Dean walks past the bar and back to his office. They’re down a dancer, so they’re doing tryouts. He used to love tryout days, mostly naked women giving their all to try and get hired. Now though, it’s routine, and it’s just a job.
He finds Jo working through the books when he gets back there. “Everything checking out?”
She nods, standing and stretching. “Yeah, the numbers still look good. A few of the new girls want in on the private dances, but we’re tight on rooms as it is.”
Shit. Private dances are the best money makers. “Make sure Ash knows to keep a tight eye on the time. Dances only, no sex or even bjs.” He’s no pimp.
Jo nods again. “Will do. You going out tonight?”
Along with several strip clubs, a few tenant buildings, and a couple gyms with underground clubs, Dean works as a loan shark. He does his own kneecapping, not interested in sharing the profits. “Yeah, got a few men failing to make their payments.”
“Have fun. Clean up before you’re back. We don’t need another raid from the cops because people report you covered in blood.” Jo waves him off and turns back to the computer, one of the few people Dean lets order him around.
She’s worth her weight in gold. Jo has a head for numbers that keeps his clean and not so clean money straight. She also helps deal with the dancers when they get worked up, and she packs a serious punch if a man won’t stand down. Earns her paycheck every day.
Dean watches the tryouts only half paying attention, picking two women based more on them not looking like any of the other women than their skills. Some times the mediocre ones are the best, not so full of themselves and willing to work harder for extra tips.
Done, he heads out to track down Allen Jacobson who owes fifteen thousand plus interest and is four weeks behind. No more nice conversations, he’s bringing his favorite bat along with him.
He walks up to the front door and listens for signs of people. It’s faint, but Dean can hear the tv and the microwave. So he knocks, making sure to cover the peephole and staying clear of the windows. He doesn’t feel like chasing the fucker down.
“Who is it?” Allen grumps while opening the door. He sees Dean, tries to slam the door shut, but Dean gets his foot in the way. When Allen falls back, Dean kicks the door the rest of the way open and strides inside.
“I’ll get you the money, I swear!” Allen cowers on the floor, hands above his head. “I just need another week.”
“That’s what you said two weeks ago,” Dean reminds him, “and four weeks ago. How many weeks do you actually need?”
“I’ll get it this time, I swear! My mom’s in the hospital, and she’s not going to make it. I’ve got money coming, just have to wait.” Allen whimpers and curls up even tighter even though Dean hasn’t twitched.
“You’ll pay me when your mom croaks?” How damn pathetic can you get? “Maybe I should go pay her a visit, tell her how weak her son is, make her die of shame.” Dean would never, ever lay a finger on a woman, but with his reputation, people assume the worst.
Allen starts crying, and Dean’s glad he hasn’t pissed himself. “Please don’t hurt her. I’ll get you your money, I promise.”
“Two weeks,” Dean tells him, “or next time I might put you in the hospital with your mother. Not that you’re getting off easy this time.”
Swinging the bat, Dean makes his way up and down his body with precise movements. Right bicep, left kidney, bicep again, down to his gut, several whacks to his ass, blows to both thighs. He works him over, sticking to fatty, muscular parts to avoid serious injury. Allen needs to work for his paycheck if Dean’s going to get his money.
Job done, Dean shoulders his bat and heads out leaving Allen sobbing and whimpering on the floor. Maybe this will curb his gambling habit. Not ready to head home but not interested in a night out, Dean heads to his garage.
Inside, Dean runs a hand along his most recent project. A 1967 Chevy Impala that has definitely seen better days but is destined for more than the scrapyard. He strips out of his suit and pulls on jeans and an undershirt that have seen much better days.
Metallica blaring in the background, Dean starts working. The scent of oil and grease fills his nose, and he feels the stresses of the day fade away. Not even banging his knuckles while loosening a stubborn bolt gets him mad.
During a break, Dean hears a scuffing sound, something he shouldn’t hear when alone. He puts the wrench aside and grabs his Colt while turning around to find who decided to sneak up on him. When he sees who it is, Dean stops to stare.
Castiel Novak, second son of the town mayor. Has a stick up his ass and thinks he’s too good for anyone who doesn’t go to church or worship at his father’s feet. Turns his nose up every time they meet at social events and is just too much fun to poke at.
But tonight… Tonight something’s wrong.
“I need you to help me,” Castiel says before collapsing into a heap. Dean ditches the gun and rushes over to help him sit up.
“Why the fuck are you coming to me for help? You hate me, my businesses, everything about me.” Dean has no illusions about himself or his place in town.
“Because you’re the only one who can handle this. You might not be an angel, but you’re honest about who you are, what you do.” Castiel scoffs before wincing and grabbing his chest. What the hell happened? “You’re not the worst person in town, not at all.”
“So what, you want me to deal with whoever you think is worse? Look, I’m not-” Dean cuts himself off when he realizes Castiel isn’t looking at him. Paying more attention, Dean realizes he isn’t looking at anything. “What the fuck?”
Laying Castiel back, Dean pulls up his shirt to reveal mottled skin covering his chest. That pain earlier must be a cracked or broken rib. He checks his hands, doesn’t see anything there, nothing on his arms either.
His back is as bruised as his chest, so he’ll be pissing blood for a few days. Hopefully that’s the worst of it. Dean rolls him onto his back again and looks at his face. He doesn’t see anything, doesn’t feel any bumps to explain the confusion.
Then he sees it. Not only is Castiel not focusing on anything, his eyes are pale and cloudy, the eyelids puffy and irritated. “They blinded you?”
Castiel turns to face him, eyes in his direction even if unfocused. “If I can’t see, I can’t show anyone evidence.”
Fucking hell. “Who did this? Who the hell would lay hands on an innocent like you?” They have a few street gangs in town pushing drugs, another loan shark, and a man Dean swears is a pimp and hasn’t been able to take out. But Castiel wouldn’t associate with any of those people.
“My family.” Dean growls at the admission, scooping Castiel up to hold him against his chest in a mockery of comfort. How can he, an enemy, support him through what hast to be the worst day of his life? “They’re embezzling public funds, selling public land as private for their personal profit, and pushing the police to ignore rape cases. I heard them talking a week ago and started gathering evidence. They can’t get away with this.”
