Considering the events of their last run-in with rain of nigh-Biblical proportions, Dean felt justified that his first instinct was to bury the demon-killing knife in whatever had just made a swipe at him from under the Impala. He barely managed to check the impulse as bedraggled tawny fur made a second pass at his boots.
Crouching hastily, Dean came eye-to-eye with a malevolent, drenched feline. It hissed at him, golden eyes glittering with barely repressed fury from where it huddled in the only shelter it had available. And even the Impala couldn't protect it from the inch of standing water in the parking lot.
Dean winced sympathetically. "Right there with ya, dude. Sorry. Apocalypse."
Standing, Dean snagged the spare duffle—Castiel's duffle, he reminded himself, and that would never stop being weird—and closed the trunk. If anything, it was raining harder now. Dean wavered, and then got down again before he could talk himself out of it.
"Not gonna leave anything out in this," he muttered to himself, snagging a handful of cat and dragging the spitting mad ball of fur and fangs out from under the car. "Got enough on my conscience already."
The cat twisted to attack his hand, and Dean shoved the animal into his coat, zipping it up hastily to prevent escape. The cat yowled, and dug its claws into his stomach.
"Cool it, man. I'm doing you a favor," Dean griped, cradling under the cat with one arm as he hefted the duffle to sprint back to the motel. The cat took the opportunity to express his issues with the world on Dean.
Since he was under attack and in a hurry, Dean slammed the door a bit harder than necessary on his return, making both of his traveling companions sit up and stare. Sam was armed, and Dean was pleased to note that Castiel's fingers had twitched in the direction of the Colt, even if the former-angel had resisted the impulse to grab it. They studied him for a long second as he stood in the doorway, pinned by their looks and the cat's sudden suspicious stillness.
Sam broke the silence. "The rain's not that bad, Dean," Sam lectured, apparently having decided that there was no threat. Dean could fix that.
He unzipped his coat, allowing the furious cat to erupt like one of those chest-bursting aliens. Sam's face was priceless until the cascade of wet fur and the unholy yowl registered. Upon hitting the floor, the cat raced under the closest bed and all was silent.
"Dean," Sam began ever-so-patiently. "What was that?"
"It appears to be a feline, Sam," Castiel reported, having slid to the floor in order to peer under the bed. An ominous hiss answered him, and Dean yanked the former-angel up hurriedly.
"Yeah, and it's good and pissed, so leave it alone, Cas, unless you want some new scars. Let Sam and me deal with it."
"Sam and me?" his brother asked, eyebrow raised. "I don't think so. You're the one playing Good Samaritan with the possessed tomcat. You deal with it."
Dean grimaced, and stomped into the bathroom for a towel. Emerging, he flattened to the floor and crawled under the bed, relieved to find that the motel had awesome housekeeping. The cat was curled up in the back corner between the nightstand and the wall. Dean threw the towel over it and yanked the whole thing out from under the bed. The cat began clawing and biting through the towel to an accompaniment of spitting and hissing, but Dean ruthlessly rubbed it as dry as he could manage. When he lifted the towel, the cat looked less like a drowned-rat and more like it had a run-in with an industrial-sized blow-dryer and the strongest hair gel in the world.
The cat glowered at him, and retreated under the bed once more as soon as it was released. Dean let it with a satisfied-nod. "Alright. I'm going to shower. Sam, order dinner. Cas, no bonding with the cat." Without waiting for confirmation of either, Dean retreated to the only source of water that he was willing to contemplate for the near future.
By the time that Dean emerged, dinner had arrived and the others were sitting at the table eating pizza and wings. Sam had his nose buried in a dusty tome that he was cross-referencing with something he'd found on the laptop, but Castiel was staring at the bed which the cat was presumably still hiding under.
"Wings?" Dean asked, snagging a piece of pizza.
"Plain," Sam nodded distractedly. "Thought you could probably bribe the cat not to kill you in your sleep."
"The idea has some merit," Castiel nodded sagely, without looking away from the bed. "Sam tells me that felines seem to enjoy the flavor of chicken, and it likely has been unable to find much in the way of sustenance with all the rain. It should be hungry enough to be tempted by dinner."
"Yeah, yeah," Dean muttered, snagging a wing and setting it on a napkin on the floor. One golden paw swiped outward, and Dean retreated hastily.
"Is it hungry, Dean?" Castiel asked, kneeling beside him.
"What do I look like? Doctor Doolittle?" Dean griped, but bent a little further to see under the bed. The cat was right at the edge, eyes glittering as it stared back at them, flickering from food to humans and back to food again. "Yeah, Cas, I'd say it's hungry."
"Then why will it not eat?" Castiel asked in concern.
"Maybe because we're staring it down? Go finish your dinner, Cas, and pass me the meatlovers."
Dean took a seat on the floor, leaning back against his brother's chair. Dean Winchester was not about to be chased off by some eight pound furball even if it meant sitting on the freakin' floor.
