It had been many years since John and Mary Winchester had passed away. And yet their greatest legacies remained, their two sons. Dean, the older of the two owned a five star restaurant; he was handsome and charming, twenty nine years young and fit despite his profession. Sam, the younger, was a junior associate at a large law firm with a bright future ahead; he was just as attractive as his brother despite the extra height he carried.
However this story is not about their careers or the like, it is a Christmas tale, and we need to begin.
This story starts on the twenty fourth of December, Christmas Eve and Dean’s restaurant was full of people with a lot of money to spend, he sat in his office doing his usual work as the smells from the various platters, the only sound being the clunks of dishes and cutlery as people enjoyed their meals.
Just as he was tidying up for the night his employees began to make a hubbub, singing loudly and off key to songs Dean recognised to be Christmas carols. So naturally Dean pushed himself away from his desk with an angered huff, leaving his office with a scowl. “What is all this ruckus?” he shouted over the loud pandemonium. He watched longer as the employees stopped in their tracks, no patrons left in the restaurant to ogle the outburst. In the kitchen door stood Benny, the head chef and one of Dean’s long standing friends. He looked almost disappointed.
“Well it’s Christmas sir,” a brave waitress spoke up, her slender hands clasped together as she grinned like a lunatic.
“I am aware of the date,” Dean groaned, tilting his head back and groaning loudly.
Dean Winchester suffered from a terrible problem, he hated Christmas, everything about it. Nobody knew why, for all they knew his childhood was rather pleasant and Christmas was filled with cheer. Well nobody except his dear younger brother Sam, who had astounding timing as he waltzed through the door at that exact moment, humming a Christmas tune himself, all but flouncing over to his brother with more than enough Christmas spirit for both brothers. “Dean!” Sam grinned, giving his brother a hug, all but covering the shorter male with his large body.
“Sam,” Dean sighed, looking around to see his employees had quietly gone back to work making him exhale a aggravated breath, “come into my office.” Sam readily agreed to the offer, shrugging off his coat and flopping onto the couch by the fire whilst Dean returned to tidying up his things.
“Working so hard on Christmas Eve dear brother?” Sam grinned cheekily, making Dean scoff, “don’t you know it’s a time for being with your family and friends?”
“I clearly am with my family Sam, mum and dad died years ago,” Dean pointed out, “and you know I don’t celebrate this obnoxious holiday.”
“Okay what about friends?” Sam asked, raising his eyebrow, “oh wait! I forgot you push everyone away because you’re a total Grinch.”
“What do you want Sammy?” Dean asked, patience a foreign concept.
“I wanted to invite you to the Christmas party Im having tomorrow,” Sam cheered jumping off the couch and bouncing like an excited puppy, “Gabriel has been cooking all day and I’m sure my house probably smells like the gingerbread cookies he has undoubtedly made too many of.”
“Why ever did you marry Gabriel,” Dean snorted, rolling his eyes in distain.
“Why?” Sam asked incredulously, “because I love him, like you loved Ca-“
“Get out!” Dean shouted, cutting off his brother before he could go any farther.
“J-just think about my offer Dean,” Sam begged quietly, we will set a place for you. And with that the younger left the room, leaving Dean alone as he heard his brother bid his staff a Merry Christmas.
“Ba Humbug,” Dean hissed, stepping over to his personal Whiskey and pouring himself a glass which he drowned instantly before pouring another.
“Better slow down there brother,” Benny snorted, making Dean turn around to glare at the head chef. Benny was in his coat and hat, ready to leave for the night, “in fact perhaps you should just go home.”
“No, I still have work to do,” Dean groaned, “as nobody has agreed to work tomorrow I might as well not come in tomorrow anyway.”
“Maybe you should go to your brother’s Christmas party tomorrow, rather than staying alone in that old cold house of yours,” Benny offered but Dean merely dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand.
“Get lost and go home Benny, before I change my mind and make you work tomorrow,” Dean told the southerner, making him chuckle.
“Merry Christmas Dean,” Benny told him before leaving, presumably with the rest of the staff.
Dean himself would not get home until a little after midnight, and it wasn’t much of a home. It was constantly cold and dark, a mere place to go to sleep and nothing more – despite the many rooms. He ate a plain slice of bread in his mostly unused kitchen before waddling up to his bedroom. Inside his own room was not much brighter or warmer than the rest of the house. Dean stripped out of his suit, stretching out any kinks in his muscles before putting on a pair of sweat pants and climbing into his plush bed.
He had barely closed his eyes when he heard the first clang. Dean naturally looked up in curiosity, perhaps a racoon or cat had merely made its home within his house, and if that was the case he would call a pest remover after the holidays as people had an odd habit of not working on the dreadful day. When certain there was nothing in his room he closed his eyes once more, only to be startled into sitting up once more, however Dean was shocked to find himself not alone this time, in front of him was his long gone parents.
Mary stood there in all her beauty, her long blonde hair hanging messily, framing her face nicely. She was dressed in the same clothes she wore the night she died, a leather jacket and a white dress – blood stains still on the bodice of her dress. John also wore the same clothes he wore the night of his death despite it years after his wife’s, he was in the same clothes he had worn when he drunk himself to death three days before Dean finished high school. And by clothes Dean meant a singlet top and a pair of boxers.
And yet Dean doubted his eyes, mainly because he could see through the pair, and that was more than enough to tell any sane person that they were not really there, thank you very much. “I really need to check that bread’s use by date tomorrow,” Dean told himself before rolling his eyes and burrowing back into his bed, humming grumpily.
“It’s not hallucination baby,” Mary’s voice soothed, a pressure appearing next to Dean on the bed and making him sit up for a third time, his eyes bright with fear. He slowly began backing away from her, falling off his bed onto the cold, hard ground in the process.
