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Tiny Angel

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The only thing Dean can think of as he stares down at Castiel is, "He looks so peaceful." 

 

"Yeah," Sam whispers in agreement. "I've never seen him like this."

 

Neither has Dean. Not once in the 11 years he has known the angel has Dean seen Castiel at peace. Even when he slept after the injury to his grace whenever he needed to recharge, it was always a tense kind of sleeping. Like he was ready to jump up and fight at a moment's notice. 

 

This is different. Castiel's in a deep, restful sleep. His chest rises and falls with soft breaths that are slow and steady. Little curls wisp across his forehead, the rest fanning out against the couch cushion. There are no lines on his face - not from worry, age, or injury. The corners of his eyes aren't pinched. His pink lips aren't stuck in a frown. 

 

He looks happy. 

 

Dean and Sam almost find themselves wishing they could keep the angel just like this. They'd never admit it to each other, and wouldn't even dream of mentioning such things to Castiel, but the urge is there. Castiel has saved them so many times, the boys have lost count. He's always protecting them and caring for them. The angel loves them unconditionally - truly unconditionally, considering he met Dean in hell where the man was getting a PhD in torture, and met Sam in the middle of a nasty demon blood addiction. 

 

It's about time the angel gets to take a break from carrying the world on his shoulders. Dean and Sam could take care of him. Protect him. Show him that they love him unconditionally too. 

 

The boys' seperate, yet startlingly similar, thoughts are interrupted by a Scottish accent that's all too familiar. "Well, what have you lads gotten yourselves into now?" 

 

Before either can answer, her eyes find the angel sleeping on the bunker couch. He's still wrapped up in his trench coat because he had refused to let go of it when Dean tried to remove the coat back at the witch's home. As Rowena comes closer, she sees two black wings sticking out from behind Castiel, settled comfortably as he lays against them. 

 

"Oh my," Rowena gasps, looking up at the Winchesters. A smile tugs at the corner of her mouth but they give her credit for at least trying to pretend she isn't amused by this. "I'm going to assume this little babe is the angel Castiel?"

 

"Yes. We were hunting a coven of witches and right before we caught one, the bitch did this to him," Dean growls.

 

"So you caught her? She's here?"

 

Sam winces. "No. I shot her. She was going after Cas and I wasn't willing to risk it."

 

"Oh no. No no no. That's not good."

 

"Why?" Dean asks, his gut sinking. After a few seconds of silence, Dean grabs Rowena and forces her to look at him. She doesn't seem quite as happy as before. "Why is this not good, Rowena? Can't you fix it? Or - or his grace. His grace will eventually heal him, right?"

 

"I'll have to do a bit of research, but I'm afraid this may in fact be permanent."

 

"What?" both brothers shout at the same time. 

 

Rowena nods. "His grace was already so weak. So fragile. When he was hit with the curse, his grace wasn't strong enough. It was injured further by the attack. He's still an angel, you can see that by his wings, but just barely. The first thing angel grace does is allow them to change form, take vessels, and hide their wings - all 3 vital to their survival on Earth. Castiel is clearly unable to do the first and third, and I doubt he has enough grace in him to leave this body for a new vessel. I'd be - I'd be surprised if he even-" she stops herself, now looking more worried and upset than Dean and Sam thought she was capable of. 

 

"What?" Dean asks. "What will happen? What's wrong?"

 

"Like I said, I need to research."

 

"But?" Sam presses. 

 

"But…" Rowena touches a finger to Castiel's cheek, closing her eyes. When she steps away, the look she gives the boys makes them want to die on the spot. "I wouldn't be surprised if he stopped being an angel altogether. He may very well fall, boys. But I'll see what I can do."

 

As Rowena hurries off toward the bunker library, a place she's quite familiar with now that she's aligned herself with Team Free Will, Dean and Sam look back at Castiel. 

 

"He's falling," Dean whispers, feeling his heart break beneath the crushing immensity of that. 

 

"As a baby, too, Dean. You know what that means, right?" 

 

Dean closes his eyes and nods. "If we can't fix this, he's - we're going to have to 

raise him."

 

"How the hell will we do that?" Sam asks in a trembling voice. 

 

"I don't know. But we will, Sam." Dean crouches down to rest a hand on Castiel's tiny chest, feeling the fragile heart beat beneath his fingers. "He deserves to be loved and taken care of, and it needs to come from us. We are family. I won't accept anything else."

 

Sam doesn't argue. In fact, he puts his hand next to Dean's, his pinky finger feeling that same little heartbeat. "You'll be okay, Castiel," Sam tells the sleeping baby. 

 

"You will," Dean agrees. And, because Castiel is sleeping, and a baby, and unable to understand what they're saying, he adds, "We love you, Cas." 

 

----

 

When Castiel wakes up, he's unusually warm and surprisingly well-rested. He kicks off the heavy blanket that’s on him and puts his arms over his head, stretching out his muscles. There's an ache he notices in his stomach and he places a hand over it in confusion. He gets hungry from time to time because of his lack of grace, but it's not often, and it's never like this. Castiel feels like he's starving. 

 

Deciding to look for some food and track down the boys, Castiel tries to push himself into a sitting position. His arms feel too heavy, though. He tries twice more before giving up. As he stares at the ceiling, he wonders what happened to him. Obviously, he was injured in a hunt, but what happened to make him so weak? Castiel forces his panic down. If he's hurt, Dean and Sam won't be too far away. They'll be able to explain everything. 

 

"Sam? Dean?" Castiel calls out tentatively. After a few seconds pass, he tries again, this time louder. "Sam? Dean? You guys here?"

 

Nothing. 

 

"Sam! Dean!" he shouts, putting all of his energy into the two names. He's starting to panic. Truly panic. 

 

In the middle of frantically flailing against the couch in an attempt to sit up, two hands close around him and pick him up. 

 

Picks him up. 

 

His cheek is being pressed to a shoulder, and he can tell that he's either very small or in the arms of someone very large because his face is tiny compared to the person's neck he's currently staring at. It takes some effort but Castiel finally manages to control his head movements enough to look around, his eyes wide. 

 

The person holding him is talking, Castiel realizes. He pauses his panicking for a moment so he can listen to the words. 

 

"-be okay little guy. I know you're scared. This is probably so confusing. You have no idea what’s going on, or where you are, hey?” 

 

Castiel squints at the living room in confusion. He knows exactly where he is. The bunker. That’s the fireplace that Dean can never get to light. Right above that is the TV where they all watch sports (for Dean), the history channel (for Sam), and anything Shonda Rhimes on ABC (for Castiel, though Castiel thinks both Sam and Dean secretly like his shows). Recently, the three of them have been watching Stranger Things on that TV together.

 

And right there is-

 

“Oh! He’s awake!” At the sound of Dean’s voice, Castiel whips his head around so fast he bumps it on the person holding him’s shoulder. 

 

“Dean! Dean, thank goodness! What’s going on? What’s happening?” 

 

Dean doesn’t look at Castiel, instead looking at whoever is holding him. “How is he?”

 

Castiel balks. “I’m right here! Ask me how I am, not this stranger!” 

 

“I don’t think he understands what’s happening. He looks completely lost.”

 

“He didn’t recognize you?” Dean asks in a soft voice. 

 

“Not that I could tell.” 

 

Recognize the person? Who is holding him? The voice doesn’t sound familiar… but maybe if he sees their face? Castiel tries pulling his head away to look up at the person’s face. His muscles are pretty sore, though, and he’s suddenly feeling exhausted. He hears a soft whine and realizes after a few seconds that it’s him making the sound. Embarrassed by his weakness, and his pathetic noises, Castiel gives up and rests his cheek on the person’s shoulder again. 

 

“What will you do with him? If Rowena can’t fix this?”

 

“We’ll keep him, of course,” Dean says in a tone that almost sounds angry. “He’s our family.”

 

“Of course. You’re right.”

 

Castiel tries again to see the person holding him. Instead, his face turns toward Dean. It’s even better. Now maybe Dean will look at him. Acknowledge that he’s actually here instead of talking about Castiel like he’s not in the room. 

 

“We’ll just-” Dean’s words stumble to a stop as his bright green eyes fall on Castiel. 

 

This is his chance! Castiel perks up and immediately begins to shoot questions at Dean. “Dean, what’s going on? What happened? Am I hurt? Is this person cursed? Why are they so big? Wait… why are you so big? Oh god… Dean, did something happen with the hunt? We were hunting… what were we hunting? I can’t - I can’t remember. What happened?”

 

Dean gives him a soft smile that Castiel’s seen him give victims’ families before. Comforting and kind, but also pained. Castiel asked him one time why he always looked so upset when they had to interview witnesses and family members. Dean had said it was because they were reminders of the ones Dean doesn’t get to save. 

 

It makes Castiel sick that Dean’s now giving him that look. 

 

“Don’t worry, Cas. You’re going to be fine. Sam and I will take care of you, and with any luck, Rowena will have this thing sorted out by morning.”

 

“What thing?” Castiel asks in exasperation. 

 

“Is Sam back with the supplies from the store? We don’t get him in a diaper soon and there’s going to be a mess,” the person holding him asks Dean. 

 

Diaper? Who is getting put in a diaper?

 

Wait.

 

Wait a minute.

 

No.

 

Are they - is Castiel - no. 

 

He doesn’t care if he’s tiny compared to them, or that his muscles aren’t working like they should be, or that he’s somehow unable to communicate with them - Castiel is not a baby. He can’t be. That makes absolutely no sense. 

 

It’s not possible. 

 

He’s a damn angel! 

 

“Shhh, don’t cry baby,” the person holding him whispers. 

 

“Here, Charlie. Hand him over.”

 

Charlie? Yes, Charlie! He met her. Castiel liked Charlie. Now that he knows it’s her, he does in fact recognize her voice. 

 

Okay. One mystery solved. 

 

So many more to go. 

 

Castiel yelps as he’s passed through the air from Charlie to Dean. It feels like he’s flying for a moment - but not flying like he loves to do as an angel, where he’s in complete control and enjoying himself. This is the terrifying kind of flying where you don’t know where you’re headed and you have no power over your success of reaching the destination safely. 

 

That’s why the second he’s up against Dean’s soft, warm flannel, Castiel is grabbing two fistfuls of the fabric and gripping with all his strength. He doesn’t want to fly again. Until Rowena fixes… well, whatever this is, Castiel wants to stay with Dean. No offense to Charlie, or even to Sam, but Castiel needs the man that makes his soul feel at peace. Castiel was formed with the sole purpose of being Dean Winchester’s keeper. If he can’t fulfill that duty, the next best thing is to have Dean be his keeper in the meantime. 

 

Dean looks down at Castiel and gives him a slightly happier smile. He taps the pad of his finger over the tip of Castiel’s nose in a little boop, and Castiel laughs at the reminder of the time he did that to Kevin. Dean looks shocked for a moment at the giggle before his smile turns into a full-grown grin. 

 

"You like that?" Dean asks in a soft, cooing voice. "Is that silly?"

 

Castiel gives Dean a frown, pulling his eyebrows together as he fixes him with a glare. "Don't talk to me like I'm a damn baby, Dean."

 

"Ohhh that's a grumpy face. What's wrong?"

 

After blinking hard a few times, making sure to let Dean know he is completely unimpressed with this entire situation, Castiel rests his cheek against the man's chest and sighs. This is going to be a long night. 

 

Please hurry Rowena. 

Chapter Text

Dean would never admit it if he was asked, but he's always wanted to be a dad. Out of all the things from the apple pie life he didn't get to have - the normal job, low stress, friends, a spouse, a family, a house - not being a parent was the worst for him. It had freaked him out for those few minutes Dean believed Ben was his, but he had been so disappointed - gutted even - when he found out it wasn't true. 

 

There's just something Dean always liked about the idea of being a father - especially to a little boy. He'd get to raise him right, not like with Sammy where Dean tried his best but his dad always messed things up. Dean would be able to make the baby feel safe and loved, always. No matter what. He'd get to bring him to the park, and teach him how to throw a ball, and bring him to his first rock concert - no guns at the age of 5, no playing alone in motel rooms wondering when dad would come back, and no shots of whiskey at 10 to take the edge off before a scary hunt. 

 

Dean wanted the chance to do something good. He always knew in his heart that being a dad would give him that. 

 

He just never believed he'd get the chance. Not with his life. Not with his past. 

 

Dean can't decide if he's feeling sick to his stomach at the thought of Castiel being stuck like this forever, or at the thought of Castiel being cured by Rowena. He thinks it might be a little of both, and he's fully aware that he's a terrible person because of that. 

 

"Dean!" Sam calls from the bunker's front door as he enters their home. Holding Castiel tight to his chest, where the baby has been clinging to him like a life raft in the sea, Dean hurries off to help Sam with all of the baby supplies. Charlie is in there too. 

 

Before Dean can grab a bag with his free hand, Charlie is handing him a diaper. Dean takes it with a small laugh. He had forgotten the fact that Castiel is butt naked beneath his oversized dress shirt. “Yeah. Probably a good idea.”

 

“You just take care of that, Dean. We’ve got this,” Sam promises, waving a hand for Dean to walk off. 

 

“Oh, these too!” Charlie throws something at Dean’s face. Whatever it is bounces off his forehead and falls to cover Castiel’s tiny head. He plucks the thing - which he notices is a pair of footie pajamas - off of Castiel quickly, looking at him with wide eyes as he waits to see how the baby will react. His big eyes and tiny ‘o’ shaped mouth show that he’s clearly startled, but he’s not crying or upset like most babies would be. Perhaps he’s still too confused. Or maybe he’ll just be an easy baby. 

 

Either way, Dean shoots Charlie a glare for hitting his boy - Castiel… not his boy, but Castiel... - with the pajamas. Then he heads down the hall to bring Castiel to his room, wanting to change him in privacy. It’s not like it really matters, Castiel is oblivious to what is happening right now according to Rowena, but that doesn’t mean he won’t remember this later. They have no idea what he’ll retain if this is fixed. The least Dean can do is let the angel keep a shred of dignity. 

 

Dean lays Castiel out on his bed, right in the middle where he won’t roll off, and sits in front of him. He’s still wrapped haphazardly in his dress shirt, his trenchcoat back on the couch where Castiel must have kicked it off in his sleep. When the baby catches on to what Dean’s about to do, he grumbles and slaps a hand against Dean’s intrusive fingers, but all it takes is two tugs and Dean has a butt naked baby boy laying completely still on his bed.

 

A series of very angry babbles and screeches pour out of the little angel’s mouth, blue eyes wide in betrayal. His tiny ineffectual fists swing in the air. When Dean laughs at how cute Castiel is being, Castiel stops talking and drops his arms, settling a glare on Dean that very clearly says fuck you. It sends a spark of guilt through Dean. 

 

“It’s okay, Cas,” Dean whispers, brushing his hand gently over the baby’s dark curls. He wonders if it’s normal for Castiel to have so much hair. Most babies are bald, or close to it, but Dean thinks he’s seen other babies that are born with a ton of hair. Plus, Castiel looks like he’s older than a newborn. Dean has absolutely no idea how to figure out any more than that, but it’s something. 

 

It’s a start. 

 

“Just gonna put you in this nice, comfy diaper, okay? That way we don’t get all messy.” Dean rolls his eyes at himself as he grabs the baby’s ankles and lifts his legs up to slide the diaper under his bum. “I don’t know why I’m talking to you. You have no idea what’s going on, do you? You probably just think I’m some weirdo who makes noises.”

 

The frown on Castiel’s face tilts up before the baby releases a giggle, making Dean pause. Dean cocks his head to the side. “Was that funny?”

 

A new string of baby babbles - this time much happier - comes out of the baby’s mouth before a tiny little smile pulls at his lips. Dean shakes his head at himself. He must be going crazy. For a second there, he thought Castiel could understand him. Babies giggle randomly, though. Dean’s ridiculous for thinking that Castiel - a damn infant - could interact with him like an adult. 

 

This entire situation has him completely shaken up. He just wants to know which way this will go so he can start to adjust. This limbo of Castiel possibly being a baby forever, or possibly being an adult angel again by tomorrow, is making this hard and confusing. 

 

There’s so much more pressure if Castiel is going to be back to normal. Either way, a life is in Dean’s hands, but he doesn’t want to disappoint Castiel. He wants to prove to the angel he can take care of him like Castiel has taken care of Dean. It’s much less nerve wracking if it’s a clueless baby that he’s proving it to instead of a coherent man. 

 

Dean secures the diaper and grabs the pajamas. They’re blue and white striped with a little blue whale on the butt. It’s fricken adorable. Grown ass man or not, Dean can admit that. 

 

The baby, however, doesn’t seem impressed. Castiel makes a growly sound and kicks his little feet out at Dean when Dean tries to pull a leg into the bottom of the pajamas. 

 

“Shhh. It’s okay. Just some pjs! No big deal.”

 

Dean tries again. 

 

Castiel starts screeching his damn head off, little fists going in the air again. It makes Dean laugh. The baby is just so adorable as he goes on and on, bitching Dean out for god knows what. The laughter earns him an abrupt stop to the noises, and a very angry little face from the baby. 

 

“No pouting little guy,” Dean teases. “The pjs won’t kill ya.”

 

The baby continues to wiggle and squirm, but he’s no match for Dean. The whale pajamas are on his chubby legs and over his diapered rump in no time. Then there’s another problem. Castiel’s wings. Since all of Castiel’s clothes fell off, they had unbuttoned the dress shirt to use as a make-shift blanket before bringing him home. Doing this made it possible to wrap in a way where the baby’s wings were left alone. Now, Dean’s afraid these pajamas are too tight and constricting for the fragile mini-wings. 

 

Getting an idea, Dean reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his pocket knife. He holds the fabric far away from Castiel’s body and slices it in the opposite direction so he won’t accidentally hurt Castiel with the blade. It’s a bit of guesswork, not only because he has to eyeball the wing’s sizes but also because Dean has no idea how flexible they’ll be. 

 

The second Dean touches one of Castiel’s wings, the baby squawks at him. Actually squawks. It’s the most adorable thing, especially when you add in the angry eyebrows and scrunched up nose that accompany the displeasure. 

 

“I won’t hurt you,” Dean promises, reaching for the wing again. When his hand touches the extra appendage, a few shiny black feathers fall to the bed, making Dean wince as guilt floods his system. Dean brushes them aside, not wanting Castiel to see them in case it will make him upset, and gently coaxes the wing through the hole in the pajamas. It fits surprisingly well for how make-shift it is, only bunching a little awkwardly at one spot. All it takes is a tug and the fabric stretches around the bump it was caught on. 

 

Castiel blinks up at him slowly, his body relaxing as he realizes this won’t hurt. He allows Dean to put his other wing through the corresponding hole. 

 

This doesn’t mean Castiel is happy about his situation, though. By the time he’s zipped and buttoned into his pajamas, the baby is back to glaring at Dean. He continues to pout as Dean puts him on his hip to bring him into the kitchen where he can hear Sam and Charlie still talking. 

 

“Let's get you something to eat, hmm? Bet that’ll help your grumpy mood.”

 

A series of babbles comes out of Castiel again. This time, though, they’re clearly happy and excited. When Dean glances down at Castiel to find a big, toothless smile, he gets that feeling again. Something makes him want to believe that Castiel is aware of what’s going on right now. It’s crazy, he still understands that, but he can’t help it. It’s wishful thinking. 

 

Would things be easier if Castiel did understand? Or would that just make things ten times worse? 

 

Dean gives Castiel a final look of curiosity before making himself focus again. He needs to feed the baby and put him to bed. Hopefully by morning, Rowena will know what to do. 

Chapter Text

As an angel, Castiel was indifferent toward the things that would make a human squirm. He didn’t care about issues like sexual orientation or intercourse. Fashion was a silly concept - he wore the same outfit every day and thought it was perfectly fine, never understanding why people would put up with the hassle of shopping and picking out clothes for each day. Gender was non-existent - a concept angels found to be absurd. A vessel was a vessel. Castiel saw people’s souls when he looked at them. The minor details always faded into the background. 

 

Then he met Dean Winchester, and the world changed. Castiel began to see everything. Not just the brilliant soul, but the green eyes that reminded him of fresh cut grass, and the freckles that were more beautiful than the stars. Suddenly, Castiel wasn’t just an angel. He was a friend. A brother. A Winchester. He started to care more about the things he never saw as important. Netflix sucked him in - a dangerous habit that Sam had warned him about but Castiel hadn’t heeded. Humanity wasn’t just a curious thing to study anymore. It was something he was immersed in. Something he wanted to be. 

 

Then he fell, and he realized real quick that being a human sucked. Actually, sucked is an understatement. A monstrous one. Castiel nearly died, multiple times. 

 

He’s still aware of the things he wasn’t before - which is why he was absolutely mortified when Dean undressed him. How dare the eldest Winchester do something so unbelievably inappropriate? It’s uncalled for. Ridiculous.  Dean’s the one who taught Castiel about personal space as humans. 

 

Besides, Castiel is an angel of the lord, dammit! 

 

That’s the only thing helping Castiel stay calm. He’s still an angel. Tiny and weak, yes, but an angel nonetheless. Even if Rowena can’t fix this, Castiel’s grace will eventually heal itself enough to fight off the curse, and he’ll go back to normal. That takes a weight off his chest for sure, but plenty of weight still remains. It’s not that he thinks Dean or Sam would ever let something bad happen to him, but now that he’s a damn baby he needs to be fed and clothed and protected and - Castiel shudders in Dean’s arms - changed. He has to be changed. That makes him vulnerable, and there’s nothing Castiel hates more than being vulnerable. Castiel can’t even feel his grace, that’s how small it is, and he’s terrified it will take too long for it to heal him. Dean and Sam might get sick of him. Babies are a lot to handle. Castiel has seen plenty of parents overwhelmed by the tiny humans before. 

