Cross To Bear

9 Years-Old: Summer Accident

Months later.

Castiel had looked into himself, deep into himself since the incident with Caplan. He knew he was special, his mom and dad told him that all the time and it was supposed to be a good thing. He knew he was different, Dean couldn't feel him the way he could feel Dean, and no one caught on to emotion as fast as Castiel did. Though sometimes he wasn't paying attention and he missed things, generally he was ahead of the game.

Another thing he noticed was that he was far older than the usual soul-searcher. He wasn't that good at it but he did it far more often. While the majority of his classmates asked questions about homework and the occasional tough life lessons, his were considered odd. Cas typically asked more questions involving the word 'why' while not being satisfied with an adult's simple answer. People didn't like to answer questions, he realized throughout his school life.

But summer had come and he let those thoughts slip away as he got enjoy the wide-open space around him. Freedom was his for the next few months and he planned to do nothing more than appreciate it, play in it and let himself go. That summer was the last summer before Sam started kindergarten and Cas tried to get his little brother ready for it – not by teaching him but by helping him savor his free time.

They had a blow-up pool in the backyard; it was the last week or so before classes started and pool parties were the best way to spend the last of your summer. Everyone knew that.

John stood by at the barbecue, getting it ready for burgers and hotdogs, and Mary was out with friends. It was just the boys that day; Jet was over, as he tended to be more and more lately. Cas sat with him in the pool as Dean helped Sammy get his water wings on. Jet raised an eyebrow at the effort, "The pool's shallow, he doesn't need 'em."

"He won't get in without them," Dean explained as he pushed the plastic tube of air up Sam's right arm.

"Then let your dad do it."

"I want to."

Cas smiled and looked at Jet, "Don't bother, Dean's made up his mind already."

"Whatever," Jet shrugged and splashed water at Cas, that mischievous grin on his face again.

Castiel jumped a bit as he hadn't expected it but that in no way hindered his retaliation. He put his hand in the water near the surface and as he moved it caused a wave of water to wash over Jet in return. This of course sparked a water fight and the two nearly splashed a good fraction of the water right out of the pool. Cas leapt forward and tackled Jet onto the side of the pool and tried to wrestle him; Jet was stronger though and forced him back.

In the meantime John walked over and turned the hose back on, attempting to fill the pool again, "You boys like to play in empty containers, don't you?" he laughed as he propped the green rubber snake up on the side of the pool.

"No, it just ends up that way." Cas replied sheepishly, being held against his will by the darker boy.

Dean picked Sammy up and put him in the pool before climbing in beside him. Sam was about five now but he was still pretty small, smaller than Dean and Cas had been at his age anyway. He bounced around in the water using his wings, almost content to just play by himself and float around.

"Play nice with Sam in the pool, okay?" John asked as he went back to the barbecue to check on it. He looked at the boys as they half listened to him and horsed around all the same, regardless of how much the waves were knocking Sam around. It was shallow enough though, Sam would be fine, especially with his water wings. He smiled to himself, content.

"Okay, okay," Cas waved his hands at the other two boys, as their playing got a bit rough he tried to keep it more civil; he wasn't built the same way they were. "Let's play with the blow up ball, I'll go get it." He hopped out of the pool and ran into the house, wet feet picking up grass and leaving in his wake as he crossed the threshold. His dad didn't care that much but if mom had been home Cas knew he would've gotten yelled at.

He found it in the entrance, luckily enough they'd gotten it ready before hand. "I got it!" he called as he turned around with it quickly and rammed it into the open door that had swung back closer than he'd thought. The ball recoiled hard and bounced Castiel backward, his head hit the stairs and he found he couldn't move. All within a second or two he'd gone from excitedly taking a beach ball to the others, to sprawled out motionless on the entrance steps.

Darkness swallowed his vision and he found it hard to breathe, his mind was swimming and he wanted to cry out but his mouth wouldn't work. He felt panic sinking in, he couldn't see and his limbs wouldn't respond. His chest hurt and his head started to ache as it screamed out without making a single sound.

