Eight-year-old Dean Winchester lay on his stomach over a long and sturdy branch of a tall Marylebone Elm tree. Thick and abundant evergreen leaves shaded him from the scorching sun. The city of London, England currently experienced an nontraditional heat wave in the summer of 1887. Dean visited his grandfather the Duke of Campbell who after not speaking to his only child, Mary for a decade, finally extended an olive branch to his daughter.
Samuel arranged a haste marriage between Mary and John Winchester, a young ranch hand from the States that struck oil in Texas. A 28-year-old John arrived in England ten years prior to purchase himself a pretty aristocratic wife which was all the rage. Nouveau rich Americans visited the Continent to buy themselves a title into their family. Being female meant Mary would not inherit her father’s dukedom once he expired, but their first-born son would become the next Duke of Campbell. Dean was too young to understand any of this.
He scratched his neck. The freckled skin itched due to the scratchy material of his round collar. Dean frowned as he pulled at the velvet jacket his parents forced him to wear to Fergus Crowley’s tenth birthday party. The Winchester and the youngest member of the Crowley clan mixed like oil and vinegar whenever they were in the same place. Crowley was a spoiled brat who hated to share his toys with any other children.
Mary on rare occasions accepted invitations for afternoon tea with Lady Crowley. While the mothers glanced at the latest fashion magazines from Paris, their sons embarked in wrestling matches always instigated by Crowley. Dean barely touched Fergus’ rolling hoop or tin toy soldiers, and the pudgy boy went ballistic. The butler tended to end with a limp after separating the two combatants.
From the perfect hiding spot up on the tree, Dean glared at his nemesis. The annoying birthday boy along with the rest of the young guests shoved a skinny boy with wild, dark hair unceremoniously. Dean wondered why the other children mocked the boy with the largest and bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Perhaps it was due to his bronzed skin. The boy seemed to be under the sun a lot. His skin reminded Dean of caramel, the opposite of the other British children’s pasty complexions. Dean’s own skin tone held a bronze hue, because back at home in Texas, he always frolicked in the vast acres surrounding the Winchester Ranch.
Now Crowley yelled, “Baby pharaoh!” He pushed the blindfolded dark-haired boy harshly. Dean yanked a leaf from the tree and ripped it in half. He wanted to give the fat, little toad a good beating, but Dean promised mama he’d be on his best behavior this afternoon. Dean recalled the boy’s name being Castiel. What a mouthful!
The children laughed maliciously at the birthday boy’s shenanigans. The group of rambunctious aristocratic children partook of a game called Blind Man’s Bluff and poor Castiel had been designated as “IT” by the birthday boy himself.
A tall and gangly boy with pale eyes made the sound of a camel, causing the others to laugh uncontrollably. Each child took his or her turn thrusting Castiel further away from the garden. Dean sat up ramrod straight when he realized the true intentions of the little bastards. Castiel wobbly swayed several feet from a lily pond. He stretched skinny arms in front of him, desperately searching for something solid to hold onto. The kid with creepy, pale eyes heckled the outsider. The boy waved his hands trying to touch the source of the voice.
Castiel almost stumbled on a rock. Dean had enough. He climbed down the tree like a spider monkey. A couple of branches scratched his bare legs. Another reason for hating the knee length breeches his mother insisted he wear. Most importantly, Dean hated people getting a look at his bow legs. Crowley and the boy with the eerie, pale eyes pushed Castiel closer to the edge of the pond.
“Stop!” Dean bellowed as he approached the group of unruly youngsters.
“The Cowboy finally honors us with his presence.” Crowley covered his heart with one hand.
“Shut your mouth!” The other children stopped laughing and mocking Castiel. Dean grabbed Castiel by the wrist and tugged him along with him. Dean realized the blindfold still covered the shorter boy’s eyes. He instantly plucked it away and tossed the handkerchief on the freshly manicured, verdant grass.