 

Castiel feels himself flying again, and he’s so deep in his thoughts and worries that he forgets to school his reactions. A pathetic little whine escapes him and he flails his arms and legs. Then warm arms are wrapped around him again. He blinks up at the person holding him and relaxes. Even though he’s upset they made him fly again, and he’s not as comfortable with anyone else as he is with Dean, Castiel trusts Sam. He’ll settle for Sam - as long as Dean comes back soon.

 

A giant finger starts poking at the tip of Castiel’s nose, making him go cross-eyed every time it gets close enough to touch his skin. He jumps each time - don’t judge him, it truly looks like that thing is going to attack every time it approaches him. This makes Sam chuckle softly, which is extremely rude. Dean had laughed at him while changing him too, not caring that he was embarrassing Castiel. These Winchesters get too much enjoyment out of making Castiel angry. He hates it. 

 

“Dean, look at that little pout.” Sam turns his body, showing Castiel that Dean’s been there the entire time, just a few inches away. He’s doing something with his hands at the counter, water running in the sink. 

 

Kind green eyes look at Castiel, brightening as he grins at him. “He’s so damn cute. You shoulda seen when I changed him. Kid was pissed.”

 

“You think he’s aware of what’s going on? Like, he’s still Cas in there?”

 

“No. I mean… I don’t think so.” Both Sam and Dean stare at him for a few seconds. He can tell how uncomfortable this thought makes them. For some reason, the men don’t want Castiel to be Castiel. 

 

It unsettles him. 

 

Thankfully, Sam clarifies where the boys’ thoughts are going by saying, “I’d feel awful if that were the case. Could you imagine what that would be like for him?”

 

“I know.” Dean sighs, fiddling with something in his hands. Castiel can’t tell what it is. “It’s shitty to say, but I’m hoping Rowena is right about him having an infant mind. For his sake, you know? ‘Cuz our Cas stuck in that body? The word frustrating wouldn’t even begin to cover how that situation would be for him.”

 

Castiel releases a soft puff of air in relief. It’s not that they wanted to get rid of Castiel because they don’t like him or want to spend time with him. They aren’t being selfish or trying to pretend like the grown angel Castiel never existed. The Winchester’s are just thinking about Castiel and how he would feel in this situation. That creates a warm glow in Castiel’s belly. 

 

Then he’s flying again! What is up with these people tossing him around like he’s a damn hot potato? It’s rude! And dangerous! Castiel makes sure to tell them this much as he’s situated in Dean’s arms, the man trying to make them both comfortable. Castiel couldn't care less if he’s comfortable in Dean’s arms. There are important matters that need to be discussed. 

 

“If the two of you don’t stop passing me back and forth, I’m going to kick your asses!” Castiel wacks at the big hand reaching for his mouth. “I am talking you asshole! You don’t get to stick your finger into my mouth while I’m talking! You both need to figure out-”

 

Castiel’s angry rant is cut off when something is pressed between his lips. He sputters and turns his head away. Something achingly familiar is on his tongue. It’s warmer than usual, and richer in flavor, but Castiel’s almost certain it’s milk. 

 

Milk isn’t so bad… especially since, now that Castiel’s thinking about it, Castiel is pretty hungry. But what in the world were they using to get it into his mouth? A strange straw? Surely they could just hold up the cup to his lips and Castiel could drink like a normal human being?

 

“Come on, Cas,” Castiel hears Dean say in his light, airy voice he’s been using with him. “Drink your bottle. It’ll make your belly feel much better. Then you’ll probably feel nice and sleepy, and we can cuddle on the couch watching TV until you wanna go to bed, okay?”

 

Castiel considers this. That actually sounds like a decent plan - minus the bottle. Castiel knows what a bottle is, and it now makes sense what they were trying to put in his mouth. One of those strange rubber nipples that are supposed to trick the baby into thinking they’re drinking from their mother.

 

Castiel doesn’t have a mother. 

 

Castiel doesn’t need to be tricked into thinking he’s drinking from this non-existent mother. 

 

Castiel doesn’t want a damn bottle. 

 

The thing comes back against his lips, little droplets coating them until he can feel milk dripping down his chin. “Open up, Cas. Drink for me. You can do it. Drink for me little guy.”

 

Rolling his eyes at how dedicated Dean seems to be to the cause, Castiel gives in. He has a feeling this rubber nipple is going to be jabbed at him repeatedly until he drinks, so he might as well bite the bullet and get the whole degrading ordeal over with. 

 

A dangerous thought enters Castiel’s mind as he finally allows himself to relax into Dean’s hold, opening his small mouth so he can latch onto the fake nipple. Castiel hated being human, hated it to the pit of his very soul, but if he were to stay this way - and for some reason his grace never kicks back in - he wouldn’t hate this. He wouldn’t be thrilled, but he wouldn’t hate it. 

 

His thoughts must have distracted him because Dean pokes at his cheek and whispers, “Drink little one.” 

 

After doing a quick check, Castiel realizes that he stopped sucking when his mind wandered. He continues working at the nipple, his head so full that he keeps needing to be reminded by Dean to drink. It takes a very long time for him to finish - in fact, Castiel’s pretty sure there’s still a little bit of milk left when Dean finally gives up. 

 

“Alright, Cas, let’s get you cleaned up.”

 

Castiel balks at this, eyes widening in anger and betrayal. “You said we’d cuddle and watch TV! I drank that stupid fricken bottle, and now I want TV! I demand it! You might think I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I do understand, and your ass better get me on that couch right now Dean Winchester!” 

 

Dean pats at Castiel’s lips and chin with a miniature towel. Castiel does not let this sway him. He is a man - or a fledgling if you want to be specific - on a mission. “I swear, Dean, you promised! I drank from that weird ass rubber thing and let you see me naked! You get me in front of that TV this instant! And you better not watch some boring car show or something like that! I want-” 

 

"Shhhh, little guy. Calm down. We're just going to the living room. Remember? I promised cuddles and TV." Dean laughs to himself. "There I go talking to you like you get it again."

 

Castiel’s tiny heart drops into his stomach. "I do get it! Please don't stop, Dean. Please. I don't want to be talked to like a baby. You have to keep telling me what's going on so I'm not always in the dark."

 

"Hmmm, what should we watch?" Dean muses, ignoring Castiel's words that to him just sound like babbles. Castiel’s determined to keep trying, though. Surely, with his knowledge, he can teach himself to talk soon enough.

 

Dean stops on an antique car show and Castiel slaps his hand against the remote. "No! I hate these, Dean. You know that!"

 

Laughing, Dean returns to flipping through the channels. "You hated those kinds of shows when you were an adult, too. Kinda glad some things haven't changed."

 

That makes Castiel relax and smile against Dean's chest. Dean is happy that Castiel is still like himself in some ways. That's good. That means he won't be expecting Castiel to act entirely different, as if he really is a new person. This knowledge is a comfort beyond belief. 

 

Things get worse, though. Worse than old cars. 

 

Dean starts going through the channels with cartoons! “What about this? Hmmm? Mickey Mouse?”

 

Castiel whips his head around and glares at Dean. “I do not want to watch Mickey Mouse, Dean Winchester! We were in the middle of watching Stranger Things before leaving for the hunt. I would like to continue Stranger Things! Or at least something adult!”

 

“Okay,” Dean says on a laugh. “No Mickey Mouse either.”

 

After a few more back and forths between them - at one point Castiel smacks Dean in the head, because how dare he think Castiel would ever want to watch a princess movie!? - they reach a compromise. Spongebob Squarepants. It’s not Castiel’s favorite, not by a long shot, but he’s watched it before and knows it can be pretty entertaining and funny. It’s also one of those shows that has jokes for the adults too. He appreciates that with his current situation. 

 

They watch three episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, Castiel enjoying himself very much. Dean keeps him cozy in his arms, his strength making it easy for Castiel to just relax into the hold. The position makes Castiel feel incredibly safe. Plus, it’s warm and Dean’s flannel is nice and soft and he smells so good. So familiar. Like home. 

 

Castiel drifts to sleep thinking that this situation might not be so terrible after all. 

 

As long as it’s not permanent. 

Chapter Text

The four adults in the bunker stay up most of the night, working to find a cure for Castiel. By the time the sun is rising, Dean’s half-asleep on the library table, Rowena is cursing in a different language, Sam is nearly pulling his hair out, and Charlie is online looking up infant care articles. Suffice to say, the search didn’t go well. At all. 

 

“This is the only thing it could be!” Rowena shouts at a very impatient Sam an hour later. “It’s specific. You can’t substitute the ingredients. The witch is dead, therefore you can’t use her blood to cure him!”

 

Dean hangs his head, continuing to pace off to the side. They don’t even have a body to dig up and drain. They salted and burned the witch, then cleaned the scene to rid it of any incriminating evidence. There’s not a trace of that witch’s blood that they know of, and apparently that blood is the binding agent for the curse on Castiel. 

 

“Are you sure that’s the one?” Charlie asks, taking the book from Rowena to look it over. 

 

“I’m positive. This is the only one I’ve ever heard of - the only one any of us found in all of these books - that can work on a supernatural being. Castiel is an angel. It must be this!” 

 

“There has to be a way to fix him,” Dean whispers, almost to himself. “He’s a damn angel. You have to be able to fix him.” 

 

“This curse is so strong that a human would die from it, Dean. It's meant to suck up a life force. The only reason Castiel survived was because of his grace, but his grace was already so weak and drained as is, and now that it was used to protect his life from the curse, there’s barely any left. Did you see his wings? They’re losing their feathers.” 

 

A long silence stretches across the room. It’s Charlie who finally has the nerve to ask, “What does that mean?”

 

“It means he’s becoming human. Fully human. He’ll lose his wings, and with them, his grace.”

 

Dean laughs, the sound nearly hysterical. “So, not only is my best friend stuck as a baby for the rest of his life, but he’s also stuck as a human? As in, for the second time, Castiel is human. Something he hated being.”

 

“Not exactly,” Rowena says cautiously. “He won’t actually be stuck as a baby forever. I see no reason for him to not grow up like a normal, healthy human.” 

 

Before anyone can say another word on the subject, Dean hears sharp screams from his bedroom. He’s noticed that with Castiel. The baby has yet to cry. Not once. He just babbles - using different tones depending on what he’s feeling - and screams when he’s upset. It worries Dean. Babies are supposed to cry, aren’t they? Surely this screaming can’t be normal. 

 

Dean scoops Castiel out of the blanket filled laundry basket that Dean used as a make-shift crib last night. The baby’s screaming stops, but his breathing is still heavy and panicked, and his eyes are just a few blinks away from releasing tears. 

 

“What’s wrong, little one?” Dean whispers. 

 

Castiel just shoves his face into Dean’s neck and grips his flannel with tiny hands as tightly as he had the night before. He sniffles before releasing a tiny whimper. That’s when Dean realizes the baby is shaking violently. 

 

His heart breaking, Dean rubs a gentle hand in circles between the tiny wings on Castiel's back and starts to rock on his feet in a soothing motion. “Shhh. You’re okay, baby. I’m right here. Everything’s okay. I’ve got you. You’re safe, I’ve got you.”

 

The shaking slows and Castiel’s breathing evens out. Dean figures it’s because the baby finds his voice soothing, but there’s still that tiny part of him that’s wondering if Castiel understands the words he’s saying.  

 

Just in case, Dean tells him, “I’m not going anywhere, but I need to put you on the bed, okay? You need a new diaper.”

 

Castiel whimpers and tightens his hold on Dean, making it so Dean has to pry his hands off of his shirt. The baby’s bottom lip puffs out and begins to wobble, eyes glazing over again. Dean practically dives for the diaper, wipes, and baby powder next to the bed. He’s actually out of breath when he sits in front of Castiel to change his diaper. The baby squeals and reaches out for him, making little grabby hands. 

 

Dean’s heart melts. Completely melts. Like, in a puddle, going down the drain, it’s a goner, melts

 

“Two seconds, Cas. I promise. Two seconds.” Dean’s hands move quickly as they hurry through the changing process. This is when being able to break down a gun in less than thirty-seconds comes in handy. Don’t tell John Winchester Dean thinks that. He’d be rolling over in his grave at the wasted skill. 

 

“Let’s get you a bottle,” Dean says - half to himself, and half to the possible-but-probably-not coherent baby - once he’s freshly diapered and back in his pajamas. The bottle last night seemed to have helped Castiel. It had put him straight to sleep. Maybe it will ease his anxiety this morning as well. Hell, maybe the baby is screaming because he’s hungry. Then a bottle would definitely fix the problem. 

 

Dean impressively fixes Castiel a bottle with his free hand, then brings the bottle and the baby into the library. Everyone is in the same spots as before, and nobody looks any happier. 

 

“Nothing?” Dean asks, even though he knows. 

 

The three give a variation of a negative answer. 

 

“Listen, lads,” Rowena begins as she packs up her books and prepares to leave. “I’ll keep searching, but I suggest you start accepting this. This may be the first time the Winchesters can’t solve the problem.”

 

There’s a thick tension that falls over the room once Rowena is gone. Sam ends up leaving first, mumbling about getting everyone coffee and donuts. It’s while he’s gone that Dean tries to feed Castiel. The baby plays with the nipple for a few minutes, almost like he’s trying to push it away with his tongue, but he eventually gives in and begins to drink. Castiel makes tiny sniffling sounds as he sucks the thing down. He may have fought it at the beginning, but he’s enthusiastically drinking it now. 

 

Too enthusiastically. After just a few more seconds, Castiel is gurgling and coughing. When Dean removes the nipple from his mouth, the baby’s lips are coated with milk, some of it dripping off his chin. He coughs a few more times, looking up at Dean with teary eyes. 

 

“Gotta slow down there, bud,” Dean says with a soft smile. “It’s okay. Let’s try again, yeah?”

 

Watching Dean carefully, the baby opens his mouth and allows him to slide the nipple between his lips. He sucks slowly at first - clearly anxious about choking again - but then he’s back to chugging the thing. Dean has to force Castiel to unlatch from the nipple, making the boy take a break to breathe. It earns him an angry ‘nuh!’ as the baby cranes his neck to chase the bottle. Dean inserts the nipple again, watching the little one go at it until he’s once again sucking too hard for Dean’s comfort. They continue playing the little game - Castiel pissed and Dean worried - until the bottle is all gone. 

 

Dean puts the empty bottle on the table and arranges Castiel in his arms so he can burp him. He bounces in place as he gently alternates between rubbing circles and patting his back, careful not to hurt his wings. 

 

“Can you do me a favor?” Dean asks as Charlie types away at the computer. 

 

Without looking back at him, Charlie says, “Yup!”

 

“Can you look up if it’s normal for him to choke while he drinks his bottle? I just - I don’t want him to get hurt.”

 

“Oh, of course.” Charlie leans toward the computer, moving the mouse around before typing. 

 

In the meantime, Castiel lets out a tiny little burp that would be pathetic if it wasn’t so cute. Dean presses a kiss to his temple and whispers, “Good job little man,” before cradling him once again in his arms. 

 

Dean paces around the room as he waits for Charlie to find the answer to his question. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to wait long. 

 

“It says you could try a different nipple size. But it also says that it just takes practice for him. He’s learning how to breathe and suck at the same time. Sounds like most babies have trouble with that at first.”

 

A relief floods Dean’s system as he smiles down at his baby. “Good. I - that’s good.”

 

“He’s going to be fine, Dean. You’re doing a great job already.”

 

“Yeah… thanks.” Dean looks down at the tiny angel in his arms, unsure if that’s true. Castiel deserves the world. He definitely deserves a better parent than Dean. Dean’s a fumbling, rough hunter who doesn’t even know what Charlie means by trying a different nipple size. There are sizes? Don’t they just… like… come with the bottles? 

 

Dean ends up standing behind Charlie and looking at her computer screen. She’s now looking at a chart of infant nutrition that goes by the baby’s age in months. Dean frowns down at Castiel before asking, “How old do you think he is?”

 

“Not sure. But there’s this great chart I found! It has all the baby milestones listed on it. Things the baby should or shouldn’t be able to do at certain ages. Maybe that can help us narrow it down, if we can figure out a way to test him.”

 

“That’s a great idea. Yeah.” Dean squints at the chart, wincing. “We should do that soon. All we got is formula, but if he needs that baby food shit, I want to get it as soon as we can. I don’t want him getting sick because we’re incompetent.”

 

Charlie smiles up at Dean. “You’re such a cute dad.”

 

“Shut up,” Dean grumbles, tucking his chin to the side to hide his own smile. “Maybe if he’s in a good mood, we can try to see what he can do?”

 

“Sounds like a plan!” 

 

“Great.” Dean peers down at Castiel. He tickles the baby’s chubby cheek with his finger, laughing to himself when it makes Castiel jump in surprise and look up at him with those huge eyes of his. Those eyes remind Dean of a damn Disney character. He’s going to be in serious trouble with those eyes. 

 

Dean can’t wait. 

 

---- 

 

Castiel is having one of the worst days in his entire existence. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s damn close. 

 

First, he woke up in that laundry basket Dean put him in - which he had been unimpressed with the night before because he wanted to be closer to Dean in case there was a danger of some kind and Castiel couldn’t defend himself. The laundry basket was even less impressive in the morning, when the room without windows was pitch black and Dean was nowhere to be found. 

 

Second, he woke up because of a nightmare. A terrifying nightmare. He was stuck as a baby, just like now, and demons came in to kill the Winchesters. They murdered Dean and Sam while Castiel had to just watch, and then they captured Castiel. Thankfully, he woke up before finding out what their plan was for him. 

 

Third, he woke up needing to go to the bathroom. The pressure in his stomach had been so intense that he couldn’t help but scream when a particularly bad cramp zapped him. The scream made his body relax, and with it his bladder had let go without his permission. It was the most humiliating thing. 

 

Fourth, his screaming had drawn Dean’s attention, and Dean changed his soiled diaper! 

 

And now? 

 

Now he’s a lab rat. 

 

Castiel is unimpressed with this current plan Dean and Charlie have cooked up. They’ve got a notebook and a pen, studying him closely. They poke and prod at him, talking about Castiel like he’s not even there. By doing this, they come up with the following findings: Castiel can smile, coo, chew on things, giggle, babble using consonants, and lift his head up. 

 

Then it gets worse. 

 

They start making Castiel participate in the humiliation!

 

“Come on, buddy. Try to roll over. You can do it!” Charlie encourages him, clapping her hands together. “Come on. Roll!”

 

Dean rolls Castiel’s body, making sure his wing doesn’t get caught awkwardly, and repeats “roll!” before setting him back on his stomach to do it himself. It’s how Castiel has seen dogs trained on television. It’s demeaning. Especially since he can’t get his damn body to cooperate. 

 

Castiel has waged wars. He has lived centuries. He has conquered hell and saved the righteous man. 

 

He will not be defeated by the ability to roll! 

 

Making a little growly noise that he’d be embarrassed about if he wasn’t concentrating so hard, Castiel pulls his knees up to his chest and reaches an arm over toward Dean, trying his best to get to the man. He rocks on his bum a few times, continuing to try and grab Dean, and eventually gets himself onto his side. He even manages to keep his wing from getting pinched! Castiel isn’t the least bit embarrassed about the fact that he squeals. He’s way too excited about this momentous achievement. 

 

After that, it’s just a few squirms and a big rocking motion, and he’s on his stomach. He rolled!

 

Charlie and Dean cheer loudly, doing little dances like he solved world hunger instead of just rolling over. And Castiel loves that. He loves how happy they are. It makes him feel accomplished and proud, something he’s never been very good at feeling. He finds himself clapping his hands along with the two adults and smiling. 

 

He begins to see the tests like a challenge. How many times can he do something to surprise them? How many times can he make them happy just by working really hard to do something simple? Castiel wants to show them he can be a good baby, especially since he overheard them talking earlier. Charlie had made it sound like Castiel may be stuck like this. Permanently. 

 

Castiel was upset about it at the time, beginning to shake uncontrollably again until Dean calmed him down by bouncing him softly and whispering comforting words to him, but now he’s put it to the back of his mind. There’s nothing he can do about it at the moment. Right now, he needs to focus on showing them that he’s worth keeping. If he is in fact stuck like this, Castiel has to stay with the Winchesters. He can’t survive this if they give him away. Even if it kills him, Castiel will do whatever he possibly can to make the Winchesters want him. They don’t have to love him, they don’t even have to accept him as family, but they have to keep him. 

 

With this objective in mind, Castiel is able to get up on his hands and knees and rock back and forth. He even manages to half-crawl, half-drag himself a few feet. This earns him another round of cheers, and a huge smile from Dean that makes Castiel nearly swoon. Of course, walking is out of the question, Castiel knows when to admit defeat, but Charlie and Dean don’t seem to be upset about that. 

 

He’s also able to find a ball that they hide under a blanket - why the hell they do that, Castiel has absolutely no idea, but it made them happy that he could do it. 

 

Castiel can hold himself steady on his legs as long as Dean’s holding his hands, can pass a ball from one hand to another, can gesture for what he wants, can imitate sounds, and can sit up on his own if they help him get into the position first. 

 

By the end of the whole ordeal, Castiel is absolutely exhausted, Charlie’s face is flushed from laughing, and Dean’s looking down at him with what Castiel is almost certain is pride. It’s the best Castiel’s felt in months. 

 

Dean pulls Castiel into his arms, gently cradling the back of his head and sitting on the couch with him. Castiel squirms until he’s comfortable, his hands immediately grabbing at Dean’s flannel as usual, then he allows his eyes to flutter shut. He listens as they discuss their findings. Apparently, he’s somewhere between 6 to 8 months. Castiel doesn’t much care, but Charlie mentions he can eat baby food and soft foods now according to the internet, and Castiel’s excited about that. The warm milk Dean’s been giving him is nice, and he loves being close to Dean while the man feeds him because it makes him feel peaceful and safe, but it doesn’t satisfy his hunger. Some real food might be nice. 

