Soundtrack: Let’s Misbehave! – Irving Aaronson & His Commanders
Last night had been rough. Dean wakes to a helluva headache in the cellar of his and Sam’s place. Sam is nowhere to be seen, of course, probably gone upstairs to their hatbox-sized apartment above the corner market that Ellen runs. Or he could have gone up there last night before Dean slumped down under the bar, and taken that dancing girl he likes with him. The flapper gal. Amelia something-or-other. She’s nice enough. Dark-haired, gorgeous gams, but she’s got problems as long as the list of the people Dean pays off in the name of the Winchester Bros speakeasy. Her husband died in The Great War, for one. Doesn’t change the fact that his little brother’s all moony-eyed over her, though.
Personally, Dean prefers girls as carefree as he as. Hell, it’s a revolution, why shouldn’t they all want to party?
He pushes himself up onto his feet. He finds his bowler under the bar. Man, he smells of booze. He didn’t even drink that much, but boy oh boy, does that Smoke pack a punch. Dean combs his hair into submission with his fingers before he screws his hat onto his head, and straightens out the rest of last night’s suit best he can.
As is custom, he knocks on the trap door at the top of the stairs to be let out. If the feds are up top, they’ll stomp once to let him know.
Jo opens the door for him, blond hair already done up and pretty, frock pressed, but her eyes aren’t bright like he expects, and she frowns when he surfaces.
“What’s eating you?” he asks, and stretches.
“Bad news, Dean.”
That isn’t Jo, and nor is that Ellen.
“Bobby?” Dean swings around on his feet and stares, “What’re you doin’ here so early, buddy?”
Bobby’s known Sam and Dean since they were shorter than his knees, so it’s no surprise that when Dean asked him if he’d help ‘em out with their bootlegging business, he accepted immediately, offering to play go-between and smuggler for them. What is a surprise is seeing him around before the afternoon.
“It’s Pam, Dean. We done bad,” Bobby says.
Pamela? Shit, he likes that bird. She and Dean flirt on and off, and once even got close to some really whoopee before Sam strolled in on them wrapped up in each other. They hadn’t done anything but toy with each other since, but that didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy her company. She was just at the ol’ place last night –
“What happened?” rasps Dean. One thousand possibilities run through his head, and all of them are awful. She could’ve gotten locked up, could’ve snitched on ‘em. Hell, she could have jake leg for all he knows. Sure, he didn’t sell his customers that shit, but who knows what they did on their own time.
“She’s blind, boy. It’s our hooch that’s done her in,” Bobby says, and pulls his trilby off his head, pressing it to his chest and running a hand over his mostly-bald head before he replaces it.
Dean licks his lips, “You’re razzing me. Stop it.”
“Ain’t,” Bobby says, “Doctor says so.”
“Means my source is bad,” Dean mutters, “Damn. So they got our goods, too?”
“What’re you gonna do?” asks Jo, “You can’t close the joint down. It’s all the neighborhood’s got.”
And that was true enough. They didn’t live in the big city, they lived out in cozy Kansas. Sure, they had a real downtown with a real nice night life. And way back, some rich folks took up here and built their fancy summer homes along the lake for easy access to boating and fishing.
And that’s it. Dean snaps his fingers.
“I got it,” he says, “The Thompsons.”
“Aw, nah,” Bobby complains, “You ain’t sayin’ the lakeside Thompsons, are you?”
“I sure as hell am,” Dean says. The eldest Thompson bought out one of the locked-up distilleries to distribute medicinal whiskey a couple years back, but all the locals knew you could get it out of him for the right price. Dean’s speakeasy being the only in town had lined his pockets up pretty good – he could afford Thompson if he wanted to, and he knew it.
A’course, if he got himself in involved with Gabriel Thompson, it meant he was choosing sides, and Dean disliked politics.
Still, he couldn’t go on peddling poison to his customers. It wouldn’t do.
“This is a bad idea, Dean,” Bobby says, “Those people are volatile. They’re trouble. They’re scofflaws.”
“We’re all scofflaws, Bobby,” Dean replies. From the inside pocket of his suit coat, he pulls out a roll of bills from last night’s affairs, licks his finger, and pulls a couple off the top, and says, “In case you forgot, we gotta juice joint in the cellar. Take these and buy some pretty flowers for Pam. Tell her we’re real sorry.”
“You ain’t sorry,” Bobby says, “But you will be sorry if you get your hide tanned by those Thompsons.” He doesn’t bother to wait around for Dean to answer him. Bobby worries too much – he raised him and Sammy up after their dad left, and their mom was long-since six feet under, and it makes him act all…motherly.
But he knew Dean wouldn’t listen, anyway.
Dean slips out of the market and to the back stairs. Ellen and Jo live in the apartment across from theirs, but that’s all there is – it’s a small place.
“You look like hell,” Sam remarks, when Dean lets himself in.
“Feel like it,” Dean confirms, “We got aspirin?”
“Yeah, and I’ll make us some coffee,” Sam says.
Dean catches the glass container of aspirin capsules and swallows a couple back without a chaser. He needs to bathe and put on his glad rags if he’s gonna visit Gabriel Thompson. Whatever else he may have, the guy’s got class, or something like it. As soon as the pills kick in, he strips off his used clothing and tosses his hat onto his bed. He makes quick work of his bath but careful work of his shaving. When Dean’s dry, he dresses in his swankiest daytime suit.
“How do I look?” he asks, when he emerges to their small parlor to the scent of coffee.
Sam cocks a brow at him, “You trying to impress somebody?”
“One Gabriel Thompson,” Dean announces.
“You are not,” Sam says.
“Spare me,” Dean replies, and holds up a palm, “The feds got our hooch. The wood alcohol, anyway. Pam’s blind and Winchester Bros isn’t going out of business on my watch.”
“Bobby already laid me out,” Dean says, “I’m not going to change my mind.”
Dean pats his Studebaker on her side and says, “See you in a while, baby,” and lets some kid take the keys to valet her away from the front of the Thompson manse and out of sight. He whistles before he reaches the front steps.
“Ab-so-lute-ly beautiful,” Dean says. It’s the kind of house people in the films live in, royalty and princesses and rich benefactors. Great pillars open to a sprawling front porch. A fresh coat of paint makes the outside gleam, and towering windows hint at the luxury of the inside. Dean’ll bet his hat that it’s even prettier than what he already sees.
A pretty maid lets him inside and asks, “May I ask who is calling?”
“Dean Winchester,” he smiles, a tosses a wink in for good measure.
Still, her smile fades. He knew his name would do something like that hear, suit or no suit. Winchester Bros isn’t exactly a classy operation. And until this moment, Dean has been competition. But he and Thompson have a sweet silent deal between them: You don’t bother my customers and I won’t bother yours. Some people like Thompson, others like Winchester. Mainly, the politicians and the wealthy choose Thompson, and Dean gets whoever’s left. That’s fine. These people certainly aren’t his people.
There are paintings of angels on the walls, for God’s sake. Who in their right mind does that?
“I’ll…see if he can make an appointment for you,” she says, and curtsies before she dismisses herself.
Oh, he’ll see Dean. One thing’s certain about Gabriel Thompson, and it’s that he likes playing games. Dean, if nothing else, makes an interesting chess piece.
No more than two minutes later, the maid returns and bids that Dean follow her up a set of spiral stairs, covered in plush, red carpet. Like in the films, indeed. This is the damn films. Dean trails the maid through a hall decked in Thompson family portraits.
Even Michael and Lucifer hang on the ornate wallpaper, their frames gold and intricate. Likely real gold, too, knowing these people. Gabriel must think it’s funny to hang the brothers’ portraits next to one another, though.
Dean thinks it’s funny, too.
Night and day, those two. And Heaven only know who’ll win the election this coming autumn.
