Universe: Supernatural/X-men fusion
Character/Pairing/s: light DeanxCas. Sam and Bobby and a bunch of other people are there too.
Spoilers/Warnings: Crack. Schmoop. IDEK.
Word Count: 7,975(22)
Summary: The story of Maelstrom and Skycrawler. (Or the one where Dean is Storm and Cas is Nightcrawler and I am dumber than ever.)
Dedication: So this is the Marvel version in the tradition of "World's Finest" as commissioned by arakune88 like uh, four months ago? SOB sorry it took so long and I hope this is okay; my knowledge of X-men canon is shoddy at best, so I went more in the SPN way of things when I could. Special thanks to mclachlan and hils for looking over this and offering help. Trust me, it was way worse than this when they got it LOL.
A/N: UH. *shrugs* I don't know either. The heroes of my heart were always the DC ones I guess. Though Bobby's wheelchair suddenly became way convenient. XD
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.
Dean isn't exactly sure what the point of Bobby and Rufus's ideological feud is if, every time they see each other on opposite sides of the battlefield, they only end up working together in the end, or reminiscing about old times, or threatening each other with fancy words and never quite following through with those threats afterward, despite the numerous opportunities that might arise for either of them to destroy the other at any one given time.
But that is the nature of this battle, or whatever, and one day, after a fight where he'd nearly had his guts squeezed out by Rufus, Dean tries asking Ellen about why the grumpy old men are like that, because they'd obviously been BFFs once upon a time. But she just looks at him for a second, and then smacks him upside the head and doesn't say a word about anything except to call him an idiot in the Bobby-style, emphasis on the J and the hitting.
When he gets back to the scrap yard after that Bobby rolls up to him in his rickety old wheelchair, squints at him sideways, and then makes Dean lean forward so he can properly thwap him over the head with his grungy baseball cap, in much the same manner Ellen had. "Don't go around bothering her with old news," he says quite firmly, and Dean is taken aback enough by the older mutant's tone that he forgets to complain about Bobby reading his mind without permission first.
Just because Sam does it all the time doesn't mean it's okay for all the freaking telepaths in this shit hole school to just go for it at their leisure.
When he walks into the room he shares with Sam a little while after that, his stupid nerdy brother just looks at him knowingly, like he's already had an entire conversation about Dean's nosiness and how inappropriate it is with Bobby while Dean had been busy trekking upstairs.
"Not a word," Dean tells Sam darkly, and accidentally (or not) makes a bolt of lightning flash outside the windows, echoed by a rumble of thunder preciously close to the grounds.
"Jerk," Sam declares, after he's done wincing and squirming like a little girl about the threat of bad weather.
Satisfied with that, Dean grabs a towel and his pajamas in the hopes of fitting in a nice long shower before bed, in order to wash off the dirt and aches from today's fiasco. He's pretty sure he's going to have bruises in the shape of the steel bars Rufus had wrapped around him earlier, so that he and his band of creeper mutants could escape after their failed assassination attempt on Senator Crowley at his reelection fundraiser that afternoon. Half the time Dean is hoping Rufus and co. will end up managing to temporarily incapacitate everyone from the Singer Salvage team, just long enough to off the creepy little senator, but in the end, he always ends up fighting tooth and nail for the asshole to survive anyway. Sometimes he's pretty sure Bobby wouldn't mind seeing the guy dead too, but seeing as he'd helped them in the past once, and seeing as to how it's good for mutant/human (demon, as far as Dean is concerned) relations, they've somehow become the little bastard's personal bodyguard core when he needs it. Which is often, because while he's all for letting the mutants live amongst the populace freely, he's also all for having them registered like sex offenders so people know all about them wherever they go. Take into account his whole spiel of separate schools and separate everything and Rufus clearly takes offense to the guy's ideology. Dean doesn't really blame Rufus for that at least, especially given the guy's history, how his parents had been arrested and later killed for the crimes of protesting racial equality 40 years prior.
Either way, Bobby and Rufus have issues. Dean kind of wants to know what they are beyond them being old friends because old friends don't usually create teams of super powered mutants and have them face off in deadly battle every other Thursday just for shits and giggles. Dean knows Bobby is an old telepathic sadist, but not so sadistic that he'd actually enjoy the shenanigans they have to put up with on a weekly basis.
Sam says it's like republicans and democrats more so than actual war. There's vying for power and position and influence for clashing ideals but in the end they don't really want anyone to die. Well, at least, the democrats don't. "Sometimes it's a toss up with the republicans," he admits, and Dean believes him, because his baby brother can read minds.
