Based off of a post by corpsecas on tumblr.
The banner at the entrance is tacky and in poor taste, with lots of blood splatter and oozy lettering and really, it's not scary in the slightest bit; at least that's what Castiel tells himself as they pass beneath it, steeling himself and squaring his shoulders in resolve. He might not be here by his own free will, but that didn't mean he had to succumb to Gabriel's teasing or Michael's less than sympathetic remarks geared towards the fact that he is seventeen years old and above being frightened by this sort of thing. The group of freshman that push past them in a sprint towards the maze entrance doesn't serve to make Castiel feel any better about himself, either. He can only be grateful that Luke had already gone ahead with his eyes set on the face painting booth, sparing Castiel his special brand of backwards comfort that usually resulted in Castiel questioning his motives.
Of course, all of this had been Gabriel's idea (the only one capable of bringing them together like this, and subsequently the one that always manages to send them all to their wit's ends), and while Cas had tried to protest against joining them it had been in vain. Gabriel wasn't leaving the house without ensuring "my baby bro gets into the Halloween spirit," and Anna was thrilled to have the house left for herself and whoever she decided to invite over in their absence. So Castiel may have come along, but he wasn't going to bother putting up a front that he was enjoying himself.
"Lighten up, Cas!" Gabriel knocks into him with a shoulder, grinning ear to ear. Castiel has nothing to offer his brother in return but the corners of his mouth turning down, eyes flickering towards the corn maze they are rapidly approaching.
This year's maze was in the shape of a maniacal werewolf howling at the full moon, and Castiel had spent a good half hour online studying the design last night. He probably would've had it down had Gabriel not burst into his room and made lengthy proclamations about Castiel ruining the fun and not living life on the edge. That, and Gabriel had taken his computer and ran, hid it somewhere that Castiel still hadn't figured out.
"You do know of course that they take the blades off," Michael comments, sounding almost bored as he surveys the grounds. The clearing is a bustle of activity, alive with zombies, vampires, and the generic blood and guts portrayals of murder victims. They even pass some sort of contorted and deranged nurse figure (a movie reference Cas assumes, though he couldn't tell you which) and Gabriel makes a show of gawking and winking salaciously, until Michael rolls his eyes and drags Gabe back by an elbow. In fact all of it, the smell of fried food and sugary confections, screaming and laughing teenagers running around, and the general festive atmosphere of it, seems to be in direct conflict to Michael's idea of a good time, and yet, his eldest brother had claimed he was tagging along in order to keep them all out of trouble; or in other words, to keep an eye on Gabriel to make sure he didn't end up at the back of the parking lot with the contorted deranged nurse figure.
Now that they're here though, Michael seems to be at least resigned, if not wholly apathetic, to spending his Friday night running through ten acres of corn and twisting bark trails in darkness. Not that Castiel envisions Michael running through the maze at all; more like striding with purpose towards the finish. Cas, on the other hand, is not so confident, despite yesterday's efforts at memorization. Aside from the fact that they'd only have the moon to light their way once in the heart of the maze, or the swarm of other people trying to race through, or the workers, hired to chase after them revving chainsaws, Castiel is certain, without a doubt, that he will be left behind. No matter how many times Gabriel reassures him that they'll stick together, Cas has seventeen years of experience being Gabriel's brother to go on, and he knows well enough by now that Gabriel will take any opportunity to have a laugh at his expense. Which is all this trip really is, Castiel decides as they line up at the start point.
"Remember to keep up Cas," Gabe quips and looks over to him, one corner of his mouth quirked up.
"Remember to not deliberately leave me behind," is Castiel's reply, and his voice is steadier than the rising anxiety beneath his skin makes him feel. Which, that's his true hangup; Cas could deal with the dark, the noise, and he fully acknowledges that behind the masks are just regular people drenched in red corn syrup, hired to give them a scare. Left on his own however, all of this rational thinking gets thrown out the window. Cas grits his teeth.
"Five minutes till." The voice sounds from behind and Cas turns to find Luke, now sporting a series of wounds, dotting across his forehead and down the sides of his face. He looks like he's rotting from the inside out, and considering how small the face painting booth is Castiel deems it a pretty damn good job.
"Finally portraying your inner beauty," Gabe shoots him, but Luke only grins, all teeth, before slinging an arm around Gabriel's shoulders.
