Wowwwwww. It's been too long, my friends. But Thanksgiving break, Hallelujah! Since it's been so long, I took the liberty of compiling a short summary for y'all in case you're fuzzy on some details. :)

So Far: The Winchesters, famous bounty hunters, catch up to their target and notorious criminal, Castiel Novak, in New Mecca on the planet, Helion Prime. Their, Castiel and his friends engage in a firefight with Alex and her friends, where Alex is shot in the shoulder. Cas takes Alex at knife-point and negogiates his friends' free pass out in exchange for his surrender. Dean agrees and the Winchesters take Casinto custody. While in The Impala, Alex takes an opportunity to study Castiel in his sleep and he catches her in the act. She has a dream about a sexy liason with Cas, leaving hickeys and bruises. The next morning, she wakes to find those hickeys and bruises still there. Dean informs them he forgot to fuel up and Cas reveals that Dean plans on taking him to Crematoria, a dangerous triple-max prison. Sam and Alex are angry that Dean didn't tell them about these risks. The Winchesters dock on the planet, Sol Lucia, known for its slums and black market. While walking through the city, they are ambushed by men in dark clothing and Alex is forced to separate from her brothers when Cas escapes in the chaos. She chases him and catches up to him, but he escapes again when she interrupted by the same men who ambushed them earlier. When Alex finds herself cornered in an alley, she takes down the dark-clothed men, receiving many injuries in the process. When she tries to interrogate one of them, he shoots her in the leg, says he's a demon working for the devil, and is about to shoot her in the head when Cas intervenes, killing him. Alex passes out and Cas takes her to a safe location where he patches her up. They argue alot. Eventually, Cas talks to her about his sisters to soothe her as he pulls out bullet fragments. He then knocks her out with a heavy dose of morphine. When Alex wakes again, she tries to fight him, but her injuries and his strength overwhelm her and he has to take care of her injuries again. He reveals that her sexy dream wasn't a dream. She's conflicted about him saving her life. She gets belligerent and he knocks her out again with more morphine, revealing that he needs Alex to get into Crematoria.

Kudos: To River Winters for being the bestest support ever!~

Please R&R! I would really like to know what you guys think so far!


6.

She was awake on a slightly softer surface than before. Alex wiggled her toes and licked her lips, making sure everything was still functioning properly. Her tongue felt fuzzy and her throat was really dry, which only made the sudden nausea all that much worse. She'd never responded to painkillers well; her high pain tolerance attested to that. Something was missing, a certain, comforting pressure around her waist.

Alex wondered what she'd open her eyes to this time.

"Open your eyes, sweetheart."

That insufferable voice…She blinked and tried to sit up straight but something hard and cold on her left wrist forced her to prop herself up on an elbow. Staring at the gleaming, silver handcuffs attached to the metal rungs of the rusted headboard, Alex couldn't even think of a wisecrack.

She frowned and said accusingly, "You drugged me."

Castiel, who had been sitting on a poor, sagging bed across from her, smiled cheekily. "Couldn't have you trying to slice me up the moment you woke from your beauty sleep."

The room they were in was small, barely able to fit the two beds on opposite walls with a chipped, wooden nightstand in between. The roof was made of poorly fitted slats, allowing sunshine to peek through in certain places, dotting the wooden floor with perfect circles of strawberry gold. She noticed the absence of windows and the single door at the foot of the bed her criminal currently sat on. She didn't like the constriction of the small room. It smelled of musty pine and mold.

"You drugged me." She repeated through gritted teeth.

"Yup."

She was surprised at the sting of betrayal in her gut. "You said you weren't going to hurt me."

He rolled his eyes. "Just be happy I didn't stab you with a horse tranquilizer."

Alex licked her lips again, the sudden realization that she was in a different place from last time and had no idea how she'd gotten here making her nervous. She saw with relief that her duty belt was draped over the foot of her bed…only the handcuff case was empty.

"Are these my handcuffs?"

He nodded. "As I aforementioned, I thought you might attack me in your sleep or something."

