Warnings: Very light reference to Purgatory
Spoilers: Vague reference to the overarching plot of Season 8
A/N: So, this is a thing I've noticed now that I've started writing in the Supernatural fandom. The characters refer to each other by name all the time in casual conversation so now my dialogue looks weird if I don't say Dean or Sam or Cas every time another character speaks, but all my writing professors were like NEVER DO THIS and so now both ways look weird/don't sound right. Does anyone else have this problem? /How do you deal with it?

Source picture: art/can-i-keep-them- 332882373

The gates to hell have been permanently shut, and Sam settles down in blandsville suburbia, and he has a girlfriend probably soon to be fiancé, and they live in a two bedroom house on a quiet street, and the extra bedroom is full of things Sam's been collecting at yard sales, because he finally has a permanent home that lets him collect stuff, and Dean teases him about one day being on hoarders, and Sam promises to clean the room out whenever Cas and Dean want to visit and things aren't normal, but they're all right.

Dean doesn't know what to do besides hunt, and even though they're mostly down to spirits and the occasional vampire or werewolf, they do enough damage that Dean keeps fighting. Cas fights with him, having taken to the hunting lifestyle, and some days are rough and Dean stumbles back to their motel room bloody and aching and thinking he's getting too old for this.

And then there are lazy days like today. They don't have a hunt lined up, and it's nice out so Dean is sitting in the motel room by the window, window open, and scrolling through local news sites.

Cas is out on a walk, interacting with the townspeople to see if they've noticed anything weird happening.

Dean gets bored after about ten minutes so he gets up and kicks a hacky sack about. He gets 15 in a row and then he sits down and reads another article. He gets up, gets 21 hits in a row, sits back down.

The next time he gets up he paces the small room before going to the next article. Dean's not good at sitting still. Next time, Dean's going on the walk, and Cas is going to cruise Google.

Dean's skimming the town's history when Cas comes back.

He's holding a box full of kittens.

Dean shakes his head, rubs his eyes and looks again.

Nope, not dreaming. There is an angel of the Lord standing in the doorway to his motel room, clutching a cardboard box that has 'Take us home' scrawled on the side.

"Oh no," Dean says.

Cas's face crumples and one of the kittens pokes its head out and paws at Cas's tie. "They needed a place to live."

There have to be half a dozen of them, and they're all different colors and meowing, and when Cas shuts the door, two of the kittens jump out of the box and start nuzzling Cas's pant leg.

"What are we going to do with kittens?" Dean asks.

Cas cradles the box against his chest and leans over so one of the kittens can rub its face against his cheek. "We are going to love them, Dean."

Dean shakes his head, but Cas doesn't notice, too busy bringing the kittens over to the bed. He ignores the fact that Dean hasn't made it and plops down and sets the box down beside him, and the kittens clamor over each other to get out of the box.

They carefully meander around the bed, jumping back every time they encounter a fold of fabric. One of them, a white kitten with a brown spot on one of her front legs climbs into Cas's lap and curls up.

Dean can see Cas's heart melting as the kittens cuddle him, and he doesn't know what to do. First of all, cats go with witches not hunters. Second of all, Dean doesn't do fluffy cuddly things. Third of all, there's a strict no cats in the Impala rule.

"Cas," Dean stops himself and sighs, because he doesn't know how to break it to him that they can't keep all of these kittens. It's just not practical. They're on the road or in motel rooms or fighting spirits, and that's no life for an animal. Besides, what if they get stranded and don't have access to cat food? What then?

All of Dean's well-crafted arguments die when he looks up at Cas. He's got the white kitten cupped in his hands, and they're rubbing noses, and how can Dean say no to that?

"I'm going for a walk," Dean decides, abruptly getting to his feet.

Cas doesn't notice.

"We can't keep them," Dean says as he throws the door open. He's careful to start the sentence before he gets inside and sees Cas, and he's grateful for his forethought, because Cas is sitting on the bed, surrounded by kittens, the happiest Dean has ever seen.

"But Dean," Cas's bottom lip wobbles. "They were living in a box, Dean. A box on the side of the road. They were abandoned, and now they think they have a home. We can't leave them."

The white kitten who is nestled in the crook of Cas's elbow pries open an eye to send Dean a look of silent judgment.

"I know, man, but," Dean pauses, an idea coming to him. "Jamie's a cat kind of girl, right?"

"I do not understand," Cas says. "What does Sam's girlfriend have to do with our cats?"