Castiel blinked a couple of times. He rubbed his eyes and took in his surroundings. His electric blue eyes landed on Dean’s forest green orbs. He scrunched his brow, while studying the taller boy’s features. “You’re the American,” he said as Dean released his wrist.
Dean’s mouth remained open forming an O. He finally managed to whisper, “Blue.”
A corner of Castiel’s mouth curved upward. “Pardon me?”
“Your eyes…never seen blue eyes like yours. It’s like God combined all the shades of blue and mixed them into one.”
Castiel blushed and bowed his head. He wiggled his fingers. “The others make fun of me because I am different.”
Dean plopped his derriere on the grass to lean his back against a tree. Castiel copied him. “Why are you different?”
“My mother is Egyptian. That is why my skin is darker than everyone else’s.”
“Looks to me like you enjoy the outdoors. You should see Rufus, one of our ranch hands. Now he was sun burned at birth. Hate to say it, but at night sometimes I can tell he is around, only when he smiles.” Dean nudged the other boy’s shoulder, trying to make him smile.
Castiel chuckled. “You’re funny. The Duke of Campbell is your grandfather?”
“Yeah, my parents and I came to visit for the summer. He and my mom weren’t speaking for a long time.”
Castiel took an instant liking to the American. He spoke with a sort of funny twang. “How long will you be here?” He always longed for a friend; for someone who would not make fun of him and accept him for who he was. His mother convinced his father, a viscount for Castiel to be tutored at home. The other children tended to make his life a living hell. Isis dreaded to find out what the spoiled, little demons would do to her only son, if he attended a regular school.
“We leave in early September. Pops can’t leave the ranch for a long period of time.”
“May I ask you something?” Castiel glanced at the ground. He nervously pulled a blade of grass from the rich soil.
“Would you like to be my friend?” Castiel caught his lower lip with his teeth.
“Reckon I would! I hate all these snobby, snot nosed babies. Don’t get me started on Crowley!” Dean grinned widely at his new friend.
“He torments me the most.” Castiel’s lower lip quivered.
“Why does he call you names?” Dean genuinely asked.
“Because of my Egyptian heritage,” Castiel sighed.
“That is stupid. He resembles a bulgy eyed frog…a very fat one by the way.”
Castiel laughed hard. Dean joined him in the laughter. The dark-haired boy’s laugh warmed the Texan’s heart. “Wanna come over to my grandfather’s house tomorrow afternoon?”
Castiel rapidly nodded his acceptance. “My parents will be relieved to discover I made a friend.”
“Yeah, mine, too. Never had one before.” Dean rubbed the back of his neck.
For the remainder of the summer the two became inseparable. Dean and Castiel played Cowboys and Indians in the Duke’s vast garden or at the Milton estate. Dean even presented his new friend the cowboy hat John gave him for his last birthday. Castiel cherished the gift with every fiber of his being.
One afternoon in late August, the two boys threw themselves on the grass after playing hide and seek for two hours. Today playtime took place in the Milton estate. Dean rested his elbows on the dewy grass. “I want us to do something together.”
Castiel tilted his head to the side. “What?”
Dean removed a small dagger from within his boot. “I’m gonna carve my initials and then you do the same.”
Castiel smiled at his friend. The two boys stood up and strolled over to the nearest elm tree. Dean sunk the blade as deep as he could before he began carving a D on the bark. Half an hour later he finished. “DMW?” Castiel inquired.
“Dean Michael Winchester.” Dean grinned at his friend, revealing a gap between his two front upper teeth.
He handed the dagger to Castiel. The shorter boy stuck his tongue out, while concentrating on his task. Once he was done, Dean frowned. “COM?”
“Castiel Osiris Milton…Osiris is the God of the afterlife and birth. My father named me after his grandfather and mother chose my middle name.”
“I like it…Osiris.” Dean smiled. “Your mother is very beautiful. She is how I imagine Cleopatra.”