Sam distracted Castiel with a question on Enochian sigils, and the cat gave in to the magnetic pull of a mostly-unguarded meal. Keeping one wary eye on Dean, the cat slunk out from under the bed far enough to snatch the wing and dive back under the bed.
Dean snorted, and set another wing on the abandoned napkin. The cat dropped the wing it held, eyes firmly fixed on the new wing. Dean could see the battle of indecision playing across its furry little face. He nudged the napkin, and the cat followed the motion raptly. Again. The golden eyes narrowed in feline determination.
"Dean. Stop teasing Whiskers, and make yourself useful."
Dean glanced up sharply. "You did not name it. Naming it is the first step to keeping it, and we are not keeping it. Remember the apocalypse, Sam? Last night on earth and all . . . your idea—unless you're changing your mind."
Bitchface #4: I'm just a kicked puppy, and you should be stewing in guilt
It was a true classic, and Dean was going to miss it. Along with the emo music and wild mane of hair that his brother liked to sport. Any retort died a slow strangled death in Dean's throat . . .
. . . but a loud "Son of a bitch!" managed to break free, as Dean yanked his hand free of the homicidal beast's fangs. It stared at him, unrepentantly, one paw wrapped protectively around both wings.
Sam sighed, and reached for the first aid kit. "You deserved that, Dean."
"The cat does appear to like chicken," Castiel remarked obliviously, taking a seat on the bed above Dean, his own focus reserved solely for the feline.
Dean prodded the skin warily, because the cat had managed to draw blood, but a little antiseptic would take care of that. It didn't even need a bandage really, although Sam would prefer taking the opportunity to fuss over the meager wound.
Resigned, Dean subjected himself to the lacking bedside manner of Dr. Samuel Winchester, and watched the cat polish off both wings and Dean's abandoned half-slice of pizza. It curled up on itself again for a bath, eyeing the pizza box on the table in between careful and decisive licks.
Sam finished just in time to prevent Castiel from feeding the cat his two slices of vegetarian pizza and the last wing, earning himself a dirty look like only a cat can provide. Sam appeared to consider himself immune, and waved irritably for Castiel to sit back down.
"Let's take a look at those cuts before you go to bed," Sam ordered, having truly embraced his new caregiver role in these last few hours of normalcy.
Castiel awkwardly obeyed, and the damage still made something deep inside Dean squirm. Souls, grace, disfigurement, life itself—it was a Winchester free-for-all these days. He looked down and found himself eye-to-eye with the cat, which was giving his leg an analytical gaze complete with head-tilt. Before it could actually use him for a ladder, Dean scooped it up and dumped it on the bed hastily, where it pretended to ignore him in favor of Castiel.
A flinch from the former angel earned some sympathy. The cat—Dean fought the urge to call it Whiskers—butted his head against Castiel's thigh and gave a rusty purr. Castiel's face lightened with his trademark curiosity, as he reached out to stroke it carefully. Pleased with this turn of events, the cat curled up in Castiel's lap.
Dean shook his head in exasperation and dropped into a kitchenette chair with another slice of his pizza.
Sam held out his free hand for the cat to sniff, and with great reluctance it let Sam rub under its chin. "Well, these are actually looking pretty good, Cas. All things considering . . . ye-oww!" Sam jerked back from the suddenly snarling feline.
Once Sam had retreated a good six feet, the cat returned to the affectionate loving creature it had been posing as prior to the youngest Winchester's interference. Sam swore. Dean passed the antiseptic.
The cat continued to purr.
Dean was the first one conscious in the morning, and he looked around to find what had woken him. Across the room, the golden cat was batting at the fluorescent door-hanger in an ineffectual bid for freedom. Huffing at the inconvenience, Dean staggered off the rollaway bed and reached for yesterday's jeans.
"Well, it stopped raining at least," Dean muttered.
The cat turned around and glared at him, swiping at the door hanger insistently.
Dean crossed the room, and looked down at the selfish little beast. "You sure you don't want breakfast first?" he muttered crankily.
He could have sworn that the cat stopped to think about it a second, before batting the door again.
Dean opened the door before he could develop any further insanity from proximity to the feline. And taking advantage of the opening, the cat fled out and into the nearest bush.
"Be free," Dean grumbled, heading for the mini-fridge for last night's leftovers.
The pizza box on the second shelf was empty—someone needed to explain the etiquette of disposing empty food containers after midnight binging to Cas—and Dean went for Plan B. He had half a bag of M&Ms in his coat pocket that no one knew about but him.
It was empty too, and Dean regarded the gold fur on the lining with uneasy suspicion. Could cats even digest chocolate? Or open refrigerators and put back empty pizza boxes?
And Dean had bigger things to worry about really, but now that he thought about it, there was something unsettlingly familiar about the eyes of that cat.
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." -Hebrews 13:2