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Tis the Season for Sweaters (Fa la la)

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“We should go Black Friday shopping.” Cas declared, appearing into the motel room unannounced. It was five o’clock in the morning, and Cas had even beaten the sun up. He’d spent the night wandering down random roads while Dean and Sam slept, since Dean had told him he couldn’t spend the night in the motel room, watching him sleep.
“Why would we go Christmas shopping? All our friends are dead.” Dean mumbled as he pulled himself out of sleep. He rubbed the palm of his hands into his eyes, trying to wake up. Glancing over at the clock, he groaned. Next time he was just going to let the Son of a bitch stay in the motel room instead of waking him up so early in the day.
“That’s incorrect. Only Ellen, Bobby-“
“He was just exaggerating Cas,” Sam interrupted, padding out of the bathroom.
“What the hell? Why are you already up?” Dean asked, momentarily covering his eyes as Sam turned on the overhead light.
“I always get up early. Who do you think gets you coffee in the morning? Crowley?” Sam responded. “Anyway, I think you two should go.”
“No way Sam, I’m not going. It’s the one day a year that we get off.” Dean complained. He pulled the covers off himself and shivered at the cold air around him. They really should have gotten a better-heated motel room.
“Your day off?” Castiel asked, tilting his head and squinting his eyes.
“Black Friday, Cas, is the one day a year where American shoppers are even more dangerous than monsters. The monsters all know that, so they stay clear of attacking anyone.” Dean clarified. He pulled a fresh pair of clothes from his bag and went to the bathroom, glancing once at Cas. Sam rolled his eyes at his brother’s back as the shower turned on, switching his attention instead to Castiel.
“Why do you want to go shopping? It’s not like you’re going to be buying gifts for your garrison.” Sam sat down on the corner of his bed, pulling his socks on, as he waited for Cas to answer.
“I want to understand Americans more. It seems like Black Friday is a large part of your culture.” Cas answered. He kept glancing from Sam to the closed bathroom door.
“You should go.” Sam nodded, understanding that Cas probably wanted to observe humanity as much as he wanted to spend him with Dean. It was obvious how he looked toward the bathroom door with worry that he wanted Dean to accept his offer. “We could use some new clothes, and it would be nice if we spend a little bit less on a person’s card for once.”
Dean walked out of the bathroom changed and slightly damp. Cas took a step back, straightening his back under Dean’s gaze. The hunter said nothing as he stashed the clothes he’d slept in back into his bag. He stood up slowly and grabbed the Impala’s keys from the table in the room. He walked toward the door. He opened it before turning to Castiel and Sam. “Are you two coming?”
“Of course,” Castiel replied. He voice came out much calmer than he appeared to be. The angel basically ran over to Dean. On the other hand, Sam stayed where he was on the edge of the bed.
“No thanks. I think I’ll stay here and catch up on some research.” Sam said, grinning at Dean and Cas in the doorway.
“Your loss dude,” Dean shrugged as he gestured for Castiel to go through the door first and shut it behind him.
***
The mall was crowded. No, more than crowded. Dean and Cas had to wait in a line just to get through the front door. Once they were inside, Castiel froze at the overwhelming number of people. He looked around, unable to move his feet. There were so many people, pushing and shoving him in different directions. All of them seemed uncaring about his well-being. In response to this over stimulus Cas stood perfectly still. Unfortunately, Dean didn’t notice that the angel had stopped walking and was no longer right behind his shoulder.
“Hey Cas which store should we go in first? I was thinking Macy’s, since that seems like the store to go to, you know? Because of Miracle on 34th street and everything,” Dean was grinning, excited to be around so much joy. In a way it felt like hunting, but instead of ganking monsters he’d be ganking normal prices. His eyes danced as he looked around at the Christmas lights and decorations that the mall had put up. Finally turning around to see Cas, he asked, “What do you think, Cas? … Cas?”
The angel had completely disappeared from his sight. Dean whirled around trying to locate him. “Cas!” There was no response, or at least there was no response that Dean could hear. “Shit.”
He turned around and backtracked to the front entrance where Cas was standing just inside the doorway. Shoppers were giving him dirty looks as they passed around him to get through the doors. Dean breathed a sigh of relief at the sight and jogged over to Castiel. “What the hell happened man? You were right behind me and then you were gone. You can’t scare me like that!
