AUTHOR: thechameleonnn, clownfrogg
WORD COUNT: 5,271
SUMMARY: AU. Dean is a nurse, Cas is a cop. Cas is shot in the shoulder and Dean nurses him back to health. In the months that transpire, they become good friends and fall in love. However, happiness always comes at a cost for Dean Winchester...
WARNINGS: Implications of rape/non-con
He was drowning.
Every desperate, needy breath was like a dagger slicing into his lungs between the two bottom ribs on his left side. He remembered being hit there with something; they must’ve cracked. It reminded him of high school, freshman year when Chester Kubrick tackled him out on the blacktop during gym class. He was the largest, defensive tackle in their school’s JV division and he thought it would be funny to haze the new kid while he wasn’t looking. Dean, of course, instantly lost his mysterious outsider cred when he had to be carried to the nurse’s office by the coach. Luckily, the Winchesters didn’t stay in Pittsburgh for very long.
Sharp blue and red lights flashed before his eyes, jolting him back to the mouth of the alleyway. He remembered being dragged there and heard a shot ring out, but he didn’t know who started it; only that the officer on duty had finished it.
He felt someone’s hands on his body, pulling him into the light, pushing him to rest up against a cold, metal dumpster. They felt intimately along his torso; pressing, prodding, and patting over his shirt. Dean groaned and the sound vibrated against his sore ribcage. He turned his face away, acquiescing to the hands as they made their way up to his face and cupped his jaw.
“Are you alright?”
But he couldn’t answer because his tongue was too big for his mouth and he tasted nothing but salt.
Sound was a vacuum – muffled and thick, whistling as though it were being pulled very quickly through the small end of a funnel. He’d been sitting there for what felt like an eternity. His naked skin was ghostly and all the fine blonde hairs on his thighs stood on end. Goosebumps broke out all over his body and that’s when he felt the chill spread through him like boney fingers exploring and stroking at his very soul. He wanted to shed it like a snake and crawl away; to hide from those penetrating, concerned blue eyes.
Dean was pulled forward and leaned against the man’s warm body. He watched the ground fall away as he was hauled to his feet and half-dragged, half-carried to a police cruiser. A heavy fabric was wrapped around him and he was ushered gently into the backseat where he curled in on himself, trembling. A wave of nausea punched him in the guts as he took in the smell of the leather interior, a faint trace of cigarette smoke, and coffee. He looked up to see only the back of the officers’ heads as the car pulled onto the street. He could hear their voices as they whispered tersely to back and forth, but it didn’t matter what they were saying because Dean didn’t care.
The sirens were blaring, but he was exhausted, and closed his eyes, falling asleep to the shrill, pulsating lullaby they seemed to emit.
He was just so tired.
* * *
Cas exploded into Taylor’s office at 6:05am.
The door hit the wall so hard, it banged against the stopper and swung back until it clicked shut of its own accord. He snapped the deadbolt in place and turned to see Taylor rise up slowly from behind his desk. He raised both palms in peace, but said nothing as Cas locked eyes with him. For a long moment, nobody spoke; nobody moved. Taylor noticed the blood smeared on the front of the officer’s shirt and choked back the anger and revulsion burning like bile in his throat.
“Officer St. James—”
Cas walked around the desk and grabbed him by the lapels of his long, white coat before the doctor could get out another word.
“You left him there,” Cas’s deep voice reverberated through Taylor’s chest. He could see that the officer’s pupils were blown and heard Cas’s knuckles pop as he tightened his hands into fists.
“You left him there!”
“What could I have done?” His voice trembled and he fought to keep it steady. Truthfully, he felt nothing but shame and guilt ever since he got back to his office. He didn’t hear anything when they hauled Dean away; no screams, no drunken ramblings. Nothing but a single plea for help in the form of his own name. Dean had called out to him; it was the last thing he heard before they did god knows what. He knew he’d have nightmares about it for a long time. The fact that he didn’t go back for Dean because the fear outweighed the guilt in his heart made him a true coward, but he couldn’t take it back. Not now; not ever.
