Castiel was always completely enthralled by the wings of this big brother, Balthazar. From the first day that the young angel had seen them, he admired them. Balthazar's wings were nothing special. They were strong, well-formed, and an interesting red/brown and silvery-grey color, but they were nothing particularly special; nothing for a fledgling to become awed with. Castiel's reason for reverence of those two wings came from his distaste for his own wings.
Young Castiel's wings were too big for him. They made him look and feel very misshapen and awkward. While other fledglings his age had wings still covered in soft, fluffy, down feathers, his down had already molted to be replaced by flight feathers. Some would see this as an advantage over his siblings; a blessing. However, Castiel was very small. Much smaller than the other angel's his age. If he even had the strength in his tiny body to manage to stay airborne for more than a few brief seconds, the wind would surely sweep the poor angel away.
In fact, the wind was a problem for Castiel when he had both feet firmly planted on the ground. Angels of his light weight didn't usually have strong, stiff feathers that held strong against any breeze. They had fluffy feathers that bent when a gust would blow past. Castiel, however, would often get blown right off of his feet even at the slightest breeze when his stiff primaries would catch the air like a parachute. Because of this, Castiel was always covered in scratches and bruises.
As if this wasn't enough to make a small angel depressed about his wings and how different they were, Castiel also had the darkest colored wings that any angel had seen in a very long time. They were a very dark charcoal grey color that sometimes would shine with a blue tint in the correct light. Castiel rather liked the blue part about his wings; he had thought it very fancy when his flight feathers had grown in. He spent an entire hour sitting on his own, twisting around and flexing his wings in different directions to admire the sleek shine of the feathers. Dark and shiny and silky smooth to the touch. He had proudly thought to himself that these feathers were so soft that he would be able to cut through the air at high speeds. He was so excited about the notion that he ran off to spread the news to anyone who might take the time to listen to his quiet voice. His siblings were less than impressed. The dark wings made them nervous. Even his older siblings would avoid him.
Castiel was made very aware of his flaws at a very young age. Not intentionally. Angels did not value being cruel to fledglings as a good trait. However, many angels were horrible at lying. Castiel was never very perceptive when it came to verbal cues, but it was painfully obvious when his siblings would change their paths to avoid him, or when they would refuse to walk too close to him. Castiel was quiet and shy by nature, but he craved companionship like any other angel, especially after the other angels began avoiding him.
Balthazar was the only angel that did not avoid Castiel. In fact, Balthazar had always been the one angel that gave Castiel more attention than he even paid himself. When Castiel had hidden himself in a bush after trying to show off his new feathers, Balthazar had found Castiel and reassured him that his wings were indeed very pretty to look at. Whenever Castiel was knocked down by any form of wind, Balthazar was there to catch him or at least kiss his scrapes better to stop his quiet tears. When the other angels would avoid Castiel, Balthazar would walk all the closer to him. Balthazar was the best big brother Castiel had, and Balthazar took good care of him. Castiel loved his big brother and everything about him.
Castiel was awed by Balthazar's wings. It wasn't just Balthazar's wings, though. It was everything about him. Castiel wanted to be just like him when he got bigger, if he ever did get any bigger. But, today, it was Balthazar's wings that were holding Castiel's interest.
It was a warm day in the personal heaven of a Scottish shepherd. The sun shone pleasantly on the green grass, making it shimmer as the wind rippled through it. The way the grass moved was identical to the strangely calm ocean just beyond a few rolling hills. In the distance, sheep could be heard grazing lazily and calling after one another. The shepherd's soul that owned this portion of heaven was currently abandoning his co-workers in order to run down to meet his soon to be wife, who was riding over to him on horseback. The memory was of little importance to Castiel and Balthazar, who were just here to enjoy the scenery and the weather.
At first, the scene had held much interest for Castiel. The young angel had never been to Earth before and he was very curious about everything, even if it was only just an illusion of Earth. Balthazar was content to stand at the top of one of the hills and watch in amusement while Castiel explored. For the first thirty minutes, Castiel had paddled around on his tiny feet to chase after a few white butterflies as they flitted between the yellow flowers nestled between the sweet clover and salty sea grass that covered the hillsides. After his small legs could carry him no longer, Castiel had laid down in the grass so his stomach was flat on the ground. He marveled at the odd feel of the long stems as the wind brushed them over his skin. He then noticed that the grass was much taller than he was when he was laying down so, for fear that Balthazar would not be able to find him again, he got back up to his feet.
