Dean couldn't sleep. He had no idea what time it was, but the wan sunlight seeping through the plastic window hinted at somewhere around five. He'd been tossing and turning all night, drifting off for twenty minutes here and there, but no sleep came deep enough to rest him in any sense of the word. His eyes felt gritty, his throat was dry, and he was desperate for some water – though not enough to actually get up.
He plumped up his thin pillow yet again and shut his eyes determinedly, attempting to forcibly will himself into the land of dreams. It didn't work.
Swearing, Dean sat up and turned on his lamp. He staggered into the bathroom and drank greedily from the tap, the water tasting strange in his parched mouth. Then, he collapsed back into bed and picked up Kevin's book, giving up all hope of sleep before the eight o'clock wake-up.
As he read, the uneasiness and discomfort that insomnia caused were eased away, and after half a chapter Dean was fast asleep, his lax hands still curled around the novel.
He dreamed of rage, and fear, and empty eyes that stared into his, no recognition present.
Dean woke up late, feeling as if he'd ingested the bottom of a parrot's cage. He vainly tried to rub the grit away from his eyes, then stormed into the bathroom to wash his face. He'd shower after breakfast; who here would care, anyway? He staggered to the canteen, correctly figuring that breakfast would have been served by now. He slumped down in a seat opposite Charlie.
“Looking good, hotshot,” she commented lightly, swallowing her mouthful.
Dean only glared at her.
Charlie raised an eyebrow. “I'll leave you to your gourmet meal, then.”
Dean realised he'd forgotten to pick up any food. “Fuck.”
“I recommend the cereal today,” Charlie told him. “They have Cheerios.”
“How old do they think we are?” Dean asked incredulously.
“Dunno 'bout you, but I'm never gonna be too old for Cheerios,” she replied around a spoonful.
Dean shrugged and went to fetch his breakfast. He didn't properly register what he put on his plate until he sat down and realised he had a roll and slightly congealed scrambled eggs. “Where is everyone?” he asked, ripping the bread in half.
Charlie shrugged. “Chuck hasn't got up yet, as usual, Garth finished quickly and went to set up Monopoly, and Andy's chatting up Alfie.”
Dean munched his way through the roll, mouth dry even as he downed two cups of water in a row.
Charlie watched him, mildly concerned. “Hey, you okay, though?” she inquired. “You look a little like death.”
Dean shook his head. “Didn't sleep. Dunno why; I've always been able to catch a half-decent night before.”
“Probably the change in the weather,” Charlie said all-knowingly. “You could try nicking a shirt and hanging it over the window some way. That'd help with the light problem.”
“Right, thanks,” said Dean, not even properly registering her words. His head felt stuffed up and numbed, and he wondered if he was getting a cold.
The rest of the meal was taken in silence, until Charlie piped up again.
“So...Castiel talked to you yet?”
Dean flashed her an exasperated look as he took yet another gulp of water. “He doesn't talk to anyone, Charlie!” he exclaimed, wiping his mouth.
“You know what I mean.”
“God's sake.” Dean rolled his eyes. “No, he hasn't. Why would he?”
Charlie shrugged, a smirk playing about her lips. “Pretty sure I saw him looking at you during group yesterday. Though ogling would probably be a better choice of word.”
“Oh, God forbid the man ever stare off into space,” Dean proclaimed sarcastically.
“He was definitely focused,” Charlie informed him. “And it wasn't on space.”
“Just lay off, will you? I'm not in the mood today.”
“And I'm not going to let your mood get in the way of my OTP,” Charlie said cheerily, smiling brightly.
“Need to know.”
“Ah.” Internet shit again. Great.
At this point, Andy decided to take his leave from Alfie and wander over. Dean quickly escaped before he was tempted to commit homicide.
He sauntered into the rec room to have a chat with Garth. He and Mr Fizzles were busy setting up the ancient Monopoly board, using bits of torn-up paper for counters because Raphael had confiscated most of the pieces as health hazards. They tried to convince him to play with them, when Charlie and Andy came back from the dining hall, but Dean refused gently, truthfully saying he needed to take a shower.
“Well, you can always join in if you change your mind!” Garth said without a shred of resentment in his voice, beaming.
Dean nodded vaguely, his attention drawn somewhere else. He wasn't sure what it had been, maybe the sudden emptying of the exercise corner of the rec room, maybe the waves of tension rolling from it, but he looked up to see a nervous-looking Castiel – or rather the person talking to him.
