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[personal profile] dauntperplexity
Title: Never Leave the Past Behind
Author: dauntperplexity
Rating: R
Genre: AR, hurt/comfort
Characters and/or Pairing: Caleb, Dean/Castiel
Spoilers: none
Warnings: Torture, possible implied non-con, child abuse
Word Count: ~9000
Summary: This was the closest thing Dean was every going to have to a relationship. He talked to Castiel at least once a week, and saw him much less than that. But he was okay with that. They were both broken. And they fit.
Author’s Note: So, this definitely was difficult to write. Especially with my computer out of commission for a month. I just wanted to get this posted before the amnesty period for the challenge was over. I read it over a couple of times, but for the most part, it is unbeta’d. I will go over it again to clean it up. I hope you enjoy.
Author’s Note #2: The art was done by tiggeratl1. I will link it as soon as possible. :)



When Bobby told Dean that there was a hunt in Illinois, the hunter was happy to take it. John, on the other hand, was reluctant to let his son go on a hunt alone. Dean argued that since he was old enough to legally drink, he was old enough to hunt on his own. John argued that since he was old enough to legally drink, he might show up to a hunt drunk.

Dean knew better than to drink on the job. He was ready to agree with his dad to find someone to hunt with, but Bobby and Caleb argued on the side of the young hunter. John agreed if Caleb went along to oversee.

Dean agreed since he and Caleb had this agreement that Caleb would just spend all of his time at the bar and wait for Dean to need his help.

The two of them drove out as soon as they could. As much as Dean wanted someone else to do the research part of the hunt for him, he wanted this to be his first actual solo hunt. After three days of reading up on locations and other happenings in the town, he found a place to look. He also found out that what he was hunting were demons.

Dean drove to the location while Caleb waited at the bar close, yet far, enough just in case Dean needed him. Dean guaranteed Caleb he could handle it. He pulled up to a house that was isolated from all of the other houses in the area.

All of the lights were off except for one room on the second floor. He made his way into the house after he salted all of the windows and doors.

He walked into the house and heard more than one voice. Dean contemplated leaving and getting Caleb to come back, but what he heard one of the men say made him stay.

“He’s beautiful, isn’t he,” one man hissed.

“He bled a lot more than he usual,” another replied.

“He’s not moving, is he?”

“Emmanuel,” the first man said in a sing-song voice. “Wake up, please.”

“That is a lot of blood.”

“We might have gone a little overboard today.” He paused for a moment. “Or a lot. I don’t think he’s breathing. Emmanuel. Your father wants you to wake up."

Dean had enough. He stormed into the room, his shotgun ready. He shot the two closest demons in the chest. He saw the last demon standing over the bed where a boy was tied to it.

"And you are?" the demon asked.

Dean quickly reloaded the shotgun and pointed it at the demon's chest. "Step away from him."

"If you know what's good for you, boy, you will leave us to what we were doing."

"Can't do that." He shot the man in the chest. As soon as the man was far enough from the boy, he pulled the exorcism out of his pocket and began reading from it. He had to stop when one of the men stood up again and tried to jump at him. He reloaded his gun as he kept reading.

One by one, the demons started screaming and leaving their meatsuits. Finally, the screaming stopped, and all of the bodies had hit the floor. Dean went to each body, searching for a pulse he knew he wasn't going to find. He wondered how long the bodies had been dead.

He shook his head. He got the bad guys. He could consider his first solo hunt a success.

He didn't feel that way the moment he looked at the bed and saw the bloodied mess on it.

The demons had tied up the naked boy in some messed up form of a crucifixion. His arms were tied to the bedposts. His feet were tied together, then tied to the foot of the bed. His back was bloodied and carved up. Dean could have sworn that the design looked like wings.

Dean thought the same thing the demons were talking about when he walked in. The boy wasn't moving. He didn't even look like he was breathing. "Shit,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry, dude.”

He felt sick. The boy looked to be about Sam’s age. Maybe even a little younger, but he couldn’t be sure. Especially when it looked like this boy wasn’t treated well. Dean swallowed down whatever feelings threatening to come up. He didn’t even know this boy, but he felt like crying at the torture he was forced to endure at the hands of demons.

Instead of pulling out his knife and cutting the ropes that bound the boy to the bed, he took the time to untie the knots by hand. Once there was nothing tying the boy down, Dean flipped him over. As soon as he did, he regretted it. The boy’s front was covered in bruises and he was so thin Dean could see his ribs. “Shit,” he whispered.

Dean was about to lay the boy down when he let out a sound that was something between a whimper and a sigh. Dean’s eyes widened as he jumped off the bed. “Holy shit,” he said. The boy was still alive.

“N-no…” the boy whispered. The boy shivered, probably from blood loss. “No more,” he whimpered.

Dean immediately rushed to the boy’s side. “Hey, hey, you’re safe.” He kept enough space between them, not wanting to crowd him.

The boy looked like he was about to say something, but he ended up coughing instead.

