Summary: Dean and his son Ben move to California to be closer to Sam. One day at the local park, Ben meets a delightfully odd little girl called Claire, and Dean meets her attractive, also single father.
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, Sam/Jess [background]
Word count: 7,069
Author's note: This took me forever to write, and is in Ben's perspective, so no adult fun-times between Cas and Dean. But watch this space, I'll add 'extra scenes' at a later date...
Ben sat on the steps of the slide, glancing over to his dad sat on a bench a few metres away watching him, struggling with his inner turmoil. Picking up and leaving everything behind to move to California was a risky choice, but Ben was handling it like a pro. He'd already had his mother walk out on him, and having his maternal grandparents in the same room as his father was always a tense situation; so moving to California to be closer to his Uncle Sam wasn't too big of a deal. It made his dad happy so... Why not. He loved his dad. His dad treated him like an adult. He never lied or hid anything, he was always straight with him, and he appreciated not being treated like a five-year-old. When his mother had left, he'd been told outright that she was having problems and needed to be alone. When he asked why his grandparents hated his dad, he was told his father was gay, and his grandparents were not okay with that. Ben had scoffed and requested they don't see each other any more. He could swear his dad had teared up when he said that; to Ben it wasn't a big deal. Choose his devoted father who would stop at nothing to make him happy, or his spiteful grandparents who hated his father for something stupid like liking men.
His contemplation of life was brought to an end when a small girl cleared her throat in front of him. She was small, and blonde, and wearing a green dress, and smiling politely.
"Excuse me, may I get past?"
Ben smiled and jumped down; "yeah, sorry."
"That's okay. I'm Claire."
"Pleased to meet you Ben."
She held out her small hand, which Ben shook, before climbing up the steps. Ben smiled crookedly, delighted by the girls bizarre behaviour. It was a good bizarre; she was forward but polite. She slid down the slide and skipped back over to him.
"Are you going to slide too?"
Ben scuffed his shoes in the wood-chippings; "yeah... I'm just... Thinking."
"Father says thinking is good for the soul. What were you thinking about?"
Ben shrugged, beginning to climb the steps; "just everything... My dad mainly."
"Is he here?"
Claire climbed up the steps too, squeezing next to him at the top of the slide. Ben nodded, pointing to his dad sat on the bench, pausing to wonder when the trench-coat-wearing man had sat next to him. Claire grinned.
"That's my father next to him."
To prove it, she waved wildly, giggling when the man waved back. Ben nodded and quickly pushed himself down the slide, waiting for Claire at the bottom.
"So, you live around here?"
"Just down the road. Father brings me here every day to burn off extra energy before piano lessons."
"You play piano? How old are you?"
"Eight. He thinks I should have a creative outlet. Something other than school to focus on. I like piano. Do you play anything?"
Ben shrugged, casually walking back around to the steps; "my dad's taught me a bit of guitar, but he doesn't know much himself but... It's cool. We kind of learn together, y'know?"
"It sounds lovely... Do you live nearby?"
"Um... Just a few roads down, I think. Just me and my dad, moved here recently, because my uncle lives round here somewhere."
Claire smiled broadly; "where did you used to live?"
"That's far away... Where's your mother?"
Ben frowned, shrugging; "I don't know. She left last year, didn't say where..."
"Oh I'm sorry... My mother died when I was born. It's always just been me and father."
"Wow, jeez, I'm sorry."
"It's okay... You can't really miss someone you never knew. Though I've been told she was wonderful."
"Well sure. No one's going to tell you your dead mom was an evil witch."
Claire paused, before smiling up at Ben; "I suppose that's true. What about your mother?"
"What about her? She was a good mom, a little troubled but... I don't know... I still love her. I just don't get how a mom can just walk out on her kid like she did..."
"Everything happens for a reason, Ben. She had her reasons. Hopefully what she did was for the best... So far it's led you here. You've met me..."
Ben smiled; "you're really smart for an eight-year-old."
"I get it from my father, he's very wise."
He motioned to the steps, offering to let her go first. Smiling back at him again, Claire reached out to grab the ladder's railing before she was shoved out of the way by a larger boy.
Ben held Claire's arm to check she was unharmed before rounding on the boy; "what do you think you're doing?! She was there first!"
The boy jumped down from the steps, folding his arms across his chest in a menacing manner; "I wanted to go on the slide! So I'm going on the slide!"
"No, she is! Don't you have any manners?!"
"I've got fists."
"So have I! Let Claire go on the slide!"
The boy laughed; "aww, or is your wickle girlfriend gonna cry?! Boo hoo! I'm going on the slide, loser, and you can't stop me!"
