Dean knows that it's way too early to be awake. The windows are still dark behind the curtains and he can't even hear any of the birds that are usually up greeting the dawn and doing whatever the fuck birds did. Besides be noisy. The thudding at his front door comes again and he closes his eyes against it as he lays in a sprawl face down on his bed. The salt lines were solid so even if something got past the gate it could go fuck itself until it was a decent hour in the morning. Nothing else was getting past the wards around the doorways and windows.
"Dean Winchester! You get your ass out of bed right now!"
Great, now it was yelling and it sounded just like his dad. Fuck. It's his dad.
He's out of bed in a scramble, wincing as he comes down a little too hard on his knee as his fingers scrabble at the side of the bed trying to find his cane. He knows he left it there and he's gotta do something about it always falling down between the bed and the nightstand... Finally he hobbles out of the bedroom going as fast as physically possible for him and yanks open the front door right when his dad is about to start jimmying the lock.
John Winchester looks like he always does, five o' clock shadow and frown, "Shit son, took you long enough."
"II was up until three finding everything on Iranian golems for Garth." Dean wipes his hand over his face as he takes a few steps back
"He ain't dead yet?" His dad asks as he bends down to grab something out on the porch.
"Dumb luck sees him through another season." Dean hesitates when his dad comes in carrying a laundry basket filled with blankets.
"Please tell me you didn't wake me up at five in the morning so you could come do your laundry."
"I need you to take point on a project." His dad is using his 'serious' voice which sounds almost identical to his 'not serious' voice but means more work for Dean. It's also his 'don't fuck this up' voice and Dean feels his mouth go dry like it hasn't since Sammy.
"Uh, okay." Dean nods as his dad sets the basket on top of Dean's notes spread out over his desk. Something in the basket whimpers.
"I'm gonna take a wild guess and say it's not kittens," Dean frowns because he's starting to remember the chatter over the channels last week. All the Western Hunters had their panties in a twist because of some fucking meteor shower and...
His dad pulls away the blanket and Dean feels his stomach drop. It's a baby angel, curled up in a pile of plaid blankets with messy white-blond hair and a set of wings that were more grey downy fluff than anything else.
"Son of a bitch," Dean mutters.
"Yeah," his dad breathes.
Dean's in the kitchen pretending to make coffee and trying to not freak out. His dad is out in the living room, leaning back in the recliner, with a baby, hold on... nestling snuggled against his chest. They're both quiet when Dean gets back. The only sounds are the baby sniffing and the soft noise of his dad smoothing down its wings.
"So what exactly is going on?" Dean finally asks before he dies of suspense.
"Gordon and I got sent to investigate that meteor shower along Oregon last week. It turned out to be another bunch of heaven junk that got sent our way. Bits from buildings, a couple of bodies. We salted and burned them and then I found this one tangled up in a tree."
"Cool story." Dean swallows, "Why is it here?"
"He's here because after all the paperwork I went through keeping him I wasn't exactly going to hand him off to some random asshole at the Home." His dad frowns at him and Dean winces.
He remembers the Home, him and Sammy only stayed there a week while their dad was on a hunt in another sector but it was shit. It was where orphans and crippled hunters and every thing that had ever lost hope lived. Dean had been lucky after he was hurt he had his dad and Ellen and Bobby to set him up as a Hub.
"You claimed him?" Dean blinked. That was news. His dad usually didn't give much of a shit about anything nowadays. Unless he could kill it.
"Look, I found him and I..." His dad's voice drops a bit as the baby wriggles and resettles itself. "I figured you could use the company."
Well shit. If John didn't have the rep of being a fucking hard ass Dean would say that he was trying to do something nice. "You could have gotten me a dog."
"And I could have left him in the Home to turn out like that Lucifer kid. Don't smart ass me. Besides," John says, standing. "I think you were the one that was always complaining about how Hunter's kids get a shit deal, never having a real home. I figured you'd be the last person to throw him out."
Dean frowns because he knows this for the set up it is. But he still raises his hands and let his dad slip the tiny thing into his arms. He's warm and his wings flutter as Dean settles him. He knows why his dad brought him here. It's a baby, he'll need somewhere safe, with someone that... mostly knows what they're doing. Plus, angel's are sensitive, they pick up on emotion. Dean's had experience with that from Sammy. God damn, he's a giant pushover.
"Well, you didn't drop him, so I'm on my way out then."
Dean frowns at his dad but nods and listens to him lets himself out.
