"It looks bad," said the Archangel Gabriel grimly. "Worlds will fall. Empires will crumble. Powers great beyond counting will spin into nothingness and those two will still keep making clueless googly eyes at each other Samuel Winchester are you even listening to me?"
It took a lot to surprise Sam these days. Archangels returning from the dead? Practically routine by now. Gabriel had turned up three weeks ago, and Sam had tuned him out after two days.
"Empires," he said, without looking up from his book. "Check."
Gabriel glared indignant heavenly wrath at him, and emptied the sugar bowl into Sam's coffee.
"You know I saw that," said Sam absently.
"Clearly not. You have no eyes to see, blind foolish mortal. Otherwise you'd be moaning with me at the calamity of ages over there in the kitchen."
"I'm sure there's a joke about beams and motes there."
"Sam." Gabriel snapped his fingers. The text of Sam's novel turned into a miniature television screen.
Dean and Castiel were huddled together, ridiculously close in the industrial-sized kitchen, and there was a mixing bowl of cake batter or something on the counter in front of them. Dean was folding Castiel's sleeves back up over his wrists, rolling them over and over a careful inch at a time, fingers brushing skin and cloth with equal fondness, shaking his head and apparently insulting Castiel for his uselessness at sleeve maintenance. Castiel was watching Dean's mouth, not the lesson, and his eyes were soft and warm.
"I can't believe they're still not fucking," Gabriel grumbled, and stole Sam's besugared coffee. "It's been years."
Sam smirked faintly. Gabriel pointed a finger at his face. "Don't. Don't give me that look. Your levels of cuteness are just rude. You are a rude, rude man."
"I'm not the one sabotaging other people's books and coffee," Sam pointed out. "I want another cup, by the way."
"Fine." Gabriel stood up. "Have your book. I shall in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labours, which is to bring your brother and mine into admitting their mountain of big gay love the one for the other."
"Sure," said Sam. "Have fun."
The Herald of God stomped off. Half a minute later a new cup of coffee appeared by Sam's elbow. An experimental sip proved that this one was laced with salt.
Sam continued unsurprised.
He was, however, mildly perplexed the next morning to come back from his run and find a strange woman in the kitchen.
"Uh," said Sam, reaching surreptitiously for his gun. He got no further than that before she turned around and—
"Oh," he said, looking an unexpectedly curvy Castiel up and down. "Gabriel?"
Castiel glowered—but then, he always glowered in the mornings. "Gabriel," he confirmed.
Sam yawned, relaxing, and shoved his sweaty hair back off his forehead. "You're up early."
"Yes," said Castiel—voice still rich and low for a woman, though it was disconcertingly light compared to his usual tones. "It turns out that it is difficult to sleep through having your body reshaped. Make me coffee, Sam."
Sam hummed his agreement and took over the all-important duties of caffeine production, while Castiel hovered at his elbow impatiently.
"Dean's going to flip."
"And so he is," came a terrifyingly gleeful voice from the door, and Gabriel flounced in. "Good morning sister-brother of mine, good morning deliciousness on long legs."
Castiel crossed his arms over his chest. Then he looked down at his chest, uncrossed them, and worked out a better angle for crossing them. "Gabriel. Is this necessary."
"Behold my genius. Dean will be struck dumb with his own folly."
Castiel sighed, a long exasperated huff of breath with eyes turned up to the ceiling, then looked at Sam.
"He's playing matchmaker for you and Dean," translated Sam.
Castiel blinked at him. Sam shrugged.
"Really," said Castiel, with absolutely no inflection.
"Sorry," said Sam. "You know how he gets when he's bored."
"That's... very thoughtful?"
"So this is the grand plan." Sam handed Castiel his coffee, poured another cup for himself, and leaned back against the counter. "You turn Castiel into a girl and...?"
"Your red-blooded closeted brother works out that, if Castiel had had this fine rack all along, he would have hit on the angel from day two and been banging her after a week." Gabriel bowed with a flourish. "And that's before they got around to ticking off every single page in the 'mutual self-sacrifice' section of TV tropes. It's a narrative impossibility that this could fail."
