maychorian: (brothers in arms)
[personal profile] maychorian
Fandom: Supernatural
Title: Chapter 2: You See Me, It's Not Me (Coming Down Book 3)
Author: Maychorian
Characters: Winchester Ensemble
Category: Gen, AU, Family
Rating: T/PG13
Warning: (skip) Language. Allusions to child abuse
Spoilers: S4, previous stories in 'verse.
Summary: John Winchester has four sons, but to an outside observer, he appears to have only three. Their mission is to stop the Apocalypse before it starts.
Word Count: ~5500 (this part)
 Author’s Note: Coming Down on a Sunny Day master list, and YouTube Playlist, from whence came the titles.

Coming Down on a Sunny Day
Book 3: The Children of Azazel



Chapter 2: You See Me, It's Not Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado was a medium-sized city about an hour south of Denver. The most beautiful aspect of it was the Rocky Mountains rising above the city, tall and blue and just about as majestic as anything Sammy had ever seen in his life. Pike's Peak was nearby, as well as a number of military bases. It was a pretty cool place to live, even if they were only going to be here for a few months.

They spent the weekend settling in. After arriving mid-morning on Saturday, it only took them a couple of hours to move their stuff into the cheap apartment Dad had found for them. Hardest to adjust to was the change in temperature and altitude—San Diego had been perfect, balmy and breezy, just the best place they could have possibly spent the winter. But it was March in Colorado, and their half-day drive had chopped the temperature in half.

Dad and Jimmy both had jobs at Boeing, starting Monday, and they were anxious to relax as much as possible in the time they had. So Castiel took over in his usual ritual, moving around the apartment and painting the sigils, saying the blessings. Sammy went with him, reciting the passages he had memorized and trying not to get in the way. Dad and Dean were fighting with the central air, trying to get some warmth in the chilly rooms, and their two deep voices turned the air blue, battling Castiel's calm, peaceful recitations in a way that Sammy might have found hilarious if he wasn't too busy shivering and searching his mind for the next words to say.

"We should go to the school and bless it," Cas said when they were done, looking at Sammy with his serene gaze that always made Sammy feel like everything would be okay.

"The factory, too," Sammy said, and Cas nodded. Sammy jammed his hands in the pockets of his hoodie and turned to yell at his dad and brother. "Hey, can we take the truck? Or the Impala?"

"Don't let Cas drive my baby!" Dean hollered back, high-pitched with terror. Dad laughed and tossed them the keys to the truck. Sammy caught them in midair, reflexes just a touch quicker than Castiel's, chuckling at Dean's indignation.

Cas sighed as they hustled down the steps to the car. "I don't understand Dean's continuing distrust of me. I would not let harm come to his 'baby.'"

"Dean trusts you plenty," Sammy said. "Just not with complicated human technology, that's all. C'mon, wake Jimmy up. Or do you think I should drive?"

Cas grunted unhappily. "You aren't even old enough to have your permit."

"But I was driving by now in the alternate timeline, wasn't I?" Sammy poked him in the arm. "Come on, tell me. I was, wasn't I?"

"That's not important." They had reached the truck. Castiel stood by the driver side door, holding his hand out for the keys. Sammy dangled them just out of reach, eyebrows raised. Cas huffed out a breath. "Yes, you were. Now give me the keys."

Sammy dropped them in his palm, and Cas smoothly turned to unlock the door. Sammy watched him closely, but still had difficulty catching the moment of transition. It was there though, between one motion and the next, Castiel's body language shifting subtly from a stoic, straight-backed ancient warrior to a gentle, loose-limbed young man in his early twenties. When the jean-clad butt hit the seat and the two slender hands wrapped around the wheel, it was Jimmy in the driver's seat in more ways than one.

He looked out at Sammy with his clear blue eyes, as if surprised to find him still standing there on the sidewalk, staring back at him. "C'mon, kiddo, let's go finish the blessings."

