Dean is speechless when he finds out. He blinks absently at the pages of some gazillion-year old book he'd found, rereading the text over and over again to make sure he's not hallucinating. Dean thinks back to when he first met Castiel. He remembers how his heart had raced at the sight of wings protruding menacingly out of the angel's back. There weren't even any holes in Castiel's trench coat. Dean is used to them now, sort of. The way they shimmer even when there's no light to reflect off of them. The deep, blue-black feathers. Castiel's wingspan alone is impressive; they're beautiful all on their own.
Dean remembers every time Castiel lost his grace. He would stand a little different, as if he were missing something that usually weighted him down. Dean would catch the way Castiel looked a little lost and confused; rolling his shoulders absently every now and then, as if he kept forgetting they weren't there and then getting a bit upset. There had been a few times Dean was worried Sam had caught the way he'd given Castiel sympathetic looks, though those had always gone unseen by the angel himself.
The book Dean is holding is extra heavy as the knowledge sinks in, and he can feel himself blushing. It's a miracle he's alone in this particular moment because he'd have to explain how he's suddenly very flustered. There's this fluttering feeling in his heart. Like it's taken flight from beating so fast. Dean takes a shaky breath, marks the page with a slip of paper, and closes it. His palms are sweating a bit because all of his feelings are finally being validated. There is finally a concrete reason why Dean is always getting the urge to kiss the angel senseless. It's not just a crush. They're fucking soulmates, for fuck's sake.
It's at that precise, ill-timed moment that Sam saunters into the library where Dean's obviously staring at nothing. Sam raises his eyebrows. "You alright, Dean? You look far away."
Dean blinks up at his brother, clearing his throat and pushing the book to the side. "I'm-I'm fine. Totally." He gets up in one swift motion because he suddenly feels like there's somewhere he needs to be.
Sam's face scrunches up in confusion, but he mercifully lets Dean be. "Okay," he replies slowly and goes to sit in the chair across from the one Dean was just in. "I'm gonna find us a case, okay?"
"Yeah, sure," Dean says, barely listening as he wanders off purposefully. If he's gonna do this, he has to do it now before he loses his nerve. As it is, his nerves are frantic; pulse jumping and twitchy hands. Dean makes his way to his room, then past it where Castiel's room should be. The day Castiel officially moved in was one of the happiest days Dean's had in a long time. Dean let's the concept of Castiel wanting to stay here calm him as he stops at the angel's door.
He knocks quickly, fist shaking as he lowers it. There's no answer. Dean knocks again, head twisting so his ear is pressed against the wood. He doesn't hear movement, but that doesn't really mean anything; Castiel is a very quiet person... angel. "Cas? You in there?"
No answer. Dean's resolve soon dissipates, but he's not discouraged. He just shuffles off to his own room and sits down on his bed, chin in his hand. He thinks about the way Castiel seems more confident, more sure of himself when he has his wings; the way Castiel stands up straighter. Dean knows that Castiel feels insecure with his importance if he's not an angel. The thought makes Dean sad because, angel or not, Castiel means more to Sam and Dean than he realizes. Mojo or not, Castiel is important. Castiel is a part of this family.
Dean figures he's probably a little bit biased now. What with them being soulmates and all. Yeah, Castiel's made mistakes-catastrophic mistakes, but who in this family hasn't? It's kind of their tradition to fuck up the world every now and then. Dean doesn't care about any of that. It's in the past, and they've gotten over it. Dean's just happy that Castiel decided to stay. He reckons it's most likely because Castiel doesn't really have anywhere else to go. The other angels don't want him. The absolutely obvious solution would, of course, be to stay in the bunker.
Sam comes to Dean just a moment later, rapping his knuckles on the door frame to announce his appearance. He eyes Dean curiously before saying, "I've found us something not far from here. Seems like a simple wraith. Wanna go check it out?"
"Have you told Cas?" Dean asks, trying for indifference but failing miserably.
