Title: Of Feathers and Shadows (pt 1-4/?) the first 4 parts because I didn't want to have to deal with the freakin ERROR TYPE 2 fiasco once I finally got this story in! uhg.
Rating: PG (for now)
Genre and/or Pairing: Dean/Cas
Spoilers: None...save for knowing who Balthazar is and what he did.
Warnings: None so far...eventual language
Word Count: 393
Summary: Dean starts to see glimpse of Cas' wings...and then starts to see them all the time
The first time it happened, Dean was sure his eyes were playing tricks on him again. Castiel had appeared suddenly, as he is want to do, and informed them of a new weapon that had been discovered somewhere in the south west of Texas. He was telling them that he going to look into getting a better and more detailed destination, but Dean wasn't paying attention to anything Cas or Sam were saying.
Because of the wings.
Castiel's wings were folded close to his body in a near protective curl. They weren't like bird wings…weren't feathered. No, Dean remembered these wings-These shadow constructs that Castiel allowed out to prove his angelic power and to frighten those who might be a threat. Regardless of the fact they were just a shadow, a shift in reality that should have gone unnoticed, Dean saw them.
He sat on his motel bed as Sam and Cas rambled briefly about their course of action. He was gaping, he knew, but he couldn't stop it. And as he looked from Sam to Cas to his wings, he realized that neither of them seemed to see the elephant in the room.
Dean finally pulled h is mind back to the conversation when he heard his name barked impatiently from somewhere in front of him. Blinking he turned his attention to Sam who was giving him his classic 'you're such a spaz' look.
And to his dismay, the wings vanished.
Castiel stared at him for a long moment, his eyebrow just barely arched in confusion at Dean's blatant staring, and Dean had a sneaking suspicion that Castiel knew what he was looking at.
Cas bid them quickly farewell, and with a flutter of wings and another brief flicker of shadow that only Dean saw, he was gone. He continued to stare at the spot where he had been until Sam brought him back from his reverie yet again.
"Jesus, dude. Space out much." Sam scoffed, nudging his shoulder.
Dean gave a small grunt as looked at him, ready to tell him what he had been so intent at looking at…and decided against it.
After all…he was sure his mind had just been playing tricks. A trick of the light—that's all it was.
The second time it happened, Dean thought he was surely going crazy.
It was about a week after the first "incident" and Dean had finally convinced himself that it was just a reaction to getting no sleep…or something.
Castiel had found them (after calling of course) at their newest motel-home. They were holed up in the Coyote-Lounge Motel in the heart of Western Texas, looking into one of the heavenly weapons dear old Balthazar had stolen and sold. It was apparently one of the 7 Golden Bowls that held God's wrath…bowls that were to be given to the angels during the time of revelation. Cas hadn't been too sure of which one it was, but after finding more information they were pretty sure it was the 3rd bowl.
It seems there were small bodies of water around the area that were turning to blood. It was rather disturbing when you happened across a pond full of the stuff.
Dean hadn't seen Cas since that initial visit, so when Sam finally talked Dean into calling him down, he had talked himself into believing that those wings would NOT show up again.
Still…he knew deep down that he secretly wanted to see them again. So amidst the terror of loosing his mind, there was a small surge of excitement.
This time, he didn't gape. He still stared, but tried to keep his mind on the conversation at hand so he didn't seem like so much of a creeper—not that Cas could say anything about his staring when Cas all but had his eyes (those freakin' BLUE eyes) glued to Dean every time he looked up.
Dean's eyes raked over the shadowy constructs as they lay folded against Cas' back. They seemed a bit denser than the last time they showed, and he could actually make a few feathers amongst the shadowy darkness there. How very interesting.
He tore his eyes from them before he was caught and tried desperately to do his job and actually contribute to the conversation at hand.
"…not sure who holds control over the chalice—"
"I thought it was a bowl?" Dean said, cutting off Castiel before he could finish. Sam gave his patented 'bitch face' and Castiel just tilted his head.
"We just went over that, Dean. It's a translation thing, ok?" Sam tsked.
"Fine, fine, sorry." Dean raised his hands in defeat and turned a petulant glare to the spaces not being taken up by his brother and Cas. And Cas' wings.
