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Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Supernatural Christmas Carol Chapter 6

Authors: Lady Laran and Tisha Wyman
Warnings: Bad language and violenceSpoilers: Season Five - so if you’ve not seen it, be warned a few things are a bit weird.Disclaimer - We do not own Supernatural nor A Christmas Carol. The show is owned by Eric Kripke and the book is by Charles Dickens. Neither of us has rights to this nor have we earned anything by doing this. We’re just doing this for fun. Oh..we also don’t own Christmas at Ground Zero or any other carols that might be mentioned. This is a story of healing, family, humor, and horror. Sounds like a typical Thursday night on the CW. (Of course, the CW has gone bonkers and moved them to Fridays, now. We shall see.)

In Which Dean Learns Beginner's Luck is All Encompassing

Dean woke slowly, feeling peace of mind and comfort. Both of the sensations were unnatural to him. It took him a few minutes to remember where he was. He sat up and stretched, then turned towards the other bed and noticed that Bobby was not there The hunter smelled coffee and something else. Was that ham? He got out of bed and quickly got dressed. Heading into the sitting room, Dean found no one in the suite. He entered the small dining room of the B&B and found the other three eating.

A full breakfast was ready for Dean to choose from, set up in a buffet style. There were several tables with people eating as well.

The hungry man got scrambled eggs, ham, and biscuits with sausage gravy. He'd never seen that before, but it looked good. He got country fries and a large cup of coffee before he joined the others. "What time is it?"

"Nine," Castiel answered, sipping on a cup of tea. "You slept later than we expected you to."

"I guess I was more tired then I realized. I figured I might sleep to eight but not this late. I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Bobby said once he'd finished chewing his bite. "You needed the rest. It's not like we have to be somewhere, you know?"

Nodding, Dean took a bite of the biscuits with sausage gravy. He chewed it slowly, savoring the flavor. "Damn! We need to learn how to make this. Did you guys get any of it?"

"We all did," said a chewing Sam. "It's damned good. We'll have to find a recipe for it and have you make it in the future."

Dean nodded, his mouth full. He was eating like a normal human being, not the Dean Winchester they all knew. They kept commenting in their minds on this because it was so abnormal for the older Winchester brother to behave this way.

They ate and sipped their drinks with appreciation, enjoying the good food like this and each others' company.

Swallowing, Dean asked, "You guys want to go out and do anything today or just maybe hang around the rooms and just talk, watch movies, or play games? If not, we can see what is happening today around the area."

"I'm not sure," Bobby commented. "What sounds good to you?"

"I don't know the area. No idea what's out there. We got the Dickens thing tonight. I saw that they have an indoor Schlitterbahn. Rafting in the winter? They got this Moody Gardens thing that has a big Imax and a ton of other stuff. But to be honest, last night was so nice. Why don't we do it again today?"

Castiel broke his silence, offering his own opinion to what today‘s activities should be.

That sounds good to me."

Dean smiled. He looked at Sam and Bobby with a questioning expression on his face. The two of them agreed, smiling back around mouths full of food.

The older hunter smiled again. "I found three decks of cards. Ya'll want to play some poker? Or would Monopoly be more your taste for today?"

"No reason why we can't do both," Sam replied, sipping at his coffee. "We've got some snacks and can order in for lunch."

"Sounds good to me." Dean was really enjoying himself and taking the time to enjoy the company. It was a nice change for him. He was pretty sure the others felt the same way.

Castiel frowned. "I do not know how to play poker though."

"We'll teach you, Cas. You should be a natural."

Bobby grinned at that. Cas did have an amazing poker face.

When the meal was over, the men headed back to the rooms. Dean went to forage in his duffel and found three decks of cards and poker chips. He smiled as he entered the room and cornered Cas. Taking the angel aside, Dean opened a deck of cards and explained poker, showing him the different types of hands, explaining odds, and what hands could win. He talked about bluffing. Dean knew his poker. Cas had a perfect memory.

Sam watched the two as he poured coffee for the group, tea for Castiel. "You get the feeling we're about to lose badly?"

Bobby watched the two also, "Yeah, boy, I do. Dean just gave his whole way of playing to an angel. What do you think? The ultimate Dean Winchester?"

"We're screwed."

"Man would be an idjit to play for money. Chips only and Dean will have to deal with it."

Sam looked at Bobby, asking the next question that popped into his head.

"Do you trust Dean as dealer?"

"Hell no, do you?"

Sam grinned. "Definitely not!"

“Well I suggest we cut for first deal. Prefer they are already mixed before he gets his grimy little paws on them."

"Agreed," he settled into his chair, waiting for the others to sit down.

"I got a feeling it's going to be a major battle at this table, boy. Dean knows his stuff as he's supported you two with poker and pool for years. I know you can play pool as well as he can, and you aren’t a bad poker player. Dean is just a card shark and a damn good one. Cas knows it now. I get a feeling Dean may have met his match. Big time. Don't care whether I win or lose. This is one epic battle and I'm proud to say I am here to see it." Bobby took a long drink of his coffee. He grinned at Sam.