Sam is a saint for not pointing it out. He just shrugs. "He went out, apparently. He wasn't in his room."
Dean's nerves pick up again. He stands. "He didn't tell you where he was going?"
"Nope." Sam huffs. "Huh, that's weird. I would say it's not like him to just disappear but, well... yeah."
"Yeah..." Dean hates the reminder, but he tries not to focus on that. Where would Castiel go? And why wouldn't he say anything? Dean's mind is rapidly approaching panic-mode, flashing various bloody and violent scenarios that Castiel could've gotten himself into. He's not a Winchester unless he overreacts once a day. "Um, text him?" Dean suggests eloquently.
"Already did. It's probably dead. He usually forgets about stuff like that," Sam replies easily, gesturing for Dean to sit down because Dean looks like he's about to start hyperventilating. Dean bites his lip worriedly while settling back down onto his bed. "It's probably fine, Dean. He probably just went to get supplies for the bunker. We were running low on toilet paper and milk, ya know? He probably found the list and just went without thinking. He does stuff like that, remember?"
Dean takes a deep breath, because Sam's right. He's right. Castiel has spontaneously decided to take on more responsibility and chores lately. Dean forgets things like this because he's just not used to an angel doing human things. Dean's brain likes to blow all Castiel-related things out of proportion. Dean suddenly realizes why. "Right," he finally answers, taking another deep breath. "Yeah, of course. I was just... I get worried-I mean, it's not like he can't handle himself. He's an angel for Christ's sake. I just-"
"Dean," Sam interrupts, placing a reassuring hand on Dean's back. Sam's face is concerned. Not at all smug like Dean usually expects. His eyes are kind and patient.
Dean wonders why Sam is being like this all of a sudden. So supportive and understanding. "You know, don't you?" Dean suddenly says, eyes latching on to Sam's.
Sam's face withers a bit, as if Dean had just asked the stupidest question in all of history. "Of course I do, Dean. You two are about as subtle as a gun."
That elicits a startled laugh from Dean. His body is starting to calm down a lot more now. "I should've known that you'd know."
"Well, I also kind of looked in that book you left on the table," Sam smiles apologetically. "Light reading?"
Dean rolls his eyes. "Thanks, Sammy. Real nice."
Sam laughs, "Alright, sorry. I'm sorry...." he pauses and levels Dean with a serious look. "It's pretty heavy stuff, though. You okay, Dean?"
Well, Dean just found out he's soulmates with an angel of the Lord and that the feeling's mutual. He's been seeing Castiel's wings since they met and cannot believe it took so long. All those years. All those times they lost each other. All those times they found their way back to each other again. All those times it felt like Dean's heart and soul were being ripped out of his chest whenever Castiel couldn't stay... All of these things are flooding Dean's memories on a loop, overwhelming him with emotions he'd never had the courage to confront. Dean recalls the soft way Castiel looks at him sometimes, eyes fond and light blue; the way Castiel's small smile only comes out when Dean says something to praise him.
Finally, it all comes down to the way Castiel's wings sort of preen in those moments. The way they shiver lightly whenever Dean enters a room. The way they rustle and shake whenever Castiel leans in close, like he always does. There was never any personal space when it came to the two of them.
Dean sighs, his eyes slipping shut. Sam's waiting for a reply, though, so he opens them again and smiles. "I'm good, Sammy. Let's pack so we're ready for when Cas gets back."
Sam smiles back, obviously relieved. He nods and gets up from the bed. He looks down once, eyes filled with something genuine. "This is a good thing, Dean. I hope that you know I'm happy for you," Sam says, tucking a lock of hair behind his ear.
Dean's face heats up. He coughs once. "Thanks, Sammy."
Sam leaves, whistling cheerfully.
They're waiting for Castiel to pack his things when Sam asks the question Dean's been waiting for.
"So... what do they look like?" Sam asks, leaning in secretively. His expression is bright and curious.
