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A Home in You

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               Dean Winchester left work for the first time in weeks with a smile on his face. It was Friday, and he had requested the whole weekend off so he could spend time with his daughter, Mary. Being a co-owner of a multi-billionaire company meant he was often swamped with work, dropping his daughter off at the babysitter in the morning and coming home late. He rarely had time to play games with her or spend quality time with her. But this weekend was her birthday, and his co-boss, Benny, had told him to leave early and have the whole weekend off. Dean was grateful that they were such great friends.

                The ride to the babysitter's house was short, and Dean couldn't stop smiling. He was excited to surprise his baby girl with the time off, and knew she would be thrilled. He was hoping that tomorrow he could take her shopping to get her whatever she wanted for her birthday. He would spare no expenses for her.

                When Dean arrived at the small house, he saw Mary running around outside with the dog the babysitter owned. At the rumble of Dean's car, her head whipped around to look, her blonde ponytails bouncing with the movement. Dean watched the complete joy take over her four year old face as she raced towards Dean's car, dog forgotten. Dean barely had a chance to open the door and swing his legs out before Mary was scrambling onto his lap and throwing her arms around his neck, squealing.



                Dean laughed, hugging her tightly and rubbing her back. "Hi, baby girl," he greeted, kissing the top of her head. "Are you having fun?" Mary nodded and pulled back a little to look at him. Dean was hit again with how alike they looked, both having the same shade of green eyes, the same freckles dusting their cheeks, and the same smile. Mary's hair was a couple shades lighter than Dean's, but he knew that was because she was in the sun more often than he was.

                "Yes, daddy. Why are you here so early?" She asked, practically bouncing in his lap. "Is it because my birthday is tomorrow?"

                Dean smiled and kissed her cheek. "Maybe," he teased. "Thought I'd surprise my little girl with a whole weekend off." Dean didn't think her eyes could get any bigger, but at the mention of the time off, her eyes became saucers.

                "A whole weekend just to celebrate my birthday?" She squealed, hugging her father all over again. Dean laughed as he stood, holding her securely.

                "I have big plans for us, okay? But we have to say goodbye to your babysitter. Do you think you can tell Maria goodbye?" He asked the little girl. Mary nodded her head, hair bouncing cutely. Dean smiled and led her inside, where Maria was making cookies. "Hello, Maria." The teen turned from where she was making cookies and smiled, already knowing the plan. "Mary and I are going to head out. I'll make sure and still give you full pay on Monday."

                Maria's cheeks colored. "You don't have to do that, Mr. Winchester. I'm not watching her the next two days. It wouldn't be fair if you paid me to not work." Dean waved it away.

                "Please, I'm a billionaire. It's not like paying you for a full week is going to hurt my bank account. Besides, you always do such a good job of taking care of Mary. You deserve it, kid." He hugged Maria, said his farewell, and headed back to the car. He buckled his daughter into her car seat, smiling at her. "Are you ready to go and have some fun?" The little girl nodded quickly, and Dean laughed. "Alright, pumpkin, let's go."

                The drive to their large house was filled with happy singing to the rock music pouring out of Dean's speakers. Dean had been excited to know that Mary shared his love for the music, and the two always jammed out together, neither in the right pitch. Dean liked it best when they were both cooking in the kitchen, wearing fuzzy socks and had time to dance around while the food was cooking. They didn't seem to have many nights like that since Dean's work started hitting it off.

                Dean carried Mary inside, instructing her to get her pajamas on even though it wasn't close to night. She shot off without argument, knowing Dean had something special planned. Meanwhile Dean set up a snack bar in the kitchen with all of Mary's favorite foods. There were M&M's, popcorn, fruit snacks, cookies, and raisins. Pizza was on its way, and Netflix was already pulled up on the TV, waiting for them.

                When both father and daughter were in their pajamas, they brought food to the living room. Dean sprawled out on the couch, and Mary weaseled her way into his lap, bowl full of everything. Dean gave her the remote and let her pick whatever movie she wanted to see. He huffed a laugh when she picked a My Little Pony movie, munching on some M&M's.



                In the morning, Dean made pancakes, eggs, and bacon. The two of them had fallen asleep on the couch the previous night after watching Cat in the Hat, and in the middle of the night, Dean carried his daughter to bed and tucked her it. It was blissful to not have to wake up early to the shrill beeping of an alarm.

                Dean sprinkled chocolate chips into the pancakes just as Mary walked down the stairs and into the kitchen, her My Little Pony pajamas in disarray and her hair a messy bed head. Dean laughed as he saw her, then scooped her up, putting her on his hip.

                "Hi, pumpkin, how did you sleep?" The little girl gave him a kiss on the cheek as she laid her head down on his shoulder. Dean laughed softly, flipping the pancakes with her in his arms. As the food cooked, Mary got more lively, until Dean had to set her down because she was squirming too much. She decided to help her father by setting the table and pouring them both milk. Dean thanked her and snuck her a piece of bacon, which she chowed excitedly.

                Breakfast was spent laughing and talking about their plans. Dean promised his daughter he would take her to the park before they went to the toy store to buy her whatever she wanted. Money would never be a concern of theirs, not with Dean's job. Dean tried not to spoil his little girl too much and make her bratty, but he couldn't help it most of the time. He just wanted to give her the best he could since her mom had left after her birth.

                Dean set the dishes in the sink with full intentions to clean them later, then chased his daughter upstairs, gently throwing her on the bed and tickling her until she was screaming. The day already felt so normal and happy, and Dean ached for more days like this. He loved spending time with his daughter, and he knew she did, too.

                Dean let up on tickling her after she was tearing up, wrapping her in his arms instead. She wrapped her toothpick of arms around his neck, kissing his cheek."I love you, daddy," she breathed, worming her way into his lap.

                "I love you, too, pumpkin. Always. So how about we shower, then go to the park?" Dean asked, bouncing her gently on his knee. The little girl nodded, giggling as she climbed off the bed and raced to the bathroom. Dean smiled and followed her in, closing the door after him. Inside, Dean turned on the radio he owned that played his old cassette tapes, choosing classic ACDC as he turned on the water. They both climbed into the shower, singing along and doing funny dances to try and make each other laugh.

                Dean used a shampoo bottle as a microphone, doing a solo before allowing Mary to do her own solo. Most of the time, though, they sang together, soaping up their hair. They rinsed and tried to race each other out  of the shower and to the towels first. Mary grabbed the blue one, and Dean snagged the green one, wrapping it around his waist.

                "Daddy, can we do the doggy thing?" Mary piped up, the towel wrapped around her shoulders. Dean smiled and knelt down next to her so they were close to the same height.

                "Of course, sweetie. Ready? Go!" Laughing, they both shook themselves off like dogs, flinging water all over the floor, walls, and mirror. Mary teetered on her feet and fell down, still giggling. Dean smiled as he watched her, feeling so relaxed. "How was that? Wet enough?" The little girl nodded, and Dean scooped her up, bringing her to her bedroom so she could pick something out to wear. He went to do the same thing.

                Ten minutes later, they were both dressed and ready to go. Mary was wearing a black and white polka dot dress with a red bow wrapped around her waist. Dean was just wearing dark jeans and an olive green shirt, leaving his leather jacket behind today.

                Dean helped his daughter into her car seat, kissing her head as he strapped her in. "Are you ready to go to the park?" Dean asked her, getting an enthusiastic nod in response. He laughed and gave her another kiss before climbing in the driver seat and starting the car. He let Mary pick the music this time, and they had another jam session on the way to their destination.

                The weather was warm enough to keep them from shivering but cool enough to keep them from sweating. A few kids were running around on the playground, but there weren't many people around. Dean was glad, finding a bench to sit on as Mary took off towards the equipment. Dean mostly watched his daughter play, but he watched some of the other kids from time to time. Most of them were there with both their mother and father, and one with their mother. He was the only single father at the park. His heart ached for Lisa to still be in the picture, but she had fled the day she was released from the hospital, leaving Dean with their daughter. Dean hadn't seen her since, but he missed his girlfriend. He had been planning on proposing to her the day she had left.

                Still, Dean didn’t regret keeping his daughter. Mary was Dean's entire world, and he was happy to have her, even without a partner. It was often lonely, but he tried his best to keep his focus on her and making sure she was well provided for.

                When Mary came over to him, tugging on his shirt and begging him to build sandcastles with her in the sandbox, he didn't have the heart to say no. They walked hand in hand over to the box, and Mary plopped herself down in the sand. Dean sat on the edge, and together they started to build a giant hill.

                "Do you want to put a moat around the castle?" Dean asked her, watching the little girl pile more sand on the castle. She looked up at him, her eyes wide and curious.

                "What's a moat, daddy?"

                Dean smiled at her. "Well, pumpkin, it's like a pond around the whole castle. It's usually really deep and kind of wide, with a draw bridge over top of it so people can't get in the castle. It's filled with water and sometimes there's even crocodiles in it to keep people from swimming across and attacking the castle. The only way in is through the bridge, but only people inside the castle can lower the bridge." Dean started digging the moat around the castle. "Not every castle has one, but they're pretty useful. It helps keep the king and queen safe inside their castle from bad people who want to hurt them."

                Glancing up from the sand, he saw Mary wasn't even looking at him. Her attention was in the distance. Frowning, Dean turned to look at what she was seeing. Near the fence enclosing the park was a scruffy looking man, shivering and clutching a tattered green blanket. His face was dirty, bloody, and bruised, but flushed red. He didn't seem to have any belongings with him other than the blanket he was holding so gingerly. He looked like he'd been there a long time, greasy and filthy.

                "Daddy, why is that man just sitting there?" Mary asked, prying her eyes from the man for a second to glance at her father.

                "He's probably homeless. He doesn't have any food or money or anywhere to clean up. He has to rely on people to give him money so he can eat," Dean explained in a gentle voice, waiting to see what her reaction was. Mary looked sad, standing up and brushing the sand off her legs.

                "We have lots of money, daddy. Can't we give him some so he can eat?"

                Dean smiled, proud of his daughter for wanting to help others. "Of course, baby. How about we give him money to rent a hotel room so he can clean up and eat, okay?" The little girl nodded, and they walked over to him together. The man didn't seem to notice them approach, his swollen eyes casted down on the blanket. He was sniffling and trembling in his torn clothing, snot dripping down his face. 

                Even though he looked disgusting, Mary dropped down beside him. "Hi!" She greeted, startling the man so badly he nearly dropped the blanket. "My name is Mary, what is your name?"

                Slowly, then man turned to look at her, then up at Dean. Dean couldn't help the way his breath caught just looking at the blue eyes the man had. "C-Castiel," the man choked out, voice heavy and hoarse.

                "C-C-Cassiel? Can I just call you Cas?" Mary asked. Without waiting for the man to respond, she peered over at the blanket and gasped. "Is that a real baby?" She blurted. Dean, startled, glanced over as saw the sleeping face of a baby tucked in the blanket. The baby was doing much better than the man,  with no blood or bruising, but the face was crusted with dirt and red like the man.

                "M-My son," the man breathed, gently moving the bundle so that Mary could see him more. "He's sick. He needs to go to the hospital." Dean knelt and gently set a hand on the baby's forehead, the skin flushed with fever. He lifted his hand to touch the man's forehead as well, finding fever there, too.

                "Look, Castiel, I think you both could use a trip to the hospital. Why don't I take you? We could stop by my house if you want to clean up, but you two both need checked out. You're in pretty rough shape."

                If the man wanted to argue, he didn't. Dean figured he didn't have the strength. He just looked up at Dean with a hopeless expression. Dean softened a little, setting a hand on his shoulder.

                "Do you want some help up?" The man nodded, so Dean hooked his arm under the man's and tried pulling him up.  After much struggling, Dean realized that the man couldn't walk. Every time he put pressure on one of his legs, he would cry out and sag back against Dean.

                Mary watched from the side, her little voice piping up. "Daddy, you're going to have to carry him." She stated it like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Dean figured that to her, it must have been. He nodded, then looked at Castiel, who was already exhausted from their efforts. The baby safely nestled in his arms was still asleep, but the ragged breaths the baby took pulled at Dean's heart. They were in desperate need of help.

