Disclaimer: I don't own anything you'd recognize.
A/N: Forgot about this one. Thought I'd add it here. I originally wrote it 'cause it wouldn't leave me the hell alone while I was trying to work on longer stories. Hope you enjoy! :)
When Castiel suddenly pivoted toward the window, gazing at the downpour outside, Dean's brow arched. The angel had been acting strange all day, startling slightly whenever Dean or Sam approached him and staring off in a way that was just weird, even for Cas. His behavior had become erratic sometime during their latest hunt. Dean and Sam had invited him along, and Dean had demanded that he stay because it wasn't just a coven of witches but they also apparently had a few pet monsters. While Dean loved the opportunity to kill these things (and he definitely tried not to think about the fact that he liked killing things more than saving people anymore), he didn't want to take any chances. Not with Sammy involved. Didn't stop him from giving Castiel a look and bitching him out whenever he offered to take care of the hunt himself.
He didn't want to take chances, but he wasn't about to let the angel steal the entire hunt, either. That would just be boring.
Unfortunately, Cas' estranged behavior had started to grate on Dean's nerves, and had apparently gotten to Sam too. Gigantor had pleaded a need for the library's resources and abandoned Dean to deal with his angel's weirdness alone. The bitch was going to pay for that, later; Dean had only to think of the best way.
He was vacillating between assigning a month of laundry duty or just dying all Sam's clothes whatever shade of pink he could manage when Castiel's sudden movement distracted him. He stared at Castiel, noting the feverish look in his eyes and the flush of color in his face. And Dean, well. He didn't like that, not at all. Refusing to introspect on the reasons why he didn't, he called out in concern, "Cas."
The angel twitched slightly, then turned to face him. "Dean?"
Dean gave him a searching look. "What's going on with you? You're acting all…" He gestured toward the angel with a snap of his wrist. "Weird. Weirder than usual." He shoved the magazine he'd been flipping through away from his lap to stand and squint at his angel. "Are you sick or something?" Did angels even get sick?
Castiel's face tinted an even darker shade of red, and he shifted on his feet. His gaze turned far from Dean's, one hand reaching to touch the back of his neck, an abortive rub that Dean recognized as one of the angel's nervous tics. Instead of answering Dean's question (of course), Castiel flexed his shoulders and said, "I should go." Dean caught him by the sleeve of his trench coat, tugging sharply as though it would have any effect on Castiel's ability to zap off anyway.
"I don't think so, Cas. You're staying right here and you and me are gonna have a little talk about whatever the fuck's goin' on with you 'cause—Cas?"
Castiel's expression was tense, his lips thin and his eyes wild. Dean almost released him, thinking that perhaps he had hurt the angel somehow (and seriously, what a weird thought). Then, Castiel lifted a hand, and Dean was suddenly landing on his ass on the edge of his bed as Castiel croaked, "Shut your eyes!"
The flood of light spilling from between Castiel's eyelids and lips was the last thing Dean saw before he dug his heels into his eyes and waited out whatever-the-fuck just happened.
He held his pose for a long time. His ears buzzed from that sharp, high-pitched ringing din that usually accompanied the unleashing of Cas' mojo, so he could barely hear Castiel when he rasped Dean's name. He felt the light weight of Castiel's hand settle upon his arm, though. He dropped his hands to his lap, and blinked his eyes several times to clear them of the bright colorful splotches there before he lifted his eyes to Castiel.
Whatever Dean was expecting, it certainly hadn't been this. He felt his jaw go slack and his eyes rounded as he stared over Castiel's flushed, sweat-dampened face to the fluttering things over his shoulders.
"Cas? Are those…?"
Castiel nodded, breathless. "My wings," he panted softly. Dean took a moment to stare at them; curled tightly against Castiel's back, they looked inky and gossamer-soft, like a new butterfly's wings. "Every so often, they…force their way onto this plane, when my Grace becomes restless."
"How come I've never seen them before, then?" Dean asks, wondering why he feels annoyed and defensive and isn't worried about the tens of thousands of questions that particular statement just dredged up in his stupid overcurious brain.
