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Four Birthdays for the Birthday Boy

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1.

Jack’s actual day of birth was hardly one to celebrate. Cas wasn’t there. He was, well, dead. Dean doesn’t speak much of it, more than grateful Cas is back and they’re all together again. Cas doesn’t wish to “open old wounds” as they say. 

Sam tells him a little about it. But there really isn’t much to tell. A day that should be celebrated, the birth of his son, tainted with loss.

Which, perhaps this is why Cas is stressing about Jack turning one year. It’s his first birthday anniversary, and Cas just wants it to be perfect. He doesn’t want anybody, especially Dean, dwelling on the events of that day. Dean’s drinking tends to get worse on anniversaries of his friends’ deaths.

They moved into their new home just a few months ago. Castiel had brought up leaving the bunker, wanting to raise Jack in a home where they can actually get some fresh air by opening a window. He considered moving to the house he and Kelly prepared, but Dean had come to him with some local houses for sale, with enough bedrooms for the four of them. Cas hadn’t expected it. He fully expected Dean to move on and continue hunting, maybe even visit every once in a while.

In Cas’ efforts to free Dean of whatever responsibility he felt he had, Dean followed him to their new home, with a backyard in much need of work, like the rest of the house.

It was quite the “fixer upper” as Dean mentioned and still is. Despite living there a few months, they still haven’t completed all the projects that need to be done. Partly due to Dean abandoning one momentarily to start another one he felt also needed to be done. 

Which is why Cas’ door is off the hinges leaning against the hallway wall, and the horrendous living room wallpaper is peeled off but not painted over yet, and that Dean is currently replacing the perfectly fine kitchen sink with one of the fancier ones where the faucet comes off to act at the hose.

“Was that really necessary, Dean?” Cas asks from his seat by the island, where he’s currently blowing up balloons. He’s using one of those helium tanks. He wouldn’t mind blowing them all up himself, as he would not get lightheaded like Dean did when he tried to, but Dean insisted that it was cooler if they were floating as opposed to laying on the floor. And Dean didn’t want to admit blowing up balloons himself made his head spin. “There was nothing wrong with our sink.”

Dean looks offended, and brushes Cas off like he doesn’t understand these things. “The hose didn’t even work! But look, see,” Dean turns on the water and pulls the attachment off the faucet using it as a hose. “And look,” Dean clips it back and presses a button changing the setting on the water from the steady stream to a rainfall. “It’s got different settings!”

Dean looks proud of his addition to the house. Cas can’t help but smile and share the excitement. 

“It’s perfect, Dean.” Cas picks up one of the non-helium balloons and hits it over toward Dean’s face. “Now you promised you’d bake those cakes for tomorrow.”

 

Picking a theme for Jack’s first birthday party was quite a task. Cas and Dean discussed it for months leading up to the party thinking they had plenty of time, but then the month of May hit and they still didn’t have a theme, which meant they hadn’t even started the actual party planning process. Dean wanted to do cowboys, of course, but Cas reminded him it was Jack’s birthday and that they can do cowboys for his own in January. 

They couldn’t really ask a one year old his theme preferences, but since Jack’s current comfort toy was a llama, they agreed to do a llama theme.

Cas is stringing up the last of the colorful banners and streamers when Jack comes toddling out of the hall, wearing his birthday outfit. 

It’s a white onesie that says “Me LLAMA Jack” on it. Dean had it especially made and laughed his ass off when it came in the mail and he first showed Cas. His pants are light blue with little cartoon llamas on them, and clutched in his hand is, of course, his llama. Jack’s hair still hasn’t fully grown in on the sides, most likely from his sleeping habits, causing a natural mohawk which curls slightly at the top when they don’t brush it out after his bath.

Jack bends down to pick up a floor balloon which immediately falls from his grasp as he tries to juggle his stuffed llama and the balloon together.

The doorbell rings signalling their first guest, and before he knows it Cas is surrounded by people he’s come to call family.

