Cross To Bear

13 Years-Old: You're Not the Mean One

Cas exhaled lightly as he adjusted his shirt for the thousandth time. He wasn't sure why but he now felt like it didn't fit right as opposed to that morning have fit perfectly. Maybe it was his skin, he felt weird in his own body, it wasn't pleasant. Friday had arrived, he was as nervous as he could get but that was okay, he'd get over it and the date would be fun. He was sure of it.

"She's probably gonna pick some girly movie," Dean pestered him playfully.

"No way, man!" Jet dropped down beside them, it was lunch and everyone had heard about it by then. Most people didn't date at 13 so it was quite the buzz. "Dude, it's Meg. She's gonna take him to like a monster truck rally or something. Don't worry Cas, it'll be either horror or action."

Cas frowned a bit, "But I don't really like those movies…" he muttered and Jet ran a hand down his face.

"Alright then never mind, you'll have an awful time."

"Not helping," Cas smirked at him.

"What movies do you like, then?" Jet asked, flustered.

"Animated movies and documentaries." Dean spoke for him and Cas nodded.

Jet was quiet while he watched Cas carefully, "You're weird, man." He finally said and had the other two laughing. "Seriously, who likes documentaries?"

"They're kinda cool," Cas shrugged and took a bite out of his ham sandwich. "You learn a lot of stuff."

"Don't talk with your mouth full," Jet pointed at him and Cas nearly choked on it.

"Don't point at people, it's rude." Dean countered with a grin, getting a light smack from Jet.

"Besides, you barely pay attention in school, I thought you hated learning." Jet muttered as he unpacked his lunch and glared with jealous envy at his PB&J sandwich, wishing it had some meat. Dean wordlessly traded them around, snatched it right out of Jet's hands and put his own made of ham there instead.

"I love to learn, I just like to do it my own way." Castiel said after swallowing, his hand brushing past his lips to push away the crumbs.

"According to my mom you're not gonna get very far with that." Jet mumbled around a mouthful of ham and cheese, Cas stared at him but thought better of mentioning it.

"Why does she say that?"

"Because the world doesn't revolve around you. Sooner you see that the sooner you'll make it."

Dean scrunched up his nose and looked at their friend as he had already devoured half his traded sandwich. "That doesn't make sense, I mean I get the world doesn't revolve around Cas but how does seeing that help him get anywhere? Or thinking it does revolve around him not get him somewhere? I think it's unrelated."

"No," Jet swallowed and shook his head at Dean, "because to get anything you need to get it from somewhere. And usually that somewhere is actually from someone. So your world suddenly revolves around them and not you, because you can't keep going without what they have."

"What do they have?" Cas tilted his head and Jet looked like he could've smacked him.

"That depends on the situation, say you're starving to death and Dean has the only food in a hundred miles. What do you do?"

"I ask him for it."

"Right, you need him. You need that other person for you to keep existing. Just like that, on a bigger scale, we need everyone else so we can keep going. The world can't ever revolve around one person." Jet explained like he'd been told it a hundred times. And maybe Nikki had said it to him over and over, probably because Jet was usually such a self-interested little brat. It needed to be said until he got it.

"What about those people who live on their own in the mountains and stuff?" Dean asked, Cas could tell he was just looking for something to throw a wrench in Jet's theory.

"Those people are sadder than they think." Jet replied simply and continued to eat.

Dean shrugged and did the same, not worrying about speaking with his mouth full either. "What gives you that impression?"

"Because if they think they're happy when they're that alone then there's nothing we can do for 'em."

"I disagree." Cas joined with a half-smile, "You can be alone and happy, Jet. Some people like the quiet, they like to think and they like to be by themselves. There's nothing wrong with that."

Dean paused while he chewed and after gulping his food down he licked his lips. His gaze fell to Cas questioningly, "Then what do they do when they want a hug? Or talk to someone?"

"I s'pose they don't need hugs. Lots of people out there, Dean. All kinds, I bet there are plenty who get by just fine without physical affection or being with someone. The earth comforts them, the sound of nature and just knowing that they're okay by themselves. I kinda get it, really." Cas nodded thoughtfully and went on to unwrap a granola bar.

"S'weird, that's what it is." Jet muttered to himself, more or less.

"Hey Weird-chester!" Gordon shouted across the lunchroom, immediately receiving the middle finger from both Dean and Jet simultaneously. "Heard you were going on a date with Meg Masters tonight." He walked up to their table, though he stayed on the opposite side from Jet and Dean, Kubrick was with him and a few other guys Cas didn't pay attention to. Kubrick's face was bandaged up and Cas noticed Gordon wasn't standing quite as straight as he normally did, his body hunched forward just slightly. Apparently what he had to say to him was more important than his safety because he dared approached the people who'd hurt him the last time.

All said and done though, Cas wondered briefly where the asshole had heard about his date. But he knew better, Meg was part of the popular girl crowd. Everyone knew.

"Better be nice to her."

"What're you, her attack dog?" Dean snarled at him, ironically, Cas thought.

Gordon didn't respond but his smirk said enough, he fancied himself her knight in shining armour. "Watch yourself, Winchester." He said as he departed, his posse following his lead quickly.

"Dick." Jet scoffed loud enough to be heard, he never was afraid to insult someone.