Gordon didn't look happy, and if Castiel's jittery edging away was any indication, he didn't sound happy either. The taller man was hissing right into his face, teeth bared and spit flying.
Silent and face stony, Dean rose from the sofa and walked over, ignoring Garth's questions. As he drew nearer, he could heard what Gordon was spitting into Castiel's ashen face through his teeth.
“I don't ever want to see your face near me again, you hear? You watch where you're going, dipshit, and you fucking apologise when you run into me!”
Castiel stayed silent.
“Wassup?” Gordon's voice took on a mocking tone. “Cat got your tongue? Should I remove it properly for you, you little bitch?”
Dean stepped in. “Alright, that's enough.”
They both turned to look at him. Castiel was relieved, though anxiousness was still evident on his features. Gordon was just enraged.
“What business is it of yours, punk?” he challenged.
“More business than you have being a dick,” Dean replied, voice stronger than he felt in the face of an enormous pillar of bulging muscles and fury.
Gordon advanced upon him, and Castiel darted to his side, urgently tugging on his sleeve, beseeching him to walk away. Dean ignored him. Gordon kept on approaching, closer and closer, until he was a breath away from Dean's face. Castiel was looking desperately around for the orderlies now. They hadn't noticed a thing.
“Listen, you piece of shit.” Gordon's voice was eerily calm, hinting at the hurricane to come. “I don't know who you think you are, waltzing in here like you're some kind of god, but let me tell you a thing. You ain't. And if you keep tryin' to pretend you're any better than me, I'm gonna show you how fucking wrong you are.”
Dean's heart stuttered – not in fear, but in surprise as Castiel's hand grasped his wrist firmly, skin on skin, and started bodily dragging him away. His hand was trembling slightly at the contact, but Castiel seemed absolutely determined to get Dean away from Gordon.
Only resisting as a token effort, Dean decided to humour him. “I don't have time for this crap,” he told Gordon airily. “Go get anger management or something.” And then he turned away to follow Castiel, leaving his back entirely unprotected as he walked away. He was completely unprepared for the 35 pound dumbbell that crashed into the back of his skull.
His wrist was ripped out of Castiel's slippery grasp as he tumbled to the ground, Gordon pouncing on his bared back and hitting his head over and over. Castiel managed to catch his arm after the third or fourth hit; Dean didn't know. The now completely grey man attempted to wrestle Gordon off Dean, and through his haze of pain Dean felt muted fury as Gordon smashed his elbow into Castiel's face, sending him crashing into a table before slumping on the ground. Gordon turned back to Dean, who was now struggling underneath him, and tightened his hand on his throat until he could barely gasp for breath. Raising the dumbbell for the final blow, he let loose a manic grin that chilled Dean right to the bone. Castiel was trying to stagger upright, panic clear on his face as he realised there was no way he could stop Gordon now.
then suddenly Gordon was thrown backwards off Dean, and Benny was
roaring in rage and punching the man again and again and now
the staff decided to get involved and they were dragging Benny away
and holding Gordon down, one man to each limb and he punched one of
them, and Dean saw it was Alfie, skinny as he was, with a stony
expression behind the blood streaming down his face, pinning Gordon's
arm to the ground. And Dean's sight began to fade, and he saw Castiel
above him and the guy looked distraught as he tried vainly to stem
the blood flow from Dean's head wounds and Dean had been such a dick
to him, why the hell did he even care and when the fuck was he
actually going to pass...
Dean came to gradually, blearily staring up at the ceaselessly spinning ceiling above him. He was in a bright place; he didn't know where. As he drifted further into awareness, he groaned quietly. His head felt like it was splitting in two, and his muscles were stiff and sore.
“Dean?” came a quiet, anxious voice above him.
Blinking hard to clear his vision, Dean tried to focus on the shape sitting next to his bed. It was wearing the white pyjamas of a patient; dark hair; blue, blue eyes...
Dean started violently, trying to sit up before falling back onto the mattress with a cry of pain. When he'd got his breath back, he rasped, “Cas...?”
Castiel nodded solemnly. He had dressing on his face and a bruised eye.
“You're talking? Or am I dreaming?” Dean muttered, almost intelligibly.
“You clearly need someone to outright tell you when to stop being a fool,” came the shockingly venomous reply.
