I woke up to a hand stroking through my feathers. During the night I had turned so I was pressed up against Dean's side, my face buried against his collarbone so that I could smell his scent and reassure myself that he was still there, as I had done since we were younger, and one of my wings was flared out and extended over his body to keep him warm instead of the blankets. One of Dean's arms was around my shoulders, holding me close, the other hand firmly embedded in my wing.

It felt intimate, and safe, but we had always slept like that since we were very young. Even in sleep I had to guard him, and I hadn't even needed sleep last night but it had crept up on me – perhaps I could afford to now that our main enemy and the threat to my Hunter was dead.

I blinked, yawning sleeping, and tensed up as Dean's hand continued to stroke through my feathers. They were becoming damp in response to the touch, preparing to be groomed, but there was something in that touch that reminded me of the rough-edged desperation from last night. It was slower, hotter this time, and I shifted in place, pressing up against him more closely as his arm tightened around me.

"I always thought your wings were so cool, Cas," he murmured by way of a 'Good morning', and I made a half-noise, burying my face in his neck again and breathing deep. His scent calmed me down once more, but also made something flare up inside of me as his fingers moved closer to the bare expanse of my back. I flushed a deep red, hiding my face as I felt my wings growing moister. "Ever since I can remember – and I can remember when they were still white. And fluffy like a baby bird's."

I moved to look up at his face, found his eyes locking with mine, soft and still sleepy, half-lidded as he smiled at me. "I've always liked your eyes," I confessed, speaking without thinking, driven by the warmth in my chest at seeing Dean smile again. "They were dark for a long time."

The smile faded for a moment, before Dean sighed, rolling onto his side, his hand moving from my wings to my face and I whined softly at the loss, biting my lip as he brushed a thumb under my eye. My wing didn't move from its place as his blanket and I didn't want it to – for the moment, we had nothing to Hunt, nothing to follow, nothing to kill. We were free. We were safe.

"I'm not worth it, Cas," Dean said after a while, still watching my face as though he was searching for something. I don't know what it was he was looking for, but I prayed to the Father he found it.

"Does it matter?" I asked, brow furrowing, wing tightening on instinct around him. "I hatched for you – I have guided and guarded and loved you since you were born, Dean. Don't you dare tell me that my regard for you means nothing."

Dean blinked, pressing his lips together, and I knew he would argue with me until he was blue in the face. So I acted. I stopped thinking and worrying and I acted. What was the worst thing that could happen, anyway?

Dean's mouth was as warm as the rest of him, soft and yielding in a way his body wasn't. I didn't know how to kiss, had never learned or practiced it – never wanted to – but Dean was patient with me. My bottom lip yielded to the press of his teeth, sharp pain shooting down my spine and forcing me to arch into him, it was that strong. His fingers, deft and teasing, dug into my wing again, closer to the base of my spine than he had gone in an action that wasn't purely for grooming me and I gasped, mouth falling open for his tongue to slip inside. The friction was oddly pleasurable, warm and wet and I never wanted it to end – dug my nails into the back of his neck and held him to me as our bodies rocked together and my wing fluttered over him.

"Cas," he murmured against my mouth, his fingers slipping closer to where I was getting wetter, oil seeping out of the glands at the base of my wings, usually used for grooming, but they were producing oil at an almost alarming rate, heat and need settling low in the base of my spine and I gave a little half-whine, nodding eagerly when his fingers edged closer, found the small, wet nub at the base of my wing and pressed.

"Dean," I gasped, dropping my head to bury it in his neck again, trembling with sensation. It all felt so new, hot and needy in a way I had never felt before except in the lonely nights when Dean would be out with a girl and I could feel that heat through our bond, pulsing and demanding and strong. I had never known the touch of a lover, never felt the need for one because Dean was my all and no one could compare to him – my wings trembled where they rested on the bed and on his body, and fire – not like Azazel's taint, but pleasant and fierce – was clawing its way up my spine, setting my Grace alight. "Dean, please."

"Hush, Cas, I've got you," he whispered, sounding so warm and sure of himself and I pressed closer. Suddenly the touch on my wing was gone and I let out a soft, demanding sound that made him laugh, his breath ruffling my hair as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head. Then his fingers were lacing with mine, guiding my hand down to wrap around his erection. It was soft in my hand, smooth and burning hot and so hard, I could feel the throb of blood under my fingertips and I twisted my hand, pulling up to hear him hiss and moan, his hand returning to my neglected feathers again.

