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At 2:53 AM

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At night, Castiel dreams in color.

Including his nightmares.

Sunshine floods the room when he opens his eyes. It streams in from the half-open window, and through it Cas can see the branches of a familiar looking tree, and it's then he realizes he's in his childhood bedroom, lying on the bed tangled in rumpled bed sheets. His feet hit the cool hardwood floor—the ever present draft of the old house—and he stumbles over to the window.

The sky is a brilliant blue, bluer than he has ever imagined, so blue it seems almost pulsing and alive. Everything—the leaves on the tree, his neighbor's roof, the white picket fence—is vibrant and full of color, so much so that it hurts his eyes and he feels the need to look away.

His hands clutch at the window sill and he forces himself to take it in. When he was younger, he used to look to the sky and the wispy white clouds and wish he could fly. That was always what he thought about when he blew dandelion seeds in the backyard, picking through the weeds until his mother noticed and gently scolded him back inside. It feels like another lifetime, spending afternoons imagining what it would be like to fly, never tiring, never falling, just going on and on and on and on—

Something is wrong. Something in the air tickles his nose, bitter and wrong. He squints skyward again and the sun's glare smarts his eyes, turning the colors blurry and violently harsh. They start caging him in, angrily, mockingly. He turns away, pressing his hands against his eyes, sweat beading on the back of his neck as his head starts to throb. The colors push him against the wall of his bedroom and he doubles over, clenching his eyes shut in desperate search of that cool quiet relief of darkness.

When he opens them again, all he sees red. Reds and oranges and yellows, the walls going up in flames, that smell of trickling gray smoke suffocating his lungs. He shields his eyes, fifteen years old again and confused, lost, his clothes melting into his skin as his vision swims with tears and ash. His back hits the wall and he stumbles against it, looking for an escape, trying to yell for help against the dry air.

A slice of sunlight pierces the air from the window.

And then he's falling—no, flying. The wind whistles through his hair and all he can see is the bright blue sky above him. Laughter bubbles at his lips before the blood red pain blisters through his head.

"Cas? Cas!"

Someone yells at him through the fog and the pain disappears, but he can't see who it is. He turns about wildly, arms flailing until they come in contact with something—someone—warm and soft and awake.

Cas is awake.

Dean's hands softly knead his shoulders and he murmurs gentle nothings in Cas' ear, pulling until both of them are laying down again. Cas can hear his own breathing evening out and he squeezes his eyes shut, ignoring the moisture that beads and rolls down his temple. He presses closer to Dean, thankful that he doesn't ask, hasn't asked yet why Cas has his nights like this, when he wakes up at God-knows-what in the morning, memories scorched behind his utterly useless eyes.

He'll tell him soon.

In the morning.

For now, there's only Dean and the peaceful darkness of sleep.