Wait and See

The Past, The Potential, The Want

When their father had told Dean and Sam what he wanted for them it had been for Sam to go back to school and Dean to have a home. Dean's been thinking about that a lot since the baby came.

Sam was the baby in their family, and John obviously would have wanted this for Sam at some point out in the future where he would have been able to think of Sam as more grown up. Dean can picture John's face meeting Chelsea. John would have gotten Sam and Chelsea, even though Dean has a suspicion that John wouldn't have actually liked her. He can imagine the way he might have smiled when handed the baby. Even in Dean's imagination, Grandpa John can't work up the warmth of Grandpa Bobby. Sophie doesn't enthusiastically try to eat his shoulder like she does with Bobby. But it's a mostly normal little scene.

Unlike Dean's current one.

Chelsea had fed Sophie, Sam had changed her, Cas had started dinner, and now Sam and Chelsea were napping and whatever Cas was making was baking in the oven. Most of Chelsea's sisters had gone home. Her parents were still in town, but were taking a night for themselves. Dean and Cas were holding down the fort.

Dean had told Cas that he'd noticed that Cas had been actively avoiding holding Sophie. Cas had admitted that he didn't know how. So Dean had taken a break from his epic game of peek-a-boo, grabbed Cas and set him down on the couch to teach him how to hold his niece.

"The most important thing is to hold up her head," Dean says quietly. Sophie is looking up at him wide-eyed, like she has doubts about this endeavor, Cas is giving him a very similar look, but there's a clear undertone of want there. Cas had picked up on the expectations around the baby quickly. He'd brushed his hands over her hair and let her grab his fingers. It was obvious that he'd wanted to hold her, but hadn't wanted to throw in an extra thing for Chelsea to explain about him when he knew he already seemed odd to her family.

Her sisters thought he was adorable, her mother clearly has concerns about the whole "strict religious upbringing" thing and her father had given Cas and Dean a couple of very awkward smiles, and initiated a couple of even more awkward conversations where he was obviously trying to get across the information that he was completely fine with the whole gay uncle thing, but didn't have the finesse to realize that the best proof was not mentioning it. But he was seventy and he didn't mean any harm by anything he said. He was trying. Dean wasn't really the type to get offended, and Cas was just trying to seem as normal as possible and trying to meet small talk for small talk.

And that's what makes Dean keep thinking about John as he carefully arranges Cas's arms into a baby holding position. If Bobby were here he'd smile warmly and say something like "It's a baby, not a grenade, son," to Cas. Chelsea's father would give them a tight smile and find somewhere else to look. John… Dean wasn't sure what to think about that. He was mostly just trying not to.

He brings one of Cas's arms up against his chest, then tucks his other arm underneath it. He scoots a little closer, perching on the coffee table and slowly shifting Sophie's weight into Cas's arms.

She kicks and squirms, Cas's eyes widen in panic as she moves before he realizes that his hold is firm. Dean watches the way that Cas just stares at the baby for a while before looking up and whispering, "She's very small."

Dean swallows the lump in his throat at that. Cas doesn't chatter at her, or coo, or play. He just watches her, gaze moving from her face to her feet whenever they wriggle.

"Who do you think she looks like?" Dean asks, scooting a little closer to him on the couch, so that their knees are touching.

"Looks like? I don't understand."

"People usually try to figure out who a baby looks like."

Cas stares at the baby more intensely for a few moments, then looks back up. "She looks somewhat like Bobby." He blows his cheeks out to demonstrate Bobby's newly filled out frame. "I didn't think it would be polite to mention it."

Dean laughs out loud and can't help but kiss Cas, lingering a lot longer than he usually would have in someone else's house because it's one of those moments where he just loves Cas so much he can't even deal with it.

"Hey, come on," Sam's still sleep-gruff voice cuts into the moment. "Don't make out on my kid." He heaves out a put upon sigh, but grins at them and comes to sit on the coffee table with Dean. "You finally got a turn?"

"Yes," Cas says quietly. "She's kicking now."

Sam beams at Cas, slaps a hand on his shoulder and looks down at Sophie too.

Dean's glad that he's shrugged off enough macho Hunter bullshit to love this moment: watching his six day old niece kick and squirm in his lover's arms. This is what you live for.

A routine settles for the summer. Dean picks up a few scattered shifts at the garage. It's a nice recharge from school, and he realizes just how badly he needed this break. Sam and Cas buckle down on getting their lore database live and Hunter accessible. Chelsea goes back to work. Dean and Cas come over most evenings to baby sit and make dinner while Sam and Chelsea nap or go for a walk or just basically take a break from the New Parent life.

Dean and Cas never pick up the conversation on their own kids. Dean writes it off as not worth dredging up. Cas seems to be biding his time. Dean lets him bide away. They do end up getting a dog. They go to the shelter and tell them that they are looking for an older, calmer dog who likes kids. They wind up with very chilled out Newfoundland/Irish Setter mix. His name is Dodger. When he runs around he looks like a very happy bear, when he lies down, he looks like a very ugly shag rug. Chelsea adores him and buys him a bandana that gets lost in his shaggy mane.