“I’m sorry I disappointed you Dean.” Cas answered evenly, still not moving from his spot. Shoppers still walked by them, throwing them both dirty looks and curious ones. What could these two men be discussing?
“No you didn’t disappoint- Cas, are you okay? You look sort of pale.” Dean asked concernedly, placing the back of his hand on Cas’s forehead. Shivers tingled down his spine when he touched Cas, but he ignored it. Now was not the time to start acting like a schoolgirl on her first date. Cas’s forehead felt normal, but Dean was not entirely sure what a normal body temperature for an angel was. “Here let’s get out of this crowd of people. Maybe that’s your problem.”
Dean walked toward the side of the entry, toward the potted plants. That area was far less busy that where Cas was standing, but when Dean looked back, Cas hadn’t moved an inch. He was watching Dean with blue eyes, longing to go with him but unable to. Dean backtracked to Cas. “What’s the matter, man?”
“There are just a lot of people Dean.” Castiel replied. His eyes begged Dean to understand.
“Didn’t you know that there would be?” Dean asked, looking around the building. The income of shoppers hadn’t slowed down in the time that they’d been there.
“Yes, but I didn’t realize I would be affected by it.” Cas replied looking down at his feet. Dean sighed, trying to figure out what to do. Finally, he reached out and took Castiel’s elbow and guided him to the side of the hallway. Castiel kept his eyes trained on Dean. “I’m sorry.”
“Jeez Louise, you can stop apologizing Cas. It’s really fine. Are you feeling better now? Do you think we can get to a store without you freezing up again?” Dean asked, concerned about his friend. He realized that his level of concern was considerably higher for Cas than for any other being, but he pushed that thought aside. He and Castiel just got along much better than most people do. It wasn’t a big deal.
“I believe so.” Castiel hesitated for a moment, looking unsure. “Thank you Dean.”
“No problem.” Dean let go of the angel’s elbow and led him through the mass of people, staying closer to the wall where it was less crowded. They followed the wave of people before finally picking a store to their right. They turned into it, breathing out relief in the not-so-crowded area. It was just a run of the mill department store. To the left of the store’s entrance was the woman’s department. Sequined dresses shimmered on the rank, while women shifted through them. Dean rolled his eyes and pulled Castiel by his elbow to find the men’s section.
Thankfully it wasn’t very far away. Dean went straight to the plaid shirts, looking through them to find ones that would fit Gigantor. Castiel, however, had drifted to another part of the ranks.
“Hey Cas, do you think Sam would like some orange plaid to add some variety to his current wardrobe?” Dean asked sarcastically as he pulled the shirt off its rank and into his arms. There was no response from Cas, however. Dean turned his head quickly trying to locate the angel. “Cas? Dammit Cas, not again.”
“I’m right here Dean.” Castiel replied evenly, suddenly standing next to Dean.
“Oh thank go- what are you holding?” Dean asked.
“I um- “Castiel cleared his throat. “Sweaters.”
They were ugly Christmas sweaters to be exact. Castiel had about five sweaters of various Christmas-y designs stacked in his arms. They were all wool and looked very warm. Dean narrowed his eyes as he looked from the stack of sweaters to Cas.
“I thought angels didn’t feel temperatures,” Dean blurted out before he could think over what he was saying.
“That is true we do not.” Castiel replied, shifting from foot to foot.
“Then why did you get those ugly Christmas sweaters?” Once again, Dean did not think through his question before asking it. Immediately Castiel blushed.
“I liked them.” He muttered, looking down at his dirt covered shoes. He disappeared from Dean almost before the hunter could apologize.
“Cas! No, Cas. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” Dean called out. Some of the other shoppers looked over at him confused. They all looked away, watching the crazy man speak to some non-existent person out of the corner of their eyes.
Dean ran through the department, trying to find the section with all the sweaters. Dean knew that Castiel would be the kind of person (or angel really) that would put the clothes back onto the rack where he found them, instead of making the employees put them back. The hunter nearly knocked over a display of festive hats when he finally stumbled upon Castiel. He stopped for a moment, watching Castiel look at the sweaters in his arms mournfully.
It wasn’t like Castiel ever got cold, so he didn’t need the sweaters for that purpose. It was vanity he supposed. There was something about the sweaters. The angel imagined that they would feel like a hug from Dean: warm, soft, and like home. Castiel sighed as he put each sweater back onto its hanger. Dean watched carefully, taking note of each and every sweater Castiel put back.