Well, whatever. He's not part of the nerd brigade. Dean decides that after his failed attempts at digging up information today, he should just concentrate on the here and now instead, tucking his towel under his arm and trudging down the hall towards the upstairs bathroom. On the way, he nearly knocks Jo over as she phases through a wall in the hallway to his immediate left because she's too damn lazy to go to the other side of her room where the door is (freaking teenagers) while Ruby and Jess bicker on the landing for who gets to fly the jet next (Dean knows it's really about who gets to date Sam). When Dean walks by them he thinks he can see Jess holding back the overwhelming desire to hit Ruby with those freaky little eye lasers of hers, one, because it would damage the house and two, because part of her knows they won't really hurt Ruby, because Ruby is effing indestructible and has a tremendous advantage in a girl fight with those ridiculous claws of hers.
Dean is secretly glad that Sam likes Jess best of the two, even though she's sometimes too all-American hero wholesome for his tastes. At least she's not an evil little midget like Ruby.
Distracted, Dean gets to the bathroom door just a second too late, as Ash slips his furry frame through the opening in Dean's guard and slams the door closed right in Dean's face. "Dude!" Dean protests, glaring at the door like his anger will somehow fix the fact that he just got shower jacked.
"Nachos aren't sitting well, dude!" Ash calls out by way of apology, and Dean sometimes forgets that this is the genius who designed their freaking jet and their freaking bullet proof super lightweight body suits, because at least once a week this is the same idiot who goes out to that cheap Mexican food truck parked on the corner of Main St. and 1st and eats himself sick on carne asada nachos every time.
"Ash I swear to god if you take more than fifteen minutes I'm killing you with lightning while you're on the can," Dean vows darkly, and slings his towel and his clothes over his shoulder to wait.
"Dude, it's a pure liquid slide," Ash groans from the bathroom, "No resistance at all, man."
Dean makes a face when he hears a wet splash and decides that maybe he can afford to go downstairs and see if the second bathroom is free (though likely not, because Bella likes that one best, and she always threatens to touch any sucker who tries to use it into unconsciousness if they mess with her stuff or stink it up).
He's pretty sure he doesn't need to be within touching range of her to sweep that bitch up into a tornado and send her to Oz long enough for a decent shower though.
Sometimes he thinks Bobby's scrap yard is too damn crowded.
Castiel is aware that there is a war going on in the world and that he is a part of it, no matter how thoroughly he might try to remove himself from the secular realm and concentrate on doing the Lord's work here in the monastery. It is what his brothers have solemnly prescribed as the best course of action for someone in his circumstances.
"This," Brother Zachariah always says when Castiel is before him, "is the only place where you will be accepted, Castiel. The rest of the world will only look upon you with horror. But as long as you serve here, we cannot judge you as they do. As long as you honor your vows, you are one of us."
And it is true, to a degree. Here, the other monks do not outwardly treat him any differently than they treat one another in the context of their brotherhood in service to God, but even as Castiel understands that they grant him a measure of mercy by allowing him to live amongst them as if he were nothing more than another human being, at the same time, he cannot simply ignore the great, blue-black wings resting at his back that signal quite loudly that he is not human.
Not one of them, no matter how he might play act at it in obedience to their orders.
To him, his wings are physical proof that he is an affront to man and to the Lord. That he is being punished for something, though he is unsure of what.
Back when Castiel had been younger, he had foolishly enjoyed the gift of flight—and his many others— had reveled in being able to close his eyes and spread his wings and in one instant, be halfway across the globe as if he had just appeared there, out of nowhere. It wasn't until he had been taken here by his stepmother after that incident with Anna that Castiel had learned the true nature behind his wings and his powers. Brother Zachariah had told him that as pretty as they are, his wings are instruments of evil. God had burdened him with these unsightly growths as he had burdened all men in this world with something ugly and unnatural, either inside or out. "It is a test from their Lord," Brother Zachariah had explained to a wide-eyed Castiel. "And to pass this test, you must learn to force back the unnatural urges that Lucifer temps you with and conform to the Will of God instead. Or risk burning an eternal torment in hell after this earthly life had passed."
"You do not wish to exchange the eternity of your mortal soul for a few measly years of delight on Earth, do you, Castiel?" Brother Zachariah had questioned afterward, very reasonably. Castiel had quickly shaken his head, and from that moment on, Castiel feared for his very soul and prayed forgiveness under the lash of the monks' penitence. From his entrance into the high walls of the monastery, Castiel promised them he would not fly again.
Dean is pretty sure he's going to die, and that these fucking idiots he'd thought needed saving are going to be the last faces on earth he sees, their stupid video camera pointed right in his face as they jeer at him through the glass in a way that means they're confident he won't get out, that they've contained him and can thus televise his execution in real time as proof that humans are superior and that the mutant blight needs to be wiped from the face of the earth through concerted efforts such as this one.
