Summary: AU: Castiel is a private physician who receives a request from Rippers, a popular cage fighting club, to attend to one of their employees. "RH or rapid healer: a human with the ability to heal at an expedited rate and repair the body in drastic ways."
Warnings: extreme violence and gore.
Also available in PDF form. Send me a PM.
"We're all architects of our own private hell. No one can hurt us like we've hurt ourselves." – Young Guns, Bones.
With what he believed was entirely warranted trepidation, Castiel sidled past the heavy set bouncer staring down at him expressionlessly and entered the building. The smell of sweat and blood greeted his nostrils. The air was thick with it, making it difficult to breathe. He held onto the banister as he walked down the lengthy set of steps, fighting the urge to hold a handkerchief to his nose. Lighting was dim, barely there; a vague glow of a flickering fluorescent lamp above the door at the bottom. The walls and floor were black, probably to hide unwanted stains. Castiel had no doubts that the decor would continue throughout the whole edifice.
As he stumbled down the last step, slipping on something he didn't dare to look at, he pushed the heavy, cheaply painted door open. A blast of air marginally cleaner than what he had previously been breathing hit him with a whoosh, blowing through his short dark hair. Shouts and screams from both men and women mixed with the heavy drum and bass music blasting out of speakers too far away to see. The place was huge and filled to the rafters with people.
Castiel had exited the staircase onto what appeared to be a long balcony which also had numerous people leaning against the black metal railings, watching the fight taking place in the centre of the warehouse sized room. The ceiling was too high up to see but hanging from its shadowy depths were four giant spotlights, all aimed at the elevated caged ring which was surrounded by a sea of people.
Rippers, also known as "Rip Torn" and "Shredders", was one of the more popular cage fighting clubs in the district. Castiel usually distanced himself from such places, refusing to treat and help maintain the violent fighters who battled there. The call he had received, however, had sounded desperate, pleading, which had brought out his compassion so he had accepted the job. And Castiel was good at his job; he was fast, efficient, asked few questions and left once he was paid.
He made his way down the steps squeezing through the crowd, very pointedly ignoring the two fighting men ripping into each other with their bare hands, and walked up to one of the three bars.
"I'm Dr. Novak here to see Mr. Winchester," said Castiel to the man behind the counter who appraised him with barely hidden dislike and jerked his chin to one of the high stools. "I'll tell him you're here," he grunted.
Most people didn't like having outsiders in clubs like Rippers, outsiders who, like Castiel, never attended such places if they could avoid it. It made the regulars nervous and, although cage fighting itself wasn't illegal, RH fights were which was why Castiel's appearance, his smart attire, trench coat and formal manner were always unwelcome.
Castiel perched on the stool and folded his hands in his lap, eying the dubious pools of liquid on the counter. He ignored the gazes boring into him from all sides and waited patiently for the bar tender to return. When he did, he was accompanied by a very tall man with shaggy brown hair and fox-like eyes.
"Um, Dr. Novak?" asked the man. He had a boyish demeanour and Castiel felt himself softening towards it.
"Yes," said Castiel with a sharp nod. "You're Mr. Winchester?"
"Uh, yeah. I - Dean, my brother, he's – well, I guess you'll have to see for yourself," muttered the man. "Call me Sam by the way."
Castiel did nothing more than tilt his head to show it was acknowledged and held out a hand to indicate he should lead the way. They walked around the dense crowd, rather than through it, to reach a guarded door on the other side of the room. Sam opened it without a pause, holding the door for Castiel as he did so.
They entered a cool, grey corridor which was better lit and smelled cleaner. The pair passed by a few doors before coming to a halt outside one partially open. There was an argument taking place inside and someone was clearly in pain judging by the gasps and expletives.
"Look, it wasn't my fault, okay?! His arm just snapped!"
"I thought you knew what you were doing? He's back in the ring in forty minutes!"
"Will you two shut the fuck up and get me some fucking alcohol?"
"Get the man a whiskey."
"I don't think that's a good idea, he's already had more than enough pain killers –"
"Oh, I'm sorry are you the manager?"
"Then get him his damn whiskey you stupid fucker!"
Sam opened the door just as a bulky man pushed past him. Castiel figured the room they were in was supposed to be an office of some kind. There was a battered old computer sitting on the desk on the far right of the oblong room with a monitor which probably weighed more than Castiel. The walls were a yellowish brown colour, the carpet was rough wiry and grey and there was a lone fan spinning slowly on the ceiling. On one of the uncomfortable looking plastic chairs in the corner was a man clutching what had to be the worst disfiguration of an arm Castiel had ever seen. Not only was the shoulder joint dislocated but the forearm was broken into a swan neck shape. His arm had more angles than an irregular polygon.
