Cas, Sam, and Dean staggered down the steps into the bunker, all three men covered in blood, guts, and multiple wounds. Dozens of scratches littered Dean’s arms and face from where the demon had thrown him through a window. When he landed eight feet below, his shoulder had shattered and put him out of the fight. A flannel shirt was tied around Sam’s upper thigh, keeping the knife wound from bleeding more than it already had. He was also cradling a broken wrist and sporting multiple cuts as he followed his brother to the map table. Castiel was the least injured of the three, but the demon had still managed to thrust a blade deep into the right side of his abdomen. Cas had his trench coat held tightly to the wound, but his bright blue grace was seeping out around the edges. There was also a trail of dried blood from his broken nose and split lips due to the multiple punches he had received from the demon.
Cas had attempted to heal the brothers, but they insisted he could take care of them when they returned home since it was a ten-minute drive back to the bunker. He tried to argue, but when Dean pinned him with a death glare, he had given up. Somehow, even with a broken shoulder, Dean had managed to make the short drive back to the bunker.
All three men fell heavily into chairs. “How the hell did a single demon get such a jump on us?” Dean shouted.
Sam grimaced in pain when his leg knocked against the table. He grit his teeth and muttered, “Terrible misinformation. None of us would have gone into that fight so unprepared if we had known we were up against a Prince of Hell.”
Cas groaned when more of his grace seeped from the wound. He pressed the coat even tighter to the injury, and black spots danced on the edge of his vision. “The next time I see Crowley, I am going to smite him,” Cas growled. “He should have told us exactly who we were dealing with. Abigor was one of the best warriors Hell had to offer, commanding over sixty legions of demons in the last angel-demon war. It’s a miracle the three of us were able to kill him.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not like any of us came out unscathed,” Dean snapped. He was sitting in his chair with his head thrown back and his shoulder clutched in his hand. He tilted his head forward and focused on Cas, nodding at the angel’s wound. “Cas, can you heal that?”
Castiel ground his teeth against the throbbing in his stomach. “Yes, but it will take a lot of energy. I would rather heal the two of you, and then you can just stitch my wound.”
“What, no! You need to heal yourself, Cas, and then heal Sam. I’ll take what’s left,” Dean argued, his jaw clenching against the pain from his shoulder.
“No, Dean, we’re doing this my way for once. You and Sam have much worse injuries than me.” Castiel stood, pushing the pain to the back of his mind, and stumbled over to Sam. He touched two fingers to the younger Winchester’s forehead. With a surge of grace, he knitted the gash on Sam’s thigh closed and mended the bones in his wrist. Cas wanted to ensure he had enough grace to heal Dean, so he left the minor cuts and bruises.
Sam’s large brown eyes looked up at him. “Thanks, Cas,” he said, sighing in relief.
“You’re welcome, Sam. I’m sorry I can heal all of your injuries, but my grace still isn’t to full power.”
Sam waved him off. “It’s fine. I can handle a couple of cuts and bruises. You’ve done more than enough. Go deal with Dean’s stubborn ass.”
Cas nodded his head once before moving over to the elder Winchester, who was looking at Cas with narrowed eyes and a scowl. The hunter wasn’t happy, and Cas knew it. He glanced back at Sam. “Could Dean and I have some privacy, please?”
Sam scurried out of his seat. “Yeah, I’m gonna take a shower and then go to bed. I’m beat. See you guys tomorrow.” Dean and Cas watched as he ran out of the room.
Cas focused on Dean once more. He took a deep breath and said, “I know you’re mad you didn’t get your way, but I’m not budging on this, Dean. I can handle far more serious wounds than this as an angel. As a human, you are much more fragile.”
Dean glared at the angel. “Call me fragile one more time, and I’m going to show you just how fragile I can be.”
Castiel rolled his eyes at Dean’s outburst. “Do you want me to heal you or not? If you don’t, I’m going to have to take you to a hospital. Both your clavicle and scapula are broken in multiple places. That’s not something beer and Advil will heal,” Cas deadpanned.
Dean grunted, which Castiel took as an “ok” to proceed. He touched two fingers to Dean’s forehead, the hunter closing his eyes as skin met skin. Dean’s bones mended with a hot surge of grace, and the cuts littering his body sewed closed. He sighed in audible relief. “Thanks, Cas,” he said grudgingly.
Castiel slumped in his chair at the depletion of his grace. He wouldn’t admit it, especially to Dean, but healing the brothers had taken more energy than he had initially anticipated. Without the strength of his grace, Cas could not push the pain of his wound to the back of his mind. There was a stabbing pain radiating from his stomach, and it was taking all of his efforts not to pass out. Cas glanced at Dean, hoping the hunter couldn’t tell just how bad he was hurting. He pulled his blood-stained trench coat away from his wound. Cas grimaced when he saw blood spill out of it in rivulets along with large tendrils of his grace.
Dean stood to his feet and started walking away. “I’m going to get the stuff to sew that up with. Don’t move or do anything else stupid,” Dean barked.
“If I decide to, I’ll let you know,” Cas called over his shoulder. He heard Dean mutter something unintelligible as he continued to walk away.
Dean returned a few minutes later with a first aid kit and two bottles of vodka. He set everything on the table and pulled up a chair next to Cas. Dean opened the kit and pulled out the supplies he would need, refusing to look at the angel.
He nodded to the alcohol. “Not that it will do much for you, but you might want to drink some of that before I get started. Alcohol is a great numbing agent.”
“Even vodka won’t do much to numb the pain but thank you,” Cas said gruffly. He grabbed a bottle and downed the entire thing in seconds.
“Want me to wait or just get on with it?” Dean asked.
“Just get on with it,” Cas bit out.
Dean pulled the trench coat away and started wiping at the wound with gauze coated in hydrogen peroxide. He heard Cas’ sharp intake of breath but continued cleaning the wound. “Fuck,” he cursed. “Cas, you got enough mojo to make this stop bleeding? I can’t sew it shut like this.”
Cas held his hand over the wound, and Dean watched as the skin glowed blue for a second. Cas’ hand dropped to his side, paler than ever. “That’s as much as I can do,” Castiel said through clenched teeth. He grabbed the other bottle and downed half of it.