Ben remembered what his dad had told him about not starting fights for no reason, and promptly ignored it as he grabbed the back of the boy's collar as he started up the steps and yanked him back down, throwing him on to his back.
"Think again, jerk! Claire's going on the slide, and there's nothing YOU can do to stop her!"
Claire frowned; "Ben it's okay... I can just go on the swings."
"You want to go on the slide, so go on the slide. You're not being bullied by some big idiot."
The boy pulled himself to his feet, shoving Ben hard enough to send him stumbling backwards; "you little punk! You could have cracked my head open!"
"It's highly unlikely that would happen on wood-chippings. Concrete maybe, but-"
Claire was cut off by another hard shove.
"Shut up! I wasn't talking to you!"
Ben growled, throwing himself at the boy, pushing him as hard as he could; "what is wrong with you?! She's a girl, you jerk!"
He quickly chanced a look at Claire to check she was okay, noticing their father's rushing over. He was caught off guard, his leg was kicked sharply. It caved underneath his weight, sending him to the floor.
The boy looked up, his face dropping when he saw Ben's very big, and very angry dad storming towards him; he couldn't have ran away faster. Ben's shoulder was grabbed and he was yanked up from the floor.
"Ben! Dude! What happened?!"
Ben shrugged, brushing wood-chippings from his clothes; "s'all right... He was being a jerk to Claire, so... I told him to stop."
"And then tried to make him?"
"She's a girl, dad. He just shoved her to the floor!"
Dean smiled; "good kid..."
They both looked over to where Claire's father was kneeling next to her, helping her pull wood-chipping out of her hair as she told him what happened.
"Ben stood up for me, he was very brave."
The man smiled; "he was, I saw. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, just a tiny graze on my elbow. We should invite them around for tea! As a thank you!"
"That's a brilliant idea..."
Claire grinned and twirled around before turning to Ben; "would you like to come to our house for tea?
Ben looked up at his dad who shrugged. Claire's father stood upright and smiled at Dean.
"It would mean the world to her if her saviour could join us for dinner, surely you agree, Dean."
Ben's dad laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his neck - Ben smirked to himself, knowing his dad's ticks and habits; "yeah, sure... Why not. Right, Ben? You don't mind."
Ben shrugged; "sure, why not."
Claire's dad grinned; "brilliant. We should trade cell-numbers, Dean, so I may text you the details."
Dean paused; "hmm? Oh, yeah... Sure. Um..."
The last time Ben's dad had been this nervous around someone, they stayed over an awful lot. Ben was even told to call him 'Uncle Mikey', which he found a little creepy. Michael was under the illusion Ben didn't know about his dad's orientation and tried to pretend he was just a friend. Ben didn't like him; so Dean broke things off. But Claire's dad seemed nice, and Claire was nice... And his dad definitely deserved someone.
"Well, Claire has a piano lesson. It was nice meeting you Dean, and you, Ben."
Ben smiled and waved at Claire and her father, his dad awkwardly giving a quick hand gesture before they walked off. Ben watched his dad stare at Claire's father before coughing awkwardly and looking down at Ben.
Dean scowled; "don't start, kid."
"You know I'm going to tell Uncle Sam."
"Yeah, well, I've got plenty of dirt on you too... So, come on... Let's go home."
Sam and Dean returned from Sam's kitchen, carrying plates of food, setting them down in front of everyone before sitting themselves down. Jess - Sam's girlfriend - smiled and gave Sam a quick kiss on the cheek. Sam grinned over at Ben, picking up his fork.
"So Ben. Your dad tells me you met a girl in the park yesterday."
Ben would usually glare, but instead grinned back; "yeah, and he met her dad!"
Sam barked out a laugh; "oh really?! Dean, you left that out!"
"What's to tell?"
"How you made eyes at him the whole time?" Ben chuckled, twirling spaghetti round his fork. Sam laughed again.
"What do you know, you're ten!"
"I'm not an idiot, dad!"
"Well, you're wrong!"
Ben shrugged; "doesn't seem like it to me."
Dean ignored his son's muttering and changed the conversation. Halfway through dinner his phone vibrated on the table next to him. He apologised and quickly checked who it was from, an unmistakable grin on his face.
"Bet it's that guy!" Ben mouthed to Sam, covering one side of his face so his dad couldn't see. Sam grinned and nodded.
"Who is it?"
Dean's head shot up, his face flushing pink; "um, the dude from the park... We arranged for Ben to go around for dinner."
"He invited us, dad. Not just me."
Dean scowled; "you're really not going to let this go, are you?"
