Cross To Bear

16 Years-Old: How Was Your Summer?

Cas sat still during role call, he watched the other students tiredly respond, classmates he'd known for years and knew that some of them were glancing back at him. He told himself this year he wouldn't do anything silly, nerves were the last thing on his mind. He was anxious about school he just didn't want to be there. In fact he'd rather spend his time staring out the window. He looked outside with yearning, the sky was clear, the air was warm and he could've sworn he heard the birds singing like he were a Disney princess or something.

He smiled and slumped down on his hand as his elbow rested on the table, being royalty was probably pretty cool. Riches weren't Cas' thing but they probably didn't have school like this, maybe they had private teachers that really cared about their progress and well-being. That concept was a thing of fairy tales, or at least there was rarely a teacher in the system that did it.

"Castiel Winchester."

He startled a bit and looked up, "Yes?"

"Just role call, Cas."

He heard some light snickering and frowned, at least he hadn't made a total fool of himself but he still felt pretty dumb.

"It's okay," Dean leaned over to him reassuringly, "Just first day jitters."

"I know." He hissed back and slumped down on his desk with a heavy sigh. As if he didn't get them every year in a row, like he wouldn't know. But Cas took a deep breath and let it go; there was no need to get upset. The more upset he got the more likely he was to make a fool of himself.

Day one had gotten less easy over the years, he remembered when the entire day was basically relaxed and no work was really assigned. Deeper and deeper into high school he realized that things wouldn't always be that way. The time for relaxation had gone, people were thinking about college and university, which post secondary lifestyle they'd choose or if they would even go. Cas didn't want to. No matter how much society told him 'education is important' he knew that he could teach himself anything he needed to really know. It wasn't worth being stranded in a sea of unfriendly faces surrounded by concrete walls. Castiel swore to himself he'd never go to school again, not once he'd graduated, not ever.

Their first class was English Language Arts, which made the first quarter of the day relatively simple – sit with an assigned partner and discuss your summer. Once that had been done you fill out at least one sheet of lined paper about how your summer was similar to, or different from, your classmate.

"Bela and Dean."

Well he knew right off the hop he wouldn't get his brother, Castiel waited anxiously to know who he'd be put with. He was hoping strongly for Jet, Charlie, or Meg, however he couldn't be lucky, not on the first day back.

"Jet and Meg."

He clenched his hands tightly as the names trickled by, the few great choices left dwindled and disappeared slowly until finally;

"Castiel and Charlie."

'Oh thank god.' He exhaled lightly and glanced her way, she waved once at him though he figured she might've wanted to be with someone else. Regardless though he got to be her partner so they moved together as soon as they were given permission. "That was close," he laughed softly and she nodded.

"Yeah, you almost got stuck with Gordon." She nodded toward his usual bully. "What's his deal, anyway? I still don't get why he picks on you."

"Insecure, mostly." Castiel shrugged shallowly. "I don't blame him, I'm odd and making fun of me makes him feel better. I guess… I mean I'd like him to stop but at the end of the day only he can."

"You're too nice, Cas." Charlie shook her head and grabbed a pen, "I'd jab 'im in the throat or something." She thrust it forward like a knife, quick and simple movements in Cas' direction.

"I don't like to fight, it doesn't feel right." He moved her hand aside and settled with his notebook, "So I guess we get this thing started, huh?"

"Yeah! So what'd your summer look like? Go anywhere?" She smiled brightly at him as he gave his head a quick shake. "We did, went on a trip with my parents. It was only three weeks long but we got to sleep in a really nice hotel."

Cas squinted a little at her, "Where'd you go? I was wondering what happened to you in the last month."

"Nowhere! That's the best part, it was a road trip just around the states."

He tilted his head, "And in that time you only slept in one nice hotel?"

She nodded vigorously, "Near the 'Mall of America.' Not cheap but worth the few days' stop."

Cas huffed lightly as his lips pulled back in a smile, "Wow, so you guys slept in the car most of the time, huh?"

"Sure did. Was a bit rough sometimes but it was fun."

Cas couldn't imagine it, sleeping in general for him was off the table but if he could remember what it was like to fall asleep he was sure he wouldn't enjoy sleeping in a car. His family had three kids so those kinds of road trips were so far out of the question he'd never even thought to bring it up.

"So what'd you do?" She leaned closer to him and broke him out of his thoughts. He had to remind himself to keep his head in the game; it was the first day back, which meant he needed to be more in tune to his surroundings than anywhere else.

"Honestly I don't think I did anything interesting. I mean to sum it up I hung out with people I knew, I played games, I watched movies and a few TV series, and did chores as my parents required." Part of him wished there was more but really he enjoyed every moment of his summer break.

"Well elaborate on it, maybe." Charlie tapped her pen against the top of her desk, a little tick of hers he'd noticed when she got slightly less patient. "Who'd you hang out with?"

"Dean, Jet, Sam, my parents, Meg… You, before you went off on your trip." He grinned at her as she looked away sheepishly, "Could've let me know you were leaving, y'know."

"Sorry, guess I didn't want anyone to know where I was." She shrugged innocently, "Thought it'd be fun to vanish mysteriously."

"Glad you enjoyed it," he laughed lightly at her and she smacked his leg with her writing utensil.

"C'mon, more details. What'd you watch?"

