For as long as he can remember, Dean Winchester has always been told not to trust an angel. They are feral creatures that don’t understand human interaction; they were put on this earth to be hunted, to be killed - murdered. Even today, he remembers being a child, sitting in the main room of their house with Sam while their father was away on a hunt. He remembers the wings mounted on the wall; large golden wings that had to have at least been twenty feet long, covering the entire span of the wall. His father told him that they belonged to the first angel that he had killed - Balthazar - and Dean had always wondered how something with a name, something with intelligence, something so beautiful, could so easily be killed and mounted like an animal.
The story goes that Heaven was once a beautiful place, full of life, light, and hope. The angels lived there, lived with God - their Father - and no angel was greater than the rest. All were treated equally, seen the same way in God’s eyes, but some angels begin to take human emotions. Jealousy and rage filled some, because they were treated as equals when they thought the other angels should be inferior. Lucifer was the angel that had acted out, had killed - slaughtered - to become greater than the rest. He was God’s most loyal son, the one who was meant to be greater than any other angel in existence, and when he murdered God, he became so.
But in doing so, the angels fell. Heaven disappeared, and with Heaven and God gone, the angels had nowhere to exist. They had no one to care for them, to love them, and so they fell through the clouds and to earth. It was terrifying for them, and they fell so fast that everything was a blur. Most of the angels had barely any control of their wings, couldn’t open them, and so when they hit the earth, they died. Mangled bodies and twisted wings seemed to sprout from the blood-stained earth beneath them. But the angels that were able to open their wings kept to the skies for as long as they could before they grew tired - which was something foreign to them. The angels became hungry, and thirsty, and tired, and so they took shelter on the ground and in caves, wherever it seemed safe, and mourned the loss of their fallen brothers and sisters.
Dean’s mother used to tell him this story as she would tuck him at night, and as a child, he believed her. After all, it was a story passed on through generations of Winchesters and Campbells alike, but as he grew older, wiser, the story began to seem exactly what it was: a story.
He’s never been a religious man, so he has no reason to believe to in God and Heaven, and angels. The angels are only feral creatures that hunt during the night and take to the skies during the day, and they kill men when they get the chance. They can’t really be celestial beings from Heaven that once served God. It was just a name given to them because they resemble, well, actual angels; they have the bodies of humans, but from their backs sprout large wings, ranging in color from angel to angel.
Well, that’s what Dean’s heard, because he’s never actually seen an angel for himself, and he‘s never really planned to. The angels live in the mountains and forests, far away from human civilization, though recently, he’s heard from a family down the street about a large shadow circling around their neighborhood at night. It has to be a rumor though, because the last time he heard something like that, the thing that was flying around houses at night turned out to be an owl. He should know; he was there to witness it being shot.
The body fell fast, and it hit the ground with a loud thud, right into his backyard. Blood immediately pooled around the body, soaking into the earth beneath it as its wings - broken - twitched involuntarily every few seconds. It was painful to watch, something so beautiful and majestic plummeting to the earth, wings flapping and stretching, trying to catch the wind, trying to fly, but dying in the end. Dean imagined that must have been what had happened to the angels that had fallen and had died once they hit the earth. The grief he felt could not have compared to what the brothers and the sisters of the fallen angels could have felt though, because he knows the grief of a lost one.
He buried the owl behind the shed in his backyard, and never listened to the rumors of his neighbors again.
It’s the middle of Summer in Lawrence, Kansas, the cool air of the summer breeze is warm against Dean’s skin, and the beer in his hand is sweating, the water seeping through the spaces between his fingers and dripping onto his shirt and jeans as he lifts the bottle to his lips. Sitting on his porch is not something that he chooses to do during the day, since it is during the middle of July, and summers in Kansas are hot. He presses his toes against the wood of the porch, the fabric of his sock just barely snagging a small splinter of wood as he pulls it away to let the porch swing move forward.
He stays like that for hours, the small cooler in front of the swing slowly depreciating of beer as the time passes, and he lifts his hand to wave at someone as they pass by on the street. They don’t wave back though, ignoring Dean as they carry on down the street. Dean grunts and pulls the beer bottle to his lips, finishing it off in two swallows and pushing the empty bottle back into the cooler. Another hour passes and the beer’s gone, but he continues to swing as he watches the sky, watches the stars fill the sky.
A star shoots across the sky, but he misses it.
The skies aren't as bright as they used to be, for the angels used to be the stars, and when the angels fell, the stars did as well.
It’s from a book, a book about angels by a man named Chuck Shurely, that Dean once picked up from the library many years ago. He read the whole thing in one night, read about how the angels must have lived in Heaven, read about the languages that they spoke, and how they used to shine so brightly that no human would have ever been able to see their true form. He read about how they used to be the stars, how angels and stars were connected, and how if an angel fell, a star fell right along with it; when an angel died, a star died.
The book currently resides on Dean’s coffee table, having never returned it to the library, even after the large fee that began to build up after years of still keeping it. Eventually the library got tired of sending him notices about his overdue book, and just left it alone, decided that maybe hey, if the man wants the book, let him keep it; the librarian had told him that even though it was an old book, it was never a big seller, because people didn’t care about angels like some other people did. People didn’t want to read the book and become sympathetic toward the creatures that they hunted, because there were people in the world who would much rather kill a beautiful creature and mount it on their wall than admire it from afar.
