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Bullets in the Gun

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“Excuse me,” Castiel says, about fifty miles past the last signs of suburbia.

The man driving his car doesn’t answer. Doesn’t even acknowledge he’s spoken.

“Hello?” Castiel tries.

The man’s eyes narrow faintly, but they stay stubbornly on the road ahead. A muscle in his jaw tics.

“I know you can hear me,” Castiel says. Ignoring him certainly isn’t the worse offense the man has offered— that honor goes to the handcuffs securing Castiel’s wrists in an awkward stretch behind his back— but it’s still exceptionally rude, considering.

“What’s the problem?” the man grinds out. His hands are slowly tightening on the Continental’s wheel, like he’s trying to wring the life out of it.

“I need to use the restroom,” Castiel tells him, and the man’s lips peel back from sharp white teeth.

“Well, you’re gonna have to hold it,” he says, glaring out the windshield. They’re going a sedate two miles over the speed limit, and the landscape outside is monochrome blur of white snow, grey sky and black asphalt. Has been for hours.

“How long?” Castiel asks.

The man takes a visibly deep breath, fingers white-knuckled on the leather. “Until we stop.”

Castiel studies him, the tight jaw, the hunched shoulders. “And when will that be?”

“When I fucking say we’re going to!” the man erupts, slamming the wheel with both hands. “It’s been less than a fucking hour, are you seriously expecting me to believe you have to piss again—”

“Oh, my apologies,” Castiel snarls back, leaning on the center console. “Is this a bad time? Am I inconveniencing you?”

“Would you just—“ The man cuts a hand through the air between them. “Shut up. Just shut the fuck up.”


“No?” The man finally pulls his eyes from the road and gives Castiel an incredulous stare. The fuck do you mean, no?”

“No,” Castiel confirms. “I have no obligation to be pleasant or accommodating to you. No, and furthermore, never.”

The man keeps staring, long enough that they start to drift into the opposing lane and Castiel says, “The least you could do is keep us out of a wreck.”

“What? Shit,” the man mutters, and they glide back into place. Not that it matters. The road is mostly empty, the weak winter sun setting early. Every overpass LED blinks the same message as they slip under: BLIZZARD WARNING 6PM CENTRAL IOWA.  Right now, the only thing under the tires is thick slush, but once the sun goes down that will change.

For a while, the only sounds are the Continental’s wheezing attempts to blast heat into the chilly front seat. Castiel keeps his eyes on the man, and eventually, the man speaks again.

“Okay, listen,” he says. He sounds grudging, but his voice has lost the tightness of anger. “I’m sorry about this, okay?”

“If you were sorry, you’d let me go,” Castiel says instantly.

“I said sorry, not stupid,” the man grumbles. “Jesus. It’s only for a few days.”

“That’s what you said on Thursday,” Castiel notes. And Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday. Not Friday; Castiel had been locked in the trunk for most of Friday, hogtied and covered in a blanket that smelled strongly of the cigarette smoke baked into the Continental’s upholstery from some previous owner. It’s still not the worst Christmas he’s had, but it ranks in the top three.

“I’m just waiting for the all clear,” the man says vaguely, back to scanning the far horizon. “My, uh, partner’s cleaning up while I’m driving Miss Daisy, and when he’s done we’re done. I’ll drop you off, place of your choice.”

There were two of them in lock-up, Castiel recalls. Brothers. He remembers being locked in the trunk and hearing a second voice through the back of the seat. Something else about that sentence catches his attention more acutely, though. “What about my car?”

The corner of the man’s mouth twitches. “Sorry, man. But really, I’m doing you a favor, getting rid of this shitheap. What’s it worth? Two hundred? Less? Hell, it probably wouldn’t cover your damn bus ticket back to Pontiac.”

Castiel glares, hands twisting uselessly in his coat. “You are a— a very bad person. And you will be apprehended.”

The man flicks him a glance. “Y’know, most people are less mouthy to the guy with a gun.”

“Your gun is in your jacket,” Castiel says. “Very difficult to pull and aim while driving, I imagine.”

“Not too difficult,” the man says, and insultingly, he’s beginning to look more amused than angry. “Let’s not test it out, alright?”

Castiel hasn’t actually seen the gun since Thursday, Christmas Eve, when he’d collapsed into his front seat three hours after the rest of the precinct had been dismissed for the holiday. He’d slammed the Continental's door closed, reached for his seatbelt and heard, low and easy in his right ear, “Sorry, sweetheart, but I’m going to need to borrow your car.”

