Dean's working under the car the next time he hears that wet tear of sound which tells him there's now an angel somewhere in the place.
He turns his head to the side, watches shiny black shoes step their way around patches of oil.
"What can I do for you, Cas?" Dean says from underneath the car.
The shoes stop near the scatter of tools Dean's left within reaching distance.
"I'm curious about the internet's continued interest in exploring the metaphysical nature of my true form."
Dean takes a moment to figure that out in his head.
"You've been reading wing-porn again haven't you?" he asks around a wrench.
There's a pointed silence, in which, Dean assumes, Castiel is attempting to translate internet jargon into useable word forms.
"Yes," he says eventually. "There is an error in thinking you would be capable of seeing them."
"I did see them that one time, in the barn." Because, yeah, there's no way he's ever forgetting that. There's nothing that cuts through adrenaline fuelled bravado like a freakin' huge pair of angel wings.
"No," Castiel says. "You simply saw the space they would have occupied were I to manifest them in this plane. Which would be inadvisable, especially around you."
"Just as eyeball searing as the rest of you huh?" Dean asks, and very pointedly doesn't wonder if that's the angelic equivalent of flashing.
"Yes," Castiel agrees in that unnecessarily portentous tone. Like his eyeball searing true form is serious business indeed. Dean's honestly starting to think it's one of those things that gets talked up so much it couldn't be anything but disappointing in the end. Once you got past the whole melted eyeballs thing. Seen one shiny naked angel, seen them all.
"So, they're not big and fluffy and white," Dean asks, and he can't help grinning at the bewildered silence that comes from somewhere to his left.
Castiel shifts closer, Dean likes to think his shiny shoes are giving off an air of curious pique.
"I don't understand the preoccupation with ascribing large bird-like appendages to angels and then sexualising them," Castiel offers slowly and uncertainly. Like he's truly bewildered by it.
Dean grins up at the engine and resists the urge to make a crude joke, because Castiel probably won't get it and that's half the fun. Or maybe he does get them but he's just too angelic to admit as much. It's not like he isn't rocking a fierce poker face there. He should absolutely teach Cas to play poker at some point. He could call it 'an exercise in subterfuge' rather than filthy, filthy gambling.
"Hell if I know," he admits. "Maybe it's the flying thing, maybe human beings just want to hold onto that impossible dream of flying. Or maybe the whole world has a deep, secretive feather kink they don't talk about in public, who knows."
He resists the urge to say 'masturbatory wing fantasies,' because then he'll be forced to picture it.
"Or maybe they just think you'd look hot with giant kick-ass wings." He shrugs, which is a pretty pointless gesture when he's laying under the car.
"They also seem to ascribe the same interest to you," Castiel tells him.
Dean stops turning the wrench.
"I get fic where I have wings?" he asks in surprise.
Which is...actually that's pretty cool. As long as they're awesome wings, not stupid little cherub wings but huge-ass things, maybe in black. He would, without doubt, look hot with giant kick-ass wings.
Castiel's silence seems to approve, which amuses him, he's not sure why.
He turns his head out of the way of a drip of oil.
"So what are your wings actually made of then, Cas?"
There's a strange silence. Dean looks sideways but Castiel's shoes are annoyingly unhelpful about what he's thinking this time.
"What, are you not allowed to tell me?" he asks, and, ok, maybe he's a little afraid the answer will be 'yes.'
"It's difficult to find the right words," Castiel admits sounding like he's further away than before. "There are none which convey the exact nature of them."
"Just take a stab at it, come on, you've been around for millions of years you must have a couple of words."
There's a very long pause, so long that Dean thinks maybe Castiel isn't going to speak again.
"Ice," the angel says eventually, voice slow and rough. "Ice and lightening and sound and chaos."
It's uncertain, like Castiel wishes he had better words, but Dean's still kind of stunned by the ones he did pick.
He realises he's been staring at his unmoving hands for a while.
"That's...kind of awesome," Dean tells him.
The silence from Castiel is...warmer, like maybe he's pleased.
Dean isn't entirely sure how he's even getting that, because he's still looking at his hands, and the dark grubby stretch of the Impala's underside.
And suddenly his brain is insisting on changing the subject. Skidding away from whatever he was about to think, or say, and finding something else instead.
"So, uh, did you find that story I told you about earlier, the one where Sam's turned into a dragon."
"I did, though I suspect Sam didn't want me reading it, he attempted to hide it."
Dean huffs laughter against his own hands because, yeah, maybe Sam's picking up his own habit of making sure the angel doesn't stumble over anything traumatising. Either that or he's just ashamed of his hilarious dragon self.
"Where did he put it?" Dean asks curiously.
"The same folder where you make him keep the death fic and the non-consensual sex," Castiel answers.
Dean's hand slams into a hard piece of metal and he holds in a swearword and makes a pained fist. Then he slithers his way out from under the car, straightens up.
"You're not supposed to know about that," he accuses.
Castiel looks briefly to the side, then back and Dean thinks he's resisting the urge to mock his belief that he can keep secrets from an angel.
