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Crashing In

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“Castiel. Castiel, sweetheart.”

Castiel smiles softly, burying his face in the soft covers. It’s a game they play, Castiel pretending to be asleep and his partner coaxing him awake.

“Time to wake up, love.”

Castiel doesn’t move.

Fingers trail through his hair; kisses land on his temple, his cheeks, his neck. “We’re going to be late.”

Castiel hums and stirs, then settles into the blankets again, as if he hasn’t heard. 

“Love. Our flight leaves soon. Don’t you want to fly away together?”

They fly away together all the time, yet it doesn’t stop being exciting. Everything with his love is exciting. Still, he plays hard to get, sighing softly.

“I suppose if flying away with me doesn’t excite you, I’ll have to excite you in other ways,” his lover purrs, one hand cradling his face and the other gliding down his torso, sending shivers tingling through his body. He opens his eyes, smiling...

The buzzing of his phone wakes Castiel Novak from his recurring dream. He darts his hand out from under his covers, feeling for his phone on the nightstand. He squints at the display. 

Gabriel 5:35am: It’s another beautiful day! Have a good one!

“Yeah, beautiful for you,” he mutters, annoyed. His perpetual bachelor brother is in love, officially “tamed” and off the market. And he won’t shut up about it. “It’ll happen for you, too!” Gabe likes to tell him. But at thirty-six, though he’s certainly not old by any means (in fact, his brother is two years older), he doesn’t hold out a lot of hope. 

Castiel has tried it all—community potlucks, blind dates set up by well-meaning friends and family members, dating sites, bars. None of it has worked. He already knows the majority of the people in the small, coastal Maine town of Lupine Cove, and the rest of the people wandering their streets are tourists, only around for a week or two or maybe the summer. Add the fact that he’s gay and he really struggles to find someone, even as gay-friendly as the town is. (“But I did!” Gabe reminds him, which doesn’t help at all.)

He texts his brother a middle finger emoji, then turns off the alarm that’s about to go off and tosses his phone onto the glaringly empty side of his bed. He scowls at it. As if I need another reminder. God, my life is pathetic. He covers his face with his pillow, deciding he can rest his eyes for the five more minutes that Gabe’s text stole from him.

Five more minutes turns into twenty-five. “Shit!” he hisses when his eyes fly open and he realizes he’s late. 

He makes a mad dash through his house, taking a “dirtbag shower” (Gabe’s term) by spritzing body spray onto himself and combing water through his unruly hair before he shoves his feet into his sneakers. Dragging his keys from the table by the door, he jams them into his mouth and closes his entrance door with one hand while texting his mother, who “just wanted to see how you are,” with the other. He drops it in his haste, cracking the screen of the cheap smartphone he got with his prepaid plan from Wal-Mart. “Son of a—urrrrgh!” He shoves it into his pocket, then rushes toward his car—or tries to, but is unceremoniously yanked back by the storm door like a bad actor by a vaudeville hook. Growling, he unhooks his now-torn pocket from the handle and stomps to his car.

Sadly, he thinks once he’s driving to work in his Impreza, his rushed morning and breaking his phone will be the highlight of his day. He has nothing else to talk about. Nothing ever happens to him.


The door to Lupine Cove Market and Deli swings open with a slam just as Castiel is handing Mrs. Beliveau her purchases in her reusable bag. Their heads swivel to see Benny Lafitte, Fire Chief for the Lupine Cove Fire Department, rushing toward the register. “Cas,” he pants, as if he ran down here. Perhaps he did, with the station being just down the road. “We got a situation.”

“Okay?”

“There’s a baby.”

“A...baby.”

“Yeah. We got a baby. At the station.”

It takes Castiel a moment to realize what Benny is trying to say to him. “There was a baby brought for safe haven?” Castiel had been one of the citizens to help the fire and police stations join the Safe Haven program, allowing people to surrender their newborns without penalty or questions. 

Benny nods. “Yeah. I’m shittin’ myself, brother. Me ‘n’ Zeke don’t know what to do with a baby. He’s sittin’ there with him, and the baby seems all right, but we ain’t got a clue other than we gotta do somethin’ with ’im. You gotta come down. Please.”

Castiel shakes his head, attempting to clear the chaos from his mind. He turns to address his employees. “Okay. Um, Jack, Patience, keep an eye on things, will you?”

“On it!” they cry, Jack moving to the register while Patience stays in the deli area, where they make sandwiches, pizzas, and fried foods for townspeople and leaf-peeping tourists. He nods at them both, knowing he can trust them, and follows Benny.

Five minutes later, he’s face to face with a tiny infant. “Hello,” he whispers in awe as he takes the baby from a panicked Zeke’s arms. 

“The mom brought ‘im in with nothin’ but those pajamas and that blanket,” Benny says, pointing to an old, pilled blanket with Pikachu printed all over it wrapped around the child.

“It’s cold out,” Castiel frowns. Though it’s only October, the wind off the bay is biting hard today.

“Didn’t have much, maybe.”

