A/N: This part takes place several years later.
Like always, Dean is the last one to get into bed that night. Even on those nights when Castiel takes sole responsibility of getting the kid to sleep, he somehow ends up in bed before Dean. It's a contributing factor to Dean's theory that Castiel still retains a bit of angel mojo. There are others, of course. Like the fact that whenever Castiel takes Temperance somewhere, she always returns in pristine clothing. Whereas when Dean takes her anywhere, she manages to look like she spent the afternoon rolling in filth. Last week, they went to the park together and Temperance ended up with a huge ice cream stain on her shirt even though they didn't even get ice cream.
Theory aside, Dean doesn't really mind always being the last one in bed. It reminds him of his dad and how John used to check around wherever they lived one last time each night after his kids were in bed, just to make sure everything was locked up tight and safe.
That and Dean might occasionally give into the nauseating urge to watch Castiel sleep.
When he isn't watching Temperance sleep, that is.
When Dean walks into the room, he knows immediately that Castiel isn't really asleep. Even though he is burrowed under the comforter and his face is smashed so far into his pillow that if Dean didn't already know it was Castiel, he wouldn't recognize him. He can tell because Grace is standing on Dean's pillow and staring at the door, clearly waiting for him.
"Did you lock the backdoor?"
Dean smirks. Leave it to Grace. As Castiel's humanity, Grace tends to worry about things like locking doors and eating healthy foods and sitting up straight more than any other human or daemon in their relationship.
In other words, she's the mom.
"It was already locked," Dean promises her. He feels her gaze on his back as he turns to change into pajama pants. "I checked it twice," he adds.
Whatever worry Grace feels is apparently melted away when Celeste hops onto the bed and starts trying to smother Grace under pounds of fur. The sound of Grace's weird garbled laughter follows Dean into the bathroom and he can't help the grin that plasters itself across his face. Nothing is quite as amusing as seeing or hearing Grace lose it.
The antics are over when Dean emerges from the bathroom. Celeste is curled into a tight ball at the foot of the bed and Grace is nestled into her usual place, the puffy soft fur of Celeste's tail. It's weird to Dean that his daemon has a 'usual place' for anything. But as he pries up the blankets to slide in beside Castiel, he finds that he doesn't mind much. He kills the light and relaxes into his pillow. There is a brief moment of calm, then with a suddenness that Dean adds to his list of angel mojo clues, Castiel flips over from facing the window to facing Dean. His arms snake around Dean's waist and he presses his nose into the crook of Dean's neck, dragging in a deep breath.
"Mmm," he says.
"Thought you were asleep," Dean comments, hand pressing into the small of Castiel's back.
"I am," Castiel says. His body loses all trace of tension or even the appearance of having bones as he melts into Dean's side.
"Well, ok, then."
He hears Castiel's light snores less than five minutes later. At his feet, Celeste shifts, tightening the ball she's making with her body and tugs Grace into the middle of it. Dean's sense of Castiel settles over him like an old familiar blanket and it's enough to push him off to sleep.
The scene is quite different when Dean is awakened several hours later. No longer pressed comfortably against Dean, Castiel is sprawled on his back. One arm is flung over his head and the fingers of his hand are curled under the bottom edge of the headboard. A visual that never fails to make Dean feel a little hot under the collar. Castiel's other hand is shoved up his own shirt and flat on his stomach. There is a small moving lump down the front of Castiel's t-shirt that Dean assumes is Grace. The bright white feathers sticking up over his throat are a dead giveaway.
Dean feels Celeste crawl up the bed and he reaches out for her, fingers twisting into the hair at the back of her neck.
"You're not gonna to try and crawl under my shirt, are you?"
"I thought about it," she murmurs back as she settles into the still warm spot Castiel had occupied earlier. It feels good to lie this way, arms wrapped around his oldest and closest friend. Comfortable and warm, enough to drag him back to sleep if it weren't for the fact that he doesn't know why he is awake in the first place.
"Why'd we wake up?" Celeste asks just as Dean has the thought.
His lips are forming the words 'I don't know' when the room brightens with a flash of lightning. Seconds later, it is followed by a tremendous crash of thunder, the kind that physically shakes the house from its base upwards.
"I'm guessing that was it," Dean says. Somehow, even though Dean actually felt the thunder in his spine, Castiel continues sleeping unawares. Dean has the feeling that Cas is the only one in the house still asleep and in fact begins to wonder how long it'll be before-
The door to the bedroom explodes open, smashing into the side of the wall with another deafening noise that Castiel sleeps through. Dean releases Celeste in time to turn over and catch Temperance as she launches herself into the bed. She is trembling and still mostly asleep as far as Dean can tell. Her daemon, Jeff, flutters after her as a large monarch butterfly. He lands on Celeste and tumbles into the form of a tiny orange kitten that Celeste pulls into the same protective circle she'd formed around Grace earlier. His confused panic beats into Dean's senses.
