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Counting Stars Chapter Three

He wanted to forget about his problems, and Dean had a solution, maybe not the one Castiel wanted, but one that seemed sufficient at the time.
So really it was Dean’s fault. That night he said he needed a drink, and what started with one shot turned into two. It wasn’t Castiel’s fault that he might have had one too many shots. Or perhaps three too many.
Dean watched with amusement as Castiel knocked over his glass and attempted to right it, only to give up. “Come on Cas, I think it’s time to get you to bed.”
Cas put his arms around Dean’s neck, pushing against him clumsily. His tone remained light, only slightly slurring his words. His smile was sloppy, and he smelled like whiskey. He had to give him credit, he wasn’t nearly as drunk as Dean had thought he would be by this point. But he was still drunk, and this was wrong. The other man was a warm weight against him, and as Cas leaned in closer, it took an effort to make himself push him away. “Cas, we can’t. This whole thing is too fucked up as it is. It wouldn't be right.” The last part was as much of a reminder to himself as it was Cas. He had never been one to run from temptation, rather as Charlie had once accused him, he was more likely ‘to follow temptation home like a lost puppy.’ And the way Cas was one temptation he didn’t want to run from.
Cas made a frustrated noise, eyes narrowing, looking a bit like a pissed off cat. “Now you’ve decided to take the moral high ground.”
Dean sighed, feeling suddenly very tired. This was all his fault, from the kidnapping to the whiskey, he couldn’t seem to get it right. “Cas, you're drunk.” He didn’t try to hide the weariness in his tone.
“I know.” Cas snapped, “and who’s fault is that?” Dean was having decidedly mixed feelings over drunken Cas. “You’re more than happy to mess up my life, it’s okay as long as you’re in control. But when it comes to what I want you suddenly discover a conscious. I had an out. I worked hard to escape my father, then you came along messed it all up. I’m not going back to the way things were before, I’m never going back.” There was a dark bitterness in his voice that cut through him. He felt the painful twist of guilt starting to sober him a little.
“Look, I’m sorry, about everything. But this isn't about you or me, it's about fixing what Dick fucking Roman broke.
"And what is that exactly? What is did you think you'd accomplish anyway?"
“He killed my mom.” There was a part of Dean’s brain that knew he shouldn’t be giving away too much detail about himself. But that part was losing out to the part that was soaked in whiskey. He wanted Cas to know, he wanted him to understand why he had done all of this, that he wasn’t a monster. “She worked for him, for one of his charities. She started to see discrepancies and when she looked deeper she discovered somethings she wasn’t supposed to know. So he had her killed. There wasn’t enough evidence to prove that it was him, but it was. My dad became obsessed with proving what happened, and when he started to get close, he was killed in a car accident. I couldn’t just let it go. I started making a fuss, trying to get people to at least look at the man, see who he really was. I didn’t care what happened to me. But I wasn’t the one he went after. My brother, Sammy, he’s in college, or he was. He had a full ride scholarship, but Dick pulled some strings and got that taken away. Apparently killing off the entire Winchester clan might have brought up too many suspicions. So he punished Sam to make a point. The money I wanted for ransom, it’s enough for Sammy to finish college and start a new life. He’s deserves that much. He doesn’t deserve to suffer for my mistakes.”
Cas looked slightly, and only slightly, more sober after Dean finished talking. “Dean, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I knew, I knew my father had done something. I saw you on a video once. Someone had taken it off you talking about what a monster he was. I remember my father talking about what to do about you. That was back when he still thought I would take over. I never forgot that desperation, that pain. I knew whatever he had done to you, it must be bad, but I never imagined….”
“Shit. You know my name?” It was like a bucket of cold water, here he thought he had been so careful and Castiel knew him the whole time.
“And who exactly am I going to tell, Dean? As far as I’m concerned my father is the one who deserves to be in jail, not you. I’ll never be free of him. He’ll be the dark shadow hanging over me until the day I die.”
