zara_zee: (Sam Dean Guns)
[personal profile] zara_zee
Chapter Two




“Well look what the cat dragged in,” Rufus drawls from his place at Bobby’s kitchen table.

Between him and Bobby there are a bunch of files and folders and Dean rubs a hand across the back of his neck, aware that he fucked up here, but honestly, he’s not sorry.

“I texted Bobby that I’d be late,” he says.

Bobby turns and glowers at him and it’s a testament to how thoroughly relaxed Dean is feeling that he isn’t itching to punch either of the old codgers in the face.

Bobby practically raised him. After Dean did that stint in juvie when he was fourteen, his dad needed to provide a fixed address for his release. John cautiously decided that maybe a stable place to live for a while, might be a good thing for the boys. Of course, he didn’t go so far as to actually offer the stable place himself. No, John continued to travel and to move around, but he left the boys in Bobby’s care. Dean went back on the road with his dad once he hit eighteen, something Sam’s never really forgiven him for, but he’s been staying at Bobby’s since his old man got the long kiss goodnight.

Rufus and Bobby were both in John’s company when they got drafted to fight in Vietnam and they’ve been close friends ever since. Dean considers them blood and he respects both of them as senior members of the Family.

But the baton has changed hands. Dean’s in charge now and there’s only so much disrespect he’s willing to take. The old timers can be as pissed at him for being late as they want, but they better wise up and let it go.

He fixes Bobby with a look that promises trouble if he doesn’t tread carefully and then saunters across to Bobby’s coffee maker and puts on a fresh pot. “Tell me where you’re up to,” he says.

There’s a moment of silence and then Bobby is all business. “All the reports are in and we’ve been through eighty per cent of them. So far, there ain’t nothing you need to be concerned about there. Business is good. Demon skirmishes are becoming an issue. They’re mainly just a nuisance, but what with losing your daddy, we’re concerned they may step things up a notch.”

Dean nods. “They’ll want to test me.”

Bobby closes the folder in front of him. “And we’ll be ready for that and we’ll deal with it however you think is best. What you have to do is pick your leadership team. The old team’s been carrying the load, but you need to step up now, put your mark on the crew. The sooner the better. And,” Bobby hesitates and then says gravely, “you need to talk to Sam.”

Dean knows he doesn’t mean about the weather. He waits for the panic to hit, for the feeling that he can’t breathe, for the chest-pounding and the shakiness.

It doesn’t come.

Huh.

He rubs at his wrists and then stops doing it when he sees that Bobby is watching the movement closely. The last thing he wants is for Bobby to notice the ligature marks around his wrists from when Cas tied him to the bed for round number five.

Dean licks at his lips and tries not to smile as he remembers. He had a lot of fun with Cas today, and not just in bed, although the fucking was pretty goddamn spectacular. He and Cas just seem to get each other and they’d slotted together as if they’d known each other for a long time. Dean even found himself thinking that Sammy would like him and he’s never gone there before; never dared to imagine that a guy could be anything more than meat; a quick fuck and then they’re done. He’s only spent one night and one day with Cas and it’s opened a door in Dean’s mind that he’s always kept firmly shut. Imagining that someday he could have something truly intimate with a guy, something more than just a meaningless release, hasn’t brought about the panic he anticipated it would. Rather, it’s helping him to breathe easily for the first time in far too long.

Dean takes a deep breath. He’s nervous about talking to Sammy, sure. But he believes in his brother. He doesn’t honestly believe he’s going to have to kill him. Still, he is having his first cigarette craving since he met Cas at the bar last night.

“Is he around?” Dean asks Bobby.

Bobby and Rufus share a significant look. “Yeah,” Bobby says. “Ain’t been outta his room all day.”

Dean nods. “I’ll finish my coffee and then I’ll go up and see him. Get this talk over with.”

He takes his coffee out to the porch and lights up, which is probably a bad move because Sammy hates him smoking. He actually quit almost a year ago, due to his brother’s nagging, but he’d taken the habit back up again a week or so back, thanks to the stress of his dad’s death and the dying words he’d laid on Dean’s shoulders.

You may have to kill him.

Fuck that. Dean would rather put a bullet in his own brain.