As the angel was hanging up the last one, Dean emerged from his hiding place. Castiel glanced at him quickly then focused back on his task. “Hey Cas. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s fine Dean.” Castiel interrupted. “I was being vain. It was a sin. If anything, I should be thanking you for allowing me to see my faults.”
“Castiel…” Dean trailed off.
“Really Dean, it’s fine.” Castiel smiled kindly at him. Changing the subject, Castiel asked, “Is there anything else you need to get?”
“Well I was going to get some coffee and maybe some tea for Sam, but I want to look around here a little more. I want to see if I can find a pair of jeans for Sam. He keeps ripping them whenever we have to dig a grave. He’s gone through about three or four pairs already.” Dean paused for a moment. “Would you mind getting the coffee? Splitting up will allow us to get out of here faster and get some grub. I’m starving.”
“Okay Dean. I’ll be back shortly.” Castiel nodded, disappearing from sight.
“Now where are all those sweaters…?” Dean muttered to himself. He quickly found the ones that Castiel had put onto the rack, stopping to glare at one person who was eying the sweater with a snowstorm scene on it. Dean grinned to himself after collecting all of the sweaters. Job well done Winchester, Dean thought. He was walking by the rack, when one more sweater caught his eye. Sam is going to love this. Dean took it off the rack, and hurried to the nearest cash register.
“Hey Castel can you find Mango Vanilla Chai tea? That’s Sam’s favorite kind. Not that he would ever admit to that, since it seems like a fruity kind of tea.” Dean prayed to Castiel as he waited in line. He had added that to the list in an attempt to keep Castiel from coming back before Dean has paid for everything.
“Next!” The cashier called out, interrupting Dean’s thoughts.
“Yeah. Me. Thank you.” Dean said a bit frazzled. He dumped the pile of clothes onto the counter, making sure that Cas’s sweaters were on top, so that she would ring those up. “Could you do these ones quickly please? I’m buying them for someone and I don’t want him to see them.”
“No problem sir. I get that all the time. Just be on the lookout for him just in case.” The elderly cashier responded with a smile. She was already scanning the sweaters and putting them into an opaque bag.
“Will do… Shirley,” Dean promised, glancing at the cashier’s nametag. He turned to look behind him. Castiel was still shopping for coffee or tea.
“He’s the ugly sweater type then?” Shirley asked, scanning the last one.
“Apparently, he picked out a whole bunch of them earlier, and then I accidently offended him. I sent off to buy some coffee and took all the sweaters back off the rack.” Dean answered. Almost all the items were scanned by now. Damn was she a good cashier.
“How long have you two been together?”
“What? We’re not- I mean- I’m not.” Dean stuttered.
“Oh… I see. Well I wish you two the best of luck. Cash or credit card?”
“Credit.” Dean responded. He paid for the gifts just as Castiel appeared with the tea.
“Here you go Dean. I paid for it too. Sam leant me his wallet when I went to check his favorite kind of tea. You were right it is Mango Vanilla Chai.”
Are you ready to go?” Dean grinned. Cas’s lips raised in a half smile.
“If you’re ready, Dean.”
***
“Sam you’ve got to wear it!” Dean jested as Sam held up the sweater that his brother had gotten for him. The knitted sweater was an atrocious green color with a moose on the front. Dean was getting a kick out of it, and Sam was trying to hide his amusement (or should I say amoosement) at the present.
“Fine, fine. I’ll put it on.” Sam rolled his eyes and slipped the sweater over his head good – naturaly. A confused look crossed his face until he saw that Sam’s hands were hidden inside the sleeves. “How the hell did you manage to find a sweater that was too big for me?”
“Man, I thought it was your size. You must be shrinking.” Dean teased. Sam laughed along.
“So who are those other presents for?” He asked, looking at the five other packages sitting under the crappy ten-dollar tabletop tree Dean had gotten from a place selling them on the corner of the road.
“Castiel, if he bothers to get his feather-y ass down here.” Dean shouted the second half of that sentence, hoping that Cas would hear him. It so happened that Castiel did, and appeared next to Dean in nearly an instant.
“Is something the matter?” He asked, looking around the room with his eyes squinted.
“You gotta open your presents Cas.” Dean answered, gesturing toward the five wrapped gifts.