It appeared Cas had crossed from ‘fun drunk’ to ‘hopeless drunk.’ Dean knew that state well and nothing good ever came of it.
“Okay, yeah, I think this was a bad idea all around. Let’s get you to bed.” Castiel didn’t resist this time, letting Dean half carry, half drag him to the old bed that had apparently become his. It was far more comfortable than the sofa Dean had been sleeping on.
Dean woke up feeling surprisingly comfortable, and warm. There was a warm solid weight lying against him. Just as he came to realize he had apparently fallen asleep, fully clothed, snuggled up with Cas, he also noticed they had a witness.
Charlie was standing in the door way smirking at him and when their eyes met she gave him a “really?” look. Dean did his best to carefully extricate himself from Castiel without waking the sleeping man and followed her into the kitchen.
“We need to talk.” Charlie began, then hesitated, it wasn’t like her to not say what was on her mind,
whatever it was must be serious.
“Oh Charlie, are you breaking up with me, after everything we’ve been through, that’s cold.” He
kept his tone light despite the gnawing concern inside him.
She rolled her eyes at that, “It’s about Castiel….I think we made a mistake when we “borrowed’ him. I
don’t think we can go through with our original plan, at this point it feels wrong.”
Dean felt like a weight had been lifted off of him, he had been trying to find a way to bring up this exact
subject. He had been pre$y sure Charlie would feel the same way, but she was in this as deep as he was
and he had been afraid she might not be having second thoughts like he was.
“I couldn’t agree more.” At his words he could see some of the tension leave Charlie as well, apparently
she had been as worried about this conversaon as he had been.
“Cas has no idea where this cabin is, and I have a pretty good feeling he’s pretty motivated not to go to the cops. We could cut our losses and get out. Cas isn’t going to do anything to draw attention to himself, so he isn’t exactly going to make a fuss about the whole kidnapping thing. We can take him back to town, drop him off and be on our way. He never has to anywhere we are going and we never see each other again. I know it’s not exactly what you wanted but given what we know now, I think it’s the best solution for everyone involved. We part ways and never see each other again.”
Dean shifted, feeling uncertain. She was right, it was the best solution for everyone. No harm, no loss. But he couldn’t go back to the way things were. It couldn’t end. He needed justice for his family if he was ever to know peace. But it was more than that…
“I can’t walk away. Not now. I’m in too deep to get out.”
Charlie narrowed her eyes at him, “Have you developed Stockholm syndrome? Is that what this is about?”
“I don’t think that’s how that works. I’m pretty sure only the victim develops Stockholm syndrome, besides, doesn’t that take a long time? I don’t think a week’s enough.”
She stared at him for a moment before speaking, “That wasn’t really my point. You want to save him, don’t you?”
“I’m not going to ‘rescue’ anyone. I’m not a knight in shining armor and Cas isn’t a princess in a tower….but yeah, I want to help him. I think we owe it to him. I mean, he was doing fine before we came along, but we can’t leave it the way it is. He needs us, if we can help him, I think we have an obligation to.”
Once Cas was finally awake and Dean had given him his fool proof hanger over cure, he sat Cas down to talk to him about what he and Charlie had decided to do.
“Charlie and I,” Since Cas already knew who he was, he had given up on the presence of fake names, “we have a plan. Do you trust me?”
“I do trust you, perhaps I shouldn’t, but I do. I don’t believe many people have ever treated me as well as you have.”
“Okay, that’s a whole level of fucked up we are going to set aside to deal with later. For now we have a downfall to plot.”
Dean glanced between Cas and Charlie. Honestly, it had never occurred to him that Dick Roman wouldn’t pay up. His family had their issues, but he knew that his dad would have done anything to keep him and Sam safe. “Actually, this whole ‘kidnapping thing’ was our plan B. I mean, it wasn’t like kidnapping was my first choice.”
Castiel perked up at that, “What was plan A?”
