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Ghost Dance

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In the beginning, it becomes aware of light.

It doesn't like the light, but sometimes the light isn't there. Those are better times.

Sometimes the light is there, but shadows move around within it. The shadows are easier to look at than the light, so it watches them for a while... until it forgets what it was doing and why.

In the end, always, the light scares it again. Then it remembers the safety of shadows, at least for a little while.

It likes the darkness.

"...taxo... git... ...p nn..., dea..."

One of the shadows is making a noise. So it really looks at this shadow and sees a face, the face of a man with dark hair. The face comes very close and fills up its vision so that it can't just forget this shadow like it does the others.

"... bork ta... sigi..., dean," the face says. "cu... on, dean, yeroo lie k'da dorka..."

It thinks then that the name for the thing thinking these thoughts has to be 'Dean'. Because that seems right, seems like it belongs to it, to him. The face says 'Dean' a lot to him. It feels good to remember that he has a name. He'd forgotten that things have names, but now he knows. He has a name, so he is a thing, not just thoughts in a... in another thing.

He is a someone.

The man is making Dean move again. The man does that a lot; Dean never seems to be where the man wants him to be. They have three rooms: the big room with the bed and the man's sitting place; the smaller room where the man makes things hot; and the even smaller room with the cold, white things in it.

Sometimes, like today, the man wants Dean to move to the smallest room. This is where he takes off Dean's... coverings? No, clothes. The man takes off Dean's clothes and makes Dean sit in warm stuff-- water -- in the biggest white thing.

'Tub' -- that's what the big white thing is called. Dean's taking a 'bath' in the 'tub'. He smiles at the man, happy to remember all those words, words he now realizes the man has been saying to him a lot during these getting-wet times. Bath times.

The man rubs Dean all over with a wet, slippery cloth. He always does this. It's one of the things he does to Dean, just like putting things into Dean's mouth and making him chew and swallow. Sometimes those things taste nice, and sometimes they don't, but they didn't used to taste like anything at all, so things are changing.

Dean didn't used to really feel it when the man rubbed him clean either, but now he does. The cloth is rough against his skin, but the man's touch is gentle. Dean likes bath-times.

There's a part of Dean's body that he especially likes the man to rub clean, but he can't remember what it's called. When the man touches him there today, Dean puts his hands over the man's hands and tries to hold them in place. He tries really hard, but the man is stronger than Dean. He pulls his hands away as easily as if Dean wasn't holding him down at all.

"No, Dean," the man says. "I carn takavil tagu dat wee."

Dean still doesn't understand a lot of what the man says, but he's learning to recognize the word 'no' just fine.

Dean has remembered that what he's eating is called 'pizza'. It's good to know the right words. He's not a... not a kid and shouldn't have to use made-up names for things.

Dean remembers a kid sometimes -- a boy with a cute nose and hair that flops over his face. The boy's the most beautiful thing Dean can remember. He smiles to himself when he remembers the boy, and he wishes he could tell the man about the boy. He still can't remember how to speak though. He knows he knew once, but now... Now is just now. Nothing more. Maybe he'll remember how to speak in another 'now'.

The man has started touching Dean in a new way, a way that isn't feeding or cleaning or helping him remember how to pee.

He makes Dean get almost naked, keeping only the clothing that covers that nice body part Dean's forgotten the name of, and then he makes Dean lie down on his front on the big drying cloth on the floor.

The man puts slippery stuff on Dean's back and rubs it in firmly, all over Dean. He makes Dean turn over after a while so his front can be done too. Dean likes this new touching a lot; it makes him feel all kinds of nice. He can't help wishing it included touching that part of him still under cloth, though.

"More," he says, before he remembers he doesn't know how to speak.

The man looks up, his eyes wide, and he smiles at Dean. Dean doesn't think he's seen the man smile before, but he likes it. The man seems happy. "Ya din sa wel, Dean," he says and keeps smiling.

Dean smiles back and says, "more," again, feeling pleased with himself. He's finding he likes making the man smile almost as much as he likes the man to touch him. "More, please."

The man smiles even wider and starts touching Dean again, smoothing the slippery stuff all down Dean's legs.

Now Dean can say two words, so there's no reason at all he can't say all the other words he knows. "More touch," he tells the man, trying out some of them. "Hungry, please." He points to the part of him that he's forgotten the name of. "More, here, please. Touch Dean."

The man's smile fades, and he shakes his head. "I can't, Dean. I'm sorry. It wodnbee right."