Dean doesn't want to wax poetic about his soulmate's angel wings, but... they're his soulmate's angel wings, how can you not? Dean rests his elbows on the table, taking a moment to bring up a picture in his mind. "First of all, they're fucking huge."
Sam nods, eager to hear more. "Go on."
"They're a lot like the night sky. They're a deep, dark, rich blue color. So dark they almost look black," Dean continues. "And, they kind of shimmer, as if they give off their own light. Kind of like the stars. I'm telling you, man. They're beautiful."
Sam's got this awed look on his face. He doesn't tease Dean like Dean thought he would. He just sits back in his chair, looking thoughtful. He perks up again as he thinks of another question. "There aren't any holes in Cas' trench coat. They just, go right through without tearing the fabric?"
Dean scratches his stubble, considering. "I think it's more than that. They're on, like, a different plane or something like that, ya know? They gotta be there without affecting anything else, right?"
"That makes sense," Sam agrees easily, looking impressed with the information.
"What makes sense?" Castiel asks, coming around the corner with a small bag in tow. He doesn't need much in terms of hygiene, but he likes his books about bees and whatnot.
Sam shifts a bit uncomfortably in his seat. "N-nothing, tell ya later."
Castiel tilts his head, confused. "Okay, then." He looks to Dean. "Are you ready?"
Dean is just staring because it's like seeing Castiel in a new light. The realization that they love each other sort of changes the way Dean looks at the angel. Castiel hasn't actually changed. It's just that Dean's allowed to look at him in the way he's always wanted to. Dean trails his eyes up from Castiel's feet to the top of his head, slowly, taking everything in. Literally, nothing has changed. He's wearing a plain suit, a blue and white tie, his trench coat, and his hair is neat. His wings are lying loosely behind his back, soft as a whisper as he steps closer into the war room.
Sam kicks Dean in the shin because, apparently, Dean's been staring for a bit too long. Dean clears his throat. "Right, sorry. I mean, yeah. We're ready."
Dean doesn't miss the bitchface Sam shoots at him.
The drive is really short, and they're in Esbon in the blink of an eye. Dean loves letting Baby stretch her legs when the weather is nice and there's nothing in front of them but road. All of the windows are down when they roll into town. It's small, but that's only to be expected. Dean parks in front of a cafe and they all exit.
"Coffee, and then the police station?" Dean suggests, breathing in the sunny air. There aren't many people milling about, but it is noon on a Monday.
Sam shrugs. "Sure, why not."
Castiel doesn't say that he doesn't need coffee. That goes without saying. He just follows the Winchesters into the cafe. Dean pretends not to notice the way the sun brings out the blue in Castiel's wings and eyes.
Dean and Castiel end up sitting next to each other, leaving Sam to sit across from them; even though it's pretty much a given by now that they'd sit together. Sam's happy to give them that, even something as simple as how close they're able to sit.
"I'll get us those coffees," Sam offers, jerking a thumb to the ordering counter. Dean just nods and has to also pretend not to notice the look his younger brother gives him.
"So, Dean," Castiel says, making Dean turn to face him. Dean eyes Castiel's wings and how they're splayed out behind him. It's a good thing their seats are stools, otherwise Dean wouldn't be able to resist questioning how they're able to go through solid material again.
Dean blinks at Castiel expectantly. "What's up, Cas?" He tries not to sound breathless, but Castiel's wings are twitching ever closer to him; almost like a reflex.
"How are you feeling? I was receiving rather..." Castiel tilts his head, squinting a bit. Dean's heart does not pump faster at the adorableness. It does not. "Distressed waves from you."
Dean swallows past the sudden dryness in his throat. "You felt that, huh? Wait, how?"
Castiel gives Dean an exasperated, fond look. "You know perfectly well that I am... attuned to your soul."
