CLAIRE--

Donna was definitely like the Italian mother of the bunch, with Jody taking over the interrogation while Claire sat at the dining room table. Donna wouldn’t let Claire leave until she was satisified with how much food had been eaten. “Skin and bones!” Donna would always crow when seeing Claire; always bustling into the kitchen to make something filling for her – even though she was working on losing weight herself.

“I’m stuffed,” Claire finally announced, pushing away the plate, “can I stop eating now?” She looked up at Donna then at Jody, lifting her eyebrows with a slight tweak of her lips.

Donna eyed the plate critically, about to say something when Jody waved Claire away from the table, promising to follow up with her later. Claire exhaled loudly in relief, getting up from the table, throwing a peck on both of the ladies’ cheeks before hurrying out of the dining room. Instead of retiring to her room, she headed to the door, grabbing her coat on the way out. She needed some quiet time on the grounds, she loved being at the Academy, but sometimes it was too much –e specially after being on the road for some time.


CASTIEL--

Castiel was perched on the top railing of a broken and leftover bit of wooden fencing just on the other side of the muddied and partially snow-covered area that passed for a driveway from the cabin. His lips quirked just the tiniest bit at the snarky comment Dean would likely make if he saw the angel just now. An angel perching. But, he didn't make any effort to move. Not even to stretch his still healing wings.


He liked it here. There was a time, once, when he would never have admitted to anything so human as liking something. He felt a brief flash of gratitude that those days were long gone. Now, he was content with his life, and relatively at peace with his choices, the bad as well as the good. And he definitely felt that throwing his lot in with the group of the humans here was one of the good choices.


He raised his head, looking toward the cabin when the sound of the door opening and then shutting came to him. From where he was, he couldn't yet see who had emerged, but he could hear her well enough to know without having to see her. And, really, even if he couldn't have heard her, he'd have known just the sense of her. Cas slid down from the fence railing gracefully and strode toward the front porch of the cabin, unmindful of the muddy mess his shoes were becoming.


As he came within view of the familiar young woman, a slight, fond smile touched his lips. “Hello, Claire,” he said, his gravelly voice still holding a bit of the hesitance he always felt when around her, never quite sure if she had ever really been able to forgive him for everything he'd been responsible for.


CLAIRE--

She burrowed down a bit into her coat, it had been a gift from Donna – lined with flannel for when it got cold. A little murmur about nothing in particular came from her as she closed the door, she was still adjusting to the wild weather around here – but no demon signs so far. She pulled her hair out from the collar of her coat, shifting away from the door, trying to decide where she would go. No idea, it was weird to have no idea where to go – she was the type that always had some sort of destination in mind.

A slight squint as she saw something from the corner of her eye, the person was quiet; too quiet. She tensed up, this was supposed to be a sanctuary. Her sanctuary.

She started to say something, but then he came into view. Her tension stuttered, she looked over at him, a slight quirk of her eyebrows. She wasn’t ever really sure of herself whenever she saw him – it was her dad’s body, but not her dad. Her brain understood that, but her heart still had a lot of catching up to do. “Hi,” she murmured softly, lifting her fingers, “I…” She bit at her bottom lip, a slight squinting of her eyes – a lot like Castiel’s squint if anyone paid attention – “I had to get out of here.” At the same time she gestured to the door, it was easy to hear Donna’s mad laughter drifting through the walls.

She looked at the door, her lips twisting into something that showed love before she looked over at Castiel. “What are you doing here?” A soft chuckle as she stuffed her hands into the pockets of her coat.


CASTIEL--

Picking up far too easily on Claire's own unease, too close a match to his own, the angel nodded in easy agreement while glancing to the door more as a way to avoid the young woman's eyes than anything else. He found he liked Donna well enough, but she could be a bit much to deal with at times; she was still a constant source of confusion and consternation for him. He imagined she could even be the same for humans, especially for Claire who had been on her own for so long in all the ways that mattered.


He dropped his gaze to his shoes as she spoke, thinking absently that he'd have to clean them before going inside, or suffer the wrath of Jody and Donna teamed up against him. Cas offered a slight shrug at first in answer to Claire's simple question, unsure how to reply without making her even more uncomfortable. He could admit, if only to himself, that part of his hovering was purely because he knew she was back, and he'd hoped to see her before she decided to take off again.