He grinned back. "Oh yeah. And don't forget, I managed to get the years back for Dean."

"I know you did, boy. I know. Good job, too."The grin softened to a smile, enjoying the compliment. "Thanks Bobby. That really means a lot."

Bobby was about to speak when Dean and Cas joined them. The older Winchester brother sat down and reached for a box of cards. "What are we playing for?"

Sam handed out the piles. "Just chips."Dean frowned. "Why?"

"For one, you're a card shark. Two, you just taught the one individual with the best poker face I've ever seen how to play the game Dean Winchester style." He stared at the two.

It was interesting to watch the knowledge of what he'd done dawn on Dean's face. His mouth opened in an oh, and his eyes glazed over for a minute. He got a tic over one eyebrow for a second. Regaining control of himself, he said, "Yeah...chips would be a good idea." Dean removed a deck from its box and prepared to shuffle. Bobby and Sam snickered at that, watching him carefully.

Bobby touched Dean's wrist. He stopped and looked at him. The older man smiled and mentioned that they wanted to cut for dealer on every hand. Dean looked shocked. "I always deal first, then it goes around. It's just a friendly game, Bobby."

“It's just better to keep it honest, and handing the deal around would make it a bit more fair.”

"That's fine, Sam, but we're still cutting for first deal. Sorry, Dean." Bobby reached for the cards and set them on the table. “Sam, show Cas how to cut.

"Sam did just that, aware of Castiel's eyes on him. Everyone cut the cards. Cas won the cut. "He doesn't know how to shuffle," Dean groaned.

He sighed, showing Castiel how to shuffle. It took a few moments before the angel picked it up and began shuffling it. Dean looked at his cards , thinking it was going to be a long game. Sam looked at his cards as well, arranging them. His brother told everyone to ante up one chip.

Dean looked at Bobby. "He's dealer. He doesn't know about asking how many cards. You're up."

Bobby looked at his hand and asked for two cards. Cas dealt him two as Bobby had discarded two. He looked at his hand. Dean asked for two cards as well. Two cards were handed to him by Castiel. Sam took one card. Castiel took three.

Bobby bet three chips. Dean bet three and saw him with two. Bobby threw in two, and Sam and Cas added theirs.

Dean looked at everyone and laid out 4 kings. Bobby tossed his hand down in surrender. Sam threw his cards down too and then choked when Castiel laid down a royal flush.

Dean froze, staring at the royal flush. He looked at Cas. He looked at the deck of cards. His gaze returned to the royal flush. He turned red, then white. His freckles showing clearly on the pale skin. It took him about ten minutes to comprehend what had just happened. The older brother stood up, walked out of the room. Sam and Bobby stared after him, surprised. A few minutes later, he returned with a Monopoly game, muttering, "You're on you own with this one."

Sam covered his face, body shaking with laughter. Damn, that had been priceless!!!! Bobby had to hide his face. He didn't want Dean to see him, but his body was shaking so hard that it didn't take Dean more then a second to realize that both men were laughing. He gave them a sharp stare and began to open the new game.

Castiel wasn't quite sure why they were laughing so hard. He stared at them for a moment, trying to determine if they needed help.

Dean wouldn't look at Cas for the moment. He could not believe he'd lost. Striving to figure out how that happened, he was truly at a lost. Cas could barely shuffle. A royal flush should never have come from that deck. He shook his head and asked Sam to explain the "basics" of the game. Once he calmed down, Sam did just that as he dealt the money to each player.

They rolled to see who would go first and Cas won. Dean buried his head in a hand

What's the matter, Dean," Bobby asked with a grin as Castiel rolled to move. Dean just stared at Bobby and watched Cas land on a railroad. He bought it, handing the money to Sam. The older Winchester watched Bobby roll and move to one of the light blue properties. He gave his money to Sam and got the deed. Dean rolled and landed on chance. He drew a card which sent him straight to jail. His eyes opened wide, and he moved his piece to the jail and handed the dice to Sam.

"You're not having any luck," he commented to his brother as he rolled his dice.

Dean just grunted, watching Cas. Castiel simply looked back at him, an eyebrow arching in a silent question. Sam rolled and went around the corner to land on a property which he bought. The angel rolled and landed on a card. He drew it and asked where Boardwalk was.

Bobby groaned, pointing to the dark blue property. This was getting off to a lovely start.
A thought dawned in the older Winchester's head. "Cas, they play games very often?"

"Not really. Most of the time, they're incredibly busy."

"Well, do they ever play games with humans?"

He frowned. "What do you mean?"

"How good is an angel's luck? Does he lose...ever?"

The angel shook his head.

"I am unsure of that."

“Well, Boardwalk on the second roll. A royal flush in your first hand. Man, someone ought to know about angel luck."

