Well, guys, here it is.
I just finished this up, literally, so it hasn't been beta read. I wanted to get this out to you because I've been so bad updating this lately. So yeah, here it is.
This is the final chapter of Cleansing, but I promise I have a lot more in the works.
I'd like to thank you all for your amazing comments, the help you've provided and your support. Thank you to everyone who's read this and stuck with me this far, and thank you to everyone who comes to read this now it's finished.
This has been a big adventure and I loved every second of it. It was my first fanfic, and I'm only going to improve from here. I hope you all join me on my journey!
The wind rocked the Impala as it crawled along the icy road, the tyres slipping now and then, trying to get a grip on the slippery tarmac. "I said you should have put the chains on," Sam mused quietly from the passenger seat, cradling the crate of beer on his lap.
"Shut your mouth. It was only a trip into town," Dean grumbled, both hands gripping the wheel lightly as he kept the car steady and straight on the road. "Besides, it wasn't that bad until it went all end of the world blizzard on us." Sam chuckled and nodded, glancing out into the darkness beyond the window. Snow swirled around angrily, battering every surface of the Impala and coating it in a layer of white.
Dean had to say he was glad when they finally reached the turning for Bobby's and the Impala found some grip on the rocky old road leading up to the salvage yard. He could just make out the yellow glow of light in the windows up ahead through the blizzard, and already he was imagining how blissfully warm it was inside. Even with the heat cranked up in the Impala it was still bitterly cold. "This is going to be weird," Sam said quietly. Dean had to agree.
"Yeah, but the good kinda weird. When was the last time we had a proper Christmas, anyway?" He glanced across at his brother to see Sam's brow crinkle slightly. It was Christmas Eve, and they were putting in all the effort to do it right this year.
"I don't think I ever have," he answered softly.
"Then this is a good place to start," Dean said with a grin, slowing the Impala down to pull up outside of Bobby's. The door to the house opened, a tall figure silhouetted against the warm light. Dressed in a t-shirt and jeans it was hard to tell it was Castiel, but Dean knew straight away.
The angel stepped out into the cold to help them unload the car, ignoring the icy wind that bit at his skin as he moved with Dean to the trunk. "Sorry we took a while," Dean muttered as he fished out a bag of decorations, handing it to the angel. Castiel smiled and shook his head.
"I was about to come searching but Bobby told me you had faced worse than a blizzard," he laughed softly, looking up to Dean.
"Well, I am sorry," Dean said with a small smile, his breath clouding on the air as he leaned forwards and pressed an easy, gentle kiss on the angel's lips. "Now please help with the bags so I can get my ass inside, I'm freezing my balls off out here."
"That's highly unlikely, but not desirable." Castiel pulled out two more of the bags and then fluttered away into thin air, the snow swirling around into the displacement of air he had created. Sam appeared beside Dean with the beer in hand and a bag of groceries, his nose scrunched up a little.
"I don't know if I'm going to get used to that," he muttered. Dean barked a laugh and closed the trunk.
"And I don't think I'll get used to a perverted archangel hovering around you," he retorted as they headed across the slippery ground towards the house.
It was warm inside, the heat greeting Dean and making his face flush as he stepped over the threshold. The house smelled of fresh pine from the Christmas tree they had managed to cram in there a few days ago. It stood in the corner of the living room, crushed into the corner beside Gabriel's sofa. They had insisted on getting the tree the proper way, trudging out into the cold and finding a decent specimen before cutting it down and trying to manoeuvre it into the house, much the amusement of the angels. Crowley had taken particular delight when the damn thing had fallen over.
As Dean entered the living room with the bags of shopping, he found Gabriel at the tree, hiding things in the branches. "Gabe, what are you doing?" Sam asked with a small grin. The archangel span around to look at him as if he had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
"Candy," he said quickly. "I'm hiding candy."