Dean grins and starts scooping up cats and putting them into the box. "Can you fly us and the cats to Sam's?"

"They're so cute!" Jamie squeals. She rushes to grab the box from Cas, and she puts it on the kitchen table and starts petting as many kittens as she can at once. "And they were left on the side of the road? How could anyone do that?" She lifts up a kitten and holds it so close to Dean's face his eyes cross. "Do you see these eyes? How could you just abandon them? You were right to bring them here. There's plenty of space in the house for them."

Dean nods, pleased that he's found a solution that appeases Cas and will piss off Sam. Speaking of, they should probably leave before Sam gets home from work and realizes Dean's just given his wife a box of kittens.

"Well, glad you agree," Dean says. He turns to Cas. "You ready to go? If there's nothing spooky in town then we should start driving."

Cas casts a mournful look back at the box. The white kitten pokes its head out and scrambles over the edge, and it gets to the end of the table and just looks at Cas, it's eyes wide and wanting, and Dean knows what Cas is going to ask before he asks it.

"Can't we keep just one?" Cas starts to reach a hand out towards the kitten, but then he pauses and looks at Dean like he can't bear to hold the kitten and then be told he can't keep it.

"Cas," Dean says, but he knows he's lost. Really, he'd lost the moment Cas burst into the room with a box of kittens.

"I'll protect him," Cas promises and he scoops the kitten up like he also knows Dean's given in. "I'll feed him and keep him from scratching up the Impala, and I won't let anything bad happen to him."

Dean gives it one last shot. "Cas, a life on the road is no life for a kitten. We're going to be moving from place to place. He's going to be cooped up in a car or a shitty motel room. Why would you want that for him?"

Cas regards Dean with sudden intensity. "You enjoy that life, and I enjoy that life. Why would our kitten not?"

Our kitten. Yep, Dean's lost. 100%, no question about it, Cas wins, Dean loses, they now have a kitten.

And then Sam comes home.

"Hey Jamie! How," Sam trails off as he takes in the living room, first that Cas and Dean are there and then all the kittens tugging at loose threads in the tablecloth. "Oh no."

Jamie picks up a sleek black kitten and rushes over to Sam with it. "Aren't they adorable?" She thrusts the kitten into his face, and Dean laughs because this was him about five minutes ago, but now he's down to only one kitten.

"Cas brought them," Jamie says as Sam glares at Dean like this is his fault. Which it's totally not. It's Cas's. "He found them by the side of the road, and he brought them to us, because we have a home so we can take care of them."

She turns one of Sam's hands palms up and eases the kitten into it. "Pet him and you'll fall in love. I already have."

"I've got one too," Dean says, jerking his thumb towards the kitten Cas is holding. "Which reminds me, Cas and I should probably head back to get some food for the kitten. It was good seeing you Jamie. Sam." Dean tries really hard not to smirk. He fails.

"Are you sure we can only have one?" Cas asks.


'You are dead to me,' Sam mouths as Jamie envelopes Dean in a giant hug. Dean just grins and gives Jamie a pat on the back.

"Let us know how the kittens are doing," Dean says. "Send us pictures or whatever."

Sam glares.

When Cas and Dean get back their motel Dean packs up while Cas pets the kittens and croons to it in Enochian which is weird, but the entire situation is weird so Dean just keeps his mouth shut and packs the car.

They hit up a Wal-Mart on the way out of town, and after Dean explains to Cas that he can't bring the kitten into the store, because there are rules, Cas slips it into his trench coat pocket.

Dean stares for a moment, because he's just witnessed Cas becoming a criminal. For a kitten.

He shakes himself and heads towards the pet section. Cas's right hand never leaves his pocket.

They have a small Hello Kitty suitcase dedicated to the kitten's stuff. There's a simple brown collar, a couple toys, some wet cat food, some dry cat food, and a little cat bed. The kitten and the bright suitcase are Cas's responsibilities whenever they stop for the night.

Dean takes care of his duffel and the weapons.

Dean's pretty sure that Cas spends all night sitting and watching the kitten sleep which is a little disturbing. He texts Sam his thoughts on this. Sam just responds with a terse 'I hate you' which has been his response to everything Dean's said since dropping the kittens off.

Dean still thinks it's hilarious. What he finds a little less hilarious is that Cas keeps stealing his cell phone so he can take pictures of the kitten and send them to Jamie. Jamie sends pictures back, and so really Dean's phone has become Cas's phone.

