Cross To Bear

8 Years-Old: Lighten Up

John and Mary had exited the station early the next morning and went to pick up their boys from the Singer residence. They had to go home to get their car first, but that didn't take long. John rubbed at his eyes tiredly as Mary drove the Impala up the bumpy driveway. They were both quiet the entire ride back, no charges were made against them and John would likely be off on self-defense at the very worst. Mary glanced at her husband worriedly; John hadn't said anything more than a grunt or two to her gentle questions. More and more she thought he was recalling his time serving, and that only led her to think about PTSD.

They slowed to a stop and she put it in park, however as Mary turned the car off John spoke up; "That man wasn't normal." He muttered and looked over at her, bags under his eyes from lack of sleep. "His face was contorted and sunken like some kind of monster." John looked as though he was worried, scared that she wouldn't understand. "They asked me about it, about why his face was so mutilated and I didn't have an answer."

Her expression softened and she cupped his cheek gently, soothing him. "Whatever you saw, however real it was, you got rid of it. You did everything right, John. Okay?" Mary leaned over and kissed him, noting his jaw was trembling slightly as she did. "It's alright now," she whispered as she leaned back, smiling at him. "We're safe."

John reached up and held her hand that had rested on his face while he closed his eyes, a smile coming to his lips. "Thank you, Mary." He sighed and nuzzled her hand once, "You and the boys are everything to me, I just-"

"I know." She kissed him again and curled her fingers tighter around his, "Now come on, let's go get them."

Inside, Sam sat in Dean's lap snuggled in close as The Lion King movie played on the television. The rumble of the Impala wasn't terribly obvious over the soundtrack of the film, but Cas could feel their presence approaching. It was soothing, familiarity and comfort etched into their existence. It was an odd feeling; he had thought so numerous times before he had gone to the front door to wait for his mom and dad. It tingled in his mind and made his skin feel prickly, or at least what he thought was his skin. It didn't show up like goosebumps did, more so it was beneath his flesh and flowed with his blood. He didn't question it much more than usual; something was telling him his dad needed him.

The doorbell rang and Cas went to it, as soon as the door opened John was met with Castiel's embrace. "It's okay, dad." He muttered into his father's pant leg.

John's heart skipped as he knelt down and scooped Castiel up into his arms, returning the hug. "How are you doing, Cas?" He asked as he rubbed his kid on the back.

"Better," Castiel responded honestly, "What did the police say?"

"Nothing important," Mary kissed his cheek and walked into the house, greeting Karen with a smile.

Dean and Sam ran over and did the same thing Cas had done except this time plastered to Mary's legs. "Mommy!" Sam cried and clutched at her clothing until she picked him up. He pushed his face against her and refused to let go.

Mary sighed and ruffled his hair gently, "It's alright now, sweetheart." She soothed him, "we're going to be okay."

"What was wrong with his face?" Cas asked as John stood up, his boy still tucked in his arms.

"He was sick," John answered him calmly, and looked up to where Bobby and Karen had approached. "Thanks for watching the boys."

"Not a problem at all," Bobby smiled half-heartedly, "Everything gonna work out for you guys?"

"Yeah, they might call on us for more questions later but it looks like we're good."

Castiel frowned as his dad went on to a new conversation, mostly avoiding his question. "Dad," Cas nudged him and John turned to look at fervent blue eyes. "His face was normal when he came into the room."

John seemed to freeze up at that, his throat moved as he swallowed past a growing lump, "Is that so?"

He nodded, "He was normal but then it got all scary and… I don't know… it looked like a monster."

"I saw his face after," John told him; he wasn't sure why he told Cas that. Part of him wanted his son to know he wasn't alone and he wasn't crazy, maybe that was because John felt a little that way. "It was very scary, I don't know what was wrong with him but that doesn't matter anymore, alright?" He smiled as reassuringly as he could without appearing fake. "He's gone now."

Cas hugged him again and nodded his head one more time. "Okay."

John and Mary took their boys home after that, they didn't want to burden Bobby and Karen with all of that strange business. They walked into their house, the place had been mostly cleaned but there were still traces of the fight that'd happened previous. Castiel was silent as he stepped inside, his heart pounding in his chest while his mind raced. This was where a man turned into a monster; this room was where he'd died. Blood would stain their couch and rugs forever, he wasn't sure he could erase the imagery from his head. But maybe he shouldn't try to, it was over and a memory now. His mom and dad were okay, his brothers were unharmed, and he was still alive. A sick man passed away but Cas didn't want to forget him, and yet he didn't want to fear it anymore either.

To do this he distanced himself from it and looked at the event from an alternate perch. To see it as it was –a small moment in his life- was surprisingly simple. Castiel exhaled lightly and let go of the feelings, the anxiety and animosity he would have felt.

This process took him six months, in that time he slept in Dean's bed and tried to hide nightmares that wouldn't quit. Every night for six months he woke screaming, or crying, or scared enough he had to run to his parents' bedroom. Every night he woke Dean and his mom and dad, no one but Sam managed to sleep peacefully. But as soon as his mind lightened and drifted from that memory he escaped the awful dreams.

The first morning without a sudden wake-up, Castiel went down to breakfast, a smile on his face as he struggled to get into his chair. Almost nine years old and still he couldn't do it easily, Mary assisted the clumsy boy and kissed his cheek, "How'd you sleep last night, sweetheart? You didn't wake us up."

"Good," he beamed at her and kissed her back, smushing his face against her cheek to do so. "No nightmares."

"That's great news," she ruffled his hair and went to the stove, "Did you want eggs and toast?"