"I guess some habits never die," Dean chuckled, putting down the bags containing the decorations near the tree. The house was full and busy. Balthazar was helping Castiel unpack the contents of the bags the angel had brought in on the kitchen table. Crowley was in the kitchen as well complaining to Bobby about his lack of anything that's worthy of cooking in, dressed in just a shirt and slacks for once with the sleeves rolled up to bear some rather interesting tattoos on his forearms that had made Dean raise his eyebrows at first.
"Do we get to decorate it now?" Gabriel asked as he looked up at the tree in front of him. The archangel had been pestering them since they got the damn thing. Apparently angels never celebrated any such family event either, and Gabriel was all for getting involved with all the traditions. It surprised Dean and creeped him out a little, but Sam seemed to find it endearing and adorable.
"Yes, we can decorate it now," Sam laughed as he shrugged off his coat and cast it aside. Gabriel started digging through the bags and they were soon joined by the others.
"How do we even do this?" Castiel asked as he watched the archangel pull out a string of tinsel.
"No idea," Dean shrugged, fishing out a box of baubles.
"Just go crazy," Bobby suggested from where he was leaning up against the wall that separated the kitchen and lounge.
Gabriel really did not need the cue to go crazy, reaching up to start with the tinsel. Of course, he had picked one of the shortest vessels in the universe. Sam barked a laugh and moved forward, easily hooking an arm around the archangel and lifting up off the ground. "I am not a child," Gabriel hissed, a mock-serious expression on his face as he kicked a foot out to give him some extra support on the arm of the nearby sofa.
"You're about as tall as one," Sam returned easily, getting a better grip on the archangel before lifting him up again. Gabriel muttered something that sounded like thanks as he reached up again to wrap the tinsel around the top of the tree and start its descent downwards.
Dean and Castiel started on the baubles, dotting them around anywhere they could reach, taking vague directions from a very unhelpful Balthazar. "No, the shiny one, put it near the top," he offered, only receiving an exasperated glare from Dean.
"If you're the great interior designer then why don't you actually help?" Dean snapped at him, and immediately regretted it as the damn angel actually stepped up and took the bauble from him. He had to admit Balthazar had a slightly better eye for it than Dean and Castiel's haphazard approach of sticking them wherever they would go.
The angels had been around for a while now. Gabriel never really left, loitering around Sam like for once he was worried about making the first move, but the others came and went freely. Dean often woke in the morning to found Crowley with a mug of coffee on the sofa, reading the morning newspaper with Bobby listening idly to his ramblings about the economic climate. Balthazar dropped in now and then, sometimes with other angels, usually just to be completely inappropriate at a bad time. Castiel never left any more. He stayed with Dean, sharing the bed, which Gabriel had kindly turned into a double, even though he did not have to sleep.
Dean could get used to this new way of living. Between hunts they could simply relax with a beer at Bobby's and get a good night's sleep without loud sex happening next door or sirens blaring all through the night. He knew it would probably never last, and he hated invading Bobby's space constantly, but the older hunter had told them explicitly that he would also have it no other way. Still, Dean was looking into getting their own place, a place they could return home to between hunts and simply relax. It was so rare they ever got to do such a thing, and he figured that maybe, just maybe, they deserved it.
"Gabe, I don't think it needs any more candy." Dean glanced over to see Gabriel with his legs wrapped around Sam's middle, leaning back and up towards the tree with a candy cane in his hand.
"Of course it needs more candy," he retorted, hooking one of the canes over a branch. Sam rolled his eyes but continued to hold him up.
"I think you can do this yourself now," he sighed.
"I don't think I can, I'm too short." Dean rolled his eyes and hooked another bauble onto the tree. It was starting to look full, decorations sparking in the dim light. Dean had to say he was proud.
It took them a good hour to fully decorate the tree. Gabriel nearly fell into it at one point, when Sam went to put him down, and Crowley added a bit of creative input with some very old decorative bells. Balthazar tweaked the whole thing and Bobby stood there calling them all idjits for taking so long over it. When it was done, however, they stood back proudly and took in their work. Hardly a branch was left visible but it was just over-the-top enough for their first real Christmas.
"It's still missing something," Dean mused quietly. Castiel looked at him and raised an eyebrow.