It's quite the sight, considering Gabriel's own interpretation of customary Halloween garb, outfitted in a full onmaître d' getup, complete with a fake mustache. Which makes it two out of the four of them that fit in with most of the crowd tonight. Michael had bypassed Gabriel's offering of a strap on pair of fluffy white angel wings (Castiel's not sure what possessed Gabriel to own them, nor is he going to ask) and Castiel had likewise refused the pair of cat ears Gabe had tried to stick on his head before leaving the house, though Gabriel commented afterward that it was okay, he looked enough like a ghost already. An unfair assessment, not like he could get much sun under the greying October skies.
But today had been a rarity, with a clear blue sky unobstructed by clouds, the sunlight pleasant against the chill rising in the autumn air. When they'd pulled into the gravel parking lot the sun had just been setting, twilight breaking out across the horizon, giving way to the faint twinkling of the stars and the glow of the moon as night truly begins to descend upon them.
The lights set up at the booths and around the perimeter of the maze throw a bright fluorescent glare on everything, Castiel squinting against it as they shuffle restlessly in the growing line outside the maze entrance, impatient as they wait for eight to roll around. People around them are chattering excitedly, and in the background Cas is vaguely aware of Gabriel laughing, but Cas pays him no mind. The rubber lining of his sneakers bends as Cas leans up on his toes, though it's not much use, the stalks of corn easily doubling him in height. From where he stands though he has a good view of the path leading into the start of the maze, currently manned by a worker who has donned a set of fangs. Cas can see it, the mouth of the entrance and how the light from the perimeter only seeps a few feet inward until it drops off completely, consumed by the night and the looming stalks. But other than the laughing of other thrill seekers and the quiet whisper of the wind, their surroundings are otherwise unassuming, absent of any heart stopping shrieks or rumbling chainsaws. Cas doesn't trust it.
The relative peace of it all is broken up at any rate. Something solid collides with Castiel's back and it sends him bumping into Gabriel, the only thing that keeps him from going to the ground. There's suddenly a hand around his wrist and he's being dragged along, Gabriel urging him, "Come on Cas it's go time!" as feet shuffle around them and the faster people race ahead.
With so many people jockeying to get in front it leaves little room for their group, much less to walk four wide along the path. Michael takes the lead with Gabriel, Luke trailing right behind with Cas taking up the rear, sticking close to the wall of corn stalks at his side as they come up on the first split in the path only a few feet in. Luckily most of the maze enthusiasts are already well ahead of them in their crazy desire to rush headfirst into the darkness, and it offers them a chance to at least try and get their bearings; or, for Michael to begin dictating which direction they should go.
"Left," Michael informs the group without looking back, not that it would have done him much good, anyway. Cas can hardly see five feet in front of himself, much less up to Michael. But they take the left, Cas following close behind Luke and walking light on his feet, bark chips crunching softly underfoot. Not much further away, a scream rings out, stalks of corn rustling and the whining sound of a chainsaw following.
It has Cas pressing into Luke's back, close enough to be shoving him forward, the beat in Castiel's chest just quickening the slightest. He can feel the quiet rumble of Luke chuckling in front of him but he'll tolerate it, so long as they take the shortest route out of here.
Another twist and turn brings them further away from where they started, and there's a handful of people-a group of girls-that pass by them going the other direction.
"Ladies!" Gabriel exclaims and it almost has Castiel hissing, because the last thing they need to be doing is announcing their presence to all of the masked chainsaw maniacs running around out here. The pack of girls hiss as well, at Gabriel, baring their false sets of fangs, and it takes Michael's guiding hand to keep Gabe from following after them.
They pick up the pace, though somehow Michael maintains a fast walk as the rest of them start a light jog, skirting around corners they can barely see and more than once reaching a dead end. At one turn Michael comes face to face with a zombie girl (doing some horrible clicking sound with her mutilated jaw) and proceeds to brush by her, though she snaps her teeth as Cas passes and hurries along.
Castiel clenches his fingers as they make quick work of the next winding turn, hands gone cold and a bit numb. All around them is the pattering of feet, more shrill screaming further away towards the maze's center and another chorus of chainsaws, the screeching noise shivering underneath Castiel's skin and causing the first signs of goosebumps to rise up, skin at the back of his neck prickling. He's too focused on where his feet are landing, hardly breathing as they cut through a trail that leads them to an open area, too focused on running the Rydberg formula through his head to tune out the rumble of power saws surrounding him, so that Cas nearly jumps out of his skin when there's a rustle and a shout, the tone that Cas recognizes as Gabriel in the split second it takes him to jerk his head up and watch the form burst from the central cluster of corn stalks in the clearing.
It's instant chaos, Luke running into Gabe from behind and Cas following suit, their group a four person pile up in the face of the masked man hoisting a chainsaw above his head. By now Cas's eyes have adjusted to the point where he can make out the form of a traditional Jason hockey mask, and likewise the glint of metal against the moonlight as the chainsaw is lifted, pull cord yanked to let out the first terrible mechanical groan.