“That quit the bleeding, so that’s enough. Give me five minutes, and I’ll have this sewed up tight.” Dean patted the area down one more time before threading the needle. He squished the wound closed with his fingers before sticking the needle through the edges of skin and pulling them shut. Cas flinched, and his hands gripped the arms of the chair in a deathlike grip. Dean thought he heard the wood splinter as the angel squeezed it. Dean stitched the wound closed as quickly as possible, not wanting to cause Cas more pain than necessary.
Dean leaned back in his chair with a sigh, his hands shaking slightly. He grabbed the vodka and took a sip to calm his nerves. “Those will hold until you can recharge your grace and heal the cut yourself. You want me to do anything about your nose?”
Cas touched his nose gingerly. “No, the pain has reduced to a dull throbbing, so it will be fine until my grace has replenished. Thank you for taking care of my injury, Dean.”
“Yeah, well, it’s my fault you got hurt in the first place. I shouldn’t have charged at him, and then he wouldn’t have thrown me through a damn window, causing you to get distracted.” Dean took another long swallow of alcohol.
Cas frowned. He touched the top of Dean’s hand lightly. “It wasn’t your fault, Dean. None of us was expecting to be dealing with such a powerful demon. The person to blame is Crowley, not yourself.”
Dean didn’t look convinced, but at least he didn’t continue to argue with Cas. “Whatever. I’m gonna take a shower and then try and get my four hours. You gonna be ok on your own?”
“I’ll be fine, Dean, just as I am every night while you and Sam sleep,” Cas replied, a small smile stretching his lips. “I might watch some more Netflix. I found this show called Lucifer, and I have to say, I could only wish my own brother had been like that version. We certainly wouldn’t have had to worry about an apocalypse all those years ago.”
Dean started to say something but stopped himself. He smiled weakly at the angel and stood to his feet. “Yeah, well, enjoy your show. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Goodnight, Dean.” Cas watched as Dean grabbed the bottle and walked off.
Once he was alone, Cas dropped his head in his hands. Tonight had been a close call. The fall Dean took could have caused far worse problems than a broken shoulder. Sam was fortunate that Abigor had missed his femoral artery, or he probably would have bled out before Cas could save him. Even Cas’ injuries were mild, considering what he had seen Abigor do in battle. The demon was malicious, making his enemies suffered as they died. All three of them were lucky to have come out alive.
He wished Sam and Dean would quit hunting or at least slow down. For the first time since Cas had met them, there was no life-threatening, world-ending monster breathing down their necks. Amara and Chuck were doing who knew what, Lucifer was safely back in the cage, and those British snobs had gone back to England weeks ago. There was peace with the world for once.
Cas wondered if that would be enough to make Dean seriously consider the retirement he had talked about. Dean had told both he and Sam that if things slowed down, maybe they could let some other hunters take up the slack. It would lift a huge weight off Castiel’s shoulders to not have to worry about his family getting injured every other day.
Castiel rose from the table slowly and headed to his room. He removed all but his boxers before lying on his bed. When he was comfortable, he closed his eyes to take stock of his body. The pain was slowly receding into something more manageable as he could feel his weakened grace getting stronger by the second. The wound in his stomach was deep, far deeper than the stitches Dean had put in. Once Cas’ grace recharged enough, he would heal the injury entirely along with his broken nose and the dozens of little cuts that were the byproducts of all battles.
Cas suddenly felt exhausted, all the way to his bones. As an angel, he couldn’t sleep, but he could enter a state of meditation that would allow his body to rest. It seemed Netflix and Chill were not on the agenda for the night. Cas let his eyes slip closed, slipping into his meditative state with ease.
Castiel jerked awake hours later with an awful itching sensation in his back. He reached behind himself and scratched where the itching was worse, but it wasn’t helping. He continued scratching as his body contorted in multiple ways in an attempt to relieve the ants crawling under his skin. Suddenly, the itching turned into an unbearable burning sensation. Cas closed his eyes and clenched his teeth to keep from shouting as his back was engulfed in flames. The next instant, he heard the unmistakable woosh of feathers flapping in the quiet room. Cas’ eyes snapped open in shock, and he looked behind him, taking in the sight of his massive wings.
The wings were smaller in the physical plane than when Cas was in his true form, but they were still massive. If he fully unfolded them, each one was around fifteen feet long. Cas shook his wings out and then stretched them as much as possible before folding them close to his back. When folded, they looked to be entirely black, but when Cas expanded his wings to their full length, it was easy to see that his primary feathers were beige with black tips while his secondary, marginal, and alula feathers were solid black.
Cas was immensely proud of his wings, but their manifestation meant only one thing: angel mating season. Mating season was a rare occurrence for angels, only happening once every few millennia. During that time, angel wings manifested on the physical plane to be shown off and used to attract a suitable mate. For the next month, Cas would be unable to return his wings to the astral plane, and his sex drive would ramp up if he were to be in the vicinity of a potential mate. Since he no longer called Heaven home and wasn’t around other angels, his sexual urges wouldn’t increase, thankfully. Having to deal with his wings was going to be enough hassle.
Cas wondered if Dean and Sam would be upset with him going shirtless for the next month. When in Heaven, the angels usually were nude during mating season, but he knew without a doubt that the brothers would be against him doing such a thing. Cas shuffled to the dresser and pulled out a pair of sweatpants that once belonged to Dean. He pulled them on and settled them low on his hips. He looked at himself in the full-length mirror that hung on his wall and frowned in disgust. As expected with the start of mating season, Cas’ wings weren’t looking their best. There were lots of ruffled and broken feathers, and he would have to groom them within the next few days.
Cas ignored his wings for the moment to focus on his injuries from the previous night. His grace had restored itself, and he was able to heal his broken nose and the stab wound on his stomach. He felt a tight pinch as the bones snapped back in place and the skin stitched shut. He scrunched his nose just to make sure everything was back to normal.
Unable to put it off any longer, Cas sighed before opening the door and heading to the kitchen. As expected, Dean and Sam were already at the table, eating breakfast and drinking coffee. Sam, who was facing the entryway, looked up when he heard Cas’ footsteps. His eyes went wide, and his mouth dropped open when he saw Cas.
Dean must have noticed Sam’s look because he spun around in his seat. Cas watched as the words died on the hunter’s plump lips. Dean’s eyes were big as saucers, and he was going to catch bugs if he continued to let his mouth hang open. His eyes were stuck on the large arches of Cas’ wings, and Cas could hear Dean’s heart start beating faster in his chest.
