A/N: Oh my gosh, GUEST CHAPTER! By Raehimura! I am excite, and thus hand the mic over to her.
RaeHimura: If this feels like a big 'PSYCHE!" to all you slash fans out there … sorry? But Demyrie won't let me make them do the nasty, so this is what you get instead. It may not have the sexy boy-love, but it's a tribute to my dearest and everything she has accomplished with this amazing series. Thanks for letting me take them for a spin, baby!
Also, POV jumping is … bad? ^^ We'll just call it artistic license.
Lyrics are from "Renegade" by Styx
(Also, wow. We apologize, but school and work is eating our lives. Demyrie is in her fourth year of Biochemistry-Prepharmacy while moonlighting in the school costume shop, and I've sold my soul to the school paper and the GLBT. Neither is very conducive to being wordy on a regular and reliable basis! But if you're still in this, so are we~)
Warnings: language, smarmy Cas, drug-induced sappy Cas, Ominous Rumblings, implied het and super awkward not-slash. Oh, and well-researched drug use (Drugs are bad, mmmm'kay?).
The dodgiest bar in the dodgy part of their already dodgy city was, unsurprisingly, one of Cas' favorite places. It was always good for a cheap drink, the bartender knew his usual – a special combination of liver-destroying liquids that would down a lesser man – and no matter how many times he visited, he could always find some schmuck to hustle for ammo money.
Cas hadn't suggested a visit to Happy Endings in months, and Finas, perhaps slightly relieved, hadn't pushed it. But the younger hunter insisted that their recent string of successful hunts – a weeklong whirl of squealing tires, victorious shouts and the wet thud of well-aimed stakes – left them needing a break and a reward. Finas knew what was coming the second he saw the wicked glint in Cas' good eye, but only shook his head after he'd already nodded his partner to the car.
Why Cas was so partial to a place that made even Finas shudder at the myriad of suspicious stains it claimed was completely beyond him.
Cas was practically vibrating the whole ride across town. Testosterone, adrenaline and victory sung through his limbs; he couldn't stop grinning at the thought of people and noise and life after so many nights of silent, cramped tracking. Even Finas seemed ready to relax, and the thought loosened some undefined knot deep in Cas' gut.
He couldn't help it: red leather tight across his chest and grin as confident as his grip on a pistol, Cas strode through the doors like he owned the place. He may have needed glamor to hide his eye, but he sure as hell didn't need any help to be the hottest stud in this particular hole in the wall – and from the alternately appreciative and furious eyes pinned on him, both the ladies and their boyfriends knew it.
Cas paused to wink at the busty redhead eying him over a pool table, ignoring the warning flush on the face of the 6'4" brute behind her. The low-dipping leopard print of her top earned her an extended stare; the university sweatshirt and quarterback-wide shoulders of her boyfriend earned her a smarmy grin.
"Her date looks angry, and intoxicated," Finas said mildly from his left. "Not a winning combination."
"That troll? I can take him," Cas drawled, cracking his knuckles with a flashy smirk.
"It's a little early in the night to get bloody, isn't it? You haven't even had a drink."
"True," the younger man agreed, looking almost disappointed to turn away from the posturing frat boy. But an easier smile replaced his smirk as he slung an arm around his partner's shoulders and steered him towards the sagging bar. "And that, my man, is a mistake we must correct."
The tequila tasted like floor cleaner, but Finas accepted his shot without even a raised eyebrow, so Cas told the bartender to keep them coming.
Cas watched Finas knock back a shot, expression immovable, before downing his with a little grimace.
"Isn't this great?" Cas gushed, leaning in to talk over the blaring mullet rock.
Finas just looked at him blankly, but Cas beamed insistently, obliviously, until he gave in.
"I suppose it was … time for a break," Finas admitted, as the next round of shots slid across the sticky bar.
Toasting to much needed rest – or was it to a whole nest of fangs reduced to scattered ash? – they downed the cheap liquor simultaneously, shot glasses hitting the wood with a sharp double crack.
Cas nodded his head like something important had been decided and, with a slap to Finas' shoulder and a low chuckle, swaggered over to the pool tables.
By the time Finas had switched his drink to the mellower burn of Tennessee Rye and turned back around, Cas had managed to both get an arm around one tipsy Trash Barbie and start a very impressive pulsing in her boyfriend's temple. Thankfully, after a few rounds of chest-thumping, Cas wrapped his fist around a pool cue instead of the guy's neck.
