Chapter 1: In Sam’s Eyes
Sammy wasn't too surprised when his big brother was not parked in his usual spot outside the school where he usually waited to drive him home. Maybe Dean had gotten in trouble, or maybe he was passed out drunk at home. It wouldn’t have been the first time for either scenario. So Sam shouldered his backpack and trudged down the sidewalk, beginning the 40 minute walk home. He could have ridden the bus, but he didn’t. In a single moment he made a simple decision that would prove to be one that he would regret for years to come. In Sam’s mind, everything may have turned out differently if only he had arrived home even fifteen minutes sooner. He would drown in the sea of “if only’s,” blaming himself for not seeing it coming, but how could he have? He was just a kid. He was thirteen years old.
In his thirteen years, Sam had seen some shit. His dad was drunk most of the time, but in the past few years, it had escalated. What used to be shouting matches between his dad and his seventeen year old brother, Dean, had turned into violent physical altercations. Dean always took the brunt of the violence, a human shield between his dad and his innocent, younger brother. At one point, Dean’s perpetually bruised face had had staff members at the high school beginning to ask questions, but that was before Dean had dropped out, opting to hold odd jobs in the hope of keeping the lights on and a roof over their heads. On more than one occasion, Sam had watched in horror as his dad gained the upper hand in a fight, refusing to quit even as Sam screamed and begged him to stop. There were a couple times he thought their dad was going to kill Dean right in front of him. Once, Sam had called the cops, but his dad was able to convince them that it was a one-off domestic disturbance, that Dean had instigated the fight, but he didn’t want to press charges. The violence escalated severely after that, his dad threatening to throw Dean out if either of them involved the police in their “private family matters” again.
Sam was well aware that Dean had begun drinking as well; he had dragged Dean to bed a number of times, leaving aspirin and water on the nightstand by the bed for the morning. Dean had problems; they all had problems, but nothing could have prepared Sam for that particular afternoon.
The small house was eerily quiet as Sam stepped inside, shutting and locking the door behind him. His dad’s old truck was gone, but the black ‘67 Impala Dean drove was in the driveway.
“Hello?” Sam called out. There was no reply. Sam dropped his backpack on the couch and walked into the kitchen. It was a mess. Not the usual mess; this was a big one: broken plates, broken beer bottles, and beer everywhere. What sent a wave of dread crashing over him, though, was the blood. Little droplets were scattered across the floor and smeared in places on the wall.
“Dean?” Sam called more urgently, “dad?” Still no reply. Sam rushed down the hall to check the bedroom he shared with Dean. The light was dim, only filtering through the drawn blinds in places, but Sam could see Dean’s form lying on his bed in the corner.
“Dean?” Sam said, “what happened out there?” But Dean didn’t move. The only sound he heard was the familiar hiss of the old record player by Dean’s bed. It had reached the end of the record. A sinking feeling began to grip him then, and he felt like he couldn’t breath, like his chest was caught in a vice. The room stank of whiskey and vomit. “Dean!” He said louder, rushing to his brother’s side, but still, Dean was motionless. He switched on the lamp by the bed, though he was terrified of what he was about to see. Dean was curled up on his side, his skin gray, and his tee shirt stained with blood and vomit. Sam called his name again, frantically shaking him, his mind going blank for a minute. “No, no, no, no, no,” Sam kept repeating, “wake up! Dean, please, please…” Dean remained unresponsive, his skin cool and clammy where Sam gripped him. Sam didn’t realize he was crying until he felt the tears dripping off the end of his nose.
“Dad!” he shouted desperately then, “someone, please help!” Help. Yes! He needed to call for help. Finally, Sam was able to pry himself from Dean’s side, running to the living room and rifling through his backpack for the old cell phone he was supposed to keep on him in case of an emergency. He dialed 911 with trembling fingers as he ran back to Dean’s side. Only then, as he was stating his name and address, did he notice the empty bottle of whiskey on the nightstand and an empty pill bottle on the floor. He picked up the pill bottle as he numbly answered the operator’s questions. Oxycodone. Fuck.
Sam? Sam, are you there? The voice on the other end of the line jerked him back into reality.
“Yeah, yeah,” Sam choked out. “I’m here. I uh, I think he took a bunch of Oxy with alcohol.”
Is he breathing?
“I don’t think so,” Sam sobbed, “there’s a lot of blood everywhere too. Please hurry!”
The paramedics are on their way now, Sam, just stay on the line with me, okay? Can you see where he is bleeding from?
“I uh, I’m not sure,” Sam answered as he forced himself to look more closely at his brother’s lifeless body. “His arms, I think,” Sam added. Upon closer inspection, there were horizontal cuts up and down the insides of both of Dean’s forearms. Many of them weren’t fresh. Sam never would never forgive himself for not having noticed them before.
It all became a nauseating blur: the operator telling him he needed to begin CPR, struggling to haul Dean’s dead weight to the floor, the operator giving him instructions over speaker phone, telling him he was doing a good job as he sobbed, his tears wetting the front of Dean’s shirt as he struggled to do chest compressions, sure he wasn’t doing it right, sure that Dean was going to die because he wasn’t doing it right. Then the medics were there and Sam stood back, watching in a daze as they took over, huddled around Dean’s body. Sam felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and was met by the kind brown eyes of a young woman with a badge that read “trainee.”
“You did a great job helping your brother,” she said softly, “you did everything just right.” And Sam fell apart then, collapsing into her arms.
“He’s all I have,” he murmured again and again to the young woman, Tessa, who continued to reassure him that he had done everything he could have done.
Suddenly, Dean was alive again, coughing and choking, his limbs thrashing, struggling against the medics who were attempting to hold him still enough to start an IV and keep an oxygen mask on his face.
“Dean!” Sam cried, turning quickly, but Tessa held him back. “What’s happening to him?” he asked, helpless and terrified by his brother’s shouts and moans.
“It’s okay,” she assured him, “they gave him a medication that reversed the effects of the pills he took. Most people don’t feel very good when the medicine wakes them up; this is a pretty normal response. I know it’s scary seeing someone you care about in this situation, though.” Sam nodded solemnly.
“Is he going to be okay?” he whispered. Tessa looked down at him with a sad smile.
“They’re going to take good care of him,” was all she could promise. When Sam turned to look at her, she was gone.
Chapter 2: What’s Done is Done
SAME TRIGGER WARNINGS AS LAST CHAPTER
Dean remembers flashes of the day, like single slides in a projector switching from one to another without anything in between. He remembers the fight. John, his father, drunk off his ass again, using him again as a punching bag both literally and figuratively. He remembers losing it, unable to take any more, grabbing anything he could reach and throwing it, smashing plates, smashing bottles, screaming at his dad to just leave him the fuck alone. He remembers his dad storming out. He remembers picking up a piece of broken glass and squeezing it until blood was dripping down onto the floor, the pain taking his mind off of the hellish reality he was living in. He remembers rummaging through the medicine cabinet and finding an old prescription bottle. He remembers thinking about it, but deciding not to. He doesn’t remember why he took the bottle with him anyway.
Dean remembers walking across the hallway to his bedroom. He had wanted to throw more things, smash the place up, but instead, he collapsed on his bed, flipping on his old record player, dropping the needle onto whatever record was on the turntable, and rolling up the sleeve of his ratty flannel button down. The Doors emerged from the speakers. Dean snorted; he is a goddamn cliché.
This is The End… my only friend, The End.
He remembers pressing the piece of broken glass to a place on his forearm between two old cuts, drawing it across his skin, feeling the sweet sting, the burning pain that had become a kind of fucked up comfort to him. He remembers the blood running down his arm. He remembers starting another cut, and another, and reaching under his bed for the bottle of whiskey he had stashed there. He doesn’t remember a lot after that.
Dean thinks he can remember Sammy screaming his name. He thinks he can remember the look of terror on his 13 year old face, but he thinks neither of those memories could be real; he was pretty much dead when that happened. He thinks maybe he can remember part of the ambulance ride, struggling against hands that were holding him down. He feels like he screamed his throat raw. He thinks he can remember a glimpse of Sammy sitting with a young woman. She had dark hair and her arm around Sam as he cried. She looks familiar for some reason. He’s sure he’d met her somewhere before.
Now he’s laying in a hospital bed in a dimly lit room, a quiet, constant beep registering every beat of his heart. His head hurts. Everything hurts. His forearms are wrapped in bandages, and he has an IV placed in the crook of his arm. He feels all drugged up, sluggish, like he can’t will his body to move. His eyes roam the room, but he has a difficult time processing what he is seeing, so he lets his eyes fall closed again. Then he hears the soft click of the door opening and some hesitant footsteps.
“Dean?” he hears a broken voice ask.
“Sammy?” he manages to murmur, his throat raw, tongue thick and clumsy in his mouth. Dean opens his eyes and finds Sammy standing at his side, his eyes red and watery, swollen from endless weeping. “Sam…” Dean starts and trails off, his heart hurting, the pain in his chest nearly unbearable as he looks at his little brother and truly realizes what he has done. “Sammy…” his voice a hoarse whisper. He can feel tears welling in his eyes against his will.
“I thought you were going to die,” Sammy chokes, breaking into tears again at his brother’s side.
“Sammy, I’m so sorry,” Dean whispers. “S’ gonna be ok,” he tries to reassure him, reaching for Sam’s hand. Instead of taking his hand, Sam crawls over the bed rail, all gangly knees and elbows and too-long legs, the awkward body of a thirteen year old. He curls up against Dean’s side, an arm flung over his chest. Dean groans in pain and surprise, but puts his arms gently around his trembling little brother. “I’m so sorry, Sammy, so, so sorry.” And Dean is crying too, hot tears burning trails down his cheeks as he holds on to his sobbing brother,
and he hates himself for what he has done, for everything that he has ever done beside protecting Sam.
“Why, Dean? Why did you do it?” Sam cries against Dean’s chest.
“Wasn’t thinking straight,” Dean murmurs, “was a mistake.” The words feel all too little, too late, but he can’t find any better.
“Please…” Sam begins to say, but stops.
“Sammy, say what you want. S’ okay. Won’t be mad.”
“I know dad hurts you, and when I tried to help, I just made it worse, and I’m really sorry I can’t help, but please…”
Dean takes a long, shuddering breath. Sam blames himself. Of course he does.
“Wasn’t your fault Sammy; nothin’s your fault. Can’t blame yourself for dad, ‘kay?” Dean runs his fingers through Sam’s shaggy hair, and Sam’s sobbing seems to ease. Dean feels him nod against his chest. Holding on to Sam now, Dean is grateful that something decided it wasn’t his time yet.
“Please don’t try again, Dean,” Sam whimpers softly, “I was so scared. I need you.”
“I promise,” Dean murmurs in reply to his brother’s heartbreaking plea, “promise I’ll be here with you.”
“Cross your heart?” Sam asks, his watery eyes locking on Dean’s.
“Cross my heart,” Dean affirms with an attempted smile. “Y’know I’d do anything for my baby brother.”
“M’ not a baby,” Sam mumbles into Dean’s chest.
“I know,” Dean replies, “just teasin’. Really, Sammy, you’re so brave and smart. Smarter than me. Way smarter than dad.” Sam shakes his head. “Yeah, you are. Sammy, you saved me. I’m still here ‘cause of you,” Dean says quietly, tears falling once more. Dean tightens his grip on Sam, and they are both quiet for a while.
“Dean?” Sam whispers eventually.
“Are you awake?”
“Obviously.” But Dean actually snorts a laugh. “What is it Sammy?”
