Warnings: Bad language and violence
Spoilers: 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 story is a time of healing.
Christmas in Texas
This story takes place after Changing Channels in season 5.
One thing none of the hunters would expect about being in Houston at this time of year was the temperature. It was a few days before Christmas and damned if it wasn’t in the 80s. It just didn’t make sense to them, considering this time of year was usually cold.
Sam leaned against the Impala, snickering as Bobby tried to explain something to the somewhat confused angel in regards to a certain Christmas song done by Weird Al. ‘Christmas at Ground Zero’ was definitely not a song most angels would understand, and comedy was something Dean had been attempting to teach him anyway. Not that the lessons were going too well as far as the younger Winchester brother could tell.
“Why would anyone come up with a song about a nuclear holocaust?”
Dean snickered, hearing the question from Castiel as he emerged from the hotel’s front doors. He called out his answer to the baffled angel, taking the responsibility of providing explanations from Bobby.
“It’s called having fun, Cas. Not everyone takes this holiday seriously and the spoof type Christmas carols make it a lot more fun to drive instead of listening to the same damned songs over and over and over again.”
Castiel stared at the older Winchester brother for a moment, obviously not in full agreement with him. He was more familiar with the older type songs, having been stationed on Earth over the millennia.
“But the carols are beautiful and quite pleasing to the ear.”
Sam grinned at him; this was a conversation he and Dean had every year in regards to Christmas music. The taller of the two brothers sat back to listen to the discussion, grateful that someone else had taken up the cause for older Christmas music.
“Let’s put it this way, Cas. It’s great the first few times you hear it but since a bunch of morons decide that decorating for Christmas should be done before Halloween, the music gets old really fast.”
Bobby snorted from his seat in the truck, agreeing with younger brother. He didn’t agree with the capitalism that came around this time of year, but he did enjoy the usual Christmas traditions. Which reminded him…the boys were not going to be too pleased with his next idea.
“Speaking of Christmas, I was thinking that we need to do something together this year. With all the crap going on with the damned apocalypse, I think all four of us could use some down time that doesn't involve Dean chasing women or Sam doing his research. You idjits haven’t been around as much, and I think some family time would be good for all of us. Christmas is the perfect time, and we’re in a great area to have some fun. And yes, Cas, I mean you too so don’t you even think of flapping away.”
Sam, who wasn’t very fond of Christmas, looked at Bobby with a mixed expression of fondness and exasperation.
“You know we don’t celebrate, Bobby.”
Dean leaned against the car and looked at the three men. Castiel was frowning and muttering something about a reindeer and his grandmother. The oldest brother smirked, obviously enjoying the confusion he‘d caused in regards to the spoof type Christmas carols. He’d have to find more songs later to tease the angel with.
Turning his gaze towards Sam and Bobby, Dean began to frown. He thought back to Christmases from their past and could appreciate Sam's feelings. This holiday had never been good to the brothers at all, which had left Sam very defensive in his desires to ignore it completely.
Dean smiled suddenly, remembering that he had a good way to distract his brother and Bobby from the quickly brewing argument. Straightening up, he walked towards the two men, waving a piece of paper.
Sam frowned, looking back at his brother when he heard his footsteps. There was something about that paper that was making the older Winchester practically beam with delight.
Dean's smile grew wider. Sam could see a twinkle in his brother's eyes and cringed, knowing that his brother was extraordinarily pleased with something and that something may or may not work in the younger brother‘s favor.
Dean put a hand on Bobby's shoulder and grabbed at Sam and drew him close.
The older man looked at the older boy he'd had a hand in raising and arched an eyebrow. Like Sam, this bright mood suddenly had him feeling wary.
"What could possibly have you so happy?"
Dean’s smile bordered on annoying with how bright it was, making Sam grumble internally about hitting the road again.
"A check, Bobby. An honest to god check. A big check. The hotel was very happy to see the ghost gone. We need to find their bank and cash this sucker. I had no idea anyone had this kind of money. $20,000. I think we can have our first real Christmas just about any where we want."
