The Fifth Day of Christmas
Dean is woken at what has to be the ass-crack of dawn – yup, the clock confirms it at 5:03 a.m, definitely the upper ass-crack – by a very insistent former angel.
"Cas?" Dean groans, throwing an arm over his eyes when Cas begins flicking the light on and off. "The hell you doin'?" he grumbles sleepily.
"Get up!" Castiel leaves the light on and rushes to Dean's bed. His face is deathly serious, but Dean can see the crinkling at the corners of his eyes that means nothing is dying or about to die. "Dean!"
"Go 'way," Dean mumbles. He rolls onto his other side and stuffs a pillow over his head. Too early, damn it, way too early...
Cas rips the pillow away and flings it across the other side of the bed, and then rolls Dean over onto his back so that he can plant his hands on the hunter's shoulders and lean over him. His warm breath skates across Dean's lips, and suddenly he's awake. Holy shit is he awake.
"Get up, assbutt!" Castiel growls, shoving against Dean's shoulders for emphasis.
Dean freezes. His face locks up, his lips quivering and his eyes scrunching in an effort to remain still, but he can't stop it. The first time that muddled attempt at an insult tumbled from Castiel's lips, the angel was killed seconds after, and Dean hadn't exactly had time to enjoy the ridiculousness of it. Now?
He fucking lost it. The laughter exploded out of him, filling the room and making Cas cock his head curiously. The wrinkles around his eyes deepened as he smiled, uncertain, and he suddenly leaned closer as though he wanted to inspect the source of the laughter.
Cas, lips... Dean freezes again, eyes blowing wide because Castiel's mouth is right there, and he could just...
"Up," Castiel demands again. He grabs Dean's hands and bodily hauls him out of bed, and the hunter is helpless to do anything but allow Cas to grip his hand and pull him out of the room.
The two work their way almost silently from Dean's room to the garage, and then Cas is tugging him quickly up the tunnel, almost running, and Dean doesn't know what they're doing but he's starting to grin over Castiel's eagerness. They reach the top and Castiel suddenly throws himself down, pulling Dean with him. The angle of the tunnel makes it so it would be difficult to spot them from the outside in this position, and that alone makes Dean wonder what's out there.
"What are – " He starts, but Cas shakes his head sharply, and then points outside. Dean stretches up just enough to peer out into the sparsely wooded area that immediately surrounds the bunker, and finally sees what has Castiel so excited.
He laughs again, just a quiet huff. "Deer? You woke me up for deer?"
Castiel glares at him. "Look how many there are! And they're so close, we could almost reach out and touch that buck."
Dean glances around, left then right, and spots said buck. And okay, yeah, he's a beauty, six points and standing apart from the rest of the deer, head held up high for a moment before he ducks down to paw at the snow, trying to find grass. All he's going to find there is cement, Dean thinks, but he can't help but appreciate how gorgeous the animal is. And Cas, he knows, still has this appreciation for all of life, and he understands that this is something special for the former angel. Something special enough that he felt the need to wake Dean up to share it with him.
The hunter can't stop himself from sliding closer, so that their shoulders are pressed together. It's cold, he tells himself. It's just for body heat. If Castiel throws an arm over Dean's, well, that's just because he still doesn't have any concept of personal space.
They lay there for some time, watching the deer dig for food, until Dean feels Castiel start to shiver. Lightly at first, tiny little tremors he can feel where their arms are connected, but after a while the shudders really begin to wrack his body, and Dean hauls them both up and forces Cas to leave the sight behind.
"Come on," Dean says, this time tugging Cas along until they're both in the kitchen. "Sit."
Cas does, and watches silently as Dean removes two mugs and a container of hot chocolate from the cabinets. He sets some milk on the stove to heat, makes a motion to Cas that says stay put, and goes back to his room. He grabs his coat, runs to Cas's room for his, and then returns to the kitchen. Castiel hasn't moved, and he smiles when Dean throws the coats over the counter.
"After we get warm we'll go back out," Dean says with a quick flash of a smile. He doesn't know if the deer will still be there, but they have nothing to do today, so why not go outside and enjoy the snow?
They end up wandering back outside with their hot cocoa, hands wrapped around the warmth of their mugs and bundled up in their coats. The deer have moved deeper into the trees, so they lean against the wall and watch them a while longer, the silence almost perfect until Castiel suddenly blurts out, "I know it doesn't exist, but Sam made me watch The Santa Claus last night and I wish we could go to that version of the North Pole."
Dean blinks. He releases the mug with one hand and pinches himself. Okay, so he's awake. He turns to give Cas a raised eyebrow, because that was random even for him. "What the hell would we do in the North Pole?"
Castiel's head droops forward, chin resting against his chest as he stares into his cocoa with a faraway smile curving his lips. "I don't know. I just very much like the idea of good magic."
