Okay guys, here is the last chapter. Thanks so much for all my readers, and reviewers, whether you make yourself known or not ^_^ I'm glad everyone has seemed to like this.
Thanks again to Kathy for your review!
That kept so many warm
With the reconfirmation of the Winchesters' devotion to Castiel, he got better and better. He continued to eat well, and take his vitamins as Dean told him to even though he still grumbled about it. But the healthy living was helping his feathers to grow in full and dark and smooth with a glossy sheen that the few of his old ones left couldn't compare to anymore. Castiel had to admit, he was rather proud of them.
Of course, the nightmares still plagued him, but they plagued Sam and Dean too, and they were most of the time about Hell, and not so much about Sam and Dean abandoning him. But even when he did have those dreams, he was constantly reminded of the promises his new family had made him, and he could more easily forget the dreams for the fabrications of his mind that they were.
He had taken to going to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea, or, his personal favorite, hot chocolate, when he had a nightmare, and sometimes, Sam or Dean would join him and they would sit silently at the kitchen table as the haunted looks left their eyes and they shared in the camaraderie of individuals who had been through the worst of things, unimaginable to normal people, and had survived them. Castiel realized now more than ever that you did not get through things like that without scars. But scars could also make you stronger and sometimes you needed them as reminders of why you kept fighting to begin with.
But he was also learning how to enjoy his time with the Winchesters too. He and Sam liked to talk about books, and Dean would sometimes show him how to tune up the Impala, or Castiel might help wash the car on sunny days while he was letting his still growing wings dry after a shower. Dean also insisted on introducing him to what he considered to be 'classic' movies, and was adamant in teaching him about pop culture.
"You're never going to understand my references unless you actually sit down and learn something," Dean told him.
But one of Castiel's favorite things to do was play games. Bobby taught him poker and he had picked it up almost instantly to the older hunter's astonishment, and then proceeded to win all the games he played against Bobby and the Winchesters.
"Dude, how are you even doing this without cheating?" Dean demanded after losing for the tenth time and having to forfeit the last of his M&Ms (their current version of poker chips).
"It's actually rather simple when you think about it, Dean," Castiel told him, trying not to sound too smug. "All you really have to do is remember what cards have been played and come to reasonable conclusions on the ones you haven't seen yet."
Dean looked at Bobby with a 'Can you believe this?' look to which Bobby shrugged and said. "I didn't teach him to count cards."
Sam laughed, and Dean immediately wanted to recruit Castiel for earning them money on the road.
Poker was fun, but board games were even better.
One afternoon, the boys introduced Castiel to Monopoly and he was very entertained by the idea that you could buy fake properties with fake money and earn more fake money when people landed on them. He wasn't sure he quite understood the earnestness behind Dean and Sam's rivalry because of it (or the fact that Dean was insistent about being the car piece and Sam was insistent about being the dog) but he did enjoy the game, and watching the brothers play made it twice as entertaining.
"Boom, Park Place to go with my Boardwalk. Suck it!" Dean grinned as he slapped his money down on the table for Sam to count since the younger Winchester was playing the banker.
"Yeah, sure, Dean, if you have enough money to buy good hotels. Especially after landing on my Pacific Avenue every time you go around the board and insisting on riding the railway lines." Those were Castiel's, he had managed to collect all four and they were very lucrative.
"I swear, those dice are rigged," Dean snapped. "And I'll totally have enough after you land on Marvin Gardens again."
"Sure, we'll see how that goes for you," Sam smiled as he rolled the dice. He instantly groaned as he saw where he was going to land. Dean whooped, pumping a fist in the air.
"Told you you would land on my spot, bitch! Looks like there's gonna be new hotels on Boardwalk soon enough. You better save up for your stay there."
"Whatever, jerk, you're still gonna land on Pacific Ave again. Just watch!"
Castiel smirked and took the dice for his turn and moved his shoe to the proper spot. "Free parking? What's that?"
Dean and Sam both groaned. "Dude, you got the jackpot in the middle!" Dean said.
"Oh," Castiel said with a smile and retrieved the pile of money that had been building up in the center of the board. "I guess that means I have enough money to put hotels on all of my properties now."
Sam and Dean watched as Castiel bought all the hotels he needed and placed them around the board, trepidation on their faces.
Dean took his turn again and then groaned as he landed on 'Go To Jail'. Sam laughed at him.
"Shut up, it's not like you never get in there."
"Oh, Dean, look where I'm gonna land," Sam said, lowering his piece down on the blue spot. "Park Place. And guess what? You can't get paid when you're in jail."
"Aw, come on!" Dean cried. "How is that fair?"
"I don't think life is usually fair, Dean," Castiel told him blandly as he and Sam shared a smirk.
"I hate this game," Dean muttered good-naturedly.
"Just bail yourself out next round," Sam told him as he passed the dice to Castiel again.
Bobby came into the room before they could play anymore though.
