moonlettuce: (SPN: Misha Collins v2)
[personal profile] moonlettuce
Title: House of the Rising Sun
Author: Claire
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: ~14,000
Summary: Between the serial killer and his partner, Dean Winchester's week really can't get any worse.
Notes: Written for [personal profile] nyoka for [profile] deancas_xmas, using the prompt: SPN AU: Dean and Castiel are big city cops. I've never written an AU before and I had a brief thought about this one which somehow turned into a little over 14,000 words. Huge thanks to Aithine for the beta and for pointing out the bits that made no sense and didn't work :-)

( House of the Rising Sun - Part 1 of 2 )

House of the Rising Sun - Part 2 of 2

It's by unspoken agreement that they end up driving to Dean's, Castiel bypassing his car completely and sliding into the passenger seat next to Dean. Dean wonders if anyone's realised that Cas's car is still in the station's parking lot, left there from the first time they ended up at Dean's.

They don't touch as they walk up the two flights of stairs to Dean's floor. They could take the elevator, but it's been acting up the past few days and Dean's not in the mood to get stuck in there for three hours while they call someone out to fix the thing; he had enough of that last time. Not that being stuck in a small space with Castiel would be a hardship, but right now the call of food and bed is too tempting to ignore.

Throwing his keys onto the table next to the door once they're inside, Dean heads into kitchen and grabs the menu for the pizza place out of one of the drawers.

When he gets into the living room, Castiel's trenchcoat is already draped over the back of one of the chairs and Cas is standing in front of Dean's bookcase, studying the novels there intently.

"You wouldn't have struck me as a Vonnegut fan," he says, not turning around as he draws a finger down the spine of Cat's Cradle.

"My dad got me into them," Dean replies. He remembers spending a week out of school, tired and sick and feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. He'd picked up Dad's copy of The Sirens of Titan because it was either that or watch more TV, and there was only so much daytime TV you could watch before wanting to scoop your brains out with a spoon.

He holds out the pizza menu. "Order whatever you want so long as it doesn't have anchovies on it."

Castiel stares at the menu for long moments before reaching out, bypassing the leaflet in Dean's hand and wrapping his fingers around Dean's wrist, warm and solid.

There's a second of silence as their gazes meet, a second of silence before Castiel's lips are on his. Dean doesn't know which one of them moved first. To be honest, he doesn't actually care, he's just fucking grateful that they did.

The pizza menu floats to the floor, forgotten as they move toward the bedroom. Dean's starting to curse the amount of furniture he has in this place, especially since he seems to be walking into every fucking piece of it, unwilling to tear himself away from Castiel long enough to actually look where's going.

Their clothes litter the floor, dropped where they are as they tug them off. Jackets and shirts and Jesus, fuck, won't this belt just come off already-- all discarded as they tumble onto the bed, wriggling out of pants and socks and shoes in a way that's more than faintly undignified, but if it gets them naked, then Dean's past caring what it looks like.

Castiel's breath is hot against skin as he mouths along Dean's shoulder, his hard cock poking into Dean's back.

Dean reaches out, yanking open the bedside cabinet and rifling through the drawer. And he knows it's in here, it is, because he threw it in there last time he jerked off, and the condoms should still be in there from the last time he had someone back here. His fingers finally curling around the tube and packet he's blindly looking for, he holds them out to Castiel.

There's hesitation behind him and Dean's about to ask if he needs to draw Castiel a fucking map to his ass before Cas's fingers take the tube out of his hand. Castiel's knee nudges between Dean's thighs as there's a snap behind him, and then fingers are pressing into him, twisting as they slide inside with a slick glide.

"Now--" Dean demands, his own cock hard and throbbing as he curls his hands around the length.

Castiel's fingers give a final twist as they pull out, leaving Dean empty and open as he hears a packet tearing, leaving him empty and open as Castiel shifts away, the sound of latex against skin telling him exactly what Castiel is doing.

A kiss is pressed between his shoulder blades as something else, heavier and more insistent than fingers, presses against his ass. Castiel holds there, cockhead against Dean's ass, hot and there, until Dean pushes back, "Move--" ground out between his clenched teeth.

Dean can feel the smile against his skin as Castiel pushes forward, sliding into Dean. The burn of the stretch wilts his cock slightly. It's been a while since he's done this, a while since he was opened by the thickness of another man. Castiel stills once he's fully seated, once he's flush against Dean's ass. And Dean gets the waiting, gets the careful holding off until his body adjusts and, any other time, he thinks he'd be grateful, but right now he just needs Castiel to move, to do something.

