n. a complete electrical circuit around which current flows or a signal circulates
Dean hears a loud smashing sound, followed by the sound of wind rushing, and even though he'll deny it later, he also hears tiny ringing bells for a few seconds.
He tugs his pants up, wincing when he shoves his dick into his pants a little too fast in his hurry to get out into the room where Sam and Cas are. His relaxing shower can wait until later, and he doesn't need his shirt to fight whatever it is out there. Or his shoes. Or his socks.
He throws the door open, his gun in his hand. Sam is standing on the far side of the room, pieces of what Dean assumes made the horrendous noise all over the floor in front of him. Castiel is standing in the middle of the room, but his back is to Dean.
“What's going on, guys?” Dean asks, quickly taking in the surroundings just in case there's something else lurking he needs to shoot.
“I had to do it,” Sam says calmly, looking at Cas.
“No, you didn't,” Cas says, and the tone of Cas' voice has Dean moving before he Cas finishes his short sentence, setting his gun on the table as he goes.
Cas sounds really, really angry, but in that controlled way that means he's just barely hanging onto that anger. When Dean sees the look on Cas' face, he tries not to freak out. Yeah, Cas is pissed.
“It was dark magic. A lot of it,” Sam says.
“Ah, wait a minute. Huh?” Dean asks, face scrunching up in confusion as he turns from Sam to Cas.
Cas looks like he's about to smite someone, and Dean's never seen that look directed toward Sam before. He's a little nervous. He's also never heard that sound from Cas before. He'd chuckle and call him a cute little puppy if it weren't for the tense situation.
“You shouldn't have done this,” Cas says with a growling tone to his voice, the slivers of sunlight in his eyes flashing.
Dean feels goosebumps rise on his skin. He feels like apologizing and begging forgiveness, and he wasn't even the one that got them into this mess.
“I did what I had to do,” Sam says.
*Bark* comes from Cas and he takes a step closer to Sam.
Dean assumes the barking means Cas is really fucking pissed. “Whoa, hold on! Hold on,” Dean says, stepping between Sam and Cas, putting his hand on Cas' chest.
Cas' lip twitches. “You have no idea what you've done,” he says with an eerie calm, and it doesn't even seem as if he knows Dean is standing there.
“Cas, look at me,” Dean says, trying to direct the attention away from Sam.
His brother fucked up, but they can deal with this. He's pretty sure there's about to be some smiting, and while Cas' grace isn't strong enough yet, Dean knows Cas can tap into his power and use it. He doesn't think Cas would do that, especially to smite Sam, but Cas seems really pissed.
“Cas, c'mon. This isn't the end of the world,” Dean says, trying to keep his words soft, keep the situation under control. “We've seen worse. We've done worse.”
Seriously. Dean would be laughing hard enough to make his stomach hurt if he weren't worried Sam was about to die. Barking and growling is just too good to forget, though it can wait until later.
When he first learned what the noises meant, he didn't think he'd ever find them funny, but at the time, he wasn't presented with a barking Castiel. He amended his earlier internal declaration, deciding he could find some of the noises amusing, but he just wouldn't tell Cas about it. And he sure as hell wasn't going to laugh out loud.
“We could've used the power it contained, but you destroyed it,” Cas says, and Dean shivers.
Cas is about as close to using his true voice as he's ever been in the presence of a human beside Dean. Dean moves his right hand from Cas' chest to his left upper arm, holding tightly enough that hopefully it'll get Cas attention.
“It was too powerful,” Sam says, and Dean's impressed by how fearless Sam sounds.
“Cas, let it go,” Dean says. “We can't do anything about it now and we'll figure something out even though we don't have it.”
*Grr* and the noise is constant now.
“It was dark power,” Sam says. “How many times have you tried to convince me of the difference between dark and light power.”
“Shut up, Sam,” Dean says. Sam's not helping. Dean can feel Cas trembling, and he knows Cas is keeping himself in check.
Finally Cas looks at Dean. “I can't fight a bicorn,” Cas says.
Dean sees the fear in Cas' eyes, feels it through their connection. He'd thought Cas was simply mad at Sam for destroying a powerful relic. But it's more than that.
