Sam wakes up, groggy and crick-necked, beside Eileen. Of course she’s taken all the pillows, somehow – she always does. But then, Sam gets all the blankets, so it evens out. She yawns, rolls over and kisses Eileen softly, and then goes to the kitchen.
Dean and Cas are there already, silently drinking coffee with their legs entwined under the table. They’re smiling at each other. Sam goes to the counter where the French press sits, and pours herself a mugful. Cas breaks his gaze from Dean, and smiles at her.
And Sam, pitching her voice up like she’d been learning how to do; “Well enough. Eileen stole all the pillows again.”
Dean laughs. “Cas has the same problem.”
Cas kicks Dean under the table, at that, but Dean turns to him, serious. “You know, I’ll need to keep the pillows to myself from next Tuesday.”
Cas lowers his voice, as well, when he replies. “Dean, I know – I’m sleeping in a spare room for a few weeks, you know that. I wouldn’t want to interfere with your recovery.”
He’s so sincere, and Dean smiles so gently at him, that Sam sighs and turns away.
“You two are so annoying. I’m going back to bed.”
“Wait!-” Dean calls, “take some coffee for Eileen!”
Once Dean has poured another cup for Eileen, and pressed it into Sam’s hands, he sits back down with Cas, who slurps his own coffee loudly.
“Stop slurping,” Dean says, so Cas only does it more loudly. “No, Cas, really, I want to talk to you.”
“All right,” Cas smiles, puts his mug down. “What is it, love?”
“I – I don’t want you to sleep in a different room after my surgery.”
Cas frowns and tilts his head, birdlike. “But Dean – I can’t share the bed with you, I mean – you know how I sleep, I’d disturb your stitches, or something.”
“I know, Cas. I just – I don’t want you out of the room.”
It takes a moment, but Cas nods.
“I want to keep you close by, Cas, do you understand?”
“I understand, Dean. It’s okay. I’m sure Jack and Eileen would help me put a spare mattress out on the floor, or something. We’ll find a way.”
Cas leans over the table and kisses Dean’s forehead, and Dean closes his eyes, breathes.
“By the way, Dean,” Cas starts, and Dean looks up. “Will you go and check if Jack’s awake? My leg is uh – ‘giving me shit’ this morning.”
And Dean rolls his eyes, and sighs, and makes a drama out of standing up, but he goes. Cas hears his footsteps echo down the corridor, then a gentle knock on a door. Then, Dean’s voice, quiet and kind, and Jack’s – slurred and thick, with waking – before Dean’s footsteps come back to him.
“They’re getting up,” Dean says, sitting down. “They were watching Fullmetal Alchemist on their phone again.”
Cas sighs. “They’re not old enough for that, I’ve told them before.”
“I know, love, I did tell them you said so.”
Dean pours himself another coffee before they hear Jack’s footpads tap down the corridor, and into the kitchen.
“Morning, Jackie,” Dean says, as Cas smiles, “Hi, Jack.”
“Morning, Dad,” Jack mumbles to Cas, and to Dean; “Morning, Mom.”
Jack goes to the fridge, and gets themself an orange juice.
“Jack,” Cas starts, a little gravel in his voice. “Dean tells me you were watching that TV show on your phone again.”
“Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.” Jack mutters, sheepish into their juice.
“Ah. So you know, then, that it’s at least for ages thirteen plus?”
Jack nods. “Sorry, Dad, Cas.”
Walking over, Dean ruffles their hair. “It’s ok, kid. Just don’t do it again. You can watch it in a few years, anyway.”
“I guess. The thing is, though-” and, when neither of their parents look to be about to disagree with them, “there’s nothing in it that shocks me. I was god, Dads.”
At this, Dean looks so dejected and awkward Cas has to step in. “Yes, Jackie. But you’re not, any more – you get to be a kid now. And that doesn’t last for ever.”
“True that,” Dean says, thickly. “Make the most of it.”
They all stand in silence for another minute, while Dean fixes Jack’s cereal.
Jack sits down at the table, with Cas, who asks; “Why do you like this show, if it reminds you so much of being god?”
