Cross To Bear

16 Years-Old: No Need For Oxygen Tanks

Castiel sat against the wall of the slowly emptying hallway; his eyes were fixed on his fellow students as if they'd do something terrible. It'd been the rest of the school day already and so far no one seemed any different. No one looked at him strangely yet or stared. It hadn't gotten out yet.

"Cas," Dean smiled at him, kneeling next to him on the floor, "C'mon, the buses are here, we can go home."

He exhaled heavily but didn't budge; he wasn't so sure he wanted to get into a cramped tin-can on wheels just yet. "It's over," he muttered and dropped his head back against the painted bricks, "We have to move."

"No we don't Cas, it's not that bad." Dean rolled his eyes at him.

"I'm gonna get burned at the stake." He replied a little dramatically. But he was allowed, wasn't he? Maybe it was a little much but that's how he felt, the world would be against him in the next few hours and their family would be chased out of town by a mob carrying torches and pitchforks.

"We're not in the Medieval ages," Jet reminded him as if reading his mind, Cas responded by sticking his tongue out.

"People might even be really excited," Dean added optimistically though he toned it down when he caught the expressions on their faces.

"Not excited," Jet corrected him, "but they might take it better than you think, Cas. If you suddenly act weird about it then yeah people might get nervous. Just show 'em you're no different, hell people might even call them nuts for even suggesting you have powers."

"Good point," Cas furrowed his brow as he realized his own behaviour would cause the problem he was afraid to begin with. "So act normal and it should be fine."

"More or less," Jet shrugged and Cas smiled up at him.

"Let us do the lying," Dean pat him on the shoulder, "You're pretty bad at it."

Cas made a face and shoved Dean's hand off him, "You're almost as bad as I am! Don't give me that crap." He exclaimed and Dean feigned shock. Cas hit him gently on the arm and his brother laughed it off.

Jet raised an eyebrow at the two of them, a smirk pulling at his lips, "Then let me, I'm good at it."

"Not sure that's a good thing, Jet." Cas frowned at him and his friend only laughed, the sound bringing a smile to Cas' face too.

"Still, the buses are gonna leave," Dean glanced down the hall, "What's the plan here, Cas?"

"Stay in town?" He replied questioningly, his brow still a little pinched.

"Yeah, you guys can hang with me." Jet grinned widely Dean returned it just as expressively; Cas loved their dynamic sometimes. Other times it made him jealous but he kept that to himself.

"Well if we're staying with Jet," Dean pushed himself up from the floor and to his feet, "I'll go get Sammy, meet you guys outside." He called the rest over his shoulder as he rand own the hall and disappeared out the door. Cas envied his speed a little, Dean could run fast, he was a sprinter and it was amazing to see him go. Castiel was more of a marathon runner, he wasn't much for speed but he could go forever. Though maybe that was weird about him too?

Castiel stood up and brushed the dirt from his backside, he glanced at Jet and noticed nothing odd about his stance or what his face expressed. Something told him that there was more to it, something was bothering Jet. The other teen was calm and casual as he walked down the hall at Cas' side, nothing strange in his posture or his stroll. But then again, he was a good liar. "What's on your mind?" Cas asked and felt the slight jolt in Jet's composure.

"Nothing," He lied again and it made Cas a little angry. "Just… do you mind if we stop by my place first?"

Castiel lifted his gaze to Jet's face and saw it this time, the crack in his outer layer. "Of course we can," he replied softly. Jet had had no idea about the extent of Cas' healing abilities, that he could fix wounds and illnesses with the touch of a hand. It wasn't so much that he didn't know, he knew a little, but Jet hadn't ever considered to use it. Now he was basically asking, Cas could feel it in every little niche of Jet's mind. He was nearly begging him to do it but not out loud. Cas smoothed it over to the best of his abilities, calming Jet's mind until it rested again. "But I do need to tell you something first."

"What's up?" Jet lit up, eager to help or listen or whatever he needed to do to get this done.

"I don't have control over this," Cas felt bad as he said it, like her were making excuses, "I've never been able to do it just because I wanted to, if I could it would've happened already."