Sammy could only smile and comply. It still got to him, watching Castiel and Jimmy switch back and forth. The complicated dance of it was so strange, and yet so graceful, so quickly and easily done. Sammy couldn't imagine ever having to share his mind, his body, with another being. But Cas and Jimmy made it work. They did it because they had to and because they wanted to. Because they were Winchesters and this was their life.

And Sammy's life was all about making friends with a kid he didn't know and teaching him about the supernatural and how to be prepared for some pretty terrifying stuff coming up. It was a weird life, but it was his. He was a Winchester, and this was what they did.

X~*~X

"Yo, Jake!"

Jake Talley looked up and grinned, catching his friend's high five as he joined the group in the front yard of the school, feet crunching in the frost-brown grass. He blew out his breath, making fog in the chilly air, and the other guys grinned and jostled him. Andre demonstrated a lay-up, falling against Tyler as he came back down, and the guys fell over themselves, laughing and shoving. Jake's backpack shifted on his back, throwing him around with momentum, and he pushed Andre's shoulder with both hands to fend off his weight.

"Hey, look! New kids." Garrett pointed over at the parking lot, and the guys swung their heads over to look.

It was two guys getting out of either side of a long black car that looked kinda like a hearse to Jake. The older guy was probably a senior, tall, crew cut, wearing a leather jacket and work boots, already grinning that cocky grin that told Jake he expected to rule this school as soon as he entered it. The younger kid looked like a shrimpy freshman, snub nose, floppy hair falling over his eyes, a serious expression.

Jake's friends looked away after a quick glance, busy joking and shoving each other again, but Jake stood still, watching the new kids for a longer moment. He was a little more observant than most guys his age, a little more cautious, a little quicker to judge. It came from having a brother with mental issues who needed watching in case he felt like running out into traffic for the fifth time in one day.

Jake knew he was quick to judge, and he wasn't ashamed of it. Yeah, he could be prejudiced, but sometimes stereotypes were all you had to work off, and he needed to be on the look out. He needed to be able to tell someone's character by the way they dressed, the way they held themselves, the way they talked and moved and looked around. He prided himself on being good at it.

He didn't really care for the vibe he was getting from these two. The old car they drove, the classic rock blasting from the speakers before the older guy turned it off, their flannel shirts and heavy-duty jeans and shoes—it all spoke of a certain kind of culture to Jake, one he had once encountered in the deep South when his dad was stationed at a different base. Those boys looked like they ought to have a gun rack on the roof of their car.

They looked like rednecks, not to put too fine a point on it.

The younger kid started to move toward the school, marching quick and with a purpose, and the older one reached out to grab his shoulder. They faced each other, speaking in short, intense sentences. Jake couldn't hear what they were saying from this distance, but it was clear that the older kid was telling his little bro to do something, and the younger kid was rolling his eyes and shrugging his shoulders, telling his big bro to get off his case.

The older kid drew a breath as if preparing for a fight, then held something out to the younger kid at waist height, looking at him with raised eyebrows and a pursed mouth until the younger kid finally sighed and took it. Jake saw a glint of metal. The younger kid made the object disappear into his jeans, and Jake was sure he'd seen correctly. It was a butterfly knife.

These new kids were bringing knives into school.

Jake turned back to his friends, his own face grim, jaw clenched. Jake wasn't a snitch. He wasn't going to report the shrimpy freshman to the adults without proof that he was a menace and not just an idiot. But Jake was definitely going to keep an eye on him.

X~*~X

"Hey, can I sit here?"

Jake looked up, eyes wide. When he'd resolved to keep an eye on the new freshman, he hadn't expected it to be quite this easy.

The kid stood there, holding his tray in front of him, waiting to be invited to sit at Jake's table. Jake glanced around. His friends were looking at him, waiting for his cue.

He looked back at the freshman. The kid stared at him, wide-eyed and expectant, shifting from foot to foot. He didn't look like a crazed murderer. But then, Timothy McVeigh probably hadn't looked like a crazed murderer, either, before he set off that bomb and killed all those people.

