Title: We Are Not Permanent

Title from the lyrics of Pretender.

Spoilers for season 4-5 mayyyybe. Oh, and it's an AU with Angel!Dean. :)

Gabriel warns Dean that if he doesn't decide fast enough, he's going to snatch that perfect body away from his younger brother.

Even to them—mostly immune to sins of the flesh—they could see just how beautiful of a man he is. The man prays one last time, asking to be made use of or he will take his life. Gabriel is smirking, and Dean has never liked watching people suffer, so he pre-empts the vessel before his older brother can.

Silently, spiritually, the man thanks Dean for taking pity on him and answering his pleas. Dean lets his soul ascend to Heaven instead of being dragged down to Hell like it would have been – had he gone through with his plan.

Gabriel isn't far behind, snatching up his usual vessel that is just as smug, just as cheeky as his own grace. The vessel isn't large in stature, but with confidence and fearlessness only Gabriel himself could match.

Dean recalls the stories of when Gabriel first chose that man and how they slid together perfectly. They had an unrivaled understanding and trust of each other, to the point that if the man didn't agree with one of Gabriel's actions – and Gabriel has done many things that Heaven is no entirely aware of – he merely had to speak up and Gabriel would stop. It has been years since the man has passed on, though, and no matter how much Gabriel denies it, Dean knows that the week Gabriel spent sulking in Heaven was because of his death.

Can you imagine? An Archangel depressed because of a human. Dean couldn't understand why their Father had made Gabriel an Archangel of all things.

Gabriel is so undisciplined, so hard to control, so wild. But he has a knack for understanding and adapting, which comes in handy when he's among the humans. And he is probably the most loyal—after Michael, of course—to Heaven and their Father. And perhaps those things proved to God that he was worthy.

Dean hopes he can learn to mesh with God's children, just as his brother does, if he pays close enough attention. That would make the progress of his mission that much smoother.

"You've got a soft spot for humans," Gabriel teases, "don't you Dean-o?" That wretched nickname makes the skin of Dean's acquired vessel crawl.

It's bad enough his name has morphed from Diniel to Dini to Dean over the years, but this is the worst by far. Dean quite prefers simple Dean. It could also help him to seem more human, or so Gabriel told him.

"I have a soft spot for creatures in general," Dean replies flatly. "Don't think that to mean I'm weak."

"Never crossed my mind," Gabriel sing-songs. "Do you know which two people you're supposed to take care of?"

"I know their names, but not their faces," Dean says. "Do you have an effigy of them or the like?"

"Oh, gee. I must have left my camera up in Heaven." Gabriel rolls his eyes. "Honestly, Dean. And don't use words like effigy in front of them. They'll spot you from a mile away."

"What is a more suitable word?" Dean squints. Gabriel just laughs and starts walking away. "Wait!"

"Bro," Gabriel turns back, "you're on your own now. I'm not going to hold your hand. Besides, you might not want to see your brother in the middle of—"

"Okay!" Dean covers his ears, taking in a deep breath. "Fine. I'll find them through their souls. Thank you, Gabriel."

"For what?" Gabriel's brow creases.

"For letting me have this man's vessel." Dean smiles.

"No idea what you're talking about," Gabriel says before disappearing.

The Winchesters consist of Sam and, his older brother, Castiel. They are the people Dean is sent on Earth to look for.

They are hunters, not by trade, but by lifestyle. They aren't paid for it—that they're aware of yet—but they do it all the same, feeling as though it's their duty. It's what they were born and raised to do.

Sam is the one who convinces people to trust them—with their fake badges and rugged looks—and let them into their home for questioning. He's, unsurprisingly, better at it than Castiel, and Castiel tries to keep his mouth shut completely and just let Sam handle it. Sam's also good at researching for their hunts. Whether it be the next weird case, the unfamiliar creature they have to hunt down, or the priceless weapon they have to use.

Castiel is good at that, too, but doesn't enjoy it so much. He's impatient and gives up if he doesn't have immediate (and useful) results. The dust on the century old books bothers his nose as well, which Sam always teases him about. What Castiel is good at—can outshine his baby brother any day—is fighting. He was in the army a few years, a fairly high rank, and pulled away to help Sam with cases instead. Besides that, Castiel memorized every incantation they may need for exorcisms and the like, just in case.

Once in a while, Sam asks Castiel to question suspects or victims, and more often than not, it ends in Sam having to drive like a maniac to escape the awkward mess of lies Castiel has created. Being in the army has done little more than give Castiel muscle memory, unfortunately.

Castiel is putting gas in the Impala while Sam is inside the diner buying them some lunch for the road. There's a fairly tall, striking man walking in Castiel's direction. Castiel looks around, trying to find which car belongs to the stranger—out of curiosity. But there are no other cars parked close by.

The man fixes his thin, black sweater and smiles as Castiel makes eye contact. Castiel immediately looks away. Maybe Sam wasn't joking when he said Castiel was a gay magnet.

"Hey," the man says, sliding his hands into his pockets. They don't fit all the way in, and Castiel can see his skin folding with the effort.

"Hey," Castiel mutters, his grip firm on the gas pump. He looks at the amount, deciding to get more gas elsewhere—where there's not a model standing in front of him with charming, green eyes. It's so hard to turn down people when they seem so kind.

The man doesn't say anything else, but he stares while rubbing the nape of his neck. Castiel is sliding his fake credit card through the machine to pay quickly and avoid whatever question may be coming next. Forget rushing inside to pay with cash when this dude could follow him in, and Sam would see, pointing out how right he was.

"Okay, well," Castiel clears his throat, seeing Sam step out of the store finally, "bye."

