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08 November 2013 @ 01:45 pm
.death doesn't have to be a lonely business, i/ii.  



{ person of interest!au, gen/pre-slash dean/castiel, pg xiii, art master post, story master post }

"We need not to be let alone.
We need to be really bothered once in a while.
How long is it since you were really bothered?
About something important, about something real?"
-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451.


At some point in his life, Dean thought he could have it. The Apple pie life: wife, house, dog, 2 kids; become the example of the American family. That's how he was raised, a policeman for a father, a stay at home mother with a baking hobby that left some extra money, and a younger brother. The dog was missing, but Dean was sure that had it existed, Sam would have called him "Bones". He had a stuffed animal named like that, which Dean used to make fun of, even if he found it somehow adorable from his little boy eyes. Just like everything about his baby brother Sam. Sam. Sam. Sam, who should be turning thirty today, May the 2nd. Dean can't really imagine his brother being that old. He'd be tall, for sure, taller than himself. Sam had wanted to be a cop like their father when he was four, then a doctor after he got chicken pox at six, and an astronaut for a brief period at about ten, a soccer player when he was twelve and, at age fifteen, he decided he was going to become a lawyer. Sam would have been a brilliant lawyer, defending all the good out there, putting the bad boys Dean caught in jail for good. If he didn't end up doing some girly save the planet kind of law… he could have done that. He would have totally done—

A soft noise, like the melody from a game, comes from the other end of Dean's bench in the park and distracts him. It comes from a kid that sat there without even noticing Dean, eyes fixated on the nest formed with his hands, where an iPod rests. Skinny, no more than eighteen, awkward, long limbs and thick rimmed glasses. Dean looks away from the kid, losing interest.

"Now that's a cool thing you have there," says a voice that regains Dean's attention. He can see that now in front of the kid stands a man; closer to Dean's age, about 5'6'' tall, not really well built, with a belly that shows he's been drinking more than enough beer, likely out of nothing better to do with his spare time and not actually to get drunk. You don't drink beer to get drunk, if you really want to get wasted you go for stronger things. The real stuff. And not the expensive, prissy kind of thing, no bourbon over twenty; anything that you could get on the supermarket for less than that can do the job faster than five bottles of beer. Dean knew that, he knew it very well.

"Can I borrow it for a bit?" the guy is pushing it, coming even closer to the bench, eyes switching from the iPod to the kid, back an forth, like an horny man staring at a chick's boobs and lips. The kid is doing a holy effort not to look at the man. He's scared, Dean can almost smell it, can almost count his accelerated heartbeat. He's clutching his iPod hard enough that Dean can see the white on his knuckles. Kids, Dean thinks, they don't know how to be careful and they want to show off all their toys, never mind where they were and who's around. Sam was like that too. He used to take his toy truck everywhere when he was five. Until that bastard Maurice West broke it. Dean broke Maureice's nose. His mother didn't make apple pie for a whole week. It was worth it anyway.

The man puts a hand on the bench close to the kid and Dean is not in the mood for this.

"Leave him alone," Dean snarls. The voice sounds strange to him, he hasn't been using it much and clearly bourbon is bad for vocal cords as it is for the liver.

"You said what?" the man turns his attention to him, taking a step back from the kid, who uses that moment to run away. He's not a total idiot at least. Sam would have stayed, Dean thinks. He was like that. He would have even said it was his duty.

"Hey, I'm talking to you!" the man insists, and Dean hates people screaming at him. Screams are annoying, mostly now, when he's hyper aware of everything, nursing a hangover.

"I heard you, man." Dean mutters back without moving his eyes towards the man.

"Look, dude, you scared my friend away, so I hope you got something to share with me."

Dean doesn't even look up, but he dodges the punch the man throws at him. Before the man tries to deliver another hit, Dean grabs the wrist closer to him and pulls at it while getting up, he puts enough strength in the movement to dislocate the shoulder. The guy yelps with a mix of surprise and pain, yet before Dean can do anything else like leaving him in the floor in front of the bench where he clearly belongs, the sound of someone taking the safety off of a gun calls Dean's attention and he stands back, making a show of bad balance he doesn't actually have; acting drunker may be safer.

