Dean was enjoying the pleasant haze that came from having a few relaxing beers when he heard the splash. The noise was cannonball-worthy, and it startled him enough to make him wonder who the hell was sneaking into the apartment complex’s pool at two in the morning. But curious to see if those skinny-dipping coeds were back (thank dumb luck for having a poolside apartment), Dean made his way over to the window and slowly pulled the curtain aside.
And just stared. The pool was fucking glowing.
Dean ran his hand over his face, blinking several times. He knew he hadn’t had that much to drink.
When he looked again, the pool was still shining, and not in a pool-light sort of way (not that they kept the light on at night). And was that someone floating just under the surface of water?
Dean was fumbling with the lock to his front door before he thought twice about it. Whatever was happening, if some poor schmuck drowned while he was standing at his window gawking, he’d never forgive himself.
By the time he reached the pool’s fence, the water was back to its nighttime black. The only illumination was coming from the security lights overhead. Dean noticed the sidewalks around the pool were wet under his feet. Peering through the bars, he could just make out something rippling on the water. Something like clothing.
“Fuck,” he muttered.
Dean moved back, looking at the fence and gauging the distance. A second later, he hopped it and landed with a dull thud on the pavement of the other side.
There was definitely someone face down in the pool.
“Fuck,” he said again.
He jumped in, half-swimming, half-walking through the chin deep water. When Dean reached the man—clearly a man, now—and tried to turn him over, his fingers encountered something that made him draw back in surprise. It was drenched and slick, and wasn’t the bunch of soaked cloth that he had been expecting to grab.
On either side of the man, it kind of looked like… wings.
Which wasn’t important or helpful at getting the guy out of the pool. Dean moved directly in front of him and then dipped beneath the water himself, pulling the guy’s arms over his own shoulders and draping him over his back.
Then he made for the shallow end of the pool where the steps were.
Dean brought them both out of the water, which took a lot more effort than he’d expected. As soon as the man’s weight wasn’t supported by buoyancy, he dragged Dean down with every step. This guy was as heavy as Sam.
Dean managed to get all the way out on the pavement, and then he shrugged the guy off his shoulders and laid him on the ground. As he awkwardly turned the man onto his back, the guy made an unnaturally high pitched noise, but otherwise didn’t stir. Dean knelt next to him.
He was breathing; he wasn’t coughing up water. Good signs. Didn’t need CPR, lungs somehow weren’t full of water—
And fuck, those really looked like wings. Really looked like wings. Even in the dim lighting, it looked like feathers and bones—like real bird wings, not some cheap costume. Dean cautiously put his hand on one. Yeah, definitely freaky.
If Dean believed in that kind of shit, he’d think this was an angel.
Which it clearly wasn’t. Clearly.
Dean gently slapped the guy’s cheek with his fingertips. “Hey, buddy. Hey. C’mon, wake up.”
Right. So he’d done his part, kept the dude from dying, and now it was time to call the landlord or 911 and let them deal with the not-angel.
Except that he kind of felt responsible for the guy in a weird way. He could wait for him to wake up at least, Dean supposed. No need to get the authorities breathing down the poor guy’s neck for some harmless trespassing.
But he couldn’t wait out here in the dead of night. After some tricky maneuvering, Dean got the man draped over his shoulders again—the only way he could carry him due to the not-wings.
It was only when he reached the gate that he realized he couldn’t get out of the pool area the way he got in. Jumping the fence while carrying someone wasn’t happening. Though he could pick the lock if he went back to his apartment first and got a pin or something.
He was surprised when he put a hand to the gate and it swung open. Dean raised his eyebrows; the gate was always locked at night. But he made his way to his apartment door, hauling the increasingly heavy-feeling man. It was probably the not-wings.
Once inside, he laid the not-angel face down on the floor. On the floor, because he couldn’t figure out how to arrange him on the couch with the not-wings. Face down, because he was afraid of turning him over and laying him on the not-wings again. He hadn’t seemed to like that last time. Dean slid a pillow under the guy’s head. He tried to remove some of the wet clothes, or at least the coat, but couldn’t figure out how, exactly, because of the not-wings.
Which were looking increasingly like wings again under the bright light fixtures. Fuck.
Big black wings that were almost as long as the guy was tall.
It was too late, or too early, for this shit—Dean wasn’t sure which. He made sure the curtains were closed and the door was locked, and turned out the lights. The not-angel guy probably wasn’t dangerous, and it wasn’t like Dean couldn’t take care of himself. Dean went into the bedroom, stripping out of his own wet clothes and tossing them onto the bathroom floor. He pulled on a clean set of boxers and a T-shirt, and collapsed on the bed.