Dean understands nearly all of that and knows it's just a longer way of saying 'no'. "Please, man," he says, wishing he knew the man's name. He knows now that the man has a name, that, like Dean, he's a someone. Dean thinks he did know the name once. "Please touch Dean here, man."

"Angel," the man says, and it's a correction, and suddenly the room turns very cold. "I'm an angel, not a man."

Dean shivers, turning away from the man and curling up tight. He can hear the man saying "sorry, sorry, sorry..." like it's the only word he knows, but Dean pretends he can't hear him. He pretends so hard that, eventually, he can't.

He doesn't hear him for many days, and even when he does hear the man again, Dean refuses to speak. He knows the man wants him to, but he's angry with the man, so he won't. He pretends he's forgotten how to do everything all over again so that the man has to do it all.

Then, one day, the man gives him something to eat that's crumbly on the outside and red and sour and sweet on the inside. It's the best thing Dean has ever tasted, and before he can remember he isn't supposed to, he says, "More."

The smile the man gives him then makes Dean wonder why not talking had seemed like such a good idea.

Dean has started following the man with his gaze at all times when he's awake. He no longer just waits for the man to tend to him, but demands attention with words and wordless noise and by getting up and standing right in front of the man until the man gives Dean whatever it is he wants.

Every time Dean uses a new word, the man smiles, at least a little, and sometimes he touches Dean too. Sometimes he grips Dean's shoulder, and other times he puts his hand on Dean's chest and just stands there, doing that and smiling his small smiles. Dean really likes making the man happy, so he tries to remember as many words as he can. They have to be real words though. He's tried using made-up ones, and they don't have the same smile-making magic at all.

Today, Dean has managed to remember three new words all at once, and the man is standing close, touching his chest and saying how pleased he is. Dean feels proud and hugs the man, who lets himself be hugged, but only seems to remember to hug back just as Dean is drawing away. Dean stops, halfway between a hug and a not-hug, and that's when it happens. He finds that if he looks at the man in a certain way, a different way, he can see that the man has wings. Once he's sure that he's really seeing them, Dean screams.

He doesn't stop screaming for a very long time.

The wings don't go away.

They're always there when Dean looks at the man now. He doesn't seem to be able to stop looking in that way anymore. The man seems really unhappy, even now that Dean's stopped the screaming. He talks, over and over and over, about how he'll never hurt Dean, how Dean is safe.

It takes a while, lots of days, but Dean makes himself stop looking away whenever the man speaks, stop cringing whenever the man's close. Dean learns to pretend he doesn't see the wings and just looks at the man's face. The man seems happier almost immediately, so Dean knows he's doing the right thing.

The wings aren't dangerous, anyway. Some wings are safe. These wings.

One day, the man makes Dean put on more clothes than normal. It takes a long time because Dean knows that more clothes will make him hot, and he doesn't want to be hot. "No," he says and folds his arms. "No clothes."

But the man looks sad and says, "Please, Dean," and a lot of other things Dean still doesn't understand. So in the end he lets the man dress him.

The man takes him outside the house. Dean didn't know the house had an outside, and he doesn't like it at all. It's too big and too bright, and it smells all wrong. He clings to the man, saying, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no..."

The man takes him back inside.

The man is drawing on the walls again. He does that a lot, but he never draws anything new. He just paints over his old pictures, again and again.

He uses his own blood to do the drawing, which Dean finds very interesting. He watches the man cut his arm with a silver knife so that the blood bubbles out. It's so red. Dean has red blood too; he's seen it on tissue paper when Dean moves too much while the man is shaving him, but the man has a lot more blood than that. Dean tries to touch the blood coming out of the man's arm, but the man pushes him gently away.

Dean follows the man around the walls, and when the man isn't looking, Dean dabs his finger on the wet drawing and then tastes the blood. It's salty.

The man sees Dean sucking his finger and gets angry. He tells Dean to go and sit down, that he mustn't touch the drawings ever, that the drawings keep out the bad things and a lot of other stuff Dean doesn't understand at all. It doesn't matter; he understood enough. There are bad things out there that want to get Dean. Only the man and his blood are keeping Dean safe.

Dean sits on the bed and pulls his legs in to his chest. He starts to rock. After a while, the man finishes doing his drawings, and he makes the cut on his arm go away. He sits down beside Dean and tries to talk to him, but Dean can't hear the words anymore. He's too busy listening for the bad things. He thinks they're all out there, outside the house, just waiting for the drawings to break. Then they'll swoop in and carry Dean away to eat him whole. Dean doesn't want to be eaten whole.