He looks around their strange guerrilla compound, at the lead lined walls that mean Sammy or Bobby can't find him, at the miles of earth keeping him tightly bound underground, at the tank he is tied down in, as it slowly fills higher and higher with dirty water around him. The only way to use his powers in this airtight chamber would be to create a tornado that is more likely to drown or asphyxiate him than help him bust through what looks like several layers of bulletproof plexi-glass.
In the meantime, the fucking guerrillas wave and laugh and celebrate a victory well-planned as they livestream Dean's secret underground execution to millions of followers or sympathizers around the world.
It's moments like these when Dean can almost see why Rufus is fighting the way he's fighting. Almost.
The water hits his chin a second later, and even as he tries to stand on his toes to give himself just that much more time, the last thing he finds himself thinking is that he hopes his brother doesn't go on a murderous telepathic rage the minute they manage to find his dead, drowned-rat body.
Castiel is walking through the streets with Brother Joshua, helping to buy necessary supplies for the monastery at the village market when he stops in front of the small mountain town's only tavern; the open door shows him a collection of shepherds and merchants gathered for the midday meal around the old, rickety television.
The sight on the screen that greets Castiel is of a man in deep distress, struggling in a tank of water as it fills higher and higher. The news reports it as a livestream of a mutant execution from America, and Castiel nearly drops the bags of flour he had offered to help Brother Joshua carry from market today at the sight of the resignation in those tired green eyes, the quiet sadness that mars otherwise perfectly handsome, perfectly normal features.
Before Castiel knows what he is doing, his wings are tearing through the old habit he is wearing and the sound of rushing air that follows is loud enough, for a moment, to distract the men in the tavern from the execution on the television screen.
But when they turn around to see what all the commotion is, all that is left behind are two bags of broken flour and one inky-black feather, floating serenely to the ground.
Dean isn't sure if he's seeing things or if he's suddenly finding out that he believes in all the things he thought he'd stopped believing in when his mom and dad had died, but as the water fills up past the top of his head and he's preparing to drift off into what can't be a very pleasant demise, he thinks he hears a whoosh of air around him even under the water, followed by the surprised murmurs of the formerly jeering people outside. It's enough to make him open his eyes for a moment, and to see what he thinks might actually be an angel of death reaching out for him with eyes full of mercy.
Dean forgets himself for a moment and opens his mouth in surprise, only to take in a lung full of water as he feels the angel's hand descend on his shoulder and squeeze, almost uncomfortably tight.
And then everything becomes a blur.
Dean wakes up in the middle of a field with a circle of downed trees all around him. The sun is shining brightly on his face and there's enough of a wind in the air to remind him that his clothes are soaked and that he's apparently dead.
He'd thought heaven would be a little… nicer, really.
Unless this is hell, in which case it's not as bad as he'd imagined either, and as such, he probably can't complain.
So he just sits up, rubbing his head and coughing a little, his stomach feeling bloated from water and his lungs a little raw and wet inside. He wonders where the hell he is.
"White Russia," a gravelly voice informs him, and makes Dean jump about a foot in the air in surprise as he whirls around, only to see that angel of death from before sitting behind him, knees tucked up against his chest and eyes contemplative.
"Am I dead?" Dean demands, when he can get enough air in his lungs to work his voice again.
The angel looks puzzled as he sits there, shirtless and also uncomfortably wet. "Of course not."
Dean blinks. "Uh, I'm pretty sure that's where I was headed last time I checked."
A frown. "You are alive. I do not know how to prove this to you except that being alive should be its own proof."
Dean frowns back, because he's pretty sure angels aren't supposed to be smartasses, and he's not sure if this one is trying to be or not. He seems pretty sincere. "Uh. Okay then. Wanna tell me what happened, then? Because I was about a second away from drowning, man."
The angel cocks his head to the side slightly, big blue eyes studying Dean like he's the weird one here. "I gripped you tight and raised you from…the water," he admits, and something at his back twitches slightly at the mention, causing Dean's attention to finally turn to those big blue-black wings as the sunlight spills over them, making them reflect all the colors of the rainbow like the oil slicks in Bobby's junkyard. He swallows, and manages somehow to keep himself from reaching out to try and touch one of the soft-looking feathers. "You're a mutant," he realizes, after a moment of uncomfortable staring between the two of them.
"Yes," the angel answers, sounding sad somehow. "I am Castiel."
Dean nods and has no idea why the guy seems so forlorn about that, because his wings are kind of awesome. Dean sticks his hand out to Castiel. "Dean," he says, and Castiel hesitantly reaches out to clasp the preferred limb in between both of his, like he isn't sure what to do with it, exactly.