Delivered a girl we encountered on a hunt in yesterday,” he finally replied, not even bothering to elaborate on who 'we' would be. He assumed it would be obvious. The answer wasn't the whole truth, but it was why he'd been here to begin with. He raised his head, then, meeting eyes he knew were as blue as his – Jimmy's – and gathered the nerve to finish. “And I was hoping to see you. Are you...here for long?” His head tilted, as he studied her, his eyes squinting up just the faintest bit.


CLAIRE--

A new girl?” Claire made a mental note to check in on her, it sometimes helped having someone close in age when everything was so new, so loud, so confusing – much more than having adults that have been there and done that. Sometimes all that was needed was someone whose world was just as turned upside down as theirs. Sure, her world had straightened out since losing her parents, but not by much. That was one reason why she went off on her own, to keep straightening out that world – it was a more tangible way for her to put words and actions to her thoughts and feelings. She was a doer nowadays, much better than person who felt too much.

She looked to the door before looking back at him, meeting those eyes.

“Until the next assignment blows through, Garth grabbed the last one and told me to go straight home.” She looked up at the roof of the porch, then chuckled, “as close to home as I’ll ever be.” She looked back at him, gesturing out to the woods with an elbow. “Wanna walk with me? If I stay here too long, she’ll make me eat a whole cake or something.”


CASTIEL--

Cas nodded, all the reply that was needed. He could see in her expression that she was already thinking about how to best make the girl at home. And he silently approved of that. He couldn't entirely begrudge her the decision to become a hunter, but he was still grateful when she got distracted from it by helping out around the academy. He knew she could take care of herself, better than ever these days, but it didn't stop him from being pleased when she was here and safe, instead of out on the hunt and in danger. However, he also knew better than to say anything to her about it.


He hummed an acknowledgment, briefly finding himself wishing she could consider the cabin home without the qualifier added to the word. Still, the fact that she was here at all was a win as far as he was concerned. Not just here at the cabin, but here talking to him. Especially when she made the offer that took him by surprise enough that it showed in the hopeful widening of his eyes before he was able to school his expression into something less, well, emotional.


Yes. I... I would like that, Claire,” he said, his rough voice barely above a murmur. Though, as he started moving in the direction she'd indicated, his lips quirked into a hesitantly pleased smile. “Have you been..well? Donna may be right to feed you. You seem a bit thin.” He winced, too late to take back what he'd said. “But you appear healthy.” He glanced over to her, his awkwardness blatant enough that even he could recognize it for the symptom of his unease that it was.


CLAIRE--

Claire caught the look, it made her lips twitch up in amusement before she composed her expression into one of nonchalance with a roll of her shoulders. It was slightly awkward standing here with him, her heart kept confusing him with her father – even though she knew he was gone. She should check in with him and her mother one day, she knew it was possible. One of the kids passing through the Academy a while back had said something about it. But then again, she remembered one of the Winchester brothers yelling about how if you sent something in the universe, it could come back at you; so what if calling up the spirits of her family was a bad thing?

Her lips skewed as she mentally shook herself to focus on the present. Her eyes flicked to Castiel as he walked off the porch, she went to follow, not bothering to silence her steps. Sometimes it was nice to sink in her boots and enjoy the noise of the mud.

“Another parent?” She looked at him, her voice full of amusement as she rolled her shoulders, it was weird. She lost her parents, but gained so many in return. Her lips twisted as she shrugged, “food is food. I forget sometimes, you know how it is.” She lifted her shoulder again, awkward that he was trying not to fumble over his words. “I’m okay,” she paused, looking at him, seeking out his eyes, “really.” She took a few more steps, biting at her bottom lip in thought, “I just…” She trailed off, trying to choose her words.

How could she word it? He didn’t always understand – it wasn’t his fault – he was an angel. He did try though.

“I’m still learning how to be okay.”