"Party's over boys, you're coming with us."

Out of the corner of his eyes Dean can see the kid from earlier and he sighs, unsurprised.



Police Stations have their own particular smell. Dean was not only raised around a police station, he also decided to build his life around one. What was still weird, though, was being on the other side of the interrogation room. It had happened once to him already, many years ago, but it was so long ago that it seemed like another life, like it had happened to someone else. In a way, Dean knows, it did happen to someone else.

"I'm pretty sure I should be saying thank you and not harassing you with questions here," the woman who enters is severe looking even if her voice sounds soft. She's trying the good cop approach; Dean never got to play that. The memory almost makes him smile.

"You caught us a very elusive robber that has been around that park for about six months," she says, giving Dean a plastic cup with water while sitting in front of him with a brown folder. Dean takes a sip, he doesn't want to sound as bad as he did before if he's forced to talk to her.

"And with just one swift move… you knew what you were doing, I'm guessing it wasn't a lucky grab," she gives him what could be a polite smile, Dean only shrugs.
"Former military, maybe? It would make sense… good reflexes, the lack of violence towards other authorities and how you ended up in the streets. It's not easy coming back, less if you're alone when you do it."

That makes Dean look up, "no, it's not," he says, and if it's true or not is beside the point; he's aiming to get on her sympathetic side. He doesn't want her asking questions because anything he says can bring the attention of unwanted eyes and make him a target. He just wants to be gone without raising many eyebrows.

"I know," she says, and now her smile is almost real, the pity in her eyes unmistakable. Dean can play with this. "My name is Ellen Harvelle, what's yours?"

"What's so important about a name when there's no identity to go with it?" Dean grunts.

There's a knock on the door before she can say anything to that and a man on a well cut suit walks in with an officer. He looks like a lawyer, a lawyer that Dean didn't call and, for how he stands and dresses, that he can't even afford.

"I'm here for my client," the suit guy says, and behind him there's a cop giving Harvelle an apologetic look. She says nothing, takes everything away from the desk, nods at Dean and gets up, leaving without a second glance at anyone in the room.


Dean is outside the precinct a lot faster than he expected to be, with the lawyer to his side, and there's a black car with no plates parked right on their way. So much for a good ending to a bad day.

"I'm guessing the dude in the car is paying for all this."

"My employer would like a word with you on a neutral field."

Dean doesn't like the sound of that but he registers a pretty big guy coming out of the black car and opening the door for him and sighs. He didn't have plans for the rest of the day anyway. With a snort for his own thoughts he walks to the car and enters. The lawyer doesn't follow him and Dean finds himself alone in the back of car. Rented or very new, for it smells like fresh lemon, and there's another man driving that doesn't look as gigantic as the first one but he's surely trained, Dean presumes.

They don't drive for long and when they arrive to the back of a construction site right past the Queesboro Bridge. Dean wonders if they have finally found him; the fight with that asshole in the park hadn't been anything, but he did walk into a police station on his own, and even if he's dressed like a hobo, his hair is somewhat longer and dirty and half of his face is hidden by the beard, if you know what you were looking for, he'd be recognizable.

He wonders if Harvelle would identify his body once they were done with him. He snorts at for that idea, like they'd be stupid enough to leave a body. They will make sure he's dead, this time.

When the car stops, the same big guy than before opens the door for Dean, he grunts a 'thanks' and when he's out of the car he sees a man standing alone a few feet away. He's not really tall or big, couldn't be a match for Dean. He's wearing a slightly creepy trench coat that looks worn out and out of date. The heels of his shoes lack coloring and the back of his suit is a ratty black and rumpled; and Dean is the hobo here.

"I hope you're not aiming to get money from me," Dean starts jokingly, and the man turns to him. He has a two days stubble and a pair of piercing blue eyes that creep Dean out even more than the aftermentioned coat.

"No, I don't want money from you Mr. Winchester."

Dean tenses up at the rough voice and the used name, he's more apprehensive with this situation now; the man may look pretty harmless but he should remember that judging at first sight doesn't do the job right.