I shuddered, biting my lip hard enough to recreate the sting of his own teeth, leaning up to seek out his mouth again, to ground myself in his scent. His free hand carded itself through my hair, soothing and comforting and so gentle that it was making me shake. He felt so good, so perfect. I could feel my oil glands leaking down my sides at his touch, his deft and knowing fingers milking them, gentle but firm as he coaxed all of the oil out.

Then, there was a slick hand around my own manhood, trapped between my stomach and Dean's thigh, and without thinking I thrust forward, tightening my grip on him hard enough to make him moan, a low curse bitten back behind his teeth. I kissed him again, and again, matching the rhythm he set on me with my own hand. It was blissful, carnal in a way that felt completely decadent and pure at the same time, because it wasn't just sex. I loved Dean, adored him with everything that I am and ever will be, and he was doing the same.

I wanted more. I wanted to give him everything. But I didn't know how to ask. "Dean," I whispered, frustrated with my own failed tongue – my mind was racing but my mouth had been made dumb by his wicked lips and skilled tongue. So I flared my wings high, pushed myself up so that he rolled with me, straddling his thighs so that we could fall in line with each other. His hand felt good, but the two of us together when he spread his fingers and took us both in hand was perfect, so good in a way I had never expected.

I pressed down against him, forearms braced on either side of his head as we kissed so that my fingers could stroke through his hair, memorize the arch of his neck as he tilted his head back and allowed me closer to his neck. His fingers had found my wings again, this time the untouched one that hadn't been his blanket, the oil gland swollen and neglected and it was almost embarrassing how easily he managed to make oil spurt out of it, staining his fingers with the honey-yellow color. The room stank with my oil and the scent of his arousal and it seemed like his pulse was loud enough to hear all the way into the other rooms.

"Dean," I whispered, kissing his name into the sheen of sweat starting at the dip of his throat, licking up the salty moisture from his skin, savoring it because it meant that he was alive – we both were – and here with me and I was really having this. He was here and he was mine. "Dean, I -."

"Yeah, Cas," he replied, gasping out my name, and I felt myself flush hot all over at how wrecked he sounded – the low, throaty growl of his voice against my ear made my wings tremble and flare out, giving him all the access to them that he wanted. "Fuck, have your wings ever done this before?"

I shook my head – never so much at once – it was so new and almost scary in how violent the urges were, now. I wanted to wrap my wings so tightly around Dean, dig my fingers under his skin, cover his muscled torso and the vulnerable curve of his throat with my mouth, suck the skin purple.

"Dean." I wanted more, I needed it more than I could stand – the grip of his hand was wondrous, but too soft and gentle; I craved a tight clutch around me, something to ground me and force us so closely together that we became one, for however long he would have me like this. "Dean, please!"

He breathed out harshly, murmuring my name into the sweaty line where my hair became my neck, below my ear, his fingers removing themselves from my wing with one last long, hot stroke up the arch and along the bone before his wet hand covered the back of my neck, held me close to him as he spread his legs so that I could fall between – I hurried to move around him, wanting to be out of the way for wherever he decided to settle. And then his hand wasn't in my hair anymore, curling around the nape of my neck, but grabbing at my hand which still lay, fisted tightly in the pillows, by his face. His fingers were wet and slick with my oil, and I withdrew when I felt them, looking down into his eyes to try and read what he wanted me to do.

He was smiling, the lazy smile that meant everything was okay, that he was happy, and his eyes were no longer green anymore, overtaken by his wide pupils – cheeks flushed and lips swollen from my bites, shiny and wet, he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I could have stared at him forever.

He arched under me and I hurried to move so that he could, bracing myself on my free hand and lifting off of his body even though every instinct in me demanded I lay down, force him into the bed, rut until that fire in my belly had spread to each corner of my body and exploded out of me.