Sam handed Castiel the property. "Next."

Bobby landed on visitation. Dean just stared at him before paying his fifty dollars and got out of jail. He rolled and landed on Free parking.

"Well, that's a start," Sam commented with a grin.

"I am halfway around the board, Sam, with nothing."

"You'll land on something."

"That's what I'm afraid of."

He bit back a laugh and waiting for the next turn.

"It's your turn, Sammy."

Sam rolled and moved his token. Cas took the dice and rolled. He went around go and got his 200. He landed on a card. Dean watched him ask what a get out of jail card did. He lowered his head and waited for Bobby to roll. Which Bobby did, chuckling as he did so.

Dean rolled and got another large number. He swore under his breath as he landed on go to jail. Sam excused himself, heading to the kitchenette to refill the coffee, and started laughing once his brother wouldn't hear him. Bobby excused himself and followed Sam.

"Damn it, Sam, I think the boy's right.”

Bobby was laughing so hard, he was holding himself and tears were rolling down his face. Sam was near doubled over, struggling to breathe through the mild hysterics he was in. The older man was trying hard to gain composure but was finding it hard to do so.

"You know this can be more interesting then poker? My question is how much of this will Dean take?"Bobby snorted as he started laughing harder.

Sam splashed his face with water to regain control...grabbing the coffee pot. "No idea but let's find out."

The two men returned to find Dean in a stare down with Cas. The angel had no idea what was bothering Dean. The hunter knew it was just a stupid game, but no one's luck was that good and no one's was that bad. He looked up as the two men entered. Both had suspiciously red eyes. His brows drew into a frown. He almost said something but tried to remind himself it was just a stupid game.

Sam refilled the coffee. "So, whose turn is it?"Staring and holding up his cup, his brother mumbled, "Yours."

Once he'd finished pouring coffee, he took the dice and rolled. Dean watched Sam buy a piece of property. He looked at Cas, who rolled the dice and landed on another railroad. Dean's eyebrows went up. Castiel purchased the property and handed the dice to the next person. Bobby rolled and landed on Free Parking. Dean paid another $50 to get out of jail. He landed on another card. He just sat there and stared at the deck.

"Aren't you going to take a card, Dean?" Sam tilted his head.

"Hell, no."


“I'm either gonna have to pay somebody or go somewhere where I will have to pay, or I'm back in jail. You pick which one I do. Save the damn card that way.”

"Just pick up a damned card, Dean," Bobby grumped at him.

Dean picked up a card. He had to advance three steps which put him on free parking.


Dean looked at his brother and Bobby. "How many rolls now? I've been around the board one and a half times. I haven't even landed on one piece of property, and I've been in jail twice. What are the odds? I think I'm jinxed."

Sam rolled, laughing softly.

"Damn it, Sammy I'm serious," the older Winchester said as he watched his brother buy another piece of property.

"Why would you be jinxed over a game?"

"Come on, Sammy, first hand in poker, a royal flush beats my 4 kings. And look at the Monopoly."

"So you're having a bit of bad luck, doesn't mean you’re jinxed." The dice was handed to the next player.

Cas rolled a double and landed on free parking. He rolled again and landed on a third railroad. Dean turned white but said nothing. He knew he was jinxed and couldn't figure out how it was happening, unless Cas now had their combined luck. Hell, was that even possible? He started to ask Sam and thought better of it. Sam and Bobby would laugh and think he was just stupid. That and Dean did not want to hurt Cas.

Bobby was watching this and having a good idea as to what was running through Dean's head. It was hard not laughing, especially considering that Dean's luck could be, all things considering, pretty incredible. It just didn't seem to compare to Cas's beginner's luck. Bobby rolled and landed on a utility and bought it. Dean was worrying his bottom lip and it was blood red. He reached for the dice, and just sat there holding them. Finally, he shook his head and rolled them. He got a high number and ended upon Boardwalk. Shaking his head, he paid Cas his rent. At least he got by go to jail.

Sam reached over, bopping his brother over the head. "Stop that or it'll start to bleed."

Dean looked at him, shook his head, and handed him the dice. He rolled, giving his brother a look. This was supposed to be fun, and it didn't look as if he was enjoying himself. Dean watched Sam land on Pennsylvania and buy it. Cas picked up the dice and rolled another double and landed on the fourth railroad. Dean stared and said nothing. He just kept staring. Cas bought the fourth railroad to make the first monopoly of the game. He rolled again and landed on Park Place.

Dean muttered, softly. Sam could hear "Damn it!" come out of his mouth, but his brother kept still and said nothing out loud. This was a big win for Cas, and he was not going to destroy it.

Castiel stared at Dean. "Should we find another game?"

"No, it's fine. You've got a good run of luck going, Cas. Have fun with it."

"But you are not enjoying it."

"I am trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Don't worry about me, Cas. I just have this feeling that my luck turned today and nothing's gonna go right."

"Perhaps I am just experiencing beginner's luck?"

