“Dean,” Castiel whined for the fifth time since they had set off. “Where are we going?”
“Stop asking,” Dean said firmly. “I told you to just wait.”
“Why can’t you just tell me?”
“Come on,” he said and raised his brows at him with his most charming smile, “don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you,” Castiel said, slightly too seriously, and sighed. “But I would still like to know where we are headed.”
“And then what?” Dean huffed, looking at the street again. “What does it help you when you know, huh?”
“I could say ‘no’. Or at least prepare.”
“Oh, you’re not gonna say no,” Dean said with a shake of his head. “Believe me. And you won’t need any preparing.”
“Just tell me–”
“You’re like a child, you know that?” he asked, turning to Cas in the passenger's seat. “We’re almost there, okay? And it’s gonna be awesome.”
“But what am I supposed to do there?”
“Shouldn’t I know ahead?”
“It's not a hunt, is it?”
“Cas,” Dean said with a frown, “you really think I’m gonna take you to a fight and not tell you?”
“I don’t know where else you’d take me.”
“Wow,” Dean said numbly. “That’s kinda messed up. No, Cas, we are not going to a hunt or fight. We’re doing something fun. Okay?”
“What fun?” he asked, furrowing his brows further.
“We almost there, all right?” Dean asked with a sigh. “You’ll be able to hold out.”
“We are in the middle of nowhere,” Castiel mumbled, turning his head to scan the bushes and trees flying by. “Shouldn’t we go and eat something first?”
Instead of answering, Dean only quietly tapped his fingers against the steering wheel to the beat of the song and noiselessly moved his lips along to the lyrics.
“Dean,” Castiel prompted again.
“I heard you.”
Still only the sound of music came in reply.
“You don’t want to answer. Fine,” he said with a sigh, turning to stare back out of the passenger’s window, until the Impala turned a corner and finally slowed down.
He spun his head around for a moment, before spotting the bright neon sign above their heads.
“So, we are going to eat something before wherever you are taking me.”
“No,” Dean said slowly. “This is where I’m taking you.”
“Not just any diner,” Dean said, a wide grin spreading on his face. “These guys are awesome, I’m telling you. If you thought you like my burgers, these are going to blow your mind. And just everything here is so good.”
His grin was met with a slightly puzzled expression, fixed on him without the slightest change since they had stopped. Dean's smile faltered.
“Unless,” he added, stammering slightly, “you would prefer something else. I think there’s this fancy restaurant not too far. I thought that would be a bit weird, and we are not really dressed for it, I guess, but we could try. I bet they have great steak and… other stuff.”
“Why would that be weird?” Castiel asked, his expression becoming even more puzzled.
“Well, because– I don’t know.”
“Then why did you take me here?” he asked, staring back at the building. “We drove nearly an hour for this.”
“Yeah, well,” Dean began quietly, slowly sinking into himself, but was cut off by Castiel.
“Your cooking is excellent, and I know most of the places around the bunker are sufficient when you don’t want to cook.”
“Well, yeah,” but Dean said, and blinked at him, “but today I thought you should have something more than just good or ‘sufficient.’ I want great, you know?”
“Because you deserve it,” Dean said diplomatically and shrugged. “So, this okay or you want something else?”
“No, it’s great,” he said quickly. “I just still don’t understand why you would make all that effort.”
“Ah, I will explain later,” he waved off and got out the car. Castiel only slowly following him outside and to the diner.
Once their were stuffed, they heaved themselves back out of the impala and onto the muddy path in front of the bunker. “You still didn’t tell me why you did all that,” Castiel reminded Dean again. He frowned and trotted after Dean, crossing the short, muddy path to the bunker doors.
“Yeah, I know.”
With a resigned sigh, he dropped his shoulders. “You are being very strange today.”
“I’m not strange,” Dean said, his voice pitching slightly too high, and shot Castiel an offended look as he went through the keys.
“Then why don’t you tell me anything?”
“You will see.”
“Now you can’t even tell me why you don’t tell me anything?”
“Kind of,” Dean shrugged.
“Oh come on,” he groaned. “Can we at least get inside first?”
