Detective Winchester split the barroom curtains, a neat man in a hand-made suit and hair parted over one eye. A cowboy sat on the far end, the lamp hung so low that nothing could be seen of his face save for the glowing end of a cigarette. Smoke trailed over his shoulder, and he did not look up when Dean took the seat next to him.
Castiel studied his shotglass. "What can I do for you?"
Dean removed a photo from his jacket, a grainy line-up of German soldiers with the commanding officer circled in red ink, and slid it across the bar. "You know this man?"
Cas removed his hat. A sunburn lined his forehead, though it was more dirt than anything. "Crowley. Yeah I seen him."
"Can you take me to him?"
"Might," he said, tapping ashes onto the floor, "What're the Feds doin' this far south? Thought we had a war on."
Dean's mouth tightened. "This is my war effort," he said, "What about you?"
Castiel smiled for the first time, his teeth glowing in the gloom. "Bad hip. You break horses for ten years," he said, ducking his head into the light, "You're bound to crack something."
Dean held his breath. The man had an angel face with a touch of cinder in his eyes, and the air suddenly felt very close.
"How far is he?"
"Not far," said Cas, dropping his cigarette on the floor and crushing it with his bootheel, "He's got a cow and calf operation down on the Llano river, I'll take you there."
He dropped money on the bar, fitting his hat low over his face, and retrieved a shotgun he'd left leaning by the door. Dean traced the lines of his back with slow eyes, lean-muscled with a slight tilt of the hips where he favored one leg, and undid his top shirt button.
"Where's your car?" asked Dean once they were outside, looking up and down the street.
Cas laughed, pulling up the reins of two Clydesdales taller than either man. "You're in Texas," he said, mounting up, "This is my car."
They rode through the desert in silence, stopping when they sighted the houselights in the distance. Cas looked to Dean. "What's the plan?"
Dean pulled out the corner of an envelope. "I got a warrant right here."
"He's not alone," Cas said, hearing voices within the house, "And you're just gonna walk in there."
"That is my aim, yes."
"You do this a lot, looking for trouble?"
Dean smiled and dismounted. "Stay here with the horses. We're done here, I'll buy you another drink," he said, a smile climbing up one side of his face, "And I'll tell you all about it."
Dogs started barking, and Crowley looked up from his poker hand. He set it aside and plucked his gun from the table, thumb on the hammer. "Someone go see who it is."
A flunkie toed open the door, squinting into the dark with his shotgun at eye-level. A few horses snuffled at the grass, dead leaves whipping round his shoes. He stepped outside and listened.
"There ain't nobody-" he said, cut off as a red circle appeared between his eyes and he fell to the ground. The other men stood up so fast they knocked back their chairs, but Crowley remained in place, one eyebrow raised a fraction of an inch.
He looked up, his gun barrel tracking something on the roof. "Go around back," he whispered, "And somebody drag in the body, before he bleeds all over my roses."
Castiel sat behind a tree, fiddling with the brim of his hat when he heard the first shot and bolted upright. "Dean..."
Dean managed to take down three more men when a roof beam collapsed beneath his weight, and he slid down, his gun clattering out of reach. He heard the click of a gun reloading.
"Detective," said Crowley, shotgun resting against his shoulder, "We meet again."
Dean panted for breath, spread-eagled on the ground with a broken ankle. "I have...a warrant," he said, biting out each word, "For your arrest. You have...the right..."
Crowley tutted and pressed a foot to Dean's ankle. "I'm sorry," he said, as Dean howled in pain, "I didn't get that, could you repeat it?"
The side of the house exploded in a cloud of plaster dust, six inches from where Crowley stood, and he whipped around. "Okay, okay," he whispered to himself, reaching in his jacket for something, "Wanna play dirty?"
He yanked the pin from the grenade and tossed in the direction the shot had been fired. It was the old Russian model, a mixture of shrapnel and chemicals that fogged the air so the enemy would be unable to navigate easily. He covered his ears, and after a few seconds opened his eyes.
Silence hung over the field, the moon a pale ghost in the haze. Then, slowly, his hearing returned with the clop of horse hooves.
"Who the hell...?"
He backed away, his gun pointed forward but shaking now. The sound grew louder, echoing in the valley until it seemed a herd must be passing through. He thought it might be one of his own animals, got spooked and jumped a fence at all the noise, until Crowley saw him. Castiel emerged from the black smoke, reins between his teeth and a sawed-off shotgun aimed at Crowley's heart, and Dean laughed aloud until he heard something small hit the ground near him.
Crowley looked Castiel up and down, his scuffed boots and threadbare clothes, and his lip curled. "Please. I got only one use for your type," he said, not noticing the shadow behind him, "And I already boiled them down for soap."
His finger was on the trigger when he pitched forward, blood welling on the back of his head and Dean standing there, his face shiny with sweat. Cas dismounted on one foot and stowed the shotgun on his back in one motion, leaping forward to catch Dean as he fell. "Can you walk?"
"I'm fine, just..."
Dean swallowed, but before he could continue Cas lifted him in his arms. Dean flushed, their faces inches apart, and he barely caught the other man's words before his mouth pressed against his.
"So how 'bout that drink?"