Damn right they can’t. Dean wants to make heads roll, but right now he needs to take care of Castiel. “What do you need? I can get you to my place, help with the pain, get you some food and a place to sleep. We can plan later.”
Castiel nods, so Dean helps him to his feet. He didn’t drive, and he doesn’t want them seen on the streets, so Dean leads Castiel through the back alleys. Even with Castiel over his shoulder, people know to leave Dean alone, and they make it to his place without issues.
After sitting on the couch, Castiel stares into space, silent. Dean gathers a washcloth, a bucket of warm water, bandages, and clean clothes. He looks at the shell of a man sitting on his sofa and swears revenge to any and all gods listening in.
They will pay for this.
Narrating everything he does, Dean strips Castiel to his boxer briefs, washes him down, wraps his ribs, and redresses him. Castiel doesn’t say a word but moves when necessary to help. After cleaning up the supplies, Dean comes back to the sofa.
“What do you want now? Food, sleep, or something else?”
Castiel doesn’t answer, and Dean doesn’t want to push. He heads to the kitchen and heats up old spaghetti before choking it down. Disgust steals his hunger, but he needs fuel. A soft sound draws his attention, and Dean turns to see Castiel curled up on the sofa, hugging a pillow, tears on his cheeks.
Dean finds a blanket and lays it over Castiel before heading to his bedroom. Sleep doesn’t come fast, and it isn’t an easy one. Still, he stays in bed, giving Castiel privacy and trying to get at least some rest.
He must fall asleep because the next thing he knows is morning light and bloodcurdling screams. Dean rushes out of his room to kneel in front of Castiel, ignoring the hits and smacks to his head and chest. “Castiel!”
Saying his name doesn’t get through to him, but Dean doesn’t give up. “You’re safe. You’re nowhere near your family, and they don’t know where you are. It's Dean, and I’m going to make sure they don’t get away with it and that they never hurt you again.”
Repeating it over and over, Dean watches Castiel slowly calm down, hands falling into his lap. He doesn’t know if it was the words or just his voice that helped, but he means every word of it.
“I hit you,” Castiel says, reaching out until he touches Dean’s chest then sliding his hand up to his shoulder, along his neck, then cupping his face. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Dean tells him. He stays still as Castiel starts to trace his face, fingers light but leaving an impression.
“I can feel you frowning.”
Dean scoffs. “Because you have to feel it instead of seeing it. I still can’t believe someone would do this to you.”
Castiel smiles without humor. “I’ve learned that following the law doesn’t always mean you’re a good person. Conversely, that means disregarding the law doesn’t automatically make you a bad person.”
His stomach growls before Dean can respond, reducing some of the tension. “I’m not one for breakfast,” Dean admits, “but I can toast and butter a mean bagel.”
“That sounds great.” Castiel stands up, only wobbling slightly but catching himself. “Can you lead me to the bathroom?”
Dean nods before catching himself. “Sure. If you’ll put out your left hand?” When Castiel does, Dean takes it and tucks it in his elbow, leading Castiel through the first floor. In the bathroom, he stands behind him, holding his hand and making sure their bodies don’t touch, not wanting to crowd him.
“Counter is here,” he puts Castiel’s hand down, “and if you follow it to the end, you’ll find the toilet on your left. Paper’s to your right if you’re sitting down. No rug on the floor to trip over. You need anything, shout.”
Going to the bathroom is something most people can do half asleep or drunk off their ass, so Dean figures Castiel can manage without sight if he knows where to expect things. Hopefully doing something will help him feel a little better about what is an admittedly shitty situation.
It’s the first day of the rest of his life.
Dean works on getting the butter out to soften and the bagels into the toaster. He’s working on coffee when Castiel calls him from the bathroom. A smiling Castiel greets him which Dean didn’t expect.
“Thanks for telling me where things are, but you forgot about the soap. I might have knocked something over.” Dean puts his hands on his hips, letting him know where he is, and looks over his shoulder to see his toothbrush cup on it’s side.
“No big deal, babe.” The pet name slips out before Dean realizes. Castiel definitely has appeal, but now is not the time. “So, breakfast?” Dean checks his face for cues before remembering that won’t necessarily work.
As they eat, Castiel details the sins of his family. Slowly carving protected land up into parcels to be sold for profit for the mayor and his sons, each of them building their homes on some of the largest parcels.
Embezzling money through taxes. Increasing the rates on properties and vehicles, facilitated by sons in the tax assessor’s office who can raise rates without anyone knowing. With Mayor Chuck Novak and his angelic sons involved, no one would even think to dig deeper.
Using the prostitutes in the slums, and not always consensually. Rough sex that likely crossed into rape. Not always paying the women and giving pimps pennies on the dollar. Pushing the police to ignore anything reported against the mayor, his family, or his men.
Dean barely manages to choke down his breakfast. Who the fuck would expect the mayor’s family to be so dirty? “I hear you, and I believe you, but can you prove any of this?”
Castiel smiles while pushing his plate away, done eating. “I work with computers. Or, I did. I run the charities we work with because no political office appealed. I stumbled across everything when tracing an odd payment in our accounts.
“I traced it back to the land payments and found out they’re using the charities to wash the money. As soon as I realized things were wrong, I made records of everything. I have the proof, I just have to get it.” Castiel pauses, head tilting to the side. “You just have to get it.”
“I have one requirement before we start.” Castiel frowns but gestures for him to continue. “You tell me exactly who did this to you.”
Castiel hesitates, and Dean hopes he will speak up. It’s family, so it’s hard, but if you do this to family, you don’t count as family anymore. “Zach and Naomi. My eyes were her idea.”
Dean doesn’t hurt women, but he’ll make an exception here. If a woman puts herself in his world, crosses the line from legal to illegal activity, then they’re fair game. “Thank you. So, where do you want to start?”
“We need evidence first,” Castiel says, getting to his feet.
“Wait, slow down.” Dean gets up and stands next to him, just cupping his elbow. “I meant do you want a shower, some new clothes or back to your house for some of your own. We need to take care of you first.”
There’s a moment of silence, then Castiel collapses into him. “I’d like a shower please, and I don’t want to go home first. If I can borrow some of your clothes, I think that’s best for now.”
They can do that. Dean leads him back to the bathroom and pulls of his shirt, unwrapping his ribs. He looks at the shower stall then hesitates. “Do you want me to show you where everything is, or do you want me to shower with you? I can stay dressed if you want.”