But something happened; he felt hands on him and heard a muffled shout that should have been really close but sounded so distant. It was Dean; he could feel it in his skin the way it tingled and rushed in his blood. Dean was holding him and yelling for their dad, Cas focused on the sense of Dean's presence to keep him calm. Dean was there; he was safe with Dean there.

Cas' eyes shifted to where he felt Dean and saw a glimmer and outline of him. It was a beautiful white glow and he knew it was Dean, though somehow it didn't quite look like him. It was alarmingly stunning and Cas couldn't help but stare, he couldn't take his eyes away despite the mess in his head.

This was Dean. He realized it slowly as he heard the muffled outcry from his dad; he watched Dean's face come more and more into focus. It wasn't Dean's body or his expression; it was Dean's soul. Castiel watched it endlessly, lost to time as Dean didn't leave his side. Cas remained propped up in his brother's lap as commotion around him went unnoticed; at least until someone lifted him up and away from Dean.

"No," he spoke meekly and reached for Dean's hand, "Dean stay with me…"

He didn't understand anything that happened from that point on, Dean wasn't at his side anymore and his senses faded with consciousness. The next thing Castiel was aware of was a light above his head and voices softly speaking nearby.

"He has no injury and whatever concussion he suffered hasn't shown any signs of real damage." It was a woman he didn't know or recognize talking; Cas furrowed his brow and slowly shifted his body around to make sure everything still worked.

"If he's not injured then why hasn't he woken up? Why was he completely senseless when the paramedics showed up?" It was his dad, John was anxious and angry and practically spitting out the words at whom Cas now thought might be the doctor.

"Considering there are no signs of injury we believe he's just in shock, I think we can count ourselves lucky that this was all that happened." The lady explained calmly, just like officer Jody had been with him the time before.

"Oh my poor baby," Mary was there too, she felt sad and scared, Cas hated sensing that from them.

But as he lifted his gaze he saw Dean sitting in a chair, Sammy in his lap. There was a second chair beside them where Jet had been perched, watching Cas pointedly. He nudged Dean, which tuned Cas into the fact that Dean had fallen asleep, how long had he been unconscious?

"Mm…" Dean groaned at the movement.

"Dean," Jet didn't whisper but he spoke softly nonetheless, "He's up."

Dean's eyes shot open and he startled Sam a bit with the jolt that ran through his body, "Cas?!"

"Hello Dean," Cas almost cringed at how hoarse he sounded, he must've been out for a while. "What happened?"

"You hit your head," Dean was scared too, Cas felt even worse for that.

"Are you okay?" Sam leaned over Cas' bedside and he couldn't help but rub Sam on the head.

"I think so, yeah."

"They did all kinds of tests and stuff on you," Jet piped in, "We've been here forever!"

"They wouldn't let us see you for the first while," Dean explained next, "Sammy was crying and mom was crying, I was the only one that didn't – ow!" He recoiled from Jet's elbow jab.

"Shut up, I was the only one who didn't cry."

"You shut up." Dean pouted at him grumpily. Cas was so glad to see them fighting pointlessly, it meant that nothing serious could have happened.

"Cas! You're awake," Mary rushed to his bedside and gently hugged him, kissing his cheek, "You poor thing, how are you feeling?"

"I'm okay mom, don't worry." He smiled and kissed her back. "Everything's okay now."

John sighed, feeling a bit more relaxed as he sat down on the edge of Cas' bed, "You gave us quite the scare there, young man."

Cas felt his face heat up with some embarrassment, "Sorry dad, I didn't mean to."

"I know, kiddo."

The following hour or so was filled with follow-up tests and eventually ended with Cas being released. He sat in the front with his parents, practically in Mary's lap as she held him tightly. Cas could feel their anxiety, how scared everyone was with almost losing him and it made him feel worse for it.

"I'm sorry," he muttered and looked up at them with concern. "I didn't mean to…"

Mary kissed his forehead gently, "No need to apologize, sweetheart. It's not your fault, accidents happen."

He nodded and rested against her, maybe she was right.