The man puts out a hand, which alarms Castiel, almost triggering his army training. Castiel reins it in, pushing it as far down as possible. Not everyone is trying to kill him – he hopes—and this stranger certainly doesn't deserve to smack his skull against the pavement.

"Wait," the man says softly, innocently even. "I would like to ask a favour of you."

Sam has an eyebrow raised, mouthing who is this guy, and Castiel shrugs. "What favour?"

"I need a means of transportation," the man admits. "And perhaps shelter."

Sam frowns, but steps in the car – on the driver's side. Castiel knows that means they aren't going far; Sam prefers to be the passenger. In other words, he's already scanned this guy, decided he was okay, and that he could tag along. Castiel just loves it when Sam doesn't ask his permission about sketchy hitchhikers.

"Sure, I guess," Castiel sighs. "What's your name, by the way?"

"Dean." Dean bows his head in respect. "Nice to make your acquaintance."

"Yeah." Castiel agrees, putting out a hand. "Likewise. I'm Castiel. And that," he points to the mop of hair hanging out of the window, "is my younger brother Sam."

Dean smiles slightly, ducking around the car and slipping into the back seat. Castiel drops his hand feeling more awkward than usual, although this time it was the other person's fault.

Dean is odd.

Dean is odd even to Castiel who was born odd. But he's nice and he's polite, and he's eager to learn about new things—things that are new to him—and Castiel likes teaching even if he's not good at explaining things. Dean's like a child in an adult's body discovering the colours of the sky for the first time. Sam likes Dean because he's easy to be around, and how comfortable he makes Castiel, too.

At first, it's weird how Dean wants to follow them everywhere, explaining that he has no place of residence to return to. Whether it's because of lack of trust or for his own safety, they don't want him around for too long. Where they go monsters are keen to follow, and not everyone—hardly anyone, in fact—is meant to deal with that on a weekly basis.

Sam is the first to change his mind. He tells Castiel they should let Dean stay around for a while longer. Castiel grumbles – once again his opinion has been overlooked – but he can't really deny that he's been thinking the same thing.

Dean seems like the type of person who can pick up on things quickly, or can help with salting and burning at least. Well, that's if he can open his mind and accept that monsters are real. Castiel suggests Sam break the news about that tiny detail to avert a disaster.

The conversation goes remarkably well.

"So." Sam is sitting at the table, his laptop pushed to the side. "This may sound kind of weird, but we're hunters."

"Okay," Dean replies promptly, forcing down the I know he originally planned to say.

"And we hunt—uh—things most people don't know exist," Sam adds. He gestures for Castiel to say something as well.

"You need to be strong to stay with us," Castiel utters. "I mean, it could be dangerous."

"Yes, fine," Dean answers, narrowing his eyes. "What are you trying to say?"

"We're saying, if you don't mind fighting ghosts and demons and werewolves," Sam pushes his bangs out of his face. This guy is going to take off screaming any second now, surely, "then you're free to join us, Dean. We could always use an extra hand."

"Thank you," Dean says calmly. "I appreciate the offer." Even if they had told him to leave, he would just hide and keep watching them. This made it more convenient.

Castiel blinks, Sam blinks, Dean clicks on the television. His favourite human program is about to start.

Dean struggles with pretending to sleep one night, and gives up. He sits up from the couch, peering over at the two brothers deep in the safety of their subconscious minds.

They don't realize it yet, but they've already accorded Dean all of their trust. They know Dean can learn, they know he doesn't mean them harm—even if humans are fickle and sometimes turn on each other without notice—they know, deep down, they like having Dean around. It makes them relax even though they aren't sure why. Far, far beneath all of the facts they've collected, they can probably sense he was sent there to protect them. They're truly amazing, the Winchesters.

Unbeknownst to them, in less than five years, they will be the saviours of the planet. Dean smiles at that; his mission is an important one, but it's also an easy one when the people he needs to watch are so easy to care for. His only difficulty is keeping his true nature from them. It weighs on him every day, knowing they reveal all their secrets, one by one, gladly to this stranger they met at a gas station.

What is ten years in a thousand but a drop of water in an ocean? One day, they could know. And Dean hopes that day they could forgive him for misleading them.

The first time Castiel nearly has a heart attack is when Dean makes it painfully obvious he doesn't know how to handle a gun. Sam takes him—Dean, not Castiel still clutching his heart—aside and shows him the basics of it. Needless to say, the killing of that particular creature takes much longer than it needs to.

After that, Castiel tells Dean to stick to questioning suspects with Sam.

It turns out Dean is just as horrible at that as he is at handling a gun. Sam says Dean shouldn't feel bad considering how terrible Castiel is at it, too. But at least Castiel doesn't blow their cover every time he opens his mouth. Thank you very much.

Castiel buys the ammo while Sam is investigating, so the only thing left for Dean to do is research. And that he proves to be flawless at. Not only are the details he finds spot-on each time, but he finds them so quickly that Sam wonders if he actually teleported to a nearby library. It's fantastic that Dean's finally found his calling, but how does he discover things that Sam hasn't even heard about?

Dean knows so much about every creature that goes bump in the night.

For his part, Dean must hide his powers, and only use them when he's completely out of options. It's not his fault they get hurt so often that Dean begins to feel the necessity of healing them up just a tad. They don't notice the subtle changes in their recovery time, thankfully. But something must be happening because they suddenly act more reckless than usual, and Dean must keep using tiny bits of his power to erase their mistakes.

And then it gets out of hand.

Castiel is stuck inside a building on fire—the fire they'd put on the corpse having spread unexpectedly to the curtains—and Dean and Sam are watching from outside, waiting for him to make an appearance. He told them to go ahead. He said he'd be right behind. But it's been two minutes already, and the house looks about ready to collapse. Sam is sprinting, so Dean grabs him and throws him back, pushing ahead to get inside.

