Cross To Bear

16 Years-Old: Saviours On The Streets

"How was school, boys?" Mary shouted at them as the door closed behind, no need for her to get up.

"It was good," Sam called back as he kicked off his shoes and ran into the sitting room where she was lounging with a book. He immediately took to setting up their PS3; he'd gotten into Assassin's Creed recently and couldn't wait to pick it up again.

Cas wandered into the living room and flopped down next to his mom, glancing at the book in her hands, "Reading 'The Long Walk' again, huh?" He smirked and she nodded her head without looking his way.

"Stephen King's a genius, you should read it."

"I did already." He reminded her and she turned her head this time, her expression one of surprise.

"Oh," she muttered simply and looked back down. He didn't think anything was up before but he felt it now, she was thinking about something, something big. He tried to tell himself not to pry, not to push at her thoughts and check in on what was happening. It worked, for the most part. He couldn't stop himself from sensing her emotions, though. His mom felt burdened, contemplative but heavy. Something was complicated; something came up that day she hadn't thought about in a long time.

Cas wanted to ask. He bit his tongue and looked down at feet, something he'd been doing a lot lately and was trying to stop. "Mom?" He spoke softly and he felt her hesitate, whatever it was it had something to do with him. "Why're you so stressed?"

"Your father and I had an argument," She replied not so easily but it came out all the same. Mary placed her bookmark and lowered the novel into her lap, "we have to discuss a few things tonight, that's all."

Sam looked up with some horror, "Are you and dad fighting?"

"No, sweetie." Mary reassured him immediately, "We just had a disagreement, it's nothing serious."

"Then why are you acting so weird?" Cas tilted his head.

"Don't push," Dean warned calmly, "if mom doesn't want to say then leave it."

Cas flinched and pulled back, "Sorry… I didn't mean to." He could see Dean's logic, their mom would tell them if she were ready to, or if they needed to know. Whatever was going on between his parents he just had to hope it'd work out. Part of him, a quiet little piece, didn't believe her though. A fight with John wouldn't have brought this on, why would she be so odd around him if it was about his dad? But he squashed the naysayer in his mind and moved on with something else.

"School went well, considering." He decided to answer her previous question; his change of subject lifted her anxiety considerably. Cas felt a little bad for pushing, he reached out to soothe her nerves as an apology. It worked, more or less. Whatever caused her stress wasn't gone but she seemed to feel better.

"Any trouble with first day jitters?" She asked hopefully, thinking maybe he'd say no and it was a great day after all.

"Of course," he sighed and tried to let her down easy. "But it wasn't all bad. Jet performed this morning, had a crowd gathered to watch him outside the front doors."

"Did he make a fool of himself?" Mary laughed softly; she'd seen the dances Jet and Dean had practiced during the summer at least once.

"No, actually he was really good." Cas smiled and saw Sam out of the corner of his eye, nodding emphatically to agree.

"Well I'll have to ask him to show me." She was still laughing to herself but Cas didn't sense anything hurtful from it.

Castiel waited until he could catch Mary alone, just the two of them when she went to grab snacks, leaving Dean to laugh at Sam's failed attempts to be smooth with his gaming. Cas bit his lower lip lightly as he worked through the different phrases or words he'd use. In the end he decided that beating around the bush would get him nowhere.

"Mom… are you and dad going to fight a lot?" He asked naïvely, knowing how it sounded. "I mean, about me?"

His mom paused and looked at him, surprise in her features but mostly uncertainty. She never intended for him to figure that, never thought he might. "No," she replied honestly, he felt nothing hidden there despite her initial reaction to tell him he was wrong entirely. Mary looked at him with a sad kind of smile, "And really we weren't fighting, I didn't want you to think too much into this so that's what I said."

"Into what? I know it's about me, what's going on?" Cas couldn't understand why lying to him was better than explaining whatever this thing was. He knew she didn't want him to know something, that his parents were talking about him for some reason but he just didn't get it.

"Nothing sweetheart, we'll figure out if anything's happening once I talk to your father." She reassured him and despite his confusion he believed her. His mom knew best, he'd trust his parents like he always did to make these kinds of choices for him.

"Okay," he cooperated and went back to the living room to sit was Sam and Dean.

John came home shortly after but Mary made no moves to speak to him, Cas figured this conversation would occur after everyone else was in bed. He relaxed knowing he wouldn't have an answer until the next day at the earliest; there was no need to panic about it.

Castiel sat in the living room as he watched everyone else disappear into the house, to get ready for bed and sleep off the last of the day. Part of him missed the ritual of brushing his teeth with his brothers, standing and staring at themselves in the mirror as their mouths were lathered with the minty paste. He smiled to himself and looked down at what he was setting up, his project of papier-mâché and all the mess that went with. He wasn't sure if he wanted to do it right then. He'd worked on it for days, weeks, he wasn't sure. But he was getting bored with it, a project made to keep him busy, entertained and out of trouble. Maybe he'd do nothing this time.

He left it where it stood and went upstairs to where he and Dean shared a room. Cas' gaze drifted to the bed he'd left made and unused, just sitting there and practically leaving the space just for Dean. He knew it was still his too, he knew that his belongings were still there but it felt weird, like Dean's bedroom was his storage space.

"What's up?" Dean asked as he passed, heading to his dresser.