As much experience as Dean has with all things bad magic, he can't help but agree. He glances over at Cas as he takes a sip of his cocoa, and the dumbest idea pops into his head. Despite the fact that it's still hot enough to nearly burn, Dean downs his hot chocolate before heading back down into the garage. He hears Castiel following him, doesn't even ask what they're doing, and Dean wonders what the hell he did to make Cas think he should just follow him so blindly. Part of him wants to shake the former angel, tell him it's a bad idea to follow anyone like that, but another part is just plain pleased with the level of trust.
Thus far, they've found anything and everything in this bunker, so Dean starts digging around for what he needs with a fair amount of confidence that it will be there. He finds a metal pole, just thick enough that he can barely wrap his hand around it and almost as tall as he is. He sets it aside, and digs through a few boxes and shelves until he finds some white paint and red tape. Castiel watches him quietly the whole time, still sipping his hot chocolate, head cocked curiously.
"Hey, Cas." Dean thrusts his thumb over his shoulder, towards the the door. "Can you go see if you can find a round gold ornament? One of the big ones."
Apparently Castiel has caught on to what Dean is doing, because he smiles widely in understanding as he nods and sets his cup down on a nearby shelf. By the time he comes back, holding one of the extra large globe ornaments, Dean has started painting the grayish pole a snow white.
"Sam will tease you for this," Castiel points out as he sets the ornament beside the red tape.
Doesn't he know it. Dean sighs but doesn't say anything, just tosses Cas a quick grin and keeps right on painting.
It takes three coats and nearly two hours for the gray to fully disappear – Dean's just glad the bunker is so warm, or it would have taken forever for the paint to dry – and once it's done Castiel holds it by the top while Dean wraps the red tape around it in a spiral. It keeps kinking whenever he tries to twist it downwards, but Cas doesn't seem to notice so the hunter doesn't care. When he's done they super glue the gold ball to the top, and it's only then that it occurs to Dean to wonder how the hell they're going to get it into the frozen ground.
He must be frowning at it – that or Cas can still read his mind, angel mojo or no – because he says, "Is there enough snow for us to pack around it?"
Dean shakes his head. "It's too heavy. Grab the ax, we'll just hack up the ground."
He's pretty sure that's bad for the blade, but Cas doesn't know that and Sam isn't there to complain, so what the hell. They can always get another ax.
The deer are gone by the time they get back outside. Cas looks a little disappointed, but Dean was expecting it. He claps Cas on the shoulder and leads him into a little grove of trees, where they dig away the snow and start hacking at the ground. It's not as bad as Dean thought it would be, but it's not easy either, and it takes them a while to get a hole large enough to bury the base of the pole. They kick and pack the chunks of hard dirt back in with their feet, and finally step back to survey their handiwork.
Dean can't stop the laugh that bubbles up from his chest. It looks unbelievably tacky, but Castiel is beaming like it's the best thing they've ever done, his blue eyes wide and happy when they turn to Dean. The hunter grins back at him and, without thinking, reaches out and grabs the former angel's hand.
Oh, shit, Dean thinks, his entire body stiffening in alarm, but Castiel just smiles all the wider and tangles his fingers in Dean's.
It's started snowing again, lightly. The trees are laden with it, branches heavy and bent to the ground. The pole is stuck roughly in the center of the little grove. Dean notices absently that Castiel's coat has fake fur in the lining of the collar, and between that and the snow a connection is made in Dean's mind, awakening a memory he'd nearly forgotten.
"Make that a lamppost and it could be Narnia," Dean says, chuckling.
"Narnia?" Castiel repeats curiously.
Dean nods. "It's a book series. Mom read it to me when I was a kid, and I used to read it to Sammy. I don't remember most of them, but in the first one, or maybe the second, this girl found a magic portal in a wardrobe that took her to a place called Narnia. It was stuck in permanent winter because of this snow queen or something, and she ended up going back for her siblings and they all defeated the witch with this lion called Aslan." When Castiel raises both eyebrows – he never did learn to do just the one – Dean explains, "The animals in Narnia can talk."
"I see." Castiel smiles again, and Dean swears the guy leans into him a little. "More good magic."
"Yeah. I bet the bunker has it, I mean, they have the Wizard of Oz, why not Narnia?" The moment that comes out of Dean's mouth his eyes widen, and he blurts, "Holy crap, what if Narnia's real too? Sammy'd love that!" He shakes his head, lifts his free hand and rubs it across his eyes. "Dude, I don't even know anymore."
Castiel chuckles quietly, and the fingers tangled around Dean's squeeze gently. "You would be amazed how much exists in this universe, Dean."
They stand there for a little longer like that, hands still entwined, until their fingers start to go numb. The grip they have on each other is lost by the time they make it back into the bunker, but Dean doesn't mind because Castiel still has a tiny smile on his face, and he doesn't want Sammy to see them like that anyway. That's just way too much ammo for his little brother to have.
They find Sam and Kevin sitting across from each other in the main room, sipping at coffees and digging through books large enough to make Dean wince. Kevin waves at them without looking up from his book, but Sam sets down his coffee and actually twists in his seat to look at them. Dean squirms, wondering if Sam can somehow see what happened. His little brother always was freakishly perceptive.
