Sometimes that witch you think you’re hunting, turns out to be a demigod. This kind of thing happens to the Winchesters now and then, but it would’ve been nice to know what they were actually up against before Sam, Dean, and Cas were in the same room with her. This time, they were working a case where five apparently unrelated people had turned up dead, with their hearts mysteriously crushed. When they finally tracked the “witch” down, it turned out to be a demigod named Alithea. Apparently she was the daughter of Cuba, goddess of infants, so Alithea had been using magic to punish people who abused small children. The victims were a nursery school aide, two parents, a nurse, and a babysitter. Honestly, once they put all the pieces together, Dean kinda thought Alithea deserved a medal, even though she WAS, technically, a murderer. They probably would have let her go, but she didn’t really give them the chance. In an effort to distract them so she could escape, Alithea turned Castiel into a baby. It was pretty effective distraction.
Once they get over the initial shock, Sam and Dean bundle up now-baby Cas in his discarded shirt and trench coat, and they all pile into the car. Castiel whines every time Dean tries to pass him off to Sam, so Sam ends up driving home. It’s a 7 hour drive from Albany, Wyoming, so Sam finds a Target as soon as possible. The last thing they need is to get pulled over with a naked baby and no car seat. Dean is forced to stay in the car with Cas (“We can’t bring a naked baby with WINGS into Target, Dean!”), while Sam buys a car seat, baby clothes, a pacifier, a baby blanket, and a couple of toys. When he returns to the Impala and Dean takes inventory of what he bought, Sam is sent right back in to get teething rings. (“He’s barely a year old, Sam, he’s definitely teething.”)
When Sam returns to the car this time, he finds the car seat installed, and Cas dressed in a tan onesie and a pair of navy sweatpants. He’s sitting in Dean’s lap, cuddling the stuffed elephant Sam just bought, while Dean carefully threads the small black wings through two slits he’s cut in the back of the onesie. They get Cas strapped into the car seat and get back on the road, but they have to stop a couple of times on the way. Once for Dean to get in the backseat, because Cas keeps crying if he can’t see Dean’s face, and then later, to switch out the now slobbery elephant for the teething ring that Dean has been soaking in ice water for the last hour.
Whenever Cas is calm, Dean has been on the phone with Bobby, and then Rowena, trying to find a way to reverse the spell, or curse, or whatever it is. Unfortunately, the consensus seems to be that they’ll just have to ride it out. The curse should wear off eventually. “Eventually?? What are we talkin’ here, Rowena . . . a day? A week? Puberty!?” Dean asks, sounding exasperated. “I don’t know, Dean. I would say at least a year if he were human, but with an angel, it could be much less, or much more. There’s not exactly a documented history of demigods cursing angels.”
So, back to the bunker they go. Once they’re about an hour from home, they stop at the Wal-Mart in Hastings, Nebraska, to pick out a crib. This time, they bring Cas, wings hidden in his blanket. On the way out of the baby department, they pass a shelf of stuffed toys, and Cas squeals when he sees a stuffed bumblebee. “Beeeeeee!” They buy the bee.
Finally back in the bunker, with Cas, crib, and a dozen assorted baby purchases in tow, the boys sit down to Make Plans. Dean always keeps the bunker impeccably clean, and all the spell components and chemicals are locked up, so they don’t need to worry about Cas accidentally getting his hands on anything nasty. They decide to put the crib in the room right next to Dean’s, so he can hear if Cas cries. They drag in the empty dresser from Cas’s old room, and fill it with the new baby clothes, blankets, and toys. Sam finds a rocking chair in one of the old storerooms, and brings that in, too. Through the whole process, Cas clings to Dean, sitting on his hip, or cuddled into the crook of his neck. Dean does everything one-handed, and doesn’t complain, not even once.
Eventually, they finish getting Cas’s new room set up. The boys are tired from the hunt, the drive, and their newfound parenting. Dean sits Cas down in the crib, and says, “Now listen, Cas. I know you don’t need to sleep, but me and Sam do. I want you to stay here, OK? Be a good little angel baby, and let us get some rest. Can you do that for me, please?” Cas stares at Dean, looking very serious, and tilts his head, just like he always did when he was big. After a moment, he heaves a big sigh, and lays down in the crib, hugging his stuffed bee. “Babbabee” he tells Dean, obviously referring to his stuffed friend. “OK buddy, you stay here with Babbabee, and if you need me, just holler. I’m right there, on the other side of this wall” he says, tapping the wall that separates his bed from Cas’s crib. With that, he turns out the light and closes the door.