"I'm considerably older than you Dean, I've been watching humanity for a very long time, and I have been to hell. I understand more than you think."
"Still I was being good, I was-" Dean gestures, some sort of awkward shoving motion "-with the really disturbing stuff."
Castiel tips his head up just a little, as if he quietly approves.
"I appreciate your attempts to protect me," he says quietly, and there's something soft and surprised there. Like it's a completely foreign concept.
Like Castiel had never considered himself something worth protecting.
Something occurs to Dean.
"You didn't read them did you?"
Castiel very slowly shakes his head, and Dean's bizarrely relieved about that.
"Seriously, just because you know where they are doesn't mean you're allowed to read them, you know that right?"
Castiel makes a noise that's so close to a sigh there's no way to call it anything else, and then-
The angel has, apparently, learned how to roll his eyes.
"Oh, you did not just roll your eyes at me."
A pointed stare suggests that, yes, that is exactly what Castiel just did.
"Oh, god, I am a bad influence," Dean complains.
"You are certainly an influence." Castiel says seriously.
In a fit of protest Dean leaves a long streak of oil on the angel's nose.
Four hours later, mostly clean, save for the stubborn streaks and smears of oil that never come off, they end up in the hotel room, Dean sprawled out on the bed with one of Sam's books and Castiel's in one of the chairs, looking for all the world like he thinks reading is a quaint but unnecessary pastime.
Dean's half tempted to ask what his huge angelic brain is thinking, but his own is derailed by a question that's been bothering him since this morning.
"Sam seem ok to you?" he asks.
Castiel looks up, the tiny frown between his eyes the only hint of an expression. He seems to think it's a complicated question, he takes his time with it.
"He seems agitated," Castiel says at last.
"Yeah, I talked to him this morning before he went to the library. He said he's going to stop looking for 'validation on the internet' or some crap. Because he obviously 'wasn't going to get it.' Something about how he's better off not knowing. About how this is his fictional punishment and he's just going to accept it and not let it make him feel like shit anymore. Blah, blah, blah."
Castiel's now wearing his favourite blank face on the other side of the room.
"Yeah, I know, I didn't buy it either. If you ask me, he found something that traumatised him and now he's afraid to go looking again."
"Perhaps we shouldn't have revealed the sub-genre of fiction involving him and Lucifer to him," Castiel says carefully.
And, sure, Sam had seemed angry about that and there'd been some of that 'I am disturbed and saddened by this development' only in a whinier and more Sam-like sort of way.
This, this was more freaked out.
"I think it's something worse than that."
Castiel frowns. "Something we should be worried about?"
"Maybe, maybe it's something awful he doesn't want to talk about, maybe someone wrote him into some Twilight crossover fanfiction."
Castiel opens his mouth.
Dean points a finger at him.
"Don't, seriously, trust me just- I don't even want to explain that to you. In fact, don't even Google it, dude, I'll know, because I'll check."
Dean's honestly debating whether to sneak next door and check Sam's browser history again, when there's a quiet knock on the door.
Normally Dean would be a little more cautious about strange knocks on his motel rooms, but the knock sounds sort of wet and apologetic.
"Dean," Sam says quietly from the other side of the door.
Dean frowns, gets up and opens it.
It's raining outside.
It's raining a lot.
Sam's dripping in the doorway like some sort of giant bedraggled thing, and Dean's not sure he's ever seen his brother look more pathetic.
"So I was wondering if I could stay here," Sam says carefully, hopefully.
"Don't you want your own room any more?" Dean asks curiously, because Sam had been pissy in his determination to escape from both of them yesterday. There'd been a certain 'I'm never coming back, even if you beg me,' flavour to his storming out.
"No," Sam says simply and when Dean doesn't protest or physically bar him from entering he drips his way past, leaving splodges and wet footprints on the carpet, then dumps his wet stuff on the other bed.
Castiel doesn't react to being showered with water droplets.
"Did something happen last night?" Dean asks curiously, because this is weirder than usual for Sam, since he stopped sneaking out at night to have sex with an evil demon.
Sam's haunted expression pretty much confirms that 'yes' something happened. But when Dean raises an eyebrow in question the face Sam makes says, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn't want to talk about it, and yeah that's the 'I have been traumatised' face rather than the 'I've done something I feel horribly guilty about,' face.
Dean thinks about poking it, decides it probably won't get him anything but Sam's irritated fume-y silence.
Man, it's almost worth it.
But Castiel's hovering like he's just waiting to be given something to do.
Dean wonders if making an angel go and get pizza is an abuse of his privileges.
Sam's left on his own while Dean and Castiel go out to acquire pizza.
He leaves his laptop shut by his bag and absolutely does not go near it, or do anything to it.
For a very short period this morning he'd worried it might be possessed, he'd even considered carefully sprinkling it with holy water. But that was just stupid, laptops couldn't be possessed, the electrical energy of any demon or haunting would fry it before it even managed to do anything.
