Once upon a time Dean Winchester used to be the most kickass hunter in the continental United States. At least that's what he used to claim. He didn't really have any statistics or anything on it. Now he only fired guns to scare off stupid teenagers that didn't know they were trespassing. He mostly listens to Hunters bitch on the phone and looks up crap in Latin. But that was last month. Now he's apparently a foster dad to a baby angel as well as operator of a halfway house for the things. There have been issues...
The Hunter community flipped their shit until they figured out that no one could make the angels do anything they didn't want to and these were the first that were sort of on their side. Dean has been getting a lot of 'brown nosing' phone calls lately. But he wasn't just having issues with the Hunters. Dean's never co-existed with angels before. Not counting Abdiel, who's a baby and hasn't learned all these cultural hang ups.
Okay, maybe Dean was the one with hang ups. It wasn't his fault that no one informed him that angels were... touchy. Dean can't go an hour without a hand on him or someone in his personal space.
Also, sleeping arrangements. Dean figured he was set, because grown angels didn't sleep. Awesome. Only Abe's... Not dad, maker, Castiel sleeps, because Abe does. And more often than not Abe wants to sleep with Dean.
Dean lets out a breath and stares at the ceiling. He can hear Gabriel in the kitchen having another go at the coffee maker. Abe is sprawled out on his chest in that totally limp way that only babies can manage.
While Cas has somehow jammed himself up against Dean's side despite the very clear conversations they've had about cuddling. Dean once again tries to figure out if he can take the two sets of wide imploring blue eyes he'll get if he tries to kick Cas out of bed. Fuck, it's not worth the chaos.
He manages to wriggle out of bed and slide Abe into Cas' arms without either of them waking up. He decides he's gonna count it as a victory as he grabs his cane and hobbles out into the living room.
Gabriel is in the kitchen, cursing out the coffee maker in words Dean's probably better off not knowing. There's no coffee actually made and he's got seventeen voice mails.
"You know you can just go buy coffee, right?" He frowns as he eases into his desk chair and digs around for his glasses.
"Buy it?" Gabriel frowns.
"With money, google it."
Dean had said fuck it after the first week of insistent questions and showed Gabe the internet. Which was a terrible mistake for the first few days but the angel had mellowed out.
Twenty minutes later there's a Starbucks cup on his desk that mainly seems to contain whipped cream. Dean figures it's close enough.
It took Dean a week to figure out that Cas could talk. He just didn't. He walked through the house like everything scared him. It was a strange comparison to Gabriel who wouldn't shut up and wanted to know, taste, see, touch everything. Dean wasn't going get in the middle of anything nerdy after living with Sam for so long, so he pretty much just let the angel go.
So Gabriel does whatever he wants, Dean does his fucking job, and Abe sleeps, eats, and gets into shit.
Castiel just walks around the house like a ghost.
Dean lives with this for a month before he corners Gabriel out on the porch.
"So, what's Cas' whole deal?"
"Deal?" Gabriel has been to a hardware store with who knows what money, and is out on the porch attempting something he read on the internet. Dean thinks it's best to not ask questions.
"He doesn't talk. He just stares at me or Abe and crawls into my bed. It's getting kind of creepy, I figured he'd ease up by now." Dean is trying to not fidget.
"It isn't you." Gabriel says without looking up form his various bits of wood and Dean cringes.
Angels are sensitive, they read minds, and Gabriel hates to beat around the bush.
"Well, what the fuck is it then?" Dean asks because two could play that game.
Gabriel gives him the 'I don't wanna tell you' look and Dean counters with the 'It's my fucking house' look and the angel swallows.
"He's-" and then Gabriel says a word that isn't English and Dean has never heard before.
"You know I don't know what that is." Dean rubs his hand over his face because he didn't think it was gonna be this hard. He figured he was gonna get a 'my brother hates Earth' and that was that.
"It's like grieving." Gabriel finally says as he digs through a plastic bag and pointedly doesn't look at Dean.
"It's like grieving? What the hell happened, Gabriel? And don't ask me to ask him."