"What? It looks finished to me." He looked back at the tree, taking in the tinsel and baubles hanging off every possible branch and the various little candy items scattered around.
"It's missing an angel," Dean said with a smirk before grabbing Castiel around the waist and hauling him up off the ground. The angel let out a satisfying squeak of surprise, legs flailing as he tried to get a grip on something.
"I don't think I'll fit on top of the tree. Dean!" As the angel tried to twist out of his grip they both went toppling sideways to the floor, much to the enjoyment of Balthazar and Gabriel. Dean hit the ground with a soft 'oof' and then laughed loudly, wrapping his arms around the angel that had landed on top of him. "Dean this isn't funny."
"Of course it's funny," Dean gasped through the laughter.
"Seriously, Dean, what are you, five?" Sam chided as he fell down onto the sofa.
"Apparently I am," Dean muttered as he pressed a kiss to Castiel's forehead and then let him get up.
"If you're about done screwing around," Bobby grumbled as he made his way towards his desk. "Some of us need to sleep."
"Such a grouch," Crowley purred as he poured himself a glass of whiskey. He had upgraded Bobby's collection some time ago to suit his tastes better. The old hunter hardly seemed to care and Dean was getting a little unnerved by how the archangel was so at home in the cramped little house. Bobby sighed and flopped down into his chair.
"We're not all young and spritely," Bobby argued, trailing a hand over his face.
"Yeah, sure," Dean sighed, hauling himself up from the floor. "Need our rest to be up early, too." He grinned and offered his hand out to Castiel.
"Not that any of us will be sleeping for the next hour," Gabriel murmured as he slumped down beside Sam on the sofa.
"It's Christmas! I only asked for one present from Cas," Dean said with a wink, causing the young angel to blush and take the lead, dragging him out of the living room and up the stairs. Really Dean had only asked to spend the night with the angel, curled up in his wings, safe and secure. Of course Castiel had been willing to give that, but he also said Dean was in store for more than just cuddling. Dean could not help but think maybe the angel was giving himself a little present too.
Dean was awake early, before the sun had even started to rise. It was cold in the house, making him burrow deeper into the sheets and into the warm embrace of Castiel's wings. It was hard to think that just a few months ago they had been battered and broken. He smoothed his hand over the one that had been completely shattered, marvelling at the angel's ability to heal. The feathered limb shivered gently and tightened its grip around Dean, pulling him closer as Castiel stirred gently.
He may not have needed to sleep nowadays, but the angel still enjoyed indulging in the little ideas of humanity. He still took regular hot showers and loved curling up in a warm bed with Dean. Gabriel had told him that to ignore his want for humanity would lead to him becoming a mindless soldier again. Of course that was the last thing Castiel wanted. "Hey," Dean muttered softly as Castiel opened one bleary eye to look at him.
"It's early," the angel grumbled lowly. Dean smirked and leaned in to kiss Castiel's lips gently. It was so easy to be intimate with him. It was one of the easiest things in Dean's life. To love and be close to Castiel was like second nature.
"It's Christmas," Dean replied in a low rumble, kissing the angel again before resting his head back on his pillow and continuing to smooth his hand slowly over the wing that was wrapped around him. Castiel hummed softly and closed his eyes again. He flexed rather like a cat at Dean's touch, feathers shivering as the wing stretched out, muscles and bones popping in his body as he arched his back to stretch.
Dean watched the angel for a few minutes, enjoying the soft feathers against his fingers as he caressed the arch of Castiel's wing. It was times like this he could say this was the happiest he had been in a long time. He could never remember a time when he had been so satisfied with life. Castiel opened his eyes, both of them this time, and looked at Dean with the same unhidden adoration he had been displaying for months. With no boundaries to stop him anymore he was like a love sick puppy. Dean found it adorable. "We should get up, sounds like everyone else is already awake," Dean sighed, running his hand up from the wing to Castiel's neck, trailing his thumb over the faint stubble that crept there from the angel's jaw.