                "Alright, is that okay, Castiel? Can I carry you to my car?"

                Castiel took all his effort to nod, and Dean breathed a sigh of relief. He carefully maneuvered one of his arms under the man's legs, the other behind his back. He softly counted to three, then lifted. Surprisingly, the man barely weighed a thing. Dean's heart sank as he realized that wasn't a good thing. A man this age should weigh much more than Dean currently felt. He wondered what the two had gone through.

                Dean carried Castiel and the baby to his car, Mary close behind. She opened the passenger door for him, and he was careful to set the strangers inside. "I don't have a baby car seat, so I'll drive slow and we'll be careful," Dean promised, helping him buckle up. Then he buckled his daughter into her seat, kissing her head. "Sorry for the change in plans," he murmured to her. She just smiled up at him.

                "It's okay, daddy."

                Dean smiled and kissed her cheek, so happy that she was okay with all of this. He climbed into the front seat and glanced over at Castiel. He looked completely exhausted, blood crusted around his nose and eyes, dirt caked in every fold of his skin, his lips busted and skin bruised. Dean felt his heart hurt at the thought of what must've happened to get him in this state. He only hoped that the baby hadn't suffered the same.

                Dean kept the music quiet as he drove them slowly to the hospital, casting nervous glances over at their new passengers often. As they neared the parking lot of the hospital, the baby stirred in Castiel's arms, giving little whines as he shifted in the blanket around his body. Castiel tried to shush the baby, lips brushing against the warm forehead of his son, cradling him more gently than before.

                Dean parked and got Mary out of the car first, kissing her head as he went to the passenger side and carefully lifted Castiel into his arms. The baby gave more whines, his eyes opening for the first time. Dean was suddenly met with gorgeous blue orbs that were identical to his father. His eyes were lidded with sleepiness and no doubt fever, and Dean felt his heart break a little to think about how scared Castiel must be for his son. He couldn't imagine being so helpless with Mary in the same position.

                The hospital wasn't too busy when they got inside, and Dean was thankful. A doctor brought in a gurney, and Dean carefully laid the man down on it. Dean had to carry Mary in order for them to all follow the doctor down a couple halls. They stopped outside of a large bathroom, all of them easily fitting inside. The doctor explained that he would have to clean both of them in order to make sure he could see all the external injuries.

                "I'm going to have to take the baby, sir, so that we can clean both of you," the doctor said apologetically to Castiel, who clung tighter to the child, shaking his head.

                "Hey, why don't we wash the baby for you, okay?" Dean suggested, setting his hand on the rail of the gurney. Castiel glanced over at Dean, eyes wide with fear. "He'll be safe, and we'll be really careful with him, I promise."

                Castiel glanced back down at the once again sleeping baby, pressing a weak kiss to his forehead. "D-Don't hurt him," he begged, offering the child to Dean, barely able to lift his arms. Dean was gentle to reach down and pick up the baby, cradling him in his arms. He remembered when Mary was this tiny and he had been protective over her. He wouldn't even let Sam hold her the day she was born. He understands why the man doesn't want to hand the baby over to strangers like this.

                "He's safe with us," Dean promised, smiling down at Castiel's son. He walked over to the sink, glancing down at Mary. "Are you going to help me wash him?" He asked, turning the water onto a warm temperature that wouldn't burn the baby. Mary nodded and climbed up onto the counter.

                "Yes, daddy."

                "Alright, but we have to be very careful so we don't hurt him. We don't want to get any soap in his eyes because that would hurt him and make him cry. We don't want to make him cry, do we?" Mary shook her head quickly, plugging the drain so the water collected. "Good girl," Dean praised as he carefully removed the blanket from around the baby.

                The baby was dressed in a pastel yellow onesie that looked as though it had been puked on several times and dragged through the dirt without being washed. Dean winced a little and laid the baby on the counter, carefully taking the onesie off of him. Mary watched intently, frowning when they both saw how thin the child was. Each rib could be counted through the skin, and the usual baby fat around the stomach was missing. Dean felt his heart clench in his chest, feeling angry that the two had lived like this.

                The baby's diaper was full and didn't look like it had been changed in the last day. Dean winced when he saw the brown feces crusted everywhere. Dean grabbed a wipe and used it to gently clean the baby, hoping not to wake him.

                "Daddy, what is that?" Mary asked, pointing at the baby's thighs. Dean inspected it, finding it all over the diaper area, too.

                "It's a rash, baby. It happens because his diaper wasn't changed enough and his skin doesn't like all the poop."

                "Not that, daddy. That!" Dean took a closer look, finding little blisters between the baby's thighs, closer to his crotch. Dean frowned.

                "That's not good." He kissed Mary's head. "Let's get him in the water, okay, and we'll wash him really nicely." Mary nodded and watched Dean carefully lower the sleeping baby into the water. He squirmed a little in the water, then settled down again in Dean's hands.

                Together the two worked to clean the skin of the child, soaping up his hair and then washing it without getting it in his eyes. Dean felt sick just looking at the poor thing, his lower half all red and blistered with infection. Dean didn't think it was Castiel's fault, and his heart ached to think that the man might blame himself for this. Dean knew he'd blame himself if the same had happened to him.

                When the baby was clean, Mary helped dry him off, patting the rash dry so it wouldn't hurt. They wrapped the towel around the baby like the blanket had been, wanting the doctor to see the infection so he could treat it. He also didn't think that a diaper was the best thing to put on the baby. It would only irritate the skin more and cause the baby pain.

                Dean sat Mary down on the floor, then gently gave her the baby, letting his excited daughter hold him. He kissed her head. "I'm going to go and help Castiel, okay? Be really careful with him. Make sure you support his neck." Mary nodded and smiled up at her father.

                "Okay, daddy."

                Dean matched her smile and gave her another kiss before going over to the tub Castiel was in, the doctor kneeling beside it and cleaning a half passed out Castiel. The water around the other man was a mixture of brown and red, and it made Dean's stomach roll. Castiel's face was already cleaned and looked a little better without all the dirt and blood. Both his eyes were swollen and black, his cheeks were dark blue, and his lip was fat and busted. He had a couple cuts and scratches scattered over the stretched skin on his face.

                Dean knelt next to the tub as the doctor pulled the plug. "I'm going to change the water. It's getting pretty gross, and we don't want to accidentally infect him," the doctor explained. Castiel just laid there, head leaning on the rim of the tub, eyes only open a crack. Dean felt horrible thinking about how weak and helpless he was probably feeling.

                "The baby has really bad diaper rash. There's blisters all over the place."

                The doctor frowned. "That's not good. The little guy has an infection, then. But we'll get this sorted out, don't worry. I've got some cream to help it heal and take away the pain."

                The drain gurgled as the last of the water disappeared, and the doctor turned the water back on, changing the washcloth he was using and giving one to Dean. Together, they started cleaning Castiel's back. Dean felt sick when he saw that Castiel was even more thin than his son. His skin clung to his ribs, and there was no fat anywhere.

                His skin was nearly covered in dark blue and purple bruises, split between a couple ribs. Castiel was taking ragged breaths that made his whole body quiver, and Dean shivered. But if he thought Castiel's front was bad, his back was ten times worse. A long, deep jagged wound crossed from one shoulder blade to the small of his back. It was lightly scabbed over with yellow and green puss that oozed from small breaks in the scab. Both Dean and the doctor struggled not to gag.

                "That's not good at all," the doctor murmured, stating the obvious. "That's infected. Seems like it has been for a long time." Dean was extra careful to run the rag over the injury, drawing a whine from Castiel.

                Between Castiel's legs were no better. Little red and white circles dotted the insides of his thighs, and with horror, Dean realized  they were cigarette burns. His cock seemed to be dark red and bubbly, almost crispy to the touch. And his hole was a bloody mess. The rim was torn in several places, and Dean had to take a time out and look away.

                The doctor continued to work, ever so gently in this area. He spoke while Dean was taking deep breaths to will away the nausea. "These little circles are probably from cigarettes. Most of them look old, but there's a couple fresh ones. H-His penis looks to be burned. Pretty badly." The doctor's voice was a little shaky. "And the anus seems to be torn up. That's going to take quite a while to heal."

                Dean came back over slowly, and they cleaned the area with feather light touches. The water was drained, refilled, and they moved onto his legs. They seemed to be mostly okay— -less scratches and bruises. But when the doctor touched Castiel's foot, he let out a weak cry.

                With careful inspection, the doctor set it back down. "He's either got a broken foot or a broken ankle. We'll run an X-ray and find out." Dean nodded, and together they got Castiel out of the tub, dried off, dressed in a gown, and back on the bed.

                Dean gently took the baby back from Mary, and they joined the doctor at the gurney. Castiel's eyes landed on Dean and the bundle in his arms. "P-P-Parker. . ." He whined softly, trying to raise an arm for his son. Dean gently put Castiel's arm back down.

                "Don't worry, your son is safe. We'll give him back once you are both checked out, okay? We won't let anything happen to him," Dean promised, feeling his heart break when Castiel started crying. The little sobs were weak and shook his whole body, tears barely able to squeeze out of his injured eyes. Mary climbed up into the bed really careful and took Castiel's hand.

                "Hey, it's okay. We are just going to make sure you're okay. I'll watch over him and make sure he's okay," she assured him, her eyes bright and promising. Dean felt pride well in his chest watching her. She was so sweet and compassionate. And her words seemed to work because Castiel's cries slowly died down and he was calm again.

                The doctor pushed them into the X-ray room, and they had to stand behind a wall. Dean held Mary's hand as they stood there, looking down at the sleeping baby in his arms. The doctor came over when he was finished prepping Castiel, clicked the button a few times before glancing over at Dean. "I think that perhaps we should take an X-ray of the little guy, too. Just to make sure."

                Dean didn't want to, but he handed over the baby and stood with just Mary. Mary tugged on his hand, and he knelt so she could talk to him.

                "Daddy, we're not going to just leave them outside after this, are we?" Her voice was all sad, looking worried. "Because I think they'll die if we just leave them."

                "Of course we're not going to drop them back onto the streets, pumpkin. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet, but we'll make sure they're safe," he promised her, kissing her head. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he hugged her tightly.

                "Can we take them home with us, daddy? I promise I'll be really good. It can be my birthday present!"

                Dean smiled and rubbed her back. "I'll think about it, baby girl. You're so kind." The doctor came back over with the baby, handing him to Dean. His eyes were open a little, looking up at Dean. His cheeks were still flushed pink with fever, and Dean stroked one with his finger. "Hi, little guy," he whispered, fascinated when the child turned his head into Dean's touch. Mary peered above the baby, a smile on her face.

                "He's so cute, daddy." She touched the wispy dark hair on his head. "Was I ever as cute as he is?" Dean laughed softly and kissed her cheek.

                "Of course, baby. Still just as cute."

                They both laughed and looked back down at the baby, whose mouth was open and trying to take Dean's finger into his mouth. Dean let him have it, though it felt strange to have him sucking on it. The baby's eyes closed, just sucking contently. The doctor led them out of the room after that, and they were brought into another room, where they would be getting a thorough checkup and get treatment.



                Six hours later, Castiel had his own room with Parker, and Dean and Mary sat at his side. He was asleep in the bed, a little crib set up on the same side for the baby. Parker was hooked up to only one machine that kept track of his vitals and gave him nutrient rich substances to keep him healthy. He was getting medicine for his fever, and Dean was instructed to apply a cream to the baby's lower half every hour to help the rash and infection. He was not wearing a diaper, but the pad under him was disposable in case he had to use the restroom.

                Castiel was in worse shape. He had a fever as well, but that was only the beginning. His ankle was fractured and in a heavy cast, his wrist was broken in three places, he had thirteen broken ribs, three fractured ribs, and six bruised ribs. His cheek bone had a hairline fracture that would heal soon if he didn't bother it. He had a lot of internal bleeding that would have killed him three days later if it hadn't been fixed. He was extremely underweight, burned on his thighs as well as his cock, which the doctors weren't sure if it was going to get any better. The doctors had to apply cream to Castiel's ass every few hours, because there was not much else they could do.