"If you idjits can take a moment out of this all important game you're playin', you've got a delivery man waiting for you to sign something outside."
Dean and Sam's faces lit up and they shared a grin as they stood. "Awesome!" Dean said.
"What is it?" Castiel asked, as he stood up as well.
"Oh, you'll see before too long," Dean told him with a secretive look. "Just stay here, okay? No peeking."
Castiel frowned as Sam and Dean hurried out the door and Bobby just rolled his eyes before refilling his coffee mug and retreating back to his study.
Castiel was wondering why he wasn't allowed to look, especially when he heard Sam and Dean reenter the house through the front door, grunting and cursing as if they were trying to move something very large. The noises continued up the stairs and finally it sounded like Bobby joined in too. Castiel wondered if he shouldn't offer assistance, but Dean had told him not to peek, so he wouldn't unless he was asked to. Humans seemed to take that personally.
Before long, though Sam and Dean returned to the kitchen, grinning.
"Hey, Cas, we have a surprise for you," Sam told him.
Castiel stood up, frowning. "A…surprise? What for?"
Dean shrugged. "Because you're staying here now and we wanted you to have a welcome gift."
Castiel cocked his head to one side, not quite understanding. "Is that…customary?"
Dean huffed a longsuffering breath. "Well, we don't know when your birthday is, but yeah, it is customary for family and friends to give each other gifts on important occasions. I think you joining our family is an important occasion." He shuffled slightly, hands stuffed into his pockets.
"Why don't you come see, Cas?" Sam offered, breaking the slightly awkward moment.
Curious, Castiel followed them up the stairs and to the room he had been staying in. Dean hurried ahead to the door and put his hand on the doorknob, swinging it open with a flourish.
"Ta-da!" he said with a grin.
Castiel entered the room and stopped at the sight of the thing in the center of it, where the bed had been, not really sure what it was.
"Is it…a bed?" he asked cautiously.
Dean and Sam came into the room with him and gathered around the large round object. "Yep!" Dean told him. "It's a round bed. Sam and I were trying to find something that might help you be more comfortable when you sleep, and we came across this and…well, I remembered what you said about angels and nests so I thought this might be more comfortable than a regular bed." Dean shrugged and ran a hand over the back of his neck like he did when he was feeling self-conscious. "You don't have to like it," he added quickly.
Castiel took a hesitant step toward the bed and settled a hand on the mattress, pressing down. It was rather springy and seemed like it would be comfortable. "This…actually seems like it would be a much better shape to sleep on." He glanced between them. "Bobby doesn't mind?"
"'Course not, idjit," Bobby said from behind him, and Castiel realized he had been standing in the doorway the whole time. "It's your room, you can do what you want with it."
"My room?" Castiel was slightly taken aback.
"Of course, Cas," Sam said with an odd look on his face. "What did you think it was?"
Castiel bit his lip, not wanting to admit he had been thinking of it as 'Bobby's guest room' up until now. Dean seemed to see what he was thinking.
"Since you have a room," the elder Winchester told him, leaving little room for argument. "You can start thinking of decorating it too. Maybe get a rug you like, or a bookshelf or something. Now that your wings are able to go incorporeal again on occasion, we can take a shopping trip and you can see what you like. Get you some of your own clothes too that don't have holes in the back."
"But that will cost a lot of money," Castiel said, knowing that the Winchesters weren't exactly rich—not like in Monopoly.
"Don't worry about it," Dean said clapping him on the shoulder. "Credit card fraud, remember? Besides, we can always take a trip to the bar in town, and get you to play poker."
"Dean," Sam grunted before he turned to Castiel with a smile. "Really, though, Cas, whatever you want. We just want you to feel like you're home here."
"I already do," Castiel told them truthfully, realizing it now for the first time. "And it has nothing to do with having my own room."
Sam and Dean shared a look and Castiel thought he saw Sam's eyes moisten. Dean cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck again.
"Okay, enough damn chick flick moments. I ordered some sheets for this thing too, you wanna help me get them on, Cas? You can decide if you think you need more pillows too…"
Castiel didn't really care about more pillows or really decorating his room at all, even though the idea was indeed novel—thinking about what he would want in a place that was specifically his. What he really cared about at that moment was how much the Winchesters, his new brothers, cared about him. Listening to Dean talk about the possibilities of what he could do for his room and Sam's sarcastic comments at some of the suggestions, told him that he had been right in saying he truly belonged here. He really had no doubt about it anymore.
And that night, as he curled up in his 'nest' of pillows and soft blankets, his wings folded gently over him, the new feathers growing in nicely, and finally past their itchy stage, he truly felt, for the first time in a long while, that he was home.
Hope in the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet , never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
So I don't know whether I will post something Friday or not, it all depends on how much time I get to write this week, but I will be posting a Halloween story next Monday/Tuesday in two parts so keep an eye out for that. Then I have another multi-chap fic on it's way :)