We Found Love (In A Hopeless Place)

Tomi Sama

Pairing: Pre-Destiel (DeanxCastiel), Crowstiel (CrowleyxCastiel)
Warnings: Slash. Drug use. Minor Character Death. Language. Mentions of Suicide.
Word Count: 7,550
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or any of the songs.
Beta: Bree (BowtiesAndDeductions)
My Tumblr: talesfromperdition

Chapter 1: "Yellow Diamonds."

"Yellow diamonds in the light
Now we're standing side-by-side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive."

Dean Winchester tried to bury his head under his blankets, but nothing could stop the pounding of the beat from echoing in his skull. Every morning, he wished he kept his alarm clock on his bedside like a normal human being. By the time he hit the third line in the song, he had pushed back his covers and was padding over to the other side of his room. If he didn't keep his alarm clock there, he would never get up in the morning.

Spared of Rihanna's catchy-as-hell chorus by his hand slamming the off button, he began searching for something to wear. Luckily it was the first day of school. This meant that nobody would know what he wore yesterday or any other day this summer. It could be weeks before he'd have to do laundry if he avoided sweating a lot. He threw on a pair of jeans from the floor by his TV. At the foot of his bed, he spotted a solid olive t-shirt. After sniffing it to make sure it was alright, he threw it over his head. On his way out, he grabbed a blue button-up and threw it on.

He walked out the door, slamming it behind him as he made quick strides down the hall. Dean's mornings were always a rush, but the few seconds of peace he let himself receive came outside this doorway every morning. If he paused long enough to let his little brother finish a good dream, it would be worth it. Every second counted though, so with a sigh, Dean knocked twice on the door before pushing it open.

His little brother was tangled in his blankets. His frame was getting lankier and more awkward by the day, it seemed. It wouldn't be long before the small boy would be taller than his older brother, and probably everyone else in the school. Dean sat at the foot of the bed, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder. Instantly, as though some immediate threat was recognized, Sam's eyes shot open and he sat up.

"Shower, now, Sammy. It's your first day of high school."

The panic drained from the younger's face as his eyes glanced at his brother. A hint of a smile played on his face. He punched at his older brother halfheartedly.

"Come on. I'm a freshman in high school, now. Stop with the Sammy crap."

Dean's response was to put his hand on the side of his younger brother's face. It was a gesture awkward to most brothers, but the Winchesters weren't a typical family. Sam, in attempt to be normal, swatted his brother's hand away. But Dean knew the younger appreciated the affection they didn't get from their long-since dead mother and completely absent father.

"Shower, Sammy."

This time the younger scooted out of the room without protest. Dean sat in the small room – more of a closet than a bedroom – for another few seconds before he went downstairs to make breakfast for them both.

"Shine a light through an open door
Love a life I will divide
Turn away 'cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind."

Castiel's eyes shot open, feeling his pupils getting smaller to adjust to the light room. He didn't shut the blinds last night, apparently. The sun broke the glass barrier of the window with no problems; dust danced in the light just above his head. He glanced up to admire the halo of particles before glancing at himself: something didn't feel right.

One hand was gripping the sheets, the other the bedpost. It took him a few seconds to flex his stiff fingers to life and a few more to get the cramped arms to move. His head fell to the side, wide eyes fixing on the alarm clock at his bed. Everything was spinning and he couldn't tell if he liked it or not.

He heard the knock on the door, and he bolted upright. His shirt was plastered to his chest. Once he raised his hands to his face, he found a layer of sweat still upon his forehead. A second later the door opened and Castiel closed his eyes, still in the process of guessing which brother would be on wake up duty. It was a game he liked to play, but it was ruined when he heard the voice and knew it was Raphael.

"Castiel, get up. It's your first day of school and Heaven forbid you get detention for being late already," The skinny man said as he strolled over to the bedside and hit the power off on the alarm clock. The younger brother could do nothing but stare; he hadn't even heard the song playing. Slowly, he worked up the momentum to move his body. His feet hit the ground in an attempt to get the room to stop spinning.

"Are you even awake in there?" Raphael snapped his fingers in his younger brother's face, and the delayed reaction should have been the three hundredth or so time that one of the Novaks noticed something was… off with Castiel. No such luck. Instead, the older brother gave another gruff command and walked out of the room.

"Hurry up, before someone else takes your shower spot."