"I wish." She snorted, and tried to sit up a little straighter to lean against the headboard. "Where are we this time?"

"Welcome to my humble abode."

Another man walked through the door, a dirty, fluff towel in his arms. Alex immediately snapped into action, reaching for her weapons, only to realize she didn't have any. She grabbed the lamp on the nightstand and raised her chin defiantly at this new stranger. He was shorter than Castiel and definitely thinner, with brown hair and a short beard with a mustache to match. His facial features angled slightly downwards, giving him a somewhat weathered appearance.

"That lamp actually belonged to my great-great-grandmother so I'd really appreciate it if you put it back on the nightstand." The man raised his hands in a non-threatening position.

Alex looked at the ugly lamp. "Your ancestors have poor taste."

The man laughed. "Where'd you find this one, Cas? Can I get one?"

Cas. The use of a nickname was interesting; that woman had called him Cas back in the first house, where'd they'd taken him down. Like Casshole. Alex assumed the new stranger was a friend of Castiel's, and if anything, that made her even more worried.

Castiel stood, catching the towel that the man threw at him. "She found me, man."

Alex growled, watching the camaraderie between the two men. "Can you not talk about me like I'm not right here?"

"This is my man, Chuck." Castiel slapped him on the back jovially. "He was kind enough to offer us refuge."

"Well, it's not like I really had a choice." Chuck frowned at Castiel. "You kicked down my front door and refused to leave."

Castiel ignored him. "Chuck, this is the baby Winchester."

Alex decided not take the bait. Instead, she asked, "Refuge?"

"Well you aren't going to be doing any running with that leg." Castiel looked at her as if it was obvious. "And since those Demons are still out there, it's not safe for either of us to be out and about right now."

"But my brothers-"

Castiel shook his head.

She argued, "I need to let them know I'm okay or something-"

It was Chuck's turn to shake his head, "Your comms network won't work in this neighborhood."

Castiel sighed. "Look, our best bet at getting off planet alive is to lay low and wait until they leave."

"And what if they don't?" Was he referring to the demons?

Cas didn't hesitate to reply. "They will."

Alex pursed her lips, thinking silently. The urge to make sure her brothers were safe and to let them know the same about her was an instinct ingrained in her from birth. She had never been separated from her brothers for this long, and she was feeling a little like she'd lost a limb. She wanted to ask Castiel to elaborate but she knew he wouldn't. She didn't want to trust him, much less stay cooped up in this stuffy, little room, but she had a feeling that she wouldn't be given the choice. He knew something about the people that had ambushed them; he had called them demons and the man in the alley had said he'd worked for the devil. She knew for a fact that he was more concerned about the men chasing them than her chasing him.

"Can I at least get some water?" She sighed, disgruntled. "My throat's killing me."

Chuck seemed to remember that she was, in fact, handcuffed to the bed. "Oh right, yeah, sorry."

She glowered at his back as he left, irritated about her situation and the nausea left behind by the painkillers. Castiel whistled cheerfully and slung the towel over his shoulder.

"I'm going to take a shower." His eyes were dark with mirth. "Care to join?"

Ignoring the sudden heat that hummed over her skin, she gave him a nasty look. "Only if I get to stab you in the heart. Repeatedly."

"Sweetheart, if we were naked, I wouldn't give a damn what you did to me."

The lamp shattered against the edge of the doorway where she'd miscalculated her throw. She hated it when he said things that made her body fill with treacherous heat. It was so absolutely infuriating and she knew he was only doing it to get under her skin. His raucous laughter echoed in the room as he left her alone.

Chuck came in a few moments later with a glass of water. He stopped in the doorway, staring at the mess of glass, ceramic, and wires on the floor. He looked back at her with a frown.

"It was bothering me." She said innocently.

He couldn't decide if she meant the actual vase or the infuriating man singing in the shower in the bathroom across the hall. He sucked in an amused breath and handed her the glass of water, which she accepted, gulping it down greedily.