When Dean moved our hands lower, I hesitated, fingers gripping tight between his. Did he want me to take over where his hand had been? Show him what I liked – wanted? I didn't know what to do, I had always stayed by Dean's side except for the nights when he would bring a woman home, or go to her house and he would tell me not to wait for him. Those nights I had hated – restless, wanting, much like I felt now. I felt raw and aching in a way that was so much more violent and focused than those nights. I had never sought out a companion for this kind of relationship. I didn't know what to do.

That feeling grew when he didn't stop us there, but lower, letting my fingers dip between his spread legs, until my fingertips grazed something dark and secret – I flushed again at the idea of Dean letting me touch him there, when I was positive that no one else had. That he would give that to me was overwhelming and for a moment I froze.

"Are you certain?" I asked, my voice coming out sounding weak and shaky, my wings clenched tightly to my back, as I settled back on my knees between his legs.

He nodded. "Please, Cas," he whispered, letting my hand go so that only I was there, now, my knees pushed tight to the underside of his thighs, as he settled, pushing himself lower on the bed so that I would have more access to him.

My fingers trailed, hot and light, over the crease between his cheeks, until I felt flesh start to give way under my fingertips, muscle relaxing and letting in one of my fingers. He felt even hotter on the inside, as if that was possible, and his body felt like it was sucking me in, gripping so amazingly tightly that I was amazed I could fit at all, even something so small. The thought of pushing in with anything bigger made my Grace tense with anxiety and lust all at once.

"Does it hurt?" I asked, worried for him, my other hand running down the curve of his inner thigh, thumb rubbing gently at the tendon that connected his leg to the rest of him. His expression was tight, forehead creased very slightly but he didn't look to be in pain, for which I was grateful – I could never hurt him. I would rather die.

He shook his head, face smoothing out when I pushed deeper, meeting the eager rise of his hips as he braced himself, feet planting on the bed on either side of me, angled to meet my finger as it sank into him. "No, Cas," he whispered, sounding in awe of me. "It doesn't. Keep going."

I smiled down at him, the warmth in my chest merely getting worse, and leaned over him, pressing a kiss to his sweaty temple, nuzzling his cheek and the dip between that and his nose. Dean turned his face towards me and met my mouth, hand gripping tight into my hair as I sunk my finger as deep into him as it could go, curling it to stroke his insides on the way out, and slicking him up. Somehow then I understood that this was what he wanted – to be like a woman for me, slick and open so that I could be inside of him.

He wanted me as a mate. It amazes me now to think of it as much as it amazed me then.

His body gave way to my second finger as easily as the first, as though he was made for me, opening sweetly to my oil and my touch. I liked the idea of using my oil as lubricant, knowing his body – the darkest and deepest and most intimate part of him – would be marked with my scent, claiming him even if in such a private and secretive way.

Dean's kisses grew more fierce as his body stretched to accommodate my touch, wet fingers dragging through my hair, slicking it back, and my wings found their way to his hands again, brushing hot and hard and claiming and I knew he was staking his possession on me just as much as I was on him. I felt like the heat inside of my body was going to burst out of my mouth, into Dean – he was burning up underneath me and felt as though I was touching the sun.

The need was excruciating, felt like I was going to explode, and I whined, burying my face in his neck to try and ground me. "Dean, please, I need to -." What? What did I need? I wanted to be inside of him – I wanted to give him everything and wring pleasure from his body. I wanted to ruin him for anyone else, anything else he would ever have. I had to.

Dean gasped quietly, low moan dragging out of him when my fingers pressed up, against something that felt different than the rest of him, harder and much like one of my oil glands. It caused his body to seize in pleasure, heart skipping under my mouth. "Yeah, Cas," he whispered, legs spreading wider, dragging me down to lay closer to him, the tip of my erection just touching against where my fingers were still buried. "Go on. It's okay."

I kissed him again, fingers withdrawing, and he made a sound much like I had made when his fingers left my wings – I didn't want to leave him with that emptiness, and I'll admit I was a little rushed, aligning myself and pushing in faster than I would have, or have since. I now know the human body's need to adjust to their mate, but with Dean, his tight heat surrounding me and so desperately pulling me in; I thrust forward on pure instinct, hilting myself into him.

He felt like the touch of pure Grace, his soul faintly glowing underneath his skin as it reached out to me, seeking me out like an old friend and lost love. I could have wept – I wanted to, my face still buried in his neck, both of us shaking hard enough to make the bed rattle. It was perfect, that moment, the both of us wrapped up so tight, Grace and soul touching through our skin.

