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Meg was up before her alarm clock rang.

The moment she stretched her hand to turn it off, she knew right away that it was going to be one of those days. She barely slept at all the previous night and her back and legs were hurting slightly, and it would probably get worse as the day progressed. A part of her wanted to call in sick and stay in bed, warm and secure underneath her blankets, but after giving herself a small pep talk, she kicked them aside.

She walked past by the cane that leaned against the wall without even casting a glance in its direction.

She prepared her shots in the bathroom and injected herself in the thigh. It had become part of her routine to the point she could do it even when her mind was still on autopilot. In fact, it took another twenty minutes for her to actually feel awake, during which she brushed her teeth, changed and made breakfast. Eggs, orange juice, black coffee with no cream or sugar.

She only started being aware of the world around her when she finally sat down and started eating. And the first thing she was aware of, sadly, was that her phone showed two missed calls from Cecily. It wasn’t even eight in the morning yet. What could her father’s assistant possibly want?

She groaned and decided not to call her back. She turned on the TV to check the morning news while she gulfed down her breakfast.

“… it was confirmed that the incumbent senator is going to be challenged by freshman Congressman Sam Winchester, who made waves last year ago when he…”

She turned it off. That was enough news for the day.

Her phone rang, once again displaying Cecily’s name on the screen. Meg sighed deeply and looked at the ceiling to gather her patience before she finally deigned to pick up.

“It’s seven thirty in the morning,” she said, without even greeting her.

“I am very sorry to disturb you this early, Miss Masters…”

“Doctor Masters,” Meg corrected her, not for the first time. Her father’s minions seem to consistently forget her title and it irritated her to no end.

“Doctor Masters, of course,” Cecily said. Meg thought she detected a hint of sarcasm in her tone, but the assistant continued before she could say anything about it: “Senator Masters needed to talk to you about an urgent business that concerns your family…”

Meg bit the inside of her cheek. Really? Her father had run unopposed for the last three elections, and now that he was getting a challenger, somebody it was the whole family’s business? They had done the whole “happy nuclear family” thing for the press when she was a teenager and he was running for office for the first time, but she doubted it was going to work now.

She preferred not to think that he was calling her on account on who his opponent was.

“Well, if it’s so urgent, tell him to call me himself.”

“He wanted to talk to you face to face. Your brother is coming to see him this afternoon and he wanted you to join them…”

“What, do I need to make an appointment to see my own father?” Meg asked. She was growing increasingly frustrated with this entire conversation. “Especially when he is the one who wants to see me?”

Cecily was disarmed for a moment.

“You have to understand: he is a very busy man…”

“I am busy too,” Meg interrupted her. “Right now, I am leaving for work, where I will be busy all morning. Probably a good chunk of the afternoon too. So, if he wants to see me, I suggest he adjusts to my schedule instead of demanding I adjust to his. You can tell him that verbatim.”

She ended the call before Cecily could protest.

Pettily, she felt a little better afterwards. There was a certain small vindication in knowing that her father, as much as he would like to think so, didn’t have complete control over her life now that she was a grown ass woman.

She picked up her briefcase and walked towards the elevator. She managed to do so without tripping over her own feet or having to hold onto any walls, so she considered that a small victory. The sun was shining high in the sky and the sky was blue. It was a perfect late spring morning. Despite herself, her early morning despair dissipated a little bit as she hailed a taxi to head to the hospital.

 


 

Castiel fell down off the couch when his cellphone’s alarm went off and well, that should’ve been an indication of how the rest of the day was going to go.

Still laying on his stomach over the carpet, he rubbed his face and pulled himself up to drag himself to the kitchen. He was going to need several cups of coffee before he was ready for his appointment that morning. While the coffee maker whirred and buzzed, he stretched his hands over his head and rubbed his neck. Anna’s couch wasn’t exactly the most comfortable place in the entire world, but he was lucky she’d let him stay there while he got back on his feet.

That had been a couple months ago, and it was actually surprising that it had taken this long for Anna to start dropping hints that Castiel needed to “start contributing” around the house. Castiel had fixed the lamps, the kitchen counter and the leaky pipes, he had varnished the furniture and he went shopping to the local farmer’s market and made Anna healthy foods from scratch. But he supposed it was only fair that he contributed economically as well.