"Hey, now," he says, sitting up and tugging Temperance into his lap, brushing a hand through her long dark hair. "It's ok. Just a storm; we're ok."
She shakes her head and when another peal of thunder quakes the house, she twists her hands into Dean's shirt, hiding her face in the soft cotton tee. He figures any sort of verbal explanation or comfort is probably not going to work on a sleepy four-year old, so he just wraps her up tight and lets her hide.
Castiel continues to snore lightly beside them.
The storm is at its height, Dean thinks. Or hopes anyway as the wind howls outside the window and lightning flashes time and again. With each clap of thunder, Temperance jumps and gives a tiny squeak of fright. Dean hates the sound more than just about any he's ever heard. It's stupid to be pissed at a storm, but it doesn't stop him. He hates anything scaring his kid that he can't fight against. If Castiel were awake, he would tell Dean that he can't stop Temperance from feeling any fear in her life. To which Dean would reply that he can try.
But Castiel's out cold and besides, he probably used to fly around inside of thunderstorms or something, so it's not like he knows what it's like for a kid that can't quite grasp why everything is suddenly so loud and bright.
It takes about half an hour for the storm to finally begin petering out. Temperance relaxes by inches with each lengthening pause between thunderclaps and Jeff's fur begins to lay flat once more. It's when the rain stops pelting heavily against the window that Temperance finally raises her head from Dean's shirt and peers around.
"You doing ok there, kiddo?" Dean asks.
She shrugs and brushes a lock of hair out of her eyes. Dean tries not to smile at how casual she is being. She hates when people see her being scared. Just like every other Winchester in the world. Still, while it might be somewhat endearing, Dean doesn't want her to become too bottled up and unable to express emotions. Because weird things happen when you become a parent and one of them is freaking out that you're going to screw up the emotional growth of another human being.
Although that's not as strange as say, Dean's obsession with maintaining Temperance's waist length black-brown hair. It's not because he suddenly likes hair. It's just because Temperance insists on having long hair and if someone doesn't brush it every single day, she gets these massive matted knots in them and looks like she's been pulled through a bush backwards. So Dean's assigned himself the task. He compares the job to taking care of the car, except the Impala doesn't squirm and giggle while he tries to put a braid in it.
"Storms are pretty scary," he says, casual as well.
"I wasn't scared," she denies, rubbing at her eyes with the back of one hand. "Jeff was."
Jeff, who is now laying on his back while Celeste noses at his soft belly fur, glares at her.
"Shut up," he whines, but he doesn't sound too concerned. Probably because of the waves of bliss Dean knows he's feeling as Celeste grooms him. Just in case though, Dean heads the fight off at the pass.
"Well, it doesn't matter either way. It's ok to be scared. I get scared sometimes," Dean says. Temperance doesn't know the depth of truth to that statement or that her father sometimes still wakes up in a cold sweat, dreams of blood and torment clinging to his mind. Some things kids just don't need to know.
"Of the storm?" Her voice is tentative.
"Sure," Dean says and it's not technically a lie because even though this particular storm hadn't scared him, he remembers being nervous about thunder when he was very young. In fact, he even has a faded and beloved memory of invading his own parents' bedroom during a bad storm and crawling in between his mom and dad. He can't recall much except the feeling of total safety.
"Oh," she says, sounding a bit impressed. The way she is sitting across Dean's lap means that her legs are sticking out towards Castiel. She presses down on Cas' upper arm with her feet. "What about Papa?"
"Scared of the storm?" Dean looks at Castiel, at the way his body is carelessly relaxed, his mouth hanging slightly open as he draws deep and steady breaths. Clearly, he can't be less concerned about the weather if he tried. But Dean has seen Castiel scared before. Terrified even. Terrified of disobedience. His own feelings. Losing Dean. Becoming a father.
"Well, I think he's scared of other stuff more than a storm." No reason to lie to the kid. After all, it should be nice to know that one of them isn't scared. "But yeah, everyone gets scared. Uncle Sammy is scared all the time."
Temperance made a face at him. "You're making that up."
This confirms Dean's suspicions that Sam's taken Temperance aside and advised her not to believe what Dean says about him.
"Yeah, I am," he agrees and kisses the top of her head. "You wanna go back to bed?"
She eyes the window, troubled and indecisive. Another faint rumble of thunder decides for her. Shaking her head violently enough to send streamers of dark brown flying about her head, she climbs off Dean's lap and turns to face him, sitting cross legged in the space between him and Castiel.
