Claire Novak is not an idiot.
She’s spent enough time around Dean and Cas these past few years to know that something had to have happened before Cas was taken by the Empty. Something big. There’s just no way two people could go from being the best of friends (and maybe more) to… whatever this is. It wasn’t long ago that the sight of them flirting like an old married couple made Claire want to pour bleach in her eyes.
Now Cas sits next to Claire at the table, eyes glued to Dean’s back as he whips them up some breakfast at the stove. An uneasy silence fills the bunker kitchen. They’ve hardly spoken two words to each other since Claire got here two days ago.
“Smells good, Dean,” Claire says. She could care less about the food.
“Thanks,” he replies. “Hope you’re hungry.”
“Yeah, sure.” She changes the subject. “So Sam? He’s been living with Eileen?”
Dean nods. “A little too soon if you ask me.”
“Well, the world did almost end,” Claire points out. “He probably didn’t want to waste anymore time being apart from the one he loves.”
Dean is silent for a moment.
“Yeah, well. Still. Happened fast.”
Better than dancing around your feelings for twelve years, Claire thinks to herself.
“So... it’s just been the two of you here then?” she asks, feigning innocence.
Cas visibly stiffens beside her. Dean turns and appears less than pleased with the direction this interrogation is headed.
“Well, Jack visits pretty often,” he explains.
Then all of a sudden Dean gets a phone call, and it must be Sam, because he doesn’t send it straight to voicemail for once. He sets the stove to low heat, excuses himself, and leaves the kitchen. Claire is grateful for the moment alone with Cas if only so she can try and figure out what the fuck is going on between them.
It’s not like she cares though. She’s merely curious, that’s all. It’s still her father’s vessel.
“Trouble in paradise?” she asks, nudging Cas in the arm.
“What? No,” he answers quickly.
“I’m offended you think I’m that stupid,” Claire says, but there’s no malice to it.
“I do not think you’re stupid,” Cas promises. “It’s just… complicated. I thought I would never see him again.”
“When you summoned the Empty,” Claire guesses. Cas sighs and nods. “Oh shit. You told him, didn’t you? Thinking you’d never have to deal with the consequences? But then Jack brought you back! And now Dean’s all freaked out. Because he knows .”
“See? Hardly stupid,” Cas says. He takes a sip of his coffee.
“Oh, I’m not stupid. You two are. This has been going on for, what? Twelve years? It took you twelve years to make a move.”
“I said my piece. The ball’s in Dean’s court now,” Cas reminds her. “I’m not even sure he feels the same way.”
Claire nearly chokes. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“What?” He looks dumbfounded.
“You are the most…” she begins, but stops herself short. “How have you existed for literal eons and yet you still can’t tell when somebody likes you?”
“Dean said I was like a brother to him,” Cas points out.
“Yeah, well, Dean’s repressed,” Claire says like it’s a diagnosis. She lowers her voice just in case Dean’s on his way back. “I see the way he looks at you, stupid. We all see it. Do you know how fucking wrecked he was when you were gone? He nearly got himself killed on a routine vamp hunt. Impaled by a nail or something. Does that sound like the Dean Winchester we know?”
“I didn’t know about that,” Cas says quietly.
“And Jack had to tuck him into bed most nights after he found him passed out drunk on the floor. He was trying to drink himself to death. Because he lost you .”
Cas opens his mouth like he’s going to say something, but the sound of footsteps approaching cuts their conversation short. Dean returns to the stove, oblivious to the conversation that just took place, and shovels scrambled eggs and bacon onto three plates. He sets the plates down in front of them without a word. He looks at neither Claire nor Cas as he begins eating.
It’s another couple of months before Claire is able to visit Dean and Cas again.
And things are very different.
The first thing she notices is the complete shift in energy at the bunker. Dean and Cas greet her at the door side by side, like a married couple welcoming home their daughter from college. Dean takes her bags to her room, Cas ushers her to the couch and offers to get her a drink, and even Jack is there. As Cas fetches her something to drink and Dean is preoccupied with the luggage, Claire gets a moment alone with Jack. She pulls her little brother into a tight hug and exchanges quick pleasantries before acknowledging the elephant in the room.
“Are they…?” she asks in a hushed tone, knowing Jack will catch her drift.
“Well, shit,” is all she can say. Twelve years in the making, huh.
“They seem happy,” Jack says brightly. “I think they’re trying to keep it a secret from me, but they’re very bad at hiding it. Last night they went out to dinner and Dean wore a tie.”
“When did this happen? And why didn’t you call me the second it did?” She punches Jack in the shoulder.
“Ow! I did! You never answer your phone! And like... not long after the last time you were here?” Jack guesses, rubbing at the spot where his sister punched him. “Everything was weird and then it wasn’t. It’s nice.”
“It’s gross,” Claire corrects him. She can’t help but smile though. “But like, in a good way.”
“Yeah,” Jack agrees.
At first, Claire isn’t sure what Dean’s angle is when he asks if she wants to help work on Baby. He just needs to change her tires, which she knows Dean is perfectly capable of doing on his own. Which means something is either really wrong, or Dean is finally ready to open up about The Whole Situation with Cas.
They work in silence for a while. Well, Dean works and Claire kind of stands off to the side awkwardly. She’s about to ask why Dean even needed her help when he breaks the silence.