He added some sugar to his coffee and drank it down still hot before he marched into the bathroom. He made sure that he was clean shaven; he couldn’t show up to his job interview looking like, in Anna’s words, “a depressed hobo”. Castiel also agreed with that, which was why he had sent his one suit to the dry cleaning and borrowed a blue tie from Gabriel.

“The Senator is very impressed with your resume, Captain Milton,” the personal assistant he’d talked about on the phone had told him.

“Please, just… ‘Mr. Milton’ is fine,” Castiel had said. He got a little squeamish when people used his rank to refer to him. “I have been discharged.”

“We know, Captain Milton,” the assistant had replied, as if Castiel hadn’t said a single word. “Senator Masters would like to interview you personally. Is Monday okay for you?”

He supposed he should count himself lucky. It was this or finding another shooting range to work at, and well… he wanted nothing that reminded him of the life he’d had before coming to the city.

Anna exited the room, still in her pajamas and with her flaming red hair in disarray, and gave him a once over.

“Looking sharp,” she said, nodding approvingly as she passed him by and went straight for the coffee.

“Thank you,” Castiel replied, fidgeting with the tie. Those clothes made him slightly uncomfortable, but he needed to look the part. “Hopefully, the Senator will think the same thing.”

Anna took a sip of her coffee and raised a finger, the way she did when she wanted to keep Castiel’s attention.

“Speaking of, I’ve been doing some reading,” she said. “Did you know his daughter is a neuroscientist graduated from Stanford and…?”

“Anna,” Castiel interrupted her with a sigh. “I’m sure I will be given all the information necessary when I’m actually hired.”

Anna narrowed her eyes at him.

“You didn’t even let me get to the juicy gossip part!”

Castiel smiled despite himself. Anna was an investigative journalist; it was in her nature to gather as much information as she could from anyone she or anyone from their family came into contact with. She had always been curious and inquisitive… which were virtues that weren’t exactly encouraged in a pastor’s family. He knew she loved him and the rest of their siblings dearly, but she’d never quite fit in with the rest of them, which was perhaps why she’d never come back to their hometown after she graduated from college.

Then again, he’d done everything he thought would please their father and he’d still ended up sleeping on a couch, penniless and divorced, so maybe Anna had the right idea all along.

He didn’t know, and he didn’t have time to dwell on his regrets that particular morning. He finished his second cup of coffee and stood up.

“Wish me luck in the interview.”

“Good luck!” she said. “Even though you’re going to be working for one of the worst senators ever!”

“His money is just as green as if he was one of the good ones,” Castiel replied as he grabbed his coat and headed for the door.

He needn’t have bothered. It was a beautiful day outside, sunny and warm, the kind of day that would’ve been perfect to walk around the fields and watch the bees at work.

He shook those thoughts from his head. He bought a newspaper from the stand in the corner and stalked towards the bus stop, hoping public transit wouldn’t make him too late.

 


 

The morning was looking up.

Meg read the papers in front of her carefully. She didn’t conduct the interviews with the test subjects herself. She had delegated that part of to several overeager doctors fresh out of their residency who were trying to impress her by taking very detailed notes of everything they observed. Meg had lost her bedside manners after several years of working in the lab, so she preferred to stay there and punch the results in, take new notes and adjusts several different doses to see how they work out.

She’d managed to secure a grant for her research, in no small part because of who her father was, but sometimes she convinced herself that it was because her work was important. That day, for example, she was pleased to see that many of the results she expected had actually come to fruition: the patients reported less tremors, less falls, less dizziness, less secondary effects.

 It was working. If the results kept being as good as they were now…

A loud thud startled her. Rowena, her research partner, had just walked in and settled a bunch of papers right next to her computer.

“Your lunch break started twenty minutes ago,” she said in her trademark Scottish accent, as she sat down on the chair next to Meg.

“Did it?” Meg checked the time in her computer, only to confirm what she already knew: that Rowena was right. She also had an email from her father’s office that she promptly deleted without reading. “I got distracted.”