The first thing he's doing is going back to bed. Dean has got to give it to this kid. He's quiet. Even when Dean plops him back in the laundry basket and carries him into the bedroom. He wakes up two hours later to his cell phone going off and the bluest eyes he's ever seen peering out of the basket he'd left by the bed.
"Hey Bobby," he answers as he reaches down to ruffle milky blond hair and watch the little thing retreat back under the blankets.
"That kid drive you crazy yet?" Is the first thing he's asked and Dean grins.
"We had a nap. You got money riding on me or something?"
"Fifty bucks says you call Ellen panicking before Friday."
"What!" Dean is laughing now and the blue eyes looking at him curiously. "I managed to raise Sammy without killing him."
"Humans are more adaptable." Bobby snaps, "Plus it was Sammy, all you had to do was turn the TV on and he was happy."
Dean chuckles leaving his arm dangling over the laundry basket. Sammy was great when he was a kid. Course then he had to go and grow up. Dean lets out a sigh, looking down as a tiny hand tentatively brushes against his.
He can hear Bobby's smile over the phone, "Anyway, since I'm sure your dad left you jack and squat to do with supplies for him, I'm sending Jo out with a care package and some extra groceries. She should show up sometime soon."
"Tell her to bring beer," Dean says, it's his usual request.
"Get off your damn ass and get it yourself, beer ain't essential." Which is the usual answer.
Dean rolls his eyes and rolls onto his side on the bed as his fingers get tugged on, he curls them around the baby's hand and watches him wrinkle his nose. Bobby is bitching at him about how hard raising kids is and Dean vows to teach the angel to call him 'grandpa' as soon as he start figuring out words.
Though Dean isn't quite sure when that's gonna be. The angel's small, but they have different growth rates than humans. Their mental stuff comes in sooner than the physical. At least that's what he recalls, there hasn't been an angel raised on Earth by humans since Lucifer and everyone knows how that went. Dean frowns. He better not fuck this up.
"You hear me, boy?"
"Yes, Bobby. Love you too." Dean smiles into the phone as Bobby grumbles at him and hangs up.
Dean waits a few moments before he reaches down and scoops up the baby which lets out a 'meep'. He puts him on the bed and watches him curl up in a ball. Dean is patient and he keeps his emotions under control, his mind blank and even. Eventually there are blue eyes again and Dean smiles as he runs his hand over fluffy wings and tweaks little toes and cheeks. He gets a giggle and he thinks maybe he can do this.
Jo shows up that night carrying bags and complaining about the interstate and her mother and Walmart. Dean looks at her from his desk, over his glasses, until he's sure she's done.
She takes a sip from the flask by the door before she drags her blond hair back into a ponytail and puts her hands on her hips. "Well, where is he?"
Dean points to the laundry basket next to his desk and there are a dozen warnings in his head about keeping her emotions in check and he's sort of shy...
But Jo flips the blankets back and grins, "Hello, handsome!" It only takes her half a second to have the baby out of his basket and in her arms where she can make stupid noises over him. Dean and the baby both blink a little in surprise.
But then Jo gets the baby laughing and Dean shakes his head. "You've never been that happy to see me."
"You aren't this cute!" Jo grins as she snuggles her nose into downy wings and grins, "Oh! He smells like cookies."
"Really?" Dean frowns, "I thought he smelled like gunpowder but he'd been in the car with dad all day."
Jo shakes her head as she slips the baby into Dean's lap, "Peanut butter."
Dean frowns as she goes to put groceries away and bends down to smell the baby. Nope. Black powder and leather. Crazy woman.
"I thought you didn't like kids?" He calls as he shifts so he can hobble into the kitchen with the baby curled against him.
"Sure I like kids," Jo grins at him, "As long as I get to give them back. Does he sleep in that laundry basket?"
"Uhhh," Dean knew she was gonna have a problem with that. "It's his nest."
"It's a crap nest. I didn't know you needed a crib."
"I think we can get by without a crib." Dean frowns.
The look Jo gives him obviously means he can't.
Which is how he ends up shopping at ten o' clock at night while Jo watches the baby. This was not supposed to be his life. His life was hunting things and saving people. Not trying to figure out how he's going to jam a playpen into the back of the Impala.
When he gets back Jo is giggling and the baby is laying limp on the couch.
"You killed him," Dean grouses, dragging the box.
"I put clothes on him and he just flopped down like a dog in a sweater."
Dean pauses at the couch and gets a long suffering look. "I'm not saving you from a cotton jumper." He gets a huff for his trouble and a flutter of wings.
It's almost midnight when he gets the playpen assembled. He tosses all remaining blankets, assorted stuffed animals, and some of his clean laundry into the thing followed by the baby who wriggles up against a stuffed pig and promptly falls asleep.