Castiel nods. “You called Human Services?”

“Yeah. Called Charlie directly, actually. She’s on her way. Had to grab some stuff for the little guy first.”

Charlie Bradbury works for the Department of Health and Human Services, in the Child and Family Division. She’s also one of Castiel’s closest friends. “Good. In the meantime, let’s hope he doesn’t have to eat.”

No sooner does he say the words than the baby begins to wail, plaintive cries that pierce Castiel’s heart. “Damn. Run up to the grocery store and buy a bottle and some formula,” he urges the men. “One of you, go!”

Zeke takes off, leaving Benny and Castiel alone with the hungry baby. Castiel shushes him, offering him his knuckle to suck on as he rocks him. The baby cries around it. The men look at each other helplessly. 

“So, how’s your day been?” Benny tosses out.

Castiel looks down at the boy in his arms. “Eventful.”

“Huh. Yeah. Mine too. Go figure.”

They alternate sitting and pacing until Zeke returns, formula and bottle in the crook of his arm.

“Go wash it,” Castiel instructs Zeke, jutting his chin toward the bottle. “Benny, get the formula ready.”

“Man, I didn’t have to do this stuff. You do it; I don’t know what I’m doin’.”

Castiel stares at him incredulously. At least Benny has experience with young children, having gotten together with his now-wife Andrea when Andrea’s daughter was three. Castiel’s only fostered one kid, his employee Jack Kline, and the twenty-year-old was sixteen when he was placed with him. He only became his foster parent because Jack’s mother, Kelly, was a friend and he would’ve become a ward of the state otherwise, her parents unable to care for the teen after Kelly passed away. “I have no more experience with babies than you do, but we can both read instructions. So take the baby or make the formula.”

Benny raises his hands in surrender as he takes the formula and follows Zeke to the station’s kitchenette. 

“It’s gonna be okay,” Castiel coos as the baby’s wails increase. “I hope.”

Within minutes, Benny is carrying a bottle to him. “It’s warm. Google said to test it on the wrist. Felt okay to me.”

Castiel does the same, then holds it to the baby’s mouth. After a bit of adjusting, he starts sucking on the bottle and calms down. Castiel calms, too, his adrenaline dropping as the boy settles in. He releases a gusty sigh. “There you go,” he murmurs. “That’s it. Poor thing. He doesn’t look very old.”

“Three days. Still got the clip thing on the belly button.”

Castiel’s eyes widen. “Damn. Did she say why she was giving him up, Benny?”

“She just said she’s in a bad situation. Not from around here. She’s from The County,” he explains, referring to Aroostook, the northernmost county of Maine. “On her way south somewhere to start a new life, she said. Picked Lupine Cove ‘cause it sounded pretty and we had the Safe Haven program.”

“And the father?”

He shrugs slowly. “She doesn’t know who he is. Got the feeling that was part of the ‘bad situation’ thing.”

Nodding, Castiel shifts his hold on the boy and gazes at him. “She must’ve come right from the hospital, or pretty damn close.” The boy fusses and formula starts spilling from his mouth. Castiel waits a moment, but when he doesn’t stop fussing, he puts the bottle aside and picks the baby up, rubbing his back to soothe him. The baby burps. Castiel hadn’t even thought of that, but he remembers now that’s a thing you’re supposed to do for babies. He’s proud of himself for doing it (even by complete accident). The boy burps again, then makes a wet sound that has Castiel craning his neck back to see what’s happening.

“Got something on your shoulder, dude,” Zeke notes wryly. It’s regurgitated formula, by the looks of it, and it stinks. Castiel frowns in disgust, then moves the baby back into his arm and dabs at his mouth with his thumb, wiping the residual on his pants. The baby resumes crying. He tries the bottle again, and the infant sucks at it eagerly.

“You’re pretty good at this, Cas,” Benny says. 

“I don’t know about that.” 

They repeat the cycle a couple more times, the baby seemingly better for a bit, then ramping up again toward the end. He’s finished nearly the entire bottle when Castiel thinks that perhaps he’s had enough. He’s proven right a moment later when the boy vomits all over both of them. 

“Damn,” Benny and Zeke declare simultaneously.

“Ah, you’ve been initiated, I see,” Charlie calls with a smirk. The three men turn toward her as she strides to them, bags in hand. “I got stuff. Guess you beat me to it, though.”

“Just the formula,” Castiel explains. “He was hungry.”

“I see that. How much did you give him?”

Grimacing, Castiel answers, “The...whole bottle?” He holds up a four ounce bottle.

“Yeah, too much.”

“I see that.”

“Mmm,” she grins, suppressing some snarkier comment, Castiel is certain. “You look good with a baby in your arms, though, Cas.”

Castiel raises an unimpressed brow.

“You do.”

“I’m completely incompetent.”

“You’re not completely incompetent. Just mostly incompetent.”

“Thank you. That boosts my self-esteem to astronomical levels.”

She cackles and messes his hair. “No problem. So. Let’s talk about how this little one came to be here.”