Castiel shook his head. “You say the funniest things.”
“One of the things ya love about me.” He ruffled Castiel’s unruly locks.
Mister Singer, Castiel’s tutor beckoned the boys to come inside for their tutoring session. The youngsters unwillingly strolled inside the viscount’s mansion. It was time for Castiel’s geography lesson. Dean enjoyed sitting in on the sessions because Mr. Singer made them fun. Today they were scheduled to learn about the Nile River.
Unfortunately, the day before Dean was set to sail back home with his parents arrived. The two boys played dominoes in Dean’s chambers which happened to be the nursery. Hard torrential rain battered against the windows. The weather matched the children’s moods.
“I am going to miss you, Dean.” Castiel’s big puppy eyes watched his friend.
“Me too, Osiris.”
Castiel playfully tossed a domino at his friend, who caught it in midair. “Never had a real friend before and I am glad you’re the first.”
“Will you return to England?”
“I hope so. Mama said we’ll come back next year.”
“I am glad. There is something I want to give you since you gave me your cowboy hat.” He retrieved a silver pocket watch from inside his jacket pocket. He offered it to Dean. “It belonged to my paternal grandfather. He gave it to my father on his wedding day. Father gave it to me.”
“I can’t accept it, Cas. It is a family heirloom.”
“Please accept it to remember me.”
Dean grabbed the watch and held it tight against his chest. “Thank you.”
“I cannot wait to reach my eighteenth birthday. I plan to go on archaeological digs and discover ancient cities and find pharaoh’s tombs.”
“Archa what?” Dean asked practically cross eyed.
“Archeologists are men, who travel the world in search of ancient relics.”
“Cas, you are the brainiest person I know. Sometimes you sound like a grown up.”
Castiel shrugged his shoulders. “Let’s raid the kitchen for some of cook’s famous apple tarts!”
“Yeah!” Dean grabbed his friend’s wrist and dragged him down the pink marble, spiral staircase.
Saying good bye proved to be extremely difficult for Dean and Castiel. The footmen finished strapping the Winchesters’ luggage on top of the Duke’s carriage. Samuel was under the weather and unable to accompany them to the port. Mary hugged her father fiercely. Something told her this would be the last time she would see him. She found comfort knowing they both found peace.
Dean embraced Castiel hard. The shorter boy kissed his cheek. “Thank you for being my friend.”
“See ya next summer,” Dean whispered in Cas’ ear.
The Winchesters entered the vehicle. Dean sat by the window. He waved bye at his dear friend, Isis, and Grandpa Samuel. The duke entered the manor. Castiel’s vision blurred as he saw the vehicle disappear down the cobblestone path. His mother, Isis held his hand. Her own dark almond shaped eyes watered. Isis’ heart ached for her only child. Would he ever find a good friend like Dean Winchester? She fervently prayed to the deities she was brought up to believe in that he would.
Dean stood in between his parents on the ship which would sail them back to the States. The ship was scheduled to dock in New York and then a train took them to Texas. “Will
we return next year?” He already missed his friend.
Mary knelt to be at the same eye level with her son. “We have wonderful news to share with you, my love.”
“What is it?”
John also knelt in front of his son. “You’re finally gonna be a big brother. Your mother is expecting.”
“Really?” Dean hugged his mother.
“That means we won’t be able to return to England for a while.”
Dean frowned. “Why not?”
“We need to wait until your baby brother or sister is at least two before he or she can make a long voyage.”
“I won’t see Castiel then?” His vision blurred due to tears.
“I am sorry, sweetheart.” Mary embraced her child.
Dean walked slowly to the rail. He placed his right hand inside his pocket and fingered the watch Cas gave him. Dean’s heart ached, knowing he would never see his friend again. Now no one would defend him against Crowley and Alistair. Cas will become a hermit and never leave his home. His dream of being an archa whatever will never become a reality. His eyes glued themselves to the English coast until he could no longer see it from the ship.