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‘Once upon a time,’

“Mama,” Dean’s voice ends Mary’s story before it even begins. She adjusts herself on the edge of his bed, tugs on her skirt; tucks the quilt tighter around his shoulders. It’s the Prince’s fourth birthday tomorrow, and as such, he needs his rest. It’s a very special occasion.

“What is it, sweetheart?”

“Mama, have I heard this story before?” He asks, eyes peeking out at her from under his blanket, wide but still sleepy.

“Not this one.” Mary murmurs, and she waits a few moments, makes sure he stays quiet, that he’s settled. He reaches out to grab her hand with his tiny fingers, and she smiles, brushing his bangs back from his forehead.

“Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a prince, just like you.” Dean smiles at that, snuggling deeper into the mattress. “He was a very brave young man, and people say he brought light everywhere he went...”

The story was told to Mary when she was a child. A story passed down through generations. A story told to children as they are tucked into bed; a man – a God – so bright and wonderful that he became a source of light for one half of the world. He is immortal, the legend says, though his body is not, and his soul is searching, constantly searching for a body to reside in.

This year is special. On this year, it seems the the Light has found a place to stay.

Dean Winchester is the Sun.

Of course, they are just tales. Dean Winchester is the Sun because the Gods made it so.  And tomorrow, on his fourth birthday, like every other human, he will receive an egg.

“Am I gonna get a bird like Lily?” Dean has been waiting for years and years and years for a Phoenix. The second his mother told him what age he would receive one, he seemed to decide right then and there that he wasn’t going to start living until his very own egg was safely in his grasp.

Bothering Lily – Mary’s own bird – seemed like the most sensible thing to do. She doesn’t seem to mind, the kind thing. She takes to Dean like one of her own, and even when he sits on her back and tugs on her feathers in ways that make her wince, she only gives him a scolding tap on the cheek.

“Only if you go to sleep.” Mary insists, and after a few more moments, Dean slumps, falling into a half-restful slumber, his excitement bursting at the seams.

It’s not in her place to sit here. She should be doing other things, preparing for the big day tomorrow; making sure everybody is set before she goes to bed. But even in sleep Dean seems full of energy, and she can’t help but sit and bask in his glow.

But she really does need to let him rest. With one final kiss to his cheek, she wipes her feet against the rug and stands. John is waiting for her outside. She steps forward to wrap her arms around his neck, and he smiles into her kiss.

“How’s Sammy?”

“Out like a log." John is the one to pull back, grinning as she laughs at his strange form of expression. “How’s our little birthday boy doing?”

“It’s not his birthday yet,” She teases. “Don’t you be giving him any ideas. And even if he gets one hour of sleep, there’s no way he’s dozing off with a Phoenix egg in his lap.”

They turn left down another hall, step outside for a moment; let the warmth of the Sky soak into their skin. Here, it’s always beautiful. The garden, especially, is one of Mary’s favorite places to be, and little Sam just loves sitting in the grass and picking at the flowers until there are petals scattered around him. He loves, even more, the sight of them being carried off by the breeze.

It’s huge, the royal garden; taking up enough space that John is constantly saying you could build a small village with room to spare. The walls around it are made of the purest marble, for aesthetic pleasure as well as to keep animals out. There are creeks and flowers and trees that bloom with brilliant, gold leaves. The gardeners do their job, and they do their job well, because of how captivating it is to simply be there.

“Have you seen it?” John turns to her at that, a coy smile to his face that doesn’t trick her for one moment. Of course he’s seen it.

John rocks on his heels, boots digging into the dirt, but stays quiet. It’s always been this way; the father of the child gets to see the egg prior to the actual ceremony, and the mother must wait and be surprised. That is, if she can’t convince her husband to tell her. But Mary isn’t very good at manipulating people; not since she was a teenager.

“Fine.” Mary mumbles, tucker her hair behind her ear. “Fine, don’t tell me. But at least tell me what you think his bird will look like. I’m sure we’ve all been thinking about it.”

“Red.” Is John’s immediate response. “Bright red – as bright as those rabbits down by the river.” It’s a strong color for a strong leader.

“Of course.”

Everyone in town is excited. They all want to know what their prince’s Phoenix will look like; what its name will be. Of course Mary wants to know – she’s even more curious than they are – but the thing she most looks forward to is seeing her little boy’s face light up when the egg hatches. Even her daydreams can’t capture what she believes his eyes will look like, or his smile.

The Sun is going to have a Phoenix. His light will glow even brighter, the sky will be even clearer.

And when he flies for the first time, oh, even the thought makes her heart feel set to burst. The bond a human has with their Phoenix is something special, something that cannot be duplicated or replaced. There comes a certain level of trust when you rely on a giant bird to get around; when you can comfortably sit on its back and know it won’t drop you.

Nothing in the Western half of the sky is as beautiful as that friendship.

~

Dean and Mary go for their early morning walk in that very same garden, a few hours before the ceremony begins. A red-crested finch twitters at the two of them, and a few others join in; welcoming their queen. Dean curls his tongue and whistles with them. Despite his young age, he manages it perfectly, and the birds happily sing along.

When he finishes, they all scatter off into the sky, and Dean is grinning like the happiest child in the entire world. He probably is, today. Especially today.

“Mom,” He asks, tugging on his mother’s bright silk skirt. “Mama, is Sammy coming to my party?”

“Of course Sammy is coming to your party!” She gasps, putting a hand on her chest in exaggerated surprise. It makes Dean giggle, and when she crouches down, he hurries into her arms; wraps his arms around her neck as she lifts him up. “He wouldn’t miss it for the world, sunshine.”

“And that story,” He begins again, a child of many questions. Children have the strongest knack for completely changing the topic without as much as a pause. “The one you told me about the prince guy, what does that have to do with me?”

“Who said it had anything to do with-“

“You’ve never told me that story, before.” He rests his cheek against her temple. “And you always tell me stories, and that’s the best story ever, and today is a special day.”

Again and again, even when he was just a bundle in Mary’s arms, Dean always manages to surprise her. He’s only four years old and he’s starting to mature. The thought both excites and saddens Mary. Her little boy really is growing up fast.

She needs to pause and think about her answer. She continues walking, and Dean obediently remains silent, clinging to her neck and looking around at the trees while he waits for her to come up with something.  There’s a patch of grass a few feet away, completely clear, the brightest spot in the entire garden, and Mary stops there.

“Sweetheart, have you ever wondered where the light comes from?”

Dean gets a look of concentration on his face that only a child can make. “Sometimes. Not really.” He looks up at the sky, at the clear blue, and tilts his head to the side. “I’ve never really thought that hard about it.”

The light surrounding the two of them, highlighting the grass, is seemingly nothing. The sky is blue and vacant, and there is nothing.

“There is always light coming down, all around us, filling the sky, but there’s nothing there.” Mary murmurs.

“Those books in the library, they say that the light in the sky comes from the Sun. They say that the Gods made the Sun. That’s why it’s so dark in the other place, ‘cause there’s no Sun.”

Mary smiles. “That’s true. The Sun is what gives us light and keeps the sky from ever going dark.” There’s a pause in her words. He’s only four, as of today he’s only four. Is he ready for this? Will he even understand?

Yes. Yes, of course he will.

“When I was your age, my mother used to tell me stories about the Sun. She told me that every few thousand years, the Sun was reborn. It was my favorite tale. I’d always make her tell it to me before bed.”

Dean just blinks at her. The idea of any number over one hundred is unfathomable, so a few thousands feels like a lifetime. “Like born-born?”

“Born-born.” This might be a while. Mary looks around until she finds the shade of a tree, and lowers herself to the ground, pulling her skirt around her so she can sit comfortably. Dean settles in her lap, eyes wide.

“The Sun is a person?”

“It’s a very, very old story, Dean - the story that our entire city was built on.” She has his complete attention. “You see, the split in the sky, on the other side where the stars come out – the Night – has its own source of light called the Moon. It’s said that the Sun and the Moon are two halves of a whole.”

“Daddy says it’s scary over there. Has he been over there, is it scary? It looks kinda scary.”

“It’s not really. Your dad’s just telling stories.” Mary kisses his cheek and he twirls one of her blonde curls around his finger. The creek by the wall gurgles and bubbles softly off to the side. A tiny, gold fish leaps and bounds out of the water, landing back in, being swallowed by the ripples with a quiet plop.

Dean waits for her to continue.

“The Sun disappeared out of the sky four years ago.” She shifts, remembering vividly the disbelief she felt as the area around the cloud became barren, just as her little boy gave his first whine. “The day you were born. The first time in, I think, two thousand years.”

“How many tens are in two thousand?”

“A lot.”

“Wow.” There’s more silence. “Did I eat the Sun?”

Mary can’t help but laugh at that, and Dean pouts, brow furrowing in deep concern. But she keeps laughing, and it melts away. If his mom thinks it’s funny, it must be funny. There’s a slight breeze that makes her hair flutter, and it tickles Dean’s cheek. His mom is beautiful. She’s the most beautiful person in the entire world, and her dress only makes her look more beautiful. His dad gave her a kiss when he saw her put it on, and that made her smile even wider.

“No, sweetie, you didn’t eat the Sun.” Cool fingers push Dean’s hair back. “You are the Sun.”

“What?”

“All of the light you see around us is because of you. You are the source of energy and goodness that keeps this world afloat. It’s a very spectacular thing to be.” The pride in her voice could not be more obvious.

Dean’s eyes are wide and green and gorgeous. He stands abruptly, curling his toes in the grass. Their color deepens at his touch, and his mouth drop opens. It’s amazing what you notice when the truth is actually revealed to you.

He’s the Sun. All of the world existing is ‘cause of him?

“Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. We need you looking your best.”

~

The main hall begins to fill a few hours after lunch. The grey stone walls are covered almost completely in red and white cloth; banners and flags that hang down, trimmed with real gold. It’s a sight for all to see, even those who have lived in the castle their entire lives. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air, a whisper in the crowd. Everybody wants to see Dean. John walks around with Sam in his arms, tiny thumb planted firmly between his lips. John desperately hopes he stays this quiet.

It’s still obnoxiously loud in the room.

He gives a low whistle. There’s a few seconds of nothing, and then a flutter, and Kalin stands in front of him, orange and red feathers particularly shiny. He’s got an almost gradient look to his body; his head the color of fallen leaves, slowly turning to blood red at the tip of his tail feathers. 

“You groomed yourself,” John acknowledges, and the bird nods, shaking his tail. “Good lad.”

Sam coos and Kalin leans down to nuzzle at his cheek. “Mary and Dean should be ready soon. They could have been done hours ago, actually, but the Gods only know what she’s doing to that boy.”

It’s like the birth of another child. The royal family is welcoming another member, and they don’t know anything about it. John remembers his own birthday celebration, when his father handed him an egg as blue as the sky above their heads. It is, by far, one of his best memories. He’s sure that Dean will always remember this moment. It seems that everybody does.

“Go check on them for me, if you don’t mind. I have to stay here and make sure nobody starts anything.”

Kalin clicks his beak and obeys.

~

For somebody who is still only a toddler, Dean has far too many clothes. He doesn’t seem to mind, and Mary definitely doesn’t mind, but it’s still strange, and people actually do ask what is going to happen once he grows out of them.

There are custom-made outfits for every occasion, from his birthdays to his mom’s birthday, to that one time Bobby came over for lunch. There are casual clothes and embroidered clothes, and clothes made of silk and clothes made of cotton. Everything is a mixture of red and white and gold and orange and all of them glow like he does.

Mary has too much fun dressing him up like a doll. Usually he can’t help but whine, but after being told the most important news only thirty minutes earlier, he obeys every little ‘stand’ and ‘twirl’ that his mom throws out. His birthday outfit this year is red and gold as usual; a small tunic with a collar that sits up and around his neck. He likes this one.

And he gets to wear gold bracelets, and when they accidently bump they make a sweet little sound, and that is really all it takes for him to love the outfit to pieces.

“Do you think it’ll like me, the Phoenix?” He asks after a moment of silence, while he sits and fiddles with the tail of his tunic.

His mom actually laughs at him, and he stares at her with a wrinkle in his forehead. She’s smiling, not in a mocking way, and his shoulders droop with even more confusion. “Our Phoenixes are paired with us for a reason, Dean. They’re meant to be your perfect match.”

“But what if it’s a mistake,” Dean worries at his bottom lip. “What if I grow up and I change and then it doesn’t like me anymore!”

“It will grow up with you.” Mary leans down to kiss his forehead. “Today, when it hatches, you will already be bonding. It will grow as you do. You will celebrate your birthdays together, and as you change, so will it.”

“What’s it gonna look like?”

“That’s the big surprise. Nobody knows.” She takes a deep breath. “Now stand up.”

Dean shakes his head, the moment already forgotten as he brings himself back to the present. “How do I look?”

“Like a true prince.”

Dean grins, twirling on one foot and stumbles back, falling against something solid and soft. Kalin squawks indignantly, reaching down to smooth his feathers back into place, and Dean rushes away from him with a flush to his cheeks.

“Sorry, Kalin.”

Kalin squawks again.

“I said I was sorry!”

“Is it almost time?” Mary steps up, and Kalin shakes himself off as he steps back to stretch out a wing, insisting that they go ahead.

“All ready, Dean?”

There’s something akin to nervousness in his expression, but he’s smiling, and the rosy tint to his skin only serves to make him look even more endearing.

“All ready!”

Kalin nibbles his hair on the way out, messing it up.

“I said I was sorry.

~

Dean doesn’t know half the people in the hall. It’s just hoards and hoards of men and women that he doesn’t recognize at all, all wearing fancy clothes and talking about him, and it’s a weird feeling having complete strangers actually care.

The moment he steps in, there’s a collective silence, and everybody turns. He’s struck with a total loss of direction. They look like they’re expecting something.

“Hi!” He waves, and the silence is broken by adoring laughter. Some wave back. He breathes a sigh of relief.

The stone tiles click under his feet as he walks forward, smiling at everybody he passes and trying not to look as impatient as he feels. His dad’s been telling him all week that people need time to mingle and settle down. They’ve had all day to settle down, why can’t they just get to the ceremony part?

Everybody wishes him a happy birthday and, the more faces he sees, the more smiles directed his way, the better he feels. Maybe this isn’t so bad. They all look happy, and he’s happy, and it’s... nice.

“Mama, where’s Sammy?”

“I think he’s with your dad.”

“Where’s Dad?”

Mary giggles and scans the crowd. He wishes he were taller. It takes her a minute, but then recognition sparks in her eyes, and she points. “Right over there, talking with Bobby.”

“Uncle Bobby’s here, too?!”

“Of course he is, Dean!”

“You didn’t tell me that.”

He rushes away, walking as fast as he can without causing a scene.  Familiar laughter hits his ears before he actually sees anything, and there’s Bobby, gruff as always, dressed up in a way that Dean never thought he would see.

“Uncle Bobby!” He throws himself at the man’s legs, and there’s a rough chuckle. He’s being picked up before he can protest.

“Hey there, Your Highness. I think I owe someone a ‘happy birthday’.”

Dean just grins and slips his arms around Bobby’s neck, breathing in deep and snuggling close for a brief moment.

“Is Sammy here?”

Right on cue, there’s a little whine, and Dean pulls back enough so he can see his brother, cradled against his dad’s chest. John steps closer and Sam opens up his eyes to stare at his brother, giving a joyful giggle and reaching up with tiny hands.

“Ya like my outfit?” Dean asks. Bobby brings him closer, close enough that Sam can wrap his fingers around Dean’s sleeve.

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

Mary steps up, emerging from the crowd and sending Dean a look that has him biting his lip. She smiles and opens her arms for Sam, giving John a kiss when she leans over. Dean gags and sticks out his tongue, and Bobby chuckles, his chest vibrating against Dean’s side.

“I know that Ellen’s here, somewhere.” Mary sighs, scanning the crowd again. John makes a little noise of affirmation.

“I haven’t seen her.” He pauses. “You know that she isn’t really fond of big parties.”

“But she wouldn’t miss this.”

Dean wiggles, silently asking to be put down, and Bobby obeys. It’s even worse down here. He can’t see anything but dresses; bright colors in every direction. And he has no idea what Ellen would be wearing. He takes a few steps forward.

“Maybe we should go find her before we start. Don’t want to accidently start without her.” Mary is already heading back into the crowd.

John nods. “Dean, would you hold your brother for a few minutes?”

Dean holds up his arms, grinning as the familiar weight settles against him. Sam blinks and makes a soft cooing sound, reaching for Dean’s face.

“Are you excited? I am.” He looks up, and his parents are already gone. “I wonder what your Phoenix will be like. Mama says that they’re like a perfect match. Ya know like chocolate and cake.”

Sam just smiles.

“Oh yeah, you’ve never had chocolate cake. It’s good! But all the adults say that if you eat too much, your teeth fall out.”

He looks around at the floor. If he sits down, his mom will get mad, but he has no idea how long he’s going to be standing here. He really, really wants to just get his egg. He hasn’t slept well in a week because of the excitement, and the moment is so close he can taste it.

Most of the guest’s birds are outside, but there’s a few here and there, plucking at the feathers under their wings and nipping at any dirt they may find.

Sam burbles and shuts his eyes.

“Sam, you have you be awake for this!”

His brother holds it for a few more seconds before he gives in and stares up at Dean’s face.

“I’ll never forgive you if you fall asleep.”

A younger girl, maybe in her teens, wanders by with her mom, and her smile is so wide there are dimples in her cheeks. When she sees Dean she gives a shy wave, and he goes to respond, only to find that he can’t move his arms, so he smiles. She giggles and disappears.

A few more minutes, that’s all it takes. Ellen is coming up to greet him before he knows it; John and Mary following close behind. Dean has no idea where Uncle Bobby went, but he doesn’t even think about it as his hair is ruffled.

Hey.

“I think we’re almost ready.” Mary pipes up as she lifts Sammy out of Dean’s arms. It feels cold, suddenly, and his arms are sore from the sudden weightlessness. His baby brother isn’t exactly light. His parents make it look so easy.

“But what is almost, Mama?” He whines, and Ellen huffs.

“Do I get a ‘hello’?”

“Oh, sorry.” He lifts his arms and she crouches down to embrace him. “Hi, Ellen.”

She smells like spices and leather and those drinks that she always serves at the Roadhouse. Alcohol or whatever it’s called. He breathes in deep and she squeezes him tight. “Happy birthday, honey.”

“Thank you.” It’s a reflex response, more than anything.

It’s dizzying to be let go, but he takes it in stride. The room is quieting down. There’s a pulse of murmurs, but no longer ten billion loud conversations all going on at the same time. Dean is honestly shocked that Sammy hasn’t started crying yet. Even when Dean speaks a little too loud his brother will whine, but apparently having noise coming in all directions has no affect.

Well, fine.

John only needs to clear his throat, and the murmuring turns to silence. It’s amazing. Dean’s dad is amazing. One day, when he’s big and strong and grown up, Dean is going to be just like his dad, and he’s going to make sure everybody is happy, and he’s going to throw parties for everybody, and he’ll be the best king that anybody has ever seen.

And he’ll be taller.

“I think we’ve all waited long enough.” John says, and everybody cheers, Dean included. Finally, finally, finally.

“Now, Dean, if you please,” And everybody clears a path to the center, and suddenly Dean is nervous because every single eye is on him and it’s weird.

He almost stumbles when he starts to walk. Everybody told him to walk slowly, even though he’s excited, and as he tries, he ends up walking at a molasses-pace. Mary steps up next to him to urge him on. He brushes it off and tries to play it cool, as princes should, even as he hurries up.

Now he’s allowed to sit. There’s a silk pillow on the floor, looking really odd in the middle of the hall, but Dean claims it as his and crosses his legs as he finally rests. It makes him even smaller, with everybody else in the room standing and looking down on him, but he feels like a giant. He’s the most important person here.

There are a few moments of quiet murmuring, and then the ceremony just begins, and Chuck, the resident prophet-slash-magician-slash-writer is walking forward, cradling a white-wrapped bundle in his arms. Dean’s heart taps against his ribcage like it wants to escape and fly free. He tries not to squirm in place.

“Dean Winchester, son of John and Mary Winchester, as a symbol of your growth, and as a coming-of-age, a welcome to true prince-hood,” Chuck has a tendency of rambling, and this is in no way an exception. He clears his throat and looks around awkwardly. “I present to you your very own, one-of-a-kind Phoenix egg.”

He leans forward to slide the bundle into Dean’s arms. It’s warm, so incredibly warm, like the fires it was born from.

The room bursts into applause, elated for their prince, but that’s only the beginning.

Carefully, Dean peels the wrappings away, revealing the polished sheen of the egg’s surface to the world. It stares back at him, solid and unmistakable gold, pure as it could be, not even a spot of another color marking its shell. Dean has never heard of a golden egg and, as far as the reactions in the room go, neither has anybody else. John looks down at him proudly, and Mary has covered her mouth to mask her subtle gasp of awe.

It’s even hotter without the blanket. Dean runs his hands down the sides. It’s perfectly smooth under his touch, like glass, not even a bump or dent to show that it isn’t.

“Now,” Chuck allows him a few minutes to inspect it, as all children need to, and his audience stands around patiently. “It can’t hatch without your help.”

Hesitantly, Dean taps at the shell, but nothing happens. He looks up at Chuck, practically vibrating with excitement. “What do I do?”

“Introduce yourself.”

Dean blinks, but doesn’t question what Chuck says. Chuck is smart and kind, and one time he made Dean a cupcake out of thin air because he could, and it had pink icing that tasted like chocolate and it made no sense.

“Hi.” He looks at the egg and wiggles. “I’m Dean. Winchester, I mean. Dean Winchester.”

For a moment the room is so quiet you could hear the buzz of a bee, and Dean is starting to wonder if he did something wrong, but then the egg grows warmer, a barely noticeable peak. It moves, just barely, and the shell cracks.

Everybody watches, and Dean’s face lights up, smile growing wider as the hatching continues.

It cracks and cracks and cracks until it isn’t possible for it to break any more, and then abruptly disintegrates, turning to ash and creating a mess on the floor and all over Dean’s legs.

Left in its place, uncurling from its cramped position, is Dean’s Phoenix.

He’s expecting it to rise, to shake the ashes off of its feathers and stretch so everybody can see how bright it is; yellow or orange or red, or maybe something rare like blue. Instead, despite how Dean can see the black particles falling from its wings, it remains a solid, devastating black.

It’s the most beautiful thing that Dean has ever seen.

It turns to him, eyes a dark and bloody shade of red, and the entire room has not said a word. There is no applause or whistles or congratulations. Instead, they all just stare, even as Dean lifts a hand and strokes the top of its head.

“Hi.” He’s grinning so wide it hurts his cheeks.

It squawks and steps away so it can fully shake itself off. Dean waits. Patiently, he waits until it settles down in front of him.

Impala.

He doesn’t know how he knows, as the bird hasn’t so much as opened its beak, but he just knows.

“Your name’s Impala?”

She nods. Dean knows it’s a she now, and he can really appreciate the gleam of her feathers, the brightness of her eyes.

“I’m Dean.”

She nods again, cool and collected but with something that looks like a smile. It’s in her eyes, and Dean doesn’t know how that works, but it just makes her even lovelier. He’d never expected a girl Phoenix. She’s perfect.

There’s still silence. Finally, he notices the fact that people around him seem to have just stopped breathing altogether, and his eyebrows draw together in a frown. He looks up, glances about while Impala plucks at the feathers under her wings.

Mary and John begin speaking in hushed voices.  Dean strains to hear, tilting his head to the side. The room becomes more and more charged as the seconds tick by, and soon everybody is murmuring and whispering amongst each other.

“Have you ever seen such a thing?” Some say, while others just shake their heads. Dean hears a “What does it mean?”

What does what mean? He got his Phoenix, just like he was supposed to. She’s healthy and beautiful and the same size as him and everything worked out perfectly. But everybody looks near panic, and Chuck is just staring at the bird, at Dean, back and forth, like he’s lost something and is trying to find it.

“Maybe there was a mistake.” John’s voice can easily be heard over the others in the room, and a hush spreads through the crowd.

“There’s no such thing as a mistake.” Chuck pipes up.

“I see no other explanation.”

“Maybe it’s just really rare. Maybe there’s a defect. It could be anything; a number of things.”

“I used to read about Phoenixes when I was a boy. My father told stories to me, read about their births and their creation. Never in my life have I heard of one that came out black.”

“This could be the first.”

John is losing his patience. “Why would my son – the Prince – have a Phoenix that is-“

Mary places a hand on his arm, calming. “John, take a breath, calm down.”

Impala has wandered closer to Dean, head resting against his side. Dean automatically reaches out to smooth a hand down her back. He doesn’t see what the problem is, but that’s his dad’s serious voice, and his mom is trying to soothe him but she doesn’t look any more confident.

Still, his mom comes and crouches in front of him, her dress pooling around her legs and spilling onto the floor. “Impala, you said?”

