They found it in a book of prophecy, and they almost thought it was a joke.
"This is bullshit," Sam insisted, and Dean just laughed. The book was old; no, it was ancient. Dusty, ragged and huge, and as legit as any occult artifact they'd ever stumbled across.
"It's gotta be true, Sammy. Prophecy never lies." The sick part was Sam couldn't tell if Dean was serious. "We know you're the Antichrist. The book says right here that when the Antichrist's power is unleashed, the span of his wings shall fill the sky."
"I'm not growing wings, Dean." Sam was starting to sound plaintive and he knew it. "It's not like anything else in that book has actually happened."
Dean snickered as he flipped backwards through the book, but the laughter in his eyes died away as he skimmed the earlier pages.
"No," Sam insisted.
"Sorry, dude," said Dean. "This thing is eerily accurate."
"Great," muttered Sam, and wondered how long he had.
About a month, it turned out, and then they hit him with a bang. Middle of a bright blue day, asphalt beneath his feet, and they tore right through the skin of his back.
He had a moment to register what was happening, and then the pain hit him so hard he blacked out.
Dean was holding him when he came to; half-cradling him on the pavement, still in the middle of the parking lot.
His brother's touch was soft and worried, reassuring stroke of his thumb across the nape of Sam's neck. Tender in a way Sam wasn't sure he recognized.
"Hey," said Dean once he realized Sam was awake. "Can you stand?"
"Don't know," Sam said, but he thought maybe he could do it with Dean's help.
"We gotta go, man," Dean pressed, and Sam realized they had a small audience. "At least one of them called 911 when you went down."
And when Dean put it that way, Sam was sure he could stand. Dean reached out, one hand under Sam's arm and the other at his waist. Even with the added support Sam couldn't seem to catch his balance, and it took him the full distance across the parking lot to remember the prophecy.
"Dean, wait," he ordered, and leaned so that his brother had no choice but to help him turn around. "They all saw."
"Yeah. Good. Brilliant," Dean agreed. "That's why we need to get out of here and not waste time gawking at them."
"Yeah, but they saw," Sam said again, because apparently Dean wasn't following.
"Got that. The hell you wanna do about it, genius?"
And rather than try to explain, Sam just did. There were a dozen or so people standing there, all staring like he'd just grown wings or something, and he focused in on them. It felt like instinct, honing his way through their nonexistent defenses and wiping the necessary pieces clean.
The whole crowd blinked at them in unison, and hell if that wasn't the creepiest thing Sam had ever seen. But they blinked and turned away, wandering off in their own respective directions without a single thought to the spectacle they just witnessed.
Dean looked at him like he was being freakier than usual, but it didn't stop him from offering Sam the same guiding support all the way back to the motel.
Sam could stand for himself again by the time they reached their room, and he braced himself for the view he knew awaited him in the mirror. All he had caught in his peripheral vision was the blur of something, and he wanted to see what they looked like.
He flexed unfamiliar muscles, slowly getting a feel, and finally raised his eyes to his image.
"Huh," he said. They weren't quite what he expected.
"I know." Dean was just a step behind him, kicking the door shut. "I totally expected feathers."
"No kidding." Sam tilted his head. Stared up-down-and-sideways at the sleek, leathery wings. Like a bat. Dark. They were almost too dark to look at.
"These are way cooler than feathers," Dean pointed out, probably aiming for any silver lining he could find.
"Yeah," Sam agreed. Because at least Dean was right about 'cool.'
"Plus they'll be easier to clean." And Sam had to agree with that, too. The wings felt thick and smooth when he reached over his shoulder to touch the base of one, right where it met his back. His shirt hung shredded, and he finally thought to take off what was left of it.
"Hey, Sam," said Dean, a curious light in his eyes that made Sam nervous as hell. "Can I touch them?"
"No," said Sam, and locked himself in the bathroom.
The wings turned out to be more sensitive than he expected, and Sam quickly learned to fold and tuck them against his back, out of harm's way. People didn't look at him funny for having them, because all it took was a quiet nudge to make any onlookers quietly forget they were there.