Dean finds Castiel in half a second, worried about Castiel's well-being more than keeping his secret under wraps. He's outside, holding Castiel in his arms, and the fire is so close it should be burning their skin right off, but instead it's being pushed outward and away. It's like a force field, but Sam can't see more than the outline of it, protecting them. Castiel's eyes blink open when they're out of the smoke, and he feels buzzing all over his skin, and hands that are warmer than anything he's ever felt. Dean's hands.

Sam knows Dean isn't human, there's no denying that, but he saved Castiel's life. What more could they owe him?

Dean isn't very threatening, but he is stubborn.

They are desperately trying to pin down what exactly Dean is, but he won't tell them if they 'don't already know'- whatever that means. Sam knows if it were anyone else, Castiel would probably have Dean tied to a chair by now. But even that plan would be mostly a failure due to a) Dean being strong, b) Dean being their friend, and c) not really having a reason to go that far.

They don't just let it go, though, because they can't.

Castiel isn't as subtle as he could be when it comes to testing out theories – not that they have any experience in trying to find out a creature's nature, especially not one they consider a friend.

(Sam thinks Dean is part of the X-Men, but Castiel thinks Sam is crazy. No matter though, they'll see who's laughing once Dean starts throwing things with his mind, flying and being an all-around superhero.)

So, back to Castiel with his lack of finesse.

Castiel throws holy water in Dean's face, and all Dean does is lick his lips, frowning as though he expected it to have some type of flavour. Overall, Dean just looks disappointed. Then, Sam takes out a piece of silver, but notices soon after that Dean is actually wearing a silver cross. That doesn't stop Castiel from pinning Dean down, and pressing a blade flat against the skin of his throat.

Dean watches as Castiel sits back on his haunches, arms crossed, frustrated, staring. So Dean stares back. Sam feels left out uncomfortable, so he pulls Castiel off Dean's lap and the bed, and away from that weird position.

They – well, mostly Castiel – try many more things, but nothing reacts differently than if Dean were human. Sam secretly returns to his 'Dean is a mutant' theory, but they give up trying to figure him out with experimentation. Curiosity, however, they can't seem to shake.

Dean allows them to ask questions, finally. And they sit across from Dean on Sam's bed, with Dean lounging on his own.

"Are you an extra-terrestrial?" Castiel asks, peering at Dean inquisitively.

"Yes, in a way," Dean answers easily. Sam quirks an eye at that.

"So, you're from another planet? Which?" Sam asks.

Dean shakes his head, smiling a bit, "No, I'm not. I'm just not from here."

Castiel narrows his eyes. "Is your blood green?"

"No," Dean says, one brow raised questioningly.

Sam turns to Castiel, "What kind of question is that, Cas?"

Castiel scowls. "A good one."

Sam rolls his eyes and continues, "What can you do, Dean? Besides that shield thing."

Dean tips his head to one side, rubbing the nape of his neck in a way he's seen the Winchesters do. "I'm not sure if I may tell you yet."

Castiel cuts in before Sam asks the obvious follow-up of 'why', "Why are you here, then?"

"To protect you both." Dean's lips curl up at one side.

Sam's eyes widen then blink in disbelief. "That's…good to know. Or is it only temporary? Like until your boss decides he wants us dead?"

Castiel nudges Sam with his elbow.

"No, my 'boss', as you say, does not wish anyone harm. I will protect you until my passing. My task requires me to forever watch over the Winchesters," Dean answers, grinning when their mouths fall open.

"Wow," Sam mutters. Castiel nods slowly in agreement.

"Do you have any other questions for me?" Dean says, winking.

Eventually – eventually – they'll get to the bottom of this mystery.

Castiel is teaching Dean how to clean a gun with Sam seated nearby behind his laptop, when someone literally appears out of thin air. Castiel is shoving Dean behind him reflexively as the person – or thing –takes a few steps closer. The only sound for a few moments is Sam clicking off his safety underneath the table where his laptop is placed. Dean sighs and pushes Castiel aside, looking back and giving Sam a wry smile.

"Gabriel," Dean says, pulling his brother in a quick hug.

"Dean." Gabriel smirks, looking over at the Winchesters, amused. "They don't know yet, do they?"

"I believe our Father told me not to reveal my identity, brother," Dean says, frowning.

"You don't have to get all snippy just 'cause your pets are slow, Dini," Gabriel scoffs, crossing his arms.

Castiel was always better at theology than Sam, but they both share a light bulb moment when they connect Gabriel to 'our Father' to all of Dean's subtle hints. Castiel's face screws up like he's just been asked the most puzzling question in the universe. Maybe he has. Sam just falls back in his seat, staring at his laptop blankly.


Gabriel laughs at their dumbfounded expressions. "Took them long enough," he says to Dean. Then, slightly lower, "Your people are pretty slow."

Dean rolls his eyes – he'd never thanked Sam for explaining that – and sits on the edge of his bed. Gabriel snorts and walks over to where Castiel is still standing, silent.

"Nice to meet you, I'm the Archangel Gabriel," he smirks, extending a hand for Castiel.

Castiel swallows, not fond of answering, but puts out his hand as well.

"The strong, tall, dark, silent type," Gabriel teases, "I like that." His gaze sweeps down Castiel's body briefly. "I really like that."

Castiel jerks his hand away, and sits on the edge of the bed next to Dean – the angel – and exhales shakily. Angels? He always hoped they existed, but this – meeting two of them within a couple of months – it's overwhelming.

"Need a back rub? I'm amazing at 'em." Gabriel grins, wetting his lips. Castiel's eyes find Gabriel's and he sees them begin to darken. Apparently angels weren't strangers to flirting and corny pick-up lines.