Though no one that’s ever gotten close enough to angel to admire it, actually admire it.
In the book it states that angels are celestial beings, infinite in age, and more powerful than any other creature on the face of the earth. Their wingspans range in size, the youngest angels have the smallest, the oldest having the largest, and the much more powerful angels - the archangels - have multiple sets of wings. Angels, when they find a suitable mate, mate for life, yet they do not procreate, because angels are created, not born.
Dean could recite these facts from memory if he had to, and he has on multiple occasions. Usually it’s when angels are brought up in discussions at work, or with someone that he’s run into in the neighborhood, though by now he’s recited lines from the book so many times that everyone he works with probably knows as much about angels as he does. As a child, he never thought that angels would become such an important aspect in his life because he went from knowing nothing about them, sitting in the living room of his old house with his little brother Sam, staring at the large pair of wings mounted on the wall, to this.
To knowing almost everything about angels, to caring about them even though he’s never even seen one, but, y’know, everyone has to see an angel at least once in their lifetime.
He’s heard stories from people around the city, talking about that angel they bagged last weekend with their boys, how the wingspan was at least as twenty feet in length, and how they had shot and killed it, got the wings mounted, and how the wings now reside in their office upstairs. Or how someone had seen an angel on a hike through the mountains, how it seemed to almost glow in the night, how its large, gray wings spanned out behind its back, and how frightened it looked when it noticed that it was being watched by a human before taking off into the sky with a heavy down stroke of its wings.
Having rarely ventured out of the city and into the mountains or forests, Dean’s never had the chance to see an angel, and he’s never even dreamed of ever being able to see one. It’s a kinda a once-in-a-lifetime sort of deal, for the most part, and because Dean’s more of a recluse than anything, his life is going to pass by before he gets that one chance.
He’s a mechanic, not a hunter or a sort of thrill-seeker on the lookout for angels. He has a job to maintain, a life to live, and even though seeing an angel is definite near the top of his to-do list, he knows it just isn’t going to happen. There’s not enough time in the day to go out searching for an angel to just ogle at; he’s more of the read-about-them-and-admire-them-from-afar type of guy other than the read-about-them-and-then-search-for-them-and-live-your-dream type of guy.
Though, circumstances do tend to change, and it’s not always the humans seeking out the angels.
It’s been raining for the past three days, nonstop. Dean’s barely managed to make it out of the house to collect his mail without being soaked to the bone, and it’s surprising that the mailman even delivers in this sort of weather. It’s almost not worth the bother; practically everything that’s shoved into his mailbox is junk mail and bills. He pulls a chair back from the kitchen table and flops into it, his clothes making a wet squelch as he does so, and he grimaces slightly, shrugging out of his shirt and letting it drop onto the floor in a wet heap.
He picks the mail up off of the table, flipping through it, mumbling to himself as he passes over each envelope - junk, junk, junk, bill - until he has them separated into two neat stacks. The name on the last one catches his eye though, and he sets it down on the table apart from the stacks of junk and bills. The sender is someone who Dean expected never to hear from again, and he laughs to himself, thinking that maybe it would have been a hell of a lot easier to pick up the phone than to send a letter. It would have been a lot easier to have a ten-minute discussion over the phone than wait a week to receive that letter.
But that’s just how his brother’s always been.
Dean doesn't read the letter though, he leaves it sitting on the kitchen table with the rest of his mail as he pushes away from the table and retrieves a beer from the fridge, making his way into the living room. The rain's still beating down on the roof and outside his window the sky's gotten darker. A flash of lightning streaks across the sky. Dean almost starts when a clash of thunder follows suit, and he twists the cap off of the beer and takes a long swig before setting it on the coffee table.
He's about to sit on his couch and turn the television on when he hears a loud crash outside, something that definitely isn't thunder unless thunder decided to makes its presence known right in his own backyard. But the storm's right above his house, and maybe it really was thunder. Then there's another loud crash, sounding much closer to his house, and okay, that's it. Dean makes his way through the living and back into the kitchen, pushing open the back door without even thinking what exactly could be outside.
Maybe it's a raccoon trying to find shelter from the rain, or maybe it's a drunk who just happened to stumble into his backyard in the middle of one of the worst storms he's ever seen in his life. It could be anything, and he doesn't even think about what it could be. Instead, he's more worried about it making too much noise, because all he wants to do is relax, watch some television, and enjoy a beer before opening that letter from his brother, his brother who actually did something with his life. Who went to Stanford to become a layer, leaving Dean behind in Lawrence to take over their father's business.
He closes the door behind, and there's another crash, a thump, and something that sounds unmistakably like the sound of flesh tearing. Dean cringes as he pushes his way outside, shivering slightly as the rain hits his skin, and he realizes that he hadn't even bothered putting a shirt on to investigate the strange noise from his backyard. Because this was his house, and his yard, and whatever was outside causing such a ruckus was going to have to deal with an angry, shirtless Dean Winchester.