Dean stubs out his finished smoke and counts the cigarettes left in the pack. There are six. Dean promises himself that he won’t buy another pack once these are gone and then he goes inside, washes his hands and gargles and then he makes Sammy a cheese toastie and cup of coffee and goes upstairs.

Sam’s sitting on his bed, reading some colorful looking paperback that’s as thick as a phone book. He looks up and frowns when Dean barges in.

“Sorry I didn’t knock,” Dean says cheerfully. “I could barely get the knob with all this in my hands.”

He gives Sam the coffee and the toastie and his brother looks genuinely touched.

“Thanks, Dean.”

Dean perches on the edge of Sam’s bed and watches as he drinks down half the coffee and then gets stuck into the toastie.

“Didn’t realize how hungry I was,” he glances up at Dean from beneath his bangs. “So. You didn’t come home last night.”

Dean grins lewdly and waggles his eyebrows. “I found me some company, Sammy. And let’s just say that a good time was had by all.”

“Huh,” Sam says.

“What does that mean, huh?” Dean raises his eyebrows.

“Well,” Sam puts his now empty plate on the night stand. “It’s just…don’t think I haven’t noticed your occasional judicious use of and/or avoidance of pronouns when talking about your hook-ups.”

Dean frowns. “My avoidance of the what now?”

Sam reaches out and pushes up the sleeve of Dean’s jacket. “Did a woman do this to you, Dean?”

Dean tugs his sleeve down and punches his brother’s shoulder. “So what if I like kinky women?”

Sam presses his lips together. “If sometimes it wasn’t women, I wouldn’t care, you know.”

Dean looks at Sam, really looks at him, and sees the honest sincerity in his eyes.

“I know you wouldn’t, Sammy.”

It’s the most he can admit right now, but he can see that Sam understands. He finds himself thinking—again—just how much Sam and Cas would get along, but that’s really a thought for another time. Right now he needs to get this fucked up conversation out of the way.

He sighs and looks away before meeting Sam’s eyes again. “We gotta talk man,” he says.

Sam takes a shuddering breath and runs a hand through his hair. “Well I know how much you love talking, so this must be serious.”

Dean doesn’t think he imagines the slight waver in his brother’s voice.

“It’s Family stuff,” Dean’s never minded talking business, it’s only touchy-feely chick flick conversations that he likes to avoid.

Sam nods, his brow furrowed.

“Dad was worried about you,” Dean begins.

Sam cuts him off with a snort. “He was worried I was gonna turn rat.”

“He was worried you were in over your head,” Dean corrects. “Look, I ain’t a poster child for healthy living and neither was Dad, and most of the crew are pretty much functional alcoholics, it’s just the way it is in our line of work. But hard drugs are a whole other ball game.”

“I know, Dean,” Sam says, his eyes puppy dog wide.

Dean shakes his head impatiently. “It’s a slippery slope, man. Illegal drugs are a big part of our revenue. It’s one thing for the dealers out on the street to be users, we make them buy the stashes they sell. But if the people at the top of the supply chain are addicts, then we get problems. Profits suffer. We have to shoot people in the head and bury them in concrete for stealing from us. It ain’t fun.”

“I’m not stealing,” Sam says. “I’m buying.”

Dean wrinkles his nose. “Yeah. But not from us. I’m sure you can appreciate how bad that looks. My own brother, buying from the competition.”

Sam’s hiding behind his bangs again and when he looks up his expression is so hangdog that Dean almost expects him to start whimpering like a puppy.

“I’m sorry, Dean.”

Dean pats his brother’s thigh. “I know you are. And we will fix this. But you’re gonna have to be honest with me. What are you really on?”

Sam chews at his bottom lip and then tells Dean that what he told their dad was true, he started taking Speed to help him cope with the workload of his pre-law course. Everybody was doing it; it didn’t seem like a big deal. Sam’s old roommate Brady knew a guy who knew a guy and he was the one who supplied Sam, Jess and Becky with the Speed. The other guy in their study group, Luis, was anti-drugs and slowly started to drift away from them, but Becky’s younger brother Zach soon took his place in their study circle and he was only too happy to start popping pills.

And then the price started going up.

Eventually they started looking for an alternative supplier and that was when Zach was arrested for his girlfriend Emily’s murder.

Sam looks up at Dean with tears in his eyes. “It was a set up. Brady told us it was a warning, that we couldn’t change supplier; that we had to pay whatever they said. That’s when I found out that Brady was connected to The Devil’s Own.”