Not again.

The man is trying to take Dean outside again. Dean's not sure how many days it's been since the last time, but he thinks 'lots' will cover it. The man tries very hard to get Dean to put on his stupid 'outdoor' clothes, and Dean can't make him stop trying, no matter how much he folds his arms and says 'no'. So Dean takes all his clothes off instead and sits down on the floor, refusing to move, and the man sighs heavily.

The man opens the door to outside and leaves it open when he goes out. Dean whimpers, thinking the bad things will come in now.

They don't.

Dean crawls naked to the doorway and peeps out. The man is sitting on the step just outside the door. Most of the light has gone away from outside, and Dean likes that much better than before, even though it's colder now, but he's still scared.

"Where bad things?" he asks the man in a harsh whisper.

The man twists around and looks at Dean carefully. Then he nods. "They're much further away, Dean, and they can't see us. We're safe here. I've made and buried powerful magic all around our..."

Dean stops listening. The important thing is that the bad things are far away and don't know where Dean is. He crawls back inside and puts his clothes back on. He puts his outside clothes on too and then goes to sit by the man on the step, wrapping both of his arms around the man's nearest one.

He can hear running water gurgling close by, and the creaks and groans of the windmill are much louder out here than they are inside. He doesn't really know what a 'windmill' is, only that it's one of the friendly monsters that make the lights and the oven work inside the house. The man told him that one night, when there was something called a 'storm', and the windmill groaned so loud that Dean got scared it was trying to come inside.

After a little while, the man stands, so Dean does too. Together they walk deeper into the outside. The man frees his arm and puts it tight around Dean instead, which makes Dean feel safer. Whenever anything is a little scary, Dean turns towards the man and holds onto his coat tightly until whatever it is stops being scary.

The man shows things to Dean and gives him back the words for them: tree, mountain, river, moon, stars... The moon is like the sun only Dean can look at it without it hurting. It gives enough light for Dean to kind of see the things the man is teaching him. Anyway, Dean remembers them. He's told the word 'tree' and touches the hard, rough skin it has, and he remembers trees, all kinds of them.

Dean remembers all by himself that the darkness is called night, and when he says proudly, "This is night," the man's face is full of smile.

Making the man happy makes Dean happy. He holds the man close, saying, "Night, night, night, tree, river, night..." and doing a jumping, bouncing dance, until the man laughs a little, rubbing Dean's back.

Dean decides he likes the night. It belongs to him, he thinks, like his name belongs and like the man does. Outside doesn't smell wrong in the night.

Dean's tired when he finally goes back inside, so he lays down on the bed.

He soon finds himself somewhere else outside, and it's not night anymore, but for some reason, he's not scared by the sun. He's sitting by water, which is like the river only it doesn't move so much. He has a long pole in his hands. He knows he's been here before, many times.

The man appears, standing beside Dean, and he seems really upset, but Dean doesn't think it's with him. The man gives Dean a small white thing before vanishing again, and Dean fills up with fear because he knows, somehow, that this means the man is gone for good, that they have got the man and won't give him back to Dean.

Dean wakes up weeping.

Only the man is still there, holding Dean and half-patting, half-stroking his hair, and Dean remembers the word 'dream'. Dean has been dreaming.

The man is still his.

One day, in the bath, Dean remembers the word 'dick'. This makes him very happy indeed, and so he says it a lot, and the man seems to be trying not to smile, but he's not very good at it. The smile just won't stop coming out.

The man doesn't wash Dean these days; he kneels at the side of the bath and helps Dean wash himself. But Dean takes the man's hand now and tugs it lower, announcing, "Man touch Dean's dick."

The man says, "No," and sighs. He looks sad as he pulls his hand away from Dean's and stands up, stepping away from the bath. His wings are pulled in tight to his body, and Dean has learned to understand that this means the man has lost his happy. The man says other stuff too, and Dean even understands some of it. Something about Dean not really being Dean, and if Dean were really Dean, he probably wouldn't want the man to touch him.

How can Dean be Dean and not-Dean at the same time? That makes no sense at all, so he ignores it.

The man stares down at Dean, and for the first time, Dean realizes the man's eyes are 'blue'. It's a good word. They are good eyes. Dean stares into them and wonders if his own eyes have a color, and if they do, what color? The man licks his lower lip, kind of sucking it into his mouth a little afterward. Dean watches that and then bites his own lower lip.