Feeling someone's gaze on him, Castiel lifted his own to lock with a pair of blazing green eyes. They were angry; pure, unadulterated anger swam in their dizzying depths. The anger was so intense it knocked Castiel's breath out of him. This man wasn't simply aggravated, annoyed at having probably lost a fight or even disgruntled at his obvious injury, he was a black hole of rage, an abyss with nothing else inside of it but darkness and wrath and it had been that way for a while. Castiel could see it in the set of the man's shoulders and the lines around his eyes. This type of anger had been the norm for him for a long, long time.
"You're the doctor I presume?" asked a snide voice to Castiel's right. It was the woman who had claimed to be the manager. She was dressed in a pinstriped pencil skirt and a matching, fitted blazer. Her long brown hair was neat, her eyes were big, cheekbones prominent and, in someone else's opinion, she was perhaps attractive. To Castiel, she was like a snake.
"Uh, Bela, this is Dr. Novak," said Sam. "Dr. Novak, this is Bela Talbot, Rippers' manager, and this is Dean, my brother."
Castiel nodded and moved around Bela without preamble to get to Dean who stared up at him, face unchanging. "May I see your arm?" asked Castiel politely.
"How much is this going to cost?" piped in Bela.
He heard Sam sigh heavily behind him. Dean, on the other hand, didn't make a sound as he lowered his left hand to display his dreadfully damaged arm. Castiel pulled up a chair, eyes narrowing at the lack of bruising. "You're an RH?"
An RH, or a rapid healer, was a person who had the ability to heal a thousand times faster than the regular rate of a normal human being.
"Yeah he –" began Sam
"He isn't a fighter," said Bela quickly. "He works behind the bar."
Sam snorted. "I think we can credit Dr. Novak with a little more intelligence than that Bela."
Castiel straightened up turning to look at the two still standing. "As far as I'm concerned, you can consider me ignorant to everything beyond Dean's immediate injuries. Now, in relation to the damage his arm has suffered, it would be in his best interest to receive hospital treatment –"
"No," said Bela. "No, we can't do that."
Castiel tilted his head. "Dean's injuries are serious." He didn't like referring to Dean as though he wasn't there but the fighter didn't seem to want to talk and something told him Bela would only take control of the conversation anyway. "Being an RH, his body has attempted to heal the broken bone, setting it the way it is, which means I will have to break it again just to put it right. His shoulder-"
"You have pain killers don't you?" snapped Bela. "Or aren't you a real doctor?"
He fought the urge to fire off a retort. "I have types pain relief, certainly, but nothing that will numb his arm to that extent."
"Fucking do it all ready," said a cool voice.
"Dean," sighed Sam. "You need to go to hospital."
"I've already said no," said Bela.
"It's not up to you!" snapped Sam.
"If he still wants a job after this it is!"
With doubtful eyes, Castiel appraised Dean. "It will be excruciatingly painful," he warned. "Do you understand that?"
The anger level in Dean never changed. "I can handle it," he said, his green gaze boring in Castiel's, daring him to deny it.
"You'll be awake throughout the entire procedure," said Castiel, unable to hide the faint disbelief in his voice. "You're an RH. The chances of you passing out are slim –"
"Just do it, Jesus, want do you want? A fucking signed contract? Look, I'll do it my goddamn self!" exclaimed Dean and then, to Castiel's horror, proceeded to shift his leg, raise his arm and slam it down on his knee.
"FUCK!" screamed Dean. The blood curdling snap that followed had Castiel swallowing down bile. Castiel was still staring in total shock when Bela thwacked Dean on the back of the head. "What the hell did you do that for? You could have lost the arm you idiot!"
Dean rolled his eyes, his forehead was glistening with sweat and when he met Castiel's gaze he snorted. "The fuck are you crying for?"
Castiel blinked and touched his face only for his fingers to come away wet. He stared at the moisture in surprise.
"Can you fix his shoulder now? He needs to be back at work in twenty minutes," demanded Bela.
Turning to look at her, he said, "That's impossible. Dean needs rest. He may be an RH but his body needs to recover from the trauma." His voice was rough and shaky which amazed him. In his line of work he had seen more than his fair share of gruesome injuries.
"I won't allow it," said Bela immediately. "I'm paying him to work not sit around."
Castiel's jaw tightened. "Then I refuse to treat him."