Dean grumbles and stands, putting himself in front of Castiel to keep Gabriel from trying to climb onto his lap. They begin their silent conversation once Gabriel's attention switches back to Dean.

Are you fucking him?


Then why can't I?

Because he's mine.

Really? And you're not fucking him?'


Then I'll take the giant.


Oh, come on, Dean. Share a bit.

He's mine, too. You have your own humans.

You're really taking this protector thing too seriously.

You're not taking it seriously enough.

I think you're just afraid they'll like me more.


Then let me seduce—

No way!

Fine, okay. Gosh. I'll be in a brothel if you need me.

Gabriel disappears, the sound of fluttering the only hint as to his departure. Castiel looks over at Sam, and Sam shrugs a shoulder. Maybe they don't want to know what just happened. But Sam has a feeling he was sort of right about Dean being in the X-Men.

"I apologize for Gabriel's behaviour," Dean sighs. "He's…unruly."

Castiel clears his throat, "Thank you."

"For what?" Dean's brow furrows. Sam chuckles.

"Gabriel was going to try and sleep with me, wasn't he?" Castiel says plain as day.

Sam shakes his head, still smiling. "Maybe you would have liked it, Cas." Castiel scowls at Sam.

Dean feels irritated at that. "I don't believe so." That draws Castiel's attention away from his brother; his head tilts.

If anyone should be with the Winchesters it should be another human, or – or Dean. Dean looks away when Castiel is still waiting for him to continue the thought. He can't very well finish it with 'you'd enjoy it more with me', can he?

It's subtle at first, or that's what he picks out of Sam and Castiel's thoughts.

When girls flirt with the Winchesters – which they do all the time; it's exhausting trying to chase them all away – Dean is faced with emotions he'd rather not be. He should want his charges to find a young woman to spend time with. But he doesn't. No one is good enough. And it takes massive amounts of energy for Dean to keep his feelings under control.

Dean allows girls to look, even a slight touch, but once they get inside personal boundaries – which Sam taught Dean about – then he steps in, pulling either Sam or Castiel aside and far, far away from the sinful thoughts he'd heard.

Then, most unexpectedly to Dean, women begin to trail their gazes over Dean's vessel as well. And deep down he hopes his charges will rescue him from the X-rated thoughts of the strange women, but he forgets that they don't share his power for mind reading. So he tells them.

"That woman just thought about putting my penis in her mouth."


"Sam, don't speak to her. She wants to handcuff you to her bed."


"No, stay away from that one, Cas. She has a collection of toys shaped like male genitalia she wishes to use on you."

Most of the time it ends with Sam or Castiel choking over their plate of food, and certain foods being banned because of the strange imagery linked to it. (No tomato soup, baguette, vanilla ice cream…)

Sam waits for Dean to leave before trying to discuss the weird situation with Castiel. Castiel says he doesn't mind – whatever Dean is doing – so long as he continues to help them with their hunts. Sam can't really help but agree.

It's not as though they were into one-night stands before Dean came into their lives. But Castiel has to have recognized the almost possessive feeling underlying all of Dean's actions - like no one should even try to get close to them. Maybe it's an angel thing; Dean is their protector after all. Maybe that's all it's meant to be?

They eventually get used to it, oddly enough.

Dean does everything they ask, sometimes with a grunt, yes, but he always concedes in the end. If they have weird cravings at 3 o'clock in the morning, Dean zaps there and back with the item in hand. If they are having difficulty with interrogations, Dean will use his mind reading abilities to help clear away some fog. If they're injured, no matter how small, Dean will use his powers to heal them.

Basically, Dean is spoiling the Winchesters – something they've never had the luxury of experiencing.

In exchange, Sam teaches Dean about popular culture, Castiel teaches Dean about hunting, and they both help him to blend in more efficiently as time passes.

One thing they notice early on is Dean's interest in alcohol. (It rivals even Castiel's taste for it.) Spending a few dollars every weekend in a bar with Dean is nothing compared to the amount of times he's saved their lives or healed a wound too dangerous to be left untreated.

In celebration of a hunt completed without a single hitch, Sam and Castiel buy bottles of whiskey and vodka for Dean. The fact that they've never seen him drunk (and would like to) has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Sam hands Dean the bottle and says he has to drink until he starts to feel the room spinning and seeing double. Dean's brow creases but when he sees Castiel smiling, he just goes along with it. It takes Dean the entire bottle before he can look at Sam confident that he is now drunk. He gives his charge a thumbs up. Castiel starts a timer to see how long the effects last on an angel.

Sam puts on Shrek and drags Castiel away, leaving Dean in front of the cartoon.

"I haven't seen this one," Dean slurs. "Is it good?"

Sam doesn't particularly like it, but Castiel does. "Cas likes it," Sam answers quickly. "Don't you?"

"Yes." Castiel narrows his eyes. "Are you making fun of me again, Sam?"

"Shh." Sam points to Dean on the bed; Dean's eyes are glazed over and he's giggling like they've never seen him do before. Well, they hadn't even seen Dean laugh.

Dean nearly tips over with laughter when Donkey appears. Sam can't help but change his mind about the movie. Who is Sam to judge a film's humour when even an angel finds it hilarious? Castiel is too busy enjoying the film, like he always does, to see Dean's weird drunken reactions. After a few more minutes, Dean's vision begins to clear up and his posture straightens, his mask of emotion renewed once more.

"How long was that, Cas?" Sam whispers behind his palm.

"An hour, more or less," Castiel replies, astonished. "That was an entire bottle of 40% alcohol. I would be done for the night."

"You're not an angel," Sam says, simply. "At least we know now." For future reference.

Another weekend off, another bottle they pay with a fake credit card.

Dick Sean Airy.

Castiel thought it was clever - even if it took Sam three tries to actually get the joke. Once they hand Dean the bottle, he knows what to do, expecting the result, but never able to guess what they have planned for him.