It was more interesting in the car. The wings fell too long to keep tightly folded while sitting. He couldn't sit on them, so he had to hold them half unfolded, resting them at asymmetrical angles; one against the passenger door and the other along the seat.
It worked pretty well for the most part, except when Dean yelled at him to stop blocking the mirrors.
There wasn't a good way to modify Sam's clothing, not without the annoying chafe of Velcro, so eventually they just cut slits to the shoulder blades in every single shirt Sam owned. He went shirtless most of the time, and he made a habit of not noticing when he caught Dean staring.
"Hey, Dean," he said one day, deliberate middle of nowhere and nothing but empty September fields in every direction. "Pull over."
"Why?" Dean asked, but did it anyway.
Sam felt his brother's eyes tracking him as he maneuvered himself and his wings out of the car. Heard the car door slam just before his brother followed him down through the ditch and into the field.
Sam didn't want to put it into words. It was something about the horizon, something in the clouds. It was how the air felt on his skin today as it poured in through the window at 60 miles an hour, and all Sam knew was he had to be beneath open sky.
He had gotten used to handling the wings in the two weeks since they emerged. The muscles felt familiar now, and it was an easy flex to spread them to their full span and then tuck them back in against his body. He'd never really thought about using them.
But now something like instinct pulsed in his blood. A falter of anticipation as he spread his wings wide and let them move.
He barely noticed he was in the air at first, because all he registered was the pitch-perfect rush of wind across his skin. His hair blew crazy in his eyes, and when he blinked, the ground was an eternity away. He could still see Dean, awe on his brother's face as he held up a hand to block the sun. Sam laughed and flew higher.
He thought maybe he could reach the clouds if he tried, wanted to know what they tasted like, but that was an adventure for another day. Dean waited below, probably scared shitless. So Sam let out a whoop, loud and triumphant, and began his descent.
It wasn't a graceful landing. Rough on his knees and ankles as he misgauged the last couple of feet and came down too hard. He laughed as he dusted off his hands and knees.
Dean was still staring, eyes impossibly wide, and Sam suddenly felt helpless to respond. He wasn't sure whether to joke or apologize. He settled for standing his ground.
"Jesus, Sam," Dean breathed, echoes of wonder in his voice. "Do you have any idea what you looked like up there?"
No idea, really. But now, after the fact, it was almost like Sam could see it reflected on Dean's face. Wild. Magical. Beautiful.
"Come on," Sam finally said, just to break the silence. "We've got another hundred miles before we hit Anoka." He was starting to feel fidgety under Dean's reverent stare.
"Yeah," said Dean, finally snapping out of it. "Yeah, let's— We should go."
Neither of them spoke another word until sundown.
That night, Sam almost regretted his sojourn into the sky. Almost, but not quite, as an angry ache settled into the muscles of his back and shoulders, and even the wings themselves.
A hot shower did nothing to help, mostly because the stall was too tight to spread out. He finally flopped face first onto his bed, stiff and stilted, and groaned into his pillow.
"What did you expect?" asked Dean, but his tone was indulgent. "Just because they're made for flying doesn't mean they're used to it."
"God," Sam groaned. "Can't you just let me die in peace?"
"Nope," Dean chuckled and didn't sound nearly sympathetic enough. "But I can help."
A dip in the mattress heralded his brother's arrival, and Sam didn't protest as Dean positioned himself on the bed and started kneading the flesh at the base of Sam's neck. He worked out knots from there across both shoulders, but when he reached the base of one wing Sam remembered he wasn't letting his brother touch them.
"Easy," Dean soothed, voice gentling and calm enough to smooth out the instant tension. "Just breathe."
Easier said than done, because Sam's whole nervous system was suddenly on fire with how goddamn amazing Dean's hands felt as they rubbed the thick base of one wing, then the other. It was never like this when he bumped into things, wasn't even like this in the sky. Something about the natural warmth of skin, palms, fingers; it set Sam on fire, and if he could speak he would've told his brother to stop.