Sam runs a hand a across his face. “I should’ve called Dad straight away, but…you know how it went down when I left to go to college. He told me to stay gone and--”

“You could’ve called me, man.”

“Would you have picked up?”

“You know I would’ve. You were the one dodging my calls. Eventually I figured you just wanted a clean break. That the last thing you wanted was your brother-the-criminal reminding you where you came from.”

Sam shakes his head. “I just didn’t want to make things difficult between you and Dad. And I didn’t want some smartass FBI agent to start thinking they could somehow get to you through me. I thought if it looked like we didn’t have any contact, everyone would just leave me alone. Pretty stupid, huh?”

Dean thinks that, yeah, it was pretty stupid. There’s only one way out of the life and that’s in a body bag, but he doesn’t have the heart to tell his little brother that.

“Nah,” he says, “you were just hoping too hard for a better future. You took your eye off the fact that your past…who you are…is always gonna be a danger to you and the people you let close to you.”

Sam nods, shamefaced. He looks like he’s struggling not to cry. “I tried to get the money together for The Devil’s Own. Hustling pool, poker games. It was never enough. They told me that if I agreed to become their mole and helped them to fuck up the Winchester Family from the inside, they’d forgive the debt. I told them to go fuck themselves, so they firebombed the apartment and killed Jess.”

“And I came as soon as I heard,” Dean says. “And brought you home.”

The first few weeks were bad. Sam was a wreck, blaming himself for Jess’s death, muttering that he should’ve done something sooner. Dean had thought that Sam was feeling guilty because his Family connections had made Jess a target, but now he sees that Sam’s guilt is much more direct than that.

“I tried to quit once I was home,” Sam says. “But I got real sick; nausea; hot and cold sweats; hallucinations. Then I heard that Becky was in a psychiatric hospital, that she went kind of nuts after trying to quit. And that’s when I knew that whatever they’d been giving us, it wasn’t just Speed. I went and saw Nick Morningstar; demanded to know what else was in the pills they’d been supplying us,” Sam’s expression sours. “He wouldn’t tell me, just said that if I didn’t want to die or become psychotic, I’d have to be his inside man. He gave me a couple weeks supply and told me he’d come to me with a task.”

Dean’s stomach drops. “It’s just as well I know you,” he says, his voice coming out strange and flat. “I know you’d never betray your family, but I can see why Dad told me we might have to shoot you.”

“What?” Sam scoots backward on the bed and look like he’s getting ready to flee or fight. “He actually said that? He actually believed I’d turned rat?”

“It was the last thing the old man said to me. Save Sammy. But if you can’t, if he’s turned rat, you’ll have to kill him.”

Sam does cry then. The kid’s been keeping so many secrets in a world where secrets can get you killed. It must be a relief to have it all out in the open, even the fact that his own Dad was preparing to execute him if necessary. Dean ain’t ashamed to say there are a few tears on his own cheeks as he holds his little brotherly tightly.

When Sam calms down, Dean asks him what happened next and Sam tells him that he went to one of his friends from Stanford, a Chemistry major, and had her analyse the drug that The Devil’s Own had been dosing him with.

“Bottom line? It’s Speed mixed with some other kind of stimulant. Coming off of it will be dangerous and it could kill me or leave me psychotic like Becky. But Madison was able to replicate the drug and she was supplying me until she got shot through the heart, just a couple days before Dad died.” Sam wipes at his eyes. “So there’s another friend I got killed. And I don’t know, maybe them coming after you was about me too, you know?”

Dean shrugs. “If your friend managed to replicate the drug, I’m sure that Ash can too.”

Sam nods. “I can give him the formula, Madison gave it to me.”

Dean fixes his gaze on Sam. “You’re gonna have to get clean though. You know that, right?”

Sam looks away. “Yeah. It might kill me, but…long term, so might the drug. I’ve gotta take the risk. Short term, if we can manufacture the drug for me, then I’m not in danger of being beholden to The Devil’s Own.”

Dean clears his throat. “Yeah. And short term, I gotta make some decisions about running the Family. Bobby and Rufus are downstairs, pushing me to pick my team. I’m gonna make Bobby my Consigliere, so I’m gonna need a new underboss.”