Bela was astonished. "What does it matter to you if he rests or not? You're going to get paid, aren't you?"
The door was abruptly thrown open and the bulky man who had left earlier returned. "Bela, we've got a problem."
She threw up a hand in exasperation. "Can't you see I've already got a list of problems to deal with?"
"The cops are here."
"Fuck," she hissed, straightening her suit. "They're here now?"
"At the bar."
Bela nodded and turned to Castiel. "Looks like you've got what you want. He can rest." She looked at Dean and pointed a manicured finger at him. "Don't let the cops catch sight of you or I'll have your head, got it?"
"Whatever," growled Dean. "Go suck them off so don't they don't fine you."
Her only response was to smile unpleasantly. Bela left with her employee and Castiel was alone with Sam and Dean.
Sam rubbed the back of his neck. "She can be a bit of a bitch," he said as though this was sufficient and acceptable reasoning for the way she had treated Dean.
Castiel didn't say anything. He wanted to leave as soon as possible. Wordlessly, he took Dean's now straight arm with a firm grip. He checked to make sure that it was indeed an anterior dislocation and then proceeded to move it back into place. He bent the fighter's elbow to a ninety degree angle and steadily rotated the arm and shoulder outward. Castiel then held his wrist and pushed. The pop was immediate, an indication that the shoulder had slipped back into the joint. Although it must have been painful, Dean never even flinched.
"Is that it now?" asked Sam as Castiel continued to probe Dean's arm and shoulder.
Castiel sighed. It was difficult not to lose his temper. The amount of pain this fighter must have been in was nothing short of cruel. It didn't make sense to Castiel that Dean would put himself through it and that Sam, a family member, would allow it.
"Preferably I would want to x-ray his shoulder and his arm just to make sure everything has healed the way it should have but I don't suppose you're going to allow me to do that are you?" He wasn't entirely sure who he was addressing. These people seemed to treat Dean like an animal. Like a fighting dog that was incapable of talking for itself.
"No, no, if you, uh, if you think that it's important then I'll persuade Bela to let him have it," said Sam.
Castiel felt Dean's eyes on him. He met them and searched their green depths for answers but there was none to be found, just a cold, angry stare.
"I can only x-ray him at my private surgery," said Castiel removing his card.
"You can't do it here?"
Brow furrowing, Castiel shook his head. "Unfortunately, I don't own a pocket x-ray machine."
Sam forced a laugh. "Yeah... sorry," he replied bashfully and took the offered business card displaying Castiel's address and telephone number.
"Call me anytime," said Castiel, picking up his bag. "The sooner the better."
"Yeah, sure, um, I can pay you at the bar," said Sam.
He headed to the door with the tall gangly man on his tail but before he exited Dean spoke.
"What's your name?"
Castiel turned, looking at Dean curiously. "I'm sorry?"
"What's your name?" he repeated.
"Why do you wish to know?"
Dean snorted contemptuously. "What? You worried about identity theft? Trust me, that..." he gestured to Castiel's entire person, "is safe with you. No one is gonna imitate that, man."
A joke? The doctor's lips twitched. "Castiel," he said.
The fighter nodded, looking away, as though he didn't care and as Castiel drove home that night he thought about Dean and what lay beneath his angry green eyes.
Six days passed and Castiel fully expected never to hear from the Winchesters again. He felt some regret and concern over Dean's welfare but not enough for him to return to the club and endure Bela Talbot again.
At midday on a dreary Saturday, he was sitting with his best friend, Gabriel, in one of his favourite coffee shops, feeling relaxed and happy after having pushed his stressful week to the back of his mind.
"Therefore given how adamant the staffs' general consensus is on the whole issue, I deduce I'll have to acquiesce to the supervisor's – unfair, in my opinion - request."
Castiel looked up from his crossword puzzle and frowned. "Gabriel, are you talking about the fact that you wore an 'I love cock' t-shirt to work and were asked to change?"
His companion pursed his lips in thought. "I think that's what I said. Is that what I said?"
Castiel squinted. "Why are you talking like a graduate from The School of Pompous Asses?"
Gabriel shrugged, reclining in the plastic chair and peering out of the window at the traffic cruising by at a steady pace. "I'm just trying to speak your language, Cassy."
"You sound like an invalid," muttered Castiel, scratching his rough chin and tapping his pen against the newspaper. No matter how often he shaved he still had stubble; his facial hair was incorrigible. "Crying shame, four letters?"
