Chapter 1: Prologue
There’s no body.
There’s only a memorial. An empty tomb with the pictures of the dead soldiers set up along its top. Some pictures are decorated with flowers, others with small personal items, others sit alone. John Winchester’s picture sits farthest to the right, two different flowers placed carefully in front of it.
Dean Winchester stands in front of it, taking a deep, shaky breath as he looks down, the picture of his father blurring from the tears in his eyes. He reaches out a trembling hand, placing a third flower next to it. He hangs his head, closing his eyes tightly, trying to remember how to breathe. After a few seconds, he feels a hand on his shoulder, and he looks up tiredly, meeting Bobby’s eyes.
“Come on, son,” he says quietly, leading Dean over to sit down in the front row
The service is very short and impersonal, but Dean doesn’t make it two minutes. He’s up before they’ve even mentioned his father’s name, walking fast with determination. He doesn’t know where he’s going, but he knows he has to get far away. As far as he can.
He makes it about six blocks down the sidewalk before he’s collapsing onto a bench, putting his face in his hands and sobbing violently.
It’s just not fair.
It’s not fair that that bomb had to hit John’s base.
Dean rubs a hand roughly into his eye, wiping at the tears that seem endless.
It takes a while for the sobs to stop, but eventually he just sits on the bench and stares forward, eyes looking but not seeing. He’s starting to feel numb, and there he goes, back and forth on the rollercoaster of emotions he’s been stuck on the past few days.
Dean isn’t sure how long he sits there, feeling distant from the world, but at some point, a hand on his shoulder breaks through his muddled thoughts. Sam stands over him, his eyes and nose both red and irritated. Dean bites his lip, swallowing hard, and feels a small pang of guilt. He shouldn’t have left Sam like that. Sam needs him, and to be honest, he needs Sam.
Dean stands up, walking around the side of the bench. He embraces his brother in a tight hug, holding him close. Sam buries his face in Dean’s chest, crying silently.
“It’s gonna be okay, Sammy,” he whispers, kissing the top of his brother’s head.
After a moment, Sam pulls back slightly, sniffling. “I know it will.” He pauses, then looks up. “Do you, Dean?”
Dean laughs humorlessly, shaking his head. “I wish I did.”
Castiel rouses, shifting his weight against Anna. He’d fallen asleep in his sister’s lap on the couch, drifting off as they waited for their parents and Michael to get back from the hospital. Cas sighs, sitting up and rubbing his tired face.
Anna smiles tiredly at him. “How you doing, sleepyhead?”
Cas yawns, resting his head on her shoulder. “Still tired,” he sighs. “What time is it?”
“It’s almost eleven-thirty,” Anna replies, reaching up to stroke Cas’s hair.
Cas groans quietly. “When are Mommy and Daddy going to be back?”
Anna chews on her lip for a second. “I don’t know, Cas. Soon, I hope.”
Cas looks down, nodding slightly.
“It’ll be alright, bud,” Anna says, hugging him. “I promise.”
Before either of them can say another word, the phone rings, and Castiel is crawling off of Anna, allowing her to get up and race into the kitchen to answer it.
“H – Hello? Yeah – hi, Mom. What’s – what’s going on? How is he?”
Cas peaks through the doorway, keeping his hands against the wooden frame as he watches Anna carefully. She’s pacing around, chewing on her cheek as she listens to her mother speak. She nods a little to herself, going pale. Her eyes glaze over and her lips tremble.
“A brain scan?” she asks. “Well, they don’t think they’re going to find anything do – “
Her eyes widen, her mouth falling slightly open.
“Oh. I – okay. Well, I hope – “
Anna presses her lips together, and a few tears begin to fall down her cheeks.
“He – he just woke up, but yeah, I’ll – I’ll try to get him to bed. Is – is Dad staying there or - ? Okay, yeah. Tell him I love him, please. No, honestly, we’re fine, Mom. No, I – I’ll get Cas to bed, don’t worry. Mom, Dad needs you. Please. Just go.”
She’s crying now, her shoulders shaking as she tries desperately to stop. “I love you too, Mom,” she manages to choke out before hanging up. She places the phone down on the counter, her whole body beginning to shake. Castiel watches in horror and confusion as Anna sobs, bringing a hand up to cover her face.
“Damn it,” she hisses. “Why? Why is this happening? Please. Dad – he doesn’t deserve - how’s Michael going to go to college? And – and Cas – he’s – he’s eight. Please, God. Please, just help us.” Anna wraps her arms around herself, hanging her head as she continues to cry for another minute. What feels like an eternity later, she lifts her head up, sniffling and wiping her nose. She turns to the doorway, seeing Castiel.
“Anna?” he asks softly.
She moves forward, dropping to her knees so she can match his height. “Yes, Cas?” she asks, her voice still thick with tears.
“Is Dad going to be okay?” Cas asks, twisting his fingers together.
Anna reaches out, pulling them apart and taking Castiel’s hands in hers. “Oh, I hope so, Cas. I really hope so.”
Dean sits on the hood of his Impala, knees pulled up to his chest and a beer bottle hanging loosely between his fingers. He’s been out here for hours now, watching uninterested as the sun lowered in the sky. It’s setting now, letting the night sky take its reign. Footsteps crackle somewhere off to Dean’s right, and soon enough, Sam is hopping up onto the car next to Dean.
“Bobby know you’re drinking that?”
Dean shrugs, taking a swig. “I’m sure,” he says dryly. “It’s not really a secret to him that I drink, Sammy.” Sam nods, biting his lip. “You look scared,” Dean remarks, smirking slightly. “What’s wrong?”
Sam shakes his head, looking down.
“Come on, Sam,” Dean says, nudging his shoulder. “Just tell me.” He nudges again, and again. “Come on, Sammyyyyy.”
“Dean, stop,” Sam says sharply. “You’re drunk. Stop.”
“Whoa, you’re mad,” Dean says, eyes widening.
Sam gives himself a small shake, scooting away from his brother. “Yeah,” he says tiredly. “I am.”
Dean blinks. “Why?”
“Because,” Sam says, frustrated. “Because, Dean - ” he breaks off, swallowing hard and blinking at the tears in his eyes. “Dad’s dead and everything sucks and I need you. But . . . you’re not you anymore. Dean, I just – I want my brother back.”
Dean stares at him for a long moment, eyebrows creased together. But not even Sam’s tears are enough to shake him out of this.
“Oh, Sammy,” he says, hanging his head. He laughs bitterly. “This is me now,” he says quietly. “I just can’t deal with things the way I used to.”
“So you’re just going to give up?” Sam asks, sniffling. He looks up at his brother desperately, looks for any familiarity in his eyes, but they’re glazed over with intoxication.
Dean nods. “I’m just too tired. I can’t fight anymore.”
Cas has known what the word means since he was very young, but now he’s not quite sure he understands it. He always thought that someone died quickly, in an instant, fast and irreversible. He never knew someone could die slowly, wasting away like his father is.
His father spends most of his time in bed now, only getting up if he needs to use the bathroom or vomit. He goes to the hospital every few weeks, and soon enough, his hair starts falling out in clumps on his pillows until he decides to have Mom shave it all off one day.
It’s harder for Cas to spend time with him now, which only makes everything else worse. Dad is tired a lot, and Mom tells Castiel that he must stay out of the bedroom – Daddy needs his rest. Cas listens of course, but it doesn’t make him any less upset. He’s young, but he’s old enough to see what’s coming for his father. He understands that he might not have all of the time in the world anymore, and it makes Cas anxious to see him.
When Cas does spend time with him, it’s quiet. He reads to his dad, or they watch some of their favorite movies together. Dad will smile most of the time, but Cas knows he’s sad when he looks the other way. Sometimes, when Cas is really distraught, and his father has enough energy, Cas will sleep with him, curled up tight to his father’s side.
For awhile, it seems like things might be getting better. It seems like life is blossoming back in his father’s eyes, but the happiness is short-lived when on one morning, Castiel enters his father’s room to wish him goodbye before going to school. Dad stares at him for a moment, confused, and says hoarsely,
“Who are you?”
Everyone freezes for a moment, and then Mom is leaning close to Dad, talking in a low voice.
“Castiel,” she says. “It’s Castiel – your son?”
There’s no look of recollection in his father’s eyes and before Cas can even begin to understand what’s happen, Anna’s pulling him back. She drags him across the house and pushes him out the door, bringing him to the car. He fights, kicking and screaming.
“Anna, what’s wrong with Dad? Anna, why doesn’t he recognize me? Anna, please – just tell me what’s going on.”
She shoves him in the backseat of the car before getting in the driver’s seat and pressing down hard on the gas. However, she doesn’t take him to school. They drive for what feels like hours until they reach a small ice cream shop. They order ice cream, but don’t eat it. They go to the park, but neither of them play. Neither of them knows what to do but wait. Wait until their mother calls. Wait until their father is stable again. Wait until this is all over.
But it never is.
Not in the way they want it.
He’s standing in the doorway of his bedroom, now bare and empty. He looks around again, trying to take it all in. He’s had his own room at Bobby’s since he was around four years old. To see it all packed up, the walls free of posters and the floor finally clean for once – it’s strange.
“Come on, Dean,” Sam says. “We have to go.”
Dean turns slowly, eyes grazing over every last detail. “Yeah, I – I’ll be right there.” He heaves a sigh, not wanting to tear his eyes away, but a gentle hand on his arm get his attention. He turns, glancing at Sam and swallowing hard.
“Don’t worry,” Sam says. “Pontiac’s going to be great, Dean.”
Dean nods, breathing deep.
“It’s a fresh start,” Sam continues. “And I think it’s really what we need.”
Dean doesn’t respond. He simply follows after Sam, walking through the deserted house. They make their way out into the driveway, where Bobby’s truck sits, full to the brim with furniture and boxes. Dean’s Impala is parked next to it, the trunk still open. Dean walks over and admires his things for a second before shutting it.
“You ready, son?” Bobby asks, his feet crunching against the gravel. “It’s a long drive.”
Dean nods, biting his lip. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“What do you mean he’s not coming back?” Castiel’s face falls, his shoulders slumping.
“Cas, Dad’s – he – “ Michael tries helplessly, but Cas interrupts him.
“He’s not just going to leave us, is he? He can’t. He can’t leave me.” His expression crumples and he leans forward, putting his face in his hands.
“Cas, I’m so sorry,” Michael sighs, resting a hand on Cas’s back. He looks over to Anna, biting his lip.
“Cas?” she asks softly. “ Castiel?” He lets out a sob in return, and she moves forward, opening up her arms. “ Oh, God – come here. Come here, Cas.”
He buries his fast in her chest, hugging her tight.
Pontiac isn’t bad, but it really makes no difference. Sure, they’ve got a new place, a new school, a new chance. It’s a new beginning, an opportunity to move on and get happy.
But at the end of the day, Dean’s still an orphan and life still isn’t fair.
He really doesn’t see why this new town would change it anyway.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
Dean loathes being the new kid.
Before John was sent to Afghanistan, he’d been stationed at other bases all around the country. Dean and Sam had transferred from school to school to school until he left, when Dean was allowed some stability to complete his freshman and sophomore years of high school.
What’s worse is transferring in the middle of the year. It’s October, which means most of the students who were new at the beginning of the year have had time to adjust, and Dean can’t simply blend in with them. Normally, Dean would use standing out to his advantage and create a desirable appearance for himself in order to pick up girls, but he’s too worn out now. Girls can’t fill this emptiness inside him.
And so after getting his schedule from the office, Dean walks quietly down the halls, ignoring the people who look at him and blocking out the whispers from his mind. His first class is English IV, in room B104, and judging by the rooms he’s walking by – F112, F113 – it’s probably on the other side of the school. With a sigh, Dean readjusts the strap on his bag and continues forward.
Despite his worrying, Dean makes it to class well before the bell rings. The teacher isn’t there when he walks in, so Dean figures he doesn’t have to wait around for the whole “this is our new student” ordeal. Instead, he makes his way to the back of the classroom, choosing a desk well in the last row. He slides his bag off his shoulder, dropping it to the ground before collapsing into his seat.
Not two seconds after he sits down do the girls to his right look over at him, smiling and giggling. They look to each other, exchanging a few whispers. Dean refrains from rolling his eyes and instead, flashes them a smirk. They smile back, and one of them gives a small wave. Taking Dean’s acknowledgement as an invitation, they make their way over to him.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you before,” one of them says. “You must be new.”
She has a striking British accent, and Dean blinks, a little surprised. “What about you?” Dean asks. “You don’t sound like you’re from around here.”
“I transferred here my freshman year,” she explains. “My father’s a corporation owner and he extended a branch to Chicago a few years back.”
Dean nods, still smirking.
“What about you, darling?” she asks, leaning over Dean’s desk, subtly showing her cleavage. “Where did you come from?”
“Kansas,” Dean replies. “We figured it was just time for a change.”
The girl raises an eyebrow. “A change, huh? Do you transfer schools a lot?”
“I have,” Dean says, nodding. “My Dad was in the army.”
“Hmmm,” the girl replies, though Dean’s not sure if that’s good or bad. She’s probably not even listening; she appears more to simply be undressing Dean with her eyes. “I’m Bela, by the way,” she says quietly, straightening up. “Bela Talbot.”
“Dean Winchester,” he says.
“Well, Dean Winchester, why don’t you back off of my girl?”
A blond guy in a letterman’s jacket stands over Dean, eyes narrowed.
“Excuse me?” Dean asks, raising his eyebrows. “I was just introducing myself. Is that a problem?”
“It’s a problem when you’re trying to eye-fuck her,” the guy replies.
“Luce, it’s fine,” Bela says, reaching out to touch his shoulder. “We were just talking.”
“You were just talking,” he says, looking down at her. “But not Winchester, here.” He glares at Dean pointedly.
“Alright look, Luce,” Dean says, standing up.
“It’s Lucifer to you,” he says, grinding his teeth together.
“Right,” Dean says, nodding. “I’m not going to move in on Bela, okay? And it’s not my fault if she’s shoving her boobs in my face.” He holds out his hands and shrugs, pressing his lips together.
Bela’s jaw drops, and Lucifer’s eyes blaze with anger. People are turning around now, watching in silent shock. Lucifer steps forward, shoving his face close to Dean’s. He brings up a hand, pointing a finger. “You better watch your mouth,” he says, poking hard at Dean’s chest. “Or I’ll silence you myself.”
Dean rolls his eyes, shaking his head. He takes a step back, pushing Lucifer off of him. “You know what?” he says. “I don’t need this. I came here just wanting to blend into the background, and I’d appreciate if you left me there. I have enough going on without your idiocy.”
Lucifer’s about to take a swing when an authoritative voice cuts over them.
“Boys, that’s enough!”
They look up as a man walks over to the teacher’s desk, pulling off his satchel. “Lucifer, take a seat, and – “ He blinks curiously for a few seconds before understanding dawns on his face. “And you must be Mr. Winchester. Dean, is it?”
Dean nods. “Yes, sir.”
“Well, that’s quite the first impression you’re making.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Dean says. “I didn’t know Lucifer would be so . . . responsive.”
“Ah, so you’re just naturally aggravating,” his teacher replies, smirking.
Dean tries to hide his own smile. “That would seem to be the case.”
“Well, I’m in for a treat then, aren’t I? I’m Mr. Wyatt, by the way,” he says.
“It’s nice to meet you, sir,” Dean says, then blinks when he realizes how awkward he sounds.
Mr. Wyatt laughs. “Likewise, Mr. Winchester. You may take a seat now.”
Dean obliges and breathes a sigh of relief. He’s gone from impassive to pissed off to hopeful in a matter of minutes. Class has barely started and already he’s looking forward to the day being over. Dean sighs and hunches over in his seat, letting a familiar frown take over his face.
He promised himself he wasn’t going to cause trouble. He doesn’t want to stand out. He can’t afford to. He can’t have a social life in this state; it’s only going to make things harder. Dean swallows hard, pushing back the feelings that always seem to want to drown him lately. He gives himself a shake before looking back to Mr. Wyatt, but something in the corner of his vision catches his eye.
There’s a kid staring at him, his blue eyes wide with curiousity. As soon as Dean meets his gaze, he looks away, hanging his head.
As if dealing with Lucifer’s threats weren’t enough, Bela corners him after class.
“I can’t believe you threw me under the bus like that,” she hisses, pinning him against the wall with her pointed glare and rigid body.
“Me?” Dean asks disbelievingly. “You let your oaf of a boyfriend threaten me because I told you my name.”
“You were flirting with me,” Bela points out.
“You were flirting with me,” Dean retorts, incredulous. “And I had no idea you had a boyfriend.”
Bela clenches her teeth together.
“Do you normally sleep around with other guys behind his back?” Dean asks, raising an eyebrow. “Or am I just a special case?”
Bela steps back. “You’re nothing special,” she says simply.
“That’s not what you thought when you first saw me,” Dean teases, moving away from the wall. “I wasn’t the one doing the eye-fucking there.”
“You’re so delusional,” Bela says, rolling her eyes. “I would never even bother giving you the time of day.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Dean says with a smirk.
It’s Bela’s turn to roll her eyes. “I sleep just fine, thank you very much, but I don’t know about you. Especially now that you’ve got Lucifer watching your every move.” She flashes him a haughty grin before turning on her heel and walking away.
Dean’s heart sinks. He’d almost forgotten about that – what with that kid staring at him so intently. He’d spent the rest of class going back and forth between listening to Mr. Wyatt and looking over at the guy, trying to figure out what he was so interested in. Dean gives himself a shake and continues walking down the hall. It shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t. Dean’s not looking to make friends, because either way – he’s given up.
He’d just end up losing them.
The lunchroom is packed, and near the center of the room, Dean can see Lucifer. He turns out of the doorway, deciding against it. He’s not hungry. He hasn’t really had an appetite since – and anyway, he really doesn’t want to have to deal with Lucifer anymore today. He’s had enough of that jerk, and he’d lose his patience.
Alternatively, Dean decides to head out to the back of the school. There’s a huge courtyard back there with picnic tables, trees, and a huge, center garden. It’s nice, quiet, peaceful, and it’s exactly what Dean needs right now. Holding onto the strap of his bag for safety, he opens the door and steps into the crisp, fall air.
A breeze hits his face, tickling his hair. Leaves pick up of the ground moving just a few feet. The sun beams down on him, unnaturally bright and warm for October. He walks around, letting his eyes trail over the view of the courtyard – the wilting grass, the red and orange and yellow leaves, the blossoming rainbow of flowers in the garden, the distant view of the athletic field, the bright blue of the sky. It’s a beautiful day, and for just a moment, Dean feels worry-free.
With a sigh of contentment, Dean lets his feet carry him over to one of the picnic tables that’s just under the shade of a maple. He’s about to take a seat when he freezes, eyes being drawn to just around the corner of the tree. A person sits, back against the trunk and a book in his lap.
“It’s you,” Dean blurts out, stepping over to him.
The stranger looks up with a questioning glance.
“You were watching me in English today,” Dean continues.
The stranger smiles. “I think everyone was watching you, Dean. You get into a fight with Lucifer Harrison and that tends to happen.”
Dean blinks, not quite sure what to say.
“I’m Castiel,” the stranger says. “Castiel Milton.”
“And you already know who I am,” Dean says bitterly.
Castiel laughs slightly, nodding once. “What are you doing out here?” he asks.
Taking a deep breath, Dean sits down on the edge of the picnic table, facing Castiel. “Avoiding Lucifer, mostly,” he says. “And everyone else. I’m sure the whole school heard about what happened this morning, and I just – I don’t want all that attention right now.” Dean looks down at his hands for a moment, getting carried away by his thoughts. “What about you?” he asks, glancing back at Castiel.
“Same as you, actually,” he replies, setting down his book and shifting his weight. “Lucifer and his friends have had it out for me since middle school. I generally try stay as far away from them as I can.”
“You get into a fight with him too?” Dean asks, raising an eyebrow. Castiel’s lean, though he looks pretty well-built. Still, Dean would guess Lucifer could take him down easily.
“Well, it wasn’t so much of a fight as me surrendering to him,” Castiel says quietly. “Lucifer and his friends, they – they find it fun to torment me. And when it’s three football players on someone like me, it’s rather tough to fight back, so I just . . . stay out of their way.” He presses his lips together, folding his hands in his lap.
Dean’s quiet for a moment, unsure if he should pester for more information. Eventually, he asks softly, “Why do they do that? Torment you?”
Castiel shakes his head awkwardly, obviously wrestling with himself. “Well,” he sighs heavily. “You’re going to find out soon enough. I’m – well, they all assume I’m gay.”
Dean nods, understanding. “And are you?”
“Pansexual,” Castiel says. “Though I don’t really bother correcting them. They wouldn’t even understand what it means, and if they did, it would probably just provide more of a basis for harassment. They’d have more reason to call me a ‘slut’ and a ‘whore.’”
“That means you don’t care about gender, right?” Dean asks, wanting to clarify.
Castiel simply blinks, a little shocked.
“What?” Dean asks, feeling self-conscious.
“I just can’t believe you care,” Castiel replies. “Nevermind the fact you aren’t bothered by my sexuality.”
Dean shrugs. “There are bigger things to worry about.”
Castiel laughs, dry and humorless. “Can’t argue with you there. And yes, to answer your question, I’m not attracted to any certain gender. Just people – their personalities.”
“Hey, it’s cool with me,” Dean says, holding his hands up in a surrendering gesture.
Castiel nods, smiling shyly. “Well, I’m glad you feel that way, Dean. Not many people I know are okay with it.”
“Well, those people are idiots,” Dean replies, smiling back at him.
Castiel ducks his head, rubbing his hand on his neck. “Thanks,” he says. There’s a moment of silence as they both try to figure out what to say next. Castiel is the one to speak. “Oh, and as a fair warning – don’t get involved with Bela or any of her crazy friends. They’ll leave you worse off than a fistfight with Lucifer. And actually, they’d probably send Lucifer after you once they’re finished.”
Dean nods, looking around the courtyard briefly. “Good to know,” he says. He turns back to Castiel, smirking. “So, what are you – my tour guide?”
Castiel shrugs. “If you want one, I’d be happy to oblige.”
“Well, I might just have to take you up on that,” Dean says.
He hops off the table, joining Castiel on the ground. They sit in silence for the next twenty minutes as Castiel reads and Dean lays in the grass with his eyes closed. It’s a nice break from his shitty first day.
Lucifer doesn’t bother Dean anymore today, but Dean doesn’t breathe easy until he’s safe behind the wheel of his Impala. He leans back against his seat, utterly exhausted. So far since the move to Pontiac, he’s been able to quell the onslaught of sadness and anger, and though he’s got the comfort of having people like Mr. Wyatt and Castiel on his side, he’s still finding the adjustment very difficult.
Everything is still so hard. He’s not dealing with – with things. He’s still having nightmares, he’s still drinking, Sammy’s still upset with him, and he’s still bottling everything up. But he’s so afraid of talking about or even acknowledging it. If everything hurts this bad now, he can’t even begin to imagine what it will feel like if he properly deals with it. Pushing it all back is the only thing Dean knows how to do, because if he does try to move on, it will make everything that much more real and upsetting. And he can’t do that.
So now he’s stuck in this rut, going back and forth between long stretches of denial and small outbursts of painful acceptance. Each shift only wears on him more, and he continues to drown in those feelings of numbness, dangerously sinking further and further. He knows he shouldn’t do this, but he can’t bring himself to change.
The sound of a car door slamming somewhere near him shakes Dean back to reality. He grabs the keys from his jacket and shoves them into the ignition. His engine roars to life and carefully, Dean backs up and pulls out of the parking lot, heading for the middle school to pick up Sam.
Sam’s waiting for him right outside the front doors, looking unhappy, but not necessarily upset. He slides into the passenger’s seat, dropping his bag to the floor between his legs.
“So,” Dean says as he drives onto the street. “Make any new friends?”
“I guess,” Sam replies.
“You guess?” Dean asks.
“It’s only been a day, Dean,” Sam says. “Why do you even care?”
Dean blinks, taken aback by the harsh tone of Sam’s voice. “I’m just trying to look out for you, Sam. Isn’t that what you want?”
“Oh, so now you’re listening to me,” Sam asks, lazily raising his eyebrows. “Well, forget about it, Dean. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. I’m doing just fine on my own.”
Dean bites his lip, look at Sam for a second. “Sammy, look,” he starts. “I know I haven’t been there for you lately, but you know I – I can’t – I’m not as strong as you are. I’m sorry, okay? I’m just – I’m struggling.”
“And you don’t think I am?” Sam asks, finally looking at him. “Dad’s death hasn’t been easy on me either.”
Dean flinches, grinding his teeth together. “I know, Sam,” he says quietly. “I know. And I should have realized that, but it’s just – I don’t know how to cope, Sam. I don’t.”
“But you wouldn’t even try,” Sam says. “Not even for me. First I lost Dad, and now I’m losing you. But if you just – “
The Impala gives a violent jerk as Dean pulls over to the side of the road, slamming on the breaks.
“Sam,” he says sternly. “I want you to listen to me.”
Sam’s jaw clenches, but he looks over at Dean, crossing his arms. “I’m listening.”
“I don’t know what to do,” Dean starts softly. “I don’t know how to deal with Dad – with any of this. Hell, I can’t even say the freaking words out loud. But Sammy, I love you, and I want you to know how sorry I am. I’m not trying to abandon you, alright? You’re just – you’re better at this than I am. Dad, he – he meant everything to me.” Dean’s on the verge of choking up, tears prickling his eyes.
“And what about me?” Sam asks. “You don’t think this is killing me too?”
Dean opens his mouth, then closes it, huffing. “You didn’t know him like I did, Sam,” he says quietly, looking out the windshield. “You and Dad spent more time fighting with each other than getting along.”
Sam’s eyebrows crease together, and he narrows his eyes. “That doesn’t mean I loved him any less, Dean. He was my Dad. I know we didn’t always agree on everything, but that – I still loved him.”
Dean looks down, chewing on his cheek.
“Dean?” Sam asks. “Dean, what – what are you trying to say? That I – I shouldn’t feel sad or something?”
“No,” Dean says, irritated. “What I’m saying is you don’t understand how I feel. You were fine without Dad, Sam. You didn’t depend on him like I did. Every time he stepped out that door, I stayed up every one of those few nights, counting down the hours until he was back. All I wanted was for us to be a regular family. I didn’t want him to be out there, putting his life on the line. I didn’t want him going into the goddamned war. Every fiber of my being just wanted him back and safe under our roof. I wanted him to be the one to cook dinner and to put you to bed at night. I wanted him to be there to help comfort you when you were upset, or to stay at your bedside when you were sick. And it wasn’t because I didn’t like doing those things for you, Sam. I didn’t mind it. Taking care of you was second nature, but dammit, I just wanted us to be a normal family. I wanted Dad to work a normal job, and for him to come home to Mom cooking dinner in the kitchen. I know what Dad did was important to him, and I know he did the best he could. I’m proud of him, Sam, and I was glad he was proud of himself, but while you were relieved every time he left you, I hated it. I just wanted him back. And I do now more than ever.”
“Dean – “
“Just forget it,” Dean snaps, shaking his head. He turns back to the wheel. “We better get going. Bobby’ll be waiting for us.”
He pulls the car back into the road, taking a deep breath to try and calm the sobs rising in his chest.
Dinner that night is unusually quiet. Things are still tense between Dean and Sam, but neither of them is willing to talk about it. Dean knows Bobby’s watching them carefully, but if Sam’s not willing to budge, then fine, let him be that way.
“So, Dean,” Bobby starts. “You gonna tell me how your day was, or am I going to have to pull it out of you? I’ve asked ten times now.”
“You’ve only asked three times,” Dean replies without looking up.
“And you still haven’t answered me.”
“Why don’t you ask Sam about his day?” Dean counters, stabbing at his food, frustrated. His day was crappy, and he doesn’t really feel like explaining any further. He knows Bobby’s just trying to check on him, make sure he’s making some kind of progress, but he’s just not in the mood.
“He’s already told me everything.”
Dean let’s out an obnoxious sigh, setting his fork down on the table. “It was fine,” he says, looking up. “It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible.”
“How many fights did you start?” Bobby asks with a knowing smirk.
“Only one,” Dean says defensively, and he can’t help but crack up. “It was this jerk named Lucifer,” Dean says, rolling his eyes.
“I wouldn’t doubt it with a name like that,” Bobby replies.
Dean snorts. “He thought I was checking out his girlfriend. I mean I was, but she wasn’t trying to be subtle about – had her tits right up in my face.”
Bobby shakes his head, and Sam chokes on his food.
“So I avoided him the rest of the day,” Dean says, shoving a bite of potato into his mouth.
“You meet anyone you didn’t piss off?” Bobby asks.
“Well, there was this one guy,” Dean says. “He told me Lucifer’s got it out for him too, so we hid out together. His name’s Castiel.”
Bobby raises an eyebrow at that. “Damn, what are the people of this town thinking? Poor kids.”
Dean laughs. “I don’t know. But you gotta admit, ‘Castiel’ is better than ‘Lucifer.’”
Bobby nods, taking a drink of his beer. “Well, Dean, I’m glad you’re not moping around anymore, but promise I won’t get any calls from the police too soon.”
Deans mouth falls open slightly, and he half laughs, half scoffs. “I’ll try my best, Bobby.”
“That’s all I ask.”
Everyone goes quiet again, finishing their dinner in silence.
It was nice to pretend for a minute or two, but everyone knows that things aren’t just going to fix themselves so easily. Dean’s not making much improvement, Sam is still pissed at him, and Bobby’s still trying and failing to get him to open up.
That night, it takes Dean awhile to fall asleep. He's up for hours, his mind fighting the memories and thoughts that are threatening to crash down on him, his body fighting the sobs that want to rack him. But eventually, sleep does take hold, and instead of nightmares, he’s left dreaming about Castiel – with his shy smile and quiet mystery. There’s nothing special about the dream – it’s just Dean’s memory from earlier replaying in his mind. The calm tone of Cas’s personality helps to calm Dean as well, and for the first time in months, he gets a good night of sleep.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
Thank you to everyone who's giving this a shot. It means more than you can imagine.
A few days pass, and somehow nothing major happens with Lucifer. He’ll jeer at Dean in the hallway or body-check him into a locker, but for the most part, Dean flies under the radar. He stays out of Lucifer’s way, taking advice from Castiel, and Lucifer doesn’t try to waste his time on Dean. It works out pretty nicely.
Right now, Dean has a free period, and not knowing really what to do with himself, he walks around aimlessly through the halls. He’s rounding a corner near the library when he hears the familiar mocking laugh.
He’s coming down the hall towards Dean, flanked by the guys’ Castiel has informed him are named Alastair and Azazel. Thankfully, they don’t see Dean, and he takes the opportunity to duck through the closest door to his right, stumbling into the library. He straightens up, looking over his shoulder just in time to see Lucifer walking past the closed door. With a sigh of relief, Dean walks further into the library, looking around for a quiet place to sit. That’s when he sees Castiel.
He’s sitting in the back, tucked behind the rows of shelves. His books are spread out on the table in front of him and he seems to be working intently on something. Dean wastes no time to interrupt him, chucking his bag to the floor as he slides into the seat across from him.
He jumps, then stares at Dean, confused.
Cas shakes his head. “It’s nothing. It’s just – you called me ‘Cas.’”
“Oh,” Dean says, his smile faltering. “I’m sorry, is that – do you not want me too?”
“No, no,” Cas says, shaking his head. “It’s fine. You just caught me off guard, is all. Usually my siblings are the only people to call me that. Though I don’t have a problem with you calling me that at all. ‘Castiel’ can be a mouthful.” He chuckles awkwardly, and Dean can’t help but laugh too.
“Okay, cool. So, what are you working on?” he asks, glancing over the books and paper spread across the table in front of Cas.
Cas sighs, shifting around a few things. “I’m working on an assignment for my creative writing class.”
Dean raises and impressed eyebrow, pressing his lips together. “You write?” he asks, though he’s not sure why he’s so surprised. Castiel looks like the type who would write – stylish, put together, just the right amount of stubble dusting his face.
Cas blushes slightly, looking down. “Not a lot. I mean – I’m working on the outline for a novel, but mostly I just write poetry from time to time. Though I like reading it much more.”
“Poetry?” Dean asks, smirking.
“Yeah,” Cas says, reaching underneath his textbooks. “Particularly the fantastic works of e. e. Cummings.” He pulls out a worn, leather-bound book with little slaps of paper stuck between the pages. The same one he’d been reading the other day. “My sister, Anna, got it handmade for me for my sixteenth birthday. Every single one of his poems.”
“What are the little marks for?” Dean ask, eyeing them.
“I’ve bookmarked my favorites,” Castiel explains.
“Can – can I see them?” Dean asks carefully, leaning forward awkwardly and holding his hand out.
Cas nods, setting the book gently in Dean’s hand. Dean takes it, folding it over in his hands and admiring it. It’s obvious it’s been read many times, and Dean finds a smile spreading on his lips. The first page inside includes a note in slanted, loopy handwriting that Dean assumes is Anna’s. He skips past it, paging to the first bookmarked poem.
“in Just-“ Dean reads aloud. “Mmm.” He spreads the book open wide, looking down the page, and he begins to read quietly.
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little lame baloonman
whistles far and wee
and eddyandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old baloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
“Huh,” Dean says. “To be honest with you, the ‘queer balloon man’ kind of creeps me out.”
Cas laughs, showing a small amount of his teeth as he smiles.
Dean turns a few more pages, eyes skimming the words. He stops abruptly, smiling coyly. “Oh, this sounds promising,” he says, shifting his weight. He clears his throat, and begins –
“may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she
(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she
(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)
may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she
may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she
but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she
(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she
ummm said she)
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she) ”
“Oh, yes,” Dean says, smoothing his hand down the page. “Poetry porn.”
Cas bites his lip to keep from letting out a barking laugh. He shakes his head, eyes grazing over the laugh lines around Dean’s mouth and the crinkle of his eyes. He rolls his lips together, looking down and trying to quell the racing of his heart.
Dean takes a heavy breath, but continues on, looking through book and reading a few words here and there from each poem. “Man,” he says, expression showing disbelief. “Was this guy just high all the time or something?” He scoffs, continuing on.
Castiel smiles, shrugging. “A good question.”
“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” Dean says. “I’m actually really liking this stuff, but where do you get the ideas? How did he come up with this stuff?”
Cas shrugs again. “Creativity.”
Dean nods. “Hmm. I suppose.” He closes the book and hands it back to Cas. “Pretty good taste, you’ve got. Though I can’t pretend I’m an expert on poetry. I think this is the first time I’ve really read it, so.”
Cas shakes his head, playfully disapproving. “I’m disappointed in you, Dean Winchester. Poetry is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.”
Dean snorts, leaning back in his seat. “If you say so.”
“You’re just too much of moron to understand,” Cas says, sticking his chin up and crossing his legs under the table.
Dean opens his mouth to retort, but stops when it turns into a smile. “You’re a dick, you know that?”
“Is that really your comeback?” Cas asks, his eyes sparkling.
“That’s me telling the truth,” Dean replies.
Cas chuckles, shaking his head. “You’re terrible at this.”
“You’re . . . terrible.”
Cas nearly doubles over, laughing harder. “Okay, you really should stop now. Not while you’re ahead per se, but before you’re completely backtracked.”
“How about pretentious?” Dean asks. “You’re utterly pretentious.”
Cas nods, pressing his lips together. “That’s a big word. I’m impressed.”
Dean bites his lip, hanging his head for a second as he tries not to laugh. Castiel cocks his head, eyes clearly saying, “I win.”
“So,” Cas says. “What are you doing in here? I didn’t even think you knew what a library was.”
Dean stares at Castiel for a second, disbelieving. “I’m not a complete idiot, you know. Just because I started a fight with Lucifer doesn’t mean I’m a big dumbass like he is. I get good grades.”