"Nope. Just admit you like him."
"I barely know him! We had a ten minute conversation and... You know, I'm so not getting in to a conversation about my love life with my ten-year-old!"
Sam chuckled; "you know I'll just be grilling you about it later."
"I hate you all."
Ben groaned; "dad-"
"-C'mon, Ben! You're supposed to be on my side!"
"I am on your side! You should ask him out."
Dean let out a long sigh, rubbing his forehead; "kid, when you're older I'll tell you a few things about how dating works. But until then, trust me when I say, nothing good will come from me asking Cas out."
Sam snorted; "Cas, huh?"
"Oh... All of you, shut up. Can I finish my dinner in peace? Please!?"
Ben and Sam shared a concerned look but said nothing more.
Ben lay on the floor next to Claire, playing checkers. Castiel - Claire's father - had cooked an amazing, if healthy lasagne and the four of them were winding down in the living room before dessert; apple pie, which Dean had almost screamed over. Ben lazily moved his pieces, listening in on his father's conversation; Claire was happy dazing about in her own world.
"Well, Ben's mom was never really in the picture... If you get me... I was... I was more of a sperm donor?"
"...I'm not entirely following."
"I'm... Well, I'm gay... So the whole apple pie life didn't exactly... Fit."
"Oh... But you had a child?"
"I was a late bloomer."
Castiel chuckled; "understandable..."
"I wouldn't change anything, though. Ben's my world, and I love Lisa, just... Not that way."
"You're lucky to have your family. It's just myself and Claire..."
Castiel chuckled humourlessly and refilled his wine glass; "Amelia and I... We were betrothed, in a way... It was always agreed upon that we'd get married and produce children, and well... It's never that easy. I'm lucky it was Amelia though. She was... An angel, for lack of a better word.
"She uh... Caught me, one day. With another man..."
Ben noticed his dad's eyes widen in hope and chuckled to himself.
"But she... She was very understanding. She had been forced in to the arrangement too. She wanted to get away and become a painter - something her parents discouraged. So we agreed we'd get married for appearances and move out here on our own."
Dean shook his head, realising he was confused; "wait... You're gay? But you have a daughter with a woman who knew you're gay?"
Cas chuckled again; "it was one time. It was our virginity, and it was our wedding night."
Dean whistled; "wow. Really only takes one time, huh?"
"Indeed. Anyway, we planned to move out to California and go our own ways, so to speak, but we were found out... We were both disowned and sent on our way. Luckily we'd emptied our trust funds beforehand and we just left. Came here. Bought this house... Found out she was pregnant."
"I know. It wasn't ideal... But like you, I wouldn't change a thing... Does... Does Ben know? About..."
Dean smiled and motioned for Castiel to pass over the wine; "yeah. I'm always upfront with that kid. No point in lying... The little shit tries to pick out guys for me."
Castiel laughed as he refilled Dean's glass; "how does that work out?"
"Well, I've been single for... A year? How do you think it works out?"
"Oh dear, well... I haven't been on a date myself in years... Three years ago. Yes. Because Claire was at her first sleepover. It didn't go past dinner."
Dean cringed; "ooh, ouch."
Cas smiled; "it's fine. It didn't work out because of Claire. Having a child is a deal-breaker."
"Oh God tell me about it!"
Ben snapped out of his daze and looked down at the checkers board. Claire was grinning at him, all of his pieces in her hands. Luckily he didn't have too much pride, and wasn't annoyed to have lost. To a girl.
"Well... Checkers is easy. You know how to play chess?"
"I'm not very good... I can get father to help me?"
Ben grinned; "that's not fair. I bet he's really good at it!"
Claire giggled; "daddy! Would you like to play chess with us?"
Castiel smiled; "it's not a three-player game, sweetheart."
"I know that! You can be on my team."
"Two against one? That doesn't seem fair."
"Ben can get his dad to be on his team!"
"How about it, Dean? Fancy a game of chess?"
Dean smirked; "why not."
"How about after dessert? Personally, I'm ready for some apple pie."
"Oh man, count me in!"
Castiel stood up, sweeping Claire up in to his arms and carrying her to the kitchen, Dean and Ben following behind. Ben gave Dean a quick friendly punch in the side, grinning up at him. Dean rolled his eyes in response, ruffling his hair so it fell in to his eyes.
Ben was sat on the sofa watching cartoons whilst Dean made them dinner in the kitchen when the phone rang.
"Ben! Get the phone!"
Grumbling to himself, Ben dragged himself away from the TV, raising the phone to his ear.
"Benjamin! My favourite nephew!"