CASTIEL--

The angel had the good grace to actually look faintly ashamed. While he certainly felt responsible – rightly so, he was sure – for everything that had happened to her, and as a result responsible in some measure for trying to see to her health, safety, and happiness, he could never imagine trying to replace either of her parents. And there was his oath to Jimmy Novak to keep the man's family safe in payment for his sacrifice.


Castiel had wasted too much time on the concerns of a Heaven he now no longer had faith in, and then his own attempts at fixing what he'd broken and seeking some measure of personal redemption. While much of it had been necessary, he still felt regret over the resulting pain Claire had been through due to the simple fact that he hadn't really understood until too late. It was all this, added to the genuine affection for Claire he'd discovered that drove his too-often awkward and fumbling attempts to do what he could to see to her well-being.


Cas glanced over to Claire when she paused, meeting her gaze. He saw uncertainty there – though he couldn't quite fathom the reason for it, and he knew she had enough to feel uncertain about, like the company she was presently keeping – but he saw honesty there as well. His eyes dropped away as she took a few steps away, though he remained in place for a moment or two longer, before taking advantage of his longer stride to catch up to her. “I think I understand.” And, while there was a time he wouldn't have, now he did.


I know it's hard on you,” Cas said after a few moments of silence aside from the crunching of feet through snow that had melted and refrozen during the day. He meant his attempts at trying to reach out to her as much as he did her struggle to cope with all that had happened to her since he'd taken her father as his vessel, though it didn't occur to him to say so. “I'm not sure why I wanted to see you,” he slid his eyes over to study her profile as he continued, “but it just felt like something I should do.”


The angel stopped, then, going unnaturally still. It was a sure sign of deep confusion over his own feelings when he reverted from habits long since learned to help keep humans at ease around him to the more angelic tendencies to treat the body he inhabited as a vessel instead of the familiar extension of himself it had become over the years. “I..care about you, Claire,” he admitted, surprising himself with voicing his feelings aloud.


CLAIRE--

When he caught up, she glanced over at him, studying his profile. It was weird, when she had been younger, she always dreamt of what her father would look like whenever they saw each other again. Now, here he was, talking. Well. Whatever he was. She frowned a bit before mentally shaking herself again. Maybe she shouldn’t have listened to Garth and stood her ground, held out a couple more hunts before coming home. But Garth was her `Bobby` out there, she had to listen to him, or she’d catch hell from Jody for not listening.

When Castiel spoke again, she refocused on him, a little quirk of her lips. “It’s not for my sparkling personality,” she flashed a little grin before falling quiet. What was nice about Castiel was that he never forced her to do small talk – he wasn’t one for them either. She listened to them crunch through the snow and took in a deep breath.

Okay, cancel her earlier doubts. She should be here.

When he stopped, she blinked, stopping with him, tilting her head as she watched the emotions play over his face – it was not often that this happened. “Cas?” She spoke softly, then gave a slight smile, “you have feelings?” She shifted back, tilting her head, unsure what he was expecting in turn. “Ah…” Did he care for her because he was guilty, or? So she decided to ask him, he never lied to her. Most of the time.

“Is it because you’re still feeling guilty?” Her voice was so soft, feather-like, but it seemed so loud in the woods around them.


CASTIEL--

His own lips quirked – so similar to hers – and the angel offered her a little half-shrug, ending his stillness as he remembered himself. A human could easily answer 'of course' to having feelings, or accept it as teasing. With him, it was more complicated. In some ways, she knew him as no other – aside from Jimmy – could have. Claire had once seen him from the inside, after all. But that was during a time when emotions were, essentially, foreign to him. So when she questioned him having feelings, he couldn't be sure if it was a human tendency to tease, or if she was serious. In the end, he just let it lie, putting it into his mental file of things he couldn't quite figure out about humans.


I...” he started to reply, then realized he wasn't even sure how to answer her softly spoken question. He studied her for a moment that seemed an eternity to him, grasping for an answer that was both true, and wouldn't give her cause to...well, he wasn't even sure of what he was so nervous that she was going to do. And he was nervous, an emotion that endlessly confused him.


