I went into this trying to write based on those Dean and Castiel prompts people gave me but this turned into something else entirely. Hopefully, I'll get to those soon.
Title: Sleep My Deep
Category: Gen, Drama, Angst
Characters: Dean, Castiel, Sam
Spoilers: Through Jump the Shark
Summary: Castiel assists Dean as he struggles with his personal mental burdens after a hunt.
Word Count: 2266
A/N: Yes, the title makes absolutely no sense. That's okay.
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are the property of Eric Kripke and co. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This is for entertainment purposes only; no financial profit has been gained from this story. This story is not mean to infringe upon the rights of the above-mentioned establishments.
The water was dead quiet.
Dean leaned against the hood of the Impala and watched the stillness. Not a wave, not a ripple disturbed the motionless pond. Vaguely, he wondered about the eerie quiet, curious as to obvious absence of fish, birds, and other life in the area, but today he didn't seem all that bothered by it. The silence eased his troubled mind.
They hadn't stopped in weeks. Stupid mind wipe aside, he and Sam had been tearing across the country, chasing this lead and that lead, ganking this monster and that monster. He'd lost track how many jobs they'd taken and if they even mattered.
He exhaled and gazed deep into the glass-like water. No, this was good, he decided. He needed this break.
Dean sighed and dropped his head. Perfect. He knew it was too good to be true.
"Castiel," he said, lifting his head. Sure enough, his stalker angel buddy was standing to his right, impassive as ever. "Dreaming?" Dean asked.
"Something like that."
Dean shook his head. "There's gotta be better stuff to watch out there than what's in my head."
The faintest of smiles touched Castiel's lips. Almost. "It's better than the movies."
"Oh, super. Now you're a comic."
"Where's your brother?"
Dean bristled at the abrupt change of topic. He glanced over his shoulder to the Impala. The motion was pretty much instinct for him now after years of watching over his brother. But today, the Impala was empty.
He shrugged. "God knows where doing God knows what." He eyed Castiel. "You probably know more than me."
"I thought you were both hunting."
"Finished that job," Dean muttered. He turned back to the water. Even from where he was standing, he could see through the shallow parts to the muddy bottom.
"What were you hunting?"
Dean looked away from the water to Castiel. He'd started to decipher the angel's subtle cues and based on the slight depression in his forehead, Dean could tell Castiel was becoming impatient.
"What's with the twenty questions?" Dean asked.
"Just answer my question," Castiel said.
"Some neckan or nikke. A nasty one, too. The thing poisoned a half a dozen people before we gutted it." Dean sniffed. "We popped that sucker good."
Castiel nodded in that reflective way of his, one that Dean had learned to note with wariness.
"What?" Dean asked.
"And then you left."
"I don't run from the job. I get it's what I do now," he said, trying to ignore the defensiveness in his voice.
"Yet, you run from your brother."
"When the hell did you become Dr. Phil?"
Castiel leaned a little closer. "I know what it's like to lose a brother."
Dean wasn't sure if he was referring to angels in his garrison, turncoats like Uriel, or maybe even Lucifer.
He shivered at the thought.
"Sometimes it is hard when you disapprove of your brother's actions, but it doesn't mean you love him any less," Castiel said.
"We talking 'bout me or you?"
Castiel fell silent. Dean didn't really know how to read him. Sometimes he felt like he was finally getting to know the guy, build some kind of something with him, but other times he felt Castiel was completely detached. He didn't want to admit the angel spooked him even now.
Dean shrugged him off and reached down to his half empty bottle of beer by his feet. When he straightened, he nearly jumped off the Impala. Castiel stood between him and the pond, his piercing eyes even more dangerous, his whole body seeming to loom over him.
"You need to focus," Castiel said.
"Focus?" Dean leaned back, unnerved at Castiel's proximity. "Dude, you have to lay off the crazy. I thought you were getting better at the boundaries thing."
"You're angry with what happened to Adam."