He remembered it so vividly. He heard his name – the concern and confusion in Dean’s voice – and swung wildly, hitting the knife wielding thug in the face with the heel of his palm. Then he spun and round-house kicked the other guy in the stomach like he was Jackie fucking Chan and leaped over him in the scramble to get the hell out of Dodge. This was exactly the reason he signed up for those karate classes – he knew a guy back in med school who got gay bashed in broad daylight outside of a frat house – he still woke up in cold sweat over it sometimes. People were talking about that poor son of a bitch like he brought it on himself and that’s when Taylor realized he needed to learn how to defend himself if he wanted to be open about his sexuality.
Still, Taylor couldn’t shake the chill he got just thinking about the glee in that thug’s eyes when the cold blade was pressed against his throat. It was absolutely horrifying to think that someone could derive pleasure from killing a person just because the thought of two guys kissing was too much for him to bear. All Taylor could think about was Paul Sullivan back in college and the pictures they broadcast of his battered face on the news.
So, Taylor ran. He hopped into his car, peeled off down the street at sixty in five, and called the police when he could get his hand to stop shaking long enough to dial properly.
“There were five of them. They put a knife to my neck.” He flinched as Cas launched forward and slammed Taylor against the window, crushing him against the blinds. “I left to get help!” He cried. “Who do you think called 9-1-1?”
Cas’s eyes raked over his face, taking in the sight of Taylor’s bruised cheekbone and the bandage on his neck. It wasn’t enough to lessen his anger, but it let him know that Taylor was, in fact, a victim of circumstance.
A muscle jumped in his jaw and he fought down the urge to slam a fist into the doctor’s stomach anyway. He didn’t want to be convinced that Taylor had a hand in helping Dean. He didn’t want to lay his blame on someone else. There was a good scapegoat here and now, so why not just take out his frustrations and give this guy the beating he wanted to give him ever since that night he found out Dean had a boyfriend. It was selfish and excessive and rotten of him to stand there and let his jealousy fester while Dean was lying broken in a hospital bed, but thinking of Taylor always brought out the worst in him. Besides, what the hell did a couple scrapes and bruises mean in the long run? For all he knew, those men were Taylor’s buddies and the whole goddamn thing was a setup.
Still, he was already in enough trouble with the Captain and reluctantly decided that beating Taylor up wasn’t worth the risk to his career. He unfurled his hands and took a step back, glaring into the doctor’s eyes before he turned away and crossed the room.
“I thought you’d see reason,” Taylor said and smoothed out the front of his clothes.
“Don’t tempt me,” Cas warned, and approached the side window, using a finger to pull down a section of the blinds. He peered down at the street below and saw Balthazar talking animatedly with a news crew whose van was parked illegally next to a fire hydrant. He felt relief as he saw his partner whip out a ticket book and wave it threateningly at the male anchor. He pointed a finger at the bespeckled camera woman as if to say, you too, sweetheart!, and watched them dejectedly pack up their stuff and leave.
Taylor took a hesitant step toward his desk and settled for gripping the back of the chair instead of sitting down in it. He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again and said finally, “Did you catch them?”
“Yes.” Cas turned around to face him, fists clenched and shoulders bunched up. It was a partial lie, but Taylor didn’t need to know that. He didn’t need to know that he was a suspect, either. Not yet.
“What are you going to do?” Taylor asked. “Have you been to see him yet?”
“He’s getting stitches.”
“I could go down and see if—”
“You stay away from him,” Cas moved toward the desk.
“He doesn’t want to see me anyway,” Taylor said, and lowered his eyes.
“You have some nerve—” Cas walked around the desk as Taylor backed up with the chair.
“I didn’t want this to happen!” Taylor shoved the chair into the desk and knocked a stack of papers onto the floor. It was dramatic, yes, but he was sick and tired of the accusations; the judgment. He didn’t deserve that. What was he supposed to do? What if they had decided to take their anger out on him as well? “Should I have stayed and gotten us both killed?”
“No,” Cas looked surprised.
“Then calm down. He needs comfort now. More than ever.”
“I’m handling it.”
“When I went to his room, he was out like a light,” Taylor offered. “The morphine, the stress…I most certainly did not speak with him. I just—I know he wouldn’t want to see me. That’s all.”