They start off easy.

They make Dean streak around the motel; they make him wax his legs and armpits (never again! Angel's screams aren't worth dealing with); they make him say stupid things that's only funny to them – until he actually starts saying them with a strange conviction; they make him put on makeup, wear dresses, get a tattoo, shave his eyebrows off, braid his hair, do headstands, give them piggy back rides…

And then one weekend, Castiel crosses a line Sam didn't know they were tip-toeing around.

"Dean," Castiel utters, wobbling on his feet, clearly more drunk than he should be, "I dare you to strip in front of us."

Sam turns to Castiel, scolding him like when they were kids – even though Sam is the younger brother – but when he turns back, Dean is without a stitch of clothing. Sometimes Sam hates Dean's angelic powers.

Castiel's jaw slackens, his vodka dripping out of his mouth and onto the carpet. Sam puts a hand over his eyes and one over Castiel's, but he's peeking between two fingers, still trying to make sense of what he's seeing. When Dean went streaking, he was further away and it was night; they hadn't seen anything. But now, with him standing in the same room, under the yellow light from the ceiling, it's obscene in a way it shouldn't be considering Dean is an angel.

Dean cocks a brow, both hands on his hips. Humans are so affected by changes in clothing. They need amounts of it that Dean will never understand, and depending on their state of undress they are judged a certain way, even if their nudity is meant to be freeing and not sexual – like nudists. For his charges to be gawking at him, or trying to hide their interest rather, is odd considering they were the ones who suggested this.

"This is just a vessel." Dean waves a hand down his body. Perhaps that could make them relax.

"Doesn't make it any less attractive," Castiel says honestly.

"You shouldn't call an angel hot, Cas," Sam adds.

"But he is," Castiel answers, rubbing his chin pensively.

"You mean my vessel is appealing to you as well?" Dean asks, smirking. He and Gabriel had known it was special even from Heaven.

"We're not gay or anything," Sam supplies unnecessarily.

"Gender has nothing to do with attraction in Heaven," Dean replies. "It is about connection and love—"

"And touching," Castiel cuts in, practically banging Dean's brains out with his mind; Sam knows the look.

"I suppose," Dean answers, his grin growing when he catches wind of Castiel's thoughts.

"Why are you still naked?" Sam asks, not sure if he cares about the actual answer at this point.

"Is it inappropriate?" Dean's expression turns serious for a moment.

"Kind of," Castiel admits, still gawking though.

"But you dared me," Dean retorts, crossing his arms and shifting his hips side to side.

"Yes we did," Castiel mutters, not sure if anyone hears. Not that Castiel cares; he's more intent on eyeing Dean's crotch.

"That is inappropriate, Cas," Sam scolds, then, "Sorry, Dean."

"Why don't you get undressed as well," Dean suggests, raising a brow.

And that's how Dean unexpectedly loses his virginity to his charges.

Gabriel returns when he's certain that Sam and Castiel are asleep. In the past he would have just barged in, while they were in the middle of their…activity, purposely. Dean's a bit of a privacy Nazi, though, so Gabriel had waited.

Sam and Castiel are back on their beds, still mostly naked, and Dean is awake – he can't sleep if he wanted to – looking out the motel window.

"I knew you'd eventually be doing one of them, but both?" Gabriel teases. "Didn't know you had it in you. Congrats!" Gabriel slaps Dean on the back roughly, forcing Dean to brace himself on the window.

Dean turns to his brother, eyes slits of irritation. "I'm not sure whether that's mockery or genuine praise."

Gabriel snorts, bumping his shoulder against Dean's frame. "A bit of both.

"Are you here only to cause me distress?" Dean looks back at his charges, a fondness gnawing at his insides.

Gabriel shakes his head, discouraged. "Why do you still talk like this after a year?"

Dean peers down at his brother, smiling in spite of himself. "Because old habits die hard or something."

Gabriel cocks a brow. "Good one."

Whether Gabriel is teasing or not, Dean will take the compliment. "Thank you."

Gabriel crosses the room, trying to at least get a view of the naked men, even if he can't enjoy them. "I'm just here to check on you. Are your pets still healthy and happy?" he lifts the corner of Sam's sheet slightly.

Dean swats Gabriel's hand away quickly. "I believe so. What was your mission by the way?"

Gabriel sighs; Dean won't even let him get a peek? "Didn't have one. I'm on vacation." He turns to Dean, winking.

"No wonder you escaped so quickly," Dean says flatly. A little guidance would have been nice.

"Are you sad that I didn't hold your hand?" Gabriel purses his bottom lip, batting his eyes.

"No, I'm perfectly fine," Dean snaps. Well, he is now.

Gabriel presses his palm to Dean's chest, smirking. "Good. See ya!"

Dean almost curses when Gabriel kisses his cheek before fleeing halfway across the world.

Castiel insists that a repeat performance – Dean being uninhibited and naked and bendy – is top priority, therefore putting Jack Daniel's at the top of his grocery list. Sam has a similar idea, so they end up with two bottles when they return to the motel room.

In other words, an extra hour of fun.

Dean just 'goes with the flow' as Gabriel always tells him to, and both bottles are empty in a matter of minutes. Castiel and Sam are mostly sober, intent on getting as much enjoyment out of an angel's inebriation as they ever will.

Castiel has the brilliant idea – he needs to stop, really – of daring Dean to show off his powers.

"What would you like me to do?" Dean says, eyes trailing down Castiel's body then darting over to Sam to do the same. They are both handsome, intelligent, strong, loyal, young creatures that Dean really never wants to let go of – even if he may have to once they fulfill their duty.

"Something with your teleporting," Castiel blurts, "I've been dying to see it."