Instead of hurrying to the shower, Castiel hurried to shut his door, and then hurried to his dresser. He was the only one – besides his oldest brother – with his own room. He wasn't quite sure how that happened, but he had done wonderful things with the privacy and trust his brothers had in him. He unplugged his phone from the charger and held down "2" – his only programmed speed dial. The boy only needed to hear the phone ring twice before a chipper voice answered.

"Good morning, my angel," Castiel felt the smile creep onto his face, despite how poorly he felt and how desperately he fished through his dresser to pull out three different prescription bottles. He lined them up, adjusting them slightly until they were perfectly straight with their labels pointing out.

"Things are going really well up here. I know it's been really hard on you boys with your father gone, but luckily I was always the one who made the money, huh?" His mother laughed. Castiel could feel her with him, as if she were in the room with him. He imagined her tossing her head back, red curls dancing behind her. She looked far younger than she was. People always doubted she was old enough to have a son his age, let alone the age of his older brothers.

Castiel looked closely at the pills in front of him. Although the labels were for anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, and painkillers, only two bottles held the actual prescription drug. He still had half a bottle of Xanax and three-fourths of an almost expired prescription for Percocet. Months ago he tried to take all the anti-depressants at once, and they had long since been gone in favor of others.

"I think I'll have a deal with them soon. They said to me, 'Anna, you sure drive a hard bargain,' and they're going to sign the papers today, I think."

Castiel tried to remember what pills he put in the bottle, but upon further inspection, they were all mixed in colors and shapes. He was pretty sure they were all stimulants though. It made the decision easier... the last thing he wanted to do was waste Ecstasy in English class.

"Castiel, if this deal goes through, I could come back home and spend more time with you and your brothers. We would never want for anything again. Anyway, you have to get into the shower before Gabriel steals it from you. I love you, Castiel. May the Lord be with you."

In his head, Castiel thought 'and also with you,' but couldn't vocalize the prayer. Regardless, his mother chuckled – she always understood his aversion to talking and seemed to understand him without words. She gave another farewell, and the boy heard the line go dead.

He grabbed a Xanax and popped it in his mouth. Hiding his stash, he walked to the bathroom just in time to get smacked on the back by Lucifer as he walked out with a towel around his waist.

The dark-haired boy stripped of his stiff, sweaty clothes, and turned the hot water on. Xanax had an unusually quick release time for a pill. Soon, it would fix the chemical imbalance in his brain to make him calm and happy. But the moments of consciousness without the chemicals providing stimulation to his brain were torture. He was well aware that his brain had stopped producing the chemical naturally – it would take a week of intense withdrawal for his body to make it again.

He felt nauseous and depressed. He stepped in the shower and crouched down, bringing his arms around his legs and hiding his face in his knees.

It was fetal position or risk passing out and falling.

He swore he felt each individual drop of hot water collide with his back, hundreds of thousand tiny pinpricks jabbing him and scraping down his spine. He gripped his knees tighter and rocked forward on his toes, then back on his heels, trying to calm himself down. Soon enough, the pills kicked in. He stood on shaky knees, arms stabilizing him on either side of the shower. He tipped his head back, letting the comforting waterfall cascade around him.

The water plastered his hair to his forehead, and he smiled into it. A wonderful, dazzling, crazy, drug-induced smile. He closed his eyes and almost convinced himself that he really was outside under a waterfall.

Dean had his back to the stairs but heard his brother stampede down them. He turned to place the scrambled eggs in front of his younger brother as the other sat down. Over the summer, Sam had asked Dean what he thought about long hair. As the elder had always kept it short and spiked, he told Sam what any older brother would say: long hair looks douchey.

Sam decided to grow it out anyway. Maybe when it got longer it would look better. Now, it stuck to the sides of his face – did he even try to dry it when he got out of the shower? – and he had to keep pushing it out of his eyes. Once it dried it would curl a bit, and it would get shorter.

Honestly, though, Dean didn't care what Sam looked like. No matter what, he would always love his little brother.

"So," Sam had already inhaled half his plate, "senior year, huh? Big man on campus."

"I suppose," Dean sat down, but didn't have any food. He gave Sam the last two eggs and pieces of toast. They'd have to go shopping after school if they could find some money.

Sam handed over a piece of toast. Dean tried to push it back, but Sam shot him a look. The elder brother took a bite, defeated. "So what's that like?"

Dean shrugged, thankful he had something in his mouth that prevented him from talking. He worked part time at the mechanic shop down the street. He didn't have the heart to tell Sam that graduating only meant full-time, which meant more money for food. College wasn't an option; it never really had been. Dean was a solid C student. His success would be measured in terms of what Sam did after graduation, not himself.

