Disclaimer: This is not mine. S'all the Kripkeeper's. Spoilers: Up to 6.20. Goes AU after that.


Shaking. The stripper bar was shaking, scantily clad, shrieking women fleeing the scene, lacy undergarments thrown into the air as a crack formed on the ceiling, the walls crumbl- No. Wait. It wasn't the club. He was shaking.


He groaned piteously, burying his head against the pillow as he was forcefully yanked out of the comfort of his third favourite happy-time dream. And just when he was getting to the good part, naturally. The solid weight of someone's relentless hand rested on his shoulder, jerking his body with urgency and, if the little huffs of air were anything to go by, frustration.

"Goddammit, what?" he groused into the sheets, eyebrows furrowed in annoyance as he slid his arms under his pillow, hugging it towards him in an attempt to block out the fact he was currently awake and not watching angel and demon strippers get frisky. It wasn't like there was anything of immediate importance going on right now. Raphael was dead, so was Eve, Sam had his soul, no angels wanted to acquire themselves a Winchester flavoured condom and the apocalypse was off the table. Hell, even the demons were lying low lately. He hadn't seen a sassy, black-eyed bastard in almost a month and very few since Crowley had been...properly disposed of.

They'd come off simple salt and burn a little over two weeks ago, and barely heard a peep since. Things were quiet, and not the creepy, tight violin string, shit's-about-to-get-really-real-but-you-don't-know-it-yet kind of calm before the storm quiet either. Castiel had confirmed his suspicions that the majority of monsters and things that go bump in the night had not taken their mother's death all that well- the ones that didn't die along with her had shrunk back into hiding to lick their wounds, the poor little orphans. And actually, it was kind of awesome.

The air just felt...lighter and while Dean wasn't holding his breath to retire or anything quite so far-fetched, Sam was at least looking happier lately, and hell, that was good enough. This was their first real break in a long time and he was trying to enjoy it, which would be a lot easier if it wasn't for the goddamn persistent angel.

"Dean, we need to talk" said Castiel, somewhere to the left of him, voice as grave and gravely as ever, but Dean's ears caught the layer of rushed insistence in his tone. He sounded...nervous? His attention caught, he rolled over onto his side, leaning up to squint at the clock. The smug red numbers sent a 3:47am shaped grin his way, causing him to make a miserable sound and scrub his hand over slightly stinging eyes.

"Cas, can't it wait until the birds are up at least?" Dean huffed, before looking up at the angel. To the untrained eye, Castiel was staring almost impassively down at him, a faint coating of stern impatience to his features, sure, but that was it. But Dean could see the minuscule twitches in his fingers as he lightly clutched at the edges of his trench coat, the strained glaze of his a-little-wider-than-usual eyes. The fact he actually wet his lips before speaking, so very human and so very, yes, nervous. He furrowed his brow, watching as Castiel stared at him, seemingly unsure, for a moment as he- contrary to his normal frank and abrupt nature- paused before answering.

"...Yes, I suppose it could" he said slowly as if mentally working out the equation of conversing with Dean Winchester. His eyebrows knotted together as he levelled Dean with the perpetually soul-searching stare he'd still not quite, even after four years of knowing the guy, grown used to.

"But I would prefer if we could speak now" he continued, "It...is a matter of some import."

Dean sighed, throwing his legs over the side of the bed and yanking a pair of pants on. He wasn't actually going to make Castiel wait to talk to him. Before he even noticed the angels' odd behaviour, he'd already resigned himself to the fact that he was going to be hauling his ass out of bed way too early that morning. See, after all that had happened in the past year, the fact that Castiel felt he had to go to Crowley instead of him, the isolation, the distance between them and the cost it had come at, ignoring Castiel when he came to Dean with an issue wasn't really an option for him any more. When you almost lose a member of your family for good, you make these kind of concessions.

"Alright, come on" he said in a hushed voice as he walked towards the motel room door. There was no sense in waking his still deep-in-sleep brother with their conversation. One of them should get a decent night's sleep at least. Castiel stalked eagerly out after him, his body tilting forward a little as if he was battling the urge to just blurt out whatever news it was that he had.

Dean leant back against the hood of the Impala, grateful for the lingering summer heat as opposed to the freezing night air he'd unconsciously been expecting. He watched Castiel carefully as he stood to the side of the car, hands fidgeting awkwardly at his sides.

"So, what's so important that you felt the need to drag my ass out of bed at half past hell o'clock?" Dean asked, folding his arms over his stomach as he perched on the hood. Castiel's mouth opened and closed twice, hesitancy and worry written all over his features. He let out a deep sigh, shoulders sagging as he closed his eyes for a moment. Dean's face twisted with concern at the image of distress Castiel made, the atmosphere surrounding them crackling with growing tension.

"Dude, c'mon, it can't be that bad" he prompted, which was a complete lie because it absolutely could be that bad and no-one knew that more than Dean Winchester, but going by the almost tangible anxiety radiating from Castiel, the angel needed some amount of reassurance. Castiel lifted his head back up and peeled two weary eyes, sending an expression that somehow communicated both an exasperated "you dumb human" and an exhausted "I do not want to tell you this" at the same time.

"Dean..." he started with an exhale tailing closely behind as he took an uncertain step closer "I...I am pleased that we have begun to mend the damage done to our relationship."

Dean frowned, wondering what the hell that had to do with anything. He had been resolutely avoiding the topic of their recently strained friendship ever since they had begun making moves to build it back up because...well, honestly he didn't want to think about it. The topic left him with a hollow feeling in his gut and a putrid taste staining his pallet. They- and that includes Sam and Bobby- just didn't talk about it. So why was Castiel bringing it up now?

The angel paused again, likely collecting clumsy words to string together because after all, he learnt how to voice his thoughts and feelings from Dean, who let's face it, is not the most articulate of emoters.

"But" he began again, the heavy, simple word pulling Dean's spine taut automatically, "I...am aware that I shattered the trust you had in me with my actions this past year and I am not anticipating that I can rebuild it as it once was" and really, Dean had to protest because, yes, while it was true they still had some re-patching to do, he had forgiven Cas, begun to understand his position and why he felt he had to do what he did.

Not to mention, he had long since realised what an absolute dick he'd been to the angel and had guiltily accepted his part in what had happened. He had learnt to trust Sam again after everything with Ruby and the demon blood and he could and had extended the same courtesy to Castiel.

"Aw, c'mon Cas, you know that's not-"

"Dean, let me finish" Castiel cut in, holding a hand out to silence any further protests from Dean, who huffed in response.

"As I was saying, I know that I have shaken your trust in me, but you have to believe me" he stepped closer again, his expression serious and pleading, "I had nothing to do with this."

Dean quirked an eyebrow at the rushed, exigent stress to his speech, trying to decipher the hidden tenor to Castiel's words.

"Nothing to do with what, Cas?" he asked, wary of the topic that had the angel so clearly spooked.

Castiel's jaw clenched and he looked off to the side, the look in his eyes just this side of absolutely fearful. His chest was expanding slowly as he took several deep breaths, so unlike his usual demeanour and Dean was nervous as hell because what was so severe it had the angel this worked up? Castiel turned away from Dean for a moment, probably to compose himself as he brought a stiff hand up to swipe over his face. He was debating whether or not to move closer, to place a reassuring hand on his shoulder to calm him when Castiel took one last breath, moved to face him and, finally, spoke.

"We...seem to have acquired an infant."

Dean stilled, running the sentence back over in his mind, verifying that he had heard the correct words, that they meant what they meant. And yes, after going of them several times, he still reached the same conclusion; that he had absolutely no idea what the hell Castiel was talking about.

"...An infant" he repeated slowly, eyebrows raised with incredulity because this was just not making any sense to him whatsoever. Castiel sighed audibly.

"Earlier this afternoon, I met with a few higher ranking brothers of mine" he informed Dean, a heavy sense of tiredness amalgamating with the disquiet in his tone. "Balthazar interrupted."

Well no surprises there, Dean thought. He really disliked that smarmy, v-neck wearing douchenozzle, but pushing his snarky thought patterns to the side for a moment, he focused hard on Cas, unable to thread these snaps of information together to form a clear picture. Castiel looked up at the sky, squinting at the clouds as though he was seeing the scene of the crime from down here.

"He...brought news" Castiel muttered. His eyes flickered back up to meet Dean's confused gaze once more, "He brought with him a child." Dean screwed up his nose and stood up straighter.

"Alright, I think I'm missing something here. Balthazar crashes your party with a kid and this requires me to be awake because why now?"