The maid raps on a pair of enormous, solid doors, carved intricately with more naked angels. Class Gabriel may have, but taste is another matter entirely. From behind the doors, a genial, “Let him in, doll,” comes, and the maid opens the door. Dean thanks her, she curtsies, and the door closes again. The sounds seems to echo.
Dean doesn’t know what he expected, but it wasn’t a man in a pinstripe suit with his Oxfords up on his desk, a fat cigar between his lips, his light hair unfashionably long, though fashionably tamed.
“Winchester,” Gabriel welcomes, “What brings you to my humble abode?”
“Here, take a seat,” Gabriel says, and indicates to one of the armchairs arranged before his desk. They’re nice, nicer than anything Dean could afford, but shorter and less opulent than the throne Gabriel seats himself in. He winks when Dean sits, and that’s when Dean knows that he’ll be just fine.
“Feds got my goods,” Dean says, “Can’t sell poison to the public, Thompson, it’s bad business.”
“That it is, that it is,” Gabriel agrees with a puff from the end of his cigar, “and so you came to me.”
“So I came to you,” Dean says, a wry half-smile on his face.
“I should warn you that I’m an expensive man,” Gabriel says, and examines the nails on his free hand, perfectly manicured on soft, pink skin. Never seen labor in his life, this one, but Dean wouldn’t trade for this life with the family Gabriel’s got. He doesn’t know much about the rest of the clan, but Michael and Lucifer are enough to send him running from that deal.
Dean leans forward and grins, “Sure you are, and I’ve become one.” Nothing like Volstead to make men equal, after all.
Gabriel whoops with laughter, and after a moment, slides his legs off of his desk. He stubs out his cigar on a silver ash tray and says, “I like you, Winchester, I really do. I thought I might. So I’ll make you a deal. I’ll give you my whiskey cheap, you bad-mouth my politically-inclined brothers.”
“What?” Dean asks, “Why?”
“Why?” repeats Gabriel, “Because it’s funny, that’s why. And, Dean, because people listen to you. You run a decent joint, from what I hear. People listen to you. They like you.”
“You sure you got the right Dean Winchester?” Dean says. Yeah, he’s got friends. And he’s got allies. But he’s got a helluva lot more enemies and folks after him than he does those.
“All right, all right,” Gabriel amends, “You have influence.”
At that, Dean chuckles. Influence is one way to phrase it, certainly. But he sobers when he realizes the weight of Gabriel’s offer and asks, “I think there may be catch to this. I don’t like the smell of a Thompson handing out whiskey.”
“I have my motives,” Gabriel shrugs, “You’re useful. I’ll start you off with…let’s say, twenty barrels. How’s that sound?”
“Sounds a shade too good to be true, if you ask me,” Dean replies, “How do I know you’re on the level?”
“You don’t,” Gabriel tells him. Behind the desk, a metal click sounds off, and a drawer slides open. Gabriel extracts a crystal whiskey decanter and places it on the desk between him. He says, “But you can try the product, if you’re so inclined. We could toast on our new partnership.”
And that’s it. Dean’s caution remains, but Gabriel doesn’t seem a lick like dry Michael or wet Lucifer. He’s a separate breed entirely, a fact that is equal parts fascinating and dangerous in Dean’s mind. Still, he nods and accepts, and from the same drawer Gabriel retrieves two matching whiskey glasses and pours them each a finger of drink.
“To Volstead,” Gabriel suggests, and raises his glass.
Dean tips his own glass against his and agrees with smile, “To Volstead.”
Their glasses chime and Dean tips back the drink. Damn, damn fine whiskey, smooth all the way down. Yeah, he’s been needing that drinking for the better half of the last decade.
And just as Dean sets his glass down on Gabriel’s desk, the study door crash apart, and a disheveled man stumbles in.
…An incredibly handsome, disheveled man. At one point in his lifetime, Dean may have paused at the idea of thinking a man attractive – but it was the sexual revolution, baby. Women wore skirts above the knees, so hell, he could think a man handsome if he wanted to.
Gabriel, on the other hand, straightens up in his chair.
“Cas?” he says, with mouth slack, “What are you doing here?”
“I-I fought with Michael. I called him a donkey’s ass. It wasn’t pretty,” Cas announces, “I didn’t know where else I was supposed to go.”
Gabriel stands and sweeps to this Cas, ushering him further into the study before he closes the heavy double doors behind him. He pulls out the armchair beside Dean’s and Cas collapses in it, babbling on before Gabriel says another word, “I thought I could help you with your business.”
Dean lifts a brow, and Gabriel releases a soft, sad laugh. He says, “Castiel, come on. You’re not stupid.”
“I – you – oh. Wait a moment, who are you?” Cas turns to Dean and asks.
Dean grins widely and offers his hand, “Dean Winchester. Who the hell are you?”
Cas’ eyes flick to Gabriel before he takes Dean’s hand and firmly shakes, “Castiel Thompson.”
Realization dawns on Dean and Castiel all at once.
“He’s your brother?”
“Guilty as charged on both counts, boys,” Gabriel smiles.
Castiel starts in on his brother before Dean can think, and says, “I can’t believe you. You’re a criminal. A scofflaw. You’ve sided with Lucifer.”
“Whoa, steady there,” Gabriel says, an edge to his voice where there wasn’t before, “I am not siding with anybody. I am doing what I’d like to do, and that’s entirely different. How can I throw a decent party without booze, Cas? I can’t.”
“And who is he?” demands Cas, “this man is suspected of running a speakeasy.”
“He just bought some liquor from me,” Gabriel says, “Probably because Michael made the decision to have the methyl alcohol at Dean’s source poisoned. And we can’t have people dying due to us, can we?”
Castiel goes silent before running a hand through his already-mussed hair. It’s only then that Dean notices that the man isn’t wearing a hat. Must have been some fight if a man leaves his hat behind. When he at last speaks he spares a look at Dean before he says, “I suppose not. Perhaps we should have this conversation later and not when you have – company.”
Dean knows a cue when he sees one. He stands and says, “Well gentlemen, it has been a pleasure.” Dean pulls his bills from the inside pocket of his suit jacket and flips a few hundreds out of the mix. He says, “Is this enough, Thompson?”
“Perfection,” Gabriel replies, and accepts the cash.
“When can I expect my shipment?” asks Dean.
“As I understand it, Winchester Bros is underneath the market on Washington Street? I will have a truck sent there. The barrels will be packed in crates labeled as containing fruit. My men will help you unload them.”
Dean gives a curt nod to indicate his understanding and says, “Yes sir, sounds about right. When can I expect you?”
“Half-past four o’clock this evening,” Gabriel says.
“Better not be late,” Dean says.
“I never am.”
Dean doubts that.
But to his equal parts surprise and relief, at half-past four precisely, a delivery van parks in the alleyway beside the market driven by a shady-looking man and even shadier looking employees. When Dean exits the corner shop to greet them with Ellen and Sam, another surprise greets him on the narrow, cobbled loading area.
Castiel Thompson steps down from the truck’s passenger side. He looks better than he did that morning: a fancy, feathered trilby on his head, unwrinkled clothing, and face free of blood. Though, nothing hides the split lip and grim face.
“Castiel,” Dean greets jovially, as though they’ve known one another for years, “Meet Ellen Harvelle and my brother, Sam Winchester.”
“Castiel Thompson,” Cas nods, voice low and even, as he moves to shake Ellen and Sam’s hands. He doesn’t look pleased to be here. Figures. The man was up with Michael, richest Thompson of them all. He’s used to luxury, not to meeting lower class folks in an alley with contraband, on equal footing.
When Sam hears Cas’ full name, he turns to cock a brow at Dean, and Dean offers a shrug. He asks, “What brings you here?”
“My brother wanted my oversight here,” he says.
That makes sense. Gabriel put on a good show of trusting in Dean, but a good bootlegger knows better than to trust anybody. It’s interesting to know, however, that Gabriel does trust this particular brother, despite his association with Michael. Interesting indeed.