Jody, Donna and all the girls came. Even the new ones, Patience and Kaia. Claire especially has taken on the ‘big sister’ role, much to Castiel’s surprise. Mary is there, too, standing beside Eileen and Sam. 

Dean brings out Jack’s birthday cake sometime later in the party. Jack sits in his highchair kicking his feet idly. Dean had made a larger cake for the rest of them, and a small “smash” cake for Jack. In a hopefully optimistic gesture, they placed a silicon bib curved at the bottom to catch food around Jack’s neck.

Jack eyes the cake in front of him, then looks to Dean in silent question. Jack reaches for the small toy llama Dean placed on top and brings it to his mouth chewing on it. He then straightens his arms out and brings them down fast onto the cake. His little face twists in confusion as he brings his small hands back up and white icing--Dean didn’t want it to stain--sticks to his fingers. He experimentally brings his hand to his mouth and his face contorts further as he tries to make sense of what he’s eating. Cas can relate, trying new human foods is daunting. So many flavors and textures. 

After a couple tries, Jack seems to decide he likes it. He starts grabbing larger fistfuls and bringing them to his mouth, some of it making it, most of it ending up on the floor or in his bib or chair.

The rest of the party enjoys the cake that had not been destroyed by a toddler.

Although, Jack isn’t the only one who ends up with cake all over his face. A younger brother with a vengeance gets Dean when he’s least suspecting. Claire is next as Dean gets payback for laughing at him. Dean eventually gets Sam back, who spent quite a while hiding behind Eileen, like a coward , Dean said. Claire gets Dean back, but misses and hits his chest, which is her mistake as he envelops her into a hug as she squeals and brings the plate with the remnants of frosting and cake back up to the side of his face, leaving it there as it sticks.

Sam still hides behind Eileen pouting as he wipes frosting out of his hair. Claire and Dean must notice Cas has gone unscathed during their battle.  Claire tackles Cas into a hug spreading the frosting onto his clothes. Cas knows the hug is of malice intent but he doesn’t seem to mind and he wraps his arms around her. Dean hugs him next and is sure to wipe the side of his face onto Cas’ cheek. When he pulls away, Cas has to fight the urge to kiss the frosting off of his lips as he smirks at him, and he has to look away when Dean’s tongue darts out to wipe away the temptive icing. 

The party settles down and Cas excuses himself to give Jack his bath. As he’s washing the icing out of Jack’s “mohawk” he wonders if Jack’s aware of how lucky he is, to have a warm and loving family like he does. Cas feels lucky.

2.

Jack’s second birthday is hardly a party. He had to send out a cancelation notice the day before because Jack is throwing up. And what’s worse, is Cas can’t just heal him. 

He feels like a failure. His grace is deplenishing and in a few months it’ll be gone for good. Last time he healed Jack, from just a simple scraped knee, he had passed out for almost the entire day. He’s in limbo with his grace, he almost wants to just rip the rest of it out like tearing off a bandaid, instead of this slow painful torture.

Dean assures him it’s fine, kids get sick all the time. Cas can’t help but want to do more than hand feed him soup that he’ll just vomit out half an hour later.

But Cas does what he can. And if all he can do is lay on the couch with Jack watching cartoons to comfort him, and bringing the trashcan to him every once in a while then that’s what he’ll do. 

Dean is on the other side of Jack, running a hand through Jack’s hair as the boy curls into a little ball. Jack’s always been very pain sensitive. Cas wonders if always healing him made that tolerance particularly worse. Cas sighs.

He listens to Jack’s whimpers and whining, his own stomach turning at the thought of Jack in pain. And how it’s Cas’ fault. 

As if reading his mind, Dean reaches over and grabs his hand, offering a reassuring squeeze. Dean’s eyes are trained on him. His bright green eyes are dim with worry. Jack will get through this, they know. But it doesn’t keep them from wishing Jack wasn’t feeling so bad.

