Summary: AU. The one where they have superpowers, and it gets worse from there. Dean/Castiel.
Warnings: Character death.
"I wanted to be a hero."
Castiel toyed with the label on his iced tea. It had ceased to be iced tea the moment Dean had seized it from him and had poured a generous amount of rum into it. "When I was a child, I thought I would be able to save this world."
"Like Superman punching that asteroid?" Dean said.
"Like Superman," he said. He took a sip and handed the bottle to Dean. It tasted overly sugared, with a hint of bite behind it. He wondered if that was what it tasted like to his father – the bottles he'd drunk from. "I thought I'd grow up to…punch an asteroid. Be a hero. Be a world changer."
"When I was a kid, I thought I'd destroy the Nazis."
"You were a few years too late."
"I know that now," Dean said, taking a drink without wiping the mouth of the bottle. He looked washed out against the saffron yellow walls of his own dorm room. "I could've killed them all. All at once. No bombs, no guns. No violence. "
"All of them," he agreed, accepting the iced tea mix when Dean offered it to him. The alcohol was burning holes into his throat. He took another nip from the bottle. The mouth of it was warm and slightly damp from Dean's mouth, but he supposed he'd had Dean's tongue in his mouth already.
"Yeah, we all wanted to be goddamn heroes," he said. "You can see where that got us."
The first time Castiel met Dean, three years ago, he was on a tour of the campus. He had sat down next to Castiel, even though the rest of the row of chairs was empty, and grinned at him.
"Cool scars. Where'd you buy them?"
"They're Lichtenberg figures," he muttered, pulling the sleeves of his trench coat further down over his wrists. He knew the scars were there, seared across his skin in the form of neurons or the branches of trees.
"I'm not looking for any fancy Russian names."
They sat, silent, watching the speaker drop her notecards on the floor. Dean, despite all appearances, felt safer than any other person in the room. Such a strange man. "I got struck by lightning."
"Yes. When I was a kid."
"Dude, that is badass."
"You'd think so, wouldn't you?"
"Really, think about it, though," his eyes flicked down to the nametag stuck to Castiel's clothing, "Cas. You were staring death in the face, and you pissed on his shoes. If I were you, I'd be showing your Licking –something figures off."
The night, they fit together like puzzle pieces. His lips on Castiel's caused the sparks of static shock, and they flickered back and forth between blameless and condemned.
There are pieces of paper stuck to the wall where Dean tore the posters down. There are pictures piled on his desk, pieces of ripped paper shoved to the floor. Castiel supposed that he didn't want the reminders of what they thought they could have been. All that was left was the map of the city, with its red thumbtacks and color-coded strings. Castiel would have torn the whole thing down, if it didn't feel like the only thing left of home.
Dean's fingers grazed over the ridged scars, those Lichtenberg marks.
He did, for a moment, wonder. If Castiel had survived the lightning, would Dean be able to strike him down? Or would he just be left with Dean's scars, scrawled on the inside of her skull?
"You saved a seat, Dean?" said the man as he sat down next to Dean, idly flipping through a program. He had long brown hair and green eyes, and was as tall as Michael had been before he left.
"You got it, Sammy," Dean said, throwing an arm around him.
"So, you are…" Castiel ventured.
"Gross, Dean, god. He's my…" he shot a glare at Dean, "brother."
"You weren't saving a seat, were you?" said Sam, picking at the program. "Dean doesn't have boundaries at a-"
"Oh God, you're still on that?"
"You were having sex on my bed! And no, before you say it, I don't care how hot she was!"
The speaker launched into her speech, and Sam and Dean didn't move from their seats. As they both bickered under their breath, Castiel inexplicably found himself okay with that.
There were still appearances to keep up. Classes. Work. Castiel threw on his suit jacket and trench coat, the one Dean said made him look like a tax accountant. His walk to his class skipped by him in bits and pieces, as tedious tasks often did. The doctors had said, very reasonably, that he could expect memory lapses after the strike. At the moment, he hadn't considered it a larger problem as opposed to the ugly part of it – the marks.