Castiel just smirks, shaking his head slightly. “I’m only giving you a hard time, Dean. I’m sure you’re very smart.”
Dean nods, eyeing him suspiciously. “I’m in here because first of all, I’m avoiding Lucifer like usual. And second, I really do need to study and do some homework.”
“Well,” Cas says. “I’ve got room.”
Dean grabs his bag off the floor, lifting it up onto the table. “Then don’t mind if I join you.”
After spending his free period and lunch hour with Cas, Dean’s in a pretty good mood, but on his way out to his car after school, it completely shatters.
He stops, closing his eyes and holding in a groan.
“Hey, bud. How’s it going?”
He turns around, putting on his best scowl as he faces Lucifer, Alastair, and Azazel. “What do you want?” he asks angrily.
“I’m curious,” Lucifer says with a shrug. “I gotta ask you a question, Dean.”
Dean narrows his eyes, shifting his weight. “What?”
“Well,” Lucifer says, raising an eyebrow and cocking his head slightly for a second. “Are you bisexual? Or what?” Alastair and Azazel snicker.
Dean blinks, taken slightly aback. He looks around blankly for a second. “Um – no?”
“Oh, really?” Lucifer asks, smiling. He chuckles a little, taking a step forward. “Because – I don’t know – the first day you get here, you hit on my girlfriend. And today, I see you cozying up with that fag, Castiel.”
Dean tenses, his fists clenched at his sides. “He’s a friend.” The word sticks in his throat, stumbling its way out of his mouth.
“More than that, I’m guessing,” Lucifer says, crossing his arms but staying relaxed. “You can’t hide it from me, Dean. I know a couple of fags when I see ‘em.”
Dean’s fists clench tighter, and he can feel his nails digging into his palm. “Don’t call him that,” he hisses.
Lucifer raises an eyebrow, his smirk growing. “Oh, we’re sticking up for him now, are we? That’s something a boyfriend would do.”
Dean shakes his head, looking away and letting out a noise between a laugh and scoff. “You know you’re a dumbass, right?”
“Come again?” Lucifer asks, his smile disappearing and his voice taking on a dangerous tone.
“You’re fucking stupid,” Dean says, taking a step up to him. “Cas is my friend. Only my friend, and if you’re too much if an ignorant ass to realize that, then that’s your own fault.”
“Oh, Dean,” Lucifer says sweetly, smiling condescendingly at him. “You’re so naïve.”
“Why?” Dean asks, challenging him. “Why am I naïve?”
“Castiel is gay – “
“Actually, he’s pansexual,” Dean corrects. “Which to your tiny brain means he’s not attracted to men or women. He’s attracted to just people. And me?” he says. “I’m straight, which if you didn’t know, means I like women. And it’s perfectly possible for Cas and I to be friends, because I’m not some idiotic douchebag who thinks it’s okay to torment someone over something so trivial as their sexuality. But if you want to be a complete and utter jackass, that’s fine with me – it’ll all come back to you one day – just leave Cas alone.” He stands barely three inches apart from Lucifer now, breathing heavily into his face with his fists ready at his side.
It takes awhile for Lucifer to reply. He stares at Dean for a long moment, eyes scanning over his face. Slowly, he begins to smile again until he starts to laugh, taking a step back from Dean. When he’s finished, he lets out a sigh that leads into a serious, deadly tone.
“Boy, you really have no clue how it works around here.”
“Oh, but I do,” Deans says. “I know that you’re the stupid, brain-dead bully and I’m just supposed to bow down to you. But I won’t.”
“You really think so?” Lucifer asks, closing the distance between them. Dean braces himself, standing firm. His heart gives a lurch, his veins flooding with adrenaline, only to be interrupted by –
“Lucifer! Is there a problem here?”
It’s Mr. Wyatt, briefcase in hand and folders tucked under his armpit.
Lucifer deflates, sighing in annoyance. “No, sir,” he says without turning around. He motions for Alastair and Azazel to follow him as he walks past Dean, crashing shoulders as he does so.
Mr. Wyatt approaches Dean, looking at him carefully. “Are you alright, Dean?”
Dean gives himself a shake, trying to calm the anger inside of him. “Yeah – yeah, I’m fine.”
Dean looks at him, heaving a deep breath. “I’m fine, Mr. Wyatt. And anyway, Lucifer’s the least of my worries.”
“Well,” Mr. Wyatt sighs, “if he does become a big problem, feel free to come talk to me.”
“Thank you,” Dean says, pressing his lips together in a failed attempt at a smile. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Mr. Wyatt gives a curt nod. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Dean.” He leaves without another word, slowly making his way to his car.
Dean closes his eyes for a second, allowing himself to calm down. He isn’t sure what made him get so angry with Lucifer in the first place, but when he thinks back, Lucifer’s voice ringing in his head – “that fag, Castiel” – his blood seems to boil. Dean punches his open palm, letting out a noise of frustration. He punches his hand again, turning around towards his car. And that’s when he sees Castiel standing with his hands in his pockets, looking small and vulnerable.
“You didn’t have to do that, you know,” he says quietly.
“Cas,” he says a little breathlessly. “I didn’t – I didn’t see you there.”
“Lucifer calls me a fag all the time,” Cas continues. “It’s fine. It doesn’t bother me anymore.”
“Well, it should,” Dean replies with more force than he intended. “Cas, that’s not – you shouldn’t – “ he sighs, leaning his head back for a moment and then snapping it forward. “Lucifer’s an asshole, and you shouldn’t have to deal with that.”
Cas shrugs. “But I do. I choose not to react, because I find that it tires Lucifer more quickly that way.”
“You shouldn’t do that,” Dean says, stepping forward. “Let Lucifer control you.”
Cas smiles sadly. “Oh, I’ve tried fighting, believe me, but I know when to give up.” Dean opens his mouth to retort, but Cas cuts him off. “Haven’t you ever felt like that, Dean? When you’ve fought and fought but nothing ever changes, and all you can do is back down, let everything take its course? When it just seems like the best thing to do is just give up, because you know you can’t do anything to change it?”
Dean says nothing, simply turns his eyes away from Castiel. He knows that darkness, and how it swallows you whole, never letting go. He knows how the exhaustion grips you like a vice, holding you down while everything within you just wants to move forward. He knows the false sense of relief when you finally do back down. He knows that exact feeling.
“So you’re just going to give up?”
“I’m just too tired. I can’t fight anymore.”
“I understand,” he says at last. “But still. I’m not going to take anything from Lucifer, and if I can help it, I won’t let you either.”
Cas laughs, though the sound is insincere and emotionless. “Thank you, Dean, but I couldn’t allow you to get yourself hurt on account of me.”
“It’s not your decision,” Dean says with the smallest smirk.
Cas rolls his eyes, shaking his head and looking away shyly.
“So, uh,” Dean starts, shifting his weight and dropping the emotion, “do you need a ride home or something?”
“No,” Cas says quickly. “I just – I was wondering – “ He breaks off, stumbling over his words. “We have that World History test on Tuesday, and I was wondering whether or not you might want to study together?”
Dean blinks, a little surprised. He feels like things are moving too fast. It hasn’t even been a week and he’s already got a rivalry going on with the resident jock, he’s stuck up for someone in front of said jock, and now he’s making study plans with the person he stood up for – who he should really start honestly considering his friend. But no matter how much he enjoys Cas’s company, he’s still nervous because he promised himself he wouldn’t make friends here. He won’t be able to stand it when they leave him.
And yet, despite everything, he says, “Yeah, does Sunday work for you?”
“Sunday would be wonderful,” Cas replies, and then he hesitates again. “Can I ask for your number?”
Dean nods, pulling his cell phone from his pocket. They exchange numbers, say goodbye, and Dean’s left standing by the driver’s door of his Impala, a mix of regret and anticipation bubbling in his stomach. He bites his lip, watching as Cas gets behind the wheel of his station wagon, deciding that maybe, he can give this whole friend thing a chance again – for Cas.
He jumps a little as he looks up, seeing Anna in the doorway.
“Come help me with dinner,” she says, beckoning him to follow her.
With an irritated sigh, he shoves his textbook off his lap and hops down from his bed. He glances into the living room as he and Anna emerge downstairs. Raphael’s sitting with his mother as they look through magazines, smiling and laughing. It makes Cas’s stomach turn.
“A month into their marriage, and I’m still not used to it,” he says once the kitchen door is shut behind them. He goes over to the sink to wash his hands. “And why are we making them dinner? They’re perfectly capable, are they not? I have assignments to do.”
“Oh, come on, now,” Anna says, grabbing ingredients from the refrigerator. “You’ve been happier lately. Don’t stop now.”
Cas blinks, his eyebrows creasing together. “I sincerely doubt that. Raphael’s still here, isn’t he?”
“Well,” Anna says, pulling out a knife and beginning to chop lettuce. “I’ll admit I don’t know what it is, but you have been happier, Cas. Something happen at school? Did Lucifer get expelled?”
Cas laughs, shaking his head. “No, though I do have to admit, that’d be something wonderful.”
“So?” Anna asks, giving his shoulder a nudge. “Then, what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Cas says, feeling his neck begin to flush. “Well, I mean – there’s this new guy.”
“Ooooh,” Ann says knowingly. “And does he, you know, bat for a similar team?”
“No, no,” Cas says quickly, rubbing the back of his neck. “He’s straight, and we’re – we’re just friends. But it’s nice. I mean, you know I don’t really have any.”
Anna nods, smiling. “I suppose that is nice. Better than nice, actually.” It’s quiet for a moment, and then Anna glances over at him, still looking a little smug. “So, tell me about him, Cas? What’s this guy like?”
“He just moved here from Kansas,” Cas says. “He seems like a badass at first glance, but he’s actually really sweet.” He pauses, hesitating. “He, um – he stuck up for me today – in front of Lucifer. Lucifer called me a fag, and Dean – he got in Lucifer’s face.”
“Dean,” Anna repeats, nodding. “That’s a nice name. And he – “ she breaks off, really realizing what Cas had said. “He really did that for you?” She dumps the lettuce into a huge bowl, reaching now for the carrots.
Cas nods, biting his lip. “He had a rivalry with Lucifer from the first day. It’s not really big deal.”
Anna’s grin widens. “It’s a huge deal, Cas,” she disagrees. “Has anyone else stuck up for you in front of Lucifer?”
“Besides you and Michael?” Cas asks, raising an eyebrow. “Well, no , but – “
“There’s no ‘buts’,” Anna cuts in. “Dean’s a keeper, Cas. Don’t let him go.”
Cas groans. “Anna he’s straight, and I don’t even feel that way about him.”
“You’re a terrible liar,” Anna says, looking over at him again. She dumps the carrots into the bowl full of lettuce, then grabs a cucumber to slice.
“But I’m not lying,” he says defensively, holding his hands out in surrender. “I swear. I’ve barely known him a week.”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Anna replies, throwing a few cucumber slices into the mixture.
“He could be closeted.”
“He doesn’t feel that way about me.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Anna, I’m serious.”
“So am I.”
Castiel sighs, frustrated, and Anna simply laughs, reaching over to punch him playfully on the shoulder.
“Anna, stop,” he says, trying not to laugh. He grabs a knife from the counter, holding it up in defense.
“I’m not going to let it go, you know,” Anna says matter-of-factly. “Not until you two are married with five children.”
“Anna,” Cas says warningly, his tone almost reprehensive.
“I’m just messing with you, Cas,” Anna says, chuckling. She sets disposes the last of the cucumber into the bowl before making her way back over to the refrigerator. As she passes Castiel, she kisses him gently on the cheek. “I’m just really happy for you. It’s just been a long time since I’ve seen you so cheerful. And it’s been even longer since you smiled so sincerely the way you just were, talking about your new friend. It’s a nice change, Cas.”
He smiles sadly at her. He hates to admit that she’s right – about the happy and smiling part, not dating Dean, though there is some part of him that wishes there was some truth there.
Dean’s doing homework in the living room when the news comes on. The usual theme song blares obnoxiously before the news reporters start running through their lists of stories for the evening. The second one makes Dean’s blood run cold.
“We’ll also have some updates on the situation in Afghanistan, following the bombing from last month.”
Dean’s up and leaving the room before he even realizes what his feet are doing. He picks up pace as he dashes upstairs to his room. He flings the door open, and desperately trying to stop the sobs ripping from his chest, he collapses to his bed. He doesn’t know how long he sits there, wrapped up in himself and allowing the painful sobs to tear through his throat, but by the time he’s calmed down enough to look up and wipe his eyes, Sam is standing nervously in the doorway.
Dean sighs, attempting to sniffle. “Sam,” he says tiredly. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“But you need to,” Sam urges, stepping into the room.
Dean huffs. “So, what are we just turning the tables now? Now, I’ve got to listen to you?”
Sam sighs, crossing the room and sitting down gently next to Dean. “Look, I know I’ve been hard on you, Dean. I – I was stupid. I didn’t realize how much you were struggling. I only focused on how I felt, and how I just wanted you to be the one to tell it me was going to be okay.”
Dean looks down, avoiding Sam’s eyes.
“Now, I see how bad things really are for you,” Sam sighs.
“Do you?” Dean asks, looking up. “Sam, I – I don’t think you’ll ever understand, and I know you needed me. I know I wasn’t there for you, and I’m sorry, but I don’t need you. I know you want to help me, but nothing you say is going to change anything, Sam, and I just – I don’t need your help, alright?”
“Dean – “ Sam starts.
“Sam, just go,” Dean says sharply.
Sam chews on his lip a second before standing up and exiting the room.
As soon as he’s gone, Dean lays down on his back. His eyes start to well up with tears again and he blinks them back. A few manage to leak out, dripping down the side of his face, but he doesn’t wipe them. Instead he closes his eyes, breathing deep.
He’s been trying to stay strong. Usually, little things like that on the news shouldn’t bother him. Hell, he was fine just a few days ago telling Bela about his father.
But maybe that’s the problem.
He can’t sit down and talk about it; it just hurts too much. So he holds it in, and he tries to ignore it and then everything bursts out of him like it just did now.
Dean sighs, rolling over onto his side.
He knows it isn’t good for him to be doing this – Bobby’s told him a thousand times, but there’s just no one he can talk to who would understand (but it’s not like he’d have the strength to talk about anyway). He just feels like he’s drowning, struggling to stay on the surface, and once in awhile, he lets go, sinking under.
It’s exhausting, but it’s the only way he’s surviving.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
I'm continually revising and editing my outline of this story as I go along, but by now I think I've gotten pretty close to what exactly I want. So, having looked at what I have planned for the chapter after this, I'm going to have to warn you that child abuse is going to play a huge role in this fic starting then. If that is something you don't like, you should probably stop reading now. I don't think I'll be describing anything too graphically, but it's most definitely going to be there. In this chapter, there is also talk of suicide and as usual, character death.
Dean wakes up in a cold sweat, his breath harsh against his lungs as he sits bolt upright. Images fade from his mind, the adrenaline in his veins slowing. With a sigh, he lowers himself back against his pillows. He stares at the ceiling for awhile, trying to ignore the aftershocks of his nightmare.
Lights flash, and gunshots sound.
Dean rolls over onto his side, closing his eyes again, carefully.
After that, Dean doesn’t sleep well, and instead of sleeping in late like he normally does, he’s up by seven o’clock. Throwing a t-shirt over his head, he makes his way downstairs and into the kitchen. His head aches and his eyelids feel heavy, but he ignores it, just the same as his nightmare. He tries to think of positive things to distract himself – like his study session with Cas today.
When he’s sitting down to eat a piece of toast, he sees someone lingering in the doorway. He shifts his weight, taking a deep breath.
“Sam,” he greets.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Sam says quietly.
Dean snorts. “Join the club.”
“I heard you screaming,” Sam continues. “I tried to wake you up, but it didn’t work. I only left because you calmed down.”
Dean looks away, bringing up a hand to rub at his mouth.
“You’ve been having nightmares again, haven’t you?” Sam says.
“Sam, you don’t need to worry about me,” Dean says heavily.
“Of course I do,” Sam replies, eyebrows creasing together slightly, eyes filled with hurt. “You’re my brother, Dean.”
Dean heaves a sigh, glancing down at the table. “I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not,” Sam presses. “I know you, Dean, and you’re not fine. You’re barely surviving.”
“I’m managing,” Dean cuts in, looking at him sternly. “There’s a difference.”
“You don’t have to act strong for me, alright?” Sam says, his voice rising. “I’ve been dealing without you.” He sighs, running his hand through his hair. “Now I just – now I want you to deal with everything. I know it’s not easy, Dean, believe me, but you can’t keep carrying on like this.”
“Watch me,” Dean replies. He stands up, grabbing his food and walks over to toss it in the trash.
“Dean – “
“What you want from me?” he asks, turning around and holding his arms out. “I’m doing the best I can here, Sammy. I’m sorry I’m not coping at the pace you want me to, but I’m trying.”
“But you’re not,” Sam counters. “You’re pushing everything back, Dean, and it’s not healthy.”
“Neither is drinking myself to sleep, but I do it anyway,” Dean snaps back.
Sam heaves a deep breath, shaking his head. He looks away for a second, pressing his lips together. “Do you just not care anymore, Dean?” he asks, looking at his brother wearily. “Don’t you care about getting past this, getting happy?”
“You know,” Dean says, leaning up against the counter. “I’m inclined to believe that happiness doesn’t exist.”
They stand there for a minute, frozen in silence. Dean swallows hard, hanging his head while Sam stares at him, his hurt changing quickly to worry with a hint of panic.
“Dean,” he says quietly. “I – I know you don’t want to talk to me, but you’d – you’d tell me if things got too bad?”
Dean stares at him, confused. “What do you mean?” he asks.
Sam takes a deep breath. “I mean, if you really couldn’t do it anymore. Dean, you’d tell me if – if you wanted to kill yourself, right?”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Oh, for God’s sake, Sam – I’m not suicidal!”
“You could fool me,” Sam says quietly.
“Well, I’m not,” Dean says. “And fine, yes – I’d tell you if I was. Now can you just leave me alone, Sam? You’re not helping. If anything, you’re making it worse.”
Sam’s silent for a second before he says, “Dean, I’m just trying to help.”
“Well, don’t,” Dean snaps. “Seriously, Sam. If you don’t give it a rest, I will want to kill myself.”
Sam’s eyes glass over, and he turns, storming out of the room. Dean sighs, closing his eyes for a second.
“Sam, wait – I’m sorry, I didn’t mean – Sam? Sammy?”
He walks out of the kitchen and around the corner to the bottom of the stairs, looking up in the general direction of Sam’s room.
He waits a few seconds –
Sighing, he shoves his hands in his pockets and makes his way back to the kitchen. He knows that was a low blow, but he’ll figure out a way to make it up to Sam later.
Dean checks the text message he got from Cas one last time as he steps out of his car, absentmindedly shutting the door with his free hand.
King’s Café. I’ll be there around eleven.
He smiles a little, tucking the phone back in his pocket. Looking up, he sees that he’s most definitely in the right place. A decorative sign hangs over the entrance – King’s Café painted in big, bright letters. The place is small and quaint, tucked between two much larger shops. Inside, the smell of coffee hits him like a bullet, a solid warmth swapping for the chilly fall air.
Dean looks around carefully as he enters, finally spying Cas in the back right corner. He gives a nod as he catches Cas’s eye and makes his way over to the small, two-person table.
“Hey,” he greets Cas with a smile, sliding his bag off his shoulder and dropping it to the floor as he takes a seat.
Cas returns the smile, clearing a space for Dean. “How are you?” he asks.
Dean shrugs. “Fine, I guess.”
“You don’t seem fine,” Cas remarks, looking at him with raised eyebrows.
“I’ve just got a lot going on,” Dean replies, pulling books from his bags.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to talk,” Cas says. “But you know, I’m here if you need to.”
Dean nods, biting his lip. Leaning back, and averting Cas’s eyes, he says, “I – I had a fight with my brother this morning. It’s all we do lately.” He places his hands on the table, twisting his fingers together.
“Why?” Cas asks.
Dean shakes his head, blinking a few times. “I haven’t – we just – “ he breaks off, taking a deep breath. Quietly, he says, “Our dad died last month.” He doesn’t look at Cas at first, just keeps his head down as he tries to remember how to breathe.
In and out. In and out. In and out.
He lifts his head, meeting Cas’s sympathetic eyes.
“If it’s any consolation,” Cas says softly, “I can imagine how you feel quite well. My father died when I was eight. Brain cancer.”
“My dad was in Afghanistan,” Dean says, blinking against the sting in his eyes. “That base that got bombed? That was him.”
Cas sighs, cocking his head, eyes wide with a sort of second-hand sadness. “I’m so sorry, Dean. I know losing someone you love isn’t easy to get over.”
“Oh, I knew already,” Dean says, laughing humorlessly. “I’m an orphan. Mom died when I was four. House fire.”
Cas’s jaw falls slightly, and almost involuntarily, he reaches forward and grabs Dean’s hand. He gives Dean’s fingers a gentle squeeze. “I had no idea – “
“Of course you didn’t,” Dean says. “I don’t like talking about it. I just – I can’t.” He pulls his hand from Cas’s, reaching up to wipe away a tear that’s escaped. “I think this is the first I’ve actually said out loud that my dad died. I couldn’t get it out before.” The tears are coming faster now, and he takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself.
It’s quiet for a moment, and then Cas says, “This was a really terrible way to start a study session.”
Dean laughs slightly, hanging his head. “Yeah,” he says. “It’s starting to feel like a therapy session instead.”
“Well, do you feel a little better at least?” Cas asks.
Dean nods, wiping his eyes. “I do actually,” he admits. “But I’m starting to get a little concerned about the fact that I haven’t taken in a single thing from this chapter of history.”
“Then we should probably get started,” Cas says, pulling his notes in front of him.
Dean smiles weakly, shifting his weight. “We should.”
It’s easy to see why Dean’s been struggling with the last chapter. They’re studying the Napoleonic Wars, and though the fighting was much different, the triggers are still the same, and Dean finds himself battling old memories and horrific thoughts. After about a half hour, Cas can tell they’ve pushed Dean to the limit. He sets down the textbook and looks at Dean carefully, asking if he wants to take a break.
“That would be wonderful,” Dean replies. “Do you want to get something to eat?”
“Sure,” Cas says, standing up and stretching.
They order a couple of sandwiches, and ditching their stuff in the corner, head outside. It’s a nice day, only a little chilly, and the streets are filled with life. A few blocks down, there’s a park, and luckily, only a few children are running around and playing on the equipment. They make their way over to the swings, sitting down to eat.
Dean’s breathing a little easier now that the talk of war and gunfire and casualties have stopped. He munches on his lunch happily, eyes scanning over the park. The grass is still for the most part green, but the leaves are striking shades of red, orange, and gold. The sky is a washed-out blue, crumbling under the color of Castiel’s eyes. Dean blushes as he turns away, only just realizing he’d been staring at him. Dean notices how his heart has started to race just a bit, his mouth going dry. Lucifer’s words ring in his mind:
Are you bisexual? Or what?
And today, I see you cozying up with that fag, Castiel.
That’s something a boyfriend would do.
Dean rubs a hand over his neck, trying to calm the panic rising within him. It’s probably just the friendship hitting him hard. Dean’s never been good at making friends, and even worse at keeping them. It should only be natural that with this ease of being friends with Cas, he should feel a stronger sort of bond. He’s not used to connecting with someone else like this, and he thinks it’s only the shock getting to him.
Dean sneaks another peak at Castiel, and once again, his heart and mind are going at war. Cas is – he’s not bad-looking; Dean has to admit that. He’s a pretty attractive dude (if Dean found dudes attractive). He’s never seen eyes quite that bright, and the dark hair that wisps out from under his beanie contrasts nicely with his skin. Cas turns his head, catching Dean’s eye, and he smiles. Dean smiles back, feeling another blush crawl up his neck.
“You finished?” Cas asks, nodding at the empty wrapper in Dean’s hand.
He glances down, a little startled, then looks back up at Cas. “Y – yeah.”
“Do you want to head back to the café?”
Dean shakes his head, straightening up in the swing. “Nah. Let’s not let this equipment go to waste.”
He grips the chains, beginning to push his legs back and forth. He propels himself forward, backward, forward, backward, feeling the breeze around him. He feels like he’s flying – weightless, almost. Suddenly, he’s filled with a sense of freedom that climaxes every time he reaches maximum height. He turns, smiles down at Cas – only to see that he’s barely gotten anywhere. Dean laughs, loud and honest.
“What – are you scared?”
Castiel scowls. “No,” he says defiantly. “I’m just terrible at swinging.”
Dean laughs again. “How can anyone be terrible at swinging?”
“I don’t know,” Cas says. “But look at me – it’s awful.”
Dean chuckles, dragging his feet on the ground until he stops. He stands and walks around to the back of Cas’s swing.
“What are you doing?” Cas asks nervously, twisting around.
“Oh, calm down,” Dean says with a smirk. “I’m just going to push you.”
“No – gently,” Dean says, reaching out to grab the chains of Cas’s swing. “I’m not trying to hurt you. Would you just calm down?”
Cas turns back around, heaving a deep breath. His shoulders stay hunched protectively, and Dean shakes his head to himself. He gives the swing a rough push forward. Cas hangs on for dear life as he soars through the air, but after a few more pushes, he relaxes. Carefully, Dean switches to pushing Cas’s back rather than the swing itself, and Cas turns around to flash a smile at him.
“How you doing?” Dean asks.
“It’s certainly better than my pathetic attempts,” Cas replies. “It’s nice.”
“You ever jumped from a swing?” Dean asks.
“I used to have contests with Sam,” Dean says. “He was always pretty good at it. He was smaller so he could fly through the air, but I was taller and my legs were longer. It was a fair match most of the time.”
“Did you ever fall?” Cas asks. “It always looks so frightening. I doubt I could land.”
“It’s easy,” Dean replies. “You want to try it?”
“Oh, no,” Cas says, sounding a little afraid.
“What if I showed you how simple it was?” Dean asks. “Would you do it?”
“No,” Cas says simply. “I’m guaranteed to hurt myself.”
“Oh, come on, have a little faith.”
Cas shakes his head. “No, this is just fine.”
“Cas, you gotta learn to live a little more,” Dean sighs, grinning.
“Oh, I live just fine,” Cas replies. “And really, Dean? Jumping from a swing? That’s ‘living’ to you?”
“Have you done something more?” Dean asks, raising an eyebrow.
“No, not really,” Cas admits.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“Then again, I haven’t ever really had a social life,” Cas says. “As you can probably tell, not many kids at our school like me. Lucifer kind of took care of that.”
“Well, I like you,” Dean says without thought. “And you know Lucifer can’t change that.” Cas looks down, and Dean knows he’s smiling. Dean smiles himself, yet another blush highlighting his cheeks. He coughs into his shoulder, cursing himself internally. He keeps doing this, doesn’t he?
“Hey, Dean?” Cas says.
“Just – everything. It’s nice having a friend.”
Dean feels his heart give a little twist. “You don’t have to thank me, Cas. I should be thanking you if we’re being honest. It’s not easy for me to make friends either, really.”
They fall into a comfortable silence as Dean continues to push Cas gently. The breeze picks up a little, dusting against their skin. Cas shivers, wrapping one arm against his torso. He’s only wearing a sweater, his sleeves pulled up over his hands.
“You cold?” Dean asks. “Do you want my jacket?”
Cas shakes his head. “No, I – I’m fine.”
He nods. It’s quiet for another second, and then Cas’s phone begins to vibrate in his pocket. He pulls it out, checking the Caller ID. With a sigh, he answers it, holding it to his ear.
Dean slows the swing, allowing Cas to concentrate on the call.
“Yeah? – I’m at the park, Anna – Yes – We took a break from studying.” He rolls his eyes. “That’s about three hours from now, Anna – Why? He’s not getting here until Friday – Fine – No, it’s okay – It’s fine – Yeah, yeah – I’ll be home then.”
He huffs as he shoves his phone back in his pocket. “I’m sorry,” he says, turning to look at Dean. “That was my sister, Anna. She’s having a breakdown because our brother’s coming home on Friday, and she wants to get everything ready.”
“Is your brother in college?” Dean asks. Cas’s swing has stopped moving, and Dean grips one chain in his left hand.
“No, he graduated already. He lives in Chicago, but he comes home often. He’s notorious about checking in. He’s been extremely protective of me ever since – “ he stops short, realizing he’s said too much. He coughs, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Since what?” Dean asks absently. Castiel doesn’t answer, and Dean realizes his mistake. “I mean, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want,” he says quickly. “But I’ll – I’ll listen.”
Cas averts Dean’s eyes, staring at the ground. He twists his fingers together nervously for a second before taking a deep breath and saying, “I’ve told you about how Lucifer likes to torment me, right? He always has.”
Dean nods as he lets go of the swing. He moves over, sitting back down in the swing next to Cas, turning to face him.
“It was the worst last year,” Cas continues. “That’s when he was most violent and persistent. It was constant verbal abuse, and the physical torment continued to get worse every day. I was good at letting everything roll off me, at never giving him the satisfaction.” He shifts his weight, pressing his lips together. “Eventually he got frustrated, and he tried to think of the worst thing he could do. He decided to bring my mom’s boyfriend into it – well, now my stepfather – Raphael. He hates me. He always has. And Lucifer thought it would be a good idea to out me to him. I had only come out to the kids at school, or really, I corrected them when they called me gay. Raphael always suspected, but my brother and sister helped me keep up the act that I was straight. I’d bring home the girls I was dating, but never the guys – though to be fair, I’ve only ever dated one guy.”
Dean feels an odd surge of something unpleasant – jealousy, his mind whispers - but he ignores it, telling himself that this is serious. Cas is talking about something traumatic – this is no time to be worried about himself.
“And it was him that Lucifer caught me with. He spied on us while we were on a date, and he took a picture while we were kissing, which he intended to show to Raphael. Lucifer called him, claiming to have proof that I was gay. He planned to show Raphael the picture, but when he arrived at the house, it was Michael – my brother – who answered the door. He had a strict word with Lucifer, and let’s just say, things kind of fizzled out between us after that. Raphael’s still hard on me, but Michael made sure to tell him that Lucifer was a good-for-nothing lowlife, only looking to start trouble.”
“Oh, man, I’m sorry, Cas,” Dean says, looking at him with sympathy.
“Nothing terrible came out of it,” Cas assures. “It’s fine, honestly. Lucifer backed off after that, which is a plus. Michael shows up every month or so to remind him what’ll happen if he continues to pick on me – I mean, he still does, but not nearly as much.”
Dean shakes his head, pressing his eyelids shut for a moment. “I don’t even want to think about things being worse,” he says quietly. “I don’t like the way he treats you now.”
Cas shrugs. “I deal with it.”
“I wish you didn’t have to.”
Cas smiles. “You keep saying that.”
Dean returns the smile, his a bit sadder. “I mean it.”
“Well, thanks for the thoughts, Dean, but it’s not a big deal. I’ll have to deal with much worse when I get older. It’s better I build up the resistance now.”
Dean sighs, his eyes drifting away from Cas’s face and across the park. He laughs dryly. “Man, the world sucks.”
Castiel snorts. “You don’t have to tell me twice.”
Dean pushes himself up with a groan. “You think we should head back?”
Cas nods, joining him. He crosses his arms tightly as they walk back, shivering again. Dean shrugs out of his jacket and hands it to him.
“Here,” he says. “I’ll be fine for a couple of blocks.”
Cas takes it with a small smile, draping the heavy leather jacket over his shoulders.
Dean pulls into the driveway, and as he nears the house, he realizes he can’t stop smiling. He gives himself a shake, trying to plaster back on that brooding look he’s had stuck to his face lately. It doesn’t work. He simply manages to limit his face-splitting smile to a small grin.
When he enters the house, Sam and Bobby are cooking dinner. The smell of soup swirls around him, and his stomach grumbles.
“Smells good,” he remarks as he enters the kitchen, dropping his bag on one of the chairs.
Sam and Bobby both turn around in surprise.
“Well, you’re in a good mood,” Bobby says.
“I’ve been hanging out with Cas.”
Bobby nods slowly, his eyebrows creasing together. “Right.” He turns back to the stove, shaking his head. Sam stares at Dean for a moment longer before going over to the fridge and grabbing the jug of milk. He eyes Dean suspiciously before turning around.
Dean shrugs it off and reaches for his bag, but instead of grabbing it, he knocks it off the chair.
“Shit,” he hisses as he lowers himself to the ground. He’s picked up three books before he sees one that looks familiar, though it’s definitely not his. It’s leather-bound, with bookmarks sticking out of it – Cas’s book of e. e. cummings poems. He picks it up and turns it around in his hand before reaching for his phone.
i have your poem book. the one your sister gave u. i think i grabbed it from the table by mistake
It’s fine. Keep it for awhile. Maybe you’ll realize what an art poetry is.
dont count on it
You’ll see eventually, Dean. Don’t deny it.
w/e helps u sleep at night
Dean looks down at the smiley face, grinning right back it. It’s the first time he’s ever seen Cas use an emoticon, and for some odd reason, he finds it kind of endearing. He tucks his phone back in his pocket before paging through the poetry book again. It’s a little strange – he feels like he’s holding a part of Cas. The thought sends a tingle through his spine, and he cradles the book carefully against his chest.
“I’m heading upstairs,” Dean says.
“Well, dinner’s gonna be ready in about fifteen minutes,” Bobby replies.
“I’ll be down in time,” Dean assures.
But he’s not. He comes down ten minutes after Bobby and Sam have already started eating, having sat looking carefully through Cas’s book for the past twenty-five minutes, losing himself in the words that seem so simply Cas.
Briefly, he considers never returning the book.
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
Okay, I lied. I had too much to get out over the next few chapters, so the real, hard child abuse will be coming next chapter.
The rest of the weekend goes by, and Dean finds himself completely wrapped in the poetry, breaking off every few lines to stop and think about Cas – what he thought the first time he read it, what he likes so much about this poem, what it reminds him of and makes him think about, how he interprets it. The poems that are bookmarked are such a strange array that Dean is only enamored more with the enigma that is Castiel.
There are some that make Dean laugh with their absurdity. Like, “the boys i meet are not refined”, which Dean sincerely hopes doesn’t describe what Cas thinks of him:
the boys i mean are not refined
they go with girls who buck and bite
they do not give a fuck for luck
they hump them thirteen times a night
one hangs a hat upon her tit
one carves a cross on her behind
they do not give a shit for wit
the boys i mean are not refined
they come with girls who bite and buck
who cannot read and cannot write
who laugh like they would fall apart
and masturbate with dynamite
the boys i mean are not refined
they cannot chat of that and this
they do not give a fart for art
they kill like you would take a piss
they speak whatever's on their mind
they do whatever's in their pants
the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance
And there are others that grip Dean and make him think a little, left for hours trying to decipher. Like “i shall imagine life” which is short and beautiful, and one that reminds Dean of the softer, quieter part of Cas:
i shall imagine life
is not worth dying,if
(and when)roses complain
their beauties are in vain
but though mankind persuades
itself that every weed's
a rose,roses(you feel
certain)will only smile
Cas’s favorite poems are all different, but somehow they fit together perfectly – the weird but hilarious, the small but thoughtful – they all fit together perfectly, reflecting different parts of Cas that Dean hopes to uncover someday.
School hits Dean like a punch to the gut – going back and having to deal with homework, Lucifer, and now this week, homecoming. He stays by Cas’s side, using him as a distraction, but also enjoying his company. Because if he’s being completely honest, this weekend was probably one of the best in a long time, and if it was up to him, he’d drop out of school right now if it meant getting to laze around with Cas every day and forget about the struggles he’s too weak to face. But life doesn’t work like that, so Dean’s left to compromise – pushing his way through school just for the small moments he gets to spend joking around with Cas.