"I think so. Enjoy it, Cas. Seriously. It's not your luck I'm worried about. It's my lack of it right now. Yours shouldn't be affecting what's happening to me. Enjoy it, okay?"

He nodded, handing the dice to his left. Bobby rolled and landed on chance. He got 10 for a beauty contest. Dean laughed at that. Bobby handed the dice to the older boy and his eyes grew big. Everyone could see his adam's apple go up and down as he swallowed hard and rolled the dice. He landed on go.

"Well, I finally get my money from it."

"Nice job," Sam grinned.

"You making fun of me again? " Dean grinned at his brother.

"Never," he teased.

"Always were a lousy liar, Sammy." Dean handed him the dice.

"Oh really?!"

"Yeah, really. You'd know it too if you thought about how I always knew when you were."

He grinned at him, enjoying the banter.

Dean grinned back. "Better roll, wouldn't want me lose this fabulous luck I'm having."

The dice were rolled while Sam snickered. Now that Dean was getting into a better mood, it would be more fun. "Dean, we need some tunes."

"Christmas or rock?" Dean was laughing as he headed to the dvd player. He grabbed a cd and in went the flute music, again. With a grin, he put it on replay.

"I think I like that cd a lot" was Sam’s comment when he heard the music that was chosen.

Dean grinned. "Never thought I'd like flute music, but it makes me feel peaceful inside. Wonder what other cds he's got. I don't guess they do rock flute do they?"

"I don't know about that artist but there's a group called Jethro Tull that has a flute player. Also one called the Moody Blues." Bobby sipped at his coffee after answering.

Dean stared. "Really? Gonna have to find them."

Bobby nodded, still nursing his coffee.

"Yup, they experimented a lot with instruments back then."

“Well, when we leave the Strand tonight, I'd like stop by the music store I saw last night...or better, stop there first. I want to hear the groups. "

"All right," Bobby answered.

"Since you know them, will you come in with me and help me find the right ones?"

He grinned at him. "Not a problem."

"Thanks, Bobby. Whose turn is it? Sam, you roll?"

"Yeah, I did."

He handed the dice to the next player. Cas rolled and landed on the first dark purple property past go. He collected his money and bought the property. The angel handed the dice to Bobby, who rolled too. He shook his head when he landed on a railroad.

Dean winced when he saw that. "Man, that's $200. Tough roll, Bobby."

He handed the dice to the next player and paid Castiel. Dean took the dice and landed on a railroad, too. Shaking his head, he gave Cas the $200.

Sam rolled and landed on a railroad as well. "I'm starting to see a trend here."

"Yeah, I'm waiting for him to build hotels."

Castiel started adding houses to the monopoly he had on Boardwalk and Park place when it was his turn. Dean started counting his money and knew his game would soon be over. No income, no money to pay those two properties. He laughed.

Once again, the angel rolled, moving his token. He landed on a railroad, and Dean started laughing. Bobby stared at Dean, smiled , and rolled. He rolled a large number and landed on another railroad. Dean now had tears flowing down his cheeks. It would seem his bad luck was spreading.

Sam rolled as well, snickering as he hit yet another railroad.

Cas rolled and landed on a utility. "Who has the other?" Dean asked.

"I don't think it's been bought yet."

"No, I'm pretty sure one was bought already. Hey, Bobby, it's under one of your other properties."

"So it is," he found it. "I'd forgotten I'd gotten it."

Dean smiled, "Your turn to roll, Bobby."

Bobby grabbed the dice and did just that. He missed the railroad by one number and bought a property. Dean smirked, shaking the dice hard, he rolled, saying, "I'm going for a new record. Losing...without any properties."

Sam snickered at that. "This will be a new one."

"Yup." Dean looked at the rolled dice and moved, landing on jail. "Just visiting? Okay.”

"Better than being behind bars," his brother joked.

"That's for sure," muttered Dean "Your turn, Sammy."

Sam reached for the dice, rolling them and coming up with doubles.

"Uh, Sammy, I think that's go to jail."

"Only after the third roll of doubles.""Move your piece, man. That's go to jail."

He did and cursed. "That sucks!"

"You got that right."

Cas put a hotel on Boardwalk and four houses on Park Place. He rolled and landed on a railroad. Dean looked at Sam and said, "I'd stay in there the three rolls."

His eyes widened. "No kidding!"

"Yeah, you have to get out after three rolls, but hell with what he's got on the board, any reprieve is good."

"Shit, damn, Cas, nice job."

He handed the dice to the next player.Cas rolled the dice and went around past jail buying Tennessee, giving him a third monopoly. Dean looked and started laughing again. “

“If he can build the most expensive properties up this fast, won't take him long with those at all."

Bobby nearly choked on his coffee as he stared at the board. This was getting dangerous fast. He rolled and landed on a railroad. Shaking his head, he paid the $200. Dean rolled and landed on Tennessee. Shaking his head, he paid Cas twice the rent, grateful the monopoly wasn't built up at this moment. Sam rolled and sighed, landing on a property that wasn't owned yet.