“All right, boys, lets load ‘em,” Dean says, and cocks his head to the back door.
Dean grips a crate and heaves it up into his arms. Sam follows his example, and then Gabriel’s men, while Ellen keeps watch for any prying eyes. And then, out of the corner of his eye, Dean watches as Castiel leans into the end of the truck and pulls up his own crate to carry into the cellar. He pauses and watches, again surprised. This man is – strange, to say the least. Underneath his finely-made coat, Dean can see muscles work. Real muscles, the kind a man gets from working.
And then, when Dean sets the crate aside in the backroom of their joint, he watches Castiel follow. His eyes flick to his hands. Unlike his brother Gabriel, he has the hands of a working man. Rough and worn calloused and thick.
Dean is sweating by the time they’ve finished moving the crates. He pulls his handkerchief from his breast pocket and wipes the perspiration away, lifting his bowler for a moment to let his head breathe. He sees Gabriel’s men to the truck with a, “Thank you, boys,” as each of them steps into the back to ride back up to the lakeside.
Castiel does not get in.
“I’ve been instructed to stay tonight at your establishment,” Castiel explains, and knocks on the truck’s door, letting the driver know he can leave. The dark-eyed driver gives a nod and a salute, before he lights a ciggy and makes off back down Washington Street.
“Lordy,” Dean remarks, “You been in the business for a couple a’ hours and you’re already the Real McCoy.”
“I dislike doing anything halfway,” Castiel replies lowly.
The declaration sends a shiver through Dean’s entire body.
Who the hell is this guy? He’s slick, that’s one certainty. Of one more thing Dean is positive: He needs to watch out for Castiel. He can’t read him, and that unsettles him.
Well, let him stay. He can watch them ready the ol’ girl for the night. That should put him right to sleep.
But it doesn’t: Castiel looks on as Ellen and Jo spread freshly laundered tablecloths over the beaten furniture populating the cellar, and as Dean sheds his suit jacket before taking a crowbar to the crates, prying off the tops to retrieve each barrel of precious booze. Sam stocks the higher shelves behind the bar – benefits of a beast of a brother, Dean supposes – while Dean takes to the spaces below the bar and wipes out the cocktail shakers and polishes down the bar’s countertop.
“You care about this place,” remarks Castiel.
“Just ‘cause a man’s business is illegal don’t mean he loves it any less,” Dean replies, and stacks clean glassware below the counter.
The band (a local group called Garth & His Boys) arrives to get early practice in for the night’s numbers. Many nights, this is Dean’s favorite part of the night, before the customers truly begin to arrive. He can listen to quality music and enjoy a drink before work, and watch the flappers, his girls, file in for the night’s work. He watches his brother as Amelia arrives, and sees him smile at her. She smiles back. Maybe the dame isn’t as bad as Dean makes her out to be. She makes Sam happy, and that should be enough.
Dean serves himself a finger of whiskey, and snaps his fingers to get Castiel’s attention, “Hey Mister High-Hat, you want some hooch?”
Cas turns, frowning, and doesn’t answer right away. He turns back to staring at Garth & His Boys, at the trumpet player, a good-looking boy no more than nineteen. Dean’s brows lift at that. So Castiel Thompson is a handsome man that appreciates other handsome man. Well, ain’t that just something?
“I…I’m not certain that I should,” Cas says.
Dean waves him off, “Quit being a wet blanket. Have a drink.” Without Cas speaking, Dean pours him a glass and slides it to him across the bar.
He takes a sip of his own drink with a satisfied hum, “Damn, this shit’s the berries. Thank your brother for me, will you?”
Cas takes the glass between both hands and stares before he dares raise it to his lips and drink. He makes a face and sets it back down. He doesn’t say anything, though, which is a step in the right direction, Dean thinks. Guy needs to have a little fun. He’s too serious for this age.
The first customer arrives at ten to eleven, and by then the band and the dames are in full swing, dancing and laughing and playing the music like nothing’s ever brought them such pleasure before. Electric light reflects from the flappers’ costumes on the beads and shining sequins. They wear the most scandalous outfits in Kansas, skirts barely past the bum.
Hell, Dean appreciates a nice pair of legs. What can he say?
And as with every night, the old place fills up quick, packed with people, even people that have been burned by liquor before. Man with jake leg sits at the bar every night, another one blind does the same, and still another who lost his sister bad booze sits alongside the others.
Castiel watches the mayhem with guarded eyes, though under his fingers is his third glass. He’s looser now, that’s for damn sure. Good.
Dean always dances once, and always lets Sam dance once during the night. He offers his hand to a pretty flapper called Meg, and swings her around when she accepts. From the corner of his eye, he sees Castiel watching them from his barstool. Dean grins and winks at him, and Cas jerks his gaze away.
There’s laughter and light in this place, underground though it is. Dean figures Cas has only ever been to those ritzy parties for politicians, and likely never got invited to the darker after parties with expensive booze and prostitutes. He’s never seen the den of the working man, even if he has working hands.
Gradually, in the small hours, people begin to file out, and the flow of drink and money slows. Dean didn’t indulge much this evening, figuring it bad luck to zozzled two nights together.
That doesn’t hold true for Castiel, though, because as Dean begins to collect the used glasses, he feels Castiel approach from behind him, and place a hand on Dean’s shoulder. Whether he’s trying to put money in Dean’s bank or steady himself in unclear, so Dean just laughs and says, “You are fried to the hat, my friend.”
“Lots to drink,” Cas agrees, and goes on, voice lower, “The trumpet player…”
“Yeah, Benny,” Dean says, “What about him?”
“Good-looking guy. Do you like good-looking men?”
Well, well, well.
Dean looks over to Sam, where he’s cleaning up the bar, Amelia on the stool in front of him. So his attention’s occupied. Dean pats Castiel’s shoulder and says, “I think everyone appreciates a good-looking guy, don’t they?”
“You know – you know what I’m saying,” Cas stumbles over the words.
“Sure I do, bluenose,” Dean replies, “Do you know what you’re saying?”
“Yes,” Cas says lowly, and that’s all Dean needs.
Dean clears his throat when he passes by Sam and Amelia at the bar and says, “I’m gonna help this fella find his way. You two behave now.”
Find his way to Dean’s bedroom, at least.
No sooner is the apartment door closed behind them than Castiel Thompson’s lips are on Dean’s. He tastes and smells like good whiskey, and clean skin, with a little tang of blood from his split lip. Dean drags Castiel to his bedroom by the tie and locks the door behind him. He places the key back on its shelf, and when he veers Cas’ coat is on the floor with his tie, and his suspenders at his hips.
Dean stops Cas’ hands where they fumble on the buttons of his shirt, and he leans into Cas for a kiss. He won’t let the necking stray too far, not with Cas corked like this, but there’s no harm in undoing his trousers, is there?
Ah, damn, the man is erect already. Dean feels along the length through his underthings before he pulls him out. Castiel lets out a low, happy groan, eyes shut. But when Dean closes his fingers around Cas’ cock, he opens his eyes and says, “You’re wearing too much clothing.”
Dean laughs and sheds his hat and coat, casting them toward the edge of the small room. He loosens his tie and slips his shoulders from his suspenders, unbuttoning his shirt and letting it float to his feet.
“Better?” he asks.
Cas shakes his head, and his big, working hands slide up underneath Dean’s undershirt, pushing it over his head and mussing his hair. Dean grins when Cas nods, and pushes him back onto his bed. He closes his fist around Cas’ cock again and slowly moves it in a rhythm, up and down, expert movements. Making people fall apart under his hands – that’s what he loves. He loves watching Cas go from serious to pink-cheeked and sweating, his breath fast and noise bubbling up from his throat.
Castiel comes with a force like Dean hasn’t seen since he was a teenager.
Goll-lee, that man needed some whoopee.