“I'm not..., *tick, tick, tick*” Cas starts, but then sighs, the trembling in his body finally going away. “My grace isn't strong enough to keep the two of you safe from this beast, let alone destroy it,” Cas says.
Dean's caught between wondering what yet another new noise from Cas means and wanting to comfort him. He also kind of feels like congratulating his brother on creating a situation where Dean has heard Cas made not one, but two noises he's never heard before. Sure, Dean hasn't had this ability long, but it's still an accomplishment on Sam's part.
He'd felt a strong sense of confusion, a feeling of being overwhelmed when Cas made the noise, so he adds it to his mental list of noises, this one with the idea of someone standing there spluttering, tongue-tied.
“We'll be okay, Cas,” Dean says, a reassuring smile on his face. “We'll figure things out. We always do.”
*Chirp* “I can't protect you,” Cas whispers.
He doesn't blame Cas for being scared. Dean doesn't even know everything a bicorn is capable of and he's nervous, but Dean's faced a lot over his lifetime. He won't be taken down by something as stupid-sounding as a bicorn.
Dean wonders if bicorns shoot dual rainbows out their ass. Then he shakes his head. He can't be thinking about rainbows shooting out of anything's ass when Cas is upset.
“We'll be okay,” Dean repeats, pushing some reassurance through the connection.
*Hiss* “Bicorns use dark magic, and their horns are used to make things like this relic,” Cas says as he points at the pieces on the floor.
Dean's relieved Cas seems to have calmed a bit. “Then we'll find another way to kill it,” Dean says. “What if the dark power inside the bicorn would've made the relic turn on us?”
*Bark* “It wouldn't have,” Cas nearly growls again. “Light and dark magics were used to create it, and there were runes carved into it that kept the power from being used against the one in control of those magics.”
“Okay, okay,” Dean says, sending more calm and reassurance through the connection. “But Sam's done research. We're not going into this blind. You know using dark magic can backfire. Sam knows that. If we have to find another way to kill this thing, maybe that's a good thing.”
Sam clears his throat. “One of the protection runes is demonic,” he says. “The research I did suggested it's closely linked to a form of possession.”
*Grrr* “I know what it means, and it's not possession in the form you think it is,” Cas says, sounding frustrated. “It means all-consuming or in entirety. It was part of the dark magic behind letting only the one in control of the relic use the power of it.”
“Oh,” Sam says softly.
“But it's still dark magic!” Dean says. “Should we have fed Sam some demon blood and handed him the relic?” he asks, knowing he's pushing it, but he's making a point, damn it.
Dean gives himself a figurative pat on the back for getting Cas to use the new-to-Dean noise of the bark in conjunction with the noise for negative. Sam may have gotten Cas to bark, but the negative combined with it gives it much more force.
He feels a spike of frustration coming from Cas, though, so he feels kind of bad about it. He doesn't want to hurt Cas or be the cause of his frustration, but what's done is done. Dean's been handed shit in his life plenty of times, but he's done what he could with that shit. This will be no different.
Dean decides to make a bold move. He figures Sam will forgive him later for the 'I need brain bleach' moment. He brings his hands up, putting them on either side of Cas' face and pulling him closer, then gives Cas a soft kiss, just a gentle brushing of their lips.
He feels Cas' body deflate under his hands and against his chest and stomach. “It'll be okay, Cas,” Dean whispers, looking Cas in the eye and feeling quite happy with his bold move when the slivers of sunlight in Cas' eyes go back to their normal sparkle and the tense anger coming from Cas calms.
The next morning they get an early start. The day before they'd driven sixteen hours, so after showers and some dinner, they'd all slept well.
“They feast at night, but hunt during the day,” Cas says. “We should find it easily.”
“And it'll be drawn to Dean,” Sam says in a fake fit of coughing.
“Huh?” Dean says, looking at Cas in the rear view mirror at the same time Cas makes a noise like an angry cat.
“Oh god,” Dean says as he laughs. Yeah, he really decided way too soon on Cas' noises not being funny in any way. Because this? Was funny.
“What?” Sam asks just as Cas starts in with, “I do not *squeal* continually criticize and give orders to Dean *ffft, eh.*”
Dean tries not to drive off the side of the road while he laughs. “What the hell are you two talking about?”