"No. I want to tell you a story."
Most kids want stories told to them. Temperance is far too dramatic for passive listening. She always makes up the story.
"Ok," Dean agrees, turning onto his side, body curling enough to make a little wall around Temperance. Celeste leans back against his stomach when Temperance snatches Jeff up, apparently needing his help to tell her tale. "What kind of story?"
Her voice lowers to a hissing whisper. "A ghost story," she declares seriously, head bowed as she peers at him in what she clearly believes is a spooky expression. Really, the only missing is the flashlight to hold up under her chin.
Dean blinks. Only his child would climb into bed with her parents out of fear and then tell a ghost story to cheer herself up.
"Alright. Bring it."
Then, before he can stop her, Temperance reaches over and thumps Castiel on the chest. Hard. His eyes fly open and he shoots up. Grace slides down his stomach and falls out of his shirt into his lap with a choking cry. Dean tries not to find it terribly endearing when Castiel peers around wildly, searching for the source of the disturbance in utter sleep-induced confusion. Grace flops around, trying to right herself. When Cas' eyes fall onto Temperance, they clear a bit, but he still looks pretty bewildered.
"I want you to hear my story too," she says as if this is sufficient explanation for why she's in bed with them or why he was just violently snatched from a deep sleep. To his credit, he recovers pretty quickly. The confusion doesn't fade, but he sinks back into the bed. He turns like Dean has, so that he is facing her. Grace, who finally found her feet, hops over to join him. Dean is not the least bit surprised when Jeff struggles out of Temperance's hands, transforms into a sparrow and scampers to Grace's side. Jeff's been going through a copycat stage lately when it comes to Grace. He loves nothing better than turning into some kind of small bird and racing Grace through the air.
"Very well," Castiel says calmly and when Temperance looks away, he shoots an inquisitive glance in Dean's direction. Dean's grin is meant to convey the idea that he will explain later and the message must transmit because Castiel only raises an eyebrow at him before focusing on Temperance.
"Ok," she says. "Once upon a time-"
"Hang on," Dean interrupts. "What kind of ghost story starts with 'once upon a time'?"
"Daddy," Temperance whines, "Papa says it's rude to interrupt."
This from the man who used to literally appear out of nowhere into Dean's business, no matter what else Dean was doing. Dean ignores the hint of smugness on Castiel's face and just waves a hand at Temperance.
"Right, sorry 'bout that. Please continue."
"Anyway," she starts again. "Once upon a time, there was a haunted car."
"Cool," Dean says without thought, even though he once dealt with a ghost car and it was so totally not cool. It's just awesome that Temperance loves cars as much as Dean does because he may have lead the horse to water and all that, but he couldn't force the kid to like cars. Sam makes fun of Dean for all the car lessons, but Dean figures it's a parent's job to pass on their interests to their kids. And it's not like he's the only one doing it. Temperance also loves Sunday school.
"It was a big black car and there was a ghost living in it!" Temperance continues, voice rising on her dramatic reveal. Dean chooses not to question the concept of a ghost 'living' anywhere and instead looks appropriately surprised.
"Yeah?" he prompted.
Beside them, Castiel makes a small noise and it takes Dean a moment to realize it's a half-swallowed yawn. For half a second, he's irritated with him. Until he really looks at Cas. He is blinking reddened eyes and struggling to focus on their child. Then Dean remembers it's the middle of the friggin' night and the poor guy is clearly exhausted. He knows the gesture will in no way help, but it doesn't stop him from dropping a hand to the back of Castiel's head and stroking his fingers through Cas' hair. Castiel's eyelids immediately droop to near closed. Luckily, Temperance doesn't seem to notice, so Dean just continues petting Castiel's head while she continues her story.
"Uh huh and the ghost's name is George," Temperance explains. Hardly a surprise, Dean thinks. Temperance favors the name George and has given it to nearly everything in their house. In fact, the big black car that Dean suspects is the star of this story was christened 'George' sometime last year.
"Does George know he's a ghost?" Castiel asks sleepily, surprising Dean, who kind of thought he'd drifted off again.
"No!" Temperance trembles with excitement at this new plot development. Tiny flapping noises draw Dean's attention to Jeff, who is flying in a small circle around Grace's head. "No, because he used to be a hunter and he thinks he should get rid of the ghost in the car, except he is the ghost!"
"So he's hunting himself?"
Dean actually feels a bit of a chill at the idea. Maybe he's just come too close to the same fate to not feel a little twinge of discomfort. Again, not something Temperance knows or should know. She knows about hunting because the Winchesters' fame means they are visited by hunters all the time, but Dean doesn't think she really knows what they do, beyond getting rid of ghosts.