Rowena hummed disapprovingly sound as she tied back her curly red hair back.

“You know, you could do all of that from the comfort of your home,” she said, pointing at the mountain of notes that Meg had been sifting through. “You don’t need to come in every single day.”

“Maybe,” Meg said, with a shrug. “But have you considered that staying home all day is going to drive me up the wall?”

Rowena laughed. They’d been friends for years and she knew exactly how restless Meg got if she didn’t have anything to do. She needed a case, a mission, something to focus all of her energy on or else she ended up doing crazy stuff. Like writing new possible variables for her experiment and changing them all overnight because she thought the idea she had at three in the morning was simply brilliant.

“Well, you won’t be able to focus on anything if you don’t at least put some food in yourself,” Rowena told her. “So you might as well go do that now.”

Meg sighed. She would have much preferred to keep working, but Rowena had a point.

“I hate the food from the cafeteria,” she complained still.

“Then go eat somewhere else.” Rowena rolled her eyes. She was definitely not taking any crap from Meg that day. “Come on, I’ll hold the fort here for an hour.”

Meg considered arguing with her and pushing through without eating anyway. Her back was hurting again, though, and she couldn’t take her meds on an empty stomach. If only for that, she stood up and took off her lab coat.

“I’ll be back before two.”

“I’m sure you will,” Rowena said as she started reading her own reports on the control group.

They both knew that meant Meg fully intended to be back before one thirty. She took the elevator and headed for the exit. There was a small deli just two blocks away and she could walk that distance easily. She was still a little tired, but it was a very nice day and walking was good for her after all. Besides, they had some great tuna sandwiches that she could…

She stopped on her tracks as soon as she realized who was waiting for her on the parking lot.

“Come on!” she exclaimed, frustrated. “Don’t tell me you’re in on this too!”

Tom, her older brother, was leaning calmly against his car, looking at her behind his aviator glasses. As always, he was wearing a leather jacket, there was stubble on his cheek and his hair was tousled to offer the image of the perfect bad boy. Meg wondered how much longer he’d planned on remaining there before he walked inside the hospital to look for her because he got tired of waiting.

“Sorry, Meg,” he said, with a little shrug. “Dad says it’s urgent.”

“So, he says jump and you ask how high? Since when?”

“Just get in the car,” Tom sighed, opening the door for her. “I’m sure he wouldn’t be this insistent if it wasn’t important.”

Meg was tempted to keep walking and make Tom follow her, but then, she couldn’t walk that fast and she knew it would be no good. She was stubborn, but that was a characteristic she’d inherited from her father, so it was better if she simply gave in before it escalated to people dropping by at her apartment.

“Fine,” she groaned. She got inside the car and adjusted the seat belt while Tom walk around. Once he’d sat behind the wheel, she added: “But if this is for something stupid, like a surprise party for mom’s birthday that is actually a fundraising…”

“Come on, that was one time and dad learned from his mistake,” Tom said. He made a pause. “I hope.”

 


 

It turned Castiel shouldn’t have worried about being late. He arrived five minutes before the interview was to take place, but they still made him wait at the reception. He sat down and leafed through the newspaper, distractedly at first, then stopping to read more and more articles as the minutes ticked by. He was in the middle of reading his horoscope when a short, brunette woman in a black pantsuit came out of the office with a clipboard and called his name.

“Captain Milton?”

“Please, just Mr. Milton is fine,” Castiel said.

“Right.” The brunette woman smiled at him and extended a hand. “I’m Cecily. We spoke on the phone.”

Castiel could have deduced that from her insistence on using his rank despite him asking her not to. He shook her hand and smiled at her anyway.

“The Senator will see you now. Oh, excuse me,” she added when they took one step towards the door. “You need to be searched before you can go in.”

Two men in black suits and shades stared down at him. Castiel extended his hands and let them thoroughly pat him down. Senator Masters must have been very paranoid if he had his bodyguards inspect his other potential bodyguard.