Besides Castiel had been fiddling with it since...
since Lucifer had it last.
Or didn't because that had absolutely been a dream, a dream in which nothing weird had happened at all, and Lucifer had in no way read him porn, or tried to kiss him.
Either way he's fine with a book.
Books are good. He can research through library books and reference books just as easily-
His phone goes off half way through the thought and he slips it out of his pocket and looks at it.
He doesn't recognise the number.
He answers it warily. "Hello?"
"Look, normally I wouldn't bother you, I know you have important things to do, saving the world from an impending apocalypse, saving people from monsters and everything." Chuck sounds tired and irritated on the other end of the phone, and ever so slightly drunk.
"Chuck?" Sam's honestly surprised because he's fairly sure Chuck doesn't have their number.
Or didn't at least.
He clearly does now.
"Yeah, it's me," Chuck sounds apologetic about it. "On the off chance that you don't realise it you are both, in fact, driving me insane. It's like living in a funhouse hall of mirrors. Or one of those optical illusions where it's a vase and two faces at the same time. So, uh, you would not believe the headache I have when that happens, seriously. So yeah, could you please, please stop. Or, at least wait until it's late and I'm really, really drunk."
Sam has a horrible guilty feeling that he knows exactly what Chuck's talking about- and he thinks he knows, suddenly and uncomfortably, how it feels when your parents walk in on you having sex.
He's not quite sure what he manages next, some sort of guilty mumble about how they didn't realise, that has Chuck sighing on the other end in a really uncomfortable sort of way.
The door swings open and Dean steps back inside, shakes his head, flinging water everywhere. Castiel looks perfectly dry when he slips in after him.
Dean opens his mouth to speak, notices he's on the phone and asks a question with a jerk of his head-
"It's ok, Sam," Chuck says in his ear. "Just, yeah, cut back a little bit, please."
"I'm sorry," Sam says again, for what of anything less awkward to say.
"No, I mean I realise you and Dean are- I know you're under a lot of pressure it's just. It's like having my brain turned inside out when you read about yourselves."
Sam nods, which probably isn't helpful at all but he's not sure he can manage any more words
He tries for the sake of conversation.
"Sure, I mean, I totally get it, sorry and umm, bye." And wow, that came out sort of strangled and awful. He thinks maybe he tried for fake cheerful and failed miserably.
He shuts his phone, and frowns at where Dean's still paused in the doorway
Dean raises an eyebrow.
"That was Chuck," Sam say carefully and Dean's eyebrow climbs even higher.
Sam sets the phone down on the table.
"Yeah, he wants us to stop reading porn about ourselves."
Dean blinks surprise.
"Is he writing about us reading porn about ourselves?" Dean expression is a complicated mess, like he's not entirely sure whether to be amused or horrified, or some sort of entertaining mixture of the two.
When it's phrased like that Sam's not entirely sure either.
"I don't know but if we keep doing it he's probably going to end up insane."
Dean's clearly decided on finding the whole thing hilarious, because he snorts laughter
"Hey, it's not like we asked him to write about us. It's his fault that there are us's to read porn about." Dean frowns at that sentence, like it sounded less confusing in his head.
"In his defence he thought we were fictional characters at the time," Sam says carefully.
"That's no excuse," Dean points out.
"I think it probably is, I think you're allowed to do what you want with fictional characters."
"Until they show up at your house and punch you in the face," Dean says sensibly, he hands the bag he's holding to a disapproving Sam who peers inside.
"We never punched- I thought you were going for pizza?" Sam says, frowning confusion when he finds chinese take-out boxes instead.
"Chinese food was closer, and it was raining," Dean explains with a shrug.
"You have an angel," Sam feels compelled to point out.
Dean frowns at Sam, like he thinks maybe he has his own special dictionary where 'angel' is interchangeable with 'umbrella.'
"Yeah, that made no sense to me," Dean says finally.
"So you didn't have to get wet, or walk, if you didn't want to."
Dean eyeballs him, like Sam just suggested something dirty.
"Are you suggesting I abuse my angelic privileges for take-out?"
Sam pulls a face, because he wasn't saying that at all- except for where he almost certainly was. Dean makes a rude noise and drops onto the couch.
"The angel's on the internet again isn't he," Dean says without looking round.
Sam nods and fishes dinner out of the bag.
"Cas, get over here."
"I don't eat," Castiel reminds Dean, again.
"Don't care, now come watch us eat Chinese food like a member of the family."
Castiel obediently slides the chair back and drifts over to the couch.
"I'm going to password protect that damn thing," Sam grumbles.
Castiel stares at him.
He kind of looks like a cat that can't decide whether to scratch someone when he does that head tilt thing.
"You know that he can read your mind right?" Dean says, flicking open a box with two fingers.
"Make him stop looking at me like that," Sam says carefully.
"Dude, you stay in the room with us you get the scary tilt-y face."
"He never does the scary tilt-y face at you." Sam's compelled to point out.
"He likes me," Dean reminds his brother.
Castiel doesn't even try and protest otherwise.