions Castiel is giving him, then lets him sit up and brings him out of the panic attack.

“’m alright.” Dean looks up and squeezes Castiel’s shoulder. “I’m alright now. Thanks, Cas.”

Castiel nods and brings him a bottle of water and starts checking in with his team. Ash is steadily monitoring feeds, watching for Lucifer to rear his head. Uriel is dealing with the crowd still, and Balthazar…

…is nowhere to be found.

Panic rising in his gut, Castiel pushes out of the dressing room. He runs down the hall to the back of the club and pushes out the door, casting his gaze up and down the alley. Warmth at his back signals that someone has joined him, and he glances over his shoulder to see Dean standing tucked up to his back.

Castiel gestures to Dean to stay at the door and takes a step into the alley. He draws his weapon out of the holster under his arm and starts sweeping the area behind the dumpsters. When he reaches the furthest point of the alley, he hears a scuffle behind him and a muted shout. Whipping around, he shouts out “No!” and runs back toward the door to see a stocky blond tackling Dean to the ground.

Rage rises in Castiel, and he holsters his weapon on the run. When he reaches the two men, he lowers his shoulder and tackles the aggressor to the ground, ramming into the man’s kidneys.

The man under him grunts as they hit the ground, and Castiel wrenches his arms behind him, causing the blond to cry out in pain. Castiel plants his knee in the small of the man’s back so he can reach to the zip ties on his belt and slips them on over his fists, tightening them down viciously. Once he’s sure the man is secure, he flips him over onto his back.

It’s Lucifer.

It’s over.

And I don't need this life
I just need…

Dean sits in the doorway of the club with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. The paramedics have come and gone, taking Balthazar with them to the hospital. Turns out Cas’ gut was right, and after he’d taken Lucifer down, they found him tucked behind one of the dumpsters Cas hadn’t had time to clear. Apparently, Balth had found Lucifer’s hiding spot, and the man had pistol-whipped him hard enough to knock him out and just dragged him into his hiding spot to keep an eye on him.

Dean hopes that Balth is going to be OK. The Brit may be smarmy as fuck, but he’s a good egg.

The blue and red lights of the LAPD squad car blocking the entrance of the alley bounce off the walls, giving Dean a headache. He really just wants to retreat to the solitude of his home, but he’s been asked to stick around so he can provide a statement after Cas gets done with his.

Dean looks around, trying to find someone, anyone, that he can talk to that he already knows. He’s really looking for his brother, but with the way Sam’s been acting since this all started, he’s pretty sure that the Sasquatch won’t be around. His eyes fall on a flash of red hair, and then he’s got Charlie crashing into him, sobbing.

“Dean! Oh gods, you’re OK! Uriel just told us what happened and we can’t find Sam and I was so worried and gods damn it Dean I was worried but here you are and you’re OK-”

Dean cuts off her rambling and pulls her into his lap, letting her shove her face into the crook of his neck and sob. He wraps his arms around her, covering her with the blanket and glaring at the officers that try to separate them. He’s starting to get agitated at their attempts when Cas joins them and shoos them off, letting them know that she’s family and to leave them alone.

Cas sits down beside Dean and lets him lean on him, quietly lending the singer strength. Charlie’s sobs quiet slowly until she draws back, scrubbing at her face.

“So, is it over?”

Cas nods. “Yes. They’ve taken him down to the station. They’ll take over the investigation from here.” He looks at Dean with an unreadable look on his face, then continues. “With the threat taken care of, our job is done here.”

Dean feels his chest constrict at Cas’ words and swallows hard. “Are we one-hundred percent sure it’s over, though? I thought we were sure that he’d been hired.”

Cas inclines his head, then sighs. “We’ve already been recalled back to the office. We’ll be staying with you tonight, but it was made clear that we are to shut everything down and head back tomorrow.”

Numbness washes through Dean. Yeah, they caught the guy that was the immediate threat, but what about the bankroller? A sinking feeling blooms in his gut as he and Charlie sit quietly next to Cas and wait for the detectives to get to him.

Somebody to die for
Somebody to cry for
When I'm lonely

A week later and Castiel is startled by a folder being slammed down on his desk. He looks up to see Crowley standing over him, a frown etched across his features.

“What the bloody hell is this shit, Castiel?”

Castiel flicks his gaze down at the folders on his desk, and shrugs. “I don’t think the threat to Dean’s life is over yet. So, I did a risk assessment to prove it.”

“Well, if you were looking for attention, you bloody well got it,” Crowley snarks back at him. “Naomi wants you in her office. Now.”

Castiel sighs and pushes back from the computer. “You might as well start packing up my desk.”

Crowley slaps his shoulder as they walk through the hallway. “Oh come on Cassie, I’m sure it won’t be that bad.”

