Cross To Bear

13 Years-Old: Bullies and Dating

Castiel stared out the window during their mathematics class, his eyes drawn to the way the sunlight lingered on the single tree he could see. It was autumn; the leaves were golden and red, bathing the earth in their colours. Cas wondered how anyone could just sit inside like that, listening to some teacher drone on about numbers and calculations when part of him knew he wouldn't need it much past basic arithmetic. He wasn't going into any scientific field, he already knew that without having to fall asleep in those classes.

"Castiel, would you please pay attention?" Mr. Milton expressed tiredly - everything about him was tired. Cas wondered how he could possibly get some life into that man.

"Sorry sir," He smiled sheepishly and glanced back outside, "I was just wondering if maybe this would less boring if we went outside?" Some of the other students chuckled, maybe it was funny but he didn't quite understand why. He was serious.

"No, we are not having class outside, stop asking." Mr. Milton went back to the chalkboard.

"Pft, yeah right." Gordon snorted and looked at his buddies, "Weird-chester would probably just float off into space, fuckin' dreamer."

"Watch it," Jet hissed at the other boy, his nose wrinkled in a snarl, "Or we'll see who's seeing stars first."

"You're on, Tull." Kubrick challenged, Gordon rolled his eyes and lowered his head a bit. Jet wasn't someone he wanted to fight, because if you're fighting Jet you're fighting Dean and they weren't the types to go down easy.

Cas lowered his head and looked down at his papers, his hand fiddling with a pen mindlessly. He glanced back at the bright world outside his classroom one more time before Mr. Milton shut the blinds entirely. His heart sank and he stared forward at the chalkboard, the dull, dusty and faded grey that it was. He pushed air out past his lips, letting them do the thing Dean called 'raspberries.'

"Mr. Winchester that is enough!" Mr. Milton was apparently at his wits end already. Cas shrunk in his seat feeling a little scolded.

"I didn't do anything," Dean grinned at the teacher and Cas had to cover his mouth before he laughed.

"Not you, Dean."

"But I'm a Mr. Winchester too, how am I supposed to know?"

"Both of you see me after class." And that was the end of that discussion.

Cas leaned over to his brother, "You didn't have to do that." He whispered and Dean shrugged.

"It was pretty funny though, wasn't it?"

Cas smiled and shook his head, "You're awful, you know that?"

They suffered until the bell, watching as everyone else packed up. Jet nudged him lightly and Cas glanced over at his friend's retreating back. It was a thing Jet did as a goodbye and good luck. He wouldn't say it; he hated saying goodbye to people so he'd give them a light smack, a pat on the shoulder, a nudge. Something physical that said he was there, that got your attention and let you watch him leave. He didn't like to say it, so Cas never made him.

Dean and Castiel walked up to Mr. Milton's desk, each with an entirely different expression. Cas was a bit nervous, he didn't like to get into trouble but Dean just grinned like a Cheshire cat. Something he got from Jet, Cas knew. He'd never learned that trick, to smile and be smug when you got into petty trouble like that, Dean and Jet were always so good at it.

"Now boys I know that you don't like sitting in class, you in particular Castiel." He took on a special tone for them, apparently ignoring Dean's arrogance. "But I need you to pay attention, as much as you don't think it's important you will need math in the future."

"For what?" Cas blurted out, he never was that good at holding his tongue.

"For future endeavours, such as getting into a good college."

"But what if I don't want to take anything with math?" Cas objected and furrowed his brow; he always hated the rules of this place. The school system felt rotten, his freedom tied down and he was forced to sit in a boring dull classroom. That was bad enough but to tell him he needed something useless to him just to do more useless things, it was too much.

"You still need it to get into the establishment. No university will accept you if your scores are too low. I'm telling you this now because next year it will matter, everything you do from your freshman year and on it counts. Please start taking this seriously, you don't want to fall behind."