Dean waits just a moment before he retrieves his handkerchief from his jacket on the floor, and mops Cas up. When Dean tosses the handkerchief aside and settles on the narrow mattress beside Cas, Castiel asks, “What about you?”
“You’re too scrooched, buddy,” Dean says, and runs a hand through Cas’ hair, “Just sleep it off.”
“What about Gabriel?”
“I’ll drive you back in the morning,” Dean assures him, “Sleep.”
Cas doesn’t need to be told twice. His eyes close, and within only a few minutes strung together, soft snoring sounds beside Dean. Dean loops his arm over Cas’ waist, and presses his nose into Cas’ neck, breathing in the scent.
Screw dangerous, this man is deadly.
Dean wakes early to unfamiliar warmth, and when he opens his eyes he sees Cas, mostly clothed and dead to the world, a soft smile on his lips even though he’s asleep. He has to extract himself out from under one of Cas’ arms to take a piss, padding across the room softly and unlocking the door with as little noise as he can manage.
He should make coffee. Castiel will be hurting when he comes to.
So Dean does, exiting into the kitchen in nothing but his trousers and socks.
“Castiel found his way, I see,” Sam says.
Dean jumps a foot in the air and complains, “Scared me. And what’s it to you?”
“He’s a Thompson, Dean, they’re bad news,” Sam replies.
“I don’t know, Sammy, Gabriel’s all right and Castiel – seems fine,” Dean says, “He’s got working hands.”
“You are making a judgment based upon the look of a man’s hands.”
“Yes I am,” Dean replies, and goes back to brewing up some coffee. He and Sam sit in silence while Dean waits, and don’t speak when the coffee’s finished and Dean is pouring a cup for himself and for Castiel. He retrieves a couple of the aspirin from their medicine cabinet, and ducks back, away from Sam.
With all that ruckus, it’s no surprise that Cas groans when Dean returns to his bedroom. His hands are over his eyes, but when Dean closes the door behind himself, Cas moves them. He says, “My head aches.”
“I know,” Dean replies, and sets the cup that belongs to him aside to sit on the edge of his mattress. He instructs Cas to sit up and hands him the coffee with a light, “This’ll help a little. Brought some aspirin, too.” He takes Cas’ hand and turns the pills over to his palm.
“Oh,” Cas says, “thank you.”
For a long while, they don’t speak. Cas takes the medicine and sips at the coffee, and color returns to his face. Dean doesn’t know yet if he can mention last night’s discretions. He stops wondering, however, when Castiel asks, “Why didn’t you let me touch you?”
Dean licks his lips and replies, “Don’t like bringing it too far when a person’s too primed to make a decent decision. Had something bad happen to me that way, you know.”
“Oh,” Cas repeats.
“You – your hands,” Dean says, quick to change the subject, “What work do you – did you? – do for your brother?”
“It was my work,” Cas replies fiercely, “Not Michael’s. I’m an aviator. I work on my plane myself. Don’t trust anybody else to touch it.”
“Fly boy, eh?” Dean says, and smiles, though he isn’t sure why, “Feel the same way about my fine automobile.”
This teases a smile to Cas’ face. And it’s the first smile that Dean has seen from him. It changes his entire face, makes him look so much less severe. Before Dean even knows what he’s doing, he leans forward and presses his lips up against Castiel’s. He expects Cas to pull away, but he doesn’t. Instead, his fingers weave into Dean’s uncombed hair, and he presses closer into the embrace.
When they break apart, Cas is smiling again, but it fades a moment later, and he says, “Michael has my plane. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Take it back,” Dean says.
“I don’t know – I’ve never done anything illegal, I mean, except for last night, but,” Cas says, “I’ve never stolen anything.”
“It’s pretty simple,” Dean says back.
“Let’s say I help you,” Dean suggests, “Would take me for a ride?”
“That’s it?” asks Cas, “You don’t want money, or sex – you want a ride in my airplane?”
“That’s it,” Dean says, “Always wanted to ride in one of those things.”
“It’s a deal,” Cas replies, “I – thank you. I…may have misjudged you.”
The corners of Dean’s lips lift and he winks, just before he pushes a softer kiss to Cas’ lips. The touch is tender, too much so for Dean, and he pulls away almost instantly. He crosses the room and retrieves his coffee before he says, “You should – why don’t you dress, and I’ll drive you back to you brother?”
“Of course,” Cas says.
But when Dean and Cas emerge from the bedroom, a guest sits on the chaise lounge, a cup of coffee in his grip and a smirk on his face. His fedora shades his face and his dark pinstripe suit cuts a severe figure on his square frame.
“Crowley,” Dean remarks, “It isn’t collection day. What are you doing here?”
“Heard tell of a deal you made with Gabriel,” he replies casually, and examines the fingernails on one hand before his gaze flicks up to meet Dean’s, “So I’m raising the monthly rent.”
“Is this your landlord?” Cas whispers.
Dean shakes his head, and only then realizes that he’s holding a hand in front of Cas, the way a mother would for a child. He lets his hand sink back to his side but isn’t any less tense than before. This part of his life he could do without Cas seeing, the seedy underground of gangs and mobsters and Tommy guns. He pays off Crowley to keep his joint safe, but Crowley is unpredictable. Dean doesn’t know when he’ll appear on the doorstep, hand outstretched.
“Five hundred dollars,” Crowley drawls, “A month.”
“What?” Dean snaps, “I may have a decent business going, but it ain’t that decent.”
“And I’d like an advance,” Crowley goes on, ignoring Dean’s protest, “Four months’ rent, by the end of this week, or I’ll have my men pay you a visit. Understand, Winchester?”
“Oh, I understand,” Dean says acidly, “It won’t happen, Crowley. I won’t pay up.”
“Oh, won’t you?” Crowley remarks, and stands. He leans on a gold-topped cane, the handle hewn to resemble a long-nosed demon, ruby eyes glittering back at Dean, taunting, as Crowley turns on his polished heel, tips his hat with a smile, and exits the Winchester apartment.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” Dean says to Sam.
“I know,” Sam says, “But what can we do? It’s Crowley. He follows through with his threats, Dean. He doesn’t play around.”
Cas clears his throat, “You know, I could loan you –”
Dean veers and glares, “Don’t you finish that sentence, buddy. This ain’t a charity case. We can take care of ourselves.”
“Dean –” Sam starts.
“But –” Castiel says at the same time.
“No,” Dean says, “Come along, Cas. We should get you back to your riches.”
Cas’ eyes flick down to the floor and he nods. He follows Dean outside without speaking to his Studebaker, and slides into the passenger side without a question. When Dean starts her up, though, he at last says, “If he isn’t your landlord –”
“Runs the streets, Cas,” Dean replies, “He n’ his gang control the town. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. Local operations pay him for protection from himself. You don’t pay up, he’ll bump you off, no question.” Dean looks ahead at the road, and not at Cas, but he can feel Castiel’s blue eyes on him as though they’re burning into his back.
And they still smell like sex, just a little. Dean’s gut twists at the realization.
“Are you certain you won’t accept money –”
“Cas,” Dean says through gritted teeth, “Dry up, fly boy. You’re keen, but you’re not my daddy.”
Cas slumps in the Studebaker’s seat and doesn’t speak for the rest of the drive.
However, when they reach Gabriel’s lakeside manse, Cas waves off the valet and instructs Dean to park near one of the back doors – to the kitchens, Cas says. There, between a safety net of leafy trees and the impressive height of the house, Cas leans over and plants a kiss on Dean’s lips. Despite the anger and heat in Dean’s gut, he kisses back, and he doesn’t know why. He’s never struggled with telling folks the bank’s closed, even after a night of heavy petting. So why can’t he say that to Castiel Thompson?
Cas draws back, and offers up a tentative smile. Dean’s throat goes dry. This swell – damn it. He’s a real sheik, straight out of a Valentino film. From his dark hair to his blue eyes to the way he looks when he smiles. All right, the guy’s been rolling in riches, but he seems less than happy, anyway. Dean understands. He tends to be less than happy, too.
