[Fic] Thursday's Child (7/?)

Author: WynterEyez

Fandom: Supernatural

Rating: T

Characters/Pairings: Dean Winchester, Castiel, Sam Winchester, Bobby Singer, Jody Mills, Dean/Castiel

Beta: None, though that would've been a damn good idea, don't you think?

Spoilers: AU after 'The Man Who Would Be King,' contains spoilers for 'Let It Bleed.'

Disclaimer: I don't own them, obviously.

Warnings: References to past mpreg (I can't believe I'm doing this…)

Summary: Castiel brings a surprise home to Dean. It's gooey. And has tentacles.

Chapter Summary: In which Danielle's got talent, Castiel faces off with the pizza man, Dean may never eat pie again, and angel family vacations are AWESOME.

A/N: Getting chapters up more quickly would be easier if I could actually get online… And they keep getting too long! I actually had to rush bits because it could be weeks before I get online again, and I didn't want to wait.

Seven - Dreamweaver

Castiel proves to be a challenge.

Not deliberately; she can tell that the angel is earnest about learning how to properly care for his daughter. He answers her questions honestly, if somewhat guardedly, and he listens to her advice with an intensity of focus that makes her uncomfortable. He tells her how he came to be the mother of a Nephil, speaking with a detachment she suspects hides deep emotional trauma (no wonder Bobby had thought her counseling skills might come in handy; Castiel could be a meltdown waiting to happen.) He seldom asks questions, and at first Jody thinks it's because of a natural reticence. Then she realizes that he simply has no clue what to ask. And when he does finally venture a question, they seem so obvious that she would have thought even the newest, most naïve parents would know the answer.

He acts as if this is something so far beyond him that he has no hope of ever understanding. He's going to blunder his way through parenthood and hope that, somehow, Danielle will emerge from the experience relatively unscathed. Well… it seems to be working for him so far.

Still… It all helps to drive home the fact that Castiel isn't human.

She's teaching a being who is literally 'older than dirt', and he's hanging on to her every word as if she were some wise sage, rather than an ephemeral being he'll have forgotten centuries from now.

Jody really needs a drink.

The crash course in baby care finally comes to a halt when Jody catches Castiel jerking his head back, as if he'd caught himself about to nod off. When she asks him if he wants to stop for now and take a nap, he frowns and shakes his head, but she can see his eyelids drooping. "It's okay to be exhausted," Jody tells him. He gives her a mutinous look, so she nods towards the Nephil, tucked up beneath the trench coat. "You should try to sleep whenever she does." Before he can protest, Jody stands and stretches. By the time she's done, Castiel is curled into the corner of the couch, lightly snoring.

Not wanting to disturb him, Jody heads outside. She figured Dean wouldn't be far behind her, and wasn't surprised when he joined her on the porch a few minutes later, two opened bottles of beer dangling from his fingers. Jody gratefully accepts the offering.

"So, what's the verdict with 'Mama Cas'?" Dean asks, after taking a sip of his own beer. "Is he hopeless?"

Jody considers the beer in her hand a moment before answering. "Considering the fact that he's from a species that has no parental instinct whatsoever, and that the baby was unexpected, I think he's doing rather well. Danielle seems to be healthy, and he's willing to learn how to take care of her - even if he doesn't understand why he has to do certain things. Like talking to her, for example; he doesn't see the need to talk to her, since she doesn't understand him anyway."

"Huh." Dean ponders this. "Never really thought about that; yeah, he doesn't say much to her beyond a polite greeting when he wakes up, or to tell her not to chew on his wings. Cas ain't much of a talker, anyway."

"I'm going to bring over some children's books tomorrow - hope you don't mind Dr. Seuss. Maybe you can get him to read them to her?"

Dean huffs. "Maybe." Then he grins. "I'm tryin' to imagine Cas reading a kid's book. I'm sure that'll go really well."

"So long as he's talking to her, does it matter?"

Dean says he supposes not. Then he sighs. "I just… I wish he was handling this better. Be more motherly."

"He's more like an animal mother, one that cares for its young as long as necessary and doesn't give them another thought once they're old enough to fend for themselves." Castiel's whole attitude towards parenting had reminded her of the cats and dogs she'd had growing up. It had made her wince a little, but then, not human.