"I know that's an old name, so I hope it doesn't bother you if I use it; it's the one that fits better in this situation, I think."

"Look, dude, you know a name, great work at research, but I don't know who you are and I don't even want to know."

"But I know more than a name. I know you're Dean Winchester, even if you haven't responded to that in over ten years. I know you used to work for Kansas' Police Department and that after a bad decision and a sheer of good luck, for the lack of a better phrase, you ended up working for the government. Right now they think you're dead; yet you look over your shoulder at every corner waiting to see one of them following you. I know you've been drinking yourself to sleep to pretend to do something that resembles rest and that you live on the streets to hide. I also know that, right now, Detective Harvelle is convincing her lab tech to look at the prints she took from your plastic cup before any other work and that she'll find more than one positive match; but she won't be your problem, your problem will start if it reaches the higher ranks. And it will. I also know how to stop that from happening," the man pulls a smart phone from his pocket, "and I could do it, if you would just hear me out."

Dean can't focus on what to react to first, so he does his best at compartmentalization and goes for the immediate: he needs his prints put off the reach of any lab and any identification system. So he echoes the man's last words and says: "Just hear you out?"

"Yes, Mr. Winchester."

He looks around, the two guys that were in the car are now standing by its side, surely they're armed and even if none of them seems ready to hurt Dean, he knows they will be if needed. Dean is outnumbered, out of shape and there's that issue with his prints.

"Fine," Dean says without moving, "you work your magic and I'll listen. But we stay here while they stay inside the car."

The man nods and moves slightly away from Dean's eyesight, directing a hand gesture to the two big guys. Dean turns in time to see them re-enter the vehicle; when Dean looks back at the man, he's focused on his phone, fingers moving too fast for Dean’s eyes to keep the pace. He looks up and says: "done."

"Really?"

"You don't trust me, Mr. Winchester?"

"You haven't given me a reason to."

Dean can see the man's lip twitch in what might be a smile and he moves to the left again making another hand gesture. Dean then hears the sound of a car starting and sees the black vehicle going away. He's sure they're still close, but if he tries something right now, either escaping or even hurting the man in front of him, the driver and his companion would be too late or take too long to stop Dean.

Now, Dean is interested. He crosses his arms over his chest and with a raised eyebrow says: "I'm listening."

"Well, I don't like having my associates on disadvantage, so I'll introduce myself, I'm Mr. Novak."

"Are we associates?"

Novak blinks at the question and Dean can tell he's annoyed about being interrupted mid-sentence.

"We could be, if you happen to be interested in my job offer."

"Job offer," Dean echoes.

"I could get philosophical with you, Mr. Winchester, and call it a raison d'être, but I'm sure you won't appreciate that."

"No, I won't."

"Eight million people. You know what they have in common? None of them knows what happens next. Someone is murdered in New York every 18 hours. At the end of the day, one of these people will be gone."

"Those things happen all the time; you can't do anything to stop it."

"And if you could?" Novak asks, eyes fixated on Dean "Not things that happen in the heat of the moment or accidents. Many crimes are planned for days, weeks even. What if you could stop those?"

"You're shitting me."

"I know things Mr. Winchester," it's the calm reply, "I already proved you that. And like I knew about you I know a lot of things about a lot of people, mostly people who are going to be involved in very unfortunate, dangerous situations and they have no idea that anything's going to happen to them. They're ordinary people, living their ordinary lives. You could make the difference."

"You're delusional, man, that's what you are. There's no way anyone can know all that shit."

"The information I have, Mr. Winchester, is incomplete but never wrong. I don't have the abilities to find out more but you could provide me with those."

"So you want me for my abilities," Dean tries a suggestive eyebrow lift but gets no response. The man's face is cold and closed.

"You have an exclusive training that could come very handy given the situation."

Dean sighs at the reply, at the situation in general, letting his arms fall to the sides of his body. He looks up and straight to Novak's eyes before talking.

