Cross To Bear

16 Years-Old: Too Much In One Day

Castiel went to his bedroom at the end of the night; it'd been a good evening of movie watching and family support. He didn't need to sleep but he wanted to lie down, let his mind rest for the remainder of the day. So many things he could've been thinking, so many pieces of his life he could revisit now and look at it differently. But he still didn't know whether he should or not. Was there a point? He heard the door open but didn't regard it; he knew it was Dean, his brother.

But then again, Dean wasn't really his brother, was he? Maybe it'd still be weird, blood related or not.

"Wow," Dean huffed out a laugh as he dropped onto the opposite bed, "That was a lot to take in today, huh?"

"I'm still having a hard time figuring out if it actually happened," Cas smirked and rolled his head to look at the other teen. "I mean, Jet's mom is okay now."

Dean raised an eyebrow, disbelief all over his face, "That's the part you've decided to hang on to?"

"Well it was the first one of the day that really got me."

"So you're over accidentally healing Kubrick, that's good." Dean dropped back onto his mattress and let his legs dangle.

"Not sure about that," Cas sighed and ran his hand over his face, "I don't think things will be so normal with him around, but I think I've got a pretty good handle on the situation. Like Jet said, if I act normal and like he's nuts that's what people will think. Me having powers isn't the first thing that'll come to people's minds."

"True," Dean said absently as he stared up at the ceiling, "But the school situation isn't that big of a deal compared to everything else that happened today."

"Exactly," he sat up and crossed his legs, feeling a little fidgety. "I lost control of myself, that's never happened to me. Not like it did. And the bomb mom and dad dropped… I'm a mess."

"No you're not," Dean corrected him sternly, the sudden seriousness in his tone startled Cas a little. "We love you, Cas." Dean looked at him right in the eyes, nothing hidden and nothing strange to him. It set Castiel's mind at ease just to feel it, the ferocity behind Dean's eyes and in his mind. "We're going to be here no matter what, okay? Even if you feel like a mess you're not, we're holding you together."

He didn't have words, just a smile and tears welling up in his eyes. He'd cried so many times that day but to do it for Dean's words was new. "Thank you," he whispered for the thousandth time in the last few hours, "You don't know how much I appreciate all this."

"It's the least I can do, Cas. You've saved my life, fixed our best friend's mom, and done countless amazing things. I don't think I can compare anything I've done to you," he paused and Cas felt the rush of emotion in Dean's mind. "I just think you're incredible."

Cas hopped off his bed and dropped himself onto Dean, much to his brother's surprise. He smushed his face against Dean's chest and smiled, he didn't care how weird it was or what their stupid relationship was at that moment. He just wanted the comfort and to be close to the warmest soul he could find. It was so open to him, welcoming and it almost felt like it was made for him.

He'd lost some track of time there, letting himself linger and listen to a heartbeat. Dean moved a little beneath him, "Cas?" he placed a hand on Castiel's back. Cas thought nothing of it until he felt his muscle shift under Dean's touch. "Was that normal?" Dean asked nervously and Cas shook his head.

"No," he slowly rolled onto his side and braced himself, "but I've felt it before, it usually means a bad spasm is coming."

Dean sat up and tried to massage him ahead of time, hoping to stop the onset or at least slow it down. Cas groaned heavily as he felt the pinch of his spine and tightening in his muscle, it wasn't going to work and they both knew it. Castiel braced himself and tried to keep it together, keep himself still and wait it out. That didn't quite happen, his body tensed and soon became immovable. Pain shot through his nervous system like a thousand needles pricking him turned into knives, gouging out his ability to function.

Cas lost track of the world around him as he shuddered and closed in on himself, Dean was there but he couldn't feel him. There wasn't anything going on in his mind but agony as it spilled over his tongue and bled into his expression. He was certain he'd screamed but that didn't register either, maybe he hadn't made a noise at all and just froze up like someone with paralysis.

Regardless of what he'd done to express it, it was evident he was in excruciating pain. The torment his limbs were put through brought them together tighter, his eyes squeezed shut and he was sure they'd never open again. He wanted to flail around, reach for Dean, reach for help, but he couldn't bring movement to his arms or hands. They were stuck; he panicked a little but knew there was nothing he could do. The pain would subside in time and he'd wind up relaxing and possibly napping a little.