"It doesn't feel right," Dean blurts out. "She has emotions like a human; he's said so himself. She needs more than… attachment. I get that he's not wired for this, really I do, it's just…" He waves his arm around emphatically, sloshing his beer. "She deserves more."

"And she has you to give it to her. And Sam, and, Hell, even Bobby sounded fond of her over the phone." Which had gone a long way towards persuading her to do this favor to Bobby. "He's very lucky to have friends like you."

"Yeah…" Dean runs his fingers through his hair. "We had a bit of a… falling out, recently. He betrayed our trust, and we… well, we didn't part friends."

"By 'falling out,' do you mean a little misunderstanding, or…?"

"Think 'apocalyptic.' He can't go through with it now, but he still doesn't see what he's doing is wrong."

Jody wonders about Castiel's side of the story. During their talk, Jody had come away with the feeling that Castiel loyalty wasn't just a word to him; it was an integral part of his being, like breathing was for a human. And his loyalty was focused on Dean. She couldn't imagine Castiel recklessly endangering him without good reason.

"He needs your full support."

"I'm doing everything I can to help -" Dean begins.

"Dean, he nearly died delivering her. I don't know anything about angelic pregnancy, but he obviously should have received some sort of pre-natal care. And probably post-natal, too." It frustrates her to see someone suffering like this and be helpless to do anything about it. "He needs you to be there for him, one hundred percent."

"He tell you that?" Dean looks wounded at the thought that Castiel had trusted her with this information, but not him.

"No… but it was pretty easy to read between the lines. It sounds like it literally takes a village to raise an angel child, and he has to take on all that responsibility alone. Mostly alone," she hastily amends.

"I'm amazed he's even making the effort," Dean admits. "In his place, any other angel would have killed her. Hell, he almost did kill her, and I don't understand why he didn't. Much as I hate to say it, he had every reason to."

Jody can make a guess… it was painfully obvious, after her talk with the angel. Castiel fought against hardwired instinct because she's Dean's child. Whatever happened between them, the angel still trusts Dean.

"I won't abandon them, Jody. What happened between us… I won't let my emotions get in the way of taking care of family." He's silent for a long moment. "Thank you," Dean says finally.

"For what? Helping?" Jody shrugs it off. "I know how scary it can be, being a new mother. I don't mind helping out someone in need."

"Well, that… and for not freaking out about Danielle. I know she's not exactly a pretty baby."

"But she's still a baby, and she still deserves the best care she can receive. Besides… if I'd had the choice between a baby with tentacles, or a baby with poopy diapers… I'd've picked the tentacled baby."

They settle in to an easy rapport after that. Jody even lets him get away with calling her by name, rather than keep addressing her as Sheriff. She manages to weasel out of him his own feelings towards his unexpected parenthood, and is pleased that Dean not only wants to be a father, he already has some experience.

But this will only work if he can get past whatever had ruined their friendship, because there's no way that Mama Cas… Oh, Hell

She smacks him upside the head. "Sonuvabitch, Dean! 'Mama Cas'? You had to say it, didn't you? Now I can't not think of him that way!"

~oOo~

After about an hour, Dean goes off to order pizza, his treat for helping out (never mind that the price of one pizza didn't exactly offset the cost of the burgers Castiel had scarfed down). He looks disgusted by her choice of a Hawaiian pizza, and pointedly orders a meat-lovers for himself, as well as three other pies with a variety of toppings for Castiel to try.

Jody raises her eyebrow. "He really needs three pizzas?"

Dean snorts. "He could probably eat twice that, and still be hungry. I'm only splurging tonight because one of his brothers is less of a dick than I thought and is gonna help me keep Cas properly fed."

They wait outside for the pizza, not wanting to let a stranger inside Castiel's safe haven.

Dean's telling her about some of the hunts he's been on, keeping to the more humorous stories in an effort to either shield her or keep her from getting nightmares. She particularly loves the story about the parallel universe and having to play at being actors. Dean's deep into a story about a 'lucky' rabbit's foot when there's the sound of a vehicle coming up the drive.

"Must be the pizza man," Dean says, heading towards the car.

His words summoned up a raging whirlwind of flaring coat, wild hair, and burning blue eyes. Jody gapes at the previously docile angel, who had literally appeared out of nowhere, who is now bringing the wrath of God down upon an acne-scarred teenager who looks about to wet himself.