Their phone.

Like their kitten.

Dean tries not to think too much about it.

Dean refuses to play with the kitten. He's not persuaded by the kitten's wide eyes or Cas's wide eyes or the way they both turn and pout at him at the same time. Kittens are small and delicate and playful, and Dean doesn't like them.

When they're in the car, he keeps two hands on the steering wheel (safety first, kids) and ignores the way the kitten bats at the air freshener Cas had bought to keep the kitten occupied. When they're in their motel room, Dean researches while Cas crouches down on the floor and dangles his tie for the kitten to chase and pounce.

"I am needed in Heaven," Cas says one night.

Dean looks up from his computer and then looks back, because this isn't a big deal. Cas is allowed to leave him for Heaven. Just because Cas hasn't done it in weeks doesn't mean anything. Heaven is Cas's home, and Dean's perfectly fine sleeping in a motel room on his own.

"Okay." Dean clicks a few buttons to make it look like he's busy.

"I have set up Gabriel's bed," Cas says. "I have also put out food for him."

"Okay." At least Cas isn't saddling Dean with taking care of the kitten—Dean refuses to call it Gabriel.

"He has water as well."


"I won't be gone long," Cas says, his voice softer now, distant. "I will go while you sleep. You won't notice that I'm away."

"Cas it's fine. I'm not your keeper. You're allowed to do whatever you want."

Dean can feel Cas staring at him so he resolutely stares at his computer screen.

"Very well," Cas finally says. "I'm going to give Gabriel a bath."

Dean has nightmares tonight. He dreams of Purgatory, of endless fighting, of blood, of the glint of blades, and the sharpness of teeth. He dreams about a river that he can see but never reach. He dreams of finally reaching the river, but Cas is on the other side, and when Dean steps in to wade across from him, he gets swept up by the current and taken away.

He dreams of struggling to swim upstream until his body is too exhausted to move, and the river pulls him back, away, and there's nothing he can do, because he doesn't have any fight left in him.

He wakes up, gasping and shivering, because the water had been cold, and the room is dark. There's no lamp on in the corner, no whispered Enochian as Cas plays with the kitten. There's nothing but shadows on the wall and open, empty space.

Dean falls back against his pillows even though he knows he's not going to be able to get back to sleep. He's awake now, his entire body on alert, and he can't calm it down.

Sometimes, when Dean wakes up from nightmares, Cas will touch a hand to Dean's forehead and put him back to sleep. Sometimes, Cas will talk to him, telling him stories from the Creation or from Heaven, just talk to him in a low even tone until Dean's lulled back to sleep.

But Cas isn't here tonight.

Dean drapes his arms over his eyes and wonders how soon Cas is going to get back. Maybe Dean should get up and shower and hit the road, and Cas can pop into the Impala whenever he's done in Heaven.

Dean hears the scratch of claws on fabric, and he sees shadowed movement on the bed, and then he sees the glowing eyes, and he panics for a moment, because yellow ringed eyes will always mean Azazel, but then he hears a soft meow, and he realizes it's the kitten.

"You're supposed to be in your bed," Dean grumbles.

The kitten jumps onto his chest and curls up.

"I'm not your bed."

The kitten ignores him. Looks like Dean's not going anywhere for a while.

He's careful not to jostle the kitten as he gets more comfortable.

Dean doesn't dream again, and he doesn't wake up until there's a bit of natural light pouring into the room. The kitten is still sleeping on him, and it's surprisingly warm for such a little thing.

Dean checks his phone before they hit the road, and he has a text from Sam. There's a picture of Dean sleeping with the kitten and Sam's written, 'think Cas is staring at you or the kitten?'. 'I hate you' Dean types back.

A week later, Cas disappears, because Sam has prayed for him. When he returns, he has a small jewelry box, and he hands it to Dean.

"A present from your brother."

Dean eyes it warily, but Cas is watching, expectant, so Dean opens it. It's a metal heart, the kind you clip onto a collar, but instead of being engraved with Dean and Cas's address is just says 'Dean + Cas'.

Dean whips out his phone and texts Sam an angry 'I hate you'.

"It's perfect," Cas says, scooping Gabriel up. "Now he'll always know who his parents are." He attaches the heart to the collar.

Sam calls Dean, but Dean ignores the call. Later, when he checks his voicemail, he has an entire minute of Sam laughing.