Ben chuckled; "hey Uncle Sammy."
"Touché, kid. Where's your dad?"
"Oh all right... Hey, you went on that date the other day, right?"
Ben chuckled, taking the phone on to the stairs where his father wouldn't overhear; "dad was just... Pathetic. He did all the things you told me to look out for."
"Yeah? Staring? Touching?"
"He did that laugh he does!"
Sam laughed; "oh wow. So he really likes this Cas guy, then?"
Ben shrugged; "well, he is pretty cool. He cooked apple pie-"
"-How did Dean not just propose then and there?!"
Ben chuckled; "I think he was close..."
"So, are you planning on hanging out with his daughter more?"
"I'm going to have to, aren't I? Good job she's cool too."
Sam laughed again; "has another Winchester got himself a little crush?"
"Everyone knows about your crush on Jess, Sam."
"Just like your dad. Anyway, put him on, I want to laugh at him."
Ben smirked and turned away from the phone; "dad! Your sister's on the phone!"
He could hear Sam grumble down the phone about Ben being just like his father, and his dad laughing in the kitchen. Ben collapsed down on the sofa again, hearing his dad call his brother names in response to the teasing he was getting. He chuckled to himself and went to grab the TV remote when Dean's phone vibrated on the coffee table in front of him; he'd obviously left it there when he went to talk to Sam. Ben grinned and grabbed the phone, keying in the passcode and went to the texts. The new message was from Cas. He knew he shouldn't, but he couldn't help being curious; he scrolled to the top of the message page, reading what his dad was saying to his new friend.
"Thanks for dinner last night, Cas. It was awesome, especially the pie!"
"You're very welcome, Dean. It's nice to see our children getting on."
"Yeah, Ben needs a friend here, being new and all..."
"What about you? Don't you need friends?"
"Well, I was hoping I could count you as a friend?"
"Of course! Claire often expresses how I need friends."
"So your kid meddles in your affairs too?"
"I wouldn't call it meddling, she's concerned for me. She asked if she could see Ben again so they could arrange a play-date for you and me."
"They want us to go on a play-date?!"
"It seems so."
"My little brat keeps trying to organise outings with you two, I had no idea he had ulterior motives!"
Ben laughed, his dad definitely knew how to play it cool.
"I had no idea children could be so sneaky."
"Should we humour them?"
"We can certainly discuss it. We go to the park every day at four."
"We might just happen to be there tomorrow."
"Well we look forward to it."
Ben grinned, immediately planning how to speed things along; his first idea was Uncle Sam. Diving from the sofa, he ran to the stairs; Dean eyed him suspiciously.
"Hang on; what is it, Ben?"
"Can I talk to Sam?"
"I've just remembered something I've got to tell him."
"...Fine. But it had better not be about last night! Stop reporting back to him," Dean put the phone back to his ear; "I've got to finish dinner, squirt wants to talk to you."
He pushed the phone in to Ben's hand and ruffled his hair before marching back off to the kitchen.
"So what's the news, Ben?" Sam laughed.
"Dad's been texting Cas. A lot."
"Oh yeah? Saying what?"
"Basically that dinner was fun and talking about how me and Claire are trying to get them together."
Sam barked out a laugh down the phone; "so they know and they're still talking!"
"We're going to meet them at the park tomorrow."
"Oh brilliant! You and Claire are going to conspire, right?"
"I'm so glad he moved to Cali! I knew he'd meet the man of his dreams here."
Ben laughed; "no you didn't!"
"Well I met the girl of my dreams here! You're next, Benny!"
"Don't call me that!"
"Anyway, I'll let you go bug your dad about his boyfriend. Later dude."
The next day at the park, Ben and Claire instantly ran over to the jungle-gym to talk, leaving their fathers to talk.
"Daddy was talking to Uncle Inias last night - he's not really my uncle, he's dad's cousin, but I call him Uncle. He's the only family who'll talk to dad... Anyway, he was telling him how he likes your father. He said: 'there's definitely something there', and that your dad's very charming and good looking...
"Wouldn't it be marvellous if they got married? It would make them so happy."
Ben nodded; "we just need to get them together... What can we do?"
"Daddy likes painting. He says it reminds him of mother... We could ask if each other could go to the other's house... I think my dad quite likes cooking for yours."
"Yeah, my dad loves your dad's food. Especially the pie."
They both looked around for their parents. They'd moved over to a picnic table where they sat opposite each other; Dean was talking animatedly about something as Castiel watched fondly. Ben suddenly noticed their feet were touching under the table.
