It’s new… all of it. A family. Claire hasn’t had a family since she was 12 and she watched her father walk away. It wasn’t really her father — just the celestial being that was wearing him. Now, she has a Cas, a Dean, a Sam, a Jody, a Jack, an Eileen. The list goes on, which has never been the case before. She made her way through foster home after foster home, then group home after group home.
Rooms in multiple houses are assigned to her, now. For Claire and Claire only. She has a place at Jody’s house, Sam and Eileen’s house and in Dean and Cas’ newly built home. It’s right next to Jack’s, and it has a sign that says “Claire’s Room” drawn in with scratchy and dimly colored crayon that Jack made her. Dean got her a record player for her birthday and Cas got her a Lana Del Rey album on vinyl. God knows how he knew how to get that, but he did. It all sits in the room perfectly the way she wanted it to.
Nothing really is perfect, though. Claire misses her dad and her mom. Sometimes, she looks at her life and wonders what Jimmy and Amelia would think of it. The way she dresses and talks and acts. She kills monsters for a living and kisses girls. Claire doesn’t care about keeping up with the binary of what gender is and how to live a life. Christianity and all religion was booted out of her mind since she felt Castiel taking over her body and entering her father’s forever. Claire went to church every Sunday.
Prayed to God and hoped that He would take away her sins. She remembers the nights, countless nights, laying and looking at her white ceiling wishing that God could scrub her brain free. Even then, she knew that she wasn’t enough.
Now, though, it was a different type of guilt that eats her up at night. The feeling that she doesn’t belong — it never leaves her. No, now, she just lays awake in the twin bed at Dean and Cas’ house and looks up at the beautiful ceiling that Dean built with his own hands. The ceiling that is now hers in some capacity.
Claire’s arms and legs and stomach burns to be hurt, to be scarred and inflicted with the pain that she has been feeling for 10 years. It feels wrong, though. In this room. It’s Claire’s, all hers. Something she hasn’t gotten since she was 12 years old because Castiel took it away from her, but now he’s giving her what she missed out on. He has given it. Claire loves him, she knows she loves him. It doesn’t make what he did any less brutal.
“Um, yeah?” Claire speaks into the dark.
“It’s Jack,” the voice says from outside the door. It’s late, far too late for a 4-year-old-in-a-teenagers-body to be up.
The door knob turns slowly and Jack slips into the darkened room, illuminated by a red light from the fixtures that Dean put up for her.
“What are you doing up?” Claire questions while scooting over in her bed so Jack can have room to sit.
“Couldn't sleep. Don’t know if it’s because of the half angel thing or because I could hear you thinking.”
Claire raises her eyebrows. “You can hear me thinking?”
“Not actually,” Jack emphasizes.
“But you can feel it?”
“Yeah,” he smiles. “Like Cas doesn’t need to hear a prayer to know that you want him.”
The twinge of pain she feels in her heart subsides quickly as it’s replaced with embarrassment at the times she simply thought of Cas. Hoping that he would show up and magically heal her of all of the anger and pain she feels most of her days.
“Who said I was wanting a toddler to walk into my room at 1am?” Claire jokes and Jack laughs, eyes crinkling the way Castiel’s do. His smile is soft and light, unburdened by all of the horrific incidents that should have killed his spirit by now. He’s just a kid still, though.
“I don’t know,” he replies innocently.
“What are you thinkin’?”
“I don’t know. I just felt like you needed someone right now.”
This is new to Claire too. Gentleness, kindness.
“I’m good, Jack. You should sleep.”
“Totally,” he agrees. “Or you could teach me how to braid hair?” Jack puts on his best smile-slash-pout while Claire rolls her eyes.
“Fine,” she gives in. Not like she was going to sleep any time soon. Jack probably wasn’t either (his God-like powers were diminished by the help of Amara, but he’s still half angel). “Come here.”
Jack scoots closer, sitting criss-cross applesauce in front of Claire. She releases the scrunchie from her hair and lets the curls fall. Separating a section from the front, she ties the rest back.
“Okay, so. First you just take a section and separate them into three different strands of hair,” she says. Jack nods along, listening intently. “Then you just like, cross the right one over the middle. Then you do the same to the left one.”
The blonde hair moves between Claire’s fingertips slowly. Jack looks on, moving his own hands to the pace of hers. A half angel who was once kind of God and has helped save the world — but doesn’t know how to braid hair.
Claire lets Jack try it on her hair, he ends up kind of just knotting the strands together and then letting them go. They go over it a few more times, and by the end of it there is a somewhat acceptable braid at the front of Claire’s head.
“I did it!” Jack exclaims.
“Ya sure did.”
“You look pretty, Claire.”
She rolls her eyes. “Only sayin’ that ‘cause you’re the one who styled my hair.”
“You always look pretty,” he says sincerely. “I like having you here. I know you like hunting and having your own life. But… but I like it when you’re here. It’s like I have a sibling — for just a bit, at least.”
If it was anyone else in the entire world, Claire would lash out or roll her eyes again. But it’s Jack. A pure kid in every sense of the word. A kid who has seen way too much for someone his age, just like her and yet not at all. Jack remains kind and unjaded. The kind of kid who comes into your room because they know you need someone.
“I like being here too.” Then she says — and if anyone asks her, she did not say this and that whoever said she did say it, can fuck right off—“I’m glad you’re my sometimes-brother.”
Jack smiles, that soft one that looks like Castiel’s. It used to hurt her. Both of their smiles. Looks too much like her dad at first glance. As the years have gone on, though, that smile is more and more Castiel’s than Jimmy’s.
“Are you going to sleep, Claire?”
“Yeah,” she says, yawning, realizing just how tired she is. “Are you?”
“I’m kind of awake now. Might get some cereal.”
“Well, I can’t say no to some late night cereal.”
They both venture down the hallway to the kitchen. Claire has aced sneaking around quietly, but Jack doesn’t seem to share that skill. The cupboards squeak and the bowls knock against each other. He almost drops the milk right onto the floor.
“Dude, shut up,” Claire whisper-yells.
“I’m trying!” Jack says — loudly.
By then, it was too late. Dean and Cas’ footsteps were already heading towards them.
“Guys, what the fuck are you doing?” Dean ponders, robe hanging to the floor and hair sticking up everywhere. Cas doesn’t even say a word, just stands still and squinting into the dim light of the kitchen.
“Late night cereal!” Jack says.
Dean looks at Cas and shrugs. “I could eat.”
“Pour me a bowl, Jack,” Cas joins in.
So, they all sit at the big dining room table and eat sugary cereal at 2am. The urge to hurt Claire felt earlier subsides, just the usual dull ache she normally feels. She lets herself laugh and smile looking around at the weird was family she has found herself a part of.
Just because something is new, doesn’t always mean it’s destined to be horrible.