Castiel had elbowed the unseen assailant as hard as he could in the face, and the man had had Castiel’s entire reserve of Burger King napkins pressed under his nose when he’d shoved him bodily into the trunk. His nose is still a little purple, Castiel notices, and his bottom lip still swollen. Good.

“Be that as it may, I still have to go to the bathroom,” he says, and the man groans.

“Fuck, fine,” he says. “We’ll stop at the next gas station. I need to grab something anyway.”

Fifteen minutes later, the man slips the handcuffs—Castiel’s own handcuffs, liberated from his kit in the back seat—into a pocket and herds Castiel into a deserted Pilot station. It’s staffed by a single teenage attendant, the boy’s tiny television tuned to the weather station.

“Hey, man, we’re closing in fifteen,” the boy says, not looking up from his phone. “Weather’s going to get, like, super shitty in a couple hours.”

“Thanks,” the man says with a broad smile, the gun’s cylinder pressed freezing-cold under Castiel’s coat. “We’ll be just a second.”

The bathroom is single-stalled and windowless, to Castiel’s irritation. The man gives it a quick once-over and then nudges him forward.

“You’re not out in five, I’m coming in after you,” he says, tucking the gun into the waistband of his jeans. His green eyes are still crinkled in infuriatingly out-of-place amusement, and he points a mocking finger at Castiel as he starts to pull the door closed. “Don’t make me do that.”

Alone, Castiel swiftly appraises the room for weapons and feels his frustration rising. There’s no fire alarm to trigger, and no obviously portable items to take with him. The fixtures are solidly planted and someone has already shattered the mirror that hung above the grungy sink. There’s no glass left to take.

Castiel uses the facilities, because it pays to be prepared, and arms himself with the heavy ceramic toilet tank lid. He’s poised to bash the next thing that comes in when he hears the man calling through the door.

Hey, Miss Daisy! Time to go.”

It doesn’t sound like he’s right outside, and Castiel needs the surprise if this is actually going to work. He waits.

A few moments later, the man yells, “We’re burning daylight here!”

Castiel slowly lowers the lid, scowling at the door.

“I’ll shoot the lock out,” the man promises.

Castiel opens the door a tiny crack, and sees the teenager on the ground with his hands on his head, the man standing behind him with the gun pointed six inches to the right of the boy’s ugly baseball cap.

“Finally,” the man says cheerfully. “Our buddy here was just helping me get the security camera feed and backups. Did you want any chips or something?”

“Dude, it’s Christmas,” the attendant says sadly.

“For fuck’s sake, it’s the thirtieth,” the man says to him, and to Castiel, “Candy? Coke? Whatever you want. I’m buying.”

By the time they leave the gas station— the man whistling the same two bars of Winter Wonderland ad nauseum, Castiel back in handcuffs and seething— twilight has swept up from the east and thrown the entire landscape into blue shadow. The rising wind has bled any warmth from the car while they were inside, and the man swears and pulls on a pair of gloves he’d taken from the Pilot before touching the wheel. He’d left a wad of bills on the counter, and the attendant loosely zip-tied behind it.

“What?” he asks, when he catches Castiel watching.

“I’m just surprised you paid for anything, I suppose,” Castiel answers honestly.

“Nah, money’s not an issue,” the man says. He leans across the seats and casually taps the gun’s icy barrel under Castiel’s chin as he pulls the seatbelt down and around. “Not right now, anyway. Comfy?”

Castiel lets his glower speak for him, and the man has the temerity to laugh. “Okay, great. Off we go.”

The twilight deepens as they set off again, road even more deserted as the first flakes begin to fall. They’re driving in silence through the leading edge of the storm, tiny beads of ice striking Castiel’s window with greater and greater frequency, when something in the front seat gives a high-pitched, bubbly trill.

“Whoops, that’s me,” the man says, and pats around his jacket pockets until he finds a phone. Disposable, Castiel sees with disappointment. Probably untraceable. Instead of hello, the man says, “Please tell me you’re done,” and Castiel is surprised to realize he can hear the response.

“Fuck you, you could have stayed and helped. I’m getting there. Have you dumped the car yet?”

“Uh,” the man says, and his eyes dart up to Castiel’s and away. “It’s complicated.”



“Dean. What did you do.”