Castiel runs his hand up his arm to put a hand on his cheek. “I think it’ll be better if we’re together. Too easy to drop a bottle in the shower and slip trying to avoid. And I’m not going to make you stay clothed. I trust you.”
What the hell is this? This man has had a pampered, cushioned life and thought Dean was lower than scum. Now he’s been brutalized, tortured, and he’s professing trust in Dean. No one reacts this well, and Dean wants to make sure he’s there to catch him when he cracks.
“Then let’s shower.” Redoing his shower, he had sex in mind when he made it big enough for three maybe even four people. Dean hasn’t used his shower for that yet, but he’s so grateful for the space now.
Washing yourself is routine, is habit, but Dean takes the soap and his washcloth and cleans Castiel. When he notices Castiel’s teeth digging into his lip, Dean reaches up to release it. “Don’t hurt yourself. If it hurts, let it out.”
Castiel gives him a wobbly smile while putting a hand on his shoulder for balance. “Why are you so nice to me? I’ve always be rude and belittling when we meet at events.”
Dean cleans Castiel’s chest, careful around his bruised ribs, gathering his thoughts. “I chose my life, and I don’t blame you for judging. Besides, you don’t know me that well, and I know your dad wouldn’t say positive things about me.” Dean has no illusions about his life or his public image.
“But you?” Dean shakes his head and moves onto his arms. “You’re the son who isn’t in politics. You help people with your work even if your family has used it for money laundering. You’re the good one, and you don’t deserve what they did to you.”
Castiel doesn’t respond, and Dean looks over to see tears pouring down his cheeks. He puts the cloth aside, pulling Castiel in for a hug. He lets him cry, lets him get it all out. Dean doesn’t even flinch when Castiel slaps and hits him a few times.
Eventually he’s all cried out, and Dean handles his own shower while Castiel composes himself. They dry themselves off, and then Dean leads Castiel back into the bedroom where they dress. Dean sits on the bed, pulling Castiel down next to him.
“So, where do you have your evidence?” Dean hopes it’s not a super obvious place, but Castiel isn’t exactly a criminal mastermind.
“At my condo.”
Well, shit. “The condo that your family knows and probably can get into?”
“Yes, but no.” Castiel starts gesturing with his hands but doesn’t say anything yet. “A few years ago, we were at an art festival, and I made friends with a woodworker. He made me new bedframe. It’s beautiful work, and it includes a hidden space. I’ve never told anyone about it, so the evidence is safe.”
That assumes his family hasn’t ripped his shit to shreds while searching the space. Dean doesn’t say anything, not wanting to make him worry if it’s for nothing. “We have to be careful going by. Where do you live?”
Castiel gives him an address in the middle of downtown, the exact opposite of what he wanted to hear. Too many cameras, too easy to have someone watching the space without being seen. But they can do it.
They take his SUV, parking in the underground lot just close enough to the entrance to have cell service. Dean calls another resident in the condo building, praying she’s home. He needs another player here.
“Pamela’s sex den. What can I do you for?”
Dean smiles at her tone. “Hey, Pam.”
“Dean!” He can see the smirk on her face. “What can I do for my favorite cock?”
Yeah, that was a fun weekend. “I need a favor, one that needs clothes on.
“Tell me.” Pamela drops the teasing in a heartbeat, the reason he called her.
“I need you to meet me in the garage with your car keys. Wait five minutes, then you’ll head out in my ride. I’ll do what I need to do inside, and then I’ll take your car when I leave. We can trade back in a few days.” If Castiel could see, he’d send him up alone and drive around while waiting for him, but not an option.
“What do I need to bring?” He hears her moving around, already grabbing her standard supplies.
“Heavy on the protection, but you might be up against some wanna-bes. White collar guys who think they know how to use a gun.” Dean doesn’t know if the Novaks will hire anyone or keep it in house, and he’s not sure which is worse. Professionals are easier to anticipate but are super accurate, and newbies tend to suck but can't be anticipated.
“I can handle that. Down soon.”
Dean hangs up and notices the worried look on Castiel’s face. “Pamela’s a hacker. She’s really good at finding and seeing things other people don’t. We’ve worked together before, and she’ll stay quiet, I promise.”
Castiel doesn’t respond then takes a deep breath. “This is your world, not mine, and I trust you. Will she be okay?”
“I doubt they’re watching the place,” Dean lies with his fingers crossed for hope, “but I just want to be thorough. She’ll be fine. Pamela does street racing when she gets bored, so she can handle herself.”
A knock on the window makes Castiel jump, and Dean gets out to trade keys with Pamela before helping Castiel out. She raises her eyebrows, questions all over her face, but when Dean points at Castiel’s eyes, she shifts to glaring.
“Don’t crash my baby, Dean, or I’ll destroy yours.” She waves a finger at him. “I know where you work on that hunk of junk.”
“Baby isn’t a hunk of junk,” Dean protests with a grin. “But I’ll take care of yours. Thanks.”
Pamela nods and climbs into the SUV, pulling out as Dean leads Castiel to the elevator. “What floor?”
“Penthouse,” Castiel admits while wrinkling his nose. “It’s pretentious, but Father insisted, and since he paid, I didn’t argue too much.”
Dean would love to live in a penthouse. Fewer points of access, many have private elevators or need special keys. And it just sounds cool to say. “To each their own.”
When the elevator stops, the doors don’t open. “You have to enter the code on the keypad,” Castiel announces, pointing to his left. “6, 2, 9, 5.”
Typing in the code, Dean puts Castiel’s hand on his arm and leads him through the doors. There’s a small foyer space, and then there’s another door. “This one have a key or another code?”
“Another code. It’s long, and I know it by touch.” Castiel wiggles his fingers with a smile, so Dean leads him to the door and the small pad he now sees to the left. Castiel types away, and Dean turns the handle and leads him into his space.
Castiel follows him but stops a few steps inside. “How does it look?”
“You mean has anyone trashed the place? No, it looks fine. Certainly neater than my place.” Dean puts an arm around his shoulders for a hug. “So, lead me to your bedroom?” Dean wiggles his eyebrows for effect even though it’s only him who can appreciate it.
The purest giggle leaves Castiel’s mouth as he points to his right. “Through here.” Castiel does manage to lead the way, muscle memory helping him along.