It’s Tuesday, and they’re sitting against their favorite tree in the courtyard, working on the newest math assignment. Cas is whizzing right through it, but Dean’s barely made a dent. He looks over, gaping when he sees that Cas is on the second to last problem.
“Christ, how are you going so fast?” Dean mutters, looking helplessly back at the problem he’s on.
Cas shrugs. “I understand it. It’s simple.”
“Uh – not for me,” Dean says. “I don’t even know why I signed up for this class. I should’ve taken Algebra. Why the fuck did I think I was ready for Pre-Calc?”
Cas laughs, shifting his weight towards Dean. “What problem are you on?” he asks.
“Three,” Dean mumbles, handing him the textbook.
Cas takes about two seconds to look at it before he says, “Oh, that’s easy.” He hands the book back to Dean and proceeds to explain how to do it incredibly clearly, actually making sense to Dean.
He scribbles a few things down, then looks up at Cas. “Like that?”
“Yes, exactly,” Cas replies, smiling.
“Awesome,” Dean says. “Thanks, Cas.”
“No problem,” Cas says, leaning back against the tree. He draws his legs up to his chest, wrapping his arms around his knees. It’s quiet for a moment before he says. “So, homecoming – do you plan to go?”
Dean shrugs. “I don’t know. I mean, I just moved here, and I’m not really into sports anyway.”
Cas raises his eyebrows, leaning forward. “Really? You seem like you would be.”
“Why?” Dean asks. “Are you into sports?”
“I enjoy watching football, yes,” Cas says. “It’s interesting. Though I do find myself over-analyzing plays and complaining quite frequently.”
“See?” Dean says. “You don’t seem like you’d like sports.”
“Well, it would seem we’re broth stereotype-breakers, then,” Cas says, grinning.
“I guess so,” Dean says, returning the smile. “Are you going then?”
“I’d like to,” Cas says, stretching his legs out. “I just don’t have anyone to go with.” He glances at Dean with a look of forced innocence.
Dean smirks, nodding. “I see what you’re trying to do here. You’re trying to weasel me into this.”
“No, no, of course not,” Cas says, waving a hand.
Dean laughs quietly. “If you really want me to go, I will.”
“Really?” Cas asks, perking up.
Dean shrugs. “Yeah, I mean – Bobby’ll be happy. He’s been bugging me to get out and do more, stop moping around. He thinks it’ll help me get over my dad or whatever. Get happy.”
Cas nods, biting his lip. “I hope it does.”
“It is – don’t worry,” Dean says, smiling shyly.
Cas hoists himself up onto the kitchen counter, crossing his ankles and folding his hands together in his lap. He watches as Anna dials the number, quickly putting it on speaker and setting the phone next to Cas’s thigh.
“Hey, Anna. Is Demon Spawn gone now?”
Anna chuckles. “Yes. He and Mom went out for dinner and a show.”
“Any news about my stay yet?”
“Well,” Anna says. “They’ll be gone all weekend. Raphael decided it would be the best time to take Mom to a spa retreat – right when her son arrives home for a visit.”
Michael snorts. “She stopped being my mother the day she got engaged to that bastard.”
“Michael,” Anna says sternly. Cas tries to hide his laugh behind his hand, coughing to disguise it.
“Well, come on,” Michael says. “We all know she’s not the same mother she was before Dad died. We’ve established that. We established that a long time ago.”
“Still,” Anna says quietly.
“Oh, be loyal all you want, but I’m not a part of that family anymore. Raphael’s fucking evil, and Mom tolerates it. I’m not going to associate myself with people like them.”
Anna sighs, shifting her weight uncomfortably.
“Oh, Anna,” Michael says exasperatedly. “At least I’ve got Castiel with me on this, right?”
Cas laughs, nodding and saying, “You most definitely do.”
“Ha – you’re outnumbered, Anna.”
She doesn’t say anything – just stands there, biting her lip.
“Anna?” Michael asks, dropping his cocky attitude. “Anna, you know I’m not trying to start a fight or anything here, but you understand that she’s not really our mom anymore, right?”
Anna crosses her arms over her chest, almost protective. “Yeah, I know,” she sighs.
“I’m sorry,” Michael says. There’s a pause before he speaks again. “Alright, I think it’s time for a subject change. Cas, how are you doing? How’s Lucifer?”
Cas heaves a deep breath, pulling his legs up so he can sit cross-legged. “Lucifer’s fine. He leaves me alone for the most part.”
“For the most part?” Michael asks.
“Yeah. It’s rare he messes with me though – “
“You’re not the only one protecting him anymore, Micheal,” Anna chimes in. She unfolds her arms and leans against the counter. “He’s got this friend – “
“Hey, hey, “ Cas cuts her off, reaching out his hands to get her to stop. He’s blushing already.
“A friend?” Michael asks, and Cas can practically see him smirking.
“Yes, he’s a friend,” Cas says, almost tiredly.
“Are you sure this guy’s only a friend?” Michael presses.
Cas rolls his eyes, and then stops short, remembering his conversation with Dean from earlier. “Yes,” he says slowly. “Well, I mean – yes, we’re just friends.” He gives himself a shake – Dean’s straight. There’s no chance. “But,” he says, and he can’t stop the smile now. “I did ask him this morning, and we’re going to homecoming together.”
Anna’s eyes bulge, and she reaches for Cas, gripping his arm. “Castiel, you didn’t tell me!” she says between squeals. “Are you serious?”
He nods excitedly, biting his lip.
“They’re getting married, Michael,” she yells at the phone. “I’m thinking a spring wedding.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Michael says. “Back up. I have to meet the kid first. What’s his name, Cas?”
“Dean,” Castiel replies. “Dean Winchester.”
“Castiel Winchester-Milton,” Anna says. “Has a nice ring to it.”
“It sounds awful,” Cas mutters.
Michael just laughs, and Cas knows he’s shaking his head, probably pinching the bridge of his nose between his forefingers.
“But, seriously Cas,” he says, calming down. “What’s he like?”
Cas presses his lips together, thinking. “He’s kind, funny, intelligent. He’s slightly protective of me, and he absolutely loathes Lucifer.”
“He sticks up for Cas,” Anna adds. “He’s not afraid to be like you and get in the jerk’s face either.”
“Well, then I approve,” Michael says fondly. There’s a pause, and then he adds, “Though honestly, Cas – I’d like to meet him, if that’s okay. I know he’s not your boyfriend or whatever, but if this kid is protecting you, it sounds like we have similar interests at heart.”
Cas chews on his lip, a smile spreading against his teeth. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
“We could all go to homecoming together,” Anna says excitedly, and Cas pales, looking at her warningly.
“No – Anna – “
“We’re not going to embarrass you, I promise,” Anna assures. “And you just say the word and we’ll leave – as long as you give me all the details later.”
“I don’t want the details,” Michael says quickly. “I don’t need those mental images. I prefer to think of my baby brother as just that – a sweet, innocent, little virgin.”
Cas blushes furiously, hiding his face in his hands. He lets out a groan, shaking his head. “You two need to stop.”
“Oh, come on, Cas,” Anna says, chuckling. “We’re only messing with you. We know you and Dean are just friends, but it’s fun to tease you – especially with that obvious crush.”
“I don’t have a crush on him,” Cas says defiantly.
Anna cocks her head, raising her eyebrows disbelievingly. Cas scowls before crossing his arms and turning away.
“Don’t let him fool you, Michael. He does.”
Cas sighs heavily, leaning his head back against the cupboard. “Okay, so maybe I do,” he admits. He snaps his head back, looking seriously at Anna. “But this is why you and Michael have to behave. I don’t want him to know that I have a crush on him. It would completely ruin our friendship. Right now, I’m – I’m waiting this thing out. I’ll have to get over him eventually.”
Anna nods, understanding. “We won’t let anything slip, Cas. Trust us.”
“We’ve got it covered.”
“Alright then – good,” Cas says. “Then yes, you can come to homecoming with us. Just allow me to talk to Dean first, okay?”
Anna groans, and Cas shoots her a glare.
“Fine – that’s fine,” she says quickly.
Michael laughs loudly, the line crackling. “Oh, God. I miss you guys.”
A silence rings after his words, and both Anna and Cas look towards the phone, smiling to themselves. Cas shifts his weight and Anna bites her lip. They exchange a small glance, understanding glistening in their eyes.
It’s been six years since Michael first went off to college, two since he bought an apartment and moved completely to Chicago, and it’s never really gotten any easier – especially with Raphael’s continued involvement in their lives. Yes, Anna and Cas have each other, but without Michael, they’re incomplete.
“I miss you too,” Castiel says quietly.
Anna opens her mouth to speak when the sound of the front door reaches their ears. Cas hops down quickly from the counter, his heart starting to race in his chest.
“Anna?” he asks quietly. “They weren’t supposed to be home for another two hours.”
“What’s going on?”
Anna picks up the phone, hissing into the receiver, “We’ve got to go, Michael – Raphael. We’ll take to you later.”
Cas swallows hard, sneaking out of the kitchen. He’s supposed to be getting his chores done, but since he believed he had another two hours to do them, he hasn’t finished any. Raphael’s voice carries throughout the house as Castiel makes his way quietly to the laundry room. His tone is tense, agitated, and Cas swallows nervously.
He’s shoving clothes into the washing machine when Raphael’s footsteps come down the hall. The door opens, and Castiel glances at him.
“Castiel?” Raphael asks calmly.
“Yes?” he replies, looking back down.
“Are you just now doing the laundry?”
It’s quiet for a moment, and all Castiel can hear is the raging of his heart against his ribcage.
“You were supposed to have that done,” Raphael says.
Cas nods, stammering, “I – I know. It’s just – you and Mom – you weren’t supposed to be home until ten. I – I thought I’d have more time."
“I don’t care,” Raphael says quickly, his voice growing louder. “And I suppose you haven’t cleaned the bathroom either.”
“No,” Cas says quietly.
There’s a beat before Raphael steps up next to Cas, his hand slamming down on top of the washing machine. Cas has just enough time to move his hands before the lid comes crashing down, creating a loud bang! that rings around them.
“I’m sorry,” Cas says quickly. He looks up at Raphael, frightened.
“I don’t care,” he repeats, and he begins to advance. Cas backs up, only stopping once his back hits the wall. Raphael lifts a thick finger to Cas’s face. “You better learn to obey me, Castiel. Or I swear to God, I will have to teach you myself.”
Cas nods quickly. “Of course. It – it won’t happen again.”
Raphael straightens up, nodding curtly.
The next morning, Cas has completely shaken the incident with Raphael from his mind. Once again, he’s focused on homecoming – which mostly means, he’s focused on going with Dean and also having to put up with all the innuendos Anna and Michael are sure to make.
He walks into first hour with a smile plastered on his face. Dean’s sitting in his usual spot, and Cas makes his way quickly to the desk in front of him.
“Hello,” he says brightly.
Dean looks up from his book – or Cas realizes quickly, his book of poetry.
“Enjoying that?” he asks smugly.
Dean smiles, and – is that a blush? “Actually, yeah,” he admits. “They’re all really interesting.”
Cas nods. “I told you so.”
“No,” Dean says, closing the book. “You said poetry was God’s greatest gift to man. I disagree – that’s sex. Or food. Or alcohol. Maybe porn.”
Cas shakes his head, trying to quell his laughter. “But seriously, there’s something I need to talk to you about,” he says once he’s calmed down.
“Yes?” Dean asks, sliding the book into his backpack.
“Well, as you know, my brother’s coming home this Friday,” Cas starts. “Which is also homecoming. I told him that we were going, and now he and my sister Anna would like to join us. Is that alright?”
Dean shrugs. “It’s fine. Sounds fun.”
Cas smiles, nodding. “Good. Though I do have to warn you – they’re . . . a lot more outgoing than I am. Michael’s very animated – he loves to joke around, and Anna tends to get easily excited about things.”
Dean grins. “Sounds like my kind of people.”
“Well, I do hope you’ll get along,” Cas says. He pauses. “They’re very excited to meet you.”
“Why?” Dean asks.
“I wasn’t lying,” Cas says, looking down for a second. “I – I’ve never really had many good friends before. They’re happy for me.”
Dean nods, then laughs almost humorlessly. “You gotta stop telling me these things, Cas,” he says, and for a second, Cas can’t tell if he’s being serious. But then he puts a hand on his chest and says in a falsely devastated voice, “You’re going to break my heart.”
Cas grins a little awkwardly, not sure how to reply. He knows Dean’s not being serious, but he can’t help but hope there’s a little truth to Dean’s words.
“But seriously,” Dean continues. “I’ll do my best to impress them – though I doubt I’ll have to try too hard.”
Cas chuckles. “Oh, I’m more worried about them scaring you off."
Dean scoffs. “Please. I’m sure I’ve seen scarier than your siblings.”
“You better wait until you meet them before you go saying things like that,” Cas replies.
The bell rings, and as Dean continues to laugh, Cas turns around in his seat, dizzy with the rush of emotions crashing down on him. He’s finding it hard to deny it anymore – he’s falling fast and hard for Dean, and Dean’s not doing anything to stop it.
Dean follows Sam into the house, letting the door slam shut behind them. Bobby’s sitting in the living room with a beer, reading the newspaper. He looks around as they come inside, rustling the paper.
“Can you boys keep it down for two goddamn seconds while I finish this article?”
Dean flashes Sam an “oops” expression – who simply ignores it. It’s been five days now, and Dean’s apologized over twenty times, but Sam is still angry with him. Dean can’t blame the kid, but he really wishes they could just get past this. He’s tired of fighting with Sam, and it’s not doing either of them any good.
After a minute or so, Bobby sets down the paper and leans back against the couch.
“Bobby?” Dean asks, leaning against the doorway.
“Uh – Friday is homecoming, and well, Cas wants me to go with him.”
“How late’ll you be out?” Bobby asks after a moment of silence.
Dean shrugs. “The game starts at seven, but I don’t know – I might go out with Cas after that. His brother’s in town and him, Cas, and their sister were all planning to stay out a little later – do something after the game.”
Bobby nods. “No later than midnight, alright son?”
Dean nods. “That’s fine. Cas and Anna’s curfew is eleven, so that won’t be a problem.”
“Well, then,” Bobby says, lifting his drink. “Have fun.”
“Thanks, “Dean says with a smile, and he turns to head back into the kitchen.
Sam’s sitting at the table, already starting on his homework. Dean grabs a can of soda from the fridge before sitting across from him. He cracks the can open and takes a drink. Sam doesn’t look up. He simply ignores Dean’s presence.
“You can’t keep ignoring me forever,” Dean says, leaning back.
“I’m not ignoring you,” Sam replies. “I just have nothing to say.”
“Well, I do,” Dean says.
“Why don’t you talk to Cas, then?” Sam says, adding a mocking emphasis on Cas.
Dean blinks, taken a back. He hunches forward, looking carefully at his brother. “Sam, I can’t read your mind, you know. You’re gonna have to tell me what’s going on.”
Sam sighs, slamming his pencil down. “I don’t even know anymore, Dean,” he says, frustrated. He shakes his head, looking away. “I just – “ he breaks off, taking a deep breath. When he talks again, his voice is quiet. “I don’t even feel like we’re brothers anymore.”
A ringing silence follows his words as Dean tries to take them in. “Sam, what – what are you talking about?”
“You keep pushing me away,” Sam says, and his eyes gloss over, filling with what Dean knows are tears. “First – right after Dad died. When I needed you most, you shut yourself away and you wouldn’t talk to anyone. And it’s just continued from there. You wouldn’t talk about it at all, and when I tried to help you, you only got angry. But then Cas comes in, and you’re fine. You talk to him about everything, don’t you? But not me. Not your own brother.”
Dean sighs, running a hand through his hair.
“Sam, I’m sorry,” he says. “I really am. I know I’ve been a really shitty brother, and there’s no excuse for that. I don’t know how to deal with Dad’s death. I don’t know how to talk about it – but yes, I have talked to Cas. Not much, and it barely helped. But Sam, I need you to know that none of this is your fault. You haven’t done anything wrong, and I’m the one who’s at fault here.” He breaks off, swallowing hard. “Sammy, I love you, and I don’t want you to feel like I don’t. You’re not losing me to grief, you’re not losing me to Cas – you’re my brother, Sam, and I promise you nothing will come between us. I’ve been distant, I’ve been pushing you away – I know – but I don’t love you any less, and I never will, okay?”
Sam nods. “Okay,” he says quietly. “And, Dean? If – if Cas is helping you, I’m glad. I want you to be happy again.”
Dean smiles, blinking against the sting in his eyes. “I’m getting there, Sam, I promise. And Cas is helping me, but so are you. You’re the one that’s been talking sense into me.”
Sam nods again. “Good.”
There’s an awkward beat before Dean stands up, making his way over to Sam. “Come on, Sammy – give me a hug.”
Sam obliges, wrapping his arms tightly around Dean’s neck.
“I’m sorry too,” he says, pulling back slightly. “I’ve been pushing you away too, and I’ve been hard on you about how you’re dealing, and I just – I’m sorry, Dean.”
“God, Sam – just stop,” Dean mutters. “We’re good, okay?”
“Okay,” Sam says, and Dean grins before leaning in for another hug.
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Well, this chapter is pretty heavy on the angst, so here's a list of warnings: descriptions of child abuse; talk of suicide, alcoholism, cancer, and homophobia; underage drinking.
Cas pulls his car to a stop, checking the clock anxiously before pulling his keys from the ignition. Michael should be arriving any minute, and Cas can hardly contain his excitement. He bolts it inside, only slowing down when he remembers Raphael is home, and things should be tense already without Castiel barging inside and irritating Raphael more.
He lines up his shoes by the door and hangs up his coat in the closet before stepping carefully into the living room. His mother and Raphael are sitting close together, talking in low voices, and Cas decides to simply ignore them and continue upstairs to Anna’s room.
She’s sitting cross-legged on her bed, reading a book.
“How can you be reading?” Cas asks as he enters. “How are you calm?”
Anna sighs, lowering the book. “Because Raphael is irritating me immensely, and I’m trying to distract myself.”
Cas nods, understanding.
“You know, just once – once, I would like to enjoy something without Raphael ruining it. I swear, if it wasn’t for you, Cas, I’d be out of here.”
Her words hit like a bullet, and guilt washes down on Cas. He hangs his head, standing very still. “I’m sorry, Anna,” he says quietly, looking back up at her cautiously.
Anna’s eyes go wide, and she sits up straight. “Oh, God, no – Cas, that’s not what I – I didn’t mean it like that.”
“It’s fine,” Cas says, waving a hand. “I understand.”
“No, honestly, Cas,” Anna protests. “It’s not your fault – it isn’t. You have to know that. I’m not here because you’re forcing me to be here. I’m here because I love you.”
Cas sighs, biting his lip. “You’re twenty-one, Anna. You’re going to college online. If it wasn’t for me, you – you could be doing so many other great things. You could have gone to Yale like you wanted. You could be living in a nice apartment with your friends, and I – I feel bad, Anna.”
Anna shakes her head, standing up. She reaches out, grabbing Cas by the arm.
“Castiel, listen to me,” she says seriously. “This isn’t your fault. If anyone’s to blame here – it’s Raphael. He’s horrible, Cas, and I would never leave you alone with him – not with the way he treats you when I’m around. If I left, I don’t – I don’t even want to think about what would become of him.”
Cas doesn’t say anything. He stares at the floor, pressing his lips together.
“Cas, come on,” Anna urges. “Forget about it, okay? Cheer up – Michael’s coming home.”
And as if on cue, the doorbell rings. Both Anna and Cas look towards the doorway, straining their ears for just a second before actually moving to the door and going downstairs. Michael and Raphael are talking in obviously forced polite voices.
“Castiel,” Michael says cheerfully once he spots them. “And Anna. Would you guys care to show me to my room? Well, Cas’s room, seeing as Raphael here stole mine.”
“Oh, now, Michael,” Raphael says tightly, “you haven’t lived here for six years. Forgive me for thinking you had no use of that room.”
“Raphael, I’m just joking,” Michael says, smiling insincerely. “Cas,” he says sharply, “shall we go to your room?”
Cas hurries down the stairs, talking Michael’s suitcase. “Come right up,” he says, beckoning his brother to follow. Michael curses under his breath all the way upstairs and slams the door once they’re safe inside Cas’s room.
“I fucking hate him,” he mutters, dropping the last of his things to the floor. “Remind me to save up for a hotel next time. Or I could just check into a sketchy motel. Whatever works.”
“Relax, Michael,” Anna says softly, resting a hand on his shoulder. “We’ve got one dinner to suffer through, and then tomorrow he and Mom will be gone until Monday night.”
Michael sighs, frustrated, and collapses to Castiel’s bed. “I’ve been here two minutes and I already want to rip his head off. This is not going to end well.”
“Take a deep breath, Michael,” Cas says, joining him on the bed. “Just bite your tongue, grit your teeth and get through this.”
“We have to deal with him every day, you know,” Anna says. “If we can get through it, you can get through a week.”
“Yeah, but you guys have built up resistance then,” Michael points out. He sighs, lowering himself so he’s lying across Cas’s bed. “Man, the only good part about these visits is you two.” He rolls over onto his side. “I swear to God, once I get that damn promotion – I’ll be making enough money so I can just bring you two to Chicago instead. That way you guys can get a break from Demon Spawn, and I don’t have to deal with him.”
Cas bites his lip, looking away from Michael. He twists his hands together, ignoring Anna’s eyes on him. She probably knows what he’s thinking, and he’s sure to get a lecture later – but he knows the truth.
If it wasn’t for him and his sexuality, there would be nothing to worry about.
Lucifer wouldn’t pay attention to him, and there would be no bullying. Raphael wouldn’t hate him, and that would mean less tension – it would be manageable. Anna wouldn’t have to stay living at home to look after Castiel, and Michael wouldn’t have to keep checking in. They could just get on with their lives. But no. Cas has to cause all of these problems and disrupt everyone’s lives. He tries not to think about, tries not to blame himself. But sometimes it just sits there, staring him in the face, and he can’t get over it.
Cas swallows hard, blinking fast.
Dinner isn’t a complete disaster. Michael manages to make it through with only a maximum of three curse words. Anna is quick to calm him down, and Cas stays silent the whole time. When it’s finally over, the three of them retreat into the kitchen, doing dishes until the front door clicks and they know Raphael’s gone – probably off to a bar somewhere.
A few minutes pass, and they venture out. Raphael’s gone, and their mother sits alone in the living room.
“Alright, I’m taking these guys out,” Michael says, glancing at her.
She looks up. “Have fun, you guys.” She smiles, and adds, “It’s nice to see you, Michael.”
There’s a heavy pause, and finally Michael says, “You too.” He returns a smaller smile before turning back to Anna and Cas, ushering them out of the house. He shakes his head, pressing his lips together. “Eight years,” he says dryly. “It’s been eight years since she started slipping and she thinks a smile and a compliment are going to fix everything.”
It’s quiet for a moment, and then Anna says, “Well, at least she’s trying.”
Michael simply grumbles as they slide into the car.
Pontiac Township High School is bustling with people when they arrive, running past cars and cramming onto the sidewalks. The football field is lit up with bright, glaring lights, and the crowd is cheering as the cheerleaders perform a rigorous routine. Lights flicker past the window of Michael’s car as they round the parking lot, finally finding an open space near the back.
The air is cold, and Cas tightens the scarf around his neck as he gets out of the car. His eyes move around, looking everywhere for Dean, but it isn’t until he, Anna, and Michael reach the edge of the parking lot that Cas finally spots him underneath a lamppost, hands in his pockets. Cas waves, smiling wide.
He looks up as they approach, returning Cas’s grin. Anna and Michael share a knowing glance.
“Hey, Cas,” Dean says casually. He looks past Cas, onwards to Anna and Michael. “You must be Anna and Michael. I’m Dean.” He approaches them, holding out his hand.
Anna shakes it politely, smiling as she does so. Michael’s a little rougher, hurting Dean’s hand slightly.
“It’s good to meet you, Dean,” he says. “I’ve heard a lot.”
Dean nods politely. “I could say the same.”
Michael laughs. “Cas never stops talking about you. Seriously, just the other day, he – “
“Okay!” Castiel cuts in. He’s blushing now, and hopes desperately that everyone thinks it’s from the cold. “We should go get our seats.”
He leads the way, Dean falling in step beside him. Behind, he knows that Anna and Michael are whispering to each other – joking around and making inappropriate comments. He looks back quickly, shooting them a glare. They smile innocently right back at him.
Once they’ve gotten their tickets and head inside the gates, Cas moves closer to Dean. It’s packed. People mill around getting concessions, moving slowly to their seats, hanging up against the fence to watch and whistle at the cheerleaders. Cas longs to reach out and grab Dean’s hand, mostly for a little security.
Usually, school gatherings make Cas uncomfortable. He tries to ditch every assembly that he can without getting caught. He never goes to sports’ games unless someone’s with him (hence Dean and his siblings). And he never joins extracurriculars that involve a lot of people. Which is why he’s in things like the writer’s club. For the most part – it’s pretty solitary.
But walking with Dean, pressed up close to him, Cas feels safe. He breathes a little easier, feeling a smile play at his lips. Dean looks over at him, grinning shyly, and his own smile blooms.
“Do you want to get something from the concessions?” Dean asks.
Cas nods. “Sure.”
They make their way over, Anna and Michael close behind. Dean orders a bag of popcorn for himself and a soda. As he pulls out his wallet, he turns, asking, “What do you want?”
Cas looks at him, surprised.
“I’m paying,” Dean says with a smirk.
“Just – just water then,” Cas says.
“That’s it?” Dean asks. “I’ll get you anything.”
Cas nods, smiling a little shyly and twisting his gloved fingers together. “Yeah, that’s all. Thank you, Dean.”
“It’s no problem,” Dean says, handing the money to the cashier.
They turn and begin walking to their seats together.
Cas can feel his heart racing in his chest, and he knows that he’s been denying it. He’s been pushing everything back and trying to get over Dean without admitting that he even has feelings for him, but Cas just can’t do it anymore. He’s falling head over heels for Dean, and he can’t shake it. He knows he’s only setting himself up for heartbreak, but right now he’s just going to enjoy the ride. Having Dean as a friend is satisfying enough, and he’ll just hope that one day he’ll grow out of this crush.
(Though that doesn’t seem likely).
The first quarter goes by without too many hitches. Anna and Michael stay quiet for the most part, but the way they stare at Cas and Dean is less than comfortable. Cas does his best to ignore them, scooting a away from Dean a little.
Halfway into the second quarter, Pontiac scores a touchdown. Cas jumps up from his seat, clapping hard and cheering loudly. Dean looks around, startled, before standing up as well, clapping half-heartedly.
“Did that frighten you?” Cas asks with a laugh.
“Yeah,” Dean admits, a little breathless. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“I figured,” Cas replies as they sit down. “You just don’t like sports, do you?” he asks with a smile.
“Well,” Dean starts. “I mean that’s not entirely true. I just don’t like watching them.”
“You play any?” Michael asks, chiming in.
Dean turns around, looking at him. “I used to play baseball,” he says. “I moved around a lot as a kid, but every town had a Little League, and I played all through middle school. Usually we moved in the fall or winter and stayed until summer, so my spring wasn’t interrupted.”
Michael nods. “Castiel’s the opposite,” he says. “He loves watching sports but he was never in any.”
“He was in gymnastics,” Anna says.
Cas turns around sharply, staring with wide, angry eyes at her, his jaw clenched.
Michael smirks. “Oh, right,” he says. “Kid’s damn flexible – that’s for sure.”
“Thank you, Michael,” Cas says pointedly.
“What?” Michael asks innocently. “I can’t chat with your friend?”
Dean presses his lips together, beginning to understand what’s going on. He turns away with a snicker, and Cas lets out a loud huff, joining him.
“He probably knows that anyway,” Michael mutters under his breath.
But thankfully he’s cut off by a loud groan from the audience as Pontiac misses a close touchdown. Cas simply puts his face in his hand, closing his eyes for a second. Michael’s quiet for the rest of the quarter, but once half time rolls around, he’s back at it.
The band starts playing the school song and as everyone stands up, singing with it, Cas announces that he’s going to the bathroom.
“If anyone would like to come – just so we can all stick together.”
“Well, I have to, but I mean – I’m guess you won’t want me with,” Michael says.
Cas narrows his eyes, staring at him quizzically. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh – I figured a couple of us were going to satisfy our needs, but you’re being serious. Got it.”
Cas’s jaw drops. “Michael, would you – that’s not even – I – “ he splutters. He turns to Dean, lowering his voice. “I’m so sorry.”
Dean laughs, patting him on the shoulder. “It’s fine,” he assures. “To be honest, I’d be doing the same thing if I was with Sam and one of his friends.”
“Yeah, but – “ Cas breaks off, shaking his head. “I’ll be right back,” he says to everyone. As he leaves, he tells Dean, “Just remember I warned you about Michael – so everything he’s pulling isn’t my fault.”
Dean laughs again, nodding. “Don’t worry. I can handle it.”
“Alone?” Cas asks, raising an eyebrow.
“I’ll be fine,” Dean says. “Just go.”
Cas heaves a deep breath, heading down the bleachers. As he walks away, he works hard to push away all the horrific thoughts that enter his mind. Leaving Dean alone with his siblings probably isn’t the smartest idea, but he figures he’d rather be gone when the heavy innuendos come out.
“So, Dean,” Michael starts, leaning forward. “I want to be serious for a minute.” He pauses, then says, “I hope you know I have been joking around. I’m definitely not being serious when I’m making those inappropriate comments about your guys’ relationship.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Dean says. “I’m an older brother. I understand.”
Michael laughs. “Good. But um – “ he pauses again, rubbing a hand on his chin. “I just – I wanted to thank you, Dean. I know Cas is probably just as crazy about this as I am, and you’re probably sick of hearing it – but it means a lot that you’re there for him. I’m not always here, and Anna does her best, but he needs a friend he can count on.”
Dean nods, a heavy sort of feeling washing over him – a mixture of sadness, confusion, sympathy. He keeps hearing this – keeps hearing how Cas hasn’t had friends, how alone he’s been, and it – to be honest, it hurts a little. Cas deserves so much more, and Dean hates how unfair the world is to him.
“Cas, he – he’s struggled a lot over the years,” Michael continues. “You know – with our dad dying, kids at school, his sexuality, Raphael – there’s been a lot of messes. And I think this is the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time. You mean a lot to him, Dean. But don’t – don’t feel like I’m trying to put any pressure on you, I just – I wanted you to know that I really appreciate what you’re doing for him.”
Dean bites his lip. He doesn’t like being treated like some sort of hero. He’s only giving Cas what the kid deserves. Dean thinks a moment before saying, “It isn’t just me, you know. Cas – Cas is the one who reached out to me,” he says.
Michael looks at him, a hint of curiosity in his eyes.
“Lucifer has it out for me too,” Dean explains. “He’s been on my back since the first day, which was when Cas first gave me some tips on how to survive, I guess.” He’s quiet for a second, and when he speaks again, his voice is a lot softer. “And – recently, my dad died. Cas has been helping me deal with it.”
Michael nods. “Well, I’m sorry to hear that, Dean.”
Dean shrugs. “Don’t be. Like I said, Cas is helping me a lot.” He smiles slightly, looking down at his lap. “He’s – he’s great.”
“He is,” Michael agrees fondly.
“And I just – I know you said you weren’t trying to pressure me,” Dean continues cautiously. “But I won’t – I won’t ever hurt him.” He lifts his head, looking right at Michael. “You said I mean a lot to Cas, and well – he means just as much to me. I’m just as terrible at making friends,” he says with laugh. He’s quiet for a second before he gives himself a shake. “Sorry,” he says. “I’m – I’m not used to talking about things like this.”
Michael smiles. “Well, like I said – I’m glad Cas has someone like you.”
Dean nods again, not sure what else to say. He sits in silence for a moment, a million questions and thoughts running around in his mind. Ever since meeting Cas, his life has taken such a different turn, and it’s been happening a lot lately – questioning things, over thinking things, etc.
“So, what are we discussing here?”
Cas has returned. He takes a seat next to Dean, ignoring Michael’s eyes on him.
Dean looks over at him with a small smile.
When the game’s over, and Pontiac’s won, Dean and Cas walk out into the parking lot with their arms around each other’s shoulders. Dean’s laughing loudly at something Cas said – who’s got a proud smile on his face.
“Oh, man,” Dean sighs as they reach his car. “I don’t think I’m ready to go home yet. I’m having too much fun.”
“I mean – you don’t have to,” Cas says, stepping out from under Dean’s arms. “It’s only nine-thirty. I have an hour and a half until curfew. Do you perhaps want to go out and grab something to eat?”
Dean nods slowly. “Yeah. Sure. That sounds like fun.”
“Michael?” Cas calls, looking over his shoulder.
He pokes his head over the row of cars. “Yeah?”
“I’m going with Dean. Is that alright?”
Michael smirks. “Use protection!” he yells – loud enough for the entire city to hear.
Cas blushes, turning away with frustration. “Once again, I apologize.”
Dean shakes his head, laughing. “Let’s just get out of here.”
They end up hitting some run down fast food joint before heading to the liquor store and buying a pack of beer with one of Dean’s fake IDs. They hop onto the hood of the impala, crack open a couple of bottles, and unwrap their burgers. They sit in silence as they eat, simply enjoying the food and each other’s company.
When they’re finished, they chuck their trash in the Dumpster behind the store and return to the hood of the impala with two more bottles of beer. They talk about school, talk shit about Lucifer, laugh about idiots like Alistair and Azazel. It’s easy, simple, falling into sync like this, and once again there’s that feeling there – that feeling that Dean could do this for the rest of his life. That feeling that if it was convenient, he’d run away with Cas right now – hit the road and explore the world.
But as the liquor keeps coming, and the night gets darker, the easy conversation and infectious laughter dies away. Cas falls quiet, and Dean can’t find anything to say. His mind is wandering, and soon it comes to sensitive topics.
Dean reaches for his bottle and takes a long swig, swishing around the beer in his mouth before he swallows. “Your brother talked to me earlier, you know,” he says suddenly. “About you.”
Cas looks over at him, raising an eyebrow. “And?”
Dean shrugs. “He just – he told me about everything you went through.” He shifts his weight, looking down at the bottle in his hands. He’s evidently finding it difficult to express his thoughts. “Cas, how – how did you do it?”
Cas stares for a moment, then shakes his head, confused. “What do you mean?”
“How’d you make it through all of that alone?” Dean asks, looking up at Cas. His eyes are bloodshot, and he’s obviously a little tipsy, but Cas can also see that he’s in pain. The alcohol has started doing the opposite of what it used to. Instead of numbing everything, it’s bringing it all to the light.
“I wasn’t alone,” Cas says simply. “I had Anna, Michael – “
“Yeah, and I have Sam, but it’s not helping,” Dean says with a humorless laugh. Tears sparkle in his eyes and he smiles to keep from sobbing. His lips shake and he shifts his weight uncomfortably. “I don’t know how do this, Cas. It’s been over a month and a half and I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
“Dean – a month and a half?” Cas asks. “That’s not a very long time. It takes years for people to grieve.”
“Yeah, and I should know that,” Dean says bitterly.
Cas scoots a little closer, resting his hand on Dean’s upper back. He rubs a few small circles before pulling back. “I’m here to listen, you know. If you’re ready to get it all out, I’m right here.”
Dean swallows hard, then lets out another sound of frustration. “I don’t even know where to begin, Cas,” he says, blinking fast. A tear escapes and he’s quick to reach up, rubbing his fingers into his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’m just a fucking mess.”
“Well, one thing at a time, Dean,” Cas says softly. “Just tell me what’s on your mind right now.”