"…Chuck, right?" Alex licked her now moist lips, placing the empty glass back on the nightstand. "Would you mind handing me my belt? I just need to take a quick inventory of my things."

She tried not to look too eager as he plucked her duty belt from the foot of the bed and tossed it in her lap.

"If you're looking for the keys, he took them."

Alex sighed. She had been expecting as much but it didn't hurt to try. "Foiled, again."

She placed the useless belt on the nightstand, wishing to herself that she'd thought to hide an extra key on her person.

He chuckled. "You're fighting a losing battle, honey."

She gave him another dirty look that he pointedly ignored in favor of the drawers in the nightstand. Chuck pulled a metal box, white paint flaking off the edges, from the drawer, slamming it shut with his hip and sitting down on the bed next to her. She immediately tensed at his closeness, eyeing the box warily. She suddenly wished she hadn't thrown the lamp. Castiel might have let his defenses down around her and Chuck but that didn't mean it was any safer for her to do the same. She still knew next to nothing about him and she sure as hell didn't trust Castiel.

"What're you doing?"

"Redressing your injuries." Chuck opened the box to reveal basic first aid supplies in them. "You look like someone ran over you with a hover bike, twice."

She winced at his description, which only made her mood fouler. "Gee, thanks. You really know how to charm a girl."

"Sorry."

He smiled hesitantly, something she didn't expect – although she didn't really know what to expect. She'd thought all of Castiel's friends were like him, sarcastic and perverted. She waited quietly while he unwrapped the bandages around her shoulder, hissing a little when the dirty air slapped against the still-fresh bullet wound. She hadn't realized until now just how much it was bothering her, itchy and swollen and making her arm throb so hard it was almost numb with pain.

"Ouch." Chuck said, naturally wincing when he saw it in plain view.

She had to strain her eyes to get a good view. The stitches were well done and she had to give Castiel credit for cleaning it up nicely. Her leg probably looked much the same, if only worse because she'd been shot at a much closer range. She remembered the bruises along her ribs where punches had gotten through her defenses and reached for the metal box.

She looked him in the eye, sternly. "I can do this myself, thanks."

Chuck's eyes wandered to her arm that was still incarcerated by the handcuff to the headboard rungs. He was silent for a few seconds and she could see he thought better of it when he shook his head and smiled. Her hopes for a quick escape died away again.

"Don't be stubborn." He put a hand gently on her arm and she resisted the urge to pull away and shore up her defenses.

She had no choice but to sit quietly as he took an antiseptic wipe to the bloody stitches. "So… you're a friend of Castiel's?"

"You could say that."

Alex fought the urge to roll her eyes.

"I know what you're thinking. How could I be friends with a criminal like him?" Chuck smiled at her honestly, replacing the antiseptic wipe with a new layer of gauze.

She was a little flustered by how quickly he'd been able to perceive her question. "Well, you have to know about the things he's done. The things he still does."

"I can see where you're coming from." Chuck said kindly as he began to rewrap her wound. "But you're a bounty hunter. You wouldn't understand even if I tried explaining it to you."

She didn't like what he was implying. Sure, she thought Castiel was a dirty criminal who didn't deserve any less than a triple-max prison, but she wasn't some Federation robot. She could see that he had friends that had been willing to die for him back in New Mecca. She could see that he'd obviously had training in advanced combat and medical procedures. And she remembered his disjointed, monologue about his sisters. He was still a person and she wasn't the jury.

"Try me."

Giving her a look that clearly said he didn't think much of her sudden wish to understand, Chuck patted her newly bandaged shoulder. "He's a very complex person" – oh, she had to roll her eyes at that one – "And even I don't know much about him. You know he grew up here right?" – she nodded – "Then you should have a pretty clear idea about what this kind of life does to people."

"But I don't see you murdering people left and right." Alex pointed out.

Chuck laughed, dabbing a liquid to the bruises on her face. She flinched away – it's just some Bio-Heal, relax – and he held his hand steady until she allowed him to continue treating her.

