Author's note: Thanks so much to Larkafree, Maknatuna, Impala67-Ilana, musicfiend2392, FireChildSlytherin5, Maddy Love Castiel, Panda24, Pizzapig, Tendencia, keacdragon, Avalonemyst, SARA1988, kb18142 and CherylB1964 for last chapter's reviews.
March 24th, 2011
Today is your first birthday. Uncle Dean chose the date. March 24th used to be the feast day for the archangel Gabriel before it got combined with the ones for Michael and Raphael. The new one wasn't really an option, for obvious reasons.
Uncle Dean and Castiel are taking the day off so they can celebrate with you and Balthazar would have liked to plan the entire party, if Bobby had let him. I have to admit I am glad that Bobby put his foot down in this matter. I am not sure how you would have reacted to caviar instead of a cake, but I am pretty sure uncle Dean would have thrown a tantrum.
Sam had started to feel seriously guilty about Jody cooking for them quite frequently and her definitely doing all the baking, so he was attempting to help whenever he could these days. He figured it wouldn't hurt to actually know how a few of the things Gabriel loved to eat were made, anyway. He couldn't complain that he had too little to do ever since he had sworn off active hunting duty, there was always someone calling for some help with research and things like that, but he thought he could take the time to broaden his horizon some still.
Besides, Jody was very interested in stories about hunts and all the facts about the most popular supernatural creatures Sam could tell her, so they both got something out of the time they spent together in the kitchen. The younger Winchester never commented on it, but he was quite sure that Sheriff Mills' main reason for wanting to know all these things was that she wanted to understand the world they – especially Bobby – were dealing with day in day out a little better.
"A vampire attack, but with bite-marks straight out of the movies," Jody repeated the information the tall man next to her had just given her, trying to make sense of it, "A werewolf that doesn't remove the heart of the victim and a mummy from a fake sarcophagus."
Sam nodded in confirmation and went on cutting vegetables into pieces that Gabriel should have no problems eating once they were cooked.
Castiel had arrived a little while earlier and was standing next to the high chair the baby was sitting in, watching him as the younger Winchester had requested. Gabriel's joyful 'Cas' when his brother had made his entrance had even brought a small smile to the angel's lips.
"Usually, I'd go with 'serial killer'," Jody shrugged, turning the heat on one of the burners down a notch and taking a look at the chicken to make sure it would be done with the rest of their meal, "But I suppose that's not what you wanted to hear."
Sam nodded slightly and was about to reply when Gabriel took one of his toy cars and threw them to the floor in front of Castiel's feet. The angel looked at his brother quizzically, but picked the toy up and gave it back to the baby immediately.
"Actually, it was…" the younger Winchester began, but trailed off when the archangel took the same car and threw it to the floor once again only to have it picked up by Castiel a moment later.
"A shapeshifter," Sam finished, "One of the craziest ones we've ever had to deal with too and that really means something."
In the meantime Gabriel had managed to throw his toy to the floor three more times and Castiel had returned it to him three times, as well. The adult angel didn't show any signs of annoyance and he hadn't made any sort of comment, either. He simply bowed down and picked the car up for the fourth time.
"Shapeshifter," Jody repeated, nodding thoughtfully, "Let me guess, silver?"
Silver sounded like something that was hardly ever wrong with any sort of supernatural being, just like salt and holy water. The sheriff knew of a few exceptions already, but when they were talking about something new her first guess always was one of those three things.
The toy car had made four more trips to the floor and Castiel still showed no signs of wanting to end this little game of 'go fetch' his baby brother was playing with him.
"Yeah and decapitation," Sam shrugged, "Works for most corporeal things."
Jody nodded, filing the information away for future use.
Their meal was ready just a few minutes later, so all they had to do was waiting for Dean and Bobby to return from the city.
"Which one of them will give up first?" Sheriff Mills asked in a conspiratorial whisper just as the toy car landed next to Castiel's shoe again. She had to say that most adults she knew would have simply taken the toy away much earlier, but then again the angel wasn't like any other adult she knew. He was an angel, for crying out loud!
"Ten say Gabe will grow bored before Cas even starts to question what he's doing there," the younger Winchester stated in a low voice.
Seven minutes later the rumble of the Impala's engine announced that Dean and Bobby had returned, Sam and Jody had counted another twenty three times the toy car had been thrown to the floor and picked up again and Gabriel was finally showing signs of losing interest in the game.
"Daddy, up!" the littlest archangel demanded, making grabbing motions toward his father and earning the younger Winchester ten dollars with it. Castiel tilted his head in confusion when the sheriff handed the bill over to Sam, but didn't comment and just picked the toy up one last time.
"You guys skipped choir practice a few times too often," Dean commented with a grin.
Singing "Happy Birthday" to Gabriel shouldn't have sounded like they were collectively trying to strangle a bunch of cats, thinking that they had two adult angels singing with them. Then again, of all the angels they knew there were barely any that might have fit into a heavenly choir to begin with.
"I dropped out of the choir right around the time I stopped taking harp lessons," Balthazar deadpanned which got a chuckle out of Jody and an amused smile from Sam.
Castiel didn't seem to understand the joke, however. The younger Winchester wondered – not for the first time – what exactly his brother and the angel were talking about in the hours they spent on the road together. Most pop culture references still went straight over his head and he didn't seem any less socially awkward. Then again, Dean probably just wasn't the most patient teacher and he surely didn't try to educate Cas about a wide variety of things. He probably would be content if the angel started to identify the songs and bands from his tapes and knew a couple of details about the Impala.
"Did you find my singing unappealing?" Castiel asked, slightly puzzled, "You were full of praise at the karaoke establishment."