"How about your sex life?" quipped Gabriel. "If that's not a crying shame I don't know what is." He was rocking back and forth on the chair's spindly legs and Castiel didn't feel any remorse for hoping he would topple over.
"I am not lacking in sexual gratification, Gabriel, and I'll thank you for keeping your nose out of it."
All four legs returned to their flat position with a thud. "Sexual gratification?" exclaimed Gabriel. "With the way you talk it's a wonder even creepy Becky likes you."
Castiel sighed. "Becky is not creepy."
"She's not normal though is she?" said Gabriel with a snort. "Who reads porn at work?"
"That was one occasion and I warned her about it."
"I think you should fire her." And then as an afterthought, he added, "Big John is looking for a job..."
Castiel rubbed his temple. "I am not hiring a stripper just because you dislike my receptionist. Becky is perfectly capable of doing her job."
"She's perfectly capable of stalking you too..."
The door to the cafe opened and a cool breeze ruffled Castiel's hair and tickled his neck. He dragged his gaze away from his crossword to glare at his friend with every purpose of defending Becky when he noticed Gabriel's attention was diverted elsewhere, over Castiel's shoulder.
"Holy shit..." Gabriel whispered, his mouth hanging open in awe.
"Two sex gods at nine o'clock."
Castiel didn't even bother turning around. "Why don't you go and work your magic, Romeo?" he murmured and drained the last few swallows of his tea. Brews Brothershad a cheap interior, awful seating and wobbly tables but it also sold the most delicious hot drinks in town and had a wonderful relaxed atmosphere. Its plus points and its familiarity made the Brews Brothersfaults seem more like lovable idiosyncrasies than irritations.
"Hell no... waaay out of my league," breathed Gabriel.
Castiel lowered his cup, staring at Gabriel in disbelief. Never, in all the years that Castiel had known him, had Gabriel lacked confidence and certainly not when it came to any of his conquests. Curiously, Castiel peeked over his shoulder in what he hoped was a subtle gesture. To his intense surprise it was Sam and Dean Winchester.
As usual Dean's face was set in a grimace, every line of his body was rigid and he was hunched over the table, staring at his hands, flexing them, while Sam murmured unheard words to him. Castiel took note of how Dean used his arm and was pleased to see it was moving just fine, the way it was supposed to.
He turned his back on them to find Gabriel looking at him with wide eyes. "Hot or what?!" he whispered.
"That's Sam and Dean Winchester. I treated Dean earlier in the week for a dislocated shoulder."
"No shit! Really?" said Gabriel. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because there's nothing to tell."
"Are you kidding?! They're sex on legs."
"They're handsome," agreed Castiel, returning to his crossword. "A little too tall perhaps."
"Too tall ... shit, Cassy, sometimes I'd swear you were straight."
Castiel didn't justify that with an answer.
"Are they gay?" asked Gabriel quickly.
"I have no idea."
"Shit, they're gorgeous... Especially the one with long hair."
"Really? He's so hot," whined Gabriel.
"Indeed," said Castiel. He wrote 'utopia' neatly in the small printed boxes of his crossword puzzle. "Why don't you go and ask him out?" Given Sam's occupation and the things he was associated with, Castiel would have tried to discourage Gabriel from making a move on Sam Winchester but, like all of his friend's conquests they never lasted past a one night stand. Therefore Castiel had no qualms about it.
"I can't do that!" exclaimed Gabriel.
"He might... what if he said no?"
Castiel stared at him incredulously. "This is Gabriel I'm talking to, isn't it? You haven't been possessed by an insecure teenage girl without my knowledge have you?"
"No..." Apparently, it was a day for surprises because Gabriel actually blushed. The pink stain on his cheeks was spreading to his nose and forehead the longer Castiel stared. It was fascinating, like witnessing a penguin flying. A blushing Gabriel simply wasn't an everyday occurrence.
"What's wrong with you?" prodded Castiel. "Why are you embarrassed?" If he was a sensitive soul he would not have asked but he wasn't, nor was he a mind reader. He preferred to have things spelled out for him.
Gabriel ripped a sugar sachet into tiny pieces, eyes shifting to the men and back to Castiel's eyes. "He's gorgeous."
Unforgiving of his friend's obvious discomfort, Castiel's brow rose. "So are most of the men you date."
'Date' was a very loose term for what Gabriel actually did with the men he met but Castiel thought implying his friend was a slut was perhaps unfair given he was already embarrassed.
Incredulous, Gabriel leaned forward. "Are we looking at the same guy?!"
"Yes." Castiel shrugged. "So?"
