Title: Here, Where We Are
Author: The Artful Dodger / dodger_sister
Category: Angst, Angel-Turned-Human, Gen, Hurt/Comfort
Characters/Pairing: Dean, Cas & Sam
Spoilers: Mildly, possibly for the end of Season 8/Season 9.
Summary: Dean and Cas talk about fathers and family and finding your footing.
Word Count: 1,315 words.
Date Written: September, 2013
Disclaimer: Supernatural and characters are not mine, This story is. For fun, not profit.
Feedback: Bring it. dodger_sister / TheArtofDodger@comcast.net
Beta’d: By the always lovely, wolfrider89.
Author's Notes: I had to rewrite this story in a major way right before beta-time, because something didn’t click with it. But I really like the final outcome. I empathize a lot with Dean’s issues regarding John and Cas’ issues with his own family and it was an interesting challenge to write this character piece. Also, I love this ‘angel-turned-human’ theme, but this is the first time that is no longer an altered-reality story, which is still a bit mind-boggling to me.
Dean heard Cas slip off in the dark of the motel room and softly shut the bathroom door, hiding away, hiding all of himself.
He had been doing it every night since he’d fallen, since he had become human, and it broke Dean each and every time Cas slid out of bed, soft and quiet, and slunk off to conceal his pain like that. Dean had tried - really tried - to make Cas happy there, with them, but night after night, Cas hid behind closed doors and Dean couldn’t do anything to make it better.
This night, though, this night he got up and went padding over to the bathroom, determined not to let Cas hide it anymore. If his friend was hurting that much, then the least Dean could do was make sure Cas knew he didn’t have to carry it alone.
“Cas?” he whispered, careful not wake Sam. “Cas, can I come in?”
There was a long moment of silence and then, softly, “Yes, Dean. You may come in.”
Dean opened the bathroom door, the light from inside flooding into the outer room. Dean stepped in and shut the door behind himself. Cas was sitting on the floor, facing the toilet, knees drawn up to his chest. He looked so small in his tee shirt and sweats, both hanging loose on him, showing more pale skin than Dean was used to seeing on Cas, and something about it hurt deep in Dean’s chest. Cas’ eyes were red-rimmed, outlined in dark tired circles, and he was pushing angrily at that one tuft of hair that never seemed to want to lay down.
“Hey,” Dean said and slumped against the wall, sliding down to the floor. He sat with his legs outstretched in front of him, feet shoved between the sink and the toilet, shoulder pressing lightly against Cas’ own.
“Hello, Dean,” Cas said and it was shaky and uneven, short little breaths sucked in between each syllable.
“You want to talk about it?” Dean asked him.
“What would I say?”
Dean shrugged. “I dunno, man. Help me out here.”
“There is nothing. I am here now.”
It hurt so much to hear Cas say that, but Dean didn’t let it show, didn’t let his own pain come through. It wasn’t what Cas needed.
“Man, I’m sorry you’re unhappy here…”
“Dean,” Cas said and it was a sharp word, even and steady this time, and Dean looked over at his friend. The expression on Cas’ face was so much like those first few months they had known each other, hard unflinching stone, from what seemed like a lifetime ago, that something in Dean’s stomach flipped at the thought. “I am not unhappy here. I am, in fact, very happy.”
“Oh,” Dean said, because that was not what he had been expecting to hear.
“For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I belong somewhere, like I have a…home.”
Dean let out a short breath, shoulders slumping under Cas’ words. “Then what the hell, Cas?” he asked, trying to keep the edge from his voice.
“I shouldn’t feel this way,” Cas told him. “It’s not right.”
“Who makes up the rules about what you are and aren’t allowed to feel?” Dean asked him. “You can feel whatever the hell you want.”
“But what would my Father think? I am an angel and yet here, as a human and with you and Sam, I am happier than I have been in eons. How could he be proud of that, when he gave me the gift of my grace to begin with?”
Dean shrugged. “Parents are tricky, Cas. You can’t always make them happy, you know. But I like to think that if we’re happy, then that’s enough.”
“How can you say that? When your own father cast Sam out for leaving the family behind?”
“It wasn’t like that,” Dean said and scrubbed a hand over his face. He hated talking about this, but Cas needed to hear to it, needed to understand this. “Dad didn’t want Sammy to go because he thought Sam wouldn’t be safe. Dad had this idea in his head that he was the only one that could truly protect us; from the evil out there, from Yellow Eyes, whatever. But he was proud of Sam too, you know, in his own way.”
Cas was looking over at Dean with deep blue eyes, tired and half-lidded, but awake and alive and right there for Dean to see.
“Yeah, Sam didn’t follow the plan Dad had for him,” Dean went on. “But Dad always loved him.”
“Was he proud of you like that?” Cas asked softly and Dean let his eyes drop, down to where his hands were curled at his side.
“I don’t know. Like I said, relationships with your parents - hell, with any family for that matter - are tricky and complicated and all kinds messy at the best of times. That’s just the way it goes, Cas.”
“But he loved you?”
“Yes,” Dean said and looked up again, gaze locked onto Cas’, sure of himself now. “He loved me. And your dad? He loves you too, Cas. Sure, your shit didn’t always work out, but you were always trying. Unlike some of your brothers and sisters, you never gave up, Cas. And you found something that makes you happy. How could your dad not be proud of you for that?”
They were both quiet for a long moment then, a comfortable silence that stretched over them, and Dean leaned his head against the tiled wall and closed his eyes.
“Then why do I feel so bad for being happy?” Cas asked, a whisper hanging in the air.
“Guilt,” Dean told him simply. “You feel like you should feel bad but you don’t, and that makes you feel bad. Trust me, man, guilt: I could have a Ph.D. in that shit.” When Dean opened his eyes, Cas was staring at him and Dean gave him a soft smile and said, “Human emotions boggle the mind.”
“They’re stupid, is what they are,” Cas told him and Dean broke out into a smile, a slow spread across his face.
“Yeah, they are definitely stupid.”
They stayed in the bathroom, sitting side by side on the floor, for another few minutes before getting to their feet. Sam was awake when they came back out and climbed into bed, but he didn’t say a word and they were all asleep again soon after.
In the morning, Cas brought them pancakes from the diner across the street and smiled at them both in delight when he told them the pancakes had blueberries in them and for the first time since Cas had shown up on their doorstep, wet and ragged, Dean knew the smile was genuine.
“You know,” Sam said softly, shoulder bumping against Dean’s side while Cas busied himself setting their pancakes out, “Last night, what you said?”
Dean’s head jerked up. He had known Sam was awake when they had come out of the bathroom, but he didn’t know his brother had heard any of the conversation he and Cas had had behind that closed door.
“I just…you should know, Dad never showed it. Not to us. But when you weren’t around? He was so damn proud of you, man. You shouldn’t doubt that. Not ever.”
Dean swallowed hard around the lump in his throat. “Yeah, Sammy, you too,” and his voice was raw and open. “We both were - proud of you.”
Cas called them to breakfast then and Sam and Dean sat across from each other at the tiny motel table while Cas brought them each a glass of orange juice from the mini fridge and Dean thought how their dad would be glad to see them all happy and together, just like this - like a family.