Way back, Dean used to wish he could take care of Sammy without pickpocketing and cons, but factory work wouldn’t get him a wage to live on. More than likely it’d get him a couple of missing limbs, instead. He thought it must be nice to care for a family with clean money, but…
Castiel doesn’t seem any happier than he does.
“All right,” Dean at last settles on saying, “You scram, fly boy.”
“Wait…are you – will you still help me steal my plane?”
“A’course,” Dean says, “I don’t back out on my promises. I’ll tell Bobby I got business to take care of tomorrow night, and that’s when we’ll go. I’ll meet you right here, midnight, and not a minute later. If you don’t show, I’ll leave.”
“I’ll be there,” Cas promises.
“Take it easy, fly boy.”
With that, Castiel slides from the Studebaker and trudges to the back door. He glances over his shoulder when he touches the doorknob, and Dean winks.
Cas disappears inside with a small smile on his lips.
Less than twenty-four hours, and Dean is stuck on him.
That’s just swell.
On Wednesday night, when Dean pulls the Studebaker behind the Thompson manse, Castiel already waits on the back steps, dressed as Dean instructed. Each of them wear dark clothing: casual knee-length trousers to move with dexterity, black socks, deep navy blue shirts not quite buttoned to the throat, and no ties – could get sticky with something loose on. Cas wears nothing over his mussed dark hair, but Dean borrowed a black cap from Benny to cover his lighter hair.
“Got the heebie-jeebies?” Dean asks, when Cas climbs into the Studebaker beside him.
“Yes,” Cas confirms.
“Don’t,” Dean replies, “Been in the business since I was kid. Never stolen a plane before, but…I reckon a fly boy should help with that.” He squeezes Castiel’s shoulder, and carefully, maneuvers back out to the front of the mansion and out the wrought iron gates.
The drive to Michael Thompson’s ritzy home is long, being that he lives in Kansas City. He and Cas remain silent throughout most of the trip, though Dean punctuates the noiselessness with reassurances that he knows what he’s doing. Is he entirely certain of that? No, but Cas doesn’t have to know.
Dean whistles when Michael’s manse crests the hill. They park a safe mile away (“I’ll be back for you, baby,” Dean assures the vehicle) and hike up the hill with a few necessities – Cas has a crowbar slung over his shoulder and wire cutters in his other hand, swinging at his side. Dean doesn’t detail the supplies in his leather bag – they’re only for if something goes wrong. Which it won’t. But it might. So he loaded his Tommy gun into the bag, with extra magazines.
Just in case.
Like Gabriel’s home, Michael Thompson’s manor is surrounded on all sides by a high wrought iron fence. Cas slides the tools underneath, and Dean boosts him up over it before he hefts his own body after him. He lands on his feet with a soft thump in Michael’s soft back garden.
“This way,” Cas murmurs, and jerks his head to their right.
They pad through neatly kept flower beds, and duck behind trimmed hedges at the shadows of watchmen, until through the greenery, a hangar emerges, a huge, hulking structure like Dean has never seen before. They wait for one of Michael’s men to pass by. He whistles as he wanders past them, shifting his gun against himself – but he doesn’t notice them where they crouch in the shrubbery.
Together they dart across a long stretch of concrete, swift and silent. Cas runs more quickly than Dean expected, but that’s good, real good.
“This is the sticky part,” Cas says under his breath. He uses the wire cutters to slice through the padlocked chain on the entrance. It lands with a metal noise that echoes throughout the empty yard, and send Dean’s heart beating like a bird’s. He glances around, but no one is after them.
Castiel told him they would have no choice but to be loud at this juncture, and that they’d have to be fast on their feet from here. He swings open the huge, metal doors to the structure. They groan, with the noise, Cas and Dean break into a run inside the hangar.
More than one plane sits inside: there are two. One is a wooden model, beaten to hell but obviously cared for. A plane from the Great War. The other is a newer model, still a few years old, but made of metal. Under the wings, the words US Army are painted.
“Wait – you were in the army?”
“Fought in the war, discharged after I got shot two years ago,” Cas grunts through heavy breaths. He tosses something at Dean in the dark and instructs, “Put this on.”
An aviator cap, round leather, and goggles to protect his eyes. Dean obeys.
Dean and Cas swing around to see not only armed men, but Michael Thompson himself.
“Aw, applesauce,” Dean mutters, and chases after Cas to the PT-1 Trusty. He heaves his body into the seat behind the pilot’s pit, and screws the cap on his head, snapping goggles in place. Somewhere in the mix, Castiel already fitted himself in the gear. The plane roars to life underneath his touch, and they roll.
That’s when the bullets fly.
Dean’s gun is out of his bag in a pinch, and he shoots back.
“Castiel!” shouts Michael, but already they’re out of the hangar, on the long stretch of pavement outside.
“Put on your restraints,” Cas shouts over the screaming wind, and Dean rushes to obey.
“Woo-hooo!” Dean whoops, and watches Michael’s garden shrink as they soar up into the sky. Below, Michael’s men still pound out bullets, but they’re up too high, and they climb ever-higher. Dean has never felt something like this before in his life. No rush of adrenaline has ever been this great. He laughs and cheers again, reveling in the bite of the wind on his face.
As soon as the Trusty is a safe distance from the dry Thompson’s manor, Castiel navigates the plane sideways, and he laughs, too.
“This is amazing!” Dean shouts.
“Glad you think so,” Cas calls back, “Welcome aboard the American Angel, Dean.”
The plane takes them back home quicker than Dean’s Studebaker, though when the town comes into sight, Cas warns, “This will be a rough landing.”
They dive down, approaching lower and lower. The bottom drops out of Dean’s gut. It seems like they have no option but to crash land, but Cas seems to navigate with purpose, turning with precision, his lips tight with concentration. They begin to glide low to the ground, and Dean sees Cas’ intended destination: a large, rolling field, mostly flat and only a few miles to the north of Gabriel’s manse.
The gear hits the ground and tremors shake the entire plane. Castiel looks unperturbed, and so Dean trusts that’s how it’s meant to be. They roll for several minutes, slowing gradually, until at the west end of the field, the American Angel halts.
“Hot damn!” Dean exclaims, and yanks his cap off his head. He undoes his restraints, and without an ounce of hesitation, dives into the front seat and coils his arms around Cas’ body, kissing him hard. He breathes, “That was incredible.”
“You think?” Cas says on a smile.
“I know, fly boy,” Dean corrects, and crushes his lips against Cas’ again. Both of their lips are chapped and wind-bitten, and it makes everything just that much better. Dean pulls back only to pull Castiel’s leather cap and goggles off of his head. His hair sticks up every which way, and Dean can’t help but run his hands through. Lordy, it’s like he’s scrooched, but on nothing but good feelings. He kisses Cas again, on his wind-burnt cheeks and elegant nose and in his balled up hair.
“Dean,” Cas groans.
Oh, they’re hard, they’re both hard. Dean can feel it through their trousers. His gaze flickers down to where Dean straddles Castiel, and then back up to Cas’ eyes with a grin. He wets his lips with the tip of his tongue and leans in for another kiss, this one less harried than the first two, and hotter. Cas’ lips part under his without hesitation, and Dean tangles their tongues together.
This, this here, is the bee’s damn knees.
“Dean,” Cas repeats, voice lower, “I want to…” but he trails off.
Dean just smiles, “You bet.” He leans up over to his leather bag in the backseat. He came prepared to this soiree – a jar of K-Y. With all the scuffles he’d gotten into, he discovered its use for self-surgeries, and then, much later, something a little handier. Dean lets the container drop to their shoes, and occupies himself with tearing Cas’ coat from his shoulders and tossing it back. He strips them both down to their bare chests and presses their skin together to plant one on Cas’ kisser – as hard and close as he can.