“There’s a lot of things,” Dean says, lifting his head and looking at the expanse of stars above them. “Mostly, I just – I feel like I’m suffocating. Every time I think about my dad, I – I feel like something is crushing me. I can’t breathe, I can’t see, I just – I don’t know what to do, Cas. I don’t know how to deal with it. I just can’t even wrap my head around the fact that he’s gone. I’m never going to see him again – talk to him, see him smile, hear him laugh, and I should – I should be able to get over it. I lost my mom already. This should be easier, right?” He looks to Cas with a look of desperation, eyes filling fast with tears and lips trembling.
“You knew your dad longer, Dean,” Cas says. “It should only be logical that this would hurt worse.”
Dean shakes his head, biting down hard on his lip. “That doesn’t mean I was closer to him. Cas, I – “ he breaks off, heaving a huge, shaky breath. “I don’t even know why it hurts this bad. I don’t understand – “ Another deep breath. “I admired him so much, Cas. I looked up to him, I loved him, I cared about him so much, but he – he wasn’t a good dad. After my mom died, when he wasn’t working, he was an alcoholic. I don’t know how he switched like that. It just seemed like he always needed a distraction, and if he couldn’t be fighting or on duty, he needed to be drinking. After my mom died, he just left me and Sammy in the dust. I become the leader of the house, and I can’t – I can’t even tell you how many times I put my dad to bed after a long night of drinking. When he was shipped off, Sam was so happy. He resented Dad. But I was crushed. I guess I just – I always had this faith in him that one day he’d come home with a grin on his face and groceries in his hand, declaring that we were going to barbecue or something like that – just be a real family.” Dean goes quiet, letting the tears fall freely.
“He was a selfish son of a bitch, but I put him on a pedestal, and I still don’t know how to bring him down. I think I’m more upset that I never got to see that side to him. I was always waiting for that wish to come true, and now it won’t, and it just hurts, Cas. It hurts that he’s gone. It hurts that my parents, Sam, and me will never be a real family. And it hurts that all my dad ever did was let me down, and I’m still defending him – still insisting that he’s the world’s greatest father when I know that’s anything but the truth deep down. And God, I’m just sick of living this lie, Cas.” His voice cracks several times during the last sentence, and when he finishes, he rubs a shaky hand over his face.
“Dean?” Cas asks after a minute. “Can I – I need to be honest with you.”
Dean looks over at him, his eyes tired. “Yeah?”
“I know what it’s like to believe in someone like that,” Cas says quietly. “My mother hasn’t been the same since my dad died. She’s gotten even worse since Raphael came into the picture.” He sighs, pulling his legs up to his chest. “You know, I put my dad on a pedestal. I always thought he was invincible, and when he died, I just – it was awful.” He pauses, making a pained sort of face. “And Dean? I didn’t tell you the truth about how my dad died. I mean, he did have brain cancer, but ultimately, that wasn’t the thing that killed him
“I remember getting up one day, and it was just a normal morning. I put on the outfit Anna had picked out for me, I ate the toast she had made, and just before we left for school, I went to say goodbye to my father. But when I came into the room, he didn’t recognize me. He had no idea who I was, and it was probably the most terrifying moment during the length of his disease. That’s when we knew it was really bad. My dad was going to die, and there was nothing anyone could do. And so he left. He just got up and left. A week later, the police found his body in the muddy banks of some pond with a bullet hole in his head. He’d killed himself.”
Dean looks up abruptly, teary eyes wide.
“I didn’t find out the truth until I was twelve, and even then I refused to believe it. I didn’t think my dad would do that. I didn’t think he would leave us like that.” Cas heaves a deep breath. “Once I accepted it, I was furious. I was angry with my father for leaving me, and I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t just wait and see if he could make it through. And it took me a couple of years, but eventually I understood. I knew that he was in pain, and I couldn’t blame him anymore.
“So, Dean? Don’t worry so much about putting your father on that same pedestal. Your mother’s death must have taken a great toll of him. I mean, I do have trouble understanding my mother and her dependence on Raphael, but I completely understand why my father did what he did. The disease took too much out of him, and he just decided it best to end it all there. He was going to die anyway. I mean, I do wish I had gotten to say goodbye, but I don’t blame him.”
“You don’t blame him for abandoning you?” Dean asks, his voice thick with tears still.
Cas shakes his head. “No. Not at all.”
Dean nods. “I guess I can’t blame my dad either. He did try. He made sure Sammy and I knew that he loved us, and he was never abusive or anything like that. He was just – he was like me. He didn’t know how to deal with my mother’s death like I can’t deal with his.”
“But you will, Dean,” Cas says, resting his hand on Dean’s shoulder. “I think now that you’ve got all that confusion and frustration out, you’ll be able to grieve properly.”
Dean wipes a hand across his nose, sniffling. “Thank you, Cas. Honestly.”
“Of course,” Cas replies.
It’s quiet for a few minutes, and as Dean gets control of his breathing again, Cas checks his watch.
“Shit,” he hisses, hopping down from the hood of the car.
“What?” Dean asks, following.
“I’ve got to go home,” Cas says urgently. “It’s past curfew.”
“Oh, man, I’m sorry,” Dean says. He walks around to the driver’s side door. “Come on, get in – I’ll take you home.” He hops in, and Cas joins him.
As Dean pulls out of the parking lot, Cas reaches over, grabbing onto his arm.
“Dean? None of this is your fault, you know?”
Dean stops short, thinking for a second too long. “Yeah, I know.”
It’s just past midnight when Cas creeps into the house, the buzz of alcohol wearing off. Inside it’s dark, quiet. He expects everyone’s asleep. Anna and Michael certainly seemed worn out when they left him with Dean, Mom probably went to bed early, and Raphael’s probably passed out somewhere in the streets. Cas laughs at that thought of that as he shrugs out of jacket.
Cautiously, he steps into the living room. He goes as silently as he can, not wanting to wake anyone up. But when he reaches the bottom of the stairs, he realizes the kitchen light is on. Thinking it’s Anna or Michael, he walks over to the doorway. His breath catches in his chest once he registers Raphael leaning against the counter, a bottle dangling from his fingers.
“Castiel,” he says calmly, and he takes a swig. “You’re late.”
Cas swallows hard, taking a step back. “I know. I didn’t – I lost track of time.”
Raphael shakes his head, chuckling dryly. “That’s no excuse, Castiel. I thought we had this discussion the other day. You’re to obey me, Castiel.”
“Honest, Raphael – it wasn’t my intention to disobey you. I didn’t know what time it was.”
Cas is shaking now, heart beating rapidly in his throat.
“I told you,” Raphael says slowly. He sets his drink down, standing up straight. He moves forward, stepping up to Cas. “I told you that if you didn’t learn to obey me, I’d have to teach you myself.” His breath is heavy with the scent of alcohol, and Cas turns away.
“Look at me!”
Before Cas can even react, there’s a sharp pain in his cheek, and Raphael is breathing harshly, holding his hand up. Cas’s eyes go wide as he reaches up involuntarily, suddenly registering that Raphael just hit him.
“Oh,” Raphael says in a low voice. “That got your attention.” His eyes sparkle malevolently.
“Please,” Cas gasps. “Raphael, please don’t – “
His hand comes down, slapping Cas a little harder. This time his head bangs against the wall, and he lets out a whimper.
“Shut up,” Raphael hisses, and Cas obeys. He reaches out, gripping the collar of Castiel’s shirt tightly in his hands. “Now you listen to me, you fucking disgrace.” He gives Cas a shake for emphasis. “I’m the head of this house now, and as long as you infect this place with your presence, you’ll do as I say, you got that?”
Cas can barely breathe. His pounding heart feels like it’s stuck in his throat, blocking his airway. He can’t get his vocal cords to work, so he simply nods his head.
“Good,” Raphael says, a sick smile curling his lips. He lets go of Castiel with a shove, throwing him against the doorframe. He leaves the room, stumbling down the hall.
Cas lays there for what feels like hours, the steely taste of blood in his mouth. At some point he begins to sob, but soon it begins to hurt and he stops. He curls into a ball, closing his eyes. As he drifts off, he feels someone carrying him. Somewhere in his mind he knows that it’s either Michael or Anna, bringing him upstairs to his bed, but a panic still arises in his chest, staying with him while his dreams are haunted by Raphael.
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
Well, hopefully this chapter makes you feel a little better about the angst. Warnings include: talk of child abuse, depression, and bullying.
It’s a rainy day, the sound of it pitter-pattering on the roof. Cas lays curled up in bed, soup and water untouched on the night stand. There’s no visible physical damage from where Raphael hit him, but his head is pounding, and he’s seemingly gone mute. He refuses to talk, though Anna and Michael have been trying their best to get it out of him.
Right now, Anna’s sitting cross-legged at the end of his bed, and Michael’s at his desk. They look at each other, communicating through glances and a few mouthed words. Anna turns her head, looking at Cas carefully.
“Cas?” she asks softly. “Are you sure you don’t want to eat?”
“I’m not hungry,” Cas replies quietly.
“Cas, you haven’t eaten all day,” Michael urges.
Cas sighs heavily. “I don’t feel well. Can you guys please just leave me alone? I’m not ready to talk about everything yet, okay?”
Anna nods, heaving a deep breath. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m just – we’re worried, Cas. I mean, we find you curled up in the kitchen, crying in your sleep with blood on your lips, and what are we supposed to think?”
“Give me time, Anna,” Cas says tiredly. “I’m okay, alright?”
“You’re not,” Michael argues. “It’s one o’clock on a Saturday and you’re in bed with no intentions to get up. Do you know how out of character that is, Cas? Let alone the fact that you won’t talk to us.”
“And your phone’s been going off all day,” Anna adds. “You haven’t answered a single one of Dean’s texts or phone calls. Considering he’s your best friend, you at least owe it to him to let him know you’re not dead or simply angry with him.”
Cas groans, rolling onto his back. “I told you,” he says. “I don’t feel well; my head is throbbing. And Anna, could you possibly do me a favor and call Dean – tell him that I’m sick?”
“You’re not sick, Cas,” Michael says. “You’re scared and upset, and I think Anna and I have a right to know why.”
Cas swallows hard, looking away from his brother. “Michael, please don’t push me.”
“Cas, I’m not trying to push you,” Michael says gently. “I just want to know what’s going on. I want to know why I found you on the floor last night looking like Lucifer had just taken a shot at you again. I want to know why you’re making yourself sick with anxiety. I want to know why you won’t talk to me or Anna or Dean.”
“We want to know because we’re worried, Cas,” Anna says softly. “The last time something happened like this was when Lucifer outed you to Raphael. And that wasn’t nearly as bad as this. Just talk to us, Cas – let us know you’re not going to do anything stupid.”
“Anna, I – “
“We’re not trying to make you uncomfortable,” Michael says. “We’re just – we’re worried sick here. We weren’t there last night, and the last thing we knew was that you were safe with Dean. Something happened, and whether it’s Lucifer, Dean – though I doubt it is – Cas, you don’t normally act like this.”
“I know. Michael – “
“We only want to help, Cas,” Anna says. “We don’t like seeing you in distress like this. We just want to understand what’s going on so we can try and fix this. We just want you to feel better, Cas, and the only way that’s going to happen is if –"
"He hit me, okay?!” Cas says loudly, interrupting her. This has been pent-up inside him all day, and he’d rather just finally get it out than have his brother and sister keep pestering him. He’s breathing heavily, blinking fast as the tears fill his eyes. “He hit me, then grabbed me and threw me against the wall.” A sob escapes his lips on the last word, and he collapses in on himself, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist.
Anna and Michael exchange wide-eyed looks before they both move forward, sitting on either side of Castiel. Anna wraps an arm around Cas’s shoulders, pulling him close. He leans his head on her shoulder, crying hard.
“I – I was late for curfew,” he sobs. “I came home, an – and he was drunk. I – I could smell alcohol on his b – breath.” He takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself. “I t – tried to explain to him. I – I didn’t know what time it w – was, but he didn’t care. He just got so a – angry. So up – upset, and he slapped me. I reacted, and he – he did it again, only harder. I smacked my h – head on the wall. And before he l – left, he grabbed me and threw me against the doorframe.”
He lets out a string of sobs and buries his face in Anna’s chest. She reaches up, putting her hand against the back of his head.
“I was so s – scared, Anna,” he chokes out. “I d – didn’t know what to do. So I – I just lied there.”
“And that’s when I found you,” Michael says quietly. “Oh, Cas – I’m – I’m so sorry.”
Cas doesn’t answer. He only cries harder.
“What are we going to do?” Anna asks in a low voice.
“I don’t know.”
“Is there any way we could live with you, Michael?”
“No,” Cas says quickly, lifting his head. “No, Anna, I – Raphael will just come find me. And I – I can’t leave Dean.”
“Cas,” Michael says seriously. “If Raphael is abusing you – “
“He’s not,” Cas says. “It was one time. He was drunk.”
“Cas, he’s been terrorizing you for months,” Anna says. “It’s not – it’s not safe here.”
“Please,” Cas says, shaking his head. “Anna, I can’t – I don’t want to leave yet. Just – please, can we wait it out? If things get worse, we’ll go to the authorities, that way he can’t get to me when we do leave.”
Anna looks nervously to Michael, biting her lip.
“Cas, if it gets any worse,” Michael says warningly, “we’re getting you out of here straightaway. We can’t be messing around with something like this. I don’t care if you are in love with Dean. You’re not putting your life on the line for this kid, okay?”
Cas nods, swallowing hard.
Suddenly, something buzzes somewhere near them. Anna looks around her, reaching out when she spots Cas’s phone tucked in between the covers.
“It’s Dean,” she says, glancing at the Caller ID. “You want me to talk to him?”
“No, I’ll take it,” Cas says.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Cas replies. “Can – can you get me some Advil or something similar?” he asks. “My head is killing me.”
Anna nods, beckoning for Michael to follow her. She hands Cas his phone, and he plucks it from her hand. He answers it quickly as Michael and Anna leave. “Hi, Dean.”
“Cas?” Dean asks, sounding out of breath.
“Oh, thank God,” Dean says, relieved. “I’ve been trying to get ahold of you all day – what the hell’s going on?”
“I’ve been in bed,” Cas says quietly.
“Why?” Dean asks, immediately sounding worried.
“I’ve just – I’m tired,” Cas says. “There’s a lot on my mind, and – “ he breaks off, feeling very overwhelmed all of the sudden. “I can’t sleep, Dean. I’m too anxious, and I just – I wish I could. I wish I could just shut my mind off.”
“Cas, what’s going on?” Dean asks, his voice shaky.
Cas swallows hard again, blinking against the burn in his eyes. “I can’t tell you.”
“You’ve gotta give me something,” Dean urges. “I’ve been worried all day, Cas. And – and now you’re telling me all of this?”
“I’ll be fine, Dean,” Cas assures. “I’m just stressed out. That’s all.”
“You sound a little more than stressed,” Dean says quietly.
“Dean – “
“Do you want me to come get you?”
Cas stops short, confused. “What?”
“I don’t have anything to do today,” Dean says. “It’s raining – we could just chill out and watch movies at my place if you want. You sound like you need to take your mind off things.”
Cas is quiet for a second. “Okay,” he says softly. “Yeah, that sounds wonderful, actually.”
“Good,” Dean replies. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
The line cuts off, and Cas drops his hand, shutting the phone off. He hangs his head, fighting the sobs that threaten to rip him apart. He wants Dean to be here now – to take him away and make him remember what happiness is. He wants to fall sleep in Dean’s arms, drifting off into a real sleep. And he wants to wake up next to Dean and feel better.
He knows none of that will happen, but spending the day with him is a start.
Anna stands in the doorway, a bottle of Advil in her hand. She freezes, eyebrows knitting in concern. Cas breathes a shaky breath as he lifts his head to look at her. Without a word, she throws down the bottle of pills on Cas’s bed before wrapping her arms around him tightly and holding him close. They’re quiet until Cas finally finds his voice to speak.
“Dean is coming to get me,” he says quietly. “I’m going to spend the day with him at home.”
“Okay,” Anna says, straightening up. She keeps an arm around Castiel’s waist and reaches up her other hand to smooth his hair down. “Are you going to be alright, Cas – I mean obviously not right now – I just mean at Dean’s? You still seem so shaken."
Cas nods, wiping his nose on the sleeve of his sweatshirt.“Dean thinks I need a distraction, and I agree.”
“Well, if it helps,” Anna says with a shrug. She leans forward, pressing a gentle kiss to Cas’s forehead. “Come on – I’ll help you freshen up before Dean gets here.”
As soon as Dean hangs up, he’s rushing downstairs, barely remembering to grab his jacket from the end of his bed as he hurries to get out the door.
“Bobby?” he asks, skidding to a halt in the kitchen.
He looks up lazily.
“I’m going to pick up Cas. He’s coming over, alright?”
“Whoa, whoa,” Bobby says. “How about you ask me first?”
“I would’ve gone to get him either way,” Dean says honestly. He pauses, heaving a deep breath. “Bobby, something’s wrong. Cas isn’t – he’s not himself.”
“What do you mean?” Bobby asks.
“I don’t know,” Dean sighs, running a hand through his hair. “I do know that something’s really messed him up – just not what it is.”
“Well, have you tried talking to him?” Bobby asks.
Dean bites his lip, looking away for a second. “I don’t know how. I guess – I guess I’ll figure it out on the way there.”
“Don’t worry about it too much, Dean,” Bobby says gently. “I’m sure Cas’ll tell you what’s going on when he’s ready.”
Dean nods, reminding himself to breathe. “You’re right. Thanks, Bobby.”
Dean heads out the door, pulling the keys from his pocket. He crawls into his impala and starts it up, still fighting to calm himself. Pulling out of the driveway and onto the long, twisting road, he takes a deep, soothing breath. He’s going to see Cas within minutes; everything will be fine.
As Dean merges onto the highway, the rain slashing violently against his windows, a dangerous train of thought starts chugging through his mind. Again, Lucifer’s words start ringing through his mind, this time joined by Michael Milton’s innuendos and heartfelt words of appreciation. Without warning, Dean starts to think that maybe there’s some truth to this situation after all.
He thinks about Cas and all the time they’ve been spending together – studying, walking through the park, going to movies – and he fills with this warm sort of feeling. He feels lightheaded and dizzy, but in a good way, and it starts to dawn on him that this is really happening. His heart races in his chest, and his breath comes short, but there’s nothing he can do now, is there? He thinks he might be falling for Cas, and honestly, – he can’t tell if that’s good or bad.
Quickly, he pushes the thoughts from his mind. He’ll deal with his feelings some other day. Right now, Cas is upset, and he needs Dean. If there really is something to work out in the prospect of something more than friendship, they’ll do it when Cas is feeling better. Giving himself a shake, Dean presses his foot down harder on the gas.
It takes a good twenty minutes to reach Cas’s house, and as soon as Dean pulls the impala to a stop, the panic starts up again. He takes a few deep breaths before getting out of the car and rushing up the pathway to the front door. He rings the doorbell and waits there anxiously, rocking on the balls of his feet as the rain falls down around him.
It’s Anna who opens the door, a smile on her face but her eyes bloodshot and tired.
“Hello, Dean,” she says brightly.
“Hey, Anna,” he says.
“Come on in – it’s pouring,” Anna says, pushing open the door farther, letting Dean step inside.
As soon as the door shuts, Dean looks up to find Cas standing at the bottom of the stairs, arms crossed tightly over his chest. He’s dressed in the same clothes from the night before, except he’s swapped out his blue button up for a sweatshirt. His face is pale, eyes dark, and his hair is messy.
Dean feels a frown form on his lips and his eyebrows dip in sadness. “Cas?” he asks gently. “You okay?”
Cas nods, walking forward slowly. Dean follows, and in a second, he’s got his arms around Cas, hugging him tightly. Cas flinches a little at first, but finally, he sinks into Dean, wrapping his arms awkwardly around Dean’s waist. They stay like that for a minute or two – just holding themselves together.
“Come on,” Dean says, pulling way and wrapping one arm around Cas’s neck. “I’ve got a whole stack of hilarious movies waiting for us.”
Cas forces a smile. “Then we should probably be going.”
“You got everything you need?” Dean asks, and Cas nods.
“I’ll see you later, Anna,” Cas says, looking over at her.
She smiles sincerely. “Have fun, you guys.”
As they turn to leave, she catches Dean’s eye, sending him a look that simply says, “Thank you.”
He smiles shyly back – “You’re more than welcome.”
He lets go of Cas as they walk outside to the car, but it doesn’t change the fact that his heart is racing about a million miles a minute in his chest.
When they step through the front door, Sam is sitting at the kitchen table, reading. He looks up as Cas and Dean step inside. His eyes move straight to Cas, who stares shyly back.
“Hey, Sam,” Dean says, shrugging out of his jacket. “Uh – this is Cas. Cas,” he says, looking back, “this is my brother, Sam.”
“Hi,” Sam says, smiling.
“Hello, Sam,” Cas says, forcing a grin. “I apologize for my appearance. I don’t usually look so . . . disheveled.”
Sam shrugs. “It doesn’t really bother me. Not when I have a brother like Dean – who has no problem walking around in his underwear.”
Dean laughs awkwardly. “Ha – that’s enough, Sam.” He shoots a glare at his brother, walking over to the fridge to grab a can of soda. “Want one, Cas?” he asks over his shoulder.
Cas crosses his arms over his chest again. “Oh, no thank you.” He turns away, staring off into space. He’d look thoughtful if it wasn’t for the glassy eyes and slightly raised eyebrows. Mostly, he looks distressed.
Sam leans back in his chair, turning his head towards Dean. “Is he okay?” he asks in a low voice. “He seems a little . . . distracted.”
Dean sighs, cracking open his soda. “He’s not – he’s got a lot going on. Kind of why I brought him here.”
Sam nods, straightening up.
“We’ll be out here if you need us, Sam,” Dean says, walking back over to Cas.
They head out of the kitchen, walking into the cozy living room. Cas sits down carefully on the couch, curling up against the armrest. Dean puts his soda on the table before crouching down and grabbing the stack of movies from the shelf space under the coffee table.
“You ready to laugh your ass off?” Dean asks, grinning up at Cas.
“I guess,” Cas replies, and his smile looks positively strained.
“Cas, do you want to talk?” Dean asks, dropping his cheery act.
“Not really,” Cas says quietly.
“You just seem so upset,” Dean says. “I wish there was something I could do.”
“You are doing something,” Cas argues. “Now put in a movie and join me on the sofa.”
Dean hesitates. “You sure?”
“Positive,” Cas replies.
Dean nods, standing up. He’s still extremely worried about Cas – he looks so lost, so out of it – but Dean doesn’t want to push him, so he starts up the movie and joins Cas on the couch. As the first scene begins, Dean sneaks a glance at Cas. He’s watching the screen, but he doesn’t seem to be taking anything in. Dean feels his heart shatter, and he wants to reach out, but he doesn’t. He simply turns his eyes back to the TV.
They day passes in a rush as they sit and watch stupid movies like Happy Gilmore and Dumb and Dumber. Cas laughs a few times, but for the most part he’s quiet. By the time the pizza arrives for dinner, Dean realizes they haven’t made any progress. Cas is still just as sullen, and he’s beginning to look more distraught by the minute.
It’s ten o’clock by the time they finish Napoleon Dynamite, and Cas doesn’t look a bit happier. Bobby comes into the room as the credits start rolling.
“Boys, it’s getting late,” he says. “You think Cas oughtta be heading out?”
Dean looks over to Cas, who’s suddenly gone wide-eyed.
“Cas?” he asks carefully. Dean grips his arm gently, surveying his face. “What’s wrong?”
Cas takes a deep breath, shaking his head. “It’s just – I don’t want to go home. Not yet. Everything’s still fresh, and I – I – “
“Hey, it’s okay,” Dean assures, giving his arm a pat. “I’ll talk to Anna, okay? Tell her you’re spending the night. Bobby?” he asks, looking up. “Is it okay if Cas sleeps over?”
Bobby nods. “You can crash in the guest room, Cas.”
Dean shuts off the TV and stands up. “Let’s go, Cas. We’ll find you some of my clothes to wear to bed, and I’ll call Anna, alright?”
Cad nods, following after him absently. Dean looks back, glancing at him as they head upstairs. He seems so far gone, his mind in a different place entirely, and it’s scaring the shit out of Dean. He bites his lip, looking away.
In Dean’s room, they find a pair of sweatpants and an old T-shirt for Cas to wear. He grabs the clothes with a word of thanks, and Dean heads out of the room to allow him to change. Once he’s in the hall, Dean pulls his cell phone from his pocket, dialing Anna’s number quickly.
She answers on the first ring, sounding nervous. “Hey, Dean. Is he doing okay?”
“He wants to spend the night,” Dean says.
“That’s – that’s fine,” Anna assures. “But, how’s he doing?”
Dean sighs, heading into the bathroom and shutting the door. “Not good, Anna. It’s like he’s hardly there.”
Anna’s quiet for a second, her breath heavy. “God, I don’t – I don’t even know what to do. He’s never been like this – not this bad.”
Dean reaches up, scratching his head. “Anna, what’s going on?”
“I’m not at liberty to say,” Anna replies. “Not if he doesn’t want to tell you. I’m sorry, Dean.”
“Just – can you tell me what it has to do with?” Dean asks. “I’m worried out of my mind here, Anna.”
It’s a long, uncomfortable moment before Anna finally says, “Dean, it’s just – it’s not something easy to talk about. But I – I’m starting to think Cas is depressed. Or well, I guess I knew he was – back when Lucifer bullied him the most. Over the summer, things got better, but he’s starting to backtrack, I think.”
“Why?” Dean asks, trying to calm the panic rising inside of him.
“I don’t know,” Anna says tiredly. “Stress, maybe? There’s a lot of things that could be causing it – I’m just not sure, Dean.”
“It’s – it’s fine, Anna,” Dean says, rubbing a hand roughly across his face. “I mean, Cas’ll tell us when he’s ready, right?”
“Yeah,” Anna agrees. “In the mean time, though, we’ll just do our best to be there for him.”
“Right,” Dean says. “Well, I’ve – I better go, Anna. He’s waiting for me.”
“Alright,” Anna says. “Thank you so much, Dean.”
He sighs. People have really got to stop doing that.
“It’s no problem,” he says. “I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”
Dean hangs up his phone, hunching over and dropping his head. He takes a long, deep breath, trying to prepare himself. Dean knows what depression is – he saw it in his father, and recently, he’s seen it himself. And you know, he still got those problems to deal with, but right now, Cas needs him, and that’s where he’s going to focus his attention.
With another deep breath, he stands up and exits the bathroom. Cas is sitting on the edge of his bed when he enters the room.
“I talked to Anna,” he says, crossing over to join Cas on the bed. “She says it’s fine you stay here.”
Cas nods, not even looking up.
“Are you okay?” Dean asks.
He waits, but Cas says nothing.
“Cas?” Dean asks.
He doesn’t answer.
Dean leans forward, looking carefully at Cas. His eyes are out of focus, his frown seemingly carved into his skin.
“Cas?” Dean asks again. “Cas, you’ve gotta tell me what’s going on. I can’t help you if you won’t.”
Cas closes his eyes, shaking his head. “Dean, I – “
“What?” Dean asks, moving his face a little closer to Cas’s. “Cas, you can tell me.”
“No, I – I can’t,” Cas says, his trembling voice nearly a whisper. “Dean, you – I just – “ He breaks off, taking a deep, shuddering breath, but it doesn’t help any. He’s on the verge of sobbing when he speaks again. “All you need to know is that lately, I’ve – I’ve felt so worthless. I feel so hopeless all the time, Dean, and it’s only been getting worse.” Tears fall down his cheeks and he lets out a small sob, hunching forward and reaching up to cover his mouth with his hand.
And there it is – Anna’s right.
“Hey, hey,” Dean says gently, grabbing his wrist. “Cas, you’re not worthless, okay?”
“You’re just one person, Dean,” Cas replies. “There’s a world out there that disagrees.”
“You don’t know that,” Dean urges. “Cas, just listen to me, alright? You’re not worthless. In fact, you’re really important to me. You mean so much to me, Cas. And nothing’s going to change that.”
It’s quiet for a second while Cas stares down at his lap, trying to find a way to reply. Dean observes him, taking in the glassy look of his eyes, still glistening with tears. His pink, pouty lips still turned down into a frown. His hair sticking up in all directions. He looks so small in Dean’s clothes – his sweatpants too long and his T-shirt too broad in the shoulders.
And God, there’s so much pain radiating from him. So much hurt showing in the lines of his face, the hunch of his shoulders, the twisting of his hands. In turn, it hurts Dean. It grips his heart and makes him nauseous. He doesn’t like seeing Cas like this; he hates it, and he just wants to see Cas smile again.
Before he knows what he’s doing, Dean’s placing his hand carefully against Cas’s cheek, lifting his face. He moves forward and presses his lips lightly to Cas’s. Cas is startled at first, but carefully, he begins kissing back. Dean’s lightheaded and his heart might explode, but it feels good. It feels right. The movement of his lips, the touch of Cas’s skin underneath his fingertips, the shaky breath he inhales against Cas’s mouth – it’s like puzzle pieces falling into place, and all of Dean’s doubt falls away. It’s only been a few seconds, but it’s felt like a lifetime, and Dean would take a lifetime more of this.
Slowly, Dean pulls away, eyes fluttering open. They’re both quiet for a minute – the only sound is their ragged breathing. Eventually, Cas looks up, studying Dean’s face.
“Did you just - ?” he asks.
Dean nods, swallowing hard. “I’m sorry, Cas. I – “
“Don’t be sorry,” Cas says quickly. “I enjoyed it.”
Dean blinks. “I did too.”
“Dean?” Cas asks quietly.
Cas opens his mouth, but no sound comes out. He sighs, shaking his head. “I’m really tired,” he says. “Would you – would you mind if I slept in here tonight?”
Cas moves over carefully, getting underneath the covers. He lets out a shaky breath as he lowers himself into the pillows. Dean watches him, smiling sadly.
“You can come closer if you want,” he says.
Cas caves, scooting up right next to Dean. Dean holds his arm out, inviting Cas to lie against him, and Cas obliges, resting his head on Dean’s chest. He closes his eyes and after a minute, lets out a sigh of contentment. His lips curl into a small smile, and he says, “Goodnight, Dean.”
Dean sighs, leaning his head against the wall. “Goodnight, Cas.”
He grins and sinks down further into the bed. In just a few minutes, Cas is asleep, breathing softly. Dean looks down, admiring him. At last he looks peaceful, and Dean breathes a little easier. He’s still not sure what exactly is going on, but he knows especially now, that whatever it is, they’ll get through it together.
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
So this gets a little NC-17-ish at the beginning, be warned.
Castiel wakes to the gentle glare of late morning sunlight in his eyes. He’s a little dazed, a little disoriented at first. The bed feels different, and that’s definitely a body underneath him. He lifts his head, squinting up at the person’s face, and that’s when it hits him.
This isn’t a dream.
He fell asleep curled up next to Dean last night.
In Dean’s bed.
After they kissed.
“Good morning,” Dean murmurs.
“We kissed last night.”
Dean chuckles, reaching down to wrap an arm around Cas. “We did.”
Cas sighs, letting a sleepy smile form on his lips. He stares at Dean for a second, taking in the exact color of his eyes and the pattern of his freckles. “What does that mean for us, Dean?”
Dean’s eyebrows knit together. “What does that mean? Well, when you kiss someone Cas, it usually means that you’re attracted to them, and that – “
“No, no,” Cas says quickly. “I mean – you and I, Dean – are we a couple?”
“What, do you like, want me to ask formally or something?” Dean asks, smirking.
Dean rolls his eyes. “I was kidding.”
“Fine, I’ll do it myself,” Cas says. He clears his throat, and then says in a deep voice, “Cas, will you do me the honor of being my boyfriend?”
“Honor?” Dean asks with a laugh, raising his eyebrows.
“Yes,” Cas says defiantly. “It’s just how I imagined it, alright?” He feels a blush immediately crawl up his neck and coughs awkwardly. “I mean – come on, Dean. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about how this would go.”
“I did actually,” Dean admits softly, catching Cas off guard.
He blinks, surprised. “Wait – you did?”
“Yeah,” Dean says quietly. “You’re – you’re really great, Cas. Something special.”
Cas blushes, biting back a smile.
Dean laughs before leaning forward. “You’re so cute when you’re shy,” he murmurs against Cas’s lips before kissing him.
It only makes Cas blush more as he kisses back. Dean gets a little rougher – pulling himself up and swinging his leg over Cas so that he’s straddling him. He grips Cas’s face tightly, and as Cas responds heartily, he reaches up and entangles his finger’s in Cas’s hair.
“God, why did we wait so long to do this?” Dean whispers in a hurry as they come up for air. “You taste so good.” He sucks lightly on Cas’s bottom lip before shoving his tongue in Cas’s mouth. Cas meets him, and after a second Dean draws back, allowing Cas to trace Dean’s lips with his tongue. He stops after a a long moment and pulls back, just looking at Dean.
“What?” Dean asks self-consciously.
Cas shakes his head, smiling shyly. “Nothing,” he says. “I just – it’s hard for me to believe this is happening.”
“Why?” Dean asks, straightening up – though he probably knows why
(Because Cas’s didn’t even have friends. Because Cas didn’t think Dean could love him like this. Because Cas didn’t think he could be loved at all).
Cas shrugs. “Well, for one I thought you were straight, Dean.”
Dean laughs and moves from his place on top of Cas. He slides up next to him, pressing their bodies close. “Yeah, I did too,” he says, still smiling. “But I guess my heart had other ideas.”
“I’m glad it did,” Cas says softly, eyes tracing every last detail of Dean’s face.
They’re quiet for a moment, simply drinking in each other and the realization of their situation. Dean lets out a sigh as he stares at Cas’s face, admiring the bright blue of his eyes, the flush of his cheeks, the stubble lining his jaw. This attraction is still so new and so strange, but Dean wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“You wanna go get breakfast?” he asks, looking back to Cas’s eyes.
Cas smiles, the thought of that domesticity making his heart pump a little faster. “Sure.”
After breakfast, they cuddle on the couch for a little while, reveling in the new sensation of being together. They watch the morning news and sit in silence for the most part, hyper-aware of their bodies so close together – Cas resting against Dean’s chest again, and Dean’s arms wrapped firmly around his waist.
By noon, Cas is thinking about Anna, deciding reluctantly that he should probably get back home to her and let her know that he’s alright. He’s more than alright. He’s amazing.
Cas throws on his pair of jeans, but as soon as Dean’s back is turned, he quickly throws on his sweatshirt over Dean’s shirt. He knows Dean won’t mind, but it’s not like he has to make it known that he’s stealing Dean’s clothes, right?
"You ready?" Dean asks.
Cas nods, grabbing his coat from the end of Dean’s bed and tugging it on. He follows after Dean as they head outside, wishing Sam and Bobby goodbye on their way out. They climb into the impala, and Dean turns on the radio to a classic rock station, singing along under his breath. Cas watches him with a smile on his face, finding it positively adorable.
Sensing eyes on him, Dean looks over, catching Cas’s gaze. “What?” he asks.
Cas shakes his head, looking forward. “Nothing,” he says. “It’s just – “ he laughs slightly. “Yesterday, I felt awful. It was probably the worst I’d felt about myself and my life in a long time. And you kissed me, and it all seemed to disappear, and I just – I don’t know what I did to deserve this.”
It’s quiet for a second, and then Cas’s feels a hand covering his own. Fingers entwine with his and he looks up to see Dean smiling somewhat sadly at him.
“Cas,” he starts, sounding almost exasperated. “Would you please stop getting down on yourself for three friggin’ seconds?”
Cas presses his lips together, going silent.
“You need to stop doubting yourself,” Dean continues. His eyes move back to the road, but his hand stays firm in Castiel’s.