Castiel nodded and slowly unfurled his wing before sitting up. Dean pushed himself up from where he had been laid on Castiel's over wing, allowing the angel to stretch them out across the room until the tips brushed either wall. The feathers shivered and fluttered as Castiel reached his arms up above his head and flexed his back again. Dean watched as the wings arched right up above Castiel's head before folding down neatly against his back and fading out into the angelic plane.
Being with an angel had its perks. There were not many men who could say they had had angelic feathers wrapped around their erection. It was also interesting to wake up with a feathered creature, to watch an angel flex and stretch like any bird. Castiel was often more catlike in his approach, but his preening what amusingly just like a bird.
Preening had become something more common lately. Apparently an angel with a mate cared more about their appearance and that required making sure feathers were in order. Dean had to admit he enjoyed ruffling them up again, grabbing generous handfuls of them and tugging until Castiel cried out and came hard.
They dressed and headed downstairs to find several sights that confused Dean all at once. Crowley was in the kitchen making a start on Christmas dinner, with Bobby cursing at him for taking up the whole kitchen with various arrangements of pots and pans and bowls of ingredients. Crowley was flaring his wings to show some sort of dominance but was apparently going about tidying up to make some room for Bobby to read the paper, because Bobby's desk was taken up by Gabriel's elaborate display of chocolate desserts, arranged smartly with different edible Christmas decorations. Gabriel apparently refused to move his little masterpiece. Balthazar was also there with an armful of presents arguing with Sam because they belonged under the tree, but apparently there was hardly enough room and most of the presents were highly inappropriate anyway.
"Without chaos it wouldn't be Christmas," Gabriel offered cheerily from where he was arranging a particularly, Dean had to admit, delicious looking gateaux.
"Apparently it wouldn't be Christmas without making humans fat, either," Castiel mused quietly, eying up the chocolate trifle was nearest to him. Dean would have punched him lightly for insinuating that he would get fat, but he had to admit that, yeah, he probably would eat most of what was on the desk.
The day went on with varying amounts of chaos until the smell of cooking food settled into the house and they all lulled into a much calmer atmosphere. Dean would never tell him to his face, but Crowley was actually quite the good cook. He guessed it was all the years in existence, but then he was not sure if any of other angels would be quite so skilled. Gabriel could never make anything without making it sickly sweet and Castiel burned pancakes once. Balthazar had never even been seen to attempt to cook.
By the time dinner came around things were a little calmer. Gabriel and Crowley argued briefly over a table before conjuring one up that was large and slightly ornate but did not totally overwhelm the kitchen. They all settled down around it and the angels dished up the good old fashioned way, instead of using their abilities to simply magic it all onto the table. It was quite the spread with turkey, ham, potatoes, vegetables and various sauces and gravy. It was enough to shut everyone up long enough to pile their plates up and start eating.
Something about the whole atmosphere tugged at a part of Dean buried deep inside. This was what Christmas was meant to be like. It was warm and friendly and felt like home. Despite it being a mismatched group of people, it felt like the closest thing to a family Dean had had in a long time. Castiel had to agree with that sentiment. Of all the talk of brothers, and their Father, in Heaven, this was more like a family than Heaven had ever been. If the genuine smiles on the faces of Crowley, Gabriel and Balthazar were anything to go by then it really was the best family Christmas ever.
And then there was Sam. It warmed Dean to his very core to see his brother smiling. After Lucifer, he did not think Sam could ever smile again. He had been hit with the crippling grief of the fallen archangel, secondary emotions making him suffer for weeks even after he was free. Dean had never seen his brother so sad, so overwhelmed by fear and grief. Seeing him smile and laugh between an archangel and Dean was possibly one of the best things to ever happen.
"Well, who knew Azzy was such a star chef?" Gabriel mused before taking a fork loading with turkey and potato into his mouth. It had taken a lot of convincing for them to stop him adding some sort of sweet thing to his food, but Sam had finally won him over by saying he could be the first to open presents. Gabriel was such a child it was incredible.
"Call me Azzy again, and I will smite you," Crowley grumbled. Gabriel grinned around his food but did not respond.