Dean holds a bowl between his and Jack’s laps containing plain crackers. Jack munches slowly, biting off the corner of the cracker cautiously. All their blankets are pushed on the floor as Jack makes a perfect little heater between them, as his fever tries to fight off the virus. 

Cas wipes the sweat from Jack’s forehead. He supposes they can reschedule his birthday, Jack wouldn’t even be aware it’s not the same day. He makes a mental note to text Sam later, keeping in mind, he and Dean will most likely catch the virus next, they’ll have to plan it further in the future. 

For now, he spends the night making sure Jack is drinking enough water, and comforting him, with Dean by his side. 

3.

Cas watches as Dean hoists Jack onto his shoulders. He holds his hand as Jack places his feet on either side of Dean’s head, Jack’s knees awkwardly bend to hold on as he wobbles and tries to catch his balance. 

They count down from three, chanting the numbers as Jack carefully lets go of Dean’s hand and jumps off, Dean grunts slightly when Jack pushes off his shoulders, using him as a makeshift diving board. Jack curls into a ball as his body hits the water causing a decent sized splash for his size. 

Jack re-emerges from the water, his hair stuck to his forehead and his bright green and orange floaties keep him afloat. Jack paddles over to Dean, gulping water down as he goes. He grips Dean’s arm, shouting, “Again! Again!”

Dean laughs before lifting Jack up in the air, and tossing him a few feet over, his legs kicking as he screams and lands in the water with another splash. He pops his head up and swims over to Dean again. 

Cas sits with legs dangling in the pool. The cool water on his calves are a stark comparison to the heat of the concrete. The warm rough concrete digs into his hands, ass, and thighs. 

Sam pops under the water, as Eileen climbs onto his shoulders. The two of them tower over Claire who sits on Kaia’s shoulders, who moments before we’re challenging anybody who thought they could defeat in a “Chicken Fight” they called it. Cas notes that the objective seems to be to knock the opponent down, while each player sits on their teammates shoulders. Sam and Eileen accepted, and while Eileen is small in stature, Sam’s height more than makes up for it, causing an awkward imbalance as Claire and Eileen grab each other’s arms to pull the other off.  Claire ends up using her opponent’s height to their disadvantage as the awkward leaning leads to the older couple’s downfall. 

He feels a wet, pruny hand slide onto his thigh. Dean’s got an arm on the concrete and the other on his leg. “Come on,” he says, nodding to Claire and Kaia who are whooping and declaring themselves undefeated. “Let’s go kick their ass.”

Cas peers over Dean’s tanned, freckled shoulder. Jack is over by Donna and Jody, climbing onto the ledge of the pool and showing off the different ways he can jump off the side of a pool. There aren’t that many ways, but Jack makes them a little different by holding his arms in a different pose each time. 

He smiles back down at Dean, whose hair is soaked and slicked back, longer than he’s ever seen it before. His thick eyelashes are clumped together with water droplets hanging off. 

Cas rolls his eyes fondly at Dean’s nudging. He pulls himself the rest of the way into the water. Before Dean is able to kneel down into the water, Cas ducks down, nudging Dean’s leg. Dean gets the message and hops on his shoulders, hooking his legs around Cas’ body. 

Perhaps, they did not consider, what was Eileen and Sam’s downfall, would be even more-so Cas and Dean’s hubris. The two of them stand taller than Sam and Eileen, and make their way to Kaia and Claire, who don’t appear intimidated by their new opponent. 

While Dean brings strength to the dual, Claire has agility, well, as much as you can have in a game of Chicken Fight

Cas does his best to stand his ground, as the bigger you are the harder you fall. He and Kaia watched intently, trying to keep their teammate up as they push and pull each other. Brute force eventually wins as Claire eventually makes the plunge into the water and then pops up and demands a rematch.

The Chicken Fight goes on for a little longer, each match short and partners changing up everytime. 

At some point he finds himself with Kaia on his shoulders and Claire on Dean’s. He and Kaia won that round, much to Dean and Claire’s equal discontent. 

