When Dean was old enough to understand that when Dad said that Mom was dead it meant she was never coming back, he prayed to the angel Mom had always said was watching over him. He prayed for an angel to come be his and Sammy’s friend. He prayed for an angel to come protect them from the monsters Dad said were real and were responsible for Mom’s death.
There was a part of him when he prayed that thought it was stupid and that believing in angels was for little kids. Dad had said Dean was a big boy now and he had to take care of Sammy.
There was also a part of him that thought that if they existed, there was no way angels would let him down.
Dean didn’t feel big enough to take care of Sammy all by himself. Dean wished that if there was an angel watching over him, that the angel would watch over Sammy too, or if it was too much, would watch over Sammy instead of over Dean.
So when a boy knocked on the motel room’s window the next night, Dean knew it had to be an angel.
The boy’s name was Castiel, but Sam (and Dean too, but mostly Sam) had trouble pronouncing it, so they called him Cas.
Cas looked like he was Dean’s age, but when Dean asked, Cas couldn’t say how old he was. Cas also didn’t say that he was an angel but Dean was sure he was, even though he didn’t have wings or a halo or a harp.
He looked just like a normal boy except that he was invisible to anyone but Sam and Dean. Some people would have said that Cas was Dean’s imaginary friend, but Sam saw him too so he definitely wasn’t.
Also, Cas didn’t behave at all like he was imaginary. He was grumpy and he often complained about having to stay in a motel, and when things got a bit scary during a hunt, he put his hands on Dean and Sam’s shoulders and things always felt a bit better.
One winter night, while they stayed in the forest, in one of Dad’s hunter friend's cabin, while Dad and his friend were on a hunt, Dean, Cas and Sammy decided to go make snow angels.
They were not supposed to go out at night while they were alone, but Dean didn’t care. Cas was there to protect them, and making snow angels with an actual angel was gonna be awesome! Maybe there would be actual wings print in the snow around Cas!
“I don’t understand, Dean,” Cas said, in the grumpy voice he usually used when he was hungry. “Why do you want to lie down in the snow? It is going to be wet and cold, and you will both get sick. I don’t like it when you get sick.”
“Don’t be such a party pooper, Cas!” Dean said. Cas didn’t like it when Dean said he wasn’t fun, so Dean was counting on that to convince him.
“Plus snow angels are always so pretty in the snow!” Sam said.
“It’s dark outside,” Cas objected. “We won’t even be able to see them!”
Cas continued to complain, but still followed Dean and Sam outside, and lay down in the snow beside them as they did. He followed Dean’s exact instructions on how to move his legs and arms just right for the snow angels to work, but when it was time to get up, Cas made no sign that he would.
“What are you doing, Cas?” Sam asked, already impatient. “I want to see your snow angel! Dean’s is great and mine looks smaller, but it’s good too.”
Cas didn’t answer right away. He was staring very intently and the sky, like he was looking for something. Without really knowing why, Dean got back inside his snow angel to look with him, and Sam followed suit.
“What are you looking at, Cas?” he whispered, feeling like talking too loud would be a very bad thing.
“The stars,” Cas answered simply.
“They’re beautiful,” said Sam. “Is it where you come from?”
“Where I come from?” Cas sounded surprised by the question. He thought about it a bit, before going on, “I don’t know where I come from. I just woke up one day and you two were there, the only ones who could see me.”
There was something very sad in Cas’s voice that made Dean sad too. He suddenly really wanted to make Cas’s sadness go away.
“If you don’t know where you come from,” Dean said, “we can decide where it is, and it’ll be true because no one knows any better. Where do you want to come from, Cas?”
“I like Sam’s idea,” Cas said after a pause. “Maybe I do come from the stars.”
“You definitely do,” Dean said as authoritatively as he could. “And your family can watch you from over there.”
“No,” Cas said, loud enough that it startled Dean. “My family isn’t over there. My family is here. It’s the both of you.”
Dean felt so many emotions when he heard that, he didn’t know how to react. The only thing he could think of doing was to break his rules about snow angels and reach out to grab Cas’s hand in his. It wouldn’t look as good after that, but it didn’t really matter anymore.
When they got up and got back to the cabin, Dean and Cas were still holding hands.
They didn’t even think to look back on what Cas’s snow angel had looked like.
Dean didn’t even get to see the huge wings and halo shapes that had formed around where Cas had been lying in the snow.