“So, uh, when did you know?” Dean asks, aiming for a casual tone.
“When did I know what?”
“You know,” he shrugs, and is he blushing ? “That you like girls.”
“Oh,” she says, and then it dawns on her. “ Oh. ”
“We don’t have to talk about it,” Dean says, giving her an out.
“I think we do,” Claire tells him.
“Do we though?”
“Yes. I was ten. Her name was Emily. She was my best friend.”
“Huh,” Dean says. He looks restless, like he wants to say it, but he physically can’t. Claire knows the feeling.
“It’s okay, Dean,” Claire tells him. Suddenly he looks small like a child and she squashes the urge to reach out and comfort him. “Some people won’t ever be okay with it. Hell, Jimmy Novak was a devout Christian. He probably would have sent me away for it. But that doesn’t make it wrong.”
Claire’s sure that Dean knows a thing or two about disapproving fathers.
“I know,” he says quietly. He can’t meet her eyes when he says: “I love him.”
“Yeah, you’re pretty shitty at hiding it,” Claire says. “And you’re both stupid.”
“Yeah,” Dean laughs.
“Twelve years? Seriously? And I thought lesbians were bad.”
“So you’re… okay with it?” He looks nervous now, and it dawns on Claire that Dean is asking for her permission in his own weird sort of Dean way.
“I don’t care,” Claire says with a shrug.
Dean sees right through her, as he often does. He tries not to smile. “Cool.”
Claire has never actually been to a wedding before.
There’s just never been time and hunters aren’t really the marrying type anyways. She smirks into her champagne flute as she watches Dean fiddle with the bowtie of his tuxedo. He looks comically out of place. She knows he wanted a small wedding, but Sam insisted they go big. The only time everyone gets together like this is for a funeral. It was about time they had something to celebrate. Claire kisses Kaia on the cheek and excuses herself.
“Wanna dance?” she asks.
Dean’s face softens and he holds out a hand for her.
“You know, you’re probably the first flower girl who’s ever walked down the aisle in a tux.”
“And probably the oldest flower girl,” Claire laughs.
“Well, it made Cas very happy that you agreed to it. So thank you.”
“I always knew you were a softie,” she teases.
“You’re one to speak.” He nods in Kaia’s direction.
The song comes to an end, and suddenly Dean is being pulled away by their photographer to take more pictures with Cas. Claire spends most of the reception with Jack and Kaia, who are the best of friends suddenly. At one point, Claire smashes cake in Jack’s face, and he retaliates by splashing her with champagne. Claire dances with Kaia, and then with Jack, and then with Cas. Sam gives a really sappy speech, and Jack gets all choked up next to her. At one point, the photographer grabs Claire and Jack so she can snap some pictures of the four of them together. Dean is carefree and Cas is laughing, and neither of them look out of place.
It’s weird having a family after being alone for so long.
A few weeks later, Claire changes her lock screen to a picture of the four of them at the wedding.
“I want to ask you something, but if you make a big deal about it, I might change my mind.”
Dean and Cas exchange nervous glances.
“What is it, Claire?” Cas asks.
“Well,” she swallows. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and Jody’s been great and all, and I know biologically you’re already my father, so it probably doesn’t even matter…”
She realizes she’s rambling and takes a breath.
“Whatever it is, of course it matters,” Cas reassures her.
“Okay, well. I just thought maybe if you guys wanted to adopt me? That would be cool. But, it’s like whatever. You don’t have to.”
Cas smiles fondly at her, and Dean looks surprised more than anything.
“Are you sure?” he asks.
“I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t sure,” Claire says. “But I still want to hunt. So I might not always be around, but I want it to be like, official. I mean, I know it’s all bullshit, and a piece of paper doesn’t mean anything, but…” She’s rambling again. “I just… I want you guys to be my dads.”
“We want that, too, kid,” Dean says.
“More than anything,” Cas adds.
They practically all go in for a hug at the same time. It’s sappy and embarrassing and quite a few tears are shed, which Dean and Claire will both deny forever.
Things are far from perfect.
Dean and Claire butt heads all the time. Claire still resents Cas sometimes. She slams her door and screams at them and locks herself away in her room sometimes. Dean and Cas are still learning how to be with one another on top of learning how to raise two kids. It’s messy. But it’s also weird and good and crazy and wonderful.
Sometimes she watches them with each other. Dean and Cas. She’ll look outside and catch them sitting on the hood of Baby, drinking a couple beers, watching the stars. Or she’ll see Dean passed out with his head in Cas’ lap on the couch. She watches Dean comfort Cas who gets choked up at Jack’s graduation. She watches them dance at her wedding to Kaia.
“You know, I was always rooting for you guys,” Claire tells Dean one night after everyone else has gone to bed. “Even when I hated you both.”
Dean laughs. “How come?”
“I dunno,” she says.
“I think you just wanted me to be your dad,” Dean teases.
“Yeah, it was all part of my master plan.”
Dean stands up from the kitchen table and ruffles her hair. “Try to get some sleep soon.”
“Give Cas a kiss goodnight from me.”
“You know I will,” Dean replies suggestively.
“Oh, you love us.”
“Yeah,” Claire laughs. “I do.”