Dean says goodnight to his brother, and they each head off to bed. Dean strips down to his boxers and t-shirt, brushes his teeth, and crawls into his memory foam, groaning with relief. Laying there, under his blankets, Dean goes over the day’s events in his head. OK, demigod on a noble (albeit violent) mission, turning Cas into an infant . . . it’s bizarre, yes, but it’s definitely not the weirdest situation TFW has found themselves in. It could certainly be worse. Dean loves babies, he loves Cas, and he’s perpetually touch-starved (though he’s not admitting any of that to anyone, out loud) . . . so being forced to cuddle a baby Cas all the time is probably the sweetest curse he could ask for. He’s actually pretty happy with the whole thing, he decides, and falls asleep with a smile on his face, for the first time in years.
Cas is bored. He doesn’t eat or drink or digest, so he’s not uncomfortable in the way a human baby might be, but he’s lonely and bored, and he misses Dean. Sam is nice, but he’s obviously not that comfortable handling a baby, and more importantly, he’s not Dean. Cas’s infant mind can’t quite articulate WHY he feels so drawn to Dean, but he knows they have a strong bond. He just feels better when he’s close to him. He knows Dean needs to sleep, so he tries to be patient, but in the end, Cas only makes it a few hours before he can’t sit still anymore.
Dean wakes up suddenly, jerking away from . . . from something that definitely wasn’t there a minute ago. His eyes take a second to adjust to the dark, before he sees the angel’s chubby little form sitting next to him on the bed. “Cas? What’s up, little guy?” Dean reaches out and pulls Cas closer to him, settling back down. “How’d you get in here, man?” Cas stares for a moment, then gives Dean a bashful smile and says, “fyy!”. Dean’s eyebrows shoot up and he blinks a few times, sleepy brain trying to process this information. “You can still fly? Oh boy, that’s gonna be fun. Are you OK?” Cas nods, reaching for Dean’s shirt, and snuggling closer. “Just lonely?” Cas nods again and Dean sighs, smiling softly, despite himself. Cas lays down, still holding onto Dean’s shirt, and Dean wraps one arm around him. “OK, you can stay, kiddo, but I gotta get some more sleep. You gonna be OK right here?” Cas hums and nods, “OK Dee”. Dean chuckles, already falling back asleep.
When he wakes up again, three hours later, it’s morning. Cas is sitting up against Dean’s belly, singing quietly to himself in baby talk, and playing with his toes. Dean sits up slowly, careful not to tip the little angel over, and pulls on his bathrobe. “Can you stay right here for a second? I gotta hit the head and brush my teeth.” Cas nods, solemnly pronouncing “teef”. Dean steps into the adjoining bathroom and uses the toilet, then opens the door again, so he can see Cas. Dean washes his hands and brushes his teeth, then looks up to see Cas making grabby hands at him. Grinning, he scoops the baby into his arms, bouncing him a little bit, to make Cas giggle.
Making their way into the kitchen, they see Sam limping towards the kitchen table. “Dude, what happened?” Dean asks, darting forward. Sam groans, lowering himself into a chair. “I just turned my ankle running, that’s all.” Dean sits Cas on the floor and kneels down, unlacing Sam’s sneaker and easing it off. Sam hisses as the shoe comes off and Dean peels the sock back, revealing a foot that’s already swelling up. “Nice job, Sammy. You get through a haunting, a demon, and a witch-slash-demigod hunt without a scratch, but you get taken down by some uneven pavement?” he chuckles, shaking his head. “Yeah, yeah. Can you grab me an Ace bandage before you finish mocking me?” Sam whines.