"C'mon, Cas-- Damn it, just move--"

And Castiel obliges, his hand reaching around to cover Dean's own as he moves, covering Dean's fingers with his own as he strips Dean's cock.

It's too much and not enough and it's going to be over embarrassingly quickly because Dean's too tightly wound at the moment for it to be anything else.

Leaving Dean's hand jerking his cock, Castiel's fingers move to his balls, cupping them lightly before squeezing. And Dean can feel it, boiling in his belly and ready to fucking explode, and all he needs is--

Castiel scrapes a fingernail across Dean's balls and his cock pulses, white flashes behind Dean's eyes as come shoots over his fingers and splatters the sheets under them. Castiel stiffens behind him, hips moving in staccato thrusts as he empties himself inside Dean.

Dean breathes carefully, his heart still racing and Castiel's cock softening inside him until it finally slips out. Castiel moves back slightly and there's the quiet squeak of a condom being tied off.

"There's tissues," Dean says, grateful that Castiel gets what he means when he hears rustling and the sound of a tissue-clad condom being dropped into the trash can next to the bed. Further rustling heralds a perfunctory clean up as Castiel swipes tissues across Dean's stomach before they're discarded as well.

"You done now?" Dean asks. His entire body's loose and he can feel sleep tugging at him and it feels kinda glorious.

"Yes," Castiel replies, settling behind Dean, resting his arm across Dean's side.

"Good. Then shut up and sleep."

Castiel huffs a laugh, but his breathing starts to even out, and the only thought in Dean's head as he follows him is that they didn't get around to ordering pizza.

~

It's the smell of bacon that wakes Dean up and, for a moment, he's fifteen again and lying in bed while Dad cooks bacon and eggs and waiting until Sam gets out of the shower.

The other side of the bed is cold, so Castiel must have been up for a while. Getting out of bed, Dean grabs a t-shirt and some boxers, putting them on as he pads through to the kitchen.

Castiel is standing at the table, sausage and eggs already on plates as he flips the bacon out of the frying pan he's holding to join them.

"If you tell me you made coffee as well, I may have to marry you," Dean warns, leaning against the door jamb.

Castiel points to the pot behind him, not missing a beat. "It'll have to be in a church, my mother wouldn't settle for anything less," he replies, placing the pan back on the stove. "I scavenged in your kitchen, I hope you don't mind."

Dean shakes his head. "Not at all." He doesn’t say that it's been years since someone made him breakfast, years since someone stayed long enough for him to have breakfast with them. He likes it, likes Castiel, in his kitchen, pouring coffee and wearing just his boxer briefs and-- "Is that my shirt?"

Castiel glances down at the t-shirt, white letters declaring 'Kansas' across the front. "I seem to be making this a habit, stealing your clothes."

The Maybe you should keep some clothes here is on the tip of his tongue, but he banks down on it, even if Castiel should, even if it makes sense. "I'm sure my shirts can cope," he says instead.

"That's good, because I'll need to borrow another one to wear into work." He pauses. "Maybe one that Jo didn't give you, this time."

Dean smirks. He's pretty sure he's got at least one shirt that Jo's never seen, even if he kinda likes the idea of her recognising that Cas is wearing his clothes. Picking one of the coffee cups up, Dean leans against the counter, cradling it in his hands.

Breakfast is a more pleasant affair than Dean can remember it being in a long time. Usually he just takes enough time to grab some toast before heading out of the apartment. Granted, the sausage is kinda burnt and the bacon's a little crispy ("I said I cooked, Dean, I didn't say I cooked well--"), but the warmth of Castiel's foot against his leg more than makes up for it.

The plates go into the sink when they're done and Dean would wash them, he would, but pressing Castiel back against the counter is a much better use of his time. Leaning down, he swipes his tongue along Cas's neck, the grin at Castiel's near purr turning into a growl when the buzz of one of their cell phones vibrates through the house. "Fucking phones," Dean mutters, grimacing as Castiel sidesteps away from him to head into the living room to retrieve whichever cockblocking little bastard is ringing this time.

Dean hears the quick murmur of conversation in the other room and Castiel's already snapping the phone shut as he heads back into the kitchen, the look on his face telling Dean that the plans he had to keep Castiel in bed all morning were about to be thrown right out of the window.

"That was Lieutenant Harvelle. They got a hit on CODIS."

