Title: The Mouths of Children
Characters: Dean, Castiel, Sam, Ruby
Category: Gen, Humor, Crack, Hurt/Comfort
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: 1929
Disclaimer: Pretty sure they’re not mine.
Author’s Note: Semi-sequel to Entertaining Angels, original flavor, but stands alone. I think we're coming up on the end here, folks.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Sam was supposed to be asleep. They all said so—the nurse, Castiel, even his own body. His eyes just kept popping open, though, feverish and aching.
Dean was awake and lively again, trying to be quiet while he bounced off the walls. Sometimes he played with a slinky he had procured somewhere, sometimes he hung off the arm of his patient angel, and sometimes he came over to the bed to stare at Sam with big worried eyes. As far as Sam could tell, though, the little-kid memories remained in control. The adult Dean, Sam's Dean, didn't come back.
What if he never came back? What if Ruby was really hurt, or exorcised; what if she couldn't reverse her accidental magic? What if Dean was never himself again, stuck forever in the mind and body of a little child, like some kind of brain damage? Or maybe it was more like...soul damage.
Sam's eyes popped open again.
He became so fuzzy with anxiety and exhaustion that the world gained a shiny, blurred edge, indistinct and uncomfortable. He was aware of Castiel's grim face, dark eyebrows lowered, unblinking eyes staring at him for an indeterminate length of time. The angel snagged Dean on one of his Billy-from-Family-Circus-like circuits of the room and crouched down to murmur warmly in his ear.
The next Sam knew, Dean was curled up next to him on the bed, on his side facing Sam with his fists drawn up to his narrow chest, stocking feet digging into Sam's thighs. As Sam blinked at him in sleepy confusion, Deaan wriggled his head closer on the pillow until his breath tickled Sam's nose, smelling of sour and sweet and ice cream. "It's okay, Sammy," Dean whispered, "I'll stay with you till you fall asleep."
Sam considered for a moment, distantly aware that his train of thought was not strung in anything like a logical order. Then he turned on his side, facing his brother, and curled up, pushing his legs up into the little boy's feet and bending his forehead until it touched Dean's. Peace covered them both like a thick, warm quilt, and Sam fell asleep like that.
Later there was the sensation of a strong hand shaking his shoulder, Castiel's voice urgent in his ear. "I must join my brothers in battle. You will be all right? You will look after Dean?"
Sam's eyelids strained to open, heavy and gummed together, and couldn't quite make it. "Mm hmm," he managed. He could feel Dean's small body tucked up against him, sheltered, his. "Jus' make sure the nurses don' kick him out."
"I will make him less noticeable." Sam forced one eye open long enough to see Castiel trace a sigil on Dean's forehead and murmur something over him in a language Sam didn't recognize. The lights from the monitors illuminating him in the blue darkness of the room made him look eerie, even more otherworldly than usual. When he finished, he looked back to Sam. "When other humans look at Dean, whatever he is doing will seem ordinary and natural, nothing to take note of. It is how my brethren are able to pass unnoticed in the world."
"Cool." Sam let his eye fall shut again, content. A short gust of wind ruffled airy fingers through his hair, and he knew Castiel was gone.
Dean woke when one of the nurses came in to check Sam's vitals. In the process of getting to Sam's arm, she was forced to jostle Dean, seeing as how Sam had somehow managed to entwine both orangutan arms all the way around Dean in his sleep, like the giant girl he was. Dean lay very still, waiting for the nurse to kick him out, but she didn't. She didn't acknowledge Dean at all, just shifted him impersonally to the side, otherwise completely focused on Sam.
Dean was both weirded out and relieved. He kept one wary eye on the nurse until she left, then finally shoved his way out of Sam's cuddle-monster grip and sat up on the bed. "Even in your sleep, Sammy," he muttered, carefully quiet enough that he wouldn't wake the kid. For a moment he wondered how he had ended up sleeping there—he couldn't remember going to bed, couldn't remember, well, much of anything. But he shook it away quickly. Wasn't worth wondering about.
Right now he had other things to take care of. First: pissing like a racehorse. Second: stretching these ridiculously tiny legs. Third: conning someone out of a snack or something, 'cause he was starving.
Dean dangled his legs over the edge of the bed, yawned, smacked his lips, and rubbed his eyes with his fists. Huh. Castiel was gone. Dean guessed he had finally figured out that he had more important things to be doing. Took him long enough. And no, he was not at all disappointed—stupid angel needed to be off doing angely things, not hanging out in a hospital room watching the Winchester brothers lie around.
Dean slid off the bed and shuffled into the bathroom to take care of business, then wandered out into the hall, looking for a jar of lollipops or a muffin basket or a soft-hearted nurse. The hallway wasn't exactly dark and deserted...this was a hospital, after all, always something going on...but it was dim and sparsely populated. Dean padded along in his white socks, looking all around. His stomach grumbled pitifully and he patted it, murmuring reassurances. Poor thing had been sadly neglected, as far as he could tell, but Dean was back now and he would take care of it.