Then again, maybe he had. Jake had seen pictures. That mofo was scary-looking.

"Why do you want to sit here?" Jake asked.

"Rhonda said this table is where all the army brats sit." The kid tipped his head back at the fat white girl who sat at the cafeteria door, placidly gnawing through her peanut butter and jelly. She was fond of gossip, that girl, and yeah, she knew where all the groups sat. "My dad is a Marine, so I thought we'd get along. I'm Sammy Winchester."

Jake hesitated, watching the kid for a moment longer, then came to a decision. "Winchester, huh? Buzz off, Winchester."

He turned back to his friends, who were laughing now, all facing inward at their table and effectively putting their backs to the new kid. Jake grinned at them, accepting their props for the sweet burn. He could hear Sammy's feet shuffling behind him in an embarrassed two-step, and then his footsteps moved on.

Jake told himself not to feel bad. He wasn't trying to be cruel, and he wasn't trying to instigate his friends to bully the new kid or anything. He just didn't want to sit at the same table with him.

Later he looked up and found the kid sitting with his brother at a table of older teens. Sammy was looking down at his tray, cheeks still faintly red. His big brother glared at Jake across the cafeteria, methodically shoveling food into his mouth and staring almost without blinking, but when he saw Jake looking, he broke away. Jake turned to his friends, but after that he stole glances at the Winchester brothers every once in a while.

They watched him back. That made Jake the most nervous of all. These guys definitely had a redneck survivalist thing going on. Again, the image of Timothy McVeigh's hate-crazed face popped back into his head. He couldn't help it. The dead little kids made that incident kind of stick in Jake's mind.

It wasn’t like Sammy couldn’t make other friends. The next day Jake saw him hanging out with some of the nerdy freshmen who always sat in the front of the class and raised their hands to answer questions. His big brother had no difficulty finding guys (and girls) to loiter with, either. As Jake might have expected, the older Winchester seemed to gravitate toward the seniors who liked to party. Jake’s dad had told him to stay away from that crowd, but Jake hadn’t needed the warning.

A couple days later, Sammy tried again. Jake and his buds were playing a quick game of football after school, mostly an excuse to throw the pigskin around and tackle each other. After they'd been playing long enough for Jake's lungs to burn, for the exhilaration of semi-controlled battle to have pumped his limbs full of fire, the new kid stepped up at the edge of the field of play, a hesitant grin on his face.

"Hey, can I play?"

Again, Andre and Garrett looked to Jake. They were down on the ground this time, wrestling over the ball, but they still paused to look to him the same way they had in the lunchroom. Their breath plumed in the air with the gusts of their breath, their grins of pleasure frozen in a moment of waiting.

Jake hesitated for a second, looking at the kid on the sidelines, who eyed him hopefully. Then he bobbed his head in a sharp nod. "Yeah, sure."

Sammy's eyes lit up.

It couldn't hurt to play with the kid. It would even give Jake a better chance to keep an eye on him. But it didn't quite go that way.

Jake wasn't sure who started it. It might have been Tyler. It might have been him. But suddenly it wasn't really a game of football anymore. It was keepaway, and Sammy was the target.

It was just too easy. The kid was shorter than them—not by much, but enough. Jake and his friends, especially Tyler, were really good at lobbing the football over his head in a high arc that he could never reach. And Sammy didn't give up, running back and forth, trying to jump for it and failing every time. Garrett and Andre laughed, falling over each other in merriment. Manuel gave Jake a look that told him he disapproved, but he didn't try to stop it, either.

Then Sammy figured out what was going on. He halted, stock still in the middle of the grass, staring straight in Jake's eyes. He was panting and heaving, eyes wide, face pale with two bright red spots on his cheeks.

Jake caught one last throw from Tyler and let the ball drift to his side, staring back at Sammy, silent, ashamed. He hadn't meant to be cruel. It just sort of happened.