Not exactly what Dean had in mind, but that's easy at least.

Dean gestures for them to come closer, and Castiel is plastered to Dean's side, obviously anxious, but Sam walks over more hesitantly. Dean looks up at Sam, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and rubbing his arm. "Don't worry, Sam."

Sam nods, and they're off.

Castiel lurches forward but Dean clasps his arm to keep him from falling on his face onto the - onto the ice?

Sam shivers, reflexively standing closer to Dean for warmth. They all huddle together, clearly underdressed for the amount of snow and ice and general coldness. Castiel's teeth begin to chatter, but he still manages to get his point across when he says, "Thanks a lot, Dean. I really wanted to visit Alaska in a t-shirt."

Sam looks around, pressing himself closer to Dean to steal some of his heavenly warmth; the man's like a furnace most of the time, but it comes in handy out here. "Is this Alaska, Dean?"

Dean closes his eyes, steadying himself with a hand on both of the Winchesters' backs. "I wrongly brought us to Antarctica, actually."

Castiel grumbles and Sam sighs exasperatedly at the same time. Dean is too drunk to remember where he had planned to bring them, but maybe this could be an excuse for them to be more physical after all.

"I apologize," Dean mutters, taking in the matching glares. "I think I have enough stamina to transport us to warmth, but not enough for us to return to the motel yet."

Sam drags a hand through his hair, moving out of their circle of warmth. "Where?"

"A cave," Dean replies quickly, not wanting to cause the youngest any more frustration. "Again, I—"

"Apologize," Castiel interjects, "we know. Just get us out of this weather before we develop hypothermia."

Once in the cave, Sam attempts to make a fire. Only, there's no wood, he forgot his jacket with his lighter in it, and it's so cold Sam can't feel his fingers anymore. He sighs and plops down on the frozen ground. Castiel growls and grabs Dean by the collar when he comes to the same conclusion.

"You better be able to keep us from dying, Dean," Castiel spits, his voice echoing throughout the icy cave.

"Sit down, Cas," Dean says, moving his charge's hands away.

Dean squats down between the Winchesters and lets his wings stretch out, careful to keep them invisible to the human eye. He can't have them going blind in his drunken haze; they'd be stuck like that until morning.

Castiel shifts, trying to see what's pressed behind him, but Dean's wing drags him closer. Sam reaches out, trying to touch whatever it is that's suddenly pulsing warmth against his skin, but feels nothing. Dean leans back against the uneven wall at his back, forcing his charges closer until he feels their breath on his neck. He closes his eyes, and his wings encircle them completely, keeping the world out and their warmth in.

Sam clears his throat, "Is this a force field thing again?"

"They're my wings," Dean murmurs, sliding his lips across Sam's cheek. He feels the blush start to spread.

Castiel's hair tickles Dean's neck, and he pets it gently, trying to tame the wild strands. He hums, trailing a hand down Dean's chest. "Can you describe them to us?"

Sam chuckles; he was thinking the same thing. Dean smiles, content to be intermingling, and witnessing the depth of their brotherly bond. "Of course," he whispers softly.

Dean opens his eyes to begin.

The feathers are narrow and long as limbs, unbreakable when faced with most things except Archangels, soft as fur but thin as flower petals, radiating natural heat that comes straight from their Father, with the colours paling as years pass.

Dean is still relatively young – only a few hundred centuries old – so the colours are almost as vibrant as when Heaven birthed him. His wings glimmer with the reflecting ice around him; the dark blues, greys, deep greens, and hints of burgundy at the tips, seem to sparkle proudly in the chilly cave. They call out to nature, and nature rewards them with a brilliance that a varnish would provide for a wooden floor.

If only the Winchesters could see.

If only they knew how Dean's wings expanded, strengthened and sparkled like coloured glass to impress them. It's a thing that only usually occurs in the presence of a perfectly matched mate, and it breaks Dean's heart that they can't witness the beauty of it. All he can offer is words, and they pale in comparison to the sight of them.

The young men fall asleep, and Dean whispers 'I'm glad to have found you' when they do.

Sam wakes up first, scrubbing his eyes roughly. He jolts awake when he realizes that they've made it back to their room. He takes in his surroundings and sighs happily; back to humanity. Castiel is on the bed next to his, snoring softly, but Dean is nowhere Sam can see.

Maybe Heaven called him up for a meeting? Not that he's ever left their side before.

Dean had received an impromptu visit from his beloved brother Michael, and his first thought was to lead him away from the Winchesters, so that's what he did.

They're standing on the edge of a cliff, the waves crashing against rock at the bottom of it, hundreds of feet below.

Dean and Michael don't hate each other, but they aren't as close as he and Gabriel. Michael has always voiced his disappointment in Dean, no matter how hard Dean has tried to better himself. Michael insists that Dean can be better – should be better – but Dean has never given less than his all. It's hard to be more than you are, especially when you follow heavenly law down to the very last word.

But now, Dean is crossing boundaries a guardian isn't meant to. They know his true nature, they know his reason for being on Earth, but, worst of all, they know what's in his heart. And what can be found there is not something a guardian should carry.

Michael's been tasked with giving Dean a warning because Dean is losing himself in the Winchesters. The fate of the world rests on their shoulders. But if they're too busy falling in love with Dean, how can they save anyone?

"You know why I'm here Diniel, yes?" Michael says, wearing the skin of a man who could easily pass for a god – all bronze skin, dark blue eyes, and wavy, blond hair.

"Yes, Michael," Dean replies, watching as the waves of the ocean mirror his emotions. Michael can say what he pleases; nothing will make Dean choose an alternate path.

"Then why do I feel as though I still need to voice my concern?" Michael says, eyes softening as Dean's jaw tenses.

Dean shrugs a shoulder, something Sam has done countless times, and it makes Dean relax somehow.