“What the shit? Who are you?” Dean hissed at her.
“Don’t swear in front of your mother boy,” John growled, appearing next to Dean and lifting him up as though Dean was made of feathers.
“How did you people get in my house?” Dean hissed, wrenching his arm away from the man who looked like his father.
“We’re your parents sweetie,” Mary promised, gliding over to stand next to her husband. Only then did Dean realise that they were both wearing the clothes they had been buried in.
“H-how? Y-you’re dead!” Dean cried, backing into the wall, the kind, warm smile on his mother’s face never ceased, whereas his father watched him with an expressionless face.
“None of that matters baby boy,” Mary told him, holding out her arms to offer a hug. But Dean shook his head.
“No thank you, it was pleasant seeing you but you can leave now,” Dean told them, sitting back on his bed and staring at them with distaste.
“I guess it is true, our son has become a monster,” John sighed, making Dean growl deep in his throat.
“Leave me alone, you have no right to ridicule my life John Winchester, I am just like you!” Dean hissed, throwing the covers over his body and snuggling down.
“And I am paying the price for ruining my son’s lives!” John bellowed, “and so I would like to save you from the same punishment!” Dean looked up to see his father, now draped and bound in chains, his mother hovering nearby a pained expression on her face.
“Chains?” Dean asked, bemused by the image, “I don’t know father, I believe this new fashion sense suits you.”
“Punishment! Forged by his cruelty! And if you don’t mend your ways you will end up the same!” Mary sobbed, “please, just listen.”
“Tonight, for the next three hours,” John began, his voice solemn and condemning.
“You, our son, will be visited by three spirits,” Mary continued for him, her voice strained and cracking as though she wanted to cry, making Dean wonder if ghosts could cry.
“If you do not change your ways by the time you awaken on Christmas morning.”
“You will continue to forge your chains, chains worse than your father’s,” Mary finished, before both faded into nothing, leaving Dean alone in a dark room.
Dean blinked several times before snorting to himself and closing his eyes. “Right, sure, why not,” he snorted to himself before his breath began to even out. But before he was truly asleep he was forced up and out of his bed as what he thought was a bucket of water was being poured on him. Before his eyes, stood his old boss Fergus Crowley dressed in what Dean remembered to have been his favourite black, Armani suit, his lips quirked up in an amused smile.
“Morning princess,” he quipped.
“Crowley?” Dean asked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, suddenly very conscious of his shirtless body. The man had often made passes at him when Dean had worked for him, but Dean just assumed it was Crowley trying to make him uncomfortable.
“No Santa Claus,” Crowley remarked, licking his lips and grinning, “for tonight, as a figure of your past I will be playing the part of Christmas past, lucky me!”
“Wait don’t you have to be dead to be a ghost?” Dean asked disbelievingly.
“Yes well because you’re a special case, the three spirits that will be visiting you tonight are people you actually know,” Crowley snickered, “but come along Dean darling, we have places to be!” Crowley disappeared from where he was standing in a blink of an eye, and just as quickly appeared next to Dean, guiding him into the closet. And yet as they stepped in through the doorway of Dean’s closet, Dean found himself in the middle of a snowy street.
“Where are we?” he asked quietly, shivering slightly at the brisk air as he looked at Crowley who was leaning on a black umbrella with a curved handle.
“I think you should know Dean,” Crowley snorted, shifting out of his leaning position so he could use the umbrella to point, Dean followed the direction he was pointing, only to find himself outside his childhood home.
“Home.” Dean huffed out a laugh, running over to the front door and gliding his hand down the wooden door.
“You can go inside, I think you have just woken up and so your family should be up soon too,” Crowley advised, “just walk through the door, you’re a ghost it won’t matter.” Dean looked at the door sceptically before squeezing his eyes shut and stepping to the door, when there was a lack of impact he found himself inside what he remembered as his home. There was a warmth to the air he remembered clearly, the scent of sugar cookies and eggnog.
“Come on Sammy its Christmas!” a child’s voice cheered, making Dean swivel his head to look towards the stairs, all but tumbling down came a seven year old Dean, quickly followed by a three year old who almost tripped trying to copy his big brother.
“Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” the smaller boy cheered joining his brother at the bottom of the flight of stairs.
“T-this was the last Christmas before mum…” Dean whispered his voice cracking before he could finish the sentence so rather than finishing it he chose to follow the brothers as they ran into the living room and gaped at the tree and all the presents underneath.
“Well now, I think there are two naughty boys in my living room,” Mary Winchester’s voice cooed, unlike her ghost from earlier she was now wearing a hideous green, Christmas sweater and black jeans, her long hair plaited behind her.
“Mummy!” the three year old boy cried, waddling over to his mother and wrapping his arms around her legs.
“We aren’t naughty!” the younger version of Dean argued, his eyes glittering with Christmas joy.
“Oh really?” Mary teased, “does that mean you deserve these presents.”
“Presents! Presents! Presents!” Sammy cried, bouncing up and down, one of his hands still gripping their mother’s leg.
“So no breakfast, well let me go tell your dad he can eat all the pancakes,” Mary sighed, a grin still on her face.
“No!” Dean cried, running into the kitchen, quickly followed by Mary who swooped down and picked up Sammy, bouncing him on her hip as she walked into the kitchen.
“Are you going to follow them?” Crowley asked, appearing next to the door to the kitchen and peeking in.
“No, I would like to go,” Dean growled making Crowley pout, but rather than put up a useless fight, Crowley snapped his fingers and the scene dissolved, he was soon in a new room, just as familiar as the last, “what the fuck Crowley? I thought you were taking me home?”