And when instinct demanded that I move, I followed it, rolling my hips to drag myself out, seeking to hit that spot inside of him again that made him seize up and gasp my name. "Cas," he cried out, head thrown back, and I knew I had succeeded, "yes. Yes." His breathing was getting ragged, heartbeat flying, fingers gripping me so tight and dragging down my back hard enough to hurt, to force me inside of him with more strength of ferocity. "Yeah, such a good boy, Castiel."

Yes. I was. I was bringing my Hunter – my mate – pleasure with my body. With my hands and my manhood and my mouth against his. He was so tight and hot, forcing the fire inside of my heart to spread out, pressure flaring outwards. I wouldn't last, even though I wanted to so desperately wait until he had had his pleasure also.

"Dean," I moaned, hoping to convey my desperation to him, how close I was, how much I felt as though I had to fly or fall. I held him tightly, wings dipping down to wrap tight around his body, as tightly to me as I could with my arms and my wings. "Dean, I can't – please -."

"It's okay, Cas," he murmured, sounding amused, pressing his mouth to the side of my face. "Come on, Angel, let me have it."

I wanted to give it to him. I wanted to give him everything.

The heat and release I felt when I stiffened, hilted as deep into him as I could go, was much like Azazel's fiery taint inside my head. But so much better, love and adoration coloring the fire a bright red and blue, and I clung to him as I shook through my orgasm, breathing in the sweat coming from his skin, listening to the fast thrum of his heartbeat. He bore my weight as I collapsed on him, wings trembling and breathing unsteady, emptying myself inside of him as I came, nuzzling close and just basking in his presence. I could feel his neglected hardness against my stomach, knew he hadn't felt this same sensation yet, and as soon as I had recovered enough to take him in hand, he was shaking apart underneath me within two strokes, three twists of my hand, gasping out my name once more as he held me just as tightly.

It seemed like forever before I regained control of myself, until the shaking stopped and I blinked open my eyes. I was still inside of him, his legs framing me and keeping me close, his deft fingers stroking through my wings. I lifted my head, searching out his eyes, found them closed, his face relaxed, breathing deep but he wasn't asleep yet. He looked more relaxed than I had seen him in years, content. And I had made him that way.

"Dean?" I whispered, nuzzling close to him again and burying my nose in his neck. I felt his head turn to place a kiss on my forehead, his hands forsaking my wings now to wrap around my shoulders, holding me close, and I felt so warm, glowing with happiness, and safe in his arms even though I knew it should have been the other way around. But there was nothing else to do. Azazel was dead. Sam was safe with Ruby. Dean was safe with me.

For another day the world was perfect.

"I love you too, Cas," he finally said when I felt lethargy overtake me, making my eyelids droop. My wings shivered in response to the words, scarcely daring to believe. One of his hands stroked through my hair and I listened to his steady heartbeat. "Thought you should know that."

"I do," I replied simply, smiling against his flesh. Mine. He was mine, now, and he would be forever. I would make sure nothing would take him from me until it was time for us both to go. "Sleep, Dean," I told him, placing my hand on his chest, over his heart. "I will keep watch."

He sighed heavily, tightening his hold a little. "Nah, Cas," he replied, voice already slurring a little as dreams tugged at his consciousness, sleep threatening to send him under. "Remember? You don't need to do that anymore."

And I did remember. He was safe, and he was mine. That was all I had ever wanted, and all I could ever ask for.

And the world was soft, warm, and my senses were dulling with sleep. It was perfect.

We stayed away for all of Sam's schooling, because even though Azazel was dead, there were people he had been in contact with. Dean wanted to wipe the slate clean and I could agree, even if I wanted to keep my Hunter close to me and never let him go again, let him settle into something like what had been ripped away from him in childhood, but Dean was stubborn and I had no more will to fight him that I did to hurt him.

We managed to catch Sam's graduation ceremony just in time for them to start the 'S's, and settled down right in the back of the packed auditorium – there were no seats left but that didn't matter to us. I allowed Dean to rest his back against my wing as I stayed close and watched the doors.

When Sam went up on stage, Dean cheered loudest, and I hid my smile against his shoulder.