Sam nods again. “Right,” he says. “Good luck. I’ll let you get back to it.”

Dean raises an eyebrow. “Dude, seriously? There ain’t no one I trust to have my back more than you. We make a great team, Sammy.”

“What?” Sam says blankly.

“I’m choosing you, dipstick. I want you to be my capo bastone.

“Oh,” Sam says. “Really? Wow.”

Momentary uncertainty hits Dean head on. “You do…want that, right?”

Sam pulls him into a hug. “There’s nothing I want more. You and me against the world, keeping our territory safe from the Demons. I’ve got so many ideas I want to run past you, Dean.”

Dean can’t help the smile that splits his face. “C’mon then. Let’s go and show those two old timers downstairs how this job should be done.”

--
The next couple of weeks are busy for Dean. The Devil’s Own test his mettle, just as he’d expected, by going after every business in town that is under the Winchesters’ protection. Dean and his crew finally rack up enough of a Demon body count that the attacks stop, but by then the whole State is nervously talking about an impending mob war. Dean even has to front up and talk to Sheriff Jody Mills about it.

Jody’s all right in Dean’s book. Yes, she’s law enforcement, but she understands that the law can’t always deliver justice. Dean and Bobby helped her out a few years back when The Devil’s Own slaughtered her husband and son in retribution for a couple of their members being sent to prison. As far as Dean is concerned, getting locked up is an occupational hazard for a gangster and if you can’t stand the heat, you don’t belong in the business. It’s also against The Winchesters’ moral code to go after kids, so even if Jody’s son Owen hadn’t been good friends with Lisa’s son Ben, Dean would’ve been willing to help out when the man charged with the murders was found not guilty because all the witnesses suddenly lost their memories and all the physical evidence suddenly went missing. With John’s approval, Dean and Bobby made sure he received justice anyway, and now they have an LEO who owes them.

Jody appreciates that there are lines the Winchesters won’t cross, that they do their best to keep the drugs and the street trade clean and the gang violence to a minimum. Dean likes Jody a lot and tentatively considers her a friend. He’s made it clear to her that he doesn’t have anything on her and he respects the fact that she has a job to do. He just wants her to be aware of all the shades of grey and to be willing to talk to the Winchesters if there’s anything causing a problem in the territory that they consider theirs.

“We’re handling it,” he tells Jody tersely and she gives him her Mom look.

Dean scrubs a hand over his face. “Don’t make me incriminate myself, Sheriff. We are handling it. This is just them testing things out now that my old man’s bought it.”

Jody purses her lips. “I don’t know, Dean,” she says. “It feels like they’re building up to something. There’s been a lot more violence and some of the Demons we’ve arrested, they seem like they’re hopped up on something. Like Ice only worse. Do you know anything about a new street drug?”

Dean shakes his head and promises to ask around, see what he can find out.

Jody nods. She finishes off her coffee, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and then asks, “So what’s with this…garrison…of Santangelos that I hear are hanging around in Kansas City?”

Dean bites back a snarky response and manages not to pull a face. “Michael’s idea of helping to ‘smooth over’ the transition. He thought it might help on the Demon front if they stuck around for a while.”

Jody raises an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Dean sighs. “I know. Given Morningstar’s history with them, he’s definitely seeing it as a provocation.”

“Maybe you could have a word with Michael about that?” Jody says delicately.
“Yeah,” Dean says. “Okay.”
Of course it’s not that simple. Michael Santangelo is back in Los Angeles and whenever Dean tries to get through to him, he just gets directed to Zachariah instead, the guy charged with heading up the small contingent of Family that Michael left in Kansas. It’s frustrating, to say the least. Zachariah is a giant, pompous douchebag.

Dean sees Jody out to the porch where her deputy, Donna Hanscum is waiting with Sam.

Sammy is wearing a sour look and the smile he gives Lawrence’s finest as they depart doesn’t reach his eyes.

“Don’t tell me,” Dean says, “she gave you the ‘what’s a fine upstanding Stanford graduate like yourself doing in a Crime Family?’ talk.”

Sam grimaces. “Yeah. And then she went on and on about the new sugared donuts down at the Pie Shack.”

Dean brightens. “I had a couple of those the other day. They’re awesome.”

Sam scowls.