They stay like that for the rest of the ride – hand in hand while Cas lets his mind wander and Dean sings along quietly to the radio.
When they arrive at Cas’s house, he turns to Dean, untangling their fingers.
“Dean? Could you do me a favor?”
“Yeah?” he asks as he pulls the key from the ignition.
“Don’t tell Anna anything,” Cas says, a small smirk on his lips. “I think I want to wait – torture her a little bit.”
Dean nods, understanding. “No worries, Cas.”
Once inside, they exchange a glance and a snicker before leaving the doorway. Anna’s in the living room, sprawled out on the couch as she flips through a magazine. She looks up as their footsteps echo across the hardwood floors.
“Cas?” she asks, sitting up straight. “I didn’t even hear you come in.” She throws the magazine to the coffee table before standing up, crossing the room, and pulling Cas into a bone-crushing hug. She lets go after a second our two, cupping Cas’s face in her hands. “How are you feeling, Cassy?”
“Better,” he replies, trying to squirm out of her grip. “And don’t call me ‘Cassy.’”
Anna smiles, ruffling his hair. “You love it.” She turns to Dean next, her smile growing wider. “You planning to stay awhile, or do you have other obligations?”
He glances at Cas before answering. “Other obligations, I’m afraid. But I’d stay if I could.” It’s true – he’s got loads of homework, and Bobby’s been urging him to go job-hunting. He’d much rather stay with Cas – just a little longer – but he deserves some time with his siblings.
“Ah, that’s too bad,” Anna says. “But you’re welcome any time.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Dean replies. “I’ll see you guys later.”
“Goodbye,” Anna replies, following after him as he heads back to the front door.
He opens the door and looks back a second, smiling warmly at Cas. “Text me, alright?”
Cas nods, grinning wide. “Of course, Dean. I’ll talk to you later.”
Dean winks before heading out and closing the door behind him.
“There’s something you’re not telling me,” Anna accuses, her eyes flickering between Cas and the front door Dean disappeared through.
Cas bites his lip, joining her gaze and imagining he can see Dean, his boyfriend, walking to his car. He smiles, holding back a laugh as he heads for the kitchen.
“Cas,” Anna says warningly, rushing after him.
“What’s going on?”
Michael’s sitting at the bar, eating lunch and reading the paper.
“I don’t know,” Anna admits. “But I’d better find out before I set you on Cas.”
Michael turns to look at Cas, raising an eyebrow. “Cas, what’s going on?” He looks back to Anna, confused. “Good or bad?”
“Good,” Cas assures, opening the refrigerator and pulling out a bottle of water.
“Oh, God – come on, just tell me, Cas,” Anna groans.
“Fine, fine,” Cas says, taking a drink of water. “He kissed me, alright? Dean kissed me last night.”
The resulting scream is ear-splitting, and Cas is surprised all the glass around them didn’t shatter. Before he can register what’s happening, Anna’s got her arms around him, hugging him tightly and jumping up and down.
“Anna! Anna, you’re choking me! Anna!”
She lets go, still squeeing.
“I told you he wasn’t straight!” she says excitedly.
Michael hunches over, covering his face with his hands and shaking with laughter.
Cas hangs his head, heaving a sigh. “Is that all you have to say?”
“No, no, no,” Anna says quickly, her eyes alive with excitement. “Oh, God – Cas, you have tell me exactly what happened. What was going on when he kissed you?”
“Well,” Cas says, sliding onto the stool next to Michael. “It was right before we went to sleep. I – I was tired and emotional and I just started letting everything out. Before I knew what was happening, Dean was kissing me, and I was kissing back.”
Anna lets out a squeak.
“Then we slept together. Not sex,” Cas says quickly, catching Michael’s raised eyebrow. “We just slept in the same bed. Or really – I slept on Dean. And when we woke up, we kind of settled everything and decided that we are in fact, boyfriends.”
Anna squeals one last time and Michael pats him on the back, saying, “Congratulations, Cas. Dean’s a great kid, and I couldn’t be happier for you.”
Cas smiles. “Thanks, Michael.”
“No problem,” Michael replies. “And just remember – use protection. We don’t need any pregnancy scares.”
The next two months are pure bliss. Dean and Cas fall easily into the relationship – as if it was simply fate, as if they were just meant to be (and after those first eight weeks, both of them are pretty sure they are). There’s nothing difficult about being in love (if that’s what they are); it feels like it was made for them.
Things won’t always be this easy – they know.
But for now, they’ll enjoy it.
On Halloween night, they have their first time.
Bobby’s taken Sam and his friends out trick-or-treating, driving along in his truck as the boys race from door to door, snickering and scaring people along the way. Dean and Cas stay back at the house, keeping candy ready just in case anyone dares to venture out into the middle of nowhere for some crazy reason.
They’re cuddled on the couch, and Dean’s got the bowl of candy in his lap. He rifles through the mix of sweets, picking out all the chocolate. Paranormal Activity is playing on the TV, and Cas buries his head in Dean’s shoulder every time one of the night scenes starts.
“Really?” Dean asks, looking down at him. “It’s not even that bad, Cas.”
Cas looks at the screen through his fingers just as Katie gets up and stands over her sleeping husband. He quickly shuts his eyes again, saying, “Yes it is.”
Dean laughs, wrapping an arm around Cas and pulling him closer. “Do you want to shut the movie off?”
“What?” Cas asks. “No, no – I can handle it.”
Dean laughs again. “No, I mean – so we can do something else.” He leans down and kisses Cas softly, sucking on his bottom lip for just a second.
Cas pulls back, smiling shyly. “I think this is a fine replacement for the movie.”
“Good,” Dean says, reaching blindly for the remote. Once he finds it, he quickly turns the TV off while simultaneously pushing Cas back against the couch and straddling him.
Cas reaches up, gripping Dean’s shoulders, and slowly, he moves his hands downward, feeling the muscles of Dean’s chest tense underneath his fingers. He flattens his palms against Dean’s pecs and kisses him fiercely. Dean lets out a groan, working his tongue into Cas’s mouth. Cas responds by reaching one hand up and entangling his fingers in Dean’s hair. He gives a pull, and Dean lets out a small growl before moving his lips to Cas’s neck, where he sucks gently. Cas arches his back, his breath coming fast.
As Dean continues to kiss and nip at the soft skin of Cas’s neck, he reaches down, tugging at the hem of Cas’s shirt. He runs his hand along Cas’s abdomen, feeling as the muscles go taut. He grips the insides of Cas’s shirt and begins pushing them up, trying to get it off. Cas reaches down to help him, smiling against Dean’s lips when they finally get it off. Dean’s next, and he nearly rips his shirt off in haste.
Cas reaches for Dean’s belt next, but Dean stops him.
“Cas?” he asks warningly. “Are you sure about this?”
“Yes,” Cas replies, breathlessly. He can feel his erection bulging against the inside of his jeans, and he needs Dean now.
“Well – wait,” Dean says, pushing himself up. “Let’s go upstairs. I’ve – I’ve got condoms, lube in my – my sock drawer.”
Cas grins. “You’ve been preparing for this?”
Dean smiles back before leaning in for a quick kiss. “Of course. Come on – let’s go.”
Once upstairs, they waste no time and getting rid of the rest of their clothes. But as soon as they’re exposed, everything slows down. They take a moment to admire each other, memorizing every line and every angle.
“You’re beautiful,” Cas breathes, and Dean tries and fails to hide a blush.
Cas smiles wide and pulls Dean close, kissing him roughly, and then moving to down to kiss his neck, his collarbone, back up to the skin just below his earlobe. Dean squirms underneath him, his hips giving an involuntarily thrust. Cas responds, grinding their hips together and creating a satisfactory friction. Dean takes his turn, going a little harder. And it’s just like that for a minute or so – the two of them rutting against each other, simply getting used to it.
After that minute, Dean goes a little further – carefully, he wraps a hand around Cas’s cock. Cas gives a shudder, but doesn’t object. Dean strokes him carefully a few times, and Cas’s hips buck up involuntarily.
“Dean – “ Cas pants. “Dean, I think I’m ready. Can we – can you - ?”
“All the way?” Dean asks.
Cas nods, swallowing hard.
“Hey,” Dean says quietly. “Don’t be nervous, okay? I’ve got you. It’ll be fine.”
Cas nods again, unsure what to say.
“I won’t hurt you,” Dean continues. “I promise, Cas.”
And he keeps true to his word. He goes slowly, making sure Cas is alright. Only when Cas asks harder, faster does he do so. It’s awkward, and it’s complicated, and they’re not really sure what they’re doing, but it’s amazing. They fumble, and they have a little trouble keeping control, but when Cas finally comes with a cry, Dean following soon after, it’s one of most incredible things. To have that connection, to be so intimate and close to each other – it’s insane. But at the same time, just like their first kiss, it feels right.
They don’t stop there either, as the night continues on, and the it grows darker and quieter around them, they continue to explore, mapping out every inch of each other in their minds. They test things – the way their lips feel on this patch of skin, and on this one. They way it feels to thrust there and there and like that. How it feels to have pressure there, and that’s where it feels best. They learn each other in completely new ways, and as the minutes stretch to hours, they realize that this is how it’s probably going to be from now on – continually learning new things about each other, trying different things together, growing together – in all things; not just sex.
It’s a crazy concept, but it’s also wonderful.
By the time they fall asleep side by side, they’ve realized this is only the beginning. Dean’s learned that he really likes the feel of Cas’s hipbones against him, and Cas’s learned that Dean’s lips are probably the softest things he’s ever felt – and not just against his own. Dean’s learned that there’s a spot just behind Cas’s ear that makes him shudder when Dean kisses it, and Cas’s learned that the inside Dean’s thighs are probably even more sensitive than that weakspot. And there’s more than that – more that they learned tonight, and more that they have yet to discover.
Uncovering each other like this, tearing away every last layer – it makes them feel so much stronger, and so much more sure that this relationship isn’t just some casual thing.
After tonight, Dean and Cas are sure this is love.
“I like my body when it is with your body,” Cas murmurs as he curls into Dean’s side. He’s got his head resting on Dean’s shoulder and his arm draped over Dean’s chest. “It is so quite a new thing.”
“Hmm?” Dean asks, looking down at him with tired eyes.
“Muscles better and nerves more,” Cas continues. “I like your body. I like what it does. I like its hows. I like to feel the spine of your body and its bones and the trembling firm-smooth-ness and which I will again and again and again kiss. I like kissing this and that of you. I like slowly stroking the shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes over parting flesh. And eyes big love-crumbs, and possibly I like the thrill of under me you quite so new.”
Dean stares at him for a second, obviously not comprehending.
“The poem,” Cas explains. “On page twelve of the book. The e. e. cummings poem.”
It takes Dean a second, but he makes the connection, grinning when he does.
“Oh, yeah,” Dean says, recalling it. “I liked that one.”
Cas laugh softly, then presses a kiss to Dean’s shoulder. “Goodnight, Dean.”
Dean sighs, content. “’Night, Cas.”
Before they know it, Thanksgiving rolls around and it’s their six-week anniversary (though it feels like it’s been much longer than that). Cas is stuck with Raphael’s family, while Dean spends the day with Sam, Bobby, and town’s sheriff, Jody – who Bobby may or may not be dating.
Cas stays quiet all throughout dinner, not daring to utter a single word in fear of pissing Raphael off by “embarrassing him.” He doesn’t talk to anybody when dinner’s over, trying to blend into the background as everyone talks and laughs.
Finally, around nine o’clock, the adults make their way out to the back patio, sending the kids upstairs. Cas then relocates to his room, sitting on his bed and scrolling through the texts he’s sent to Dean today. Most of them are sarcastic comments about Raphael, but there are a few sappy ones that have slipped through.
There’s a gentle knock on Cas’s door, and he looks up to see Anna standing in the doorway.
“How are you doing?” she asks, stepping inside.
Cas shrugs. “I’m bored, really.”
Anna nods. “Well, you know – I was just thinking – everyone out back is already drunk. They’ll be completely hammered pretty soon. So if you wanted to sneak over to Dean’s house, I’m sure you could get away with it if you come back before dawn.”
It takes Cas a second to understand what she said, but soon enough, he’s dialing Dean’s number, saying, “Hold on – let me discuss this with Dean.”
Anna smiles, shaking her head and going to sit on the end of Cas’s bed.
Dean answers on the first ring. “Hey – what’s up? You okay?”
“I’m fine,” Cas assures. “I was just wondering if it would be inconvenient for me to come over right now.”
“Right now?” Dean asks. “Hang on a second.” His voice grows quiet and muffled, but Cas can make out a few things – “ . . . Cas come over? . . . with Raphael . . . yeah.” There’s a scuffling sound, and Dean says. “Yeah, Bobby says it’s fine.”
“Great,” Cas says. “I’ll be over there as fast as I can.”
“See you soon,” Dean replies before hanging up.
Cas shoves his phone in his pocket and stands up, suddenly hesitating. “What if I get caught?”
“You won’t,” Anna says. “I’ll cover for you.” She stands up, joining him, and hands him a pair of keys. “Take my car. It’ll be less conspicuous that way.”
Cas nods, taking the keys. He hugs Anna quickly, thanking her.
“Of course,” she replies, pulling way. “Go have fun – okay, Cas?”
He nods again, smiling.
Slowly, quietly, the two of them make their way downstairs, making sure they don’t run into anyone. All the adults seem to be out back still, leaving the front door safe. Cas opens and closes it carefully, not wanting it to creak. Anna’s car is parked across the street, and Cas jogs to it, looking around to make sure he’s alone. No one sees him, and soon enough, he’s on his way to Dean’s.
The house is alive with light when Castiel arrives. He can make out the silhouettes of Bobby and Sam in the window, and immediately, a smile spreads across his face. Cas hops out of the car and walks up to the familiar house, feeling like he’s coming home. Dean opens the door before Cas can even knock and kisses him quickly before pulling him inside.
“Cas is here,” he announces as they walk into the kitchen. Bobby, Sam, and Jody are all sitting around a table filled with half-empty dishes. Food lines the counters around the room, and even after they’ve all eaten, there’s still enough to feed them for a week.
“Hey, Cas,” Sam says brightly.
Cas nods, grinning. “Sam.”
“So, you must be the boyfriend,” Jody says, holding out her hand. “Dean hasn’t stopped talking about you all day.”
Cas shakes her hand, laughing when he catches Dean blushing and rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. He leans over, whispering, “Don’t be self-conscious, Dean. I talk about you nonstop as well – just ask Anna. I’d talk about you more if Raphael wasn’t the way he is.” Dean smiles, grabbing Cas’s hand for just a second.
“Guys. Guys, we’re still here.” Sam’s looking at them with raised eyebrows. “Save the sappiness for later.”
“We were just getting ready to play cards, Cas,” Jody explains.
“I’ll be whooping everybody’s ass at poker,” Dean adds, sitting down.
Cas smiles again, taking the seat next to Dean.
It’s a long night. Dean keeps his promise and beats everyone at poker twice. Sam kicks ass at blackjack, winning everything back from Dean. Although it appears Jody’s been hustling everyone, because during the last few blackjack games, she bankrupts them all.
Cas hardly tries to play, he simply sits back and watches everyone. He admires Dean mostly, but everyone else in this mixed-up family is really starting to grow on him. He’s got a soft spot for Sam, and both Bobby and Jody entertain him. Jody’s sweet when she’s not being sarcastic, and she tries to keep Cas included.
The few hours he spends with them are much better than the whole day he spent with his own family, and Cas hopes they can keep up things like this – weekly game nights or family dinners or both. Maybe he could even bring Anna along, or Michael if he’s in town.
At the end of the night – or well, one in the morning – Cas kisses Dean goodbye before heading out and going home. He slips back inside without a hitch (everyone is still awake and drinking out back), and cuddles with Anna in his room.
It’s really starting to hit him – that one relationship has changed his life so much.
The first snow falls three days after that. It accumulates fast, and Dean’s snowed in – which in turn, cancels the date he’d made with Cas. Instead, they’re forced to text all day.
At around two o’clock, Dean goes outside and makes a snow angel. He sends of picture of it Cas –
i’m so bored i’ve started making snow angels. but this one reminds me of u
Because of the Angel of Thursday, right? How original, Dean.
i was trying to call u an angel cas. i’m trying to flirt here.
Well, that’s not going to work on me unless you use proper grammar and spelling.
oh so we’re taking shots at my texting again are we?
i’ve been texting u like this for two months cas. u should be used to it
I’ve been trying to change that habit every day. You should be used to that.
I’m going to make a snowman now.
There. Are you happy?
i’m not that’s too much work
Well, that was nice while it lasted.
okay sam’s getting angry that i’m not helping with the snowman. text u in a few
Cas smiles as he puts his phone back down. He’s currently curled up in his bedroom with a mug of hot chocolate and a book. He’s gotten twenty pages by the time another text shows up, a picture attached. It’s a half-finished snowman, and instead of having a carrot and stones as eyes and a nose, Dean’s placed them strategically on the bottom of the snowman – a penis and balls.
Cas rolls his eyes, shaking his head, texting back –
Wow. Clever, Dean.
oh come on it’s funny
Only because it’s you.
wait what’s that supposed to mean?
are you making fun of me?
i’m going to break up with you
Dean, calm down. I was just reading. The chapter was very engaging – I had to finish it.
of course my apologies
Oh, are you making fun of me now?
Cas laughs before putting his phone back on his bedside table. It continues on like this all day – Dean texting Cas everything he does. When he’s shoveling, when he’s drinking hot chocolate, when he’s forced into watching Harry Potter with Sam. Cas finds it all sort of endearing.
Especially, when around eight, Dean texts –
i’m reading and something made me think of u
no i’m reading ur poem book
Well, then I assume that alone would remind you of me.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Cas stares at the text for a long time. Word for word – one of his favorite poems, and it reminds Dean of him. He feels his throat closing up, his eyes stinging. His heart races in his chest.
Dean, I don’t know what to say.
u don’t have to say anything
Cas holds his phone in his hand, sitting still. His mind is going haywire. That poem – it’s just – it’s a beautiful poem. It’s always been one that Cas has adored, and he’s had it memorized for years now. He’s thought about so many times, over and over. The meaning changes every time he reads it and really thinks about it, but overall it’s always remained a poem about love.
Cas texts Dean back, feeling the tears pricking at the back of his eyes.
because i love you)last night
clothed in sealace
appeared to me
your mind drifting
with chuckling rubbish
of pearl weed coral and stones;
your face smile breasts gargled
by death:drowned only
again carefully through deepness to rise
these your wrists
thighs feet hands
to again utterly disappear;
rushing gently swiftly creeping
through my dreams last
night,all of your
body with its spirit floated
(clothed only in
the tide's acute weaving murmur
It takes Dean awhile, but eventually, he texts –
did we just say “i love you” in poems
I think we did.
Cas is grinning like an idiot when his phone vibrates, DEAN flashing across the screen. He answers, nervously saying, “Hi.”
“Hi,” Dean replies.
It’s quiet for a beat before Cas says, “Yeah?”
“I – I just figured I should really say it,” Dean says. “So – I love you, Cas.”
Cas’s smile practically splits his face, and he hangs his head, laughing slightly. “I love you too, Dean.”
Dean laughs too, sounding practically elated. “Well, I’ve got to go – Bobby called me for dinner about five minutes ago. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay? See if we can’t make up that date.”
“Okay,” Cas replies, a little breathless.
They hang up, and both of them sit for a good five minutes, trying to comprehend what just happened. It’s always been there – the fact that they love each other, but saying it out loud feels like such a different meaning. It’s almost surreal, to say it like that. To have the other hear it and return it and mean it.
They’ve known, but now they know.
Things definitely aren’t easy.
Cas and Dean don’t always get along perfectly. They’ve still got their own problems to deal with, and bad days can spark stupid fights, but they’ve said it and they mean it – they love each other.
Their problems aren’t disappearing. Dean – he’s working through the pain of losing his father. He talks to Cas, and he talks to Sam, and he’s doing a lot better. Cas – well, things with Raphael haven’t gotten any better, but they haven’t gotten any worse.
Yeah, life sucks, but when they’re with each other, it’s easy to forget the bad things.
Chapter 9: Chapter 8
I just really need to thank those of you supporting me on this fic. I've said before - this is my first Destiel multi-chapter, and you guys are making it so much fun and rewarding for me.
Warnings for this chapter include: allusions to child abuse, homophobia, and violence
On December 5th, Raphael loses a promotion.
On December 6th, Dean starts to notice a few things.
He notices the bruises around Cas’s wrist when he goes to hold his hand. He notices the tension between Cas and Anna when he brings Cas home. He notices how quiet and still the house is, and how carefully Cas walks inside. He won’t kiss Dean goodbye, but Dean doesn’t linger over it. He simply tells Cas to text him until they can see each other again in the morning.
He goes back to his car, crawls inside, and just sits there for a moment. He runs a hand through his hair as his mind starts going. After a minute or so, he gives himself a shake, pushing back the worried feeling that’s settled in his stomach.
Huge, heavy flakes come down fast outside the steamy windows of the café, but Cas and Dean are safe inside, sitting across from each other as they drink hot chocolate and talk about a whole list of things, smiling, laughing, joking. It’s one of the few dates they’ve had.
They’re not big on dates. Not the ones where they go out to a fancy restaurant, or to the movies, or even cute little cafés like this. They’re not big on sitting across from each other or next to each other, sharing compliments and getting all mushy. They’re not big on holding hands and sharing chaste kisses and acting like a stuffy, old, rich couple.
They like goofing around and having lazy days together. They like quick, passionate kisses and desperate sex in closets and slow, drawn-out sex in Dean’s bed. They like family game nights with Sam, Bobby, and Jody – and Anna those few times. They like cuddling up and watching 80’s movies on the shitty television in the living room. They like that comfort and that simplicity of just being with each other. It’s all they need, really.
Cas lets out a sigh as he leans back in his seat, stretching. He checks his watch as he hunches over again, frowning.
“Let me guess,” Dean says. “You’ve gotta get home?”
Cas nods. “Unfortunately. I’ve got a lot of things to do tonight.” Before Raphael gets home, he adds in his mind.
Dean heaves a sigh as he stands up. “I do too. I haven’t even started that project for Physics.”
They head to the impala, and once again, Dean feels that nervous sensation in the pit of his stomach. He glances at Cas, noticing how pale he looks today – which accentuates the shadows under his eyes. It seems like every day there’s something new for Dean to notice, and it’s never something good.
“Cas?” he asks. “Are you okay?”
Cas stares at him, confused. “I’m fine, Dean.”
Dean nods, a little awkward. “Okay, I was just checking. You just look . . . tired.”
Cas shrugs. “I am. My workload’s been pretty heavy lately and it’s cut back on my sleep.”
Dean wants to say something else, wants to double-check, because that feeling hasn’t gone away. But he has to trust Cas, let Cas tell Dean the things he wants when he’s ready. So instead, Dean gives a small nod and opens the passenger door for Cas, and as they drive to Cas’s house, he reaches over and grabs hold of his hand, letting Cas know the he’s there – always, no matter what.
Cas gives Dean a quick kiss goodbye, doing his best to put on an act of happiness. He lets his lips linger just a little longer, pulling away slowly before going up the path to the front door.
He’s halfway inside when he realizes Raphael’s car is in the driveway.
And he hasn’t done any housework today.
Because he’s been with his boyfriend.
“Anna, go away.”
She steps into the bathroom anyway. “Cas, just let me see it.” She reaches out, but Cas slaps her hand away.
“I’m fine,” he says through gritted teeth. “Just go away.”
“No,” Anna says simply.
Cas lets out a noise of frustration. “What do you want? Look, I’m fine – okay? The bruising isn’t even that bad.”
“Not yet,” Anna replies. “But it’s going to be. And how are you going to hide that, Cas? I know you’ve been hiding everything else. I saw the bruises on your arms while we were washing dishes the other day. Cas, you can’t keep hiding everything – especially from me.”
“Anna, it’s none of your business,” Cas snaps back. “You’re not the one with the bruises.”
“Cas, what is he doing to you?” Anna asks, taking a step closer to him. “And when is he doing it? Because tonight was the first time I’ve seen him hit you since the first time. I know he’s hurt you a lot more than twice.”
Cas says nothing.
“He’s doing it when I’m not with you, isn’t he?” Anna asks. “When I’m busy doing something else. What – does he just take you out back and beat you? Cas, you’ve got to tell me what’s going on.” She looks at him carefully, searching his expression.
“I don’t have to tell you anything,” he says quietly.
“You’re right,” Anna says, softly, pressing her lips together. “But you should tell me, Cas. I’m only trying to protect you.” She waits a beat, and heaving a sigh, continues, “Cas, you can’t let him treat you like this. You can’t just sit back and take it. You don’t deserve this.”
“You don’t understand,” Cas says, shaking his head.
“Then help me to,” Anna says, reaching out to place a hand on his shoulder.
He shrugs her away harshly. “You’re just going to overreact,” he says.
“Overreact? Overreact? This is serious, Cas,” Anna says, raising her voice a little. “I don’t care if you’re self-conscious or prideful or whatever – you promised me. You promised me and Michael that if things got worse, we’d get out of here.”
“Yeah, that was before,” Cas mutters. He takes his hand gingerly away from his face, looking carefully in the mirror. He grimaces when the pain stabs him sharply.
“Before what?” Anna asks. “Before you surrendered to Raphael? Before you let your judgment be impaired? Or – before Dean? It’s Dean, isn’t it, Cas?”
Cas says nothing. He looks down at the floor, twisting his fingers together.
“He’d agree with me, Cas,” Anna says quietly. “If he knew what was going on, he’d want you to go. And if he didn’t, well – then he wouldn’t be worth it. No one’s worth your safety, Cas.”
“Dean’s not going to find out,” Cas says slowly. “You’re not telling him Anna, and neither am I. I’m not worrying him with this. He’s got his own problems to deal with.”
“Cas – “
He stalks past her, heading for his room. “I mean it, Anna. Not a word.”
Dean’s sitting in the library, completely immersed in Physics work when Cas approaches him. He doesn’t even hear the footsteps at first. It takes him until Cas’s slender legs reach his peripheral vision to even realize he’s there.
“Hey, Cas,” he says, scribbling down one last sentence. “I’ve just got to finish this first draft and then we can – “ he stops short as he looks up, catching sight of Castiel’s eye. It’s swollen halfway shut, the eyelid and the skin around it a dark purple. “Oh my god,” he breathes. He shoots up out of his seat, reaching out to cup Cas’s face carefully in his hand. Cas flinches, but doesn’t pull away. “Cas, oh my god – what happened?”
It takes Cas a second to answer, but at last he mutters, “Lucifer.”
Dean feels his blood boil for a second before he realizes something doesn’t add up. “But I’ve been with you – last night and I – I didn’t give you a ride today,” he says, trailing off as it hits him.
“It was right after I arrived this morning,” Cas explains, nodding. “Right before first hour.” He swallows hard, watching Dean carefully.
Dean’s jaw clenches as he places his hands on his hips. He presses his lips together, bringing up a hand and rubbing his fingers against his mouth. It feels like there’s a tornado inside him - a tornado made of anger, resentment, sadness, and an overwhelming sense of protectiveness.
“I’m gonna skin that son of a bitch,” he says, shaking his head. He turns around, balling up one of his hands into a fist, the other pushing against his rolled-up knuckles.
“Dean,” Cas says gently. “Dean, don’t worry about it.”
Dean turns back, eyebrows raised. “Don’t worry about it?” he asks incredulously. “Cas, how can I – for God’s sake, look at your eye! Cas, I’m not just gonna stand by while my boy – while you get harassed by Lucifer.” Dean blushes at his slip-up. They’ve been keeping their relationship low-key at school, not wanting to spark anything more from Lucifer – though that looks like it’s gone to waste.
“I’m handling it, Dean,” Cas says sternly.
“Yeah, it really looks like it,” Dean retorts, voice loaded with sarcasm.
Cas sighs heavily. “Dean, I’m serious. You don’t need to get involved – I’m fine. I promise.”
“Lucifer’s not just going to stop,” Dean protests. “Cas – “
“I can handle it,” Cas says sternly, reaching out to place a gentle hand on Dean’s arm. “Please, Dean.”
Dean sighs, looking away from him for a second. “I just want him to keep his hands off of you,” he says in a low voice. “I want him to stay the fuck away from you. This – this isn’t right, Cas. You can’t just sit and take it.”
“You think I am?” Cas asks with a smirk. “He could’ve done a lot worse, you know. But it’s only the eye, isn’t it?”
Dean raises an eyebrow.
“Trust me,” Cas says. “I am definitely not sitting and taking it. Lucifer isn’t getting off that easy. Plus, every time I mention Michael, he backs off. He snuck up on me this morning – that’s all.”
Dean chews on his lips, thinking for a minute. “You sure you’re okay, Cas? I mean, I don’t want to cause more trouble for you, but – “
“I’m fine,” Cas says with a nod, and he forces a smile.
“Well, come on,” Dean says, turning away. “I think we’ve pissed off the librarian.” He looks nervously to over where she’s sitting behind her desk, eyes narrowed behind her glasses.
Cas chuckles slightly, following Dean back to the table he’s working at.
Castiel looks up and down the hallway, checking for any students or staff before he heads into the bathroom. Once inside, he looks inside all of the stalls before he goes to the sink and splashes water in his face. He leans heavily against the counter, staring into the mirror.
He looks like crap; he really does. His skin is pale, almost a sickly grey color – which just emphasizes the startling purple of his eye. His good eye is bloodshot, with a dark shadow underneath it. His hair is a messy – standing up in all directions from all the times he’s run his fingers through it today. He exhales roughly, hanging his head.
Keeping everything from Dean is harder than he thought, but the thought of telling Dean almost makes him more anxious. Mostly, it’s the lying. It’s the sneaking around and trying to hide the bruises and putting the blame on Lucifer that makes it hard. He doesn’t like lying to Dean; it kills him, but it’s not like he can just come out and tell Dean the truth. He knows Dean will overreact like Anna did, and he doesn’t want to give Dean more reason to get himself in trouble. He said he’d handle everything on his own, and he means it.
But still – pretending to be fine – it’s exhausting. He’s been hiding every bruise he can. All the ones on his arms, on his back, on his side and legs. Like Anna pointed out, the black eye is the only thing he hasn’t been able to hide so far, and it’s completely nerve-wracking to have all eyes turned toward the blaring thing on his face.
He just wants to disappear.
He wants all of this to go away. He wants to crawl into a hole and never come out. Lately, he’s just been drowning in all of this fear and anxiety. He doesn’t see a way out of this. It’s too late now. He’s too afraid that if he says something, anything, to anyone, Raphael will figure out some way to get him back and continue torturing him – in ways that are a lot worse.
And more than that – he’s embarrassed. He’s embarrassed that this whole thing is happening. He’s embarrassed because he’s that big of a disappointment that Raphael feels the need to take out his anger on him. He’s embarrassed because he can’t handle this on his own.
Not that he’d ever tell anyone that.
Cas straightens up, looking in the mirror again. He fixes the collar of his shirt and straightens his tie. He combs his hair quickly with his fingers, taming it a little. He forces a smile onto his lips and stares at himself for a just a few seconds more before turning and heading out of the bathroom. His fingers freeze on the door handle, but he gives himself a shake and pushes through.
Dean just doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know how to approach Cas, how to talk to him, how to help – but he wants to. He doesn’t like seeing Cas like this – so unlike himself. He’s withdrawn, restless, distant. His smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes like it used to. And his eyes – well, now his good one – they don’t sparkle anymore; they’re dull.
Dean lets out a sigh, folding his arms across his chest and then reaching up to press his fingers against his mouth. He’s starting to get restless himself. He wants to get out, leave school and find Cas. He wants to take Cas back to his house and wrap himself around him. He wants to kiss Cas senseless and just make him feel good, make him feel better. He wants to work out all that sadness that seems to be enveloped inside Cas.
But mostly, he just wants to know what’s going on.
Lucifer’s a part of this – that much he knows. But that’s all he knows, and it’s killing him. It’s killing him that Cas won’t talk to him, that Cas won’t let Dean be a part of this. It’s killing him to know that something is tearing Cas apart, and there’s not a thing Dean can do about it.
As soon as the bell rings, Dean makes his way swiftly back to his locker, looking around for Cas before he exchanges books between his locker and his bag.
“Hey, Dean,” a drawling voice says as a hand clamps down on his shoulder.
He turns around, anger flaring up inside him. “Get your filthy hands off of me,” he says through clenched teeth.
Lucifer raises his eyebrows, crossing his arms over his chest. “Or what? You really think you could take me, Dean? With these two right behind me?” Alistair and Azazel take a step forward, and as the seconds pass this situation feels more like something from a cheesy coming-of-age movie.
Dean would roll his eyes, but he’s too pissed off. “Yeah,” he replies. “I think I could. I’m the one with motivation here.”
Lucifer looks confused for a brief second. “You’re not making any sense, Winchester.”
“Oh, really?” Dean asks, reaching back and slamming his locker shut. “I know what you did, Lucifer. And you can probably guess that I’m not happy with it.” He throws his bag to the floor, taking a step forward.
“Oh,” Lucifer says, understanding. He smirks. “You’re talking about your boyfriend’s shiner, aren’t you?”
Dean starts slightly at the word ‘boyfriend,’ briefly forgetting that Lucifer’s joking and nobody at school actually knows.
“Hate to break it to you, kid,” Lucifer continues, “but I had nothing to do with that. Wish I had, though.”
“You’re a liar,” Dean snarls. “A filthy, pathetic liar.”
Lucifer laughs; he actually dares to laugh. “Whoa, Dean, buddy. Calm down. I’m only telling the truth. I haven’t bothered your boyfriend in weeks. He doesn’t react like you do – it’s not as much fun. Doesn’t mean I don’t get a kick out of roughing the disgusting fag up every once in awhile, though. Don’t get me wrong there, Dean.”
Dean lunges forward, giving Lucifer a shove. Alistair and Azazel move in on Dean, but he doesn’t pay any attention to them. “I told you not to call him that,” he growls. “And I know you’re lying. Who else would’ve given Cas that?”
Lucifer shoves back, slamming Dean against the lockers. “Why don’t you ask yourself that, Dean? Because I have no idea. But when you find out, tell me, will you? I’d like to thank them.”
Dean breathes heavily, grinding his teeth together and glaring at Lucifer as hard as he can. “You’re not fooling me,” he says. “You’ve got it out for Cas. Everyone knows that. You have something to do with this, and I swear I’ll make you admit it.”
“You won’t though,” Lucifer says, advancing on him. His eyes sparkle mischievously. “You can have a shot at me all you want, but you won’t get anything but an eye to match your boyfriend’s. I haven’t done anything, Dean, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner we can finish this.”
Dean makes another lunge, swinging his fist at Lucifer’s face. His hand meets air as Lucifer backs away, and he stumbles. Lucifer laughs again, along with Alistair and Azazel.
“Oh, look at you, Dean,” he sighs. “So blinded by anger and resentment. I bet that’s always been a problem for you.”
“I’m not blinded,” Dean retorts. “I’m the only one who can see just how awful you are. Unless we’re counting yourself. Then that makes two of us.”
Lucifer freezes. “What are you talking about?”
“You’re trying to get in my head,” Dean replies. “Well, I can get inside yours too. You’re just a bitter, whiny child, aren’t you? Just like your namesake.”
Lucifer grins. “You’re not the only one with motivation now, Dean. I’m fully prepared to kick your ass.”
Dean laughs. “Then bring it on, Luci. I’ll hand it right back to you.”
“Just like your fag boyfriend handed it back?” Lucifer asks, grinning wider.
Dean makes a move, punching Lucifer square in the jaw. Lucifer takes a second to straighten up after the blow, and that’s his mistake.