"Yes please!"

Dean walked into the room yawning; his mouth open wide and his eyes squeezed shut as he stretched his arms above his head. It was always his way of informing everyone he was awake and in the room, he did it almost every morning.

"Hello Dean," Mary smiled at him as he wandered up to her for a hug, "how'd you sleep?"

"Mm…" Dean mumbled against her, it wasn't really an answer and he wasn't really awake but she let it slide.

"That's good, now go sit down, I'm getting breakfast ready." She shooed him off to his chair.

"'Kay." Dean yawned again and hopped into his seat next to Cas. He blinked wearily a few times and moments after slumped against his brother, nearly knocking Castiel out of his spot.

"Dean!" Cas whined sharply and shoved him, "Stop it! You're knocking me over!"

Dean grinned and leaned a little more, all of his weight just draped over Cas, "What do you mean? I'm not doing anything."

"I swear to god I'm gonna push you harder!"

He started to press against Cas more than a deadweight should, "I still don't get it, why're you mad?"


"Okay boys," Mary put some orange juice down for them, "Play nice, Sammy's still asleep."

"Sorry," they both said and the moment Dean let up, Cas shoved him right off his chair. The brunet landed with a loud thud and a quick growl.

"Told ya." Cas scoffed at him but it only resulted in his downfall as Dean charged him off his pedestal. The two wrestled around the kitchen floor, neither listening to their mom as she tried to get them to stop before it got too heated. But it wasn't a real fight, Cas tried to hold Dean down and as he failed Dean attempted to do the same thing, repeatedly rolling and attempting to pin their brother down. It did end eventually, but only when they knocked their four year-old brother to the floor.

Sammy had just woken up and toddled his way to the kitchen where he heard his brothers and mom, completely unaware of the mini hurricane that Dean and Cas had been at that time. In their rolling frenzy they collided with Sam and the boy flailed as he panicked all the way to the floor. Cas' back was to the floor and Dean's hands were pushing his shoulders down when they realized what had happened. In the split second it took Sam to figure out he was no longer standing both of his brothers knew what was next. And in that moment they managed to share one expression that captured it all; oh shit.

Sam started with a high-pitched whine that quickly escalated into a fit of crying. Mary sighed and went to comfort her baby while the other two were smart enough to skedaddle out of there. Cas jumped onto the couch and peered over the back of it, Dean right beside him the whole way.

"Sorry!" They both called out from behind their safe place.

Later that day they invited Jet over, he hadn't visited in a while and a weekend afternoon shouldn't be spent cooped up at home. Being cooped up at a friend's place was totally different. And since it started raining as soon as they got him over, Dean started to set up their video games.

"Have you ever played a James Bond game?" He asked Jet as he got the controllers ready for their N64.

"No," Jet sat beside Cas as he watched, "I haven't played video games other than at your place."

"That's ok, we'll show you." Cas smiled and handed Jet his controller, "It's called Golden Eye 007 and it's awesome."

Jet thumbed at the buttons as they watched the quick intro, "So what do I do?"

"It's every man for himself, last one standing wins. We gotta hunt each other down and shoot 'em up." Dean explained excitedly.

"Got it, like every other shooting game except the graphics suck."

"Shut up, you suck." Dean countered and Jet stuck his tongue out.

They got down to playing and discovered that Jet was ruthless; he didn't even hesitate to murder Sam's character. Not that Sam was good at playing, but Dean and Cas tended to be nicer to him. After the fourth time, Sam got mad and hit Jet on the cheek with his controller.

"Stop it!" He yelled as he pouted, "Stop killing me!"

"Ow! Hey, quit it!" Jet pulled away from the four-year old as he ran off. Dean followed Sam out and left Cas to explain it to Jet.

"We let Sam win most of the time, he's not very good at playing yet."

"So you lie to him? That's dumb." Jet retorted in his own defense.

Cas shrugged, "It's not really lying, we want him to have fun too so we ease up on him. When it comes down to it we get the most kills in, Sam just doesn't die so he thinks he wins."

Jet scrunched his nose up a bit, "I think I get it." He looked down at his hands as he thumbed the buttons again, "So… how're you doing?"

"Hm?" Cas was a bit surprised; he hadn't expected Jet to show concern. "Oh, well I'm doing a lot better. I didn't have any nightmares last night."

"That's good," Jet kind of smiled at him and shrugged, "though I heard that people dream all the time and you just don't remember them all. So maybe you did have a nightmare but it wasn't that bad."

Cas blinked a few times, was that Jet kinda trying to help, a little? Maybe? He smiled and nodded; he'd take it regardless of how poor the actual attempt was. "Whichever it is I didn't wake anyone up. I think I'll be okay now."

"I'm glad, sucks when all Dean can talk about is how worried he is."

"Dean's worried?"

"Don't play dumb, he's always worried." Jet lifted his foot and lightly kicked at Cas' side, a playful grin on his face.

"Okay we're back," Dean walked in with Sam in tow, "And Sam says he'll keep playing."

Sam went over to Jet, his face a bit red and the expression still tense. He stared at the other boy for a few seconds and Jet wasn't sure how to respond. "Sorry for hitting you, I'll make it better." Sam said and leaned up to kiss Jet's cheek, making the older boy flinch and blush.

"Yeah, yeah, it's okay." He rubbed his cheek, "you don't have'ta do that."

Sam brightened right back up and grabbed his controller again, "Okay I'm ready!"

Dean smirked at Jet who promptly shoved his hand into Dean's face in an attempt to shut it up. Apparently expressions could be too loud, Cas didn't know that until that afternoon.

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