Cas tried to focus on what came after the cramping and torture in his back, sleeping a little if he were tired enough. Maybe being cuddled by Dean for sympathy reasons, opening his eyes again for the first time in centuries. He imagined what that'd be like, viewing a new world after having his eyes shut for so long, seeing Dean's reincarnation staring down at him. He wondered if Dean's reincarnation would look the same on the outside, he was sure they'd have the same soul but what about his face?

"Cas?" Dean asked softly and he realized that things had loosened again. "Cas you okay?"

"I think so," he whispered back and slowly raised an arm to rub at his face. "Thank you."

"No problem," Dean smiled with exhaustion in every little crack of his skin. "But I want you to sleep or rest or whatever, okay? Don't go doing shit."

Cas laughed softly and nodded, "Whatever you say." His mind went for 'whatever.' It was vague, it could be anything he wanted it to be and maybe he wanted it to be more than what it was. He knew the original meaning for the term but he didn't it want it to be that, at least not right then. He wanted 'whatever' to be what he wanted, to be something comforting to him, something make his mind light up with excitement and joy like it was supposed to. The warmth of Dean's embrace, the sound of his heart beat subtle but strong to keep Cas steady, and maybe another kiss.

They'd only shared the one a few years ago. He'd just heard that he and Dean weren't blood related, that gave him some kind of hope on the subject but how strange would it still be? How odd? Just because they weren't actually related didn't change all of the times they'd shared, the bond they'd made. They were brothers and it would take something big to change that. Cas could fantasize as he always had but it was still too much to truly consider. Dean's mind had strayed his way a couple times but the feeling had faded, the memory of their kiss slipped back and Dean was the same as he'd always been. Cas told himself to stop wanting it over and over, but it didn't stop his mind from thinking about it. It didn't stop his body for yearning for it and it'd never stop his heart. While it had become easier to ignore with all the things going on in his life, he couldn't get rid of it. No matter how many times Cas told himself to stay away from Dean he just fell closer.

A couple days had passed; Castiel remained home and avoided school like the plague. He didn't want to see anyone; he didn't want to play with the weird politics of social standing and what he'd done in regard to Kubrick. He didn't want to do any of it. And after the reveal of his origins his parents had no issue letting him stay home.

Cas felt like a bit of a brat for that, like he was using it as an excuse to stay away from a place he hated. And maybe he was, maybe he wasn't at all shaken up by the news and just wanted a reason to not go. Part of him believed that, the idea that he wasn't Winchester blood didn't faze him. He was a bit odd but he was a Winchester through and through because being part of the family was far more than a relation. Bobby and Karen were like their uncle and aunt but they held no blood ties with the family. Jet was like their brother but he wasn't related to them. Cas felt no shame or worry that his life had changed, because who cares? Some people do but he wasn't one of them.

He sat in the living room at night; he couldn't sleep again so he returned to his projects. Making sculptures of paper, glue, flour and whatever else he wanted to was pretty fun. They were getting better and soon he figured he'd be able to do a creation of Dean justice. But that might have to wait until everyone had grown up and moved out.

Without sleep his days blurred together sometimes but he did his best to keep track, he was pretty sure it was a Wednesday so he knew everyone would be up early for work or school. Cas wasn't sure when he should go back to classes, or if he was ever going to. Well, he'd have to at some point but he really didn't want to. Dean brought back answers to his questions, what the dynamic was, how people were reacting to his supposed powers. It was a mixed bag; some people called bullshit but others were a little paranoid and very aware that Castiel hadn't been at school for a week or so. And what was with that name?

He sighed and kept working; maybe thinking about it didn't help.

"Hello Castiel."

Cas' heart leapt into his throat and he looked up at the person standing next to him, a neatly pressed suit, an aged hand smoothly resting on a cane and an aura around him that made Cas' breath catch.


"We haven't had much time to speak to one another," Death slowly moved to John's armchair and gracefully lowered himself down. "Let's chat."

Cas remained still as he stared at this man; they'd shared a word or two before and he'd seen Death around recently. "What do you want to say to me?"

"I need to explain something to you." Death didn't skip a beat or hesitate in his words or actions; everything he did had a purpose and a reason. Those things alone scared Cas. He'd never known someone so sure of themselves, not even Jet. "Sit."