Sam looked stunned while Castiel and Bobby stared at him. The older man was completely taken aback by what the answer was and quickly questioned Dean on what he’d just heard.
"You're joking, right? I've never seen anyone pay that much!"
Dean's grin grew a lot brighter, nearly bouncing in joy.
"How many times you ever see anyone pay? Period. This is a lot of money, guys. You think maybe the bank has any of them cash cards? Be a lot safer to carry and a lot less bulky."
"I think I saw a bank a few blocks away, but we have to talk about this Christmas thing. I mean, what's the point?"
Castiel looked at Sam, eyes looking into the taller one‘s for several long moments before questioning him on something that was puzzling the angel.
"Why are you so adamant against celebrating such a joyous holiday?"
"Cas, Sammy and I have never had a joyous Christmas. Closest time was the one before the hellhounds got me. We fought demigods on that one. Dad was never around. I had to steal most of the time to just keep food on the table. I can see Sammy's point. Thing is. Time's are bad for us. They're gonna get worse. Hell, I want one real Christmas before we go any further. Come on, Sammy?"
"Not to mention it'll be the first holiday I've had with you idjits in a long time. Plus this is the first one that Mr. Fluffy wings over there is having with us too. It's an occasion, Sam."
Sam sighed when he heard Bobby‘s answer. If there was one thing he couldn't do, it was denying Dean anything. Especially when he was using the puppy dog eyes like he was right now.
"All right all right."
Dean gave a shout of joy, obviously trying to contain his excited energy.
"Who's riding with who? After we get the money, let's get something to eat. We can decide where we're going, and what we're going to do."
"I shall go with Bobby," Castiel responded while Sam headed to the Impala. The younger Winchester brother didn't look very happy but would adjust to the enthusiasm of the others around him.
Thirty minutes later, Sam and Dean were leaving the bank with four cards; each card was holding $5,000.
Bobby was in his truck with Castiel, explaining various traditions that were normally used during the Christmas season. The angel seemed fascinated with what he was being told and occasionally asked questions. He looked at Dean and Sam with a tilted head.
"Did you know that most of the decorations and traditions for this holiday stem from pagan roots? It seems rather ironic, does it not?"
Dean's gaze was blank. He looked at Sam, who smiled at Castiel.
"Yeah, they are pagan, Cas. The tree is from Germany. The pagans worshipped at trees. The day we hold Christmas was a pagan holiday the Christians used to hide their own celebrations. Santa Claus never existed. There are no flying reindeer. You could probably tell us more about Gabriel, the shepherds, wisemen, a star, and a manger."
"Ah yes, that one. I was in a different area at the time, but it wasn't too difficult to miss the goings on."
Bobby chuckled at the dry response.
"Given the rumbling I'm hearing from Dean, we need to find a place to eat and plan our celebration."
Dean grinned and looked at Bobby.
"What kind of food do they eat in Houston? I want something good since I quit the bad foods. Is steak allowed?"
Sam answered that with a laugh. He was extremely pleased with Dean’s efforts to eat better and had been trying to find places that would allow for tasty food to keep his brother interested in remaining healthy.
"Steak is allowed as long as it's not fried. Texas is well known for their beef. Also there's good Mexican places as well."
"I'd like a fat, juicy steak. Mexican? Real Mexican? Or, more like that crap we ate in Chicago?"
Bobby leaned against the door, arms braced in the window as he stared out at the two.
"Real Mexican, boy. Remember, this is Texas. They've got people who know how to get it right."
"You know any good places, Bobby?" Dean asked. Suddenly, the thought of authentic Mexican food was driving him crazy to have a taste of it. "If not, Sammy can get out the laptop and check."
A woman, who had emerged from the bank, overheard the question and gave them directions to a family run restaurant that was known for good food.
Dean thanked the lady, which shocked his younger brother, who usually had the better manners. Sam's eyebrow raised in surprise. Dean really was excited about everything, which was showing in his actions and mannerisms towards others.
Bobby jerked his head at the black car next to his truck.
"Get in and let's go."