The bird nods, cooing softly, and Mary reaches out to tap her beak. “Welcome to our family, Impala.”

“Mary, we can’t just-“

Having finally had enough of this, of John spewing out negativity while the entire room watches, Mary draws him to the side, hand around his back. She places a quick kiss to his cheek before she begins speaking, and it seems to calm him down just enough.

“We can, and we will.” She glances over at Dean, at Chuck, who still looks perplexed. “You can’t argue with destiny, John. She’s a gorgeous bird.”

“She’s dark, like them, like those winged starwalkers.”

“So be it. Dean loves her, already. And I see nothing wrong with her feathers being different.”

“He’s the Sun.” John’s whisper is harsh. “This entire land is made up of light. Everything from the water in the streams, to the butterfly-eared foxes, to the walls of this castle, all of it is bright. The prince having a black bird, Mary, that’s-“

“Well, it happened.” She says. “And as far as I can tell, she’s completely normal. What do you want to do, John, take her away? Fate is fate.”

He sighs, not happy, but unwilling to argue when there are people still surrounding them. “Sometimes I think you’re taking his side on purpose.”

“I’m just being the reasonable one.” Her lips twitch in a teasing smile. He leans in for another kiss, this time pecking her lips. She smiles into it, accepting the gesture with a flutter of her eyelashes, leaving butterfly kisses on his cheeks when she pulls back. “Now go clear this all up before somebody faints.”

“Nobody is going to faint, Mary.”

“I don’t know; you’re pretty scary, all brooding and serious. Go.” She ushers him away with a little hand gesture, and he grumbles under his breath in a very un-kingly manner, but obeys.

If it weren’t for the simple fact that Dean was the prince, most of the people in the room would have probably left. They would already be gone; having rushed off to tell their family and anybody who would listen that Dean Winchester’s Phoenix was black. But Dean is loved, and John is frightening when he broods, so nobody makes a move.

“Alright, everyone, how about a congratulations?” John practically shouts. He stands tall and proud, speaks like he’s proud, but the glances he keeps sparing in Dean’s direction are anything but.

Hesitantly, there is applause. It starts as one clap, somewhere off in the crowd, and builds until every single person is cheering and clapping and whistling. Dean soaks it all up with a prize-winning smile, and when he stands, bracelets chiming, Impala stands with him.

For some reason, though nobody in the room knows why, they look like a pair. The prince and his bird, a true pair, his red and gold clothing matching her eyes; the darkness of her making him seem all the more bright.

What started out as hesitant cheering turns into real, genuine congratulations.

~

Across the sky, where the world darkens and stars shine bright, the Moon is preparing for the most important time of his life. His fourth birthday. The day he gets his wings. The lumps on his shoulder blades are starting itch and bulge uncomfortably against his clothes, and he just wants it to be over; wants to have beautiful feathers like his brothers and sisters.

It’s exciting, of course, but also terrifying. The process isn’t easy, nor is it painless, nor is it quick. Having limbs quite literally burst through your skin is very unappealing, and nobody comes out of the experience with a story about how good it felt.

Castiel squeezes Joshua’s hand as they walk down the hall to his room. The candles on the walls are beautiful, but right now he’s too nervous to really appreciate the way they flicker in the darkness.

“Gabriel told me that having your wings come out hurts. He told me that he bled when he got his.”

Joshua chuckles softly. “There’s always a little price to pay when it comes to something like this. It hurts, and you bleed, and sometimes you end up bed-ridden, but it’s all a passing thing, and when you look in the mirror and find two beautiful white wings staring back at you, it’s all worth it.”

Castiel nods. Of course, yes, of course it’s worth it.

“Everybody seems very excited for me to finally have mine.” He smiles, a little thing. It’s very rare, and Joshua takes a minute to take it in.

“Of course they are, Castiel. You’re the prince.”

“I’m excited.” Castiel admits.

“I know.” Joshua squeezes his hand and pulls him aside as they finally reach his room. The door creaks as it’s pushed open, the sound louder in the empty hall. An extravagant four poster bed awaits, a bucket of warm water and a pile of plush towels already set out.

“My shoulders are really beginning to ache.” Castiel’s little face is scrunched up in pain, and Joshua clicks his tongue. Any time, now.

“Drop your shirt wherever you like and go lay down. Make yourself comfortable.”

Castiel does as he’s told. The moment the door is closed, he’s unbuttoning his tunic. He grimaces as he goes to pull his arms out, but Joshua makes no move to step forward and help him. It takes a few minutes, but soon the shirt is folded neatly at the foot of the bed, which he crawls on to, flopping down on his stomach and cushioning his chin on his arms.

The bumps on Castiel’s back, where the wings break through, are large and swollen. The skin around them is red and irritated from being stretched. Castiel whimpers, but bites his lip quickly after. A prince shouldn’t whine and snivel when such a wonderful thing is happening.

“Gabriel,” Castiel murmurs after a while, voice muffled by his arms while Joshua paces around the room, grabbing blankets and any extra things he thinks will help, “says that my wings are going to glow, because being the Moon makes everything glow.”

He’s such a curious child, yet he manages to stay polite and speak in serious tones. It’s incredibly endearing, and Joshua smiles again, his wings fluttering behind his back.

“Nobody knows.”

“My dad,” That makes Joshua stop. “He had beautiful wings, didn’t he?”

“Your father had the most magnificent wings that any of us had ever seen.”

“Tell me about them. Please.”

“They were enormous.” Joshua comes to sit next to the bed, on the stool he’s pulled up. He gets a far away looks in his eyes, and Castiel peaks out, turns his head so he can look at his mentor while he talks. “Large enough that he could wrap them around all of you, all of his children. And the color – oh – they were the most pure, the purest shade of white I have ever seen.”

After a moment of silence – and Joshua gives the boy all of the time he needs – there’s a small murmur. “You have beautiful wings, Joshua.”

“Thank you, son.”

Sweat is beginning to break out on Castiel’s brow. His breathing is coming out shaky, though he tries to hide it, and Joshua knows that it’s time.

“Rest your face back in your arms, Castiel.” Joshua leans forward as Castiel obeys, and runs a hand through his hair to soothe him. “Try your best to take deep breaths.”

A thick inhale and slow whoosh of an exhale follow.

“Keep yourself like this and everything will be fine. I’m going to touch them, now, alright?”

Castiel swallows and nods into the pillow.

The second Joshua’s finger even grazes his skin, Castiel is whimpering and hissing under his breath.

“This won’t make the process painless, but it should help.” Joshua murmurs. And then his fingers glow, softly, and he rubs circles over the now even more swollen lumps. Castiel sighs and relaxes slightly.

“Allow yourself to relax, prince.”

As he does, as he sags even more and tries to bury himself in the mattress, there’s movement. Something shifts under the skin, a little ball, a point pressing against the top and making a peak. Castiel balls his hands into fists as it pushes through the skin, and Joshua lets out a mental sigh of relief. Sometimes, when somebody is unlucky, the first touch of skin is rather ‘dramatic’ and more or less bursts. Those are always the worst, and the damage is nearly impossible to take care of with a fresh wing in the way.

The other one does the same, a gentle push and it’s free, but they both stop there.

Castiel is almost trembling, and Joshua watches them carefully. The wings are out, just the tips, and this is usually the part where the whole thing begins to push through, but they both just stop.

Sometimes assistance is also required.

Joshua rubs his hands together, murmurs something inaudible under his breath, and his palms grow warm. He holds them over the wings, makes gentle, tiny upward motions to guide the feathers out, and it all happens at once.

They burst up, quick and easy, and then fall limp, hanging over Castiel’s sides. Tiny little things to go with his tiny body; wet and sticky and fragile.

And black. Very, very black. Not even a trace of white on them.

Joshua swallows. When Castiel turns his head back up there are tear tracks on his cheeks, but he’s smiling.

“Black.” He murmurs. “I’ve never heard of black before.”

Joshua considers lying for a moment. He considers telling Castiel that while black wings are extremely rare, they do exist and there have been others before. But that would be a lie. Never, in any book ever written, on any man or woman that ever existed, have there been black wings.

And Joshua can’t lie to his prince. “Neither have I.”

Castiel seems a little crestfallen, obviously hurt that his wings don’t glow like Gabriel told him they might, and Joshua immediately tries to soothe him even though he, himself, is terrified as to what this all means.

“We just need to get them cleaned up.” He leans over the pull the bucket of warm water over to his side, pulling the already present cloth out and ringing it before he brings it to Castiel’s back. There’s blood already trickling down his back and staining the sheets.

“Just stay still.” Joshua says, rubbing at the tender skin, removing the blood. Once the stains are gone he touches the scars, the places where the skin burst. Slowly, it mends back together, sealing around the base of Castiel’s wings.

Careful, making sure his touch is as light as it can be, he grabs a hold of the wing closest to him, cradling it and lifting it just so.

“This might feel strange.” He drops the cloth back in the bucket, reaching for a brush and smoothing it once over the dark feathers. It twitches weakly in his grasp, and Castiel shivers, body itching to curl into a more comfortable position.

“I’m tired, yet I haven’t even moved since we got here. I’ve been lying here like a lazy dog.”

“It’s a very strenuous process. No need to feel bad, Castiel. I’ll finish brushing them out, make them all nice for you, and then you can sleep for as long as you like.”

“But I was going to go see the fish today.” His eyes are already droopy.

Joshua smiles, almost finished with his brief grooming. “I’m sure the fish can wait just one more day. And then you can show off to them.”

“Hmm.”

Joshua leans over the bed to brush out the other wing, opening his mouth to comment on their good health, but Castiel has already fallen asleep.

~

“Josh, my man!”

Joshua steps out of the room to find an audience already gathered. Gabriel, Michael, and little Anna, Balthazar looking pouty in the corner, wanting to see his brother.

“It all went well?” Michael asks, face passive as usual. “No complications?”

There’s a bit of blood on Joshua’s hands. Anna is staring at it cautiously, curious but also afraid. He rubs his hands together to smear it away.

“Nothing went wrong. The skin didn’t burst, and the blood loss was minimal.”

“Then why do you look so anxious?”

“Yeah, why? And can we see his wings? He’s sleeping, but we can take a peak, right?”

Joshua has never been one for jumping around a subject, especially when it’s as confusing and possibly dangerous as this.

“They’re black.”

Gabriel blinks. “Beg pardon?”

“They’re black. Darker than the boy’s hair.”

“No, no, no, that’s impossible. It’s in our blood, man. They’re always white. That’s how life is.”

“Well, apparently something in your brother is different.”

“Well, I mean, he’s the Moon, right? Could that do it, being some big entity like that?”

“It’s still never happened, before.”

Anna is looking between them, hands fisted in Gabriel’s pants, waiting for a second before she asks, “Is Castiel in trouble?” which causes Gabriel to promptly lean down and lift her up.

“Nah, sugar, he’s just...”

He looks to Joshua for help, but all he can do is stare back. Michael remains silent, staring at the door of the bedroom where his younger brother currently sleeps.

“So what do we do, exactly?”

“Nothing. We do absolutely nothing, Gabriel. The boy is as he is, and nothing we do will be able to stop it.”

“But everybody will see!”

“And so they will.”

There is complete, absolute silence for a moment, before Joshua moves to usher them away, following their lead and leaving the prince to rest.

“Despite their color, something about them is absolutely beautiful. I don’t know why, but I feel like it means something.”




=== 17 Years Later

“And then the lamb, because it was a complete and utter wuss, decided to run away from the wolf, because the wolf was, ya know, a wolf, and-“

“Dean, you absolutely suck at storytelling.”

“Hey, you’re the one who asked me to read it to begin with.”

“I asked you to read it, not start making it up half way through. And Mom told you like, three days ago that you might have to read a story to the kids at the festival. This is practice.”

“I never agreed to that. And the ceremony’s in a month.”

“Well sucks to be you, because princes have responsibilities, and some of the kids are going to be terrified of the darkness, so suck it up.”

Dean sighs, a heavy thing, and leans against the tree at his back. There’s a breeze today, and it feels wonderful against his face when he shuts his eyes.

“You could read it, you know. You’ve got a better reading voice than I do, and you’re a prince, too.”

“I’m not the Sun. I don’t glow.”

Dean hums his agreement, but keeps his eyes shut. His voice is a quiet, content murmur. “S’it weird that I’ve never noticed the whole glow thing?”

“Nah. It’s really subtle.”

“Good, because I don’t.”

Sam shrugs, though Dean can’t see it, and whistles a light tune under his breath. There’s a rustle, and when Dean cracks an eye open, Kaethis stands there, yellow feathers more ruffled than usual. He coos and sits down next to Sam without hesitation, letting his friend run gentle fingers through his feathers.

“Kaethis, you seen Impala anywhere?”

Dean gets a tiny, negative sound in response, and sighs, pushing himself off the ground. The grass turns a rich shade of green as his fingers brush against it.

“Alright, well I’m off. Later, squirt.”

“Bye.” Sam seems to be drifting off in the warmth of the sunlight, and Dean brushes a hand over the kid’s forehead before he leaves. His brother purrs, his entire body warmed, and mumbles a thanks that Dean doesn’t even hear.

It’s a really lazy day.

He walks out the garden gate, quiet as possible for no reason at all. The courtyard is empty, save for a few guards standing by the doors.

The fountain stands tall as usual; pure marble, a stone phoenix mid-flight, curling into a circle, suspended by magic, the light pouring from its mouth and into the base below coming from seemingly nowhere at all.

Dean waves his hand at the bird and it flaps its wings once, rippling and shimmering before reverting back to stillness. The guards smile at the display, and he gives them a little wave as he continues on, out the gates and onto the path that leads to town.

And then he turns, off the beaten path and a few steps into the grass, heading for the line of trees only a few feet away from the back of the castle. He could have taken the proper route and walked all the way down the road until he reached the fork, but this way’s faster.

And he really doesn’t want people seeing him. That too.

The forest isn’t a scary place by any means. The trees are spaced just enough to let the light filter down through the leaves, which are brilliant shades of green, red, and gold. Very different from the stories that most all parents tell their children.

Dean’s feet take him where he wants to go. He takes his time, wandering and looking for birds. They sing at him and come down to flutter around his head. A rabbit hops by, blood red, little white feet stamping at the ground in greeting when it spots him. This right here is where he feels most at home, surrounded by nothing but free air.

He has a spot – his spot. It’s a small clearing where the grass turns gold, and there’s a tree in the center that blooms an impossible violet. Not many people come to the forest, but it still strikes Dean as strange that he has never seen signs of another person in this spot. Probably because of the tigers.

He passes a patch of marigolds on his way there, and swears he sees a tail disappear into the underbrush when his eyes flicker away.

The tree waits for him, still and patient as always, and as he lowers himself to the ground, leaning back against its trunk, he allows himself to breathe. There’s no noise, nothing, just the warmth of the light and the wind making the grass brush against his palms.

He shuts his eyes, and immediately sees, the world, the sky; tubes and patterns of colors and sounds that make no sense yet he somehow understands. There’s a soft growl, and he doesn’t need to open his eyes to see the tiger approaching. It curls into his side, tail swishing against his legs. He reaches out with his senses and it purrs.

“That you, Maddi?”

She rests her chin on his calves and he moves a hand to the top of her head. Her fur is soft between his fingers, luscious and beautiful.

“You seen Impala?” He asks, and she makes a negative sound under her breath. He sighs, flexing his fingers.

Whistling for her is the only answer, but she should know by now that he expects her here. He purses his lips and barely makes a sound, but she’s there instantly, fire flickering around her wings. Now he opens his eyes, taking her in, completely out of place in the bright colors around them, but still beautiful in every way.

“Hey, silly girl.” He sits up and she leans down to press her beak to his forehead. His free hand comes up to slide down her neck. “Where’ve you been?”

Chances are he’ll never know where she slips off to, but he can make small talk, at least.

She squawks and he nods as if he understands. “Yeah, of course.”

He receives a well-deserved nip to the ear in response.

~

The festival is sort of a huge deal. A really, really huge deal that only happens every few hundred years or something like that. Dean’s been filled in on the history so many times he could recite them in his sleep, but it still baffles him that nobody actually has a set date for these things.

Whenever the Sun and Moon are both present not-in-the-sky, they need to meet. It’s required that when they reach a certain age, they meet each other during the Eclipse. Which happens because they meet, and Dean is certain it’s magic that causes it because it doesn’t make any sense, otherwise.

The entire world goes dark. Not just darker like the other half of the sky, but quite literally black. They hang lights all throughout the city so people can actually celebrate. There are games and prizes and food and dancing and it’s an incredibly huge deal, but the kids are usually a bit freaked out by not being able to see their own hands in front of their faces.

There are rules, of course, but mostly just a gigantic party. The only rule that people tend to care about is the ‘do not fly’ rule. It’s the most prominently enforced one. The dangers of heading off into the air when there’s nothing to guide your eyes is dangerous in ways the adults can barely convey to the children.

Usually they simplify it: if you don’t want to die, don’t go flying. Simple as that.

The actual ceremony is quiet and serious. The Sun and Moon approach each other and agree to uphold the balance of the sky. The most beautiful part, as Dean has heard, is the marks that they leave on one another, little black tattoos that they can place anywhere they wish.

Dean really is not sure if he should be excited or nervous. He knows nothing of the so-called Moon, and as far as he’s concerned, the guy – or girl, actually – could be a total and complete prick. But it’s not like it matters. As far as history is concerned, once the Eclipse ends the Sun and Moon never see each other again. It’s some whole awareness thing, where they know they exist but just don’t really care.

It makes Dean less freaked out about the whole thing, but it’s still weird to think that he’s going to be meeting someone as strong as he is.

Dad’s always telling him about the winged freaks. It’s confusing, since his mom seems to just adore them and says they’re beautiful guardians. Dean can’t really say, since he’s never met one in person. The idea, though, of having wings on your back, being able to fly on your own without help from a Phoenix.

It’s cool.

He wonders what the wings looks like, if they hurt.

But that’s nothing compared to his curiosity of their half of the world. He can see it from his bedroom window, the border where the light blue turns dark, where the clouds are replaced with shimmering stars. How do they stand it, being in darkness? Dean doesn’t know how he would survive without the warmth of the sunlight that he provides.

Do they have tigers over there? Can plants even grow?

Rumors say that the Moon is the most beautiful creature to ever walk in the Sky. According to legend, they glow with a silver light, making them ethereal and graceful like flowing water.

Rumors also say that the Sun is the most beautiful. Or handsome, in Dean’s case.

He wonders why, sometimes, in the deepest corners of his mind, why the Sun and Moon are never friends in the tales he hears of. Two beings filled with light and purpose that keep the entire world in check? It sounds like they could... work.

But everything always has traditions, and if they’re not supposed to be friends then so be it.

Still, he wonders.

~

Impala prefers the castle rooftop to the forest floor, and though Dean will always prefer trees and tigers to stone, he will admit that it’s one of his favorite places to be. From up here he can see the entire town, the castle square, the forest, and the borders of their country, where the ground ends and the sky begins.

It’s not very big, this place. It seems so much larger when he’s on the ground.

Dean sighs, resting his palms flat on the cold stone, sitting over the ledge and swinging his legs back and forth. Impala perches next to him, completely at home with the wind ruffling her feathers and the people looking like tiny ants.

“Do you think the other Sun’s got nervous? Hundreds of years ago, do you think they ever wondered what the Moon would think of them?”

He doesn’t really understand why he keeps talking about the Moon as though he’s better than he is. They’re equal.

She flicks her red eyes over to him but doesn’t move her head, to show that she’s listening.

“Because sometimes I wonder,” he toys with the gold cuffs of his tunic, “why they never spoke afterward. I don’t really care, it’s not like they should have, but I wonder.”

A warm breeze brushes through his hair and he smiles. “Sammy still wants me to read those kids a story. I’ll probably end up doing it anyways.”

It’s been on his mind far too much considering it’s a whole month away. He has time to plan, and time to relax, and if he thinks about it, it isn’t that much of a big deal. “It’s a really huge deal.”

Impala nods in agreement, spreading out her wings when the wind picks up. Dean doesn’t need to think very hard to make his decision.

Maybe the forest is second, and the tower third. Nothing compares to flying through the sky, completely free.

~

The month passes far too quickly. There’s no time to relax when the Eclipse is coming, and some people that work in the castle get barely any sleep. There are events to be planned and showmen to hire and food to taste, and absolutely no time for anything else.

Dean is pulled this way and that by people he barely knows. He waits patiently while his measurements are taken, but pulls faces when nobody is looking. His legs are sore from standing while fabric is sewn around him.

The only relief he gets is watching Sam get the same treatment, and his brother can do nothing while he laughs into the back of his hand.

Sam’s bitch face is at full capacity. He gets stabbed lightly with a pin and yelps. It’s the most fun Dean has all week.

He helps with the decorating. Lights are required on every house and every corner, and they need to be in perfect condition while maintaining their beauty and whatever color scheme the grand designers decide. Dean doesn’t who who comes up with the theme of the carnival, but they do a damn good job of it. The place looks amazing.

There are candles lined up on every table, be it a merchant’s stand or a massive array of food, there are always candles. The lights strung up along the houses criss-cross in the square, shielding the sky and giving off the illusion of stars.

It’s a respect thing. The Moon’s people are coming over here this year, and overwhelming them with bright golds and reds is a tad disrespectful. Dean still thinks it’s all bullshit. Those lights are probably the only things that they get. Everything else is covered in brightly colored ribbons.

Chuck creates floating orbs, which wander aimlessly around like small faeries. If touched, they become a companion, a permanent light source for whoever claimed them. Dean likes them the most, though they do seem to avoid him.

It’s all an on-going process for weeks. Every time Dean goes for a walk there’s something new set up somewhere.

Today he’s having his outfit checked over. Again.

“Dean, honey, you need to stand still.”

“Mom, I’m standing as still as I can.”

“Lift up your arm- thank you.  Goodness, Becky has really outdone herself this time.”

Dean chuckles and shuffles his feet, which gets him a nice little slap on the back of his legs from where his mom crouches. “It’s my first and last Eclipse, everything needs to be-“

“Perfect.”

“Yeah, perfect.”

She stands up and brushes invisible dirt off of his shoulders. “I think we’re done.”

“Actually done, or just done today?”

His mom has a beautiful smile, and he can’t help but return it when he sees it. “Completely finished, you’re all set.”

Dean twitches his fingers and a mirror slides into place in front of him so he can look himself over. It’s all trimmed with gold; brown pants, a white tunic, a red coat that reaches his ankles. All trimmed around the edges with pure gold threat. The coat, especially, with a design around the collar and the end of his sleeves.

When he wiggles, feeling only slightly ridiculous, it swishes and flows. He smirks. “Awesome.”

“I can think of a dozen words better but, yes, awesome.”

There’s a moment of silence while Dean turns this way and that, watching how the coat flows, the way it fits him perfectly, not covering too much of his chest, making sure his underclothes are visible. Gorgeous. He’s not going to say it out loud, but it’s gorgeous.

“Dean, turn around.” Mary steps up and pulls a mirror behind him so he can see his back, and his eyes totally don’t widen, but they do because wow.

There’s a sun stitched onto the back in the same gold thread, all obviously done by hand. Becky never uses magic on important pieces like this.

“Becky, oh my Gods.”

“You’ll need to thank her when you see her next, Dean. You need to, this is above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

“I will, yeah, I will.”

~

The ceremony is tomorrow. Dean picks at the grass at his feet, tucking his feet under him where he sits in the garden. Sam flips the page of his book, licking the end of his finger to make it stick.

“So, you ready?” Sam doesn’t take his eyes off of the words even when he talks directly to Dean. Dean shrugs, even though Sam can’t see him.

“What’s there to be ready for?”

The book is lowered, and Sam is presented, wearing the best bitch face to date, nose crinkled up in disbelief. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe that you’re taking place in an ancient ritual in front of the entire population of both sides of the Sky.”

Dean actually, honestly, hadn’t thought about that part. He can handle a crowd, that isn’t a big deal, but it isn’t just his people watching.

“I don’t even have to do anything, Sam.”

Sam stares. “Are you purposely being an idiot?”

“Yep.” Dean flashes a sarcastic smile. Sam deflates.

“You’re nervous.”

Dean laughs, clearing his throat to try and play it off. “Of course I’m nervous, that’s sort of a normal reaction, don’t you think?”

“So, what is it? The crowd, the darkness, what?”

“Would you laugh if I told you it was the Moon?”

“No, but I would ask why.”

Dean sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Have you not heard the stories? Most beautiful being to ever exist, etcetera etcetera?”

Sam puts the book down, dog-earing his page.

“People say the same thing about you.”

“Yeah, but I’m just me.

Sam just rolls his eyes and gets up.

“Hey, where are you going?” Dean makes a move to get up and follow but Sam waves him down.

“I promised Jess I’d take her out for lunch today. And you need some time alone.”

~

It’s today. In less than twelve hours, the Eclipse will begin. Already the sky is going dark. The townspeople are restless and nervous, a mixture of excitement and fear. None of them have experienced this before.