He didn't even need to hustle the man; he was so high on testosterone and the thought of impressing his girlfriend that he looked right past Cas' confident hands to the $50 he'd laid out as a bet.
A few unsurprisingly one-sided rounds later, Cas was so absorbed in lining up his shot – in not just winning but absolutely humiliating the frat boy – that he barely noticed when his head started bobbing. It was when he aced the shot, three balls dropping into corner pockets with sharp thuds, and he whirled around to indulge in a little showboating, that he actually heard the song.
The jig is up, the news is out, they finally found me. The renegade who had it made retrieved for a bounty. Never more to go astray. This'll be the end today of the wanted man.
Cas caught his partner's eyes with a flashing smirk that was all rockstar, and definitely knew it.
Even Finas couldn't hold back a smile.
Cas shot him another grin, a real one, wide and blinding. Frat Boy looked ready to shout the secret brotherhood cry and round up a posse. But Casimiro was feeling generous – he waved over two more shots of Tequila and passed one to him, cheerily offering a toast.
There are few things that change a man's tune faster than free liquor.
By the end of the third game, Frat Boy was leaning on his cue stick like it was the only thing keeping him vertical, and even Cas had missed three balls in a row. He snickered a little to himself and waved off the game, sharing one last toast with the glassy-eyed meathead before turning to wave his pile of winnings at his partner. But he didn't immediately connect with the heavy, familiar weight of Finas' gaze like he usually did, and when he searched for him, what he saw at the bar brought him up short.
Finas. Talking to someone. Without looking like he might go for his gun any second.
And it was a girl. Not the most attractive thing in the place, and she looked like she came with complimentary matching baggage – leave it to Finas to have a thing for the tragic ones – but Cas wasn't going to complain about the first girl Finas showed any interest in for a reason other than her possible possession of fangs.
Finas barked out a laugh, one deep note that made it to Cas' ears across the room, and the older man looked surprised at it himself. The girl smiled back, a wan but genuine flicker, and Cas could just imagine Finas' insides melting. He had a very selective soft spot, but when a certain sob story or charity case hit it, he turned into putty.
Seeing them together reminded Cas of before, of times when Finas was at least a little more than a grim bodyguard posted at the bar. Made him feel a little giddy, a little crazy. He downed the last shot on the tray, relishing the burn as he headed back to the bar to get something different, stronger. But his path was cut off by bottle-blond hair and a sinful smile.
"I haven't seen you around here before." The words dripped like honey out of a pair of plasticky blood-red lips.
"I've been away for a while, on … business," Cas tossed out, dripping charm and giving her a once over. "But if this is what I can expect to find, I may have to become a regular."
"You know, we don't get many of your type in here. You look like the kind a guy who knows how to have some real fun." Flawless silver nails slid under his collar and she leaned in close, pulling a baggy out of some hidden pocket and waving it clandestinely between them. "Wanna have some with me?"
It didn't take much to guess what she was offering. Every other time, he had waved off the drugs and suggested a relocation to the bathroom or the back of the building. But everything was so fucking perfect right now, and nights like this were always short – and, now, in short supply. Why not live it up, do something he'd never done? Something just for himself, just because it felt good, damn it.
Why not lose control? He could trust Finas (could always trust Finas) to take care of things for a while. Looking down at the gleam in her already hazy eyes and the promise of curves pressing against him, the weight of the gun at the small of his back was suddenly the last thing on his mind.
When Cas first woke up, he had no idea how much time had passed since that last shot of cheap Tequila. He was mildly surprised to find that he didn't care. His next thought, his first upon waking for the last seven years, was where Finas was and whether he was safe. Thoughts of Finas – solid, bad-ass, safe Finas – had him smiling redolently into the fizzing air.
Cas blinked and it took his heavy lids three days to make it back up. The mellow light from the low-hanging lamp was still jumping and sparking erratically, like there were sparklers in his eyes, like his vision was carbonated. He stretched his arm across the slick satin of the sheets, existence reduced to the cool slide and bright red beneath him.
The color pulled at his dark skin, blurred his edges. It was all there was. The entire world was a smooth, vibrant cradle.
He shifted and felt himself melt into the liquid caress of the satin. He heard a groan, muffled and close, and he'd just come around to recognizing his own voice when it was answered by a lyrical giggle somewhere out in the red. With an impressive amount of concentration, Cas managed to turn his head and find the bundle of blond hair and smooth skin lounging next to him, a landscape of bare hills and hollows.