Inside the bedroom, Dean stops to stare for a moment. “Damn. You weren’t kidding about meeting a woodworker. This thing’s a fucking piece of art.”
“It’s beautiful,” Castiel agrees, “and I made sure to get a mattress as comfortable as it is beautiful. Best bed I’ve ever had.”
Dean can picture Castiel spread out on silk sheets, looking up at a lover. And he realizes that he might want to be that lover. He shakes his head because now is not the time for that. “Can you show me the best part about it?”
Castiel walks around the bed, hand trailing along the duvet. “Over on this side, up near the head. The idea was additional coverage and hiding by a nightstand. Can you move this?”
Stepping up, Dean moves the lamp off the table and moves the table out of the way. “Now what?”
With a sigh, Castiel sits cross legged on the carpet. He reaches out to feel around on the side of the wood frame. Dean watches him move around until a little door pops open. “I put everything on a hard drive.”
Dean reaches down and slips it from his hand. A small thing, about the size of two decks of cards, and it’ll destroy several lives and shake up their entire town. “And is this set up so anyone can read the documents on it?”
“If you have the password,” Castiel says while closing up his bed, “then you can access the documents. You’ll probably have to be an accountant or familiar with the charities and the city revenue to actually understand what you’re seeing.”
“Good. You trust anyone with this?” Dean slips it into the hidden pocket inside his pants, not willing to risk losing it, before putting the nightstand and lamp back.
“You. But that question tells me you won’t really know what you’re looking at.”
“Nope. Not a clue. Hell, I don’t even do my own books. Jo’s brilliant with the books, and I trust her not to rip me off.”
Castiel hesitates, clearly not sure, while holding up his hands. Dean takes them both, pulling him to his feet. “Do you have anyone you trust with this?”
Well…. “Maybe. We can run the idea by him, but I can’t guarantee he’ll agree to it. My brother isn’t fond of my lines of business, and I don’t know if we can convince him that this isn’t work related.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Castiel says, “and I will tell him everything. He will believe me.”
Looking at his determination, Dean’s pretty sure anyone would believe him when talking to him. “Then we’ll call Sam. But first, we need to get out of here. Is there anything you want to bring with you?”
Castiel directs him to a bag, and Dean packs clothes, toiletries, and irreplaceable items. He ends up with three bags, and he gives two to Castiel. He’s still not expecting anything to happen, but he wants a hand free for his gun.
Just in case.
Fitting three large suitcases into Pamela’s Corvette takes some work, but they manage. Getting back to Dean’s place is simple, no tail, and then it’s time to call Sam. Dean calls and wonders if he’s even going to answer the phone.
He sighs, closing his eyes in relief. He honestly didn’t think he’d answer. “I need your help with something.”
“I’m not working with you, Dean, you know that.” He can hear the exhaustion in his brother’s voice.
“This isn’t for me. It’s not for my work. I need your ability to read numbers and your legal knowledge,” Dean says, “and I need it now. I’ll explain the rest when you’re here.”
Silence. Dean waits, gets a little antsy until Castiel puts a hand on his hip, grounding him. “I’ll give you half an hour. As soon as I hear something illegal, I’m out.”
Well, this whole thing is about illegal activity, but Dean understands what Sam means. “Thanks. We’ll be here.” Dean hangs up before Sam can say anything else.
“What does your brother do?” Castiel moves his hand to take Dean’s, leading him to the sofa, already comfortable in Dean’s space.
“Sam’s a forensic accountant for the state. He’ll definitely understand what you found.” Dean puts his head back, closing his eyes. “He wanted out of the family business, nothing even remotely questionable. So he got out.”
“And you didn’t.” Castiel turns his head, and Dean swears he’s looking at him. “Do you want to get out?”
Does he? Dean doesn’t think about that, just goes about his life. “I don’t hate it. I like having enough money to spend on hobbies, to put some away for the future. I like having enough time for my hobbies. And I’m not sure what else I would do.”
Castiel turns his whole body to face Dean. “I’m sure you’re smarter than you think. You’ve always been good at verbally sparing with me. Put in a different situation, I’m sure you’d do just as well.”
Dean doesn’t respond, appreciating the words but not really believing them. He just wants to wait for Sam to show up. Castiel doesn’t push him, just moves closer so they’re sitting hip to hip as they wait.
A quick knock on the door announces Sam, and Dean gets up to let him in. Sam doesn’t say anything, just walks inside at least until he sees Castiel. “What the hell are you doing with a Novak in your house?”
“It’s a story, and it’s his to tell.” Dean points Sam at the armchair while he sits back down on the sofa. He hears Sam’s gasp when Sam realizes Castiel’s injury. “Castiel, this is Sam, my brother. Anything you say here, it’ll stay here.”
“Of course,” Sam agrees.
Castiel grabs Dean’s hand and starts telling Sam everything. Dean watches Sam’s face the whole time, making sure he’s as invested and horrified as Dean. Based on what he sees, Dean figures Sam’s on their side for this.
“Jesus.” Sam meets Dean’s eyes and nods that he’s in. “You trust me to look through the evidence now?”
“Yes, please.” Castiel gestures to Dean who pulls out the hard drive. “Do you have your own laptop?”
“Yeah, I brought mine,” Sam announces. They head for the kitchen table where Sam plugs in, enters the password Castiel gives him, and then they wait. And wait a little more. And some more. Apparently there’s a lot of evidence.
Eventually Sam sits back and closes his laptop. “You’ve got plenty here, more than enough to put your father and several of your brothers and cousins away for years or decades. Do you know how you’re going to share the info?”
Castiel shakes his head. “I don’t know where to send it. Whoever gets it has to be well beyond my family’s influence.”
“State police,” Sam and Dean say together.
“Their authority is above the city, so I’d go there,” Dean continues. “Hell, if I was going to be in trouble, I’d be worried about them the most, so probably a good sign they’re good.”
Sam frowns at him but doesn’t say anything. “Do you have any evidence about what happened to you?”
“No,” Castiel admits, taking Dean’s hand again, “but I have that handled.”
Sam raises an eyebrow, looking between the two of them, but again doesn’t say anything. “Good. Are you going to the gala tomorrow?”
“Gala?” Dean turns to look at Castiel. “What gala?”
“To raise funds for a women’s shelter opening next month.” Castiel’s mouth twists at the irony. “I’m supposed to give a speech.”