Dean finally moved on, digging his fingers into Sam's lower back, and it was all Sam could do to force air in and out of his lungs. His heartbeat slowed only gradually, and his whole body tingled with aftershocks.
"What else does that book say about the wings?" Sam managed to ask.
"What book?" asked Dean, and Sam threw a pillow at him.
Turned out the book didn't have much to offer on the wings beyond the fact of their existence. Sam barely resisted the urge to chuck the damn thing across the room.
"Nothing?" Dean asked, and he actually sounded sympathetic.
"Nothing," Sam confirmed, and dropped his head onto the table with a thud. "Even the prophecies that haven't happened yet are no help, because they're so damn cryptic."
"Well, yeah. They're prophecy. You expect them to make sense?"
"Sometimes prophecy is remarkably literal." Sam pointed at his wings for emphasis.
"Right," said Dean. His eyes followed Sam's gesture, and if they darkened with focus Sam pretended not to notice.
Sam knew himself well enough to know he was the jealous type. Even with Jessica, safe in her warm adoration, he never quite felt secure. He had trusted her completely, as far as he could trust anyone that wasn't family, and he still felt invisible hackles rise along his spine every time another guy got close.
It was worse now, somehow. Maybe extra baggage that came with the wings, or maybe something else entirely, but it was definitely worse. Jealousy would hit him like rage, and it was all he could do to squash back a possessive growl. Worse still because it wasn't his girl making him crazy.
It was Dean. And Sam was pretty damn sure he couldn't keep fooling his brother. Brushing off the tension with a sheepish smile, always just pretending away the urge to rip something apart for daring to touch what was his.
They hit a rowdy bar in the middle of Santa Fe, and Dean disappeared out back with a pleasantly-shaped brunette. Sam didn't mean to follow.
With every step he told himself to turn around and get his ass back inside the bar. Mind his own goddamn business, because what Dean got up to wasn't Sam's jurisdiction. But his feet ignored every command, and instead walked him through the shadows all the way to a nearby park.
The night was heavy and moonless, lit only by streetlights somewhere behind him, but Sam had a perfect view into the shadows. He saw his brother's back, leaning against a tree, and he saw the girl drop to her knees at Dean's feet.
Sam's blood felt wrong in his veins, and his fists clenched at his sides. He fought to stay silent, because he had no right to interfere. No right to be here in the first place, even if his soul screamed at him to move, to let the bitch know his claim came first. He clenched his teeth and held his ground.
His silence should've been enough to hide him. But apparently it wasn't, because when her eyes flickered his direction in the darkness they didn't slide right past him like one more shadow. Instead, her gaze locked and held; her eyes went impossibly wide, and she screamed. In barely a blink she was on her feet and gone.
Sam could hear Dean swearing, caught a glimpse of movement, and he could tell the instant his brother switched from panic to anger.
Sam figured it out belatedly, only once Dean had started towards him, that his wings were spread to their full span, offering a black-on-black view of a monster in the shadows. No wonder the girl had run.
Dean was in his face four steps later, and god, bad timing, because Sam still couldn't breathe. Couldn't force his body calm or his wings down, couldn't think, and suddenly Dean was too close.
"The fuck is wrong with you, Sammy?" Dean demanded, voice rising to fury, and all it did was set Sam further on edge. "You don't go freaking out innocent bystanders!"
"When they're about to give you a blowjob, you mean?" Sam snarled. "Because she didn't look so innocent to me."
Dean's face reflected startled disbelief for just an instant, then the fury was back.
"That's what this is about? Christ, Sammy, get a hobby. One that isn't cockblocking me at every turn."
He turned and took all of a step away before Sam asked him, "Where are you going?" He expected the edgy buzz to die down any second now, to leave room for sheepish embarrassment at the unintended spectacle. He waited, but it never came.
"To make sure she doesn't call the cops," Dean muttered without so much as a glance over his shoulder.
