Cross To Bear

8 Years-Old: Are Monsters Real?

"I'll call the police right now." John had said over the phone right before hanging up, his voice a mixture of boiling rage and attempted calm. Mary put the phone down and rested her hand on top of her child's head; Castiel had quieted down and closed his eyes as he relaxed against his mom.

Dean and Jet had peered into the room to see what was happening, neither sure of what Cas could be so distraught over. Dean rushed in all the same, "Is Cas okay?" He asked urgently, big eyes staring at his mom as he tugged at her shirt.

"Your brother went through a bad situation with a teacher," She explained carefully, "Did you see anything?"

"No… Mr. Caplan called Cas into the hall when lunch started." Dean trailed off; his eyes flickered with anger at the thought that he hadn't done anything to help. "Is that when? Did he hurt you? Cas why didn't you say anything?"

Castiel bit his lip and shook his head, "I did!"

"Telling me you don't like him doesn't count!" Dean shouted back and Mary gave him a scolding look.

"Stop it, both of you. Dean, you and Jet can go play with Sammy okay?"

Dean opened his mouth to protest but Jet grabbed his hand, "C'mon," the other boy insisted and Dean begrudgingly listened.

"What happens now, mom?" Cas asked softly.

"Your dad's calling the police, so now hopefully we figure out what's going on." She kissed his forehead and ruffled his hair like she always did.

That night the adults were talking and doing things but Dean didn't want to bog Cas down with whatever it was. Instead they played Go Fish with Dean's cards. Jet had already gone home and Sam tried to join though he didn't get things quite right as often as he would've liked.

An hour or so into their games Mary and John walked in with some police officers. Cas stared up at them but felt nothing odd about the male and female law enforcers, not like he'd felt before with his teacher. The two smiled at him and he felt like it was okay to smile back, so he did. Moments later he was alone with them but he didn't feel scared, they were nice people, he could tell.

"Hi," the lady said first, "I'm Jody, this is my partner Edgar. What's your name young man?"

"Castiel," he said quietly and smiled shyly at her.

She smiled back, "That's quite the mouthful, do you have a nickname?"

"Dean calls me Cas,"

"Do your parents call you that too?"

He fidgeted and nodded, "Sometimes, when they're not mad at me."

She nodded back and he saw her face get serious. "So Cas, can you tell me the name of your teacher?"

"Mr. Caplan,"

"And what happened today?"

Cas bit his lower lip and shrugged, "I don't know."

Edgar offered a smile too and a subtle gesture for him to go on, "Maybe start from the beginning. What happened at the beginning of the day?"

He looked up without tilting his head, glancing through his lashes at the male cop. He wasn't sure where to start, the beginning of the day was when he woke up but he didn't think that's what Edgar meant. "Uhm… well me and Dean got on the bus, I didn't wanna go to school but mom said I had to. Jet was there and some other kids I haven't seen in a while." He shrugged again and rubbed at his arms nervously.

"It's okay, take your time." Jody assured him and he did. Cas took a deep breath and stayed quiet for at least five minutes before he went on. The two across from him were patient; they didn't pressure him or look at each other like they wanted him to hurry up. It was comfortable; he sighed lightly again and nodded as he felt ready.

"At lunch Mr. Caplan asked me to go into the hall with him, I thought I was in trouble. He asked me if I was okay, then he said I was special. He said he was waiting for something like me and when he leaned in really close to my ear he asked me to play with him." Castiel felt himself shaking and he wanted his mom, his dad, and Dean there with him. As safe as he felt with the police officers it could erase that awful feeling Mr. Caplan left him with. "He called me a 'pretty little angel.'"

"And then what happened?" Edgar pushed a little when Cas stopped.

"Nothing. I ran away from him."

"Did he say anything else? Did he touch you in a bad way?" Jody was very gentle as she asked him, careful to keep that safe feeling.

"Not really, but he made me feel bad. I could feel he wasn't a good person, something was wrong with him." Cas curled his lips in to pinch them lightly with his teeth, "What's gonna happen?"

"Well that's why we're here, to figure out what he did and find out what'll happen next." Jody reassured him calmly, "But for now we're not sure yet."