Eventually, Dean coughs and pulls his hand out of Castiel's. "So," he says, looking around them at the fallen trees and what seems to be a few curious deer. "You think you can get me home?"
When Dean and a weird guy with blue eyes and black wings suddenly appear in the middle of Bobby's living room where a devastated Sam is being talked down from mind-raping the entire world's population in order to look for his brother, the scrap yard is thrown into what can only be deemed utter chaos.
Mostly because surprising a bunch of super powered people who very recently saw something very traumatic happen to one of their own causes them to go off on a hair trigger, and when the fluttering arrival of the strange winged-man startles them out of their arguments for or against the mind-rape solution, several things happen. The tip of one wing knocks Jess's glasses off her face and startled, she lets loose an optic blast that hits the ceiling, goes through the wood, and causes a yelp from upstairs. Before anyone knows what's happening, Jo is falling through the ceiling as a result of her being startled from Jess's eye-canons. She almost lands on top of Ruby, who only manages to dodge by shoving Bella out of the way and into Ash, who promptly shouts and passes out when Bella's cheek lands on his bare, fuzzy shoulder.
Which leaves a teary-eyed Sam standing next to Bobby's wheelchair, the two of them staring at Dean, the newcomer, and the chaos of the rest of their team lying in a mess all around them.
"Dude," Dean says to Cas, looking vaguely impressed. "You really know how to make an entrance."
Castiel knows he cannot return to the monastery, not when, in a sudden, overwhelming rush of feeling, he had broken the vows he had solemnly made to Brother Zachariah all those years ago when he disappeared from his duties and his promises to rush to this man's—to Dean's— aid. He does not think the brothers—or God—will forgive him a second time.
Across from him at the crowded dinner table, Castiel can feel all eyes on him—some surreptitiously, some openly— the group studying the newcomer wonderingly, cautiously. It is not so different from his childhood n that way, with Anna's enthusiastic curiosity at his mutations or his adoptive mother's quiet, fearful looks at him and her murmured warnings not to draw attention to himself.
It is also no different from the quiet, sideways looks some of the other monks would give him when they thought he was not looking.
He stares forlornly at his plate. Dean frowns and scoops another helping of chili onto the pile that is already alarmingly high.
"Dude, eat up. Flying halfway around the world to find me must have worked up an appetite."
Castiel shakes his head. "It took very little time," he assures Dean, which makes everyone stop eating for a moment.
"How, er, if you don't mind me asking," Sam begins, putting down his fork, "and not that I'm not grateful, but…how did you find him?"
Everyone continues to look at him, while Castiel turns to Dean for some help, because he is as uncertain about how he had managed to hurl himself to exactly where he needed to be as the rest of them apparently are.
Dean seems to sense his anxiety over the situation and turns to his brother with a snort. "Seriously, Sammy, can't a guy have his dinner in peace? No talking shop at the table after I spent the last few hours making this chili for you assholes."
Sam looks properly chastised and quickly picks up his fork again. "Right. You're right. Sorry, Castiel."
Castiel nods back to show that he takes no offense by Sam's curiosity and slowly loosens he grip on his fork. Dean smiles at him, reassuringly, and gives Castiel more cornbread to attempt to eat with his ridiculous mountain of chili.
Everyone else's curiosity seems appeased for the moment at Dean's insistence, and from there dinner resumes in what Castiel can only assume is the usual manner for the inhabitants of Bobby's scrap yard school.
Later, Dean will tell him it's a zoo most nights, and a barnyard for the rest, and that dinner had actually been a pretty tame affair on account of Cas being their guest. The warmth in his tone as he tells Castiel this will make him feel strangely homesick. Not for the monastery, but for the little cottage in the mountains where he and Anna and Balthazar and their mother had been a family until Castiel's deformities had become too much for any of them to handle.
"Boy doesn't even know the extent of his own abilities," Bobby diagnoses some weeks later, when Dean has convinced Cas to stay, when he's gotten past the initial gratitude of having his ass saved and moved on to intrigue and maybe even towards friendship with the guy.
"Who, Cas?" Dean asks around a mouthful of bacon. "Well, he can like, teleport anywhere in the world in like a second. He knows that. Right?"
Bobby scowls. "We still can't figure out how he managed to find you from halfway across the world when none of the rest of us could. Mind-readers included."
Dean shrugs, because the most he's gotten out of Cas about it is that Cas could see his soul or something, and that it had shone very brightly even through the television. Dean doesn't know what any of that means and apparently neither does Cas, because he can't always see it. "It was just in that moment, Dean," Castiel will say mysteriously.
Dean seems to remember Cas reading his mind in the forest immediately afterwards too, but Cas insists that it is not something he has ever been able to do. "The extent of my knowledge regarding my abilities is flight and a slightly accelerated healing factor, Dean."