“I can’t imagine why,” Cas said through gritted teeth.
“He doesn’t need your protection,” Taylor fired back, feeling the shame and nausea bubble up to the back of his throat. “I made sure to keep the hospital security detail posted outside of his room. Christ, I even gave him two months off. Paid.”
Cas’s nostrils flared and he felt fire in his chest. He wanted so badly to believe that Taylor was not a good person. He wanted to punch holes in his logic and illustrate that everything he did was wrong, but the fact of the matter was that Taylor had it all under control. He knew all the right things to say and took all the appropriate steps to help pave the road to Dean’s recovery.
“He’s going to need somebody to talk to,” Cas grunted.
“I’ve got some references.”
“I want eight options emailed to me before noon,” Cas snapped, feeling incredibly small and useless. He picked up a pen and jotted his information down on a piece of computer paper from Taylor’s printer. “That’s my cell, email, and office number.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Taylor nodded and fixed his chair, regaining that cool, calm demeanor he so often exuded.
When neither of them moved to shake hands, Cas turned on his heel and swept out of the office, trying to hide the fact that he had no clue what to do next. All he wanted was to find the one that ran away from the scene of the crime and break his neck.
Cas just couldn’t shake the memory of Dean’s limp, compliant body bent over that wooden table; or the hands curled possessively around his naked hips; or the broken look in his eyes when Cas was finally able to pull him away to safety.
No. He wouldn’t be able to sleep peacefully for a long time.
* * *
When Dean woke up, he felt like his whole body weighed about a thousand pounds and his throat was on fire. He noticed that the curtains were drawn and that the only light came from the monitors bleeping around the bed in random succession. The darkness was good for his eyes, which felt puffy and strained from the tears he wouldn’t admit to shedding. When he turned his head to check the morphine drip, he felt stitches straining at the hollow of his throat where someone had cut him. Then he dropped his eyes to the medical bracelet around his left wrist and suddenly forgot how to breathe.
Mercy General Hospital.
The realization hit him like a two-by-four right in the guts. He didn’t really remember much of anything after he was placed in the back of the police squad car; but the thought of being brought to his own hospital where his friends and co-workers could see what had happened to him made tears spring instantly to his eyes. He wanted to curl up and die right there.
They would have seen the knife wound on his neck and the bruises on his face, wrists, hips, ass, and inner thighs. They would have used the kit on him to collect evidence. They would have examined him intimately while he was unconscious, and Dean felt violated and betrayed all over again. He wanted to scream at the injustice of it all, but his mouth and throat felt cracked and dry. Every time he swallowed, it was like sandpaper scraping against the back of his tongue. Every time he tried to breathe in through his nose, he smelled copper and knew that there must be dried blood caked inside his nasal passage.
Of all places, Mercy General.
Dean couldn’t tell by the state he was in or the vague hint of light outside the curtain just how long he was out. He wondered if Rodrigo or Jo – please not Jo – was his attending nurse. He wondered what had become of Taylor and if he was alright. But most of all, he wondered what the bearded man had meant by what he said and why they hurt him instead of slitting his throat right then and there.
The machine beside his bed beeped, signaling that the morphine would begin to drip out the next dose. Dean closed his burning eyes and let a dreamless sleep grab hold of him again, wishing in vain that he wouldn’t wake up a second time.
Very slowly, the pain, both physical and emotional, began to fade away as Dean drifted off.
* * *
“Again. For the last time.”
Captain Anna Milton’s eyes bore into Cas as he stood in front of her desk with Balthazar at his side. He’d been standing there for an hour, but for the most part, Milton was quiet. She made Cas run through his story three times already, and at this point, he felt like the walls were closing in on him in her small, uncomfortably bright office.
“Captain, please,” he said.
“It is vital that everyone is on the same page with this, St. James. You screw up even the tiniest little detail, and this will all come crashing down around you. Not me. Not him,” she jerked a thumb in Balthazar’s general direction, “you.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” He snapped.
“Watch your tone.”
They stood there, trading glares in silence while Balthazar fidgeted with the hem of his jacket. Cas wished the ground would just open up and swallow the pair of them. He was so tired. Drained. And in his mind’s eye, a bearded man with grotesquely exaggerated features was leaning over his best friend in a darkened alley, rolling his hips over and over again, laughing.