The classroom is thrown into stark, florescent light, where Castiel has began to prefer darkness.
Two students in the desks next to him whisper in between clicking away on their phones. "Yeah, I was right, it was in Roxbury. Six of them."
"Yeah. It's the damndest thing."
It was two and a half years before they figured out exactly what drew them together. The overprotective older brother (of only a year), the bookworm, and that scar guy, a perfect match, somehow.
They were driving back from a concert by a mediocre rock band. The rain had made soft pitter patters on the roof of the Impala, and Castiel, his head propped on the cool glass of the window in the backseat, was drifting off.
Then, the semi truck ran its red light, and plowed into the passenger side.
There were holes, holes in his head. There was blood, on his hands, and the window he'd rested his head on was broken and smeared with it.
"Dean?" he called, the seats in front of him where they once were empty. "Sam?" The windshield was shattered under the force of its frame bending, both doors of the front seat flown wide open.
Castiel unstrapped his seat belt and groped at the door next to him, his thankfully not the side impacted and crumpled from the crash. The door opened, creaking with protest, and he slid out of the seat of Dean's much loved, much destroyed baby.
Sam's long hair was matted with rain where he was bent over Dean on the side of the road, the rain washing away Dean's thick running blood into the drain. The horn of the truck was blaring over any sound Castiel might make, on top of the sirens in the distance.
Castiel would have broken into a run, find Dean, save Dean, but his limbs were too clumsy, his mind stuffed with cotton. Instead, leaning heavily against the car, he watched a white light glow bright in Sam's eyes, before enveloping both him and Dean whole. For a moment, the world was bright as day. Then, it cleared, and Dean's blood stopped running.
That was when Sam looked up. His lips formed the name "Cas", his hands still on either side of Dean's face, and it was okay. The lightning cracked above in flashes, the thunder roared, and it was okay.
It was all over his Facebook wall.
Trending Articles: "The Boston Killer: Struck Again. A witness discovered this Saturday morning what is now considered to be victim number thirteen."
"very scary. Stay indoors and stay safe, Boston friends."
"My thoughts are with the victim and their family. 3"
"This bastard should go in the ground and STAY THERE"
A few days after the crash. Castiel had called his mother – in a fit of temporary insanity he would attribute to the concussion. He hadn't spoke to Dean or Sam at all since the accident.
"Castiel?" There was the sound of kids shrieking in the background. Castiel wondered if Rachel really felt like a mother to those children, as opposed to him. They had never quite synced up – his father was the one he had loved, and he was dead.
"How are you?"
"I'm well. Listen, honey, can you call me back? Inias is coming home any minute now, I'm sorry –"
"Yeah." Castiel swallowed around the lump in his throat.
"Call me back in a couple of hours, okay? I'm preparing dinner now. Bye-bye."
"Bye," he said, and listened for gentle click and the dead air.
"Did you see the news?" Castiel said as he entered Dean's room, unsurprised to see Dean lying in the same position in bed as when Castiel had left.
"Yeah, I did."
"Are we still-"
He casted his eyes to the board. Neat, cursive handwriting, interrupted by his own disjointed letters. The red string, leading to the different suspects. The pictures of the victims that they'd managed to dig up on search engines and in articles.
"Why haven't you taken this down, then?"
"Why haven't you?"
He sighed and sat down on the bed, covering his face with his hands. "I don't know."
"You…can heal people," Castiel said.
Sam fidgeted nervously with his hair. "You can't tell anyone, okay? No one. You can't. I'll get killed."
Castiel clinged tightly to his sleeve, covering up the space where his marks were. "I understand."
Dean scoffed where he leaned against the wall, more brooding than Castiel had ever seen him. His head looked good as new – and Castiel remembered where it was cracked open, before. "Do you?"