Dean closed the distance between them and put a hand on the small of the boy’s back. “Sh…” he whispered. “Just breathe. In and out. You’re okay.” He rubbed his hand back and forth, trying to avoid the cuts on his back. He winced when he felt the bumps of old scars under his palm.

Dean found himself getting angry at the demons for causing this boy so much pain. It had to have been going on for years by the looks of the scars. He was pissed at himself for just exorcising them and not killing them.

After what felt like hours, even though it was probably only a couple of minutes, the boy calmed down. His eyes closed again, and Dean’s hand immediately went to the boy’s neck, searching for a pulse. He was relieved when he found one. The boy was probably sleeping.

Dean was surprised the boy had the strength to even wake up. He checked the boy's pulse one more time, then he climbed off of the bed. He dragged the bodies out of the room. Dean was not about to let the boy wake up and see his torturers dead on the ground. He had been through enough.

Dean was about to take the bodies downstairs and dispose of them the hunter way when he looked back at the boy. He shook his head and stayed in the room. He didn't know why--it was probably the protective streak in him--but he didn't want to be too far when the boy woke up.

Dean knew what he had to do. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number to the nearest hunter to him. "Caleb?” he whispered when the other hunter answered the phone.

"Dean? What’s wrong?" Caleb immediately asked.

"I need a clean up crew."

Caleb scoffed at the request. "No way, man. You learn this as a solo hunter. You make a mess, you clean it up."

"Caleb. Please." Dean wasn't the type of person to beg, but he felt that he needed to for this boy's sake. "I need a clean up crew."

"Dean. You gotta talk to me, man."

"It’s just…" Dean ran a hand down his face, glancing at the sleeping boy. "There’s a boy here. And he’s hurt. And I can’t leave him." Dean knew Caleb would understand what he meant by boy. He'd automatically make the connection to the youngest Winchester. All the hunters in their web knew how much Dean cared about his younger brother and they knew that sometimes Dean became too invested when kids were involved.

"Okay. Okay. I’ll be right there."

"Thanks, Caleb," he said, grateful to the hunter. "And uh… bring your kit too, please?"

"Is it bad?"

"I… I don’t know." He had his own kit in the back of his car, but it had nowhere near the amount of supplies he'd need for the boy. "Hurry? Please?" he whispered, then hung up.

Dean went back to the bed and sat on the edge of it. He wanted to do so much more for the boy, but he looked peaceful enough in his sleep. He sighed and ran a hand down his face. This wasn't okay. He didn't want to find something like this on his first solo hunt.

Dean wasn't sure how long it was later, but the boy stirred on the bed. Dean didn't move or say anything, even though he was sure that he should have probably stopped the boy from moving with all of the injuries on him.

The boy slowly opened his eyes. His bright blue eyes locked onto Dean's green ones. "Hello," he whispered with a raspy voice. It probably sounded that way because of all the screaming the demons did while they were hurting him. He tried to push himself up into a sitting position.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Dean said. "Don't move, dude."

"I'm okay," he repeated. He really wasn't as he collapsed back onto the bed. He shivered on the mattress, watching Dean. "Are you one of them?" he asked, looking like he was preparing himself for pain.

Dean shook his head. "No way," he replied, offended. "I..." He brought a hand up to scratch the back of his head. He had no clue where to start on the reveal of what happened. "They can't hurt you again."

Dean knew the boy had no reason to believe him, so he was quite surprised when he nodded. "Thank you," the boy whispered.

And there it was; the reason why Dean called his hunt successful. The gratitude made it worth it. "You're welcome, kid," he said. Then he shook his head. He couldn't keep calling the boy dude and kid. "Hey. What's your name?" he found himself asking. He knew it probably wasn't the best idea because he knew there was a greater chance that he'd become attached. Some part of Dean knew that was already too late.

"My... my father calls..." He let out a shaky breath and shook his head. "Called me Emmanuel."

That was a weird way of putting it. "Is that your real name?" he asked.

The boy shook his head against his pillow. “No,” he whispered. “It’s not.”

“You want to tell it to me?” He kept his tone soft, gentle. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” he replied. He looked at his watch, wondering what was taking Caleb so long.

“My mother named me Castiel,” he answered. “Castiel James Novak.” He scooted closer to the larger man. He wasn’t even sure if he could keep him safe, but Castiel was craving comfort.

“Castiel, huh?” he said, testing the name. He reached up and brushed Castiel’s hair out of his face. “That’s a cool name. Mine is way too damn plain. I’m Dean,” he introduced. “Dean Winchester.” He winced when he realized that he gave the boy his real name. That wasn't exactly hunter protocol.

“Nice to meet you,” he replied.

“Same,” Dean replied. He kept his hand in Castiel’s hair. “So, Castiel. I think you might need a hospital.”

"No!" Castiel replied. He tried to push himself off his bed. "I'm okay. I'm okay."

Dean's eyes widened. He put a hand on Castiel's shoulder to push him back onto the bed. "Castiel," Dean said quickly. "Cas. Stop." He had no idea where the nickname came from, but Castiel's full name had way too many syllables. "No hospital, okay?" he whispered. "I hate them, too. I'll patch you up." He was glad Caleb was bringing his kit too. He would be able to take care of all the wounds with what he had in the back of his car.