~

Bobby's already in Ellen's office when they walk in, holding out a folder. "Lilith Jameson," is all he says as Dean takes the folder, opening it to find several printouts inside. The first one's a copy of a driver's licence, bearing the picture of a blonde staring at a camera, eyes straight ahead and mouth slightly down-turned. The date on it is a few years ago and it reminds Dean of pretty much every licence he's seen. He can see the command to not smile and look straight into the camera in the shot, but nothing to indicate a murderer in waiting.

Flicking the licence over, he scans the other pages. "She was in an institute?"

Bobby nods. "According to hospital records there were two suicide attempts which led to her spending some time in a psych hospital."

The information they have on her ends there. He hands the folder to Castiel as he focuses back on Ellen and Bobby. "Is that all we have?"

"It's more than we had two hours ago," Ellen points out. "And it's a start."

Taking a breath, Dean nods. Ellen's right. It's a hell of a lot more than they had yesterday, they've just got to put the rest of it together. "If we--" The words trail off as Dean turns to Castiel. "Cas?"

Dean says his name again before Castiel finally lifts his head, pinning Dean with the same intense gaze he'd been staring the contents of the folder with.

Without saying a word, Castiel drops the folder onto Ellen's desk and turns, walking out of the room without a backward glance.

Shrugging at the concerned looks both Ellen and Bobby are giving him, Dean turns to go after him, hesitating as he looks back at Ellen.

"Go," she says, waving him out of her office.

Castiel's already part way down the corridor by the time Dean turns the corner. "Cas, wait!" Not that he thinks Castiel will actually stop. "Damn it," Dean mutters, breaking into a jog to catch up with his errant partner. "Cas, what the hell?"

Reaching out, Dean wraps a hand around Castiel's arm, starting slightly when Castiel jerks it away. Cas looks like he's about two steps from throwing up and Dean wants to know what's going on right the hell now. "Come on," he says, taking Castiel's arm again, just tightening his grip when the other man tries to pull away.

Leading Castiel a few more feet down the corridor, Dean opens the door to the men's room and guides Cas inside, locking the door behind them. They're the only two in there and Dean wants it to stay that way. "Okay." He lets Castiel's arm go. "Talk. Or vomit." Because Castiel looks like he's just seen a ghost, so Dean really isn't sure which of the two options he's going to go for.

Castiel ignores him, heading towards one of the sinks and running the cold water before splashing a handful on his face. "It's ridiculous. I've gone through this entire case hoping that I was wrong, that this had nothing to with him, and then this."

"Cas?"

Castiel looks at him, the harsh fluorescent lighting in the room reflecting off the blue. "Did you read the history we have on her?" Even though he was there, even though he knows Dean did.

"Yeah," Dean replies, almost dizzy at the sudden change in topic. "A couple of attempts to kill herself that got her landed in a psych ward." All things that indicated Lilith Jameson was a troubled young woman, but nothing that leapt out and screamed that she was the one, that she'd spent the last few months carrying out a set of copycat murders.

Castiel drags a hand through his hair, leaving wet strands sticking up that Dean wants to smooth down. "She was in St. Michael's in Colorado."

Dean nods. "And being in hospital is generally a good thing for people who try to kill themselves, Cas." Because if there's something there then Dean's just not seeing it.

Castiel barks a laugh, sharp and brittle, his hand slapping against the mirror over the sink. "St. Michael's isn't just any psychiatric hospital, Dean; it's the same one Luke was in."

A small spider scuttles across the floor, dancing over the cracked tiles as Dean glances down. And he sees it now. Well, fuck.

~

Jameson's parents still live in Colorado, and they can be there before nightfall, if they leave now.

"You sure we're not stepping on anyone's toes, here?" Dean asks.

Ellen just looks at him and, for a moment, Dean's not sure if she going to answer or send him to his room. "It's fine," she replies finally. "I've spoken to my counterpart in Boulder and cleared it. He's going to speak to the Jamesons so they're not totally ambushed when you get there." She holds out a piece of paper with a name and phone number scribbled on it. "He said to call him if you need anything."

Dean takes the paper, sliding it into his back pocket.

"Now, go," she says. "And find out what the hell's going on."

~

The first thing that hits Dean when they finally pull up to the Jameson house is how suburban it all looks, with the painted fences all along the street with their perfectly spaced trees. "Shall we?" he says, looking over at Castiel and holding his hands still against the steering wheel, resisting the urge to beat out a steady tattoo with his fingers.

Castiel nods, hesitating slightly before getting out of the car and Dean knows he's thinking about the folders on the back seat. He knows he's thinking whether or not they should take them in, whether or not it would make things worse.

