“N-no! Sam, don’t!”
“Relax. It’ll be fine.”
Dean paused as he was rolling up the hose in the backyard. Why the flowers needed to be watered when it was supposed to rain on Wednesday was a mystery, but if he disobeyed a direct order from his father he’d be watering the flowers with his tears. Plus, if the flowers did die his mother would be sad.
The flowers were now thoroughly soaked, which was why Dean was standing on the flagstones by the spigot, rolling up the hose, and could only hear his little brother and his best friend, Cas, talking on the other side of the tall privacy fence.
“But, we’re not supposed to. We’ll get in trouble.”
“We won’t. I just wanna watch it move.”
“But…it feels weird,” Cas said, sounding like he was near tears.
Dean creased his brow. What were the two of them doing? He finished winding the hose and walked over to the fence to listen in.
“It’s bigger than it was,” Sam said. “And it’s wiggling more.”
“Because you keep touching it!”
Dean pulled back and raised an eyebrow. What the—? Sam was only ten years old, and Cas was nine. There was no way they were talking about what it sounded like they were talking about…was there? But at that age kids were curious, and they hadn’t been taught that more than just strangers and adults weren’t allowed to touch them there.
“Ew,” Sam giggled. “It’s all slippery. Come on, feel it.”
“I-I…I don’t know, Sam.”
“Come on, don’t be a baby. Just touch it.”
“Hey!” Dean swung open the fence door, half-expecting to find one or the other with their shorts around their knees staring at…their neighbor’s koi pond?
“Dean!” Sam hissed in exasperation, still very much clothed where he squatted next to Cas by the pond. “You scared it away!”
“Scared what away?”
“We’ve been watching them since they were eggs!” Cas chimed in.
“Ohhhh. Is that what you guys were talking about?”
“Yes,” Sam replied. “What did you think we were talking about?”
“Uh…nothing,” Dean replied feeling sheepish and a little bit like maybe there was something to the stereotype that fourteen year old boys could only think about one thing. “Anyway, you guys need to stop torturing that thing and come inside.”
“We’re tor-tur-ing it?” Cas asked, his voice wavering with tears again.
“Wha—? No, no. You’re fine, Cas.” He pulled the boy in close to his side for a hug. “It’s Sam, the boy with the demon blood over there.”
“Come on, devil child, Mom was making cookies for her bunko group. Maybe we can wrangle some out of her.”
Sam jumped up and ran for the house. Rather than scamper after his best friend, Castiel was content to walk into the house—holding Dean’s hand. Dean was always amused by the little boy’s attachment to him. He was much cuter than his totally uncute, annoying little brother.
Inside the house smelled like chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies. Peanut butter was Sam’s favorite, so Dean was pretty certain they’d be able to finagle a couple since his mother had probably made them for him. Sometimes he wished his favorite were cookies instead of pie. It was almost impossible to get a free slice of pie that had been baked to be given to someone else.
“Oh, Castiel,” his mother said with a bright, fond smile. “I didn’t know you had come over.”
“We were looking at the tadpoles!” Sam said helpfully as he eyed the trays of cookies.
“Hello, Mrs. Winchesser.”
Dean repressed a smile. Cas still hadn’t mastered their last name even though his mother had been his kindergarten teacher for a whole year. Plus he was in fourth grade. It seemed like it was time for that particular speech impediment to have corrected itself. But Dean still thought it was cute.
“I promised him cookies, Mom,” Dean said. “Don’t make me a liar.”
His mother gave him a look. “You are impossible and I don’t know why I put up with you,” she said—as she served up two warm cookies for each boy.
Dean helped Castiel onto one of the stools at the kitchen counter and sat beside him as Sam clambered onto the stool on his other side.
“Both of you boys are terrible. I wish you could be more like Castiel,” she said with faux-wistfulness. Or perhaps it was real.
“Nah,” Dean said. “You wouldn’t want an angel and you know it.”
Mary gave him a smile and then looked at Castiel, who had chocolate smeared around the corners of his mouth.
“Do you see how bad he is? I bet you don’t want to marry him anymore, do you?”
Dean rolled his eyes and ignored the vague warmth blooming just under his skin. His mother had told them the story of Castiel asking for his hand in marriage a few years ago when he’d still been in her class. She liked to tease him about it on occasion, but he was certain Cas wouldn’t remember what she was talking about.
“Oh, I do,” Castiel said. “But my mom said I have to wait until I’m older.”
That vague warmth turned into a full on sensation of his face going up in flames. He stared at the little boy and Sam groaned.
“Gross! Why would you want to marry Dean? He’s so annoying!”
“You’re annoying,” Dean shot back, pathetically, unable to think of anything else to say.
“Hmm,” his mother mused, “your mom’s right. You are a little young right now.”
Castiel nodded sagely. His mom repressed a laugh and wiped Cas’ face clean with a napkin. “Sam, why don’t you and Cas go play in your room?”
“Okay. Come on, Cas,” Sam said. “I wanna show you my new Iron Man—”
“Doll,” Dean said smarmily.
Cas and Sam left the kitchen and Dean turned to his mother.
“Mom, you shouldn’t—” He cut off as she handed him a spatula. He obediently began to help her move the warm cookies from the baking sheets to a cooling rack. “You shouldn’t encourage Cas like that.”
“Why not? You might marry him one day. You don’t know.”
“Mo~om…” Dean groaned weakly and leaned his arms on the counter.
“He is a very determined little boy and he knows what he wants. I wouldn’t underestimate him.”
“Yeah, but, Mom. You just said it. He’s a little boy.”
Mary hummed. “He won’t be forever.” She gave him a wink.
Dean let his head fall onto his arms with a thud.