A/N- This ridiculous piece of crack!fic was written for the Destiel Advent Calendar on Tumblr, and edited by the wonderful Lucyndareads and IAS. I'm thinking of maybe doing more pieces in this 'universe' in the future, because it was so much fun to write. I hope you like it!
Castiel's guessing it took Anna roughly twenty seconds to regret sharing her news.
"What're his grades like?" Michael asks for the fourth time since she arrived a whole ten minutes ago. Anna resolutely ignores the question yet again, which Cas really thinks should tell Michael all he needs to know.
"Is he cute?" Gabriel calls from the sofa. Cas is curled up in the chair, watching Michael and Luke circle Anna like vultures waiting to descend.
"Obviously she thinks so," Luke says.
"Yeah, but what level of cute? Like 'least-offensive-way-to-say-you're-not-hot' cute? Or 'right-here-right-now-take-me-on-the-desk' cute?"
"Gabriel!" Michael snaps.
"Gabriel, do you really want to hear your little sister talk about sex?" Anna shoots back.
Gabriel gives a 'fair enough' tilt of his head.
"What's his name?" Luke asks.
"Dean," she says, obviously grateful for a question somewhere within the realms of normality. "Dean Winchester."
"How'd you two lovebirds meet?"
"My car broke down in the parking lot and he offered to lend a hand. He's an Automotive Engineering major," she shares. Predictably, Michael's face breaks into a frown.
"Is that really-"
"How long have you know each other?" Luke cuts in. Michael glowers, but lets it slide.
"About three months."
"And you're already bringing him home to meet the family?" Gabe whistles. "Damn, sis."
"What? It's Christmas, and he said he didn't have any plans, so…"
"Are you two going to need a bigger bed? Because there's no way I'm giving you mine."
"They can share a single," Luke says.
"You can't have sex in a single bed."
"You most definitely can."
"Really?" Gabriel asks with interest.
"Castiel, save me," Anna begs, looking at him desperately.
"Come with me," he says, standing up. She grabs onto his sleeve and lets him lead their way out of the room, closing the door neatly in Gabriel's face.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," she chants under her breath as they hurry up the stairs, their brothers shouting protests after them.
"You held up well," he comments mildly, opening his bedroom door and ushering Anna in. "Better than Michael. When he brought Maggie home, he only made it twelve minutes before he locked them both in the bathroom."
"Yeah, well Michael's just as bad as the rest of them," Anna gripes, throwing herself face down on Cas' bed. "Lucy and Gabe are hard work, but they don't mean it like he does."
"He wants what's best for you," Cas soothes, sitting down by her. "We all do."
"I'm a twenty-one year old woman," Anna says, annoyed. "I can decide that for myself."
Cas shrugs helplessly. "They're protective."
"Yes, there is that."
Anna laughs into the pillow and then sits up, turning to lean against the headboard. "It's good to see you again," she says.
"And you," he agrees. This is his first time seeing Anna in nearly a year. They still talk on the phone and on the internet, but he misses getting to actually see her.
"I wish we were at the same college," she says, blowing a hunk of long red hair out of her eyes.
"Then perhaps we should have applied for the same college."
"True, true. How's Classics?"
"Incredible. Impossible. How's Psychology?"
"It's amazing, but the next time Gabe asks if I can read his mind yet, I'm going to have to throw him through a window."
"We've all considered it at some stage," Cas says sympathetically. Gabriel entered his 'difficult' phase at three years old and at eighteen is not yet over it. Cas would blame Luke for being a bad influence, but really, it's difficult to tell just who corrupts who. "I'm glad you've met somebody, Anna."
"He's amazing," she admits. "I think you'll like him."
"Oh?" That's interesting. As a general rule, Cas doesn't really like people. He doesn't loathe them as Luke tends to, or feel an irrepressible urge to ruin their day as Gabriel does; they just don't really affect his world. They're like trees, except at least trees never throw parties in the next room at three A.M when you really, really need to sleep.
"Yeah. At least, I hope you will."
"If you like him, I'm sure that he's a good person."
