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An Island Unto Himself for Kuwlshadow

Sharing the story here.  I participated in the spn_summergen challenge, which is basically a gift exchange.  This story was written for me and I think it is pretty darn awesome.  I do not know who the writer is and probably won't know until the end of the challenge.  But who ever it is thank you for writing me a deaged Cas plus Dean & Sam adventure story!!!


Originally posted by summergen_mod at An Island Unto Himself, forkuwlshadow
Title: An Island Unto Himself
Recipient: kuwlshadow
Rating: G
Word Count: ~14000
Warnings: None
Summary: Written based on two prompts. 1) Castiel gets de-aged physically (with or without mentally de-aging) and Sam and Dean have care for Castiel. They are besides themselves as they try to care for him while trying to find a way to return him to his former self. 2) Dean and Sam find themselves stranded on a dangerous island. They find themselves with no weapons. They are being stalked by something dangerous and the boys have to figure out what creature it is and find a way to fight against it plus to find a way home. Tiniest crossover with the Stargate Multiverse (Amanda Tapping played Samantha Carter in Stargate and Naomi in Supernatural.) Set in Season 9 before Road Trip. Blink and you miss it SGA quote.



“We have a problem.”

Dean looked up from the book he was studying. Sam didn’t use that phrase lightly. “What’s up?”

Sam held out his cell phone. “Listen to this.” He played a voicemail message.

An unfamiliar woman said, “Hi, this is Cassandra Chapman from Child Protective Services in El Paso County, Colorado. I’m looking for any known relatives of a child who identifies himself as James Castiel Novak. He’s about five years old, and he says his father left him, and his brothers and sisters have abandoned him, but he thinks he has an Uncle Dean in Kansas, and this was the number he gave us. He’s been placed in an emergency foster home, but we like to have children placed with kin if at all possible. Please call me back.”

And she rattled off a phone number.

“A child?” Dean asked. He flinched instinctively whenever he heard Child Protective Services, had gone to great lengths as a kid to make sure he and Sam never ended up in their clutches.

“It gets better,” Sam said, and played the next message.

A piping child’s voice intoned, with Castiel’s awkward and flat inflection, “Sam, Dean, it’s me, Castiel. I need you to come find me. Something happened. I’m a child, and it is very distressing. I’m in Colorado Springs.”

“That’s a new one,” Dean said.

Sam sighed. “It’s entirely possible. Cursed artefact. Fountain of youth. Maybe Cas got body-swapped with a child, like that one time with me and that kid Gary.”

“Social services won’t let us take him,” Dean said. “We’re both legally dead. And before that we were wanted by the FBI. Hell, the FBI had us in Colorado. Showing our faces there is just asking for arrest.”

“Cas is human,” Sam said. “And he’s out there alone.” He pursed his lips in disapproval; they’d had words more than once about the fact that Dean had sent Cas away. Sam still didn’t know why. He didn’t know about Ezekiel inside him either. “If he’s been turned into a child, he’s extra vulnerable.”

Dean sighed. “Okay, fine. But we need a pretty damn good ruse. And maybe a disguise.”



*



Dean drove the entire six hours from Lebanon to Colorado Springs while Sam hit the Internet in search of procedures for how to obtain a child in state’s custody. The entire way, Dean alternated between fretting about getting arrested and thrown in jail and what was happening to child Cas in the clutches of the evil, evil Child Protective Services. How were they even going to get into the building without getting slapped into cuffs and locked away forever? Sam got Charlie on the phone and asked her to fake up documents for them - credit history, job history, police records - a few traffic tickets - medical history, insurance, tax history, ownership of their own home in Lebanon. They were Sam and Dean Smith, residents of Lebanon, Kansas. Dean was a mechanical engineer. Sam was a librarian. They were related to James Castiel Novak through his mother, who had died just after he was born.

“It's enough to pass a federal background check for a child but not much else,” Charlie said. “Good luck. Send pictures of the little guy.”

Sam thanked her and made a note in his phone to swing by the post office and pick up the package of credentials she was sending their way.

It was the middle of the night when they got to Colorado Springs, and they shelled out a little extra for a nicer motel so they wouldn't look too shady if the social worker wanted to see where they were staying. Sending Sam and Dean in together was just asking to be recognized, so Dean agreed to go in alone. Despite having more law enforcement after him, he was less recognizable because he was shorter.

Dean stared at the website Sam had pulled up about dealing with social services. “This is going to be impossible.”

