Characters/Pairing : Dean, Sam, Castiel
Warning: None, except for the fact this is un-betaed
Word Count: 1253
Summary: Post-ep for Hunteri Heroici, because the boys deserve a little break, especially on Christmas.
Sam knew he interrupted something important when he barged into the motel room the day before. Castiel shot him a carefree look, trying hard for distraction, failing miserably. He was after all an angel and didn't have that much experience with deceit. But Sam let it slide, because beneath the chipper tone there was the look of guilt, pleading for time, for absolution. Sam knew that look, it was edged on Dean's face ever since he came back. From Hell, from Purgatory.
Castiel didn't want to talk about things, wasn't ready for it. Maybe he never will be. Sam didn't push. Not with Castiel, not with Dean. After all, he let them both down in his own way. The worst thing was Sam didn't think he would react differently if he had another chance. He needed that year, Amelia needed him. That didn't mean he didn't feel guilty.
That guilt might've been why he let the pleading look slide and spoke as if there was nothing unusual going on. It wasn't his place and it wasn't the right time.
When Castiel declined Dean's offer for a ride, Dean's first emotion was to feel hurt. The invitation was a gesture... a hand held out, trying to pull Castiel back from whatever hell he was stuck in. But he declined and Dean couldn't help but feel a jolt of anger at the rejection. It only lasted a moment though. Castiel looked at Dean, his eyes a little lighter. There was a glint of determination, a part of the old Castiel that was so familiar to Dean. It made him pause his protest and reconsider. If what Castiel needed to stop feeling like he had the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, was a little stop time with Fred Jones, so be it. Dean understood.
"Right. Just... let us know when you'll be ready," Dean said, pulling Castiel into a short hug. No one asked what he meant by being ready. They both knew.
The Christmas snuck up on them inconspicuously, leaving both brothers in a funk. Dean wasn't a big fan of the Holidays at any given time (well, not since Sammy had outgrown him and started wishing for normal Christmas) and Sam... well, he was lost in the memories of his one and only Christmas with Amelia. It was at the start of their relationship, yet it was one of the most emotional days they spent together. Both mourning their losses, but finding strength in the sudden closeness.
Dean found his brother more often than not looking into distance and after the third such occurrence Dean stopped calling out Sam's name and realised that a simple kick to the shin or a head slap brought him back to reality just as well. At least it made Dean feel better.
Catching a case seemed like a gift from heavens... anything had to be better than staying at a cheap motel and watching old Christmas flicks, waiting for a sign, for anything that would lead them to Kevin. So when Castiel appeared out of nowhere, startling Dean in the middle of shaving, saying he had a case if they felt like it, Dean didn't even yap at the fact that Castiel was incommunicado for the last few weeks. Truth be said, Dean was just happy Castiel was alive and well. If he'd known what a bother it will be, he would've rather stayed at the hotel right away and watched It's A Wonderful Life.
Dean knew there was a reason he didn't like Christmas. Everyone tried to be so damn cheery, while at the same time there was a silent panic running through their minds. Gifts, shopping, food and family gatherings. That was maybe the worst part. All the family gatherings. People who didn't see each other for a whole year, heck, sometimes for several years, chose the most stressful time of the year to get together and reminisce. Even in the best families, things tended to get wrong. Well, the Carver family was anything but the best. Two deeply believing parents mixed with two teenage daughters dabbling in dark magic. Add a distant relative that could read minds while being a big fan of an eggnog and there was a disaster ready to happen.
It took Dean all of his charm to persuade one of the girls to stop trying to kill her mind reading relative, while Sam had to refresh his memory on spell work to send back a rather angry spirit the other girl brought up. For his place, Castiel was stuck with the job of handling the hysterical parents. Dean wasn't sure if he should laugh at the flustered look on Castiel's face or slap some sense into the mind reading auntie that didn't stop babbling out family secrets the whole time.
Clearing the mess that was the family dinner luckily didn't take too long. Castiel did a little of his magic and the girls got more than a deserved lesson about calling out spirits. No one was seriously injured, only bruises and scratches from the spirit throwing around furniture.
"How did you even know about the Carvers?" Dean asked when he flopped down onto the bed in the motel room, happy to be away from the crazy. It was almost midnight and he was surprisingly tired. Sam took a seat behind the desk, opening a can of beer, looking just about done too, but strangely content and for the first time there wasn't that distant look in his eyes. Sam was okay and he was right there with Dean.
"Yeah, how did you know something will happen?"
Cas, who was leaning against the wall, just shrugged.
"I was considering Mike Carver to be my vessel at one time. I didn't go through, because there was a feeling of darkness lurking. Still, I'm more in tune with ones I know. Today, Mike Carver called for help and I answered," Castiel said, slowly looking around the room, as if assessing the space. Something dark crossed his face and he pushed away from the wall.
"You two look tired and I should let you rest."
Dean watched as Castiel turned to leave and something in his gut churned.
Castiel stopped and looked at Dean. There was a spark of longing in his eyes but he quickly pushed it back, looking stoic.
"Do you need me for something?"
Dean threw a questioning look toward Sam and his brother shrugged, as if saying why not.
"There's not enough room for three," Castiel reminded Dean the last time they were about to spend the night together. Dean blushed a little, then shook his head.
"Nonsense. It's Christmas. No one is going to sleep anyway. There's too many good movies to be watched, too much beer to drink. Am I right Sam?"
"Sure. The more the merrier," Sam said with a smile and Castiel nodded, taking the beer Dean was handing him. It didn't take long for the three to be immersed in the story of It's a Wonderful Life and trying to explain Castiel why the humans think that ringing a bell gives angels their wings. As Sam leaned back on the bed and watched his brother enthusiastically explaining, he thought that maybe it was time to hit the breaks and at least for the Holidays stop running. Maybe if they tried really hard, they could stop running for good.