Once they were sure he wasn’t a threat, they finally moved aside and let him advance into an office that was easily larger than Anna’s entire apartment. It had a very expensive red carpet on the floor and large windows that overlooked the city. Or maybe they would have, if the shades hadn’t been drawn.

Senator Masters himself was standing behind a mahogany desk, reading something in front of him. Castiel recognized his grey hair and pointed nose from the times he’d seen him give interviews on TV. He looked much taller in person, or perhaps he just looked taller than the stout man next to him.

“It’s just early polls, Az,” the man said, with a slight Scottish accent. “The election is still a year away. There’s plenty of time to reverse this…”

Senator Masters didn’t seem all that convinced by that argument. However, when he heard Castiel approach the desk, his frown of concern turned into a welcoming smile as his strange amber eyes lit up.

“Ah, you must be Captain Milton,” he said.

Castiel gave up.

“Senator Masters,” he replied, respectfully. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The senator walked around his desk and extended a hand to Castiel. His shake was firm and confident.

“The pleasure’s all mine. And may I just say, thank you for your service, sir.”

Castiel hoped his smile hadn’t become tense. He hated that remark and he was glad Senator Masters moved on from it quickly.

“This is my campaign manager, Fergus Crowley,” he added, gesturing towards the shorter man, who also shook Castiel’s hand, but clearly his heart wasn’t in it. He barely looked at him before he turned to the senator again.

“Well, Az, call me up when this is over so we can go over the numbers again,” he said.

“Of course. We’re still golfing this Sunday?”

Crowley assured him they were and promptly left the office.

“Have a seat, please,” Senator Masters said, pointing at the armchair in front of his desk.

So finally, the moment of truth had come.

Castiel sat down in front of Senator Masters with his back straight and his chin up, trying to look professional and slightly intimidating. That was what was expected of a bodyguard, right? He'd only briefly perused the instruction videos and manuals that Balthazar had sent him before recommending him to the senator, figuring he could pay more attention to them if and when he got the job.

He was deeply regretting that decision now. He felt like a student showing up for an exam he hadn't prepared for at all.

If Senator Masters noticed how nervous Castiel was, he showed no signs of it.

"As my secretary must have informed you, I am interested in hiring your services to protect my daughter," he started. "She is a very private person who is dedicated to her job, so in the past I have had no reason to believe that she was in danger because of mine."

"I take it this has changed," Castiel said.

Instead of answering, Senator Masters picked up a box from underneath his desk and settled it on top.

"I am used to receiving my fair share of... uncomfortable messages from disgruntled voters or unhinged people who disapprove of the way I try to serve my country," he explained, as he opened the box and started extracting several manila envelopes from it. "Most of them, we can discard easily. They constitute no real threat or they're far too vague to be considered as such. The ones we believe are credible threats, we hand to the authorities to deal with." He pushed the manila envelopes towards Castiel. "We've done the same in this case, but they are different."

Castiel opened the envelope, his curiosity piqued as to why Senator Masters was taking so long to get to the point. It became obvious as soon as he spread the contents over the desk so he could analyze them better.

They were pictures, mostly, taken from a distance of the same three people: a willowy blonde woman as she came out from a shopping mall carrying several bags or ran in the park with other women the same age, a brunette man a little younger than Castiel coming out of a bar with a woman hanging from each of his arms or having lunch in a restaurant and, finally, a brunette woman in a white coat talking to other doctors at the entrance of a hospital.

Castiel wished now that he had listened to Anna's "juicy gossip" about the Senator's daughter, but he still could deduce enough of what was going on.

"They're threatening your family."

Senator Masters nodded. There was nothing in his expression that gave away the charismatic man that was always trying to seduce voters or convince opponents to see things his way. On the contrary, his jaw was tense and there was a deep frown between his eyebrows. He was the embodiment of the worried father.

"These are copies from the pictures that were sent to me. I asked the investigators if I could keep some in order to make my wife and children see the kind of danger they are in." He made a pause and then sighed deeply. "You must understand, Captain Milton. I knew being threatened came with the territory when I first ran for my seat. I am used to it and I accept it. But if there is one thing that I care about more than I do my country, that is my family."

Castiel had the strange feeling that was a well-rehearsed line.