And then Dean reaches into Cas’ trousers and pulls his cock out, skating his fingers over the tip and down the shaft. A thrill runs through him at the catches in Cas’ breath, at the soft noises that he tries to suppress.
On shaky legs in the cramped pit, Dean stands and undoes the fastenings of his trousers. He pulls his feet out of his shoes and steps out of the clothing, tossing it so it joins the rest of their things in the second seat. His underthings are quick to follow, and he’s naked, all the way, in front of Castiel Thompson, and he doesn’t care. He’s thrilled. He’s tickled.
“You – you’re beautiful,” Cas says, voice soft.
Dean’s face flushes at the compliment. He doesn’t know how to respond, so he cups Cas’ face in his hands and kisses him again, lowering his body back down onto Castiel’s lap. He kisses the edge of Cas’ unshaven jaw, and with his lip against his ear, Dean whispers, “I’m gonna ride the hell out of you, fly boy.”
Cas lets out a long, drawn-out moan.
Dean fumbles to find where he dropped his jar of jelly, and screws it open. He dips his fingers inside and lifts his body, just enough to reach behind himself and press his fingers inside. The stretch burns, and it’s lovely, it’s truly something. He hasn’t done something like this in an age, it feels like, and he wants it more than he’s ever wanted anything. The slide and sensation of his own touch makes his holy body shudder, and Cas groans beneath him.
He works himself open, pressing his own buttons and melting at his own touch. It’s heaven, but it’s not enough. He lets his hand slide out of him, and slicks Cas’ cock with the jelly. He holds him steady, and in one slow glide, Dean settles down with Cas inside him.
That’s when their eyes catch. Cas licks his lips and reaches up to thread his fingers through Dean’s hair, pulling him into another kiss. When they part, Dean slides up on Cas’ erection and sinks back down with a trembling breath.
Cas kisses Dean’s throat and collarbone and shoulders as Dean works his body into a steady rhythm. He can feel everything. Castiel. He feels amazing. He shudders and twitches and mumbles filthy things under his breath. He rides Cas. Hell, just last week he never imagined he’d be in a plane, let alone riding a rich-boy aviator that doesn’t smile. But somehow it’s all perfect, like something came together at last, like he’d been waiting for this for a lifetime.
“Dean –” Cas chokes out, but only just in time for Dean to feel him come apart inside him. Cas goes limp against Dean, pushing hot, wet kisses to the damp skin of Dean’s shoulders. Dean pets Cas’ hair and allows him a moment to recuperate. He thinks about climbing off of him, but no, he wants Castiel inside him when he climaxes. Dean reaches down and wraps his fingers around himself.
“No,” Cas says, “Allow me.”
Dean chuckles and watches Castiel’s sturdy fingers close around his cock. His touch his tentative at first, but soon he works on Dean like he’s done this his entire life. Dean drops his head against Cas’ shoulder and groans, bucking helplessly against the feel of those lovely working hands.
He comes on a hoarse cry, and rains kisses on Cas’ sweat-slicked body.
He doesn’t want to move, not ever, from this plane.
Thank you, American Angel, he thinks, only Castiel laughs, and he realizes he spoke the words aloud.
“Sleep here,” Dean mumbles.
Castiel runs a big hand over the curve of Dean’s spine and agrees against his throat, “Yes.”
The first thing Dean feels is the heat of the sun warming his bare back. After that, he registers the smell of sex, soap, fuel, and outdoors. He shifts with a huff of breath, and underneath him, he feels Cas shift. He doesn’t open his eyes, even when he feels Cas’ hand thumb through his light hair, and his groggy voice greet, “Good morning.”
A chuckle is his reply to that, and only then does Dean dare blink awake. It’s bright, and hot, and Dean is sticky and sweaty against Cas.
“Need a bath,” he mumbles.
Cas offers, “I have a private bathroom in Gabriel’s. We could sneak in the back door. We have to walk that way anyway.”
They both shift awake, straining to sort last night’s clothing, and tuck themselves back into their underclothes. Gabriel’s manse lies a few miles south – not a terrible walk, but in dark clothing in the morning summer sun, it won’t be pleasant, either. They trudge together over long, dry grass, and through trees, up and over hills, until the manor lies in view, opulent and indulgent as ever.
When they climb over the fence, they hear a roar of laughter.
Gabriel emerges from behind a hedge, with clippers in his hands, a straw boating hat perched atop his head. He wears no jacket, only a vest and shirt, the sleeves rolled to his elbows. He’s still laughing, but manages to stop just long enough to remark, “Enjoying the day, eh, boys?”
“Gabriel,” Cas says in warning.
“Should’ve known, you two were practically necking in my study,” Gabriel chuckles, “Attaboy, Cas. Well done. Great to see you boys finally on the trolley. Say, how about I have some joe made while you two make whoopee in one of my bathrooms?”
“Hey, pipe down, will you?” Dean complains, “You slay me. You’re real funny.”
“That I am, Winchester,” Gabriel says, and though he’s no longer laughing, his eyes still crinkle at the corners, and sparkle with leftover mirth. He tilts his head at the back door and continues, “Go on, scram. Your secret’s safe with me, gentlemen.”
Dean rolls his eyes, but follows Cas up to the back door, and through the kitchen. They take a back staircase, much simpler than the spiral wonder in the front hall of the house, and down a hall that Dean doesn’t recognize from his last visit inside the lakeside mansion.
Castiel’s bedroom seems mismatched with the house – it’s reasonably sized, relatively simple. When Dean remarks upon it, Cas replies that he had the paintings removed from the wall. Cas sheds his jacket and lays it across his bed, bidding Dean to do the same, and retreats to the corner of the bedroom to switch on his radio. A sweet line of jazz leaks into the room and fills it.
They undress and retreat to the adjoining bathroom, a narrow but pleasant room with warm-colored wallpaper and a large, claw-foot tub beneath an ornate window that lets in the late morning sunlight. Dean leans over to turn the spigot and start water for a bath, but Cas stops him with a hand on his shoulder and says, “Let me.”
Castiel runs the bath, holding his wrist beneath the flow of water to test the temperature. He turns to Dean when the tub is filled, but kisses him before he inclines his head, indicating that Dean should get in the water.
“Aren’t you going to join me?” asks Dean.
Cas shakes his head, “Not this time.”
A little disappointed, Dean steps into the water and lowers himself down. He hisses at the sting of the water on his backside – still raw from last night. Cas hums at this and kneads at Dean’s shoulder for a moment, before swipes something off of one of the shelves against the left wall. It’s a package of cigarettes, and as soon as Dean sees them he says, “Hey, butt me.”
Cas hands one over. He strikes a match and lights his own, and then leans down so Dean can share the light. Smoke fills his senses and he feels relief settle over him in a wave. He relaxes into the bathtub and smiles up at Cas, who’s staring at the window. When he feels Dean’s gaze, he glances down, and his blue eyes go from distant to warm in the space of a heartbeat. It makes Dean’s gut twist, like it’s wringing itself out to dry.
Cigarette dangling between his lips, Castiel pulls a bottle of shampoo down from the shelves and unscrews the lid. He pours a dollop into the palm of his hand and, without a word, thrusts his fingers into Dean’s hair, massaging the soap into his scalp, washing out grease and dirt. His hands work down from Dean’s hair to his neck. Dean blows a cloud of smoke from his lungs and moans, just a little, at the touch.
Then there’s a bar of soap in Cas’ hand, and it smells wonderfully like him. He runs it over Dean’s aching neck and back, down his arms and across his torso. His hand dips underneath the surface of the water, and he washes each inch of skin below, between Dean’s legs and down to his feet, over each cheek and a run between them.
The activity gets the attention of Dean’s cock. The water is starting to color from the dirt off Dean’s skin, but still through it he knows that Cas can see.
“Here,” Cas says, and Dean turns to see a crystal ash tray in his palm.