"The cops? To tell them what? That she saw a giant bat in the park? They're not going to believe it for a second."
"Then maybe I can still get that blowjob," Dean yelled, and that was finally the last Sam could take.
He drew taut and snapped into a leap, tackling his brother into the dirt. A quick scuffle, but Dean didn't stand a chance of getting free from beneath the full, focused weight of Sam and his wings. By the time the dust settled, Sam sat astride his brother's hips, hands pinning Dean's wrists to the ground.
"Sammy?" Dean asked, but he didn't look scared. Confused, mostly. Even more so when Sam leaned in to kiss him.
It wasn't a gentle kiss; too deep, too possessive, too much all-or-nothing, and Sam needed it all.
Dean's lips parted willingly before his attack, swallowing the helpless growl straight from Sam's mouth, and Sam felt heat pour through his body, felt the skin of his palms light on goddamn fire with the warm pulse of his brother's skin. He thought about never stopping.
It was a startled grunt that finally drew him back, a gasp of pain that escaped into the open air when he gave Dean space to breathe.
A red glow in his peripheral vision drew his gaze down, and he realized the heat in his hands wasn't abstract. It was a red-hot glow, Dean's wrists trapped in his grasp, and Sam could see pain in his brother's face.
He removed his hands in a guilty instant, tried to read Dean's eyes in the dim light. His touch singed the grass, but the red glow finally faded. Left him feeling shaken and numb, and freaked to hell at the thought of hurting Dean.
"Hey," said Dean, calling his attention back. "Hey, look at me."
Sam did, against every instinct telling him to get up and book it into the trees. Dean watched him with careful eyes, with weighty consideration, and Sam finally breathed again when his brother's hands slid through his hair. A soothing touch, so damn cautious, like he was afraid Sam might spook. Like Sam was the one who had a reason to be freaked.
"Dean," he whispered, and it meant everything.
"I didn't know," said Dean. "I swear to god, Sam, I didn't know. I thought it was just me."
Sam shook his head, felt the tremors shake his body straight down to his toes, and he didn't have words. Nothing could cover what suddenly needed saying, every answer he owed. He wanted to bury himself in his brother and never move again. Why face the world when maybe he could have this?
He wasn't sure what truce they had reached.
But Dean was staring at him again; through the dark, that same reverent glow in his eyes that Sam had caught after his first flight.
Sam didn't know how to respond to that either, so he kissed his brother on the forehead and stood.
The moonless night was all he needed as they made their way unsteadily home.
Sam insisted on examining Dean's wrists when they got back to the room, and was relieved as hell to find that the burns weren't bad. Nothing to be done for them but run them under cold water—probably too late to do much good—and then bind them in gauze. Even so, Sam felt guilt stab him hard and low. The skin looked blistered and raw. Wrong.
But it healed quickly in the days that followed; faster than nature allowed, and Sam wasn't sure if that was his doing or not. By day three when they took the bandages off to check the injuries, the skin was whole and healed. Nothing but the oddly textured crisscross of pale, scarred skin that should have come weeks later.
Dean rubbed at the scars—curious—as Sam fought the urge to touch. He'd been so careful in the last three days. So mindful of lines and boundaries, and it all threatened to come undone at the sight of Dean running his fingers over the visual proof of the claim Sam had staked.
"Huh," said Dean. "Weird." Sam was pretty sure that was the understatement of the century.
That stab of guilt again, and all Sam could manage was a quiet, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Dean reassured him, and for all Sam could tell, that was the end of the conversation.
Dean was the one behind the wheel when they pulled to a stop in the Black Hills. Side of the road, nowhere near any of the big tourist traps. Just the two of them, miles of ruddy topography, and the cloudy gray expanse of sky above their heads.
"What are we doing out here?" Sam asked, and followed his brother around to the front of the car.
"Nothing," said Dean, and sat on the hood. Sam didn't believe him, not quite, but he sat beside his brother. Felt the gentle-heavy wind on his bare arms and chest, and thought it should make him cold.