Dean pulled a face even before the first chuckles could be heard. He really needed to teach the angel what topics were suitable for discussing in public or around their family and which weren't! Actually, the older Winchester had thought that Castiel had understood that after the speech Dean had given to him after the motel clerk had asked if they wanted a king or two queens and the angel had told him that a single bed would be completely satisfactory.
"Dude! You went to a karaoke bar?" Sam asked between chuckles.
Gabriel was looking at everyone around, clearly not understanding what was so funny, but content enough to just assume that it had been great as he started to gurgle happily, too.
"All the victims had been there the night before they vanished," Dean explained matter-of-factly. It wasn't like they hadn't visited all sorts of strange establishments before when they had been on the one or the other case.
"And you ended up sampling Cassy's singing, because…" Balthazar prompted with a smirk on his face.
"The signs said that there would be free shots with every song," Castiel replied before Dean could have said anything, "When Dean expressed an interest on taking them up on the offer I was intrigued, as well."
The entire room went eerily quiet for a short moment before everyone was laughing again. So, not only had the older Winchester taken his angelic hunting companion to a karaoke bar, they both had sung at least one song while they had been at it, too!
"What did you sing?" Jody asked politely, but definitely curious.
Dean quickly grabbed the present he had brought for Gabriel and held it in front of the infant's nose. He knew the answer to that one and if Castiel decided to answer the same way he had when the older Winchester had asked him why he had chosen that song, he thought that some distraction was needed.
"Look, Shorty, uncle Dean got you a little something," he told the baby and more or less forced his younger brother's attention to return to his son and the present when he basically just dropped it into his lap.
"Ramble on," Castiel finally answered the question with a small smile, "It is one of Dean's favorite songs and I thought it would lighten his mood."
Jody didn't need to actually make a sound to let the older Winchester know that the 'aww' had been on the tip of her tongue. Sam, Bobby and Balthazar were just amused all over again. Why did he come to visit those jerks as regularly as he did again? The only thing he would give them a little credit for was not asking if he had sung as well and what song he had chosen.
"Dean, Dean!" Gabriel yelled excitedly and brought everyone's attention back to himself with it.
The younger Winchester had unwrapped the present for the littlest archangel and had just shown the leather jacket in baby size to him. Apparently, the baby liked the present a lot, though Sam supposed he was just fascinated by the way the material felt when he touched it and he might have noticed the angel wings that were printed on the back.
Gabriel let his father dress him in his new jacket without complaints and brought the smile back on his uncle's lips with it. It also helped that the others also handed their presents over and everything about karaoke singing angels and hunters was forgotten again.
"Do you ever miss it?" Dean asked his brother later that evening when they were both standing outside to get a minute to just talk between the two of them.
Gabriel had received enough new toys that he wouldn't even notice they were gone until bedtime Sam supposed. Balthazar knew how to keep his baby brother busy for quite some time, too.
"Huh?" the younger Winchester asked with a frown before the meaning of the question hit him and he shrugged lightly, "I miss you sometimes."
He knew it had been the wrong thing to say even before he had said it.
"Thanks for that insight, Samantha," Dean shot back teasingly, but he looked a little pleased, nevertheless.
That the older Winchester's reaction hadn't been more mockingly spoke for the fact that he probably felt the same way. Not that he'd ever admit it.
"You know what I mean, Dean," Sam replied with one of his more impressive bitchfaces firmly in place, "We've spent basically every day together for nearly all our lives before."
Silence fell between them, but it was a rather comfortable silence. It wouldn't have been nice to hear that the fact that they were separated more often than not these days hadn't left any sort of impression on the younger Winchester. It wouldn't have been nice to hear that he was longing to go back to how things had been and Gabriel was holding him back either, though.
"But I'm happy as things are and I'm glad to know that you've got Cas with you most of the time," Sam added after a short pause, looking at his brother's profile, trying to read everything he wouldn't be caught dead saying out loud from his face.
The older Winchester looked as much at ease as he would probably ever get. It surely helped that no new threats to the world as a whole had surfaced lately, but Sam liked to think that his brother was simply content with his life, as well.
They spent a few more minutes simply standing on the front porch, bickering about the fact that Gabriel still didn't have enough cool clothes to go along with his new leather jacket and about the karaoke incident when the older Winchester stupidly reminded his brother of it again. Both Winchesters ended up laughing heartily when Dean told the entire story of Castiel first getting intrigued by the concept of karaoke to the point where he had looked like a deer caught in the headlights when he had realized that people would be looking at him once he was on stage.
The silent flutter of wings was the only warning they got before Sam once more had his arms full with a slightly cranky and sleepy infant. He was still wearing his leather jacket, but he was also holding and chewing on the plush hamster Bobby had bought for him.
"Night, daddy," Gabriel grumbled, huddling closer to his father's chest and pulling on his hair commandingly until the younger Winchester's full attention was on him and he got cuddled like he deserved.
"You'll still be here tomorrow morning, right?" Sam asked his brother, because they hadn't actually spoken about the plans he and Castiel might have made.
Dean huffed out an amused breath, looking at how his giant of a little brother was being played by a baby and nodded. Hey, there was some cake still and he had nowhere else he should get to as quickly as possible, so he'd stay another day or two.
"Say 'Good night uncle Dean'," the younger Winchester whispered to the archangel who only burrowed his face in the soft and well worn flannel of his father's shirt and muttered, "Night, Dean."
"See you tomorrow morning, buddy," Dean replied with a chuckle, petting his nephew's hair for a moment before Sam took him inside.
I'll tell you the truth, Gabe. Of course, I miss being on the road with uncle Dean sometimes, but I'd miss you more… all the time.