Dean's not surprised to find that the Jamesons are expecting them. He knows the sheriff probably came out to see them as soon as he finished talking to Ellen.

It takes a while for them to get started, Mrs. Jameson busying herself with making coffee for them all before she finally sits, her husband's hand on her arm.

"Lieutenant Walker said you wanted to speak about Lily," Mr. Jameson says, his voice quiet, like he wants to know why two homicide detectives from Kansas are interested in his daughter, but is too afraid to find out the answer.

Dean nods. "We need to speak to-- Lily," He stumbles slightly on the name, too used to thinking of her as Jameson, as the suspect; too used to thinking of her in ways her parents never will. "She may have some information about a case we're investigating." It's not a lie and it's not the truth, but Dean is unwilling to look these people in the eye and tell them their daughter may have tortured six people to death, and those're just the ones they know about.

"Can you tell us why Lily ended up in St. Michael's?" Castiel's eyes are on Mrs. Jameson as he asks, but Mr. Jameson answers.

"Lily was such a happy child when she was younger, and then it all changed when she was nineteen."

"Depression," Mrs. Jameson clarifies. "The doctors said she had depression. None of the drugs they gave her seemed to work and she just got lower and lower until--" The words trail off and Dean thinks she's about to start crying, until she takes a deep breath, trying to pull herself together.

"I found her in the bathroom," Mr. Jameson continues. "There was so much blood everywhere." He pauses, his hand squeezes his wife's. "We called an ambulance and they rushed her to hospital. When she came out, she was fine for a few months and then--"

"And then she tried again?" Castiel says when Mr. Jameson stops.

Mrs. Jameson nods. "The doctors suggested St. Michael's."

"It was 'for her own good.'" By the way Mr. Jameson all but spits the words, Dean knows the other man doesn't agree with the assessment.

Mrs. Jameson looks at her husband. "It was," she says softly. "It was." Dean doesn't know which one of them she's trying to convince.

"Mrs. Jameson, when was Lily released?" Dean asks. Because if she's out there killing people, then she's sure as hell not in a padded room somewhere.

"Nearly a year ago," she answers. "There'd been such a turnaround."

Dean doesn't know what Mrs. Jameson sees in his face, but she smiles softly. "Detective Winchester, you have to understand that it wasn't an easy decision for us, agreeing to put Lily in that place. And Lily railed against it. At first, she refused to see us, fought the doctors every step of the way. And then it was like a switch had been thrown. She spoke to us, Detective. It was like we had our daughter back."

Castiel glances at Dean before he turns his attention back to the Jamesons. "Where's Lily now?"

Because the last known address they had for her was St. Michael's, with nothing after her release.

"We don't know," replies Mr. Jameson, shaking his head.

Wait, what--

"You don't know?"

"The day they released her from the hospital, we went to pick her up and she'd already gone," he explains. "All that was left were those damn drawings."

Mrs. Jameson's soft "David--" is nearly lost as Castiel asks, "Drawings?"

"The doctors said they were just a release of anger," Mrs. Jameson is quick to answer, clutching her husband's hand as he stands up. "They said they didn't mean anything."

Dean watches as Mr. Jameson heads over to a bureau on the other side of the room, opening it before pulling out several sheets of paper. "These are only a few of them," he says, walking back to hand the paper to Castiel, the drawings bright and colourful and almost childlike in their manner. "Apparently, she liked to draw."

Dean can hear the paper rustling as Castiel starts to look through the drawings, pausing slightly before he holds one out for Dean to take.

"I guess this answers our question," he says softly.

Dean looks at the pictures as he takes them, eyes flicking over the splashes of red colour on the page and the figures held in cages and tied to beds. But even if they weren't there, he'd still know what Castiel meant, still know that they definitely have the name they need by the cursive Come and see scrawled across the top of each page.

"Do you mind if we keep these?" he asks, nodding his thanks when Mr. Jameson agrees. "Thank you both, I think that's all we--" He trails off at Castiel's sharp intake of breath, glancing over to see Castiel staring at one of the drawings still in his hand, the edges of the paper crinkling in his grip.

Leaning over, Dean looks at the picture, looks at the house in black outline with the garden and the two people outside. He's kind of reminded of the pictures Sam used to draw when he was little, with Sam and him and Mom and Dad, all happy stick figures outside of the house. He's reminded of it, right up until he reads the names above each figure. Placing a hand on Castiel's shoulder, he carefully takes the drawing, placing it on the coffee table and pointing to the figure marked as Luke.

"Who's that?" he asks. Because it's possible it's just a coincidence, possible it's a completely different Luke.