"Nothing," Cas muttered and glanced up to watch Dean pull his shirt off over his head and toss it to the floor. He felt a shiver down his spine and tried to push it out of his mind entirely, it didn't work but he managed to ignore it. "I guess I just miss when things were normal… when I was…"

Dean looked at him but he had to look away, down at the floor, his own feet, anything. He was still so confused but how much of that could he share? His family was already on the edge with him, how often he worried them with the strangest things was uncountable. Cas didn't want to bring his self doubt into the mix, the feelings of being so weird and different. He was loved, it didn't matter how different he was, he had a family that cared for him. His brothers would always be his brothers and his mom and dad would get him through it. He just needed to tell himself this more and more, soon enough he'd feel the weight lift. He hoped so, at least.

"I get it," Dean said after a moment of silence, Cas sat down on his old bed and hunched forward with his elbows on his knees. Dean walked over to him and dropped on the bed beside him, Cas glanced over at the soft expression his brother held and did his best to match the smile there.

"What do you get?"

"You feel like too much has changed, right? Like the world's going too fast or maybe you are?"

Cas nodded and looked back down at his feet. "I don't know what's happening to me…"

"You never know what's happening to you, Cas." Dean pointed out and he only nodded again, what else could he do but agree? It was true, he never knew what was up with him.

"You know… mom and dad weren't really fighting, I talked to her."

Dean stopped and looked at him thoughtfully, "Then why would she say that?"

"I don't really know," he watched his toes without lifting his head, not sure if he should look his brother's way or not. "But I know that whatever's going on is about me."

"How do you know?"

"How do I ever know?" Cas snapped and immediately regretted it, "Sorry… I just… I don't understand why."

Dean was quiet but he leaned over and wrapped his arms around Cas' shoulders, "I didn't mean to piss you off, sorry."

"It's okay." Cas closed his eyes and rested against Dean, he felt so at home there. It was peaceful and maybe, if he stayed, he could've slept. But that was a fantasy for another time when he was alone. "I'm just confused."

"Whatever they're doing I'm sure they've got a reason. Don't worry, okay?" Dean smiled at him as he opened his eyes again. "We're family, family always sticks together."

"Thanks," Cas smiled back, he put a strong hold on his hormones as they flared up and urged him to kiss. He moved to pull away but jerked to a stop when his back spiked in pain and forced him to freeze up. Cas let out a strangled yelp and arched his back, Dean knew what was up because he immediately went to try and massage it.

"Still happening…" Dean muttered despairingly, he hated to see his brother like that and Cas knew it. Cas wished he could keep this to himself, to keep the agony away from anyone else and never bother them. But he couldn't, it wasn't his to control despite how hard he wished for it.

"Sorry," he apologized again and felt the pressure from Dean's hands increase a little as soon as it left is lips.

"Don't be, it's stupid to be sorry for this Cas."

Castiel smiled again and glanced over his shoulder, "Sorry."

Dean stifled a laugh as he grinned back.

The pain passed as it always did and Cas knew better than to keep Dean awake, he said his goodnights and went back down into the living room. He stared at the sculpture tiredly and poked at it. Cas knew he could go and try to listen in on his parents' conversation but decided against it. He'd already made the choice to wait, no need to ruin it by going back on that thought.

But staying inside at night was starting to feel more and more like he was stuck there. Cas put his shoes on and grabbed a light jacket before heading out. It was late and maybe it was a stupid idea but he didn't see anything wrong as he silently closed the door behind him and locked it. As he stepped into the cool night breeze he had to breathe it in. There was something refreshing about the moonlight and calmness of night that made him happy he didn't need to sleep.

Cas walked down the sidewalk for hours, not caring what time it was or where he needed to be. It was freedom, he could be wherever he wanted and it didn't matter, at least not until daybreak. He'd wandered long enough that time slipped past him; there was a light fog around the grass as the air chilled naturally.

He almost missed it as he wandered, a man with a cane standing beneath a streetlight next to a woman lying on the sidewalk.

Castiel stopped and looked down the street, his limbs feeling more and more stiff as he took in the image. It was the horseman, standing over a still body that had probably lost its warmth. Part of Cas wondered why he seemed to be so obvious to him, but the rest of him focused on the woman. Why was she there? What happened to her?

As his heart started to race a hand dropped onto his shoulder, Castiel nearly jumped out his skin as he spun around to face them.

Meg stared at him with some amusement, "What're you doing out here?" She asked while keeping a laugh down.

He breathed a sigh of relief and pushed her hand off his shoulder, "Don't do that to me, don't you see there's a dead body over there?" He hissed as he nodded back where he'd seen Death standing.

"What?" Meg blinked in surprise and looked past him. "Holy shit…" she ran across the street and down to where the woman's body lay. Cas remained where he was as he watched her try to get the stranger's attention, to get a response. What on earth happened?

"She's not dead! I think she had a heart attack!" Meg shouted to him, "Call 911!"

His mouth felt dry and his hand gripped his phone but he didn't call. Instead he walked over to where this woman rested and dropped next to her, something inside told him that Death hadn't done his job. He could feel her soul still inside, she was still there, Meg was right. Castiel reached out, both physically and spiritually until he connected the two. There was another bright light, he knew what it was somehow but he couldn't explain it.

"Holy shit…" Meg repeated in complete awe, her voice barely audible. "Cas… did you just glow?"

He nodded silently as he watched the stranger blink repeatedly and stare up at him. "Are you an angel?" She whispered and he had to shake his head.

"No, just someone who cares."

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