"Okay," Cas nodded and nervously chewed on the inside of his cheek.

Jody and Edgar stayed to ask a few more questions but generally that was the end of it. Cas walked back to sit down with Dean and Sam, the Go Fish game where he'd left off but he couldn't remember who had what.

"Wanna keep playing?" Dean asked him innocently but Cas knew why he was doing it. An attempt to cheer him up or get his mind away from their teacher. It didn't matter why Dean did it, Cas appreciated the gesture.

"Thanks but no." He pointed to the TV, "wanna watch something?"

"Yeah!" Dean ran to set it up; Cas pretended he couldn't hear the police talking to John and Mary.

"It's certainly suspicious," Jody had said, "We'll investigate further, do some background checks and speak with Mr. Caplan directly."

"At the moment we don't have much," Edgar admitted.

"Cas?" Dean tugged at Cas' sleeve and drew his attention back to him.

"Sorry, I guess I was daydreaming." Castiel smiled quietly and looked at the screen as it came to life, "What'd you put in?"

"Titanic." Dean grinned and crawled onto the couch beside Cas and Sam. "Second tape."

"Of course," Cas laughed and leaned back, nothing like something familiar to bring him back to earth.

Come the movie's end Mary walked into the room, "Alright boys, it's bedtime." She picked Sam up and ushered the other two to the bathroom to brush their teeth. Cas stared at himself in the mirror while they did it, his brush pushed into his mouth and making a mess with too much toothpaste. Dean looked the same as him, the suds-ed up paste around his lips and making him look deranged, mouth hung open to get to the back teeth that needed it just as much as the front. Sam looked the same as him, spitting into the sink and having to do it more than once to get everything out.

His brothers were the same as him. He wasn't different. He rinsed his mouth with the same wash the others did, it tasted awful and he made the same scrunched faces as them. He was the same. They were all special; everyone was special in their own way.

But Cas was the same.

They walked toward their bedrooms but Castiel couldn't do it, he followed Dean quietly and waited by the door until his brother noticed him standing there. "Can I sleep here?" He asked, his hands together as his fingers fidgeted around one another.

Dean's face brightened a bit as he nodded, "Of course, like when we were little."

Cas ran over to Dean's bed and crawled into it, under the covers first and up to the pillow where he nuzzled in close to his brother.

Mary walked in looking a little worried until she noticed Cas snuggled in with Dean. Relieved that Cas might be able to sleep well that night, she went to tuck them in. Leaving sweet kisses on their foreheads as John walked in, smiling and motioning down the hall, "Sammy's sleeping like a rock." He went to give his kids quick kisses on the cheek, "Good night boys."

"'Night dad," Dean beamed up at him.

"'Night." Cas repeated, his eyes already closed as sleep crept up on him.

Their parents left them, lights turned off and door partially open. Cas sighed softly and pressed his face against Dean, "Thanks," he smiled and nuzzled his brother, "I love you."

"You too," Dean was nearly asleep already, barely conscious enough to speak straight. But that was okay; Cas was too tired to really care. He felt the weight of sleep and it was a comfort, he drifted into it willingly and dared not open his eyes again.

But he did. Hours later, in the middle of the night he heard a sound. Cas moaned softly and lifted his gaze to the digital alarm clock as it flashed 3am, like the power had gone out or something. He rubbed his eyes and slowly sat up. He could feel the room, he could feel Dean next to him and nothing seemed out of sorts. At least not immediately; there was a draft and the chill wouldn't leave him. Cas shuddered and looked around the room, something unsettling about it made him want to wake Dean. He nudged his brother and whispered, "Dean?" He had no idea why he whispered when he wanted to wake someone up but that's how they did it on TV.

Dean only groaned and rolled over, his head facing the wall as he wanted no part of Cas' antics at that hour. Cas however had other things on his mind. His heart pounded harder and harder the more he realized what about the room was scaring him.

The window had somehow swung open, curtains flowing gently, barely blocking an odd shadow in the corner of the room. "Hello?" Cas' voice was shaking as he addressed the figure, praying that it was his imagination.

And then it moved.

"Who's there?" Cas had no idea where the strength to speak came from, but he'd had it.

"Castiel, sweetheart," it was his teacher.