As Cas stared at Dean, he felt a sudden stirring, and he dropped his hand to his abdomen with a frown. Cas knew what the urges were; he had experienced them a few times, but he couldn’t understand why he felt them. Arousal was starting to curl in the pit of Cas’ stomach, and it was getting stronger the longer he stared at Dean.
“Cas… you’ve got wings.” Dean blinked rapidly. “I mean, you’re an angel, so of course you have wings, but I can see them.”
“Dean, I can see them too,” Sam interjected.
“Yeah, yeah bitch, good for you,” Dean said distractedly as he continued to stare at the angel.
Cas saw Dean’s gaze slowly travel across his shoulders and then down his chest and abs. Dean’s throat convulsed when his eyes rested on Cas’ crotch. Cas cocked his head and looked down, trying to figure out why Dean was showing such interest in that part of his anatomy.
He blushed when he realized why Dean was staring. Even through the sweats, his prominent erection was easily outlined by the material. He made a low noise in his throat, causing Dean’s eyes to jump to his. Forest green locked with ocean blue for a split second before Cas was spinning on his heels and rushing out the kitchen. He ignored the shouts behind him and headed straight for his room. He slammed the door shut behind him and fell to the floor.
Dean wasn’t an angel and therefore not a potential mate, so there was no reason Cas’ body should have reacted the way it did. It wasn’t only his cock that had shown interest but also his wings. They had arched up high and spread out in display to entice the hunter, all but asking Dean to mate with him. Cas groaned and dropped his head into his hands. The next month would be a lot harder than he thought if he were to react like this every time he was in close proximity to the older Winchester.
Cas was shaken from his thoughts by a loud pounding on his door. “Cas, open up,” Dean hollered from the other side. Castiel considered ignoring the knocks, hoping that maybe Dean would go away. “Cas, if you don’t open this damn door, I’m gonna bust it down!”
Cas cursed in Enochian before forcing himself to stand up and open the door. “What do you want, Dean?” he asked tiredly.
Dean scoffed. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe explain why your fucking wings are out for the world to see.”
Cas dropped his gaze to the floor and mumbled, “It’s because it’s mating season for angels.”
“What, I couldn’t understand you,” Dean snapped.
Cas glared at his friend. “It’s because it’s mating season for angels.”
Shock crossed Dean’s face as he processed Cas’ words. “Wait, mating season? What the hell is that?”
Cas’ lips formed a tight line. He glared at the hunter, growling, “Dean, you’re not stupid, so don’t ask stupid questions.”
Dean huffed. “Well, from the way you talk, angels don’t exactly get it on very much. I mean, dude, you about had an aneurysm when I suggested you not die a virgin years ago.”
“No, I was embarrassed that you took me to a den of iniquity, Dean. No person should have their first sexual experience in such a place,” Cas deadpanned.
“No, they should bang a reaper and then get killed by them,” Dean remarked, a smirk on his face.
Cas’ face crinkled in disgust. “April seemed like a nice enough person. Had I known she was a reaper, I assure you I would never have had sex with her,” he countered.
“Yeah, yeah. If angels have mating seasons and you’re billions of years old, then how come when we met you were a virgin? You said you’d never done any cloud seeding of your own.” Dean leaned against the door frame and crossed his arms.
Castiel could feel a headache coming on and rubbed at the bridge of his eyes. “Mating seasons only happen every three to five millennia. Therefore, I have experienced a handful of them, but I’ve never taken a mate. Angels mate for life, and I’ve never found a partner I was willing to do that with.”
“But you had sex with April. Does that mean she was your mate?” Dean asked.
Cas shook his head. “Dean, I was human and at a very low point. She offered me help when I desperately needed it. Sex with her was a moment of weakness that I’ve regretted often. When I was with her, there was no mating bond formed between us as I was human. If I were to mate with someone now, it would be the only person I would be with for the rest of my existence.”
“Ok, I guess that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why you ran away earlier. You didn’t give Sam or me a chance to say anything before you were running out of the kitchen. Care to explain why?” Dean asked, staring intently at the angel.
Cas could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks. “I, uh, was worried.”
Dean took a step towards the angel. “About what?”
One of Cas’ wings wrapped around his waist, and he slid a hand over the dull feathers. He chewed on his lip, trying to come up with a lie to tell Dean. He would rather be possessed by Lucifer again than tell Dean he had aroused Cas.
“Earth to Cas! You gonna answer me?”
Cas looked up at Dean, surprised that the hunter had moved even closer to him. “I was worried you wouldn’t like my wings. I know most humans expect angels to have bright white wings, and mine are far from that. I also wasn’t sure if you would be ok with me being shirtless. I can’t put my wings back onto the astral plane during mating season, so wearing shirts will be hard for me for the next month.”
“Dude, your wings are fucking phenomenal. They look like some badass eagle wings,” Dean exclaimed.
Cas lips turned up at the corners. “They are reminiscent of a Verreaux's eagle. You really don’t mind that they are black?” Cas asked, hopefully.
Dean reached out and clasped him on the shoulder, his fingertips grazing the top of Cas’ wing. When Dean’s hand came into contact with Cas’ feathers, electricity shot through his body. Cas was just able to contain the moan that threatened to escape. “Cas, buddy, they are awesome! Way better than some stupid white wings. As I said, you look like a badass!”
Cas could feel the arousal coming back full force as Dean continued to touch him, and he fought to keep his wings from wrapping around the hunter’s body. He forced himself to focus. “And what about me being shirtless? Will that cause any problems?” Cas didn’t know what he would do if Dean said yes.
“Um, n..n..no,” Dean stammered. He cleared his throat. “You should do whatever makes you comfortable.”
Relief washed through Cas. He pulled Dean into a tight hug and felt the arousal build into a crescendo. By sheer force of will, he kept his cock from hardening. “Oh, thank you, Dean. I was so worried you wouldn’t be comfortable with me being half-naked.”
Dean hesitated to return the hug, trying to figure out where to put his hands. He finally slid his arms around Cas’ waist and rested his chin on the angel’s shoulder. “No problem, buddy. If there’s anything I can do, I mean that Sam and I can do, just let us know.”