Castiel looked up at Dean and smiled softly at him. "Thank you. Dean. Thank you," he whispered.

"No problem, Cas." He reached up and put a hand on the back of Castiel's neck. He squeezed it lightly. "So, why don't you just get some sleep? I'll be here cleaning up."

"You won't leave?" he whispered.

"I won't leave." It felt like a promise he would die before not keeping. He began massaging Castiel's neck to relax him. "So, why don't you sleep? When you wake up, this place will be cleaned up, your back should be patched up, and--"

"And you'll be gone," Castiel added. He could tell Dean wasn't one to stay in one place for very long.

"I said I'd stay, Cas."

"Yes, you did," Castiel replied. "But for how long?"

"Until you're better," Dean replied before he could stop himself.

"That might take a long time," he whispered.

"I'm staying until I know you're okay," he replied. Dean's attention was focused solely on Castiel that he didn't hear someone enter the room. That would have been really bad if it was another demon.

"Dean?"

Dean turned around, putting a hand on Castiel's shoulder to show that the newcomer was a friend. "Caleb, hey." He looked at the older hunter. He stood up and grabbed the first aid kit out of his hands. "Thanks." He saw Caleb also holding the kit that was stashed in the back of the Impala. "You're the best, Caleb."

Caleb nodded. "I'll start burning the bodies," he said. He looked around Dean and to the bed. "He's awake."

"Yeah." He was still surprised at that.

"Okay. Well, do everything you can. When I'm done, I'll set up fix up whatever you couldn't. Then we'll be out of here."

"No," Dean replied quickly. "I can't leave just yet."

"Dean." Caleb could see that Dean was already attached to the boy.

"I promised him I'd stay, Caleb." He stared into the hunter's eyes. "I don't break my promises. You know that."

Caleb sighed, running his hand down his face. He cared about Dean as if he were his younger brother. "Fine. I won't call this in as a finished hunt. Not yet. But do not get attached," he warned. "That is not a part of the job."

"Fine. Whatever." He looked over his shoulder and saw Castiel falling asleep. "If you need my help, you'll know where to find me," he said.

Caleb left with just a nod.

Dean sat down on the edge of Castiel's bed. He couldn't help but admire how peaceful Castiel looked in his sleep, even though his body was in so much pain. He brushed Castiel's hair out of his eyes and smiled when Castiel leaned into the touch. He left his hand in Castisel's hair for a few minutes before he started pulling out what he'd need to patch up Castiel's back.

In cleaning up Castiel’s body, Dean saw a few weird wounds on it. First were the wounds on his wrists and feet, then the tiny scars on his forehead, and last was the cut on his side. But they weren’t bleeding. Dean had heard about this before, but he didn’t believe it was possible. He thought about asking the boy about it, but stopped himself. Dean had no right. He went back to patching the wounds that actually looked like they hurt.

--------------

One more week was the longest that Dean allowed himself to stay at Castiel's house. Any longer than that and his dad would have driven down to finish the hunt for him.

In that one week, he went against Caleb's warning and became attached to Castiel. It was difficult not to. Not after cleaning up the two story house that he now had to himself. Not after cooking him three meals a day so he wasn't just skin and bones. Not after sitting in Castiel's bed every night--with a new mattress and clean sheets--listening to him talk about his life.

Castiel told him that his mom died when he was six years old. A few months later, the stigmata first appeared. It was then his dad started acting different. He started calling him Emmanuel. He took Castiel out of school. Then the demons started showing up. And the torture began. They left as soon as the wounds faded, but always showed up when they came back.

Castiel didn't know any better, and Dean hated that Castiel had to suffer for so long.

Dean found it impossible not to form a connection with the boy who was a year older than Sam, even though he looked like he was fifteen.

The connection was so deep that Dean found himself calling the boy at least once a week. They had an appointment every Thursday, 9:00 PM Castiel's time. The phone calls differed in time, ranging from ten minutes to four hours.

As much as he could, Dean tried to make it back to Illinois. It usually happened around six weeks. Sometimes less. Never more. As horrible as it sounded, Dean was all Castiel had.

--------------

Dean’s alarm went off while he was sitting at the bar with Caleb and two women trying to get them to come back to their place. Dean gave the same signal to Caleb that he always did whenever they were on a hunt together and the alarm went off.

Caleb rolled his eyes at Dean. He climbed off of his stool and walked to Dean. "Dean, come on. These girls are crazy hot," he said, trying to convince Dean to put off the call for a few minutes.

Dean shook his head. He had stood up dozens of girls before. He wouldn't do it to Castiel. "Well, if I'm gone, then you have a chance."

Caleb sighed. After three years, he had yet to convince Dean to choose hot girls over Castiel. Any other day, but Thursday, the girls would win. Of course, unless Castiel randomly called, or Dean did his random checks. "Whatever, man. Well, tell Cas that I say good luck on that testing crap and congrats on graduating." He winked at Dean, knowing how deeply he cared for the other boy, then pushed him toward the door.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Dean said. He started dialing Castiel's number before he even left the bar.