The stuttering and stammering started, Cas couldn't get out the man's name. "Why are you in my room?" he squeaked and gripped the blankets tighter, his hand reaching back and shoving at Dean a bit harder.

"I had to see you again to be sure, you really are a sweet little angel, aren't you?" His face twisted into a grimace-like grin, his eyes were so dark Cas thought they were black. But that couldn't be true.

"Don't call me that." Castiel whispered, "I'm not anything."

Caplan's face contorted and he stumbled to the bedside as he hissed, "Yes you are! You have to be the angel! You have to-" his face started to peel back and almost rot away into something far more wretched.

Castiel shrieked and Dean jolted upright – his first instinct to kick at the intruder's throat. Caplan growled as he shambled back. He meant to lurch forward again but the door slammed open right where he stood, knocking him gracelessly to the floor.

"What the hell?!" John bellowed as he realized why his kids were screaming at that hour. The not-so human teacher snarled at him and lunged, catching John's arm and hurdling them both into the hall.

Castiel continued to scream, swatting at Dean as he attempted to console him. "Get away! Get away from me!"

"Cas! Cas it's me!" Dean moved past Castiel's flailing arms and held him down, "It's okay," He insisted gently, their faces close as Dean pressed down on him until Castiel stopped moving. "I've got you, it's okay."

"Dean…" Cas whimpered, tears rushing down his cheeks and back into his hairline, "Dean his face… his face!" he pulled at Dean until his brother leaned down to hug him. And that was all Dean could do, just hold his brother still as Cas wailed uncontrollably.

Sam scurried into the room and crawled into the bed, snuggling up close as the awful sounds of a fight roared outside, all of it ending several minutes later with a loud crash of a shotgun firing. Dean pulled Sam and Cas as close as he could, watching the door to see who the victor had been.

Mary ran in seconds later, tears on her face and a scar on her cheek from what looked like a clawed hand. She gathered up her boys, "Are you okay?" She was out of breath, taking their faces in her hand one by one to look them over, "Are you hurt?"

"No, mommy," Sam mumbled quietly, speaking for all three it seemed because Cas couldn't do anything other than cry and Dean could barely shake his head in response. "Why was he here? Did daddy shoot him?" Sam asked, big eyes watching his mom's face.

"That was a bad man, Sammy," Mary worded carefully, "He was here for bad reasons and your dad scared him away." She then checked on Cas, wiping his tears away, "Cas? Look at me, are you alright?"

Castiel whined as he tried to stop himself from crying but he nodded, "I'm… I'm not hurt."

"Thank god," Mary kissed his forehead and then the other two.

John walked into the room; his pajama pants stained red and his torso a mess of scratches and blood. "Cops are on their way," he sat down on the edge of the bed; Sam crawled to him and hunkered down in his lap. John dropped his arms around his youngest and looked at the other two, "Did he say anything to you?"

Cas nodded, he felt his strength returning to him slowly. Though shaken he could speak much better now, "He didn't make any sense... what happened to his face? Was he sick?"

"Very." John nodded and ruffled Castiel's hair, "You okay, kiddo?"

"I think so, I'm scared."

"We all are," John sighed and looked at Dean, "Did he touch you?"

"I'm okay, dad." Dean assured him and tried to cuddle up close to both his parents, but mostly Cas. He hadn't ever seen his brother freak out like that before.

The Winchesters waited together until the police arrived. That night was a sleepless one as questions were asked and all answers made them sound kind of crazy. But no one could argue with how Caplan looked, his face was distorted and monstrous, his eyes blank and solid black. John didn't think he'd believe it either without having seen it.

Castiel watched the officers as they discussed amongst one another about the situation. Officer Jody was there and so was Edgar but they were the only ones he recognized. He could feel their intent, good-natured people mixed with bad and the ones that had nothing to offer. Neighbours gathered along the sidewalk and looked out their windows, none spoke to him. He could sense them too, curious and remorseful but with no words to express. He felt comforted by their good wishes, or at least most of them. There were a few who were hoping for a disaster of some kind, Castiel couldn't understand those types of people.

"Cas?" Officer Jody addressed him before kneeling down next to him. "Daydreaming again?"