“No, all you said is that you wanted to leave,” Crowley smirked, looking around the room in disgust. He had every right to turn his nose up, before Dean’s eyes was the dormitory he had spent his nights in during his teenage years, after the death of his mother Dean’s father had gone off the rails and that also sent Dean off the rails, by the time he was thirteen a permanently drunk John could no longer could deal with Dean’s rebellious personality and sent him to a boarding school.
“I definitely did not want to be here!” Dean hissed, looking towards the door as it slowly creaked open revealing a roughly sixteen year old Dean.
“So you were stuck at boarding school on Christmas?” Crowley asked, suddenly on the top bunk of one of the four beds in the room. Dean ignored him as he watched his younger self climb into his bed – one of the bottom bunks, closest to the window – and hide under the scratchy, woollen blanket like a scared child.
“Seriously this is not a day I’d like to remember!” Dean yelled, staring at the door in horror. The world around him seemed frozen as the door opened, revealing the school’s headmaster Alistair as he entered the room, a sleazy grin on his face. Crowley snapped his fingers, making the scene fizzle into darkness, his face full of uncharacteristic concern.
“Dean?” Crowley asked, treading carefully as Dean slid to the ground shaking.
“P-please let me see something good?” Dean asked weakly, his eyes glistening with tears, “I don’t want to think about that man.”
“Of course,” Crowley agreed, Dean squeezed his eyes shut, listening to the snap of Crowley’s fingers. Dean only opened his eyes when he felt the air shift into a warmer tone, the scent of gingerbread cookies infused into the otherwise homely feel. To his delight Dean found himself in another familiar setting, but this one was a happy one, it was the lounge room of Gabriel’s father’s house. Dean smiled to himself, not caring when Crowley cocked his head in curiosity, but before he could ask Dean why he was smiling two people burst into the room, laughing and carrying on like fools in love.
But that was because they were. “Cas,” Dean mumbled sadly, looking at the young pair, one being him in his nineteenth year and the other being the first and only person he really fell in love with. Castiel Novak was handsome from every angle you viewed him from. He had surreal, blue eyes that could not be compared to anything else on Earth in Dean’s opinion, at least not without downplaying their beauty. And his hair was generally messy, due to Cas’ absentmindedness, but Dean thought that was just part of his charm. “Dean?” Cas’s voice was deep and rough, sending chills down Dean’s spine, and if he hazarded a guess it was sending chills down the spine of his former self.
“Yeah Cas?” the younger Dean asked, he was absentmindedly staring at Cas’ lips, his pupils delighted.
“You were totally smitten with this boy weren’t you,” Crowley teased, making the older version of Dean blush as Cas formulated his sentence.
“I had ulterior motives in inviting you and your brother here for Christmas,” Cas admitted to Dean, his face bright red, and Dean being a shit decided to play with him.
“Ulterior motives Cas? I am ashamed of you,” the young man purred, getting a whack on the arm from Cas.
“Jackarse,” Cas laughed, “I like you okay? And not as in like as a friend but as in -”
“Like-like?” Dean’s youthful self-finished, his lips quirked up in an easy smile, licking his lips teasingly.
“Please don’t hate me, if you want you can reject me and I will pay for you and Sam to go stay at a motel for the night,” Cas nervously spoke, his words speeding up with every other word but before he could continue Dean – the younger – kissed him.
“How could I ever hate you Cas?” he asked, resting a hand on Cas’ cheek.
“God can you two get any sappier?” Crowley gagged, “why did you two ever break up? You seemed so happy with him.”
“Life, I was focused on my job – working for you actually,” the older Dean explained, watching as his past self-kissed Cas again – both excited and happy to finally have gotten over their fear of rejection.
“And after losing your mother, after high school and then losing your father,” Crowley continued for him, looking saddened.
“He thought I was having an affair with you,” Dean bit, his eyes watering again, but he wouldn’t shed a tear.
“Why would he think that? Is he not aware that I am married with a son?” Crowley asked just as Sam and Gabe entered the room, both making gagging noises at the scene in front of them.
“Can I just go home now,” Dean asked, not taking his eyes of Cas as Cas ate one of Gabriel’s cookies, grinning at his little brother who managed to look insulted by the act. Dean continued to stare even as the world around him went dark, he continued to watch Cas, his heart skipping a beat when Cas looked up, unknowingly locking eyes with him before fading away too.
Dean looked around, finding himself alone in his room once more. Without missing a heartbeat, Dean flounced into his walk-in-wardrobe and flicked on the light, making a beeline for the box of things he couldn’t bring himself to throw away. Inside were various things such as family photos (Mary and John at their wedding, Mary holding him, Mary holding Sam, Dean holding Sam, first birthday’s for both brothers and a Christmas picture from their last Christmas as a proper family), a photo of him and Benny when they were in collage (they were drunk and shirtless, Cas was in the background with his hand over his mouth and his eyes wide, on the back it said ‘they decided to go skinny dipping’ in Cas’ handwriting), several photos of him and Cas (them before they got together, having fallen asleep resting against each other whilst studying for finals. One just after they got together where they were holding hands and Dean was flipping off whoever took the picture as Cas laughed with his whole body. A picture where they were kissing, Dean’s arms wrapped around Cas’ body to hold him as closely as possible whilst Cas had his hands weaved into Dean’s hair. One of Dean reclining on a couch in a female slutty Santa costume with Cas in a female’s slutty Elf costume on his lap, this time they were both laughing at something.), a small plush bee that Cas had won him at a carnival – Dean later winning him a teddy bear that was almost as big as him, there was a poem Cas had written him and a small, white box. Dean picked up the box and looked at it, his heart clenching painfully in his chest.