“Why are there cuts all over your arms?” Dean’s stomach feels like it has suddenly turned to ice. He feels paralyzed for a moment. Of course Sam had seen. Dean had always been careful to hide them from Sam, but now Sam knows, and Dean has no idea what to say.
“I dunno, Sam. Don’t worry about it, ‘kay?”
“Did dad do it?” Sam isn’t going to drop this.
“No,” Dean replies honestly, though a part of him wanted to lie. He felt deeply ashamed, partially because he felt that he should be ashamed, and partially because other people felt that he should be ashamed. Why? He’s not sure. My body, my choice, right? Either way, he thought about how he would feel if he found Sam doing it; he would hate himself with an even stronger passion.
“I don’t understand,” Sam says quietly. “Did you do it to yourself?” Again, Dean can’t stop the goddamn tears that are again rolling down his goddamn face.
“Yeah,” Dean breathes, hoping Sam will move on, but knowing he won’t.
“Why? Why are you hurting yourself?” Sammy’s hazel puppy dog eyes are wide with worry and confusion.
“I don’t know what to say; can we please talk about this later? My head hurts, and I want to sleep,” Dean says hoarsely. He owes Sam an answer; he knows he does, but his brain is shutting down, and he just can’t do it now.
“Fine,” Sam grumbles, but quickly asks, “can I stay here like this if I’m quiet?”
“‘Course you can,” Dean says, relaxing. He lets his eyes fall closed again, focusing on the warmth Sam is radiating at his side.
“Don’t want you to leave,” Sam whispers.
“Not goin’ anywhere,” Dean promises. “Glad you’re with me, Sammy.”
Eventually they both fall asleep.
Chapter 3: Help!
In the morning, Dean’s eyes open slowly. It takes him a moment to realize where he is, but as soon as he does, it all comes crashing down on him like a tsunami. It’s like a nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. His only comfort is that Sam is still curled up, asleep at his side. That won’t last long though. A nurse enters the room, followed by a social worker. Dean shakes Sam gently awake. The nurse explains that she is going to take Dean’s vitals and change his bandages, and that the social worker needs to speak with Sam in private. Sam turns to Dean with wide eyes.
“It’s okay, Sammy,” Dean says groggily.
“I don’t wanna go now. Don’t wanna leave you,” Sam protests.
“I’m okay; I’ll still be here when you’re done,” Dean assures him. Sam huffs and crawls off the bed, following the social worker out of the room.
The social worker is nice enough, Sam figures, but she asks him question after question, none of which he knows how to answer. He lies a lot. He is terrified, fearing his father will retaliate, take it all out on Dean if he tells the truth about their life at home. Furthermore, as much as he fears his dad, he fears being put into the foster care system more; he would likely be separated from Dean.
The nurse is gentle as she unwraps Dean’s arms, inspecting the wounds for any signs of infection. He avoids her eyes as she works; he doesn’t want to see the pity he knows is harbored there. The fresh cuts are red, and Dean notices that a few of them have been stitched closed, but before he can get a good look, they are being rebandaged.
“Looks good,” the nurse says kindly, “they’ll heal well.” Dean doesn’t reply. He just feels numb.
A minute after she leaves the room, Dean hears the door open again, followed by heavy footfall. He smells cigarettes and stale beer, and a mix of terror and fury steals his breath away. He wants to jump from the bed, tear out his IV, and just run for it, but he can’t.
John Winchester stares down at him, his eyes cold, pitiless, devoid of any emotion.
“Sounds like they’re gonna keep you here for a while,” John says roughly. Dean stares blankly ahead, eyes unfocused. “Whatdya got to say for yourself?” Dean’s fingers tighten, clenching the hospital blanket in his fists.
“Answer me when I talk to you, boy,” John growls, rage brewing just beneath the surface.
“What do you want me to say?” Dean croaks, utterly broken, “what do you want from me?”
“You’re a goddamn disappointment, y’know that?” John spits. Dean snorts a hollow laugh.
“Must be fuckin’ genetic,” Dean replies, unbridled hatred in his sad, green eyes.
“Don’t you fuckin’ put this on me,” John nearly yells, and then quiets himself. “This is all you, Dean. You did this, and I’m not footin’ the bill either. I’ll sell that damn car of yours before I spend another dime on you.”
“Where’s Sammy?” Dean asks through gritted teeth, refusing to respond to John’s statement.
“Don’t matter. Takin’ him home. He needs a break from you.” And Dean realizes John is going to take Sam without letting him say goodbye.
“If you lay a finger on him, I will fuckin’ kill you,” Dean says, his voice fighting to get past the lump in his throat.
“Homicidal tendencies, I’ll be sure to add that to the list of shit they need to fix before they let you out of here,” John sneers. “Maybe you can tell them the whole “demon thing” while you’re at it.” Before Dean can say anything, John turns on his heel and storms out of the room. Dean thinks he can hear Sam protesting in the hallway, but all goes quiet after another moment, and Dean is left utterly alone.
Dean eventually cries himself to sleep, wondering what his dad meant when he said, “they’ll be keeping you here for a while.”
His nurse enters the room some time later, bringing him lunch. He isn’t hungry.
“When do I get to go home?” he asks, ignoring the plate in front of him.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure,” the nurse answered.
“Well, is there something wrong with me? Did I wreck my liver or something?” Dean asks impatiently.
“No, Dean, you vomited up most of the pills before they could do permanent damage,” she says simply.
“So I’m gonna be okay?” Dean asks almost hopefully.
“Medically? Yeah, you’re going to be alright,” she answers.
“So what am I waiting here for?”
“Hold on a moment and I’ll see if I can find someone who can better answer your questions,” she says, turning and exiting before Dean can ask anything else. He turns and punches his pillow out of frustration, but even that movement makes him groan. He still feels like he’s been hit by a bus.
“Good afternoon, Dean.” Dean turns and finds a striking woman with dark skin and curly black hair looking at him with a smile. She is wearing a black dress that falls to her knees, and Dean can hear her heels clicking on the tile floor. “I am Dr. Calloway, but you can call my Billie, if you’d like.” Dean nods. “How are you feeling?”
“Uh, fine, I guess. Little sore, but I’m fine. When do I get to go home?” Dean shrugs off the real question, what she was really asking, trying to act casual, like he hadn’t attempted to end his life the day before.
“Well, that depends on you, Dean,” Billie says to him.
“Ok, well, I’m ready to go then, Doc,” Dean says pleasantly, flashing one of his most winning smiles, trying to seem confident and charming even though he is lying in a hospital bed.
“That isn’t exactly what I meant,” she says, taking a seat in the chair facing Dean’s bed.
“Well then what?” Dean replies, deflated.
“Dean, I am a psychiatrist. I specialize in adolescent and teenage mental health, and I am on staff here in the psychiatric unit. It has been recommended that you be admitted for just long enough to get your feet back on the ground.” At hearing this, the blood drains from Dean’s face and his hands begin shaking. He pictures restraints, and padded cells, and it all scares the shit out of him.
“What?” he sputters, “you’re a shrink, and I’m being thrown in the loony bin?” He spits angrily. “That bastard set this up, didn’t he? My dad...he… well, I’m not fuckin’ crazy! I just want to get the fuck out of here!” Hearing the shouting, a number of nurses rush to the door, but Billie waves them off, unfazed.
“Dean, nobody said you are crazy,” she says calmly, “there are many different reasons people are admitted to mental health facilities. It’s not a permanent thing, and it doesn’t mean you’re crazy or that there is something wrong with who you are as a person. We all need help sometimes.” Dean can feel his eyes burning, and desperately wants to stop the tears before they start to fall again.
“Well, no offense, but I don’t think anyone here’s gonna be able to help me,” Dean says bitterly, glaring down at his hands as he fidgets with the pulse oximeter taped to his finger.
“Why do you say that?” Billie asks, her voice steady and even, no hint of frustration or anger, and it throws Dean a little; he is only used to confrontation.
“I dunno, just don’t think so. Don’t think talkin’ about my feelings or whatever is gonna do me any good. It’s not gonna protect Sam, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna bring mom back.”
“Who is Sam?” she asks pleasantly.
“My little brother.”
“Are you concerned about his safety?” she asks, and Dean regrets having said anything.
“Dunno,” he mutters.
“How is your home life, Dean?” Billie asks, and Dean realizes she isn’t looking at him with the pity that the other people have looked at him with, the pity that makes him sick to his stomach. Still, he doesn’t want to say something that would prompt any investigation by Child Protective Services. He fears losing Sam to the system as much as Sam does, maybe more.
“Don’t really wanna talk about it, okay?”
“Okay,” she says simply. Dean is surprised; he wants to hate her, but he doesn’t for some reason. “Could you just tell me a little about Sam? What’s he like? Are you close?” Yeah, Dean can do that if it’ll lead to a quicker end to the conversation.
“He’s thirteen. He’s kinda goofy, but also real smart. He’ll probably be a doctor or a lawyer or something when he grows up,” Dean says with just a hint of a smile.
“Sounds like you really care about him,” she notes.
“‘Course I do,” Dean says quietly. “Fuck!” Dean murmurs, losing himself again, “can’t believe I did this to him…”
“What do you mean?” Dean doesn’t want to answer, but the truth pours out anyway.
“He’s the one that found me. He saved me, and now he’s gonna be all fucked up by the whole thing,” he cries, wiping furiously at his eyes. “You’re a shrink, you think there’s any chance he’ll be okay?”
“Yes, I do,” she says kindly, “but the best thing you can do for him right now is take care of yourself. I think you’ll find that talking about these things will help you work your way through it all. For his sake, and your own, try to be open to the idea of accepting help.” With this, Billie stands. “I’ll see you again soon, Dean, but I’ll let you get some rest now, unless you have any questions for me.” Dean shakes his head. “Well, it was nice to meet you,” she says with a smile and turns to leave.
“Thanks,” Dean murmurs.
Chapter 4: Dinner and a Show
Sometime in the late afternoon, a nurse comes in and announces that he is going to be discharged from the hospital and transferred to the psychiatric unit now. Dean feels suddenly nauseated, having to gulp back the bile in the back of his throat. This is it. He feels a sense of impending doom. Suddenly, movement in the corner catches his eye, and he jumps, startled. A man is standing there, silent but grinning, his eyes an unnatural yellow, almost glowing. The man sneers at him, and Dean feels like he can’t breath.
“Are you alright?” the nurse asks him, startling him again. She glances toward the corner Dean had been fixated on, before turning back to him. When he looks back, the man is gone, and Dean can breathe again, though his hands are trembling.
“Uh, yeah,” Dean mutters, lying. “Never been better.”
“Will this be your first visit to the psychiatric unit?” the nurse asks casually as she takes his vitals and removes his IV.
“Yeah,” Dean says.
“It’s alright if you’re nervous, but the staff over there are great. They could really help you.”
“Never said I needed help,” Dean says coldly, “no one ever asked me if I needed help, but I guess this is easier for my dad than having to look at me at home.” Dean raises his voice more than he meant too, and the nurse seems a little uneasy. She quickly finishes up and excuses herself from the room, leaving him alone to change out of his hospital gown and into a pair of dark green scrubs. They’re what all the inpatients wear in the psychiatric unit, the nurse had explained. He isn’t used to wearing short sleeves; he would usually wear a long sleeved flannel over his tee shirt, effectively hiding the collection of scars he has accumulated over the years. Now, the worst of them are covered by the bandages, but he still has visible scars on the insides of his biceps which make him uncomfortable. He has some tattoos that are visible now too, different occult wards and sigils that most people assume are related to “devil worship.” Those assumptions couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Soon after he has changed, an orderly stops by the room with a wheelchair to take him over to the unit.
“Seriously!?” Dean asks, incredulous.