Castiel chewed his bottom lip for a moment, the dark circles under his eyes more prominent in the pallid moonlight, the weight of the past four years exposed in the tiny nets of dark blue veins illuminated under the tell tale spotlight, the worry lines that had somehow deepened over the time Castiel had been in possession of his vessel. It made something inside Dean knot up, pushing him into familiar uncomfortable territory because he didn't like seeing Castiel this way.

There were parts of him that refused to quieten down that urged and insisted that he smooth over the cracks on Castiel's surface, that wanted to give back because Castiel had taken care of him to the best of his ability and at the expense of great personal sacrifice for years and glass shards of compulsion swarmed his veins and it was all he could do not to pull the angel into an urgent hug, because that is just something they just didn't do.

And the truth was, it wasn't down to a fierce disdain for 'chick flick' moments, or really his inability to express himself. It was the burgeoning fear that he would reach out to help Castiel, to tug him back to shore only to find out he is a ball of yarn and the harder he tugs, the more he unravels, diminishes. He wanted to patch him over, make him new just as the angel had done for him all those years ago. But he was Dean Winchester. He destroyed, he did not repair. And he couldn't risk it. So instead he stood, arms spread wide, watching the barely visible flecks of emotion pinch across Castiel's face.

"Dean" he said staidly, "It- he- is our child. ...Our son"

There was an immediate wrench somewhere inside Dean's middle as Castiel spoke the impossible words, the impact as though he had been kicked in the stomach by a particularly overly keen wendigo. His brain scrambled to catch up with itself, clambering over the shapes and sounds that had just puked their way out of Castiel's fumbling mouth because there was absolutely no way he could mean the first conclusion Dean had arrived at. It was preposterous, infeasible and no little amount of insane. They stared at each other for long moments of precariously hinged silence before he twitched his head to the side in bewildered question because what?

"Yours and...Balthazar's?" he questioned tentatively, electrons and synapses and whatever the hell else working overdrive to provide an explanation, the fringe theory that might actually turn out to be the correct one, go all Dunham on their asses and save the goddamn day. But dammit, he knew. With that same twist in his gut, he knew.

The way Cas was staring at him, the begging truth in his eyes, the open posture of his body which was somehow both defensive and protective in it's plainness. Some primordial instinct in him was already twisting with the word's Castiel hadn't yet verified, but his body was frozen, heart jackhammering as he waited only half consciously for confirmation of the nonsensical supposition.

Castiel breathed out through his nose, his spider leg-blue stare unwavering, the sharp edges of it blooming red heat up Dean's neck as his emotions hopscotched. This could not be good.

"Dean" Castiel said, his lips stretching around the single syllable as though it was painful to choke out, "the boy is ours. Mine...and yours."

He blinked once. Twice.

The atmosphere pulsing like something alive around them. As Castiel stared back at him, face miserable and sewn with an unmitigated amount of uneasiness. He wasn't kidding- oh god- he wasn't kidding. Panic swelled in his flesh, curdling unsettlingly in his chest, pinching and abducted his breath. He gripped at the Impala, no longer trusting his knees to keep him upright because that was it. That was stony, unyielding truth he could feel stagnant in the air. He stammered, mind flailing out blindly, searching desperately for some way of making sense of this because-

"How?" he choked, finishing his thought aloud, "W-we've never even-"

"Dean, as neither one of us are in possession of a womb or a birth canal, even constant sexual congress would not have resulted in a child," Castiel cut in, and if Dean wasn't too busy losing his mind to cruel shock, he would have called him out on his snark and eye rolling, but as it stood, the common sense of Castiel's words merely served to confuse him more.

"Then, how, Cas?" Dean yelled, snappiness setting in as his instincts flung him into defence mode, "Because last time I checked, babies just don't appear out of no-where. Especially for two dudes!"

"I...believe my father had something to do with this" Castiel said quietly, head cocked to the side as though he was tasting the words for the first time, formulating a theory, "Only he has the power to create a new angel and one so unique...Dean, this has to be a gift from the Lord."

Dean snorted disbelievingly, a half sneer polluting his features.

"A gift? Your dad's been AWOL for the past fuck knows how long, left us to deal with the goddamn apocalypse and decided to leave us a baby instead of a fruit basket to, what? Pass on his thanks?" He scoffed, eyebrows knotted into an expression of clear contempt. Castiel's jawed clenched, a scowl slipping into his eyes.

"Then what do you theorise Dean?" he bit out, moving closer, shoulders drawn taut "A small, nephilim hybrid of an infant was presented before my brother while he was still in the heavenly spheres- an infant whose makeup is thread with both my grace and your soul. Whose body is comprised of your DNA and that of my vessel. How is it that he exists if not for my father?"

"I don't know, Cas!" Dean shouted, hands jerking out at the side of him, still immeasurably on edge "You're the one who dragged me out of bed in the middle of the night to tell me I apparently got an angel for a kid as a 'no hard feelings' present from God." Castiel's face darkened visibly, his teeth clenching

"The nature of my visit, Dean, doesn't concern how our son exists, it's that he does" he snapped, "He belongs to us and we have a responsibility to talk about this. Keeping secrets from you, I've recently discovered, is good for nothing, aside for 'fucking things up', and due to the seriousness of the topic, I assumed you would want to know." He turned around, trench coat swooshing in the slight breeze.


"I do not expect anything from you, Dean" Castiel muttered, "I came to you because as the child's other father, you have a right to know of his existence. But if needs be, I will raise Dashiel alone."

The strength of Dean's fear and anger was knocked right out of him by the gut punch of guilt because dammit that is not what he meant. He hadn't even gotten to the point of thinking about raising anything- he was still too busy freaking out over the concept of being a dad out of nowhere- and he didn't even get laid to do it!But he certainly wasn't thinking about letting Castiel do this on his own. The slumped downturn of the angel's shoulders tore at his insides with unhappiness because he just knew that he'd gone ahead without thinking and forced Castiel into a sense of isolation again. He exhaled, pinching his nose in stress.

"Cas, that's not what I was sayi-" something occurred to him suddenly, silencing his train of thoughts, "...Dashiel? You named our kid without asking me?" Castiel huffed and turned back around.

"He needed a name, Dean. I couldn't keep referring to him as 'the nephilim'" he said irritably, "It is a name that connotes both the angelic and the human. Balthazar agreed it was appropriate." Dean's head fell back against his shoulder in agitation before deciding to pick his battles and mentally re-scheduling this one for a later date because Dashiel? Really?

"How do you...know he's ours?" He had to ask, knew there was room for misunderstanding, but he didn't trust angels. Aside from Cas, they had all been dickbags out for themselves, wanting nothing more than to fuck with and manipulate Dean's life and he would not put letting him believe he had a son past them. And Castiel must have understood as he nodded once, firmly, showing not signs of offence at Dean's query.

"I understand your disbelief, Dean" he began, eyes boring straight into Dean's, "If I could not see, I would probably feel the same."

"See?" Castiel nodded again.

"I know our son is mine because I can feel my grace in his when he reaches out with it. It is... extraordinary" he looked off to the side briefly, lips pursed as though he was remembering the sensation he spoke of, before turning serious eyes back to Dean.

"But I know he is yours because I can see your soul in him" Castiel's tone was grave, leaving no room for argument or protest, "Your soul shone out through the darkest depths of hell to me, still so beautiful, still so bright despite all you had endured. And I held it in my grace and felt its purity at the very core of me...Out of all things, Dean, your soul is the most fascinating and magnificent thing I have ever witnessed. I would know it anywhere."

Dean felt his heart pound in his chest, half wondering if it was about to break through because as uncomfortable as he was at Castiel's speech, the surety, the passion with which he spoke drew out something desperate in Dean, annoyingly so. He knew his cheeks were flushing over, knew his disbelieving snort of response was not convincing. Castiel had to know the effect his words were having on Dean and, man, he sucked.

"Can we stop referring to my soul as 'beautiful' please, Cassandra?" And, alright that wasn't his best, but he needed to say something to blanket how awkward he felt under the attention. Dean Winchester, repressive, emotionally stunted moron reporting for duty.

"And our son has it" Castiel continued on, ignoring and seemingly unphased by Dean's absurd reactions, voice adamant but almost begging, as through he felt he needed to convince Dean of this.