Dean gets Sam onto his shoulders to fight Eileen on Cas’. Eileen and Cas won that one too, though Eileen accused Sam of throwing the match, and both Dean and her made them do a rematch, which Sam and Dean won. 

Cas then finds himself settled on the side of the pool with Jack, as he watches Sam climb onto Eileen’s shoulders. Claire looks at Dean and he immediately shakes his head, saying, “absolutely not.”

Jody and Donna join that fight though. Claire and Kaia cheer wildly as Jody knocks Sam off his girlfriend’s shoulders. 

The last fight is Jack on Cas’ shoulders after asking to play, Claire hops on Dean’s and she pushes and pulls gently at Jack. He is significantly easier to hold onto, his mass not causing an imbalance. Though, he has his legs spread out, instead of hooked around him, causing Cas to do most of the work holding onto him. Claire and Dean throw the match, dramatically falling into the water as Jack and Cas cheered. 

After declaring Jack the all-time-champion, they pull themselves out of the water for cake. 

Cas lights the candles. The Finding Nemo themed birthday cake sits in front of Jack, who’s wrapped up in a large blue towel printed with sea shells. He smiles big, his tongue poking through the slight gap in his teeth. 

He gets too excited, he blows out the candles before anybody gets a chance to sing, causing Cas to light them again. 

-

Cas stares at the blinds on the window as he lays in his bed. Water droplets speckle the window from an earlier sunshower. The distant sound of the bath running pours through the open bedroom door. He can just barely make out Jack’s muffled voice as he plays with his toys and recaps the entire day back to his dad, as Dean washed the chlorine out of his hair. 

Cas let’s the low conversation sooth him, as his eyes trace the shadows from the moonlight. The white blinds are spotted with the shadows of the water droplets from the windows. He supposes they could look like constellations, but they truly remind him of freckles. Dean’s freckles. Cas could spend hours staring at the constellations that paint his face. In fact, he has. He knows them by memory, always has since the day he rebuilt Dean’s body. 

Some days he feels the memories slip away from him, the longer he’s human. Finds it harder to remember the exact formula in which stars are made, or the translation of a forgotten language. He thinks he may one day forget the constellations, but he can’t find himself forgetting the pattern of freckles on Dean’s face or on his shoulders. 

How could he, when looking at Dean is like breathing air for the first time. A rush, a need, a longing. 

The bathroom door opens and Dean appears in the doorway a moment later, with Jack on his hip wrapped up in a large towel. 

Cas sits up and Dean brings him over. “Say goodnight,” he whispers, as if Cas isn’t still awake. 

Jack wraps his arms around him, planting a big kiss onto his cheek. “Goodnight, I love you!”

“Goodnight, Bee. Happy birthday,” he says into his wet hair. He places a kiss on his cheek as he pulls away and Dean takes him to put on his pajamas and put him to bed. 

He’s in a limbo of consciousness and unconsciousness when he finally feels Dean snake an arm around his waist and place his own kiss on Cas’ neck. 

Not for the first time, Cas thinks he can stay like this forever. In this house, with Dean and Jack, and their large family, so full of love. 

4.

“Dad, wake up!” A bright and cheery voice says. Way too cheery for this early in the morning. Cas feels two small freezing hands on either side of his face and a knee pressing down on his gut. He groans and fights the urge to swat away his son.

His husband stirs beside him as Jack continues to tap Cas’ forehead repeatedly. “So much for waking up before him,” Dean grunts out. 

“You never wake up before me,” Jack states confused.

Cas pries his eyes open finally as it dawns on him. It’s Jack’s fourth birthday, and he and Dean were supposed to surprise him with breakfast.

Dean reaches over and pulls Jack in close and ruffles his bedhead. “Yeah, that’s cause you always wake up at the butt-crack of dawn.” Jack giggles while kicking wildly when Dean grabs his side in emphasis. Jack curls his body in trying to pry the hand away.