Castiel felt his core burning up but he said nothing and nodded. School infuriated him, it always had. Sure, he enjoyed some of the work and the projects. He loved making friends and meeting others that had new interests and different opinions but he missed his freedom. When would he ever get that back?

"And Dean," Mr. Milton looked at his smug brother exhaustedly, "enough with the smart mouth. You two are free to go."

"Thanks," Dean gave a wink and put an arm around Cas' shoulders, leading him to the door.

"This is bullshit," Cas muttered and stuck his lower lip a bit further out as he pouted.

"Sure is, but we'll be done in five years." Dean gave him a squeeze and dropped his arm seamlessly, "Try and look forward to it."

"Psh," Cas scoffed and looked down the hall. "Where'd Jet go?"

"From what happened earlier I think he's outside." Dean cracked with a smirk as he hurried out, Cas right on his heels.

The sight they met was Jet standing against Gordon; Kubrick had backed off with a bloody nose. "Boys, boys," Dean raised his hands as he approached, "Maybe we can come to an agreement here?"

Gordon looked at him nervously; sweat beaded on his forehead a little more when Jet cracked his neck once. "Oh yeah? What's that?"

Dean was still smiling as he walked right up to Gordon's side and didn't hesitate to give the other boy a solid punch to the gut. Gordon doubled forward onto Dean's right hand while his left gave him a good pat on the back. "You apologize to my brother and we leave you alone."

"Stop," Cas protested loudly, "Dean it isn't worth it."

Jet raised an eyebrow at him, "Cas if you keep letting them get away with that shit you'll never stop 'em."

"I don't need to be violent to stand up for myself, that's enough." Cas pulled Dean back, "They're only words, Dean. Are you punching him because you feel I need defending or are you punching because you just want to?"

Dean frowned and pulled away, "It's for you, Cas." He was angry, Cas didn't doubt Dean did it in his name but he didn't like it.

"I never asked you to hurt him."

"Guys like him don't learn any other way." Jet folded his arms over his chest and Cas shook his head.

"You're both guys 'like him' if that's the case." He scolded them and the more he did the more their faces twisted, they didn't like it. "I'm grateful that you'd defend me, I really am but this is too far. Please don't hurt anyone in my name." He looked at Gordon and Kubrick, "Get him to the nurse." Gordon didn't say another word and ushered his friend away.

Dean relaxed once they were gone; Cas could feel it and made his chest lift a little easier. Jet was stubborn but he didn't seem to want to push the subject. "Sorry, Cas." Dean conceded and ran his hand up through his hair once.

"Whatever, man." Jet consented as well, his anger subsiding slowly.

"Thanks guys." Cas smiled, "Now let's go eat, lunch time is the best thing we've got to look forward to."

Castiel packed up his things from his half locker at the end of the day, Dean had gone ahead because he was a bit late and Dean would keep the bus from leaving without him. Cas couldn't wait until the freshman year where he'd get a full locker, half lockers could barely hold any of the schoolwork let alone his backpack and jacket in the cooler months.

"Hey Cas," Meg dropped against the locker next to his, Dean's was right beside him and they'd both gotten top lockers.

"Uh, hi Meg." Castiel felt his stomach turn a little, she made him feel weird and never in a good way.

"So… I was wondering if you've got time this Friday?" She asked a little hopeful. He paused and looked at her curiously, was she playing coy or was she actually a bit shy to talk to him? Maybe he'd gotten the wrong impression of her.

"I do, why?"

"Wanna go see a movie with me?" Her face was always so calm and sarcastic, an odd combo but Cas didn't question it further than that. Her expression was always a bit worrisome for him but her tone was friendly enough.

Cas nodded, "Sure, I'll ask my mom and let you know tomorrow, 'kay?"

"Sounds good," Meg gave him a wink and walked off. Cas watched her go a few steps before Jet knocked him on the head.

"Ow! Hey, what's the big-"

"You're gonna miss your bus, genius." Jet grinned at him, reminding Cas that Jet didn't have to bus, he was close enough to the school to walk. Sure, his walk was about 20 minutes but it was still closer than his family.