The sunrise was starting to shine through the curtains when Dean woke up again. His head hurt, and he thought it was entirely too early to be getting up when he had a hangover. Especially after having weird dreams about drowning angels.
The hair on the back of his neck suddenly stood up like he was being watched, and Dean looked over his shoulder toward the bedroom door.
“Holy crap!” He was out of bed in an instant.
The not-angel was standing in the doorframe.
Dean closed his eyes, pressing his palms to his head. When he looked again, the guy was still there.
“Holy crap,” Dean said again. “This is real. You’re real.”
The angel just stared at him, blue eyes quizzical and a slight frown on his face. His clothes were dry—and apparently angels wore cheap suits—and his wings were folded behind him. Except one wasn’t folded as neatly and was sort of dragging on the floor.
“You are an angel, right?”
All he got in response was a slight head tilt, like the angel was saying, ‘Obviously’.
“What, do you not understand English?”
A deeper frown.
“Of course not,” Dean muttered. “Look, just…” he gestured vaguely at the living room as he moved around the bed. Dean skirted around him and went into the living room. The angel followed him. Dean pointed to the couch. “Sit.”
After a moment of glancing between Dean’s face and his outstretched arm, the trench coat-wearing angel sat down on the couch.
“Good. Now… stay there.”
Dean shut the bedroom door, leaning against it for a minute. Then he did what he did whenever there was something he had no freaking idea how to deal with on his own.
He called Sam.
It only occurred to him after the phone was already ringing that it was probably barely past six, and Sam was still going to be asleep. However, Sam answered on the second ring, apparently awake and alert.
“Hey, can you come over?” Dean blurted.
“I’ve kind of got a busy day today, Dean.”
“Man, I really need some help.”
There was a pause. “You do remember that our apartment practically burned down yesterday, right? Jess and I are going today to see what can be salvaged.”
“I know! And I was gonna help, but—”
“Was? Dean, I was counting on y—”
“What is it?” Sam asked, obviously feeling the importance of the rare ‘Sammy + please.’
“You have to come see it.”
“Just tell me what you need.”
“You wouldn’t fucking believe me if I told you. I don’t even believe me. Look, your hotel’s, what, ten minutes away? Just come over, and then if you don’t want to help, you can turn right around and go back.”
There was an even longer pause. “Okay. Jess won’t be up for a little while, I guess. But this had better be good,” he added.
Dean hung up the phone.
Then he brushed his teeth, splashed water on his face, slowly got dressed—and he was totally not hiding from the angel in the living room, but he couldn’t go back out there when it kept staring at him.
Nearly ten minutes after he got off the phone with Sam, he heard a knock on the front door. Dean went into the living room. The angel was still sitting on the couch. His head swiveled around as Dean entered the room. Dean opened the front door a crack. Sam’s Expectant Bitchface greeted him.
“Are you going to let me in?”
“I’ve got a problem,” Dean said.
“I know. I’m here.”
“You believe in angels, right?”
“Just answer the question, Sam.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Yes, I believe in angels. And I pray. Which I think you teased me mercilessly about, if I remember right.”
“Okay. Just don’t freak out.”
Dean opened the door, and Sam walked past him. His eyes fell to the man sitting on the couch. Everything was silent for a moment. Then Sam turned to Dean, annoyance and anger spreading over his face. “Very funny, Dean. I can’t believe you dragged me over here for this. Especially today!”
“He’s a real angel!”
“Right.” Sam turned toward the door.
Dean slammed a hand against the door, preventing Sam from opening it. “Sammy, look at him!”
Sam glared at Dean and walked over to the angel, who remained perfectly still. “Well?”
Sam frowned, getting a little closer. And then a lot closer. He was absorbed as he peered at a wing, and he gasped when it moved under his hand. Sam skittered backward, like he was afraid the angel was going to smite him for touching without permission.
Then his face lit up like a little boy on Christmas morning. “Oh, my God. Dean… what… how…?”
“I don’t know. He crashed in the pool last night. I heard this splash, so I went to look. He was floating there, and I dragged him out. He was unconscious until this morning.”
“Did anyone else see?”
“No, he just stares at me.”
The brothers turned in unison to look at the angel. It was true that while he had glanced some at Sam, most of his focus was on Dean.
Sam smirked. “Well, you rescued him. It’s only natural.”
“Fun-ny.” Dean looked back at the angel. “Hey,” he said, gesturing to the door, “why don’t you go be free or something? Fly away.”
Sam made a face like he couldn’t believe he was related to Dean. “Dean, he’s not a wild animal. You can’t just say, ‘go be free,’ and release him back to his natural habitat—which I’m pretty sure is Heaven, by the way.” He frowned thoughtfully, gazing back at the angel. “Besides, I think he’s hurt.”