Dean still had Sam's cell phone number and it wasn't three minutes after the end of the ceremony that he had it pressed up to his ear, huge grin on his face. "Congratulations, nerd," he joked quietly, his manner so different from the last time Sam and he had shared space, and I led the way out of the auditorium, into the large green lawn outside where I knew Dean would prefer to meet up with Sam, if we could. "Yeah, just outside. You think I'd miss this?"

I heard Ruby before Dean saw Sam – the demon chick that I had helped raise whirred loudly when she saw us and I turned in time for her to barrel her way into my arms, her chin pressed tight to my collarbone as my wings wrapped around her in return. She reeked of Sam, his breath on her hair and his scent covering her like a second skin. I knew what I must smell like in return, and she was smiling when we pulled apart enough for me to rest my forehead against hers, stroking a hand through her hair.

"Get a room," Dean muttered under his breath, but there was joy in his voice and then I smelled Sam, heard the steady thump of Dean hugging him and patting him on the back, heard the way Sam's heart stuttered a little in surprise and joy at having his brother there. "Well done, Sammy."

There were tears in his eyes when Sam parted from his brother, and he was smiling in a way I hadn't seen since he was very young. "Thanks, Dean. I…uh…" And he wiped the sleeve of his graduation gown – a strange thing, so billowy and almost silly-looking – across his mouth. "I can't believe you came."

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Dean replied, and I knew it to be true – we'd dropped everything when he learned that Sam's graduation would have been two days away, and drove non-stop. He wouldn't let me fly him; he had to be tired, but I couldn't see it from his face. "I…"

I knew what would follow would be a long and difficult conversation, for the both of them – they had not parted on good terms, barely as more than brothers, and so I tucked Ruby under my wing and began to lead her away. "They'll be safe," I promised her, knowing that I would be able to feel if Dean was distressed through the bond we shared. She still looked distrustful and a little uneasy, and I was proud of her for not forgetting her training.

"It's been a long time, Castiel," she said by way of response once we had cleared most of the students gathered, with their parents and friends and one or two Angels and Demons in the mix. I'm sure we may have looked a sight, Demon and Angel cuddling together and whispering under our breaths, but it didn't matter – our Hunters were reunited and I had missed Ruby, had hoped she would remember her training and keep Sam safe should danger ever befall him. "How have you been?"

"Azazel is dead," I said, knowing Dean would be telling Sam the same thing. Her eyes widened, and went black briefly with hate, her mouth twisting.

"Good," she said. "But how are you?"

We were on the very edge of the lawn when she asked me that, shade from the trees just touching our own silhouettes. Another perfect Californian day. We had never spent more than a day in California before and I had to wonder why. The weather was so pleasant, a lovely breeze that made me want to stretch my wings and feel the wind comb through my feathers like the gentle touch of my Hunter's hands.

"I am happy," I finally said to her, tilting my head down to look into her eyes. They had returned to the normal brown color. She had grown up so much from the young chick that I had helped to raise and trained. I wondered if the knife I had sliced into her side had left a scar. "How is Sam? How are you?"

"Well," Ruby said, smiling wide and proud of her Hunter. Did my face look like that when I thought of Dean? I didn't doubt it for a second. "Sam studies hard, and he hasn't forgotten. I made sure of that." At that, her voice went sad, her eyes cast downwards as her dark soul rolled inside of her. When I looked at her, I did not feel the revulsion with which I had seen Azazel's soul. She was so much gentler than he. "Have you come to try and get him to Hunt again?"

I sighed and shook my head, one wing extending out to cover her shoulders. "I cannot imagine a better place for Sam than here, learning, with you by his side. I think Dean has come to realize that, now. He's…he's better, now."

"You smell like him," she said, looking back up at me. "A lot."

"As do you of Sam," I replied with a smile, making her blush. "It'll be okay, Ruby," I added, turning to rest my forehead against hers once more until I felt her shoulders relax. "I promise."

"Cas!" Dean. I looked up at the sound of my name, saw Dean and Sam walking towards us, one of Dean's arms slung around Sam's shoulders which, given how much Sam had grown, made him bend down comically to walk beside his older but now-smaller brother. I smiled at the both of them and let Ruby go, stepping close to Dean's side as she went to Sam's. "We're gonna go grab so dinner, Angel, you coming?" he asked, one hand reaching up to rub gently at the back of my neck, against my skull and it felt so relaxing, and I pressed my nose to his neck on instinct and breathed deep.

