Title: The Mouths of Children
Characters: Dean, Castiel, Sam, Ruby
Category: Gen, Humor, Crack
Rating: PG13/T (language)
Spoilers: Through 4.10
Summary: "We still have work for you to do, Dean Winchester," Castiel said solemnly, doing his utmost not to sigh. "This is bullshit," Dean declared in his shockingly high, clear voice. "I want ice cream."
Word Count: 2023
Disclaimer: Pretty sure they’re not mine.
Author’s Note: Semi-sequel to Entertaining Angels, original flavor, but stands alone.
1 | 2 | 3
Castiel was running out of ways to distract Dean.
The shopping had not taken nearly long enough. Dean had bounced from rack to stack to disorganized pile of clothes, but once he had picked out shoes, socks, jeans and a few shirts, he was done. Adamantly so.
“Are you sure you don’t need more clothes?” the sales lady asked, brows drawn together in concern when Dean hefted his chosen items into his arms and hugged them to his chest, new shoes already on his feet. “If it was really a bad fire, like you said, your entire wardrobe was probably ruined by smoke or water from the firehouses.”
“I’m good, lady,” Dean said, nodding firmly.
She turned beseeching eyes to Castiel, and Dean huffed, frustrated with having his opinion discarded simply because he was less than four feet tall now. “Uncle Lucas? What do you think?”
Castiel knew he was standing stock-still, frozen, unsure what to say, his eyes a little too wide for normal. He just couldn’t answer that question. Did she mean what he thought about everything in universe? Which part of it? Castiel had many thoughts, all the time, some of which he knew were not quite acceptable for an angel of the Lord. They didn’t have time for all of them, even if he wanted to share with a random human woman in a department store. Which he didn’t.
Dean tugged on his sleeve, and Castiel turned to him with a rush of relief, inclining his head to listen to his little charge. Dean waved his hand downward, and Castiel bent toward him instinctively. The child seized his collar in one chubby fist and stood on his tip-toes to whisper in the angel’s ear.
“I’m not staying a kid long enough to need any more clothes. I’m not. So you gotta tell her somethin’ convincing, okay? She’s obviously not gonna listen to me.”
“What should I say?”
“I dunno. You come up with something. You’re getting just as good at lying as I am.”
"That is untrue, Dean."
But the child had already leaned away, staring up at him with big, disappointed eyes. "But, Uncle Cas!" he declared loudly, voice full of hurt and outrage. "You promised!"
The sales lady's eyes went wide, staring at Castiel. "What did you promise, Lucas?"
Castiel felt his jaw clench. It...hurt, a little. "I promised that we would get ice cream."
"Oh. Well, there's plenty of time for that, isn't there?" She gave Dean a cautious, conciliatory smile. "You can do that anytime."
"You said before lunch." Dean's voice rose to a bratty whine. "You said, 'All things considered, Dean, I s'pose it would be ack, ack-sepibble if we got ice cream first and then ate lunch after. But only this once, as a special treat.'" The child laid heavy emphasis on the last two words, reminiscent of his adult self in full obstinate, sarcastic rebel mode. "It's almost noon! If we don't go soon, we can't get ice cream first, because we hafta eat lunch!"
"Oh, that makes sense," the woman said brightly.
Castiel eyed her doubtfully. "It...does?"
She shrugged minutely. "In kid logic, yes."
Kid logic. Castiel was learning far more about the human child than he had ever anticipated. Unfortunately, being in the body of little human boy himself had not remotely prepared him for this small, loud version of Dean Winchester. Really, it was almost embarrassing, a mighty warrior of God being so completely unable to handle a six-year-old. He would have to do better.
"Ah. Yes. Ice cream." He inclined his head to small Dean. "Your point is well-taken. We will go immediately."
Dean bobbed a satisfied nod, and held out one hand expectantly. "Soon as we pay for the clothes, a' course."
Castiel gave him Ruby's platinum credit card and let him handle the transaction, watching carefully for next time. Fortunately, the clerk seemed to think that it was adorable, not odd, that "Uncle Lucas" was letting his nephew pay for their purchases.
Dean's new shoes squeaked as they walked out the door. The boy liked that, grinning and giggling all the way to the car, pausing every few steps to push his toes against the concrete and wiggle his feet around, causing more noises. He announced his determination to figure out how to play "Let There Be Rock" in squeaks.
Castiel clenched his jaw again.
They did not actually go for ice cream. Five minutes away from the department store, Dean started to fidget in his seat, and Castiel knew that he would soon be demanding to return to Sammy. He would have to find another tactic of distraction.
Castiel quickly spotted an opportunity and pulled the Impala to an abrupt halt at the side of the road. He was still getting used to braking. Dean bounced forward, of course, since he had refused to sit in the back and wear a seatbelt, and he tumbled bodily into the foot well, cursing at the top of his lungs. Castiel tilted his head and looked at him through non-physical sight for a moment to be sure he wasn't injured, but the boy was merely annoyed. Greatly annoyed. After a moment he righted himself, hair standing up from his head, face flushed, small hands clenched into fists, still cursing Castiel in three different languages. Castiel had never heard Latin so defiled before.
