Claire's not really looking for praise here. She was only doing what was necessary to get all three of them out of the horror movie that was the last couple hours.

But that doesn't seem to stop Dean from clapping her on the shoulder after they've deposited Castiel on the bed closest to the door. "You did good back there."

She still has to fight a smile. "That earn me a fake ID? I know you've got 'em."

Dean looks at her curiously. "What for?"

She's on the run from being a ward of the state until she turns eighteen. What doesn't she need a fake ID for?

"Being me, I guess."

The sincerity of her answer has Dean frowning, maybe even considering, but Castiel coughs from the bed before sitting up and crossing his arms. "No."

And Claire knows she's being shot down. Because even though Dean's apparently a moron, he's still going to side with his 'not' boyfriend.

Except Dean keeps frowning, and, she thinks, maybe, she's wrong.

"Cas, she can't live like this."

"Like what?" Castiel squints at Dean, like he's the one to explain the mess that is her life.
She's pretty sure he's not. He doesn't know her life. "Uh, I'm right here."

"Okay," Dean cocks an eye at her, "so, correct me if I'm wrong - hitchhiking from town to town, staying in shady motels that don't bother to check, or don't give a crap, that you're underage?"

"You mean like this one?"

"Yeah," Dean replies levelly,"like this one. How am I doing so far?"

Pretty damn well.

She shrugs and crosses her arms. "I get by."

"Yeah," Dean huffs. "I got by too. Sooner or later, it's not going to work out."

And the way he says it, Claire gets that he gets it. That her life is a house of cards, one wrong move away from collapsing. But he's not the one that's suppose to fix that. "And I'm sure you're just chock full of great ideas."

"No," Dean says, "but I think you want help. Maybe not mine. And believe me, I get that. I wouldn't either, I were you. But, kiddo, we owe you that much."

She considers that as Castiel, who has been watching them in silence, offers, with overwhelming sincerity, "You are always welcome to stay with me, Claire."

She and Dean both side-eye him.

She knows, without any doubt, that that is an untenable plan. He's not her dad. He's not her anything.

But Castiel has this look, this look that's so hurt and lost and vulnerable that she almost wants to forget why that's never going to work. Because this clueless idiot only wants to fix what he broke. And she knows that.

But he just ...he can't.

And she doesn't know what to say, that she hasn't already.

Fortunately, Dean's already taking the reins, "Cas, look, forgetting the fact that her life is total crap because of us, she needs something...something stable. And we're anything but that."

"We ?" Castiel repeats, squinting.

When Dean responds to this by reaching his arm around his neck and rubbing at it, Claire decides that her fake dads can plan her fake future without her. She's pretty sure that's not the way this conversation's heading anyway. "So... there's a pizza place across the street, who's buying?"

Dean barely looks away from Castiel to hand her a wad of cash.

She walks out the door, unsure if she's going to let them help or if she's even going to come back.

XXX

The door slams shut behind Claire, and Dean swivels around and stares at the lock.

He looks like he'd like to follow her. Cas thinks that, maybe, he should.

But, instead, he paces across the carpet, fidgets momentarily with the comforter on the opposite bed, and finally plops down on top of it. He raises his eyes to Cas. "So, me and Claire?"

"You and Claire," Cas repeats, not quite a question. He shifts himself up against the headboard. He's fully aware of what Dean's getting at, but he doesn't know how Dean's going to react.

He imagines badly.

Dean, even without that Mark on his arm, is afraid of the way he feels for him. It makes him deeply and inexplicably uncomfortable.

After a few moments of looking like he'd rather be anywhere else he manages to spit out,"Your white picket fence, whatever the Djinn cooked up for you, we were there."

"You were," Cas agrees simply.

He still doesn't believe that means what common sense is telling him it does.

Even with the truth plainly in front of him, Dean willfully denies it.

And because of that, Cas shouldn't be surprised by the next conclusion he draws. "You come down from your perch in the clouds, mingle with the commoners?"

It still hurts, because it's clearly meant to be a jab, but Cas understands why Dean says it. He sighs. "It was only you and Claire, Dean."

Dean stares dumbly, and he elaborates, "You were my husband. Claire was our daughter. We were attempting to raise her. I was teaching her how to drive... "

Dean's eyes go wide, and, when he finds his voice, it's panic stricken. "Me and you? Suburban soccer dads? That's... that's your apple pie dream?"

"I don't believe there was soccer involved," Cas says. Dean gives him a withering look, and he assumes that is not relevant.

"And you... you were human?" This, however, is.