Dean didn’t even notice that his cigarette had burned to end, but there it was, ash still at the tip. He stubs it out and sighs, about to ask if Castiel would be so generous as to give him a hand underwater, but an official rap on the door interrupts them.
Cas bristles, “Yes?”
“Coffee and breakfast, sir.” Only the help.
“Leave it outside,” Cas instructs.
“Breakfast brought to me and a man to wash me? This place sure is swanky,” Dean jests, “Guy could get used to it.”
Cas waits until he hears his bedroom door close to open the bathroom. He reenters with a silver tray in hand, matching silver coffee pot and pitcher and sugar boat, and silver dishes loaded sliced fruit. There’s something else, though, that stirs Dean’s stomach.
“Is that bacon?” he asks hopefully.
“It appears so,” Cas says.
“May I have some?”
Cas laughs a little, “Of course.”
The coffee comes first. Cas pours them each a cup. Dean takes his black, but he watches as Cas stirs four entire spoonfuls of sugar into his, no cream, and tips back a sip. When Dean reaches for a strip of the bacon, Cas stops him, and instead commands, “Open your mouth.”
Only a handful of days ago, Dean would have told him to dry up and get lost, but instead, his lips part.
Castiel feeds him. It’s odd, being fed bacon by a handsome, naked man while sitting erect in a ritzy bathtub, but hey, he’s not complaining. When they finish, Cas sets the silver tray aside and rinses Dean’s hair. He’s a little more than desperate now and balls his hands into fists to keep himself together.
“Hey, uh, fly boy,” he finally says.
“You want me to touch you,” Cas states.
Dean feels the blood in his face, but nods, “Uh…yes, please.”
Cas doesn’t reach under the bathwater right away. He teases, running his hands over Dean’s shoulders and chest until Dean is shivering. Only then does he stoop down and close his hand around Dean’s cock. It takes nearly no time at all for Dean to orgasm under the water, clay in Cas’ hands. No one’s ever made him so desperate before, so in need of attention.
Cas unplugs the bath, then, and lets the water drain. He offers a towel to Dean and helps him dry, and offers clothes for him to borrow. “They’re Gabriel’s…but,” he shrugs, “not a mess.”
Clean and redressed, Castiel has a private car pull around to the front of the manor. He pulls Dean into the backseat. There, they kiss and joke, laughing the entire stretch of road to the Harvelle corner market. Dean reaches to exit the vehicle, but Cas shakes his head – they wait for the driver to come around and open the door for them.
“Well,” Dean says, “Goodbye.”
“I’ll see you again, Dean,” Castiel replies, and smiles.
Dean laughs a little and says, “Yeah. Enjoy your plane, fly boy.”
The driver closes the door and climbs back into the front of the vehicle. Dean waves, and watches it rolls away from the corner shop. He only turns to head inside when the car is completely out of sight, around the bend, back on its way to the manor.
Four faces greet Dean as the bell above the door rings to announce his entrance.
“Business, huh?” Bobby pries.
“Where’s the Studebaker?” asks Sam.
“You’re carrying one helluva torch, son,” Ellen remarks.
“All right, all right,” Dean says, “I’ve had an earful.”
“Seems to me you and that Thompson are goofy for each other, from the looks of it,” Bobby goes on regardless.
Goofy? Come on. A crush, sure. But love?
“It’s just a little fun,” Dean says, and when Sam opens his mouth to speak again, Dean holds up a hand, “End of discussion. I’m going upstairs to changes out of this ridiculous suit.”
Protest aside, the days pass in relative bliss. Cas comes to Winchester Bros every time on business but they leave for pleasure. Sam isn’t surprised when he sees Castiel in the mornings anymore, and on Friday morning even makes their coffee (though Dean adds the four spoons of sugar in Cas’ cup before he delivers it). There’s a strange peace to the routine, at least there’s peace until Dean wakes on Saturday morning and realizes that he owes Crowley two thousand dollars today and he doesn’t have it.
He herds Cas out of the apartment despite protests, and insists that it’ll be fine, that he doesn’t need Castiel’s money. He doesn’t. This is his burden. It doesn’t belong to anybody but him, not even Sam. Sure, Sammy co-owns the speakeasy, but Dean’s always been in charge of finances.
Dean lends Ellen and Jo a hand in the shop to keep his mind occupied, helping balding men find hair tonics and shifty-eyed teenagers buy Jamaican Ginger.
“Between you and me,” Dean advises when he takes their money, “You best not drink that straight.”
“Look, mister, I’m no Dumb Dora,” the girl buying it says.
“Doll, I’m just sayin’. Don’t take any wooden nickels,” Dean says.
She rolls her eyes at him, and she and her friends exit the store. Hell, whatever. A sale is a sale.
And as the evening rolls in, Dean pops his neck behind the market counter and thinks briefly that perhaps Crowley changed his mind. But the play at safety is, indeed, brief. The glass in the shop’s front window shatters. Dean immediately ducks low under the counter – gunfire. He fumbles for the trench gun that Ellen keeps stowed beneath the counter. He primes her and leans back up for an instant to fire a shot.
Then the bullets cease.
“Dean, Dean, Dean,” he hears Crowley’s familiar accent, and the sound of his expensive patent-leather shoes crunching on shattered glass echoes in the stark silence, “I know you’re there.”
Dean surfaces, but keeps the trench gun close and visible.
“Dean,” Crowley clucks, “I have twenty guys just outside. You can’t win this one. So, you have a few options, sweetheart. You can pay me, but I suspect that you don’t intend to. Or, you could come quietly with me, and I’ll leave this little…place alone. Or, you may shoot me – my men have orders to blow this place away should you choose that one.”
Dean swallows the knot in his throat.
Sammy’s just upstairs, studying for exams to get him into a university, a real school.
He told Ellen and Jo to go out to diner down the way and bring him back a burger. They can’t come back to their market in flames, not when they’ve been so kind and trusted him so much.
And the joint, God, she is his love (Second only to his Studebaker).
“Fine,” Dean agrees, and he releases the trench gun.
Crowley’s lips twist into something like a smile and he remarks, “Good. Come along, then.”
Dean follows, resigned, to where Crowley’s men stand, impeccably dressed and each more scary-looking than the last. These are not the kind of people whose bad side he should be on. And boy, he is on it. Crowley prods Dean toward one of the long string of shiny cars with the demon head of his cane. Dean slides into the leather interior, and Crowley follows, grim-faced.
They drive out of the way of buildings, away from the electric lights and shops. Dean knows they’re not on the way to Crowley’s joint when they turn off toward one of the locked-up distilleries collecting dust on the outskirts of town and pull around to the back. Figures he’d own one of these places, though how he keeps it quiet, Dean doesn’t know.
A huge man, big six for sure, opens the door to the car. When Dean exits, he clamps his enormous, meaty hand onto his shoulder and guides him toward the dimly-light back door to the distillery. Smart move. If Dean wanted to run for it, he would have tried then. Instead, he marches obediently inside, surrounded by suits and guns on all sides.
Barrels upon barrels line the walls, stacked one on top of another on sturdy wooden frames. Shiny, dust-free equipment follows it.
Crowley leads. With each thud of his cane against the floor, Dean’s heart beats faster. No way he’s getting out of this one. He’s slipped out of helluva lot, but not this. This is permanent. Sam will have to take charge, have to pay Crowley off. Have to soldier through by himself.
Shit, shit, shit.
Dean can’t see what Crowley has planned until he swings around with nothing more than a simple, wooden kitchen chair in hand.
“Take a seat, Dean,” Crowley says.
Dean grins and replies, “No thank you, I am just ducky right here.”
Crowley rolls his eyes skyward and then snaps his fingers, only once. Big Six shoves Dean forward and forces him down onto the chair. Another one of the men, a slender, pointed man, pulls a pair of handcuffs from the inside of his jacket and, as Big Six wrenches Dean’s arms back, slaps them on his wrists.