Since Castiel has nothing to do with the conversation, he cleans up the vomit as best as he can, then lets his attention drift to the boy who’s just starting out in the world. He’s falling asleep, lids fluttering, breaths gradually lengthening. His hair is dark and plentiful, his skin reddish-purple and littered with tiny white dots on his face, reminding Castiel of acne. He has almost no eyebrows, his nose is broad and flat, and he has thin, pink lips. He looks grumpy as hell, like a little old man who’s settling back into an interrupted nap. Castiel chuckles quietly, thinking he probably looked very similar just this morning. He sneaks a hand under the blanket to feel one of the baby’s feet. It’s cold and so tiny. Castiel has the overwhelming urge to cup it in his hand and blow warm breath onto it. Instead, he rubs it, trying to stimulate the blood. He does the same with the other, gritting his teeth when the baby stirs and squeals and relaxing when he settles back down.

His phone buzzes. Thinking something might be wrong at the store, he digs it out of his (wet) pocket and checks it. The screen is splintered, but he can still read the multiple missed text messages:

Jack 1:32pm: Is the baby ok?

Patience 1:34pm: We wanna see the baby! Send pics!

Gabriel 2:05pm: What’s this I hear about a baby?

Jody 2:21pm: I heard about the baby. I’m sending Donna over.

Ana Jo 2:27pm: Why am I just hearing about you having a baby now?

Anna 2:33pm: What’s this baby nonsense I heard?

Castiel sighs. Word travels fast in a small town. He tucks the phone away, deciding to wait to answer everyone until Donna comes and Charlie decides what’s going to happen next. 

He hopes the little guy gets a good home to go to.

When Officer Donna Hanscum arrives, she beelines for the baby. “Well, look at him!” she squeals. “What a cutie!”

“Kind of ugly, actually,” Zeke says, looking him over. Castiel himself was thinking the baby wouldn’t win any pageants, but now he finds himself feeling defensive. All babies look a little weird at first, he thinks. His scowl matches Donna’s.

“Now you stop it,” she scolds him. “If you’d just come out of a dark, wet place after nine months, you wouldn’t be looking your best, either. He just needs some fresh air and good food.”

“It’s been over twenty-five years since Zeke came out of a dark, wet place, and he still doesn’t look better,” Castiel snarks.

Charlie and Donna screech and Benny guffaws as Zeke shoots him a sarcastic “Ha ha, funny, Cas” that satisfies Castiel’s petty need to get him back for his unnecessary comment. Like Donna said, the baby just needs to grow a little, that’s all.

Donna strokes a finger along the baby’s ear. “Well, we oughta figure out what this kiddo needs, huh?”

Two hours later, there’s a consensus among the four people at the long dining table about just what—or, rather, who—this baby needs.

“I don’t know the first thing about babies!” Castiel cries when Charlie, Donna, Benny, and Zeke all decide that he should take the boy.

“I wouldn’t say that’s true,” Benny comments, pointing at him as he changes the baby’s diaper on the worn gray-blue couch in the station’s community room. “Looks like you got this thing under control.”

“Anyone can change a diaper.”

“Not anyone,” Charlie says, rolling wide eyes that have probably seen way more than Castiel wants to think about. “Cas, I really think you can do this.”

“No. I can’t. I don’t know anything about babies, I have a business to run, I rent a shoebox...how the hell am I going to take care of a baby?”

“The same way other single parents do.”

“Like it’s that easy.”

Charlie pushes her phone and laptop across the table, folding her hands and gazing at him earnestly. “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said I think you can do this.”

“I really have to disagree.”

“Please?” She blinks large puppy eyes at him. “You’re already licensed as a foster parent. You’re right here in town, so I’m nearby if you need anything. You can take him to work with you. I mean, it’s not like your boss is gonna fire you.”

Since he’s the boss, Castiel guesses not.

“You’ll get a stipend from the state for his care, and we’ll provide the stuff you need. He’ll have health insurance through us, too, and I’ll be at your service for as long as you need. And look, you already like him.”

Castiel glares at her, but turns soft eyes to the baby, who looks back. An involuntary smile creeps onto his face before he shoves the smile and his feelings aside with a frown. “I can’t. I...I don't have anything to offer him, Charlie. Living in a tiny cottage, coming to work with me? What kind of life is that? God, I can barely stand how boring my life is.”

“Chance to add a little zing,” Donna grins.

“It wouldn’t have to be forever. You’d just be fostering him until I can get a permanency plan in place. Please?”

He sighs through his nose, staring at the four gathered at the table, then at the helpless, adorable baby who would definitely win all the pageants, damn it. “Who names him?”

“You can,” Charlie grins.

He’s screwed. He’s absolutely screwed, and he knows it. “Okay, fine. But just for now.”

“Just for now,” Charlie agrees, happily pulling her computer back to her to start the process.

Castiel picks up the infant, snuggling him close to keep him warm (and carefully avoiding the cold wet patch on his clothes). “I guess you’re stuck with me,” he murmurs. “Sorry.”