Sammy stood there for a moment that seemed to stretch out far longer than it should have, his eyes bright, his chest pulsing up and down as he panted. Then he turned and walked off the field, all without a word.

Jake turned his head to watch him go. Sammy's big brother was waiting there in the parking lot, his hands in his pockets, butt leaning on that big black car. He wasn't looking at Jake, just at Sammy. Jake was distantly glad. He didn't want to see the hurt and disappointment of a big brother, looking in anger at someone who had been deliberately mean to his bro. It was a look Jake had given to other people, and he didn't want to be on the other end of it.

Instead, Sammy and his bro just got into their car and drove away.

X~*~X

The Winchester family dinner table was full. Dad and Jimmy were home from work, both eating their chicken in tomato sauce with tired faces and drooping eyes. Dad leaned back in his chair, Jimmy forward with his elbow on the table, his fist propping up his head. Sammy was quiet, eating in small, careful bites. Dean was the only one who fully enjoyed the food, and it was his own creation. He called it Chicken Parmesan because it had chicken, sauce, and Parmesan, and though he knew full well that it wasn't the authentic Italian dish, he liked it. His family usually did, too.

"So how's it going?" Dad asked after a while, looking at Sammy with probing dark eyes.

They all knew what he was talking about. Usually by this point Sammy was well on his way to making in-roads with the targeted special kid or their family. He was just so darn likeable. Making friends had never been remotely difficult before. Dean frowned, chewing furiously at his current bite of chicken.

Sammy shook his head, not looking up at Dad. That was signal enough that something was off.

Dad sat forward, setting his fork down on his plate with a muffled clink. "Sammy?" He looked over at the other school-age Winchester, raising his eyebrows. "Dean?"

Jimmy raised his head slowly, taking notice of the change in atmosphere. Dean just shook his head. "Something's wrong with this kid, Dad."

Dad frowned. "What do you mean? Is he in trouble? Is a demon already controlling him?"

"He doesn't like Sammy!" Dean waved a hand at his little brother in pure frustration. "He really doesn't! I don't get it at all. Who doesn't like Sammy? What is wrong with that kid?"

Jimmy smiled, slow and tired and affectionate. Sammy just rolled his eyes. "Of course someone was bound to dislike me eventually, Dean. They can't all go smooth as butter."

"Well, I don't see why not." Dean picked up his knife and jammed it viciously into his chicken, pinning it down with his fork and sawing off another piece. He stuck the piece of chicken into his mouth and chewed fast and hard, barely tasting it. "I don't see why anyone wouldn't get along with you. You're a great kid. You're the best."

"Of course he is." Jimmy's voice was slow and sweet. He blinked, and it was Castiel looking out at them with depthless love. "Sammy is a wonderful person. If the boy truly knew him, he would be ashamed of his hasty judgment."

"Yeah, that's what it is." Sammy sat up, straight and still in his chair. "It's judgment. The way Jake looks at us... I think he thinks we're dangerous or something like that. Or racist."

"That's preposterous." Dad smacked a hand on the table, his voice rough and gravelly with indignation.

Castiel nodded, both in agreement and amusement at John's instinctive protectiveness of his sons' good character. "Still, a judgment like that is hard to shake. We will need to approach this boy in a different way."

Dean pointed his sauce-covered knife at his big brother, tacitly giving him the floor. "Yeah, you got any ideas? Found any demons hanging out in the extended Talley network?"

Castiel sighed, shoulders slumping. "I'm afraid not. It seems that Sammy spoke truly—they can't all go as 'smooth as butter.'" The human idiom stumbled awkwardly off his tongue, prompting a smile from Sammy and a smirk from Dad.

Dean shook his head. "Well, that freakin' sucks."

"We'll just have to find another way," Dad said. His voice was low and strained, still fighting anger at the mere idea that his boys were racist.