They scatter. Even Michael seems to be picking up his lackadaisical pace, but Castiel loses sight of him as he whirls around, intending to take off at a full sprint. His throat feels tight, heart jumping up to lodge there and his breath comes in quick bursts, shaking inhalations through his nose. If they'd been allowed the time to observe, Castiel may have figured out they'd reached the moon, at the top, furthest corner of the maze, fixed with a half dozen paths to choose from. But all Cas can see are the meshing shades of grey and the dark, tall shapes of corn stalks wavering to and fro in front of him, the shape of Gabriel jolting past him, and then absolute darkness as his foot makes contact with a wayward corncob that's fallen onto the ground.
Castiel yelps, high pitched and sudden, though the continuous revving of the saw drowns him out. He scrambles, hands and knees scrabbling against the bark even as he hears the thudding of footsteps grow distant, and if he could regain his voice he might have shouted, called out to Gabriel or Michael or even Luke, because he was right, he was being left behind, they were abandoning him here on the ground and some worker who was a little too into his job was going to saw straight into his back. The maze would get closed down and an ambulance would show up to haul his body out from the between the corn stalks, and then they'd all feel bad for leaving him in a settling cloud of bark dust.
It seems like a good idea to just keep crawling, Cas not even sure if his legs will work properly to outrun the figure behind him, muscles locked and pulled taut. He feels a little disoriented, bark chips clinging to the front of him and he's not certain if he smacked his head or if it's always been this difficult to see, but either way, it's no longer apparent just which path his brothers disappeared down. Cas makes for the one closest to him, turns left and pulls himself to the edge of the stalks. Only when he has that barrier to his back does he stand, getting his feet underneath him and rising up on trembling thighs to find...nothing.
The rumble of the chainsaw is now background noise, the man that had cut them off nowhere to be seen. There are corn stalks, dimly illuminated and shaking gently in the breeze, and there's Cas, shaking gently as he tries to get a grip on himself. His head turns side to side, surveying the empty clearing for what he now recognizes as the moon, thought clicking into place that he's nowhere near the exit. Castiel's stomach clenches, and from beneath the thin covering of his jacket he shivers, running cold.
"Okay," he mutters to himself. "Okay." His breath shudders as he draws it in but Castiel straightens up. In a group they'd made too much sound, were easy targets. Alone he could be quiet, go undetected. A little bitter, Castiel sends out a half-hearted prayer that the rest of his brothers get lost in the snaking paths of the maze.
Mustering the last of his courage he sets off, turns into the path he'd backed up to. It leads him along, a single trail curving inwards and then curving back out, a squiggling line. To his right is a snap, the noise sharp enough to have Cas halting, face tipped to the side to listen, waiting, breath held, until he deems it okay to step forward, eyes squinting against the blackness to peer up ahead, steps light on the ground and fists clenched.
But it doesn't last for long, the path ending in a small loop, a dead end that circles around to lead him back the way he came. For a moment the only thing Cas can do is walk in a circle and chew at his bottom lip, gone dry and chapped from the cold. He looks around forlornly for something he missed, some offshoot that he'd bypassed by accident, because he couldn't go back, couldn't start all over with the process of elimination to see which path led back towards the heart of the maze. Cas's brows crease, and the panic he'd just managed to quell leaps back into his chest, jaw tightening in an attempt to keep breathing, just keeping breath-
It sends a jolt through him, right down to his bones, and Cas jerks his head towards the sound, spies the figure easily when the man is coming right towards him. He's only walking, but the chainsaw idling in his hands is threatening enough on its own. Blunt nails dig into his palms, and there's nowhere for him to go, the trail looping right back around to itself, either way he takes damned. The pain of his teeth cutting into his lip doesn't register, and he knows he should run, at least try, but his feet are leaden weights on the ground, heart hammering and blood pounding in his ears as the man grows closer, steps beneath the glow of the moon to bare his mask, more a woven sack than a proper mask, with rudimentary holes cut for the eyes and a great, curving grin of a mouth.
Castiel isn't aware that he's shaking, isn't aware that his eyesight has gone blurry until the revving of the chainsaw has ceased, the man's arm gone lax, and suddenly it is only a man, mask lifted from his face. He can't be much older than Cas himself, underneath the blood matted in his hair and streaking the side of his face, and Cas isn't sure how the guy is warm enough clad in only a t-shirt, giant rips shredding the front as though torn apart by some great clawed beast.
