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Cross To Bear

By Zafona

Adventure / Drama

13 Years-Old: Natural Insomnia

"So what happened?" Dean asked as the two of them lay on their beds, still sharing the same room. Cas didn't complain about that, he never planned to and it seemed like Dean refused to do the same. Maybe they'd share a room until one of them moved out? It was a pleasant thought; he'd keep that one.

"We got food and went to see a movie." Cas replied casually and quietly repressed the subtle thoughts of his brother.

"What food, what movie, c'mon what happened? Did you guys… you know…"

"Kiss?" Cas turned his head to look at Dean who seemed almost bashful about it. He squashed the urge to look deeper into his brother and shrugged, "No, we didn't. We're just gonna be friends but hanging out was fun. She's actually really cool."

Dean blinked at him and sat up like he'd denied the existence of apple pie, "Just friends? Really? But there's a girl who wants to date you. Why would you want to just be friends?"

"I'm not interested in dating," it was true to an extent. He wanted to date, he wanted to hold and make out with someone but it wasn't Meg. He shook his head, if not Meg then who? Dean? No. It wasn't anyone; in fact he decided to not think about it anymore. The feelings for his brother would go away if ignored, he was sure of it.

Dean furrowed his brow but didn't respond, Cas watched his face shift from confused to what looked like relief. Couldn't be though, right? "Are you happy about that?" He asked and Dean seemed to be more startled than anything else.

"Uh… honestly yeah." Dean was such a bad liar, Cas was glad he didn't try this time.

"How come?"

"Because I don't want to… I guess, lose you? I don't know, it's just you'd be hanging out with her instead and I'd miss you."

Castiel smiled and sat up in his bed, "Thanks, Dean." He whispered and crossed the room to give him a hug. Cas ignored the spark of heat in his body where he touched Dean, it was nothing and it'd stay that way. "You won't lose me, I'm not going anywhere."

Dean melted into the hug and nodded, nothing more need be said between them that night. They tucked themselves into their beds before John and Mary could pop by and try to coax them in. Cas snuggled up to his pillow and let himself drift; he could hear the soft sound of Dean breathing and that was enough to relax him.

And just as easily he heard nothing. The world slipped past and away from him, sleep curled around him like a cat looking for warmth and he dreamt. Nothing special or memorable but it was there, a vivid image flashing by every now and then that quickly slipped from his memory. It was sweet, beautiful and nothing hurt.

Then he saw a man in black. Castiel blinked at the figure, at first he didn't know it or recognize anything but the blur from his dreams faded quickly. It was an older man with a cane in his hand and pale, pale skin. "Hello, Castiel." He had a hint of an accent that Cas didn't know.

"I know you." He whispered and thought he should feel a chill or a sense of terror. Neither came to him, everything was calm and so still.

"Do you?"

"You're Death."

He nodded, a slow and deliberate motion that hid nothing. He had no reason to hide anything.

"What are you doing here?" It seemed like such a simple question but Cas still felt like he'd had no right to ask it. "It's been four years since then."

"Indeed it has," Death raised a hand and gestured for Castiel to come closer.

Cas felt his legs move though they were as heavy as lead. "You haven't come back for him, have you?" The worry was mounting in his mind; he didn't care as much if Death came for him, he hadn't thought about that. But if he were there for Dean…

"I didn't take him then, I won't take him now." Such a cold voice, Cas started to feel the shiver he'd expected from the start. "I've come to see your progress."

Castiel stopped in front of him and Death looked him over, just one look and that was it. "Progress in what?" He squinted at the much taller man who rested on his cane very gently.

"You're not there yet." He sighed heavily and turned away, muttering something under his breath. Cas stared at the man's retreating back.

"Not where!? What are you talking about?" He shouted but it only echoed around him. He had only questions in his head that rampaged hard enough to wake him; he stared up at the ceiling above like some kind of answer would descend from it. Was that just a dream? Majority of his being wanted to believe that yes, it was just his imagination. He groaned lightly and rolled over to look at the alarm clock, it must've been morning already – he was so well rested after all. But the time read four in the morning. Castiel blinked at it and grumbled a little louder to himself.