"Cas may do things that I don't necessarily agree with, but he's got a good heart – a miracle when you've grown up in these slums. He's saved my life, and those of many others, more times than I can count." Chuck gave her a look that conveyed more than she understood and she decided not to mention how one of those lives had been hers. "If you knew him before…well, I bet you'd think differently."

"He kidnapped me." Alex frowned, unable to see how this kind, simple man had chosen to be friends with a homicidal sociopath. "And he's murdered innocent people. Tell me how that's okay."

Both of them seemed very aware that she hadn't said, his family, outright. It made her wonder just how much Chuck actually knew about Castiel's crimes.

Chuck seemed a little bit frustrated by her skepticism. "You're hands aren't that clean either, Winchester."

She didn't think his connotation could be any more negative and she didn't like that he'd implied that about her last name – her whole family. Alex ignored the horrible guilt that socked her in the stomach at his words.

"We do what's necessary and sometimes circumstances are out of our control." She defended her lineage bitterly.

He gave her a long look and she didn't back down from his stare, even as whatever he was dabbing onto her face made her wince and bite her lip. Chuck finally sighed and it seemed to release the tension that had been in the air. Alex let go of her hard grip on the bed post; for a moment, she'd been afraid of his dark, disapproving stare. Something about him had seemed off in that moment and she wondered if she'd misjudged his true nature. Maybe he was like Castiel.

A shrill keening sound shot through the dwelling and Alex jerked away from Chuck, alarmed. Her hands were doing the familiar sweep for weapons when he chuckled, taking the metal box from his lap and placing it back on the nightstand.

"It's just the tea kettle, calm down." He looked at her amused as she came up weaponless and disgruntled. "Sheesh, you're even jumpier than he is."

"Tea?" Alex asked incredulously.

She hadn't heard of anyone owning tea, much less drinking it in many years. Where had he gotten the creds for a rarity like a tea kettle? And even if he had kettle, how had he gotten the creds for clean water? Only the corpulent elite drank purified water anymore, the rest were subject to the standard, Federation-issued Hydro-Pro. The questions were burning at the front of her lips but she didn't think she wanted to know. She already had her hands full with one criminal; she didn't need to go rooting around for others.

Chuck handed her a roll of bandages and indicated to her leg. "Unwrap that one for me and I'll be back in a jiffy."

Alex watched him leave, curious all over again as to whom these people were. Most of the criminals she knew would've either sold her or killed her the moment she was defenseless. So why were these men treating her more like a guest than a prisoner? Was it an interrogation, or worse, torture technique – gain her trust then leave her high, dry, and dead? Alex didn't know what to think. What would Dean and Sam do? Thinking logically, Castiel and Chuck were her enemy. Any friend of Castiel's was a partner in crime and it was her duty to capture them. But her gut told her that they weren't going to kill her. And Castiel himself had said he'd needed her to get into Crematoria. But why? She was pretty sure if he could get out of Butcher Bay, he could just as easily get himself into Crematoria. What was so important to him in Crematoria that he'd allowed himself to get caught by the Winchesters? Every answer I get leads to a million more questions.

"I hate puzzles." Alex muttered to herself, and with her free hand, started to peel away the bandages on her thigh.

She wondered just what exactly her face looked like. It couldn't have been worse than what she was feeling. Being punched over and over again certainly wasn't helping her complexion. Alex was just feeling out the sore places on her face when she heard the door open across the hall. Steam rolled into the small room and Alex froze in her movements.

Castiel walked into the room wearing, of course, nothing more than a very small towel around his waist.

Without a shirt that barely covered the muscles in his forearms and shoulders, the muscles that rippled across his chest seemed all the more sculpted. Moisture still clung to his naked skin, dripping from his hair and eyelashes. Alex suddenly couldn't breathe and the room seemed too hot and small. She couldn't control the fantasies that suddenly exploded in her head. She already knew what his wicked mouth and dexterous fingers could do, oh her body would never let her forget that, but she wondered…she couldn't stop her eyes from following a drop of moisture that made its way down his very defined abs and disappeared beneath the towel.