"Shit. Hey, you alright man?"
The invisible hold at his throat hasn't quite released, but Castiel means to say he's fine, he's okay, but the words won't form when he opens his mouth so he settles with nodding vigorously, arms crossing over his chest as he holds onto his sides.
But even in the dull light Cas watches as the stranger's face softens, mask shoved into his back pocket before he closes the short distance, the chainsaw's engine killed. "I dunno about you," he starts, and the tone of his voice is in such opposition to the horrible whining sound of the chainsaw he'd just been wielding, so nonchalant that it almost seems surreal, "but I'm kinda tired of running around out here. What do you say we take the emergency exit?"
Castiel doesn't even have time to ponder the phrasing before his arms are being pried away so that the guy can take his hand, his palm large and warm and rough, and maybe just the slightest bit reassuring. With a chainsaw hefted up in one hand and Castiel in the other, the employee begins walking them out, back towards the clearing. Cas doesn't do much by way of protest, though his feet seem to be working well enough to follow.
"I'm Dean," the stranger comments, eyeing him from the side as they walk.
"Cas," the guy, Dean, settles on, and that's that. The way back to the clearing doesn't seem to take as long as when he'd been going the other direction, the pair of them stepping out into the open area still hand in hand, which is unnecessary, Castiel decides, as he doesn't need to be led around like a little kid, but Dean isn't looking at him anymore and Cas doesn't feel up to full sentences quite yet.
But there is plenty he would like to say, such as "Isn't this frowned upon?" when, instead of choosing another path or merely pointing Cas in the right direction, Dean stalks towards the opposite corner and veers straight into the corn stalks themselves.
Clearly this isn't even an intended path, the body of the maze rustling around them as they move through closely planted stalks, and more than once Castiel's foot catches or bends one of them by accident. Dean is unrelenting though, keeps a hand firmly grasped on his own as they wade through. And yeah, this definitely isn't something that's encouraged, and Cas is back to biting his lip, except once he catches sight of the edge of the maze any worries about breaking protocol are forgotten, because they're out, breaking through the last of it until they're in the open. A sigh of relief escapes from Cas's mouth, and when he tips his head to Dean he finds the man grinning.
Now, Castiel realizes, would be the time to speak up. "I...thank you. I was with my brothers, but they...we got separated."
"Hey-" Dean shrugs, "don't mention it."
Here is where they will part ways, Castiel figures. Dean will send him on his way and don his mask, go back to chasing after people with his chainsaw. Cas is nearly slipping out of Dean's hold, too, can see which direction to head to get back to the booths, fluorescent lights guiding his way, when Dean speaks up again.
"You like candy apples?"
"What?" Castiel's eyes narrow at Dean, mouth quirking and head just tilting to the side. "I- I don't know."
"You don't know?" And it seems he's already managed to offend Dean if his tone is anything to go by, disbelief and shock and something like dismay all wrapped up in one small frown on Dean's face.
"I've never had one," Cas admits, as if it hadn't been evident enough already that he was not big on Halloween, and Gabriel tended to hog the sweets anyway.
"Alright," Dean huffs, and Cas is growing increasingly nervous now. He's somehow angered Dean after only knowing him for a handful of minutes, and the man was still in possession of a chainsaw, after all. "Alright we're gonna fix this."
That's all Dean offers before tugging him forward again, moving with new determination, and Cas's feet quicken to keep up. In all actuality the perimeter of the maze isn't that extensive, and they end up emerging from behind the cotton candy stand and the face painting booth, a flood of light meeting them. A few people are already milling about, people who've made it out alive or people who had been smart enough to stay back in the first place. Cas doesn't spot any three of his brothers, though he's not sure at the moment if he's grateful or disappointed at that.
The brightness is harsh considering the relatively darkness he'd been running around in, and Cas squints until his eyes readjust. It's a definite improvement though, not only for the safety of being out of the maze, but for the fact that he can now see Dean's face, no longer hidden in shadows. Cas glances to his side to get a good look at Dean's bloody profile, even more vivid under the light. There's little finesse to the makeup job but it's compensated by quantity, a gash to the side of his head that covers a good half of Dean's face, another cut across his forehead, a busted lip. There's more blood staining his shirt, soaked into his skin behind the shredded piece of clothing, but even as the wind rustles around them Dean doesn't so much as shiver.
Castiel blinks, eyes trailing back up, and his lip is already bitten raw but he draws the corner in again, a touch embarrassed at having been caught staring. Dean only gives him a small smile before leading him onward.
