A Christmas Surprise

Dean dropped his duffel onto the single bed and glanced around the dismal motel room. Housekeeping had put up a little pine plant on the top of the cabinet that barely passed for a Christmas tree, obviously in some effort to be cheerful, but it only made Dean feel small and alone. Sam was still in Texas, and still very firmly not speaking to him.

“Merry fucking Christmas,” Dean muttered.

There wasn’t even any eggnog in the mini fridge. Damn it.

After settling in to watch the Christmas movie marathon playing on the gritty television (usually A Charlie Brown Christmas eight times in a row would at least make him laugh, but tonight it just made him depressed) Dean half-heartedly ate a microwaved burrito and pulled the covers up over his head, not even bothering to change out of his jeans. It was only 7pm, but what reason did he have to stay awake?

He had almost drifted off when there was a furious pounding at the door. Dean groggily flicked the light switch back on and stumbled out of bed, rubbing his eyes and praying that it wasn’t the front desk receptionist to tell him about a problem with his payment.

He threw open the door and was immediately handed three pies, one on top of the other.

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Linda Tran said, crossing her arms and regarding him with her lips pursed. “I don’t want to be here, but Mr. Sock Puppet over there insisted.”

“What the—?”

She breezed past him into the motel room, leaving him standing in the doorway with two arms full of pie. Which, he wasn’t complaining, but…

“Feliz Navidad, my friend!” Garth practically sang as he swung in past Linda, carrying two bags of what looked like wrapped presents and sporting a striped hat like some kind of deranged Christmas elf.

Kevin came in next, dragging his feet and giving Dean a half-hearted wave. Dean was glad to see that his finger had been angel-restored to all it’s former glory.

“What is happening?” Dean asked the kid.

Kevin shrugged.

“Christmas,” he said nonchalantly. “It’s his favorite holiday, apparently.”

“Second favorite!” Garth crowed, taking the pies from Dean and setting them down on the table. “That Easter Bunny is one crazy motherfucker.”

Dean then found his arms full of skinny Christmas crazy as Garth hugged the life out of him.

“How did you even know I was here?” Dean demanded once Garth had released him.

“Tracked your cell phone, of course,” Garth said. He looked around the room, his smile dipping a little. “Where’s Sam?”

“Sam and I ain’t exactly…” Dean gritted his teeth. Kevin was watching him curiously. “We figured we’d take separate vacations this year.”

Garth’s face fell. “That ain’t right!” he said, the little bell on the end of his hat jingling as he shook his head. “No one should be alone on Christmas!”

Dean opened his mouth and closed it again, not really knowing what to say.

“Are you boys going to start eating this food or did we get three pies for nothing?” Linda called irritably from across the room.

Garth snapped into action.

“There’s still some food left in the car!” he said. “Kev, let’s run out and get it. Dean, see if you can find something to watch other than A Charlie Brown Christmas, that Pigpen character always gave me the creeps.”

It turns out the three of them had brought turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, and a wealth of other side dishes. Linda lamented that she couldn’t make her family recipe casserole, but Garth assured her that there was always next year. Kevin pushed his green beans around his plate until his mother nudged his elbow, telling him he couldn’t have any pie if he didn’t finish, and Dean watched them bicker, suddenly struck by the normalcy of this scene, the possibilities of a next Christmas, a holiday to look forward to.

They finally settled on It’s A Wonderful Life, though Kevin protested, claiming he’d had enough of angels, and the movie was just getting started when there was another knock at the door.

“Seriously?” Dean glared at Garth. “Who else is coming to this party?”

He stomped to the door and threw it open to find a giant wreath with a big red bow and two trench-coated arms wrapped around it.

The wreath was immediately shoved into Dean’s arms and Castiel blinked.

“My apologies for the size,” he said. “Garth told me to bring decorations.”

“You got his number?” Dean looked at Garth incredulously.

“I got everybody’s number,” Garth said, not taking his eyes off his sweet potatoes.

Castiel stepped inside, and behind him, shuffling his feet and ducking his head— Dean sucked in a breath— was Sam.

“Hey,” Sam muttered. “Cas found me.”

“Hey,” Dean said. “That’s…”

There was a terrible, awkward pause.

“Look, I’m still mad,” Sam said. “But it’s, you know. Christmas. So.”

“Yeah,” Dean breathed.

“Let’s just have a good holiday, okay? We can talk about it later.”

“Mrs. Tran brought three kinds of pie,” Dean said.

A tiny smile flitted across Sam’s face.

“Pumpkin?”

“You know it!” Dean smiled, big, and let Sam pass him into the hotel room. Mrs. Tran greeted him with far more civility than she had addressed Dean with, but Dean couldn’t even bring himself to care.

Castiel had seated himself directly in front of the television, and Dean tugged a little on his trenchcoat to make him glance upwards.

“Thanks,” he said quietly.

“Don’t mention it,” Castiel said, looking back at the TV.

“Hey.” 

Castiel looked up again, this time holding Dean’s gaze.

“What’d you say to him to make him come here?”

“I told him there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching television,” Castiel said. “It’s that Christmas is about being with your family.”

Dean looked around the room. Linda Tran was serving Sam a slice from each kind of pie, and Garth was telling Kevin about his latest hunt, in great detail and with very vociferous sound effects.

“Yeah, it is,” he said, letting his hand rest on Castiel’s shoulder.

Castiel pointed at the screen. “Is this why Meg always called me Clarence?”

Dean laughed, big and loud, and Sam’s eyes found his across the room. They smiled at each other, briefly, but real and it was enough, for now, for Christmas. Dean sat down next to Castiel, their shoulders pressing together, and suddenly, the little pine tree on top of the cabinet, which Garth and Kevin had decorated with icicle lights and a little angel on top, didn’t look pathetic at all. It was exactly right.