Dean jumped behind the wheel of his baby and waited for Sam to take shotgun. They backed out of the parking space and followed Bobby out of the parking lot as he took a left on Main Street. The area around Rice University was a beautiful area in Houston. Dean and Sam were both surprised to find anything this nice near a major medical complex. The streets were shaded by huge trees. Sidewalks lined both sides of Main. The Rice campus was serene with its trees, plants, and benches everywhere. The university campus was surrounded by a large fence that blended well with the surrounding area.
"I'd forgotten how many schools were in this city," Sam said softly. "Most people get so caught up in the glamour of the bigger ones and overlook what's here in this state."
Dean turned and looked at his brother, asking a question that had been bugging at him for a while.
Sam laughed, shaking his head as he replied to a question they‘d bantered over for some time now.
"You honestly think we're going to settle down after we kick Lucifer's ass? Nah, don't think so, Dean. There's always going to be monsters out there."
Dean sighed. "Hell, Sammy. There'll be plenty of hunters who can do that. We kick Lucifer's ass, we've earned it. Damn it, I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing this. Lucifer is enough."
True. They'd been on the road since Sam was an infant and after a while, it would get tiring. Especially for his brother. So the youngest of the pair opened a topic he’d been thinking of for a bit, wondering what his big brother would think about it.
"You know, I had thought of going into business for ourselves somewhere. Maybe near Bobby so our family won't split apart."
Dean looked at Sam as he drove.
"You serious? What kind of business? I need to have something to do with my hands, Sammy. I'm not a genius, you know?"
"We could probably make something out of Bobby's junkyard. Mechanic shop or something. I could do the bookwork and learn from you." Granted, he wasn't the most mechanically inclined but he enjoyed spending time with Dean.
Dean grinned. "I bet Bobby would go along with that. You are good at that kind of stuff. I'm a damned good mechanic. That's one thing I did get from Dad. We can talk to Bobby about it this holiday if you want."
Sam gave Dean an answering grin. "Let's do that. I think he'd be happy to have us close at hand, you know?"
Dean felt a joy in his heart. He couldn't remember ever feeling it before. He looked ahead at the truck in front of him and sighed.
"Ummmm...what do we do with Cas? I mean, once this is over. If God don't take him back, we're stuck with him, you know. I owe him too much to just leave him without our help."
"Sounds like you're going to be teaching our favorite angel how to get his hands dirty," he joked.
"Seriously though, Bobby said it. Cas, as much as he can have a stick up his ass at times, is part of the family. I think we need to give him the option of becoming an honorary Winchester and working with us."
"Cas Winchester?" Dean started laughing. It was a happy laugh. Sam heard nothing derisive in the sound.
Dean saw Bobby's left blinker turn on and did the same to the Impala's. They turned into a parking lot filled with vehicles. The adobe looking building was ablaze with lights. Both brothers could hear music from inside. Dean turned to Sam and smiled again. "Hell, yeah! Cas Winchester!" He laughed again as he opened the car door.
Sam was laughing as well, watching as the aforementioned angel retrieved the wheelchair from the back of the vehicle for Bobby.
As they entered the building, the smell of the food made Dean's mouth water. He'd never smelled anything quite like the aromas coming from all around him. The restaurant was a blaze of light and color. A small group of men were walking around the restaurant with guitars and were singing in Spanish. Another smile crossed Dean's face. He felt like a kid in a candy store. They followed Cas and Bobby up to the maitre 'd.
"Bienvenidos," the host greeted them. "Welcome. Smoking or non?"
Bobby looked at the boys. "Non and we need a table, please."
"Of course, please follow me." The host led them to a table near a window. "Your waitress will be by to take your drink order soon. Enjoy your meal."
Dean opened the menu, and his eyes grew wide. He leaned over to Sam.
"It's all in Spanish. How the hell am I supposed to know what's what?"
Sam laughed, pointing to the descriptions. "They tell you what each one is. The small print sort of hides it."
Dean flushed red and shook his head.
"Hell, Sammy. All I've ever eaten in are diners and fast food places. This is the fanciest place I've been in."