"Look, man, you need help. But not my kind of help, try someone who knows how to handle a crazy person," Dean turns and starts to walk away, then stops and turns again to face him. "I promised I'd listen, Mr. Novak, not that I'd accept. Thanks for the favor with the prints, do call if you want to chat about unlucky people again and your stalker hobby; but don't come sellin' at me, 'cause I ain't gonna be buyin'."

"Are you going to kill yourself, Mr. Winchester?" Novak speaks barely louder than before, but Dean has no issue hearing him. "Are you finally going to drink more than you can handle? Throw yourself under the subway lines? Jump from a bridge?"

Dean doesn't answer, he stares, waiting for whatever else the man may want to say.

"Because, I've been wondering why you haven't done it yet. It is because of your brother, Mr. Winchester? Do you believe Sam would think less of you if you committed suicide?"

"You bastard, don't you fucking dare to talk about Sam!" Dean lunches forward, closer, but that doesn't make Novak stop his speech.

"Or is it that sense of duty your father carved into your skin since you were a toddler? The same one that made you help your government, because that was what dad would have wanted his son to be: a fighter even at his worst. Not some lowlife suicidal vagabond." Dean is standing in front of him, yet Novak doesn't even finch away, like he's more worried with making his point than anything else. "Or is it because you don't want your mother to know that her brave older boy, the one who always stood up for his little brother, is no more than a coward who wants to end everything?"

Novak locks eyes with him before talking again.

"They're all dead, Dean. None of them is going to judge you if you do it."

Dean punches him, impulse getting the best of him. To Novak's credit, he takes it like a pro and he gets back on his feet cleaning the blood on his lip with a handkerchief.

"I probably deserved that," he admits, "but it doesn't make everything I said any less true." He puts the cloth on his pocket and looks again at Dean. "You have no reason to stay alive, Mr. Winchester, and I am only offering you an excuse to do it."

"Who the fuck are you?"

"A concerned third party," Novak replies. "How many times have you wondered if you could have saved your family if you hadn’t been on duty that very same night? How many times has that idea rolled around in your head, kept you awake?"

Dean grunts as a response, he doesn't even know if he could put a number on that.

"I can't go back in time and let you save them, but I can give you other people to save," Novak's eyes pin Dean in his place, "it's a lousy replacement I know, but I'd like to believe there's a reason why you haven't finished yourself off yet. I'd like to believe that the reason you became a police officer is still in you, that all you ever wanted to do was protect people."

Dean doesn't find an answer to that, so he just stares. He watches enough to see the slight wince on Novak's face. His cheek probably hurts. Maybe he should apologize for that.

"Though I have an awful habit of putting my faith in lost causes, or at least that's what I've been told," a sad outbreath and for the first time he starts to move away. "Let me know if you need a bottle of Jack Daniels, Mr. Winchester. If you're going to finish the job, better do it with some class."

Novak starts walking away and there's an annoying ring in the way his boots echo around the silent environment. Dean still pays attention to everything around him and misses the weight of a gun in his arm. He recalls the look on Harvelle's face when she mentioned being alone, the pity that was there; he thinks of Novak just now, recalling for Dean in detail that his whole family is dead, and there was no pity there. Just truth, facts, reality... things Dean can deal with, work with.

Dean remembers how his mother didn't want him to be a cop, she had enough with worrying about one of her boys already. His dad had glanced at him with so much pride when Dean told him he was enrolling. Sam said they'd catch bad guys together, that they'd be a team of superheroes. Dean always wanted to be Sam's superhero; hell, just for Sam, he'll be the sidekick. And his mother did smile the first time he tried on his uniform. She hugged him, too.

Fuck, he misses them. But it's not his time to go join them yet. Maybe—

"Do I get a first name?"

Novak stops walking, but doesn't turn.

"I'm not calling you Mister or Sir. I'm done working for the government, so, do I get a first name?"

"Cas."

"Cas?" Dean asks, catching up with him.

"Cas," the tone of his voice says it's final. "Are you going to do something for your appearance or do I have to take care of everything?"

Dean doesn't twist the question on his favor as he normally would, his mind still unsettled.

"I'll take care of it," is the half minded reply before he asks: "Were you really going to do it? Get me the bottle and find someone else for this crusade of yours?"