Castiel is yelling something about a baby-sitter and spanking, and when he gives a flick of his hand, a blade slips out of his coat sleeve and into his palm. Dean skids to a stop between the angel and the pizza man, his hand closing over Castiel's wrist before the angel can do anything drastic.

"Cas, no, that's not why he's here! This isn't a porno! No smiting the pizza man!"

Jody decides she doesn't want to know. Otherwise, as the Law, she might have to get involved.

After whacking Dean for letting an angel watch pornography, of course. She's pretty sure there's a special Hell for that.

The delivery man manages to escape unscathed, with a big tip (but probably not big enough to make up for being threatened by a wild-eyed crazy man with a sword in one hand and a tentacle monster baby in the other.)

Jody rather likes getting both dinner and entertainment out of this. It's much nicer than a microwave dinner alone in front of the TV.

The rest of the evening passes uneventfully. They sit around the coffee table in the living room, the TV tuned to the evening news. Castiel had protested, preferring to watch cartoons, and Dean had to show him that the 'pony show' wasn't on before Castiel had lapsed into sullen silence.

Dean pulls Danielle into his lap, and she burbles happily and snuggles against him. Once she's settled, she resumes watching Jody with that solemn gaze all babies have. She extends one tentacle towards Jody, lightly brushing her arm with a velvet-soft tip. Like she's seen Dean do, Jody offers her fingertips, letting Danielle twine the flexible limb through her fingers. Castiel tenses, but permits the touch. She smiles softly, and after a moment the tentacle withdraws to wrap around Dean's torso.

Now that they're all settled, (and holy shit, can Castiel put away pizza!) Jody decides to bring up a curious incident that had crossed her desk the other night.

"Something happened a couple nights ago that might be right up your alley. A McDonalds in Sioux Falls was leveled. News is reporting it as a gas leak, but that doesn't explain why the crew and customers found themselves suddenly transported outside the city limits before it blew. Any thoughts?"

Before Dean can answer, Castiel says sheepishly, "I'm the one responsible." When they both turn to look at him, he ducks his head and continues, "I craved large quantities of food before Danielle was born, and that is where I ended up. I was unaware of what was happening, so I did not think to leave and save the building from destruction."

"Don't worry, Castiel, no one was hurt," Jody assures him. "You did good."

"My kid was born in a McDonalds?!"

"I am very sorry, Dean. Had I known what was happening, I would have made certain Danielle was born in the Impala."

The slice of pizza Dean had been bringing to his mouth drops with a thud.

"Dude… are you making a joke?" Dean asks incredulously.

Castiel smiles slowly. "I know you would not have wanted her born in your car; even you would not have been able to repair it after. But Sam often thinks that any children you have would be born in the back seat of the Impala. Where they were conceived."

Dean stares. "Don't read Sam's thoughts anymore. It sounds like scary things go on in that big brain of his. Hey, greedy-guts, you're eating Jody's pizza."

Jody glances down at the table and realizes her pizza box has somehow migrated in front of Castiel.

Castiel freezes, cheeks pouched out from his mouthful, cheese dribbling down his chin. "I'm sorry," Castiel says apologetically, replacing the half-eaten piece in the box and sliding it over to Jody. "I'm still hungry."

He's so pitifully thin, and looks so genuinely contrite, that Jody slides the box back towards him. "It's okay, I was done anyway. Help yourself."

He rewards her with that small smile and proceeds to demolish the Hawaiian pizza. Two pieces from finishing, he looks up and says, "This is my favorite."

"Oh, Cas," Dean heaves a long-suffering sigh. "Haven't I taught you anything?"

Castiel ignores him in favor of inhaling the last couple pieces.

Their peaceful dinner is interrupted when Dean's cell rings. Dean talks to Sam for a few minutes, and years of interrogation tell Jody that Dean is being careful how he talks to his brother, to keep from revealing too much (to her? Or to Castiel?) They're about to disconnect when Danielle suddenly jerks to attention.

"Peep?"

Her gaze darts around frantically, and when she fails to find what she's looking for, she grows louder. Danielle's eyes roll around wildly, and her piping noises become more frantic.

"What's wrong with her?" Dean stares down at his daughter worriedly.