Cas's eyes sparked, and he opened his mouth to speak. Then a shiver ran through his frame, a brief toss of the disheveled dark hair, and Jimmy was in charge again, frowning, fists clenched on the table. "Don't be an idiot," he hissed, and his brothers and dad looked at him with raised eyebrows and puzzled expressions.

"No, you can't," Jimmy said. Dean and Sammy gave each other a nod. Cas and Jimmy were arguing again. It was usually hilarious to watch, sometimes freaky and disconcerting, sometimes just annoying.

"Don't even think about it." Jimmy raised a hand and slashed it through the air as if his gesture could silence the being in his head. "You can't, Castiel, you just plain can't. It's not even that you shouldn't—you literally, physically can. Not. Do it. You can't show your wings. I know displays like that used to convince people, but you can't do it now. Your grace is too torn up."

Yeah, this instance was falling nearer to the worrisome end of the scale. Dean shared a glance with Dad, troubled and dark. Jimmy and Cas had always managed to work things out, in their own weird, idiosyncratic way, but Dean and his father occasionally worried at each other about what to do if they couldn't. They'd never come up with any real solution. Even trying to mediate between the two was pretty much impossible.

Because of the peculiarities of Castiel's injuries, Jimmy could take charge of their shared body whenever he wanted to. Sometimes he did it by accident. If he chose to, he could keep Cas locked up in his mind indefinitely, and there'd be no way at all for anyone else to interfere. Jimmy was too much of a decent person to ever do something like that, Dean was sure, but still. The inequality of power between the human and the angel added another dimension of difficulty to their relationship.

"Just...stop it," Jimmy said. His fist was clenched on the table beside his plate, pressing down on the laminated wood as if he wished he could physically push the creature in his head. His eyes were screwed shut, his forehead wrinkled with the force of his effort. "Stop it, Cas."

Jimmy almost never called him “Cas.” It was the other Winchesters' term of affection for him. Jimmy called him by his full name, out of respect or habit or something else, Dean couldn't tell.

"Stop, Cas. You want to, but you can't. You just can't. You almost tore yourself in half the last time you tried. It almost killed you. It almost killed me. Our nose bled for two days."

And there, the argument ended. Jimmy held still for a moment longer, his entire body taut and trembling with tension, then he gradually relaxed. His fists loosened, his shoulders came down, and his face smoothed out. He opened his eyes, a slow breath easing from his mouth, and looked up at his family.

"That got him, huh," Dad said quietly. It wasn't a question.

Jimmy nodded, even more exhausted than before. He leaned back, his rickety chair creaking, and let his hands fall loosely into his lap. "He... He's disappointed. Bitterly. But we can't fix this one. We've tried. There's no fix for it."

"There will be," Dad said, firm as granite. "Someday. We will find that demon and make him give back what he took from Cas. You know we will."

Jimmy nodded again, slow and soft. His expression was anything but certain. "I know. He still doesn't like being reminded that...that's he's broken."

And neither did Jimmy. Dean's heart gave a little wrench at the look on his big brother's face. He reached out without thought, grabbing Jimmy's shoulder in a hearty squeeze.

"We'll find another way," Dad said. He looked at them each in turn, Sammy, Dean, then Jimmy, with a long look for Castiel as well. Each of his human sons nodded in acceptance and belief. Whether Cas nodded, deep in the fortress of Jimmy's mind, no one but Jimmy knew. And he said nothing about it.

X~*~X

Dean had cooked, so it was Sammy and Jimmy’s turn for dishes after supper. Dad and Dean took a trip to the range to do some target shooting. They returned at sunset to find the apartment tidied, Sammy doing homework at the coffee table in the main room, Jimmy leaning on the wall beside the window and gazing out at the pale colors of the sinking sun. At the sound of the door and the men stomping inside, though, he turned around and gave them a smile.

