Cross To Bear

5 Years-Old: Holidays

Halloween had come fast and Mary couldn't believe how cute her boys were in their tiny costumes. She'd put Sam into the baby bee suit Cas had worn when he was smaller, Dean wanted to be Batman, and so by extension Castiel dressed as Superman.

"You're all so cute," Mary took several pictures of them, little Sammy tucked in Dean's arms.

"Can we go yet?" Cas whined at her as he tugged on her pantleg.

"Not until Jet gets here," Mary had said just as the door opened. John walked in with little Jet right on his heels. The brunet had been given a sheet with holes poked into it, he was an off-white lump of a ghost. She clapped her hands once and clasped her fingers together, "Aw, Jet you're so cute."

"You don't think I look stupid?" Jet asked sheepishly, she could almost hear the blush on his cheeks it was so obvious.

"No, sweetheart." She reassured him but Cas and Dean both snorted out a laugh.

"You kinda do." Dean pointed out and Castiel laughed louder than he had anticipated.

"Shut up!" Jet shouted and hit Dean in the arm, or at least grazed him. His perception wasn't the best under that sheet, after all.

"Ow! Don't hit me!" Dean yelled back and lunged for his friend but Mary caught his cape.

"Boys, no fighting! Apologize to each other."

Both pouted and glared at the other before looking away, "No." They said.

"Apologize or we're not going trick-or-treating." John warned, sounding quite serious.

Cas gasped and the two in trouble flinched at the threat. Dean looked at Jet ashamedly, his shoulders hunched a bit as he pursed his lips and uttered the words, "Sorry I said you look stupid."

"S'okay." Jet shrugged and rubbed at his head, "I kinda do… sorry I hit you."

"It wasn't that hard," Dean grinned and they both laughed.

"Okay, that's better." John smiled and stepped away from the entrance, "Everyone pile into the car, let's get some candy!"

"Yay!" The boys cheered and bolted out the front door, pillowcases in hand for the night's candy haul.

John looked at Mary as they walked out, a slower pace than the kids. "Nikki doesn't look much better, but she doesn't seem to be doing any worse." He explained, "She was pretty emotional when I left, wanted me to thank you since you didn't come by."

Mary smiled, "Well I'm glad to help out, I've never seen his dad around but I think that's because he's always working."

"To pay for that oxygen tank and medical bills, I can only imagine how much that costs." John sighed and walked to the driver's side, "Anyway I think we're doing what we can for the kid, that counts as helping right?"

"Of course," She raised an eyebrow at him as her grin widened. Both entered the vehicle and John took them to the better neighbourhood. The areas where people have large front porches, enormous lawns, and a shitload of candy to give away. Mary thought that much candy would be bad for them but John believed that if you're going to put effort in then you might as well be smart about it; pick the place with the best payoff.

John carried Sam up to the houses while Mary ran with the three youngsters to the front doors. She didn't win the races of course, it was never meant for her to be the victor. Dean always took that title; Cas usually wound up on his face in the grass somewhere. And true to the previous year, Cas tripped again as Dean and Jet bolted to the first house. Mary helped Castiel stand again; brushing him off and telling him it was okay.

Knock knock.

"Trick or treat!" Dean and Jet shouted as Cas ran up beside them to lift his bag along with theirs. The door opened and the occupant, an older woman grinned from ear to ear.

"I've got a couple superheroes and a ghost at my door, whatever shall I do?" She chided as she reached for a bowl next to her.

"Candy!" Cas cheered.

"There's one more," Mary laughed as John walked up with little Sammy.

"And what a scary little bee he is." The lady dropped a handful of candy in each boy's pillowcase, and a few small pieces into the bag John carried for Sam.

"What do you say, boys?" John ruffled Dean's hair.

"Thank you!" They ran off back to the sidewalk where they paused to look in their bags.

"What'd you get?" Cas asked as he looked up at the other two.

"I got full chocolate bars!" Dean grinned at him, "That's so awesome!"

"I can't see too good through my sheet," Jet replied, "But I think I got chocolate too."

Dean peered into his sack and nodded, "Yep."

"Come on boys! Next house, let's go!" Mary called as she crossed the lawns, egging them on to keep rushing. It didn't take much, they were far too excited to continue knocking on random doors and receiving goodies for it. Normally playing things like 'Ding-dong Ditcher Bell' would get them into trouble but not on Halloween.

About an hour and a half was spent out in the streets, the boys were exhausted and their bags had almost become too heavy to carry on their own. John called it a night before anyone got too grumpy and packed the kids back into the car. He kissed Mary on the cheek as she passed him by, "Had a good haul tonight," he grinned and looked back at the boys who all dug through their pillowcases eagerly to look at their goodies.

"Our night isn't over yet," Mary smirked and pinched John's side, "We still have to go through their candy and make sure it's safe."