"She hears Sam's voice," Castiel explains. "She's looking for him. She's very distressed that he's not here." Danielle isn't the only one who's distressed, judging from the look on Castiel's face. "I don't know how to make her understand that Sam will be gone for a few days."

"Let him talk to her," Jody suggests. "She still won't understand, but it'll do her some good to hear his voice, especially if she's that attached to him."

Dean obligingly holds the phone close to Danielle, calling, "Talk to your niece, Aunt Sammy, she misses you!"

They can hear Sam's voice over the speaker, barely audible, but higher in pitch than normal as he talks to the baby. When he stops speaking, Danielle responds with various noises, and they can hear Sam's delighted, tinny laughter over the line. This goes on for almost ten minutes, finally ending when Danielle yawns and wiggles her limbs at Castiel. Dean grins and tells Sam he'd been forgotten in favor of her before-bed bottle.

Jody watches Castiel go about this still-new ritual, and quickly realizes he doesn't need any supervision. He may be new to the whole parenting gig, but he handles everything with great care, from preparing the bottle to cradling the blanket-wrapped Danielle in a very stable position in his arms while she drinks. When Danielle is busy sucking away, Castiel looks up at Jody nervously, as if to ask if he's doing all right. She gives him an encouraging smile, and he relaxes.

As fast as he learns, Jody's certain he'll be okay.

"Dean, we're getting low on formula," Castiel says anxiously.

"No problem, I'll just run into town -"

"No, Dean… you can't just leave…I can't be alone!" Castiel chokes out, his body jolting upright.

It's the first time she's seen the angel afraid. Danielle pipes shrilly in response to her parent's terror.

"She needs food, Cas. I won't be gone long - an hour, at most."

Castiel looks about ready to have a panic attack.

"You can ask me, you know," Jody says wryly. When Dean and Castiel both turn to look at her blankly, she says, "To pick up formula. I can bring it by tomorrow." She's a little amazed by their surprise - are they not used to having people offer to help them?

"Thank you," Castiel says, his face smoothing back into that inscrutable expression, but Jody can see the relief in his eyes.

"Thanks," Dean echoes. "He's still a little… nervous about being left by himself."

Nervous, Jody thinks, is putting it mildly.

Soothed, Castiel yawns, stretches… and flops across the couch, his head in Dean's lap. "Dude, what -?" Castiel paws at the cushions and wriggles until he's settled as deeply into the couch as he can get, then sighs and closes his eyes, Danielle clutched tight to him. Dean rolls his eyes.

"He's usually a lot more badass than this," Dean says sheepishly. "This cuddly side of his came with the baby."

Jody hides a smile. The angel has let his guard down completely, his body no longer tense, his face free of worry lines. He still looks exhausted, and Jody knows from experience that that's not going go away any time soon. Danielle, curled against his chest and beneath his hand, looks content. The three of them make an adorable picture, but she won't tell Dean that. "I don't know what he did to make you not trust him," she says at last, "but he sure trusts you. Completely."

"Guess so," Dean says, frowning.

Jody hopes that they can work out whatever it is, because more than any other baby Jody has known, Danielle needs both of her parents. As a hybrid, she'll benefit best from having family of each species helping to raise her.

Dean struggles to extricate himself from Castiel, but the angel growls and presses closer to Dean. There's a peculiar rustling, and Dean sighs in resignation. "Yeah, I'm not going anywhere tonight. When Cas gets his wings out, he's usually not going to move again until morning."

"His wings? So he does have them?" Jody studies the sleeping angel, but she doesn't see any sign of wings. Thought the shadow falling over the two of them looks deeper than it should be.

"They're invisible; on another plane, or something, Cas says. I can feel them, though, and he's got one wrapped around himself and Dani - that's why she looks kinda squished - and he's got the arch covering his head and pinning down my legs. I'm not allowed to move once they're asleep," Dean says wryly. "Not if I don't want to be impaled, anyway."

Despite his light tone, she suspects he's not actually joking.

"So… you gonna tell me how you ended up with an angel in your lap and a tentacled baby?"

"It's a long story," Dean protests.

"Not like you're going anywhere," Jody smirks, and takes a sip of her beer. "And tomorrow's my day off, so I'm in no hurry to leave."

