Title: Little Boy Blue
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Category: Drama, Crack, Hurt/Comfort, Kidfic
Characters: Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, Castiel
Summary: Takes place during "Weekend at Bobby's." Why were Sam and Dean so rushed in killing the lamia? Features an age-regressed and whumped on Castiel. 2847 words.
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
Notes: For Lyl, who always loves me to write kidfics for her. Thanks for the beta, too. All remaining mistakes are my own.
This one's more serious than most, despite the premise, but it's a little lacking in rational sense, hence the 'crack' tag. Also, the management does not condone leaving babies (that can roll) alone on the bed. It should not be done, hear me?
Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn...
The piper's at the till
He's coming for the kill
Luring all our children underground in Babylon.
-Emmylou Harris, "Time in Babylon"
Dean remembers doing this when Sam was small, when he started teething, and nothing could keep him settled at night. But that was Sam, and that was years and years ago, and this is definitely not the same.
For starters, Sam never came knocking on the motel door, with a soft sound like wind. And he'd never opened the door to find him, slumped against it, eyes glazed over, coat torn, splattered with blood.
Well, that last part has happened before, but never when...never when Sam was little. And, okay, he's just - just trying to keep from falling apart here, because this is not ever, ever, something he pictured happening.
As Cas squirms closer to Dean, a soft whimper winds itself out from him, and Dean sucks in breath, and that's when the door comes open and he looks up, eyes wide.
It's Sam, of course, and for a few moments, he doesn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, long enough for Dean to close down whatever emotion was blazing from his face, and then, then Sam is turning from the table where he'd dropped the keys, his mouth dropped open.
"What the - Dean? Is that - Is that Cas?"
"Well, it's not Gabriel."
"But, but, but he's, he's - "
"Yeah, he is."
"No kidding, Sherlock."
Cas whimpers again, and Dean looks down, at how his eyes, in his very small, baby-sized face, are closed so tight that it's gotta hurt.
"What did this?" And as usual, Sam's questioning everything, because that's how he deals, but it's the... lack of concern there that's most troubling. Dean tamps down the flash of irritation that flames up, and says, voice level, "I don't know, but he's burning up, and he won't let go."
Sam closes his mouth, and Dean has the very inappropriate image of it being like a drawbridge being cranked back up. Sam stares, and Dean tries not to imagine what it looks like, with this tiny, toddler version of Cas, wearing his own over-sized t-shirt on his small frame, tucked into his arms, because this is beyond ridiculous and he's either gonna laugh or swear, or just, maybe poof out of existence, any minute now, 'cause nothing's beyond the pale now.
"Okay," Sam says, "tell me everything. We'll work this out."
So Dean does. He tells him how he opened the door, how he found Cas, how he carried him - and the words 'light as a freaking feather' cross his mind, but do not come out his mouth, thank God - inside. How he checked him over - the words, 'he was practically drowning in his clothes' do get said - how the blood didn't seem to be coming from any injuries that he could see. He tells him how he tried to get Cas to talk to him, but nothing would come out except for 'Dean' and 'it hurts' and how finally he'd just gathered him up and held him.
Sam just nods, and nods, and makes doctor noises, and Dean very seriously considers telling him to just get out, because that is not helpful at all. Not helpful, and certainly, it's very like Sam, and yet, not.
"What do we do, Sam?" he asks, and that did not just sound like a broken plea, not at all, go away.
"Well, he's obviously in pain, so I say we get some painkillers in him, but everything we have is way too strong for him... I think. We'll just play it safe, cause even if he is an angel, that's the most I know to do. I'll go to the store, but we'll need to weigh him, make sure we give him the correct dosage of whatever we get."
"And how exactly are we gonna weigh him? He won't let go, Sam."
"Seriously, Dean? Think about it."
"I'm not at my freaking best, Sam, just help me out."
Sam scratches at his left eye with his forefinger, and Dean can tell he's just stalling, hanging on to patience.
"You know what you weigh, right? So, we just get scales, and then you hold him, and we'll subtract whatever your weight is from your combined weight."
All this talk of weight brings the fact that Cas has started to feel heavy on Dean's arms, making them ache, so he shifts slightly and Cas makes another one of those wrung-out whimpers, and his fingers clench into tiny fists filled with Dean's over-shirt.
Sam's lips pinch together, like he's trying not to laugh, and Dean glares at him, like he's trying to set his brother's head on fire. Sam stands up, as Dean says, "Sure, fine, just go get the stuff, already. This is starting to become all shades of weird and uncomfortable."
"I'll be back soon."
Sam fair throws himself out the door. Dean settles back on the bed, trying not to jostle Cas, and quietly spazzes out. When rationality starts coming back, it's a relief, but it takes a long time before that happens. Sam is still gone when Dean recovers enough to actually start picking apart everything that's happened so far, and long enough to start hearing the sense he relies on in situations like these, that gut instinct he's used to utilizing. And his gut instinct is telling him he's missing something.