“Oh come on, spoil sport. Just because you like to eat rabbit food all the time.”

Sam sighs. “You’re a heart attack waiting to happen, Dean.”

Dean could make a snarky comment about Sam’s Speed addiction, but then Sam would probably start in on him about his smoking (he’s trying to quit again, honest, but it’s hard) and his drinking (he’s cut down to six standard drinks a day), so he doesn’t, he just shrugs.

Ash, the guy who runs the Winchesters’ meth labs, had no trouble recreating the drug that The Devil’s Own had gotten Sammy addicted to. The mystery stimulant that’s been added to the amphetamine is somewhat similar to PCP, but not entirely like anything Ash has ever seen before.

In light of Jody’s concerns about a new street drug, Dean and Sam head down to the main lab to ask him some questions.

“Yo dudes,” Ash says when the Winchester brothers walk in. “I’ve been playing around with the chemical formula you gave me. Exciting stuff. In small quantities, mixed with an amphetamine, the other stimulant is barely noticeable. But,” he pulls a small baggie out of a drawer. “I created a batch that was straight up the new stimulant and check it out!”

Sam and Dean peer at the baggie of reddish-brown powder and then Dean shoots Ash a puzzled look. Ash opens the bag and Dean smells sulphur.

“Smell that?” Ash says excitedly.

“Yeah,” Dean shrugs. “Don’t know what it means.”

Ash licks his lips and looks around furtively. “We’ve been hearing rumors about The Devil’s Own having a powerful new drug, one they’re keeping to themselves, only letting their foot soldiers take it. Apparently it’s an injectable. Looks like blood. Smells like sulphur.”

Ash pours some of the powder out of the baggie and into a petri dish. He mixes it with a little water and then lights a Bunsen burner underneath it. The mixture thickens and bubbles and when it’s done it looks exactly like blood. The sulphur smell is strong.

“I tested it on that rat you brought me. Almost straight away, his pupils dilated so much that you couldn’t see anything but black—it was really creepy, man—and then he got super strong and really violent. In its pure form, the drug is highly addictive and going through withdrawal killed the rat. But the doses you’ve been getting, Sam, are much smaller, so when you’re ready quitting’s gonna be hard, but doable. Uh…Sam?”

Dean turns to his brother and sees that Sammy is breathing hard and sweating too. He’s staring, transfixed at the dish of thick red liquid.

“Sammy?” Dean puts a hand to his arm.

Sam startles and then swallows. “I’ve gotta get outta here,” he says and backs away fast, before turning and almost running out of the lab.

Dean follows his rapidly retreating back with a worried frown.

“Highly addictive,” Ash says. “Morningstar would’ve been slowly increasing the dose, hoping to eventually move him onto the pure stuff. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to him that another chemist would be able to re-create it and take away his control.”

Dean has his own theories about that. He thinks Nick Morningstar wanted to isolate Sammy; kill his girl, kill his brother; leave him with a father who was suspicious of him, so that Sam would keep his addiction to himself. He hadn’t counted on Sam having a friend at Stanford who could help him and he hadn’t counted on John Winchester throwing himself in front of a bullet meant for Dean, nor for Dean’s unwavering love, trust and loyalty toward Sam.

“So about this new stimulant drug,” Dean begins.

“I’m calling it Demon Blood,” Ash says.

Dean blinks. “Right. So about this, uh, Demon Blood…is Sammy gonna need more and more of it to get the same feeling?”

Ash nods. “Yeah. So the sooner we get him de-toxed, the better.”

Sam’s waiting for him outside.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and he looks it.

“It’s okay,” Dean tells him.

Sam shakes his head. “I don’t take it to get high, you know that right? I’ve never taken it for the high. It’s always been about helping me concentrate better, think better, stay focused, so that I could do my studies better. Now, I just take it so that I won’t get sick.”

Dean nods. “I hear you, little brother. I get it.”

Sam sighs. “Are you sure choosing me to be your underboss was a good idea?”

Dean turns to face him and lets the confidence he has in his brother show in his eyes. “Yeah, I am. There’s no one on this planet I trust as much as I trust you.”

Sam smiles briefly and then turns serious again. “Gordon thinks it’s a mistake. Thinks I’m a danger to the Family. And he’s not the only one.”