Gabriel takes a deep breath and glares at Dean. "His mate was killed in battle last year before Abdiel hatched. Most angels don't survive the loss. But Castiel still had Abdiel so..."
"He's going through the motions." Dean finishes.
"I thought he would die if we didn't find Abdiel." Gabriel sighs and for the first time Dean sees just how hard he's been working to hold everything together.
Dean lies in bed that night thinking. He's by himself but he gives it an hour before Abe starts fussing and Castiel hovers in the doorway until Dean yells at him to stop being a creeper and get over here.
It's pretty much the only time Cas pays attention to him. Or to anything that isn't Abe.
Dean remembers how Dad was after Mom died. He remembers how much he hated it. How much it affected the whole family.
The whole flock.
Dean waits until Gabriel is out on the porch puttering around again with his bits of wood to go bother Cas.
Abe is passed out in the playpen in a total sugar coma. Gabriel found some cupcake place that made the things the size of Abe's head and brought back a dozen. Which resulted in pink frosting everywhere. Dean swears Gabe is just as bad as the baby. Next time he's gonna make them put down a tarp in the kitchen.
Cas is sitting on the arm of the couch, peering down at Abe, his hand is dangling in the playpen rubbing his wings. Dean isn't sure how he should play this.
"Hey Cas," he goes for nonchalant and tries to jam any surface thoughts he has far away from where they might be heard.
He takes the wide stare as acknowledgement that he's at least being paid attention to and just lets his mouth run with it. "Gabe said you were an archivist. I am assuming this involves books right?"
Castiel blinks but eventually nods, and to Dean's surprise says something, "That is the most general description."
"Excellent," Dean grins and Castiel has the sense to look worried. "Cause I've got a library but I've haven't been really able to organize it since Abe showed up and I figure if you're not too busy it would really be doing me a favor."
Cas spends the next couple of seconds blinking before he frowns, "You have a library?"
"Yeah," Dean says, snagging the corner of the playpen and wheeling it down the hallway after him so Cas doesn't have a choice to not follow. "I mean it's probably not as big as you're used to..."
Dean opens the door at the end of the hall and steps aside. Okay, he was maybe stretching the truth when he said it was a library. What it actually happened to be was a storage room full of every old ass resource the other Hunters could give him. Books, manuscripts, scrolls, maps.
Dean also was sort of lying when he said he hadn't organized it in a while. Dean had opened the door once before he'd chuckled and never opened it again.
"So," Dean nods, "There's that."
"I could... I mean... I... I can see about doing something." Castiel stammers.
"Awesome, man. Thanks." Dean scurries off before anymore questions are asked.
He really doesn't want to confess that he just wants to keep Cas busy. I mean, it sort of worked for his dad and him.
He's at his desk sorting out the reports Bobby sent him to edit when Gabriel walks in and stops in the middle of the living room, staring at the spot where Cas usually is.
"He's in the back room," Dean says looking over his glasses.
Gabriel gives him a strange look but makes his way down the hall. He can hear them quietly talking. He thinks it's the most Cas had said since he got here.
He's not sure whether he sees Cas more or less after that. He's always in the back room now and Dean can hear the soft noises of paper shifting. Abe's usually in his playpen in the hallway. Positioned so both Dean and Cas can keep an eye on him.
But then come the times where Dean looks up and Cas has quietly gravitated to the edge of his desk. He always has a question about organization or keeping things, like Dean will get upset if he throws some of that shit out. Dean always tells him to do what he thinks is best. Mostly because that's what Dean always wants to hear when he's given a project.
The week goes by easy, the angels are still touchy but Dean's getting kinda used to that. The only thing that happened was Sam called the other day and Gabriel answered the phone. Next thing Dean knows Gabriel's chattering all excited in Enochian because his brother is a giant nerd and has been learning the language from God knows where.
So far all Dean's picking up is the cursing. But he mostly blames that on Gabriel.
He's working up a profile on Incubi when Cas is there holding a wriggling Abe and frowning. It takes Dean a minutes to realize that Cas is both wearing shoes and a coat.