“Fine,” he sighed. “But I still want an answer.”
“Believe me, you’ll get it,” Dean promised. “Let’s just get in first.”
He pressed his lips firmly together and turned slightly. Letting his eyes wander over the drought bushes on the other side of the path, he let out a long breath and followed Dean when he heard the door push open. Only when he crossed the threshold he tore his eyes off the plants and stopped dead at the sight of the multi coloured boxes spread on the table, at which Kevin, Sam and Charlie sat, beaming up at him from below.
“What–” he asked, furrowing his brows, and spun his head to Dean, whose grin was even wider than theirs. “What is this?”
“Your birthday party,” Dean grinned. “Well, we didn’t know if you actually have a birthday, or when that would be, so we just made one up, based on when we first met, remember? Because I assume that’s the day you got your body and– well, it’s kind of like birth, right? If it’s completely wrong and you have or want another birthday, we’ll just celebrate again, but this way it was a surprise.”
“Oh,” Castiel said slowly, a smile beginning to curl his lips as he nodded and turned to the table again. “That really wasn’t necessary,” he said quietly.
“Yeah it was,” Charlie called up and laughed.
“So, that’s why you took me all the way to that diner.”
“Yeah,” Dean shrugged with a smile. “Birthday dinner is a must. And now,” he added, turning Castiel to the stairs and led him towards it, “time for presents.”
“You shouldn’t have gotten me anything,” he said with a frown.
“Don’t worry,” Sam huffed. “It’s nothing too great, really.”
“We didn’t really know what to get you,” Dean admitted with a nod. “You’re really hard to shop for, you know that?”
“No, it’s fine. Just don’t be disappointed.”
“I don’t think I will be,” he said with the hint of a smile.
“Good, because some of it is clothes and nobody likes getting clothes.”
“Don’t spoil the surprise,” Charlie said, rolling her eyes with a smile.
“Oh yeah, so sorry.” Dean deadpanned when they landed on the ground.
“Most stuff’s not that special,” Kevin added with a weak smile, “but we tried.”
“I promise, it’s fine,” Castiel said quietly, grinning at his own feet. “Honestly, it’s already amazing you thought of this in the first place.”
“Of course we did,” Sam said with a huff. “It would be unfair if we all had birthdays except for you.”
“Though technically, I don’t,” he said, raising his brows slightly.
“Yeah, well, it’s still unfair,” Dean decided.
“And all people do, so you get one,” Sam said added with a smile.
“Just start unpacking already,” Charlie said, shoving a package his way.
“No, don’t start with the biggest,” Kevin said, shoving it back and instead handed Castiel a much smaller, flat package. “You save the biggest for last and first open all the small ones.”
“Why?” Castiel asked, furrowing his brows at him.
“More fun,” he shrugged with a smile. “Then you got the big thing to look forward to.”
“The bigger ones will hardly be better than the smaller ones,” Castiel said seriously. “Right?”
“Yeah, whatever,” Kevin said, a bit put off, slumping over the table. “Just start unpacking already.”
For another second he held a slightly confused look at him, before he returned to the package, and began to unwrap it, carefully pulling the corners off without ripping the paper.
The silence spread between them, the others watching him, until Dean rolled his eyes with a groan. “Come on,” he said. “Just rip it apart.”
“No,” he said determinately, focussing on the paper.
“You put so much effort into this,” he mumbled, opening the last corner, “I don’t want to ruin it.”
“Well, you have permission to.”
“No,” he just repeated quietly finally opening the paper completely, and pulled out a small, golden frame surrounding a picture of the entire group. A warm, soft smile spread on his face, his lips curling up as he stared down at the picture in his hand, his eyes beginning to glow.
“I didn’t know if you’d like it,” Kevin shrugged.
“I do,” he said softly, still unable to tear his eyes off the picture. “This is wonderful, thank you.”
“Good,” he said, relaxing a bit, and let a smile cross his face. “Do you guys have any idea how hard it is to find good picture of you? Or any picture, actually.”
“Where’d you get that anyway?” Sam asked, tilting his head to inspect the picture with furrowed brows.