Yes. But...also no.” He let his eyes drop, staring at his hand, which he only then realized was fiddling with the edge of his coat. “I do feel guilt, still. I think I probably always will, even if I didn't realize what consequences my actions would have.” Needing suddenly to see how she was reacting, he looked back up to her, even though his head remained tilted down. “It's more than that, Claire. I'm not sure how to put it into words. But I...care. I feel a need to see that you are safe and well that goes beyond any guilt or oath or duty.” He paused, thinking over what he'd said, then straightened and nodded and continued with more confidence, “I care about you, Claire.”


CLAIRE--

She fidgeted a little bit, taking her hands out of her pockets before stuffing them back in the pockets. It was weird how he could take forever to respond, almost like he had to analyze everything after already having analyzed it a couple times. Her lips twisted a little as she watched him before pulling her eyes off to look at the trees around them. She hated it when people watched her, almost as if they were afraid she would break before them – she wouldn’t do the same to Castiel. He deserved more than that.

Her eyes refocused on him when she saw the movement of his hands, that was such a human thing for him to do; it pulled on her heart some, the softening showed in her eyes. She exhaled slowly, “it’s not exactly all your fault.” She murmured softly, “I understand that now,” she looked back to the trees, “Dean and Sam helped me see that Dad was just…” She trailed off, shutting herself up, he needed to talk – she didn’t.

When he stopped talking, she looked over at him with a soft twist of her lips. “Aw Castiel,” she wanted to hug him, she wanted to… do something. She wasn’t sure. It was weird between them. He was an Angel wearing her Dad and she was a mixed up little kid who finally turned herself into a hunter.

“I care about you too,” she muttered, a bit roughly, he had caught her unawares.


CASTIEL--

She surprised him. She often did. Surprised him, sometimes frustrated him, often confused him, but, Castiel was understanding, she was always willing to give him a chance despite everything. “I'm...uh, I'm going to,” he'd started to ask permission, or maybe just warn her. But then he just gave in to the impulse tugging at him and stepped forward to enfold her in his arms.


I'm glad. I'm.. That makes me happy, Claire,” he said, even as he released her, ever cognizant of Dean's rules for how long one should hug before it got 'weird.' When he pulled back, self-consciously taking a step back away from her, the genuine smile playing on his lips only grew.


He sobered quickly, concern for Claire overriding the almost giddy moment of happiness he'd felt. “Is there anything I can do? Maybe you'd like to...talk? About...things?” He was dwelling on how she'd brought up her father, before she'd just stopped.


His eyes narrowed into a squint as he considered her, confused as to if bringing up Jimmy directly would allow her to talk about something she might feel a need to, or only wound her further.


CLAIRE--

She blinked as she felt his arms wrap around her, it was weird, but at the same time, it was home; even if it wasn’t her dad hugging her. She had to resist the urge to put her head on his shoulder, Castiel would be confused, or continue to hug her. Long hugs made her awkward, something Donna still didn’t understand. “Um,” she bobbed her head in a nod as he broke the hug, not taking a step back when he did. She gave that little crooked smile of hers as she tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Good,” she allowed that much as she studied him for a moment before glancing away when she saw that concern slide into his eyes.

“Huh?” She looked back at him, crinkling her nose a bit with a shake of her head. “Like I said, I’m learning to be okay. It’s like…” She looked down at her coat, worrying the frayed edges a bit, “it’s like I’ve been having dreams, and now I’m waking up.” She looked up at him, that was probably the most she ever said in a rush while calm, not angry.

CASTIEL--

Cas nodded slowly, studying her closely and forgetting for the moment that his stares could be a little...intense. He thought of his own struggles with fear and trauma, though he hadn't really understood at the time what was happening to him. Angels didn't feel fear, not the way humans did. And angels certainly didn't react to it the way he once had. Then again, he hadn't really been a full angel – mentally, emotionally – in quite some time. That time, too, had felt like a dream he'd taken almost a year to awaken from, one he'd rather not ever have to relive.