"It'll be fine, don't worry about that ass-clown." Dean reassured Cas who nodded in response.

"Remember, don't-"

"-hurt him, we know." Jet finished his sentence tiredly, waving his hand in Cas' direction. "I still stand by what I said last time, he'll never learn."

Cas smiled at him knowingly, "I can handle him, thank you."

Castiel exhaled deeply as the school's final bell rang, it was time for his date. He adjusted his shirt for the two thousandth time and told himself it'd be fun. Meg was just someone from his class, no more special than Jet, or Charlie, or Garth. He walked to the lockers and waved at Dean sheepishly, "I'll see you at home, I guess."

"Yeah man, break a leg." Dean clapped him on the back and Cas tensed against it. Part of him wanted to take the advice literally as a way to get out of it but he knew better. Dean didn't feel for him the same way he'd been struggling with feelings for Dean, his brother had his head on straight. Cas supposed it was better that at least one of them did.

He walked to the front doors and waited there, his hands sweatily clutching to his bag like a lifeline. He shifted his weight back and forth impatiently, repeating the same things to himself. Fun. He'd have fun and enjoy her company, Meg was pretty cool.

"Hey Cas," She called down the hall as she ran up to him, her mouth pulled in a sort of grin. "So wanna get some food first or something else?"

"Uh…" he shrugged dumbly and scratched the back of his head, "Food sounds good, I could eat." He was lying again, his stomach was in knots and it was only worse with her next to him. Cas was frustrated with himself, the other night he'd decided that if he didn't like it he wouldn't have to stick around and that had dissipated his nerves. But now he was anxious, his skin felt clammy and he was sure he'd developed an itchy rash all over his belly.

"You seem nervous, Cas." Meg leaned around to look at his face a bit better; he'd dropped his gaze down so his head had hung with it.

"No… well maybe… I don't know." Cas responded, and he really didn't know. He wasn't sure if he was nervous because it was his first date or if he was nervous about what Gordon said. Or maybe he just didn't want to be there but he didn't want to hurt her feelings and run off.

Meg laughed at him, nothing mean about it though it was definitely at him. "Just come on, it'll fun." She took his hand and led him outside, his feet stumbling along as he went.

"You're not nervous?" He asked as he managed to get his steps in line with hers.

"Maybe, maybe not. You're not that intimidating and you're not mean so what do I have to lose?" She sounded so calm; he envied that.

He nodded quietly until she added; "But you do."


"You're the one with something to be nervous about." She grinned at him playfully, "I'm considered the mean on in my group."

"Oh, well I disagree." Cas countered casually, finding it a bit easier the more time went by. It had been maybe two minutes but that was enough to relax him. She didn't somehow manage to devour his face in that time so clearly it wasn't something to be worried over.

"You do?" Meg raised an eyebrow at him, a similar gesture he'd seen on Jet's face many times. Maybe it was the way he talked that got him that expression so often?

"You're not the mean one in your group, you're sarcastic. Bela's mean, even though she acts like the sweet one. Actually I prefer it when people are straightforward with me." He spoke matter-of-factly, a sagely nod following his words.

"You think my friend's mean?" Meg chose to focus on the one fact he'd uttered.

Cas faltered and shrugged again, "Uh… sort of." He cringed at his own words, he had no need to say this but honesty was something he strived for. "It's not that she is mean, but it's not that she isn't either. She says things and means another, intentionally not telling you the truth, and a lot of the time she just wants to see you squirm. I think that's mean. You're different, you tell someone to their face what you think." He's mouth pulled up in a smirk remembering the last instance he'd seen it, "For example, if your group thought someone was wearing something awful Bela would tell them it was cute and lie. You'd straight up call it ugly. It can be mean to be so blunt but I think it's worse to pretend and have worse intentions."

Meg shook her head at him, "You think too much, Cas."

"Mom says that can be a good thing."

"And you bring up your mom on a date." She pointed out and had his face flushing in embarrassment.

"Well… she does say that." He smiled at her, "But I meant it, you aren't mean. You should be nicer to yourself."

Meg punched his arm, "Shut up and go on this damn date with me already."

Cas rubbed his arm and nodded, "I know the burger place nearby is pretty good, we could go there."

"Sure," she responded easily and he felt the urge to look at her. She was smiling; her head angled away from his, long hair shielding it a little. He reached across mentally, a moment in time too short to measure. He touched her; he wanted to know more than he did. She was happy; on the surface of her mind she was at peace and even seemed to like him. It was refreshing; like she rarely got a moment with another person resembling the brief conversation they'd just shared. Just as self-conscious as he was, or Dean, or Jet had ever been despite the outward shell. Cas smiled to himself and gently soothed it, or at least he tried. He couldn't reach far enough to do anything other than view it; there was something different in her. He couldn't see it more than what she wanted him to see.

Cas furrowed his brow and looked at her a little more inquisitively, her gaze catching his in a spark. It made him uneasy again. Why couldn't he see her? What was in his way?

"You okay, Cas?" She asked in a tone that made his stomach twist a little.

"Yes," he said quickly, "I just… I hope I didn't offend you."

"Not at all," her smile was charming, but in the same way he knew Jet's could be. Manipulative underneath the kindness, she didn't mean what her expression said.

He followed her inside the restaurant, again feeling anxious but this time he couldn't find the source of why.

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