“Sorry man, hospital policy,” the orderly explains.
“Whatever,” Dean huffs and flops down in the chair, his arms folded across his chest like a petulant child. “Seriously!?” Dean huffs again when he realizes he is also being accompanied by a member of the hospital security staff. “I’m not gonna attack anyone,” Dean says, rolling his eyes.
“I’m sure you’re not,” the security officer says, not unkindly, “too many kids try makin’ a run for it though.”
“Don’t blame ‘em,” Dean replies with a cold laugh.
“I don’t either, really,” the officer says. “I get it; I’ve been there. Had a rough time growin’ up as well.” Dean doesn’t say anything, but the officer’s words do sink in a little, relieving a small part of his humiliation and fear.
At the unit, he is taken through two sets of locking doors and is patted down by the officer who is apologetic, explaining that it’s policy. Dean can tell he is going to tire of “policy” pretty damn quickly. Once they are satisfied that he isn’t carrying anything illicit on his person, he is led into a hallway lined with doors to the patients’ rooms. Most of the doors are left open, and Dean can see other kids lounging around on their beds or sitting at desks. Most of the kids seem younger than he is, and only a few bother to glance up at him as they pass. The place isn’t the dreary hell-hole he had pictured, filled with psychotic screaming kids; in contrast, it seems pretty cheery. The walls are painted light blues and greens, and most of the staff he can see smile at him as he passes. Most importantly to Dean: he gets his own room. He hadn’t been sure, but he was afraid he was going to be stuck in a cell with some crazy kid.
After a quick tour of the place, he is shown to his room. Dean W. is scrawled on a dry-erase board on the door. There is a single bed, a desk built into the wall, and a weird chair Dean assumes was designed specifically so he couldn’t find a way to kill himself with it. There is a decent sized window above the desk. It doesn’t open, for obvious reasons, but there aren’t bars on it or anything, Dean reflects as he looks out. They’re on the second floor, and Dean’s view consists mostly of the leaves and branches of an old oak tree; it’s actually kind of nice, though that doesn’t make him want to stay here any more than he did before.
“Alright, I think that’s about it,” the nurse says to him as she concludes the tour, “have any questions, sugar?” Dean arches his eyebrows, a crooked grin on his face at the term of endearment. “Don’t you look at me like that, young man,” she jokes, feigning a threatening tone.
“No ma’am,” Dean replies, “no questions at the moment.”
“And don’t ‘ma’am’ me!” she teases again, “you can call me ‘Missouri.’” Dean nods. “I’ll be checking in on you pretty often as you settle in. We’ll let you know when dinner is, but you’re free til then to take it easy. Gotta keep your door open for now, til you’re settled, sorry.”
“Policy, right?” Dean says dryly.
“You got it,” she confirms. “If you have any questions, I’ll be right over there.” She points down the hall to the nurses’ station, and Dean nods. He stands in his doorway, watching her walk away, thinking maybe he kind of likes her attitude. He glances across the hallway. The door opposite his own is closed, the name Castiel N. printed on it. Weird fuckin’ name, Dean thinks before retreating into his room and flopping down on the bed. He spends the next hour or two motionless on the bed, staring at a blank spot on the wall, still in shock over his current situation.
“Dinner time, sugar,” Missouri calls, knocking on his door frame. Dean groans and rolls over to face her. “Come on, Dean, I’ll show you the ropes.” He’s not hungry, but he pushes himself up with a sigh and follows her down the hallway. He is led to a common room filled with tables and chairs and sees the other kids lining up to receive their trays. “When you’re done, return your tray and silverware, we count them by the way, and you can return to your room. Oh, and tonight is movie night, but don’t get too excited; it’s the younger kids’ turn to choose, and they always pick that one with the minions. Don’t worry, you don’t have to watch it.”
Dean glances around at the other patients as he waits for his tray, a few are staring openly at him, likely taking in the tattoos and bandages. It also doesn’t help matters that he is the tallest person in the room, being one of the oldest patients. After receiving his tray, he finds a spot in the corner and sinks into a chair, staring numbly at the food in front of him. It doesn’t look too bad, but he has no appetite. He takes a couple bites and spends the rest of the meal time pushing food around with his plastic spoon.
No one sits next to him or tries to speak to him, which he really doesn’t mind; he isn’t feeling particularly chatty. Off to the one side of him he hears a giggle, and turns in that direction where he catches two younger girls quickly looking away from him, lowering their voices as they huddle together. They’re clearly talking about him. He rolls his eyes and returns to staring at his plate.
In front of him, a little distance away, he sees another boy sitting by himself. He seems to be around Dean’s age though rather thin with unruly dark hair that he keeps running his fingers through as he concentrates on a notebook in front of him. He chews the end of his pencil every so often, rubbing the paper with his finger. It looks like he is sketching something, his fingertips dark with graphite. Dean realizes that he is the one staring now, when the boy glances up, making eye contact with him. Dean looks back down at his plate immediately, but not before noting how strikingly blue those eyes were.
The next time Dean looks up, those blue eyes are still fixed on him. Dean doesn’t know why he does it, boredom maybe, as a diversion, but he grins and winks at the kid who immediately turns bright red, dropping his pencil and subsequently scrambling under the table to retrieve it. Dean smirks to himself. He feels a little guilty, flustering the kid like that, but it was amusing nonetheless.
Pencil retrieved, the boy quickly gathers his things and makes a hasty exit. Dean sighs, wondering if he’d just done something stupid… again. He looks after the boy as he disappears out the door, wondering to himself what could be wrong with the kid, why was he here? He catches the two girls glancing at him again and runs his tongue over his lip, subtle but suggestive. They both dissolve into giggles again, and he stands, returns his tray and silverware, and walks slowly back to his room.
Missouri drops by once more before the end of her shift, telling him where he can brush his teeth before wishing him a good night and telling him she’ll see him tomorrow.
“Uh, Missouri?” Dean speaks up, just as she’s turning to leave.
“What is it, sugar?”
“Am I, uh, allowed to make a phone call?” Dean asks, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Who would you like to call?”
“My little brother. Wanna let him know I’m ok,” Dean says softly.
“Sure,” she smiles empathetically, “come with me.” He follows her to the nurses’ station where she dials the number for him and hands him the corded phone. He has to stand at the counter to talk on the phone, but he is grateful he’s allowed to call at all. The call goes to Sam’s voicemail. Dean figured it would, but he hopes Sam will get the message next time he charges the emergency phone. Sam has always been pretty good about keeping it charged.
“Uh, hey, Sammy,” Dean says quietly, trying not to let his voice crack, “it’s me. Just wanted to let you know I’m alright. You can try calling me back here tomorrow. Try not to worry too much, okay? See you soon.” He hands the phone back to a Missouri, who hangs it up gently. “Thanks,” he murmurs.
“Sounds like you’re a pretty good brother,” she says warmly.
“Wouldn’t be here if I was that good,” Dean says darkly.
“We’ve all made mistakes, Dean,” Missouri replies before wishing him a good night for a final time and heading for the door.
Returning to his room, Dean spots the boy from dinner in front of the door across from his own. The boy glances up, recognizes him, and freezes with his hand on the door, his face reddening again. Dean nods at him. So this is Castiel.
“Not watching the movie either?” Dean asks casually, trying to ease the kid’s obvious discomfort, the discomfort Dean feels responsible for.
“Uh, no,” the boy murmurs, his voice low, “once was enough.” Dean huffs a little laugh and grins. He can see the boy relax a little.
“I bet,” Dean agrees, and the boy looks up again, meeting his eyes. There is a peculiar depth to the boy’s shy gaze that catches Dean off guard. He clears his throat softly and says, “well, good night.”
“Good night,” Castiel returns quietly, and Dean watches as he quickly enters his room, shutting the door behind him. He must have earned that privilege, Dean reflects, having a closed door, and he wonders how long Castiel has been here.
Dean turns and steps into his own room, flipping the light off, and collapsing onto the bed. His arm is beginning to itch unbearably at the suture sights, and Dean really wants to scratch them raw. The only thing that stops him is the knowledge that tearing his arm open would likely prolong his stay here indefinitely, so he groans and rolls over in bed.
He hears a siren outside and glances up at his window, and his blood runs cold.
“What are you doing here? What do you want from me!?” Dean whispers harshly, scrambling backwards out of bed, flattening himself against the wall. The light from a street lamp backlights the silhouette of a man resting lazily against the desk by the window. The man remains silent, his snarled grin illuminated by the subtle glow of his eyes. Dean watches as the man pushes himself to standing from the edge of the desk.
“I’ll always know where you are,” the man says, his voice quiet like the hiss of a snake, seeming to come from Dean’s own head. Slowly the man walks past Dean to the door and out into the hallway. After a moment, Dean dares to walk to the doorframe, but when he looks down the hallway, there is nobody there.
Chapter 5: Behind Blue Eyes
Castiel closes the door quickly, leaning his back against it and taking a deep breath. He feels rattled. Running a hand over his hair, trying to calm it down as has become a habit of his, he begins pacing in the small amount of space he has to do so in. That guy… Castiel can’t get him out of his head. Ever since that moment at dinner, he has been in a tailspin. Castiel would like to believe in “love at first sight,” but he’s pretty sure that that needs to be mutual, and this is most likely not that at all. The wink? The cocky grin? What did it mean? Probably just fucking with him; kids are always fucking with him. Anyway, it isn’t love, Castiel berates himself, it’s lust at best. “Lust at first sight?” Yeah, that’s definitely a thing.
Either way, the guy is probably a cocky jerk. That, or he’s crazy. I mean, he’s here, right? But Castiel isn’t crazy, so… no; that guy, he must be fucked up somehow, completely gorgeous, and all fucked up. This cannot end well. That guy has got to be nothing but trouble. Either, he is a psycho or he's an asshole, OR they get along well and Castiel ends up in the “friend zone.” All paths lead to a broken heart. Dude probably isn’t even gay. All that aside, meeting some guy is pretty much the opposite outcome Castiel’s parents sent him here to achieve in the first place.
Castiel finally gives up, flipping off the light, groaning, and letting himself fall backwards onto his bed. He gropes around blindly for his iPod, one of the few diversions he has here. He was allowed to have it after the staff agreed he wasn’t a danger to himself. It was old, lacking the ability to connect to the internet or anything, but Missouri let him connect to her computer every so often to load music onto it. Castiel hits “shuffle” and curls up under his blanket, hoping he’ll be able to fall asleep soon. The Beatles sing to him through his earbuds.
Oh please, say to me
You'll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
Now let me hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
Too fucking fitting, but it’s one of his favorites, and he can’t skip it. when he sleeps, he has the same dreams he always has, dreams where he’s happy, dreams in which he’s not alone. Only this time, the guy who has his arm around him has the same goddamn green eyes and freckles as the guy across the hall.
In the morning, Castiel splashes cool water on his face, rubbing his eyes, trying to forget about the particularly pleasant dream he’d been having just before he woke up. He desperately tries to push that guy from his mind, but finds himself attempting extra hard to get his hair to look decent anyway.
“Goddamnit, Castiel,” he says as he’s walking back to his room. He doesn’t realize he is actually saying it out loud. “Get yourself together.”
“Talking to yourself, huh? That’s never good!” a familiar voice says behind him.
“Oh, Meg!” Castiel says, surprised, spinning around to face her. “You’re back from ‘time out.’ What did you do this time? Missouri wouldn’t tell me.”
