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Christmas Comes at You Fast

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                Dean’s not sure how things escalated to this point. It seemed like only a day ago he was meeting this quirky man with a love of trench coats and now they were dating. Not just any dating but the kind of dating that had Dean thinking about getting down on one knee with a ring and asking that question that changes lives forever. To complicate matters further, there were children involved. Dean went from being single to dating a single dad and thinking about marriage. Dean’s not sure how things escalated to this point, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

                Dean felt like everyone at the mall was staring at him, like they knew he forgot about Christmas and was rushing to get last minute presents. Well, he had. It had been a random text message from his sister-in-law that had him scrambling to the closet mall cursing himself. This… “thing” had consumed him to the point he hadn’t realized that Christmas Eve was less than a week away and he had not purchased a single thing for anyone in his life.

                Dean had spent hours compiling a list for his loved ones. Most of the list was easy. He’d been buying gifts for the people he considered family for years. For example, for Charlie, you could never go wrong with an obscure Dungeons and Dragonesque game or some piece of tech that she really wants but says she doesn’t want to spend the money on. Sam likes rare books and these weird stuffed llamas that are sold at this one store hidden in a strip mall in town. Eileen loves things from Ireland. Nothing kitschy obviously but things that had cultural and historical value and meaning (though Dean did once give her a tiny leprechaun doll as a gag gift which resulted in a bruised arm from her punching him).  With Bobby, you could never go wrong with alcohol.

                What was causing Dean to freak out was the three new names on his list.

                Dean had first met Castiel around the end of April. Dean had been rushing on his lunch break to get to the new book store in town that boasted having “rare and unique finds” in his search for a gift for Sam (the llama store didn’t have any new llamas for Dean to buy). In his haste to get to the store, he slammed right into another person causing that person’s coffee to spill over both of them. Lucky, for the man he crashed into, his trench coat got the worse of spill. Dean hadn’t been so lucky.

                All Dean could do was apologize, curse, and offer to pay for the man’s dry cleaning and a new coffee. The man had declined his offer, stating he was also in a rush and ran off. Dean hadn’t even gotten a name. To top the day off, when Dean got to the book store, it was closed due to an emergency.

                A few days later, Dean found himself at the book store again, calling ahead this time to make sure they were open. To his surprise, the very man he had run into was owner of the store. Castiel was apologetic for his brusque behavior during their first meeting but Dean assured him that there was nothing to be sorry for. Then Castiel smiled at Dean and the rest, as they say, was history. By the time Dean left the store, he had a book to give to Sam for his birthday, Castiel’s phone number, and a date for that following Friday.

                They had been dating around a month when Dean met Castiel’s kids for the first time. Claire was around 16 when Castiel adopted her. She was the daughter of his brother Jimmy and Jimmy’s wife Amelia. Jimmy had died when Claire was around 10 years old. To this day, Castiel isn’t sure what happened to Amelia. One day she was grieving her husband and trying to care for her daughter and the next she had abandoned her daughter, leaving only a note saying she was going to find Jimmy and bring him home. Castiel immediately had stepped in to care for the child but Amelia’s mother had also tried to get custody. They were all put through a long legal battle, with the judge ordering Claire to stay in a group home until guardianship could be resolved. Castiel told Dean he wasn’t sure if he would have won custody or not if Amelia’s mother hadn’t suddenly died of cancer during the proceedings. Dean told him that it didn’t matter anymore. Claire was his child now and that was all that mattered.

                A few years later, Castiel’s friend and coworker became pregnant. The father was someone high up the corporate ladder in their company and refused to acknowledge the pregnancy or accept paternity. Kelly became a fixture in Castiel’s home as him and Claire helped her out as much as they could. Kelly didn’t have any living family left so they were all she had. Unbeknownst to Castiel, Kelly had altered her will naming Castiel as Jack’s father and his guardian should something happen to her.

                And something did happen to her. There was a complication during the pregnancy and Kelly died in childbirth and suddenly Castiel found himself the father of a young girl and a newborn son. Castiel had a moment where he felt like he couldn’t do this. That it was too much; like the world was pressing down on his shoulders is how he described it to Dean, but he never faltered.

                Dean thinks Cas is a great father and he fell in love with Cas and his kids around the same time.

                But what to get these three new and important people in his life? Claire is a snarky, moody teenager. Jack is a precocious and naive little kid. And Cas? Cas was everything Dean ever wanted. None of this still answered the question: what was he going to get them for Christmas?

 


 

                The Annual Winchester Christmas Get Together was in full swing when Dean, Castiel, Claire, and Jack had arrived. This year, Sam and Eileen were hosting it. Eileen, Linda, Ellen, and Jo had made most of the food for the event. Sam had made the eggnog too strong again and Bobby was sitting on the couch grumbling that it needed a few shots of whiskey. Charlie had wrangled Kevin, Dorothy, Jody, Alex, and Rufus of all people, into some weird Santa and his elves vs Krampus D & D game.

                Castiel and the kids were welcomed with open arms. Sam, Eileen, and Charlie had met Castiel and the kids a few times already but this was the first time the rest of the family was meeting them. Claire jumped right into Charlie’s game while Jack clung to Castiel’s leg and Dean’s hand for about a minute before Eileen broke out Sam’s llama collection and then the kid was off to play in the llama pile.

                The hours passed, food was consumed (Ellen cut Dean off from the pie but Cas snuck him a few more pieces), Bobby and Rufus were singing Christmas carols because all the egg nog they had drunk, and the gifts were ready to be exchanged (except for the Santa gifts, which was a concept that Dean didn’t understand as he never believed in Santa but that Castiel went a little overboard with).

                Sam loved his new llama and the book about the llamas in ancient civilizations (Dean’s still not sure where Cas found that). The replica Celtic knife for Eileen was received with multiple thank yous and a kiss on the cheek. Charlie loved the custom Star Wars 20-sided dice, the Doctor Who table top games, and the Labyrinth table top game. The bottle of 12-year old Yamazaki whiskey was well received by Bobby with Rufus exclaiming he had to taste it first to make sure it was god.

                To Dean and Castiel’s surprise there were several gifts for his kids. Claire was doing that aloof, moody teenager thing but Dean could see the pleased smile she was trying to hide. Jack was just a happy child, content to receive anything. Finally, it was time for Claire and Jack to open the presents from Dean. Dean was nervous not only for what they would think but also about what would Cas think. Claire carefully opened her gift while Dean chewed on his thumb nail. The gasp of joy as Claire saw the leather jacket caused the twist in Dean’s gut to loosen a little. The hug he got immediately afterwards allowed him to breathe again. Jack’s squeal of delight over the large llama stuffed animal (seriously what was with the llama obsessed people in his life?) allowed Dean to smile. And when Cas opened the box and saw the ring that was once Dean’s mom on a chain and quietly put it on, his only response a kiss… Well Dean knew all was right in the world.

                Dean still wasn’t sure how his life had come to this point, but as Cas and the kids enveloped him in a group hug, he knew this was where he wanted to be and he couldn’t be happier.