                The long wound on his back was deeply infected, but the doctors managed to draw out most of the infected puss. He was on a lot of heavy medication and would be for a long time.

                Currently, Castiel was asleep, as well as Mary. She had dozed off with her head in her father's lap, and Dean had one hand in her hair and the other touching Parker. The baby was awake, but not moving much. Dean knew it was probably because of the fever, so he didn't play around with him too much, just stroked his face and hair. Parker watched him often, and Dean couldn't help but smile. The baby really was adorable.

                Dean wanted to know how old the baby was, but if he had to guess, he would suggest around six months. However, he was rather thin, so it was possible that he was a little older. Dean wondered what had happened to the two of them to get in this situation. He knew they had lived on the streets, but there was no way that could explain why Castiel had broken bones.

                Luckily, though, Parker didn't seem to have too many injuries. Whatever had happened to them, Castiel must have kept him safe. He probably shielded himself with his body. Dean guessed that someone or multiple someones had done this to them. Dean couldn't imagine why anyone would want to hurt either of them. They both seemed kind and innocent. Especially the baby. Dean couldn't even fathom how someone could raise a hand to the child. It made Dean sick.

                Parker gave a little yawn as he looked over at Dean, clear blue eyes settled on Dean's green ones. Dean stroked his little face and smiled sweetly. "Don't worry, little guy. I'm going to keep you both safe, okay? You won't have to worry about anything except getting better. Can you do that?" As an answer, the baby just closed his eyes and fell asleep. Dean huffed a laugh and continued stroking. "I think everything is going to be okay for you two now."



                Castiel slept for thirty two hours before his eyes opened again. Dean and Mary were still there, Dean reading a book to Mary and Parker both. The baby was in Mary's arms, eyes flitting between the little girl and her father. Castiel's head turned slowly over to the three, listening to the words coming from Dean's mouth in the form of silly voices. Mary often giggled, and Parker's eyes would come back over to her little face.

                The scene was so soft and trusting that Castiel felt his whole body physically ache. It took a moment for him to realize that Dean had stopped talking and was looking up at him. His heart spiked a little when he locked onto the green gems Dean had for eyes, and the stupid heart monitor betrayed him for that. Dean carefully moved the two little ones from his lap, setting them in the chair next to him as he stood and hovered over Castiel.

                "Hey, champ, how do you feel? Anything hurting?" Castiel couldn't find the energy to answer in any way, just watching Dean. Dean didn't seem to mind, though, his hand resting on the other man's forehead. Yeah, the fever was still there, strong as ever. "I'd offer you some soup, but I don't think the doctors want you eating any real food yet. It's understandable, though, so I'll get you some later."

                A moment of quiet passed over them before Castiel's eyes moved past Dean and to the baby in Mary's arms. Dean glanced back, too, and luckily, seemed to catch on quickly.

                "Yeah, you can hold him." Carefully, Parker was taken from Mary, and a moment later, the baby was back in Castiel's arms where he belonged. Castiel breathed a sigh of relief and looked down at his son, cradling him with his good arm.

                "B-Baby," he croaked out, stroking Parker's cheek with his injured hand. Parker gave a soft little coo-the first noise made other than the whining. Castiel struggled a little, but he managed to drop his head a little and raise the child up enough to kiss his forehead. Despite being in the hospital and covered in injuries, Castiel looked so peaceful and at ease sitting there holding his son. And then he started crying.

                Dean hesitated before setting a hand on Castiel's shoulder. "Hey, hey, everything is okay. You're safe. He's safe. He's not hurt. You saved him. You got him help. Everything is okay." Dean wasn't sure if that was the reason he was crying, but being a parent himself, he had a pretty good understanding that it was the reason.

                Castiel didn't say anything else as he just cried, and Dean let him. Castiel deserved it. He deserved much more than just being able to cry, but Dean wasn't sure if he wanted anything more from Dean. I mean, he wasn't sure he'd be comfortable accepting the offer to live with someone else, especially when he had Mary there, too. But he hoped Castiel would say yes.

                When Castiel's sobs died out, Dean rubbed his shoulder and tried to work up the courage to ask him. "So, Cas, I know that you probably don't have a home and you may not have any money, so I was thinking- more like wondering, really, if you wanted to come live with us. It would be temporary, just until you got better and back on your feet. Our house is really big, so it's not like we don't have the room to take you both in. I could make sure you're both fed really well and I would buy all your medication, clothes, and everything you need. You don't have to if you don't-"

                "Daddy," Mary interrupted his speech, pointing to Castiel. Dean glanced down at the other man and huffed.


                Castiel was asleep.



                Castiel was sluggish for three days after Dean had originally given his offer to stay with them, so Dean didn’t try again until he was getting a little better. Dean and Mary took care of the baby, making sure to wash him, apply the cream, and give him attention. Mary took a strong liking to the child, and Dean liked to see her playing with Parker and trying to make him laugh. She seemed happy and peaceful, and Dean’s heart ached to give her a little brother or sister.

                Castiel was slower in getting better, but after the three days, Castiel seemed to be thinking straight and he could talk in full sentences as long as he could take breaks and have sips of water between them. Dean figured it would be slow going with getting the offer out again, but he had plenty of time. The doctors didn’t want Castiel or his son going anywhere for some time.

                Currently, Dean was downstairs in the cafeteria, purchasing some soup for Castiel-who was able to eat solid food now-some pie, a couple burgers, and a bag of popcorn for Mary. His mind was racing with how Castiel was going to react to the offer. Would he take the offer, if the roles were reversed? He wasn’t sure he would trust living with a stranger, especially if Mary was still a baby. But they didn’t have anywhere to go and no way to pay the medical bills. Dean was offering to solve both of those problems without asking for anything back. It did seem too good to be true.

                Dean pulled out a couple fives from his wallet when the woman checking out his food told him his amount, handing it over as he struggled to grab everything again without spilling the soup. The woman didn’t offer to help, just watching Dean struggle.

                Dean tried to ignore that as he loaded everything up and started back for the elevator. He had to press the button with his elbow, relieved when the doors slid right open for him. He was surprised to see his business partner standing in the elevator, hands in his pockets and leaning against the wall. In fact, Benny seemed just as surprised to see Dean there.

                "Hey, brother. Need a hand with that?" He asked, letting Dean enter the elevator as he reached out to take the soup and the bag of popcorn Dean didn't realize was falling from the crook of his elbow. Dean thanked him, able to focus on the food at hand now.

                "What are you doing here?" Dean asked, pressing the button that would correspond with the floor Castiel was on. "Don't you have to be at work?" He knew things were busy, so he wasn't sure how Benny found the time to slip away. Dean was lucky Benny was letting him take all this time off to take care of Castiel, Parker, and Mary.

                Benny laughed and gave Dean a little shrug, a playful twinkle in his eye. "I told Hael to hold down the fort for me while I took a lunch break to come and see you," Benny explained. Dean laughed at the thought of their receptionist having to deal with every call they received.

                "Well I am glad to see you. Can't say I'm excited to go back to work, though. It's been nice having the time off, even though I've just been hanging out in the hospital the whole time. It really is nice to see you." They hugged briefly and a little awkwardly with all the food they were carrying.

                When the doors slid open, Dean led Benny to Castiel's room, pleased to see Castiel reading a book to Mary and Parker, the baby nestled in the crook of his father's arm. His voice was raspy and he frequently stopped to drink, but Mary didn’t seem to mind, leaning against the bed rail and looking at the pictures in the book. They only stopped when the two men entered, Castiel's cheeks turning a light shade of pink.

                "Hey," Dean greeted, setting the food down on the side table. Castiel didn't respond verbally, but he smiled a little at Dean, and that was enough for him. Benny set the soup down on the table that swung over Castiel's bed, then held out a hand.

                "I'm Benny, Dean's business partner and friend." Castiel weakly shook his hand, but he, again, didn't say anything. Benny didn't mind, coming over to sit by Mary and give her the bag of popcorn he had carried. Mary's eyes lit up as she tore the bag open and started munching on it, sitting in Benny's lap. The older man smiled almost sadly as he gently bounced her, wishing he could have his own children. His wife was infertile, and they didn't have the time to go through the adoption process right now. Benny was hoping that they could try again when his business calmed down a little.

                Dean brushed the hair back from Castiel's eyes, smiling at him. "How are you feeling?" He asked, hoping he wasn't making the other man uncomfortable. He had to keep reminding himself that they hardly knew each other. Castiel didn't look uncomfortable, though, as he relaxed against the pillows.

                "Better," Castiel responded with a small, shy smile. Dean couldn't help but smile back at him.

                "That's good to hear. Really good. Do you want to try eating some soup? It's nice and warm still." Castiel nodded, so Dean popped the lid off the bowl of soup and unwrapped the spoon. "Do you want me to hold Parker?" He asked, already reaching for the baby because he knew Castiel would let him. The baby gave a soft coo when he was picked up by Dean, squirming a little in the blanket he was swaddled in. "Hi, little man. Are you feeling better, too?" Parker just stared up at Dean with his big blue eyes, and Dean couldn't help but smile at him.

                Castiel was slow in eating the soup, hand shaking a little. Dean watched him closely in case Castiel needed help. Mary climbed down from Benny's lap and came over to Dean, peering at the baby. "Daddy, can I feed him this time?" She asked, turning her emerald green eyes on her father. Dean couldn't help but smile, giving in easily.

                "Of course you can, baby. Sit down, okay, and I will give you the baby."

                Eagerly, Mary climbed up into the chair beside her father, holding out her hands. Carefully, Dean set Parker in her arms. He put together a bottle for the small child and handed it to his daughter. Mary held the baby with tender care and carefully held the bottle to Parker's lips, watching him as he started sucking the nipple of the bottle.

                Dean turned to check on Castiel and was surprised to see him watching the three of them. Blushing in embarrassment, Castiel turned his head down to the soup. Dean kissed Mary's head and then went over to sit beside Benny.

                "When do you have to get back?" He asked his friend, leaning back in the padded chairs. Benny gave a shrug, then looked at his watch.

                "Probably pretty soon. I'm not in any hurry though, brother. Not really looking forward to going back, as you can probably tell." They both laughed, and Dean realized he really had to get back to work soon. He could tell that leaving Benny to take care of it all was stressing him out and putting too much on his shoulders. He would have to wait until Castiel was out of the hospital, though, and hopefully living with him. He would hire a baby sitter to take care of all three of them while he was at work. He couldn't leave Castiel alone with the two children when he couldn't even get out of bed.

                "Of course I can tell. Just as I'm sure you know I'm not exactly fond of going back, either." They both laughed again, and Dean patted Benny's leg. "Sorry for leaving for so long, I wasn't planning on being away for this much time. It has been nice not to have to dress up and go in all the time."

                Benny nodded and checked his phone. "You take all the time you need, brother. I can handle things while you're away, even if you don't think so. Just let me know beforehand if you decide to come back. You know I don't like to be surprised." Dean laughed and smiled, nodding his head as the subject changed. He didn't realize until later than Benny had already known he wasn't coming back.



                Hours later, Dean was settled back at Castiel's side, Parker asleep in his arms, and Mary asleep with her head in his lap, draped over the whole couch. He was stroking Parker's little cheek when Castiel spoke up from the bed. "You saved his life."

                Dean looked up with surprise, having thought that Castiel was asleep. He was very much not asleep, though, when Dean looked up and saw the other watching him. He glanced back down at the peaceful baby and shook his head. "No, I didn't. I just showed you guys some kindness when no one else would do so. You can't say I saved either of your lives because of that."

                Castiel struggled a little to sit up, careful not to use his injured arm at all. Dean wanted to jump up and help him, but he didn't want to wake either of the sleeping children. "I think we both know that isn't true." Castiel's voice was weak but determined, and Dean sat up straighter to listen to him. "I heard the doctor telling you about the bleeding inside of me. Three days later and I would have been dead." He reached a shaky hand out to grab a glass of water from the bedside table and sucked it through a straw.

                Dean watched Castiel without saying anything, knowing he wasn't done speaking. Castiel was getting better at talking for longer periods of time, but he still needed to take breaks and get something to drink. Dean didn't mind at all.