Dean starts to smile, an idea forming. “Sam, how long would it take for the police to realize what they have? For them to start arresting people?”
“Depends on how fast they can talk a judge into looking at the evidence and signing the warrants.”
“What if they’re seen as a flight risk?” Castiel leans forward to get closer to Sam. “They have plenty of money, both from work and theft, and they have two private jets and passports.”
“That would speed things up.” Sam twists his head around to pop his neck. “I work for the state when they have suspicions, but I can call in a favor or two to be the one getting things started. What’s your plan, Dean?”
“Cas, can you organize things by phone until the even starts?”
Castiel smiles. “No one’s ever given me a nick name before. I like it.” Dean blinks, distracted by the segue. “And yes, I can handle things via phone.”
“Then you do that tomorrow,” Dean orders, “and Sam will start working with the state police. If we can get them on board, then Cas, your speech can start with the positives of helping the women, and then move into stopping crime.”
“And if we time it right,” Sam jumps in, “the police will show up with the warrants to get your family.”
“As if they won’t be shitting themselves just waiting for someone to ask what happened to you,” Dean finishes. “Can you do that? Show up tomorrow night like nothing has happened?”
Cas swallows, fingers twisting and twining together. “Will you be there?”
“In a suit and on your arm if you want,” Dean assures him.
“And I can be there too,” Sam adds. “You tell me who to look for, and I’ll make sure they don’t leave.”
“Thanks.” Awkward with the chairs, Cas still leans around to hug Dean. “I couldn’t do this alone, even before they knew I knew.”
“Here to please,” Dean whispers in his ear, shifting to hold him closer. “So, Sam, you’ll take it all to the police?”
“Yeah. Cas, do you have another copy of this stuff?” Sam hold up the hard drive before wincing. “Another hard drive, I mean.”
Cas keeps smiling at them. “I have three more, all with different passwords. That’s all yours, and the police can keep it.”
“Thanks. Dean,” Sam hesitates before holding out his hand, “thanks for calling me on this. I’m glad I can help.”
Dean shakes his hand with a nod. “Thanks for coming.” He wonders if maybe this could be a chance for them to start over. “We’ll see you tomorrow night?”
“Of course. And I’ll text you with updates, especially when or if I hear they have warrants.” Sam packs up his things and heads out, closing the door behind him.
“How long has it been since you’ve seen each other?” Cas shifts to lay his head on Dean’s shoulder.
“Four years, his wedding. I found a guy trying to drug a woman,” Dean still gets pissed when he thinks about the fucker, “and I beat the shit out of him in the reception space. The cops didn't charge me when they found out why, but Sam kicked me out and didn’t want to see me anymore.”
“You’re really not that bad,” Cas announces. “Might be a little rough around the edges, but you aren’t that bad.”
Dean gives thanks Cas hasn’t seen him at his worst. He’d have a very different opinion if he had. Although… “What do you want to do about the two who hurt you? If you leave them to the police, they’ll never pay for hurting you.”
He feels Cas stiffen up, so he soothes a hand up and down his back. “But I don’t have any proof. I know I told Sam that I have it handled, but what can I do?”
“You can tell me where to find them.”
Cas sits up and turns to Dean. “What would you do?”
“Anything you wanted me to do.” It won’t be the first time Dean’s been judge and jury when there wasn’t enough evidence.
“I want you to break them,” Cas decides, “and then I want them to want to be arrested.”
Breaking bones and causing pain isn’t an issue. “If it was up to me, we’d grab them, take them back to a place that I’m not going to name, and then we’ll dump them in front of the police station after the gala.”
“Nope. Going missing will drive the others crazy and worried,” Dean explains, “but given that it’s just them missing, it should be clear it’s about you, not the whole crime thing. If we let them turn up before the others are arrested, it’d be too much of a warning that they might want to run.”
Cas shakes his head. “I’m not good at thinking like that.”
“And you don’t need to think like that,” Dean tells him. “You’re pretty perfect the way you are. You don’t need to learn to think like that.” And he really doesn’t want Cas to start thinking like that either.
“Will you let me be there?”
What the hell is Dean supposed to say to that? Sure, he won’t see anything, but he’ll still hear plenty. “I know what they did to you, but when you’re the one doing it, it’s different. Are you sure you want to be there?”
Now Cas hesitates. “I want to be there, tell them why it’s happening, and then leave.”
That works for Dean. “Alright. I’ll do that tonight, but for now, what do you want for dinner?”
They relax together for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Then it’s time for Dean to head out. “I’m going to go get them, put them in their place, and then I’ll come get you. Does that work?”
“Thank you.” Cas hugs him close, and Dean presses a kiss to his forehead.
“I’ll be back as soon as I’m done.”
It’s not that far across town to the homes Zach and Naomi built. Dean’s pretty sure they shouldn’t have access to this land, but that’s for the police to handle. Being in homes also makes it a lot easier for Dean to get in and out than an apartment would.
Dean parks in the driveway, happy with the seclusion. He decides to go for it, sauntering up the front steps and knocking on the door. There’s too much glass to hide, but he doubts these fuckers know what he looks like.
The door opens to reveal a slightly heavyset balding man with a smarmy smile. “I’m sorry, can I help you?”
Dean swings out and punches him right on the jaw. He hears a little crack, his strength supplemented by brass knuckles. “Yeah, you can help me by shutting the fuck up.”
He digs through his pockets, tossing phone and wallet out onto the floor. Who the hell carries their wallet around their house? Dean doesn’t worry about leaving them since he put on gloves in the car, and then he works to heft Zach up in a fireman’s hold.
Back at his SUV, he ignores the moans coming from the sucker who went down with one punch. Duct tape is his best friend, covering his mouth but not his nose, and keeping his hands behind his back. He adds a few vertical layers to prevent Zach from using any tricks with his body weight to try and get free.
He goes back to shut the front door, then Dean drives one house down to Naomi’s house. Equally secluded, Dean goes through the same steps. Knock on the door, knock a fucker out, then duct tape her up. He closes the door and heads over to his extra spare warehouse just outside the city line.
When he arrives, Dean opens the hatch to look at his prisoners who are both awake and staring at him. “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your miserable lives.” He doesn’t bother carrying them this time, grabbing them under the shoulders and pulling them out and dragging them across the ground, ignoring grunts of pain.