Bobby has been working with the guy during his free time to try and figure out if there's anything else they're missing, but Cas finds the tests troublesome and doesn't like talking about himself to anyone, let alone a gruff old cur like Bobby. So far all they do know is what everyone else already knows: Can can go anywhere, Cas is hard to kill, and Bobby and Sam can't read Cas's mind even when he tries to let them.
"Just give the guy a break," Dean suggests, still scarfing breakfast carelessly in Bobby's presence. "If there's something more, it'll show itself eventually, right? Like the telekinesis did with Sam?"
Bobby just eyes him and after a minute snorts. "So long as they don't manifest with the same awful timing as they did with that idjit brother of yours, I guess," he acquiesces gruffly. "In the meantime, you brought him here, so for now, he's your responsibility."
Dean blinks. "Does that mean I don't have to keep Ruby and Jess in line anymore? Because I will take that freaking trade right now."
Bobby wheels off without answering.
Dean finishes his bacon and then goes to toast a bagel for Cas, who should be back from his uniform fitting with Ash soon.
Cas, Dean notes, is kind of shy about his wings. He doesn't like people looking at them, or touching them, and that's fair, he guesses, in its own way. He kind of thinks they're awesome though, so when he asks Cas why he always folds them in so tightly, like he's afraid of them, Cas just gives him this wounded bird look with his eyes and says that they are the weight of his abomination or some shit like that. The guy thinks that God is punishing him for being born the way he is, and that since he strayed from the path he has given up rights on his eternal soul. It all sounds so rehearsed, so blatantly targeted, that Dean would bet his little brother and the car that some jerkbag has been feeding this garbage to Cas since he was knee high to keep him in control and now the poor guy just can't get over it.
Sam tells him that balking and saying outright that Cas is wrong isn't the way to handle this kind of thing though, so Dean holds back the retorts he wants to make whenever Cas talks about his wings that way and just says, "I don't know man, would God punish someone by making them look like an angel?"
Castiel frowns at him like that's hardly the point, but he doesn't say any more depressing shit afterwards, which Dean takes as a sign that they should go to the kitchen and get some ice cream. Apparently Cas has never had any of it, ever, which is a freaking crime. Which had lead to Dean to stock up the freezer with every strange and interesting Ben and Jerry's flavor their local supermarket had the following morning, because like Bobby said, Cas is his responsibility, and Dean has always taken his responsibilities very seriously.
They start with pistachio and end with pistachio again, after going through sixteen flavors and finding out that Cas liked the first one best after all.
A few weeks after Cas saves Dean's bacon, the members of Bobby's team have a little surprise get together that involves pie and pizza and Bobby making an awkward speech about how Cas is welcome to stay and that he's been a big help to them not only as a member of the team but as a teacher at the school, because while Ash and Sam are both geniuses in their own rights, the fact of the matter is, Cas actually speaks like, ten different languages and read classical literature in his spare time growing up, so kids like Ben and Claire will actually know that Othello is more than a board game when they get out of here.
Awkward speech is awkward and Cas looks both touched and confused by the ceremony behind it all, up until the moment Dean sort of cuts a swath through the gathered students and faculty holding the custom flight suit Ash put together for Cas, with it's special zippers and flaps and bells and whistles that mean Cas can wear it and fly and look awesome all at once.
"So," Dean says, in his best Maelstrom tone of voice. "Welcome to the team, Skycrawler."
Cas looks happy enough that he might cry.
Thank god he doesn't though, and just receives the suit with a small, pleased smile and a barely audible, "Thank you, Dean. Thank you all."
Dean gives the guy a moment to collect himself by turning to everyone else and telling them to freaking go eat the pizza before it gets cold.
Considering how many kids under 20 are in the house, no one needs to be told twice.
For a while Senator Crowley is Rufus's main target because of his outspoken views on human and mutant relations, but as things go, there is bad and then there is worse, and after Crowley announces his bid for presidency half a year after Cas joins them, the political climate around the issue sort of catches fire and spreads like a disease. Crowley's most popular opponent is wildly vocal about government being for people and not mutants and rallies what analysts now have to call the "human vote" by fear mongering and slamming Crowley's stance on the mutant menace as "soft" and "not within the nation's best interest."
On the one hand, Rufus and his team stop going after Crowley long enough that Dean and the rest of the team end up going on assassination watch for Senator Walker instead, standing in the crowds of people holding up hateful signs and chanting hateful slogans to make sure the guy inciting them doesn't get struck down dead in the middle of it all and in so doing, prove himself completely right.
Walker treats Dean and Sam like dogs and Cas like a monster, and Dean never thought in his whole life that there could be a person out there skeevier and more irritating than Senator Crowley.