"Thanks," she says with a relieved smile, "I'm so glad you showed. It freaked me out to hear you were thinking of skipping out on us."
The annual Milton Christmas gathering is not something one can just 'skip out' of, but Cas had tried all the same. Gabriel can call him Scrooge until he's blue in the face, but the fact is that Cas simply doesn't like Christmas. He likes the way everything looks- frosty and still and calm- but the rest? The blaring television commercials, and the desperate clamour that fills up every shop from the 20th of December onwards, and the nauseatingly saccharine sentiments of good will and love that it's clear nobody means? He just doesn't get it. It doesn't exist in his world.
"Yes, well Michael was very clear about what would happen if I tried." As the eldest brother, Michael had taken it upon himself to threaten Castiel with bodily harm, serious bodily harm, eating-through-a-straw levels of bodily harm and them all coming up to visit Castiel at college, in that precise order.
"I'm starting to think Dad has the right idea." Their father's been taking an annual Christmas cruise ever since Luke was able to legally purchase fireworks.
"As am I."
"Like you'd enjoy a cruise," Anna snorts.
"I think I would," he objects.
"Boats have people, Castiel, not books."
"There are books if you bring books," he points out. She sighs affectionately.
"Promise me you'll quit reading long enough to say hi to Dean?"
"Of course," he says. "Is he aware of what he's letting himself in for?"
"I did warn him, yeah. But Dad goes away at Christmas, so it's not like he has to endure the unholy trinity that is Michael versus Lucifer versus our father."
"Anna, you know not to call him that. It only encourages him."
"Luke doesn't need encouragement."
Dean is set to arrive on the 21st, and then to leave with Anna on the 26th. Cas doesn't think there are enough words in the English language to adequately express what a bad idea this is.
"Five days, Anna. Do you know what Luke can do in five days?"
"Dean can handle it."
Cas himself is staying from the 19th to the 26th. That's the standard agreement- the one week of the year where every Milton child must return to their childhood home. Cas isn't sure how their father continually escapes this tradition, other than the fact that he could announce they were burning the house down and Michael would immediately fetch gasoline.
"Well, he wouldn't be the first guest we've had to leave early, and I highly doubt he'll be the last. What time tomorrow is he getting here?"
"Late evening. He-"
Anna's phone rings loudly, and she breaks off to answer it. "One sec, Cas. Hey, sweetie. What?" Cas watches his sister's face fall and frowns in alarm.
"Anna?" he mouths.
"Why?" Anna asks, and listens. "Well, bring him too! Yes, I'm sure. You know I've always wanted to meet Sam. Dean, it'll be fine, I promise. We've got space. Yes, we have. No, they'll be fine with it. I- please? Okay. Okay, see you then. Love you."
Anna hangs up and pockets the phone. "We've got enough space for one more person, right?"
"What terrible thing is happening now?" Cas asks warily.
"You shouldn't worry so much," she scolds. "That was Dean. His brother's broken up with his girlfriend. He proposed last night and she… didn't feel the same way. They've split up, so Sam's crashing with Dean for now."
"And I'm assuming Sam doesn't want to be alone over the holidays?"
"He says he doesn't mind, but Dean's refusing to leave him, so I said they can both come down. What's one more person, right? I mean, Luke and Gabe aren't that bad. And Michael means well, you said so yourself. Right?"
Cas just looks at her as she carries on, growing increasingly desperate. Denial can only be stretched so far, and eventually she lets a sentence go and sags.
"Why did I invite them?" she says sadly. "Why?"
"I'll ensure Gabriel wears something appropriate to your funeral," he tells her kindly.
It's half eleven at night on the 21st, and there's no sign of the mythical Winchester brothers. Everybody was fine with the last minute addition to their line-up, excepting Michael's four minute breakdown when Luke told him Sam was a vegan. Afterwards, a disbelieving and somewhat despairing Anna had reminded Michael that Luke's entire knowledge of Sam could be summarised with 'Dean's brother'. Michael had not seemed heartened by this.