“It was late,” Cas ground his teeth, “dispatch sent out a call to whatever cars were in the area about a sexual assault in an alley off State Street. We were already in the vicinity. When we got there I…” a muscle jumped in Cas’s jaw as he fought to keep composed, “...caught the perpetrator in the act of—” his voice broke and he closed his mouth before he began to flounder. How she could justify making him say it again and again was beyond him at this point. He shouldn’t be there; he should at Mercy, making sure Dean was being treated properly. Making sure he had water if got thirsty or changing the channel on the TV if he got bored. Christ, he didn’t even know if Dean was awake yet and the thought of not being there made his blood boil and fist clench.
“Cas—” Balthazar caught his arm as Cas swung around to face the door.
“I’m not gonna stand here and relive what those sickos did to my friend,” he jerked his arm free. “I got it, okay? I got the goddamn story straight. If you need me for something important, I’ll be at Mercy.”
“Castiel,” Anna said, her tone sharp enough to make him spare her a fleeting look as his hand hovered above the doorknob. “Four weeks. Are we clear?”
“Good,” she said and finally took his badge and gun off the desk top and shoved them into a drawer. “I’ll have your these returned to you when you’re finished.”
Balthazar watched Cas storm out of the office without another word, then turned slowly to face the Captain.
“That went rather swimmingly if I do say so myself,” he ventured. He watched Anna pinch the bridge of her nose, then sink down into the plush leather chair behind her desk. “Anna,” he sat across from her in one of the guest chairs and leaned forward to drum his fingers on the mahogany. “I don’t think Cas will be a problem; he knows the—”
“Not a problem? You were standing right there, Balthazar. You saw what he did to that man.”
“I know, yes, but—”
“He needs time. He clearly needs time. For now, it’s you and Morgan.”
“Stick in the mud.”
“Cool, it Baz. You can tolerate her for four weeks.”
“Pinch me, please, I’m dreaming.”
“Get out of my office; I don’t want to hear it.”
“Very well. Auf Wiedersehen, mein Kapitän.”
“So dramatic,” she rolled her eyes.
With that, Balthazar rose to his feet and dragged himself out of Anna’s office to go inform Detective Hester Morgan of their temporary partnership.
* * *
When Dean woke up, he hurt much less than he did before. He also thought he was alone again and jolted at the sudden burst of movement beside him. Through bleary eyes, he discerned the broad shoulders, messy dark hair, and lean body of his best friend retrieving a paper cup from the nightstand. Cas was there, waiting for him to wake up, sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours, maybe, until this very moment.
“Cas,” he said hoarsely, and felt the strain on his vocal chords. He looked up and caught that familiar, electric gaze as Cas tipped the cup to his dry, cracked lips.
“Drink, Dean,” Cas said and held the cup until Dean had his fill.
“How long was I out?”
“It’s been about a day. The nurse told me that was a good thing; that you needed to rest.”
Dean turned his face away and Cas could see the struggle contorting his features as he tried to figure out what to say next.
“Are you alrigh—?”
“Why didn’t you just leave me there?” Dean closed his eyes, feeling them burn with unshed tears.
Cas blinked owlishly at Dean as his stomach turned over; leave him there? “None of this was your fault,” he intoned deeply. “You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he shifted to sit on the edge of the bed and hunched his shoulders as he fought to maintain a wholly unthreatening position. All he wanted to do was go back down to the precinct and throttle the captives there within inches of their lives.
“No,” Dean’s tongue darted out to moisten his lips. “One of ‘em knew me, Cas. The guy with the beard. He knew my name.” It was weighing heavy in his mind ever since the man looked at his license and said it out loud; a coincidence gone horribly wrong. Beard looked and sounded so surprised at the sight of Dean’s face…those gray eyes bore into the very soul of him. Words reaching down his throat like a scythe and cutting him up from the inside out; warm, baby-soft hands touching his body, touching him everywhere. He took a breath and felt the lump in his throat swell until he could no longer hold back the tears and was openly weeping in front of Cas.