He didn't know her name, could barely remember following her coy wink up the stairs, but he knew absolutely and without a doubt that she was perfect. Fascinating. Sex personified. She'd pressed that little bitter slip against his tongue and pressed him against the wall with a wicked grin. When she'd touched him, barely grazing over the scattered scars on his forearm, and he literally saw fireworks, he knew he was in for a rough night.
Slumped bonelessly into the mattress, more satiated and strung-out than he'd ever been, Cas grinned up at her in wonder as she pushed up on her elbows. He reached over slowly, pressing the tips of his fingers to the peak of her shoulder. She was amazing, all warm and shifting and alive and so damn soft. He slid his fingers down her arm, watching the skin pool and fold beneath the pressure and the tendons bulge as she reached up for him. Their hands met in the middle, and just the brush of her fingers on his palm made him huff out a breath.
He thought he might be in love with her.
With a syrupy grin, he rolled them over and pressed down against her. The sudden motion made the world spin, but it didn't matter, because there were a thousand points of light sparking on every inch of them that pressed and scraped and her eyes were the most amazing shade of green like the glass bottle of his favorite beer and her smile was so sweet he just wanted to hold her there and never let go. He couldn't remember ever going this long without thinking of guns.
From the new angle, the gold shimmer of her hair was so bright. It was almost glowing, an unwavering shine in the swirling eddies of the air around them. He opened his mouth to ask about it, or maybe just to tell her that she was amazing, but there was a clicking sound near his ear and then his jaw clenched closed in a hard spasm.
Cas jerked, panic stabbing through the pleasant haze, but before he could twist away, she leaned up and brushed a kiss to the stubble on his jaw. The spasm ended and relief flooded through him, leaving him even more languid than before. He thanked her with a slow, wandering kiss, a hand skimming the plush softness of her curves, and then for a while there was nothing but the angles of their bodies fitting together and the slide of skin against skin against satin.
He saw the air vibrate before he heard the words, a dark static in the tidal pools that tugged at his attention. It meant something important, more important than the goddess underneath him and the tingle of her lips on his neck and everything else.
The sound repeated, and he was still trying to put meaning to the tangle of syllables when he recognized the source, turning his head to stare into the vague darkness outside their red cocoon.
Finas hadn't seen his partner leave. One minute, Cas was chatting up a particularly enthralled conquest and the next, he was nowhere to be seen. Finas tried not to completely disregard Elaine – a nice woman, a widow, who was so happy to find someone interested in hearing about her late husband – as he scanned the room for his partner, but his instincts had settled heavy and implacable in his gut.
That woman had been just Cas' type, curvy and easy, so Finas told himself it was the usual story and set a mental timer. The first half hour passed. And another. And another.
Two hours after he'd last seen Cas, Finas was officially worried.
He excused himself from the conversation and cased the bar, asking if anyone had seen his partner or that woman. A table in the back said she was a regular with quite the appetite for men, but harmless otherwise. A group of girls started shouting about 'old whores' and laughing loudly. The bartender mentioned that she rented a room upstairs.
Finas climbed the narrow staircase, scowling darkly and rehearsing his speech about communication and responsibility and making him worry.
He called out the younger man's name just before he got to the door, hoping to avoid getting treated to a show. He'd learned that lesson the hard way.
He waited a beat, but there was no sound from inside the room. Swallowing back the pulse of worry-or-anger, Finas pushed open the unlocked door and called out for him again. The first thing he saw was skin. A lot of it.
He was about to turn around and wait for them to compose themselves – maybe go back down to the bar and ponder the mystery of Cas' hyper-potent youth over another glass of whiskey – when Cas looked over at him. Finas' eyes stuck on the bright flush across his cheeks and down his neck, the pupil of his unglamored eye that was strangely dilated in the dim light and, most of all, the confused twist of his mouth.
"Casimiro?" he repeated yet again, suddenly feeling like he was talking to a stranger.
It took a second to sink in, but then Cas was sitting up and grinning over at him, the ripple of compact muscle under coffee-brown skin thankfully ending at a conveniently placed sheet. "Finas!" he drawled cheerily. "I was wondering where you were."
"You knew where I was," Finas started, slowly, confused by the statement and the slur in the other man's voice. "I was downstairs, where you left me. I, on the other hand, had no idea where you were."
"Oh, well, I met someone," Cas explained, gesturing sloppily to the girl behind him. "Finas, this is … well, um … well, she's awesome."
Finas looked around Cas' shoulder to where the blond was lounging, eyes lidded and not a hint of shame. "Charmed," he responded dryly.