"Are you going somewhere?" He asks because while Gabriel leaves the house all the time, Cas hasn't even gone out on the porch.
Cas gives him this brilliant long suffering look, "I... The library needs shelving and while Gabriel is adept at navigating human offices... I'm not sure he'll... Constrain himself to the task at hand."
"You're making sure he doesn't come back with crap?" Dean translates. "After that squirrel feeder you'd think you'd just let him make all the carpentry decisions."
"An avant garde sculpture filled with peanuts is very different from what I had in mind for the library."
Dean can't help it. It's really not what Cas says but how he says it that gets Dean laughing. He's pretty sure Cas doesn't know what sarcasm is yet but he sure as hell has the tone for it. He's laughing so hard he doesn't see Cas' expression soften as he shifts Abdiel in his arms.
"Okay," Dean's still grinning, "You're gonna go gets some shelves. Do you need me for something?"
Castiel nods but he's still got that look on his face. "We will not be overlong but I... Could you guard Abdiel until we return?"
Dean is a second away from saying something stupid because duh, of course. But then he thinks about it. Cas hasn't left the house in two months. He's also never let Abe out of his sight. Dean's pretty sure that this is a thing. A big thing.
"No problem," Dean says.
He thinks the look Cas gives him as he passes Abe over is the closest thing to a smile the angel knows how to do.
Cas finishes the library a little before spring. Dean only knows this because he comes out of the bedroom one morning and his desk is gone. He goes down the hall to complain but stops behind Abe's playpen.
The library is breathtaking.
It's all blues and dark wood with glass doors in front of the shelves. There's a world map spread above his desk, something yellowed and ancient. A rack of scrolls sits under a window that Dean didn't even know was there. Hell, for all he knows Gabriel put it in.
Castiel is leaning over his desk, which is ridiculously organized, writing notes in a thick notebook that Dean hasn't seen before.
His complaining dies down to an, "Umm..." because, this wasn't exactly what he was expecting.
Castiel straightens and turns. The morning sun makes the edges of the angels dark hair glow and he's in a rumpled white button down and pair of dark slacks. His feet are bare and Dean realizes he's never noticed before just how good Castiel looks.
The angel is frowning at him and shit, he's staring.
"You moved my desk," he blurts and he remembers he used to be better at this talking thing.
"I believed you would appreciate using the dining room for it's intended purpose." Castiel replies way more smoothly than Dean.
"I'd need a table for that," Dean snarks.
"I believe Gabriel is building you one," Castiel turns back to his notebook, "along with several chairs."
So that's what that noise was. Dean scoots around Abe who's curled in a ball under one of Dean's shirts. He's not sure what he's gonna say but he stops behind Cas, looking over his shoulder.
"What are you doing?" Dean asks, because Cas is writing in Enochian. Long flowing script that's forming a pattern Dean doesn't recognize.
"I am keeping busy." Castiel answers making Dean wince.
"Umm, about that..." Dean hopes Cas read his mind because if Gabriel said anything he was gonna kill him.
Castiel turns and Dean realizes just how up in the angels personal space he'd gotten. "Do you honestly believe you're the first person to have tried?"
"Maybe. I don't know." Dean scratches the back of his neck because well, wanting someone to keep busy so they don't lay down and die is one thing but having them know about it is well...
"Awkward," Castiel finishes.
"Do we need to have a conversation about reading my mind?" Dean frowns.
"Will it be as futile as the cuddling conversation?" Castiel crosses his arms over his chest and he so learned that from Dean.
"Are you mad?" Dean asks.
"Do you wish for me to continue?"
Dean swallows, because those blue eyes are looking right at him. He doesn't know what Cas is talking about, continue what? Talking? Working on the library?
"Yes," Dean answers because whatever it is, it's yes.
"Alright," Castiel nods as he turns quietly back to his book leaving Dean wondering what question he just answered.