"I know!" Claire suddenly sang, climbing down from her perch. She began skipping over to their fathers; Ben scrambled after her.
Castiel smiled; "yes, my angel?"
"Can Ben come over? We want to bake some pie!"
Dean eyed his son suspiciously, Ben shrugged innocently.
"You have piano practise."
"I'm sure Ben and his dad have things to be doing."
Dean coughed awkwardly; "yeah, sorry Claire, Ben and I still have some unpacking to do."
"They can help!" Ben grinned. Claire grinned up at Cas.
"Yes! Please daddy!"
Castiel sighed, it was obvious he had a hard time saying no to his daughter; "it's not up to me."
Ben smirked; "come on, dad!"
Dean scowled at his son; "fine. I can't see it being very fun, though."
"I'm sure we'll be fine, Dean. I decorated our house all by myself."
Claire nodded energetically; "he did! I helped with my room though!"
"Well, I guess I could use your expertise, then," Dean smirked. Cas smiled back affectionately.
"It'd be my pleasure."
"Will you be wanting feeding? I can pick something up on the way home..."
Ben suddenly hopped up and down; "we can make our own pizza!"
"Yes! That sounds fun!" Claire chipped in. Castiel chuckled.
Claire suddenly grabbed Ben's hand and began pulling him over to the swing-set, chirping something about Ben pushing. Ben looked back to see the two men fall back in to conversation.
After their time at the park, Ben and Dean went straight to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy food and things for the house. Ben was sent up to his room whilst his dad tidied, so it wasn't a complete mess for when Cas came around. When Claire and Castiel did arrive, Dean began to get strangely nervous.
"Claire and I can unpack the rest of the clothes!" Ben offered, before dragging her over to the stairs. Dean and Cas stayed in the living room, shifting furniture and talking. Ben and Claire could hear them perfectly.
"You do know what they're up to, right?" Dean asked.
"Yes, but I don't find myself minding."
"I find myself enjoying your company, Dean. And it's a bonus our children are getting along."
"...Yeah, I suppose."
"It um... Would be nice to spend time in each other's company not under the pretence of our children's friendship."
Ben and Claire grinned, giving each other a high-five.
"Yeah... That would be... Awesome... What do you have in mind?"
"Well, what are the chances of us getting a free evening?"
"I can get my brother to babysit!"
"He wouldn't mind?"
"Are you kidding me? He'd look after them for a week if it meant me getting-... Uh..."
Castiel laughed; "well... We'll see, shall we?"
"Um... Yeah. Yeah..."
Ben nudged Claire; "did you hear that? They're planning on going out!"
Claire smiled; "that's good, right?"
"Good, I wish daddy could be happy."
"Yeah, my dad needs someone. I think your dad would be good for him."
"You know, that would mean we'd be brother and sister."
Ben nodded, piling clothes on to the step behind him; "you'd make a pretty cool little sister."
Claire beamed; "I've always wanted a big brother. One who'd protect me from bullies and hug me when I'm sad."
"I could do that."
"We should tell our fathers, that way they have to get married."
"Um... Maybe another day."
The small girl nodded and returned to her task of unpacking the box in front of her. By dinner time, they'd emptied nearly all of the boxes, and the adults had arranged the furniture in the living room, and they all found themselves in the kitchen decorating their pizzas. Claire made a smiley face out of her toppings, using red peppers for the mouth and extra cheese for the hair. Ben just tried to fit as many toppings on his pizza as possible, as did Dean. Cas topped his very modestly with a small amount of cheese and some vegetables. Until Dean began wrestling with him to put more things on. Ben grinned, watching his dad wrap his arms around Castiel and squeeze him under the pretence "play fighting". It was even better when Cas did it back. In the end, it resulted with Cas' pizza toppings spelling out his name and Dean having a tomato-sauce hand-print on his shoulder. Claire was happy and oblivious in her own little world, setting the table.
Castiel chuckled, cleaning his hand under the tap as Dean wiped his shoulder clean; "I apologise, Dean. I didn't mean to make such a mess."
Dean grinned; "no worries, it takes two to get tomato sauce everywhere... Besides, haven't had a good wrestle in a long time; it's pretty one-sided between me and Ben, and Sammy's too 'mature' to sink to my level."
Cas smirked; "I wouldn't object to wrestling with you in the future."
Dean's face lit up; "is that so?"
"You'd have to persuade me, but most definitely. But I'm telling you now, I don't go down too easy."
"I think I could manage it..."
Both men smirked at each other; Ben looked between them, suspicious that they didn't mean what they were saying.