They get so used to just walking in that they forget when Chelsea mentions her mother is staying over for a long weekend. They walk in one day to the sound of lung bursting cries. Chelsea's mother Cindy is walking around the living room, bouncing Sophie and trying to get her to take her pacifier. Dodger startles her when he barks loudly and Cindy's feelings are clearly a little bruised when Sophie spots Cas and reaches for him, and a little more when Sophie calms almost instantly in Cas's hold and Dodger plops down between her and the boys.

"I must be a little out of practice," Cindy sighs.

"She's just used to us," Dean says. "We're here everyday. Didn't mean to scare you."

"No, no," Cindy says. "As long as you calmed her down."

"Sam and Chelsea out for the night?"

"Movie and dinner. Sam's idea. Very sweet," Cindy says. Dodger seems to realize that they all like Cindy. He plods forward and presses his head to her thigh in greeting. She reaches down to scratch his ears and seems mollified when he nudges her harder.

The three of them exchange uncomfortable small talk while Cindy pets an absolutely blissful Dodger. Cas hands a smiling, happy Sophie back to Cindy with a bright, "Your Grandma wants to hold you!"

Cas's bright baby voice is still weird to hear, but he does it because it makes Sophie burble at him. He's recently realized that it also makes Dodger wag his tail so Dean's been hearing a lot more lately. Sophie seems to trust Cas's decision to give her to Grandma Cindy more than she trusted Sam and Chelsea's decision and she coos happily at Cindy whens she asks Cas and Dean to stay.

They wind up making dinner together. Cindy and Cas cook. Dean sits on the floor with Sophie so that she can pet Dodger and shriek with delight whenever the dog licks her fingers.

"You two are good with her," Cindy comments.

"Thanks," Dean says, pushing Dodger back a little bit so he doesn't lick the baby's face again. "We're trying to get her first word to be uncle," he jokes. "Sammy would be so mad. He would be so mad if we got you to say uncle before the D-word. He would be so mad at us."

Sophie smiles. Dean's bright voice is way more annoying that Cas's and Cas ribs him about it.

Cindy chuckles. "So how did you boys meet?"

It should be an easy answer. For as long as they've been together it's a little suspicious that they don't have a coordinated response but it takes them a second before Dean just responds "Fallujah."

"We were soldiers," Cas corroborates.

"It's really not a romantic story," Dean says, taking refuge in blowing a raspberry on Sophie's tummy.

"It's not," Cas assists.

It's awkward again for another moment before Cindy dives back into the always safe topic of all the cute things that Sophie has done today.

The evening with Grandma Cindy basically forces Dean to think about what he's really been avoiding thinking about- the idea of Grandma Mary. Dean's aware that the only things that he knows about his mother are rose-tinted at best. It's all based on John's drunken hagiographies and the gold cast memories of a four year old remembering the good old days before his life burned.

But he'd like to pretend that his mom would like Cas. Make some joke about Angels watching over him, because he'd be able to tell her about where Cas had really come from. How they'd really met. Cause she'd been a Hunter and she'd believe all of it, and maybe even understand why it had to be Cas.

He feels a touch of guilt when he thinks this, because they have Karen. She knows the raised from perdition story. She knows the truth about how Dean and Cas moved from brothers in arms to lovers. But still. Dean thinks about it. He's a little lost in thought until he's dragged back to reality by Sam and Chelsea coming back from their date, and the bizarre look that Sam gives them for just hanging out with his mother in law before Chelsea sticks out her hand and shows them the ring.

Sam almost feels silly these days about how worried he'd been about giving Sophie a normal life. They haven't given her a normal life, but he feels like, collectively, they've done better than that.

Sophie's happy and healthy and she runs around laughing and buries her face into the fur of Dean and Cas's mutt with this happy growl noise the makes Sam able to feel his heart actually melting.

She's starting to talk a little bit. She can demand most of her most important needs "Bun" for Captain Hops-Along. "Jus" for her juice cup. "Da", "Ma". Dean and Cas's combined efforts had gotten a delighted "Unk!" out of her before any other babbled syllables had gotten a meaning attached to them. Her second word is "Buhd" which she yells at al the robins in the yard, and chimes out every time a new one lands in the birdbath outside the kitchen window.

Sam and Chelsea have agreed that they tied for third with "Ma and Da" and poor Dodger comes in fourth with "Doj".

She's an incredibly well behaved baby. She sits through most of Dean's graduation ceremony without getting fussy, and calms down when she's handed to Cas.

Sam's noticed this over the last year. Cas is, for some reason, an instant balm. At first he thought it was like all the baby books said- babies are usually more easily calmed by people other than their parents for the first few months because their parents are tense and exhausted. But the by time Sophie was crawling Chelsea had stopped believing this. She thinks it's a residual Angel thing. Cas, who is starting to go just a little grey at the temples, is skeptical of this theory.