"Lily met him at St. Michael's," Mr. Jameson answers. "The first time she let us come and see her, she was all 'Luke this' and 'Luke that.' The doctors told us they spent most of their free time together."

"They were allowed to do that?" Dean asks.

Mrs. Jameson frowns slightly. "It's a hospital, Detective, not a prison."

Dean glances away, not willing to admit that's kind of exactly what he's thinking. Rooms, all locked and sealed with people inside them for hours each day. Although he's willing to admit that his mental image of these places owes more to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest than any actual experience.

"All I know is Luke was a godsend," Mrs. Jameson says firmly. "Lily was heartbroken when he left St. Michael's."

"I'm sure he was very charming." Castiel's voice is quiet, thoughtful, and if they were anywhere else Dean would already be reaching out, but he's acutely aware of Jamesons watching both of them.

Dean wants to ask more, ask if they ever met Luke, if they knew what he'd done after he was released, but he swallows his words when Castiel stands up.

"Thank you both for your time," he says, "but we need to be heading back now."

There's a round of stilted pleasantries as they say goodbye, and Dean hands Mrs. Jameson his card, just in case, and then they're back outside, Castiel heading straight for the car and ignoring Dean's muttered comment to slow the fuck down.

Pulling open the rear door once he reaches the car, Castiel reaches in and retrieves one of the folder sitting on the back seat. Opening the file, he pulls some of the pages Dean hadn't paid any attention to when he'd first read the file, and any remaining hope Dean has about the stick-figure Luke on the paper not being Castiel's brother fizzles out.

The drawings are more elaborate than Lily's and it's obvious Luke had more artistic talent, but the theme is still the same, even if it's rendered in careful, precise pencil strokes. There are dozens of the drawings: scenes of war, emaciated figures, cockroaches scuttling over floors.

"They'd said he was better." The words are tight as Castiel speaks and Dean doesn't hold back this time, reaches out and wraps his fingers around Castiel's wrist, his thumb brushing over Cas's pulse. "They'd said that the drawings were a type of release." Dean wonders if Castiel releases he's almost echoing Mrs. Jameson's words. "They said that it didn't mean that they're going to be acted out." Castiel pauses. "What they didn't say was sometimes. It sometimes doesn't mean that they're going to be acted out. And you know what the crux is, Dean? That it's a bitch when you find the exception. Especially when he's your brother."

Castiel pivots on his heel and leans against the car, hands against the hood and face tilted towards the lowering sun, eyes closing as Dean throws the folder back into the car, along with the drawings they'd got from Lily's parents.

"It's never going to be over, is it?" he says, not opening his eyes as the car door clicks shut.

Yes. No. Only once you let it go. Dean's not sure which one's the right answer, which one's the one Castiel wants to hear. He kinda thinks none of them are. "We'll find her, Cas." He settles his ass against the hood of the car, his hand covering Castiel's. "We'll find her, and we'll stop her." For now, it's the best he can offer.

~

Castiel stares out of his window as Dean drives, the world outside rolling past them as they speed down the highway. Dean wants to say something, but everything in his head sounds banal and wrong, so he settles for the quiet, trusting that Castiel will talk if he needs to.

It's already late, but Dean's suggestion about getting off the interstate for something to eat is met with a shake of Castiel's head, so Dean drives past the exit, watching as it vanishes in the rear view mirror.

This time, when the lights of the hotel appear, bright and alluring, Dean doesn't bother asking, just takes the turn off and parks in the lot.

"Dean?" The frown on Castiel's face causes his nose to scrunch slightly and Dean's tempted to tell him how cute it makes him, but it's been a long day and he's really not sure whether Castiel would hit him for it.

"It's late and I'm tired, and I'm pretty sure you are, too. There's still at least another six hours drive ahead of us and I don't wanna roll the car because I can't keep my eyes open." He kind of expects Castiel to argue, to say that they have to get back, but he doesn't.

"You're right," Castiel replies, rubbing a hand over his face. "And some sleep sounds like a really good idea right now."

Dean grins. "I'm all about the good ideas," he says, getting out of the car wondering if Ellen will let him get away with putting the room on expenses.

The room they get has two queens (and Dean's not going to make the comment, he's not, not even in his own head), and Dean drops the bag he keeps in his trunk with a couple of spare changes of clothes in it, on one of them.

Castiel showers first, and Dean almost expects him to be like Sam and take an age in there, but he's in and out in less than ten minutes. "It's all yours," he says, rubbing a towel over his hair.