Bobby snickered then placed his order for a drink as the waitress came by, placing a bowl of chips as well as dip down for them. A glass of water was placed in front of each of them.
"Welcome, my name is Tiffany. What can I get you to drink?"
Dean looked up from the menu. "What kind of beer you got?"
Cas looked at the drink menu. "They have root beer, Dean."
Sam hid his head behind the menu, shoulders shaking as Dean stared at the angel. "Thank you for pointing that out, Cas, but that isn't quite what I was asking."
Tiffany listed several Mexican brands. When she got to Coors, Dean smiled. "I know that one. I'll have a Coors. Give Cas a root beer."
Bobby and Sam both placed their drink orders and the waitress took off, promising to take their food orders when she came back with their drinks.
Dean was trying hard to figure out how to pronounce the words on the menu. He did not want to look like a fool in front of Tiffany, who was quite a fox. He liked the idea of a stuffed pepper. Plenty of spice with meat and cheese in it. The sauce sounded good on it.
Leaning over to Sam, Dean asked softly, "Do you say this like chile rel -len-o?" he asked. "Chile" was pronounced like child without the D.
Bobby was the one who answered that. As much traveling as the man had done, he'd picked up on the Spanish language. He gave Dean the proper pronunciation, then turned back to Castiel. The angel didn't need to eat, but the older hunter wanted him to experience this.
The older hunter convinced Castiel to try some of the food. The angel was curious about the different foods on the menu. Bobby advised him to try the large meal.
"You get enchiladas, tamales, rice, beans, queso, quacamole, a taco, and a chalupa. That will give you a little of all the basics. Ask for one beef and one sour cream enchilada. I think you will like it, Cas." The angel looked at Bobby for a moment, then he nodded in agreement.
"Think I'm going to get the same," Sam commented, nibbling on a salsa laden chip. "Everything really sounds fantastic."
The small band arrived at their table. They were singing Christmas carols in Spanish. One of them asked the men if they had a request. Before Sam could stop him, Dean was asking for the Al Yankovic song. Water spewed out of Bobby's mouth. Castiel handed the man his napkin. The singer who had asked for a request gave Dean the same blank stare that Dean had on earlier when Cas mentioned the pagan influences of Christmas.
Sam facepalmed. This was why he couldn't take Dean anywhere. It was inevitable that his brother would do something to embarrass the hell out of the people he was with. Quietly, he requested Silent Night.
Before the men, could start singing, Castiel spoke up.
"Dean, if they do not know the nuclear song, perhaps they know the reindeer who killed grandma."
The youngest brother couldn't stop the laughter that tore from him in deep guffaws. It never failed that Cas would come up with something that was hilarious and deliver it in that deadpan voice.
Dean's mouth dropped open as he stared at the angel. He could hear Sammy laughing in hysterics. He turned at an odd noise and saw that Bobby was red in the face and choking. Dean got up quickly to make sure his father figure wasn’t going to chock to death and saw a tortilla chip with a bite taken out of it on the table. Bobby must've been eating it when Cas spoke. Dean hit him a few times on the back and sat back down as the men started singing Silent Night. Dean actually enjoyed the song. When the men left their table, Tiffany came to take their order.
It didn't take long before the girl was on her way to deliver the order to the kitchen. Sam had managed to calm down by then, and Dean stared at his companions for a long moment. If he didn't know better, he would have sworn that the angel delivered these statements on purpose.
Dean was trying to figure out a way to corner Cas, but for the life of him, he could not imagine Cas with a sense of humor. The angel had told him once that Uriel was the funniest angel in the garrison. Uriel? Dean was now beginning to wonder if Cas had been pulling his leg then. The problem with Cas was he always spoke in such a deadpan voice unless he was righteously angry or sad about something Dean had done. How the hell do you know if an angel is joking? He thought about asking Sam, but wasn't sure if Sam, who had spent so much time with demons, would know what an angel was capable of.