He blinked, pulling from his thoughts, only then realizing he'd been staring at Claire the whole time. Rubbing at his neck, a gesture leftover in the muscle memory of a man long since gone, he looked away from her, mumbling. “I understand.” Slowly, he looked back up to her, his lips twitching into a hesitant smile. “I just wanted you to know I'd listen, if you ever wanted to talk. Sam says talking can help. Sometimes.” He huffed a soft laugh. “Learning to be okay...it's good, Claire. It's really good.”


His hand slipped into the pocket of his coat, then pulled out a small, rectangular box. It was the kind one might get from a jeweler, though it looked a little bit battered, as though it had been carried around for quite some time. He looked at it for a few silent moments, then back up to Claire. Abruptly, he held it out to her. Inside, if she opened it, she would find a sturdy silver chain. On the chain was a silver medallion, with a delicately engraved anti-possession ward on it, the engraving blackened to make it stand out against the polished silver of the medallion.


I know you don't really need this, but... I couldn't think what else to get you. And I wanted to find you something. Donna, she...um...she said when humans care about someone, they give gifts sometimes. To, um, represent that.” He fell silent then, realizing again that he was being awkward. Instead, he just offered her a smile that hovered between hopeful and apologetic.


CLAIRE--

Claire crinkled her nose at him again, “but it’s hard when I don’t know how much you understand.” She rolled her shoulders, ducking her head, “you are an Angel.” She smiled quickly to try to soften the blow, “I mean…” She trailed off, looking off into the woods, “you know more about me than anyone else, but do you understand human things?” She frowned a little bit, “I’m sorry if that’s mean.” She finally looked over at him, starting to say something else when she saw him move his hand.

She gave a soft noise of curiosity when he offered up the box, her lips parted, then closed. How long had he been holding this? She took the box from him because she knew he’d keep holding it out like that. She turned the box over a couple times, “You didn’t need to…” Her voice was soft, she opened it and smiled as she lifted the necklace out. “Cas…”

She chuckled softly as she looked at that smile of his, “thank you.” She slipped it over her head, a smile playing on her lips. “You know I still have the cat?” She looked up at him after fixing her hair, “thank you.” She murmured again, fingering the medallion.


CASTIEL--

His smile grew as she slipped the chain over her neck, merely nodding to acknowledge her expression of gratitude. A mischievous glint came into his normally somber blue eyes, then. “From the Hot Topical.” He chuckled softly. “I understand that the store isn't called that. Now.”


He grew serious again. “I understand far more than I did, Claire. More than when you... When I took you as a vessel.” He knew that had to be a painful memory for her, but he also felt that it couldn't be avoided forever. It had happened, and there was no going back to change that now. “More, even, than when you went to live with Jody.”


He studied her for a moment, purposely letting the pain that still lingered from the events that happened during that time, and even more so what came after, show in his expression. Now, he knew, was not the time to close up and call up the angel side of him. “There's a lot I still don't understand about being human. I probably never will. I'm not human.” He shrugged, an easy, even casual motion that almost belied his words. “But I'm not really all angel anymore, either. Too much time getting close to humans, it's...changed me.”


He closed his eyes, finding that even now it was hard to summon the courage to speak of the time he spent holed up, away from the world, unable to even leave the bunker more than he was forced to by circumstances. “There's this thing that can happen to humans. Sam called it... 'PTSD' and I... Well, I found out about it because...it was happening to me. It...happened.” Slowly, his eyes opened to meet with Claire's matching blue. “I may not understand 'human things' but I understand learning to be...okay.”


CLAIRE--

A laugh came from her lips when he understood her joke, but she knew he understood the purpose – or at least, she hoped. It would be nice to have him understand.

Claire flinched a bit when he mentioned having taken her, it was a memory that was seared into her brain. A slight frown flitted over her face before slipping away, she studied him as he spoke, letting him look at her; a small relief for her that they were out near the woods – no one could see her vulnerability. It was something she had worked hard, and fiercely, to protect nowadays. A slight shake of her head, she rolled her shoulders, trying to let it go.

She watched his face, the pain aging it, she bit at her bottom lip – unsure if he expected her to say something. It was the same between them, they spoke, never really expecting a response; explaining things got messy, which wasn't fun. But here he was, explaining it. PTSD. That was her thing too, except she used to use it as a reason to be so angry at the world; she still was angry, but… not so much anymore.