"When I look at our child, I can see your soul shine in his, and it is...perhaps even more beautiful when coupled with his grace. He is ours, Dean." Castiel sighed, looking so overhwhelmed, so out of place but so desperate for Dean to believe him, to support him, it was near heartbreaking

Dean stopped to collect himself, working overtime to calm down, hammering it into his head that he was not the only party effected here. His best friend and...whatever else Castiel might have been to him was just as far from his comfort zone as he was and they had a...son to think of, and yes he believed Castiel's words. Of course he did. He just needed to align his thoughts, and fast. And though he wouldn't admit it, the lines of Castiel's face, the awkward hold of his posture told Dean that he was counting on him. He felt lost and alienated and, Christ, no they weren't going down that road again. He needed Dean to help him, he needed his support and Dean would give it. He would. He just had to breathe.

Rubbing the palm of his hand over his eyes, he swallowed down his own fears and reservations and looked back to Cas, stress still pouring off him despite his best efforts.

"Look, where...where is he?" he questioned, frowning as he struggled to gather where he was going with this train of thought. Castiel eyes roamed the stars again, the moon painting silver over his cheeks.

"He's with Balthazar" he grumbled, turning his head back to Dean, the twitch of his brows relaying a sense of apprehension once more "I was...reluctant to leave him. I have to get back soon." Which Dean totally understood because the thought of Balthazar looking after his kid- or any kid for that matter- summoned a churning sensation in his midsection.

"Can I see him?" he blurted out, surprising himself with his own words as he was confronted with the realisation of how much he wanted that. Wanted to see this miracle brat for himself, wanted to look at the baby and see himself reflected there twined with pieces of Cas. Wanted to hold his son for the first time and introduce himself and that pressing desire, the need of it, outweighed any lingering sense of fear. He tried again, more firm, looking straight into Cas' eyes. "I want to see him."

Castiel paused for a moment, considering him, his eyes tracing over Dean's face as though he was assessing his words, the veracity of them- measuring up the pros and cons. After a handful of seconds worth of appraising, he fixed Dean's eyes back into his line of vision and nodded once.

"Of course" he said, and for a fleeting second, Dean swore he caught a passing glimpse of the barest of smiles, less than those light twitches of lip he'd seen on Cas' face before, but something airy. Relieved. For a moment there was a lightness about him, a curl of happiness in the blue of his irises and, man, Dean wanted to see it again, wanted to capture it for himself and bathe in the way it lifted the dead weight in his chest, eased the ache in his stomach.

He wanted, undeniably, to spend time coaxing those barely visible quirks of the mouth from Cas and this was probably not the best time to be waxing poetic about the guy, but he'd spent the past three years or more catching himself doing exactly that at the most inopportune moments- he figured studying the borrowed features of the father of his child at the news of his..creation, well...that was permissible.

"Wait here" Castiel ordered and abruptly disappeared with a flutter of invisible wings, leaving Dean stood in the close summer morning, a rapidly descending sense of anxiety and juddering nerves encasing him because oh fuck, oh fuck. Any sense of calmness had left with Castiel. He didn't think this through. What was he doing? He had very little experience with babies- the shifter experience a total bust. And Ben...he had felt like a father, would've done anything to protect him. He had loved the kid. Fiercely. But ultimately, as he knew he would, he brought misery and pain to both Lisa and her child.

How could he inflict that on his own son? He didn't have the first idea about raising a child. And Castiel...Castiel's experiences with children hadn't faired so well either. How the hell had this happened? What kind of twisted God would relinquish a small, innocent person into their care?

He didn't know what to do, didn't know how to do anything other than stand there, unmoving save for the nervous clenching and unclenching of his hands as he waited out the longest, most high strung two minutes of his life. Tension coiled and twisted and built up in his stomach, his body flushing over hot as an air of dizziness drilled into his head and just as he thought maybe he should sit down because he was pretty damn close to passing out, Castiel reappeared before him, a tiny dark blue bundle in trench clad arms.

His breathing stopped. The overwhelming emotions he was feeling merely seconds earlier suddenly ripped out from him, pushing him to zero. He found himself staring, frozen in place, limbs not listening to his commands to move as he watched Castiel look down at the thing in his arms and it was only when the angel's gazed flickered to him that he, eyes impossibly wide, stuttered forward, feet moving before his brain had caught up.

He approached Castiel with quivering limbs, heart lodged in his gullet. Dean stared down at the blanketed package Castiel was carrying, fairly awkwardly too- as though he wasn't quite sure how to hold it correctly but nonetheless handling it with absolute care and attention, lest he break something precious. Dean swallowed compulsively against his emotions, hunting for breath.

"Is that.." he croaked out, craning his neck in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the child's face. Castiel nodded solemnly.

"Can I..?" Dean's voice trailed off as his eyes flickered up to Castiel's in question, his intent clear. He wet his mouth, suddenly unfathomably eager to meet the person Castiel clutched clumsily to his chest.

The angel looked briefly down at the baby in his arms and to Dean's surprise, his face smoothed out. No hint of worried wrinkle, no dark lines of pained stress. There was wonder carved into his eyes, there was clarity, and Dean's pulse screamed at him to move forward, to see what Castiel was seeing. But he stayed perfectly still, the whole territory untrodden and littered with landmines. Castiel's eyes slid back up to him and he stepped forward.

"Of course you can" he whispered, the harsher edges of his voice buttering over with something that sang of reverence. He passed the child into Dean's waiting arms, mindful of the head, breath hitching a little as the infant fussed in his sleep. "He is yours".

Dean gathered the child close to him, a sudden, crashing sense of amazement filling him as he stared down at the tiny being, Castiel's words lingering languidly in the ether. He watched, awed, as the baby did nothing but breathe, small chest expanding lightly in his slumber, the tiniest of twitches flecking across smooth, pink cheeks as he dreamt.. Dean drank in his features, cataloguing ever last millimetre of soft skin, filing away the length of dark eyelashes, the gentle curve of a tiny nose, the slope of the smallest red lips he'd ever seen. He noticed the mop of dark hair- Castiel's hair...or Jimmy's, he supposed- and found himself wanting to know the colour of the child's eyes. Would they be the same stupidly blue colour Castiel was currently sporting? Which, alright, was a dumb question- newborns always had blue eyes, right? But just looking at this kid, he needed to know, wanted to learn more, to learn everything. He didn't, want to let go. Not for a second. He wouldn't.

Something eased inside him, the onerous mass that had constricted his lungs bursting into compurgation, into absolution with every sweep of impatient eyes over the baby- his baby's face, because yes. This was his. Somehow, he had played a part in creating this...thing, this shockingly small, beautiful thing. And there was no denying it, no battling back against the irrefutable truth that this child belonged to him. It was unexplainable, he had no word for it, but he knew. Somewhere distantly he wondered if it was like Castiel said, if it was due to the child carrying a piece of his soul but that was neither here nor there. He had a son, a real honest to fuck, flesh and blood, half angel son.

His eyes pricked with wetness, the energy- the thought- to be embarrassed having long left him because this was his kid goddammit, and the only other person here to witness it was Castiel, who not only didn't know to be embarrassed by this but by the look of him, understood completely.

"Hey, little buddy" Dean breathed after long seconds of enraptured staring. He clutched the baby closer to him, gently smoothing over an absurdly soft cheek with a tender finger. His voice was cracked open with emotion, every syllable in danger of breaking on his tongue.

"I'm your daddy."

The child didn't react, completely unaware that his very existence had just shaken everything Dean knew, had split open his life just by breathing and reduced everything down to this one moment. He slept on, the little shit, uncaring of how he had melted Dean Winchester down by doing absolutely nothing until he was completely gone for the kid and, dammit, he was. This little guy wrapped haphazardly in a suspiciously cashmere blanket had come out of nowhere and skewered right into the centre of Dean's world- shuffling in comfortably right next to Sam and pie, and he'd only met him two and a half minutes ago.

He looked up at Castiel who was watching them with a lopsided half-smile on his face, which on Cas was nothing short of beaming, as his eyes radiated unbridled joy at his charge. Dean's stomach fluttered obnoxiously again at the image of him, the shades of pride and happiness as he looked upon Dean and...their child. Dean smiled back, unable to fight against the infectious expression and seconds later, found himself gazing back down at his son, eager eyes studying him again.

"Fuck, Cas" he sighed, breathing deeply around the lump in his throat. "He's beautiful."

Castiel stepped forward, shuffling to their side to peer over Dean's shoulder at the infant, greedily taking the opportunity to stare at him some more.