It looks like the hotel's wallpaper is from the seventies, but the water's hot and the towels are soft and that, Dean thinks, is pretty much all he needs right now.

Castiel's in bed when Dean gets out of the bathroom, the used towels on the bed with Dean's bag on it, along with their clothes. Dropping his towel on top of Castiel's, Dean flicks the light off, putting the room into darkness as he pads over to the other bed, pulls back the covers slightly and slides inside.

Castiel moves closer as soon as Dean lies down, already half asleep, his back warm against Dean's chest. Wrapping an arm around Castiel's waist, he presses a kiss to Castiel's shoulder and closes his eyes.

~

Ellen's waiting for them when they finally get back and Dean knows she hasn't left the station since they left the day before.

"Well?" she asks as they walk into her office, Dean slumping down in one of the chairs.

Castiel hands her the drawings Lily had done in the hospital. "I think it's pretty conclusive."

Dean can see Lily's colourful renditions of murder, bold and bright, can see the purse of Ellen's lips as she reads each scene they've found and photographed and catalogued in red and purple pencil strokes. "Yes," she agrees, finally placing them on her desk, "I'd say that's pretty damn conclusive."

Ellen looks wearier than Dean's seen her in a long time and Castiel just looks plain tired. "So, now we've just got to find the bitch, right?" And then it'll be over. Ellen can mark it as case closed and Castiel can mark it as done, dusted, and the bones fucking burned. They've just got to find her. One person. One person in a state of three million. But she's one person in three million with Dean Winchester looking for her, and Dean hates to lose. He pushes himself up from the chair, giving Castiel a quick grin. "Let's get started, then."

~

When they search for it, there's no hit on Lily's name beyond what they already know. There's no current driver's license, no place of employment, no place of residence. They've checked Kansas and Colorado and the surrounding states just in case, but so far they've found nothing. Not that Dean thought it would be that easy, it never is. Just once, though, he'd kinda like it to be.

He scrubs a hand over his face as he stands up and heads towards the door. "I'm going for coffee," he says, answering the look Castiel is giving him. "You want anything?"

Castiel shakes his head and Dean doesn't blame him. The coffee the machine kicks out swings between being weaker than dishwater and stronger than rhino's piss, and it can't seem to decide how much sugar it wants to dump in each cup at any given moment. However, it's still coffee and, at this point, Dean needs the caffeine.

Fishing a quarter out of his pocket and feeding it to the machine, he watches until the dark black liquid starts to fill the cup. Rhino's piss, then. Still, though, at least it means more caffeine than if the machine had gone for the dishwater option.

Taking the cup out of the machine, Dean lets the last few drops still dispensing disappear into the vent below. The burn of hot coffee runs over his tongue as he drinks, thick and strong and Jesus fuck why won't they spring for a proper coffee machine in this place.

Tipping the rest of the coffee into the machine, Dean crumples the cup, dropping it into the trash. That's it, he thinks, they're leaving. He'll drive them back to his place and they can get some sleep and some food and some proper fucking coffee and come back in the morning. Right now, every time Dean looks at the computer, looks at the results of yet another search, the words are swimming in front of him, and he's sure Castiel can't be much better off.

"Cas," he says, heading back into the bullpen, "I think we should--"

But Castiel's not paying attention to him, not doing anything but staring at the screen in front of him. "I think I found her." He looks up, meeting Dean's gaze.

"How?" Dean asks. Because they had nothing across five states.

"I tried variants on her name." Castiel glances back at the computer, a humourless smile on his lips. "I got a hit on Lily Milton."

Which isn't exactly right. Technically, he got a hit on four Lily Miltons, all living within 150 miles of at least one of the places the bodies were found. Two of them aren't the right age range and a third is originally from Australia and only moved to the US six months ago. And that leaves them with one.

Castiel's fingers fly across the keyboard, and with a few quick keystrokes, the computer brings up Lily Milton's driver's license.

"Looks like she dyed her hair," Dean comments lightly, looking at the brunette with the face of Lilith Jameson staring out of the screen.

~

The house she's chosen is quiet, unassuming and actually kinda like the one her parents live in. There are lights on in at least two of the rooms and a shadow moving inside, so they know that someone's in there.

They've parked partway up the street, blocking it off, and Victor and Pam are making their way around to the back of the house with the other half of the SWAT team that's standing behind Dean and Castiel.

Ellen's already directing them, sending two of the SWAT guys down to the cordon blocking the other end of the street. There are already uniforms at both of the neighbouring houses, talking to the people inside and getting them out of their homes. She looks over at Dean and Castiel once everyone's clear and nods.