“I, uh. Can’t hear you, Sa—um. Storm’s coming in. It’s really bad out here.”

“What storm? There isn’t a storm for— where the fuck are you?”

“I’m... uh,” the man says, voice stalling out. Then, for some inexplicable reason, he starts making static noises. “What’s that? Krrshhht! Can’t hear you!”

“You son of a bitch, don’t you dare—”

“Losing connection! Krrrshshhhshhhht—”

“Damn it, Dean!”

The man hangs up the phone with a quick jab and tosses the phone behind him on the back seat.

“That was incredibly childish,” Castiel observes. “Dean.”

The man startles, head jerking towards him. “What?”

“Your name is Dean, yes?”

“How— fuck, of course you could hear that,” the man— Dean— sighs, leaning over the steering wheel. “Whatever. Yeah, I’m Dean, and you’re— Detective Cassius or Christopher or something.”

“Castiel. Castiel Novak.”

Dean eyes him. “Jesus, really?”

“Watch the road, please,” Castiel says sharply as they start to veer again, and Dean muscles it back to the right. The sleeting snow is starting to build up, their view of asphalt limited to the narrow lanes carved by the tires of the cars in front of them.

“Crap, this is getting nasty,” Dean says, peering out the windshield. “Might have to stop early.”

Castiel squints at the mile markers as they roll by, but they’re almost entirely obscured by the heavy wet flakes. “Soon?”

Dean makes a dismissive noise and leans back. “Another hour or two. We’ll be fine.”

They make it thirty minutes before Dean sends the Continental skidding sideways down the highway, narrowly avoiding collision with a teetering Rainbow Foods semi trailer and two other cars. He curses explosively but turns smoothly into the skid and they right themselves, weaving cautiously back to a straight twenty-mile-per-hour crawl. The road’s edges are blurring under the snowfall, and in some cases already buried entirely.

“No Henry Doorly for us tonight, I guess,” Dean says. “Goddamn, it’s getting cold in here.”

“I think I see a sign,” Castiel says, using his shoulder to rub the thin layer of frost off the window. Outside, there’s a glimmer of something red and orange through the snow. “There, at the top of the hill.”

The sign is for a closed McDonald’s, but the next building over is a blandly inoffensive Super 8. There are at least ten cars in the lot and Castiel tries to see if there’s anyone he can call out to, anyone who might see him.

Of course, damn Dean’s preternatural luck, there’s no one. Dean glances back at him as he opens the Continental’s door, letting in a stinging mix of snow and ice. “Behave, okay? I’ll be back in a couple of minutes, and I don’t want to have to fish you out of a snowdrift or anything.”

It’s humiliating, but Castiel hasn’t even made it out of the car before Dean gets a room and returns via a side exit. The Continental’s windows are surprisingly sturdy, and its door handles taste disgusting.

“Up and at ‘em,” Dean says through chattering teeth, and frogmarches Castiel through the accumulated inches and into the building.

The room is objectively nicer than some places Dean has made them sleep, and matches the building’s inoffensive exterior down to the nothing-colored carpet. Dean forces Castiel forward until he falls face first on one bed, then tugs up his hands to unlock one cuff.

“You know the drill,” he says, stepping back, and when Castiel rolls and sits up, the gun is pointing at the mattress near his hip. “Hands on the headboard, sweetheart.”

Castiel scowls. “Stop calling me that.”

Dean gives him a grin and shrugs a dufflebag off his shoulder, tossing it at the other bed. “But it fits so well.”

Castiel is sure this is some kind of outré comment on his appearance, but it unnerves him that he can’t tell if Dean means it sincerely or sarcastically. “I need to use the bathroom,” he says instead of arguing further, cradling his sore wrist.

Dean rubs a hand over his face. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

“And the shower.”

“Well, yeah,” Dean says, eyebrows lifting. “Can’t argue with that one.”

Castiel glares at him and Dean holds up a hand in a placating gesture, gun pointed steadily at the bed. “No, man, knock yourself out. Hell, I’ll even give you some clean clothes to wear after.”

“All right. I will.” Castiel stands, slowly, and edges around Dean to the wall with the bathroom. It’s also the wall with the door to the hallway, and Castiel could make a break for it, now. If he could get to the door before Dean reacted.

“Hey, I see those shifty eyes,” Dean says, flicking the barrel towards the bathroom. “Get in there.”