Dean has the strangest urge to just not get out of bed. It’s cozy and warm under his blankets, and the mere thought of leaving his safe haven of sheets is beyond him, but he knows he has to. It’s going to be a long, long day. Or night. The Eclipse makes it difficult to tell.

He throws his legs over the sides and pops his back, pushing his shoulders together. A little mumble is all it takes for the room to be as warm as his bed. Thank the Gods for magic. There’s a note on his bedside table, written on crumbling parchment that can only mean one person.

“What is it now, Chuck?” Of course, his voice is lost in the emptiness of his room, and he scans the page quickly to he can actually get ready for the biggest day of his life.

Dean,

            Your clothes should be sitting at the foot of your bed. Ellen made breakfast, it’s waiting downstairs. Don’t take too long.
        
                                             - Edlund’

Chuck adopted that name for reasons that Dean still does not understand. There are things that people don’t tell him, and usually it’s the things that are guaranteed to drive him completely insane. As far as he knows, Chuck’s last name is Shurley, but when he asks people just say it’s a nickname.

It’s one Hell of a nickname considering nobody calls him that. He just signs everything with it.

He hurries up, slips his robes on, rakes fingers through his hair, and shuts the door behind him before his dad comes up to properly wake him up. Chuck is waiting, along with his mother and Ellen, the three of them discussing something over bowls of fruit.

“Dean,” Mary stands to hug him, and he wraps her up tight, breathing in the flowery scent of her hair. “I hope you slept well.”

“Morning, Mom.”

She cups his cheek for a second before sitting back down, and Chuck pushes a plate of sweet rolls over from the other side of the table. He wastes no time pulling them closer and shoving one in his mouth. Mary hides her smile around a spoonful of berries.

“So,” he spits a little when he tries to talk, and Ellen narrows her eyes, fully prepared to whack him, he knows, and he swallows quickly, the weight settling in his chest and making him wheeze. “So, what exactly am I doing today?”

Chuck clears his throat. “To be quite honest with you, Dean; nothing. You’ve been trained for the actual ceremony for years, but as far as anything else, you’re allowed to walk around and enjoy the festival until the time comes.”

“Sweet-“

But,” Ellen says, “You still have to follow the rules. That means no flying around or running into the woods. None of us have ever seen darkness like this, it’s not safe.”

Dean scoffs around another bite of bread, not even caring about talking with his mouth full. “M’nt gnna get mvyslf kld.”

All of them look at him like he’s going to do just that and he throws his hands up in surrender, the sleeves of his coat hanging off his wrists and swinging with the movement.

“Okay, okay, I promise I’ll be careful.”

~

There’s no way he can pass this up. He is going to be careful, he’s not stupid, it’s not like he’s going to dive off the edge of the city and let himself freefall, but the opportunity to fly in complete and total darkness, yeah there’s no way he’s letting that slide. It’s a once in a lifetime sort of thing.

It isn’t dark enough yet, but just about. The aura he gives off is actually visible to him, and he stares at his hands as he walks around town. He’s going to look like a giant walking candle if he even steps foot in the shadows.

“Mr. Sun?” He snaps out of his thoughts to see a little girl tugging on the bottom of his coat. “Mr. Sun?”

He smiles, always a sucker for kids, and crouches down to her level. “Hi, sweetheart.”

She blushes right to the tips of her ears and rocks on her heels, and he sees her mother out of the corner of his eye.

“Something wrong?”

She shakes her head and keeps her eyes firmly on the ground, and his smile grows. “I was w’ndering why the sky was so dark. Ma told me to ask you.”

“What’s your name?”

“Sally.”

“Sally, have you ever heard of the Moon?” She nods, biting her lip, still rocking.

“He lives on the other place.”

“That’s right. They’re coming over here today so I can meet them, but the Sky needs to be like this for that to happen.  So it goes like this, so we can meet.”

“Are you gonna be friends?”

His smile falters for a second, and he doesn’t know why. “Maybe.”

“I hope you’re friends, and then they can come and visit all the time, and we can have a lot’a festivals.”

“Me, too.” He doesn’t know why the idea means so much to him, but he’s glad he’s not the only one that desperately wishes it could be so.

He rubs his thumb and index finger together, imagining the feel of a stem rubbing on his skin, and she gasps as a thornless rose appears in his hand. Taking her hand, he curls her small fingers around it, his voice going quiet.

“Now have fun at the festival, Sally.”

She giggles and blushes and runs back to her mom without a word.

~

In the hour, the town is full. The streets are packed with people, not a single person cozy and at home. The lights are all on, music is playing from the town square, children can be heard squealing, all of them having fun with Chuck’s floating lights.

The darkness has settled.

Dean now understands just why so many lights were required. Even one step out of line and he’s blind. He can’t see the castle, despite it being just up the hill. The only reason he can see his hands is because of the glow, but he doubts any of the other people gathered just inside would be able to even see themselves.

The ides is terrifying. The fact that they can celebrate in this says quite a lot. Nobody dares walk out of the light.

Of course he needs to at least show up at the festival. Don’t want to arouse any suspicions, and he wants to see everything in action, he does. The smell of food is thick in the air; roasting meats, sweet cakes, fresh bread. The music is light and bubbly, uplifting; something you can dance to. People are dancing, swinging around with complete strangers, laughing all the while. It definitely helps distract from the absence of light.

Dean’s just happy that the children aren’t crying. He doesn’t know what he would do if all of the kids were scared.

He walks around with his hands behind his back, easily recognized on the street. He gets free samples of every type of food, he feels, being sold. They’re all shoved at him, and he’s not complaining, not in the slightest.

For a moment he hesitates on the edge of the circle where the music is being played, but decides to take his fill from a distance. If he decides to join in he won’t be able to get out, that’s how celebrations work. You’re either in it for the long run or you watch from the sides and clap along to the beat.

But it’s enough. He’s made his presence known. He can sneak away without causing a fuss. If anybody comes looking for him, every person they ask will say ‘Oh, I saw him only a minute ago!’

Still, he takes reasonable precaution, sneaks out of some back alley and into the grassland surrounding the town. Immediately it’s dark, and his heart skips at the instinct to run back to light, to safety.

No way in Hell.

He has no idea where the edge is, and whistles for Impala the moment the lights of the town are dim. She appears instantly, in a flash of fire that hurts his eyes in contrast to the black. She blends in so well he can hardly see her, save for her red eyes.

She nuzzles at his cheek, pressing her beck to his neck and rubbing her feathers against his skin. He laughs, arms wrapped around her neck, face hidden.

“Hey, baby,” he whispers. She purrs and rustles her wings in agitation. He can tell from the feel of her feathers that she’s not too keen on the loss of light. “You ready to go on a little adventure?”

He loves her more than he can put into words, and the way she doesn’t question him, the way she turns and crouches so he may crawl onto her back, proves one of the many reasons why. His faithful Impala. Once he’s settled, they both take a moment to let themselves be rid of the fear, the nerves, and allow the excitement and adrenaline to rule.

The most important rule of all; never, ever go flying.

“Okay,” He breathes out slowly. “Okay, ready when you are.”

She straightens, and he hears rather than sees her wings extend.

Taking off is incredible. He feels nothing but her back beneath his legs, her neck beneath his hands, the feathers soft and warm. The wind hits his face, tickles his cheeks, rustles his hair, but he sees nothing. They’re flying blind, with no direction but forward.

It feels like they’re moving at a molasses-pace, with nothing beneath or above them to gauge how far they’ve gone. Distantly, Dean still hears the music, the occasional laugh or scream, but within no time at all it’s lost to him, and he’s submerged in an endless purgatory.

Dean doesn’t know if he’s feeling fear or excitement, any more.

Impala squeaks below him, and he pats her neck. “You doing all right, girl?”

He can feel her nod, which brings him a small comfort. Screw it all, he’ll never get another chance to do this in his life, may as well enjoy it.

“Nothing but free air, you can have some fun.”

The words aren’t even out of his mouth and she’s tilting, doing a back flip in the air, spinning as she comes up, forcing Dean to hold on tight. His head spins with her, his stomach rolling with nausea. Gods, it’s the most disorienting thing to experience.

And he loves it.

Which is good, since Impala has no intention of stopping. She twirls and flips and shakes, dancing through the Sky. Every now and then, when she twists a certain way, he can see the lights of the town, barely there, as if covered by smog.

And then many things happen at once.

Dean turns to glance at the town, a grin on his face, heart hammering beneath his ribs. Impala twists and turns, there’s a sound Dean hears that comes from neither of them, sounding incredibly close to a voice, and then a collision.

Dean can’t see what Impala collides with, but it lurches him forward just enough, just that perfect amount, so that he slips, fingers reaching desperately for something that isn’t there, and he’s falling, nothing passing him by. The wind dries out his eyes and he squeezes them shut.

Dean Winchester, you are a fucking moron. You’re going to die, nobody will ever find your body, and you’re a fucking moron.  Congratulations.’

He can barely hear his own thoughts, let alone anything else, but suddenly he’s... not falling.

There are arms wrapped around his chest, under his armpits, holding him tight with inhuman strength, something else, wings flapping, a grunt in his ear-

Did his dad follow him out here?

He opens his eyes, only to shut them immediately as bright light burns them. The arms holding him falter, slip, and he panics for a moment, reaching out to try and grab on to whoever it is, wondering why his father would let go.

But instead, his coat is curled around him, an arm slips under his knees, and he’s being cradled. In the air. Against the chest of somebody who he is now certain is not his dad.

Considering he had no idea where he and Impala had gone, how far away they’d gotten from land, it scares him when the person’s feet touch the ground, and he’s lowered, gently, a hand on his waist, one on his shoulder to keep him steady while he regains his footing.

It’s all a blur, a massive blur, and he stumbles back, opening his eyes, ready to praise the person to the high Heavens for saving his life and yell at them for holding him like a girl-

What he sees stops his thought process entirely.

Pale skin, tousled dark hair, and the bluest eyes that Dean has ever seen; darker robes, outlined with a silver glow that makes Dean’s heart stutter; huge, black wings that flutter anxiously and settle, curling around the man’s shoulders. Gorgeous. He’s absolutely gorgeous.

And judging by the way he’s looking at Dean, they’re both on the same page.

“Sun,” the man’s voice is pure velvet, deep and rich like chocolate. Dean’s mouth is completely dry. “Are you alright?”

“Fine,” he responds automatically, still staring. Their eyes lock and don’t so much as flicker away.

The adrenaline wears off. Dean doesn’t even blink, but a memory, quick as a flash, crosses through his mind.

“Now, Dean, one of the most important things about the festival is that our people must stay away from those of the Night. You are not allowed to meet the Moon until the Ceremony begins.”

“Why’s that?”

“Tradition. You are both here to make peace, you must have no further attachment to one another prior to your oath. It could compromise everything.’

So much for that.

“Thank you.” Dean feels like he swallowed sand.

“You’re welcome.” The Moon’s eyebrows furrow, his head tilting to the side ever so slightly. He steps closer. “Is it not a rule among your people not to go flying when the Eclipse begins?”

Dean rubs at his shoulder. “Yeah, I just,”

The man’s eyes bore into him with an astounding amount of intensity.

“Wanted to try it, see what it felt like.” Dean steps even closer, and it surprises him how little he’s bothered by their proximity. “We’re breaking a rule right now.”

The Moon smiles, a tiny quirk of his lips, and Dean swallows. “We are.”

“So...” Dean really needs to stop talking, to just thank the man and be done with it, but the butterflies in his stomach refuse to let up. “Are we... compromising the entire arrangement?”

The man’s eyes flicker to Dean’s lips when he talks, and oh, Gods, give Dean strength or so help him his knees are going to buckle like a newborn lamb’s.

“That depends,” If anything, the Moon’s voice is even lower, now. “Has our meeting changed your opinion of me in a... negative way?”

Oh, Hell no.

“Not exactly.”

Another one of those small smiles, like he isn’t used to showing anything else; like he isn’t used to showing anything above maybe a tiny smirk. “Then I think we’ll be alright.”

“We could just... not tell anybody?” Dean decides it’s the best course of action.

“Hmm,”

Some more silence. It’s black, black, black around them, Dean has no idea where they are, but the glow coming from both of their bodies is enough for him to see the grass under their feet. He clears his throat, opening his mouth to ask what exactly happened in the air, and chokes.

Impala. How did he forget about her?

The Moon stands up straighter, noticing his mood change instantly, fingers twitching at his side like he wants to reach out and soothe him. “What’s the matter?”

“My, my bird,” Dean twists to look around, stepping back, eyes growing wide. “My Phoenix, she hit something, she could have fallen- shit.”

He takes a few steps forward, into the dark abyss, his heart quickening. She could be anywhere, lost or injured, and he’s completely useless, standing here unable to do anything. She could be dead, or endlessly falling, or maybe she hit something dangerous, maybe there was a dragon, maybe it ate her. Dragons haven’t been seen in thousands of years, but it’s a possibility. With each scenario, his panic builds and builds until:

“May I suggest calling her?”

Oh. Oh, right, yeah, yeah he can do that, that’s something he can do. Dean’s voice shakes when he tries to whistle, when he purses his lips and blows, but it’s enough, and Impala appears as she always does, the light from her fire burning his eyes for a split second.

She practically tackles him. Her feathers are still warm as she rams her head in his chest, distressed noises coming loud and clear from her throat.

“Baby, baby calm down.” Dean murmurs, but she remains exceedingly ruffled, flapping about without stopping. “I’m fine, I’m okay, I’m fine.” He is forced to push her away so he can hold her at arms-length, checking her over with whatever light he can manage.

“You’re not hurt, are you?”

No, no, she’s fine, she’s completely fine, and he can breathe.

“What did you even hit?

There’s a light cough to the side, and Dean turns back to the man that saved his life. He looks amused. It looks good on him, that look.

“My brother,” He says, and Dean is confused for a moment. What does that have to do with anything, why is he talking about his brother? “You hit my brother.”

Dean flushes hot with embarrassment, ears turning as red as the coat he wears, but the Moon just laughs; chuckles. Even that sound sends electricity bouncing over Dean’s skin.

“He’s not injured, don’t worry. Though if he sees you, chances are he’ll cause a fuss. Gabriel likes to rile everybody up.” The tone of his voice, that tired and worn-out acceptance of ‘yes, that’s my brother’ is all too familiar to Dean, and he grins.

“Aaand, chances are he’s going to see me.”

“Most likely.”

“Yeah, the, uh, ceremony.”

All of those thoughts that Dean has been having, those questions and doubts, they hit him with full force. Why is it that there’s never a record of the Sun and Moon being friends? Is it not allowed? What happens if they actually attempt something other than... than whatever they’re supposed to be.

‘And then you leave marks, shaped like the sun and the moon, on each other, as a sign that the ceremony has taken place, and as some form of a contract to uphold your duties.’

‘I have to touch them? Is there some sort of specific place or- ?’

‘The mark can go wherever you choose, but there’s no need to be specific. You can simply pat their shoulder if you wish. That’s what happens most of the time.’

Dean’s entire body is hot with the idea, though he doesn’t know why. He has to get close and touch, to leave a mark – his mark – permanently on the Moon’s body. And if they actually see each other again after this is over-

But who’s to say the Moon wants that? Dean seems to be the only person who actually questions these things – apart from Sally – and maybe the Moon wants to get this over with and be done. Most likely.

“Speaking of the ceremony, if we don’t hurry, we might just miss it.”

“I’m sure they can wait. It’s not like they can start it without us.” Dean teases, but he pushes his shoulders in and stretches in preparation to start heading back. Hopefully as subtly as possible. Getting caught after all of this would just... ugh. “Where exactly are we, anyways?”

“I was hoping you could tell me.” He turns. Dean catches a glimpse of the most flawless profile he has ever seen. “Though I think I see your town from here.”

Dean follows his gaze and, yeah, that’s it. Over there. And Impala doesn’t look like she wants to go flying any time soon.

“Well I’m grounded, so I guess I’ll see you there.”

“I’m tired as well, we can go together.”

Dean looks to him to protest and promptly loses his breath. When did they get so close? He’s looking down at those surreal blue eyes, right up close, right there, and they look right back at him, confused and somehow, Dean might be hallucinating, but somehow warm.

“If we show up together, we’ll just make a scene. And Chuck,” Dean smiles at the mental image of Chuck throwing some sort of tantrum in the middle of town square. “I’m not sure how happy he’ll be that we broke what is, apparently, the most important rule.”

“We’ll need to be subtle. You can go in first and I’ll...” He’s starting to do that smirking thing again, like he knows that Dean is slowly losing the capacity to think. “Follow.”

~

The walk there takes a surprisingly short amount of time. The darkness skews every little perception that Dean has, and what looked like a six hour walk turns out to take about ten minutes. Still, it’s the most amazing ten minutes in all of existence because... well, because.

Dean has never been around somebody who equals him. People that he’s known all of his life, that changed his diapers when he was a baby, look up to him, accidently looking down on themselves in the process, and it starts to drive him mad after a while.

But the Moon is just perfect. He is pure grace, every step he takes is purposeful and calculated. His faint aura is exactly like Dean’s, the power he radiates can be felt down to Dean’s bones, and it is relaxing in ways that – there aren’t words.

They don’t speak much. Impala walks along beside them without so much as a chirp, and it’s not awkward in the slightest, for which Dean is grateful.

As the Moon suggested, Dean slips into town first, not before pointing out the direction that he thinks the rest of his family will be in so he doesn’t get lost in the fray. He’s given a grateful look before he vanishes into the crowd.

And is found minutes later by an extremely flustered Chuck.

“Dean, where have you been- ?”

Dean pulls out as much fluster as he can manage, face heating up, clearing his throat; trying to look like he’s been running about. “Looking for you.”

Chuck looks him over, searching for a lie, almost hoping to find one so he has an excuse to be so panicked, but after a few seconds and some very convincing looks from Dean, he deflates.

Thank the Gods. No way in Hell would he have been able to explain himself if Chuck caught him.

“The crowds are killer, I know. Okay, okay, come on, we need to hurry, the Night guys, they’re really traditional, don’t like having anything go wrong. Wouldn’t want to insult them if you’re late.”

Not from what Dean saw. But okay, more reasons to act flustered, good.

He lets Chuck drag him along, pushing through the crowd with a muttered ‘Excuse me, pardon me, Sun coming through’. They go through narrow streets and straight through the thick of it, and don’t stop until they reach the edge of the town.

There’s a path of lights leading away into the fields. Huge wooden poles create a space wide enough to fit well, to fit everybody, with lights strung up in between so they can see. There are candles and fairy lights. People are starting to fill in.
 
A space in the grass, in the middle of everything, catches Dean’s eye, and his heart skips. Suddenly, the idea of this, of all of this, seems incredibly terrifying. Standing in the middle of everybody with the Moon in front of him, the two of them exchanging intimate words of promise and-

Oh wow, this is like a wedding. How did he not realize how similar this is to a wedding?

Off to the side, away from the crowds pouring out of the town, Chuck lets go of his sleeve and allows them both time to catch their breath, and Dean looks up just in time to see his brother rush into him, wrapping lanky arms around his middle.

Dean, for the first time all day... evening, whatever this is even called anymore, relaxes, resting his cheek against his brother’s hair and shutting his eyes. “Hey, squirt.”

There’s something in his brother’s eyes when he pulls back, but it’s gone in a flash, replaced by a huge smile that has Dean grinning wide enough his cheeks hurt.

“I’m not a squirt, Dean. I’m seventeen.”

“Still a squirt to me.”

Sam sticks makes a face, but is still smiling through it, excited beyond belief for some reason.

“What’s gotten into you, somebody slip some extra sugar in your tea this morning?”

A pink flush spreads across Sam’s cheeks, and without asking Dean knows it’s something to do with Jess. The kid’s been head-over-heels for her since he first laid eyes on her beautiful blue eyes, constantly telling everybody at dinner how pretty her dress was that day or how he found out that she likes the same book that he likes; anything at all.

So he smirks, and Sam blushes harder.

“Good on you, Sammy. Is she here?”

“Of course she’s here, I just, I have to stand over here with Mom and Dad while the ceremony takes place. I’m taking her to dinner once the light comes back.” There’s a spark in Sam’s eye, a lively and happy spark, like nothing in the world could make him feel better than he does right now, and Dean really needs to go see his parents before he starts melting.

He clears his throat, but his eyes are still soft. “Speaking of Mom and Dad, where are they?”

“Oh, they’re right,” Sam turns and his eyes are on them immediately, standing off to the side, away from the crowd. “There.”

They both turn to head over. Time is running short, and Dean needs to get ready, so his mom grabs his cheeks, pulling him down to kiss his forehead briefly before shooing him away. He manages to nod at his dad before he turns his back.

Chuck is waiting patiently, but he’s twitchy in a way that shows he’s forcing the patience on himself. He straightens up when Dean walks over to him and-

Pulls Dean into the cleared space, in front of everybody. The silence is instantaneous, all eyes on him. He holds his chin up, stands up straight, and keeps his expression perfectly blank, masking his nerves.

But there’s that curiosity he feels when he looks over. Everybody is separated. His people are all behind him, and when he looks straight ahead, the Moon’s people are all on the other side. There’s a considerable distance between the two groups that makes Dean hold back a frown.

He sweeps the crowd for his companion but finds nothing, just rows and rows of beautiful people in dark colors, their wings of varying shapes, all a gorgeous, elegant white. Maybe it was the darkness, but Dean swears the Moon’s wings were black.

Maybe he’s going insane. It could have been the adrenaline or something.

There’s a short man with wings that are much too large for his body size standing at the front of the crowd, arms crossed, staring at Dean with the strangest mixture of frustration and respect that Dean has ever seen. His feathers are ruffled. Dean never thought he would be using that expression literally.

Oh. Oh, that’s the guy he hit. It is, isn’t it? The brother.

 Unsure what to do, Dean ducks his head, shutting his eyes for a few seconds, leaning forward only the smallest amount, a silent apology. When he opens his eyes, the man’s nose is scrunched up in confusion, but he nods back, not quite going as far as to bow but accepting the apology, regardless. It makes him shuffle and turn away into the crowd, wings still ruffled with agitation.

There isn’t really much else to do. Dean is torn between staring at the foreigners and acting nonchalant, and both options seem really improper of him, so he takes to fiddling with his sleeves. It’s a nervous gesture, and people must notice, but it’s something to do.

Finally, finally, since time has slowed down considerably in the past minute, there’s movement, and the sea of navy blue robes parts to make room as the Moon comes walking through. Dean wasn’t seeing things, his wings really are ash-black, and they’ve found a comfortable place to rest against his back so he can squeeze in between the crowd. He looks perfectly calm, and when their eyes lock, again, Dean swears he hears the collective hitching of every single person’s breath.

He tunes them all out. There’s something about those blue eyes that put Dean in a trance, and it’s a good thing, too. It makes for a convincing, awed look, like they’re just meeting for the first time; seeing each other for the first time.

The Moon looks perfectly impassive, and it’s a little too convincing. It makes Dean nervous for some reason, but the closer he gets, the easier Dean can see that despite his schooled features, there’s a warmth and familiarity in his eyes. Just for Dean.

Which, really, is what should be making Dean nervous. That this guy is acting as if they really, really know each other. But instead, it makes Dean’s shoulders sag with relief, the tension in his jaw ebb away.

They’re standing so close, and Dean knows that they’re supposed to, that rules of personal space aren’t supposed to apply here, but it still makes his heart jump happily into his throat. The Moon huffs, so quietly only Dean can hear it, and it could be a laugh. Like he can tell what Dean’s feeling.

Chuck steps forward, standing next to them both, a few steps back, next to a man with dark skin and kind eyes. Dean only breaks eye contact when the Moon does. They turn their heads simultaneously to look at their mentors.

Dean assumes that other guy is like... the Chuck parallel. With wings that look a little different than the others, a little worn, probably with age, but they’re gorgeous in their own way, a slightly more off-white color.

“Sire.” Chuck acknowledges. It’s so weird to hear Chuck call him anything other than Dean. Only strangers call Dean by proper titles like ‘sire’ and ‘my prince’ and all that. But Dean nods in return, eyes flickering over to the stranger.

“Sun,” His voice is rich and soothing, and something sparks in Dean’s mind, a little whisper that Dean knows came from him. Joshua.

His name’s Joshua. It suits him.

He nods in greeting and then turns back to the Moon, who, though Dean doesn’t know when, has already gone back to looking at him. He meets his eyes, and both of their faces open up, lips twitching into tiny smiles.

The Moon probably already introduced himself to Chuck using telepathy because he’s a show-off.

He looks up at Dean from under his lashes and Dean knows he isn’t far off. They continue smiling at each other, their audience only thinking they’re being polite.