Despite what Anna had promised, the house isn't actually big enough for all of them. Luke's room was destroyed three years ago due to what Gabriel termed 'science gone wrong' and Michael referred to as 'dear God in Heaven, give me strength'. Luke, who's living at home for now, has taken over Cas' room ("knew you wouldn't mind, bro," he said, clapping Cas on the shoulder- actually, Cas did mind, but what can you do?), but the addition of Sam and Dean means that everyone gets shuffled around.
Dean and Anna have gotten their father's double bed after all, and the look of pain on Michael's face when he told Anna that really was a Kodak moment. Michael and Gabriel are in their usual rooms, Sam has Cas', Luke is crashing in Anna's and Cas has been relegated to the sofa. Such are the disadvantages of being the asocial sibling.
"I knew it would snow," Anna says grumpily, looking out the window. "Why did it have to snow?"
"Well, when water vapour drops in temperature too quickly-"
"Nobody asked you, Lucy."
"You asked the room as a whole," Luke reprimands her. "I'm part of the room, sis."
"How could we forget?" Michael mutters. Luke and Gabe are currently playing a game entitled 'things you've smashed and gotten away with'. Michael's pretending not to notice and trying to stop his eyelid from twitching.
"Uh, a wardrobe in IKEA," Gabe says, picking up where they left off. "Balthy locked me in it, and I wanted to get out."
"Kicked the door until it fell off."
"Okay, your turn."
He considers this. "A wardrobe in this guy's bedroom. Similar in terms of execution, pretty different in terms of circumstance."
Before anybody has time to ask further questions, a pair of headlights swings into their driveway. Anna's face lights up.
"I'll get my shotgun."
Anna rushes out to meet them, Michael following to help with bags and monitor their behaviour, and Gabe and Luke trailing behind to see what all the fuss is about. Cas, for his part, stays sat reading. He hears the front door open, and then a voice saying
"- really sorry to keep you up, but it's so friggin' icy out there."
"Yes, frozen water does tend to have that effect," Cas hears Gabriel say.
"Thanks again for letting me stay," another voice says- Sam, Cas is guessing. "I'm really sorry about this."
"Don't be," Luke says, in a voice Cas would describe as dangerously smooth. Oh, God, this isn't going to be an easy week. Cas sets his book aside and wanders out to the hallway, figuring he should at least say hello.
There's only one person standing in the hallway, with his back to Cas and a thick coat clutched in his arms.
"I can take that," Cas offers. The man turns around as Cas steps forward, and the word 'that' dissolves into a vague mess with far too many syllables.
"Thanks," he grins, shaking his hair from his head. It's wet with snow, plastering strands to his forehead, and Cas is pretty sure there are actually snowflakes on his eyelashes to boot. He's a little taller than Cas, with pale skin and red cheeks from the cold, and every cell in Cas' body is utterly united in the thought please, God, let this be Sam Winchester.
"Cas!" Anna says happily, coming in behind the ridiculously attractive stranger and slipping an arm around his waist. "This is Dean."
"Cas, right? Nice to meet you," Dean says. Cas nods tightly. A figure far too large to be entirely human bundles in through the door and shakes out his hair like a Labrador bounding through puddles. Dean slips out of Anna's grasp to stand by the newcomer's side.
"Hey!" the man says brightly when he catches sight of Cas. I'm Sam."
"Hello, Sam," Cas says, shaking Sam's hand when he holds it out. "My name is Castiel."
"Really?" Dean says.
"Dean!" Sam scolds. Dean looks mildly abashed.
"Yeah, whole family got religious names," Anna says. "Me, Luke and Michael were the lucky ones. Gabriel, not so much. Castiel here drew the short straw."
"I don't know, I kinda like it," Dean says. He meets Cas' eyes and grins again. Cas forgets how to look away, and Dean doesn't appear to be in any hurry to teach him.
"Yeah, well," Anna says, after several seconds have passed and the two of them are still standing in silence looking at each other: Dean smiling, Cas relatively sure his mouth is hanging slightly open. "Come on, sweetie, I'll show you our room."