The following Sunday, Sam and Jess came over for dinner; Jess helped Dean in the kitchen whilst Sam sat with Ben in his room playing video games, discussing Dean's love life.
"So they were hinting pretty heavily at going out some time?"
Ben nodded, furiously mashing his controller; "they said they'd talk about it if they could get a babysitter... You need to babysit me and Claire one night."
"They were talking about having a wrestling match at some point, but the way they said it... I don't think they were talking about actual wrestling..."
Sam began choking on his own spit, Ben looked up at him confoundedly.
"Um... Has your dad talked to you about uh... Sex?"
Ben grimaced; "oh, ew."
"Yeah, that's what they were talking about... I suppose it's a kind of wrestling..."
"No, Sam. Please stop.
Sam laughed, ruffling his nephew's hair. They sat and discussed how Dean texted Cas nearly all the time, and how the two families spent a lot of time together, either at the park or at either of their houses for dinner.
"Your dad sure works fast," Sam laughed; Ben nodded.
"Well it's about time he settled down! And I think he really likes Cas; probably because Cas isn't a total creep."
Sam laughed even harder; "what?!"
"His last boyfriend - Michael - was so creepy! You ever meet him?"
"So what about you, do you like Cas?"
Ben shrugged; "he's pretty cool. He's got a load of books on space and stuff, he said he might take us star-gazing one night."
"Awesome. And... Claire?"
"She's cool. She loves dad; she found his box of weights and they started lifting them together... It's like we're a proper family."
Sam's face melted in to a full smile; "that's awesome, kid... When shall I babysit you all?"
Ben grinned; "ask dad."
After a few more games, they were called down to dinner; Sam tried his best to not talk about Cas. Dean eventually brought him up.
"Hey Sam; you don't mind babysitting, do you?"
Sam smirked, sharing a knowing look with Ben; "sure. You planning a night out?"
"Um... Cas and I were planning a night off..."
"But what about his kid?"
"You uh... Don't mind looking after Claire too, do you? She's a sweetheart, she won't be any trouble!"
"Well, Dean... I'll have to think about it..."
Dean scowled; "come on, Sammy!"
"You and Cas... Would this be a date?"
"What?! I don't know! Maybe!"
"Just saying, I'm not babysitting Cas' kid if you two don't sort out your U.S.T."
Ben looked up; "U.S.T.?"
"Ignore your Uncle Sam, he needs a good slap round the face," Dean glared.
"Are you sure you want me to babysit?"
Dean groaned, rubbing his forehead; "fine, just please, Sam... Do this one thing?"
Sam laughed; "of course! I wouldn't say no to helping you get a half-decent, not creepy boyfriend!"
"Not creepy...? You told him about Michael?"
Ben shrugged; "it's not my fault he was such a freak!"
"Well, he's history!"
"I like Cas, though."
Dean scowled; "yeah, I got the message, stop trying to set us up."
"Go out with him, then!"
Dean and Castiel continued to see each other, disguising their meetings as play-dates for Ben and Claire. Ben didn't mind all too much, but Claire seemed to have forgotten the plan to get their dads together in favour of playing with either Ben or Dean.
The first time Ben discovered what Cas did for a living was when he came around to ask Dean if he could look after Claire because he had to go and meet with his author - Dean quickly explained Cas was a book editor. Claire stayed for lunch and Dean made them sandwiches, cutting the crust off Claire's. Dean also had a work-out routine he ran through at two in the afternoon, and Claire was delighted to help. She giggled as she clung to Dean's legs as he did his pull-ups; she timed him as he did his stretches, boasting she was very good at telling the time; she sat on his feet as he did his sit-ups, bursting in to giggles as he tickled her on his way up. Castiel returned for Claire during Dean's final exercise; fifty push-ups. Claire was sat on his back, adding extra weight and counting proudly. Ben silently showed Castiel through to the garden where the pair were working out. Cas' eyes instantly fixed on Dean, watching his muscles flex as he pushed himself, drawn in by the way the California sun glistened in the beads of sweat gathering on his skin. Ben smirked.
"Forty-seven! … Forty-eight! … Forty-nine! … Fifty! Daddy!"
Dean looked up, finally noticing Cas; his arms buckled underneath him, sending him and Claire to the floor. Claire began giggling and jumped on Dean's chest.
"What's next, Dean?! I want to help more!"
Castiel watched them with a fond smile on his face as Dean propped himself up on his elbows and pushed Claire's messy, blonde hair from her face.
"That's it, Claire-Bear, all done for today."
"Aww, can I help tomorrow?"
"If you're here tomorrow you certainly can."