Castiel snorts as they split off, and he walks into Naomi’s office. “You wanted to see me?”

Naomi looks up from the file on her desk and takes her glasses off. Folding her hands together over the folder, she leans forward and pins him with a glare. “I understand it’s your assessment that the threat to Mr. Winchester isn’t over yet?”

Castiel nods tightly. “That is correct. While yes, Lucifer was apprehended, we still do not know who was behind him being hired in the first place. In my opinion-”

Naomi cuts him off. “In your opinion.” She leans back in her chair, arms crossed over her chest. “You know, Castiel, I’ve kept an eye on you. You get results, yes, but at what cost? You and Anna care entirely too much about these… people. People who happen to make more money than others do, who have the money to hire someone to protect them from stalkers whereas normal people have to make do with nothing.” She snorts and looks away. “Yes, I know all about you, Castiel. You’ve fallen in love with the people you protect. You have never done what you were told.”

Castiel stares at her in shock. He’d expected to be told to back down from Dean’s case but this-

“Bite me, Naomi. If this is how you are going to talk about Dean, our clients? I refuse to work for you anymore.” He turns on his heel and stalks out of her office as she yells at him to come back. He moves swiftly to the copy room and grabs up a few boxes then sweeps up to his desk, shoving all his personal effects into the boxes. He forwards some emails to himself and grabs some individual files from his drawer. On his way out the main door, he tosses his badge over to the security guard and doesn’t look back.

The doorbell rings through the house, startling Dean out of a half doze in the library. He sets the book down on the table next to the chair he’s in and hauls himself up. Sam apparently beat him to the door, because he can hear snippets of conversation drifting down the hallway.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Sam’s asking as he rounds the corner and sees Cas standing in the doorway.

Dean can feel his face light up as he takes in the other man. “Cas!” he calls out and jogs past Sam to catch the bodyguard in a fierce hug. “Hey man, I didn’t think we’d be seeing you again any time soon.” He claps Cas’ shoulder as they draw apart.

Sam’s still standing in the hallway, arms crossed.

“Dude, what the hell is your problem? He’s obviously off work and wanted to come say hi. Is that a crime?” Dean punches at Sam’s shoulder. The younger man scoffs and storms off.

Dean stares after his brother in shock, mouth hanging open a little. Cas shifts beside him and clears his throat.

“Should I, uh, leave?”

Dean snaps out of his daze and shakes his head. “Nope, I’m glad you are here, man.” He draws Cas into another hug and feels himself melt a little into the slightly shorter man, and he buries his face in the crook of his neck. “Seriously, I’m glad you came by.”

Cas tightens his arms around him before he lets go and draws back a little. “I really wanted to see you. It’s been a long day, and I could really use a friend to talk to.”

“Yeah man, let's head to my room so we can talk. Is this a beer or whiskey talk?”

“Whiskey, I think. You’re not going to like what Ash found.”

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck, fuck.

Sam is so fucked right now.

He snatches up his phone and calls Ruby, again, only to get her voicemail.


He throws his phone down on the bed and rakes his hands through his hair. He jumps when the doorbell rings and barges out of his room to answer the door only to see Castiel fucking Novak on the landing.

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

Sam’s pushed to the side though, as always, when Dean sees Castiel. He growls under his breath as he watches his brother hug the man and crosses his arms, glaring at the two of them. When Dean finally turns his attention back to Sam, he can see his brother try to lighten the mood and scoffs and stalks back to his room, slamming the door behind him.

There’s only one reason he can think of for Castiel to be back here after the job has officially ended, which means that Sam… Sam needs to finish this tonight.

The house is quite as Castiel walks the grounds. He’s not patrolling, just taking a walk through the wooded area of the yard, seemingly at random. His guard is down as a shadowy figure rushes up behind him and stabs him once, twice, three times in the lower back. He’s shoved to the ground and rolls away, left for dead.

The floorboards creak as a tall figure makes its way through the darkened house. Sam peers into Dean’s bedroom and sees the lump curled up under the pile of sheets and blankets and smirks to himself. He pads over to the side of the bed, raises the Glock, and fires three rounds into the pillow area before he turns around and runs out the door.

Castiel blinks his eyes open and turns his head. The leaves that are currently serving as his pillow rustle loudly in his ear as his surroundings come back into focus. Wetness trickles down his side, and everything comes rushing back to him.

He rolls to the side and fumbles his cell phone out of his pocket and calls Crowley, explaining everything that had transpired that night.

“Crowley,” he rasps. “I need you to send an ambulance to the Winchester residence.”

“What? Why?”