Dean went outside and walked toward his car. He wasn't about to leave Caleb, especially not knowing how long this conversation was going to last. He climbed into his baby and pressed send. He waited for Castiel to answer.

Four rings in and Castiel finally picked up. "Hey, Cas," he said when he didn't hear Cas immediately say anything.

"Dean?" Castiel replied with a yawn.

"Yeah, Dean. Who else?" Castiel sounded different. He sounded too tired. "You okay?"

"I'm fine, Dean," he replied through a yawn. "Just studying."

Dean ran a hand down his face. Whenever Castiel studied, he always neglected some other things; like food, and showering, and sleeping. "What do you have coming up?"

Castiel then answered by telling Dean about what he had coming up the next few weeks until graduation. Dean smiled, taking in every detail Castiel was giving him. He noticed only a few differences from the week before.

When Dean asked what Castiel had eaten the day before, Castiel's reply caused him to roll his eyes. He made the decision to go see him. It had been a few weeks since he'd seen Castiel and he was due for a visit.

After twenty more minutes of conversation, which Dean mostly talked about the hunt he was on, Dean hung up. Dean sat back in his seat and thought for a second. He was ready to drive off and be with Cas, but he had a hunt to think about.

He ran his hands down his face and groaned. He didn't know what to do. He tossed his phone into the passenger's seat and climbed out of the car. He walked back into the bar and saw Caleb where he left him. He walked up to his friend and put a hand on his shoulder. "I have to go," he said under his breath.

"What's the matter?" Caleb asked. He turned around and slid off the stool.

Dean sent a charming smile in the girl's direction before he walked off, leading Caleb away. "I think something's wrong with Cas."

Caleb nodded. "I can finish the hunt here." He wouldn't keep Dean from his friend. "Do you need me to come with?"

"I'm not sure yet," he replied. He'd have to see if Castiel's wounds were coming back. He would need help dealing with the demons if they came. It was ridiculous that they still tried even though demons knew that Castiel was under his protection.

"Dean." Caleb needed to be sure that Dean was thinking straight. Sometimes Dean's thoughts became clouded when he worried too fiercely about people he cared for.

Dean shook his head to stop Caleb from giving him a lecture. "Finish the hunt here, Caleb," he said. "Then I'll tell you where to meet up with me. If anything changes, I'll let you know." He looked over Caleb's shoulder and saw the girls smiling at them. He clapped a hand on the older hunter's shoulders. "They're waiting for you," he said with a laugh.

"Call me when you get there," he said. "And tell Cas I say hi." With that, Caleb went back to the women back at the bar.

Dean laughed and shook his head. He headed to his car and started the drive to Illinois.

Eight hours later, Dean pulled up into Castiel’s driveway. He frowned when he saw that Castiel’s light was still on. That meant he was awake. He looked at his watch and saw that it was almost four in the morning. He pulled out his keys and flipped to the one that opened Castiel’s front door and stepped in. “Cas?” he asked as soon as he closed the door behind him.

Dean put his duffel down as he walked around the house to make sure the wards were still in place and the house was still protected. When he saw everything in its place, he walked upstairs. “Cas?” he repeated. He slowly opened the door to Castiel’s room.

He sighed when he saw Castiel sleeping in the middle of his bed, surrounded by his textbooks. This was always like him. He walked to the bed and made sure to mark all of the pages Castiel was on and closed the books. He set them neatly on the desk in the corner of the room.

Once everything was put away, he stripped down to his boxers and shirt and climbed into bed. He spooned behind the smaller man. He wrapped his arm around Castiel's waist and pulled him against his chest. He placed a soft kiss on Castiel's shoulder. A few minutes later, Dean was fast asleep.

--------------

Dean woke up before the sun started shining through the window. He looked down and saw that Castiel was still sleeping peacefully on his chest. He reached up and combed his hair.

He lay like that until Castiel stirred on his chest. Then, he stopped.

Castiel groaned as he woke himself up from sleep. He had been tired the entire week as he finished up the final touches on his thesis. He frowned when he felt someone under that didn't feel like his books or his bed. He poked at it, and it felt familiar. He opened his eyes to find a familiar person in bed with him. "Dean?” Castiel whispered.

“Hey, Cas,” he replied. He let out a long yawn.

“You didn’t have to come all the way over here.” He did appreciate it, though. He tucked himself further into Dean’s side.

“Of course, I did. You’re pushing yourself too hard, again,” he replied.

“Finals are coming up.”

“Yeah, in like three weeks.” They laid in bed for a few minutes without saying anything. Dean was the first to speak up. “What do you want for breakfast? I’m cooking.” He leaned over and kissed Castiel on the forehead.

Castiel smiled at the kiss. To him, Dean didn’t seem like the affectionate type, but he still did simple things like that with Castiel appreciated. “Not yet,” he replied.

Dean laughed. “Of course not, Cas, but what do you want to eat whenever you do get hungry?”