She jumped off Dean and ran in to Cas' open arms, babbling about all the fun she'd had. Dean smirked and pulled himself to his feet, noticing Ben was stood idle.
"Hey Ben, go get me a clean shirt, will you? And my spray."
Ben nodded and ran up the stairs, by-passing his dad's room and running to his, jumping on the bed and pressing his face to the window which overlooked the garden. Dean had just taken his sweat-soaked shirt off and was wiping his face dry; Castiel was no longer looking at Claire as she told him all her stories, and was instead staring wantonly at Dean.
"Claire, go find Ben," Ben heard Cas say. Claire disappeared in to the house and her father took a few steps closer to Ben's.
"Thank you for looking after her today."
Dean smiled, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck; "no problem, Cas."
"She's very enamoured with you."
"Yeah? Well... She's great... You've got yourself a good kid there..."
"Um... My brother said he could babysit, so..."
Castiel took Dean's shirt and began mopping his chest; "yeah? Any um... Plans?"
"Well, not as such... Anything you want to do..."
"Okay. I'll get back to you."
They both stared, shuffling as if they wanted to take a step closer to each other. Dean reached out for his shirt, his fingers accidentally locking with Cas', and neither made a move to pull away. Ben could swear their faces were inching just that little bit closer when he heard loud footsteps behind him.
"There you are!"
Ben forced a smile and turned to face Claire; "hey."
"I think your dad still wants a t-shirt to wear."
He quickly ran to Dean's room, grabbing a clean shirt from the wardrobe and deodorant, handing them to Claire. She grinned up at him widely and ran out; Ben ran back to his room, pressing his nose against the window again. Castiel had moved closer to Dean, tracing a finger up Dean's left biceps; Dean didn't appear to have noticed, however, too busy staring in to the other man's eyes. Cas cocked his head to the side, inadvertently moving it closer to Dean's; Dean got the message and seemed to be leaning in when Claire ran back out in to the garden, holding up the shirt and spray. Ben silently cursed to himself and climbed down from his bed, quickly running back down to the garden.
"Where's Ben gotten to, anyway?" Dean asked, pulling the shirt over his head. Ben smiled meekly.
"Oh. Thought you'd gotten lost... You kids fancy going to the park before Claire has to go for piano practise?"
Ben shrugged, noticing the way Castiel was trying his best to not look at his dad.
Ben could hardly contain his excitement. Sam was coming over to babysit, which meant Dean was going on a date with Cas, which meant by the end of the night they'd probably be boyfriends. Which was definitely a good thing. As it neared eight o'clock, Ben let himself in to his dad's bedroom watching him get ready, a huge grin on his face.
"Where are you and Cas going?"
Dean shrugged; "think we're just going to the cinema or something..."
"Do you need a tie for the cinema?"
Dean looked down at the black tie knotted around his neck and yanked it undone; "you're right, best to be casual, right? I mean, we're just going out for a burger and movie, so... But what if he's wearing a tie?!"
Ben laughed; "dad, it's just Cas."
"No, it's not 'just Cas', this is 'Cas'!"
"But he already likes you... I thought you took people on dates to get them to like you..."
Dean smirked; "I still want to impress him, kid."
"I think you already impressed him with your push-ups."
There was a loud snort from the doorway; "you did push-ups in front of him?!"
They both looked over and saw Sam leaning on the door-frame, a large grin on his face. Dean rolled his eyes.
"I was working out, Cas just... Turned up."
"And couldn't keep his eyes off him!" Ben supplied.
"What have I told you about reporting back to Sam?!"
"Dude, were you going to wear a tie?! To the movies?!" Sam laughed, wandering in to the room.
"Shut up! It's been a long time since I went on a date. And I want to impress Cas."
Sam quickly looked over Dean and grinned; "wear your black shirt, the one that hugs your body and makes women cry when they find out you're gay... I bet Cas won't even realise he's supposed to be watching the film."
"This isn't some quick hook-up, Sam! This thing with Cas is serious!"
"Yeah, I know! But if you got it, flaunt it! Cas is serious about this 'thing' too, doesn't mean he can't want the night to end in either his or your bed..."
Dean scowled; "Sam. Ten-year-old. Right next to you."
Sam looked down at Ben; "right... Better go to his then."
"Jeez, Dean, chill out! Anyway, get a move on, he should be here soon."
Sam and Ben wandered out of Dean's room, leaving him to get changed and made themselves at home on the sofa, watching TV. Castiel turned up at eight on the dot with Claire right behind him, a yellow back-pack slung over her shoulder. Sam virtually launched himself at Cas, grabbing his hand and shaking it vigorously.