It had been something he had been thinking about, there was a small glimmer of hope that his plan might actually work. But it would require the help of Cas, a possibility that had seemed impossible. “Charlie created this program sort of thing.” He didn’t entirely understand most of what she did, but he did know that she was the best at what she did. No one was quite like her. “If she could get it installed in Dick’s computer than she could hack him, clear out his bank accounts, have access to everything. The only problem is Dick is too careful. He has too many security measures in place. Every time she tried to gain access, he blocked her out. If we could get close enough to him that someone could put a thumbdrive in his computer then Charlie could gain access. I didn’t think that was ever going to happen. But now… you could get me in. Tell me everything, security codes, weaknesses, the whole nine yards and I could gain access to Dick’s computer.”
It would be perfect, he barely dared hope that it could finally end.
“No.” Cas’ reply came through him like a knife.
“What do you mean ‘no’?” Dean’s eyes narrowed, a dangerous tone to his voice.
“I…uh…I mean no. It’s too dangerous. He would catch you and that would be the end of it. He could make you disappear. But he wouldn’t even have to. If someone like him catches an intruder in his home, it would be an easy thing for him to claim self-defense if something unfortunate happened. You can’t do it….but I can. I can tell him that I escaped. He doesn’t exactly trust me, but I he wouldn’t be suspicious of me either. He thinks he has me properly cowed. I could do it and he wouldn’t suspect a thing until it was too late.”
“And what about afterwards? What would happen when he realized what had happened, right after your miraculous return home? You think he wouldn’t suspect you then?”
“I could –“
“No. Fuck no.”
“But Dean –“
“No. End of story.”
There was a tense moment when he thought Cas was going to keep arguing with him, but with a breath he could see all the fight leave the other man.
“Fine. We’ll do it your way.”
The glimmer of hope in Dean flared into a beacon, this was happening, he could get everything he wanted, and keep Cas safe while he was at it. Dean’s celebration was short lived though.
“But I want out. I’m done. If you're going to risk your life, then fine, that’s your prerogative. But then I don’t want to be a part of it. I want that packet that Lilith gave me, and once I’m on my way to a new life, then I’ll text Charlie everything you need to know.” There was a dark edge to Cas’ voice and Dean knew he wasn’t messing around.
“Cas, we can talk about this.” He hated how desperate he sounded.
“I think I’ve had enough of controlling men.”
Dean’s clenched his teeth together to prevent himself from speaking rashly. After a beat he replied, “Fine. I’ll go get it.” He turned and walked out without waiting for a reply.
The drive to the bus station was a quiet one for the most part. Cas was slumped over against the door staring out the window. His normal rigid posture had relaxed and right now it made the man look like he was weighed down unable to sit straight. Dean shifted, feeling restless as he drove. He reached for the dial to play music, then had second thoughts and withdrew his hand. He started to speak, then stopped. He wasn’t sure what the right thing to say was, and honestly he didn’t know what he wanted to say. Given the circumstances nothing seemed quite right.
“I’m sorry.” Castiel didn’t look away from the window as he spoke and voice sounded as defeated as his posture made him look.
“You’re sorry?” His voice betrayed his shock and disbelief. “What are you sorry for? Wait…is this Stockholm syndrome? Is that what’s going on?” He hadn’t ever given someone Stockholm syndrome before and he wasn’t entirely sure what to do about it if he did.
Cas did look over at that, “no, I don’t have Stockholm syndrome.” ‘You idiot’ was not stated outright, but was clearly sub textual given Cas’s tone. “Stockholm syndrome would require an extremely long period of captivity, and even then is quite rare.”
“Well, I’m sorry then. I didn’t exactly read up on Stockholm syndrome. It didn’t occur to me beforehand….you know what? That’s not the point. What are you sorry about?”
Cas sat silently and Dean wondered if he had reconsidered what he was going to say. “I’m sorry for everything. I was selfish. I wanted to get away from my father. I didn’t think about all of his victims. That’s not true. I did think about it, but I didn’t try to fix it. I only thought about myself. I’m sorry you were caught up in all of this.”