"You think they're threatening them to prevent you from running?"

"That is the theory the FBI is handling right now," Senator Masters said. "However, nothing else is known at this point. They were the ones who suggested I should get extra security for myself and those I care about. My son is an actor and has assured me that he can hire his own security service. As for my daughter..."

Before he could continue, there was a knock at the door. The two bodyguards next to it stood up. Castiel took note of how they placed themselves between the door and Senator Masters, even when the person that came in was just Cecily.

"Senator, your children are here," she announced.

"Excellent. Let them in, please."

The door opened a little wider and two people walked in: the brunette man and the doctor. The bodyguards stood on their way almost automatically.

The doctor raised her head at them, her eyebrow crooked in an expression of pure contempt.

"Really?" she asked.

Castiel couldn't have told why, but her voice surprised him. It was almost a raspy whisper, and for some reason, it made her sound extra irritated when she turned to her father:

"Can you call your dogs off, father dear?"

"Boys, I think we can forgo the weapons search on my own children," Senator Masters said. The bodyguards obediently stepped to the side.

Doctor Masters stalked inside the office, her eyes settled on her father and ignoring Castiel's presence altogether. He took that moment to assess her. She was about a head shorter than him, dressed in black trousers and a lavender blouse, with her wavy brown hair tied up in a sensible bun behind her head. Her face was round and pale, and she didn't seem to be wearing any make-up that he could notice, but Anna had told him he was very bad at telling those things, so he could be wrong.

What he did notice, though, was the way she walked: planting one foot firmly in front of her before taking the next step, almost as if she was afraid the floor would drop from under her if she didn't walk carefully enough. Despite this, she still sounded confident and almost forceful when she planted herself in front of her father's desk and demanded to know:

"Well, what is this all about?"

"Meg, I would like you to meet Captain Castiel Milton," Senator Masters said, pointing towards him. "He is going to be your bodyguard from now on."

There were two reasons this stunned Castiel into complete silence. The first one was that Senator Masters had not yet informed him that he had been formally hired for the position. He simply had decided he was and expected Castiel to go along with it.

The second reason was that Doctor Meg Masters turned towards him, stared at him for two seconds... and then promptly burst into laughter.

 


 

Her father had said and done ridiculous things before, but this one definitely took the cake.

"What the hell do I need a bodyguard for?" she asked, rolling her eyes after Captain Castiel Milton (what kind of douche name was that? It sounded fake) had been escorted out of the office so they could talk alone. "It's not like I have an army of psychotic fans running after me to get my autograph."

"Hey, don't disparage them," Tom said. "Those psychotic fans pay my bills."

"Children. Could you pay attention?" Azazel asked, apparently frustrated that they weren't taking him seriously.

It was just that it was very hard to do that to begin with. So, someone had snatched pictures of her while she was walking down the street or talking to her colleagues, big fucking deal. It wasn't the first time her privacy had been disrespected because of who her father was.

"You remember that time Tom and I went to that sorority party and had a little too much to drink?"

"Oh, yeah." A beam appeared on Tom's face. "Good times."

"The following day there was a video of us stumbling drunk all over the Internet. 'Senator's children out of control'," Meg reminded him, rolling her eyes. "How is this any different?"

Azazel rubbed his temples as if having her marched into his office to announce she was having an ex-marine assigned to her as a glorified babysitter was somehow too much of an ordeal for him.

"It's different because this isn't about you, Meg."

"It's never about us," Meg replied. "It's always about you and your mission and your plans..."

She hoped her tone hadn't sounded as bitter out loud as it did in her head.

Her father gave her a stern look, the same he used to give her when she failed a class or disappointed him in any other way.

"Meg, when I chose this path..."

"Oh, spare me," she interrupted him. "I'm not dealing with some random guy following me around all day just because you're a little paranoid."

"I'm not a little paranoid. The investigators believe this to be a credible threat," Azazel insisted. "And he is not going to follow you around all day. He'll just accompany you from home to the hospital and vice versa to make sure that you're safe..."

"So, he's not a glorified babysitter. He's a glorified chauffer."

Her father didn't appreciate her very clever quip.