Alex forced herself to tear her eyes away, looking at anything but the very attractive, very naked man in the room. She was steeling her nerves for another of his perverted comments, heat radiating from her cheeks. She knew he'd seen her ogling him.

"I thought I told you to knock her out."

Her eyes snapped back to him, catching Chuck coming in the room behind Castiel.

"I was getting there." Chuck said casually. "I forgot the tranquilizer in the kitchen."

Alex was about to make an angry retort when she realized he was still pretty much naked. She slapped her free hand over her eyes.

"Come near me with any sort of needle and I'll force feed you your own fingers." Alex said harshly, straining her ears to make out any signs of movement.

Cas' voice slid over her shoulders hotly. "I thought you liked my fingers."

She coughed to cover up her indignant splutter. "You're too disgusting to look at."

"You're cute when you're lying."

"I'm serious. You're ugly as fuck." She was lying through her teeth. "Put a goddamn shirt on."

His husky voice was a lot closer, startling her when he said, "How about you take yours off?"

Alex was saved from saying something very nasty by Chuck's exasperated sigh.

"Can you guys flirt later when I'm not here? My tea is over boiling and I'm not going to hold this tranq all day."

"Give it to me."

She heard Chuck retreating.

Alex sat very still, the hairs on her arms registering the warmth radiating from another close body. Castiel was very close; she squeezed her eyes shut tightly. She didn't have any weapons, but she wouldn't open her eyes. She didn't know what would happen if she saw him like that again. Her hormones were raging all over the place; she had to fight them to keep from squirming and satisfying that sinful desire between her legs. She couldn't risk letting him make her lose control like that again. He was too dangerous.

"Don't touch me." Alex blurted out, pressing her back against the headboard, further from where she thought he was.

"But I thought you liked it when I touched you." His voice was sultry, making her tremble.

His hand on her injured thigh made her jump and she tensed, trying to decide if it was worth it to leave her eyes unprotected and use her free hand to punch him in the face. Only…she didn't know if she wanted to. Everything inside her that remembered their tryst on board The Impala screamed for her to get closer to him, to touch him, to kiss him. Alex couldn't decide whether she wanted to shoot herself or him.

His touch was light and warm and stayed on her leg, though, his thumb brushed over the dark hickey on the inside of her thigh, making her involuntarily shiver.

"I'm handcuffed. I'm not going anywhere." Alex hated how desperate she sounded. "Don't put me under again."

It wasn't only that her body reacting negatively to painkillers, it was also the utterly helpless state they left her in. She couldn't stand the total loss of control of her own body and mind, not knowing what was happening outside of her unconscious. It terrified her. And now he knew it.

There were a few moments of silence where she was pretty sure his face was too close to hers. She squeezed her eyes shut tighter just imagining him half-naked and so close and those piercing eyes of his... And then she felt the suddenness of nothing in front of her and she knew he'd moved away when his hand left her thigh; she heard him fall onto the other bed. She didn't realize how tense she'd become until the relief flooded through her, her hand falling away from her face.

Castiel was lying on his back, one arm over his face, and still without a shirt on. But she was relieved to see he was wearing trousers.

"What are you doing?" She looked at him stupidly, wondering why he hadn't shot her full of opiates.

"Although you're a pain to handle –" He rolled onto his side, propping himself up on one elbow and spinning the hypodermic needle teasingly in between the fingers of his hand, " – I just can't get enough of that gorgeous blush of yours."

She looked at him suspiciously, fighting the urge to put her hand to her cheek. "I'm not blushing."

"Not yet, you aren't."

Alex mentally slapped herself; she had to stop walking into his little word traps. She jerked forward, thinking maybe she could go over there and choke the life out of him when the handcuff cut into her wrist. She glared at it angrily, and then looked back at Castiel. That chesire smile of his was too much to bear. Alex slid her body down along the bed, yanking the blankets up over her body and turning around so that her back was facing him.

Even though she was avoiding look at his annoying face, she couldn't escape his little chuckle.