                "You saw how bad of a shape I was in. Even without the internal bleeding I was in no position to take care of me or my son. And Parker was so thin. He was starving. He would cry and cry because he was so hungry, but I had no more food to give him. There was nothing I could give him. In a few more days, he would have been dead and I would have let myself die because there is no way I could have handled losing him. He is everything to me. As a parent, I think you can understand."

                Dean glanced down at the two sleeping children, knowing exactly what Castiel meant. If anything were to happen to Mary, he would never survive. It would break his heart and he wouldn't be able to go on. "Of course."

                "Either way you think about it, you saved us. I owe you our lives, Dean. Thank you for saving us." There were tears in Castiel's eyes, and Dean wanted to reach over and brush them away and make sure that he never had to cry like this again.

                "I would do it a million times again for you," he promised, a small smile gracing his lips. A silence passed over them with the two just watching each other, not saying anything. Dean couldn't help but admire the crystal blue color of Castiel's eyes, and the way he wet his lips without thinking about it. He was looking a lot better, the split on his lip healing slowly, his eyes clearing up and no longer black and swollen. The bruises that had scattered his face were turning yellow and leaving. Castiel wasn't nearly as skinny was he had been, but he had a long way to go before he was at a healthy weight again.

                Parker, too, was healing. The fever had cleared up, and the rash had gone away. Slowly, the blisters were flattening, and it was almost time to put him back in diapers. Dean hadn't changed a diaper in a couple of years, but he didn't mind doing it until Castiel was better. The other man had to focus on getting better, and Dean was willing to take Parker so Castiel could do that.

                Dean cleared his throat, cheeks tinged pink as he reached inside himself to find the strength. "So, I tried to ask this a couple nights ago, but you fell asleep before I had a chance to get it out." Castiel blushed in embarrassment and opened his mouth to apologize, but Dean held up a hand to stop him. "It's alright. I get it. You're hurt and tired, and you needed your rest. But I want to say this now while you still have a while before you're released.

                "I'm rich. Like, crazy rich. I don't like to tell a lot of people because I don't like the way they treat me when they know. I am going to pay all the hospital bills you are racking up right now. I know that that already is a lot more than you think you deserve, but there's no way you can pay for it, and I don't have a lot to spend my money on." Castiel was already looking at Dean in disbelief, mouth hanging open. He didn't say anything, but he didn't need to for Dean to know he wasn't expecting this. "But that's not all. First off, I don't want you to feel like you have to take me up on my offer. I know I saved both of your lives, but you don't owe me anything, I swear. I didn't do this to have anything in return, so don't feel like you owe me anything.

                "But my offer, personally, I feel like is a great option." Dean bit his lip and gathered up his courage before he spoke. "I want to open my home to you and Parker. At least until you're both healthy again and you're financially stable, which I will also like to give you money to buy a house after you've got a good job that you can survive off of. My house is really large, and honestly, it's too empty for just the two of us. Mary and I are rarely home during the day, so it would be nice and quiet for you and Parker. I would hire someone to take care of you and Parker and also Mary while I'm at work. They would cook for you, help you bathe, and help you with your son. Just until you're able to do things on your own. Then the caretaker will just be there for Mary.

                "As I said, you don't have to take my offer. I can find you a nice house and buy it for you and still hire someone to take care of you if you feel more comfortable with that. I just want you to know that I'm not just going to boot you back to the streets. I won't let that happen. I'm more than happy to provide for you in whatever way you need me to because as I said, I have a lot of money and I want to spend it on something good. And I care about you and Parker. You both have had it rough, and you deserve to have something nice done for you."

                Dean stopped after that, his face burning red, looking down at the baby in his arms. There was silence again, and Dean feared that he had done all this talking while Castiel had dozed off. It was hard to put this out to the other man and not know how he felt about it.

                A soft, choked sob escaped Castiel's lips, and Dean's head whipped up to look at him. The other man had his good hand over his mouth, tears streaming down his cheeks. Dean frowned, wanting to wipe the tears away and comfort him, but he couldn't move the sleeping children.

                "Castiel. . ."

                "Why are you doing this for me?" Castiel asked softly, almost in awe. Dean had a swallow hard, biting his lip.

                "I'm going to be honest, if I didn't have Mary with me that day, I probably would have just given you some money and left. Mary saw you first, and it was her idea to go talk to you. When she took an interest in you, there was no way I could just walk away. I want to set a good example for her. I want her to have someone good to look up to. I'm not around her as much as I want to be because of my job, so when we are together, I want her to look at me positively. She doesn't have many other people in her life, you know?

                "And even though you were just a homeless person with their baby to me at first, you're more than that now. I don't know you very well, but I care about you and Parker. You guys have been through a lot and you deserve so much better than the hand you were dealt. I want to help make your life better because I know it's hard to be a single parent. I didn't have the same problems that you have obviously faced, but it was hard still. And I was really hoping that we could be friends even if you don't want to stay with me. I think it could be good for both of us and our kids."

                Castiel had tears streaming down his face, at a complete loss for words. Dean gave him a small smile. "You don't have to answer me now. Take a few days and think about it. Just let me know before we can go so that I can find a nurse." Dean looked back down at Parker, kissing his forehead. The baby's face scrunched a little, and Dean's heart melted. He fell asleep watching the child sleep.



                Two weeks later, Castiel was released from the hospital. Parker had been able to leave much sooner, but he stayed nestled in Castiel's arms while his father healed. In the two weeks, Dean learned that Castiel was very concerned with the thought that he didn't deserve Dean's offer but would take it anyway. For his son.

                He also learned that Parker was eight months old and not six like Dean had thought. He also learned that Castiel was a rare male carrier and had actually given birth to his son, so it made sense that Castiel called himself mama to his son. He also found out that Mary adored both of them, and Castiel seemed to be very fond of the little girl, too. Dean was very pleased, but he knew it would only make things harder when Castiel left.

                But they didn't have to think about that for awhile yet.



                Dean came back to work the Monday after Castiel moved in. He had given Maria a few months off, but he made sure to drop a couple thousand dollars into her bank account because she deserved it. Dean was pretty sure she hadn’t seen it yet, but he knew it would help when she started signing up for college classes and having to pay the tuition.

                The work place was busy as usual, but that was exactly what Dean had been expecting it to be like. He greeted a few people as he came in, but the one he was most excited to see was sitting in his office, talking on the phone. His southern drawl was clear and honey thick as he went over a business transaction with one of their clients. He set the phone down just as Dean came into the room, and a grin broke out across his face.

                "Dean, hey, brother. Wasn’t expecting you back so soon." He stood and the two hugged for a brief moment.

                "I told you on the phone a couple days ago that I would be coming back." Dean teased as he pat Benny's arm. The other man laughed, and they sat across from each other on either side of the desk to catch up.

                Dean told Benny about how Castiel had moved in with him and how Dean had hired a nice nurse named Jessica to take care of Castiel and also to watch Parker and Mary. Castiel was completely on bed rest for nearly another month just to make sure he would be okay. They both thought it was a little excessive, but Dean was worried about Castiel's health. Castiel hadn't opened up about what had happened to him and Parker that put them out on the streets to die, but Dean didn't want to pressure him into sharing anything he didn't want to. He knew talking about the past was painful. That's why Dean was glad Castiel hadn't asked about Mary's mother yet.

                Even as Dean told Benny about Castiel, he felt an ache in his chest to be with the other man. Ever since they had met, they had not been too far from each other like they were now. It felt wrong to be away from the other, but Dean knew he shouldn't get attached. He had to think about Mary. If he were to become attached, his heart would be broken when Castiel picked up his son and walked out the door.  

                Dean didn't realize he had stopped talking until Benny spoke up. "Dean? You alright?" Benny was watching him in concern, leaning forward in his chair. Dean looked up, realized that he'd been lost in thought. He threw on a smile, not wanting Benny to know about the new crush he was harboring on Castiel.

                "Yeah, sorry, just thinking about Parker. He's a total cutie, and he's getting better really quick. He's started to be more playful and smiley. Mary adores playing with him and feeding him. She's so loving and gentle and they're both adorable. It makes me wish Lisa had never left. I want Mary to have a little brother or sister."

                Benny reached across the table and took Dean's hand, knowing that's what he needed in that moment. "I know."

                "It's been four years, Benny. I should be over it by now, but I'm just not. I miss her like crazy, and I want to give Mary two loving parents and a loving sibling. Before I know it she's going to be too old to have another sibling and they'll never bond like other siblings do."

                Silence washed over the two men, Benny struggling not to point out that the perfect opportunity had fallen into his lap. He had Castiel and Parker both at home that could solve the problem. Anyone would have to be blind not to see the way Dean was quickly becoming infatuated. But he wasn't sure it was the right time to say anything of the like, so instead, he kept quiet about it.



                When Dean arrived home that night, Mary was running into his arms before he could even fully open the door. He scooped her up with a large smile, the exhaustion he had been feeling all day evaporating as he kissed his daughter's cheek. "Hi, princess."

                "Hi, daddy. Guess what!" Her eyes were wide and excited, and she answered before Dean could even try and guess. "Jessie made us cookies today! Sugar cookies! And she let me decorate them with sprinkles!" Dean grinned and adjusted the little girl in his arms.

                "Oh, yeah? And do I get to have one?" He asked as he gave her another kiss, this time on the forehead. She nodded her head vigorously and he laughed, heading to the kitchen. Jessica was there, cleaning up the counters. Next to the stove was a plate full of cookies, decorated with pink frosting and a mess of sprinkles on top. Dean took the top one and bit into it, letting Mary have a bite at the other end. She giggled as the pink icing smeared across her lips.

                "Cas let me play with Parker today." Mary licked at her lips, her green eyes still bright and cheerful. Dean couldn't help but smile just looking at her. She really looked exactly like him. "We had to play in Cas' room, but he let him crawl around on the floor and play with my toys. He said I had to watch him very closely, though, so he wouldn't get hurt."

                "That's great, baby. You're really good at playing with him and taking care of him." Dean popped the rest of the cookie into his mouth, smiling at his daughter.

                "He's so cute, daddy. And I just really like playing with him. But he keeps putting my Barbies and cars in his mouth. It's gross." Her pink lips formed a pout, and Dean couldn't help but laugh, kissing her cheek.

                "Sorry, pumpkin. I'll make sure to get him some baby toys, okay? Then he can slobber all over those ones. Now you go get shoes on, okay? I'm going to go check on Cas." He set Mary down, and the moment her feet touched the ground, she was taking off. Dean smiled and watched her until she disappeared up the stairs before heading into the guest bedroom where Castiel was.

                The other man was sitting up in bed, making silly faces to Parker, who was back in his swaddled blanket. The baby was laughing at all the faces, sounding so normal and healthy that Dean couldn't help but smile. The two had already come so far, and Dean had never felt so great about something he had done before.

                "Hey, you two. How did it go?" He stepped into the room and sat next to Castiel's bed. Parker looked over at him, so Dean made a face as the child laughed, squirming around in his blanket burrito. He smiled and almost leaned forward to kiss Parker's cheek, catching himself the moment he moved. Castiel didn't seem to notice as he cradled Parker in his elbow again, eyes looking up at Dean. Without all the bruising and the split lip, Castiel was actually gorgeous. His eyes were deep and so, so blue that Dean didn't know what to do except drown in them.

                "It went really well. Jessica is really wonderful. She knew all my medication and she knew how to handle the kids, too. Mary was really good. She was in here most of the time. She loves playing with Parker, which is great because I don't always have the strength and the ability to play with him." Castiel kissed both of Parker's cheeks, and the little boy squirmed around some more, trying to get out of the blanket. Castiel laughed, a soft, sweet little noise that had Dean's blood rushing to his face. He had never heard a sound as delicate and warm as Castiel's laugh.

                Castiel didn't seem to notice, carefully untucking the blanket from around his son. The baby was wearing the green onesie that Dean had bought him, the words "sweet pea" across the front in a darker green. Dean had insisted on buying them both clothes, bottles, blankets, and shoes. Dean had stupidly forgotten to buy the baby any toys to play with. He'd have to run out later and pick some up.