They cut across the gardens as they jog to the house, guns already out and Dean having to sidestep a child's bike that's been left almost buried under a bush.

Ellen's got eyes on the house and Dean's earpiece crackles slightly before her voice weaves into his ear, Castiel tilting his head slightly as he listens to the same message.

"It's definitely her in the house, but we don't know if anyone else is in there with her. Be careful."

One of the SWAT team is behind them as they reach the door, waiting until Dean and Castiel are on either side before she crouches down, lockpick tools working at the front door for long moments before it clicks open.

Dean gives her a quick thumbs up as she steps back, nudging the door with his foot and pushing it open. "Front's open," he murmurs, knowing the microphone will pick up his voice.

"So's the back," comes Pam's reply.

"You're good to go," Ellen confirms. "So far we've got movement upstairs only. Be careful."

The hall's empty when they step inside, the quiet crunch as Dean steps on the mat declaring Welcome the only noise.

Dean goes left as Castiel goes right, doing a sweep of the living room and finding nothing except a butt-ugly painting above the fireplace.

Victor and Pamela are with Cas when Dean gets back out to the hall, all of the shaking their heads.

"The downstairs is clear," Dean says, his voice low. "We're heading upstairs."

The fifth step creaks as Dean puts his weight on it, the sound loud in the silence. He holds his breath, but there's nothing, no movement, no indication that she knows anyone else is in the house with her. Nothing until the crack of a gun and a grunt from behind Dean.

"What's happening?" Ellen's voice is frantic in Dean's ear and he'd tell her, but he's too busy keeping Victor from sliding down the wall, a spread of red blossoming across his shoulder.

Another shot rings through the house, the bullet streaking past Dean's head and that was way too fucking close.

"Get him out of here," Dean tells Pam, letting her take the rest of her partner's weight as she all but wrestles him carefully down the stairs. "Pam and Vic are on their way out," he tells Ellen, the words almost drowned by Castiel.

"Lilith Jameson, put the weapon down!"

Lily's standing in the doorway to one of the bedrooms, hair scraped back into a rough ponytail and gun pointing directly at Castiel. Dean doesn't hesitate as he brings his weapon to bear on her.

"I hoped it would be you," she says, voice too calm for someone with two guns pointing at her. "I need to talk to you, that's why I sent for you. Did you like my messages?"

"Put the gun down," Dean repeats Castiel's command, but she ignores him, her focus totally on Cas.

"I tried to get them as close to Luke's as possible, with just that little added extra from me."

Castiel looks like he's a step away from throwing up at her implication. "You killed those people to send me a message?"

"What?" Dean comments, "A phone call wouldn't have done?"

"I needed to speak to you," she says again, more insistent. Her hand is shaking slightly and Dean can't take his eyes off the hand wrapped around her gun, her fingers caressing the grip like she's thinking about firing, but just isn't sure.

"Okay, I'm here," Castiel says, and Dean wonders if Lily can hear the waver in Cas's voice or if it's just him. "Put the gun down and we'll talk."

There's part of Dean that knows this is how it's done, knows it's always a case of trying to talk them down without anyone getting killed. He knows this, he's known it since it was drilled into him at the academy. But right now it's being overridden by the part of him that wants to shake Cas and ask him what the fuck he thinks he's doing having a conversation with the psycho pointing a gun at him.

The gun in Lily's hand doesn't move. "You were the last one who spoke to him, Castiel."

Her tongue wraps around Cas's name like a caress and Dean's grip tightens on his gun.

"Did he mention me? Did he tell you he loved me? Did he tell you he did it for me?" She's smiling as she talks, sweet and bright, like her skin's not stained with red.

"What?" The word breaks in the middle and Dean's torn between keeping his gun trained on Lily and dragging Castiel out of there as quickly as he can. His gun stays where it is.

"I saw them, in my head," she continues. "Saw them, all laid out and ready and he did that for me." Like she's talking about flower arranging and not murder. "And then he stopped. He stopped and you were the last one and I need to know what he said!"

She shifts slightly and Dean's finger starts to press down.

"He--" Castiel's words trail off, and there's silence for a moment before his stance sharpens, the emotion gone from his face. "He didn't mention you at all, sorry."

Even though he's blatantly not sorry, and again with the psycho pointing a gun at him, except this time with added taunting.

"You're lying," Lily replies. Except for how he's not and Dean's not sure what's going to be worse. Whether she thinks he's lying, or whether she knows that he isn't. "Luke loved me--"

"Luke was sick," Castiel snaps.