He hangs them from meat hooks under their arms then heads out. Dean still doesn’t really want Cas involved with this, but he understands that it’s part of his closure. He walks into his house and finds Cas stretching on the floor. “You ready?”
Cas looks up, following the sound of his voice, and nods. “I think so. I can always stay in the car, right?”
“Right.” Dean takes Cas’ hands and pulls him to his feet. “Whatever you want.”
It’s a quick drive back, then Dean escorts Cas into the warehouse. He sees on their faces the moment it clicks. “Cas, you want to hear anything from them?”
“No.” Cas moves a little closer, Dean at his side to keep him safe. “I hope he makes you bleed. I hope he breaks you. And I hope you know that regardless of what you did to me, you didn’t break me.”
Cas turns away and walks, on his own, out of the warehouse. Dean waits, makes sure that he doesn’t hear anything, and takes that to mean Cas made it back into the SUV safely. So he turns back to the fuckers and rips the tape off Zach’s mouth.
“You can’t do this,” Zach shouts, glaring but not the least intimidating. “Do you know who I am?”
“You’re the fucker who delivered a beat down on the nicest man I’ve ever met,” Dean growls, punching him in the gut to release some frustration. “The one who put greed over morals, money over family.”
Sure, Dean breaks the law, but he’s up front about it. People come to him knowing that the interest rates are ridiculous and that he’ll smack them around if they don’t pay up. But civil servants? People are supposed to be able to trust them because that’s their job.
“He should have just kept his mouth shut.”
Dean swings wide, rage fueling his punch. Blood spurts everywhere from a busted nose, but Dean doesn’t stop. He moves head to toe, punching and kicking every inch of Zach he can reach. Bones crack and might even break, but he doesn’t stop.
Breathing heavy, rage on simmer, Dean looks him over. Zach slumps in the hooks, eyes swelling shut, nose still bleeding, jaw off center. If he was naked, he’d have more bruised skin than plain.
If it was up to Dean, he’d slit his throat, but now’s not the time. Instead, he turns to Naomi. She looks back at him, no fear, cool and collected, so he rips the tape off her mouth to hear what she has to say.
“I don’t see why you’re judging us.” She looks him up and down somehow delivering haughty. “You’re just as dirty as us if not worse if you have a place like this. You’d have done the same if someone wanted to turn you in.”
Dean laughs in her face. “No, I wouldn’t. I don’t seek people out. They find me, and they know the rules of the game and generally have their own secrets. Admitting you’re going to a loan shark will have the cops digging through your life in ways you probably won’t like.
“And I’d never lay a finger on an innocent. I deliver beat downs, but I’ve never maimed someone in a way that hinders the rest of their life. I could almost forgive the beat down, but blinding him?” Dean shakes his head at her. “That was too far.”
“So you’re going to hurt a woman?” Naomi sniffs at him, still maintaining her composure. “That doesn’t match your portrayal of yourself.”
“You lost any protection your sex might give you the moment you thought blinding someone was an acceptable way to cover up your crimes.”
Dean pulls out a knife and cuts her clothes off leaving her in just her bra and underwear. She opens her mouth, but he’s not interested anymore, so he slaps some more duct tape on her face. “I’m not going to kill you. Cas doesn't want that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make you hurt.”
Starting just below her neck, Dean starts cutting. Little slices that won’t bleed too much but will sting like hell. Slice after slice after slice, Dean works to cover as much of her skin as possible. She starts whimpering pretty soon, but Dean ignores it because she earned the pain.
Eventually Dean stops and checks her. No more haughtiness, no more pride, just blood and pain. But he’s not done with her yet, moving through the warehouse for other supplies. Dean grabs the bag and walks back to Naomi.
“As if it wasn’t enough to shatter his illusions about his family, you had to pour salt in the wound, blinding him, and changing his life forever.” Dean cuts open the beg and hefts it into his arms. “Let’s see how you like it.”
Pouring salt over her body, head to toe rips screams out of her. Dean winces slightly at the sound of a woman’s screams, but he doesn’t stop because he knows she deserves it. When he’s holding an empty bag, Dean lifts her off the hooks and lays her down in the mess on the floor.
Zach stares at her, mumbling to himself. He shrinks away when Dean moves closer, but Dean passes him. He’s done with these two. He just wants to make sure Cas is fine and wants to sleep before tomorrow.
Cas waits until he climbs in and shuts the door before speaking. “They’re still alive?”
“Yeah, Cas. I wasn’t going to do something that you didn't want,” Dean tells him while turning on the car to head out. “It won’t be a fun night, but they’ll still be here tomorrow so we can take them to the cops.”
“Thanks.” Dean hears him shifting in his seat and waits to see what’s bothering him. “Does wanting this make me a bad person?”
“No, Cas, it makes you human.” Cas doesn’t say anything else, so Dean leaves it there.
They have a quiet night at home before Cas spins into high gear the next day. He’s constantly on the phone and ropes Dean into reading his emails so he’s completely informed. Sam sends the occasional update regarding progress with the state police, reading through records and putting together a case. Dean’s starting to feel good about everything.
Eventually it’s time to dress, and they head back to Cas’ place, Dean bringing his own clothes along with them. They swap cars with Pamela then head up to dress. It doesn’t take Dean long to pull on his slacks and button down, not wearing a tie, and jacket over the back of a chair.
“Damn it!” Dean can hear the tears in the disappointment and heads to the bathroom.
“What’s up, Cas?”
“I can’t tie a damn tie without being able to see!” He drops his hands to the counter, head hanging low. “How the hell am I supposed to do this?”
Dean gets the feeling that he means a little more than just tying a tie, but he focuses on the simple for now. “I don’t wear them much, but I can tie it for you. Has to be a simple knot though, nothing too fancy.”
“I’ll take anything at this point.”
Slipping the fabric off over Cas’ head, Dean puts it on himself to tie the knot. He then puts it back on Cas and adjusts the ends to fit his torso. “You look great, Cas, as good as you always do at this type of thing. Now you just walk in there with your head held high, and you show them that they can’t break you no matter what they try.”
A few tears slip down his cheek, and Dean wipes them away. “You’re stronger than them, better than them, and you’re going to show them.”