Disguising Dean and getting into the El Paso County Social Services office was simple enough. A fake pair of Buddy Holly glasses, judicial application of hair gel, and a button-down shirt and khakis turned Dean into a responsible-looking adult. As it turned out, getting Cassandra Chapman - short, stout, motherly, but young-looking - to let him see Cas was the easy part.

“Tell me about James.” Cassandra’s desk was crammed into a small cubicle in a beehive of cubicles in an open bullpen where all the other social workers were stationed.

“He goes by Cas, actually. He’s a nice kid, a bit...odd. His older brothers think he has - what's that thing? Like Autism, only not as bad. Where he’s a little awkward and bad at social cues.”

“Asperger’s,” Cassandra said sympathetically. “He answers to Jimmy sometimes.”

“That's new,” Dean said, and filed that away for later.

“Are his parents like this? Prone to just - leaving him?”

“His mom died right after he was born,” Dean said. He looked away. “Our big sister.” He swallowed hard. “His dad was always a deadbeat, though. Cas’s oldest brother Michael basically raised him.”

“He said his brothers and sisters abandoned him. How many siblings does he have?” Cassandra was taking notes.

“His dad kind of, uh, got around, and I could never keep track of all the kids he had. I really only knew Michael and Gabriel. And Luke. That guy was a jerk. I wasn't surprised when Luke didn't answer his phone, but for the other two not to is so bizarre. I mean, we're not that close, because they're not my sister’s kids. Cas was kind of a surprise baby, and we only saw him a handful of times, but we always liked him.”

Cassandra nodded for him to keep going.

“I guess maybe those boys were more like their father than any of us wanted to think.” Dean cleared his throat. “Where did you find him?”

“Walking along the side of I-70,” Cassandra said. “He was wearing a suit and a tie and a tan gray overcoat. He said he was coming to find you. He said he hadn’t been alone long, but he couldn’t tell us his address or phone number, just yours.”

Damn. Cas had been completely shrunk, clothes and all.

“Can I see him?” Dean asked.

Cassandra nodded. She made Dean surrender a copy of his driver’s license - the one Charlie had faked up for him and overnighted - to be copied, made him fill out a form for his background check, and then she drove him over to the foster home. It was in a nice suburban neighborhood at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. There were kid bicycles and scooters scattered on the lawn and a basketball hoop over the garage door. Cassandra parked, and she and Dean went to ring the doorbell.

The foster mother, Leann, was a pretty woman, in her late thirties, with red-blond hair and bright green eyes. “Cassandra, so good to see you.”

“Leann, this is Dean, Jimmy’s uncle,” Cassandra said, and Dean shook hands politely.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for the little guy,” Dean said, trying to project Sam’s sincerity as much as possible.

“He’s in the back with the other kids. Come on in.”

Leann’s house was warm and homey. She had pictures of seemingly dozens of kids on the walls. Dean picked his way carefully around several piles of toys - Leann hollered for someone named Victor to come clean up his mess - and followed Leann and Cassandra through the kitchen, out a sliding door, and onto a broad, expansive lawn. The kind of lawn he’d enjoyed playing on when he was a kid.

He knew Castiel immediately, even though he was wearing a Snoopy shirt and little cargo shorts, because he was sitting on one of the swings, not swinging, and watching the other children with laser-intense focus.

“Cas,” Dean said, and the boy - he didn’t look much older than five - rose up immediately, headed toward Dean.

“What took so long?” Cas demanded, coming to stand before Dean and gazing up at him, uncaring of the height difference.

Dean knelt so they were eye-level. “We drove all night.”

“Fix me,” Cas said.

Leann cast Cassandra an anxious look. “He’s been saying that over and over. That he wants to be fixed. But he won’t tell me what’s broken.”

Dean said, “Sam and I will do our best, all right? You know Sam’s the best at research. We’ll make sure to get you fixed up right as rain.”

Cassandra cast him a questioning look, but he shook his head, mouthed, Later.

Cas frowned at him. “Don’t talk to me like I’m a child. I’m not a child.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean said sincerely. “You just look like a child, remember?”

Castiel frowned but appeared resigned to his fate. “I remember.”

Dean stood up, turned to Cassandra. “What now?”

She beckoned him away from Cas’s hearing.

“The shelter hearing is on Monday,” she said. “If his father can’t be reached before then, the judge will probably continue the hearing to try to get him served.”

“That guy ran off a dozen times when his other kids were growing up,” Dean said. “Good luck finding him. Why can’t Sam and I just take him home?”

“Well, he’s under the jurisdiction of the court here.”