 

Thinking of burgers, Castiel tightens his hold on Dean’s flannel and drifts off to sleep. 

Chapter Text

When Castiel stirs awake, he’s no longer in Dean’s arms. There are tall walls around him, made of mesh so he can see through them, and a blanket tucked into his sides. Castiel turns his head from side to side, trying to figure out where he is. It takes him a minute to realize the contraption he’s in is located inside the bunker’s library. He tries to sit up, wanting to get a better look - wanting to find Dean, if he’s being honest - but fails with a loud grunt. A second later, Sam’s staring down at him with a kind smile. 

 

“Look who’s awake!” He scoops Castiel out of the prison, settling him on his hip. The new position allows Castiel to be able to look around, so he doesn’t complain, even though he doesn’t like being carried this way. It makes his muscles sore having no support on his back. He likes it better when Dean holds him against his chest, a hand cupping the back of his head or pressed between his wings to keep him safely in place. Sam’s just walking around, letting him bounce and sway without a thought. It makes him instantly grumpy. The mood worsens when Castiel realizes Dean isn’t anywhere near here. 

 

Castiel tries to say, “Dean?” but what comes out is a pathetic little, “Uhn?” He blushes and tries again. “Uh-uhn?”

 

Well, there goes that plan. 

 

At least the talking makes Sam pay attention to him. 

 

“What’s goin’ on, buddy? Do you need something?”

 

Dean. “Uhn!”

 

“Hmmm. Dean said you shouldn’t be hungry. Is it your diaper?”

 

Castiel’s breath hitches as Sam very rudely pulls at the top of his diaper and looks down at his naked bum. Dean doing that was one thing, but Sam? No way!

 

Thank god he didn’t wake up with a soiled diaper. Castiel would die.  

 

He still gives Sam a piece of his mind, smacking at him until he leaves his diaper alone. 

 

“Hmm. You don’t need to be changed. Maybe a pacifier? Do you want a pacifier?” Sam starts rooting around a large bag that’s been set down on the library table next to a stack of books. Castiel’s not sure if he remembers what a pacifier is, but he’s hoping it helps him feel better like the bottles do, because he misses Dean and is feeling anxious without him. He shouldn’t have been so stupid to fall asleep. Castiel was supposed to stay awake, holding onto Dean nice and tight so that he wouldn’t be left behind. 

 

Something rubbery and warm skims Castiel’s lips. It feels just like his bottle would, and Castiel opens his mouth in confusion, wondering why Sam changed his mind about feeding him. Maybe he couldn’t find a pacifier?

 

After a few tentative sucks, Castiel realizes no milk is coming out of it. He scrunches his eyebrows and sucks at the rubber harder and faster. When he gets the same results, he tries to look at his mouth to see what’s going on down there. All this accomplishes is a slight headache from going cross-eyed. 

 

Castiel huffs in frustration, then tries sucking the thing again. 

 

“There we go,” Sam coos. “Do you like the paci, Cas?”

 

Paci? Oh, pacifier. This must be the pacifier. The knowledge makes Castiel settle down a touch, no longer needing to worry about his bottle malfunctioning. Once the challenge of understanding the situation is gone, Castiel finds himself enjoying the pacifier, gently sucking at it while examining the book in front of him. He likes the way it fits in his mouth, filling it even better than the bottle’s nipple does, and the steady weight against his tongue is soothing for some reason. Castiel’s heartbeat slowly calms with each passing moment. He’s still anxious about Dean’s whereabouts, but Sam is a decent place holder for the man. 

 

Good enough for now, at least. 

 

---- 

 

"Okay. So you don't like peas either," Sam grumbles as he wipes a glob of green goo off his eyelid. He sets the jar of pureed peas off to the side where it joins the jar of carrots, sweet potatoes, and green beans. They only have one jar left. 

 

Sam presents the final jar to Castiel like it's a ritual sacrifice. "Pumpkin. You liked pumpkin pie. You probably don't remember that, but you did. Can we try pumpkin, hmm? Maybe you'll like pumpkin."

 

Silently praying to himself, Sam opens the jar of pumpkin puree and dips a spoon into it. He's learned his lesson, this time only getting a tiny amount on the spoon, enough for Castiel to taste but not enough to be assaulted by it. Upping his game, Sam makes little plane noises as he swoops the spoon in. From Castiel's pinched expression, the baby isn't impressed.

 

Sam gets the spoon past those pursed pink lips and holds his breath. Staring wide eyed at Sam, without blinking, Castiel pushes his tongue out of his mouth and vibrates it. Pumpkin and spit fly in different directions. As he's trying to clean a strand of his hair with a wipe, Sam notices the smug expression on Castiel's face. His jaw drops. This is the sassiest little baby he's ever met. If he didn't know better, he'd think the tiny angel is aware enough to be fucking with him. 

 

"Alright, listen here," Sam says, using his best stern voice. "You have to eat something. You've tasted them all. Now pick."

 

Since the baby doesn't understand any of that, Sam lines the jars up in front of Castiel and points to each one. "What do you want? What does the baby like?"

 

Castiel grunts as he pushes forward to reach for the jar of sweet potatoes. It takes considerable effort for Sam not to whoop in excitement. 

 

"Good choice, buddy," Sam tells Castiel as he looks around for the spoon. He glances up just in time to see Castiel with a look of extreme concentration on his face take his chubby hand and slap the jar. It sends the thing skidding across the table and straight into Sam's lap. 

 

"Perfect," Sam growls under his breath, not wanting to let the baby know he's getting pissed. It's not Castiel's fault, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. The kid is lucky he's so damn cute, even with multi-colored splotches of food in his hair and on his face. Sam doesn't think Castiel swallowed a single thing during this endeavor. 

 

"Woaah, what happened here?" Sam hears Dean tease as he walks into the kitchen to take in the state of Sam and Castiel. He bursts out laughing when he gets close enough to see all the damage the baby has done. 

 

"Unh! N - N - n uhn!" Castiel starts chanting, reaching for Dean with his messy hands. "Unh! Unh!"

 

"You're okay, buddy. One second," Dean tells Castiel, still focused on his brother. "Messy much, Sammy?"

 

"I can't get him to eat anything. At all."

 

"None of these?" 

 

"Uhn! Uhn!"

 

"Nope. Hated each one." Sam gestures to the mess around them. "Clearly."

 

Dean frowns before looking at the baby again. He's struggling harder now to get out of the little high chair they bought him this morning. When he sees Dean is looking at him, he opens and closes his sticky fingers in a grabbing motion and starts grunting, "Uhn, uhn!" 

 

"Shhh. You're okay." Dean sticks his pointer finger out and offers it to Castiel, not caring how dirty the baby’s two tiny hands are as they clamp down on him in a death grip. It's worth it when he watches Castiel visibly relax into his seat. 

 

Having a feeling he might be able to get Castiel to cooperate, Dean bumps his hip against Sam's shoulder. "Move."

 

Sam rolls his eyes and stands up, giving Dean his seat. Dean looks at the jars carefully before picking up the pumpkin with his free hand. "His favorite pie is pumpkin."

 

"Doesn't matter. Trust me, I tried."

 

"Mmm." Dean doesn't say that he thinks Castiel might eat for him, not wanting to make Sam feel bad. It's not Sam's fault. It's like Castiel said, they've always had a more profound bond. It makes sense that Castiel would be heavily leaning on that bond during this time of confusion and fear. 

 

Still holding Castiel's hands - or, more accurately, still having his finger held by Castiel's hands - Dean uses his free hand to scoop some pumpkin onto a clean spoon. He starts to make airplane noises as he loops the spoon through the air. 

 

Just as Sam grumbles, "He doesn't like that," Castiel lets loose a squeal of delight and opens his mouth wide. He accepts the spoon with a hum of pleasure, smacking his lips afterward as he enjoys the taste on his tongue. 

 

Dean ducks his head to hide his smirk, but Sam sees it. "You're both assholes."

 

"Yeah. We're okay with that." Dean winks at Castiel, then coos, "Aren't we, baby? Are we little assholes?"

 

Castiel giggles like crazy at that, not so much at the words since he doesn't understand them, but more likely at the silly tone of Dean's voice. 

 

Pausing before he stomps out of the kitchen to go take a shower, Sam watches his brother feed the baby another spoonful. "You're really good at this."

 

Dean shrugs. "I've done it before, Sammy. Don't feel bad. You'll get the hang of it." When Sam says nothing, getting lost in his guilty thoughts as he's reminded that Dean had to raise him while he was still a kid himself, Dean adds, "Plus, he's the baby version of an asshole, remember? I'm sure he'll dish it out to me sooner or later."

 

Sam smiles at that, but he's still not fully happy. Not like Dean. Maybe Castiel doesn't want them to both be his daddy. Maybe Sam should be the uncle, instead. It'd make Sam sad at first, but he thinks he'd get over it. He knows he would enjoy being the cool uncle, and seeing Castiel happy would be worth the missed opportunity to be a father. 

 

If that's what Castiel subconsciously wants, maybe that's why he's acting so differently for Dean. Sam understands that. Of course he does. And he’ll respect it, too. Sam just wants Castiel to be happy. He'll make that happen any way he can. 

Chapter Text

After finishing off two and a half jars of baby food - pumpkin, peas, and half of a butternut squash - Dean decides to give the complete mess of a boy a bath. It’s around the time they usually eat dinner, so Sam goes out to get some burgers from the diner downtown, leaving Dean and Castiel alone since Charlie is out on a date tonight. Dean doesn’t mind the alone time with the little guy. He had taken a nap once Castiel fell asleep after their morning of tests, then Dean ran to the store for a few more things Castiel needed. It had only been a few hours without Castiel - he had gone days, sometimes weeks before without seeing him - but Dean missed him like crazy.

 

“Alright. Let’s get you cleaned up. Then maybe we can watch a movie or something! Would you like that?” Dean asks, placing Castiel on his diapered bottom next to where Dean’s kneeling on the fuzzy bath mat. He starts to situate Castiel so he can be supported by the side of the tub, but then Dean realizes that he doesn’t need to do that. Castiel is sitting up fully on his own. The baby is distracted by the untied shoelace on Dean’s boot, his tiny fingers tugging at it. Castiel was always bitching at Dean for having his boots untied. The small similarity makes Dean smile. 

 

When Dean turns the water on, the baby jumps, a squeak falling from his lips as he looks up at Dean with wide eyes. He looks on the verge of tears, nearly breaking Dean’s damn heart.

 

“Shhh. Just the tub. See?” Dean lifts Castiel up, turning him so he can look to see the water filling the basin. “Not scary! See!” 

 

Castiel squirms in his arms, looking quite uncomfortable with the situation, but he doesn’t cry. He allows Dean to set him back on his bum, the baby watching him closely while Dean reaches for the Walmart bag he brought into the bathroom earlier. When he went to the store, Dean got more baby food, formula, soap, diapers, and wipes. He and Sam agreed earlier that they’d do a big shopping trip tomorrow if Rowena really couldn’t find anything - she’s in Africa right now following up a possible lead - but that didn’t stop Dean from buying a few extra things anyway. Like some cute outfits, pajamas, a little jar of bath toys, stacking rings, a rubber police car, and a picture book. 

 

This bag has the bath toys, as well as baby soap. When Dean starts pulling toys from the clear jar, Castiel’s eyes grow wide. They’re all squishy, rubber animals that can be filled with water and squirted. Dean offers Castiel the purple octopus in his hand, and the baby snatches it quickly. That only lasts a few seconds, though, because then Castiel spots a blue dinosaur that Dean took out. He practically lunges toward the toy. Dean catches him before he can fall flat on his face and scoops the baby up, grabbing the dinosaur and giving it to him. The octopus is thrown to the side as Castiel brings the dinosaur up to his face, going cross-eyed with how closely he’s looking at it. 

 

The baby is so distracted by his new toy that he barely registers when the water is turned off, the bubble bath is stirred in, and his own diaper is removed. It’s not until his bare toes are dipping into the warm water that he stops looking at the dinosaur. He kicks out a leg, splashing Dean, and makes an unimpressed noise. 

 

“Nuh!”

 

“Just a real quick bath! No big deal.” Dean dips his toes in again to show him that it’s not going to hurt him. It’s only a few inches of water, since Castiel is so little and still not stable when it comes to sitting up, and the temperature should be perfect. 

 

After careful consideration, his lips pursed and his eyebrows pulled in, Castiel finally relaxes his muscles and goes limp. Dean takes it as an invitation to put him down in the water. 

 

That was a mistake. 

 

The second Castiel’s wings get wet, the baby is shrieking. Absolutely screaming bloody murder. His head is thrown back, his legs kick out, his arms flap. Dean can tell he’s trying to lift his wings but the bottoms of them are soaked and heavy, making it impossible for his tiny muscles to get them out of the water. 

 

It gets worse when a few black feathers that had been coming loose fall into the water, floating around him. Thankfully, Castiel’s eyes are squeezed tight as he continues to screech in anger, but that might not last long. Dean doesn’t want him seeing the feathers, so he hurries to get soap on a washcloth and begins to wash the baby’s tiny body. 

 

Big blue eyes full of betrayal lock onto Dean as he cleans Castiel’s belly. Dean’s heart melts. “I’m so sorry, Cas. I didn’t - I didn’t think about your wings, baby. I’m so so sorry.” 

 

Dean clamps down on his bottom lip. He feels just a few seconds away from crying, which is crazy. It takes so much for Dean to cry usually. But Castiel’s clearly upset, maybe even in pain, and that hurts Dean more than any injury from a hunt could because Castiel is his little boy now, and Dean’s supposed to be protecting him. 

 

Instead, Dean’s the one harming him. He hates himself. 

 

“Almost done,” Dean tells the baby in a trembling voice. “Almost done.”

 

The baby’s bottom lip puffs out in a shaky pout, and a tear falls down his cheek. It’s the first time Dean’s seen him cry. 

 

Castiel catches sight of his black feathers and his breath hitches. His tiny hands slap at them, almost like he’s trying to collect them, and the second he gets fingers around one, he’s wailing. Full on sobbing, to the point where he can barely breathe. Bright red face. Tears falling rapidly. Lungs being fully tested. 

 

Dean does a final swipe of the washcloth along Castiel’s face, collecting the last of the food, then pulls the drain. The holes are small enough where he doesn’t have to worry about the feathers going down the pipes, so he can thankfully just scoop Castiel up and deal with the mess later. Right now, he needs to focus on his boy. 

 

“What happened?” Sam asks, coming into the bathroom just as Dean’s taking a soapy, dripping, sobbing Castiel out of the bath. He sees what’s happening and quickly scrambles for a towel. In the meantime, the baby curls up against Dean’s chest and buries his face in Dean’s flannel, his crying slowing down a touch. 

 

“He apparently hates baths,” Dean informs Sam as Sam tries to take the baby from him so he can wrap him in the towel. A sharp screech and tiny hands digging into Dean’s chest stop them from following through with that plan. Instead, Sam awkwardly drapes the towel over the back of Castiel’s naked body.  

 

"Nuh! Nuh!" Castiel cries, the sounds interrupted by a little hiccup before he lets out another, “Nuh!” 

 

“What? No what?” Dean asks. He’s not sure if ‘no’ is what Castiel is trying to say, but it’s the noise he made when he didn’t want to go in the bath, so it’s an educated guess. 

 

“Nuh!” Castiel pauses, thinking carefully about something, then lets go of Dean’s flannel with one hand so he can point a chubby finger at the bath. His blue dinosaur is in the center of the tub as it drains. 

 

“You want your dino?” Dean asks, pointing to the toy as well. 

 

“Yuh!” 

 

“Sam, can you grab that and wash it off? Bring it to the living room?”

 

Eyeing Castiel up, Sam nods and reaches for the toy. Dean leaves him behind to bring the baby into the living room. Castiel has stopped crying audibly, settling for sad little whimpers and continuous tears instead. His tiny body is violently trembling in Dean’s arms, so much so that Dean thinks it must hurt the poor boy. Dean bounces as he walks until he reaches the living room, then falls back on the couch and spreads out so he’s laying down with Castiel on his chest. 

 

The baby rests his chin on Dean’s sternum and flicks his red-rimmed blue eyes up at him. He has a drop of snot coming out of his right nostril, and as he blinks, he hiccups. Sam places the blue dinosaur on Dean’s right pec, where Castiel can keep an eye on both the toy and Dean. Then he slips a pacifier with a little blue car on it into Castiel’s tiny mouth. This seems to settle the baby down some more, but the shaking still hasn’t stopped. 

 

“He’s gonna piss on you,” Sam teases, smirking at his brother. 

 

Dean flips him off with one hand, using the other to stroke soothing circles through the towel on Castiel’s back, making sure to avoid his wings. The baby starts to coo at the sensation, his eyelids getting droopy. Dean finds himself just staring at Castiel in awe. 

 

“I don’t care,” Dean admits, not taking his eyes off the baby. “I’m not moving him.”

 

“You’re gonna be a great dad, Dean.”

 

Blushing, Dean finally looks over at Sam. “We’re both his dad. Isn’t that what we agreed on?”

 

Sam smiles, not looking at all upset, just proud and happy, and maybe even a little excited. “After watching you two together, there’s no way that’s true. He’s all yours. I’ll be the cool uncle, but that kid is obsessed with you. If anyone is going to be able to step into that role for him, it’s going to be you, Dean.”

 

“Oh,” Dean whispers, looking back at the baby. He tightens his hold on him protectively. “You - you really think I’ll be good at it?”

 

“You already are.”

 

“Good.” Dean finds himself smiling in relief. He wants to cry like he did before, but now for a completely different reason. It’s not because he’s hurting Castiel, or unable to help him, but because he’s realizing that this might be the best thing to ever happen to him. Maybe even to both of them, if Dean can help it. 

 

Dean won’t just make the best of this situation, he’ll make it so this situation is the best. 

 

He’s determined for that to be true, not just for himself, but for Castiel as well. 

 

Even if it takes 18 years. 

 

Even if it takes a lifetime. 

Chapter Text

Keeping his eyes closed, Castiel tries to process all that’s happened in the past few minutes. It was overwhelming enough for him to be turned into an infant, and possibly stuck that way forever, but his wings? What’s happening to his wings? He knew his grace must be low, or else he would be back to normal again, but he must not have any left inside him if he’s losing his feathers. He must be… he must be falling. It’s the only explanation he has. 

 

Castiel is going to become human. 

 

Vulnerable. 

 

Mortal. 

 

It's important now more than ever for him to make the Winchesters want him. If they decide they can't handle a human version of infant Castiel, he doesn't know what he'll do. Would they put him up for adoption? Give him to strangers? He doesn't want to believe the boys would do that to him, they always claimed Castiel was family, but babies are a lot to handle. Even a baby that can sort of control how hard he is to take care of. He's not sure if they'd even be able to hunt anymore, and Castiel knows for sure that he's not worth them giving that up. That's their life. Dean said once he could never imagine doing anything else. 

 

And if they do keep him… what if they resent him? Castiel can't imagine having to watch them be miserable for years, all because of himself. At least if he was an angel, there was a chance of him getting better. At the very least, the grace would have kept him from getting sick or any other major issues that would be annoying for the boys to deal with. 

 

Castiel's not even afraid of being a human again for the same reasons as before. There's no anxiety about being hurt or going hungry or homeless - he knows the Winchesters would never let anything happen to him in this state. Honestly, Castiel is not sure he would mind this new situation, if he knew that it was what Dean and Sam wanted, but it's not. It can't be. And that’s Castiel’s biggest fear. The last thing he could ever want is to be the one to make the Winchester’s lives bad ones. To be the reason they aren’t happy. To be the reason they’re miserable. 

 

But how? How can Castiel make things easier for them? He could try not to cry at all - he saw how upset that made Dean in the bathroom. And he could try to wait until he’s extremely hungry before letting them know he needs to eat, reducing the number of times they have to deal with him. If he gets sick, he can just hide the symptoms. And if he needs a diaper change, he can get over it until one of them decides to check him. 

 

Castiel knows there are probably many more things he’ll have to keep in check, things he hasn’t discovered yet, but that’s okay. He can do this. He can be a good baby for them. 

 

It isn't until Castiel hears Dean whispering, "It's okay, little one. You're safe. I've got you," that Castiel realizes he's crying again. 

 

Gosh, why is Castiel such a nuisance? He just agreed not to cry anymore! Dean's had to feed him, change him, bathe him. The least Castiel could do is shut the hell up and let Dean relax right now. But no. Castiel has to go and cry again

 

And Dean is being so nice. 

 

Castiel feels like total crap. 

 

Which means he starts to cry harder. 

 

The world shifts and Dean is moving, walking as he continues to cradle Castiel to his chest. Castiel grows anxious, uncertain if Dean is upset with him. He latches onto his pacifier as hard as he can and furiously sucks at it, digging his tiny fingers into Dean's shirt the best he can. 

 

When they stop moving, Castiel cracks his eyes open to peek at their whereabouts. Dean is sitting on the edge of his bed, gently cooing in Castiel's ear as he reaches for something Castiel can't see. Squirming, Castiel moves his body until he can press his snotty nose and tear-stained cheeks against the hollow of Dean's throat. For some reason, he feels safe and calm right there.

 

Dean doesn't seem to mind. Whatever he was searching for must have been found, because he's no longer moving around. Instead his arms are both wrapped protectively around Castiel's tiny body. 

 

"I know you don't understand this, and I know I'm just some loud-mouthed, rough stranger who has no clue what he's doing, but I need you to know you're going to be okay. I've got you. You're my - Cas, you're my baby boy. I know right now you're scared, but take your time. Da-" Dean's voice cracks, and Castiel tightens his hold on him, trying to process his words while comforting the man saying them. Castiel's breath hitches when he hears Dean whisper, "Daddy's got you. You're safe now. Daddy's here, little angel. Daddy's right here."