“Woah, woah, woah.” Dean held up his hands, the only part of him that didn't hurt. “I saved your ass.” The memories of Gordon and the dumbbell were coming back now, and Dean was more than slightly pissed off by how ungrateful Castiel was.
“Both of us would have been fine if you'd left it alone.” Castiel's eyes were stony, like pieces of ice jabbing into Dean's own.
“You're kidding, right?” Dean couldn't quite believe it. “You were petrified, and the dude was way out of line. Someone needed to put him in his place.”
“Yes, you did that so well,” Castiel replied with biting sarcasm.
Dean glowered at him. “So you only started talking to me to chew me out for risking my hide to save yours? Charming, you asshole.”
Castiel's expression softened slightly then, realising Dean was slightly hurt underneath all his anger. “I'm...sorry. I shouldn't have reprimanded you as soon as you awoke.”
Dean shook him off. “Have you been mute for so long you're still using nineteenth century vocabulary? Awoke? No one says that except in books!”
Castiel's mouth reformed into the hard line of before, and he snapped, “I am not mute.”
“I can see that.”
Castiel stood. “I have no reason to subject you to my presence any longer.” He turned to leave.
Dean reached out slightly and caught his hand before he could think about it. “Hey, wa–” his words were swallowed by a cry of agony as Castiel slapped his arm violently away. He cradled it against his chest, even as it ached all the more for the movement, and cringed away from Castiel, who looked horrified at himself.
“Dean, I –”
“What in the name of Satan is going on here?” came a calm, sarcastic and very British voice from the doorway. Castiel turned, eyes wide, to stare at the dark-haired, short man dressed in a white coat. “Interesting to hear you talking, though, Angel. Don't worry, I won't tell the quacks.” The man made his way over to the desk and seated himself comfortably in the high-backed leather chair. “Just don't hit the bloke too much, or I'll have to suffer him for longer.”
“Oi,” Dean said irritably, wondering what he'd ever done to the man.
“Nothing personal, Squirrel. I just don't particularly like having patients. Three at once were three too many.” The man calmly lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply.
“Squirrel?!” If Dean had been able to get up, he would have introduced the man to his fist, injured arm or not.
“I give nicknames to everyone. Crowley, by the way,” the man introduced himself, glancing at Dean. “I'm the doctor here. Don't get sick too often and we'll get along just fine.”
“You're a doctor?” At Crowley's affirming nod, Dean asked confrontationally, “The hell haven't you bandaged my arm up then? It has to be at least sprained!”
“Actually, you nearly broke your humerus, landing on it like that. And now Thursday's gone and whacked it again, I suppose I'll have to take another look,” the man said all-sufferingly, getting slowly up and stubbing out his cigarette.
Dean glanced at Castiel. “Thursday?”
Crowley hummed. “Castiel, Angel of Thursday, as the myths go.”
“Didn't peg you for a religious type.”
“I don't have to be religious to know my stuff,” Crowley said simply. “I suppose I might put this in a sling after all. You're an awful lot of trouble, you know that?”
“Well, excuse me.” Dean watched as Crowley fashioned a sling and manoeuvred his arm into it. Castiel watched as well, hovering in a way that was obviously bugging Crowley, but the man evidently couldn't be bothered to reprimand him.
“So, what's the rest of the diagnosis?” Dean asked out of curiosity.
Crowley thought for a minute. “Well, there was a lot of bruising, obviously. Then your arm, bit of damage to the throat and quite a lot of trauma to the head, shockingly. Not too bad of a concussion, which really is shocking, so you should be fine in a few days. Tough brain you got there, Butch.”
Dean ignored him. “What about you, Cas?” He looked at the quiet man, who didn't quite meet his eyes, evidently still ashamed of his behaviour. “Why are you in here?”
“Mainly because he refused to leave, actually,” Crowley answered for him. “All he had was a black eye, cut cheek and a bashed head, but he wouldn't go back to the ward until he could make sure you were alright. Sickening, really.”
Dean looked at Castiel in surprise, and this time the other man met his gaze dead on. Dean saw reflected in his eyes a ripple of the determination with which Castiel had dragged Gordon off him.
“How long have I been here?” he asked, still searching Castiel's face.
Crowley had seated himself at his desk again and lighting another cancer stick. “'Bout half a day,” he said around it. “Bit surprised you woke up that quickly, but who cares?”
Dean frowned at the glowing smoke in the doctor's mouth. “Do you have to do that in here?” he whined. “It smells, and I bet you're not supposed to.”
