Earlier that day:
“What do you want?” Dean asks harshly, replying to Castiel’s soft knock on his doorframe.
“Uh, it’s me. Is everything okay?” Castiel asks hesitantly. Maybe this is a big mistake.
“No,” Dean says bitterly, “actually, everything’s fucking awful.” He doesn’t turn to face Cas. A jolt runs through Castiel’s chest.
“Oh, sorry,” Cas says softly.
“Yeah? Sorry for what?” Dean murmurs into his pillow. Castiel can feel the hurt creeping into his chest already. He knew this was a bad idea, but for some reason he presses further.
“You wanna talk about it?” Castiel asks.
“I wanna be fuckin’ left alone,” Dean growls. Sadly, Castiel retreats, returning to his own room and shutting the door. He tries not to take Dean’s words personally. Meg had reported gleefully that Dean had had some sort of outburst earlier, something to do with his brother. Still, Dean’s words sting. Castiel doesn’t know what he expected. They’d had one conversation; it isn’t like they’re close. Maybe Dean felt like one conversation was enough.
Suddenly, Castiel feels like he is going to start crying, and he hates that. He tells himself not to be such an idiot. Crying over some guy he doesn’t even really know, just because the guy had a bad day and snapped at him?! Stupid. He tells himself to forget about it and work on his drawing.
But Castiel can’t forget about it. He does, however, jam his earbuds into his ears and pull out his sketchbook. He sketches through Nowhere Man, Octopus’s Garden, I am the Walrus, Yesterday, and then I Want You begins to play, and Castiel throws his pencil across the room and begins pacing in his tiny space like he always does when he’s frustrated.
I want you
You know I want you so bad, babe
I want you
You know I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
When dinner time rolls around, Castiel still finds himself hoping Dean will talk to him again. Every time the door opens, he looks up hopefully, but each time, he is disappointed. Eventually, dinner ends without Dean’s ever making an appearance, and Castiel finds himself worrying a little. They aren’t usually allowed to skip meals; it must have been something serious that happened.
When Castiel returns to his room, he notes that Dean’s light is off. If Dean is in there, he must be sleeping. Cas stands at his own door for a few moments, debating with himself over whether or not he should check on Dean. He ultimately decides not to. Dean had made it pretty clear earlier that he didn’t want company.
As Castiel is turning to walk into his own room, however, he hears what sounds like a strange, muffled scream, followed by the sound of a person gasping for air. Castiel rushes to Dean’s door, freezing in the doorframe. Dean is sitting on the edge of his bed, facing away from the door, struggling to catch his breath.
“Dean?” Castiel says so softly he isn’t even completely sure he said it at all.
“Cas?” Dean says with a trembling voice. He doesn’t sound irritated now. Instead, he sounds shaken, scared almost, like a younger version of himself.
“Yeah,” Castiel answers, still hesitant, waiting in the doorframe to be told to leave, “are you okay?”
“No,” Dean says quietly, his voice still lacking the bite it had possessed earlier.
“Uh,” Castiel says, biting his lip, “do you want me to, um, go get Missouri or something?”
“No,” Dean says, his voice sounding like it’s going to break. He still hasn’t turned to look at Castiel.
“Sorry,” Castiel says softly, “I can… I can go if you want…” he offers. But Dean doesn’t reply right away, and Castiel is still frozen in the doorframe.
“Cas?” Dean whispers after a while.
“You can come in if you want… if that’s allowed.” Castiel’s heart feels like it does a somersault then, and he steps into the room, walking around to stand in front of Dean. Even in the dim light, Castiel can see that Dean has been crying.
“Have a seat, Cas,” Dean says in a tone that tells Cas he’s trying very hard to hold himself together. Carefully, Castiel sits cross legged at the foot of the bed and watches as Dean rubs his face vigorously with both hands.
“You weren’t at dinner,” Cas says for lack of anything better.
“Wasn’t hungry.” Dean says mechanically.
“Oh.” And then Dean breaks down again, burying his face in his hands.
“Cas, I think Sammy’s in danger,” Dean manages to get out.
“Your brother?” Castiel asks, wishing he were better at this. Dean nods.
“I’m stuck in here, and he’s out there alone, and I can’t protect him. Fuck! I… I don’t know what to do,” Dean murmurs.
“What… why is he in danger?”
“Well, our dad’s a piece of shit, so there’s one reason,” Dean says bitterly. “I’ve been gone one fuckin’ day, and Sammy’s wrist is already broken,” Dean mutters, wiping more tears from his cheeks.
“Shit,” Castiel says, shocked, “your dad did it?” Dean nods. “Damn. I wish I could help.”
“You got any hit men in that fucked up family of yours, Cas?” Dean asks darkly.
“What?” Castiel replies, sort of taken aback.
“I was only kidding,” Dean says with the hint of a grin, “well, mostly…”
“Well, I wouldn’t put it past Lucifer, to be honest,” Castiel says, laughing softly, “though I also wouldn’t count on him for anything.”