The box itself was simple and sweet, with a velvet material that still felt soft to the touch. He opened it up, looking inside it, making his heart clench a little more, the inside was a simple red satin, and in the centre of the bottom, embedded into a small groove was a simple ring. A simple white gold band with a fingerprint – Dean’s fingerprint – engraved into the top. Dean plucked it out of the box, cradling it in the palm of his hand, and reading the engraving on the bottom of the inside, ‘my beloved Angel’. A simple ring that Dean had intended to be an engagement ring.
Dean lost track of time as he sat and stared at the ring, remembering every amazing moment with Cas. “I thought you had come out of the closet years ago Dean,” a familiar voice mused, making Dean snap his head up to look at the door. In the doorway, stood a very familiar face. Sucking on a lollipop was Dean’s brother in law Gabriel, his lips quirked into an amused grin. His head was full of golden brown hair, and his eyes were nearly the same colour. He was a much shorter than Dean too, looking more like a Christmas elf than anything else. And the absurd, bright red Christmas sweater did not help his case.
“The fuck are you doing here?” Dean asked, glaring at the shorter man.
“Merry Christmas to you too Deano,” Gabriel snorted, his eyes landing on the ring and his mouth gaping open in confusion as he suddenly appeared closer to Dean and plucking it out of his hand before he could complain.
“Who were you going to propose to Deano?” Gabriel asked before stopping in his tracks, “you were going to propose to Cas weren’t you?”
“Give it back Gabriel,” Dean sighed, snatching the ring out of Gabriel’s hand and carefully placing it back in the box which he placed back in the larger box.
“Well this started at a depressing note,” Gabriel mused, watching Dean as he placed the large box back where it had come from, his hand resting on it a moment before he drew it back to his body.
“Fuck off Gabriel, I’m really not in the mood for you,” Dean muttered, brushing past the shorter man, and going through the door. But rather than going into his room he found himself on the street, the sun having risen enough to light up the city.
“Now where shall we go?” Gabriel asked, flicking his lollipop stick at Dean who flinched in disgust, “let’s go see Benny, he should be doing something interesting this fine day.” Gabriel began to skip towards a large building with large windows. Inside was a group of homeless people, eating and socialising. Gabriel suddenly stepped through the glass, phasing through like a ghost, leaving a gobsmacked Dean in his wake.
Mere seconds passed before Dean ran in after Gabriel who was waving his hand in front of the faces of various people, pointing when they couldn’t see him. “You’re the second ghost!” Dean cried, pointing his finger accusingly at Gabriel who looked at him and grinned cheekily.
“About time you worked it out Deano,” Gabriel laughed, doing a little bow and winking playfully, “tonight I will be the ghost of Christmas present, I get to show you those you love on today, the most special of days.”
“Gabriel, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I don’t know any of these people,” Dean sighed, rolling his eyes as the other man crossed his arms.
“Not these people, but you do know Benny Lafitte,” Gabriel declared in an overdramatic tone, gasping as though Dean had just insulted his mother… Dean stared at him incredulously for a moment before Gabriel sobered up, “you used to be more fun,” Gabriel told him before appearing slightly closer and grabbing his face, twisting his own wrist around so he could move Dean’s face to look at the kitchens where a familiar face was laughing at something a small, pretty woman had said.
Staring in awe Dean wandered closer to the kitchen, watching Benny was surrounded by pots and pans, doing what he did best – cooking. “Mr cooking person?” a young, female voice asked making Dean stop in his tracks and look at the young girl who was holding an empty bowl.
“Yes Claire?” Benny asked, stopping his stirring of whatever he was stirring. He leant over the counter to get a better look at the little girl. She was clearly too young to have been alone and yet she clearly was.
“C-can I get some more?” she asked quietly, looking up at the big man with wide eyes.
“More? More?” Benny asked, holding his hand to his chest as though he had been insulted before a big smile spread across his face, “of course Claire,” he told her, ladling some soup – which Dean assumed was what he had been stirring – into her bowl making the little girl grin and running off to eat the soup before it cooled.
“Why is such a young girl here?” Dean asked, looking at Gabriel who was now in the kitchen trying to eat the soup out of the pot and failing.
“Ward of the state I’m afraid,” Gabriel explained, giving up on his endeavour to acquire some of the steaming goo, “keeps running away from her foster homes.”
“Do you know what will happen to her?” Dean asked, watching the cute little girl hungrily devour the soup, eyeing off any older men who dare come near her food.
“Not my area unfortunately,” Gabriel apologised, “but if she doesn’t find a good home soon she will likely end up living on the streets, doing anything to survive.”
“That’s terrible!” Dean gaped, watching Gabriel shrug sadly.
“That’s the way life goes,” Gabriel murmured, “come on, there’s one more place to go,” he added, walking towards the excite and beckoning for Dean to follow.
With one last glance at the little girl Dean jogged after Gabriel, tumbling after him through the door and into a warm, gingerbready smelling house – a smell that instantly reminded him of his mother earlier that night. “Where are we?” Dean asked, looking around the vaguely familiar room.
“My place!” Gabriel cheered, eyeing the presents under the tree with an evil glint in his eyes.
“You’re place?” Dean echoed, looking around at his surroundings, “so Sammy is here?”
“Yup!” Gabriel confirmed, just as Sam came in chasing a secondary Gabriel who had a devious grin on his face.
“Oh god there’s two of you,” Dean groaned as the second Gabriel slowed to a stop, letting Sam all but tackle him to the ground. The pair shared a chase kiss before Sam tugged something out of Gabriel’s hands and popping it into his mouth, making that version of Gabriel pout childishly.