He tried to smile at her, "Sort of, I can feel everyone's sympathy. It really helps."

Jody's expression pinched for a moment but she corrected it, "You mean you can tell they're sorry for what happened?"

"Yeah, I can feel it."

Jody came to the conclusion that Cas was just very aware of others' emotional states, and that he had words like 'sympathy' in his 8 year-old vocabulary. Either he was a smart kid or she just underestimated children. "Well I'm glad it's helping, did you want to talk about it?"

Cas pursed his lips and looked over at the small crowd gathered on the street past four in the morning, "Why do some people want bad stuff to happen?"

Of course he asked the difficult questions, Jody adjusted her hat and shrugged, "Who can say? Some people are just twisted like that."

"Does that make them bad people?"

"Not all the time, if someone acts on it then they're bad."

Cas nodded and looked over to where his parents were being questioned, "What happens now?" He asked her again, thinking maybe she knew the answer this time.

"Your mom and dad are going to be taken to the station so we can talk to them without all these people watching," Jody explained politely and kind. Cas appreciated her. "That might take a while so we'll be dropping you boys off at a friend's place, okay?"

"Okay." Castiel walked over to Dean and Sam, neither of them looked terribly comfortable. Sam clung to Dean, tiny hands clutching the cotton of his brother's shirt while Dean supported Sam's weight to the best of his ability. They were sitting on the back of a vehicle, Cas didn't care to note more than the fact that it had flashing lights.

"Did they say anything?" Dean asked softly.

Cas was going to answer but their parents approached, officers not too far away. "Boys," John knelt next to Cas while Mary sat on the edge of the truck Dean and Sam were perched on. "Your mom and I have to go with the police right now, they'll be dropping you off at Bobby and Karen's, okay?"

"Why?" Sammy demanded, tears welled up in his eyes.

"Because there are too many people out here," Cas explained what Jody had told him, "They need to talk secretly."

Sam frowned but didn't push it; he turned and buried his face against Dean instead. Dean placed a hand on the back of Sam's head and looked up at his mom, "Come get us soon, okay?"

"We'll be back before you know it." Mary kissed his forehead and leaned down to kiss Sam too.

Castiel hugged John, "Don't be scared, daddy." he whispered.

John wrapped Cas up in his arms and rested his head gently against his son, "What makes you think I am?" He smiled a bit and leaned back to look at Cas better.

"I can feel it." Castiel touched John's chest, palm flat against it. "I'm sorry you got hurt."

"Don't be sorry, kiddo." John smirked, "I can take it, I'm just glad you didn't."

Moments after that their parents were taken away in separate cars while the three Winchester boys were escorted to the Singer's residence. Karen was there waiting in the doorway, dressed in a nightgown and housecoat wrapped tightly around her. She ran over and hugged them close; Cas didn't like how hysterical she was. She was scared and worried, it stressed her out and he didn't like it.

"It's okay," he said to her, attempting to ease the anxiety. "Nothing happened to us, don't be sad please."

Karen cupped his cheeks and smiled at him, "I can't help it, I love you boys."

Despite what she said, she had calmed down. Karen didn't know if it was because Cas was right and the boys were fine or if it was something else. He was a very soothing soul to be around, she counted her blessings all the same. Everyone was alright.

Dean and Cas shared the same bed as they had the last time they'd stayed over, this time Sam was snuggled up between them. Castiel's back was against the wall and he could see Dean's face in the moonlight from the window. "Dean," he whispered when he felt Sam's light breathing, "Do you think monsters are real?"

Dean was quiet but Cas could see his eyes were open, "Dunno, do you think so?"

"I don't want them to be…"

The look on Dean's face told Cas that he remembered that conversation, or at least part of it. "Have you seen one?"

Castiel was quiet this time and he bit his bottom lip, his mind could only go back to that expression and how he'd seen a face rot away in seconds. "I have."

Dean propped himself up on his elbow and leaned over Sam to kiss Cas' nose, "Well I don't think they're real, and if they are I'll keep you safe."

Cas smiled and buried his face into his pillow, "Thanks Dean."

"You're welcome." Dean grinned and dropped back onto his side of the bed. "Goodnight."


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