"Cool. See you 'round, Cas," Dean says, and he drags his eyes away from Cas' face like pulling two magnets apart. Sam wanders out after them, and Cas heads back through to his temporary room and collapses into the chair. He's planning to bathe in self-pity and bitterness, but the universe has other ideas.
"Castiel," Luke breathes as he walks into the room. "Cas, did you see him?"
"Anna's Ken doll? Oh, Cas, there's nothing of interest there. He's all shiny wrapping paper around an empty box."
Cas would like to know exactly when and how Luke reached this verdict, but Luke's already pushing on.
"No, I mean his brother."
"Sam." Luke sighs the word like it's holy.
"Stay away," Cas warns. "He's only just broken up with his girlfriend."
"Exactly!" Luke says. "He's lonely and in need of comfort. I'm willing to be a good Samaritan and provide it."
"You're a deplorable human being."
"Oh, stop," Luke says fondly. Cas picks his book back up.
"Interesting that you defaulted to Dean, though, don't you think?" Luke says. When Cas looks up, Luke is perched intently only a few inches away from his face. Cas swats at him with the book.
"There was a fifty percent chance I'd guess Dean."
"But you didn't have to guess. You could've gone 'who?'. But no, you heard 'one fine piece of ass' and your brain went 'ahh, yes, Dean'."
"Luke, it's been all of two minutes. Can we please not?"
Luke turns his head to squint at Cas out the corner of his eye. Cas holds the gaze fiercely. "Very well, little brother," Luke eventually relents. "Very well."
Dean and Sam are tired, so everybody goes to bed fairly quickly. That suits Cas fine. He's usually the first one up, because his body decided at some stage in early childhood that sleeping past 7AM is for the weak.
He's up at quarter to seven, glad that he can at least shower without people banging on the door in irritation. Michael gets up at eight and tries to make Cas breakfast; Sam gets up about half an hour later and is naïve enough to accept it. Michael takes the view that bacon should be 'crispy', and thinks 'charred' really is a subjective term. Sam eats it anyway, being polite as he is, spitting out small sections of charcoal into a napkin.
"Anna says you're looking to go into law?" Cas asks, sipping at his orange juice. Michael's left to go and chop them down a Christmas tree, dragging a loudly complaining Luke with him. "That's an interesting career."
"Yeah," Sam says enthusiastically. "I mean, I think so. Dean says I'm too nice for it, but that's just him."
"He's older than you, isn't he?"
"Yeah. He's twenty-three, I'm nineteen. I'm very much the kid brother." Sam pulls a face.
"I can sympathise," Cas says. "I'm the middle child. Anna and Gabriel are younger than me, but Luke and Michael are older, as they never miss a chance to remind me."
"Are there big age gaps between you guys?"
"Between Michael and Gabriel, perhaps. Michael's twenty-eight, Gabriel's only eighteen. There's not a huge amount of difference between the rest of us, though."
"Big family, huh? I bet holidays are hectic."
"You have no idea," Cas says drily. "Michael insists everybody migrates back to the spawning ground for Christmas."
"You all live separately, I'm guessing."
"Not quite. Anna and I are at college, but Michael moved back in here with our father after he graduated, and Gabriel's too young to have ever left. Luke comes back when couch-surfing fails him."
"I can't believe I forgot you were at college. What do you study?"
"Oh man, really?" Sam says, his eyes lighting up. "That's awesome. How is it?"
"It's good," Cas says. "I enjoy it a lot, despite the level of work. I'm relatively sure I've committed the majority of The Odyssey to memory."
"Sing to me of the man, Muse," says a voice from behind him. Dean breaks into a sheepish smile as Cas and Sam turn to look. "What? I read."
"You're up before three," Sam says in astonishment. "Is the bed on fire?"
"Cruel words, Sammy. I'm pulling a breakfast run."
"Ahh, food. Now it all makes sense."
Dean whacks Sam affectionately about the head.
"You can take what you want from the cupboards and fridge," Cas says.
"Gotcha." Dean flicks the kettle on and pulls the fridge open.