Fucking politics, man.
When Dean finds out that Cas's favorite thing in the world is a sunny day, the area immediately surrounding the scrap yard ends up experiencing one of its most temperate winters in history.
Sure, their lives are constantly a battle, but Dean thinks a reminder of why they do it every once in a while—the right to live, the right to be left alone, the right to enjoy a sunny day without being harassed—is enough to give them a reason to keep doing it, even if it is fucking tiring.
The look on Cas's face when he walks barefoot into the warm sunshine of a late December morning is a reason unto itself.
"What the hell was that?" Dean rages after they return from a fight with Meg that nearly rips Cas apart in the sky because the idiot is too busy paying attention to Dean fighting with Allistair over the water to pay heed to her. "I told you I had it, Cas."
Castiel frowns, because even though one wing is cut deeply and hanging kind of limply at his side, he doesn't look like he's in pain so much as annoyance with Dean. "I know you do not like the water," he says simply. "These injuries will heal."
Dean scowls. "Not the point, dude. When we're out there, you have to focus."
"I was focused," Cas argues simply, in that infuriating way of his. It makes Sam snort in the background, which reminds Dean that his brother is here—that everyone is here—staring at the two of them as they argue in the middle of the front lawn and lighting crackles in the distance. "You were in the water," he repeats, like that somehow justifies the fact that he'd abandoned his support position the minute Dean had gotten a little wet.
This time Ruby smirks and says something to Bela that has them both giggling in the background and Dean feels his ears get red because he suspects he knows the nature of the comment. He tells himself the turning red thing is out of anger.
"Dude," he says to Cas, lowering his voice slightly. "I can handle myself."
"I felt the panic in your soul. I saw it," Cas answers evenly. "You are always saying that we are a team, and that we are meant to aid one another. You certainly do so for Sam."
"On snap," Ruby declares, earning an elbow in the ribs from Jess, who frowns disapprovingly at the brunette. Ruby elbows her back, more forcefully.
"He does kind of have you there, Dean," Jo chimes in, because if anyone tries to elbow her she can phase through the strike. Jess doesn't even try.
Dean feels his face go red as he glares at everyone and growls at Cas, "Inside. Now."
Castiel nods and Dean pushes them both into the house without another word, instead leaving a rumbling of thunder in the distance to dare anyone to follow them for the next ten minutes. Sam suggests—very helpfully— that they all go to the hangar and do a post-mission inspection on the plane, which Jess echoes cheerfully but makes everyone else groan.
Before they head off, Dean hears his brother's voice in his head, telling him, "Go easy, man. He tried his best."
Dean thinks some uncharitable things back at his brother for invading his mind before shutting down and turning to Cas, who is standing in front of the couch looking like he doesn't understand Dean at all.
Dean sighs and remembers the twitching, bloodied left-wing on Cas's shoulder and takes a deep breath before going to the storage closet for the first aid kit. They know by now that Cas will be healed up in the morning after some rest, but Dean doesn't see why they can't ease some of the discomfort for the time being. Dude heals fast but he still feels pain.
When he comes back with the kit in hands, he gestures for Cas to sit on the couch. The other mutant silently obeys, and Dean plops down next to him, looking at the wing contemplatively.
Cas is always twitchy about people touching them; every time it's happened it's been by accident and the recoil of the feathers and soft gasp of surprise is always quick enough and loud enough that whoever trespassed on Cas's person is instantly sorry for it. Dean, right now, doesn't care. He looks at Cas, then gestures to the injured appendage. "Gimme the wing."
Cas looks dubious. "It will heal on its own, Dean."
"Give me the freaking wing," Dean barks again, in the same tone he used to use with Sammy when his brother was ten and didn't want to go to bed early or eat his vegetables.
Cas seems to study Dean for a moment, and eventually sighs and stretches the injured appendage towards Dean's hand.
Dean takes a deep breath before clasping it firmly but gently in his fingers, the inky, smooth feathers brushing against his skin in an entirely pleasant way. Cas seems to shudder a little on the contact, and Dean swallows before popping open the kit and finding the disinfectant. He gets to work.
Eventually some of the awkward tension drains out of Cas and he relaxes the joint of his wing enough that it's mostly stretched out over the couch and on Dean's lap. Dean takes his time cleaning the dirt and grit out of the slashes Meg had ripped into the flesh when Cas had taken his eyes off the bitch long enough to worry about Dean getting tossed into the ocean by one of Allistair's henchmen. Cas had thrown himself in the water after that, disappearing from Meg's reach long enough to pull Dean back onto the boat, before the injuries she'd inflicted on him had crippled his flight and he'd been—for a terrifying moment—on the deck of the boat beside Dean, completely at Allistair's mercy. Dean had managed to ignore the water in his lungs and hit Allistair with a twister before the sadistic freak had stuck his hands into Cas all the way though flesh, tossing the asshole off the ship while Jess shot Meg out of the sky like a hero.
