Author's note: This story is a sequel to "It's not the size that counts" and I am not sure it'll make much sense without reading that other story first.
December 25th, 2010
Every hunter should have a diary and every father should have one, too.
You have been with us for about five months now, Gabe. A lot of things have happened and I honestly don't know how I'll ever explain some of them to you, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
For now I just want to tell you about your first Christmas…
"Watch where you are going, dammit!" Dean yelled, nearly dropping the side of the Christmas tree he was holding up when they collided into yet anything piece of furniture.
Alright, so maybe the older Winchester had been the one who had insisted that there was no use getting one of those lame, little trees, but he hadn't known that Sam would be no great help carrying it inside then!
"We're nearly there," the younger Winchester grunted, trying not to walk right into the couch table, at least. It would be about the only piece of furniture they had missed and Bobby would probably tear them a new one for the chaos they had caused. Oh well, at least nothing had been broken… as far as Sam could tell.
"Where did you put that damn stand?" Dean grumbled. He didn't really see where they were going with all the branches that were impeding his line of sight, but he was pretty sure that they had entered Bobby's house, had left again through the backdoor and were well on their way to Canada, at this point.
"Right here," Sam replied with a relieved sigh as he gave his brother a sign to put the tree upright and hold it for a moment while the younger Winchester tried to get it into the stand. After everything they had been through carrying the tree inside, putting it up was surprisingly easy.
Dean wiped his hands on his jeans and looked at their handiwork with a through and through satisfied expression, next to him Sam nodded his approval. All in all, they had done pretty well and the tree looked nice even without the decorations already, so it could only get better.
"That is one beautiful tree," Dean commented proudly before he turned around with a muttered, "I'll go get the saw."
The younger Winchester nodded again. He had tried to tell his brother that the ceilings in Bobby's house weren't quite as high as he seemed to think they were, but Dean wouldn't listen to him, of course. Oh well, their Christmas tree would still be beautiful without the few extra inches.
"Do you idjits think that we're living in a cathedral?" Bobby commented gruffly, shaking his head in slight annoyance, even though it wasn't that hard to tell that he was actually amused.
"Don't look at me," Sam shrugged, "Dean insisted that he wouldn't allow us to get a toothpick."
It was nice to see that his older brother was getting into the spirit as much as he was. In fact, it looked like Dean was the one of them who was the most excited by the prospect of a proper family Christmas, even if he insisted that they were mostly doing all of this for Gabriel. Thinking of the archangel…
"Where's Gabe?" the younger Winchester asked, looking around as if he thought he might have simply missed the infant before. They had left him with Bobby when they had gone to get the tree earlier, but the older hunter obviously didn't have the baby with him.
"His brother took him upstairs to play," Bobby answered with a shrug.
There was no need saying which brother. Castiel spent time with Gabriel, but the angel wouldn't take his baby brother anywhere to play with him. Most of the time he just watched when others played with Gabriel or he joined one of the games when somebody told him to, but he would never request to get some time alone with the infant. It wasn't a big surprise that Castiel didn't really know how to act around a baby, though.
Sam made his way upstairs just as Dean returned with the saw and he and Bobby started to argue whether they should cut the top or the bottom of the tree. Apparently, the older Winchester would prefer cutting the top, because the bottom was bushier and would hold more decoration while Bobby thought that they should cut the bottom, because the tree would lose its shape otherwise.
"Daddy!" Gabriel yelled on the top of his little lungs the moment Sam opened the door. The infant immediately got to his hands and knees and scrambled over to the younger Winchester in record speed. He really was getting very good and very quick and they had recently discovered that stairs weren't safe from the baby anymore, either.
Balthazar shook his head and stood up from the floor to lean against the wall casually, instead. Apparently, he had just lost his brother's attention and playing with the little toy cars by himself without the excuse that he was just humoring Gabriel with it wasn't really appealing to the angel.
"Hey there, champ," Sam greeted the little archangel, picking him up and planting a kiss against his cheek, "What did you two get up to?"
The younger Winchester had stopped feeling uncomfortable with showing his affection for Gabriel quite some time ago and was rewarded for it with a happy squeal and a tight hug most of the time. This time was no exception.