This was the moment Dean needed Sam, but Sam had made him drill this part over and over again. He could do it. He had a GED and a give ‘em hell attitude. “I don’t understand why. Cas isn’t from Colorado. The entire family is from Illinois.”

Cassandra blinked. “Oh. Jimmy didn’t say. He couldn’t tell us where he was from.”

Dean fired up his smartphone and opened up the web browser app. He found the exact image Sam had tracked down for him, one of the missing posters Amelia Novak had made for her husband in the year Cas was helping them unintentionally open Lucifer’s cage.

“See? This isn’t the first time Jimmy’s dad’s gone walkabout.”

“Wow. The resemblance is uncanny.” Cassandra sighed. “Poor kid. Look, I’d have to talk to my attorney, but if Jimmy - Cas - is from Illinois, then we’d have to send him back there. You said you’re from Kansas, though. You’d run into the same problems there that you would here as far as being able to take custody of him.”

“We’ve taken care of Cas before.” That was the utter truth. “We can keep an eye on him till his dad shows up.”

“That’s the problem,” Cassandra said. “Cas can’t keep going back and forth between caregivers. He deserves stability, permanency.”

Dean sighed. “Truth is, his dad probably wouldn’t notice if we just kept him. Wouldn’t care.”

“That’s got to be damaging to Cas.”

“Has Cas talked about his dad at all? About missing him or wanting to see him?” Dean asked.

Cassandra turned to Leann.

She shook her head. “Unless I ask, he never talks about his father, and he only tells me that his father is gone. He reports his older brothers fight all the time. Mostly he talked about you, Dean.”

He took a deep breath, summoned the rest of the words Sam had drilled into him. “Even though we didn’t get to see the kid much, we’re the most stable adult presence he’s had in his life, squabbling brothers aside. We can give him stability and permanency. We can get custody of him back in Kansas, or even in Illinois. Let him stay with us. Being in foster care can’t be good for him either. I know Leann is doing a fine job, but we’re family.”

“I need to consult my attorney.” Cassandra sounded genuinely apologetic. “But you might be able to take him home after court on Monday.”

“Can we take him out to lunch or something?” Dean asked. He glanced at Leann.

She shrugged. “Sure. Just don’t give him too much sugar.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Dean flashed her his most charming smile.

Leann helped Cas into a jacket and some little sneakers - he looked unexpectedly vulnerable in kids’ clothes - and she and Cassandra put him into a booster seat in the back of the car. Dean texted Sam the plan - and the address of a nice diner in town - and told him they’d meet at the diner.

On the drive to the diner, Cassandra explained that she would have to supervise the lunch visit as a matter of policy. Dean nodded, although he wasn’t pleased, because that just meant performing for even longer, but he could pretext as well as the next hunter. Sam, of course, was just too good at coming across as kind and trustworthy. Right after Cassandra parked behind the diner, Sam climbed out of the Impala, and Cassandra’s eyebrows went up when she watched Sam unfold himself from the front seat.

But then Sam was offering his hand and doing his dewy-eyed thing, and Dean knew they had it made when Sam knelt and helped Cas out of the booster seat and Cas actually initiated a hug with him, awkward though it was. The soft look on Cassandra’s face said it all.

In the diner, Cassandra insisted on paying for her own meal and sitting at the booth adjacent to theirs rather than with them; she was there only to observe, not to interfere.

Dean ordered a burger, ignoring Sam’s sharp look, but he let Sam order Cas something healthy off the kids’ menu.

“Are you all right?” Sam kept his voice gentle and solicitous. For some reason, Cas didn’t look offended. Probably because he knew Sam was a big softie.

“My current circumstances are less than ideal,” Cas said.

“Is your foster home all right?”

“Leann is more than adequate as a parent, but it’s not a parent I need.”

“What is it you need?” Sam asked.

“To be fixed.”

Dean darted a glance at Cassandra, but she didn’t seem too alarmed by Cas’s words, probably because they weren’t new to her.

“How did you get broken?” Somehow Sam was able to sound both like he was humoring a child and like he was taking Cas completely seriously all at the same time. Had he learned that at Stanford?

“I was seeking shelter in a storage shed,” Cas said, and Dean winced.

Sam, however, looked sorrowful, smoothed a hand over Cas’s hair gently.

Cas looked puzzled by the gesture but didn’t complain.

“Go on,” Sam said.

“I picked the shed because it was largely unoccupied,” Cas said, “and it was. There was but one item inside.”

“Can you describe it to me?”