Castiel nodded. “Of course, but you’re already doing so much. Mating season is always a stressful time for me.” This mating season would be dreadful since Cas’ body had decided that Dean was its perfect mate. Cas was fighting every instinct in him not to bury his nose in Dean’s neck and rut his hips against the hunter’s.
Dean hugged him tighter at those words. “Why’s that?”
Cas, unable to handle Dean’s proximity any longer, backed up, which forced Dean’s arms to drop from his waist. His wing wrapped around him again without a thought. “I’ve always been different from the other angels even before I fell for humanity. The fact that I’ve never taken a mate is the biggest issue. Nearly every angel in Heaven has found their mate but me, and it has caused quite a few rude things to be said behind my back. As you know, angels have no problem speaking their minds.”
“Again, I say, angels are dicks.” Dean wrapped his fingers around Cas’ wrist so that he would quit fidgeting with the feathers of his wing. “I think it’s kind of awesome you haven’t taken a mate.”
Castiel gasped, snapping his head up. “You do? I figured you would think I was pathetic as well.”
Dean’s fingers tightened around his wrist momentarily. “I know I’m a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy, Cas, but that’s not you. I think it’s really, uh, romantic that you’ve waited so long to find your perfect mate.” Dean paused briefly before adding, “I hope you find them soon.”
Cas looked at Dean and felt his heart stutter before beating erratically. He had harbored a secret crush on the hunter for years but had never done anything about it. Dean had not shown any indication that he was remotely interested in Castiel. Cas would rather have Dean as a friend than not at all, so he kept his feelings secret.
Dean dropped his wrist and backed up slightly. “Uh, Cas, what are your wings doing? They did that in the kitchen earlier before you ran out.”
Castiel blushed as he realized his wings were once again on display, trying to attract Dean into the nest he hadn’t even built yet. Cas’ secret crush wouldn’t stay hidden for much longer if he couldn’t control his wings. “It’s nothing. Angel stuff, you wouldn’t understand.”
Cas saw hurt flash through Dean’s eyes, but the hunter quickly recovered. “Uh, ok.” He dropped his gaze to the ground, bending over and grabbing something that he saw. When he stood back up, he was holding one of Cas’ large primary feathers.
Castiel observed as Dean’s fingers gently caressed the single feather. He was treating it as if it was a precious gift rather than the dull, broken thing that it was. A small smile broke out on Dean’s face as he continued to touch the plumage.
Cas went to grab the feather, but Dean jerked back. He watched as Dean carefully slid the feather into the breast pocket of his flannel shirt. “Dean, it’s just an old feather. I’m afraid I will start dropping them all over the place as my new feathers come in. Angel wings always need to be groomed at the start of mating season.” Castiel sighed. “Sadly, without a partner, my wings have never been groomed to their finest. I have to make do on my own.”
“I could help you,” Dean offered immediately, looking at Cas with bright green eyes.
Cas was taken aback by the offer. He hadn’t imagined Dean would be willing to do such a thing. To groom Cas’ wings would take hours, possibly an entire day, with how neglected they were. “Dean, you have no idea what you’re offering. The time it would take to groom them thoroughly would be huge. I can’t ask that of you.”
“Dude, I don’t care how long it takes. I wouldn’t have offered if I did. I just want to be able to help; to make this mating season the best one ever for you,” Dean replied excitedly.
If Dean groomed his wings, Cas knew he would never be able to keep his feelings a secret. Wing grooming was the most intimate of acts between angels, even more so than sex. Wings were an angel’s most remarkable attribute, and letting someone handle them was a sign of great trust. Truthfully, there was no other person Cas trusted more than Dean, but wing grooming was also arousing. By the end of it, Castiel would be begging to be fucked or to let him fuck Dean. He couldn’t subject the unsuspecting hunter to such a thing.
Cas moved away from Dean, increasing the distance between them. He hated the pain that filled Dean’s eyes, but it was for his own good. “I’m sorry, Dean, but I can’t. It’s not just the time but also the intimacy required. Wings are an angel’s greatest treasure, and we only let our mates, the person we trust the most, touch them.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Cas wished he could take them back. Dean reeled back, and his gaze turned to steel. He hastily pulled the feather from his pocket and set it on the bed before walking to the door. Dean paused, and Cas thought he was going to say something. Cas hoped he would; instead, Dean opened the door and let it shut behind him as he walked away.
Cas groaned and fell stomach first onto the bed. He could have lied to Dean, or he could have just said wing grooming was too intimate. He didn’t have to say that he didn’t trust Dean with something as crucial as his wings. He was billions of years old and had been a commander and strategist, but apparently, he was an idiot when it comes to his best friend. This was turning out to be the longest mating season ever, and it had barely even begun.
Cas moped for the rest of the day, only leaving his room to grab some extra bedding to make his nest. Nest building was instinctual and something all angels did during mating season as a way to attract potential mates. He spent hours arranging the blankets, pillows, and sheets to his liking before curling up in the middle.
Still unable to face Dean, he spent some time running his fingers through his feathers and plucking any loose or damaged ones. It took him a few hours, and his wings looked marginally better now that they weren’t so scruffy looking. They still looked abysmal, but there was nothing else Cas could do. He tried to distract himself by spending the rest of the day reading.
He was surprised when there was a knock on his door late in the evening. He set his book down and said, “Come in.” He was saddened when Sam’s tall frame walked through the doorway rather than Dean’s. “Hello, Sam. Is there anything I can help you with?”
Cas didn’t move from his nest, forcing Sam to sit on the edge of the bed. Sam glanced at Cas’ wings, which were folded against his back and hanging over the side of the bed. “So, what did you say to Dean to piss him off? He’s been cleaning guns and drinking beer pretty much ever since he came back from talking to you. Anytime I’ve tried to talk to him, I got a glare or a grunt.”
Cas’ wings drooped against him. “I told him the truth in an idiotic fashion. Dean offered to groom my wings, but I told him that angels only let their mates, who they trust unconditionally, clean their wings.”
Sam sucked in a breath. “So, basically, in Dean’s mind, you said he couldn’t groom your wings because you don’t trust him.”
Castiel groaned. “That would be correct. I didn’t mean it that way, Sam. I trust Dean more than anybody, but wing grooming is very intimate. If Dean were to groom my wings, he would be staking his claim, and for all intent and purpose, we would be considered mates.”