“Apparently you aren’t supposed to have your bare foot on some dude’s crotch under the table during craft time,” she says gleefully, flipping her curly hair over her shoulder. “I still don’t know who narced, but if I find out…”
“Yeah, yeah, snitches get stitches, I know,” Castiel replies, rolling his eyes. Just then, That Guy emerges from his room, looking like he’s had a rough night, though the dark circles under his eyes do nothing to detract from his appeal to Castiel.
“Oh! Hello, handsome!” Meg says under her breath, openly staring as the guy passes by.
“Meg, don’t!” Castiel says threateningly through gritted teeth.
“What? A girl can look,” she says defensively.
“Just leave him alone.”
“Aw, Clarence, you’re no fun,” she mock-pouts, and then her eyes go wide. “Ohhhh, you want him for yourself,” she says in a low voice, and Castiel’s cheeks blaze red. “Oh, you do ! That’s adorable!”
“Shut up,” is the snappiest comeback Castiel can muster and he turns on his heel and retreats into his room. Meg follows him, leaning casually against his door frame as Castiel sits on the edge of his bed.
“I don’t blame you,” she says conciliatorily, “he’s frickin’ hot. Have you talked to him?” Castiel sighs. She’s not going to drop this, apparently.
“No, not really.”
“So you don’t know what his deal is?”
“No. I don’t even know what his name is.”
“It’s Dean,” she replies.
“What? How do you know that?”
“I’m psychic,” Meg deadpans, and Castiel scowls at her. “I read it on his door, genius.”
“Well, you better make your move quick, Cassie; I won’t be able to control myself for long…” Meg grins at him.
“Don’t call me ‘Cassie,’” Castiel growls.
“Aww, did my angel wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? You know, you’re cute when you’re pissy… so like, all the time,” she winks.
“Meg, leave that poor boy alone,” Missouri’s voice comes from down the hall. “You run along to your session now,” she adds. “How are you doing, dear?” she asks Castiel as she pauses at his door.
“I’m okay,” Castiel replies tiredly.
“Well, that doesn’t sound wholly convincing,” she says warmly, “you sure you’re doing alright?”
“I’m just tired.”
“Okay,” she says, not sounding convinced, “better go get something to eat.” Castiel nods, grabbing his iPod and sketchbook before heading to breakfast.
At breakfast, Castiel takes the same seat he always does, and Dean, it appears, has chosen the same spot as the day before as well. It would be so easy to get up and go talk to him, that is, if it weren’t for the fact that Castiel is painfully shy, and that feeling is only compounded by how incredibly attractive he finds Dean. So Castiel eats robotically, doing his best not to stare, trying to focus on the drawing in front of him, but he really can’t concentrate. Once, he glances up and Dean’s pretty eyes are fixed on him. Cas averts his gaze quickly, but he can feel his cheeks burning, cursing himself for how obvious he must be.
Dean looks exhausted, and Castiel wonders again why Dean is here. He finds himself staring at the bandages on Dean’s arms. It seems like maybe Dean notices, because he abruptly stands, returns his tray, and exits, leaving Castiel feeling like shit. He really hopes it was a coincidence, but he fears that it isn’t.
After breakfast, Castiel has his group therapy meeting. He enters and takes his usual seat in the circle. Garth, the group counselor, greets the circle of teens with his usual sunny optimism, which Castiel usually finds grating so soon after waking up. Just as they are starting, there is a knock on the door, which subsequently opens, revealing Missouri’s apologetic face.
“Good morning, Garth,” she says, “so sorry to interrupt, but I have a new member for you.”
“Excellent!” Garth replies with a wide grin, “welcome!” Castiel freezes as Dean trudges into the room, looking like he’d rather be a million miles away. He takes an empty seat across from Castiel, slumping into the chair and staring at his hands, appearing to be painfully uncomfortable in his own skin.
“Let’s all introduce ourselves to the newbie,” Garth announces, “say your name and how about your favorite music group or movie, you decide.” This is really gonna suck, Castiel decides as a perky blonde girl enthusiastically volunteers to begin.
“Hi, I’m Becky! I don’t think I can decide, but I’d say it’s definitely a tie between One Direction and BTS; oh my gosh, I love K-pop! But I dunno, I also love Ariana Grande, and of course there’s Lady Gaga! And…”
“Thank you, Becky! Your enthusiasm is much appreciated, as always,” Garth gently cuts her off. “Next?”
“I’m Anna,” says the painfully thin girl next to Becky. “My favorite movie is Garden State.” And so on. Castiel squirms as it’s almost his turn. The butterflies in his stomach feel more like Africanized bees at the moment. And then it’s his turn.
“I’m Castiel,” he mumbles, looking at the floor in front of him, “and I like The Beatles.” When he glances up, Dean is staring right at him. It’s the first time Dean has looked up from his hands since he sat down.
“Ah yes, the ‘British Invasion!’” Garth comments, “It’s been a hard day’s night, am I right?” he jokes lamely. Castiel is probably the only one to understand the reference, but he’s too preoccupied to respond. Finally, it’s Dean’s turn.
“Dean,” is all he says, once again staring at his hands. Becky and Anna are exchanging knowing looks, pretty much gossiping with their eyes, and Castiel feels a ridiculous stab of jealousy when Dean simply glances in their direction.
“Welcome, Dean,” Garth says, “and who do you like to listen to?”
“Zeppelin.” Dean clearly doesn’t plan to participate in any conversation, but Garth moves on cheerfully, beginning the day's session. Castiel wishes Dean would speak up, dying to know more, but he doesn’t really blame him, as Castiel can barely bring himself to participate today either, not with Dean sitting right there.
“Castiel?” The voice seemed to be coming from a distance, “Castiel? Ground control to Castiel!” Garth teases good-naturedly, and suddenly, Castiel is aware that everyone is staring at him, and he wonders how long Garth has been attempting to get his attention.
“Oh, uh s-sorry, what?” he stammers.
“Do you have anything that you would like to contribute to the discussion?” Garth asks.
“No...sorry, not that I can think of,” Castiel says softly, glancing around the room. His breath catches in his chest when his eyes fall on Dean. Dean is looking right at him, an amused sort of grin on his face. Castiel’s instincts tell him he’s being laughed at, but when he looks harder into those green eyes, he doesn’t really think it’s that at all.
Castiel is useless for the rest of the session, stealing glances at Dean every so often. More often than not, Dean is looking back at him which always makes his face burn hot. This only seems to encourage Dean. If Dean is trying to mess with him, Castiel thinks, it’s working, and he’s a real dick, but Castiel hopes that that isn’t the case. He hopes it so bad his chest hurts.
At lunch, Castiel sits in his usual spot. He tells himself he’s going to do it; he’s going to say ‘hello’ to Dean, if Dean sits in his usual spot. Or maybe ‘hi.’ Or ‘hey.’ Yeah, ‘hey’ sounds nice and casual. His heart is racing, and his palms are sweaty, and in a minute, he can already tell he’s probably gonna lose the nerve and just sit there silently after all.
He suddenly has no appetite and pushes his food off to the side, pulling out his sketch pad, hoping his hands aren’t shaking too badly to hold a pencil.
“You drew that?” an awed voice says from above Castiel’s right shoulder.
“Uh, yeah,” Cas answers, turning toward the voice. It’s Dean, and he looks so sincere that Castiel feels suddenly like he has forgotten how to breathe.
“That’s awesome, man,” Dean says next.
“Th-thanks,” Castiel manages.
“This seat taken?” Dean asks casually. Castiel can’t believe this is happening.
“No, nope, totally free,” he answers all too enthusiastically, shoving his own tray further out of the way.
“Cool,” Dean says, sitting across from him. “So, who is it?” Dean asks of the drawing, a portrait of a young man.
“It’s, uh, it’s Paul McCartney,” Castiel replies, his cheeks turning pink yet again.
“Well, I don’t really know what he looks like, but I’m sure it’s just like that,” Dean says with his mouth full, a habit that usually irritates Castiel, reminding him of his brother Gabe, but on Dean he thinks it’s rather endearing.
“Well, thanks,” Castiel says, “I’m not usually satisfied with my drawings, but I think this one is turning out alright.”
“Alright!?” Dean says incredulously, “dude, it looks like a fuckin’ photograph. Seriously, man. Wish I had some kind of talent.” Castiel can feel his face practically burning up, he’s blushing so hard. It’s embarrassing, but he can’t hide his smile either. Glancing shyly up at Dean, Castiel can feel in his gut that the boy isn’t fucking with him. And Dean seems so confident, so genuine, that some of Castiel's nerves go away, and he finds himself having a real conversation. A conversation with the most gorgeous guy he has ever laid eyes on. Yeah, that probably sounds like hyperbole, but it’s true.
“You gonna go to art school or something in the future?” Dean asks, seeming to take a real interest in him.
“I would love to,” Castiel admits, “but there’s no way my parents would ever pay for that. What about you?”
“You’re so good, though,” Dean counters, leaving Castiel’s question unanswered, “I’m sure you could get scholarships or whatever.”
“Maybe,” Castiel shrugs, “still pretty sure they’d disown me.”
“Huh,” Dean says, “shitty parents?” Castiel snorts.
“Guess you could say that,” Castiel agrees. “What about you? Are your parents hard on you?”
“Pretty sure mom was an honest to god angel,” Dean says sadly, “but she’s dead. Dad was probably okay when she was around, but he’s a real piece of work now.”
“I’m sorry,” Castiel says for lack of anything better to say.
“Don’t be. You got any siblings?” Dean asks, and Castiel rolls his eyes dramatically, eliciting a smile from Dean. “That bad?” he asks with a laugh.
“Well, Gabe’s an annoying jerk, but he can be alright. He at least treats me like I’m a normal person. Anael is a snobby bitch, Michael thinks he’s god’s gift to the world, and I’m pretty sure my parents agree, and Lucifer is an evil bastard. Really grew into his name. And Raphael, well, he’s only two, so he’s fine, but I'm sure they’ll all turn him against me too once he’s old enough.” Dean looks at him dumbfounded.
“Wait a sec, pump the brakes! Your parents named a kid Lucifer? What the fuck?! I mean, no offense man, but your family sounds fuckin’ weird,” Dean blurts, eyebrows raised.
“No offense taken!” Castiel assures him, “they are weird. Sometimes I wish I was an orphan,” he adds dryly.
“I hear you. Jeez, and I thought being named after my grandma was weird,” Dean laughs, “but fuckin’ Lucifer!? They were just asking for an evil kid.” Castiel actually finds himself laughing. He’d almost forgotten how that feels.
“Castiel’s not much better,” he says with another eye roll.
“Nah, it’s better. It’s, uhh… unique,” Dean replies.
“You’re a bad liar,” Castiel grins.
“Okay, yeah it’s a weird name, but I guess it could be worse,” Dean says, shaking his head and smiling.
“Yeah, I guess.” Castiel feels so warm and fuzzy inside, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. “Uh, you got any siblings?”
“Just one. Sammy’s thirteen. He’s a great kid though, really smart, real caring.” Dean suddenly looks like he’s gone far away, a somber look in his eyes. “Fuck… feel like I really let him down,” Dean adds bitterly.
“Sorry,” Cas says again, wishing he could think of something better.
“So what’s with all the crazy names, anyway? Your family in some kinda cult or something?” Dean asks, obviously changing the subject. Castiel snorts again.
“Actually, that’s not far off,” he says. “They’re very religious. We’re all named after angels,” Castiel says, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah? I don’t remember a ‘Castiel’ in the Bible,” Dean comments.
“That’s because there isn’t one,” Castiel replies, “you know much about the Bible?”
“Some. Mostly just read the parts having to do with angels or demons. Always found that shit interesting,” Dean says with a shrug, and Castiel’s eyes travel to one of the tattoos on Dean’s arm. “Guess it shows,” Dean says, noticing Castiel’s gaze.