“It was a platform shaped like a cog. I didn’t think much of it, but when I touched it, it illuminated, and it displayed a double helix.”

“Did it make any sounds?”

“Just a faint humming, likely from some power source I couldn’t see.”

“Did you notice any smells?”

“No.”

“And then what happened?”

“And then I was like this.”

Dean darted another glance at Cassandra. She looked amused, more than anything. She probably thought Cas just had a hyperactive imagination.

“Did it hurt at all?” Sam asked.

“No. I suspect, if we can relocate the device, I can be fixed.”

“We’ll work on that,” Sam promised, and then the food arrived.

Cas wasn’t inclined to make conversation while he ate, tearing into his food like a ravenous dog, which prompted Sam to ask if he was being fed properly, and resulted in Cas talking with his mouth full to explain all the new foods Leann had given him to try and how homemade food was definitely better than diner food.

Dean was grateful for the opportunity to basically stay quiet and eat.

After the meal, Cassandra let Castiel ride in the back of the Impala in the booster seat, and they followed her back to the social services office so Sam could also sign some paperwork to get a background check started.

While Sam was filling out the paperwork and poking through his wallet for his fake driver’s license, Dean knelt on the ground beside Cas.

“I know this sucks,” he said in a low voice, “but you need to pretend to be a kid as much as possible. If you don’t, they’ll think you’re too crazy for us to handle and they won’t let us have you, all right?”

Cas sighed. “Jimmy’s memories of childhood are difficult to understand. I was never a child. I have no frame of reference. I cannot -”

“Just pretend you need our help a lot, okay?”

“Fine.”

Sam was just handing the signed background check form over to Cassandra when a familiar woman’s voice rose over the din of the social services office.

“Cassandra Chapman?”

Sam, Dean, and Cas turned.

Dean’s jaw dropped. It was Naomi. Only she was blonde and wearing jeans and a blouse and a black leather jacket, and she looked way less uptight than Naomi ever had. Was the woman just Naomi’s meat suit? How much would she have remembered from being possessed by Naomi?

Dean immediately lowered his head, averted his gaze, and Sam did the same.

Cas, however, was still staring.

Cassandra, halfway out of her cubicle, paused. “Can I help you?”

The woman reached into her jacket, and Dean tensed, ready for a weapon, but she held up an ID.

“I’m Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, United States Air Force. I need to speak to you about a child who got into one of our secure storage lockers in the last couple of nights.”

Sam raised his eyebrows, caught Dean’s eye. So Cas had stumbled on some kind of military tech, not something supernatural?

“Do you have the child’s name? Have you filed a report with the police?” Cassandra’s expression was shrewd, calculating.

Carter shook her head. “No, just a screenshot off of the security feed.” She unfolded a piece of paper and showed it to Cassandra. “I’m less interested in the child and more interested in if he can identify the adult who was with him.”

Dean nodded at the nearest exit sign. Time to go. He’d shown Cassandra that missing poster for Jimmy Novak. If this Carter woman had a picture of adult Cas from the security footage, Cassandra would recognize him immediately.

“Unfortunately,” Cassandra said, “I cannot allow you to speak to any of my clients - confidentiality. I’m sure you understand. But I can make inquiries for you and send you anything I do learn.”

“I’d appreciate that.” Carter handed over a business card. “Have a nice day.” She turned and left the office without spotting any of them.

As soon as she was out of earshot, Cassandra came to speak to them. She knelt so she was eye-level to Cas.

“Hey, buddy, you said you slept in a shed the other night. Was your dad with you?”

Cas shook his head. “No, my father was not with me. He has not been with me for years. And that woman is a liar. She wanted me to hurt Dean.”

Cassandra blinked and looked up at Dean.

Dean sighed. “Cas, maybe she just looked like Naomi -”

“That was Naomi,” Cas insisted. “I’d know her face anywhere.”

Dean looked at Sam. Sam shrugged helplessly.

“Naomi your sister?” Cassandra asked.

“She told me I had to forget Dean, that he wasn’t my friend, that I wasn’t allowed to have friends, that I had to - to -” Cas burst into tears.

Panic rose in Dean’s chest. What was he supposed to do? When he was a kid, he’d always just patted Sam on the shoulder and told him to man up, soldiers don’t cry, and Sam, hiccuping, would swallow down his sobs and nod, pick himself up and keep going.

But Jimmy was in there, Dean realized. Cas said he had Jimmy’s childhood memories tangled up in his graceless soul.

Sam reacted better, pulled Cas into his arms and held up, rocking him gently, humming under his breath. Humming ‘Hey Jude’.