 

The ache in Castiel's chest that's been there since last night begins to ease. He tentatively pulls his face away from Dean enough to look up at the man - at his daddy

 

This feels big. Monumental. Dean has no idea Castiel is aware of everything happening, has no idea Castiel has his memories, and yet here he is. Not out of obligation. Not annoyed or impatient. Not half-assing it. 

 

Dean is here 110%. Dean is referring to Castiel as his, and referring to himself as Castiel's daddy. Not because he has to… but because he wants to? 

 

Castiel's little mind hurts trying to wrap itself around that. He wants to trust it, though. He wants to trust it so bad. Castiel is exhausted from holding tight to this anxiety about burdening Dean. Every time he moves or makes a noise, Castiel is constantly analyzing if it's worth bothering Dean for. 

 

If Dean is happy with this, like Castiel is, maybe Castiel could safely let go. Maybe Castiel could let himself be Dean's baby. 

 

Gosh, that'd be so nice. To be loved unconditionally. Cared for. Protected. No weight on his shoulders. No one to save. No decisions to make. Castiel knows Dean would be an amazing father, and he can't believe he's lucky enough to experience that first hand. 

 

Castiel won't let himself get too excited or too invested, of course. He’ll keep himself in check as much as possible so he won’t do anything to change Dean’s mind, but he’ll be able to relax a bit. Let one or two of his walls down to see what happens.

 

Who knows? Maybe this could be the best thing to ever happen to the both of them.

 

 

----

 

 

Castiel watches Dean with extremely inquisitive blue eyes as Dean finally takes him out of the towel and puts him in a diaper and pajamas. He stopped crying when Dean started talking to him a few minutes ago about being his daddy and keeping him safe. Dean knows it wasn’t the words but more likely just the sound of his voice that calmed the baby, but he doesn't care. Either way, it was him that was able to comfort Castiel. 

 

Once Castiel is ready to go, Dean scoops him back up and cradles him in his arms like he would if he were feeding him a bottle. He likes this position because he can stare down at his tiny angel.  

 

"What do you say, Cas? Should we go get a bottle for that little belly of yours?" Dean asks as he tickles Castiel's chubby baby belly. Castiel gurgles a laugh that makes Dean chuckle from how adorable it is. He continues to tickle his baby as he walks toward the kitchen, eventually making Castiel giggle hard enough to spit his pacifier out. The next laugh that comes from the baby is loud and straight from the belly.

 

Dean's never heard anything more beautiful in his life. Including Led Zeppelin. 

 

"God, I love you," Dean whispers to the boy in amazement, placing the pacifier back in his mouth as they enter the kitchen. 

 

Castiel's eyes grow huge - like, unnaturally so - and he lifts a tiny hand to touch Dean's stubbled jaw. He must be able to sense the emotions coming off of Dean. Keeping his hand where it is, Castiel uses his other one to pull his pacifier out of his mouth. It takes the little guy two tries before he succeeds at getting his lips free, his uncoordinated hands not cooperating with him, but he eventually succeeds. Then his mouth opens and closes a few times before he lets it stay open. 

 

There’s a brief moment where Dean feels like they’re suspended in the air together, and then Castiel very carefully stutters, “D-d-d-da.”

 

“Da? Are you trying to say daddy?”

 

“Yuh!” Castiel smiles and wiggles, then repeats himself - this time much less carefully, and far more excitedly. “Da! Da Da Da!” 

 

“Yaaay! Good job, baby! You’re right, Dada!” Dean feels like a total softie, and he doesn’t care in the least. He just turns toward the door and shouts to Sam. “Sammy! Come here! Quick!”

 

Sam nearly trips as he dashes into the kitchen. He stumbles to a stop, mouth hanging open as he sees that there isn’t an emergency. “Wha-?”

 

“Listen!” Dean looks back down at Castiel, brushing his fingertip against the boy’s soft cheek. “Who am I? Can you say it? Can you say Dada?”

 

Castiel glances between Dean and Sam, then carefully repeats, “Da!” 

 

Both of the Winchesters melt into a damn pile of goo. 

 

"Get him to say uncle!" Sam urges, grinning down at his nephew. "Say uncle, Cas!"

 

Dean scoffs. "Uncle? That's a lot harder."

 

Sam gives Dean a pouty lip. "But I want a name!"

 

"I'm sure he'll give you one. Be patient."

 

"Da!" Castiel chirps, getting the two of them to focus on him again. He taps his mouth with his tiny hand and makes little fishy motions with his lips. Then he stares expectantly at them. 

 

Sam and Dean just look at each other, clueless. The baby makes a tiny growling sound before repeating the motion, this time with more energy. Dean cocks his head to his side in confusion. "Pacifier?" 

 

"Nuh!" Castiel sighs in exasperation, which makes the Winchesters grin because it's adorable, which makes Castiel give them a grumpy pout, which makes them just smile harder. It's a vicious circle of adorable anger. "B- ngh grr - ahd - b - b - ba!"

 

"Can ya repeat that?" Dean jokes, since the baby obviously can't follow the request. Thankfully, Castiel does it anyway, probably out of frustrated determination. It's much clearer this time as he all but demands, "Ba ba ba!"

 

"Ba ba!" Sam shouts in excitement, using the same voice he does when they're watching jeopardy and he knows the answer - yes, they're old men, don't judge them. “Bottle!”

 

"Oohh bottle? You want a bottle?" 

 

Castiel relaxes in his arms, humming in satisfaction. "Ba! Yuh!"

 

"Coming right up, little man."

 

“Can I feed him?” Sam asks sheepishly, already moving toward the counter to make the bottle. 

 

“Of course.” Dean waits for Sam to have the bottle ready, then hands Castiel off to him. “Just be careful you pay attention. He sometimes drinks too fast and chokes. You gotta make him take breaks to breathe. 

 

The warning makes Sam look nervous, but he doesn’t stop or change his mind. He just holds Castiel like he’s a fragile piece of glass and takes a seat in one of the kitchen chairs. Gently stroking the baby’s bottom lip with the tip of the rubber nipple, Sam watches breathlessly as he waits for Castiel to opens his mouth. It takes him a few seconds to decide if he wants to cooperate or not before Castiel pokes out his little tongue and licks the milk off his lips. Decision made, he opens wide and latches onto the nipple. As he starts to suck furiously, his chubby little cheeks bounce, and his little fingers fiddle with Sam’s watch in curiosity. It sucks Sam into a trance. 

 

“He’s perfect, Dean,” Sam whispers, suddenly feeling completely in awe. It’s not like Castiel is a new person. He’s still Castiel. The Castiel who has saved the world. A mighty being that can smite anyone that stands in his way. Those moments in the past were awe inspiring. But this? Castiel drinking a damn bottle of milk? Looking up at him with wide, innocent blue eyes that are full of so much trust and love? It shouldn’t be enough to make it hard for Sam to breath. It shouldn’t have him nearly speechless. 

 

But it does. 

 

“I love him so damn much, Sammy,” Dean admits, looking up at Sam in fear. He doesn’t say he loves people often. Of course, he loved Castiel when he was a fully-grown angel, just like he loves Charlie, Donna, Jody, all of the others that make up his make-shift family. But saying it out loud? And loving someone with this much intensity? Loving someone like he’s not sure he’d be able to live without them? That’s only happened once. With Sam. And that’s the only person Dean’s ever said the word ‘love’ to out loud. 

 

Sam’s fully aware of all of this. 

 

That’s why it takes a few seconds before he can push through his shock. He bounces back quickly, though, and then he’s giving Dean a grin so wide it hurts his face. “I’m happy for you, Dean. I mean, obviously this isn’t ideal. He didn’t consent to this - and he’d probably hate it if he was aware - but you’re making the best of the situation, and you’re kicking ass at it. He’s lucky to have you.” 

 

This makes Dean swell with pride. 

 

“Mom used to say something when I was little. She’d tell me that she planned to give me the world. I remember always giggling, thinking that was silly.” Dean’s eyes flick down at Castiel in his brother’s arms. "I understand now." 

Chapter Text

Dean’s ears are well-trained when it comes to detecting minute sounds. It’s always been something he was proud of, and it’s definitely saved his life countless times. 

 

But as a parent? 

 

Well, let’s just say that incredible hearing as a parent is not a great skill to have. Every shift of Castiel in his make-shift crib, every little cough, every tiny grunt or whimper - it all gets detected by Dean’s stupid super-ears. So, the baby slept through the night, and Dean didn’t. Dean was wide awake. 

 

Another fun fact that Dean has learned about himself as a parent? He’s a hypochondriac. He spent most of the night googling everything and anything, learning about different diseases and viruses that can affect babies, making sure it’s normal that Castiel tosses and turns so much, double checking what he should be feeding him, and learning activities he can do with Castiel to help his development. 

 

“You look like shit,” Sam says with a soft laugh as he places a steaming mug of coffee in front of Dean. 

 

Shifting Castiel in his arms so he can safely drink the miracle liquid, Dean grumbles, “I didn’t sleep.”

 

“Why? I didn’t hear him at all last night.”

 

“I heard him. Every fricken movement.” Dean scrubs a hand over his face. “Can’t get myself to sleep through the noises he makes.”

 

Sam frowns. “I’m sure you’ll adjust.”

 

“Hope so.” Dean finally wakes up enough to notice that Sam has his laptop out, as well as dad’s old journal. “You find a case?”

 

“Kind of. Mike from up north called. He was hunting a Djinn with Scotty in California. Scotty got nabbed and he wants backup going in for him.”

 

“Damn. Okay.” Dean glances down at Castiel, mind turning. They’ve made a decision not to tell anyone other than Charlie that this baby is Castiel. The story they’ve come up with is still shaky, it definitely needs work, but it’s for the best. The more people that know about Castiel, the more likely it is for someone to come to hurt him. Once they nail down the details, they’ll tell everyone they lost Castiel in a hunt and gave him a hunter’s funeral. Then they’ll say the baby is Dean’s from a girl he had no idea he got pregnant last year on a hunt, and she passed away so he was contacted to take him. That’s not even the shakiest part of the story. They have to come up with a way to explain that Castiel is named Castiel, because the baby has been through enough without his name getting changed and his identity completely wiped. They also have to explain the wings...

 

This is where the current issue comes in, though. Since Charlie is the only other person that even knows a baby is in their life at the moment, Charlie is the only possible babysitter. As much as Dean loves Charlie, it still makes him nervous to leave Castiel with her. Castiel and Charlie don’t know each other very well, only having met recently, and Charlie isn’t exactly the mom type. He’d probably come home to Castiel with dyed hair and a star-trek shirt - which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but he’s not sure how Castiel would feel about it. 

 

That in mind, though, he’s not sending Sammy on a hunt by himself. Not when the Djinn was already able to outsmart one hunter already. 

 

With a deep sigh, Dean picks up his mug of coffee and takes a long pull. It’s going to be quite the day. 

 

----

 

Castiel is still half-asleep in Dean’s arms when Sam brings Dean coffee and starts to talk to him about a possible case. He perks up as the conversation continues, and by the time Dean tells Sam he’ll call Charlie to see if she can babysit, Castiel is wide-awake and in full-blown panic mode. 

 

How dare Dean do this? Surely he must be kidding. Dean - the man that’s supposed to be his daddy! - wouldn’t abandon Castiel like this. He’s still adjusting! He’s still terrified and anxious! Hell, Castiel can barely handle being with Sam for more than an hour or two while Dean’s gone somewhere. 

 

Add in the fact that Dean could get hurt - or - or die. Castiel finds himself crying as he thinks about that. He can’t have Dean die. Dean’s his daddy! Dean promised to take care of him. Promised that everything would be okay. 

 

This is most certainly not okay. 

 

Not at all. 

 

Castiel is going to make that known. He doesn’t care what it takes. 

 

After taking a few shaky breaths to calm himself, Castiel squirms in Dean’s arms until he’s sitting up in his lap, legs curled in on themselves and his feet beneath his bum as he stares up at his daddy. His wings flare out and ruffle, just like they would before an attack.

 

Dean smiles down at him and whispers, “Well good morning, sleepy head. I was wonderin’ when you’d wake up.”

 

Ignoring him completely, Castiel places a hand on Dean’s stubbly cheek and tears him a new one. “You aren’t going hunting! I won’t allow it. It’s absolutely ridiculous that you think it’d be a good idea to leave me - stuck as a damn infant I might add! - to go put yourself in danger! What would happen, Dean? What if you died? Or you and Sam both died? Would Charlie be my new mom? Because no offense, Dean, but I’ll freak right the hell out. This situation is only okay because of you. Don’t leave me. You - you can’t - you can’t leave me, Dean. You just - you - you - you-” Castiel falls apart, falling forward against Dean’s chest as he begins to sob openly. 

 

“Oh my god,” he hears Dean say over his cries. “What the hell just happened?”

 

Castiel knows he’s asking Sam, but he decides to yell in between sobs anyway. “Y - y - yoooou can’t - can’t - l - leave meeeeeeee - eeee!” 

 

“Oh, baby. What’s going on? Hmmm? Are you hungry?”

 

“Noooo!!! ‘M not hungry! Why can’t you understand? I’m tired of you not understanding!” 

 

“Let’s get you a bottle, hmm?”

 

“No! No no no no no no no no no!” Castiel shrieks, hoping Dean will understand that word since he seemed to have understood it yesterday. 

 

Castiel sucks in a breath, planning to yell some more, but his voice tumbles into another series of sobs. These ones are uncontrollable, and they make it hard for Castiel to catch his breath. That makes him panic even worse. He knew there was going to be a catch. It was his fault for letting himself enjoy himself yesterday. For feeling so comfortable and safe. 

 

He’s an idiot. 

 

He’ll never be safe. 

 

The realization pushes him past the edge and straight into hysterics.  

 

---- 

 

Dean looks at Sam in shock. This is high-level crying. Like the kind of crying that makes Dean worry about Castiel passing out from not breathing. Pushing to his feet, Dean cradles the back of Castiel’s head and cups his bum, bouncing and swaying in the hopes it will calm the baby. 

 

“Does he need a bottle?” Sam asks in a near panic. 

 

“I dunno? Let’s try. Can ya make one?”

 

As Sam leaps up to make Castiel a bottle, Dean continues whispering comforting things in Castiel’s ear. None of it is making a difference. If anything, the baby cries harder. 

 

“Here!” Sam thrusts the bottle out in the air, getting it to Dean as fast as possible. 

 

After some careful re-positioning in order to keep Castiel’s wings safe, Dean presses the tip of the nipple to the boy’s lips. He forces a smile, knowing that he’s supposed to stay calm to help the baby calm down. 

 

It’s not working. 

 

“Come on, Cas. Drink your bottle for daddy.”

 

That makes Castiel’s blue eyes snap open. Glaring at Dean, Castiel takes a break from sobbing to release an ear-splitting scream. The second the baby catches his breath, he’s back to sobbing. 

 

“Maybe he doesn’t want the bottle…” Sam whispers. 

 

“I mean - he should be hungry. He went all night without eating.”

 

“I don’t know. Try again, then.”

 

Dean bites the inside of his cheek to keep the urge to vomit at bay. He’s not good at this. It’s terrifying not knowing what’s wrong, not knowing how to fix this. This is his baby - his son - and Dean’s failing. 

 

He rubs the nipple along Castiel’s lips again, coating it with milk. That usually works. Castiel will do this adorable little thing where he darts his tongue out and licks the milk off, then gets excited and opens his mouth to latch onto the bottle. He doesn’t do that now, though. Instead, he lifts a chubby fist and smacks it hard against the side of the bottle, taking Dean by surprise and sending the drink into the air. It hits the floor and explodes, sending milk everywhere. 

 

“Yup. Don’t think he’s hungry.”

 

“Thanks for the obvious, Sammy.” Dean jostles Castiel in his arms and goes back to doing the bouncing thing. “Can you get me a boo for him?”

 

“A what?”

 

“A boo! A pacifier!” 

 

“Since when do you call them that?”

 

“I always did when you were a baby. It’s what mom called - you know what, that doesn’t matter! Boo, pacifier, fricken giraffe! Call it whatever you want. Just get it.”

 

“Sorry, sorry. Coming.” 

 

Sam digs frantically in the bag they’ve been keeping on the table. When he finds a white pacifier that has little blue and green whales on it, he hands it to Dean and holds his breath. Both brothers hold their breath, in fact, waiting to see if it’ll work. 

 

Judging from the way Castiel violently shakes his head, the pacifier won’t be working either. That’s confirmed when the baby gets a hand around the plastic and manages to chuck it relatively hard for a child, straight at Dean’s nose. 

 

“Shit.” Dean squeezes his eyes shut, trying his best to stay calm. “I don’t know what you want, Cas. You - you gotta calm down. I don’t know what to do.”

 

“Maybe I should go on the hunt myself,” Sam suggests. “I can bring Charlie with me for backup.”

 

With a sigh, Dean nods. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s probably-” he stops when he realizes there’s a sudden silence in the air. 

 

Both Sam and Dean stare down at the baby in shock. He’s still silently crying, little breaths shaky and ragged, every few interrupted by a hiccup, but he’s calming. Big blue eyes that are red-rimmed and glassy blink up at Dean. He places one of his hands against Dean’s cheek, something Dean’s noticed he likes to do for some reason. Dean covers the tiny hand with his own and offers a smile. “You okay, baby?”

 

All he gets is a sniffle as the baby squirms closer to him. 

 

“Maybe Charlie could take him after all? He probably just had a gas bubble or-”

 

And the shrieking starts again. The second Dean takes his hand off of Castiel’s, the boy is smacking it hard and fast against his face. It takes Dean by complete surprise. He’s so confused and overwhelmed that he barely hears Sam yell over the cries, “Never mind. Stay here with him!”

 

“Obviously,” Dean growls at a high volume - which makes it awkward, because the last syllable sounds incredibly loud compared to the quiet of the room as Castiel stops screaming again. They both stare at him in disbelief. All he does is rub a tiny fist against his right eye and place it back on Dean's chest, fingers curling around the fabric of his shirt. 

 

“Holy shit,” Sam says on an incredulous breath. 

 

“What?”

 

“Shhh.” Sam puts a hand up, looking straight at Castiel. The baby turns his head to look back at him. Dean’s not sure what happens between the two of them, but he feels like he’s on the outside of it. Whatever Sam is figuring out here, Dean’s clueless. 

 

Taking a step closer, Sam asks, “Cas, can you hit Dean again?”

 

The baby wiggles and lifts a hand, smacking Dean. He whips his head around to look at Sam for his next instructions. Dean’s legs nearly give out as he starts to realize what Sam has discovered. 

 

“Cas, can you scream?” Sam asks next. 

 

Castiel screams bloody murder for a second, then cuts himself off. 

 

Dean stares at Castiel with his jaw dropped open. “Holy shit. Are you saying - does he know what’s happening?”

 

“I think so, yeah. I think he freaked out because we were talking about you leaving on a hunt.” 

 

"Is that true?" Dean asks Castiel, his heart racing. 

 

The baby jerks his head into a possible nod and says in a raspy voice, "Yuh."

 

"You can understand us? You - you're aware of what's going on?"

 

"Yuh."

 

"Do you remember who you were before being a baby?"

 

"Yuh. I wabwa la bada lagaga."

 

Dean smirks, which earns him a very angry glare. 

 

"Sorry, sorry. The babbling is just cute." Dean's smirk shifts into a frown as this new information sinks in. "But that means - God Cas, you must be - I'm so sorry. You must be so upset!"

 

Instead of the 'Yuh' Dean was expecting, he gets a gentle hand on his scruff and blue eyes locking onto his face. Very carefully, Castiel says, "Nuh. Dada." 

 

"You're not upset?"

 

"Yuh."

 

"Because - because of me? Being your daddy?"

 

Castiel's face flushes the cutest shade of pink and he darts his eyes away. "Uhhh... yuh." 

 

A warmth Dean's never felt before envelopes his entire body. He's nearly speechless at how happy this is making him. Sure, he didn't want Castiel to be aware because he thought that'd make the boy miserable, but Castiel is saying that's not true. He's saying he's okay. probably not thrilled, but okay. That makes any lingering guilt of Dean doing this with a non-consenting Castiel fade away.

 

Castiel knows Dean is his daddy now, and Castiel is happy about it. 

 

"You didn't want daddy to go huntin', hey little guy?" 

 

Castiel shoots him a look at the nickname, but Dean just chuckles. He doesn't plan on stopping with those. The tiny angel will just have to deal with having a dorky, embarrassing dad. 

 

He'll get over it. 

 

"Nuh, dada," he says after glaring at Dean a bit longer. "Nuh ha dada sa ha!"

 

"Alright, Cas. Daddy won’t go hunting anymore. I can do that."

 

"Seriously?" Sam asks from where he's standing by the table. He makes Castiel jump and Dean blink harder than usual. They both had forgotten Sam was still there. "You're retiring?"

 

Dean shrugs a shoulder, surprised by how easy that decision was. "If it helps Cas be like this? If it makes him feel happier, safer? Yeah." 

 

Castiel brushes his fingers against Dean's lips and grins at him. "Yuh!"

 

"Yeah," Dean agrees. "You're more important, baby. I promise."

 

The words make Castiel's eyes start to well-up again. Dean's suddenly being hit in the ribs my little knees and flapped in the face by a wing as Castiel puts all of his infant strength into hugging Dean's neck tight. Dean laughs and looks over Castiel's shoulder at Sam. His brother is grinning ear to ear. 

 

"I can't believe you're quitting."

 

"Wanna join me? Become boring civilians?" 