There are about a million things that both of them could do right now. Each ceremony is different, which is one of the reasons Dean didn’t fall asleep while Chuck was lecturing him about the customs. There were two times, he thinks, that the Sun and Moon verbally announced their intentions for ruling the Sky. There were around six times they shook hands and did some mixture of speaking and telepathy. There were... there were a lot. There was a huge book just full of descriptions, maybe hundreds, and all of them were different.

Except, the one thing they all had in common was the one thing Dean noticed; no emotional connection mentioned. Blank expressions, dull, practiced words, vows that sounded passionate but were forgotten after a few sleeps.

Their hands move at the same time, fingertips touching, flattening against each other, palms fitting together. Dean’s hands are bigger, by only a little, and he curls the tops of his fingers over the Moon’s. It lasts for a second before they move again, their fingers sliding to the side to twine together.

Not once do they break eye contact. Chuck is staring. Joshua looks surprised but... pleased.

Touching, like this, skin on skin, the aura surrounding them both mingles and mixes together, glowing brighter. It’s like a rush of energy. Dean feels like he could do anything; like he could stay awake for weeks. He sucks in a tiny breath, and the Moon’s pupils dilate just slightly.

This, this is not something Dean remembers hearing about.

Ripples of electricity skitter under Dean’s skin, lighting him up from the inside, and he isn’t sure what’s going to happen next. They stare at each other, hands clasped together, so very close.

And then the Moon leans forward, pressing their foreheads together. Their noses brush, Dean can feel warm breath against his lips, both of their fingers tightening. The movement of their bodies is different from the other times he has been with another person, this time there are wings, the sound of them fluttering and shifting about beyond his closed eyelids.

They breathe together, and not a single person in the audience dares breathe with them. There is no telepathy, no prodding in Dean’s mind. It’s a silent agreement. A silent treaty. Dean doesn’t remember reading about one of those, or if it’s ever even happened before. Part of him wants to crack an eye open and see Chuck’s expression, but he refuses.

Chuck, on his part, through Dean can’t see, is sharing an extremely meaningful look with Joshua.

Dean cracks his eyes open, and there’s that blue again, looking right back at him. How long has it been? How much time has passed? Do they continue? Can they stand like this forever?

He really... wouldn’t mind standing like this forever. It’s warm and safe and incredible. Not at all a bad idea, if he really thinks about it. He’s stopped noticing the people watching.

Just like that, he makes his decision. He never really thought about where exactly he would be placing his mark, though Chuck urged him to actually try and make up his mind a few sleeps before. If the Moon was a complete dick, then sure Dean would slap him on the shoulder and call it as done, but this is... no, no, he knows what he’s doing.

He gradually lifts the fingers of his right hand, urging the Moon to do the same, until they stand finger-tip to finger-tip again. Slowly, he trails them down, placing them over the palm of the Moon’s left hand. And he presses, reaches inside himself, and draws out his magic. It appears like a burn, the mark; a circle, jagged lines, pure black. The sun, in the center of the Moon’s palm, big enough that it reaches the skin where his fingers begin.

When he takes his eyes away, glancing over to the crowd for the first time, every single person is staring at him. Not the average ‘oh we’re watching this because this is amazing and a ceremony that won’t happen for another hundred years’, but matching looks of surprise on every single face. As though they can’t believe this is happening.

What did he do?

He’s so distracted that he doesn’t notice the pressure on his own palm, and the warmth is sudden and unexpected. He snaps back to reality and looks down to see a mark being formed on his own hand; a crescent moon, solid black, covering his entire palm.

Dean’s heart skips. This is beyond intimacy. Those marks will always be visible, unless both of them take to wearing gloves. They can’t be hidden with clothes, they’re aren’t somewhere subtle, they’re right in the open.

A claim. A permanent note, bold: mine.

Which is not at all what the tattoo is supposed to mean. It means harmony and peace and about five other words that have something to do with joy, but this is different.

They should step apart, and Dean is about to, but his body is moving against his will, holding their hands together again and bumping their foreheads. He feels heavy, tired, like he never wants to move again, and that’d be kinda nice.

Maybe he should ask Chuck. If he can stay like this.

No, he needs to pull away. Who knows what his mom’s thinking right now, or his brother. Their plan to be subtle at the ceremony has failed miserably. Hopefully nobody minds. Dean sure hasn’t minded. At all.

They let go at the same time and step back, arms swinging loosely at their sides. The darkness already fading, as it should with the marks in place. The light is returning, and all of the wings in the crowd beyond the Moon are starting to flutter about anxiously. Everybody remains stone-faced, but they look like they would very much like to leave before everything returns to normal.

Dean wonders if it was all a trick – a spell. That something so simple and random as two little black symbols could force all of that darkness away seems uncanny. Traditions are traditions, but watching it evaporate into the air like some sort of heavy smog, as though it was nothing more than a bit of smoke, Dean can wonder.

Chuck and Joshua are saying something in the background. They call the end of it all, and Dean is being dragged back to his parents before he can so much as look back up. When he does, the Moon has vanished, and Chuck stands alone.

~

Mary is a whirl of color. Her smile is so wide it makes the light shine all that much brighter. She practically flings herself at Dean, wrapping her arms around his neck and squeezing him tight. He smells lilac and cinnamon and a combination of things that only make up his mom.

He wraps his arms around her and holds her to him just as tightly, spinning her around for a moment, his robes making it an awkward and difficult task.

“My boy,” She sighs once her feet are on the ground, her hands taking their usual places on his cheeks. Her skin is incredibly soft. “What was that I just saw?”

He flushes under her touch but doesn’t move. “What was what you just... saw?”

That made no sense at all. Good, he needs to avoid the question.

“Chuck told your father and I a few things about what these ceremonies are like, and that, Dean...” she lowers her voice, and he realizes that yes, there are still people everywhere. “I’ve never seen anybody look at you like that. Or you look at anybody else that way.”

“Mom-“

“You can’t lie to your own mama, Dean.”

His ears go red and his voice drops to respond, “I don’t know, I-“ He looks around. There really are people everywhere, and most of them are staring at him, whispering to each other. “Do you think we could talk about this when I’m not being watched by half the town?”

She pats his cheeks and steps back. “We have food ready at home. Come on. You must be hungry.”

“Starving.” He scratches absently at the mark on his palm, and follows her.

~

It really is weird having every single human being who lives in the castle follow them home. The guards were at the ceremony, the gardeners were at the ceremony; it is nearly empty when they get back, save for the cooks preparing their food.

Sam gave Dean another hug, a look that Dean couldn’t really decipher, and ran off to find Jess for their promised date.

Poor kid has no idea how deep he already is. Dean doesn’t know Jessica well, he’s seen her and met her a few times, but she looks at him that very same way that Sam looks at her, and chances are that the conversation at every dinner from this point on is going to be, just...

Well, it’s going to be the cutest thing in the world, if Dean is being honest with himself. Sam needs somebody, so he doesn’t spend all of his time, every waking hour, sitting in a tree or in his room or under a rock or wherever else he likes to be, reading books.

At least Jessica will read books with him. So he won’t be all by himself.

John hasn’t said a word. He keeps looking at Dean out of the corner of his eye, and it makes Dean even more uncomfortable than he already is, walking through town wearing expensive clothes, being stared at by everyone.

Literally every single person.

They reach home, get settled, sit down at the table in the dining hall, and there’s already food spread out in front of them. Chuck scurries in a few minutes later and takes a seat, and it’s just.

Kind of awkward, for some reason.

Dean is still buzzing from what just happened, so he doesn’t even care.

“That... was...” Chuck begins, and Dean waits to be scolded for doing something wrong, like standing a certain way or touching or not speaking too much or really anything. “Amazing.”

Dean blinks and stops mid-reach for a cheese bun.

“...Amazing?”

“Dean, I’ve read everything there is to read about the Eclipse. My dad was teaching me about them before I could walk, and that was... was astounding, that’s what it was.” A pause as Chuck shoves an entire roll of bread in his mouth at once. It’s strange, watching him chew and swallow, waiting for him to continue. “Mark? Can I see the mark?”

Something hot and possessive shoots through Dean for a moment, but it’s gone in a flash, and he offers his hand across the table so Chuck can inspect it. He touches Dean’s fingers a bit roughly in his excitement, reaching into the pockets of his robe to pull out his glasses.

“It looks exactly like it does on the pages, that’s...” He touches a finger to it and Dean’s breath hitches. That feels weird. Really weird. Chuck is watching his face for a reaction. “I’m sorry, did that feel strange?”

Dean pulls his hand back and touches his own fingers to the outline, but nothing feels off.

Chuck folds his glasses back into his pocket. “It’s sort of a curse you put it there, Dean.” Mary and John, listening silently and eating their food, perk up. “The Mark is a very sensitive thing, it’s like a bonding link, forged out of pure magic from one of the most powerful beings in the world, having other people touch it, when their magic doesn’t compare, will be... Well, how did you feel?”

Dean shrugs, his mind trying to process all of this. So it’s... alive? Thrumming with real, active magic? “It didn’t really hurt, it just felt... not right.” Wow, excellent description, Dean. Bravo. “Like when you rub something coarse against a burn, really uncomfortable.”

“It’s going to be like that for everybody.” Chuck clarifies. “The less magic somebody has, the more uncomfortable you will feel.”

“Any particular reason you didn’t mention this in the weeks of preparation we had?” He doesn’t mean to raise his voice, but Chuck flinches back a bit, fiddling with his food.

His voice cracks like it always does when he’s nervous. “It’s never happened before, Dean. Hundreds and thousands of years, and the Mark has always been on the shoulder or the chest, Dean, that’s just how it is, and you just- I mean, I didn’t expect you, of all people to-“

“What does that mean?”

Chuck is practically squeaking now. “It means nothing, I just, that.”

Mary clears her throat. “That’s the thing I wanted to talk to you about, Dean.”

Oh Gods, not here. Not with his dad sitting right there.

Mom.” He reaches for a chicken wing and practically inhales it when he takes a bite, sulking while he tries to chew around it.

“No, Dean, it’s alright, it’s alright.” Thank the Gods for Chuck, thank everything. “We don’t have to talk about it, just. It’s new, but that’s alright.”

“We’re ending this conversation right now.” His throat burns as he swallows. No way is he talking to them about feelings or ‘weird connections’ with anybody other than his mom. Just his mom. Chuck’s alright, but just no.

No, no way.

~

True to her word, Mary comes into his bedroom once everybody has retired for sleep. It’s quiet in the castle, and even the town seems silent from here. Everybody is exhausted, and for some reason looking at the clear blue of the sky, the fluffy clouds overhead, Dean feels a strange sense of loss.

There are two gentle knocks, and he grunts a ‘come in’. The moment he sees that it’s her he takes a seat on the edge of his bed, suddenly shy. He knew she would push a little bit, but he still doesn’t want to really talk about it. Feelings and everything.

“It was just the connection.” He says the moment the door is shut behind her. “The whole ‘most powerful beings in the Sky coming together’ thing.”

He’s considered it. The most reasonable explanation would be that it was just... magic. Not them. Stuff like that doesn’t happen from just looking at a person, it doesn’t.

The bed doesn’t make a sound as she sits next to him, sinking into the mattress. He doesn’t look up at her, just stares at his hands, at the black of his palm, the crescent moon.

“Darling,” her voice is so soft, and his eyes trail up to the side, up to her beautiful face. She’s smiling at him, that knowing look in her eyes that only mother’s can possess. “Was it really?”

“Was it that obvious?” he blurts before he can censor himself. His throat tightens, and the little sting is nothing, he reminds himself. It’s not like he actually cares.

“I’m not sure, but I know you better than anyone, and that look...” when she sees his blush she ‘tsk’s. “Come now, Dean, it was sweet.”

“We just met.” He needs to learn how to shut himself up. “We didn’t even speak, we don’t know each other. I don’t even know his name. Magical... connections, or whatever, they’re the only explanation.”

She sighs and leans her head on his shoulder. He drops a kiss to her hair without thinking. “I want you to be happy. And that, Dean, that was happiness.”

He laughs, a little bitterly. “I’m never gonna see him again and you know it.” But he tries to cover it up with an expression that says he really doesn’t care. Because he doesn’t care at all and he needs to convince himself of that before he has some sort of mental breakdown over a guy he doesn’t know.

“Who knows.” The silence afterward is comfortable, even though Dean feels on the verge of being a little bit miserable.

Which is stupid. Absolutely ridiculous.

“Don’t think too much,” they’re wise words, followed by the rustling of his mom’s dress as she stands, and warmth as she hugs him tight. “Sleep well, Sweetheart.”

“Night, Mama.”

He sleeps more deeply than he has in ages, but not well. The first thing he sees when he opens his eyes is his no-longer-empty-palm staring back at him.

~

“Dean, you’re sulking.”

“M’not sulking.”

“Yes you are.”

Dean stretches himself out on the grass and pouts at his brother. “You can’t prove it.”

“You’re so unhappy that the sky actually looks dim.

“Not my fault.”

Dean.”

This is how his week goes. He’s fine and normal and goes out to see Maddi, he flies around on Impala and apologizes for the horrifying experience in the dark by sneaking her extra mango slices. It’s good. Nothing happens, everything is just... normal.

Except Dean sulks. He sighs and pokes at his food when he thinks nobody’s looking, and spends far too much time tracing the tattoo on his hand. He actually loses track of time and ends up sitting in the corner of the dining hall staring at it for forty-five minutes. He probably would have done it longer if nobody had said anything.

Sam nags him because it’s his job to nag him, and Dean always says he’s fine and walks away before any real interrogation can begin.

He takes a trip down to town, and doesn’t miss that everybody seems to be trying to please him. He’s not that upset, he really doesn’t understand. If he were really distraught he’d be setting fire to his entire room for the fun of it.

Or crying. Crying is usually a sign of sadness.

His mom knows exactly what’s up, and it makes him paranoid about every person he meets, be they a stranger or one of the castle staff. Did everybody in town notice the ‘gazing’ happening between him and the Moon, or was that just his mom? And Chuck, but Chuck doesn’t count because he won’t say a thing about it. He’s probably forgotten.

Sometimes he wonders how that little girl Sally is doing.

Most of the time he’s far too busy just lying under a tree on the forest floor, listening to the birds, stroking his hands through warm fur, and wondering if he can focus enough to change the sky above to the same shade as the Moon’s eyes.

~

It almost exactly a week later, six days to be absolutely exact, that something changes. Dean isn’t really so sure what it is at first, but Impala seems a bit antsy, and keeps staring off into space or whipping her head around when they’re sitting alone.

It’s a beautiful day. People have sent Dean many praises for his happiness, and his very smile makes the day more gorgeous. They’re relieved. Mary is relieved. Chuck brings Dean a platter of cinnamon rolls glazed with too much icing just to make sure he stays happy, to thank Dean for actually being happy, and Dean nearly hugs him.

He pulls the plate into his room and sets it on his desk and shoves an entire bun in his mouth at once. Impala squawks, drawn out and grating on Dean’s ears, so he throws one to her. She practically swallows it whole.

“Just this once, I don’t want you getting sick on me.”

Scrraaaw!” is her response, and he sighs.

Aside from his good mood, the day has started off normally.

And then Impala perks up and stares out the window in the most dramatic fashion that Dean has ever seen, her feathers ruffling up all at once.

“Baby?” Even a hand to her neck does no good calming her down.

The next thing he knows, there’s a bird – a small bird, one that could easily perch on his arm, some sort of eagle – landing on his windowsill. It’s pure white, completely pure and shining. Impala puffs up and readies herself to attack, but Dean holds out a hand.

Every animal living in this place is known to him, but this one is brand new.

It looks directly at him and lifts a perfectly, almost manicured, foot. A scroll is tied to its leg with a silver ribbon, complete with a perfect bow.

“...For me?”

For you.

His mom would probably approach with caution, most people would, but Dean can tell the bird means no harm, and he’s careful as he pulls the scroll away. It just waits patiently, leg still raised, eyes locked on him in a way that is...

Familiar. The intensity of its gaze, the way it stares right at him no matter where he is... it’s familiar. Even when he steps away with the scroll in hand, he’s still being watched. Does it blink? Does it need to blink?

Nothing is better, Sam would say, than the smell of parchment, and the scent hits Dean fully when he unrolls the paper. The writing inside is delicate and precise, curved and curled and stunning.

I want to see you again.’

Dean’s heart stops. There’s no name signed at the bottom, just the simple outline of a crescent moon. Fingers shaking, he turns the parchment over, but the other side is blank. Blank for him. For his answer. Rarely does he ever use his quill, but he yanks it out of its ink bottle so quickly he nearly spills it all over his desk.

What should he say? Yes, he wants to see him, but he can’t sound like some sort of desperate sap, and he doesn’t have enough room to actually write a lot, just enough. Gods, and nobody can know about this. How many rules are they breaking by doing this, by even speaking to each other? The ceremony is supposed to be a one-shot deal.

Nobody can know. Maybe he should just not respond, or explain that he can’t, or just ignore the entire thing altogether and forget that any of this ever happened.

No way in Hell. When has Dean Winchester ever been one to ignore an opportunity to break the rules?

Where?’ is all he writes back, his printing pathetic compared to the cursive on the other side. Impala has walked over, touching her beak to the eagle’s, her feathers smoothing out over her back. He watches them and absently rolls the paper back up.

“So I just-“ He’s talking to himself, but the bird lifts a leg again. His bow looks crooked and wonky compared to the one that was there before, but it’s tight enough so, well whatever. As long as the delivery goes smooth and...

It takes off without any instruction, and he leans out the window to watch it go, turning sharply right and sweeping towards the sky, towards the darkness. Where nobody ever goes. It’s a miracle that it managed to get here without being seen. With pretty much every single Phoenix out flying today in the clear blue, and judging by how Impala reacted at first glance, that must be one smart bird.

“What the Hell am I getting myself in to?” He asks the blank air, reaching for another roll. His fingers are sticky with the glaze, and he licks at them, taking smaller bites so he can talk while he eats. “If Chuck finds out about this, his heart’s gonna give out.”

Impala nods in agreement and remains staring out the window.

You’re smiling.

He blinks at her, but she’s still impassive as ever. And, carefully, Dean reaches up to touch his face. His grin is so wide it’s dimpling his cheeks and making his jaw ache. Well, damn.

“You know what, shut up.”

She makes a weird noise that only birds can make, and it resembles a laugh in some strange and creepy way.

It’s a stupid thing, that he’s almost giddy right now. He’s never been giddy in his entire life, he’s only been happy, and it’s just not normal. Princes don’t get like this, especially Dean and it’s just. Just no. No, he needs to calm down.

But he can’t stop his heart from beating just that tiny bit faster, no matter how much he tries.

~

Island on the border. South.’

Thank you for being so specific.

Dean wants to be bitter but really can’t find it in himself. He drinks one of the kitchen’s special coffees, infused with a bit of potion that Chuck makes for them on occasion. It gives him an energy boost, just enough that he doesn’t fall asleep.

He waits until everybody has gone to bed before he leaves, whistling for Impala from his bedroom. She appears in a flash of flames and stares at him strangely.

“I’m not standing in the middle of the courtyard while I’m trying to sneak off.”

There’s a window off to the side, carved into the wall, smooth as can be, large enough for a Phoenix. A special door, rather, for her to come and go. He made it himself, sliced through the wall with his magic.

It’s a stupid decision to wear a hood, considering he doesn’t need one, but it’s pretty and white, and the sun pin that clasps at his neck feels cool against his skin. He feels cooler this way, hiding his face, sneaking out of his own room. Awesome.

He pulls the hood up over his head and swings a leg over Impala’s side, crawling up onto her back, bending his knees and bracing himself. His head nearly collides with the top of the arch as she takes flight, flapping once, twice, three times to right herself before she can soar.

“Alright, head up higher, girl, we’re trying to be subtle.”

He can feel her thoughts mocking him, but she does as she’s told, climbing until she’s above the clouds, looking down at the town, all of the curtains drawn for sleep. Maybe they can sense his excitement, with the light being just that much brighter. It could be a dead giveaway as far as Dean’s concerned.

The breeze is warm against his cheeks, Impala is steady and soft, and they head south until their shadow disappears below them, when there’s no town, no land, only sky and clouds going down as far as Dean can see.

There are little islands here and there, floating chunks of land that don’t really have a purpose, and kids like to ride out and claim them, put up signs and build fires and camp out on their own private land. It’s cute and harmless, but Dean sees nobody out tonight.

He still has no idea where exactly he’s supposed to be going. South, on the border. The darkness is right there, a solid line cutting the Sky, and the air cools as Impala flies closer, skimming her wings near but never crossing over.

“Okay, just...” He’s talking to himself, stomach fluttering as he gets closer to where he wants to be. This is actually happening. He used to read Sam fairytales about this sort of thing, people sneaking out to meet with royalty, and he’s just breaking all the rules, apparently.

“You know this place like the back of your hand, where is there an island on the border?”

Impala whines and climbs higher, soaring up with the breeze. One island, only big enough for a single person. Another island, large enough for a party, complete with a few trees. Another and another, all of varying sizes, some near the darkness but never across.

A few minutes of flying and Dean starts to wonder if this was all some weird sort of set up, his paranoia kicking in.

And then it’s suddenly right there, obvious as ever, slightly larger than he expected, a small pond of water at the back, spilling over the edges and down into the sky, a never-ending waterfall. A few trees around the edges like a protective circle.

There’s something strangely pretty about it.

Heart firmly in his throat, Dean pats Impala’s sides, and she glides down, extending her legs for a graceful landing on the grass. It’s dead silent, not a soul in sight. He swings off and looks into the darkness, a few paces ahead.

The water looks strange, a little pond almost, half light and half dark. Somehow the land is perfectly divided. Dean doesn’t look too hard at the darkness. It’s not like he’s scared, but there’s something about the forbidden aspect of the dark that’s always seemed a bit... odd to him. How do you survive without light?

He only realizes he’s staring into space when there’s movement. Impala wanders over to the water, away from Dean, giving him space while she settles down in the grass, dipping her beak in the cool liquid.

Dean blinks, focuses his eyes.

The Moon is watching him, secure on his own half, holding a hood with two hands, partially through the process of pulling it away from his face. His wings are relaxed, his outfit dark, the hood a nebula of colors. Dean is, once again, for the hundredth time this week, speechless.

He steps closer, pulling his own hood down, not nearly as graceful; swiping it with one hand until it falls back.

Silence. A few seconds of complete silence, and they stare at each other like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Dean itches to say something, but his mouth is suddenly dry. He clears his throat.

“So.”

The Moon still looks at him.

“How many rules are we breaking right now?”

A smile. Dean feels a burst of pride.

“Enough.” His voice washes over Dean like water from a cool spring.

Just like that, the awkwardness is broken, the tension long gone, and they both take a step forward at the same time. Dean’s toes are a centimetre away from the shadows up ahead, the Moon the same way, almost in the light.

Unsure what to do, if he should cross or if the Moon should come over here, Dean hesitates.

It is the Moon who makes the first move, sitting down crossing his ankles in front of him, facing the Sky. Dean follows his lead. Their shoulders are touching, that one small part of them mingling with the other side of the world.

The Sun and the Moon, sitting side by side, staring out into the Sky. If people were to know...

Dean swallows, looking over at the Moon out of the corner of his eye. “So what do I call you?”

Those stunning blue eyes land on him, wide and confused, pale skin furrowing on his brow, his head tilting to the side in confusion. Dean convinces himself his heart is skipping because he’s nervous and not because that’s sort of really fucking cute.

“Sire?” He continues, a bit of a teasing smile on his face, but he honestly is curious. Does he even have a first name? Dean hopes so. “Your majesty? O’Great and Holy Moon-?”

That earns him a little quirk of a smile, a breathy laugh as the Moon looks away. “Castiel.”

It’s so foreign that Dean wonders why it’s relevant, and then it clicks. “Castiel.” It sounds strange rolling off of his tongue, but the Moon’s – Castiel’s, Dean knows now – shoulders relax.

“Dean. I’m Dean.” It sounds so boring compared to that, to Castiel, the most interesting title that Dean has ever heard in his life. Castiel glows a little brighter and Dean can’t help but stare in awe.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dean.”

He reaches out his hand, the same hand that bears the mark of the Sun, and Dean extends his own, clasping them together for a firm shake, but Castiel covers their hands with his other, fingers tightening over Dean’s knuckles.

“Yeah.” His mouth is bone-dry.

Waves of heat are shooting up his arms from their palms, and Castiel is...

Gods, his aura is so strong it makes him look angelic. Looking at his own hands, Dean knows he looks similar. It’s the biggest rush Dean’s ever gotten, having their marks pressed together; like pure energy. Dean feels like he could run for miles and miles, over mountains and across fields in a single leap.

Castiel – Dean is never getting over that, how much it suits him, how he gets to call him that – swallows something down and gently untangles their hands, but moves a bit closer, until their legs are pressed together along with their shoulders.

“You have a really gorgeous bird.” Dean clears his throat. “I didn’t know you guys had birds, with your wings and everything.”