Cassandra beckoned Dean aside, and he followed her.

“Dean, what is going on?”

“I think Cas is just really upset. That woman’s resemblance to Naomi is uncanny, yes, but she’d have recognized the man in the photo as Cas’s father immediately if she really was Naomi.” Dean shook his head. “He’s really confused and mixed up.”

“Is there a chance Cas’s father did go to the shed?”

“Who knows what that guy does.” Dean shook his head in genuine disgust. “If he had gone, I’m frankly not surprised he just left Cas there.”

“How would a child get into a secure military installation?”

“I’m guessing it wasn’t all that secure,” Dean said wryly.

Cassandra sighed. “This case just gets stranger and stranger. I’ll take him back to Leann’s. Can you stick around till court on Monday?”

“Absolutely,” he said. Not a chance, he meant.

“Come say goodbye to Cas, and we’ll see you on Monday.”

Cas had calmed down by the time they returned, wiping at his face and nodding solemnly at Sam’s reminders to brush his teeth and be good. Dean offered Cas a hug as well, and then they accompanied Cassandra to the parking lot so they could transfer the booster seat from the Impala to Cassandra’s state car. They watched him drive away, waving when he turned around to look at them.

“So?” Sam asked. “Kidnapping?”

Dean nodded. “Kidnapping.”



*



It was a damn good thing they’d decided to retrieve Cas that night, because when they got to Leann’s house, there was already an anonymous black van parked across the street from it that had government written all over it. Dean parked the Impala further down the street, cut the lights, and he and Sam waited. And waited.

“Did you tell him?” Dean asked.

“For the hundredth time, yes.” Sam was sipping coffee and watching the van idly. “At three a.m., Cas will get up, open the front door, and come on out. We still have another forty minutes to go.”

One of the barn doors at the back of the van swung open, and five people spilled out onto the street. All of them wore black tac gear and night vision goggles, carried military-grade assault weapons. Two of them were female, three of them were male. One of the females was definitely Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter. One of the males was built like a mountain.

“I think that forty minutes just got cut down to zero.” Dean reached for his gun, made sure it was cocked. He and Sam watched the five figures spread out to circle the house. They moved silently, in perfect synchronization. They were definitely pros. What the hell was going on in Colorado Springs, that the military had some kind of installation with crappy security that housed devices that turned adults into kids? And why the hell would an installation have security that bad but have special ops teams on hand to do the clean-up from a security breach?

Once the black-clad figures started closing in on the house, Dean nodded to Sam, and the two of them exited the car silently.

“I’ll handle the distraction,” Dean said. “You get Cas.”

Sam nodded.

Together they approached the house, weapons drawn, on alert. The five figures had already made it inside, leaving one male to guard the window they’d jimmied open.

Dean wasn’t planning on going in that window. Instead, he headed up the front steps and rang the doorbell.

There was a pause, and then - bingo. A light went on inside the house.

There was a scream, the sound of breaking glass. Chaos. More screaming.

Dean turned and ran for the car, not daring to look back. He dove into the driver’s seat and slammed the key into the ignition, hunkered down.

Thirty seconds later, Sam threw himself into the passenger seat, shoved a sleepy Cas into the back seat, threw a blanket over him, and Dean started the engine. He kept the lights off, sped away as fast as he dared. In the rearview mirror, he saw five black-clad figures running for the van.

“How long do I have to stay down here?” Cas asked, voice muffled beneath the blanket.

“Till we get you a real booster seat,” Sam said.



*



They had to buy clothes and supplies for a child, including a booster seat. Sam checked the news constantly for an Amber Alert about missing Little Cas, but by the time they reached the Wyoming border, there was still none.

“Not taking any chances,” Dean said. He and Sam took turns going into gas stations or convenience stores so no one saw them as a pair. They made sure that only one of them was ever seen with Cas when they had to do things like escort him to the bathroom for potty breaks. And when it came time to hit up a Walmart for the full shopping experience, they split up. Entered the store separately, different entrances, different times. Sam picked up food and a stuffed animal, because even though Cas wasn’t a kid, Jimmy was, and he manifested himself at random moments.

(“I thought Jimmy was dead,” Dean said, peering into the back seat where Cas curled beneath the blanket and sleeping fitfully, calling out for Mommy.

“Angels have no mommy,” Sam said. “Memories are physiological, not just metaphysical. The machine didn’t transform him into a brand new child; it turned back the clock and made his vessel what it was before, memories and all.”)