“Are those, like, demonic symbols?” Castiel asks boldly, almost hopefully. But Dean laughs. At least he isn’t offended, Castiel thinks, thankfully.
“Nah, but I let people think they are if it gets them to leave me alone,” Dean smirks. “This one,” he says, pointing to a small row of symbols just above his elbow on the inside of his arm, “is Enochian. Angel language. And this one,” he adds, pulling the neck of his scrub top off to the left side, revealing a pentagram wreathed by flames, “protects against demon possession.”
“That’s awesome,” Castiel comments enthusiastically, even if he has to admit to himself that he’s a little disappointed in Dean’s not being a devil worshipper. That would have been perhaps too perfect, a perfect way to piss off his parents. “I thought you had to be eighteen to get tattoos,” Castiel says, curious.
“Not if you know the right people,” Dean replies mysteriously. Castiel wants to ask him all about each tattoo he has, but he figures that’s probably too personal for now. There’s a brief lull in the conversation as Castiel debates with himself about what to say next. Dean beats him to it, though.
“Hey, uh, Cas?” Dean asks suddenly. Cas, Castiel likes it.
“How long have you been here?” Dean asks, his eyes as sincere as ever.
“About a week, why?” Castiel replies shyly.
“Just wondering. Dunno how long they’re gonna keep me.” Dean seems somber again.
“Well, a lot of kids aren’t here that long,” Cas offers. “A week is sort of long.” Dean nods. “They usually just keep you here until they don’t thing you’re gonna kill yourself or murder someone.”
“But they’re keeping you? You some kinda homicidal maniac, Cas?” Dean asks with a grin. Normally, this topic would make Castiel uncomfortable, but the way Dean talks, feels so different. He doesn’t feel judged by Dean or condemned by Dean.
“No,” Castiel answers, shaking his head, “but I guess they’ll keep you as long as your parents want them to, if your parents donate enough money to build a new hospital wing.” Dean stare at him, mouth agape, a look of confusion in his eyes.
“Holy hell, Cas,” Dean mutters, “well that just opens up a whole bunch of new questions. So you’re a rich kid? Your parents some kind of shady lawyers or Wallstreet whatevers?”
“Ugh. I wish,” Cas deadpans.
“Well, what? You got me curious now!” Dean prods. Cas sighs loudly.
“I guess you’d find out sooner or later, so I may as well just tell you,” Castiel grumbles. “My dad is Jimmy Novak.” When Dean doesn’t say anything, Castiel looks up at him.
“Oookay?” Dean questions, “so what? Am I supposed to know who that is?” At this, Castiel’s face lights up.
“Really? You don’t recognize that name?” he asks hopefully.
“Uh, no. Should I?”
“Thank god,” Cas breathes. “Most people around here do, and it sucks.”
“Why? What does he do?” Dean asks.
“He’s a ‘televangelist,’” Castiel groans, “leads a stupid fake-as-fuck megachurch.”
“Damn,” Dean says, “still, must be nice, having money and stuff.” Castiel shrugs.
“I mean, I don’t wanna sound ungrateful, but I’d give up the money to have a decent family.”
“Do they beat you or something?” Dean asks bluntly.
“Well, no. Actually I can’t remember the last time my dad was close enough to touch me at all.”
“Lucky,” Dean says with a cold laugh. “Still don’t get why you’re here.”
“‘Cause I’m a fuckin’ embarrassment,” Cas snaps without meaning to. Dean raises his hands in surrender, and Cas apologizes before adding, “you wanna know why? So you can pick on me like everyone else?”
“No, Cas, shit, just curious is all. Why would I do that?” Dean says sincerely, and maybe Cas believes him.
“Because I’m gay, and we live in the fucking Bible Belt, and everyone else does,” Cas blurts, looking down at his hands. Dean just stares at him blankly.
“And?” Dean says after a moment, as if he’s expecting Castiel to continue, to get to the part when he says what’s “wrong” with him.
“There’s no ‘and,’ Dean,” Cas says quietly.
“I don’t understand,” Dean says plainly.
“What don’t you understand?” Cas says, his tone implying that it’s completely obvious.
“Cas,” Dean begins, his voice rough and low, “I OD’ed on Oxy and Jack. I guess I fucked it up with too much whiskey, ‘cause I puked it up all over and didn’t die. That’s why I’m here. So what crazy-ass shit did you do to land your ass in here with me?” Castiel’s eyes are wide. He’s frozen, unsure what to say to that.
“Dean, I…” Cas hesitates. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t need your sympathy,” Dean says coldly. Castiel swallows the lump in his throat. “Why are you here?”
“I’m gay,” Castiel repeats, but Dean’s expression doesn’t change.
“So what?” Dean says. “What’s this place gonna help?”
“I dunno, but my parents want me fixed,” Cas says defeatedly.
“Don’t sound like you need fixing,” Dean says, leaning back in his chair and Cas smiles.
“I don’t know about that. Honestly, though? I don’t really mind being here. Better than being home,” Castiel says lightly.
“So, lemme get this straight,” Dean says, “you’re into dudes, your parents want you not to be, and they sent you here to fix that? Dude, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.” Castiel grins.
“Well, it hasn’t worked so far,” Cas snorts.
“Would the hospital actually keep you here for that, though? I mean, that’s fucked up.”
“Probably not, but my parents said I was threatening to kill myself or some bullshit, so they’d take me. And they’re rich, and have lots of lawyers, and can pretty much get their way about anything, so here I am.”
“Damn,” Dean replies. “They don’t know lying is a sin?” he jokes.
“Ha!” Castiel laughs, “my dad’s a total fucking hypocrite. My mom’s hooked on pills, Lucifer is basically a felon waiting to be caught, Michael is a conceited douchebag and pathological liar, Gabe is a kleptomaniac who enjoys coke and hookers, and Anael is a total narcissistic slut, and I may be losing track, but I think she’s had like three abortions. But yeah, my sin is the disgraceful, ‘embarrassment to the family’ one,” Cas rolls his eyes.
“Holy shit!” Dean grins, “if it weren’t for the hypocrisy, they’d almost sound like a fun bunch.” Cas just shakes his head, laughing.
When meal time is over, Castiel finds himself disappointed, unready to end the time with Dean.
“Guess I’ll see you around, Cas,” Dean says simply, and Cas nods, watching him walk down the hall, wishing he had something clever to say in return.
Chapter 6: Sammy
Warning: child abuse (not sexual)
The morning after Dean ODed:
“I don’t wanna go!” Sam shouts at his father, “I wanna stay here with Dean!”
“Sam, if you don’t shut up this instant, so help me god…” John growls through gritted teeth. The look in his eyes tells Sam that he isn’t fucking around. “If you ever want to see Dean again, you will shut up and follow me right now.” Sam bites his lip, trying with everything in him not to cry, knowing tears will only piss his dad off further.
“Can I at least say goodbye to him?” Sam asks quietly.
“What did I just say? Not another word.” Sam nods and follows his dad down the hallway, away from the person that he loves more than anything in the world.
The ride home in John’s truck is silent. Tears run down Sam’s cheeks, but he stares out the window, hiding them from his dad. When they get home, a feeling of dread creeps into Sam’s chest. He doesn’t want to enter that house, see the evidence that this whole thing really happened.
“Hurry up, Sam, come on,” John says to him when he freezes at the front door. Sam obeys dutifully, watching as his father grabs a beer from the fridge, completely ignoring the evidence of the fight he’d had with his older son. Sam stands motionless as his dad crosses to the living room, flopping down on the couch, and that’s where he stays for the rest of the day, only getting up for the next drink.
Sam doesn’t know what to do. His head is spinning, and every glance into the kitchen sends chills through his body. John isn’t going to clean it up, Sam knows, and Dean isn’t here, which leaves only one option. Sam throws himself into cleaning. He picks up all the broken glass and broken plates, only cutting himself a few times. He scrubs the floor until it is cleaner than it has ever been. He scrubs the walls. He has to change his bucket of water frequently as he scrubs at the dried blood; the metallic smell of the bloody water makes him want to vomit. Whenever he thinks he is finished with the blood spatter, he finds another drop somewhere. He spends the entire day this way until the whole place smells like bleach, and Sam feels high off the fumes. It’s getting dark outside.
“Better get to bed, Sammy. You got school tomorrow,” John says suddenly. It’s the first thing he has said all day, and he says it as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Sam hadn’t expected to be thanked for the hours of work he had done, hadn’t expected to be praised for saving his brother’s life, but this? John hasn’t said a word about Dean or what had occurred. Not one word. Sam can’t stand it, and tears are again rolling down his face, tears of rage and disbelief.
“Go on, Sam,” his dad says again coldly. The bedroom he shares with Dean is the last place he wants to go right now. It’s all too fresh. He almost expects to see apparitions of the past day's events if he goes in there, shadowy ghosts of Dean, the paramedics, himself, the trainee, like a haunting caused by an emotionally charged event. But Sam doubts his dad would understand any of that.
“Can I sleep out here? Just for tonight?” Sam asks desperately.
“But, dad, the room’s a mess,” Sam protests weakly.
“I said ‘no,’ Sam! The whole fucking house is a mess. I don’t know what Dean does all day. He dropped out of school, you’d think he could at least keep the place clean,” John says coldly. It’s the first time he has mentioned Dean all evening.
“He has two jobs,” Sam says quietly.
“Don’t sass me, boy! Go to bed, and don’t make me tell you again!” John shouts, and Sam knows he’s gone too far, but he just can’t stop the next words out of his mouth.
“This is all your fault, you know! Dean tried to kill himself because of you!” Sam screams. It’s the first time he has ever dared to raise his voice to their father. He’s never done it before, because he knows John would take it out on Dean, but Dean isn’t here now.
“Don’t you dare put this on me, boy,” John growls, standing from his spot on the couch, and Sam knows he’s in for it this time. “I didn’t make Dean do shit! Dean’s weakness has nothing to do with me!”
“He’s not weak!” Sam shouts, backing up against the wall as his father approaches, “and you treat him like shit! You hurt him, and tell him he’s worthless, but he isn’t!” Sam is sobbing now, knowing he should shut up and run for it, but he just can’t. “If Dean…” But his father cuts him off.
“Shut your goddamn mouth, and go to bed!” John roars, grabbing Sam by the arm and wrenching him forward. Sam cries out as he feels a crack in his wrist, followed by a sharp pain. His dad releases him and he falls to the floor. Sam stays there, curling into the fetal position, trying to shield himself from the onslaught that he knows is coming. It surprises him when instead, he hears his dad wrench the front door open, followed by the roar of his truck, and the squealing of tires.
Slowly, Sam pushes himself up with his good arm, cradling his right close to his body. It’s already swelling badly, but he doesn’t know what to do. He has nowhere to go for help, and he has no idea when his father will return, so he decides it would be best if he hurried to his room, and stayed there for the rest of the night.
He takes a deep breath and walks toward his bedroom. At least the pain in his arm distracts somewhat from his mental anguish.
The smell is overwhelming: vomit and dried blood. Dean’s bed is a mess. With one arm, Sam struggles, but gathers Dean’s bedding, hauling it down the hall to the washing machine. He dumps about half a gallon of bleach in with it and turns it on hot. He knows he’s probably ruining the sheets, but he doesn’t care; he’d have burned them, if that had been an option.
Returning to the room, he opens the window and tries to lay down on his bed. He can’t turn the light out. He puts on Dean’s favorite Zeppelin record, careful not to scratch it, but he still can’t sleep. He can’t stay here, can’t stay in this room alone. He gets up and walks over to the record player, and something on Dean’s nightstand catches his eye: the keys to the Impala.