Castiel thought for a moment. He usually ate the same things over and over again. He always ate well whenever Dean came over, but that was only because Dean thought he didn’t eat enough. “I still don’t know how to make pancakes.”

“Then I’ll make some pancakes.” He enjoyed being able to take care of Castiel this way. It was simple. Cooking, helping clean up his house, making sure he slept enough at night. Dean didn’t feel like it was a lot, but Castiel appreciated it. Every second. Especially since Dean was only allowed to stay two days at a time.

This was the closest thing Dean was every going to have to a relationship. He talked to Castiel at least once a week, and saw him much less than that. But he was okay with that. They were both broken. And they fit.

After a couple of minutes, Dean climbed out of bed, pulling Castiel along with him. “Let’s go. I’m starving.” He really wasn’t, but he was planning on making sure Castiel gained a few pounds and ate well before he left. Dean made sure to make a few extra meals and stash them in the fridge for Castiel to eat later in the week.

He pulled Castiel out of the room before he could grab a book to read.

--------------

Dean and Castiel spent their days the way they always did. They ate, they lounged around watching movies, and they filled each other in on what had happened in their lives in the few weeks that they had been apart.

The evening of the second day was always Dean’s favorite part. After he cooked and made sure Castiel ate enough, they’d go outside and lie in the field behind Castiel’s house. They’d stay out there until either Dean felt that it was too cold for Castiel to be outside, or until Castiel fell asleep.

Dean held Castiel tucked into his side as he stared up at the stars. He slid his hand under Castiel’s shirt when he felt him shiver. He rested his hand on the small of Castiel’s back. “You okay?” he whispered, kissing Castiel’s forehead.

Castiel wanted to lie because he knew it would have been easier for the both of them if he did, but he didn’t. “I don’t want you to leave,” he mumbled. He clutched at Dean’s waist, hugging him tightly.

“Cas,” he sighed. They had this conversation every time they were together. It would happen, without fail. And every time they had this conversation, it became that much harder for him to leave.

"Please," he whispered. His voice seemed to still echo in the open space of Castiel's backyard.

Dean felt his eyes watering. Castiel rarely asked him for anything, except this. "Cas," he repeated. That's all he could say at the moment. "What do you want me to do?" he whispered. If Castiel asked him to stay, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to deny him that request.

"I don't know," he replied. He shook his head and buried his face in Dean's neck. He reached over and clenched the front of his shirt. "I don't know," he repeated, much softer.

Dean wrapped his arm tighter around Castiel. He kissed him on his forehead again. “This sucks,” he whispered. Dean was a hunter. He was constantly on the move, yet somehow he still made some time for Castiel.

Castiel appreciated it too. He often asked Dean about going with him on hunts, but Dean was too protective and didn’t want him anywhere near the hunting life. Castiel even agreed to do the research portion for Dean.

While Dean liked the idea of that, he didn’t like the idea of dragging Castiel from town to town, or having Castiel see him beat up after hunts. Dean was desperate to protect his innocence, like he tried to do with Sam.

“It does,” Castiel replied. “But for right now, it works.” Sadly.

“Cas. I want you to have a normal life.”

“My life hasn’t been normal since I was six years old, Dean.”

Dean huffed. That was the wrong thing to say. “You know what I mean, Cas.”

“I do.” He sighed and snuggled closer into the larger man. “In a year or two. If I can’t do normal, I’m coming with you.”

“Cas...”

“Please, Dean. At least give me that.”

“Okay. Okay.” Dean never could argue with Castiel. And two years did sound like long enough for Castiel to figure out what he wanted. “But it’s two to three years.”

Castiel nodded on Dean’s shoulder. “Two to three.”

They stayed outside for a few more hours before Dean felt Castiel’s skin become too cold for him to keep warm with just his body heat. He picked up the smaller man in a bridal carry and took him back inside. He carried him all the way up to Castiel’s room.

Dean kissed Castiel on his temple as he kept his hand on the small of the other boy's back when he set him on his feet. "Why don't you go change and we'll get some sleep," he whispered.

Castiel nodded, unable to deny Dean. He grabbed his pajamas and went to the bathroom to change. Dean had seen him naked when they first met, but he was still embarrassed of the scars left on his body. As he changed, he looked down at his wrist and saw it. The wound was forming. He began shaking. It was happening again.

Castiel could have easily used the situation to make Dean stay, but he wasn't selfish. He wouldn't take Dean away from hunting. He swallowed as he put on his long sleeved shirt. It would cover the wounds. The ones on his forehead and would be the last to show, so Dean would be long gone by then.

Castiel changed out of his jeans then walked back into his room. He smiled softly at Dean as he climbed into bed. On these days, Castiel slept as close to the edge of the bed as possible. It was because he didn't want to wake up when Dean slid out from under him to leave. It was always easier to just sleep through it.

Dean hated it. He hated being so far away from Castiel. This always happened. And whenever Castiel fell asleep, he always scooted forward to sleep pressed up against Castiel's back. He always slipped away without without waking the other boy up. "I'm sorry, Cas," he whispered, still far away from the other boy.