Dean handled the clothes shopping. Between shopping for Sam as a kid, then dealing with Ben and then Lisa’s niece, he had a better sense of what a kid needed physically. He bought a hat for Cas to cover his hair, and then a pair of little sunglasses. On a whim he bought some jeans and a cool-looking little leather jacket, because if Cas looked cute and dressed up no one would look weirdly at the hat and sunglasses, like Dean was trying to disguise him.

Which he was.

He solicited help from a pleasant-looking middle-aged woman with six kids, ranging from Cas’s age on up to about fifteen, explained that he’d been given emergency custody of his sister’s kid and had zero kid supplies and would she help him figure out what kind of booster seat he needed?

The teenage girls fussed and cooed over Cas, who stood there in his new rebel-without-a-cause outfit and suffered through their attentions in silence while Dean and the woman picked out a booster seat.

When Dean got back to the Impala with clothes, shoes, a booster seat, and Cas in the shopping cart, Sam was already there. He’d unloaded the groceries and was in the passenger seat, nonchalant as can be. Dean unloaded his supplies himself, installed the booster seat, buckled Cas into it, and gave him the stuffed bunny Sam had bought.

Then they were back on the road once more.

“I only got him a week’s worth of stuff,” Dean said. “Just to be safe. Pretty sure we’ll get him fixed before then, though. Right, Cas?”

In the back seat, Cas was cuddling the bunny and fast asleep.

“He was changed by a machine, not magic,” Sam said.

“What’s that you always say? Magic is science we just don’t understand.” Dean didn’t feel nearly as confident as he sounded, and judging by the look Sam gave him, Sam knew it. “There’s gotta be an answer in the Bunker. You’re the one who’s always telling me that modern isn’t necessarily smarter, that ancient civilizations had information and technology that we’ve lost that was way more badass than what we have now. So maybe even if we don’t have the thing that zapped him, we can fix him anyway. More than one way to skin a cat, right?”

“Right,” Sam said. He leaned against the window and closed his eyes.

Dean popped Creedence Clearwater into the tape deck and hummed along to Run Through the Jungle and wished there was still someone he could pray to for help. They’d kidnapped a kid, and they might or might not have crazy military black ops guys on their tail.

Awesome.

And Ezekiel was still kicking around in Sam’s noggin.

Damn. If Castiel found out about Ezekiel -

No. One thing at a time. Cure Cas. Let Ezekiel cure Sam. Everything would be fine.

Cas cried out in his sleep. “Mommy! Mommy!

Dean sighed. “Cas. Hey, Cas!”

He whimpered.

Dean tried another tack. “James Novak!”

Cas’s eyes flew open, and his little chest heaved. Tears streamed down his face, but he said, Cas-bland, “What is it, Dean?”

“Did you recognize those people who tried to kidnap you earlier?”

“No, I had never seen them before, although the one woman’s voice was familiar. Naomi. The others called her Carter.” Cas huffed, cuddling the stuffed bunny some more.

Bingo. “What about the others? What did Carter call them?”

“She only called one of them Daniel. I heard no other names.”

Daniel. That wasn’t a lot to go on. Assuming Samantha Carter wasn’t a made-up name (Dean and Sam had never tried to impersonate military personnel before, and he didn’t know of any hunters who could afford that level of gear), Google would have something on her. Something was better than nothing.

“Thanks, Cas.”

Cas yawned. “Can I go back to sleep?”

No, that wasn’t Cas, plaintive and child-sweet. That was Jimmy.

“Yeah, kiddo. Go back to sleep.” Dean had said it a hundred times exactly that way to Sam, crisscrossing the country with Dad and Baby.

Cas closed his eyes, snuffled close to the bunny, and slid into dreamless sleep.



*



Dean came awake just as Sam was parking Baby outside of the Bunker. Cas was still asleep in his booster seat, drooling on one of the bunny’s ears. Dean unbuckled him and carried him inside and, after some consideration, laid him on Sam's bed (his room was less full of weapons, and if Cas woke up while they were unloading the car, neither he nor Jimmy could accidentally shoot themselves).

By the time Sam and Dean had unloaded the car, Dean was exhausted all over again. They got the food into the refrigerator and put all of Cas’s kid stuff in one of the spare rooms. When they peeked in on him, he was still asleep.

“Should we move him?” Dean asked.

“Nah, let him sleep here. I'll crash on his bed. We can swap going forward.”

Dean nodded and started to close the door, put Sam held up a hand for a pause. He crept into the room, moving soundlessly, and set a brightly-colored plastic Walkie Talkie on the headboard beside Cas.