"We're not sure who Balthazar sold it to," Cas continued on, still glancing sideways at Dean every few moments to see if he was paying attention. Dean would look over, but look to the past as if there was something behind Castiel's. "But we're sure it's someone who has a grudge against this town and it's peoples. Why else would someone try to kill the town by turning their water supplies into blood?"
Dean chuckled. "I dunno, shits and giggles? Most these psychopaths don't really need a reason." He waved his hand dismissively and looked over at Sam.
"Nothing Sammy and I can't handle." He saw Sam's face scrunch briefly and he knew he was about to be told, for the umpteenth time, 'don't call me sammy!', but Cas cut in.
"Regardless if it's human, demon, or even monster, they have to be stopped. The wrath of God is powerful and will spread if not contained. I must retrieve it and return it to Heaven."
Dean wanted to pay attention to every word, but the wings just wouldn't let him. They moved with Castiel's breathing and rippled every time he moved. He finally caught himself staring again and quickly looked away before Cas could catch his eye. He should probably mention to the angel what he was being privy to, but he was sure that Cas would take them away if he did. And despite knowing that he was seeing something that was very personal and private, he felt special that he was getting more than just flashed glimpses of them. They were like his own little dirty secret. Dean felt his face heat up at that thought and quickly pushed it aside.
Once Dean's eyes were no long boring holes into his back, Cas gave a small shudder as though he had felt the intense stare, and out of the corner of his eyes Dean caught the wings shift back and forth, the barely visible edges of the feathers brushing over one another, almost sensually. The long feathers pushed next to each other, shifting and catching on one another, and Dean suddenly wanted to touch him—run his fingers through the soft down at their bases and straighten the long flight feathers until they were pristine. He wished they were more feathers than shadows, but thanked anything that would listen that they weren't.
He'd have already probably molested Castiel's wings if that were the case.
Dean suddenly stood and headed towards the door, his face turned so they couldn't see how flushed his face had become at that sudden train of thought. "Well what are we waiting for?" His voice nearly cracked and he purposefully avoided looking at Cas for too long. "Let's go interrogate some townsfolk. I'm sure they know something."
Sam made a sound like he was going to protest, but sighed and instead grabbed for his laptop and stuffed it in its shoulder case.
He was almost out the door and after Dean when he turned to see Castiel still standing there, staring past him—more than likely at Dean.
"You gonna come with, Cas?" Sam shifted the bag to the other shoulder. "Or will we just meet up with you later?"
Cas looked at Sam, unblinking and head slightly tilted. There was something written on his face…confusion and deep thought…but Sam was unsure what he was seeing as Cas had a tendency to wear the same face for anger that he did for mild amusement.
"I will be along shortly." He glanced up. "I have things to check on."
With the sound of fluttering wings, he was gone. Sam shrugged, more to himself than anything, and shut the door behind him yelling out a resounding "Hold yer horses ya jerk!" when Dean had told him to hurry his bitch ass up.
The third time it happened, Dean had all but figured there was something wrong…but what he wasn't quite sure…but he was sure he almost didn't care.
He was sitting quietly in the impala alone, waiting for Cas to show. They had discovered the poor bastard responsible for the use of God's Wrath and had wrested the chalice from him with minimal issue. Sam was back in town cleaning up the mess and clearing out their motel room. Dean had wanted to do this alone and had talked Sam into believing he just needed a little "Me" time. Like hell he'd admit out loud (or even to himself) that he just wanted to be alone with Castiel and those wings. He sighed from his utter boredom and briefly regretted his decision to come out alone. At least Sam would have staved off the boredom with him
Now he just waited. It had only been a few moments after he had "prayed" to Castiel in order to let him know they had found the weapon, and now he sat, waiting for the angel to call him. Sometimes having an Enochian protection spell carved into your ribs just caused more fuss than it helped out at the end of the day.
Dean's phone blared into the silence and made him nearly lose his grip on the chalice, fumbling it for a moment before clutching it tightly and getting himself under control before he answered the phone. He'd never admit to anyone that he had been startled. He flipped open his phone and waited for the angel to let him know it was him on the other end.
"Bout time Cas." He growled out impatiently.
There was a gruff response.
"Yeah, yeah. Civil War. I got it. Look, just get here and get this thing. I feel like I'm gonna get jumped if I keep hangin' onto it."