"I'd have stayed in jail, bro,” Dean said as Cas put hotels on the three properties Dean was sitting on.

"I should have," he squeaked.

Bobby rolled and landed on the new monopoly.

"Well, hell," he commented, handing Castiel the money.

Dean snorted and rolled the dice. He landed on another railroad. Handing Cas the $200. "I got about 350 left and then I think I’m finished. Not gonna be able to pay." Dean laughed. This was turning into a very crazy game.

Castiel looked at his money. "Do you need a loan?"

"In this game, with no property? Hell, no. Thanks though, Cas."

The angel nodded. "You are welcome."

Cas moved and landed on a card. He won $100.

Sam closed his eyes and laughed. "This is the best case of beginner's luck I've ever seen."

"I shoulda known when he got that royal flush," Dean said as Bobby rolled.


"Come on, Sammy, you got to build into a royal flush. That meant he had nothing the same, just two numbers in the same suit. What are the odds of a new player taking that risk?"

"Not too high, honestly."

"That's right.”

Bobby moved and landed on go to jail. Dean started laughing harder.

"Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll hit that." Dean rolled and landed on one of the free properties in the green ones. Somebody owned one. He looked at the price and started laughing. "Well, you guys get to bid on the auction. I don't have enough money."

Sam laid a sum out, which Cas countered. Bobby snorted and said “hell no.” The two continued to bicker over the price, obviously getting into the fun. Dean smirked, went and made a new pot of coffee and some tea. The bickering continued until finally Sam backed away and Castiel bought the property.

"That's a chunk of money, Cas," Dean said. "It's your roll, Sammy."

Sam rolled, still eyeing the pile of money Castiel had left. Dean watched Sammy land on Bobby's utility. He paid him, shaking his head and handing the dice over. Cas put a hotel on Park Place.. A hiss came from lighter haired brother...mainly air exhaled between clenched teeth. He was looking over the board.

"Well, Bobby, it's your turn."

The older male rolled the dice, shaking his head. Bobby rolled a double and landed on free parking. Dean rolled, tossed his hands up in the air. He landed on Park Place.

"Well, I’m out." He hand his $350 to Cas and pulled his piece off the board. "You want delivery or should I go get something?"

Sam tilted his head. "We could call in, keep you from going out. Pull the phone book and see who delivers."

Dean went to the phone and grabbed the phone book from below it. "Well, we got Chinese, pizza, and there's a bbq place."

Bobby leaned back. "I'm thinking Chinese or bbq. Pizza gets old fast."

"Yeah, I've eaten a lot of pizza. Don't mind the Chinese. What do you guys think?"

"My vote is Chinese. I don't think Cas would care as long as his stuff isn't spicy."

Castiel nodded his agreement with Sam's comment."Okay. You guys want separate meals or a big family thing?"

"Family thing, it gives a variety of things for people to try."

"Okay, we get three main course choices, a platter with all the appetizers for four and soup."

"Sounds good," Bobby commented, then cursed when he'd landed on Boardwalk.

"I’d like General Tso's. Cas won't want it, but there are three choices. Do you guys like the General Tso's or do we go all mild? You out too, Bobby?"

"Yup, I can't pay even with this mortgaged. One spicy, one medium, and one mild. Chinese spices are different from Mexican so Cas might find them more to his tastes."

"Okay, one Szechuan, one General Tso's and a what mild?"

"What Szechuan?"

"Broccoli beef for the mild, and the spicy will have like a symbol by it."

Bobby thought on it for a moment, trying to figure out a way to accommodate for everyone’s tastes.

"Well, there's a pork and mushroom that is real hot. Maybe we ought to do two mild in case Cas doesn't like it."

"General Tso's isn't that spicy, honestly." Sam sighed, landing on Boardwalk as well. "That's it. Cas is the winner. Great job!"

"Yeah, it's not. I would like the Szechuan Chicken with all the veggies. Forget the General Tso's and get that steak and mushroom that has the mild peppers"

Castiel helped Sam put the game away as the taller one answered his brother. "Sounds good. Fried rice for sure."

"Okay. Egg rolls are on the appetizer plate. I will order it for 4. It has dumplings, dimsun and if it's cooked, sushi."

"Yum," was Sam's answer.

"Well, if it's raw, I'll give you mine. They got a crab one. I thought about maybe ordering a plate of it for all of us. I like cooked sushi."

"Whatever sounds good to you, Dean."

Dean placed the order and gave the card number. "It will be here in about 35 minutes. You want to watch a movie or whatever? We can talk or Bobby could give some more legends. I meant it when I said I wanted to know about them."

"We can talk legends before the food gets here," he answered with a smile, rolling towards the couches.

Dean commandeered his chair, boots kicked off and feet curled up in the chair again, his head leaning back. Bobby thought it was an unusual position for Dean to take. He'd never seen the boy do so until last night.