“I do not have shifty eyes,” Castiel says, and Dean rolls his.

“Of course not. C’mon, move it or lose it.”

Castiel spares another glance for the chained, locked hallway door, then trudges into the bathroom. He tries to slam the door as hard as he can, and when it refuses to do more than whisper shut he throws the bolt with an angry shove.

There are clothes waiting on the counter and a smiley face drawn in the condensation on the mirror when Castiel steps out of the shower.

He stares at it for a long time, thinking of all the varied and horrible things he’d like to do to Dean when this is over. He’s been writing a particularly insulting testimony for the prosecution in his head ever since Dean opened the trunk late on Christmas and said, “Y’know, I think we got off on the wrong foot.”

Castiel had lunged at him, carsickness and handcuffs be damned, and Dean had been kind enough to catch him before he hit the gravel shoulder of I-80 facefirst. He'd laughed. The absolute— bastard, Castiel thinks, scrubbing furiously over the smiley face, and turns to wrench open the bathroom door.

Dean is sitting with one knee drawn up on the edge of the bed, gun tapping impatiently against his leg. He’s still in jeans but he's down to a t-shirt, very similar to the one Castiel is wearing, and the clean lines, the curves of his body— waist, bicep, ass— are on full display. His hair is mussed, waistband of his boxers riding dangerously low at the small of his back. It’s unfair, and horribly misplaced, but at that moment he’s so beautiful Castiel’s mouth goes dry.

He might have stared longer, but Dean looks up the sound of the door opening, rolling his shoulders back. “Mm, Finally. Leave any hot water in the building?”

Castiel was using the shower noise to cover his attempts to break open the bathroom window, but it in the end, it was simply too small and too high. He’d given up and washed with something unpleasantly flowery, and the smell of it lingers on the hair dripping chilly fingers of water down his neck. “It would serve you right.”

“You’re such a little ray of sunshine, you know that?” Dean says, dropping both feet to the floor and beckoning with the gun. “Time for bed.”

The door is right there. Right there.

“Those shifty eyes again. Come on, didn’t I say this was temporary?”

“I don’t think you would actually shoot me,” Castiel decides aloud. “You’re going to a lot of trouble to deflect any undue attention.”

Dean’s smile never waivers. If anything, it softens. “Well, that is true. But I have knives, too, if I need to be quiet.” He uncoils off the bed, and motions with the gun again. “Why don’t you lay down, and we won’t have to find out?”

Because he’s looking for it, Castiel sees the hilt of one as Dean stretches above him to secure the handcuffs to the headboard. His shirt slides up his sides, baring the knife, his hipbones and a slight softness under his navel. They’re chest to belly like this, and his body bears Castiel down into the mattress for a brief moment before he gives the cuffs a hard tug and straightens with a satisfied grunt.

Castiel tests the wooden headboard’s strength with a jangle of metal and Dean gives him an absent, admonishing smack on the thigh before pulling up the covers and tucking them around Castiel’s chin. “See you in the morning, Cas.”

Despite Castiel’s most intense mental exertions, Dean refuses to spontaneously drop dead of a brain aneurysm. He walks back to his own bed to dig through the duffle, whistling Winter Wonderland again instead.

It’s two in the morning when the idea occurs to Castiel, the result of much tossing and turning and being unable to get his frigid fingers under any kind of acceptable cover.

“Dean,” he says into the dark room. There’s some illumination creeping in from the window, but it’s the insubstantial glow of streetlight refracted through snow. He swears he can see his breath, the room is so cold.

“Shu’up, Sam,” Dean says mumbles nonsensically.

The cold makes it hard to take the next step, but Castiel bites his lip and kicks off the comforter and sheet, as quietly as he can.


No response.

“Dean!” Castiel barks, shivering hard.

Dean makes a sleepy, angry noise, and in the next bed a shadow maneuvers itself to face him. “What th’fuck?”

“My blankets,” Castiel explains.

“What about ’em.”

“They’re on the floor.”

It seems to take a moment for Dean to find words. “That… sounds like a personal problem, Cas.”

God. If Dean doesn’t get up he’s going to freeze to death. “Get the blankets!”

“Why the fuck should I get your blankets, you’re the one who kicked them off!”

“In my sleep,” Castiel lies through his teeth. “I didn’t do it on purpose!”

“Goddamn it,” Dean growls. But then, miraculously, the shadow starts untangling itself from the nest of sheets it's created.