“You have no idea,” he huffed.
“Probably better to keep it that way, huh?” he asked quietly, and Kevin nodded with raised brows and wide eyes.
“Doesn’t matter,” Castiel mumbled, and smiled at the picture again. “It’s great.”
“Come on,” Charlie said, pushing the next package across the table. “Next one.”
Reluctantly he put down the photo and began to unwrap another present, just as careful as before, but slightly faster, having gotten the hang of it, and unwrapped a stack of mostly brightly coloured shirts with small figures and mushrooms on them.
“Oh,” he said, another smile spreading on his face and revealing his teeth.
“I thought you could need some new clothes, and why not something really fashionable.”
“That’s probably true,” he admitted with a shrug. “I like them.” A smile spread on his face as he ran the material through his fingers. “They are so soft.”
“And I bet you look dashing in them,” she added.
“We will see about that,” he said quietly, placing the shirts next to the photo, and pulled the next present up, wrapped slightly more sloppy than the one before, and after a few seconds of wrestling with the paper under the eyes of the others, pulled out another stack of clothes, jeans and a few darker shirts.
“It– It’s not much,” Dean mumbled, scratching his neck. “Guess I thought the same as Charlie, just, just different clothes.”
“I like them,” Castiel said quietly, again feeling the fabric for a moment, flashed Dean a smile, and returned to them, tilting his head at the black line art on the chest of one of the shirts. “Icarus?” he asked.
“Uh, yeah,” Dean replied sheepishly, his teeth clenched. “It’s a band logo,” he hurried to explain, noticing the irony of giving someone whose grace and wings had just been torn out the image of Icarus falling to earth.
“Oh,” Castiel said with a nod, and smiled weakly.
“We gotta work on your music taste anyway,” Dean detracted quickly, “that’s a good reminder.”
Sam huffed once, watching Dean for a second, before turning back front and shoving a small box into Castiel’s hands. “Come on, next one!”
He went on to unpack a small, potted flower from Charlie and Sam, a pack of coffee from Dean, and a few books from Kevin.
Carefully Sam came back into the room, his knees bent slightly to keep the plate stable, and set it up on the table.
“Cake?” Castiel asked, furrowing his brows. “I already ate too much at the diner.”
“Well, now you’re gonna get cake too,” Sam said with a smile, and stemmed his hands into his sides. “And you have to eat it.”
“If you like cake. We could always get you something else, you know,” Dean said quietly, dropping himself against the table next to Cas and nodded at it. “They wanted cake. But you’re the birthday boy.”
“Cake is just fine,” he said quietly, a weak smile on his face, “but I am full.”
“You have an extra stomach for dessert,” Charlie said decisively. “At least one slice of cake will fit in, believe me.”
Castiel frowned, his head tilted slightly. “That’s it not anatomically correct.”
“Of course it is, don’t argue with me.” With a grin, she cut off a piece, and propped it on a plate for him, which he took with a sigh.
“Come on, Dean will eat some too,” she said.
“Oh, will I?”
“It’s birthday cake. Cas’ birthday cake.”
For a moment he held her stare, then rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he sighed, and took the plate from her. “But I won’t like it.”
“Of course you will.”
Mumbling something barely audible, he took the plate and began to poke around in the cake, as Castiel ripped a bit off his piece and reluctantly began to chew on it, his brows furrowed for a moment, before they shot up and he nodded at it.
“Good?” Sam asked with a smile.
“Very,” he said, his mouth full, and already tore off the next bit.
“Good,” Kevin said, sitting up, “then I’ll take some too.”
“Making him your guinea pig, clever,” Charlie said with an appreciatory nod.
“Hey, everything around these guys is risking your life, and I’m not going into any traps.”
“Good kid,” she laughed, beginning to eat herself.
“You gonna live, Dean?” Sam asked, raising his brows at his brother, who was staring at his piece with a pout.
“Yeah, yeah, sure,” he mumbled.
“You like it.”
“I guess it’s okay,” he shrugged, reluctantly and flushed slightly. “For cake, I mean.”