"My optician would beg to differ."
When Gabriel didn't answer Castiel lifted his gaze again to find him still staring over his shoulder at the men. Although Castiel would never say it aloud, he thought Gabriel looked quite cute, mooning over a guy like a teenager who had just discovered the joys of masturbation. It made his lips twitch into a small smile. "You really like him." Castiel chuckled. "I can make an enquiry about Dean's arm?" he offered. "And you could come with me?"
Gabriel shook his head, finally dropping his eyes. "No. It's okay."
"If that's what you want," said Castiel as he folded up his newspaper and rose to his feet. "It's probably just as well. They're employees at Rippers."
"Where are you going?" said Gabriel indignantly.
"I have an appointment at two o'clock."
"They paid double."
"You should only ditch a friend if you're going to get laid!" he shouted across the coffee shop.
Castiel rolled his eyes, swinging the door open. "Goodbye, Gabriel."
He allowed a car to pass before he crossed the street, his mind wandering to his next appointment. The sky above his head was a dull grey and a light, barely there, shower began to fall.
At the sound of his name, he turned and admittedly wasn't pleased to see Sam Winchester running across the road towards him.
"Mr Winchester," he said as politely as possible.
"Hey, uh, listen, sorry we didn't –"
Castiel held up a hand. "It's fine."
Nodding, Sam rubbed the back of his neck, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"Was there something else?" asked Castiel.
Sam released a weighted breath. The tension in his tall frame was obvious. Castiel could feel it from where he was standing like heat from a fire.
"Dean had a pretty brutal fight a couple of days ago. The guy," Sam swallowed, "the guy, um, gouged Dean's eyes out with his thumbs."
Castiel closed his eyes. "Mr Winchester, I don't wish to hear—"
"I know, I know, it's just, look, Dean needs help he needs someone to talk to."
"Then take him to see a therapist."
"He won't talk to anyone and he's got a bad temper... I wouldn't want to..." He looked at Castiel from under his wet bangs. "Dean spoke to you—"
Knowing where the conversation was going, Castiel shook his head. "No, no, he needs a therapist—"
"You're a doctor!"
"I'm not that kind of doctor," said Castiel.
Sam's expression was coloured with desperation. "Please," he begged. "I'm worried it's getting to his head."
"Cage fighting – RH cage fighting – is a brutal sport. There's a reason it's illegal, Mr Winchester. Maybe your brother should consider a different career."
"We, um, we can't... it's complicated," said Sam. "Look, all I'm asking is that you see him say once a week and just... just talk to him. That's all he needs. He just needs someone to talk to who isn't ..." Sam shook his head and wiped the rain from his face. "Please. Please, Castiel."
The doctor stared at him in silent deliberation. Dean was going to be a difficult case. Even if Castiel was a therapist he would have been apprehensive about taking someone like Dean on. His head was a minefield of problems that much was obvious. Not to mention Sam's careful sidestepping of Dean's temper. There was a chance that Castiel could be in danger if he chose to treat Dean. And yet, with all of those things in mind, with all the potential problems that could arise, he still found himself saying, "I'll see him next Saturday at 3pm at my surgery."
Sam nodded quickly, the tension cracking away from his face to reveal a genuine smile. "Thank you, thank you so much. If there's anything I can do just name it."
Castiel was about ready to decline when something occurred to him. He found himself smiling. "Actually there is something you can do..."
"You are going to be worshipped forever. Angels are going to kiss your feet."
"Hello, Gabriel," said Castiel with a small laugh. He was scrolling through a RH forum, on the lookout for something which could help him with Dean next week. There was a surprising amount of information about RH Cage Fighting along with more than enough imagery to go with it. Some RH fighters had been able to regenerate whole limbs. If the photographs hadn't been so sickening Castiel might have been impressed. "I take it Sam asked you out."
"Hells yeah, he did! Hey, thanks for putting in a good word."
"Anything to please."
"Would have been better if you'd said I had a huge cock though just to make me sound all the more impressive."
"It must have slipped my mind."
Gabriel continued to talk for awhile about the possible length of Sam's penis before Castiel claimed he was just sitting down for dinner and would have to call him back.
The RH forums hadn't been helpful. Even through text Castiel was able to tell that some of the ex-fighters had mental/personality issues. They came across as aggressive and very... alpha male which was fitting since they were like wolves in the ring.
With nothing else to glean from the internet, Castiel shut his computer down and cooked some pasta, wondering how difficult Dean was going to be on Saturday and hoping he hadn't made a serious mistake.