“Do I really look like that?” the ghost version of Gabriel mused, making Dean roll his eyes, “ no wonder your brother married me!” Before Dean could respond he was cut off by the doorbell ringing. Sam walked towards the door and opened it with a large grin, ushering whoever it was out of the cold. By their figures Dean guessed that it was a pair of females, but before Dean could ask who it was, they both dropped their hoods revealing more familiar faces. Charlie and Dorothy, two of Sam and Dean’s shared friends. Dean watched quietly as they interacted with Sam and Gabriel, their smiles bright as they brought over a pair of bags filled to the brim with neatly wrapped presents.
“I wonder if I’ll get to see what I got early!” the ghost version of Gabriel mused, peeking over Charlie’s shoulder as she placed various gifts under the tree, “oh hey she brought you one too!”
“Why?” Dean scoffed, watching his brother as he welcomed more, people into his home – this time they were Benny and his wife. Then two out of three of Gabriel’s brothers Lucifer and Samandriel, with their respective partners Michael and Adam. Next came in Kevin – one of Sam’s collage friends and possibly the smartest guy Dean knew. People began to mingle quietly, making Dean think everyone was there. Charlie and Dorothy were sitting on the floor by the tree, snuggling under a bright red blanket, drinking the eggnog Gabriel had forced on them. Lucifer, Michael, Samandriel and Adam were squished onto the couch together, drinking eggnog after Gabriel had done the same to them. Kevin was curled up on a chair alone, drinking cocoa and laughing at the story Gabriel was telling in the most dramatically Gabriel way he could manage. And Sam sat on the other single seat, facepalming but laughing at his husband.
Dean and his ghostly companion moved into the hallway with full view of the people mingling and if any surprise guests arrived Dean would see them the moment they entered. And after what felt like an eternity the doorbell rang once more, startling the peaceful friends out of listening to Gabriel who huffed indignantly at the interruption before prancing over to the door, winking at Dean when none of the others could see his face. “He knows I’m here?” Dean asked the other Gabriel who shrugged.
“Well dah! I mean I am right next to you!” Gabriel laughed, “also totally missing out on hot sex with your brother to do so!” he added making Dean gag. Dean blocked out the laughs of Gabriel to look to where the newcomer had come in and was taking off a familiar tan coat, his equally familiar dark brown hair sticking up as though he had only just rolled out of bed.
“No…” Dean whispered, his heart clenching and unclenching as he went short of breath. His fears were confirmed when the man turned around, being swallowed into a hug from his brother, his enchantingly blue eyes, his face all but drained of colour from the cold and yet his nose and the high points of his face was all read. He looked just as beautiful as he had all those years ago.
“Im not too late am I?” Cas asked, his voice rougher than usual from the cold, sending shivers down Dean’s spine.
“Yes Cassy, you missed dinner,” Gabriel teased, ushering him towards the room of people. Dean watched him smile and hug everyone, licking his lips in the cutest way to try and return moisture to them.
Dean watched as he brought over his own bag full of gifts, unpacking them carefully before standing up and blushing darkly when he realised how many people were staring at him. “What?” he croaked, fiddling with the hem of his sweater. Oh god his sweater, dark blue in colour making his eyes pop perfectly, and was also clearly a little snug. He looked like a stereotypical college professor which made Dean unconsciously lick his lips.
“I counted ten presents,” Kevin grinned, “there’s only nine of us.”
“So there are two options here,” Charlie continued for him, catching onto why Kevin was smiling and joining in, “either you bought yourself a present.”
“Or you brought Dean a gift,” Sam mumbled, making Cas’s blush darken almost worryingly.
“W-what?” Cas stuttered, “w-why would I?”
“Well if the last gift wasn’t for Dean why did you hold it so long?” Lucifer asked, joining in on the teasing of his younger brother.
“And stare at it so adoringly,” Samandriel pipped up, instantly shrinking back when Cas glared at him.
“Give him a break guys!” Dean told them, forgetting they couldn’t hear him.
“Give him a break guys,” Gabriel echoed, looking serious momentarily before a wicked grin spread across his face, “if it isn’t for Dean he won’t mind if we… I don’t know, look at it?”
“Gabe stop,” Sam warned, looking unamused, “I told you all I invited my brother, Cas was just being polite bringing him a gift so that Dean isn’t left out.”
“R-right,” Cas hastily agreed, quietly sitting on the empty love seat and staring at his hands quietly. Dean walked over to him, watching as he wrung his hands together nervously.
“God I forgot how gorgeous he was,” Dean laughed to himself, fully aware that he was being watched by at least one Gabriel. He plonked himself down next to the darker haired man, and drawing his knees up to his chest.
“You’re still in love with him aren’t you?” one of the Gabriel’s asked quietly, making both Dean and Cas look up.
“Is it that obvious?” Dean asked at the same time as Cas asking, “I don’t think I ever won’t be,” making Dean realise this was in fact the real Gabriel.
“Why did you break up with him then?” Gabriel asked making Cas snort angrily.
“You wouldn’t understand Gabe,” Cas told him, “please drop it, I don’t want to think about him on Christmas.”
“As you wish,” Gabriel told him, glancing sadly at Dean before he opened his mouth to say something but thought better of it.
“Cas,” Dean choked, reaching out and trying to touch the other man, feeling a ping of disappointment when his hand went through him, “I know you can’t hear me but I still love you too, and whatever I did, I’m so fucking sorry.”
“Dean?” his version of Gabriel asked, squatting down in front of him, “time’s up we have to go,” he told Dean, looking disappointed and tired.
“R-right of course,” Dean scoffed, putting on his tough guy act once more, “Im bored of this anyway,” he lied.