When Cas laughed, it was short and high, practically a giggle. And then Finas understood.
"You're high," he announced evenly, torn between amusement and some more appropriate reaction.
Cas snorted another laugh, dropping back on his elbows. "Yeeeah. So?"
Finas turned away from the expanded view his partner was now exhibiting, clearing his throat unnecessarily. "I think it's time for us to leave, Casimiro."
"But-" the younger man started, a little pout in his tone.
"It's okay, darlin," the woman spoke up, all patience and goodwill and smeared aqua eyeshadow. "Your friend really wants to go. I wouldn't want to keep you. I'll just go back down to the bar and squeeze some free shots outta Stan."
There was a rather wet sounding good-bye, and a few long moments of laughing and stumbling sounds as clothing was sorted out, and then her too-familiar hand was squeezing Cas' arm before she edged around him out the door. When the door swung shut, Finas finally looked up.
Cas, thankfully, had his pants back in place and was struggling into his undershirt. When he managed to get it mostly in place, he collapsed back onto the edge of the bed and Finas took the few steps over to him, laying a hand on his thin shoulder.
Cas looked up at him with wide, relaxed eyes, gaze so open that it sparked a protective surge in Finas, made it almost almost painless to remember the warmth of a little body as he tucked in bright pink sheets and a rose-covered comforter, pulling them tight against the darkness of the closet door. Finas found himself fighting the urge to smile fondly, or even run his fingers through his partner's bed-tousled hair.
And then he looked closer, noticed the shine in his eyes and the muzzy, indistinct trust spilling from him, like a child too young to think about monsters in the dark. Finas drew his hand back, tightened it into a fist.
They were hunters. They couldn't afford to be compromised, couldn't afford to let their guard down. Not if they wanted to live through the night. After the last seven years, Cas knew better – and the thought of what could distract from such a hard-fought lesson tightened the knot in Finas' gut.
"You're mad," Cas said with a frown, focusing on him with some difficulty and sounding incredibly sad about it.
"You're putting yourself in unnecessary danger." Finas tried to keep his tone even, but it still came out sharp.
"I don't want you to be mad."
"Then don't behave this way."
"Lighten up, Fin," Cas tossed out, rolling his eyes. "'M just havin' fun. You know, living a little." Cas snorted at his own joke. Finas felt sick.
"How much more of this kind of 'living' do you think you can take?"
"What do you mean? I feel better than I have all year." Cas grinned liked there was nothing wrong in the entire world. "Things have been awesome."
"You're losing control," Finas said bluntly, laying out his case in clipped, controlled syllables. "Last week you went without sleep until we tracked down every single creature from that nest. You've been going out of your way to pick fights with men who could actually hurt you. And you've been with more women in the last few weeks than you have in the entire year before that."
"Aw, Fin, are ya jealous?"
Finas pushed on, voice dark. "And now I find you completely defenseless with a woman we don't know, in a location that is in no way safe, without even assuring that I was aware of the risk. I didn't even know where you were, Cas. Anything could get to you like this. Don't tell me that you're fine."
"Maybe this is fine for me," Cas tossed back with a careless little shrug. "Maybe this is the way I want to live."
"If you keep up this kind of behavior, you're putting that 'living' part at risk."
"Well I'm on a bit of a short leash where that's concerned anyway, right?"
"Cas – "
"Fuck, Finas, there's so much I haven't done," Cas snapped, grin vanishing as he stood up into Finas' space, expression more earnest than upset. "So much to experience. And every second I spend doing normal things, doing nothing, it feels like I'm crawling out of my skin. Like I can feel the timer counting down."
"So you want to go out like this?" Finas held his tone rigidly even, logical, verbally treading into places he had only just begun to think about, late as it was. "Give up on any chance we might have to –
Cas cut him off with a laugh, but instead of rough and depreciating like it should have been, it was like he actually found the whole thing hilarious. "Don't you understand? There is no way out. You know it too, man. You know it."
He stepped back, gesturing broadly. "This is all the time I have left. I just want to enjoy it."
"I understand that."
"No, you don't." Cas smiled light and disconnected, untouchable.
Sick with the sight of that smile, Finas found himself snapping back, voice brittle. "Well, then you might try explaining it."
"You want me to explain?" Cas shouted, anger wild and instant, jarring in its contrast to that loopy smile of a second before. "You want me to tell you all about what it's like to be on death row, to be so close to the grave you've already got a foot in? How about the sucking hole in my chest where a person used to be? Is that what you want to hear? I hunt and fight and drink all night to try and forget for one goddamn second that I'm not two steps away from that evil fucker getting his claws into me – and he already has!"