“Ah, well,” Dean sighs, his breathing seeming at least to have returned to normal. The two sit quietly for a few minutes until Dean speaks up again.
“Hey, Cas, do you believe in demons?” Dean asks, trying to sound casual.
“Uh, I dunno, do you?” Castiel says, surprised by the question.
“Don’t want you thinkin’ I’m crazy,” Dean replies.
“I won’t!” Cas insists.
“Nah, forget about it.”
“Why do you care what I think anyway?” Castiel asks, and this time he’s the one trying to sound casual.
“Don’t know. Just do.” He didn’t deny it. Castiel’s heart skips a beat, but he tries to tell himself this doesn’t mean anything.
“Well what about this: I won’t think you’re crazy if you won’t think I’m crazy,” Cas offers.
“I dunno, Cas,” Dean teases, sounding more like he had at lunch, “are you crazy?”
“I don’t think so,” Cas replies, “but at the same time, most crazy people don’t think they are, so who knows?”
“You got a point there,” Dean agrees.
“Do you believe in God?” Castiel asks next.
“No,” Dean says simply. “You?”
“Used to, but I dunno anymore,” Castiel says sadly. “What about angels?”
“Well, I mean, you’re sitting right there,” Dean says with a goofy grin that definitely doesn’t make the butterflies in Castiel’s stomach go freakin’ insane.
“Very funny,” Cas replies, rolling his eyes and feigning annoyance.
“But seriously, no,” Dean says. “Never seen any proof of ‘God’ or angels or any of that shit.”
“Me neither, I guess,” Cas agrees, “but demons?” Dean sighs heavily, which only serves to pique Castiel’s curiosity.
“Yeah. They’re real,” Dean says quietly, averting his gaze and scratching at the bandages on his left arm.
“Huh,” is all Cas can think of.
“See! You think I’m fuckin’ crazy,” Dean says defensively.
“No, I don’t,” Cas rushes to say. “I mean, that’s what I grew up believing; I’m just second guessing everything I once believed now. But I don’t think you’re crazy because of your beliefs.” That actually seems to relax Dean.
“Thanks, Cas,” Dean says softly, the sincerity in his voice sending warm tingles through Castiel’s body.
“Of course,” Cas replies, adding, “thanks for talking to me like I’m a normal person.” Dean glances up with a quizzical expression.
“Whatd’ya mean?” he asks.
“You know,” Cas says, blushing. He hopes Dean can’t tell in the dim light. “It sucks being the only ‘fag’ in a private Christian school.”
“Goddamn. I don’t doubt it. They give you lots of shit?” Dean asks.
“Yeah. And I’m not exactly strong enough to fight back.”
“Well, fuck ‘em. I’m so sick of this redneck, back-assward town anyway. You’re better than them. Soon as you’re 18, you ditch this bitch. That’s what I’m hoping for Sammy too.” Dean sighs, finally turning and swinging his legs up onto the bed, leaning his back against the wall at the head of the bed.
“What about you? When are you gonna get out?” Cas asks.
“Shit. Probably never,” Dean says gruffly.
“Why do you say that?” Cas says, tilting his head, his brow furrowed.
“Guess I might as well tell you,” Dean groans, and Cas again wonders why it seems that Dean cares about his opinion of him. “I’m a dropout. Goin’ nowhere. Wasn’t good at school, and needed to get a job if I didn’t want Sammy goin’ hungry.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t go somewhere else.”
“I work at a fuckin’ salvage yard during the week and a gas station on the weekends and some nights. Not exactly a ticket out of here. You though, you got talent, and Sammy’s real smart.”
“Holy crap!” Cas says, “that’s impressive.”
“You! You are,” Castiel says softly, looking down at his hands. “It sounds like you work really hard. And how you take care of your brother… he’s lucky he has you.” And like a switch was flipped, Dean is crying again. “I’m sorry!” Cas says, “sorry if I said something wrong.”
“‘S not you, just, can’t believe what I’ve done to him,” Dean cries.
“Sammy saved my life. I was pretty much dead when he found me. And he’s just a kid. No kid should have to experience that, you know? He called 911 and did CPR and all that shit. When I woke up in the hospital and they let him in to see me, he still had blood all over his clothes. My blood. And I know he blames himself for what I did even though I’ve told him again and again that nothing is his fault. Fuck. Sammy’s such a sweet kid, and all I’ve ever wanted was to protect him. Keep him innocent, and now what? Feel like I’ve fuckin’ destroyed him.”
“Shit,” Castiel breathes. “Can’t imagine what you’re going through. Both of you.” Cas so badly wants to reach out and take Dean’s hand, but he doesn’t. It isn’t allowed, but on top of that, he isn’t even sure Dean would want it.
“Dean,” Cas begins softly after a moment, “is there anything I can do to help?” Dean looks up at him, sniffing and wiping his nose with the back of his hand.
“Probably not,” he replies. “Never thought I’d say this, but it’s kinda nice to talk to someone about it though. Sorry I’m such a fucking mess right now. It’s fucking embarrassing.”