Sam shifted, facing Cas directly. He frowned at the angel and asked, “Did you tell him that?”
“No,” Cas whined. “I didn’t get a chance because he walked out of my room.”
“You didn’t exactly go after him. You’ve been cooped up in here most of the day,” Sam pointed out.
Cas jumped to his feet, his wings fluttering in frustration. “Does it matter, Sam? Even if I tried to correct myself, in the end, there’s no chance Dean would offer a second time to groom my wings. He has no interest in me, Sam, besides being his friend.”
“You don’t know that, Cas. Has he ever told you he considers you just a friend?” Sam asked.
“Considering Dean has never asked me to his bed, I think it’s obvious he has no feelings for me!” Cas started pacing in front of the younger Winchester, his wings fluttering behind him.
“Cas, have you ever paid attention to the way Dean acts around you?”
Cas quit his pacing and looked at Sam with his head tilted. “What are you talking about?”
“For one, Dean lets you borrow his stuff, and he doesn’t get mad,” Sam explained. “The last time I borrowed one of Dean’s shirts, he nearly bit my head off.”
Cas scoffed. “Sharing clothes hardly means anything, Sam.”
“Well, how about the fact that he made you a mixtape, something he’s never done for anybody else,” Sam said. “Oh, need I remind you that Dean doesn’t seem to care about you being in his personal space anymore. Not to mention all the free time you guys spend together, watching Netflix or staying with Dean while he works on Baby.”
Cas shook his head and settled back in his nest. He started picking at his feathers in agitation. “Again I say, we are friends. Friends hang out with each other, Sam.”
Sam flashed Cas one of his signature bitch faces. “Ok, yeah, but would two people who are just friends argue about who’s going to get patched up first after hunts. Would friends stare at one another when the other isn’t looking? Don’t forget, Dean is always touching you on the shoulder or the arm or somewhere. Like, I know Dean is tactile, but he takes it to a whole different level with you. If that’s not interest, Cas, I don’t know what is,” Sam said with increasing exasperation.
Cas let his wing drop from his hand. “You’re wrong, Sam. If Dean were truly interested in me, he would flirt with me as he does with all of his hookups. He’s never once offered to buy me a drink or said some cheesy pick-up line to me. All of those things you listed are because we are friends.” Cas sighed; he and Dean were just friends, and that’s all they would ever be.
Sam threw his hands up in the air, furious at how stubborn Cas was being. “Cas, c’mon, man. Hell, when was the last time Dean even had a one-night stand? He hasn’t hooked up with some chick in years. Ever since-”
“Enough, Sam,” Cas interrupted. “I will apologize to Dean in the morning, and that will be the end of this. Once mating season is over, I will be able to hide my wings on the astral plane, and we can put all of this behind us,” Cas said with firm finality.
Sam glared at Castiel in annoyance but didn’t argue. “Alright, Cas. It’s your choice.”
“Thank you, Sam. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to be left alone.” Cas turned away from the hunter, effectively ending the conversation.
He heard Sam sigh before standing and leaving Cas to his solitude. Cas spent the next few hours lost in his thoughts. He finally left his room in the early hours of the morning, hoping that Dean and Sam would both be asleep.
Cas was shocked to see light coming from the kitchen. He stood in the entryway and stared at Dean, who was sitting at the table, nursing a glass of whiskey. Dean’s back was to the angel, and Cas argued with himself about whether he should stay or go. The choice was taken from his hands when Dean said, “Might as well join me.”
Castiel grabbed a glass from the cabinet before he trudged to the table and took a seat opposite his friend. Dean poured him a shot of whiskey without being asked. “Thanks,” Cas said simply.
“No problem,” Dean replied, just as clipped.
Cas took a sip of the liquid, looking at Dean over the rim of his glass. He swallowed the whiskey and relished the burn as it slid down his throat. “Dean, about earlier…”
“Forget it, Cas,” Dean cut him off. “It’s fine; I get it. If I had something as valuable as angel wings, I wouldn’t let some loser of a hunter touch them either.”
Cas felt his heart break at the bitterness in the hunter’s voice. “Dean, I never meant for it to come out the way I said it. I wasn’t thinking,” Cas tried to explain.
“Look, Cas, a simple ‘no, thank you’ would have been fine. I thought we were friends; I thought we could trust each other. I guess I was wrong.” Dean slammed down the last of his whiskey before getting up and walking away.
Cas hurried to his feet and grabbed Dean by the shoulder, spinning the man to face him. He searched Dean’s face and found hurt in the forest depths of Dean’s eyes. “Dean, I do trust you; more than anybody on this earth. I- I would love for you to groom my wings but, it’s just too intimate. It’s not something you’d let your best friend do.”
Dean shrugged Cas’ hand off. “I get it, Cas, ok? Don’t touch your wings; they’re off-limits and not for friends. I just thought that we… Never mind. I’m gonna go lay down.”
“You thought what, Dean?” Cas had hoped to ease the tension between them, but it was higher than ever.
“I said, never mind. It’s not important.” Dean took a step away from Cas and stopped. He bent down and picked something off the ground. He turned back around and held the few feathers out to Cas. “Here, I figured since they’d fallen, they were ok to touch. Or are they off-limits, too?”
“Dean,” Cas whimpered.
“Just make sure you pick up after yourself if you don’t want me touching them,” Dean said. He walked away, leaving Cas standing in the kitchen with nothing but a handful of feathers.
Cas looked behind him at his wings, which were drooping more than ever. He walked back to his room, his wings dragging behind him. “See, Sam, you were wrong,” he muttered as he fell into his nest, exhausted. He slipped into his meditative state, not wanting to deal with his problems any longer.
Cas forced himself out of his bedroom a few hours later, dressed in a clean pair of sweatpants. He headed for the map room, figuring that’s where Dean and Sam were. As he approached, he could make out what they were saying.
“Dean, he tried to apologize,” Sam said.
Dean scoffed at his brother’s words. “Yeah, Sam, he did, but it doesn’t make a difference. He doesn’t want me touching his wings, said it was too intimate.”
“And why does that bother you?” Sam asked, clearly flustered.
Cas came to a stop just on the other side of the entryway, not wanting the brothers to see him.
“It doesn’t, Sam,” Dean replied, a hard edge to his voice. “Cas and I are just friends! We’re not intimate, and we never will be. Cas has every right to choose who he wants to let him touch his wings.”