"Brother," Michael says, voice rougher, "do not let those humans sway you. If you fail, you know what will happen. Do you not?"

"Why do you pretend like I had no effect on them myself? It wasn't their doing - this situation," Dean chides, "I am the one who has offered them my affections. They are the saviours, not just general population."

"There can be others to replace them," Michael snaps, "but you cannot be replaced, Dean."

Dean faces Michael then, seeing nothing but red, he steps into his space. "You are confused. It is the other way around, brother."

Dean's words strike the air like a whip, crackling along with Michael's patience for Dean's behaviour.

"Would you like to be replaced?" Michael spits, his eyes changing to their natural indigo.

Gabriel appears, and immediately puts his hand on Michael's shoulder to ease some of the tension away.

"Michael." Gabriel smiles politely. "It's been a while."

"Talk some sense into this naïve one, will you?" Michael vanishes, nothing but cold air left in his wake.

Gabriel huffs, shaking Dean from his anger. "Why do you have to be like that with him? He's our Father's favourite. Do you have some death wish I don't know about?"

"I'm not in the mood, Gabriel," Dean says dryly. "Is that the end of your little rant?"

Dean doesn't wait for the answer because he knows what to expect. Gabriel is disappointed, yes, but he will never threaten to hurt Dean like Michael would, and did. Dean pats Gabriel before disappearing; his charges are waiting for him.

Maybe Dean isn't worthy of his task. Maybe he wasn't ready; too young to fully grasp the importance of it. Without a second thought Dean would lay down his life for the Winchesters. The problem is how quickly he'd sacrifice his life even for things that don't matter, and Michael knows that.

In a way, Dean has chosen the Winchesters over his family – his older siblings who've taught him everything he knows. Everything he knew, rather. But now, his family is Sam and Castiel, and they teach him everything he never thought he could learn about. And maybe his understanding of humanity is frightening his family in Heaven, but couldn't they trust him to do the right thing when the time comes?

Sam and Castiel left a note for Dean in the motel room.

Gone to get some supplies, be back in a couple hours.

Even them - as lost and ignorant as they are perceived - have faith in Dean; they knew he would return even if he'd never left before.

A flutter of white wings alerts Dean to his brother's arrival. Apparently, he wasn't done talking.

"I know how this is going to sound," Gabriel looks up and sighs, "but Michael is right. You're getting too attached."

"Has this ever happened to you?" Dean asks, frowning. "It's not like I chose this. But now I don't know how to reverse it. Maybe I can't. Maybe I don't want to."

Gabriel laughs wryly, looking down at the stained carpet. "Didn't think you'd ever be rebelling more than I am."

Dean smiles tightly, dropping himself on the edge of the bed. "What do I do?"

"Try. Just try to move back a bit." Gabriel takes a seat next to Dean. "We both know Michael is going to remove you and take your place otherwise. And, as much as I stand up for you, I can't stand against him. He will destroy us both."

Dean wrings his fingers together, nodding. "I'll try." His chest feels tight like he needs air but isn't getting any. It's the worst thing he's experienced on Earth yet.

Gabriel chuckles, patting him on the back. "You really love them, huh? It's kind of disgusting."

Dean laughs, too. "I know."

Dean lets girls linger too long, even when they slip the Winchesters their phone numbers. He doesn't try to seduce the brothers, refuses to drink more alcohol than he should, touches them only when absolutely necessary. The worst part is how shocked they are by the sudden changes, and yet they continue to see Dean as the only person they need in their life besides each other.

All of the phone numbers end up in recycling bins and garbage bags. At times, they consider calling, especially when Dean stops offering them physical attention, but it's never more than a passing thought.

How could these people, these so-called flawed beings, be so loyal and utterly amazing?

Dean spends time away to make it easier on all of them. He flies to other parts of the country, teleports to the edge of the tallest buildings, drifts from city to city, but nothing compares to what he feels when he is giving himself over to those dorky, loving brothers. And perhaps he is destined to have his heart breaking slowly, eternally, but at least he would have had the chance to feel true bliss for a short while.

One day while visiting the island most humans are afraid to, Dean feels a sharp tug at his insides, and he knows something is wrong. He doesn't think twice before transporting into the motel room.

What Dean sees when he arrives is something straight out of his nightmares.

How someone could do this—

How Dean could take so long to sense this—

Why they hadn't called for him—

None of it is processing.

Castiel is sputtering blood, and there's a gunshot wound the size of a fist through his stomach. Dean kneels down next to him, propping him up against the wall gently. Dean presses a hand to the wound, trying to keep the blood from rushing out as it is. Castiel's fingers wrap around Dean's hand, a pained smile gracing his lips.

"Sam—" Castiel coughs, blood dripping out of the corner of his mouth. "Check on Sam."

"W-where is he?" Dean can't look Castiel in the eye; the tears are waiting for that final, horrific detail so they can flood out and never stop.

"Bathroom," Castiel mutters, swallowing with a difficulty Dean recognizes too well. Death is around the corner for him if Dean does nothing.

Dean stands, reluctant to leave Castiel alone in this state, but this is his wish.

The bathroom isn't a better picture. From the looks of it, someone charged the door before Sam could step out and forced him against the wall. Sam's crumpled figure rests between the sink and the bathtub, his eyes open and fixed to a point far, far away. There are at least three bullets lodged in his chest, and it takes every ounce of Dean's grace not to scream. Mostly, he doesn't want to scare the last breath out of Castiel.

Dean drops to his knees, the puddle of blood around Sam staining his jeans grotesquely. He cups Sam's face with both hands, staring into hazel eyes that are looking past him.

"Sam," Dean mutters, leaning closer. "Sam, can you hear me?"