Dean shrugs like he doesn’t care. He does care, but only because it pisses him off that there are people in his Crew who obviously don’t trust his judgement. “It’s not up to them, it’s up to me. And if we have to deal with them, we will.”

Sam sighs again, but he nods and settles into the passenger seat of ol’ blue.

Dean drives them back to Bobby’s and then spends some quality time out in the yard, fixing up his Baby and apologizing to her for the lousy way he treated her. He’s been working on her a little every couple of days and she’s almost ready to get back on the road. He sure is looking forward to sliding behind her wheel again.

Dean has also been heading into Kansas City every couple of days, mostly to do the rounds of the various crew bosses out there, to show support, and help instil confidence where needed. If he also happens to hook up with Cas while he’s there, well, that was nobody’s business but his own.

He and Cas have a tacit understanding that their day-to-day personal lives are off limits, but they discuss everything else; music (Dean likes classic rock, Cas likes opera), movies (Dean likes funny movies and movies where shit blows up, Cas likes movies where shit blows up too, but also arthouse movies in foreign languages), books (they both agree that Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams are awesome), politics (Dean doesn’t vote, Cas is a Democrat and is horrified that Dean doesn’t vote), favorite foods (they both love burgers and Italian food) and sport (Dean likes most sport, Cas is surprisingly passionate about fencing).

They don’t talk about work or their families. Not much anyway. Cas knows that Dean has a little brother who went to Stanford. Dean knows that Cas is the second youngest in a very large family. Dean also knows that Cas is under pressure from said family to take a job in one of their businesses, but he’s adamant that he’s not going to. He got really testy talking about it too, so Dean figures it’s a sore point, best left well alone. It’s not like he’s all that keen to talk about his own family’s businesses, so it’s a lot easier if that’s a topic that stays strictly in the out of bounds area.

This thing with Cas is just about good sex. With a guy he likes enough to keep coming back to. All those stupid fantasies he keeps having about having a relationship with Cas, about Cas being his boyfriend are just that; fantasies. Stupid ones. Fantasies that he needs to nip in the bud before he tries to do something really insane like turn them into realities. Dean squirms at the thought.

“Stay still,” Cas says, frowning down at him.

Dean would apologize except that he’s gagged with one of Cas’s ties. He’s not tied down though. They discovered; the fourth time they hooked up; that as much as Dean enjoys being restrained, he enjoys holding position through his own strength of will much more. Like, right now, he’s on his back, spreadeagled in the middle of Cas’s bed (with a pillow under his hips) and the only thing keeping his arms and legs spread wide is the fact that Cas wants him like this and Dean wants to give him what he wants. Also, having something so immediate to focus on usually helps stop his mind from wandering and he’d rather be concentrating on holding position for Cas than worrying about Sammy’s forthcoming detox or the handful of his crew who have been vocal in their disapproval of Sam’s elevation to his second in command. Or—

Sonofabitch! Dean glares at Cas, his inner thigh stinging where Cas just slapped it, hard.

“You’re thinking too hard,” Cas says mildly. “I’m obviously going to have to step up my game.”

He turns the prostate massager up to its highest setting and presses it right against Dean’s sweet spot. Dean arches like a bow and pretty soon he’s a sweaty, glassy-eyed drooling mess, his cock steadily leaking and his hands fisted in the sheets as he begs from behind his gag for Cas to take the cock ring off and let him come. Instead, Cas flips him over and presses into him, fucking in deep a couple of times before reaching around and sliding off the cock ring. Cas has barely had time to touch him, just a couple of jerks and a wrist twist, and Dean is coming hard. He groans and then his arms turn into limp noodles and he collapses onto the mattress, right on top of the wet spot. He pulls a face and swears under his breath and then settles down to enjoy Cas thoroughly reaming his ass until Cas’s hips stutter to a stop as he comes too.

They end up in the shower and then Dean decides that he needs a cigarette. Cas keeps telling him that smoking is a disgusting habit and Dean keeps telling him that he’s quitting. It’s…different, having a regular hook-up who’s prepared to take a stand on things he doesn’t like. Of course, all his other regular hook-ups are women who know who he is, but Dean is finding that he likes having a partner who’ll stand up to him outside, as well as inside, the bedroom.