"You going out for football this year?"

Dean sighed, "Sammy, you know all team based sports are stupid. Unless you want to join a sport, then it's cool." Sam made a face, but whether it was too the name or the corny response, Dean didn't know.

"Any girls you wanna bang?"

Dean shrugged, "None left."


"What, it's true."

The Winchesters sat comfortably in silence for a few minutes until Sam finished his food. He took it to the sink and washed it; if he didn't do it now Dean would just have to do it later. Over the water, he asked quietly, "Have you seen dad?"

Sam wasn't sure if Dean didn't hear him or was just ignoring the question, but he let it drop.

When Sam turned the water off, Dean was waiting by the door. He held out Sam's backpack, but he himself carried nothing. No pens, no notebooks, no anything. "One goal I do have this year is to finish up the restoration on the Impala. That way we don't have to walk thirty minutes to school every morning."

Sam nodded and smiled. Dean had been restoring that Impala since he was sixteen. He never had money for parts. True, Sam hadn't seen it in two years, but he had to assume it was hardly more finished than it was when he brought it back behind Bobby's shop where he worked. Regardless, it was nice Dean had something to look forward to doing. Sam was glad his brother had something that made him happy.

Castiel shaved for what seemed like the first time in forever. He was surprised to see what a smooth face could do. He didn't look like a hippy stoner anymore, and Castiel was certainly not a hippy. He finished just in time; Gabriel pushed through the door without knocking.

Gabriel tried to make a joke as he walked past. Castiel laughed, but it was just the motions, and he walked downstairs.

Raphael had made breakfast for them all. He had graduated sometime in the past few years – Castiel could name his brothers in order but not by age (other than those directly around him). He thought about it for a second. Could he still do it? He put his hands in his pocket and felt the baggy hiding in there. Another Xanax and three Percocets. The painkillers made him vomit – he must be allergic to something in them – but the class D felony drug was a sick bargaining tool for something greater.

Plus, if he needed to get out of something, Percocets were like clockwork for him. Ten minutes and he'd be a sobbing, puke-covered mess on the floor. He had to be careful, though, because certain painkillers messed with his fragile brain-chemistry. Once he took a Vicodin and he came to three hours later with a bandage on collarbone. Gabriel had found him in the bathroom, carving some sort of pentagram into his chest, screaming about getting the demons out of him.

The thirteen year old was too afraid of what it might mean for his brother if he told. They didn't talk about it after that first time. And there hadn't been any real permanent scaring, just a crudely carved circle that could have been from anything.

What was he doing again? Oh yeah, his brothers.

Zachariah was the oldest, twins Uriel and Raphael next. They were all graduated. This year, the high school roster included the other set of twins, Michael and Lucifer, as seniors, himself as a junior, Balthazar as a sophomore, and baby Gabriel as a freshman.

Uriel and Zachariah were either sleeping or at work and Gabriel was in the shower. Michael and Lucifer sat side by side completely silent and agitated. They were either perfect cohorts or die-hard enemies depending on the minute, and Castiel guessed it was enemies today. Balthazar wasn't eating, but he was fidgeting with something electronic. Probably some prank for him and Gabriel to pull off on the first day.

Cutting into his waffle with his fork, Castiel thought about how great it would have been if he were close to any of his brothers. They all paired off – except him and Zachariah – and their age difference kept them apart.

He thought about how cool it would be if someone else could feel the way he did at his best. How he felt with a beat synchronized to his heart, losing control of his body in the pureness of the music. Maybe he should have grabbed the Ecstasy.

Gabriel bounced down the hall and into the kitchen and started fixing his pancakes. Chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream and a cherry. How was that kid not seven hundred pounds?

He hardly had time to shove it down, before Michael and Lucifer silently decided it was time to go and cleared their plates. Somehow, from the time they made it from the kitchen sink to the door, they were friends again. They were punching each other and laughing. Gabriel and Balthazar made it out the door before him, hunched over the electronic thing, up to no good.

Castiel put his plate and cup in the sink and headed for the door. Raphael stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. The smaller boy felt every neuron explode on his skin under the hand. He opened his mouth – to yell out in pain or in delight he wasn't sure – but quickly shut it again.