His grip tightened around the neck of the bottle. He knew it was pointless to argue against it since Castiel probably already knew what he was thinking.
"He shouldn't have had to die like that."
"That's not why you're angry," Castiel said simply.
"So what if he had a normal life?" Dean glanced down at the bottle. It wasn't his problem.
"My Father created many of my kind. Some were favored; some were not. It doesn't mean that He doesn't love us less."
Dean chuckled. "Listen to you, man."
The slight ghost of a frown drifted over Castiel's face.
"Angelic or not, I know BS when I hear it."
"You're not listening."
Dean shook his head. If Castiel was a master of anything, it seemed to be avoidance. Not too bad for a guy who nagged him all the time.
"You have many questions about Adam, but that is not what upsets you." Castiel leaned closer. "You can't trust him. You're afraid."
Dean scoffed. "Afraid? I'm like a regular Rambo." When Castiel didn't flinch, Dean just rolled his eyes. "Adam's dead. No matter what my dad did or didn't do, it don't matter. No need to take it out on the kid." He looked down at the bottle again. "Let him rest in peace," he muttered.
"Not Adam," Castiel said.
Castiel didn't need to say the rest. He made his point through the silence. Dean just held the half-finished beer and stared out into the water.
He wanted to just kick back and hide out by the pond for a few hours. Just a few minutes of peace. It didn't matter if he was asleep. When Castiel had finished playing The Riddler, he'd just wake up in the Impala by the shore and drive back to meet Sam at the motel. It's not like Sam would have been looking for him anyway.
He brought the bottle to his lips and froze. He felt like he was burning and realized Castiel was watching him with intense scrutiny. Slowly, Dean placed the bottle on the ground.
Damn, he couldn't even enjoy a beer in peace.
"What happened to the neckan's victims?"
"The son of a bitch dragged them off. We found one poor bastard, but he was too far gone." Dean frowned. "What's so interesting about a straight-up monster case? Is this important to your seals or something?"
Castiel nodded. "In a way."
"In a way? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"It means you need to fight it."
Dean's frowned deepened. "We did."
Castiel said nothing.
Dean felt his muscles tighten. "Cas?"
Castiel cocked his head, as if he were listening to something Dean couldn't hear. As he stared into the sky, he paused, his intense gaze focused beyond the pond and the trees to an entirely unseen place. Then, his stern face relaxed, and Dean found himself the center of the angel's attention once again.
"I've done what I could," Castiel said. "Now it is time to go."
Dean didn't like where this was heading. "Cas, what the hell-?
Two fingers graced his forehead and, in an instant, the pond, the Impala, and the forest disappeared in flash. In its wake, there was nothing but a biting darkness, raw and cold, pushing down on him with such a weight that he felt as if he was sinking into the ground. He felt a rush of air around him, each gust ripping at his battered skin.
Through the darkness, flashes of color, images, and bits of sound broke his veil of silence. A swift clink of iron. The slick sound of metal on flesh.
Dean arched his back and cried out, but no sound came. His body thrashed, every muscle spasming out of his control.
"Hold on," a distant voice told him. "Stay awake."
He struggled against the blackness, but the temptation to slide back was too strong to ignore. He felt himself slipping.
The iron ripping at this skin brought him back.
"Cas?" His voice was barely a whisper, but horse enough for his bruised ears to hear. "Cas?" he called again.
"No, it's Sam. Your brother."
Dean was surprised to hear the bite in Sam's voice, the disappointment, and the lingering hurt. But whatever confusion Dean felt quickly evaporated as his body began to spasm harder.
He gasped for air as his body shook. By his side, he caught glimpses of Sam hard at work: pulling, ripping, and tearing at his damaged arm. He felt a swell of panic, wondering if Sam's demon powers had finally brought him to the brink, but those thoughts were quickly stifled. Dean watched, helpless, as Sam used an iron knife to dig into his forearm, flicking out sharp yellow scales.
"The iron nullifies the poison," Sam explained. "You remember that, right?"