Dean's getting sick. Not that he's gonna admit that. He's got too much weird shit with Cas going on right now to get sick. He can't afford it. He blames Jo, who came by last week after a drop off at the Home. The filthy germ ridden Home.
He's standing in the kitchen waiting for coffee because coffee makes everything better. Even though he's pretty sure it can't cure the feeling of his sinuses wanting to burst out of his face like a baby alien.
Maybe he's a little bit out of it because the next thing he knows he's being manhandled, okay, gently turned around to face a worried looking Cas.
"You're ill." Castiel frowns and Dean rolls his eyes.
Tries to roll his eyes, "I'm fine."
"I said your name three times." Castiel sighs and tugs Dean a bit to the left.
Dean grumbles and he's pretty sure he's protesting that he's fine and he's gotta answer the phones today and he still has to finish up the reports he got from the eastern hubs... But Cas keeps swaying him and he closes his eyes against the motion, what the hell is the angel doing?
He doesn't figure it out until a firm hand pushes him backwards and he so does not let out the girliest squeak on the planet as he falls onto the bed.
Somehow during all his protesting Cas had walked him into the bedroom and before Dean can really start complaining Cas has pulled off his shoes and flipped the covers over him. He waits until the angel leaves because if he really thinks that's gonna be all it takes to keep him in bed...
Cas comes back thirty seconds later and plops a sleepy Abe in the middle of his chest who blinks and promptly curls up on his chest.
That crafty bastard.
Dean decides after all that he might as well take a nap, but he's definitely gonna bitch when he wakes up.
But when he wakes up Cas has Tylenol, cinnamon tea and oatmeal waiting from him and it's all gooshy with maple syrup like he likes it. So he forgets about bitching.
Cas pulls the same shit on him at dinner when he brings him tomato soup with rice and Dean is silenced by the fact that no one has made him that since his mom. He's also trying to remember when Cas figured out cooking.
He tries not to hyperventilate when he realizes that no one has been answering the phones all day until Gabriel tells him that Cas has been answering the phones.
Dean waits until Abe is asleep to sneak into the library.
After taking one look at Castiel's meticulously noted log of today's calls, Dean can't help but blink as he slides into his desk chair. Of course Cas has this under control. He should have known. But it's been so long since Dean had just let go.
"Dean! Why are you out of bed!"
Dean is not really a nightmare having person. Sure, he's had times in his life that have sucked but usually shit doesn't get this vivid. He's blaming the tail end of this stupid cold. He wakes himself up because he's making this half strangled goat noise and somewhere in the middle of trying to not dry heave at the thought of glassy black eyes he realizes that there are hands on him.
It's dark, and he can hear Abe snoring in his playpen. He thought Cas was still in the library but fingers smooth their way through his hair and bit by bit Dean relaxes into the smell of paper and cotton. He shifts against the weight next to him and hears Cas make a low curious sound. Before Dean knows it he reaches out, tangles his fingers in the T-shirt Cas is wearing and tugs.
Cas comes easily and Dean's surprised when he hears a soft whispering sound and feels smooth warmth slide around him. He's wrapped in wings. Cas' wings. He's never even seen Cas' wings. He spends a long couple of minutes just huddled against Cas until he feels less like shit.
Then Cas speaks low and hushed, "This is a very hypocritical situation to be in for someone as adverse to cuddling as you claim to be."
Dean grins and presses his face into Cas' chest to keep from laughing. "I was trying to tell you that humans don't cuddle unless they know each other really well."
"That is not what you said," and Dean knows what Cas' face looks like right now, even in the dark. "You said that cuddling was 'girly shit'."
He starts laughing when Cas says 'shit'. It turns sort of hysterical after awhile but the angel just holds him and lets him gasp tears into his feathers until he's wrung out.
They lay in the dark until Dean stops reliving the worst night of his life. Castiel is rubbing his back and making these low noises of comfort that seem to slide into Dean, his brain seeming to have a primal sort of recognition of them.
"I'm sorry," Dean mumbles against feathers that he can't bring himself to let go of yet.