"I get it," his friend nodded solemnly, "but I appreciate it if you'd still try."

"I'll always try," Cas promised with a smile as they walked out the front doors, he could see Dean and Sam walking toward them. "Just… I hope you understand that I want to. I want to help you and your mom, please don't think I'm not trying if nothing happens."

Jet smirked and rested his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans, "You're Castiel, you always want to help. I won't think anything badly of you, I promise."

And Cas believed him, "Thank you, Jet."

"I didn't do anything." Jet turned his grin on Cas, "But you're welcome."

The walk to Jet's was longer than Cas had anticipated. They'd done it before, they'd walked from school to Jet's house on other days just because Jet was going to do it and they didn't want to have lunch without him. Not to say they weren't late coming back, of course. As well, despite Cas having walked deep into town from his own house on the outskirts, this walk seemed to take longer. He felt the pressure of Jet's expectations, while his friend understood that it might not work and Cas had nothing to worry about he still worried about it. He wanted to fix Nikki, he wanted to help their family and he was certain he'd be disappointed in himself if he couldn't do it.

Because what was stopping him? He wasn't friends with Kubrick but he healed him anyway, he didn't know the woman on the street but she was alive because of him, why not heal a friend? He'd fixed Dean when he wanted to, though he hadn't the mind to know it at the time.

"What're we doing here?" Sam asked as they walked up Jet's block, his eyes looking around at the semi-familiar setting. They didn't visit all that often, not compared to how much Jet was over at their place.

"I need to see Nikki," Cas explained simply, Dean already knew what was going on and Cas could tell he wasn't sure he liked it. Dean didn't want anyone to take Cas for granted, to use his abilities for themselves, or anything for that matter. Dean was a little possessive of him, it was kind of nice.

The four of them walked into Jet's home, it was clean, not spotless but clean. There was some dust but nothing was out of place, aside from a few articles of Jet's clothes he'd discarded. The teen went to gather those up as he walked through; it'd probably been a busy morning Cas figured.

"Mom, I'm home!" Jet called out, never expecting a very loud answer if one at all. He walked down the hall to her room, Cas waited for a moment and looked at Dean and Sam who both dropped onto the couch.

"You two stay here, we'll only bit a little while." He instructed gently before following Jet's footsteps. When Cas got into Nikki's room he found her resting, as she usually was those days. Sometimes she had enough energy to wander around the house, maybe go outside to sit but never to do much more than that. Cas smiled at her as he walked in and sat at her bedside opposite Jet. "I don't come here often," he whispered and silently took note of how Jet's head nodded subtly.

"Mom," Jet brushed a hand over her forehead but she was asleep, her eyes fluttered a little but that was all the response he got. "She'll have to go to the hospital again soon," he looked up at Cas tiredly, "it's getting more and more frequent." He leaned over and checked her oxygen tank and a bit of the equipment set up in the room. Cas couldn't remember when most of it'd gotten there, it was a slow accumulation of medical gear that just seemed normal as it went in but seeing it all together was a little scary.

Castiel reached over and took her hand, he saw no flash but he held it all the same. He watched her face and saw no signs of pain, her mind was at peace though she held regrets. But Nikki wasn't the reason he was there, not really. Her pain was minimal other than the lost time and inability to raise her son properly, it wasn't her pain he was there for. Cas lifted his gaze to look at Jet, the boy who'd made meals for them both for so long now, a boy who had to scavenge to get by and even then he could barely feed and clothe himself without the Winchester's help.

He was there for Jet, one of his closest friends and one of the strongest people he knew. "I don't know how you do it," Cas whispered and Jet glanced over at him from the settings of some piece of equipment Cas knew nothing about. "I don't think I could do this, take care of someone like that."

Jet smiled, "It's actually a lot easier than it sounds." He reset something and adjusted it, though they had a lot of stuff for her medical needs,' Cas knew it was the cheapest garbage they could manage. It made him angry. "The more gradually it happens the less you realize how much work you're doing. I think you could do it, if something happened I think you could do it."

Cas shook his head, "No, you're incredible for all of this. I really couldn't handle it, it'd drive me crazy."