“What noise is he making?” Sam demands, scowling.
“Tell me what you meant first,” Dean says, wiping at his eyes. He's having a hard time not guffawing because Cas is still making intermittent *ffft* noises.
Sam lets out a growl of frustration. “Fine. The bicorn feeds on henpecked husbands who are loyal and enduring,” Sam says with a grin, quickly forgetting his frustration over not knowing what noises Cas is making in favor of teasing the shit out of Dean.
Dean chuckles again. “Okay, you showed me yours, I'll show you mine,” he says, letting out a sigh and a couple more little chuckles. “You know that sound cats make when they're mad and spitting at you and arching their backs?”
“You mean *ffft*?” Sam asks.
“Yahtzee,” Dean says, then looks at Cas again in the rear view mirror and starts laughing all over again at the petulant look on Cas' face.
Sam snorts. Then he chuckles. Then he laughs. As if he's realizing in stages just how funny and adorable it is. Dean enjoys it thoroughly.
Sam turns in his seat to look at Cas, then pokes Dean in his side. “Ooh, you're not getting laid tonight,” Sam sing-songs.
The smile drops from Dean's face. “Shit, I didn't mean to tease you, Cas. I thought it was cute,” he says, trying to catch Cas' eyes in the rear view mirror.
*Huff* “There's a rather uncomfortable-looking chair in the room. I'm assuming you'd rather sleep there than on the floor tonight,” Cas says, looking out the window.
Dean cringes. Perhaps Cas adopting more human behaviors wasn't all fun and games. “Fuck, Cas, really. I wasn't teasing or trying to humiliate you. I'm sorry,” Dean says, wondering if he should pull the car over to try and convince Cas of his sincerity.
Cas uses his vessel's throat to make a harrumph sound. “As far as apologies go, a very long, very messy blow job will suffice,” Cas says, then lets out a *bleat.*
“Dude!” Sam yells at the same time Dean starts laughing again. Sam never heard the *bleat,* but Sam is beginning to realize Cas has a sense of humor, and he also knows when he's been punked. “That was mean. Now I need brain bleach,” Sam whines.
*Cuh* “You deserved it,” Cas says, his lips twitching into a smile.
“A little brother never deserves to hear shit like that about his older brother,” Sam whines, louder than before.
“Suck it up, you big baby,” Dean says as he whacks Sam's arm with the back of his right hand. “You started it.”
Sam grumbles, but when Dean glances at him, there's a smile on his lips. Dean loves that Sam and Cas have a good relationship. There are things that test it, but for the most part they get along well, and Dean knows they care about each other.
“All right, time to get to work,” Dean announces as he parks the car.
They're in a designated hunting zone, signs posted with bright yellow backgrounds and black lettering. They get out of the car and grab their weapons out of the trunk.
“You sure it'll be around here?” Dean asks. “If they're after henpecked and faithful husbands, shouldn't we go to a mall and watch for men carrying purses a few steps behind their wives instead of hunting grounds?”
Sam snorts and Cas lets out a *cuh*
“As if you didn't know,” Sam says, “bicorns don't fit in with the mall crowd, so they have to improvise.”
“They look kinda like panthers, right?” Dean asks.
*Coo* “It'll be thin because it's hungry. It will have the appearance of a black panther, but will be different enough you'll recognize it as something out of place,” Cas says.
“So,” Dean drawls quietly, “it would look a lot like the thing lurking in the bushes thirty feet behind you.”
The three of them are experienced hunters, so all of them act as if they've never noticed the beast and remain calm.
“Two horns, one coming forward and one pointed toward its rear,” Dean mumbles.
“Yes,” Cas says with words rather than a noise.
Dean has gotten used to Cas using his noises on a hunt, so he knows it must be deliberate. “It can hear you?” he asks.
“Yes,” Cas replies. “It can't understand them, but it can hear the noises I make and would become alarmed.”
“Gotcha,” Dean says.
Cas takes a step toward Dean, putting his hands on Dean's wrists, wrapping his fingers around them. “I'm going to need to use your power, but at the first sign of the power, the beast will use its magic. I'm going to have to use a fast spike of the power you used to kill the witch and tentacle monster, so focus on that power as soon as you feel me call for it.”
