Oh my god, Sam thought. Worst. Car ride. Ever.
He had been sure that, apart from the murderous rage the angel apparently wailed on Dean with, he’d seen the entirety of Castiel’s albeit limited emotional range. Badass, miserable, stoic, vaguely amused, and confused—that about covered it. But this? This was new.
Also very, very scary.
“Maybe I should switch seats with one of them,” he suggested tensely.
Dean looked about ready to agree.
“That will not be necessary,” Castiel growled.
They’d uncovered their MIA angel not long after the Brady incident, which Sam was definitely not talking about, ever. They’d headed off in the direction of Pestilence, but when they’d stopped for the night Kali had been waiting for them in their motel room with an unconscious angel sprawled out on the floor.
“I believe this belongs to you,” she’d said with a raised eyebrow. “You’ll see me again.”
And then she was gone.
Sam watched with a sort of reluctant amusement while Dean fussed over Castiel, laying him out on the bed and generally being as manfully apologetic as possible, never mind that clearly Castiel was too out of it to appreciate it. Though maybe that was the point.
In any case, eventually Castiel had come to, was insultingly surprised that Dean remained himself and not an angel condom, and then proceeded to go from pleased to pissed off in under five minutes as they summed up the past few weeks.
And then, just to make things all that much worse, Crowley had waltzed in. For a demon that was quite skilled at being suave, that had been particularly…ill-timed.
Sam wonders why the hell, even after all that, they decided that he and Dean should still be in the front seat with the angel and demon in the back.
Jesus, there wasn’t even an armrest between them.
Crowley’s eyes kept turning black every time Castiel shifted in his seat. Also, Sam was pretty sure he heard Castiel make a sound like a snarling lion when Crowley so much as took out his cell phone.
“I’m just making a business call,” Crowley said defensively.
“Oh?” Castiel said, his expression so far as Sam could see it in the side mirror one a mix of unconcern, cold fury, and a dash of smite that should have been impossible to pull off but instead made the angel look bigger and darker than he was, filling up the back seat. Crowley, whether he knew it or not, was shrinking slightly into the car door.
“Not to Satan, or anyone else,” he continued, a little faster. “I’m looking for a new tailor, all right?”
“I have no interest in your phone call,” Castiel noted, without blinking or moving.
“Right,” Crowley said. “Right.”
An hour later, Castiel hadn’t moved, except to answer one or two questions from Dean. Dean, as it happened, was sort of weirdly relieved and weirdly annoyed that he was no longer the focus of the Stare of Doom. But he noticed that Crowley had started twitching, so he said cautiously, “Castiel, I know it’s, like, going against your fundamental M.O., but could you at least be a little less actively hostile? It’s kinda making Sam and I...”
“Tense,” Sam finished.
Castiel looked at the two Winchesters in the front seat, and then said, “My apologies. I will try to act with more restraint.”
Dean exhaled, and then tried to change the subject. “So, what can you tell us about Pestilence? Any of that angelic knowledge cover something we missed?”
Castiel seemed to take an unnecessarily long breath, and then launched into his encyclopedic entry on the matter. Crowley unfolded himself very carefully from where he’d molded to the crenulations of the Impala’s armrest and door handle, and looked as grateful as a demon was capable. Which was not very, but Dean counted it as a point for him. Maybe Crowley would refrain from using ‘beating Dean into a pulp’ as a viable strategic component in their next plan. Maybe.
After Castiel had finished his treatise, looking considerably calmer, and Sam had taken dutiful notes, they discussed strategy briefly, but it mostly amounted to ‘isolate Croatoan virus and horseman, preferably not in the same place, approach with caution, knife-y knife knife.’
Both Winchesters felt pretty good about that last part. Sam especially. Knifing Brady had been pretty damn therapeutic.
The problem then became that Castiel had stopped talking to Dean, and was now made aware once again of Crowley’s presence in the car. He managed to deal with this insult to his heavenly nature for about fifteen minutes. Then:
"Stop. It. I haven't bloody done anything!” Crowley snapped.
“I don’t recall ever saying otherwise.”
“Then stop it!”
“I am not doing anything.”
“Yes, you—fucking ow! See?! Stop that!” Crowley looked with appealing eyes at Dean. “Tell your angel to keep his wings to himself!”
Dean raised an eyebrow into the rear view mirror. “His wings? Cas, what are you doing?”
“Nothing purposefully,” Castiel said evenly. “I am simply having difficulties keeping my wings within my vessel at all times nowadays. It’s a result of my exile from the Host, I’m afraid.”
“Bullshit. That is bullshit,” Crowley hissed. “You’re deliberately poking me, and it burns, you bastard.”
“I’m sorry if I’m causing you discomfort by existing,” Castiel said. “Unfortunately, there is little I can do about that.”
“Oh believe me, there’s a lot I can do about—“
“Okay, kids,” Dean barked. “Shut up and behave, or I will turn this car around. That includes you, Cas.”
“I am not a child, Dean,” Castiel said. “The size of my wingspan, if nothing else, should indicate otherwise.”
“I—wait,” Dean said, suddenly looking more interested than Sam cared to know about. “Just how big are your wings, then?”
Castiel quirked a very sly smile, and oh god that was another expression Sam had not seen before, and really wished he hadn't because it was directed at his brother, and God fucking dammit.
“That depends on what form I am taking, Dean. In my true manifestation, they can trail up to half a mile.”
Dean’s grin was slow with wonder. “Awesome.”
“Ahem,” Crowley butted in, “Still getting singed by said wingspan!”
Dean ignored him. Sam began to wonder whether he was actually watching the road at all. It was a really good thing they were on an empty highway. “What about in your non-blinding form?” Dean asked.
“I believe they are approximately fifty feet. So you understand how it is difficult to keep them on my side of your vehicle.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Dean said, nodding, and Sam rolled his eyes. “What do they look like?”
“They look like burning,” Crowley said petulantly.
Castiel pondered for a moment, and then said, “Not unlike those fictional weapons displayed in that science fiction movie you showed me.”
Dean nearly drove off the road. “You have wings made of lightsabers? Holy shit, dude, that’s awesome!”
“Not entirely of light sabers,” Castiel said demurely. “They are also akin to smoke. And purity. And cannon fire.”
Dean was actually fangirling. Sam did not need this right now.
“Oh god,” he said. “I do not need this right now.”
“I concur,” Crowley said, and then looked chastened when Sam glared at him.
“So wait, how do you—“
“Dean,” Sam interrupted warningly. Dean was clearly about disregard any and all passive aggressive anti-demon actions Castiel was going to make for the rest of the car ride, so long as the angel told him about his badass lightsaber-y sexy wingspan. And Sam was never going to forgive either of them for making that last sentence pass through his brain. Jesus H. Christ.
“Right. Um, Cas,” Dean said, as calmly as he could manage while still clearly vibrating in his seat in childish glee, “Please don’t abuse our resident demon. Until he stops being helpful, you can’t smite or otherwise bother him. Okay? Please?”
Castiel sighed. “For you, Dean.”
“Thank you!” Crowley threw up his hands.
Then thirty minutes later: “Fucking ow! Dammit!”
Dean said, “So can I see your laser wings sometime, Cas?”
Sam sighed. This was officially a disaster. The Apocalypse totally sucked.