Dean's silent for such a long time that Jody begins to wonder if it was too personal, and she's about to tell him he doesn't have to say anything, when he clears his throat and begins, "It all started with my parents…" It all comes pouring out: His mother's deal with a demon to save his father; the yellow-eyed demon who'd killed his mother and changed Sam; the years-long quest to hunt the demon, which had resulted in Sam's death and Dean selling his soul; dying, going to Hell, and being rescued and resurrected by Castiel… At this point he stops and gazes down at the sleeping angel, his expression unreadable. He continues the tale, taking her through the Apocalypse and beyond, and finally concluding with how he came to be sitting on Bobby's couch with an angel's head in his lap and a strange little infant who's obviously already very important to him.

It's an incredible tale, and if the proof wasn't laying sprawled across the couch, Jody would have thought Dean was delusional. Or drunk, anyway. It's also not the whole story; Dean hasn't mentioned what had happened between him and Castiel to strain their relationship, but Jody's not going to press the issue.

"Huh," Dean says. "I think that's the first time I've actually told anyone the whole story. Kinda feels good to share it with someone who won't lock me in a padded cell."

"Don't have access to a padded one; could get you a stay in a jail cell. Again." Jody smirks.

Jody stays until Dean finally settles back into the couch cushion, looking uncomfortable but resigned. When she'd asked if she could get him anything to make him more comfortable, he'd assured he'd slept worse, and had drifted off sometime during the local news. Jody decides it's time to take her leave, and resists the urge to find a blanket to cover the sleepers with - Castiel would probably misconstrue it as an attack on his infant.

She gives them one last look before heading out the door, and sees Castiel's free hand is now draped over Dean's knee, and he's snuggled closer to Dean's stomach. The faith he places in Dean, that he'll keep Castiel and Danielle safe while he sleeps, is touching.

She wonders how Dean has no idea that Castiel loves him.

~oOo~

It's Dean's favorite dream: the strip club with its lurid posters, the stage with the strippers dressed as sexy versions of whatever monster they happen to be hunting that week, the speakers blasting "Cherry Pie" on an endless loop. This time around the girls, a blond and a dusky-skinned brunette, are strangely domestic, with one wearing a barely there French maid's outfit and brandishing a feather duster, and the other in just an apron, a string of pearls, and stiletto heels that add half a foot to her height.

Dean leans back into his comfortable chair, content for now to watch the girl-on-girl action. Soon enough, they'll be begging for him to join in.

"Peep?"

"I see… you associate pie with acts of debauchery."

Castiel is sitting on the seat next to him, Danielle on his lap. They're both staring at the gyrating strippers with rapt fascination.

Well, this is a new twist to the dream. Dean's not particularly thrilled with it. Girl-on-girl porn is not an experience he wants to share with his naïve angel and his newborn daughter there to judge him.

"Is this why you enjoy pie so much?"

It takes Dean a moment to realize Castiel is referring to the stripper with the apron, who has somehow produced a pie which she is now sharing with the maid. They've managed to make the simple act of eating into something obscene, and Dean's missing it. "Dude, no! I don't have sexual feelings for pie!" Shit. He's not going to be able to eat pie again, is he? If he does, Castiel will give him That Look. "Are you actually here?"

Castiel turns to Dean. "I sensed that Danielle was about to dreamwalk. I chose to accompany her to keep her out of danger."

"So she can just stroll into my dreams now? They're not usually a safe place for a baby." Not to mention the fact that having them here is making him feel guilty as hell, like he's been caught cheating.

"She's not doing it purposely," Castiel says apologetically. "Her powers are still developing, and she has no control yet. I guided her into yours, because you were within her range, and I didn't want her in a stranger's subconscious. Would you prefer she end up in someone else's dreams?"

Now that Dean thinks about it, he realizes he doesn't like the thought of some strange person waking up and thinking Dani is some sort of nightmare creature. Better she come into his dreams.

The strippers have reached the 'heavy petting' stage of Dean's dream, and instead of being turned on, Dean's horrified. His daughter is way too young to be seeing this! He makes an effort to shield her, but it turns out that covering the eyes of someone who has them all over her body is an exercise in futility. "Okay, Cas… how do we get outta here? She really doesn't need to be seeing this." He looks over at Cas, who is watching the kissing women with his head cocked, brow furrowed in confusion. "Neither do you, for that matter," Dean says, waving his hand in front of Cas' face to get his attention.