                As soon as Parker was free, he was laughing and squirming around on his mama's lap. Castiel smoothed back his dark hair, then looked up at Dean. "Do you want to see something amazing?" Dean nodded quickly, sitting forward. Carefully, Castiel laid Parker on his back and unbuttoned the onesie down the front, ignoring the squirming of his baby.

                Dean looked at the baby's creamy skin, but he didn't see anything particularly special for a moment. Castiel held onto Parker's sides gently, and that's when Dean saw it. "Oh! Look at that! Cas, that's amazing!" Dean reached out without really thinking, touching the skin on the baby's stomach, which was swelled just a little from eating well. He was no longer just skin and bones. "Wow, look how much he's grown already."

                Castiel beamed up at Dean, and the other man softened. "Isn't it wonderful? I can't wait for him to have the little baby belly." He leaned down to kiss at Parker's tummy, and the baby laughed, limbs squirming around a little. Dean had a sudden urge to tilt Castiel's head up and kiss him, but he forced himself to remain where he was. He didn't want to frighten his guest.

                "You two are both improving so much. I'm proud of both of you." Dean watched Castiel button up the onesie again, then his eyes looked up at Dean, a soft, timid smile on his face.

                "Thank you, Dean. We wouldn't be here without you." He sat Parker in his lap, and the baby laughed, looking right at Dean. Dean's cheeks tinted pink and he had to look away briefly before he could allow his eyes to come back to the others.

                "You're more than welcome." He reached out and stroked Parker's hair, heart melting when the baby cooed at him. He glanced up at Castiel, trying not to look nervous as he spoke. "So, Castiel, I was thinking about running out and grabbing something for us to all eat. And Mary has been complaining that Parker puts all her toys in his mouth and it hit me that I never bought Parker any toys. I was wondering if you would be okay with me, Mary, and Parker going out to the store and grabbing some toys, then getting food."

                At the mention of Dean taking Parker with him, Castiel tensed, holding Parker closer protectively. "Dean-"

                "And it's okay if you're not comfortable with that yet. I can pick him out some toys without him there, too. I just thought that maybe you'd like to have some time for yourself where you don't have to worry about him. It's up to you, and I won't be offended either way."

                Castiel looked down at the baby in his arms, who was playing with the buttons on his clothes. "I've never been away from him before, Dean. I trust you and I know you won't let anything happen to him, but I'm still scared. I don't know if I can leave him." He rubbed Parker's back and pressed a kiss to the baby's head, who didn't even look up. "But I need to learn how to do it for when I don't have a choice. I trust you, Dean, and I think this would be a good start."

                Despite his words, Castiel still looked upset about having to leave Parker. Dean set a hand on his arm in comfort. "Hey, I know it's hard for you, but you're right. He's safe with me and this is a good place to start learning. But if you're not ready, then you're not ready. It's nothing to feel ashamed of."

                Castiel glanced up at Dean briefly, and Dean pretended not to see the tears in Castiel's eyes. He didn't want to make the other feel worse about the situation. Castiel nodded to himself and kissed his baby's head, nuzzling against his dark hair. "Can I have a minute with him?" Castiel's voice was shaky, but Dean didn't mind.

                "Of course, I'll be back soon." Dean left the room, closing the door to give them privacy as he went to find his daughter. She was sitting on the couch with Jessica, and the nurse was helping Mary tie her shoes. Dean smiled as he watched, though his heart ached to be able to give this to Mary every day. He found himself once again wishing that he could give this to his little girl all the time. Mary deserved to have a mother and a father.

                Jessica was teaching Mary how to do the bunny loops as Dean stood in the doorway, picturing Lisa on the couch, her dark hair flowing down her shoulders, having come loose from the bun she pulled it back into hours ago. Her dark eyes would be trained on Mary, her nimble fingers moving the laces of her daughter's shoes, voice soft and sweet like honey and a smile curled up on her lips. Her eyes lifted from Mary's face to Dean, her smile growing from sweet to coy as her teeth pressed to her bottom lip. Her eyes were still dark and mysterious, but now they held a light Dean hadn't seen in them since before she found out she was having a baby.

                "Daddy!" Mary cried as she sprang up from the couch, launching herself into her father's arms. Dean barely had time to snap out of his fantasy and catch her, swinging her up onto his hip. "Daddy, look! Jessica helped me tie my shoes! Now I can do it by myself!" She informed, her voice excited. Dean smiled and kissed her cheek, shaking Lisa's image out of his head.

                "That's wonderful, honey." He glanced over at Jessica briefly, and she just smiled back at him, getting up and heading to the kitchen. "You're getting really good at doing things by yourself. Pretty soon you won't even need me anymore." He meant it to sound teasing, but the thought had him feeling choked up.

                Mary shook her head almost right away and kissed his cheek. "No, daddy, never! I'll always need you, I promise." Dean smiled and kissed her head.

                "It's true. Someday you're going to move out and then you won't need me to take care of you anymore. But that's okay. We still have a long time until then." He promised his little girl, heading towards Castiel's room. "Are you ready to go shopping with Parker?" Mary nodded enthusiastically, her hair bobbing with her. Dean laughed and knocked on the door, waiting for the okay to go inside.

                Castiel was sitting on the bed, back against a mountain of pillows. He was holding Parker in his lap, his broken arm around the baby, his other one smoothing Parker's hair back. The baby was happily chewing on a clean sponge Dean had given him before going to work. It wasn't the best toy, but while he didn't have teeth, it was safe to use. Dean smiled and set Mary on her feet, stopping at the bedside.

                "Hey, cutie, are you going to come with me and Mary to the store?" He cooed to the baby, brushing his finger over the child's cheek. Parker looked up at him with his big blue eyes, the sponge trapped partway in his mouth, damp around his lips. Dean smiled and looked up at Castiel. "Are you ready, mom?" He asked, giving him a reassuring smile.

                Castiel kissed the top of Parker's head, then nodded, giving a weak smile. "Yeah, you can take him. Just please be very gentle with him." Dean nodded, picking Parker up carefully and holding him against his chest, supporting him with a hand under the baby.

                "I will, I promise. He's safe as can be with me." He looked over at Parker, who was still chewing on the sponge as he looked down at Castiel. Castiel smiled softly at him and reached up, touching one of his tiny feet.

                "Be good for Dean, baby. Mama loves you so much." Parker took the sponge out of his mouth and smiled at Castiel, and the other man couldn't help but give a soft, sorrowful sob before he covered his mouth. Dean frowned, squeezing Castiel's shoulder.

                "Hey, it's okay. He's only going to be gone for an hour. Two tops, okay? And then he's right back in your arms where he belongs. Everything is going to be okay. No one is going to hurt him. No one is even going to touch him except for me and Mary, okay? He's in good hands." Dean didn't want to leave Castiel like this, but he knew that he just had to rip the band-aid off already. The longer that he stayed here with Castiel, the harder it would be for the other man to let them go. "Say bye-bye to mama, Parker." Dean cooed to the child. Parker just put the sponge back into his mouth, watching his mama. Castiel waved to him as Dean left the room.

                Outside in the hallway, Dean took Mary's hand and lead them to the car. "Alright, so we need to pick up a few groceries, some baby toys, then I was thinking about picking up some food for us. How does pizza sound?" Dean ask, laughing when his daughter nodded excitedly. He took the two children to the car, gently setting Parker into the brand new car seat. He buckled him in carefully, then kissed the top of his head. "Does that sponge taste good?"

                Parker didn't answer in any way, just looking up at Dean with his too big eyes. Dean smiled, his heart melting as he made sure the buckles were securely latched around his tiny body. Then Dean helped Mary into her car seat, taking the same caution to make sure it was secure. He kissed both her cheeks to make her giggle, then he climbed in.

                Dean rolled down the windows just a little and turned the music at a moderate volume so that Parker wouldn't get scared or overwhelmed. Mary sang along as she played with Parker's feet, the baby not seeming to mind as he slobbered all over the sponge. Dean smiled, glancing at the two in his rearview mirror. He was happy that Mary seemed to adore Parker, and he wished again that he could give her a baby brother or sister. If Lisa were still in the picture, Dean was sure he would have two little ones running around.

                They stopped at the store, and Dean unbuckled his daughter first, teaching her how to unbuckle Parker. He carried the baby inside, earning a smile for his troubles. Dean set Parker in the front of the cart, making sure he was supported and comfortable. That's when he decided not to just sit back and relax. He dropped the sponge four times just on the way to the food aisles, and he was a giggling, squirming mess. He kept tugging on Dean's sleeve just to get his attention, then he would worm around in the cart. Mary thought it was hilarious, and Dean couldn't help but smile at them both, happy that they were both entertained.

                Dean let Mary help him pick out food as Parker tried to pull everything off the shelves. Dean was constantly having to shoo his tiny hands away and catch jars that Parker would push off. Luckily, they didn't break anything between the three of them.

                By the time they got to the toys, Parker had gotten sick of the sponge. He refused to take it from either Dean or Mary, and he was getting fussy. Dean tried his best to keep him happy, but he didn't have any other toys to give him. So it was a relief when he finally got to the baby toys. Parker was back to taking everything off the shelves, but he was cooing and shaking them instead of throwing them on the ground. Dean let Parker pick out however many he wanted, picking out a couple teething rings for when he got to that stage.

                Parker ended up with half the toys the store offered, but Dean didn't mind. Parker seemed happy, and Dean had no problem spoiling him. Just like he was going to do with his own daughter, who hadn't even gotten a birthday present. They had both been caught up in their guests that birthday celebrations had gone out the window.

                Mary seemed to light up when she saw them heading for the toy aisle, and Dean laughed softly. "Go ahead, you can pick out whatever you want, princess." Mary dashed off before the cart was even considered in the aisle, and Dean just watched her go with a large smile. He was glad that she was happy and was finally getting the birthday present she deserved.

                Mary was already in the Barbie aisle, so Dean had no trouble finding her. Parker was getting antsy again, so Dean picked him up and held him while he followed his daughter around. Parker liked playing with Dean's necklace he had been wearing since he was a child when his brother, Sam, had given it to him for Christmas. It was just a pendant on a string, but to Parker, it was the best thing ever, and kept him entertained while Mary dumped Barbies into the cart along with house furniture for her large doll house Dean had made her.

                "Are you looking to buy the whole store?" Dean teased the little girl, who just giggled and dropped another Barbie into the cart. Dean glanced over at Parker, who was still looking at Dean's necklace. "What do you think, bud? She have as many toys as you yet?" Parker didn't answer, and Dean couldn't stop himself from leaning over and kissing the baby's cheek. Dean missed having a baby around, and he wished that Mary had been given the opportunity to be an older sister. Just seeing her interact with Parker made Dean's heart swell, and he knew that Mary would love to take care of the baby just as much as Dean.

                Dean watched Mary rush around the aisle, and he smiled sadly, thinking back to how excited he'd been when Lisa had told him she was pregnant. Dean had spent the better half of his evenings talking to the bump and kissing it while Lisa was busy reading. Thinking back on it now, Dean realized that Lisa had never been excited about the baby. Dean's excitement had overshadowed her lack of it, and if Dean had realized, it would have spared him a lot of heartache.

                Parker gave a little shriek in Dean's arms, gaining his attention from his thoughts. The pendant was trapped in Parker's tiny hand, and Dean couldn't help but smile. "Do you like it, babe? Almost better than all the toys I'm buying you?" He teased, bouncing the baby once. Parker's eyes lifted to Dean's, mouth wide in an open smile, and Dean was struck with how similar he looked to his mama. "You're a cutie, little man. Just like your mama." He kissed Parker's cheek again.

                Dean was so caught up in the child in his arms that he didn't see Mary watching them with a smile on her face.



                Castiel was very relieved to have his son back in his arms the moment Dean came home. He kissed all over Parker's face and rubbed his back, holding him against his chest. Parker was cooing and content to be pampered with Castiel's attention. Dean, Mary, and Jessica helped unpack all of the groceries, most of them going into Mary's room and Castiel's. Mary dashed off to her room to play with her new toys, and Jessica went to Castiel's room to bathe him and his son.