“Should I do anything?” Sam asks.
Cas glances at Sam. “Your gun won't kill it, but it will slow it down because it feels pain. If this doesn't immediately work, start shooting it and don't stop until it's ashes on the ground.”
“Ok,” Sam says, and Dean can practically feel Sam brace himself.
“Ready?” Cas asks him.
“Yup,” Dean says.
He doesn't know what he thought would happen, but it wasn't this. The spike of power is immediate, hot and bright in a sense that has nothing to do with his eyesight. It feels like he's holding fire without the burn, and then he realizes it's the feeling of holding a ball of power.
Raw power flashes from his midsection, flaring out, bypassing Cas like a stream of air and heading straight for the bicorn. It happens fast. So fast that he thinks there's a good chance all Sam will see is a small flash.
By the time the bicorn realizes something's wrong and directs a flash of dark magic, Dean's power overtakes it, incinerating it and turning it to ash. A mass of purple and green haze is left behind that hangs in the air where the bicorn used to stand.
Dean is about to turn it to ash as well, like he did the witch's spell and power, but it looks different than her power did. The purple is mixed with the green in a way that catches Dean's attention. He's curious, so he touches it, his power reaching out like a finger to swish through the haze.
It tastes of power, but it also tastes of strength, knowledge, immortality, and something else he can't quite place. But he knows he wants it. He could use it. Sure, he's got his own power, and with the help of Cas, one day he'll be able to use it on his own, but this power is something he could have now, and he could use it to make sure his physical body and mind could handle all of the combined power.
It's right there for the taking. He sniffs it, and it smells like sawdust, gunpowder, fire. It doesn't smell wrong. It doesn't taste wrong. It's just available power, and Dean knows he can handle it. Cas will probably give him a hard time about it, but Dean can handle Cas too.
He spreads his power out, wrapping around the haze of purple and green. It's swirling as if it's excited to come to him, even though he knows power by itself isn't sentient. It sticks to his power, changes the color of it. He hadn't expected that to happen, but it doesn't feel wrong, so he pushes downward, squeezes, pulling it toward him.
A hot poker of fire spears through his midsection, up through his body and up the center of his brain. He thinks he's screaming, but he can't hear himself. All he sees is green and purple and red and yellow and death and destruction and pain.
Blackness smooths over everything like a thick oil, rolling over his senses, snuffing them out and weighing him down. It shouldn't be happening. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It hurts. It burns everywhere. It's too heavy.
He reaches out for Cas, for Sam. He can't see anything but blackness. All he can hear is a million voices screaming. He feels nothing but sorry for what he's done.
Dean knows he's fallen to the ground, that he's writhing about, screaming and grasping for help. The blackness is turning gray, and it thins out slowly until he can see Sam's face hovering over his, a worried look, eyes that show fear, no terror.
He sees Cas, his true form and nothing of his vessel. Cas' wings are spread out. The light and sound and power of them blanketing the three of them, but it's not blocking the light, or maybe they are the light.
Cas is in pain, and Dean wants to help, knows Sam is trying to help, but Dean can also see that Cas is taking care of it himself. Cas has suppressed Dean's power and is leaning on his soul harder than he ever has. It feels suffocating in a way that has nothing to do with his physical body.
He allows Cas to have whatever he needs, and Dean doesn't even try to stop Cas when he reaches out and takes hold of Sam's left shoulder, completing a circuit between the three of them since Dean's already holding Sam's right wrist and holding Cas' grace with his soul.
As soon as the circuit is closed, there's a white flash of light that stuns him and Sam. It feels like wind and rain are going every which way, ruffling Cas' feathers and Sam's hair, making it hard to breathe with its force.
But then Dean realizes the pain is gone, that the purple and green that had overtaken him are fizzing out of existence. They're going up in steam and disappearing on the wind.
All at once everything stops. Sam flops back on the ground and Cas slumps onto Dean. He can hear all three of them panting, so he assumes everyone's alive. That's a good thing. The amount of power he felt could've burned them and half the city and forest away.
“Ouch,” Sam whines.
Dean coughs. “Yeah, ouch,” he groans.
