This night was like any other night (boring, holed up in a seedy motel off the highway, bad TV as a background noise, the cheap motel room smelling of greasy diner food). However, Sam had chosen a different room than Dean, because Dean was in a very bad mood and Sam just wasn't up for being in the same room as his older brother if he was only going to yell and brood like a moody teenager.
Cas was off somewhere, probably in the local woods chasing bunny rabbits. Castiel's attention span had become very small, but it seemed that spending nights with Sam, lying on top of him while he slept helped greatly. Sam had found it weird at first, finding an angel lying on his chest snoring like a chainsaw at six am to be a little disconcerting, but after a while, it had stopped bothering him.
Things were complicated between him and Cas, to put it in the least. He wasn't sure what it was that they were. They were something vast and intricate and simple and odd and messed up and all ranges of things. It was so impossible to explain, Sam thought despairingly, what it was Sam and Cas shared.
They were Cas sleeping on him, they were Sam touching the angel's hair. They were shared looks when Dean wasn't paying attention. They were whispers in dark motel rooms, they were Castiel's insanity and Sam's heartbreak, they were secrets and truths and a muddle of emotions.
They were something, but neither of them knew what that something was.
Dear God, what were they? Something wrong and quiet, something confusing and filled with blurred lines, to be sure. He couldn't even begin to fathom it. Sam eventually collapsed on his bed, feet hanging off the end and the old springs in the mattress pressing into his chest, but he was too tired to care, choosing instead to bury his head in the pillow. Within three minutes of his head hitting the tattered pillow, he was out cold, snoring loudly.
It felt like minutes but could have been hours later, when he felt arms pulling on his shoulders to try and turn him onto his back. Groaning, Sam rolled over only to feel someone straddle his hips. When he opened up his eyes, the Winchester felt a comfortable, safe weight move from his hips to settle on his chest and warm breath to fan over his neck in a steady, familiar rhythm.
"Yes, Sam?" The angel's reply was lazy, probably thinking of something completely else, like the angel was prone to doing.
"What colour are your wings?" there was a certain curiosity in the hunter's tone, one arm coming up to fall over the angel's back and tracing over where he imagined Castiel's wings would come from, right between his shoulder blades, perfectly level.
"...Do you want to see?"
Not what Sam was expecting.
"B-but I thought humans couldn't see your wings?" Sam was confused. Cas had always said that he couldn't, but if he could...
Cas gave him a sheepish smile. "Not quite."
That seemed to be the only thing the angel wanted to say on the subject, and he looked at Sam expectantly. Sam pulled himself up so that his back was pressed into the wooden headboard and Cas moved down to straddle his hips, comfortable weight sinking down. Sam was really trying not to find something sexual about the position they were in, and failing miserably.
"Not quite?" The youngest Winchester prompted, raising his eyebrows.
"Well... some humans can see them. Those that can see an angel in their true form, and sometimes, an angel's mate." Sam saw a ghost of the old Castiel. The angel's face screamed that he was unsure in this new situation. Tense shoulders, hard eyes and jaw clenched, Cas couldn't make it any clearer. It was a little freaky, if he was being honest.
Shock was only just setting in for the Winchester, his jaw going slack and his eyebrows raising in disbelief to make the silliest expression Castiel had ever seen. The angel worried he had broken the human until Sam started to speak again.
"Um... did you just- did you just say mate? As in soul-mate kind of mate? What-" Sam stammered on for a few more minutes, becoming increasingly more panicked and short of breath.
Eventually Castiel sighed, placing his hand over the human's mouth, shutting Sam off and making sure that he didn't hyperventilate.
"Yes, a mate as in soul-mate. No, it does not mean we have to 'mate'. Yes, it does mean we have a bond- not like the one I have with Dean. Sam- Sam, there's no reason to panic, it means nothing..."
"Nothing? What do you mean, it means nothing? Of course it means something, Cas! You just said I was your mate, for God's sake!" Sam had a sudden rush of drapetomania but he didn't move, intent on hearing the angel's answer.
"It means nothing because you do not feel the same way."