"Right," he laughed and went to the passenger side, "You can drive, I'm tired."

Mary smiled to herself on the drive back to the middle-class area of town, her husband nodding off in the passenger seat, three five-year old boys overly excited for their newly acquired treasures, and an infant that mimicked his father. It had been a successful night, all she needed to do now was pop in a kiddie movie and they were set.

Jet had stayed over for the night and therefore the boys wound up camping in the living room. As much as they expected to stay up and talk, try to not sleep and all the fun slumber party things, they couldn't help it when their eyelids drooped. Castiel curled up on his side, thinking about the different costumes and creatures he'd seen that night. People dressed up as monsters or whatever else to get candy, he wondered why it was like that. Why couldn't he go any day and say 'trick-or-treat' at a person's door and get candy? And would they say no if he weren't in a costume?

The thoughts swirled in his head and slowly drifted him toward sleep when his body shuddered. One little piece of his mind wouldn't let go of the masks he'd seen, some people truly looked inhuman. "Dean," he heard himself say before he could stop it.

"Mm…" a mumbled response came from his almost sleeping brother.

"Do you think monsters are real?"

Jet snorted a laugh and Cas felt a little bit silly. "No." The other boy scoffed.

Dean opened his eyes and looked at Cas, "I don't know, do you think so?" He shoved Jet for laughing again.

Castiel was quiet for a bit and he shook his head, "I don't know, I don't want them to be."

"Have you ever seen one?" Dean asked before he yawned, his mouth falling open and staying that way for a time Cas thought could have been shorter.


"Then they're probably not real."

Cas smiled and nuzzled up closer to Dean, he felt safer there. Even if Dean's logic was terrible and monsters were real, Cas didn't care. "Goodnight,"

"'Night." Dean sighed and dropped an arm around Castiel.

Barely two months between a holiday full of candy and a holiday full of presents and other goodies wasn't enough time for John and Mary Winchester. They'd been spending most of December organizing gatherings and get-togethers and gift exchanges, Mary was starting to wonder if it really was a holiday for families. At least, that was until their annual family photo theme idea came up.

"Okay," John sat down with a smile, "As per every year we're going to dress up for photos to send out on cards. This year I think it's appropriate for the theme to be 'ugly Christmas sweaters.' What do you think?" John always tried to come up with some reason or another as to why he didn't have to wear a suit for a picture, this time it sounded like he put some thought into it.

Mary stared at him for a moment and couldn't say anything because Dean cheered him on, "Yeah! The more stupid looking the better!"

"That's my boy!" John scooped Dean up into his lap and grinned wildly at his partner, "C'mon Mary, whattaya say?"

She smirked and looked at Cas who looked like he was considering it, "What do you think, sweetheart? Ugly sweater pictures to send to grandma and grandpa?"

He pursed his lips and after a moment nodded, "'Kay but I wanna pick my own."

"Of course, we'll head over to the thrift store and see what they've got." She ruffled Cas' hair and laughed softly at the whole thing. "Who knows, if this goes well we can make this our family tradition."

John and Dean looked pleased with that line of thought though she was starting to feel like she might regret it.

As planned they scoured the thrift shop for something that would suit their theme – it wasn't all that hard to do. John discovered a green-knit sweatshirt, red trim around the collar, hem, and sleeve trims. The real kicker was the added reindeer faces, sewn on and sticking off the surface just enough to be noticeable. Mary laughed at him, which meant he had to get it.

Dean's was a light blue with snowflakes and little cartoon Santas. Similarly to John's reindeer faces, he had fabric ornament balls sewn all around him as if he were a Christmas tree - despite there being no trees on his shirt.

Castiel's was red with a tree, decorated with what looked like Christmas' vomit. It was cut-off at the top to indicate his face was the angel.

Mary chose the classic ugly sweater, the one that had too much going one; too many colours, intricate designs, characters and so forth all in odd places around the body.

They all decided that nothing could be ugly on Sam so he got what looked like a Santa jacket and as expected it was too damn cute on him.

Dressed and ready for the pictures, the Winchesters went in to the professional photography appointment. Dean scratched at his collar and grumbled to himself as he stood under the heated light, Castiel was no different. He whined and rubbed at the uncomfortable fabric, "Mom I don't like it." He mumbled.

"It's just for a few minutes, Cas." She reassured him but the few minutes it took their photographer to set them up was already way too much time. As the shutter went off Castiel was pulling his sweater over his head and everyone but John reacted. It didn't matter how many times they tried to take a new photo, Cas wouldn't put his shirt back on and none of them portrayed their family well enough without it seeming creepy.

So that year they sent out cards with the photo of Castiel disrupting the entire process, except for John. Merry Christmas from the Winchesters!

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