Title: Loving the Fall

Author: MissAnnThropic

Spoilers: sequel to my fic "Leap That Makes the Fall"… you should really read that one first!

LiveJournal: miss_annthropic(dot)livejournal(dot)com

Summary: The Winchesters adjust to life as civilians while Castiel adjusts to being human. Christmas-fic.

Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching DVDs of her favorite shows :(

Author's Note: One of several reasons I am so happy that my original novel is finally published… I can finally get back to fandom guilt-free! I've missed you guys, and I've desperately missed Dean/Cas! A part of me misses the thrill of writing in an all-original universe of my own making, but it's great to get back to my favorite hunter/angel pairing.

So… yeah, a Christmas fic. I'm not really sure how this happened; I'm not the kind of person who writes holiday fic. Not that there's anything wrong with them, it's just never been my thing.

Certain things about a so-called normal life were scarily easy to get used to. One of those things was sleeping in on Saturday mornings. Dean usually made it last as long as possible, forcing the waking world to come in and haul him out by the scruff of his neck. Typically, it was one of two things that finally rousted his ass out of bed; the smell of something tasty cooking downstairs or Cas.

Much as Dean liked a home-cooked meal, his favorite wake-up calls were the Castiel variety.

Dean rolled over in bed, arching his body from head to toe in a gigantic stretch, and flung his hand out to the right side of the bed. He opened his eyes with a scowl when he was met with cold sheets. He didn't even notice Castiel sneaking out while he slept.

A few months ago, not a chance in hell Dean would believe it was possible for anyone but Sam to be quiet enough to sneak out of a room while he slept. Dean marveled that he could be that comfortable in this house… that he could feel that safe with Cas.

Dean looked out the window. Castiel always wanted the curtains drawn back; he liked to see the sky. The panes were framed with snow, almost blending into the steel gray sky beyond. It was the kind of day, back when he was a hunter, when he would really hate that he had to get in the car and drive.

And now he didn't. Sometimes, this civilian gig was pretty sweet.

Dean swung his feet out of bed, went to the attached bath to piss and brush his teeth, then shuffled downstairs in sweat pants, t-shirt, and socks. It was also nice not having to sleep with boots on.

When he came around the corner on the first floor, Christmas smacked him in the face. The Harrison halls were fully decked, and it was so painfully normal that Dean and Sam were kind of having fits about it.

A lush Christmas tree was stuffed in the corner of the living room, wearing enough colored globes and strung with enough lights to feature in a Better Homes and GardensChristmas edition. Zoë always had the lights turned on, so there was always a warm glow coming from the living room. Dean would never admit it, but it was nice.

"Yeah, I got a pen, go ahead, Bobby."

Dean turned at the sound of Sam's voice coming from the kitchen. He followed it and found his brother bent over the kitchen table, his shoulder jamming his cell phone against his ear while he scribbled on a notepad. "Three o'clock, flight 6837. Yeah, no problem. Ah…" Sam stood and took the phone in hand. "I don't know, probably me, I don't have to go in until later in the afternoon." Sam spotted Dean and gave him a slight nod of acknowledgment. "No, Dean doesn't get off until five." Sam laughed. "Yeah, tell me about it." Sam tossed down the pen in his hand. "All right, you bet. See you Wednesday, Bobby."

Sam hung up and slid his phone into his jeans pocket. "Hey," he offered his brother.

"Hey… where's Cas?" Dean meandered toward the coffee pot.

"Went out with Zoë to buy more Christmas decorations."

Dean's eyebrows shot up and looked around the house. It already looked like Saint Nick had waddled in and exploded all over the place with yuletide viscera. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah… so, telling Zoë how Christmas-deprived we were as kids wasn't the best idea I ever had."

Dean pulled a mug from the cupboard and poured himself a cup. "So that was Bobby on the phone?"

"Yeah… just giving me his flight info for Wednesday. You know, I think he's kind of freaking out a little at this 'normal Christmas' thing."