Dean couldn't find the strength to reply and instead broke into another fit of convulsions.
He felt Sam dig deeper.
The poison felt like ice water pumping through his veins. He felt cold, but his skin felt like fire. He shook again.
"I have them all. Are you with me, Dean? Dean?"
"Paralyzed," he managed to say.
"It'll pass," Sam said with confidence Dean wasn't sure either of them felt. He sheathed the knife and started to wrap Dean's arm with gauze. "The nacken poisons its victims into oblivion. But your awake," Sam said with relief. "You're going to be okay."
Dean was starting to think neither one of them would be okay. In his limited field of vision, he tried to scout the area, looking for the son of a bitch that had attacked him. Instead, all he could smell was the foul stench of rotting fish.
Sam wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and helped him to sit. Dean growled under his breath at how stupid he must look, but he couldn't really protest. Besides, from where he was sitting, he now had a better view.
Everything was wrong. The pond, once tranquil and quiet, clear and still, thrashed with wind driven waves, each as murky and dirty as the last. The shore was just as unclean, littered with pants, shirts, boots, and a slew of personal items he didn't recognize.
Dean had a brief moment of panic and flopped his head down to check if he was clothed. Everything was in order, aside from a missing boot. Thank God for small miracles.
His gaze fell to the dead body of the nacken. He was a human looking thing with a long weed-encrusted beard, odd golden hair that poked around his head like wet reeds, and a shimmering scaled body.
A shimmering naked scaled body.
Dean grimaced. The nacken's dead green eyes stared into nothing.
"They come out every ten years for human snacking," Dean whispered. He was just glad he'd nailed the sucker before he'd been its last snack.
"Just be thankful it wasn't a nix that attacked you," Sam said. "Or else you'd be growing gills about now."
"Dude, I missed out on fish girl sex?"
Sam stared at him. "You're obviously not a hundred percent yet." He paused. "I hope."
Dean wanted to say he wasn't the one that went out banging monsters, but for better or for worse, his voice failed him.
"Come on," Sam said. "We should go. Can you stand?"
Dean managed a nod and grudgingly allowed Sam to help guide him to his feet. He leaned on Sam as they walked away from the pond toward the Impala. She was parked just where Dean remembered her, back before everything had gotten weird.
Sam opened the passenger side door and eased Dean inside. He sat there and stared at the pond as Sam jogged around to the driver side. Dean turned his head when he realized Sam hadn't started the car.
"Why did you go after the nacken without me?"
Dean kept staring. The waves rippled at the pond's edge, swallowing some of the items strewn across the muddy shore. He remembered bringing the Impala to the pond and running after the nacken as it left behind the poor dude it was going to have for lunch. He knew there was no saving the half-dead guy on the shore.
He shrugged. "Fishface was gonna book."
He'd ditched Sam the first chance he'd gotten. All he had was the element of surprise. If he could get to the monster before Sam did, he'd pop him one and Sam wouldn't tap into his psycho powers. It would be a nice clean kill. He wouldn't have to count on anyone. He wouldn't have to watch his own back.
He'd stabbed the nacken with an iron knife. Stabbed him good and hard. He just hadn't counted on the creep shooting poisoned tipped scales at him.
Dean felt Sam watching him, scrutinizing him with the same kind of intensity as Castiel. Only Sam's gaze was harder, darker.
Dean held the blanket closer.
"You're lucky I found you," Sam finally told him. "The victim we found had been poisoned less time than you and didn't make it."
"Castiel stayed with me."
He saw Sam's jaw twitch at the angel's name. Dean wasn't sure if he saw anger, disappointment, jealousy, or something else in his eyes, but whatever he was thinking, he didn't share it with Dean. He started the Impala and pulled away from the pond.
The two sat in silence as they hit the road. Dean felt a growing distance between them, one deeper and darker than the most intense sleep. He was starting to wonder if there would ever be anything to bridge the gulf between them. Part of him held onto the slimmest of hope, but the rest of him knew that this was one battle he wasn't going to win.