“What the hell?” Dean hissed when Sam shoved a matching toy Walkie at him.

“Baby monitor,” Sam said.

Dean stared at the thing. It stared back at him with a single, unblinking red eye. “He’s not a baby. He’s, like, five. That’s old enough for kindergarten.”

“He’s an angel stuffed inside a child’s body. You’re on Cas duty. I drove last.” Sam turned and headed for the spare room, leaving Dean standing in the doorway of the bedroom watching Cas sleep and watching the baby monitor glow.

He sighed, turned, and went to his own room. Because he felt bad for Cas, he didn’t turn the baby monitor off before he set it on the nightstand, but he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

As it turned out, he didn’t need a baby monitor to know if Cas was upset, because Little Cas had a primo set of lungs when he screamed in the night.

Dean was jolted awake by high-pitched screams. A child. Whose child? Why was there a child in the Bunker? Why was a child screaming in Enochian?

Cas. Cas was screaming.

Dean staggered to his feet and stumbled down the hall to the source of the screaming. Sam’s room. Cas was sleeping in Sam’s room.

Where was Sam? Sam was holding Cas, rocking him and patting his back, heedless of the way Cas was screaming in his ear, making gentle soothing noises. Dean stood in the doorway, trying to catch his breath.

“Everything all right?” Dean asked.

Sam stroked Cas’s hair, still rocking him. “It will be. Give him time.”

Cas’s screams subsided to unhappy sobs, and he clung to Sam, entire body wracked with every panicked inhale.

Dean stared at the remnants of his best friend, the nigh-indestructible soldier angel, reduced to a tiny body and tears. “I can't do this. Let's go find a cure.”

“Right now?” Sam protested, gesturing at the weeping toddler in his arms.

“Yes, now,” Cas said in a low voice. “This is intolerable.”

“You okay?” Sam asked, peering at him.

Cas wriggled down off of Sam’s lap. “Jimmy is unable to cope with some of my memories. And angels do not dream. The sensation is unsettling.” He padded for the door, his footsteps muffled by his Batman-themed footie pajamas.

Sam and Dean followed him into the library, where he made a beeline for one of the lowest shelves, grabbed a book, and hauled it over to the desk. He climbed up on one of the chairs, flipped to the index in the back, and started searching.

Sam and Dean looked at each other, sighed, and went to work. Dean grabbed a book off a high shelf, and Sam went to search through the card catalogue.

“What search terms are you using?” Sam asked.

“Does de-aging count?” Dean asked.

“Try ‘age regression’ or ‘fountain of youth’,” Sam said.

“Like El Dorado?” Dean asked.

“It's an option,” Cas said. “Well, there was no actual city of El Dorado, but there have been youth-granting elixirs in the past. Usually they were destroyed to prevent disasters.”

“For real?” Dean raised his eyebrows. “You couldn't tell us this sooner?”

“A youth-granting elixir is not what I need.”

“But maybe an antidote to an elixir is what will fix you,” Dean said. “Who made one of these elixirs?”

“Nicholas Flamel, for one,” Castiel said.

Sam spun around. “Nicholas Flamel was real?”

Dean said, “Hey, I got a hit. Magical Chinese honey. Said to cure aging.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Aging isn’t Cas’s problem.”

“What have you got?” Dean shot back.

“The seed of life,” Sam said, “also known as the philosopher’s stone. Grants immortality.”

“Yes, an immortal child is exactly what Cas needs to be. No one will look at him funny when we show up at crime scenes.” It was Dean’s turn to roll his eyes.

“What of this?” Cas turned his book around. “A time-dilation device. It creates a space where the time inside it runs faster than in the outside world. If I were placed in such a space, I could regain my age.”

“How big a space?” Sam asked. “Would you need supplies? Because you'd starve to death before you reached adulthood.”

Dean peered at the book. “I’m sorry, did you say ‘device’?”

“From the Lost Civilization of Atlantis.”

“Atlantis is a myth,” Dean said.

Sam crossed the library to peer at the book. “Maybe not.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Henry. He said the symbol of the Men of Letters, the Aquarian Star, was on the gates of Atlantis.” Sam tapped the front of one of the folders scattered across the desk.

Dean pressed his lips into a thin line at the mention of Henry Winchester. “Right. Okay. Let's find us a lost island.”

Sam went to brew some coffee, Dean began scouring the Internet for anything and everything he could about Atlantis, and Cas pushed a step ladder over to the card catalogue and began searching.

