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: 1906
Disclaimer: Pretty sure they’re not mine.
Author’s Note: Semi-sequel to Entertaining Angels, original flavor, but stands alone. This last episode has made me re-evaluate a few things, but I think the story will be better for it. Still, I apologize for any shifts in characterization you may notice. It's hard to be consistent when your understanding of the characters and their situation is continually evolving.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Dean was asleep. His limp form was heavy in Castiel's arms, weighty and solid in a way the angel had never felt before. It was the weight of complete and utter trust. Asleep and small like this, Dean was utterly helpless, utterly dependent on Castiel to keep him safe and sheltered and free from harm. The boy had entered into this state willingly, yawning and blinking sleepily for a few seconds, then snuggling his head down into the folds of Castiel's coat and closing his eyes, just like that, no hesitation, not even the slightest murmur of unease. He just gave himself over to Castiel's care in a way that adult Dean had never done, and Castiel was sharply, wrenchingly aware of exactly how precious this gift was.
It was a responsibility to make even an angel shiver with uncertainty.
It had been hard enough to keep an eye on Dean Winchester when he was a stubborn, strong, infuriating man, fresh from the unbearable torture of the Pit and still somehow unbroken, hard and unbending, snarling his doubt and his lack of faith straight into the face of the warrior of God who had raised him from perdition. That really took some...how did the humans say it? That took some brass monkey balls, something like that, though trying to imagine what those looked like and why Dean would have some made Castiel's head ache. Again. Humans and their metaphors were so incomprehensibly opaque sometimes.
Over the following months he had watched Dean slowly collapse into himself as all he had seen and suffered and done rose around him, deafened him, buried him, and slowly began to tear him apart. It was like watching a vivisection being done one slow, excruciating cut at time, cruel and inexorable and wrongwrongwrong. When a tree refused to bend to the wind, eventually it snapped. Castiel was afraid that Dean—bold, brave, unbending Dean—would suffer the same fate.
Watching all of this, knowing the task that waited for Dean, what would eventually be asked and demanded of him... It had made Castiel question everything. Everything.
This man...still a boy in so many, many ways, despite everything he had been through (and literally a boy as well, for this moment)...this man had suffered enough. Castiel had watched on the sidelines, chained by his orders, by his very nature, for far too long already. And now, sitting on this park bench with this soft, warm weight filling his arms, resting against his chest, he was forced to acknowledge the not-quite-angelic urge that had begun to rise in him.
He didn't want Dean to suffer anymore. He would do anything, anything in his power and that was not forbidden, to prevent it. And, increasingly, he felt the surging fire of holy wrath aimed at anyone and anything that dared to harm this human in his charge, like points of painful light piercing him head to toe, wingtip to wingtip. The terrible things that kept happening to Dean, over and over, again and again...it simply was not just. It was not right. And Castiel would not bear it idly any longer.
About the same time that Castiel started to wonder what exactly he was going to do about this new determination, he became aware of a hard little lump digging into his side, pressed between his body and Dean's. It wasn't one of Dean's knees or elbows or other knobby corners, which he had already had to deal with—the shape was rectangular and regular, too symmetrical to be organic. With a slight wince, Castiel carefully shifted Dean aside just enough to worm a hand in between them and dig the object out of the boy's jacket pocket.
It was Dean's cell phone. Castiel eyed it doubtfully. Then he realized.
He could use this to call Ruby and demand some answers.
The first problem was that he would have to unwrap both arms from around Dean in order to use the small device. He didn't want to let go. But he forced himself to do so, eventually, then opened the phone with a judicious use of strength, well aware that he could accidentally destroy it if he let loose even the slightest touch of power. He worked out which way was right-side up, then stared in consternation at all the little buttons. Where was the directory? He knew there was supposed to be a directory of some sort, somewhere inside these little things.
Fortunately, punching a few buttons at random seemed to accomplish something. The name "Sam" briefly flashed on the screen, and a ringing buzz started to emanate from the speaker. Castiel warily lifted the device to his right ear, holding it a couple of inches away, just in case.
For a few moments, he was afraid that nothing would happen. Sam was probably still comatose, and Castiel had no idea where his phone was. Just when he was thinking about trying to find the button to turn it off, though, Ruby's voice blasted out of the speaker, loud and harried. "What?"
Castiel's voice went low with danger. His Grace roiled within him, longing to snap out and wreak divine vengeance, but he held it in check. Still, he was aware of the cell phone's screen flickering slightly in the corner of his vision.
"Cas?" Ruby's voice lowered cautiously, instantly nervous. As well it should. Castiel was not in the mood to be as forgiving and loving as his Father, not right now.