"Meg, I know you have been going through a lot these last couple of years..."

Meg crossed her arms over chest and looked up at the ceiling, wishing she'd stayed at the hospital cafeteria, as terrible as their food was. Then Tom wouldn't have ambushed her in the parking lot and brought her here to listen to these platitudes.

"... I have tried giving you space. Your mother and I have respected all of your decisions, even the ones we didn't really understand..."

"Oh, my God," Meg muttered, but if he started talking about what he called her "questionable decisions", she was going to start screaming.

“… and I am, in no way, suggesting you change anything about your way of life right now,” Azazel continued, ignoring how Meg was looking around, trying to find an open window to jump from. “The job you’re doing is important and I’m proud of you for doing it. This… this is just for my peace of mind. Until the investigation is closed, and we know who is sending these threats, please, just have someone to take care of you.”

Meg bit the inside of her cheek, annoyed. What her father didn’t seem to get was the fact she wasn’t just annoyed at having a bodyguard assigned to her. It was that he had already hired the bodyguard and simply expected her to go along with it without asking too many questions. It was like when he first ran for the state all over again: he never considered his wife’s wishes, never considered that uprooting their children in the middle of the school year could be hard, never considered that they were going to be pestered and scrutinized for everything they did while he was in the public eye…

If he had called her (actually called her, not have his secretary try to set an appointment for her) and explained the threats to her and whatnot, perhaps she wouldn’t have been so annoyed. But her father was a petty tyrant who thought he knew better for everyone around him, so what did she expect?

“Can I at least talk with the guy? Decide if I like having him around or not for who knows how long?”

Azazel narrowed his amber eyes at her, as if the fact he liked him was already guarantee enough that Meg would too, but he pressed a button on the intercom and told Cecily to send “Captain Milton” in again.

Meg had barely glanced at the guy before, only taken in his dark hair and his sharp dark suit and tie. She wondered if he had to dress like a dork all the time. She didn’t want to have him standing very straight with sunglasses inside like her father’s bodyguard seemed to wear even though it made them look like absolute douches. She stood up, holding unto the back of the armchair so she wouldn’t lose her balance and fall on her face (because, honestly, how much more humiliating could this entire ordeal get?), and faced the guy.

“Captain Milton,” she greeted him.

He had very bright blue eyes and a strong jaw that he clenched a little when she called him that.

“Ma’am,” he said, bowing a little as if she was some kind of royalty.

“Doctor,” Meg corrected him automatically. God, if he had the same hang-ups as Cecily about calling her by her damn proper title, they were going to have a problem. She didn’t bust her damn ass for ten years in Med school and several post-doctorates for people not to call her a doctor.

“Doctor Masters,” he accepted, without too much fuss, which was actually a point in his favor. “I understand we’ll be working close together.”

“Actually, I’ll be working, and you’ll be standing around pestering me, seems to be the case.”

She heard Azazel groaning behind her, but she didn’t turn to look at him. She was more interested in gaging Milton’s reaction to her.

And his reaction was… none at all. He simply raised his eyebrows a little bit, but when talked, his voice was monotone, almost bored. He had a deep voice that Meg didn’t exactly hate listening to.

“Of course, I will absolutely try not to pester you,” he said. “Your hospital counts with its own security, does it not? I won’t need to be around while you work there.”

“And what if I want to go out for lunch with my research partner outside of the hospital?” Meg asked. “Because I do that sometimes, you know. I have a life.”

That wasn’t exactly true. It was more like it had been today: with Rowena reminded her she needed to eat to live and Meg begrudgingly going to get something.

“You could call me, and I would drive you to wherever you need to go,” Captain Milton replied. “I have no problem doing this.”

“Do you have a car?”

“I will provide a car,” Azazel intervened.

Meg wasn’t done with her interrogation yet.

“I’m an insomniac. Sometimes I leave my apartment at three in the morning to do my shopping. Would you show up at three in the morning if I call you?”

Captain Milton was taken aback by this, but only briefly.

“I’m sure we can work out some sort of system so you wouldn’t need to be leaving your place at such hours.”

“What, do I text you my grocery list and you go fetch it for me?”

