“Where is Gabriel?” Dean shouts as he blocks a sword with a bar stool.
The undead Crusader knight grunts, raises his sword again, and Dean hits him in the chest with the stool. There’s a loud metallic sound, then the knight falls backwards, pulled by the weight of his heavy armor.
“He said he knew what caused this, then disappeared,” Sam shouts back from where he’s holding a door shut. “I guess we just have to hang in there until he’s back!”
Dean groans, grabbing the fallen knight’s sword and cutting his head off. He still doesn’t completely trust the archangel not to leave them all to die at the hands of a zombie museum exhibition.
“Sam, behind you!” Castiel shouts, and Dean turns around just in time to see the window next to his brother being smashed to pieces.
For a moment all Dean sees is blood spurting everywhere as a sharp cry of pain echoes through the empty bar they’ve taken refuge in. Then there’s a flash of light, and the remaining Crusader knights fall to the ground, dead once again.
There are dark spots before Dean’s eyes and he blinks to make them go away and makes his way to his brother. Sam is kneeling on the flour, his face and arms covered in blood as he’s holding on to Gabriel’s small frame.
“I’m fine, Sammy-boy, I swear,” the archangel says, pushing Sam off him and getting back on his feet.
His wounds close before their eyes.
“See?” he says, and Sam leans against the wall, looking relieved.
“What the hell just happened?” Dean asks, sword still clenched in his fist.
“Gabriel just saved your brother’s life,” Castiel says calmly, putting a hand on Dean’s shoulder.
Gabriel shrugs, like it’s nothing, but Dean narrows his eyes. Gabriel keeps giving Sam these quick looks that Dean just can’t decipher, and he would say something if Castiel wasn’t pointedly squeezing his shoulder.
“He’s covered in your blood, Gabriel,” Castiel says, and it sounds like an accusation to Dean.
“I noticed,” Gabriel says softly. “Too late to do anything about that.”
“About what?” Sam and Dean ask at the same time, Sam curious, Dean suspicious.
“Archangel blood can have, um, unexpected side-effects on humans,” Gabriel says sheepishly. “Nothing dangerous though, don’t worry!”
He puts a hand on Sam’s arm and the blood disappears. Gabriel’s hand lingers a bit as he and Sam exchange one of those complicated looks again, and Dean’s not sure what’s going on between these two exactly, but he finds it irritating.
Dean hates not knowing what’s going on inside Sam’s head.
While the angels clean up the mess and return the bodies to the museum they escaped from, the brothers get into the Impala and start driving back to their current motel.
“So?” Dean asks after a few minutes.
“So what?” Sam frowns.
“What’s up between you and Gabriel?” Dean asks, gritting his teeth.
“Nothing!” Sam exclaims defensively. “Nothing’s going on, we’re just friends!”
“Friends? Sam, the guy can’t be trusted, you know that!”
“Oh please Dean, stop being so obtuse. He’s changed and you know it. You’re just annoyed because you don’t have Castiel’s undivided attention anymore.”
Sam gives him one of his looks, one that reads don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, and Dean decides to focus back on the road. Because there are things he still hasn’t admitted to himself, so he sure as hell isn’t going to admit them to Sam first.
Sam sighs, like he thinks Dean’s being an idiot or something, and shifts in his seat. They’re both silent for a few minutes, Dean keeping his attention on the traffic and Sam just watching outside, occasionally moving his shoulders as if his back was bothering him.
He’d probably been thrown against something during the fight, Dean thinks. If Sam’s really hurt, he’ll tell him.
“You don’t have anything to worry about, you know,” Sam says after a while, still looking out the window.
Dean just grunts in answer.
“Cas and you, you have this special bound,” Sam continues. “And Gabriel hanging around now won’t change that.”
“Can we not have this conversation?” Dean snaps as they pull into the parking lot.
“Fine, fine,” Sam says, and Dean doesn’t have to see him to know his brother’s rolling his eyes.
They get out of the car and walk to their motel room, where the two angels are already waiting for them. There’s Chinese food waiting for them on the table and Dean goes straight for it while Sam sits on his bed.