"Yes. He is...quite remarkable", he said, the small smile still firmly lodged into place. He looked Dean straight in the eyes, the proximity of their faces something that would normally send him into a flustered panic as he squirmed under the pressure of the uncomfortable intensity of Castiel's presence. But now...yes, there was the lingering sense of awkwardness but it was familiar. The disregard for personal space, the batting aside of human customs- it was comforting because Castiel really, even after all that had happened, hadn't changed.

Even after the past year- hell the past four years- he was still Cas. Still good, still the angel that hauled his ass out of hell, the angel that had sat in a brothel with him and smiled that awkward smile as Dean laughed at their exploits. The angel who gave everything up for him, who died more than once for him and still came back for more. The angel who had become so hell bent on keeping him alive and safe that he'd almost lost himself in the process and having him right next to him, knowing that never happened, that he held on, that he was here, well, Dean didn't even have the energy to pretend that did anything other than uncurl warmth inside him.

"I believe as he grows, he will come to greatly resemble his father" Castiel frowned "Uh...I meant his human father. You." Dean snorted. Yeah, that was going to cause some thinking problems in the future but right now he couldn't give a damn about how many dads the kid had because he was his and that was something he just couldn't get over. And Castiel's fumbling version of "he looks just like his daddy" was, aw hell, it was probably one of the most endearing things he'd ever witnessed and something dangerously more than affection swelled alongside the dozens of other roiling emotions he carried.

"So what you're saying is he's gonna be a handsome son of a bitch when he's older", he grinned at Castiel, dutifully masking his inner turbulence with a layer of playful smugness and bravado.

"Perhaps you should be more concerned about whether or not he'll inherit your big head " Castiel replied simply, the flat deadpan tone drawing a startled bark of a laugh out of Dean, subsequently jolting the child in his arms. Dean's eyes ballooned as the baby made a small noise of protest and he scrambled to shush him, to quieten him back down as he rocked him gently, crooning out whispered lulling sounds to him on reflex.

"You...are good at that", Castiel murmured, contemplating the two, seemingly weighing up Dean's instinctual abilities. Dean saw as the twitch of a frown descended back onto Castiel's forehead, a clear omen of the worrying he was currently doing. And if Dean had three guesses, he'd bank on Cas freaking out over whether or not he'd be able to handle this because that was a very human reaction and Castiel had learnt his humanity from Dean.

"I... You'll be fine at this, you know", he said conversationally, still soothing the baby. Castiel's head dropped down again, eyes not meeting Dean's so really he had no option but to brace Dashiel... temporarily-Dashiel on one arm and to bring his other hand up to cup Castiel's chin and lift his head until the angel was forced to look at him.

"Cas, I have no idea what I'm doing either" he said, mossy green eyes honest and open, relaying the truth of what he was saying- and it was. They were as pink and vulnerable as the child before them and were both emerging into uncharted territory completely unprepared, but they would tackle this the Winchester way. Together. And Castiel had to know that. Had to know that there was no way on earth was Dean going to leave him to raise Dash- the baby alone.

"But we'll...we'll figure it out, okay?" he whispered, fingers still resting on Castiel's stubble speckled jaw, "You and me. We're gonna do this together. Alright?"

Castiel considered him for a moment before silently nodding, the light frown yielding to the pleasant almost smile once more. Dean couldn't even find it in himself to curse the honeyed fondness he was feeling or the rush of emotion he didn't even know how to feel, as feathered halcyon tickled at his flesh, drawing out goosebumps along his bare arms. He saw the slivers of worry dissolve away, until the angels' face was illuminated, his otherworldly, more blue than virtue eyes locking into Dean's as though he could offer him answers to all the questions laying heavy on his tongue.

Castiel watched him right back, the unhinging strength of the two orbs bright with something so much more than Jimmy Novak's tired irises, and Dean had always speculated over whether or not that was the glow of his friend's grace, the thrum of power bubbling unsteadily just beneath the surface, reminding him exactly what Cas was. But it didn't matter. Not then and certainly not now. Not with the solid weight of their child in his arms, the look laced with something akin to happiness in Castiel's powerful gaze, seeping into Dean like molasses.

Since the moment Castiel had made the decision to rebel against his superiors- his brothers- for Dean and had jumped aboard the SS Free Will, his angelic nature had been nothing but a quotidian fact- no more remarkable than his hair happening to be dark, not really, because in all ways that counted, Castiel was very human. He had wormed his way into Dean's life, into his family and dammit, Dean wanted nothing more than to keep him. The thought of Castiel returning to heaven, of not seeing him...it was led in his stomach. Like the thought of Sam leaving with Ruby had been, or the memory of his missing father. He needed Castiel here, and not just for the baby. He needed Castiel.

He realised that his hand was still on Castiel's skin, his thumb resting idly just beneath the fullness of a pink bottom lip, had been there for a few moments too long and showed no signs of leaving. His eyes moved of their own will to Castiel's mouth, lingering for a few heartbeats before roaming up Castiel's face and fixing on half lidded, richly blue eyes.

Castiel's breath hitched as they stared into the core of each other, inclining slightly as Dean edged his head forward, unthinkably moving closer to the softness of his mouth and oh God, this was it. That thing between them. That thing that had been there since before Lucifer rose, maybe before that even, the thing that yanked him towards Castiel time and time again and kept the other man coming back to him. That made him yearn for things neither of them had any name for, had any way of processing and he knew, man, he knew somewhere in his centre that they would always have ended up here. That, sooner or later, they would have gravitated towards this. Towards each other. That finally they would know this.

He was leaning forward, caution discarded and shredded apart in something he might have later regretted if it wasn't for Castiel shifting closer to him, his relative lack of experience definitely not holding him back as he angled his head slightly, hand coming to rest gently on his hip and there would be no turning back now, no getting away from the fact that he had kis-

A loud banging noise shocked him out of his revelry as his head snapped up to the motel door just as Sam stumbled through it, tiredly swiping at the sleep coating his eyes with the back of an over-

large hand, messy strands of girlish hair falling in front of his face.

"Dean? What's all the..." he yawned, stilling and frowning as he looked at them, sleep lagged mind trying to grasp a firm conclusion from the picture of the two man standing extremely close, more so then usual, intimacy and the clear sense of "private moment" saturating the air as his brother held some small amount of cloth in their arms. His nose screwed up, hazed eyes narrowing in sleepy confusion.

"Is...Is that a baby?"

Sam, after his initial freak out of "A baby? You have a baby?" paused for a moment, forehead creased up in thought before turning the rapid upheaval of Dean's life into an opportunity for a fully fledged geek out. Dean had stood there, rolling his eyes until they actually began to sting while Sam conducted a full blown lecture, arms flinging around expressively as he chattered on about how this was actually incredibly intriguing given the research undertaken in the UK over the past ten years wherein pluripotent stem cells of a male rat were successfully differentiated into an egg cell which was later fertilised by the sperm of another rat thereby creating the first offspring of two males and this could totally be transferred to humans in the future and really the kid wasn't that much of a miracle just a product of science a few years ahead of his time and blah blah blah.

Castiel, the sneaky little shit, had spotted Sam's tirade for was it was before it had begun and had taken the baby out of Dean's arms and politely excused himself to take "Dashiel" indoors lest he get cold because "newborns are susceptible to illness, Dean." And, actually, Dean was pretty sure that being half angel meant the kid wouldn't be struck down by a common cold- not that Dean wanted to take the risk (because, alright, a twinge of concern did flare up at Castiel's words) but come on! Abandoning him to Sam's biology class was just cruel.

"...But get this, the really interesting part is that, given that they've also created sperm cells from female bone marrow, once we perfect exogenesis, making babies won't even require a male and a female or human copulation at all, it could all be done in labora-"

"Sam!" because, really, Dean was a good brother and he was happy Sam was so enthusiastic about the whole thing but "human copulation?" He knew from past experience that when his brother started to refer to his fellow man so clinically, it was time to shut down the conversation before Dr Frankenchester reared his ugly, outstandingly large head and deemed it necessary to perform some experiments on his new nephew.

"I'm just saying Dean!" he huffed, leaning back against the car, pouting slightly now that his fun had been officially scuppered, visibly calming down as his arms dropped back to his sides and his eyes shrunk back to their usual size.

"Really, Sammy, this is a lot to y'know, process", Dean said, curling his fingers through the air in a vague gesture, "the science talk ain't helping any." Sam sighed and nodded his understanding.

"I know, I'm sorry. I just...wow, y'know?" Dean snorted in response to Sam's articulation. But yeah. He knew. This was...this was huge. He found himself wishing he had a beer or a nice cool glass of Blue Label, something to just take the edge of because he was happy about the kid, he was, and he loved him fiercely already but...the shock of it all was still pretty gruelling. They stood in silence for a few moments, before Sam let out a deep sigh and turned to Dean.