It is the cruel joke of parenthood, for two dads who would sleep until noon and can’t function without at least 3 cups of coffee, to have a son who wakes up, well, before the sun, always cheerful with bounds of energy.

Cas pulls himself into a sitting position to match Dean as Jack bounces slightly in place.

“Do you know what today is?” Jack asks, expectantly.

Dean puts his hand on his chin mimicking a thoughtful pose and hums. “Hmm. Let’s see, it’s Tuesday.” He snaps his fingers when he comes up with an answer.

Jack giggles and shakes his head. “No!”

Dean’s eyes widen. “It’s not? I thought it was!”

Jack’s giggles spill over into his words. “No, silly! What’s special about today!”

“Ah!” Dean gives a knowing smile. “It’s half price sushi at the market.”

“No!” Jack’s laugh becomes infectious as he climbs onto Dean trying to get him to understand. 

“Dean,” Cas fakes an exasperated tone. “He means it’s May 18th. It’s tax day I believe.”

“No, that was yesterday.”

Jack lets out a dramatically frustrated tone to rival Cas’, and flops backwards onto the bed.

Dean rolls his eyes and laughs at the performance. 

“Happy birthday, Jack, Cas says finally.

“Yeah, happy birthday, kiddo.” Dean picks up the limp child and tosses him over his shoulder. “Now, what do you want for breakfast?” he asks as he carries Jack out of the room, Jack’s laughter fades through the hall. 

-

After breakfast, they pack up the car and head for Jody’s. The girls wanted to throw the party this year, not that anybody’s complaining. Who knows if this will be the last year it’s just the family celebrating. Jack starts preschool this year, which neither Cas nor Dean is ready for. Next year, Jack will have lots of school friends to invite to a party. Cas can’t see Jack having a hard time making friends, he’ll probably want to invite his whole school. He already has some he’s made at the park or the store. Sometimes he’ll meet someone once and never see them again, but still talk about them like they’re best friends. 

Next year they really might have the whole school there. Cas considers momentarily the price of renting a venue.

Everyone’s already there by the time they arrive. The backyard is covered in streamers and balloons, and a large inflatable bounce house. He’s sure that took a lot of convincing, and by the way Dean perks up at it, he may be spending the evening convincing his husband not to climb into the bounce house.

Kaia’s to the side with some paints currently face painting what appears to be a… snail, on Sam’s cheek.

Jack runs up to Eileen and Patience who are waving plastic sticks up in the air, forming large bubbles as Jack sticks his face in one and attempts to eat it.

Cas is quite impressed with the set up, and by the look on Dean’s face so is he.

“We’re gonna have to get the girls to do Jack’s party every year,” Dean leans over and fake whispers. 

“Agreed.” Cas walks over to the mountain of presents and deposits his and Dean’s gift on top of the pile. They definitely informed them not to go overboard this year with the gifts, and they clearly did not bother listening. Castiel can’t find himself the slightest bit upset.

He glances over to Dean, who’s watching fondly as Kaia paints Sam’s other cheek with a large blue and white flower. Dean rubs the heel of his hand over his eyes and sniffs quietly.

“Dean,” Cas says, grabbing his hand. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, man.” He sniffs again and laughs lightly. And, genuinely, he adds, “I’m fucking great.”

Cas has learned quite a lot about humans during his time with the Winchesters, and even more during his time as human. He recognizes Dean’s happy tears, he’s seen them plenty by now,

He waits for Dean to elaborate.

“Just,” he says, watching Jack situate himself on Sam’s lap, pointing to his cheek, asking Kaia to draw a flower to match Sam’s on his own cheek. “We never got this.” Dean waves hand haphazardly. “The parties, the cake, waking up in our own bed, Saturday cartoons with a home cooked breakfast.” Dean glances down at their conjoined hands. “I wanted this for Sam, so bad.”

Cas wraps his arms around Dean’s waist resting his head on his husband’s shoulder. 

