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The power of the spell touches something in a way that none of them anticipated.

It makes the angels look like angels. Shining bright in human skin. They're glowing and Sam can see the strange not-real impossibility of their wings. That kind of makes them stand out so they're stuck at the motel.

Dean seems determined to flit between awe and amusement. Castiel is trying to be sensible about the whole thing. Sam isn't surprised, because he's used to Dean, or enough used to Dean to not take offence at the comments, at his brother's sudden weirdly uncharacteristic but understandable need to touch this new weirdness. The fact that Castiel is happy enough to let him is less hard to understand.

Castiel is dealing.

Gabriel - not so much.

When Sam lets himself back into his room he finds the Archangel cross-legged on the end of the bed, facing the wall. His huge, impossible wings trail on the dirty motel carpet. In a way that seems not only blasphemous, but strangely sad. He has a magazine open on the bed and Sam can see a picture of a preposterously large shark devouring someone on a surfboard.

He goes to put a hand down on Gabriel's shoulder. For all that Gabriel mocks them, Sam knows when someone is dealing with something that they've spent a long time trying to avoid dealing with. But the wings are corporeal. They may not look it but they are. He finds himself with his fingers curled round what feels like the static warmth of a limb and yet more alien. He jerks his hand back like he's touched something he shouldn't have.

"Shit, sorry."

Gabriel's still for a second, then he flips a page.

"They won't bite you, you know," he tells him. Though it sounds less amused than it tries for.

"I keep forgetting my fingers won't go through them," Sam says carefully.

Gabriel snorts quiet laughter.

"Pretty much the only time they're going to be real enough to touch, but not to burn your skin off." He shrugs, like it doesn't matter, like he doesn't care. Hiding something that feels like hastily covered over embarrassment. "Touch if you want to."

Sam doesn't know how to reply to that. But the wings shift, one steady movement to lift and resettle them, and his hand is up again before he realises it. He breathes out when he touches one, expecting something. Gabriel's no longer turning pages but he isn't protesting either. Sam's not sure how to touch at first. It's not skin, and not feathers exactly, though it almost looks like them. It's warm, alive and electric, fingers disappearing into it like it's liquid.

He loses some of his caution when the wings ease apart. Until it's a steady pull of fingertips through the barely there shadow of feathers. Light and vibration and the faintest echo of something vital, something alive. He searches underneath, finds the strange warmth of smaller, softer feathers in the unreal depths of Gabriel's wing.

Gabriel goes very still, in a way that feels surprised. Like Sam has done something he's not supposed to. Done something Gabriel didn't expect.

He pulls his hand away again.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't, you're not some sort of -"

The wings give one slow shiver and very slowly lift and open wider, easing back within reach. They're close enough that Sam could lean in and let them drag across his cheek if he wanted to.

Gabriel's still holding himself perfectly still, facing away from him. But there's something there, something vulnerable.

Wordlessly Sam raises his hand again. Gabriel's wings move into his touch this time. They press into his fingers like they can't help it. He can't resist burying his hand in a slow upward push that leaves his skin tingling and his fingers verging on numb.

Gabriel manages half an inhale before it cracks and turns into some sort of gasping moan and there's absolutely no way Sam can pretend any more. No way he can ignore the fact that this is not just curiosity. This is intimacy.

He doesn't move for a long second. Because he doesn't know what he's doing, doesn’t know what this means.

He curls his fingers.

"Gabriel?" It's a question but he's not sure what he's asking.

Whatever it is the answer is yes. Gabriel's wings tilt up and back, spreading open, all the way open. The trailing edges brush his arms and the fallen strands of his hair. They're brighter, softer, more real the more he touches them, more alive. He thinks maybe he's the one doing that.

Gabriel has fallen forward on his hands, shoulders twitching and shaking on every rough drag of fingers and there's no doubt at all where Sam is taking him now. He should stop. He should - God - he should stop. because this isn't right. This is angel, some naked, secret part that people don't get to see. That Gabriel seems to feel almost ashamed of. But that he's letting Sam touch, which leaves all the breath caught in his throat.

Sam wonders how long it's been since someone touched them. Since something saw him like this. He lifts his other hand and carefully spreads his fingers, feels the way they resist, just barely, before letting his fingers slide through. Before letting them slide inside and Gabriel inhales sharply and fists his hands in the bedding.

"Please." It's breathless and quietly pleading, threaded through with need. Bitten out like Gabriel never wanted to let it go.

Sam pushes and presses deeper finds the places that are hot and soft, the places that make him feel like he's touching something vast and electric. Harder touches that make Gabriel choke on air and shiver.

Sam can't even try and pretend this isn't affecting him too. When his skin's too warm and too tight and he's breathing shallow through his open mouth, cock heavy where it's crushed tight under his jeans. Watching the ripple of light drag over the translucent surface over and over.

An over-enthusiastic grip gets him a gasp and a sharp twitch of movement. He's about to apologise but the noise Gabriel makes when he lets go is obscene. He does it again, harder, hard enough to make his fingers ache. The angel is bowed all the way over, wings spread painfully wide and there's so much to grab hold of, so much to touch and Sam can't stop himself. Can't help himself.

"Sam." Gabriel makes the word a breathless warning.

And suddenly everything is very bright.

There's a sharp, high noise, brief but painful. Sam's hands are tingling like they're full of static electricity.

When he can see again Gabriel is leant back against his chest, wings pale and barely real again but lined with strange colours.