Dad split off to clean the guns and put them away, and Jimmy motioned for Dean to join him at the window. Dean stepped over to him, curious. Jimmy’s face was more solemn than usual, a measure of pain lurking in the wrinkles around his eyes.

“You okay, dude?” Dean kept his voice low so as not to disturb Sammy.

Jimmy nodded, but Dean wasn’t sure he believed it. “It’s Castiel I’m worried about.”

Dean tilted his head. “Yeah?”

“He’s feeling pretty low. I’m going to step back so you two can spend some time together. He feels better when you’re around.”

Dean nodded readily. “Yeah, okay. Sure.”

Jimmy’s eyes flickered shut for just a second. Cas’s posture straightened and his hands fell to his sides as if he didn’t know to do with them. And he frowned at Dean, eyes squinting. Dean got it. Cas didn’t like being called out like a bitch by the guy who shared his head. You weren’t supposed to talk about how being around someone made you feel better—it was supposed to be implicit.

But Jimmy had a habit of just saying aloud things that most people preferred to communicate in body language and unspoken assumptions, or not at all. Maybe it came from having another being in his head since he was ten. It was impossible for Jimmy and Cas to hide anything from each other, so Jimmy didn’t have the same sense of personal boundaries that most humans did. But Cas still had some dignity, since he’d been in existence for thousands or millions of years or whatever it was.

Dean gave him a quirk of a smile. “Hey, man. You wanna go sit on the balcony or something?”

Cas nodded, slow and grave. Dean led the way through the kitchen that led to the sliding door. Cas paused at the fridge, opened it, a clinking of glass bottles. When he joined Dean on the balcony, he was carrying a case of beer.

Dean eyed it doubtfully. “You know I’m underage at this point in the timeline, right?”

Cas sat down in one of the broken patio chairs they’d scavenged from some garbage can and set the beer beside him on the concrete balcony. “I know you drink anyway.”

“Only at parties and on weekends.” Still, Dean sat in the other chair. He glanced in through the window to the kitchen table, where Dad was engrossed in his guns.

“John won’t care,” Cas said, which was a good sign that he was a bit messed up at the moment. He usually called him Dad. Dean knew it made their father both a tiny bit uncomfortable and a lot proud to have an angel call him that.

Cas lifted two beers from the case with one hand, the necks separated by his fingers, and flicked off the tops with an easy flick of his other thumb. Dean raised his eyebrows. “Cool.” He hoped Jimmy’s thumb wouldn’t hurt him later.

“Yes.” Cas handed Dean one open beer, then took a swig from the other, sinking back into his chair and staring out over the railing. Dean looked with him, across the city to the mountains and the sunset beyond. It really was a gorgeous sight.

“I didn’t know you drank,” Dean said.

“Only on rare occasions. Jimmy doesn’t care for it. I find that it affects me rather more in this body than it did in the other future. Probably yet another symptom of my mutilated grace.”

Cas set his empty beer bottle down and opened another one, the cap spinning off over the railing into space. Dean watched it go, his eyebrows so high that they hurt, and looked at the three-quarters bottle in his own hand. That was quick work.

“Hey, you got work tomorrow, you know,” he dared to object.

“I won’t get a hangover. That is at least one measure of blessing my father has afforded me.” Cas took a long pull on his bottle, Adam’s apple bobbing. Dean couldn’t help staring.

“Take it easy, man.”

“I’m not a man. I am an angel.” There was a weird intensity to the word, a tone Dean had never heard from him before.

“I know.” Dean reached over to put a hand on his arm. “Take it easy, Cas.”

To his surprised, it worked. Cas let the bottle drift down to rest on the arm of the chair. He stared over the city, unblinking. Dean shivered, feeling the chill of the spring evening, then took another drink of his beer. The concrete under his feet still held some residual warmth from the day, and it really wasn’t bad out at all. It was nice.

When Cas was on his fifth beer and Dean was on his second, Cas spoke again. “I don’t like being helpless.”