“I’m just really happy, Cas.”

“Me too, Dean.”

-

A small part of the afternoon is spent chasing around a hyperactive four year old to make sure he wears his sunscreen, but a large part is spending time with Jack doing all the games and activities set out.

Claire has a butterfly wing painted delicately on each side of her face surrounding her eyes. Dean makes the fatal mistake of complimenting it which finds him forced into the seat, receiving himself a butterfly face paint. Eileen had Kaia paint her to look like a clown, but has since washed it off when Sam refused to kiss her or even look at her. She’s had her face painted again in an explosion of colors and swirls.

Donna’s painted like a cat and Jody is painted like a rainbow unicorn. Kaia’s handwork is remarkable, considering her canvases especially. Sam had to practically hold Jack still in order for her to work, but managed to make a blue ad white flower on his cheek to match Sam’s and later added a small black batman symbol on his other cheek.

Cas sits down in the chair in front of Kaia. He’s not sure what to ask for so he allows her to do whatever. He half expects her to do something like an angel, but she dips into the green first. The paint feels cold and soft and tickles slightly as it glides over the side of his face in delicate swirls. When she’s done, he has green vines and ivy decorated with small white flowers covering the side of his face. 

“Aw, you should’ve made him an angel.” Claire whines. “Missed opportunity.”

Kaia rolls her eyes. “That’s boring, babe, at least get creative.”

Claire rolls her eyes back, almost mocking and briskly walks away climbing into the bounce house, kicking her shoes off.

Cas battles with fake swords with Jack. Eventually Jody and Donna whip out some water guns and spray Cas right in the face, before tossing him his own. Jack defends his honor chasing after Donna with his own gun. He scans the backyard, noting a few people missing. He doesn’t remember them going inside. The bounce house, however, is clearly occupied, as it moves around as its occupants bounce around and laugh. 

He peeks his head in finding Eileen, Claire, Alex, and Dean pushing each other around.

“Hey Cas,” Dean says, shameless.

“Dean, I need you to step outside for a moment,” he says, holding his water gun behind his back. 

“Sure, why?” he asks as he slows down and kneels to exit.

“Time for cake,” he lies. He hears Jody snicker behind him. “In fact, you should all come out.”

Dean eyes him warily as they stand waiting patiently for each occupant to exit. He looks about on the verge of asking when Cas and Jody bring up their guns and spray them.

“Son of a bitch!” Dean shouts, and reaches for Cas who steps away out of reach. The others yell an attempt to hide behind each other before sprinting to the back porch for the rest of the water guns.

Jack runs up and sprays Jody and Cas from behind. Dean uses the distraction to grab Cas' gun and spray him in the pants.

Dean laughed maniacally at the large wet spot on the front of Cas’ pants.

“Wow, Dean, mature.”

“Hey, you started it!” 

Cas bitchfaces at the comment. 

“Now, where’s Sammy?” Dean asks, rhetorically, looking around with mischief in his eyes.

Before he can wander off, Jack runs in front of them, spraying them both again, in the chests. “I got you!”

Dean and Cas don’t even exchange a look before they’re falling back dramatically, faking their death, wishing Jack a happy life.

Jack laughs and flops across their stomachs, eliciting a groan from both of them.

“Hey, kid, let's go get your uncle Sammy,” Dean says pulling himself up. Jack happily follows along, holding onto Dean’s pant leg as they “sneak” over to where Sam is, to drench him the the sprays of their plastic weapon.

And it goes like that. Running around the backyard to keep up with the four year old, waving foam swords and spraying plastic water guns, and blowing bubbles. Somebody brings a water gun into the bounce house turning it into a death trap that almost takes Patience out and nearly causes Dean to break a hip, much to Claire’s amusement. They stop briefly for cake and presents before resuming war until Jack is hardly holding himself up, and Cas deposits him on the couch for the rest of the night, completely wiped out.

Cas would say it was a pretty great birthday, and he and Dean would have to top it next year.