Genre: Teen!AU, romance, angst (at first), fluff

Characters: Dean and Sam Winchester, Castiel, Gabriel, Lucifer. Anna, Jo and other characters in minor roles

Pairing: Dean/Castiel

Rating: R

Spoilers: Castiel and Gabriel exist.

Warnings: Shameless wing kink, underage (17) sex, long prelude, possible trigger warnings for trans* folk (wing binding compared to chest binding). Possibility of oil gland!kink as it goes on. If it doesn't get it, this will be erased. =p Some will appear at once, some will take a while.

Summary: "Oh my God. That bet list was the worst thing you've ever come up with, Gabe".

"Now, now, it's not the list's fault! I just have insight".

"If it wasn't for it, I would never have thought about such things. It's bad enough being an earthbound angel, it's bad enough being considered a weirdo even by angel standards. Did I have to be gay as well? I mean, do I even represent a minority or is it just me out there?"

Chapter 1 – Of Blue Eyes and Angel Genes, and of an old House Fire

Every fairy tale starts with a "once upon a time", and this one doesn't beg to differ.

Well, once upon a time, the Human Race was young. They lived in caves and hunted animals for their skin and meat, blah blah blah, you know all that from your old textbooks. How the people went from that stage to the wonders of the ancient civilisations of America and the East and the Mediterranean, now, that's the mystery.

Well, a mystery to most.

The truth is, the Gods created angels long before they created humans. The Angelic Race had been watching over the Earth for centuries, like an older sibling looking after the new baby.

There came a time when angels got tired of watching and asked for a chance to walk the Earth, and their wish was granted. They visited the Human Race and saw how it worked. Some approved and others were disappointed. Some decided to forget they'd have ever seen mankind and went back to their old lives in heaven; one condemned it and fell into darkness for his disobedience; some were interested in it and decided to take care of it, like the Gods wanted; and some others loved it so much they decided to stay.

You know all the stories you hear about winged people in your country's lore and mythology? No matter where you're from, there's at least one legend. And it's most probably at least partially true.

At first the angels stayed on Earth to take care of humans and share their experiences. They lived freely among the people, sharing their power and knowledge with everyone. They taught humans to write and create, they talked to them about the Gods; and civilisation was born.

Angels are by default immortal, but life on Earth makes them weak. So those first Angels, the tutors of humanity, walk this Earth no more. Their descendants, though, are spread all over the world, living in the shadows. Both their first purpose and extraordinary power are lost in time; some remember their ancestors' way of life, and they aim only to help mankind; others live human lives, careful not to draw too much attention to themselves.

In both cases, angels are hidden from human eyes. In a world where everything supernatural is denied the right to exist, either by disbelief or instant extermination, they usually prefer to stay low. It's easier for some than others; you see, having an angelic heritage and, therefore, possessing angelic Grace and powers is like, let's say, having an ancestor with blue eyes: it's something you wish or wish not for your children to have, but you can never be sure whether they will have it or not.

For example, Rachel and Daniel Warren both come from an angelic bloodline. Rachel does not possess any powers or characteristics that would ever classify her as an actual angel, even though she has an amount of grace inside her and she's sensitive to angelic activity. Her younger sister, Sarah, is exactly the same. Rachel's husband, Daniel, was born with a pair of white wings on his back and the only power he possesses is the ability to camouflage himself to look human: a basic, instinctive defence mechanism that earthbound angels have developed through the millennia. Both Rachel and Daniel are happy to live among humans and they never contact the majority of their relatives. Daniel is in the Navy and Rachel is a dentist. They wouldn't have it any other way.

The only relative Rachel actually has stayed in touch with is her sister. Sarah is a lawyer and married to a paediatrician named Nazael Novak, also of angelic heritage. Nazael has the ability to heal people by touch alone; he doesn't use it very often at work, but he slips a small touch every now and then. He also doesn't get sick. Ever.

Nazael and Sarah Novak lead the same kind of unnoticed, everyday human life the Warrens do, and they're very proud of it. They treat their angelic heritage like… yes, let's repeat the previous example: like having blue eyes. It's just something that they have, and they feel no need to take advantage of it. People don't need angels anymore, they say, they have penicillin to heal them and the TV to worship. Both the Novaks and the Warrens treat any proud member of their bloodline with mistrust; humans don't believe in magic tricks anymore, why should the remaining angels poke the people's superstitions with a stick?

In both the Novaks and the Warrens' not so humble opinion, angels are soon going to be extinct in order to make room for the superior species, the Homo sapiens. They would choose to fall, if their Grace was strong enough to be directly connected to Heaven and they could actually fall. Sarah and Rachel have not talked to their older brother Luke since he discovered he was powerful enough to be linked with Heaven and he chose to take every advantage of it; they believe a 30-year-old man should be at least a little embarrassed to have two huge greyish wings attached to his shoulder blades (even their colour is unnatural; what kind of colour is grey?). They think Daniel is giving the best example: even Rachel has seen his wings only a couple of times ever since they got married. What reason is there to have them if you can't use them in public anyway? Of course, Luke doesn't have the same opinion, so he has chosen to become a computer engineer and move to a small town in Missouri whose name nobody even remembers; a town with a road leading to several cliffs, so he can fly around as much as he wants, a town where everyone knows each other so you must be pretty crazy to move there and have something unnatural in mind – something like turning yourself invisible and/or creating thunderstorms just because you can. Then again, Luke has always been kind of the black sheep in the family.

