"She's beautiful, Dean."
"Yeah, she looks like her mother, lucky girl," says Dean, smiling down at the baby in his arms.
Castiel finds his statement odd. While she does have her mother's delicate nose, and tufts of her dark hair, anyone can see this baby's eyes look just like her father's. But Castiel has learned not to say everything he thinks, especially to Dean. Instead, he just says "Are you ready?"
"Yes. But... how much will it hurt?"
"Not as much as yours." (And Sam's, he thinks, but again, Castiel has learned that some things are better left unsaid.) "Her bones are softer, and my skills have improved. It will require less power. It should feel similar to an inoculation."
"And you're sure you can add the anti-possession symbol?"
"And the exception?"
"I'm sure, Dean." (Sam's research was sound, Castiel wants to say. He does not.)
"Okay," Dean sighs, "let's do it."
The angel pauses. What he is about to do is like a bizarre baptism, and he feels there should be some ritual involved; some rite. He should say something. (Sam should be here, he thinks, and his absence is suddenly overwhelming.)
Castiel places his fingertips lightly on the baby's forehead and says "Samantha Mary Winchester, you are hereby sealed against angels and demons, and marked as your own, subject to no power and traceable by no one except yourself and God." He then places his palm flat on her chest and gently, gently, sends a surge of power through her tiny body, etching ancient symbols onto her ribcage. The baby cries out briefly and is immediately pulled tighter into her father's arms.
Castiel looks up and sees Dean's raised eyebrows. "God?" Dean says.
"I will hide her from angels and demons, but not my Father," says Castiel. "I still believe he will come back."
Dean is silent for a long moment, cradling the baby against his shoulder, nuzzling her fine, dark hair. "That's fine," he finally says. "I still want a word with him if he does." Dean kisses the baby's head and whispers "shh, it's okay." He turns back to Castiel. "So, your exception? Did it work? Try it."
Castiel smiles. To satisfy Dean, he closes his eyes and turns his back. "Yes, I can see her," he says. "I'll be able to find her." But the test was not necessary. Samantha Winchester still shines in his awareness like she did the moment she was born, like a beacon in the dark. Like her father did in Hell. Castiel will always be able to find her.
"Good," says Dean. "Thank you, Cas. It means a lot to me. To us." He turns back to his daughter. "Come on, Sammy," he murmurs softly. "Let's go find Mom. I bet you're ready for lunch." As he walks away, he looks back at Castiel and says "So, I guess that makes you her guardian angel."
Another Winchester to watch over, thinks Castiel. Father, help me do a better job guarding this one.
Author's Note: Castiel's ritual was inspired by a line in the Rite of Holy Baptism from the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer:
N., you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever. Amen.