"Of course, Dean," I said, as though anything else was pure idiocy.

He grinned. "Good." And then let me go, taking off back towards his car. Sam threw me a look before he was being dragged along, and I hoped that I could convey with my eyes that, yes, Dean was okay. We were okay. Ruby and I said no more as we followed the brothers to the Impala and drove away.

Dinner was…everything. Sam and Dean talked, a lot, about everything that had happened in the past four years of their lives. Not once did one of Dean's arm leave the back of my section of the booth, thigh pressed tight to mine, sitting close enough that one of my wings was trapped uncomfortably but I wouldn't have moved for Heaven and Earth.

When Dean told Sam that John had died, I felt a pang of sorrow for the man who had fought so hard to keep me by Dean's side, only to end up never knowing if his mission had ever been completed – had he still been alive with Azazel's soul inside of him? Father, I hope not.

Sam took it hard; how he could not have known I had no idea, but then again, Dean and I had practically fallen off the radar. Maybe he had thought we were dead also. And he ducked his head, hand clenched into a fist, breathing deep. I could read it in Ruby's eyes how much she wished to hold her Hunter, to comfort him in his sorrow, and I am sure that it was Dean's presence that held her back.

I nudged my foot to hers under the table. Go on.

Sam wrapped an arm around her with as little hesitation as Dean had with me, and pressed a kiss to her forehead. Dean didn't even break stride, sipping his beer and taking another bite of hamburger. I was proud of him, then – perhaps he would accept Ruby, now, as he had accepted me. Demons could love. I was as sure of it as I knew I could.

When he did look up at them, green eyes and tight mouth giving nothing away, I was quick to nuzzle into his side, forcing my wing out against his back and wrapping the other one tight around the both of us, resting in his lap. I couldn't see his face – mine was buried in his neck – but eventually he relaxed.

One step at a time. But I was proud of him.

That night we stayed in Sam and Ruby's apartment – Stanford was apparently very generous towards families who were privileged enough to own demons, and though he had a roommate apparently the man was never present and so Dean and I were allowed the second bedroom instead of the motel. It was late and I was tired, sleepy and relaxed, but I could not sleep. Dean was buzzing next to me.

I sighed sleepily, laying a wing over him and listening to the steady beat of his heart. "What's the matter?" I asked.

He sighed. "There's no other shoe."

…What? "Shoe?" I repeated, raising my head, hand flattening against his chest to support myself. He was staring at the ceiling, eyes wide open and not a little bit tired.

"No shoe," he repeated, shaking his head a little. Then, he blew out a breath, smiling wide. Maybe he had had more to drink than I'd originally thought. "Waiting to drop on us. I mean…small hunts, yeah, but nothing Sammy can't take out on his own. There's…there's nothing left. To get the drop on us, I mean."

"…Did you think there was before?" I hazarded, unsure of what else to say.

Dean didn't answer for so long, I thought he might have fallen asleep again. Then; "Do you wish it was different?" he asked. "Any of it? I've seen them, Cas, I know what they did at the facility mom sent you to."

"Not in the slightest," I whispered, burying my face in his neck as I used to do when we were children. His hand went to my hair, stroking it away from my face. "I wish you had a mother. I wish we hadn't lost so much time with Sam, and I wish John was alive. He would be as proud of you as I am. As we all are."

At that, he breathed out a shaky sigh, his hand leaving my head. "I guess," he said, turning towards me and instead wrapping his arms tight around me, pulling me against his chest. He was so warm, his heartbeat steady and slow, and sleep was finally starting to creep into his voice. "I don't know, though, this is kinda cool too."

I smiled, closing my eyes when his breathing started to even out. Yes. Finally. I entered into meditation with my brothers and sisters and felt their different joys as they slept close to their own Hunters, felt the occasional stirring as one had to invade on bad dreams, felt the small ebb and flow as each entered into and left the meditation.

Dean's sleep was happy and undisturbed, and I wrapped my wings tight around him, ignoring the small discomfort of his weight on one of my wings, and rested. Finally. Everything was perfect.