"No Cas, not 'jumped on', just jumped…it's a figure of spe—whatever Cas! Just get here! I'm at the state line right outside of to—" Dean was cut off by a solid 'fwump" on the roof of his car.
Freaking out for a moment, he landed on my BABY!, Dean tore out of his precious car and whirled around, ready to verbally rip Cas a new one, when his words died in his throat with a thin squeak.
The form that stood before him, looking slightly confused as to where he was, was probably the most magnificent thing Dean had ever laid eyes on.
Cas' head was tilted to the side in his confusion, staring down at the impala as though he was trying to figure out how he had gotten atop the thing. But that normal look of curiosity and consternation was completely lost on Dean at that moment. The wings were still there, and this go round, they were wings. Feathery, shining in the desert sun, honest to god wings.
But, Castiel was on his car—his baby! He should be furious, should be tearing at Castiel's coat to get him down to press him against his car, hands buried in those wings! Dean shook his head and looked Castiel in the eyes this time.
"I apologize." It was simple, gruff, and deep. The wings spread slightly and he was gone. Another flutter of wings and he was beside Dean, his wings so close he could see the treads of each feather. "I did not mean to land there."
Dean numbly handed over the chalice without being prompted, watching every movement made by Cas and his wings. They were shifting in agitation and, in the back of his mind, Dean was sure it was because of his blatant ogling.
Finally Cas seemed to have enough and turned to look Dean as he shoved the small object in his pocket. "Is there something wrong with my vessel?" He seemed annoyed. "You have been staring at me quite often, and I've not been able to discern as to why that is." He frowned, waiting for an answer as Dean blinked dumbly at him.
Dean knew he should just brush it off, make a joke and get back in the car. He should keep his mouth firmly shut and not say anything—but it was driving him crazy not knowing why he was the only one seeing these wings. These beautiful, shimmering wings—FUCK! Where the hell was this coming from? Cas' frown deepened.
"I-uh…" Dean licked his lips and dragged his eyes away from the wings again. Wings that were a deep chocolate brown that mirrored Castiel's hair. The down feathers and the small feathers tucked over the long flight feathers were so dark, he wondered if they were black. His eyes wanted to go back to staring as every miniscule twitch or movement made because as the sun danced off the feathers, it gave them a glinting, coppery sheen. It was so much more awe-inspiring than the shadows that were regularly flashed.
But Cas was still waiting.
"I'm sorry man, but…" It's now or never…tell him now and he'll make them disappear, but stay quiet, Dean, and you'll go crazy. Dude you KNOW you will…
"Icanseeyourwings!" It came out as a single rushed word, his eyes squeezing shut and waiting for the verbal backlash that Cas was bound to give him for keeping such information from his for so long.
Cas' head tilted even more, if that were possible, and Dean cracked open one eye.
"I'm sorry. What was that?" His voice was clipped, more so than usual.
"I said, I can see…I can see your wings Cas." Dean bit his lip, waiting for the rush of air when they'd be gone…but they never disappeared.
Instead, Castiel actually smirked, looking at Dean disbelievingly. "This is…" he seemed to think for the right word. "A prank, is it not?" His lips twitched and Dean gaped.
"No, Cas, this isn't a prank." Castiel quirked an eyebrow at Dean's response.
"Well I think it must be. There's no way you should be able to see my wings."
"Which is why I've been silently freaking out over here." Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. "But regardless of how funny it might seem to you, I can see them."
"That is not possible. Perhaps you are merely catching their shadows"
Dean sighed in exasperation. "They look real enough that they look like I can just reach out and touch them!" To prove his point, he stalked forward, reaching out. He half expected his hands to pass through, proving his suspicions that they were only mirages. What he hadn't expected was for them to be so solid…His fingers curled reflexively into the feathers, and at that slight action, Castiel inhaled sharply.
He was at that wondrous point of no return. He leaned forward, despite the wings shivering under his touch and pressed his face into the soft feathers above his fingers, his eyes wide and on Castiel's equally shocked expression.
They were softer than he had dreamed of, and they had a wonderfully familiar scent. He was about to say something about how amazing they were when Castiel let out a choked noise, stopping him cold. Cas' face was flushed pink, his breathing ragged and sharp.