Cas nods, straightening up and putting a smile on his face. Three days ago, Dean would call him confident and happy. Today, he sees strength and courage, knowing Cas just well enough to see the fear just below the surface.
As they head out, Dean’s phone rings, and he checks it to see Sam. “Hey.”
“They got the warrants.”
“Just a second.” Dean pulls the phone away from his ear and puts it on speaker. “You have both of us now.”
“The judge just signed off on warrants for Chuck Novak along with Zachariah, Naomi, Raphael, Uriel, Bartholomew, and about a dozen more,” Sam announces. “It’ll take about two hours for them to get what they need and to arrive in town.”
“Have you told them about the flight risk?” Cas asks. “Have you told them that they should probably be arrested at the gala before they have time to prepare and run?”
Sam chuckles at Cas’ intensity. “Yes, I did. They also appreciate the chance to make a splash in the headlines. They have people digging deeper than you did, Cas, and this shit goes back years. Makes them look bad that the state didn’t catch it, so they’re hoping to look good, and a media presence could help.”
Cas nods, leaning his head on Dean’s shoulder. “I won’t be able to see the fear and shame on their face, but I want the rest of the world to see it.”
“Good. Stay strong, Cas, and we’ll handle the rest of this for you. I'll arrive with the cops, so I'll see you at the end.” Sam hangs up, and Dean waits for Cas to gather himself and stand up straight.
“I’m ready,” Cas announces, and Dean starts taking them to the SUV. “It’s a good thing I already wrote and memorized the points of my speech. Can't exactly read one anymore.”
Dean shakes his head, pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to make that joke in Cas’ place. “From the way you were handling things on the phone, you know enough to bullshit a speech.”
“But I don’t want bullshit.” Cas sighs, looking down to his lap. “I’ve had enough of that, and separate from me, the women we’re working to support deserve better than that.”
“I don’t think they’ll get better than you.” Dean admits he’s a little biased, but that doesn’t change the fact that Cas is amazing.
Cas laughs but doesn’t argue with him. They complete the ride in silence, not even using the radio. When they reach the gala, valets appear to take the car. Dean lets himself out and moves the other valet out of the way to help Cas down.
“I’m going to take your arm,” Dean whispers in his ear, tucking his hand in Cas’ elbow. “This is your show, and you’re leading.”
Cas takes a deep breath and starts walking forward. Dean directs him with little nudges and whispers, just enough to make him confident enough to act himself. He walks right past people, the crowd parting naturally in the face of his confidence.
“How am I supposed to know where people are?” Cas takes the glass of champagne Dean hands him, hiding behind it for a moment.
“Tell me who you want to talk to, and I’ll get us there.” Even if they come at it from different perspectives, Dean and Cas know a lot of the same people.
Cas downs the rest of his champagne, Dean putting the empty glass aside, and nods his head again. “Let’s do this. To start, the head of the shelter, Jody Mills.”
Dean leads them over, glad she’s alone and he doesn’t have to come up with a way to get her out of a conversation. He gets Cas in front of her, and she takes over.
“Castiel Novak, the man of the hour.” She toasts him with her glass, smile wide.
“Hardly.” Cas smiles at her while stretching out his hand for her to shake. Jody takes it and pulls him into a hug, knocking him off balance, but he recovers smoothly. “Thank you for reaching out to make me part of this project.”
“Castiel, you were the only one who would work as hard as me to make this happen.” Jody takes his hands and looks into his eyes, and Dean sees the moment she realizes. “Castiel! What-”
“Nothing that matters,” Castiel tells her, understanding even without seeing. “It’s been handled, and everything will be clear later tonight.”
Jody turns to Dean, eyes catching his hand on Cas’ elbow. “And what’s your part in this?”
“I know people who have connections to the police,” Dean tells her, “and I know how to protect people when they need it.”
She looks him up and down, sees the way Cas leans into him just a little. “You hurt him, you do anything against his wishes, and they’ll never find you.”
Dean understands her point and smiles at Jody. “Cas is in charge here, not me. I’m the muscle, and he’s the brains.”
Cas tries to argue with him, but they both shut him down. “As long as you know your place.” Jody turns back to Cas with a soft smile. “Now, let me tell you about some of the women who have already reached out to help us run the shelter.”
They talk shop for a while before Cas directs Dean over to several other people, all who notice his eyes but shut their mouths when Dean glares. Cas squeezes his hand several times, all the acknowledgement he needs.
During a short break between people, Dean pulls out his phone when it vibrates. The police are half an hour out which means they need to start moving forward. He updates Cas who leads him to the stage along the wall opposite the bar. He keeps avoiding Cas’ family, not wanting to deal with that.
It helps that they’re trying to avoid them as well.
Dean leads Cas to the podium before stepping back, giving him his moment. Cas taps the mic to draw everyone’s attention, and the chatter in the room slowly dies off. “Thank you for coming tonight.”
Cas smiles and launches into a speech about the goals for their shelter, the desire to help women create new lives, building on the strength they already have. He thanks everyone for donating and supporting them.
Checking his phone, Dean monitors the police’s progress through Sam’s updates. He shifts far enough to the side of the stage that Cas can see him before realizing that won’t work. How’s he supposed to update Cas that it’s time to shift the topic of his speech?
Deciding it’s worth the odd looks, Dean moves forward and taps Cas’ arm. “Five minutes out.” Cas nods, still speaking to the crowd. Dean leaves him to it.
“And although tonight is all about this wonderful shelter,” Cas announces, “there are other things we should discuss as well.”
A few murmurs reach Dean’s ears, and he starts checking on Cas’ family members. They’re slowly moving closer to each other in the crowd, a little worried but not leaving yet.
“This shelter shows how good and wonderful our city can be. Unfortunately, just because we have great goals doesn’t mean that everyone in town has the same kind of goals.” Cas pauses, swallowing hard. He stays silent long enough that people start muttering again, but he pulls himself together and continues.
“Ten days ago, I learned that my family has been systematically stealing from the people of our city and terrorizing and traumatizing many women who should be able to trust the mayor and other civil servants.”
The murmurs tick up, people starting to look around, the Novaks starting to look for a way to get out.
“Three days ago, when I made it clear that I wouldn’t stand for it, my family, people I should be able to count on, turned on me.” Cas clenches the podium, needing a moment for himself. “They beat me to try and make me cower, and they blinded me to try and silence me.”