Castiel rose up, finding his hands were somehow clean, the mess that had reached his clothing was gone and he was practically spotless. He wanted to question it but for now he'd assume that Death wanted to speak to someone clean. Cas sat down on the couch and attempted to be respectful in his posture. He knew better than to ask again, Death would speak when it was time to, he didn't need to pester. But his nature wouldn't quite allow this, "Do you know what's going on with me?"

"I do, you aren't human Castiel." It was so blunt he was startled by how simply it'd been said. Cas had come across this kind of speaking before but that didn't make him prepared to hear it. "Your body develops just as anything else's, but it has a different rate at which it does so. But that's not quite why I'm here;" Death paused to hold Cas' attention; the teen had no real way of letting those words sink in. It was all too fast. A week or so ago he discovered he wasn't related to the Winchesters and now he wasn't even human? Then what the hell was he? Faces of monsters came to mind but he tried to push that away.

"There is something amiss with the dead. It has been wrong for 16 years now, spirits have nowhere to go." Death explained calmly, it sounded like he had been dealing with it for longer than a decade and a half. Maybe that's just how he spoke? But then again, even if Castiel wasn't human, even if he were something else entirely what did it have to do with him? There wasn't anything special about him, sure he had a few abilities he didn't understand but he couldn't see the dead. Cas could see the living, the heart and soul of a human being and sometimes the face of another creature if it held human form.

"Why are you telling me this?" Cas blurted out, anxiety filling his mind. "What can I possibly do? Or say? I can't see the dead, I just see you."

"Heaven and hell are sealed. You are the key to their gates and you will open them again." Death spoke matter-of-factly, like Cas had no choice but to listen, to do this crazy task he wasn't even sure he heard right. Open the gates? Heaven? Hell? What? He struggled to control his own abilities, to heal a person or to hold back the power surge. He couldn't be responsible for something like that. Cas remained still and silent as these thoughts spilled over in his mind and drowned everything else.

"But to do that you need to survive, so I need to warn you of what's coming." Death just didn't stop. Cas wondered if he knew that he was having a hard time swallowing any of it. Death might've had his own agenda, things to do, people to reap and all that. Was Cas really that big of a part? Maybe he was just fit into the busy schedule; after all, the horseman did explain how the dead were lost. But Cas wasn't some superhero; he didn't even know he was anything other than a slightly odd human being until moments earlier.

"Wait," Castiel felt like he was scrambling now, to understand or even grasp the idea. "Hold on, slow down! I don't get it, what're you talking about?"

"When you have developed far enough your spirit will be a beacon. All demons that roam the earth will find you, you need to be prepared for this." He didn't skip a beat or stop. "There have always been many demonic presences on Earth, when Heaven and Hell were sealed this didn't change. Do you understand?"

Cas blinked a few times in shock and confusion, the registration of what he'd just heard hadn't quite gotten anywhere. "Are you saying that demons…" he remembered his grandfather and Caplan, "Demons are here?" The twisted faces of men he thought he knew, pulled into spectres and ghoulish expressions.

"There are some that have sniffed you out already." Death slowly rose to his feet; he must have had somewhere to be. "So I will reiterate for you since this seems to have gone over your head. Heaven and hell have been sealed for 16 years,"

"By who?"

"God." Death's expression said enough that Cas knew not to interrupt again. "The seal can only be broken by an angel, and the next one that crosses the threshold will wake the realm." He paused for questions, knowing Cas would have them.

"Would crossing either wake both? And why does this matter to me? You said I'm not human, am I a demon? Am I…" it felt too narcissistic to finish that sentence.

Death sighed and walked toward the door, "No, it wouldn't open both. If you cross Hell's border you will wake Hell, not Heaven. And you are an angel, you will attract demons to you and they will try to harm you. When you are fully developed you will understand far better, knowledge will come to you but it is the last thing you will develop. Do you understand, Castiel?"

He swallowed nervously, "I… I guess I do… Is there anything I can do? I mean, can I stop this?"

"You will." Death replied calmly and walked out. Castiel sat on the couch for the remainder of the night, the words exchanged swirling in his head on repeat. An angel? He was an angel? Cas questioned the concept as his back started to ache again.

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