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three emotionally stunted men and a half baby

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It takes Dean a while to come around to the kid. It is absolutely for lack of trying, and Sam has to physically hold himself back from punching his brother in the throat now. Because Dean's big brother instinct has completely overtaken him, and if one single thing happened to Jack Kline there would be hell to pay.

So Sam pretends not to smile when Jack gets mac and cheese with marshmallow fluff made for him one morning (they all know better than to let Jack in the kitchen, the poor kid would probably blow up the microwave by mistake.) And he says nothing when Dean takes Jack down to the shooting range (“The kids gotta know how to defend himself, he can't just rely on his freaky mojo.”)

Sure.

So Dean's taken a shine to the kid (teenager? One year old? ‘Kid’ will have to do), and no one's about to complain since only a few months ago he was ready to put a bullet in his head if he put one toe out of line. But there's a balance for a while. A family.

Jack's even started to come out of his shell a little bit more. Before he was all shy smiles and stuttering and ‘eye contact who’? He still is, somewhat. But at least he's not terrified to tell someone that he's hungry.

Sam sees himself in Jack. It's impossible not to, especially with Dean mother henning him within an inch of his life. But the way Jack shoves his hands in his pockets when he's nervous, or how he'll get absorbed so completely in his TV shows or books, one of them has to shake him to snap him out of it. His corduroy jackets and hair hiding his eyes. (The constant feeling that everything you're doing is wrong, that you're broken, that you're a monster.) Sam recognizes it.

And Cas, obviously, he's known the kid since he was in the womb. (Which was one year ago, somehow. Time flies, huh?) Cas would do anything for Jack. Die for him. They all would.

So let's just say that when they find him in a dark church, covered in blood, hugging his knees, and crying; it's enough to shatter all three of them.

Dean starts looking for something to kill. Something's gonna have to die for making Jack fall apart like this, and Dean's gonna find.

Cas starts asking question, trying to piece together what could've happened. (Trying not to think about how much blood on the floor is Jack's).

Sam just holds him.

Jack's hesitant at first, flinching away like he's afraid of being hurt, but once he recognizes Sam he buries his face in his neck and starts to cry again.

They're gone! They're gone, Sam!” He cries.

“What's gone, Jack?” Sam asks quietly, trying not to startle the clearly shaken boy.

“My wings,” He whispers. “M-my grace-- all of it, it's all gone!

Cas gets a heavy look on his face. He closes his eyes in a moment of pain, trying not to remember the feeling of his own grace being torn out of his throat.

“Who?” Dean growls. “Who did it?”

“Lucifer.” It's the first time Jack hasn't called him ‘his father’. Progress, maybe.

Dean sighs, and nods to himself. No one to kill. Just one severely messed up kid to deal with now.

He strides over to Jack and kneels beside. “Can you walk, kid?”

Jack wipes away tears that won't seem to stop coming. He nods.

“Alright.” Dean brushes a lock of hair away that's fallen into Jack's eyes with false casualty. He clears his throat. “We gotcha. Let's go.”

Sam keeps an arm around Jack's shoulders to steady him while they walk to the car. Jack tries to stifle his tears.

Cas sits with him in the back. It's a strange feeling, having all the Impalas seats filled. But everyone's too broken to appreciate it.

Jack goes quiet after a few minutes of driving. Shock, maybe? No one knows how hurt the kid is since he won't uncurl from his practically fetal position. But they would have to wager a guess that having body parts forcibly ripped out of you (no matter how they’re manifested on earth) would leave you a little traumatized.

Dean grips the steering wheel with anxious intensity the whole way home. The situation is so familiar, it makes him want to throw up. A bloody church, an even bloodier kid, a grief too heavy hold, and a drive home that takes too damn long.

He keeps stealing glances in the rearview mirror at Jack. His head is pressed against the window, his arm folded beneath his head like a pillow. He looks like Sam. Like Cas. (Like everyone Dean’s ever let down.)

Jack keeps rolling his shoulders and shuddering, like his shoulder blades ache. Like he's trying to stretch out fluffy little wings that aren't there anymore. That have been torn straight out of his back.

Dean scrambles to remember how he dealt with this last time (last time, there was a last time, it’s happening all over again—) but he comes up empty. The adrenaline isn’t there this time. No one’s dead or dying, or in need of avenging, so Dean is just tired.

He hears Jack stifle tears, and steps harder on the gas.

Castiel feels like he should know what to do. Kelly left him with one task: take care of Jack. And now, when he needs him the most, Cas can't help but be shot back 5 years to his own trauma.

The rain pounding onto the impalas roof is starkly reminiscent of the Angel's crashing to the earth. But the world isn't in panic this time. Just Cas’s world. Just Sam and Dean's.

It takes Jack a while to calm down. He moves slowly over to Castiel, inching closer at every stoplight, until he's practically hidden under Cas’s trench coat, tucked up against his side like a baby bird (a baby bird with downy wings clipped clean off.)

Dean turns around, the street lights reflecting off the leather seats behind him. He looks at Jack, sleeping (maybe not, maybe just hiding from the world, and that’s alright), and Cas holding him securely against his side. His trenchcoat, partially laid across the kids shoulders, stretching out from his back (like broken, broken wings).

Dean wonders if Cas's real wings are around Jack right now.

Dean steals a glance at his brother; deep circles under his eyes, but strangely content.

“Everybody okay?”

Cas looks down at Jack. “Yes.” He says, barely a sound.

Sam nods.

Dean turns back to the road, and breathes deeply for the first time that night. There's about an hours left of a drive. He pulls out a cassette tape labelled: “Dean's Top 13 Zepp Traxx” and pops it in the player.

“Let's go home.”