"What're you guys doin'?" Sam asks cheerfully, speaking directly to Cas and Dean hates him right now.
"Dean and I made a – " Castiel's words are cut off when Dean slaps a hand over his mouth. The ex-angel raises his eyebrows at the hunter, but Dean just shakes his head frantically.
"A what?" Sam prompts, grinning hugely.
Gently, Castiel removes Dean's hand from his mouth and finishes, "A North Pole. It's outside."
"Cas..." Dean didn't whine, he didn't! He smacks Castiel on the back of the head and turns to level his most dangerous glare at his baby brother. "Not...a...word."
Sam bites a quivering lower lip, and his hands have started to shake. He holds still for maybe three seconds before exploding out of his seat and running for the garage, Dean hot on his tail. "Sammy!"
Sam's laughter echoes back to him as Dean chases him up the tunnel, and he's not laughing, he's not, damn it...
By the time Dean catches up Sam has found the pole and is bent double, hands planted on his knees as he laughs uproariously. Dean plants a kick to his ass and sends his enormous baby brother toppling into the snow, but Sam just rolls on his back and keeps laughing. So Dean grabs a handful of snow, and dumps it in Sam's face.
"Dude!" Sam gasps, brushing away the snow and shoving himself upright. He grins up at Dean, and the hunter has to force himself not to grin back because it's just so good to see that expression on Sam's face again. "You are so into him! It's seriously adorable."
"Shut up, bitch!" Dean kicks more snow at Sam, a giant wave of white plowing him right in the chest, but Sam just scrambles to his feet, bending down just long enough to hurl a double handful of cold and wet at Dean before racing for the garage tunnel.
"Jerk!" Sam calls over his shoulder.
That's it, Dean thinks savagely. It's on.
Both Dean and Sam are soaking wet and shivering when they get back inside. Kevin glances up, gives them both a once over and just rolls his eyes before returning to his book. Castiel is nowhere to be found, and Dean's almost glad. He really doesn't want to explain that the reason they're drenched is because he was trying his best to drown his little brother in the snow. Cas, being Cas, would want to know why.
The two hunters retreat to their separate rooms for dry clothes. Dean lingers in his, eyes dancing over pictures he's slowly but surely been taping up on the walls for the last year. There's an awkward one of him with his arm thrown around Sam that he'd taken himself just days after they moved in. Dean has a huge grin on his face, but Sam's smile is weak at best. He wasn't convinced at the time that they were staying. Next to it is one of Kevin asleep on his laptop. Dean honestly can't remember if he'd taken that one or of Sam had. There's another near his bed of himself, head thrown back as he laughs at something Sam was saying. Dean grins. Cas had taken that one, his very first picture, and he'd absolutely insisted that Dean keep it. There's one he took of Sam, too, and that one always makes him laugh because Sam decided he needed to make a weird, scrunched up sort of face for it.
And then there's a collection over his bed, one that consists entirely of Castiel. His first attempt at cooking, his first time on the computer – he's glaring at the screen in that one – his first taste of the sugary goodness that was a cupcake. There's even a picture of him asleep in bed, sheets tangled around his legs, one pillow hugged close to his body while the other one lies half over his face. Dean laughs when he looks at that one, and then wonders how the hell he hadn't noticed how gone he was on the guy.
The hunter jumps; he'd forgotten he left the door open. "Hey, Cas."
Castiel smiles, and holds up a book in both hands. "I found a Narnia book. I believe it's the first one."
Dean's eyes flick to the cover to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. "Yup, that's it. Well, technically I think it's the second, but most people start with that one. You going to read it?"
"Actually." Castiel pauses. He strides across the room to sink down beside Dean on the bed, and holds out the book. "Will you?"
Dean takes the book hesitantly. "Will I what?"
"Read it to me."
"Re...what?" Dean blinks stupidly down at the book. "Cas, that's something you do with kids!"
Castiel sighs, his gaze dropping to his hands as they wrung together on his knees. "Dean, I was never a child. I never had these experiences. I thought...When you talked about reading to Sam, it seemed like a good memory. I just..."
"Yeah." Dean nods sharply. "I get it." He turns away for a moment, not wanting Cas to see the fury on his face and think it's directed at him. He gets that angels are nothing like humans, but every time he sees that dejected expression on Castiel's face it makes him angry that he wasn't allowed to do all the things that clearly make him so happy. "Come on, then."
Dean shifts back so he's sitting up against the headboard, and Castiel joins him. His eyes light up eagerly as Dean opens the book, and now Dean's hiding his expression for an entirely different reason.
The hunter turns to the first page, and he flashes briefly back to a motel in Oregon. Sam was eight, and Dean sat up with him for hours reading this book, at first because he just wanted Sammy to get some sleep, and then because they'd both become caught up in the story. Now he has Castiel, just as wide eyed and eager as his little brother was, and he makes himself turn to flash a grin at Cas before he begins to read.
"Once there were four children whose names were..."