Hands come up to slide over his face, fingertips along his cheeks, wiping away tears and the words, "Why? You've done nothing wrong," echo in the dark.
Dean blinks because that's the first time he's ever heard that in any sort of genuine tone. It was always 'you could have handled that better', 'taken care of Sammy more', 'paid more attention'. Why didn't you know Sammy was with a demon? A litany running through his head for the last three years.
"You cannot change the past." Cas whispers as his wings resettle around Dean.
"You'd know," Dean breathes out into the dark.
"Yes." Castiel says and Dean can hear everything unsaid that sits in his stomach like knives.
He shifts his arms and curls them around Castiel's waist.
Things get kind of weird after that. Well, Dean's gonna say weird but that's probably because he doesn't have any good words for change, because change fucks up everything.
Apparently change means Gabriel stops talking to him.
Dean can't figure it out. Gabriel just stares at him now with this look on his face like he can't quite figure out if Dean is worth being around. He was pretty sure they were like friends before that but now... It's gotta be something he did because Gabriel still talks to Cas, scratch that, they start off talking and then end up bitching each other out while Dean hides in the library.
Which is where he's hiding now because he hates fighting, his brother and his dad having used up his patience on that forever ago. He's trying to translate Cas' notes from this ridiculously old dictionary thing that Bobby sent him while Abe sits in his lap playing with a Rubik's cube that Dean found in his desk.
Finally he hears the front door slam and the house falls silent. Abe stares up at him with wide eyes and Dean shakes his head. "I don't know either, man."
Cas comes in a few minutes later and gets to sorting books with a ferocity usually reserved for going after werewolves. Dean turns and leans back in his desk chair, rocking slightly because Abe loves that.
"Is it his time of the month or what?" Dean says before he realizes the amount of explanation that needs to come with that sentence.
"If he were in heat it would be easier," Cas snaps and Dean suddenly has way too many questions about angelic biology.
Dean focuses on the problem at hand, "Then why's he...?"
"Being an assbutt?" Cas says and then frowns. "That lost a lot in translation."
Dean grins and Cas does that half smile he's been doing more often that makes Dean forget whatever the hell he's doing.
"Why's your brother pissed?" Dean asks and watches the smile fade.
"He is, unsure, about decisions I am making."
"Decisions?" Dean prods because he really would love to know what's going on sooner rather than later.
Cas closes his eyes and rests his head against the bookshelf he's kneeling by.
"I like you."
Dean knew it was about him... That's when his brain crashes to a messy halt. Cas likes him and Dean's pretty sure it wasn't I like you as a friend. He knows he's blinking, trying to wrap his head around it because what? Cas had a mate and didn't angels...? What!
"I've upset you," Cas breathes and Abe is looking between them with a tiny frown.
"No!" Dean blurts because shit, "No. I'm not. I'm just... You had a mate, I didn't think angels remarried or dated after..."
Castiel swallows and rolls his shoulder, "We don't. I cannot explain these feelings. Which is why Gabriel is confused."
"So were all confused?" Dean asks and Castiel nods.
"Thank God for that."
Dean's hiding. He can't even pretend that he isn't. He's in the bedroom watching Abe wrestle with Pig and trying to figure out how he can get dinner without anyone seeing him.
He'd debated trying to let Cas down gently but every time the angel so much as looked at him he got all fucking tongue tied like puberty wasn't some fifteen odd years ago. This was not making the tension with Gabriel any easier.
Which meant more fighting between Cas and Gabe.
Which mean Dean hid, which was probably making the whole thing worse.
Sam hadn't helped in the slightest when Dean called him. After the laughing stopped all he did was to just point out that Dean was a grown ass man and if he wanted to date an angel or do whatever he shouldn't run from it.
Which was dumb because running from relationships was what Dean did best. He could go down the list, Cassie, Victor, Lisa, Ash... Fuck. Plus he wasn't sure if he liked Cas or if it was just three years of celibacy telling him that this was an excellent idea. Did angels even have sex?
Dean flops down on the bed which means he's a baby jungle gym now. He lays there for a good five minutes being crawled over until there's a chuckle from the doorway.