“Hey – stop it! Lucifer, cut it out!”
Both Lucifer and Dean turn as a girl comes rushing down the hall.
Lucifer groans, rolling his eyes. “Of course,” he mutters.
“Can’t you ever just leave people alone?” the girl asks. “I swear to God. You’re more trouble than your worth – I don’t know what Bela sees in you.”
“I could question your taste in guys just the same,” Lucifer replies acidly.
The girl takes a step forward, and in one, quick motion, knees Lucifer right in the balls. He lets out a yelp as he falls to the ground, hands going straight to his groin. Alistair and Azazel rush to his side.
“Leave Dean alone,” the girl practically spits in his face. “Cas as well, or Ash will hear about it. Michael Milton isn’t the only guy around here that hates your putrid guts and would like to beat the shit of you.”
Lucifer lets out an obnoxious groan in return.
“Are we clear?” the girl asks.
“Crystal,” Lucifer chokes out, somehow managing a cocky smirk.
“Good. Then have a nice day,” the girl says sweetly before stepping over Lucifer and continuing down the hall.
Dean stares after her for a long moment, completely awestruck, before he has enough sense to pick his bag up off the floor and hurry out of there.
Chapter 10: Chapter 9
Warnings for this chapter include: allusions to child abuse, homophobia, and bullying.
Wind howls around the house as Dean sits curled up in his room, Cas’s poetry book open on his lap. He puts his cheek in his hand, staring out the small window. It’s been a week since they’ve had a real conversation. It’s been longer since Dean’s seen Cas smile or laugh honestly. It’s tearing Dean apart.
Mostly, he just misses Cas. He misses driving to and from school together, radio cranked up loud, Dean singing along while Cas laughs at him. He misses kissing Cas softly on the door steps, and roughly in his bedroom. He misses doing homework together and getting distracted. He misses lounging around and cuddling up on the couch. He misses texting Cas when they’re apart, alternating between stupid jokes and heartfelt comments.
Snow falls fast and steady outside Dean’s window. He lets out a sigh, rubbing a page of the book between his fingers. He moves his hand up, pressing his forefinger against the corner of the pages, pulling them up and letting them fall. He continues for a few seconds more before shutting the book and setting it on the desk in front of him, and then pressing his fingers against his mouth in irritation.
He stands up from his desk suddenly, swiping his phone up. He checks his messages, letting out a noise of frustration when he sees: NEW MESSAGES: 0. He curls his fist around his phone, grinding his teeth together. Drawing his arm back, he gets ready to chuck it across the room, and that’s when it vibrates.
Dean’s heart leaps to his throat as he pulls it back down, clicking open a new text from Cas.
All it says is, “Goodnight,” but it’s enough to calm him down and fill him with relief. He sends a quick reply before chucking his phone lightly on his bed. He sits down next to it, rubbing the back of his neck before slumping over.
He’ll figure out exactly what is going on eventually.
Anna takes a wet cloth to Castiel’s back, moving gently over the cuts and bruises. He grimaces as she makes contact, his muscles tensing up. Anna lays a hand on his shoulder, saying, “It’s alright, Cas. Deep breaths.”
He hangs his head forward, trying to relax. But that’s not something that comes easy lately. Between Raphael and school and maintaining normalcy with Dean, it feels like his life is falling apart at the seams. Raphael continues getting harsher, which in turn makes it harder to focus in school and get all his work done, which in turn puts Dean on the backburner. Cas knows Dean’s been getting suspicious, and he keeps telling himself that he’ll make a better effort to make Dean think he’s okay, but it never happens.
He doesn’t even want to think about what Dean’s reactions will be. (Hurt first and foremost at the fact that Cas has been keeping things from him. Anger, probably. And no doubt he’ll completely lose his mind at Raphael). Cas shakes the thoughts from his head, his attention drawn back to the pain of Anna cleaning his wounds.
He sucks in air through his teeth, shutting his eyes tight.
“I’m almost done,” Anna promises, her fingers shaking a little. At last she pulls away, dropping the rag on the counter. “Do you want the gauze still?” she asks, and Cas nods.
“I don’t want anything to get infected,” he says. “That would only lead to more suspicion. I can’t afford having anyone else call Raphael about me.”
Anna bites her lip as she unrolls the length of gauze. “Hold your arms up,” she instructs, and Cas does so. She starts wrapping just underneath Cas’s armpit, pulling the strip all the way around his torso and wrapping it back around. She covers all the way down to the small of his back, the last of the scratches secure underneath the gauze. “There you go,” she says quietly, securing it all with medical tape.
Cas lowers his arms carefully, and grabs his shirt. He winces as he pulls it back over his arms. He’ll need to get used to moving around before he goes back out in public. He can’t draw attention to himself.
“Cas?” Anna starts carefully. “Cas, I really think we should tell someone. Michael, at least – “
“No,” Cas says sternly, shaking his head. “Anna, if he finds out – if we tell someone and we’re still stuck here – no. You know what happened when my teacher called him with concerns about my well-being. He was only worried about the possibility of depression. He didn’t suspect anything close to this, but Raphael still lost his mind. And my back paid for it.”
“You can’t keep living like this,” Anna urges. “It’s not – it’s not safe, Cas. Don’t you want to get out of here?”
Cas sighs. “It’s too complicated,” he replies, averting her eyes. “I can’t just up and leave without warning, Anna. Too many bad things could come of that.”
“Too many bad things are happening already,” Anna points out. She stares at Cas for a moment, watching his face carefully. “Cas,” she says gently.
“Anna, just – not yet,” Cas says, sighing. “I’m not ready yet.”
“But – “
“You’re not the one being abused,” Cas says, raising his voice a little. He freezes, looking behind him for any sign of Raphael. After half a minute, he turns back. “You’re not being abused,” he repeats, voice almost a whisper. “You don’t understand how hard this is for me. I can’t just – I can’t walk up to somebody and announce that my stepfather is beating me on a daily basis. Anna, you – you don’t understand the kind of fear I feel at the thought of that.” He swallows hard. “Just – just give me some time, alright?”
Anna nods, a little taken aback.
Cas swallows again. “Thank you.”
As an attempt to keep up the illusion that everything is “normal”, Cas lets Dean drive him to school the next morning. He slides into the car, extremely aware of how sore his back is, but he tries to hide it. Dean smiles at Cas as he starts the car. Cas returns it, but even he can tell how strained it is, his skin stretched a little awkwardly.
They head down the slick, icy roads, and Cas leans his head against the window. He shifts his weight a little after a few seconds; noticing the way his whole body seems to ache. He shakes the sudden thoughts from his mind and straightens up. He’s fine.
But when he and Dean arrive at school, he can’t shake it – the aches, the dryness of his mouth, the way his back is searing with pain. He reaches up and feels his cheek; it’s warm underneath his fingertips. He curses underneath his breath and pulls out his phone, sending an emergency text to Anna.
The gauze didn’t work. Anna, I feel awful.
He tries to push back his panic as he walks next to Dean. If it really is an infection and not some virus he managed to catch, then he’ll risk explaining how he received his injury, and if anyone suspects anything, things could end up really badly with Raphael. He jumps a little when Anna texts him back.
Do you need me to come get you?
What do you feel like?
I’m achy. My back hurts. I think I have a fever.
I’m sorry. I’ll be there soon.
Cas sighs in relief as he stuffs his phone back in his pocket.
Somehow, he’s made it to Dean’s locker. He leans against the closed locker next to Dean’s, closing his eyes briefly.
“Cas, are you okay?”
His eyes snap back open and he looks at Dean with a small smile. “Yes,” he manages. “I’m just . . . tired. Homework’s been difficult lately.”
Dean nods, grabbing the last of his books. “School’s been kicking my ass, too.”
Cas chuckles, pulling himself up as Dean starts down the hallway. He feels a little dizzy after a few steps and stops, steadying himself. Dean turns, looking worried, but Cas hurries forward. They enter first period together, finding seats at the back of Mr. Wyatt’s classroom. Cas collapses into his seat, resting his head in his arms.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Cas lifts his head, immediately feeling dizzy. He pauses, fighting the haziness that fills his mind. “Now that I think about it, I’m not sure,” he says.
“You don’t look so good, Cas,” Dean says.
“I – I’m going to go to the nurse,” Cas announces suddenly, standing up.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Dean asks, voice anxious.
“No, I’ll – I’ll be okay,” Cas says. “Just stay here, alright?”
Cas nods. “Yeah. Honestly, I’ll be fine.”
Dean watches with concern as Cas disappears through the doorway. He feels his heart clench inside his chest, his throat tightening and restricting air. Everything just feels like it’s spiraling out of control.
The bell rings about a minute after Cas leaves, and Mr. Wyatt begins taking attendance. He frowns when he reaches Castiel’s name, looking over at his empty desk.
“Dean?” he asks. “Wasn’t Cas just here?”
Dean nods. “He went to see the nurse. He wasn’t feeling well.”
Mr. Wyatt gives a nod, turning back to his computer. He finishes attendance and starts the lesson. They’ve just begin a new novel, so Mr. Wyatt reviews what’s just happened in the last few chapters before setting them free to read. They’re halfway into reading time when Cas returns.
Dean looks up as the door to the classroom opens. He feels relieved for just a second as Cas walks through, but then he sees the look on Cas’s face. He looks positively exhausted and somehow – upset. Dean watches as Cas walks over to Mr. Wyatt and hands him a pass. Mr. Wyatt says something, Cas replies, and then Cas walks back to the desk in front of Dean.
“Cas?” Dean whispers.
Cas picks up his bag, hoisting it over his shoulder. “I’m going home,” he says. “I’m definitely sick.”
Dean leans forward slightly. “What’s wrong?”
Cas shrugs. “I have a fever, and I just don’t feel well in general. I’m sure it’s just a virus; don’t worry, Dean.”
“Well, text me when you’re feeling better,” Dean says, his eyebrows creasing together in worry.
Cas nods and turns away, walking from the room. Dean leans back in his seat, letting out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He swallows back the bile he feels rising in his throat. His stomach churns, and his nerves feel like they’re jumping from his skin. He’s going out of his mind with worry.
Dean feels unnaturally alone throughout the rest of the day, and the worst is at lunch. Usually he and Cas sit together near the back of the cafeteria out of earshot and eyesight from everyone else. Today, however, he sits alone, picking through his food – which is how he knows things are so fucked up lately, if his appetite is affected.
About halfway into the lunch period, Lucifer slides in the seat across from Dean, and this time, he’s alone.
“So, Dean,” he starts, sitting back against the wall and crossing his legs. “Miss your boyfriend?”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Lucifer, I’m not in the mood today.”
“I just want to have a conversation,” Lucifer says innocently.
Dean lets out a sigh. He is alone. “Okay, fine. What do you want?”
“I want to know if you’ve figured out who’s doing me favors and messing up Cas, yet,” he says with a snicker.
And then Dean’s on his feet, Lucifer matching him in a second.
“Oh, come on, Dean,” Lucifer says, smirking. “You know I’m not the one to blame here. Even if I was the one who fucked up his eye, how could I have anything to do with him catching a cold?”
So maybe Cas is sick today, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior for the past week and a half. It doesn’t excuse that glaring black eye. It doesn’t excuse the fact that he flinches whenever Dean touches him. It doesn’t excuse the fact that he shies away from Dean in public. It doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s completely distant and anxious and so unlike himself all the time.
All of that’s on Lucifer – for making Cas’s life a living hell.
“You may not have done anything today,” Dean says, breathing heavily. “But everything else? It’s your fault. You’re the one that started tormenting him in the first place. And even if it’s not you doing it now – if Cas is lying, though I doubt he is – you set an example for everyone else. And karma’s a bitch, Lucifer.”
The cafeteria’s gone quiet, and Dean realizes that he’s been shouting this whole time. Most of the attention is turned to him and Lucifer now, the entire student body eager to see what will ensue.
“Dean, Dean, Dean,” Lucifer sighs. “Always stuck in denial aren’t you? Refusing to believe I’ve done nothing wrong, refusing to admit you’re dating Castiel.”
“Is that what you’re looking for?” Dean asks, feeling adrenaline rush through his veins. “A confession? Fine,” he says, throwing his arms up in the air. “I’m dating Cas. I am dating Castiel Milton! I have been for two months, and you know what? I love him! There, I said it! Your turn, Lucifer. Tell me how you’re tormenting my boyfriend. I’m all ears.”
Dean stands with his hands on his hips, and silence rings around him – the only sound is his harsh breathing. He feels the blood drain from his face as he realizes what he just said. In front of him, Lucifer’s smirking, his arms crossed over his chest. He raises his eyebrows, shifting his weight.
“Well,” he says, chocking back a laugh. “Joke’s on you, Dean, because I’ve been telling you the truth. I haven’t touched a hair on your precious boyfriend’s head.” He scoffs. “Man, you think I’m judgmental just because I called you two a couple a fags – which you are – but you, Winchester, you just can’t accept the fact that I – “
He’s cut off by a fist colliding with a jaw, forcing him to stumble backwards into a chair.
“Yeah,” Dean says, a little breathless. “I might be a fag, Lucifer. But at least I’m not a jackass.”
Lucifer reaches up, pulling on the collar of Dean’s shirt and slamming him to the ground. Dean feels his head make contact with the tile, and as he tries in vain to recover from the blow, Lucifer jumps over him, pinning him down. His hand comes back, but before it can come forward, Dean spits in Lucifer’s face, startling him. Dean manages to wriggle out from underneath him, but not fast enough. Lucifer grabs Dean’s shoulders and shoves him hard into the table in chairs. Dazed and disoriented, Dean watches Lucifer come straight for him, and then everything goes black.
Dean wakes up to the feel of something wet on his forehead. He forces his eyes open, and he’s immediately startled by someone standing over him. A girl. The same girl that came to his rescue before and kicked Lucifer in the balls. She pulls away, and Dean sees that she’s holding up a paper towel – which is covered in blood.
“What are doing?” Dean slurs, pushing himself up. He looks around, noticing that he’s in the nurse’s office, currently lying on one of the cots. “Who – who even are you?”
“I’m Jo,” she replies. “And you’re an idiot.”
“Excuse me?” Dean says, quirking an eyebrow.
“I figured once I intervened the first time, you’d back off from Lucifer,” she says, chucking the used paper towels in the trash. “I told him to leave you alone, I figured you’d be smart enough to do the same.”
“He provoked me,” Dean says defensively. “He came and bothered me while I was eating alone.”
“You should’ve walked away,” Jo says with a shrug. “And you should’ve kept your mouth shut about your relationship with Castiel.”
Dean blushes, looking away. He knows he should’ve. He doesn’t even know how he’ll tell Cas; he feels too ashamed already. Telling everyone wasn’t his business to decide. It was theirs.
“I’m sure Cas has enough to deal with,” Jo mutters, leaning against the cot.
Dean narrows his eyes. “How do you know?”
Jo looks up at him, curiosity in her expression. “Has Cas never told you about me?”
Dean’s thoroughly confused now, and it must show on his face because Jo continues.
“Obviously not,” she says, slapping her hand against her thigh. “Well,” she says, taking a deep breath. “We dated during freshman year.”
Dean blinks, surprised. He straightens up, asking, “You and Cas?”
Jo nods. “It was a nice relationship,” she says. “We cared a lot about each other, but things started getting too complicated with Lucifer in the picture. I don’t know if you noticed me your first day – I was hanging around with Bela and Ruby, but I didn’t join them to fawn over you.” She flashes Dean a small smile. “Well, once Bela started dating Lucifer, I got roped into that circle, but – not Cas. Lucifer continued to torment him, and well,” she lets out a sigh. “Cas was so gracious about it. He understood that I couldn’t leave my friends. Bela, Ruby and I – I mean, we’re all so different, but we’ve been friends since grade school. Cas knew that, and he wasn’t going to make me choose him over them. I never thought I had to choose, but he and I both knew that’s not how high school food chains work. I assume he just figured everything would blow over eventually. We’d all grow up and he and I could rekindle things. But as you know, Lucifer never grew up.” She sighs. “ I still care about Cas – not in a ‘I’m in love with him’ way, but more as I care about his well being.” She pauses, considering her next sentence. “And I have to say, Dean, I’m glad he has you.”
Dean nods, a little unsure what to say. “Um – thanks, I guess.”
“It was a compliment,” Jo assures. She hesitates again. “Just don’t screw things up. Cas and I – we weren’t meant for each other. But you two seem like a good match, so.”
Dean nods again, trying to make sense of all the things running through his mind. The only thing that’s absolutely clear right now is that he’s not the only one at this school concerned about Cas.
“Jo?” he asks after a minute.
“Can I trust you to keep a secret?”
“That was a close call,” Cas murmurs as Raphael leaves the room, door slamming behind him. “I thought he was going to slit my throat.”
Anna frowns, disapproving. “Don’t joke like that, Cas,” she says seriously. “You know, you’re lucky the infection isn’t bad. That was only his reaction to you telling the school nurse you didn’t feel well. Imagine if we’d had to go to the hospital and give them the real reason why you’re sick.”
Cas heaves a deep breath, looking away from her.
“I know you’re scared,” Anna continues. “But Cas, this is just going to keep getting worse. He didn’t stop after one hit. He didn’t stop after the black eye. He didn’t stop after he threw you across the garage. And he’s not stopping now that you have an infection from the injuries he keeps giving you. Cas, what’s it going to take?”
Cas says nothing.
“I’m here for you, you know,” Anna says softly. “Michael’s here for you spiritually. And I’m sure if they knew – Dean and his family would be here for you. You’ve got to get out of here, Cas.” She reaches out and takes Cas’s hand, gripping it tightly.
“Fine,” Cas says quietly, looking down at their hands. “I’ll – I’ll tell Dean, and then we’ll figure out what to do from there. Maybe Bobby’ll – maybe he’ll let me stay with them.”
Anna smiles, and carefully, embraces Cas in a warm hug. She pulls back and brushes the hair from Cas’s damp forehead. “I’m proud of you, Castiel.”
Chapter 11: Chapter 10
It's a little late in the game, but I need to thank Sierra (killthecoolones) for jumping in to beta these last chapters.
Warnings for this chapter include: allusions to child abuse, bullying, and homophobia.
Castiel leans his head back against his pillows, closing his eyes. He’s still recovering from the infection (well, that and Raphael forbade him to leave the house with any symptoms and/or obvious injuries), and at this rate – with the way his stress level is continuously rising – he’ll still be recovering a year from now.
“Cas.” Michael’s voice comes sternly from the phone speakers, “We’re not joking around anymore. You tell an adult. You call the police, and then you come live with me.”
“But Michael,” Cas argues, “I told you that I’m not – “
“You don’t have to do it right this second,” Michael assures, “Do it when you’re ready, but don’t beat around the bush, okay? The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be. Just – when you feel like you can tell someone, do it. Don’t hesitate.”
Cas lets out a sigh. “Just give me a few days, alright? I – I’m planning on telling Dean tomorrow, and once I’ve gotten that over with, I’ll tell an adult.”
“And you’ll head up here.”
“And we’ll head up there.”
Cas is home sick again, which also means Dean’s stuck eating lunch alone again. That is, until someone slides into the seat across from him, increasing the sense of déjà vu. It’s not Lucifer this time, thank God – it’s Jo.
“So, no sign of him?” she asks.
Dean shakes his head, pressing his lips together.
“Has he been answering your texts?”
“Not since first hour,” Dean replies.
“Maybe he fell asleep?” Jo suggests.
Dean sighs, looking away from her. “It’s not even about that. He needs his rest; I get that. It’s just – sick or not, he hasn’t been himself at all lately. I just – I don’t even know what to do, Jo. It gets worse and worse every day.”
“Well,” Jo starts gently. “Have you tried, I don’t know, talking to him?”
Dean glares at her for a second. “Yes, I have. And he won’t budge. He either lies his ass off or changes the subject.”
Jo sighs. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you, Dean, besides try a little harder. Make him listen; make him talk. Communication is key, right?”
“Yeah, well, I’m starting to think Cas doesn’t want to communicate with me,” Dean says quietly.
“What do you mean?” Jo asks, her eyebrows creasing together.
“I mean that he’s trying to keep things from me,” Dean says, “I don’t know, I guess he just doesn’t trust me or something.”
Jo shakes her head.
“What?” Dean asks.
“You’ve got it all wrong,” Jo says. She pauses. “You said you and Cas have been dating for two months?”
Dean nods. “Yeah, so?”
“So, you should know that’s just the way he is,” Jo replies. “Cas isn’t good at talking about what’s bothering him. He never has been.”
Dean thinks back, and he’s able to see it now. “Yeah,” he says, “I mean, the only times he’s ever told me about personal things is when they happened a long time ago, or he’s had something to drink.”
Jo eyes him seriously. “Don’t even think about getting him drunk. You just have to get him alone, make it known that he can trust you, and that he can always, always go to you.”
“I have told him that,” Dean says with a sigh, “But I don’t think he’s listening.”
“Which is why you need to make him listen,” Jo says, leaning a little closer, “Cas is good at tuning people out. He’s good at holding things inside and pushing things back. You’re going to have to work to get it out of him, and you have to be careful about it.”
“I’ve been trying to be,” Dean assures, “I’ve probably been too careful – that’s the problem.”
“Well, there you go,” Jo says, leaning back in her seat again.
It’s quiet for a moment, as Dean seems to find himself lost in thought. He’s brainstorming ways to talk to Cas, going back to those times where he managed to draw something personal and/or emotional from him – how did he do it? What made Cas cave?
“You know,” Dean says after a minute or two, “I still don’t know what happened the day we first kissed. He came over, and he was a complete mess. He wouldn’t talk at all, and it was Anna who had to tell me what was going on. She wouldn’t tell me the whole truth either, she just said she was worried that Cas might be depressed …” he trails off, looking up at Jo.
Her expression takes on something interesting, as if she understands something new. “Just like when we were dating,” she says quietly. “When everything with Lucifer started talking a turn for the worse, and when we broke up, and that whole fiasco with him and Raphael happened.”
“Maybe that’s what’s going on,” Dean suggests, “You know – it seems like Lucifer’s getting worse again, which probably sparked the depression.”
A bunch of images start flashing through his mind – the bruising around Cas’s wrist, the way his gaze never meets Dean’s eyes, a razor coming down on Cas’s wrist, Cas pouring pills into his hand, Cas trying a noose around his neck. Dean’s stomach drops. He bolts up from his seat, grabbing his phone from his pocket.
“Shit, I’ve got to talk to Cas.”
And he hurries from the lunchroom without another word.
Cas picks up on the third ring, his voice soft. “Hello?”
Dean pauses momentarily, feeling a grin tug at his lips. “Did I wake you up?”
“Yes,” Cas admits, “But it’s fine.”
“Sorry,” Dean says sheepishly, and then he gives himself a shake. He’s got something important to say. Focus, now. “Cas,” he starts carefully, “I really need to talk to you.”
“I need to talk to you,” Cas replies, tone changing.
“It’s important,” Dean says.
“As is what I have to say.”
“I think we might be on the same page then,” Dean says, and he feels a small sense of relief. It looks like getting Cas to talk isn’t going to be the issue. However, what he does have to say might create a few.
“Can we meet at the usual place?” Cas asks.
“Are you sure you feel up to it?” Dean asks.
Cas scoffs. “I’m in fairly good health by now. I’m sure I can handle an outing to a café.”
“Just double-checking,” Dean says, almost defensively, “I’ll see you in a few, Cas.”
He shuts his phone off, and slowly tucks it back into the pocket of his jeans. Taking a deep breath, he moves forward through the parking lot and to his car. Once inside he leans back and rests his head against the seat, closing his eyes.
After worrying for so long, he’s finally getting Cas to talk, but it’s only made him more anxious. It’s not enough to know. Now Dean wants to help. He just wants all of this to be over and for Cas to be himself again. But that’s not going to happen so easy, and Dean knows that.
With a heavy sigh, Dean starts his car. It’s a short drive to King’s Café, but it feels like it takes forever. He walks through the familiar doors, sits in their usual seat, but suddenly, everything feels so foreign. The lights feel dimmer, the temperature feels colder, and Dean feels incredibly out of place as he sits there, practically trembling with nervousness.
There’re too many thoughts running through his mind right now. Too many possibilities of what Cas has to tell him, too many effects that that will have, too many ways to try and fix it. Dean bites his lip and chokes back the lump in his throat.
Cas arrives within minutes. (It’s only seven, but it feels like a lifetime to Dean). Dean’s heart pounds fiercely against his throat as Cas walks through the door. His face is practically buried in the hat covering his hair and the scarf piled up around his neck, but Dean can still see how exhausted he looks. He’s unnaturally pale, his eyes bloodshot. He sits down with a small groan, grimacing.
“You okay?” Dean asks.
Cas nods, his expression saying otherwise.
Dean waits for him to talk, but he says nothing, so Dean takes the liberty to go first.
“Cas?” he starts carefully, “I just – I have something to ask you. That’s all.”
He licks his lips together, shifting his weight. “You’re not – you’re not hurting yourself, are you, Cas?”
Cas’s eyebrows knit together, and he straightens up, confused. “What? No, no, of course not – I’m trying to keep myself from getting hurt, actually.”
Dean breathes an awkward sigh of relief; his chest tightens as he takes in what Cas said. “What – what do you mean?” he asks tentatively.
“I mean –“ Cas takes a deep breath, running a hand through his hair. He’s suddenly blinking back tears and Dean reaches out immediately, placing his hand over Cas’s on the table. “I – I don’t know how to say this,” Cas admits, his voice cracking slightly. He swallows hard, giving himself a shake.
“Cas, you can tell me anything,” Dean assures, “I love you. I’m here for you.”
“I know,” Cas says, nodding. He takes one more deep breath before continuing. “Well, it’s just - “
“Start easy,” Dean suggests.
“Okay,” Cas says, “Well, I’m thinking of moving to Chicago – moving in with Michael.”
Dean feels his heart and his face drop. Cas leave? No. He – he can’t deal with that. Not someone else he loves. He won’t be able to handle it. But he doesn’t say that, instead he says, “What? Why?”
“I don’t feel safe,” Cas says, voice going quiet again, “Every day when I wake up, I dread getting out of bed. I’m scared of making people angry and getting a death sentence on my head. And I’m scared to go to sleep at night because I’m scared that I’ve just lived through my last day.”
Dean’s stomach drops now, and he leans forward, swallowing hard. His heart is racing so fast that it feels like it might explode, his head is spinning, and his mouth has gone dry.
“Cas?” he asks, “Cas, what are you talking about?”
Cas sighs, hanging his head. “Dean, I – I know I’ve been trying to act like I’m fine. I know I try to act like I don’t let anything bother me, but the truth is – I’m pansexual. Or in the minds of many – gay. Not a lot of people are okay with that. Least of all in a place like Pontiac, Illinois. I make a lot of enemies every day by just being who I am, enemies who don’t make life very easy for me. Enemies who start using me as a scapegoat for things that go wrong in their lives,” He takes a great, shuddering breath, “But in Chicago, people are a little more open. It wouldn’t be so strange for them to see me walking down the street with my arm around your waist. And I know we say we’re just not one of those types of couples – but don’t you ever imagine it? Don’t you wish we could hold hands and kiss in public?”
He breaks off, letting out a sigh. “I’m going off on a tangent, I’m sorry. It’s just – it’s not easy for me, Dean. Especially not in this town. With all the judgment and the harassment – I just can’t do it anymore. And God – just thinking where most of the abuse is coming from. Dean, I have to tell you, I – “ He chokes on the words, hanging his head again.
“Hey, hey,” Dean says, giving his hand a squeeze, “Listen to me. Look, you don’t have to go – “
“But I do,” Cas says, pressing his lips together to keep from crying, “I don’t want to, but I don’t have any other choice – “
“Yes, you do,” Dean says seriously, “I know Lucifer’s been making things difficult for you. I know it’s been rough, and I know you wish things were different.” He adds his other hand to Cas’s taking a firmer hold on his fingers. “Well, I’m going to work hard to make sure they will be. Hang in there, Cas, okay? Because I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Lucifer gives this up.”
“No, Dean,” Cas says quickly, “You don’t understand – “
“Cas, I’m not letting him get away with this any longer,” Dean says sternly, “He’s been making your life hell, and I’m not okay with it. I don’t – I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do yet, but mark my words, Cas, he won’t be doing this much longer. I won’t let him.”
It’s quiet for a second. Cas doesn’t say anything. He just sits there quietly, still staring down at his lap.
“Cas?” Dean asks, trying to get a look at his face, “Cas – hey.”
He lifts his head up, letting out a sniffle. Tears are running down his cheeks, his eyes even redder. Dean reaches up and gently rubs away a few of the tears with his thumb. Cas blinks, another tear falling, and Dean catches it before cupping Cas’s cheek in his hand.
“Look at me,” he says softly, “He’s not going to hurt you anymore. I promise.”
“Dean,” Cas croaks.
“Hey,” he says, “I’m right here. I’m right here, Cas. You don’t have to be afraid anymore.”
Cas closes his eyes, leaning into Dean’s touch. His shoulders give a shake and Dean stands up, leaning across the table so he can press a soft kiss to Cas’s forehead. Cas lets out a small whimper, and Dean walks around the side of the table. He drops down to his knees, taking Cas’s face in his hands again.
“Cas,” he says gently, “I’m gonna protect you. I promise.”
Cas bites his lip, and then chokes out, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Dean replies, and he stretches upwards, pressing his lips to Cas’s. Cas kisses back, gripping Dean’s arms tightly, his mouth moving almost a little desperately. Dean pulls away, pressing their foreheads together. “I love you so much, Cas.”
Anna is waiting patiently in the car. As soon as Dean’s gone, Cas throws himself in the passenger’s seat. He’s quiet, trying to make sense of the mess in his head, the mess that he is, and the mess that’s his life.
“Cas?” Anna asks cautiously, “Cas, how’d it go?”
He can’t even speak; he just shakes his head.
“Not good?” Anna asks, a little surprised, “Why – what did Dean say? Surely he isn’t okay with what Raphael’s doing.”
Cas presses his lips together, shaking his head again.
“Then what – “ Anna stops, taking a second, “Cas, did you even tell him the truth.”
And just like that, the sobs break through. Cas’s whole body shakes with each one; they rip through his chest, making him gasp for air. Arms wrap around his shoulders and he buries his face in Anna’s chest. Anna rubs her hand up and down, trying and failing to soothe Cas. He only trembles more, the sobs coming harder.
It feels like hours, maybe days before Cas has enough strength to collect himself just slightly, lifting up his head to choke out, “I tried, Anna. I tried to tell him, but – “ He breaks off, hiccupping.
“Hey – shh,” Anna says, wrapping her arms tighter around Cas. He tucks his head into the crook of her neck, breathing deep. “Cas, it’s okay,” Anna says softly, “Just calm down – it’s going to be alright.”
Cas straightens up and shakes his head, pressing his lips together; they quiver. “No, it’s not,” he says, “Anna, I couldn’t – I didn’t tell him.” He exhales sharply, the breath collapsing out of him. He leans his head back down on Anna’s shoulder as the sobs let up.
After a few minutes, Anna treads carefully. “Cas, I don’t – what happened?”
He sighs, then hiccups. “I tried to tell him,” he repeats, voice quiet, “But I started out with Michael – with moving, and he – he started panicking, I presume.” He bites his lips as his eyes burn yet again. “He – he assumed it was Lucifer.”
Anna lets out a small noise of sympathy. “Cas,” she breathes, shaking her head.
“I’ve been lying to him,” Cas says, a small, humorless laugh escaping his lips. “The eye, the bruises on my arm – everything. I told Dean it was Lucifer, and what reason is there for him not to believe me?” He rubs a rough hand across his face. “I couldn’t tell him then. He started talking about protecting me, and making sure Lucifer was stopped, and how I wouldn’t have to leave him then, and I couldn’t do it, Anna. I couldn’t tell him the truth. I wanted him to believe that everything would be okay – just for now.” He swallows back a sob. “But it’s not, and I was stupid. And Anna, I just don’t know what I’m going to do now. I can’t stay here, but I can’t leave him. I have to tell him the truth, but I don’t know how. And – and we don’t have time, and – “ He fizzles out, fresh tears coming.
“Cas, shh,” Anna says, welcoming him back into her arms.
“I just want this to be over,” Cas says into her chest, “I don’t want to have to deal with this anymore, Anna. I just want this to be over.”
“I know,” Anna says, carefully cradling the back of his head, “And I’m sorry, Cas. I’m so sorry.”
Cas wraps his arms tightly around Anna, burying his face completely in her shirt. Sobs rack his body once again, shaking him until he’s worn out – until his sinuses threaten to explode, his muscles ache, and exhaustion takes him over. He doesn’t pull away for a long time, and once he does, it’s only for the car ride home, because that night he sleeps with Anna, his body tucked close to hers. He finally feels safe, if just for a moment.
It’s the third day Cas is out sick, and Dean’s no longer suspicious. He’s upset. His heart aches because he knows that even if Cas is feeling better physically, he’s not emotionally, and that’s what’s keeping him at home. That’s what’s keeping him from Dean’s reach.
Dean doesn’t eat alone again.
In fact, he doesn’t eat at all.
Right before lunch, he finds Jo at her locker. He tells her about the conversation he had with Cas, and she’s hardly surprised.
“That bastard,” she mutters, clenching her teeth and shaking her head. “I’ll rip him to pieces. I swear to God – I’ll get Ash down here and he, you, and I – we’ll rip that bastard to pieces.”
“As much as I’d like that, we can’t,” Dean says, “He’ll just get angry, and then he’ll take out all that anger on Cas.”
Jo sighs. “You’re right. You got any other plans?”
Dean smiles. “In fact – I do. Come with me.”
He loads Jo down the hallway, walking all the way until they get to the English classroom. He looks stops in the doorway, knocking his hand against the doorframe. Mr. Wyatt turns around from his desk, smiling once he spots Dean and Jo. He motions for them to come in.
“Hey, guys,” he says brightly, “What can I do for you?”
“Well,” Dean starts, “Do you remember earlier this year? When we were out in the parking lot, and you told me to come to you if we had any problems with Lucifer?”
Mr. Wyatt’s smile falls from his face. “Yes.”
“Well, we’ve got a problem.”
Chapter 12: Chapter 11
Warnings for this chapter include: allusions to extreme child abuse, hospitalization for injuries, discussion of homophobia and bullying.
“Does this have to do with the fight you got into with Lucifer the other day?” Mr. Wyatt asks, and Dean nods. Mr. Wyatt sighs, pulling off his glasses and rubbing his eyes. “Alright,” he says, “why don’t you take a seat and explain to me what’s going on.”
Jo and Dean oblige, picking the seats right in front of Mr. Wyatt’s desk.
“Well,” Dean starts, “what we were fighting over – I mean, everyone knows now I guess, even you, Mr. Wyatt, I’m sure – um – well, Cas and I are dating.” Mr. Wyatt gives a small smile, and Dean feels a blush crawl up his neck, settling in his cheeks. He clears his throat, continuing. “Anyway, Lucifer’s really been giving him a hard time lately, and I’ve kind of been blowing up at him whenever I get the chance.”
“How do you mean?” Mr. Wyatt asks. “Like – what exactly is Lucifer doing?”
Dean sighs, shrugging slightly. “Just – emotional abuse, physical abuse … you know that black eye Cas had for a few days?”
Mr. Wyatt nods before rubbing his eyes again. He lets out a frustrated huff. “I should have known,” he mutters.
“So?” Dean prods. “Is there – is there any way you can help us?”
Mr. Wyatt looks at him, almost hopelessly. “Dean, I’ve tried. Yeah, it’s true most of the staff is put off by his actions and behavior, but there’s still those few who stick up for him and refuse to do anything. And when one of those people is the principal… I’m sorry, Dean.”