The older brother was comfortable, which made Sam happy, as he took a seat on the couch.

"What are we are gonna learn about, Bobby?"

"Christmas trees," he answered, picking up the book.

"Always thought they had something to do with Luthor? Is there more to it?”

Bobby opened the book and began reading about the legends behind the Christmas tree.

Dean sat up one point when something caught his attention. "Druids?"

He nodded, continuing reading. Dean leaned back but was more alert. The reading went on with the group learning more about how the Christmas tree was brought into tradition. The smaller hunter kept looking at their tree and then back at Bobby.

"Pretty incredible, isn't it?" Sam was looking back at the tree too.

Dean nodded. He looked at Bobby. "Bobby, is the tree safe? I mean that 's pretty strong whodo magic."

He chuckled. "It's safe."

The younger man nodded, relieved. The tree was beautiful. Dean leaned his head back, listening to the music and the soft voices of his family. Everything sounded muted. Eventually, he dozed off.

Sam was the one who got the food when it came, not wanting to wake his drowsing brother.

Dean slept through the knock at the door, dreaming, for a change, of trees and flutes.

He heard the muffled voices and the sound of glasses and silverware. Slowly, he woke up. Blinking, he sat up and noted that he was alone in the room. Getting off the chair, Dean scratched his head as he walked, barefooted into the dining area. He saw the guys setting the table. He blinked sleep from his eyes, yawned, and asked, "Was I asleep very long? I'm sorry."

"Not long,” Sam smiled at his brother.

“Can't imagine why I did that. I'm not used to sleeping this much. I really am sorry."

"We're always on the go, sleep broken up. Enjoy it, Dean."

"That may be, Sammy, but no one else is doing it. Me sleeping lets the rest of you down. I've gone days on a few hours. Shouldn't need it now."

Castiel smacked the back of Dean's head. "You are doing it again."

"Ouch! Doing what, Cas?"

"You are not willing to accept your own needs over your desire to please others. This is a bad habit that will stop now."

"What the hell? Sammy, Bobby? Would you guys have a talk with him?"

The older man locked the brakes as he settled at the table. "Like hell. He has a point, Dean. You've considered your needs as a burden to everyone, and I'll be damned if it continues."

The older hunter tried to stare the older man down. "This ain't the same thing. This is about being polite, Bobby. About having manners when you are visiting with people you care about. Sammy, it's the same thing we talked about last night. Tell them."

"You're also exhausted, Dean. No one is going to be upset because you dozed off. We were trying to be considerate of you to let you get the rest you need. We've been running hard for too long. I'm worried about you."

"The word there, Sammy, is we. I'm not any more exhausted then you are. You stayed awake just fine. I should've too. I appreciate the consideration but I should have had some too. Okay?"

"All right but expect Cas to whup you good to keep you in line. Now, I'm hungry!"

Dean helped set the food on the table, determined to stay as far away as he could from Cas' hands. Then he realized that Cas could move anywhere just by thought. Damn!

Sam snickered at the look on his brother's face, pouring soda for the group.

Dean was having a hard time trying to figure out what was now okay to do or say and what wasn't.

After a few moments of this, Castiel pulled the hunter aside. "I do not mean to cause you discomfort. I just wish to help you."

The young man looked into the angel's eyes. "Cas, I do understand. I just don't know how to do that. You got to understand. I told Sam it wasn't healthy and it's not, but I've had to do this since I was four years old. That's 26 years, Cas. How do I quit putting everyone before me after this long a time? Other then wanting pie and girls, I never think about me. It's Sammy, was my dad, and it's you and Bobby. It was Jo and Ellen. Cas, every time, I am not watching out for them, they either get hurt or die. You tell me how."

The angel had an answer ready for him, eager to help his friend.

"You trust them. You trust the people around them. Sam has been trained well, Dean. You've done a good job. Now work as a partner and not the full leader. The group holds responsibility for each are not the one to carry the full burden alone. It's time to let go and share the burden."

Dean’s answer was a little bitter.

"Yeah, well that cost Ellen and Jo, Cas. Damn. I want to do that. I just feel like it's all on me. Bobby gets hurt. You're grounded, and you told me it was my fault. Sammy has Lucifer after him. I want to let go. I want to be able to just trust and know you got my back. I'm not sure I know how any more. I'm trying, Cas."

"I made the decision to help you, Dean. I disobeyed my superiors when I realized what they were doing. Ellen made the decision to sacrifice herself when Jo was injured. The hellhounds and Lucifer did that, not you. Azazel is responsible for your brother's suitability as Lucifer's host...again, not your fault. It's a conscious decision you have to make and carry through, Dean." He was quiet for a second. "John Winchester was a good hunter but not as good as you. He did wrong with you two; I acknowledge that. He put too much on you and allowed you to carry the weight for mistakes you should never have had to acknowledge. It's time to bury that side of Dean."