He remembered the anger before the lightning hit him, all of those years ago. That there were no storm clouds in the sky. "I caused the lightning."
"The lightning wasn't random. I got angry, and I caused it. I caused the lightning." He didn't remember what he was angry about. Only the shock electrifying his bones, and that he was screaming even before he felt it.
They all stood in stone silence for several long moments.
"Healing, and lightning?" Dean said. "You're like the goddamn Avengers, guys. We could be superheroes."
"Shut up, Dean," said Sam.
"I'm serious. What use are these things if you don't do anything good with it?"
It snowed, that night. Caged by Dean's presence in the room, and the darkness wrapped around him like a blanket, he threw on his coat and went out into it.
It was heavy. It fell thick on top of rooftops and cars and the sidewalks, blanketing it in a thick layer of white. The dirty things hidden away under a curtain, at least until they bled through. He stared up at the windows, the light spilling out onto the grass of the courtyard. So, he kept walking, until he hit the Charles River Basin.
The water moved sluggishly in the cold, the snow landing in it taken up nonetheless. Standing near the shore, he stared. The lightning cracked through the sky, flashing through the snow. Historic, maybe. He stared at the snow over the water. And stared, and let the lightning and thunder roar his wrath above.
The lighting hit him, again, but it didn't hurt. It glowed white in the course of the scars, and he let it. The snow fell on him in light flakes, sticking to his eyelashes. But the truth coursing through the Lichtenberg marks, however much it hurt, was better than the lie.
"We should hunt the Boston Killer," he said.
Dean's laugh caught in his throat. "What?"
"He's killed twelve people," Castiel said, tapping on the paper proclaiming it so.
"That's right. He's killed twelve people. I'm not letting him kill one more, even an idiot with lightning powers," said Sam, snatching the paper away from him.
"You can heal," Castiel said. "I'd be safe. I'd be with you. We can track him down. I can taze him. We can put him in front of the police station. Easy."
"Yeah, easy," said Sam. "It's not like the police have been trying to do that." "He doesn't have you."
"You've thought about this a lot, haven't you?" said Dean.
"Yes, I have," he said. "He's killed people. This has happened long enough."
Sam sighed, looking at the paper. Castiel knew that on the front page there was a picture of the last girl who was killed – the 18-year-old from Iowa. "We're going to do research first, okay? And practice."
"Of course," said Castiel.
They researched. For weeks, they researched. Sam healed minor scrapes and wounds, broken legs and dislocated fingers. Castiel practiced his tazer, watching the lightning flow from his fingertips. And, all through it, Dean complained.
"How come you two chicks get superpowers and I don't?"
"I don't know, Dean," Castiel sighed, offering up his seared hand for Sam to heal.
"I'm serious. I'm awesome, right? I'd be the forerunner."
"Shut up, Dean," said Sam, grasping Castiel's hand. Castiel watched the glow build in Sam's eyes, and watched the skin knit together in his hand.
"You're getting better at that," Castiel said.
"He's always been good at it," Dean commented, wadding up the paper he had been scribbling on and missing the throw into the wastepaper basket. "Remember that dislocated shoulder? The first time?"
Sam smiled, watching as the sore pinkness of Castiel's new skin faded away. "I've been patching him up for years, now."
"Did he ever almost die? Before the crash?"
Sam let go of Castiel's hand. "No," he said. "And he won't ever again."
"Do you think they deserved to die?" Castiel said. News outlets had covered the anomaly, the heavy lightning and thunder during the snowstorm. There were a lot of anomalies, that week.
"Yeah," he said.
"You think they didn't? After everything that happened?"
"I don't know," he said, quiet.
"Eye for an eye," he said. "And a throat for a throat."
After months, they thought they were close to ready. The Boston Killer had not yet struck again – the entire city and campus was on red alert.
"We should practice," said Sam. "Go out." He smiled. Fight crime."
"Like Batman?" said Dean, closing his laptop.
