Cross To Bear

16 Years-Old: Smarter Than You Look

Earlier that week…

Dean couldn't get it out of his head.

"I just think you're incredible."

Castiel dropped on top of him, face pressed to his chest and possibly hearing every beat of Dean's heart. Dean hadn't expected it, hadn't been prepared for the sudden weight on him but more than that he'd lost the ability to think for a moment. Everything he'd pushed back about his brother rushed back to his mind, his heart pounded oddly in his chest and his breath caught in his throat. For the first time Castiel seemed unaware of him, unaware of the thoughts swarming in Dean's head and the thunder in his ears.

That kiss. The feeling of Castiel's lips on him was a distant memory but his mind dragged it back like an obedient and insistent dog. Dean lost himself in Cas' presence, physically over him but so much more than that. Castiel encompassed him, took over him and Dean could think of nothing else. He closed his eyes and let Cas rest; the weight of him was comforting. Dean's hand shifted slowly and he moved to touch Castiel.

But the word brother lingered in his head. Maybe he could do it. Maybe he could say something, tell Cas he liked him and maybe they could date.

To date his brother would be weird. To know they were legally brothers was uncomfortable - Castiel was family. Dean couldn't take that away; he didn't want to ever take that away. Just to date Cas he'd deny they were family? Dean would rather keep Castiel as his brother if that were the other option.

He was content with his choice but he noticed something odd about Cas' back, he looked down and saw it swell. "Cas?" he placed a hand over it worriedly and Castiel flinched. "Is that normal?" Dean couldn't describe the feeling beneath his hand, it wasn't anything a normal muscle would do – or even could do. Cas' back wriggled and stretched under his hand, Cas didn't seem to realize what it was doing exactly. All his brother knew was that it hurt. Dean wasn't sure he should tell him otherwise.

The day following that incident was so normal Dean thought something had to be wrong. Castiel healed Nikki, he had a power surge of energy, they heard he wasn't born into their family, and Dean watched his back mutate. How could the day after that be so agonizingly slow? They woke up, Cas stayed home but he and Sam caught the bus. Everyone talked like nothing had changed in the world, maybe it hadn't in theirs but Dean's life was teetering on the twilight zone.

It wasn't enough that Cas was suffering with crazy powers but to have back pain too? Something alien squirming where it shouldn't be? It wasn't fair and Dean was worried. He gripped his hands tightly and loosened them slowly, the ones he'd used to massage the ache in his brother's back. After seeing it move and feeling it he had to try and loosen what he hoped was a knot. It couldn't have been one but he wanted to believe that's all it was. What else could it be? What was growing inside his brother?

Dean adjusted his backpack as he hopped off the bus, Sam right behind him every step of the way. "Is Cas ever coming back to school?" Sam blurted out and Dean shook his head, he had no idea. Sam was quiet after that but before Dean could continue on inside his little brother caught his sleeve.

"What's up, Sammy?" Dean turned to look at him and slowed his roll; Sam's expression was serious and a little sad.

"I know Cas says he's okay but I'm worried." Sam furrowed his brow and it was as if Dean were looking into his own head. He forgot sometimes how smart Sam was. "He's family and he says it doesn't bother him but I don't think he's had time to really think about it, none of us have. I'm worried something bad's gonna happen, he talks to Death and that one teacher and our grandpa turned into monsters around him." Sam was making sense despite Dean's best efforts to pretend he wasn't. "And when his eyes glow and he gets these crazy powers, what if it's hurting him?"

"I don't think it is," Dean lied and Sam didn't buy it, not even for a second.

"I know you've seen it." His little brother said low, an angry glare in his eyes.

"What?"

"When his back hurts, you've seen it."

Sam had seen it too? The swell in his skin, the movement of something wrong inside like from the Alien movies. "Yeah," Dean admitted finally and sighed as he ran his hand up through his hair, "But we don't know what it is, you can't tell him."

"Tell who what?" Jet trotted up to them, his bag slung over his shoulder loosely and a certain bounce in his step that the Winchester brothers couldn't miss. "Where's Cas? Is he okay?"

"Cas is alright, he just stayed home." Dean wasn't sure what he should tell Jet, or, more accurately, where he should start. "Why aren't you at home with your mom? Wouldn't you want to spend time with her now that she's up?"

"Yeah but she said I'm not gonna use her as an excuse to cut class." Jet grinned sheepishly, it was something he'd attempted to do and Dean could see it written all over his face. "Besides, she wanted some 'me' time, as she put it. She's going for a hike in the park today, shopping mall, handing out resumes and stuff. She's busy so I figured there'd be no point in arguing with her."

"Guess she wanted to get out pretty bad," Sam laughed a little, "I know I would."

"I know, right?" Their friend glanced between the two of them, he wasn't stupid and he could see something was up despite the boys' best efforts to pretend nothing was off. "Okay, what happened?"

"I have no idea where to start." Dean dropped his head but Sam didn't falter.

"After what happened at your place we brought Cas home, mom and dad decided it was time to tell us something about Cas right at that moment. I guess to help explain something about him but it didn't really explain anything."

Sam had paused as he realized his own words were true, John and Mary's news didn't really tell them anything about Castiel's differences and powers and whatnot. Jet's expression grew impatient quickly. "What was it?" He insisted gently but still pretty firm with Sam.

"Right, sorry. Anyway they told us that Cas was sort of adopted. A baby was left in the car so they kept him, Cas isn't actually related to us."