Once again everything began to fade into oblivion. And once again, Dean refused to look away from Cas until he too faded away from Dean’s view and Dean found himself alone in his wardrobe, sitting in the middle of it. It took him almost ten minutes to stand up, but when he finally gained the strength he wandered out of his room and into his lounge room where he sat on the couch with his feet tucked under him.
Dean didn’t remember falling asleep but after an hour he was startled awake by a cold chill. He groggily opened his eyes, rubbing the sleep out of them he looked around the room until his eyes landed on a well-dressed, older man with dark hair and eyes. His body was thin and skeletal with hollow. Between his bony hands he held a black walking stick. He almost had an air of finality, a solemn air. It was the air of death. “Are you the third ghost?” Dean asked meekly. The man nodded quietly, flexing his fingers around the top of his walking stick.
“I am,” he confirmed, his voice worn and tired, with a sombre tone to it.
“Do you have a name?” Dean tried, receiving no answer in return, “okay what should I call you if you don’t have a name?”
“Ghost of Christmas yet to come,” the ghost spoke, although his voice conveyed some amusement it remained rather monotonous, “or Death.”
“D-Death?” Dean gulped, before laughing weakly, “I think I’ll stick to ghost of Christmas yet to come,” he added, getting only another nod in response. Dean scrambled off of the couch, his skin prickling under the gaze of the man, but not in the way that Crowley had made his skin prickle, no this feeling was much more grave feeling to it. When Dean was standing he looked to the man for direction, but rather than leading him through a door, this one merely lifted his cane and connected it back to the floor with a snap and the world began to spin around Dean and suddenly he was outside the Soup Kitchen he had seen full and bursting with life just a few hours ago.
And yet now, to his despair it was void of life, having been turned into a clothing store. Not a person was in sight as snow lightly sprinkled down around them. “W-where is everyone? Where’s Benny? Surely he wouldn’t let this happen!” Dean muttered, looking around for any sign of life. And yet he soon found himself facing the final ghost, a troubled expression on his face. “What happened?” he finally asked, leaving it at that simple question.
“It was closed down,” the ghost told him, “your friend Benny paid for pretty much everything out of his own pocket, and when he quit his job with you…”
“Why would Benny ever quit! We’re friends!” Dean asked, getting a stern look from the ghost, “sorry continue.”
“Thank you,” he replied before continuing, “after he quit working for you, you told everyone in the same business appalling lies about him meaning he never got hired again.”
“Why did I?” Dean asked, “why would I do such a horrible thing?”
“Does it matter why? The point is that you did and lost one of your best friends in the process – all because you were pushing everyone away.”
“What happened to him?” although Dean was not sure if he wanted to hear the answer.
“He lives on the streets now,” the ghost told Dean, making Dean feel sick to his stomach, and to make matters worse he remembered the poor little orphan girl.
“What about Claire?” Dean mumbled, looking at the skeletal ghost, who closed his eyes and lowered his head.
“What do you think happens to children on the streets?” he said in way of answer before he once more raised his cane before clacking it back to the ground.
This time when the spinning world came to a halt, Dean was surprised to find himself outside of his and Benny’s restaurant. Only it was open and filled with people. “This place seems busy,” Dean gasped, “I guess firing Benny was a good move?”
“No, you no longer own this place,” the ghost explained, making Dean’s eyes go wide, “you now work for the owner, earning less than half of what you used to.”
“What? How?” Dean cried, looking in the window to see himself dressed like a waiter, serving a family with a couple of kids, “I’m a waiter?”
“After you fired Benny you weren’t able to hire a new head chef – nobody wanted to work with you,” the ghost continued, “and you had to sell your failing business, but because you still needed a job the new owner kept you as staff.”
“Oh god,” Dean heaved, crouching to the ground and tugging at his hair with his hands, “p-please show me something good that comes by my decisions? Is there anything? Is Cas okay? Sam?”
“I can show you your brother,” the spirit agreed.
As the world around Dean began to spin this time he squeezed his eyes shut, begging any deity he could think of that this was all just a dream. “Dean.” At the sound of the spirit’s voice, Dean opened his eyes to find himself in Sam and Gabriel’s apartment, however unlike at the Christmas he had witnessed earlier this time the apartment was dark and cold, the only life was Sam sitting in the corner which had been turned into a little office. He was hunched over papers upon papers, his brows furrowed together in frustration. He looked dishevelled, his facial hair thick but not too long, and his hair barely touching his shoulder.
“Why is Sammy working?” Dean asked quietly, “he loves Christmas, and Gabriel would never let him work on Christmas.”
“They split up and it was your fault,” the spirit told Dean, “you poisoned your brother’s relationship.”
“How? How can anything I say ruin my brother’s marriage?”
“You never approved of your brother’s choice in partner, always preferring… what was her name, Jess?”
“Well Jess was a lot less frustrating,” Dean remarked, “but that doesn’t mean I hated Gabriel!”
“Either way you got to your little brother,” the ghost muttered, “of course they were having problems anyway, but you just gave Sam bad advice and your little brother listened.”
“But he never listens.”
“Come on Dean, there’s one last place I want to take you,” the spirit sighed. Dean nodded quietly, closing his eyes when everything began spinning and opening them when he heard crows screeching in the distance.
Dean was taken back to say the least when he realised he was standing in a cemetery. Who wouldn’t? Dean felt his breath disappear when he realised someone had to be dead. A list spiralled through his head in a millisecond before he turned to the spirit who was standing nearby. Dean needed not say a word for the skeletal man to understand his question, but without saying a word himself, the spirit turned on his heel and walked through the grave yard. Dean understood now why the man offered to let Dean call him Death, why the eerie presence felt so off putting. The man felt as though he belonged among the dead.