Dean goes out into the grounds of the apartment complex and lights up, compulsively counting his remaining cigarettes. Despite his resolution a couple weeks back, he didn’t manage to just smoke the six that were left in the pack and then quit. But this is the only pack he’s bought since. Personally, Dean thinks he’s doing great, only smoking two or three cigarettes a day. He leans against the bank of mailboxes and takes his time, enjoying the nicotine hit.

When Dean makes it back inside, Cas is talking on his cell phone.

“For the last time,” he hears Cas say, the irritation clear in his tone, “I refuse to be involved.”

He sees Dean and frowns, his mouth a grim line, and then he turns his back on Dean and starts speaking in Italian.

Dean knows, from that time when Cas tried to get him to watch some boring arthouse movie, that Cas speaks several languages. Dean admires people who are multi-lingual and it pisses him off when assholes make fun of people who speak English with an accent. It just means they can speak more than one language and that’s not something to be ashamed of.

Dean knows how he comes across to others—a red-blooded American boy from the wrong side of the tracks who only speaks English and Bad English—and truthfully, it’s an image he cultivates. It can be very enlightening when people underestimate you.

Like now, for example.

He listens to Cas’s side of the conversation, his heart pounding faster and faster as he begins to put together the fragments of information. He’s coming up with a picture he isn’t sure he likes.

When Cas ends his call and turns around, he at least looks apologetic. And worried, when he takes in Dean’s expression, which Dean imagines isn’t pretty.

“That was rude,” Dean tells Cas.

Cas holds his gaze for a moment and then sags visibly.

“Yeah,” he says. “I’m sorry.”

Dean licks at his lips. If he was smart, he’d turn around right now and walk away. If he’s put things together right, this—Cas—is a complication he doesn’t need. Walking away is going to hurt though. His heart’s involved now and getting shot through the heart—even if it ain’t literally, is painful. This is bad.

Or maybe.

Maybe this could be useful.

Dean crosses to the sofa and sits, his legs spread and his elbows resting on his knees. He stares at the floor and starts to plan out what he’s going to say, how he’s going to approach this.

“Dean, I--” Cas begins, but Dean cuts him off.

“We never exchanged surnames, did we?”

Cas is suddenly very quiet and very still.

“My Dad’s dad; my paternal grandfather; died when my dad was just a kid,” Dean says. “I think my grandmother would’ve kept my dad out of the Life if she could’ve, but being who she was, and my dad’s Godfather being who he was, that was never gonna happen.”

Dean glances up at Cas who swallows visibly, his eyes wide.

“After our mom was murdered, my grandmother wanted me and Sammy to go live with her, but dad wouldn’t allow it. He dragged us around behind him and I guess it wasn’t the most stable way to grow up, but on the other hand there’s a lotta people out there who had a hand in raising us. They’re loyal now, because they’re family. Truly family. And they know I’m loyal to them,” Dean pauses and looks up at Cas again. Cas’s face is pinched and his breathing is shaky. “Don’t get me wrong,” he says, “we still saw a lot of our grandmother, spent time with her. She made sure we could speak the language. I guess you could say it was cosa nostra.”

Cas sinks to the floor.

“Before she married Henry Winchester,” Dean hears Cas make a pained sound, “our Nonna was Maria Cacciatore.”

“Fuck my life,” Cas says in a surprisingly strong voice.

Dean can’t help laughing. “Right back at you, pal. You were supposed to be a casual fuck buddy, with no connection to my fucked up life.”

Cas meets his eyes, his expression fierce. “Believe me when I tell you I would rather that connection did not exist.”

Cas looks every inch the righteous soldier he spent the last decade of his life being, and Dean believes him.

“So,” Dean says, “Given that you’re Polish-American among other things, I’m guessing the Italian mama you were just speaking to on the phone is a Santangelo by birth?”

Cas nods. “Naomi.”

Dean’s eyes widen. “No shit? Michael’s your brother?”

“Half-brother. Mama married her second cousin Carlo Santangelo when she was eighteen and they had Michael, Ezekiel, Rachel, Gabriel and Anna. When Carlo was killed, Mama married his underboss, James Novak, and they had Hannah, then me and Jimmy and then Alfie.”

Dean whistles. “You said you had a big family.”