"Right! Shit, sorry." Cas threw whatever into his bag, not sure if it really was that night's homework or not, and turned to run to the doors. Jet shoved him as he went, "Yeah, see ya!" He shouted as he bolted down the hall and outside. He saw the first bus taking off and waved frantically at his. It didn't move, he was sure Dean had the driver by the nose hairs at that point. He ran up to the door and clambered in, "I'm so sorry," he huffed as he stumbled to his usual seat. Dean was standing up, no doubt yelling moments previously.

"You almost missed it," Sam whispered to him as he passed.

"I know," Cas smiled at his little brother, ruffling the boy's hair as he passed. He dropped next to Dean and heaved a sigh of relief.


"I know, I'm sorry."

"Seriously, what the hell took you so long?" Dean stared at him incredulously and Cas wasn't sure he really had an answer to that.

"I was getting my homework and… well Meg stopped and talked to me. She wants to see me on Friday for a movie." He looked at Dean a little worriedly, "I said I'd ask mom."

"I thought she creeped you out?"

"She does, I just think maybe I've misjudged her, that's all." He looked out the window and dropped his gaze to the dirt that moved outside the bus. He touched his fingers to his lips, his stomach twisted again.

Dean shrugged, "Well maybe it'll be good for you, I mean you never seem interested in girls so it's a good first step."

"What if I…" Cas wanted to ask it. He wanted to ask 'what if I like someone already?' 'what if I like you?' 'what if I'd prefer my brother?' He pressed a hand to his abdomen, "What if I mess up?" He said instead.

"You're too nervous, loosen up and that stomach cramp will go away in no time." Dean shoved his shoulder and Cas could've sworn he would throw up. He didn't though. "It's your first date, what could you possibly mess up? Just don't puke on her and you're good."

"Easier said than done, I think." Cas groaned and tried to relax. They reached their home after several stops and about 30 minutes. It took so goddamn long, but it was away from school so Cas didn't mind watching the scenery every day.

They walked inside; Sam was challenging Dean to some kind of contest. Sam was in grade 4 already, that day during some free time his class was having a contest to see who had the best whistling skills, best belching, finger snapping, and a bunch of other useless traits. Cas didn't take part; he walked over to where Mary was busily putting a new hinge on a cupboard in the kitchen. She'd gotten a new set of screwdrivers for her birthday and she was anxious to use them, Cas wouldn't have been surprised if she'd broken the hinge on purpose.

"Hey mom?" He dropped his bag on the nearest chair and wandered over to where she was knelt on the floor.

"What's up, sweetheart?" Mary responded without looking, he didn't mind.

"What… uhm… can I go see a movie on Friday?"

Mary lifted her head and looked at him curiously, "Which movie did you want to see?"

"Well I don't know, but Meg asked if I could. I said I'd ask you."

Mary smiled and put her tools down, "Your first date, huh?" She got up and dusted off her jeans, "Alright sure, I'll give you money for it." She was pretty excited, probably thought it was cute. "My little boys are growing up so fast, already dating."

"Mom?" Cas fidgeted and looked away, her attention back on him. "What if… what if I don't like her?"

"Then you'll find out pretty quick," She sounded calm, like she'd dealt with that kind of thing before. "If you don't like someone you don't have to be around them, nothing's tying you down Cas."

He smiled, a bit relieved, he felt maybe he had the courage to ask her. "And what if I don't like girls?"

Mary looked surprised for a moment but she shrugged, "Then you won't go out with girls, no one says you have to date them either."

Cas went to hug her, his face pressed against her as he sighed heavily, trying to keep himself from crying. He couldn't tell her about the kiss with Dean, he knew that. But this was good enough. Hell it was better than good; he didn't have to worry about Friday. If he didn't like it he didn't have to stay. "Love you, mom."

"I love you too, sweetheart." Mary brushed a hand over his head soothingly.

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