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Dean doesn’t take the news well.

Sam’s learning to read his brother again—all the old cues gone but new ones freshly risen in their place. Dean’s eyes don’t give anything away anymore. His face is a beautiful, still cipher. But his wings droop when Bobby makes the announcement. The vivid blue color dulls.

“I know a doctor,” Bobby offers, faltering in the face of Dean’s apparent apathy.

Dean shrugs with a half-hearted flutter of wings and doesn’t say anything.

The doctor is fascinated. Sam almost slugs him several times, when the man has his hands on Dean’s wings or back and gets an avid, wondering look on his face. The charm the doctor’s wearing around his neck is protecting him from whatever fae aphrodisiac Dean gives off, but it apparently doesn’t protect against a more scientific enchantment with Dean’s body because the doctor’s eyes are ravenous.

And he doesn’t look sad at all when he says he can’t do anything for them: too many blood vessels, too much uncertainty as to how the new muscles in Dean’s back would react to that kind of trauma.

Dean doesn’t look surprised.

Sam drops his brother off at the motel and then heads out for dinner, making sure to pick up some more sugar at a local convenience store. Dean still can’t handle solid food, and his body clearly prefers sex as a nutrient, but they’ve discovered that sugar-water makes a decent substitute and Dean has been guzzling it by the gallon-full. It’s the only thing they go through faster than salt, these days.

It’s dark in the room when Sam returns. All the curtains are drawn as usual, but the lights are also out and no amount of flicking the switch turns them on. When Sam feels for the bulb on the lamp nearest the door and finds the jagged shards with his fingertips, he jerks his hand back and swears beneath his breath.

“Careful,” Dean says from the direction of the beds. “You’ll hurt yourself.”

“What happened?” Sam asks, although it’s already pretty clear to him.

“I broke them,” Dean answers matter-of-factly. “You bring more bulbs in here and I’ll do the same.”

Sam hesitates—he doesn’t know how to handle Dean these days—and then fumbles, “Are you—do you want to—”

“No. I don’t want to talk. I want you to leave me the fuck alone.” Dean’s voice cracks in the darkness, and Sam wonders wistfully if there’s an expression on his brother’s face now, now that he knows he can’t be seen.

And then Dean says it.

“Why the fuck didn’t you just leave me there? At least then I wouldn’t have known I was a freak.”

“You’re not a freak.”

“Oh yeah, cause there’re tons of dudes running around with motherfucking butterfly wings.”

There’s a slur to Dean’s voice beneath the bitterness and Sam’s brow furrows. Putting the bags down on the floor, he feels his way forward until his fingertips brush Dean’s bare skin. He expects Dean to pull away, but he doesn’t. He just stands there swaying slightly.

“Are you drunk?” Sam demands.

“No,” Dean answers with an unsteady laugh. “I’m fuckin’ plastered.”

Sam gets a better grip on his brother and eases him down onto one of the beds, careful of the fragile wings he knows are spread out behind him. “Thought you couldn’t drink anymore.”

“Can’t drink liquor. Never said I couldn’t get drunk.”

“Well then what—”

Sam can’t get the rest of the question out past Dean’s mouth, which is pressed suddenly against his, or around Dean’s tongue, which is sliding past his lips. But he tastes the answer in the kiss, tastes the lingering remnants of honey, and how fucked up is it that Dean gets buzzed from something that comes in bear-shaped plastic bottles?

Jerking his head to the side, he manages to get free long enough to say, “Even if you can’t—if they’re permanent. It doesn’t change who you are, Dean.”

Dean doesn’t respond to that—he doesn’t even bother laughing at the blatant lie. He just kisses Sam again, and pulls him into the bed, and they fuck like that, with the dark pressing around them and hiding the truth. Hiding the wings and the deeper, stranger changes Sam has noticed in his brother since their return from Faerie.

In the dark, he can almost believe it’s his brother in his arms, instead of some fae halfbreed nourished by sex and sugar water and far too lovely and precious to be real.

In the dark, he can almost let himself believe that Dean loves him back.