They have a huge graduation party for Dean. Sisters in law fly in. Chelsea's parents fly in. Gabriel scares the ever-loving crap out of Sam by waltzing into the kitchen with a giant piece of cake in one hand and Sophie in his other arm. She's grinning and eating her fingers and yelling "Buhd! Buhd!" over and over again.

Sam pulls Sophie out of his arms instantly, ignoring the look that Cindy and Martha give him. Sophie looks back at Gabriel with a questioning, "Unk?"

"No," Sam says to her, a little to harshly. "Not an Uncle."

"Buhd!" Sophie concludes.

"Chelsea! Sam! Good to see you!" Gabriel crows. "And the baby, just darling. She looks just like you, Chelsea, you must have been so relieved." He grins, takes an illogically large bite of cake and meanders outside where he gives some creedance to Chelsea's hasty explanation that he's a cousin of Castiel's by hugging the poor shocked guy.

Sam keeps an eye on him, and doesn't let anyone but Dean, Chelsea or Cas hold Sophie until Gabriel leaves.

He can be God all he damn well pleases, but Gabriel's not holding his daughter.

Dean wakes up, gets out of bed, and then carefully pulls the covers up so that Cas and Sophie are still covered up. He goes downstairs to put on a pot of coffee before he wakes them up.

Sophie's staying with them for a long weekend. Sam's taken Chelsea on a mini-vacation. Sophie comes over after pre-school with Sam most days of the week, they still have Friday night dinner, and some times Chelsea brings her by for Sunday breakfast, but he and Cas have never had her all to themselves for this long.

They had eventually had their discussion about how they'd never have kids of their own. It had bummed them out for a couple days, but there had been a baby niece to distract them, then a dog, then Dean's classes had become a struggle, then he'd had a job to start.

He'd been able to let the want fall away to the back of his mind until this week. And then last night the thunderstorm had scared Sophie. Dodger, who had been sleeping in her room, walked her down to his and Cas's room, and kid and dog had both crawled up onto the bed with them. Sophie had scooted down between him and woken him with a very loud whisper of, "Uncle Dean? You awake?" and a hand on his cheek.

And all of a sudden, the slight ache that he hardly thought about anymore, was a hard, sharp pain. Like a gunshot wound.

He hears nails clicking on the stairs as Dodger works his way down the stairs and trots over for his morning ear scratching and Dean allows himself to wallow a little bit before anyone else wakes up.

He's got himself back together by the time happy chatter and creaking floorboards signal that Cas and Sophie are awake. Sophie is telling Cas all about how scary the storm was and Cas is agreeing.

Breakfast is quick. Sophie and Cas team up to sneak Dodger bacon, even though Cas knows that it drives Dean nuts when he feeds Dodger from the table.

She has a minor meltdown over her pink shoes not being in her suitcase, but Cas coaxes her into her brown ones while Dean grabs the paper.

Something about the paper sets his spidey sense tingling, and it takes a moment before he realizes that it's the date.

It's been six years since the apocalypse. To the day.

"Time for school!" Sophie cheers, now that the pink shoe apocalypse has been likewise averted. Dean scoops her up and leans over with a distracted, "Give Uncle Cas kisses," before giving Uncle Cas a quick kiss himself and hustling out to the Impala.

It's weird to realize that it's been so long since he stood between Adam and Sam possessed by Michael and Lucifer in that field. Weird to think about how everything everything, everything has changed. Cas, human and greying. Dean with his life and dog and house and job, and how he shares all of those things with Cas. Sophie getting excited about the geese in the yard. Dodger chasing after them. Sam and Chelsea married. Bobby and Karen thinking about retiring. Their coven of sisters in law. Holidays with their big extended family.

It's weirder to think about how little he's thought about it recently. Outside of an aggravated sigh whenever another Supernatural book comes out, and the less and less frequent calls as Sam becomes the go-to for monster advice, Dean doesn't think about Hunting much at all anymore. He sees the odd stuff in the paper, but it's not as frequent as it used to be, and he hasn't read specifically for weirdness in months.

Sophie wants him to walk into school with her, and the shoe meltdown is obviously mostly about her missing Sam and Chelsea, so Dean decides to humor her.

Sophie marches him into her classroom, and Dean waves helplessly at the young teacher as Sophie drags him into the classroom behind her.

The teacher grins at him. "Let me guess- you're Uncle Dean?"

"That's me." Dean shakes her hand. She introduces herself as Mrs. Roach.

"Uncle Dean can come to school," Sophie offers.

Dean picks her up and kisses her cheek. "Uncle Dean already went to school. That's why he has to go to work now."

Dean sees the next round of tears starting, so does Mrs. Roach.

"Sophie? Why don't you show your Uncle your drawing before he goes? It's in your cubby."

Sophie runs off to get it.

"She's actually already showing talent for drawing. We've been talking about families this week and I recognized you from her picture."

Sophie comes back with her drawing and Dean has a split second to admire the fact that he recognizes Sam by his hair, and himself by his scrubs before he realizes that Sophie has not drawn Uncle Cas in his jeans, shaggy hair and flannel button downs.

She's drawn him with a tan coat, blue tie, black pants.

And wings.

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