It was around that time that Castiel had finally registered the sound of the sheep in the distance. His curiosity got the best of him so he scrambled his way up a taller hill to get a better look. Once he got to the top of the hill, he spotted the herd of sheep in the distance and let out a gasp of surprise. He took one big step to initiate his journey over to the sheep; only to be knocked off his feet by a sudden blast of wind that sent him tumbling head over wings over heals back down the hill. Castiel let out a wail of despair as he got to his feet and toddled back to the safety of his big brother, tears blurring his blue eyes and staining his round cheeks. He didn't have to go far; Balthazar had already flown to meet Castiel. With his big wings outstretched, he scooped his little brother into his arms and dried his eyes.
"Oh, come now, Cassy. Don't cry… Humans think its great fun to roll down hills." Balthazar crooned softly while running his fingers through Castiel's dark, messy hair. In all honesty, he was trying his very hardest not to laugh. Despite how upset he knew his sweet little brother was, the sight of him tumbling down a hill in the Scottish countryside was highly amusing.
Castiel continued to sob quietly as he shook his head. How he hated his own wings. He had been enjoying his outing with his big brother until they had to get in the way again. Why must they always get in the way? Castiel rubbed at his eyes with tiny fists in frustration, making angry whimpering sounds. His elbows hurt, his knees hurt, and his wings hurt. Everything hurt.
"You'll be alright." Balthazar chuckled before giving Castiel a kiss on the head. He stretched his wings out and with one powerful motion, they were airborne. Castiel made sure to tuck his own wings as close to his body as he could manage so they wouldn't catch the wind Balthazar was making with his powerful wings.
Balthazar finally landed on the top of the hill where he had been keeping watch on Castiel from. He crossed his legs and sat down on the grass, placing Castiel on his lap so he was facing out at the ocean. While Castiel slowly became entranced by the waves, Balthazar took the opportunity to give Castiel a quick look-over. He wanted to be sure that Castiel hadn't hurt himself too badly. He rolled his eyes and sighed in relief; just a few bruises and mussed feathers. The wind had blown the feathers on Castiel's wings into disarray.
"Cassy, your feathers are a mess." Balthazar announced loudly, snapping Castiel out of his daydreaming.
Castiel looked slightly alarmed for a minute before he looked up at Balthazar, his cheeks and eyes still red from tears.
"Aren't you going to fix them?" Balthazar asked Castiel expectantly after a few seconds of blank and clueless staring. Balthazar sometimes forgot that Castiel was a very literal person and, to get him to do anything, one would have to specify clearly.
Castiel pulled a face and shook his head quickly.
Balthazar sighed in slight annoyance. "You're big enough to do this yourself, Castiel. How do you expect to ever learn how to preen yourself properly if I keep doing it?"
Castiel frowned sadly, like he was about to start crying again. He focused his big eyes on Balthazar and gave him the most unintentionally pathetic and cute look. In all honesty, Balthazar knew that he was going to give in and fix Castiel's wings for him, but those eyes just-…
"Alright! Alright, I'll do it. Just don't start crying again." Balthazar submitted.
Castiel settled contentedly into Balthazar's lap and unfolded his wings politely.
Balthazar got to work; first carding his fingers through the feathers to get them back into their proper alignment. The wind had ruffled quite a few of them out of place.
Balthazar was about to mention this when he noticed that Castiel was sitting with his head tilted as far back as he could make it go, his mouth hanging slightly open, and his eyes slightly narrowed as he openly stared without shame at Balthazar. Castiel had a tendency to become super focused on whatever held his attention, and many angels found it a bit strange. He would always have this deeply contemplative look on his face whenever he didn't understand something or whenever he was analyzing something. Balthazar was sure that Castiel wasn't even aware that he did it.