No more murmurs, the crowd fills with gasps and horror.
“I reached out to Dean Winchester who has supported me these last few days,” he turns and gestures for Dean to join him. “We were able to contact the state police, and they are aware of the situation and have the evidence to stop it.”
Dean puts an arm around his waist and leans in. “They’re here, all along the back of the room. They can’t escape.”
“I hope this serves as a reminder for everyone who might need the support of the shelter,” Cas continues, speaking louder to be heard over the crowd and the noise of the arrests. “No matter what happens to you, you are strong and you will survive.
“No one can break you if you don’t let them.
“No one can escape justice forever.
“Never give up, no matter how bad things seem.”
Cas stands there as the police cuff his family and leads them away. Dean stands a little off to the side because this is his moment. People turn their heads back and forth, looking between Cas and the Novaks and back.
Eventually the police and the criminals are gone, and Dean touches Cas’s elbow once again. He clears his throat into the mic, getting everyone’s attention again. “I know this isn’t what you came here for tonight, and I apologize for the chaos this creates.
“But the truth can’t be hidden forever. I want this shelter to grow and help any woman who needs it, and I can’t stay silent when I know people whose activities contribute to the struggles we’re trying to fix. I want us to start strong out from under the umbrella of criminality.
“Moving forward, we will take care of our city. We will take care of our citizens and work to right the wrongs of the past, violent and nonviolent, greedy or vicious.” Cas swallows hard. “I’m not here to apologize for the sins of my family, but I’m here to make sure they can’t continue hurting people.”
Cas turns away from the podium, and Dean takes his elbow to lead him safely off the stage. They don’t get very far before a police officer stops them. “Mr. Novak.”
“Officer.” Cas follows the voice to look in his direction. “Can I help you?”
“We need you to provide a statement regarding the information you found and what happened to you after that.” The officer looks over to Dean with a sneer apparently aware of his reputation. “We can escort you.”
“Thank you, but I am not ready for that.” Cas moves closer to Dean, wrapping his arms around his waist. “My boyfriend can bring me to your department tomorrow. Will we be doing this at the department in town, or at your offices in the capital?”
Sneer still on his face, the office shrugs. “We’ll be here in town. Ten o’clock, sharp.” He turns on his heel and stalks away, Dean flipping him off.
“Sorry about the boyfriend part,” Cas says while pulling away. “There was something about him that made me want him to know you weren’t going anywhere.”
“Whatever you need, Cas.” Dean needs a moment to think about how that title felt, to figure out if he wants to hear it again.
He waits until they’re in the car and driving away before bringing up Zach and Naomi. “Since you need to be at the station tomorrow, I suggest I drop them off tonight. The station will be crawling, but I know where I can put them that they’ll be found soon.”
“Are you sure you won’t get in trouble?” Cas turns and takes his hand. “I don’t want you getting arrested for helping me.”
Dean shrugs. “The moment they turn up beat to shit, they’re going to suspect me. But even if they spit my name out, it’s easy to spin it. I have a bad reputation, and they’re still trying to hurt you, so I become an easy scapegoat to blame for whoever actually did this to them while also trying to remove your support.”
Cas winces but nods. “And you were with me the whole time the last three days. I need help to get around now, especially when I’m not in my own space.”
Shit, now he has Cas talking like a criminal. Dean really hopes that as soon as this shit is over, Cas stops thinking that way. “Sounds good. I’m going to drop you at my place and head out because if things do go wrong, you are not going to be involved.”
“Thank you.” Cas presses a soft kiss to his cheek, and Dean finds himself blushing for the first time in years.
It’s quick work dropping Cas off and getting back to the warehouse. He checks Zach who looks like shit but is still awake and semi aware. Naomi looks worse, moaning and drooling into the salt. Dean checks her pulse and can find it even if it’s a little thready.
He loads them both into the trunk and makes his way to the empty lot three doors down from the police station. Dean drops them on the ground and looks down at them. He considers a warning, telling them not to mention him to the police, but figures it isn’t worth the effort.
There’s just one last thing to do to each of them.
Dean reaches back into the trunk and grabs his bat. He goes to Zach and slams it down on Zach’s knees, one after the other, shattering them. He screams behind the duct tape but isn’t loud enough to draw immediate attention.
Dean then moves to Naomi and shatters her right elbow. She just moans and rolls her head a bit, too unaware to scream. “That’s for Cas.” He tosses the bat in the trunk, closes the hatch and heads home.
Back at his place, Dean lets himself in and finds Cas sitting on the edge of his bed. He walks over and hugs him, needing a moment. Cas wraps his arms around him, holding him, and Dean lets it go. He releases his anger and frustration with the Novaks, breathes in serenity from Cas.
His job is over and done with, and it’s time to move forward.
“They’ll be found soon. We might have cops knocking on the door in a few hours.”
“I don’t care,” Cas tells him. “I just want to go to sleep.”
Dean steps back and pulls Cas to his feet and undresses him. Jacket and shoes, then tie and button down. Cas lets him, fingers drifting over his shoulders, face, and hair. Dean hesitates when it comes to his pants and underwear but continues undressing him.
“Can I do you?” Cas asks, pulling Dean up to his feet and putting his hands on Dean’s chest. “Please? I never really paid attention to you before, and I want to see you.”
Cas slides his jacket off, tossing it to the floor, then undoes his shirt, fingers tracing along his chest and down his stomach. His fingers linger on his belt for a moment, but Cas undoes it along with his pants.
Dean kicked off his shoes when he came into the house, so Cas can takes his pants off with ease. He trails his fingers up Dean’s legs as he stands back up, and he blinks a few times when he makes it all the way to his waist.
“You went to a formal event without any underwear?” Cas shakes his head and laughs. “I don’t know why I’m so surprised. You’re not one for rules, are you?”
“Not ones that don’t make sense.” Dean slides Cas’ hands around to his back to move them closer and kiss his cheek, returning the sentiment from the car. “Ready for bed?”
“Yeah, I am.” Cas climbs into bed, patting the mattress behind him. “Sleep with me?”
Dean turns off the light and slides in behind Cas, arm around his waist. “Whatever you want, Cas.” Whatever’s growing between them, they can figure it out tomorrow. Tonight, he just wants to relax and enjoy some peace with Cas. Tomorrow is another day.