"Oh," is all Castiel says. He flicks his hand, and suddenly they're on a pier overlooking a calm lake surrounded by a lush forest. The sun is either rising or setting, tingeing everything reddish-orange, and there's a cool breeze rustling through the leaves. Dean recognizes the peaceful setting as the one where Castiel had come to him when he'd made his first attempt to defy Heaven.

At the sight of all that water, Danielle squeals and struggles to break free of Castiel's grip.

"Oh, no you don't," Dean says. "We let you loose in there, we'll never see you again."

Castiel looks amused. "It's a dream, Dean. No matter how far out she swims, she'll always be within reach. And the water is perfectly safe; I will not let you have nightmares in my daughter's presence." With that, he lowers her into the water, and she immediately begins propelling herself across the lake, making sounds that are a cross between blowing raspberries and going 'putputput'. She sounds a bit like a motorboat with engine problems.

And Castiel is right about Danielle's inability to get too far; whenever it looks like she's dwindling in the distance, all Dean has to do is look down, and there she is, swimming around the pier beneath them.

Dean grins at her obvious enjoyment. "You sure she's not half fish?" Unlike the awkward flopping about she does on land, her movement through the water is mostly graceful.

"She definitely favors my sea aspect," Castiel muses. "It will be fascinating to see what she will grow into."

Castiel's interest in Danielle's future is promising, and Dean hides a victorious grin. Dani will win Cas over, Dean's sure of it. He turns to Cas to make a snarky comment, but the words die in his throat at the sight of the massive black shapes curving up above Castiel's shoulders before sweeping down around him like a glossy cloak.

He can see Castiel's wings.

Even half-furled as they are, Dean can tell they'll be enormous when fully spread, with primary feathers easily as long as Dean is tall. In color they're an iridescent black, currently catching and reflecting back the reds and oranges of the sky.

Dean can't help it; he reaches towards the leading edge of the closest one, and Castiel obligingly extends it towards him. Beneath his fingers the feathers feel incredibly soft and flexible, though Dean bets they're as strong as steel, or even diamond. They look like bird feathers, except they're dotted with peculiar nodules that almost look like tumorous growths - until Dean touches one and it slits open, revealing a pupilless eye the color of amethyst. Dean jerks back in surprise. Right. Eyes. Danielle is covered in them because Castiel is.

Nimble fingers find the arch of Castiel's wing, feeling the bone beneath the flesh. Although the wing seems to be articulated like a bird's, he thinks he can feel multiple joints along the 'arm' bones, meaning the wing is likely far more flexible than it appears.

Castiel is watching him with his head tilted, obviously curious what Dean's verdict is going to be. "These are awesome, Cas!"

"Thank you," Castiel says gravely.

Dean can't seem to pull his fingers away, and from the way Castiel arches his wing into the touch, he obviously enjoys the caress. He probes the frayed edges of the primaries, which he assumes was caused by Danielle in her search for a chew toy, and lingers over a batch of feathers along the leading edge that feel brittle, and crumble beneath his touch. "Shit, Cas… I didn't mean…" He jerks his hand away.

Castiel shrugs, his expression neutral. "Damage from holy fire is slow to heal. The feathers will molt soon enough."

Dean feels sick. "Holy fire? You mean, we did this when we trapped you?" Suddenly, his comments about deep-frying angels are no longer so funny.

"No permanent damage was done." His voice is flat, reminding Dean of how he'd sounded when they first met. Yeah… maybe there isn't any permanent physical damage, but Dean guesses he's not going to get over being trapped by people he trusts any time soon.

Dean turns away, feeling a little surge of guilt. Even though he feels justified in trapping the angel, it still bothers him that he'd felt he had to. Because of this, he fails to notice when Castiel gives a flick of his wing -

- and suddenly Dean finds himself in the water, gasping and sputtering indignantly. Danielle is immediately there, weaving around his thrashing limbs and giving off that 'laughter' vibe.

"What the Hell, Cas? My clothes - !" It's a stupid thing to worry about, he knows, since this is a dream and he could probably comfortably swim in a tuxedo, top hat, and monocle, but it just isn't right. He can imagine that he feels his soaked jacket and jeans dragging him down into the (admittedly shallow) depths of the lake.

"This is your dream, Dean. Just picture yourself in swimming attire, and you will be wearing it."