"Uh huh," she confirms. "But he is being hunted too because the car belongs to a hunter named John."
Dean smiles. Again, he is not surprised. Lately, Temperance's insatiable curiosity has turned to families and to questions like why she has two fathers when most of her little friends don't and where Dean and Castiel's parents have gone. Not the easiest conversations in the world. When Temperance finds out that Castiel didn't really have parents like her and Dean, she spends the rest of the day in a quiet funk and refuses to be separated from Castiel's side.
On the other hand, she adores stories about Dean's parents and seems to have developed something of a hero worship for John. Which again is probably Dean's fault because he's grown enough to realize that John didn't always handle things the right way and since having Temperance he literally cannot believe John ever left his kids alone the way he did, but Dean still adores the man and always will. It's just the way parents and kids work, he thinks. At least in this family.
"Every night, he sat next to the car and waited for George to show up," Temperance says and her voice lowers again. She looks back and forth between them and a quick check tells Dean that Castiel's eyes are still opened, though just barely.
"And then one night and it was really dark outside, it finally happened," she whispered. "John heard footprints."
Castiel's eyes widened. "Wait a minute," he says. "He heard footprints?"
He sounds more awake than he has since Dean climbed into bed earlier in the night. It just figured too. Much like Dean struggles with Temperance's hair, Castiel is locked in an epic battle with her grammar and vocabulary. Something about dealing with prophecies and sacred script in every language ever known for thousands of years has made Castiel a real hardass about these things.
"Yeah." She pauses, peering at Castiel as if trying to decide why he interrupted her. "Ghosts can make noise, Papa," she finally explains.
"I see," Castiel says, evidently deciding to let it go for now. Probably because he is still somewhat perplexed about why she is telling this story in the first place. But Dean feels certain the subject of footprints versus footsteps will be bought up again.
"So footprints, huh? Was it George?" Celeste asks, trying to get them back to the story.
"Yup and he had a gun! Only it was a ghost gun, so John wasn't scared. So he asked George why he was still a ghost and George got mad and he said that John was the ghost and he was mad because John was always in his car and it used to be his brother's car and so George didn't like it when people messed with his brother," Temperance says in what must be the longest run-on sentence Dean's heard in quite some time.
"Can't blame him for that," Dean says. He'd come back too and kick some ass as a ghost if someone were messing with Sam.
"I want a brother," Temperance comments suddenly. Dean's hand stills on Castiel's head and the two of them just stare at her for a long moment.
"Um," Dean says.
"We'll see," Castiel adds.
"What did John do?" Dean hopes the question will swerve Temperance off the topic of possible younger siblings and back onto her story. Judging by the way she has started rubbing at her eyes, he won't have to worry too much about her pursuing the subject. In fact, before answering, she presses one hip against the mattress and spins her legs out, lying down in the warm space between Dean and Castiel. Jeff changes into a mouse and crawls down the front of her nightgown. Like father, like daughter, Dean thinks.
"He told George that he wasn't doing anything to his brother and that George should go on up to Heaven where his brother was anyway," Temperance says, her words muffled because her cheek is pressed against the crook of her arm. "George was a little scared of leaving Earth, so John said a prayer and some angels came and walked with him when he left," she finishes, sleep creeping into her voice.
Over her head, Dean and Castiel exchange a glance. Temperance knows Castiel is different somehow, but they haven't had the 'So one of your fathers was an angel' talk yet. Every time she mentions angels, it reminds Dean that they'll have to have this discussion sooner or later. He just hopes she doesn't have her heart set on being in a normal family.
"That's a nice story," Dean says as Castiel reaches over to rub soothing circles onto her back.
It's true. It's a hell of a lot nicer than most of the ghost stories he's lived. Temperance mumbles something that might have been thanks before she drops off. The room is quiet for a long moment, then Castiel turns on his stomach, face turned towards Dean.
"It was storming."
"So tell me, have you ever ferried the departed soul of some poor schmuck back upstairs?"
Castiel makes a face at him. "I wasn't a reaper. Though angels have been known to welcome souls into Heaven."
"Gotcha," Dean says and pretends it doesn't still freak him out that Castiel used to be an angel.
There is another long pause that Grace and Celeste use to get resettled against one another. Dean grabs the hand Castiel's hidden under his pillow and breathes out a deep sigh, comforted by the very human warmth radiating from Castiel's skin.
"Hmm," Castiel sighs and just a moment later, he is asleep once again. Dean snorts and yeah, maybe he watches them until sleep claims him as well. Which is still totally sappy, but oh well.
Sometimes a little sap isn't such a bad thing.