Cas pursed his lips as he thought back, "A few things. During summer we're free to stay up as late as we want and do just about anything. Dean, Jet, Sam, and I all picked some movies at the beginning of the break and we swore we'd marathon them all throughout the two months. Dean chose the Die Hard movies, I picked The Lord of the Rings, Sam went with the Harry Potter series, and Jet had to go with Saw." He made a face and shuddered, "Not a fan of those last ones."

Charlie was grinning from ear to ear, "So you guys just blasted through some epics, huh? That's awesome, wish you would've invited me."

"Sorry, guess we didn't think of it." Cas smiled guiltily, "But it was fun, if that's any consolation."

"Not really, but I'm glad you guys got into some 'dorky' stuff." She air-quoted around 'dorky' knowing it meant more than the popular-kids' meaning. Cas loved the geeky stuff; the things people told him were meant for the nerds and all the culture that grew around it. He found that there was so much passion for stories and worlds and people that weren't necessarily real. It didn't matter because those people were real to someone, and to Cas that was beautiful.

A few more stories exchanged between the two got them going on their homework. If they could get it done in the allotted time given in class it was just work, nothing to do at home meant another free day.

"Sam got to go to summer camp," he added absently as they both scribbled down some things on their sheets of paper. "It was a quiet week but I think Dean and I played more two-player games in that week than we had in 12 solid years."

Charlie cracked up a bit, "I believe it, either that or you two just played more often because no one had to pass the controller."

"That too."

"What about Jet? Didn't he visit?"

"Yeah, I mean of course he did but that week he was barely over. His mom had just come home after having been hospitalized for a week before, so he was making up the time he didn't spend in the hospital." Cas didn't like to think about Jet's mom's condition, it was painful to know his friend lived with so much stress. Their family did all the could but in the end Jet still had to be the one to either sit in a hospital chair while his mom slept for 12 hours straight or not visit her. Rarely was she awake when bedridden under the doctor's watchful eye, usually too exhausted to move. It wasn't a good environment for Jet to be in, and it didn't happen that often, maybe two or three times in a year. Nikki understood, she preferred he not go and see her there if he didn't have to.

"Oh," Charlie looked at him sympathetically, "Sorry to hear that."

"It's okay, most people know Jet's situation and he doesn't seem to mind." Cas was speaking softly, his eyes shifting over to where Jet and Meg were both grinning and appearing to hold back laughter. He wondered what they were talking about but he was sure he already knew some of it. He had, after all, spent his summer with both of them at some point or another.


Mary rushed inside when she heard the phone ringing, her hands covered in dirt and knees with grass stains on them. "Hello?" She was a little out of breath but nothing too bad, still in okay shape she figured.

"Mary, it's me."

"John? What's wrong? Why're you calling from work?" She wiped her brow and leaned against the countertop.

"I was just thinking about Cas," John trailed off and she waited for him to continue, knowing he wanted her to ask 'what' and play a stupid game of 'what was John gonna say this time?' "You and I both know he wasn't ours to start with."

She furrowed her brow and straightened up, "He's our son now, John. What does it matter?"

"We should tell him, at least." John didn't sound like he was asking.

"I don't see what good it does, he'll just get confused." Mary stood firm, not sure what brought this on from her husband. "We should talk about it more before we even think about telling him."

"I just don't want him to figure it out from someone else, okay?"

"From who?" She asked already tired of the conversation, "Some winged-man you saw? John, we're the only ones that know okay? Cas will be fine while we discuss it more. Now I don't want to talk about it on the phone, the boys will be home in a few hours so we'll have to talk tonight."

John was quiet but a heavy sigh told her he understood. "Okay, we'll talk about it more later."


School came to a close sooner than Cas could have hoped. As it turned out he only made a fool of himself a few times, mostly due to babbling until he couldn't figure out what he meant anymore. Part of it was because he was constantly day dreaming but no one expected much less of him. He decidedly left any homework he might've had and walked to the bus stops. "Have a good evening!" he called to Jet and Meg as the other two wandered away, neither having to take the bus.

"Later, Cas." Jet shouted back and Meg just gave him a peace sign. Cas still couldn't get used to those two hanging out, they fought and argued a lot and more times than Cas could count he thought they hated each other. But at the end of the day they were kind of like bros, he found that to be pretty cool.

Dean clapped him on the shoulder and Cas flinched, "How ya doing?" Dean grinned wildly at him and he shoved his brother's hand away.

"Fine, but I hate that we don't have the last class together."

"Not my fault you didn't want to be in shops class." Dean's face scrunched up at him a little as he beat Cas to the bus by a few longer strides.

"I didn't want to risk losing a finger, thank you." Cas followed him to the back of the bus and dropped down heavily. "Besides, Home Ec. is good for me, teaches some normal life skills."

"Like cooking and sewing?" Dean raised an eyebrow at him and Cas shrugged. "C'mon, that stuff's boring. You should transfer to my class, Jet's there too it'll be fun."

He shook his head, "No, I think I'll stay where I'm at. Cooking is important and I like doing it, sewing is a dying art and someone has to know how to fix clothes in the family."

"Mom knows,"

"Barely, dad's better at it and even then he can't even sew on a button to save his life." Cas gave a short wave to Sam as their little brother hopped onto the bus.

"Whatever man, as long as you enjoy it." Dean leaned back, Cas could tell he was disappointed but it wasn't that bad.

"You'll survive without me." He laughed softly and nudged Dean's shoulder.

"I guess," Dean grinned again and hit back, "But I'll miss you." He was using a playful tone of voice that made Cas want to smack him – so he did.


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