They frown for a moment – just like their Dad, Dean thinks – before answering. “I guess – it’s about this kid who’s very powerful, and his brother. They remind me of…me. The brother especially. Even though he’s not the powerful one. Because, you see-” and Cas nods along, looking focused, “-he doesn’t have a body. He lost his body, trying to save his mom, and he’s stuck living as this suit of armour, and everyone thinks he’s the powerful one, not his brother. Even though I like the brother too, because I remember what it was like, being powerful like that. But…more than that, I remember what it was like to feel like a soldier, with a body that was just made for fighting. Dad, can my middle name be Al? When I get a middle name? That’s the armour brother.”
And they look like they’re about to say something else, but Dean – having crossed the space in a moment – wraps them in a crushing hug. Jack turns to Cas, mystified –
“Dad, what’s-?” But Cas just smiles at them fondly, sadly.
“I’m so sorry, kid, I’m sorry,” Dean mutters into Jack’s neck. “I’m sorry, kid.”
Jack worms one of their arms out from under Dean, wraps it around his shoulders. “It’s ok, Dad. I’m a kid now.”
From over Jack’s shoulder, Dean catches Cas’ eye, and smiles through the haze of tears clouding his eyes.
There’s a cough in the doorway.
As they break apart, Eileen walks into the kitchen, greets them, starts making sandwiches.
Jack stands up. “Can I help, mom?” And she grins, and hands them the butterknife.
“What?” She signs, as Cas starts up, “it’s blunt, they’ll be fine.”
“What’re the sandwiches for, Eileen?” Dean asks, coming over the counter to pick at the fillings.
“They’re for me and my girlfriend, brother-in-law. Not for you.”
“Tragedy,” Dean mutters.
“My girlfriend and I,” Eileen declares, peeling slices of ham apart, “are going out today, for a picnic.”
Jack perks up. “Can I come?” they ask Cas, who shakes his head gently.
“Not today, Jack. Eileen and Sam are going to have a day on their own. We can go for a picnic another day, if you like?”
“Ok!” Jack says, brightly, and goes back to buttering bread.
A few minutes later, Sam walks in, wearing a sky-blue sundress, and sandals. She’d been eyeing it in town a few weeks ago, but had been afraid to buy it. In the end, Cas had bought it for her, telling the cashier very insistently and sincerely that “it’s for my sister-in-law,” while Sam had stood behind him, awkwardly.
It suits her very well; the skirt flows long below her knees, and the colour is wonderful. Dean tells her so immediately, springing to life as she walks into the room.
“Sam! You look…fantastic. Really good. That dress is uh…well, it’s pretty damn good. Suits you, dude. Sister.”
Sam rolls her eyes, but then smiles, blushes a little. Eileen comes over and leans up to kiss her on the cheek. “Dean’s right. You look great.”
They all chip in with making sandwiches then, except for Cas, whose leg hurts too much. Soon enough, they’ve packed them all up, with some bags of chips and bottles of beer and water, and some other things Sam wanted – fresh fruit, lemonade – and Sam and Eileen say their goodbyes, and go out to Eileen’s car.
Back in the kitchen, Jack excuses themself to go and play with their lego.
With a hand behind his shoulders, Dean helps Cas stand up, letting him put his weight on him.
“Come on, old man. You’ve got to have your gel for the day.”
“I know, Cas. You’d never let me forget it.”
“Only because I’ve made the same mistake. You know, when I was human, the first time, when I worked in that gas station, I completely forgot about it.”
“You did?” Dean is incredulous. “Damn, Cas, you should have said. I didn’t even know, then, that you were-, that Jimmy was-”
“Transgender, yes. I suppose I knew at first, when I took him, but – you forget things, when you’re human, and along the way that was something I forgot. It was very strange.”
“I’ll say, Cas. Well, don’t forget it now. Come on.”
And they shuffle away down the corridor, to their own bathroom, where Dean takes the tub of testogel from the medicine cabinet and asks Cas to roll up his sleeve; it’s cold, Cas shivers at it, like he always does, but he lets Dean rub it into his arm, ever so gently.