Jet raised an eyebrow, somehow unfazed by this news. "Okay, so how'd he take it?"

"Pretty good, actually. But I don't think he really thought about it." Sam explained worriedly, his concerns coming out in his face and tone as he repeated what he'd said to Dean moments before. "Cas is handling it really well on the outside but what if he's hurting? What if all this stuff that's happening to him is killing him? The back spasms get worse and I swear I've seen something moving under his shirt lately-"

"Sam," Jet put a calming hand on his shoulder, Dean appreciated the way Jet handled his little brother every time he saw it. "It's alright, if Cas is in trouble he'll let us know. And if he's struggling with not being blood related he'll tell someone. Cas has always talked to us when something was up, and if not us then your parents. Whatever's going on with him will be okay, okay?" He smiled warmly and Sam nodded quietly, Jet always had a certain way with words when he really wanted to.

"C'mon you two, let's get inside before I have to watch you make out or something." Dean smirked at the sudden redness in Sam's face.

"Shut up, Dean." Sam tried to pretend it was stupid and passed him by to get to class, Dean knew better. Jet shoved his shoulder playfully but gave no comment in regards to him and Sam.

"What's your take on Cas?"

Dean shook his head, "I don't know if I have a take yet. Sam's not wrong, Cas' back does move really weird." He paused for a second, "Hey, why didn't you react to Cas being found as a baby?"

"It makes sense to me," Jet shrugged casually.

"Oh?"

"Yeah, I mean you two have different birthdays but you're the same age? No one really explained that one to me. Plus he looks different than all of you, different skin, different eyes, facial structure, hair, everything. Castiel is nothing like all the other Winchester's I've met, it's not hard for me to see him being adopted." They walked into the school together, ignoring anyone that wasn't immediately important to them. Jet had a tendency to shove people out of his way, pushing through the crowded hallway like they should've moved for him to begin with. Dean followed his trail through as he always did, appreciating that he didn't have to blaze their way that morning.

"I think you're the only one who's so well adjusted to it." Dean muttered as they reached their lockers.

"Nah sounds like Cas knew it too. I mean maybe he didn't know but he must've been prepared. Cas is a lot of things but unaware has never been one of those things."

"Point taken." Dean bit lightly on the inside of his cheek, "So what do you think I should do?"

"What do you mean?" Jet stopped and looked at him, Dean sometimes hated how intense Jet's eyes could be. They were always so focused and eye contact usually meant you had undivided attention, it was a little intimidating sometimes.

"About Cas, what should I do?"

Jet's nose scrunched up a little and he started to look a bit angry, "What the fuck do you mean? You don't do anything about Cas, nothing's different man."

"I know that, I just mean… well… you remember what I said about him a few years ago?" Dean fidgeted with the edges of his sweater sleeves as he watched his friend's expression shift from anger to annoyed understanding.

"Goddamn it, man." Jet shook his head and closed his locker with a louder crash than Dean had expected. "If you like him then fucking tell him. He can handle it."

"I know that," Dean snapped back, he hadn't anticipated that retaliation either but it looked like Jet had. "Fuck, I know he can handle it. Cas can handle anything," he'd tried to keep his voice lower; he didn't want everyone around him to listen in. Maybe a crowded hall wasn't such a good place. "But I need your opinion on it. Cas is my brother, he's family, I don't want to lessen that by dating him, you know? It's like denying that part of our past together."

Jet leaned against the lockers and pinched the bridge of his nose between his eyes; clearly helping Dean with his constipated emotions wasn't on his to-do list that morning. "Lemme get this straight, you think that dating him will somehow lessen the relationship you've built together?"

"Well… sort of. It sounds dumb when you say it like-"

"Shut up for a second and let me explain something to you; he'll never not be your family. The time you've spent together and your entire past involves him, and sometimes revolves around him. Dating him changes the relationship, that's what you're scared of. But you know something? If you're serious enough about someone, if your boyfriend is someone you love more than anything else, that person becomes your family." Jet let that sink in as he stepped closer, his level of personal space was incredibly low but it always made his presence fiercer than anyone else that Dean knew. "What you and I have is family, we're practically brothers. What you and Sam have is what having a brother is. Would you compare your relationship with me to your relationship with Cas? Would you say they're the same?"

"No." Dean could say that without hesitation, Cas was special.

"And how about you and Sam? Is that anything like Cas?"

"Definitely not, but Sammy's younger, it's easier to treat him like a little brother." He defended the point, but he wasn't sure why. He wanted to believe Jet, to realize that his logic was sound enough to put his mind at ease, but something in his head just wouldn't let him relax. Pessimism was a good word for it.

"Again," Jet smiled at him, "you and me vs. you and Cas, same age. Are you going to start looking at me like you do him?"

"No."

"And I appreciate that."

Dean laughed and pushed Jet a little further away from him, "Alright, alright, I get it." He couldn't pull the grin from his lips, Jet was right. "So I'll tell him, then."

"I'd wait a bit," Jet added quickly, "he's had a crazy few days."

"Don't you think this might make him feel better to hear it?"

"Maybe, but it's just as likely you could confuse him, I'd rather not see him stress out any more than he already has."

"Good point, I'll wait a week or something." Dean nodded decidedly, attempting to ignore the way that Jet scoffed at him. "Thanks man, you're a lot smarter than you look."

Jet's laughter cut short and he punched Dean's side, "Fuck off, you're just jealous."


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