One day in March, Castiel's phone stops working. The battery is charged and he has plenty of minutes. It just doesn't work.
He zaps it a bit, but that doesn't help.
"Your phone's broken?" Dean says when he catches Castiel fiddling with it. He's sitting crosslegged on his bed in the motel room, cleaning his guns. Sam is at the library, because the motel doesn't have wifi. Castiel knows about wifi now; Sam explained it to him. They aren't as easy to use as angelic powers, of course, but the technological solutions humans have come up with to communicate are truly remarkable. Castiel is quite pleased to have his own phone. Or rather, to be a bit more accurate, he waspleased to have his own phone.
"I didn't do anything," Castiel tells him. "I'm not sure what's wrong with it."
"Sometimes phones break, Cas. Don't worry about it."
"But I need a phone," Castiel explains to him. "So I can call you and Sam."
"Yeah, I know, Cas. We'll get you a new one today, okay? Sam will be back soon, and then we'll go phone shopping."
"Okay," Castiel says. He has a little while before he needs to get back. His garrison can stay on top of things without him until then. Hopefully.
Sam gets back in a bad mood. Castiel watches him stomp around the motel room with interest. Humans live with their emotions so close to the surface; it's fascinating and somewhat disturbing at the same time. Someone at the library had spilled lukewarm coffee all over Sam's pants and he's damp and smells like an espresso – which Castiel doesn't find unpleasant, but Sam grumbles as he changes his clothes.
Sam has, Castiel considers, a really ideal example of a human body. It's a shame he has to cover it up, but Castiel is aware that it is societally unacceptable for Sam to go around without a shirt on.
The news that they have to go get Castiel a new phone seems to perk Sam up, though.
"You're such a freak," Dean says. "Shopping for cell phones totally sucks."
"Don't listen to him, Cas," Sam says. "Dean thinks everything made after 1987 sucks. Gadgets are awesome. I think you should get a smart phone. You can get apps and stuff! I just got one and look at this!" He whips his phone out and starts pressing brightly colored images on the screen. Castiel has no idea what Sam is talking about, although it is entertaining to see him get so excited over his toy. Castiel feels a rush of affection for Sam that surprises him. Things have changed so much between himself and the Winchesters over time. When he rescued Dean from hell, Castiel was simply following orders. Humans were beautiful and interesting in their complexity and form, but Castiel could barely tell the difference between one human and another. But Dean and Sam are each so remarkable and special in their own right. Sam tucks a lock of hair behind his ear and smiles and Castiel is riveted.
His father's vision is truly awesome.
"Can I use it to call you and Dean?" Castiel finally asks.
"Yeah, of course," Sam huffs.
"Then it will be fine."
An hour later, Castiel has a new phone, identical to Sam's.
"Hey Cas, you want to play Words With Friends?" Sam asks from the front seat of the Impala.
"What is Words With Friends?" Castiel asks.
"It's like Scrabble, but on your phone. Um, it's a game. You can play it with other people, over the internet. It's a free app."
"Sam plays it all the time," Dean says. "Like, all the time."
"It is a bit addictive," Sam admits.
"I am not subject to human addictions," Castiel reminds them. "What's Scrabble?"
Words With Friends turns out to be surprisingly enjoyable. Castiel knows Dean thinks he has no sense of humor or fun, but angels play games all the time. How else does Dean think there are so many Christian denominations? Castiel himself accidentally created the catalyst for the schism between the Catholics and the Orthodox. Oops.
Castiel plays with anonymous people on the internet from time to time, but mostly he plays with Sam.
At first, Sam clobbers Castiel constantly. Then Sam goes around with a bit of a look of superiority on his face, making cutting remarks about how it must be hard to have such a limited vocabulary. Castiel just grits his teeth and ignores him. Sam clearly doesn't understand what it is like to do battle with a heavenly warrior. But he's going to find out.
After a week, Castiel beats Sam with quinoaon a triple word score.
"Do you even know what quinoa is?" Sam demands.
"A species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), it is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family," Castiel says.
Sam stares at him.
"Doesn't your phone allow you to use Wikipedia?" Castiel asks smugly.
Castiel has never used the internet before, but it is remarkable. Wikipedia is filled with links, and Castiel can spend hours clicking on them and reading articles about everything possible. At first, he does it only to learn new words to use against Sam in Words With Friends, but after a while, it's interesting in its own right.
Castiel reads a lot about human sexuality.
"Did you just play perineum?" Sam asks. He's sitting on the bed in the motel room, ostensibly researching something on his computer while he eats his dinner.
Dean chokes on the burger he's eating.
"Yes," Castiel tells him. "It is generally defined as the surface region in both males and females between the pubic symphysis and the coccyx."
Sam just looks at him oddly. But a few turns later, he adds a enis going down off of the p in perineum.
Castiel turns it into penises.
"How are things going in heaven?" Dean asks one day.
"Difficultly," Castiel tells him shortly.
"You seem to be down here a lot more than usual lately."
"I have duties down here, too," Castiel tells him. Also, his phone can't exist in heaven.
His phone vibrates, letting him know that Sam has played his turn. Castiel turns slightly and catches Sam's eye. Sam smiles and ducks his head. Castiel thinks he would like to touch Sam's lips. And clavicle. And frenulum.
The word Sam played was lust. Castiel uses the t to make testes.
The next day, Sam opens their game with angel. Castiel glances over at him, his long legs stretched out on the bed. Sam looks up at him briefly, then glances at the bathroom door. The sound of Dean singing tunelessly in the shower is clearly audible.
Castiel adds an s and an x around the e.
"I'm tired of playing," Sam announces suddenly.
"I thought you liked this game," Castiel tells him. The hurt he feels is inexplicable, but strong. How can Sam not want to play with him anymore?
Sam shakes his head.
"No, Cas, I do like the game. But I'm tired of playing."
He gets up and walks over to the couch where Castiel is sitting. Up close, Sam's scent, breath, humanityis almost overwhelming.
"Do you actually want this?" Sam asks. He leans in, close enough to kiss Castiel. "Are you just experimenting?"
"Yes and no," Castiel answers. His heart is beating wildly and his breath seems to be coming faster, which is exciting, but also a little scary. Castiel wonders briefly if this is what it's like to be human and if it's always so intense. Sam huffs out a quiet laugh, and closes the gap between them.
The kiss is short and nearly chaste, but Castiel finds it extremely pleasant. He would like to continue, but the water in the bathroom shuts off and Sam leans back.
"Later," Sam tells him, and Castiel nods. He attempts a smile, and is rewarded with a brilliant grin. But Castiel is still concerned about one issue.
"You still want to play Words With Friends, though, right?" Castiel asks.
Sam's laughter echoes in the motel room.