                With nothing else to do, Dean sat on his bed, staring at the photograph on his beside table. It was just a small one, but Lisa's smiling face filled the frame and caused Dean's heart to ache. Lisa hadn't wanted to be a mother, but Dean had been ready to be a father. She had only kept Mary for Dean, and he was thankful. Mary was everything to him, and he couldn't imagine life without her.

                Lisa had been the perfect match for Dean. She was funny, beautiful, and still had a wild side to her. Dean had been able to take her to bars and clubs with him and not have to work hard to convince her. Sometimes he missed being able to say screw it to the world and take off with her at any time of the day. He didn't regret having Mary in the slightest, but he found himself wishing the timing had been different. That he had been able to enjoy his life more as a young adult before jumping into being a father.

                Dean turned his head to look up at the ceiling. He knew he had to stop thinking about Lisa, but he couldn't help it. He wanted to give Mary the family she was missing out on. Sure, she had Sam, but he was always so busy being a lawyer that she didn't see him often. She needed another parent, and Dean wanted to give her a sibling so she wasn't so lonely.

                His mind turned to Castiel. Castiel was quickly growing on Dean, and he couldn't help but want what Castiel could offer. Not only could he be Dean's lover, but he could be a good mama to Mary, and Parker could be Mary's little brother. Dean liked having them both around, and he wasn't ready to let them go. Castiel was still on bed rest, but Dean feared that once he was off, he would be leaving. Dean wasn't ready to say goodbye to them forever. After all, once they were back on their feet, what would keep them in contact? It would get awkward because Castiel would feel as though he owed Dean something and Dean would be really busy at work.

                Dean hoped that Castiel would want to stay here for awhile longer, and he selfishly hoped that longer would turn into forever. He wasn't sure yet, though, if he was developing real feelings for the other, or if he was just lonely and longing for a family. He knew he had to figure it out before he told Castiel any of it.



                When Castiel was finally off bed rest, Dean took them all out to eat. He was exhausted from work, but he wanted to celebrate with everyone, and Castiel seemed overly excited to get out of the house. Dean understood feeling cramped up in the house for too long. It would have drove him crazy ages ago. Luckily, Castiel had had Parker to keep him occupied.

                Castiel walked with a limp from the car to inside, so Dean set a guiding hand on Castiel's lower back, lower than where he knew the long wound on his back was. Parker was looking up at Dean from over his mama's shoulder, and Dean made a face at him to make him laugh. The waitress sat them down in a booth, and Castiel put Parker in the high chair before he propped his injured ankle up. The cast was still covering it, but Dean knew Castiel was ready to get it off, just like the one around his wrist.

                Parker was in a playful mood, shaking a toy that he had brought with, cooing and squirming. Mary was distracted, playing with the baby, and Dean smiled over at Castiel. "They're getting along very well." Dean commented. Castiel glanced up, rubbing near the top of his cast.

                "Yeah, they are. I'm glad there's someone who can entertain Parker when I'm too tired. I think he likes having someone more his own age playing with him." Castiel smiled as he watched the two children pass the toy back and forth to each other, Parker giving happy shrieks. "I never thought I'd be lucky enough to have a son as wonderful as Parker. He's everything to me. I. . . I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for him. Or at least I wouldn't be here." His forehead furrowed in thought, and Dean felt it tug at his heart. Whatever happened to them, Dean was sure that they didn't deserve it.

                "I'm sorry that you were dealt a shitty hand. In life, I mean. I'm just really happy that you have Parker and you're both safe and okay again. I promise to take good care of both of you until you're on your feet again." Dean gave him a reassuring smile just as the waitress came back to take orders. Dean ordered a burger and a side of fries, then ordered Mary the chicken tenders. Castiel was a little nervous about ordering for himself, but after a moment, he stuttered out his order for a burger as well, tator tots as his side. Dean was surprised by the selection, but he didn't comment on it, thinking it was kind of cute.

                Dean talked to Castiel a little bit about his work and what he did, explaining how his father had been the one to own and start the business. Dean had taken over when his father had been diagnosed with cancer, and his childhood friend, Benny, had stepped in to help. Now they were super rich, but it hadn't been enough to save his father. He had passed away before Mary was even born. Six months later, he found his heartbroken mother swinging from the ceiling fan in her bedroom. Neither of them ever met Mary.

                Their food came shortly after Dean had whispered the last part about his mother so Mary couldn't hear, and then they dug in. Parker was allowed tiny bites of food, mostly bun and tator tots, but now that Castiel was getting a healthy diet, his breasts were expanding and he was given the option of breastfeeding, which he was pretty excited about. Parker seemed to enjoy it too, and Castiel insisted that it was the healthiest option for his son. Dean did find it slightly strange, but he was okay with it as long as Castiel was, too.

                Mary was the first one to be done, and she went straight back to playing with Parker. She tickled his tiny feet, making him squirm and giggle occasionally, and sometimes she would lean over and kiss his cheek. Dean caught Castiel watching the two often, smiling softly as he ate his burger. Parker didn't seem to mind the attention he was getting from the little girl, too busy pushing bites of food into his mouth, hands and mouth a slobbery mess.

                "Do you like the burger?" Dean asked, pulling Castiel's attention from the two little ones.

                "Yes, thank you, it's delicious. I haven't been out to a restaurant since I was seventeen." Dean frowned, opening his mouth to question it, but getting interrupted by Parker. The baby had somehow managed to pop the lid off his sippy cup and splattered the water everywhere.



                Dean didn't have an opportunity to question Castiel again about his comment until later that night. Jessica's last day had been the previous night, so it was just the four of them again. Dean had helped Mary bathe, then tucked her into bed before seeking out their guests. Castiel was in the rocking chair Dean had pulled from the attic, Parker bundled up in his arms. From the doorway, Dean wasn't sure if he was sleeping, but Castiel waved him in anyway. Dean stepped in and sat down on the corner of his bed.

                "He just fell asleep," Castiel whispered, rocking slowly back and forth and keeping his eyes on his son. "Give me a few minutes, and I'll meet you in the living room." Dean nodded, standing again and peering over at the two. Parker had his head against Castiel's arm, looking peaceful and adorable. Dean smiled, leaving the room to let Castiel put his son down.

                Dean sat down on the old leather couch in his living room, giving a soft sigh. He wanted to talk about what had happened to the two of them to make them injured and on the streets, but he didn't want to make Castiel uncomfortable or to overstep any boundaries.

                Castiel was out only moments later, dressed in a cute t-shirt and some gray sweatshirts. Dean couldn't help but smile up at him. "We can go shopping tomorrow and get you some clothes. I'll let you pick them out. You could get stuff for Parker, too, if you want."

                "Thank you, Dean." Castiel murmured, sinking gracefully down on the other end of the couch. "Thank you for everything you've done for us already and everything you'll still do. We are very lucky to have met you and your daughter."

                Dean's cheeks colored slightly, and he had to look away so Castiel couldn't see it. "You're more than welcome. It's been very nice to have the two of you around. I don't really have much time for a social life, so it's nice to have a friend again. And Mary adores Parker. They get along really great, so it's no trouble at all. This house is too big, anyway, and I like to be able to spend my money on something good. On someone good who deserves a better opportunity in life."

                Castiel was quiet, and when Dean looked over to make sure he was okay, he was surprised to see the fond look on the other's face. Dean cleared his throat, shifting slightly on the couch.

                "Look, Cas." He started, not realizing the nickname he had accidentally let slip. "This may be a touchy subject for you--no, actually, I know it is a touchy subject for you--but what did you mean about not being out to a restaurant since you were 17?"

                Castiel shifted in his seat, looking a little uncomfortable. Dean wanted to apologize immediately, because really, it wasn't his business. But he wanted to know if it had anything to do with what had happened to him and his son. Castiel picked up the pillow that Dean kept on the couch and tucked it against his chest, looking down at his socked feet. For a moment, Dean thought he would have to repeat his question.

                "When I was sixteen, I started dating this guy named Crowley. He was two years older than I was, and he was so sweet to me. He would surprise me with flowers, bring me out to eat at fancy restaurants, and give me little gifts. I was head over heels for him, and I was so sure that he was the one for me. The one that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."

                Dean couldn't help the jealousy that stirred up in his stomach at the idea of Castiel being in love with someone. He tried to tamper it down because he and Castiel weren't even a thing. He had no right to lay claims over the other man. He tried to maintain his feelings so that Castiel wouldn't stop talking.

                "My parents hated him. Part of the reason was because it was Crowley, and the other part was because they were homophobic. They didn't want me to be with the other man. They were Christans, after all. I was never allowed to have him over, but Crowley insisted that it was okay. That he chose me and he wasn't going back on that choice. I felt like I was on top of the world, or at least as much as a sixteen year old can be."

                Castiel took a moment, and Dean was afraid that he would start crying.

                "I dated him all the way up to my eighteenth birthday. He took me to a party, saying that it was a special occasion to under age drink. I didn't want to, so I had water instead. There were so many sleazy guys there trying to touch me and grope me, that when Crowley handed me a drink and suggest that we go outside, I allowed it. He got me water, as I requested, and I drank it all. Next thing I knew, I was waking in a dark room. He'd drugged me, and kidnapped me."

                "Daddy?" Mary's little voice interrupted the story, standing in the doorway with her stuffed squirrel clutched tightly to her chest. Dean stood and came to her immediately, picking her up and holding her close to himself.

                "What is it, baby?" He kisses her cheek as she wraps her thin arms around Dean's neck, holding onto her. He glanced apologetically at Castiel, then brought his daughter to her room, sitting on the bed with her. "What happened?"

                Mary buried her face in Dean's neck, and even though she wasn't crying, he could feel her trembling like she might. "I had a bad dream." Dean rubbed her back and waited to continue. "I dreamed that Cas was my mommy and Parker was my little brother, but then a scary man came and took Parker!" She fisted the back of Dean's shirt in both her hands, and Dean felt his heart squeeze. He wanted Castiel to be Mary's other parents. "And the scary man was hurting Cas and I couldn't fight him because he was so much bigger than me, daddy. I was so scared!"

                "Baby, I'm so sorry you had that dream." Dean kissed her cheek, rocking her gently. "But I can promise you that no scary man is going to hurt Cas or take Parker. You guys are all safe with me, okay? I won't let anyone get to you." Dean kept reassuring her as she started to get sleepy, and carefully, he tucked her back into bed, the squirrel next to her.

                "Daddy?" Mary spoke up again, eyelids heavy and voice integrated with sleepiness. Dean stroked the hair from her face and looked down at his beautiful little girl.

                "Yes, baby?"

                "I wish Cas was my mommy. He would take good care of me. Of all of us." Then her eyes closed and she was asleep. Dean watched her, knowing exactly how she felt. He wanted the same thing, but he didn't know if Castiel wanted that, and he was afraid to bring it up. He didn't want to drive the two away.

                Dean closed the door after him, then slipped back out to the living room. Castiel was still sitting on the couch, but he had Parker in his arms. The baby was tucked under a blanket, and by the noises he was making, Dean could tell that he was nursing. Dean was careful to sit down, giving Castiel's knee a gentle pat.

                "Sorry to rush out on you like that. Do you still want to..?"

                Castiel nodded, readjusting the blanket to cover himself more. Still, he was silent for several minutes, unable to get the words out. "Where did I leave off?"

                Dean tried not to stare while Castiel was feeding his son, but it was hard because he couldn't help but image that it was their baby under there. He tried to push that thought out of his mind. "You were drugged," he supplied, clearing his throat as his cheeks turned red. Castiel nodded, but it still took him a moment before he could open his mouth.

                "Right, I uh, woke in the dark room. There was no one around, but I was chained up to the wall. I still had my clothes on, thankfully, but I was scared. I didn't want to think bad of Crowley, because I hadn't thought that he would do anything to hurt me, but I was wrong. He was never kind to me after that."

                Dean felt his anger swell in his chest, wanting to rip this man apart. He had to be the one that was behind why Castiel was so hurt the day that Dean had found him. And looking at who Castiel was now, Dean couldn't imagine raising a fist to him, or to put him in the state Dean had found him.