*Click-uhn, click-eh *
“Yeah, I think I'm okay, Cas,” Dean says. “Sam, you all right?”
“I think so,” Sam says, sounding exhausted.
Dean doesn't need to ask about Cas because he feels Cas through their connection, but he's been a human too long to change his ways now. He feels a need to ask. “You okay, Cas?” he asks.
He hears a whimper that comes from the vessel instead of Cas. “Yes *coo,*” Cas says, and it's melded into one sound.
“Can we take a nap here?” Sam asks.
Dean feels like shit. He knows this was all his fault. He thought he could handle it. He knew he could until he had it in his hands. He pushes apologies and regret through their connection.
“What the fuck is that?” Sam yelps, his limbs flopping about as if he was trying to get up but just couldn't do it.
“What the fuck is what?” Dean asks, trying to look at Sam, find out what his problem is.
“The, it's, f-fuck! I can feel how fucking sorry you are!” Sam says, his voice laced with urgency and a little fear.
Dean can't even work up the energy to share Sam's fear. “Fuck,” Dean groans.
“Oh, fuck!” Sam yelps even louder.
“What?” Dean asks, getting a little annoyed even though he really should be freaking out right along with Sam.
“I fucking heard him make those fucking noises!” Sam wails. “I mean I heard those funny clicking noises a minute ago, but I thought it was kind of like my ears ringing after a concussion or something, but I can fucking hear them!”
“What did that one mean?” Sam asks, sounding nearly hysterical, his legs flopping about.
“It means you're being a dork,” Dean grunts. “We completed a circuit where there was a shitload of raw power, dark power, and Cas had to use his grace and my powers along with both our souls to get us all out of the fucktastrophe I just got us into,” he says, not caring if he sounds pitiful and pathetic and really fucking sorry.
“But what does that have to do with me hearing your boyfriend make fucking animal noises?” Sam asks, and yeah, that's definitely hysteria setting in.
*Hiss* “They're much more complex than animal noises,” Cas grumbles.
Dean huffs out something that could've been a laugh if he'd had more energy to do so. “It means that you've got residual power running through you and that we're gonna be connected for a while until it wears off.”
“Fuck,” Sam breathes.
Dean snorts. “I thought you were all jealous of me. You said you wanted to hear the noises. Well, now you can hear the noises,” he says with a grin.
Teasing your little brother is so much more fun when you can feel how pissy you're making him. He can also feel amusement coming from Cas, so he figures Cas is getting a kick out of feeling the interchange as well.
Then the feeling changes. “I can hear the noises,” Sam says, as if he's just realized it was something he actually wanted. Wanted really badly, in fact. “I, I can feel you guys,” he says reverently.
“You big nerd,” Dean says with a smile, but he knows Sam feels the affection Dean has for him.
“Huh?” Sam asks.
“Yeah, that one's new to me too. What the hell, Cas?” Dean says.
“Fucking tired,” Cas mumbles into Dean's stomach, and Dean can feel the fatigue coming from Cas.
Sam chuckles and Dean smiles as he reaches down and runs his fingers through Cas' hair. Cas pushes contentment through the connection as a low *mmm* starts up.
Dean realizes Cas is teaching Sam what his noises mean the way he teaches Dean, and it makes his chest tighten with emotion. Anybody else might be jealous, but Dean falls even more in love with Cas because of it.
“There is no brain bleach for this shit,” Sam grumbles.
Cas huffs a laugh into Dean's stomach and Dean chuckles. The forest floor doesn't feel all that good on his body, so he wriggles beneath Cas.
“I wanna go to the motel,” Dean whines.
*Coo* comes from Cas, and at the same time Dean feels Cas pushing his wholehearted agreement through the circuit. He also feels a thrill of excitement coming from Sam over learning a new sound.
“Let's go before Sam has a nerdgasm,” Dean says, pushing gently at Cas' shoulder.
Cas moans into Dean's stomach, then pushes himself up. Sam sits up and Dean flops about, but that's about it.
“Will this teach you to refrain from eating dark magics?” Cas asks. *Mew* comes from Cas, followed by the feeling of having one-upped someone, the feeling when you've zinged somebody really good.