They'd managed to keep the shipment of pharmaceuticals safe at the end of the day after that, mostly because Sam brain-concussed the potential hijackers into temporary comas.
Cas had spent the moments afterwards bleeding all over himself and asking Dean if he was well.
Dean wishes Cas would stop worrying about him and worry about himself a little more. Just because he almost heals as fast as Ruby does doesn't mean he should be taking chances with it.
Eventually, when he finishes cleaning the injuries and goes for a light bandage, most of the disbelieving anger he'd been feeling earlier has dissipated into a sort of thoughtful resignation. "All done," he grunts, though he doesn't take his hands off of the smooth black feathers right away.
Castiel nods. "Thank you, Dean."
"Yeah." Dean finally releases the wing in order to run a hand through his hair. "Thank you too, you know. For pulling me out of the water." Because it's true, he doesn't really like it, not since, well, ever, but especially not after the tank. "But," he corrects, standing abruptly, before Castiel can say anything else, "You really need to work on your combat training if Meg can get the drop on you like that."
Castiel nods solemnly from the couch and tucks his wing back against his side, though, Dean notes, not as tightly as he might have before. "I will."
Cas gets stupidly good at being a sneaky fighter after that. Dean doesn't know how it happens except that Cas has found that the harder he concentrates, the more "souls" he can see, ones that aren't just Dean's or that aren't as bright as Dean's. "But I can find them and hear them, as I did yours," Castiel reports, standing triumphantly over the unconscious bodies of several of their opponents when Dean and Sam find him.
Everyone else is impressed; Dean is just kind of angry that Cas took on five guys on his own without waiting for backup.
Ten months into the campaign trail, after all the near misses that come with trying to brokerage the survival of every candidate involved, Senator Walker is outed as a mutant by one of the volunteer clerks working in his campaign office. Liberal news analysts conclude that it was a very typical sense of self-loathing that prompted Gordon to behave as he has been, reminiscent of several gay Republican congress members voting emphatically against gay rights bills and then being outed some time later.
The conservative news analysts decry Gordon's bid for the presidency as a sneaky, underhanded attempt by the mutant blight to infiltrate the highest level of politics in order to forward their own interests.
In either case, no one wins except for maybe Crowley, whose poll numbers hold steady while Gordon's plunge enough to make him a nonentity.
Bobby concludes that Rufus is beginning to look more and more prophetic about his decision to treat all humans like they're idiots.
Castiel sometimes misses the peaceful simplicity of the monastery, misses how everything was absolute and clear and laid out for them there. It had only been a matter of doing as one was told in that place. Choice is a difficult and troublesome option to have thrust upon you suddenly, when before there had been no such thing. It is accompanied by noise and conflict and the missions of questionable morality that Bobby occasionally sends them on, and serves to complicate the way Castiel sees the world, as well as how he may fit in it.
The monastery had been stark and solid, had been black and white in what should and should not be done. No one called him a traitor to his kind or a dog of the humans there. No one had argued passionately that he leave Dean's side and rejoin the right cause. No one had gotten angry with him when he used the word "abomination" because at the monastery, it had simply been fact, whereas in this place it is a matter of semantics.
No one at the monastery had asked him what he wanted.
Life there had been peaceful and quiet. Easy.
But no one at the monastery had ever bought him ice cream, or touched his wings, or called him "Cas" and laughed at him as if he were something wondrous and pleasing.
Life at the monastery had also been boring. Suffocating. Lonely.
This feeling of warmth, Castiel is begging to realize, as Dean casually slings an arm over his shoulder while telling Sam about his and Castiel's earlier adventures recruiting one of Bobby's new mutants from a brothel, must be why people choose such complicated for themselves lives in the end.
Life may have been simpler at the monastery, but life there had not included Dean.
In the end, Castiel supposes the tradeoff is more than adequate.
With the November elections the following year, Crowley becomes president, Rufus and Bobby never get past that will they or won't they stage in their relationship, and Sam dies and comes back twice sometime in the interim. Cas says he's like a phoenix, Rufus says he's like a cockroach, and Dean is too damned grateful each time to care. Sam's slightly evil the second time around though, at least until Jess manages to knock some sense into him and keep him from destroying an entire world because of his latent and inexplicable rage.
Cas insists Dean go flying with him two days after they are done with all that chaos. Dean can't poop for a week after the trip.
He doesn't complain though, because Cas takes him to the grand canyon and looks so happy just hovering above the depths of the abyss that Dean doesn't want to ruin it by screaming.