Castiel shook his head, not accepting the apology. "You don't have to say that, Dean. This is your job. Your life. You were doing this way before you met me," he whispered. He let out a shaky breath and pulled the covers up to his chin. His shaking was less noticeable that way. "Good night, Dean. I'll see you at my graduation, right?"

"Of course, Cas," he replied. Like hell he'd miss that. "Good night."

Three hours later, Castiel woke up with Dean's hand on his hip. Dean was still there. He grabbed Dean's wallet on the nightstand, and the ticket he had for Dean. He put it in behind his bills then went back to sleep.

Six hours later, when Castiel woke up to use the bathroom, Dean was gone. He felt a small sense of relief. That means Dean didn't see his injuries. He closed his eyes and fell back asleep. He had a class at eight in the morning.

-------------

Over the next few weeks, Dean and Castiel had to keep their conversations to a minimum. Dean was on hunt after hunt and Castiel had to worry about finals. They were able to keep their once a week appointments, but that was usually where most of their conversations took place.

The week of Castiel's graduation came and Dean had convinced Caleb to do all of his hunts for the next two weeks. It wasn't much convincing on Dean's part. Caleb cared about Castiel. Not the same way that Dean did, but enough that he knew what the two of them meant to each other. Caleb had seen how Dean was a lot less reckless because of Castiel, and that was a good thing as a hunter. He'd need to thank the boy eventually. He gave Dean a small box as a gift for Castiel. With a punch of the arm, he sent Dean off.

Dean nodded and drove off toward Castiel's house. He pulled out his cell phone wanting to talk to Castiel on the drive there. He knew Castiel would have the time since he was out of school. He put the phone on speaker and put it on his lap after he turned down the music.

He waited for Castiel to pick up the phone.

When the phone rang enough to go to voicemail, Dean frowned. That wouldn't have happened unless Castiel was sleeping. He set the phone next to him and waited for the inevitable call back that would happen in the next ten minutes.

When Castiel didn't call back in his within his window, Dean called him again. That never happened before. Again, the phone went to voicemail and now Dean was worried. He stepped on the gas and sped to Castiel's house, waiting for the call to tell him that Castiel was all right.

The call never came.

Dean became worried. He called Castiel every thirty minutes. "Cas, you better be at a graduation practice or something. There better be a damn good reason why you aren't answering my calls."

He hung up the phone and flung it across the car. He kept speeding toward Castiel's house. He arrived there almost an hour before schedule. Castiel's car was in the driveway. He ran out of his car and to the front door.

"Cas!" Dean yelled, almost resorting to kicking down the door instead of using the key. Neither was necessary as the front door was already open. "Cas!"

The house was tossed. He began to panic. He ran around the house for a clue to where Castiel could have been. He began to think the worst.

He was about to call his dad, or Caleb, or someone for backup. Right as he was about to dial his dad's number, his phone rang in his hand. Castiel's name flashed on the screen. He answered it and held the phone to his ear. "Cas, where are you?" he asked. He just needed to hear Castiel's voice and everything would be okay.

After two minutes of silence, Dean looked at his phone to see if Cas hung up. The timer was still going. "Cas? Come on, tell me where you are."

"That would be a little difficult since I'm trying to keep our location secret."

Dean's blood ran ice cold. That wasn't Castiel. "You son of a bitch," he growled. "Where. Is. Cas."

"Oh, Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean," the man on the other line said in a sing-song voice. "Why would I tell you where he is when my entire reason for taking him is to keep him away from you?"

"Keep him away from me? Cas is my friend,” Dean said. He had to keep his breathing even. He was ready to kill someone. Or something.

"Oh, Dean. You know that you and little Castiel are so much more than friends." The man laughed. "It's so much more exciting to come after him now, especially knowing that the Great Dean Winchester cares about him."

"You want me, come get me. But you let Cas go." Dean ran his hand down his face. Castiel wasn't at the house and Dean was wasting time just standing there listening to this douchebag. "Where are you?" he growled again.

The man on the other line laugh. "Come find me, Dean. We'll be waiting." He hung up before Dean could say anything else.

The first person Dean wanted to call was his dad. He was the best hunter he knew, and if
anyone could track the demons that took Castiel, it would be him.

Dean didn't even move to dial the number. He couldn't ask his dad for help. Not about
Castiel. Because his dad didn't know who Castiel was. John just believed that Castiel was
this girl Cassie that he'd met in Ohio a few months back. Dean wasn't going to correct him.

But if John found out that Dean was sneaking off to meet Castiel, then John would never
let Dean go off on his own again. Dean would not let that happen.

Instead, he called Caleb.

Caleb answered after three rings. "Dean?" He was surprised. He was on a hunt states away when Dean left.

"Demons have Cas. I don't know where they took him," he replied.

"I'm coming," Caleb said without hesitation. "You better wait for me and don't to
anything stupid."

"Well, you better get the fuck over here," he whispered. He was close to going crazy.
He needed someone to help him focus. Usually it was Sam, but he was gone. He couldn't
turn to his dad. Not for this. And Castiel was the one who was taken. He ran a hand down
his face. "Caleb," he said, swallowing hard.