                "He's the one who hurt you," Dean stated, trying to keep his anger out of his voice. At Castiel's timid nod, Dean clenched his fists, standing up and turning away from Castiel so he couldn't see how upset he was. Hot tears pushed against his eyes, but he forced them away, taking deep breaths. "I'll kill him," he whispered, more to himself than the other man in the room.

                "He did such horrible things to me," Castiel whispered, his voice so tiny that Dean ached. He wondered how many times Crowley had heard that tone and still managed to beat him senseless. How Castiel had probably begged him to stop in that voice, and Crowley still managed to crack his fist down on Castiel's weak body. Dean wanted to scream and cry at the thought of Castiel being treated so lowly.


                "I still have nightmares every time I close my eyes. I get so scared that when I open them again, he'll still be here, looming over me and ready to make me scream again."


                Dean's voice dies in his throat when Castiel starts crying softly, his shoulders shaking. Parker fusses slightly under the blanket, but Dean's more focused on Castiel. He melts into the couch next to the man and wraps his arms around the other, holding him tightly and letting Castiel press his face into Dean's shoulder.

                "Cas, I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. You didn't deserve any of that," he murmured into Castiel's hair. He rubbed carefully over Castiel's shaking shoulders, feeling the tears well in his eyes again. "God, Cas, you're so brave. I can't believe you survived all those horrible things. I saw what he did to you, and I can't believe you're still here."

                Castiel held onto Dean with one hand, sobbing into his shoulder. Dean wanted to do more, to pull Castiel into his lap and let him fall apart, but Parker was still feeding, and Dean didn't want to accidentally hurt him. So Dean did the best that he could, letting Castiel get his tears out while offering his support through whatever he needed. He rubbed gently at Castiel's back, avoiding the injury on his back the best he could.

                After a few minutes, Castiel seemed to get a hold of himself and pulled back, wiping at his face. He sniffled and gave Dean an embarrassed look as he ducked his head. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be such a mess," he apologized, adjusting Parker under his shirt. Dean shook his head, squeezing Castiel's arm. "Please don't argue. I am a mess, Dean. But I needed that. So thank you. And I hope that you don't think less of me now that you know what I've been through. Crowley was the worst thing that ever happened to me, but I'm out now. I'm safe. I managed to escape with Parker and we are both safe. For that I am thankful."

                Dean frowned, looking over Castiel. Even though he was getting better, he still looked so small and timid, and Dean's heart ached. If Castiel were his, he would never let him look that low and sad. Dean would make sure to cherish Castiel the way he deserved. And these thoughts frightened Dean a little. He hadn't been expecting to grow this attached to the two so quickly, to feel so protective of the others. Even with Lisa, he had never felt this way before. He loved her, of course, but his feelings for her didn't feel nearly as deep as Dean currently felt for Castiel and his tiny son.

                Astounded by his realization, Dean realized that he couldn't let them go. If they walked out of his and Mary's life, he wasn't sure he would be able to forgive himself for not trying to keep them around.

                "Cas," Dean breathed, looking him over. All his thoughts bunched up in his throat, and now that he's realized he wants Castiel to stay with him forever, he doesn't know how to bring the topic up. He doesn't know how Castiel will react, and what it would mean for them if Castiel didn't feel the same.

                But he didn't have time to say anything at all before Parker started squirming and whining, apparently done feeding. Castiel smiled almost shyly at Dean before he carefully took Parker out into the open, kissing his son's cheek. Parker gave a soft coo as he cuddled up against his mama, blue eyes sleepy and drooping.

                "I should probably put him to bed," Castiel murmured, standing up from the couch. Dean wanted to take his hand and pull him back down, to pour out his feelings for the other man. Instead, though, Dean just nodded and smiled at him, knowing his discovery could wait. After all, it wasn't like Castiel was going to move out the next day.

                "Yeah, okay." His eyes scanned over the tired baby, remembering all the late nights he had stayed up with Mary, making sure she was well fed and happy before he could even think about going to bed. "Goodnight, Castiel."

                Castiel smiled sweetly at Dean, making the other man's heart flutter. "Goodnight, Dean. Sleep well." Without another word, Castiel headed off to his bedroom, leaving Dean alone on the couch. Dean felt nervous about his new feelings, but he was determined to share them. After all, Castiel and Parker were exactly what he wanted in life. A loving spouse and two wonderful children. And Dean had already grown so attached to both of them. He couldn't imagine letting them go now.

                So Dean locked up and turned off all the lights before he headed to his bedroom, sitting on his bed to take his shoes off. He would tell Castiel soon and let him decide what to do. If he wanted to walk away, Dean would let him even though he knew his life would never be the same. And if Castiel wanted to stay, then Dean would let his fantasies of them being together and raising their children to be a reality.

                He couldn't stop the smile on his face at the thought of waking up with Castiel in his arms and to watch the two kids grow closer as they aged. He smiled even when he caught sight of the picture frame on his bedside table, Lisa's smiling face on display. Once upon a time, he wanted her to come back and raise another child with him, but now he had different plans. Ones he couldn't imagine changing for someone who walked out on him and his daughter. He knew that Castiel would never do that to them if he chose to stay.

                So without another thought, Dean turned the picture down and went to bed.  



                In the morning, Dean was greeted with the smell of cinnamon and apples wafting into his bedroom. His stomach growled before Dean even open his eyes, prompting him to follow his nose. He climbed out of the bed and threw on some sweatpants before he trudged out of the room, rubbing the remaining sleepiness from his eyes. The scent led him to the kitchen, and the sight he saw was certainly a surprise.

                Standing over the stove was Castiel, and on his hip was Mary, giggling as she poured pancake batter onto a hot pan. Castiel was whispering to her, but it was too quiet for Dean to hear. He didn't see Parker anywhere, but the sight of his daughter and the man he was beginning to fall in love with was almost too much for him to bear. It was so tranquil and domestic that Dean's heart ached to be able to have this for the rest of his life.

                "Look! I did it!" Mary exclaimed, flinging the ladle to the side and dripping pancake batter onto the counter. Castiel laughed, looking as though he were reaching out to kiss her cheek before catching himself at the last moment.

                "You did do it," he praised, giving her a large smile. "But be careful, baby, you're making a mess." Mary's cheeks dusted pink, but before she could apologize, she caught sight of Dean, and her eyes lit up.

                "Daddy!" She cried out, waving at him. Castiel turned, too, looking as though he were a deer in headlights. Sheepishly, he put the little girl down, and Mary came running over to Dean, throwing her little arms around Dean's waist.

                Dean chuckled softly and rubbed her back, squatting down to be level with her. "Hey, princess. What are you making?" He asked, giving her a kiss on the cheek. Mary practically beamed, jumping up and down with excitement.

                "Pancakes! They're apple and cinnamon, daddy, just like you like them!" She squealed, her green eyes bright and eager. Dean could feel his heart melting with love for the little girl in front of him, wishing he could always have her this happy.

                "They smell amazing," Dean complimented, giving Mary another kiss before he stood up. "Why don't you go wash up for breakfast, okay?" Mary nodded, giving Dean a toothy smile before she dashed off.

                Castiel was still standing at the stove, flipping the pancakes and avoiding Dean's eyes. "I'm sorry," he managed to murmur a few seconds later, wiping his hands on an apron Dean hadn't seen since Lisa had been around. "I should have asked if I could hold her and be with her. But she woke up this morning and was just so excited when I mentioned making breakfast and that she could help if she wanted. I didn't have the heart to wake you when she talked about surprising you."

                Dean hesitantly put his hands on Castiel's hips, glad to find more than just bone under his touch. "I'm not mad," he murmured, right near Castiel's ear. He watched the skin there go red before Castiel's blue eyes were on his own. "I actually wanted to thank you. Mary's always asking to be in the kitchen, and I'm not much of a cooker."

                Castiel's cheeks went pink, then his eyes lowered back to the pan. "She's a wonderful child. Very sweet and polite. You raised her right." If he was uncomfortable with their touching and proximity, he didn't move. His cheeks were rosy still, and his eyes held a soft shyness that Dean liked to see. He could almost imagine himself leaning forward and pressing a kiss to Castiel's cheek, then maybe his lips.

                "I did," he agreed after a long moment of pause. "I didn't have a choice, though. I'm not the type of person to raise my daughter to be someone I'm not proud of." He let his thumb gently rub circles onto Castiel's hip, watching the color spread down Castiel's neck. Now that Dean's realized how much he liked the other man, he can't help but want to know what Castiel's lips feel like against his own, and how his body feels under his touch, and how Castiel would sound when Dean was pleasuring him.

                "I think you're a wonderful father," Castiel responded, his eyes slowly meeting Dean's. Dean gave him a smile, beginning to lean forward slightly to press his lips to the other man's but he heard Mary gasp behind him. The two of them jumped apart immediately, eyes wide with surprise as they looked to the little girl.

                "Mary-" Dean started, not sure how to even explain this to his daughter. But he didn't have to, because Mary wasn't even looking at them. She pointed towards the pan, where the pancake on it was smoking and burning.

                "My pancake!"

                Dean breathed a sigh of relief. It was just the pancake. He didn't have to worry about what she thought they had been doing. He pushed it out of his mind as he jumped into action to save the pancake.




                Later that night, Dean took Mary with him to grab them something to eat. Castiel was craving a burger, and Parker was down with another cold. Dean had promised to get them food while Castiel stayed home with his sick child. Dean knew this would be the perfect time to bring up the fact that he liked Castiel and see how his daughter would take it, but he wasn't sure how to start. Every time that he tried, he lost his words.

                But as it turned out, he didn't need to ask. As soon as they pulled out of their neighborhood, Mary piped up from the back, a smile on her face. "You like Cas, don't you, daddy?" Her voice was so sure that it surprised Dean, and he turned briefly to look back at her. Her smile was just so innocent that Dean could hardly believe she knew what was going on. How did she get so smart?

                "Yeah, baby, I do. I like Cas a lot."

                Dean glanced at her in the rearview mirror briefly, then turned his attention back to the road. He hadn't even considered the possibility of dating since Lisa had left, and asking his daughter permission and approval was a lot harder than he had thought it would be. He was nervous that she would reject Castiel and his son from their lives, and Dean wouldn't fight for it. Mary was everything to him, and he couldn't stand to make her unhappy.

                "Is that okay with you?" He asked her, pulling into the parking lot and looking back at his little girl. Mary kicked her legs back and forth in her car seat, her bright green eyes trained on her father.

                "Of course, daddy. I like Cas a lot. I want him to be my mommy." For a moment, there was nothing but the soft sound of music coming from the speakers, and Dean gave her a smile. "And I like Parker, too. He's so cute and he likes to play with me. Can we keep them, daddy?"

                Dean gave a soft chuckle, his heart feeling warm and full. "I hope so, princess. I'm going to talk to Cas tonight about what he thinks, okay?" The little girl nodded her answer, and Dean broke into a smile. "Alright, let's go get this food." He climbed out of the car and came over to get his daughter, breathing a sigh of relief. Mary approved, and the talk had gone a lot better than Dean had expected it to go. He was grateful that his daughter wanted Castiel and Parker in their lives forever. It almost felt like he was giving her the family they had both dreamed about.




                The food had gone over well, and even Parker was able to get down small chunks of bread and fries without a fuss. He had sat in his mama's lap, but his eyes were on Mary, who kept giving him silly faces to make him smile. The baby's cheeks were flushed with fever, but he didn't seem nearly as sick as the first time the four of them had met.

                Mary helped her father clean up the table after they ate, then they all headed into the living room to watch a movie. The adults let Mary pick the movie, and she chose a Disney movie, popping it into the DVD player. Castiel sat on one side of the couch, Parker curled up in his arms against his chest, looking half asleep already. Dean sat on the other end, with Mary between them. Dean was a little embarrassed to admit that he watched their guests more than he watched the movie, and Mary noticed. Her little eyes darted between the two adults, a small smile on her face as she caught them both stealing glances at the other.

                Before the movie was over, both the children were asleep, Parker wrapped safely in Castiel's arms, and Mary with her head in her father's lap. The adults looked at each other with a small smile as the credits rolled onto the screen.

                "Bed time?" Dean whispered, glancing at the children. Castiel nodded, carefully and slowly getting off the couch. "Goodnight, Cas." Dean would talk to Castiel in the morning about his feelings, no matter what. Even though he was nervous and afraid of rejection, he had to make it happen.