Cas heard one of the brothers set a bottle on the table. It seemed Dean had already broken into a six-pack this early in the morning.
“You like his wings a lot, don’t you?” Sam asked softly.
“Pfft, no. I don’t like them, Sam,” Dean said, his voice harsh and unyielding. “How could you like them? I’ll be glad when Cas’ wings disappear, and we never have to deal with them again. I’ll just be glad when everything goes back to normal.”
Cas’ heart shattered into a million different pieces at Dean’s cruel words. A sob threatened to escape his throat, and he slapped a hand over his mouth. He fled back to his room, unable to listen any longer. He sat heavily on his bed, feeling a few tears slide down his cheek. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to maintain his composure.
After taking a few minutes to calm his breathing and get his whirling emotions in check, Cas pulled his phone from his pocket. He scrolled through his contacts to find the one he was looking for. He pressed the call button.
“Hello, angel, what can I do for you,” Rowena’s voice purred.
“Hello, Rowena. I need a spell.” Cas was eternally thankful that his voice didn’t break.
Three days later, the Winchesters, Cas, and Rowena were gathered at the map table. Spread across the table’s surface were about a dozen potion ingredients, as well as the bowl needed to combine them in. Sam and Rowena stood on one side of the table, talking about the potion that they were preparing.
Dean and Cas stood on the other side, the hunter glaring at the angel. “I just don’t see why this potion is necessary. You said mating season was perfectly normal, so why are you trying to stop yourself from going through it?”
“Why does it matter to you, Dean? You’re not an angel.” Cas had grown tired of this conversation. He and Dean had been going round and round for days, ever since he told the hunter he had called Rowena for a spell or potion that would cause his body to end its mating season early.
Dean scowled at his friend. “I get I’m not an angel, but couldn’t this be dangerous?”
Cas shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. If it means allowing me to hide my wings again, it will be worth it. I know you aren’t exactly happy about them and wish they were gone.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Dean snapped.
Cas considered telling Dean he had overheard the brothers talking but decided against it. He was tired of arguing with Dean and just wanted to go back to his room. He was still trying to get over what Dean had said the other night and needed some time to collect his thoughts and process his emotions.
Cas sighed heavily. “It doesn’t matter. If I get hurt, then I’ll just patch myself up as usual.”
Cas tried to walk away, but Dean grabbed his wrist and forced the angel to face him. Cas felt his wings flutter involuntarily, and he groaned when heat spread from where Dean’s fingers were touching his skin. Cas took deep breaths, trying to calm his racing heart. He jerked his wrist out of Dean’s grasp and growled, “Don’t touch me.”
Dean looked at Cas, obviously upset by the angel’s words. “Fine, I’ll quit touching you. Regardless, I’m still your friend, Cas, and I don’t want to see you getting hurt.”
Cas huffed out a laugh. “Rowena assured me it would be fine, Dean. Besides, why should I go through a mating season when I’m not around any potential mates? I’d rather just get everything back to normal. That way, you don’t have to deal with my wings and them dropping feathers all over the place.” Dean’s words from a few days ago flashed through his mind.
Dean jerked back as if Cas had slapped him. “Fine, let’s just get this over with,” he said stiffly, walking past Cas without another word. They joined Rowena and Sam, refusing to look at one another.
Rowena looked at the two of them. With a raised eyebrow, she asked, “Everything alright in paradise?”
“We’re fine,” Cas replied stoically.
Dean snorted and said, “Yeah, just peachy.”
Rowena looked at them, not believing either man. She started to say something but let it drop. She flashed a smile and asked, “Alright, boys, did everybody get the ingredients I asked for?” After a nod from all three men, she continued. “Alrighty then. Let’s get this potion made so Castiel can hide his feathers again.”
Rowena slowly started adding the ingredients one by one. With each thing added, she muttered a few words before dropping the next item into the bowl. As soon as she added the last ingredient, smoke puffed up from the bowl before dissipating into the air.
Rowena scooped the bright yellow liquid into a cup and handed it over to Cas.
“This will cause my body to quit participating in the mating season?” he asked, looking warily at the potion.
“Of course, dear. What do you take me for, an amateur?” Rowena brought her hand to her chest, insulted by the angel’s question.
Cas glanced at Sam, who shrugged. He then looked at Dean. Dean had a scowl plastered on his face and refused to meet Cas’ eye. Without another word, Cas raised the cup to his lips and downed its contents.
He set the cup on the table as he felt the thick potion slide down his throat and settle in his stomach. “Well, that tasted like… uhhh,” Cas groaned. He clutched at his stomach and bent over as pain rushed through him.
Dean was instantly at his side. “Cas, what’s wrong?”
“It hurts,” Cas managed to say through the waves of pain making their way through his body.
Dean turned to Rowena. “What the hell! Why is he in pain?”
“It’s what the potion does, Dean. His body is changing in ways it wasn’t expecting. That won’t be painless,” she explained, slowly shaking her head.
Dean slid an arm under Cas’ wings and around his waist. “Cas, buddy, are you ok?”
Cas grimaced, pain shooting from the center of his stomach, outwards to his fingers and toes. Suddenly, he could feel things in his body starting to shift, changing into something else. “Dean, something’s wrong,” he managed to gasp out before falling to the floor.
Cas slammed his eyes shut, trying to brace himself against the waves of agony. He heard Dean drop to his knees, his hand burning Cas where it rested on his shoulder. Cas could feel his bones shortening and reshaping, and a whimper was torn from his throat. Cas rubbed at his face blindly as he felt his nose receding, his teeth lengthening, and something was sprouting from the top of his head. The next moment, Cas’ entire body burst into flames, feeling like he was being stung by a thousand bees at once.
“Rowena, what the fuck is going on?” Cas barely registered Dean’s concerned shout.
Cas forced his eyes open, trying to scream, but no sound escaped him. Terror filled Cas as he watched skinny gray tendrils sprout from the side of his nose. He glanced at his hands, and he could see black fur erupting from the skin as they shrunk and turned into something else.
Cas’s eyes widened in shock when he felt something growing from the base of his spine. He looked over his shoulder, trying to figure out what else was happening with his body, but his wings blocked his view. Another wave of torment rolled through Cas, and then as quickly as the pain had started, it ended.