Cas considers briefly. There had been no evidence in that reality, aside from his memory of this one, that he had ever been an angel. "I think I was. I could not access my grace."

Dean gets up, paces across the room again, settles against the window on the far side, and turns around. "I...Christ. I ...I need some air."

He looks back at Cas, when he gets to the door, like he thinks maybe he shouldn't actually leave it at that, and Cas hopes that he won't, though he will not be surprised.

He stands frozen in the doorframe, and Cas doesn't have the energy to convince him not to run away. The bone tired weariness of having his essence drained is starting to seep into his skin.

If Dean's going to leave, he's going back to sleep.

The moment Dean notices him burrowing into the pillow, however, he shoots him a worried look, before cautiously approaching the bed. His voice is suspicious. "You slept the whole way here."

"The Djinn, it took more of the stolen grace than I would have liked," Cas says wearily. "My 'batteries'..."

"They're running low." Dean sits down beside him and tentatively puts his hand on his shoulder. "We're gonna fix that."

Cas reaches forward, grips Dean's arm in his hand, and rubs his thumb against the Mark. "Fixing this is more important."

"Not a contest, Cas."

"It's taking you away from yourself."

"Yeah, and burning out slow - that's doing you a lot of favors."

Cas looks up, meets Dean's gaze, and asks softly,"Are we ...are we going to get through this?"

Dean huffs and looks down. "The hell if I know. Ain't telling you we are. Not after last time."

"Then...then kiss me."

"What?...why?"

"It can't hurt. It may help."

"What do you mean it can't hurt? We're...Cas... I'll...hell..." Dean leans forward, his lips twitching. He stops inches away. "We're never gonna get this right, you know that?"

"The kiss?" Cas asks lightly. He knows it's not what Dean means.

Dean side eyes him. "Us."

"Are you unwilling to take the chance - the chance that we will, get it right?"

Dean shrugs. "I don't know, Cas. Kind of a big gamble. And right now," he rubs absently at the Mark, "not exactly Brady Bunch family material."

Cas squints and shrugs before taking both of Dean's hands in his. "I'm willing, and I will always be willing to take that chance because I believe that the Dean Winchester that I know and that I love is in here still, despite that Mark, and that Dean - that Dean is worth everything."

Dean looks at him without saying a word for several long moments before finally cupping Cas' head in his hands. "I'm never gonna deserve you."

Their lips brush lightly before Claire kicks the door open. She sets three boxes of pizza on the closest dresser, muttering, "Not your boyfriend, my ass..."

XXX

Dean and Castiel split apart sheepishly, and Claire tries hard not to think that this is probably exactly what walking in on her actual parents would feel like. So gross. At least they were only kissing.

She shrugs and shakes herself before digging out plates and napkins. "Figured everyone would be cool with pepperoni and cheese? And, uh, I did some thinking, and, um, maybe you guys can help me something."

"Anything, Claire," Castiel says, while Dean gives her a hard calculating look, because he's smarter than that. "With what?"

She roots through her bag until she finds her mom's journal. She flips it to the last page and sets it on the bed between them.

She doesn't want to ask for their help, but, unfortunately, they're probably the best ones for the job. "Help me find my mom."

Dean picks the journal up and skims the last entry. Claire summarizes. "She was looking for a miracle worker."

"Sounds like a case," Dean says. "I'll call Sam. But, uh, Claire, even saying we do find your mom..."

He trails off, and Claire thinks he knows where he's going. "She might not want to step up to the plate. Yeah, I know. Kind of want to find her to tell her off, anyway. She just took off...looking for my dad."

She turns to Cas and stares at him, at the truth that her dad is just gone. That her mom went chasing shadows when she could have stayed and raised her daughter.

Cas looks back at her, with that sad, hopeless expression, still wishing he could fix this. She supposes helping her find the rest of her family is as close as he's ever going to get.

He, thankfully, doesn't say anything, and Claire turns back to Dean. "I turn 18 in a few weeks. Think you guys can keep me away from Illinois' child services that long?"

"Deal," Dean says.

"And...one more thing..." Claire says, as she sees the keys to the Impala dangling out of Dean's pocket. She doesn't know why she's never asked anyone this before, "teach me how to drive?"

Dean and Castiel raise their eyes in unison before sharing a strangely weighted and suspicious look. They seem to come to a silent agreement before Dean bites out, "Don't eye my keys like that."

"That's not a 'no,'" Claire says.

And it's not.


A/N: Assume the rest of this plays out, more or less, like Angel Heart did.

(I starting writing this fic before Angel Heart aired, and I didn't think we were going to get anything like Angel Heart...)