Just as Dean turns to put Sam’s sock down, he sees movement out of the corner of his eye. Cas reaches his pudgy little hand out, touching Sam’s ankle. There’s a brief glow, and Sam gasps. Cas looks up at the boys with a wide smile, and shouts “Gayce! Bye bye, boo boo!” and waves at Sam’s foot. Sam and Dean exchange rather shell-shocked looks, and then burst out laughing. Cas, not sure why the boys are laughing, finally joins in, giggling and flapping his little arms, which just makes Dean laugh harder. Dean stands up and swings the giggly baby into the air, hugging him close and burying his nose in Cas’s hair. “Aww Cas, even as a baby, you’re still taking care of us.” Sam stands up as well, coming to stand next to the pair, and poking his finger into Cas’s tiny fist. “Thank you for fixing my boo-boo, Cas.” Cas pats Sam’s hand and says, “OK Semmy”.
Over the next few days, they get a routine going. They continue to try to put Cas in his crib at night, but he always ends up teleporting into Dean’s bed, at some point. Other than that, though, he’s an exceptionally well-behaved kid. He doesn’t need bottles or burping, there’s no diapers to change. Castiel is patient and sweet, and he never wanders away, or gets into trouble. He’s kind of a perfect baby, actually, as long as he’s near Dean. Sam can play with him, chasing him and carrying him around on his shoulders, playing airplane and horsey, but that’s about it. Everything else is Dean, Dean, Deeeeaan. If Sam tries to get him dressed, or cuddle him, or groom his wings, Cas fusses, and thrashes around, and whines for “Deee”. So Dean is pretty much always carrying him, or rocking him, or playing on the floor with him. If Dean decides to watch TV, Cas curls up next to him on the couch, and watches with him. (Sam doesn’t think Dr. Sexy is appropriate for a one-year-old, so Dean has to switch it over to Nick Jr whenever Sam walks in the room.) When Dean cooks dinner, Cas sits on the table nearby, singing to his bee or his elephant, or sucking on his teething ring. When Dean cleans the house, Cas sits on the floor and “helps” with a little rag.
It’s a little exhausting, but honestly, Dean loves every minute of it. He delights in taking care of people, particularly people he loves, and though they rarely appreciate it, it’s something he always feels driven to do. The opportunity to take care of Cas – someone who has done so much for Dean, sacrificed everything for him, time and time again – is rare and valuable. This is his chance to repay Cas, at least a little; a chance to make up for all the times Dean has let him down. And to see Cas be so eager, so accepting, so happy to have Dean’s attention. Well, that’s something that Dean just doesn’t ever have in his life, and he eats it up. So, exhausting it may be, but Dean wouldn’t miss this for the world. Besides, he knows Cas will probably be back to normal any day now, so he’s going to enjoy it while he can.
When Rowena shows up on Day 6, Dean is a little defensive. “I know how to take care of a baby, Rowena. I practically raised Sam, you know.” he growls, holding Cas on his hip. He tries to glower at her, but the effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that he’s gesturing with a stuffed elephant. “Oh pish-tosh. I’m sure you’re fine, dear. I just wanted to see the wee bairn for myself.” Rowena leans in, cooing at Castiel, and stroking his dark hair. Cas, for his part, smiles shyly at the witch, holding tight to Dean’s flannel shirt. “I didn’t even know infant angels were a thing, til now” she murmurs, fascinated. “Who’s a tiny little angel of the Lord, then?” She pauses to make kissy faces at him, then straightens up and announces, “He’s much better behaved than Crowley was at this age. Aach, that child!” At this, Cas tilts his little head to one side and says, sternly, “”Cowey? Cowey bad.” Rowena raises her eyebrows, but smiles sadly at Cas, saying, “Ohhh, he has his moments, love, but he’s not all bad. He cares about you lot, even if he’ll never admit it.”
Looking rather contemplative, Rowena reaches out to stroke a finger down the feathers of Castiel’s wing. Cas screeches, flinching away from the redhead, flattening his wings against his back. He buries his face in Dean’s neck, screaming and sobbing. Rowena yanks her hand back, looking surprised and concerned. Dean takes two steps back, holding one hand against Cas’s little black wings, fingers splayed protectively. “Hey! You can’t just touch somebody’s wings like that, lady! That’s really personal!” Rowena looks pointedly at Dean’s hand, but then drops her eyes. “I’m sorry, Castiel. I didn’t mean to upset you, love.”
Dean rocks Cas back and forth, shushing him, and running his fingers through his feathers. “OK, OK. You’re alright, honey, it’s OK.” Cas sniffles, pulling his head back to look at Dean. “Unny?” Dean smiles down at the angel. “Honey. That’s you.” Cas stops crying and wipes his tiny nose with his sleeve, then takes a deep breath and asks, “I’m unny?” At Dean’s nod, Cas leans forward and kisses Dean on the cheek, wrapping his arms around his neck. “Awww,” Rowena croons, “aren’t you two the sweetest thing?”