So that's pretty much the family of Rachel Warren, Sarah Novak and their husbands. Normal, everyday people, who make good money, meet respectable people, live in clean apartments and just happen to keep a big secret.

The point is, they really shouldn't be this surprised when Rachel's eldest, Michael, is born with a pair of golden wings on his back.

Luckily the kid has an instinctive good sense of defence mechanisms and he's able to mimic his father's camouflage abilities by the time he's 5 months old.

When Michael's brother, Gabriel is born three years later, Rachel starts to think Luke has been coming and spilling angel juice over her during her pregnancy. Gabriel is a kid who learns how to use his freakishly big tan wings faster than he learns how to smile, and that says a lot, considering the kid is grinning all the time, like he's keeping his own secrets. His parents actually start to get terrified when Gabriel's bottle starts materialising in his hands whenever he wants it – and they swear they've never bought him any lollipops, yet they often find the remains of one hidden underneath the sheets in his crib. Let alone the fact that he's the third person in their family with an unnatural wing colour – whatever happened to a normal, plain white?

Yeah, both couples have to acknowledge now that maybe, just maybe, being an angel isn't as simple as having blue eyes.

When Sarah gets pregnant, all she and her husband wish for during the next nine months is that at least their kid is normal-looking. When Castiel is born, they can't be more relieved. They got the blue eyes deal, alright; the boy's irises are like little pieces of ocean. He doesn't have wings, he doesn't miracle his bottle to his hands, and neither does he do any other weird tricks. Sarah and Nazael hope the bloodline ends with them, and that their kids can have the normal lives they couldn't.

The Warrens come and visit the Novaks as often as possible; they live in Kansas and it's quite a long way to drive to Nebraska, but at least the kids are already bonding.

While growing up, Michael doesn't develop any more angelic powers; he becomes a quiet kid who enjoys reading. His wings lose their strange colour and become a bright white by the time he's six. Gabriel, on the other hand, is out of control. He is probably the most terrifying troublemaker that ever visited his parents' worst nightmares. He takes pride and pleasure in his angelic nature; he does tricks that his parents have never heard of before, and his wings seem to grow darker instead of taking it the normal way and go white. He is extremely smart for his age and he keeps on pestering everyone. His parents are kind of reluctant to introduce him to his younger cousin at first, but when Gabriel finally meets Castiel, he seems to enjoy his company too much for his parents to ignore, and he finally finds other things to do than annoying the crap out of every grownup around him. He starts taking care of Castiel and he says he can't wait for him to grow up so they can actually play together. Castiel also seems to appreciate his cousin's presence; while he doesn't really react to Michael, when Gabriel's close he lightens up and laughs more than any other time.

Time passes and Sarah gets pregnant again. When she announces to Castiel that he's going to have a new little sibling at home, not only he doesn't get jealous, but he takes it as his personal cause to make his mum feel as good as possible and make sure the baby is comfortable inside her tummy.

Sarah is at the seventh month when she gets sick. Castiel is so scared that he doesn't sleep for two days and he keeps asking for Gabriel to do his magic and help his mum; of course, little Gabriel is not nearly as powerful to do anything like that. Castiel just keeps on believing, though. He's four years old at the time; his father is scared to death when he hears his son ask "What's the point of angels if we can't even help the people we love?"

That night, Nazael tells Castiel his aunt is going to come and take care of him, because he's taking Mum to the hospital. Castiel has a panic attack; he manages to escape his father, reach his mother's room and wrap himself tightly around her belly, promising he'll do anything he can to make her and the baby okay again. And then he cries his eyes out.

Till then, everyone believed that Castiel was the first of the bloodline to have no Grace at all. That night proves everyone wrong. Castiel's subtle, so far invisible little Grace explodes when he sees his mother helpless; a white light blinds everyone in a two-mile radius; the Grace of every angel in the state is neutralised for about a week; Castiel's little sister Anna is born two months early, and she looks like she's laughing instead of crying; Sarah is healed immediately.

And Castiel collapses in his mother's arms, with a small pair of almost featherless, fledgling wings sprouting from his back.

Somewhere else…

John Winchester would give anything to be able to make up his mind about this.

Stay in a half-damaged home full of memories of a wife and mother, and constantly feel the pity of your neighbours on your back, or move somewhere new, make a new start, and take away from your kids the one thing beside their father that they have left in this world?

In the end, he decides to fix the house and tolerate the sympathetic looks. Damn, he's not gonna teach his sons to run away.