                "Goodnight, Dean. Sleep well." And then he was gone, leaving Dean on the couch with his sleeping daughter. He was careful to slide his arms under his child, lifting her into his arms. She gave a soft whine in her sleep, but settled back down into his arms, head lulling onto his shoulder. Dean smiled and kissed the top of her head, carrying her to her bedroom.

                Gently, he laid her down in her bed, wrapping the blankets around her small body. This could be it. He could finally give Mary the life that she deserved with two loving parents and a loving sibling. Dean wasn't sure what he would do if Castiel didn't want to stay, if he didn't feel the same, but he didn't need to think about it right then.

                With one last kiss to Mary's head, Dean left the room, closing the door behind him. He headed back to his room, rubbing his eyes and yawning. He was ready to just crawl into his bed and fall asleep, but when he came into his room, he was surprised to see Castiel sitting on his bed, illuminated by Dean's bedside lamp. Dean was a little startled as he paused in the doorway, eyes focused on Castiel, wondering what was going on. Castiel gave Dean a small smile, looking nervous.

                "Can we talk?" He asked, voice soft but firm. Dean nodded, closing the door before coming to sit next to the other man. A quiet passed between them before Castiel took a deep breath, looking up at Dean. "I've been looking for apartments, and I think I found one that I like."

                Dean could feel his heart sinking in his chest, his body feeling cold. Castiel wanted to leave. Castiel was going to be leaving. "O-Oh," he choked out, feeling tears burn at the back of his eyes. Castiel and his son were going to be leaving. Dean wasn't ready to say goodbye to them, but rather, he wanted to opposite.

                "I just wanted to make sure that you were still okay with paying for it. It's not that much, but I still don't have a job yet. I've started looking, I promise, but I'm just struggling a little with it." Castiel was picking nervously at a loose thread on the sleeve of his shirt, avoiding looking at Dean. Dean knew that Castiel was uncomfortable talking about this, and he understood, but he couldn't bring himself to give Castiel reassurances when he felt like his world was crumbling around him.

                "Of course I'll pay for it," he responded, amazed that his voice came out steady. Castiel's shoulders relaxed, and he gave Dean a smile. Dean couldn't seem to move his mouth to give him one back.

                "I just wanted to say thank you. For everything you've done for us so far, and everything you promise to do for us in the future. We wouldn't be here if you hadn't stepped up to take us in. Thank you," Castiel said, voice soft and light, making Dean's chest ache more than he wanted to admit. Castiel leaned over and wrapped his arms around Dean in a hug, then kissed his cheek shyly before he was gone, leaving Dean alone.

                Dean could feel the perfect world he'd been dreaming of crumbling around him, leaving behind an empty cave in its place. Soon, Castiel and Parker would be gone, and Dean and Mary would be alone in their big house, once again missing the other half of their perfect family.




                For the next two weeks while they waited to own the house, Dean threw himself into his work. He worked as long as he could to avoid going home, where he knew his perfect family was waiting. He tried his best to distance himself from Castiel and Parker, knowing it would hurt less when they walked out on him. When they disappeared from his and Mary's life and became nothing more than a memory.

                For those two weeks, Dean barely slept and barely ate, feeling like an exhausted mess all the time. Many of his coworkers, including Benny, had commented and suggested taking a couple sick days, but Dean didn't let himself.

                When he was home, he spent all his time playing with Mary, barely able to notice that she wasn't as lively as usual due to his lack of energy. Castiel cooked them dinner most nights, but Dean was never home in time to eat with them. He rarely saw Castiel and Parker in those two weeks, and although it made Dean feel ill, he knew it was for the best. He was trying to save himself from some heartache, so he wouldn't feel like he was losing everything by the time it actually happened.

                And he thought it was all going well, and that he could actually pull it off, until he saw Castiel packing what things they had been gifted by Dean. He nearly broke down into tears, heading into his bedroom to let it all out in private. What he hadn't been counting on was Mary, the little girl fed up with the situation.

                She marched herself into Dean's room, her little arms crossed over her chest, and stood at the foot of the bed, watching her father with the angriest glare she could manage. When Dean looked over at her, he could barely keep himself from laughing, but miraculously, he managed, sitting up. "Hi, baby," he greeted, offering her a smile.

                Mary just stomped her foot, mouth in a pout. "They're leaving," she said finally, not even explaining who she meant. Dean already knew.

                "I know."


                "Because Cas wants to live in the house we're working on buying. He doesn't want to live here anymore, baby." He rubbed his eyes tiredly, trying to force the tears away so Mary wouldn’t see how much this whole situation was truly taking effect.

                Mary softened a little, seeming to lose some of her composure. "He doesn't love you?" She asked, her little voice heartbroken. "He doesn't want to be my mommy?" Dean looked at her, feeling his heart clench in his chest. He'd thought this was hard on himself, but he'd never stopped to ask how Mary felt about the situation. He'd basically instilled hope into her of having a little brother and two loving parents, and he'd never thought of how disappointed she would be by the whole thing.

                "Oh, baby," he breathed, kneeling beside her and pulling her into his arms as soon as she burst into tears. Despite how she'd been mad at him, she gripped onto his shirt and sobbed into his shoulder, her little body shaking. Dean held her tightly and shushed her, pressing kisses to her head. "Hey, don't cry. Don't cry, baby. I haven't told him I want him to stay, okay? I'm really sorry. I'll tell him, okay? I promise I'll tell him."

                Dean scooped the upset child into his arms, carrying her to her bedroom and sitting in the bed with her. Mary's arms wrapped around his neck, her tears wetting his shirt, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He ran his fingers through her hair, just wanting to soothe her. Mary didn't cry often, but Dean hated when she did. It tore his heart in two and made him feel like a horrible parent. What kind of father was he to make Mary feel like she wasn't loved?

                By the time the tears were gone, Mary was asleep, body slumped against Dean's. Dean kissed her head and tucked her carefully into bed, laying the blanket over her body. "I'm so sorry," he whispered, moving her hair back from her face and neck. "I'm sorry."

                Quietly, Dean made his way out of the room, turning the lights off and closing the door most of the way. His steps were silent as he trudged towards Castiel's room, peeking his head inside. Castiel was facing away from him, packing all of Parker's toys into a box with the little boy's name on the side of it. The room was more bare than it had been in months, and Dean's heart broke a little more.

                "Cas?" He murmured, not wanting to startle the other man. Castiel still jumped a little anyway, but when he turned around, he had a tired smile on his face. "Hey, um, can we talk?"

                "Yes, of course. Parker's sleeping, can we talk in your room?" Castiel asked as he stood,  brushing off his pants. Dean nodded, leading Castiel into his room, sitting down on the bed. Castiel sank onto the bed next to him, his face scrunched up anxiously. "What do we need to talk about?"

                Dean fidgeted in his spot, and he couldn't look the other man in the eyes. How was he supposed to say this? He couldn't just blurt out his love. "You're leaving tomorrow, and I know I should have said this a long, long time ago because it's probably too late," Dean rambled, looking down at the bedspread. "And I know I've been so busy the last few weeks that you probably feel like this is about you, and you'd be right. This is about you."

                "You want to back out of the payment," Castiel interrupted, his face already losing all color. "You don't want to pay for the house anymore."

                "No," Dean shook his head before Castiel could even finish. "I mean, yes but no. It's not that I don't want you to have a home and for me to pay for it. Because if that's what you want, then I will give it to you. But the reason I'm not thrilled about it is because I don't want you to leave."

                "I. . . I don't understand. You don't want me to move out?"

                Dean took a moment to brave himself, then lifted his head, looking at Castiel as he reached out to take Castiel's hand. "The reason I've been avoiding you and Parker is because I don't want it to hurt when you leave. And I don't want you to leave because I'm so much more attached to you than I ever thought I would be. I-" Dean's face went red, and he tried to keep himself more composed. "I like you, Cas. A lot. Like, I think I could really find myself falling in love with you and wanting to marry you and spend the rest of my life holding you in my arms and giving you the life you deserve. The one you never got because of Crowley. And if you don't want that, then I'll respect that. I'll help you move into the house and you don't have to feel guilty about it. But I just can't let you walk away without you knowing how badly I want you to stay."

                Castiel looked like a fish out of water, mouth open and eyes wide with disbelief. Dean gave him a weak smile, feeling the confidence leaking out of him.

                "And I don't want you to feel like you owe me for anything. Because I gave you a lot of gifts, expecting nothing in return. So if you don't feel like you want a future with me, I won't be mad. I'll let you go. But if you want to stay with me, I'll be delighted. And you know Mary will, too. She's crazy about you, just as much as I am."

                Castiel turned away, and for a moment Dean thought he'd upset him. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before he could, he caught sight of Castiel's shoulder's shaking and heard a sob leave his mouth. Dean's instincts took over, and he reached out, setting a hand on Castiel's thigh.

                "Cas, I'm sorry. Please don't cry."

                Castiel turned to Dean, and to Dean's surprise, the other man had a smile on his face despite the tears. "You have no idea how much I didn't want to move out," he choked out, wrapping his arms around Dean's neck. Stunned, Dean wrapped his arms around Castiel's smaller body, hugging him tightly. "I've been falling for you ever since the day you took Parker to the store. Do you remember that day?"

                "Yeah, it was the first time that you had been away from Parker," Dean murmured, forehead crinkled and confused. "I didn't do anything special that day."

                Castiel gave Dean a soft, teary smile and nodded. "But you did. Mary told me later that night about the way you looked at Parker. The way you talked to him. The way you treated him as if he were your own. I knew right then that I would fall in love with you and your wonderful daughter. There's no-where I'd rather be in life than at your side, raising our children together. And the kids are already so attached to one another, I'd hate to separate them."

                Dean moved his hand to cup Castiel's soft cheek. The other man closed his eyes, leaning into the touch, and Dean could feel his heart reacting in his chest. Just the fact that Castiel was comfortable enough to feel safe around Dean made him want to cheer and dance. Castiel was so full of love and trust despite what he'd been through that it took Dean's breath away.

                "I promise I'll never lay a hand on you or your son," Dean breathed, his thumb brushing lightly over Castiel's lower lip. Castiel's blue eyes lifted to meet Dean's, his lips curling into a smile under Dean's finger.

                "I know you won't. That's not who you are."

                Dean smiled back at him, letting his hand melt down Castiel's face and to his shoulder, pulling him in carefully for a hug. Castiel was like clay, falling into Dean's arms like he belonged there. It made his heart pound in his ears to think that Castiel would be there for the rest of his life.

                "Sleep with me?" Dean murmured, cheeks heating up. "I mean, like, actual sleeping. We don't have to have sex until you're ready," he blurted. Castiel smiled up at Dean, eyes crinkling just slightly.

                "Of course."

                Dean broke into an excited grin, laying down in the bed and pulling open the covers for Castiel. The blue eyed man gave a shy smile, sliding into the spot next to Dean, allowing himself to be pulled against Dean's strong chest. Warmth surrounded him, and an easiness settled from his shoulders. With Crowley, it had never been like this. Dean touched him with gentle hands, and treated him like he was something special. It made his insides fuzzy.

                "Can I kiss you?" Dean whispered, breaking the silence as he cupped Castiel's face, tilting his head back. Castiel smiled, nodding and admiring Dean's beauty when he was shy and unsure of himself. They inched closer, and Castiel's eyes fluttered shut, putting his trust in Dean.

                Dean's lips hovered over the other man's, and before he could touch down, a wail sounded from the room next door. Castiel broke apart from Dean, glancing at the door nervously. "That's Parker."

                Dean smiled, squeezing Castiel's shoulder gently before giving him a nudge. "Go to him. I'll be right here when you get back."

                "You don't think you'll get sick of this?" Castiel asked, voice tinged with fear.

                Dean pretended to think about it before he shook his head. "Nah. He's my son, and I love him, even if he can be a pain in the ass sometimes." They both shared a smile before Castiel left the room to tend to his baby. Dean sat back in the bed, smiling to himself as he waited for the other man to come back. He knew he could get used to this.