Raphael looked troubled, like he had something difficult to say, and Castiel swallowed hard. His hands went to his pockets, fisting the baggie full of pills to keep them from showing at all. He closed his eyes, thinking about the drugs in his room, the hundreds of little pills hidden everywhere. He tried not to think about his kit in his backpack.

"Here," Raphael put his hands in his pocket, taking out a five dollar bill and handing it to his younger brother. "If your blood sugar gets low, buy a Gatorade or something, yeah? You got your bag in your backpack?"

Castiel nodded, pocketing the five dollars. Five dollars wouldn't get him anything but food. Maybe he would spend it on what his brother intended him to.

"Listen, Castiel. I know it's been hard for you this past year. I mean, learning about your diabetes the same year dad left. Your back pains, your anxiety from worrying about it all," Castiel masterfully suppressed the maniacal smile he felt rising from within. A rich Christian kid from a well-respected family could get anything from a psychiatrist after an hour of research on WebMD.

"You got to learn to trust others again, though, brother. Try to make some friends this year."

Castiel nodded again, but felt himself break eye contact with his older brother, suddenly deflating. His chest was far safer to stare at. Castiel was a firm believer that someone couldn't tell if he was lying as long as they weren't making eye contact.

He could lie about the drugs – he had been lying about the drugs for almost a year now – and he lied about everything. But he couldn't, for some reason, lie about his lack of human companionship. He lost the ability to speak to others around the time their dad left. He could hardly even talk to his brothers.

People made fun of the way he talked. The drugs helped a lot, but he still couldn't bring himself to speak unless spoken to. And even then, gestures got him out of most conversations.

Feeling his brother's hand leave him, the younger scurried from the house. His four brothers were already half a block ahead of him. Even if he were with them, they wouldn't speak to him. He was fine with that. Honestly. He had the only friend he needed. In his pocket he had four friends and in his diabetic bag that he bought off eBay he had another. What was in his insulin bottle was definitely definitely not insulin.

Sam was hungry again by the time they got to the school, and Dean knew the younger boy was trying really hard not to let it show. From walking to school, he knew he had some change in his pocket, but doubted he had a dollar. If he did, he would have spent it at the machine at work.

There wasn't a line at the vending machine when they reached the center lobby of the school near the gym. He scooped up the change from his pocket and started counting it. He had sixty cents; the cheapest thing in the machine was a bag of Fritos for seventy-five cents.

Dean met Sam's eye for a brief second before both looked down at the useless money. More students started filing into the lobby and in a second, they'd have to move or risk looking poor and foolish.

The elder brother noticed two guys he'd known since kindergarten walking in: Michael and Lucifer Novak. The family had money; they probably had a spare fifteen cents. Michael nodded to him but walked past. Dean was too proud to ask for handouts.

And apparently Sam was too. Two more Novaks – Dean wasn't sure their names – came up to him and chatted for a moment, using strange words and gesturing to something held in one of their hands. The rich boys couldn't tell the look of starving desperation, because both promised to see him during lunch and walked away.

Dean counted the money again.

"It's fine, Dean. I told you I wasn't hungry," Sam said, but his stomach gave him away with a rumble. Dean felt his teeth grit. It wasn't fair that their stupid dad was always gone. It wasn't fair he couldn't feed his baby brother. He rolled his hand into a fist. Sam thought he was going to punch something, so he put his hand on his brother's forearm.

Someone was using the machine behind him, but Dean still hissed, "I could probably steal something from the cafeteria for you."

Sam shook his head violently, and suddenly, Dean felt a hand rest gingerly on his shoulder. He turned around quickly, expecting to see a teacher there to reprimand him. The hand dropped, and instead he was looking across at another Novak boy: the quiet one. The boy looked like he regretted drawing attention to himself the second the older boy was glaring at him, and Dean tried to make his face soften so he didn't scare the guy.

It didn't really work.

Instead, in the awkward silence that fell over the three boys, Dean tried to think of the boy's name. On second thought, he was trying to make absolutely sure it was a Novak. None of them, even the twins, looked particularly like any of the other boys. Instead, others knew them because they traveled in packs. Dean could remember a young boy with dark hair hanging out with Michael at lunch or at the playground, but was this that boy?

His hair was longer, he thought. At least, Dean always remembered the boy with spiked hair. This guy was thinner – scarily thin – and his hair was pressed to his forehead. He had bags under his eyes, but Dean was sure he had the right guy. His eyes were too blue to be anyone else's, Novak or not.