It was like that for the rest of the week. She never realized how boring and tedious being stuck in bed could be. Castiel and Chuck refused to remove the handcuff, even though she'd tried to reason with them she wasn't going anywhere. The only time she was ever free of the metal traps was when Chuck allowed her to relieve herself – and even then, she was forced to leave the door open as he turned his back. Chuck lent her piles and piles of books – she was surprised that he hadn't sold them; paper fetched a pretty penny on the collector's market these days – but she wasn't really interested in The Thirty One Ways to Pray for Absolution. She slept most of the time, a welcome escape from the constant state of pain she was in. Once a day, Chuck changed her bandages and checked up on her. She felt like a damn hospital patient. Castiel was gone during the day and only returned late at night, startling her awake with all the noise he made coming in. She was too tired and irate from constant boredom to care about what he was doing. She itched constantly at the bandages, and once or twice she caught a fever.

Alex didn't know how many days passed. There wasn't a clock anywhere nearby and they'd taken her satellite watch. In many ways, she was their prisoner; ironic, since Castiel had been the one in chains first. She worried constantly about her brothers, what they were doing, if they were even looking for her, were they even alive? She hated sitting around and doing nothing. It only left her with copious amounts of time to imagine the worst possible scenarios.

She felt weak and listless, and she began to smell. How many days had it been since she'd had a shower? Alex tried to coax Chuck to take off the handcuffs so she could take a proper shower, but he just laughed and shook his head. She wasn't even going to ask Castiel. She didn't understand how they could be so calm about it all. If the Federation was keeping tabs on the Winchesters, they'd notice that they'd missed the delivery point on Crematoria. Would Federation ships be coming for them soon? Did Castiel realize this? She couldn't make sense of it or him. Just what was his endgame?

Night time was usually the worst, because that was when she could hear the horrors of Slum City's dark corners. There was almost always a knife fight that ended in that ominous squelching sound of a knife entering a gut and a gasp as someone took their last breath. Running feet, moldy concrete, and gunshots were a common nuisance. Once, when she'd woken to the sound of a scream in the alley, she'd been forced to listen to the sounds of desperate, muffled sobbing mixed with the carnal sounds of grunting and manhandling. When she'd sat up in bed, blood boiling with the intent of breaking her own wrist to get out of those blasted handcuffs and rescue the poor girl, Castiel had rolled over in his bed and pinned her in place with a piercing blue glare. He shook his head once. His lips had been drawn so tight, they'd looked white in the slivers of moonlight. She glared at him hatefully, fear and anger mixing to freeze in her veins as she endured the ruination that was happening right outside the house. They never spoke.

There were other nights though, the ones without dark incidents, which were sort of rewarding. Castiel would come out of the shower with the lone towel and she would bury her face in her pillow until she knew he was under his own covers. That was when she could get him to talk. The first time she'd been brave enough to speak, the least likely of questions spewed out of her mouth.

"How many sisters did you have?"

She knew of course, but the question came out anyway and froze him in the middle of pulling the ragged blankets over his shoulders. Alex lay flat on her stomach, hugging the pillow to cradle her own head – she'd found this was the best position to keep her wrist from cramping or twisting within the handcuff.

She was more surprised when he answered gruffly, "Six."

He turned off the lights and they waited in silence as their eyes adjusted to the dusty darkness. There was more silence in which she tried to discern his breathing from hers as she gathered the courage to continue the conversation.

"What were they like?"

"Are you really asking me about my family?" He sounded amused.

She found the need to defend her curiosity. "You were talking about them before, like you…like you…"

"Loved them?"

The temperature seemed to drop a few degrees and she snuggled deeper into her blankets. Every child in the Federation knew the horror story about how Castiel Novak had murdered his siblings in cold blood. He was a sociopath, a psychopath, a human without a soul or heart. That was what they were taught.

Castiel's voice was colder than before when he said "You don't know anything about me."