"So, what are you gonna do?" he asked, concerned eyes fluttering over Dean's face, all sad panda and agony aunt rolled into one giant, overgrown ball of caring. Dean exhaled.

"I'm not sure, man" he squinted out at the stars, evaluating everything once, twice, "This life...it's not suited for raising a baby, I don't gotta tell you that." Sam nodded his ascent.

"It would be so damn selfish of me to bring the kid up like we were brought up. I can't be dad. I can't do that. I won't. But..." he felt emotion begin to gather in his throat again and coughed it down, wetting his lips over, "Fuck, I want that kid, Sammy. I've known about him less than and hour and...all I can think of is watching him grow up." He snorted quietly to himself, a sore, humourless smile on his lips. Sam stayed quiet, letting Dean get this out, shuffling just that little bit closer to let his brother feel his presence.

"It's just...he's my son, you know? And family..." he didn't have to finish that. He knew Sam knew. Family was everything. "But he's so little, so damn new and I can't be in charge of something so...breakable, can I? The way we live...no kid should have to go through that." His voice quavered just slightly, a soft southern lull licking at the words, but he fought it down, eyes taking on a steely appearance, jaw clenched as he turned to look at Sam.

"And I'll be damned if I let mine." And the thought was hard. Complicated. He knew he should let Castiel take their son upstairs, keep him safe. That would be the right, selfless thing to do. But there was a ripping sensation in his gut. Not only at the thought of abandoning his child, never seeing him- even if it was for his own good- but for breaking his promise to Cas. Together. He said they'd do this together.

He rubbed at the side of his neck, pressing against the tension in his muscles and lifted his head, looking through the crack in the curtains and into their motel room. Dean's heart twisted at the picture greeting him. Castiel was sat on Dean's bed, holding the baby in his arms tight against him, but otherwise unmoving. But what caught Dean's attention was what he found in the roundness of Castiel's eyes, the softness of his expression. He'd seen that look only on the worshipful, the absolutely devout as they laid their hearts bare for the God that was never listening. But that's what it was. Pure adoration, written in the slope of gentle eyebrows, the amazed wonder sewn into his gaze. Castiel had unquestionably fallen hard and fast for their child. Dean was no where near him but he could practically feel the love radiating from the angel, saw it in each moment he watched the infant. Dean's heart clenched unyieldingly at the thought of leaving this...leaving them.

"You know" Sam began tentatively after a few minutes of silence, "Things...have been quiet lately."

Dean looked back over to him to see him staring back pointedly. "We haven't had anything major for months. Hell, even the minor hunts are few and far between." And yeah, Dean knew this. He'd been relishing it.

"What's your point?" Sam shrugged, sturgeon face coming out to play.

"I'm just saying...maybe we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth" he said, stoically looking into Dean's eyes, "I'm not saying we should retire...cause frankly I don't think that'll ever happen, but..." he paused, brow creasing as he gathered his ideas, "But maybe it's time to, y'know. Cool it down."

"Cool it down" Dean repeated, voice dry.

"Dude, it's not like we have anything we need to be doing. And you got a kid now...he's gonna need his dad, both of his dads." Dean shifted a little uncomfortably at the way that sounded. Yeah...that would definitely take some getting used to.

"But you're right" Sam continued, "You can't bring up a kid and hunt at the same time. So...don't." The words came out with such surety, such simplicity that it actually surprised Dean, like Sam had been thinking about this for weeks, not minutes.

"Just 'don't'?" he questioned, eyebrow curved, "Sam we got a job to do, you know that."

"Right. But like I said, it's quiet. Too quiet to be working all the time- cause dude, there is no work." Sam paused for a few seconds, chewing his lip, "We...we could set up a home base, somewhere close to Bobby's maybe, hunt locally on the weekends." Dean watched him, frowning lightly, mind swirling a little with the idea of it all. When he didn't respond, Sam pressed on.

"If- and I mean if- there's anything big happening...Cas would help out, and I'm willing to bet he'd call in reinforcements now that there's no war if it means protecting his kid. And you" Dean rolled his eyes, scoffing and absolutely not blushing at Sam's words, "No, Dean, really. We could do this."

"Go domestic? Sam I tried that. It didn't take" Dean grimaced, thinking of Ben and Lisa and the person he'd become when he was with them. He loved them, he did. But that just wasn't him. Sam sighed deeply.

"Dean, we both know why that didn't work out" Sam mumbled "You...wouldn't let yourself be happy while you thought I was in hell." Dean bored his eyes into the cement, knowing the truth of Sam's words. Didn't mean he had to acknowledge them.

"But I'm out, Dean and...I want to be happy" his voice softened, quietened so low that Dean had to look up, had to make sure he was okay.

"I've been thinking lately..." Sam continued, approaching the subject carefully, "What with the whole lack of bad guys to gank and how damn quiet things have been...I was thinking of um. Looking at maybe going back to school?" His eyes tightened slightly as though he was preparing himself for Dean's scorn or discouragement but...Dean couldn't summon any.

A few years ago, sure, maybe he'd have been a little pissed at Sam's readiness to leave their job and run away again, but that's not what Sam was asking, and even if it was...he wouldn't begrudge him that. Not any more. They'd been through far too much to even consider feeling anything but a slight curve of pride at Sam's admission, of the thought of his too-smart baby brother finally getting that law degree he wanted. To have something normal.

"That's...that's great, Sammy. Really" he smiled encouragingly, communicating to Sam that he was genuine in what he was saying. Because, yeah, thinking about it, he found he wanted that for his brother. Really wanted it. Sam sent him a crooked, surprised smile in return.

"It wouldn't be Stanford or anything...just community college" he clarified, ducking his head a little, "somewhere local so that I could stick with you, Cas and the brat." Dean grimaced.

"Sam, there's no saying Cas would stick around. He's a pretty big deal up in heaven, dude, they might not even let him go." Dean's mouth turned down even as he was saying the words. Despite his curses, he didn't like the thought of Cas not being around, and he hated the thought of those assholes keeping him gone.

"Dean, look at him" Sam said, gesturing to the window, behind which Castiel still sat, still staring at the baby with absolute worship in his eyes, "Do you really think for a second he's gonna leave that kid?" Dean didn't look. Didn't want to think about it, didn't want to feel the hope that came with it, didn't want to acknowledge how much he wanted this.

"Just think about it, man" Sam murmured, clasping a supportive hand on Dean's shoulder, "You have a real chance here. We have a chance here. I wanna see my nephew grow up too." Sam grinned at him and Dean couldn't fight down the smile that begged to come out at the thought of his dorky, giant puppy of a little brother playing with his son because really, Sammy was made to be the doting uncle.

They stood for a several minutes in companionable silence, staring at Castiel and the baby, the quiet sounds of the early morning the only things audible as the sun began to cast a faint orange glow against the shadows. Sam turned to him suddenly as though a thought had just occurred to him.

"Hey, what's his name anyway? The kid?" he quizzed. "You give him one yet?" Dean's nose screwed up, huffing in remembrance.

"As of right now? Poor little guy's called Dashiel" he mumbled. Sam barked out a loud laugh.

"Let me guess? Castiel's idea, not yours?" Dean grunted out a noise of confirmation, drawing out another long chuckle for Sam, "Dashiel Winchester, huh?" He paused. "Y'know, it's kind of got a ring to it."

Dashiel Winchester. Dean ran the name through his head, and yep, alright, there were some seriously embarrassing fluttery sensations in response. Maybe it was just the tacking of his surname on the end, the reinforcement of the fact that little person in there was his, but he could barely feel the dislike of the name against the warm that had bloomed inside him once again. … Maybe he'd give 'Dashiel' a little more thought. Maybe.

"So..." Sam began and oh, Dean already did not like the tone of his voice, nor did he appreciate the air of righteousness he could feel beginning to emit from Sam.

"Does this mean you and Castiel are finally gonna get your shit together and, y'know, be together?"

"Sam!" Dean spluttered, reddening instantly at the words, because hell no. They were not having that conversation, they did not talk about that, and kid or no kid, they weren't starting now.

"Oh, come on, Dean" Sam said, rolling his eyes, half bitchfacing at Dean's inability even now to emote "Anyone who's seen you two in the same room over the past what? Three? Four years has been able to see what's between you. I'm pretty sure the only people who haven't figured it out are you two dumbasses."