Castiel lowered his eyebrows and glanced at Dean suspiciously. He walked over to see the presents. They were wrapped in red and green paper, nothing fancy. They looked soft, since the edges of the paper were crinkled by the lack of straight corners.
“Those are for me?” Castiel asked surprised, looking at the gifts.
“Who else would they be for?” Dean teased. He patted the motel bed next to him, “Come on. Take all those and place them here. It’s more fun to unwrap gifts while sitting.”
“Umm, okay Dean.” Castiel piled the five gifts into his arms and barely made it to the bed, before they all fell over. Sam laughed at the angel’s clumsiness and took another sip of his beer.
“Unwrap them Cas!” Dean urged. He was excited, nearly bouncing up and down on the bed like a six year old.
“Okay Dean.” Castiel responded, a half smile on his face. He took the closest package to him and unwrapped it carefully, setting the paper aside in a folded pile.
“This isn’t…?”
“Yeah, it is.” Dean’s smile stretched from one ear to the other. His smile only grew wider as Castiel tore through the paper to the next on and the next one, until all five presents had been unwrapped. The sweaters all sat in Castiel’s lap. There was one of a blizzard, one with geometric reindeer, another with a sugar cookie recipe, one with a Christmas tree, and the last (Dean’s personal favorite) that said, “I’m the tree topper” on the front and had a pair of angel wings on the back. Dean thought it was rather appropriate for Castiel.
“Dean… I don’t- why did you get these for me?” Castiel was at a loss for words. He just kept touching each sweater, feeling how soft each one was.
“You liked them didn’t you?” Dean asked, still smiling. “I thought you’d want to keep them. Maybe change out of that suit every once in a while.”
“I don’t know what to say…” Castiel said softly. “Thank you very much Dean.”
Cas’s blue eyes bore into Dean’s trying to put words onto his gratitude. It hit Dean at that moment that Castiel may never have received a present before. Perhaps the angels didn’t celebrate Christmas in the way that Americas do, probably with good reason. Cas had always been helpful to the Winchesters that Dean thought that if anyone deserved a gift it would be Castiel.
“I’m just going to step out for a moment and grab some burgers for dinner. Does that sound good Dean?” Sam asked with a smirk. He didn’t bother waiting for a reply, taking the Impala keys and leaving.
“I uh-“Dean cleared his throat. “You’re welcome Cas. Why don’t you put one of these one. Maybe this one?” Dean gestured to the one with angel wings on the back.
Castiel nodded and took the sweater. He glanced nervously at the other ones as he stood up, though, as if they were going to disappear on him if he left for too long.
“Don’t worry Cas. I’ll be right here.” Dean reassured the angel. Castiel nodded his head, and entered the bathroom, closing the door behind him. It took only a minute, but when Castiel emerged from the bathroom his trench, suit jacket, button up shirt, and tie were all off and folded into a neat pile, which Castiel was holding.
“What do you think?” He asked extending his hands to show off the sweater.
“It looks great Cas.” Dean gushed, looking at Cas from head to toe. Without his trench coat on, Cas looked almost naked to Dean. Even through the thick material of the sweater, Dean could see how well built Cas was. It wasn’t something that he had expected, always thinking of him as wiry for one reason or another. Dean found himself on his feet, standing next to Cas.
“Thank you.” Cas glowed, smiling fully under Dean’s gaze now.
“There’s a little something there- got it.” Dean said as he pretended to pick a piece of lint off of the sweater. Dean flicked the nonexistent piece of lint away from the two of them, and awkwardly lowered his hand to Castiel’s cheek. It was strange, but Dean had the sudden urge to kiss Cas. Maybe it was a little bit too much eggnog combined with some Christmas spirit. But if Dean really thought about it, he knew that wasn’t true. He’d wanted to kiss Cas for a while now, but he’d never been able to work up the nerve. Now, however, his hand was on the angel’s cheek. Cas leaned into it unconsciously. He never took his eyes off Dean, silently urging him forward, and unnoticing leaned forward himself.
Dean looked into Cas’s eyes (so damn blue) and finally gave into desire. Their lips met halfway, neither of them pushing the other, just existing together. Dean wrapped his arms around Cas, feeling the softness of the Christmas sweater. They kissed slowly, not rushed like the Christmas season always felt. Dean relaxed in Cas’s embrace. Maybe Christmas wasn’t always his favorite holiday, but right now? Nothing could top it.
The End.