So Dean followed Death, weaving between the headstones, for what felt like an eternity and yet not long enough. Until finally Death slowed to a stop, standing silently by a stone, and nodding to it. Dean took it as an indication to read the inscription.
He knelt in front of it, not entirely sure who to expect, and yet fearful of what he might find. But a nagging voice in the back of his mind told him he had already figured it out. And if that was the name on the tombstone he felt as though his heart would give out. Or throw up. Or throw up then have his heart give out.
He slowly reached out and dusted away the snow, avoiding reading the words until they all appeared in front of him. And when he did, his heart stopped. He was right.
A beloved brother
An Angel through and through
September 18th 1986 – August 20th 2021’
Dean pushed himself away from the gravestone, scrambling away from it as quickly as possible. He didn’t stop until his back hit another headstone. Five years, five years until Cas couldn’t deal with it anymore. Did he really love him that much? “No. No. No. No. No.” Dean whimpered, covering his mouth with his hand to stop any whimpers that try to escape his mouth, “is this really my fault?”
“Yes,” Death confirmed, “he never fell out of love with you, and it ruined his life. Unrequited love is painful, so painful that it can literally destroy a person.”
“But he broke up with me,” Dean choked, tears streaming down his face. “I-I’m so sorry Cas.”
Dean continued to stare in horror at the stone, until he heard a crunching in the snow. Looking up he was unsettled to find Gabriel looking much like his brother had with a scraggly beard and lengthened hair. However, his hair was clearly dirty and he had deeper bags under his eyes. “Fuck Cas,” Gabriel gasped, falling to his knees in front of the stone. Dean couldn’t see his face, but he assumed he was crying, “this is all that fucking Winchester’s fault! You’re dead and Im broken. And fuck I’m about to do something stupid Cas. Im going to take his brother from him like he did mine. And then I’m going to get rid of him. You won’t ever have to see him either because he’ll be in hell.” Dean wouldn’t get to hear the rest as the world began to swirl and turn.
When it finally stopped he found himself sitting on his lounge room floor, his back against a wall. But this time he was not alone. “Do you understand Dean?” Death asked his voice slightly rougher than it had been.
“Cas died because of me,” Dean sobbed, dropping his head into his hands and sucking in a rugged breath.
“Because you pushed everyone away! You can’t deal with your own issues alone,” Death sighed, looking bored, “now I am going to send you to bed and when you awaken you will be fully rested and ready to go help Benny. Adopt that little girl. Fix things with the people in your life. I don’t actually care, but if I have to come back I will be the death of you,” as he finished his final words he began to fade away, along with everything else until the world went black around Dean.
Dean awoke on Christmas morning feeling like a new person. He practically threw himself out of his bed. Almost slipped in the shower in his rush. Nearly forgot to get dressed before leaving the house. But the one thing he remembered was to pocket the ring for Cas, because he was finally going to set things right with Cas – whether Cas took him back or not.
The first thing he did that day was go to the soup kitchen to see Benny, it was early in the morning and few people were nearby, but Benny was already in the kitchen stirring away at whatever he had made for the people that day. “Benny?” he asked timidly, watching as a shocked Benny almost dropped his spoon into the boiling hot soup.
“Dean! Brother what are you doing here?” Benny laughed, setting the spoon safely so he could pull Dean into a hug.
“I heard about this place, and wanted to tell you that I want to help,” Dean admitted blushing when Benny stared at him slack jawed, “and I was also thinking about raising your pay so you have more for you and giving any spare expense from the restaurant here.”
“I think you might not be the same Dean I know,” Benny mused, “did you hit your head? Are you feeling okay?”
“Benny I have never felt better,” Dean laughed, running a hand through his hair, “I’ve fucked up so much, and I need to repair anything I’ve ruined, or at least try.”
“How about you start by opening up shop,” Benny grinned, “and don’t worry, I’ll let you go in time to go fix things with your pretty boy,” he added, winking at Dean who merely laughed, trying to hide his blush by ducking his head.
Dean washed up dishes for almost an hour before he noticed a familiar little girl wander in. Claire looked just like she had when he had been with Gabriel. Dean stopped what he was doing and walked over to Benny, “that little girl is she a runaway?” he asked quietly, getting a nod from Benny.
“Orphan, keeps running away from foster homes – says they were neglectful,” Benny explained, although Dean already knew.
“Would she think I was a creep if I tried to talk to her?”
“Not if you bring her food,” Benny chuckled, handing Dean a bowl which he promptly filled with soup, “if you end up adopting her you give me every right to start calling you daddy!”
“The only one who gets to call me daddy is Cas,” Dean said before slapping his hand over his mouth, “I shouldn’t say that, I don’t know if he would ever be stupid enough to take me back.”
“Just go talk to the child Dean,” Benny laughed, shooing Dean out of his kitchen.
Dean walked over to the child who was sitting in the corner of the room, cross legged on the floor, glaring at any of the men or women who neared her. She was a cute kid, no older than twelve at most. With thick locks of blonde hair that fell to her mid back and large, round blue eyes. But Dean didn’t let that deter him. He sat facing her, placing the bowl between them as a peace offering. She stared at it suspiciously before lunging for it and gobbling it up quickly in fear he might take it back. When she got to the bottom she placed the bowl back between them and gave him a suspicious look. “What do you want?” she asked quietly, looking to Benny who smiled in a way to tell her it was okay to talk to Dean.
“My name is Dean Winchester, I’m a good friend of Benny’s,” he introduced himself, holding his hand out for the little girl to shake.
“Claire, what do you want Mister Winchester?”
“I just want to talk,” Dean smiled, holding his hands up innocently.