"Nice to meet you finally, Cas, I'm Sam. I've heard so much about you. Too much, really."
Castiel smiled sheepishly; "nice to meet you too."
"And this must be Claire?"
The small girl looked up at Sam, eyes filled with awe; "...You're very tall."
Sam grinned; "I ate all my vegetables."
"I do too! Will I be that tall when I grow up?"
Cas smiled and knelt down beside his daughter; "maybe. You'll be good for Sam, right?"
"Yes, daddy," she looked back over to Sam; "can I call you Uncle Sam too?"
"Call him Uncle Sammy, he loves that," Dean grinned, slinking down the stairs. Sam scowled at his brother.
"Uncle Sam's fine, Claire."
"Come say goodbye, Claire," Cas smiled. Claire jumped in to her father's arms, pressing a shy kiss to his cheek. Ben elbowed Sam's leg and nodded towards Dean, pointing out how Dean's eyes were raking over Cas' body, pausing at his behind. They shared a wicked grin and nodded.
"I'll see you in a bit, daddy."
"You will. You go play with Ben, I need to talk to Sam."
Claire grinned and spun around, grabbing Ben's hand and dragging him in to the front room; Ben could hear Cas explain Claire's bedtime routine, and thank him for looking after her when he really needn't. Dean eventually ushered Castiel out of the door and Sam wandered in, a satisfied grin on his face.
"Well, it's about time. So kiddies, what shall we do tonight?!"
It got late, and Dean and Castiel still hadn't got back. Claire was already tucked up asleep in Ben's bed, Ben and Sam had read her a bedtime story before going back downstairs to watch more TV. Sam would occasionally chuckle to himself for no reason, and wouldn't explain himself until Ben jabbed him in the side.
"What are you laughing at?!"
Ben scowled; "come on, Sam! You wouldn't even know about Cas unless I told you!"
"Just... Waiting for Dean to text or ring me saying he won't be back until morning."
"...Why's that funny?"
"You're too young to understand. Ask me again in about, five years."
"I'm not too young! Come on! Dad would tell me!"
Sam laughed; "no, he definitely wouldn't! Anyway, when your bedtime?"
"I don't have one."
"Yeah, nice try kid."
"I'll tell you if you explain why it's funny."
"No, because your dad would probably kill me."
"Guess I don't have a bedtime then."
"Guess I'll just have to allocate you one, twerp. And I say it's bedtime now."
"What?! No way! That's so not fair!"
Sam laughed and pushed Ben playfully, who pushed back... After their impromptu wrestling match - in which Sam won/cheated - Ben conceded and dragged himself upstairs to get ready for bed; and seeing as his bed was occupied for the night, he was to be sleeping on the air-bed on the other side of his room in his sleeping bag. He and Claire had almost twisted Sam's arm in to setting up the tent in the living room and they would camp in there, but Sam had put his foot down, citing Dean would end up having to tidy it all up and Sam would get in a lot of trouble for it, so they compromised. He could hear the TV downstairs, Sam laughing, and Claire's soft sighs from across the room; they all slowly lulled him to sleep.
Ben didn't know what time it was, but it was dark. The door creaking open had roused him from his sleep. Cracking his eyes open, he saw Castiel pad across the room, sitting on the edge of the bed. He gently stroked a hand through Claire's hair, smiling. Claire's eyes fluttered open and she looked up groggily at her father.
She rubbed her eyes and sat up, falling in to Cas' arms; "is it time to go home?"
"No, we're staying here tonight."
"You go back to sleep, I'll see you in the morning."
Claire nodded and gave her dad a quick kiss before flopping back down against the pillows; "...Daddy?"
"Is Dean your boyfriend now?"
Ben heard Cas chuckle softly, tucking the covers around Claire snugly; "yeah, he is."
Claire let out a yawn, her eyes falling shut; "good."
Cas stood up, watching his daughter fall back asleep before creeping out of the room, the door clicking shut behind him. Ben grinned to himself and rolled over, falling back to sleep himself.
- EPILOGUE -
The move from Kansas to California was the best thing to happen to Ben. He got an awesome uncle who loved making fun of his dad with him; he got an awesome aunt who baked the most delicious cakes he'd ever tasted; he got an awesome babysitter called Missouri who smacked Dean upside the head a lot for being an idiot; he got a little sister who thought Ben was the best thing since sliced bread; he got a new dad who was awesome and knew a lot about space; he finally got a family.
But best of all, after all the hard work and effort, all the blood, sweat, and tears; after overcoming being a single parent with no one to help or guide him, Dean was finally, actually happy.