 

Sam's eyes twinkle and he nods almost like he's in a trance. "Yeah. Yeah, I do."

 

"It's settled, then. The Winchesters are officially domestic."

 

"Well, after I help Mike and Scottie," Sam corrects.

 

Dean nods. "Fair enough."

 

"Fair enough," Sam echoes.

 

"Yuh yuh!" 

 

The brother's laugh as they look down fondly at Castiel. In the ten years they've known him, they're pretty sure they've never seen him look happier. 

 

Maybe this curse isn't a curse afterall. 

Chapter Text

Castiel has never felt so much relief in his existence. Now that everything is out on the table, they can all take a collective breath. They'll never fully be on the same page, of course, but they're at least in the same book now. Same chapter even. 

 

It makes things so much easier. Castiel can now make small decisions - anything with yes or no answers. Do you want the jar of banana puree or the jar of peach? Do you want to change out of your pjs? Do you want to go shopping? 

 

It also makes things harder than he expected. It's his fault, too. Before, it was a lot easier to let Dean feed and change and bathe him, to let him call himself daddy and call Castiel baby, because Dean didn't know Castiel understood. This morning, though, Dean not only found out Castiel understands, but he also found out that Castiel is relatively happy, all things considered. 

 

So, when Castiel agrees to a shopping trip while Sam is gone hunting, he finds himself laying back on Dean's bed about to get his first change since the man found out the truth, and Castiel is suddenly overwhelmed with this feeling of shame. 

 

He rolls over and tries to crawl away but only gets a few inches before big hands are grabbing his hips and dragging him back. "Oh no ya don't. You need a fresh diaper, bud."

 

"Nu-uuuhhh," Castiel dramatically whines, giving Dean an exaggerated pout when he's turned onto his back again. 

 

Dean just rolls his eyes. “You little pain in my ass - what would you do if I said fine and didn’t change you? Huh? ‘Cuz I think you’d get uncomfortable really fast in that piss diaper.”

 

When Castiel’s face turns what he can feel must be a very deep red, Dean sags. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to - I know how frustrating some of this is. How vulnerable you must feel. But you can trust me, Cas. Okay? This isn’t a game for me. I’m not just taking a break and messing around. I’m all in here. I’m your dad now. Okay?”

 

Castiel fiddles with one of the tabs on his diaper for a moment before whispering, “Yuh.”

 

“Is there something I can do to make you feel a little better during these?” 

 

The offer makes Castiel smile softly. Dean really is going to be a good dad. A great one, actually. The assurance relaxes Castiel enough for his racing heart to slow down. Enough for him to give into something else he’d usually be embarrassed about. “Boo?”

 

Dean blinks down at him in confusion before grinning. “Boo? Like pacifier?”

 

“Yuh!”

 

“That can definitely be arranged.” Dean reaches over to the bedside table and grabs one, plopping it into Castiel’s mouth before the baby can even see what it looks like. Not that he cares. He’s found that these pacifiers - or, well, boos… he likes boos better because he could tell how special the name was to Dean - really help soothe him. There’s probably a science behind it. He doesn’t much care. 

 

As Dean makes quick work of his diaper, he talks to Castiel. That’s another thing Castiel likes now. Instead of speaking his thoughts out loud before pointing out he’s being stupid since Castiel can’t understand him, now Dean speaks to him like normal. Well, not quite normal. It’s still dumbed down a bit, but he thinks that has more to do with Dean trying to make it so they can communicate back and forth, and less to do with him being a baby. 

 

“When I was little, my ma always gave me a pacifier whenI got hurt - which was a lot, as you can imagine. I was a bit of a daredevil. Naturally, I thought that pacifiers were for when I got boo boos, so I started calling them boos. She must have thought it was cute because she taught Sammy right off the bat to call them that.” Dean frowns and secures the diaper on Castiel before continuing. “Sammy must not remember that. Kinda sad, but I get it. He was really young, and I don’t remember dad buying him boos past him being a year or so old. Waste of money, since Sammy always lost ‘em.”

 

Castiel mentally curses John Winchester, which is one of his favorite pastimes. Since he can’t comfort Dean the way he’d like to, he settles for taking the boo out of his mouth and saying with a smile, “Boo!” 

 

The smile Dean gives him in return is brilliant. “Yeah, baby. Boo.” 

 

Humming in satisfaction, Castiel slips the boo back in his mouth and rolls over. He’s getting better at rolling onto his stomach and getting himself into a sitting position from there, but it’s still a bit of a struggle. Dean gently helps him and asks, “Where ya goin’?”

 

Unable to answer him verbally because he refuses to babble since the asshole finds it so hilarious, Castiel just pokes at his naked belly and asks around his boo, “Uh?”

 

“You’re hungry?”

 

“Nuh.”

 

“Do you want clothes?”

 

“Yuh!” 

 

Dean winks at him, probably feeling the same happiness Castiel is feeling as they settle into this new kind of relationship. He reaches over and grabs a few articles of clothing before laying them out on the bed for Castiel to look at. “We’ll get more clothes when we’re shopping today. I want to get you a lot of things, actually. As you’ve probably noticed, the bunker isn’t equipped with much baby stuff.”

 

This makes Castiel laugh. It comes out as one of those stupid baby giggles, but those always make Dean really happy so he doesn’t mind too much. He’s just glad he’s being offered a choice in the matter of his clothes. Those stupid pajamas with the picture on the butt? Horrifying. 

 

Weighing his options, Castiel settles on a three-piece outfit. It’s a navy blue shirt with a big fire truck on the chest, a light blue, dark blue, and red checkered flannel, and a pair of jeans that have little suspenders on them. Besides the suspenders, it’s something he could see himself maybe wearing. Dean must agree that this is the best choice, because he looks very pleased when Castiel points a stubby finger at the outfit. 

 

After some mild grumbling over getting dressed - he has to hide his wings, and he is not a fan of how they feel smooshed beneath his clothes - and getting into the car - he wants to sit up front so he can see better - Castiel relaxes into his seat and sucks on his boo. He’s enjoying himself quite a lot, and they haven’t even started their shopping trip yet! Dean calls from the front that it’s a bit of a drive, telling him he can nap if he wants to. 

 

Never one to turn down a nap nowadays, Castiel turns his face so his cheek is pressed against the side of his seat and lets his eyes fall closed. The last thing he remembers is Dean singing along softly with the radio, the lyrics of Hotel California lulling him to sleep. 

 

----

 

Dean never thought he’d be excited to go shopping, especially when that shopping doesn’t include buying porn, beer, or pie, but here he is pulling into the baby superstore in the city and he’s practically bursting with urgency to get inside. Since Castiel is fast asleep, he decides to take the bucket car seat fully out of the car and put it in the cart. During the transfer, Castiel doesn't even shift or make a noise. Dean’s in the middle of looking down at him like he hung the damn moon when a woman’s voice to his right coos, “Oh goodness, look at how adorable he is!” 

 

Even though Castiel’s adorableness has nothing to do with him, Dean still puffs up with pride and grins at the employee at the door. “Thank you.”

 

“Do you need help with anything?”

 

“Umm. Not yet.” Dean glances around the store nervously. “I googled a lot of stuff.”

 

“What are you here for?”

 

Dean huffs a laugh. “Everything pretty much.”

 

“Oh!” The girl looks at Dean, then at Castiel. Her features soften. “Just became a dad?”

 

“That easy to tell?”

 

“Actually, no! You don’t have that deer in the headlights look most get, so you have that going for you!” This makes Dean laugh, helping him relax a little. She hands him a little booklet and tells him, “That’s what we give people who are registering for a baby shower. Most of the essentials are going to be on there, as well as a lot of the extra stuff that’s convenient to have. If you need any help, I’ll be right here, okay?”

 

Already flipping through the booklet, Dean nods and says, “You’re kind of amazing. Thank you.”

 

When he starts to push the cart to the right, figuring he’ll start there and work his way around, he realizes Castiel is awake now. Wide blue eyes stare up at him expectantly, and it doesn’t take a baby whisperer for Dean to understand the kid is unimpressed with the carseat situation going on. 

 

“Okay, okay. I’ll take ya out. One sec.” Dean undoes the restraints on Castiel and takes the boy out of the seat. He does an awkward shuffle as he puts him on his hip, then picks up the bucket seat and places it in the open area of the cart. It takes up more room than he’d like, but he’s thinking he’ll be using more than one cart today anyway. There’s so much to buy. 

 

Dean then sits Castiel in the baby seat by the cart handle, buckling him in. The baby grips tight to the pole in front of him and eagerly looks around to take in the store. Feeling a little unsure of how stable Castiel will be in that position, especially since the cart will be moving and turning a lot, Dean shrugs out of his flannel and bunches it up around Castiel’s waist to support him. Castiel makes a little grunting noise at this, but other than that he’s still focused on the people and things around them. 

 

With a soft swipe to the little guy's chubby cheek to get his attention, Dean leans down and whispers, "Are your wings okay, bud?"

 

Apparently too lazy to take his boo out, Castiel just nods, then goes back to looking around. Dean laughs at the tiny angel's obvious indifference, relieved that Castiel is finding this experience exciting instead of nerve wracking. 

 

“Alrighty. Let’s start with the bath and changing section,” Dean suggests, as if Castiel has much of a choice. He pushes the cart toward the area marked with the sign labeling the section as Bath and Changing, already feeling overwhelmed. 

 

By the time Dean has two different baby shampoos, one that’s energizing and one that’s supposed to make Castiel sleepy, a night-time baby lotion, and a pack of mini-washcloths that have cute patterns like multi-colored fish or polka dots, Dean is realizing the booklet is going to be a problem. The thing is helpful for what he should buy, but it's in the way as he tries to grab things. 

 

"Can you be a big helper, baby?" 

 

Castiel perks up immediately, eyes wide at the opportunity to help. To be useful. 

 

Dean makes a mental note to give him that as often as he can. 

 

Handing him the booklet, Dean asks, "Can you hold that tight for daddy?"

 

His tiny hands squeeze the thing until it crinkles and says around his boo, "Yuh!" 

 

"Awesome. Thank you." Dean leans down and plants a kiss on the baby's forehead, smiling when he hears the happy little sigh that Castiel releases right after. 

 

After they get through the rest of that section, stocking up on things like diapers, wipes, baby powder, bottles, sippy cups, plastic dinnerware and cutlery, and more pacifiers, Dean realizes just how much stuff a baby needs.

 

“We’re gonna need a bigger cart,” Dean mumbles to himself. Catching him by surprise, Castiel releases a throaty giggle. He grins down at the baby with pride. “Look at you, knowing Jaws quotes.Good job, Cas.”

 

The baby blushes and tucks his head down. Since Dean doesn’t want to embarrass him any more, he focuses on pushing the cart towards the nursery area. Dean already ordered a crib and rocking chair online with Charlie’s help - as well as a high chair, a pack ‘n play, and a changing table - but decoration wise, he has nothing. He was leaning toward cowboys, but now that he knows Castiel is aware, he's going to let him decide. Dean thinks the more control he gives the baby, the easier it will be for him to cope. 

 

"Alright, little man. What kind of nursery do you want? Anything look cool?"

 

Castiel looks at Dean, ignoring the large wall of different themed nursery decorations. His little eyebrows are pulled in and his nose is scrunched up. He takes his boo out and firmly says, "Nuh."

 

"Oh." Dean rubs the back of his neck, eyes surveying the options. There are a lot. Way more than he could ever imagine. "You don't like any? Maybe you can't see all the choices. I could read them to you?" 

 

"Nuh."

 

"Cas, you're nursery needs a theme. That's- it's fun. It's fun to do. Something you get to pick out. Grown ups do that too, you know. Pick out their comforter and pillows and lamp and art. This is just… a mini version of that."

 

"Nuh."

 

Releasing a sigh of mild frustration, Dean says, "Fine. I'll pick." 

 

"Nuh nuh nuh!" Castiel cries, and Dean's caught off guard - both by the sudden panic and sadness in his boy's voice, as well as the boo that’s thrown straight at his face. 

 

"Son of a b- shhh, you’re okay. Shhh.” Dean hurries to scoop Castiel up, cradling him to his chest. Careful not to press on his wings through his clothing, Dean gently pats his back. "Shhh. I don't know what's wrong, but we can fix it, okay? Just take deep breaths. I'll fix it. I can fix it."

 

Castiel pulls away so he can look at Dean. He rubs a tight fist against his eyes and sniffles. His other hand is holding on to Dean with a death grip. "Nuh, nuh - a wa n ba da ba da da ba ma la grrah gug nuh!"

 

Dean bites the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing at how pathetically adorable Castiel's little rant just was. From the look the baby gives him, Dean thinks Castiel knows he’s finding it amusing anyway. 

 

"How about this. Yes or no questions, so we can narrow it down and figure out the problem. Okay?"

 

"Yuh," Castiel says after a very dramatic sigh. 

 

"Okay. Do you want to pick out your nursery theme?"

 

"Nuh."

 

"Do you want me to?"

 

Castiel shakes his little head. "Nuh."

 

"Okay." Dean gives him a smile, wanting him to feel safe about the decisions he's making, even if they are confusing as all hell. "Uh, do you want a nursery theme?" 

 

"Nuh."

 

Stumped, Dean glances around. There are a few plain items. Colored blankets without patterns. And he supposes Castiel doesn't need art or anything. "Okay. So, just some basic nursery stuff, nothing-"

 

"Nuh!" Castiel says so loudly Dean startles. 

 

"Okaaaaay then." 

 

"Nuh na na ee uhn da da lammmmba!"

 

"I'm sorry, Cas. I - I don't understand."

 

The baby closes his eyes and a tear slips down his cheek. Dean feels like his heart absolutely shatters. "It's okay. It’s okay. We can figure this out, Cas. Please. Don't cry, okay? I promise I'll fix this." 

 

Dean notices he’s trying to convince himself just as much as Castiel. He feels sick to his stomach right now. It was supposed to be easier, Castiel understanding, but this isn’t easier. This is even worse. At least if Castiel had a baby mind, he wouldn’t be getting frustrated in situations like this. 

 

Castiel blinks up at him, wide blue eyes red-rimmed and glazed. Then he looks around them. After a minute, he bucks in Dean's arms and points a chubby finger toward their left. "Uh uh uh!"

 

Dean follows the direction, awkwardly doing multiple turns and squats as he tries to pinpoint exactly what Castiel is pointing at. After very many ‘yuh’s’ and ‘nuh’s’, Dean finds what Castiel is referring to. It's a laundry basket with a green and blue whale pattern. 

 

"You want a whale nursery?"

 

"Nuuuuuh!" Castiel says in exasperation before pointing at the laundry basket with more intensity. 

 

For a full minute, Dean stares at the inanimate object. It doesn't speak to him. The whale basket does not know what Castiel wants either. Dean and the whale basket are lost. 

 

"Baby, I'm sorry, but-" and then it dawns on him. They're talking about a nursery, where Castiel will sleep, and right now, Castiel sleeps in a laundry basket. "Oh! Your laundry basket at home! Where you sleep!"

 

"Yuh!" Castiel cheers, doing little bounces in his arms. "Yuh yuh!"

 

"Okay. Okay, good. Alright." Dean stands back up and brings Castiel over to the cart. He sets him in the seat again and grins at him. "You want to make sure your laundry basket comes into your nursery with you. That's fine! It's grey, so maybe we could do a grey theme for-"

 

"Nuh dada! Nuh!"

 

Dean stops, shoulders sagging in defeat. "I'm starting to feel like you don't even want a nursery, little dude."

 

"Yuh!"

 

"Wait. What?" Dean straightens up. "You don't want a nursery?"

 

"Nuh!"

 

"You - you want to keep sleeping in the laundry basket!"

 

"Yuh yuh!!"

 

"In my room?"

 

"Yuh!” Castiel grins so wide his little eyes half-close. “Yuh dada dada!"

 

Guilt immediately floods Dean's system. 

 

"Cas, I - I need ya in a nursery, baby. I don't - it's hard for me to sleep with you in the room. I - wait, no, don't take that the wrong way!” Dean begs, hating the way Castiel’s face just dropped. “I'm just so paranoid that something bad will happen to you, so I wake up to every little shift or noise or strange inhale, and then I - I'm just exhausted, ya know? It's not you. I would love to have you in the room with me, but for both of our sakes, I really think you need a nursery. There will be a baby monitor, and the nursery will be right next to my room, so you don’t have to worry about me not hearing you if you need something, though. Don’t worry about that. You’ll be safe, and it’ll be much more comfortable than the basket, and we’ll both get better sleep!"

 

Castiel looks away from him, studying his hands as they tighten their hold on the cart. He's slightly trembling. Dean's pretty sure child protective services is going to come take the baby away. He's the worst dad in the entire world. 

 

"I - ya know what? It's fine. I'll get used to you in the room. I'm sure the paranoia will fade. No big deal, okay? Let's get you a smaller crib that can fit in the room, though, because I'm not lettin' ya sleep in a laundry basket, Cas."

 

"Nuh." Castiel reaches out, pressing a tiny hand to Dean's stomach. He looks up at him with a tiny smile. "Nuh, dada."

 

"Nuh what?" 

 

Castiel keeps the hand on Dean, but uses his other one to point back at the nursery theme wall. "Uh uh! Yuh!"

 

"You'll sleep in a nursery?" 

 

"Yuh!"

 

"Are you - are you sure, Cas?"

 

Castiel gives him a toothless grin and nods. "Yuh!"

 

"But you seemed so sad. I don't want you sad."

 

This makes Castiel pauses, his little eyebrows pulling in as he concentrates. It only takes him a second or two before he's reaching out to Dean for a hug. Dean leans down, letting the babe wrap his short little arms around his neck. Castiel squeezes as he whispers in Dean's ear, "Da da." 

 

Then he gives Dean a loud, wet kiss on his cheek and giggles. 

 

Feeling tears in his eyes now, Dean clears his throat and gently kisses Castiel back. 

 

"Alright, baby," he whispers, still hugging his boy tight. "Daddy promises to never leave you. Okay? Even if you're in your nursery, I'll always be across the hall or in the bunker somewhere else, with a baby monitor, okay? I'll never leave you. I'll never let anything happen to you, Castiel. Never. Okay?" 

 

"Yuh!" Castiel pulls back so he can smile up at Dean again. Then he rolls his eyes and dramatically throws a hand out in the direction of the nursery theme wall. "Wa la guh!" 

 

Dean laughs. "Alright alright. Let's go pick out your nursery." 

 

---- 

 

2 hours and 900 dollars later, they’re back at the bunker and setting things up. Castiel chose a moose themed nursery, which Dean can’t wait to inform Sam about. They had been walking down the aisle - Castiel taking his time meticulously studying his options - when he had seen the big stuffed moose. He had pointed at it frantically, bouncing in his cart seat, cooing, “Moo moo moo!” before grinning up at Dean and explaining himself with a, “‘am, ‘am, ‘am!” 

 

From there, their cart began to fill with an ode to Sammy. Moose sheets, blankets, and a quilt. Woodland mobile with animals - including a moose - as well as little trees. A big wooden sign with a moose painted on it. A plaid black and red throw blanket with moose on the other side, which Dean plans to drape over the back of the rocking chair in the nursery. A black and red plaid lamp shade. An adorable, fuzzy little chair for the floor of the living room that’s a big circle for Castiel to lounge in, with the arms a moose’s arms, and the back of the chair the moose’s chest and stomach. Above that, sticking up in the air, is a big stuffed moose head with little antlers coming off of it. 

 

They had dumped that cart off near the front where the kind lady working there told them they could, then started on a second cart. They filled it with pretty much the entire rainbow. An activity mat where he can lay on his back and play with toys that hang from an arch attached to it. These little wooden animals that have wheels and can be pulled along by a string. Something called a bumbo with a cover that consists of soft brown fleece inside and the outside a cream color with little brown moose on it. Something similar to the bumbo, but with a tray attached that’s full of little toys for Castiel to play with. Soft blocks, rubber blocks, and wooden blocks - because Castiel couldn’t decide, and Dean refused to make him do so. A set of plastic keys. Some bright colored rings with little toys hanging from them. A set of stacking rings. A bouncing, swing-chair that can hang from the ceiling or door frame. An assortment of teething toys. Tons of toys for the bath. Tons of picture books - because they both agreed Sam would yell at him if they didn’t get some. Rubber dinosaurs. Plastic Ninja Turtles. A little pretend tool box. 

 

Their third cart had a box with a baby walker in it waiting to be assembled. A kick ass baby walker, if you ask Dean’s opinion. It’s a red, white, and black little race car Castiel will be able to zoom around in. A baby swing that’s grey and yellow with an arch attached that has little bumble bees on it - Castiel had practically launched himself out of his seat when he saw it. Another box with an activity saucer. The tray of the saucer is full of brightly colored animals and interactive toys. 

 

By the time Dean was checking out at the register, Castiel was asleep again - in Dean’s arms, since his car seat was still buried in the first cart. After much help from the kind lady at the store, Dean had the impala stuffed full of baby things and Castiel tucked away safely in his seat. 

 

Now they’re in the nursery, Dean trying to set up the crib that arrived in the mail so he can set up the other decorations. Castiel is awake now, laying flat on his back on the activity mat, giggling to himself as he bats at the hanging toys above him. 

 

As Dean is leaning over one of the railings, trying to get a wooden dowel to cooperate with him, he hears a series of little grunts that draws his attention away. He pauses to look over at his baby, chuckling when he sees that he’s trying to roll onto his stomach again. Castiel stops mid-heave, twisting his head on his neck until he can give Dean a very unimpressed bitch face. 

 

“Do you need help?” 

 

“Nuh,” he growls, eyebrows pulling in even further. 

 

Looking away from Dean, probably pretending to ignore him, Castiel rocks side to side until he finally gets on his side. Dean clenches his teeth to keep himself from cheering Castiel on. He doesn’t want to embarrass him or throw him off. He’s so close! 