"Just not the chocolate milk," Cas calls out, lest it cause a minor war later on.
"The one with the post-it notes on it?"
"That's the one."
"Property of Gabriel," Dean reads aloud. "I mean it, guys. Lucifer, th- Lucifer?" he queries.
"A joke. Luke doesn't seem to mind." Actually, Luke seems to like it far more than he should.
"Fair enough. Lucifer, that means you. I swear, the next time you touch this, I will- wow, okay, not touching the milk," Dean says, putting it back hastily like Gabe is about to clamber out of the freezer to defend his precious. He goes to the cupboard instead and pulls out bread. All around, it's the safer choice.
"You want any?" Dean asks, slotting several pieces into the toaster. Cas and Sam both shake their heads.
"How'd you sleep?" Sam asks.
"Pretty good, thanks."
"Glad to hear it. It must be nice, getting to stay with Anna," Sam says with a rueful smile. Dean turns from where he's dumping instant coffee into a mug to frown at his brother.
"Don't do that to yourself," he orders. "I mean it, Sam. She's not worth it."
"Yeah, well," Sam says, clearly not agreeing. Cas stays quiet- partly because it's none of his business, and partly because Dean's wearing a grey t-shirt and loose pants, and if he was difficult to look away from when wrapped up in layers then like this he's damn near mesmeric. He finishes making his coffee and turns to face Cas.
"You got any plans today?" Dean asks, forcing Cas into verbalisation.
"Decorating the tree, I imagine," he says. "You?"
"Nothing special," he says.
"Except spending time with Anna," Sam says meaningfully. Cas doesn't understand why Dean looks at him so sharply.
"Yeah. Obviously. A Christmas tree, though," he says, turning back to Cas. "That sounds awesome. Don't think I've ever had a proper one."
"Oh?" Cas says. "Why not?"
"Eh, me and Sam moved around a lot as kids," Dean says, pulling out the toast. Cas walks over to the right cupboard and pulls out a plate. Dean takes it from him, flashing an utterly dazzling smile of thanks, and reaches for the butter. "Our Dad was never really into all that traditional stuff. We never had anything like that growing up, so I guess I never thought to have one now."
"Well, you two are welcome to help us if you'd like," Cas says.
"What do you think, Sammy?"
"Sounds good," Sam says.
"You sure you trust us not to screw it up?" Dean says.
"After you've seen Gabriel's attempts at M&M-based decoration, very little can distress you."
"That sounds kinda cool, actually."
"Interesting that you should say that, considering he strung over three hundred on the tree and left the heating on full all day."
"With Gabriel, it's usually best not to ask."
"Point taken," Dean says. "So okay, candy is out. We'll try not to accidentally ruin your house." He finishes stacking toast on the plate. "Toast accomplished. I'll see you guys in a couple hours."
"Don't get crumbs on the sheets like you always do," Sam lectures him.
"If I always do, why bother telling me not to?" Dean taunts. "Not that I will," he says seriously, looking at Cas.
"I believe you," Cas reassures him. "I'll see you later."
"Awesome," Dean says, and then he disappears, the plate in one hand and the mug in the other. Cas slumps back in his chair, finishes his juice and doesn't think about Dean. He doesn't think about Dean going back upstairs with Anna, and he doesn't think about how Anna got to spend the whole night sleeping next to him, and he definitely doesn't think about the fact that just because Dean came downstairs in a shirt and pants doesn't mean he sleeps wearing them.
Okay, maybe he thinks about Dean a little.
He distracts himself, and at about eleven Michael and Luke come home with a tree. They're not speaking and there appear to be teeth marks in Michael's arm, so Cas is guessing it was a fairly average trip by their standards.
Sam volunteers his assistance, and Cas watches the three of them drag the tree inside and get it set up. It's mostly Michael and Sam moving things while Luke 'gives directions'. As far as Cas can tell, that mostly involves standing directly behind Sam and telling him to stretch.
They eventually get it wedged into the gap at the right angle, and even Michael looks pleased.