She'd offended him. Alex closed her eyes, trying to calm her rapid heartbeat. Maybe he'd kill her now. She knew it was a touchy subject, and really her curiosity was bound to get her killed one day. She couldn't help but think that nobody who'd killed their own kin would talk about their family with such warmth and nostalgia. It just didn't feel right. It was another mystery.

"I've read your files."

That earned a harsh, dry laugh from the other side of the rooms. "And I've read yours, baby Winchester."

She bristled at the taunt. Those files were supposed to be confidential. Castiel certainly had high connections if he could get access to her files.

It was a long time before either of them spoke again and when they did it was Castiel who threw words into the void.

"I was closest to Rachel, the third oldest of my sisters after Atropos and Naomi. She was always looking out for me, but she wouldn't hesitate to set me straight after I'd done wrong. She saw the world in black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. And there was nothing better than serving our father, bringing honor to our family, so naturally she was a fierce fighter. Rachel…" His voice became softer, losing some of its earlier chill. "She gave me my first blade. It was one of her old favorites and really, growing up with that many brothers and sisters, it was just nice having something of my own."

Alex knew little about Furyan traditions, but she knew they were a warrior-based culture.

"After Rachel was Gail, and those two were very different. Where Rachel believed in loyalty, Gail believed in love. She always fancied herself as some kind of matchmaker. I can't even tell you how many times she tried to set me up with other girls from other Houses. Love was her best weapon; the magic solution to everything." He laughed derisively and she understood that he dismissed the notion.

Alex hadn't grown up in the most lovable conditions and she suspected Castiel hadn't either. Neither of them put much stalk in love (with the exception of her brothers, she loved them to death). She doubted Castiel was capable of loving anyone, what with all the deaths in his name. Had he loved his family?

"Younger than Gail was Hester, who was more like Rachel in that she adored the older girls. She emulated them in every possible way, from Atropos' glasses and Naomi's bossy smirk to Rachel's temperament and Gail's affinity for the bow and arrow. It was crazy annoying, like four older sisters bottled messily into one younger one."

Alex listened to their breaths as they synchronized and fell out of tandem, becoming a rhythm by itself. She wanted to hear more, but she didn't want to interrupt him.

"Hester was always really good at following orders. But Anna-"

He cut off abruptly, forcing Alex to open her eyes and peer into the darkness. She heard him shifting in his bed, the rustling of blankets against straw, and then he was still again. Had he gone to sleep? The silence weighed heavily on her body.

Her voice cracked. "Dean's like that." She didn't know if he was listening and she didn't care. "He always did what Dad told him to and it was infuriating because Dean had this infallible trust in him that neither me nor Sammy could understand." Why was she telling him these things? "But it was okay, because Dean was the one who looked out for us, not Dad."

The pain in her chest blossomed into an aching for the protection she always had in the shadows of her brothers. They're not dead, Alex. Shut up.

"One time, when Dad was away on a hunt with Bobby, Dean snuck us out and taught me and Sammy how to fly a ship." She smiled fondly at the memory of her little hands on the nobs, Dean's confident ones guiding her fingers in the motions of graceful piloting. The captain's seat had seemed like a throne then – still did really. "We got in so much trouble." She laughed quietly to herself.

Alex fell silent, reliving more memories of the good times with her brothers. It hurt to think about them. She couldn't help them from where she was. And it hurt even more to realize that she hadn't thought about escaping in a while.

"I barely ever saw Atropos, the oldest girl in our family." Castiel was awake then. "Real stick-up-the-ass type of girl, bookish too. She had specific duties that kept her away for weeks at a time. I don't think I ever saw her smile. She always gave me books for my birthday." Alex could swear she heard a note of wistfulness in his voice.

"With real paper?" Alex envisioned the towers of Chuck's books that sat at the foot of her bed; who knew how many more he had stashed in this dilapidated old house?

His whisper was dark, drifting across to her warm, scratchy cocoon of blankets and warming her ears. "Yes."

She fell asleep to thoughts of smooth, embellished covers, the scent of old leather and paper wafting across her dreams.