“Dean,” Cas’s hands tightened into fists. He stared down at his knees as he fought off a wave of nausea. “I’d give anything not to have you feel like this,” he choked out and looked at the bruises standing out in stark contrast against Dean’s pale face. He felt feral; vicious. “I’ll find him…I’ll make him pay for what he did to you—”
“No—” Dean shifted back against the pillows to sit up a little better. He reached out and curled a trembling hand around Cas’s forearm, then mustered up the strength to squeeze firmly. “No.”
“No?” Cas moved closer, spurred by the unyielding urge to protect and shelter his friend. “What do you mean no?”
“I mean no, dammit. Just no. I don’t want you going anywhere near him.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Just don’t, okay!?”
Cas closed his mouth and pressed his lips together tightly, acquiescing to the tremor in Dean’s voice. If it made Dean feel better, then he wouldn’t talk about it anymore; wouldn’t think about hunting that bastard down like a dog through the city and putting him down like one.
“The son of a bitch isn’t worth it,” Dean sniffed hard and forced the lump back down, channeling his pain into anger. The thought of Cas facing his attackers made him sick to his stomach. How Cas would cuff them; arrest them; put them in jail. Make him testify; oh god; what if he had to testify? He couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to see their smug, ugly faces from across the bench in a court of law as he gave testimony to what they did to him that night. Dean didn’t even think it was possible to verbalize it to a room full of people. He felt so ashamed; so weak. Vulnerable, even. It was like his manhood was ripped away in the blink of an eye. God, if his father could see him now…
The silence grew and festered between them until the sound of his sharp, ragged breaths indicated to Cas that he was once again crying. He lifted a heavy hand up to wipe away the wetness on his face and set his jaw, willing himself to man up and shut up. He ventured a glance over at Cas and saw only hardness there; no pity or sympathy. It was a shockingly welcome relief.
"When I was shot, I cried sometimes. Because of how much it hurt,” Cas ventured.
"Liar. I never saw you cry. "
"When I was alone, I cried. Especially after therapy; and the only thing that made me happy—” Cas worked a muscle in his jaw, brow creasing like he wasn’t sure he ought to be speaking right now, “the only thing that made me happy was seeing you. And attempting to play checkers. And having you come fluff up my pillows and feed me jello."
Dean looked at him finally, managing to roll his bloodshot eyes.
"Nobody’s ever done anything like that for me before,” Cas looked down as Dean’s hand tightened ever so slightly on his forearm. He tilted his face and caught those green eyes with his own blue ones and said, “Maybe I wasn't clear about it at the time, but I’m incredibly grateful to you."
"C’mon, you were hurt fightin'. This—me? I’m just pathetic."
"You are not pathetic. This is not your fault.”
Dean drew his hand away from Cas’s arm, then slipped it back under the blanket, tucked in up to his chin. Just that little bit of contact – from his best friend – made him feel queasy. He wondered how long it would be until the feeling went away for good. How long he’d be having nightmares and crying like a girl. How long until he felt some semblance of normalcy about himself again…
“Okay,” Cas said, resuming a conversation they hadn’t been having. He stood up and carefully replaced the chair he’d been sitting in all night to its spot under the window. “I insist you get some rest.”
“I am kinda tired,” Dean yawned.
“Sleep well,” Cas said, adjusting the privacy curtain around the bed. He listened to Dean shifting on the lumpy mattress for a moment, then walked to the door.
“Thanks,” Dean said so softly that Cas almost missed it. He paused with his hand on the door handle and took a deep breath before walking out.
It was only as Dean was drifting off that he suddenly realized the gravity of what Cas said earlier about the bearded man: find him. That meant he was still out there.
The desire to sleep disappeared as swiftly as it had fallen over him and Dean curled up tight under the blanket, wondering if Beard would remember the address that was stamped on his license.
Wondering if Beard would be there when he got home…
* * *
It was late when Cas pulled up along Cooper Street in the cruiser and he was grateful for the cover of night. Otherwise, he’d have to deal with odd looks from the Rutgers students as somebody who simply didn’t belong on campus. He had debated with himself all evening about even showing up, but the pros outweighed the cons and in the end, he found himself trudging up the walkway to the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs with a chip on his shoulder.