"Don't call me that." Castiel didn't understand why Dean seemed to prefer that strange nickname. Still, he was sure that he would not find it pleasant coming out of any other mouth, and coming out of this one it sounded almost like blasphemy.
"Whatever. Just tell me what's going on."
"Something has happened to Dean. The spell you performed on him seems to be progressing."
Ruby was silent, digesting this. At least she seemed fully cognizant of just how serious this was. When she spoke, her voice was subdued. "What are you talking about?"
"He has lost all of his memories, fully regressing to the age his body seems to be. He appears to still know me, but I am uncertain if he is aware of my true nature and why I am here. He believes that his father is still alive and Samuel is a baby."
"Wow. Um..." She cleared her throat. "That's pretty bad."
"I am aware. If you have struck him with yet more magic..."
"I didn't!" There was true panic in the demon's voice, and Castiel felt a surge of righteous satisfaction. Good. She should be scared. "I swear, I didn't. Not consciously, that's for sure. All I'm thinking about right now is Sam and how to fix him. I'll swear it on heaven or earth or anything you want."
A low growl rumbled through Castiel's chest, vibrating the small head that rested there. "Swear not at all, neither by heaven, which is God's throne, nor by the earth, for it is His footstool. But let your yea be yea and your nay, nay."
Silence for a moment. "Uh. That's from the Bible, isn't it?"
"The fifth chapter of Matthew, yes."
"All right." He could practically hear her suppressing a sigh, the same as he had been doing all day long. "Nay, I did not do any magic on Dean. Any more magic, I mean. Are you satisfied?"
"Not exactly. But I appreciate the effort."
"Yeah, okay. Are we done here? I need to get back to it."
Castiel paused, then nodded slightly, forgetting that she couldn't see him. "Very well. Please do everything you can for Sam. Is his condition unchanged?"
"He's still lying there like a particularly useless sack of empty meat, if that's what you mean."
The angel's lip curled slightly at this distasteful image, but he kept his voice calm. "Please keep me informed."
He shut the phone on the sound of her still talking, voice sharp and sarcastic, and slipped it into his own pocket. These small devices could prove to be very useful. Humans and their immense ingenuity...such a marvel they were at times. When they weren't being stubborn and infuriating, of course.
Castiel sat on the park bench, cradling the human child in his arms and trying to soak in the peace that this interlude offered. If he were truly human he might feel the chill of the air or the loneliness of this small park, only the sound of cars passing on the road to accompany him. But he was an angel, and the world here was full of light and beauty.
Eventually the little boy stirred sluggishly, rubbing his face against Castiel's breast as he surfaced from sleep. Dean went suddenly still, face hidden, voice muffled. "Dude. What the hell."
Castiel looked sharply down at him, though all he could see was the top of the child's golden head. "Dean?"
Despite his evident surprise, Dean did not draw away, still resting limp and relaxed against the larger body. He turned his head to the side and smacked his lips. "Holy shit. What happened? Tastes like something threw up in my mouth and then died there. Gross."
"You did throw up. Then you cried, and fell asleep."
Dean raised his head, then, peering up at Castiel with bleary eyes, small form still circled by the angel's arms. "I did?"
"Yes." Castiel squinted down at him. "What's the last thing you remember?"
"Um...we were playing on the teeter-totter." Dean snickered and put his head back down on Castiel's chest. "You were awful at it, man. Totally clueless."
Without thinking about it, Castiel rubbed the boy's back, helping him wake up a bit more. "Dean...this may seem like an odd question, but how old are you?"
"I'm thirty, dude. I know I don't look like it, but in this I speak truth." Dean shook his head from side to side, then pushed away, pulling out of Castiel's grip. "Ungh, I hate this roadkill taste. Is there a water fountain somewhere around here?"
He scrambled to his feet, then swayed dangerously, still half-encased in sleep and weariness. Castiel gripped his narrow shoulder in one hand to steady him, and Dean seemed to lean into the touch, accepting his help. "C'mon, Cas. Water fountain? This feels freakin' nasty."
"Over here." Castiel led the way, his hand still on the shoulder that barely reached the level of his waist. Once they reached the concrete pylon with its central bowl and metal tap, he lifted the boy up to give him full access to the water. Dean drank and spit, gargled and splashed, and generally seemed to be enjoying the frigid water far more than most thirty-year-old men would. Castiel felt a flutter of worry in his chest, but when Dean was finally done and asked to be lowered to the ground again, his speech was as foul as ever.
"Okay, that's better, less shit more sour," Dean said cheerfully, heading back toward the Impala, "but it's totally time for ice cream now, for real."
Castiel trotted to keep up, an indefinable sense of wariness pressing in on the edges of his awareness. This was not even remotely good, and he wasn't at all sure how he should deal with it.
He was so completely focused on Dean that he almost didn't see the demon until it was too late.