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Oriole Alone

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Dad was pissed about something again. Dean had no idea what it was, but he was livid. He cowered in the corner while dad screamed at him – as if he could hear a word his father was saying. He could make out a few words, thanks to lip reading – none of them were nice. The blows came next. Both cheeks. Back of the head. A shove against a wall. What he done now? He'd made sure Sammy had everything, so what else was there? His father shook him and pointed at the room. Dean frowned, he couldn't remember the room being this dirty when he went to bed. It hadn't – Dad had made this mess when he came back from the hunt.

Another blow and then his father grabbed him by the front of his shirt and shook him – and Dean could read his lips perfectly.

You don't really think you're free, do you?

Dean bolted awake, breathing hard. He was in his room, at Elisa and Michael's house. Dad wasn't here. He didn't know why he was having horrible dreams now – and didn't have them when he was in the foster care house. He got up from his bed and went down the hall to the bathroom to get a drink of water. When he got there, he looked at his face in the mirror. Pale, his freckles prominent against his nose and cheekbones. No bruises, no angry red marks from a beating. He didn't know if Elisa and Michael knew about the beatings yet. They had to – it was probably in that file of his that he'd seen a social worker show them. Elisa had said she couldn't believe his father abandoned him for being deaf. However, she might be willing to believe that Dean had been a personal punching bag.

Dean had told himself repeatedly that it wasn't his fault – not really. Dad just got so mad sometimes and when he started drinking, he forgot things he'd done and since John Winchester never admitted he was wrong, Dean was a convenient target.

Sam would never be a target because Dad loved Sam. Sam probably got to stay with Pastor Jim or Uncle Bobby now when Dad went on hunts, not crappy motel rooms with sheets older than he was and paper thin walls and heaters that didn't work.

Sam was so... perfect.

Dean set his glass back down and went back to his room. It still didn't feel much like his room – still decorated in what he like to call 'the grandmother look' with the faint flowers on the wallpaper and the lacy curtains. Elisa said when it got warm enough to have the windows open, they could paint the walls and replace the curtains. They'd already picked out an eggshell like color. He would never admit it outright to anyone – but he did like the knitted throw on his bed.

He pulled the brightly colored blanket – done in so many colors, it could make you dizzy to look at and wrapped it around himself before going over to the rocking chair next to the window. He curled up in the chair, setting it in motion. He kept telling himself that Dad wouldn't be back, that Dad couldn't hurt him anymore – but it was hard to believe at times.

Dean sighed and turned his attention outside, looking up at the moon. Momma had once told him a man lived up there – but that was just a story. There was something else Momma had told him – angels are watching over you – and sometimes, that was just as hard to believe. Then again – Pastor Jim had told them angels were real – no matter how much dad said they weren't. He got up from the chair, setting the blanket on the bed. He remembered seeing something in the closet a few days ago.

Opening the door, he scanned the boxes on the shelf, full of things that Elisa hadn't had time to move elsewhere just yet. She'd showed him the boxes contents – and told him not to worry, she'd move things soon. The decent sized box he got down had once held boots and as he set it on the bed, he took off the lid and smiled at the tissue paper contents. If he was careful with them, maybe – just maybe, Elisa wouldn't get mad at him. She had looked rather sad about having to put everything back in the box when she first showed him.

Twenty minutes later, Dean set the box on the floor next to the dresser – the small – what was the collective term for angels? Flight? Garrison? Brigade? Whatever it was – they now all were lined up on the dresser facing the bed. Some of them with wings spread, others with them curled in a protective motion. His personal favorite was the one with the spread wings wielding a sword in one hand and a trumpet in the other.

He made sure one last time that none of the angels were in danger of falling off the dresser and then got back into bed, smiling at the angels. It was easier to imagine them watching over him when he could actually see some.

So what if he was ten and too old to believe in such things?

Since he'd learned at four that there wasn't any Santa Claus, he felt he'd earned the right to believe in angels as much as he wanted – in any way as he wanted.

Dean pulled the blankets back up over him and fell into a deep, wonderful – dreamless sleep.

*

The next morning, Elisa Coulter checked on her and Michael's young charge, rather surprised to see all of her angels out on his dresser. Given what Dean had went through in the past few years, she didn't reprimand him – but she did say he could only have one angel of the group out – she was rather worried something could happen to them and several of them were very old. She wasn't surprised when Dean picked out the one with the sword and the trumpet.

The Archangel Gabriel had always been one of her favorites of the group too.