“Because,” he coughs, and spits blood out of his mouth. “Because Sam managed to stab me at least once, possibly more. I can’t feel my legs. I also need you to get my team together and get them out here to check on the rest of the band. I doubt they are in danger, but-“ He trails off, fighting to stay awake.

“Alright, just hang on. LAPD and the medics are on the way. Cas, you hear me? Stay awake, featherbrain.”

Castiel can’t answer as his hand falls away from his face, and the cell drops to the ground and slides. The last thing he sees is a tall shadow coming out of the woods and running up to him.

The last thing he hears is the words, “It’s alright sunshine, I gotcha.”

Ruby Cortez is not a stupid woman.

Sure, Sam Winchester was a hot piece of ass. Definitely an enjoyable alternative to his brother the rock star after the bastard shot her down without even looking at her.

When the news breaks of Sam’s brother and bodyguard’s death, Ruby cut ties with LA and scuttles out to Florida. Still lots of sunshine, but no one looking for her here.

Or so she thought.

Victor Henricksen catches up with her a week after she lands in Bartow and she goes quietly.

In the days that follow Ruby strikes a deal with Henricksen, and spills everything about Sam and his obsession. From the night she met him to the day they hatched his plan to scare his brother into needing him again, to the morning they met with Lucifer to order the hit.

And here’s to think she actually thought she loved the guy.

Oh well.

Sam makes it to Las Vegas before he’s caught.

Along the way, he made sure to keep track of the news of his brother and Castiel. It hadn’t taken long for the bodies to be discovered, nor had it taken long for the services to be held.

Sam is packing his duffel, ready to move on to the next city when the ambient noise outside the motel suddenly stops. The door splinters as its rammed in, and he’s shoved down on to his face, arms being wrenched behind him before he truly realizes what’s going on.

Jail is boring to him, now that he no longer has anything to fixate himself on. Without his brother in the world, everything else is sort of bleak and gray. Nothing holds his interest anymore.

That is, until the trial.

Somehow, Castiel had survived the stabbing. Sam sees red when they give their testimony.

The night that he tried to make sure no one would have his brother ends up being his worst nightmare. Castiel’d found out about his plan and had come to warn Dean, convincing him to stay the night with Ellen in the guest house where she lives. When they heard the shots, Dean had torn through the house looking for Castiel, fearing the worst. He panicked when he couldn’t find him until he remembered that the bodyguard liked to take walks through the wooded area around the house. Castiel was weak with blood loss and at the brink of death, but Dean arrived in time to slow the blood loss and get him to the edge of the woods where paramedics could find them.

Inside, Sam screams. Not only did his plan to keep Dean to himself fail, but now?

Now he has to live with the knowledge that Dean gets a happy ever after.

And he won’t be a part of it.

“Hey, sweetheart.”

Cas carefully twists around in his chair to see Dean stepping out onto the front porch of the cabin they’d rented in Gatlinburg. Dean passes him a cup of coffee and sits down on the wooden chair next to where Cas has his wheelchair parked.

“Hello, Dean.”

They sit in silence as they watch the clouds over the Smokey Mountains burn off as the sun rises.

Cas smiles as he takes a sip of his coffee. Dean must catch it because he asks what’s on his mind.

“Mmm, just thinking. You’ll be starting up touring again soon with ‘67 Black, which means we’ll have to go back to the other side of the country. I’ll miss this place.”

Dean’s eyes crinkle as he smiles and looks out over the mountains. “Yeah, it’s a shame to give up such a great view, but at least I’ll be looking at a better one.” He nudges Cas’ shoulder and winks.

Cas snorts. “I highly doubt that, but as long as I get to see your pretty face every morning and you don’t get tired of helping me out of this infernal chair when I need it, I’ll gladly play into your insanity.”

Dean laughs brightly. “Ah sunshine, you can’t get rid of me now.”

The year and a half since Sam’s attack has been hard on both, though for different reasons.

The stabbing left Cas paralyzed from the waist down on his right side, so getting around was still tough for him. Crowley had made sure that Angel Security covered his medical expenses, but there’s only so much one can do with a bum leg. He’s getting stronger every day, and still works for Angel Security as a risk assessor and team leader when he has the strength. Crowley has taken over Naomi’s position after word got around what her real feelings of the client base were thanks to Cas.

Dean’s trauma is beneath the skin, however. After a year with a sweet therapist by the name of Donna, he’s finally ready to try going out on tour again with ‘67 Black. His writing for the album they’re recording now is expectedly darker, but the band came out the other side not only intact but stronger for the experience.

The best thing to come about the horrible experience, however, was Dean’s confession to Castiel after he woke up in the hospital. They’ve been going strong ever since, even with the bumps in the road.

Cas rests his head on Dean’s shoulder and smiles softly.

Don't go gentle into that good night
Rage on against the dying light