 

Come on, Cas. Come on. You can do it. 

 

Dean can’t help the fact that he loudly cheers and throws his hands in the air when Castiel rolls over. He’s done it a few times since they practiced with Charlie, but it’s still clearly hard for him, which makes it a huge accomplishment every time he does it successfully. 

 

His smile drops slightly when he sees a few black feathers lying on the play mat, sticking out against the rainbow. He hurries to put his smile back in place and crouches down to put his hands out for Castiel. The baby is grunting and grumbling, huffing and puffing, as he very slowly crawls toward Dean. Well, more accurately, slaps his hands against the floor, dragging his bent leg along it, while using his bare toes on the other leg to push himself along inch by inch. 

 

Instead of going to Dean, he goes to the pile of bags that Dean had dumped when they first walked into the room. Everything got jumbled together, so some toys are mixed in with the nursery decor. It seems Castiel is looking for something. He’s now up on his little knees, one hand keeping him steady on the ground while the other clumsily moves things around in the bags. 

 

Taking advantage of Castiel’s distraction, Dean hurries over to the play mat and picks the feathers up. They’re very dry and rough, the ends looking damaged. Frayed. It turns Dean’s stomach and his eyes burn. Now isn’t the time, though, so he shoves the feathers into his back pocket and turns back to Castiel. 

 

Just a few seconds later, the baby is yelling out in glee. He tries to tug his pretend tool box out but fails miserably. Turning to Dean, still looking angry and untrusting, Castiel pats the box that’s stuck in the bag and says, “Ah!” 

 

“One second, bud.” Dean kneels down beside his boy and removes the box from the plastic bag. He pulls out his pocket knife and looks at Castiel before releasing the blade. “You stay still, okay? Daddy doesn’t want to nick you with the sharp knife.”

 

Castiel nods in understanding, his little body tightening up so he’s barely breathing. It’s adorable how committed he is to the cause. The baby doesn’t even blink, eyes fixed on the knife. 

 

Making quick work of the zip-ties keeping the new box closed, Dean puts the knife away and presses a kiss to the top of Castiel’s head. “Good boy.”

 

“Hmmmmm,” Castiel hums happily, doing a little wiggle. Then he’s squealing in excitement to show Dean his thanks for opening the tool box, lurching forward to grab one of the tools. When he has the plastic hammer in his tiny hand, he grins up at Dean and waves it to show him. 

 

“I see. You’ve got a hammer!”

 

“Yuh! Yuh, yuh!” Castiel does his cute little crawling thing again, which is even funnier to watch with his hand holding the hammer, until he’s at the same spot Dean was in earlier when fighting with the wooden dowel. 

 

Heart melting, Dean asks, “Oh, are you going to help daddy built the crib?”

 

Castiel beams up at him looking very proud of himself. “Yuh!” 

 

“Perfect.” Dean kneels beside him and picks up the wooden dowel. “Just what daddy needed, actually. I don’t think I could build it without a little helper.” 

 

“Me!” Castiel chirps, catching Dean by surprise since it’s a new word for him. “Me! Me! Dada!”

 

“Yes, baby.” Dean brushes a few curls off of Castiel’s forehead, grinning so hard that his face aches. “You are daddy’s perfect little helper.”

 

----

 

Sam comes home to find the bunker transformed. There’s a baby walker that’s shaped like a car tucked in the corner by the bookcase. A can of formula on the counter beside a few brand new bottles. A baby swing that looks like it might also bounce is hanging with sturdy rope from the door frame of the kitchen. Sam accidentally steps on a burp rag with little foxes on it as he enters the living room. 

 

The living room is baby palooza. 

 

Sam can barely settle his eyes on one thing. There’s gear and toys and diaper caddies. Castiel is sitting in a rainbow activity saucer, his back to Sam as he stares entranced at the TV - which is playing Dr. Sexy MD. Dean is… nowhere to be found. 

 

“Dean?” 

 

Castiel jumps in his saucer, startled. His little hand flies out to hit the little globe toy on the tray, making it spin, the sound similar to a rattle because of the little balls inside of it. At the same time, Sam hears a hard *thunk* and, “Son of a bitch!” He turns to find Dean crawling out from behind the couch, rubbing his forehead. 

 

“Warn a guy, Sammy.”

 

“Sorry,” Sam lies, clearly not sorry as he gives Dean an amused smile. “What were you doing?”

 

“Baby proofing.” Dean pouts. “There’s so much to proof. This place is a damn war zone.”

 

“Isn’t he smart enough not to get hurt by anything? I mean, what do you even need to proof?”

 

Dean glances at Castiel, who is watching them very carefully, his hands absentmindedly fiddling with an antler on his new moose stuffie. “I don’t want him to have to ever worry, Sam. He’s stuck as a baby. The least we can do is take the weight off of his shoulders. He should be able to let go. Enjoy himself. Not have to worry about a single thing. So, yes, I’m proofing.”

 

Nodding in agreement, Sam puts his hand out for one of the plastic things in Dean’s hand. “Alright, I’m on board with that. I’ll help.” 

 

Together, the two of them place the rest of the plastic outlet covers throughout the downstairs. Then they add baby safety locks on… well… pretty much everything. They bolt down the bookcases and shelves and anything else Castiel could pull down on himself. They put up the three baby gates Dean purchased. They add corner guards to every table, counter, and any other sharp corners they can find. 

 

By the time the bunker is baby proofed - which is quite the task, if they do say so themselves - Castiel is over his activity saucer. He’s trying to climb out himself. Surprisingly, he actually got one leg pulled up. The problem now, though, is that the poor leg is stuck in between his belly and the seat of the saucer. When he squirms, trying to get out without calling for help, a few of his feathers fall to the ground. Same can see a patch of skin showing where a group of them have fallen out close together. 

 

After exchanging a look with Dean, Sam walks over and reaches down for Castiel. The boy smiles his thanks for Sam rescuing him, a slight blush on his cheeks. Then he remembers something and perks up. Before Sam can prepare himself, he has a stuffed animal stuffed into his face, fur almost going up his nose. 

 

“Mooooo! Mooooo!” Sam hears Castiel yell in excitement. He can hear Dean laughing in the background. “Moooo!”

 

“Is it a cow?” Sam asks, trying to pull away enough to see the stuffed animal. It’s not a cow, something Castiel is explaining with a very long, exasperated rant of baby babbles. When he realizes what Castiel is holding, Sam laughs. “Oh, it’s a moose! Very cool!”

 

“It was his favorite thing at the store. We bought so many moose themed things.” Dean walks up to them, rubbing Castiel’s back between his two wings. “Can you tell Sammy why you wanted moose stuff, baby?”

 

Blushing all over again, Castiel hides his face in the moose’s tummy and informs Sam bashfully, “Mooo, ‘am, ‘am!” 

 

“Am?” 

 

Castiel nods proudly. “‘Am!”

 

“You,” Dean explains. “You’re ‘am, Sam.” 

 

“Oooh!” Sam beams, looking like he just won the lottery. “You’re right, I am Sam! Are you saying I’m a moose?”

 

Castiel giggles. “Yuh!”

 

Faking shock, Sam drops his jaw and gasps. “I am not! I’m not a moose!”

 

“Moo! Moo!” Castiel nods enthusiastically, stuffing the moose back in Sam’s face. “Moo! ‘Am!”

 

“Okay, okay, okay. You win. I guess I’m a moose.”

 

While Castiel falls into a fit of laughter, Dean says, “His whole nursery is moose themed. And he’s got that little chair there, and look at his outfit. Did ya notice?”

 

Sam adjusts Castiel in his arms and looks down, his grin spreading even further. Castiel is wearing a long-sleeved navy blue onesie with ‘The Moose Wonderful Time of the Year’ written on it, a moose in a hat and scarf with snow falling down on it pictured beneath the words. A pair of blue and white striped pants with a moose on the bum covers his legs. And his feet - oh my, Sam absolutely dies at his feet. He’s wearing fuzzy moose slippers, little antlers coming off the top of each foot, the lining inside red and black plaid. 

 

He won’t admit it, and thankfully Dean doesn’t try to make him, but Sam might be crying. Just a tiny little bit. 

 

Castiel knows. He puts a tiny hand on Sam’s cheek and presses their foreheads together. 

 

With a breathy laugh, Sam whispers, “Love you, little guy.”

 

“‘am,” Castiel says in return, unable to say the big words Sam just said. That’s okay, though. Sam gets it. So does Dean when Castiel pulls away and reaches out a hand to touch Dean’s shoulder. “Da.” 

 

“Yeah, baby. Daddy loves you too.”

Chapter Text

Castiel’s not so sure about this new development in his life. As a grown-up, he always liked Christmas. It was fun. The boys actually took a break for once, letting themselves relax and enjoy themselves. There were heartfelt presents and beautiful decorations. Movies and music. Cookies. Pie. 

 

Christmas as a baby? Castiel’s not so sure. 

 

Exhibit A: His daddy woke him up this morning. Woke him up! That’s utter nonsense. Castiel was all cozy in his new crib, enjoying a nice dream about having teeth again so he can eat burgers, cuddling his blue dino and moose, sucking on his boo, and minding his own damn business. Then here daddy is, showing up, turning the light on - rude! - and scooping him up, telling him it’s time to be awake. 

 

Nonsense. 

 

Utter. Nonsense. 

 

Exhibit B: Daddy is currently stuffing him in his ‘Special Handsome Man Outfit’ that consists of dark gray suspender pants, a gray and red plaid collared shirt, a thick chunky cream colored knitted sweater, and a bow tie. 

 

A bow tie. 

 

Castiel is not a bow tie person!

 

“Nuh!” Castiel says for the hundredth time, fighting and wiggling as his daddy tries to get the tie around his neck. “Nuh!”

 

“Come on, Cas. Everyone is going to love you in this!”

 

That makes Castiel freeze. He looks up at his daddy with wide eyes. “Everyone? Who is everyone? Who are we seeing today? No, dada. No. Not cool. We’re staying right here. I don’t want to see anyone. Especially not in this stupid tie!”

 

Daddy smirks. “All I got from that was ‘no’ and ‘dada’ but I think I understand. You don’t like the bow tie, hey?” 

 

Castiel parts his lips, about to tell him that he does indeed hate the bow tie but that wasn’t the issue at hand, when he notices that during his rant his defenses had been lowered and Daddy had successfully secured the tie around his neck. 

 

Furrowing his brows and puffing out his bottom lip, Castiel huffs. He is not a happy camper. 



---- 



“Alright, little man,” Dean says after a deep breath that did nothing to calm him. “Can we talk for a minute?”

 

He looks at Castiel, who is sitting on the floor in his bumbo seat, his tiny lips pursed in a disapproving scowl, chubby little arms crossed over his chest as he evil glares at Dean. If Dean wasn’t so nervous, he’d find this hilarious. As it is, it’s still pretty damn adorable. He’s quickly learning that grumpy Castiel is one of his favorites, not that he likes to see his boy grumpy, but he’s just so cute and funny when he’s an angry elf. 

 

Since Castiel is clearly not going to respond to Dean’s request to talk, Dean barrels forward anyway. “So, I’m not totally sure if you remember, but we go to Ellen’s every year for Christmas. Usually when we go we get a motel, since everyone’s stuffed into the house and it’s just easier, but when they all heard about you… it was pretty much demanded that we stay in the house so they can see as much of the baby as possible.”

 

With bright pink cheeks, Castiel starts to suck in panicked breaths. “Nuh! Nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh!”

 

“Shhh, baby. Shhh.” Dean scoops Castiel out of his bumbo, feeling terrible as the little one’s wings flutter frantically. “They don’t have to know you’re aware. As of right now, they think you were de-aged into a regular baby, because the last time we talked that’s how it was. Sam and I thought we would let you decide if you want them to know you have your adult mind. I know it might be easier to act like a baby and let go when they don’t know. If that’s what you need, daddy and Uncle Sam are okay with that.”

 

Castiel buries his face in Dean’s neck and huffs. 

 

“A huff isn’t going to help me here, Cas.”

 

Another huff. 

 

Dean smirks and walks over to the couch. He sits down with Castiel in his lap and very lightly bounces his knees, something he knows Castiel likes even though he never admits it. 

 

“Yes or no questions, okay?”

 

“Yuh,” Castiel says in a grumbly voice, tugging on his bow tie. 

 

“Are you okay with us going to Ellen’s for Christmas, or do you need us to stay home?”

 

Castiel tugs on the bow tie again, scowling at Dean. 

 

“Shit, yeah. Not a yes or no question there, sorry. Are you okay with us going to Ellen’s for Christmas?”

 

“Yuh,” the baby grumbles again. 

 

“Are you okay with us staying at the house instead of a motel?”

 

After a much longer pause, Castiel whispers, “Yuh.”

 

“Do you want us to tell them your mind is the same as before?”

 

Castiel’s wings flutter a bit, one black feather falling to the ground. His tiny fingers reach out for Dean’s flannel. He slowly strokes the soft material, up and down in a calming, repetitive motion. It worries Dean how distant Castiel seems to be, but he stays quiet and lets the baby take as much time as he needs. 

 

After Sam has the impala completely packed for the trip, he comes into the living room and sits beside them on the couch. 

 

Castiel still hasn’t spoken. 

 

“How’s it going?” Sam asks quietly. 

 

“He’s having a hard time deciding if he wants them to know that his mind is the same or if he wants them to believe he has a true baby-like mind.” 

 

Sam nods in understanding, reaching out to take one of Castiel’s tiny hands. The baby wraps his little fingers around Sam’s one big finger and holds tight. He tilts his head up and looks at Sam with watery blue eyes. 

 

“You know they would never judge you. They love you just like we do, Cas. I think they’d be happy for us if they knew that the three of us are accepting the situation and finding happiness in it. You’re Dean’s son now. They’ll love you unconditionally.”

 

“He’s right,” Dean agrees, drawing Castiel’s attention towards him again. “I know you probably feel silly sometimes for enjoying yourself as a baby, and I know you still get very uncomfortable for diaper changes and all of that, but they won’t judge you for being happy this way. If anything, they’ll find some relief in it like Sam and I did. But if you want to keep it a secret, that’s no big deal to me and Sam. None at all. Whatever you need, okay?”

 

Castiel tugs at his bow tie again. “Yuh.”

 

“Are you ready to answer?”

 

“Yuh.”

 

“Alright, Cas. Do you want everyone to know that your mind is still your mind?”

 

Cheeks turning slightly pink, Castiel shakes his head bashfully. “Nuh.” 

 

“Okay baby, that’s fine. Daddy and Uncle Sam can keep it a secret,” Dean says with a smile that’s nothing but genuine. He honestly didn’t mind either way, he just wanted Castiel to decide so they could get on the road and have a fun few days. If this is what it takes for Castiel to enjoy his first Christmas as Dean’s baby boy, then so be it. 

 

When Castiel tugs at his bow tie for what must be at least the tenth time, Dean chuckles softly. “You want that bow tie off pretty bad, don’t you?”

 

“Yuh!” Castiel says in exasperation. 

 

“We can make a deal? I’ll take the bow tie off you and let you just wear the rest of the outfit today, but only if you’ll let Jo take lots of pictures of you with that fancy new camera of hers these next few days. No tantrums!"

 

Castiel sighs heavily, but Dean can see the fondness in his eyes as he looks up at his daddy. “Yuh.” 

 

“Deal?”

 

“Yuhhhh,” he says dramatically. 

 

Dean easily slips off the bow tie and pops open the top button of the baby’s shirt, laughing when the boy does a little wiggle that reminds Dean of the baby version of a happy dance. 

 

“Alright, let’s get some socks on those toes and we’re ready to go!” 

 

Castiel’s smile falters as he stares Dean down again. They hadn’t discussed socks. 

 

Castiel hates socks, something he’s made abundantly clear to Dean. Just like when he was a grown up. For some reason, Castiel has always hated them. 

 

“You have to keep your socks on until the impala is nice and warm inside. Then you can take them off. Okay?”

 

The baby must be losing energy from all of his dramatic sighing and angry glaring because he just sighs once again, this time in defeat, and mutters, “Yuh,” before resting his head on Dean’s shoulder and slipping his thumb into his mouth. 




----




Castiel feels bad that he’s making his daddy and uncle lie to everyone, but the relief he feels overpowers the guilt. This is going to be overwhelming. Christmas last year at Ellen’s was chaos, all loud music and laughter and people breaking out into random wrestling fights over the last piece of pie. He can’t imagine how he’ll handle all of that as a tiny helpless baby. At least this way, everyone won’t judge him if he gets startled or cries out of frustration or anxiety. He knows daddy promised no one would judge him either way, but it’s one less thing to worry about. He needed that. 

 

Still, Castiel is nervous when they park outside of Ellen’s house. The baby part of him wants to be interested in all of the pretty lights and decorations as his daddy carries him to the front door all bundled up in a thick blanket, but the grown-up/former angel part of him is telling him to panic. 

 

Don't cry because then they'll hate you. 

 

Don't be too messy. 

 

Don't poop or pee unless daddy is there so he's the only one who changes you. 

 

Don't be noisy.

 

Don't be too clingy to daddy.

 

Don't allow daddy to go anywhere without you. 

 

If all else fails, find Uncle Sam. 

 

His game plan flies out the window the second they're inside, because Castiel immediately goes flying. He whines and tries to squirm away from the new person holding him, the blanket his daddy had wrapped around him falling to the ground. He looks up in time to see Ellen coming in for a kiss, saying something about his cute chubby cheeks. Castiel smacks her. 

 

Everyone laughs as daddy awkwardly explains, "Yeah, he's big on personal space. You have to earn kisses."

 

Ellen just smiles warmly and holds Castiel tighter instead. "I'm sure I'll earn them soon enough. Won't I little guy? Grandma Ellen has cookies for you."

 

"He doesn't have teeth!" Daddy all but shouts in a panic. 

 

Ellen laughs. "Yes, I know. It's a special recipe. He can just gnaw on it with his gums and it'll dissolve in his mouth."

 

"You're sure it's safe?" 

 

"I promise."

 

"Okay." Daddy fidgets, looking unsure. "I think I'll come with. Just in case…"

 

Ellen looks at him fondly. "Of course, Dean." 

 

“Where is everyone?” Sam asks.

 

“Jo and Benny are still at the bar. Bobby is on his way now. Ash is in his bedroom taking his late-afternoon nap.” 

 

They continue talking, but Castiel ignores them. He’s been promised a cookie. He wants a damn cookie. He’ll even let Ellen kiss his apparently chubby cheeks if necessary.  

 

If the cookies do not come in the next 60 seconds, however, Ellen is getting another fist to the face and Castiel plans on screaming his head off for his daddy until he comes and gets him. 

 

He’s glad Ellen is the only one here, though. It would have been overwhelming if everyone had bombarded him at once. Ellen’s bombardment alone had been unpleasant. He wishes he could figure out a way to explain to his daddy that he hates flying like he does when they pass him back and forth. He’s not sure how daddy could fix it, but it’d be nice to at least have his daddy understand. Castiel hates that sinky feeling in his stomach every time it happens. 

 

Castiel startles, blinking hard when his diapered bum hits something solid. He looks around and realizes he’s now in the kitchen. He’s been put down in the center of the breakfast island. A bowl of fruit is sitting beside him. His daddy is sitting on one of the stools while Uncle Sam hovers nearby. Ellen makes sure Castiel is stable and far enough away from the edge before turning away to the stretch of counter behind her. He can hear some crinkling of what sounds like tinfoil and starts to bounce in anticipation. 

 

“Oh, goodness,” Ellen says with a laugh as she turns back to him. “Does someone already know he’s getting a treat?”

 

“Yuh!” 

 

Ellen’s face freezes for a moment and Castiel immediately stops bouncing. He ruined it. Already. 

 

“Did he just-?”

 

“No. It’s just his favorite thing to say. Everything is ‘yuh’ or ‘nuh,’” his daddy explains, trying to save Castiel. 

 

Uncle Sam adds, “You can get him to say some pretty funny things with it, actually. Like watch this.”

 

He leans down, winking at Castiel when his back is to Ellen, and asks in the same happy tone Ellen used when asking if he knew he was getting a treat, “Is Dean an idiot, Cas?” 

 

“Yuh!” Castiel says in relief, hoping his uncle can understand how much that just meant to him. He’s going to have to be much more careful. There will be lots of cookies and presents and other things. He can’t let his excitement get the better of him.

 

Ellen buys it, giving his daddy and uncle a wicked grin. “I will be taking full advantage of that with Ash this week

 

“Are you sure that’s safe?” Castiel’s daddy asks when he catches sight of the cookie in Ellen’s hand. 

 

Castiel doesn’t care if it’s safe. That thing smells and looks delicious, and he will have it or he will riot. 

 

“Perfectly safe, Dean. It’s a recipe for teething babies but I figured he’d love to gnaw on them while we all get to eat the good stuff.”

 

Before his daddy can argue further, Castiel looks over his shoulder at him and narrows his eyes in what he hopes is a very threatening expression. It makes daddy smile, which wasn’t Castiel’s intention, but his daddy doesn’t argue either, so he’ll take it. 

 

When Castiel looks back at Ellen, he finds her hand reaching out to offer him what looks like an oatmeal cookie. “Here you go little guy.”

 

It takes Castiel’s arm a moment to figure out how to move properly, and then he ends up slapping the cookie twice with his stupid hand before it works how it should and closes around the new snack. The second his fingers have that cookie in a tight hold, he’s squealing. It makes the grown-ups laugh and coo over his adorableness, but he doesn’t care. 

 

He has a cookie! Finally, something solid! Something that doesn’t taste like milk or mashed veggies! 