While Rowena is there, she tries a few magical antidotes, but nothing works. They’re reluctant to try an actual aging spell, since the effects would be “unpredictable, at best”. According to Rowena, an aging spell on an angel is more likely to accelerate his body hundreds or thousands of years, rather than just a few decades. Luckily, Rowena has never heard of any curse having a permanent effect on an angel, so it’s bound to wear off, or be purged by Cas’s grace, eventually. “Unless he chooses to stay a baby, of course. Usually, angels can control their vessels on a molecular level, so technically, he could decide to stay a baby indefinitely. But I can’t imagine why he’d do such a thing.” Dean just scowls at Rowena. “That’s stupid, Cas would never do that. He’s way too independent for that kinda shit.” From behind Rowena, Sam speaks up. “Well, there’s no apocalyptic, world-ending big bad hanging over our heads at the moment. And Heaven’s relatively stable, with Gabriel in charge. If Cas was gonna be out of commission, this is a good time for it.” Cas had buried his head in Dean’s neck and started fussing while they spoke, whining and pressing hard against Dean’s flannel. Dean rocks the baby back and forth, petting his wings. “OK, both of you shut it with this crap, you’re upsetting him.” He scowls at his brother and the witch. “Whatever’s keeping him like this, he’s still a baby at the end of the day. The why doesn’t matter. He’s here, he’s safe, and I don’t mind taking care of him, so just drop it.” Sam and Rowena share A Look, but they quickly change the subject, and neither of them bring it up again. Rowena leaves the next day.
Two weeks later, Sam is at his wit’s end. They’re no closer to finding a “cure” for Cas’s babyness, and Dean refuses to go out on hunts, because he won’t leave Cas. Dean’s not watching porn. He hasn’t had a drop of liquor in weeks. They’ve amassed a ridiculous amount of baby stuff, for a child who doesn’t eat, sleep, or use diapers. (It turns out Dean’s a sucker for tiny clothes, so now Cas has a baby wardrobe: miniature jeans, several little flannel shirts with wing-holes, tiny work boots, teensy little socks, honey bee pajamas, and a very small trenchcoat.) Sam loves his brother, and he loves Cas, but this can NOT be their life! As a last resort, he prays to Gabriel, asking for help. Gabe calls Sam’s cell phone in reply.
“Dude, since when do cell phones get reception upstairs?“
“Archangel powers, Sammich. All things, great and small.”
“Seems like a weird use of celestial magic, but OK. Listen, can you weigh in on something for me, please? We have a . . . situation, here.”
“Sure thing, Samarroo, whatcha got?”
“Cas is a baby.”
“Say what, now?”
Sam goes on to explain their situation, including Dean’s behavior, the huge baby inventory, and Cas’s clinginess.
“So, what do you think, Gabe? Is he really stuck? If he is, how do we fix it??”
“Can’t really say from up here, Sam. I mean, I can still sense him, so he’s definitely still angelic, but without actually seeing him, I can’t tell you if there’s anything pinning Cassie to, ya know, toddlerhood. I’ll come down tonight, OK?”
“That would be great, Gabe, thank you. I wouldn’t ask – I know you’re busy – but I’m starting to worry. I mean, Dean can’t do this permanently, ya know? We’re hunters. For fuck’s sake, there’s a baby seat in the Impala!”
“I gotcha, Samalam. We’ll figure it out. See ya in a few hours.”
When Gabriel knocks on the bunker door that evening, Dean is not thrilled. “You called Gabe?! Sam, the guy is running Heaven. You don’t think he has more important shit to do, than visit us?” he hisses. Sam raises one eyebrow at him. “I just thought he should know.” he replies.
Castiel’s reaction is far more positive. Having not seen his older brother in almost a year, the baby’s eyes go big and round when he looks up to see Gabriel walking down the stairs. Cas immediately pulls himself to his feet and toddles precariously towards the archangel, arms outstretched, chanting, “Gayboo! Gayboo!”. Gabe’s face softens, his trademark smirk melting into a genuine smile, as he lifts the baby up, hugging him close. “Hey there, little one! Aren’t you adorable?”