"Now that's a nest," Jo nods.
The twenty four hours before were obviously a grace period because when Dean wakes up the next morning it's to the unmistakable sound of a wailing baby. He blearily hobbles out of his bedroom to find Jo standing out on the porch apologizing profusely and rocking the baby.
He doesn't see anything trying to kill them. "What are you doing to him now?"
"Nothing!" Jo hisses. "I just started making breakfast and he freaked out when I started cooking the bacon."
Dean frowns at the pan in the sink and then at the baby who is making pitiful retching noises. "Aw fuck, I was hoping that was a myth."
"What's a myth?" Jo asks as Dean takes the baby from her to cradle him and rub in between his wings.
Dean runs his hand over his face, "Angels find the flesh of animals repulsive and sickening. Anything that was once alive is off the menu."
"Isn't that your entire menu?" Jo looks concerned.
Dean looks down at the baby who has both tiny fists clutching his shirt. "Yeah."
So Jo laughs at him for a half hour and they'd managed to make pancakes without an abundance of tears. Then she'd taken off, heading out to make more deliveries, a lifeline to the the more isolated Hubs.
Dean lays on the bed with the baby on his chest and tries to not think about hamburgers. He tries to remember what he knows about angels. He remembers the pictures of angels in Bobby's books, their wings spread wide with trailing tattoos down their spine. Dean spends the next ten minutes undressing a baby angel, easy, and then trying to get him to spread his wings, hard. He finally figures out that if he just runs his fingers underneath them, combing through the down, the baby turns into a relaxed pile and is easier to work with.
He can make out a silvery mark just between the baby's wings along with other tiny sigils. But... his Enochian translating skills kind of suck. After long deliberation he gets his cell phone and takes a picture, as clearly as he can and sends it to Sam with the short message of, 'Translate this, bitch'.
Then comes the epic battle of trying to get the baby redressed which Dean finally wins after distracting him and working fast. He gets a long whine for his troubles that almost makes him deaf as he watches the baby wriggle around on the bed trying to get his jumper off.
"You are on Earth." Dean says, "You have to wear clothes on Earth."
He doesn't think the baby understands but apparently Dean talking is more interesting than trying to yank his clothes off. Dean rubs his wings and lets him roll around on the bed with his pig for a bit before he looks at the clock.
The phones have been suspiciously quiet. Dean frowns before he scoops the baby up, "Come on, let's introduce you to TV."
Two minutes. Probably less is how long it took him to grab a book and come back to find the baby covered in honey. He's not even sure how he got it off the counter. So now Pig and a pile of blankets are in the washer and he's got a squirmy baby in the kitchen sink who thinks that baths are the most amazing things ever. Or splashing Dean is. Dean hmmm's in the back of his throat and tries to figure out how to get honey out of feathers.
"No meat," Dean frowns. "But you're totally okay with shoving bee barf in your mouth."
"Brrrf," the baby replies, clanking the spoon he's gotten a hold of against the side of the sink.
Dean refuses to be proud of an almost word.
He's finally using dish soap on the baby's wings when his cell phone goes off. Dean sighs, rubs his free hand on his jeans and yanks it out of his pocket. It's Sam and he tosses it on the counter to let it go to voicemail but after the third ring he frowns. After the fourth ring he reaches out and hits the answer button at the same time he hits the speaker phone.
It's silent for a moment before he hears his brother, "Dean?"
He takes a deep breath and just goes for it, trying to ignore the fact that this is the first time he's spoken to his brother in three years. "Yeah, I know we usually do that voicemail thing but I figure I'll have some questions and well... fuck it."
"Okay," Sam starts but then the baby realizes that something is happening and squeals in excitement. "Am I on speaker phone?"
"My hands are full, I've got him in the bath." Dean explains over the baby squealing and all of a sudden the brilliant unmistakable sound of Sam laughing.
He can't remember the last time he's heard his brother laugh. "These are what I thought they were. They gave him to you?"
"Hey, I can take care of a baby just- Don't put that in your mouth." Dean is holding the bottle of soap away from the baby and listening to his brother crack up while he bites the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling.
"Abdiel," Sam says over the phone and Dean blinks.
"His name is Abdiel. It's in his Marks. What have you been calling him?" Sam has that 'oh my god, you're such an embarrassment' tone of voice and Dean so did not miss that.
"I dunno," Dean rolls his shoulder because he hadn't really thought about it. "Baby."
"That's really creative, Dean." Sam sighs. "Look, that isn't all. If these things match up with the research I've done he's got a flock."