Cas laid on the floor unmoving and panting to catch his breath, trying to push through the aftershocks of his ordeal. He could hear shouting behind him, and it was as loud as a gun going off next to his ear. Cas flinched at the voices, and even that tiny movement caused bites of pain throughout his body. He slowly adjusted to his enhanced hearing as he lay there, and the voices started making sense.
“Rowena, so help me, you fix him, or I will put a bullet in your brain,” Dean shouted.
“Dean, put the damn gun down! Give her a chance to explain,” Sam yelled.
“Oh, she better start explaining because whatever she did, she didn’t do what she was supposed to!” Dean’s words were full of anger as he screamed at his brother.
As the pain slowly faded away, Cas struggled to comprehend Dean’s words. Rowena was supposed to make a potion to bring his body out of mating season, but something must have gone wrong, and that’s why he had been in so much pain. He took a deep breath and attempted to get to his feet. Cas stood up, took one step, and immediately fell back to the floor.
Three heads snapped to look at him. “Cas,” Dean cried, dropping the gun and rushing over to him. “Cas, is that you? Can you understand me?”
Cas rolled his eyes at the ridiculous question. “Of course, I can understand you.” Cas froze. He had said words, but no words came out of his mouth. Instead, something else had come out. “Dean,” he tried to say, but it came out as a soft “meow.”
Cas looked down at his... paws! His eyes widened in shock as he stared at what used to be human hands. He swiveled his head to look at his body and saw nothing but black fur, a tail…and his wings!
He shouted, which came out as a scratchy “meow.” Rowena was supposed to get rid of his wings, but instead, she had turned Cas into a large black cat with his wings still on display! He struggled to his feet again, standing on four instead of the usual two.
He looked up and down his body, still unable to comprehend what he was seeing. He was a cat, an actual cat with a tail and whiskers that meowed instead of talked! He was going to strangle Rowena when the witch turned him back into an angel!
Cas turned to face the three humans and was disconcerted at having to crane his neck back to see them. They now towered above him and were staring at him with different expressions. Sam stared at him with a frown, Rowena had a smirk as she gazed at him, and Dean was looking at him with both concern and anger, but he suspected the anger was directed towards the witch.
“Why the fuck is he a cat, Rowena?” Dean shouted.
“I don’t know, Dean. Let me look at the ingredients.” Rowena turned to face the table and started looking at everything spread out on it. She grabbed a couple of ingredients and inspected them closely. “Well, there’s your problem right there. These aren’t the right ingredients.”
Rowena held out a cluster of white flowers for everyone to see. “These are not the hydrangeas I asked for. These are snowball flowers.” In her other hand, Rowena held the crystal that she had used as an energy conduit. “This is not the citrine quartz that I needed; this is bytownite. No wonder he’s standing on the floor as a cat!”
Dean turned and glared at Sam, fire burning in the depths of his eyes. “How the fuck could you get the wrong ingredients?”
“Don’t yell at me! I got the ingredients Rowena told me to get. She never said to get hydrangeas and quartz, Dean! How much of an idiot do you take me for?” Sam growled, his eyes cutting to Rowena.
Rowena set the items back on the table. “I assure you, Samuel, I told you to get the right ingredients. You must have heard wrong.”
“There’s no way I could mishear hydrangeas and quartz. Snowballs don’t sound like hydrangeas, and bytownite and quartz sound nothing alike. You told me the wrong ingredients, Rowena,” Sam insisted.
“You know what, it doesn’t matter! What matters is getting Cas back to his normal dorky angel self. How do we fix this?” Dean asked angrily.
Rowena chewed on her lip and glanced over at Cas before looking back at Dean. “You’re not going to like the answer, Dean.”
Cas had enough of the arguing; it wasn’t going to turn him back to an angel. He took a step forward and promptly fell to the ground. Apparently, walking on four legs was more complicated than walking on two. Cas got to his feet and hesitantly stretched out his left front paw, setting it gently on the floor. He then lifted his back left leg and pulled it forward before doing the same thing with his body’s right side. Cas took a few steps, but he felt awkward, like a fledgling angel taking their first flight. This time he put his right front paw and left back leg forward before doing the same thing with the other two feet, feeling much more comfortable.
Cas padded over to Rowena and sunk his claws into her exposed ankle, grinning at the shout she let loose. The woman looked at him, a scowl stretching her red lips. Cas was unfazed and stared back with narrowed blue eyes.
“You could have asked for my attention in a much nicer way. Maybe I won’t tell them how to turn you back,” the witch exclaimed.
Cas glared at her, at least he hoped it was a glare, and placed his paw back on Rowena’s ankle, letting just the tips of his claws poke her.
“Alright, you win, just quit digging your claws in!” She focused her gaze on Dean. “The only way to break the spell is true love’s kiss.”
Dean busted out laughing while everybody else stared at him. When he realized he was the only one laughing, he immediately stopped. “You’re kidding, right?” he asked disbelievingly.
“Afraid not, dearie. A hopeless romantic witch created this spell, and pretty much the only way to break any of her spells was true love’s kiss. Unless kissed by his true love, Cas will stay a cat forever.” She turned around and started packing her stuff up.
Cas groaned internally. Of all the spells he could have been cursed with, it had to be one that could only be cured by a kiss of true love. He was doomed. There was a better chance of turning Crowley into an angel than Dean falling in love with Cas.
Cas was so caught in his own thoughts that he hadn’t realized Dean and Sam were once again arguing. “Dude, there’s no way I’m even entertaining the idea of kissing Cas. I told you, we’re just friends.”
“Dean, I was talking to Cas the other night, and- Owwww!” Sam shouted when Cas dug his claws into the man’s calf. There was no way Cas would let Sam tell Dean how he truly felt about him. Dean already had no interest in Cas as a lover; he couldn’t lose Dean as his friend as well.
“Dammit, Cas, what was that for?” Sam scooped Cas up under the armpits and held him at face level. “Can you understand us?”
Cas looked at Sam with an expression that screamed, “Well, duh!” Cas started squirming in Sam’s hands, and the hunter put him back on the floor with a quick, “Sorry.”
“So, what were you and Cas talking about?” Dean snapped.
Sam looked down at Cas, who shook his head. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it,” Sam sighed.