A genuine actual laugh.
Dean lifts his head to see Castiel's blue eyes sparkling as Abdiel crawls over Dean's shoulder, sticking one chubby baby foot on Dean's head for balance. Abe squeals when Cas crosses the room and scoops him up.
Cas and Abe rub noses, while Abe laughs that squeaky laugh he's got. That's when Dean knows he's completely lost.
Castiel is the most fucking beautiful thing Dean has ever seen in his life.
He scoots over, makes room for Cas to sit down and he knows Cas can feel everything he's got going on in his head because he's not hiding anything.
"You're confused," Castiel rumbles as they sit, shoulder to shoulder against the headboard with Abe in Cas' lap.
"That's normal." Dean smiles as he drags Pig over and holds it as Abe wraps himself around the stuffed animal. "Do I remind you of him? Is that why..."
Cas' eyes widen and Dean cringes, Sam warned him about being blunt. He's a breath away from apologizing when Cas reaches out and takes his hand.
"Sometimes," Castiel says, "Sometimes not. You're you and... Raziel was Raziel."
This is complicated and Dean doesn't want to mess it up but he's not sure what an angel sees in him at all...
Cas shifts and tilts his head up as his fingers slip up behind Dean's neck to tug him forward. For a moment Dean thinks Cas is going to kiss him but he just rubs their noses together and presses his forehead to Dean's.
There's a sudden strange feeling rippling along Dean's limbs, and a flash...
Dean sees himself how Castiel sees him.
Dean's whistling Boston the next morning. He had a really good night. Slept amazingly, even with a baby on top of him and Cas trying to curl underneath him. His fucking knee doesn't hurt, all his shitty reports are caught up on... Of course he sort of forgets all that the second he comes around the corner and Gabriel is glowering at him from over a mug at the dining room table.
"You communed with my brother."
Dean wonders if this is the part where he gets beat up.
"I guess," he says because Cas didn't call it anything. "I mean, it's not like we had kinky angel sex... Wait, did we have-"
Gabriel cuts him off. "No."
Fuck, he's really gotta start asking more questions about this whole process. Gabriel is still frowning and Dean thinks he's had about enough of this.
He crosses the room and sits down opposite Gabriel, leaning his cane against the table.
"Are we gonna talk about it?" Dean says which is ugh, he's turning into his brother.
"No," Gabriel pouts, like when Abe knows he's gotta put his clothes back on after a bath.
"Why not?" Dean asks, trying to not smile.
"You don't want to," Gabriel says.
"What I want and what I need are usually different things." Dean snaps. "I want to go back to bed. What I need to do is make sure you and Cas stop turning the house into a battleground."
"It's bothering you," Gabriel frowns and he's doing that angel thing where he's looking at Dean but he's not looking at Dean.
"I could leave..." Gabriel starts and Dean tries not to facepalm.
"Dude, that won't make anyone happy."
"You dislike people leaving more than you dislike fighting." Gabriel says with that head tilt that Cas is fond of and Dean wonders if angels in the same flock pick up each other's habits like married couples do.
"Thank you, Dr. Phil." Dean sighs, "Look, I don't want to fuck this up, okay? Any of it, and that means not only this shit I've got going on with Cas but with you too. The flock is more important than that."
"You're human," Gabriel breathes. "You don't understand flock."
"I understand family."
Gabriel flinches but when he looks back up at Dean it's like he's seeing something he missed. Something he hadn't been looking for. "You love him," he whispers.
"Yeah," Dean says, because he does, and he's got to quit trying to call it something less than it is.
Dean hopes Gabriel is gonna work with them on this because he can't lose another family. Gabriel swallows and opens his mouth, but that's when Cas walks in, carrying Abe and they both have that 'why the hell am I up?' glare.
Gabriel chuckles at the same time Dean grins and the tension breaks. Cas and Gabe exchange a look before he slips Abe into Dean's arms and leans over to steal Gabriel's coffee.
Maybe they can do this.