The next part of the plan needs to be timed very precisely. Castiel waits while Dean slouches out of bed with a grumble, waits while he gathers the wad of bedding from the floor. He waits until Dean— no gun, no knives, just an old, threadbare Survivor shirt and lowslung boxers— stands up to settle the comforter over him again with a mumbled, “Fuckin’ A, you’re one high-maintenance—”

Castiel kicks him as hard as he can in the side of the knee, and Dean goes down with a gratifyingly loud “Oof!” At the same time Castiel yanks as hard as he can on the thin wooden slats that anchor the handcuffs, and they snap. His wrists sting, but they’re free—or almost free, since they’re still cuffed together, but it's so much closer than he was before. He doesn't move any further, though, because damn it all to fiery oblivion his kick obviously hadn’t landed properly and Dean is already staggering to his feet.

They stare at each other in the dark, Dean rubbing the outside of his leg, Castiel praying Dean can’t see the broken wood.

“Feel better?” Dean drawls, eventually.

“A little,” Castiel says, thinking quickly. “I, uh. I do still need my blankets. If you don't mind.”

“Your blan—? I don’t care about your fucking blankets,” Dean says in a half-hissed whisper, stepping closer. “I should just leave you like this,” and thank the Lord; he must not have noticed the cuffs coming free.

“Please?” Castiel tries. He could wait until Dean’s sleep again. Could. Probably should. But if he can just get him close enough now...

“Don’t move,” Dean warns, eyeing him warily as he bends to pick up the comforter again. “Don’t move a fucking inch, you hear me? I’ll—“

Castiel has the cuffs around the back of his neck before he’s finished his sentence, and Dean jerks back and takes him with him. The two of them go tumbling off the bed and onto the floor.

It’s a quick and dirty fight, Castiel trying to hold Dean’s head down and kick at whatever’s in reach, Dean with the clear advantage of free hands trying to push his arms up and shield himself from Castiel’s wild strikes. He takes a knee to the side but manages to force Castiel’s arms over his head, and Castiel tries to roll them so he can force the handcuffs and their chain down over Dean’s throat. They hit the opposite bed, and Dean’s head hits the nightstand, and somehow the faded lavender lamp falls into the mix and gets crushed underneath them.

“Would you just— fucking— stop!” Dean yells, wrenching the handcuff chain down behind Castiel’s head so hard his shoulders twinge. He’s using his body to pin Castiel down and it’s frustratingly effective, their legs tangled and Dean’s breaths coming in quick puffs against his face.

“Just let me go!” Castiel gasps, struggling against the sensation of being slowly crushed. “Why are you even doing this?”

“I’d have to fucking kill you, do you understand?Dean says furiously. “It was this, or your body in a ditch, and I didn’t want to fucking do that!”

“You could try not breaking the law in the first place,” Castiel says, trying to smash his forehead into Dean’s already injured nose, and Dean makes a fist in his hair and drags his head back.

“Trust me, if it were an option Sam and I would both be Mr. Smith in suspenders, getting our cleanse on,” Dean says darkly. “Life ain’t like that. Not for us.”

“There’s always a choice,” Castiel snaps, and bucks to give himself more room to swing with his elbows. Dean wrestles him back down, pins him there, and for a moment there's only breathing in the dark.

“Okay. Okay,” Dean pants into his neck, his heat bleeding through Castiel’s clothing. Where his shirt was rucked up in the fight, they’re skin to skin, Dean’s stomach brushing his every time he breathes. “We have two options here. Obviously that shitty bed’s not going to work, so you can get handcuffed to the bathroom pipes, or we can go wrist to wrist and you can fucking behave yourself.” He gives Castiel a hard shake, like he’s scruffed a cat. “Can you do that?”

“Yes, of course,” Castiel says immediately, still tensed and ready. He needs to distract Dean again, with anything he can, and he can be out the door in seconds. He knows he can.

Dean glares balefully down at him. “No, you can’t. What the hell am I even saying, get up.”

“Dean,” Castiel says, licking his lips. He forces his body to go lax, lets his head roll back against the carpet and Dean’s fingers. "Wait."

“What?” Dean says suspiciously. But his hand loosens just a fraction.

Castiel’s intent is to try again for a place where Dean’s already hurt— the split lip, in this case. He sinks his teeth into it, hard, hoping the pain will make Dean flinch back and take some of his weigh with him so Castiel can roll free.