"Dude. We are not talking about this." Dean said, the lilt of his voice adamant.

"Dean, you have a son together" Sam continued regardless, "You cannot still be that obtuse." Dean punched him hard on the arm, scowling in response to Sam's offended yelp of his name as the goddamn prying bitch glared back at him, rubbing his arm over dramatically. "You are such an asshole, Dean!"

"Yeah, love you too, Sammy" he mocked, turning his attention back to his angel and his son, feeling some kind of pull to them, like looking away for long bursts of time just wasn't an option. He found himself quickly caught up in just watching them again before the distant mumbling of Sam's voice pulled him out of his trance. "What?"

"Keys. Give them to me" Sam was saying, holding out his hand, "I'm gonna go find an open store and pick up some diapers and baby...things for uh, Dashiel." Dean found that his grimace was a little more forced this time. He should be protesting the name but...fuck, it kind of suited the kid. Parenthood was clearly making him soft.

He pulled the keys out of his pocket and tossed them over to Sam with a look that read 'hurt my car and I will end you', receiving an eye roll in return.

"Sammy, you have no idea what you're looking for" he said, compiling a mental list of things they'd need and running over questions like 'what if he doesn't need to eat. Or poop!' because the kid was half angel. Even with his small amount of knowledge about babies, he had no idea where to start for angel-human hybrids. He frowned. Best to be on the safe side and just get everything anyway.

"Just...ask an assistant or something." Sam rolled his eyes again and damn, he was doing that a lot tonight.

"Yes, mom" he drawled, earning him a middle fingered salute from his older brother as he open the car door. "I'll be gone a while. Go talk to Cas." He waited for Dean's nod of compliance before climbing into the car and pulling off, leaving Dean stood outside of the motel room, gathering his thoughts to the sound of his other baby's purr as she drove off. The noise melted into his thoughts, drawing out images of taking Dashiel for his first ride in the Impala, of showing him how to fix her as he got older. Of teaching him how to drive her. He smiled, the increasingly familiar blanket of warmth engulfing him. Yeah, he wanted that. God, more than anything he wanted that.

And it was right there. Sam was right. That future, a house some place- a home- a son, a family, Sammy in school, Cas right there with them, the option to keep hunting at the same time as basking in something somewhat normal. He could have it, all of it. He just had to reach out and ask for it, and goddammit what the hell was he even waiting for? He had to push down his own fears of disappointment, of rejection and just ask. He owed it to all of them to at least try.

Taking one last gulp of the clear, dawn air, he readied himself and pushed open the motel door.

Castiel glanced briefly up at him, sending a still half-unsure smile his way, as though he wasn't quite certain that talking to Sam hadn't changed Dean's mind. Dean returned to expression, face deliberately soft and open to shut up those thoughts Cas was having before he started believing them and shut the door as he stepped into the room. Castiel frowned.

"Where's Sam?" he asked, peering through the window, expecting the younger Winchester to be lurking around somewhere.

"Gone to, uh, pick up some things for the little guy" Dean said absently as he stood in front of Castiel and the baby, looking over at the wall, lips pursed a little in concentration.

"Hey, does he actually need to eat and whatnot?" Dean asked nodding to Dashiel, "I mean, he's, uh, an angel right?" Castiel seemed to consider this for a few moments.

"Yes..." he began tentatively, "But his body is just that. A human body, not a vessel. It will grow, and if my understanding of human biology is correct, he'll need nourishment for that." He paused. "...Though perhaps not as much as his father." Castiel shot Dean a wry little smirk and Dean was helpless to fight off the grin that overwhelmed his face at Castiel's teasing. He looked so...carefree. Just for a moment, he looked content. It was...infectious.

"Very funny, wise guy" Dean huffed, still smiling as he moved to sit next to the angel and their child. He peeked around Castiel's body to get a glimpse of his sleeping son, the relentless glow of adoration gripping him once more. He watched, entranced as Castiel moved a careful finger over his hand, tiny little fingers grabbing out reflexively, wrapping around the offered digit. They both gasped simultaneously and oh god, Dean knew already he was going to be one of those parents who thought the slightest little thing their baby did was the absolute most fantastic thing ever to happen on his earth, but fuck it.

He didn't, couldn't give a damn about that right now because his son was holding onto Castiel, grabby fingers wrapping just as easily around Dean's heart and he knew that they would never let go. He never wanted them to.

He couldn't get rid of the small, lazy smile playing on his lips. Sitting this close to Castiel, this intimately...fuck it felt good. Just the ability to breathe the odd scent of him in, all forest fire and nutmeg, to feel the pleasant hotter-than-human heat he emitted, to be able to shift just a touch and press their knees without consequence. The solid form reminding him that he was here, that Dean wasn't alone and neither was Cas, not now and if Dean had anything to say about it, not ever again.

Castiel whispered something vaguely Enochian sounding into the child's ear. A prayer, a blessing maybe? He closed his eyes, pressing the barest touch of lips to his son's cheek and something caught in Dean's throat. This could be his family.

And alright, Cas had been included in that for years, but they had something that was there's. His. His very own son, his very own family outside of Sam and Bobby but not away from them. And fuck, the thought of it was enough for a sense of ardour to set in because, hell, he could have all of it. And by the way Castiel held their son, the need in his eyes, he wanted it just as fiercely, just as desperately. Dean paused for a few beats, then cleared his throat, preparing to offer the future.

"So...Sam wants to go back to college" he began, the attempt at breaching the subject pathetic even to his own ears, but hey it was a start. Castiel looked at him, remaining silent.

"He...we were thinking about maybe setting up a base. A, uh, a house" he clarified, a little unsteady under the heat of Castiel's eyes, "Slowing down with hunting, taking it easy for a while." He turned to meet Castiel's eyes, not backing down from this. Not now. Not when it was so close.

"It'd be a lot easier to bring up a kid from one location, y'know? None of this travelling around, killing monsters crap, 'cause we all know that's...not a good situation for a baby to be in" he said, voice betraying the slight apprehension he was feeling, still not comfortable with putting himself out there, but throwing caution to the wind because now or never, right?

"You...you could come with. If you wanna." He shrugged, aiming for nonchalance, the stiff posture of his back projecting something else entirely.

"Dean" Cas began, the low curve of his voice at such close proximity drawing a shiver from Dean.

"I have already arranged a kind of...paternity leave, if you will" Castiel ducked his head, ears pinking over just a tad. Dean's eyebrows shot up.

"I wasn't sure what exactly I was planning on doing with it..." he continued, stroking the baby's hand gently with his thumb, "but I knew I could not run heaven and rear a child at the same time. That was the mistake my father made. I would not risk neglecting our son." He brought his eyes back up to Dean's.

"So I arranged for a select few of my brothers and sisters to take over in my place, with the consent of the other garrisons." Dean couldn't help his smirk.

"Like a government?" Castiel huffed a laugh at the query and Dean's heart jumped a little at the unfamiliar sound. Yeah. He could get used to that.

"Yes, I suppose so" he smiled awkwardly, "Heaven has become democratic. Perhaps we did not stop the apocalypse after all." Dean snorted, absurdly proud of the angel. Smiles, laughter and jokes. Fatherhood apparently suited Cas.

"But, I have obtained a...lifetime of leave and...if that is what you are asking..." Castiel stumbled over his words a little, catching Dean's gaze again, "I would like to raise our family with you."

And Dean couldn't help it. Those words, falling from that mouth. Raise our family. After the time they had spent hanging on to their friendship by a thread, the betrayals, the broken trust, the fractured promises. None of it meant anything any more. Because of their son, yes, but because of the truth of Castiel's words.

They held readiness to leave heaven, to leave everything again for Dean, to play the normal father, to live out a life of baseball practice and stupid family arguments about TV of all things and cooking dinner together in some squashed kitchen just this side of a Stepford suburban nightmare. And it was that thought, of Castiel gripping some pot as tightly to him as he held Dashiel, covered in flour and so completely, adorably overwhelmed with the daily task of preparing food that had Dean moving forward before he could even think to reconsider and finally, finally, press his lips against Castiel's.

There was no gasp, no hint of surprise or awkwardness, just the barest brush of slightly chapped lips against his, warm breath ghosting against his mouth as Castiel responded to the sudden kiss with no hint of anything that whispered of his inexperience. It was soft, fleeting and not a little heartbreaking but he'd be damned if it wasn't the best thing he'd ever experienced. The mere touch of curious pink lips against his own slammed into him with some alien flavour of pleasure, of closeness far better than being unclothed and writhing with any other person he'd experienced.