“Couldn’t you just call him down here?” Dean asks.
Mr. Wyatt presses his lips together, thinking for a second.
“Please?” Dean presses. “Look – I just want to talk to him. He refuses to own up to what he’s doing. I – I just want to know why he’s doing it, if there’s any way I can get him to stop myself. Just by – I don’t know – negotiating. “
“Negotiating?” Mr. Wyatt asks, smirking. “Dean, I’m doubtful of how well that would go, but I suppose I could call Lucifer down here. Just for a chat.”
He stands up and walks over to the telephone hanging on the wall. “Yeah, hi – Julie? Julie, could you please find Lucifer Harrison and send him to my room? Yes, thank you. Alright. Yeah. Okay. Yeah – thank you, thanks again, Julie,” He hangs up, and then lets his arm fall lazily to his side, where he puts his hand on his hip. He looks over to Dean and Jo. You know we’ll have to be civil about this.”
“Please,” Dean says, waving a hand, “That’ll be no problem for me, Mr. Wyatt.”
Mr. Wyatt raises an eyebrow, and Dean smiles innocently.
It goes quiet as they wait for Lucifer to show up. Soon enough, loud, dragging footsteps sound and Lucifer enters the doorway. Dean feels anger flare up inside of him, but he pushes it back. He clenches his fists together on top of the desk, trying to release some of the tension.
“Lucifer,” Mr. Wyatt greets politely.
Lucifer says nothing; he simply gives Mr. Wyatt a scowl.
“Take a seat,” Mr. Wyatt says, holding his arm out. “Dean, Jo,” he adds, looking over at them. “If you would join me.”
They stand up and move around on either side of Mr. Wyatt’s desk, watching Lucifer carefully as he slumps into Dean’s seat. Mr. Wyatt sits on the edge of his desk, crossing his arms.
“So, Lucifer,” he starts, “do you know why you’re here?”
He eyes Dean, heaving an irritated sigh. “I assume it has something to do with Castiel.”
“Damn right, it does.”
“Dean,” Mr. Wyatt says warningly. “Lucifer, we just want to know the truth,” he continues, “Dean’s told me how you’ve been responsible for causing Castiel a lot of distress. Why are you doing it?”
Lucifer rolls his eyes, shaking his head. “My God, how many times do I have to tell you people – I’m not doing anything!”
“Lucifer – “
“No, don’t use that tone with me,” Lucifer interrupts. “Okay, look, Mr. Wyatt, I’ll admit that I haven’t exactly been nice to Castiel in the past, but it’s not me this time. I swear. I don’t bully him anymore. It doesn’t give me any satisfaction, alright?”
“You really expect us to believe that?” Dean asks, “You call him a fag all the time.”
“Well, of course I do – to you,” Lucifer says. “Dean, you’re the only person I’ve taunted at all in the last four months. I’ve stayed away from Castiel. I’ve stayed away from him since Michael threatened to twist my intestines like a meat grinder.”
Dean opens his mouth to retort, but Jo holds out her hand and says quietly, “Dean, stop. He’s telling the truth.”
Everyone stares at her in surprise.
“How do you know?” Dean asks.
“Because if Lucifer was really trying to save his own ass, why would he just have admitted to taunting you?”
“Well, because he – I mean what he did to Cas was – I – “ Dean splutters, searching for an answer.
“I know you don’t want to believe it,” Jo says. “But Dean, I think Cas has been keeping something from you. I really don’t think Lucifer’s done anything.”
Dean sighs, looking back at him. “You’re serious, Lucifer. You’re really telling the truth?”
“Yes,” Lucifer says, throwing his hands in the air. “Jesus fucking Christ, what more do I have to do to get you to believe me?”
“Language,” Mr. Wyatt warns.
“Tell me something,” Dean says, “Do you know anyone else who’d be doing this to Cas? Either of your buddies behind this?”
Lucifer scoffs. “Alistair and Azazel? They wouldn’t have the brains.”
Dean raises an eyebrow.
“No,” Lucifer says, raising his voice a little. “They’re not behind anything, Dean.”
“Are you sure?” Dean asks. “You’re not the only who’s ever had a problem with Cas’s sexuality, Lucifer. Any one of your friends or teammates could be doing this.”
“Well, none that I know of,” Lucifer replies, “Honest to God truth, Dean. I don’t know what the hell’s going on any more than you do.”
Dean bites his lip and looks to Jo. Her eyes scan his face before she gives him a small nod.
“Alright, well, I’m sorry for blaming you, Lucifer,” Dean says. “And I’m sorry for not listening when you told me the truth.”
Lucifer puts a hand over his heart. “Well, golly gee, Dean. I do accept your apology.” He drops the cheery tone. “But I still hate you.”
Dean smiles. “Likewise.”
“Well, looks like we’ve worked that out,” Mr. Wyatt says, clapping his hands together. “However,” he continues, turning to Lucifer, “I still want to talk with you about this need to torment other classmates. You’re free to go today, Lucifer, but I expect to see you after school tomorrow.”
Lucifer sighs heavily again before he pulls himself up and drags himself out of the room.
“I’ll take that as a ‘yes, sir,’” Mr. Wyatt mutters. “Dean?” he asks, looking back at him. “Are you alright?”
“I don’t know,” Dean answers honestly. “I think – I think I just really need to talk to Cas.”
After dropping Sam off at home, Dean heads over to Cas’s. He’s sent about fifty texts since lunch, and Cas hasn’t answered a single one. Either Cas is ignoring him, or something’s wrong. Whichever it is, Dean’s still filled with anxiety. He curls his hands tightly around the steering wheel, breathing deep. Nausea has settled in his stomach, and his chest feels constricted. His head is spinning; he feels almost disconnected from his body.
The drive feels like it takes hours. Dean swears he hits every red light on the way, and halfway through town, he gets stuck behind someone going fifteen miles under the speed limit. As soon as the coast is clear, he speeds around them, gunning it as he merges onto a side road what will take him out to Cas’s neighborhood. Dean coasts down the road, absolutely silent.
Which is how he hears the sirens before he actually sees them.
Dean arrives at Cas’s house right after the ambulance. He slams on the brakes, the car screeching to a stop. Adrenaline courses through his veins as he jumps out of the car and races up the front lawn. If his head was spinning before, he doesn’t even want to think about what’s happening to it now. Dean freezes as the paramedics carry a body out of the house. He doesn’t even half to look to know who it is, but he looks anyway. His face is bloodied and bruised beyond recognition, but Dean knows it’s him. Dean feels the scream of his name tear through his throat, and he makes a move to run after him, but a paramedic holds him back.
“You’re going to have to calm down, son,” he says, “We’ve got to get him inside the vehicle first.”
Dean doubles back, trying to make sense of the scene before him. He’s got a vague idea of what’s going on, but he just doesn’t understand. He feels like he’s stepped into a nightmare – one that he can’t wake up from.
As Cas is carried into the back of the ambulance, Dean’s attention is pulled to the house. There’s shouting, and then the sound of shattering glass. In a second, Anna stumbles outside, a large cut grazing her forehead.
She looks up, confused for a second, but once she sees Dean, a look of relief crosses her face.
“Dean,” she says, rushing up to him, “Dean, listen to me – “
“Anna, what’s going on? What happened to Cas?” he asks desperately, panic starting to rise within him.
“I don’t have time to explain,” Anna says. “My – my mother – she’s still inside. I have to get her. But Dean, listen to me.”
He nods, shutting his mouth.
“I need you to go with Cas,” she says. “Go with him to the hospital, stay with him until I can get there. And I need you to call Michael. Tell him to get a hotel and come down here as soon as he can. Tell him Cas is in the hospital, and if he has any questions, I’ll be calling him as soon as I can.”
“Anna, I don’t – “ Dean begins to argue.
“Dean, go,” Anna says sternly, “Please just go. Cas needs you.”
He nods, a little dazed and disoriented. Anna turns to go back inside, and Dean hurries to the ambulance, jumping in the back just before they shut the doors.
“You family?” one of the paramedics asks.
“Sort of,” Dean replies.
He’s still in shock, still not entirely sure what’s happening. He feels incredibly dizzy, and just a little sick.
“Good, then help us out here,” the paramedic replies. “This kid is losing a lot of blood. Extremely dangerous. We need you to keep him awake while we try to stop the bleeding – can you do that?”
Dean nods, though he’s not really sure. All he knows is that Cas is on that gurney, and he needs Dean right now. He steps up to Cas’s side, and his heart leaps to his throat. He’s quickly falling out of shock and into panic. He reaches down, grabbing Cas’s hand carefully and taking it in his.
“Cas?” he asks, “Cas, can you hear me?”
Cas’s eyelids flutter, and he tries to keep them open.
“Cas, it’s me,” he says, voice starting to tremble, “Cas?”
His eyelids flutter again, and he lets out a groan.
“Cas, you listen to me,” Dean continues, “Stay awake, Cas. Don’t give in. I know you want to sleep, but you can’t.”
He moves his head to the side, eyes shutting.
“Cas,” Dean says, voice growing louder. He squeezes Cas’s hand. “Cas, listen to me, goddamnit. Stay awake.”
The paramedics start calling orders and shouting out Cas’s vitals. Dean’s heart lodges further in his throat and he leans down closer to Cas, trying desperately to get him to listen. He’s gone completely limp, his breathing is slowing, and his heart rate’s uneven.
“Cas, please,” Dean says desperately. “I need you stay awake for me. Don’t give in.”
“We’re losing him!”
“God, you son of a bitch,” Dean mutters, shaking his head. His eyes have started filling with tears and he clenches his teeth together. “Cas! Listen to me. Please.” His voice cracks, and he heaves a shuddering breath. “I’ve lost my mom. I’ve lost my dad. Please don’t make me lose you too, Cas.”
Dean hangs his head, preparing to back away as the paramedics take over. But then he feels something squeeze his hand. He looks up to find Cas’s eyelids opening. He takes a huge breath, and the paramedics all freeze for a second. He lets out a cough, trying to sit up, but Dean pushes Cas back.
“Easy, tiger,” he says. “Don’t push yourself. Just stay conscious, alright?”
Cas nods, blinking rapidly. It takes him a second, but eventually he starts to recognize the situation. He looks over curiously at Dean.
“Dean?” he croaks out, surprised.
“I’m right here,” Dean assures, kneeling down, his hand still holding onto Cas’s. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Once they reach the hospital, Cas is rushed away, and the paramedics once again, push Dean back.
“No one’s allowed with. I’m sorry, son, but you’ll just have to wait here.”
Dean doesn’t even waste energy arguing. They won’t let him in no matter how much he does. He knows Cas needs to be taken care of, and he’s got promises to keep to Anna. He collapses into one of the waiting room chairs, rubbing his eyes and pulling out his cell phone. He dials Michael’s number, trembling as he lifts the phone to his ear.
“Dean?” Michael answers, sounding surprised, “What’s going on, bud?”
“It’s Cas,” Dean says, somewhat breathless, “Michael, he’s – he’s in the hospital.”
“Oh my god,” Michael breathes, “Dean, do you know what happened?”
“Not really,” Dean replies, “I showed up at the house and the ambulance was already there. Anna came running outside and told me to go with Cas and to call you. Cas was taken back and now I’m just sitting here in the waiting room.”
Dean hears a few odd noises coming from the other line before Michael asks,“Did Anna say anything else?”
“Yeah, she said for you to get a hotel down here, and if you have any questions, she’ll be calling you as soon as she can.”
“Why isn’t she with you?” Michael asks.
“She said she had to go back and get your mother. Get her out of the house or something.”
“Oh God,” Michael says, and it sounds like he’s starting to understand, “I’m coming down there right now, okay, Dean?”
“Michael, can you tell me what’s going on please?” Dean asks.
Michael sighs. “If you don’t know, I can’t tell you, Dean. I’m sorry. It’s not my place.”
“Michael,” Dean says, agitation evident in his voice, “This has something to do with Cas. Cas is my boyfriend. I feel like I deserve to know.”
“I’m sorry,” Michael repeats, and the line goes dead.
After he sits and stews at Michael for a good fifteen minutes, Dean decides he better call home. He picks up his cell phone again, and rubs the bridge of his nose while it rings. Sam picks up.
“What’s up, Dean?”
“I don’t think I’m coming home tonight,” Dean says, heaving a sigh.
“Why?” Sam asks, voice muffled; Dean realizes he’s eating.
“Cas is in the hospital,” Dean replies.
Sam chokes. “What happened?” he asks, coughing. “I thought he just had the flu or something.”
“It doesn’t have to do with that,” Dean says. “It’s – I mean - well, it looks he’s been beat up. I got to the house right after the ambulance. And I kind of just jumped aboard and went with him here. Now I’m stuck in the waiting room by myself.”
“Well, Bobby and I’ll come over there,” Sam says.
“No,” Dean protests, “You don’t have to. They won’t let anyone see Cas anyway. I don’t – I don’t even know what they’re doing, but no one can see him yet.”
“Well, we’re not going to let you wait alone,” Sam says. “Don’t you want some company right now?”
Dean sighs. “I don’t know, Sam. I just – I’m overwhelmed right now, to be honest. The only person I want right now is Cas.”
“You’re going to have to settle for me,” Sam replies. “We’ll be there in a few. Okay, Dean?”
Dean sighs again. “Okay.”
He puts his cell phone back in his pocket, and crosses his arms over his chest. It’s quiet in the hospital – only a few nurses and doctors are walking around. One smiles as she walks by, and Dean can’t even find the heart to smile back. There’s no reason for him to smile. The silence is a huge contrast to the sirens that had been previously blaring around him. His ears ring, and the bright whiteness of the floor, walls, and ceiling make Dean’s eyes burn. Leaning his head back, he closes his them. Before he knows what’s happening, he’s peeling his eyelids open as Sam and Bobby take seats next to him. He sits up straight, rubbing his eyes.
“Thanks for coming out here,” he says gruffly.
Sam nods, stretching out his legs. “You can to sleep if you want,” he says. “We’ll wake you up if something happens.”
Dean checks his watch. It’s only four-thirty, but he’s fucking exhausted. He nods absently, and leans his head back again, resting his hands on his stomach. He’s out within minutes.
The next time he wakes up, Anna’s sitting next to Sam, knees pulled up to her chest and her arms wrapped around her shins. It looks like someone’s taken care of the cut on her head, because there’s a huge piece of gauze over her left eye.
Dean checks his watch and sees that he’s only slept for an hour. He assumes nothing’s happened with Cas yet so he simply closes his eyes again, hoping that he’ll wake next to find Cas in a whole lot better shape than when Dean last saw him.
It’s a long night.
Dean drifts in and out of sleep, waking up to check the time or use the bathroom or pace around before he’s curled up again, snoring.
Everyone plays musical chairs; sometimes Dean wakes up next to Anna, sometimes next to Sam, sometimes he’s spread across a row of chairs and everyone else is across from him.
At six-thirty, Michael finally shows up.
“We’re staying at Comfort,” he says, handing a hotel room key to Anna.
Dean looks at them, perplexed. Anna, too?
“Mom’s at Rachel’s,” Anna says, taking the card.
“Good,” Michael says, sitting down next to her. “Hi, Dean,” he adds, noticing him.
Dean mumbles something back, and deciding that he’s still too tired to function, closes his eyes again. Hopefully Sam and Bobby are independent enough to introduce themselves.
At nine, Dean wakes up for good. Sam’s crashed next to Bobby, mouth open. Anna’s resting her head on Michael’s shoulder, but as she shifts her weight, Dean realizes she’s not asleep. He stands up and stretches, letting out a yawn.
“Anything?” he asks as Michael looks up at him.
Michael shakes his head sadly.
Dean sighs. “I’ll be right back.”
He heads down the hall, fishing his wallet out of his back pocket. It’s even quieter than it was earlier, the hallways even more dead. Dean grabs something from the vending machine and nibbles on it as he walks around, trying to clear his head. Everything’s still muddled and hazy, and Dean’s sure it will be until he gets some explanations, but he knows now isn’t the time to hound Anna and Michael.
Dean chucks the wrapper in a nearby trash can, and then runs his fingers through his hair. He exhales roughly, placing his hands on his hips. His heart still twists with panic, his throat still feels too tight, but there’s really nothing he can do right now, is there? He’s just going to have to wait it out and hope the doctors come back with good news. Dean feels tears prick his eyes, but he pushes them back. He’ll have time to cry later if the news isn’t good.
Tucking his hands in his pockets, Dean walks back to the waiting room.
He stops short when he sees two police officers standing in front of Anna and Michael. One’s got a notepad and a pen, and he’s jotting down things as Anna talks. As Dean steps into earshot, the police officer stops writing.
“Thank you, Anna,” he says, tucking the notepad underneath his arm. “We’ll be back to talk to Castiel once he’s awake and functioning.”
“No, no,” Anna says, and Dean notices she’s trembling slightly, “Thank you, honestly.”
“We’re just doing our job,” the officer replies, “You’ve gone through something very traumatic, Ms. Milton. I advise you to get some rest tonight.”
She nods, still shaking. “Th – thank you.”
The officer gives her one last nod, and motioning for his partner to follow him, leaves.
“What’s going on?” Dean asks as soon as they’re out of earshot.
Michael and Anna glance at each other before Michael says, “Once again, Dean, I’m sorry. I can’t say anything.”
Dean sighs, frustrated. “Look, I know you said it’s not your place, but in case you haven’t noticed, Michael – Cas is in the hospital. And now the police are involved? I’d just like to know what the fuck is going on.”
“Well, you’ll have to have Cas explain it to you,” Michael replies, holding up a hand in surrender.
Dean turns away from him, taking a deep breath. It’s not the right time or place. Dean clenches his fists together for a second, and then sits back down. He brings his hand up to rub his mouth as thoughts start to flood his mind. Sleep has only given his brain more ammo to work with.
There’s something he’s missing; Dean knows that. There’s something that ties everything together – the beating, the bruises and cuts leading up to it, the lying, the days of school missed. There’s something that would shift everything and help Dean make sense of everything that’s been happening.
He just doesn’t know what it is.
Dean leans back in his seat, going through what he does know. He knows that someone’s been tormenting Cas. He knows that someone’s been giving him those bruises and that horrible beating tonight. He knows that someone’s been making Cas feel horrible about himself – injecting him with fear, paranoia, anxiety. He knows that someone’s been tearing Cas apart at the seams, emotionally and physically.
That’s the question here – who’s been doing all of this?
Dean thinks back to his conversation with Lucifer today. He remembers Lucifer telling him that he hadn’t touched Cas since the incident with Michael. He remembers asking Lucifer if he knew anyone who could have been hurting Cas, but he didn’t. He remembers saying something like, “You’re not the only one who’s ever had a problem with Cas’s sexuality.”
And that’s just it – who else? Who else has a problem with Cas’s sexuality? Dean rakes his mind, and then, as if all the pieces of a puzzle are fitting together, he gets it. Because besides Lucifer, who else has Cas talked about hating him? Who else was involved in the Michael/Lucifer fiasco?
Dean stands up, his legs shaking.
“I’ll be right back,” he says again, and then rushes off to the bathroom. He barrels into one of the stalls and falls to his knees, vomiting harshly into the toilet. When he’s finished, he sinks onto the floor, breathing deep.
After a second, a thought strikes him and he reaches into his pocket, pulling out his phone as fast as he can with his shaking fingers. He doesn’t know why he hadn’t thought about calling her before, especially when he’d been making his rounds and telling people where he was and why.
The phone rings twice before Jo picks up. “Hey,” she says, “Did you figure everything out with Cas?”
“I’ve figured out what’s going on,” Dean says, “but not necessarily with Cas.”
“Dean, you sound horrible,” Jo says, concerned, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Dean says, voice shaking, “In fact, I’m a whole lot better than Cas is right now.”
“Dean, what’s going on?” Jo asks seriously.
“Cas is in the hospital,” Dean replies.
Jo starts panicking, babbling beyond comprehension. “Oh my god – Dean, what happened? Is he alright? How bad is it? Oh, God – I should come down there. I should leave right now, Jesus Christ.”
“Jo,” Dean says sternly, “Listen – no one can see him yet. Calm down. Stay where you are, stay on the phone with me. I need you to do something important.”
“Yeah, sure – anything,” Jo says.
Dean swallows hard, then takes a deep breath.
“How much do you know about Raphael?”
Chapter 13: Chapter 12
I've been receiving such lovely comments lately and I just really needed to you think those of you who are leaving them. They absolutely make my day. (:
Warnings for this chapter include: talk of child abuse, bullying, and homophobia; hospitalization for injuries
Dean feels like he’s going to be sick again as he listens to Jo talk about how strict Raphael had been with Cas. How Raphael was always courteous to Jo, but Cas would tell her how terrible he really was. More than a few times, Cas had called her completely distraught about something Raphael had done. Mostly, it was verbal and emotional abuse. It appears that it only became physical recently.
“So?” Dean asks, voice quiet, “Was he as bad as Lucifer?”
“Worse,” Jo replies.
“Even back then?” Dean asks, horrified.
Dean leans against the side of the stall, hand coming up to grip his hair. “Do I even want to know how much worse?” he asks.
“Probably not,” Jo replies honestly. “Well, it wasn’t so bad at first. While we were dating, it was mostly stress – Cas trying to keep his cover of straight. He knew that Raphael was homophobic, and so things were a little easier with me around, but Raphael knew something wasn’t right, and he’d constantly make slurs in front of Cas. And then that incident with Lucifer happened, and – God, that was a mess.”
“What happened?” Dean asks, voice nearly a whisper.
“I just – I remember hearing about what Lucifer did, and it was awful. I thought I was going to be sick, and I knew if that was how I was feeling, things would be so much harder for Cas. So I went to check up on him.” Jo takes a deep breath. “It had been a while since we talked, and I wanted to see him in person, so I went to see him at home. Anna answered the door, and I could hear him. His voice sent a chill over me – he was so loud and commanding. I think he was arguing with Michael – I wasn’t quite sure. But I could make out words –‘disgrace’ ‘no step-son of mine’ ‘that fag infecting this household’ – things like that.”
Dean swallows hard. He’s not even angry right now; he just feels sick. He feels sick because if that’s how Raphael was back then, he doesn’t even want to imagine what it’s like now. He feels sick because he hadn’t realized what was going on, that he allowed this to continue to happen to Cas. He feels sick because now there’s nothing he can do. The worst has been done, and Dean will just have to deal with the aftermath.
“Cas came running outside and into my arms,” Jo continues. “He buried his face in my shoulder and cried for a long time. He kept muttering incoherent sentences, and I was just dizzy. Raphael’s words rang in my mind over and over, and they did for months after that.” Jo takes a moment to collect herself, and Dean reminds himself to breathe.
“I think that’s when the depression really kicked in for Cas. That’s when he really started becoming quiet. He pushed all of his friends away – though he didn’t have many to begin with – just the kids in Writer’s Club. Anna took him to see a few therapists, and I just remember seeing how miserable he was. Lucifer let up on his teasing him, but I knew his self-esteem had been shot so far beyond repair.”
Dean closes his eyes, fighting the dizziness. He can’t keep hearing about this, knowing that it would only get worse, knowing that he let it get worse.
“Eventually, Cas did begin to smile again. I talked to him at least once a week then, making sure he really was okay. Summer came and went, and we didn’t really see each other, so that’s why I haven’t talked to him much this year. And he’s been so happy with you. I – I didn’t even think about Raphael being the cause of all this. Once Cas was happy again, I figured they’d worked everything out. I didn’t – I – “ She breaks off, sighing heavily. After a minute, she says quietly, “I should have realized, Dean. I’m sorry.”
“No, no,” Dean says sternly, getting a hold of himself somewhat. “It’s not your fault, Jo. This is just one big mess that Raphael created.”
Jo sighs. “You’re right. God, I just hope he gets what’s coming to him.”
“Oh, he will,” Dean assures. “Anna and Michael have already talked to the police.”
Dean can almost see the bittersweet smirk when Jo says, “Good. I wouldn’t want to round up an angry mob.”
Dean forces a laugh, but it sounds so obviously humorless.
“Dean?” Jo asks after a few seconds.
“Will you call me when it’s okay for me to see Cas?” she asks.
“Of course,” Dean replies.
“Thank you,” Jo says sincerely. “Well, I’ll let you go now.”
Dean nods, then realizes that Jo can’t see him. “Alright,” he says. “I’ll call you, Jo.”
He hangs up and curls his fingers slowly around his phone, heaving a deep breath. His stomach turns and his head gives a spin as his brain muddles over the conversation he just had. He squeezes his eyes shut for a second, trying to breathe around the constriction in his chest. He reaches up and runs his palm roughly over his face, then gives himself a shake. He needs to get up, needs to get out of here and back to his family and friends. He needs to calm the hurricane of emotions inside of him.
Dean picks himself up off the ground, feeling unsteady. He flushes the toilet and stumbles from the bathroom, making his way back to the waiting room. His legs feel like jell-O, and his head feels way too heavy for his body.
As Dean walks into the lobby area, he sees that everyone is standing up. His eyes scan the scene and that’s when he spots the nurse talking to everyone. He picks up speed, hurrying around the chairs.
“What’s going on?” he asks, heart pounding in his ears.
“I was just telling everyone that Castiel has been moved to a room for recovery,” the nurse says calmly. Dean breathes a sigh of relief. “He’s fine. Just a broken rib and a sprained wrist. It was the blood loss that was most dangerous. We had to give him a transfusion, but he’s all bandaged up now, and he should be recovered in just a few days.”
“Is he awake?” Dean asks.
The nurse nods. “He was just barely conscious when I left, but if you want to see him, family is allowed right now.”
Dean’s heart sinks, and a lump rises in his throat. “Could you make one exception?” he asks. “Please?”
The nurse hesitates, looking apologetic.
“Would it be alright if he took my place?” Michael asks. Dean looks over at him, surprised. “It’s alright,” he assures. “I can wait to see Cas.”
The nurse sighs. “I suppose. Come along, then.”
Dean puts an arm on Michael’s upper arm before leaving, muttering a quick and honest, “Thank you.”
Michael smiles sadly, “Tell him I’m here, will you? And that I’ll visit him later?”
Dean nods, following after Anna. His breath is short as he walks down the hall, fingers drumming against his leg. He’s gone from angry and disgusted to relieved and elated in a matter of minutes. He just wants this moment of peace with Cas. He swallows hard as the nurse stops outside a closed door. She pushes it open slowly, peeking her head inside.
“Is he awake?” she asks, and Dean assumes there must be another nurse inside.
“Yeah – come on in.”
Dean takes a deep breath as they’re ushered inside, but it hardly matters because once he gets a look at Cas in the hospital bed, he stops breathing anyway. Cas is sitting up just the slightest, an IV stuck in his hand and nasal plugs stuffed up his nose. Bruises cover the majority of his face, but the swelling has gone down. He looks positively exhausted, but he manages a weak smile when he sees Anna and Dean.
“Hey,” Dean says softly, smiling back.
“Hello, Dean,” Cas says, and God, he sounds awful too.
Dean lets out a small laugh, and then he’s walking straight up to Cas’s bedside. Cas pushes himself up as much as he can, reaching out and wrapping his arms tightly around Dean’s neck. Dean cradles him carefully, and suddenly tears are streaming down his face, his throat tight as he buries his face in the crook of Cas’s neck.
“I was scared,” he whispers. “I was so scared I was gonna lose you, Cas. All that blood – “ The memory of the ambulance ride comes rushing back to Dean, and he holds Cas just slightest bit tighter.
“I’m sorry,” Cas breathes. “I didn’t mean for things to get this bad, Dean.”
Dean pulls his head up, shaking it. “No,” he says, “Cas, you have nothing to apologize for.” He leans forward, gently pressing his lips to Castiel’s. He takes a moment to just breathe Cas in before pulling away and kissing his nose, his cheek, his forehead, and then back down to his lips again. “God, I’m just so glad you’re alive.”
Cas chuckles slightly. “Me too.”
Dean straightens up with a sad smile, allowing Anna to come forward. She hugs Cas for a long minute, not saying a word. Dean rubs a hand over his mouth, blinking fast. He’s starting to forget how to breathe.
“Dean?” Anna looks back, gesturing for him to join them. She sits at Cas’s feet and Dean leans against the side of his bed. Cas reaches out carefully, grabbing Dean’s hand and entwining their fingers.
They talk for a good twenty minutes before Cas’s eyelids start drooping. They don’t talk about what happened or who did it. The talk about the Pre-Calc exam that Cas is missing and how he’s glad he now has a few extra days to study for it. Dean scoffs, pointing out that Cas is a genius and if anyone needs help with math, it’s himself. Cas’s eyes blink heavily a few times, and he lays his head against Dean’s arm.
“You tired?” Dean asks.
Cas hums quietly, “Mmmhmm.”
Anna rubs his leg gently before standing up. “I should go call Mom,” she says softly. “I’ll let you sleep, Cas.”
Dean pulls away as well, telling Cas, “Michael’s here. He let me take his spot as family to come see you, so I’ll let him say goodnight before you conk out.” He presses one lass kiss to Cas’s cheek.
“You’ll come back tomorrow?”
“Right when you wake up,” Dean promises, nodding. He turns away, following Anna to the door. Pausing in the doorway, he says, “I love you, Cas.”
“I love you too, Dean.”
“I left to give you two some time alone, you know,” Anna says when Dean catches up to her.
He blinks, mildly confused before he says, “We’ll have plenty of time later. But Anna, listen – “ He breaks off, taking a deep breath. “I know what’s going on.”
She stops walking and turns around to face him. “You do?” she asks, raising her eyebrows skeptically.
“It’s Raphael, isn’t it?” Dean asks.
All the color drains from Anna’s face, and she grabs Dean’s arm, pulling him aside. “How do you know?” she asks, eyebrows now creasing together.
“It wasn’t that hard to figure out,” Dean replies. “Cas has told me what his attitude’s like, and well, when I found it wasn’t Lucifer and that Cas was lying, I figured there was only one person it could be. I called Jo, she told me a few stories, and well…”
Anna looks away, heaving a sigh. “Don’t say anything to Cas,” she says sternly, looking back to him. “You’re still going to have to wait for him to tell you. Give him that control, at least.”
Dean nods. “I will, Anna – don’t worry.”
“Thank you,” Anna says with a nod.
Dean opens his mouth to say something, but hesitates.
“What?” Anna asks.
“It’s just – I know it’s Raphael, but I don’t know the whole story. Could you tell me now?”
Anna sighs again, thinking for a moment. “Alright, I’ll tell you what,” she says. “I really do need to call my mother and update her on what’s going on with Cas, and Michael should get his chance to see Cas, so let’s go deal with that first, and then I’ll tell you somewhere more private.”
Dean nods. “Sounds like a deal.”
The heat is blasting in Anna’s car, but Dean’s still chilly. He rubs his hands together, hunching up his shoulders. After a minute, he relaxes and turns to Anna’s, who’s still silent.
“Alright,” he says, “What’s going on?”
“Well,” Anna starts, “Raphael’s been beating, Cas – I mean, that much you know, right?”
“For how long?” Dean asks, and now he’s not entirely sure he wants to know all of this.
“Since homecoming,” Anna replies, “That was the first night he hit Cas. He was drunk and angry and when Cas came home late, he just sort of lost it I guess. And that’s the way it’s been for months. When he’s upset, when he’s had a bad day, he goes to the fridge and grabs a beer. When that doesn’t soothe things, he goes to Cas. If Cas pisses him off when he’s not drunk – well, it doesn’t matter. If Cas disobeys him, if someone is suspicious on Cas’s behalf – if anything involving Cas disrupts Raphael’s day, Cas gets a beating.”
Dean’s chest is already tightening. He takes a deep breath and swallows against the lump in his throat.
“And today?” he asks, “What happened today that made Raphael so upset?”
Anna heaves a deep breath, looking at him. “You really want to know?”
Dean nods, feeling his spine tingle at her expression. He doesn’t really want to know – it’s more he just feels like he needs to.
“Well, he lost his job this morning,” Anna says, “If that wasn’t enough, there was this video. Um – one of Lucifer’s friends, I’m guessing. He showed up at the door with this video.”
Dean freezes, feeling the oxygen leave his lungs, the blood drain from his face. One of Lucifer’s friends. “But I asked Lucifer,” he says quietly, “He said none of his friends were doing anything.”
“It’s possible he didn’t know,” Anna points out, “I mean, why would he pass up this opportunity to mess with Cas if he’d done something like this in the past?”
“Wait – what did this guy do?” Dean asks, his heart racing hard against his throat.
“Like I said – he had a video. It – it was a video of Lucifer and you fighting,” Anna says quietly. “And you – you said – “
“I said that Cas and I were dating,” Dean says, voice barely above a whisper, “And that I loved him.”
That’s when it starts to dawn on Dean. He knew there would be consequences for blurting that out. Jo had told him, and he’d agreed. He just didn’t know they would be this bad. Dean hunches over in his seat, putting his head in his hands. He’s most definitely going to be sick again.
“Yeah,” Anna says softly. “So that and losing his job, Raphael was pretty furious. He came upstairs after talking to that kid and started yelling at Cas. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, blaming everything on Cas, saying things like it was his fault for tainting Raphael’s name with his lifestyle, that the reason he was fired was because no one wanted to be associated with him – and by extension, his faggot step-son. Cas, he – he got upset then. That was when he cracked. He’d been so fed up, and he just let go. He stood up to Raphael, and well, you know what happened next.”
“Oh, god,” Dean mutters, closing his eyes. He shakes his head a little. “Anna, if I – if there was no video –“
“Dean, don’t even start,” Anna says seriously. “One little thing like that wasn’t going to make things any better or worse. Raphael already knew Cas was involved with guys before today. That video hardly changed a thing. He was pissed, and he was looking for someone to blame, and as always, Cas was right there. I told you – it’s been like this for months, video or not.”
“But, Anna – “
“Ah!” Anna says warningly, holding up a hand, “Dean, don’t you dare blame yourself. This isn’t your fault. This isn’t Cas’s. This isn’t anybody’s but Raphael’s. He did the damage, and he’ll be the one paying for it.”
Dean swallows hard, and lifts his head up slowly. Evidently, he’s not going to be able to beat himself up in front of Anna. He’s silent for a few minutes, trying to take everything in. So much has happened in just the last twelve hours. He’s not even sure if he can make sense of it anymore. Right now, he’s simply buried in the thoughts of a Lucifer sidekick showing Raphael footage of that fight. His own words are ringing in his ears as bile works its way up his throat.
Without a word, Dean exits the car. He doubles over in the neighboring parking space, falling to his knees as he heaves and throws up everything in his stomach. A car door slams behind him, and then Anna’s voice sounds frantically from somewhere to his left. Her hand finds his back, soothing him as he finishes. His strength is leaving him fast, and Anna wraps her arms around his waist, supporting him.
“Hang in there, Dean,” she says, “We’ll go get your brother and Bobby to take you home. You need rest.”
Dean allows her to help him up, and it’s like he slips into a daze as she pulls him through the halls and back to the waiting room. He watches as she talks to Sam and Bobby, but he can’t make sense of the words. He’s exchanged between Anna and Bobby, and Bobby wraps his arm around Dean’s shoulder. Dean leans against Bobby as they make their way out to the car, and on the way home, he closes his eyes, urging sleep to claim him. The next time he opens his eyes, they’re in the driveway.
Dean follows them both inside, still completely out of it. He treks the stairs up to his bedroom and changes into his pajamas, his thought still just a jumbled mess. It seems the trauma’s finally getting to him. He’s nauseous, his head hurts, and exhaustion is gripping him like a vice, but his brain’s still trying to fight through, simply resulting in a hazy mess.
Heaving a deep breath, Dean collapses to the edge of his bed. He’s not sure how much time passes as he stares at the ground, but the next thing he knows, Sam’s knocking on the door. He doesn’t wait for Dean to answer, and in a second he’s coming through the doorway, stopping once he gets sight of Dean. He makes his way over to join Dean, sitting down on the bed next to him.