“Cas, this is not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. Evil men like him are to blame, people who think they can do whatever the hell they want without consequence.”
Castiel looked at him for a long moment but didn’t respond, and the silence filled the confined space before Cas looked away, back out the window. Dean wanted to understand what was going on in his head, what he was thinking, but he knew he had no right to ask.
They arrived at their destination and Dean turned off the engine. He took a deep breath and tried to draw out the last few moments they had together.
“Where will you go?”
“It’s probably best you don’t know.” Castiel’s voice was even, but it cut through Dean like a knife.
“Okay.” His reply was curt but if Cas noticed he didn’t say anything.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve been kidnapped.” The non sequitur surprised him, but he didn’t respond and Cas continued.
“I was 10. It wasn’t too long after my mom died, I was out at the park with my nanny and a man grabbed me. I was so scared, but he took me to this old house with a creaky porch and gave me candy and I watched TV with his sister. I had so much fun that I begged them not to give me back. I didn’t want to leave and return to my father. I think his sister was considering it, but he talked her out of it. My father is a dangerous man, and they had already crossed him, I think he thought ransom was one thing; actually keeping a child was too dangerous. My dad paid the ransom; I cried the day they returned me to him. I refused to tell the police–or him–anything. I told them that I didn’t see who took me and that I had no information to give them. I don’t think my father believed me, but he couldn’t prove anything. But there was something about that day. He was so happy to have me back that I think he was scared for me. It was the first time in a long time that I started to feel like he loved me. My nanny was fired, and he was good to me for a little while after that. I even began to believe he might have changed. But then he went back to being his old self, not all at once, by degrees. But eventually his true nature reasserted itself. That’s what it comes down to I think, people can pretend to be something they are not, but who they are will present itself, eventually.”
Dean sat silently for a few moments, uncertain what to say to that. He finally settled on, “So is this the part where you ask me not to let you go? Just keep you here with me.” He kept his tone flippant but there was a knot in his chest as he waited for an answer.
Castiel gave a soft sigh, “I’m not a child, or a lost dog Dean. I don’t expect you to keep me, or save me. I can take care of myself. As it happens, I was doing a pretty good job getting away from my father on my own. At least, that’s what I was telling myself. But I’ll never be free. He isn’t the sort of person who lets people go. He would have found me eventually, and even I did get away, it would have meant living with the guilt that I didn’t do anything to try to stop him. I’ll never be free of him, not as long as I’m alive–or he is.”
He wanted to say something, he wanted to promise Castiel everything would be okay. He wanted to tell him he had a plan, and that soon enough everything would be over. But he couldn’t promise that, and the last thing Castiel needed was one more person making promises they couldn’t keep. But what he could do was help Castiel take control of his own life.
“Then I suggest you get going. The sooner you're safely off to wherever the fuck you're going, the sooner Charlie and I can take care of our end.” There was no point in drawing this out any longer.
Castiel just nodded and opened the door, stepping out, before closing it behind him with a sound of finality.
Dean paced back and forth across the floor, the old wooden boards creaking in protest with each heavy step.
“It hasn’t been that long, Dean, he’ll come through.”
“It’s been hours Charlie, fucking hours. Maybe that whole ‘woe is me’ thing was an act. Maybe he went straight back to Dick fucking Roman and called the cops or something.”
“You don’t really believe that. And even if he did, you didn’t exactly have a choice. Dick was going to pony up ransom and you couldn’t exactly drag Castiel around with you for the rest of your life.”
Dean narrowed his eyes at her and started to reply, then stopped. She was right, of course he knew that. It didn’t change the fact that he could have let his best and only shot at taking down Dick slip away.
“Are you worried he won’t come through? Or are you worried something might have happened to him?”
“Cas is fine.” He snapped. He was fine, he had to be.
“Okay, sorry I said anything.” Charlie put her hands up in mock surrender and left Dean to return to his pacing.