Bobby chuckled to himself softly, sipping his tea. He'd caught the mischievous gleam in Castiel's eyes when he'd dropped that unexpected comment. He thought the only reason Sam and Dean hadn't noticed it was their youth. They still were learning body language.
"So, time to plan."
The three men sitting with Bobby looked at him.
"I guess this is my cue to bring out the computer," Sam muttered.
Dean sighed as a thought crossed his mind, making him fight back a wince.
"Just promise me we ain't going to watch a bunch of men in tights throwing women across a stage while a bunch mice and a guy with a huge head are fighting each other. I draw the line at that."
Castiel gave Dean an odd look. "I am not sure I understand that reference, Dean."
"Look, Cas. After dealing with Gabriel, ask Sam about cracking nuts. You were in there somewhere."
A punch to the older brother's shoulder was Sam's answer. He still had phantom pains whenever that horrible TV show popped into his mind.
Dean rubbed his shoulder and glared at his brother. "Hell, Sam, they call it the nutcracker. I ain't that stupid."
"First off, idjit, it's a ballet based on an old fairy tale and it ain't that bad. Second, can you please take this seriously?"
Dean looked at Bobby. "I was taking it seriously, Bobby. I don't want to watch a ballet where they are cracking nuts. Anyway, you got something in mind? You do, don't you?"
"I heard something on the radio while you two were in the bank, and it's something I think would be a unique experience." Bobby told him what he'd heard on the radio about an event called Dickens on the Strand.
Sam looked surprised. "That sounds great, Bobby! They dress in costumes and everything? Wow, Dickens!"
Castiel thought for a moment. "Charles Dickens wrote some interesting stories. Which one are they celebrating?"
Dean looked at the three men in front of him. Sighing, he carefully worded his response to Castiel, "The only Christmas story I know of that Dickens wrote was a 'Christmas Carol.' The place gonna be full of fake ghosts, Bobby?"
"I'm not sure," he answered. "It may be a representation of the time when Dickens lived and a bit from his book. But it sounded interesting and none of us have been to Galveston before."
Dean saw Sam looking at him strangely.
Sam stared and asked, "When did you read Dickens, and how would you know how many stories he wrote were Christmas stories?"
Dean saw three pairs of eyes on him. "When you were at Stanford, I got a copy of the reading lists for your English and literature classes. Whenever I got injured and Dad had to leave, I'd call the local library and have books sent over. I may not have the brains you have, Sammy, but I do read once in a while."
He poked his brother, wishing Dean had said something about this back then.
"Why didn't you call me? I could've sent you books to read too. I never thought you were stupid, Dean. It's just you hated school and tried not to read outside of stuff for research."
"You weren't taking calls, Sammy. I promised myself, I'd let you be. Libraries were fine. Besides, it was a private thing. I hated school, Sammy, because it was hard to keep up when I was always hunting, or taking care of you. You and the hunt came first, Sammy. Anyway, where do we stay down there? I would like something peaceful and quiet, but not cheap motels. Okay?"
"They have a lot of bed and breakfast type hotels," Tiffany chimed at him, bearing a laden tray and began distributing the food.
Bobby could see the disturbed look on Sam's face and knew the two brothers needed to discuss some things in their past to get healing done. From the look on Castiel's face, it seemed the other was thinking the same thing.
Dean put on the smile that attracted so many women and asked Tiffany, "You know of any good ones on the island that might still have rooms?" He winked at the waitress as he questioned her, and the woman blushed.
Bobby shook his head, watching the Dean Winchester charm work on the waitress.
Sam just ignored it. He was so used to Dean and the women who happened across his path that it seldom phased him.
Castiel looked at the waitresss, noticing her skin turning red. He stared at Dean and then back at Tiffany. "Are you overheated?" the angel asked.
"More like in heat,” Sam muttered. Bobby burst out laughing as Dean glared at his brother. Tiffany's mouth dropped open, and she set the check down on the table and walked off.
"I can't take you anywhere, can I?" Was the question from Sam to Dean.
"Hey! You're the one who said in heat under your breath loud enough to be heard by all of us. I might have had a date there. It's been a while, Sammy."