Sam blinks, his eyes focusing for a moment on Dean. "Dean? You're here?"

"I'm here, Sam." Dean leans his forehead against Sam's, brushing his hair out of his eyes. "Why didn't you call me? I could have stopped this."

"It was too fast," Sam groans, his eyes squeezing shut. "We didn't want you to get hurt, either. You seemed scared when you came back to us."

Dean shakes his head, pressing a kiss to Sam's forehead. "I'm so sorry."

"Don't be." Sam winces, giving Dean a tight smile. "We knew what having a hunter's life meant." Sam's fingers stroke Dean's arm gingerly, so weakly that Dean barely notices it until Sam's hand falls to the tiles stained with red.

Sam's chest stops moving, his eyes go completely blank, and Dean can't move. He can't come to terms with this. There's not meant to be this – this disgrace – this tragedy. The Winchesters are the ones destined to save the world from destruction. How could Heaven let them die like this?

Dean's tears taste like nothing, he realizes, when he confuses them for water droplets. He leaves the bathroom, shaking with grief, only to find Castiel hunched over and not breathing. He rushes over to Castiel, kissing his closed eyelids, whimpering with each moment the truth of this horrible event sinks in.

A scream rips from Dean's throat and the glass shatters in every room of the motel.

This can't be happening; this can't be how it ends. Not after Dean tried so hard to do exactly as Heaven asked of him, even when his body was begging to return to the Winchesters. Is this his reward for obeying his brothers? Is this what the world deserves?

Dean shakes his head, pulling Castiel close to him. "I'm not letting go of you two yet, Cas," Dean murmurs. "You're too important to the world. You're too important to me."

Dean holds Castiel in his arms, a hand splayed across the gaping hole. He closes his eyes and prays, tugging at his grace. A sharp current travels through Dean's vessel and leaks out from his palm, sinking into Castiel's body. The wound begins to heal, the skin regenerating, the blood flowing back in, the colour returning to Castiel's complexion. Dean pants with exertion, forcing more power out and into his charge. When he feels Castiel's heart finally thump against his palm, he heaves a breath in relief. Dean carries Castiel to his bed and tucks him in; there's no time to clean him up when Sam is waiting in the bathroom.

Dean presses both hands firmly against Sam's chest, inhales, and then lets it all flow out through his fingertips. His grace struggles against his pull, not wanting to submit, not wanting to be taken away from its master. Dean's brow creases, yanking at his grace until it unravels and gives in, passing through Dean's pores and into Sam's body. Each wound closes up efficiently, the blood cleansed and replaced, Sam stirring a bit as the last bullet hole seals.

Lifting Sam with the last of his energy, Dean puts him in his bed as well. He collapses on the carpet between the two Winchesters, pleading for Heaven to watch over them while he recuperates.

That's the least they can do for him since he will be out of their hair soon enough.

But just in case—

Gabriel, please make sure they're alive when I wake up.

Dean wakes before the Winchesters and Gabriel is sitting with his legs crossed, an odd smile hanging from his lips.

"Hey Dean-o," Gabriel coos. "How are you feeling?"

Dean sits up, rubbing his head; everything – hurts.

"Yeah." Gabriel squeezes Dean's shoulder, letting tiny shocks transfer to soothe the pain. "That's what humans feel like."

Dean's eyes widen, his heart racing like it wants a gold medal. "You can't mean—"

"You dumbass! Why would you give them your grace?" Gabriel snaps, pushing Dean by his shoulder.

Dean rubs at the pain, trying to understand the new sensation. "I didn't want them to die."

"I know why! I mean – ah! You're so frustrating, Dean," Gabriel gets up abruptly, turning his back on Dean. "I hope you can deal with getting old and wrinkly." His shoulders slump, making Dean's eyes prickle with tears.

"I'm sorry, Gabriel," Dean says while standing.

Gabriel shrugs, too stubborn to look at Dean. "I guess this is for the best. You've always stuck out like a sore thumb upstairs."

"Do you really think so?" Dean asks, smirking. Somehow, it sounds like the best compliment he could ever want.

Gabriel drags Dean in for a fierce hug, pecking him on the cheek as usual, but Dean can't seem to mind at all. "I'll see you again one day, brother."

Sam stretches in bed and Gabriel flies off, leaving Dean with watery eyes and a lopsided smile.

One day, brother.

The Winchesters make a full, speedy recovery due to all the grace that was pumped into their bodies. It was unheard of for millennia to do such a thing. Dean is the first to have broken his grace in half and, basically, injected it into humans to give them a second chance at life.

Something about that incident makes the brothers' bond stronger. They were always two halves of a whole, but now they are made to live and fight together. Dean is just a catalyst that made it possible, really. Castiel and Sam promise to never let Dean go through that pain ever again, as long as he promises to become a real hunter so they won't worry about the same happening to him.

It's a deal they can all agree on.

Weeks pass, months, and, even without his grace, Dean feels the Apocalypse rounding the corner. But what the horsemen didn't bank on was that the Winchesters would become powerful due to the angelic fuel keeping them alive. Each horseman is defeated a day or two after they appear in the world, having little time to wreak the havoc they intended to.

(Dean is irrevocably turned on by how quickly they kill off the bringers of the Apocalypse, so the Winchesters offer Dean all the pleasure his human body can take.)

And when that's over, when they've convinced Death not to destroy humanity just yet, they've saved the world like they were meant to all along. No thanks to Heaven, quite frankly.

"Take that you feathery bastards," Dean says, sated and drowsily lying between Sam and Castiel.

"They're you're brothers, Dean," Sam retorts, trying to keep from laughing.

Dean rolls his eyes, crossing his arms. "Doesn't mean they aren't dicks."

"Well said," Castiel replies, biting down on Dean's collarbone.

The end