“You don’t look like a mess to me,” Castiel says softly, afraid to look into Dean’s eyes as he does, “and I’m happy to listen.”
“I think you need your eyes checked,” Dean snorts, but he’s grinning again through his tears, and Cas laughs too. Dean scratches at his arm again.
“You mind if I ask what happened there?” Castiel asks hesitantly, indicating Dean’s bandaged arms.
“Sure. I happened,” Dean answers bluntly. Cas furrows his brow, tilting his head again, something Meg has pointed out he does when he’s confused, like a “fucking German shepherd.”
“I cut 'em all up,” Dean clarifies.
“Oh,” Castiel says, “I thought you took Oxy.”
“I did. The cutting’s never been about killing myself, though I guess I went a little deeper than usual this time. Never got stitches for it before,” Dean says. He’s oddly casual about it.
“Why?” Cas asks, “I mean, why do you do it?”
“What, are you my therapist now?” Dean snarks.
“Sorry. You don’t have to tell me.” But something about the look on Castiel’s face seems to change Dean’s tone.”
“No, I’m sorry. I said you could ask. I dunno though. Never thought much about it, ‘cept to hide it from Sam. Guess it just feels good to feel something, you know?” Cas doesn’t know. He has a difficult time understanding; the thought of taking a sharp instrument to his own arm gives him chills. He doesn’t think he’d be capable of cutting his own skin on purpose.
“You mean, like it feels good?” Castiel asks, wide-eyed.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s not like it doesn’t hurt. It does, but it’s something I have control over, and that feels good.”
“Oh.” Castiel tries hard to understand. “Do you do it a lot?”
“Sometimes. Off and on for a number of years now. Guess that sounds pretty fucked up, huh?” Dean sighs.
“Well, maybe a little,” Castiel admits, “but I know a lot of people do it.”
“Yeah?” Dean asks, one eyebrow raised. “Do I sound like a psycho, Cas?”
“No,” Castiel says sincerely. “I’ve been here long enough to know the difference.”
“Hmph,” Dean grunts, rubbing his face again.
“We’re all a little fucked up some way,” Castiel says.
“Except you,” Dean says, “you’re just here ‘cause your parents are fucked up.”
“Well, that’s technically why I’m here, but I’ve got real shit too that my parents just don’t bother to notice.”
“What do you mean?” Dean asks.
“I mean, I have real stuff they’ve diagnosed me with that I didn’t even realize wasn’t normal until I talked to the therapist they assigned to me.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“Like being unable to get out of bed for weeks at a time. I once went a couple weeks without showering or changing my clothes because it all seemed pointless. My parents only noticed when Anael started complaining about how gross I was. So I showered and went back to bed for another four days. Apparently that’s known in the psychiatric world as clinical depression. And I have panic attacks and intrusive thoughts that I can’t seem to control.” When Castiel looks back up at Dean, he’s met not by judgement, but by a look of understanding in those pretty green eyes, and he smiles a little.
“Has it helped? Being here?” Dean asks sincerely.
“Yeah. The meds they have me on seem to be working, and talking about it, and of course, being away from my family doesn’t hurt,” Cas ends with a grin.
“Well, that’s good then,” Dean replies.
“Yeah. It’s not like I love being here, but I don’t mind it so much, really,” Cas says.
Just then, there’s a knock on the doorframe announcing Missouri’s presence.
“Lights out boys!” she says cheerily even though technically, Dean’s light is already out. If Castiel didn’t know any better, he’d say Dean actually looked disappointed to see him go. As Castiel is leaving he hears Dean speak up.
“Hey, Cas?” Dean says, and Castiel turns to look over his shoulder. “Thanks.”
“Of course,” he answers with a smile. “Night, Dean.”
Castiel hears Missouri chat with Dean briefly, asking if he’s alright, before entering his own room and closing the door.
His heart is racing, and he just knows he’s not going to be able to sleep any time soon, knows he won’t be able to get Dean out of his head. Still, he shuts off his light and crawls into bed, putting in his earbuds and turning on his music. All the while, he runs his conversation with Dean over and over in his head.
Dean had told him so many things, deeply personal things, and Castiel has the feeling that Dean isn’t the kind of person who opens up to just anyone. Neither is he, for that matter, but he’d felt comfortable telling Dean things he hasn’t told anyone else. And Dean had just accepted it. In fact, Cas reflects, Dean had seemed far more concerned with Castiel’s opinion of him.
Once again, Castiel finds himself getting his hopes up, desperately wanting to talk with Dean again soon. He tries to tell himself he’s only setting himself up for disappointment, but he just can’t help it. So he lays awakes, thinking about Dean as The Beatles sing in his ears.
I've just seen a face
I can't forget the time or place
Where we just met
She's just the girl for me
And I want all the world to see
We've met, mm-mm-mm-m'mm-mm
Had it been another day
I might have looked the other way
And I'd have never been aware
But as it is I'll dream of her
Fallin', yes, I am fallin'
And she keeps callin'
Me back again…