“Claire is my messenger.” They don’t need to look at each other to speak, and Castiel doesn’t even glance over in Dean’s direction. “Of course, she serves a different purpose than your Phoenix, but she is mine – my friend.”

Dean smiles. Castiel perks up like he’s remembering something. This time he does look at Dean, something open in his expression that gives him a false sense of vulnerability.

“If you don’t mind me asking – your Phoenix, is she still here?”

“Oh, yeah, she’s uh,” He twists his head and whistles quietly, and Impala perks up. There’s a tree blocking her from view but he can feel her moving their way, and Castiel’s eyes gain more of that strange quality as she approaches.

“She’s black.”

Dean bristles, an automatic response built in from years of comments and whispers.

“From what I hear, research I’ve done, these birds are meant to be bright.”

“Most are,” Dean doesn’t mean to sound so sharp. “She’s different, first of her kind. Still a Phoenix, just-“

Castiel picks up on his attitude immediately and rests a hand on his shoulder. “I didn’t mean to offend, Dean.” His voice is so soothing... “I thought I may have been seeing things during the Eclipse, due to the darkness, I’ve never heard of such a thing. She’s... always been this way? The first of her kind?”

“As far as the records say.” Dean reaches a hand up to cover Castiel’s. There’s something wrong, he can tell, and his curiosity spikes. “You alright?”

“My wings are a part of me,” Castiel says, and his wings flex slightly. “They feel like part of me, they grew like all of my sibling’s wings, they work just as well as any other pair I’ve ever seen, but they are black, and as far as any records we keep, they are the only ones that have ever been that way.”

Dean can’t lie and say he didn’t notice.

“It’s strange, it’s very strange that both of us have abnormalities – black when there should be white or, in your case, red or orange. The very first even after generations.”

Impala has her head cocked to the side, her red eyes fixed on Castiel’s wings. She stands to approach, lifting a wing and holding it out. Castiel stares at her, curious, probably; he’s never seen a creature like this up close before. Not quite sure, he lifts one of his own wings, and Dean moves to the side to allow it to stretch.

They touch, feather to feather. The exact same shade of black, no lighter or darker.

“Woah.” Dean didn’t mean to speak out loud.

Impala makes a cooing sound and steps back, talons digging up grass.

Castiel folds his wing back up, reminding Dean way too much of a bird, and he finds it way too something-that-is-totally-not-cute for his own good. He continues staring at Impala, at her feathers, at her eyes; everything. Dean wonders what he’s thinking.

“Fascinating.” He says instead, and Dean just grins. Castiel has a look of utter concentration on his face.

It is... interesting. Like fate, like all those things his mom talks about; destiny and all that. Two people who are destined to meet. And it makes a bit more sense, the Sun and the Moon meeting, finally.

“So if you don’t mind me asking, I uh.” Dean shuffles in place and their shoulders press more firmly together. “What made you send me that note?” He wonders if Castiel was as bothered as Dean was, as gloomy and mopey. It’d be a relief to know he wasn’t the only one acting like a spoiled child.

“I wanted to see you.” He says it so simply, like that’s all he needs to say. Like them meeting here isn’t against every rule. Even his expression is pinched, like he doesn’t understand what other response Dean was expecting.

“Just... that’s it?”

“You... wanted to see me too, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course I did I- I really did. I was just, sort of expecting some other reason. It’s a habit of mine, people don’t generally want to see me without a reason. People like you, I mean, it’s against a hundred rules and...”

Castiel rubs the back of his neck, looking to the side. “My sister told me I looked like I’d flown through a hurricane. My feathers wouldn’t smooth out, and it bothered her so much she tried to groom me,” That is so strange, hearing the word ‘groom’ in reference to another person, that is so weird. “But they still remained ruffled, and I really...”

Oh my Gods, he looks like he’s blushing.

“I wanted to see you.”

Dean sighs. “That’s totally cool. Great, even. Apparently I was acting like an ass all week.”

Castiel looks to him. “In fact, I would like to continue. To see you, that is.”

“Yeah?” Dean’s heart is definitely not beating faster, not at all.

“Yes.” His eyes are so warm, so, so warm.

Impala walks to the edge of the land and leaps, stretching her wings and soaring above and around where they are, exploring the Sky.

Dean looks at Castiel. Castiel looks back at him. It feels like they’ve been doing this their entire lives. Like they’ve known each other since they were children.

“Tell me,” Dean perks up, all ears. “What is it like, your home?”

Now that’s something Dean can talk about. He feels a little burst of pride because it really is his home. Without him it wouldn’t exist. All his. The expression on his face changes to a gentle one, almost nostalgic. He looks out to the distance, where he can see it.

“Warm.” It’s the first word that comes into his head. “It’s really warm. Not just because of the sunlight, because of the people. My brother, Sam, he’s got a girlfriend, sort of – they keep dancing around each other, I never know if they’re going on a date or just going out as ‘best friends’ – and she’s just the sweetest thing there is. And her mom runs the town bakery, which just so happens to make the best apple pie there is. Better than the castle chefs can make it, but that’s a secret.” He winks for affect, and Castiel blinks.

“I’ve never tried an apple before.”

He says it like it isn’t the end of the world. But it’s the end of the world. Dean gapes.

“You’ve never had an apple? That means no apple pie? Seriously?

“They don’t grow where I come from. I’ve only read about them.”

Dean still can’t believe it. “Oh man oh man, I’m making a trip tomorrow, and I’m bringing you some pie, you have no idea what you’re missing.”

Castiel smiles, partially because of the opportunity, and partially because Dean is already talking about them meeting again.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

“You’d better.” He clears his throat, getting back on track, cheeks flushed with excitement. “Do you guys have a forest? We have a forest. Away from the town, behind the castle. It’s where I go to relax.” He’s never told anybody this. People know, of course, that he wanders around, but he’s never directly told anybody where he goes, not even Sam. And here he is, telling Castiel. “There’s this clearing, sort of, with a big tree and a little pond, and all the grass is gold.”

Castiel looks absolutely fascinated. Dean’s assuming they don’t have this over there in the Night.

“And tigers. And bright red rabbits. And foxes with ears that look like butterfly wings. It’s... where I go to think. Just think. I’ll sit there for hours sometimes, lose track of time. The animals come and sit with me, and it’s... I don’t normally tell people about this, I’m sorry.”

“No, I... it sounds wonderful. I like to sit in the castle gardens. There are koi fish that I think, in comparison, are the size of your tigers. We have a pond far off to the side, and nobody but Joshua cares about the gardens, so I sit alone on the edge and let them swim over to me. It’s very... hypnotic. Soothing. Just like you said, it’s very easy to lose track of time.”

Dean can’t even imagine fish of that size. He also can’t imagine what it feels like to have your brain and your mouth actually work together, because the next thing he knows he’s blurting out, “Do you think we’ve ever been there, in our spots, at the same time? I look at the sky, I wonder if...”

And then he cuts himself off because, way to go Dean. Way to sound like an overly-excited teenager. Like your brother.

But Castiel is smiling. “Most likely.”

It’s cool, for some reason. The idea that they were connected before they even met.

“Other than that, what’s it like over there?” He can see the spot where his shoulder is ever so slightly covered in a shadow, where he’s actually in the darkness.

“We... don’t have a forest. Not really. There are mountains that stretch on, and trees dotting the hillside, but it’s actually smooth. The ground is mostly rock, with some grass sticking up from the cracks in between.”

Wow, that sounds weird. Not at all homey, not like Dean’s bright forest.

“There are wolves.” Castiel actually grins when he says it, looking right at Dean, like he’s giddy at the mention, and Dean melts. Positively melts. “Fluffy, gray wolves. I go to visit them sometimes, and they bring their cubs over to me and howl.” His nose scrunches up and dammit, Dean is so far gone it’s ridiculous. “Though the cubs like to bite at my wings, which is unpleasant.”

They’re both proud of their homes. They’re both so proud of their homes, and Dean understands exactly how it feels, to love little things so much. And tigers are only his, and wolves are Castiel’s, and the koi fish are Castiel’s, and they’re so different yet the same.

“I don’t eat many sweets.” Dean tries not to make a noise at that, at how awful that sounds to him. “But my brother, Gabriel does. We have blueberry turnovers at the castle, have you ever had those?”

Dean has no idea what a blueberry is. He shakes his head.

“Then I will bring some to you, and you will bring me apple pie, and we can share.”

“It’s a deal.”

How is this the ‘all powerful being’ that Dean heard about in his pre-Eclipse studies. Apparently all of the people from the Darkness are very old-fashioned, follow rules; proper, almost. There is a bit of it, in the way Castiel talks, a little more serious.

But no, he’s... he’s just sweet. Kind. Absolutely, unnaturally gorgeous.

“You do not have stars, correct?”

Dean snaps out of it to shake his head. Stars are those shiny dots, the little balls of light, yeah.

Castiel actually looks sad at the news. “I could spend hours watching the stars. When I am relaxed they shine just a little brighter, and my brothers used to tell me there were shapes in the Sky, if you connect the dots.”

“I’ve never seen them. We just have clouds.”

Castiel looks... really sad for a moment. And then he’s holding out his hands, cupping them together, holding them to Dean. He doesn’t really understand. Castiel separates his hands and puts them back together, and Dean hesitantly cups his own, not knowing what’s going on.

Castiel places his hands in Dean’s, their auras reaching out to each other, wrapping together. A few seconds go by, Castiels eyes flutter shut, and Dean follow suit automatically, still totally oblivious as to what’s happening.

A few more seconds. Castiel chuckles, and Dean cracks open one eye.

There’s a nebula in Castiel’s palms.

Dean makes a tiny, awed sound, and leans closer. Tiny stars, floating just above Castiel’s hands, cradled in the safety of his fingers, surrounded by wisps of color. The Moon can make stars, can create them in his hands like a God, just how Dean can make sunlight.

“Now you’ve seen stars.” His voice is a gentle hush. They’re leaning so close together their foreheads are almost bumping together.

“Yeah.”

Silence. Comfortable silence washes over them. They shift until they face one another, legs crossed beneath them. Dean leans just that little bit more, so they can rest against each other, heads touching, stars held between them; shielded by their bodies. They both shut their eyes at the same time.

Castiel’s wings twitch and spread out, stretching behind him and coming back in.

Dean isn’t going to bother thinking about what this feeling is, how it’s possible to feel so connected to somebody – so comfortable – so easily. Even without opening his eyes Dean can feel the light fading away, the stars disappearing back into nothing.

He’s not even tired. Their auras are twining together, the shared power giving him energy, making him wide awake. So he just breathes, sits and breathes and thinks about his family, about how even if he tried to tell them about this, there are no words for how he feels right now.

He’s touched the darkness, been taken in by the other side.

Castiel’s breath is warm on his face, but there’s something there, something different about him that Dean can only sense now that they’re this close. He opens his eyes to catch a glimpse of his face, but he remains so neutral. But Dean’s sure he feels something.

“Castiel.” The name still feels strange on his tongue; foreign. Castiel’s eyes open. Dean feels like he’s staring into the Sky.

He doesn’t need to ask him if he’s alright. He doesn’t need to ask him if something’s wrong. Castiel just knows, exactly how Dean intended.

“I’m alright.”

Dean’s not convinced. Castiel huffs, almost amused. They can read each other so easily.

“My sleeping patterns have been off lately. Possibly something to do with my longing to meet with you, I promise I’m fine.”

Longing. The use of the word is innocent enough, but Dean still feels a coil of heat in his stomach; some form of happiness. That’s exactly how Dean felt. Not only did he want to see the Moon again, he longed to.

“Hmm.”

If he’s tired he should he sleeping. And Dean can go home and sleep. He can wake up early and walk down to the bakery, before everybody else begins to stir. He can buy the first apple pie that Tessa makes, can preserve it and stash it away and bring it here for Castiel.

Castiel who is awfully relaxed, almost sagging against Dean.

“Hey,” he lowers his voice, speaks gently. “Come on, don’t fall asleep on me, you need to make it home.”

“I’m not sleeping, I’m... content.”

Dean smiles, slips a hand out and up to the back of Castiel’s neck, gives it a squeeze. “We should be heading home anyways.”

A sigh. Castiel leans more fully into Dean and Dean just lets him, hand moving up to cradle the back of his head, his heart warming. It’s all too much, all of this. He shouldn’t be acting like this with somebody he just met.

“C’mon.” He whispers it against Castiel’s temple; chuckles.

“I’m glad you agreed to meet with me, again,” Castiel says instead. Dean says nothing, just swallows. “I believe it is... maybe not a word as strong as fate, but the Sun and the Moon meeting seems...”

“Like it should have happened years ago.”

“Yes.” One of Castiel’s wings stretches out.

Dean waits a few seconds, for him to continue, but he doesn’t, and Dean chuckles. “I’ll show you something, and then you need to go home before you actually pass out on me.”

Castiel – with effort – pulls away, hair slightly ruffled. He pulls his hood over his head to hide it.

“Show me something?” His head tilts. That endearing, serious expression flickering across his face.

“Yeah, well, you showed me stars, I figured I owe you a bit of sunlight hmm?”

“Sunlight,” Castiel echoes, and, oh yeah, he definitely looks intrigued.

Dean doesn’t need to shut his eyes or cup his hands. He spreads his fingers out and holds them up, and it’s a second nature to him. Light, pure and golden, pours from his fingertips like syrup, soaking into the grass and turning it the same color.

Castiel doesn’t even hesitate to reach out and touch it. It lands in his palm and curls around his fingers, spreading out until he’s wearing a glove of light. His smile of awe is absolutely precious.

In a totally... respectable, manly... way.

“It’s warm.” Dean has no clue if he’s being spoken to or not. The Moon’s eyes are fixed on his hand. “It’s... very soothing, thank you.”

Dean puffs with pride.

“Any time.” What else could he say?

“May I keep some?”

Okay, that takes Dean by surprise. His eyes widen a bit, his hand clenching into a fist to stop the flow. “Keep it?”

Castiel’s eyes are soft. “It is warm; it will remind me of you.”

Dean doesn’t know if he wants to admire how blunt Castiel is with his words, or just blush.

The blush is uncontrollable, and his face is pink in no time at all.

“Won’t somebody... see?”

“You underestimate me. Nobody will know.”

Uh, sure. Sure, he can keep it. Nobody will know, and it’s the Moon, so it makes sense that he could... yeah. But it’s a really, really intimate gesture, giving away his sunlight. He wonders if Castiel knows just what kind of gesture it is.

“Uh, okay, give me your hand.”

He reaches out to touch it, pulls the light back, holds it between his hands, makes it into something manageable; a little orb, condensed and tiny enough to fit in Castiel’s palm.

He gets a smile in return, a beautiful smile. That’s all he needs. Wow, his throat really needs to be cleared, words need to be said before he realizes what he just did, how much he’s already given in.

“Now both of us,” he pushes himself off of the ground, holding out a hand, which Castiel takes, “need to go home.”

They’re both standing on their own sides again, no longer poking into the Night or the Day. He pulls his hood up over his head so he can feel like some sort of spy again. “Don’t forget the berry things.”

“The turnovers, no, I won’t forget.”

There is definitely a hesitance to leave on both of their parts. Sleeping is really an unfavorable option when he could just sit here for hours and tell Castiel all about his home, his family; about the time his mother told him he was the Sun, about his brother and how smart he is. But that’s just the thing, there will be time to do that, to tell him everything.

What does he even say now?

“So...” He works his mind for words that would work. “Good... night?” He pulls a face after he says it. It sounds weird, really not right. “Sleep well.”

Castiel’s eyes smile for him. “Good morning.”

Good. Okay, good, he got it right.

His little ball of sunlight looks even brighter in contrast to the darkness. Castiel tucks it away in his clothes, probably some inside pocket that Dean can’t see. They’re still looking at each other, Castiel with that burning intensity. It’s like he doesn’t blink.

Carefully, slowly, Dean purses his lips and whistles, and Impala decides for a less spectacular entrance, swooping down from her place in the sky rather than bursting in front of him in a ball of flames.

“Sweet dreams, Dean.” And then he’s gone, wings spreading out on either side of him before he takes off, and it’s the most spectacular thing that Dean has ever witnessed.

~

“You look tired.”

Of course Sam is the first person Dean runs into the next day. Even though he wakes up earlier than usual, Sam still beats him to it, and Dean finds his brother sitting at the breakfast table eating a banana and a bowl of oatmeal completely by himself.

It’s sort of creepy.

“Since when are you up this early?”

“Since always, Dean. When are you?

“Since right now.”

“Okay.” Sam is staring at him with that look he gets when he’s reading a new book, when he’s trying to find out what happens before it ends. Like he knows something about Dean, like he wants to figure something out.

It’s making Dean ten different kinds of uncomfortable, and he doesn’t bother with breakfast, just leaves the room and heads out the front doors. The silence is sort of nice. Nobody’s awake yet, save for the guards. The usual hustle and bustle of noise that comes with nearing the town is nonexistent. It’s just dead. All of the drapes of all of the windows are still pulled shut.

But the bakery, Dean knows the bakery will be open. Tessa’s an early riser, as she must be. He’s not sure if she actually sleeps.

The flowers in the window boxes look like they need a bit more life, and it just takes a little poke to each of them and they’re standing up straighter. The sign hanging on the door says the shop is closed, but Dean doesn’t pay it any heed.

Of course the door isn’t actually locked. The little bell chimes as he comes inside, and there are a few crashes in the back, some shuffling, as Tessa comes around from the kitchen, probably to tell whoever just came in to get out.

Yup. Her brow is wrinkled with annoyance when she emerges, her mouth half-open, but it clicks shut when she sees Dean.

Gods, he really hasn’t seen her in a while. All of the Eclipse stuff had him too busy to stop by. She smiles at him, sagging with relief that it isn’t some pesky kids coming in to steal sweets.

“Dean,” she says. He steps closer, over to the counter. “Haven’t seen you in a while, how’ve you been?”

“Ah, same as always.”

She fiddles with her apron, brushing flour off of herself. “Tired after the ceremony?”

“Surprisingly, no. Not really.”

She’s trying hard not to look at his hand, he can tell, and he can’t help his little chuckle. “Curious?”

“Don’t give me that, of course I’m curious, it’s only natural.”

“I can show you.” He holds his palm, runs his thumb over the mark, smiling a little secret smile. It’s fun, he’s got bragging rights. “If you promise not to touch.”

Her eyes light up, her head tilting to the side almost unconsciously, and the familiar gesture sends a jolt through him. For just a moment he stares, caught up. He’s here for a pie. A pie for Castiel. Castiel, who is just...

Gods.

Tessa’s nodding, so he holds out his hand, resting it palm-up on the counter so she can see. Immediately her eyes widen and she’s leaning closer, not reaching out to touch, thankfully.

“Does it hurt?”

He outright laughs. “Only if somebody else touches it. Magic and all that.”

Her smile is a relieved one, but Dean can tell just by looking at her that she wants to reach out and trace it. It’s foreign, it’s something rare and dangerous, from across the border. Hmm. It’s a strange thought, now that he actually knows Castiel.

Well, he doesn’t, really. He feels like he does, but in actual fact he knows almost nothing, doesn’t he?

Stop it, Dean.

“So.” Tessa snaps herself out of it, probably memorizing every little detail, and Dean pulls his hand back in close. Maybe it isn’t good how he feels better, like he’s reclaimed it. “What brings you here so early, anyways?”

“Pie.” Dean leans across the counter, leaning forward on it. “I wanted to be the first one here, so I could get it fresh.”

Tessa stares at him like he’s grown another head. “You woke up this early for pie?”

He shrugs; fakes nonchalance. “Why not?”

She doesn’t question him. Can’t deny the prince of anything, but she has a strange, amused and curious look as she gets what he asks, vanishing back into the kitchen and re-emerging a moment later with a pie that is still steaming and perfect.

Dean is drooling instantly. He wants to eat it right now, right this instant.

“It’s still hot, it just finished baking, don’t eat it quite yet. Unless you want to burn your tongue.”

He pays her and waits for her to pack it away in a nice box. He opens the door with his hip on the way out, looking far too pleased for himself, and doesn’t hear Tessa laughing to herself.

~

The box is enchanted. No matter how long the pie sits on Dean’s desk, it never loses its warmth. His room smells amazing; it’s a pain in the ass that he can’t just have a slice right now.

He could...

No. No, he needs to share. Can’t be taking the Moon some half-eaten dessert. That is definitely not suitable for somebody like him, not in the slightest. He just needs to resist, and distract himself, and stop counting down every single second that he has to wait until he can go meet Castiel again.

Impala is catching up on some sort of beauty sleep, head tucked under her wing. Dean can see her in the garden if he glances out his window.

Maybe he should go for a walk. Get out of the house, stretch his legs a bit.

There’s a knock on the door. He can tell it’s his mom without calling out. “Come in.”

She does, Lily following close behind, and Dean grins, the bird coming over to bump her beak against Dean’s nose.

“Mom?”

Mary wastes no time walking over and wrapping her arms around Dean’s neck for a hug. He squeezes her waist, almost lifting her off the ground. Her hair goes up his nose but he doesn’t even mind. She’s tucked a flower behind her ear, and its subtle but he can still smell it.

“I didn’t see you at breakfast this morning.” She pulls away so she can see his face.

He tries to not give in and rub the back of his neck. That would be a giveaway. “Oh, yeah, I. I was up early, went for a walk.”

“You look better.” She cups his cheeks and he leans into her hand. “You’ve been moping for so long, it’s good to see you smiling again.”

Gods, if only he could tell her. If only he could share what he’s done, that he’s met the Moon again; that he’s the most gorgeous man Dean has ever known, that she has to meet him, needs to admire him just as much as Dean does.

“I got pie,” he says instead. She tsks.

“Such a sad look and all it took was some dessert to cheer you up?”

He huffs, raises his eyebrows. “People really underestimate how much I love pie.”

She laughs, exactly as he wanted, and his chest fills with warmth. He hates lying to her, but it’s necessary.

“Well, I’m glad.” She slides her hand away and instead takes his hand in both of hers, carefully not to touch the mark, but holding it up so she can see it. A few seconds tick by. “He was a beautiful young man. Carried a sense of elegance I only wish I had.”

He tries not to blush, clears his throat instead. “You’re the most elegant person in the Sky, Mom.”

“Oh, don’t be silly.” She’s smiling anyways, a little color to her cheeks. Her eyes have a far-away, dreamy quality for a moment, and then she looks him in the eye. “I do wish you could see him again, Dean. I’m sorry.”

“Hey,” his voice sort-of-almost cracks, “It’s not a big deal.”

She looks so sad, on his behalf, and he can’t help but lean down to kiss the top of her head. “It’s really okay. Some pie and a walk and I’m all better.”

“I know that you’re lying, but alright.” Gods, he really does wish he didn’t have to. His eyes are apologetic, and she steps back. “Do whatever you must, I’m always here if you need somebody.”

“Thanks, Ma.” His guilt is almost overwhelming. “Love you.”

She stops at the door, right before she closes it. Her eyes are so gentle, so loving. “I love you too, sweetheart.”

He could really use that walk.

~

In no time at all, he finds himself back at his clearing, leaning back against his tree, eyes sliding shut out of pure habit. Only a few more hours and he’ll go back to that island on the border. He’ll get to try a blueberry turnover – he’s sure that’s what it was called – and they’ll sit and talk and...

He’s lost his mind. He’s so far in the pit there’s no crawling out. Castiel is just, just so gorgeous, and they complete each other, they’re each other’s other half, and Dean wonders if that means more than one thing.

Which is ridiculous. Never in his life has he put so much thought into something like this, and here he is repeating the same thing to himself over and over. He only just met Castiel, he blah blah blah.

Whatever, Dean just really... really likes him.

Looking up at the sky, cracking his eyes open, he wonders if Castiel is doing the same. Sitting at that pond he was talking about, talking with the koi fish, or maybe walking with the wolves. He doesn’t notice that he’s pressing on his mark with his thumb.

More than anything, he wants to show Castiel his home. He wants to see the expressions on his face when he sees tigers; he wants to let him taste every pastry that Tessa makes; he wants to go flying with him and show him the clouds.

The thought brings a smile to his face.

Content for now, with time to spare, he closes his eyes again and lets himself dream.

~

It doesn’t come nearly fast enough, but finally the time comes. Sleeping later than usual and waking up earlier has taken a bit of a toll of Dean, and he’s yawning constantly, but his excitement keeps him energized and alert. Which does very strange things to the weather. The Sun is tired, yet excited, and it’s almost like the colors are dimmer but the light is shining just as brightly as always.

Dean climbs on Impala’s back, once again, when he’s certain everybody is asleep, wearing his hood again so he can feel like a badass. The pie, still warm, is cradled securely on his lap, and he’s assured Impala that if for whatever reason he drops it she can bet they’re going to dive and catch it.

She doesn’t look very amused, but Dean doesn’t end up dropping anything, so none of it matters.

This time when he lands on the island, Impala takes off right away, off to find a nice place to nap or fly about, Dean is too focussed on the border to care. Castiel isn’t there this time. Dean must be early.