Sam guffaws, laughing so hard that he starts wheezing. “Wow. I don't know which is funnier,” Sam says, barely able to speak between the laughter, “the amazing verbal bitch-slap he just gave you or the fact that Cas was mewing like a kitten while he said it.”
Dean snorts. “If it helps you make a decision, Cas uses that noise a lot when he uses sarcasm on you and you're clueless about it. Now get me up.”
*Cuh* “That's very demanding for a man who can't get up off the ground,” Cas says, but gets himself to his feet and reaches down to take Dean's hand.
Sam stands up and grabs Dean's other hand, and they manage to get Dean on his feet. He feels a little shaky, but they don't let go as the three of them walk to the car.
“Hey,” Sam says as they get within a few feet of the Impala. “Is this like a close proximity thing? If I, say, get myself a motel room on the other side of the street, will we still be connected?”
Cas grunts as he opens his car door. “No. Dean and I are too strong. You'd most likely maintain the connection even on the other side of the planet.”
Sam grimaces, and Dean feels something coming from Sam that he can only describe as stomach pains, as if he's sick to his stomach. He also feels a strong sense of wrong or no or something Sam really doesn't want. From what Dean can tell, Cas is confused over Sam's feelings.
Dean didn't think he had the energy to laugh, but apparently he did. He rests his arms on the roof of the car so he doesn't fall. Sam scowls at him.
“What?” Sam snarls.
“Dude, are you seriously scared Cas and I are gonna fuck while we're all connected?”
Sam blushes. “Look, I know you two do things while I'm in the next bed asleep sometimes. And I try to be a good brother about it. We're in tight spaces, and even though you tease me about it, I'm not a complete prude. But I'd rather not know how it feels to fuck my brother.”
Dean laughs so hard he has to rest his forehead on his arms. He can hear Cas bleating, and this time there's even some chuckles coming from the vessel.
He feels a spike of anger coming from Sam along with embarrassment, and he feels a little bad about it, but he can't stop laughing. That is until he feels a wave of love and respect flowing out from Cas and enveloping the two of them. Dean knows it's directed as Sam, but Cas must want Dean to feel it too.
It's almost like a slideshow of images with emotions instead of pictures. If Dean were to describe it, he would use visuals because they're that strong and specific.
He feels the embrace of friendship, camaraderie, the respect one has for a brother in arms who has served alongside you for years, sacrificing just as much as you have. He feels something he knows he usually senses coming from Cas when Cas watches he and Sam getting along well or sharing a joke.
He feels the unwavering confidence Cas has in the both of them. He feels the love of someone who has been accepted as a brother, closer than blood, closer than what humans would feel for one another. He sees Sam the way Cas sees him, and it sends a thrill of emotion through Dean, one of his own making that brings tears to his eyes because it's what he'd hoped, what he'd have requested had anyone ever bothered to ask him what kind of relationship he'd like Sam and Cas to have.
*Hic, eh* comes from Cas, and just as he did some of the other noises, Cas teaches Sam what it means, what Sam's name encompasses, and what the form of love Cas feels for Sam fully means.
Dean wipes at his face as the connection dies back down to a normal level. Sam has tear tracks on his face, and he's standing there staring at Cas as if he's never seen him before, like he's seen an angel for the first time, even though Dean knows Sam hasn't seen his trueform.
“That's, uhm,” Sam says with barely any power behind his voice. “Uhm, my name, and...,” he trails off, at a loss for words.
Cas smiles at Sam, then ducks into the car and sits down, closing his door. Sam turns to Dean, his eyes wide.
Sam huffs out a laugh. “Now I feel like an asshole for ever even thinking you'd fuck while we're connected,” he says with a blush.
“Hey, it was a valid concern because you know me,” Dean says, shrugging.
Sam snorts. “Yeah, I guess,” he says, then smiles, his dimples showing. “That was intense.”
Dean chuckles. “Yeah, it takes some getting used to, but it's pretty amazing.”
“Yeah, I don't think it's something that gets old,” Sam says and Dean grunts his agreement. “Kinda like hearing Cas' wings sing. That can't ever get old,” he says as he ducks into the car.
Dean smiles, then freezes, his eyes widening. He's never told Sam he could hear Cas' wings sing.