"I'll be there soon, Dean," Caleb said, trying to calm the young hunter down. "He'll be
fine. They aren't stupid enough to mess with someone you care about."

"They obviously are, Caleb." He let out a shaky breath. "Get your ass over here. Please."
With that, he hung up the phone before Caleb could hear his voice cracking.

--------------

Dean was at his wits end by the time Caleb arrived. “Please tell me you have something,” he said when he stepped out of Castiel’s house and to Caleb’s truck.

Caleb hating seeing the younger hunter panic so much. He knew he’d have to pull rank to make sure Dean didn’t fall apart. Caleb grabbed his bag and headed toward the house Dean just left. “Dean. Get your ass in there. You need to focus.”

Dean nodded. He was glad that Caleb was there. He was ready to kill someone. “Okay.” He ran a hand down his face. “Okay.” He followed Caleb into the house. “But seriously. I need to find him.”

“We’re gonna find him, Dean,” he said, pulling the younger hunter in. “So. I called Bobby. He said there’s been some demonic activity in Indiana. Not too far from here. You want to head out?”

Dean swallowed hard. He couldn’t trust himself to make any big decisions right now. “Whatever you think is best, Caleb. I can’t... I can’t right now.”

Caleb grabbed Dean by the front of his shirt and pushed him up against the door. “Dean. Listen to me. You’re a good hunter. I know you’re scared for Cas, but you need to keep it together.” He stared at the boy, trying to sound and look like John.

Dean nodded slowly. “Okay,” he replied. He pushed Caleb away then ran a hand down his face. “Thanks, Caleb.” He needed that. He looked around the room. He already had his things packed up, ready to leave if he needed to. “Let’s go to Indiana.”

“Let’s go,” Dean was already in the Impala. “I’m taking lead.” There was no questioning it. It would give Dean time to focus if he just followed.

They arrived in the town Bobby led them to hours later. Right when they pulled up to the motel, Bobby called them. Caleb answered it.

Dean waited impatiently off to the side while Caleb talked to the elder hunter. “Well?” he asked when Caleb hung up and started walking toward him.

“Bobby told me that a bunch of hunters were tracking some demons to this state. Something is happening here, Dean. I don’t know if we’re walking into a trap.”

“I don’t give a damn, Caleb. If those are the same demons who have Cas, then they’re fucking using him as bait.” He needed to calm down again. He felt his anger rising. “They’re hurting him. I know they are. I can’t leave him to that.”

Caleb knew Dean was going to say that. “Okay,” he said. “Bobby said some hunters tracked the demons to an abandoned elementary school a few miles from here. More hunters are on their way, but they don’t know about Cas. If you want, we can just get Cas out of there and leave them to the cleanup.”

“No,” he growled. He needed to send a message. People didn’t mess with him. People didn’t touch Castiel. And the fact that demons knew to use Castiel to get to him wasn’t okay.

“Fine,” Caleb replied. He knew that would change depending on the condition they found Castiel in. “Lets go.” He stepped over to the Impala. He knew that Dean wouldn’t want to drive if Castiel was hurt.

Dean got into the car without a word and drove. He really hoped this was where they were keeping Castiel, because if it wasn’t, he had no idea where else to look.

They arrived at the school a few minutes later. Yeah, Dean sped, but he didn’t care. Cops would be the last thing stopping him from getting Castiel back. He stepped out of the car and grabbed his shotgun. “Let’s go,” he growled.

Caleb grabbed his own gun, taking point. He knew that Dean would want to just run in, but he needed a plan. He stepped into the school, clearing each room as they advanced down the hallway.

They eventually made it to the auditorium. A feeling in both of them knew that was where they were going to find the demons. They just weren’t sure what else they were going to find behind those doors.

Caleb looked over at Dean. He could see the anger radiating off of him. “Ready?”

Dean’s only response was to kick in the door. He pointed the shotgun and was greeted with a handful of demons. By the way they were all smirking at him, he knew that this was who he was looking for. “Where is he?” he growled.

“Finally,” the demon in the middle said. “We thought you weren’t smart enough to figure out where we were.”

Dean shot off a round at the demon’s chest. He watched the demon stumble, but regain himself. “Where is he!” he yelled.

“Dean!” Caleb yelled at the younger hunter. He put a hand on Dean’s shotgun, trying to lower it. “What the hell are you doing?”

Dean pushed Caleb off and was ready to shoot the demon again. “They have Cas.” He glared at the demons in front of him.

“We do,” the demon who was shot said. He laughed as he ran his hand down his chest, covering it in blood. “But Dean. We need to talk.”

“Where. Is. Cas.” He wanted to shoot the demon again. “If you want me to talk, then we’ll talk. But I want Cas out of here.”

“But we’re talking about Cas. And you. And how destiny is a fickle thing.”

Destiny?” Dean didn’t believe in that crap. He believed in making his own way. “How is Cas supposed to be a part of my destiny?”

“Oh. How much you have yet to learn.”