He stands next to the wall of darkness, looks into the dark shades of blue and green that it gives everything, and finds himself thinking it’s... gorgeous. It really is quite pretty, and it’s all Castiel’s, which makes it just that much more appealing.

He contemplates putting his hands through, or stepping onto the other side to wait, but his feet stay firmly planted exactly where they are. Who knows how far they are from any sort of town, but maybe there are some sort of night watch team, Dean has no idea.

So he sits down, pulls the pie out from under his arm, opens the box to inspect it, make sure it didn’t get damaged in any way. It looks perfect, smells perfect, and Dean is drooling so quickly he practically slams the box shut. What he told his mom was a lie, but in some ways he’s pretty certain, even if he never got to see Castiel again, pie would certainly help.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long. Castiel touches down, the force of his wings pushing the grass and making it bend. He’s slightly flushed and his eyes are so bright...

And in his hands is a basket of pastries.

“Castiel.” Gods, Dean doesn’t care how happy he sounds to see him. Castiel smiles ever so gently at him, sitting down in the grass, crossing his legs as well so they can face each other again, a bit more space between them than last time.

“Hello, Dean.” His voice sends a shiver down Dean’s spine, and Castiel smirks. Dammit, he knows exactly what he’s doing. “I’m sorry for my tardiness, I was nearly caught by my brother.”

Well at least he wasn’t. “Gabriel likes to stay up late?”

“Oh, no, my,” he pauses for another moment, and Dean just, he doesn’t push, but he wants to know. He wants to know everything. “My much older brother, Lucifer.”

Lucifer. Lucifer. Dean tries the name out in his head a few times, and it- there’s nothing wrong with it, it sounds sort of pretty, but there’s a weight in Dean’s stomach that comes with it, and he can’t place what it is.

So instead he laughs. “How many brothers do you have?”

“Well, they aren’t,” Castiel is gently, absently, bringing food out of the basket. The pastries are all carefully, separately wrapped in cloth. “My family is very large, and some of the lines are even lost to me.”

Dean just looks at him, waiting for him to continue.

“There is Gabriel, who despite being much different than me, is probably my closest sibling. He is older by three years. There is Balthazar, who is my age. Anna is only older than me by one year. Michael and Lucifer are both five years older than me. Inias is four years younger than me.” He’s looking distant like he’s sifting out who is worth bringing up.

Dean is just gaping. “You have that many siblings?” Dean can’t imagine having more than one.

“Some are cousins. Some are... Like I said, my bloodline is very confusing. I have many uncles and aunts and caretakers. Some are not actually related to me, they are children of other families, but our close relationship has made them like my family.”

Okay, that Dean can understand.

“I have one brother.” It’s only fair, that he trades off. “I mentioned him before. Sam.”

Castiel says nothing, but he heard Dean, Dean knows. He’s unwrapping strange, crescent shaped desserts with utter concentration.

And then; “You love your brother very much.”

Dean blinks. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

“My brothers and sisters and I, we are... not very close.”

He can’t imagine not being close to your family. The idea itself is so strange he can’t comprehend it.

“I’m sorry.”

Castiel looks at him strangely. “Why?”

Dean shrugs. “I just, I can’t imagine not being close to your family. It sounds like it sucks.”

“It is what I’m used to.” He’s smiling, for Dean’s benefit, to soothe him. So Dean nods, because it really isn’t his business.

“Now,” Castiel sounds much happier not talking about it, “I brought you dessert, and I have to admit that I’ve been very eager to try your apple pie.”

Here’s something Dean can always relate to. Dessert. He pulls the box out. Took the liberty of cutting it into slices when he was at home, and had to throw the knife across the room so he didn’t lick the filling off.

“So, what first?”

Castiel pulls plates and forks out of his basket, and it’s so much like a picnic that Dean would find it childish, but Castiel looks like it’s so normal; he looks so content.

“I would very much like to try some pie, and considering the look on your face, so would you?”

Dean flushes. Caught again. He dishes them up. It would be a lie if he were to say he wasn’t nervous. Pie is sacred, it’s the food of the Gods – in Deans opinion, but it should be everybody’s opinion, really – so he has no idea what he’ll do if Castiel for some reason doesn’t like it.

Castiel takes the plate with careful hands, like he’s afraid it’s going to break. He turns it and holds it up so he can look, inspects the color and the texture and the shape before he finally breaks a piece off with his fork. Dean won’t lie, he’s staring.

And he continues to stare as the piece enters Castiel’s mouth. His eyes shut as he tastes, tongue curling around the edge of the fork. Dean watches him savor every different flavor, the flakiness of the crust, the cinnamon, and watches him finally swallow.

Castiel opens his eyes, and Dean’s face is hot. Holy shit, that was really...

Woah.

“I can see why you like it so much,” he says, and his tongue darts out to pick a crumb off the corner of his lip.

Thank the Gods. Dean feels so relieved. “You like it?” He has to make sure.

“It’s slightly tart, I wasn’t expecting that. And the cinnamon adds... it’s very good, Dean. Thank you.” He puts emphasis, and Dean isn’t sure if he’s doing it on purpose, by putting another piece in his mouth. Dean finally, finally, takes his own bite, and groans. The wait was definitely worth it.

“I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do if you didn’t like it. Sacred food, man.”

He finishes his slice in record time, and Castiel laughs, reaching across to wipe some of the sugar off of his lips with his thumb.

“It’s delicious, so no more worrying.”

And that coming from a guy that doesn’t really like sweets – which is still a crime – is pretty damn awesome if Dean can say so, himself.

“Now, gimme one of your berry things.” He makes grabby hands, and Castiel laughs again. Gods, it’s beautiful.

He does as told, passing a treat over to Dean, but doesn’t pick one up himself. Dean isn’t sure how he’s actually supposed to eat it, but he doesn’t really care about etiquette because it’s just Castiel, so he takes a bite off the the end, not even bothering with a fork or knife.

It’s so sweet, so deliciously sweet and fresh, nothing like an apple, and he makes a small appreciative sound, eyes fluttering shut. Too many of those and his stomach would ache for hours, but its freaking delicious.

“I’m going to take a wild guess and say you like it?”

“Gods, that’s awesome.”

“They’re Gabriel’s favorite. Probably the sweetest pastry I know of.”

“You aren’t a fan?”

“Not so much.”

“Hmm.” Dean really does not mind at all that he gets the entire thing to himself. He breaks off the last bite with a small yawn and covers his mouth, embarrassed because, ew, he has food in his mouth. But Castiel just reaches out, clasping their hands together.

In seconds he feels energy travel up his fingers and shoot up his arm. It wakes him up a little bit, and he wonders why he didn’t do that when Castiel was falling asleep against him the first time.

“Thanks.”

Castiel just squeezes and doesn’t let go. Dean lights up; his glow literally flashing brighter for a split second. There’s a stain of purple on his sleeve, because he’s an idiot and wiped his mouth, but it’s gone in a flash.

He wants another slice of pie, but his stomach growls in warning and he just holds himself back, putting the box behind him so he doesn’t have to look at it.

And then his mouth opens, and his talking and has no time to censor himself at all.

“You know, I really want to show you my home.”

And holy shit- holy shit he actually just said that, oh wow. Alright, he just, he should leave or something because that’s really not good, that’s probably a million steps too far. It’s ridiculous too, because it would be nearly impossible, and what’s not to say that the Moon would dissolve or something if he steps completely into daylight.

Castiel is staring at him with that same, calm expression, eyes soft and a little bit sad. “I would love that.”

But they both know it can’t happen.

No. No, wait. When has he ever given up on anything, he rules this half of the sky, he can do whatever the hell he damn well pleases.

“Dean,” Castiel can tell what he’s thinking, is pulling his hand up to cradle it between both of his like a silent plea to calm down before he disappoints himself.

“Why not?” He’s getting excited now. He can feel it all, can start planning everything out in his head. “Why couldn’t I take you over here, give you a tour? ‘Because it’s never happened before’? Because I’m starting to think that’s all a bunch of bullshit.”

“If we were caught-“

What?” Because it’s all starting to sink in. “There’s this fear that we’re going to get caught, but we keep forgetting we’re the ones in charge – we’re royalty – we aren’t doing anything wrong, what could they possibly do to us?”

Castiel looks like he actually has an answer, but he’s just looking at Dean. “We would be... breaking tradition. The Gods could be upset.”

Oh yeah, the Night people, they’re really... traditional. He almost wants to yell at him, tell him to stop caring because he can tell that they both feel that weird connection with each other so...

But he has to be calm.

“If they were really upset – really set on us not meeting – I’m pretty sure they would have done something by now.”

Dean looks at Castiel, pleads with him; pulls his hand away to cradle Castiel’s instead, smoothing his thumb over his skin.

“I want to... to show you my home as well.”

Dean’s heart skips. The idea of going over there, it’s exciting and terrifying.

“We have hours left. Hours left before everybody wakes up, please come with me.”

It doesn’t take much. It really doesn’t take much. Castiel looks like he’s going to refuse and pull away, but suddenly he deflates and nods. There’s a spark of excitement there, but also nervousness. Dean doesn’t blame him for that, but he stands up and pulls Castiel up with him.

And then he just.

Just stares at the light.

Dean feels himself melt a little bit. “C’mon.” He doesn’t let go of his hand, and Castiel steps through all at once, blinking rapidly. But nothing happens. He doesn’t explode or die or melt, he just stands there, the colors of his clothes so much brighter so much more vivid, his eyes shining.

“It’s so warm.” That seems to be Castiel’s favorite thing to say.

“Thanks to yours truly.”

He’s ignored. Those blue robes are swishing and twirling as Castiel steps forward and turns around, looking at the clouds, the grass, the water. There isn’t much to see, not here, but it must be a change. Dean can’t even imagine. But he will soon.

“I believe I am... the very first Moon to ever step into the light of the Sun.”

Yeah... Yeah, Dean’s pretty certain that’s the case.

“No pressure or anything.” Castiel just gives his a look, and Dean squeezes his hand. “Come on, this is nothing.”

He whistles and this time Impala appears in a burst of flames, the tendrils licking over her feathers for half a second before fading away. She stares at Castiel, approaching him slowly, and Dean feels a spike of fear, like she’s going to throw a fit.

But instead she stretches out her wings, and Castiel mimics her in a heartbeat. Dean wants so badly to reach out and touch, but that would be inappropriate. Still, he hopes they’re soft. Feathers are usually soft.

“You just stay with me,” Impala bows low so he can swing a leg over her back and climb on, “and I’ll take you to see the tigers, alright?”

Castiel stretches his wings and leaps over the edge. It looks really... unnatural, seeing a person fly, but it’s beautiful. His robes are designed to flow around him as he soars, and Dean has been doing nothing but stare since he met Castiel, there’s no way he’s stopping now.

Impala leaps and flaps her wings, and it takes a moment for them to line up, but then they’re... they’re flying together. The breeze is perfect and the sky is bright, and Castiel isn’t paying any attention to Dean, just staring at the open Sky around him.

Dean chuckles. “You like it?”

“It’s... the same, but different. Bright. Very bright.”

They reach the town, the castle; Dean’s home. Castiel is staring down at it all with huge eyes, taking it all in, the silence as everybody sleeps. Dean makes a split-second decision and leads Castiel to his room, in through his carved-out Phoenix window.

“Sorry, let me just--“ he pulls his hood off, leaving only his tunic, and Castiel is just.

Still looking at everything.

Gods, Dean wonders if he has some sort of super memory, like he’s saving everything he sees to go over again later. Even the cracks in the wall hold his interest.

Dean can’t help but laugh. It’s precious, it’s really precious. The Moon is in his bedroom.

Oh.

Oh, he means. His room. Where his bed is.

His face heats up anyways, and Castiel is now staring at him, unreadable. Dean clears his throat.

“I’m uh, all good. If you want to go to the forest now. Don’t think walking around the courtyard would be the best idea. Wish I could show you the garden...”

“It’s alright.” And the great thing is that it really does sound like it’s alright. He’s okay with it, he’s not, not disappointed.

~

They land a few feet away from Dean’s clearing. The line of the trees is too open, so Dean leads them directly to the forest. Its bright and gold, and Castiel looks so out of place; his pale skin, his dark hair, his dark, navy blue clothes.

Every bit as regal as he is. Gods, his very presence...

“The trees are gold.”

Gods, Gods, he sounds so breathy and awed, and if Dean feels any more pride he’s going to burst with it.

“Come here, I want to show you my spot.” He holds his hand out and Castiel takes it without thought, their fingers twining together as they walk. The birds are all looking at them, chirping in confusion, in delight.

“I think they want to meet you.”

Castiel smiles, a sweet thing. “I want to meet them too.”

A branch snaps. There’s a little growl. A tiger emerges, one of the gorgeous pale ones, the golden ones. It purrs and jumps up, wrapping both of its huge arms around Dean and bringing him to the ground in a massive hug, his laughter echoing through the whole forest.

Castiel actually joins him, being knocked down by default, and his laughter is so strong there are tears in his eyes; his voice rich and full and happy.

Dean hugs back, wrapping both arms around it, chuckling into its fur, and it rubs its cheek against Castiel’s head, its purr vibrating through Dean’s entire body. “Hey, buddy, hey.”

“This is a tiger.”He sounds like he’s talking to himself, and Dean just... he just can’t handle how cute it is.

“Mhmm. They like hugs.” His voice lowers and he groans as he tries to escape. “As you can see.”

Castiel is still chuckling, still sounding so happy, and the tiger finally moves back so they can get up, sitting and licking at its paws.

Dean holds out a hand to help Castiel up, and he nearly falls into Dean.

The tiger holds a paw out to Castiel, who takes it and gives it a brief shake.

“His name is Aiyon.”

It lets out a low growl.

“I am happy to meet your acquaintance.”

He’s like a kid. Just like a little kid, like Sammy; so excited by everything around him, the simplest things making him excited.

Dean nods. “Oh yeah, you’re that... you’re the one expecting cubs. How is that, everything good? Your girl doing alright?”

Aiyon nods, bows briefly to them both, and goes on his way, slipping back through the trees towards his home.

“He was very excited to see you.”

Dean chuckles, taking Castiel’s hand again. There’s that little furrow to his brow, like he’s still taking it in.

A few steps. It only takes a few steps and they’re finally in Dean’s clearing, and Dean immediately and automatically falls against his tree, spreading his legs out in front of him, feeling the bark against his back.

“This is your...”

“This is my fish pond.”

“Your fish pond.”

Dean shuts his eyes and listens to Castiel’s footsteps as he explores, slow. He makes a noise when he sees a rabbit, and picks it up, cradling it to his chest and running a hand down its back, bringing it over to Dean and lowering himself, crossing his legs, the rabbit calm and secure in his arms.

“It looks like its bleeding.” Castiel deadpans. Dean opens his eyes. It takes a second, a few seconds for it to really sink in, and he doubles over in laughter, chest heaving.

“I told you they had red fur.”

“You did, but it still looks like its bleeding.”

Dean wheezes and tips his head back against the tree. Castiel is still cradling the rabbit close, and it’s sniffing him all over, curious about his presence here.

His eyes slide shut again. Silence.

It’s comfortable, the quiet.

Tell Dean last month that we would be here, sitting in his forest with the Moon, and he would have laughed. He would have called you crazy. But it's real, and it’s the best Dean’s felt in ages.

He hears the rabbit hop away.

“I like your home. I wish I had the chance to experience it earlier. Your animals are different, and your air feels different, like there’s different energy in the air.”

“Tell me more about your home.”

Castiel shifts to get comfortable, and Dean sits up, suddenly wanting him closer, wanting him so much closer. He opens his arms, and Castiel stares at him for what feels like a full minute before he shuffles closer, adjusting himself and leaning back, back to Dean’s chest. Dean locks his arms around him, holding him close.

His heart is skipping every second beat. Castiel is warm, so so warm, and real, and solid.

Castiel sighs, leaning back against him, relaxing into him. “Dean...”

“Mhmm.” He ducks his face into Castiel’s hair, stroking his thumbs over his stomach.

“You want to hear about my home?”

“Just... talk to me.”

Castiel pauses to think. Dean can feel him breathing, can feel his own chest push against his back when he takes a breath.

“My brother Lucifer has the most beautiful wings. Out of everyone, he is known for them. They are the purest shade of white I have ever seen, and they hold a glow to them, similar to you and I. Townsfolk will come to the castle just to catch a glimpse of them.” He sounds, not jealous, but a little bit sad. “When my wings finally broke my skin, some of my family believed it was a curse. They’ve stopped believing so now, though Lucifer seems to... I really am unsure what he thinks. He looks at them strangely. I wonder if he finds them disgusting.”

He says it so plainly, like it isn’t an insult, just a normal thing, but Dean still squeezes him closer. “They’re not.”

Castiel’s eyes flutter open and then close again. “It means a lot for you to say that.”

“I don’t understand how anybody could find them anything other than gorgeous. Wish I had’em.”

Castiel smiles, and Deans chest bursts with pride. He’s continuing Dean’s request and talking more.

“Hmm. There is a wolf, her name is Elune. She has five pups, and Gabriel is intent on keeping one of them as a pet. I’m not quite sure how that would go over.”

“Wolves aren’t really fond of people?”

“Not the wolves, my brother. He likes to cause mischief, I’m not sure I trust him looking after an animal.”

Dean huffs out a laugh. “Does he hate me for crashing into him?”

“He complained for a while when we got home, but I don’t think he really meant it.”

“Good. I’d hate to have him as an enemy.” He jokes.

Castiel sighs again, and this time Dean notices the slight exhaustion to him, the way it drags out of his mouth. His brow furrows in worry. “Are you still tired?”

“I’m alright.”

“You aren’t,” Dean slides a hand up to cradle his chin, tilting his head back so he’s looking at Dean. “Tell me what’s wrong. Please.” He adds as an afterthought.

Castiel fits perfectly under his chin.

“I have been having strange dreams that escape me when I wake. And ‘bad feelings’. But I’m sure it’s nothing, and once I’m with you they go away, so I am alright.”

Dean strokes his thumb over Castiel’s lips. Bad feelings and dreams, his mama taught him, are never just bad feelings, they always mean something. And he can tell Castiel knows this, that he’s truly bothered by it.

“Do you want to sleep?”

Castiel’s eyes widen, so blue and so close. “Here?”

“Mhmm.” Dean drops his hand, wraps his arm against Castiel again. “Right here. With me. Since it helps.”

Castiel goes soft, but he looks unsure. “It’s so bright. And if I am missing... and you should go home.”

“Cas,” it slips out. He doesn’t mean to say it, it just slips out, his voice warm and soft and slightly exasperated. Castiel blinks at him, and then goes boneless, making the most adorable, content noise.

“Sleep,” Dean whispers, and he leans down. He leans down, and kisses Castiel’s – Cas’ – head, lips in his soft hair. “Go to sleep, I’m right here.”

Cas does, but not before Dean picks up the quietest mumble. “Nobody’s ever called me ‘Cas’ before.”

~

Only a few weeks earlier – a month at most – one of Dean’s people had gone missing.

Dean doesn’t think about it. Nobody really does. It hung heavy in the air for many sleeps, people were curious, but nobody had really known the woman, and she was a bit... strange. According to almost everybody, she was always going on about some kind of adventure; of faraway lands, of another world beneath the line of clouds.

There are tales that say special people, people with adventurous hearts, whose true desire is to break through, can make it through the clouds, though they may never return. People still don’t know if they’re true or not.

Regardless, the woman never returned.

So people thought about it, and they whispered, but nobody was really bothered. If the woman got what she wanted, then they had no right to complain. They were happy for her, even though none of them even knew her name.

They continued on, completely oblivious to the truth.

The woman fell. She fell from her Phoenix; fell through the sky, while the bird screamed and dove after her, unable to break through the clouds, unable to follow her.

They have no idea that the woman died, that her Phoenix landed on a nearby island and wept, prepared to die, as Phoenixes do when their masters pass on; to turn to ash, to combust and be reborn as a new egg, as a new bird, to have his memories erased.

But there was something different this time.

This Phoenix loved his master. He cherished her and loved her in ways much different than that of a typical bond. He was rather... rather in love with her. And the guilt swallowed him whole, the grief was a brand new kind of torture, and he waited.

And waited.

But that part of him, that special part of him, that accepted death and accepted his new life, would not come.

The people in the village have no idea that at this moment, a man appeared, with wings that glowed; the brightest of them all. Castiel’s cherished brother.

He surveyed the bird with eyes of a snake, feigning sweetness, and the Phoenix was awed by his presence; bowed to him out of instinct.

“You have lost something precious,” Lucifer said. “And I, myself, have recently lost something dear to me. We are very much alike, you and I.”

The bird, confused and angry, stared at the man, prepared to fly away.

“I can help you. I can help you get her back. In fact,” he pretended to think, tapped his fingers to his chin, hiding a smirk as the Phoenix leaned closer, frozen in place, “I can do much more than that. I can change your form; can turn you into one of us, give you skin. So she may love you in return.”

The bird opened its beak, and Lucifer held up a finger. “Ah, ah, ah. If,” he stood up straighter, hands clasped behind him. “I can help you if, and only if, you help me. It won’t be too hard. Run a few errands, spy on a few people, nothing really physical. Just... a few simple tasks.”

The bird did not think, just nodded frantically, wanting his beloved back.

Lucifer snapped his fingers, and the body of feathers was transformed to one of skin. A man, complete with appropriate, dark clothing. He made a noise of shock and surveyed his new limbs, flexing his fingers.

“How dashing you look. And I did you a favor. You may change forms at will.”

The man licked his lips and spoke, and his voice surprised even him. “What would you have me do?” He could feel fire traveling under his skin, through his bones.

“All I ask is for you to watch your Sun for me. Hide in the cover of your feathers, and report back to me. When I have gathered the information I need, I will bring your love back.”

Lucifer vanished, back to his home, and Elias, the cursed Phoenix, took to the sky.

~

Castiel sleeps for hours, and Dean drifts in and out of consciousness. Most of the time he just thought he was dreaming, when he woke and Cas was still asleep on his chest, head turned and tucked into his neck, his wings spilling out from under him and draping over the ground.

It was all like a really good, really impossible dream. Except it was happening. To Dean. Right now.

He let his fingers spread out, feeling the textures of Cas’ robes, feeling his stomach rise and fall as he takes slow, even breaths. Sometimes he ducked down to kiss his head, just because he could, and Cas always mumbled something in his sleep and made a poor attempt to roll over and closer to Dean.

Even while he was resting, he kept his hardened expression, like he was ready to wake up and start shouting out orders. Dean still didn’t understand him. So naive, yet at the same time he carried himself like royalty, like he was. Like a soldier.

Dean made a pact to never, ever get him mad. Ever. He’s pretty certain he wouldn’t live to tell the tale.

But it was so weird to think, that his other half, the thing holding the very Sky together, was sleeping in Dean’s arms like some sort of child.

Not even weird, fucking strange. Almost wrong, but not like Dean was complaining or anything.

Finally, Cas opened his eyes, slowly, and his entire body froze as he forgot where he was, why it was so damn bright, and his wings made an attempt to come up, nearly slapping Dean across the face while they curled around Cas and blocked out everything.

He chuckles, and Cas makes another little sound and peeks up to look at him. “Oh.

“Yeah, oh,” Dean drawls.

He looks so damn sleepy, and Dean has no idea how he got bed head, but he’s got it, his hair perfectly fluffed.

“Rise and shine, sleepyhead.”

“I’ve never hear that expression.”

“Well you have now. Up you get, it’s a beautiful day.”

“Day. Yes.”

Castiel pushes himself off of Dean, and it’s awkward and uncomfortable but they manage. He pokes Dean in the stomach and presses on his ribs, and they both end up laughing as Cas practically rolls off. Dean takes Cas’ offered hand and hauls himself off the ground, his back aches, but he rolls his shoulders and wills it away, soothing his muscles with his inner heat.

“I really...” Cas looks stressed out, now that he’s waking up. His eyes are wide. “I really should be getting home.”

Oh shit. Oh, shit, yeah. Yeah.

And everybody is probably awake now. There’s no way he can just fly over them without being seen. Shit, shit, okay.

“Thank you – for sharing your home with me. I am excited to show you mine. But I really do need to get home before anybody notices that I’m missing.”

“Yeah, of course, but you do realize that --“

“I ‘have it covered’ as you would say.”

He steps forward into Dean’s personal space and reaches up to cradle the back of his head. Dean’s heart is absolutely pounding. But he pulls him down to press their foreheads together, their noses brushing in the process.

“I’ll see you soon,” he whispers, and Dean still can’t breathe.

Cas steps back, flaps his wings, curls them around himself, and when Dean blinks he’s gone. Vanished into thin air.

Oh. That solves that problem.

~

Dean doesn’t really know what soon means, exactly. He thinks it over as he walks back home, and realizes he desperately wants a bath. And a change of clothes.