It takes him two months to rebuild everything the fire destroyed; well, everything house-related. He can't bring his wife back. At least, he's got support; Bobby Singer comes to his aid every day after his work in the garage. Sometimes he brings with him that strange woman that moved here recently, Ellen Harvelle; she brings her baby daughter with her and John doesn't ask if there's a Mr Harvelle to take care of the kid; if she wants to leave something behind her, it's her business. Anyway, little Jo is the same age as Sam, and Dean seems to be able to handle two babies as good as he can handle just one. John is at least thankful that Sam isn't going to remember his mother's death, and that Dean found a purpose after it in his brother's face.

After the house is rebuilt, life goes on for the remaining Winchesters. It's harder and there's a Mary-shaped hole in it, but they have a proper home again, and now the family's bond is even stronger. John spends his days working at Bobby's garage and he makes sure to work overtime, so that his boys can have everything they want. Ellen takes care of the boys all day, until she needs to work her bar; John takes over at night, and he takes care of Ellen's daughter, Jo, more often than not. He starts studying the structure of old, rare cars and he plans on making a business out of it, maybe become Bobby's partner; his nights are usually beer and car books. Dean is sent back to the kindergarten and everything seems to fall back in place.

Tragedies happen, and then life goes on, because it can't do anything else.

Back to the angels' life

Even though Gabriel is openly excited about the reveal of his cousin's Grace, Castiel is afraid to show his own joy. His parents seem very unwilling to accept the new turn of events, especially after the terrible realisation that Castiel's Grace made its brief, loud appearance and then locked itself into oblivion again; the kid can't hide his wings to save his life. His uncle Daniel and his cousins spend hours over hours trying to teach him a body function as simple to angels as walking, but Castiel proves himself completely useless at that. Gabriel also tests his cousin's possible other abilities; still nothing.

Castiel might not understand exactly why he's supposed to be ashamed of his wings and hide them, but what he does understand is this: his life isn't going to be easy. His wings are not going to stay "chicken-sized" (his father's quote) for ever, and the larger they get, the harder it will be to hide them. He spends a couple of months at home, until his new, fragile bones become a little stronger and he grows his proper feather structure. His mother splits her time between new born Anna and Castiel; she tries to ignore the ash-coloured feathers that are shyly growing on her son's wings and remind her of Luke.

When Castiel's wings are in a better condition – not exactly grown, per se, because they still are ridiculously small, even for a kid his age, but when they're just strong enough to take the hardships – Sarah binds his wings to his back for the first time. It's uncomfortable and the strange shape that is formed on Castiel's back needs to be camouflaged under layers of clothing, but it works.

Castiel accepts the new situation very stoically for a four-year-old. He doesn't tell anyone except Gabriel, but the only thing that makes him handle this entire thing is the thought that at least, maybe one day he will have wings that are big and white and strong like Michael's. He can only hope for now. Being a keeper of a secret so much bigger than him, he ends up spending all his time away from people; he only cheers up when he takes care of baby Anna, or when Gabriel is at home. The rest of the time he spends at his room, usually reading books way above his age, or doodling. He's got talent, but his parents start to get worried about his complete lack of socialisation skills.

Soon, they realise that they have only one thing to do: move closer to Castiel's cousins, so that he can at least be happy more often. Plus, they're doing the Warrens a favour and giving Gabriel something to do in his free time.

It's a week before Castiel's fifth birthday when the Novaks move to Lawrence, Kansas. They have found a house that is quite small compared to their old place, but it's in a neighbourhood that looks good enough; also Castiel loved the bedroom in the attic and, since it was the first time he showed any emotion during all the house presentations, his parents decided they had to get it. Baby Anna gets a room of her own, too, or at least she will have it as soon as she's old enough to leave her parents' bedroom.

Castiel's birthday pass quite quietly. His aunt and uncle are there, and they bring him books. Michael has picked them and he tells Castiel the stories and their right order he's supposed to read them in. Gabriel just takes him aside after they cut the cake, and he gives him a present that he made himself: it's an old shirt of his, with two holes cut in the back; Gabriel calls them wing-sleeves. He used to wear it when he was Castiel's age, and it doesn't fit anymore, but he has kept it because he loves the bright blue colour of it; he says he decided to give him this one because it reminds him of Castiel's eyes. He makes him swear he'll keep it a secret and spends the rest of the day trying to make him feel as good as possible.

That same night, when the rest of the family is gone and his parents and sister are asleep, Castiel takes off the uncomfortable top of his jammies and wears Gabriel's present. To be sure, he wraps himself with his blanket so that nobody can see him from across the street. He moves close to the round window by his bed and takes one of the books he just got; the lamplight from the street is perfect for reading. Castiel sits close to the glass so that he can feel the cold of December through it and wishes it will snow in time for Christmas.

He sits there reading for about an hour, when he notices a flashing light from across the street. In the top floor of the house right opposite of theirs, there's a boy about Castiel's age with a flashlight sitting by the window. He's got light hair and his freckles are visible even through the distance. He waves at Castiel.

Castiel waves back and smiles.

The boy smiles back and turns suddenly, like he heard something behind him. He looks back at Castiel, waves goodbye, turns off the flashlight and runs from the window and back inside.

Castiel stays there, staring, for a long time. It's the first time he lays eyes on Dean Winchester.

And it's now when their clock starts ticking.