. . .
. . .
Twenty sporadic missing person's claims in Los Angeles, in three weeks, doesn't seem like a huge, red flag for a massively populated city.
But, damn it, he was right there in the area, and Sam wanted to spend time looking deeper into possible lore, with nearly no leads. All the victims had made a stop in Chinatown at some point before vanishing up into thin air, and to one, little shop on the outskirts of the more crowded neighborhood.
Maybe it wasn't so much about lore and beasts, but instead one seriously deranged psycho who owned a pet shop that barely anyone had heard of. Not a comforting thought — monsters didn't freak him out as much as some people and their freaky, demented motives — but at least it was an explanation.
A slender-looking guy (the broad, faintly muscular shoulders underneath the decorative, indigo-colored robe give it away) walked right up to him. He smiled thinly when Dean entered and shut the side-door behind him. Dean didn't waste time to reach into his suit's breast pocket and flash his newly printed badge.
"Stu Cook, FBI. Just here to ask a few routine questions. Are you the owner Count D?"
"The owner is my grandfather. I'm here taking over for the time being while he is away on business." An airy, calming sort of voice. "You may call me D, if you wish."
Dean gave him a perfunctory smile.
"Right," he said. "Do you remember a woman named Doris Knight who may have stopped by recently? Harry Smith? Fernando Pio?"
"To which ones?"
"Why, all of them, of course," D regarded, lips caked with red, red lipstick and lifting at the corners. "Customers. All very eager to take home a beloved pet."
"And are you aware that all of them have been reported missing, including 17 others with loved ones suggesting that they visited your grandfather's shop?"
An outright horrified look. A slender, white hand flew up to D's mouth. "Oh, are the poor dears being looked after—!—?"
Dean narrowed his eyes, confused.
"He means the animals," came a new voice, right from behind him. He glanced around to see a taller, blond man leaning against an ornate wall, glaring with obvious distrust. Dean fought away the urge to bristle himself, and instead directed a half-sneer over in the other man's direction.
"You are?" he asked, coolly.
"Leon. He's a detective and a good friend." As D beamed a little over his shoulder, the Leon guy rolled his eyes silently and got up from the wall, uncrossing his arms. No trace of an accent like the shop owner. Rolled up tee-shirt sleeves. Douchebag ponytail hair. Empty gun holsters across his back, like an off-duty cop. Right…
Dean cleared his throat loudly. "My partner on this case and I believe that there's something… not quite right about the disappearances."
"You are welcome to search every inch of my grandfather's establishment to put ease to your worries."
Leon frowned. "What about a permit? You didn't even ask for one, he can't just—" Another quirked, red smile.
"As touching as your concern is, Detective… I have granted him permission," D explained, nodding agreeably to Dean (whose half-sneer widened on his face as Leon flushed hotly with his growing temper and stomped out of the main entrance, for the sun-lit sidewalk and muttering curses under his breath). "Where would you like to begin your investigation?"
. . .
. . .
The winding, dark hallways were eerie enough — but the noises, like human murmurs and child-like laughter, not caws-barks-the normal sounds of animals pawing on metal carriers.
A bad case of goose bumps.
The inside of Dean's chest hummed like a strange, itchy energy when he gazed at a door on the left-hand side, a door etched with symbols.
They almost resembled what Bobby had pointed out as "Enochian" — with, unsurprisingly, an occult or mystical origin. He followed his sudden instinct to discover what was behind Door Number Four, the sensation of a constant itching under his skin getting worse and worse. Inside, a medium-sized room bare except for the scarlet, velvet curtains and tapestries dangling in four corners. No windows. Only the door. But what startled Dean to his core was the fully grown man in a ridiculously humongous, gilded bird cage.
An ordinary man on first glance, even while wearing a midnight-black toga and silver-ish, knotted rope tied around his narrow hips like a makeshift belt.
(What the… Fuck…?)
"Is there something troubling you, Agent?" D asked politely, coming up to the other man's side with hands folded together.
Dean growled. "You keep random people in cages, man? Are you friggin' serious?" He jabbed a finger towards the caged man serenely eyeing him through the bars. "Right there."
A strikingly violet eye, not veiled by straight hair, peered to where Dean's finger pointed openly, and then back at his companion, unalarmed.
"Who you are looking at is a very rare creature, from a far, far away land. He is known to be very unforgiving, impulsive at best. Sensing one's darkness and light, and acting on which is stronger in their beliefs. Legend tells that he will only sing for his true master, and only that one master. I've taken to calling him 'Angel'."