“Man, my shoulder blades are killing me,” Sam complains, stretching his back.
Gabriel’s eyes lock on Sam, and the archangel makes a soft, surprised sound. He walks over to Sam, sits on the bed next to him.
“Stop fighting it,” he says, and there’s a seriousness in Gabriel’s tone Dean hasn’t heard often. “Just let go, trust me.”
Dean’s about to ask what the hell Gabriel is talking about when Sam arches his back, lets out a high-pitched, inhuman cry.
Dean blinks and there they are, spurting from between Sam’s shoulder blades. Wings. The word doesn’t do them justice though. They are far from being white, fluffy, feathery bird-like appendages. Instead they’re made of light, for lack of a better word, liquid light that flows and twirls and constantly changes color.
The overall effect is that of gold, though that doesn’t make any sort of sense because, when he really looks, Dean can see about every color known to man in the flows of light, and then some he didn’t even know existed.
“Oh, Sam…” Gabriel breathes, almost reverently. “They look gorgeous.”
Sam’s wings flap, and they’re so big they should move all the air in the room but they don’t.
“They are not physical,” Castiel says softly from somewhere close on Dean’s left.
Dean realizes he’s been gawping and closes his mouth.
“They look nothing like yours,” he says, just as softly, and doesn’t miss Gabriel’s quick, surprised glance in their direction.
“Our wings, they’re a manifestation of our grace. Every angel’s grace is different, so every angel’s wings are different. Plus, you didn’t really see my wings, just the space they would have occupied had I manifested them on this plan.”
“So…” Sam says, eyes flickering between Castiel and Gabriel, “I have some of Gabriel’s grace in me now, is that it?”
“Of course not,” Gabriel chuckles. “That’s impossible. These are a metaphysical manifestation of your soul. And your soul, Samuel Winchester, is magnificent.”
There it is again, this awe in the archangel’s voice. Gabriel’s hand rises, almost on its own, like it wants to touch. Then, as Gabriel seems to notice what he’s doing, he drops his hand on Sam’s knee.
Sam’s blush doesn’t escape Dean, neither does it escape Gabriel, judging by his somewhat smug smile.
Besides, there’s something about the archangel that seems different since Sam’s wings came out. Dean can’t quite put is finger on what it is exactly, but he thinks he might finally be accepting that yeah, okay, maybe the former trickster really is on their side. Really cares about them. Really cares about Sam.
Dean’s new room is a bit smaller than what he’s used to but he’ll make do. It’ll be nice for a change to be able to sleep without Sam’s snoring.
And if he’s truly honest with himself, he has to admit that he was starting to get a bit uncomfortable seeing his brother’s wings, once the initial awe has passed. Like he was seeing some very intimate part of Sam. Well, it is Sam’s soul after all, glowing and twirling for just everyone to see.
Dean almost drops his beer when Castiel appears next to the bed on which he’s currently sitting.
“I apologize for barging in,” the angel says putting too much emphasis on the last words, as if unsure he’s got the phrasing right.
Dean shrugs. “What’s happening in there?” he asks, jerking his thumb towards the wall his room and Sam’s share.
“Gabriel is teaching Sam how to fold his wings,” Castiel says, sitting next to Dean on the bed. He looks like he’s hesitating before he continues. “I felt I should leave them to it.”
“Why, you got tired of being the third wheel?” Dean asks, trying for cool and detached.
“I believe that is what you call it, yes.”
There’s a tense silence, and Dean finishes his beer, looks for something to say.
“So,” he asks, setting the now-empty bottle on the nightstand, “how come you never really showed me your wings? Or would that have burned my eyeballs or something?”
The angel looks away, and if it hadn’t been Castiel Dean would have thought that it was actually a small blush on his cheeks.
“Contrary to popular human belief, we don’t actually walk around with our wings out there for every other angels to see. That would be…inappropriate.”
“You mean wings are actually angels’ naughty parts?”