“Yeah, well I always hated school.”

“Well, you better pay attention right now. Lives are at stake. Yours. Your brother’s. Your dad’s.” The demon looked over at Caleb. “That guy. All because of your little Castiel.”

“What are you talking about?” This demon had to be talking a lot of crap. There was no way that his relationship with Castiel would cause him and all the people he cared about to die.

He shook the thoughts out of his head. He couldn’t think about that. He couldn’t get distracted. Saving Castiel was the mission.

“Castiel is going to get you and your brother killed. We’ve seen the future, Winchester. We see how his presence in your life just causes you heartbreak after heartbreak.” The demon stepped toward the hunters. “If you let us keep him. Your lives will be a bit simpler.”

“Not worth it,” Dean replied. He wouldn’t leave Castiel to those demons. His life was already some shit. Whatever part Castiel played it in, it couldn’t have been bad. “Now, where is he.” He pointed his gun at a demon to the left and shot him in the chest. He opened his gun and reloaded.

The demon put his hand up to stop him. He looked to the other demons around him. “Go get him.” He looked at Caleb and smirk. “You should go get the first aid kit. Your blue-eyed boy is going to need it.” He watched the other demons leave. He turned back to Dean and smiled. “He was so brave, Dean. Didn’t even scream once.”

Dean growled. His hands clenched into fists. “You son of a bitch,” he hissed. The only thing keeping him from shooting again was the fact that he was proud of Castiel. He was a lot stronger than a lot of people gave him credit for.

He wanted to shoot the demon in the face just for the hell of it. But he needed to calm down. If Castiel saw him like this, he’d worry about Dean instead of himself.

“Dean,” Caleb whispered. He could see that Dean was close to throttling the demon. He’d step in and stop Dean, but he wouldn’t mind if Dean did.

“Go get the kit,” he growled.

“Dean.”

“Get. The damn. Kit.”

Caleb nodded. Dean used the same tone that John would use when they worked together on hunts. No room for argument. He grabbed his gun and walked back to the car.

Dean put his gun down and waited. He was nervous about what the demons could have done to his friend. The wait felt like hours.

Minutes later, the demons stepped back into the gym, dragging a body behind him. Dean’s blood ran cold. There was a lot of blood trailing behind the body. He was going to kill all of those demons.

After he made sure Castiel was okay.

He stepped forward. “Cas?” he whispered, trying to find his voice.

“He’s okay,” the demon said with a smirk. “Just a few nails in the wrists and feet here. A knife in the side there. Crown of barbed wire was a nice touch. We were only making the wounds he already had real.” He stepped toward Dean and leaned forward. “And that was after the beating.”

Dean brought the shotgun up and shot the demon in the throat. He was pissed. “Step the fuck out of the way,” he growled at the other demons.

They were much smarter than he thought since they stepped out of the way without an argument.

Dean walked over to Castiel and dropped to his knees. He looked bad. “Cas?” he whispered, reaching a shaky hand out. “You’re okay.” He was terrified to touch Castiel not wanting to cause him any more pain.

Castiel’s eyes struggled to open. “Dean?” he whispered. He reached out and took Dean’s hand in his own. “Y-you... you need to go,” he whispered.

“Not without you.”

“The demons. They said--”

“I don’t give a shit what they said, Cas.” He slid his hands under Castiel’s back and knees and picked him up.

He began walking out of the gym knowing the demons weren’t going to attack him. He knew they had their orders. They just needed to give him a message. He got it. Well, at least some of it. He was sure that they told Castiel whatever else he needed to know.

He walked down the hallway and saw Caleb walking back in with his kit. “We’re going,” he said.

Caleb looked at Dean and Castiel. “He looks bad, Dean.”

“No hospital,” they both said.

Caleb rolled his eyes. “No shit.” He reached into Dean’s pocket and took out the key to the Impala. Under usual circumstances, Dean would not have allowed him to drive, but this was completely different.

Dean climbed into the backseat of the Impala, cradling Castiel close to his chest. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

Castiel shook his head on Dean’s collar bone. “Dean... the demons said I’d--”

“Demons lie, Cas.”

Castiel’s eyes began to well up with tears. He reached up and gripped Dean’s shirt as tightly as he could with the injuries to his wrist. “I don’t want to be the reason you die.”

“Cas, shut up.”

“You have to let me go.” He tightened his grip on the shirt.

“Fuck that, Cas,” Dean whispered, his throat tight.

“Dean... I’m not worth your family.”

He felt his heart pounding against his ribcage. How was he supposed to argue with that. If the demons were telling the truth, then Sam and his dad and Caleb were going to die because of his connection to Cas. “Demons lie, Cas.” He had to convince himself of that. “I’m not leaving you. I’m not letting you go.” He didn’t care if Caleb was there to witness this chick flick moment. He needed Castiel to know that what he was saying was true.

Castiel let out a sob, burying his face in Dean’s chest. “What do we do?” he mumbled.

“The same thing we always do, Cas. We survive.” He kissed the top of Castiel’s head. “And I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

Screw the two to three years.

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August 2012

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