Without hesitation, Sam grabs the keys, his pillow, and his blanket, and rushes to the front door of the house, hoping John is still gone. He is.
Carefully, Sam crawls into the backseat of the Impala, locks all the doors, and curls up with his blanket and pillow. Being a teenage boy, Dean has left plenty of junk in the backseat, including an old sweatshirt. Sam would never admit it, but he buries his face in that sweatshirt; it smells like Dean, and it calms him, if only a little. Sam shifts a little and feels a lump in his pocket. It’s his cell phone.
He pulls it out of his pocket, he moves to set it aside, but notices he has a new voice message from an unknown number. Dean’s voice comes through the speaker, soft and slightly distorted, but it’s Dean, and he’s okay. Sam plays the message over and over, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in his wrist. Eventually, he falls into an exhaustion-induced sleep.
The next morning, Sam wakes up and looks out the Impala’s window. His dad’s truck is still gone, and he breathes a little sigh of relief.
He struggles through his morning routine one-handed, but manages to make it to school on time. About halfway through the school day, his home room teacher takes notice of his wrist. Reluctantly, Sam tugs his sleeve up so she can look at it. It’s horribly swollen, black and blue, and Sam admits he can’t really move the fingers on that hand. His teacher is horrified. Sam, of course, claims it was an accident.
After a number of calls to John that remain unanswered, it is decided that the school’s guidance counselor and social worker will drive Sam to the hospital.
Worse than the pain, Sam’s anxiety flares. He just knows this will not end well.
Chapter 7: Helpless
Billie gazes at Dean patiently, waiting for a response. It’s his first one on one session with a psychiatrist, and it’s painfully uncomfortable. He likes Billie and all; she seems cool, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him to talk about his feelings.
“Let’s start with something easier, perhaps,” Billie suggests, moving on from the question Dean was failing to answer. “How are you adjusting to being here?”
“I dunno,” Dean mutters.
“Well, do you feel comfortable? Have you spoken with any of the staff or other residents?”
“Yeah, a little. Can’t say it’s really comfortable. No privacy and all that,” Dean says.
“It can be quite an adjustment when you’re used to having your own space. I can understand that. Can you tell me about the people you’ve met?” Billie has her pen poised, ready to scrawl across the page in her notepad, and Dean finds it unnerving.
“Uh, well there was Missouri. She let me leave Sammy a message, so that was nice.” Billie nods, her eyes still focused on him. “And uh, met a kid named Cas. Seems cool, I guess. His family sounds pretty crazy.”
“Yeah? How does that make you feel about your own family?” Billie asks gently.
“Guess I’m not the only one with a fucked up family.” Billie smiles, and is about to say something when there is a quiet knock on the door.
“I’m so sorry,” the nurse says as she peeks her head into the room. “Dean?”
“That’s me,” Dean says.
“I have a phone call on hold for you. So sorry to interrupt, but it is important.” Dean nods, and stands to follow her, his stomach beginning to churn with anxiety.
“What is it?” he asks, “everything okay?”
“Yes, everything will be alright. Your brother wants to speak with you. He hurt his wrist, but he’s okay.”
“What do you mean?” Dean says, a little louder and more forcefully than he means to.
“Here,” she says, handing him the phone.
“Sammy!?” Dean asks urgently, pressing the receiver to his ear.
“Dean!” Sam says, sounding confusingly happy.
“Hey, are you alright? They said you’re hurt,” Dean says anxiously.
“Yeah, broke my wrist, but now I feel… floaty.” Sam says, and he sounds a little goofy, definitely a little high on some pain killers.
“You broke your wrist!?” Dean exclaims.
“Yeah. I’m in the ER right now. Wanna see you, Dean,” and Sam suddenly sounds even younger than he is.
“You’re in the ER!? Is dad with you?” Dean can’t help raising his voice, and he knows people are staring at him.
“No. Dunno where he is.”
“Humph, figures,” Dean says bitterly, fuming. “Sammy, how did you break your wrist?” Dean asks with a sinking feeling in his gut that only grows with Sam’s response.
“I, uh… I fell,” Sam says uncertainly. Dean knows he’s lying.
“Someone in the room with you?” he asks.
“He did it, didn’t he?” Dean says in a hushed tone.
“Yeah.” Sam sounds distant, his voice small and frail.
”That son of a bitch!” Dean swears under his breath. His hands are shaking now, his temper flaring. He wants so badly to punch something, to rip the phone out of the wall and throw it down the hallway. He can feel tears burning in his eyes. One fucking night. He was gone for one fucking night, and his little brother already paid for it.
“Sammy?” Dean says quietly. “Maybe you should tell someone.” He is terrified of losing Sam to the foster system, but now the idea of Sam left alone with their father scares him even more.
“What if I have to leave? I wanna stay with you,” Sam says with a trembling voice that breaks Dean’s heart.
“I know, Sammy, I want that too, but I don’t want you gettin’ hurt again.” Dean can hear Sam sniffling on the other line, which causes the onset of his own damn tears.
“When are you coming home? Wanna see you,” Sam sniffs.
“I… I don’t know, Sam, but I really wanna see you too.”
“Can you come see me now?” Sam asks hopefully.
“Dunno if they’ll let me, but I’ll try, okay? Sammy, you got this number right? You call me every day, okay?”
“Okay, Dean, I will. Please come home soon.”
“I’ll do my best, I promise. I got to go, but I’ll see if I can visit you.”
“‘Kay. Bye Dean,” Sam sniffs.
“Bye, Sammy.” Dean whirls around as soon as he hangs up the phone. “I gotta go!” he says loudly to the nearest staff member. “I need to get out of here now!” He can tell he’s losing it. He’s hyperventilating, panic flooding his system. His baby brother is alone in the ER, and there is nothing he can do about it.
Hearing Dean’s raised voice, Missouri hurries around the corner.
“Dean?” She says kindly. She approaches him as the other staff members back away, ready to call security if need be. “Can you please come with me?” Dean looks at her and she can see the panic written across his face. “Come on, sugar.” He follows her down the hallway.
“Missouri, please, I need to get out of here! It’s real important,” Dean says desperately as she leads him into a quiet room with a few chairs.
“Hold up, Dean, and tell me what’s going on,” Missouri says evenly, turning to face him, “I need you to calmly tell me what’s wrong.” Her steady tone and lack of panic are nearly too much for Dean. He wants to shout, but he knows he can’t if he wants any chance of seeing Sam.
“It’s Sammy, he’s hurt, and he’s alone in the ER, and I gotta be with him. ‘S my fault he’s there in the first place!” Dean says as calmly as he can, but the panic and rage he feels is bubbling just below the surface. “Missouri, please, I have to be with him!”
“Dean, where is your father? Isn’t he with your brother?” Missouri asks, concern in her eyes.
“I dunno where he is, probably out drunk somewhere, but Sammy’s alone,” Dean says with tears in his eyes, “I gotta go take care of him!”
“Oh dear,” Missouri sighs sadly. “I wish I could let you go see him, Dean, I’d take you myself, but we need your father’s permission. We need him here to sign you out.” Dean can’t believe his ears.
“What are you talking about!? Sammy is in this fucking building!” Dean shouts, unable to control himself any longer. He’s seething. He can’t think straight. “He’s just a kid, and he’s hurt, and I’m all he has!” He spins around and punches the wall, regretting the decision immediately when he feels a burning pain in his palm.
“Dean,” Missouri says sternly, unshaken by his outburst, “I want to help you. We all want to help you, but I can’t do anything if you can’t keep yourself under control. There are a few nurses in here who’d have called security already. We have seen a lot of kids lash out, angry, frustrated. They get violent. Now I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, Dean. I don’t believe you want to hurt anyone here except maybe yourself. Am I right about that?” Dean nods, and hangs his head. He can feel blood dripping down his fingers where he’d popped a stitch in the palm of his hand.
“‘M sorry,” he says quietly.
“Good. Now let me see that hand, sugar, then we can try to see about a visit with your brother.”
Missouri patches up his hand, and tells him to wait in his room while she makes some phone calls.
Dean collapses onto his bed, and soon hears a gentle knocking on his doorframe.
“What do you want?” he asks harshly, knowing it’s too soon to be Missouri.
“Uh, it’s me. Is everything okay?” Castiel asks hesitantly.
“No,” Dean says bitterly, “actually, everything’s fucking awful.” He doesn’t turn to face Cas. He can’t. He can’t face anyone right now.
“Oh, sorry,” Cas says softly.
“Yeah? Sorry for what?” Dean murmurs into his pillow.
“You wanna talk about it?” Castiel asks.
“I wanna be fuckin’ left alone,” Dean growls. Cas doesn’t say anything, but Dean can hear the boy walk across the hall, shutting the door to his own room. Tears burn in his eyes. Like so many of the things he’s done, Dean regrets being an asshole almost immediately. He knows the kid was trying to be friendly, and Dean basically slapped him in the face.
Dean sobs hard into his pillow, hoping no one can hear him. Last thing he needs is a bunch of crazy kids thinking he’s a “pussy.”
“Let’s go, sugar, you’ve got a visitor!” It’s Missouri. Dean isn’t sure how long he’s been out, but he rubs his eyes and jumps out of bed so fast he feels dizzy.
Missouri takes him down a hallway he hasn’t visited before. She leads him to a small room with a couple chairs and a couch.
“Make yourself comfortable; I’ll be right back,” she says to him, and Dean plops himself down on the couch. He rubs his eyes again and runs his fingers through his hair a couple times, hoping he doesn’t look like the wreck he is.
The next time the door opens, Dean is greeted by Sam’s smiling, possibly still a little doped-up face.
“Dean!” Sam cries as if they haven’t seen each other in ages. Dean stands quickly to greet him. Sam immediately wraps his arms around Dean’s waist. Missouri smiles at them, gently shutting the door and leaving them to themselves. Dean knows they aren’t really alone; there’s a camera on the ceiling, but he appreciates the pseudo-privacy anyway.
“Sammy,” Dean sighs as he returns his little brother’s hug. “Are you okay?” he asks, pulling back to look at Sam’s face.
“Yeah,” he replies, “just want you to come home.”
“Me too, believe me.” Together, they sit on the couch. Dean sits cross legged with his back against an arm of the couch, and Sam copies him.
“Why are you here, anyway?” Sam asks. “Dad hasn’t told me anything.”
“They wanna keep me here until they know I won’t hurt myself,” Dean answers truthfully, glancing up into Sam’s sad, hazel eyes.
“You won’t, though, right?” Sam asks softly.
“No. It was a huge mistake, and I’m so sorry. I promise you, Sammy, I won’t do that again.” Dean can literally hear Sam breathe a sigh of relief. “But I don’t know how long I have to stay here.” Sam sighs.
“Sam, how's your arm?” Dean asks after a pause.
“Okay. Feels better now that it’s fixed,” Sam answers, holding out the arm with a cast. Sam had chosen neon green for the color.
“You’re real brave, you know, handling that all by yourself.” Sam smiles at Dean, always happy to receive his big brother’s praise. “How did it happen, though? Tell me the truth.”
“I shouldn’t have yelled at dad,” Sam says quietly. “It was my fault.”
“No, Sammy, it wasn’t. You have as much right to yell as anyone,” Dean says, anger at their father seeping from his pores. “He has no right to touch you. Tell me what he did.” And Sam tells him the whole story.
“I’m so sorry, Sam,” Dean sighs, defeated, “none of this should have happened.”
“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Sam says, gazing at Dean as if he’s the most important person in the world, and to Sam, he is.