"I don't think there is someone else, but I would have tried," Novak replies, then after a moment he adds, "and yes, if you had asked, I would have. I wouldn't hold you against your will."

"Not even if I asked nicely?"

"Weren't we having a serious conversation?"

"Yeah, I don't do those for long."

"Clearly," Novak stops, and points at the black car that had brought Dean here, "take the car. We'll be in touch."


*



There's a car outside the motel where Dean stayed for the past two nights. Where he cut his hair short again and shaved fully, cut-clean just like his mother liked it. He even dressed with the suit he found waiting for him on the bed. Dean hadn't worn a suit in about a year, it felt nice. The white shirt was soft on his skin and the jacket was the perfect size. He looked at himself in the mirror and popped open the first few buttons on the shirt, remembering that this was how he looked for his first mission with the agency, too. The car that awaits him now is also lacking plates and is black, but it's not the same than last time. He sighs as he gets in, muttering "show off."

"Not really," comes the reply from inside, Cas is there with his eyes on his phone, "just safe."

"Aw, Cas, you came to pick me up on the first day of work, should I feel special?"

"No," he looks up then and stares at Dean for longer than necessary. "Thank you for shaving and dressing properly, you won't be calling that much attention now."

"Is that your way to tell me I look pretty now?"

"If I wanted to tell you that you look pretty, Mr. Winchester, I would," Cas says with his eyes back on his phone, "now, silence please, I'm working."

They drive long enough that Dean bores himself trying to get anything from Cas. He decides that he'll call him by his given name, or alias, just because it irks Cas a little, Dean can tell that much. Cas is awfully quiet for the whole ride and doesn't look up from the phone until the car stops. He exits in the same silence and Dean is about to start humming just to hear something when he discovers they've stopped inside of what looks like another abandoned construction site, or future demolition side, depends how you look at it.

"What is this?"

"They were going to build new apartments here, where this old library used to work. They were ready to break it all to the ground, never minding the books. So, I bought it. I don't think I saved the library of Alexandria, but it's something."

"Was that supposed to be a joke?" Dean asks, following Cas inside, who apparently pretends not to hear Dean, "because it was kinda lame."

"The contractor thinks there's an issue with the structure and the bank who owned this for a short time doesn't exist anymore. So neither does this place, in papers."

"Just like you."

That does get Cas' attention; "I'm glad to know you can still do research, Mr. Winchester, but I'm going to ask you not to. I am a very private person, and I'd like our relationship to remain professional and polite."

"Yes, Sir."

To that Cas' lips curl up slightly, "I thought you were done with that."

"You earned it with that freaking out speech you just did."

Cas turns away and enters what appears to be the library's main room. There are bookshelves at every wall taking most of the space in the room, but to the left Dean sees a group of computers working and beeping, a few monitors and a board with listed numbers and some pictures attached to them. He walks past Cas and to the board.

"Security numbers," Dean says eyeing everything suspiciously, "you have security numbers, not names."

"Yes," Cas says as he reaches for a bag and empties all its contents on the side of the computer's table. "There are six identities here, all backed up, all safely traceable if ever needed. Just like in your agency days."

"Exactly how loaded are you Cas?" he asks with a sigh, but he's pretty sure he won't get an answer so he adds another possible lost question: "and how do you get those?"

"None of that is important now," Cas waves his hand. "There's a small cabinet behind me, locked, the key is in the first drawer of the desk next to you."

Dean moves towards the desk after a brief nod and opens the drawer. Behind some worn out papers and what he's pretty sure is a Burger King receipt, he finds the key. He's about to turn and go towards the furniture that the key opens when he bumps straight into Cas.

"Sweet Jesus," he curses, backing up the small space he can, while the other man seems undisturbed, "what are you, a ninja?"

"If I was that especially trained I wouldn't require your assistance, would I?"

Dean sighs and decides to drop it because he sees no point in following the conversation; also, he's intrigued to find out what's behind the magic door. It pays off: there's a handbag inside the cabinet and it's like Christmas. There are at least five types of firearms, a knife, and enough bullets to get him through many days. It looks like he won't need to dig into his personal and well hidden arsenal just yet.