"He was perfect!"

"He was killing people, lady! You have a real screwed up definition of perfect!" And that's it, get her attention off Castiel, get her attention split between the two of them.

"Luke was sick," Castiel repeats, his voice steady. "He was sick and he was weak--" He pauses. "And he didn't mention you."

Lily moves as the cry of anger falls from her lips, and Dean knows, fires without hesitation as twin shots come from opposite directions.

The gun clatters from Lily's hand as she drops to the floor, arms outspread and not moving as the pool of red widens under her.

But Dean's not paying attention, leaving Lily to the people moving past him and towards where she's lying. He's not paying attention because he's already turning, already looking at where Castiel is swaying, the hand against his stomach not masking the blood spreading across his shirt.

"Dean--"

Dean catches him as he falls.

~

Castiel is quiet and still in the hospital bed, too many tubes and wires attached to him. The machine next to him lets out another noise, and it seems as though the soft sound of beeping is the only soundtrack Dean's life has right now.

"Dean?"

Dean turns at the sound of his brother's voice, seeing Sam standing in the doorway, concern written on his face.

"How is he?" Sam asks, stepping into room and laying a hand on Dean's shoulder.

"Still the same," Dean replies. The same as Castiel was yesterday and the day before and the day before. The same as he's been since an ambulance screamed into the hospital lot and they vanished with him behind double doors, leaving Dean standing in a corridor covered in blood that's not his and holding a trenchcoat.

"And the doctors?"

"Saying exactly what they did yesterday." That Castiel was lucky, that the bullet, while causing a lot of damage, didn't cause as much as it could have. That he should make a full recovery if he'd only just wake up.

A chill brushes over Dean's shoulder as Sam moves his hand. "Dean--"

Oh god, that's Sam's I think we should talk tone. "Not now, Sam." Because he doesn't know what Sam's going to say, but he can't hear it, not right now. Whether it's he'll be okay or what the hell do you think you're doing sleeping with your partner or even it's about time you found someone willing to put up with you, he just can't.

Sam looks like he's about to ignore him, about to go on anyway, and then his eyes shift to Dean's fingers, watching as they stroke the back of Castiel's hand, carefully avoiding the cannula taped there. "I was just going to ask if you'd eaten anything yet?"

Except for how he really wasn't. And there are times Dean can't explain just how much he loves his brother. "No, I haven't."

"I'll run down to the cafeteria and get you something," Sam says. "I'll even make sure it's something fried and unhealthy, just the way you like it." The smile on Sam's face takes the sting out of his words.

"You are such a little bitch at times, Sammy." And I wouldn't change you for the world, he doesn't say.

"Yeah, but you're a jerk, so I guess we're even." Sam pauses in the doorway. "He's going to be fine, you know."

"You'd better be," Dean murmurs, listening as Sam's footsteps retreat into silence down the corridor.

"Better be-- what?"

Dean jerks around at Castiel's voice, wincing in sympathy when he squeezes Cas's hand tightly in surprise. "Shit, sorry!" Easing his grip, he pulls back slightly. "How you feelin'?"

"Like I got shot in the stomach by a madwoman." Castiel's voice is low and wrecked, breaking on every third word, but it sounds like fucking angels singing. And, wow, he's never admitting that out loud.

Castiel frowns at his own mention of Lily Jameson. "Is she--"

Dean shakes his head. "Luckily, my aim's a little better than hers was. It's over, Cas."

Some of the tension drains out of Castiel's shoulders. "Good." He looks at Dean. "IA?"

"Cleared." The fact that she'd shot Castiel at the same time Dean had shot her meant that Internal Affairs' investigation into what had happened was pretty much a paper exercise, and Dean's actions had been cleared as necessary before the day was over. "When I said over, I meant it."

"In that case, I think we should ask Lieutenant Harvelle for some time off," Castiel comments.

"You're lying in a hospital bed, Cas. I think the time off side is covered." Although, knowing Castiel, he's probably going to be sitting back at his desk tomorrow.

"I meant, when my insides aren't strapped into me with gauze and tape, as that sort of puts a crimp in my plan of the two of us spending a week having sex in every feasible position." Castiel pauses. "That is, if you're up for that."

Dean just looks at him. He's up for that for the foreseeable future, and probably quite a way beyond that. "Yeah, Cas," he replies, tightening his grip on Castiel's fingers and grinning when he feels them squeeze back in response, "I'm up for that."

End

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Claire

May 2017

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