That makes Dean still and swallow. He knew that the Lucifer kid was an orphan, his Marks all faded but... This meant Abdiel had a family somewhere. But why hadn't they come for him?
The archangel is in full dress regalia, silver breastplate, and a red sash. Two sets of golden wings are folded neatly behind his back as he walks down empty halls. His face is blank, hollow. He's short, but his golden eyes are piercing. There's an angel with long red hair waiting for him, their grey wings twitching as they look up.
"I need to speak to the council," he says.
"I could make an appointment but with the latest attacks our hands are a bit full." The other angel replies, Dean can hear the exhaustion underneath their voice.
"It's about Castiel, he's gone." he says.
The other angel pales and their dark eyes widen.
Dean doesn't know who that is.
It's dark in the bedroom, save for the moonlight. Dean blinks, his mouth is dry but he can't remember for the life of him what he was dreaming. Next to the bed in the playpen, he hears Abdiel whimper. Which gets Dean out of bed in an instant and once he turns the light on he can see Abdiel curled around Pig with tears streaming down his face. Sleepy blue eyes open when Dean runs his hand over his head.
"Hey Abe," he breathes, "What are you crying for?"
He scoops him up, kissing the top of his head and rubbing his wings once he settled. Dean makes coffee which he has to tell Abe like four thousand times he can't have. Finally he squirts honey into one of the bottles that Jo brought him and warms up some milk. It's kind of funny watching a baby try to figure out what food is. Dean's used to how Sam was when he was little. Always hungry for anything he could get. But this is Abe, propped up on the couch against Pig, with his hair all messy frowning over the bottle that Dean gave him like it was a small explosive.
"You put it in your mouth," Dean explains as he tilts the bottle up and Abe's suspicious face turns into a pleased grin around the rubber nipple.
Dean rubs Abe's head as he sprawls on the couch with the TV casting weird shadows all over the living room. Dean knows that there are only a handful of angels on Earth now, give or take. He remembers his mom telling him the histories; when angels walked the Earth, giving aid and protection to whoever needed it. But the angels left. They left a bunch of humans that didn't know how to take care of themselves. Which was why there were Hunters now. Some people hate the angels for leaving them. Others build churches and wait for them to come back.
Abe makes huffing noises as he wriggles around until he's pressed against Dean, the bottle forgotten. He doesn't want to think about where the little guy could have ended up if Hunter's hadn't found him. They fall asleep watching infomercials and Dean dreams about feathers falling through darkness.
Dean is on the phone trying to read an exorcism in Bengali so hopefully Rufus won't get eviscerated by a ghost panther. He's got Abe tucked under his arm because Abe decided in the middle of Dean being on the phone that he was, all of a sudden, not happy in his nest.
He hears gunshots over the phone and closes his eyes as Abe tugs half the shit off his desk. Finally, after a way too long silence he hears Rufus. "That did it! Way to not drop the ball Winchester." Then he hangs up.
Dean looks down at his papers all over the floor and Abe who is grinning up at him from where he's got him tucked on his hip. "You think you're just awesome, don't you?" Dean grouses and Abe giggles. He's learning to tell when Dean's really mad over when it's just been a crap day.
"Evil Abe," Dean smiles back because really, those notes weren't organized at all. "Making me clean my desk. Just for that I'm putting a halo on you and taking pictures."
Abe lets out a string of baby babble that he thinks are perfectly good words. He's been trying this talking thing for the last week or so. So far he's mastered 'Dee' and "Puh'. Dean shuffles into the kitchen, turning so Abe can't drag the box of doughnuts off the counter.
Hunter's had been showing up here and there. Usually with gifts, generally consisting of something someone would get at a gas station. Most were just there to laugh at the idea of Dean Winchester, resident badass, with a baby. Others were quieter, more reverent. Dean usually shooed them off as soon as he could. He didn't need anyone here to worship Abe. Besides he's too little to make an awesome god yet. Right now he'd be Abdiel, guardian of Pig and slayer of jelly doughnuts.
He's making himself a sandwich, one handed because he has skills, and letting Abe lick peanut butter off a spoon when his cell goes off. It's Sam so he ignores it, but now he's not sure about the protocol anymore. He answered the last time Sam called and the time before that. It was kind of a relief because Sam didn't call to ask stupid crap, Sam called to ask how Abe was and to bitch about stupid nerdy Sam things. It was so ridiculously normal that Dean almost forgot that they were supposed to be fucked up and not talking.
The phone stops ringing and then Sam immediately calls back.