"While I am not a fan of those," Cas is saying from the desk, "I understand they're a necessity."

"Of course you're not a fan of guns," Dean smiles to himself while pulling out a small Taurus PT99, good enough for his ankle. He grins when he finds his kind of deal: a .45 caliber Colt MK IV pistol, complete with ivory grips.

"This isn't a lucky guess, right?" he asks to Cas as he loads the gun.

"There are no lucky guesses with me, Mr. Winchester."

"Of course not," having a gun on his leg and another by his back makes Dean feel immediately secure. Even more than lying low in the street for the past year. Even more than when Cas made the guys in the car drive away. And then it hits him, this shows that the man trusts him, Dean could shoot him right now and be gone with – with whatever he wanted, and no one would ever know.

"If you're done with your epiphany, Mr. Winchester, I'd like to begin with our work."

"And he also reads minds," Dean mocks.

Cas doesn't answer to that and Dean wonders briefly if the man is immune to teasing or he's just too professional about it. There's also the small chance of him not getting it. He made a joke about the Alexandria library, after all.

"We'll communicate with this," Cas pushes a small earpiece and its matching mouthpiece in front of Dean and next to it there's a cellphone and a memory stick. "And this is for you, too."

"With all these presents, I feel like I should get you something," Dean half jokes but Cas doesn't even make a noise in response, too busy with the monitor to his left.

"He's on the move and so should you," is the verbal reply Dean gets.

"Who?"

"Rufus Turner, forty-two years old, ex-convict, he's out on probation since January."

"And you got his number, nice," Dean puts on the earpiece; saves the ID he thinks could be the most useful and looks up again, "what was he in prison for?"

"They found him with a stash, too big for personal use but too small to make a business out of it."

"Where is he going?"

"He stopped at the Paley park," Cas looks slightly confused for a minute, "he's just sitting there."

"Okay, I'll go pick up a pretzel and look around, do you want me to get you anything?"

"No," Cas' eyes are glued to the computer, "I'll keep you informed about anything else I find about him."

"You do that," Dean replies before leaving the library.

Once outside he turns on the earpiece at the same time he catches the guys from his car ride two days ago and waves at them. Of course he gets no response. He should get nicknames for them; they seem like the kind of guys who would hate nicknames and they didn't wave back, so they have it coming.

"You gotta tell me your friends' name," Dean says to the earpiece as he walks down and into the first alive street he can see.

"Go to the park, Mr. Winchester."

"You're awfully bossy Cas, I hope you know that."

Cas makes a noise that could either be acceptance or exasperation, Dean decides he likes the first option better and answers accordingly: "as long as we're on the same page about that."


It's a sunny May day at the park; there are a lot of potential, defenseless victims around. Dean counts twelve kids, a handful of teens and not enough parents paying attention. There's a man playing with a pack of cigarettes while sitting under a tree, he's observing his surroundings just like Dean is, but he seems more interested in the chance of lighting up a cigarette without getting reprimanded from an ecologist. Turner is sitting in a bench, from where he has a pretty wide open view of the park and even two street exits are on hand; he's not drinking the cup of coffee in his hands and he's trying very hard to pretend he's not watching everyone around him. Dean is almost sure he's pulling it off for the families.

"Are you there, Cas?" Dean mutters.

"Always, Mr. Winchester."

"Don't make offers your money can't cash, Cas," Dean smiles to himself, thinking there surely aren't any.

"Turner is inside his parole limits," Cas informs him, "yet he's pretty far away from his apartment for this to just be a healthy trip to the park."

"Figures," Dean walks to the food cart, "cell phone?"

"He didn't buy one when he got out or tried to reactivate his old line."

"Well, there goes my matching plan," Dean sighs, "how does his officer contact him?"

"House phone, and they have schedules visits each Friday at noon," Dean can hear the tapping of fingers behind the voice, steady and somehow comforting. "He's being an exemplary ex-convict so far."