"We were cruising around the French Riviera," Balthazar answered with a smirk, "But high waters forced us to switch cars after a while."
What the angel meant was that Gabriel had decided he'd much rather put the toy into his mouth and drool on it than watch it drive around on the floor.
"I assume you brought the tree inside," Balthazar added a moment later, "I'll better go and make sure that the decoration stays on the tasteful side of tacky."
Sam thought about pointing out that they had crossed the line a couple days ago when the glowing plastic Santa had suddenly appeared on the front porch, but he didn't feel like complaining about anything when their entire strange little family had come together to celebrate Christmas.
"Do you want to see the tree, too?" the younger Winchester asked the baby on his arm in an upbeat tone that was nearly guaranteed to make Gabriel yell 'yes' and the littlest archangel didn't disappoint.
As it turned out Bobby and Dean had come to a compromise and had cut the tree from the top and from the bottom. It still reached the ceiling, but it wasn't bending strangely anymore.
"I hope you paid for that tree," Sheriff Mills stated in an amused tone, putting the box of decorations she had brought on the floor.
"Yes, Ma'am!" Dean replied dutifully, eying the box with a mix of curiosity and amusement, "Does that mean we won't have empty soda and beer cans as ornaments this year?"
The scandalized look on Balthazar's face was enough to make everyone else laugh. This was where the angel really drew the line, though! He hadn't said anything about a universal color scheme for all decorations no matter how tempting it had been, because he didn't have to live at the place, but he wasn't going to celebrate Christmas with a tree that had garbage on it!
"Jody!" Gabriel exclaimed, extending his arms toward the sheriff until she got the hint and let the younger Winchester pass the baby on to her. The infant's very obvious love for Jody was also the main reason why she had been asked to join them, even though Sam suspected that Bobby had just taken the first excuse that had presented itself.
"I also brought the ham and the pie," Sheriff Mills pointed out, bouncing Gabriel against her hip to the baby's great amusement.
"Jody, if I were ready to settle down, I would marry you," Dean stated completely seriously, abandoning looking through the decorations that were available to them in favor of flashing a brilliant smile to the woman.
Well, if that wasn't a good start to their Christmas Day, Sam didn't know what would be.
"Cas, where the hell have you been?" Dean asked the dark-haired angel just as Sam and Gabriel returned from the baby's afternoon nap.
The tree had been decorated in red and gold and with fairy lights in the meantime and judged by the smell Jody had started with the cooking. Since Bobby was nowhere to be seen the younger Winchester thought it was a safe guess that he was helping.
"I understand it is customary to bring presents," Castiel replied, awkwardly presenting the bag with neatly wrapped gifts he was holding.
"Good excuse, dude, good excuse," the older Winchester grinned, patting his friend's shoulder. The two of them had grown closer still after Dean had taken up hunting alone and was mostly calling the angel for some help or company. Whenever he was on the phone with his younger brother the older Winchester had a new story about something Castiel had said or done and it wasn't that hard to tell that he wasn't only trying to make Sam believe that he was okay. Both Winchesters were actually happy with the way their lives were going and that was something neither one of them had been able to honestly say for quite some time.
"Anyway, now that we're finally all here," Dean stated with a grin that clearly meant he was up to something before he yelled loudly, "Everyone to the tree!"
He used the time it took for everyone to gather in the living room to get a medium sized box from where he had hidden it earlier.
"The tree topper is still missing," the older Winchester explained and took the figuring he had actually gotten custom made out of the box. It was about as big as a Barbie doll, but instead of the classical blonde, female angel with big white wings it looked very much like their favorite holy tax accountant with big black wings.
"That'll mess the entire color scheme of the tree up," Balthazar sighed, but put the topper on the tree, anyway. Color schemes aside, it was just too funny not to use it.
Castiel simply cocked his head and frowned deeply in confusion.
"It's also customary to have an angel on top of the tree, Cas," Dean stated seriously, "Next year we'll have a little Balthazar up there."
Nobody doubted that the older Winchester was serious about that, as well. Everyone went back to what they had been doing before a little while later. They still had some preparations to make, after all.