“Are you okay?” he asks, and Dean almost laughs. What a stupid question.
“No,” he says quietly anyway, “Not really.”
“It’ll be okay, Dean,” Sam says, “I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but it will be.”
It’s silent for a long moment, and then Sam says, “You can talk to me if you want. You know that, right, Dean?”
Dean shakes his head. “I don’t even know where to begin, Sammy.”
“Sure you do,” Sam says, “Just talk to me, Dean. What’s on your mind right this second?”
Dean tenses, pressing his lips together. “Sam, I just – it’s my fault. It’s my fault Cas is in the hospital, Sam.”
“Why?” Sam asks, sounding confused.
Dean laughs, humorless, nearly hysterical. “Because I’m a fucking idiot. We agreed to keep our relationship a secret, but I went ahead and told the whole school anyway. And fucking Raphael found out and beat the shit out of Cas because he was already upset. And he’s been beating Cas for months – since homecoming – and I haven’t even noticed, Sam. I’ve seen the bruises, I saw the change in his behavior, but God, Sam – I didn’t even notice.”
“Dean – “
The tears start falling now, fast.
“It’s all my fault, Sam. All my fault.”
Tears turn into sobs, and Dean’s clutching at his chest, trying to fight it so he can breathe, but it doesn’t work. Sam reaches out, and his arms wrap around Dean’s waist, pulling him closer. Dean leans against him, resting his head on Sam’s shoulder as he cries, wishing that he couldn’t feel like this, wishing he couldn’t feel a damn thing.
Chapter 14: Chapter 13
I'm so sorry it took me so long to update, but here it is, and there's only one chapter left to go!
Dean wakes up early the next morning, his head aching. He doesn’t even try to sort through his thoughts. Instead he stumbles downstairs and makes himself a cup of coffee, and then a few more. After cup number five, he’s finally ready to start the day. He gets dressed, and after a scribbling a note for Bobby and Sam, heads to the hospital.
It’s not exactly visiting hours, but Dean finds one of Castiel’s nurses and she lets him in the room, urging him to be quiet before she leaves to continue on her job. Dean steps inside carefully, a smile tugging at his lips when he sees Castiel asleep
His eyes move over to the sleeping figure in the chair next to Cas, her face turned away from Dean. The red hair gives clue to Anna, but when Dean walks over to look at her, he sees that it’s not. Dean’s only seen her a few times – usually when he picks up Cas in the morning for school and drops him off. Typically, they share quick Hello’s and then Dean’s gone.
Suddenly, Dean feels like he’s intruding, and he turns away towards the door. Dean knows that Cas hasn’t had a close relationship with his mother since his father died, and he decides to leave this moment to them.
On his way out, he runs into Anna, and somehow, they end up inside a breakfast diner fifteen minutes later. Dean sits hunched over the table, his hands folded together. He stares down at the plastic tabletop for awhile, trying to piece together his thoughts. There’s a lot on his mind, but there’s one thing in particular that keeps nudging at him.
“So,” Dean starts, looking up at Anna. “How’s – how’s your mom doing with all of this?”
Anna shrugs. “Mostly, she’s worried about Cas. I don’t imagine she desires to lose someone else in the family.”
Dean nods understandingly. “Did she know?” he asks quietly. “Did she know Raphael was doing this?”
Anna lets out a sigh, shifting her weight. “I think … somewhere in her mind, she did know. But I also think that, like Cas, she chose to ignore it. She pushed it to the back of her mind and kept going with her life.”
He knows he shouldn’t be judging people in this situation. He is the one, after all, who prompted a part of Raphael’s anger, and if he didn’t have so many other things to worry about, the guilt would be eating him alive. (It’s coming very close to that, but not close enough).
Anna stiffens. “Dean,” she starts warningly, “you don’t know my mother. Her and Cas – they aren’t close, and I don’t imagine he’s told you much about her.” Dean looks away from her, suddenly feeling guilty. “Look, it’s – it’s complicated. I do love my mother. I love her a great deal. Michael turned his back on her, but I couldn’t. We were extremely close until my father died, and she just – she was lifeless. But I can’t blame her, Dean. My father’s death hit all of us extremely hard, especially given the way he died. And Dean, I’m sure you can understand what it’s like when someone you love dies – it’s not easy, is it?”
Dean feels himself tense up slight, and he keeps looking down. He hasn’t talked about his father’s death for a while. He’s been healing but he’s nowhere near moved on, and Anna’s words have caught him off guard. “No,” he agrees quietly. “No, it’s not.”
Anna nods, evidently pleased with his answer. “It was difficult, Dean. Extremely difficult.” She sighs again, and then adds quietly, “You know, sometimes I think it’s a miracle we didn’t lose her in the same way.”
Dean’s quiet, not quite sure what to say to that, but luckily the conversation is dropped when the server brings them their meals. Dean’s appetite has deteriorated for the most part, and he doesn’t eat much. Half of his food is left when he follows Anna out of the restaurant.
When they return to the hospital, the Miltons’ mother is gone, and Michael has taken her spot. He’s sitting in the very same chair, joking around with Cas. Dean notices that the nasal plugs are gone from Cas’s nostrils, and he’s sitting up straight, obviously much stronger. He smiles, following Anna over to Cas’s bed.
Cas shrugs. “The painkillers are helping to some extent,” he sighs. “Not a very large extent.”
“Hey, Cas,” Anna says. “How are you feeling?”
Anna frowns, reaching down to rub his leg. “I’m sorry.”
Cas waves it off, pushing himself up a little more. He looks past Anna, staring straight at Dean. “You can come over here, you know,” he says softly.
Dean feels his stomach do a flip-flop. He’s still filled with guilt, knowing about that video, knowing that Cas knows about that video. He really doesn’t know why Cas isn’t angry with him. He doesn’t know how Cas can look at him and not feel at least some kind of burning hatred. (He supposes that if the tables were turned, he wouldn’t necessarily feel that way towards Cas, but that’s not the point; the point is that he screwed up, and Cas paid for it).
So Dean treads carefully. He flashes Cas a shy smile before walking up to the side of Cas’s bed opposite Michael. Cas shifts over just slightly, moving closer to Dean. Dean knows he’s expecting a kiss, so he leans down, pressing his lips gently to Cas’s cheek. Cas looks a little surprised that it wasn’t on the lips, but says nothing, turning back to his siblings as they question him some more about his health.
About five minutes pass of Cas insisting that he’s fine before there’s a knock on the door. All four heads turn around as a police officer walks into the room – a woman this time. Cas stiffens, his pale face going even whiter. Dean leans down, talking so only Cas can hear.
“Don’t worry about me being here,” he says. “I – I know already Cas. I figured it out last night.”
Cas doesn’t reply, he simply stares at the woman approaching him.
“Hey, Cas,” Jody says, a bittersweet smile on her face. “I heard about what happened and figured you’d be more comfortable with a familiar face.”
Cas offers a shaky nod, trying to calm himself.
Jody’s smile falters, her eyes looking sympathetic. “Evidently, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s alright, Cas,” she says, pulling up a chair next to Dean. “Things like this aren’t easy; don’t feel ashamed.”
Dean reaches out, touching Castiel’s arm lightly. He starts a little at the touch, but after glancing at Dean, he relaxes, letting out the breath he’d been holding in.
“So tell me, Cas,” Jody starts. “How is your relationship with Raphael?”
“Not … good,” Cas says slowly, and Jody gives a small smile.
“Could you be more specific? Has he always been strict with you?”
Cas nods. “Yes. He – he started dating my mother about five years ago, and from the very beginning, he was, um – he was always much harsher with me than my siblings.”
“What exactly did he do back then?” Jody asks.
“Nothing serious, really,” Cas says. “It was just giving me the cold shoulder, things like that. He was never very warm to me.”
Cas reaches up, rubbing the back of his neck. “He doesn’t approve of my sexuality.”
“Did you ever come out to him?” Jody asks, and that’s when Dean knows she’s hit a sore spot. Cas shifts his weight uncomfortably, opening and closing his mouth as he tries to figure out what to say. Dean touches him again, resting a hand on his shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze.
Cas swallows hard. “It was more like I was outed to him,” he starts. “Kids at school – they thought it would be funny to spy on my boyfriend and me at the time and show Raphael the pictures they took. They – they knew what Raphael’s views were, but they didn’t know they’d get such a strong reaction. They never got to show him the actual pictures, because Michael prevented them from doing so, but Raphael knew about them. Just hearing that I had been on a date with a guy was enough. He didn’t get physical then, but I was punished pretty severely, and – and the incident – it had … lasting effects.”
Cas looks down at his lap. “I – I became pretty severely depressed. I’m doing much better now. Even with what happened recently – I was fine.”
“Recently,” Jody repeats. “And what was happening recently, Cas? Are you okay with telling me?”
Castiel nods, taking another deep breath. He makes a jerky movement, looking upward at Dean. Slowly, he takes Dean’s hand from his shoulder, wrapping his fingers tightly around Dean’s.
“He – he, uh, started beating me,” Cas says quietly, gaze locked on his lap.
“When did that start, Cas?” Jody asks softly.
“After homecoming,” Cas replies, voice almost a whisper. “In October. I had spent the night with Dean. We – we went out after the game and I came home late, long after curfew. I went inside and found Raphael in the kitchen. He – he was upset, as any parent would have been, but he gets extremely angry when I disobey him. He knocked me against the wall. I could smell the alcohol on his breath, and that’s when I knew he was drunk.” He breaks off, breathing deep. “He told me that I needed to obey him, and he was upset that I wasn’t meeting his eyes so he – he slapped me. And I guess he enjoyed it, because he did it a second time. When he was finished, he threw me to the ground, and I – I was in shock, so I just curled up right there on the kitchen floor. Anna and Michael found me later and brought me to my room.”
“That was the first time he hit you?” Jody asks, and Cas nods. “How did things progress after that?”
“He didn’t do it again for awhile,” Cas sighs, tightening his grip on Dean’s hand. “But there was a day I spent some time with Dean after school. I had chores to complete before Raphael came home, but he had gotten home early that day. I think he knew that I was with Dean, because when I stepped inside, he was positively livid. He punched me square in the face and gave me a black eye.”
“So these things really tend to revolve around your sexuality and relationships with other men, then?” Jody asks. “Do his triggers seem to be things that have to do with that?”
Castiel thinks for a moment. “Yes, and no. It’s true that my sexuality seems to anger more than anything else, but it seems to me, that whenever he has steam to let off, beating me usually does the trick.”
He can feel his heart beating hard, his throat tightening. It’s getting harder and harder to talk, but Cas knows he needs to. He knows he needs to get this out.
“One of the worst times was when – a teacher called to ask if there was something going on outside of school with me – was our family okay? Was I depressed? He was just generally concerned, but Raphael assumed he was suspicious about the black eye and the bruises on my arms. I told him that I hadn’t said anything, but he – he didn’t – he wouldn’t listen to me.” Cas’s voice shakes. “He threw me across the garage, and I fell on a few empty beer bottles. They sliced into my back and cut it open. My sister, Anna – she tried to clean it all out, but it got infected, and I was sick for about two days. He forbade me to leave the house until I was healed, in case I aroused anymore suspicion. That all happened a few days ago.”
Jody nods, scribbling down a few last words onto her notepad. “And besides your siblings, did anyone know of what was going on? What about your mother? Did she know about this?”
“Honestly?” Cas asks. “I’m not sure. She’s been distant for years, and doesn’t seem to pay attention to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if Raphael had her fooled.” He lets out a sigh. “Other than that, nobody else knew.” He glances briefly at Dean, who glances back, nodding subtly and somberly.
Jody nods, finishing off a few last words before clicking her pen shut and shoving it through the rings in her notepad. She leans forward, resting a hand on Cas’s leg.
“I’m so sorry, Cas,” she says softly. “You just hang in there, alright?” She stands up, offering a sad smile, and after one last sympathetic gaze, leaves the room.
There’s a ringing silence, and what after feels like an eternity, Anna dares to speak. “Are you okay, Cas?”
He doesn’t look up. He just says, “Anna, Michael, may I speak with Dean alone for a moment?”
The two glance at each other before leaving wordlessly.
As soon as they’re out the door, Dean says, “Cas?”
“So, now you know,” Cas says quietly. “You know that I’ve been lying to you and keeping secrets, that it seems I do not trust you enough to confide in you. Dean, I – “ He looks up at last, tears glistening in his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Dean.”
Dean shakes his head, lowering himself so that he’s on his knees next to Castiel’s bed. He holds Cas’s hand firmly in his, looking him straight in the eyes. “Cas, honestly?” he asks. “Are you honestly worried that I might be mad at you?”
“Well, Dean, I – “
“Because, frankly,” Dean continues, “I’m surprised that you’re not angry with me.”
Cas’s eyebrows crease together, evidently confused. “Why would I be angry with you?” he asks.
“I told the whole school we were dating. And that dumbass kid showed Raphael, and Cas, if I hadn’t been so stupid – “
“Dean, stop,” Cas interrupts him. “I don’t blame you, Dean. And this isn’t the first time I’ve been involved with a guy. Raphael knows that.”
Dean sighs. “So everyone keeps telling me. Well, look – I don’t blame you either, okay? By the look on your face while you were talking to Jody, I don’t imagine it would have been easy for you to tell anyone what was going on, least of all, me.”
Cas’s lips twitch – the ghost of a smile. Dean stands up again, pulling Cas into a careful hug.
“Listen to Jody,” Dean says. “Just hang in there, Cas.”
The next few days pass, and though Cas is obviously healing, it’s not a quick process. Dean sits at Cas’s bedside, joking around with him while he’s awake, and holding his hand tightly while he sleeps. They share quick kisses when no one’s looking, and they’ve also developed a habit of saying I love you more often than usual – when one of them goes to sleep or leaves the room or just when they feel it needs to be said. This whole ordeal has made them incredibly scared of losing the other.
Cas only stays in the hospital for three more days, and that’s when they reach a new problem. Anna, Michael, and Castiel can’t stay at the hotel forever; it’s just not practical - they just don’t have the money. There’s only one option, and Dean’s not fighting it this time. Anna and Cas are going to move in with Michael, but still, there’s a lot to be done.
Their mother is staying with her friend for the time being. She’s working on all of the legal stuff – charges against Raphael, the trial, etc. Plus, she’s still got her own job to get to, so it seems that the Miltons will be separated for awhile.
In the case of Michael, he has to prepare his apartment. He has to work on transferring Cas from Pontiac Township to a high school in Chicago. Michael has to go home, but Anna and Castiel still need a place to stay.
Finally, Bobby speaks up.
“Well, you could always stay with us, you know.”
Michael looks over to him. “Are you sure? I mean – it’s going to be more than a few days. A week, probably.”
“Son, I’ll keep them however long it takes. You just get what you need to get done, and don’t worry.”
Michael smiles, reaching out and shaking Bobby’s hand. “Thank you so much, Mr. Singer. I really appreciate it.”
“It’s my pleasure, Mr. Milton.”
And so when it comes time for Cas to be checked out, he piles into the back of Bobby’s car next to Dean and Anna with nothing but a small backpack filled with a few clothing items, his cell phone, his toothbrush, and his school things. (Thankfully, Michael had dared to go back to the house while it seemed that Raphael was gone to grab what Cas and Anna needed; though Dean wouldn’t have minded sharing clothes, to be honest).
They’ve set up the guest bedroom for Cas and Anna, though everyone knows Dean and Cas will ignore it and sleep together. Dean knows Bobby can’t blame them, however. It’s been a rough few weeks for them, and they don’t really wish to be separated. Along with the frequent I love you’s they’ve also developed a recent habit of constantly touching each other – whether it’s barely holding hands, or seated together with their hips touching, or standing shoulder to shoulder – they just need to know that the other is still there, still close. And now that they know Cas is leaving in week, the desire for touch is even stronger.
Dean hoists Castiel’s bags over his shoulder as they head inside, Anna and Sam trailing behind them. Cas moves carefully, very aware of his broken ribs. His painkillers are starting to wear off, and movement is not good. Somehow he makes it into the living room where he collapses onto the couch, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Hey,” Dean says, holding up his bags, “I’m going to go put this up in the guest room, okay?”
Cas nods before turning his head, eyes flickering shut as he breathes heavily. A few minutes later; Dean returns with a glass of water and Tylenol.
“Thank you,” Cas manages to get out as he pushes himself up.
Dean puts out a steadying hand. “Be careful. Take it easy, Cas.”
“I’m fine,” Cas assures before downing the pills.
When Cas is finished, Dean takes the glass of water and sets it on the coffee table before cuddling up next to him.
“How you doing?” Dean asks. “I’m not hurting you, am I?”
Cas leans his head on Dean’s shoulder. “No.”
They stay wrapped around each other until Bobby calls them into the kitchen for dinner. Having put up with hospital food for the last several days, Cas inhales his food, finishing off more than Dean – which is quite impressive.
After dinner, Dean and Cas return to the living room along with Anna and Sam. They watch a movie, and Anna gets up from time to time to talk to Michael, who keeps calling. Cas, exhausted, falls asleep on Dean halfway through the movie and Sam throws a smile at Dean.
Around eleven, Bobby finally insists that everyone go to sleep, and Dean helps Cas upstairs. From there, Cas is able to get himself into pajamas, and he shares the bathroom with Dean as they brush their teeth. Cas decides he’s too tired to wash his face, and he waits outside in the hall as Dean goes to the bathroom.
When he comes out, the hallway is empty, and Dean wastes no time in pulling Cas into a kiss. He’s gentle, cupping Cas’s face carefully in his hand and kissing him slowly. After a minute, Cas pulls away, smirking.
“I’m not sleeping in that guest room with Anna, am I?”
Dean smirks back. “No, you are not.”
In Dean’s room, they quickly crawl into bed, but it’s obvious that with Cas’s condition, they’re not going to do anything sexual. Instead, Dean wraps his arms protectively around Cas’s waist and pulls him close. He tucks his head against the back of Cas’s neck, and Cas lets out a sigh of contentment.
They sit like that for a few minutes, listening to each other breathe. Cas can feel Dean’s heartbeat against his back, and Dean can feel the rise and fall of Cas’s abdomen underneath his hands. They’re alive, safe in each other’s arms.
“Goodnight, Cas,” Dean breathes. He waits for a reply, but when Cas says nothing, he lifts his head up and glances at the side of Cas’s face; he’s asleep. He chuckles softly before snuggling close to Cas again. “Sweet dreams then, angel.”
Chapter 15: Chapter 14
Well, this is it. It's the end. And I just have to say that it's been really fun writing this, even if it was just a pile of angst, and I really need to thank all of my friends who read this and continued to give me support and all of you who don't know me but have read this. I was really nervous going into this thing, but you guys made it so worthwhile. :)
When Dean wakes up, his arms are no longer hugging Castiel – the space beside him is empty. Dean glances at the clock, his brain barely making out the fuzzy eight twenty-one. He pushes himself up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He stretches, looking around the room, and that’s when he spots the note on Castiel’s pillow. Curious, he reaches out for it.
Pages 23 and 62.
I had trouble sleeping, but I didn’t want to wake you. I’m outside if you need me.
Dean stares at Cas’s loopy handwriting for a few minutes before they actually start to make sense. Outside? It’s December. Dean hopes Cas isn’t freezing to death out there. And the page numbers? It takes Dean another minute or two before he realizes Cas is most likely referring to the poetry book. Dean throws the note back on his bed and stands up. He makes his way over to his desk where Castiel’s book lays, and he picks it up, cradling it carefully in his hand. He flips to page twenty-three and smoothes out the paper.
in a middle of a room
stands a suicide
sniffing a Paper rose
smiling to a self
"somewhere it is Spring and sometimes
people are in real:imagine
somewhere real flowers,but
I can't imagine real flowers for if I
could,they would somehow
not Be real"
(so he smiles
smiling)"but I will not
everywhere be real to
you in a moment"
The is blond
with small hands
"& everything is easier
than I had guessed everything would
be;even remembering the way who
looked at whom first,anyhow dancing"
(a moon swims out of a cloud
a clock strikes midnight
a finger pulls a trigger
Dean feels his eyebrows crease together, his brain trying to piece together what Cas is trying to say. But as soon as he sees the title of the next poem –“my father moved through dooms of love” – he begins to understand.
my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height
this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm
newly as from unburied which
floats the first who,his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots
and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.
Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin
joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice
keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father’s dream
his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.
Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain
septembering arms of year extend
yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is
proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark
his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he’d laugh and build a world with snow.
My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)
then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine,passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold
giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am
though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit,all bequeath
and nothing quite so least as truth
—i say though hate were why men breathe—
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all
Dean looks over this poem for a long time, moving over to sit on his bed. He’s read this poem countless times, as it reminds him of the father he’d wished he’d had, but it’s never really struck him that it could remind Cas of his.
Dean lowers the book, slapping it on his thigh, as he’s enveloped by his thoughts. He wonders if this is what Mr. Milton was like – if he woke up every morning and sang while he made breakfast. If he was the neighbor that everyone loved and who they chatted with every morning before he left for work. If he was that father who went to every school event and talked with the other parents and cheered on his kids like no other. If he was the dad Dean always imagined John could be. Sighing, he closes the book and puts it on his nightstand.
Quietly, Dean makes his way downstairs where he grabs his coat from the front closet and stuffs his feet into snow boots. He opens the door carefully and steps outside. The snow crunches underneath his feet as Dean walks around, looking for Cas. At last, Dean finds him by the pond, sitting on the edge of the rundown dock. Dean hurries forward, and he draws nearer he sees that Cas is nothing but sneakers, pajama pants, and a t-shirt.
“Cas, you’re going to freeze to death,” Dean says incredulously.
He immediately shrugs out of his jacket, grateful for the sweatshirt underneath. He drapes his coat over Cas’s shoulders before sitting down beside him. Cas’s hands move up to grasp it, and he smiles lazily at Dean.
“Are you okay?” Dean asks, raising his eyebrows.
Cas nods, yawning. “I’m tired,” he admits. “However, my thoughts have kept me awake most of the night.”
Dean wraps an arm around Cas’s shoulders. “What have you been thinking about?”
“You found the note, did you not?” Cas asks.
Dean nods. “Yeah, I did. I read the poems.”
“Then you can probably guess I’ve been thinking about my parents,” Cas replies. “I’ve missed my father quite a bit recently, as you can imagine. And it seems … my mother and I have reached a turning point.” He heaves a deep breath, looking out over the expanse of the pond.
“Good or bad?” Dean asks.
“Good,” Castiel says firmly. “She came to see me that first night, you know – in the hospital. She slept at my bedside all night. If I were to be completely honest, I wouldn’t have guessed she even cared about what had happened to me.”
“But she does?” Dean asks, and there’s not a drop of judgment in his voice; he’s honestly just curious.
Cas nods. “When I woke up in the morning, she didn’t say a lot, but there’s just something different about her. She constantly watched my vitals, got me food and helped me eat it. She was just generally very concerned about me, and it was – suddenly, it was like she was my mother again. Usually, when there’s something wrong – when I’m upset, or when I’m sick, it’s Anna who takes care of me. My mother will ask Anna if I’m okay, if she needs help with anything, but she’ll never come to me herself. But that morning – it was all her.”
“And you’re happy about that?” Dean asks, watching his expression carefully.
Castiel’s lips give a twitch, the hint of a smirk. “I’m very happy about that.” He’s quiet for a second, thinking. “She’s the one who decided to press charges against Raphael. Obviously, I would have liked to as well, but she told us that no matter what anyone else thought, she was going to press charges, and it was like that was the moment we all saw the change in her. No one said anything, but Michael stood up and hugged her. He’s forgiven her as well – Michael, I mean.” He heaves another deep breath. “All these years, Dean – I never understood my mother. I was never able to get inside her head, but it’s clear to me now that I take after her quite a bit. I always understood my father. His pain was written across his face and in how he carried himself, so it was easier for me to get a handle on. Once I sunk into depression, it was simple. I knew instantly where his actions had come from, but my mother? It was so hard to figure her out. It’s funny now, because I realize I’m exactly like her.”
Dean’s eyebrows crease together. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Castiel starts with a sigh. “My father was her whole world. Losing him – I don’t even want to imagine what it was like for her, but you know, I think I’ve gotten a taste.” He looks at Dean for a second, eyes tracing over the lines on his face, staring for a long moment into Dean’s eyes. “It was only one of many reasons, but I didn’t want to tell anyone what was happening because I knew I’d be taken away from you. I couldn’t bear to leave you, Dean.”
Dean’s heart skips a beat, and he looks away from Cas, shaking his head. “We’re staying together. You know that, right?” He turns back to Cas, smiling lopsidedly.
“Now, I do,” Cas says. “But when I was still living in fear every day, my judgment wasn’t exactly good. Leaving you was probably one of the worst things I could think of.” It’s quiet for a moment as Cas turns his head away from Dean. After a beat, Dean pulls his arm from around Cas’s shoulders, and instead, takes his hand, holding it tightly.
“I guess my mother was the same way,” Cas continues. “Losing my father completely altered her judgment. Anna, Michael, and I – we all knew how much my father’s death changed her. We could see because she stopped smiling and laughing. She spent most of the day locked away in her room. She got demoted, and nearly lost her job. Eventually, all traces of the mother we knew just disappeared. Michael became the caretaker of the household, and once he went off to college, that responsibility fell to Anna.”
“Everything changed when my mother met Raphael. She started smiling again, she started laughing, but still, she was incomplete. Raphael was nothing like my father, but he was someone that my mother could depend on, someone that could distract her from the pain, but only slightly, because my mother never did learn to deal with the loss of my father. Even now, I can see it in her – it still hurts her so much, and I know she blames herself completely for what Raphael did to me. She told me – she told me that she knew Raphael wasn’t good for our family, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave him because he was the only constant thing she had. She has us – she knows that now, but Dean, I can see exactly where she’s coming from. I understand why it was so hard for her to deal with the pain, and why she pushed everything back all these years, because – that’s exactly what I’ve been doing these past months.”
Cas finishes by exhaling roughly one last time. He looks to Dean, staring at him for a second before he moves closer and rests his head on Dean’s shoulder. Dean wraps his arms around Castiel’s shoulders again, letting out a sigh.
“What are you thinking?” Cas asks.
“I’m thinking that you think too much,” Dean replies with a small laugh. “But I’m happy for you, Cas. I’m glad you’ve worked everything out with your mother, and I’m glad you’re getting out of here and going somewhere safe.”
Cas doesn’t say anything right away, but after a minute or two, he murmurs, “I’m tired.”
Dean laughs again, leaning down to press a kiss to the top of Cas’s head. “Good thing my bed’s warm and waiting for you. Come on.”
Thanks to Mr. Wyatt’s help with Cas’s transfer, Michael is ready for Anna and Castiel to move in just after four days. Cas is to finish school on Friday, and then on Saturday, he and Anna head for Chicago. The last few days go by way too fast, and Friday hits Dean like a bullet.
By now, all of the kids know what happened to Castiel, and as it’s their last chance to say something, many come up to Cas throughout the day, telling him that they’re so sorry, that they hope he’ll be happier in Chicago, and that they’ll miss him. Cas knows better, but he always thanks them politely. The most interesting moment comes after school when Cas and Dean are walking out to the parking lot.
“Castiel?” a voices asks from behind them.
Both of them turn around slowly, confused. It’s Lucifer, completely alone with his hands in his pockets. Dean grips Cas’s elbow protectively.
“What do you want?” he asks, narrowing his eyes.
“I wanted to talk to Castiel,” Lucifer snaps, eyes flashing at Dean. He takes a deep breath before turning back to Cas. “I wanted to apologize,” he starts. “Look man, I had no idea that Alastair was doing anything to mess with you. That video stunt was all his idea, and I just – I’m sorry we ever did anything in the past with Raphael. We thought it was just all fun and games, but obviously, it wasn’t. You don’t have to forgive me or anything, I just wanted you to know I’m sorry I had any hand in all of this, and I’m glad you’re okay.”
Castiel stands very still for a moment, staring at Lucifer with curious eyes. Slowly, he moves forward, pulling himself from Dean’s grip. He holds his hand out, saying, “I do forgive you, Lucifer. I’m glad we could settle things before I left.”
Lucifer takes his hand carefully, giving it a shake. “Good luck in Chicago, man.”
Cas smiles. “Thank you.”
“Yeah whatever,” Lucifer replies, smiling back just slightly.
Cas turns back, grabbing Dean’s hand, and with a final glance at Lucifer, they head outside to Dean’s car.
That night, Dean is quiet. No one questions it; they know it’s because Cas is leaving. Dean doesn’t eat much at dinner either, and afterwards, he sits snuggled up next to Cas on the couch, not saying a word. He just breathes Cas in, feeling his warmth, cataloging this down in his mind.
Eventually, Cas leans down, nipping Dean’s ear, and he asks Dean if they’d like to go upstairs and do something else. Dean looks up with wide eyes, whispering about how they’re family is right here, and Cas shrugs, arguing that this is what they’d expect, and if they keep it down, no one will notice anyway. Dean gives in, and they make their way up to his room carefully.
Hours later, Cas has fallen asleep wrapped around Dean, who couldn’t sleep if his life depended on it. After glancing at Cas to make sure he’s really out, Dean shimmies carefully from underneath the covers. He grabs his boxers from the floor and pulls them on, as well as a T-shirt. Quietly, he stands up and walks over to his desk.
Cas is leaving tomorrow morning. Michael is driving down early to pick them up before noon. Which means Dean and Cas only have hours left to spend with each other, and Dean literally has no idea how to say goodbye. He knows that Cas will be back in a week because the Miltons are spending Christmas with them, but after that, Dean doesn’t know when he’ll see Cas again. Spring break hopefully, and summer break seems like a logical option, but still – Dean doesn’t know. He just wishes they would have had more time to figure this all out instead of rushing Cas off as soon as possible.
Dean lets out a sigh, his gaze moving over to Cas’s figure asleep underneath the sheets that pool around his hips. He’s lying on his stomach, his back is completely exposed, hickeys visible near his neck. His mouth is open, the tiniest of snores escaping, and Dean can’t help but smile. He looks so peaceful, so at ease after all the stress he’s been put through. Dean presses his lips together, swallowing hard.
After what feels like days, he finally manages to look away from Cas, turning towards his desk and looking for any kind of distraction. And that’s when he spots Cas’s poetry book. Dean reaches out, grabbing it. He’ll probably have to give this back, huh? Dean opens it, paging through the poems one last time. When he comes to the end, he smoothes his hand over one of the blank pages at the back, and an idea hits him like a bullet.
Dean sets the book down, searching his entire desk until he finds a pen. He pulls out a piece of paper, and uncaps the pen. Looking back at Cas one more time for inspiration, he begins.
In total, Dean gets forty-five minutes of sleep. He wakes up to see Cas sitting up, rubbing sleep from him eyes.
Cas looks down, a little startled. “I didn’t know you were awake,” he says, voice raspy.
“I’ve been awake all night,” Dean says, a little sour as he pushes himself up.
“Are you that anxious about me moving to Chicago?” Cas asks
Cas smiles, leaning down to kiss Dean softly. “I’m only going to be living a maximum of two hours from here. That’s hardly a thing to be worked up about.”
“Two hours is long drive, Cas,” Dean sighs. “Especially with the amount of gas money I have.”
“I’ll get a job,” Cas replies. “I’d be perfectly content with driving down here when it’s convenient.”
“Still,” Dean says softly. “I just don’t like the idea of not seeing you every day.”
“We’ll survive,” Cas says confidently before leaning down for another kiss.
Michael shows up around eleven, and everyone’s all lined up to say their goodbyes. Anna’s talking tearfully with her mother who’s staying behind until she finalizes a move with her work (she’s hoping to move to a larger branch of reality in Chicago). Dean, Jo, and Cas hang around the back of Dean’s car in silence. Dean holds onto Cas’s hand tightly, and Jo has her arm wrapped around Cas’s shoulders.
“Cas?” Jo asks suddenly.
“I know you’re probably going to be coming back for Dean, but you gotta promise me you’ll include me in stuff. Like if you guys go out to see a movie or something. I’m gonna miss you, Cas, and I’ll want to see you too.”
Cas nods. “It would be my pleasure, Jo.”
“You should come over for New Year’s,” Dean says. “Cas’ll be here then.”
Jo smiles. “Sounds like a plan.”
They fall into silence again, feeling the separation coming closer. And of course, within a minute, Michael is calling them over. He’s shoving the last of Castiel’s luggage into his trunk.
“You ready?” he asks, slamming the lid shut.
Cas nods, turning back towards Dean.
“Well,” Dean says, heaving a sigh, “I’m really going to miss you, Cas.”
Cas bites lip, looking down at their entwined fingers. “I’m going to miss you as well, Dean.”
“But,” Dean continues, and he’s walking backward, pulling Cas with him, “I’ve got something to give you first.”
He drags Cas up to the porch, and grabs the poetry book off of the railing where he’d left it. “Here,” he says. “I figured you’d be needing it back.”
Cas takes it, turning it over in his fingers. He doesn’t say anything for a minute, just watches the book as he runs his fingers along it. “No,” he says at last, holding the book out to Dean. “Keep it, Dean.”
Dean shakes his head, smiling. “It’s yours, Cas. Besides, there’s something in there I want you to have. Something for you to remember me by when you’re missing me or something.” He rubs the back of his neck, watching as Cas, looking confused, opens it. “It’s in the back.”
Cas finds the page, Dean’s handwriting sticking out against the print. His breath hitches, and he looks up, eyes wide.
“Read it,” Dean insists.
Cas looks down wordlessly and does so.
life is no
walk through god’s pampered garden
batters people; tea
rs them to pieces
they float on
outstretched to the
heavens that stole them away
i stay grounded
in your firm
embrace and i
pray only to your featherlight
you are no angel
(you never were)
you were only
you; scared self-loathing
you; beautiful courageous
for my tired and frightful
my catastrophe of
the night stars moon
of rain lightning thunder
life is no
easy feat but
it is Heaven
When Cas looks up again, his eyes are wet. He smiles and opens his mouth, but chokes on the words that he tries to say.
“It’s called ‘Castiel,’” Dean says, swallowing hard. “Like I said, I couldn’t sleep last night, and – "
And then Cas’s arms around his neck, his lips crashing against Dean’s. He kisses Dean’s cheek, his nose, his forehead, his other cheek, his lips, and then he’s pressing their foreheads together, breathing, “I love you so much. That poem – it’s – it’s beautiful, Dean. Thank you.”
Dean shrugs, blushing. “I needed some way to occupy myself. And I’ve had those damn poems running around my head for months.”
Cas laughs, pulling away and shaking his head. He looks down, heaving a sigh. “Well, Dean,” he says heavily, “it’s about time to say goodbye.”
Dean nods, licking his lips.
“Only for a week,” Cas adds.
Dean offers a sad smile before wrapping his arm around Cas and walking him to Michael’s car. They kiss one last time, rushed, desperate, and needy, before Cas is lowering himself into the backseat, book tucked underneath his armpit, and his hand giving Dean’s fingers a last squeeze.
Dean watches as the car disappears down the driveway, feeling a pang in his chest. An arm tucks itself around his, and Jo’s leaning her head on Dean’s shoulder.
“He won’t be gone forever, you know.”
“I know,” Dean sighs, “but distance still sucks.”
They stand there for another minute in silence before Jo straightens up and claps Dean on the back. “Come on,” she says. “I know just what’ll cheer you up.” She grabs onto Dean’s hand, pulling him towards the house.
“What?” Dean asks, agitated.
“I’m going to take you and your family out for lunch at my mom’s restaurant.”
Dean perks up. “You have pie?”
Jo rolls her eyes before nodding.