-o-

The sense of vacancy in those star-bright, blue eyes is enough to curdle Dean's stomach. His fingers holding the plastic object clench a little harder than necessary.

"You're gonna be okay here," he tells him, and Dean isn't even sure if Castiel is aware of the fact that he's standing right smack in front of him, or if he's is just lost within the madness, lost inside what remnants Sam's mind had been. Dean swallows, and tries again, "Y'hear me, Cas?"

The air inside the locked ward's room is mild enough in temperature and a comfortable smell like the laundry and sheets, but it suffocates with the following blank silence. Cas' strangely unblinking and penetrating stares have never raised so many hairs on the back of Dean's neck and arms since now.

Not in the way it should have.

The soles of heavier shoes squeak against hallway floor tiles and Dean is absolutely certain that Sam has got his eyes in full-out puppy dog mode. He doesn't know how his punkass little brother can shoulder all of the guilt in the first place, let alone of he's going to shoulder the last 24 hours.

Those nightmares aren't going to be coaxed away with gin and whiskey.

Not willing to put this off much longer, Dean allows his lips to twitch up into a familiar smirk as he places the rainbow slinky in his hands onto Castiel's drawn-together knees.

"Hold onto this for me, okay? Cause I'm coming back for it." Dean gives the mute angel a decisive nod, swallowing again with a tightened and dry throat, and holds off the urge to touch Castiel's shoulder reassuringly. To emphasize that he meant that promise. No matter what. On the way out of the room, Dean catches a glimpse of Sam's watering eyes.

He says nothing.

There's nothing more to say.

It's time to go.

-o-

A couple hours pass, and then more, and then more…

Evening falls. The authorized nurse passes by the door to Patient "Jimmy Smith" and dreads to see the same sight since his arrival — an eerie and stoic gaze on his surroundings. As if he were desperately trying to hold himself up inside the human shell of his body, from harm, from everything.

Through the round, glass-and-wire window, she peers in, tapping her pen against her clipboard.

The nurse grins softly, somewhat relieved as the grown man dangles a rainbow slinky in front of his face, wonder filling his expression.

-o-


Inspired by this heartbreaking fanart: . [slash] tumblr_m1istmJ9pm1qaewnko1_