“Of course,” he scoffed. “Don’t admit you like something new for a change.”
“Shut up,” Dean snapped weakly, swallowed and continued to eat.
“You like it and you know it,” Charlie whispered conspiringly and grinned.
“Shut up, both of you,” he said again, shifted against the table and turned to Castiel again. “You about to explode yet?”
“It kind of feels that way,” he said with a heavy sigh, scraping the last crumbs together, “but this is very good.”
“Glad you like it,” Sam said.
“I want more,” Kevin interrupted, handing his plate over, his mouth full.
“You know,” Sam said with a grin, “for someone so small you can eat a lot.”
“And for someone so big, you eat a lot of rabbit-food,” Dean shrugged.
“Really?” he retorted, staring at him for a moment. “At least I’m not gonna have a heart-attack before I’m forty.”
“Why would I want to live ninety years if I can never eat something good or do anything fun?”
“Believe it or not, life has more joys than the stuff that kills you.”
“Now you’re just lying.”
“Name one thing!”
He thought for a moment, shaking his head. “Jogging,” he said, and closed his eyes as soon as the word was out.
“That’s not fun, Sam, that’s torture! You run for your life, not for fun!”
“Yeah, because you’ve an idiot,” he mumbled with a shake of his head, and shoved another bite in his mouth.
With a laugh, Sam shook his head at him, before turning back to Castiel, and gave him a weak slap on the arm. “You want some more?”
“Are you kidding?” Castiel frowned.
“You need to eat,” Dean argued. “So you get big and strong.”
“I’m not going to get any stronger if I eat more, I’m just going to get sick.”
“Well, at least that you figured out,” Charlie shrugged. “See? You are learning bodily functions.”
“Great,” Castiel groaned weakly, and sank against the back of his chair, eyes closed.
One by one they left the party, until only Dean and Cas were left. First Sam bid his goodbyes, after some awkward looks back and forth between the others, and an unnecessarily loud yawn, and far too obvious stretching, which Dean graciously blamed on his ridiculous size, still amazing him at times.
“Well, guys,” he said, and slowly pulled himself up. “I should go.”
“Already?” three voices asked at once, eyeing him with suspicion.
“Yeah,” he smiled generously. “It’s late. And unlike you, I got up before noon.”
“Yeah, and what good did that do you?” Dean asked, toasting him with his beer.
“Very funny,” he said with a tight grin, his hands stemmed into his sides. “All right, have fun, everyone.”
They weakly waved after him as he disappeared into the hallway.
A few minutes later, Kevin followed, yawning more convincingly. “I should probably go too,” he said, smacking his lips, and this time nobody protested, because they all knew far too well he did not catch enough sleep, and they knew just as well why, but nobody wanted to bring it up.
“Have a nice rest birthday,” he said with a pat on Castiel’s shoulder, trying to give him a smile, but hardly able to bring up the energy.
“Thank you. I will,” Cas nodded, a warm smile curling his lip. “And you have a good night.”
“Yeah, you too,” he said, and waved weakly, as he too disappeared into the darkness.
Charlie left last, only after discussing with them for another half hour, and only when, by the end of their heated discussion, they all slumped back in their seats, and Dean exchanged a soft look with Cas, shaking his head, unable to keep himself from smiling.
For a moment she glanced back and forth between them, then gave them a far too high pitched yawn, and stretched her fists away from her body. “Oh god,” he said unconvincingly. “I should definitely go.”
“Oh, you too?” Dean asked, acting far more disappointed than would have been appropriate in any case.
“Well, I just guess I’m not such a night owl,” she said with a wink, and got up.
“It’s fine,” Castiel said softly. “You should get rest. But thank you,” he added, and let his eyes wander across the room, “for all of this.”
“Hey it’s my pleasure,” she said with a wide grin, and felt tiredness roll over her, and a yawn got hold of her face. “Oh, all right, I’m going,” she gave in, and retreated towards the door. “But if you want another party, let me know!”
“I will,” Castiel laughed, watched her go for a moment, before he turned back to Dean, smiling softly back at him, through the dimmed light.