Finas' eyes were hunter sharp, but his voice was careful. "What do you mean?"
Half-turned away, Cas looked lost for a moment, like the room around them had disappeared from his eyes – or he was seeing something completely different. His voice was small and hollow, impossibly far away.
"Something happened, to me, when I made the deal. Something changed, something more than the eye and everything else. It's like … its like I'm not alone, in here, in my skin."
Cas' swallowed with a audible click in the suffocating silence. He swiped clumsy fingers through a soaked orangey fringe and Finas wanted nothing more than to get lost in that motion, to focus on the chemical stink and the tacky slide of his poisoned sweat, and let the words he could barely comprehend wash over him without finding a hold.
"I could always see hidden stuff, evil stuff, but it's worse now. So much fucking worse. Fire and shadows and rotted shit in the corner of my eyes, pushing over into everything else. I can see 'em all. Dead people. Other ... things, things that don't even come close to the shit we hunt. It's like I'm seeing hell. Right into hell. And if that's –" Cas sucked in a tight breath, fingers clenching into his hair, voice rising into a near-sob. "– if that's really where I'm fuckin' going, I just – I can already feel it right behind my fuckin' eyes, Finas – and I don't know … I'm just afraid –"
And he did. Finas' words may have been a helpless denial, a blind rejection of his own knee-jerk instincts, but all Cas heard was an order. It was the most comforting thing he could imagine.
The younger hunter deflated, drained of anger and urgency and, at least for the moment, once again focused on the present. He stepped close, hands splaying on his partner's thick chest as if in supplication, and they stood a surreal moment in the wake of Cas' monstrous confession. And confession it was; his judge perhaps more terrified than he.
The young man's clammy touch – and the unresponsive gaze halved by that ghastly, milk-white orb – finally cracked Finas' shock, pushed him beyond that claustrophobic, low-lit attic and into the future of a man 'invaded' by a presence he couldn't describe. A future that halted, suddenly, with the unthinkable: that he might truly have to end Cas' life before his seven years were up. He could hardly comprehend the cutting irony of the whole confrontation, much less fathom his own dark mindset. Finas had his prejudices, among which was a zealous mistrust of any and all magic, but if his partner – his friend, his companion, his lifeline – was falling sway to a demon, it would really be the only option.
But logic and experience and a small lifetime of well-earned fears and he-would-want-it-that-way's had never left his mind seared so blank, or his chest so uncomprehendingly tight.
Drawing in a soundless breath, Finas had just turned his mind to the best way to bundle a pliant Cas back to the car when the hands on his chest pushed up, over his wide shoulders, and slid slowly over the planes of his back. The younger hunter watched in fascination as his hands disappear, leaning in as they dropped farther, until he was plastered to Finas' chest.
"Cas?" Finas asked, amazed at his own steady voice.
"Fin, you're just so … strong," he mumbled, nosing into the thick cord of muscle in his partner's shoulder. The brush of breath against his skin made Finas shudder to his core, whole body stiff as iron. "Always have been."
Cas pressed closer – just feeling the fabric of that stuffy dress shirt scraping his bare shoulders and the single neat row of buttons wedging against his chest – and slid against the familiar spans of his partner's body almost absently, a small pleased hum swelling in the back of his throat.
"Always there. Watching my back."
Finas said nothing, did nothing, just stood there trying to think around the fever burn of the body against him. He scrounged for explanations other than the obvious – or anything that would get him away from the gaping possibility Cas had forced on him, even if it shunted him into another age-old fear. Because, really, it wasn't as if he hadn't thought about it.
Once or twice, on dark nights when the reality of their job pressed in and took away the option of denial, the facts lined up before him like fuses waiting to be lit. Cas was a sensual person. He was young, hormonal. And he'd already demonstrated the lengths he was willing to go for Finas. The way they lived – in each other's pockets with no one else to rely on, a constant cycle of risking and saving – it wouldn't be impossible for things to get tangled up, to shade in the empty little spaces between partner and family and everything.
Finas had known this, when he let himself think about it, just as surely as he'd known that if it ever came down to that, it would be over.
He'd never be able to deny the petulant young hunter something he wanted – not something like affection, like care, when he asked for it so little – especially not with just a handful of years dwindling before them. If Cas asked, Finas would give, even over the stringent objections of his own nature. But that one night of leniency would bear a heavy price: it would destroy him just as completely as it would destroy 'them.' And Cas, filled with visions of a soldier-partner-soulmate who could fill the void left in the absence of small talk and taxes and bank lines, would never be able to understand that Finas had nothing to give him.