Impala is in the courtyard with Lily when Dean wanders in. They’re preening each other and talking quietly, cooing back and forth, and Dean smiles as he walks by, around the fountain and up the front steps to the doors.

It’s quite lively today. People are running around through the halls. He finds his way to the main hall. There’s a Phoenix by the wall that Dean doesn’t recognize. He narrows his eyes at it, and it stares right back, something definitely off.

But he ignores it. Must be one of the chef’s.

Right. Bath.

He slips by everybody to get to his room, to his own private washroom, and prepares a perfect bath in a matter of seconds, with none of that girly stuff that his mom likes to put; lavender scents or bubbles. Just warm water and he’s set.

He sinks into it and breathes out, letting the water peel any grime off of his skin while he fiddles with his palm, his little mark.

Which means so much more now. Like some sort of possessive thing, like they’ve claimed each other. Which totally doesn’t make Dean’s stomach flip at all.

~

Later means... later. A little while later. Dean goes back to the island later on and Cas never shows. He goes home with a slump to his shoulders and disappointment settling heavy in his stomach. He wanted to see him, again. Missed him already.

Which is stupid, but he doesn’t care.

Sam is awake when he comes home. Sitting on the edge of Dean’s bed, and Dean freezes as Impala flies away. Sam is just looking at him, tapping his knee like it’s no big deal.

“Sam, I was out --“

“I know where you were.” Sam shrugs, mouth turning down in that typical ‘meh’ face. “You’re an idiot if you think I wouldn’t notice.”

Shit. Shiiit.

“I can, uh.”

“Explain?” Sam chuckles. Dean steps closer to him. “Dean, please. There’s nothing for you to explain, I don’t care.

Dean, for a moment, wonders if Sam has it all wrong, if he thinks something else of Dean. Because he should definitely care, most people would care. Sam is just looking at his face, and he huffs, blowing his bangs out of his face and rolling his eyes.

“You like him.” Sam shrugs again. “I just came by here to, ya know, let you know that I know.”

For fuck’s sake, does everybody know?

Sam chuckles. “No, not everybody knows. And no I didn’t read your mind. I just...” He scrunches up his nose. “You’re my brother. I just wanted to make it clear that I’m not gonna run and tell everybody, and I’m not gonna be a judgemental prick about it.”

Dean slumps. “Yeah?”

“Even though you are acting like a teenage girl.” Dean huffs. What was he expecting? But Sam is just smiling. “No, seriously, you are. Sneaking out and staring at your hand like it holds the secrets of life. Not really subtle. Well, to me anyways.”

“Uuhhhh.” Dean isn’t really sure what he’s supposed to say. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. No, really. Don’t mention it. If you two are off doing – whatever – I don’t wanna know.”

Sam. For fuck’s sake we just talk.

“Suuuure you do.”

Dean glares.

“Go to sleep, Dean. You look like you need it.” His nose scrunches up. “Ew. I don’t want to know why.”

Dean pinches the bridge of his nose. “Sam.”

“Going, going.” He stands up and wraps Dean up in a hug, which Dean gladly returns. “Sweet dreams, Dean.”

“Sleep well, Sammy.”

And then the door is closing. And Dean wonders just how many other encounters he’s going to have with people in his room knowing everything about him.

~

Dean dreams about the koi fish. He dreams of him and Cas walking in the gardens, in the shadows. He hears wolves howling and the small splashes of the water when the fish swim. He imagines mountains, imagines stars.

He and Cas walk everywhere, their hands clasped. They watch the water; sit on the shore of a great lake side by side, making shapes. Dean creates a tunnel, morphs it into a dragon, lets it go and laughs as the water rains down and soaks them both.

The wolf cubs stumble and run along the sand, leaving tiny paw prints.

It’s peaceful. But Cas isn’t looking at him. He’s staring out at the water with a blank expression. Not even blinking, just staring, his wings locked in place behind him. Dean waves a cautious hand in front of his face but gets nothing.

He hears himself say “Cas?”, and feels dread, but doesn’t know why.

A bird cries, but he wakes up in bed to Impala looking down at him, head cocked to the side, and he’s not sure if the sound was in his dreams or not.

~

Dean, like the townspeople, like every other person in the castle, is oblivious to the Phoenix flying above. He doesn’t see him on the castle rooftop or flying over the forest. He doesn’t notice that he’s being watched, that when he tucked Cas against him in his clearing, there was a set of eyes trained on him.

He doesn’t know that the bird crosses the border, landing with grace, transforming to a man already kneeling before his leader.

Lucifer knows. He knows everything. His brothers are idiots, and they fail to notice their own prince is vanishing when they all go off to dreamland, but he knows. And Castiel is every bit as correct as he is powerful.

Lucifer’s wings may be bright, but it means nothing. Even with Castiel’s disfiguration, with his charred feathers, he still has the love and respect of every single one of just subjects. Just because of a title and a bit of extra magic.

And that cannot be allowed to continue. Lucifer is older, he deserves the power, deserves the attention that was his to begin with. He will not lose out to his brother simply because he was born a little different. The Moon can be damned; Lucifer will be the new Moon.

And his brother has made it all that much easier. His plans have changed. Now he can have both. Castiel has lured the Sun right into his arms, and his spy has made it all that much easier. If dear Castiel were to go missing, or be injured, per se, it would only take one messenger falcon to have the Sun in a complete panic.

He’ll run willingly to Lucifer. Will give up his power to spare his dear, beloved friend, and the Sky will be completely in Lucifer’s control.

So simple, yet foolproof.

Perfect.

~

Dean spends a day in town with his brother and Jess. His hands fiddle in his pockets without rest, but he continues smiling as he watches Sam continue in his attempts to woo Jess. Completely ridiculous things, and Dean has to hide his smirk behind his hand. Sam is the smartest kid Dean knows, but he can’t see the most obvious truth.

He won Jessica’s heart a long time ago. She’s told him this but he still continues to try and prove himself to her, and it’s really stupidly adorable. Like a giant puppy, Sam is relentless. He holds her hand and opens doors for her and pays for their lunch, and Dean doesn’t mind at all that he’s just there to tag along.

Not really sure why Sam invited him to begin with, but he has nothing better to do.

Everywhere they go he’s met with a polite nod and a ‘sire’. Every person that passes is sure to wave or curtsey or offer him free gifts.

But mostly he just spends his time trailing along, thinking about why Cas hasn’t sent him any messages lately. It’s been a few sleeps, over a week, and nothing. They only met twice; maybe Dean pushed the whole cuddly thing too fast. It is a bit weird for him; maybe Cas is really not into the whole touchy touchy-ness.

He did leave really fast.

But then some little nagging and irritating part of Dean’s brain reminds him that Cas was smiling and pulled their foreheads down together, and Dean could feel the affection radiating off of him, it was obvious.

So he must just be really, really busy. Nightly Moon duties and all that. Dean’s lucky that he never really has a lot of work to do.

Focusing on more important things, he keeps Sam in his sight and thinks about what he’s going to do when he invites Cas back here. To his home. One of these days they’re going to have to let somebody know. Better that way than everybody else finding out on their own.

And sneaking around isn’t really... ideal.

Dean could live with it, sure, but he wants Cas to see the town when it thrives; when there are festivals and everybody dances. He wants to tour the castle with him, Gods, he wants to just.

Stop it, Dean. Stop, just.

Stop.

Sam shouts for him and he hurries ahead, but his eyes are unfocused, and his mind is a mess.

~

He has more sleep terrors.

Sam is getting concerned, and he’s woken up more than once to his mom hovering by his bedside, stroking his cheeks with a wet cloth. He’s warm, and his aura is fading, and the people in town are upset and concerned with the dull atmosphere. The weather has been less than desired.

His light is dull, like his moods, and he can’t even remember his dreams anymore. They blur with reality, but he knows he senses dread.

Mary suggests that he see Missouri. Talk to a psychic. Have it explained to him.

But he can’t just, just go to somebody. This is something he has to figure out by himself. It’s like it concerns him and only him. It does mean something - he can tell it means something – but he’s never experienced dreams like this in his lifetime, and he needs to figure it out alone.

Cas still doesn’t show up. It’s been a week, and no sign of him. Dean goes out to meet him at their usual time, but he’s never there. There’s no sign that he’s been there. And no letters, no Claire flying in to deliver a message.

He’s just gone. And it’s not normal.

Before the Eclipse, this wouldn’t bother Dean. He would wake up and go for a walk and do stupid princely stuff, and perform tiny little magic tricks for kids he passed on the street, and it wouldn’t bother him that nobody was waiting for him out there in the Sky.

Now it feels lonely. Like something is missing, something that wasn’t there before. And technically, taking away that thing should place Dean right back where he was, when that thing wasn’t there. But no, taking that thing away has torn up all the pages, ripped away everything else.

And it’s not fair.

~

His skin goes pale. He can feel it down in his bones, the worry and the sadness. The clouds overhead darken and the air is slightly chilled. Jess tells her mom that Dean is sick, and that he’ll be totally okay with rest. She knows it’s false, but Sam asks her to do it so Tessa will spread it around, so nobody will suspect that Dean is suffering from something else entirely.

He wakes and lies in bed. Doesn’t move, doesn’t make a sound, just stares at his ceiling and breathes. Mary comes in, takes a seat on the edge of his bed, and strokes his hair. It’s late, much later than usual. Everybody else is already awake.

“I thought you were getting better.”

His palm aches. The tattoo is sensitive, and even the pressure of his sheets has the effect of rubbing gravel on a burn. It’s at this moment, with his mom by his side, with his chest heavy, that Dean realizes that Jess told her mother the truth.

He’s sick.

Chuck has told him a million times, when he was small and trying to worm his way out of history lessons, that the Sun and the Moon both are incapable of being sick. With anything, no matter how big or small. A stomach flu, maybe. If they eat bad food nausea can occur. Overtiredness can cause an effect similar to a head cold.

But genuine sickness, that’s impossible. The balance they hold with each other, the power they have, it prevents them from falling ill.

The balance.

With.

Mary gasps as he jolts upright, flailing under the blankets, eyes wide.

“I’m sick.” He scrambles for her hand, presses it to his forehead. “Am I warm, do I have a fever?”

“You’re always warm, honey.”

“But am I- am I burning up?”

She laughs a little bit at his hysteria, but her brow is furrowed with concern. “Dean, Chuck’s told you a dozen times that you can’t get sick.”

Dean’s eyes widen further, and his voice is harsh, his hands moving about as he speaks. “No, he told me that the Sun and the Moon can’t get sick unless something is wrong with the other. Because of the whole promise to balance.”

“Dean, maybe I should go get Chuck, get him to-“

“No, you don’t get it! Castiel. Castiel’s sick, there’s something wrong, I have to go.” He’s swinging his legs over the side of the bed before she can say a word against it.

“Castiel? Dean, who in the world is Castiel?”

He freezes. Shit. Shit, shit, he didn’t mean to. Uh.

But he turns around, slow and a bit nervous, and she’s looking at him like she already knows.

~

In the Sky, passing over the border, Elias kneels before Lucifer.

“The prince knows.”

“Finally. Good Gods, that boy is slow.”

~

Dean opens his mouth to say something, to respond to his mom.

Instead his chest clenches tight with pain and he falls to his knees, the glow around him flickering. His mother rushes to his side, but he doesn’t hear her calling. His hand is on fire, but he doesn’t see any flames, just feels the scorching heat surrounding the mark, the pain so incredible he has to muffle his cry in his knees.

And then just like that it’s gone. The agony reaches its peak and vanishes as if it never happened.

He goes absolutely numb, weak as a newborn lamb as he lifts his head. His mom is close to crying, her hand over her mouth while she reaches to him, shaking with panic, and he stands on shaky legs, reaching back, drawing her close while he trembles and she clutches at his shirt, leaning back to cup his face. He’s sweating more than he ever has, his face shining.

“Dean, darling, oh Gods – “

“M’okay, Mom. I’m alright. I’m okay.”

“You’re not.

“I have to go. I have to go-“

The world goes black. He blinks, wondering when he shut his eyes, but the darkness remains.

His aura shifts and weakens, and the Sky is dark. Not as black as the Eclipse – he can still see his mom, thank the Gods. Even from here he can hear the people in town screaming in fear, crying out for their loved ones.

“Mom, Mama, I promise I’m alright, but I have to go.”

She’s reaching for his hands and holding them tight, searching his face. His heart is pounding. “I’m not going to stop you.”

He reaches his arms around her waist and nuzzles at her hair. She smells like home, like cinnamon and flowers.

“You love him.”

His heart skips and he tightens his arms, clenching his eyes shut. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.” He pauses, flushing. This whole time, he’s known, but saying it aloud makes him truly realize it. “But even if I didn’t, I’d still have to go. I have to save him. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I have to save him.”

There’s a flutter, a burst, and Impala is there, Claire resting on her back, a letter strapped to her ankle. It’s tied on roughly, too tight, and she’s shaking, eyes wide. Impala coos softly to her and turns her head to nuzzle at the smaller bird’s white feathers.

“Oh Gods, beautiful, come here.” He reaches out to untie the note, healing her wound as he does; the welt on her leg soothing away. It makes his chest constrict, his hands shake more. Like his energy is limited.

Meet me in the courtyard out back

No signature, nothing. The writing is obviously different that Cas’. Nearly illegible actually, like the person has never written a thing in their life.

“Mom, I need to – “

He doesn’t get it out and she’s reaching over to kiss his cheek, nodding. Just like her, just like his mom, to not even question him. “Be careful. Please.”

He nods and motions for Impala to follow him. His eyes have adjusted to the darkness, and everybody in the hallway is confused but not panicking, which is a relief. He can hear his dad shouting, almost rounds a corner right into Bobby, and barely passes by Chuck as he sneaks out. Can’t be seen, can’t be slowed down, he needs to just go.

It’s totally empty outside, and if it weren’t for the adrenaline he’s nearly certain he would have fallen over, his legs still trembling. Claire nestles down on Impala’s back, and Dean walks slowly into the garden, the courtyard. They’re right in the open, terribly exposed.

He walks into the middle and there’s nobody, so he keeps going. The garden is where he ends up, and there’s a man standing in the shade of the trees that he almost misses. His clothes are dark grey, his coat long enough to nearly brush the ground.

“This isn’t the courtyard.” He tries and fails to keep the rage out of his voice, and everything in him tells him to kill the man now, kill the man that somehow had Claire – Cas’ bird.

“Figured the garden would be a better plan, but I’d already sent the letter.”

Enough. One sentence is enough. “What did you do to him?” He’s marching up, not even thinking, and grabbing the man by the front of his shirt. “What did you do to him?

“No, no, I didn’t do anything.” He’s so fucking neutral, so calm, it’s infuriating. But there’s something in his eyes, akin to nervousness. “I helped.”

Dean slams him back against the tree with strength he miraculously still has. “Close enough, where is he?

“I’m here to show you. If you put me down I can.

The man is bigger than he is, but Dean still holds him tight, snarling in his face. Impala makes a low hissing sound, and-

The man turns to look at her and she steps back, neck straightening in surprise.

He can feel something from her, some... familiarity? “You– “ he looks at the man, really looks. “I know you.”

“If you’re smarter than a plank of wood - most likely. Now can we hurry this along?”

Dean shoves him hard as he steps back.

He transforms into a Phoenix right in front of Dean’s eyes.

That Phoenix. That Dean has been seeing everywhere, that he passed off as one of the chef’s.

“You,” his voice comes through clenches teeth, and he very skin burns with the urge to attack. “You son of a bitch, betraying your own kind–“

He growls at Dean and flaps his wings, and Dean can barely move; is rooted to the spot. Literally seeing red, the color flashing in front of him as his aura changes color, he steps back, ripping his foot away from the force in the earth and going to sit atop Impala, Claire standing and flapping her own wings to take off, giving him room.

Neither of them makes a sound as they take off, Dean following the bird through the darkness. He can’t even see the border anymore, and the only thing that alerts him that they’ve crossed over is the stars.

Whatever hesitation, whatever excitement Dean felt at the idea of seeing Castiel’s home, is long gone. He doesn’t even pay attention to where he is, just follows, lets Impala fly while he slowly loses his mind.

What if he can’t fix this? What if Cas isn’t injured, or sick?

Dean can see him now, his body limp, eyes unseeing; a black shadow looming over his corpse.

The darkness would stay, and Dean would... probably decay into nothing. Turn to ash. Unable to survive without the Moon. If he fails this, if everybody is stuck in this purgatory forever all because Dean fucked this up, he wouldn’t really have a problem with that. Fading away.

The Phoenix-man-whatever the Hell he actually is, leads them to... to Castiel’s town. To the castle, with magnificent banners that proudly present the full moon. With the faerie lights, and the slightly rocky terrain. Dean can see the trees and the bushes and the movement of people down below. They all look oblivious to anything that’s happening. Of course they are, they were born into the darkness.

Meanwhile Dean is so weak he can’t even keep his own bedroom lit.

He’s lead right into the back of the castle.

To Castiel’s garden.

It’s fucking beautiful. Castiel’s words did it no justice. Impala’s feet touch the ground, her talons clicking in the soil, and the other Phoenix takes off in the other direction, too fast for Dean to follow. And he’s left looking around, hearing the splashing of water as the koi fish jump and nibble at things on the surface.

It’s too peaceful. He walks to the water’s edge and the fish gather round, and it’s all too normal for Dean to take in. So surreal compared to his forest, but so normal in the ways that Castiel described it to him. His fist could easily fit into a fish’s mouth.

It stares at him, the one fish with its beady little eyes, mouth gaping open. But the others face away, staring into the shadows.

Dean follows their eyes and turns. There’s a statue by the water, on the other side of the pond, obscured in the shade of the trees.

Dean doesn’t need to step closer, but he does regardless, his eyes stinging, his heart racing, his palm aching.

It’s Castiel. Frozen mid-motion, wings stretched behind him, heavy and cracking under their own weight. This is not a piece of art. This is not a sign of respect and honor to the Moon, this is Castiel – his Castiel, the real thing. There’s not even a shred of his clothing on the ground, not a feather, not a footprint in the grass.

He’s just stuck. And Dean is walking towards him faster, reaching out automatically to cup his cheek. It’s cold, ice cold; lifeless.

No. No, it has to be a trick.

“Cas,” Dean speaks and his voice is loud compared to the silence. As expected Castiel does nothing. Claire is making horrible distressed noises and perching on one of his wings, scraping at it with her beak as if to free him.

“Cas, come on.” He strokes his thumbs over the stone, but Cas’ eyes look past him. “Hey.”

No, no, he can’t let this happen. His heart pounds against his ribs and he shuts his eyes, looking inside himself, summoning whatever little energy he has, willing the light to come out, to wrap around Cas and make him whole. He doesn’t care if he dies, he doesn’t, Cas is the more important one, he’s the royal, proper one with the huge family.

His knees buckles and he slumps, hands gripping Cas’ shoulders for support, aura fading out, wavering. He huffs and tries to breathe, trying again, squeezing his eyes shut, but it just gives a tiny spark and dies out again.

“No.” He can’t- what can he do? “Cas, come on.” He strokes his hands over his cheeks and his hair, the cold so fucking unnatural. A lean and a push and their foreheads are together. “Fuck, Cas, please. Please. I know we haven’t even known each other that long, but wake up. Just- just wake up, I–“

He chokes, and it’s just like that that his anger returns.

“Who did this to you?”

“I did.”

Impala hisses low and backs up, and Dean starts, whirling around, eyes dry, hands clenched by his sides in seconds. He prepares a dramatic ‘show yourself’, considering everybody seems to be hiding from him, but the man is right there.

Tall and proud, hands behind his back. Wings almost as bright as Dean, himself, larger than Castiel’s by far. He has the posture and voice of a dictator, of somebody in charge, but Dean isn’t fooled.

“Lucifer.” It’s a grasp at straws.

“Oh you know who I am, I’m so honored.” The venom practically oozes from his voice. “But I don’t have time for introductions; I’m running quite short of it, actually. Busy, busy, busy.”

Regularly, Dean could strike him down in a heartbeat. But not this time. This time he’s useless.

“I,” he is wasting no time. His hand dips into his tunic and he pulls out a vial, glowing bright white, filled with something that tugs Dean forward. “Have something you want.”

“Cas.” His eyes stay glued to it, to the precious thing, dangling right in front of him.

“Oh my, ‘Cas’, how sweet. Yes, Elias told me all about your little crush.” He pauses and swings it back and forth, taunting Dean with it. “The essence of the Moon. Right here in my hands. Yours to take. So easy.”

“Then hand it over.” Dean half-jokes.

Lucifer tsks at his attempt. “Mmm. I wish I could. But I can’t. You see, you have something I want. And transactions have to go both ways, that’s just how it works.”

How did he even manage it is what Dean’s wondering. Ripping the very essence of the Moon away.

“Family ties do come in handy. Makes it easier to manipulate and rip out their magic while they aren’t looking. And Castiel’s so naive, he didn’t suspect a thing. Not even when my hand was in his chest.”

Dean growls, and Lucifer just laughs.

“My, you’re frisky. But enough, I told you I was on a time limit. It’s simple enough; I give you this, no tricks, just pure and naturally extracted grace. And in return, you give me yours.”

Dean’s mind, which has been roaming and running through every possible outcome, comes to an abrupt halt. His skin feels cold, his heart colder. “Mine?”

“Yours.” Lucifer nods, pursing his lips like they’re talking about what to have for dinner. “I take yours, keep it in a little vial all to myself, and I break this on the ground and let your precious lover breathe.”

“He’s your brother.”

“Which is exactly why I’m offering to let him live, of course.”

“And I’m totally going to trust your word.”

“Oh, you don’t have to; I can just take yours and keep Castiel as a garden ornament. I just figured it was the... civil thing to do. Giving you a choice.”

“Why mine? You have him, why would you need me?”

“Quite simple. I have you, his devastation over losing you takes hold, he does whatever I say. Even gives up his power to me. The only difference here is he would still be alive, see? Rules and all that, willingly giving away powers, it’s all a bit too much if you ask me. But I’m offering.”

Dean steps closer and Lucifer’s wings twitch. They could easily take Dean down, they’re so massive. “I’m not having it, so what’s your plan B?”

Lucifer pouts in mock sympathy. “My plan B is letting you fight for it. And watching you lose and stumble around before I rip the light from your very bones.”

“You could take it right now, why don’t you?”

“Because this is more fun.”

It sends a shiver down Dean’s spine, and he’s quickly running out of ideas. He’s got nothing, no powers to go on. He’s drained without Cas, and he’s not an idiot, he knows that if he agrees to anything Lucifer says, Cas is dead either way.

Even the idea has him reeling.

“You would kill your own brother.”

Lucifer paces around him; circles Dean like a tiger hunting its prey. Dean’s seen the action far too many times, but never by a human being. And it suits him, of all things. Doesn’t even look strange, just natural. Dean is used to respect – even small acknowledgements – but Lucifer looks at him like he’s dinner. Or an insect. Or dirt.

“Oh, you can’t really kill the Moon. Just...” He waves his hand around. “Meh. You’d probably rather not know.”

It feels like ice water is filling his veins. What the Hell does that mean? Lucifer blinks and contemplates. Dean’s pretty certain he can’t read minds, but he seems to know exactly what to say.

“He’s not really stone. Okay, well yeah, he is. But he’s awake, in a manner of speaking.”

Dean whips to Cas so fast his neck cracks, but he’s still exactly the same as before.

“Now, okay, yeah, it’s sad. Can we move this along? Busy, busy.”

Dean takes a step back. Still, still he tries so hard to think of something. Impala is still there, and God, what will happen to her? She’s heating up, eyes nearly glowing. “Sweetheart, calm down.” Her fire will do no good, not while Lucifer holds that vial.

He sees nothing he could do. All his life he’s depended on his powers, and Gods, his legs are still wobbly.

And then it hits him. It’s a small chance, but it’s a chance, and he sees no other option.

“Plan B. I’ll fight you. With a sword. A good, old-fashioned duel, just the two of us.”

Lucifer’s eyes light up with confidence and amusement, and Dean’s skin crawls. “As you wish.”

~

Dean can barely lift the sword. He holds it steady in his hands, but the weight is all wrong, and his balance is off. Lucifer just watches him, leaning against his sword. If he doesn’t even move, Dean wouldn’t be surprised. It’s an unfair fight.

The Sun and the Moon actually losing to this guy? The Sun losing to this? Some power-hungry, jealous asshole with an ego. It will no doubt be written in history. And Sam and his mom and his dad will get to read it before they go to sleep, when the world is completely dark and Lucifer is king.

He should give up. There isn’t even a point to this.

But Dean Winchester – not the prince, not the Sun, Dean Winchester – has never been one to just give up.

~

It only takes a few minutes and he’s on the ground, royal tunic slashed, his cheek bleeding, his legs jelly. Standing would be an impossible feat, but he still tries. Lucifer barely raises his sword, practically pokes at Dean, and he’s down.

