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A Haven for Real

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The little cry, more tentative than angry or scared, was still in Dean’s ears. Sam had called him and despite the hour, Dean was welcome to join him and Eileen as she gave birth, “As long as you stay on the cheerleading side, not the business end,” Eileen signed, before she groaned again.

He’d held her hand (with her permission, of course) and encouraged her. Once, she’d winked at him. It had been amazing. Sam loved him so much he had wanted to share his child’s birth and Eileen was cool enough that she’d let him, and it had been, without question, one of the peak experiences of his life.

“Do you want to hold her?” Eileen said, and Dean felt two tears leak out as he gingerly took the baby in his arms for the first time and looked at her.

Mary’s little face had been squished and thoughtful, maybe a little grouchy. And then she’d opened her eyes and put Dean under a life-long spell. Mary looked right at him and figured him out right away, and it was wonderful.

A lot of people (basically, all of Eileen’s relatives, who, being on another continent, weren’t getting much of a vote) thought it was nuts that she was letting her brother-in-law (general consensus: ew!) into the delivery room. They were perplexed and unhappy that there was to be no delivery room, just their bedroom at home. Dean got a chuckle every time Eileen described her relatives being freaked out that she was going to die in childbirth. Eileen was as tough as an old boot; it hardly seemed likely.

After the birth, he felt high, altered from normal reality, altered from the privilege of being there, of holding little Mary. He felt in tune with the whole world, for the first time in years. Dean left the happy new family and their cheerful, competent midwives to unwind and bond and he staggered out of the apartment at three in the morning, stunned by joy.

If he hadn’t had Baby, his vintage Impala, to cradle him, and keep him firmly in the here and now, he might have floated all the way up to the clouds to hang out with the angels, he was so happy.

He was driving across the last bridge before his apartment, and with a certainty he could not justify but was compelled to act on, he knew the man standing looking over that parapet was going to jump into the river.

The brakes protested as he was thrown against his seatbelt, and then he leapt out and ran, mindless with the urgency of the moment.

Just before the man went over into the icy water, Dean jumped up and grabbed the back and belt loop of his trench coat with both hands, and the two of them tumbled onto the sidewalk. They were safe, but winded. Dean moved first and put his arms around the man. He said, in the kindest voice he could use, “It’s going to be okay.”

The man didn’t answer. He might have fainted.

He was too thin for his height - he felt like rope wrapped on rebar under his clothes - and he smelled sour.

Dean dragged the man to his car and got him into the passenger side about the time he came to. Dean handed him a water bottle and said, “Do up your seatbelt.”

“Who are you?” the man said in a deep voice, that shook a few times. Under the dome light he looked to be in his thirties, quite tanned, and worn by worry, or work. “Where are you taking me?” He opened the water bottle with fumbling hands, and drank thirstily, never taking his eyes from Dean.

Score one for Dean Winchester, I can tell when someone’s dehydrated!

Smiling internally, Dean said, “Dean Winchester, my place. You are going to have a shower, a change of clothes and a meal, and then we’ll figure out where you’re going next.” He flicked his gaze over the man’s face. “You got a name?”

He sounded to Dean like he’d been born in a different era. “I was born James, but I received the name of an angel, and I am called Castiel.”

“You some kind of a religious nut?” Dean said after a second.

The man stiffened. “I’m not crazy!” Then he seemed cowed, for some reason, and slumped in his seat a little. Apologetically, he said, “I was told that I would be abused for being set apart by God.”

“Are you gonna to try to convert me?” Dean said. His tone had changed; he was obviously joking.

“I do not have the skill,” the man said in his low, almost emotionless voice, and Dean said, “Ya got me there, pal,” and laughed. Then he looked at Castiel’s stricken face, with its hollowed-out blue eyes, and laughed again. “Relax, man, you can worship however you like, as long as you’re not noisy about it.”

“We worship in silence. And for your information, I’m not likely to try to convert you to the ways of the people who threw me out.” He seemed almost snarky.

Dean chuckled again. “Well, thank God for that. So you’re homeless?”

“I can’t return to Haven. I have been expelled, because I am a freak who is an abomination to the Lord,” as if this was an acceptable explanation for his trouble.

“Man, you don’t want to go back there anyway, if that’s how they talk about you,” Dean said, screwing his face up for a second.

“No, I don’t,” Castiel said, looking straight out the windshield. “Brother Jerome said, ‘You’re hosed.’”

“Did you have any luggage?”

Castiel slowly shook his head. “No,” he said after a pause.

“And no money,” Dean said.

“No,” Castiel said. “They sent me away in nothing but my clothes.”

Dean ‘hmmed’. “Good thing, too, or I wouldn’t have had enough to grab hold of to keep you in the land of the living.”

There was an obviously unhappy pause. Castiel exhaled through his nostrils and shifted against the upholstery. Finally he said, “If I was worthy I would have been upheld by angels,” Castiel said.

“Only angel that applies in this case is the one that appears on tombstones,” Dean said callously. “If you jump off a bridge and don’t take precautions like ropes or bungee-cords or something, you’re gonna die, or spend life in state care as an indigent high quadraplegic. Trust me on this. I have friends who are social workers and they tell me shit that makes my blood run cold.”

“Social workers are the highest form of evil that the state can unleash upon a religious family,” Castiel stated calmly, as if it were a fact.

“Social workers,” Dean said flatly, to confirm. “Do you believe that?”

There was a pause. Castiel sounded uneasy and apologetic again. It bordered on being creepy, but it occurred to Dean that this poor guy was having to take in a lot at once, as well as possibly having the spins from being hungry and thirsty. “I don’t know if I do. It was what I was taught.”

“Well, maybe you can avoid having that opinion, out loud, around me and my friends,” Dean said, allowing himself to be annoyed without telling Castiel what to think. “This is us.” He parked and clicked off the ignition.

“I like your car,” Castiel said. He was obviously trying to play nice with Dean and didn’t really know how. “It’s not plastic or overly flashy.”

Dean stroked the dashboard tenderly. “Don’t listen to the mean man, Baby, you’ve got all the flash you need in your shiny chrome. And speaking of Baby, I’ll tell you why I was passing by just now. I just got back from where my bro and sis-in-law had a baby, and I am now an uncle, and that’s making me feel pretty damned good.”

There was a smile. It changed Castiel’s face dramatically. “Congratulations.”

“Tonight, I got to be in the room when a baby was born,” Dean said proudly.

“What was it like?” Castiel said, sounding awe-struck.

Dean got out of the car and Castiel followed him. “Fantastic,” Dean said. “I feel fantastic! like the world just became a better place, and I’m a better person just because Mary is in it.”

“Mary,” Castiel breathed.

“Now don’t you go getting religious on me, she’s named after her grandmother,” Dean said. He realized he was practically bellowing, and thought of his neighbours, and how it was Oh! Dark Thirty and so he added, much more quietly, “Let’s get inside.”