Castiel slumps slightly, pouring himself into a nearby chair. His fingers clutch at the arms of the chair as he tries to catch his breath. "It has rarely happened before. When I am too long apart from Heaven…" He drags in a deep breath, releases it in a rolling stutter. "An angel must refresh their Grace in Heaven's light. If they wait too long…"
"Well why the hell didn't you go back, then?" Dean demanded. He didn't even need Castiel's pointed look to remember, he'd asked for Cas to remain with them. "Oh, shit. Cas, we really need to talk about you telling me to fuck off whenever I ask you to do something that's going to hurt you."
"It doesn't hurt," Castiel corrected him. "It is just, I didn't have time. If I had let them unfurl in my true form, you would be blinded and possibly deafened. The best way to avoid that was to…use a physical manifest. It is a strain to maintain these, but I can remain here with you."
And that made sense. But while Dean enjoyed the way Cas said the words with you, he still didn't like that manifesting his wings was draining Cas dry. "We really gotta have a talk about you telling me when you can't do shit. Like, y'know, staying with me when you need to make a mad dash to Heaven to recharge your batteries or otherwise face the exploding wrath of mojo."
Castiel's lips twitched.
They sat in silence for a short time, Castiel fighting to control his breathing while Dean stared at the quivering black wings curled against his back.
"Can I touch them?"
It took Dean a moment to realize that the question had come from him. When he did, his face lit up with embarrassment as he met Castiel's wide, astonished eyes. Castiel's surprise faded, however, and he gave the hunter a very small, shy smile. "Of course, Dean. It would be an honor." Dean hesitated for a moment, then rubbed his palms against his thighs and pushed to his feet. Sensing his embarrassment, Castiel tilted his head forward, closing his eyes as his wings twitched once and then flexed and opened.
Dean stared in something he might have to admit was awe as the wings—they looked more like a raven's wings, now, except prettier with their iridescent sheen, like a black pearl or something, and God he was such a goddamn girl—unfolded and spread as far as they could in the cramped space of the hotel room of the week. He apparently paused too long—Castiel glanced up at him, the wing nearest him curled around Dean without quite touching him.
With a last glance toward the angel, who ducked his gaze again, Dean lifted his hands and buried them in feathers. He sucked in a sharp breath at the same time as Castiel swallowed a gasp. The feathers were strangely some strange combination between smooth and soft, like they were made of down and silk. And strangely, they seemed alive—warm and charged with electricity, almost dancing with it beneath his touch. He carded his fingers through them, pulling his hands from the top arch of Castiel's wing to the secondaries at the lower edges.
Castiel drew in a deep breath, and let it out in an oddly-contented sigh. Dean smirked at the angel, his amusement growing as the angel made a low, rumbling sound deep in his chest. "Dude, you know you're purring, right?"
"Mnnnngh," Castiel responded, startling a laugh out of Dean.
"I guess that feels kinda good, huh?"
Castiel leaned toward him, resting his head against Dean's side. Dean panicked and seized up for a total of 5 and a half seconds, then he shifted one hand from Castiel's wing to let it settle over his nape, gently pressing his fingers there for a brief moment. Castiel sighed again, this time over a soft, "Dean," and that weird purry-vibration kicked back up. Dean smirked and returned both hands to Castiel's wings and continued his ministrations for a time, satisfied when the angel melted against him in utter bliss.
They were both surprised when, with a rustle of soft feathers, the wings shifted, stuttered, and winked out of existence. Dean's hands flexed in the air, and he frowned at Castiel. Castiel's expression of disappointment mirrored his. "My Grace has settled. The wings…put themselves away." He started as though realizing his continued proximity might make Dean uncomfortable, and shifted to pull away.
And that? Yeah, Dean didn't like that at all either. He caught the angel by the elbow and pulled him across the room to sit on the bed with Dean. At the questioning look Castiel shot him, Dean grinned. "Sammy won't be coming back for awhile yet. And if you think that wing-rubbing was nice, wait 'til you see the kind of shoulder rubs I give."
Castiel blinked at him. Then smiled hesitantly, nodding his head in assent. Dean reached eagerly to shove the trench coat and blazer off Castiel's shoulders. He wondered how long he'd have to wait to touch the wings again. More importantly, he wondered how to get Castiel to make that utterly wrecked noise again.
He could get creative.