"That makes two of us," Dean grumbled. He turned, hitched his hip against the counter, and took a sip of coffee. Sam was nodding absently, by all outward appearances nonchalant, but Dean could read Sam like a 'See Spot Run' book. He'd been sort of out of whack for about a week, but only when he thought no one was watching.

And granted, Dean had been kind of settling into this Christmas thing like a psych patient at a cocktail party, but it wasn't really discomfort that kept stealing over Sam's face. It was more like nerves. It set off alarms from the old days, making a deeply-ingrained part of Dean tense.

Before Dean could call him out on it, they heard Zoë's car pull up in the drive. Sam's preoccupied look shifted to blossoming happiness. Dean smiled to himself. While he'd had some serious reservations about moving in with Zoë Harrison when Sam pitched it, so far it had worked out really well. And Sam was totally gone for the girl.

Of course, he would be. It was ordained by God and whatnot.

"They probably need help carrying in the bags," Sam commented.

"God, I hope not, surely they didn't buy thatmany decorations," Dean grumbled, but he set his cup down and pushed off the counter all the same. Zoë was apparently making up for every shitty Christmas Sam and Dean had ever had.

When the front door opened, the first one through the threshold was Cas. Dressed in jeans and huddled in a blue nylon jacket, he marched into the house with his shoulders hunched and hands stuffed in his pockets. He glanced up, took one look at Dean across the room, and strode over to him.

"Heya, Cas," Dean greeted before he let out a startled "umf!" when Castiel didn't stop speed-walking until his body met Dean's. Without taking his hands from his pockets, Castiel pressed himself against Dean and buried his face against Dean's neck. Dean brought up his arms out of reflex and wrapped them around Cas.

"I hate the cold," Cas grouched, burrowing closer to Dean for his body heat.

Dean chuckled and held Cas tighter. Snow was melting in Castiel's dark hair, and Dean could feel his frame shaking within the fleece-lined jacket. Dean hugged Castiel harder, and Cas nuzzled Dean's neck with a bitterly cold nose.

"I know you do," Dean said softly, rubbing his hands up and down Castiel's back. "You and I might just have to move south."

Sam drew up short and shot a quick look at Dean. It was the first time he'd ever said anything like that. Like Dean and Cas might leave the Harrison Ohio home where the four of them had found a strange-yet-normal life.

Just then, Zoë came through the front door with sacks in hand, face wind-kissed and pink from the cold, but she beamed when Sam moved toward her. "Hey! Could you get the wreath in the backseat? It was too big for me to carry in."

Sam's jaw dropped open before he could recover. "Yeah, sure." He scurried out into the slow-falling snow to fetch this apparently monster-wreath.

Zoë dropped her bags on the couch and looked over at Cas and Dean. She gave Castiel's miserable position a sympathetic look. "I've never met anyone who reacted to cold weather thatbadly."

'Yeah, well, you've never met anyone who used to burn like a fucking sun,' Dean thought as he ran a hand through Castiel's wet hair. "Yeah… he's a giant baby."

Cas made a disgruntled noise and pulled back. Lest Castiel think Dean was being an ass (jokes still sometimes eluded him), Dean prevented Castiel's escape with a hand on the back of his neck and swooped in to give him a quick kiss. It worked. It always did. The tension and glower melted off the former angel and he was all soft eyes and almost-smile.

"So... did you guys leave anything Christmasy at the store?" Dean asked.

"There were several canine costumes fashioned for the holiday that we didn't purchase," Castiel answered. Then he smirked.

One of the best things about Castiel falling was his burgeoning sense of humor.

"Although," Zoë chimed in cheekily, "he did give this one leash the eye."

"Kinky, Cas," Dean teased.

Then Sam was wrestling through the door the biggest damn wreath Dean had ever seen. It looked like the thing was trying to eat his little brother.

Dean leapt forward to rescue him. Cas helped Zoë unload the bags and scatter the red and green accents all over the house (which was already predominantly red and green, thank you very much).

Yeah… Christmas for the Winchesters, for once, was looking pretty Norman Rockwell.

And surprisingly… Dean was okay with that.

To Be Continued…