Dean stared at the wing that was sticking out at a peculiar angle. There was something not quite right about it. Sam moved closer again, examining without touching. “I don’t think he can leave,” he announced.
“Well, what am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know anything about bird wings,” Dean said.
“Angel wings,” Sam corrected, moving back to stand beside Dean.
“I know even less about angel wings. Maybe we should, y’know, give him to someone.”
“A church.” Dean shrugged. “Catholics. They’re the literal ones, right?”
“Dean, you can’t just hand him over to someone else.”
“Well, I don’t know what he needs. They believe in angels, don’t they?”
“I don’t exactly think believing comes with practical knowledge. There aren’t angels on Earth. At least, not like this,” Sam said, gesturing in the angel’s direction. “I think we would have noticed. Besides, do something like that and he’ll end up on the six o’clock news.”
They both looked down at the angel again. He was staring at them with a beseeching face that for all the world seemed to be saying, ‘Please don’t hand me over to anyone else.’
Dean cleared his throat. “Do you get the feeling that he knows exactly what we’re saying even though he doesn’t understand a word of it?”
“The point is,” Sam said, “whatever angels can do, I don’t think he can do right now. I think he’s stuck here, and I think you’re all he’s got. And maybe there’s a reason he was sent to you.”
“I don’t think he was so much ‘sent’ as ‘crash landed’.”
Sam waved a hand in acknowledgement.
“I’ve got no idea what I’m supposed to do for him. Nurse him back to health? Dude, that’s so not me.”
“Yeah, you’re not exactly the nurturing type,” Sam said. “But I’m not sure he needs that.”
“I thought maybe your, y’know, freaky mind thing could help.”
Sam grimaced at the mention of his ‘mind thing’, but he did stare at the angel for few seconds.
“Sorry, Dean. I’m not getting anything. You know I’d be happy to have him stay with me, but we’re kind of living out of a hotel right now.”
“But you’re off the hook with helping today,” Sam said. “This is much more important.”
“I’m not staying here all day like this. Anyway, I don’t know how that would help him.”
“Keep him company.”
“He doesn’t talk,” Dean hissed.
“You’re right that he seems to know what we mean, though. Hmm…” Sam looked at the angel and placed a hand on his own chest. “Sam,” he said. He pointed to Dean. “Dean.” Then he pointed to the angel and looked at him expectantly.
The angel narrowed his eyes slightly, and then in a rough voice said, “Castiel.”
“Casteel,” Sam said. “See?”
“Cas-ti-el,” the angel corrected.
“Castiel told you,” Dean said, nudging Sam with his elbow.
Castiel looked at Dean upon hearing his name. “Dean,” he said, seeming pleased.
“Yeah, Dean. Me Dean, you Castiel, progress all around. Look,” Dean said to Sam, “I just can’t sit here all day. It’s weird. I don’t know what angels do, but surely he’ll be fine on his own. I’ll come with you guys.”
“Okay,” Sam said, shrugging. “I’ll come back with you later. Maybe we can go by the library and find something on setting bird wings.”
“Where the hell do you even start looking for that?”
“The National Audubon Society should have something,” Sam said in his ‘it’s not that hard, Dean’ voice.
“Let’s leave now. Swing by a diner and pick up breakfast.”
“If you want.”
They glanced down at Castiel again.
“Maybe you should leave the TV on for him,” Sam suggested.
“What would angels watch?”
“Touched by an Angel?”
“Dude, not funny.”
Dean switched on the TV and set it to the Discovery Channel on a low volume. “If you don’t want to watch, turn it off,” he said to Castiel, pointing out the red button as he put the remote in his hand. “And if you need to sleep, you can use the bed, I guess. So, yeah.” Dean looked him straight in the eyes, hoping his meaning was getting through. “You can stay here, and I’ll try to help if I can figure out how. We’ll fix you up and keep it quiet.”
Castiel stared intently at him, suddenly looking so fucking grateful it was uncomfortable. “Right,” Dean said, stepping back. “I’ll be back later.”
The angel was still staring as he shut the door.
“Yeah, this isn’t going to be weird at all,” Dean muttered, locking the door once they were outside.
“Dean, most people would be thrilled.”
“I don’t know who you hang out with, Sam, but most people would be going crazy and calling the National Enquirer, or trying to worship him or something.”
“Well, good that you’re not most people,” Sam said, with that disgustingly sentimental ‘I’m so proud you’re my brother’ look.
Dean pointed a finger in Sam’s face. “No chick flick moments. Or me and my car are not helping you today.”
Sam snorted. “Like you were going to let me put smoke damaged things in the Impala to begin with.”
“Life’s a bitch,” Dean said with a shrug. Then he paused, eyeing his window and making sure no one could see in.
“So are we going?” Sam asked.
“Yeah.” Dean turned away. “We’re going.”