"That's some six foot nothing of a holy tax accountant needing a razor you got there, Fritzl." The sarcasm does not go unnoticed, D's jaw tightening.
Before Dean could get another retort out, the caged, dark-haired man took a step closer to the gilded, wired barrier and cocked his head to the side, wrapping his fingers to it.
A breathy rasp passing his lips.
Impossibly blue eyes locked onto Dean's bugging, dismayed stare as he repeated, sedately, "Hello… …Dean."
The pet shop's owner made a vaguely interested 'hmm' at Dean's expression.
"He appears to have taken a liking to you," D observes, softly. "I've never heard him speak willingly."
An audible swallow. "And you're gonna… sell him…?"
"For a reasonable price. As long as you would adhere the contract's three, very important rules, I would sell him to you. The consequences of breaking them are… undesirable. I would not recommend such actions. For if you sign the contract, and you do not follow the rules of the contract, the store will not be held liable for anything that may happen."
Dean's eyes intently met the other's man stare. A soft sigh.
"The first is to not show him to anyone else." D's airy, unconcerned voice lowered into something cold and stern, "Not even your partner."
"Secondly, he does not require food or drink. Do not attempt to force sustenance on him."
"And the third rule, that I do strongly request that you pay careful attention to, Dean… you must not let him out of his cage, under any circumstances."
A stiff, acknowledging nod and a grunt.
"Can you pull up the paperwork now?" Dean asked, eyes never leaving the blue-eyed man.
"…As you wish."
The leathered soles of canvas shoes fading into the distance. The hunter rushed across the room, poking his head out the hallway and looking both ways to find the coast clear. Dean yanked out his pistol out of his waistband, shaking his head. "Goddamn lunatic," he mumbled.
When Dean approached the cage, the other man lowered his unblinking eyes on Dean's pistol, falling back a step with his exposed, mole-dusted shoulders slumping. "Oh, shit, sorry about that," Dean said, tucking it out of view. He inspected where he could locate an available lock to pick. "I'm gonna get you outta here, don't worry. You got a real name, buddy?"
A whisper, "Castiel."
Dean's skin warmed with the coarse quality of it.
Still itching and creeping.
"Alrighty then, Cas," he said, voice brightening. His fingers jerked the cage's release latch and jimmied it to slide. "Everything's gonna be okay."
A flash of silver blade.
The gilded cage burst open with a flurry of midnight-black feathers.
He fell hard on his back, his bones aching, gasping with Castiel's weight crashing into him. Naked arms rising into the air, hands firmly clasping over his head.
And then, silver puncturing over, and over, and over.
. . .
. . .
D glimpsed the empty birdcage and gracefully arched out a sleeve, whistling.
A flutter of wings.
The gorgeously sleek blackbird settled onto D's forearm, long beak dripping bloody.
"Arrogant humans," D gave a small, irritated sigh, running the back of a white finger over ruffled, silk-smooth feathers. "They never listen."
. . .
. . .
Leon slammed his hands down on a tabletop, rattling the utensils.
"There's no Stu Cook in the database. I checked." He scowled. "So, where did that rat bastard go, anyway? Con more innocent people into thinking he's higher law?"
D sipped on his teacup, neutral as he spoke, "He left in quite a hurry. Perhaps… the young man has learned his lesson."
More grumbling. Too distracted in his angered thoughts to hear the vibrating buzz of a cell phone, and when D's fingertips clicked it apart, separating the battery.
. . .
. . .
Supernatural/Petshop of Horrors is not mine. It's late in the manga for PSoH and early in Season 1 or 2 for SPN, if you want a timeline. So, I decided after a while that I'd be lame and make Castiel a bird. The blackbird is usually a sign of a "good" omen… but, as you can see, that wasn't entirely truthful. That kind of bird is also associated with mysticism/supernatural themes/insecurity. I also wanted to keep Castiel as an "angel" but for this AU, Castiel developed more into an angelic "deva" – or a non-physical, spiritual being. They're actually cosmic consciousness, and have similar abilities to angels. They will be seen as they want to be seen by lower beings. This is one of my Halloween gifts to my readers. Hope you enjoyed.
Loosely based on this prompt from the SPN Kink Meme:
"Cas is a beautiful angel, trapped in a gilded cage and meant to sing only for his master.
Either Dean is that master or he's someone else who makes Cas sing for him.
Lots of focus on the fact that Cas is otherworldly, a pet and seen as a possession."