Sam returned ten minutes later with two mugs of coffee, one of which he gave to Dean. He went to join Cas at the card catalogue, then paused.

“Cas,” he said, “I know the body you’re in belongs to a child, but he's old enough to read.”

“You’re stating the obvious.”

Dean lifted his head. Sam was wearing that hesitant expression, the one he wore when he wanted to be nice but severe idiocy was happening in his presence and he had to stop it. He rarely wore that expression, patient as he was, but then he was always more patient with civilians than with other hunters. He was also probably crabby about being woken up in the middle of the night by a screaming kid.

“Why are you looking for Atlantis in the L section?”

“Atlantis is not the only Lost Continent in legend,” Castiel said. “I am looking for references to Lemuria.” He was picking through the cards very carefully with his tiny hands, stretched up on his tip-toes to see into the drawer.

Sam raised his eyebrows. “Okay. What other lost lands are there?”

“Shamabala, Hyperborea, Thule.”

Dean blinked. “Like the Thule Society?”

“Maybe,” Cas said absently. “I was not aware Thule had a modern society.”

“Wait, so Thule was real?” Dean opened another tab and began searching.

“I honestly didn't pay too much attention to goings on on Earth between my brief forays into humanity. I know the basics - the Bible was mistranslated in places, Eve was not Adam’s first wife - but the small things are inconsequential.”

“Not so inconsequential now,” Sam pointed out. “So, Atlantis?”

“Not an actual continent. I do believe there was once a city by that name, but I don’t think it stuck around, as they say.” Cas grasped a card, hopped down off the step stool, and headed into the stacks.

“Wait,” Sam said, starting after him, but Dean shook his head. “An actual city named Atlantis?”

“As I said, I am not very clear on the details. I am a soldier, not a Watcher,” Cas called over his shoulder.

Sam went to follow him.

Dean said, “He’ll be fine. He can look through a few books. They won’t kill him. And he’ll holler for help if he needs it.”

Sam frowned.

“They’re just books,” Dean said.

“You weren't there for those cursed porn mags,” Sam muttered, but he went digging through the card catalogue in the A section anyway.

As it turned out, there was about as much on the Internet about Atlantis as there was about UFOs. Dean was mildly alarmed at how lost continents factored into the musings of one Madam Blavatsky, who was some kind of court psychic for high-ranking Nazis back in the day, but that might have explained the whole Thule Society thing.

Dean was elbow deep in a conspiracy theory website about how the United States Air Force had discovered Atlantis and sent a team of soldiers and scientists to it on a one-way trip under the sea deep in the Mariana Trench, and all of them had drowned and their corpses were haunting the ocean floor when he realized.

He hadn’t seen or heard Cas in - he glanced at his watch - two hours.

“Sam, where’s Cas?”

Sam blinked muzzily, like he’d fallen asleep, but Dean knew he’d been up to his ears in reading. Sam’s ability to focus on one thing for hours was uncanny. “What? He just went to check on a book about Lemuria.”

Dean rose up. “It’s been two hours, Sam.”

Sam checked his watch, swore.

“We’re officially the worst parents ever,” Dean said, and Sam grimaced. They grabbed their phones and split up without a word. They were a team, and they’d work as a team to find Cas. Dean figured he’d probably fallen asleep in the stacks. They could bundle him up and take him back to bed.

Dean was passing the shelves full of Indian and Persian magic when he felt it, the thrum of magic in the air. He called Sam.

“Sammy, are you working some kind of child-finding mojo?”

“You felt that too?”

Dean swore. “It’s Cas.” And he took off running.

At the back of the library, in the middle of the aisle, Cas had made a mess of books. They were open and scattered around him, held open by book ends and a bottle of ink and a shoe. And there were spell ingredients littering the floor, broken jars and torn-open baggies and crumpled envelopes.

Cas - tiny, solemn-faced, wearing freakin’ footie pajamas - stood in the middle of a carefully-drawn, if wobbly spell circle lined with sigils and herbs and silks and...was that a bone? Cas was chanting in something that sounded like Latin.

Sam arrived moments later, breathless and wide-eyed. “What’s going on?”

“I found a map,” said Cas. “To Atlantis. Now I just need to open the portal.”

“Cas, you can’t go alone,” Dean said.

Sam knelt, picked peered at one of the books. “Wait, no -!”

Brilliant blue light exploded upwards and outwards. Dean swore and threw himself backward. Sam lunged at Cas to tackle him out of the way, but the light grew brighter, brighter, was blinding, and Dean closed his eyes.

Part Two

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