Dean’s breath shakes out in a surprised moan, hands spasming in Castiel’s hair and high on his bared waist, and Castiel freezes with the taste of blood between his teeth.

“Fuck, leggo,” Dean slurs, and his lips brush over Castiel’s in a way that doesn’t make him shudder. Absolutely does not. Dean’s hands are warm on his chilled skin and his body is a solid, strangely satisfying weight above him.

It’s the abortive arch of Dean’s hips between his spread thighs, the thin fabric of the boxers no barrier at all, that snaps Castiel out of his surprise. He makes an outraged sound against Dean’s mouth and— and bites him again, struggling to get his hands out from under his head. Dean groans and lets him, both his hands dropping to Castiel’s waist.

“What. What,” Castiel tries to say, only to have it swallowed by Dean, the hot slide of his tongue pressing slick and sure past Castiel’s lips and drawing an embarrassing sound from deep in his chest. It fills his mouth and strokes along its edges like something else entirely, and Castiel makes another helpless noise, low and hurt.

“Shh,” Dean says when he pulls back, when Castiel’s mouth feels pleasantly used and his lips are tender from it. Dean’s fingers are straying past the loose elastic of Castiel’s borrowed underwear, and Castiel settles the handcuffs behind his neck again, his hands clenched on Dean’s broad shoulders. “Shhhh, just let me, let me—“

He moves down Castiel’s jawline to his ear and Castiel can’t stop shivering, the cold room and Dean’s bloodhot mouth on his skin and his pulse throbbing in his fingers, in his swollen lips and intensifying the sore, sweet ache of his cock as Dean’s hips slowly work against him. “God, Dean!”

“Christ,” Dean groans, sounding tortured. He shuffles away slightly and Castiel fights to drag him back down. “Cas, I want to just. Ah, fuck, can we—”

“Yes,” Castiel breathes, trying to urge Dean’s mouth back to his, “Please, please.”

Dean’s hands are under Castiel’s bare ass, squeezing, and Castiel is too preoccupied by Dean’s teeth scoring the base of his throat to realize what that means until Dean grinds down and Castiel can feel him slide along the inside of his hip, a searing lick of precome smearing across his skin. Castiel flushes so hot the room feels arctic.

“Feel so good,” Dean tells him breathlessly, fingers digging into upper thighs and spreading them wider. Castiel can’t breathe around how good it is, arching blindly upward and being rewarded with one of Dean’s hands shoved between them. The cheap carpet digs into his back and he barely notices, his own hands coming up to cradle Dean’s head, move it where he wants it. Dean lets him with a muffled laugh.

“The bed, Cas. C’mon, the bed’s right there,” Dean says. Has been saying, but it’s unfair of him to expect Castiel to be paying any kind of attention at all when he’s stroking him like that, thumb rubbing rough along the underside and swiping rhythmically over the head of his cock. Wrists locked together, Castiel can only pull Dean as close as he can and hang on for dear life.

That ends up being what gets them to the bed, Dean giving up on speech and hauling them both to their feet. Castiel is dazed enough that he moves with it, and then Dean gently pulls his hands from around his neck and leaves Castiel standing while he crawls backwards into bed, lips obscenely red and wet in the pale winter light.

“You coming?” he rasps, when Castiel only stands there blinking at him.

This, this would be the moment. The moment Castiel made a break for it, when Dean’s distracted enough that he wouldn’t be able to follow in time. Castiel could get out. Get help.


“I’d better be coming,” Castiel says as he kneels up on the mattress, sparing a second to grab the bedsheets and pull them up with him.

Dean laughs, soft and delighted, as Castiel closes the gap between them. “Coming from you, that’s fucking filthy,” he says, hands sliding along Castiel’s flanks to settle teasingly behind the bends of his knees. “Tell you what, Cas. You have my personal guarantee.”

Castiel wakes to a noise that’s familiar, yet strange. It takes him several long seconds to identify it as his cell phone, and another few to realize why that’s important.

He sits up quickly, but the room is empty. Dean is gone. The duffle is gone. So is the gun, and so are the handcuffs.

The cell, which he hasn’t seen since his Christmas in the trunk, is on the side table with the mangled lamp. It’s set to an alarm at 11am, and underneath it is a brief note in crabbed, slanting handwriting.

See you around, sweetheart.

P.S. Left the car. Guess I can see why you’d want to keep an old thing like that around.