Dean brought his hand up to gently cup the roughness of Castiel's perpetually unshaven cheek and angled his head, careful not to disrupt their son as he coaxed the angel's lips open with an exploratory tongue. He groaned quietly, helpless against the flush spreading over his face as he submitted himself to the sweet, languid kiss, just breathing in Castiel's presence, soaking up every passing heartbeat and losing himself for a second or twenty.

Succumbing to the insistence of his lungs that he needed to breathe without the obstruction of another person's face, he broke their kiss, but couldn't bring himself to break their contact. It was as though he was a man starved, and fuck, maybe he was. Four years of knowing the man, three and half of wanting to do more than stare at him...that tended to take its toll on a person.

He rested his forehead against Castiel's for a moment, eyes closed as he savoured the taste of something elemental and powerful on his lips. Castiel was smiling, he knew, he could feel the shift of his cheeks against his own and he didn't bother fighting of the urge to press another quick kiss to Castiel's lips. Didn't need to. And fuck that felt good.

He pulled away a little more and met Castiel's gentle expression with his own, his attention stolen only when Dashiel made a soft snuffling sound against Castiel's chest. Turning his gaze back to their son, he laced his arm around the angel's back, resting just at the side of them, barely touching, barely anything more than amicable, but the weight of it anchored them both, offering comfort in the fact that they could touch and be touched and it was okay. Now, it was okay.

"Dashiel Winchester" he breathed, wrapping his hand on impulse around the baby's, feeling a pulse of fondness as his fingers brushed against Castiel's as he did so, linking them all together as only the kid could. And for a moment the world narrowed down to the three of them and the future suddenly wasn't tomorrow. It blew wide open in front of him, a hundred thousand different scenarios assaulting his skull, unlimited days laid out in front of him of just this.

The safety of knowing his little brother was alright, was coming home to them any moment now, the security of having Castiel right next to him, for as long as the angel was willing to stay. The impossible, furious bombarding of his emotions at their son, safe and alive and here between them, the quiet puffs of air he let out of his absurdly small nose punctuating every urge in Dean's body to hold and protect.

The future, for once, didn't reek of the stench of endless roads slathered with the juice of unnumbered, anonymous rotting carcasses, it didn't thrum with the unavoidable fear that came with every unturned corner. Endings are, indeed, hard, but for the first time in Dean Winchester's life a chapter closed and it didn't feel remotely like an ending.

Dashiel's body curved in on itself slightly as the baby shuddered, a small exhalation of air the only warning they got before two huge, bleary, blindingly blue eyes peeled open, a sleepy frown fluttering on the baby's forehead. Dean sucked in a breath as he stared down at his child, stomach somersaulting at witnessing him wake for the first time. He felt dangerously close to sobbing out as Dashiel's eyes fell on him, the child gazing up at him in dreamy wonder.

He smiled, eyes brimming with tears as he shuffled closer to Castiel and his son, shuddering as he felt some sort of tingling, of a foreign sense of heat engulf his entire body, something Castiel would later explain to be Dashiel's grace reaching out for his father, instinctively establishing his bond with his parents. But right now, it didn't matter, he tugged back at it greedily with something he didn't even know he could manipulate and leant forward, cautiously pressing his lips against the softness of the baby's forehead.

"Welcome home, sweetheart."

No, this didn't feel like an ending at all. It felt like home.


Dean balanced Dashiel on his hip as he popped the bottle into the warmer to heat up the baby's milk and once it was heating, turned around to check on the pasta he had boiling on the stove in the centre of the half-decorated, bare little kitchen. He stirred the food a few times, making sure it wasn't sticking to the bottom of the pan because that's an annoying problem he'd encountered more than once before and angled Dashiel off to the side and away from the boiling water, bouncing him a little, careful of his mood.

He appeared to be fine right now, if a little grouchy, and Dean counted his blessings but he wasn't stupid, which was why he was carrying Dashiel around the kitchen and not placing him in the perfectly good highchair seated next to the table. The baby had been extremely fussy lately, clinging onto Dean and Castiel constantly and crying a lot more than usual, and if any parent tells you it's hard having to deal with a baby who is teething, yeah, try introducing them to a baby who was growing his wings.

But the poor little guy was in a lot of pain and Dean didn't begrudge him his tears, sprouting two new appendages from your back warranted them, he imagined. It was easier when Castiel was there, working his freaky angel mojo on Dashiel's grace and soothing the baby of his pain, but since Dean was on his own, it was up to him to take his son's mind away from his sore wings. He was absent mindedly humming 'Hey Jude' to himself and the baby as he pottered around the kitchen, making sure everything was cooking all right and would be done at a reasonable time. Dashiel grumbled quietly and rubbed his little fist over his face in discomfort.

"I know, buddy, I know" he murmured soothingly to his son, bringing his other hand around to stroke lightly between his budding wings, "Papa will be home soon, don't worry. You'll be okay, sweetheart."

He rubbed at Dashiel's back, mindful of the growing limbs as the baby pressed his face into Dean's neck, quieting down again. He was always extremely careful of his son's wings, the sight of them constantly sending him into bouts of awe whenever Dash unfurled them on this plane. Castiel had said that while most other humans could not perceive an angel's wings without damaging themselves, the soul link between Dean and their son meant he could both look at and touch them without harm. But Dean didn't really care how he got to see them, he was just thankful that he could, 'cause his kid had the most badass little wings out of any weirdo nephilim hybrids ever to exist and Dean knew all the angel chicks would swoon over him when he got older. Much older. Like thirty.

Castiel said once the wings had grown out a little more, Dashiel would have a hard time keeping them hidden from view, and yeah that might cause some problems for a while, but Cas and Sam were working on a cloaking spell or something like that, and so he wasn't all that worried right now.

He was more concerned with when the little shit would decide he wanted to fly. Ugh, when Dashiel finally came into his powers properly, Dean just knew he'd be a nightmare. The kid definitely took after his Uncle Gabe- who, it was revealed after a particularly...informative conversation, was apparently alive and well, surprise freaking surprise- in the mischief department.

Just then, the kitchen door banged open and in walked a scowling angel of the Lord, carrying a paper bag of groceries. He was wearing one of Dean's old Zeppelin shirts and a pair of dark denim jeans instead of the usual trench and suit number. The outfit change was at Dean's insistence, cause "you can't just go around wearing the same cheap, dirty clothes all the time when you live in one location, Cas. People will think you're a hobo!"

And he stood by that statement. It just happened to work out that Castiel had abstained from buying his own clothes and had instead taken to wearing Dean's. And, while Dean played the grumbly 'I am annoyed about this turn of events' card, the truth was, every time he caught sight of Castiel in one of his shirts or swamped in an old, too-large hoodie, it made him a little weak at the knees and no small amount of tight in the pants. And Castiel knew it.

Letting the swirling feeling in his stomach at how good Castiel right now looked pass, he looked up at his face, arranging his features in question because Cas was clearly pissed and a simple trip to the store didn't come with smiting. Usually.

"I hate the store" Castiel grouched, putting the groceries down, face stormy. "It is too crowded and they pack too many displays into one isle for it to accommodate several people as well as their shopping carts."

"What happened?" Dean asked, removing the pasta from the boil, "Could you grab Dash's bottle from the warmer?" Castiel moved to do so, still huffing.

"I may have backed into a display of tinned beans as I was trying to manoeuvre my cart out of the way of an oncoming shopper" he groused, "And Mrs Bishop yelled at me and made me pick up every last can and place them in the correct order while she just stood their barking orders at me" He levelled Dean with a dark glare.

"She is more tyrannical than Raphael and I wish to smite her."

Dean chuckled, unable to help himself at the seriousness in Castiel's tone, because yeah he'd wanted to smite ol' Mrs Bishop a few times himself too. Cas scowled a little harder.

"It's not funny Dean" he stressed, taking the baby who was holding grabby hands out at him from Dean's arms, visibly relaxing as soon as he had Dashiel next to him, but he was still not quite finished with his rant.

"I tried explaining to her that I needed to get the required ingredients home for the evening meal and that additionally I needed to get back to tend to our child but she just shouted louder about how we 'fancy city folk don't get special treatment'" he complained, one handed air quotes and all.

"And when I told her I wasn't from the city and that it was her incompetence in arranging the store in that manner that had caused the accident in the first place, she struck me around the ear and left." He sounded so offended that Dean had to physically bite his lip to stop himself from laughing again as he drained the pasta.