Cas’s smile is bitter. “We Novak kids never really got along with our Santangelo half-siblings,” he inclines his head. “Gabriel and Anna were always good to us, but the older three considered us far inferior. As far as my full siblings are concerned, Hannah is married and producing the next generation as expected of a good mob wife; Jimmy,” Cas’s voice falters, “joined the family business voluntarily and was shot dead while I was away at college,” he swallows. “And Alfie moved to New York and got a job at Weiner Hut. He’s the baby, so he can get away with that. I hear he’s doing well.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean says. He vaguely remembers hearing something about one of Michael’s brothers getting caught in the crossfire during a gun battle between Michael’s faction, who run the West Coast, and Bartholemew’s faction, who ran the East Coast before Michael wiped them out.

“Yeah,” Cas is still wearing the same bitter smile. “It’s hard to know who to be pissed at when Jimmy was killed because of our own infighting,” he shakes his head. “It only solidified my conviction that I was doing the right thing, getting out. I’m not a rat, I would never inform on them to the authorities, but I don’t want any part in the world that got my twin brother killed.”

Dean winces. He hadn’t realized Jimmy was Cas’s twin. That’s gotta hurt.

“I’m sorry,” he says again.

Cas shrugs. “It bought me a little understanding; they’ve let me go my own way without too much fuss. Not that they could do much while I was posted overseas. But now that I’m home again…” he trails off with a scowl. “I chose Kansas because the Cacciatores are a friendly Family and things with The Devil’s Own have been well in hand here for a good twenty years. And then, not only does everything suddenly blow up and cause Michael to leave a garrison here; I also accidentally start fucking Dean Winchester, the new Winchester Capo,” he looks up at Dean, his expression both determined and imploring. “It’s over between us, I get that. And I swear I won’t tell anyone. This looks just as bad for me as it does for you and besides, Michael is very anti-gay. Coming out to the Family would have got me off the hook as far as being involved in the Family Business was concerned, but Michael may have had me executed on principal. So I won’t ever tell anyone, I promise.”

Dean has to admit, he’s shocked when he realizes Cas is scared Dean might kill him.

Also, he’s not sure he wants this thing with Cas to be over.

“Why did Michael leave a garrison here?” Dean asks, because maybe Cas has some insider perspective.

Cas shrugs. “Just making sure you can handle things, I guess.”

Dean harrumphs. “He’s gotta realize it’s just fuel to the fire as far as Nick Morningstar’s concerned. I mean, Nick is Carlo Santangelo’s oldest kid, the one he had with his mistress, which is why it’s Michael not Nick heading up the Family. Anything to do with the Santangelos pisses Nick off. Putting a garrison here is just making him fight me even harder.”

“Dean!” Cas is suddenly looming over him. “Are you going to try and kill me or not?”

Dean blinks up at him. “No,” he says. “Of course, I’m not. Don’t see why what we’re doing has to end, either.”

Cas tilts his head and looks adorably perplexed.

“We’re good together,” Dean explains. “Neither of us is ever going to want to get married and adopt kids or whatever. We share a background that ain’t all that common, which is probably why we understand each other so well. Why give that up?”

Cas plops down on the sofa beside Dean and raises an eyebrow. “Because it could get us killed?”

Dean rolls his eyes. “I do ten things a day that could get me killed. None of them are as much fun as getting pounded by you.”

Cas’s eyes darken. “Is that a fact?”

“Yeah. And I don’t do chick flick moments for anyone, but apparently I do them for you,” he runs his hands over his chest. “Tell me I didn’t just grow tits?”

“I better take a closer look,” Cas murmurs and Dean puts a hand to Cas’s chest to halt his forward momentum. “Steady there, soldier. We gotta talk.”

Cas sits back and waits. Dean rubs a hand over his chin and tries to decide how to put his request.

“Something ain’t kosher,” he says finally. “And you think that too. I heard what you said on the phone about your Uncle Zach and I’m surprised your Mama didn’t come down here to wash your mouth out.”

Cas barks out a short laugh. “Yeah. Well. That might still happen.”

“So,” Dean says, “I think you should take that job with your Uncle. I think you should find out what’s going on and I think you should tell me.”

Cas is statue still, his face hard like marble. “You want me to turn rat?”

“No,” Dean says patiently. “I want you to work with me and Sammy on keeping this town safe. Because I’m starting to think that somebody wants a mob war. And they’re trying to manipulate me and Nick into starting one.”


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