"What the fucking fuck, you fucker?" he finished explosively, pounding his fists on the seat and glaring up at the angel with a gaze of molten green-brown. Which made absolutely no sense, because nothing that Castiel could think of could be both molten and green-brown at the same time. Except for, apparently, Dean Winchester's eyes after he had been bounced into the foot well of his own car.
"It's a playground," Castiel said. "I thought you might want to play for a time. Perhaps try out your new shoes in a more active setting."
"A playground?" Dean popped out of the tiny alcove like a spring-loaded toy and knelt on the seat, staring out the windshield, eyes wide and delighted. "Oh, man, they have swings!"
"Swings are awesome," Castiel said solemnly.
Dean grinned at him, wide and bright. "That's just what I was gonna say!"
He was out the door in a flash of blue jeans and squeaky new shoes, already running across the grass before Castiel had time to push down the locks and climb out of the car. Castiel followed more sedately. He intended only to watch, to be sure that the boy didn't hurt himself. It was an unseasonably warm day, fortunately, and Dean's small jacket (which looked achingly familiar, now that he thought about it) ought to be enough protection from the chilly air. Really, this ought to be an easy task. He could stand on the sidelines, a watcher and not a participant, as he was meant to be in the affairs of humans.
But Dean pulled him in quickly, by the simple expedient of ducking his head a little, looking up at Castiel with big eyes, and asking nicely. Really, Castiel had only one answer to "Please play with me, Cas?" uttered in that sweet young voice. So he joined Dean at the swings, pushing the little boy higher and higher until he laughed himself out of breath, then swinging beside him. He no longer felt the echoing and rebounding of human joy, reaching between them and binding them together, but Dean's pleasure was enough for him, truly.
Then Dean insisted on riding the teeter-totter, which they had not gotten to before. This was a bit more difficult to manage, with the size difference between them, but Dean was able to instruct Castiel (loudly and with a liberal peppering of profanity) how to stand on the other side and control the movement with his hand. It was a good thing that Castiel wasn't human this time, because he would have gotten very, very tired long before Dean was bored with that particular activity.
Next was the slide. Dean insisted that Castiel catch him every time he slid down, despite the deep pile of soft litter at the bottom of the slide which should surely prevent any harm. Still, Castiel did as his little charge asked.
Next, Dean made himself dizzy on the merry-go-round. Castiel had to push. Again.
Then Dean threw up what was left of his pancakes into a group of leafless bushes next to the dumpster.
Then he cried. Even though, as Castiel pointed out repeatedly, he had completely missed his new shoes.
This was not the huge, messy sobs of angry temper, but a soft, slow slide of tears, one after another, weary and aching and in it for the long haul. Castiel remembered the difference between those tears, one of his clearer memories from that time. He scooped the little boy up his arms and carried him over to a bench, then sat, cradling the child in his arms and folding a corner of the trench coat around him. Dean wept into his shoulder, gradually soaking his shirt with tears, snot, and saliva. Castiel patted and hugged and stroked and murmured and did everything in his power not to be disgusted by the profusion of bodily fluids, because that would be too much like Uriel.
After a long time, Dean quieted. He sniffed against Castiel's shoulder for a bit longer, his arms curled up between their two bodies, sheltered and warm, knees still straddling Castiel's waist. He shifted his head out of the wet spot and into a dry patch in the center of Castiel's chest, where he rested, damp face pressing into his breastbone, head a soft warm weight against the angel's vessel, heavy, anchoring, a vulnerable trap which afforded no escape. Castiel rubbed his slender, narrow back, slipping his fingers inside the collar of the fleece jacket to pet over his shoulder blades, still shuddering inside the new Batman tee.
Dean blew out a slow breath, then snuffed in through his nose, hard, sucking back the excess effluvium. His voice was thick and rough, small and cracked. "Cas?"
"Yes, Dean. I'm here."
The boy shifted slightly against him, then settled back down with a muffled sigh. "Where's Sammy?"
Castiel paused, his hand stilling on Dean's back. Not when can we go back, but where.
"You don't know?"
This sigh was considerably more exasperated. "Well, I wouldn't've asked if I did, would I? Dipstick." He turned his hands over to grip Castiel's shirt, tugging it as much as he could with his arms still trapped between them. "C'mon, where did we leave 'im? He's too little to be by himself. Is Dad there? I thought he was huntin'."
Castiel moved his hands to grip the boy's shoulders, gently but firmly, and carefully drew him away from his chest so he could look into Dean's face. The child muttered a protest at being forcibly removed from his warm little nest, but looked up to meet Castiel's gaze. His small face was red and puffy, still streaked with tears and misery, but he seemed lucid enough.
"Dean, do you know who I am?"
Again the tiny sigh. Dean lifted one hand to shove at Castiel's breast. "'Course I do, silly. You're my Cas. You look out for me. Now where's Sammy? I'm s'posed to look out for him. 'Smy job."
Castiel tilted his head to the side, as if looking at the boy from a different angle would somehow explain this. Of course, it didn't help. "Dean, how old are you?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Geez, have you forgotten everything? I'm six! Now can we go see Sammy?"
Castiel blinked, then pulled the boy in to rest against his chest again, purely as a delaying tactic. Dean went, letting himself be cuddled, completely relaxed and at ease. Castiel knew that in a few minutes, though, he would be asking for his little brother again.
And Castiel had no idea what he ought to say.