There was a woman already standing in room 221-B when he arrived, writing with a marker on a white board and surrounded by a grouping of empty hard-plastic, maroon colored chairs.
Cas could kick himself for acquiescing to the Captain’s demands. He shouldn’t be standing in university lecture hall. He was useful in the field; the best in the game, and he couldn’t help but feel that the punishment didn’t fit the so-called ‘crime’.
“Well, hey there, Columbo. I wasn’t expecting you to show.”
He finally realized that the woman was looking at him; talking to him.
“Columbo..?” He squinted at her, watching the sway of her hips as she sauntered right up to him, cradling a clipboard to her breast.
“I haven’t seen a get-up like that since San Diego Comic Con circa 1978,” she flashed him a brilliant white smile and held out a limp hand. “Meg Masters. And you’re Castiel St. James.”
“I’d say it was nice to meet you under different circumstances,” he gripped her hand and shook firmly.
“Straight shooter; I like that quality in a man.” She chose a seat, seemingly at random, and crossed her legs at knee. The clipboard balanced there, teetering on the edge, while she looked up at him patiently.
“Let’s just cut to the chase. I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to be,” he muttered and shrugged out of his overcoat. He dropped into a chair directly across from her and folded his arms, glowering like a surly teenage boy.
“You don’t believe you deserve this, do you, Cas.”
“Officer St. James.”
“Officer,” she gave him a slow, easy smile.
“No, I don’t.”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss the pertinent details of an on-going investigation with a group ther—”
“Oh, this isn’t group therapy, Officer. It’s just you and me, all by our lonesome.”
“But there are eleven chairs here—”
“Officer,” she leaned back in her seat and folded her arms across her chest. “Now, I know they told you who I am. There’s no need to try and get out of this. This is a mandatory counseling session that you’re supposed to attend twice a week for four weeks while you’re on suspension, but I don’t want you to feel like you’re on trial, because you’re not. I’m here to help you and everything that’s discussed between us is strictly confidential in adherence with your Captain’s orders. Nothing leaves this circle; do you understand?”
“I understand.” Cas looked away, feeling incredibly foolish.
“Good. Now, why don’t we start at the beginning…”
* * *
All week long he felt eyes on him whenever the door was left open a crack. No matter who was walking by, someone wanted to catch a glimpse of him. He knew it was because they were his friends; if one of the other nurses had been brought in looking like he did that night, he’d be damn sure concerned about them as well. But he just couldn’t take it any longer.
Dean was sitting up in bed on the sixth night, having been weaned from morphine to pills in a short amount of time. He didn’t like the idea of being dependent on drugs and was insistent and hands on about his treatment, much to the chagrin of the hospital staff, but they put up with all of his antics.
Jo was even kind enough to let Dean pretend to be asleep whenever she had to come in and check on him, but enough pity was enough, and he picked up his phone.
* * *
Cas was in bed when he got the call.
His phone buzzed and buzzed until it vibrated right off his nightstand and onto the floor. With a groan, his hand snaked out from under the warm comforter as he groped on the floor to pick it up.
“Hello?” He croaked.
“Cas, come get me.”
“Dean?” He sat bolt upright in bed and scrubbed the sleep from his eyes.
“Right now, Cas.”
“What happened? You okay?” He slid out of bed and pulled a dirty pair of jeans out of the hamper, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder as he tugged them on.
“No.” A pause. “Yes.” A sigh. “I’m fine, but I’m goin’ nuts and I just wanna come home now. So, can you pick me up?”
“Dean,” Cas sighed and sat back down on the edge of his bed. He raked a hand through his hair and tried to ease the panic that had bubbled up in his chest. “You know I can’t do that.”
“Yes you can. I don’t have to be here. I can lay around at home in my own bed. You gotta come now, though, man. I can’t take this crummy food anymore and I will spend the next week apologizing for every time I made you choke it down if you just come get me.”
“I will not be held accountable for another attempted escape.”
“You’re a cop! Can’t you tell them to screw off?”
“Fine,” Cas got up and trudged to the bathroom to brush his teeth. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
But to Dean’s delight, Cas got there in ten.