“They don’t know how to party,” Dean said with a smile, his eyes briefly closing, before he threw himself back, swallowing a yawn.
“Well, neither do I.”
“At least you don’t go to bed before it’s even midnight,” Dean argued. “That’s no way to celebrate anything.” For a moment he stared at the door, shaking his head, then glanced back at Castiel with a slightly worried look. “Or do you want to go?”
“No, I’m fine,” he chuckled. “Very full, and tired, but otherwise…” he trailed off, smiling to himself. “Though, not tired enough to go to bed.”
“Good,” Dean grinned with a nod. “Then we’ll keep the party going all night.”
The hint of a smile playing around his lips, Castiel shook his head at him.
“You know,” Dean said with a groan, reached past him, and pulled the photo Kevin had given Cas over, “I really have no idea where the hell the kid got that from.”
“Me neither,” he said, and shifted closer to get a better look. “But I like it. It’s not often to see any of us that happy.”
“No, really not,” he laughed. “But I like it too.”
A moment long they sat in silence, staring down at the photo, smiling softly, before turning back to each other.
After a second, Dean noticed how close they sat, cleared his throat, and nodded towards the other things, put into the corner of the table, and handed him the photo back. “So, how’d you like your presents?”
“They’re all great,” he assured with a smile. “Thank you too.”
“Anytime,” he assured with a grin, and toasted to him with what was left of his drink. “How old exactly are you now?”
“Oh, I–” he said, rolled his eyes back and sighed. “I am not even sure.”
“That old, really?”
“Yes, really,” he laughed. “Perhaps because the first few years or decades were very odd,” he said, staring off into the distance. “Maybe because keeping track of dates is not a priority for any being, except humans.”
“Yeah, we’re orderly freaks, apparently,” he chuckled. “What do you mean weird? Like, screaming babies with no coherent memory?”
“Something like that,” Castiel said carefully, and leaned back in his chair. “But not really.”
“Oh good,” Dean said numbly. “That makes everything so clear.
Cas laughed quietly, watching Dean, before explaining further, and drifting off into explanations of his life as angel, and both ended up reiterating stories from when they were younger, barely noticing the time pass, and tiredness taking hold of them, until they ran out of things to say, and fell into a comfortable silence.
“All right, I should–” Dean groaned and got up, collecting the plates spread out over the table.
“I will help,” Castiel offered immediately and jumped up, reaching out for the closest plates.
“No, no, no, no! You are the birthday kid,” Dean said, pointing at Cas, demanding him to put the plates back down, “you don’t have to clean up today.”
“Then what do you want me to do?” he asked, giving Dean a tired look. “Sit here and talk to myself?”
“If that’s what floats your boat,” Dean shrugged, his lips involuntarily curling into a grin. “Or you can eat what’s left of the cake.”
“You want me to get sick, don’t you?”
“All right, fine,” Dean gave in with a sigh, and rolled his eyes. “Do what makes you happy. It’s your birthday after all.”
“Thank you,” Castiel said sternly, and began to pile up the remaining plates.
“So,” Dean asked after a second, glancing up from the plates, across the table with raised brows. “How was your first birthday party?”
“It was great,” Cas said, a soft smile returning to his face. “Thank you.”
“Good,” Dean grinned with a satisfied nod. “Well, it’s not entirely over yet.”
“It is,” Castiel said with a frown, stopping briefly.
“Nah,” Dean insisted, and backed into the kitchen. “You’ve got a few minutes left, officially. And tomorrow is only after you went to bed, so there’s that.”
The hint of a smile playing around his lips, Castiel rolled his eyes. “It is over. Everybody else already went to bed. Unless you have another surprise party planned.”
“No, we don’t,” he laughed. “But hey, you never know. Anything could happen.”
“Like what?” he asked, tilting his head.
“Don’t know,” Dean shrugged, placing the pile in the sink, before taking the others from Castiel’s hands. “Maybe a case gets delivered to our door. Or maybe Sam decides to start sleepwalking. Naked. And the sight is so bad, you decide it’s time to walk the desert for twenty years and never have human contact again.”