Dean noticed he had a bag of Doritos and a bottle of chocolate milk in one hand. In the hand that had been on Dean's back, he had a few dollar bills folded together. He raised his eyebrows in a question and extended his hand toward the older Winchester.

Dean shook his head. He couldn't accept the guy's money.

The Novak looked at Sam, as if he were going to offer it to him, but decided against it. Instead, he took a step toward Dean and shoved the bills in the breast pocket of his shirt. He was walking away before Dean had recovered enough to realize what happened.

"Wait –" The Winchester called. The boy just waved a dismissing hand behind him and kept walking.

As soon as the Novak was around the corner, Sam grabbed the bills from his brother's pocket and fed one of them into the machine. He bought himself Doritos. He held the two bucks out to his older brother.

"Get yourself something, and with the other dollar buy something for him, M&Ms or Swedish Fish, something that if he doesn't take them you'll eat. As a thank you, you know?"

Dean bought himself some Fritos and pocketed the change, spending a dollar on M&Ms, though Sam's logic was flawed and stupid.

"I don't even know what Novak that is," Dean admitted. "How will I give it to him?"

"It's Castiel," Sam rolled his eyes. His younger brother had spent half the summer plotting with the youngest Novaks. If anyone knew anything about the secret religious cult that was the Novak family, it would be Sam. "I'm sure you'll see him somewhere." With that, the freshman was bouncing off. The older brother wished he had that sort of enthusiasm, but sadly, he lost the love of school around the time Sam was born – his first year of Pre-K.

Dean opened the Fritos and walked off to his homeroom, wishing had brought a backpack just so he wasn't carrying around a pack of M&Ms all day.

One time, Castiel's mother had to have extensive dentistry work done. She had been given Vicodin – hence the incident with the carving – and Castiel remembered the way she behaved while on it. It was during the last World Cup; soccer was the only sport Castiel followed even remotely.

Nobody ever watched it with him, which was fine, until his mom was on the Vicodin. She watched for a bit, asked questions about which team he wanted to win and who was actually winning, and by the time he looked back at her, lost in explaining the game, she was asleep. The buzz was too much for her.

Hence the appeal of Vicodin and the aforementioned realization that painkillers weren't his forte.

For a while, Xanax numbed everything. Right now he felt far too cognizant. He did his math homework for the next two weeks during the first day of notes on review work from trig. He was already in accelerated math – pre-calculus as a junior – but numbers just made sense to him.

By lunchtime, he couldn't deal with his compulsion to finish work. He found Crowley in the boy's bathroom, blowing out the smoke from his cigarette into the vents.

"Day one?" The British teen smirked. "Seriously, Castiel?"

He pulled the pills from his pocket and took out the Xanax, extending the Percocets to other boy. Crowley shook his head and passed them back.

"Tell you what, boy," Castiel dropped the Xanax back in with the Percocets, anticipating Crowley's deal. He put the pills in his pocket. "First day of school is stressful, yeah? Believe it or not, for me too." The British boy moved closer to Castiel. The younger didn't mind personal space violations and didn't flinch. "I'll give you a pristine rolled joint – hand rolled, of course, by yours truly – if you can make it worth my while." Crowley licked his lips for emphasis.

There is always that moment in an addict's life, when they realize what they're doing for a fix. This was not Castiel's moment. He glanced behind him for a second, before shoving Crowley into the handicapped stall, getting on his knees before him.

After all, he hardly called his desire for pot an addiction. It was infrequent that he desired that particular drug. And as he watched Crowley's angry face as he buttoned up his pants and blew out a thin line of smoke into the vent, he knew it was totally worth it.

The British teen let a slew of verbal insults grace his lips. Although directed at the younger boy, he wasn't offended. They were ones he'd heard from Crowley dozens of time. But Castiel just breathed in the sight of the other fixing his suit and tie, fixing his hair, and glancing over at him from the mirror.

The reason why this wasn't Castiel's moment of clarity was simple. He didn't blow Crowley for the drugs, at least not entirely. The satisfaction he got from frustrating the openly homophobic-closeted homosexual was far greater than the swelling of his lungs and brain with more chemicals.

Though, to be fair, it was really good pot.

Dean was going to have to drop out of school.

He wasn't sure how Sam was going to react, but there were hundreds of reasons why Dean would not be coming back the following day. The most important reason being that school was way too hard to suffer through for eight hours a day without getting paid. Money equaled food, which the Winchesters really lacked. Nay, lacking was the wrong word. They were starving. Dean ate his chicken patty like a starved dog and had probably been getting odd looks. At least if he worked at Bobby's full time, Sam wouldn't have to starve too.