“Thanks to you,” Dean says seriously, and Sam lunges forward, crawling across the couch to wrap his arms around him once more. Sam isn’t usually so clingy, but Dean understands why that has changed, and likewise, he takes comfort in his brother’s embrace, knowing there is one person in the world who cares about him so deeply.
Dean can feel Sam’s body beginning to tremble, all of the boy’s fear and sorrow, and pain, pouring out of him suddenly after holding himself together for so long. Dean holds him tighter as Sam begins sobbing uncontrollably, his tears hot as they make contact with Dean’s skin.
“I’m scared,” Sam chokes. “I don’t know how to deal with dad like you do.” Dean squeezes his own eyes shut against his own pain and the fear he doesn’t want to show Sam.
“Sammy, are there any kids at school you could stay with til I’m out of here?” Dean asks, wracking his brain for any solution that doesn’t end in losing Sam to the system or Sam being hurt again.
“I don’t know,” Sam sniffs, “maybe, but what about tonight? I don’t want to go home without you.”
“We could tell one of the nurses here the truth.”
“No! I don’t wanna be sent away from you!” Sam cries.
“Sammy,” Dean says sadly, “couldn’t live with myself if something happened to you…”
“Please don’t tell,” Sam pleads with him.
“Fine. Listen to me though,” Dean says, pulling away to look into Sam’s eyes, “if anything happens, if dad gets mad or drunk or whatever, if he even comes near you, I want you to run. Okay? You run out of there and hide. Keep your phone on you all the time and call here as soon as you can.”
“Okay,” Sam says, hiccuping, “I- I will.”
“It’s gonna be okay,” Dean says, trying to sound confident, “as soon as I’m out of here, I’ll figure something out.” Sam nods and leans back in, tightening his grip again. Then there is a gentle knock on the door, and Missouri enters, smiling at the brothers, Sam, apparently not ready to let go.
“Sorry, you two, but you’re needed back downstairs, Sam,” she says apologetically. “The doctor wants to check you out once more, make sure those meds are wearing off alright before sending you home.” Sam sniffs and nods, finally letting go of his older brother.
“Oh! I almost forgot,” Sam says suddenly, pulling a Sharpie out of his pocket, “you wanna sign it?” he says to Dean, proffering the marker and his casted arm.
“Sure,” Dean says with a crooked grin.
Quickly, Dean scrawls out a message, followed by a sigil Sam is familiar with, the same one Dean has tattooed on his chest. Sam smiles when he sees it.
“I’ll see you again real soon, Sammy,” Dean says, pulling Sam in for a last hug. “Remember what I told you.”
“I will. Bye, Dean,” Sam replies, and Dean can hear in his voice that he is struggling not to begin crying again.
He releases Sam from his arms and watches as a nurse leads him away down the hall. He feels suddenly cold without Sam’s warmth at his side. Cold and alone, exhaustion grips him, a tiredness that seeps into his bones.
“It’s dinner time, Dean,” Missouri says softly. Dean sighs and rubs his face hard, fighting back the emotions that are threatening to spill down his cheeks.
“Not hungry,” Dean grunts, “just wanna go to bed.”
“Alright,” Missouri replies reluctantly, and Dean is grateful she doesn’t fight him on this.
“Thanks,” Dean says quietly, “for everything.”
“You’re quite welcome,” she replies with a smile and a pat on his shoulder.
In his room again Dean crawls onto his bed, pulling the blanket up over his head, blocking out the light from the hallway. Eventually he falls into a fitful sleep.
Yellow eyes burn through the darkness at him, and he can’t breathe. A sinister voice echoes in his head, its bass notes vibrating in his chest.
“What have you done, Dean?” the voice taunts, “I think you know.” A cold laugh tears through his body, making his ribs ache. “Sent your Sammy back into waiting jaws. We’ll tear him to shreds. There's nothing you can do.”
Dean wakes, a strangled scream in his throat. He sits shakily on the edge of his bed, panting, gasping for breath, his hands trembling as he feels sweat trickling down his back. They’re gonna get to Sammy.
Chapter 8: I'll Dream of Him Tonight
Trigger warning for further discussion of self harm
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…
Chapter 9: With a Little Help from My Friends
“You doin’ alright, sugar?” Missouri asks Dean once Cas has returned to his own room.
“I don’t know,” Dean says quietly.
“Your brother sure seems like a great kid,” she remarks.
“He is. Just can’t quit worrying about him. He deserves so much more than all this.”
“He’s lucky he’s got a big brother who cares so much,” Missouri replies warmly, adding, “Now, is there anything you need before I call it quits for the evening?” before he can deny it.
“No. Thanks though.” Missouri says her goodbyes, and Dean finds himself alone again. He thinks about Castiel sleeping in the room across the hall, and he finds himself thinking it would’ve been nice if he was given a roommate. There’s something too goddamn lonely about this place at night. Maybe it’s because he is used to sleeping about ten feet away from Sammy, but he wishes he were sharing a room with Cas. It had been nice talking to him.
In some ways Cas reminds Dean of Sam: Cas has an air of innocence about him. He seems sweet and honest and accepting like Sam. But there’s something else about him too, something that is very unlike Sam, something in those blue, blue eyes that draws him in. Castiel is so different from the other kids he’d known before he dropped out of school. Cas, to put it simply, is interesting.
Dean wakes up before it’s time for breakfast and decides to find Missouri. She has just arrived and is settling herself down in the nurse’s station. Dean approaches calmly, leaning against the counter, trying hard to turn on that “Dean Winchester charm.”
“Mornin’ Missouri,” Dean says, the cheerful tone he uses feeling odd in his mouth.
“Good morning to you too, Dean,” she replies, looking pleased, “did you sleep alright?”
“Good enough,” Dean shrugs. “Hey, I was wondering if maybe I could call Sammy’s school. Just want to check in, make sure he made it back okay with his wrist and everything.”
“Dean, shouldn’t your father be taking care of all that? You should be worrying about getting yourself well,” she says gently, with an appraising gaze. Dean knows he has to swallow his frustration and fear if he wants this to happen.
“Honestly?” Dean answers calmly, “our dad’s gone a lot. It’s usually just me and Sam at home. I’m the one that looks out for him. Please, Missouri, I just want to know he’s okay so I won’t worry about him all day.” Missouri sighs.
“Dean Winchester,” she says, clicking her tongue, “why do I get the feeling you aren’t telling me the whole truth?” But she looks up the number and dials it, handing him the phone.
“Thank you,” he says as the phone rings. He asks to be transferred to the guidance counselor, explaining who he is. The woman on the end of the line sounds skeptical but transfers him anyway.
“This is Lisa,” a woman’s voice says cheerfully.
“Uhm, hi, Lisa, this is Dean Winchester. I’m Sam’s older brother,” Dean says a little hesitantly, “I think you were the one who brought him to the ER yesterday.”
“Oh,” she says, sounding surprised, “yes. We have actually been trying to contact your father, but we haven’t had any luck.”
“Uh, yeah, he can be difficult to reach,” Dean says, trying not to let his anger bleed out into his tone. “He’s gone a lot for, uh, work. I don’t know if Sam told you, but I’m in the hospital. I’m fine, but I might be here for a while. I got to see Sam yesterday before he went home, but I’m, well I wanna make sure he’s okay.”
“Sam did mention that you were not home. I’m glad you are doing alright, though. Is your father out of town?”
“I don’t know, honestly. I’ve only really spoken with Sam.”
“Hmm,” Lisa says, “we were rather concerned yesterday when we couldn’t reach him.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was hoping to talk to you about. I’m usually there if Sam needs anything, and I worry about him now that I’m not home. I know you’re probably really busy and got hundreds of other kids to worry about, but I was hoping that you or Sammy’s teacher could check in on him. Maybe let me know if he’s not getting to school every day… if you’re allowed to do that.”
“Of course, Dean. And if you do hear from your father, will you please have him call us right away?”
“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Dean lies. He’s pretty sure he won’t be hearing from him any time soon, though even if he did, he wants all communication about Sam to be between Sam and himself.
“Great. Oh, and Dean, is there anything else we should know?”
“What do you mean?”
“Did Sam tell you anything about how he hurt his wrist?” Shit. Dean figures they’d probably be suspicious. Maybe it’s for the best, but he had promised Sam…
“He just told me he fell.”
“Hmm. That’s what he told us too,” she sighs.
“Do you think he’s hiding something?” Dean asks, trying his best to sound casual.
“I’m not trying to accuse anyone of anything, but we do have to consider all possibilities,” Lisa replies.
“I understand.” Before ending the call, Dean gives Lisa his cell number, the phone number they can call while he’s in the hospital, and asks her to put him down as an emergency contact for Sam. He sighs as he hands the phone back to Missouri, wondering if he should have told Lisa more.
“Missouri, can I ask you one more favor?” Dean says hopefully.
“Oh, child,” she sighs dramatically, “it’s not even breakfast time yet!”
“I know. I’ve already asked so much, but I’d like to call my boss. Let him know why I disappeared without notice.”
“Alright, one more call. Then you get yourself ready for breakfast.” She looks up the number, dials it, and again hands the phone over to Dean.
“Singer Salvage,” a gruff voice answers.
“Bobby,” Dean says, not even sure what he should say next.
“Dean!?” the voice says, surprised, “what the hell happened, boy? I’ve been worried sick about you!”
“What?” Dean asks, stunned, “you’ve been worried about me?”
“Of course I have, yeh idjit! I know it’s not like you to disappear without a word.” Suddenly Dean feels a catch in his throat. He hadn’t once thought that his boss would be worried about him. For some reason it had never occurred to him that Bobby might care about him.
“Now, where the heck are you? I was this close to filing a missing person’s report.” He really doesn’t sound angry like Dean had expected, only relieved.
“I,” Dean begins, fearing that he’s going to start to cry which is absolutely the last thing he wants to do, “I’m in the hospital.” Quickly, Dean adds, “I’m fine! I’m gonna be fine, just not sure how long they’re gonna keep me.”
“Jesus, Dean!” Bobby replies, “what happened? I’ve been calling your house and your cell phone, and no one’s picking up either line.”
“I’m sorry, Bobby. I’m sorry; I should have called you sooner, it’s just been so…” Dean trails off fighting the tears in his eyes.
“Boy, you tell me the truth now, are you really okay?” For a moment Dean thinks this must be what a dad is supposed to be, and that just starts the goddamn waterworks.
“Yes and no,” Dean sniffs, wiping his eyes hastily.
“Damnit, Dean, you stubborn S.O.B.,” Bobby says warmly, “what happened?”
“I, uh, I did something stupid. I - shit, sorry, this is just hard,” Dean struggles to say, “I… I took… um…”
“Come on, spit it out, boy.”
“I OD’ed on pills,” Dean says quickly and quietly. For a minute, Bobby sits in stunned silence on the other end of the line. “It was a mistake.”
“Are you telling me it was an accident, or are you saying you meant to, but it was a mistake?”
“Yeah. The second one,” Dean admits.
“Shit.” Dean can hear Bobby let out a long, deep breath. “Dean, if you were havin’ some sort of trouble, some kinda problems at home or whatever, I wish you’d told me.” This is not how Dean had expected this conversation to go at all.
“Sorry,” Dean says softly, “didn’t realize you cared.”
“‘Course I care,” Bobby says, exasperated, “thought you knew me better than that!”
“So, you’ll take me back when I get outta here, whenever that is?” Dean asks hopefully.
“You bet. You take care of yourself now, you hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” Dean replies with the ghost of a smile.
“And if you’re ever in trouble, if you ever need anything, Dean, you call me, okay?”
“Okay, I will,” Dean promises.
“Good. You got people who care about you, son. I wanna hear from you again soon, you got that?”
