Dean awoke the morning of January 24 like he would any other day. Just because it was his birthday it didn’t mean anything was different, except for his age. Dean realised he was now 35, and groaned. 35 years old, and no one to actually give a shit. He and Sam had long since stopped celebrating birthdays, like they’d never celebrated Christmas properly, and Castiel was off doing his own thing.
Not that he was thinking about Castiel caring about him.
Pushing these thoughts aside, Dean left his bedroom in search of a birthday beer. Who cared if he’d just woken up? It was happy hour somewhere.
The kitchen was silent when Dean entered. However, Dean was stunned by what he found. A huge banner spanned the opposing wall, and black and white balloons dotted a rainbow-confetti covered floor. At the centre of the table, there was a large pie with a single candle sticking out of the top.
The real kicker, though, was the sentiment printed across the banner. In thick, black letters on a plain white background.
IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY.
Dean stared. And stared.
“Uh….hello? Sammy?” he called out, uncertain. There was a familiar flutter behind him, and he turned around.
“Cas? The hell?” Dean realised that he was practically nose to nose with the angel, and stepped back slightly. Castiel stared at him, head tilted to one side.
“It is your birthday, Dean. During the course of our friendship, I have realised that you two do not celebrate birthdays. I have sought to change this, despite Sam’s protestations. He reassured me that you would not be expecting anything, even though you always sneak him a gift or token on his birthdays. I….I did not want you to be alone, Dean. You deserve a birthday celebration for once.”
Dean was speechless, gazing at the angel. Castiel grew more and more anxious, finally asking “Dean?”
Dean grabbed the angel and pulled him into a hug. Castiel stiffened slightly before relaxing into the embrace and hugging back, as Dean buried his face in his neck and whispered, “Thanks, Cas”.
Castiel flushed red at the feel of the hunter’s breath caressing his skin, and gripped Dean tightly as he murmured back, “You’re welcome, Dean.”
They stayed like that for a while, and surprisingly enough it wasn’t weird at all. Finally, however, Dean pulled back, smiling.
“So, where’s Sammy, anyway?”
“He said he would be back later – and then he winked at me. I am not sure why . I feel he may have wanted you and I to be alone.”
Dean snorted and moved to the table.
“Who made the pie, then?” He subconsciously licked his lips as the smell of warm apple pie hit him full blast.
The Winchester’s head whipped round.
“Seriously? I was joking man, I thought it was store bought. You actually made a pie for me?”
Castiel nodded, biting his lip as he studied Dean’s reaction – which was to flump down into the nearest chair
“No one’s made me a pie,” he mumbled. “Not like….for me, you know? Not since Mom.”
He blindly reached out, grabbing the bottom half of Castiel’s tie, and dragging him into an awkward hug – Dean still sat in the chair with his arms around Castiel’s waist, face pressed into his stomach, while Castiel rested his hands on Dean’s shoulders and neck, rubbing reassuringly.
“I know.” His gravelly voice was loaded with meaning. Dean peered up at his stoic face.
“I…..visited her. And you. When you were an infant.”
At this, Dean pulled back to stare at him properly.
“You did what??”
“I went to visit your mother. I thought she might want to wish you a happy birthday. She was a remarkable woman….she….I held you, Dean.”
Castiel’s thoughts flashed back as he spoke. To appearing before a terrified Mary Winchester, and informing her of who he was – an angel. Dean’s guardian angel. After attacking him and trying to kill him several times (reminding Castiel all too strongly of her eldest son), Mary had shown him Dean. A tiny, fragile infant, who had started to cry at the commotion. Castiel reacted automatically, picking him up and rocking him gently as he made soothing noises. Mary made a small noise of surprise, and Castiel let loose a rare smile.
“He has settled quickly,” he remarked, as Dean’s sobs quieted almost immediately.
“He’s never like that for anyone! He likes you,” Mary laughed. A small flush appeared on Castiel’s face as he replied shyly, “Oh. Well I….I quite like him too.”
Something changed in Mary Winchester’s face as he said that, as if she suddenly understood a lot more than Castiel let on, or was even aware of. Sleepily, the infantile Dean grabbed at Castiel’s trenchcoat, bundling what he could in his chubby fists as he fell asleep on the angel’s shoulder. Castiel chuckled, remarking to Mary: “He grabs it frequently in the future, too.”
Mary watched as the angel, now awestruck at the sight of Dean asleep on him, rubbed the back of Dean’s neck and head, whispering to him in Enochian.
“What are you saying to him?”
There was a pregnant pause.
“I am promising him that angels are watching over him, and that I will do what I can to protect him.”
“‘Angels are watching over you.’ I like that.”
“I thought you might.”
Mary hesitated, and then reached for her wrist.
“If he knows you, if he knows angels exist….he hunts, doesn’t he?”
Castiel didn’t see the point in lying.
“Yes. He’s the best.”
“And I’m not there to look after him.”
It wasn’t a question.
“He has a photograph of you beside his bed.”
The woman allowed herself a small sob, before unclasping the charm bracelet from around her wrist.
“Give this to him, then. You said he’s turning 35, where you’re from. This is all I can protect him with.”
Castiel lay down the sleeping baby carefully before taking the chain from her.
“Thank you, Mary Winchester. It was an honour to meet you. I shall pass on your affections to Dean…and Sam.”
“Wait four years.”
Mary’s eyes shone.
“Goodbye, Castiel. Thank you.”
And Castiel had returned, appearing outside the bunker.
Dean continued to stare at the angel. Castiel reached into his pocket and pulled out the bracelet before giving it to Dean.
“I altered it slightly, so that it will fit your wrist. It has magic, Dean. Protective bonds, reinforced by Mary giving it to you. I also added a layer of protection to it,” he added, looking slightly embarrassed. Wordlessly, Dean fixed the bracelet around his wrist.
They remained in silence for a couple of moments, gazing at one another until Dean smiled.
“So, to round off the best birthday ever, pie?”
Sam arrived back at the bunker a few hours later, gripping a small paper bag.
“Dean? Cas?” he called out.
Entering the lounge, he found the two of them on the couch. The menu screen for ‘Star Wars V: A New Hope’ was on a loop as the two men rested. Dean leaned against Castiel, comfortably tucked into the V of his legs and his head resting on his angel’s chest. Castiel himself was (unnecessarily) dozing, one hand resting in Dean’s hair as if he had simply dozed off whilst carding through the dark blonde hair, the other hand holding onto Dean’s free hand – which had a silver chain around the wrist. Sam took the DVD out before simply smiling and muttering, “Son of a bitch did it.”