Dean thumbs the phone in a rush because that's not good. Usually Sam will leave a whiny voicemail and go on with his life. But Dean doesn't get any words out before Sam's voice and a shit ton of static greet him with, "De-! Angels! Co- Right now! I-"
There's a shrieking burst of something over the phone and in a split second there is a man standing in Dean's living room.
When Dean looks back on what happened that day he's going to have to tuck this somewhere in the top ten of the weirdest shit that's ever happened to him. He's in the middle of a decision between running for the panic room or trying to fight with whatever the hell he has on hand and wondering why the hell the wards were doing nothing when he takes in the guy in front of him. He's average looking, in a rumpled suit and trench coat. His hair is dark, messy but then Dean sees his eyes. Blue, like Abdiel.
Dean has this epiphany about half a second before he realizes that the room feels like all the air has been sucked out of it and is about to collapse. Some tiny animal part of Dean's brain is screaming at him to run but he's frozen because this thing is not human and is going to tear him apart.
Then Abe whimpers. It's a soft noise but all of a sudden all of the awe and power just drain out of the guy and his face just crumples as he breathes out, "Abdiel..."
In direct response to his sense of self preservation Dean lets this stranger, except Dean knows he isn't one, take Abe from him and gather him to his chest. Which is how Dean Winchester ends up with an angel sitting on his kitchen floor, sobbing in relief as he rocks Abe back and forth who is making confused happy noises and getting peanut butter in the guys hair. Dean will give it a seven on the weird shit meter. But that's only because number eight is about to show up.
Dean gets half a second to blink before another guy pops into his living room and he's gonna have to lay down some rules about that. Only this guy has two pairs of golden wings on his back and Dean suddenly remembers his dreams for the last two weeks. The feeling of hopelessness as people he didn't know worked their way towards him. The dude's wearing jeans and a jacket and in an instant is hovering over trench coat speaking, fuck, Enochian. He lets this go on for about two minutes before he clears his throat.
Wings looks up with golden eyes that are a little bit teary before he has the great sense to look apologetic. His English is hesitant and he has an accent when he speaks. "Sorry, I didn't get a chance to tell him to knock."
"Him?" Dean asks because all the adrenaline from 'holy shit there's a guy in my house' is starting to taper off and he kind of wants to sit on the floor himself.
The angel salutes him, "I am Gabriel of the First Garrison and this is my brother Castiel of the Silver Tower. We have been searching Earth for Castiel's nestling after he was lost during an attack on our city." That answers that.
It turns out that Gabriel is one of those take charge kind of people. With the double set of wings and the whole 'first garrison' thing Dean isn't very surprised. He gets Castiel off the floor and between him and Dean they lay the angel on Dean's bed. He won't let go of Abdiel but Dean just tucks Pig in with them and the baby curls up against well... Dean swallows, that is his father isn't it? He lingers for a bit and when he comes back out there's an angel, sans wings now, cleaning up the papers all over his floor.
"You don't have to do that." Dean blurts as he wonders if going back to sandwich making is even worth it.
"I apologize again. I knew my brother would be be desperate to see Abdiel but I at least hoped that we could discuss a plan before traveling to your location." The angel continues cleaning.
"Dude, relax." Dean says and Gabriel freezes.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. We just didn't have much of a plan after this." His golden eyes dart to the ground and Dean didn't think angels could get nervous.
"What?" Dean rolls his shoulder. "You found the little guy. I figure your brother has a nap and then you guys go on your merry way right?"
Dean is in no way going to pout because Abe's family came and got him, that was just one less thing Dean had to worry about. It was a blessing really. The angel is quiet. Way too quiet. Finally Dean turns, leaning against the kitchen counter and crosses his arms.
"You guys are going back to like, Heaven right? I mean you just came to get Abe and..."
"We are no longer allowed to return. It is forbidden for angels to leave Heaven during a war. We've been branded as deserters and cannot petition to gain entrance until the current war is over." Gabriel says it in a rush but at least he loses that pinched look he had.
"You mean it was stay in Heaven or go find Abe?" Dean asks, because that's fucked up. You shouldn't have to pick between your kids or home and hadn't that war been going on for like three hundred years?
"It was not a very difficult decision." Gabriel states proudly, "In the end."
Dean smiles because he can get behind that. But the smiles fades because now he's got a trio of homeless angels that as soon as some people get wind of... Dean opens his mouth before his brain has a chance to process what he's saying.
"You guys can stay here if you want. I've got room and it will keep other Hunters from hassling you."
Shit, that just came out of his mouth. He looks up slowly, registers the grateful look on Gabriel's face and it's way too late to try to back out of that.
This was not supposed to be his life.