Cas seems to have gone to sleep, but his body is still tense, and his forehead is still flame-hot when Dean puts the back of his hand to it. He rests his hand over Cas's head, and still remembering Sam, how stroking his head would settle him right down, he starts stroking through the hair, and that's when he finds it. It's a swollen spot, near the nape of Cas's neck, and the center of it feels damp to Dean's fingertips.
He looks closer, parts the hair to get a better look and realizes it's a sting. Cas was stung by something. Something mean and nasty, bigger than anything normal with a stinger, since the center of it is about a quarter inch across, oozing pus and blood, and Dean's gut instinct starts shouting like a frigging auctioneer.
Two and two make four, and that never changes, so when Sam comes back, the first thing Dean says is, "I think this is connected to the lamia."
Sam pauses at that, before he drops the bag of supplies down on the table. "Say what?"
"Look at this." He motions Sam over and shows him what he's found, being careful not to press on the wound.
"Oh, well," Sam says, "that explains so much."
"Yeah, well, duh."
"Lamias, Dean. Sure, this one's behaving out of the norm, or not, since we don't know much about them - " He stops to glare at Dean.
Dean says, "Dude, we needed to get out of there. I wasn't about to ask Bobby to tell us everything about the thing."
"Fine, whatever, we'll ask him later. But, it makes so much sense. They eat children. Or, at least, they're supposed to, since that's what mythology says about them."
"So, the one we're hunting..."
"Turned Cas into a kid." Sam looks earnestly at Dean, and Dean rolls his eyes. He says, "Took you long enough, Captain Exposition. Will he go back to normal if we gank it?"
"I don't know."
"We've gotta take care of it, he can't last this out."
Sam nods. "Well, let's get some medicine into him, and wash the wound, maybe that will help. Then we can sort out the rest of it."
The weighing of Cas goes off without a hitch. They wash the sting with soap and water, and Dean privately thinks that's not going to do a bit of good, but doubt won't help, so he keeps his thoughts to himself. Getting Cas to take the medicine is a messy job, with him asleep, but most of the medicine gets in him.
"Good thing swallowing's a reflex," Sam says, looking down at Cas, still in Dean's arms. He looks up at Dean, who just sighs and says, "Now what?"
"I'm kinda getting tired of holding him."
Sam huffs. "Well, why don't you just put him down?"
"It's not gonna work, Sam, I've already tried it."
And it really doesn't work. Even though it seems Cas is completely unconscious, he's still awake enough to know he's being forcibly removed from the something that is making him feel safe, and won't let go, even when Sam tries prying him away.
Sam stops trying and gives Dean a helpless look. He says, "How are we going to kill the thing if he won't let you go?"
Dean nods. "Clingy little dude, isn't he? Reminds me of you."
Sam throws his hands up and spins away, saying, "Awwww, Dean! I didn't need to know that!"
"Come on, Sam. I practically raised you!"
"Sure, like I haven't heard that before. So, if it's true, why don't you have more tricks for taking care of things like this, huh?"
Dean stops shifting his weight from foot to foot, which he'd been doing unconsciously. Dang it, he'd been rocking the little rugrat. He shudders and then moves on.
"You know, that gives me an idea." Dean motions past Sam, pointing at his duffel bag, the one with his clothes. "Get me a shirt."
Sam does and hands it to Dean, who places it against Cas, and slowly sets about loosening Cas's grip on him and placing it around the t-shirt Sam had pulled from the bag. He carefully settles Cas down on the bed and stands back.
Cas rolls over, still holding the shirt, but doesn't wake up.
Sam makes a tsking sound, and says, "I can't believe that works."
Dean shakes out his arms. There's a long moment of silence, and then he turns to Sam and says, "I have mad parental skills."
"Don't do that."
"Yeah, all right."
They stare at Cas for a little while. Dean says, "Well, that's getting nothing done. Did you find the priest that can bless the knife or not?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I did. Let's take care of it." He starts to gather up their bags.
"Wait a minute. We're just gonna leave him - like that?"
"He's out like a light, Dean."
"We can't just leave him here, Sam."
"What? We can't take him with us. That's - "
"Yeah, I get it." And Dean does, but he doesn't like it one bit, because this is just one more thing, in the long succession of things, that are not ringing true about Sam. But Cas is an angel, right? The justification comes easily, but the urgency to keep him safe can't be denied. Children must be protected, but they are on their own, and much as it pains him, Sam's right - they'll have to leave him.
Dean snaps his fingers. "Pillows!" he exclaims.
"It's a trick Dad used to use with you. Pack pillows around you and it'd keep you from rolling off the bed."
Sam lifts an eyebrow, closes his eyes for a second, and half-nods, half-shakes his head. "All right. But we gotta go, right after."