And the classes were so useless and hard, and he was well aware he had the dumbed down schedule.

The thing was he may have survived just math. Math and Dean had never been friends, and he was just trying to pass the lowest level algebra test he needed to graduate. That he could deal with. Sam could help him learn algebra. He took the class in middle school last year. Unfortunately, he needed another science. After just barely passing biology and earth science, and scoring an A in forensic science last year, he only had a few choices left of what to take: AP Environmental (which he wanted, but didn't pass the placement test), physics (which was math on steroids), and chemistry (which he was stuck with.)

He sat at a table in the back and looked around the room. The periodic table, the glass beakers, the weights and scales, the emergency shower that should be pulled if someone was on fire or covered in chemicals… Dean knew it was too much for him. He thought about picking up his stuff and dropping out right there. But he figured he owed Sam at least one full day of school before he quit.

The bell rang and Dean was painfully aware that nobody was sitting at his table. There were an odd number of students and nobody wanted to risk being partners with the dumbest kid in the room. Great. Dean would either have to work alone and get nothing right or join a group and be a burdensome mooch. Great.

But just as the teacher was shutting the door, a kid ducked in. Dean was relieved to see he had a partner, but had mixed feelings when he saw the Novak – Castiel was his name? – moseying his way back to sit by Dean.

Their eyes met as Castiel sat down, but it took a few seconds too long for his partner to recognize him. Dean pushed the pack of M&Ms at the boy and whispered, "Thank you."

Castiel wasted no time in ripping the bag open and dumping them all out onto his syllabus that the teacher was currently reading through. Dean watched with voyeuristic fascination as the younger boy made quick work sorting the M&Ms into colors, and then putting each color in a row to count. He looked up at Dean, and the older boy thought of looking away. The dark haired boy held up a finger to get the other's attention, and drew a line down the center: blue, green, and yellow on one side and brown, red and orange on the other. He pushed the first set of colors toward Dean before popping an orange in his own mouth.

Dean could recognize that this was beyond weird. The guy was silent and all sorts of obsessive-compulsive. Then Dean noticed that the younger boy had opened his chemistry book to the page the homework was on. Popping in more M&Ms (all the orange, then back and forth brown and red until red was the last one left), he finished his chemistry homework before the class was half over.

Castiel met Dean's gaze and couldn't help the wide smile spread over his face. He knew the other boy didn't have a clue what was going on. He pushed his homework paper over to his lab partner, allowing him to copy. Dean jumped at the chance.

The younger boy leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling. He noticed his partner would steal glances at him; although, Castiel wasn't sure if it was because he was appreciative of the cheating, the view, or whether or not he was determining how completely stoned his new partner was.

Though to be fair, Castiel seriously doubted the last option.

When the bell rang, signaling the end of the day, Dean pushed the paper back to Castiel. The boy smiled again and shoved it in his notebook before walking out. He was halfway down the hall when he felt a timid hand on his shoulder.

"Castiel?" The boy turned around. The other boy had his books cradled in his arms awkwardly, as if they were about to fall. Castiel nodded, looking up to meet Dean's eyes.

"My name is Dean Winchester," Castiel nodded and extended his hand. Dean shifted the books again to get his other hand free to shake. The older boy waited to for his lab partner to introduce himself but he didn't. Instead, he turned to walk away.

"Wait, Cas…" The smaller boy froze and turned back to face Dean. He saw the other boy smirk and could only assume it was in relation to the reaction Castiel had to the new nickname. He tried to relax his face, but Dean laughed aloud. "Whoa, if you don't like Cas, I can say the other two syllables."

Castiel shrugged to show his apathy.

Dean smiled again, running a hand through his hair. "So, I see that you don't talk…"

"I talk." This time Castiel grinned at the look on the other's face. Dean's eyebrows furrowed at the same time his eyes got wide. Castiel half expected his voice to break; he talked so infrequently that the first words out of his mouth usually sounded froggy. Fortunately, it didn't. Apparently Dean, like everyone else, wasn't expecting the deepness of his voice.

Suddenly Dean laughed. Castiel felt his face harden again – they always laughed, that's why he didn't talk – until Dean put hand on the other's shoulder and he patted it. Usually mocking wasn't paired with friendly physical contact. Castiel looked at Dean expectantly.