"I dunno, I think Azzy could stick," Bobby piped up. Crowley tried to shoot him the most withering look, but Balthazar was soon joining in too.
"Yeah, Azzy, fantastic meal. Couldn't have done better myself."
"You can't even cook," Castiel muttered, prodding his turkey with his fork.
"Dude, you burnt pancakes," Dean laughed, only receiving a glower from the angel.
"I was distracted," Castiel argued, and the look in his eye told Dean he did not want to continue this conversation. It was indeed the truth that he had been distracted. Whether or not that distraction was Dean almost having his pants down against the kitchen counter was something no one would get to find out.
Present opening was interesting. There were the standard things, such as the books of lore Sam received that gave him instant nerd boners. Some of them were ancient, and Dean suspected Gabriel had been bending a few rules to get them. Other gifts included a new knife from Bobby to Dean, something ornate yet practical that was said to have some mythical value but that would soon be settled when Dean took it out on a hunt, some new clothes for Castiel from Balthazar and Gabriel, because he needed to update his wardrobe and he looked quite dashing in jeans, and a bottle of one of England's finest and oldest scotches for Bobby from Crowley.
The interesting part came when people started to unwrap more of Balthazar's presents. Other than the clothing package for Castiel, he had insisted they waited until last to open his gifts. Dean soon learned why. As he unwrapped a deceptively oblong package to find it was an open box containing a dildo, he felt his face flush and before he knew it his head was in his palm. "Dude, what the hell?" He laughed. All he could do was laugh. It was possibly the most inappropriate present he had ever received. Castiel took it from him to take a look, an amused smirk on his face.
"Dean's used to bigger," he sighed, placing the box down on the floor. To say Dean was shocked by the totally crude remark was an understatement and to say his jaw dropped was not a lie.
"Oh man, I've corrupted an angel," he muttered.
"Mine's better," Gabriel piped up. Dean turned his gaze to see the archangel unwrapping a positively giant chocolate penis.
"What are you supposed to do with that?" Castiel said with a frown, resting his chin on his palm, elbow on his knee. Gabriel raised an eyebrow at the object in his hand before throwing a glance to Sam and grinning. Without another word he was licking his way up the chocolate like a true porn star, and no one in the room really knew where to look.
"That is so not something I wanted to see," Dean groaned, covering his eyes with one hand and rocking sideways to lean against Castiel. The angel beside him laughed, but was actually completely unabashed. He watched Gabriel with an amused grin.
"You're better," he murmured so only Dean could hear.
"Oh my God what is with you today," Dean said through the laughter that threatened to erupt into something very loud and obnoxious. Castiel shrugged easily and looked to Dean, and there was a happiness in his eyes that Dean had not seen for a long time.
"Just having fun," Castiel said simply before looking back to Gabriel. It was amazing just how much chocolate penis an archangel could fit into his mouth, and just how uncomfortable a moose-sized man could look watching it.
After the presents were opened, and yes all of Balthazar's presents were penis orientated and yes watching Crowley open a dancing penis was the greatest thing in creation, they settled down for board games and alcohol. If Dean had to pick the best part of the day, and it was certainly difficult to do, he would probably pick being curled up on the sofa with Castiel resting calmly between his legs, head on his chest, as they drank a few beers and watched Sam beat the angels at Twister. Apparently long legs and good flexibility made it easier to reach across the matt and totally dominate anyone else who happened to get in the way.
Balthazar was defeated when he tried to play some form of gay chicken with Sam and simply fell over, and Gabriel went down after trying a similar ploy and getting an awkward problem that only Dean seemed to notice before he sloped off to one side of the room to leave Sam to enjoy his victory. Somehow Dean knew the awkward archangel love was not over, and he was right as he watched from the sofa as Gabriel fiddled with something in his hands before moving towards where Sam was arguing with Bobby about the rules of a card game.