The rest of his night was spent trying to fall asleep again, but he couldn't. He kept thinking about Death, the horseman he thought might be speaking with him. Was that possibly true? No, it had to be a dream. The Grim Reaper had better things to do than follow a barely-teenager around and 'check on his progress.' "My ego's getting out of hand." He muttered softly.

Cas winced when the alarm clock sounded and he sat up to stare at it, he thought for sure he'd feel exhausted from a restless night but that wasn't the case. He'd never been so awake; he figured he'd go to bed early that night to make up for it.

"C'mon Dean, it's Saturday." Cas got up and shoved his brother's shoulder.

"Then lemme sleep…" Dean growled into his pillows.

Cas shrugged and went off to do his morning routine. He could smell pancakes downstairs and wondered why there'd be cooking that early in the morning if no one else were awake. With teeth brushed he hopped down the stairs in his pajamas, "Mom?" He called ahead as he walked into the kitchen area. She was sitting at the dining room table adjacent to the kitchen – it was an open space between the two.

"Good morning, Cas." Mary smiled at him and he returned it casually.

"Morning mom, are you-" he stopped when he spotted Jet by the stove, "Jet?"

"Hey," the other boy responded without looking over his shoulder, his tone of voice had enough in it to tell Cas everything. Something was up with his mom again, judging by the sense he was getting off Jet though it wasn't too serious this time.

"I picked him up this morning," Mary sounded fairly pleasant, though of course she would be regardless. For her it was no big deal to get up that early on a Saturday morning, Cas wondered how he missed the phone call and her leaving in the first place.

"Mom's gonna be in the hospital for a bit," Jet spoke up a little softly but he never talked about his mom in many other ways than that. "So hope you don't mind if I'm here for a while."

"Not at all," Cas glanced at the frying pan where pancakes were sizzling quietly, "But making us breakfast?" he scoffed lightly and went to take over but Jet pushed him back.

"Just let me, okay? I want to pay your mom back for coming to get me."

Cas stepped away and looked at Mary who shrugged, evidently Jet was persuasive or at least determined. "Alright, sorry." He sat down next to his mom and watched Jet easily flip the fluffy dough through the air. "I had no idea you could make pancakes like that."

Jet glanced at him with the slightest tug at his lips but didn't respond, just a simple way of saying 'I've had a lot of practice.' But of course Jet wasn't one to let that linger long, "So why're you up so early?"

"Just am, couldn't sleep in." Cas watched as Jet slipped a few pancakes onto a plate and serve it to Mary before going back to the batter.

"Thank you, sweetheart." Mary gracious accepted it and Jet gave her a nod in recognition before looking to Cas again.

"Want one?"

"Sure, thanks."

He added a small portion of oil to the pan to grease it and scooped the white goop to fry it up, "And your date? How was Meg?"

Cas pursed his lips momentarily and shrugged with a soft laugh, "It was pretty good, I mean there were some rocky parts but she's actually really cool once you get her away from the others."

"Who, her friends?" Mary looked at him and he nodded.

"Yeah, she's nicer when it's just the two of us. She isn't mean but she's different with other people."

Jet snorted back a laugh as he flipped Cas' breakfast, "Same can be said for anyone, I think. I mean really, am I gonna act the same to Dean as I do to Sam?"

Cas paused and nodded slowly, "You do have a good point…"

"Not to mention she's one of the popular girls, there's a certain appearance to go with that. Plus if you're friends with Bela then you definitely have to watch your back, one mix up and it's social suicide. I'm surprised that liking you was so okay with the 'Queen B.'"

"How so?" Cas tilted his head with a smile pulling at his lips; Mary was quietly enjoying the conversation they shared with some awe. She hadn't really experienced their more 'philosophical' conversations, it was quite a treat for her to witness. Cas liked the way her mind worked around it, at first she was a little surprised but he sensed the notion of pride in her. Proud her son could be so open-minded without a prejudice against Meg or her friends past the obvious 'popular' title. "Do you think I'm not good enough?"

"Never said that," Jet pointed at him with the spatula, a quick warning gesture and expression to say 'don't put words in my mouth.' "What I'm saying is that Bela thinks you're weird, so why would she be so okay with one of her girls dating you?"

"Do you think I'm weird?" Cas furrowed his brow at that, not sure he liked the idea.