Castiel watches from the sidelines, cold and gray and unmoving. Dean apologizes in his head a million times. For failing him. And everybody.

“You’ve had your fun. I played fair. Now it’s time to lie down and accept your fate, Winchester. The Sky has no use for you anymore.”

It cuts deep into him, but he’s gasping for air and shaking. His aura is gone. His skin looks dull and gray. He really is fading away.

“This has been a nice experiment, I have to say. Seeing what how the eternal Sun bares without balance.”

“Fuck you.”

“Ouch.” Lucifer changes immediately. He just looks bored, now. Watches Dean like he wants to crush him under his boot. His wings stretch out slowly and Dean repeats ‘disgusting’ in his head a million times even though they’re gorgeous.

He’s bending down, taking Dean’s chin in his fingers, cupping his face and looking into his eyes; treasuring Dean’s weakness before he deals the final blow; drawing it out while Dean pants and shakes and feebly tries to push himself up.

Nothing changes, but Dean feels it. He can feel the energy at its core, the light inside him, being touched and taken away. Lucifer shuts his eyes, and Dean’s eyes light up as it comes up his throat, bursts out of his pores, and he knows he’s going to float away. Impala will follow and burst and be reborn, and he’ll just... be a statue in the garden.

His vision goes blurry. But the pain, the pain is like nothing he’s ever experienced. He can’t push away or look away, just watch Lucifer, feel the burn of his soul being ripped out of his body. A scream works its way up his throat but nothing comes out.

In the garden of a castle that’s not his own, Dean’s going to die. The world is getting darker and darker, and even though he knows the light is still pouring out of him, it’s getting difficult to see.

However, he hears a noise, a little gasp, and his heart jumps at the thought that maybe somebody’s stumbled across them, maybe somebody walked in, and maybe they can help. The shame and embarrassment he’ll feel at being seen like this won’t even matter because fuck, living would be nice.

But instead the pain stops. The bright light stops. It all comes rushing back to him, absorbing into his skin and lighting him back up, his face returning to his normal color, his eyes becoming bright. Lucifer, in front of him, stumbles but doesn’t collapse, and it takes a while for Dean to actually look up and see what happened.

His body is buzzing with pain, his muscles aching. It feels like his skin doesn’t fit right, like he’s too small to contain what’s inside him, but he summons the strength to raise his head.

That man. The Phoenix stands behind Lucifer, sword in hand, the blade poking through the front of Lucifer’s chest, blood already welling up and soaking his clothes. Another grunt, and Lucifer lurches, the sword shoved in deeper, and Dean can only push himself back as he falls forward onto his knees. Even the effort to move that tiny distance has Dean’s arms shaking again.

Elias, that’s his name, right? Dean knows him.

Elias withdraws the sword with a snarl, pulling it back and throwing it to the ground, and Lucifer makes a desperate, choked off noise, curling his fists in the dirt, trying to push himself up. It’s useless, now he knows how Dean feels.

He doesn’t last long. Dean sees the light drain from his eyes, his wings drooping and sagging, stained by mud. It’s just like that, and he’s gone, and Elias staggers back, eyes wide and frightened for reasons Dean doesn’t have a chance of understanding yet.

“Are you alright?” Dean doesn’t really realize he’s being addressed until he remembers they’re alone, and he swallows, eyes still hard.

“Peachy.” Fuck, he’s alive, but so what? He’s out of breath and trembling from head to toe, nausea rolling deep in his stomach. “Nearly got my fucking soul ripped out, I’m fantastic.”

Elias looks just as shaken. His skin is paling more and more by the second, but he manages to scramble down, nearly falling to his knees beside Lucifer and grappling about under the collar of his shirt. He pulls out the precious glowing vial and stands to pass it down to Dean.

“Take it- Take it and, just, break it near him, that’s all you need to do.”

Dean doesn’t need to be told twice. He forces his muscles to cooperate with him and stands, and the pain is sharp and insists at being recognized, but he ignores it and makes his way back to Cas, to the statue of him, at least.

Elias is looking at Impala, and she’s cocking her head to the side, bumping at his chest with her head, confused as to what her opinion is of him; why is he a human?

But Dean isn’t paying attention to that. The ground is soft and earthy, and there’s no way he can break the glass by throwing it down. The only solution is to use the stone presented to him, and fuck, his hands are shaking so much he doubts he’ll be able to do it anyways.

He tries once, and it makes a clinking sound as it hits Cas’ shoulder, but not so much as a crack appears. Taking a deep breath – pulling his arm back as far as he can – he smashes the vial against Cas’ chest. The glass splinters and cracks and shatters, little pieces digging into his palm and making him bleed in a matter of seconds, but he’s too weak to heal himself.

Silver light explodes in all directions, and it’s so bright Dean can’t see anything. It hurts, he has to lift an arm over his eyes, clenching them shut, but even then he sees spots behind his eyelids from the blast. The heat is familiar, and it reaches out to him for a moment, touching his cheeks and his arms curiously.

And then it collects and smashes into Castiel all at once, filling out every crack in his surface, washing over him like water. Claire, silently resting on his wing, cries out and flaps her wings, taking off and making her way over to Impala, not wanting her feet to burn.

Hesitantly, Dean cracks one eye open, lowering his arm and letting it swing uselessly by his side. The stone is crumbling, cracking across his chest and arms, over his eyes, and then, simultaneously, it breaks apart and vanishes, the light absorbing into Castiel, and Dean is blinded again.

When it clears, Castiel is left there, exactly the same as he was when he was frozen, his hair covered in dust, clothes dirty.

Dean is too busy staring, heart pounding out of his ribs, to notice the way he sways, but Cas is staring at him in shock, face scrunched up, nose crinkling, and his legs abruptly shake and he falls forward, stumbling into Dean. It’s the best feeling, the warmth of his skin, the softness of his hair against Dean’s cheeks.

He curls both arms around him, tightly clutching him, his energy returning in short bursts, and Castiel’s face smushes into his chest.

“Dean –“ his voice cracks from disuse and panic, and Dean brushes remnants of stone from his hair.

“I’ve got you. I’ve got you, it’s alright. You’re okay.” Thank every God Dean has ever heard of, he’s okay.

Castiel pulls back suddenly, hands moving to clutch at Dean’s arms. “Lucifer. My brother, he tricked me. He fooled me. Took my essence when I wasn’t looking, and I – “ He looks so ashamed, his face still white and pale. “I should have known, I had no idea.”

Oh.

It never really occurred to Dean completely that the body only a few feet behind him is of Cas’ family. His brother, who he loves, who his entire family cherishes. He zones out for a moment in panic, and when he looks back to Cas’ face, his eyes have traveled past Dean, no doubt to his brother.

Dean shuts his eyes, and Cas’ hands tightens over his arms.

“Lucifer,” he whispers, so broken. “Brother.”

“He tried to do the same to me,” Dean says low, not wanting to see Castiel’s face. “Had me at his mercy, tried to kill me.”

Despite how much he doesn’t want to, he opens his eyes, and Castiel is staring at him with his big, sad eyes, but he just nods.

“I know. I saw.” Dean’s chest constricts. “Don’t concern yourself.” Dean is instantly confused. “Had you saved me, had he lived, no doubt he would be... punished for his ways.”

“...Punished?”

Castiel swallows. “Traditional punishment would be to have his wings cut off.”

Oh.  So he would have... died regardless. Most likely.

Dean just, he can’t have the gall to be guilty over killing a man who was trying to kill him. And technically he didn’t kill him, anyways.

Elias did. Elias who led Dean here to begin with, who apparently helped Lucifer plan everything all along; who is more to blame than Dean could ever imagine. Yet he also saved Dean’s life, and therefore helped him save Castiel’s life.

What the fuck is he supposed to make of that?

He’ll deal with it in a second. Right now he’s too busy lifting his hands to run them over Castiel’s cheeks, to feel his breath against his face. “You’re okay.” He pauses, searching his eyes. “Do you feel okay?”

“Tired.” Castiel nods. “Tired, but I’m perfectly fine.”

“Thank the Gods.” Dean runs a thumb over his lip.

A throat clears behind him, and he turns to find Elias, head bowed. He crouches down into a kneel, one leg tucked beneath him and his other foot flat on the ground. “Sires.” He looks up to Dean, and Castiel steps up from behind him to inspect the stranger.

“I have no explanation for what I have done.” His voice is rich with guilt, and Dean is still at a loss of what to think. “Nor do I have an excuse.” He swallows, looking back to the ground, eyes distant. “What I can say is that my guilt runs deep, and I apologize. Especially to you, dear Moon. The fault for your capture lies on my shoulders.”

Castiel tilts his head. “You are forgiven.”

Even Dean is surprised by that.

Eyes wide, Elias looks back up, for only a split second, and then nods. “Even with Lucifer gone, the spell he cast on me remains, and I am unable to... pass on, as most Phoenixes do.” He chokes. “Dean Winchester, my prince, I have one final request from you, and I would understand completely if you were not to accept it.”

Dean swallows. “Lift your curse?”

“Kill me.” His voice is hollow, and Deans heart jumps. “My master is dead, and without her I have nothing – I do not wish to live with this guilt, or with these memories.”

Dean wants to refuse. He wants to punish him for what he’s done, but Castiel is breathing, slow and steady beside him, and he can’t. He couldn’t go on, knowing he inflicted an eternity of suffering to one of his people. Phoenix or not.

“Look at me.” Dean orders, and the man does. Elias does and says nothing more. “...And I will grant your wish.”

“Thank you.” Defeat has never had a more distinct sound, and Dean feels genuine sadness as he steps forward to press his fingers to his forehead.

Elias crumbles to dust beneath his fingertips, his death instant, ashes floating away on a breeze that Dean creates himself; swirling and flying higher and higher until they can no longer be seen.

Impala squawks sadly, and Dean swallows, rubbing at his throat. The garden is dead silent, and the adrenaline is wearing off. Even with his powers back, he’s exhausted, and his bones feel like lead, like they’re weighing his body down.

A thought crosses his mind like a shot, and the impact of it has him reeling, swaying on his feet for a moment. Castiel steps forward to grab his shoulders and steady him, asking if he’s alright, but he sounds like he’s miles and miles away.

Dean’s eyes are drawn to his lips, his own mouth parting softly in temptation, and Castiel murmurs another phrase at him, concerned, but Dean still can’t hear.

Cradling the Moon’s face in both of his hands, he tilts their heads and leans in for a kiss, which, to his surprise, is met in the middle, Cas leaning forward with a tiny sigh. His lips are warm and chapped, and Dean barely uses any pressure for the longest time. They stand in silence, testing it out, just feeling, and then Castiel, again to Dean’s surprise, is the one to whine and wrap his arms around Dean’s neck.

Which is not a problem at all, not in the slightest.

They press forward into a real kiss, Dean wrapping one arm around Castiel’s waist, pulling them completely flush together, their eyes fluttering to a close. It feels like a dream, like he’s sprouted wings and can fly on his own.

Which reminds him of Castiel’s wings that, right on cue, wrap and curl around them both, shielding them from the world. Dean pulls back to breathe and dives back in, taking Cas’ bottom lip between his, pecking his lips a dozen times, slow and tender before he really pulls back and catches his breath.

Cas is panting, and it’s the damn best sound that Dean has heard in his entire life. He presses their foreheads together, and there are fingers in his hair, nails gently massaging his scalp.

“My Sun,” It’s a tiny whisper between them, and Dean’s heart has most definitely stopped by now.

He chuckles, the sound coming low from the back of his throat.

 “Hmm. Yours.”

~

Dean goes home and collapses on his bed, Castiel insisting that he needed to explain everything to his family. The reluctance to leave him was crippling, but all it took was another few kisses and Dean was satisfied and on his way, completely opposite of Cas and hoping to avoid his entire family so he could sleep.

The light returned as usual and he hadn’t even noticed the darkness of the Night remaining steady and the same. Dean didn’t even think about it until he saw the border as he was flying home.

When he wakes up for breakfast quite a drastic amount of hours later, his entire family – Bobby, Ellen, and Jo included – is waiting for him at the table. He knew it would come to this, it’s sort of obvious, but it doesn’t make it any less awkward.

‘Hi, I’m Dean Winchester and I’ve been sneaking around behind your backs.’

But, no. He takes a seat, heart hammering, not even knowing what he’s supposed to say, and Chuck is the one to clear his throat, of all people. Honorary family speaking first, sort of funny.

“I don’t think I really made things clear.” Dean winces, expecting punishment and scolding. But Chuck looks exceedingly embarrassed, fiddling with his robes. “The Sun and the Moon, Dean, are beings of great respect and power, but the reason they have never spoken in the past was because they didn’t want to.”

Dean blinks. “Excuse me?”

“If you wanted to see him again, you could have just gone. My fault, I think. I was vague on the details, but it’s actually...” He can’t think of a word.

“So... we’re like, the first to ever talk to one another?”

“I believe so. As far as, you know, centuries of history are concerned. But there’s nothing... against it.”

Dean blinks – and every fucking person is looking at him – and then lets out a tiny groan and scrubs a hand down his face.

“So it was all...”

“Oh, I’m sure it was very romantic,” Mary pipes up, and Dean may as well just die right now because this is awful.

And then... suddenly it isn’t. And his face is heating up and turning a brilliant shade of red to match his collared tunic. This means he could...

“Chuck?” He says, looking totally and completely at his hands, at the table, and not at anybody else.

“Hmm?”

Everybody is still looking at him. Sam is hiding a smirk behind his palm.

“Anything against uh...” It almost hurts, how warm his face is. His voice is practically a squeak, just a tiny little whisper because he doesn’t want to talk about this in front of his entire family, yet this is the whole point of this sudden meeting, isn’t it? “Marriage?”

Every single person makes a gasped, happy noise, and his mom who, thank Gods, is next to him or she may have knocked over the entire table, flings her arms around his neck. He groans and hides his face in her hair, heart skipping as he waits for his response.

“Not at all.”

~

He crafts a ring out of sunlight; sits in his clearing and asks the tigers for advice. Aiyon’s cubs were finally born, and they run rampant over his legs, gnawing at his boots with their tiny teeth.

“Do you think it’s too plain?”

Maddi tilts her head and shakes it, but he doesn’t care, it needs to be perfect.

“Maybe –“ it floats between his hands, a ring of light that he can turn and change as he pleases, all without touching it. He flicks his finger up and it spins. No, not right at all.

An hour has passed. Another hour passes, and he doesn’t even notice. His eyes sting from staring at it for so long, but the idea just needs to form, he needs to make this perfect, and he has all the time in the world.

It hits him. The wind is nearly knocked out of him.

~
Fighting Lucifer with no strength left in him – trying to save the life of the Moon and therefore the existence of the Sky itself – seems like a nice, pleasant thing in comparison to what Dean is about to do. Really, technically, it’s too sudden.

He knows it’s too sudden. He gets that they’ve only known each other a few weeks, that they didn’t even technically date or do anything like that, but it feels so right, and they share a bond in more ways than one, so it doesn’t matter, right?

Princes who are likewise to Gods are allowed to make exceptions, right?

He tells himself that as he sends Castiel a message, requesting they meet at their usual place. It ends up only being a few words long, and he can’t bring himself to bring up everything that just happened. Saying it through a letter would be shallow, and –

Fuck, his nerves. His hands are shaking.

And then Sam, fucking Sam, bursts into his room, Kaethis flapping about and crashing into Impala like the clumsy thing he is, and Dean smears ink all across the page, cursing loudly as he jolts.

You’re doing it aren’t you?” Sam’s eyes are wide, his entire body vibrating. “You’re asking him, aren’t you, right now?”

“Fuck – yes, Sam. Or I was until you made me ruin it.” He looks down at the stained page. It’s still perfectly legible, and it’s only a request to see each other, so it doesn’t really matter, he guesses. “Whatever, it’s fine, just an invitation.”

He snaps his fingers and it vanishes, already on its way to land in Cas’ room.

“There, done, now can you leave me alone to freak the fuck out?”

Marriage, Dean.

“Yes, Sam.”

Sam doesn’t seem to be paying him any mind at all. He flops back on Dean’s bed, laughing. “You getting married. I never thought I would ever live to see it, I swear.”

“So how’s Jess?”

Sam throws a pillow at him.

Dean catches it and tosses it back, but it bounces off one of the bed posts and lands on the floor. “No, Sammy, I’m serious, you’ve both been lovey-dovey since you met, when’s the question coming up?”

“I don’t,” Sam rubs his hands over his eyes and Dean, well maybe it’s the nerves, but he really doesn’t mind having this conversation right now. “I don’t think that’s really something I should be asking her when I’m seventeen.”

 “Dude, seriously. You haven’t even asked her out yet. I mean yeah, you’ve asked her to dinner but you haven’t actually asked her out have you?”

Sam chuckles, and his head rolls so he’s looking at Dean instead of the ceiling. Dean who is still sitting at his desk chair, fingers tapping against his legs.

“It’s not funny, I’m serious.”

“That’s what’s got you all nervous, isn’t it?”

Dean recoils because this is definitely not about him; this is about Sam, and about how his brother is too much of a wuss to ask the girl of his dreams to be his girl of... his dreams. That made no sense, but it kind of did, he doesn’t know.

“You think, that because you and Castiel never actually ‘officially’ became royal boyfriends,” Dean’s nose scrunches up, “that you’re doing something wrong.”

Um.

“No?”

“Oh my Gods, Dean.”

“Dude, really. Not funny. Serious. A problem. A huge, life-changing, ‘I’m-about-to-propose-to-somebody-I-met-four-times’ kind of problem.”

Sam shrugs. “Look, Chuck might be the go-to guy for lore and history and all that, but I’ve read up about it too, and a lot of books say that the Sun and Moon are connected since birth. Chances are you were both born at the same time of the year, and if you really share this mental bond or whatever, I doubt it matters how many times you met.”

“Marriage is a big fucking deal, Sammy.”

“No, no, I know, I’m just saying it’s... different. Sort of an exception for you both. Destiny or something.”

Dean can’t even speak and Sam is pushing himself up, dizzy from the sudden angle change.

“Anyways, I’m gonna go before you hit me for talking about feelings, good luck with proposing!”

Dean just snarls as Sam shuts the door.

He’s so screwed.

~

All he can think about is Cas’ answer. In his head it’s more of a lean towards no than yes, and when he lands of the island – their island – his aura is out of control, blurring and dimming and brightening and sending little zaps of nerves all through him.

Every possible scenario plays in his head, from the simple ones where Cas declines and flies away, to the more... extreme ones, where a dragon appears of out of thin air, blows the island to pieces, and kills them both in the process. He might even prefer being blown up to having Cas say no, which is just one of many signs that he has lost all hope of ever being normal again.

Cas is right on time as usual, and the first thing he does – the very first thing – upon seeing Dean, is wrap his arms and wings around him and tuck himself into Dean’s chest. Dean’s been so nervous he hasn’t really thought about how stressed out Cas must be, and fucking Hell could he be any more selfish, Cas must be terrified.

“Hey.” His voice is muffled in Cas’ hair, and there isn’t much else to say.

Castiel doesn’t pull away for a while, and when he does he looks completely normal, not scared in the slightest. There are circles under his eyes due to obvious stress, but...

“My nightmares stopped.”

Nightmare. Weird word.

Dean grins none the less, and they sit down together, Cas joining him in the light and practically purring as he rests against Dean’s shoulder. There’s silence for a while, and it just gives Dean plenty more time to have a nervous breakdown.

“My brothers and sisters had many... many questions. It took hours to explain.” Dean can relate to that. Calming everybody down after the Light went out was close to impossible. “But they know we’ve been meeting. Actually, more than that, a lot of them have known the whole time.”

“I’m pretty sure my entire family knew before anything even happened.”

Another buzz of nerves. They come and go every time he dares think about it. The ring he made is heavy in his pocket, feels like a brick hidden inside his coat. But the moment he feels the nerves Cas is nuzzling closer, into his neck, kissing his jaw.

“O-oh.” Gods, woah.

But Cas looks so fucking happy all of a sudden, and he doesn’t even hesitate to push Dean into the ground, hands on the grass beside his head, leaning down to kiss him while his wings give a few small flaps.

Dean wants to ask, he really does. The question is right on the tip of his tongue. But Cas’ mouth, okay. That’s really all he needs to not ask what’s happening. Cas is pecking his lips and pulling away, making Dean whine.

“Why’re we stopping?” Gods, he’s dizzy, he probably looks like a dope.

Castiel chuckles and kisses the tip of his nose, his eyes, his cheeks, and finally his lips again, much slower. Dean’s hands are everywhere, hovering next to Cas like he’s some sort of virgin with no idea what’s going on, until one settles on a perfectly warm hip, and the other cards through dark hair, holding Cas in place so he can’t pull away again.

It’s just, it’s perfect. And they have all the time in the world, with every intention of taking advantage of it; kissing gently, slowly, for who knows how long.

Air is a thing, though, a very important thing that both of them need, and Dean hates to pull away, but he tilts his head back, heart hammering away. Cas’ lips are still so close, their breaths mingling together.

“My answer is yes.” Cas’ voice is just a pant; a breathy, quiet pant.

“You wha-uh?” His head is still swimming. Unless his memory is failing him, he’s pretty sure he didn’t ask.

“My answer,” Cas is grinning, kissing his lips briefly while they still catch their breath, “is yes.”

“I didn’t ask you a question.”

“You forget that I,” more kissing, Dean really can’t object to it, “can sense your thoughts, and when you’re standing there looking lost, fiddling with something in your pocket and practically radiating nervousness, it’s obvious enough.”

“Oh.”

A second. Another second. About twenty seconds go by before Dean can comprehend it all.

“Wait, you said yes.”

“I did.”

“You...” He’s leaning up on his elbows to stare. “Said yes!

Castiel laughs. “I said yes.”

~

Every person, from both castles, both towns, attends the wedding. Chuck seems more excited about the mark in history than he does about the actual well-being and happiness of Dean, himself, but Dean just laughs and slaps him between the shoulders.

Sam brings Jess, and Gods she’s gorgeous, beautiful, hair curled to perfection, and she hangs on Sam’s arm and stares at him in the exact same way Dean supposes he stares at Cas. His brother tackles him in a hug, lifting him off of his feet, and Becky screeches that he’ll wrinkle Dean’s suit.

Which has Sam backing up pretty damn quickly; Becky is frightening usually, but when she’s angry it’s an entirely different story.

“You nervous?”

“If I pass out I expect you to run up and catch me.”

“I’m pretty sure Castiel can handle that.”

“No, I mean like, before I’m even next to him. Maybe even right now.”

Dean.

He’s not convinced, but Jess is standing on her tip toes and giving him a hug, leading Sam away to give Dean space, and he’s left all by himself to have a total panic attack.

His mom and his dad and Bobby and Ellen and Mercedes, and every other person Dean has ever met or seen,  is sitting in wait, and he’s congratulated and hugged by people he’s certain he doesn’t know, but he keeps forgetting his own name so it doesn’t even matter.

He knows Cas is wearing something to match him; both of them in white, Dean with gold trim and Castiel with silver. But other than that he knows nothing. Nothing about anything. He hasn’t actually seen Cas in almost four sleeps, and woah, woah, he’s getting married.

He’s hit with a wave of giddiness, and then...

“Okay, Dean,” his mom lays a hand against his back, voice low. “It’s time.”

He nods and turns to her, and there are tears in her eyes, her cheeks rosy red, and Dean pulls her into a tight hug. “I’m getting married, Mama.”

“I know, sweetheart.” When he pulls back she hits his arm playfully, just on the verge of tears. “Now go, don’t make me start crying before the ceremony even begins.”

They’re getting married outside. It was the only place that could fit every single person, and Castiel insisted they have it on the Day side for traditions sake. It’s where they met, so they just... have to.

So Dean steps forward, right up to the earth’s edge, where the Sky stretches on, and shuts his eyes as instructed until Castiel is in front of him. He knows the moment he appears, can feel his presence, and he’s almost hesitant to open his eyes, to make this all real.

But Cas is just as beautiful as he was when Dean met him. Maybe even more. His outfit makes his eyes stand out, his dark hair look darker. And he’s smiling, small like usual, but his eyes are so happy that Dean is lost upon seeing them, his own eyes filling with tears.

He can hear his mom coo at the two of them from the audience.

They don’t say vows. They lean their foreheads together, clasp their marked hands together between them, and shut their eyes. It’s all they need to do, words are not strong enough.

‘I love you’ Dean thinks, and he hears it echo in his head, Cas squeezing his hand tighter.

When finally, finally, Dean’s allowed to kiss him, it marks them officially as one, as bonded, and every single person known to this world gasps as the Night and Day collide, the border melting together, the colors stretching out until the clouds are purple and stars are dotting the empty spaces, the sky changing from solid blue to a magnificent hue of pink, blue, and gold.

Dusk.

They pull apart and bask in it, and Dean can’t resist leaning forward to kiss Cas again.

The koi fish engraved on his ring flickers and swims around the band.