“Oh, boys, in case I forgot to mention, that spell has a wee bit of a time limit. If you don’t get Cas back to a human in ten days, he will be permanently stuck as a cat. He will lose all of his angel abilities and memories and be nothing more than a housecat. If that happens, the spell is irreversible at that point. Goodbye, boys,” Rowena said, heading up the stairs and out the bunker.
Cas wished he had been turned into a tiger so that he could at least rip Rowena’s throat out for cursing him. The predicament he found himself in was all her fault, and he would love to take his anger out on the witch. Once Rowena was out of sight, Cas turned his attention back to Dean and Sam.
Dean was pacing back and forth, anger rolling off his shoulders in waves. “This is fucking great! We have got to figure out a way to break this spell, Sam!”
Sam looked at his brother, his arms crossed over his chest. “You heard Rowena, Dean. Only true love’s-”
“Oh, shut up!” Dean cut his brother off. “Quit with the stupid Disney fairytale crap. We’re gonna go through every book in this bunker until we find a way to reverse this spell!”
Cas stood up and started winding around Dean’s ankles. The hunter picked him up and cradled him in his arms. He looked down at Cas and scratched the cat underneath his chin. “Don’t worry, Cas, I’m gonna fix this one way or another.”
Sam sighed and shook his head. “Looks like we got work to do.”
The three of them headed to the library. Dean set Cas on the table while he and Sam pulled book after book off the shelf. When Dean and Sam’s arms were overflowing with books, they dumped the books on the table and settled in a seat. Sam set up his laptop to cross-reference any resources they found, and then both brothers grabbed a book and started reading. Cas, not wanting just to sit around, nudged a book open and started reading.
When he was ready to turn the page, Cas tried to grab the page with his fingers, forgetting that he now had paws instead of hands. Cas attempted to use his foot to flip the page, but it just slid along the paper’s smooth surface. He tried again and managed to bunch the page up but couldn’t get it to flip. “Dammit,” he growled. Cas glared at the paper, determined to figure out an alternative way to turn it. He ground his teeth together in agitation, and an idea struck him. Cas used his foot to push the page up and then tried to grab the corner with his teeth. When he went to flip the page, he ended up tearing it instead. Cas growled in irritation; his tooth stuck in the paper. He tried to get his tooth unstuck without ripping the page further, but it was futile. Cas jerked his head back, flinching at the tearing sound.
Cas didn’t even notice his tail flicking back and forth angrily until Dean snapped, “Cas, would you control your tail. I’m trying to read here, and you keep covering the pages with the damn thing.”
Cas turned his head, narrowing his eyes in agitation. “I’m sorry, Dean, but it’s not like I’m used to having a tail. I don’t have much control of it at the moment.”
Dean looked at him, a grin on his face. “You know, being a cat might not be such a bad thing. Now you can’t bitch at me since I’m pretty sure you just said something smart. It just comes out as growls and meows.”
Cas glared at Dean for making fun of him. “This isn’t funny, Dean. I have no desire to stay a cat for the rest of my life.”
Dean shook his head. “Dude, I don’t know what you’re saying. Oh, I wonder if you can talk to me using telekinesis.” Dean reached out and touched Cas on the head. “Say something, Cas, and let’s see if I can hear you in my head.”
Cas rolled his eyes, his tail thumping ever harder against the tabletop. “You’re an idiot, and if it’s left up to you, I’m never going to be a proper angel again.”
“Did you say something?” Dean asked. Cas stared at the hunter, an unamused look on his face, and nodded. “Ok, so you don’t have telekinesis powers then.”
Cas flexed his claws, digging the sharp points into the wood instead of Dean’s arm. “This isn’t a sci-fi movie, Dean.” He jumped when Dean reached out and ran a hand down his head. Without any control of his own, a deep rumble bubbled up in Cas’ chest, and he felt like his entire body was vibrating.
“Sam, listen, Cas is purring,” Dean said excitedly.
Sam looked up from his book; his lips turned down in the corners. “Dean, could you quit pestering Cas and get to researching unless you want him to turn into a cat permanently. Then again, we could solve this whole thing if you would just-”
“Shut it, Sammy! I told you kissing Cas isn’t gonna break this spell. Right, Cas?” Dean asked, looking at the cat.
Cas froze, his gaze shifting between the two brothers. Instead of answering the question, he jumped off the table and hightailed it out of the library. He heard Dean and Sam calling after him, but he ignored them, not stopping until he reached his bedroom. He pushed against the closed door, but it was firmly shut. Cas growled, his tail shifting back and forth as his irritation grew.
He looked over his shoulder, once again noticing his wings. He stretched them out, smaller in this form but still just as visible as when he was an angel. “Hmm, if I still have my wings, I wonder if I still have use of my grace,” Cas thought to himself. He put his paw on the door and tried to focus his grace into pushing it open, but he couldn’t feel a single tendril swirling in his body. “No, if I have my wings, I should have my grace,” he growled into the empty hallway. He tried again but didn’t even feel an ounce of his mojo.
Cas hissed at the door in anger before getting up and walking down the hallway. When he saw Dean’s room open, he headed inside. He froze as he took everything in, now towering above him. He would have to get used to everything being so much bigger now that he was a lot smaller. The bed was as imposing as Mount Everest was to humans, and Cas looked at it dauntingly.
Cas knew cats were strong jumpers, but he was afraid he wouldn’t be and would fall back to the floor. “Oh fuck it,” he grumbled, crouching down and then pushing off with all his might. Cas soared through the air, screaming as he was launched far higher than anticipated. He landed on the edge of the other side of the bed, just barely keeping himself from falling off. He scrambled backward until he was safely in the middle of the mattress. Once his heart quit beating inside of his chest, Cas looked around and noticed one of Dean’s shirts laying haphazardly on the bed.
Cas walked over and sniffed it, surprised at how good it smelled to him. He took a deeper breath, inhaling Dean’s scent deep into his lungs, and jerked back when his wings started to flutter uncontrollably. Dean smelled like mate, and even if Cas didn’t have his mojo, he still had some lingering side effects of mating season. He slid his cheek against the shirt before dropping to his belly and rubbing his full body against the soft fabric. Cas kneaded the shirt with his claws while he continued to rub his face against the material. After a few minutes, he bunched the shirt up and curled up in the middle of the little nest he had made. Within seconds, Cas was sound asleep.