"Yeah, sure, like Batman, whatever," said Sam. "I just think that we should try some small fries before taking out this guy. He knows what he's doing."
"He does," said Castiel, staring up at the board. The different dump sites (the river, the park, the dumpster). The swift yet brutal method – their throats slashed open, left to bleed.
"We could try patrolling," suggested Dean. "Dorchester, or something."
"You are not patrolling anything," said Sam. "You don't have any defense."
"I think I could defend myself better than you ladies."
"You'd think wrong,"
"Sam," said Castiel. "He's right. He could be backup."
"I've had to heal him once," said Sam. "I don't want him to get himself hurt again."
"He won't," Castiel promised. "I can knock them out. Nobody will get hurt." "I'm going, Sam. You can't stop me, even if I have to knock you unconscious," Dean added.
Sam heaved a sigh. "Fine. But you both listen to me. Completely. We're patrolling Roxbury at 11:00 tomorrow, alright?"
"Awesome," Dean said, opening his laptop again. "I'm wearing camo."
They found themselves kissing again, without cause, without reason. Dean's teeth tore through the soft flesh of his bottom lip, and he let them. The blood tasted wrong on his tongue, but again so right. Outside, the rain washed away the snow, and exposed the foundations for what they were.
In between breaths, he whispered, "You hate me, don't you?"
"No," he said, and kissed him.
Castiel pushed him away. "But you blame me."
Silence. "Maybe," he said, and let the rain drown out the sound of their breaths.
They were beating a guy up.
The group of six. Just hitting him and hitting him, ignoring his calls for help. There was blood, but Castiel was used to it. He slipped down the alleyway, silent as the night, Sam and Dean close behind him. There were grunts and broken yells. And then, Castiel stepped forward, his hand buzzing with the power.
But really, how could he have known?
It didn't rain during the funeral. But the ground was covered in slush, thick, a dirty grey. He joined his hand with Dean's and thought that this family he built could not be grown back, like his mother's. It could only be fractured.
It was fast.
There was a shot. It was so fast, too blurred, his vision smeared with tears and his brain slower with the shock. There was blood on the dirty concrete of the alleyway, too fast, too flowing, and Sam's dark hair was matted down with it.
"Sam, just heal, Sam, Sam," Castiel was breathing in Sam's ear, listening to him make those choked little noises. The thugs had stopped, shocked into silence. Not from Sam's injury, no, but from the shadows, stretching from around Dean like hungry, searching hands.
"Sam," Castiel said, cupping his face. "Sam, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry Sam, please just…"
The light flared in Sam's eyes, so brief. And then, it was gone.
Castiel closed his eyes and hugged the body close, weighted so heavy with the knowing. No more late nights of plotting. No more salads, or cheesy horror movie nights that Castiel couldn't stand. No more, nothing. Because of him. Because of Castiel, and he knew that this was where his world would die. On a dirty alleyway floor, a second away from greatness, because that was his punishment for wanting to be a hero when he was anything but.
There was screaming, and he looked up. He watched, could only watch, as the shadows engulfed the six like a rising tide, and drowned them out. The husks were left behind, and they were gone in silence.
The world was cold. Dean fell beside him, and he was so cold.
There was no white light. There was no rain, no snow, no lightning, and no blaring horns. Only silence.
This was why, as the Boston Killer raged on, they left him. They left him for icy kisses and grasping hands. They left him for fragments of what had been, and they remembered him for tastes of what could have been, before it was slaughtered so briefly on an alleyway floor. Sam's death was so brief, it seemed an insult to him.
Sam was buried, and Castiel wanted to forget, forever, the family. Castiel wanted to forget that Sam and Dean found him. Forget the fault, instead of leaving it to fester. He wanted to forget looking into Dean's eyes and seeing himself in the pain, the guilt.
"We wanted to be heroes," Dean said one dark night, their hands tangled together so tight Castiel could not tell whose fingers were whose.
He couldn't come up with a response to Dean, too tired to gather up his fragments.