"Yeah, I hear ya."
Sam hands him pillows from his bed, and then waits, a hand on the strap of the duffel bag over his shoulder.
Dean lays the pillows around Cas.
"All right," Sam says, "let's go."
Dean says, "Man, I hope this works, Cas, because..." and he just leaves the rest unspoken, because, really, not the best line of thought ever.
He takes extra care locking the door of the motel room. He has a job to do, though, and he turns all his focus to that and tells himself not to think of how horribly wrong it is to do that to a helpless child... angel or no.
Killing the lamia... well, let's say that's just one instance of how 'barbeque' takes on a whole new meaning in the Winchesters' world. Sam tries to talk to it, get answers as to why Castiel gets changed, but the rest of the men don't, and gets nothing but hissing in return. Sam, always and ever, the analyst. Dean, however, is all for the doing, and that's why he's the one dragging Sam out of there as soon as the winged monstrosity is dead, and driving as fast as he reasonably can back to the motel, just to find -
Cas isn't there.
"That's good, right?" Sam says, unloading himself of their bags, and all Dean can do is gape at him for a long, long moment. Sam doesn't notice, busy rearranging.
Dean drops down into the chair by the window. He pushes the wrappers of his breakfast away, and says, "Guess so."
That's not what he wants to say. What he wants to say is something quite different, something that would just open a big ole can of messy worms, and he just can't do it.
He balls up the wrappers and tosses them across the room, making a perfect basket into the waste can, just as Sam grabs his laptop and comes to sit across from him. He opens it up and looks at Dean from over the top of it, saying, "If you're still worried, try calling him."
Dean just sits, trying to get a read on Sam, on everything that's messing with his perception of him. After a moment, he closes his eyes, weary.
"Yeah, yeah, I could do that."
Sam shuts the laptop with a snap, standing up. Dean shoots a glance at him, and Sam says, "I'm getting an icepack. It did a number on my shoulder."
Dean nods once.
Sam heads out the door and it occurs to Dean that might have been an excuse - a convenient, truthful excuse - but one anyway.
He doesn't want to call Cas. Not because he isn't sure that he's okay - his very presence not being there indicates that, yes, he is. It's for that very reason he doesn't want to - Cas didn't stick around, say, "Hey, guys, I'm fine."
He rests his hand flat on the table, flexes his fingers. Counts to ten. Says, "Hey, if you're listening, Cas, that was not cool at all."
Nothing. Of course. He looks over his shoulder, just to be sure, but Cas isn't there. When he turns back, Cas is staring at him from across the table, no more unrumpled than he usually is - and certainly not looking less than four years old, which is a relief, frankly.
"I can't stay, Dean. What is it?"
"Dude - I don't - What happened to you?"
Cas sighs and looks down, says, "The lamia." Dean's eyebrows snap together and then up.
"Yeah, the lamia. We killed it, by the way."
Cas says, "Good."
"That's it. You're not gonna talk about being - " Dean gestures at Cas, open-palmed, up and down.
Cas looks away, out the window, and his shoulders hunch forward a little. He says, "I... I'll tell you later." And he's gone. Dean says, "What the he - " and Sam comes in.
"What did he say?" he asks.
Sam explains, "I saw him from outside."
"Nothing," Dean says. "He didn't stick around long enough."
Dean grinds the heel of his right hand into his forehead and says, "I need a drink."
An ocean later, Dean's coming out of a shop in Scotland, cup of coffee in one hand, and cell phone in the other, trying to text Sam. He rounds a corner. Cas falls into step with him, and Dean almost drops the cell phone, but not the coffee.
Dean demands, "You gonna tell me what happened now?"
Cas sighs, but this time it's less, "my life sucks," and more, "you annoy me." He says, "Human flesh and its limitations is what happened."
"So you're saying it got you by accident."
"Sucks to be you."
"It was hunting angels, too. Our grace... makes us a very appealing target."
"Oh. You mean it wanted a tasty bite-sized snack."
"As always, Dean, you have a knack for stating the obvious." It's said with very little snark, and Dean smiles just a little.
"Yeah, I know. I'm just..." He reaches out, almost as if to touch, but mostly just pointing. "I'm just glad y - " He clears his throat. "I'm just glad we made the right choice killing it."
"It wasn't strictly necessary, but yes. The poison would have run its course with very little ill-effect."
"That's what you say. You didn't have to deal with rugrat-sized you."
Cas stops walking and Dean has to fall back a few steps and turn around to face him.
"About that. I had just enough time to get to you, and little time to tell you what was wrong, so..." He looks away, and then back. "Thank you. For taking care of me."
"You're welcome," Dean says. It's too formal of a moment for him to crack a joke, and even if he wanted to, nothing's coming to mind.
Cas nods and is gone, again, just as quick as ever, before Dean thinks to say, "I could have taken pictures! Dang it!"