“Shall we show him how we treat our enemies, boys?” asks Crowley, voice hardly above the threshold of hearing.
Big Six cracks his knuckles. In the dim light, Dean sees something glint on his fist, and the bottom drops out of his stomach. Brass knuckles. Oh, yeah, that’s bad news. Dean squeezes his eyes shut. He can feel Big Six loom closer.
He feels the impact all the way to the bones in his toes. Blood breaks free immediately, flowing over the left side of his face. Dean’s head sings opera. Something’s broken, but what the hell, shouldn’t matter, should it? He’ll be dead within the hour. Dean wonders now, under the burn of his face, if he should have taken Castiel up on his offer of a loan.
Ah, well. Hindsight.
Big Six slams his fist into Dean’s face again, and this time Dean yells, a hoarse cry that tears from his throat with anguish. It hurts to hear his own sob, to feel the salt of his tears sting his wounds, and know that this is the beginning. He doesn’t know yet what else Crowley has planned for him.
Big Six takes a break after a third punch, but in his place step three of the others. Dean can’t see out of his swollen left eye, but shit, one has a baseball bat. When it slams against Dean’s shoulder, he screams again. Ribs, shoulders, legs – and then Pointy steps up with a sly grin, and stomps in between Dean’s legs with the heel of his boot. If Dean weren’t already sobbing, he’d have started then.
He just wishes he could have gotten through this without shedding a single tear. Without showing Crowley any hint of weakness.
“Tired, yet, Dean?” Crowley asks.
Dean spits blood onto the ground and lets out a garbled, bloody laugh through his tears, “Go to hell.”
“Haven’t you realized?” Crowley says, “You’re already there.”
Crowley lifts his cane and strokes the right side of Dean’s face with the ruby-eyed demon head. Without pause, he draws it back, and slams it into the side of Dean’s skull. Dean sputters, and Crowley presses the demon into the center of his chest. He knocks Dean onto his back, still handcuffed to the chair.
The wind vanishes from Dean’s lungs, and he gasps for breath.
Crowley rests the end of his cane on Dean’s throat and murmurs, “It was a pleasure knowing you. I can’t wait to bring Sammy to visit, too.”
The cane lifts, but as Crowley holds it in midair, a BANG sounds. The distillery’s door vaults across the ground and skitters to a stop just beside Dean, one side splintered. Gunfire sounds. One by one, Crowley’s men begin to fall, initially too stunned to react. Crowley only has time to brandish a pistol from his jacket.
Though Dean’s vision swims, it’s clear who stands over the bullet-ridden gangsters. It’s Castiel, scowl so terrifying it sends Dean’s heart faster. In his hands is a Tommy, on his head is his aviator cap and goggles, black hair sticking out of the sides.
“I will show you mercy where you showed him none,” Cas says, “but I will still make you hurt.”
Castiel shoots. He doesn’t aim for the heart or head, but for Crowley’s legs. Immediately, Crowley crumples onto the floor, blood leaking from his legs. Castiel tosses the gun onto the floor and with his right hand on Dean’s left arm, he heaves him up over his shoulders, and carries him outside.
There, American Angel waits for them.
“Just breathe, Dean,” Cas commands, and loads him into the back seat of the plane. He slides the leather cap on Dean’s head and hurts, God it hurts, as it scrapes over wounds. But Cas murmurs reassurances, slipping goggles into place.
When they take to the air, Dean knows that he is safe.
A headache pounds through him. His whole body feels like it’s been flayed, like instead of having an arm stuck in factory machinery, his whole body went through, stabbed and prodded and severed – but if he’s feeling all this, does that mean he’s alive? Dean shifts, and feels against his heated skin the pull of soft sheets and an even softer mattress under his back. He registers one thing at a time: the smell of clean laundry, cloth bandages wrapped around his head, a blanket tucked over most of him, and finally the sounds of voices.
Dean groans and opens his right eye – even if he could open the left, it’s bandaged over.
“Sammy?” he rasps. He feels like he hasn’t used his voice in years, like he’s forgotten how it works.
That’s Sam’s voice. A particularly large blur comes into focus.
“Sam,” Dean repeats, relieved, “Where the hell are we?”
“Gabriel Thompson’s manor,” Sam answers, “Castiel brought you here. Doctor’s here, too. Says we shouldn’t move you for a while, so Gabriel put you up here.”
“Cas?” Dean says dumbly.
“I’m here, too,” Castiel replies, and steps forward beside Sam, arms folded over his chest.
“Bobby and Ellen and Jo are here,” Sam adds, “They’re downstairs. Gabriel offered them coffee.”
“Coffee sounds nice,” Dean murmurs.
“No coffee for you, son,” he hears, and a tall man in a long white coat pushes past Cas and Sam to stoop and examine him, “Your body can’t handle it, I’m afraid. I am suggesting tea instead.”
“To hell with tea.”
“Well, that’s how it’s gotta be,” the doctor replies, “and fruits and vegetables with every meal. You’ll recover, but your vision won’t be what it used to be. I’m prescribing you a pair of glasses.”
“You’re makin’ me wear cheaters?” Dean complains.
“No one will force you, but you won’t be permitted to drive without them.”
“Isn’t that just swell?” Dean snarks.
“Dean,” Sam says, “You’re lucky to be alive, you stupid sap.”
Castiel hesitates for a second, but then sits at the edge of the bed. It’s then that Dean realizes the bed is in fact the bed that belongs to Cas at Gabriel’s manse, that Cas brought him here, to his own bedroom, first. Neither Sam nor the doctor comment when Cas runs his fingers over Dean’s hair, just lightly, like he’s afraid that he’ll hurt him if his touch feels any heavier than that of a ghost.
“I’ll have tea sent up,” Cas tells him, and when he sees that Dean is on the verge of protest, he adds, “Black tea. I’ll have them make it strong.”
Dean would rather get his way than compromise, but Cas looks so serious. He wants to be annoyed at everyone’s concern, but his lungs burn and his sides ache and his brain feels like it’s trying to escape from his skull. So he just nods, and decides not to say anything.
A little over ten minutes later, the doctor has gone, but left instructions with both Sam and Castiel on Dean’s care. Ellen, Bobby, Jo and Gabriel all come up to peep in on him. Bobby fusses more than any of the rest of them together (“Damn it, boy, you’re a mess,” and “Let me make sure these bandages are right.”), though Cas doesn’t budge from his place on the mattress, even when a maid with a tea tray arrives – Sam takes it from her and pours a cup for Dean. He drinks it and doesn’t complain, though more than tea or anything else, he needs water.
Gabriel puts Sam up in a nearby room at Castiel’s request, and despite Dean’s irritation with his brother his presence nearby is like a balm, and he is soothed by it.
Cas remains behind to care for him.
“Crowley’s been transported to a hospital,” he says quietly, “but he’s set to go on trial as soon as he recovers.”
“Perhaps this is a little strange…” Cas begins, and then kilters off. He studies Dean with a masked expression, and then goes on, “You – I – I don’t feel much toward many people, but I…you are baffling, Dean. We’ve known each other for barely a week and a half, but it’s as though I’ve known you forever. Is that silly?”
Dean shakes his head.
Cas babbles on, “I know that sounds like a line, but –”
“Fly boy,” Dean says, and Cas quiets, “Hush up now and kiss me, will you? I love you.”
“Sure do,” Dean interrupts, “Now level with me here, fly boy. You think you might love me too?”
“I know I love you,” Cas replies. He leans over, resting his hand against Dean’s cheek to push a soft kiss against his mouth. Warmth spreads through Dean. Like a quack’s elixir the pain seems to numb and fade, just enough for Dean to lift his arms and hold Castiel against him, and kiss him harder.
When Cas pulls away Dean chuckles hoarsely and remarks, “Well ain’t that just the cat’s meow?”
Castiel laughs, too.