 

Castiel slams the thing against his mouth so hard and fast that he doesn’t even have enough time to open his lips. The second attempt works much better. He shoves as much of the cookie as he can into his mouth, flavors exploding on his tongue. Castiel closes his eyes and hums in appreciation. 

 

The bliss is ruined the next second, when someone is rudely taking the cookie out of his mouth. He gasps in betrayal when he sees the person is his daddy. “You don’t want to choke. Just a little bit at a time, baby. Like this.” 

 

His daddy guides his hand back to his mouth, letting just enough of the cookie to pass his lips for his tongue to taste it. When he moves his jaw, his gums are in the perfect position to gnaw on the delicious treat. He makes a very high-pitched pleased sound to show his thanks. Then the world is being shut out as Castiel focuses entirely on this thing of beauty Ellen has given him. 

 

The cookie is cooked more than normal oatmeal cookies so it’s extra soft, but it’s still durable enough where pieces aren’t coming off and threatening to choke him. After a particularly hard suck, he realizes there’s cinnamon in them. And - and is that banana? Oh, yes, it is! 

 

Mmmmm. 

 

Life is good. 



----



Dean, Sam, and Ellen sit around the kitchen drinking beer and catching up as they wait for the others. They talk about the roadhouse and the family, gossip about the hunters they know, and reminisce over holidays in the past. They’re in the middle of laughing over Sam’s re-telling of Dean stealing an entire pie last year the night before Thanksgiving and sneaking it back to the motel, eating the whole thing once Sam went to bed, when Bobby and Ash walk into the kitchen together. Bobby is bitching about traffic while Ash rubs at his eyes and bitches about being awake at such an early hour. 

 

Then two sets of eyes fall on Castiel, and both men are grinning like idiots at the sight of the baby, forgetting about everything else. 

 

“Well look at this kickass little dude!” 

 

“Ash!” Dean throws his hands up. “Don’t swear around the baby.”

 

“What? He can’t understand it. Chillax, bro.” Ash leans down and messes up Castiel’s hair. “You need a mullet. Should we convince your daddy to give you a mullet?”

 

Castiel looks up at Ash, his expression unchanged as he continues to devour his cookie. Cookie crumb slobber is all over his hand, chin, and shirt, but he doesn’t seem to care at all. He’s enjoying himself too much. 

 

“That won’t be happening,” Dean establishes. 

 

“Yeah, yeah. Come here, man.” Ash leaves Castiel to come around the breakfast bar and throw his arms around Dean. They pat each other on the back before Ash pulls away and does the same with Sam. 

 

As Sam and Ash start catching up about some nerdy shit Dean couldn’t care less about, Dean watches Bobby approach Castiel. 

 

“My first grandson,” Bobby says, crouching down so he’s eye-level with Castiel. He smiles wide at the baby and pokes at his nose. Castiel grunts in displeasure but it must not piss him off enough to stop eating his cookie, because he does nothing else. “You’re a messy tike, aren’t ya?” 

 

“His first ever cookie.” Ellen puffs up with pride. “I’m his favorite.”

 

“Oh, no, no, no,” Bobby says with his finger wagging in the air. “None of that. You hear me boy? Me and you are gonna be thick as theives, just like your daddy was. Gonna teach ya how to fix cars and drink whiskey and pick up chicks - or dicks, if that’s your thing.”

 

“Bobby!” Dean chastises, trying hard not to laugh. It’d be different if Castiel didn’t understand, but he does, and Dean doesn’t want the little one getting any funny ideas. He will most definitely not be drinking whiskey and picking up chicks or dicks with his Grandpa Bobby. At least not until he’s eighteen. 

 

Bobby just laughs at Dean and looks at Castiel like they’re in on a secret together. “Don’t worry,” he says in a dramatic whisper. “We won’t tell daddy.”

 

This makes Castiel giggle around his cookie. All of the grown-ups in the room love that. They fall into a fit of ‘ooohs’ and ‘awwws’ and ‘he’s just so damn cute’s’ - Ash surprisingly having the biggest heart-eyes of all - but Dean is giving Castiel a dirty look over all of their shoulders, and Castiel is smirking right back. 

 

Great. This little shit is going to use his adorableness against these people, and Dean can’t even fight it without giving away the truth! When Dean catches Sam laughing under his breath, hand covering his face to hide a smile, Dean knows Sam realizes the same. 

 

Castiel is in for three days of being spoiled beyond belief. 

 

Dean can’t even find it in himself to be upset with the little boy, even if he is a manipulative little asshole. Castiel deserves all of this. All of the cookies and compliments and presents and cuddles and anything else these people can (safely) give him.





---- 




Castiel wakes up somewhere unfamiliar. Startled, his arms and legs fly out as he grunts into the boo in his mouth. He looks around with wide eyes and realizes he’s been left alone in a room he doesn’t recognize. He’s in the mesh prison again. It’s dark. Sam and Dean aren’t nearby as far as he can tell. 

 

Castiel doesn’t remember falling asleep. He must have done it by accident. From the looks of things, he must have been sleeping pretty hard too because Dean changed him into pajamas at some point without him waking up. 

 

This is a situation that is not satisfactory. 

 

He’s alone. 

 

Afraid.

 

Lonely. 

 

In the mesh prison he hates. 

 

With a wet diaper. 

 

And a foggy memory. 

 

And no cookie. 

 

His belly rumbles at the reminder of the cookie and he starts to whine, hoping someone is close enough to hear that he’s upset. He whines again after a few seconds pass without anything happening. 

 

And again. 

 

Well now... what the hell is this?!?! Where is his daddy or uncle? Or Ellen? Or Ash? Or Bobby? Bobby, who promised cars and whiskey and chicks and dicks - all things Castiel couldn’t care less about, but still, someone like that should be here in his time of need. Especially since he was claiming to be Castiel’s favorite person. 

 

Same with Ellen! They aren’t winning any points by ignoring him! Goodness… the level of rudeness with these people. Just sticking him in a mesh prison all by himself. 

 

Realizing the whining isn’t good enough, Castiel pops his boo out and calls out, “Da-da!” 

 

Unfortunately, his tiny voice is weak and rough, barely any nose coming out at all. It’s embarrassing and not at all productive. Castiel fidgets. He doesn’t want to be too loud or cry. He promised himself he wouldn’t do that. 

 

But he’s so afraid right now. And his diaper isn’t comfortable at all. 

 

And he’s hungry. 

 

And he misses his daddy… 

 

Castiel catches sight of his stuffed Moose ‘moo’ and hurries to pull him to his chest. He does the best he can to cover his body with his blanket and stuffs his boo into his mouth. A tear slips down his cheek but he knows he can do this. It’s only a matter of time before someone comes to check on him. He can be a good baby.

 

He knows it. 

 

He can be good. 

 

He’ll show them.

 

Castiel can be good. 



---- 



Dean wakes up to heavy breaths and sniffles. He rubs at his eyes and wonders what it could be before jolting upright when the sounds are followed by a pained whimper. 

 

“Cas?” he gasps, nearly falling off the bed from how tangled he is in the blankets. 

 

“Da?” Castiel sobs. It’s muffled and desperate. Panicked. 

 

“Oh, baby. Shhh. Daddy’s right here.” Dean stumbles around the corner to where he put Castiel’s pack n’ play. Ellen gave them the guest suite out back so they’d be farther away from everyone in case Castiel has a hard time sleeping. Also, it’d be nice to have their own bathroom and mini-fridge.

 

It was great in theory, but now Dean’s realizing he was too far from his poor son. It’s all one room, but it was separated by a half-wall that’s a lot like the ones in hotel rooms, and he had put Castiel in the empty area between the bedroom and the bathroom. Apparently that was enough distance for him not to hear Castiel. 

 

He’s the worst dad in the world. 

 

The second he possibly can, Dean’s getting his hands on his baby boy and scooping him up. Castiel burrows into him and whimpers. When he realizes Castiel’s face is soaked and his diaper is full, Dean feels even worse. 

 

“I’m so sorry, buddy,” he whispers as he blindly stumbles back to his own bed. He doesn’t even bother to try putting Castiel down, knowing the baby wouldn’t like it. Instead, he juggles Castiel as he leans down and rummages through the boy’s bag. Once he has what he needs for a diaper change, plus a fresh burp rag to wipe the baby’s face, Dean gently lays Castiel on his back and explains, “Daddy isn’t going anywhere. Just need to change your diaper, okay? Then we can cuddle and stay in the big bed together. No silly pack ‘n play.” 

 

“Yuh!” Castiel squeaks around his boo. 

 

“I hope you weren’t scared,” Dean whispers as he undoes the snaps of Castiel’s footie pjs. “You fell asleep in my arms while everyone was visiting. Total sugar crash. I kept you with me the whole time but when I came to bed I put you in the pack ‘n play. I’m sorry… I know it must have been confusing to wake up somewhere else without remembering getting there.” 

 

“Yuh,” Castiel says pathetically. 

 

“I’m sorry. Daddy will wake you up next time first. You were just so tired! You slept through a diaper change and getting into your pjs.” 

 

Castiel wiggles uncomfortably during his diaper change, but he must be too upset still to bitch at Dean. It’s a quick process and then Dean’s sealing him back in his pjs and holding him to his chest. Castiel’s little tummy rumbles and Dean smiles. “Are you hungry baby?”

 

“Yuh!”

 

“Okay. Can daddy put you down real quick? I don’t have to leave, just need to go over to the little sink and make your bottle.”

 

There’s a small pause and then Castiel mumbles a little, “Yuh.” 

 

Before Dean can leave, however, Castiel chirps an almost panicked, “Moo! Moo dada!” 

 

“Okay, okay. Let me grab him.”

 

Dean hurries over to the pack ‘n play and grabs Castiel’s moose as well as his fuzzy blanket. He brings both to Castiel, unable to stop himself from melting completely when Castiel curls his entire little body around the big stuffed moose, humming in approval. 

 

The baby is almost sleeping again when Dean returns with the bottle. Dean has to stroke his cheek and convince him to wake up enough to drink half of it. After that, it’s useless. Castiel doesn’t even bother arguing with him or pushing the bottle away anymore. He just squeezes his lips tight and turns his face into Dean’s chest. 

 

Figuring it’s not the end of the world if the baby only drinks half of his bottle, Dean puts the thing aside and moves back so he’s comfortable on the bed. He lays down on the pillow he was using before and places Castiel beside him. There’s about a foot between them, which is probably for the best considering Castiel quickly squirms into a position where he’s sprawled out on his belly, arms and legs like a starfish, as his little baby wings flutter every few breaths. It’s absolutely adorable, but Dean doesn’t feel like being hit with those tiny suckers while trying to sleep. 

 

Putting Castiel’s moose between them and covering Castiel with his fuzzy blanket, Dean pulls the comforter over them both - making sure it’s not on top of Castiel’s little wings since it’d be too heavy for them unlike the small fuzzy blanket. Then he leans over and presses a soft kiss to Castiel’s forehead, smiling when it makes the baby coo in his sleep. 

 

“Goodnight baby boy,” Dean whispers, closing his eyes and sinking into the bed. “Love you.”

 

“Mmmmmmmmmmmm,” Castiel says under his breath, a possible acknowledgement but also a possible coincidence. 

 

Either way, Dean falls asleep grinning. 




---- 





When Castiel wakes up, he’s once again somewhere different than where he fell asleep. He scrubs at his eyes and squints up at the person holding him. It’s Benny. He’s talking animatedly to someone - or multiple someones - as he ever so gently rocks Castiel in his arms. Castiel can smell bacon cooking and coffee on Benny’s breath. He supposes it’s better than blood. And the man is quite warm and comfortable. 

 

Still… Castiel fell asleep with his daddy, and he’d very much like to go back to him now. 

 

“Oh, look who decided to join us,” Benny grumbles in his thick accented voice. He grins down at Castiel with hearts in his eyes. “Hello little lad. I’m Uncle Benny! I’m your daddy’s best friend.”

 

“Um, no. No, you most definitely are not. I am my daddy’s best friend!”

 

“Damn, Benny, way to piss the baby off first thing,” Castiel hears a young girl say. Jo. It must be Jo. 

 

“I didn’t mean to upset him!” Benny looks down at Castiel with a pout. “Don’t hate me laddie. We’re gonna be best friends too. You have to help me mess with your daddy all the time.”

 

Castiel cracks a smile at that. Perhaps they can both be Dean’s best friend. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to share. As long as Benny understands that Castiel will always be Dean’s number one. He’s his baby boy afterall. 

 

"He might be hungry. I'll make him a bottle." That's Uncle Sam! Okay, Uncle Sam is here. Castiel feels a bit better now. All he has to do is find his daddy and he'll be good to go. 

 

"Is he a good eater?" Jo asks.

 

Sam scoffs. "For Dean. Whenever I try, I end up covered in the food while the little shit smirks at me. He lets me feed him bottles though."

 

"Do you think he'd let me?" Benny asks softly. The amount of hope in his voice makes Castiel decide that he will in fact let Benny feed him, if Uncle Sam agrees. Usually he's a little more anxious but he's surprisingly okay right now. Even his need for his daddy isn't overwhelming. He's pretty content just lounging with Benny. 

 

He feels Benny hold his breath as he brings the nipple of the bottle to Castiel’s lips. Castiel quickly parts his lips and accepts it, partly because he wants to make Benny happy but also because he’s really hungry. 

 

Castiel drinks his bottle easily, Benny doing the thing Sam taught him where he has to make Castiel take breaks so he doesn’t choke. Milk is wiped off of his chin with a little burp rag and then he’s sitting up in Benny’s lap being gently bounced. It’s a scary feeling at first because it feels as if he could pitch forward at any moment, but then Benny’s big hands tighten around him and Castiel is able to just enjoy the steady rhythm of the movement. 

 

Everything is going great. 

 

Then something terrible happens. One of the bounces hits just right and Castiel immediately realizes he has to pee. He has to pee NOW! A full shiver runs through him as he desperately tries to squeeze his muscles. He needs Benny to stop bouncing, but if he tries communicating his discomfort, his focus might be pulled away from the current task of keeping his tiny bladder under control. 

 

A particularly harsh bounces makes this nearly impossible. He’s going to do it. He’s going to pee right here on Benny, without his daddy around. He’s never even let his Uncle Sam change him! It’s too much. Too big. No no no. 

 

The realization that he probably won’t be able to escape this situation brings tears to Castiel’s eyes. His chest quakes and his tiny fists ball up as if he could fight someone. 

 

Benny keeps bouncing. 

 

Oh no. 

 

Oh no. 

 

Oh no.

 

Where is his daddy? Is Uncle Sam even here? He hasn’t heard him in a long time… what if he left too? 

 

Oh no. 

 

No. 

 

No. 

 

With a sharp cry, Castiel lets go. It was impossible to hang on any longer, not with the way his belly had begun cramping and Benny kept bouncing. He holds very still as all eyes fall on him, realizing his mistake. He should have just let himself pee quietly. Instead, he waited until it was painful, then made a loud noise as it happened. 

 

Castiel shoves his fist as far into his mouth as he possibly can and tries to keep calm. 

 

It doesn’t work.

“I think the little lad has filled his nappy.” 

 

Great. Thanks Benny. Way to announce it to the whole damn room. 

 

“Oh, I can take him for a change! Sam brought his diaper bag out. It’s… somewhere,” Ellen says, looking around. 

 

“Right here, mom!” 

 

Castiel sees Ellen take the bag from Jo and panics. He pulls his hand from his mouth and very loudly screeches, “Sam! Sam! Sam!”

 

“Am? Sam? Is he trying to find Sam?” Jo asks. 

 

Benny sighs and looks down at Castiel with a pitying expression. “Sorry buddy, Uncle Sam went on his morning run! It’s okay. Shhh. It’s okay. Auntie Ellen will change you.”

 

“No! No! No! No! No! I need Sam. Or - or daddy! Uncle Sam or my daddy. Please. Don’t touch me. No! You can’t touch me! I don’t want you to touch me! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Castiel is screaming his lungs out, barely taking in breaths as he does so. He’s using the very small amount of control he has over his wings to flap them wildly at his attackers. 

 

“Shhh!” Ellen coos, trying to grab him but getting hit with a fist, and then the tip of a wing. “We’re letting daddy sleep in. He needs rest, baby boy. Being a daddy is hard! Shhh, it’s okay, shhhh now.” 

 

Ellen manages to get her hands on him. She presses him into her chest and coos in his ear, telling him to hush and that he’s safe and that daddy will be awake soon. He feels awful because Ellen is right, daddy needs rest. The man deserves it. But Castiel needs his daddy. He needs him really bad. 

 

“What’s all the commotion?” Castiel hears someone ask in a slightly-panicked-but-trying-very-hard-to-be-joking tone that he recognizes. He perks up and whips his head around immediately, eyes scanning the room until they lock on his daddy where the man stands in the doorway. 

 

“Da!” Castiel squeals. He throws himself forward, Ellen just barely managing to hold on. Thankfully his daddy doesn’t make him wait. He hurries over and scoops Castiel up. 

 

“He just started screaming and crying when we went to change him. I’m not - I’m not sure what happened,” Ellen says guiltily. 

 

“I fed him. Maybe I… did it wrong? Maybe he has gas or something?”

 

Daddy’s green eyes are focused straight on Castiel, giving him his full attention. He wipes Castiel’s cheeks clean and presses a kiss to his forehead. Then he places his lips next to Castiel’s ear and whispers, “Daddy’s here now. I’ll change you.” 

 

Even though Castiel knew that, it’s so nice to hear it. To be 100% sure. His entire body relaxes into his daddy’s hold as he buries his face in the crook of his daddy’s neck. 

 

They start to walk and he hears his daddy tell them, “He doesn’t like wet diapers at all. Usually kicks up a fuss like that whenever it happens. No big deal. I’ll go change him and get him dressed for the day.” 

 

Everyone accepts this as an explanation and goes back to mingling over their coffees. The second his daddy gets them back to their little suite they’ve been in, Castiel pulls his face away from his daddy’s neck and looks straight at him. He grips his daddy’s cheeks with his tiny hands and stares at him. His lip trembles as he whispers, “I was so scared. I didn’t like that at all. Maybe we should… maybe we should go home, daddy. Please. I don’t want that to happen again.”

 

“Shhh. I know. I know you’re upset. Let’s talk about it, okay?”

 

“Yuh.”

 

His daddy places him on the bed and begins to change him. He talks as he goes, like he always does during times like this, knowing the distraction helps Castiel cope. “I’m so sorry that happened to you, Cas. Sam and I promised not to leave you alone and we broke that promise. When Sam came in to grab you this morning and said I could sleep in, I should have said no and come with you. I don’t know where the fuck he is but I’m going to kick his ass for the both of us, I promise. And I swear, Cas, you gotta trust me on this, I won’t leave you again. I swear it. No matter what, I won’t leave you again.”

 

Castiel still wants to go home, but he believes his daddy. He thinks his daddy deserves a second chance. That’s their thing anyway, isn’t it? Second chances. 

 

“You gonna be okay, baby?” his daddy asks after Castiel is all cleaned up. 

 

“Yuh.” Castiel fidgets before giving the clothes in his daddy’s hands a dirty look. “That better not have a damn bow tie. I’m not wearing a damn bow tie, I swear it, daddy. I’ll kick your ass.”

 

“I can tell by your face that you’re pissed again. Is it the outfit? I thought it was okay. Cute, sure, but nothing crazy. No bow ties,” he teases, winking at Castiel. 

 

Castiel huffs but waves a hand like he’s telling his daddy to show it to him. When his daddy lays it out on the bed so he can see the whole thing, Castiel snorts through his nose. 

 

“It’s not that bad!” his daddy defends. 

 

With a very unimpressed raised eyebrow, Castiel points a chubby finger first at the striped pants that have Santa on the butt, then to the santa hat. He doesn’t mind the sweater. In fact, it’s kind of funny. It has a big moose with decorations dangling from its antlers, with the words ‘Merry Moosemas’ below. But the other two components gotta go. 

 

At least there isn’t any socks. 

 

“You’ll look so cute, Cas,” his daddy tries. 

 

“Nuh.”

 

“Please?”

 

“Nuh.”

 

“You’ll forget it’s even on your butt after a while.” 

 

Castiel raises his eyebrow again and points to the santa hat. “Nuh!”

 

“You can take it off if it’s bothering you, but just let me get a picture of you wearing it first. Please?”

 

Instead of answering, Castiel flops onto his back and spreads his limbs like Dean usually has him do when getting him dressed. He grumbles angrily, “Stupid Winchesters with their stupid puppy dog eyes making me feel bad for not wanting to look like an assbutt. Daddy is ridiculous and embarrassing and I hope the man is ashamed of himself! Making me wear Santa’s face on my butt?!? The audacity.” 




----  




Despite apparently hating the hat - the baby had grumbled for five minutes straight under his breath, incoherent angry baby babble that Dean couldn’t understand -  Castiel has yet to take it off. It’s survived breakfast, lunch, and even naptime. A few times it fell off but then he would shyly bring it to someone and have them put it back on again. Dean’s pretty sure the baby likes all of the attention he’s getting. He definitely likes the treats Ellen keeps sneaking him, and the silly games Ash, Benny, and Jo keep playing with him. 

 

After his last diaper change, Castiel had crawled away before Dean could put his shirt on, leaving him in just his striped pants. He was too excited to get back to everyone since they were decorating the tree. The excitement, however, had been put on hold as he hurried back over to Dean and took the santa hat back from him. He didn’t seem concerned about the shirt so Dean let him go crawling out into the living room in his pants and santa hat, naked from the waist up. 

 

Of course, everyone melted over his adorableness when he returned looking like that, so the little shit had his pick of what he wanted to do. Ash let him play with tinsel. Ellen let him pick out ornaments. Jo lifted him up and let him clumsily place ornaments on branches - Benny stood right beside him, catching each ornament after a failed attempt and sneakily securing it to the tree so Castiel would get excited thinking he did it himself. 