Sam wondered if it was too early in the day for popcorn.
"You do realise that nobody invited you into this bunker, ever," Castiel grumbled into his coffee.
Gabriel slung his arm around Sam's shoulders. "He's a peach in the morning, isn't he?"
Sam shrugged. "This is pretty normal for him before midday, yeah."
"So!" Gabriel's grin grew wider and more devious. "Only one thing remains, sweet little sister, and that is: clothes."
Castiel looked down at the soft, comfortable sweat pants and old t-shirt he wore to sleep. The t-shirt was half hanging off one shoulder, exposing a fragile arc of collar bone.
"I like my clothes," he said, but he sounded resigned.
Gabriel snapped his fingers, and eyed the result.
Sam raised his eyebrows.
"This is very uncomfortable," said Castiel.
"Hey, Cas, where'd you—" The sound of Dean's shuffling morning footsteps abruptly stopped in the door. "Uh."
"That's what I said," commented Sam.
"Hello, Dean," said Castiel, long-suffering.
Gabriel grinned manically.
Dean was bright pink and frozen, wide eyes dragging like a particularly scandalised snail over Castiel's eyeliner (winged), his cheekbones (unchanged), his mouth (way too much pink lip gloss in Sam's opinion), his throat (leather choker), his bust (prominent), his corset (blue silk), jeans (skin-tight), and feet (sparkly high heels), before snapping back up to fasten on the bust again.
"... I think I'm going to be sick," Dean declared at last.
Castiel nodded glumly. Gabriel looked affronted. Then he laughed. "You'll warm up to it."
"If you don't change him back," said Dean to Gabriel, "I will find a way to make you die."
"How'd that work for you all the other times, sweetie?" Gabriel patted Dean's arm. "This is all for your sake, you know. You'll thank me when you figure it out. Toodles!" And he vanished.
Castiel, Sam, and Dean looked at each other.
"What's that meant to mean?" Dean yelled at the ceiling.
Sam wordlessly poured him coffee. Dean took it, and sulked.
"I'm going to go and get changed," sighed Castiel.
Dean stomped around the bunker in a huff all day. Every now and then he’d seem to forget, and do something normal (well, Dean-and-Cas normal). Like ruffle up Castiel’s hair when he walked past, or catch at Castiel’s sleeve to get his attention, or lean on the back of Castiel’s chair and grin annoyingly down at him and drum his fingers on Castiel’s shoulder. Only the hair was all long and silky. And when Castiel turned in questioningly at Dean’s touch and folded his body naturally in against Dean’s side, Dean coughed and flinched away at the feel of it. And if he looked down at Castiel from above he was effectively looking right down his shirt. So he’d go pink again, and gape, then fumble his way out of the situation and go back to sulking.
Castiel, though, after his initial grumpiness, treated his changed body more as a curiosity than as a cause for concern. He flexed the fingers of one hand against those of the other, investigated how far they could reach around different parts of the opposite arm, experimented the swing of his hips, and poked curiously at his breasts (until Dean yelled at him).
Then he challenged Sam to a wrestling match—not an unusual request—then rolled his eyes when Dean protested.
“It’s a long time since I’ve had a female vessel,” he said to Sam, “and I was more detached from my body then.”
Dean made a strangled noise.
“Less in tune with the sensations and demands of my flesh,” Castiel added flatly, without looking at him.
“I imagine the balance is very different,” Sam contributed helpfully.
Castiel nodded. “The distribution of muscle mass too. I am curious to learn how it behaves under the stress of physical exertion.”
“Sure,” said Sam amiably. “I’ll just finish up here and meet you in the gym, how’s that?”
Castiel vanished, looking faintly smug.
Dean fretted in the corner for almost two minutes before he snapped, “You’re kidding, right? You’re not really going to—?”
Sam shrugged. “Hey, if you want to go roll about with him on the gym mats all you gotta do is follow him.”