“You aren’t helpless,” Dean said. “You’ve saved me and Dad and Sammy more than once.”

“But I can’t do all that I should do.” Cas waved a hand in the air, loose and aimless, watching it flutter and fall and wander in the air like a leaf, or a feather. Or a broken wing.

“You do more than enough. For real, dude. You know things are better for us this time around. You know better than anyone else.”

“I ought to be able to do much more. I am an angel. Being unable to fly is…”

Dean was silent. He couldn’t imagine.

“I did fly. Once. At the beginning. Very briefly. From the house of that horrible man to your father’s car.”

Dean nodded. “Jimmy told me a little about that.”

“Your father fled us, thinking we were a ghost. I had to fly again to catch up.”

Dean laughed, startled, into his beer. It fizzed and bubbled, spurting around the glass, and he had to lower the bottle and sputter, leaning over to spit on the concrete. “That’s hilarious.”

“We must have looked dreadful. Jimmy was covered in blood and bruises, shivering in the rain. I was exhausted, fully depleted after the second flight. John had to carry us into the motel room where you and Samuel were asleep.”

Dean sobered. He took another swig of his beer, gazing over the city.

“That was the last time I flew.”

Cas finished his beer. He took the empty from Dean’s hand and opened two more bottles.

“We were friends, weren’t we?” Dean asked. “In the future that isn’t gonna happen.”

“In a way.” Cas turned his head to stare at Dean, and his eyes were bleak and distant. He was as relaxed as he ever got, tousled head leaning back on the frayed fabric bands of the chair. “I don’t know that you would have called us by that word. But I would have.”

“Was I a jerk to you? I bet I was a jerk.”

Cas shrugged. “You were yourself. You were Dean Winchester, the righteous man, a hunter of mad beasts, a brother and a son. I was an angel, an outside force, an intruder. A monster. I did more harm than good to you and your brother, especially in the first year we knew each other. I thought I was doing right. But you thought differently, and you told me so. Frequently. At the top of your lungs.”

Dean smiled. It almost felt nostalgic, a warm feeling that spread through his body not only from his beer. Nostalgia for a time he had never known, himself, but the tone of Cas’s voice, deep and rich and smooth, made it feel close enough to touch. He’d never seen Cas so loose, so comfortable. It was pretty cool.

“Did I ever get over that? I must have realized how awesome you are at some point. I refuse to believe that I could be a total idiot forever.”

Cas took another drink of his beer, but the pull didn’t last as long, and it didn’t seem as much like drowning. “Toward the end, yes. I believe you did.”

“Well, that’s good.”

They sat there, drinking their beers and watching the last shreds of sunset fade behind the frosted peaks of blue-gray beyond the city. Dean sighed in the twilight, content. Soon he was gonna need to go inside and pee, though.

“You’re still awesome,” he told Cas, rolling his head over to look at him. “You know that, right?”

Cas looked back at him gravely. He nodded, but it wasn’t as certain as Dean wanted. He poked Cas in the arm to make his point.

“No, I mean it. You are. This time we don’t just get to be friends. We get to be brothers, too. That’s awesome. Our family is the best, and I think it’s just great that you’re in it.”

Cas stared at him, his face almost blank, but Dean thought he read a yearning there.

“I do, I mean it. It doesn’t matter how busted up you are. We’re all busted up. But together we’re awesome, and so are you.”

Cas looked away. He finished one last beer, then set the bottle down.

“Don’t try to show your wings to Jake, man. You don’t have to. You don’t have to risk it. It’s early days, yet. We’ll find another way to convince the kid.”

Cas nodded. “All right. I won’t.”

It was good enough for Dean. He rolled off his chair and stumbled inside, burping mightily. Dad caught him inside the door and walked him to bed, grumbling all the while. At least he didn’t whack Dean upside the head. He understood that Cas had needed that drinking session.

Yeah, Dean’s family was awesome.

Previous: Book 3 Part 1
Next: Book 3 Chapter 3
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