“Yeah, I got it, thanks, Bobby,” Dean says before handing the phone back to Missouri.
“All better? You think you can focus on yourself for a while now?” Missouri asks, eyeing Dean.
“Yeah,” Dean says, “thanks, Missouri, really.”
As Dean washes his face, looking up at himself in the mirror, he finds that for once, he doesn’t hate what he sees. His conversation with Bobby has planted a small seed of hope in his chest, hope that just maybe, everything will work itself out. At least he knows he’ll have one job waiting for him when he gets out. He doesn’t care about the gas station. That place sucks anyway, and he can always find another one, or maybe Bobby could find more work for him. Either way, when he runs into Cas in the hallway on the way to breakfast, he is able to greet him with a smile. It’s times like these that let Dean tell himself that maybe the demons are only bad dreams after all.
“Hey, Cas!” Dean says as Castiel emerges from his room, yawning. He doesn’t look like he slept at all that night.
“Oh, uh, hi, Dean,” Cas replies with a tired smile. “You look, uh, better…” he adds before he can think, and his cheeks burn bright red.
“Heh, thanks. Sorry I can’t say the same about you,” Dean teases, “you get any sleep last night?”
“Not really. Do I really look that bad?”
“No, man, I’m just kidding around. You do look tired though.”
“I’ll live,” Cas shrugs. “Heading to breakfast?”
“Yep,” Cas smiles. It’s a good look on him, Dean thinks.
Trays in hand, the two sit where they had the day before.
“You do any more drawing yesterday?” Dean asks as he shovels food into his mouth. It’s the first time he’s had any appetite since this whole thing began.
“Yeah, a little,” Castiel answers, pushing his food around with his fork more than actually eating it.
“Cool. Wanna see it sometime,” Dean says.
“Yeah! That okay?”
“Of course. I’ve just… no one’s ever cared about it before. Well, except Missouri, and Gabe, before he moved out.”
“Well, I think it’s cool,” Dean replies, “and I could use more distraction in this place.” Dean likes the way this makes Cas smile again. “Hey, what all do you have on your iPod?” Dean asks, noticing it on the table next to Castiel’s tray.
“Oh, mostly just The Beatles,” Castiel says, blushing again, “and a little Chuck Berry.”
“Cool. No modern pop?”
“Nah, I guess I like ‘old people’ music,” Cas admits.
“Nothin’ wrong with that! My mom liked The Beatles. Hey, Jude always reminds me of her. Anyway, I’m pretty sure they quit making good music after ‘79,” Dean jokes and Castiel laughs. “You listen to any Zeppelin?”
“Not really,” Cas says.
“What about Black Sabbath? Or AC/DC?”
“No,” Cas sighs, “my parents barely let The Beatles into the house. You know, the ‘evils of rock and roll,’ blah, blah, blah…” Castiel rolls his eyes, and Dean laughs.
“Well, I would just love to corrupt your virgin ears,” Dean jokes, winking suggestively.
“And I would just love to corrupt your virgin… everything else,” adds a girl with curly brown hair and a mischievous grin, ruffling Castiel’s hair with her fingers. “Shove over, angel,” she says next, bumping Cas with her hip until he scoots over so she can sit next to him.
“Yes, please sit down,” Cas says sarcastically through gritted teeth, “we weren’t in the middle of a conversation or anything.”
“Oh, Cassie, always so chipper!” she says before training her eyes on Dean. “Well, hello there,” she says, raking her eyes up and down his body. “Oh, you got a little something right… there,” she says, leaning forward and brushing her thumb slowly across Dean’s lower lip. If he weren’t so surprised, he may have been a little turned on. “I’m Meg, by the way,” she adds, bringing the same thumb to her own lips. She looks like a lioness staring down her prey.
“Oh. My. God,” Castiel groans. “You are … I just… I have no words.”
“Aww, don’t be jealous, baby,” she pouts at Cas, “the offer still stands, you know…” She runs the back of her hand down the side of his cheek.
“Meg!” Castiel warns, glaring at her. Dean is still frozen in place, his mouth agape.
“Oh,” she says, turning back to Dean as if he had asked her what “the offer” was. “I offered to take care of that pesky virginity of his,” she says nodding at Cas. “I think I could turn him if he’d give me a go at it,” she says with a wolfish grin. Castiel looks like he wants to crawl under the table.
“Might be worth a shot,” Dean shrugs, jokingly to Cas.
“Yeah, a shot of penicillin, maybe,” Castiel grumbles, still glaring.
“Ooh, burn… no pun intended,” Meg laughs before turning back to Dean. “I may be a nymphomaniac, but I’m clean, baby,” she purrs, and Dean jumps when he suddenly feels her foot running up his leg.
“Ugh, Meg, cut it out! I thought you said you were a pyromaniac, anyway,” Castiel says accusingly.
“The two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know,” she says casually.
“Uh, I’m Dean,” Dean says finally.
“I know,” Meg replies flippantly. “Are you single?”
“What?” he says dumbly.
“Do you have a girlfriend? Or maybe you’re into guys? Huh?” she asks, rolling her eyes in Castiel’s direction.
“You don’t have to answer that!” Castiel interjects as if he is Dean’s defense lawyer. “Please ignore her.” Dean laughs. He feels a little bad for Cas, but the whole thing is pretty funny, really.
“It’s alright, Cas,” Dean says, “you know I’m an open book… except when I’m not. And right now I’m in the mood to keep you guessing,” he adds, winking at Meg.
“Well, when you make up your mind, Dean,” she says, flashing her best bedroom eyes at him, “come and find me.”
“I would advise against that,” Castiel grumbles, “she will figure out where you live, and she will burn your house down.” Dean snorts a laugh at this.
“Not fair, Clarence! I’ve never burnt a house down; the firefighters have always gotten there in time.”
“Well, just give me notice so I can get Sammy, my record collection, and Baby out of there, and make sure my dad is drunk and preferably asleep, and then you can have at it,” Dean smirks.
“Baby?” Castiel asks, seeming mildly alarmed.
“My one true love,” Dean says dreamily, and the color drains from Cas’s face. Meg, on the other hand, looks disgusted. “She’s gorgeous! Black and chrome. Fixed her up myself. ‘67 Chevy Impala.”
“Oh!” Castiel laughs, and Dean can’t help but think he looks relieved.
“Praise Satan!” Meg exclaims, “I don’t do guys with kids!” She makes a gagging sound. “You had me worried for a sec.” Castiel rolls his eyes. “Your ‘baby’ got a big backseat?” Meg asks next, biting her lip.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” Castiel curses. Dean just laughs, thoroughly amused.
“For fuck’s sake, indeed,” Meg replies with a smirk before adding, “oh, lighten up, Castiel, it’s not like you weren’t wondering the same thing.” At this, Dean turns to Cas, who quickly averts his gaze, blushing furiously. Dean wonders if it’s true. Is Castiel interested in him like that?
“Well?” Meg prompts again.
“Well, actually, yeah,” Dean answers, “I’ve slept in her a number of times.”
“Aww, all by yourself?” Meg asks with mock pity. “Really though, how many people have you fucked in there?”
“Meg!” Castiel gasps at the same time Dean chokes on the water he was trying to drink.
“What, Castiel?” Meg asks irritably, “someone had to ask, and hell knows you’re too shy to ever do it. You’ll just sit here like a lovesick puppy dog, like you always do. Really, I’m doing you a favor.” Meg ruffles his hair as Castiel looks like he’s trying his best to teleport elsewhere, his expression a mix of fury and humiliation.
“Well, this has been fun,” Cas says, standing quickly without looking at Dean, “but I better get going…”
“Cassie, come on!” Meg calls after him, but shrugs, turning back to Dean when Castiel doesn’t respond and disappears through the door.
“What didja do that to him for?” Dean asks, irritated.
“What?” Meg says nonchalantly. “He’s just too sensitive. He’d never tell you himself.”
“Tell me what?”
“Oh, don’t play dumb, baby,” Meg says, narrowing her eyes, “you know you’re hot, I can see it in that cocky-ass grin, and you know Cassie’s into dudes, so…” Dean frowns, wanting to argue that he isn’t cocky, that she doesn’t have the slightest clue what he thinks about himself, but he doesn’t.
“Cas only knows me a little better than you do, which is not at all.”
“Oh, please. You know he just lays there all night thinking about you, jerking himself off, wishing it was you.” This time Dean turns bright red, his heart racing a little. He doesn’t know why this is getting to him.
“He, uh, he told you that, did he?” Dean says, clearing his throat, trying to sound skeptical.
“Not exactly,” she says, rolling her eyes, “but I can tell.”
“Come on, Dean!” Meg groans, “it’s so boring in here. Play with me!”
“Oh, sweetheart,” Dean smirks, “you’re so covered in red flags, I could see you from a mile away.” And Dean stands, heading for the door and leaving Meg on her own.
“You know where to find me when you change your mind!” she calls after him shamelessly.
Dean walks down the hall towards Castiel’s room, hoping he’s in there. Hesitantly, he knocks on the door. Slowly, he hears Castiel groan and walk to the door, opening it a crack.
“Dean?” Cas says, sounding surprised.
“Yeah. Uh, can I come in?” Dean asks softly.
“Okay,” Castiel says, opening the door fully, but he won’t make eye contact. Dean steps into the room, glancing around. Cas has taped drawings up all over his walls. Most of the drawings seem to be of a young Paul McCartney, but there are others too. Dean steps closer to inspect an intricately drawn flower with a honey bee landing on it.
“Did you draw all these?” Dean asks, impressed.
“Yeah,” Cas affirms softly, staring down at his feet.
“Awesome. Dude, seriously, you could sell these,” Dean says, looking at another drawing of a bee.
“Thanks.” Cas is clearly uncomfortable, despite Dean’s attempts at lightening the mood.
“Uh, Cas? You okay? Did I say something wrong?” Dean asks, looking over at Castiel.
“No,” Cas says quietly, “to both questions.”
“You, uh, wanna, like, uh talk about it?” Dean struggles, nearly choking on the words. He’s so bad at this. But Castiel actually looks at him again with the hint of a smile.
“You still want to talk to me?” Cas asks shyly.
“Yeah,” Dean says, “listen, I uh, was having a hard time last night, and… it was nice having someone there. Was nice talking to you.” Castiel smiles broadly like he can’t help himself. “So, if I can ever return the favor…” Dean trails off.
“Thanks, Dean,” Cas replies. “It’s stupid, really, I was just… Meg always embarrasses me. I mean, we’re kind of friends I guess. She’s fun sometimes, but she’s pretty irritating too.” Dean laughs softly.
“Yeah, I can see that,” he grins. “She really will burn my house down, huh?” And then Castiel is laughing.
“Yeah, she’s a little crazy.”
“A little?” Dean asks skeptically. “Pretty sure she’s full on bat-shit crazy.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Castiel agrees.
“Anyway, as I was saying before Meg crashed our table, you should really give Zeppelin a listen, and Sabbath.” Cas smiles gratefully at him, looking relieved that Dean didn’t bring up any of what Meg had actually said. “And maybe you can share some music with me. I know the Beatles, of course, but not real well.”
“Yes, definitely, I would like that,” Castiel agrees. And with that, the two sit together on Castiel’s bed, chatting about music, Castiel’s art, and Dean’s Baby until it is time for their respective private sessions.
“See you at lunch?” Dean asks casually before he turns to leave for his meeting.
“Yeah, definitely,” Cas replies. The smile on Castiel’s face gives Dean a feeling of warmth all over. He can’t remember the last time he really felt like he’d “made a friend,” but it feels good to think maybe he has now.