The candy apple booth is only a few stalls down, held down by a girl with long blonde hair fallen over her shoulders as she leans out with her elbows against the table top, lips pursed and looking disinterested in the activity. Dean takes a moment to stop them short of approaching.
"Red or green?"
Cas contemplates it, though being that he has no experience in this department, it doesn't make much of a difference to him. On a whim, he answers, "Green."
Dean nods, turns back towards the girl, but he sets his chainsaw off to the booth's side before anything.
"Finally giving up your post to me, Winchester?" The girl perks up a bit, eyes skirting towards Cas for a split second before refocusing. "Not cut out for it huh, don't have that killer instinct?"
Castiel can't quite tell if this is considered banter between them or an actual argument, though Dean seems to take her quips in stride.
"Well I'm sure even old Leatherface had his soft spots." Dean shakes his hand out, flexes his fingers and then leans up against the booth, rapping his knuckles against the top. "Two green, Jo. On the house."
The girl, Jo, looks sorely unamused.
Dean tries again, voice dropping as his hand splays out. "Fine, just have Ellen take it out of my pay."
This seems to do the trick, and while Jo doesn't look any happier for it she does give in and hands over two apples to Dean, one of which he offers to Cas after tipping his head in thanks to Jo. Cas takes it after a moment's hesitation, though he hadn't intended the freeing of Dean's hand to be an invitation for his to be taken again, though Dean doesn't seem to care about this detail as his fingers curl back over Castiel's own. He only steers them towards the line of picnic tables set up, taking a seat at the end, Cas having no choice but to sink down at his side.
The apple in his hand is shiny with a hard coating of sugary glaze, crushed peanuts coating the bottom half. It's definitely more Gabriel's kind of thing, and Castiel twists it around on its stick, inspecting.
Next to him Dean laughs. "Dude there's no razor or anything." Cas looks up, frowning, but Dean holds up three fingers. "Scout's honor."
Tentatively Cas takes a bite, teeth breaking through the hard glaze and already he's anticipating the ache in his mouth for how sugary it is. Dean's own munch is much louder, and they sit in silence like that for awhile, eating and watching the passersby. Cas's hand twitches, thoroughly warmed up and resting in Dean's palm, and he's almost gotten used to the sensation now, is more reluctant to bring his fingers out into the cold again.
"Thank you," Cas states again. "I'm feeling better now."
"Hey," Dean replies around chewing, "you didn't look like you were having that great of a time." His shoulder lifts in a shrug.
"No." Castiel agrees. "I wasn't. This was my brother's idea." He'd rather be at home, curled up on the couch, maybe with a book or watching one of those late night black and white horror movies, the really old ones with exaggerated acting, to the point where they could no longer be scary. At least that was his mindset when he'd arrived, but sitting here with Dean eating too sweet candy apples and getting one hand warmed, well, it's passable.
"The one that ditched you." Which wasn't how he remembers explaining it, but Castiel doesn't say anything to the contrary.
"Actually there are three of them. I tripped, though, and I didn't see which way they went..."
"I know." Dean motions to his jacket, bark still clinging on. Dean leans back, props up an elbow and turns his body inward. Cas notes that Dean's already finished his apple, lone stick held loosely in his spare hand. "You're not big on Halloween, are ya."
"Am I that transparent?"
Dean's face stills, eyes widening a fraction and lending Cas a bit of amusement, until Dean breaks out into a chuckle. "Well what about Poltergeist?"
Cas shakes his head, though he's at least familiar with the title and the fact that it's what is now considered a classic.
Considering Dean's not been in anyway shy since he made his approach, it strikes Cas as odd now how he ducks his head and looks back up beneath his lashes. "Well, if you want, we can watch it. I mean, on Halloween. It's just- it'll be me and my brother, Sam, and Jo will probably stop by. It's sort of tradition, or whatever. If your not doing anything, I mean, I don't know if you're going out with your brothers again, but they kind of seem like dicks. No offense."
If nothing else, Castiel finds the sudden rambling endearing, brows lifting at the offering, apple fallen off to the side in disinterest.
"I mean you don't have to you know, that's cool-"
"No." It's as far as Cas allows Dean to backtrack. "Alright." Cas nods, once, absolute. "I'd like that."
"Really?" Cas can feel the twitch of Dean's fingers against his own hand. "Great. That's good."
However, one thing Cas feels the need to make clear, voice solemn as he informs, "I'm not promising I won't jump or hide my face."
"That's okay, Cas." Dean's back to grinning, mouth curving up easily, and it suits him, Cas thinks, as does the wink Dean sends him, though it has Cas's cheeks heating up. "I can hold your hand."
Thanks for reading, comments/crit much appreciated!