"That profound bond, right?" Dean laughs nervously. Shit, what exactly does Castiel know? What more did he feel? What did he get from those mix of feelings?
"Exactly," Castiel nods seriously. His eyes are unreadable. Dean wishes he knew what the angel was thinking. "I know you don't really like to express those particular thoughts, but... I was hoping that maybe-maybe you'd talk to me for a change?"
And, Castiel is so unsure and hopeful at the same time. Dean can't possibly resist. Dean glances to where Sam is still in line, staring at his phone, and then looks back to Castiel.
"I forgot you do domestic things now, and got worried when I couldn't find you," Dean tells Castiel, a weird tingle in his heart for being so honest.
Castiel's cheeks go slightly pink. Dean didn't know he could even blush. He looks up at Dean through his lashes. "You were looking for me?"
Dean shifts, feeling his heart rate speed up at the sight. Castiel is so pretty it almost hurts. "Yeah, I wanted-ah-I wanted to tell you something."
"What was it?" Castiel asks, unaware that Dean's almost panicking. Always oblivious to Dean's inner turmoil. Well, maybe Castiel isn't as blind as Dean thinks because he rests a hand on Dean's forearm, reassuring and firm. It relaxes Dean. "Dean?"
"I..." Dean swallows again, voice shaky. "I just wanted to tell you th-that I think your wings a-are beautiful," he stutters, not breaking eye contact for the life of him.
Castiel's eyes squint, puzzled for a few seconds before his blue eyes go wide with understanding. It's his turn to stutter. "Y-you can... You can see m-my...? My wings? Mine?"
Dean laughs because Castiel really is cute when he's flustered. (It doesn't happen often.) "Uh, yeah. Yeah, I can. I've always been able to see them. They're... amazing."
"You... you-d'you know what that," Castiel shakes his head, disbelief coloring his tone. "That's supposed t-to... you're not-I didn't..."
"Cas?" Dean lays a hand over Castiel's, which is now gripping into the fabric of Dean's jacket. The angel flicks his eyes to the point of contact and then back at Dean. He looks... scared, hopeful, suspicious, nervous, bewildered, awestruck; all at once. His big blue eyes are shining with emotion when Dean grins. "I know exactly what it means."
He can feel Castiel shaking, and his wings are clenched and shivering. Dean reaches out and is pleasantly surprised that he can touch them, too. They are as soft as he'd hoped. He traces his hand lightly down a few feathers, hearing Castiel sigh happily with his eyes shut.
"Please, Dean," Castiel opens his eyes again. Dean's heart thuds heavily in his chest because there's need and desperation in Castiel's voice. "Can I kiss you?"
Dean nods so quickly he almost gives himself whiplash. He leans forward, feeling Castiel's urgency radiate from his whole body. Castiel is the one to close the distance, pressing their lips together with the quietest of moans. Dean's eyes fall shut and he revels in the feeling that the kiss brings. It's better than he imagined. Castiel brings his hands up to wind around Dean's neck, tugging the hunter closer. Dean plunges his hands into the plushness of Castiel's wings, scratching very lightly. Castiel's breath hitches into Dean's mouth. It's perfect. It feels like his veins are singing with pleasure, and when Castiel bites down on one of his lips he feels like he's soaring into the clouds.
When there's an "ahem" coming from Sam, they break apart with a smacking sound. Castiel's lips are slick and swollen, making Dean want to kiss him even more, and his face is flushed. But, he's pulling away, reluctance clearly noticeable. Sam sets their coffees down and sits with that smug look Dean's been expecting.
"You guys really need to get a room," Sam takes a sip of his probably soy latte, an eyebrow raised. He's never looked more snarky. "You're scaring the locals."
Dean throws his coffee stirrer at his head. Castiel just smiles, winds his fingers through Dean's and waits for them to finish.
And, if Dean says they need two rooms instead of one at the motel, Sam just smirks and saunters away with a "these walls are made of paper, Dean. Please don't scar me."