There's another thump and the sound of something hitting metal, like the roof of his shed. He turns and glares through the dark and rain, and there, by his shed, is the outline of a man. Dean takes a small step forward, and the man slumps forward in the mud, hands reaching out, looking for something to grasp, something to steady himself, but ends up pushing his hands into the mud when he can't find anything. And then Dean sees it, a faint glow seeming to radiate from the skin of the man, and he gasps softly, taking another step forward.
A soft, ragged, moan comes from the man as Dean steps forward again, stopping abruptly when the man's head snaps up, fixing him with the bluest eyes that Dean has ever seen. They glow, actually glow, and Dean has half a mind to turn tail and run back into the house, because people's eyes don't glow, but something keeps him on the spot, makes him not want to run back into the house and call the police because there's some strange, glowing man in his backyard.
Something hits the ground beside the man, something large and loud, and Dean can hear the faint sound of something snapping as the man groans and digs his fingers into the mud. There's a scraping against the roof of his shed and Dean's eyes snap to it, but it's so dark and he can't see anything, not even when there's another thud against the ground. And then there's another flash of lightning, and Dean's knees go weak at the sight before him; the large, feathery appendages draping over the sides of the man.
And it's not a coincidence that he hadn't seen them before, because they're as black as the night, and they blend in perfectly. The wings - fuck, wings - twitch just barely before raising slightly, and the man's eyes dart away from Dean before he squeezes them shut, a deep breath stuttering out of his lungs as the wings fall against his sides and back onto the ground. Then the man collapses onto the ground, wings spread out at his sides.
Dean stands there in the rain, his mind going a million miles per hour as he tries to comprehend that there's a man with large, black wings in his yard - an angel, the creatures that he knows so much about, yet he's never seen, is right here in his backyard, right in front of him. His breath catches when he finally realizes what's happening, and without thinking he closes the space between him and the angel, kneeling down in front of it. There's plenty of stories circulating about how angels are fierce creatures and kill without a second thought, but this one's unconscious, and maybe -hopefully - it won't be waking up any time soon.
The wings twitch involuntarily as Dean just kneels there, staring and wondering how in the hell an angel came to be in his back yard during one of the worst storms he's ever seen, especially an angel in this condition. He tentatively reaches a hand out, fingers ghosting over the skin of the angel's cheek, smoothing across a large bruise, and even in this lighting the rest of the angel's body looks no better. He has to get it out of the rain and somewhere dry, somewhere safe. Dean throws a look to the shed that the angel had apparently crash landed into, and decides that that will do.
He stands and places his hands on his hips, staring down at the angel whose face is nearly plastered directly into a puddle of mud because, really, he has no idea how he's going to heft this creature into his shed. Its body seems pretty small, thin, but its wings - they're massive. And if the thing wakes up while Dean's hauling it into the safety of his shed, he's sure that a hit to the head with one of those black appendages will most definitely kill him. But, then again, what are the chances of having another angel falling into his backyard? He can't just leave out here in the rain.
"What the hell am I getting myself into?" Dean sighs before moving to the angel's side and bending at the knees to grab one of its arms to throw it over his shoulder, but then he freezes, his free hand awkwardly fumbling around, trying to find a place to hold onto that isn't feathers. His hand slides across the angel's bare back, brushing against feathers and down as he wraps his arm around the angel's waist and attempts to haul him onto his feet. Surprisingly, the guy's a hell of a lot lighter than he imagined he would be.
Angels are incredibly light; the bones in their wings hollow, much like a bird's, to give them the ability to fly without much effort.
The wings on the angel's back twitch again, and then, slowly, the one closest to Dean moves, the top of it draping over Dean's shoulders. Dean's breath catches in his throat, and he stops halfway in lifting the angel off of the ground, reveling in the light weight of the wing against his shoulders, the way the soft down of the feathers brush against the back of his neck. And he thinks to himself that this is what people are missing in their lives, this is what they're taking away from the world. How could anyone in their right mind kill a beautiful creature like this?
Dean manages to heft the angel into the shed, only stumbling over his own feet a couple of times, and he slowly, carefully, lowers the angel onto the floor. The wings immediately slump onto the ground at the angel's sides, and it makes a soft snuffling noise as Dean pushes against its chest lightly, propping it against the wall. Maybe it'll wake up and have no recollection of what had just happened, maybe it'll think that Dean is the enemy and will try to kill him; either way, Dean doesn't want to be here when it wakes up. He stands up straight and gives one last look at the angel, large, black wings draped at its sides, pale skin seeming to glow in the dark, before turning away and walking out of the shed, closing the door behind him.
And locking it, for good measure.
He returns the house even more drenched than before, covered in mud, and not surprisingly, blood as well. The trip through the house is a little more difficult than he would like; stumbling over his own feet, shoulder dragging along the wall as he makes his way into the living room. It's shock, it has to be. Shock over finding an almost dead angel in his backyard. The couch is a welcoming comfort as he lays down on it, wet jeans and all, and he falls asleep in a matter of seconds with the image of glowing, blue eyes seared into his brain.