Oh. Right. Dean thinks 'swim trunks' and when he looks down, his clothes are gone.

Dean wonders if he can dream up a few beach bunnies as easily. But he decides now isn't the time for it, since his two-day-old daughter is still swimming around him, trying to tug him around as though he were her stuffed octopus.

"Just remember that isn't real water," Castiel says, as Danielle's tugs get more insistent, "and you will be able to breath in it."

Dean sinks downward, into the depths of the lake. Despite the depth, the water is crystal clear, and the bottom is clean white sand that would be more at home in ocean shallows. Fish of various species dodge through a forest of seaweed: Dean recognizes bass, bluegill, and pike from childhood fishing expeditions with Bobby, coexisting with colorful schools that look like they come straight out of Finding Nemo. Danielle follows one school, then another, looking completely at home with the fish.

Dean settles against the bottom and just watches. As long as he doesn't think about being underwater, he forgets that he shouldn't be able to breathe. He's completely comfortable, able to enjoy his daughter's antics. A glance upward shows Castiel is laying on his belly along the dock, head hanging over to watch. His wings are spread and rest on the water's surface, all eyes open and fixed on Danielle. It's… eerie, and a little nauseating, but it's Cas.

He's not sure how long he watches his daughter when something changes. The water shivers and turns solid around him, and he begins to rise upward. Danielle seems to have disappeared completely.

He seems to be encased in a massive soap bubble, which slowly drifts upward until it breaks the surface of the lake. He glances downward, towards his feet, and is suddenly distracted by a far more pressing issue: he's wearing lacy pink panties. The Hell?!

He scrabbles around, unable to find purchase against the bubble's slick surface, and ends up crouching in the curved bowl of the bottom, hands braced against the sides. He orients on Castiel, who's now standing with wings spread, when his attention is caught by the sky.

The sun has set, revealing a sky that looks like something out of Star Trek, if it had had an unlimited budget: millions of stars hang against the velvety blackness of space, misty, multi-color nebulas span the sky from horizon to horizon, and lush planets hang impossibly close, making Dean feel as if he can reach out and touch them.

Wow. Dean's never dreamed a sky like this before; in comparison, his previous dreams seemed depressingly mundane.

"Cas, what's going on?" Dean pokes at the bubble, which flexes under the pressure but doesn't burst. A smaller bubble floats up next to his, with Danielle clinging to the outside. Her downy wings flop around wildly, sending her rotating until she's hanging upside down. She seems utterly delighted by this, because she continues her uncoordinated flapping to keep herself spinning.

Castiel shuffles nervously. "I was trying something out. I… I want to be more creative. For Danielle's sake. I do not want her to be like an angel, Dean. But if you don't like it, I'll undo it."

Bubbles wouldn't have been Dean's first choice, but Castiel is trying. If Castiel wants to change for Danielle's sake, who is Dean to discourage that?

"It's okay, Cas… Experiment all you want. Just… don't put me in panties anymore, okay?"

"Your attire isn't my doing," Castiel says. "It is entirely the fault of your subconscious." He tilts his head, obviously wondering why Dean would choose such an outfit. Dean's kinda wondering that himself.

"Oh." Now that he's examining them more closely, he recognizes them as Rhonda Hurley's panties. Huh… maybe he'd liked them more than he thought. "So, uh, why the bubbles?"

"I want to show you something." With that, Castiel gives a might flap of his wings, sending Dean and Danielle drifting upward. As the ground drops away at an alarming rate, taking Dean's stomach with it, Dean curls into a fetal position, suddenly afraid that the previously-impenetrable bubble will pop and send him drifting off into space.

Beside him, Danielle's bubble bumps into his, adhering to it like a motorcycle sidecar. She makes a disappointed peep that she can't spin around anymore.

Castiel appears beside them, startling Dean. For the first time, he's actually seeing the angel fly, and it looks nowhere near as awkward as Dean had expected. Even clad in a human body, which isn't designed for flight, Castiel is graceful. His movements are as fluid in the air as Danielle's are in water. Perhaps because he has an audience, he executes a tight barrel roll, then breaks off into a dive that makes Dean's heart jump into his throat. He pulls up, wheels, spins, flies backwards… it's a dizzying display of prowess, and Dean has to admit he's impressed. Danielle watches in awestruck fascination.