“Okay… what about?” she asked, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear shyly.
“You,” Dean stated, “Benny told me you’re an orphan.”
“Yeah,” Claire mumbled, “my parents died when I was young, I don’t remember them very well.”
“My mum died when I was seven,” Dean told her, “and then my dad died when I started University – so I’m an orphan too.”
“Aren’t you a little old to be considered an orphan?”
“No, I’m just allowed to take care of myself now,” Dean grinned.
“I wish I was allowed to take care of myself,” Claire pouted, “all the adults who are supposed to care don’t.”
“Well then what if I adopted you?”
“Do you have a wife?”
“No, but there is someone I’d like to marry,” Dean beamed, pulling the ring box out of his pocket, “but it isn’t a woman.”
“A man?” Claire confirmed, getting a nod in response, “do you love him?”
“With all my heart,” Dean blushed, “but I messed up, and I’m scared I might lose him.”
“I hope he says yes,” Claire smiled softly, before looking down, “if you’re going to adopt me does that mean I have to go back to my foster family first?”
“I’ll give you a lift, okay?”
“Okay” Claire agreed.
By the time Claire was safe, and Dean had spoken with her social worker, arranging a meeting to talk about adoption. He still had plenty of time to get to Sam’s and still be early. So he did, showing up on Sam’s doorstep with his hands in his coat pockets, a blush already tinting his face. The door opened a mere minute after he knocked, revealing the face of his younger brother, who blinked in surprise. “Dean?”
“Heya Sammy,” Dean greeted, suddenly feeling really shy, “I’m not too early am I?”
“N-No!” Sam said, suddenly opening the door wider to let Dean in, “I didn’t actually expect you to come though! I thought you hated Christmas!”
“Have you met me?” Dean asked as Sam helped him remove his coat, “I bottle up all my feelings and insecurities until I take them out on random things.”
“That’s true,” Gabriel’s voice pipped up, “but I think he must have had an epiphany last night.”
“I realised I have been a Jackarse,” Dean admitted, blushing a bit, “and I owe everyone an apology, most of all Cas.”
“It’s a Christmas miracle!” Gabriel cheered, dragging a gobsmacked Sam out of the doorway, “go grab him one of your sweaters, Im going to pump him full of as much Christmas as I can that he will be a Christmas blimp!”
“Gabe no!” Sam warned before running up the small staircase to do as his husband asked.
“Thank you Gabe, for last night,” Dean muttered, hoping he didn’t just sound crazy. Gabriel broke into a grin, before holding a finger up to his lips.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Dean,” he lied, making it obvious he was lying, “I was here all night, making sweet love to your brother.”
“And I officially feel like I’m going to be sick…” Dean laughed, shaking his head.
Everyone filtered in like they had before, this time greeting Dean, some in shock. All glad to see him. But the one person he was nervous to see wasn’t there yet, and that filled him with more anxiety than he described, and so when Gabriel began the story Cas would arrive during, Dean excused himself, saying he needed some air. And Gabriel agreed, saying that it had to have been too much Christmas for him and that he needs a moment to himself.
Grabbing his coat, Dean headed into the cold winter air, taking large gulps of air and staring up at the sky – oblivious to the world. Imagining Cas on that first Christmas together. imagining him on the Christmas where they both cross-dressed –particularly about the amazing sex they had that night. End every other moment he had had with Cas. He didn’t snap out of it until he heard bags hitting the ground. Blinking at his surroundings, his eyes immediately settled on Cas who looked the same, but his face was redder – he was blushing. “D-Dean,” he stuttered, glancing at the gifts nervously. Dean walked towards him slowly, as though he was approaching a skittish animal.
“Hey Cas,” he smiled, bending over to pick up Cas’ bags.
“W-what are you doing here?”
“I was invited, Sam is my brother you know?”
“I-I know that, I… I just didn’t expect you to actually show up…”
“And miss the chance to see you?” Dean laughed, biting his lip, “sorry that came out wrong, I did want to see you, but to apologise… for hurting you…”
“I broke up with you,” Cas pointed out, his eyes glancing at the front door.
“Because I was being weirdly distant,” Dean reminded Cas.
“You were cheating on me,” Cas said monotonously.
“Actually no,” Dean sighed, “I was saving up for something…”
“Yeah? Sure! Why not!”
“I was,” Dean promised, digging into his pocket with his free hand and pulling out the little velvet box, “for this.”
“Dean,” Cas gasped, “please tell me that isn’t what I think it is.”
“Open it and find out,” Dean grinned, watching as Cas carefully plucked it out of his hand and opened it up, his eyes closing and a frustrated huff left his lips. He opened his eyes once more and pulled out the ring to inspect it, his eyes watering when he read the inscription.
“You were going to propose,” Cas bit sadly, although Dean could tell he wasn’t upset with Dean this time, but with himself.
“Yeah, but you can have it now, no strings attached – it was made specifically for you anyway. Seems kinda stupid for me to keep it,” Dean told him, “I mean really I only came to this party to give it to you… and to say Im sorry for being an arsehole.”
“What if I want there to be strings attached?” Cas asked meekly, slipping the ring onto his ring finger – where it was intended to be.
“The you would make me the happiest man ever,” Dean laughed, laughing even harder when Cas threw himself into Dean’s arms, causing both of them to fall into the thick snow. Dean felt Cas’ lips tentatively press against his, and all he could think was ‘home’ as he wrapped his arms around the other man’s waist. Grinning even as Sam’s voice told them to get inside and stop canoodling on his front lawn, or when Gabriel dragged Sam into the snow nearby to make snow angels. And when they finished kissing, they stared – because that’s what they were good at, staring at each other like the other was the best thing ever created.