"What are you thinking about, Cassy?" Balthazar asked, unable to resist the temptation to grab Castiel by the forehead and pull his head back further until he lost balance and fell back against his big brother's chest with a soft "ooph!" of surprise.
Castiel only looked mildly perturbed by his brother's antics, but only because they got in the way of his train of thought. He pushed himself to face Balthazar and stared at the two reddish brown wings folded at Balthazar's back in amazement.
Balthazar couldn't help but smile at the wonder in Castiel's eyes. He had to admit, being looked up to with such devotion was a great feeling. He loved being a big brother.
Castiel continued to stare at Balthazar's wings in wonder. He was so involved in his staring, that he didn't notice Balthazar's hand's wrapping around his sides until he was being lifted off of his big brother's lap and placed in the grass at Balthazar's right side. Castiel blinked once before turning to look at Balthazar. He tilted his head slightly in silent confusion, his eyes questioning. Balthazar simply grinned slyly down at Castiel. Before Castiel could register the smile, a large, reddish-brown wing flopped down over his head and covered his eyes.
Castiel let out a small squeal of surprise and the tiniest of giggles before he reached up to push Balthazar's wing off of his head with his tiny little hands. He quickly found this new game more fun when Balthazar's wing didn't move off of his head. Instead, it pressed down on him harder until he was pinned against the ground, trapped in warm feathers and cool grass.
Balthazar loved moments like these. It was always difficult to get Castiel to smile, much less laugh. He never had much of a sense of humor and he was so serious, even for a fledgling. Sometimes, though, if Balthazar was lucky, he could catch Castiel in the right mood at the right time and have some brotherly fun. It was just a matter of reading Castiel's eyes. Castiel rarely showed emotion in his face. All of his emotion was contained in his eyes.
Castiel squirmed underneath Balthazar's wing, trying to worm his way out. It was in vain; Balthazar had him pinned. This game was indeed very amusing. If he could not use his arms to break free, and if squirming out was also not an option, he would use his legs. Bracing two little feet against Balthazar's wing, Castiel pushed with all the might his small body could muster. He was overjoyed once he saw that his efforts were paying off; Balthazar's wing was being lifted off.
Balthazar wouldn't bother to tell Castiel that he was letting him go.
Castiel replaced his feet with his hands once he couldn't push Balthazar's wing any higher and sat up on the grass with a rather proud expression on his face. He had accomplished quite a feat by escaping from Balthazar.
Balthazar gave Castiel a sly smile and clapped his hands. "Well done, Cassy. Very well done. You performed quite admirably."
Balthazar was going to continue giving Castiel exaggerated congratulations, but he paused when he felt a pair of tiny hands running across his feathers reverently.
"You just can't let anything go, can you…?" Balthazar said with a tired, but affectionate sigh. He looked down to watch Castiel run his hands over his feathers in admiration. He was very gentle, almost as if he was handling something that might break if he touched it too hard.
"When I get big, I would like to have wings like yours." Castiel affirmed in his soft voice, more to himself than to Balthazar.
Something about Castiel's statement melted something in Balthazar's heart. Castiel had that effect on him. Balthazar had been a selfish, somewhat egotistical, fake angel before he met Castiel. Something about the innocence, naivety, and completely trusting nature of Castiel softened him, and never really stopped having the same effect.
"Not a chance, Cassy." Balthazar said with a soft smile.
Castiel looked up at his big brother with a sad, questioning look on his face.
"They're going to be better than mine." Balthazar said before giving Castiel a gentle pat on the head.
Castiel's eyes lit up hopefully. "Do you really believe that?"
Balthazar laughed and smiled at Castiel like he was the funniest little thing he had ever seen in his long life. "Of course I do, Cas. Why in the world would I ever lie to you? You know, Cassy. At the rate your wings are growing, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they get big and strong enough to fly any distance… even to Hell and back."
Castiel looked behind himself, unfolding one of his wings and looking it over closely. The feathers rippled slightly in the breeze and the sun caught the feathers at just the right angle to make them shimmer a deep blue for just a moment. He shifted happily and looked shyly down at his lap while folding his hands. A ghost of a smile spread across his lips. Big, strong wings were enough to look forward to and, maybe some day, his wings would carry him as far as Balthazar said.