"Of course he has," Dean scratches the side of his face before talking again, just a person away from the food cart, "last chance for junk food."

"No, thank you."

"Your loss," Dean says before grinning to the guy in the cart and ignores Cas' gruff on his ear while he asks for his pretzel. Well, Novak said he knows everything about Dean, so he should know he has a very special way of working, which is probably why he never held a partner for long and, anyway, he was always better working solo. Dean normally doesn't like relying on people. When he notices Cas is typing again his head repeats normally and Dean decides he's done questioning what he's doing. At least until this job is done.

There's a small side on Dean's head that's still waiting for all this to crash down big and fake in front of him. He wonders if Cas knows that this case is a test for him. For them. For what Dean has learned from the man so far, he surely does. He knows and he knows he'll pass it. Dean wishes he could be mad at that; but he's mostly hopeful. Relying on Cas and on this whole job isn't the only thing he's doing, he's actually putting all of himself, all his last efforts on this. This or the bottle, this or the end.

The park where he's supposed to be watching over an ex con is not the place to have a talk about feelings with his own self. No place ever is that for Dean, but this one is particularly bad. He needs a new strategy.

"Can you tell me how many cops are around and how far away is the closest precinct?"

"Of course I can," Cas says, and nothing else.

"You're gonna make me work for everything, aren't you?" Dean huffs, half annoyed and half amused, "well, tell me."

"There are two police cars at each end of the park, with three and four officers, none of them very concerned with the park itself. They're looking, yes, but they're far more worried with their snacks."

"Snacks are good," Dean offers with a mouthful, he's used to eat on the job so he knows Cas can understand him.

"The station is ten minutes away," Cas concludes.

"Good, awesome," he finishes his food and whips his mouth with the only napkin they gave him.

"He's not stupid enough to try something here, he's clearly waiting for something or someone. If he does anything risky right now he'll most likely get interrupted and end up with his ass back in jail," Dean reasons, "and you'll be watching him too."

"What are you planning on doing?"

"Well, tapping the only phone we can and checking out his apartment," Dean walks away with a general look to the park; he sees the red, white and black of a cigars' box on the grass and glares at it. Near, the former owner seems more interested with his phone now. Of course. Dean isn't one to care about those things, but he lived enough with Sam to feel some annoyance.


"How did he get this place?" Dean asks when he's standing in the middle of it, eying carefully for anything that he should be careful with. He's not sure what to expect, so he needs to have eyes wide open.

"All part of the project to re-insert him in the society, that's how he got his job in packing and storage for the 7-11 that's fifteen blocks away from there."

"Where I bet he's been a shiny employee," Dean doesn't even wait for a response before saying, "he has a TV so he's not a technophobe."

"Were you expecting to find a laptop and a cell phone just lying around, Mr. Winchester?"

"Hey, maybe you missed a tip or two, or he does shopping way under the table."

"I don't miss."

"Of course you don't."

Dean taps the phone, checks for broken walls, hidden tiles, flaccid floor lines… and it's all clean. Just like every cupboard, every drawer, under the mattress, under the bed and inside the oven. Truthfully, the man has been living here for five months and maybe he doesn't feel secure enough to bring anything he wishes to hide, but for all Dean can see, there's nothing here.

"This dude is cleaner than you and me, Cas," Dean sighs.

"We may consider him the victim, then."

"Yeah, I guess," Dean leaves the building taking the opposite route." Tell me something about his probation officer."

"Josh Mathew, retired from homicide, has other two in his charge, married, no children. Has a nice house and he also works on a community center four times a week."

"Does anyone in this case have a sparkling record?"

"Our number was in jail, Mr. Winchester."

"Technically, so was I." Dean passes a big guy on the deserted subway tunnel who hits his shoulder on the rush. Dean doesn't like rudeness.

"Saying sorry ain't expensive, man," he says, and the guy turns towards Dean fast but Dean's trained eye still catches the flash of a gun inside the jacket.

"Yeah, you should be saying sorry," the guy says with a nasty voice that surprises Dean; it makes him feel like he has a magnet for assholes lately, with Cas being the only exception to the rule.