 

Now, Castiel has commandeered a string of lights. In fact, the entire tree is finished being decorated and Ellen has given up hope that this particular string of lights will be making it onto the tree. Castiel has a pile of tangled wire and lights in his lap as he goes between bringing the lights very close to his face and cooing at them, and pulling them very far away and watching them twinkle in a daze. He even chews on them once - though he gets in big trouble for that by Dean. 

 

At some point, Jo pulls out her camera and starts taking pictures of Castiel. At first he gives her very dirty looks but then he sighs and decides to just ignore her. He even lets her take a picture of him in Dean’s arms, the string of lights of course dangling down from his tight fist where he’s holding onto it like his life depends on it. 

 

Castiel doesn’t lose interest in the lights until dinner is announced. Then his eyebrows go way up and he’s crawling into the kitchen, leaving everyone behind to follow Ellen’s voice. When Ellen scoops him up and places him in Jo’s old highchair, Castiel sees a plate of food on his tray and squeals. It’s such an adorable baby-like sound that Dean’s heart melts. 

 

Then he’s belly laughing, along with everyone else, because Castiel tried lifting a spoon of mashed potatoes to bring to his mouth and wound up flicking the whole thing straight into his face. He looks at his nose where it’s dripping off of the tip, his blue eyes going cross-eyed. Then he raises his eyebrows and widens his eyes to look up at Dean. When he sees everyone laughing at him, he pouts. 

 

“Now you know how it feels,” Sam grumbles, referring to the first time he tried feeding Castiel. “Not so fun to have food flung in your face now is it?” 

 

That was a mistake. 

 

Castiel takes a fistful of mashed potatoes and chucks them at Sam. Considering his poor coordination and weak muscles, it’s an impressive throw. It hits him square in the face. 

 

This time when everyone starts laughing, Castiel included, it’s Sam that’s pouting. 

 

“You think that’s funny?” Sam asks Dean, one eyebrow raised. 

 

Dean’s face falls. “Don’t you even think about it, Sammy!”

 

“Think about what, Dean?” Sam asks in fake innocence, hand casually - but not really casually at all - scooping up some mashed potatoes straight from the serving dish on the counter. 

 

“Sam Winchester, I spent two damn hours peelin’, boilin’, and mashin’ them potatoes! You stop this right now!” 

 

“Sorry, Ellen.” Sam gives her an apologetic look, then lunges at Dean and smears his hand of potatoes all over Dean’s face. 

 

Dean tackles Sam and manages to get a scoop of his own to attack him with, pushing the potatoes up his nose on accident. While Sam gets Dean off of him and sneezes mashed potatoes, Ash is squealing as Jo chases him around with cranberry sauce, Ellen is bitching at everyone to cut it out right this minute, Bobby is covering his face with his discarded flannel and drinking a bottle of beer beneath the protective layer of fabric, and Benny is using Castiel as a human shield by hiding behind his highchair. 

 

When they run out of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce - the only two things that were both easy to throw and not boiling hot - everyone crumbles to the floor in fits of laughter. Everyone besides Ellen of course. Ellen is taking a second dish of mashed potatoes from where they were hiding behind the pan of turkey and takes a chance to glare at every single person - even Castiel, though that glare is short and ends in a smile because the baby is just too damn cute - before declaring, “No one is allowed to throw this batch. And when we run out halfway through the meal, ya’ll better not complain, because it ain’t my damn fault.” 

 

Everyone looks slightly chastised and mumbles variations of “ Yes, ma’am .” 

 

Castiel just snorts and laughs before bringing his spoon to his mouth to successfully eat a bite of mashed potatoes. He apparently figured out the utensil during the impromptu food fight that the baby started himself. 

 

In clothes dripping with food, the rest of the family gingerly walks around the messy kitchen to keep from slipping on the floor as they make their plates and head to the table, all still snickering a bit under their breath, and then finally start their feast. 




---- 




Castiel smacks his lips a few times before leaning forward and opening his mouth wide. “Uh!” he grunts, looking at Benny in expectation. 

 

After sneaking a glance at Castiel’s daddy, since he already told them twice no more sweets, Benny quickly offers up his fork with pumpkin pie on the end and brings it to Castiel’s lips. Castiel devours it and sits back with a pumpkin-y grin as he rolls the delicious food around on his tongue. He totally has Benny wrapped around his hand and he plans on milking that for all it’s worth. 

 

Like now. 

 

Castiel smacks his lips again and leans forward, lips parted in expectation. He doesn’t even have to grunt this time. The fork is already sliding into his mouth. This time, the pie has a bit of whipped cream on it, which makes Castiel hum loudly in appreciation as he gums at it. 

 

“Benny!” his daddy half-laughs, half-barks. “No more pie!”

 

“Don’t be a hypocrite, Dean,” Sam chastises. “You’re on your fourth slice.”

 

“I don’t have a baby belly!” his daddy says in his defense. 

 

“It’s Christmas!” Ellen says in return. “You ruined my mashed potatoes, boy. I’m using my card and saying let the kiddo eat his heart out.”

 

Daddy rolls his eyes. “Fine, but when he’s throwing up, or he’s wide awake at four in the morning from the sugar, I’m not the one taking care of him.” 

 

Castiel scoffs. That won’t happen. He’s an angel for goodness sakes. Yes, he’s tiny and falling, but he hasn’t lost his grace completely yet. He can handle some delicious pie. 

 

Or maybe not. 

 

Just as he’s put in his pajamas, Castiel’s stomach rolls and he burps. He and his daddy stare at each other, holding their breath. Then Castiel is throwing up bright orange all over his daddy’s shirt. 

 

The only good thing is it’s surprisingly not terrible. Once it’s on his daddy, Castiel’s stomach no longer hurts. In fact, he’s kind of a little hungry. He does hate the taste in his mouth, though, so he sticks his tongue out and grunts at his daddy to tell him to fix it. 

 

“You okay, buddy?” his daddy asks in concern, not seeming bothered by his dirty shirt. 

 

Castiel doesn’t want to try to speak because that would include his tongue, so he keeps it out and grunts again. He can see his daddy is confused but he doesn’t know how else to explain it. Shouldn’t it be obvious? He just threw up! That’s gross! 

 

Suddenly people are all around them. Benny is apologizing profusely and his Uncle Sam is gently taking Castiel so Dean can remove his shirt. A washcloth is pressed to his chin and lips, skating along his tongue as well since he refuses to put it back in his mouth. When he looks up with slightly watery eyes he sees it’s Ellen that’s doing that. He appreciates it but he can still taste the gross vomit on his tongue. 

 

“Go take a shower, I got him,” his Uncle Sam tells his daddy. Castiel pouts but figures it’s fair for his daddy to be able to go get clean. 

 

“You should get clean too, buddy,” Ellen says as if she could hear his thoughts. “Let’s give you a quick bath.”

 

“You sure that’s okay?” Uncle Sam asks. “He’s sick.”

 

“Oh, he probably threw it all up now. He’s fine. Probably feels much better, honestly. Come here little guy.” Ellen takes him in her arms. “We’ll clean you up and get you in some fresh pjs and everything will be okay again.”

 

“I’m so sorry,” Benny tells him, looking like he might cry. 

 

Castiel reaches a hand out and presses it to Benny’s cheek. He leans closer - as close as Ellen lets him - and smiles. He has no idea how to let Benny know it’s okay so he does his best to look like a happy baby, blowing a few bubbles and laughing softly before smacking a slobbery kiss on Benny’s cheek. Benny seems to sag in relief before he does a much cleaner kiss back to Castiel’s forehead. 

 

When Ellen carries Castiel into the kitchen, though, Castiel is very confused. He grunts to show his displeasure. He was told he’s getting cleaned. If he has to deal with this gross taste in his mouth, the least they can do is follow through with their promise of cleaning him!

 

Ellen wipes down the inside of the sink with her free hand before she begins to fill it with water. 

 

“What the heck lady?” Castiel growls. “This is not the time to wash dishes! I am covered in vomit. Take these gross clothes off and give me a damn bath so I can beg someone for a bottle, get this nasty taste out of my mouth, and go to bed! This instant!” 

 

Ellen laughs at him. “Oh, my. Angry little one right now.”

 

“Damn right I’m angry! I want my bath! You have no idea how much I must want a bath if I’m willing to let you see me naked, lady. I never let anyone see me naked besides my daddy and once or twice Uncle Sam but mostly just my daddy and pretty soon I’m going to start yelling for my daddy because you’re making me mad! Bath! Now!”

 

“Wow. That was quite a lot.” Ellen says as Jo shows up and pours what looks like soap into the sink. Not dish soap, though. More like body wash or shampoo. “All I heard from that is daddy, but I promise daddy is coming soon, okay? Let’s just get you nice and clean for him.”

 

Castiel’s eyebrows pull in. He’s not exactly sure what’s going on anymore. 

 

The confusion grows when Ellen strips him down and puts him in the sink. The sink! Like he’s a dirty dish! 

 

Castiel opens his mouth with the intention to squawk at her but is cut off when she offers him something. He takes it in his hand and turns his head to the side to inspect it. It’s kind of like a big boo, but instead of a plastic piece to suck on, it’s some sort of fabric. The fabric also seems to be wrapped around food. Maybe… strawberries? Raspberries? When Castiel touches a fingertip to the mesh, he sees that it’s cold. Frozen almost. 

 

Ellen guides his tiny fist to his mouth and encourages him to taste it. He can’t help the embarrassing moan that escapes him when the fruit first lands on his tongue. It’s amazing. Beautiful. God’s best gift to Earth. At least, that’s his opinion right now as the strawberries chase away the lingering taste of vomit. They’re heroic. Plain and simple. 

 

Castiel grins up at Ellen and gurgles an incoherent thank you, continuing to suck on the thing. It feels good on his gums, too. He’s not sure why and he doesn’t really care. It’s more of an observation. 

 

As Castiel enjoys his treat, Ellen washes him with a soft cloth that feels good against his skin. He finds himself closing his eyes and humming in pleasure, relaxing back against the side of the sink. The slow, rhythmic movements feel so nice, lulling him nearly to sleep. He’s so out of it that he jumps and sends water splashing everywhere when he hears his daddy enter the kitchen and ask, “Should he really be eating again?” 

 

Feeling threatened, Castiel squeezes the thing in his hand harder and furiously gums at it. He savors every delicious second knowing his mean daddy might take it away!

 

“Not at all. He’s barely getting any of it, just the taste. Probably just helps get rid of that after-taste the throw up left.” 

 

“Oh. Okay.” His daddy releases a soft sigh that sounds sort of sad, making Castiel open his eyes in concern. His daddy isn’t looking at him though. He’s looking at Ellen. “Ellen, what if I’m not good at this? What if I can’t be enough?”

 

“Oh, Dean Winchester, you are meant to be a dad - and a good one at that. You may have your daddy’s skills at shootin’, huntin’, and drinkin’ but you got your mama’s heart and kindness. This little boy is the luckiest one in the world.” 

 

His daddy wipes his eyes and smiles, and Castiel needs to hug him immediately. 

 

“Da!” he chirps, putting his arms in the air and doing a grabby hand with the hand that’s not holding his new snack. 

 

His daddy’s whole face lights up. “Hey there buddy! Whatcha got?”

 

Castiel shakes the treat in the air with a big grin. “Strawberries! It’s soooo good daddy! It tastes like a popsicle, nice and cold, and it’s making my belly feel all better! Are you okay, daddy? I’m sorry I threw up on you. But now we’re both all clean, daddy!”

 

His daddy just smiles and nods a lot without saying anything. Whatever . Castiel knew he wouldn’t understand anyway, but it drives him crazy if he doesn’t talk, so he talks regardless. He can’t help it. It’s even better that they can’t understand because he doesn’t have to carefully pick and choose his words, or worry about them teasing him for getting a reference or saying wrong. 

 

Castiel does know his daddy understands, “Da!” though, so he keeps saying it with little grunts in between, moving his body in a way he hopes translates to ‘pick me up right now, I’m sleepy and want to go to bed and cuddle.’ 

 

Thankfully, his daddy does it. Scoops him straight up even though he’s dripping wet, bubbles and treat and all. He would usually freak out that he’s butt naked in front of who knows who, but he’s enjoying his strawberries and he’s got his daddy and he really is super sleepy, so he’s over it. He just rests his head on his daddy’s shoulder and closes his eyes, using his treat like a make-shift, very yummy boo. Though his daddy better get him a real boo, soon. And a diaper. He can live without the rest, but those are essential. 



----



Castiel is one impatient little guy. He’s already been dragged away from the presents three times, and they only woke up and came to sit in the living room with everyone four minutes ago. 

 

“Bobby!” Ellen shouts in the direction of the kitchen. “Better get your grumpy ass in here or you’re gonna miss this little boy opening his presents!” 

 

As if Castiel agrees - which, considering he’s aware, he probably does - Castiel lunges once again for the nearest box. When Dean catches him and pulls him back and into his lap, Castiel makes an angry growly sound and flaps his wings hard enough to daze Dean when one clips his face. 

 

“Just let him go at ‘em, Dean,” Ellen tells him, just as Bobby yells from somewhere closer than the kitchen, “I’m comin’, I’m comin’!” 

 

“Run old man!” Ash cheers, laughing, then grunting when Bobby hits him over the back of the head. 

 

“Okay. Okay.” Bobby sits down on the chair, panting dramatically. He hands Dean the coffee mug in his left hand and winks at him before taking a sip from the mug in his right. Dean leans forward and smells the coffee. Mmmmmm. Nothing beats Bobby’s homemade Irish coffee. 

 

When Dean leans away from Castiel to take a sip without the risk of spilling hot liquid on the baby, Castiel takes his chance and goes for attempt number five. When no one stops him this time, he squeals and wraps his teeny tiny arms around the first present he finds, hugging it. He looks over his shoulder at Dean and asks with an adorable little head tilt, “Cas?”

 

Since it’s the first time Castiel has been able to say his own name, and used it like this, Dean melts along with everyone else. Jo makes a comment about Castiel being so advanced and Ash says something about his brain developing faster since it’s already been developed before. Something about neurons and crap. Dean ignores them. He just turns the gift so the tag is revealed and reads, probably at the same time that Castiel reads it in his mind, “To Castiel, From Ellen!” 

 

“Cas!” Castiel says again, clapping his hands clumsily. Then he’s tearing at the thing. Absolutely tearing. His little nails become terrifying claws as he rips the wrapping apart. Unlike other kids, though, he doesn’t stop the second he can see what it is. He takes off every single scrap of paper before sitting back on his diapered bum and examining the box. It’s obvious what it is since it’s in a box with a clear plastic front, but Castiel apparently hasn’t decided if he likes it or not. 

 

Castiel very gently touches the plastic in front of the baby doll’s nose. Then he puts his face very close to the plastic, almost resting his forehead against it, and coos. When he hugs it tight to his chest and then practically throws it at Dean to open it, Ellen laughs softly. 

 

“I was worried he didn’t like it!” she admits. 

 

“He’s just very thoughtful. Little mind working hard in there,” Sam explains. 

 

Castiel gives him a bitch face in return - probably from the ‘little mind’ thing. Then he crawls over to Dean and slaps a hand against the box impatiently. “Dada! Ah!” 

 

He’s not sure what ‘ah’ is, but the baby clearly wants the doll, and he wants it now, so Dean makes quick work of the box and pulls the doll out. It’s very soft, almost like a stuffed animal. Little strands of hair stick up from the very top in the center. It’s in a pink dress and a pink velcro boo is attached to its lips. 

 

Little eyebrows pulling in to show his determination, Castiel takes the doll from Dean and strokes its head. Then he hugs it to his chest like he had with the box and melts. Dean wishes he had thought of a doll for Castiel sooner. It makes perfect sense. When he was an adult, the angel had loved caring for others. He was protective and loving. He found peace in knowing he kept the boys safe. He can’t do that now, not in the same way. A doll was brilliant. 

 

“Thank you, Ellen,” Dean says, his stupid eyes watering. They’ve been doing that a lot lately. 

 

Ellen leans over from her spot on the couch and gives Dean a half-hug. “Of course. Gotta spoil the grandbaby.” 

 

Dean laughs at that. 

 

He shouldn’t have. 

 

Spoil the baby they all did. He had seen all of the presents, of course, but he hadn’t realized how many of them were meant for his boy. He supposes he should have realized. They do secret santa, so everyone only got one or two gifts - all under the fifty dollar limit - from whoever had their name this year. The only person left after that was Castiel. 

 

For some reason, Dean hadn’t made the connection. 

 

He makes the connection when the impala is stuffed so full of presents that the monster hunting weapons have to stay behind for Bobby to bring to the bunker next time he visits. 

 

Castiel’s favorite gift hands-down is the baby doll, though. He’s already calling it ‘Za,’ which Dean and Sam couldn’t figure out, but Castiel doesn’t seem to mind them just calling it ‘Za’ too instead of understanding what name Castiel meant. Who knows, maybe he really just means ‘Za.’ 

 

Either way, Castiel hasn’t put the baby down since this morning. Not once. It was adorable when he took his nap as he tried to hug both his stuffed moose as well as his baby doll while sleeping. He managed, but just barely. 

 

Wiped out from all of the festivities, Castiel falls asleep within minutes of their drive home later Christmas night. He’s absolutely adorable back there. Sam had been smart enough to put the baby in his pajamas in case he fell asleep, so Castiel is all bundled up in his penguin pjs, his moose blankie keeping him warm, Moo his stuffed moose tucked in by his hip, and Za the doll tight in his arms. Za has its boo velcroed to its lips just like Castiel has his boo in his mouth, one with a santa face on it that wobbles every minute or so whenever Castiel sucks it extra-hard in his sleep. 

 

Suffice to say, Dean uses every single stop sign and traffic light as an opportunity to turn and look at his sweet baby boy. 

 

“Well,” Sam says with a sigh when they pull into the bunker’s garage. 

 

“Well?” Dean asks. 

 

“First Christmas as retired old men.” Sam elbows him. “First Christmas as a dad and an uncle.”

 

“Yeah. Shit, guess it was, hey?” Dean glances into the backseat again. Sam turns to do the same. They remain staring at Castiel in slight awe, neither of them calling the other out on the slight creepiness. “You think he’s happy?”

 

Sam scoffs at Dean’s question. “Definitely. Did you see him these past few days? He was a damn ham.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, he was.”

 

“Like father like son. Except its cute when he does it,” Sam teases with a wink. 

 

Just as Dean is about to say something rude in response, the plastic boo hits him in the cheek and bounces off to hit Sam on the arm. The two of them look at Castiel in shock. The baby looks unimpressed with them. He points a chubby finger out his window and toward the door that would allow them to enter the bunker. 

 

“Baba!” he demands, informing them that he’s hungry and wants a damn bottle right now. 

 

Both brothers smile fondly at him. Then Dean nods and says, “Okay, baby. We’ll get you out and give you your bottle.” 

 

Castiel huffs in relief and hugs his baby to him, then opens his mouth and says, “Boo!” to Sam like it’s Sam’s fault the thing is now sitting in his lap. 

 

“So sassy for a little boy who just got lots of presents,” Dean teases, getting out of the impala and undoing Castiel’s straps so he can take him out as well. 

 

Before Sam can give Castiel his boo back, Castiel stops him with a hand. He looks up at him, then at Dean, with watery blue eyes that are so big they seem almost impossible. “Ma - uh - uh - grrrrr,” he stops, growling in frustration. Then he tries again, even slower. “Mmm - aaaa - eee. C - aawwww - msssss.” 

 

Sam makes an ‘awww’ sound as Dean asks in a sappy voice, “Did you just say merry christmas, baby boy?”

 

“Yuh.” Castiel glares at both of them before taking the boo from Sam and shoving it in his mouth. He gives them both a sassy look before focusing back on his doll. His cheeks give him away, though. He’s not angry or annoyed with them. He’s embarrassed and vulnerable. 

 

When Dean kisses him on the tip of his nose, his cheeks grow an even darker pink and the color travels to the tips of his ears. 

 

“Merry Christmas my angel,” Dean whispers to him. 

 

“Merry Christmas little moose,” Sam says beside them. 

 

Castiel buries his face in Dean’s neck, clearly flustered and over this whole sappy moment. The brothers let him hide and bring him inside. 

 

Of course, the cute moment is ruined the second Dean tries closing the door to the garage. Castiel smacks a hand on Dean’s cheek and grunts, pointing at the car in clear distress. “Ga! Ga!”

 

It takes them a minute of asking questions and getting repeatedly hit by Castiel before they realize he’s referring to the rest of his gifts being left behind. 

 

“We’ll get them in the morning,” Dean explains, feeling exhausted. 

 

Castiel huffs, clearly unimpressed with that. He turns in Dean’s arms and points a finger at Sam. Just a finger. No noises or words. No other gestures. Just a pointed angry finger and furious eyebrows. Oh, and his fluffy wings are trembling as if they might pop wide open any second. 

 

Sam puts his hands up in surrender, unable to stop a grin. “Okay, okay. I’ll bring the gifts in. You go with daddy and get your bottle.”

 

The little huff Castiel makes this time is a clear ‘that’s what I thought assholes’ sound. If Dean was a stronger man, he’d scold Castiel for being a bossy little asshole of his own. But Dean’s not a strong man. He is pathetically weak when it comes to this little bundle of baby fat and feathered wings what can’t weigh more than twenty pounds. 

 

He even sings Castiel’s favorite songs to him while feeding him the bottle, and makes the extra effort of walking from the kitchen to the nursery so he can be rocked in his chair while fed. 

 

Let’s be honest. 

 

If Sam hadn’t gone to get the gifts, Dean would have. And he wouldn’t want it any other way.