Crowley smiled sweetly at him. “Keep your mouth shut and maybe I won't slip a powerful laxative into your food.”
Dean promptly decided to keep Crowley's secret. “You have got to be the worst doctor ever,” he said instead.
Crowley snorted. “Probably. God knows how I ended up here. He probably does, actually. Likely to have done it himself. Wouldn't blame him.”
Dean didn't know what to say to that, so he said nothing.
Castiel had re-seated himself by Dean's bedside and procured a book from somewhere. It wasn't the science one Dean had seen last time.
“Where's Gordon?” Dean asked; he didn't know why.
“Hm?” Crowley looked up.
“Gordon. Far as I know, Benny beat him pretty good. Where is he?”
“Not here,” the man supplied helpfully. “I saw Redneck briefly, though.” Dean assumed Redneck was Benny. “He just had a set of bruised knuckles.”
Dean frowned. “Is Gordon in hospital, then?”
Crowley snorted. “You're all in a hospital, sweetheart.”
“You know what I mean!”
“Yeah, yeah. No one gets taken to hospital from here, I'm afraid, Nosy. Too high-risk to have you charmers in a public place.”
“So where is he?” Dean asked again.
Crowley rolled his eyes. “No bloody clue, alright? Can you stop asking now? Anybody'd think you were in love with that loony.”
Dean balked. “Ew. No. Just curious.”
“Might call you George, then.”
“Nothing. Castiel, are you going to leave now, at least? Your boyfriend's alive and well. Please leave me alone,” Crowley said with a completely blank face, not even blinking.
Castiel looked up at him and shook his head.
The doctor sighed. “Fine. But when I run out of excuses for Naomi, you're out on your ear.”
Castiel nodded in understanding and
went back to his book. It was silent, and Dean eventually drifted
back off to sleep.
Crowley dismissed Dean from the infirmary after another couple of days, a relieved grin on his face.
“Rest up,” he commanded. “Don't use your arm too much. Don't pick any more fights. Don't be an idiot. Leave.”
Dean was touched at his sensitivity.
True to his words, Crowley had indeed thrown Castiel out on his ear before curfew on the first day, and the dark-haired man was waiting for Dean in the hallway, the closest a patient could get to the infirmary (which was just next to Ellen's door) without a permit.
“Hello, Dean,” he greeted quietly.
Dean just nodded brusquely and walked on. Castiel didn't seem to get the hint, and trotted after him.
“I'd like to apologise for my behaviour with your arm a few days ago,” he said. “It was a reflex reaction, and I didn't mean to –”
“Yeah, I get it,” Dean interrupted irritably. His painkillers were wearing off and his head was pounding. “I'm sorry for ever trying to help.”
“No, that's not what I meant.” Castiel caught his sleeve and forced Dean to face him. “I really am grateful for what you did the other day. The fact that I chose to speak to you is proof enough of that. You are a good man, Dean, and I wish to at least be on good terms with you.”
Dean narrowed his eyes. “Is this your way of asking to be friends?” he asked suspiciously.
Castiel hesitated. “I suppose,” he allowed.
Dean started walking away again. “Sorry, Angel, but it doesn't quite work that way.”
Castiel forced him to a halt again. “You seemed quite eager to be my friend on your first day here.”
“Yeah, and then I was a dick to you and decided we were better off separate. Things have changed.”
“It's been over a week.”
Dean scoffed and tried to struggle away. Castiel didn't let him. “I don't resent you for what you did or said that day, Dean. I understand. I am strange, and it was all too much for you.”
Dean sighed. “You're not going to let this go, are you?”
“Not after you risked yourself to come to my aid.”
“You make yourself sound like some helpless princess, honestly. And Gordon isn't that scary,” Dean said, full of bravado.
Castiel raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, maybe he is. But you can look after yourself.”
“In this kind of place, you need more than one set of eyes watching your back,” Castiel said seriously.
Oh, so that's what this is about, Dean thought. Castiel wanted a heavy. Fair enough.
“Okay, fine. I'll watch out for you, you watch out for me. And now you're talking, you can tell me more stuff about this place.”
Castiel looked reluctant.
“Not so eager now, are you?” Dean challenged. “But that's my demand. I want to be able to trust you, and so you're going to have to be honest with me.”
Castiel nodded. “I understand.”
“So you'll do it?”