“Yes and no,” Castiel says with a slight frown. “Our wings are our grace, our souls if you will. Showing your wings to someone, it’s a very intimate gesture, on a level that’s beyond your comprehension. When I see your brother’s, I can see everything about him.”
Dean tries to push to the back of his mind the stab of jealousy that’s suddenly coming over him at the thought that Castiel has seen more of Sam that he’ll ever be able to see of Dean. It’s not like the angel actually asked to see that side of Sam, nor did Sam want Castiel to see it.
“And Gabriel’s teaching him how to put them away? Hide them like you guys do?” he asks, just so the silence doesn’t become uncomfortable.
“Yes,” Castiel says flatly. He’s about to add something when they hear a muffled cry through the wall.
Dean’s on his feet in an instant, and before Castiel’s finished calling his name he’s through the door, running to his brother’s room and knocking the door open.
He doesn’t know what he was expecting exactly, but it certainly wasn’t finding Sam straddling Gabriel’s thighs, enthusiastically shoving his tongue in the archangel’s mouth while Gabriel plunges his hands in Sam’s wings. Gabriel’s wings are out too, huge and amazing and flapping around the two of them, a mess of dark blue and scarlet and purple that manages to look like smoke and lightening as well as actual, proper wings.
As the door bangs against the wall they both turn to glare at him.
“Go away,” Gabriel growls.
There’s a strong hand yanking Dean out of the room, and Dean lets Castiel drag him back to the other room and make him sit on the bed again. Dean doesn’t even ask where the glass of whiskey comes from, he just downs it in one go.
“Thanks,” he says, and he almost doesn’t recognize his own voice.
“I apologize.” Castiel sits down next to Dean, and he doesn’t look that great either. “I should have warned you that this was a highly probable development of the situation.
There’s a banging sound, followed by a throaty moan and Dean cringes. Castiel snaps, and all outside noises fade away, even the sound of traffic that had been drifting through the open window.
“Thanks,” is all Dean can say.
The silence does become a bit uncomfortable then, until Castiel provides a bottle of vodka and two shot glasses. Not that it would be enough to get Castiel drunk, but it’s less depressing not to be drinking alone.
“I know Gabriel’s you’re brother,” Dean says when the bottle’s almost empty, “but I’m telling you, if he breaks Sammy’s heart that archangel is so dead. Again.”
“I know he won’t,” Castiel says, calm and certain.
“Well, at least now that those two are getting it on, I’ll get you back to myself… Did I just say that out loud?” Dean glares at the bottle of vodka. “Damn, that’s stronger stuff than I thought.”
“You never lost me Dean.” Castiel puts a reassuring hand on Dean’s thigh. “I already told you, you and I have this profound bound, and no amount of brotherly love can ever come between us.”
Castiel’s eyes are boring into Dean, full of so many things that the angel is trying to say, and it’s taking Dean’s breath away. Dean bites his lip, hesitating.
“Stop thinking that you don’t deserve anything nice in you life,” Castiel breathes.
The angel’s blatantly invading Dean’s personal space now. His face is close, so close, that all Dean has to do is to lean forward just a little bit, tilt his head just so and…
Castiel’s lips are soft and surprisingly pliable under Dean’s. There are fingers brushing against his temples and the alcohol-induced fog in his head clears up. Dean knows Castiel’s giving him a chance to back off, to blame it on the vodka. Or maybe he’s just making sure that Dean won’t blame it on the vodka afterwards?
Anyways he doesn’t care, if anything he gets bolder, sliding his tongue between Castiel’s parting lips, exploring his mouth. They shift on the bed, Dean dragging Castiel down until the angel’s lying on top of him, and it all changes from tender and exploring to sensual and more daring.
Soon Dean is rubbing his hips against Castiel’s and breathing hard in the angel’s neck. Castiel is nibbling his ear, and Dean would have never pegged him as this confident, but he’s not going to complain.
“Castiel,” he pants, gripping the angel’s waist. “Castiel, can I see them?”
Castiel’s wings are the most glorious thing Dean’s ever seen.