As soon as Dean realised it was mistletoe he wanted to look away, and yet it was so fascinating. Luckily for Gabriel, Sam was sat down, making it so the archangel actually had a few inches on the younger hunter. Unluckily for Gabriel, Sam had never expressed any interest in men in his life. Apparently Sam took the same approach as his brother when it came to angels, however. Gabriel was far from just a man, and Sam acknowledged that by eying up the mistletoe above him for a moment before easily pulling the archangel down into a kiss, hand large and commanding against Gabriel's neck.
Dean smirked and caught the mistletoe that was tossed casually his way. Castiel chuckled and rolled his head to look at Dean, blue eyes gleaming with joy still. "Come here," Dean murmured as he twirled the mistletoe in his fingers above Castiel's head. The angel turned and leaned up to place a gentle, easy kiss to Dean's lips. It was warm and perfect, adding to the happy haze of the best Christmas of Dean's life.
The mistletoe was tossed again, this time landing on the desk in front of Bobby. The old hunter eyed it up before looking over to Dean's suggestive grin. "No," he said firmly, but there was still a faint smile tugging at his lips. Crowley laughed and picked up the mistletoe.
"Not even a peck?" Bobby rolled his eyes but still laughed, beginning to shuffle the cards that were on the desk in front of him.
"Last time I kissed you I lost my soul," Bobby muttered. Crowley dropped the mistletoe to the table and smirked before leaning down to press a kiss to Bobby's cheek and move away from the desk.
After a few games of cards, and after Dean had fallen asleep twice on the sofa, Bobby called them all over to one corner of the room. The same battered old camera that had taken their picture so long ago was set up on the other side of the room and Dean felt his stomach drop at the sight of it. Bobby must have noticed how his face fell, because he placed a warm hand to Dean's shoulder. "This one's gonna last," he said quietly.
Dean took a deep breath and nodded before pushing himself up to his feet and making his way over to where the rest were gathering. It was a clamour of wings and awkward angels, but they soon got themselves organised. Dean stood in the middle with Sam, Bobby between them and Castiel and Gabriel on either side. Balthazar stood beside Castiel and Crowley took up his place beside Gabriel. The camera timer ticked down and Dean felt the unease grow. Last time Castiel had ruined their mood, and he was waiting for the same to happen again. "Balthazar, please remove your hand from my testicles," the angel breathed.
The camera caught the moment they all burst into hysterics and the utter look of disbelief on Castiel's face that his brother actually tightened his grip. This picture certainly would last.
It was a cold, clear night when Castiel led Dean from the house and out onto the porch. The stars twinkled overhead and the moon cast a silver glow on the untouched snow that had settled over the salvage yard. Dean turned to face the angel, marvelling as always at how the moonlight lit up his face in cool, blue tones, how his eyes gleamed and shone. "I didn't want to give this to you inside," Castiel said quietly, offering Dean a small, neatly wrapped package. He took it with and turned it over a few times in his hands before opening it slowly.
It was light, almost weightless, and when Dean had it unwrapped it was a small, ornate box. Castiel was silent as Dean slowly opened the box. The breath caught in his chest as he laid eyes upon what was inside. It was a necklace, but it was so much more. Hung from a smart, black cord was a small dreamcatcher, clearly handmade. The silver beads threaded into the pattern gleamed in the moonlight, yet also seemed to glow with their own light. Hung from the bottom of the dreamcatcher was a single grey feather, long and elegant and reflecting light like smoke.
Dean pulled the necklace from the box slowly and ran his fingers over the feather. "Cas… I…" Words were really not enough. He could see the sentiment behind it, could see the effort that had been put into making it. He simply knew Castiel had made it by hand, knew that no powers had been used to craft it.
"Maybe now I can keep the bad dreams away forever," Castiel muttered, his voice barely above a whisper. Dean looked into those eyes and saw the expanse of time and space again, saw the impossible creature he had fallen in love with, and fell in love all over again. He slipped the cord around his neck before pulling the angel in to a soft, tender kiss, cradling his face gently in one hand as his other arm wrapped easily around his waist.
He took back his earlier thought. This was the best part of the day. This was probably the best part of his life.
I dedicate this to Michelle, because without her I simply wouldn't be alive. Without her this would have never happened.