He shrugged and Meg tried and failed to bite back a smile. How desperate was this guy for a job that he was willing to be her errand boy?

“So, you would get everything I ask you to? My coffee, my preferred milk? My tampons?”

She heard Azazel sighing exasperatedly, but Captain Milton’s expression remained blank.

“I have two sisters and an ex-wife,” he informed her. “It wouldn’t be the first time I was tasked with buying tampons.”

Dammit, he was making it really hard to dislike him. Meg was still willing to try, on principle.

“So you’re a vet, huh? Where did you serve?”

“Iraq. Three tours.”

“Should I thank you for your service or do you hate it when people who don’t actually care for the vets say hypocritical shit like that?”

“Marjorie!” Azazel shouted, indignantly.

Meg ignored him, though. She was way more interested in the way Captain Milton covered his mouth and let out a cough that was definitely a suffocated chuckle.

Damn, so maybe he wasn’t such a stick in the mud as he appeared at first glance. He also was very easy on the eyes, not that she cared for that sort of thing. It was just that if he was going to be riding her ass 24/7 on her father’s orders, he might as well be pleasant to look at.

“Alright, fine,” she concluded, turning towards Azazel. “But only until the investigation is complete and they find that these are completely empty threats to begin with.”

“That’s all I ask from you, thank you,” Azazel said. He stood up with a grin upon his face. Meg hated that she’d let him win this round, but she was not ready to throw up a stink over this just yet. “You will start immediately, Captain Milton. Cecily will provide you with a car and you can check Meg’s schedule with her later, so you’ll know when and where she needs you to pick her up and drop her off…”

“Seriously, dad?” Meg cringed.

“Have you eaten? Let me treat you both to lunch.”

Meg had to stop and consider the possibility that one of the reasons she was so cranky was because she was starving.

Azazel sent them out outside while he picked up some things and Cecily handed Captain Milton a bunch of papers that he needed to fill out to begin his job, effective immediately. Meg felt her back was aching a little and she had to stop and wonder if that psychosomatic or not while she leaned against Cecily’s desk and watch her new bodyguard hunched over the forms.

“Do I have to call you Captain Milton?” she asked him.

“Just Castiel is fine. My friends call me Cas,” he said. He lifted up his eyes at her. “Do I have to call you Doctor Masters?”

“I would prefer if you did, yes.”

She thought he was going to protest or make a sarcastic comment about it, but he merely nodded and continued filling his forms with a curt “Very well”.

“Can I ask you something?” Meg continued pestering him, perhaps because she was bored while Azazel finished doing whatever it was that he was doing. “Why the hell would you want to be a bodyguard?”

“It’s a paycheck.” Immediately after saying this, Castiel grimaced to himself and looked up. “But of course, I’ll do my best to keep you safe, Doctor Masters.”

“Yeah, safe.” Meg rolled her eyes. “Are you going to check under my bed and inside my closet to make sure the monsters won’t get me at night?”

“Or your father’s political enemies.”

There was really nothing Meg could answer to that. The man’s brand of sense of humor was to either take everything literally or at least to pretend he did.

Azazel walked out of his office, followed by his very own men in black.

“Meg, are you ready?” he asked.

Meg moved away from the desk… a little too fast and without paying enough attention to where she put her feet.

She experienced a second of absolute panic, the knowledge that she was going to fall on her face in front of her father and he would give her the look and… shit, shit, shit…

A strong, large hand closed around her elbow, stabilizing her. Meg managed to get her feet to stand firmly on the ground again and the pit in her stomach disappeared as soon as it had appeared.

She looked to her left. Castiel’s face remained as expressionless as before, as if he had thought nothing about the fact Meg had tripped on nothing.

“Umh… thank you,” she mumbled.

“You’re welcome.”

He let go of her, but the sensation of his grip around her arm remained, sending an uncomfortable electric current up her arm which she tried her best to ignore, just as she ignored the impulse of looking over her shoulder as she walked away with her father and her brother.

Now she was wishing she’d put on a bit more of fight before accepting him. Because goddammit, how was she supposed to deal with all of that following her around?