"Whatever dude," Dean ends up saying mostly because he stopped hearing the 'tap-tap-tap' in his ear, which means that Cas is paying attention.

"No, I think you owe me an apology, and something else for my trouble, like your wallet maybe."

"Really?" Dean huffs, he's not in the mood for this, "and you're gonna draw out your gun out here at this time just for that? Are you stupid or somethin'?"

Dean hears at the same time Cas' intake for a breath and the movement of the fabric on the guy's jacket. Dean knocks him down. The corridor remains empty, he can hear the subway coming closer. He takes the guy's gun and disarms it, grabs it to decide its fate from here.

"Try not to call that much attention to yourself, Mr. Winchester."

"I don't think he's gonna report it stolen, Cas," Dean smiles a bit, "I'm going back to the park, is our buddy still there?"

"Yes," Cas answers, "do you plan to follow him around?"

"I want to make sure he goes back to his apartment, see how he moves around the city. You agree?"

"Mhm," is Cas' only reply.

Dean hums a Led Zeppelin song on his way back that he hasn't heard in over a year.

*



"I can't believe he went to bed already," Dean sighs, eyes on the closed windows. "I really hope he's plotting to leave at the darkest hour. Or that his killer gets on the move already and tries to attack him or… are you even listening to me Cas?"

"Yes," a big pause after that and Dean is ready to chime in with another complaint, "I'm sorry this lacks explosions and big massive plots, Mr. Winchester, I should have told you that was a possibility when I described the job."

"Ha, ha, aren't you a funny one?"

After that they're in silence again, the street underneath Dean is also pretty calm. A car passes by every ten minutes or so and Dean is pretty sure that said frequency will increase more at the later hours. There's no movement in the window neither on the building's door.

"So, Cas…"

A sound is the only response he gets this time, not even a word and Dean wonders briefly if the other man is tired, if he needs to put up with anything in the morning, for all Dean knows he's been in the library the whole day. Maybe he has a house to come back to. Surely he does. That's another question to ask.

"Where does it come from?" he asks first, because that was his original intention.

"What are we talking about, Mr. Winchester?" and there's a small side of annoyance in Cas' voice, alike to the one he used on Dean the first time they met, when Dean cut down their serious talk with an innuendo.

"Your name," Dean explains, "Cas. What is it, man?"

"It's just a name."

"It sounds incomplete," Dean wonders, he's fishing for anything that Cas will give him, any clue.

"Does it?" and of course he doesn't buy, Dean isn't even surprised.

"Like..." Dean thinks, if you can't smart them out, seduce them out: "it's such a short name for such a big person like you."

"Is it?" there's laughter in Cas' tone this time and that, Dean decides to count as a win. Even if it wasn't the original win he wanted.

"Aren't you tired? It's pretty late," Dean offers after what he thinks is reasonable time in silence; maybe a bit more than half an hour. He wonders briefly if any of his files explained how much he talked during missions, how much his contacts and handlers and officers had to say 'radio silence' to him. Wonders, too, if Cas read it. He's pretty sure that if it exists, Cas had read it.

"I'm perfectly fine, Mr. Winchester, are you tired?" even if not concerned per se Cas sounds at least interested, "I can relocate a vigilance camera or two on you and on Mr. Turner if you wish to rest."

"Nah, I'm fine," Dean is, he knows his limits and he's pretty far away from them. "I was just checking on you, wouldn't want you asleep on a desk chair."

Cas hums as reply and he's tapping again, for long minutes before explaining himself, "I have work to do."

"What work I wonder."

"Nothing you need to worry about, Mr. Winchester."

Dean decides not to answer to that and focuses on the noises, the ones on the street and the ones Cas makes: the tapping, yes, but also the occasional breathes, in and out, and those that are longer than the rest, the sound of gulping and pictures Cas drinking something, the changes in the air that could give the impression of the man moving around. He picks up a yawn or two, but says nothing about them.

Inside the building no lights are turned on during the night, the door remains closed and even less cars drive by. Dean finds some comfort in the lack of explosions and the peace, even if he doesn't let himself think a lot about that.


*


{ part ii }