When one wingtip grazes the edge of Dean's bubble, he cries out in protest.

"You're quite safe, Dean," Castiel says softly, backwinging to hover in the air in front of Dean. "The bubble will not burst, and even if it did, this is a dream. You would be able to breath here as well as you could under water, and you would not fall."

Dean finds that hard to believe. This is his dream, after all, and if he believes it can happen, then it can, right? "But what if I do fall?"

"Then I would catch you." Castiel sounds so confidant of this that Dean finds himself relaxing. Dean uncurls and risks a look downward (or what he assumes is down; it's below his feet, anyway). The lake is long gone; all there is now is space. It actually makes him calmer, now that there is no longer any sense of height.

Castiel hangs suspended before him, and as Dean watches, his wings close and shrivel. As they vanish, however, something else erupts out of Castiel's back, transforming the angel into a being of sound and fury, of fire and pure light. He wonders if he should be shutting his eyes, but they don't seem to be boiling out of their sockets, don't even hurt. Still Dean has to squint, and deep within the seething heart, he glimpses something utterly alien, something with wings and antlers and tentacles. It should be bizarre, but somehow, it works.

It's no wonder a glimpse of Castiel had inspired Lovecraft to write of ancient, alien gods that drive men mad. There's nothing human about the angel.

Abruptly, the light dims, leaving the trench coated Castiel hanging between two glorious, gleaming appendages of blue-white light.

They resemble wings by shape only; they look like they're made of shards of glass, or prisms, and sparks of light, and they trail across the heavens like the tail of a comet. They're vast, filling the star-studded sky, yet somehow remain perfectly in proportion to Cas.

Dean blinks, dazzled by what he had seen. "You have another set of wings?" Dean has trouble taking them in; they're just so huge, and they leave a blurry after-image after the slightest movement.

"I have two pairs of wings, yes."

"Why have I only ever seen the one?"

"My other pair are on a plane that intersects your own, which is why they can be seen as light or shadow. But these… not even the rare human with the ability to see true forms can see these. These wings are meant for Heaven." They sweep downward, and the sky seems to warp and ripple in their wake. Dean almost expects to be blown across the galaxy, but the bubbles bob along behind Castiel, as though tethered. "We're almost there - look."

Below him is all clouds green and brown, blue and gold and colors he has no name for, with stars twinkling in their depths. Brown, serpentine structures rear across an endless sky of deep green. Dean suddenly wishes he had more than a GED, because it's the kind of thing he suspects people would wax poetic about. It's magnificent. "Cas… is this Heaven?" Dean breathes.

"On your plane of existence, it's known as the Eagle Nebula. Those columns are called the Pillars of Creation. Humans have no idea how right they are." He smiles shyly at Dean, and says softly. "This is where I was created. Or born, if you prefer."

The sight is awe-inspiring, and Dean is beyond words. "It's beautiful, Cas," he finally manages. Inadequate, perhaps, but it's the best he can do. Briefly, he wishes Sam were here to geek out over this, then changes his mind. He wants this moment to belong only to him and Danielle and Cas.

And then Dean wonders if he should even be there at all. Castiel doesn't dream, and therefore has no dreamscape he can manipulate; Dean may merely be the means by which Castiel can share his heritage with Danielle. Suddenly, he feels like a third wheel in a private family moment.

"I think… I think it's great that you shared this with Dani. Since she'll never see it in person, I mean." Dean forces a smile, not wanting to be the one to ruin the moment.

Castiel tilts his head, as if sensing Dean's gloom. "I didn't do this just for Danielle's sake." Castiel smiles. "I wanted to share it with you, too." He holds out his hand, through the bubble, and Dean takes it. "Let me show you."

~tbc~

Look up the Eagle Nebula in Google Images. It's gorgeous!

I apologize to anyone who wanted to know what happened between Jody and Cas. I considered writing it, but it basically would have been a rehash of angel reproduction, followed by me showing off that I know nothing about children. Trust me, it's better this way.

Also… much to my annoyance, a couple weeks ago I had the idea for another twisted mpreg. So much for my vow that I will never write one, EVER. *headdesk* This one involves crazy!Cas from the end of season 7, and a Nephil that looks like a car-sized, glittery pink puffball with wings. Because I'm demented like that, apparently…