"Cas?" Dean leaned back to see him better, his fingers still gently petting the chocolate feathers beneath them.
"I must go." And with a great shudder of wings, he was gone, leaving Dean's hands outstretched, clutching empty air.
He had no idea what had come over him…The sudden feel of those feathers under his fingers had spurred him to do something he would have never done.
Dean groaned loudly, scrubbing at his face with his hands, as though trying to physically erase the image of those wings from his mind, only to I n hale sharply at the dry, almost musky scent on his hands. He groaned again. They smelled like Cas…like those wings.
He knew he had smelled it before and his mind picked through his memories, dredging up the one that he kept unconsciously going to.
Dean, much smaller and much younger, stood next to his father, looking up into the face of the man they were here to see. Sam lay slumped against his Dad's chest, the large man holding him effortlessly as the youngest of them slept.
The man in front of them spoke softly so as to not wake the slumbering child, but Dean was well aware of what the man's voice usually sounded like—loud, demanding and gruff. He had heard him speak before, but never this quietly. He was secretly glad Sam was asleep…He didn't like this hunter's voice at all. It was too hard and too biting.
But he'd never had said this to his dad. This guy was important to Dad, so he kept his mouth shut. Dean watched as the guy rifled through a file in his hands, looking for something he had been talking about.
"Dean." He blinked and looked up into his father's face. John smiled down at him, and shifted Sam in his arms so that he could gently pat Dean's shoulder. "We're going to go talk," He thought for a moment. "Business," he finally finished, as though monster hunting was really that simple. "Go wait by the car…you don't need to hear this."
Dean thought about protesting, saying that Sam could be faking and would hear everything. But despite the logic of his own concerns, the eldest Winchester brother knew an order when he heard one…even at that age. He nodded and headed back outside and around what looked like a massive greenhouse until he was standing dejectedly by the Impala.
He knew the man kept Dad with amulets and hard to find artifacts. He knew that he was a hunter like his Dad, and knew that when 'business' was being discussed, it meant a job. It meant days in a lousy motel with no word whether his father was alive or not. He frowned. He just didn't know why this hunter needed his dad. He had always been capable before going out by himself. His dad had frequently joked during their run in's how solitary the guy was.
SO it must be a BIG bit of business.
It was a few minutes later that he was startled out of his preteen musings by a loud squawk (or screech) that sent his mind thinking of the most horrible creatures it could muster up. It had come from that massive greenhouse he had passed. Waiting for a moment for his father and the other hunter to race around the building, guns blazing, he stood, glaring intently at the building.
When no one arrived, and another series of loud, unknown screeches erupted from behind the frosted panes of glass, Dean made up his mind to do his own investigating.
He knew he shouldn't.
Knew he had been told to wait at the car.
But the idea of some sort of adventure into the unknown set his heart racing and his blood boiling.
He didn't know at that point in time how much like his father he truly was.
The door opened without so much as a squeak. He shuffled inside, his pocket knife drawn out and opened, held in front of him like how his dad had shown him.
He was expecting some sort of creature lurking in the shadows of dead and dying plants and trees, rows of mangled and dilapidated plants, stacked on rickety tables, spanning the length of the large structure.
What he wasn't expecting was to walk into a near tropical paradise.
His mouth dropped in awe at the sight of lush vegetation all around him, an abundance of flowering plants and trees in ornate pots. It was like someone's own little Garden of Eden.
His arm lowered as he gazed around him, never really seeing this much green and color in nature save for the books he occasionally opened in school.
He watched the tall trees around him, surprised when he suddenly saw flashes of color above him.
It seem this hardened hunter-friend of Dad's had a soft spot for tropical birds.
There were the regular few that Dean had seen in the odd petshop window, parakeets and finches, but he was more interested in the large, brightly colored birds that seemed to perch on hand made stands and in the willowy branches of some of the larger trees.
And that's when he heard the noise behind him. Sure he had been lulled into a false sense of security, Dean whirled around, brandishing his knife, only to be greeted by a large pair of curious slate-grey eyes. Eye's that belonged to the biggest grey bird he'd ever seen this close up.