"Cas, I buried my mama last night. I buried Jo and Ellen a couple of weeks ago. I have buried the fact that Sammy is the one like dad, not me. I keep having to tell people that I got too much of my mama in me. In the past few months, everything that I understood and accepted in my world crumbled. I'm trying to learn to trust Sammy. Since yesterday, he's been like home again. I'm better on that. I've had it drilled into me by Zachariah, the demons, and you that it's my job to stop this. Now, I don't want to do it the way everyone wants it done. I've got to find the way without Michael. I need all of you. But I still feel, that because I won't let myself be a meatsuit for Michael, that the burden is mine to find another way. It's why you hauled me out of hell and told me you could put me back. I'm gonna need help to let go of that, Cas.”

Castiel took one of Dean's hands. "And I should never have put that burden on your shoulders. Forgive me for that. As it is, Zachariah and the others - they are wrong. They want the world to end simply because it means less competition. Humans are less than desirable. It would not surprise me that they are aiming for the Throne itself. Right now, you have a team...a good one. The burden to find another way is OURS, not your’s, Dean Winchester."

Dean looked at Cas. He looked at the others who were eating. "How do they feel about that, Cas? They willing to work together? Cause I'm tired. I really am."

"They're here aren't they? Talk to them. That's what they want, Dean."

"You sure?"

Castiel gave him that famous blank stare. Staring back at the angel, the young man nodded. He went back into the dining room and sat down beside his brother. He helped himself to the some of the food but wasn't eating. He drank some of the coke and stared at Booby and than Sam.

Sam paused before forking some food into his mouth, watching Castiel take a seat before looking back at his brother. "Spill."

Dean looked at both Sam and Bobby. "Um, I've had this feeling since Cas pulled me out of hell and I was told that I was supposed to kill Lucifer, that it's been my burden. I think since yesterday, you and I are good. But I blame myself, guys, for everything that has happened lately. It's been my job to lead. I get this feeling that everyone looks to me. I've had things that have been said by different people that puts it all on me. Everyone always looks at me and says what do we do? Damn it, I'm scared. I don't know if I know what to do. I'm flying by the seat of my pants and I keep losing people. I need you guys, and not as followers."

Bobby set his fork down, eyes staring into Dean's. "I ain't a follower, Dean. I've been trying to walk this path with you side by side. They do look to you but not as you think. You shoulder burdens you should be sharing. You've got able people here to bail your ass out of the fire."

Dean returned the older man's look. "How do they look to me then? Who will shoulder burdens? Honestly, Bobby. I want that, but no one tells me that. The last time Sammy said that, he left. Okay? I need all of you. Mostly Sammy."

Sam poked him. "I'm not going anywhere, Dean. I told you, we're stronger together than apart. They look to you because you are an inspiration. You fight when most of us are so damned tired. There's a fire in you that draws everyone in. The burdens you see that need to be shouldered....well, you've got three other shoulders here to dump 'em on."

"You guys mean that? No matter how stupid they may seem? A burden is a burden, man."

Bobby looked at him. "Don't make me go over there and smack you, boy."

His son's eyes glistened. "No, sir. Cas has been enough."

"Good. This is a family, Dean, which means no one person takes all the burdens. You got problems, you lay them out and let us help you sort it."

"Yes, sir."

"All right, that's settled, let's eat before this gets cold."

Dean picked up his fork and took a bite of the Szechuan, and realized he was hungry. The lunch was a nice companionable meal, and he enjoyed it.

Castiel surprised Sam by eating the spicier dish. Bobby had been right in the fact that the spices were different.

Dean grinned at Cas. “Szechuan is good stuff, huh, Cas?"

"Indeed it is." Dean took some of the crab sushi. "It's cooked, and it's good."

Sam nodded around his mouthful.

Dean dipped an egg roll in sweet and sour sauce. "We going to the Dickens thing tonight or tomorrow night?"

"Tonight," Bobby answered, pouring soy sauce on his rice. "We'll want to bundle up though. Sea breeze can be mighty cold."

Dean smiled at Cas. "Yeah, I know."

Castiel gave him a small smile in return, pleased to see that Dean had taken him seriously.

The older brother remembered the walk he and Cas had taken the night before. After today, he was more grateful for the angel, more than he had thought would be possible. He was so thankful for all three members of his family that were sitting here.

Sam patted him on on the back, then stole an eggroll. Dean tried to grab it back but wasn't fast enough. He took Sam's last sushi instead. Bobby chuckled, watching their antics.

"Sam, after the thing tonight, would you like to go somewhere with me?"

Sam nodded. "Sure, Dean."

Dean winked at Cas. "Thought I'd show him what we found last night. I wish we could take you, Bobby, but it has stairs and no ramps. If I can find another spot this week, I'll take you."

"I'd like that, Dean."

"Well, it will be our duty this week to find a way to get you there."

He chuckled at that.