"Don't worry about it, dude" he said, going to the bag of groceries to pull out the new jar of pesto sauce, "We'll just send Sammy next time. He has a knack for charming the pants off grumpy old women."

Castiel huffed again and began to feed Dashiel his bottle, smiling softy as the baby stared up at him reverently through a pair of eyes as blue as his vessel's, small red lips wrapped around the teat as he drank hungrily.

"You'd never be so rude, would you Dashiel?" he asked his son, placing a gentle kiss to his mop of slightly curled, dark hair. Dean smiled at them and came to stand behind Castiel, wrapping his arms around the angel's waist as he rested his lips against the nape of his neck.

"Nah, Dash knows better than to stack beans in dangerous places, don't you dude?" he teased, grinning into Castiel's flesh as he kissed his neck, lingering for a few minutes before moving his mouth up to his ear.

"His wings have been acting up again. He was trying to stretch them out earlier and I'm pretty sure he pulled something, so he's gonna need some healing" he murmured quietly, "Tired the little guy out too. Gonna put him down for a nap after we eat."

Castiel nodded in compliance and stroked Dashiel's back gently, face pulled a little in sympathy for his son, before touching two careful fingers to the baby's forehead to alleviate his pain. Dean knew that Castiel hated that the angelic part of their son caused him so much discomfort, knew that he half blamed himself for the baby's condition.

And no matter how much Dean tried to reassure him that it wasn't his fault, that their son and his wings were perfect and that it was due to Castiel's angelic nature that meant he could thankfully heal Dashiel's pain anyway, Castiel always dismissed it a few seconds after Dean had finished and went back to his worry and brooding regret. It couldn't be helped, really. After all, Castiel was a Winchester in all but name.

Kissing Castiel's shoulder firmly once more for reassurance, Dean disentangled himself from the angel and moved to mix the sauce into the pasta and, watching the clock, waited half a minute more before bending down to pull the garlic bread out of the oven. Just in time too, if the clash of the front door and the loud galloping sound of oncoming moose were anything to go by.

"Hey, Sammy" he called, drawing his brother's attention to the kitchen and three seconds later, the younger Winchester came in, dumping a heavy backpack on the floor, casually leaning over to kiss his nephew on the back of his head before slumping into a chair, tiredly.

"School okay?" Dean asked, loading up two plates with pasta and bread, keeping a few slices left over for Castiel- he didn't eat often but he found he had a liking for garlic bread and indulged whenever it was available, which of course meant Dean made sure they added it to their weekly shopping list. Sam groaned and leaned on his fist.

"Professor Garland gave us a a crap load of reading to do. I am officially going to have even less of a social life" he grumbled, but when Dean looked at his eye rolling, he could see a slight smile on Sam's face. He knew his little brother loved being back in education.

When they bought the tatty little three bedroom, 'fixer upper' of a house in Vermillion, South Dakota, and Dean had scored a job at a local mechanics', Sam had applied to some local schools and had gotten into the University of South Dakota School of Law and ever since then, he'd enthusiastically thrown himself into his studies, determined to get that degree and Dean couldn't be happier for him.

Not to mention, Dean also had his suspicions that Sam had a little crush on Professor Garland too, the sly dog. He placed a plate of pasta in front of Sam and ruffled his too long hair.

"Quit the bitching, bitch" he smirked, "You'd do anything to get on the Prof's good side and you know it." Dean grabbed his own plate and sat next to Castiel, ignoring Sam's indignant splutters in favour of pulling faces at his son.

"Dean" Castiel chastised, "If you make him laugh when he's feeding, he could choke. Desist." Because evidently Dean wasn't the only over protective parent in the room.

"Don't listen to him, Dash" he cooed to his son, "Daddy wouldn't let you choke." Castiel rolled his eyes and took the bottle from Dashiel's mouth and effortlessly moved him over his shoulder to burp him. Dashiel was seven months old now and in the time he'd been alive, Castiel had become quite the pro at this, even if he couldn't quite master quotidian tasks such as grocery shopping. Or shaving. Or cooking anything that wasn't microwavable- and even then they ran into some issues.

Dean too had taken to fatherhood almost seamlessly. Once they'd settled down the whole thing became a lot easier than he imagined, what with Sam and Cas there to help and Bobby just over an hour away. It was manageable. More than that, it was enjoyable.

The first six months, though, had been somewhat tough, highly strung as though some demonic bastard was waiting to come along, crawling out of the darkness and into their son's bedroom with bilious yellow eyes to snatch him away when Dean wasn't looking. The night of Dashiel's six month birthday, he hadn't let anyone near the baby- not even Sam or Castiel because there were too many risks, too many 'what ifs' and he just couldn't chance taking the time to verify if they were who they said they were, so he sat alone with his son clutched tightly to him in Dashiel's bedroom, the room packed full of devil's traps and salt lines and holy water. Just in case. But the day came and went without incident and Castiel had been there to silently hold Dean after the ordeal, to mend and thread the broken, frayed pieces back into a Dean-shaped whole. He wasn't asked. He didn't need to be.

It got easier after that. Sure, there were various wards and protective magics all over the house and he kept the colt with him at all times, but even now, big hunts were extremely rare and Castiel had put his brothers to work with tracking down the rest of the demons- the ones that hadn't shrunk back down into hell or had been smote or otherwise ganked had gone into hiding and were laying low. Which Dean was grateful for. He was still prepared for the worst, still didn't trust his environment. But right now, he wasn't afraid for his son. And that itself was nothing short of a miracle.

"Oh, uh Bobby called me earlier" Sam said around a mouthful of pasta, "Said there's signs of poltergeist activity in Waterdown at uh, Mellete House?" Dean nodded, not needing any further information, and looked over at Castiel.

"We got anything planned for this weekend" he asked, watching as Castiel cocked his head to the side and furrowed his brow as he thought about it.

"No, I don't believe so" he said, rubbing Dashiel's back gently, "I can take Dashiel to visit Gabriel while you and Sam hunt." Dean made a noise of protest around the bread in his mouth.

"I know you don't like my brother, Dean, but Dashiel loves him" Castiel continued, stopping to praise Dashiel as the baby let out a quiet burp- he'd seen that on television and had picked it up as something that was 'done'.

"His grace feels excitable whenever Gabriel's present. He enjoys playing with him. You know that."

Dean rolled his eyes and waved off the rest of Castiel's argument in favour of munching on his food. They had this discussion every time Gabriel or Balthazar was brought up and Castiel always won. Dean knew that Dashiel would inevitably spend the weekend in the company of the resurrected, evil midget. Didn't mean he had to like it.

Castiel turned Dashiel around and sat him in his lap so Dean could play with him as he ate, relishing in the small, happy little gurgles he drew out from the fledgling as he stuck his tongue out at him. He puffed his cheeks out comically at his son, laughing along as the baby giggled, feeling himself glow all over as Dashiel reached forward simultaneously with his grace and hand, chubby fingers grabbing out around Dean's.

Smiling, he took the little hand in his and jiggled him gently making a silly high pitched noise as he did so and grinned, soaking up the fresh wave of laughter the action achieved. He ducked forward, kissing his son's nose quickly, a tiny hand coming up to push at his face and ain't that something? The kid wasn't even a year old and already hated chick flick moments. Dean was so proud.

He pulled away, snorting to himself as he distantly heard Castiel begin to relate his horrific ordeal at the store to Sam, who was all sympathy and reassuring words as he earnestly promised the angel that he would speak to scary old Mrs Barbara Bishop next time he went to the store about relocating the bean display. Because that, apparently, was the biggest problem for them these days.

He had no idea how this had become his life. But, looking at his baby, his family and the perpetual weirdness of normality all around him, he was damn grateful that it was. He wouldn't change a thing.

A/N: Okay, right now this is a oneshot, but I'm considering writing more of this verse in the domestic setting because I'm kind of in love with the idea of Dean and Cas raising their baby. Sue me. What do you guys think? For all you that aren't familiar with Dashiel, spn fandom on tumblr allocated him as the nephilim offspring of Dean and Cas after we heard about the CW show "Heavenly". It was all crack at the time, but little Dash wormed his way into my heart and I just couldn't not write this fic. Anyway, this takes place after an alternate version of 6.20 where shit didn't get so fucked up and Cas listened to Dean and they stopped Raphael together. Sigh. I wish.

R&R would be greatly appreciated for this one, bros. I have never written kidfic before in my life and I'm pretty nervous about how I faired. Also, this was unbeta'd because I couldn't find one in time, so if you catch any embarrassing mistakes could you let me know?

Thanks guys.