He peeked into a few rooms as he passed, wondering if Ruby was on the same floor. He couldn't remember if the doctors had finally told Sam anything about what was going on with her, or if she'd just fallen off the radar. Frankly, he was okay with it either way. Except that he needed her to change him back, once she got off her butt and figured out what the hell she'd done to him. He was tired of being small, tired of the emotions constantly popcorning around in his wee brain pan, tired of having to struggle to open doors and climb up on the toilet. Though, granted, her burst of unfocused magic could have done a lot worse things to him...
Dean shuddered and kept walking. He found a nurse's station and hauled himself up to peek over the counter, making big eyes at the nice-looking black lady behind the desk. She was bent over a folder, quietly reading. "Excuse me, ma'am?" he said in his very most polite and sweet voice. It had served him well earlier in the day, before Castiel had come and he'd had to deal with this untenable situation with only his sharp wits and munchkin-sized body.
She didn't look up, didn't seem to hear him at all. Dean's forehead wrinkled, a slow churning of unease starting low in his belly. This was starting to seem all too familiar.
"Excuse me? Lady?" he tried again, louder, more petulantly. "Please? I need help."
Never mind. She wasn't so nice-looking after all. Dean dropped back down from his tip-toes and frowned deeply to himself. Being ignored was no fun at all. Was this what kids had to put up with all the time? No wonder he had so few fond memories of being this age.
Surely someone else would help him out, though. They'd been plenty happy enough to coo over him earlier. Maybe this lady was just really busy or something, probably had patients she had to take care of. Dean peeked at her over the counter again, his eyes just barely high enough, and whispered an apology that he was sure she wouldn't hear, sorry for bothering her.
Dean walked on down the hall, looking for someone else. His first problem was the scarcity of any hospital personnel, period. And anyone he did find was apparently really, really busy. Dean huffed and rubbed his grumbling stomach, keeping an eye peeled for a stray plate of brownies or something. Maybe he should just go down to the cafeteria. Even if they were locked up for the night, he could definitely pick any locks they could throw at him.
So it was without much hope that he turned a corner and saw a guy in a paramedic's uniform standing around holding up the wall. "Hello?" Dean offered, slowly shuffling closer. "You busy, mister?"
The guy straightened and turned toward him, a ready grin lighting his face. He crouched down to be more on Dean's level, but not too far. Not condescending, just meeting Dean where he was. "Not too busy for you, kiddo. Where are your parents? You wandering around here alone? That's not safe." He shook his head in mild disapproval, reaching out a hand in gentle invitation.
Ah, Dean knew how to play this one. He sidled toward the paramedic, not too eagerly, and hesitantly reached out to take his hand. "M'brother's got a owie head. I was sleeping in his room and I woke up and I'm really, really hungry. Don't know where my parents went. They're probably talking to the doctors again." He let his lower lip quiver. "They've been talking to the doctors a lot. Is that bad?"
"Aw, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about, little fella." The paramedic tugged on his hand, leading him back the way he came. Dean followed willingly, stringing this out. "The doctors around here, they talk all the time. Blah blah blah, that's what they do." He pitched his voice high and silly, and Dean giggled dutifully.
"Can I have some chips?" he asked. "Or a candy bar? My stomach is making the rumblies."
The paramedic hesitated, glancing down at him, then grinned again. "Sure, I don't see why not. C'mon, I'll take you to the vending machines. Then we gotta get back to your brother, okay?"
"Okay!" Dean hurried along more happily, even putting a skip in his step. He'd known this would be easy, once he found someone who would pay attention to him. Sometimes being a midget wasn't so bad.
The guy was slenderly built, but his grip on Dean's hand was firm, strong. He led the way around several corners Dean hadn't seen before, onto the elevator to move down a couple of floors. The few people they passed barely even glanced at them. Dean guessed it must not be that unusual to see an EMT leading around a little kid in stocking feet. Or something.
That niggle deep down in his gut was starting up again, though. Something was off. He just didn't know what it was.
"Here we are!" The paramedic grabbed Dean's shoulder and shoved him through a heavy swinging door, letting go just as quickly. Dean stumbled and almost fell, but ran into a heavy cart and kept himself from falling. He straightened, panting, instantly half-panicked. This room was dark and small and crowded with janitor supplies, and there was nothing here that looked like chips or candy bars.
"Hey, this isn't the vending machine!" Dean turned to the door, childish pique heightening his voice. Not fear. He wasn't afraid, he wasn't. "What is this? Where am I?"
"You're right where I want you." The paramedic gave him that easy grin again, stepping inside and closing the door behind him, and this time his eyes were black.
Dean sucked in a quick breath, feeling his head waver, feeling it slip. And then he started to scream.