"We'll be leaving for Galveston soon, dummy."
"Is Galveston so far away, she can't come to this thing and spend some time with me?"
"I may be wrong, but did Bobby not say this was to be a family event?" Castiel looked at the trio. He was a bit surprised still at his own inclusion by Bobby as 'family.
Dean stared at the angel for a moment, and he lowered his head.
"You're right, Cas. I'm sorry. Bobby. Cas, Sam, it's hard to think of doing something that's family. I know I want it bad, but it's hard."
Surprisingly, it was the angel who answered the uncomfortable Dean. "It is because you are unused to it given the situation you both were raised in. However, with the events that are coming, taking advantage of moments like this are important. To gain strength and rest."
"Yeah, you're right, Cas. Well, now that our waitress has deserted us, Sammy, you will need to use the computer after all," Dean grinned as his brother groaned.
"Let me eat first. This smells too damned good to let it go cold," he answered him.
Dean cut into his chile relleno and took a large bite. His eyes widened as he chewed the food slowly. Sam watched his brother in surprise, wondering where the manners had come from. Dean was no longer inhaling his food. Castiel was poking around the food on his plate, trying to figure out what was what. Dean looked up and saw the angel put a forkful of pico de gallo into his mouth and chew. Hazel eyes widened, and then he sat there in silence and watched the angel's reaction.
Castiel took a few gulps of his drink, soothing the burning sensation the food had caused. "I do not think it is a wise thing to have one's food try to burn you."
Dean snickered and reached over, took Cas' fork and scraped the pico de gallo off the plate into an empty queso bowl.
"The rest of your meal won't burn you, Cas." Dean explained what each item on the two plates was and what was in them. He sat back to watch the angel eat. He was enjoying the show while he had the best food he'd eaten in years.
It was good to see Castiel enjoying the simple pleasures in life, Sam mused to himself while he enjoyed his own meal. He looked around the restaurant at the adobe walls, soothing Christmas lights that lined the ceilings, and the tables set in alcoves for privacy. The waiters and waitresses were dressed in Mexican-style dress. The room was slightly dark, with candles on the tables. It was soothing.
Dean looked across at Bobby and saw a smile on the older man's face. Realizing how much Bobby meant to them...to him...brought a lump to Dean's throat. He was grateful for Bobby. Dean had come to the realization that he had wasted so many years trying to live up to his Dad's vision of what he should be. He had had too much of his mother in him. Sam was the brother who was most like John Winchester. Dean realized that Bobby had been more of a Dad to him then his own father had ever been. He loved the man. He'd never told him. This Christmas he probably would.
Castiel watched the three of them silently, acknowledging the deep love they held for each other. While it was never spoken, he mused to himself that it really didn't need to be. It showed in every action the three made. This was something his fellow angels could learn from honestly. Seeing this made Castiel realize that there had not been any type of brotherly fellowship amongst the angels for a long time.
Dean looked over at Cas and saw the look in his eyes. Reading a lot in them, Dean sensed a loneliness in the angel.
"Hey, Cas!" The angel looked at him. In seconds, all three men were staring at Dean.
"We're adopting you. Cas Winchester. Welcome to three stooges."
Sam choked on his food and stared at Dean. Castiel understood adoption as it was a very ancient concept. Being a Winchester was not something he'd considered before. He noticed Sam choking on his food and was quick to thump his back to help alleviate the coughing.
Staring at Dean, Castiel spoke to Sam once he‘d stopped the strangled coughing sounds.
"What are stooges and which one of them am I?"
Sam frowned in consternation as Dean broke out in laughter.
Bobby wasn't even trying to hide his laughter. Three Winchester boys- the sons of his heart. He was proud of Dean for his insight into Castiel and bringing him out of the cold and into the family, as weird as this family was. "I'd say Moe since you're the more level headed."
Before Dean could speak, Sam said, "Dean's Curly."
Dean glared at his brother for that one before thinking for a moment. "Well, since I've seen your hair in the morning, Larry suits you
"Gee, Dean, thanks a lot. Jerk."