Dean took on a glazed expression. He opened and shut his mouth for a moment, eyes fixed on some distant point in his imagination. Then he muttered “Dick,” and beat an undignified retreat into the kitchen.
At dinner, Castiel kept getting ketchup on the front of his t-shirt, presumably because he wasn't used to the way it curved out now. Finally Dean snapped "Seriously, dude? Do we need to get you a bib or something?" and Castiel called him a dick, which made Dean blush (just like almost everything Castiel said in his new feminine voice), and grumble his way over to plonk himself down in the seat beside Castiel with a bunch of napkins.
"Here," he said, dipped one in his water glass and shoved it at Castiel.
Castiel just curved one eyebrow at him, which was somehow even more effective on a woman's face.
Dean sighed like he was terribly put-upon, and wiped the front of Castiel's shirt himself. While blushing.
Castiel smirked faintly, because he was a devious little shit.
"Dean," said Castiel, when the clock ticked over to eleven pm.
Dean sunk further down behind his battered old paperback.
Castiel's eyes narrowed, and command crept into his voice. "Dean."
Dean flinched. Then, "Dude, what. I wanna finish this chapter before bed."
Castiel strode across the library, stole the book, ignored Dean's offended yelp, and leaned in over the chair. His fists landed on either side of Dean's head, so that the whole weight and arch of his body was looming close over Dean, faces bare inches apart, Castiel's long hair swinging down to brush Dean's throat.
"You are hiding from me," he said, eyes like blue fire. "You are hiding from the fact that you want to explore every inch of this body with your hands and your mouth and your eyes, and you are determined to feel guilty about it because it takes you months or years to allow yourself to want anything you haven't had before without self-flagellation."
Dean had gone into deer-in-the-headlights mode, but he did manage to protest, "I've had girls before—"
"Yes you have," said Castiel, looking very pleased with himself, "and I'm looking forward to you putting your much-vaunted talents with female genitalia to use. So if you could please get over yourself, I'm taking you to bed."
Dean gulped, and shot his eyes over toward Sam, who waved in a 'don't mind me' sort of way.
"... Fine," Dean said at least, because Sam's brother wasn't always an idiot.
When they were gone, Sam counted as high as five before a triumphant archangel twirled into existence in the middle of the floor, and punched the air.
"Say it," crowed Gabriel. "Say it. I'm a genius."
Sam didn't look up. "Pretty impressive, yep. Dean can't normally keep his hands off Cas for more than ten minutes at a time. I think that two-hour streak after lunch was a new record."
Gabriel waved one hand dismissively. Then a glass of champagne appeared in it, and another one by Sam's elbow. "Cow-eyed fawning over each other doesn't count. Now, you and I, pretty thing, should get drunk and hook up. That's what humans do at weddings. I know because I always turn up just for that part."
Sam looked up and quirked an eyebrow. "I don't know, it's kind of lost its appeal. I mean, even when they got married all I did was get another motel room and some earplugs and have a couple of beers by myself before I passed out."
"I mean, being best man to those two at once is exhausting, you know? You should have seen how Dean's hands were shaking. He dropped the ring twice. And Cas spent half the morning in a frozen panic."
There was a silence.
"Dude," said Sam, "two years back, in Illinois. You didn't notice Cas is the one wearing Mom's ring now?"
"... But Sam, the UST."
"Nope, that's just what resolved sexual tension looks like for them. Believe me, I know, I lived through more than half a decade of the other kind."
Gabriel's eyes took on a dangerous light. "And you didn't tell me?"
Sam shrugged, put his book aside, and leaned back in his chair. And he grinned.
"Looked like you were having fun. Trickster."
"Oh, that is it." Gabriel advanced, all wrath and golden hair, and as he came his body shifted and changed until it was a woman who was pinning Sam into his chair, one inhumanly strong hand on his chest and a grin on her face that promised dire vengeance and orgasms. "Tonight you, Sam Winchester, are getting what you deserve."
Sam was completely unsurprised.