Dean hovers nearby, waiting for Cas to start fidgeting, like he always does when he’s more than a few feet away from Dean for any length of time. But it doesn’t happen. In fact, Cas seems perfectly content to sit in his brother’s arms. Dean is relieved, but he can’t help feeling a little put out, too. “How are things in the clouds, Gabe?” he blurts out. Gabriel looks up to meet Dean’s eyes. “Not too bad, considering the inmates were running the asylum for so long. Honestly, I think they’re all so relieved to have someone legitimately in charge again, nobody’s willing to rock the boat. Probably won’t last, though.”
Sam hugs Gabriel hello, and surprisingly, he only briefly tries to grab Sam’s ass. Sam rolls his eyes, but the smile never leaves his face, and Dean just shakes his head at the weird flirting game the two always seem to play. They all sit down in the war room to catch up, each of them playing with Castiel, in turn. Gabe throws the kid 8 feet up in the air, making Cas giggle hysterically, and flap his little wings. This has Dean holding his breath, ready to dash in and save Castiel from a fall, but Gabe catches him easily every time, and soon enough, Dean relaxes a bit. After a couple of hours of talking, Gabriel asks if he can sit alone with Cas for a little while, and the boys settle him into the rocking chair in the nursery.
Gabe does a thorough check of Castiel’s grace, looking for any remaining traces of the de-aging curse, or a secondary hex, or anything else. Finally, he sits the toddler on his lap and addresses him gently. “OK, little bro. What’s goin’ on here? You’re good. Your grace is fine, the hex should have worn off by now, and there’s nothing hindering your powers. So why are you still auditioning for Blue’s Clues?”
Cas looks a little sheepish, and fiddles with his Babbabee, but eventually he mumbles, “Want Deee”. Looking into his little brothers mind, Gabe is able to glean a lot more detail from those two words. “You like getting to spend so much time with Dean, and he’s obviously very happy taking care of you. And if he’s got a baby at home, he’s not out hunting and risking his life every few days, is that it?” Cas buries his little face in his bee, and Gabe rubs his back, soothing his embarrassment. “Ohhh, buddy. You can’t do this forever, you know that, right? I mean, Dean’s not all that young anymore. He can’t be chasing after a little baby when he’s old and gray. This is definitely a limited time offer, kiddo.” He sighs, and hugs his brother close, whispering in his ear, “I won’t tell on ya. But think about what I said, OK?”
Gabriel wanders out to the kitchen, where Dean and Sam are drinking a beer, and he hands Cas off to Dean. “Sorry folks, but I got zilch. Whatever’s keeping him fun size, it’s nothing I can fix.” Sam rolls his beer bottle between has palms before setting it down, with a shrug. “Damn. Well, thank you for taking a look at him anyway, Gabe. We appreciate it.” Gabriel drapes himself across Sam’s lap, throwing both arms around his neck. “Oh, anytime, Samalam. You know I’m always at your service.” Gabe drawls, waggling his brows and batting his eyelashes. Sam snorts, but makes no move to push the archangel off his lap, which inspires yet another eyeroll from Dean.
The older hunter stands up and extends one hand for Gabriel to shake. “Thanks for checking him out, Gabe. You’re sure he’s OK? Aside from the obvious, I mean?” Gabe nods and shakes Dean’s hand. “He’s healthy as a horse. Or, a Shetland pony, I guess, in this case.” Dean huffs a laugh, and announces he’s going to put Cas to bed and try to get some sleep. He bends over, putting Castiel at eye level with Gabe. “Say goodnight, Cas, it’s bedtime.” Gabe leans in, kissing Castiel’s forehead, as Cas whispers, “Night Gayboo”. Sam reaches around Gabriel to ruffle Cas’s hair. “Sleep tight, you two.”
Fifteen minutes later, Dean is snug in his bed, curled around Castiel’s warm little body, petting his tiny wings. Dean swims through his thoughts, no quite able to shut down and sleep yet, while Cas chews on his own teensy fist, cooing softly. Dean wonders what will happen if Cas stays this young. All this time, he’s been reveling in his new parenting role, cherishing it all the more, because he knew it could be yanked out from under him at any time. He’s just assumed that the curse would wear off, or someone would cure Cas, but if even Gabriel can’t fix it . . . Maybe it’s time to start thinking about the future. Could he actually give up hunting? Surely he can’t bring Cas on hunts; angel or not, he’s still a baby. And he sure as Hell isn’t going to leave him behind, so that really only leaves one option. Dean has never seriously considered quitting the life, not really. Even that one year with Lisa, he’d known deep down that it was only temporary. But now . . .