"You'll help me decorate it later, right?" he says to Cas. Castiel has no idea how he always ends up getting stuck dangling lights off of dead vegetation, but it's not worth protesting.
"If you want."
"Can I still help out, Cas?" Sam asks.
"Yes, of course you can."
"I'll be helping too, obviously," Luke cuts in smoothly.
"Will you?" Michael says suspiciously.
"Well, you know me. Always eager to help out my family."
Michael actually barks out a laugh at that. "Oh, really? Then where are my speakers?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"The very, very expensive speakers I spent six months saving up for? That magically disappeared two days after you arrived?"
"You shouldn't place so much worth on material goods, Michael," Luke scolds. Michael looks at the wall like he's seriously weighing up the pros and cons of hitting it.
"Well, I think the tree looks great," Sam says pleasantly.
"Sure, if you're a fan of oversized greenery," a voice behind them drawls. "Though I guess it's pretty much just a piece of broccoli to you, huh?"
"Excuse me?" Sam says, turning around. Gabriel's leaning in the doorway in a tank top and pyjama bottoms. It's half eleven and alarm bells are ringing; Gabriel getting up before midday is comparable to watching a glass of water tremble as a large dinosaur approaches. Cas begins to mentally sift through his longstanding list of 'Places Michael Does Not Yet Know I Can Hide In'.
"I meant because you're so freakishly tall," Gabe explains patiently.
"He's not freakish," Luke defends. "You're just stunted, Gabriel."
The comment's weaponised, but it doesn't hit its target. Gabe shrugs.
"Eh, I make up for it in other departments," he says. Cas notices for the first time that he's clutching what looks like a jar of Nutella in one hand and a spoon in the other.
"Gabriel, don't be mean to the guests," Michael lectures.
"It's okay, Michael," Sam assures him. "It's hardly the first height joke I've heard."
"And I doubt it'll be the last," Gabe comments. "Tell me, you got anything world-shakingly exciting planned today?"
Gabe seems to be addressing the room as a whole, but his eyes don't leave Sam. "I thought I'd maybe go into the town and look around," Sam says.
"I'll take that as a no."
"Right, so what are you doing that's so damn fascinating?" Sam says, somewhat defiantly. Gabriel shrugs again.
"Sleeping. Eating. Probably watching porn."
"Gabriel!" Michael snaps.
"I tell it like it is. It's what makes me so loveable," Gabriel says, gesturing with the spoon. "Where's the standard-size Winchester?"
"With Anna," Cas answers immediately, and he feels the looks he gets as a result are entirely unnecessary.
"Greased lightning, huh?" Gabe whistles, unscrewing the lid of the jar. Luke is looking at Cas again, and sometimes Cas really does hate that the most perceptive Milton brother is arguably also the most evil. If Luke says anything, Cas is more than prepared to get in his car and drive until he falls off the edge of the world.
"Dean might be coming with me later," Sam says. "I'm kind of banking on him to give me a lift, actually. There's no way I'm taking his car with all the ice."
"I'll take you," Luke and Michael say at the exact same time: Michael like a father doing his son a favour, Luke with… differing intonation. Sam blinks, but then grins.
"Okay, wow, thanks! I'll let you know. Cas, do you want to come?"
"No, thank you," Castiel says politely. The idea combines public places and low temperatures, and he's not an advocate of either.
"Ga…" the word dies off in Sam's throat, and one look at Gabriel tells Cas why. It's not unusual to see Gabriel eating chocolate spread directly out of the jar, but it is unusual to see him paying that much attention to the spoon. He pulls it out of his mouth and runs his tongue around the edge, making eye contact with Sam at the last second and letting his lips linger on the metal for a moment longer than necessary. Across the room, Michael puts his face in his hands.
"I'm going to my room," Cas announces, pushing past Gabriel. He would wonder if the situation could possibly get any more uncomfortable, but he's sincerely worried the universe would take that as a challenge.
"Same," he hears Gabriel say, and when Cas glances back Gabe is looking at Sam again. "If you get bored and you can fit through the door, maybe I'll see you there."
Castiel takes the steps two at a time.