It's worth it, Bobby, and it's got to be at night.” Dean explained a little about where they had been."

He nodded. "It sounds exceptional. That's a view I wouldn't pass up if I could help it."

"Yeah, it was special. Not a word spoken, just a long walk."

Sam spoke up with an idea as to how to resolve the situation so Bobby could go with them.

"If there's no ramps, we could carry him if Bobby didn't mind."

"Would you have a problem with that, Bobby? It's a little slippery but we could do it.”

The older man shrugged as he responded.

"I trust you guys. Hate being carried but if the view is as you say it is, it's worth it."

"I thought it was, Bobby. I hated to leave last night."

He smiled at that, pushing his empty plate away.Dean got up and started to clear the food away. He put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Trash was tossed. He started washing up the dishes.

Cas and Sam rose to help him clean up.

After the boys finished cleaning, Dean took the firewood bin outside. "Someone want to get the doors for me? Thought I’d refill it and bring an ash bin in when I come back. I can clean out the fireplace and be ready for later this evening."

Sam went to tend to the fireplace while Castiel went to help Dean with the firewood. He started sweeping the fireplace, waiting for the bucket. Dean and Castiel went to the back of the garages and loaded the bin with logs, sticks and kindling. The smaller Winchester asked Cas to grab one of the buckets. They headed back to the B&B, and the angel got the doors for Dean. The hazel eyed man set the bin on the hearth and grabbed a shovel and started to shovel the ashes while Sam kept the remainder swept close to make it easier to shovel. When they were through, Dean grabbed the bucket and took the ashes to the dumpster and put the bucket back behind the garages. He said hello to their host as he was entering the building and asked if he was going to Dickens on the Strand.

Ben shook his head with a smile. "No, I've seen it a lot of times. Tonight, I'm planning on curling up with a good book and a glass of wine. I do hope you and your family enjoys it though."

"Thanks, Ben. We plan on it. This is the first Christmas we have had a chance to celebrate together in years. I'm looking forward to it. What book are you planning on reading?"

"I'm in a bit of a mood for Mary Shelley tonight, honestly. A bit macabre for the holiday but suits my mood." He laughed softly.

Dean thought a minute with a slight frown. "Frankenstein?"

Ben nodded. "That's her."

"Yeah, that's macabre. Not my first choice for Christmas, but then there's been others that have written stranger things."

The smile faded a bit. "Well, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas. I enjoy it, yes, but it's not my favorite holiday."

Dean thought a minute. "To be honest, this is the first Christmas I've ever had that really feels right. I've always hated it before this one."

"In some ways, I don't blame you. Christmas has a way of haunting you." He shook himself. "Anyway, if you or your family needs anything, don't hesitate to ask."

The hunter stood there a minute. Haunting? He shook his head, trying to clear away the hunter in him. "Thanks, Ben. I appreciate that. To be honest, I've had a few haunted Christmases." Dean laughed slightly and headed into the building behind his host.

The host didn't ask because he wasn't sure what the man meant by that. He went off on his own, allowing his guest to return to his family.

Dean entered their suite and put his leather jacket in the closet. "I just had a weird conversation with Ben."

Sam looked up from his straightening up. "How so?"

"Well, he's rather strange. He's reading Shelley tonight. Doesn't care much for Christmas. Finds it has a way of haunting you. Man, I got the feeling there was a hunt in the making. I just jokingly told him I'd had a few haunted Christmases. He didn't seem too happy about Christmas and it seemed eerie. Who reads Frankenstein at Christmas?"

Bobby and Sam stared at each other for a moment. "Someone who really doesn't seem to like Christmas, I guess."

"Look, Sammy, you and I never had good Christmases. I know you've hated them worse then me. We don't read Shelley at Christmas or any other time. Not much chance to read, except when you're injured, but we at least watch a ball game or get drunk, man. Shelley?"

He shook his head, frowning. "We may want to keep an eye on that one, you know?"

"Yeah, something's bothering that guy. Big time. I know the signs, Sammy. Not sure about this, but it's got the feeling."

Castiel spoke from behind the pages of the book he was examining. "Then we shall watch over him and ensure that there is no danger."

"Good idea. I was wondering. You guys think we need to salt the suite?"

"Let's wait and see. It could be a figure of speech and this guy is an emo type or something," Sammy said with a shrug.

"Okay. What do you guys want to do for a while. The Dickens thing doesn't start til dark. I'm played out."

"Why don't you take a nap? We've got time to kill and you look tired. I'll probably do the same honestly." The younger Winchester stretched.

Dean was going to say no, then thought why not. He yawned. "I think I will. Anything comes up, let me know." Dean headed to the room he shared with Bobby. He shut the door, took off his boots, and jeans. He removed his outer shirt, leaving on the t-shirt, Crawling under the heavy quilt, he turned off the lamp and was asleep in minutes. It didn't take long before Castiel was the only one awake; the angel entertained himself by reading from some of the holiday books that had been bought.

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