I should not have gone to see True Grit...that is all.

John throws Castiel off the porch, sending the boy stumbling into the yard. He's tense with the expectation of punishment, but doesn't resist or protest when John produces the switch, long and snappy green wood, motioning soundlessly for the boy to drop his wool slacks so he can sting the backs of his thighs with it.

Dean watches from the upstairs window, sash opened up so he can tap his cigarette over onto the roof tiles. He rests against the window ledge and keeps his eyes fixed on the man down below, and the boy half bent over in front of him. He's smoking nervously, bitter smoke burning his throat and making his eyes water, he swears that's the only reason.

Castiel is bent over, John whips back the switch and Dean jumps at the first lash of it across the boy's exposed skin, pale and uniformly smooth, rising to a welt from the first strike. Castiel shudders, legs shaking, and Dean jumps with each additional stroke of the switch, hearing the fist cry the boy gives out, just after the fifth sting.

John stops striking him, says something that Dean's ears can't catch, and walks back across the yard, up onto the porch. Castiel tugs his slacks up, wincing at the pain. He straightens awkwardly and Dean can see the limp in his step as he makes his way to his room over the stable.

Dean is due to ride out with Sam that evening, once their business in town is attended to and he's cleaned up the mess; the blood on his shirt, the overturned furniture and the broken glass – because fuck knows no one goes quietly. They're off along up the coast somewhere, Sam's got his mind set on a case someplace else and Dean needs to keep moving for the sake of his sanity. It works out well, has done for years, catching thieves, killers, rapists, debtors – whatever paid in whichever asshole end of nowhere town they came to.

Fucking lonely though.

Sure, there were the brothels, whores on the street and easy company to be found in bars. Even Dean, whose tastes ran toward the men more than the women (though he'd learned to keep that quiet and not be too choosy, queers were few and far in his experience) he did alright for himself. It was the long stretches of riding, travelling between townships, that was the worst. Just him and Sam, a shit ton of dust and nothing living to speak of by the snakes and coyotes.

Though Sam was a good Marshall, hell, a great one, and a fine man to boot, he wasn't that way inclined and to be honest Dean didn't much favour men like his partner. Too much like himself in both body and mind.

The boy though? He can work with thin legs and pretty skin. He'd seen him the previous day as well and the mouth on him was something to wonder at, soft and pink as a woman's, full lips just made for sucking.

He brings the idea to Sam who shakes his head wearily as he sets his tack aside and works on grooming his horse.

"You want to drag a soft boy like that out of the town, out on the road?" He looks half amused, half appalled. "He won't last a day, if he doesn't die of cold someone's gonna shoot the kid."

"Well, he just needs to last the night." Dean's not much for arguing; he'll do what he wants and fight Sam over it later. "If he lasts longer? That's just a bonus."

He snags the kid that night as they skip town. It's really too easy, he catches him round back of the house on his way to his own quarters, dumps a sack over his head and throws him against the wall, stunning him long enough to bind his hands and tie his arms close to his body. He wraps his ankles too and tosses him over the back of his mount, face and legs dangling toward the ground on either side. Under the sack the boy yells and he struggles at first, but the jolting of the animal beneath him knocks the wind out of him soon enough, and he settles for just about keeping his place on its back and not heaving his stomach out over the side.

It's still early in the night when they make camp, Dean throws his thick tarpaulin cover down on the ground, rough blanket topping it and a thick piece of rope to surround the place, keeping the snakes away. Sam takes his bed elsewhere, far enough that he thinks he'll be out of screaming distance, if the boy has enough fight left to yell.

Dean dumps Castiel onto the rough bed, yanking the sack off of his head and tugging off the ropes that bind him. The boy is pale and shaken, his wrists rubbed raw by rope, his hair mussed from being upside down for hours on a jolting horse. He scrabbles away from Dean, taking in the man's rough shirt and breeches, his tattered great coat and leather gloves. Dean's aware that he hasn't shaved properly in days, and his hair is over long and thick with travelling dust. The new wound above his eye has clotted, finally, and it will grow to match the scar that cleaves his lip in two.

He'd be afraid of himself, were he the boy.

"Where are we?" he asks in a small voice.

"Couple of hours from town." He sits down heavily on the blanket, tugging his gloves off. "Wouldn't get any ideas about running back if I were you – miles of dark country, road-less, crawling with snakes and you've got fuck all chance of finding your way."

Castiel doesn't respond, just shakes in his thin shirt and keeps his eyes on Dean's every movement. He's not stupid, he knows why he's out here, middle of nowhere on a strangers bedroll.

"So you can either take your chances out there, or keep to me." Dean reads the sudden sinking of the youth's shoulders as acquiescence and hauls him into his lap with a grunt. Castiel doesn't squirm away, but he doesn't react either. Dean lays the boy out on the scratchy blanket; face down and with his trousers tugged down his knees. It's deathly silent outside, nothing but the wind shivering through try plants and the occasional, distant, howl. Castiel's dull grunt of surprised pain carries all the way to Sam's bed and he rolls over and ignores it.

Fully clothed Dean's body is an uncomfortable weight on his, his pants down just enough to expose himself and the rest of him still weighted with wool and leather. His hands fist the dirt on either side of Castiel and he moves hard and urgently, silent save for a groan or grunt that punctuates Castiel's harsh breathing. There's nothing but spit easing his way and Castiel feels an edge of pain with every motion, but something else as well which makes him buck suddenly, shuddering like he's just taken unpleasant medicine.

Dean growls a low laugh and raises a dust pitted hand to fist the boy's cock, which sure enough is fat and leaking. Castiel keeps his head down but returns Dean's strong thrusts with a slight snap of his own hips. His breath comes thick and rough, edged with cries that he wishes he could contain but can't.

Dean swears and comes in the same instant, his hips kicking forward instinctively as he fills the boy and collapses against his back, clothes already freezing with cooling sweat. He tugs free and backs off, leaving Castiel tense as a drawn bow, head down and legs shaking as he bucks minutely at nothing, arousal heavy between his own thighs.

"Not too bad was it?" Dean turns the boy over roughly and lays him out on his back. He isn't gloating but soothing, as he would a spooked horse. Castiel doesn't seem to mind either way, only whimpering as cold air stirs over his erection. Dean wets his lips perfunctorily and bends over the boy, mouth wrapping around his cock as his hand fists the root. Silent as he's been till now, the kid almost howls, choking it off after only a second, hand flying to the too long, dirty hair of the man currently sucking him.

Dean jacks him roughly, mouthing quickly and with little finesse. It's not a skill he's ever had to master, being more blown than getting on his own knees. But in this case he wants to give the boy something for being co-operative, for taking him and not just going stiff and unresponsive like a frightened rabbit.

Castiel thrusts up, filling his mouth and sobbing a low moan as he comes over Dean's tongue. He sits up and spits as far as he can, hearing spit and warm come hit the dusty ground. Castiel lies panting on the blanket, weak and sated for now. Dean lies down next to him and drags another musty travel rug over them, tucking Castiel's shaking limbs against his own.

Bed fellows were few and far between on their travels, it was hard to keep hold of one for more than a single resting stop, not worth it either when Dean felt nothing for whichever woman or man he'd taken to bed.

Still, the next morning, when Castiel washed himself up and mounted the back of Dean's horse without complaint for his sore body. When he ate their food without complaint for its roughness and helped them to break camp. When, as the days uninterrupted riding came to a close and Sam signalled for them to bed down for the night, and Castiel moved his hand from Dean's thigh to cup his cock through his jeans. Dean couldn't help but hope he could keep this one.