Sam and Cas somehow grow to be great pals. Dean can tell that Sam hates that he can't read Cas's mind sometimes though, because Cas is obtuse and enigmatic and sometimes even nerdier than Sam. Dean laughs at his brother in those frustrated moments and says Cas is the simplest person to read in the world.
Sam gives him telling looks whenever he says this, which Dean has no idea about, because he's not the mind reader in the family. Cas smiles in that way that crinkles his eyes in the corner as he laughs at the two of them while they bicker and it's in those moments when Dean thinks the world is perfect as it is, no tampering needed.
In the meantime, Crowley appeases some of his swing voters by signing into law a bum deal that involves all mutants to be given a number and a file in the White House. They even put together a special agency consisting of Seals and Rangers with specialized equipment that is meant to specifically target dangerous mutants and put them down before they become a public threat.
It naturally gets Rufus's goat—it gets everyone at Singer Salvage's too— but Bobby says at least it's not as harsh a policy as the opposing party's had been, which had basically been a plan to just lock up all the mutants and throw away the key. "These things gotta be won in steps," is what the old man says grimly, while Sam nods in agreement and Dean bites the inside of his cheek and wordlessly hands out the special Mutant ID cards that all the students now have to carry with them by law.
Cas tells Dean, completely inappropriately, that he looks nice in the picture on his card.
Dean is so flabbergasted by how out of nowhere the statement is that he forgets to be angry for a little bit afterwards.
The humans are a lot more thankful for the mutant blight being free and roaming the streets when the freaky space alien, shape shifting monsters straight out of some low budget science fiction movie start to attack.
Dean fights for the sake of the world after the Skrull armies fucking start spilling into the streets, intent on wiping out humans and mutants alike in their quest to take over the earth, and afterwards, after they've won and Cas is no longer being held in the fuckers' hypnotic sway to do their bidding, Crowley uses the political momentum of mutant heroism to dissolve the whole ID card thing, as well as the registry.
He smiles, sips his wine in the White House, and tells Dean, "You can't tell me this wasn't worth your little boyfriend going MIA for a measly few months, can you, Maelstrom?"
"He's not my boyfriend, ass monkey," Dean grits out and wants to punch him for how blasé he's being about the whole thing, but before he can undo all the goodwill he and the rest of the team managed to curry by attacking the President of the United States in the middle of their big "Saved the World" celebration, Cas tilts his head, totally hurt, and asks, "Dean, are we not friends?"
Dean spends the rest of the party explaining the difference between boyfriend and guy friend to Cas while Crowley eyes him over his wine glass and looks like he is buying none of it.
They meet Jess's kid from the future and when Dean looks at the guy— giant, kind of bitchy— he gets a sneaking suspicion he knows where the other half of him comes from. More than that, when the kid lights up at the sight of Cas and hugs him like he hasn't seen Skycrawler in ages, Dean gets a glimpse into things that are coming that make him simultaneously hopeful and uneasy.
He's sure the kid has Sam's eyes.
Later, Castiel will surmise out loud that he is no longer alive in the world where Dean's nephew lives, based on his reaction to seeing him.
Dean snaps at him to shut up and doesn't want to talk about it.
Meanwhile, Cas somehow manages to become scary badass despite his utter cluelessness, enough so that Bobby puts him in charge of missions and teams all of his own, and on the rare occasion that Dean and he can get a moment, Dean always drags him to the Ben and Jerry's and they get pistachio ice cream and sit in the sun for a while, not because Dean thinks Cas is a horrible workaholic (even though he is) but because Dean is too and any excuse is a welcome one.
Even if Cas says ridiculous things when they're walking down the street together eating their cones and avoiding doe-eyed teenagers out on dates to the movies or the Johnny Rocket's next to the ice cream shop. Ridiculous things like "The ice cream from this shop is superior to all other ice cream shops I have ever visited," and "Your soul is still the brightest one of all the thousands I have seen, Dean."
Dean tells him not to say stupid shit like that and to just enjoy his ice cream.
Which is unfailingly pistachio each and every time; he doesn't even want to sample any of the other flavors any more, on the offhand chance that over the years, he's changed his mind somehow. He knows what he likes and he sticks with it, apparently.
For some reason, it's comforting to know that even after all this time, the first flavor he liked is still his favorite flavor.
Sam laughs at them both like he knows something important they don't. Which is not only fair but entirely probable, since he's, you know, telepathic.
Dean and Cas are both good at ignoring him when they have to. They do it by not inviting him to come get ice cream with them.
Castiel never really stops thinking of himself as some sort of abomination, but eventually, he at least stops caring that he happens to be one.
If that's the case, Dean thinks Cas is the most awesome abomination he knows.