She watched his face, the pain aging it, she bit at her bottom lip – unsure if he expected her to say something. It was the same between them, they spoke, never really expecting a response; explaining things got messy, which wasn’t fun. “So it wasn’t all Netflix and rainbows?” Her voice was soft, she frowned, trying to sober up. “Then we can learn to be okay together,” she tilted her head up at him, then groaned a bit. “I feel like we’re doing a chick moment again.” She looked away, “but really, I’d like that.”


CASTIEL--

He burst out laughing, a genuine, full laugh, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “No, it was not all 'Netflix and rainbows.' Though, Netflix is very interesting. I have to admit that I still indulge in it, from time to time.”


He grew serious again, though that light of joy and just simple enjoyment didn't quite leave his eyes. “I'm glad, Claire.” His hand twitched, almost moving with his desire to hug her again, to simply hold her, but her mention of a 'chick moment' stopped him. Just because she'd allowed it once didn't mean she would allow it again. He felt more at ease with her now than he had when they'd set out into the woods, but there was still that lingering awkwardness born of his desire for her to accept him without the past getting between them.


Instead of giving in to that desire, he shifted on his feet, restlessly. Then, with a gesture back in the direction of the cabin, he turned and started walking slowly, confident that she would accompany him. After all, it was cold out here. It might not affect him much, but he worried that it could be starting to get to her. Human tolerances was, in his opinion, one of the hardest things to grasp about them. They just varied too much from person to person for him to get a good understanding of.


As they walked, he slid his gaze back over to study her profile, yet again. “I know I can't replace...what you lost. But, I'd like it if we could be...friends.” Friendship, that was a concept he'd come to understand quite well. But, like family, it was one he reserved for very few. Acquaintances and contacts he had by the dozens, but friends...those were something special. And real family? Well, those he could count on one hand. “Maybe even...family.” And even if Claire refused his hesitant offer, in his heart, he still counted her among his family.


CLAIRE--

Claire watched him move around, amused, he was a lot like her and she him; probably why the brothers kept insisting that she give Castiel another chance. When he moved, she went ahead to follow him, eventually matching his stride and accompanying him side by side. She looked over at him, a tilt of her head as she thought about what he said while they walked.

She nodded slowly, “no one can replace Mom and Dad,” she spoke softly, agreeing with him, it was a horrible admission, it made her feel lonely and fee all at once. She looked down at her feet as they kept moving. Then she looked up, over her shoulder, giving him that crooked smile of hers again.

“Family? I never had an Angel for family before.” A crinkle of her nose, “I’d like that.”

CASTIEL--

He turned a lopsided smile on her, clearly amused and delighted. “Well, I don't know about that. More like an angel that tries hard to be a real boy.” He huffed out a laugh at his own attempt at a joke, more at ease now that she hadn't rejected him. “But I'm glad. I'd like that, too.” It was a nice feeling, he decided, to have his sense of real family, human family, grow from merely two to three. It felt...right. It felt...good.


A thought occurred to him, prompting another small laugh, the air from his sudden breath curling up into white mist. “Maybe if we tell Donna she'll feel less like she has to mother you so much.” He tilted his head, his eyes squinting up as he considered it. “Probably not. That woman is made to mother.”


He sighed then, sobering as he thought of the twins. “She's going to be distracted soon enough, though, I think,” he said absently, dwelling more than he knew he should on the spark of guilt that thoughts of them flared to life.


CLAIRE--

She looked at him and grinned, “Angel Pinochhio,” somehow that thought amused her, she moved over to nudge him, “you’re not doing too badly.” The grin hasn’t faded from her face, it really was nice to be able to talk to him like this.

A lift of her eyebrows, “she’ll just end up adopting you as well.” She shook her head, “I think she just needs a kid of her own,” she tilted her head, “or something. You’re going to have to get her a puppy,” she gave a slight grin before studying him, her grin faded as he sobered; his face wasn’t hard to read. Perhaps it was him becoming more human nowadays.

“Oh?” She studied him, “well, I think things need to be shaken up a little around here,” she rolled her shoulders. “We need to get inside, it’s cold.”