His friend shrugged and looked back to where he'd removed Cas' food from the pan, "Yeah but I like you that way." He brought the plate to the table and put it down in front of him, that same grin on Jet's face that reminded Cas how much he loved to see it.

Cas smiled shyly but stood up to hug Jet all the same, "Thank you," he confided faintly, Jet's arms wrapped around him for a quick squeeze before letting go.

"You're welcome, now eat."

He sat back down and poured syrup all over the little sponge cakes, smiling wide and unable to push it down. "That was so cute," Mary expressed with a sigh. Cas had to admire how she could sit and watch them like that, let them have that moment and discussion without the adult input.

"What was cute?" John yawned as he walked into the room, his fuzzy housecoat was on which meant it was getting a little cold in the house. He showed no surprise in seeing Jet, maybe he'd heard the phone call Mary picked up or maybe he didn't care what the reason was. Cas wasn't sure.

"These two," Mary explained with a quick motion to indicate them, "so grown up for their age."

"Not really," Cas mumbled through his pancakes.

Jet lit up a little, "Did you want breakfast, John? I can make you something."

"I got it," John walked over and took over the kitchen utensils, not that Jet wanted to hand them over. "You go ahead and sit down."

"I can make it, though." Almost pouting, that was the first time in a while Cas saw it and he just about laughed.

"Sit down, kiddo." John urged him gently though still firm, "I can make my own."

"But I owe you for-"

"You don't owe me anything," John put a hand on his shoulder, "Don't ever think you do, okay?"

Jet nodded after a brief pause and went to sit next to Cas, "But if I find out that I make pancakes better than you I'll be disappointed."

"Not gonna happen, I'm the Pancake King."

Jet and Cas shared a look before both laughed, "Whatever you say, Pancake King."

John looked at them, now fully aware of what he'd just done to himself but he rolled with it. "Don't you forget it." He glanced toward the stairs and then looked back to what he was doing, "The other two coming down?"

"Cas and I can wake 'em up." Jet rose to his feet again and tapped Castiel's shoulder to coax him along. The two trotted up and while Cas paused to decide who he'd rather wake, Jet automatically went to get Dean. It made sense; maybe it'd be a bit weird for the non-family member to wake the baby of the household.

Castiel went to his little brother's room and opened the door to find him playing games. Sam had an old Gameboy Color, he played it on and off while more recently it had been off. Apparently 'on' season had started up again, because Cas heard the soft blips of what he could only assume was Pokémon Red.

"Hey Cas," Sam glanced up briefly but went back to what he was doing.

"How long have you been up?" Cas went and sat on the edge of the bed, leaning over to see where Sam was at. He'd barely made it to Pewter City, couldn't have been playing for very long.

"Just a little bit, I had a dream I had a charamander so when I woke up this just seemed like the next step."

"Huh… wanna come to breakfast?" Cas figured it'd be easy but Sam shook his head. "Why not?"

"I'm playing, not hungry."

Cas' expression fell flat, "You're as obsessive as your brother…" he grumbled under his breath before trying to pick Sammy up, "C'mon, you're going to go eat!"

"No! Cas quit it!" Sam struggled against him briefly but Cas was far stronger.

"You need to eat breakfast and that's final."

Sam slumped in his arms like dead weight and sighed heavily, "Fine... if I have to."

"Thank you." Cas let him go. He assumed nothing as he followed Sam out the door but a loud thud from his bedroom and a sharp yell had his imagination going crazy.

"What happened?" He shouted and ran over, knowing full well the outcry came from Dean.

Jet was lying on the floor laughing, one hand covering his face while the other rested on his belly. Dean was sitting upright with eyes as wide as saucers. His hair was messy and sticking straight up on one side, and there was a pair of head phones haphazardly left on the bed. He could hear Sir Mix-A-Lot playing from them, the volume cranked.

"Are you okay?" Cas tried not to laugh at Dean's terrified expression.

Dean blinked in horrified shock as he slowly lifted his gaze to Cas' face, "I like big butts and I cannot lie." His expression was as serious as he could've made it when he spoke and maybe that's what broke Cas down into a fit of laughter. Or maybe it was the way Dean tackled Jet who was trying to sit up from the floor, the other boy nearly shrieking from the sudden weight on him. Either way, Castiel fell against wall barely able to breathe.


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19. 13 Years-Old: Natural Insomnia
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