"That's great, man, because, listen," Dean put his arm around Castiel and led him down the hall. The younger boy noticed that Dean walked past the senior hallway, that he was walking Castiel to his locker. "I appreciate the homework, I really do, but I'm never going to pass a test if I only ever cheat."

Castiel nodded.

"So, I was wondering if there was any way you could help me study. Or, I mean, we don't have to study together, if you don't want to talk to me or anything, but at least some pointers. You gotta help me out."

The younger boy frowned. He stopped walking, ducked under Dean's arm (causing Dean to fumble awkwardly over himself), and opened his locker. He had no homework, so he emptied his backpack of everything but the diabetic kit and threw it back over his shoulder. He shut the door and turned back, hoping Dean had forgotten that they were in a discussion, but apparently, Castiel was invisible to everyone but this Winchester guy.

Slowly, Castiel was formulating the let down in his head. He needed to offer the guy some words – shaking his head just seemed rude – but Castiel wasn't ready to have anyone at all in his life, even just a tutee. Tutees turned to friends, and friends meant nosy people who either tried to get you off drugs or tried to take them from you for themselves. Friends disapproved of everything Castiel liked to do and therefore, friends were out of the picture.

"Look," Dean stepped closer. Castiel stepped back and felt his backpack hit the locker. A flash of confusion crossed his face. He never had a problem with personal space. How did this guy get Castiel to step back? "I know that it's a huge burden for you. I never ask anyone for anything, but I really need to graduate this year." Dean wasn't looking at the shorter boy anymore. His eyes were at his chest.

"I don't have a lot of money, but I'll try to repay you. Is there anything I could help you with?"

Castiel stopped himself from shaking his head after half a turn. He was looking away. Later, if anyone asked Castiel why he did what he did, he would blame his actions on a couple of things. But right now, before years of reflection, he would swear that he didn't make a choice at all. It just happened.

Twenty yards down the hall Crowley was turning a corner. Somehow, the British teen could always pick him out of a crowd. For one brief moment, they made eye contact, and Castiel could see the different motivations and emotions swirling behind his dark eyes, the conflicting sexual tension. The desire to be with Castiel physically paired with the psychological hatred he had toward the way wanting him physically made Crowley feel.

For some reason, somewhere deep in Castiel's drug addled mind, it seemed like great fun to bait the violent, homophobic drug dealer.

Turning his attention back to Dean, he flashed him a smile. The other boy looked confused, then terrified when Castiel grabbed his hand and turned his wrist over so his palm was up. He took a pen from his pocket, and wrote down seven numbers in his palm. Dean looked up from the hand and peered at Castiel. The blue eyes flickered up to look into the green eyes opposite of him.

Dean felt like Castiel was trying to tell him something; he was just looking at him too intensely to be an innocent look. They were somehow sharing some sort of moment or something, but Dean wasn't that well versed in silence.

Castiel shot his eyes away for a second, to see Crowley walking behind Dean, eyes narrowed and dark.

Dean licked his lips, confused, but then smirked, "So, if I call you, will you speak back to me or will I be talking to myself?"

The moment shattered, and Castiel sighed aloud, dropping Dean's hand and rolling his eyes. He turned and walked the opposite way down the hall as Crowley. Dean smirked, taking that interaction to be positive, and walked down to the senior hallway to get rid of his junk.

Sam seemed to be done packing up his junk, but he was still in the freshman hallway. He was huddled together with Castiel's two younger brothers. When he saw Dean, he held up a hand to let him know he'd seen him, but to keep him far enough to way so the boys could plot without disruption.

Dean wasn't even mad.

He was only bringing home two books: his algebra book and some novel they were reading in English.

The boy gave a farewell to the Novaks and quickly fell into step with his brother. Sam was chatting happily about his first day back, his first day of high school. Dean responded with appropriate sounds and the occasional question.

Sam didn't ask Dean any questions about his day and whether or not he made any friends. At first, Dean had been excited to tell Sam about Castiel, about how he seemed to make friends with the brother of Sam's friends, but the more he thought about it, the more pathetic he felt about himself.

The boy had agreed to help study for chemistry. That wasn't exactly a friendship.

With each step he took toward home, he felt himself get angrier and angrier. And Sam, the stupid puppy, was still yapping. The worst thing about his brother was his total lack of attention to anyone but himself.

By the time the boys got to the front door, Dean was glad that he had to be at Bobby's shop in half an hour. His boss often got them pizza and beers if they finished up work early, and the pair of them would work on the Impala.

