Light TherapyWord count:
Dean Winchester, CastielTimeline:
post-season 8 finaleRating:
This is a fictional, nonprofit work for entertainment purpose only. The copyright in the TV show Supernatural and its components is owned by The CW Television Network, which reserves all rights therein.Author’s Notes:
Any historical and/or medical inaccuracies are a result of making shit up. Please apply suspension of disbelief if appropriate. Also, I’m not a native speaker and haven’t written fan fiction in a while, so constructive criticism is appreciated.( Collapse )
In retrospect, he shouldn't have been surprised to find Cas outside. July had brought in temperatures bordering on triple-digits to Kansas, and the bunker's original WWII air-conditioning system predated global warming reports by a few decades; hell, he and Sam had ditched most layers of clothing (if not all - last time he checked, his little brother was in boxer shorts, smearing sweat everywhere), and they had the advantage of 30-plus years of adjusting to all kinds of weather.
Still, Dean hadn't expected to find the former angel half-leaning, half-sitting in the Impala's hood, naked from the waist up, basking in the blinding afternoon sunlight.
He approached him with measured steps, knowing from recent first-hand experience that, even if Cas no longer had superhuman strength and reflexes, it was still not a good idea to try to exact revenge for all the times the angel had appeared unannounced and scared him out of his skin.
"Nice day for a tan." Dean leaned beside him against the car, jumping slightly when his hands touched the scorching hot metal hood. Castiel, he noticed now, had thoughtfully laid his black t-shirt to sit on and save his palms from first-degree burns. (The shirt had come from the same 3-for-1 set as the one Dean had on; it had been a financial relief to find Cas was actually larger than he'd seemed to be under the old trenchcoat, and his dress size was pretty much on par with Dean's. And so Dean was granted the perfect excuse to buy some new clothes for himself and not have to hear Sam call him a metro for it, since his wardrobe was going to be worn off in half the usual time if he now had to share it.)
He considered asking Cas if he had applied sunscreen, but his musings were interrupted by a deep sigh. Perhaps he'd be better off in the long run if he learned his lesson the hard way.
"The Egyptians used to worship the sun," Cas said, as if it were a perfect conversation starter.
Dean didn't stop him, though, so maybe it was.
"I remember bits and pieces," he continued. "It never bothered me before because I never put myself into it, not until I found how much my mind had been tampered with. She must have... edited my memories of that time." Oh yes, Naomi was a touchy subject since Cas had come back. He avoided her name, though it was hard to say if it was out of loathing or some newfound respect for her now that she was dead. "They used to have temples in Iunu. Heliopolis, if the name rings a bell."
"Sun City," Dean offered. His pig Greek wasn't that shabby, after all. "If you ask Sam, I'm pretty sure he'll find you something about it in our library." Cas didn't pay that information much heed, though, eyes drifting ahead to look at someplace else entirely, somewhere several thousand years behind them.
"The temple of Ra was impressive, as it should. But I remember the most watching the people go in and out of the healing temples." He gave Dean an inquisitive look, but the hunter just shook his head and shrugged. "These buildings, they were essentially open terraces. Vast blocks of flat sandstone divided by papyrus screens and gardens, with private porches half-covered by hanging veils and as many pools and water basins as the desert land could provide them. The folks - anyone who had the time and money to do so, at least - would go there and offer valuable items and animal sacrifices to the gods, in exchange for healing their body and soul. Then they would find themselves a bed, take their clothes off, lie down and let the sun rays cure them of whichever ailment might be eating away at their hearts."
"Like an ancient day spa."
"With more of an esoteric focus, but I suppose you could say that," Cas conceded. "They weren't completely misguided in their approach, though. Light therapy." He looked up to the cloudless sky, shielding his front with his left hand. "What they assumed was some kind of miraculous blessing from God was nothing more than vitamin D production and melatonin balance. Exposure to sunlight can have a small but significant impact on mental health - enough, at least, for some of those old Egyptian men to overcome some mild case of seasonal depression from staying inside a palace too long, find a solution to a problem they couldn't focus on because of their depressive state, and assume it was God who'd shone light into their paths." He made a small pause, then added, "Of course, most of them died long before they could develop skin cancer. It might have shaken their faith otherwise."
As he talked, Dean kept his gaze trained on his profile. Mostly; at times his eyes wandered over Castiel's figure, puzzled at the unexpectedness of finding him so willingly exposed in his borrowed frame: a good, reliable body, nicely fit to human eyes, yet what a fragile shell it must be for someone who once held as much power as the former angel did. (Though Dean’s eyes kept sauntering back to the small birthmark under his right nipple, reminding him of the good old story about angels and freckles and making him wonder, with a mental chuckle, what exactly the angel had done to convince Jimmy Novak to let him ride his meatsuit. He licked his lips, out of habit.)
Cas didn't say more; he stared at the road, then at his hands, then at Dean, silent, waiting.
"Well, that's a cool History Channel special, man, but..." But what the hell was that about
, he meant to say, except the other man didn't let him finish. With his left hand, he fished something resting beside him on Baby's hood, a small pendant on a black cord that had escaped Dean's eyes completely. The hunter extended a hand, incredulous, and Cas deposited it in the middle of his open palm.
The amulet - the same brass one Sam had given him all those years ago, and that he had heartlessly discarded in a motel trashcan when he learned it wouldn't lead them to a God he didn't even believe in - burned improbably against his skin as he rolled it between his fingertips.
"Got it for five dollars in a garage sale" was all the explanation Cas provided, without so much as a single supernatural twist to it.
He hesitated for a moment before putting on the necklace. His hands didn't leave the leather cord as he looked down, the once familiar weight now alien against his sternum, the amulet shining against the black background of his T-shirt. His chest tightened, a strange heat radiating through it followed by a sudden urge to cry. Dean shut his eyes firmly, pressed his lips until they were a thin line on his face and took a deep breath. He refused to believe that useless, harmless piece of jewellery would have magical properties after all, but it was just as hard to think that, of all places it could have ended in, it would have shown up in Castiel's path like that; that it would have found its way back home with him, in the end.
He opened his eyes and sighed, meeting Cas's concerned gaze. Or maybe it was just the July weather taking its toll on him.
Whatever it was, Dean figured taking a leaf out of the Egyptians' book couldn't possibly hurt. So he took off his T-shirt; rolled it into a ball, then changed his mind and laid it like a blanket on the edge of the car hood. His hand reached absent-mindedly for the pendant, burning hot against the bare skin of his torso; Sam's going to have a ball
, was the thought at the back of his mind. He exchanged a glance with Cas, and neither said a word; but the former angel smiled gently, and Dean answered it with a small laugh. Then they both turned their faces back to the blue skies, eyes closed, and let the sun do its thing.