CASTIEL--

Forcing the thoughts of his guilt away to keep from spoiling this time with Claire, he rolled his eyes heavenward. “That would be just my luck. Donna would take in the entirety of the world's orphans and wayward ones, if she could.” Of course, he didn't consider himself in either of those groups, not really. But it wouldn't surprise him if Donna somehow did.


He shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat, feeling her eyes on him, but not quite looking her way. The way she watched him didn't bother him in the slightest, but it made him aware he'd sounded almost as though he had something to hide. And, after far too many examples of how things could go spectacularly wrong when you hid things from family, that was something he was determined not to do. But, he decided, now wasn't really the time, either.


He watched his own breath turn white when it hit the cold, smiling faintly. “We should. Once more unto the breach, I suppose?” He tilted his head to look at her, a teasing glint in his eye. He enjoyed being able to use cultural references on her. Dean would usually just roll his eyes at any that didn't involve his preferred genre of music or movies or television, and Sam would smile indulgently, like Cas was some amusing child. But Claire...she seemed to genuinely enjoy them, and he enjoyed being able to make her smile.


CLAIRE--

Thank god we have Jody and Mrs. Tran for that,” she grinned as she looked to the porch, not bothering to hurry her pace. It was nice being out here with him, not fighting him for once. She laughed as she heard his quote, a shake of her head as she looked to the door, “Donna is going to maul us. But, you better eat her cake. Apparently she spent all day making this.”

A pause, “I think she bought it at the store though, don’t hurt her feelings,” she grinned. “Come on,” and she slipped her arm through his, “we’ve got this.”


CASTIEL--

He grinned, content with...well, pretty much everything right about now. “Angels don't eat.” He paused, pure for dramatic effect, then laughed. “But I think I can make an exception.” His hesitation was more genuine when she slipped her arm into his, his grin softened into a smile.


He stepped up onto the porch when they came to it, matching his pace to hers, oddly reluctant to venture inside and have the moment end. But, he mused, at least this time there was the promise of more. Aiming a quick, almost conspiratorial smile at Claire, he pulled open the door and ushered her inside. He stepped into the warm and welcoming cabin after her – completely forgetting his muddied boots.


CLAIRE--

She laughed at him, shaking her head as she slipped into the cabin, taking her coat off, already bracing herself for hurricane Donna. Sure, Donna wasn’t as bad as she used to be, but still, she was a lot to handle. Claire turned to say something to Castiel when she heard Donna coming up behind them.

“You all took forever,” Donna chided, “now you must be chilled to the bone and…” She stopped, a gasp falling from her lips, “Castiel!” She pointed to the muddied boots, “Take them off. Right now!” She flapped her hands, “hurry, hurry!” She looked over to Claire with a pained look on her face, “I just spent the whole day cleaning for you.”


CASTIEL--

Castiel was reaching out to take Claire's coat for her when Donna just seemed to appear behind Claire with a suddenness and silence that impressed even the angel. Amusement at her chiding of Claire as though she were a child still quickly shifted into surprise when Donna's nagging broke off and she turned her attention to him.


His eyes squinted up in confusion as Donna actually yelled at him. Slowly, he looked down to where she pointed, then back up to her, his eyes widening in understanding. “Oh. My apologies, Donna,” he said sincerely, even as he bent to slip the offending footwear off.


Once he was done, he stood standing in his sock feet – which were oddly, considering the rest of his conservative attire, a vividly bright blue - with the boots in one hand, held out slightly. He looked helplessly from Donna to Claire, clearly uncertain what he should do. He didn't really spend a lot of time at the cabin – though this was something he'd recently resolved to change – and etiquette regarding things like dirtied shoes wasn't really something he'd learned in his time with Sam and Dean at the bunker.


It was only after he'd taken the shoes off that he remembered he'd left bags from his shopping earlier in the day in his car. He sighed, staring down at the offending boots. “Donna, we...need to talk. And...I need to get some things I bought from the car. But, I think the discussion should come first,” he said, looking back up to her solemnly. The nice interlude with Claire was over, and it was time to, as the humans said, 'face the music.'