Bobby had always been the closest thing Dean had to a father.

Dean went to unlock the door, but noticed it was slightly ajar. All annoyance with his younger brother drained from his face as he entered big brother mode. He pushed his brother back and put a finger to his mouth. In one quick movement, Dean had a pocketknife out and armed. He pushed the door open with his left hand; the fingers on his right hand flexed around the knife.

There was no one in the living room or kitchen. He was about to climb up the stairs when he heard the toilet flush. He turned around and noticed Sam had followed him in. He shot a look at his brother and pushed him behind him once more, making his way to the bathroom door.

Dean thought about yelling, but then thought an ambush would work in his favor more.

He switched the knife around in his hand, to go from slicing quickly, to preparing for one deep stab. Counting to three, he tried to control his breathing. The door opened.

Dean waited to see his attacker before he pounced, but he wish he hadn't. Sam ran out from behind him, squealing in glee as he hugged the man around stomach. His brother always reverted to a child around the man. Dean sighed, folding the knife back up and putting it in his pocket.

"If you're going to come back, would you at least remember to shut the door all the way, dad?"

The man smiled at Dean, but the elder son stomped up the stairs to get ready for work.

When Castiel stumbled in an hour or so after school, he knew something was wrong. Zachariah was home, and the younger brother couldn't remember the last time he had seen his eldest in the house. He was wearing a business suit, and he was starting to go bald already.

He had one hand on his chest; his other hand was reaching up to the sky.

Uriel and Raphael both had their acoustic guitars out. Michael was drumming on a makeshift set of bongos. Lucifer was singing with his eyes shut. He had one hand raised, like Zachariah, the other clenching Gabriel's tightly. His younger brothers were singing, but tears were streaming silently down their face.

Someone had died.

Castiel felt his stomach and heart drop with his backpack. He made quick strides to join his brothers in the living room. He was surprised he cared this much, to be honest. He touched Zachariah's shoulder lightly, and when his brother turned around to face him, he was completely enveloped in his brother's secure arms.

Without knowing who it was or what happened, Castiel felt the tears erupt from his eyes. His hands clenched tightly to the back of Zachariah's shirt, and his brother put his chin on the top of his head, rubbing his back with one hand and his hair with the other.

Castiel wasn't sure when the hug stopped, but the next thing he knew, he had pulled his younger brothers up from the couch. They were holding hands and skipping in a circle, the way their parents had taught them as children to praise God.

He wasn't sure when he broke the circle and when Zachariah and Lucifer joined in. But he knew he was in the center of their dancing circle. And as they danced by them, his mind froze. Lost in the praise, his brothers had stopped crying. Lost in his own voice, he hadn't noticed that everyone else had stopped singing but him.

So he sang louder, raising his hands, lost in his high and the high of the music.

He stopped singing, and Michael stopped with the drums. Uriel and Raphael had slowed and quieted their guitars: background music to a prayer. Trained, the brothers stopped spinning, but let their hands clench tighter as they bowed their heads. Castiel put one hand on Gabriel's shoulder and the other on Balthazar's.

Zachariah's voice was raw. He had probably been singing and praising God long before his brothers returned home from school. "Praise our Heavenly Father!" He could feel his brothers murmur their agreement.

"You are truly the God most high, filled with love and adoration. And we will praise you forever." He paused, and Castiel felt a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you for returning Castiel home so he could sing his praise as well."

It was strange, the feeling of recognition and love. In a family as large as his, he was often lost in the middle. He heard the key change from his brother's guitars, and knew they were playing his favorite song of praise. He turned to face Zachariah, and his body hugged his brother. He was moving as if possessed, but when he felt his eldest brother's arms wrap around him, he felt safe and protected. Whichever distant uncle or aunt died would be easily overcome through this sense of family and unity and love and trust in God. That's what their mother always told them, and Castiel had never really believed it until now.

"Please continue to keep our voices strong, as we praise you for the deliverance of our mother."

His brothers played him the cue – he should start singing – but he felt himself pulling back from Zachariah. Their mother... He felt more hands on his back. His other brothers were trying to support him, to catch him.

Castiel crumpled on the floor with a noise he had never heard before erupt from some place deep inside his stomach. He felt it rise, like bile, up his shaking chest, before escaping from his mouth. Then he blacked out.

The song on the radio is "We Found Love (In A Hopeless Place)" by Rihanna.