It was about a foot tall with dusty grey feathers and a dark grey, curved beak. Its long feathers were tucked close to its body and Dean caught a glimpse of red on its tail. It tilted its head from one side to another as though it were trying to read Dean and his odd posture. Dean responded by lowering his knife, and glancing around cautiously, stepping closer to the curious bird.
It blinked at him then nodded its head excitedly, liking Dean's actions. It clicked its beak when Dean stopped, leaning its neck out as far as it could to close the space between them.
Despite his trepidation, Dean raised his hand, ready to jump away if the bird snapped at him. He wasn't an animal person, and most of his run-ins with them so far had not been all that pleasant. Angry stray dogs, the occasional rabid raccoon while he and his dad were out in the woods—never much one for even wanting a pet.
But this bird seemed nice enough. He stretched his fingers out and gently touched them to the large birds neck, smiling brightly when it knocked his head upwards, encouraging the touch. He continued to scratch the bird happily, laughing softly when it made small keening noises. He was sure that it was one of the larger birds that had been making the sounds that led him in here.
There was a flutter off to his right and he stopped his petting, turning to follow the noise out of instinct. The bird squawked at being ignored and shifted impatiently from one talon tipped foot to the other, bobbing its head up and down.
Turning back Dean smiled and reached out again—only to have the bird take a small leap and land comfortably on Deans forearm. A bit frightened to shake it off, Dean stood still, holding the bird as it looked at him.
"H-Hey bird," he said a bit shakily, not really sure how he should talk to a bird.
It bobbed its head up and down again, trilling "birrd, birrrd" and clicking its beak. Dean's eyed widened and he smiled, never hearing one actually speak except on TV or in cartoons. Before he could pet the bird again, it began to waddle (it's the only word Dean could describe what it was doing…that and shuffling), up his arm until it was perched mostly on Dean's small shoulder.
He turned his head to look at the bird, vaguely aware that it could peck his eyes out before he could blink, and was surprised at the warmth on his cheek as the bird pressed in against him. Staying stock still, he felt the bird reach over his head and felt that sharp curved beak gently nibble at bits of his hair, pulling its beak down and almost combing Dean's spiky hair. He inhaled sharply, about to laugh, and got a full whiff of the bird's dusty scent. It smelled like sky and ozone, like wind and the sun. He imagined that this was what the air smelled like if you flew in that area where space dipped into our realm of existence. There's a dusty smell to it's feathers too that he was sure came from the potted soil and the overheated greenhouse environment. He enjoyed that smell for some unknown reason and reached up to scratch the bird's neck. It extended a wing in response and Dean caught a glimpse of a few of its long flight feathers overlapping in a funny way. He gently touched them; combing fingers through and placing them back where they needed to be.
The bird clicked its beak happily and nuzzled Dean's cheek. It'd be years before Dean knew that what he had done was considered 'preening' and that the bird had been doing the same to him. It was bonding with him and he with the bird.
But that moment didn't last as long as he had hoped.
His dad burst in shortly after, causing the large bird to take off. His dad had been livid, coming in and dragging a protesting Dean out, yelling about not following orders, and pushing him into the back of them impala, rather impatiently, with a sniffling Sam.
Dean sulked. But his jacket smelled like warmth and ozone for the next week, so he wasn't too unhappy about the whole series of event.
And it wasn't until many, many years later, after he had practically molested an angel of the Lord, that Dean would remember that smell. Remember that dusky scent of earth and sky mixing and mingling in one wonderful scent; the smell of warm sky and sunlight on feathers.
Dean moaned as he stood leaning against his car, allowing his memories to go back…remembering that day and that bird. There was something different with the scent that he smelled on his hands—different than the scent of those warm feathers so long ago. It was a musky smell…an earthy smell…it mixed with it well and was very much 'Cas'. In fact, he always smelled like that, but it wasn't until he was RIGHT there, face planted against the feathers, so close to Cas' body, that he had realized how strong it was, and how very much he liked it.
Dean sighed angrily, rubbing his forehead and scrubbing his eyes, trying to figure out what he was going to do.
But there was no time for that right this minute. He needed to go pick up Sam. He was sure his brother was waiting on the side of the road in front of the motel, bitchface in place, and glaring daggers at an empty street.
Maybe Sam could help him out here. He'd be loath to actually admit it to his brother, but Sam Winchester occasionally gave good advice…