Jet was quiet but Cas could feel him, the silent appreciation of his words was enough for both of them.

"Is anything happening?" Jet asked after a moment but they both knew he didn't have to say anything, they would've known. Cas could feel the intensity in Jet's mind, the raw emotion he bared and how badly it hurt. He wanted to pull away from it but knew better, he needed to see it so he embraced it. Jet's being was aching, anticipating a failed attempt and fully expecting it now. Cas could feel his heart fall, that drop in emotional stability and remembered Jet's father's funeral. He'd felt the same thing in Jet that time, that lost anger and turmoil building slowly in a mind that already carried too much weight.

Cas turned his attention to Nikki, where his hand laid loosely in hers. He pulled it back and reached to cradle her face, leaning down until his forehead touched hers. All he could hear was the sound of harsh breathing and quiet beeps of the machines. His body tingled but he ignored it, his back started to hurt and he held his ground. He'd come here for a reason, he'd promised he'd try and that's what he'd do. Castiel held still as his muscles felt like they'd tear away from his spine, his shoulders shook as he kept himself upright.

Nikki stirred but didn't quite wake up yet, Cas felt her consciousness moving and he reached for it. He reached inside her mentally and could see all of the things that made her who she was. He could see her emotions, her dreams, her life wasted away into this bed only to be a burden to her boy. Castiel pushed energy through himself; he had to do it on purpose this time.

He tried to remember how it felt the first time. Dean cradled in his arms, unmoving and cold. He felt energy in himself, he felt the surge of power from his body to Dean's.

He knew what it felt like. He knew the same feeling when he'd touched that infant, when he knelt next to the woman on the street and when he helped Kubrick stand. These people were worth his energy, they were worth just as much as he'd ever been and more. He closed his eyes and gathered his strength.

Cas felt it. The same rush inside himself and past his eyelids he could see light. His own soul lit up, he could feel every little tingle and movement in himself and it was incredible. Cas couldn't explain it, he'd never had so much control over his own abilities before and part of him thought it was almost too much. But that didn't stop him, he gently eased that energy into Nikki, fusing it with her mind and body. The stress inside her lightened, the pressure lifted and in seconds he felt her entire body shift.

Castiel opened his eyes as all the sensations faded, he looked up at Jet first who stared with wide and watery eyes.

"Castiel?" Nikki asked a little confused, her voice stronger than Cas had ever heard it before. He felt tears in his eyes as he looked down at her again. "What are you doing in my room?" She started to sit up and paused when she realized how easy it was.

"Mom?" Jet dropped to his knees beside the bed and reached across it to take her arm, "How do you feel? Is anything different?" Tears slipped down his cheeks as his voice started to break, "Are you okay?"

Nikki pet his head soothingly, "Jet it's okay, don't cry." She was confused - Cas could see that easily. He carefully removed the tubing from her face; she almost stopped him but somehow had the patience to let him try it.

"I can breathe," She laughed softly and climbed out of bed, unsure of what to do with herself. She looked at them both with wide eyes, a life in them that Cas hadn't ever seen. He could see now where Jet got that sharp look from, it was hers and he was so grateful to be able to witness it. "What did you do?" Nikki was in a light state of hysterics as she ran around her bed to hug Jet, squeezing him harder than he'd ever been hugged by her before.

Cas wiped his eyes and headed to the door where he spotted Dean and Sam looking in. "That was amazing, Cas." Sam looked up at him with awe and respect; Cas took a mental picture of that expression for his memories.

"You did it," Dean laughed in disbelief and pulled him into a hug, "Oh my god, Cas."

Cas held tightly to Dean and sobbed out his relief, his limbs shaking and back slowly untwisting itself. "I have no idea what I just did," he sighed against Dean's shoulder and rested his head there in the crook of Dean's neck.

Jet ran over to them and dragged Cas into another hug, not caring if he got Dean too. "Thank you so much," he cried quietly and Castiel held himself strong to allow Jet that moment without the strength of his walls to hold him up.

"You're welcome," he whispered and smiled across the room at Nikki who just laughed in complete disbelief.

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