They sat in silence, them and the wind, until Dean turned to him and said, "Fly for me, Sammy."
It took an embarrassing amount of time for the request to process, but Dean watched with quiet patience. Once he got there, Sam didn't need to be asked twice.
Just beyond the side of the road, the dirt and grass trailed off into a low cliff; farther to fall than would feel good, but Sam wasn't going to fall.
He took a running leap and hit the air like a splash of water. The fighting force of wind against his wings, and it was paradise. He wished he could share it with Dean.
Sam had practiced flying plenty of times since realizing he could. He'd snuck away for time in the sky. Never with Dean. Something about the awe, the way Dean looked at him that first time, made Sam think it wasn't fair. Made him feel like he had no right.
But his brother asked this time. This time Sam flew for Dean.
When he came back to the ground, his wings didn't protest the strain. They were finally accustomed to carrying his weight, and he set down easily, landed half-kneeling before his brother. He looked up and saw that same wide, wanting expression on his brother's face, and this time he reveled in it.
His legs held steady as he stood, as he crowded right into Dean's personal space. His brother had nowhere to go, pressed close against the hood of the car, but he didn't seem to mind.
"Mine?" Sam asked, heart a terrified flutter in his chest.
"Yeah," said Dean, and kissed him.
The nervous flutters shifted and transformed into something new, something desperate; a hungry, wanting burn. And even if Sam knew what he needed, he didn't know how to ask for it.
Dean tracked him somehow, knew the second it wasn't enough. Sam startled when Dean opened his fly and reached right past the waistband of his boxers.
Dean's hand offered the perfect pressure, squeeze and pull along sensitized flesh, and Sam couldn't keep kissing his brother. Couldn't focus on anything beyond the hot, sure slip of Dean's palm over his dick.
Sam fell apart when he came. He threw his head back, wings spread wide, and his howl echoed across the hills.
Dean's smile was tender, then covered quick as hell by a deliberate smirk. The glint of brotherly victory was just a little bit forced; for Sam's benefit more than Dean's.
Sam buried his face against Dean's throat and wrapped his brother up in his arms and wings. His whole body was heavy and sated, and he felt lightheaded and high.
"Wow," he mumbled. His brother's skin tasted salty beneath his lips.
They couldn't avoid Bobby forever, and Sam had to admit he was a little scared.
Not of Bobby, exactly. They had run into other hunters in the past couple months, and it was never a big deal. Sam was powerful enough, was well past able to handle them quietly. Just a hint and press of his mind, and they wandered away having forgotten any hint of Sam Winchester's wings and power and destiny.
But he didn't want to do that to Bobby. The man wasn't some stranger. He was family, and Sam didn't want to be guilty of that betrayal.
He should have known better. Should've given the man more credit.
Bobby greeted them at his front door with startled eyes. Stared at Sam's wings for the requisite spread of heartbeats.
"What damn fool mess did you boys get yourselves into now?" he asked, and invited them right in. Sam caught him looking at the subtly marred flesh of Dean's wrists, but neither of them said a word.
Bobby offered them both beer, and Sam was pretty sure his bottle had holy water in it. He felt his own hint of surprised relief when the drink went down smooth, and for just a second he caught the same look mirrored in Bobby's eyes.
"They work?" Bobby asked, gesturing at the new appendages. Sam laughed and felt suddenly sheepish.
"Boy do they," Dean answered for him, and then they were discussing bats and biology and leaving Sam to wonder when his brother had learned so much about this shit.
Probably while Sam was out learning to fly.
They stayed at Bobby's place for a week, and left promising to keep in touch.
A year later, with his regular regimen up in the air, Sam's wings were stronger. He could tell, somehow, that it was finally enough.
He chose an open field and a sunny day, and he flew into the sky with Dean in his arms. Shared the wind and the air—the freedom he'd discovered—with his brother.
"I never figured I'd be Lois Lane," said Dean. "You're way more of a chick than me."
Sam laughed and kissed him, because it was the only thing to do.