His dick twitches. It does that sometimes, but today he moves his hands down to touch it. Dean doesn't need the man to wash him anymore, so maybe he doesn't need the man to do this, either. He picks up the soap and makes his dick slippery so that he can give it a good wash even though he's washed it once already. He doesn't think he knows another way of touching it.

The rubbing feels good, and his dick starts to grow in his hands. He thinks he was expecting it to, though he doesn't know why exactly. It's never done that before, has it? But it keeps doing it, getting bigger and harder, and Dean remembers the word 'awesome', so he says it. He wraps his fingers around his dick and feels its weight and hardness, and his hand just seems to know what to do, rubbing slickly up and down and kind of pulling. Dean lets it happen and says 'awesome' again because it is. It really, really is.

Then he says, "More, please," and because he's been a good Dean, he gives himself what he's asked for. Lots more. There's a heat inside his belly, low down, and it's getting hotter.

The man stands still near the sink and stares at Dean, and Dean stares back. He doesn't want to make the man unhappy, but the man doesn't seem unhappy anymore. The man seems ... like nothing. He has no kind of face on. Not a happy one, not a sad one, not an angry one. So Dean keeps staring and keeps pulling on himself in a way he knows he's got to have done hundreds of times before even if he can't remember it. It feels more familiar then almost anything except eating, drinking, pissing and pooping, so he has to have done it.

He leans back against the cold bit of the tub, the bit not covered in water. "Look," he tells the man. "Look at Dean."

The man's lips twitch, and the muscles in his forehead bunch, but all he says is, "You're doing really well with sentences now, but maybe you could stop referring to yourself in the third person."

Dean doesn't understand, but the man looks where Dean wants him to and doesn't look away, so Dean's happy enough.

The top of Dean's dick is all firm and shiny now. He sees that when he stops to get more soap. "Pretty," he says to the man, and he thinks the man maybe nods a little. Just a very little.

Dean starts rubbing again, and soon his breathing has gotten all wrong-but-right, and he's making all sorts of interesting noises, and the water's splashing where his hand keeps dipping into it and pulling out. "Man touch Dean now," he says hopefully, but the man shakes his head.

"I can't," the man says softly. "I'm sorry, Dean. It would be wrong to take advantage. I wouldn't even be in here while you... while you do that if I could feel sure you'd be safe on your own."

Dean knows all those words but one. He doesn't know what 'advantage' is and doesn't much care. "Please," he begs, tensing his legs and shoulders and pushing his hips up so that the man can see better. Maybe the man doesn't realize how badly Dean needs his help. "Please. Man touch Dean, please, more, please, hungry, need man, please... ple... plea... Ah, please."

"Dean," the man says, whispers, but he says nothing more. It doesn't matter because he still doesn't look away from Dean's hand, and he licks his lips again and swallows, and Dean likes seeing that.

Something is happening inside Dean.

His eyes are going funny, and all that he can really see is the man staring down at Dean's hand and Dean's dick. The rest of the room has burned away somehow, and the fire that did that seems to have also made the man all hot 'cause his cheeks are red. And Dean's body is all stiff and tense everywhere, and there's something making a pounding noise in his chest, and he thinks it's maybe the fire in his belly that burned away the room 'cause now it surges up and up and up, and Dean forgets how to breathe, and his body kind of curls, and his dick starts spitting out white spit that doesn't look like fire, but he thinks that maybe it is all the same because it feels so good getting rid of it, so right, so... awesome...

After all the spitting and shaking and funny noises are done with, Dean lays back in the cooling water and grins up at the man. The man is still staring, his mouth half-open and his breath a little weird, like the wrong-but-right breath Dean was just doing, only not so much of it. Dean looks at him and says, 'Cas,' because that's the man's name.

The man, Cas, staggers closer to the bath, his gaze finally lifting back to Dean's face. "What was that, Dean? What did you just say?"

"Cas," Dean repeats and laughs when Cas falls to his knees by the bath, looking almost as happy as Dean feels right now. "Cas. Angel." And Dean can say that word now, can hear it, because Cas is a good angel, just like his wings are good wings.

"That's right," Cas says, reaching out to touch Dean's face and looking like he can't really believe Dean remembered. "Castiel, Cas -- that's me. I'm an angel."

"Dean's angel," Dean says because he knows it's true.

"Yes." Cas nods seriously. "Your angel."

"Angels are dicks," Dean says, and he laughs and laughs and laughs.