Castiel fixed him with a tired look, his head tilted slightly.
“I’m just saying,” Dean smiled, “you never know. As long as it’s going on, all options are still open.”
“Perhaps,” he said quietly, a sigh escaping him, as he took Dean’s side, and grabbed the towel.
“Any birthday wishes left open?” Dean asked, and threw a glance at him.
Castiel opened his mouth, and looked at him for a moment, before closing it again. “No, I wouldn’t say so.”
“Good,” Dean grinned. “Kevin’s kind of right though. Shopping for you isn’t easy.”
“No, no,” Dean laughed. “Just– For Sam for example, it’s pretty easy. Get him some books, something for research, he’ll be happy. Hell, he’ll even take whatever magazines you throw him and be happy. Charlie, I’m guessing, movies, books, any technology, she’ll be the happiest kid. But with you,” he shrugged, “I don’t know what you like. We gotta find you some interests. Some shows, books, you know. Something!”
“You don’t actually need to get me something,” Castiel growled as he took the plate from Dean.
“I know, but it’s part of the whole thing.”
“Well, in that case, I am perfectly happy with what you got me.”
“Yeah, right,” Dean huffed.
“Why is that so hard to believe?” he asked, his brows tightly furrowed at Dean.
“Clothes, really?” Dean asked with an amused expression.
“Yes, Dean, really. I needed clothes, and you got me some. They seem to fit and they feel good.”
“But do you like the look?”
“Sure,” he shrugged. “Why not?”
“Don’t know,” he mumbled, staring into the soapy water. “I told you I don’t know what you like.”
“Believe me, Dean,” he said softly. “You know better than you think.”
“Well,” Dean said, his breath stocking slightly, as a nervous smile twitching around the corners of his lips, “that’s good.”
A warm smile lingered on Castiel’s face for a moment, as he held his look with Dean. Only slowly Dean forced his eyes off Cas, drawing a deep breath.
“Anyway, it’s good this wasn’t a total failure. We weren’t exactly sure how you would feel with this.”
“To be honest,” he began slowly, “I was a bit thrown off at first. But it actually was quite nice.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Dean laughed.
“But I have one question,” he said, slowly furrowing his brows.
“Why this whole party? I never saw you do something similar for each other.”
“Well, no,” Dean admitted slowly, shook the water off his hands, and leaned against the sink. “We haven’t done anything like that since– Since before you and I met, and then only because I was dying.”
“Exactly,” Castiel nodded decisively. “Then why me?”
“Because you deserve something nice, Cas. You,” he thought, shaking his head with a sigh, “you had a rough patch, ran out of luck for a while. And we wanted to do something for you, have you have a good idea, and since the date was around the corner, we figured it would work.”
For a moment Castiel fought with himself, the corners of his lips pulling up. “Still. You would deserve the same, why do you never–”
“We kind of grew out of it,” Dean said quietly. “Sometimes that just happens. Maybe because we spent too much time together or, I don’t know. Doesn’t matter,” he added when he saw the way Castiel looked at him. “As long as you were good with today, I’m happy.”
“I was, and I am,” Castiel replied with a smile.
“Good,” Dean replied, his grin returning, and pushed himself away from the sink. “I’m glad to hear that,” he added softly, and ruffled Castiel’s hair, some foam from his hand sticking to it.
He stilled, noticing what he was doing, and his smile slowly dropped.
Cas drew a few, quick breaths, his chest expanding, and his eyes fixed on Dean’s.
Neither of them noticed how they moved, only that the other steadily came closer, until their lips were only inches apart. Cas glanced up from Dean’s lush, pink lips, to his eyes, and quickly back down, letting his lids flutter shut, and their lips meet.
Under the soft feeling of Dean’s lips, and the buzzing that spread across his body, he barely noticed the air being punched out of his lungs, but noticed every little touch between them. Every time their chests bumped slightly into each other, ever time Dean’s tongue moved ever so slightly, brushing over lip, and every time the tip of his finger met any part of his body, until he ran the still slightly wet fingers over his bare neck, tracing his muscles, and disappeared in his hair, holding him close in the kiss.