“I’ve never met anyone that could make me even think about giving up hunting. But if anybody could, Cas, it’d be you. You’d be worth it.” he mutters, half to himself and half to the little angel. Cas looks up at Dean and stares, looking a bit awed, despite the saliva-soaked hand still in his mouth. Dean smiles down at Cas, pointing his finger at him, and says sternly, “I’m NOT getting a minivan, though. That is where I draw the line!” He gently boops Cas’s nose, making the child’s big blue eyes cross for a moment. “OK, bedtime for real, this time.” Cas snuggles closer to him and sighs, “bettime, Dee”.
The next morning, Dean wakes up slowly, stretching his arms and legs carefully, so as not to jostle the baby. Except, there’s not baby to jostle. Dean suddenly realizes he can’t feel Cas’s wings pressed against his shirt, doesn’t feel any other weight in the bed, and his eyes snap open, scanning the bed for the angel. Once he confirms that he’s alone in the bed, he sits up abruptly, starting to panic. Cas never takes off in the middle of the night. Did Sam come get him? “Don’t freak out” he tells himself, taking a shaky breath. Dean turns, throwing his legs off the bed, and looks up to see . . . Cas . . . full size, grown-up Cas, sitting at his desk. Gone are the footsie pajamas with the cartoon monster on the front, replaced with a pair of black sweatpants and an old KISS t-shirt, which clearly came from Dean’s dresser drawers. Cas is just sitting there, quietly, hands folded, with Babbabee laying in his lap.
Dean’s mouth opens and closes a few times before he finally finds his voice. “Cas? Wha . . . What happened?” Cas meets his eyes and sighs resignedly. “It’s complicated. Suffice it to say, I heard what you said last night, about giving up hunting, and I couldn’t let you do that. You’re an excellent hunter, Dean, and your work is important. I couldn’t put you in a position where you to had sacrifice your life’s work, just to take care of me.”
Dean’s brows knit together, his hands tightening in the sheets. “I didn’t have to, Cas. I’m sure Gab would have taken you in, if I’d asked. I wanted to take care of you. I liked it.”
Cas just stares at him, hands absentmindedly playing with the stuffed bee, with no expression on his face that Dean could name. Finally, he simply asked, “Why?” At that, Dean shifted on the bed, suddenly finding his comforter quite fascinating. His instincts told him to make a stupid joke, say something dismissive, play dumb, but Dean shoved those impulses aside and took a deep breath. “I umm, I liked feeling useful. Needed. Like I was important to you. Baby-you always wanted to be with me, and I was the only one who could make you stop fussing or crying. And, umm, ya know. You liked to cuddle. I don’t know, it was just . . . nice.”
“You realize,” Cas begins, “none of that has changed, Dean.” Dean looks up again, confusion written on his face. “You are exceedingly important to me, and I still always want to be near you. And you have always been the only one who could make me feel better.” He pauses, then continues, so low it’s hard to hear him. “And I still like to cuddle.”
The confusion on Dean’s face is slowly turning to astonishment, and hope. Cas thinks it’s one of the most beautiful things he’s ever witnessed. “Cas, do you . . . uhhh . . . do you . . .?” he stutters, trailing off. “Love you? Yes, Dean. Very much.” Cas replies. Dean blushes and gulps, but doesn’t look away. Instead, he clears his throat and scoots back in his bed, pulling the covers back, in invitation. “Soooo, about that cuddling thing . . . “ Cas beams at him, popping up out of the chair and climbing into the bed, wriggling close to Dean, in little spoon position.
Dean wraps one arm around Castiel, pressing his face against his shoulder. His contented humming cuts off abruptly. “Wait,” he says, gruffly. “So you could have grown up the whole time, and you chose to stay a little kid? Why??” Cas just shrugs, “I liked it”. There’s a long, drawn-out moment, before Dean squeezes him. “Yeah, me too.”