Cas had this way of looking completely unmoved and devastated at the same time, and then Sam's whole brain halted for a minute before he was pretty sure it started crying. He was confused beyond belief. None of this made sense. Castiel was babbling on about bonds and mates and Sam not feeling the same way, and Sam was just a human in the middle of a big gay crisis involving an angel. Nothing at all made any sense. All of whatever they were was just winging it with shared beds and quiet talks and unsure touches and something completely new to the both of them, and Sam couldn't make heads or tails of it.
It couldn't be love, Sam could never love again like he used to, after demon blood and lost souls, after being betrayed countless times and watching his brother go to hell, seeing so much bloodshed between the people thought of as family. It damaged him.
Of course he could never love so open-heartedly again, he could never be as happy as he was with Jess, sweet Jess, who had died because of his life and his lifestyle. He could never trust like he had trusted Ruby, he could never be like that with anyone, supernatural or human.
Cas was just broken, and Sam didn't even know how to deal with that. The angel was ruined from the way he had been, and Sam couldn't cope, didn't know how Cas did, let alone open himself up to love.
Maybe Sam and Cas were something a little more complicated than just love.
It was boggling Sam's mind, making it pound noisily. Maybe, just maybe, they were affection, strong affection and enough trust to see into each other and know the others every move. They weren't love, not by a long shot, but what they had was something closer to heart, something more realistic.
"I don't know how I feel, and honestly asking me how I feel at God knows what time in the morning is not the best idea. I'll just make an ass out of myself." he tried, being honest. There was a quiet sigh before a shadow fell over the room, startling Sam.
Only now did he realize how light it had gotten outside. The room seemed to darken as though someone had flipped a switch. Adrenaline surged through him as the hunter was on high alert on instinct. Curious, tired and tense didn't make for a good mix, he thought dryly.
It took a second and a quiet, shaky breath from Castiel before Sam's eyes zeroed in on the pitch black shape behind the angel perched on his hips. Spanning the length of the room, the dark shape seemed to be cramped by the confines of the walls and roof, enormous silhouettes still folded over themselves.
Sam's eyes slowly adjusted, letting him see a finer outline of the hulking thing behind Castiel, and he realized that the shape was wings.
Black as night, perfectly blended so that he could barely see the feathers, the wings looked like rivulets of darkness, seemingly just melting into the dark backdrop of the dirty walls and old carpet.
If the Winchester focused too much his eyes became itchy, sore and as if on cue, his eyes reflexively unfocused and shifted to look at Castiel who had an odd look on his face. Sam wasn't quite sure what it was, but he didn't think it was too positive.
"What?" Sam's voice was barely a whisper, his tone definitely saying he wasn't really paying attention to anything but the wings.
"An angel's wings are usually white." he waited for a second for that to sink in. "When an angel falls, their wings become black. It's like a stamp on their remaining Grace, telling all other angels, all other creatures, that they are no longer 'good', that they are unlawful, that Heaven cast them down. Lucifer was the first to have his wings turn black."
There was a small flinch when Cas said Lucifer's name, and yet again, Sam was reminded that he had Sam's whole experience in Hell spinning around in his head.
Sam wasn't quite sure what to say, so instead of trying to find words, he reached up a hand and gently stroked the angel's right wing, watching with rapt attention the way Castiel unconsciously let all the tension out of his face, and let his wings ruffle slightly. It was impossibly hard to see where one feather ended and another started, so Sam started blindly mapping his way across both wings with clumsy fingers. The more he touched, the more Castiel seemed to turn into a pile of sleepy goo, which made him smile a little.
Eventually, the angel demanded Sam lay back down properly. The Winchester reluctantly did so, not wanting to take his hands away from his wings. Cas fell onto the hunter's chest, giving a contented sigh as his wings folded smaller so that they fell over each side of the bed. Sam had to say that he looked more relaxed than he had in months.
After a few minutes, Sam finally fell back asleep, one hand buried in black feathers and the other in the angel's raven black hair.
Sam wasn't sure what they were, not by a long shot, but for now, this would be good enough.