He'd already given him everything he had left.
"Casimiro," Finas tried again as he eased the young man back to look him in the eye, voice painstakingly calm but silently pleading. Pushing to get through that glassy sheen, laser-sight focused on that goal.
Cas let himself be maneuvered but didn't move back, focusing blearily on his partner's face. The weight of that scrutiny – the sheer pressure of possibility that forced the air from his lungs – made Finas want to run, to punch him, to take hold of time itself and just make this stop.
Cas swayed a little, moved as if to lean in again, and Finas flinched. His grip on Cas' shoulders tightened reflexively but not enough to hold him back. He swallowed against the surge of panic. Hated himself for the burning certainty that, even knowing it would destroy them, he couldn't push Cas away. Especially after tonight.
Then, abruptly, Cas stopped. Blinked up at Finas like it was the first time he'd seen him. Furrowed his brow and took a deliberate step back, out of his partner's grip.
When he didn't say anything, they just looked at each other, and Finas tracked the pieces of Casimiro coming back together in his good eye. Then Cas tried to take another step back and flailed perilously, knees and balance failing.
For once, Finas didn't move to catch him. Cas fell onto the bed with a chuckle, sprawling bonelessly across the sheets with that dreamy, untouchable smile back in place.
"Don't be so serious, Finny."
"One of us has to be," Finas bit back without thinking, a stern needle of reproach. He knew Cas wasn't himself right now, wasn't in control, but to put him through this ... and worse, to have no idea what he was doing. That glassy gaze couldn't see the muted terror in Finas' straight back, the horror of looking at Cas and seeing a complete stranger, or the echoes of panic and fear and loss that sight set off – he was gone right now, and soon, maybe sooner than Finas had ever thought, he'd be gone for a lot longer.
Cas just smiled up at him, closing his eyes like he was about to drift off. "Whatever you say, man."
Finas let out a breath, and with it, some of the tension. He'd never known Cas to back down from something he wanted, so whatever just happened, it was the drugs talking. He felt a little like he'd dodged a bullet – a feeling he knew in a literal way most people never would – and it was enough to get him focused on the important things: get Cas to a safe place, force some fluids into him, make sure he didn't have a bad reaction in his sleep. Lecture him for a month about responsible behavior.
Avoid obsessing about what Cas had told him, about everything Cas was living through moment by moment – didn't that make him the worst of hypocrites when he lectured about self-preservation?
And watch him. Watch him with a care and a closeness that made his heart ache prematurely for the rancid suspicions that black magic and rash decisions had forced between them.
Finas stooped down and manhandled Cas to his feet, propping him up with an arm around his back and shouldering his weight.
"Hmm?" Cas hummed, disconnected. His voice was hazy and his movements slow, eyes half-lidded, but there seemed to be some part of him coming back to the surface. "What're we ..."
"Are you all right?" Finas asked, slowly and carefully, like he was talking to a child. He had an objective, and it felt good to be sure in his steps, but the anger and the worry and the heavy burden of knowledge couldn't be extinguished as easily as it could be set aside.
"I'm, uh – tired." It seemed to be the only word he could dredge up, but the heavy droop of his muscles against Finas' shoulder didn't deny it.
The older man sighed, heavy and exhausted himself, but his voice was all patience and determined steel. "Let's get you home, then."
Cas nodded languidly, still drifting and probably not entirely sure what was happening. But he put one foot in front of the other and didn't make a fuss, so Finas just tightened his grip and held his stringy body up as they stumbled down the stairs.
Still, as he hauled his partner's dead weight through the thinning bar crowd and out into the night, he couldn't shake the feeling that Cas was slipping through his fingers. That if he let go – and if he had no other choice, at least he would do it with his own two shaking hands and a pistol – they would both be lost.
If he held on a little tighter on the way to the car, Cas didn't seem to mind. Their night ended with the slam of two car doors and Finas, hands tight on the wheel, led them back to the shuttered and bolted apartment they called home. The hum of the motor and the syrupy rhythm of Cas' breath in the seat next to him was almost calming, leaving him all the sadder for it.
Above them, a shadow parted from a nest of industrial piping and came to balance on the edge of the rooftop. It's tattered coat lay unstirred in the winter wind as it watched the old car turn the corner, the parting flash of headlights turning scratched glass lenses into glowing eyes in the haunting yellow fog of the streetlamps.