The nights after that, they bantered and traded insults; there was no more talk of family and loved ones. She was kind of disappointed. It got to a point where she slept through the day and only awoke when Castiel walked back in after his routine shower. Chuck still changed her bandages once a day; that was also the only time she got to see him, and the only time she got something other than water to drink since Chuck would bring his dumb tea set in, his wise eyes daring her to refuse a cup of tea. The bullet wound on her leg worried him, she could tell, and it worried her too. It wasn't healing but it wasn't getting any better either and she didn't understand why. The bullet wound on her shoulder was a different story though, healing up pretty nicely given the dirty circumstances she'd been forced into. She could even sleep on that side now. The bruises on her face and arms ought to have healed by now, though Alex couldn't tell since she had no access to a reflective surface, and she couldn't really pinpoint just how long she'd been held captive. It worried her that she'd lost track. She was getting too comfortable.

"How much longer am I gonna be stuck here?" She asked Castiel that night. It was a cheap cover-up for her real question: How long have I been wasting away, handcuffed to this damn bed?

"Until I say so."

Ugh. Fucking bastard.

"The demons still out to get us?" She asked sarcastically.

"Yes."

"You do realize that conversations require multiple words and sentences?" Alex complained, running a hand through her knotted hair. God, she needed a fucking bath.

Castiel sat down on the edge of her bed, water from his hair dripping down his bare chest. She covered her face with one hand as best as she could. Usually, she could control herself pretty well around attractive human beings. But for some reason, the sight of the half-naked criminal, or even the thought of him completely naked, made her head spin; she didn't trust herself.

"Your ugliness is blinding me."

"We could always have a different sort of conversation."

She could practically feel his eyes traveling over her body, setting her skin afire underneath the thin blankets. Squeezing her eyes shut tightly, she lashed out to land a punch – hopefully right on that insufferable mouth of his. He caught her wild swing easily and interlaced their fingers. Her cheeks burned as she tried to reclaim her hand.

He said calmly, "I have to admit, I quite like you in handcuffs."

"You're repulsive." She replied curtly, still trying to yank her ensnared hand back to her side and ignoring how nicely his rough fingers felt in hers. The handcuff dug into the skin of her left wrist as she used her whole body to pull away from him.

There was an awkward silence when she realized she wasn't getting her hand back and he patiently waited for her to stop resisting. He let their hands rest on what felt like his thigh. Alex kept her eyes shut, seething on the inside. She hated feeling trapped like this and he damn well knew it.

"Why are you so afraid of them?" If he was going to keep her pinned in place like this, she might as well get as much out of it as she could.

"Who? The Demons?" He scoffed. "I'm not. I'd just rather not get tangled up with them if I can help it."

"Why do you keep calling them demons?"

"Because that's what they call themselves. And that's what they are."

She was encouraged by the length of the answers she was getting. "The man who shot me said he worked for the devil. I thought he was just being snarky, but now…"

"Now what?" His voice was neutral; it gave away nothing of what he might have been thinking.

She kept her reservations to herself. If their leader was calling himself The Devil…well. "What do they want with you?"

"What everyone wants."

She opened her eyes at the tone in his voice. His facial expression was serious, nothing comical lingering in the angles of the smooth skin. She was at once mesmerized by the peculiar colors of his eyes.

"And what, pray tell, does everyone want?"

Nothing in his eyes changed as he said, "My head in a box."

Castiel suddenly dropped her hand and sprung away from his perch on her bedside, leaving her with a chill of foreboding. She scrambled for a little bit more.

"Wait, but that doesn't make any sense! They aren't mercenaries or Federation soldiers! I would know, and they for sure as hell aren't bounty hunters! Unless I'm missing something, those are all the people who want you dead and are capable of making it happen. " Alex puzzled over his retreating back, desperate for some type of clarity in the jumble of this mess she'd gotten into. "Castiel!"

He stopped and turned, hand on the doorway; he was smirking again. "It's just Cas, sweetheart."

He left.


I love you, my readers.