Cas was told to take it easy for the next little while, his parents were told several times he would be okay though they still couldn't help but worry about it. Because shock was the only factor in why he hadn't been able to wake up, his injury was a mystery. Dean told him later that he remembered seeing blood, that Cas had been hurt but there was no evidence of that. No wound, no mess, nothing of the sort. Cas thought maybe Dean had been imagining things, it had been a scary incident, after all. But part of him knew the same to be true, that there had been pooling warmth around his head as he'd laid in the entranceway. Maybe they were both panicking.

A day later he sat on the couch next to Dean as his brother played some games. At that point Dean was playing Final Fantasy VII, a PlayStation RPG that Cas enjoyed watching. Castiel could watch Dean play just about anything, he watched the story, the level grinding, and even tried to help when Dean got stuck. It was fun, kind of like they were playing together despite Cas not having a controller of his own.

Jet was over again, slumped on the floor with his back against the couch (though it was more his shoulder blades majority of the time as he slipped further down). He let Sam run toy cars over his stomach and up his head without flinching or getting annoyed; it seemed to entertain them both. Cas wasn't surprised, not everyone could sit and watch something like that so easily.

"Have you played this before?" Jet asked after a little while of watching Dean run around the same area over and over again.

"Nope," Dean admitted, "Dad played it once but I wasn't paying attention when he did, so I'm not sure what's gonna happen."

"Or what to do when we're stuck," Cas added sheepishly, "But it's okay, we'll figure it out."

Jet nodded quietly and pulled himself to be upright again, "So… what're you supposed to be doing right now?"

"Well I'm s'posed to go talk to Tifa but she's in this Corneo guy's mansion and I haveta get inside." Dean explained as he ran up to the area he was referring to. "But they only let girls in and Aeris wants me to dress like one, but I think there's another way to do it."

"Just dress him up," Cas insisted, "There's nothing wrong with it."

Dean frowned and shrugged, "Well I guess but… I dunno, I thought maybe I could do something else."

"It'll be funny, just do it." Jet urged him on.

"But Cloud's supposed to be badass! He wouldn't dress up."

"He would if he had to save his friend," Cas said matter-of-factly though it sounded more condescending than anything else.

"Fine! Geez, I'll do it." Dean gave in and went to the dress shop as directed earlier. Several random encounters and events that the boys didn't fully understand later, the deed was done and they had the story.

Jet slumped back again and glanced at Sammy who had moved on from cars to plastic dinosaurs. "You're starting kindergarten soon, huh?" He asked with a smile and Sam nodded.

"Uh huh, Cas says I'll like it there so I think it's okay."

Jet nodded, "Yeah, you're a little smarty-pants, you would like it there."

Sam stuck his tongue out at their friend, "You're just jealous 'cuz I'm smarter than you."

"That's right, Sammy," Dean grinned as Jet's face pinched in irritation, "you tell 'im."

"Shut it, Winchester," Jet shoved Dean playfully, "Don't encourage that! He might actually believe it!"

"But it's true so he should believe it," Cas smiled at him and Jet shoved Cas' leg too.

"Jerks," he laughed and dropped it. "What do you think you'll like most, Sam?"

Sam sat for a thoughtful moment and lit up with an answer, "The toys!"

The three older boys snickered, "I guess those were fun, but you'll have to share." Jet told him and Sam pursed his lips.

"I will?"

"Yep, there'll be lots of people there to share them with so be nice." Castiel reached over and rubbed Sam on the head, "Not like some people we know." He gently nudged Jet as he leaned back to his spot.

"I shared," Jet protested a little loudly.

Dean scoffed, "When you were yelled at, maybe."

"Shut up, I was a great sharer."

Sam smiled and looked down at his toys, "I changed my mind," the others looked over at him, "I wanna make friends like you guys."

Cas felt warmth reach his cheeks as he smiled back at Sam, Dean continued to grin and Jet laughed softly.

"Good luck with that, we're pretty awesome." Jet had said.

Cas nodded, "But if you don't find people like us it's okay, you still have us."

"Thanks Cas." Sam got up and hugged his brother, "I love you, don't get hurt anymore, 'kay?"

Castiel huffed out a laugh, "I'll see what I can do, Sam."

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