"Thank you, Dean," Castiel stated in a tone that had much more emotion in it than was usual for the angel before he hugged the human tightly for a few moments.
Sam had to bite his lower lip hard so he wouldn't laugh out loud at the baffled expression his older brother was making. He should have known that Castiel's responses to most things just weren't what one would expect, really.
"No problem, Cas," Dean replied, patting the angel's back with both hands for a moment, "Why don't you go and see if Bobby and Jody need help in the kitchen?"
As usually, Castiel followed the older Winchester's suggestion nearly immediately. As soon as the angel was out of sight Sam couldn't help laughing any longer.
"You'd think you proposed to him with that from the way he reacted," the younger Winchester chuckled before he faked complete seriousness and added, "Dude, I hope you're sure that this isn't actually some angelic mating ritual!"
"Ha ha," Dean replied, but the way his face had shown clear signs of panic for a moment was enough for another round of laughter from his younger brother.
"It can cut through all things without the blade getting dull," Castiel explained when Dean had opened his present and wasn't looking as amazed as the angel had thought he would be, "The man in the suit said that there was only a limited supply of those, as well."
"Thanks, Cas," Dean replied with an amused smile, "And no more infomercials for you!"
In fact, he had already started to think that the angel might have been watching too many late night commercials when Balthazar had received the tie everybody would be happy to have, Bobby had uncovered the only book you'll ever need, Jody had opened the box holding the lipstick every woman wants and Sam and Gabriel had gotten a board game that promised to be guaranteed fun and a bonding experience for the entire family. Oh, the presents weren't half bad, but Castiel was taking the slogans that came with the products far too seriously. It was cute how the angel's eyes lit up as everyone thanked him for the wonderful gifts, though.
It soon became all too clear that the majority of all presents under the tree were for Gabriel, however. Apparently, they had all decided that spoiling the baby rotten wouldn't do him any harm and the younger Winchester couldn't say anything against it, because he might have gone a little overboard with the toys and clothes he had bought, too.
Balthazar of course had to be the one who really overdid it, though. The Calvin Klein suit in baby size was just the icing on the cake, too. Well, the cherry on top of the cake had to be the bright white angel wings that were now attached to the back of Gabriel's shirt and made the infant look like he might have belonged right next to their Cas tree topper.
Before the evening was over Bobby was sporting his new trucker's hat the sheriff had bought for him and Jody had the new scarf the older hunter had gotten her wrapped around her neck while the two Winchesters and the two adult angels were dutifully wearing the sweaters Sheriff Mills had gifted to them.
Wasn't it good to know that saying something was a tradition was a surefire way to get Castiel to do anything? The older Winchester vowed that he wouldn't use this knowledge to his advantage of course and he would start with not taking advantage the next day.
"Eggnog, it's customary," Dean simply said, handing a mug to the angel.
"The human way of life is very complicated," Castiel frowned, but took the offered cup, anyway. He didn't quite understand why he got quite a few amused looks from everyone present, but he liked that his willingness to indulge in human traditions made the older Winchester as happy as it obviously did.
"Looks like we're going to bed," Sam stated a moment later, nodding toward the infant who was slowly but surely falling asleep on a pile of wrapping paper the angel wings still attached to his back. He had decided that new toys were good, but the wrappers they came in were much better and had spent quiet some time simply sitting in a pile of paper, squealing because of the rustling sounds and enjoying crawling through it before the events of the day had caught up with him and he had become tired.
The younger Winchester picked the archangel up and carried him back toward their room when Bobby stopped him and handed one more present to him with a small smile.
When Sam finally had gotten Gabriel changed into his candy cane pajamas and they had found a comfortable position on the bed – the littlest archangel had adamantly refused to go to sleep without his father by his side ever since their final fight with Raphael – the younger Winchester finally got a chance to look at his gift.
The diary was bound in black leather and seeing the dedication Bobby had written into it made Sam smile. He put the book on the bedside table and turned off the light before he just lay there, stroking Gabriel's back until they were both fast asleep.
We really have a pretty awesome family, buddy.